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extend its play into organic nature, and to
by their own constructive power, molecule
which the molecules of water build themselves
"On the Nature of the Gods," expresses Lucretius, this thought very distinctly." Neither the too, casts teleology away. world nor the human body, he says, show any trace of design; our eyes, feet, hands, were not made for our sake that we might see, walk, labour. Nothing has been made for the use of men.† Commenting on the fact that men, animals of every kind, grains of corn, shells on the seashore, if we compare specimens of them together, are all different one from the other, he points out that nature's style of production differs from that of man. these objects, he says, "exist by nature, and are not manufactured by hand after the exact model of one." Lucretius, like Tyndall, is opposed to the conception of an "artificer in the universe, fashioned after the human model, and acting by broken efforts, as man is seen to act." If, then, Lucretius did not believe in a Creator, can it be said that he had any notion of evolution? It is certain that his philosoTyn-phy implied evolution, and Lucretius may fairly be taken to support it, though we question if he had anything like a definite conception of such a process. Had he become acquainted with such a theory, beyond question he would have eagerly emEverywhere, throughout our planet, we notice braced it as filling the gap in his system. this tendency of the ultimate particles of mat- Only he seems, as we have suggested, not The very ter to run into symmetric forms. to have been conscious that there was any molecules appear inspired with the desire for union and growth; and the question of ques- gap. His theory of atoms, and his princitions at the present day is-and it is one ple that "nature is seen to do all things which I fear will not be solved in our day, spontaneously of herself, without the medbut will continue to agitate and occupy think-dling of the gods," clearly point this way. ing minds after we have departed - how far The principle of natural selection was cerdoes this wondrous display of molecular force tainly dimly grasped by him. extend? Does it give us movement of the fifth book he says that in the earth's sap of trees? I would reply with confidence, history many animals must have died off. Assuredly it does." Does it give us the Only the possession of some special qualibeating of our own breasts, the warmth of our own bodies, the circulation of our own blood, ty, such as courage, speed, craft, has enand all that thereon depends? This is a point abled each race to exist and continue its kind. Some animals, such as dogs, oxen, on which I offer no opinion to-night. sheep, are useful to man, and have, in return, been preserved through his protection. Such as neither had natural qualities to depend on, nor were useful to man, fell a prey to others, and died out in the struggle for existence:
In a lecture delivered more lately, dall has expanded the same thought. After showing some experiments to illustrate the forces of crystallization, he said, in concluding:
This is a partial outline of what Martineau calls "the new book of Genesis."
It is now time to return to Lucretius, and endeavour to point out that though his store of arguments is less, his position is substantially the same as that of the modern materialist. It is easy to see that some minds in antiquity-members of the Epicurean sect in particular-felt a strong repugnance to the popular belief of a divine artificer, such as man is able to conceive, constructing the world. The Epicurean spokesman in Cicero's treatise,
"Fragments of Science." Matter and Force, a Lecture to the Working Men of Dundee. Pages 82 and 85.
Donec ad interitum genus id natura redegit. "That species nature utterly destroyed." In attributing the dying-out of such species, not to internal unfitness for life, but to
See especially chapters viii. and xx. of Book I. According to Lecky, Cicero's account of the Epicurean system is one of the grandest examples to be found of sublime and scrupulous justice to opponents." "History of European Morals," vol. i. p. 185. ↑ See Book IV. 823-857, and Book V. 156-194. Lines 855-877.
