Infomotions, Inc.The two-hundredth birthday of Bishop George Berkeley, a discourse given at Yale college on the 12th of March, 1885, by Noah Porter. / Porter, Noah, 1811-1892

Author: Porter, Noah, 1811-1892
Title: The two-hundredth birthday of Bishop George Berkeley, a discourse given at Yale college on the 12th of March, 1885, by Noah Porter.
Publisher: New York, C. Scribner's sons, 1885.
Tag(s): berkeley, george, 1685-1753; berkeley; george berkeley; bishop george; bishop; george; yale college; college; rhode island
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Page 69. For " Rector Williams, etc.," read " President Clap in his 
history of Yale College expresses the opinion that 'this College 
will always retain a most grateful sense of his generosity and 
merits ; and probably a favorable opinion of his idea of material 
substance as not consisting in an unknown and inconceivable sub- 
stratum but in a stated union and combination of sensible ideas 
excited from without by some intelligent Being.' " 





J2TH OF MARCH, 1885 






Copyright, 1885, by Charles Scribner's Sons. 













The substance of the following discourse was 
given at Yale College on the 1 2th of March, 1885, 
in commemoration of the 2Ooth birthday of the 
distinguished and excellent Berkeley. {Most of 
the materials were taken from the elaborate (( Life 
and Letters" by Professor Alexander Campbell 
Fraser, M. A., Oxford, 1871 ; and the more brief 
but excellent sketch by the same author in Knight's 
(< Philosophical Classics," Edinburgh, 1881 . The 
design of the writer was to present in a compact 
and somewhat popular form the most important 
facts in Berkeley's history, that he might do some- 
thing to keep his memory fresh and fragrant in 
the minds of studious and thoughtful men and 
women of the present generation . With the same 
desire he gives this discourse to the public, with the 
added wish that what be has written may also 

vi Preface. 

incite some of bis readers to a thorough study of 
^Berkeley's Tbilosophy. No better discipline to 
clear and sharp thinking, and at the same time to 
noble aims and aspirations, can be furnished than 
can be gained by a study of Berkeley's life and 
opinions. The exhaustive biographies by Pro- 
fessor Fraser, already named, are all that are 
needed for the study of his life. The ''Selections 
from Berkeley, with an introduction and notes 
for the use of Students in the Universities," Ox- 
ford, 1874, by the same writer, and the admi- 
rably annotated edition of the " Treatise con- 
cerning the Principles of Human Knowledge," by 
the late Professor and Vice- Provost Charles P. 
Krautb, D. D., Philadelphia, 1874, are all that 
are required for the intelligent study of Berkeley's 

It is always refreshing, and sometimes instruc- 
tive, to turn from Kant or Hegel, and even 
from Lotqe and Wundt, to the sharp and spark- 
ling, if be is now and then the paradoxical and 
pertinacious Berkeley. 

The memory of Berkeley will always be fresh 

Preface. vii 

and fragrant with all generous and thoughtful 
souls. The facts are not without interest, that 
Berkeley's name is connected with one of the most 
interesting and delightful points of land that looks 
out upon the stormy Atlantic towards the "still- 
vexed Bermoothes," where he hoped to locate 
his college, and has also been attached to the 
beautiful site of the University of California, 
which commands the golden gate that opens 
into the great Pacific. 

Not only has his own prophecy been fulfilled 
" Westward the course of Empire takes its 
way," but bis name has also gone westward to 
hallow and inspire all those enterprises of edu- 
cation and religion such as be desired to initiate, 
which distinguish and glorify 'that greater kingdom 
of God, which sooner or later shall encircle " the 
round world," and bless all those who dwell 

Yale College, April, 1885. 


GEORGE BERKELEY, dean and bishop, 
was born two hundred years ago this very 
day. His character was unique for unselfish 
enthusiasm in a corrupt and selfish time ; his 
contributions to the literature and philosophy 
of his generation were timely and effective ; 
his influence upon the speculation and culture 
of the world continues to be felt and ac- 
knowledged; his interest in Ireland and America 
is still remembered with grateful regard. For 
all these reasons his two-hundredth birthday 
deserves to be noticed with a grateful benedic- 
tion by any one who happens to be reminded 
of it. There is no place, however, where this 
day so richly deserves to be honored by a formal 


2 Bishop George Berkeley. 

recognition as at Yale College, for his generous 
sympathy in the days of its poverty and weak- 
ness, and for a benefaction which was as unique 
for its noble disinterestedness as it has been 
valuable for its permanent usefulness. 

These are the reasons which have induced me 
to undertake the task of sketching the personal 
history of his romantic life, and of estimating 
the import and value of his services to philosophy 
and the Christian faith ; remembering that to 
us he was a generous benefactor, who is none 
the less deserving of our affectionate honor, 
because of his goodness as a man, his genius as 
a philosopher, and his devotion as a Christian 

Berkeley was born in Ireland near Thomas- 
town, in the county of Kilkenny, of parents of 
English descent, and of respectable position and 
estate. He received his early classical educa- 
tion from the age of eleven to fifteen at the 
Duke of Ormond's school in Kilkenny, then 
called the Eton of Ireland. At fifteen he was 
matriculated at Trinity College in Dublin, the 
year before that in which Yale College was 

Bishop George Berkeley. 3 

founded. Here he resided as student and fellow 
for thirteen years. Trinity College *had from 
its reopening in 1592 been the one Protestant 
university of Ireland ; sharing with the Protestant 
Establishment the weakness and limitations of 
its isolation, but now and then showing an en- 
thusiasm and independence of its own such as 
was natural to its very position and the race 
which it educated. It has been called, with a 
slight suggestion of reproach, the Silent Sister, 
and yet it has now and then made its voice 
heard in a manner not altogether agreeable to 
its more decorous elders on the other side of 
the channel. At the time when Berkeley was 
a resident it was controlled by men of distin- 
guished ability and marked independence. Its 
Provost for nearly all this time was the cele- 
brated Peter Browne, afterwards Bishop of 
Cork, the author of two works, much talked of 
in their day; viz., "The Procedure, Extent, 
and Limits of the Human Understanding," 1 728, 
and "Divine Analogy," 1733. William King 
became Archbishop of Dublin in 1 703, and was 
author of the work on "The Origin of Evil," 

4 Bishop George Berkeley. 

which was sharply criticized by Leibnitz and 
Bayle ; and of some other notable theological 
treatises. Both these writers were foremost in 
the controversies of their own times. Their rep- 
utation has been recently revived by Whately,* 
Hamilton, Mansel,* and Herbert Spencer, all 
leaders in the modern speculations concerning 
agnosticism. Even the physics and metaphysics 
of Descartes were still under discussion. The 
new physics of Newton and the founders of the 
Royal Society were fighting their way into 
acceptance at Oxford. The new metaphysics of 
John Locke had recently begun to attract atten- 
tion, his great work having been published only 
ten years when Berkeley began his studies at 
Dublin. Indeed, his college life was altogether 
a fermenting period for thought and action. To 

* " Of the Right Method of Interpreting Scripture in 
what relates to the Nature of the Deity and his Dealings 
with Mankind," illustrated in a Discourse on Predestination, 
by Dr. King, late Lord Archbishop of Dublin, preached at 
Christ Church, Dublin, before the House of Lords; with 
notes by the Rev. Richard Whately, M. A., Fellow of Oriel 
College, Oxford. Oxford, 1821. Also, " The Limits of Re- 
ligious Thought Examined," by Henry Longueville Mansel. 
London, 1858. Boston (reprinted), 1859. 

Bishop George Berkeley. 5 

hold a principle in philosophy, or politics, or 
religion was a serious business, when two 
or three claimants for the crown of England 
were ready to convulse the country with civil 
war. Ireland was still restless and unsubdued, 
having recently experienced a bloody rising and 
a bloody defeat. The sphere of speculation and 
of faith was beginning to be stirred in England 
and on the continent, by that materialistic and 
anti- Christian movement, which continued with 
occasional reactions till the bloody horrors of 
the French Revolution. It was altogether an 
exciting and uncertain period, especially for an 
ardent Irish youth at a Protestant University 
in Dublin, standing over against the Dublin 

To all these exciting agencies Berkeley re- 
sponded with the enthusiasm and energy of 
an ardent and self-relying spirit. " Ordinary 
people did not understand him and laughed at 
him. Soon after his entrance he began to attract 
attention as either the greatest genius or the 
greatest dunce in college." " He prosecuted 
his studies with simplicity and enthusiasm." 

6 Bisbop George Berkeley. 

Early in 1 705, when he was twenty years old, 
he formed a society with a few friends to pro- 
mote and criticize the new philosophy of Boyle, 
Newton, and Locke. A well-filled and motley 
commonplace book still survives, abounding in 
every variety of suggestions in regard to the 
opinions which were discussed by his associ- 
ates and himself, which indicates extraordinary 
breadth of inquiry and maturity of thought for a 
young man of from twenty to twenty-five years. 
We find in one place the recognition of a special 
call to himself of duty and of God to indepen- 
dent and bold speculation, and the expression of 
a sturdy resolve to be true to all his convictions. 
In other places, in brief jottings, we find many 
of the seeds of thought which took form and life 
in his subsequent treatises. His abundant ref- 
erences to all the recent writers in philosophy, 
mathematics, and physics show that he was 
fully abreast with his time. 

In 1709, when he was twenty-four years old, 
he published his " Essay on a New Theory of 
Vision," which made an epoch in the analysis 
of the sense perceptions, and would of itself have 

Bishop George Berkeley. 7 

made him immortal. It passed to a second 
edition in a year, and for clearness of style and 
skill of presentation, and above all for its sugges- 
tions of profound philosophical truth, is as well 
worth reading now as when it was first written. 
Not that many of the facts and phenomena were 
not already familiar, nor that their importance 
had not been recognized. Men had always 
known that one of the senses could, to some 
extent, be used for another ; that they could and 
did judge of distance, and size, and motion by 
the pictures which the light paints on the eye ; 
but they had never analyzed so skilfully, nor 
generalized so broadly, nor reasoned so con- 
vincingly as when Berkeley taught them that 
every act of vision is an act of judgment or 
interpretation, involving a rational process, more 
rapid indeed than what men call thinking, but 
an act of thought none the less. 

The success of this essay was not owing to 
the facts which were first brought to light, for 
many of these had been known before, nor 
to the generalization which was derived from 
them that acts of vision are acts of interpreta- 

8 Bishop George Berkeley. 

tion, so that we see with the mind as truly as 
with the eyes, but to the clearness and felicity 
with which these facts are stated, and the 
convincing energy with which the several con- 
clusions leap forth from the facts, all of which 
indicate philosophic genius. Berkeley did not 
write this essay simply as an analysis of sense 
perception. He had a higher aim than this. 
He would explode the received ideas of matter 
and force, and thus compel his readers by the 
analysis of the processes of vision to see and 
recognize the presence and agency of the 
living and the ever-present God. That this 
was his aim is evident from the outlines of an 
argument to this effect which we find in his 
commonplace book. This argument was re- 
sumed and partially completed in a treatise, 
published in 1710, when he was twenty-five 
years old, and entitled " A Treatise on the 
Principles of Human Knowledge." This was 
followed in 1713 by ''Dialogues between Hylas 
and Philonous," in which the argument is car- 
ried to its conclusion. These three treatises 
set in motion a train of speculation which has 

Ttisbop George Berkeley. 9 

never ceased to move till the present hour, 
the course of which can be traced through the 
skeptical and one-sided philosophies of Eng- 
land, Scotland, and France, and the idealistic 
and imaginative systems of Germany. 

