Obrázky na stránke

Result of Mr. Hislop's Inquiries.


to God, and how all kinds of magic virtues are attributed to it. Mr. Hislop, however, tells us that the same sign of the cross which Kome now worships was used in the Babylonian mysteries, was applied to the same magic purposes, and was honoured with the same honours. The cross was not originally a Christian emblem, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians—the true original form of the letter T. This mystic sign was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those who were initiated into the mysteries, and was used in a variety of other ways as a sacred symbol. It was worn as an

. amulet over the heart, was marked on the official garments of the pagan priesthood as on those of the Romish priests, and was borne by kings in their hands as a token of dignity or divinely-conferred authority. The vestal virgins of Rome had it suspended from their necklaces, just as the nuns now wear it. It was in use as early as the fifteenth century before the Christian era. The heathen Celts worshipped it, and it was a favourite emblem among the Buddhists. This pagan symbol was first adopted by the Christians of Egypt, and Sir G. Wilkinson says of it: “A still more curious fact may be mentioned respecting this hieroglyphical character (the Tau), that the early Christians of Egypt adopted it in lieu of the cross which was afterwards substituted for it, prefixing it to inscriptions in the same manner as the cross in later times. For, though Dr. Young had some scruples in believing the statement of Sir A. Edmonstone, that it holds that position in the sepulchres of the Great Oasis, I can attest that such is the case, and that numerous inscriptions headed by the Tau are preserved to the present day as early Christian monuments." From all this Mr. Hislop argues that the earliest form of what has since been called the cross was no other than the crux ansata, or sign of life, borne by Osiris and all the Egyptian gods. The handle, or ansa, was afterwards dispensed with, when it became the simple Tau, or ordinary cross, as it appears at the present day. But it is clear that its first employment on the sepulchres could have no reference to the crucifixion of our Lord, but was simply the result of attachment to old and long-cherished Pagan symbols.

In following out inquiries of this sort, there is considerable risk that the inquirer should be led on too far—that he should mistake a remote or accidental analogy for a close and perfect resemblance; and we are inclined to think that, with all his learning, research, and perfect good faith, Mr. Hislop has occasionally fallen into this error. He has, however, been thoroughly successful in the main object of his work-the demonstration that the religion of Rome is in reality but baptized paganism, disguised by a thin veil of Christianity. Y.



ART. VIII.-Man's Mental Instincts.

Francis Bacon, of Verulam. Realistic Philosophy, and its Age. By

Kuno FISCHER. Translated from the German, by John OXENFORD.
London. 1857. *

E know of no better exposition of the merits and defects

of the Baconian philosophy than this, and it is translated in a free, luminous, and philosophical style. We have no intention to criticise it, or even to sketch a summary of its contents; those who have a taste for the subject, and have not entirely mastered it, ought to read the book. The merits of the Inductive method are proved by the immense additions it has made to the physical sciences since it has been brought into distinct practice. Its defects, as it was limited by Bacon and understood by his followers, may be seen in its influence on the mental sciences as developed or degraded by Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Bayle, Voltaire, Condillac, Holbach, Helvetius, and others of the materialist school.

The natural order of the acquisition of knowledge is, first, that of the phenomena of physical nature around us, and afterwards that of our mental nature; and Bacon fell so far into this order, that he unduly fastened the intellect to the leadingstrings of physical nature, and restricted all human knowledge to our external experience, and allowed to the mind no inherent character, and no natural laws, tendencies, faculties, or capacities. This was an unnatural and arbitrary limitation of the sphere of inductive philosophy, for it confined all philosophical investigation to the objective aspect of knowledge, rejecting the subjective; and logical thinkers, accepting this limitation as a principle, found its sphere of operation continually growing by their deductions, until it culminated in the blank scepticism of Hume. Our author traces the history of this with great skill and thoroughness.

Of course, the natural and untrained logic of mankind saved us from accepting the results of such one-sided investigations ; and the moral and intellectual world still moved on, sustained by its faith in its God-given capacities to learn, and instinctively set aside, or simply ignored the demonstration, which it could not then answer, that there existed neither mind nor matter-beings to learn, nor things to be learned. Now, however, we have no difficulty in seeing that all knowledge

* Froin the Princeton Review, October, 1864.

Spontaneous Tendencies in Nature.


must result from-or we should rather say that it isthe re. lation of mind with things and facts, and other minds, and from their mutual adaptation to the production of knowledge; and that the mind is no empty tablet, or clean-swept threshingfloor, passively receiving the things and facts, or the impressions and inscriptions of them, which the world may chance to bring before it.

But, defective as this theory was, it admitted the mind's receptivity, and therefore that thus far, at least, it had inherent character and capacity; and inductive science, instead of arbitrarily limiting the mind to this, ought to have taken the hint which the admission gave, and applied itself to a more thorough investigation. We might as well expect the empty tablet to perform the work of the type-founder and the compositor, and the threshing-floor to execute the functions of the mill and the bakery, as to expect the merely receptive capacity of the mind to transform its sensuous individual impressions into will, sentiment, language, conceptions, ideas and scientific systems. Even the passivity of the cannon-ball before the exploding powder is not so entire as to dispense with the form, weight, and texture of the metal that fit it for its purpose ; a cotton ball would not answer there.

