Imagens das páginas

Granting for a moment, then, the truth stocking-machine-a mere provider of physof that which the depreciators of natural | ical comforts? knowledge are so fond of urging, that its However, there are blind leaders of the improvement can only add to the resources blind, and not a few of them, who take of our material civilization; admitting it this view of natural knowledge, and (430 to be possible that the founders of the can see nothing in the bountiful mother of Royal Society themselves looked for no humanity but a sort of comfort-grinding other reward than this, I cannot con- (380 machine. According to them, the improve fess that I was guilty of exaggeration ment of natural knowledge always has when I hinted, that to him who had the been, and always must be, synonymous gift of distinguishing between prominent with no more than the improvement of events and important events, the origin the material resources and the increase of of a combined effort on the part of man- the gratifications of men. kind to improve natural knowledge might Natural knowledge is, in their eyes, no have loomed larger than the Plague and real mother of mankind, bringing (440 have outshone the glare of the Fire; as them up with kindness, and, if need be, a something fraught with a wealth of with sternness, in the way they should go, beneficence to mankind, in compari- [390 and instructing them in all things needful son with which the damage done by those for their welfare; but a sort of fairy godghastly evils would shrink into insignifi- mother, ready to furnish her pets with cance.

shoes of swiftness, swords of sharpness, and It is very certain that for every victim omnipotent Aladdin's lamps, so that they slain by the plague, hundreds of mankind may have telegraphs to Saturn, and see exist and find a fair share of happiness in the other side of the moon, and thank the world by the aid of the spinning jenny. God they are better than their be- (450 And the great fire, at its worst, could not nighted ancestors. have burned the supply of coal, the daily If this talk were true, I, for one, should working of which, in the bowels of the (400 not greatly care to toil in the service of earth, made possible by the steam pump, natural knowledge. I think I would just gives rise to an amount of wealth to which as soon be quietly chipping my own flint the millions lost in old London are but as axe, after the manner of my forefathers a an old song.

few thousand years back, as be troubled

with the endless malady of thought which But spinning jenny and steam pump now infests us all, for such reward. But are, after all, but toys, possessing an acci- I venture to say that such views are (460 dental value; and natural knowledge creates contrary alike to reason and to fact. Those multitudes of more subtle contrivances, who discourse in such fashion seem to me the praises of which do not happen to be to be so intent upon trying to see what is sung because they are not directly con- (410 above Nature, or what is behind her, that vertible into instruments for creating they are blind to what stares them in the wealth. When I contemplate natural face in her. knowledge squandering such gifts among I should not venture to speak thus men, the only appropriate comparison I strongly if my justification were not to be can find for her is, to liken her to such a found in the simplest and most obvious peasant woman as one sees in the Alps, facts,-if it needed more than an ap- (470 striding ever upward, heavily burdened, peal to the most notorious truths to justify and with mind bent only on her home; but my assertion, that the improvement of yet without effort and without thought, natural knowledge, whatever direction it knitting for her children. Now stock- 1420 has taken, and however low the aims of ings are good and comfortable things, and those who may have commenced it-has the children will undoubtedly be much not only conferred practical benefits on the better for them; but surely it would men, but, in so doing, has effected a revolube short-sighted, to say the least of it, to tion in their conceptions of the universe depreciate this toiling mother as a mere and of themselves, and has profoundly

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

altered their modes of thinking and (480 that he went further, to find as we do, that their views of right and wrong. I say upon that brief gladness there follows a that natural knowledge, seeking to satisfy certain sorrow,—the little light of awaknatural wants, has found the ideas which ened human intelligence shines so mere (530 can alone still spiritual cravings. I say a spark amidst the abyss of the unknown that natural knowledge, in desiring to and unknowable; seems so insufficient to ascertain the laws of comfort, has been do more than illuminate the imperfections driven to discover those of conduct, and that cannot be remedied, the aspirations to lay the foundations of a new moral- that cannot be realized, of man's own naity.

ture. But in this sadness, this conscious

ness of the limitation of man, this sense of Let us take these points separately; (490

an open secret which he cannot penetrate, and first, what great ideas has natural

lies the essence of all religion; and the atknowledge introduced into men's minds?

