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The first English Gazette published at Oxford in 1665.
The last person who suffered death by the Inquisition was a woman burnt today at Seville in 1781.
Psyche.—“We have alluded, November 2d, to an absurd doctrine maintained by some modern sceptics, that the Universe is merely matter in motion, and that certain modifications of matter are from time to time formed and organized by the operation of the eternal laws of Nature of such a subtile and fine material as to become percipient, and to live as identical beings. To set about the refutation of a doctrine so absurd as this would be a waste of time, since those who maintain it are quite inapproachable by argument, and those who think otherwise, will always condemn such a doctrine, as dangerous from its atheistical tendency, and from its lessening the probability of future life. But we may with advantage strengthen the probability of the opposite hypothesis, by placing the arguments in favour of the distinct nature of the three principles of which man is said to be composed in a clear point of view, and of showing that the doctrine of Body, Life, and Soul, regarded as essentially different things, though closely united, is one which modern physiology cannot weaken, and which has received the sanction of every age, and of the most thinking people in the world.
“ After the discoveries of Reil, Gall and Spurzheim, and the metaphysical anatomists, when it had been clearly shown that every Idea emanated from a corresponding motion of some part of the Brain, it was feared by some, and hoped by others, that a discovery had been made which would annul the doctrine of future life, by showing the necessity of the nervous and material parts of the Body to Vitality, and to Perception. For the spectral hallucinations of Visions and Dreams, which had been brought forward as proofs that the soul could act without the body, were now clearly shown to arise from the spontaneous actions of the same cerebral Organs which, in our waking hours, had enabled us to see, hear, and feel external Objects present to the senses, by acting in obedience to their respective stimuli. But those who thus hastily tried to destroy the consolidated opinion of antiquity by a hasty deduction from their own physiological discoveries, forgot one material circumstance of indispensable importance to our inquiry That though recollected as well as perceived Images take place in the corporeal Sensorium, there is yet wanting, in order to have Reality, something ulterior which should perceive them. And this ulterior thing is the Mind. To suppose otherwise would be to make the
brain itself the percipient instead of being the medium between the percipient and the objects perceived. Phrenology, by pointing out different organs in the brain wherein different perceptions and feelings take place, has certainly added a further confirmation to the opinion of anatomists, that the brain is the necessary instrument of thoughts, perceptions, and feelings; but it has, at the same time, further demonstrated the absurdity of supposing that the brain itself thinks, perceives, or feels : for if this were the case there would, according to recent discoveries, be as many percipient beings in one man's head as there were organs of his brain, since each organ has its distinct and separate functions, colour being perceived in one, figure in another, sounds in a third, and so on : and a man would not be an individual. Again : the organs are wasted and repaired by the vital actions, like all other corporeal parts; so that not only his individuality, but his personal identity, would be gradually suffering annihilation, according to the sophistical doctrines of these atomical philosophers. On the other hand, the doctrine of a separate mind united, however mysteriously, to the bodily fabric by means of the vital principle, is not only reconcileable to the proofs we have that organic actions are necessary to perception, but is absolutely necessary in order to enable us to reconcile our individual and personal identity, of which we are perpetually conscious, with the plurality and mutable nature of the organs, by means of which we are made acquainted with the external world in its various relations; by means of which we recollect, and are enabled to modify, recombine, and compare outward impressions for useful purposes; and over which we exercise a certain voluntary controul, which no physiologists have been able to assign to any organ, or to explain otherwise than by saying that it emanated
directly from the mind. “ The opinions of the materialists have of late been strengthened by the opposition they have met with from false arguments, which always hurt the best cause. Certain theological writers tried to ground the separate nature of the mind on dreams, forgetting that dreams are formed of our waking perceptions, which are, as it were, their prototypes, and that they take place in the organization. If the theologians, instead of saying that the soul acted by itself in dreams, had said that in dreams the mind perceived the spontaneous or recollected images of our waking thoughts, they would have said right, and avoided confutation from the physiologist. The very surprise we feel in dreams at the unexpected phantoms which the organs present to us, show that our own minds do not produce those
images; for the mind may contemplate with pleasure, but it cannot feel surprised at its own phenomena, nor startle at the obtrusion of a spectre of its own production. The philosophy of Kant approaches nearest to that which results as the genuine deduction from phrenology.
"But though we are perceptive beings here, by a distinct mind, the question remains undecided, whether it be of that eternal nature, outliving the body, as would justify our calling it a soul, according to the received interpretation of that word. In the solution of this question it may be observed, that in spite of all the difficulties which the consideration of the chain of inferior animals and of monstrosities place in our way, the notion of a future life, independent of the instruction derived from the Scriptures, is more reconcileable to reason than the opposite opinion. The whole of the universe is a mystery, and when we puzzle ourselves about the first Cause, infinity of Space, eternity of Time, and the ultimate end of things, we should recollect, now that the limits of our knowledge are made known by phrenology, that we cannot expect to ken the whole scope, origin, and laws of an immeasurable universe, of which we perceive only a few phenomena, and those only as they stand in relation to ourselves by means of a limited organization.
“ But, as it is contrary to all experience to suppose that any power can create another greater than itself, so we must admit a potency somewhere greater than the human mind, since we did not create ourselves. Now, as the simplest idea of this power is unity, we arrive at once at the notion of one creative Cause: and since that Cause must contain all the sentiments imputed to the human mind, in conformity to this opinion, the attributes of Benevolence, Mercy, and those noble feelings of equal Justice, which we are conscious of, cannot but be parts of his mind.
“While we remain impressed with these opinions of the Deity, and it will be shown that it is our nature to be so impressed, it cannot but occur to us, that there is no other way of reconciling omnipotence with omnibeneficence, than by admitting a state of retributive justice in another world for the injuries and wrongs which the virtuous sustain in this. Whether the memory be that dread book of account, and our relations with this world be intended to furnish the materials of our future existence; whether another body will be added to the identical mind, or how, when, and where posthumous perceptions are to be granted, it is futile to inquire; much less need we occupy ourselves with the particular means by which it may all be brought about;
but it is not an irrational idea for a philosopher to entertain, that a Deity of infinite power should exert it in an infinite variety of ways, since endless change and variety seem to pervade nature. If, therefore, endless variety in the mode of training percipient beings up for a state of ultimate happiness be the perpetual work of the Creator, unceasingly active over all the orbs which float for ever in infinite space innumerable and without likeness to each other, then Christian discipline may, for any thing we know, be that mode which he has adopted for this earth; and what appears to us incongruous in the arrangement of things from a limited perception of parts of the world, may be reviewed as consistent, by a power that created and that regulates the whole in harmony. Under some modification or other, every nation believes in a deity; the Jews had the most concise notions, but Plato, Socrates, and a host of philosophers, with whom modern physiologists bear but a humiliating comparison, held the doctrine of Body, Life, and Soul as distinct essences caused by a creative Divinity. Then does the opinion of Antiquity sanction what the feelings of good, and the reflections of discerning men naturally suggest, and which physiology rather illustrates than de stroys — that elevating notion of a moral as well as a physical nature in man, which consoles him in affliction, encourages his natural hopes, reconciles the conflicting miseries of the world to his benevolence, and confers a colouring of probability on the notion of a mysterious and supernatural power, which obtrudes itself on our notice in spite of every endeavour to avoid it. And thus, as every organ must have an object, and as we have a natural faculty of theosophy, may Religion be confirmed and found true; when it shall appear as was anciently written, that it is the Fool, and not the philosopher, who hath said in his heart that there is no God.” S.P.N.
We have given place to the above Essay, as it tends to confute the idea of some writers, that Philosophy and Nature are at variance with Catholic faith ; but we insist, at the same time, on the miraculous and historical proofs as constituting the legitimate evidence of its truth. It has, however, been a practice of late, to write treatises to prove the conformability of Christianity and the doctrine of a future state of just and merited retribution, with newly discovered facts and with natural hypotheses; of which many brilliant instances may be found in the works of Abernethy, of Gall and Spurzheim, and of the Phrenological Society of Edinburgh.
After reading the above, we beg leave to refer to what
one of our contributors has said of the Quakers, November 13; also to October 2 and 20, and November 2, and to the word Soul in our Index. See Virgil Aen. vi. 727.
November 8. The Four crowned Brothers Martyrs.
St. Willehad Bishop and Confessor. St. Godfrey
TEMPUS.--Some editions of the Roman Calendar record today the rising of the Scorpion, but as it is not the exact time, and is not to be found in other editions, we omit it as a regular notice.
COELUM.-The weather about this time is mostly either mild, with calm southerly and westerly winds, and constant dripping of small rain, or else the air is enveloped in fogs, a circumstance about London, and in marshy and low countries, but too common in this month. From the vapours caused by the fall of the leaf, and the decline of temperature, it seldom occurs that we enjoy a fine clear atmosphere at this period.
HYGEIA.-We have observed that coughs are as common in this as in any month of Winter, and perhaps more so. Colds of all kinds are very prevalent in general, and seem to constitute a sort of obscure epidemic: they occur also in the early Spring, and more sparingly at other times of the year, but are now more particularly prevalent and general. Warm clothing should be resorted to, particularly the wearing of worsted stockings, and of flannel or some other woollen clothes next to the skin. We believe the habit of smoking tobacco to be also a salutary practice, and to be capable of protecting the close cottages of the poor against many epidemical disorders. But the pleasure of a pipe is not confined to those who fear the incursion of diseases. It constitutes, to those who are fond of it, one of the greatest luxuries of a Winter fireside; and it has been questioned among smokers, whether the luxury of a long Turkey pipe under the cooling shade of trees, in the heat of the Dogdays, be greater than that of a snug merschaum pipe, when, in an old fashioned chimney corner, we sit and feel comfortably defended from the nipping frost at midwinter. In this gloomy month it is particularly delightful, though we by no means recommend carrying smoking to that extravagant excess to which it is now the fashion to carry it. It is too often in high northern latitudes accompanied by strong drinks, than which even the opium eating of the Eastern nations is not more pernicious.