Our author does not attempt to show us the way out of the difficulties caused by this undue limitation put upon inductive philosophy by the followers of Bacon ; but he promises to do so in a future work, that is to be devoted to Kant and his followers. We shall await its appearance with much hope ; yet not without some misgivings, derived from what he has already written, that his admiration of Kant may prevent him from perceiving the fundamental errors of his system. Meantime we venture on some suggestions, which some of our readers may receive as indicating the way in which the mind naturally sets aside the arbitrary limitations imposed by materialistic philosophers, without falling into the equally arbitrary absoluteness of idealism.

We have nothing new to offer; but we may present old, and really very common thoughts, in a new aspect, and with more calculated purpose and distinctness than have been devoted to them heretofore. Our appeal is to the natural spontaneities of the human mind, and we shall call to our aid other natural spontaneities, animal, vegetable, and merely material ; and in doing so we shall not distinguish between the methods of induction and analogy, because Bacon has not distinguished them, though many philosophers regard them as fundamentally different.

These natural spontaneities are everywhere observed, and thus they become elements of inductive philosophy in every

branch of real science. In every department of nature we discover that there are certain well-defined tendencies or spontaneous activities, which are always in operation, producing the most minute and the most magnificent results ; tendencies and activities of which science cannot discover the origin or cause, and which it must be content with observing as facts, recording in history, and classifying into various branches, that they may be afterwards comprehended by philosophy.

It is one of these tendencies or spontaneous activities, called attraction or gravitation, that holds the earth together, balances it in its perennial circles round the sun, and maintains the moving order of the universe. It is the basis of all mechanical science, enters as an element into all the laws of motion, and while it is freely used and applied by man, the safety of the world requires that he should have no power to suspend it. Analogous to this tendency are the attractions of electricity and magnetism, manifesting themselves in endless variety in the world's activity, and submitting to human control and application, by means of the electrical battery, the magnetic telegraph, the compass, and the ordinary artificial magnet, and abounding, no doubt, in yet undiscovered and grander adaptations.

And at the very foundation of chemical science lies another of these spontaneous activities, called elective affinity, being the tendency which particles of different kinds of matter have to combine so as to form new bodies. It manifests itself according to definite laws, very many of which have been revealed by modern science, and only under proper conditions of different bodies, and is subject to great modifications under the influence of light, heat, and electricity, and had it no existence or no variability, the world would be a barren waste, without vegetable or animal life.

Other familiar and beautiful examples of this natural spontaneity are found in crystallization, or the process by which particles of matter come together and cohere, so as to constitute bodies of a regular form, the form being infinitely various according to circumstances and conditions, but each involving in it a primary or ground form, that indicates the very nature of the body, and which is itself revealed by the cleavage or analysis of the mineralogist.

Let this suffice for indicating the spontaneities of inorganic matter resulting in mere inorganic products, countless in their magnitudes, varieties, and beauties. Rising in our observations to the systems of organized bodies, we find these natural tendencies becoming still more obvious, various, beautiful, and mysterious. We see them in the bursting seed, the descending

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

root, the rising stem, the leaf, the flower, the fruit, and pervading all and essential to the whole, the sap. Spontaneously the seed grows, according to its kind of piant or tree, if it be placed in conditions that allow of its development, however imper. fectly, according to its kind ; if not, its tendency becomes a lost germ of the activities of nature, a bird without its mate, a soul without its body, an absolute without a relative.


Subject to the modifying influences of varying light, soil, position, and cultivation, the seed, in its growth, will take the peculiar form of its species, become dressed in the same foliage, adorned with the same flowers, bear the same fruit; the varieties produced by cultivation not being regarded as affecting identity of species. All this is so familiar to us from our infancy, that it presents no mystery until we begin to investigate and reason. To reason it must ever remain a mystery how the splendour and fragrance of the rose and the lily, and the beauty and lusciousness of the peach and the pear are produced; for reason can never look beyond tendencies and second causes, so as to see the Great First Cause that moves and directs all things.

Again, we see this mysterious spontaneity in the climbing plant or shrub, directing its growth towards the object that it needs for its support, putting forth its tendrils to take hold of it when it begins to climb, and twining around it, every species in its own direction, from left to right, or from right to left. We see it in the sensitive plant, shrinking from the touch of rudeness; the chickweed, folding its leaflets over the buds of its young flowers to protect them from the cold; the saracenia and Venus' fly-trap, closing upon the insects that enter their flowers, and retaining and digesting them. These are spontaneous activities that compel us to think of voluntary actions; although no one supposes that such is their character. They proceed not from their own reason, but from that of their Creator. We might enlarge the catalogue of these natural tendencies of vegetable life indefinitely; but it is unnecessary.

Rising another step in the general classification of created things, we find these natural spontaneities increased in number and variety in the animal kingdom. No insect, fish, or reptile, bird, or beast, is without them. All the process of growth, the digestion of food, the formation of every part of the body, the circulation of the blood, respiration and perspiration, and seeking after food ; all are spontaneous activities, not necessarily involving one conscious act of will. A similar spontaneity is at the foundation of all their other actions, though other principles, not now to be considered, may be connected with it; their association in pairs, and flocks, and herds; their fondness for locomotion and rest; their construction of nests and lairs; seeking dens or burrowing holes ; constructing honey-combs

« PredošláPokračovať »