outward conditions, the competition with that matter is animated, but the next origother individuals or species, in the strug-inal thinker, who followed in his steps and gle for food, there is certainly a glimpse adopted his conclusions, must have taken of Darwin's theory. We might next ask this logical step, and another. He must whether Lucretius's conception of matter have admitted the presence of life in matis contradictory or not to the theory of ter, and at the same time have done away evolution. Tyndall has declared strongly with the meaningless but pernicious shadthat we must no longer speak of "inor- ow-deities whom Epicurus had pensioned ganic matter," or "dead matter." Now off, to be well out of the way, in the it was one dogma of Lucretius's creed inter-mundia. The mighty torrent of (and having found that creed for himself, atoms streaming through space, and capahe held all its dogmas rigidly) that matter ble of striking out worlds full of beauty is dead. For in reality his doctrine of and life by their combinations - this is declination is exactly consistent with the Lucretius's God. It is a universal fact conception of matter being living. It would that the mind of man longs for something have seemed utterly absurd to all, but for unchangeable and unalterable amidst the some such notion in men's minds. It is a decay and change that surround him on fact that Lucretius's generation, and still every hand in this world, where all things more so the generation of Epicurus, in- are shifting and altering, coming and going. herited from the earlier physical philoso- He feels that he must have something to phers a conception of matter as living. lay hold of, if he too would not be swept The Ionic philosophers, whose researches away. Plato strives earnestly to show culminated in the atomic theory, held this. that God cannot change. Lucretius's creed It is only because Lucretius insists so allowed him to find no such resting-place strongly, in lengthened argument, on mat- in the thought of God, but he dwells with ter being dead, that we call the declination great earnestness on the unalterable charof the atoms an inconsistency. For, in acter of the atoms. All through the poem reality, where there is no Creator, where he points out the contrast between the matter is conceived eternal, where it is perishable nature of all earthly bodies, of able to evolve life- there it is really con- which we have experience, and the imperceived as living. For, truly, if matter be ishable atoms. At their coming and going able to produce life and mind, there must things change, but the atoms change not. be somewhat of life and mind in matter. After this world has passed away, only Can we conceive of matter producing life the atoms will remain, streaming on in an unless by some power of life with which it unceasing torrent through space. Though is endowed? If matter, by the merely the soul lives not, but goes out like a fortuitous knocking-about of atoms, is able torch, yet the atoms abide forever. to produce men who think and feel and have free-will, then that matter must have free-will also. From Lucretius's actual point of view the inconsistency does not exist. It is only nominally that he believes matter to be dead. Rather does every atom possess sensation, thought, volition, life. To him, in reality, matter is living. Like Tyndall, he is willing to believe that every clod of earth, every lump of stone on the street, is tingling and throbbing with life, and the potency of life. This is pantheism.
When Lucretius says that the bodies of the gods would be dissolved if the supply of matter were not infinite, it is plain that the existence of matter is more real to him than that of the gods. It exists more truly and really. It is far more God to him than were his nominal deities, the absurd, idle Epicurean gods, who, we need hardly say (though Tyndall expresses admiration for the relations of Epicurus to the gods), could not be gods to him or any man except in name. Lucretius denies
Æternaque materies est.
Here was ground on which his foot could rest. He may have found a measure of consolation or of strength in the thought "There is something which does not pass away."
We have thus endeavoured to state what Lucretius's actual creed was. We have also attempted to show in what respects his position coincides with that of Tyndall, though we have greatly feared to be unfair in expressing the opinions of the latter, differing from him so widely as we do. One passage of Tyndall's address is very striking. This apostle of modern science, whom some call a materialist, as we have said, "discerns in matter the promise and potency of every form and quality of life." He supposes the world and all its life to be self-evolved from particles of matter, but inherent in this matter there is something which he cannot define.
In the second book of the "Republic."
In each particle there is matter and some thing more, matter and "mystery." In every process of evolution, in the unfolding of life, species, mind, he finds "the operation of an insoluble mystery." Thus Tyndall's avowed creed may be stated as "something more" than materi
The English reader who has heard much of Lucretius's imagination and poetic charm is somewhat astonished when he finds the earlier part of the poem composed in great part of passages containing scientific argument and proposition of the most close and exact kind. When he comes to a passage like that beginning,— Quod si forte aliquis credit graviora potesse, Corpora, quo citius rectum per inane feruntur, Incidere ex supero levioribus, atque ita plagas Gignere, etc.,
more keenly living than our life." This is why landscape has the power touch us so deeply. Thus Mr. Picton professes to have "gone right through materialism, and come out at the other side, where it merges into pure spiritualism." Our space will allow us to give no notion of the close argument by which Modern science has returned to the old this view of matter is defended. However problem which so interested the Greeks, mistaken his final conclusions may be, namely, the constitution of matter. Pres- this is at least a grand poetic dream: not ent theories on this point resolve them- a few passages simply intoxicate the selves into two, which may be compatible reader. In the last section, entitled There are the believers in hard “Christian Pantheism," Mr. Picton enatoms, formed either, as Sir W. Thomson deavours to show that his position is by believes, by indestructible elastic vortices no means inconsistent with Christian of an omnipresent fluid or in some other way; and those who deny the existence of anything but force. According to the latter view, matter is but accumulated centres of force, while all forces are viewed as essentially one, since it is proved that each force can be transmuted into a different kind of force. We can only refer here to the manner in which Mr. Picton has worked out this theory in his essay entitled the "Mystery of Matter." He endeavours to show that the ordinary conception of atoms, as indivisible particles which occupy space exclusively, is untenable. If this opinion be and so on for many verses, in which Luaccepted, how can "two substances -like cretius tries to prove that heavy bodies do not fall more quickly than the lighter