The doctrines of these three treatises of 
Berkeley's struck the world at first simply as 
paradoxes. But the sense of strangeness 
aroused and compelled sober inquiry. In- 
quiry not infrequently settled into conviction 
that God is nearer to man than man had sup- 
posed, even in the ordinary processes which seem 
to shut him out of sight. These give a deeper 
and truer meaning to the words, " who coverest 
thyself with light as with a garment," inasmuch 
as the analysis of vision reveals the truth that 
man, in interpreting the indications of color and 
outline, is compelled to assume the presence and 
agency of the Supreme Reason.* Berkeley's 
argument was, briefly, thus : The direct object 
of the mind's knowledge by any single act of 
sense can only be an affection of the mind, 
whether this object be a sight, a touch, or a sound. 

* See Note A. 

io Ttishop George Berkeley. 

The product of two such acts conjoined can only 
be two of these together. Five can only give 
five conjoined these five and nothing more. 
It follows that what we call matter or material 
objects are combinations or aggregates of sights 
and touches and smells, as perceived by, and, 
therefore, as affections of the mind. They are 
to us just what they are perceived to be, and 
they are perceived to be what they are felt to be 
this, and nothing more. The material world 
in which each man lives, and which seems to him 
so solid and so real, is only his own world of 
possible and actual sensations. If he is blind, his 
world is a world of touches, smells, sounds, and 
tastes. If he is color-blind, two or three dingy 
colors constitute his visible universe. What we 
call the material world is what the senses give us, 
one by one, and all as their sum. When the swan 
floats gracefully on the surface of the mirroring 
lake, the perfectly reflected image that seems its 
other self is just as truly a visible reality as the 
floating figure which we can also touch and 
handle. The gorgeous rainbow, such as we some- 
times see in the Adirondacks, that from the deep 

"Bishop George "Berkeley. n 

valley spans the mountain from three to five 
thousand feet upwards, is as truly real while it 
continues as are the everlasting hills on which are 
imprinted its fiery bars. The being of the sense 
world is its being perceived. Esse est percipi. 
There is no sense reality except what is thus ex- 
perienced by the mind. What we know more 
and beyond is the constant connection of one 
sense object with another, or the absence of one 
when another is present. The swan which we 
can touch and see we call real. The swan that 
floats to the eye beneath the surface, but which 
we cannot find with the hand, we call unreal ; and 
yet the one is as real to the eye as the other is to 
the hand. Hartley Coleridge, when five years 
old, did not answer to his name when called, but 
said, " Which Hartley is it ? What, is there more 
than one? Yes, there is a deal of Hartleys. 
How so ? There is picture Hartley, and shadow 
Hartley, and echo Hartley, and catch-me-fast 
Hartley." * " Which is the lying sense, feeling 
or seeing?" said Cheselden's blind boy just re- 
stored to sight, as he guessed with his eye and 

* Poems and Memoir, Vol. I. page xxvii. 

12 Ttishop George Berkeley. 

fumbled with his hands in the new and strange 
universe of vision that had just been new cre- 
ated for and by his unsealed eyesight* But we 
do not rest contented with a single sense. We 
do not believe in the things outside till we learn 
to connect what we see with what we touch, and 
what we touch with what we see. But how do 
we learn to do this ? Simply as we believe that 
we are in an honest universe, a universe which 
is true in the signals or indicia which it presents 
for our confidence. For this belief our only secu- 
rity is in the reasonableness and truth of the one 
comprehensive mind that % is ever acting upon 
our senses, and must be true to the signals which 
He gives. Hence we not only live and move and 
have our being in God, but we hear, and see, 
and touch by the signs to which He wakens our 
senses. Our own minds we know, because we 
use them. God we know by those combinations 
of sensations in which He is always present and 
true. Other minds we know through the occa- 
sional sense-combinations which we call their 
bodies. But God we always apprehend, because 
* Phil. Trans., No. 402. 

TSishop George Berkeley. 13 

it is only as we believe in Him that we can con- 
nect a group of sensations into a material thing, 
one sensation with one or many as a cause or an 
effect, or interpret their presence or absence by 
fixed and rational laws. We shut our eyes, and 
the visible creation swims before our vision and 
seems about to sink into nothing ; but as it seems 
to vanish, it is caught and held back by the ever- 
present thought and hand of God. We open 
them again, and the universe rises into a vision 
of beauty, as fresh and glowing when re-created 
by His fiat as when God for the first time said 
let there be light and there was light ! To use 
Berkeley's own language, " Some truths there 
are, so near and obvious to the mind that a man 
need only open his eyes to see them. Such I 
take this important one to be, to wit, that all 
the choir of heaven and furniture of the earth, 
in a word, all those bodies which comprise the 
mighty form of the world, have not any subsist- 
ence without the mind ; that their being is to be 
perceived or known ; that, consequently, so long 
as they are not actually perceived by me, or do 
not exist in my mind, or that of any other 

14 Ttisbop George Berkeley. 

created spirit, they must either have no existence 
at all, or else subsist in the mind of some 
Eternal spirit." 

"You, it seems, stare to find that God is not far 
away from every one of us, and that in Him we live 
and move and have our being; you, who, in the 
beginning of this morning's conference, thought it 
strange that God should leave himself without a wit- 
ness, do now think it strange the witness should be 
so full and clear. Ale. I must own I do, * * * 
and never imagined it could be pretended that we saw 
God with our fleshly eyes as plain as we see any 
human person whatsoever, and that He daily speaks to 
our senses in a manifest and clear dialect. Cri. This 
language hath a necessary connection with knowledge, 
wisdom, and goodness ; it is equivalent to a constant 
creation, betokening an immediate act of power and 
providence ; it cannot be accounted for by mechani- 
cal principles, by atoms, attractions, or effluvia. The 
instantaneous production and reproduction of so many 
signs combined, dissolved, transposed, diversified, and 
adapted to such an endless variety of purposes, ever 
shifting with the occasions and suited to them, being 
utterly inexplicable and unaccountable by the laws of 
motion, by chance, by fate, or the like blind principles, 

Ttishop George Berkeley. 15 

doth set forth and testify the immediate operation of a 
spirit or thinking being; and not merely of a spirit 
which every motion or gravitation may possibly infer, 
but of one wise, good, and provident spirit which 
directs and rules and governs the world." Ale. Dial. 

This, in brief, is the Theistic Idealism with 
which Berkeley startled the world at the age of 
25. Paradoxical as it seemed, it was expounded 
with singular clearness, illustrated with minute 
detail, defended with youthful ardor, and enforced 
with religious fervor. It is not at all surpris- 
ing that it attracted immediate attention to its 
author, and made a place for him in every circle, 
if only as an object of wonder. It was, however, 
more easy to wonder and stare at him than it 
was to answer or silence him. 

The facts on which Berkeley builds had been 
familiar for centuries, having started many a 
curious or skeptical inquiry.* But in almost 
every case the expounder had treated them in 
such a fashion as either to entangle his reader 

* Cf. Malebranche, Rech. de la Verite", 1. ch. 9; Glanville, Scepsis Scien- 
tifica, ch. 5 ; Molyneux, Dioptrics ; Locke's Essay, 4th ed. ch. ix. $8. 

1 6 "Bishop George Berkeley. 

in a maze of refined distinctions, or bewilder him 
with a brilliant show of dazzling fireworks 
silencing or bewildering, but not convincing him. 
Berkeley's statements, on the other hand, seem 
as clear as the sunlight and as solid as the 
pavement. He feels his way as cautiously as a 
blind man. He asks you if you are sure and 
steady at every step ; and then, on a sudden, 
he turns upon you and asks where is the ma- 
terial universe. You look for it, and find that 
as a solid reality it is gone ; and yet you are 
confident that you have destroyed or lost it by 
your own honest thinking. Your philosophic 
friend is so cool, so clear, so sure in every step, 
that you seem to have thought out every con- 
clusion for yourself. At all events, you cannot 
lay your hand upon any single step and say it 
was false. The illusion is as when you look 
into a mountain lake whose margin is over- 
looked by a forest-clad mountain. You see 
every inch of its bottom as you peer over the 
edge of your floating boat. All is clear and 
sure, when in an instant the reflected mountain 
more than half displaces the oozy bottom, a 

"Bishop George Berkeley. 17 

pictured show, indeed, in all its pomp of color 
and shadow, but so vivid that for an instant you 
cannot tell which is the reality and which the 
reflected image. 

The effect of Berkeley's Idealism was no nine 
days' wonder. It became the problem of the 
century which followed ; we should rather say it 
has continued to be the problem of nearly two 
centuries since. Hume took up what seemed 
to him a similar line of thought, and attempted 
to disintegrate the mind into a bundle of ideas, 
as Berkeley had sought to resolve matter into a 
series of impressions. Reid, who was roused 
by Hume's extremes to oppose both Hume and 
Berkeley, confesses to have been originally a 
convert to Berkeley's theory. Reid was fol- 
lowed in the direction of reaction by the learned 
and logical Hamilton. On the continent, sixty 
years after Berkeley composed his youthful 
Essay, Kant declares that he had been wakened 
by Hume and Berkeley from the dogmatic slum- 
ber in which he had been trained ; and after 
Kant, and, as it would seem, by many growths 
and undergrowths, lo ! this little sapling which 

1 8 "Bishop George Berkeley. 

our youthful friend planted in Dublin, has 
spread abroad into the great Banyan tree of 
Modern German Metaphysics, which has now 
struck its roots down from above, and then 
thrust its shoots up from beneath till its pil- 
lared shade has become a bewildering maze.* 
What is still more surprising is that the most 
distinguished men of the materialistic school in 
England at the present day, with rare excep- 
tions, agree with Berkeley in resolving the mate- 
rial world into groups of sensations with " a per- 
manent possibility of sensations," and the mind 
into " a series of feelings which is aware of itself 
as past and future." This is the painfully elab- 
orated result of the life-long speculations of 
John Stuart Mill, who cannot be charged with 
any want of clearness, and whose system of 
Logic is a masterpiece of lucid statement 
and rigid consecution. Mill utterly repudiates 
Dr. Johnson's argumentum baculinum against 
Berkeley, but when he attempts to follow or 
correct him, he plunges us into a dim and misty 
cloud, without the play of that iridescent light 
* See Note B. 

^Bishop George Berkeley. 19 

which Berkeley sheds on every thought. Her- 
bert Spencer and all the evolutionists resolve 
matter into sensations, and sensations into 
"nerve shocks" which are more complicated as 
they ascend into those higher potencies which 
men call matter and spirit or mind ; but they 
find no God either within or behind these 
aspiring and ascending sensations. George H. 
Lewes and most of the positivists choose to 
resolve what they call phenomena into sensa- 
tions, but make no provision, as does Berkeley, 
for a mind to originate or interpret nature or 
any agency which either uses or explains the 
scanty relationships by which they explain na- 
ture or justify either induction or evolution.* 

I am not here to defend Berkeley's doctrine 
of Ideas. I am only desirous to defend him from 
being deemed a philosophical visionary for hold- 
ing opinions which have been taught with more 
or less consistency by eminent individuals and 
famous schools. I am quite content to rest his 
defence on the unquestioned fact that he forced 
the philosophical world to grapple earnestly with 
* See Note C. 

20 ^Bishop George Berkeley. 

his single problem for nearly two centuries, and 
that some of the most outspoken and positive of 
materialists of the present day are the most 
openly confessed of Berkeley's disciples as the 
outcome of all their physics and metaphysics. 

While, then, our old and new fashioned mate- 
rialists agree with Berkeley in resolving matter 
into sensations, and with Hume in resolving 
mind into feelings, they differ from Berkeley in 
one most important particular. That particu- 
lar is that Berkeley's Idealism was character- 
istically Theistic. He was a Theist, not as a 
theologian or a Christian, but as a philoso- 
pher. He could not complete his theory of 
Ideas and find any order or trustworthiness 
in them, without God to produce and regulate 
them. If matter is nothing but ideas or sensa- 
tions, still sensations require a spirit to feel or 
know them. If matter does not exist to produce 
them, there must be some agent to originate and 
sustain them, and that cause must be an eternal 
and all-embracing mind. Not only does he orig- 
inate these ideas, but he must produce them in 
those combinations and in that order which justi- 

, Bishop George Berkeley. 21 

fies the common sense of experience and the 
theories of science. If every color we discern is 
an idea or impression produced in our minds by 
the agency of God, if every touch is the same, 
much more does the constant combination of 
every color with its appropriate touch, require 
his faithful care. According to Berkeley's the- 
ory, we need God to explain the one as truly as 
to explain the other. Without this faith in God 
we cannot even justify the experience of common 
life. Without this faith we cannot explain our 
confidence in the uniformity and stability of na- 
ture's operations. Without this faith we cannot 
justify our common sense and practical wisdom. 
Much less without it can we defend our faith 
in the theories or the experiments of science. 

