[Vol. 1, Page 73]
"The mirror of the soul cannot reflect both earth and heaven;
and the one vanishes from its surface, as the other is glassed
upon its deep." ZANONI.
"Qui, donc, t'a donne la mission d'annoncer au peuple que
la Divinite n'existe pas -- quel avantage trouves tu a persuader
a l'homme qu'une force aveugle preside a ses destinees et frappe
au hasard le crime et la vertu?"
ROBESPIERRE (Discours), May 7, 1794.
WE believe that few of those physical phenomena which are genuine are caused by disembodied human spirits. Still, even those that are produced by occult forces of nature, such as happen through a few genuine mediums, and are consciously employed by the so-called "jugglers" of India and Egypt, deserve a careful and serious investigation by science; especially now that a number of respected authorities have testified that in many cases the hypothesis of fraud does not hold. No doubt, there are professed "conjurors" who can perform cleverer tricks than all the American and English "John Kings" together. Robert Houdin unquestionably could, but this did not prevent his laughing outright in the face of the academicians, when they desired him to assert in the newspapers, that he could make a table move, or rap answers to questions, without contact of hands, unless the table was a prepared one.* The fact alone, that a now notorious London juggler refused to accept a challenge for £1,000 offered him by Mr. Algernon Joy,* to produce such manifestations as are usually obtained through mediums, unless he was left unbound and free from the hands of a committee, negatives his expose of the occult phenomena. Clever as he may be, we defy and challenge him to reproduce, under the same conditions, the "tricks" exhibited even by a common Indian juggler. For instance, the spot to be chosen by the investigators at the moment of the performance, and the juggler to know nothing of the choice; the experiment to be made in broad daylight, without the least preparations for it; without any confederate but a boy absolutely naked, and the juggler to be in a condition of semi-nudity. After that, we should select out of a variety three tricks, the most common among such public jugglers, and that were recently exhibited to some gentlemen belonging to
* See de Mirville's "Question des Esprits," and the works on the "Phenomenes Spirites," by de Gasparin.
** Honorary Secretary to the National Association of Spiritualists of London.
the suite of the Prince of Wales: 1. To transform a rupee -- firmly clasped in the hand of a skeptic -- into a living cobra, the bite of which would prove fatal, as an examination of its fangs would show. 2. To cause a seed chosen at random by the spectators, and planted in the first semblance of a flower-pot, furnished by the same skeptics, to grow, mature, and bear fruit in less than a quarter of an hour. 3. To stretch himself on three swords, stuck perpendicularly in the ground at their hilts, the sharp points upward; after that, to have removed first one of the swords, then the other, and, after an interval of a few seconds, the last one, the juggler remaining, finally, lying on nothing -- on the air, miraculously suspended at about one yard from the ground. When any prestidigitateur, to begin with Houdin and end with the last trickster who has secured gratuitous advertisement by attacking spiritualism, does the same, then -- but only then -- we will train ourselves to believe that mankind has been evolved out of the hind-toe of Mr. Huxley's Eocene Orohippus.
We assert again, in full confidence, that there does not exist a professional wizard, either of the North, South or West, who can compete with anything approaching success, with these untutored, naked sons of the East. These require no Egyptian Hall for their performances, nor any preparations or rehearsals; but are ever ready, at a moment's notice, to evoke to their help the hidden powers of nature, which, for European prestidigitateurs as well as for scientists, are a closed book. Verily, as Elihu puts it, "great men are not always wise; neither do the aged understand judgment."* To repeat the remark of the English divine, Dr. Henry More, we may well say: ". . . indeed, if there were any modesty left in mankind, the histories of the Bible might abundantly assure men of the existence of angels and spirits." The same eminent man adds, "I look upon it as a special piece of Providence that . . . fresh examples of apparitions may awaken our benumbed and lethargic minds into an assurance that there are other intelligent beings besides those that are clothed in heavy earth or clay . . . for this evidence, showing that there are bad spirits, will necessarily open a door to the belief that there are good ones, and lastly, that there is a God." The instance above given carries a moral with it, not only to scientists, but theologians. Men who have made their mark in the pulpit and in professors' chairs, are continually showing the lay public that they really know so little of psychology, as to take up with any plausible schemer who comes their way, and so make themselves ridiculous in the eyes of the thoughtful student. Public opinion upon this subject has been manufactured by jugglers and self-styled savants, unworthy of respectful consideration.
The development of psychological science has been retarded far more by the ridicule of this class of pretenders, than by the inherent difficulties of its study. The empty laugh of the scientific nursling or of the fools of fashion, has done more to keep man ignorant of his imperial psychical powers, than the obscurities, the obstacles and the dangers that cluster about the subject. This is especially the case with spiritualistic phenomena. That their investigation has been so largely confined to incapables, is due to the fact that men of science, who might and would have studied them, have been frightened off by the boasted exposures, the paltry jokes, and the impertinent clamor of those who are not worthy to tie their shoes. There are moral cowards even in university chairs. The inherent vitality of modern spiritualism is proven in its survival of the neglect of the scientific body, and of the obstreperous boasting of its pretended exposers. If we begin with the contemptuous sneers of the patriarchs of science, such as Faraday and Brewster, and end with the professional (?) exposes of the successful mimicker of the phenomena, ----, of London, we will not find them furnishing one single, well-established argument against the occurrence of spiritual manifestations. "My theory is," says this individual, in his recent soi-disant "expose," "that Mr. Williams dressed up and personified John King and Peter. Nobody can prove that it wasn't so." Thus it appears that, notwithstanding the bold tone of assertion, it is but a theory after all, and spiritualists might well retort upon the exposer, and demand that he should prove that it is so.
But the most inveterate, uncompromising enemies of Spiritualism are a class very fortunately composed of but few members, who, nevertheless, declaim the louder and assert their views with a clamorousness worthy of a better cause. These are the pretenders to science of young America -- a mongrel class of pseudo-philosophers, mentioned at the opening of this chapter, with sometimes no better right to be regarded as scholars than the possession of an electrical machine, or the delivery of a puerile lecture on insanity and mediomania. Such men are -- if you believe them -- profound thinkers and physiologists; there is none of your metaphysical nonsense about them; they are Positivists -- the mental sucklings of Auguste Comte, whose bosoms swell at the thought of plucking deluded humanity from the dark abyss of superstition, and rebuilding the cosmos on improved principles. Irascible psychophobists, no more cutting insult can be offered them than to suggest that they may be endowed with immortal spirits. To hear them, one would fancy that there can be no other souls in men and women than "scientific" or "unscientific souls"; whatever that kind of soul may be.*
* See Dr. F. R. Marvin's "Lectures on Mediomania and Insanity."
Some thirty or forty years ago, in France, Auguste Comte -- a pupil of the Ecole Polytechnique, who had remained for years at that establishment as a repetiteur of Transcendant Analysis and Rationalistic Mechanics -- awoke one fine morning with the very irrational idea of becoming a prophet. In America, prophets can be met with at every street-corner; in Europe, they are as rare as black swans. But France is the land of novelties. Auguste Comte became a prophet; and so infectious is fashion, sometimes, that even in sober England he was considered, for a certain time, the Newton of the nineteenth century.