in oxygen and hydrogen-produce a third so utterly unlike both as water"? Why the void, he naturally asks, “Is this long not rather think of the atoms as others do scientific discourse poetry?" To this we would answer that the poem is penetrated of the interspaces between them, and regard them as the mere "phenomena of through and through in its most severe force." "We may suppose these centres and protracted reasonings, its plainest and capable of interpenetrating one another, most matter-of-fact statements, by the and of thus producing an entirely new earnest purpose of the poet. It is this mode of force, or, in common language, a informs the plainest line with feeling. that turns the prose of it to poetry, and new substance." The atomic theory, pure He frequently reminds us that the aim of and simple, "first denies and then is compelled to assert the dissociation of matter his inquiry is not scientific, but to overand force." Mr. Picton, too, refuses to throw superstition. It was a dogma of his master Epicurus that physics has a believe in "an unliving substance, a dead matter." "The notion of a dead sub-right to exist only for the sake of ethics, in order to show the falsehood of superstance, foreign to and incommensurable stition, and that for any other end such with spiritual being," is a mere spectre which is "entirely the creation of false inquiries are useless. Lucretius, a man of more earnest temper, held the same, inference." We are certain of only one though in a much less absolute form. thing, namely, the existence of life, our own or another mode of life. "We know In beautiful and tender words, frequently that life is, but we do not know that any repeated in the course of the poem, he thing else is." Matter is "in its ultimate says, “Just as children in the dark tremessence spiritual." Mere force is no soluble, and dread every object, so we in tion of the existence of matter. "Both broad daylight fear, sometimes, things forces and forms, so far from lending what children shudder at in the darkness, which are no more objects of terror than themselves to gross materialism, rather fascinate us with their shadowed hints of and fancy that they must exist. a mystery behind them both, far mightier than our will, and, I will dare to add, J.
"The Mystery of Matter and other Essays." By Allanson Picton. Macmillan. 1873
terror, therefore, and darkness of the mind, must be dispersed, not by the rays of the sun and the bright shafts of day, but by the aspect of nature and her laws." Whenever this is apprehended, " forthwith nature is freed from her haughty lords," the gods. The first two books, in which he states the principles of the atomic philosophy-to be applied in the remaining four are the basis of his whole argument. They are the foundation on which he hopes to build a system that shall deliver men from all such fears.
when she sees the approving priests, who stand by and conceal the knife, appealing in vain to her father, and at last carried by force to the altar? The scene is painfully vivid. Probably Lucretius may have seen horrible punishments inflicted at Rome for offences against religion. At any rate he uses this story of the past because he believes that the religion of his own day is fit to produce evil deeds and crimes like this and does produce them. If he had drawn but this one picture, its every detail speaking his burning abhorThe position and aim of Lucretius, so rence of cruelty in religion's name, he had far as we can gather, is this. He was a not lived in vain. Indeed this seems to man of intense earnestness as a religious us the noblest, bravest thing that he was reformer and at the same time the vision allowed to do. Surely when man seeks to of nature had filled his soul with the maj- propitiate Deity and win his favour by esty of natural law. To him nature sacrificing his weaker brothers, this is the seemed far grander than the old gods of incarnation of selfishness. Human selfthe Pantheon at their mightiest. More- seeking can go no farther. What could over, he could not but feel that the con- Lucretius do put protest against a power science-nature of man, with its stainless like this? The bare picture is enough, majesty and instinctive abhorrence of but his feeling rises to a climax in the wrong, represented something infinitely single concluding word,higher than the old impure, selfish, jealous gods. Conscience, too (though he misunderstood its origin and the source of its authority), told him that they were false. But while he possessed a turn of mind for scientific inquiry, his strongest craving was not to pursue science, but to cast out the superstitious terrors of a false and insufficient creed. He was seriously impressed with the evils of the national religion, and sought on all sides for some philosophical weapon against them. He found this in the atomic theory, which, no doubt, he had first heard expounded in his student days at Athens. The philosophy of his age found little difficulty in accepting this as a proof that the gods have not created man, and so far as he is concerned are powerless for good or evil. He seized eagerly on it, and followed it up with all the strength of his intellect, the more so as he had a natural faculty and decided fondness for such pursuits; but Lucretius is to be viewed primarily as the opponent of paganism, and only in a secondary sense as a physical inquirer. Even the strong intellectual passion which he shows for scientific research pales before the intense white heat of his human sympathies. Perhaps these are nowhere more strongly shown than in the wonderful description of the sacrifice of Iphigenia. Who that has once read can ever forget that description of the weeping human victim-the young girl decked with the fillet on her soft hair, like a beast for sacrifice, dropping on the ground in terror
Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum! Could there be a God, and leave this appeal unanswered? Not in Lucretius's day did the answer come, not till years after he had died, perhaps, as tradition murmurs, by his own hand and in a moment of despair. Yet an answer did come, and the next generation saw it. Not in vain had he raised against paganism a voice which could never more be silent. Viewed in a wider horizon, and with reference to the progress of the world, we may look at his poem and even say, "It is well and rightly done," yet not altogether well for Lucretius himself, for he had done violence to the God-consciousness within him! His aim was to show that the ancient religion, which assigned for natural operations irregular, capricious divine agents, was contradicted by the newly-discovered majesty and regularity of nature's laws, while the conscience of man remonstrated against the cruelty and wickedness which it sanctioned. And beyond question the poem must have had a mighty power, especially with the thoughtful and imaginative, in destroying the old polytheistic creed, which could never be made new again and had to pass away. Moreover, the poet's conception of ture" as a mysterious, all-pervading power-sometimes, in spite of himself, his language almost implies a personal power,
helped to prepare the way for a purer and larger faith. Though in defiance of his materialistic system, he, too, dimly
From Blackwood's Magazine.
