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of which he actually took the pains of translating several times over. He also made several sketches of The Light of Nature,' * before he finally decided on the method he should pursue ; and after he had ultimately arranged and digested the materials, twice transcribed the whole copy of that part of the work which was published before his death, in his own hand. As the personal and especially the literary habits of men of distinction are always interesting, we shall insert the following minute and circumstantial account of our author's.
'Mr. Tucker, though by no means of an athletic form, or a robust constitution, possessed great bodily activity. He always rose early in the morning to pursue his literary labors. During the winter months, he commonly burnt a lamp in his chamber for the purpose of lighting his own fire. After breakfast he returned again to his studies, for two or three hours, and
passed the remainder of the morning in walking, or in some rural exercise. As he was remarkably abstemious, he lost but little time at the table, but usually spent the early part of the evening in summer in walking over his estate, collecting information on all agricultural subjects from his tenants, and committing the results of their practical experience to paper. In winter, he completed the regular measure of his exercise, by traversing his own apartment, and after accomplishing the distance he had allotted to himself, he employed the remainder of the afternoon in reading to his daughters. In London, where he resided some months in every year, his time was apportioned, nearly in the same manner, between study and relaxation; and he commonly devoted much of his evenings to the society of his friends, relations, and fellow collegians, among whom he was particularly distinguished for his dexterity in the Socratic method of disputation. His walks were chiefly directed to the transaction of any incidental business, always choosing rather to execute his own commissions, even of the most trivial nature,
* It is said in the Life, (p. viii.) that he printed one of these sketches in the form of a dialogue.' We doubt whether he ever printed any sketch of his work excepting the Fragment abovementioned, which his biographer appears never to have seen. It consists, for the most part, of the long chapter on Freewill with a running commentary by Cuthbert Comment, who performs the part of an interlocutor. Cuthbert calls in question several of the positions, holds them up in different points of view, and sometimes is made to attack the author himself with a good-humored raillery.
than to entrust them to a third person. This singularity arose from the construction of his mind, which was rarely satisfied without some object in view; and when no inducement presented itself, he would sometimes walk from Great James Street, where he resided, to St. Paul's or to the Bank, to see, as he would good-humoredly observe, what it was o'clock.' — Vol. 1. p. X. Mr. Tucker
to have had but little intercourse with the distinguished scholars of his day. There are however one or two allusions to letters of his still existing, on literary subjects, which leave us to regret that his biographer did not make more use of them in, drawing up the memoir. For several years previous to his death the was troubled with a weakness in his eyes, which gradually brought on cataracts and terminated at last in total blindness. This affliction, the greatest which could befall a man of his pursuits, he bore with a characteristic cheerfulness, diverting himself not a little with the blunders into which he was sometimes betrayed by his infirmity. With the aid of his daughter, and some mechanical contrivances for writing, he still went on with his work until, in 1774, the whole was ready for the press. Before, however, the necessary arrangements were concluded for its publication, he was seized with an illness which proved fatal ; and he died, as he had lived, with perfect calmness and resignation.
Here we must say that a recent and pretty careful examination of Mr. Tucker’s great work has materially lowered our estimate of his abilities as a metaphysician and moral philosopher. He has thrown together, it is true, a multitude of apt and amusing illustrations ; his practical reflections on most subjects are valuable; and there is also an amiable and winning spirit of optimism running through every thing which he has written. But he is not a profound thinker ; notwithstanding all that he has said about his microscope, he does not discriminate accurately ; his views are not comprehensive; he has no system. He professes to be a disciple of Locke ; and yet it would be difficult to name a single writer in the whole compass of English literature, who in his general manner, or in the qualities of his mind, less resembles that great man. The original doctrines and conjectures which he has hazarded, those for example which respect the corporeity of the mental or
gan, or which make the rational faculty a secondary property resulting from the composition of spirit with fine ganization, and his dreams about the vehicular state and the mundane soul, are curious only from their extravagance. The chapter entitled “The Vision’ is unquestionably the most remarkable part of the work, evincing at the same time a well stored and highly imaginative mind, and abounding in exquisite touches of nature and humor. It is by this, as his admirers have said, that his reputation as a man of genius must stand or fall.