The epidemic extended, and for the time being, it spread like wildfire over Germany, England, and America. It found adepts in France, but the excitement did not last long with these. The prophet needed money: the disciples were unwilling to furnish it. The fever of admiration for a religion without a God cooled off as quickly as it had come on; of all the enthusiastic apostles of the prophet, there remained but one worthy of any attention. It was the famous philologist Littre, a member of the French Institute, and a would-be member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, but whom the archbishop of Orleans maliciously prevented from becoming one of the "Immortals."*
The philosopher-mathematician -- the high-priest of the "religion of the future" -- taught his doctrine as do all his brother-prophets of our modern days. He deified "woman," and furnished her with an altar; but the goddess had to pay for its use. The rationalists had laughed at the mental aberration of Fourier; they had laughed at the St. Simonists; and their scorn for Spiritualism knew no bounds. The same rationalists and materialists were caught, like so many empty-headed sparrows, by the bird-lime of the new prophet's rhetoric. A longing for some kind of divinity, a craving for the "unknown," is a feeling congenital in man; hence the worst atheists seem not to be exempt from it. Deceived by the outward brilliancy of this ignus fatuus, the disciples followed it until they found themselves floundering in a bottomless morass.
Covering themselves with the mask of a pretended erudition, the Positivists of this country have organized themselves into clubs and committees with the design of uprooting Spiritualism, while pretending to impartially investigate it.
Too timid to openly challenge the churches and the Christian doctrine, they endeavor to sap that upon which all religion is based -- man's faith in God and his own immortality. Their policy is to ridicule that which affords an unusual basis for such a faith -- phenomenal Spiritualism.
* Vapereau: "Biographie Contemporaine," art. Littre; and Des Mousseaux: "Les Hauts Phenomenes de la Magie," ch. 6.
Attacking it at its weakest side, they make the most of its lack of an inductive method, and of the exaggerations that are to be found in the transcendental doctrines of its propagandists. Taking advantage of its unpopularity, and displaying a courage as furious and out of place as that of the errant knight of La Mancha, they claim recognition as philanthropists and benefactors who would crush out a monstrous superstition.
Let us see in what degree Comte's boasted religion of the future is superior to Spiritualism, and how much less likely its advocates are to need the refuge of those lunatic asylums which they officiously recommend for the mediums whom they have been so solicitous about. Before beginning, let us call attention to the fact that three-fourths of the disgraceful features exhibited in modern Spiritualism are directly traceable to the materialistic adventurers pretending to be spiritualists. Comte has fulsomely depicted the "artificially-fecundated" woman of the future. She is but elder sister to the Cyprian ideal of the free-lovers. The immunity against the future offered by the teachings of his moonstruck disciples, has inoculated some pseudo-spiritualists to such an extent as to lead them to form communistic associations. None, however, have proved long-lived. Their leading feature being generally a materialistic animalism, gilded over with a thin leaf of Dutch-metal philosophy and tricked out with a combination of hard Greek names, the community could not prove anything else than a failure.
Plato, in the fifth book of the Republic, suggests a method for improving the human race by the elimination of the unhealthy or deformed individuals, and by coupling the better specimens of both sexes. It was not to be expected that the "genius of our century," even were he a prophet, would squeeze out of his brain anything entirely new.
Comte was a mathematician. Cleverly combining several old utopias, he colored the whole, and, improving on Plato's idea, materialized it, and presented the world with the greatest monstrosity that ever emanated from a human mind!
We beg the reader to keep in view, that we do not attack Comte as a philosopher, but as a professed reformer. In the irremediable darkness of his political, philosophical and religious views, we often meet with isolated observations and remarks in which profound logic and judiciousness of thought rival the brilliancy of their interpretation. But then, these dazzle you like flashes of lightning on a gloomy night, to leave you, the next moment, more in the dark than ever. If condensed and repunctuated, his several works might produce, on the whole, a volume of very original aphorisms, giving a very clear and really clever definition of most of our social evils; but it would be vain to seek, either through the tedious circumlocution of the six volumes of his Cours de Philoso-
phie Positive, or in that parody on priesthood, in the form of a dialogue -- The Catechism of the Religion of Positivism -- any idea suggestive of even provisional remedies for such evils. His disciples suggest that the sublime doctrines of their prophet were not intended for the vulgar. Comparing the dogmas preached by Positivism with their practical exemplifications by its apostles, we must confess the possibility of some very achromatic doctrine being at the bottom of it. While the "high-priest" preaches that "woman must cease to be the female of the man";* while the theory of the positivist legislators on marriage and the family, chiefly consists in making the woman the "mere companion of man by ridding her of every maternal function";** and while they are preparing against the future a substitute for that function by applying "to the chaste woman" "a latent force,"*** some of its lay priests openly preach polygamy, and others affirm that their doctrines are the quintessence of spiritual philosophy.
In the opinion of the Romish clergy, who labor under a chronic nightmare of the devil, Comte offers his "woman of the future" to the possession of the "incubi."**** In the opinion of more prosaic persons, the Divinity of Positivism, must henceforth be regarded as a biped broodmare. Even Littre, made prudent restrictions while accepting the apostleship of this marvellous religion. This is what he wrote in 1859:
"M. Comte not only thought that he found the principles, traced the outlines, and furnished the method, but that he had deduced the consequences and constructed the social and religious edifice of the future. It is in this second division that we make our reservations, declaring, at the same time, that we accept as an inheritance, the whole of the first."*****
Further, he says: "M. Comte, in a grand work entitled the System of the Positive Philosophy, established the basis of a philosophy [?] which must finally supplant every theology and the whole of metaphysics. Such a work necessarily contains a direct application to the government of societies; as it has nothing arbitrary in it [?] and as we find therein a real science [?], my adhesion to the principles involves my adhesion to the essential consequences."
M. Littre has shown himself in the light of a true son of his prophet. Indeed the whole system of Comte appears to us to have been built on a play of words. When they say "Positivism," read Nihilism; when you hear the word chastity, know that it means impudicity; and so on.
* A. Comte: "Systeme de Politique Positive," vol. i., p. 203, etc.
**** See des Mousseaux: "Hauts Phenomenes de la Magie," chap. 6.
***** Littre: "Paroles de Philosophie Positive."
Being a religion based on a theory of negation, its adherents can hardly carry it out practically without saying white when meaning black!
"Positive Philosophy," continues Littre, "does not accept atheism, for the atheist is not a really-emancipated mind, but is, in his own way, a theologian still; he gives his explanation about the essence of things; he knows how they began! . . . Atheism is Pantheism; this system is quite theological yet, and thus belongs to the ancient party."*
It really would be losing time to quote any more of these paradoxical dissertations. Comte attained to the apotheosis of absurdity and inconsistency when, after inventing his philosophy, he named it a "Religion." And, as is usually the case, the disciples have surpassed the reformer -- in absurdity. Supposititious philosophers, who shine in the American academies of Comte, like a lampyris noctiluca beside a planet, leave us in no doubt as to their belief, and contrast "that system of thought and life" elaborated by the French apostle with the "idiocy" of Spiritualism; of course to the advantage of the former. "To destroy, you must replace"; exclaims the author of the Catechism of the Religion of Positivism, quoting Cassaudiere, by the way, without crediting him with the thought; and his disciples proceed to show by what sort of a loathsome system they are anxious to replace Christianity, Spiritualism, and even Science.