We may think as we will about Berkeley's 
theory of matter and of ideas, but as we listen 
to the bold challenge of his youth, that he in- 
tended to drive matter out of the universe that 
he might bring into it the living God, and trace 
the proof that all the conflicts which have fol- 
lowed have served to deepen the conviction that 
all true science supposes God to be a thinker 

22 Ttishop George Berkeley. 

and the student of science to be an interpreter 
of God's thoughts, we are disposed to honor his 
philosophical sagacity, as truly as to admire his 
intellectual courage. 

If Berkeley did not drive matter out of the 
universe as effectually and as easily as he imag- 
ined he could, he certainly did bring in God as a 
permanent necessity for the satisfactory explan- 
ation of physical facts and their relations. As the 
result of all the controversies that have followed, 
so far as anything of this kind can be said to be 
settled, this is settled, that God, as self-existent 
reason and perhaps as rational love, must be 
assumed as the one fundamental axiom of scien- 
ific thought. 

I have dwelt longer upon the history and 
real import of Berkeley's Idealism because it is 
often spoken slightingly of by those who look 
upon its superficial aspects, and know little or 
nothing of its place in the history of physical and 
metaphysical theories. Regarded by itself alone, 
even were it only a philosophical romance, it was 
a remarkable product not merely for a youth, 
but for a student of any age. But looked at in 

"Bishop George Berkeley. 23 

its place in the history of opinion, it is worthy of 
the highest honor. It is still more remarkable 
for its capacity to stimulate and sustain inquiry, 
especially when we trace its fermenting and 
stimulating power through the great philosoph- 
ical revolutions of the last two centuries. ^x 1 
I may not omit to notice another significant 
passage in the history of Berkeley's university 
life, his celebrated Sermons on Passive Obe- 
dience, which attracted some attention in those 
excitable times, and had more or less influence 
on his political fortunes. In these sermons he 
maintains the doctrine that an existing or es- 
tablished civil government may never be law- 
fully resisted or overthrown. He defended this 
position, not on the ground of divine or heredi- 
tary authority or right, but on strictly ethical prin- 
ciples, contending that no individual or party can 
ever be sure that the evils incident to a political 
revolution will not be greater than those involved 
in the continuance of a government, however 
bad may be its administration. This was another 
instance of his personal and logical boldness, as 
it is another exemplification of his clearness of 

24 Bishop George Berkeley. 

thought and diction. It gave him additional no- 
toriety just at the time when he left the life of a 
scholar and became more or less a man of the 
world, in times of political excitement and of gen- 
eral venality and corruption. For thirteen con- 
secutive years previous to this he had resided at 
the university, and received all the degrees and 
perquisites to which he might properly aspire. 
For eight years afterwards, this connection was 
maintained, with renewed permissions of ab- 
sence, and he lived more or less the life of a 
man of the world. First he visits London and is 
presented at court making the acquaintance of 
the ministers of state, the bishops, the leading 
writers, as Addison, Steele, Pope, and Boling- 
broke, apparently under the special direction of 
Dean Swift, his patron and friend. He seems 
everywhere to have been looked upon with 
wondering curiosity as a propounder of para- 
doxes that could not easily be answered, and yet 
he everywhere wins his way as one of the most 
delightful of companions and the best of men. 
He is stared at, and almost feared for his 
strange notions, and is as universally loved for 

Tttsbop George Berkeley. 25 

his charming ardor, simplicity, and wit. The 
stately Atterbury, when asked by his relative, 
Lord Berkeley, what he thought of his kins- 
man at their first interview, replied : " So much 
understanding, so much knowledge, so much 
innocence, and such humility, I did not think 
had been the portion of angels till I saw this 
gentleman." Pope's well-known lines, written 
long after, when he had become a bishop, 
express the same enthusiastic admiration, .which 
is the more significant because of its cynical 
accompaniments : 

Even in a bishop I can spy desert. 
Seeker is decent ; Rundel has a heart. 
Manners with candor are to Benson given. 
To Berkeley, every virtue under heaven. 

The most of these eight years of wandering 
and uncertain life were spent on the continent ; 
first, as a chaplain to the Earl of Peterborough in 
Italy, and, subsequently, as tutor and companion 
to pupils and friends. The letters and journals 
preserved from this period are brilliant and 
instructive. They indicate quick wit, high 


26 'Bishop George ^Berkeley. 

culture, and varied knowledge, combined with 
sincere and fervent religious feeling ; a combi- 
nation of excellencies not so common then as 

On Berkeley's return to England in 1720, he 
found the kingdom in a condition of turmoil 
and almost despair, consequent on the explosion 
of the South Sea Scheme. His ardent soul, his 
quick wit and intense moral convictions found 
utterance in a paper entitled " An Essay towards 
preventing the Ruin of Great Britain," which is at 
once simple, thoughtful, keen, and Christian, 
abounding in practical suggestions concerning 
the increase of national wealth, the care of 
the poor, the maintenance of roads, the intro- 
duction of manufactures, the fostering of art; 
coupled with fervid denunciations of gambling, 
licentiousness, and the neglect of religion among 
the higher classes. None but a bold and ardent 
soul like his could venture to address his fellow- 
countrymen in words so simple and so strong, 
and expect to be listened to. None but a man 
profoundly religious could utter words so biting 
in a spirit of gentleness and fervor. This Essay 

Ttisbop George ^Berkeley. 27 

is of the utmost significance, as explaining the 
subsequent movements of his life and especially 
his mission to America. 

Not long after his return to England, in the 
year 1721, he was made chaplain to the Lord- 
Lieutenant of Ireland ; the year following he was 
made dean of Dromore, having previously been 
Senior Fellow of his University, and lecturer in 
Hebrew and Greek. In 1723 he met with a 
singular piece of good fortune, which deserves 
to be noticed as explaining in part the execu- 
tion of his plans with respect to America. Miss 
Esther Van Homrigh, the Vanessa of Dean 
Swift's unhappy fate and memory, happened to 
meet Berkeley for once only at her mother's 
house, perhaps accompanied by the Dean, her 
unlucky and, as some would say, her faithless 
lover. This was not long, as it would seem, 
before the confession which she extorted from 
the latter, that he had already been secretly 
married to Stella. She was so chagrined at this 
intelligence, and so alienated from the Dean, 
that she at once destroyed the will in which she 
had constituted Swift her sole heir, and gave 

28 Tlishop George Berkeley. 

half her estate, some three thousand pounds and 
more, to Berkeley, the acquaintance of an hour. 
This was in 1723. In 1724 he was presented 
to the deanery of Derry, with an income of 
eleven hundred pounds, and found himself, for 
the first time in his life, in easy if not in affluent 
circumstances. And yet, in the same summer, 
we find him posting to London with a letter from 
Swift to the Lord-Lieutenant, in which he writes 
of Berkeley, after a humorous introduction : 
" He is an absolute philosopher with regard to 
money, titles, and power, and for three years 
past has been struck with a notion of founding a 
college at the Bermudas with a charter from the 
Crown. He has seduced several of the hope- 
fullest young clergymen and others here, many 
of them well provided for, and all in the fairest 
way for preferment, but in England his conquests 
are greater, and I doubt will spread very far 
this winter. He showed me a little tract which 
he designs to publish ; and there you will see 
his whole scheme of a life academic, philosophical 
of a college founded for Indian scholars and 
missionaries; where he exorbitantly proposes 

Tlisbop George "Berkeley. 29 

a whole hundred pounds a year for himself, fifty 
pounds for a fellow, and ten for a student. His 
heart will break if his deanery be not taken from 
him and left to your Excellency's disposal." 
* * * "And, therefore, I entreat your Ex- 
cellency to use such persuasions as will keep 
one of the first men of this kingdom at home, 
or assist him by your credit to compass his 
romantic design." 

It would seem that this missionary project, 
or something like it, had been in his mind ever 
since his return to England from the continent, 
and the shock which he had received from the 
South Sea explosion with the revelations which 
it had given of the individual and social corrup- 
tion in the Old World in respect to manners 
and morals and faith. From this scene, which 
excited only disgust and despair, he turned to 
the New World with ardent and enthusiastic 
hope. His well-known lines, though evincing 
little poetic genius, are the sober expres- 
sion of his enthusiastic aspirations and his 
hopeful faith. They are at once a poem and 
prophecy, and they have made his name a 

30 Ttishop George Berkeley. 

household word from the Atlantic to the Pacific 

The Muse, disgusted at an age and clime, 
Barren of every glorious theme ; 
In distant lands now waits a better time, 
Producing subjects worthy fame. 

There shall be sung another golden age, 
The rise of empires and of arts, 
The good and great inspiring epic rage, 
The wisest heads and noblest hearts. 

Not such as Europe breeds in her decay, 

Such as she bred when fresh and young, 
When heavenly flame did animate her clay, 
By future poets shall be sung. 

Westward the course of empire takes its way, 
The four first acts already past, 
A fifth shall close the drama with the day, 
Time's noblest offspring is the last. 

His accession to a large income only kindled 
his zeal and inspired his courage for his new 

Ttishop George Berkeley. 31 

plan. " Yesterday," he writes, "I received my 
patent for the best deanery in the kingdom, that 
of Derry. It is said to be worth ^1500 per 
annum, but I do not consider it with a view to 
enriching myself, and shall be perfectly con- 
tented if it facilitates and recommends my 
scheme of Bermuda." Again, earlier, he writes : 
" Here is something that will surprise your 
Lordship, as it doth me. Mrs. Hester Van Hom- 
righ, a lady to whom I was a perfect stranger, 
having never in my life exchanged a word with 
her, died on Sunday night. Yesterday her will 
was opened, by which it appears that I am con- 
stituted executor, the advantage whereof is com- 
puted by those who understand her affairs to be 
worth ^3000. * * * I know not what your 
thoughts are on the long account I sent you from 
London to Bath of my Bermuda scheme, which 
is now stronger on my mind than ever, this 
providential event having made many things 
easy in my private affairs, which were otherwise 

The details of Berkeley's plan, the reasons 
for the selection of the Bermuda Islands, and 

32 Tiisbop George Berkeley. 

the motives to the achievement are given at 
length in the tract entitled " A Proposal for the 
better Supplying of our Churches in our Foreign 
Plantations, and for Converting the Savage 
Americans to Christianity." It would seem that 
a general plan to this effect had long been seeth- 
ing in his mind, before the legacy of Miss Van 
Homrigh and his generous salary had placed 
him in a position to assume some responsibility 
and authority. The Bermuda Islands were for 
many years esteemed the most favorable loca- 
tion for his Christian college. 