tempt to embody it in the forms fur- (540 I cannot but think at the foundations of all natural knowledge were laid when higher theologies.

nished by the intellect is the origin of the the reason of man first came face to face with the facts of Nature; when the savage

Thus it seems impossible to imagine but

that the foundations of all knowledgefirst learned that the fingers of one hand

secular or sacred—were laid when intelliare fewer than those of both; that it is shorter to cross a stream than to head it; remained for long ages so slight and feeble

gence dawned, though the superstructure that a stone stops where it is unless (500 it be moved, and that it drops from the almost any general view respecting the

as to be compatible with the existence of hand which lets it go; that light and heat

mode of governance of the universe. (550 come and go with the sun; that sticks burn

No doubt, from the first, there were ceraway in a fire; that plants and animals tain phenomena which, to the rudest mind, grow and die; that if he struck his fellow

presented a constancy of occurrence, and savage a blow he would make him angry, and perhaps get a blow in return, while suggested that a fixed order ruled, at any he offered him a fruit he would please of Fetish worshippers ever imagined that a

rate, among them. I doubt if the grossest him, and perhaps receive a fish in exchange. When men had acquired this much (510 fall, or that a fruit had a god within it to

stone must have a god within it to make it knowledge, the outlines, rude though they make it taste sweet. With regard to such were, of mathematics, of physics, of chemis

matters as these, it is hardly question- 1560 try, of biology, of moral, economical, and

able that mankind from the first took political science, were sketched. Nor did

strictly positive and scientific views. the germ of religion fail when science began to bud. Listen to words which,

But, with respect to all the less familiar though new, are yet three thousand years cultured man, no doubt, has always taken

occurrences which present themselves, unold:

himself as the standard of comparison, as “... When in heaven the stars about the the centre and measure of the world; nor

could he well avoid doing so. And finding Look beautiful, when all the winds are that his apparently uncaused will has a laid,

1520 powerful effect in giving rise to many 1570 And every height comes out, and jutting occurrences, he naturally enough ascribed peak

other and greater events to other and And valley, and the immeasurable heavens greater volitions, and came to look upon Break open to their highest, and all the stars the world and all that therein is, as the Shine, and the shepherd gladdens in his product of the volitions of persons like

himself, but stronger, and capable of being

appeased or angered, as he himself might If the half savage Greek could share our

be soothed or irritated. Through such feelings thus far, it is irrational to doubt

conceptions of the plan and working of Need it be said that this is Tennyson's English for Homer's Greek? (Huxley)

the universe all mankind have passed, (580


heart.” 1

or are passing. And we may now consider trine that all matter has weight, and that what has been the effect of the improvement the force which produces weight is coof natural knowledge on the views of men i extensive with the universe, -in short, who have reached this stage, and who have to the theory of universal gravitation begun to cultivate natural knowledge with and endless force. While learning how no desire but that of “increasing God's to handle gases led to the discovery of (640 honor and bettering man's estate."

oxygen, and to modern chemistry, and For example, what could seem wiser, to the notion of the indestructibility of from a mere material point of view, more matter. innocent, from a theological one, to (590 Again, what simpler, or more absolutely an ancient people, than that they should practical, than the attempt to keep the learn the exact succession of the seasons, axle of a wheel from heating when the as warnings for their husbandmen; or the wheel turns around very fast? How useful position of the stars, as guides to their for carters and gig drivers to know somerude navigators? But what has grown out thing about this; and how good were it, of this search for natural knowledge of so if any ingenious person would find out (650 merely useful a character? You all know the cause of such phenomena, and thence the reply. Astronomy,—which of all educe a general remedy for them. Such sciences has filled men's minds with gen- an ingenious person was Count Rumford; eral ideas of a character most foreign (600 and he and his successors have landed us to their daily experience, and has, more in the theory of the persistence, or indethan any other, rendered it impossible for structibility, of force. And in the infinitely them to accept the beliefs of their fathers. minute, as in the infinitely great, the Astronomy,—which tells them that this seekers after natural knowledge of the so vast and seemingly solid earth is but kinds called physical and chemical, have an atom among atoms, whirling, no man everywhere found a definite order and (660 knows whither, through illimitable space; succession of events which seem never to which demonstrates that what we call the be infringed. peaceful heaven above us, is but that space, And how has it fared with “ Physick” filled by an infinitely subtle matter (610 and Anatomy? Have the anatomist, the whose particles are seething and surging, physiologist, or the physician, whose