"Positivism," perorates one of them, "is an integral doctrine. It rejects completely all forms of theological and metaphysical belief; all forms of supernaturalism, and thus -- Spiritualism. The true positive spirit consists in substituting the study of the invariable laws of phenomena for that of their so-called causes, whether proximate or primary. On this ground it equally rejects atheism; for the atheist is at bottom a theologian," he adds, plagiarizing sentences from Littre's works: "the atheist does not reject the problems of theology, only the solution of these, and so he is illogical. We Positivists reject the problem in our turn on the ground that it is utterly inaccessible to the intellect, and we would only waste our strength in a vain search for first and final causes. As you see, Positivism gives a complete explanation [?] of the world, of man, his duty and destiny . . . . "!**
Very brilliant this; and now, by way of contrast, we will quote what a really great scientist, Professor Hare, thinks of this system. "Comte's positive philosophy," he says, "after all, is merely negative. It is admitted by Comte, that he knows nothing of the sources and causes of nature's laws; that their origination is so perfectly inscrutable as to make it idle to
* Littre: "Paroles de Philosophie Positive," vii., 57.
** "Spiritualism and Charlatanism."
take up time in any scrutiny for that purpose. . . . Of course his doctrine makes him avowedly a thorough ignoramus, as to the causes of laws, or the means by which they are established, and can have no basis but the negative argument above stated, in objecting to the facts ascertained in relation to the spiritual creation. Thus, while allowing the atheist his material dominion, Spiritualism will erect within and above the same space a dominion of an importance as much greater as eternity is to the average duration of human life, and as the boundless regions of the fixed stars are to the habitable area of this globe."*
In short, Positivism proposes to itself to destroy Theology, Metaphysics, Spiritualism, Atheism, Materialism, Pantheism, and Science, and it must finally end in destroying itself. De Mirville thinks that according to Positivism, "order will begin to reign in the human mind only on the day when psychology will become a sort of cerebral physics, and history a kind of social physics." The modern Mohammed first disburdens man and woman of God and their own soul, and then unwittingly disembowels his own doctrine with the too sharp sword of metaphysics, which all the time he thought he was avoiding, thus letting out every vestige of philosophy.
In 1864, M. Paul Janet, a member of the Institute, pronounced a discourse upon Positivism, in which occur the following remarkable words:
"There are some minds which were brought up and fed on exact and positive sciences, but which feel nevertheless, a sort of instinctive impulse for philosophy. They can satisfy this instinct but with elements that they have already on hand. Ignorant in psychological sciences, having studied only the rudiments of metaphysics, they nevertheless are determined to fight these same metaphysics as well as psychology, of which they know as little as of the other. After this is done, they will imagine themselves to have founded a Positive Science, while the truth is that they have only built up a new mutilated and incomplete metaphysical theory. They arrogate to themselves the authority and infallibility properly belonging alone to the true sciences, those which are based on experience and calculations; but they lack such an authority, for their ideas, defective as they may be, nevertheless belong to the same class as those which they attack. Hence the weakness of their situation, the final ruin of their ideas, which are soon scattered to the four winds."**
The Positivists of America have joined hands in their untiring efforts to overthrow Spiritualism. To show their impartiality, though, they propound such novel queries as follows: " . . . how much rationality is
* Prof. Hare: "On Positivism," p. 29.
** "Journal des Debats," 1864. See also des Mousseaux's "Hauts Phen. de la Magie."
there in the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception, the Trinity and Transubstantiation, if submitted to the tests of physiology, mathematics, and chemistry?" and they "undertake to say, that the vagaries of Spiritualism do not surpass in absurdity these eminently respectable beliefs." Very well. But there is neither theological absurdity nor spiritualistic delusion that can match in depravity and imbecility that positivist notion of "artificial fecundation." Denying to themselves all thought on primal and final causes, they apply their insane theories to the construction of an impossible woman for the worship of future generations; the living, immortal companion of man they would replace with the Indian female fetich of the Obeah, the wooden idol that is stuffed every day with serpents' eggs, to be hatched by the heat of the sun!
And now, if we are permitted to ask in the name of common-sense, why should Christian mystics be taxed with credulity or the spiritualists be consigned to Bedlam, when a religion embodying such revolting absurdity finds disciples even among Academicians? -- when such insane rhapsodies as the following can be uttered by the mouth of Comte and admired by his followers: "My eyes are dazzled; -- they open each day more and more to the increasing coincidence between the social advent of the feminine mystery, and the mental decadence of the eucharistical sacrament. Already the Virgin has dethroned God in the minds of Southern Catholics! Positivism realizes the Utopia of the mediaeval ages, by representing all the members of the great family as the issue of a virgin mother without a husband. . . ." And again, after giving the modus operandi: "The development of the new process would soon cause to spring up a caste without heredity, better adapted than vulgar procreation to the recruitment of spiritual chiefs, or even temporal ones, whose authority would then rest upon an origin truly superior, which would not shrink from an investigation."
To this we might inquire with propriety, whether there has ever been found in the "vagaries of Spiritualism," or the mysteries of Christianity, anything more preposterous than this ideal "coming race." If the tendency of materialism is not grossly belied by the behavior of some of its advocates, those who publicly preach polygamy, we fancy that whether or not there will ever be a sacerdotal stirp so begotten, we shall see no end of progeny, -- the offspring of "mothers without husbands."
How natural that a philosophy which could engender such a caste of didactic incubi, should express through the pen of one of its most garrulous essayists, the following sentiments: "This is a sad, a very sad
* "Philosophie Positive," Vol. iv., p. 279.
age,* full of dead and dying faiths; full of idle prayers sent out in vain search for the departing gods. But oh! it is a glorious age, full of the golden light which streams from the ascending sun of science! What shall we do for those who are shipwrecked in faith, bankrupt in intellect, but . . . who seek comfort in the mirage of spiritualism, the delusions of transcendentalism, or the will o' the wisp of mesmerism? . . ."
The ignis fatuus, now so favorite an image with many dwarf philosophers, had itself to struggle for recognition. It is not so long since the now familiar phenomenon was stoutly denied by a correspondent of the London Times, whose assertions carried weight, till the work of Dr. Phipson, supported by the testimony of Beccaria, Humboldt, and other naturalists, set the question at rest.** The Positivists should choose some happier expression, and follow the discoveries of science at the same time. As to mesmerism, it has been adopted in many parts of Germany, and is publicly used with undeniable success in more than one hospital; its occult properties have been proved and are believed in by physicians, whose eminence, learning, and merited fame, the self-complacent lecturer on mediums and insanity cannot well hope to equal.