For three years after this plan had become a 
purpose he labored incessantly to interest in it 
men of political influence in church and state in 
and about London. Such was his zeal and 
skill, that he converted the -most indifferent and 
obstinate into warm patrons and friends. Five 
thousand pounds were subscribed by private 
individuals. King George I. and his Prime 
Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, were committed 
to the project, and in 1725 a charter passed the 
seals, constituting the College of St. Paul's, 
with Berkeley at its head. In the year follow- 

Bishop George Berkeley. 33 

ing, owing to Berkeley's pertinacity, twenty 
thousand pounds sterling were granted for the 
college out of certain lands sold in St. Christo- 
pher's Island, which promised to bring much 
more into the royal treasury. The distinctively 
missionary character of Berkeley's enterprise 
ought not to be overlooked, especially at a time 
when the opportunity and the obligation are un- 
derstood and acknowledged as never before of 
propagating Christianity by means of institu- 
tions of Christian learning; and this both in 
the destitute portions of our own country and 
in those countries where Christianity is scarcely 
known as a faith or a spiritual power. That a 
man like Berkeley, who had been the favorite of 
courtiers and prelates and of royalty itself, who 
was admired and gazed at as the discoverer 
and defender of a new philosophy, fraught as 
he believed with the most important principles 
for Science and Faith, and was animated by the 
hope of fresh discoveries in the field of specula- 
tion, should have been moved by the impulse to 
plant a Christian university in a lonely and 
storm-vexed island and submit himself to nar- 

34 Bishop George Berkeley. 

row conditions of life for the spiritual welfare of 
the unruly colonists and the horrid savages, of 
which he had received such uninviting reports, 
and be able to kindle in others an enthusiasm 
similar to his own, is a singular phenomenon, 
even in the history of Christian devotion. That 
the disgust and despair which were excited by 
the contemplation of the rottenness of the old 
civilization and its effete Christianity should have 
elevated his faith and hope to the confidence of 
prophecy, invests his character and his mission 
with more than a romantic interest, while it ex- 
alts him to a high place in the roll of Christian 

After many delays and disappointments, such 
as are incident to enterprises of this kind, in 
September, 1728, at the age of 43, having 
been recently married to a lady of kindred 
tastes and purposes, he embarked in a ship 
of 250 tons for Rhode Island, where the party 
landed after a voyage of little more than four 
months. The party consisted of the Dean 
and his wife, a lady friend, Miss Handcock, two 
gentlemen friends, John, afterwards Sir John 

Bishop George Berkeley. 35 

James, Bart, Mr. Richard Dalton, Mr. John 
Smybert, an artist of some promise, who was to 
be professor of architecture, painting, and draw- 
ing, and Mr. Peter Harrison, also an architect. 
Mr. Smybert and Mr. Harrison afterwards settled 
in Boston, the first as a painter and archi- 
tect, and the second as an architect. The 
first building in that city erected from Smy- 
bert's designs was the old State House ; and the 
most noticeable building of Harrison's was the 
King's Chapel. Smybert's portraits are numer- 
ous and, aside from the interest which pertains 
to them as the earliest portraits painted in the 
country by a trained artist, are at least highly 
respectable for their time. 

We are not informed why Berkeley did not 
sail directly for the Bermudas. It is, probably, 
that he thought it well not to commit himself to 
the establishment of his college till the royal 
promise was fulfilled. The reasons are mani- 
fold why he selected Rhode Island and New- 
port as the place of his temporary sojourn. 
Newport was then one of the most prosperous 
seaports on the entire Atlantic coast, with a 

36 Bishop George Berkeley. 

free harbor, easy of access, and communicating 
readily with all the English islands and colo- 
nies, maintaining an active trade in all kinds 
of commodities, including negroes kidnapped in 
Africa. It was also a promising place for the 
advantageous investment in land of the funds 
of the college. It was a place of unlimited tol- 
eration for religious opinions, and a free port for 
the exchange of goods of all descriptions. The 
presence in this town of one or more mission- 
aries at large of the Church of England was 
an additional attraction. Mr. Honeyman, the 
oldest, had been at Newport twenty-five years.* 
Trinity Church, in which he officiated, is still 
standing, with the organ which Berkeley gave 
to the parish. Across the bay, on the Narra- 
gansett peninsula, Dr. McSparran was the 
shepherd of a wealthy and rather unruly 
flock of Rhode Island planters, each one of 

* History of the Episcopal Church in Narragansett, Rhode 
Island, etc., etc., by Wilkins Updike. New- York : Henry M. 
Onderdonk, 1847. The appendix contains " America Dis- 
sected," by Rev. Dr. McSparran, whose representations of 
the people of Connecticut are in striking contrast with those 
of Berkeley. 

Bishop George Berkeley. 37 

whom had his garret full of slaves and his 
stables full of Narragansett pacers, who be- 
lieved in good cheer and roystering hospitality 
quite as fervently as they did in the Church of 
England, to which the worthy Dr. held them by 
a somewhat doubtful tenure of spirituality. 
The free and fantastic genius loci even now 
seems to cast a bewildering glamour over the 
scenery of this entire region, and to infuse an 
exciting element into its very atmosphere. 
Such a fine nature as Berkeley's would respond 
to these influences, and also respond to the 
hereditary enthusiasm of the population for 
freedom and truth and spiritual activity. In- 
deed, Roger Williams and Berkeley are in 
many particulars kindred spirits. It is worthy 
of notice also that here and there was a little 
community of Friends, who were ready to re- 
spond to all that Berkeley could teach about 
the superiority of spirit to matter and the 
potency and purity of the spiritual life. It is 
not surprising that Berkeley found the air of 
Newport so sweet and exhilarating, and that 
his poetic eye rested upon its landscape with 

38 Bishop George Berkeley. 

enthusiastic delight. It is worthy of notice, 
also, that there has never been a time since 
Berkeley blessed Rhode Island with his pres- 
ence, when his theory has not been fervently 
held with poetic fervor, and ably defended 
with logical acuteness by some leading spirit 
among its citizens. Witness, Job Durfee, au- 
thor of "The Pan Idea" and Rowland G. 
Hazard, author of "Man a Creative First Cause" 
etc., etc. 

After residing in the town for some five or 
six months, he purchased an estate of ninety-six 
acres of land, which he called Whitehall, situated 
about three miles east from the harbor, on what 
is still known as Honeyman's Hill. It is alto- 
gether probable that he regarded this pur- 
chase as an investment, there being traditional 
testimony at least that his speculations were as 
enthusiastic in respect to the future value of real 
estate in that neighborhood as the most san- 
guine of dealers have as yet entertained. Here 
he erected the house which is still standing, 
of moderate size and simple construction, but 

Bishop George Berkeley. 39 

giving evidence of art and of taste. In form 
and material and workmanship, it is creditable 
to its owner and his architect, although it has suf- 
fered not a little from neglect and $habby addi- 
tions. But the scenery can never be marred. It 
is the same now as when Berkeley's eye rested 
upon it and his pen described it, with the excep- 
tion of the loss of many a surviving forest tree 
majestic in form and size, and many a shadowy 
wood setting off the beauty of slope and lawn, 
or breaking against the sky or ocean. There 
remain the alternations of its gentle and abrupt 
undulations, of its glimpses and stretches of bay 
and ocean, of the varied combinations of sand 
and rock and turf, the latter always green from 
fog and shower, and the breeze that ever attends 
the swell of the restless ocean. The scene is 
none the less attractive now than when it was 
once the delightful home of our philosopher, who 
loved nature with the heart of the poet and 
loved his kind with the enthusiasm of humanity, 
who found God in nature not more by the nedes- 
sities of his philosophy, than by the cravings 

40 Bishop George Berkeley. 

of his heart, who, with the rarest symmetry, 
combined in himself the characteristics of phi- 
losopher, poet, and saint. 

Having settled himself to the life of a country 
gentleman, he waited with whatever patience 
he could command till the ^?o,ooo of which he 
had been assured by King and Parliament 
should be forwarded by the order of the Minis- 
ter. But he did not give himself up to an inac- 
tive life. He cultivated the solid acres of his 
estate with as much earnestness as he had specu- 
lated to the conclusion that they were only 
tough and intractable ideas. He rejoiced in 
"the still air of delightful studies" which his 
temporary retreat enforced upon him. He 
preached now and then, and all classes of people 
flocked to hear his winning and temperate words. 
Not a few stubborn Quakers were seen among 
his hearers, though they would neither bend the 
knee nor lift their broad-brimmed hats. He 
instituted a philosophical society, the outcome 
of which still exists in the famous Redwood 
Library. The condition of the remnants of the 
Indian tribes and of the negroes who were held 

^Bishop George Berkeky. 41 

in slavery moved him to Christian pity, and he 
bemoans the unchristian neglect of their spirit- 
ual condition by their masters, and the denial to 
them of Christian baptism from certain logical 
or conscientious scruples. It is interesting to 
find in the record on the books of Trinity Church 
the following entry of baptism : "June n, 1731. 
Philip Berkeley, Anthony Berkeley, Agnes 
Berkeley, negroes, received into the church." 

Singularly enough, Berkeley appears never 
to have traveled in New England. He did not 
even go to Boston till he saw it on his return 
to England, though Smybert soon settled there. 
There were obvious reasons in the badness of 
the roads, and the absence of post-coaches, and 
the limitations of sloop navigation even to New- 
York and New Haven. 

On the other hand, it was altogether natural 
and decorous that the few missionaries of the 
Church of England who were within his reach 
should be attracted to the presence of a digni- 
tary so high as a dean. Conspicuous among 
them was Rev. Samuel Johnson, of Stratford, 
Conn., who was one of the tutors who in 1722 

42 Tlishop George Berkeley. 

had, with the rector of Yale College, been led 
to question the validity of any other than Episco- 
pal ordination, and with him and another tutor 
had resigned his office. In his visit to England 
for Episcopal orders, a few years before, he 
had become acquainted with and attracted by 
Berkeley's ideal philosophy, and could do no 
less than hasten to Newport and confer with its 
welcome visitant in respect to their common 
faith and common philosophy. The result of 
this and other visits was a warm personal 
friendship which extended to the families of 
both, and was continued for more than one 
generation. First the Rev'd, afterwards Dr., 
Johnson, and subsequently the President of 
Columbia College, he became a sturdy adhe- 
rent of the Berkeleian system, and in 1752 
published a book in its defence, which was 
printed by Dr. Franklin in Philadelphia. It is 
entitled "Noetica, or Things relating to the 
Mind or Understanding, and Ethica, or Things 
relating to the Behavior." It is able and orig- 
inal, and does credit to the breadth and acute- 
ness of its author. I 

"Bishop George Berkeley. 43 

Johnson, as was natural, explained to his 
curious and intelligent listener all that he knew 
of the social and religious life of New England. 
By his influence, doubtless, Rector Williams, of 
Yale College, was brought into correspondence 
with the Dean. The influence of Rev. Jared 
Eliot of Killingworth, now Clinton, the friend 
of Dr. Franklin, one of the fellows of the col- 
lege, was also put into requisition to interest 
Berkeley in the young institution. The evi- 
dence is ample that Johnson was kindly and 
generous in his charity towards the college 
which had educated him and of which he had 
been an officer. It appears from their corre- 
spondence that when Berkeley at first proposed 
to send a few books to the library he was 
doubtful whether they would be welcomed, on 
account of their bearing upon the question of 
church-polity. And yet from all that this frank 
correspondence reveals, the attitude of both 
these gentlemen to the college, which was then 
identified with the Congregational system, was 
singularly magnanimous. The result in the 
subsequent benefaction of Berkeley is a decisive 

44 "Bishop George Berkeley. 

proof that this must have been true of both. It 
was reported by one of his hearers that Berkeley 
had taken the pains to say in the pulpit, " Give 
the devil his due, John Calvin was a great man." 
All his utterances with respect to Puritan and 
Romanist prove that he was singularly broad- 
minded in respect to all "who profess and call 
themselves Christians." 

