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no more in fashion, and will be still nians to assist him by mutual consulte less while the least vicious of these ation, was looking on the port and cimen preserve only one principle which tadel of Munychia, considering it a they call honour,-a principle which while, he turned to his companion, exonly keeps them from not doing what claiming, “ How blind is man to fun they deem a low action, while they turity! For, did the Athenians foresee openly laugh at the love of country what mischief this will do their city, ridicule those who are zealous for pub- they would even eat it with their own lic ends --and when a well-intentioned teeth to get rid of it;" a prediction man asks what will become of their verified more than two hundred years posterity? They reply, “ Then, as afterwards. A similar prescient view Now!" But it may happen to these was conceived by Thales, when he persons themselves to endure those evils desired to be buried in an obscure which they believe are reserved for others. quarter of Milesia, observing, that that If this epidemical and intellectual dis- very spot would in time be the Foruin order could be corrected, whose back of the Milesians. effects are already visible, those evils The same genius displayed itself in might still be prevented; but if it Charlemagne. As this mighty soveproceeds in growth, Providence will reign was standing at the window of a correct man by the very revolution castle by the sea-side, observing a Nor. which must spring from it. Whatever man fleet preparing to make a descent, may happen indeed, all must turn out tears started in the eyes of the aged as usual for the best in general at the monarch, and he exclaimed, “ If they end of the account; although this dare to threaten my dominions while cannot happen without the punishment I am yet living, what will they do of those who contribute even to general when I shall be no more !" a melangood by their evil actions." Leibnitz, choly prediction of their subsequent in the seventeenth century, foresaw incursions, and the protracted miseries what occurred in the eighteenth. The of the French nation during a century. passage reads like a prophetic inspira- Erasmus, when at Canterbury, be tion, verified in the history of the actors fore the tomb of Becket, observing it in the late revolution, while the result, loaded with a vast profusion of jewels, according to Leibnita's own exhilara- wished that those had been distributed ting system of optimism, is an educ- among the poor, and that the shrine tion of good from evil. Did not Rous- had been only adorned with boughs seau predict the convulsions of modern and flowers : For, said he," those who Europe, while he so vividly foresaw have heaped up all that mass of treathe French revolution, that he serious- sure, will one day be plundered, and ly advised the higher classes of society fall a prey to those who are in power ;' to have their children taught some use a prediction literally fulfilled about ful trade ? This notion was highly ri- twenty years after it was made. The diculed on the first appearance of the unknown author of the Visions of Emile, but at its hour the truth struck. Piers Ploughman, who wrote in the He too foresaw the horrors of that re- reign of Edward III., surprised the volution, for he announced that Emile world by a famous prediction of the designed to emigrate, because, from the fall of the religious houses from the moral state of the people, á virtuous hand of a king. The event was rerevolution had become impossible. alised two hundred years afterwards,
Unquestionably there have been men in the reign of Henry VIII. The proof such political sagacity, that they have testant writers have not scrupled to anticipated events which have some- declare, that in this instance he was times required centuries to achieve ; " divino numine afflatus." But prethey have detected that principle in the diction is not inspiration; the one dark mystery of its germ, which time may be wrought out by man, the other only could develope to others. comes from God. The same principle
When Solon, accompanied by Epi- which led Erasmus to predict, that menides, who was sent by the Athe- those who were " in power" would
destroy the rich shrine, because no about the year 1700, household words with us. Other class of men in society were equal Leibnitz was struck by their significance, to mate with one so mighty as the and it might now puzzle us to find syno. monks, conducted the author of Piers syms.
Ploughman to the satne conclusion ;
and since power only could accomplish This strikingly 'appears in a little cuthat great purpose, he fixed on the rious volume, entitled, “ Essai sur highest as the most likely; and the l'Histoire de la Revolution Françoise, wise prediction was, so long after, li- par une Societé d'Auteurs Latins * terally accomplished.