We have to add but a few more words before we drop this unpleasant subject. We have found Positivists particularly happy in the delusion that the greatest scientists of Europe were Comtists. How far their claims may be just, as regards other savants, we do not know, but Huxley, whom all Europe considers one of her greatest scientists, most decidedly declines that honor, and Dr. Maudsley, of London, follows suit. In a lecture delivered by the former gentleman in 1868, in Edinburgh, on The Physical Basis of Life, he even appears to be very much shocked at the liberty taken by the Archbishop of York, in identifying him with Comte's philosophy. "So far as I am concerned," says Mr. Huxley, "the most reverend prelate might dialectically hew Mr. Comte in pieces, as a modern Agag, and I would not attempt to stay his hand. In so far as my study of what specially characterizes the positive philosophy has led me, I find, therein, little or nothing of any scientific value, and a great deal which is as thoroughly antagonistic to the very essence of science as anything in ultramontane Catholicism. In fact, Comte's philosophy in practice might be compendiously described as Catholicism minus Christianity." Further, Huxley even becomes wrathful, and falls to accusing Scotchmen of ingratitude for having allowed the Bishop to mistake Comte for the founder of a philosophy which belonged by right to Hume. "It was enough," exclaims the professor, "to make David
* Dr. F. R. Marvin: "Lecture on Insanity."
** See Howitt: "History of the Supernatural," vol. ii.
Hume turn in his grave, that here, almost within earshot of his house, an interested audience should have listened, without a murmur, whilst his most characteristic doctrines were attributed to a French writer of fifty years later date, in whose dreary and verbose pages we miss alike the vigor of thought and the clearness of style. . . ."*
Poor Comte! It appears that the highest representatives of his philosophy are now reduced, at least in this country, to "one physicist, one physician who has made a specialty of nervous diseases, and one lawyer." A very witty critic nicknamed this desperate trio, "an anomalistic triad, which, amid its arduous labors, finds no time to acquaint itself with the principles and laws of their language."**
To close the question, the Positivists neglect no means to overthrow Spiritualism in favor of their religion. Their high priests are made to blow their trumpets untiringly; and though the walls of no modern Jericho are ever likely to tumble down in dust before their blast, still they neglect no means to attain the desired object. Their paradoxes are unique, and their accusations against spiritualists irresistible in logic. In a recent lecture, for instance, it was remarked that: "The exclusive exercise of religious instinct is productive of sexual immorality. Priests, monks, nuns, saints, media, ecstatics, and devotees are famous for their impurities."***
We are happy to remark that, while Positivism loudly proclaims itself a religion, Spiritualism has never pretended to be anything more than a science, a growing philosophy, or rather a research in hidden and as yet unexplained forces in nature. The objectiveness of its various phenomena has been demonstrated by more than one genuine representative of science, and as ineffectually denied by her "monkeys."
Finally, it may be remarked of our Positivists who deal so unceremoniously with every psychological phenomenon, that they are like Samuel Butler's rhetorician, who
". . . . could not ope
His mouth, but out there flew a trope."
We would there were no occasion to extend the critic's glance beyond the circle of triflers and pedants who improperly wear the title of men
* Prof. Huxley: "Physical Basis of Life."
** Reference is made to a card which appeared some time since in a New York paper, signed by three persons styling themselves as above, and assuming to be a scientific committee appointed two years before to investigate spiritual phenomena. The criticism on the triad appeared in the "New Era" magazine.
*** Dr. Marvin: "Lecture on Insanity," N. Y., 1875.
of science. But it is also undeniable that the treatment of new subjects by those whose rank is high in the scientific world but too often passes unchallenged, when it is amenable to censure. The cautiousness bred of a fixed habit of experimental research, the tentative advance from opinion to opinion, the weight accorded to recognized authorities -- all foster a conservatism of thought which naturally runs into dogmatism. The price of scientific progress is too commonly the martyrdom or ostracism of the innovator. The reformer of the laboratory must, so to speak, carry the citadel of custom and prejudice at the point of the bayonet. It is rare that even a postern-door is left ajar by a friendly hand. The noisy protests and impertinent criticisms of the little people of the antechamber of science, he can afford to let pass unnoticed; the hostility of the other class is a real peril that the innovator must face and overcome. Knowledge does increase apace, but the great body of scientists are not entitled to the credit. In every instance they have done their best to shipwreck the new discovery, together with the discoverer. The palm is to him who has won it by individual courage, intuitiveness, and persistency. Few are the forces in nature which, when first announced, were not laughed at, and then set aside as absurd and unscientific. Humbling the pride of those who had not discovered anything, the just claims of those who have been denied a hearing until negation was no longer prudent, and then -- alas for poor, selfish humanity! these very discoverers too often became the opponents and oppressors, in their turn, of still more recent explorers in the domain of natural law! So, step by step, mankind move around their circumscribed circle of knowledge, science constantly correcting its mistakes, and readjusting on the following day the erroneous theories of the preceding one. This has been the case, not merely with questions pertaining to psychology, such as mesmerism, in its dual sense of a physical and spiritual phenomenon, but even with such discoveries as directly related to exact sciences, and have been easy to demonstrate.
What can we do? Shall we recall the disagreeable past? Shall we point to mediaeval scholars conniving with the clergy to deny the Heliocentric theory, for fear of hurting an ecclesiastical dogma? Must we recall how learned conchologists once denied that the fossil shells, found scattered over the face of the earth, were ever inhabited by living animals at all? How the naturalists of the eighteenth century declared these but mere fac-similes of animals? And how these naturalists fought and quarrelled and battled and called each other names, over these venerable mummies of the ancient ages for nearly a century, until Buffon settled the question by proving to the negators that they were mistaken? Surely an oyster-shell is anything but transcendental, and ought to be quite a palpable subject for any exact study; and if the scientists could not agree
on that, we can hardly expect them to believe at all that evanescent forms, -- of hands, faces, and whole bodies sometimes -- appear at the seances of spiritual mediums, when the latter are honest.
There exists a certain work which might afford very profitable reading for the leisure hours of skeptical men of science. It is a book published by Flourens, the Perpetual Secretary of the French Academy, called Histoire des Recherches de Buffon. The author shows in it how the great naturalist combated and finally conquered the advocates of the fac-simile theory; and how they still went on denying everything under the sun, until at times the learned body fell into a fury, an epidemic of negation. It denied Franklin and his refined electricity; laughed at Fulton and his concentrated steam; voted the engineer Perdormet a strait-jacket for his offer to build railroads; stared Harvey out of countenance; and proclaimed Bernard de Palissy "as stupid as one of his own pots!"
In his oft-quoted work, Conflict between Religion and Science, Professor Draper shows a decided propensity to kick the beam of the scales of justice, and lay all such impediments to the progress of science at the door of the clergy alone. With all respect and admiration due to this eloquent writer and scientist, we must protest and give every one his just due. Many of the above-enumerated discoveries are mentioned by the author of the Conflict. In every case he denounces the bitter resistance on the part of the clergy, and keeps silent on the like opposition invariably experienced by every new discoverer at the hands of science. His claim on behalf of science that "knowledge is power" is undoubtedly just. But abuse of power, whether it proceeds from excess of wisdom or ignorance is alike obnoxious in its effects. Besides, the clergy are silenced now. Their protests would at this day be scarcely noticed in the world of science. But while theology is kept in the background, the scientists have seized the sceptre of despotism with both hands, and they use it, like the cherubim and flaming sword of Eden, to keep the people away from the tree of immortal life and within this world of perishable matter.
