Page:An Academic Sketch.djvu/37

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34
The Romanes Lecture 1892

Five of these six great men, it may probably be said with truth, have received, and are receiving still, their due. But can this be affirmed of the last, who is, however, estimated by some as the greatest of them all? The case of Butler is indeed peculiar. He has not, like some other authors, been borne down by bulk: his whole works hardly exceed the dimensions of a three-volume novel. His 'noble intellect' is frankly commended by one of our sceptical writers[1], who evidently accords to him the old funereal eulogy si Pergama dextrâ Defendi possent. His strong hand for years together held James Mill on the brink of the atheism, into which he eventually fell. He, who is among the most circumspect of philosophers, has asserted, by a kind of prophetic anticipation, some of the most daring dicta of modern science and theology. Yet not even a single morsel of his writings has ever been translated into a single foreign tongue[2]. And in the really important treatise of Zart, to which reference has already been made, we have a list of no fewer than forty-eight British writers, in connection with the influence they had exercised on German philosophy in its plastic stage: but among those forty-eight the name of Butler is not found. And yet where is the writer who has entered so profoundly, and with such measured strength, into the constitutive or governing laws applicable to moral conduct, that is to say for the whole rational life of man; or who has laid

  1. Miss Hennell, On the Sceptical Tendency of Butler's 'Analogy'.
  2. This assertion requires correction: see Note II at end.