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REDEEMER LIBRARY. WINDSOR

THE

ART OF THINKING WELL

X

BY

REV. JAMES BALMES,

AUTHOR OF "LETTERS TO A SCEPTIC," ETC.

from % Sfpanisjj

BY

REV. WILLIAM MCDONALD, D.D.

PRECEDED BY A LIFE OF THE

DUBLIN

M. H. GILL & SON, 50 UPPER SACKVILLE-ST.

1882.

PRINTED BY M. H. GILL AND SON, 50 UPPER SACKVILLE-ST., DUBLIN.

I AIMED at two things in this translation of one of

Balmes' minor works ist, to give a true and literal

translation ; and, 2nd, to preserve the author's style as

far as possible.

When Balmes wrote his pamphlet in defence of the

reforms of Pius IX., Spanish churchmen's ideas were

almost entirely conservative and totally opposed to

any liberal changes.

Hence the bitter reception

which that pamphlet met with at the hands of many

I think it right to mention

of Balmes' own friends.

this in explanation of the unworthy motives they ascribed to him in defending the Pope, and the harsh

names they called him, as mentioned in his Life.

TRANSLATOR.

CONTENTS.

Life of Barnes,

.

.

H

THE AET OF THINKING WELL.

CHAPTER I.

PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS,

5 1. The meaning

of knowing

of a

of To Think Well. What is Truth? ? n. Different modes

the truth.

in. Variety of talents.

? iv.

The perfection

are

profession depends on the perfection with which its objects

known. 5 v. To think weil is of importance to everyone.

one may be taught to think weH;

vi. How

CHAPTER II.

ATTENTION,

i. Definition of attention. Its necessity.

and drawbacks of the want of it.

Advantages of attention,

? ii.

in.

What sort of attention we

75

80

mean. The thoughtless and the absent-minded. J iv. Interruptions.

CHAPTER III.

CHOICE OF A PROFESSION,

5 I.

Vague

signification of the word talent. ? 11. The instinct which points

ITI. Experiment to

out the profession for which we are best adapted.

discern the peculiar talent of a child.

CHAPTER IV.

QUESTIONS OF POSSIBILITY,

i. A classification of the acts of OUT understanding,

which can present themselves to it. $ 11. Ideas

possibility.

lute, impossibility consist.

and of the questions

of possibility and im-

Their classifications. in. In what metaphysical, or abso-

? iv. Absolute impossibility and divine

omnipotence. ? v. Absolute impossibility and dogmas.

viu.

A

vi.

Idea of

impossibility. 5 vn. Mode of judging of natural

physical, or natural,

impossibility.

solved. ix. Moral, or ordinary, impossibility. $x. Impossibility of

common sense improperly confounded with moral impossibility.

difficulty about the miracles of our Lord is

CHAPTER V.

87

QUESTIONS ABOUT EXISTENCE. KNOWLEDGE ACQUIRED BY IMME-

DIATE TESTIMONY OF THE SENSES,

i. Necessity of the testimony of the senses, and the different ways it gives

n. Errors occasioned by the senses. Their

us a knowledge of things.

98

remedy. Examples. ?m. Necessity of employing more than one sense,

sometimes, for due comparison.

iv. The sound of fcdy and infirm of

mind. v. Real sensations, but without external Jbjects. Explana-

tion of this phenomenon.

vi. jAdinen and the absent-minded.

6

Contents.

CHAPTER VI.

KNOWLEDGE OF THE EXISTENCE OF THINGS ACQUIRED DIRECTLY BY THE SENSES

? i. Transition from

\ iv.

\ v.

in

by

the senses to what is not. 5 n.

existence and succession.

cession.

logicians.

whatisjperceived

Co-

Two rules on co-existence and suc-

Observations on the relation of causality. A rule of

An example.

\ vi.

Reflections on the foregoin

PAGE

106

example. \ vn. The reason of an act which appears instinctive.

CHAPTER VII.

LOGIC IN ACCORD WITH CHARITY,

} i. Wisdom of the law prohibiting rash judgments. \ n. Examination of

the maxim "Think ill, and you'll not be far astray." \ in

to judge of the conduct of men.

Some rules

CHAPTER VIII.

ON HUMAN AUTHORITY IN GENERAL,

? i. Two conditions necessary to render testimony of weight. \ n. Exami-

nation and applications of the first condition. \ in. Examination and

second condition. ? iv. An observation on interest

applications of the

in deceiving. v. Difficulties of getting at the truth of what occurs at a great distance of place and time.

NEWSPAPERS,

i. An illusion.

CHAPTER IX.

n. Newspapers do not say all they krow about persons.

118

126

137

in. Newspapers do not tell the whole truth about things.

CHAPTER X.

BOOKS OF TRAVEL,

i. Two very different parts of traveller's narratives.

n. Origin and for-

mation of some books of travels.

m. Mode of studying a country.

HISTORY,

CHAPTER XI.

141

147

i. Means of saving time, aiding the memory, and avoiding errors in his-

torical studies.

11. Distinction between the body of the fact and its

circumstances. Applications.

in. Some rules for the study of history.

CHAPTER XII.

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS ON THE MEANS OF KNOWING THE

NATURE, PROPERTIES, AND RELATION OF BEINGS,

.

.

i. A classification of sciences.

n. Scientific prudence and observations

to attain it.

in. Great and learned men resuscitated.

CHAPTER XIII.

GOOD PERCEPTION,

i. Ideas.

11. Rule for perceiving well.

in.

Danger of analysis.

The dyer and philosopher.

Evil results of too rapid perception.

v.

Objects scan on one side only.

TV.

vi.

.

158

170

Contents.

CHAPTER XIV.

JUDGMENT,

i. What judgment is. Sources of error.

n.

False maxims.

in.

Too

general propositions.

Examination

iv.

Inexact definitions.

v.

Ill-defined words.

of the word " equality."

vr. Gratuitous suppositions.

The dead body in the precipice.

vii. Prejudice in favour of a doctrine.

CHAPTER XV.

REASONING,

i. What dialectic principles and rules are worth,

n. The syllogism. Ob-

servations on this dialectic instrument.

Relit ctions on the middle term.

in. The enthymeme.

iv.

v. Utility of the dialectic forms.

CHAPTER XVI.

ALL IS NOT DONE BY REASONING,

I. Inspiration.

n. Meditation.

m. Invention and instruction.

iv.

7

FADE

182

209

208

Intuition. v. The difficulty is not in comprehending but in divining. The chess-player. Sobieski. Hannibal's vipers. vi. Rule for medi.

tating. vn. Characteristic of elevated intelligences. Remarkable doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas. vni. Necessity of labour.

CHAPTER XVII.

TEACHING,

i. Two objects of teaching. Different classes of professors. 5 n. Geniuses

ni. Means to discover occult

talent and to appreciate its value. \ iv. Necessity of elementary

unknown to others and to themselves.

studies.

CHAPTER XVIII.

INVENTION,

? i. What one should do who is devoid of the talent of invention.

11.

Scien-

tific authority. \ in. Modifications which scientific

suffered in our times. \ iv. The talent of invention. Career of genius.

authority

has

CHAPTER XIX.

THE UNDERSTANDING, THE HEART, AND THE IMAGINATION,

? i.

Discretion in the use of the faculties of the soul.

Queen Dido. Alex-

ander.

n.

Influence of the heart on the head. Causes and effects.

in. Eugene. His transformations in four-and-twenty hours.

iv.

Mr. Marceline. His political changes.

about the pain of death.

influence of the heart.

vi.

vn.

v. Anselm. His variations

the

Some observations to

The friend converted into a monster.

guard

against

viii.

much sensibility.

Unsteady

variations of political

Men of great talents.

judgments

Poets.

x.

of

Dangers The poet and the

ix.

monastery.

xi. Necessity of having fixed ideas.

the fine arts.

oratory, poetry, and dressed up in images.

Duties of

xm. Illusion caused by thoughts

xn.

CHAPTER XX.

.

PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY,

i.

In what philosophy of history consists. Difficulty of acquiring it.

A means of advancing in the philosophy of history is indicated.

Application to the history of the

n.

111.

human mind. iv. An example taken

from physiognomy, which throws light on what we have said about ad-

vancing in the philosophy of history.

219

229

234

265

Contents.

CHAPTER XXI.

RELIGION,

i. Senseless reasoning

rentist and the

of sceptics in religious matters. n. The indiffe-

in. Transition from indifl'erentism to iv. It is impossible for all religions

pleas-

in-

human race.

examination. Existence of God.

to be true.

ing to God.

vention.

against revelation.

v. It is impossible that all religions are equally

vi.

It is impossible that all religions are a

human

vn. Revelation is possible.

vin. Solution of a difficulty

ix. Consequence of the foregoing paragraphs.

x. Existence of revelation.

xi. Historical proofs of the existence

of revelation. \ xn. Protestants

and the Catholic Church.

x.n.

Wrong method of some impugners of religion, xiv. The highest phi-

losophy in accord with faith.

xv. He who abandons the Catholic re-

ligion knows not where to take refuge.

CHAPTER XXII.

PRACTICAL UNDERSTANDING

i

i. A classification of actions.

n. Difficulty of proposing a proper end.

111. Examination of the proverb, "Every

iv. The man detested .

man is the child of his

vi.

The

actions."

v. The ruined man.

learned bankrupt and the ignorant millionaire.

Facile reasoning and good sense.

vn. Observations.

vm. Delicacy of certain intellectual

phenomena in their relations with practice.