The editor of the London Spiritualist, in answer to Dr. Gully's criticism of Mr. Tyndall's fire-mist theory, remarks that if the entire body of spiritualists are not roasting alive at Smithfield in the present century, it is to science alone that we are indebted for this crowning mercy. Well, let us admit that the scientists are indirectly public benefactors in this case, to the extent that the burning of erudite scholars is no longer fashionable. But is it unfair to ask whether the disposition manifested toward the spiritualistic doctrine by Faraday, Tyndall, Huxley, Agassiz, and others, does not warrant the suspicion that if these learned gentlemen
and their following had the unlimited power once held by the Inquisition, spiritualists would not have reason to feel as easy as they do now? Even supposing that they should not roast believers in the existence of a spirit-world -- it being unlawful to cremate people alive -- would they not send every spiritualist they could to Bedlam? Do they not call us "incurable monomaniacs," "hallucinated fools," "fetich-worshippers," and like characteristic names? Really, we cannot see what should have stimulated to such extent the gratitude of the editor of the London Spiritualist, for the benevolent tutelage of the men of science. We believe that the recent Lankester-Donkin-Slade prosecution in London ought at last to open the eyes of hopeful spiritualists, and show them that stubborn materialism is often more stupidly bigoted than religious fanaticism itself.
One of the cleverest productions of Professor Tyndall's pen is his caustic essay upon Martineau and Materialism. At the same time it is one which in future years the author will doubtless be only too ready to trim of certain unpardonable grossnesses of expression. For the moment, however, we will not deal with these, but consider what he has to say of the phenomenon of consciousness. He quotes this question from Mr. Martineau: "A man can say 'I feel, I think, I love'; but how does consciousness infuse itself into the problem?" And thus answers: "The passage from the physics of the brain to the corresponding facts of consciousness is unthinkable. Granted that a definite thought and a molecular action in the brain occur simultaneously; we do not possess the intellectual organ nor apparently any rudiments of the organ, which would enable us to pass by a process of reasoning from one to the other. They appear together, but we do not know why. Were our minds and senses so expanded, strengthened and illuminated, as to enable us to see and feel the very molecules of the brain; were we capable of following all their motions, all their groupings, all their electric discharges, if such there be; and were we intimately acquainted with the corresponding states of thought and feeling, we should be as far as ever from the solution of the problem, 'How are these physical processes connected with the facts of consciousness?' The chasm between the two classes of phenomena would still remain intellectually impassable."*
This chasm, as impassable to Professor Tyndall as the fire-mist where the scientist is confronted with his unknowable cause, is a barrier only to men without spiritual intuitions. Professor Buchanan's Outlines of Lectures on the Neurological System of Anthropology, a work written so far back as 1854, contains suggestions that, if the scio-
* Tyndall: "Fragments of Science."
lists would only heed them, would show how a bridge can be thrown across this dreadful abyss. It is one of the bins in which the thought-seed of future harvests is stored up by a frugal present. But the edifice of materialism is based entirely upon that gross sub-structure -- the reason. When they have stretched its capabilities to their utmost limits, its teachers can at best only disclose to us an universe of molecules animated by an occult impulse. What better diagnosis of the ailment of our scientists could be asked than can be derived from Professor Tyndall's analysis of the mental state of the Ultramontane clergy by a very slight change of names. For "spiritual guides" read "scientists," for "prescientific past" substitute "materialistic present," say "spirit" for "science," and in the following paragraph we have a life portrait of the modern man of science drawn by the hand of a master:
" . . . Their spiritual guides live so exclusively in the prescientific past, that even the really strong intellects among them are reduced to atrophy as regards scientific truth. Eyes they have and see not; ears they have and hear not; for both eyes and ears are taken possession of by the sights and sounds of another age. In relation to science, the Ultramontane brain, through lack of exercise, is virtually the undeveloped brain of the child. And thus it is that as children in scientific knowledge, but as potent wielders of spiritual power among the ignorant, they countenance and enforce practices sufficient to bring the blush of shame to the cheeks of the more intelligent among themselves."* The Occultist holds this mirror up to science that it may see how it looks itself.
Since history recorded the first laws established by man, there never was yet a people, whose code did not hang the issues of the life and death of its citizens upon the testimony of two or three credible witnesses. "At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death,"** says Moses, the first legislator we meet in ancient history. "The laws which put to death a man on the deposition of one witness are fatal to freedom" -- says Montesquieu. "Reason claims there should be two witnesses."***
Thus the value of evidence has been tacitly agreed upon and accepted in every country. But the scientists will not accept the evidence of the million against one. In vain do hundreds of thousands of men testify to facts. Oculos habent et non vident! They are determined to remain blind and deaf. Thirty years of practical demonstrations and the testimony of some millions of believers in America and Europe are certainly entitled to some degree of respect and attention. Especially so, when
* Tyndall: Preface to "Fragments of Science."
** Deuteronomy, chap. xvii., 6.
*** Montesquieu: Esprit des Lois I., xii., chap. 3.
the verdict of twelve spiritualists, influenced by the evidence testified to by any two others, is competent to send even a scientist to swing on the gallows for a crime, perhaps committed under the impulse supplied by a commotion among the cerebral molecules unrestrained by a consciousness of future moral RETRIBUTION.
Toward science as a whole, as a divine goal, the whole civilized world ought to look with respect and veneration; for science alone can enable man to understand the Deity by the true appreciation of his works. "Science is the understanding of truth or facts," says Webster; "it is an investigation of truth for its own sake and a pursuit of pure knowledge." If the definition be correct, then the majority of our modern scholars have proved false to their goddess. "Truth for its own sake!" And where should the keys to every truth in nature be searched for, unless in the hitherto unexplored mystery of psychology? Alas! that in questioning nature so many men of science should daintily sort over her facts and choose only such for study as best bolster their prejudices.
Psychology has no worse enemies than the medical school denominated allopathists. It is in vain to remind them that of the so-called exact sciences, medicine, confessedly, least deserves the name. Although of all branches of medical knowledge, psychology ought more than any other to be studied by physicians, since without its help their practice degenerates into mere guess-work and chance-intuitions, they almost wholly neglect it. The least dissent from their promulgated doctrines is resented as a heresy, and though an unpopular and unrecognized curative method should be shown to save thousands, they seem, as a body, disposed to cling to accepted hypotheses and prescriptions, and decry both innovator and innovation until they get the mint-stamp of regularity. Thousands of unlucky patients may die meanwhile, but so long as professional honor is vindicated, this is a matter of secondary importance.
Theoretically the most benignant, at the same time no other school of science exhibits so many instances of petty prejudice, materialism, atheism, and malicious stubbornness as medicine. The predilections and patronage of the leading physicians are scarcely ever measured by the usefulness of a discovery. Bleeding, by leeching, cupping, and the lancet, had its epidemic of popularity, but at last fell into merited disgrace; water, now freely given to fevered patients, was once denied them, warm baths were superseded by cold water, and for a while hydropathy was a mania. Peruvian bark -- which a modern defender of biblical authority seriously endeavors to identify with the paradisiacal "Tree of Life,"* and which was brought to Spain in 1632 -- was neg-
* C. B. Warring.
lected for years. The Church, for once, showed more discrimination than science. At the request of Cardinal de Lugo, Innocent X. gave it the prestige of his powerful name.
