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the complement, that is, the actuality of the act in the term, is the relation between them. It follows that metaphysical relativity precedes the physical absolute being; inasmuch as the act and the term must be related for the thing to be. The Relative precedes the Absolute in that sense. Yet it is plain that we cannot think of the act as related to the term, unless we conceive first the act itself as the subject of its relativity; in other words we must conceive a metaphysical being as something absolute, before we can speak of its being related. This remark introduces my third and last and most important inquiry.

III. Can any substance be known out of all relation, as well transcendental as predicamental? A thoughtful person will not be in a hurry to answer yes or no to this question. If he answers yes, he fears the further demand: "Pray, what predicate does your knowledge attach to the Absolute?" he takes refuge in a no, he stands face to face with the following difficulty:*


"We will suppose your answer correct. A man then does not know things in themselves, or Absolutes, but only relations of things to one another, relations, that is to say, of Absolute to Absolute. The Absolutes may be likened to letters, the relations to syllables. The syllables, according to you, are known, while the letters are unknown. We ask whether any syllable, SO for instance, is the same as the letters S and O which compose it, or is it aught besides? If you say it is the same, then, since the letters S and O are unknown, the syllable SO is likewise unknown. If the syllable is aught besides the letters which compose it, call whatever it is besides a. Then a is some one entity, that is to say, an Absolute, equally unknowable with either of the two other Absolutes S and O. Therefore, on your showing, nothing is knowable."

That is the difficulty, and to me it appears very formidable. On the other hand, I am not insensible of the difficulty of the alternative, that of knowing an Absolute. For a man knows a thing, when he is able to make the thing which he knows the subject of assertions; and what we chiefly assert is relation; hence we can hardly know the Non-Relative. I think, however, I see a way of escaping both difficulties. My escape is this. A thing, I say, is known to us inchoatively as an Absolute; and that inchoative knowledge gets its development from subsequent study of the thing in relation. We know a thing inchoatively when we know that it is, in simple contradistinction to its not being. Let me borrow an example from the earliest

* Propounded by Plato, Theatetus, pp. 202–206.

I am

cognition which man compasses, the cognition of self. is the utterance of the understanding, as soon as ever the understanding becomes available. At that moment, the child, an infant no longer, knows self as opposed to not-self, and it knows nothing further. As the light of reason gains in brightness, the young reasoner recognizes not-self in external things. This experience reacts upon the idea of self, and clarifies that. In like manner, good, right, beautiful, white, and all other positive qualities, are first known dimly in their own absolute being, as opposed to the absence of them, and then are brought into greater distinctness by the experience of things from which those qualities are conspicuously absent, things that are bad, wrong, ugly, or black. Without this inchoative grasp of the Absolute, I am at a loss, with Plato, to conceive how the human mind could take the first step on the road of learning.

Not only is an inchoative knowledge possible of the Absolute, but also a precisive knowledge. That is, having known a thing in relation, we can mentally prescind from the relation, and know the thing by itself. Having read of Hannibal as the conqueror of Varro, we may leave Varro out of thought, and regard his conqueror simply as the victorious Hannibal. To be sure, victorious, when we follow it up, means victorious over some one; still the over some one is a very nebulous appendage to the main body of the concept victorious. We may form other concepts more precisive still. When we sing with the Psalmist, "Confess to the Lord, for He is good," we do not mean good to Israel, but good in Himself, away from all creation. The Absolute then is cognizable precisively, by dropping relations out of mind.

So far I have treated of the Relativity of Knowledge with respect to created intelligence. The inquiry remains-Is the Absolute known to God? It cannot be known inchoatively, for God does not begin to know. It cannot be known precisively, for God never drops out of sight any fact that is. However, the precisive knowledge, obtainable by man of the Absolute, gives a clue to the manner in which God knows things. Consider what is accomplished for us by the processes of Precision and Abstraction. By Precision we take a partial view of a thing; we generalize that view by Abstraction. Precision, for instance, yields us the concept of the weight of this fish, and Abstraction, the concept of weight in general. By the aid of general concepts we erect propositions. One proposition signifies a multitude of facts. Thus, asserting that weight results from one body attracting another, we have pronounced why a teacup is heavy, and why a star is. The more we know, the fewer and the more pregnant do our

propositions become. In this sense the wise man speaks little, for words to him mean much. Without general names, and concepts thereto corresponding-that is, without Abstractionwe should have to describe every fact in terms of its own. Our knowledge would be crushed beneath that pile of unsorted details. Now, Abstraction is not a faculty of the Divine mind, and yet God knows all things. Has He then a separate idea of each? That would be needful, if no two things were anywise alike. But such utter dissimilitude in creatures would be inconsistent with the unity of the Creator. All things are made to His one image; how should not one pattern run through them all? The idea of Him, therefore, from whom the pattern is taken, virtually amounts to a separate view of each separate thing; it is one Idea equivalent to many. That is God's sole Idea, His Word, in which He beholds Himself. There He discerns what He is and can do, and what He will do. All science is founded upon the former discernment, all history upon the latter.* Science and history-the one the story of the possible, the other, that of the actual-embrace all that is knowable. Therefore God knows all things in knowing Himself.

Does He then know the Absolute? I now hope to answer that question clearly under four different heads :

1. If Absolute means Being, devoid of predicamental relations, God does not know the Absolute, for no such being is.

2. If Absolute means Being, devoid of transcendental relations, God does not know the Absolute, for no such being is or can be.

3. If Absolute means Being, thought of out of all relation, as well transcendental as predicamental, God does not know the Absolute, for He does not think of beings otherwise than as they are.

4. But if Absolute means Being, competent to exist without aught else existing, containing all things possible within the compass of Its knowledge and power, then God does know the Absolute, for He is the Absolute, and He knows Himself.

*I do not wish, at the tail-end of a recondite argument, to start another about scientia media.


Report of the Queen's Colleges Commission and Minutes of Evidence annexed,


Report of the Endowed Schools Commission and Minutes of Evidence annexed, 1857.

Annual Reports of the President of Queen's College, Belfast, and Appendices,


Annual Reports of the President of Queen's College, Galway, and Appendices,


Annual Reports of the President of Queen's College, Cork, and Appendices annexed, 1850-72.

Regulations of the Queen's University in Ireland. 1850-72.

Returns moved for and obtained by the O'CONNOR DON, M.P., June 24, 1870.

Returns moved for and obtained by the Hon. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE, M.P., July 5, 1870.

Wayside Thoughts; a Series of Essays on Education, read at the Lowell Institute, Boston, U.S., in the Spring of 1868. By D'ARCY W. THOMPSON, Professor of Greek in Queen's College, Galway.

Competition, Endowment, and Trinity College, Dublin. By EDWARD HOWLEY, Esq., of the Middle Temple, Barrister-at-Law, 1872. Dublin: W. B. Kelly; London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co.


HERE can be no doubt that Parliament intended to establish a system of University education in Ireland, and that in conformity with this intent an Act was passed, which authorized the establishment of seats of University education in Belfast, Cork, and Galway. We have simply an inexhaustible supply of testimony upon this point. We have the original Act itself "Anno octavo et nono Victoria Reginæ," entitled, "An Act to enable Her Majesty to endow new Colleges for the advancement of learning in Ireland," and overflowing with all that potential eloquence about "lands, tenements, and hereditaments," which must remove every suspicion as to the good faith of the document. We have the speeches of distinguished statesmen, such as Sir James Graham and Lord Palmerston, who were plainly contemplating with perfect seriousness the execution of the design. We have Sir James Graham speaking quite fervently about "the common arena in which the youth of Ireland may assemble

and contend in honourable and honest rivalry for those exhibitions and prizes, and those honours which are consequent upon, and result from, superior intellect and superior attainment." We find Lord Palmerston soaring into the future, and seeing in the illustrious institutions which were to spring up from the fiat of the Legislature, the germs of a yet wider and greater University system. "I agree entirely," he said, "with those who consider this bill as only a foundation which requires a superstructure in order to make the plan complete. It will be found absolutely necessary to establish some central point, probably in connection with Trinity College, Dublin, which will combine these different colleges into one university, and will, if possible, connect Trinity College with it as a component part.' We have letters patent expressly designating the proposed colleges as "the Queen's Colleges in Ireland," and somewhat later we have the Royal Charter purporting to combine and co-ordinate the said Queen's Colleges of Belfast, Cork, and Galway, into a "Queen's University in Ireland." Even if we had not the further and conclusive fact that under an obvious supposition Parliament annually votes large sums of public money for the support of the institutions in question, we believe that no impartial student of recent affairs can entertain a reasonable doubt that a quarter of a century ago, Parliament actually proposed to endow Ireland with a new university system, under the well-known title we have mentioned.

Nor are we without several indications that the project had some commencements of realization. Thus we have Queen's College Calendars and Queen's University Regulations, dating back to a time very shortly subsequent to the passing of the Act of Parliament referred to above; and in these documents there is, as far as paper goes, provision for substantially collegiate and university studies. There are the respectable titles of senators, and presidents and professors, registrars and bursars. There is a matriculation examination set down as comprising Greek, Latin, English, and mathematics. The undergraduate course for the degree of A.B. is, indeed, decidedly brief, not requiring an attendance of more than three sessions; but still, with fair pre-collegiate training, secured by an honest matriculation examination, a good deal can be done in three sessions. Of course, without a matriculation examination, or what amounts to the same thing, with a sham one, three times three sessions might be hardly adequate. It may, indeed, be said, that in university matters the matriculation examination is everything. Matriculation is the starting-point of university studies. According as you

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