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Science is still making progress; indeed, leaving out of sight one or two great Newtonian steps, we may say that it is advancing more rapidly than ever. But now at length its spiritual correlative begins to emerge, and a new epoch forms itself, as we fully believe, in the history of humanity.
In celebrating this birth and growth of science, in treating it as the central and commanding fact of modern times, and in suggesting the vast modification of beliefs and habits of thought which this must effect, Dr. Draper has a large theme, and he treats it con amore. In this respect, his book has value, and is worth its cost to himself and his readers. In some branches of science, moreover, as in Physiology, and in questions of vital organization generally, he is to be named among the authorities, and we gladly attend when he raises his voice.
Yet even in respect to this feature, his work cnnnot be praised without reserve. Though a man of scientific eminence, yet in the pure and open spirit of science it is impossible for him to write. He is a dogmatist, a controversialist, a propagandist. No matter of what science he treats, his exposition ever has an aim beyond itself. It is always a means to an end; and that end is always a dogma. For example, he had written a work on Human Physiology; and in the present volume he avows that his "main object" therein was to "enforce the doctrine" of the "absolute dominion of physical agents over organic forms as the fundamental principle in all the sciences of organization." This "main object" is no less dear to him in the work immediately under consideration. He still teaches that the primitive cell, with which, it is supposed, all organisms begin, is in all the same, but, being placed hi different situations, is developed here into a man, and there into a mushroom. "The offspring," he says, not without oracular twang, "is like its parent, not because it includes an immortal typical form, but because it is exposed in development to the same conditions as was its parent." Behold a cheap explanation of the mystery of life! If one inquire how the vast variety of parental conditions was obtained, Dr. Draper is ready with his answer: —" A suitableness of external situation called them forth," quoth he. An explanation nebulous enough to be sage 1
Behold, therefore, a whole universe of life constructed by "Situations " I "Situations" are the new Eloltim. They say to each other, "Let us make man "; and they do it! But they cannot say, "Let us make man in our own image "; for they have no image. No matter: they succeed all the same in giving one to man I Wonderful "Situations" I Who will set up an altar to almighty "Situations "?
We have ourselves a somewhat Benjamite tongue for pronouncing the popular shibboleths, but, verily, we would sooner try the crookedest of them all than endeavor to persuade ourselves that in a universe wherein no creative idea lives and acts "external situations" can ''call forth" life and all its forms. We can understand that a divine, creative idea may develop itself under fixed conditions, as the reproductive element in opposite sexes may, under fixed conditions, prove its resources; but how, in a universe devoid of any productive thought, "external situations " can produce definite and animate forms, is, to our feeble minds, incomprehensible. Verily, therefore, we will have nothing to do with these new gods. The materialistic sai-ans may cry Pagani at us, if they will; but we shall surely continue to kneel at the old altars, unless something other than the said " Situations " can be offered us in exchange.
We complain of Dr. Draper that he does not write in the spirit of science, but in the spirit of dogmatism. We complain of him, ili.> i. when he ostensibly attempts a piece of pure scientific exposition, his thought always has a squint, a boomerang obliquity; it is afflicted with strabismus, and never looks where it seems to look. He approaches history only to subject it to the service of certain pet opinions already formed before his inspection of history began. He seeks only to make it an instrument for the propagation of these. He is a philosophical historian in the same sense that Uossuet was a philosophical historian. Each of these seeks to subject history to a dogma. The dogma of Bossuet is Papal Catholicism; that of Dr. Draper is the creative supremacy of "Situations" and "the insignificance of man in the universe."
It is quite proper for Dr. Draper to appear as a polemic in science, if he will. It is not advocacy per se of which we complain; it is advocacy with a squint, advoeacy ronnd a corner. If he wishes to prove the creative efficacy of "Situations," let him do so; but let him not in doing so seem to be offering an impartial exposition of Human Physiology. If he wishes to prove that physical science is the. only rational thing in the world, he may try; but let him not assume to be writing a history of intellectual development. If he would convince us that-history has epochs corresponding to those of individual life, we will listen ; but we shall listen with impatience, if it appear after all that he is merely seeking, under cover of this proposition, to further a low materialistic dogma, and convince us of " man's insignificance in the universe."
