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Title: Science and Morals and Other Essays
Author: Windle, Bertram Coghill Alan, Sir, 1858-1929
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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M.A., M.D., Sc.D., LL.D., F.R.S., F.S.A., K.S.G.


       *       *       *       *       *




  September 1919

       *       *       *       *       *

These Essays have all in one form or another appeared elsewhere; and I
have to thank the Editors of the _Dublin Review_, _Catholic World_,
_America_, and _Studies_ respectively for kind permission to reproduce
them. Some of them appear as they were published, others have been
almost rewritten.

          B. C. A. W.

       *       *       *       *       *



   I. Science and Morals                               1
     § 1. The Gospel of Science                        1
     § 2. Science as a Rule of Life                   14

  II. Theophobia and Nemesis                          26
     § 1. Theophobia: its Cause                       26
     § 2. Theophobia: its Nemesis                     44

 III. Within and Without the System                   56

  IV. Science in "Bondage"                            74

   V. Science and the War                            106

  VI. Heredity and "Arrangement"                     125

 VII. "Special Creation"                             142

VIII. Catholic Writers and Spontaneous Generation    152

  IX. A Theory of Life                               160

      Index of Names                                 175

      General Index                                  177

       *       *       *       *       *




In the days before the war the Annual Address delivered by the President
of the British Association was wont to excite at least a mild interest
in the breasts of the reading public. It was a kind of Encyclical from
the reigning pontiff of science, and since that potentate changed every
year there was some uncertainty as to his subject and its treatment, and
there was this further piquant attraction, wanting in other and
better-known Encyclicals, that the address of one year might not merely
contradict but might even exhibit a lofty contempt for that or for those
which had immediately preceded it.

During the three years immediately preceding the war we had excellent
examples of all these things. In the first of them we were treated to a
somewhat belated utterance in opposition to Vitalism. Its arguments were
mostly based upon what even to the tyro in chemistry seemed to be rather
shaky foundations. Such indeed they proved to be, since the deductions
drawn from the behaviour of colloids and from Leduc's pretty toys were
promptly disclaimed by leading chemists in the course of the few days
after the delivery of the address.

Further, the President for the year 1914 in his address (Melbourne, p.
18)[1] told us that the problem of the origin of life, which, let us
remind ourselves, in the 1912 address was on the point of solution,
"still stands outside the range of scientific investigation," and that
when the spontaneous formation of formaldehyde is talked of as a first
step in that direction he is reminded of nothing so much as of Harry
Lauder, in the character of a schoolboy, "pulling his treasures from his
pocket--'That's a wassher--for makkin motor-cars!'" Nineteen hundred and
twelve pinned its faith on matter and nothing else; Nineteen hundred and
thirteen assured us that "occurrences now regarded as occult can be
examined and reduced to order by the methods of science carefully and
persistently applied."[2] Further, the examination of those facts had
convinced the deliverer of the address "that memory and affection are
not limited to that association with matter by which alone they can
manifest themselves here and now, and that personality persists beyond
bodily death." Nineteen hundred and fourteen proclaimed telepathy a
"harmless toy," which, with necromancy, has taken the place of
"eschatology and the inculcation of a ferocious moral code." And yet it
is on telepathy, if we are to believe the daily papers, that Sir Oliver
Lodge largely relies for his proofs. Here, at any rate, is a pleasing
diversity of opinion which fully bears out what was said at the
beginning of this paper. It is, however, with the third address, or
rather pair of addresses, that we are concerned; for the meeting of
1914, not only was the first to be held at the Antipodes, but also the
first to be honoured with two addresses--one in Melbourne, the other in

Their deliverer is a very distinguished and a very independent man of
Science. It was he who insisted, at a time when the domination of a very
rigid form of Darwinism was much stronger than it is to-day, that the
picture of Nature as seen by us is a Discontinuous picture, though
Discontinuity does not exist in the environment. And it was he who asked
whether the Discontinuity might not be in the living thing itself, and
prefixed to the monumental work[3] in which he discussed this question
the significant text from the Bible: "All flesh is not the same flesh;
but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another
of fishes, and another of birds." Nearer to our own times, he was one of
a small body of men of science who almost synchronously disinterred the
forgotten works of Abbot Mendel, and proclaimed them to the world, as
containing discoveries of the first value. He was thus always something
of a "Herald of Revolt," and maintains that character in these
addresses. "We go to Darwin for his incomparable collection of facts. We
would fain emulate his scholarship, his width and his power of
exposition, but to us he speaks no more with philosophical authority. We
read his scheme of evolution as we would those of Lucretius or Lamarck,
delighting in their simplicity and their courage" (M., p. 9).
"Naturally, we turn aside from generalities. It is no time to discuss
the origin of the Mollusca or of Dicotyledons, while we are not even
sure how it came to pass that _Primula obconica_ has in twenty-five
years produced its abundant new forms almost under our eyes" (_ib._,
_ib._). And so on. To take one other example: there is nothing which was
more insisted upon by Darwinians than the fact that all the various
races of domestic fowl known to us came from _Gallus bankiva_, the
jungle-fowl of India; in fact I think I have seen that form enthroned
amongst its supposed descendants in more than one museum. "So we are
taught; but try to reconstruct the steps in their evolution and you
realise your hopeless ignorance" (M., p. 11). If we cannot construct a
"tree" for fowls, how absurd to adventure into the deeper recesses of
Phylogeny. If all that Professor Bateson says is true, is not Driesch
right when he speaks of "the phantasy christened Phylogeny"?[4]

The addresses, however, were not solely concerned with throwing contempt
upon views which were yesterday of great respectability, and which even
to-day are as gospel to many. They devoted themselves chiefly to the
consideration of the question of heredity, viewed, as might be expected,
from the Mendelian standpoint.

Now, at this point it may be said that there are at least two things
which we should like to know about heredity--the vehicle and the laws.
It is clear that we might know something, perhaps even a good deal,
about one of these without knowing anything about the other.

Such in fact is the case; for we know, it may fairly be said, nothing
about the vehicle. There are two very widely distinct opinions on this
point. There is the mnemic theory, recently brought before us by the
republication of Butler's most interesting and suggestive work with its
translations of Hering's original paper and Von Hartmann's discourse and
its very illuminating introduction by Professor Hartog.[5]

And there is the continuity theory which teaches that in some way or
another the characteristics of the parents and other ancestors are
physical parts of the germ. An attempt to explain this was made by
Darwin in his theory of Pangenesis. Others have essayed what Yves Delage
calls "micromeristic" interpretations. As to all of these it may be said
that when they are reduced to figures the explanation becomes of so
complex a character as utterly to break down. We shall see that
Professor Bateson adopts a third very nebulous explanation. But as
regards the laws of heredity there is something else to be said; for
here we really do know something, and that something we owe in large
measure to the innumerable experiments which have been made on Mendelian
lines since the re-discovery of the methods first adopted by the
celebrated Abbot of Brünn. It is no intention of the writer of this
paper to describe the Mendelian theory,[6] which is well known, at least
to all biological readers, though one or two points in connection with
it may yet have to be touched upon.

The point of cardinal importance in connection with Mendelism is that it
does reveal a law capable of being numerically stated, and apparently
applicable to a large number of isolated factors in living things.
Indeed it was this attention to isolated factors which was the first and
essential part of Mendel's method. For example, others had been content
to look at the pea as a whole. Mendel applied his analytic method to
such things as the colour of the pea, the smooth or wrinkled character
of the skin which covered it, its dwarfness or height, and so on.

Now, the behaviour of these isolated factors seems to throw a light even
upon the vehicle of heredity. We often talk of "blood" and "mixing of
blood," as if blood had anything to do with the question, when really
the Biblical expression "the seed of Abraham" is much more to the point.
For it is in the seed that these factors must be, whether they be mnemic
or physical. Professor Bateson (M., p. 5) thinks it obvious that they
are transmitted by the spermatozoon and the ovum; but it seems to him
"unlikely that they are in any simple or literal sense material
particles." And he goes on to say, and this, I think, is one of his most
important statements: "I suspect rather that their properties depend on
some phenomenon of arrangement."

Now, if there be a law behind the phenomena made clear to us by
Mendelian experiments (as Mendelians are never tired of asserting), then
it becomes in no way impertinent to ask how that law came into
existence, and who formulated it. Darwinism, according to Driesch,[7]
"explained how by throwing stones one could build houses of a typical
style." In other words, it "claimed to show how something purposively
constructed could arise by absolute chance; at any rate this holds of
Darwinism as codified in the seventies and eighties." Of course the
Blind Chance doctrine breaks down utterly when it comes to be applied to
selected cases, and nothing more definitely disposes of it than the very
definite law which emerges as the result of the Mendelian experiments.
That is obvious to the prophets of Mendelism; but, whilst they admit
this, they will have nothing to say to the lawgiver. That is the
"rankest metaphysics," as Dr. Johnstone puts it,[8] or "mysticism," as
others prefer to call it. And yet nothing is more clear than the
logical sequence that, if you have a law, someone must have made it,
and if you look upon something as "a phenomenon of arrangement," someone
must have arranged it. But for reasons not obvious nor confessed, there
is an objection to make any such admission. Perhaps it is the taint of
the monism of the latter half of the last century which still persists.

At any rate, as I have elsewhere pointed out, there is a most curious
passage in another paper by the same author in which he says: "With the
experimental proof that variation consists largely in the unpacking and
repacking of an original complexity, it is not so certain as we might
like to think that the order of these events is not pre-determined." The
writer hastens to denounce the horrid heresy on the brink of which he
finds himself hesitating, by adding that he sees "no ground whatever for
holding such a view," though "in the light of modern research it
scarcely looks so absurdly improbable as before."[9] It is curious that
the writer in question does not seem to have been in any way influenced
by the eliminative argument so potent in connection with the discussion
on Vitalism. We ask for an explanation of the occurrences--say of
regeneration. We find that no physical explanation in the least meets
the needs of the case, and we are consequently obliged to look for it in
something differing from the operations of chemistry and physics. Of
this argument Dr. Johnstone[10] says: "It is almost impossible to
overestimate the appeal which it makes to the investigator."

Now, this matter of "arrangement" or of "pre-determination," when put
forward as an explanation, even tentatively, necessitates a step
further. That step might possibly be in the direction of pantheism,
though, according to Driesch,[11] pantheism is the doctrine "that
reality is a something which makes itself ('_dieu se fait_,' in the
words of Bergson), whilst theism would be any theory according to which
the manifoldness of material reality is predetermined in an immaterial
way." And he concludes "that those who regard the thesis of the theory
of order as necessary for everything that is or can be, must accept
theism, and are not allowed to speak of '_dieu qui se fait_.'" It is
difficult to see how anyone who has studied the rigid order exhibited by
experiments on Mendelian lines can resist the logic of this argument
unless indeed he takes a place on Plate's platform, which admits that a
law entails a lawgiver, but declares that of the Lawgiver of Natural
Laws we can know nothing.[12]

There is a further point in connection with Mendelian theories which is
worth noting in this connection. It would appear that no new factor is
ever brought into being, that is, no _addition_ is ever made by
variation. According to this theory the things which appear to be
added--a new colour or a new scent--were there all the time. They were
"stopped down" or inhibited by some other factor, which, when
eliminated, allows them to come into play, and thus to become obvious to
the observer from whom they had been hidden. Thus, Professor Bateson
(M., p. 17) has confidence "that the artistic gifts of mankind will
prove to be due, not to something added to the make-up of an ordinary
man, but to the absence of factors which in the normal person inhibit
the development of these gifts. They are almost beyond doubt to be
looked upon as _releases_ of powers normally suppressed. The instrument
is there, but it is 'stopped down.'"

That all sorts of things may exist in a very small compass no doubt
is true. Professor Bateson reminds us that Shakespeare was once
"a speck of protoplasm not so big as a small pin's head." The
difficulty--insuperable on ordinary monistic lines--is how all these
things got into the germ if no additions ever take place. It was so
difficult to account, for example, for artistic appreciation on the part
of man or for gifts of an artistic character that Huxley was fain to
describe them as gratuitous; but on this showing all characters are
gratuitous in the sense that they are not acquired. We may reasonably
inquire not merely how all these characters and factors got themselves
"arranged" or "packed," but where they came from, and how they came to
be in the germ at all, matters on which we receive no information in
these addresses. No doubt the author of the addresses would say that it
was no part of his business to explain this matter; that he took this
system of Nature as a going system and did his best to explain it as
such and without attempting, perhaps even without desiring, to explain
how it got a-going. If that be the case, and if ignorance on this head
must be his confession, it is a little difficult to understand the
confidence with which he sets himself to discuss the "extraordinary and
far-reaching changes in public opinion [which] are coming to pass." We
shall find these, as we pass them in review, to be extraordinary enough,
though not very new.

In the first place, "genetic research will make it possible for a nation
to elect by what sort of beings it will be represented not very many
generations hence, much as a farmer can decide whether his byres shall
be full of shorthorns or Herefords. It will be very surprising indeed if
some nation does not make trial of this new power. They may make awful
mistakes, but I think they will try" (S., p. 8). It is curious how the
war, which had just commenced when these addresses were being delivered,
has absolutely disposed, or ought to have disposed, of some of the
prophecies of the President. Nothing, at any rate, seems more certain
than that one result of this most disastrous struggle will be an urgent
demand by all the States engaged in it for at least as many male
children as the mothers of each country can supply, without special
regard to their other characters, breedable or not breedable. We are
even told that Germany is resorting to expedients which cannot be
justified on Christian principles to fill her depleted homes. Whether
this be true or not the fact remains that nothing is now more to be
desired by all the combatant nations than what we call in Ireland "long
families." But even if there had been no war, there is one other factor
which makes it quite certain that no country ever will try, or if it
ventures to try, will ever succeed in any such experiment, and that
factor, forgotten by philosophers of this kind, is human nature. Mr.
Frankfort Moore years ago wrote a pleasant story, called "The Marriage
Lease," in which doctrinaire legislation of a somewhat similar kind was
described, and its inevitable failure most amusingly depicted. The war
disposes of another of the President's maxims (S., p. 10), that the
decline in the birth-rate of a country is nothing to be grieved about,
and that "the slightest acquaintance with biology" shows that the
"inference may be wholly wrong," which asserts that "a nation in which
population is not rapidly increasing must be in a decline" (S., p. 10).
Human nature was neglected in the first-mentioned case, and here it is
the turn of history to pass into the shade, history which, _pace_ the
President, has really a good deal more bearing upon a question of this
kind than the "school-boy natural history" which he thinks capable of
settling it. Thus we advance from breeding to Malthusianism. It is
perhaps not wonderful that our next step should be the quiet, and of
course painless, extinction of the unfit.

    "Thou shalt not kill, but needs't not strive
     Officiously to keep alive."

Thus wrote Clough; but our author, it appears, would go further than
this. "The preservation of an infant so gravely diseased that it can
never be happy or come to any good is something very like wanton
cruelty. In private life few men defend such interference" (S. 10). And
so such unfortunates should be got rid of, and will be "as soon as
scientific knowledge becomes common property"--when "views more
reasonable, and, I may add, more humane are likely to prevail." Lest we
should be depressed by this massacre of the innocents, we are told that
"man is just beginning to know himself for what he is--a rather
long-lived animal, with great powers of enjoyment if he does not
deliberately forgo them" (S., p. 9). In the past, poor fool that he has
been, he has not availed himself of his opportunities: "Hitherto
superstition and mythical ideas of sin have predominantly controlled
these powers." Let us, however, take heart: "Mysticism will not die out;
for those strange fancies knowledge is no cure; but their forms may
change, and mysticism as a force for the suppression of joy is happily
losing its hold on the modern world" (_ib._, _ib._). Let us eat and
drink--and, it may be added, sin--for to-morrow we die. Such is the new
gospel of science, an old enough gospel, tried and found wanting years
before its latest prophet arose to proclaim it to the world. Surely no
more ridiculous utterance ever was made; for its author evidently did
not pause to consider that the sins which make life pleasant to some
(for example, Thuggery) are apt to have quite another aspect to those
through whose victimisation the pleasure is obtained. There is also here
such a thing as the conscience, which has to be taken into account. Even
the biological hedonist must originally possess such a thing and, it may
be supposed, must deal with it as he would with the gravely diseased
children, and as something which would "predominantly control his powers
of enjoyment."

Seriously, it may be doubted if a more pagan code of morals has ever
been laid down, and this in the Encyclical of Science for the year, a
code bad enough to make poor Mendel turn in his grave could he--good,
honest man--be aware of it, and imagine that he was in any way
responsible for it, which, by the way, is in no way the case.


Saint or sinner, some rule of life we must have, even if we are wholly
unconscious of the fact. A spiritual director will help us to map out a
course of action which will assist us to shake off some little of the
dust of this dusty world; and a doctor will lay down for us a dietary
which will help us to elude, for a time at least, the insidious onsets
of the gout. Even if we take no formal steps, spiritual or corporeal,
some rule of life we must achieve for ourselves. We must, for example,
make up our minds whether we are to open our ears and our purse to tales
of misery, or are to join ourselves with those whose rule of life it is
to keep that which they have for themselves. What is true of each of us
is none the less true of each and every race--even more true; for each
race must make up its mind definitely as to which rule it will follow.
And at the moment there is still doubt and indecision in this matter.

"The moral problem that confronts Europe to-day is: What sort of
righteousness are we, individually and collectively, to pursue? Is the
new righteousness to be realised in a return to the old brutality? Shall
the last values be as the first? Must ethical process conform to natural
process as exemplified by the life of any animal that secures dominancy
at the expense of the weaker members of its kind?"[13] Such are the
questions raised by a man of science occupying the Presidential Chair of
an important society and speaking to that society as its President.

As to the Christian ideals little need be said, since we know very well
what they are, and know this most especially, that practically all of
them are in direct opposition to what we may call the ideals of Nature,
and exercise all their influence in frustrating such laws as that of
Natural Selection. "Nature's Insurgent Son," as Sir Ray Lankester calls
him,[14] is at constant war with Nature, and when we come to consider
the matter carefully, in that respect most fully differentiates himself
from all other living things, none of which make any attempt to control
the forces of Nature for their own advantage. "Nature's inexorable
discipline of death to those who do not rise to her standard--survival
and parentage for those alone who do--has been from the earliest times
more and more definitely resisted by the will of man. If we may for the
purpose of analysis, as it were, extract man from the rest of Nature, of
which he is truly a product and a part, then we may say that man is
Nature's rebel. Where Nature says 'Die!' man says 'I will live.'"[15]

To this it may be added that, under the influence of Christianity, man
goes a step further and says: "I will endeavour that as many others as
may be shall live, and live happy, healthy lives, and shall not untimely
die." The law of Natural Selection could not be met by more direct
opposition. I have said that this is under the influence of
Christianity, yet the impulse seems to be older than that, to be part of
that moral law which excited Kant's admiration, which he coupled with
the sight of the starry heavens, an impulse, we can scarcely doubt,
implanted in the heart of man by God Himself. It is a remarkable fact
that in many--some would say most--of the less civilised races of
mankind we find these social virtues, which some would have us believe
are degenerate features foisted on to the race by an enervating

Dr. Marett has carefully examined into this matter, and his conclusions
are of the greatest interest.[16]

     "My own theory about the peasant, as I know him, and about
     people of lowly culture in general so far as I have learnt
     to know about them, is that the ethics of amity belong to
     their natural and normal mood, whereas the ethics of enmity,
     being but 'as the shadow of a passing fear,' are relatively
     accidental. Thus to the thesis that human charity is a
     by-product, I retort squarely with the counter-thesis that
     human hatred is a by-product. The brute that lurks in our
     common human nature will break bounds sometimes; but I
     believe that whenever man, be he savage or civilised, is at
     home to himself, his pleasure and pride is to play the good
     neighbour. It may be urged by way of objection that I
     overestimate the amenities, whether economic or ethical, of
     the primitive state; that a hard life is bound to produce a
     hard man. I am afraid that the psychological necessity of
     the alleged correlation is by no means evident to me. Surely
     the hard-working individual can find plenty of scope for his
     energies without needing, let us say, to beat his wife. Nor
     are the hard-working peoples of the earth especially
     notorious for their inhumanity. Thus the Eskimo, whose life
     is one long fight against the cold, has the warmest of
     hearts. Mr. Stefanson says of his newly discovered 'Blonde
     Eskimo,' a people still living in the stone age: 'They are
     the equals of the best of our own race in good breeding,
     kindness, and the substantial virtues.'[17] Or again, heat
     instead of cold may drive man to the utmost limit of his
     natural affections. In the deserts of Central Australia,
     where the native is ever threatened by a scarcity of food,
     his constant preoccupation is not how to prey on his
     companions. Rather he unites with them in guilds and
     brotherhoods, so that they may feast together in the spirit,
     sustaining themselves with the common hope and mutual
     suggestion of better luck to come. But there is no need to
     go so far afield for one's proofs. I appeal to those who
     have made it their business to be intimate with the folk of
     our own countryside. Is it not the fact that unselfishness
     in regard to the sharing of the necessaries of life is
     characteristic of those who find them most difficult to come
     by? The poor are by no means the least 'rich towards God.'
     At any rate, if poverty sometimes hardens, wealth,
     especially sudden wealth, can harden too, causing arrogance,
     boastfulness, and the bullying temper. 'A proud look, a
     lying tongue, and the shedding of innocent blood'--these go

On the whole, then, we may perhaps conclude that the natural bias of
mankind is towards kindness to his neighbour, however much the brute in
him may sometimes impel him to uncharitable words or actions. And
certainly this natural bias is intensified and made into a binding law
by the teachings of Christ. But there is the other point of view set
forward in the philosophy of Nietzsche--if indeed such writings are
worthy of the name philosophy. "The world is for the superman. Dominancy
within the human kind must be secured at all costs. As for the old
values, they are all wrong. Christian humility is a slavish virtue; so
is Christian charity. Such values have become 'denaturalised.' They are
the by-product of certain primitive activities, which were intended by
Nature to subserve strictly biological ends, but have somehow escaped
from Nature's control and run riot on their own account."

