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to discover the spiritual essence, which resides in all material forms, and is, therefore, prepared to recognize them [it ?] in the new heavens and new earth; while, to the other, whose views have been confined to sensible images, all will appear strange and unintelligible.”
“All things of which we here take cognizance, are but attributes and manifestations of an essence which now eludes our search, but which we shall hereafter recognize as a manifest existence. These external things will then have passed away as shadows, and will be immortalized in their influences. These influences will not be summoned by memory, but recognized by consciousness.”—p. 222, vol. i.
“ It is not more certain that the materials afforded by nature are those by which the immortal spirit is to be built up, than that the stirring soul is to exert a reciprocal action upon those outward things, which minister pleasure and pain to itself and others.”—p. 227.
We do not exactly understand what this last sentence means; which is a discrimination between the soul and the spirit--the first of which seems to “stir” by its nature, and the latter to be "built up by outward materials. Outward materials may be said to build up the understanding, but it is rather uncommon to call that faculty, when discriminated from the soul, the human spirit
. Spirit is generally used as a more general term, including intellect, heart, and the moral nature, in one.
But all the above sentences would, we think, convey the idea to any reader that Miss Martineau thinks man an immaterial being, sojourning in clay, and not a mere result of organism, whose immortality is altogether an arbitrary gift, superinduced upon his being; whose energy and consciousness are suspended in the grave, until, by a new fiat of the Creator, he rises again; and who can have no primary suggestion from within, of his immortality, but must have ever received it from a traditionary revelation. Yet such, it appears, are her opinions; as we shall proceed to show.
In her « Review of Carmichael's Considerations," her words are, that Carmichael “vanquishes the immaterialist as far as he attempts it ;" and “overthrows the ancient superstition (as we deem it) of a separate soul.” And farther, in her “ Review of Sir Walter Scott's . Demonology and Witchcraft,” she asserts materialism in the plainest language. “The greater number of ideas are compounded from, and all are originated by, sensations." “The simple ideas which are deposited by sensation, or the compound ones which are formed by association from the simple ideas, are awakened, recalled, or revived, by the action of certain laws of suggestion.”
We would ask, first, are these laws themselves a " deposit of
sensation ?" secondly, is “the stirring soul” that "exerts a reciprocal action on outward things” itself a “deposit of sensation ?" thirdly, are the influences of external things upon that essence, " which we shall hereafter recognize as a manifest existence ;” and which are to be immortalized when “outward things have passed away—are the ideas of these, and the essence in which they exist, "originated” or deposited by sensation ? Is that “spiritual essence which resides in all material forms,” which is to be discerned by “the enlightened intellect” on its “entrance into another world,” itself a material form or substance? It is not our purpose, in this place, to controvert Miss Martineau's materialism, but merely to state it, and show that it is inconsistent with what she herself says in other places. And it is worthy of observation, that whenever she becomes inconsistent with her materialism, she rises into her highest eloquence. Expressions in her Sabbath Musings, such as when speaking of love and grief, she says, "the otherwise incommunicable revelation of what the human spirit is"— “ the fact that “what spirits" are to one another, they must be for ever, &c., only occur when she ceases to attempt philosophical analysis.
In her Religion of Socrates she is most manifestly disturbed by her materialism. She wishes to ascribe some inspiration to Socrates, and says,
“As a miracle is an extraordinary event, not in itself, but only to human apprehension, so, in its own nature, inspiration is only a greater degree of power which is possessed by all."
We would ask, whether inspiration, also, is among the ideas originated by sensation ?" and if so, why it is called inspiration, a breathing in of spirit? if not so, what is that “which is possessed by all,” of which it is only a greater degree? We cannot form, in our minds, a notion of this material inspiration, of which Miss Martineau is very tenacious. However, on page
273 she says,
“Inspiration itself being the natural result of a physical miracle,”
but she does not say of what physical miracle.
But to return to her perplexity about Socrates, whose character and teachings her ever correct moral sympathies embrace without misgiving, she says, with an ingenuousness whose moral character we venerate,
“We own a difficulty in conceiving that the ordinary powers of man, exercised in any ordinary mode, should have effected so marvellous an enlightenment, as that of Socrates, in the midst of heathen darkness.
What means Divine Wisdom made use of for the purpose, will probably never be known on this side of the grave."
Here she acknowledges that her sense-founded psychology cannot explain Socrates.
With respect to the last remark, however, we would observe, that Miss Martineau is rather remarkable for saying that those things into which she does not see can never be known. For instance, in her essays on the art of thinking (in which, by the way, the disciples of Coleridge would find but little of their master's idea of thought), she says,
“Of the essences of beings which (for want of knowing better) we call spiritual, nothing can be ascertained."
Again, in her Review of Dr. Crombie's book on Natural Theology, she says,
“To us it appears that the origin of evil has never been accounted for, and most probably it never will be explained in the present state,” &c.
“It is doubtless well that such a necessity is imposed."
This Review of Dr. Crombie's book presents more than usual of her inconsistencies. The very passage from which we have quoted above, closes with these words
“The intellectual is not the highest department of our constitution"; and while the understanding sinks, baffled and exhausted, the powers of faith may be strengthened for a steady and lofty flight.”