As we have already explained, Berkeley re- 
garded himself as a mere sojourner in Rhode 
Island. Some suggestions or overtures must 
have been made to induce him to establish his 
college at Newport. But he declined them all, 
and adhered to his original determination. Here 
he waited, anxiously expecting favorable tidings 
from England of the dispatch of his long- 
expected twenty thousand pounds, and doubtless 
occasionally chafing under the unexplained de- 
lay. On one occasion this delay is excused by 
the fear started by the Court party, that the es- 
tablishment of a missionary college in America 
might tend to the independency of the colonies. 
Under all these vexations his resolute and 
upright spirit continually appears in his letters. 
While he insists on the one hand that the money 

Bishop George Berkeley. 45 

pledged by king and parliament would certainly 
be paid, and the more inasmuch as the Crown 
had already received three times this amount 
from the sales at St. Kitts, and while he con- 
fesses that except for his own pledge he would 
sooner be in Londonderry, of which he was 
dean, than to remain in Rhode Island, yet he 
declares that he shall remain in Rhode Island 
till the question is decided, even at the risk of 
losing his deanery and its ample salary. This 
suspense was finally terminated. The bishop of 
London presses Walpole for a decisive answer, 
and finally obtains it in the following very intel- 
ligible terms : " If you put the question to me 
as a minister, I must and can answer you that 
the money shall undoubtedly be paid, as soon 
as suits the public convenience ; but if you ask 
me as a friend whether Dean Berkeley shall 
continue in America, expecting the payment of 
twenty thousand pounds, I advise him by all 
means to return to Europe and give up his 
present expectations." 

This answer Berkeley regarded as decisive, 
and in the autumn of 1 73 1 he sailed for London, 
having spent about three years in America. 

4 6 Ttishop George Berkeley. 

True to his cause, and with no abatement of 
love or zeal, he preaches, soon after his landing, 
the annual sermon before the venerable Society 
for the Propagation of the Gospel, in which he 
re-expresses his old convictions in respect to 
the obligation to found seminaries of Christian 
learning in the colonies, at the same time that 
he manifests .the most catholic feeling and just 
appreciation of the value and usefulness of the 
colleges and "religious societies" which he had 
found in America. The interest already felt in 
Yale College, which had been fostered by the 
magnanimous devotion of Dr. Johnson, was 
again manifested by the conveyance to it of his 
estate of ninety-six acres in Rhode Island, as the 
foundation of the Berkeley scholarships. If we 
consider the circumstances under which this gift 
was offered, and the condition of the college at 
the time it was made, it was one of the most 
generous gifts which it ever received. If we 
also consider the man by whom it was given 
and the circumstances under which it was 
offered, it is one of the most worthy to be com- 
memorated. The income of this estate was set 

"Bishop George Berkeley. 47 

apart to provide three Berkeley scholarships for 
the promotion of classical learning.* These 
scholarships have been proposed every year till 
the present, although the income which they 
bring of fifty-five dollars a year is not very 
stimulating. To be a Berkeley scholar was 
formerly a distinguished honor, and it is greatly 
to be regretted that, in consequence of the foun- 
dation of more lucrative fellowships, these prizes 
are now not more earnestly sought for. No 
more desirable gift in the interests of classical 
learning, in Yale College, can be named, than 
the enlarged endowment of these three scholar- 
ships into classical fellowships worthy of the 
name of Berkeley. In the year 1733 Berkeley 
made another princely gift to the library from 
himself and his friends of about one thousand 
volumes, valued at four hundred pounds, many 
of which still remain in good condition, and 
stand as a perpetual memorial of the munificent 
generosity of our great benefactor. A similar 
gift was also sent to Harvard College, which 
was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1 764. 
* See Note E. 

48 Bishop George Berkeley. 

But I have not done with Berkeley's life- in 
America, nor with the fruits which it bore. The 
greatest and most memorable achievement of 
his residence in America is his work called 
" Alciphron, or the Minute Philosopher." This 
was composed at Whitehall, much of it beneath 
the well-known Hanging Rocks near his own 
home, and contains abundant references to the 
scenery by which he was surrounded and th6 life 
which he lived. For acuteness of logic, for con - 
vincingness of argumentation, for felicity of illus- 
tration, for elevation of sentiment, and for mar- 
vellous clearness and purity of style, this work 
is justly distinguished as a classical treatise in 
English philosophical literature. It is not ex- 
travagant to say that it is the best reproduction 
of the Platonic Dialogue which we have in the 
English language. It abounds in local color and 
allusions. One who stands on Honeyman's Hill 
and turns over its pages, can follow with his eye 
the several features of the landscape which the 
author wrought into his pictures of nature and of 
life. Even a group of fox-hunters rushes across 
the landscape as Berkeley had seen them many 

^Bishop George Berkeley. 49 

a time in Narragansett. One almost feels the 
Newport breezes as he re-creates the visions 
which the author depicts. From every page the 
reader has fresh impressions of the exhilarating 
yet placid life which this saintly enthusiast was 
living in the New World, while he was waiting 
impatiently to labor for its good. It is of lit- 
tle consequence how we decide the question 
whether this treatise should be classed among 
the products of English or American literature, 
so long as it is breezy with the American atmos- 
phere and bright with American life. 

The theme, however, was in no sense Ameri- 
can. The movement which it described and 
sought to resist was English, as the writers and 
thinkers who are portrayed and criticized are 
English as seen at a distance by a looker-on, 
through the loopholes of his remote retreat. 
Viewed dogmatically, it was a portraiture and 
criticism of the negative opinions of the times. 
It was an honest attempt to arrest the tide of 
atheistic and anti-Christian opinion, then at its 
flood, which had been flowing for a half-century, 
and which ebbed at last in the bloody ooze and 

50 Ttisbop George Berkeley. 

foam of the French Revolution. This unbelief 
was Protean in its phases, from the pot-house 
ribaldry of Mandeville to the ambitious Plato- 
nism of Shaftesbury, from the daring acuteness 
of Collins to the subtle insinuations of Hume. 
Its pervasive energy was more complete over 
both the cultivated and the common mind than 
ever before or since. The contest between faith 
and unbelief was severe, and the issue at times 
seemed doubtful. Notwithstanding the solid 
and varied ability of the learned champions of 
Theistic and Christian Truth, and the fiery and 
fervent zeal of the Great Evangelistic Revival, 
which arrested its course, it was not till Europe 
had seen and felt the judgments of God, near 
the close of the last century, that the reaction 
was complete in both faith and morals, in lit- 
erature and public sentiment. The writings on 
both sides of this controversy are a library them- 
selves, and the most of them now repose in 
ponderous dignity upon dusty shelves ; but 
among them there are two of conspicuous 
value, and these are the " Analogy " of Butler 
and the "Alciphron" of Berkeley, the one of 

^Bishop George "Berkeley. 51 

which was published in 1736, and the other 
in 1732. 

The value of Berkeley's treatise for the mod- 
ern reader is not alone or chiefly in its argu- 
ments, cogent and keenly put as most of them 
are. It lies rather in its lifelike and piquant 
pictures of the times, and the keen and genial 
humor with which the author disposes of the 
crowd of freethinkers as they pass in review 
before him, holding up their motley creeds and 
their thin and shabby philosophies of life. As 
a picture of the times, "Alciphron" is of priceless 
and permanent value. It can never be anti- 
quated so long as philosophy shall renew its 
foolish and never-ending battle with personality 
in man and in God, or criticism shall back its 
new theories with the old assumption that there 
is no God in history, or that He cannot break 
the methods of nature when man needs to be 
confronted with His personal presence. The 
reader of "Alciphron" will find that Agnosti- 
cism is no novelty as a philosophical theory, 
although in Berkeley's day it was propounded 
on the one hand by a provost and a bishop, and 

52 "Bishop George Berkeley. 

on the other by troops of indolent doubters, 
similarly as in our time it has been taught by 
an Oxford divine on the one hand, and on the 
other by a philosopher who claims to be master 
in every line of thinking. Dr. Dwight in the 
year 1 803 procured the republication of this 
treatise as an antidote to the infidelity of his 
times. It was printed in New Haven, and stray 
copies are to be found in some of the old houses 
in Connecticut. I ought not to omit to mention 
that the work first appeared in England in 
March, 1732, two months after Berkeley arrived 
in London, and that it passed to a second edi- 
tion the same year. I am also reminded that 
I ought to say a word of Berkeley as a 
writer of English prose, inasmuch as he is, per- 
haps, at his best in "Alciphron." His acquaint- 
ance with Dean Swift in Dublin and with 
Richard Steele in London, as also a multitude 
of incidents besides, show very clearly that he 
sympathized warmly with the critical and other 
influences which produced the English style of 
Queen Anne. Not long after his first emer- 

V is bop George ^Berkeley. 53 

gence in London, we find him contributing sev- 
eral papers, fourteen in all, to the Guardian, 
from the i4th of March to the 5th of August, 
several of which are quasi satirical and argu- 
mentative against the freethinkers. All of these 
are marked by the lively combination of wit and 
argument which distinguish his maturer works. 
While they are not inferior to the essays by 
his associates, they are not specially distinguished 
by the simplicity, smoothness, and freedom on 
the one hand, and the crispness, brevity, and 
personal flavor on the other, which distinguish 
his more elaborate works. Of the style of all 
these writings, hardly any praise can be too ex- 
travagant. The wordiness and mannerism which 
make the essays of Addison to drag somewhat 
heavily are absent from all the disquisitions of 
Berkeley ; while the personality of the author 
finds full and forcible expression in the easy use 
of a diction which fits his thoughts like a well- 
made garment. Not unfrequently a colloquial 
term or epithet is allowed, but never with any 
loss of dignity or sacrifice of strength ; while 

54 'Bishop George Berkeley. 

good-natured humor gives a fresh and spicy 
flavor to the strong and vigorous thoughts which 
are never wanting. 

Berkeley had returned to England somewhat 
weakened in health but unbroken in spirits, with 
his energy and ardor not a whit abated. He 
seems to have lingered awhile among his many 
friends in and about London, and to have re- 
newed his attendance at Court and his philo- 
sophical interviews with the metaphysical Queen 
Caroline, the pupil of Leibnitz and the patron 
of Bishop Butler. He must have had some 
promise of preferment, as in 1 734 he was made 
Bishop of Cloyne, in Ireland, a diocese not far 
from Cork. He settled himself at once in this 
attractive home, and devoted all his energies to 
his official duties and the interests of the peo- 
ple of Ireland. He very soon published the 
" Analyst," which occasioned not a little excite- 
ment among the mathematicians. In it he 
resumed a line of argument which he had sug- 
gested years before, that the higher mathematics 
employed conceptions which involved assump- 
tions which as truly exclude rational definitions 

TSishop George Berkeley. 55 

as do any of the mysteries of the Christian 
faith. This was followed by a war of pam- 
phlets, and excited not a little asperity of feeling. 
Some years after, he began the publication of 
the " Querist," which was issued in three parts, 
and contained in all about six hundred brief and 
telling questions respecting the disabilities of 
Ireland, many of which involve the profound- 
est principles of political and social science. 
The doughty and dogmatic Warburton writes of 
it in 1750 as "well worth attending to by the 
Irish nation. He is indeed a great man, and 
the only visionary that I ever knew that was." 
(Letters, etc.) Sir James Mackintosh says: 
"Perhaps the 'Querist* contains more hints, 
then original, still unapplied, in legislation and 
political economy, than are to be found in any 
equal space." Many of these hints sparkle 
with humor, and they are all inspired with 
humane and patriotic feeling, in which the 
ecclesiastic and the humorist are lost sight 
of in the Christian and the man. Had the 
half of these suggestions been followed at 
the time they were made, the subsequent 

56 Ttishop George Berkeley. 

history of Ireland, and of England in its 
relations to Ireland, would have been in 
far less measure a history of tears and of 

Berkeley resided in Cloyne about eighteen 
years, during much of which time he was occu- 
pied with a singular subject of practical and 
speculative interest. This was none other than 
the virtues of Tar-water for the cure of a 
great variety of bodily diseases, which he was 
led oddly enough to connect with the highest 
themes of human speculation. As the result 
of his experiments and speculations, he pub- 
lished in 1744 an essay which in its second 
edition was called " Siris," a chain of philosophi- 
cal reflections and inquiries concerning the vir- 
tues of tar- water and divers other subjects which 
he contrived to connect together and attach to his 
singular theme. This book, he used to say, cost 
him more thought and research than any other 
of his life. It was wittily and truly said of it 
that it began with tar-water and ended with the 
Trinity. Whatever might be said of its meta- 
physical value, it cannot be questioned that it 

Bishop George Berkeley. 57 

was first inspired by a truly humane interest. 
Not long after Berkeley's removal to Cloyne, 
the whole country was desolated by famine and 
epidemic dysentery. The Bishop remembered 
that, when in Rhode Island, he had heard of 
resin, turpentine, and tar as favorite remedies 
for diseases of this kind, especially with the 
Indians, and had been induced to make a trial 
of their virtues. He found the remedy so 
efficacious that he recommended it in letters to 
his friends, and then more publicly, as might be 
expected. It was not long before he found 
himself the champion and patron of the remedy 
in which his confidence had so rapidly increased. 
The members of the medical profession were 
irate at the intermeddling of a layman in mat- 
ters of bodily healing, even though he was so 
revered an ecclesiastic in matters spiritual ; while 
the Bishop's zeal and pertinacity were enforced 
by his human sympathy, in spite of the opposi- 
tion and ridicule of the Faculty. Manufactories 
of tar- water were set up in England and Amer- 
ica, and " Siris" was translated into several of 
the European languages. 