, like the waves of an angry sea;

which opens business it has been to devote themselves up to us infinite regions where nothing is assiduously to that eminently practical known, or ever seems to have been known, and direct end, the alleviation of the but matter and force, operating according sufferings of mankind,-have they been to rigid rules; which leads us to contem- able to confine their vision more ab- (670 plate phenomena the very nature of which solutely to the strictly useful? demonstrates that they must have had they are the worst offenders of all. For a beginning, and that they must have an if the astronomer has set before us the end, but the very nature of which also [620 | infinite magnitude of space, and the pracproves that the beginning was, to our con- tical eternity of the duration of the uniceptions of time, infinitely remote, and verse; if

verse; if the physical and chemical that the end is as immeasurably distant. philosophers have demonstrated the in

But it is not alone those who pursue finite minuteness of its constituent parts, astronomy who ask for bread and receive and the practical eternity of matter and ideas. What more harmless than the of force; and if both have alike pro- (680 attempt to lift and distribute water by claimed the universality of a definite and pumping it; what more absolutely and predicable order and succession of events, grossly utilitarian? Yet out of pumps the workers in biology have not only acgrew the discussions about Nature's (630 cepted all these, but have added more abhorrence of a vacuum; and then it was startling theses of their own. For, as discovered that Nature does not abhor a the astronomers discover in the earth no vacuum, but that air has weight; and centre of the universe, but an eccentric that notion paved the way for the doc- speck, so the naturalists find man to be no centre of the living world, but one an immeasurable series of predecessors. amidst endless modifications of life; (690 Moreover, every step they have made in and as the astronomer observes the mark natural knowledge has tended to extend of practically endless time set upon the and rivet in their minds the conception arrangements of the solar system, so the of a definite order of the universe—which

a student of life finds the records of ancient is embodied in what are called, by an unforms of existence peopling the world for happy metaphor, the laws of Nature and ages, which, in relation to human expe- to narrow the range and loosen the (750 rience, are infinite.

force of men's belief in spontaneity, or Furthermore, the physiologist finds life in changes other than such as arise out to be as dependent for its manifestation on of that definite order itself. particular molecular arrangements as 1700 Whether these ideas are well or ill any physical or chemical phenomenon; and founded is not the question. No one wherever he extends his researches, fixed or- can deny that they exist, and have been der and unchanging causation reveal them- the inevitable outgrowth of the improveselves, as plainly as in the rest of Nature. ment of natural knowledge. And if so, it

Nor can I find that any other fate has cannot be doubted that they are changing awaited the germ of Religion. Arising, the form of men's most cherished and 1760 like all other kinds of knowledge, out of most important convictions. the action and interaction of man's mind, with that which is not man's mind, it And as regards the second point-the has taken the intellectual coverings of (710 extent to which the improvement of Fetishism or Polytheism; of Theism or natural knowledge has remodelled and Atheism; of Superstition or Rationalism. altered what may be termed the intelWith these, and their relative merits and lectual ethics of men,—what are among the demerits, I have nothing to do; but this moral convictions most fondly held by it is needful for my purpose to say, that barbarous and semi-barbarous people? if the, religion of the present differs from They are the convictions that authority that of the past, it is because the theology is the soundest basis of belief; that [770 of the present has become more scientific merit attaches to a readiness to believe; than that of the past; because it has not that the doubting disposition is a bad one, only renounced idols of wood and (720 and scepticism a sin; that when good auidols of stone, but begins to see the neces- thority has pronounced what is to be sity of breaking in pieces the idols built believed, and faith has accepted it, reason up of books and traditions and finespun ec- has no further duty. There are many exclesiastical cobwebs: and of cherishing the cellent persons who yet hold by these noblest and most human of man's emotions, principles, and it is not my present busiby worship “for the most part of the silent ness, or intention, to discuss their views. sort” at the altar of the Unknown. All I wish to bring clearly before your (780