We are open to all reasonings. Any decent man, who has honorably gone through with his Pythagorean lustrum of silence and thought, shall, by our voice, have his turn on the world's tribune; and if he be honest, he shall lose nothing by it. But we hate indirections. We hate the pretension implied in assuming to be an authoritative expounder, when one is only an advocate. And, still further, we shall always resist any man-s attempt to make his facts go for a great deal more than they are worth. Let him call his ten ten, and it shall pass for ten; but if he insist on calling it a thousand, we shall not acquiesce. The science of Physiology is just out of its babyhood. Of the nervous system in particular— of its physiology and pathology alike—our knowledge is extremely immature. We are just beginning, indeed, to know anything scientifically on that subject. The attempt in behalf of that little to banish spiritual philosophy out of the world, and to silence forever the voice of Human Consciousness, is a piece of pretension on behalf of which we decline to strain our hospitality. *
Our notice o&this work would, however, be both incomplete and unjust, did we forbear to say, that, in its avowed idea, the author has got held of a genuine analogy. Not that we approve the details of his scheme ; the details, we verily believe, are as nearly all wrong us an able and studious man could make them. But the senoral idea of a correspondence between individual and social life, of an organic existence in civilizations and a consequent subjection to the law of organisms, is a rich mine, and one that will sooner or later
be worked to profit. And the definite, emphatic announcement of it in Dr. Draper's work, however awkwardly done, suffices to make the work one of grave importance.
Every system of civilization is in some degree special. None is universal; none represents purely the spirit of humanity; none contains all the possibilities of society. Not being universal, none can be, in its form, perpetual. The universal asserts its supremacy; all that is partial must be temporary. The human spirit takes back, as it were, into its bosom each sally of civilization before pulsing anew. Thus, even on their ideal side, civilizations have their law of limitation; and to know what this law of limitation definitely is constitutes now one of the great desiderata of the world. We believe, that, ceteris paribus, the duration of a civilization is proportioned to its depth and breadth, — that is, to the degree in which it represents the total resource and possibility of the human spirit.
Again, every system of civilization has a body, an institution, an established and outward interpretation of social relationship. In respect to this it is mortal. In respect to this it has a law of growth and decay. In respect to this, moreover, it is subject to what we call accident, the chances of the world. In fine, the bodies of individuals and of civilizations, the fixed forms, that is, in which they arc instituted, serve the same uses and obey the some law.
Now a work which should 'deal in a really great and profound way with this corpus of civilizations,—not spending itself in a mere tedious, endless demonstration that such corpus exists, and has therefore its youth and its age, but really explaining its physiology and pathology,—such a work would be no less than a benefaction to the human race. And in such a work one of the easiest and most obvious points would be this, — that the spirit of civilizations has a certain power of changing the form of its body by successive partial rejections and remouldings; and the degree in which they prove capable of this continuous palingenesia is one important measure of their depth and determinant of their duration.
For writing such a work we do not think Dr. Draper perfectly qualified. For this we find in him no tokens of an intelligence sufficiently subtile, penetrating, and profound. He is, moreover, too heady and too well cased in his materialistic straitwaistcoat. Nevertheless, his book carries in it a certain large suggestion; it contains many excellent observations; its tono is unexceptionable; the style is firm and clear, though heavy and disfigured by such intolerable barbarisms as "commence to" walk, talk, or the like, — the use of the . infinitive instead of the participle after commence. Dr. Draper is an able man, a scholar in science, a well-informed, studious gentleman in other provinces; but he tries to be a legislator in thought, and tails.
