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[98] listen with all due attention and reverence, but in which they trust hardly more than in the forgotten heresies of Leibnitz and Wolf. So that you may set it down as an almost universal fact that the teachers and disciples are alike eclectics.

A young man at the university commonly gets this freedom by hearing three or four different professors expound and defend as many different systems.

This is a very remarkable, but I am not ready to say an unfortunate state of things. The worthiest object of metaphysical studies is to excite and enlarge the faculties, and form deep and thorough thinkers. Never was this so completely and so generally effected as it now is in Germany; and, as the object is attained, why should we complain or regret that it is not done by the means which we have usually considered indispensable?

As to the peculiar character of these metaphysics, you will get all the information necessary from Mad. de Stael. They are undoubtedly very different from the metaphysics taught by Locke, Reid, and Stewart. The Germans reproach the English with treating such subjects psychologically, or, in other words, not sufficiently distinguishing the difference between ideas and sensations; and the English reply that the Germans are unintelligible idealists. The difference between the two is very great, and, moreover, it is, I think, a natural and constitutional difference.

In England, from the character of the people and the nature of the government, which for a thousand years have been continually acting and reacting upon each other, many things must be made to serve some practical purpose, and nothing is valued which is not immediately useful. In Germany, on the contrary, the national character, from the first intimation of it in Tacitus, and the tendency of the government, from its first development to the present day, have always had an effect directly opposite. A man of science here lives entirely isolated from the world; and the very republic of letters, which is a more real body in Germany than it ever was in any other country, has no connection with the many little governments through which it is scattered without being broken or divided. From this separation of the practical affairs from science and letters to the extraordinary degree in which it is done in Germany, comes, I think, the theoretical nature of German literature in general, and of German metaphysics in particular.

This is the way in which I account for the origin and prevalence of Locke's system of sensations, and Hartley's and Priestley's materialism


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