There is a moral defect in Tucker's writings which we must not pass over in silence. The weak sides and inconveniences of every rule are pointed out and dwelt upon until a sort of skeptical uncertainty is introduced. One is almost forced to acknowledge with Sterne, that, after all, there is not so much difference between good and evil as the world is apt to imagine. As a natural consequence of this, the doctrine is continually insinuated, and sometimes openly maintained, that, however we may speculate in our closets, we are never to feel ourselves called upon to make war on popular errors, or prevalent abuses, or to disturb in any way the existing order of things. For this reason, more, we suspect, than from any sense of his preëminent ability, Tucker always has been, and always will be, a favorite with those, who, without absolutely abandoning their principles, wish to have just so much doubt cast upon them as will relax their strictness. What he has advanced under the head of esotericks and exotericks, or on having one doctrine for the learned, and another for the vulgar, may be consistent, perhaps, with an amiable temper, humane offices, and a philosophical moderation ; but not, with sincerity, or a hearty zeal for the truth, or a willingness of self-sacrifice, or a proper respect for or sympathy with the common mind.
of the literary merits of this work all that we can say is, that the author's sprightliness and good humor, and his happy talent for illustration, are to be set off against his want of method, his diffuseness, and the loose and inharmonious structure of his almost interminable sentences. His plan is to begin by giving an account of human nature as it exists in this world ; then to speak of its capacities with respect to a future life ; and then of what
may pected either here or hereafter from the government and
providence of God, so far as these are unfolded by the light of nature. Afterwards, he calls in the aid of revelation, investigates its foundation and evidences, explains wherein revelation and nature differ and wherein they agree, and proceeds to consider under their blended lights some of the most interesting questions respecting the divine economy, and human duty, trial, and destiny. Over this wide field we cannot think, of course, to follow him, but must content ourselves with calling attention to a few passages.
The following is Mr. Tucker's explanation of the manner in which the mind acts on the muscles.
Perhaps there lies a mighty weight of some subtle fluid thrown from our animal circulation, and bearing constantly against the orifices of our nerves, but prevented from entering by certain little sliding valves kindly provided by nature for our use : the mind then has nothing more to do than draw aside the valves, and in rushes the torrent. The mind in this case works like the miller of an overshot mill; he has shoots lying over every one of his wheels, stopped by flash-boards at their upper ends, against which the water lies bearing, always ready to drive the wheels whenever it can find a passage : so the miller by drawing a little board, which any child might pull up with a finger, turns the stream upon this wheel or that as he pleases, and twirls round a massive stone which he could not stir with both his arms. But as comparisous seldom go on all four, the mill and the human machine differ in one respect; the miller, when he takes up his flashes, lays them, it may be, on the bank, goes whistling into his mill, and thinks no more till his grist is ground, for the water will work on for ever, unless he shuts it out again : but the valves used by the mind fall back again of themselves when the mind withdraws her activity. Therefore if you would point with your hand at some object for any time, you must continue to exert yourself all the while : for the moment the mind forbears her volition, the valves close, the stream ceases to flow upon the brachial muscles, and the arm, no longer supported, falls to your side. Then again the likeness returns upon disorders in each : for should an eel wriggle under any of the flash-boards, this might give the water a passage without any act of the miller : or should some flood buoy them quite out of their places, and pour down a larger stream than usual, the wheels might turn with more violence than the miller could throw upon them at other times. So some foulness of our juices may work under the valves, keeping them open whether we will or no; or the boiling of a fever may stretch VOL, XI. N. S. VOL. VI. NO. III.
them beyond their natural width, and produce convulsions stronger than any thing the mind can effect by her volition.' Vol. I. p. 60.
Again he says;
"Were I permitted to conjecture in a matter wherein nothing better than conjecture can be had, I should suppose spirit naturally penetrable, but capable of rendering itself solid upon occasion with respect to particular bodies, and that hereon our activity depends. I have formerly given my reasons for imagining that the force wherewith we move our limbs is derived from the animal circulation rushing into the muscles through certain nerves, and that the orifices of these nerves are provided with stoppers, which the mind draws up at pleasure to give the animal spirits admittance : now what should hinder our conceiving these stoppers pushed up by little hairs or fibres whose other ends lie within our spiritual part, which by its natural penetrability admits them into the space where itself resides? but, upon the mind rendering herself solid with respect to any particular fibre it is driven forward, thereby lifts up the stopper, and opens
into the nerves ; until, volition forbearing to act, the penetrability returns, the fibre, no longer pressed, falls back to its former station, the stopper following closes the passage, and muscular motion ceases. Vol. 1. pp. 439, 440.
Some of our readers may be reminded by these extracts of what took place in the Vision after the German doctor's luminous exposition of the distinction between mechanism and organism. 6“ I am a little suspicious,” says Locke, “that my boy does not fully comprehend you yet.' _“No?” cries the venerable, in surprise.
“ He must be a blockhead, yea a numskull, not to say a beetle, nor yet a blunderbuss, if he does not. For a more favorable, perhaps the most favorable specimen of what our author has done for metaphysics, we would refer to the whole chapter on the Existence of Mind.'
Mr. Tucker was a believer in the limited duration of future punishment, and in the chapter on that subject reasons very characteristically on the practical tendency of the doctrine, as held by him and other Restitutionists.
'Let us suppose, then, we could know for certain that the duration of future punishment were precisely one thousand years : what encouragement could this give to the sinner? Is not this length far greater than that of any enjoyment he can