De FOriyinf flu Laiiyatie. Par Ernest RkHan, Membre de 1'Iustitut. Quatribme Edition, augmented. Paris.
It seems to be the law of French thought, that it shall never be exhaustive of any profound matter, and also that (Auguste Comte always excepted) it shall never be exhausting to the reader. German thought may be both; French is neither; English
thought but the English do not think,
they dogmatize. Magnificent dogmatism it may be, but dogmatism. Exceptions of course, but these are equally exceptions to the characteristic spirit of the nation.
M. Kenan is thoroughly French. The power of coming after the great synthetic products of the human spirit and distributing them by analysis into special categories, eminent in his country, is preeminent in him. The facility at slipping over hard points, and at coming to unity of representation, partly by the solving force of an interior principle, and partly by ingenious accommodations, characteristic of French thought, characterizes his thinking in particular. That supremacy of the critical spirit in the man which secures to it the loyalty of all the faculties is alike peculiar to France among nations, and to this writer among Frenchmen. In Germany the imagination dominates, or at least contends with, the critical spirit; the French Ariel not only gives magic service to the critical Prospero, but seeks no emancipation, desires nothing better. Hence an admirable clearness and shapeliness in the criticism of France. Hence, also, in its best criticism a high degree of imaginative eub
tilty and penetration, without prejudice either to the dominion of common sense in the thought or to clearness in the statement.
M. Renan's essay on "The Origin of Language " is typical of his quality. Treating of an abstruse, though enticing problem, — almost profound, and that in comparison with the soundest and sincerest thinking of our time, — it is yet so clear and broad, its details are so perfectly held in solution by the thought, the thought itself moves with such ease, grace, and vigor, and in its style there is such crystal perspicuity and precision, that one must be proof against good thinking and excellent writing not to feel its charm.
The main propositions of the work — whose force and significance, of course, cannot be felt in this dry enumeration — are that language issues from the spontaneity of the human spirit, — "spontaneity, which is both divine and human "; that its origin is simultaneous with the opening of consciousness in the human race; that it preserves a constant parallel with consciousness, that is, with the developed spirit of man, in its nature and growth; and that, by consequence, its first form is not one of analytic simplicity, but of a high synthesis and a rich complexity. The whole mind, he says, acts from the first, only not with the power of defining, distinguishing, separating, which characterizes the intellect of civilized man; his objects are groups; he grasps totalities; sees objects and their relationships as one fact; tends to connect his whole consciousness with all he sees, making the stone » man or a god: and language, in virtue of its perpetual parallelism with consciousness, must be equally synthetic and complex from the start .
He finds himself opposed, therefore, first, to those, "like M. Bonald," who attribute language to a purely extraneous, not an interior, revelation; secondly, to the philosophers of the eighteenth century, who made it a product of free and reflective reason; thirdly, to the German school, who trace it back to a few hundred monosyllabic roots, each expressing with analytic precision some definite material object, from which roots the whole subsequent must be derived by etymologic spinning-out, by agglutination, and by figurative heightening of meaning.
His work, accordingly, should be read by all sincere students of the question of Language in connection with the statements of Professor Miiller, as he represents another and a typical aspect of the ease. He denies the existence of a "Turanian" family of tongues, such as Miiller sought to constitute in Buneen's -' Outlines "; pronouncing with great decision, and on grounds both philosophical and linguistic, against that notion of monosyllabic origin which assumes the .Chinese as truest of all tongues to the original form and genius of language, he is even more decided that not the faintest trace can be found of the derivation of all existing languages from a single primitive tongue. From general principles, therefore, and equally from inspection of language, he infers with confidence that each great family of languages has come forth independently from the genius of - man.
His results in Philology correspond, thus, with those of Mr. Agassiz in Natural History. They suggest multiplicity of human origins. From this result M. Renan does not recoil, and he takes care to state with great precision and vigor the entire independence of the spiritual upon the physical unity of man, — as Mr. Agassiz also did in that jewel which he set in the head of Nott and Gliddon's toad.