The prophets of this group of ideals, or some such group of ideals, have
no hesitation in telling us how they would direct the affairs of
humanity if they were entrusted with their conduct. It will not be
without interest to consider their plans and to endeavour to form some
sort of an idea of what kind of place the world would be if they had
their way. We can then form our own opinion as to whether a world
conducted on such lines would be in any way a tolerable place for human

First of all we may dwell briefly on Natural Selection as a rule of
life, since it has been put forward as such by quite a number of
persons. Never, let it at once be said, by the great and gentle-hearted
originator of that theory, who during his life had to protest as to the
ignorant and exaggerated ideas which were expressed about it and who,
were he now alive, would certainly be shocked at the teachings which are
supposed to follow from his theory and the dire results which they have

In the first place such a doctrine leads directly to the conclusion that
war, instead of being the curse and disaster which all reasonable
people, not to say all Christians, feel it to be, is, as Bernhardi puts
it, "a biological necessity, a regulative element in the life of mankind
that cannot be dispensed with." It is "the basis of all healthy
development." "Struggle is not merely the destructive but the
life-giving principle. The law of the strong holds good everywhere.
Those forms survive which are able to secure for themselves the most
favourable conditions. The weaker succumb." Humanity has had at times
evidences of the results of this teaching which are not, one may fairly
say, of a kind to commend themselves to any person possessed of a
moderately kindly, not to say of a Christian, disposition. Fortunately,
or unfortunately, we have the opportunity of studying the experiment in
actual operation in a race which, of course in entire ignorance of the
fact, is actually putting into practice the teachings of Natural
Selection, though it must be admitted that the practice has not been
successful, nor does it look like being successful, in raising that race
above the very lowest rung of the ladder of civilisation. Captain
Whiffen[19] has given a very complete and a very interesting account of
the peoples whom he met with during his wanderings in the regions
indicated by the title of his book. And he tells us that "the survival
of the most fit is the very real and the very stern rule of life in the
Amazonian forests. From birth to death it rules the Indians' life and
philosophy. To help to preserve the unfit would often be to prejudice
the chances of the fit. There are no arm-chair sentimentalists to oppose
this very practical consideration. The Indian judges it by his standard
of common sense: why live a life that has ceased to be worth living when
there is no bugbear of a hell to make one cling to the most miserable of
existences rather than risk greater misery?" Let us now see the kind of
life which the author, freed himself no doubt from "the bugbear of
hell," considers eminently sensible--the kind of life of which only an
"arm-chair sentimentalist" would disapprove; a kind of life, it may be
added, which will appear to most ordinarily minded people as being one
of selfishness raised to its highest power.

To begin with the earliest event in life. If a child, on its appearance
in the world, appears to be in any way defective, its mother quietly
kills it and deposits its body in the forest. If the mother dies in
childbirth the child, unless someone takes pity on it and adopts it, is
killed by the father, who, it may be presumed, is indisposed to take the
trouble, perhaps indeed incapable of doing so, of rearing the motherless
babe. That the child, in any case, immediately after birth, is plunged
into cold water, is not perhaps a conscious method of eliminating the
weak, though it must operate in that direction. At a later period of
life should any disease believed to be infectious break out in a tribe,
"those attacked by it are immediately left, even by their closest
relatives, the house is abandoned, and possibly even burnt. Such
derelict houses are no uncommon sight in the forest, grimly desolate
mementoes of possible tragedies." When a person becomes insane, he is
first of all exorcised by the medicine man, and if that fails is put to
death by poison by the same functionary. The sick are dealt with on
similar lines, unless there is or seems to be a probability of speedy
recovery. "Cases of chronic illness meet with no sympathy from the
Indians. A man who cannot hunt or fight is regarded as useless, he is
merely a burden on the community." Under these circumstances he is
either left at home untended or hunted out into the bush to die, or his
end is accelerated by the medicine man. The same fate awaits the aged,
unless they seem to be of value to the tribe on account of their wisdom
and experience.

All these things placed together give us a perfect picture of life under
Natural Selection, and having studied it we may fairly ask whether such
a rule of life is one under which any one of us would like to live. In
every respect it is the antipodes of the Christian rule of life, and of
that rule of life which civilised countries, whether in fact Christian
or not, have derived from Christianity and still practise. The
non-Christian rule of the Indians is one under which might is right and
no real individual liberty exists, all personal rights being sacrificed
to the supposed needs and benefit of the community.

So much from the point of view of Natural Selection, but it would appear
that those who have given up that factor as of anything but a very minor
value, if even that, have also their rule of life founded on their
interpretation of Nature. Thus Professor Bateson, the great exponent of
Mendel's doctrines, who has told us in his Presidential Address to the
British Association that we must think much less highly of Natural
Selection than some would have us do, has, as has been set forth in the
previous section of this essay, his opinion as to the rule of life which
we should follow.

Professor Conklyn, an American enthusiast for extreme eugenistic views,
has also set down in print his ideas as to the lines on which our lives
are to be run under a scientific domination, and these are to be dealt
with in another article.[20] His scheme entails a forcible visit, not,
it may be supposed, to the Altar, but to the Registry Office, for all
persons held to be fit to perpetuate the race, and forcible restraint,
whether by imprisonment or by sterilisation, for all others.

The first thing which all these essays towards a scientific conduct of
life reveal is a total want of perspective, for they proceed on the
hypothesis--which no doubt their authors would defend--that this world
and its concerns are everything, and that the intellectual and physical
improvement of the human race by any measures, however harsh, is the
"one thing needful." But beyond this the persons who hold such views
seem to have entirely overlooked the fact that their proposed State
would be one conducted on principles of the bitterest and most galling
slavery imaginable by the mind of man, a form of slavery that never
could persist if for a moment it be conceded that it could ever come
into operation. The fact is that the whole thing is ludicrous when
looked at from the point of view of common sense, but how few take the
trouble to contemplate these schemes as they would be in operation! Were
they thus to contemplate them, they would see that, apart altogether
from any religious considerations, they are wholly impossible, even from
a purely political point of view. That such ideas are intolerable to
Catholic minds, indeed to any Christian mind, goes without saying.

Driesch (_Science and Philosophy of the Organism_, vol. ii., p. 358) has
pointed out very clearly that "the mechanical theory of life is
incompatible with morality," and that it is impossible to feel "morally"
towards other individuals if one knows that they are machines and
nothing more. Again, Professor Henslow (in _Present Day Rationalism
Critically Examined_, p. 253) very pertinently asks those who discard
all religious considerations and claim to rely for guidance on the
lessons of Nature, "If you have no taste for virtue, why be virtuous at
all, so long as you do not violate the laws of the land?"

Yet, in the face of these surely obvious facts, we find persons making
such absurd claims as that made in a recent book by Rignano, an Italian
writer (_Essays in Scientific Synthesis_, 1917). It is not often that
one meets a book so full of philosophical fallacies as this. "We are
certain of one fact," he says, "that the only organ actually brought
into play to fight immorality is the organ of the collective conscience
and not the religious organ." I suppose no more ludicrously inaccurate
remark ever was set down in print; for, to begin with, the "collective
conscience," whatever that may be, does not exist in Nature, _teste_ the
farmyard and the fowl-run; and again, whatever force is connoted by
those words must have been set agoing--by what? By Nature? Oh, most
emphatically No! Nature has no law against immorality; there is no
Categorical Imperative in Nature commanding us to be chaste or kindly or
considerate or even just. We must go elsewhere if we are to look for
teaching in the virtues. That is the fact that we must keep clearly
before our minds when endeavouring to estimate at their proper value the
nostrums of writers such as those with whose works we have been dealing.

       *       *       *       *       *


  [Footnote 1: Two addresses were delivered in 1914--one in
  Melbourne, the other in Sydney. These will be referred to in
  this article as M. & S.]

  [Footnote 2: Sir Oliver Lodge: _Continuity_, p. 90.]

  [Footnote 3: _Materials for the Study of Variation_, London,

  [Footnote 4: _The History and Theory of Vitalism_, p. 140.]

  [Footnote 5: _Unconscious Memory._ Fifield. 1910.]

  [Footnote 6: Those who desire further information may be
  referred to _A Century of Scientific Thought_, by the present
  writer. Burns & Oates.]

  [Footnote 7: _Op. cit._, pp. 137-8.]

  [Footnote 8: _The Philosophy of Biology_, p. 64.]

  [Footnote 9: In an article in the volume _Darwin and Modern
  Science_, p. 100.]

  [Footnote 10: _Op. cit._, p. 319.]

  [Footnote 11: _Op. cit._, pp. 238-9.]

  [Footnote 12: See the discussion on this subject in Wasmann's
  _The Problem of Evolution_.]

  [Footnote 13: R. R. Marett, Presidential Address to Folk-Lore
  Society, 1915. _Folk-Lore_, vol. xxvii., pp. 1-14.]

  [Footnote 14: _The Kingdom of Man._ London: Constable & Co.

  [Footnote 15: Lankester, _op. cit._, p. 26.]

  [Footnote 16: _Op. cit._, pp. 21-27.]

  [Footnote 17: _My Life with the Eskimo_ (1913), p. 188.]

  [Footnote 18: For a discussion of this question, see _Bernhardi
  and Creation_, by Sir James Crichton-Browne, F.R.S. Glasgow:
  James Maclehose & Sons. 1916.]

  [Footnote 19: _The Northwest Amazons._ London: Constable & Co.

  [Footnote 20: _Science and the War_, p. 120.]



_Initium sapientiæ timor Domini_; no doubt, but such fear is only the
beginning, and is not the kind of fear--which also exists--a fear which
engenders an actual revulsion against the idea of God.

It is to this kind of fear which the eminent Jesuit writer Wasmann
alludes when he says that "in many scientific circles there is an
absolute _Theophobia_, a dread of the Creator. I can only regret this,"
he continues, "because I believe that it is due chiefly to a defective
knowledge of Christian philosophy and theology."

That he is entirely right as to the existence of this feeling there can
be no doubt; no one can read at all widely in scientific literature
without becoming aware of it. Contrary to all the tenets of science
there is even a bias against any such idea as that of a Creator, though
science is supposed to confront all problems without bias of any kind. I
need not cite instances of this feeling; I have dealt with it elsewhere.
We may take it for granted, and proceed to look for an explanation for
the phenomenon. Wasmann attributes it to ignorance, and he is, I feel
sure, right; but let us examine the matter a little more closely. Why
should persons--even if ignorant--have the bias which some obviously
present against the idea of a God? Why should they wish to think that
there is no such Being, no future existence, nothing higher than Nature?
Some persons maintain that precedent to a denial of God there must be a
moral failure. That I am sure is quite wrong. I should be far from
saying that in some materialists there is not a considerable weakening
of moral fibre, or perhaps it would be better put, a distortion of moral
vision, as evidenced by many of the statements and proposals of
eugenists, for example, and by the political nostrums of some who wrest
science to a purpose for which it was not intended. This no doubt is
true, but it is not quite the argument with which I am now dealing, and
that argument, if it implies moral failure in the persons concerned, has
little if any genuine foundation in fact. Mr. Devas, in that very
remarkable book, _The Key to the World's Progress_, gives us the useful
phrase "post-Christians." These people are really pagans living in the
Christian era, retaining many of the excellent qualities which they owe
neither to Nature nor to paganism, but to the inheritance--perhaps
involuntary and unrecognised--of the influences of Christianity. Many of
these people are kind, benevolent, scrupulously moral. They have not
learned to be such from Nature, for Nature teaches no such lessons. Nor
have they learnt them from paganism, for these are not pagan virtues.
They are an inheritance from Christianity. Those, therefore, who build
arguments as to the needlessness of religion on the foundation that
persons without any belief in God do exhibit all the moral virtues,
build on sand. At any rate the answer to the question which we are
discussing is not to be found in this direction.

Others again will perhaps maintain the thesis that fashion has a great
deal to do with this. It is not fashionable to believe in God, or at
least it was not. It was highly fashionable to call oneself an agnostic;
perhaps it is not quite so much the vogue now as it was. No doubt there
is something in this, though not very much. It is much easier to go with
the tide than against it, and there are scientific tides as truly as
there are tides in the fashion of dress. There was a Weismann tide, now
nearly at dead water; there was an anti-vitalistic tide, now ebbing
fast. When these were in full flow it was a hazardous thing for a young
man who had to make his own way in the scientific world to swim against
either or both of them. Fashions change, and fashion is not so set
against the idea of a God as it was. The materialistic tide is "going
out," and we shall see that there is some truth in the view which holds
that the incoming tide is largely that of occultism, a thing disliked
and despised--and indeed with some reason--by the materialistic school
even more than it dislikes and despises theistic opinions.

Fashion, however, is not in any way a complete answer to the question we
are proposing to ourselves, nor is the unquestionable fact that
scientific men have a strong objection to putting their trust in
anything which cannot be subjected either to scientific examination or
to experiment. In this attitude there is more than a germ of truth.
"Occam's razor" is as valuable an implement to-day as it ever was, and
everyone will admit that we must exhaust all known causes before we
proceed to postulate a new one.

We have gone beyond the day of the absurd statement that thought (which
is of course unextended) is as much a secretion of the brain as bile
(which, equally of course, is extended) is of the liver. No one nowadays
would commit himself to such a statement, and men in general would be
chary of urging that we should not believe anything which we cannot
understand. I have myself heard a distinguished man of science of his
day--he is dead this quarter of a century--make that statement in
public, wholly ignoring the fact that any branch of science which we may
pursue will supply us with a hundred problems we can neither understand
nor explain, yet the factors of which we are bound to admit. But there
is undoubtedly a dislike to accepting anything which cannot be proved by
scientific means, and a tendency to describe as "mysticism"--a terrible
and damning term to apply to anything, so its employers think!--any
explanation which postulates something more in the universe than
operations of a physical and chemical character.

My own opinion is that the state of things which we are considering
finds its explanation in history, and I propose to devote a short space
to developing this view. Of course we might, and in some ways should,
go back to the Reformation and to the destruction of religion which then
took place. Let us, however, pass from that period to a time some
hundred and fifty years ago and commence our investigations there, and
in carrying them out I propose to make considerable use of the novels of
different periods.

It is a truism that very little but the dry bones of history can be
learnt from histories.

Nowadays people are sick of reading about more or less immoral monarchs,
and more or less corrupt politicians, and it may be suspected that most
of us have had our bellyful of wars now that the recent contest has come
to an end. What one really wants to learn from history is how the
ordinary folk, like ourselves, were getting on; what their ideas were;
how the world wagged for them. Such information we are much more likely
to get from memoirs and, since such works have been published, from
novels. The novelist is not to be supposed to be committed to acceptance
of all the remarks put into the mouths of his characters, but, if he is
of the second, not to say the first flight (and, if he is not, he is not
worth quoting), his characters and the general tone of his book will not
be out of touch with the times to which they belong. Since the novel
came into existence as something more than an occasional rarity, it is
the novelists and not the players who are "the abstract and brief
chronicles of the times," and it is to them that we shall apply for some
of the information we desire.

To commence with the Georgian period, it is not too much to say that
anything like real religion was scarcely ever at a lower ebb in England.
This is not to say that there was an absolute dearth of religion. Law
wrote his _Serious Call_ during that period, and there are few books of
its kind which have had a greater and more lasting effect. There were
others of like but lesser character than Law, but, on the whole, no one
will deny that the clergy of the Established Church (Catholics were, of
course, in the catacombs) and the religion which they represented were
almost beneath contempt. Look, for example, at _Esmond_, the typical
novel of its period. Is there a single clergyman in it who is not an
object of contempt, with the sole exception of the Jesuit, who, though a
good deal of the stage variety, at least gains a measure of the reader's
sympathy and respect? Thackeray was not himself a Georgian, it may be
urged. That of course is true, but no one that knows Thackeray and knows
also Georgian literature will deny that he was saturated with it and
understood the period with which his book dealt better perhaps than
those who lived in it themselves. But examine the novelists of the
period; what about Fielding? Parson Adams is respectable and lovable,
but the general average of parson and religion is certainly about as low
as it can be. Fielding was not a religious man. Possibly, but what then
of Richardson? We do not find religion at a very high level there; can
anything well be more degraded than the figure cut by Mr. Williams in
_Pamela_, for example--the miserable curate upon whom the heroine calls
for help in her distress? But apart from that, look at the whole
atmosphere of the book. Why, the moral is that if you resist the immoral
onslaughts of your master long enough he will give in and marry you, and
you will be applauded for your successful strategy by all the
countryside. Such is the book which all agreed to praise as an example
of all that a book ought to be from the point of view of virtue.

It will be admitted by all conversant with the facts that religion could
hardly have been at a lower ebb than it was when what is known as the
Evangelical Movement came to trouble the placid, if stagnant and turbid,
pool of the Established Church. Of course it did not transform the
Church entirely. Read Miss Austen's novels: the most perfect pictures of
life ever written. There are, I suppose, some half-dozen clergymen,
pleasant and unpleasant, depicted in them, and we may be sure that they
fairly well represent the typical average country parson of the period.
Whatever they may otherwise be, they all agree in one point, namely in
the complete absence of any such thing as a trace of spirituality. But
in the early nineteenth-century Evangelicanism--specially that terrible
variety Calvinism--was the dominant factor where religion really
prevailed as a living influence; and it is to its influence, I firmly
believe, that we may attribute the genuine detestation of religion which
was so marked a feature of a part of the Victorian and most of the
succeeding time. I am not, of course, forgetting the Oxford Movement,
but, important as that was and is, in its earlier years it was almost
entirely confined to clerical circles, exercising comparatively little
influence on the laity and practically none at all on that great middle
class which had been so much affected by the Wesleys, Whitefield, Scott,
Newton, and the other pundits of Evangelicanism. Take the characteristic
novel of the movement, if novel it should be called, Newman's _Loss and
Gain_: I do not remember a single male character in it who is not in
Holy Orders or on the way thereto. Hence, so far as religious influences
are concerned, it is to the Evangelical Movement that we have to look.
Now, though in my opinion it was the parent of many evils, there is no
doubt that there was in it real fervour; intense devotion; a genuine
desire to know and do God's will; a burning love for our Lord; coupled
with all which were the most distorted and distorting ideas of what was
and what was not sin ever conceived by any brain. Of this creed I can
speak from personal knowledge, for I was brought up in it and know it
from bitter experience.

The exponents of these views were never tired of instilling into their
pupils the need for conversion, which was supposed to be a sudden
operation. I have heard persons name the exact moment by the clock and
the day on which theirs took place, and it was often effected by a
single text. I have seen the Bible of an eminent leader in this line
which contains a number of texts painted round with colours, each of
which was associated with the conversion of some particular individual.
The process was supposed to be effected by the "acceptance of Christ,"
and though it was said to be free to all, it was clear to some at least
of those who quite earnestly and really desired it, that, however ardent
their desires, they could not secure their realisation. One was supposed
to know in some mysterious manner that one was converted; the operation
was permanent in its character; it could not be repeated; once
thoroughly effected the converted person neither wished to sin nor
really did sin. If anyone supposed to have been converted did relapse
into evil ways, then he never had really been converted, but only seemed
to have been. I have heard this circular form of argument urged most
strongly by those who were (by constitution apparently) absolutely
unable to see the illogical position which they were taking up. A
further, and the most awful, part of the teaching was that however much
one desired to be converted, and however earnestly one prayed for it, if
one died without it damnation was certain. Lastly there was the
encouraging thought that everything done prior to conversion was equally
without merit; in fact, one might almost say, equally evil. These things
were dinned into the heads of the young, in season and out of season; is
it any wonder that so many of them grew up to hate religion? I remember
myself the positive terror with which I went out even to minor
entertainments, because I knew that in all probability close
interrogation would be made as to my spiritual condition.

Let me be reminiscent and recall one case. I was a boy at school and
spending my Easter vacation away from home and with friends. It was my
lot to have to dine one night with an old friend of my father's, a
person of some distinction, who having, I believe, been a _viveur_ in
his youth, had in later years embraced the most ferocious type of
Evangelicanism. When the ladies had retired I was left alone with this
formidable person, whom I eyed much as a rabbit eyes a snake into whose
cage he has been introduced. Nor were my fears groundless, for no sooner
was the room empty than he peremptorily demanded of me whether I was
saved. On hearing my trembling but perfectly truthful reply that I
really did not know, he struck the table with his fist (I can see the
whole thing quite plainly to-day, though it is five-and-forty years
ago), exclaiming, "Then you are a fool, and if you were to die to-night
you most certainly would be damned." I ask those who were brought up in
a more kindly and more rational scheme of Christianity whether it is any
wonder that those whose youth was spent in these gloomy shades should
welcome the thought that there was no such being as a God?

Associated with this gloomy creed a new series of sins was invented, as
if there were not enough already in the world. It was sinful to dance,
even under the most domestic and proper circumstances. It was a sin to
play cards, even when there was no money on the game. It was a sin to
go to the theatre, even to behold the most inspiring and instructive
plays. It was even held by some, as we shall see, that the writing of
stories or works of imagination was sinful. I once heard a professor of
this creed express the doubt whether Shakespeare had not, on the whole,
done much more harm than good, and state that he himself would not allow
the works of Dickens to occupy a place in a hospital library, from
which, as a matter of fact--for on this point the discussion had
arisen--they had been excluded by the then chaplain of the institution,
a man of like views. In fact, the idea of God which was presented to the
youth of that period and brought up under such influences was--I do not
say wilfully--that of a kind of super-policeman: a hard-hearted
policeman, with an exaggerated code of misdoings, forever waiting round
a corner to pounce on evil-doers, and, one was obliged to think,
apparently almost pleased at the opportunity of catching them. It need
not be said that no disrespect is intended in this. It is a simple and
truthful statement of the kind of impression made upon one person by the
teachings of that age and school. Is it any wonder that persons brought
up in such a creed should experience a feeling of relief on learning
that there was no God, no sin, no punishment? Add to this the terrors of
the exaggerated Sabbatarianism of the period. What was the Sunday
programme? Two lengthy sessions of Family Prayers; two attendances--each
lasting at least an hour and a quarter--on services in church; one,
sometimes two, hours of Sunday School; no books but those of a religious
character; no amusements of any kind even for the very young, unless the
putting together of a dissected map of Palestine could be called an
amusement; what a method of rendering Sunday attractive to the young!

Is it any wonder that those brought up on such a plan abandoned, with a
sigh of relief, all religious exercises when at last they were able to
do so? I notice that Mr. Belfort Bax, in his _Reminiscences of a Mid and
Late Victorian_, alludes to this matter, saying that, "The most cruel of
all the results of mid-Victorian religion was, perhaps, the rigid
enforcement of the most drastic Sabbatarianism. The horror of the tedium
of Sunday infected more or less the whole of the latter portion of the
week." _Experto crede!_ He says further, dealing with the 'fifties, that
"the intellectual possibilities of the English people were then stunted
and cramped by the influence of the dogmatic Calvinistic theology which
was the basis of its traditional sentiment;"--it is exactly the point
which I am trying to make.