Crooked understandings.

ix. Nonsense.

x.

xi. Unfitness of such men for business,

xn. This intellectual defect usually comes from a moral cause.

xm.

Christian humility in its relations to worldly affairs.

produced by vanity and pride.

xiv. Injuries

xvn.

xvm.

an end.

xv.

Pride.

xvi. Vanity.

The influence of pride on business is worse than that of vanity.

Comparison between

pride and vanity.

is.

xx. Necessity of a continual struggle.

xxi.

alone which leads to error when we propose to ourselves

xix. How general this passion

It is not pride

xxn. Development of latent powers,

xxui. On proposing to our-

selves an end, we should guard against presumption and excessive want

of confidence.

xxiv.

Sloth.

xxv.

An

advantage of sloth over the

_^ other passions.

Origin of sloth.

xxvu.

Sloth of mind.

xxvui. Reasons which confirm what we have said about the origin of

xxyi.

sloth.

xxx. Proofs

xxxi. The just medium between these extremes.

understanding.

xxxni. The harmony of the universe defended by chastisement.

xxxii.

xxix. Inconstancy. Its nature and origin.

and applications.

Morality is the best guide of the practical

PAGE

271

289

xxxiv. Observations on the advantages and disadvantages of virtue

in business.

xxxv. Defence of virtue against an unjust charge.

xxxvi. Defence of learning against an unfounded charge.

xxxvir.

The passions are good servants but bad counsellors. xxxvin.

xxxix. Example. Vengeance under two

Hypocrisy of the passions.

of man with himself. Man flies from himself.

"Wisdom of the Christian religion in the direction of conduct.

XLVI A rule for practical

judgments. XLVII. Another rule. xi.vin. Man laughing at himself.

forms.

XLII.

XLIV.

XLV.

xii. Precautions.

XLI. Hypocrisy

XLIII.

The knowledge of one's self .

The moral sentiments aid virtue.

XLIX. Perpetual childhood of man.

L. Change of Mr. Nicacius in

a few hours.

conduct.

LI.

The sentiments by themselves are a bad rule of

LIV.

LV. Inconvenience of universality.

LTI. Not sensible impressions, but morality and reason.

Science is

LVI. Force

LVIII. Firmness, energy, impetu-

? LIU. Exaggeration makes a good sentiment bad

useful to practice.

of will.

osity.

LVTI.

Firmness of will.

LIX. Conclusion and resume.

LIFE

OF

REV. JAMES BALMES, D.D

LIFE

OF

REV. JAMES BALMES, D.D

SOMETIME about the year 1810, the house No. 58 of

the street de Cerrajeros, in the town of Vich, in the

province of Barcelona, Spain, was occupied by

James Balmes, furrier by trade, who was married to Teresa Urpia. Of this marriage was born, on the

28th of August of the year indicated, James Lucian

Anthony Balmes. It is a remarkable coincidence

the day the

Church celebrates the festival of the great doctor,

that Balmes came to the world on

St. Augustine.

His infancy passed, like that of most men, without

any remarkable incident. He received his early education in the public school, called of Jesus and

Mary^ conducted by the Rev. Ramon Bach ; and at

seven years of age he studied Latin grammar, rhe- toric, philosophy, and one year's theology in the

seminary.

Soler, contemporary of young Balmes, " hearing him

" I remember,"

says Don Antonio

12

Life of Rev. James Balmes } D.D.

describe the great pain he used to feel going home the day he should by chance lose the first place in

class, and how he would even shed tears over it,

never resting till he had regained it." He displayed

precocious talent, stimulated by his competitor, Don

Francisco de Asis Bofill, and an ardent desire of

learning and imitating the first boys in the school,

above all Bofill. " How do you get up those compo-

sitions in prose and verse ?" he used to ask.

" I strive

hard to overtake and pass you, but I cannot/'

he cried from disappointment, and went home sad

and thoughtful.

His paternal grandfather was very fond of literary

Often

exercises, and was always present at examinations

and public theses.

His father was gifted with a

memory so wonderful that he needed no books to

carry on his business perfectly ; and many extraordi-

nary things are told of the prodigious development

of this faculty in him. Balmes himself was heard to

say

in his latter years :

<( I have a great memory,

but my father's was greater.

If he and my grand-

father had studied professionally they would have

been more celebrated than I."

special to tell of his mother or of the other members

of his family.

In 1 817, his parents removed from Cerrajeros-street to the Plaza de las Garzas, No. 72. Balmes' favourite

There is nothing

diversion at this time was to go to the pigeon-house, and seat himself on the steps, conversing with his

elder brother, who was a hatter like his paternal

grandfather. For tfris brother he had a very strong

Life of Rev. James Betimes, D.D.

