Изображения страниц

stand and nothing, as there probably is between the slowest visible and the slowest possible vibration of the æther.

This inability to attribute substance to space and time shows that the action of the understanding is not arbitrary; otherwise we could attribute what we choose to any idea; and so, indeed, we can at first, as the ancients attributed substance, power, even personality, to these very conceptions of space and time. But in process of time we come to abstract, and at last to know exactly how much of the spiritual forms of the understanding we are to attribute to each idea. We can by an act of will, poetically, superstitiously, or magically, attribute power, knowledge, and will, even to a stone; but no act of the will can make us deny power, knowledge, and will, to the human soul, or to endow it with a merely passive existence. The quantity of the original attribution is a blind and arbitrary act, but the succeeding abstraction proceeds on rules, and the residuum of the attributed quantity is in a certain sense necessarily true; it is absurd (not logically irrational) to deny existence to stones, vegetative life to trees, force to things in motion, sensations and passions to animals, intellect and will to men.

Now we do not see how, unless man has passive existence in some respect similar to that of the stone, he could attribute it to the stone; nor unless he had vegetative life as a tree has, he could attribute it to the tree; if he had not force, a power of origination, like a moving mass, he could not attribute force to it, nor sensation to beasts, except he possessed it, nor intellect and will to his fellow-men, unless he had them to attribute. He has, then, a certain community or analogy of nature with all those things to which he can attribute the forms of his own understanding; and in this sense we may admit the old axiom, "That which knows is the thing known," which thus harmonises with Kant's axiom, "We can know nothing of things but what we place in them ourselves." Hence, we may observe in passing, our inability to attribute force or substance to pure space or time shows not their nonexistence, but their want of community of relationship with our spiritual nature; our soul is neither extended in space nor successive in time; extension and succession, though necessary for the manifestation of its acts, are quite foreign from its substance.

In this, matter differs from souls: matter is conceived to exist in space; spirit, or soul, independently of space. Hence we are forced to attribute a double nature to matter, as phenomenon and as substance: as substance, we reduce it to a spiritual force; as phenomenon, to nothing.

Take matter as phenomenon: it is extended, therefore divisible; and divisible even to points, which have no magnitude, and are consequently nothing: but no multiplication of nothing can make something; we cannot by adding point to point generate matter; not even a line is composed of points, it is generated by the motion of a point. This motion is a force which resides in the moving point; matter, therefore, is a congeries of nothings, which are the centres of forces; the nothings vanish, the forces remain as the substance. The forces are not pure space or extension; the extension belongs to the mathematical lines and surfaces, and points, which are nothing. Matter, then, as we conceive it, consists of phenomenon in space, to which we cannot attribute substance; and of an unextended substance or force, which we are obliged to take as the fundamental reality of things.

Here, then, is the point on which magic takes its stand. We are obliged to assume for matter a substance without extension; to suppose that it is not essential to reality that there should be a proportion between volume and mass; that mass, volume, and all other phenomena, may be changed while the substance still remains; further, that this substance is a power identical with the power which we are conscious of possessing; a purely spiritual idea, furnished by the understanding, and quite independent of all the determinations of the logical part of the mind. Man, while he affirms for the objects of the senses and for space and time a certain unintelligible reality of their own in space and time, is obliged also to assume as the ultimate substratum and support of this unknown existence an actuality or substance similar to that of his own soul, and independent of space and time.

Have we, then, come back to the affirmation of Heraclitus, that man and the elements are similar in nature? Not at all. We cannot say that the community of our nature with the substance of matter is a community of identity, but only of analogy; matter has a substance not identical with, nor of the same nature as the substance of our souls, but only analogous to it. The substance of matter is not, as far as it goes, the same as the substance of the soul; the soul is not merely matter and something more, but a substance quite different from matter, only possessing a more or less remote similarity. Therefore the soul knows nothing of the real substance of matter. All that we can conclude is, that between the two substances there is some analogy, which enables the former to understand the latter in some degree, not as it is in itself, but in reflection and enigma. This is the nature of man; naturally he can understand no more than the analogies of his

own powers are capable of representing to him; he possesses no essence but his own, and is capable by nature of controlling no substance but his own. Therefore the pretence of magical power being a natural prerogative of the mind is quite false.