felt the presence in the world of a hidden | comrades, and the better-informed young power, a mystery, "something more" than fellow had not the heart to set her right. Nor did Mrs. Peart keep to herself in her sorrow. For her there could be no seclusion for the conventional time, to be followed by a reappearance in decorous weeds, while face and voice should be attuned to proper keeping with the condition of bereavement. Some of the other ladies indeed offered to bring her share of the rude meals to their private room; but the two sick children lying there, peevish and crying, made such partial solitude unwelcome; and Mrs. Peart, although for the time suspending her share in the nursing, took her place as usual at the public breakfast-table, where the unpleas ant-looking food was almost concealed from sight by the swarm of flies that settled upon it.
NOTWITHSTANDING the loss sustained, the garrison were in high spirits for the rest of the night at the success of the sortie. And the state of things next day amply justified the night's enterprise. Not only was a great danger averted; the enemy were so cowed by the surprise that they did not attempt to resume their mining, or even to reoccupy the garden. The other side of the building being already kept clear by the occupation of the lodge, the garrison were thus practically free from molestation, although the rebels had not given up the investment, for they could still be seen collected about the court-house and in the village opposite the lodge.
Mrs. Polwheedle presided at this meal. It had got to her ears that Major Peart had been left on the ground when he was wounded, and killed afterwards; and while helping to console the widow through the night, she had not forgotten to point out how the major might have been saved if he had not been left alone on the ground after he was wounded. Mrs. Polwheedle, who had been very active in nursing, and whose bustling cheerful manner had contributed sensibly to sustain the spirits of the female members. of the garrison, but on whose temper events were beginning to tell, was not herself this morning; and was now holding forth with raised voice and flushed face in criticism of the last night's enterprise, the only gentlemen present at table being the brigadier and Captain Buxey.
Great, therefore, was the sense of relief; nevertheless, as the day wore on, a reaction set in from the excitement of the previous night, and, in the absence of any pressing emergency, a sort of lassitude and weariness was now becoming observable. Time and confinement were beginning to tell. The building, large and airy though it was, had become almost intolerably close and stuffy, with all the sides closed up in the savage heat of June; and the ladies, who spent a part of the night on the roof, purchased the comfort dearly, which involved a return to the sickening "Better have a little of this stew, my atmosphere below. All were tiring of the dear," she said to Mrs. Peart; "it's the monotonous diet; they felt the need of last day you'll get any, for the sheep won't food, but brought a sense of loathing to hold out any longer. They have had no their meals. This morning, also, the two food for three days as it is. But there children had sickened, and lay side by won't be many left soon to want meat, or side on their cot, each with the doll Kitty chapattees either, if we go on like this. Peart had made for it on the pillow be- There's Braywell and Sparrow gone one side it, looking up at passers-by with lan- day, and now your husband and young guid preoccupied eye, while their mother Spragge and a poor sepoy the next; sat fanning herself in a chair near them. can't see what Falkland wants to be alPoor Kitty herself took her share of the ways going on in this way, attacking here, nursing; and while fanning Jerry Spragge, and attacking there, for. Why doesn't he gave him the particulars of poor papa's keep quiet inside? I wonder you allow death, with such embellishments as had it, brigadier. It's as much your fault as already gathered round the event. It did his. You are responsible for everynot occur to the poor girl that one of a thing, you know, for I suppose he made a party of soldiers might be shot, although pretence of asking your leave first." not more prominently engaged than the survivors; so she described to the patient how her father had fallen covered with wounds, while heroically leading on his
"My dear, I said I thought there was a good deal of risk in the sally," replied the poor old men meekly; "but I deferred to Falkland's judgment in the matter, and he