Such are a few of the new conceptions minds is the unquestionable fact, that the implanted in our minds by the improve- improvement of natural knowledge is efment of natural knowledge. Men (730 fected by methods which directly give the have acquired the ideas of the practically lie to all these convictions, and assume infinite extent of the universe and of its the exact reverse of each to be true. practical eternity; they are familiar with The improver of natural knowledge the conception that our earth is but an absolutely refuses to acknowledge auinfinitesimal fragment of that part of the thority, as such. For him, scepticism is universe which can be seen; and that, the highest of duties; blind faith the one nevertheless, its duration is, as compared unpardonable sin. And it cannot be (790 with our standards of time, infinite. They otherwise, for every great advance in have further acquired the idea that natural knowledge has involved the abman is but one of innumerable forms (740 solute rejection of authority, the cherishof life now existing on the globe, and that ing of the keenest scepticism, the annihilathe present existences are but the last of tion of the spirit of blind faith; and the

[ocr errors]

most ardent votary of science holds his as “health,” as used with reference to firmest convictions, not because the men the animal frame, and “virtue," with he most venerates hold them; not because reference to our moral nature. I am not their verity is testified by portents and able to find such a term;-talent, ability, wonders; but because his experience (800 genius, belong distinctly to the raw mateaches him that whenever he chooses terial, which is the subject-matter, (10 to bring these convictions into contact not to that excellence which is the result with their primary source, Nature of exercise and training. When we turn, whenever he thinks fit to test them by indeed, to the particular kinds of intelappealing to experiment and to observa- lectual perfection, words are forthcoming tion-Nature will confirm them. The man for our purpose, as, for instance, judgof science has learned to believe in justi- ment, taste, and skill; yet even these fication, not by faith, but by verification. belong, for the most part, to powers or

Thus, without for a moment pretend- | habits bearing upon practice or upon art, ing to despise the practical results of [810 and not to any perfect condition of the improvement of natural knowledge, and intellect, considered in itself. Wisdom, (20

neficial influence on material civiliza- again, is certainly a more comprehensive tion, it must, I think, be admitted that word than any other, but it has a direct ,

a the great ideas, some of which I have relation to conduct, and to human life. indicated, and the ethical spirit which Knowledge, indeed, and science, express I have endeavored to sketch, in the few purely intellectual ideas, but still not a moments which remained at my disposal, state or quality of the intellect; for knowlconstitute the real and permanent sig- / edge, in its ordinary sense, is but one of nificance of natural knowledge.

its circumstances, denoting a possession If these ideas be destined, as I be- (820 or a habit; and science has been approlieve they are, to be more and more firmly priated to the subject matter of the 130 established as the world grows older; intellect, instead of belonging in English, if that spirit be fated, as I believe it is, as it ought to do, to the intellect itself. to extend itself into all departments The consequence is that, on an occasion of human thought, and to become co- like this, many words are necessary, in extensive with the range of knowledge; order, first, to bring out and convey what if, as our race approaches its maturity, it surely is no difficult idea in itself,--that of discovers, as I believe it will, that there the cultivation of the intellect as an end; is but one kind of knowledge and but one next, in order to recommend what surely method of acquiring it; then we, who (830 is no unreasonable object; and lastly, to are still children, may justly feel it our describe and make the mind realize 40

( highest duty to recognize the advisable the particular perfection in which that ness of improving natural knowledge, and object consists. Every one knows pracso to aid ourselves and our successors tically what are the constituents of health in our course towards the noble goal or of virtue; and every one recognizes which lies before mankind.

health and virtue as ends to be pursued;
it is otherwise with intellectual excel-

lence, and this must be my excuse, if I JOHN HENRY, CARDINAL NEWMAN

seem to anyone to be bestowing a good (1801-1890)

deal of labor on a preliminary matter.

In default of a recognized term, I (50 THE IDEA OF A UNIVERSITY

have called the perfection or virtue of

the intellect by the name of philosophy, KNOWLEDGE

IN RELATION TO philosophical knowledge, enlargement of

mind, or illumination; terms which are It were well if the English, like the not uncommonly given to it by writers Greek language, possessed some definite of this day: but, whatever name we beword to express, simply and generally, stow on it, it is, I believe, as a matter intellectual proficiency or perfection, such of history, the business of a university

[ocr errors]




[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »