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Those who think that science is dissipating religious beliefs and sentiments, seem unaware that whatever of mystery is taken from the old interpretation is added to the new. Or rather, we may say that transference from the one to the other is accompanied by increase ; since, for an explanation which has a seeming feasibility, science substitutes an explanation which, carrying us back only a certain distance, there leaves us in presence of the avowedly inexplicable.
Under one of its aspects scientific progress is a gradual transfiguration of Nature. Where ordinary perception saw perfect simplicity it reveals great complexity; where there seemed absolute inertness it discloses intense activity; and in what appears mere vacancy it finds a marvellous play of forces. Each generation of physicists discovers in so-called "brute matter' powers which, but a few years before, the most instructed physicists would have thought incredible; as instance the ability of a mere iron plate to take up the complicated aërial vibrations produced by articulate speech, which, translated into multitudinous and varied electric pulses, are retranslated a thousand miles off by another iron plate and again heard as articulate speech. When the explorer of Nature sees that, quiescent as they appear, surrounding solid bodies are thus sensitive to forces which are infinitesimal in their amounts--when the spectroscope proves to him that molecules on the Earth pulsate in harmony with molecules in the stars--when there is forced on him the inference that every point in space thriils with an infinity of vibrations passing through it in all directions; the conception to which he tends is much less that of a Universe of dead matter than that of a Universe everywhere alive : alive if not in the restricted sense, still in a general
This transfiguration, which the inquiries of physicists continually increase, is aided by that other transfiguration resulting from metaphysical inquiries. Subjective analysis compels us to admit that our scientific interpretations of the phenomena which objects present, are expressed in terms of our own variously-combined sensations and ideas-are expressed, that is, in elements belonging to consciousness, which are but symbols of the something beyond consciousness. Though analysis afterwards reinstates our primitive beliefs, to the extent of showing that behind every group of phenomenal manifestations there is always a nexus, which is the reality that remains fixed amid appearances which are variable; yet we are shown that this nexus of reality is for ever inaccessible to consciousness. And when, once more, we remember that the activities constituting consciousness, being rigorously bounded, cannot bring in among themselves the activities beyond the bounds, which therefore seem unconscious, though production of either by the other seems to imply that they are of the same essential nature; this necessity we are under to think of the external energy in terms of the internal energy, gives rather a spiritualistic than a materialistic aspect to the Universe : further thought, however, obliging us to recognise the truth that a conception given in phenomenal manifestations of this ultimate energy can in no wise show us what it is.
While the beliefs to which analytic science thus leads are such as do not destroy the object-matter of religion, but simply transfigure it, science under its concrete forms enlarges the sphere for religious sentiment. From the very beginning the progress of knowledge has been accompanied by an increasing capacity for wonder. Among savages, the lowest are the least surprised when shown remarkable products of civilised art: astonishing the traveller by their indifference. And so little of the marvellous do they perceive in the grandest phenomena of Nature, that any inquiries concerning them they regard as childish trifling. This contrast in mental attitude between the lowest human beings and the higher human beings around us, is paralleled by the contrasts among the grades of these higher human beings themselves. It is not the rustic, nor the artisan, nor the trader, who sees something more than a mere matter of course in the hatching of a chick ; but it is the biologist, who, pushing to the uttermost his analysis of vital phenomena, reaches his greatest perplexity when a speck of protoplasm under the microscope shows him life in its simplest form, and makes him feel that however he formulates its processes the actual play of forces remains unimaginable. Neither in the ordinary tourist nor in the deer-stalker climbing the mountains above him, does a highland glen rouse ideas beyond those of sport or of the picturesque ; but it may, and often does, in the geologist. He, observing that the glacier-rounded rock he sits on has lost by weathering but half-an-inch of its surface since a time far more remote than the beginnings of human civilisation, and then trying to conceive the slow denudation which has cut out the whole valley, has thoughts of time and of power to which they a. strangers
- thoughts which, already utterly inadequate to their objects, he feels to be still more futile on noting the contorted beds of gneiss around, which tell him of a time, immeasurably more remote, when far beneath the Earth's surface they were in a half-melted state, and again tell him of a time, immensely exceeding this in remoteness, when their components were sand and mud on the shores of an ancient
Nor is it in the primitive peoples who supposed that the heavens rested on the mountain tops, any more than in the modern inheritors of their cosmogony who repeat that the heavens declare the glory of God,' that we find the largest conceptions of the Universe or the greatest amount of wonder excited by contemplation of it. Rather, it is in the astronomer, who sees in the Sun a mass so vast that even into one of his spots our Earth might be plunged without touching its edges; and who by every finer telescope is shown an increased multitude of such suns, many of them far larger.