58 Bishop George Berkeley. 

The excitement and the humor of the situa- 
tion are well set forth in the following lines by 
the Bishop : 

To drink or not to drink, that is the doubt; 
With pro or con the learned would make it out. 
Britons, drink, the jolly prelate cries ; 
What the prelate persuades, the doctor denies. 
But why need the parties so learnedly fight ? 
A choleric Jurin so fiercely indite ? 
Since our senses can tell if this liquor be right. 
What agrees with his stomach and what with his head, 
The drinker may feel though he can't write or read. 
Then authority is nothing, the doctors are men, 
And who drinks tar-water will drink it again. 

That the remedy should prove so popular is 
not surprising to one who remembers that vari- 
ous preparations of tar are still sold as sov- 
ereign remedies for manifold diseases. I do not 
propose to trace the links of the chain by which 
Berkeley connects the resinous element in tar 
with the highest flights of human speculation. 
To do so would require an analysis of the chem- 
istry and physiology and physics of Berkeley's 
time, which were crude enough at the best. The 

Bishop George Berkeley. 59 

logic of Berkeley's attempt may remind us of 
sundry speculations in our own times in respect 
to ozone, with its fancied relations to resin and 
tar and its supposed life-giving and life-renovat- 
ing qualities. A still better modern instance in 
the opinion of some might be furnished by the 
aspiring speculations by which such a thinker as 
Professor Clifford found mind-stuff in every 
earthy substance with the capacity of being 
transformed into spirit under the requisite scien- 
tific conditions, or in the confidence with which 
Professor Huxley makes dead matter lift itself up 
into living protoplasm, or the sanguine Tyndall 
sees visions of rudimentary philosophers floating 
in fiery clouds, or Herbert Spencer evolves the 
universe of living spirits out of the original 
fire-mist by the impulse acquired in its first rush 
" from a rarer to a denser medium." There is 
this difference in favor of Berkeley's theory, 
that the Absolute which he finds or assumes, 
when he is reached, is intelligent, personal, and 
supreme. The new metaphysics of materialistic 
evolution has provided for its thinkers a ladder 
by which men seem to ascend to the loftiest 

60 Bishop George Berkeley. 

heights of speculation without finding either 
angels or God ; and for this reason, if for no 
other, it is hardly fair to sneer at Bishop Berke- 
ley for seeking to trace the steps by which 
ancient speculation sought to ascend upward 
to the ineffable and the absolute, and to con- 
nect matter and spirit and God by the atten- 
uated links of the subtle chain which binds 
being and thought together. 

John Stuart Mill thinks that while Siris adds 
nothing "of the smallest value to Berkeley's 
thoughts elsewhere expressed, it overloads them 
with a heap of useless and mostly unintelligible 
jargon, not of his own, but of the Plotinists." 
Professor Fraser, his eminent biographer, as also 
his zealous critic and disciple, finds in it a re- 
statement in the terms of the ancient schools 
of his original idealism, with important modifi- 
cations of the thoughts which in his earlier 
writings are so sharply cut and clearly enounced. 

To us it seems to be rather a collection of the 
speculations of the old philosophers and the cur- 
rent physicists on the elements and products 

Bishop George Berkeley. 61 

which make up the universe of matter and 
spirit; and these rather as materials for medi- 
tation than as teaching, or even suggesting a 
completed system. It is the work of a philoso- 
pher, poet, and divine, composed as he might be 
supposed to sit in his well-furnished library while 
he glances at the titles of the folios that stand 
upon the shelves, till he finds himself thinking 
aloud while he meditates on their opinions on one 
subject or another, after the subtle logic of a 
memory that had at once been enriched and 
stimulated by the studies of half a century ; with 
his hand always upon Plato, his favorite author, 
as he is represented in his portrait. Doubtless, 
the threads of connection are now and then 
peculiar to himself, but in general they are easy 
to be followed, even though they are not in the 
line of the severest logic. Many of these 
thoughts are profound for their practical wis- 
dom, and breathe the spirit of noble enthusiasm. 
There are not a few passages of the most ele- 
vated sentiment, expressed in language which 
has made them classical. The following are 

or THE 


62 Bishop George Berkeley. 

not infrequently quoted and referred to, but can 
never be pondered too seriously : 

" Prevailing studies are of no small consequence to 
a state, the religion, manners, and civil government 
of a country, ever taking some bias from its philosophy, 
which affects not only the minds of its professors and 
students, but also the opinions of all the better sort, 
and the practice of the whole people, remotely and 
consequently, indeed, though not inconsiderably. 
Have not the polemic and scholastic philosophy been 
observed to produce controversies in law and religion ? 
And have not fatalism and Sadducism gained ground, 
during the general passion for the Corpuscularian and 
mechanical philosophy, which hath prevailed for about 
a century. * * * Certainly had the philosophy 
of Socrates and Pythagoras prevailed in this age, 
among those who think themselves too wise to receive 
the dictates of the Gospel, we should not have seen 
interest take so fast hold on the minds of men, nor 
public spirit to be fsvvatav eorjOeiav a generous folly, 
among those who are reckoned to be the most knowing 
as well as the most getting part of mankind. 

" It might well be thought serious trifling to tell my 
readers that the greatest men had ever a high esteem 
for Plato, whose writings are the touchstone of a hasty 
and shallow mind; whose philosophy has been the 

Bishop George Berkeley. 63 

admiration of ages; which supplied patriots, magis- 
trates, and law-givers to the most flourishing states, 
as well as fathers to the church and doctors to the 
schools. Albeit, in these days the depths of that old 
learning are rarely fathomed ; and yet it were happy for 
these lands if our young nobility and gentry, instead 
of modern maxims, would imbibe the notions of the 
great men of antiquity. But in these freethinking 
times, many an empty head is shook at Aristotle and 
Plato as well as at the Holy Scriptures." (331.) 

What can be finer than the conclusion : 
" The eye by long use comes to see even in the 
darkest cavern ! and there is no subject so obscure but 
we may discern some glimpse of truth by long poring 
on it. Truth is the cry of all, but the game of a 
few. * * * He that would make a real progress in 
knowledge must dedicate his age as well as his youth, 
the later growth as well as first fruits, at the altar of 
Truth." (368.) 

The domestic life of Berkeley at Whitehall 
and at Cloyne was eminently elevated and 
lovely. He cherished the acts and amenities of 
culture, with ardent and sustained enthusiasm. 
Music, drawing, and painting were followed by 
many if not all of his household. A contempo- 

64 Bishop George Berkeley. 

rary thus describes his home : " He has suc- 
cessfully transplanted the polite arts, which 
before flourished in a warmer soil, to this north- 
ern climate. Painting and music are no longer 
strangers in Ireland, or confined to Italy. In 
the Episcopal palace of Cloyne, the eye is en- 
tertained with a great variety of good paintings, 
as well as the ear with concerts of excellent 
music. There are here some pieces of the best 
masters, as a Magdalen of Rubens, some heads 
by Van Dyke and Kneller, besides several 
good paintings performed in the house, etc." 
He writes himself: " Your care in providing the 
Italian psalms set to music, the four-stringed 
bass violin, and the antique bass viol, requires 
our repeated thanks. We have already a bass 
viol made in Southwark 1730, and reputed 
the best in England, and through your means 
we are possessed of the best in France." His 
paternal love and tenderness are conspicuous in 
all his letters. Of his daughter he writes : 
" Bu^such a daughter ! so bright a little gem ; 
that to prevent her doing mischief among the 
illiterate squires I am resolved to treat her like 

Ttishop George Berkeley. 65 

a boy and make her study eight hours a day." 
Of his favorite son who died : " I was a man 
relieved from the amusement of politics, visits, 
and what the world calls pleasure. I had a 
little friend educated always under my own 
eye, whose painting delighted me, whose music 
ravished me, and whose lively, gay spirit was a 
continual feast. It has pleased God to take him 
hence. God, I say, in His mercy hath deprived 
me of this pretty, gay plaything. His parts 
and person, his innocence and purity, his par- 
ticular uncommon affection for me, had gained 
too much upon me. Not content to be fond of 
him, I became vain of him. I had my heart too 
much upon him, more perhaps than I ought to 
have done upon anything in this world." His 
wife was a person of attractive manners and 
many accomplishments, but especially distin- 
guished for her saintly and so-called pietistic 
temper. An effective and brilliant portrait of 
her husband from her hands is at Trinity Col- 
lege, Dublin. 

It is pleasant to know that during the twenty 
years or more of Berkeley's life after leaving 

66 Bishop George Berkeley. 

America, he maintained an intimate friendly in- 
tercourse with the Johnson family, and that he 
expressed his continued gratification at the pros- 
perity of this college till the end of his life, as 
also at the spirit in which his benefaction was 
regarded and administered. In 1745 he gave 
some excellent suggestions to Dr. Johnson re- 
specting the foundation of King's, since Colum- 
bia, College, of which the Doctor was the first 
president, and uniformly expressed entire satis- 
faction in the results of his own efforts to pro- 
mote Christian education in this country. 

It will be remembered that it accorded with 
his tastes, and was a feature of his plan to pro- 
vide in his college not only appliances for in- 
struction in the classics, mathematics, and the- 
ology, but also for culture in the fine arts, 
especially in music, drawing, painting, and 
architecture. He brought with him, as his pro- 
fessor of drawing, painting, and architecture, 
John Smybert, then a painter in London who had 
made good studies in Italy. Before the scheme 
of the college was abandoned, Smybert estab- 
lished himself in Boston, where he was the first 

Tttsbop George Berkeley. 67 

portrait painter of any reputation which Boston 
had known. 

We have already noted that as an architect 
Smybert furnished the designs for the old State 
House in that city, which is still carefully pre- 
served. Peter Harrison was an architect by 
profession, a pupil of Sir John Van Brugh, 
who, after a sojourn in England, returned to 
Boston for the remainder of his life. He gave 
the designs for the present King's Chapel in 
1749, which alone should invest his name and 
memory with respect. 

With his two other companions Berkeley 
maintained an intimate and unbroken friendship 
till the end of his own life. Mr. Dalton sur- 
vived him. Mr., afterwards Sir, John James 
became a member of the Roman Catholic com- 
munion in 1741, not long before his death. His 
intention to do this called forth a long letter from 
Berkeley, in which his conceptions of the Chris- 
tian life and the evidences of the Christian sys- 
tem are set forth at great length and with a 
delightful catholicity of spirit towards all Chris- 
tian believers. It is interesting to know that 

68 Ttisbop George Berkeley. 

Sir John had announced his intention to give 
the Bishop the bulk of his large fortune, but 
was dissuaded by what is called a " thunder- 
ing letter" from Berkeley to Dalton, saying: 
"Do you tell James that I will not have his 

In 1752 Berkeley carried into effect a plan 
which he long had in mind, viz., to resign 
his Episcopate, that he might superintend the 
education of his second surviving son and 
enjoy complete retirement from active service. 
His petition to be allowed to resign was pre- 
sented to the King, who replied that " he should 
die as bishop, but might live where he pleased." 
Accordingly, he went to Oxford to live a retired 
life, but survived only a few months. On the 
evening of the i4thof January, 1753, while his 
wife was reading from the fifteenth chapter of 
the First Epistle to the Corinthians, his daughter 
turned to offer him a cup of tea, and found that 
he was gone from the earth. 