But here he pauses. His results bear him no farther. The philological and physiological classifications of mankind, he says, do not correspond; their lines cross; nothing can be concluded from one to the other. The question of unity or diversity of physical origins he leaves to the naturalist; upon that he has no right to raise his voice. Spiritual unity he asserts firmly; linguistic unity he firmly denies; on the question of physical unity he remains modestly and candidly silent, not finding in his
peculiar studies data for a rational opinion.
M. Renan is not a Newton in his science. He satisfies, and he disappoints. The Newtonian depth, centrality, and poise, — well, one may still be a superior scholar and writer without these. And such he is. His tendency to central principles i s decided, but with this there is a wavering, an unsteadiness, and you get only agility and good writing, it may be, where you had begun to look for a final word. Sometimes, too, in his desire of precision, he gives you precision indeed, but of a cheap kind, which is worse than any thoughtful vagueness. Thus, he opens his sixth section by naming I'onomatop6e, the imitation of natural sounds, as the law of primitive language. He knew better; for he has hardly named this "law" before he slips away from it; and his whole work waa pitched upon a much profbunder key. Why must he seize upon this ready-made word? Why could he not have taken upon himself to say deliberately and truly, that the law of primitive language, and in the measure of its life of all language, U the symbolization of mental impression by sounds, just as man's spirit is symbolized in his body, and absolute spirit in the universe? But this is "vague," and M. Renan writes in Paris.
And in Paris he has written an able and in many respects admirable treatise, — almost profound, as we have said, and creditable to him and to France. It must be reckoned, we think, a foundation-stone in the literature of the problem of Language.
In five or six pages the theological peculiarities of M. Kenan appear. The reader, however, who is most rigidly indisposed to open question on such matters will find these six pages which do not please him a feeble counterbalance to the two hundred and fifty which do.
Talk about guides! Let Independence, Self-Conceit, and Go-ahead undervalue them, if they will; but I, Sola Foemina, (for that is tho name I go by,) of Ignorance, (the place I hail from,) casting up my unbalanced accounts, (with • a view to settling,) find a large credit due to this class of individuals, which (though I have not the means to meet) I have no intention to repudiate.
Now and then, to be sure, I, S. F., have been reminded in my journeyings of poor dear E., whoso lively spirit was so chafed by the exactions made upon his purse and his temper at the hands of this imperturbable race, that at last he turned, like a stag at bay, and vented all his wrath in the face of a startled old woman by the abrupt and emphatic query, " What 'll you take to clear out?"
Still, dogmatic and prosing as they sometimes proved, my experience on the whole was favorable; and from the motherly old portress of the English church at Honeybourne, who fed me with bread and butter under her cottage-roof, and sent me away laden with garden-flowers and a blessing, to faithful Michel, who
held me over the blue fissures of the glaciers that I might get a glimpse of their secret waterfalls, who gathered violets for me on the margin of the icy sea, and, when I had carelessly dropped them by the way, treasured up the faded things to restore them to me at nightfall,—from the aged woman, with her " Good bye till we meet in heaven," to the rough mountaineer, with his hearty hand-pressure and God-speed at parting, I would not willingly lose one link out of the chain of such fast friends which stretched along my way.
There is Warwick Castle, — a written history, no doubt, to scholars, a mine of wealth to antiquaries and architects; but how incomplete would my associations be with the spot, were you banished from the picture, my sturdy friend, fit type of the female retainers of the household of the King-Maker, who, stationed within the ivied approach to the castle, presided, at the brazen porridge-pot, once holding food enough to satisfy ten score of men, now empty, save for ths volume of sound which stuns the ear when you strike it with your ponderous iron bar! Can I
Bntered according to Act of Conirress, in the year 1964, by Ticknor And Fiblds, In the Clerk's Office .
of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. VOL. XIII. 42