13

affection, which grew deeper and stronger in the

course of years. Inflamed with noble emulation, and resolved on

embracing the ecclesiastical state, he did not limit

himself to the cultivation of the sciences which were

the immediate subject of his studies, but used to fre-

quent the Episcopal Library, where he perfected him- self in the language of Tacitus and Virgil and in

Spanish, which he had to learn as a foreign language,

for Catalan was his native tongue. Here he examined

the works of all the great men who have left their

impress on the sands of time, but particularly of St.

Thomas Aquinas, "because in them," says Balmes

himself, "are embraced all the sciences, human and divine, and because without religion there is no virtue

nor true wisdom."

The Archdeacon of Vich, Don Jose Sala, noticed

young Balmes' indefatigable industry; and finding him possessed of privileged talents, and to be a young

man of exemplary morals, he gave him an ecclesias-

tical benefice, which, however, was not sufficient to supply him with means to prosecute his studies to

their full extent. His parents were poor ; he wanted

a Meccenas ; and as Plutarch found one in Trajan,

Boileau in Louis XIV., Fray Louis de Leon in Porto-

carrero, so Balmes met one in the Bishop of Vich,

Don Pablo de Jesus Corcuera, who gave him a free

place in the college of St. Charles in the University

of Cervera.

The fame our young scholar had acquired in Vich

preceded him and excited a lively curiosity among the

14 Life of Rev. James Palmes, D.D.

students of Cervera to see their new companion, who at the age of seventeen was regarded as a prodigy of

learning. The anticipations of all were satisfied, for

the young collegian of St. Charles very soon proved

that fame had told no untruths in his case.

His pro-

gress was astonishing, and that vast comprehension

which he possessed was developed to the amazement

of masters and fellow-students. From the accounts

we have before us it results that Balmes was reputed first among the distinguished students ; that he

defended public conclusions and took an active part

in other literary acts, with universal applause ; and

that his decision was sought in the halls and outside

with confidence. He was regarded with such appre-

ciation and respect by his professors, Drs. Barri,

Caixal, Xarrie, Ricard, and Gali, that in some of the

examinations they prolonged the questions and argu-

ments beyond the fixed time, for the pleasure of hear- ing his clear and brilliant solutions ; and such was his power of intellect that he often publicly defended

the pro and the contra of disputed points.

among his fellow-

He made no friends except

students, and visited no one but the family of Don

Gaspar de Eixala, to whom he was recommended,

and Dr. P. Barri, a Dominican friar and peripatetic

philosopher, whose opinions our young scholar fol-

lowed at that time. Absorbed in his contemplations

he sought solitude, and often avoided intercourse

with those who had given him the strongest proofs of

respect and friendship. This conduct was regarded

by some as the offspring of indifference, pride, and

Life of Rev. James Balmes, D.D.

15

even ingratitude, but he would explain it thus : " My

dear friends, pardon me, I cannot help it ; there are

times when my only pleasure is to be alone medi-

tating.

It is not pride, God knows. What can I do r

Put my friendship to the test, and you shall see

whether it is sincere/' Appearances deceived. Balmes always held that modesty should ever be the com-

panion of science and virtue. One of his most beloved

fellow-students has said to us : " This strangeness

arose solely from the love of study, which mastered

him so completely as to make him often forget his

family, his friends, and even himself/' We believe

so ourselves ; for in Madrid he was communicative,

amiable, and attentive to all. Balmes knew the du-

ties of a man placed in society, and fulfilled them

thoroughly.

We speak from personal experience,

and we shall be supported by everyone who had

intercourse with him.

When studying he leaned over the table, resting his

head on his arms, and one would imagine he was

asleep. As soon as he had read a little, he rolled his

head in his cloak, and thus spent a considerable time,

as if lost in thought.

When one of his friends once

asked him the cause of such a strange custom, he answered : " A man should read little, but that little

jbught to be select, and then think a great deal.

If

we only knew what is written in books, the sciences would remain stationary; and so we should try to

know more than those who have preceded us. In

these moments of meditation in the dark, my ideas

ferment, and my head is converted into a sort of

1 6

Life of Rev. James Balmes, D.D.

cauldron." Another singular custom was observed in the young collegian, which attracted the attention

of his companions and the librarians of Cervera and

Vich. He never asked for one sole book, but would

His first care was to turn

get five or six at a time.

over the leaves, examine the indices, take notes, and

then close his eyes in meditation.

We have been

assured by persons who kept a close eye on him and

noted his actions and progress, that at the age of twenty-two he knew the indices of 10,000 books ; and

on one occasion he invited Don Mathias Codony to

put his memory to the test. Codony took a volume

of the ' Sum of St. Thomas/ and Balmes recited the

index without hesitation, then the index of the second

volume of "Don Quixote/' and finally of the " Philo-

sophy of Eloquence. " Codony in astonishment threw the books from him, saying: "James, you<