Hereafter, as heretofore, higher faculty and deeper insight will raise rather than lower this sentiment. At present the most powerful and most instructed mind has neither the knowledge nor the capacity required for symbolising in thought the totality of things. Occupied with one or other division of Nature, the man of science usually does not know enough of the other divisions even rudely to conceive the extent and complexity of their phenomena; and supposing him to have adequate knowledge of each, yet he is unable to think of them as a whole. Wider and stronger intellect may hereafter help him to form a vague consciousness of them in their totality. We may say that just as an' undeveloped musical faculty, able only to appreciate a simple melody, cannot grasp the variously-entangled passages and harmonies of a symphony, which in the minds of composer and conductor are unified into involved musical effects awakening far greater feeling than is possible to the musically uncultured ; so, by future more evolved intelligences, the course of things now apprehensible only in parts may be apprehensible all together, with an accompanying feeling as much beyond that of the present cultured man, as his feeling is beyond that of the savage.
And this feeling is not likely to be decreased but to be increased by that analysis of knowledge wbich, while forcing him to agnosticism, yet continually prompts him to innagine some solution of the Great Enigma which he knows cannot be solved. Especially must this be so when he remembers that the very notions, beginning and end, cause and purpose, are relative notions belonging to human thought which are probably irrelevant to the Ultimate Reality transcending human thought; and when, though suspecting that explanation is a word without meaning when applied to this Ultimate Reality, he yet feels compelled to think there must be an explanation.
But amid the mysteries which become the more mysterious the more they are thought about, there will remain the one absolute certainty, that he is ever in presence of an Infinite and Eternal Energy, from wbich all things proceed.
PRETENSIONS OF M. DE LESSEPS.
The Suez Canal has engrossed a full share of the attention of Europe during the last twelve months, but certainly not more than is warranted by its importance. One of the official British directors lately propounded, as a reason for the agitation among shipowners, the jealousy of the large profits the shareholders were making. He seems to have mistaken an effect for a cause. Profits are derived from business. It is the enormous development of the latter, contributed by daily increasing numbers of individuals, which bas so enlarged the constituency of the canal that they can now trumpet forth their remonstrances against high-banded and arbitrary management with a thousand tongues, and are felt to be powerful enough, not only to demand, but to insist upon their claims being satisfied. It has been the set policy of the Canal Company to put forward on every occasion the most exaggerated claims to uncontrolled power in the administration of their affairs. M. de Lesseps and his council, or at least the acting portion of it, have naturally a thorough knowledge of what they possess. But, still more, they have an equally keen perception of what they want, and any one who takes the trouble to wade through the vast expanse of literature connected with the canal, will find certain subjects cropping up at irregular intervals, but invariably adroitly brought forward whenever a peg could be found to hang them upon. In this way the most humble requests have grown into rights arbitrarily withheld. I will give an instance. It was not a little amusing to see, in the report of the official British directors on their provisional agreement with M. de Lesseps, which died even before it lived, that one of the advantages they were able to offer was, “the good offices of Her Majesty's Government to obtain permission for the Canal Company to make a freshwater canal between Ismailia and Port Said : ' described in the most modest language as a scheme primarily for the interest of the inhabitants and the shipping, but not the least essential to the interests of the Company.
All who have studied canal matters will know that this humble project has been steadily kept in view, even from the days of Ismail. He knew, no one better, the importance of this canal, which formed part of the original concession, and was bought back in 1856 from the Company; and the diplomatic negotiations between the Pasha and his astute antagonist-the une not daring to ask for fear of a refusal, the other not wishing to refuse, so that he might still dangle the prize as a possible concession-formed not one of the least amusing episodes of a game between two players of unequalled diplomatic powers
So much misapprenension, not to say want of knowledge, generally prevails in regard to the rights of the Canal Company, that it is impossible to believe that even those whose duty it is to know can have informed themselves upon what these rights are really founded. From time to time we have seen long disquisitions upon the words Pouvoir exclusif, which appear in the first concession. Then we are treated by lawyers to learned arguments upon the recondite principle of eminent domain. But none of these controversialists appear to be aware that there is a context to be studied of equal importance to these alarming words, and that before it is necessary to have recourse to general principles we have first to see what the particular circumstances are to which they have to be applied. The rights of the Canal Company depend not alone upon the first act of concession of the 30th of November, 1854, so often quoted, but upon a number of other documents, all of equal force, seeing that they consist either of subsequent acts of the Egyptian Government defining and modifyiny points expressly reserved in the first concession, or of contracts entered into by the Canal Company for valuable consideration.
We propose to examine all the documents which bear upon the question, with the view of ascertaining whether M. de Lesseps or the Canal Company have a monopoly of the canalisation of the Isthmus of Suez. / In the early days of this controversy the right of the Company to make a second canal was treated by M. de Lesseps as if it were unquestionable, and even the British official directors, who were appointed for the purpose of protecting British interests, had so little acquainted themselves with the conditions of the concession that in their report for the information of our Government and Parliament they laid down the law in the same sense. Since then the claim has been sensibly modified. It has apparently been admitted on the part of the Canal Company that a second canal cannot be made without a fresh concession. As matters stanci at present the claim seems to be limited to widening the present canal, and preventing anyone else from making another. No official withdrawal, however, of former pretensions has, so far as we are aware, been made, and, as experience has shown the difficulty of arriving at a final settlement upon any question with the Canal Company, it is only prudent to deal with the subject as a whole.
Before proceeding with this examination, it is desirable to formulate the position which those who hold opinions adverse to the views