All real magical effects that have ever taken place are therefore supernatural. We deny only to the human mind control over external matter. There may be other spirits which can control any given matter by mere volition, as we control our bodies; all that we know is, that we cannot,—that human spirits in their natural state cannot do so. Whatever power of this kind any man ever possessed was not natural but supernatural; not his own, but impetrative; he must have been aided by God or His angels; or else, by the permission of God, he must have made use of the assistance of evil spirits. This is the old Christian estimation of magic, and in our opinion it is the only philosophical one. Of course, a great many acts, supposed to be magical, have been simply natural; and no doubt magnetism, so far as it is a reality, has been made use of in magic. We deny, however, that magnetism is any real representation of the ancient magic as a whole; its pretensions are not the same, nor is it founded on the same metaphysical misapprehension. We have attempted in these two papers (in which we fear, through an attempt to be brief, we have incurred the risk of obscurity) to show the ground of the misapprehension; how the ancient systems of metaphysics went even so far as to affirm magic, while the third system which we have adopted explains the origin of the error, but at the same time refutes it. The true answer to magical pretence is this: man's knowledge of the essences of things is symbolical, not real; he interprets nature, without having any intuition of its substance. His knowledge is secondhand, in symbol and sign; and his power is secondhand also, through his bodily organs, not directly by mere act of volition. To claim more than this is a blasphemous assumption of a share in the Divine prerogatives of the Creator.



1. The Clifton Tales. Vols. I. and II. Burns and Lambert. 2. Stumpingford; a Tale of the Protestant Alliance. Rich


SOME little time ago* we welcomed the first number of this interesting series of Clifton Tales, as full of promise for what was to follow. We have now to discharge the agreeable duty of assuring our readers that our augury has been fully justified, and that the first two volumes of the series, which are now complete, are well worth purchasing and adding to their lending-libraries. These tales are chiefly designed for the humbler classes of society; their scenes are laid principally in the poor man's home; the company you meet consists of small tradesmen and domestic servants. Some of these are living under the influence of the Catholic faith; some are groping their way towards it amidst a maze of ignorance and prejudice. An opportunity is thus afforded of exhibiting (1) the practical bearing of Catholic principles on the daily necessities and trials of humble life; and (2) some of the plain and easily-comprehended reasoning that conducts an honest inquirer from doubt and uncertainty regarding religion to the happy certainty of faith. Thus a humble Catholic, into whose hands this series may fall, may derive help and encouragement from the simple portraits he will there find of persons in his own way of life," toiling, rejoicing, sorrowing," trusting to the strength of the Sacraments, hoping for better things to come; and a sincere inquirer of the same class may find answers to many of his doubts, a solution of many of his difficulties, in the plain, honest controversy which now and then springs up in the course of these narrations.

Where there is so much excellence in all of them, it seems invidious to assign the palm of merit to any one in particular; yet they are by no means equal in the same kind of excellence. Of Rich and Poor, for instance, we should say, that though a pretty-enough story, it lies too much in the drawing-room and in "good society;" there is too much about "the mysterious galaxy of jewels," and lapis-lazuli beads, &c., for the class of persons aimed at in its composition. And of Lucy Ward we are bound to say that it is full of sweetness and beauty, but far beyond the reach of most Catholics of any class; its mystic experiences will not wear well, we fear, in * Rambler, June 1853.



the cottage or the servants' hall, and will not attract the inquiring Protestant. On one point we beg leave to enter our protest very decidedly. Any one who undertakes to explain the ceremonies of the Mass, or any other part of Catholic worship, ought first to be very sure that he fully understands them himself. Now (at p. 51) the author of this story, by way of explaining the carefulness of the priest in putting only a drop or two of water into the chalice at the offertory, says that he puts it in with a little spoon. It happens that this practice is expressly forbidden by the Congregation of Rites.* It is a relic of French rigidism and scrupulosity, more honoured in the breach than the observance.

In our opinion, Winifride Jones stands very high indeed in the order of merit among these little tales. It has the advantage of possessing more story in it; it gives a fuller portraiture of its characters than most of the others; its picture of "the very ignorant girl," who knew more of duty than most people about her, is admirable, and full of practical usefulness. We think we can detect in its analysis of character and motives, in its pure, limpid style, the hand of an accomplished authoress, already high in estimation among us. Of Joe Baker we have already recorded our favourable opinion; and we must say, with perfect impartiality, that taking into account the object and intention of these tales, there are none of them which fulfil these so well as the three, Bad Words, Well known to the Police, and James Chapman, which we happen to know are due to the same pen as our old favourite, Joe Baker. Their style, indeed, is not so polished as that of Winifride Jones; but there is a strong, roughhewn, English middle-class sense and vigour about them, and especially in their dialogue, of which we want more examples, and which high finish is almost sure to deteriorate a little. They bear the stamp of portraits from life, made by one who has studied our peasantry and its character in its cottagehomes, who recognises common interests and sympathies in the humblest, who has found a way to the fountains of tenderness and feeling in the hearts of poor children. children. Amidst the stony places of controversial dialogue in these three tales, the reader comes suddenly upon a touch of simplicity or of childish grace, which makes the involuntary tear start to his eye. Altogether, we are disposed to place Well known to the Police at the head of the whole; though, indeed, James Chapman merits that distinction almost as well.

The nature of these little tales is such, that an extract from them here or there would give as imperfect an idea of their * Sept. 7, 1850. See Dale's Ceremonial according to the Roman Rite, p. 296.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »