« PreviousContinue »
This is a wholesome atmosphere for a young man hag-ridden by the Roman position; and, taking things more lightly, he finds that there is something in life, after all, despite unkind mothers of charming ladies and the wrangling of learned divines who will not accept the Anglican position. He comes of age ; there is a great house party, and Lothair appears to be absorbed in his duties as a host. But all this luxury and splendour comforts him but little; and when the call to action comes, it finds him ready and eager. The lady who is so devoted to the cause of Italian independence is one of his guests. There comes to her an emissary; it appears that the hour has come. But funds are lacking. Her own fortune and her husband's are both gone. But Lothair, it appears, has a quarter of a million of accumulations. His lawyer wishes him to devote this to buying a property that will round off his already vast estates. His guardian would dearly like to see him build a cathedral. But Lothair has had enough of religious speculation, and has more estates already than he can look after ; so the 250,0001. goes to Birmingham, and Lothair accepts the command of a company in the revolutionary army of Italy.
The campaign ends at Mentana, where Lothair is desperately wounded. A decidedly unfair advantage is taken of his enfeebled condition to pledge him, during convalescence, to religious views that he has examined and found wanting. His nervous system gives way, and on recovering his health he takes the first opportunity of evading his companions, who are practically his captors, and escapes to Malta.
Thus he has failed in all his great aims : the Churches will not be reconciled by him ; Italy is still without her capital; there is as much poverty as ever. When he re-enters White's, on his return to England, it appears that his absence has been unnoticed--so independent is the world of the devotion of ardent young men.
But if he has failed, he has failed in attempting great things, and he is rewarded by the hand of the lady whose consent has been recorded in the famous phrase : 'I have been in Corisande's garden, and she has given me a rose.'
Professor Blackie went so far as to call this novel 'manly;' and what Professor Blackie calls manly' ought surely to receive our respectful attention. For works of such eminent merit a long life is assured. They will undoubtedly outlive many books that are now preferred to them. Their high spirits, intense vitality, variety of plot, beauty of language, and lofty tone justify us in calling them masterpieces. The mental equipment of any generation that neglects to read them will, for long to come, be decidedly the poorer for the omission.
WALTER FREWEN LORD.
THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY
THOUGH, so far as science can yet discern, the great process of evolution, in every department of its activity, proceeds ceaselessly onwards, never reproducing, in very truth, forms to which it has given birth and then destroyed, nevertheless it now and again develops phenomena which resemble singularly, if superficially, the products of its activity in earlier ages.
The bats and flying-foxes of our own day recall to mind the winged reptiles of the secondary age of geological time, as the huge Ichthyosauri of the then existing seas are dimly imaged forth by our dolphins and porpoises, the probable descendants of some swine-like beast which became marine and legless long after their reptilian predecessors had ceased to be.
In the political development of tribes and nations, in art, in poetry, religion, and the highest regions of human thought, analogous recurrences now and again manifest themselves.
It is to one such recurrence we would direct the attention of those of our readers who may not as yet have interested themselves in the new and important study which may be called physiological, or experimental, psychology. No longer confining itself to an interrogation of consciousness, it examines psychical manifestations in the light to be obtained by exact quantitative inquiry. It also recalls to mind, in its conception of nature, certain phases of Greek thought in that most memorable and fruitful period—the fourth century before Christ.
But I may perhaps, at starting, be permitted to make two personal remarks in order to gain a better hearing for views which I venture to think merit more consideration than they have obtained.
First I would observe that a very eminent scientific friend tells me my biological views and arguments are attributed by some naturalists to a wish on my part to champion ideas with which biology has no connection. I desire therefore to repudiate, with all the energy of which I am capable, any such object or intention. If I do not (as in fact I do not accept as sufficient causes for specific change and origin which do suffice in the opinion of various other naturalists, I am, of course, none the less certain that such origin is due to some natural causes. I know no causes in nature but natural causes. If I am right in regarding the process of specific origin as being still an unsolved enigma, I am not on that account without hope that its solution
hereafter be achieved, and I welcome the new psychology as a possible aid in that direction.
But if what I am thus told surprises me, what I have learned from another biologist adds amusement to my surprise. I had expressed to him a wish to discuss some points of philosophy with his intimate friend Mr. B. I was informed, in reply, that B. was disinclined for such discussion, fearing lest he might so be brought within the pale of a certain definite theological system !
Now, considering that in all my arguments on scientific questions I have ever made my appeal to reason, and reason only, and that the sole authority to which I have referred as claiming some deference from naturalists has been that of Aristotle, I do feel that such apprehensions are singularly unreasonable.
But it seems to be a fact that there are some men who are, like Laura in Mrs. Humphry Ward's Helbeck of Bannisdale, quite unable to argue forcibly against a theological system which they detest. They seem, in consequence, beset with an abiding fear of being caught hold of by theology, as by the arms of an octopus, and dragged, willy-nilly, down into a sea of dogma from which they can find no escape. Any arguments, therefore, which they think may tend in this dreaded direction are not to be listened to, or if listened to at all, then with a mind firmly closed against conviction, but keenly on the look out for sophistries and fallacies which must, they think, be latent in such teaching
We would say to such persons : 'Shake off all such paralysing fears and survey nature with an entirely unprejudiced mind. Assume that no revelation of any kind exists; adore the great God Pan or the whole heathen Pantheon; but, whatever else you do, do not shut your eyes, blunt your senses, or your reason, when you survey the world around you. It is above all things needful to avoid prejudice when we would study such a science as biology.'