This “ Society of Latin Authors," This spirit of foresight, in contem- who have so inimitably written the his. plative minds, was evinced by our great tory of the French revolution, consists antiquary Dugdale. In 1641 he an- of the Roman historians themselves ! ticipated the scene which was preparing By extracts ingeniously applied, the to open, in the destruction of our an- events of that melancholy period are cient monuments in cathedral churches, so appositely described, indeed so mi. He then hastened his zealous itinerant nutely detailed, that they will not fail labours, of taking draughts, and co- to surprise those who are not accusa pying inscriptions, “ to preserve them tomed to detect the perpetual parallels for future and better times.” And which we meet in philosophical history, thus it was, that, conducted by his Many of these crisises in history are prescient spirit, posterity owes to Dug- close resemblances of each other. Comdale the ancient monuments of Eng- pare the history of “ the League,” in land. The next age will instruct it. French history, with that of our own self with the history of ours, as we do civil wars; we are struck by the simiby that of the last. Involved amid the lar occurrences, performed by the same most rapid reverses, those who only political characters which played their draw from the surface of history the part on both those great theatres of volatile pleasure of a romantic tale, or human action. A satirical royalist of deaden all its living facts by the tor- those times has commemorated the pedo touch of chronological antiqua- motives, the incidents, and the personrianism, will not easily comprehend ages, and has produced a Hudibras in the principles which terminate in cer- prose. The author of the “ Satire tain political events, nor the characters Menippée de la Vertu du Catholicon among mankind who are the usual d'Espagne,” discovers all the bitter ri. actors in those scenes. “ The thing dioule of Butler, in his ludicrous and that hath been, is that which shall be. severe exhibition of the “ Etats de The heart of man beats on the same Paris,” while the artist who designed eternal springs. Whether he paces, or the satirical prints, becomes no conwhether he flies, his reasoning un- temptible Hogarth. So much are these reasonable being cannot escape out of public events alike, in their general the march of human thought and hu- spirit and termination, that they have man passions. Thus we discover how, afforded the subject of a curious voin the most extraordinary revolutions, lume, entitled,« Essai sur les Revothe time and the place only have lutions t;" the whole work was modelchanged. Even when events are not led on this principle. “ It would be strictly parallel, the conducting prin- possible," says that eloquent writer, ciples are the same.
to frame a table, or chart, in which When the French revolution recalled all the given imaginable events of the our attention to our own, the neglected history of a people would be reduced volumes which preserved the public and to a mathematical exactness.” The private history of our Charles I. and conception is fanciful, but it is foundCromwell, were collected with eager ed on truth. He who judges of the curiosity. How often the scene exist- present by the parallels which the past ing before us, nay the very personages furnishes, has one source opened to him themselves, opened on us in those for- of a knowledge of the future. We find gotten pages. But as the annals of how minds of large comprehension have human nature did not commence with been noticed for possessing this faculty those of Charles I., we took a still of prediction. Cornelius Nepos relates of more retrograde step; and it was discovered, in this wider range, that, in
• Published at Paris 1801. the various governments of Greece and
† An extraordinary work, which soon Rome, the events of those times had sold, in the reprinting has suffered many been only reproduced. Among them castrations. It was printed here as a first the same principles had terminated in ed. I read with some surprise the single
volume, but probably remained unpublishthe same results, and the same per- copy which was said to have been saved from sonages had figured in the same drama. the entire edition.
Cicero, that he remarkably exercised this wrote a history.of the conspiracy of political prescience, so that, with him, Fiesco, with such vehement admiration it seemned a kind of divination ; for Ci- of his hero, that the Italian politician cero “ not only foretold events which having read it, predicted that the young happened in his own time, but had author would be one of the most tura also prophesied what has occurred in bulent spirits of the age. The father these days.” There is a remarkable ex- of Marshal Biron, even amid the glory pression employed by Thucydides, in of his son, discovered the cloud which his character of Themistocles, of which was to obscure it, invisible to other the following is given as a close trans- men: “ Biron,” said he, “ I advise lation : “ by a species of sagacity pe- thee, when peace takes place, to go and culiarly his own, for which he was in plant cabbages in thy garden, otherno degree indebted either to early edu- vise I warn thee thou wilt lose thy cation or after study, he was superemi- head on a scaffold.” The future chanently happy in forming a prompt judg- racter of Cromwell was apparent to two ment in matters that admitted but little of our great politicians: “ This coarse, time for deliberation ; at the same time unpromising young man,” said Lord that he far surpassed all, in his deduc- Falkland, pointing to Cromwell, “ will tions of the FUTURE, from the past;" be the first person in the kingdom, if or was the best guesser of the future the nation comes to blows.” And Archfrom the past *. And assuredly our bishop Williams, on a visit Charles I. country has witnessed, among her il- paid him, told the king confidentially, lustrious men, many a rival in predic- that “ there was that in Cromweli tion with Themistocles. Burke, Pitt, which forbode something dangerous ; and a noble statesman yet living, were and wished his Majesty would either often endowed with the faculty of po win him over to him or get him taken, litical vaticination. The instances are off.” numerous and familiar. The eloquence Such are the facts which may estaof Burke is often oracular ; a speech of blish the existence of a faculty of forePitt, in 1800, painted the state of Eu- sight and vaticination possessed by rope, as it was only realised fifteen some great minds, which seems yet to years afterwards. The Marquis of want a denomination ; yet this may Wellesley's incomparable character of be supplied to us; for the writer of the Bonaparte predicted his fall when high- life of Sir Thomas Brown, in claimest in his glory, that great statesman ing the honour of it for that philosothen poured forth the sublime language pher, mysteriously shadows out someof philosophical prophecy: "His eager- thing which he calls "The Stochastic, ness of power is so inordinate his jea- or the faculty of political prediction, lousy of independence so fierce-his a term derived from the Greek, signikeenness of appetite so feverish in all fying “ shooting at a mark.” that touched his ambition, even in the Thomas, it seems, was this intellectual most trifling things, that he must archer who then hit the white; for he plunge into desperate difficulties. He says, “ Though he were no prophet, is one of an order of minds that, by yet in that faculty which comes nearnature, make for themselves great re- est to it, he excelled, i. e. the Stochasverses. Such are the statesmen of tic, wherein he was seldom mistaken genius : prescient moralists! who so as to future events, as well public, as happily succeed in their predictions of private." the fortune and the character of famous Aristotle, who collected all the cuindividuals. The revolutionary cha- rious knowledge of his times, affords racter of Cardinal de Retz was detected, us some remarkable opinions on this by the sagacity of Cardinal Mazarine, art of Divination. The passage is in even in the youth of de Retz. He then that “ Magazine of intellectual riches,".
