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no infrequent visitant, though lost and bewildered in the fogs amongst which he has proposed to fix his abode. Sincere confidence in human progress, earnest aspirations for the greater perfection of man, a high-toned morality, and a clivalrous purity of sentiment, though sadly dashed with impropriety in the expression, break strangely across the gloom in which he has chosen to invest himself, and form quaint but favourable contrasts with his system. Such traits justify the belief, that however far he may have wandered from the truth, the light which led his steps astray was light from heaven. Moreover, there is a constant, though not continuous, display of genius of no common order: a singular perspicacity in seizing and unravelling the smaller knots and tangles which fetter the intellect : much original observation and valuable suggestion in points incidental; and a critical acumen, with a depth of comprehension, not often rivalled. His criticisms on the great authors of this and former ages, and on their positions, are eminently acute and, in the main, just, and afford the best evidence with which he has furnished us of his genuine ability and real powers. His comments upon Aristotle, Bacon, Comte, Mill, &c., reveal a higher order of talent than the whole elaboration of his system. We have read and reread them with care and profit; and we cannot refuse to accord to their author, however erratic, singular vigour of intellect, although we protest against his heretical opinions and reject his chimerical scheme.
Of the tendency of that scheme and those opinions we have said nothing; it may be easily understood. We have, in some measure, avoided speaking on the subject as it is so intimately connected with the undiluted infidelity of the work, to which we have so far barely alluded, and which we were reluctant to discuss. The Vestiges of Civilization is deliberately and conspicuously infidel, but it is negatively and inferentially rather than positively and dogmatically so. It does not formally attack Christianity and religion, but it continually sneers at both, and implicitly assumes or boldly asserts throughout that they are the follies and puerilities of a bygone age, which are virtually cashiered among all reflecting men. In our reply we have endeavoured neither to assert nor assume the oppositenot from any indifference or lukewarmness on this subject, not from the fear of assailing a fallacy and presumption weaker even than the system by which they were supposed to be sustained, and more untenable than the logic by which the theory was developed, but for very different reasons. In the first place, we would not stoop to reply to ridicule or irony: if the author so far forgot himself as to deal in sneers, we would not lower our own dignity and self-respect so far as to refute them. But our forbearance has been chiefly due to the conviction that the dereligionized philosophy of the day, which is becoming almost universal, must be encountered and overthrown on its own chosen field of battle, and principally, if not entirely, by the assistance of that metaphysical and scientific reason which is the weapon of offence. To grapple fairly with it, and secure a candid judgment, we must fight with equal arms, denying ourselves the use of that celestial armour, which, while impenetrable in reality itself, might render us invulnerable, and, like the divine armour of ancient fiction, might be asserted by our adversaries to render us intangible and invisible also. There is, in reality, no common measure of truth between the Christian philosophers and the scientific sceptics of the day, unless the former lay aside for a while their panoply of religious faith in the discussion. The two parties stand in different and not even intersecting planes, and thus, while vigorously making passes and dealing trenchant blows at each other. they actually do nothing more than fruitlessly beat the air with the savage acrimony and blood-thirsty ardour of theatrical combatants. As our assailants cannot ascend to our level, we must descend to theirs. Moreover, we confess that they have some right to ask this at our hands, for any argument which rests mainly on a Christian or religious basis is, so far as it is a reply to these antagonists, unfair or inoperative. Such an argument is addressed merely to those who already entertain a fixed belief in Christianity, and therefore presupposes without examination the validity and exclusive suficiency of the Christian proof, and by a like prejudgment is conceived to establish the falschood and deception of the antagonistic doctrine. It thus becomes at once an argumentum ad hominem and an argumentum ad verecundiam, and is tainted with the fallacious consequences incident to both. Moreover, it meets with consideration and credence only from those already within the Christian camp, and then not from any appreciation of its real strength, but from its accordance with inherent and unanalyzed convictions, and from repugnance to contradictory views. But it cannot for one moment secure the attention, or invite the candid examination of either the leaders or the partisans of opposing schools, and has no tenacious hold on the large class that may be indifferent to religion, may enjoy its embarrassments, or even discomfiture, and may be inclined by the natural downward tendency to sink into the more terrestrial sphere of the enemies of religion. For these reasons, which have regulated our conduct on former occasions, we have been anxious to eliminate as completely as possible the religious aspects of the controversy, and to leave these to be determined rather by way of inference from the general tenor and results of our reasoning, than by either positive demonstration or implication in its data or development. Let us add, too, for the admission is just and required by candour, that as the validity of the Christian faith is the point ultimately and virtually in issue in the whole discussion, however chary either party may be of stating this as the proposed exitus of the question, it is a grave logical offence, being no less than a petitio principii of the coarsest character, to use the assumption of Christian truth or its demonstration aliunde in any of the preliminary discussions, before the merits of the great pending controversies may be settled on their own distinctive principles, philosophical or scientific. For these reasons we have been willing to meet the assaults of human reason with its own weapons, without hurling back either ecclesiastical censures or theological anathemas.
