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stronger (we must use a new term for an unnoticed power) is construction than abstraction.'-P. 163.
It is said to be a frequent consequence of the discovery of an important truth, that not only does it at once recommend itself to the understandings of mankind, but every man feels as if it were quite familiar to him, and only wonders how he had never happened to perceive and proclaim it. Apparently Mr Douglas bas conceived that the mere mention of the power which he calls construction, or the plastic power, was all that was necessary to secure its permanent reception into systems of mental philosophy; for he has dispensed with giving us any explanation of its nature. Nor can we say that we are able, from an examination of the different passages where the mention of it occurs, * to supply the deficiency. The following is that which seems to contain the fullest description of it :
• But the greatest oversight of all, (and with regard to this there is no exception,) is the nearly entice omission of the constructive process of the mind, and the consequent difficulties that arise respecting abstraction. Now, it is construction that is the remarkable process; abstraction is merely a partial untying of that knot which the mind has complicated for itseli. All our perceptions and sensations, all our notions of suggestion, and the reflections of our own thoughts, enter the mind singly; and if abstraction could arrive at that limit, which, however, it can scarcely ever hope to reach, of restoring them to their primitive simplicity and unmixed individuality, all that it would effect would be merely to reach the point from which the mind originally set out. If there were no faculty like construction, which united, there would be no need of abstraction to disunite.'—P. 250.
From any thing we can divine of the nature of the power of construction, here alluded to, we cannot perceive how it differs from the principle of association. At all events, they are so like, that it would not have been too much to expect that Mr Douglas himself should have enabled us to discriminate them.
We regret that, in our account of this work, we have so often felt ourselves obliged to use a tone of dissatisfaction. The author is of what we reckon the orthodox school of metaphysics. He is free from all quackery and affectation; he is no setter-forth of strange technicalities. If he is obscure, (as he too often is,) be is not so sor purposes of mystery and imposition. The work is throughout coinposed with taste and elegance;—it is easy, natural, and varied. Indeed, we are not without some suspicion that Mr Douglas has been rather more intent on attaining the graces
* See pages 173, 203, 246, 253, 300.
of fine writing, than on presenting distinct notions and lucid expositions. Yet he is never forced or artificial. Nor, on the whole, should we pronounce him wanting in judgment; at least we should feel inclined to place much more confidence in the soundness of his conclusions, than in the regularity or correctness of the process by which he arrives at them. Of those reflections of a more contemplative cast in which he occasionally indulgessuch as evince attentive observation and deep feeling rather than skilful reasoning-rather a perception of the beautiful and the good than of the true—we have given some specimens, and should have been at no loss for more, had our limits permitted us to extract them.
Art. III.-). Speeches delivered at a Public Meeting for
the Formation of a British India Society, held in the Freemasons' Hall, Saturday, July 6, 1839. The Right Hon. Lord Brougham in the chair. London : Printed
for the British India Society. 1839. 2. British India Society : Reasons why it is the interest of
every person in the United Kingdom to promote the objects of this Society. Published by the Committee of the So
ciety. London. September : 1839. 3. An Appeal from the Inhabitants of British India to the
Justice of the People of England : a Popular Enquiry into the Operation of the System of Taxation in British India. By John CRAWFURD, Esq. London: 1839.
room for rational improvement is so great, that any person, really master of the case, would know that much must be lost, whilst nothing is to be gained, by running off into ' extravagant misrepresentations or conclusions. This sentiment is emphatically true with respect to our empire in India. It is equally certain that that knowledge of the principles and practical working of the administration of our vast possessions in that quarter-the attainment of which, in any degree satisfactory to themselves, the ablest of those who have zealously pursued it from their earliest manhood, have found sufficient to occupy the best years of their lives*—is not to be arrived at
This observation is especially applicable to the Land-Revenue. Every
VOL, LXX. NO, CXLII.
per saltum-by the mere impulse of the most sincere philanthropy: still less is it to be gathered from the lips of declaimers at public meetings, or from the pamphlets. of partisans. There is not, in truth, any royal road to this knowledge more than to geometry : it must needs be painfully learned; and those, however honest, who will form headlong conclusions, either on their own very insufficient information, or on the ex parte statements of others, who have clients to serve or old grudges to pay off
, will assuredly fall into much error;--will make themselves, and, in some degree, the general cause of benevolence, ridiculous; and if they are happily prevented, by calmer and wiser men, from doing any considerable mischief, will certainly miss of good.