There could scarcely be a more fitting death 
after a life of such eminent usefulness. A man 
so conspicuously unworldly, so acute in intellect, 

Bishop George Berkeley. 69 

accomplished in culture, unselfish in spirit, joyous 
in his sympathy with art and science and learn- 
ing, buoyant in spirit and serene in his Christian 
hopes, was fitly dismissed from the earth by 
an Ethanasian such as this. 

Here ends my simple and I fear somewhat 
tedious narrative. It speaks for itself, and I trust 
will furnish all the apology which I need to make 
for attempting to commemorate the two-hun- 
dredth birthday of one whose connection with 
Yale College is one of the most interesting 
events in its annals. My esteemed predecessor, 
Rector Williams, in a letter of thanks to Berkeley, 
expresses the conviction that the college will be 
moved by a sense of gratitude to " always retain 
a favorable opinion of his idea of material sub- 
stance as consisting in a stated union and com- 
bination of sensible ideas." No student of logic 
or philosophy will, it is hoped, be so obtuse as 
not to appreciate the sharp analysis and com- 
pact logic which led Berkeley to his idealism, 
or to esteem the work of criticism and reply to 
be easy. But whatever may be thought of his 
philosophy, we are confident that no man who 

70 Tlisbop George Berkeley. 

becomes familiar with his character and follows 
his career can withhold from him the tribute of 
affectionate admiration. 

In the chapel of our daily worship two win- 
dows always meet the eyes of the congrega- 
tion one honored with the name of Jonathan 
Edwards and the other with that of George 
Berkeley. Each was distinguished for acuteness 
of intellect, for vigor of logic, for Christian 
and missionary "self-devotion, and for an ardent 
interest in Christian education. May these 
names ever be honored and the men who bore 
them ; and as Yale College becomes more em- 
phatically and conspicuously than now the home 
of Christian science and of Christian letters, 
may these names glow with a still brighter 
lustre in its annals. 


NOTE A. It is worthy of notice that only a few years 
afterwards, surrounded, as it were, by similar logical and spirit- 
ual impulses, Jonathan Edwards drew the same conclusions 
as Berkeley had done from the same data in Locke's Essay, 
which he studied in Yale College at the age of 14. Among 
his " Notes on the Mind " * there is to be found a complete 
and consistent system of idealism which is almost identical 
with Berkeley's. It has been conjectured that possibly at 
the time when these notes were written, between 1717 and 
1719, Edwards may have seen a copy of one of Berkeley's 
earlier treatises, published from seven to nine years before ; 
perhaps through the agency of Dr. Johnson, who was tutor 
in the college at that time. There is no evidence that a 
copy of any of the works referred to was known at the col- 
lege, and there is reason to believe that they were not then 
accessible. Indeed, Dr. Johnson is said to have first become 
interested in Berkeley's idealism when he went to England 
in 1723 for Episcopal ordination. Edwards makes no refer- 
ence to Berkeley, nor does he intimate that any writer had 
suggested the argument for idealism to his mind. The state- 

* See Works of President Edwards. New-York, 1830. Vol. I., 
Note H., p. 664. 

72 Appendix. 

ments and reasonings are all apparently the honest and 
independent conclusions of his surpassingly clear and logical 
understanding. These notes, though the work of Edwards's 
youth between the ages of 14 and 18, it should be remem- 
bered were first printed in the year 1830. 

In his treatise on Original Sin, Edwards employs phrase- 
ology that was distinctively Berkeleian, and uses language 
which indicates, without naming Berkeley, that he has him 
distinctly in mind. Some other New England theologians 
have employed definitions and processes of reasoning in 
which the idealism of Berkeley may be distinctly traced, if 
it is not distinctly confessed. To these they were doubtless 
impelled by the tendency of the Calvinistic theology to ex- 
alt the Deity in every relation which he can hold to man or 
the universe. 

NOTE B. The attention of most of the students and critics 
of modern speculation has more generally been limited to the 
idealism of Berkeley as the distinctive and salient feature of 
his teaching, which aroused the attention of his critics in un- 
wearied efforts for its refutation ; and in that way stimulated 
philosophic inquiry, and brought into existence comments, 
criticisms, and emendations without number, in all the Pro- 
tean forms of modern speculation. Thus it is conceived that 
Hume followed Berkeley only with a wider and more con- 
sistent application of his critical questioning, simply by a 
stricter and more rigorous adherence to his method; that 
Stewart and Hamilton were aroused to protest against the 
premises and method of both by a reductio ad absurdum ; 
while Kant, with a more searching analysis, tore away the 
imperfect foundations on which all had builded, and sup- 
plied their plaqe with a structure of his own, which his suc- 
cessors in their turn have sought to destroy and replace. 

Appendix. 73 

The sole service that Berkeley is supposed to have rendered 
was to demonstrate the weakness of Locke's " Analysis " by a 
consistent application of some of his definitions, and a some- 
what narrow and over-rigorous interpretation of his theory 
of the origin and nature of knowledge. Hence Locke, 
Berkeley, and Hume are more commonly grouped together 
as the consistent disciples of the same school, with which 
the Scottish philosophers are supposed to have a very close 
connection, and against which the German school was 
aroused to an effective protest. The single peculiarity by 
which Berkeley is distinguished in the view of such critics 
is by his persistent idealism, *'. <?., his denial of the reality 
of matter, which is regarded as somewhat less consistent and 
rigorous than Hume's denial of spirit ; while both are held 
to be desperate Nihilists in respect to everything besides, 
that philosophy cares or contends for. 

A close scrutiny of his system will reveal the truth, that 
Berkeley confined his negative or skeptical position to the 
denial of matter as an obscure, unknown something over 
and beyond the ideas occasioned or produced in the human 
mind ; while in respect to every other important position he 
was far in advance of his time, and anticipated many of the 
questions with which modern speculation has been forced to 
concern itself, and most of the conclusions which the soundest 
philosophy accepts. As an idealist, he denied the metaphysi- 
cal necessity of matter ; but by the same necessity he affirmed 
the reality of spirit, not only as the agent or subject of the 
act of knowledge, but as the object of the same in the form 
of ideas. Spiritual being he held to be directly known as the 
conscious ego which is the agent of knowledge; as the free 
and responsible ego which is moral ; and as the Eternal spirit 
who wakens in dependent spirits those ideas of which the 
senses are capable, and binds them together in those relation- 


74 Appendix. 

ships which make memory, experience, and science possible. 
Berkeley was eminently a Theistic idealist, affirming the. 
necessary and self-evident existence of the absolute Spirit as 
the permanent sustainer of those ideas which alternately wake 
and sleep, die and live again, in the subjective experiences of 
those dependent spirits that have their being in Him. What 
was still more important in a philosophic sense, he affirmed 
the original capacity in the human spirit to discern and trust 
in the relations of id( as by direct intuition; which relations 
are the laws of God's actings in the objective universe of 
ideas, and the conditions of man's subjective interpretation 
of the same. In a word, his system provided for God, for 
created and dependent spirits, and for the permanent mani- 
festation of God in ideas, connected by permanent relation- 
ships, which are interpretable by man, and thus form the 
materials for Science and Religion, and the media for a 
constant communication between God and man.* 

It is true all these points of his system were not in his life- 
time fully expanded or formally defended, for the reason that 
they were not fully appreciated by current criticism neither 
as to what they displaced nor as to what they supplied. This is 
explained in great part by the circumstance that Locke had 
completely taken possession of the thinking of his times, 
and been accepted in the general judgment as having started 
all the problems and answered all the questions which could 
possibly be asked or thought of. The more conspicuous 
was this sagacity of Berkeley for this very reason, and the 
higher his claim to the eminence which is his rightful due. 
We venture the opinion that, as Berkeley becomes a second 
time the object of critical attention in the light of modern 
research, his reach of thought and. his comprehensive sagacity 

* Cf. Principles of Human Knowledge, 89. 

Appendix. 75 

will be more and more highly appreciated, and his name will 
rank higher in the estimation of philosophical critics and 
historians. It will be seen more and more clearly and be 
acknowledged more generally that he not only rendered an 
important service in his time by his earnest protest against 
serious oversights in current speculation, but that his direct 
contributions to the principles which philosophy must hold 
as fundamental were by no means inconsiderable. Most of 
these positions are announced rather than expanded ; they 
are proposed rather than defended. Their varied and mani- 
fold applications, and their indispensable necessity to the in- 
terests of science and of faith, had not been brought to light 
by Kant's critical analysis. Notwithstanding all this, or 
rather on account of all this, the greater is the sagacity 
which provided so solid a foundation for the most important 
beliefs of man. The subjective Idealism of Berkeley it 
may be easy for us to refute and explain. Possibly we may 
find in it a proof of enthusiastic weakness and youthful im- 
petuosity. But his objective spiritualism can never be set 
aside, while the Theism with which he supplemented science 
makes itself more and more manifest as a scientific necessity 
in the confessed judgment of an increasing number of the 
profoundest thinkers. The positiveness and naivete* with 
which Berkeley assumes the existence of God, as an axiom 
in philosophy, may be a scandal to many speculative thinkers ; 
but the history of speculation, especially in more recent 
times, must demonstrate to a greater number the conclusion 
that scientific Theism is a philosophical necessity. 

At the first thought, it seems altogether incongruous and 
unseemly to connect Kant or his speculations with Berke- 
ley and his philosophy, the one is so breezy and sunny, 
the other so sombre and cloudy ; the one is so open and 
direct, the other is so evasive and remote; and yet the two 

76 Appendix. 

are more nearly connected than at first sight would seem to 
be possible, not merely by their historic connection through 
Hume under the law of action and reaction, but by the 
problems with which both grappled so earnestly, although 
their solutions sometimes vary so widely. We find them in 
certain particulars nearer to one another than we should at first 
have suspected. The matter which Berkeley so passionately 
rejects while he retains the sensations which are all we 
know, is, as he conceives it, not greatly unlike the Ding an 
sich which Kant so pertinaciously ignores, while he accepts 
the phenomena, which somehow he holds to be its repre- 
sentative. The time and space which Kant acknowledges 
as the forms and only as the forms of our direct knowledge 
affirmed or presumed of sense experiences by an a priori 
necessity, are accepted by Berkeley as a priori relations, 
because necessarily involved in the continued activity of God. 
Kant's categories of our generalized thinking are matched 
by Berkeley's original notions of relations between the 
ideas which are discerned and affirmed directly by the mind. 
The ideas, however, which Kant beheld as shivering ghosts 
through the mists of his timid skepticism and which he was 
forced to recognize as real by a faith which he could only say 
was a make-believe, of God, the soul, and the cosmos, 
these were to Berkeley the pillars and foundation of his philo- 
sophic faith. While Kant finds in conscience the command 
to believe in God, because God is needed as a chief of 
police for the moral universe, Berkeley finds in God the 
personal foundation and enforcer of duty, because duty is 
the voice of the reason and goodness, which are but other 
names for the thoughts and actings of God. 

While we may not say of the system of Berkeley that it 
answers all the questions which philosophy bids us ask, we 
can say that its answers, so far as they are given, are clear, 

Appendix. 77 

coherent, comprehensive, and inspiring, while Kant perpet- 
ually tantalizes us with solutions which we do not always 
understand and cannot always accept. It is gratifying to 
find evidence that the fashion of philosophizing which was 
set so positively by Kant, gives signs of having worn itself 
out, and that a new fashion, which is nearer to nature and 
sanctioned by common sense, is beginning to find currency 
even in Germany, after which the true Absolute is more and 
more distinctly recognized as a personal intelligence, the 
necessary relations of whose self-existence are at once the 
objects and the elements of a solid philosophy. 