We firmly believe that, even within the domain of human science and philosophy, all the attacks of the enemies of the Christian religion may be successfully met and repelled, and overwhelming proof may be produced that those attacks spring not from the strength, but from the weakness of human reason; not from the abundance of knowledge, but from its imperfections. Such a defence must, on their own principles, be considered, received, and acknowledged by our adversaries, while we escape the peril and, perhaps. the sacrilege of laying an unhallowed hand upon the ark itself. A victory thus obtained, and entitled to be admitted by our antagonists themselves, must be more satisfactory to all parties than a doubtful triumph, clamorously proclaimed by one and strenuously denied by the other.
ART. IV.-GEOGRAPHICAL AND STATISTICAL SCIENCE.
Bulletin of the American Geographical and Statistical Society. Volume I, Num.
ber 1. Published for the Society by George P. PUTNAM. New York.
It is matter of surprise, if not of reproach, to the intelligence of New-York, that the place should have remained so long vacant in the circle of our literary and scientific institutions which the Society now under consideration proposes to occupy. With the bold spirit of our navigators, vexing every sea, and the flag of our commerce waving in every port of the known world; with our Exploring Expedition at the expense of the government, and our Arctic Expedition, set on foot by private munificence; with our Coast Survey, our National Observatory, and our Smithsonian
FOURTH SERIES, VOL. V.-16
Institution; with our hundred Colleges, and our Military and Naval Academies, and our hundred Foreign Missionaries; with our fifteen Quarterly Reviews, and our scores of Monthly Magazines, and our thousand newspapers, it is only within the present year that the kindred sciences of Geography and Statistics have a National Society and a Bulletin to promote their cultivation and extend the knowledge of their achievements.
Geography is the science of the earth, as the abode of man. Statistics is the science of the life of man developed upon the earth. Such is the comprehensive field which lies before the new Society. Whatever inquiries or discussions, whatever new information or new conclusions, may relate to these subjects or come within these limitsall this knowledge comes fairly within its scope, and may increase the interest of its labours, and the value of its results, and the honour of its future career. The Royal Geographical Society of London is one of the most distinguished in the great circle of scientific associations which enrich and adorn that great metropolis. The Geographical Society of Paris is famous for the variety and the value of its publications. The Imperial Geographical Society of St. Petersburgh, the similar societies in nearly every European capital, the Geographical and Statistical Society of Mexico, ought long ago to have aroused the savans of New-York to the importance of systematic efforts to promote sciences so interesting, and to diffuse knowledge so necessary; but as it may be never too late to do well, we wish to welcome the new Society, and to speak a word of encouragement to its promoters. They have a noble field for their labours; the materials already available are ample, and there are abundant opportunities to extend their inquiries, to gather knowledge in new regions, or to complete the surveys of what is already partially known. And nothing but their own lack of diligence or perseverance, of intelligence or industry, of learning or sagacity, can prevent them from winning their Society a place in the front rank among our public institutions. Witherto, the scientific study of geography among us has been left in a great degree to the compilers of schoolbooks, and that of statistics to the almanac-makers. We trust the new Society will be able to enlist a multitude of inquisitive and cultivated minds in the cultivation of branches of knowledge, whose value, we regret to say, is still but imperfectly appreciated in our country. Indeed, we may say that we know not of any sciences, of equal interest and value, which have been so little cultivated among us.
Geography is the science of the homes of all mankind; and statistics is the science of the mode and means of human life, and its results. The cultivation of these sciences is essential to the consummation of human brotherhood. We meet men in the street and in the market-place, and we know them as human beings; but we can hardly recognise them as acquaintances, or esteem them as friends, unless we have seen them at home, and know where and how they live—their geography and statistics. The same is true of nations. It is wonderful to consider how different an interest we feel in the case of those nations with whose country and habits we are tolerably familiar, as England or France, and those of which we know but very little, as Japan or Madagascar.
We have all learned something of geography in our school-days, but we find in after life that this knowledge is extremely superficial. Let any country become, for the time, as nearly every known country in fact becomes in its turn the theatre of important events, and we soon find how superficially we understand the details of its geography. We then need new helps to make our knowledge of its topography and other geographical incidents specific and available for the understanding of passing events.
It is generally supposed that the period of geographical discovery is past, and that the geography of the world is all settled. But this is not so. There are large portions of the earth that are yet wholly unknown and unvisited by civilized men, as the interior of the continents of Africa and New Holland; and considerable portions of the great islands of the East, as well as parts of both Americas. How many important discoveries in geography have been made within the last twenty years? And who shall solve the riddle of the North-West Passage, or of the sources of the Nile?
But without dwelling on this view, there is yet a vast work for geography to do, in making our acquaintance with countries accurate and familiar. Let it be borne in mind that the running of the boundary line between the territories of the United States and Mexico has been rendered totally impossible by a blunder in the treaty, based on a blunder in what was supposed by the negotiators to be the most authentic map extant. Even our own Empire State has never been surveyed, or measured, or mapped, with any reliable accuracy. A topographical map of New York, grounded on a trigonometrical survey and measurement, is a great desideratum. We may venture to affirm that no skill or study, with plots and field-books, would suffice to lay down all the farms in the State according to their recorded boundaries; but the titles would be found to overlap here and there, making fat jobs for the lawyers in carrying forward that most ruinous species of litigation which concerns the boundaries of estates. A thorough survey and a