as Mr Coppleston calls his “Rhetoric.” A critical friend, who supplies me with The Stagyrite details the various subthis version, would have the original placed terfuges practised by the pretended di. under the eye of the learned reader. Οικεία γάρ ξυνεσει, και ούτε προμαθών ες αυτήν
vinors of his day, who found it much ουδεν, ούτ' έσιμαθων, των τι παραχρήμα δ: easier to say that such a thing would ελαχίστης βουλής κράτιστος γνώμης και των happen, than to mark the time when μελλόντων επιπλείστον του γενησομένον άριστος it is to happen. They are never cirκαστής. THUCYDIDES, Lib. l. cumstantial, and, in all they predict,
never tell the When. At the same many years ; that after the death of time Aristotle gives us the secret prin- Charles V. the empire of Germany ciple, by which one of these divinors would infallibly be torn to pieces by regulated his predictions. He frankly the Germans themselves. The monk declared, that the future being always will no longer pass for a prophet ; his very obscure, while the past was easy miscalculated Daniel, like some others, to know, his predictions had never the wished more ill to the Mahometans future in view; he decided from the than the Christian cabinets of Europe, past, as this appeared in human affairs, and had no notion that God would which was however concealed from, prosper the heretics of Luther. Sir and unknown to the multitude. Aná James Macintosh has indeed observed, this indeed is the true principle by “ I am sensible, that in the field of pos which a philosophical historian may litical prediction, veteran sagacity has become a skilful divinor, and an adept often been deceived.” He alludes to in the "Stochastie."
the memorable example of Harrington, We have had recently a remarkable who published a demonstration of the illustration of the truth of this secret impossibility of re-establishing moprinciple, in the confession of a man narchy in England six months before of genius among ourselves. When the restoration of Charles II. But the Mr Coleridge was a political writer in author of the Oceana was a political fathe Morning Post and the Courier, at natic, who ventured to predict an a period of darkness and utter confu- eyent, not by other events which had sion, he was then conducted by a track happened, but by a theoretical princiof light not revealed to ordinary jour- ple which he had formed, that the nalists. He decided of the Napoleonic balance of power depends on that of empire, that despotism in masque- property.” So unphilosophical was rade," by the “ state of Rome under Harrington in his contracted view of the first Cæsars ;" and of the Spanish human affairs, that he dropped out of Ameriean revolution, by taking the his calculation all the stirring passions war of the United Provinces with Phi- of ambition and party. A similar erlip II. as the ground-work of the com- ror of a great genius occurs in De Foe. parison. « On every great occur. "Child,” says Mr George Chalmers, rence," he says, “I endeavoured to with great good sense, foreseeing discover in past history the event that from experience that mens conduct most nearly resembled it. I procured must finally be decided by their prins the contemporary historians, memo- ciples, foretold the colonial revolt. De rialists, and pamphleteers. Then fair- Foe, allowing his prejudices to obscure ly subtracting the points of difference his sagacity, reprobated that suggesfrom those of likeness, as the balance tion, because he deemed interest a more favoured the former or the latter, I con- strenuous prompter than enthusiasm.” jectured that the result would be the The predictions of Harrington and De same, or different. In the Essays on Foe are precisely such as we might the probable final restoration of the expect from a political economist. Bourbons," I feel myself authorised to Child, the philosophical predictor, had affirm, by the effect produced on many read the past. intelligent men, that, were the dates Even when the event does not justiwanting, it might have been suspect-fy the prediction, the predictor may ed that the Essays had been written however not have been the less correct within the last twelve months t." in his principles of divination. The
It is not to be denied that many re- catastrophe of human life, and the markable predictions have turned out turn of great events, often prove accia to be false ones, like those of the monk dental. Biron, whom we have noticed, Carion, whose Chronicle is printed, might have ascended the throne, inand closes in 1532, in which he de- stead of the scaffold; Cromwell and clares that the world was about end- De Retz might have become only the ing, as well as his Chronicle of it ; that favourite general, or the minister of the Turkish empire would not last their sovereigns. Such fortuitous eLib. vii. c. v.