These considerations have sprung from the perusal of the publications before us. The first two are the manifestoes of a society which was established in July last, with the benevolent design of bettering the condition of our fellow-subjects—the 'natives of British India. The last is the work of a gentleman, (who, we observe, is a member of the society's Committee of Management,) known to be intimately acquainted with the history and present condition of the Indo-Chinese nations; but whose residence, during his employment in the East, having been almost exclusively confined to the Malayan peninsula and islands; and his short service to the west of the Ganges, to the medical staff; he does not possess, as we shall presently show, that measure of information respecting the difficult subject which be has treated, which alone could render him a safe guide to his colleagues and the public.
We would premise two other observations. First, we think that the Society, the names of some of whose members are an ample guarantee for their individual philanthropy—and which states, in its committee's address of July 1839, that it will suggest, and labour to secure, the delay of all specific plans
of amelioration, until every doubt respecting the nature and • extent of alleged existing evils, and the necessity of remedy•ing them, is entirely removed'--would have acted both wisely and charitably, is, in this early stage of its endeavours to ob
man who has long been employed in the management of the revenues of • Bengal,' says Mr Shore, in his Minute of 10th Feb. 1790, will, if candid,
allow that his opinion on many important points has often varied, and that • the information of one year bas been rendered dubious by that of another.' The select committee of the House of Commons, which drew up the fifth report, remarks on this passage and its context, that they have no reason 'to suppose that the intricacy of the subject is overrated.'
the improvement of the navigation of the great rivers—all these malters have been despised.'
Here are two representations of the same things, one painted by the chairman, and the other by the travelling secretary of the British India Society; both of which cannot possibly be true. And if the reports given in the public prints are to be believed, Mr Thompson's metropolitan picture is timid and faint in its colouring, when compared with that in which he depicts the enormities of British Indian domination to the easier credulity of his provincial audiences. But how can Lord Brougham believe, as firmly, he tells us, as he believes that he was bodily present in Freemasons' Hall, that the natives of • India owe a boundless debt of gratitude to the Company and the
people of England, unless he utterly disbelieve the travelling secretary's account of what the same parties have done, and left undone, in that country? Happily, however, there is nothing very distressing in this dilemma. Mr Thompson's picture is not like enough to be even a tolerable caricature.
· The revenue • from the land,' so far from fast failing,' is generally on the increase; and it is satisfactory to find, that notwithstanding the heavy expenses of the war in Affghanistan, now happily concluded, it will not be necessary to open a loan. If the manu• factures of the country bave dwindled,” it is solely because the steam-engines and spinning-jennies of Manchester and Paisley have overworked and undersold the native handicraftsman-aresult assuredly beneficial to the great body of consumers. The expression that the fruitful field has become a wilderness,' has all the beauty of Scripture but its truth; the fact being diametrically the reverse. Even so long ago as 1787, Mr Shore could say— with respect to the past I am, from my own observation, • as far as it has been extended, authorized to affirm, that, since
the year 1770, cultivation is progressively increased.' Since the date of the permanent settlement in Bengal, Bebar, Orissa, and Benares-since the acquisition of the provinces in the northwest-hundreds of thousands of acres have been reclaimed. In every district, as sportsmen too well know, the tiger and the wild boar have been dispossessed from the fastnesses of centuries. At the one extremity of the enormous presidency of Bengal, the lions which, within the memory of man, prowled up to the gates of Delhi, are now rarely to be found on the skirts of the desert, two hundred miles from that city; and where the waters which wash its walls, and afterwards mingle with those of the Ganges,
* Minute of 18th Sept. 1789. Fisth Report.