To be able better to appreciate this science, let us briefly consider the teaching of that philosopher who initiated, and was the father of, the whole system of modern thought-I mean Descartes.
He taught that each man is composed of two entirely different substances: (1) one spiritual, consisting of nothing but thought (the soul); (2) the other, material, possessing no property but motion (the body).
For him, the soul, devoted to thought alone, was a distinct spiritual substance inhabiting the body and ruling it from, and enthroned in, the pineal gland. Every other power and property of our being followed inevitably, he taught, from the disposition of our bodily organs—as the movements of a watch, from its construction. For him, the essence of thought excluded extension and movement; while it was of the essence of extension and movement to have nothing in common with thought or feeling.
How then was the union of the soul and body to be explained ? He endeavoured to explain it to his correspondent, Her Highness Elizabeth, Princess Palatine, but with small success. Indeed, he terminates his explanatory essay with these words : ‘Je serais trop présomptueux si j'osais penser que ma réponse doive entièrement satisfaire Votre Altesse.' In fact she was not satisfied, but demanded further enlightenment which she never succeeded in obtaining.
A belief in the coexistence of these two utterly diverse substances naturally led, first, to the 'occasionalism' of Malebranche, and subsequently to Idealism.'
If nothing exists but a thinking spiritual substance and a material moving mechanism, there must be either two substances entirely distinct (and then a man is not one being, but two); or else he is one substance with the two attributes thought'and 'motion;'or, finally, one of these is but a dependency and modification of the other, in which case we have either materialism or idealism.
What, however, does the personal experience of each one of us seem to be? Do we not each of us know and feel that we are one being—a unity—not a compound of two separate substances ? We always 'feel' in 'thinking,' and we mostly also “think'in 'feeling.' But our experience of unity is yet much more complete, for many vital activities which normally are never felt, now and again rise into consciousness, and sometimes into very painful consciousness; while on the other hand, many actions which we only learn to perform by means of reiterated conscious efforts, come at last to be produced quite automatically and unconsciously.
It is evident, therefore, that we do not consist of one substance which is all thought and nothing but thought, and of another, into which thought and feeling never enter. That we have a body is manifest; and it is also manifest that we possess an energy we may recognise as thought,' but which may merely exist in the form of feeling or may pass into a state of activity which is not recognisable by thought because it is not even felt. This energy (since we have no evidence that our being is dominated by more than one kind of energy) appears, therefore, to operate partly as thought, partly as feeling, but mainly in an imperceptible and quite unconscious manner.
But the influence of Descartes remains so powerful that quite a passion still exists among many biologists for representing, if not trying to explain, the phenomena of organic life as 'modes of motion. Such naturalists as Weismann, Nägeli, and many others, have attempted to explain the development of the germ by imagining the existence in it of a multitude of excessively minute particles. Each of these particles, however, when carefully considered, will be found no less to need explanation than do the phenomena they are supposed to explain. Indeed, however we may play with such conceptions, the same inevitable and insoluble difficulty will ever recur; for the energy which operates in sensation, growth, nutrition, &c., cannot be represented by the imagination, since the senses are incapable of perceiving it.
The use of such images to explain any vital phenomenon is equivalent, therefore, to an attempt to make imaginary representations of things 'perceptible' to the senses serve as representations of things 'imperceptible to the senses '—which is manifestly an absurd attempt.
The view I have ever defended' is that every living creature is the result of the coalescence of two factors into one absolute unity; as water is produced by the coalescence of oxygen and hydrogen. After that coalescence, neither oxygen nor hydrogen exists, but water only, though the water remains capable of being again resolved into its constituent elements—the reappearance of which is the annihilation of the water. But as no two distinct substances can be identical in nature and energy, and as elements with different energies must act with different effects, so we must conclude that in their union to produce water, each element must have acted differently and so have had some different effect upon the result which their union has produced. Also, since their energies must have been different, one of them must have been more vigorous or active than the other. It thus becomes conceivable (though not, of course, imaginable) how a new creature, coming into being from the unification of a certain mass of matter with a certain definite kind of energy, may possess some characteristics due to one principle of its being and others due to the other principle ; as also that one of them must be more dominant than the other. That the two factors which by their coalescence constitute a living organism consist respectively of a certain mass of matter and a certain dominating energy was the teaching of Aristotle. He compared such a union to wax stamped with a definite impress, or seal, which is one individual thing; though it has been produced by the junction of: (1) a certain definite kind of energy (the stamping with the seal) and (2) the matter impressed by that energy.
Judging by observations of animals in their development and life history, viewed in the light of our own self-knowledge, it is the immaterial factor (principle of individuation, psyche, or soul) of an
· See our work On Truth, pp. 420-440. Professor Haldane, F.R.S., has lately shown (Nineteenth century, September 1898) how the physico-chernical theory of life is being experimentally refuted. A very interesting work, by Alfred Earl, M.A., entitled The Living Organism (Macmillan, 1898), will well repay perusal.