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tributes of one spirit, not mere formally different aspects of the absolute and everlasting identity of an iron fate. In the ascending scale of animal life there is used to some extent almost every material afterwards worked into the nature of man, except his guiding conscience and the freedom which it is given to guide. Images of what man would be, if he could surrender his moral freedom and become a thing (“in perfect correspondence,” as Mr. Spencer has it, “with external changes”), abound throughout creation, from the beaver to the tiger, from the butterfly to the bee, from the serpent to the dove; as if to mark by the very closeness of approach the infinite step in creative power made by the transition to the personal life of man. And here, immediately on the gift of free power and responsibility, the link of apparent necessity which seemed absolutely to cement together force and intelligence drops away, and there comes in a possibility of folly, failure, evil, unknown to the lower world, marking, as we have said, that the correspondence of intelligence with power in the sciences does not consist in the absolute identity of a self-expanding unit, but in the bond of a living character.”

* It is common to object to the view here developed of all force as the mere realised activity of free-will in some spiritual being, and of all intelligence which is not due to the conscious life of man as springing directly from above, that it is antheistic. The objection is self-destructive if it proceeds from any one who beieves that God originally made the world; for clearly nothing is saved, and much lost, by attributing to His fore-ordination what we hesitate to attribute to His present act. The objection, however, that to attribute the ferocity of the lion or the cunning of the fox directly to divine activity is at once unreal, i.e. unlike the truth, and degrading to our religious nature, has a meaning in it, and is worth briefly analysing. First, we believe, that if by this a protest is meant against the doctrine that there is no psychical individuality in animal life—that their body is but a shell as it were for an energy of which Deity is the subject as well as the spring, that their perceptions are but new viaducts from creating power without to the same creating power within, then the protest is quite just. However absolutely and necessarily dependent the animal world is, we must suppose that there is a real creation of a new subject—a real centre of new finite life; though the springs of that life are held in absolute subordination, and its energies lent, not only created but ever sustained,—by the universal Spirit. This, however, in no way affects the moral question of the impressions produced upon us by the permanent sanction, so to speak, the constantly sanctioning intelligence,—by which God guides and satisfies instincts so startling. This objection is one which applies equally to every form of faith. And it is but trivial; indeed the difficulty is often created by our fancifully inserting a human freedom and conscience behind the impulses of the animal. Or if that reply be thought evasive, and it be said, “Still, what you deny to be evil in the creature, you attribute to the Creator,” it is more than sufficient to answer, “Yes; but the inference as to will and character must not be judged here by the single act, but by the system of invariable law, of which it is a part.” It would be Pantheism, perhaps, to interpret the tiger's spring as embodying the immediate moral purpose and character of God, though it be His immediate sustaining power and directing thought which renders it possible The purpose must be studied, if at all, in the ends answered by the certainty of physical law in these lower departments of the universe as combined with the general purposes of animal life. So far as we may really interpret God by single acts, we must keep fast to His free moral relations with our spirits, which are the only accessible expressions of His immediate intent and present thought.

122 Atheism.

We do not, of course, suppose for a moment that any kind of opinion—theistic or atheistic — would change the inductive method of investigation in each separate science; but we do believe, for the reasons stated, that Atheism leads to the falsest and most misleading theories on the correlation of the sciences, disposing men to ignore real accessions of fact from the desire to make one science an expansion of another. The disposition to explain away new phenomena into old is really rooted in an absolute, if often unconscious, distrust of the possibility of creation. And in this way the misapprehension of the relation between different sciences leads to a deductive, instead of a pure inductive, method with the later and higher science. Thus we find philosophers like Mr. Spencer, instead of ea'amining the moral realities of human life, actually dissipating or distorting them, in the hope of deducing them from physiological assumptions. How could any true Baconian induction dissolve the moral will of man into a contest between a mob of “motor changes” in the brain? The fact obviously is, that the human intellect must and will believe in some cause for human life, and the only choice lies between one that is far greater and one that is far less than that life. If, therefore, we do not reverently accept a higher cause, we are unconsciously obliged so to “treat” and clip the facts as to make them fit into a lower. The unconscious tendency to dissolve away or pinch up the reality is always more or less the result of believing in no antecedents adequate to produce it.

But we must conclude. We have barely touched on some of the most remarkable indications that man’s mature is every way dwarfed by Atheism, and that Science, so far as it gives evidence at all, gives strong evidence of the same kind. Instead of being a source of uneasy fear and suspicion, we have tried to show that, fairly faced, Science adds all its strength to the side of trust. One branch of the subject we have entirely omitted— the evidence of the imagination to the intellectual and spiritual origin of Nature's beauty. There is, we believe, a conviction, amounting to certainty, in every poetic mind, that the face of nature wears as clearly the mysterious impress of an infinite character as the face of man wears the impress of the workings of thought and emotion within. No one ever yet explained why smiles and frowns always convey to all people, and even to the merest infant, the same notions of joy and displeasure. This is a natural language, of which the knowledge is inborn, and which no law of association can explain. We believe confidently that the same is true—with vaguer meanings—of the expressive power of Nature, that all poetic insight sees that it as vividly bears the spiritual stamp of God. But on this we cannot enlarge. We believe that the one greatest indication visible to an unconvinced mind of the being of God lies in the evidence previously adduced as to the relative types of atheistic and theistic character, that is, in the universal feeling that the attitude of conscious personal dependence (we would say humility, but that even the atheist may feel that scientific and social humility are virtues to him also) is the most favourable for the growth of all high qualities. Take a man, however high, however far beyond all other men, so that human leaning is impossible and mischievous; and who will not feel that, in order still to grow, he must still look upward and rest in a Being higher than himself? Fuller evidence than this of the direction of the truth it is impossible to adduce. Conviction must be personal. No one can actually manifest God to another. But there are few, we believe, of those who anxiously seek, who do not ultimately attain a clear vision of the truth that “no man hath quickened his own soul,” and that in this truth is involved not the despair, but the deepest peace of man.