In an old book entitled Demonologia, the author cites many instances of important remedies which being neglected at first afterward rose into notice through mere accident. He also shows that most of the new discoveries in medicine have turned out to be no more than "the revival and readoption of very ancient practices." During the last century, the root of the male fern was sold and widely advertised as a secret nostrum by a Madame Nouffleur, a female quack, for the effective cure of the tapeworm. The secret was bought by Louis XV. for a large sum of money; after which the physicians discovered that it was recommended and administered in that disease by Galen. The famous powder of the Duke of Portland for the gout, was the diacentaureon of Caelius Aurelianus. Later it was ascertained that it had been used by the earliest medical writers, who had found it in the writings of the old Greek philosophers. So with the eau medicinale of Dr. Husson, whose name it bears. This famous remedy for the gout was recognized under its new mask to be the Colchicum autumnale, or meadow saffron, which is identical with a plant called Hermodactylus, whose merits as a certain antidote to gout were recognized and defended by Oribasius, a great physician of the fourth century, and AEtius Amidenus, another eminent physician of Alexandria (fifth century). Subsequently it was abandoned and fell into disfavor only because it was too old to be considered good by the members of the medical faculties that flourished toward the end of the last century!
Even the great Magendie, the wise physiologist, was not above discovering that which had already been discovered and found good by the oldest physicians. His proposed remedy against consumption, namely, the use of prussic acid, may be found in the works of Linnaeus, Amenitates Academicae, vol. iv., in which he shows distilled laurel water to have been used with great profit in pulmonary consumption. Pliny also assures us that the extract of almonds and cherry-pits had cured the most obstinate coughs. As the author of Demonologia well remarks, it may be asserted with perfect safety that "all the various secret preparations of opium which have been lauded as the discovery of modern times, may be recognized in the works of ancient authors," who see themselves so discredited in our days.
It is admitted on all hands that from time immemorial the distant East was the land of knowledge. Not even in Egypt were botany and mineralogy so extensively studied as by the savants of archaic Middle Asia. Sprengel, unjust and prejudiced as he shows himself in everything else, confesses this much in his Histoire de la Medicine. And yet,
notwithstanding this, whenever the subject of magic is discussed, that of India has rarely suggested itself to any one, for of its general practice in that country less is known than among any other ancient people. With the Hindus it was and is more esoteric, if possible, than it was even among the Egyptian priests. So sacred was it deemed that its existence was only half admitted, and it was only practiced in public emergencies. It was more than a religious matter, for it was considered divine. The Egyptian hierophants, notwithstanding the practice of a stern and pure morality, could not be compared for one moment with the ascetical Gymnosophists, either in holiness of life or miraculous powers developed in them by the supernatural adjuration of everything earthly. By those who knew them well they were held in still greater reverence than the magians of Chaldea. Denying themselves the simplest comforts of life, they dwelt in woods, and led the life of the most secluded hermits,* while their Egyptian brothers at least congregated together. Notwithstanding the slur thrown by history on all who practiced magic and divination, it has proclaimed them as possessing the greatest secrets in medical knowledge and unsurpassed skill in its practice. Numerous are the volumes preserved in Hindu convents, in which are recorded the proofs of their learning. To attempt to say whether these Gymnosophists were the real founders of magic in India, or whether they only practiced what had passed to them as an inheritance from the earliest Rishis** -- the seven primeval sages -- would be regarded as a mere speculation by exact scholars. "The care which they took in educating youth, in familiarizing it with generous and virtuous sentiments, did them peculiar honor, and their maxims and discourses, as recorded by historians, prove that they were expert in matters of philosophy, metaphysics, astronomy, morality, and religion," says a modern writer. They preserved their dignity under the sway of the most powerful princes, whom they would not condescend to visit, or to trouble for the slightest favor. If the latter desired the advice or the prayers of the holy men, they were either obliged to go themselves, or to send messengers. To these men no secret power of either plant or mineral was unknown. They had fathomed nature to its depths, while psychology and physiology were to them open books, and the result was that science or machagiotia that is now termed, so superciliously, magic.
While the miracles recorded in the Bible have become accepted facts
* Ammianus Marcellinus, xxiii., 6.
** The Rishis were seven in number, and lived in days anteceding the Vedic period. They were known as sages, and held in reverence like demigods. Haug shows that they occupy in the Brahmanical religion a position answering to that of the twelve sons of Jacob in the Jewish Bible. The Brahmans claim to descend directly from these Rishis.
with the Christians, to disbelieve which is regarded as infidelity, the narratives of wonders and prodigies found in the Atharva-Veda,* either provoke their contempt or are viewed as evidences of diabolism. And yet, in more than one respect, and notwithstanding the unwillingness of certain Sanscrit scholars, we can show the identity between the two. Moreover, as the Vedas have now been proved by scholars to antedate the Jewish Bible by many ages, the inference is an easy one that if one of them has borrowed from the other, the Hindu sacred books are not to be charged with plagiarism.
First of all, their cosmogony shows how erroneous has been the opinion prevalent among the civilized nations that Brahma was ever considered by the Hindus their chief or Supreme God. Brahma is a secondary deity, and like Jehovah is "a mover of the waters." He is the creating god, and has in his allegorical representations four heads, answering to the four cardinal points. He is the demiurgos, the architect of the world. "In the primordiate state of the creation," says Polier's Mythologie des Indous, "the rudimental universe, submerged in water, reposed in the bosom of the Eternal. Sprang from this chaos and darkness, Brahma, the architect of the world, poised on a lotus-leaf floated (moved?) upon the waters, unable to discern anything but water and darkness." This is as identical as possible with the Egyptian cosmogony, which shows in its opening sentences Athtor** or Mother Night (which represents illimitable darkness) as the primeval element which covered the infinite abyss, animated by water and the universal spirit of the Eternal, dwelling alone in Chaos. As in the Jewish Scriptures, the history of the creation opens with the spirit of God and his creative emanation -- another Deity.*** Perceiving such a dismal state of things, Brahma soliloquizes in consternation: "Who am I? Whence came I?" Then he hears a voice: "Direct your prayer to Bhagavant -- the Eternal, known, also, as Parabrahma." Brahma, rising from his natatory position, seats himself upon the lotus in an attitude of contemplation, and reflects upon the Eternal, who, pleased with this evidence of piety, disperses the primeval darkness and opens his understanding. "After this Brahma issues from the universal egg -- (infinite chaos) as light, for his understanding is now opened, and he sets himself to work; he moves on the eternal waters, with the spirit of God within himself; in his capacity of mover of the waters he is Narayana."
The lotus, the sacred flower of the Egyptians, as well as the Hindus, is the symbol of Horus as it is that of Brahma. No temples in Thibet or
* The fourth Veda.
