Page:Blackwood's Magazine volume 050.djvu/561

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1841.]
527
The Crisis of Modern Speculation'.

ment of your walls sufficient to let the troops land; or to employ the batteries, and take off their fire from the troops on their landing."

" But the attempt to take it by a regular siege would expose the assailants to the British fleet in their rear."

" A strong fleet of the enemy covering the attempt, might secure the besiegers; but the whole would probably be tried by coup-de-main. It might take forty or fifty thousand men to make success probable. But if such a force could once land, and avail themselves of a breach in the walls, made by the concentrated fire of their ships, the contest might be more than doubtful."

" But recollect the bravery of British troops."

" I am fully aware of it. I have fought at Ligny and Waterloo. They are a heroic army the only force on earth whom I might call an army of grenadiers; but recollect what the garrison of Gibraltar would have to do. Supposing them to amount to 6000 men, they would have to defend some miles of fortification—to defend a breach into which an overwhelming fire from the ships' batteries was pouring, until the moment when the troops mounted it. They would have to keep down a miscellaneous population, probably bribed; they would have a town in their rear full of combustible merchandise, and which a few shells would set in a blaze. And if the enemy broke in on any quarter of this great circuit, your troops must fight them from street to street, and from road to road, with increasing numbers constantly against them; and no citadel, nor any place of strength whatever inside the walls, to rally upon."

" I still think that no force of Europe will ever venture upon it."

" Certainly none, while England is wise enough to retain the command of the sea. The attempt would require fifty sail of the line, and fifty thousand men. But it will be made in the first great war of Europe. You have only to be prepared ; strengthen your ramparts, plant them with heavier guns, make internal defences, build a citadel, and, on the first alarm of war, quadruple your garrison.'


THE CRISIS OF MODERN SPECULATION.


The great endeavour of philosophy, in all ages, has been to explain the nature of the connexion which subsists between the mind of man and the external universe: but it is to speculation of a very late date, that we owe the only approach that has been made to a satisfactory solution of this problem. In the following remarks on the state of modern speculation, we shall attempt to unfold this explanation; for it forms, we think, the very pith of the highest philosophy of recent times.

It will be seen that the question is resolved, not so much by having any positive answer given to it, as by being itself made to assume a totally new aspect. We shall find, upon reflection, that it is not what, at first sight, and on a superficial view, we imagined it to be. A change will come over the whole spirit of the question. Facts will arise, forcing it into a new form, even in spite of our efforts to keep it in its old shape. The very understanding of it will alter it from what it was. It will not be annihilated—it will not be violently supplanted—but it will be gradually transformed; and this transformation will be seen to arise out of the very nature of thought—out of the very exercise of reason upon the question. It will be granted, that, before a question can become a question, it must first of all be conceived. Therefore, before the question respecting the intercourse between mind and matter can be asked, it must be thought. Now, the whole drift of our coming argument is to show that this question, in the very thinking of it, necessarily passes into a new question. And then, perhaps, the difficulty of answering this new question will be found to be not very great.

This consideration may, perhaps, conciliate forbearance at the outset of our inquiry at least. Any objections levelled against the question as it now stands, would evidently be prema-