Napoléon le Petit. Par Victor Hugo. London, 1852.

It is not, of course, our intention to say one word of this ebullition of acrimonious patriotism. We design, indeed, to speak of the remarkable person to whom it relates; but we shall do so from other information, and in a far different spirit. It is always with diffidence and misgiving that we ought to speak of foreign nations, especially in their political and social relations. A stranger's information must always be so inadequate and incomplete; it must so generally be second-hand, and therefore liable to come to him in a distorted and partial shape; it must need, before it can be fully understood, so many elucidations, so many corrections from modifying sources, that, even when his materials are most ample, he must feel much like a man prescribing or speculating in the dark. The more varied the quarters from which he derives his knowledge, the more numerous and opposite the individuals whom he is able to question and consult, the greater will generally become his bewilderment, and the deeper and more hopeless his benightment. If he relies mainly on official materials, these are invariably meagre and often falsified. If he dwells much on newspapers, how is he to know which speak public sentiment or guide it, and which are the mere uninfluential organs of a man or of a clique? or which, 124 The Present State of France.

again—like the Times, the Presse, and the New York Herald– owe a vast circulation to accidental and extraneous causes, and are about the most unfaithful exponents extant of the real, permanent, deliberate opinion of the effective portion of the nation? If he endeavours to instruct himself thoroughly by intercourse with living witnesses, every thing he hears bears the impress of personal prejudice or party passion, and requires a terrible amount of sifting before it can be used. And if he determines to see and judge for himself, the chances are that years of residence will be needed before he will have learned the language, and imbibed the spirit, and realised the Stand-punkt of the nation he is studying, sufficiently to enable him to observe with accuracy and penetration.

If these difficulties exist in every case, more especially must they be felt by every modest and conscientious Englishman when he undertakes to treat of France. The inmate characters of the two people are so widely different that they have all the difficulty in the world in comprehending and doing justice to each other. They are cast in a distinct mould; they come of a separate stock; their temperaments are discrepant; their antecedents have divided them; their social wants and political wishes are not in harmony; their views of religion, of life, of government, of society, are intrinsically unlike. The entire civilisation of each people has a special aspect and idiosyncrasy of its own. The French are vivacious, mercurial, but comparatively sober; the English stolid, pertinacious, but, alas! very thirsty. We have an instinctive reverence for law and custom, and bow easily to what is elevated and to what is past; while their outbursts of license and endurance of despotic rule are alike amazing to us. We are very aristocratic, but sturdy in the assertion and employment of individual independence; they are vehemently democratic—as far as democracy consists in a passion for equality; but put up with restraints on personal liberty which would drive us frantic. Both of us endure oppressions and iniquities which it is utterly astounding to contemplate with the unfilmed eye of cosmopolitan reason, but we take different sorts of enormities under the protection of our capricious tolerance;—they have their meddlesome police and their terrible conscription;–we have our Court of Chancery and our marriagelaw, and had our system of “impressment.” A religious man in France is usually a good Catholic ; a religious man in England will probably be a bitter Protestant. A high-minded Englishman is devoted to the idea of “duty;” a high-minded Frenchman grows enthusiastic at the name of “glory.” Both people are individually as well as nationally ambitious and aspiring, but in a different temper and for different objects. Men in both countries are in haste to be rich ;-but the Frenchman longs for wealth because it will purchase enjoyment and social consideration; the Englishman desires it because it leads to greatness, and may end in making him a powerful millionnaire. In addition to the difficulty of fully understanding and fairly and dispassionately judging our neighbours and allies, consequent on the inherent divergencies of character we have thus sketched out, other and special impediments exist at the present moment. We are deprived of some of our ordinary channels of information, and others are narrowed and vitiated. On many points we can only speak conjecturally as to the “present state of France,” because it is undeniable that much information which it concerns the public to possess is wholly suppressed, and much comes to it diluted, adulterated, and obscured. Not only are we deprived of the enlightenment we might derive as to the general sentiment and mental and moral condition of the country, from the free and varied utterances of the press and the discussions in the daily journals; but there is reason to suspect that much goes on which is never suffered to transpire in public, and which we learn only from vague rumour, or through private channels. Local popular movements, individual violences, casual bursts of crime or of resistance, all of which are so many indications of social condition and political feeling, do not find their way into the newspapers in France under the actual strict system of surveillance. In forming an opinion, therefore, from the facts before us, we must do so with the unsatisfactory proviso that many and significant facts are not before us. Another obstacle arises from the virulence of party and personal feeling which prevails in France. It is difficult to find a man who can do justice to a political opponent, or who will candidly admit a hostile fact. Those attached to the existing régime will not allow any other to be possible, or any material modification of this one to be easy. Its opponents are all damaged or designing men—its critics all revolutionists in disguise. The adherents of the baffled dynastics or factions—the various sections of the “outs”—on the other hand, can scarcely be induced to grant that there is one good feature about the present system or the present man beyond the mere maintenance of order, and that they consider dearly paid for. Many, indeed, admit that Louis Napoleon has been of service, and was even necessary for a while ; but that time they deem now past or passing, and ere long, they say, he ought to give place to a more legitimate monarch, and to inaugurate a freer policy. But what that dynasty or policy should be—whether Orleanist, Bourbon, or Republican—is a matter of equally virulent dispute. Amid such animosities and obscurities—through such dark clouds and such bewildering glimpses of refracted and discoloured light—have we to grope our way, as best we can, to something like conclusive notions.

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