** Orthography of the "Archaic Dictionary."
*** We do not mean the current or accepted Bible, but the real Jewish one explained kabalistically.
Nepaul are found without it; and the meaning of this symbol is extremely suggestive. The sprig of lilies placed in the hand of the archangel, who offers them to the Virgin Mary, in the pictures of the "Annunciation," have in their esoteric symbolism precisely the same meaning. We refer the reader to Sir William Jones.* With the Hindus, the lotus is the emblem of the productive power of nature, through the agency of fire and water (spirit and matter). "Eternal!" says a verse in the Bhagavad Gita, "I see Brahma the creator enthroned in thee above the lotus!" and Sir W. Jones shows that the seeds of the lotus contain -- even before they germinate -- perfectly-formed leaves, the miniature shapes of what one day, as perfected plants, they will become; or, as the author of The Heathen Religion, has it -- "nature thus giving us a specimen of the preformation of its productions"; adding further that "the seed of all phoenogamous plants bearing proper flowers, contain an embryo plantlet ready formed."**
With the Buddhists, it has the same signification. Maha-Maya, or Maha-Deva, the mother of Gautama Buddha, had the birth of her son announced to her by Bhodisat (the spirit of Buddha), who appeared beside her couch with a lotus in his hand. Thus, also, Osiris and Horus are represented by the Egyptians constantly in association with the lotus-flower.
These facts all go to show the identical parentage of this idea in the three religious systems, Hindu, Egyptian and Judaico-Christian. Wherever the mystic water-lily (lotus) is employed, it signifies the emanation of the objective from the concealed, or subjective -- the eternal thought of the ever-invisible Deity passing from the abstract into the concrete or visible form. For as soon as darkness was dispersed and "there was light," Brahma's understanding was opened, and he saw in the ideal world (which had hitherto lain eternally concealed in the Divine thought) the archetypal forms of all the infinite future things that would be called into existence, and hence become visible. At this first stage of action, Brahma had not yet become the architect, the builder of the universe, for he had, like the architect, to first acquaint himself with the plan, and realize the ideal forms which were buried in the bosom of the Eternal One, as the future lotus-leaves are concealed within the seed of that plant. And it is in this idea that we must look for the origin and explanation of the verse in the Jewish cosmogony, which reads: "And God said, Let the earth bring forth . . . the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself." In all the primitive religions, the "Son of the Father" is the creative God -- i.e., His thought made visible; and before the Christian era, from the Trimurti of the Hindus down to the
* "Dissertations Relating to Asia."
** Dr. Gross, p. 195.
three kabalistic heads of the Jewish-explained scriptures, the triune godhead of each nation was fully defined and substantiated in its allegories. In the Christian creed we see but the artificial engrafting of a new branch upon the old trunk; and the adoption by the Greek and Roman churches of the lily-symbol held by the archangel at the moment of the Annunciation, shows a thought of precisely the same metaphysical significance.
The lotus is the product of fire (heat) and water, hence the dual symbol of spirit and matter. The God Brahma is the second person of the Trinity, as are Jehovah (Adam-Kadmon) and Osiris, or rather Pimander, or the Power of the Thought Divine, of Hermes; for it is Pimander who represents the root of all the Egyptian Sun-gods. The Eternal is the Spirit of Fire, which stirs up and fructifies and develops into a concrete form everything that is born of water or the primordial earth, evolved out of Brahma; but the universe is itself Brahma, and he is the universe. This is the philosophy of Spinoza, which he derived from that of Pythagoras; and it is the same for which Bruno died a martyr. How much Christian theology has gone astray from its point of departure, is demonstrated in this historical fact. Bruno was slaughtered for the exegesis of a symbol that was adopted by the earliest Christians, and expounded by the apostles! The sprig of water-lilies of Bhodisat, and later of Gabriel, typifying fire and water, or the idea of creation and generation, is worked into the earliest dogma of the baptismal sacrament.
Bruno's and Spinoza's doctrines are nearly identical, though the words of the latter are more veiled, and far more cautiously chosen than those to be found in the theories of the author of the Causa Principio et Uno, or the Infinito Universo e Mondi. Both Bruno, who confesses that the source of his information was Pythagoras, and Spinoza, who, without acknowledging it as frankly, allows his philosophy to betray the secret, view the First Cause from the same stand-point. With them, God is an Entity totally per se, an Infinite Spirit, and the only Being utterly free and independent of either effects or other causes; who, through that same Will which produced all things and gave the first impulse to every cosmic law, perpetually keeps in existence and order everything in the universe. As well as the Hindu Swabhavikas, erroneously called Atheists, who assume that all things, men as well as gods and spirits, were born from Swabhava, or their own nature,* both
* Brahma does not create the earth, Mirtlok, any more than the rest of the universe. Having evolved himself from the soul of the world, once separated from the First Cause, he emanates in his turn all nature out of himself. He does not stand above it, but is mixed up with it; and Brahma and the universe form one Being, each particle of which is in its essence Brahma himself, who proceeded out of himself. [Burnouf: "Introduction," p. 118.]
Spinoza and Bruno were led to the conclusion that God is to be sought for within nature and not without. For, creation being proportional to the power of the Creator, the universe as well as its Creator must be infinite and eternal, one form emanating from its own essence, and creating in its turn another. The modern commentators affirm that Bruno, "unsustained by the hope of another and better world, still surrendered his life rather than his convictions"; thereby allowing it to be inferred that Giordano Bruno had no belief in the continued existence of man after death. Professor Draper asserts most positively that Bruno did not believe in the immortality of the soul. Speaking of the countless victims of the religious intolerance of the Popish Church, he remarks: "The passage from this life to the next, though through a hard trial, was the passage from a transient trouble to eternal happiness. . . . On his way through the dark valley, the martyr believed that there was an invisible hand that would lead him. . . . For Bruno there was no such support. The philosophical opinions, for the sake of which he surrendered his life, could give him no consolation."*
But Professor Draper seems to have a very superficial knowledge of the true belief of the philosophers. We can leave Spinoza out of the question, and even allow him to remain in the eyes of his critics an utter atheist and materialist; for the cautious reserve which he placed upon himself in his writings makes it extremely difficult for one who does not read him between the lines, and is not thoroughly acquainted with the hidden meaning of the Pythagorean metaphysics, to ascertain what his real sentiments were. But as for Giordano Bruno, if he adhered to the doctrines of Pythagoras he must have believed in another life, hence, he could not have been an atheist whose philosophy offered him no such "consolation." His accusation and subsequent confession, as given by Professor Domenico Berti, in his Life of Bruno, and compiled from original documents recently published, proved beyond doubt what were his real philosophy, creed and doctrines. In common with the Alexandrian Platonists, and the later Kabalists, he held that Jesus was a magician in the sense given to this appellation by Porphyry and Cicero, who call it the divina sapientia (divine knowledge), and by Philo Judaes, who described the Magi as the most wonderful inquirers into the hidden mysteries of nature, not in the degrading sense given to the word magic in our century. In his noble conception, the Magi were holy men, who, setting themselves apart from everything else on this earth, contemplated the divine virtues and understood the divine nature of the gods and spirits, the more clearly; and so, initiated others into the same mys-
* "Conflict between Religion and Science," 180.
teries, which consist in one holding an uninterrupted intercourse with these invisible beings during life. But we will show Bruno's inmost philosophical convictions better by quoting fragments from the accusation and his own confession.