vents are not comprehended in the + Biographia Literaria, or Biographical reach of political prescience; it is only Sketches of my Literary Life and Opinions. a vulgar superstition which pretends By S. T. Coleridge, Esq. 1817. Vol. I, to this, but in these very cases where
nothing occurred to disturb the accus VOL. IV.
tomed progress of human nature, the Kirkaldy of Grange, and the warning foresight of the predictors is unques- he solemnly gave to the Regent Mura tionable. Hartley, in his “ Obser- ray not to go to Linlithgow, where he vations on Man,” &c. published in was assassinated. Such predictions 1749, predicted the fall of the existing occasioned a barbarous people to imagovernments and hierarchies in these gine that Knox had some immediate two simple propositions :
communication with Heaven. One
Clerius, a Spanish friar and almanack“ Prop. 81. It is probable that all the maker, clearly predicted the death of civil governments will be overturned. PROP. 82. It is probable that the present as Gassendi tells us, although he gave
Henry the Fourth of France. Peiresc, forms of church government will be dis
no faith to the vain science of astrolosolved."
gy, alarmed for the life of a beloved We are told that Lady Charlotte monarch, consulted with two gentleWentworth, much alarmed at these men about the king, and sent the falls of church and state, asked Hart- Spanish almanack to his majesty. ley when these terrible things would That high-spirited prince thanked them happen? The predictor answered, “I for their care, but slighted the pream an old man, and shall not live to diction; the event occurred ; and, in see them; but you are a young wo- the following year, the Spanish friar man, and probably will see them.” spread his own fame in a new almanWe can hardly deny that the predic- ack. I have been occasionally struck at tion has failed;—it has taken place in the Jeremiads of honest George Withers America, and it has occurred in France. the poet ; some of his works afford A fortuitous event has comfortably many solemn predictions. Some prethrown back the world into its old dictions are recorded of this sort, which corners; but we still revolve in a have been made after the event ; but circle ; what is dark and distant shall as certain is it, that many have prebe clear as we approach it; and these ceded it, which we may fairly account 81st and 32d propositions of our Va- for on mere human principles. The ticinator may again come round in a busy spirits of a revolutionary age, crisis.
the heads of a party such as Knox There is a spirit of political vatici- was, have frequently secret communination, which has been often ascribed cations with spies or friends ; such a to the highest source of inspiration, constant source of concealed informaby the enthusiasts of a party ; but, tion, combined with a shrewd, confisince “ the language of prophecy” has dent, and enthusiastic temper, will ceased among them, such pretensions account for some mysterious predicare equally impious and unphilosophi- tions of this nature. Knox was uncal. Knox, the reformer, possessed questionably endowed with a consideran extraordinary portion of this bold able portion of our Stochastic faculty, prophetic confidence. He appears to as appears by his Machiavellian maxhave predicted several remarkable im, on the barbarous destruction of events, and the fates of some persons. the monasteries and cathedrals. Many of his "prophetical sayings,” “ The best way to keep the rooks as they were called, esteemed wild at from returning is to pull down their the time, were afterwards remember. nests.” The event of Henry the ed with awful astonishment. When Fourth's death, so clearly predicted by condemned to a galley in Rochelle, the Spanish friar, resulted either from he predicted that, “ within two or his being acquainted with the plot, three years, he should preach the Gos- or made an instrument in this case pel at St Giles's in Edinburgh; an by those who were; the report of improbable event which happened. the assassination, before it occurOf Mary and Darnley, he pronounced, red, was rife in Spain and Italy. that “as the king, for the queen’s Such as George Withers, will always pleasure, had gone to mass, the Lord, rise in disturbed times, which are fáin his justice, would make her the in- vourable to a inelancholy temperastrument of his overthrow.” Events ment, and sanguine imagination. Like not long afterwards realized. There the Sybil attending on Eneas, these are other striking predictions of the usually see nothing but horrid battles, deaths of Thomas Maitland, and of and the Tyber foaming with blood.