NOTE C. Nothing is more interesting in modern philos- 
ophy than the admiration of John Stuart Mill for Berkeley as 
a philosopher ; while nothing is more amusing than the par- 
tial and even materialistic applications which he makes of 
Berkeley's idealistic theory. Mill's estimate of Berkeley as a 
philosopher is found in one of the last essays * which came 
from his pen. He says: " We think it will be recognized that 
of all who, from the earliest times, have applied the powers 
of their minds to metaphysical inquiries, he is the one of 
greatest philosophic genius ; though among them are included 
Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Hartley, and Hume; Descartes, 
Spinoza, Leibnitz, and Kant." In proof of his eminent 
genius, he finds " three first-rate philosophical discoveries ; " 
" the doctrine of the acquired perceptions of sight; " " the 
non-existence of abstract ideas ; " and " the true nature of the 
externality which we attribute to the objects of our senses." 
It is as a representative and champion of Berkeley, in the mu- 
tilated form in which his doctrines were modified by Hume, 

* Berkeley's Life and Writings. Three Essays on Religion : Henry 
Holt & Co., 1874. 

78 Appendix. 

that he criticizes the philosophy of Sir William Hamilton, 
confronting his realism with what he calls " the psychological 
theory," /'. ^., the theory that resolves the material world into 
combinations of ideas, after the relations of succession and 
simultaneity which tend to recall one another under the law 
of association, and are finally united into enduring com- 
plexes, giving the definition of matter as " a permanent 
possibility of sensations." " This conception of matter," he 
contends, " includes the whole meaning attached to it by the 
common world, apart from philosophical and sometimes 
from theological theories."* This phrase, " the permanent 
possibility of sensations," in the creed of Mill, covers and 
expresses all the meaning which we attach to matter as the 
cause of our sensations. Our confident " expectation," that 
one sensation will be followed by another, expresses all that 
we understand or intend by the proposition that one event 
is caused by another ; while the expectation itself is " the 
product of associations, so often conjoined as to have become 
inseparably united." Mill agrees with Berkeley so far as to 
resolve matter as an object entirely into sensations, i. <?., 
ideas, but he fails to agree with him in the judgment that as 
such a combination, it is produced by the Creative mind. 
In other words, he has substituted Hume's doctrine for that 
of Berkeley in these two particulars : first, he dispenses with 
the creative mind as the objective producer of sensations, 
and, second, he substitutes inseparable associations with the 
expectations which they engender for causative relations, 
both objective and subjective. 

In his denial of spirit, creative and human, Mill follows 
Hume closely and extravagantly, except that he substitutes 
feelings as psychological in contrast with sensations as cor- 

* Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy, etc., Chap. XI. 

Appendix. 79 

poreal, whatever this contrast may signify in his analysis. 
Not content with the denial of the Ego, in this sharply con- 
trasting with Berkeley, he follows the steps made necessary 
by his own analysis, even to the resolution of the Ego into 
" a permanent possibility of feeling which forms the notion 
of myself." " The mind is but a series of feelings," " or 
thread of consciousness," " supplemented by believed possi- 
bilities of consciousness," all of which is crowned by the 
paradox which Hume never would have ventured to assert, 
viz. : that the mind is only " a series of feelings, which is 
aware of itself as past and future," although he confesses in 
the same breath that this brings us into contact with that 
" final inexplicability " which " belongs to ultimate facts." * 

The discerning critic will not need also to be told that, 
with all the admiration which Mill expresses for Berkeley, he 
rejects the most important features of his system, viz. : God, 
as the originator and sustainer of the ideas which we call 
material, created spirits as the receivers of the same, and the 
relations bet ween the ideas by which we rise to science. Where- 
as Berkeley makes God to be known directly by the mind as the 
axiom and corner-stone of all other knowledge, Mill repre- 
sents Berkeley as giving us a doubtful argument for his being 
derived from and founded on his works. Instead of the Ego, 
of which Berkeley insists that we are directly conscious, Mill 
gives us a thread of consciousness or a permanent possibility 
of feeling. Berkeley holds that our sensations as ideas of the 
Divine mind are perpetually renewed by divine agency in the 
minds of men. Instead of the more or less permanent asso- 
ciations of the same, by bonds of coexistence, succession, and 
similitude, which Mill is compelled incidentally to recognize 

* Cf. Review of Hamilton, Chap. XII. Cf. also James Mill, Analy- 
sis of the Human Mind, 2d edition, Chapters V. and X., with notes. 

8o Appendix. 

without finding a place for them in his theory, Berkeley endows 
man with the original capacity to recognize these relations as 
elementary and original constituents of knowledge. In Berke- 
ley's own language, " Thing or Being is the most general name 
of all ; it comprehends under it two kinds, entirely distinct 
and heterogeneous, and which have nothing common but the 
name, viz. : Spirits and ideas. * * * We comprehend our own 
existence by inward feeling or reflection, and that of other 
spirits by reason. * * * In like manner, we know and 
have a notion of relations between things or ideas ; which 
relations are distinct from the ideas or things related, inas- 
much as the latter may be perceived by us without our per- 
ceiving the former. To me it seems that ideas, spirits, and 
relations are all in their respective kinds the object of human 
knowledge and subject to discourse, and that the term idea 
would be improperly extended to signify everything we 
know or have a notion of." Principles, 89, 90. 

All this Mill overlooks, accepting only sensations, and 
half accepting their relations, but finding no place for either 
the human or divine spirit, as an original agent or ground 
of knowledge. 

The almost contemptuous tone in which Mill speaks of 
what he calls " Berkeley's argument for the existence of 
God," as presented in Alciphron, displays a. singular misap- 
prehension of the place which the Supreme holds in Berke- 
ley's theory, and of the evidence which Mill requires, and 
which Berkeley never presumes to furnish of this fundamen- 
tal element even of such knowledge. That Mill should call 
this presentation of this great truth an argument would 
seem to indicate that he failed to appreciate its place in 
Berkeley's theory of knowledge, and his conception of the 
essential ground for the inductions of practical wisdom and 
of instructed science. 

Appendix. 81 

The contemptuous disposition which Mill makes of the 
interpretations given in Sins of the physical and metaphysi- 
cal theories of the Platonists betrays a singular incapacity to 
find even any approximations to important truth in the 
imaginative essays of the great teachers of antiquity. 
Whatever else may be true of much of the physics and 
chemistry of this essay, and even of some of its metaphysi- 
cal suggestions, it cannot be denied that it contains some 
of the wisest as well as the noblest passages of critical and 
philosophical wisdom which the English language can show. 
It would seem as though the admiring reverence in which 
Mill held Berkeley should have forbidden the expression of 
his entire disesteem of any portions of his writings, even 
if it did not lead him to suspect the soundness of his 
own criticisms. 

NOTE D. The artotype prefixed to this volume was 
copied from a painting executed at Newport by Smybert 
which was presented to Yale College in 1808 by Isaac 
Lothrop, Esq., of Plymouth, Mass. The principal figure is 
the Dean. The lady with the child is Mrs. Berkeley, and 
her companion is undoubtedly Miss Handcock. The gen- 
tleman writing at the table is Sir James Dalton. The gen- 
tleman standing behind the ladies is Mr. James. The one 
farthest on the left is Mr. Smybert, and the remaining gen- 
tleman is Mr. Moffat, his friend. Of some five or six por- 
traits of the Bishop, this is esteemed the best. 

NOTE E. It may seem surprising to many persons that 
an estate of ninety-six acres in the immediate vicinity of 
Newport should have been leased for nine hundred and 
ninety-nine years for so small a rent, and that so much im- 
portance should be attached to the foundation of a classical 


82 Appendix. 

fellowship, of an inconsiderable value, in an institution like 
Yale College. The estate was rented at first on short leases 
of a few years, but, as is set forth at great length in the 
statement of reasons which forms a part of the final lease 
in 1769, the waste and injury actually suffered by the prop- 
erty, the absence of any reason for believing that its value 
would be increased, and the expressed desire of George 
Berkeley, the son of the original donor, induced the corpora- 
tion to make a perpetual lease of the property as estimated 
by its then market value. 

The significance of this endowment in the history of the 
college lies in the fact that this was the first endowment for 
a fellowship for graduate students that is known to have 
been provided in any American college, and that Berkeley's 
example is not known to have been followed till after the ex- 
piration of a century. 

" How far that little candle throws his beams ! 
So shines a good deed in a naughty world. 
When the moon shone, we did not see the candle" 

The Bristed Scholarship, yielding the income of about two 
thousand dollars, was founded in 1848, is tenable by a gradu- 
ate student for three years on certain conditions, and the 
Clark Scholarship became available in the same year, and 
gives the income of two thousand dollars for two years 
to a resident graduate. The first Fellowship proper, viz., 
the Douglas Fellowship of ten thousand dollars, was founded 
in 1872, and subsequently, in 1883, twenty-five thousand 
dollars became available by the bequest of Harry W. Foote, 
as the foundation of one or more fellowships. 

In 1875 the Soldiers' Memorial Fellowship was founded 
by a gift of ten thousand dollars; and, in 1881, the Silli- 
man Fellowship became available by gifts and their accumu- 

Appendix. 83 

lation to the same amount. In 1877, f ur scholarships of 
five thousand dollars each were founded by the bequest of 
Mrs. Irene Larned. 

From this brief statement it appears that for more than 
a century Berkeley's endowment was alone in Yale Col- 
lege, and perhaps in this country. From 1733 to 1885 
two hundred and forty graduates of the college are known 
to have been recipients of " the Dean's bounty," or at 
least to have been elected on examination " Scholars of the 
House." A nearly complete list of these, prepared under 
the direction of President Daniel C. Oilman, of the Johns 
Hopkins University, may be found in The Transactions of the 
New Haven Colony Historical Society, Vol. I. A hasty 
glance at their names will discover very many who attained 
the highest positions in church and state. A superficial 
knowledge of the literary history of the times will suggest , ' 
that a special and most honorable prize for special studies in ^ 
classical learning, in the authors proposed, could not fail to : - 
stimulate to a culture which would be felt for the lifetim^! 
of every one of these students. During more than a cen- 
tury of this time classical books in good editions could not 
easily be procured. The careful study of several books of 
Homer, of a portion of Xenophon, and the Tusculan Ques- 
tions of Cicero, would leave its impress upon the mind which 
would never be forgotten, especially in the early days of fewer 
books and the more complete and permanent mastery of their 
contents. The authors which had been read would be pre- 
served in the scanty libraries which were then at the command 
even of the most favored scholars. The successful student 
would not soon forget that he had derived a special advantage 
and a distinguished reputation from his classical reading, and 
would often recur to his old text-books to rekindle the fires 
of his youthful studies ; while he could not fail to bless the 

84 Appendix. 

memory of the ardent idealist who had founded the fellow- 
ship which brought to himself distinguished honor. The 
writer recollects seeing in his early youth a well-worn copy of 
the Tusculan Questions, which had been the life-long prop- 
erty of a distinguished Governor of Connecticut who had 
jpeen a Berkeley scholar. He has an equally vivid recollec- 
tion of a story told him by a member of the Litchfield 
county bar of one of his associates, also a " Scholar of the 
House," who entertained him with a recitation from the 
Iliad, as long as he would hear him, in a lonely ride in the 
valley of the Housatonic, the ripple of whose waters was 
the accompaniment to the well-sounding Greek. 

As has been already stated, more than a century elapsed 
before Berkeley's example was followed, notwithstanding that 
urgent and oft-repeated appeals were made for the foundation 
of " terminable fellowships " in our colleges and universities. 
We cannot doubt that this example will be more stimulating 
and fruitful in the future than it has been in the past. 






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