Abbildungen der Seite

said is witnessed for by my highest faculty, and is far more certain to me than anything in the phenomenal sphere. And this transcendent faculty supplements the testimony of physical science, and lightens, as nothing else can, “the burden and the mystery of all this unintelligible world.” Darwinism tells me of law reigning throughout this universe of pain and death. Conscience replies, “Yes; supremely just law. And that is enough for thee to know. Cease thy foolish pratings of happiness and unhappiness. Cease thy blind guessings at insoluble enigmas. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?' although · His way is in the sea, and Ilis paths in the great waters, and His footsteps are not known.”

I venture to commend these considerations to earnest men of all religions, and especially to those among

them-no small number—who rage furiously together against the doctrine of Mr. Darwin without really comprehending it. I would beg of such to lay to heart the dictate of Hebrew wisdom, “ First understand, then argue.” And to this precept of the Talmud they might well add the reflection of the Hindu sacred writer, “A fact is not altered by a hundred texts." them to weigh the responsibility attaching to those who seek to link living spiritual faith to dead physical theories, as though He whom they adore

I would urge iv.]




as Deus Scientiarum could be served by opposition to any science. I would even ask a certain school of Christian apologists to reconsider some of their favourite positions ; for example, the conception of creation formulated, with unconscious irreverence, by a popular American divine, that

Almighty God once took some nothing, and in a week produced the universe as it stands, and one man.” Greswell, I remember, in his Fasti Catholici, is at the pains to fix the precise date of this event; it occurred, he tells, in the autumn of B.C. 4004. Is it in vain to set before such minds the majestic belief to which Mr. Darwin guides us, of uniform law, working through all time and all space, for the development of order and beauty from the formless void, of life and intelligence from primordial nebulosity; and even now working on to vaster issues ? Again, why should good people cry,

" he blasphemeth !" when the naturalist displays the derivation of our race from inferior types of animal life, and yet acquiesce unmurmuringly, or even joyously, in the process of human generation which --classic passages of Jeremy Taylor, of Sterne, of Schiller, point it out all too plainly-exhibits a still more ignominious starting-point for ourselves ? Surely Mr. Darwin is well warranted when he contends, " It is not more irreligious to explain the origin of man, as a distinct species, through the laws of variation and natural selection, than to explain the birth of an individual through the laws

y Where can i be toodaderful edition? Why are weighty quoted oprineta not referenced?





of ordinary reproduction. The birth of the species and of the individual,” he adds, in wise and pious words, “ are equally part of the grand sequence of events which the mind refuses to accept as the result of blind chance. The understanding revolts at such a conclusion.” 'Yes. But it revolts, too, at the ineptitudes of defenders of the faith who know not how to employ the language of science and of reason : that is of truth. Admirable is the

saying of St. Augustine, written, indeed, in a different connection, but universally applicable: “ Bonum est homini ut eum veritas vincat volentem, quia malum est homini ut eum veritas vincat invitum. Nam ipsa vincat necesse est, sive negantem sive confitentem.”



We saw in a previous chapter that very excellent things are spoken of Naturalism by the distinguished man of letters whose exposition of the Revolutionary Gospel we followed at some length. Its special merits Mr. Morley accounts to be these: that it humbles the “futile vanity” of men in regarding themselves as “the end and object of creation ; and that it "supplies them with the most powerful of motives for the energetic use of the most powerful of their endowments.” Acquiescence in it he commends as “wise and not inglorious; ” and he predicts a great future for it in the sphere of aesthetics. “ Naturalism in art,” indeed, he appears to consider one of the " notes” of the Revolution.

Some time ago, finding myself in the city of Paris, I called these utterances to remembrance, and turned my feet unto the Ambigu Theatre, where, as the newspapers unanimously testified, the greatest triumph as yet achieved by Naturalism in art


was to be witnessed. The piece represented was M. Zola's Nana, adapted for the stage by M. Busnach. The aim of the playwright had been to put the story of the courtesan's life and death before the audience with complete “reality.” For this purpose, the resources of the stage decorator had been taxed to the utmost, the result being nine tableaux, beyond which, it was proudly contended, the force of scenic illusion could no further go. The first exhibited a cabinet de toilette, where the heroine was revealed to us "au saut du lit, décoiffée, en peignoir de damas foncé sur une jupe de satin

The second introduced us to the salon of a great lady, much commended by Parisian journalists as a marvellous reproduction. Not less marvellous was the third tableau, which took us behind the scenes of the Théâtre des Variétés; while the fourth, which presented the ruins of Chaumont, with the paths winding through the vines, the rustic bridge over a stream of real water into which a real man fell—happily he was clad in mackintosh underneath-to say nothing of artificial sunlight and an artificial nightingale, excited the spectators to almost lyrical enthusiasm, and was with one voice glorified as of a quite adorable poetry. Next came a drawing-room furnished à la japonaise, a species of upholstery just then in the height of fashion; after that a racecourse with real horses, and then a boudoir hung with real blue satin. In the eighth tableau a noble town house was

« ZurückWeiter »