The charges in the denunciation of Mocenigo, his accuser, are expressed in the following terms:
"I, Zuane Mocenigo, son of the most illustrious Ser Marcantonio, denounce to your very reverend fathership, by constraint of my conscience and by order of my confessor, that I have heard say by Giordano Bruno, several times when he discoursed with me in my house, that it is great blasphemy in Catholics to say that the bread transubstantiates itself into flesh; that he is opposed to the Mass; that no religion pleases him; that Christ was a wretch (un tristo), and that if he did wicked works to seduce the people he might well predict that He ought to be impaled; that there is no distinction of persons in God, and that it would be imperfection in God; that the world is eternal, and that there are infinite worlds, and that God makes them continually, because, he says, He desires all He can; that Christ did apparent miracles and was a magician, and so were the apostles, and that he had a mind to do as much and more than they did; that Christ showed an unwillingness to die, and shunned death all He could; that there is no punishment of sin, and that souls created by the operation of nature pass from one animal to another, and that as the brute animals are born of corruption, so also are men when after dissolution they come to be born again."
Perfidious as they are, the above words plainly indicate the belief of Bruno in the Pythagorean metempsychosis, which, misunderstood as it is, still shows a belief in the survival of man in one shape or another. Further, the accuser says:
"He has shown indications of wishing to make himself the author of a new sect, under the name of 'New Philosophy.' He has said that the Virgin could not have brought forth, and that our Catholic faith is all full of blasphemies against the majesty of God; that the monks ought to be deprived of the right of disputation and their revenues, because they pollute the world; that they are all asses, and that our opinions are doctrines of asses; that we have no proof that our faith has merit with God, and that not to do to others what we would not have done to ourselves suffices for a good life, and that he laughs at all other sins, and wonders how God can endure so many heresies in Catholics. He says that he means to apply himself to the art of divination, and make all the world run after him; that St. Thomas and all the Doctors knew nothing to compare with him, and that he could ask questions of all the first theologians of the world that they could not answer."
To this, the accused philosopher answered by the following profession of faith, which is that of every disciple of the ancient masters:
"I hold, in brief, to an infinite universe, that is, an effect of infinite divine power, because I esteemed it a thing unworthy of divine goodness and power, that being able to produce besides this world another and infinite others, it should produce a finite world. Thus I have declared that there are infinite particular worlds similar to this of the earth, which, with Pythagoras, I understand to be a star similar in nature with the moon, the other planets, and the other stars, which are infinite; and that all those bodies are worlds, and without number, which thus constitute the infinite universality in an infinite space, and this is called the infinite universe, in which are innumerable worlds, so that there is a double kind of infinite greatness in the universe, and of a multitude of worlds. Indirectly, this may be understood to be repugnant to the truth according to the true faith.
"Moreover, I place in this universe a universal Providence, by virtue of which everything lives, vegetates and moves, and stands in its perfection, and I understand it in two ways; one, in the mode in which the whole soul is present in the whole and every part of the body, and this I call nature, the shadow and footprint of divinity; the other, the ineffable mode in which God, by essence, presence, and power, is in all and above all, not as part, not as soul, but in mode inexplicable.
"Moreover, I understand all the attributes in divinity to be one and the same thing. Together with the theologians and great philosophers, I apprehend three attributes, power, wisdom, and goodness, or, rather, mind, intellect, love, with which things have first, being, through the mind; next, ordered and distinct being, through the intellect; and third, concord and symmetry, through love. Thus I understand being in all and over all, as there is nothing without participation in being, and there is no being without essence, just as nothing is beautiful without beauty being present; thus nothing can be free from the divine presence, and thus by way of reason, and not by way of substantial truth, do I understand distinction in divinity.
"Assuming then the world caused and produced, I understand that, according to all its being, it is dependent upon the first cause, so that it did not reject the name of creation, which I understand that Aristotle also has expressed, saying, 'God is that upon whom the world and all nature depends,' so that according to the explanation of St. Thomas, whether it be eternal or in time, it is, according to all its being, dependent on the first cause, and nothing in it is independent.
"Next, in regard to what belongs to the true faith, not speaking philosophically, to come to individuality about the divine persons, the
wisdom and the son of the mind, called by philosophers intellect, and by theologians the word, which ought to be believed to have taken on human flesh. But I, abiding in the phrases of philosophy, have not understood it, but have doubted and held it with inconstant faith, not that I remember to have shown marks of it in writing nor in speech, except indirectly from other things, something of it may be gathered as by way of ingenuity and profession in regard to what may be proved by reason and concluded from natural light. Thus, in regard to the Holy Spirit in a third person, I have not been able to comprehend, as ought to be believed, but, according to the Pythagoric manner, in conformity to the manner shown by Solomon, I have understood it as the soul of the universe, or adjoined to the universe according to the saying of the wisdom of Solomon: 'The spirit of God filled all the earth, and that which contains all things,' all which conforms equally to the Pythagoric doctrine explained by Virgil in the text of the AEneid:
Principio coelum ac terras camposque liquentes,
Lucentemque globum Lunae, Titaniaque astra
Spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa per artus
Mens agitat molem;
and the lines following.
"From this spirit, then, which is called the life of the universe, I understand, in my philosophy, proceeds life and soul to everything which has life and soul, which, moreover, I understand to be immortal, as also to bodies, which, as to their substance, are all immortal, there being no other death than division and congregation, which doctrine seems expressed in Ecclesiastes, where it is said that 'there is nothing new under the sun; that which is is that which was.' "
Furthermore, Bruno confesses his inability to comprehend the doctrine of three persons in the godhead, and his doubts of the incarnation of God in Jesus, but firmly pronounces his belief in the miracles of Christ. How could he, being a Pythagorean philosopher, discredit them? If, under the merciless constraint of the Inquisition, he, like Galileo, subsequently recanted, and threw himself upon the clemency of his ecclesiastical persecutors, we must remember that he spoke like a man standing between the rack and the fagot, and human nature cannot always be heroic when the corporeal frame is debilitated by torture and imprisonment.
But for the opportune appearance of Berti's authoritative work, we would have continued to revere Bruno as a martyr, whose bust was deservedly set high in the Pantheon of Exact Science, crowned with laurel by the hand of Draper. But now we see that their hero of an hour
is neither atheist, materialist, nor positivist, but simply a Pythagorean who taught the philosophy of Upper Asia, and claimed to possess the powers of the magicians, so despised by Draper's own school! Nothing more amusing than this contretemps has happened since the supposed statue of St. Peter was discovered by irreverent archaeologists to be nothing else than the Jupiter of the Capitol, and Buddha's identity with the Catholic St. Josaphat was satisfactorily proven.
Thus, search where we may through the archives of history, we find that there is no fragment of modern philosophy -- whether Newtonian, Cartesian, Huxleyian or any other -- but has been dug from the Oriental mines. Even Positivism and Nihilism find their prototype in the exoteric portion of Kapila's philosophy, as is well remarked by Max Muller. It was the inspiration of the Hindu sages that penetrated the mysteries of Pragna Paramita (perfect wisdom); their hands that rocked the cradle of the first ancestor of that feeble but noisy child that we have christened MODERN SCIENCE.