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[194] and imaginative Germans. Indeed, I doubt whether we should, at any period of our history, have been metaphysically inclined, if our popular theology had not long been of a character so peculiar . . . . The Assembly's Catechism and other similar works, acutely metaphysical, were the books in almost universal use among us, and the only truly great metaphysical work we have produced is the type and complement of such a state of things.1 . . . .

No doubt such sort of reading as this, which was the popular reading in New England, where everybody read, had a considerable effect on the character of the people for a time. One of the most practically wise statesmen now alive has often told me, that we never should have had our Revolution, if all the people had not been, for a century, in the habit of discussing the Westminster Assembly's Catechism. And there is more truth in the odd jest than at first appears . . . .

However, as I said before, we are a practical people,—eminently so,—and it was not possible metaphysics should become part of our constitution. Since, therefore, our revolutionary condition has passed away,—revolutionary, I mean, in intellectual movement as well as political,—and has given place to a more settled state of things, we have shown little tendency to metaphysical discussions or controversies. Even Calvinism, where it exists, has lost much of its theoretical, philosophical character and severity; and the other religious sects, seeing to what absurdities the Calvinists were so long carried, by their perverse intellectual philosophy, have been—especially for the last five-and-twenty years—even more afraid than was reasonable of the logical deductions to which their systems may lead them.

Still, there is, at this moment, a tendency in a few persons among us to a wild sort of metaphysics, if their publications deserve so dignified a name . . . . But such discussions come from a source totally different from that of the hard metaphysics of the old school, and are going in quite an opposite direction. They are of German origin, and within the last few years have been modified and rendered grotesque by a free infusion from the school of Carlyle, whose follies of form and style they have adopted, without finding any of his power. . . . .

I do not mean, however, by what I have said, that we are careless of what is valuable in practical metaphysics. On the contrary, in relation to this really important portion of the science, we were never so much in earnest. In proof, I send you the account, given in two successive reports of the Blind Asylum, in this city, partly on the education of a child, who, at the age of two years, wholly lost her eyes

1 Edwards on ‘The Freedom of the Will.’

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