Which sentence we take to mean, that faith is higher than intellect in the constitution of man; and to be an acknowledgment, that there is in man one idea, at least, not "originated” or deposited by sensation." Yet this whole article is written to present the view of there being no recognizable principle of an eternal nature in man ; that his belief of immortality, even his notion of it, must necessarily have been primarily suggested by a. traditionary revelation; that all the natural arguments for it never were nor can be more than confirmatory of it, revelation having already suggested it. We would ask, how she supposes that the revealer of the doctrine of immortality knew it? If she answers that he received it by revelation, we would ask her, how did the angel of revelation know it? If God awakened this idea, or showed it, spiritually, to any being in the universe, why not to man, who is his image? But here is a difficulty, inherent in the system which makes sensation the inlet of all knowledge. The truth is, that if it be so, immortality is not an idea recognizable by the human being as true; and, as a human. VOL. XX.--NO. 39.
being, man is not capable of assurance on the subject. If this be true logic, Miss Martineau's own consciousness might assure her that she is only, in fancy, a materialist; for is she not assured of immortality? We hope she will one day lay off the shackles of this system; and then, perhaps, she may begin to be the philosopher she never can be while she clings so tenaciously to contradictory systems of thought.
We might proceed throughout these two volumes, selecting contradictions on collateral subjects, which grow out of these general ones of which we have spoken. Thus, in the Review of Essays on the Pursuit of Truth, she says:
“ The first declaration that we meet with is, that the belief in the uniformity of causation, is an instinctive principle. We doubt it. Have we any belief in the connection of cause and effect, antecedent to experiment ?"
Yet, as she adds,
“ A very short experience is sufficient to establish it too firmly to be overthrown.”
All this is rational enough in one who does not believe in instinctive principles. But, a few pages after, in the same review,
“We agree with the author in his reasonings in his third chapter, which prove that the uniformity of causation cannot be established by EXPERIENCE and testimony."
Is this a misprint? We should think so, if the whole of the latter part of the review was not an argument to prove that the uniformity of causation could not be established by that which she before says is sufficient to establish it, in a very short time, loo firmly to be overthrown. We have room but for one extract
210 she says,
“We have all had experience of sleep, of faintings, of debility; and we know that if there be a spiritual principle unsusceptible of injury, it is not detected by our experience, our state in sleep and illness being the same as if mind and body were one.”
This we think is a petitio principii. She goes on,
“If the immaterial portion of our frame be susceptible of disease in exact proportion with the material part, where is its advantage over matter ? what evidence is there for it? or, rather, what evidence is there not against it ??
What is the immaterial portion of a frame?
Thus much for the logic of a materialist, who yet has the feelings of a Christian in her heart, and that faith of immortality which she may not let go, even for her “System;" for she is a true and humane woman.
But to turn away from the seemingly in vidious task of pointing out imperfections; we cannot leave these volumes without a tribute of respect to several articles, that can come neither under the head of philosophical or moral essays. We allude to the very interesting letter upon the Hanwell Lunatic Asylum; the letter to the Deaf, which inspires a profound veneration for the writer ; to the article on the Salem Witchcraft; to much of the articles on Prison Discipline, “ Nature and Providence to communities,” and “Romanism and Episcopacy.” Practical subjects call out all her good sense, and truly moral character.
But we would repeat it, in the department of fiction alone, is Miss Martineau great. We would willingly write as much again as we have now done, in setting forth the claims of her illustrations, as works of art; not forgetting her beautiful little story, entitled “Five Years of Youth." It is this conviction of ours, that has made us say what we have of her want of philosophic genius. Perhaps we have been vain enough to feel that, should her eyes ever fall on these pages, an idea might be deposited in her mind (to use her own phraseology), that she had better devote herself exclusively to that department of writing in which she is, unquestionably, a genius, and realize the idea of a new class of novels, rivalling Sir Walter Scott's in beauty and interest, and grounded on a more universal condition of humanity than the feudal system. As she herself says,
“By achieving so much, within narrow bounds, he has taught us the power of fiction as an agent of morals and philosophy; "and it shall go hard with us but we will better the instruction.'
Instead of tales of knightly love and glory, of chivalrous loyalty, of the ambition of ancient courts, and the by-gone superstitions of a half savage state, we must have, in a new novelist, the graver themes,—not the less picturesque, perhaps, for their reality, which this present condition of society suggests. We have had enough of ambitious intrigues ; why not now take the magnificent subject, the birth of political principle, whose advent has been heralded so long? What can afford finer moral scenery than the transition state in which society now is! Where are nobler heroes to be found than those who sustain society in the struggle; and what catastrophe so grand as the downfal of bad institutions, and the issues of a process of renovation ? Heroism may now be found, not cased in helm and cuirass, but strengthening itself in the cabinet of the statesman, guiding the movements of the unarmed multitude, and patiently bearing up against hardship, in the hope of its peaceful removal. Love may now be truly represented as sanctified by generosity and selfdenial, in many of the sad majority of cases where its course runs not smooth. All the virtues which have graced fictitious delineations, are still at the service of the povelist; but their exercise and discipline should be represented as different from what they were. The same passions still sway human hearts : but they must be shown to be intensified or repressed by the new impulses which a new state of things affords.”— Vol. I. p. 55.