We may now examine two instances of the kind of teaching with which I am
dealing and its results. The first is that of the poet Cowper, and
anyone who takes the trouble to read his life as written by Southey will
find the whole piteous tale fully drawn out. Southey hated the Catholic
Church, of which, by the way, he knew absolutely nothing, but he had
sufficient sense to reject the teachings of Calvinism. Cowper was at
times insane and at other times of anything but a well-balanced mind,
and he was just the kind of man who never ought to have been brought
under the influences to which he was subjected. His principal adviser
was the Rev. John Newton, a well-known Calvinistic clergyman of the
Church of England. He must have been a man of compelling character, for
he it was who brought the Rev. Thomas Scott, Rector of Aston Sandford,
out of Socinianism, which, though a minister of the Church of England,
he professed, into the Calvinistic view of things, as Scott himself
tells us in his book _The Force of Truth_; and it must not be forgotten
that it was to the writings of this same Scott that Newman tells us (in
his _Apologia_) that he owed his very soul. Newton, like many of his
fellows, had no sort of doubt as to his right to act as a director of
souls, nor of his profound knowledge of how they should be dealt with.
Yet it is to be remembered that, whilst the Catholic priest is obliged
to undergo a long and careful training before he is permitted to take up
this perilous task, Newton and those of his kind undertook it without
any training whatever. Cowper, as everybody knows, was carefully and
kindly tended by Mrs. Unwin, a woman a good deal older than himself,
against whose character no word of reproach was ever uttered, the widow
of an old friend of the poet. Newton wanted to drive Mrs. Unwin out of
his house, but here at least Cowper rebelled and showed his very just
annoyance, Newton actually urged Cowper to abandon the task of
translating Homer, a labour undertaken to distract his poor sick mind
from thinking of itself, because such work, not being of a religious
character, partook of the nature of sin. It is no wonder that such a
rule of life had not infrequently the most distressing consequences.
Newton himself admits that his preaching had the reputation of driving
people into lunacy. In a letter asking that steps may be taken to remove
one poor victim to an asylum he says: "I hope the poor girl is not
without some concern for her soul; and, indeed, I believe a concern of
this kind was the beginning of her disorder. I believe," he continues,
"my name is up about the county for preaching people mad ... whatever
may be the immediate cause, I suppose we have near a dozen, in different
degrees, disordered in their heads, and most of them I believe truly
gracious people."

Let us turn to the other example which I propose to select, that given
by Mr. Gosse in his truly remarkable work _Father and Son_, one of the
most faithful pictures of life ever written. The first instance shall be
an extract from the diary of the mother, obviously a woman of great
power and gifts if she had been given an opportunity of displaying them.
"When I was a very little child," she writes, "I used to amuse myself
and my brothers with inventing stories such as I had read. Having, as I
suppose, naturally a restless mind and busy imagination, this soon
became the chief pleasure of my life. Unfortunately my brothers were
always fond of encouraging this propensity, and I found in Taylor, my
maid, a still greater tempter. I had not known there was any harm in it,
until Miss Shore" (a Calvinistic governess), "finding it out, lectured
me severely, and told me it was wicked. From that time forth I
considered that to invent a story of any kind was a sin. But the desire
to do so was too deeply rooted in my affections to be resisted in my own
strength," (she was at this time nine years of age), "and unfortunately
I knew neither my corruption nor my weakness, nor did I know where to
gain strength. The longing to invent stories grew with a violence;
everything I heard or read became food for my distemper. The simplicity
of truth was not sufficient for me; I must needs embroider imagination
upon it, and the folly, vanity and wickedness which disgraced my heart,
are more than I am able to express. Even now (at the age of
twenty-nine), though watched, prayed and striven against, this is still
the sin which most easily besets me. It has hindered my prayers and
prevented my improvement, and therefore has humbled me very much." It is
narrated of the well-known Father Healy that a young lady having
consulted him as to the sin of vanity, she feeling convinced, when she
looked in her glass, that she was a very pretty girl, was answered by
him, "My child, that is not a sin; it is a mistake!" It wanted some wise
adviser to make the same remark to this poor tortured and deluded woman.

Illness under this code was always a punishment sent from heaven, as,
indeed, it may be; but, "if anyone was ill it showed that 'the Lord's
hand was extended in chastisement,' and much prayer was poured forth in
order that it might be explained to the sufferer, or to his relations,
in what he or they had sinned. People would, for instance, go on living
over a cesspool, working themselves up into an agony to discover how
they had incurred the displeasure of the Lord, but never moving away."
One last instance, the most remarkable of all, and we may leave this
book. It need hardly be said that a father of the kind depicted in this
book would have a holy horror of the Catholic Church, and he had. He
"welcomed any social disorder in any part of Italy, as likely to be
annoying to the Papacy." He "celebrated the announcement in the
newspapers of a considerable emigration from the Papal dominions, by
rejoicing at this outcrowding of many, throughout the harlot's domain,
from her sin and her plagues," and he even carried his hatred so far as
to denounce the keeping of Christmas, which to him was nothing less than
an act of idolatry.

On a certain Christmas Day, the servants, greatly daring, disobeyed the
order of their master and actually had the audacity to make a small
plum-pudding for themselves. Actuated by pity, no doubt, and by a
feeling of kindness towards a small boy deprived of all the joys of the
season, they pressed a slice of this pudding upon the son, who
succumbed--very naturally--to the temptation. Shortly after, however,
being afflicted by a stomach-ache, remorse came upon him and he rushed
to his father, exclaiming: "Oh! papa, papa, I have eaten of flesh
offered to idols!" When the father learned what had happened, he sternly
said, "Where is the accursed thing?" Having heard that it was on the
kitchen table, "he took me by the hand, and ran with me into the midst
of the startled servants, seized what remained of the pudding, and with
the plate in one hand and me still tight in the other, ran till we
reached the dust-heap, where he flung the idolatrous confectionery on to
the middle of the ashes, and then raked it deep down into the mass. The
suddenness, the velocity of this extraordinary act, made an impression
on my memory which nothing will ever efface." Such is a plain
unvarnished account of the kind of way in which numbers of people were
brought up in the 'fifties and 'sixties of the last century. Can it be
wondered that those who had such a childhood should grow up with an
absolute horror of the Person in Whose name such things--absurdities
when not positive crimes--were perpetrated? I firmly believe that these
wholly false ideas of God and of sin have had more to do with the spread
of materialism than many will perhaps be disposed to admit. Educated
people, especially those trained in scientific methods, demand a certain
common sense and sobriety in their beliefs. If they are brought up to
believe that a grievous sin is committed when they invent an innocent
story; when they go to a theatre or to a dance, or play a game of cards;
if they have never known the demands of real Christianity as put
forward by the Catholic Church, is it likely that they will cleave to a
faith which apparently engenders such absurdities as the Christmas
pudding episode? It is, indeed, as Father Wasmann says, a thousand
pities that the reasonableness, the logic, the dignity of the Catholic
religion should remain for ever hidden from the eyes and minds of many
who so often are as they are, because they were brought up as they were.
In all these things we find the key to another problem. In another essay
in this volume I have called attention to the glad intelligence, as it
seems to a certain school of writers, that we are freed from the
"bugbear of sin," as one of them puts it; able to enjoy ourselves
without any thoughts of that kind.

Now I cannot but believe that such writers are thinking of the bugbear
of artificial sins invented by the professors of a gloomy creed of
religion. It is not to be supposed that any serious writer--and those to
whom I allude are eminently such--would speak or write with pleasure and
satisfaction of escaping from the bugbear of sins against morality or
against one's neighbour; from the bugbear of dishonesty or theft; of
taking away a person's character; of running away with his wife. I am
convinced that it is the invented crimes of card-playing, theatre-going,
and the like to which they are alluding: it could not surely be
otherwise; and that makes it all the more unfortunate that before
misusing a technical term like the word "sin," and thus perhaps
misleading some young and ardent mind, such writers could not follow
Father Wasmann's advice and study some simple manual of Catholic ethics,
from which they would learn the real doctrine of Christianity and would
discover how very different a thing it is and how very much more
reasonable than the distorted caricature which we have been studying.


Whether my view as to the cause, or one of the causes, is right or not,
the fact remains that by the mid-Victorian period England had fallen to
a very large extent a prey to materialism. Many people attribute the
sudden onslaught of this to the publication of _The Origin of Species_
and the controversies of the foolish which followed thereon. Samuel
Butler, that brilliant writer who has not even yet come into his own,
sums up in his novel _The Way of All Flesh_ (and it may incidentally be
remarked, in himself) most of the characteristics of the day. Many a
parsonage home like that of the Rev. Theobald Pontifex existed in those
days, and more than one Ernest Pontifex emerged from them. Now in this
book Butler states that "the year 1858 was the last of a term during
which the peace of the Church of England was singularly unbroken," and
there no doubt he is right; "The Evangelical Movement ... had become
almost a matter of ancient history. Tractarianism had subsided into a
tenth-day's wonder; it was at work, but it was not noisy." Then he says
the calm was broken by the publication of three books: _Essays and
Reviews_, _The Origin of Species_, _Criticisms on the Pentateuch_ by
Colenso. Few persons probably now remember the first and the last of
these books; the fame of the second is likely to last long.

Whether again Butler is right in his idea as to the causes or not, as to
the fact there can be no doubt. We have arrived at a period when the
prevalent opinion amongst the intellectual classes was that
religion--belief in anything which could not be fully understood--was
impossible once one began to think seriously about it. Those who did not
really look into such questions might go on considering themselves to
believe in revelation, but the moment that a man seriously tackled the
subject, his religion was bound to go, just as that of Ernest Pontifex
did at the end of five minutes' conversation with an atheistic
shoemaker.[21] Agnosticism and materialism were in the air, and remained
the dominant features for quite a number of years. There were those who
deplored the loss of their faith such as it had been. Huxley obviously
did; and Romanes, who afterwards returned to the Church of England,
confessedly did. Such persons, and there were many of them, honestly
were unable to believe, and said so. A great deal of this was due to the
attitude of popular science at that time. It was in a hot fit, and was
going to explain everything, if not to-day, at least to-morrow. Now, as
Sir Oliver Lodge told us before the war, in his book _Continuity_, we
are in a cold fit and we seem only to know that nothing can be known.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, best known as the creator of _Sherlock Holmes_,
tells us in a recent book from which I shall have further to quote (_The
New Revelation_, Hodder and Stoughton, 1918): "When I had finished my
medical education in 1882, I found myself, like many young medical men,
a convinced materialist as regards our personal destiny." With the facts
contained in this statement I fully agree. The date in question is
almost exactly that at which I also became a qualified medical man, and
I, and I fancy most of my generation, believed ourselves to be agnostics
if not atheists. It was the atmosphere of the time, and so strong as
with difficulty to be resisted by those who resorted to the
Universities. The point which I want to make is that during the latter
part of the Victorian period we had come to a generation of
intellectuals practically devoid of religion and followed in that
respect by that always larger portion of any generation which, not
having brains to think for itself, yet desiring to follow the
intellectual _motif_ of the day, adopts whatever is the fashionable
attitude for the moment towards unseen things. Yesterday it was blank
negation; to-day it tends, as we shall see, to be spiritualism;
to-morrow it might be earnest faith: let us hope so. And as to
Calvinism, all this was _post hoc_ of course; _propter hoc_ also as I

What followed? That is what we now have to consider. The first thing
which happened was the very natural discovery that science cannot
explain everything; has in fact a strictly limited range of country to
deal with. This discovery began to sap the foundations of materialism.
Then there came the further discovery that all was not well, as so many
supposed that it would be, under a scheme of life divorced from all
connection with religion. Mr. Lucas, who has given the world many
pleasant books, none of them with any obvious bias in favour of
religion, in _Over Bemertons_ (one of the most pleasant) makes one of
his characters, _Mr. Dabney_, deplore the loss of the seriousness of the
Victorian era: "We believe only in pleasure and success; our one ideal
is getting wealth." Parenthetically, is not that just what might be
expected? If there is really nothing but this world, what better can we
seek than as much pleasure as we can get out of it? _Over Bemertons_ was
first published in 1908, and the remedy which _Mr. Dabney_ then
suggested, with a really curious prophetical insight, has just been
vigorously applied. That remedy was "War, nothing more or less. A bloody
war--not a punitive expedition or 'a sort of a war'" (he quoted these
words with white fury) "'that might get us right again.' 'At great
cost,' I said. 'A surgical operation,' he replied, 'if the only means
of saving life, cannot be called expensive.'"

Finally the discovery was made that mankind will not for long be content
to do altogether without religion; a need for something more than bread
alone being ingrained in his nature. Thus even the professedly
materialistic societies try to afford something in the way of religious
exercises. I have recently seen a notice of one of the so-called Ethical
Societies in which the members (at their meetings, I take it) are
"requested to silently meditate for five minutes on the good life."[22]
It would seem to be quite as beneficial and more practical to meditate
on split infinitives. A substitute for religion has to be found; what is
it to be? In the years before the war Mr. Masefield published a very
interesting book called _Multitude and Solitude_, which narrates the
trials and troubles of two young Englishmen who make a perilous journey
to Africa in search of the secret of the sleeping-sickness. In all their
trials they never seem to have thought of prayer, in which it may be
assumed they did not believe, but when they returned to England it
occurred to one of them that there was something wanting in their life,
and he propounded to his friend the view that "the world is just coming
to see that science is not a substitute for religion," which is one of
the things urged in this paper. He then proceeded to the rather
startling conclusion that science _is_ "religion of a very deep and
austere kind." One is reminded of a well-known passage in the Bible:
"_Inveni et aram in qua scriptum erat_ IGNOTO DEO." To set up science as
an "unknown God" seems a curious choice, even more curious than the
choice of humanity, which--pitiable object as it is--was at least made
in the image of God. Not to pile up instance upon instance, let us
content ourselves with remembering that Mr. Wells, who in his earlier
novels had certainly not displayed any marked affection for religion, in
the last published before the war (_Marriage_) brings his hero face to
face with the great realities, and makes him exclaim to his wife that he
may "die a Christian yet," and urge upon her the need for prayer, if
only out into the darkness. Of course, as all the reading world knows,
since the war commenced, Mr. Wells has set up his own altar "IGNOTO
DEO," not with much more satisfactory results than those attained by Mr.
Masefield. It is an historical fact that times of war have also been
times of religious awakening, and it is natural that they should be so,
for even the most careless must be brought to contemplate something more
than the day's enjoyment. It is not then wonderful that the terrible war
which has raged with Europe as the cockpit, and practically all the
nations of the world as participants, should turn the minds of those who
are in the righting line towards thoughts which in times of peace may
never have found entrance there. From all sides one hears that this is
so, yet here again it is too often the case that an "unknown God" is
sought, and from want of proper direction not always found. In a
recently published memoir of one of the many splendid young fellows by
whose death the world has been made poorer during this calamitous war,
there is this moving passage: "I know that many hearts are turning
towards _something_, but cannot find satisfaction in what the Christian
sects offer. And many, failing to find what they need, fall back sadly
into vague uncertainties and disbelief, as I often do myself." We badly
need a St. Paul who will say to these and other anxious hearts, "_Quod
ergo ignorantes colitis, hoc ego annuntio vobis_."

However, it is much more with those who only "stand and wait" than with
those who were actually in the trenches that we are concerned; what
about the lamentable army of wives and mothers, widows and orphans,
people bereft of those they loved or rising every morning in dread of
the news which the day might bring forth; what about these and their
attitude towards the things unseen? That many such have turned to some
genuine form of religion is happily beyond dispute, but it is also
unquestionably true that thousands have turned aside to the attractions
of spiritualism. A recent article in the Literary Supplement of the
_Times_ commenced with the statement that "Among the strange, dismaying
things cast up by the tide of war are those traces of primitive
fatalism, primitive magic, and equivocal divination which are within
general knowledge." The writer of the article in question thinks that
as we have taken a huge and lamentable step backwards in civilisation,
we need not be surprised that we should also have receded in the
direction of those primitive instincts to which he calls attention. This
process had, however, begun long before the war.

The late Dr. Ryder, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory, was a very shrewd
observer of public affairs and a very close and dear friend of the
present writer. It must be more than twenty years ago since he remarked
to me that he thought that materialism had shot its bolt and that the
coming danger to religion was spiritualism, a subject on which, if I
remember right, he had written more than one paper. I asked him what led
him to that conclusion, and his reply was to ask me whether I had not
noticed the great increase in number of the items in second-hand book
catalogues--a form of literature to which we were both much
addicted--under the heading "OCCULT." Since the war, however, there can
be no doubt about the fact that spiritualism has made great strides. A
thousand pieces of evidence prove it. Look, for example, at the enormous
vogue of _Raymond_, a book of which I say nothing, out of personal
regard for its author and genuine respect for his honesty and
fearlessness. But I return to Sir Arthur Doyle's book, and we find him
assuring us that he is personally "in touch with thirteen mothers who
are in correspondence with their dead sons," and adds that in only one
of these cases was the individual concerned with psychic matters before
the war. Further, he explains that it was the war which induced him to
take an active interest in a subject which had been before no more than
one of passing curiosity. "In the presence of an agonised world," he
writes, "hearing every day of the deaths of the flower of our race in
the first promise of their unfulfilled youth, seeing around one the
wives and mothers who had no clear conception whither their loved one
had gone to, I seemed suddenly to see that this subject with which I had
so long dallied was not merely a study of a force outside the rules of
science, but that it really was something tremendous, a breaking down of
the walls between the two worlds, a direct undeniable message from
beyond, a call of hope and of guidance to the human race at the time of
its deepest affliction." Perhaps it is not wonderful that spiritualism
should have won the success which it has, for it offers a good deal to
those who can believe in it. It offers definite intercourse with the
departed; positive knowledge as to the existence of a future state, and
even as to its nature--the last-named intelligence not always very
attractive. Further, it requires no particular creed and, it would
appear, no special code of morals; for one of its teachings, I gather,
is that it does not greatly matter what a man thinks or even does, so
far as his future welfare is concerned.

Sir A. Doyle's book is the least convincing exposition of spiritualism I
have yet read--and I have studied many of them--but it may be taken to
include the latest views on the subject. Amongst the revelations which
he gives, there is one purporting to come from a spirit who "had been a
Catholic and was still a Catholic, but had not fared better than the
Protestants; there were Buddhists and Mahommedans in her sphere, but all
fared alike." Another spirit informed Sir A. Doyle that he had been a
freethinker, but "had not suffered in the next life for that reason."
This is not the occasion, and in no way am I the man, to tackle the
subject of spiritualism, but this at least I think may be said, that the
person who argues that the whole thing is a fraud and deception does not
know what he is talking about. Look at the history of the world--_Quod
semper_, _quod ubique_, almost _quod ab omnibus_. The records of early
missionaries--Jesuits especially--teem with accounts of the same kind of
phenomena as we read of in connection with séances to-day, occurring in
all sorts of places and amongst widely separated races of mankind. We
have it in the _Odyssey_; we have it in Cicero and in Pliny; we have it
in the Bible. All this is not a mere matter of imposition.

In a very curious book recently published (_Some Revelations as to
"Raymond_," by a Plain Citizen; London, Kegan Paul), to which some
attention may now be devoted, the writer, himself a firm believer in
spiritualism and one obviously in a position to write about it, points
out that the old term "magic" has been relegated to the performances of
conjurers, and the terminology so altered as to make spiritualism appear
to be a new gospel, whereas the contrary is the case. "The impression
prevailed that civilised people were in presence of a new order of
phenomena, and were acquiring a new outlook into the regions of the
Unknown; whereas the truth was that they were merely repeating, under
new social conditions and in a new environment, the same experiences
that had happened to their ancestors during some thousands of years."
Here I may interject the remark that as far as my reading and knowledge
go, no spirit has ever had a good word to say for the Catholic religion.
What that Church thinks about spiritualism has been made quite clear,
and that is enough for Catholics. Before leaving the Plain Citizen, we
must not omit to notice one strange hypothesis of his, all the stranger
as coming from a professed spiritualist. He maintains--perhaps it would
be fairer to say that he lays down as a working hypothesis--the
following thesis: Spiritualism involves the existence of mediums, and
mediums for the most part have to make their living by their operations.
They will not be averse to making their incomes as large as possible.
For the purpose of acquiring information as to the affairs of possible
clients, they have, so he asserts, an almost Freemasonic Association by
which all sorts of pieces of intelligence concerning persons of
importance are collected and disseminated amongst the brotherhood. It
did not require much imagination to suppose that the war would add to
the number of their clients, whether their claims had real foundation or
not; what they wanted above all things was some one of undoubted
position who would "boom the movement," in the slang of the day. They
laid all their plans to get their man in the author of _Raymond_, and
they got him. Such is his thesis for what it is worth.

However, it is time to conclude. What I wanted to show was that
Theophobia was the Nemesis of a dreadful type of Protestantism, and that
spiritualism was the Nemesis of the materialism associated with that
Theophobia. There is no need to point out to Catholic readers where the
remedy lies, and where the real Communion of the saints is to be found.
They are not likely to be drawn aside by the "Lo here!" of the "false
Christs" whom we were promised and whom we are getting. It is for those
who have themselves experienced the consolations of the Catholic
religion to do their best, each in his own way, to make known to others
outside our body what things may be found within.


  [Footnote 21: An excellent example may be found in Butler's own
  career. Destined for the ministry of the Church of England
  (with his own full consent), he was set to teach a class in a
  Sunday school. Finding that some of his pupils were unbaptized,
  yet no worse-behaved than the others, and obviously quite
  ignorant of what baptism meant, he abandoned all belief. His
  biographer, equally ignorant, in narrating, with approval, this
  change of opinion, says, "Paley had produced evidence of
  Christianity, but none so unmistakable as this to the

  [Footnote 22: Dr. Johnson once remarked that "to find a
  substitution for violated morality was the leading feature in
  all perversions of religion."]


Exclusive and long-continued devotion to any special line of study is
liable to lead to forgetfulness of other, even kindred, lines--almost,
in extreme cases, to a kind of atrophy of other parts of the mind. There
is the example of Darwin and his self-confessed loss of the æsthetic
tastes he once possessed. Nor are scientific studies the only ones to
produce such an effect. The amusing satire in _The New Republic_ has,
perhaps, lost some of its tang now that the prototype of its Professor
of History is almost forgotten, but it has not lost its point. Lady
Ambrose tells the tale: "He said to me in a very solemn voice, 'What a
terrible defeat that was which we had at Bouvines!' I answered
timidly--not thinking we were at war with anyone--that I had seen
nothing about it in the papers. 'H'm!' he said, giving a sort of grunt
that made me feel dreadfully ignorant, 'why, I had an excursus on it
myself in the _Archæological Gazette_ only last week.' And, do you know,
it turned out that the Battle of Bouvines was fought in the Thirteenth
Century, and had, as far as I could make out, something to do with Magna

It is, however, among writers on biological subjects that we find the
most salient instances of this contraction. With extraordinary
self-abnegation they seem, in the contemplation of the problem with
which they are concerned, to forget that they themselves are living
things, and, more than that, the living things of whom they ought to
know and could know most, however little that most may be. When the
biologist begins to philosophise as, after the manner of his kind, he
often does, he should leave his microscope and look around him; whereas
he often forgets even to change the high for the low power. Thus he
limits his field of vision and forgets, when attempting his explanation,
that it is only _within a system_ that he is working. Professor Ward, in
_Naturalism and Agnosticism_, says:

     "From the strict premisses of Positivism we can never prove
     the existence of other minds or find a place for such
     conceptions as cause and substance; for into these premisses
     the existence of our own mind and its self-activity have not
     entered. And accordingly we have seen Naturalism led on in
     perfect consistency to resolve man into an automaton that
     goes of itself as part of a still vaster automaton, Nature
     as mechanically conceived, which goes of itself. True, this
     mechanism goes of itself because it _is_ going, and being
     altogether inert, cannot stop or change. How it ever started
     is indeed a question which science cannot answer, but which,
     on the other hand, it has no occasion to ask: time, its one
     independent variable, extends indefinitely without hint of
     either beginning or end. Such a system of knowledge, _once
     we are inside it_, so to say, is entirely self-contained and

"_Once we are inside it!_" what so many writers forget or ignore is that
they _are_ inside it, and that their explanations do not explain the
system or how it came to be there or to be in operation. Everybody is
familiar with Paley's example of the watch found on the heath. Let us
carry it a little further. Suppose some student, after devoting years of
patient examination to the watch, were to come forward and say: "I have
discovered the secret of this watch. There is a spring in it which
possesses resiliency, and it is that which drives the wheels. I think I
have heard people say that there must have been a watchmaker to design
and construct this piece of machinery, but, in face of my discoveries,
any such explanation is wholly unnecessary and may be altogether

Perhaps this analogy may be regarded as exaggerated; but, before thus
condemning it, let the following passage be studied. It is from a very
important book recently published, which claims (and has had its claim
supported by many periodicals) to have done away with any need for an
explanation of life beyond that which can be given by chemistry and
physics, Jacques Loeb's _Organism as a Whole, from a Physico-Chemical

It would be hard to find a worse example of confused thinking than that
of the following passage:

     "The idea that the organism as a whole cannot be explained
     from a physico-chemical viewpoint rests most strongly on the
     existence of animal instincts and will. Many of the
     instinctive actions are 'purposeful,' _i.e._ assisting to
     preserve the individual and the race. This again suggests
     'design' and a designing 'force,' which we do not find in
     the realm of physics. We must remember, however, that there
     was a time when the same 'purposefulness' was believed to
     exist in the cosmos where everything seemed to turn
     literally and metaphorically around the earth, the abode of
     man. In the latter case, the anthropo- or geo-centric view
     came to an end when it was shown that the motions of the
     planets were regulated by Newton's law, _and that there was
     no room left for the activities of a guiding power_.
     Likewise, in the realm of instincts, when it can be shown
     that these instincts may be reduced to elementary
     physico-chemical laws, the assumption of design becomes
     superfluous." (_Italics mine._)

In the first place the "purposefulness" of the movements of the planets
is not affected in the very least by the question of heliocentricism.
What the author is probably thinking of is an exaggerated and obsolete
teleology, but that is not what seems to be the purport of the passage.
Let that pass. The main confusion lies in the application of the term
"Law." The Ten Commandments, and our familiar friend D.O.R.A., are laws
we must obey or take the consequences of our disobedience. The "laws"
which the writer is dealing with are not anything of this kind. Newton's
Law is not a thing made by Newton, but an orderly system of events which
was in existence long before Newton's time, but was first demonstrated
by him. It tells us how a certain part of the system works--when we are
"_inside it_." It does not in the least explain the system any more than
the discovery of the resiliency of the spring of the watch explains the
watch itself. So far from dispensing with "the activities of a guiding
power," Newton's law is positively clamant for a final explanation,
since it does not tell us, nor does it pretend to tell us, how the "law"
came into existence, still less how the planets came to be there, or how
they happen to be in a state of motion at all. Writers of this kind
never seem to have grasped the significance of such simple matters as
the different kinds of causes, or to be aware that a formal cause is not
an efficient cause, and that neither of them is a final cause. Coming to
the latter part of the paragraph, it is in no way proved that instincts
can be reduced to physico-chemical laws, and, suppose it were proved,
the assumption of design would be exactly where it is at this moment. It
is the old story of St. Thomas Aquinas and Avicenna and their discussion
on abiogenesis, and surely biologists might be expected to have heard of
that. The same confusion of thought is to be met with elsewhere in this
book, and in other similar books, and a few instances may now be

Samuel Butler, in _Life and Habit_, warns his readers against the dicta
of scientific men, and more particularly against his own dicta, though
he made no claim to be a scientist. If his reader _must_ believe in
something, "let him believe in the music of Handel, the painting of
Giovanni Bellini, and in the thirteenth chapter of St. Paul's first
Epistle to the Corinthians." And he exclaims: "Let us have no more 'Lo,
here!' with the professor; he very rarely knows what he says he knows;
no sooner has he misled the world for a sufficient time with a great
flourish of trumpets than he is toppled over by one more plausible than
himself." That is a somewhat unkind way of putting it; but undoubtedly
theory after theory is put forward, and often claimed to be final, only
to disappear when another explanation takes its place. Thus at the
moment we are in the full flood of the chemical theory which is employed
to explain inheritance. That heredity exists we all know, but so far we
know nothing about its mechanism. Darwin, with "Pangenesis," and others,
using other titles, argued in favour of a "particulate" explanation, but
the number of particles which would be necessary to account for the
phenomena involved, this and other difficulties, have practically put
this explanation out of court. Then we had the Mnemic theory of Hering,
Butler, and others, by which the unconscious memory of the embryo--even
the germ--is the explanation. Quite lately the mnemic theory has been
claimed by Rignano in his _Scientific Synthesis_ as a complete
explanation, in forgetfulness of the fact that even the all-powerful
protozoon can only remember what has passed and could certainly not
_remember_ that it was some day going to breed a man. At the moment,
things are explained on a chemical basis, though that basis is far from
firm; is of a shifting nature, and a little hazy in details. Some time
ago, colloids were the cry. A President of the British Association
almost led one to imagine that "the homunculus in the retort" might be
expected in a few weeks. But the chemists would have none of this, and
denied that the colloids, about which they ought to know more than do
the biologists, had that promise in them which had been claimed. We had
Leduc and his "fairy flowers," as now we have Loeb and others with their
metabolites and hormones. As to these last, there seems to be no kind of
doubt that the internal secretions of many organs and structures have
effects which were, even a few years ago, quite unsuspected. Those of
the thyroid and adrenals are excellent examples.

It seems to be the fate, however, of all supporters of new theories to
run into extravagances. Darwin had to remind his enthusiastic disciples
that Natural Selection could not create variations, and we may feel some
confidence that Hering, were he alive, would urge his followers to bear
in mind that memory cannot create a state of affairs which never
existed. So far we may certainly say that these internal secretions do
produce certain physical effects, some of them effects not to be
suspected by the uninformed reader. There seems to be very good evidence
that the growth of antlers in deer depends upon an internal secretion
from the sex-gland and from the interstitial tissue of that gland; for
it is apparently upon the secretions of this portion of the gland that
the secondary sexual characters depend, and not merely these, but also
the normal sexual instincts. And this takes us a stage further. The
extreme claim is that all instincts, in fact all thoughts and
operations, are in the last analysis chemical or chemico-physical. Let
us examine this claim for a moment. The adrenals are two inconspicuous
ductless bodies situated immediately above the kidneys. Not many years
ago, when the present writer was a medical student, all that was known
about these organs was that when stricken with a certain disease, known
as Addison's disease from the name of its first describer, the
unfortunate possessor of the diseased glands became of a more or less
rich chocolate colour. To-day we know that the internal secretion of
these organs is a very powerful styptic, and there is good reason to
believe that a copious discharge accompanies an unusual exhibition of
rage. When we are told things of this kind we must first of all remember
that the adrenalin does not cause the rage, though it may produce its
concomitant phenomena. If a man flies into a violent passion because
someone has trodden upon his corns, and there is a copious flow of
adrenalin from the glands, it is not that flow which has caused his
rage. It may be the flow from the interstitial tissue of the sex-glands
which engenders sexual feelings, but then those are almost wholly
physical, and only in a very minor sense--if even if any true
sense--psychical. Persons who take the extreme view have never yet
suggested that there is a characteristic hormone connected with those
psychical attributes alluded to in the chapter of the Corinthians
recommended to our notice by Butler. In fact they seem to ignore all but
the lower or vegetable characters when dealing with psychology from the
chemico-physical point of view.

Finally, we come again to the fatal and fundamental defect of this as of
other "explanations"; it is an explanation "_within the system_," and
therefore unphilosophical in so far as it fails to explain the facts
through their ultimate or deepest reasons.

A large part of Loeb's book is devoted to a description of the author's
remarkable experiments in artificial parthenogenesis, and an attempt to
show that they offer a complete explanation. Sir William Tilden, one of
the greatest living authorities on organic chemistry, tells us that "too
much has been made of the curious observations of J. Loeb and others";
and he definitely states that when we consider "the propagation of the
animal races by the sexual process ... there can be no fear of
contradiction in the statement that in the whole range of physical and
chemical phenomena there is no ground for even a suggestion of an
explanation." Behind this pronouncement of an expert, one might well
shelter oneself; but the question under consideration merits a little
further treatment. The reproduction of kind, though usually a bi-sexual
process, may, however, normally in rare cases be uni-sexual, and this
process is known as Parthenogenesis. Even in human beings certain
tumours of the sex-glands, known as teratomata, very rare in women and
even rarer, if ever existent, in men, have been claimed as examples of
attempts at parthenogenesis, and so far no better explanation is

Now Loeb and others have succeeded in certain forms--even in a
vertebrate like the frog--in inducing development in unimpregnated ova.
The evidence for all these things is still slender; but we will content
ourselves with noting that point and passing on to the consideration of
the phenomena and the claims put forward in connection with them. We
find the task of unravelling the writer's meaning rendered more
difficult by a certain confusion in his use of terms, since
fertilisation, _i.e._ syngamy--the union of the different sex
products--seems to be confused with segmentation, _i.e._ germination;
and this confusion is accentuated by the claim that "the main effect of
the spermatozoon in inducing the development of the egg consists in an
alteration in the surface of the latter which is apparently of the
nature of a cytolysis of the cortical layer. Anything that causes this
alteration without endangering the rest of the egg may induce its
development." When the spermatozoon enters the ovum it causes some
alteration in the surface membrane of the latter which, amongst other
things, prevents the entrance of further spermatozoa. Loeb thinks that
in causing this alteration it sets up the segmentation of the ovum. That
there is a close connection between the two events seems undoubted; that
they are in relation of cause and effect seems likely. It is quite
evident that an artificial stimulus can in certain cases set up
segmentation, but never can it cause the fertilisation of the ovum. It
may very likely produce the same change in the membrane that is caused
by the entrance of the spermatozoon under normal circumstances--membrane
formation may be necessarily coincident with the liberation in the egg
of some zymose which arises from a pre-existent zymogen. But we are
still some way off any assurance that the _main_ object of the
spermatozoon in inducing the development of the egg is this surface
alteration. It may be the initial effect; very probably it is; but since
the main function of the spermatozoon must be the introduction of
germplasm from the male parent, it is too much for anyone to ask us to
believe that its _main_ function is concerned with surface alteration.

Loeb argues that the change in the surface membrane is of a chemical
character, and that no doubt may be correct; but even if we allow him
every scientific fact, or surmise, he is still, as in the other cases
with which we have dealt, miles away from any real explanation. He is
still inside his chemico-physical explanation to begin with; and, even
within that, he still leaves us anxious for the explanation of a number
of points--for example, as to the nature of the chemical process which
accompanies, or is the cause of, segmentation. We in no way press these
questions; for similar demands could be made in so many cases; we only
indicate that they are there. What we do press is this--that when an
authority comes forward to assure us that all the processes of life,
including man's highest as well as his lowest attributes, can be
explained on chemico-physical lines, we are entitled to ask for a more
cogent proof of it than the demonstration, however complete, of the
germination of an egg, caused by artificial stimulus and not by the
ordinary method of syngamy, even though that germination may lead to the
production of a perfect adult form. We are entitled to ask him to make
clear to us not only what is happening _within his system_, but--which
is far more important--what that system is, and how it came into
existence. We are entitled to ask why the artificial stimulus, or the
entry of the spermatozoon, produces the effects which it is claimed to
produce instead of any one of some score of other effects which it might
conceivably have produced. Above all we are entitled to ask why there
are any effects, or even why there is any ovum or any spermatozoon or
curious physiological investigator, to give the artificial stimulus.
Until some light is thrown upon these things we are still within the
system, or merely hovering round its confines, and are far away from any
final or philosophical explanation such as would satisfy the mind of
the man who wants to get a real and not a partial knowledge of the
things around him.

We may now turn to the question of Vitalism. It was long the regnant
theory; then temporarily the Cinderella of biology; it is now returning
to its early position, though still denied by those of the older school
of thought who cannot imagine the kitchen wench of yesterday the ruler
of to-day. One of the objections to Vitalism is that this explanation of
living things is thought by ignorant writers to be so inextricably mixed
up with theological considerations as to furnish a case of _stantis aut
cadentis ecclesiae_. That is, of course, absurd; but it creates an
undoubted bias against the theory. Hence it is the fashion amongst its
opponents to write of it as "mystical" or, as Loeb does, as
"supernatural," probably the most illogical term that could possibly be
used. What is Vitalism? It is the theory that there is some other
element--call it entelechy with Driesch, or call it what you like--in
living things than those elements known to chemistry and physics. If it
is _not_ there, _cadit quaestio_; if it _is_ there it is not
"supernatural." It might with reason be called "super-mechanical," or
"super-chemical," or "super-physical"; but if it is in Nature, as it is
held to be, it is not "supernatural" in any true sense of that word--no
dictionary confines the term "Nature" to the operations of chemistry and

A good deal of the misconception existing on this point comes from pure
ignorance of philosophy, a subject with which writers of this school
seldom have even a nodding acquaintance. "The idea of a quasi-superhuman
intelligence presiding over the forces of the living is met with in the
field of regeneration." Echoes of the Cartesian idea of the soul seem to
ring in this statement; but it could not have been written by anyone who
had mastered the Aristotelian or the Scholastic explanation of matter
and form. But let us take this question of Regeneration; the power which
all living things have, in some measure, though in very different
measure, of reconstructing themselves when injured. It has been dealt
with in a masterly manner by Driesch; and we may at once say that we do
not think that Loeb has in any way contraverted his argument, nor even
entered the first line of defence of that which is built up around what
he calls by the somewhat forbidding name of "Harmonious-Equipotential

Let us take one particular example, a very remarkable one, which has
been cited by both writers--Wolff's experiment on the lens of the eye.
The lens is just behind the pupil or central aperture in the iris or
coloured ring at the front of the eye, and behind the cornea which is to
the eye what a watch-glass is to a watch. If the lens of the eye be
removed from a newt, as it is from human beings in the operation for
cataract, the animal will grow another one. How does it do it? In
certain cases a tiny fragment of the lens has been left behind after the
operation, and the new one grows from that. This is sufficiently
wonderful, but by no means so wonderful as what happens in other cases
in which the entire lens has been removed and the new lens grows from
the outer pigmented layer of the margin of the iris. To the unbiological
reader one source of origin will not seem more wonderful than the other,
but there is really a vast distinction between them. At an early stage
in the development of the embryo, the cells composing it become
divisible into three layers. It is even possible, as Loeb maintains,
that this differentiation is present in the unsegmented ovum, in which
case the facts to be detailed become still more remarkable and
significant. These layers are known as epi-, meso-, and hypo-blast; and
from each one of them arise certain portions of the body, and certain
portions only. It would be as remarkable to a biologist to find these
layers not breeding true as it would to a fowl-fancier to discover that
the eggs of his Buff Orpingtons were producing young turkeys or ducks.
Now the lens is an epiblastic structure, and the iris is mesoblastic.
Hence the wonder with which we are filled when we find the iris growing
a lens. Loeb attempts to explain this in the first instance by telling
us that the cells of the iris cannot grow and develop as long as they
are pigmented; that the operation wounds the iris, allows pigment to
escape, and thus permits of proliferation. We may accept this, and yet
ask why it takes on a form of growth familiar to us only in connection
with epiblast? The reply is: "Young cells when put into the optic cup
always become transparent, no matter what their origin; it looks as if
this were due to a chemical influence, exercised by the optic cup or by
the liquid it contains.

"Lewis has shown that when the optic cup is transplanted into any other
place under the epithelium of a larva of a frog the epithelium will
always grow into the cup where the latter comes in contact with the
epithelium; and that the ingrowing part will always become transparent."
A most remarkable and interesting experiment; it has this very important
limitation--that it is always _epithelium_ with which it has to do,
whereas in Wolff's experiment the regeneration takes place from
mesoblastic tissue. The cause of the transparency may be a chemical
reaction--it depends a good deal upon our definition of that phrase. Is
protoplasm a chemical compound? Some have considered it so, and spoken
of its marvellously complicated molecule. Of course it is made up of
carbon, hydrogen, and other substances within the domain of chemistry.
But is it, therefore, merely a chemical compound? The reply involves the
whole riddle of Vitalism. The author would say that it, as well as all
the living things to which it belongs, is purely and solely a chemical
compound; and he must take the consequences of his belief. One of these
consequences, from which doubtless he would not shrink, would be that a
super-chemist (so to speak) could write him and his experiments and his
book down in a series of chemical formulæ--a consequence which takes a
good deal of believing. But it also involves him in a belief in the
rigidity of chemical reactions; and we are entitled to ask for an
explanation of the identical behaviour of the chemical reaction in
connection with epiblastic and mesoblastic cells--both pure chemical
compounds _ex hypothesi_ and, as far as we can tell from their normal
behaviour, widely differing from one another. The optic cup, or its
contained fluid, is one chemical compound; epithelium is another;
mesoblast is a third. We want an explanation of the identical behaviour
of the first with _either_ of the two latter; and this should be borne
in mind--that the reaction is not a mere matter of "clearing" of a
tissue as the histologist would clear his section by oil-of-cloves or
other reagent, but of the construction of a different type of
cell--epithelial, not connective tissue.

It certainly follows that there must be some superior, at least widely
different, agency at work than one of a purely chemical
character--something which transcends chemical operations. This is
precisely what the Vitalist claims. No one will fail to award praise to
any attempts to explain the phenomena of Nature, whether within or
without any system. Loeb's book sets out to do a great deal more--to
explain what it does not explain--the Organism as a Whole, and thus to
give a philosophical explanation of man. It even claims to afford hints
for a rule for his life, at least so we gather from the Preface, where,
alluding to "that group of freethinkers, including d'Alembert, Diderot,
Holbach and Voltaire," the author tells us that they "first dared to
follow the consequences of a mechanistic science--incomplete as it then
was--to the rules of human conduct, and thereby laid the foundation of
that spirit of tolerance, justice, and gentleness which was the hope of
our civilisation until it was buried under the wave of homicidal emotion
which has swept through the world." On which it is surely reasonable to
ask how a chemical reaction can learn so to alter itself as to exhibit
"tolerance, justice, and gentleness," attributes which it had not
previously possessed? Such claims of this and other writers, who would
find in the laws of Nature as formulated to-day (forgetful that their
formulæ may to-morrow be cast into the furnace) a rule of life as well
as a full explanation of the cosmos, resemble in their lack of base an
inverted pyramid.


Amongst the numerous taunts which are cast at the Catholic Church there
is none more frequently employed, nor, it may be added, more generally
believed, nor more injurious to her reputation amongst outsiders--even
with her own less-instructed children themselves at times--than the
allegation which declares that where the Church has full sway, science
cannot flourish, can scarcely in fact exist, and that the Church will
only permit men of science to study and to teach as and while she

To give but one example of this attitude towards the Church, readers may
be reminded that Huxley[23] called the Catholic Church "the vigorous
enemy of the highest life of mankind," and rejoiced that evolution, "in
addition to its truth, has the great merit of being in a position of
irreconcilable antagonism to it." An utterly incorrect, even ignorant
statement, by the way--but let that pass. The same writer, in a number
of places, in season and out of season, as we may fairly say,[24]
proclaims his wholly erroneous view that there is "a necessary
antagonism between science and Roman Catholic doctrine." We need not
labour this point. It is sufficiently obvious, nor does it need any
catena of authorities to establish the fact, that outside the Church,
and even, as we have hinted above, amongst the less-instructed of her
own children, there is a prevalent idea that the allegation with which
this paper proposes to deal is a true bill.

Those who give credit to the allegation must of course ignore certain
very patent facts which are, it will be allowed, a little difficult to
get over. They must commence by ignoring the historical fact that the
greater number--almost all indeed--of the older Universities, places
specially intended to foster and increase knowledge and research, owe
their origin to Papal bulls. They must ignore the fact that vast numbers
of scientific researches, often of fundamental importance, especially
perhaps in the subjects of anatomy and physiology, emanated from learned
men attached to seats of learning in Rome, and this during the Middle
Ages, and that the learned men who were their authors quite frequently
held official positions in the Papal Court. They must finally ignore the
fact that a large number of the most distinguished scientific workers
and discoverers in the past were also devout children of the Catholic
Church. Stensen, "the Father of Geology" and a great anatomical
discoverer as well, was a bishop; Mendel, whose name is so often heard
nowadays in biological controversies, was an abbot. And what about
Galvani, Volta, Pasteur, Schwann (the originator of the Cell Theory),
van Beneden, Johannes Müller, admitted by Huxley to be "the greatest
anatomist and physiologist among my contemporaries"?[25] What about
Kircher, Spallanzani, Secchi, de Lapparent, to take the names of persons
of different historical periods, and connected with different subjects,
yet all united in the bond of the Faith? To point to these men--and a
host of other names might be cited--is to overthrow at once and finally
the edifice of falsehood reared by enemies of the Church, who, before
erecting it, might reasonably have been asked to look to the security of
their foundations.

Still there is the edifice, and as every edifice must rest on some kind
of foundation or another, even if that foundation be nothing but sand,
it may be useful and interesting to inquire, as I now propose to do,
what foundation there is--if in fact there is any--for this particular

We might commence by interrogating the persons who make it. The
probability is that the reply which would at once be drawn from most of
them would amount to this: "Everybody knows it to be true." If the
interrogated person is amongst those less imperfectly informed we shall
probably be referred to Huxley or to some other writer. Or we may even
find ourselves confronted with that greater knowledge--or less
inspissated ignorance--which babbles about Galileo, the Inquisition, the
_Index_, and the _imprimatur_.

Galileo and his case we shall consider later on, for he and it are
really germane to the question with which we are dealing. The
Inquisition has really nothing to do with the matter. The _Index_ we
also reserve for a later part of this essay. With the _imprimatur_ we
may now deal, since there is no doubt that there is a genuine
misunderstanding on this subject on the part of some people who are
misled perhaps through ignorance of Latin and quite certainly through
ignorance of what the whole matter amounts to. Let us begin by reminding
ourselves that, though the unchanging Church is now, so far as I am
aware, the only body which issues an _imprimatur_, there were other
instances of the exercise of such a privilege even in recent or
comparatively recent days. There were Royal licences to print with which
we need not concern ourselves. But, what is important, there was a time
when the scientific authority of the day assumed the right of issuing an
_imprimatur_. I take the first book which occurs to me, Tyson's
_Anatomie of a Pygmie_, and for the sake of those who are not acquainted
with it, I may add that this book is not only the foundation-stone of
Comparative Anatomy, but also, through its appendix _A Philological
Essay Concerning the Pygmies, the Cynocephali, the Satyrs, and Sphinges
of the Ancients_, the foundation-stone of all folk-lore study. On the
page fronting the title of this work the following appears:

                                       _17 Die Maij, 1699._

       _Imprimatur Liber cui Titulus, Orang-Outang sive Homo
     Sylvestris, etc. Authore Edvardo Tyson, M.D., R.S.S._

                                    _John Hoskins, V.P.R.S._

What does this mean? In the first place it shows, what all instructed
persons know, that the Royal Society did then exercise the privilege of
giving an _imprimatur_ at any rate to books written by its own Fellows.
It cannot be supposed that such _imprimatur_ guaranteed the accuracy of
all the statements made by Tyson, for we may feel sure that John Hoskins
was quite unable to give any such assurance. We must assume that it
meant that there was nothing in the book which would reflect discredit
upon the Society of which Tyson was a Fellow and from which the
_imprimatur_ was obtained.

However this may be, the sway over its Fellows' publications was
exercised, and indeed very excellent arguments might be adduced for the
reassumption of such a sway even to-day.[26]

Though the _imprimatur_ in question has fallen into desuetude, it is, as
we all know, the commonest of things for the introductions to works of
science to occupy some often considerable part of their space with
acknowledgments of assistance given by learned friends who have read the
manuscript or the proofs and made suggestions with the object of
improving the book or adding to its accuracy. Any person who has written
a book can feel nothing but gratitude towards those who have helped him
to avoid the errors and slips to which even the most careful are

So that such acknowledgments of assistance have come to be almost what
the lawyers call "common form." What they really amount to is a
proclamation on the part of the author that he has done his best to
ensure that his book is free from mistakes. Now the _imprimatur_ really
amounts to the same thing, for it is, of course, confined to books or
parts of books where theology or philosophy trenching upon theology is
concerned. Thus a book may deal largely, perhaps mainly, with scientific
points, yet necessarily include allusions to theological dogmas. The
_imprimatur_ to such a book would relate solely and entirely to the
theological parts, just as the advice of an architectural authority on a
point connected with that subject in a work in which it was mentioned
only in an incidental manner, would refer to that point, and to nothing
else. Perhaps it should be added, that no author is obliged to obtain an
_imprimatur_ any more than he is compelled to seek advice on any other
point in connection with his book. "_Nihil Obstat_," says the skilled
referee: "I see no reason to suppose that there is anything in all this
which contravenes theological principles." To which the authority
appealed to adds "_imprimatur_:" "Then by all means let it be printed."
The procedure is no doubt somewhat more stately and formal than the
modern system of acknowledgments, yet in actual practice there is but
little to differentiate the two methods of ensuring, so far as is
possible, that the work is free from mistakes. That neither the
assistance of friends nor the _imprimatur_ of authorities is infallible
is proved by the facts that mistakes do creep into works of science,
however carefully examined, and that more than one book with an
_imprimatur_ has, none the less, found its way on to the _Index_. Before
leaving this branch of the subject one cannot refrain from calling
attention to another point. How often in advertisements of books do we
not see quotations from reviews in authoritative journals--a medical
work from the _Lancet_, a physical or chemical from _Nature_? Frequently
too we see "Mr. So-and-So, the well-known authority on the subject, says
of this book, etc., etc." What are all these authoritative commendations
but an _imprimatur_ up to date?

Passing from the _imprimatur_ to a closer consideration of our subject,
it is above all things necessary to take the advice of Samuel Johnson
and clear our minds of cant. Every person in this world--save perhaps a
Robinson Crusoe on an otherwise uninhabited island, and he only because
of his solitary condition--is in bondage more or less to others; that is
to say, has his freedom more or less interfered with. That this
interference is in the interests of the community and so, in the last
analysis, in the interests of the person interfered with himself, in no
way weakens the argument; it is rather a potent adjuvant to it. However
much I may dislike him and however anxious I may be to injure him, I may
not go out and set fire to my neighbour's house nor to his rick-yard,
unless I am prepared to risk the serious legal penalties which will be
my lot if I am detected in the act. I may not, if I am a small and
active boy, make a slide in the public street in frosty weather, unless
I am prepared--as the small boy usually is--to run the gauntlet of the
police. In a thousand ways my freedom, or what I call my freedom, is
interfered with: it is the price which I pay for being one item of a
social organism and for being in turn protected against others, who, in
virtue of that protection, are in their turn deprived of what they might
call their liberty.

No one can have failed to observe that this interference with personal
liberty becomes greater day by day. It is a tendency of modern
governments, based presumably upon increased experience, to increase
these protective regulations. Thus we have laws against adulteration of
food, against the placing of buildings concerned with obnoxious trades
in positions where people will be inconvenienced by them. We make
persons suffering from infectious diseases isolate themselves, and if
they cannot do this at home, we make them go to the fever hospital.
Further, we insist upon the doctor, whose position resembles that of a
confessor, breaking his obligation of professional secrecy and informing
the authorities as to the illness of his patient. We interfere with the
liberty of men and women to work as long as they like or to make their
children labour for excessive hours. We insist upon dangerous machinery
being fenced in. In a thousand ways we--the State--interfere with the
liberty of our fellows. Finally, when the needs of the community are
most pressing we interfere most with the freedom of the subject. Thus,
in these islands, we were recently living under a Defence of the Realm
Act--with which no reasonable person quarrelled. Yet it forbad many
things not only harmless in themselves but habitually permitted in times
of peace. We were subject to penalties if we showed lighted windows:
they must be shuttered or provided with heavy curtains. We might not
travel in railway carriages at night with the blinds undrawn. The papers
might not publish, nor we say in public, things which in time of peace
would go unnoticed. There were a host of other matters to which allusion
need not be made. Enough has been said to show that the State has and
exerts the right to control the actions of those who belong to it, and
that in time of stress it can and does very greatly intensify that
control and does so without arousing any real or widespread discontent.
Of course we all grumble, but then everybody, except its own members,
always does more or less grumble at anything done by any government:
that is the ordinary state of affairs. But at any rate we submit
ourselves, more or less gracefully, to this restraint because we
persuade ourselves or are persuaded that it is for the good of the State
and thus for the good of ourselves, both as private individuals and as
members of the State.

And many of us, at any rate, comfort ourselves with the thought that a
great many of the regulations which appear to be most tyrannical and
most to interfere with the natural liberty of mankind are devised not
with that end in view but with the righteous intention of protecting
those weaker members of the body who are unable to protect themselves.
If the State does not stand by such members and offer itself as their
shield and support, it has no claim to our obedience, no real right to
exist, and so we put up with the inconvenience, should such arise, on
account of the protection given to the weaker members and often extended
to those who would by no means feel pleased if they heard themselves
thus described.

Let us substitute the Church for the State and let us remember that
there are times when she is at closer grips with the powers of evil than
may be the case at other times. The parallel is surely sufficiently

So far as earthly laws can control one, no one is obliged to be a member
of the Catholic Church nor a citizen of the British Empire. I can, if I
choose, emigrate to America, in process of time naturalise myself there
and join the Christian Science organisation or any other body to which I
find myself attracted. But as long as I remain a Catholic and a British
citizen I must submit myself to the restrictions imposed by the bodies
with which I have elected to connect myself. We arrive at the conclusion
then that the ordinary citizen, even if he never adverts to the fact, is
in reality controlled and his liberty limited in all sorts of

Now the scientific man, in his own work, is subject to all sorts of
limitations, apart altogether from the limitations to which, as an
ordinary member of the State, he has to submit himself.

He is restricted by science: he is not completely free but is bound by
knowledge--the knowledge which he or others have acquired.

To say he is limited by it is not to say that he is imprisoned by it or
in bondage to it. "One does not lose one's intellectual liberty when one
learns mathematics," says the late Monsignor Benson in one of his
letters, "though one certainly loses the liberty of doing sums wrong or
doing them by laborious methods!"

Before setting out upon any research, the careful man of science sets
himself to study "the literature of the subject" as he calls it. He
delves into all sorts of out-of-the-way periodicals to ascertain what
such a man has written upon such a point. All this he does in order that
he may avoid doing a piece of work over again unnecessarily:
_unnecessarily_, for it maybe actually necessary to repeat it, if it is
of very great importance and if it has not been repeated and verified by
other observers. Further, he delves into this literature because it is
thus that he hopes to avoid the many blind alleys which branch off from
every path of research, delude their explorer with vain hopes and
finally bring him face to face with a blank wall. In a word the inquirer
consults his authorities and when he finds them worthy of reliance, he
limits his freedom by paying attention to them. He does not say: "How am
I held in bondage by this assertion that the earth goes round the sun,"
but accepting that fact, he rejects such of his conclusions as are
obviously irreconcilable with it. Surely this is plain common sense and
the man who acted otherwise would be setting himself a quite impossible
task. It is the weakness of the "heuristic method" that it sets its
pupils to find out things which many abler men have spent years in
investigating. The man who sets out to make a research, without first
ascertaining what others have done in that direction, proposes to
accumulate in himself the abilities and the life-work of all previous
generations of labourers in that corner of the scientific vineyard.

There is a somewhat amusing and certainly interesting instance of this
which will bear quotation. The late Mr. Grant Allen, who knew something
of quite a number of subjects though perhaps not very much about any of
them, devoted most of his time and energies (outside his stories, some
of which are quite entertaining) to not always very accurate essays in
natural history. One day, however, his evil genius prompted him to write
and, worse still, to publish a book entitled _Force and Energy: A Theory
of Dynamics_, in which he purported to deal with a matter of which he
knew far less even than he did about animated nature. Mark the
inevitable result! A copy of the book was forwarded to the journal
_Nature_, and sent by its editor to be dealt with by the competent hands
of Sir Oliver (then Professor) Lodge.[27]

This is how that eminent authority dealt with it. "There exists a
certain class of mind," he commences, "allied perhaps to the Greek
sophist variety, to which ignorance of a subject offers no sufficient
obstacle to the composition of a treatise upon it." It may be rash to
suggest that this type of mind is well developed in philosophers of the
Spencerian school, though it would be possible to adduce some evidence
in support of such a suggestion. "In the volume before us," he
continues, "Mr. Grant Allen sets to work to reconstruct the fundamental
science of dynamics, an edifice which, since the time of Galileo and
Newton, has been standing on what has seemed a fairly secure and
substantial basis, but which he seems to think it is now time to
demolish in order to make room for a newly excogitated theory. The
attempt is audacious and the result--what might have been expected. The
performance lends itself indeed to the most scathing criticism; blunders
and misstatements abound on nearly every page, and the whole thing is
simply an emanation of mental fog." It would occupy too much space to
reproduce this criticism with any fullness, but one or two points
exceedingly germane to our subject can hardly go without notice.
Alluding to a certain question, which seems to have greatly bothered Mr.
Allen and likewise Mr. Clodd, who, it would appear, was associated with
him in this performance, the reviewer says: "The puzzle was solved
completely long ago, in the clearest possible manner, and the
'_Principia_' is the witness to it; but it is still felt to be a
difficulty by beginners, and I suppose there is no offence in applying
this harmless epithet to both Mr. Grant Allen and Mr. Clodd, so far as
the truths of dynamics and physics are concerned." One last quotation:
"The thing which strikes one most forcibly about the physics of these
paper philosophers is the extraordinary contempt which, if they are
consistent, they must or ought to feel for men of science. If Newton,
Lagrange, Gauss, and Thompson, to say nothing of smaller men, have
muddled away their brains in concocting a scheme of dynamics wherein the
very definitions are all wrong; if they have arrived at a law of
conservation of energy without knowing what the word energy means, or
how to define it; if they have to be set right by an amateur who has
devoted a few weeks or months to the subject and acquired a rude
smattering of some of its terms, 'what intolerable fools they must all
be!'" Such is the result of asserting one's freedom by escaping the
limitations of knowledge! We see what happens when a person sets out to
deal with science untrammelled by any considerations as to what others
have thought and established. The necessary result is that he plunges
headforemost into all or most of the errors which were pitfalls to the
first labourers in the field. Or, again, he painfully and uselessly
pursues the blind alleys which they had wandered in, and from which a
perusal of their works would have warned off later comers.

Oh, irony of fate! the same thing precisely happens when men of
scientific eminence indulge in religious dissertations, for of course,
though it is not quite so obvious to such writers, the same blunder is
quite possible in non-scientific fields of knowledge. I once asked one
versed in theology what he thought of the religious articles of a
distinguished man, unfamiliar himself with theology, yet, none the less,
then splashing freely and to the great admiration of the ignorant, in
the theological pool. His reply was that in so far as they were at all
constructive, they consisted mostly of exploded heresies of the first
century. Is not this precisely what one would have expected _a priori_?
A man commencing to write on science or religion who neglects the work
of earlier writers places himself in the position of the first students
of the subject and very naturally will make the same mistakes as they
made. He refuses to be hampered and biased by knowledge, and the result
follows quite inevitably. "A scientist," says Monsignor Benson, "is
hampered and biased by knowing the earth goes round the sun." The fact
of the matter is that the man of science is not a solitary figure, a
_chimæra bombinans in vacuo_. In whatever direction he looks he is faced
by the figures of other workers and he is limited and "hampered" by
their work. Nor are these workers all of them in his own area of
country, for the biologist, for example, cannot afford to neglect the
doings of the chemist; if he does he is bound to find himself led into
mistakes. No doubt the scientific man is at times needlessly hampered by
theories which he and others at the time take to be fairly well
established facts, but which after all turn out to be nothing of the
kind. This in no way weakens the argument, but rather by giving an
additional reason for caution, strengthens it.

If we carefully consider the matter we shall be unable to come to any
other conclusion than that every writer, even of the wildest form of
fiction, is in some way and to some extent hampered and limited by
knowledge, by facts, by things as they are or as they appear to be. That
will be admitted; but it will be urged that the hampering and limiting
with which we have been dealing is not merely legitimate but inevitable,
whereas the hampering and limiting--should such there be--on the part of
the Church is wholly illegitimate and indefensible.

"All that you say is no doubt true," our antagonist will urge, "but you
have still to show that your Church has any right or title to interfere
in these matters. And even if you can make some sort of case for her
interference, you have still to disprove what so many people believe,
namely, that the right, real or assumed, has not been arbitrarily used
to the damage, or at least to the delay of scientific progress.
Chemistry," we may suppose our antagonist continuing, "no doubt has a
legitimate right to have its say, even to interfere and that
imperatively, where chemical considerations invade the field of biology,
for example. But what similar right does religion possess? For
instance," he might proceed, "some few years ago a distinguished
physiologist, then occupying the Chair of the British Association,
invoked the behaviour of certain chemical substances known as colloids
in favour of his anti-vitalistic conclusions. At once he was answered by
a number of equally eminent chemists that the attitude he had adopted
was quite incompatible with facts as known to them; in a word, that
chemistry disagreed with his ideas as to colloids. Everybody admitted
that the chemists must have the final word on this subject: are you now
claiming that religion or theology, or whatever you choose to call it,
is also entitled to a say in a matter of that kind?" This supposititious
conversation illustrates the confusion which exists in many minds as to
the point at issue. One science is entitled to contradict another, just
as one scientific man is entitled to contradict another on a question of
fact. But on a question of _fact_ a theologian is not entitled--_quâ_
theologian--nor would he be expected to claim to be entitled, to
contradict a man of science.

It ought to be widely known, though it is not, that the idea that
theologians can or wish to intrude--again _quâ_ theologians--in
scientific disputes as to chemical, biological, or other facts, is a
fantastic idea without real foundation save that of the one mistake of
the kind made in the case of Galileo and never repeated--a mistake, let
us hasten to add, made by a disciplinary authority and--as all parties
admit--in no way involving questions of infallibility. To this case we
will revert shortly. Meanwhile it may be briefly stated that the claim
made by the Church is in connection with some few--some very few--of
the _theories_ which men of science build up upon the facts which they
have brought to light. Some of these theories do appear to contradict
theological dogmas, or at least may seem to simple people to be
incompatible with such dogmas, just as the people of his
time--Protestants by the way, no less than Catholics--did really think
that Galileo's theory conflicted with Holy Writ. In such cases, and in
such cases alone, the Church holds that she has at least the right to
say that such a theory should not be proclaimed to be true until there
is sufficient proof for it to satisfy the scientific world that the
point has been demonstrated.

This is really what is meant by the tyranny of the Church; and it may
now be useful to consider briefly what can be said for her position. We
must begin by looking at the matter from the Church's standpoint. It is
a good rule to endeavour to understand your opponent's position before
you try to confute him; an excellent rule seldom complied with by
anti-Catholic controversialists. Now the Church starts with the
proposition that man has an immortal soul destined to eternal happiness
or eternal misery, and she proceeds to claim that she has been divinely
constituted to help man to enjoy a future of happiness. Of course these
are opinions which all do not share, and with the arguments for and
against which we cannot here deal. If a man is quite sure that he has no
soul and that there is no hereafter there is nothing more to be said
than: "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." Nothing very much
matters in this world except that we should make ourselves as
comfortable as we can during the few years we have to spend in it.

Again, there are others who, whilst believing the first doctrine set
down above, will have none of the other. With them we enter into no
argument here, and only say that to have a guide is better than to have
no guide. Catholics, who accept gratefully her guidance, do believe that
the Church can help a man to save his soul, and that she is entrusted,
to that end, with certain powers. Her duty is to preserve and guard the
Christian Revelation--the scheme of doctrine regarding belief and
conduct by which Jesus Christ taught that souls were to be saved. She is
not an arbitrary ruler. Her office is primarily that of Judge and
Interpreter of the deposit of doctrine entrusted to her.

In this she claims to be safeguarded against error, though her
infallible utterances would seem incredibly few, if summed up and
presented to the more ignorant of her critics. She also claims to derive
from her Founder legislative power by which she can make decrees, unmake
them or modify and vary them to suit different times and circumstances.
She rightfully claims the obedience of her children to this exercise of
her authority, but such disciplinary enactments, by their very nature
variable and modifiable, do not and cannot come within the province of
her infallibility, and admittedly they need not be always perfectly wise
or judicious. Such disciplinary utterances, it may be added, at least
in the field of which we are treating, indeed in any field, are also
incredibly few when due regard is had to the enormous number of cases
passing under the Church's observation.

We saw just now that the State exercised a very large jurisdiction for
the purpose of protecting the weak who were unable or little able to
protect themselves. It is really important to remember, when we are
considering the powers of the Church and her exercise of them, that
these disciplinary powers are put in operation, not from mere arrogance
or an arbitrary love of domination--as too many suppose--but with the
primary intention of protecting and helping the weaker members of the
flock. If the Church consisted entirely of theological experts a good
deal of this exercise of disciplinary power might very likely be
regarded as wholly unnecessary. Thus the Church freely concedes not only
to priests and theologians, but to other persons adequately instructed
in her teaching, full permission to read books which she has placed on
her black list or _Index_--from which, in other words, she has warned
off the weaker members of the flock.

The net of Peter, however, as all very well know, contains a very great
variety of fish, and--to vary the metaphor--to the fisherman was given
charge not only of the sheep--foolish enough, heaven knows!--but also of
the still more helpless lambs. Thus it becomes the duty and the
privilege of the successors of the fisherman to protect the sheep and
the lambs, and not merely to protect them from wild beasts who may try
to do harm from without, but quite as much from the wild rams of the
flock who are capable of doing a great deal of injury from within. In
one of his letters, from which quotation has already been made, the late
Monsignor Benson sums up, in homely, but vivid language, the point with
which we have just been dealing. "Here are the lambs of Christ's flock,"
he writes: "Is a stout old ram to upset and confuse them when he needn't
... even though he is right? The flock must be led gently and turned in
a great curve. We can't all whip round in an instant. We are tired and
discouraged and some of us are exceedingly stupid and obstinate. Very
well; then the rams can't be allowed to make brilliant excursions in all
directions and upset us all. We shall get there some day, if we are
treated patiently. We are Christ's lambs after all."

The protection of the weak: surely, if it be deemed both just and wise
on the part of the civil government to protect its subjects by
legislation in regard to adulterated goods, contagious diseases,
unhealthy workshops and dangerous machinery, why may not the Church
safeguard her children, especially her weaker children, the special
object of her care and solicitude, from noxious intellectual foods?

It is just here that the question of the _Index_ arises. Put briefly,
this is a list of books which are not to be read by Catholics unless
they have permission to read them--a permission which, as we have just
seen, is never refused when any good reason can be given for the
request. I can understand the kind of person who says: "Exactly, locking
up the truth; why not let everybody read just what they like?" To which
I would reply that every careful parent has an _Index Prohibitorius_ for
his household; or ought to have one if he has not. I once knew a woman
who allowed her daughter to plunge into _Nana_ and other works of that
character as soon as she could summon up enough knowledge of French to
fathom their meaning. The daughter grew up and the result has not been
encouraging to educationists thinking of proceeding on similar lines.
The State also has its _Index Prohibitorius_ and will not permit
indecent books nor indecent pictures to be sold. Enough: let us again
clear our minds of cant. There is a limit with regard to publications in
every decent State and every decent house: it is only a question where
the line is drawn. It is obvious that the Church must be permitted at
least as much privilege in this matter as is claimed by every
respectable father of a family.

We need not pursue the question of the _Index_ any further, but before
we leave it let us for a moment turn to another accusation levelled
against Catholic men of science by anti-Catholic writers, that of
concealing their real opinions on scientific matters, and even of
professing views which they do not really hold, out of a craven fear of
ecclesiastical denunciations. The attitude which permits of such an
accusation is hardly courteous, but, stripped of its verbiage, that is
the accusation as it is made. Now, as there are usually at least some
smouldering embers of fire where there is smoke, there is just one small
item of truth behind all this pother. No Catholic, scientific man or
otherwise, who really honours his Faith would desire wilfully to advance
theories apparently hostile to its teaching. Further, even if he were
convinced of the truth of facts which might appear--it could only be
"appear"--to conflict with that teaching, he would, in expounding them,
either show how they could be harmonised with his religion, or, if he
were wise, would treat his facts from a severely scientific point of
view and leave other considerations to the theologians trained in
directions almost invariably unexplored by scientific men. Perhaps the
memory of old, far-off, unhappy events should not be recalled, but it is
pertinent to remark that the troubles in connection with a man whose
name once stood for all that was stalwart in Catholicism, did not
originate in, nor were they connected with, any of the scientific books
and papers of which the late Professor Mivart was the author, but with
those theological essays which all his friends must regret that he
should ever have written.

It may not be waste of time briefly to consider two of the instances
commonly brought up as examples when the allegation with which we are
dealing is under consideration.

First of all let us consider the case of Gabriel Fallopius, who
lived--it is very important to note the date--1523-1562; a Catholic and
a churchman. Now it is gravely asserted that Fallopius committed
himself to misleading views, views which he knew to be misleading,
because he thought that he was thereby serving the interest of the
Church. What he said concerned fossils, then beginning to puzzle the
scientific world of the day. Confronted with these objects and living,
as he did, in an unscientific age, when the seven days of creation were
interpreted as periods of twenty-four hours each and the universality of
the Noachian deluge was accepted by everybody, it would have been
something like a miracle if he had at once fathomed the true meaning of
the shark's teeth, elephant's bones, and other fossil remains which came
under his notice. His idea was that all these things were mere
concretions "generated by fermentation in the spots where they were
found," as he very quaintly and even absurdly put it. The accusation,
however, is not that Fallopius made a mistake--as many another man has
done--but that he deliberately expressed an opinion which he did not
hold and did so from religious motives. Of course, this includes the
idea that he knew what the real explanation was, for had he not known
it, he could not have been guilty of making a false statement. There is
no evidence whatever that Fallopius ever had so much as a suspicion of
the real explanation, nor, it may be added, had any other man of science
for the century which followed his death.

Then there arose another Catholic churchman, Nicolaus Stensen
(1631-1686), who, by the way, ended his days as a bishop, who did solve
the riddle, giving the answer which we accept to-day as correct, and on
whom was conferred by his brethren two hundred years later the title of
"The Father of Geology." It is a little difficult to understand how the
"unchanging Church" should have welcomed, or at least in no way objected
to, Stensen's views when the mere entertainment of them by Fallopius is
supposed to have terrified him into silence. But when the story of
Fallopius is mistold, as indicated above, it need hardly be said that
the story of Stensen is never so much as alluded to.

The real facts of the case are these: Fallopius was one of the most
distinguished men of science of his day. Every medical student becomes
acquainted with his name because it is attached to two parts of the
human body which he first described. He made a mistake about fossils,
and that is the plain truth--as we now know, a most absurd mistake, but
that is all. As we hinted above, he is very far from being the only
scientific man who has made a mistake. Huxley had a very bad fall over
_Bathybius_ and was man enough to admit that he was wrong. Curiously
enough, what Huxley thought a living thing really was a concretion, just
as what Fallopius thought a concretion had been a living thing.

Another extremely curious fact is that another distinguished man of
science, who lived three hundred years later than Fallopius and had all
the knowledge which had accumulated during that prolific period to
assist him, the late Philip Gosse, fell into the same pit as Fallopius.
As his son tells us, he wrote a book to prove that when the sudden act
of creation took place the world came into existence so constructed as
to bear the appearance of a place which had for æons been inhabited by
living things, or, as some of his critics unkindly put it, "that God hid
the fossils in the rocks in order to tempt geologists into infidelity."
Gosse had the real answer under his eyes which Fallopius had not, for
the riddle was unread in the latter's days. Yet Gosse's really
unpardonable mistake was attributed to himself alone, and "Plymouth
Brethrenism," which was the sect to which he belonged, was not saddled
with it, nor have the Brethren been called obscurantists because of it.

Of course there is a second string to the accusation we are dealing
with. If the scientific man did really express new and perhaps startling
opinions, they would have been much newer and much more startling had he
not held himself in for fear of the Church and said only about half of
what he might have said. It is the half instead of the whole loaf of the
former accusation. Thus, in its notice of Stensen, the current issue of
the _Encyclopædia Britannica_ says: "Cautiously at first, for fear of
offending orthodox opinion, but afterwards more boldly, he proclaimed
his opinion that these objects (_viz._ fossils) had once been parts of
living animals."

One may feel quite certain that if Stensen had not been a Catholic
ecclesiastic this notice would have run--and far more
truthfully--"Cautiously at first, until he felt that the facts at his
disposal made his position quite secure, and then more boldly, etc.

What in the ordinary man of science is caution, becomes cowardice in the
Catholic. We shall find another example of this in the case of Buffon
(1707-1788) often cited as that of a man who believed all that Darwin
believed and one hundred years before Darwin, and who yet was afraid to
say it because of the Church to which he belonged. This mistake is
partly due to that lamentable ignorance of Catholic teaching, not to say
that lamentable incapacity for clear thinking, on these matters, which
afflicts some non-Catholic writers. Let us take an example from an
eminently fairly written book, in which, dealing with Buffon, the author
says: "I cannot agree with those who think that Buffon was an
out-and-out evolutionist, who concealed his opinions for fear of the
Church. No doubt he did trim his sails--the palpably insincere _Mais
non, il est certain par la révélation que tous les animaux ont également
participé à la grâce de la création_, following hard upon the too bold
hypothesis of the origin of all species from a single one, is proof of
it." Of course it is nothing of the kind, for, whatever Buffon may have
meant, and none but himself could tell us, it is perfectly clear that
whether creation was mediate (as under transformism considered from a
Christian point of view it would be) or immediate, every created thing
would participate in the grace of creation, which is just the point
which the writer from whom the quotation has been made has missed.

The same writer furnishes us with the real explanation of Buffon's
attitude when he says that Buffon was "too sane and matter-of-fact a
thinker to go much beyond his facts, and his evolution doctrine remained
always tentative." Buffon, like many another man, from St. Augustine
down to his own times, considered the transformist explanation of living
nature. He saw that it unified and simplified the conceptions of species
and that there were certain facts which seemed strongly to support it.
But he does not seem to have thought that they were sufficient to
establish it and he puts forward his views in the tentative manner which
has just been suggested.

The fact is that those who father the accusations with which we have
been dealing either do not know, or scrupulously conceal their
knowledge, that what they proclaim to be scientific cowardice is really
scientific caution, a thing to be lauded and not to be decried.

Let us turn to apply the considerations with which we have been
concerned to the case of Galileo, to which generally misunderstood
affair we must very briefly allude, since it is the standby of
anti-Catholic controversialists. Monsignor Benson, in connection with
the quotation recently cited, proclaimed himself "a violent defender of
the Cardinals against Galileo." Perhaps no one will be surprised at his
attitude, but those who are not familiar with his _Life and Letters_
will certainly be surprised to learn that Huxley, after examining into
the question, "arrived at the conclusion that the Pope and the College
of Cardinals had rather the best of it."[28]

None the less it is the stock argument. Father Hull, S. J., whose
admirable, outspoken, and impartial study of the case[29] should be on
everybody's bookshelves, freely admits that the Roman Congregations made
a mistake in this matter and thus takes up a less favourable position
towards them than even the violently anti-Catholic Huxley.

No one will deny that the action of the Congregation was due to a desire
to prevent simple persons from having their faith upset by a theory
which seemed at the time to contradict the teaching of the Bible.
Remember that it was only a theory and that, when it was put forward,
and indeed for many years afterwards, it was not only a theory, but one
supported by no sufficient evidence. It was not in fact until many years
after Galileo's death that final and convincing evidence as to the
accuracy of his views was laid before the scientific world. There can be
but little doubt that if Galileo had been content to discuss his theory
with other men of science, and not to lay it down as a matter of proved
fact--which, as we have seen, it was not--he would never have been
condemned. Whilst we may admit, with Father Hull, that a mistake was
made in this case, we may urge, with Cardinal Newman, that it is the
only case in which such a thing has happened--surely a remarkable fact.
It is not for want of opportunities. Father Hull very properly cites
various cases where a like difficulty might possibly have arisen, but
where, as a matter of fact, it has not. For example, the geographical
universality of the Deluge was at one time, and that not so very long
ago, believed to be asserted by the Bible; while, on the other hand,
geologists seemed to be able to show, and in the event did show, that
such a view was scientifically untenable. The attention of theologians
having been called to this matter, and a further study made of passages
which until then had probably attracted but little notice, and quite
certainly had never been considered from the new point of view, it
became obvious that the meaning which had been attached to the passages
in question was not the necessary meaning, but on the contrary, a
strained interpretation of the words. No public fuss having arisen about
this particular difficulty, the whole matter was gradually and quietly
disposed of. As Father Hull says, "the new view gradually filtered down
from learned circles to the man in the street, so that nowadays the
partiality of the Deluge is a matter of commonplace knowledge among all
educated Christians, and is even taught to the rising generation in
elementary schools."

In accordance with the wise provisions of the Encyclical
_Providentissimus Deus_, with which all educated Catholics should make
themselves familiar, conflicts have been avoided on this, and on other
points, such as the general theory of evolution and the various problems
connected with it; the antiquity of man upon the earth and other
matters as to which science is still uncertain. Some of these points
might seem to conflict with the Bible and the teachings of the Church.
As Catholics we can rest assured that the true explanation, whenever it
emerges, cannot be opposed to the considered teaching of the Church.
What the Church does--and surely it must be clear that from her
standpoint she could not do less--is to instruct Catholic men of science
not to proclaim _as proved facts_ such modern theories--and there are
many of them--as still remain wholly unproved, when these theories are
such as might seem to conflict with the teaching of the Church. This is
very far from saying that Catholics are forbidden to study such

On the contrary, they are encouraged to do so, and that, need it be
said, with the one idea of ascertaining the truth? Men of science,
Catholic and otherwise, have, as a mere matter of fact, been time and
again encouraged by Popes and other ecclesiastical authorities to go on
searching for the truth, never, however, neglecting the wise maxim that
all things must be proved. So long as a theory is unproved, it must be
candidly admitted that it is a crime against science to proclaim it to
be incontrovertible truth, yet this crime is being committed every day.
It is really against it that the _magisterium_ of the Church is
exercised. The wholesome discipline which she exercises might also be
exercised to the great benefit of the ordinary reading public by some
central scientific authority, can such be imagined, endowed with the
right to say (and in any way likely to be listened to): "Such and such a
statement is interesting--even extremely interesting--but so far one
must admit that no sufficient proof is forthcoming to establish it as a
fact: it ought not, therefore, to be spoken of as other than a theory,
nor proclaimed as fact."

Such constraint when rightly regarded is not or would not be a shackling
of the human intellect, but a kindly and intelligent guidance of those
unable to form a proper conclusion themselves. Such is the idea of the
Church in the matter with which we have been dealing.


  [Footnote 23: _Darwiniana_, p. 147.]

  [Footnote 24: See, for example, his _Life and Letters_,
  i., 307.]

  [Footnote 25: _Hume_, _English Men of Letters Series_, p. 135.]

  [Footnote 26: Of course, it may be argued, no Fellow need have
  applied for an _imprimatur_; he did it _ex majori cantelâ_ as
  the lawyers say. This may be so, but the same applies to the
  ecclesiastical _imprimatur_.]

  [Footnote 27: The review from which the following quotations
  are made appeared in _Nature_ on January 24, 1889.]

  [Footnote 28: Vol. ii., p. 113.]

  [Footnote 29: _Galileo and His Condemnation_, Catholic Truth
  Society of England.]


Amongst various important matters now brought to a sharper focus in the
public eye, few, if any, require more careful attention than that which
is concerned with science, its value, its position, its teachings, and
how it should be taught. No one who has followed the domestic
difficulties due to our neglect of the warnings of scientific men can
fail to see how we have had to suffer because of the lax conduct of
those responsible for these things in the past.

Within the first few weeks after the war broke out--to take one
example--every medical man was the recipient of a document telling him
of the expected shortage in a number of important drugs and suggesting
the substitutes which he might employ. It was a timely warning; but it
need never have been issued if we had not allowed the manufacture of
drugs, and especially those of the so-called "synthetic" group, to drift
almost entirely into the hands of the Badische Aniline Fabrik, and
kindred firms in Germany. This difficulty, now partly overcome, is one
which never would have arisen but for the deaf ear turned to the
warnings of the scientific chemists. British pharmaceutical chemists,
with one or two exceptions, had been relying upon foreign sources not
only for synthetic drugs but actually for the raw materials of many of
their preparations--such, for example, as aconite, belladonna, henbane,
all of which can be freely grown--which even grow wild--in these
islands; even, incredible as it may seem, for foxglove leaves. These
things with many others were imported from Germany and Austria. Here
again leeway has had to be made up; but it ought never to have been
necessary, and now that the war is over steps should be taken to see
that it never need be necessary again. The encouragement of British
herb-gardens and of scientific experiment therein on the best method of
culture for the raw material of our organic medicines must certainly be
matters early taken in hand.

The classical example of the mortal injury done to British manufacture
by the British manufacturer's former contempt for the scientific man is
that of the aniline dyes, which are so closely associated with the
synthetic drugs as to form one subject of discussion. Quite early in the
war dye-stuffs ran short, and there was no means of replenishing the
stock in Britain, nor even in America, these products having formed the
staple of a colossal manufacture, with an enormous financial turnover,
in Germany.

Let us look at the history of these dyes. The first aniline dye was
discovered quite by accident, in 1856, by the late Professor W. H.
Perkin. He called it "mauve," from the French word for the mallow, the
colour of whose flower it somewhat resembled. In 1862 there was an
International Exhibition in London; and those who remembered it and its
predecessor of 1851 have declared that the case of aniline
dye-stuffs--for by that time quite a number of new pigments had been
discovered--excited at the later the same attention as that given to the
Koh-i-noor at the earlier. The invention, out of which grew the enormous
German business already alluded to, and with which has been associated
the discovery and manufacture of the synthetic drugs, was entirely
British in its inception and in its early stages. Moreover the raw
materials on which it depended, namely, gas-tar products, were to be had
in greater abundance in England than anywhere else. Yet, at the time
when the war broke out, this industry had been allowed almost entirely
to drift into German hands.

How was this? Let an expert reply. It was due, he tells us, to the
neglect of "the repeated warnings which have been issued since that
time" (_viz._ 1880, by which date the Germans had succeeded in capturing
the trade in question) "in no uncertain voice by Meldola, Green, the
Perkins (father and son), and many other English chemists." Further, he
continues, two causes have invariably been indicated for the transfer of
this industry to Germany--"first the neglect of organic chemistry in the
Universities and colleges of this country" (a neglect which has long
ceased), "and then the disregard by manufacturers of scientific methods
and assistance and total indifference to the practice of research in
connection with their processes and products." I remember talking some
twenty-five years ago to a highly educated young student of Birmingham
who was of German parentage though of English birth. He had just taken
the degree of Doctor of Science in London University, and was on the eve
of abandoning the adopted country of his parents for a position in the
research laboratories of the Badische company, where he would be one
among a number of chemists, running into hundreds, all engaged in
research on gas-tar products. At that moment the great Birmingham
gas-company was employing the services of one trained chemist.

Such was and is the neglect of science by business men. Could it have
been otherwise, considering their bringing up? Let me again be
reminiscent. I suppose the public school in England (not a Catholic
school, for I was then a Protestant) at which I pursued what were
described as studies did not in any very marked degree differ from its
sister schools throughout the country. How was science encouraged there?
One hour per week, exactly one-fifth of the time devoted weekly, not to
Greek and Latin (that would have been almost sacrilegious), but to the
writing of Greek and Latin prose and alleged Greek and Latin verse--that
was the amount of time which was devoted to what was called science. I
suppose I had an ingrained vocation for science, for it was the only
subject, except English composition, in which I ever felt interest at
school. If the vocation had not been there, any interest in the subject
must necessarily have been slain once for all in me, as I am sure it was
in scores of others, by the way it was taught; for the instruction was
confided to the ordinary form-master, who doled out his questions from a
text-book perfunctorily used and probably heartily despised by a man
brought up on strict classical or mathematical lines. Our manufacturer
is brought up in a school of this kind, and it would be a miracle if he
emerged from it with any respect for science. Things have changed now,
and for the better, as they have at most of the Universities; but we are
dealing with the generation of manufacturers of my age who were largely
responsible for the neglects now in question. Well, the boy left his
school and went to Oxford or Cambridge, neither of which then greatly
encouraged science. Its followers were, I believe, known as "Stinks
Men." At any rate it is only comparatively recently that we have seen
the splendid developments of to-day in those ancient institutions. One
relic of the ancient days gives us an illuminating idea of how things
used to be, just as a fossil shows us the environment of its day.[30]
Trinity College, Dublin, has fine provision for scientific teaching, and
a highly competent staff to teach. But in its constitution it shows the
attitude towards science which till lately informed the older

Trinity College has in its Fellowship system one of the most important
series of pecuniary rewards perhaps in Europe, of an educational
character. A man has only once to pass an examination, admittedly one of
great severity and competitive in character, and thenceforward to go on
living respectably and doing such duties as are committed to him, to be
ensured an excellent and increasing income for life. How great the
rewards are will be gathered from the fact that a distinguished occupant
of one of these positions some years ago endeavoured--with complete
success--to enforce on me the importance of the Fellowship examination
by telling me that he had already received over £50,000 in emoluments as
a result of his success. He has received a good deal more since, and I
hope will continue to be the recipient of this shower of gold for many
years to come.[31] No doubt much might be urged for this system, which
was for a long time popular in China for the selection of Mandarins, and
I am not criticising it here. What I want to emphasise is that the
examination for these valuable positions is either classical or
mathematical, and there it ends. The greatest biologist in the world
would have as much chance of a Fellowship as the ragged urchin in the
street unless he could "settle Hoti's business" or elucidate [Greek: P]
or do other things of that kind. It is a luminous example of what
was--must we say is?--thought of science in certain academic circles.
Of course it may be urged--I have actually heard it urged--that nothing
is science save that which is treatable by mathematical methods. It was
a kind of inverted M. Jourdain who used this argument, a gentleman who
imagined himself to have been teaching science during a long life
without ever having effected what he supposed to be his object. Then,
again, our manufacturer, whose object in life is to make money, is
naturally, perhaps even necessarily, affected by the kind of salaries
which highly trained and highly eminent men of science receive by way of
reward for their work. Few, if any, receive anything like the emoluments
attaching to the position of County Court Judge, and I know of only one
case in which a Professor's income, to the delight and envy of all the
teaching profession, actually, for a few years, soared somewhat near the
empyrean of a Puisne Judge's reward.

Perhaps this is not to be wondered at; for Parliament always contains
many lawyers, and at the moment, I think, not a single scientific
expert, at least among the Commons. This is not really a sordid
argument, though it may appear so. The labourer, after all, is worthy of
his hire; but in the scientific world it very, very seldom happens that
the hire is worthy of the labourer. Even to this day there is plenty of
truth in the description of the attitude of Mr. Meagles towards Mr.
Doyce as detailed by the author of _Little Dorrit_. Perhaps that is
partly because it is generally the man of business, and not the unhappy
man of science, who gains the money produced by scientific discoveries.
These are often, if not usually, made by accident, and by a man on the
track of something else, on the elucidation of which he is probably so
intent that he cannot spare time for side-issues, very likely never even
thinks of them. Sir James Dewar discovered the principle of the "Thermos
flask" whilst he was working at the exceedingly difficult subject of the
liquefaction of air. I hope Sir James had the prescience to patent his
discovery, and reap the reward which was due to him; but, if he did, he
is one amongst a thousand who never took this trouble and of whom _Sic
vos non vobis_ might well be said. When Sabatier had shown the
importance of combinations of hydrogen effected by what is known as a
catalyst, numerous patents were taken out--by other people, of
course--on which were founded very flourishing businesses. Sabatier
profited by none of these--so I understand. He received a Nobel prize
for his discoveries; but another hath his heritage.

Though science has not received any great encouragement, yet in spite of
that--the cynic might say because of that--it has made amazing progress
during the past half-century. Mr. Chesterton somewhere notes that "a
time may easily come when we shall see the great outburst of science in
the Nineteenth Century as something quite as splendid, brief, unique,
and ultimately abandoned as the outburst of art at the Renaissance."
That, of course, may be so, but as to the outburst there can be no
question, nor of its persistence to the present day. That also is surely
a curious phenomenon; for, as regards most other things, we seem to be
in the trough of the wave, and not merely in these islands but all over
the civilised world. In Art, in Music, in Literature, in the Drama, it
would be difficult to argue in favour of a pre-eminence, or even of an
equality of the present age, comparing it with its predecessors.

Take the politicians of the world; it is perhaps difficult, even
foolish, for us who are living with them to prophesy with any
approximation of accuracy what the historian of a future day may say
about them. He may sum them up as respectable, honest mediocrities
trying to do their best under exceptionally difficult circumstances; he
may put them lower; he may put them higher; he may differentiate between
those of different nations; but there is little doubt that, with the
exception of the American President, he will not be able to point to any
one of the calibre of Pitt or of Bismarck or of the less severely tried
Disraeli or Gladstone.

But just the reverse is the case in science, which has men of the very
first rank living, working, and discovering to-day. There are indeed
signs that even our Government is cognizant of this. The creation of a
Department of Industrial Scientific Research, the provision of a
substantial income for the same, the increase of research-grants to
learned societies, these and other things show that some attempt will be
made to recognise the value of science to the State. Further, the
lesson seems to have gone home to some few at least that there is no
difference between what have been absurdly called Pure and Applied
Science, since so very many "Applied" discoveries--such as the
"Thermos"--arose in the course of what certainly would have been
described as "Pure" researches.

It is to the public advantage that every educated person should know
something about science; nor is this by any means as big or difficult an
achievement as some may imagine. It is not necessary to teach any very
large number of persons very much about any particular science or group
of sciences. What is really important is that people should imbibe some
knowledge of scientific methods--of the meaning of science. This can be
done from the study of quite a few fundamental propositions of any one
science under a good teacher--a first essential. Any person thus
educated will, for the remainder of his life, be able at least to
understand what is meant by science and the scientific method of
approaching a problem. He will not, like an educational troglodyte at a
recent Conference, refuse to describe anything as science which is not
capable of mathematical treatment, nor allude compendiously to
physiological study as "the cutting up of frogs." In a word, he will be
an educated man, which can no more be said of one ignorant of science
than it can be of one whose mind has never experienced the softening
influence of letters.

So far, everybody whose opinion counts seems to be agreed; but in any
plea for an extended and improved teaching of science, certain points
ought not to be left out of count. In the first place, science is not
the key to all locks; there are many important things--some of the most
important things in life--with which it has nothing whatever to do. It
will be well to recall Mr. Balfour's words at the opening of the
National Physical Laboratory: "Science depends on measurement, and
things not measurable are therefore excluded, or tend to be excluded,
from its attention. But Life and Beauty and Happiness are not
measurable. If there could be a unit of happiness, politics might begin
to be scientific." It follows that there are a number of subjects on
which the scientific man is just as fit, or as unfit, to express an
opinion as any other man. The intense preoccupation which serious
scientific studies demand, may render the man who is engaged therein
even less competent to express an opinion on alien subjects than one
whose attention, less concentrated, has time to range over diverse
fields of study. Readers of Darwin's _Life_ will remember his confession
that he had lost all taste for music, art, and literature; that he
"could not endure to read a line of poetry" and found Shakespeare "so
intolerably dull that it nauseated" him; and finally, that his mind
seemed "to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out
of a large collection of facts."

Despite this warning as to the limits of science, we have no lack of
instances of scientific men posing as authorities on subjects on which
they had no real right to be heard, and, what is worse, being accepted
as such by the uninstructed crowd. Thus Professor Huxley, who, as some
one once said, "made science respectable," was wont to utter pontifical
pronouncements on the subject of Home Rule for Ireland. His knowledge of
that country was quite rudimentary, and his visits to it had been as few
and as brief as if he had been its Sovereign; but that did not prevent
him from delivering judgment, nor unfortunately deter many from
following that judgment as if it had been inspired. I am not now arguing
as to the rights and wrongs of Huxley's view on the matter in question:
I have my own opinion on that. What I am urging is that his position,
whether as a zoologist or, incidentally, as a great master of the
English language, in no way entitled him to express an opinion or
rendered him a better authority on such a question than any casual
fellow-traveller in a railway carriage might easily be.

This is bad enough; but what is far worse is when scientific experts on
the strength of their study of Nature assume the right of uttering
judicial pronouncements on moral and sociological questions, judgments
some at least of which are subversive of both decency and liberty. Thus
we have lately been told that it is "wanton cruelty" to keep a weak or
sickly child alive; and the medical man, under a reformed system of
medical ethics, is to have leave and licence to put an end to its life
in a painless manner. To what enormities and dastardly agreements this
might lead need hardly be suggested; and I am quite confident that the
members of the honourable profession of physic, to which I am proud to
belong, have no desire whatever for such a reform of the law or of their
ethics. Then we are told in the same address (Bateson, _British
Association Addresses in Australia_, 1914) that on the whole a decline
in the birth-rate is rather a good thing, and that families averaging
four children are quite enough to keep the world going comfortably. The
date of this address will be noted; and the fact that the war, which was
then just beginning, has probably caused its author and has caused
everybody else to see the utter futility of such assertions.

However, if we are to rear only four children per marriage, and if we
are to give the medical man liberty to weed out the weaklings, it
behoves us to see that the children whom we produce are of the best
quality. Let us, therefore, hie to the stud-farm, observe its methods
and proceed to apply them to the human race. We must definitely prevent
feeble-minded persons from propagating their species. Within limits,
that is a proposition with which all instructed persons would agree,
though few, we imagine, would put their opinions so uncharitably as the
lecturer did: "The union of such social vermin we should no more permit
than we would allow parasites to breed on our own bodies." But we must
go farther than this, and introduce all sorts of restrictions on
matrimony, until finally it comes to be a matter to be arranged under
rigid laws by a jury of elderly persons--all, we may feel perfectly
sure, "cranks" of the first water.

In what _milieu_ are their findings to take effect? It is very important
to consider that. The author from whom I have been quoting tells us what
we want to know. Man, he tells us, is "a rather long-lived animal, with
great powers of enjoyment, if he does not deliberately forgo them." In
the past, we are told, "superstitious and mythical ideas of sin have
predominantly controlled these powers." We have changed all that now; as
the parent in _Punch_ says to the crying child by the seashore, "You've
come out to enjoy yourself, and enjoy yourself you shall!" So we are to
plunge into the whirlpool of eugenic delights without any fear of that
"bugbear of a hell" which another writer congratulates us on getting rid
of. We can, it appears, enter upon our eugenic experiment without a
single moral scruple to restrain us or a single religious restriction to
interfere with us. In this soil is the plant to be grown, and the first
weed to be eradicated is that of the right of personal choice of a
partner for life, or for such other term as the law under the new
_régime_ may require. Jack is to be torn from weeping Jill, and handed
over to reluctant Joan, to whom he is personally displeasing and for
whom he has not the slightest desire, and handed over because the
Breeding Committee think it is likely to prove advantageous for the
Coming Race. All that may be possible--or may not--but what then? When
you are carrying out Mendelian experiments on peas, you can enclose your
flowers in muslin bags and prevent anything interfering with your
observations. And in the stud-farm you can keep the occupants shut up.

But what are you going to do with Jack? and with Jill? And still more
with Joan? They cannot be permanently isolated, neither are they
restrained by any "mythical ideas of sin." They have been educated to
the idea that their highest duty is to enjoy themselves. Why should they
not do what they like? And consequently, as any reasoning person can
see, "The Inevitable" must happen; and where is your experiment and
where the Coming Race? It is perfectly useless for doctrinaires to
argue, as doctrinaires will, about ethical restraints. Nature has _no_
ethical restraints; and any ethical restraints which man has come from
that higher nature of his which he does not share with the lower
creation. What those whom the late Mr. Devas so aptly called
"after-Christians" always forget is that the humane, the Christian side
of life, which they as well as others exhibit, is due to the influence,
lingering if you like, of Christianity. They ignore or forget the pit
out of which they were digged.

By another Eugenist we are told that willy-nilly every sound, healthy
person of either sex must get married or at least betake him or herself
to the business of propagating the race. That at least is the essence of
his singularly offensive dictum that since the celibacy of the Catholic
clergy and of members of Religious Orders deprives the State of a
number of presumably excellent parents, "if monastic orders and
institutions are to continue, they should be open only to the
eugenically unfit."[32] If the religious call is not to be permitted to
dispense a man or woman from entering the estate of matrimony, it may be
assumed that nothing else, except an unfavourable report from the
committee of selection, will do so. And, further, as the one object of
all this is to bring super-children into the world, we must also assume
that those who fail in this duty will find themselves in peril of the

Surely what has been set down shows that whatever scientific reputation
the writers in question possess, and it is undeniably great, it has not
equipped them, one will not merely say with moral or religious ideas,
but with an ordinary knowledge of human nature. It has not equipped them
with any conception apparently of political possibilities; and it has
left them without any of that saving salt, a sense of humour. Like
Huxley, they have started out to give opinions without first having made
themselves familiar with the subject on which they were to deliver

It is perhaps little to be wondered at that the intense preoccupation
which the study of science entails should tend to induce those whose
attention is constantly fixed on Nature to imagine that from Nature can
be drawn not only lessons of physical life but lessons also of conduct.
Of course this is quite wrong; for Nature has no moral lesson to teach
us. We are told to go to the ant--at least the sluggard is--but for
what? To amend his sluggardliness. No one has ever suggested that we
should go to Nature to learn to be humble, kindly, unselfish, tolerant,
and Christian, in our dealings with others; and for this excellent
reason, that none of these things can be learnt from Nature. Science is
neither moral nor immoral, but non-moral; and, as we have seen a
thousand times in this present war, its kindest gifts to man can be
used, and are used, for his cruel destruction. In this war,
pre-eminently amongst all wars, we have the application of pure natural
principles unameliorated by the influences of Christianity, or of
chivalry, Christianity's offspring. As Sir Robert Borden has summed it
up, German kultur is an attempt "to impose upon us the law of the

Natural Selection, some would have us believe, is the dominant law of
living nature, and all would agree that it is an important law. Let us
then, if we are to follow Nature, put it into practice. But Natural
Selection means the Survival of the Fittest in the Struggle for Life. It
consequently means the Extermination of the Less Fit, a little fact
often left out of count. It means in three words "Might is Right," and
was not that exactly the proposition by which we were confronted in this
war? If Natural Selection be our only guide, let us sink hospital
ships, destroy innocent villages and towns, exterminate our weaker
opponents in any way that seems best to us. It was all summed up
centuries ago by the author of the Book of Wisdom: "Let us oppress the
poor just man, and not spare the widow, nor honour the ancient grey
hairs of the aged. But let your strength be the law of justice: for that
which is feeble is found to be nothing worth." That is Natural Selection
in operation in human life when human beings have been stripped of all
"mythical ideas of Sin:" not a pretty picture nor a condition of affairs
under which we should like long to exist. Some of the other resemblances
are less dreadful, but none the less instructive. Let us take the matter
of Mimicry. There is a form of protective mimicry whereby the living
thing is like unto its surroundings, and thus escapes its enemy. We find
it in warfare in the use of khaki dress, in white overalls in snow-time,
in other such expedients. But there is also a form of Aggressive Mimicry
in which a deadly thing makes itself look like something innocent, as
the wolf tried to look in "Little Red Riding Hood." "The Germans were
beginning their attack on Haumont. Their front-line skirmishers, to
throw us into confusion, had donned caps which were a faint imitation of
our own, and also provided themselves with Red Cross brassards" (_The
Battle of Verdun._ H. Dugard). Not to be tedious on this point, which
really does not require to be laboured, let me finish with one quotation
from a vivid series of war-pictures. Boyd Cable is writing of men in
the trenches: "Civilised Man, in his latest art of war, has gone back to
be taught one more simple lesson by the beast of the field and the birds
of the air; the armed hosts are hushed and stilled by the passing
air-machine, exactly as the finches and field-mice of hedgerow and ditch
and field are frozen to stillness by the shadow of a hovering hawk, the
beat of its passing wing."

No; an existence passed under conditions of this kind and as the normal
state of affairs is not an existence to be contemplated with equanimity.
We are anxious that science and scientific teaching should be assisted
in every possible way. But let us be quite clear that while science has
much to teach us and we much to learn from her, there are things as to
which she has no message to the world. The Minor Prophets of science are
never tired of advising theologians to keep their hands off science. The
Major Prophets are too busy to occupy themselves with such polemics. But
the theologian is abundantly in his right in saying to the scientific
writer "Hands off morals!" for with morality science has nothing to do.
Let us at any rate avoid that form of kultur which consists in bending
Natural History to the teaching of conduct, uncorrected by any Christian
injunctions to soften its barbarities.


  [Footnote 30: Since these lines were written, this state of
  affairs has come to an end and the first Fellow has been
  elected for his purely scientific attainments, in the person of
  the distinguished geologist, Professor Joly, F.R.S.]

  [Footnote 31: It was the late distinguished Provost, Sir John
  Mahaffy, at whose instance the change in the Fellowship system
  was introduced.]

  [Footnote 32: Conklyn, _Heredity and Environment in the
  Development of Men_. Princeton University Press, 1915.]


Some years ago, when I was delivering a lecture at the Cathedral Hall of
Westminster, in the course of the questioning which took place at the
termination of the discourse, which was on vitalism, I was asked by one
who signed his paper, "So and So, Atheist," "What would you say if you
saw a duck come out of a hen's egg?" I recognised at once the idea at
the back of the question and appreciated the fact that it had been asked
by one who, as some one has said, "called himself an advanced
free-thinker, but was really a very ignorant and vulgar person who was
suffering from a surfeit of the ideas of certain people cleverer than
himself." But, as a full discussion of the matter would have taken at
least as long as the lecture which I had just concluded, my reply was
that before I attempted to explain it I would wait to see the duck come
out of the hen's egg, since no man had as yet witnessed such an event. I
do not know whether my atheistical questioner was satisfied or not, but
I heard no more of him. But, after all, is it not a marvellous thing
that a duck never does come out of a hen's egg? If everything happens by
chance, as some would have us believe, why is it that a duck does not
occasionally emerge from a hen's egg? Surely this is a _miraculum_, a
thing to be wondered at, yet so common that it goes unnoticed, like many
other wonderful things which are also matters of common everyday
occurrence, such as the spinning of the earth on its own axis and its
course round the sun and through the heavens.

If we pursue this question further we shall begin to remember that
creatures more nearly related to one another also "breed true." The hen
and the duck are both birds, but they are not so nearly allied to one
another as the lion and the tiger, both of which are _Felidæ_, or cats.
Yet no one ever expects that a tiger will be born of a lioness, or _vice
versa_. Further, the pug and the greyhound are both of them dogs: the
name _canis domesticus_ applies to both, and one would be distinguished
from the other in a scientific list as "Var. (_i.e._ variety) 'pug,'" or
"Var. 'greyhound.'" Yet one can imagine the surprise of a breeder if a
greyhound was born in his carefully selected and guarded kennel of pugs.
In a word, not only species, but varieties do tend to breed true; the
child does resemble its parent or parents. No doubt the resemblance is
not absolute: there is variation as well as inheritance. Sometimes the
variation may be recognised as a feature possessed by a grandparent or
even by some collateral relative such as an uncle or great-uncle;
sometimes this may not be the case, though the non-recognition of the
likeness does not in any way preclude the possibility that the
peculiarity may have been also possessed by some other member of the
family. But on the whole the offspring does closely resemble its
parents; that is to say, not only the species and the variety but the
individual "breeds true." "Look like dey are bleedzed to take atter der
pa," as Uncle Remus said when he was explaining how the rabbit comes to
have a bobtail. Moreover this resemblance is not merely in the great
general features. Apart from monstrosities, the children of human beings
are human beings; the children of white parents have white skins, those
of black progenitors are black. Commonly, though not always by any
means, the children of dark-haired parents are themselves dark-haired,
and so on. But smaller features are also transmitted, and transmitted
too for many generations; for example, the well-known case of the
Hapsburg lip, visible in so many portraits of Spanish monarchs and their
near relatives, and visible in life to-day. Again, there are families in
which the inner part of one eyebrow has the hairs growing upwards
instead of in the ordinary way, a feature which is handed on from one
generation to another. Even more minute features than this have been
known to be transmissible and transmitted, such as a tiny pit in the
skin on the ear or on the face. In fact, there is hardly any feature, no
matter how small, which may not become a hereditary possession.

If in-and-in breeding occur, as it may do amongst human beings in a
locality much removed from other places of habitation, it may even
happen that what may be looked upon as a variety of the human race may
arise, though when it arises it is always easy to wipe it out and
restore things to the normal by the introduction of fresh blood, to use
the misleading term commonly employed, where the Biblical word "seed"
comes much nearer to the facts.

Thus there is a well-authenticated case in France (in Brittany if I
remember right) of a six-fingered race which existed for a number of
generations in a very isolated place and was restored to
five-fingeredness when an increase in the populousness of the district
permitted a wider selection in the matter of marriages.

And similarly, not long ago an account was published of an albino race
somewhere in Canada which had acquired a special name.

Perhaps it has been wiped out by this time by wider marriages, though
these might be effected with greater difficulty by albinos than by
six-fingered persons. At any rate no one can doubt that it might at any
time be wiped out by such marriages, though even when apparently wiped
out, sporadic cases might be expected to occur: what the breeders call
"throws-back," when they see an animal which resembles some ancestor
further back in the line of descent than its actual progenitors.
Certainly the most remarkable instance of the reliance which we have
come to feel respecting this matter of inheritance is that which was
afforded by a recent case of disputed paternity interesting on both
sides of the Atlantic, since the events in dispute occurred in America
and the property and the dispute concerning it were in England.

It was obviously a most difficult and disputable case, but the judge, a
shrewd observer, noticed, when the putative father was in the box, a
feature in his countenance which seemed closely to resemble what was to
be seen in the child which he claimed to be his own. A careful
examination of the parents and of the child was made by an eminent
sculptor, accustomed to minute observation of small features of variety
in those sitting to him as models.

He reported and showed to the court that there were remarkable features
in the head of the child which resembled, on the one hand an unusual
configuration in the mother--or the woman who claimed to be the
mother--and on the other a well-marked feature in her husband. And as a
result the father and mother won their case, and were proclaimed the
parents of the child because of the resemblance of these features; and,
if we think for a moment, we shall see, because also of the reliance
which the human race has come to place in the fidelity of inheritance,
of its perfect certainty, so to speak, that a duck will not come out of
a hen's egg, and the fact of this reliance on a generally received truth
remains, whatever may be said as to the legal aspect of such evidence.

Inheritance is a fact recognised by everybody, and the only reason why
we refuse to wonder at it is because, like other wonderful yet everyday
facts, such as the growth of a great tree from a tiny seed, it _is_ so
everyday that we have ceased to wonder at it. It is there: we know that.
But have we any kind of idea how it comes about? The duck does not, as a
matter of common experience, come out of a hen's egg. Why does it come
out of a duck's egg? Why doesn't it come out, if only rarely, from a
hen's egg? In other words, do we know what it is that explains
inheritance or how it is that there is such a thing as inheritance?
Well, candour obliges me to say that we do not. In spite of all the work
which has been expended upon this question we are totally ignorant of
the mechanism of heredity. Nevertheless it will be instructive to glance
at the theories which have been put forward to explain this matter.

All living things spring from a small germ, and in the vast majority of
cases this germ is the product in part of the male and in part of the
female parent. It is therefore natural that we should in the first place
turn our attention to this germ and ask ourselves whether there is
anything in its construction which will give us the key of the mystery.
There is not, at least there is nothing definite as shown by our most
powerful microscopes. To be sure there is a remarkable substance, called
chromatin because of its capacity for taking up certain dyes, which
evidently plays some profoundly important part in the processes of
development. We may suspect that this is the thing which carries the
physical characteristics from one generation to another, but we cannot
prove it; and though some authorities think that it is, others deny it.
Even if it be, it can hardly be supposed that microscopic research will
ever be able to establish the fact, and that for reasons which must now
be explained.

Let us suppose that we visit a vast botanic garden, and in the seed-time
of each of the plants therein contained select from each plant a single
ripe seed. It is clear that, if we take home that collection of seeds,
we shall have in them a miniature picture of the garden from which they
were culled, or at least we shall be in possession of the potentiality
of such a garden, for, if we sow these seeds and have the good fortune
to see them all develop, take root and grow, we shall actually possess a
replica of the garden from which they came. Not exactly, it may be
urged, for the distribution or arrangement of the seeds must have been
carefully looked to, if the gardens are to resemble each other otherwise
than in the mere possession of identical plants. I admit the truth of
this, but cannot for the moment discuss it. At any rate we should have
the same plants in both gardens.

On this analogy, many have suggested that every organ in the body--we
must go further, and say that every marked feature in every organ in the
body--is represented in the germ by a seed which can grow, under
favourable circumstances, into just such another organ or feature of an
organ. This was the theory put forward by Darwin under the name of
"pangenesis," and by others under other titles with which it is
unnecessary to burden these pages. All these theories have been summed
together under the name "micromeristic," that is small-fragmented, or
again, "particulate," since they all postulate the existence in the germ
of innumerable small fragments--seeds--which are capable of growing into
complete plants or organs under favourable circumstances. Again, this,
even if true, does not by any means exhaust the matter, for it does not
explain why the seed of the eye implants itself and grows in the right
place in the head instead of making a home for itself, let us say, in
the sole of the foot. But again we must pass over that matter.

There is nothing inherently impossible in this theory; indeed, if we
allow that the transmission of inheritable characteristics is purely
material, and it may be, there is only one other conceivable way in
which it can occur. It is true that the seeds must be almost
innumerable, but the germ, though small, is capable of accommodating an
almost innumerable number of independent factors, if the prevalent views
as to the constitution of matter are to be believed. And, as it is quite
inconceivable that we can ever have microscopes which could detect such
minute objects as the ultimate bricks of which the atom--no, not even
the atoms themselves which compose the germ--consists, it is impossible
that we should be able to say that the seed-theory is untrue. Even if we
could see these ultimate constituents it is in the last degree unlikely
that they would have any resemblance to the things which are, on this
theory to grow from them, any more than the acorn resembles the oak
which is to spring from it.

But observe! the germ on this view must contain not only seeds from the
immediate parents but from many, perhaps all, of the older generations
of the family, otherwise how are we to account for the appearance of
ancestral peculiarities which the father and mother do not show?
Moreover, since very minute things, like the inner angle of the eyebrow,
may independently vary, there must be an enormous number of seeds apart
altogether from the considerations alluded to in the last paragraph. And
many authorities who have closely considered the question have come to
the conclusion that the complexities introduced would be so great that
it is impossible to believe in any micromeristic theory.

Then, of course, we must look out for some other explanation, and some
have suggested that it is to be found in memory--the memory of the germ
of what it was once part and the anticipation of what it may once more
be. This again is an explanation not susceptible of proof along the
lines of a chemical experiment, but not necessarily, therefore, untrue.
Of course there are two ideas as to memory. If we are pure materialists
and imagine every memory in our possession as something stamped, in some
wholly incomprehensible manner, on some cell of our brain and looked at
there, by some wholly inconceivable agency, when we sit down to think of
past days, then we must look on the germ, under the "mnemic" or memory
theory as consisting of fragments each of them impressed with the
"memory" of some particular organ or feature of the body, and lo! we
find ourselves back again in micromerism. If we are to take a
non-materialistic view of memory we are plunged into a metaphysical
discussion which cannot here be pursued. A third explanation, which by
the way explains nothing, is that the whole matter is one of
"arrangement," to which we shall return at the close of this paper.

The mechanism of inheritance must either be physical[33] or it must be
non-physical; that is, immaterial. This is what emerges from our
discussion, and so far as science goes to-day it must be admitted that
neither of these explanations can be said to be accepted generally by
men of science or proved--perhaps even capable of proof--by scientific
methods. If we know little or nothing about the mechanism of
inheritance, can we and do we know anything about the laws under which
it works, or has it any laws? Or are its operations a mere
chance-medley? It is hardly necessary to ask the latter question, for
chance-medley could not lead to regular operations--operations so
regular that a court of law may act upon their evidence. Yes: we answer
to the first question very lightly but without perhaps always thinking
what that affirmative answer implies, a point to be considered in a
moment. It may at once be said that we do now know a good deal about
the laws under which inheritance works itself out, and that knowledge,
as most people are now aware, is due to the quiet and for a time
forgotten labours of Johann Gregor Mendel, once Abbot of the Augustinian
Abbey of Brünn, a prelate of that Church which loud-voiced ignoramuses
are never tired of proclaiming to have been from the beginning even down
to the present day the impassioned and deadly enemy of all scientific
progress. Mendel saw that former workers at inheritance had been
directing their attention to the _tout ensemble_ of an individual or
natural object; his idea was analytical in its nature, for he directed
his attention to individual characteristics, such as stature or colour,
or the like. And having thus directed his attention and confined his
labours mainly to plants, since the study of generations of most animals
is too lengthy a process for one man to carry out, he did in fact
discover that there are very definite laws, capable even of numerical
statement, under which inheritance acts. There is no need to explain or
discuss them here: suffice it to say that there _are_ such laws,[34] as
is now admitted by an overwhelming majority of the biologists of to-day.
Mendel's facts were hidden in a somewhat obscure journal; they lay
dormant, much to his annoyance, during his lifetime. Years after his
death his papers were unearthed, and his discoveries have been
proclaimed as being as fundamental to biology as those of Newton and
Dalton to other sciences.

There are, then, laws. That means one of two things: either that these
laws arose by chance-medley, or that some one enacted them. It seems
impossible, when one surveys the orderly operations of Nature, among
which are those conducted under the laws known by the name of their
discoverer, Mendel--it seems wholly impossible that these operations
arose by chance-medley. To me, at any rate, any such explanation is
wholly unthinkable. But if it be an impossible explanation, as I and
many thousands, not to say millions, of other persons believe, then
there is no other way out of it than that these operations must have
been planned by some one; in other words, that there must have been a
Creator and Deviser of the world.

People hide from this explanation, and one of the favourite sandbanks in
which this particular kind of human ostrich plunges its head is
"Nature." "Nature does this," and "Nature does that," forgetting
entirely the fact that "Nature" is a mere personification and means
either chance-medley or a Creator, according to the old dilemma. There
is a very curious example of this inability or unwillingness to
admit--perhaps even to understand--the force of this argument exhibited
by those to whom one would suppose that it would come home with
overpowering force: I mean, of course, the Mendelians.

The most learned of these, and one of the most open-minded of men,
hints in one place that though he does not think it necessary himself to
believe it, yet it might at least be suggested that, if in a certain
organism we find things so placed that a certain combination is bound to
emerge in a certain generation, such a state of affairs might have been
prearranged. Now, if it was prearranged, the awful fact emerges that
there must have been an arranger; in other words, a creative power. This
explanation is taboo in certain circles. But one may reasonably ask,
"What then?" Is it really suggested that these orderly sets of
occurrences may occur not once or twice only but thousands and thousands
of times, and this may all happen by chance? A very distant acquaintance
with the mathematics of probability will show that this is a wholly
untenable theory. We are generally answered by some purely verbal
explanation, like the personification of "Nature" already alluded to.

Thus, in a recent discussion on inheritance in a Presidential Address to
the British Association, to which I have already alluded, the writer
with whose explanation I have just been dealing states that he thinks it
"unlikely" that the factors of inheritance are "in any simple or literal
sense material particles," and proceeds thus: "I suspect rather that
their properties depend on some phenomenon of arrangement." Now, in the
first place, this is no explanation at all, for the mechanism of
inheritance must be either material or immaterial. If there is a
phenomenon of "arrangement" there must be something to be "arranged,"
and this something can hardly be other than material if it is to be
"arranged" at all. But let that pass. What is far more important is to
remember that if a thing is to be "arranged" there must be somebody to
"arrange" it, for chance-medley cannot "arrange" anything in an orderly
manner; or if it could do so once, cannot be supposed capable of doing
it a second time in a precisely similar manner, not to say capable of
doing it countless thousands of times.

If we go into a great museum our first idea, perhaps our last, concerns
the arrangement found therein. But it may safely be said that no sane
person ever entertained that idea without being perfectly aware that the
arrangement was made by human hands, controlled, in the last resort, by
the brain of the curator of the museum. Now, in a sense, the living body
is a museum containing specimens of different kinds of cells. There are
brain-cells, liver-cells, bone-cells, scores of different varieties of
cells, and all of them, so to speak, are arranged in their appropriate

If we go to the brain-case we can search it through and through without
finding a liver-cell, any more than we should find a typical brain-cell
embedded in the marrow of one of the bones. The different specimens all
occupy their appropriate positions. How did they get there? The future
animal, like animals of all kinds, including man, commences as a single
cell. All save a few interesting but at present negligible cases are
composed of elements drawn from male and female parents. This cell
divides up into a multitude of others. At first these are to all
appearances identical, but later they begin to differentiate, at first
into three classes and afterwards into the multitude of different cells
of which the body is composed. Further, these groups of cells become
aggregated in appropriate groups, cells of one kind uniting with cells
of the same kind and with no others. Here we have to do with
arrangement, consummately skilful arrangement, an arrangement which
practically never fails, for, leaving aside the case of monstrosity, a
consideration of which would detain us too long, not merely are the
various cells all placed in their proper positions, as we have seen, but
their aggregation, the individual, is so formed as to belong to the
proper compartment of that large museum, the world--the same compartment
as that occupied by his progenitors. Neither the particulate nor the
chemical theories help us here. The mnemic would, but it has its initial
and insuperable difficulty, pointed out in another article in this
volume, that, as you must have an experience before you can remember it,
it in no way accounts for the first operation of arrangement. As to the
material explanations, particulate or chemical, they amount to something
like this: you have half a cart-load of bricks from one yard and half a
cart-load from another, and when the bricks are dumped down in an
appropriate place they form a little house, just like those occupied by
the managers of the brickyards. So they may, but no one in his sense
supposes that they will thus arrange themselves of their own power.
Some one must arrange them. Who arranges the tiny bricks of which the
animal body consists, or what arranges them? To revert to our previous
example of the garden; suppose that we bring back from that which we
desire to copy a bag of seeds representing all the plants which it
contains. We have a plot of land of the same size as our example; we dig
it and we dung it and then we scatter our seeds perfectly haphazard over
its surface. What are the odds as to their coming up in an exactly
similar pattern to those in the other garden. Mathematicians, I suppose,
could calculate the probabilities, but they must be infinitesimally
small. Yet in the case of the animal the pattern is always observed.

It is quite useless for any one, however eminent an authority he may be,
to dismiss the matter by saying "It is a phenomenon of arrangement," for
that begs the whole question. A Martian visitor taken to Westminster
Abbey and told that its construction was a "phenomenon of arrangement"
might be expected to turn a scornful eye upon his cicerone and reply,
"Any fool can see that, but who arranged it?"

Hence, though wild horses would not drag such an admission from many, we
are irresistibly compelled to adopt the theory of a Creator and a
Maintainer also of nature and its operations--so-called--if we are to
escape from the absurdities involved in any other explanation. Thus
there are very important and fundamental matters to be deduced from the
very little which we know about inheritance, just as there are from a
hundred and one other lines of consideration related to this world and
its contents. We do not know very much--it may fairly be said we _know_
nothing as to the vehicle of inheritance. We know a little, but it is
still a very little even in comparison with what we may yet come to know
as the result of careful and long-continued experiment, about the laws
of inheritance. What we do learn from our knowledge, such as it is, is
the fact that we can give no intelligent or intelligible explanation of
the facts brought before us except on the hypothesis of a Creator and
Maintainer of all things.


  [Footnote 33: A third explanation, that the mechanism of
  inheritance is of a chemical character, is now being put
  forward, and some mention of this view, which is by no means
  one of general acceptance, will be found in another article in
  this volume.]

  [Footnote 34: An account of them will be found in _A Century of
  Scientific Thought_, by the present writer, published by
  Messrs. Burns & Oates.]


Professor Scott, of Princeton, has recently given to the public in his
Westbrook Lectures[35] an exceedingly impartial, convincing, and lucid
statement of the evidence for the theory of evolution or transformism.
On one point of terminology a few observations may not be amiss, since
there is a certain amount of confusion still existing in the minds of
many persons which can be and ought to be cleared up. Throughout his
book Professor Scott contrasts evolution with what he calls "special
creation." In so doing he is evidently in no way anxious to deny the
fact that there is a Creator, and that evolution may fairly be regarded
as His method of creation. In one passage he expressly states that
"acceptance of the theory of evolution by no means excludes belief in a
creative plan."

And again, when dealing with the palæontological evidence in favour of
evolution, he points out that Cuvier and Agassiz, examining it as it was
known in their day, interpreted the facts as the carrying out of a
systematic creative plan, an interpretation which the author claims "is
not at all invalidated by the acceptance of the evolutionary theory." He
is not, we need hardly say, in any way singular in taking up this
attitude, since it was held by Darwin, by Wallace, by Huxley, and by
other sturdy defenders of the doctrine of evolution.

Yet, just as at the time that Darwin's views were first made public,
many thought that they were subversive of Christianity, so, even now,
some whose acquaintance with the problem and its history is of a
superficial character, are inclined when they see the word creation,
even with the qualifying adjective "special" prefixed to it, used in
contradistinction to evolution, to imagine that the theory of creation,
and of course of a Creator, must fall to the ground if evolution should
be proved to be the true explanation of living things and their

It is more than a little difficult for us, living at the present day, to
understand this curious frame of mind; yet it certainly existed, and
existed where it might least have been expected to exist. Nor is it
quite extinct to-day, though it only lingers in the less instructed
class of persons. The misconception arose from a confusion between the
fact and the method of creation. As to the former, no Catholic, no
Christian, no theist has any kind of doubt; indeed there are those who
could not be classified under any of those categories who still would be
prepared to admit that there must be a First Cause as the explanation
of the universe. Some of them, whose reasoning is a little difficult to
follow, seem to be content with an immanent, blind god, a mere
mainspring to the clock, making it move, no doubt, but otherwise
powerless. If we neglect--in a mathematical sense--those who adopt the
agnostic attitude; content themselves with the formula _ignoramus et
ignorabimus_ of Du Bois Reymond, and confine their investigations to the
machine as a going machine without inquiring how it came to be a machine
or what set it to work, we shall, I think, find that most people who
have really thought out the question admit that the only reasonable
explanation of things as they are, is the postulation of a Free First
Cause; in other words, an Omnipotent Creator of the universe. Such, of
course, is the teaching of the Scriptures and of the Church, and it must
be admitted that neither of them carries us very much further in this
matter. In fact, whilst both are perfectly clear and definite about the
fact of creation, neither of them has much to say about the method. Yet,
as all admit, evolution concerns only the method and tells us absolutely
nothing about the cause.

Being omnipotent, it is obvious that its Maker might have created the
universe in any way which seemed good to Him--for example, all at once
out of nothing just as it stands at this moment. Such a thing would not
be impossible to Omnipotence; and, as we know, Fallopius, suddenly
confronted by the problems of fossils in the sixteenth century, did
suggest that they were created just as they were, and that they had
never been anything else. So did Philip Gosse some two and a half
centuries later.

There is nothing more sure than that the world was not created just as
it is. Reason and Scripture both teach us that, and geology makes it
quite clear that the appearance of living things upon the earth has been
successive; that groups of living things, like the giant saurians, which
were once the dominant zoological objects, had their day and have gone,
as we may suppose, for ever. A few very lowly forms, like the
lamp-shells, have persisted almost throughout the history of life on the
earth, but on the whole the picture which we see is one of appearances,
culminations, and disappearances of successive races of living things.
There was a time when Trilobites, crustaceans whose nearest living
representatives are the King-Crabs, first became features of the fauna
of the earth. Then they increased to such an extent as to become the
most prominent feature. Then they declined in importance, disappeared,
and for uncounted ages have existed only as fossils. Thus we conclude
that the creation of species was a progressive affair, just as the
creation of individuals is a successive affair, for every living thing,
coming as it does into existence by the power of the Creator, is His
creation and in a very real sense a special creation. Now we know very
well how living things come into existence to-day; can we form any idea
as to how they originated in the beginning? Milton, in his crude
description in _Paradise Lost_, pictured living things as gradually
rising out of and extricating themselves from the soil.

    "The grassy clods now calved, now half appeared
    The tawny lion, pawing to get free
    His hinder parts, then springs as broke from bonds,
    And rampant shakes his brindled mane; the ounce,
    The libbard, and the tiger, as the mole
    Rising, the crumbled earth above them threw
    In hillocks: the swift stag from underground
    Bore up his branching head: scarce from his mould
    Behemoth, biggest born of earth, up heaved
    His vastness."

In this description Milton probably represented the ideas of his day--a
day penetrated with literal interpretation of the Scripture, though it
is well to recall to our minds the fact that not one word or idea of the
above is contained in the Bible. The only suggestion is that the body of
Adam was fashioned from the "slime of the earth," the precise meaning of
which phrase has never been defined by the Church.

Again, we have to say that the Miltonic scheme is not impossible, any
more than any other scheme is impossible, but we may further say that it
is more than improbable, and with every reverence we may add that to us
it does not seem to be specially consonant with the greatness and wisdom
of God. There remains the derivative form of creation, compendiously
styled evolution. That this also is a possible method of creation no one
will deny, and it has been discussed as such by many of the greatest
thinkers in the history of the Church. We can consider it, therefore,
from the point of fact or of knowledge as we now possess it, and we can
do so without imagining that, in so doing, we are contemplating a method
which is anything else but the carrying out of a creative plan, existing
perfect and complete and from all eternity in the mind of the Being
Whose conception it was and by whose _fiat_ it came to pass. Moreover,
each form produced is a special creation, since it was specially
designed to be as it is and to appear when it did, just as the
clockmaker intends his clock to strike twelve at noon, though he can
hardly be said to make it strike at that moment. Hence to place special
creation in antagonism to evolution is really to use an ambiguous
phraseology. No doubt it is not easy to find the proper phraseology.
Some have employed the terms "immediate" and "mediate," to which also a
certain amount of ambiguity is attached. Perhaps "direct" and
"derivative" might convey more accurate ideas; but whatever terminology
we adopt, we are still safe in saying that whether God makes things or
makes them make themselves He is creating them and specially creating

This is not the place to enter into any elaborate discussion as to the
truth of the theory of evolution. Few will be found to deny the
statement that it is a theory which _does_ explain Nature as we see it
and as we learn its history in the past, but that does not necessarily
prove that it is true. St. Thomas Aquinas, dealing with the movements of
the planets, makes a very important statement when he tells us, in so
many words, that, though the hypothesis with which he is dealing would
explain the appearances which he was seeking to explain, that does not
prove that it is the true explanation, since the real answer to the
riddle may be one then unknown to him. There are, however, one or two
points it may be useful to consider before we leave the question.

That evolution may occur within a class seems to be quite certain. The
case of the Porto Santo rabbits, one of many cited by Darwin or brought
to knowledge since his time, will make clear what is meant. Porto Santo
is a small island, not far from Madeira, on which a Portuguese
navigator, named Zarco, let loose, somewhere about the year 1420, a doe
and a recently born litter of rabbits, which we may feel quite sure
belonged to one of those domestic breeds which have all been derived
from the wild rabbit of Europe known to zoologists as _Lepus Cuniculus_.
The island was a favourable spot for the rabbits, for there do not
appear to have been any carnivorous beasts or birds to harry them, nor
were there other land mammals competing with them for food; and, as a
result, we are told that they had so far increased and multiplied in
forty years as to be described as "innumerable." In four and a half
centuries these rabbits had become so different from any European
rabbits that Haeckel described them as a species apart, and named it
_Lepus Huxlei_. This rabbit is much smaller than the European form,
being described as more like a large rat than a rabbit. Its colour is
very different from its European relatives; it has curious nocturnal
habits; it is exceedingly wild and untamable. Most remarkable of all,
and most conclusive as to specific difference, Mr. Bartlett, the highly
skilled head keeper of the London Zoological Gardens, utterly failed to
induce the two males which were brought over to those gardens to
associate with or to breed with the females of various other breeds of
rabbits which were repeatedly placed with them. If the history of these
Porto Santo rabbits had been unknown to us, instead of being a matter as
to which there can be no doubt, every naturalist would at once have
accepted them as a separate species. We need not hesitate, it appears,
to do so and to admit that it is a new species which has been produced
within historic times and under conditions with which we are fully
acquainted. It may, however, be argued, and quite fairly argued, that
such a process of evolution, though definitely proved, is a very
different thing from such an evolution as would permit of a common
ancestry for animals so far apart, for example, as a whale and a rabbit,
or perhaps even nearer in relationship, as between a lion and a seal. To
discuss this further would require a dissertation on the highly involved
question of species and varieties, and that is not now to be attempted.
What, however, may be said is that the difficulties presented by what is
called phylogeny--that is, the relationships of different classes to one
another--are so great as to have led more than one man of science to
proclaim his belief that evolution has been poly--and not
mono--phyletic. Such is the view which has been enunciated by Father
Wasmann, S.J., whose authority on a point of this kind is paramount. It
has also been upheld by Professor Bateson, a man widely separated from
the Jesuit in all but attachment to science. Professor Bateson summed up
his belief in the text which he placed on the title-page of his first
great work on _Variation_: the text which proclaims that there is a
flesh of men, another of beasts, another of birds, another of fishes.

Darwin remained to the end of his life undecided between the two views,
for he allowed his original statement as to life having been breathed
into one or more forms by the Creator, to pass from edition to edition
of the _Origin of Species_. If the polyphyletic theory be adopted, it
must be said that the position of the materialist is made far more
difficult than it is at present. Let us see what it means. On the
materialistic hypothesis, and the same may be said of the pantheistic or
any other hypothesis not theistic in nature, a certain cell came by
chance to acquire the attributes of life. From this descended plants and
animals of all kinds in divergent series till the edifice was crowned by
man. I have elsewhere endeavoured to point out all that is involved in
this assumption, which, it must be confessed, is a very large mouthful
to swallow.

Let us now consider what the polyphyletic hypothesis involves. According
to this view one cell accidentally developed the attributes of vegetable
life; a further accident leads another cell to initiate the line of
invertebrates; another that of fishes, let us say; another of mammals:
the number varying according to the views of the theorist on phylogeny.
Let us not forget that the cell or cells which accidentally acquired the
attributes of life, had accidentally to shape themselves from dead
materials into something of a character wholly unknown in the inorganic
world. If one seriously considers the matter it is--so it seems to
me--utterly impossible to subscribe to the accidental theory of which
the immanent god--the blind god of Bergson--is a mere variant. One must
agree with the late Lord Kelvin that "science positively affirms
creative power ... which (she) compels us to accept as an article of
belief." But what are we to say with regard to the series of repeated
accidents which the polyphyletic hypothesis would seem to demand? Is it
really possible that any man could bring himself to place credence in
such a marvellous series of occurrences? Monophyletic or polyphyletic
evolution, whichever, if either, it may have been, presents no
difficulty on the creation hypothesis.

The Divine plan might have embraced either method. It is not merely
revelation but ordinary reason which shows us that the wonderful things
which we know, not to speak of the far more wonderful things at which we
can only guess, cannot possibly be explained on any other hypothesis
than that of a Free First Cause--a Creator.


  [Footnote 35: _The Theory of Evolution._ By William Berryman Scott.
  New York: The Macmillan Co.]


The names of great Catholic men of science, laymen like Pasteur and
Müller, or ecclesiastics like Stensen and Mendel, are familiar to all
educated persons. But even educated persons, or at least a great
majority of them, are quite ignorant of the goodly band of workers in
science who were devout children of the Church. Nothing perhaps more
fully exemplifies this than the history of the controversy respecting
the subject whose name is set down as the title of this paper. For
centuries a controversy raged at intervals around the question of
spontaneous generation. Did living things originate, not merely in the
past but every day, from non-living matter? When we consider such things
as the once mysterious appearance of maggots in meat it is not wonderful
that in the days before the microscope the answer was in the

To-day the question may be considered almost closed. True, the negative
proposition cannot be proved, hence it is impossible to say that
spontaneous generation does not take place. However, the scientific
world is at one in the belief that so far all attempts to prove it have
failed utterly.

St. Thomas Aquinas had a celebrated and sometimes misunderstood
controversy with Avicenna, a very famous Arabian philosopher. It was a
philosophical, but not strictly scientific, controversy, for both
persons accepted or assumed the existence of spontaneous generation.
Avicenna claimed that it took place by the powers of Nature alone,
whilst St. Thomas adopted the attitude which we should adopt to-day,
were spontaneous generation shown to be a fact, namely, that if Nature
possessed this power, it was because the Creator had willed it so.

We come to close quarters with the question itself in 1668, when
Francesco Redi (1626-1697) published his book on the generation of
insects and showed that meat protected from flies by wire gauze or
parchment did not develop maggots, whilst meat left unprotected did.
From this and from other experiments he was led to formulate the theory
that in all cases of apparent production of life from dead matter the
real explanation was that living germs from outside had been introduced
into it. For a long time this view held the field. Redi was, as his name
indicates, an Italian, an inhabitant of Aretino, a poet as well as a
physician and scientific worker. He was physician to two of the Grand
Dukes of Tuscany and an academician of the celebrated _Accademia della
Crusca_. Those works which I have been able to consult on the subject
say nothing about his religion, but there can scarcely be any doubt
that he was a Catholic. At any rate there is no doubt whatever as to the
other persons now to be mentioned in connection with the controversy,
which again became active about a century after Redi had published his
book. The antagonists on this occasion were both of them Catholic
priests, and both of them deserve some brief notice.

John Turberville Needham (1713-1781) was born in London and belonged on
both sides to old Catholic families. He was educated at Douay and
ordained priest at Cambray in 1738. After teaching in that place for
some time he journeyed to England and became head-master of the once
celebrated school for Catholic boys at Twyford, near Winchester. From
there he went for a short time to Lisbon as professor of philosophy in
the English College. Subsequently he travelled with various Peers making
"the grand tour." After that he retired to Paris, where he was elected a
member of the _Académie des Sciences_. He was the first director of the
Imperial Academy in Brussels; a canon, first of Dendermonde and
afterward of Soignies. He died in Brussels and was buried in the Abbey
of Condenberg. Needham was a man of really great scientific attainments,
and perhaps nothing proves the estimation in which he was held more than
the fact that in 1746 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society,
being the first Catholic priest to become a member of that distinguished
body. When one remembers the attitude at that time, and much later, of
Englishmen towards Catholics it is clear that Needham's claims to
distinction must have been more than ordinarily great. His clear, firm
signature is still to be seen in the charter-book of the society, and it
is interesting to note that he signs his name "Turberville Needham."
Needham did not confine his attention to science, for he was an ardent
antiquary, and in 1761 was elected a Fellow of that other ancient and
exclusive body, the Society of Antiquaries of London. In this connection
it may be mentioned that Needham published, in 1761, a book which caused
a great sensation, for he endeavoured to show that he could translate an
Egyptian inscription by means of Chinese characters; in other words,
that the forms of writing were germane to one another. He was shown to
be quite wrong by some of the learned Jesuits of the day, who, with the
assistance of Chinese men of letters, proved that the resemblances to
which Needham had called attention were merely superficial.

But our interest now is in his controversy with Spallanzani. Lazaro
Spallanzani (1729-1799) was born at Scandiano in Modena and educated at
the Jesuit College at Reggio di Modena. There was some question as to
his entering the Society; he did not do so, however, but repaired to the
University of Bologna, where his kinswoman, Laura Bassi, was then
professor of physics. He became a priest, but devoted his life to
teaching and experimenting. He must have been something of what we in
Ireland used to call a "polymath," for he professed at one time or
another, in various universities, logic, metaphysics, Greek, and
finally natural history. He first explained the physics of what children
call "ducks and drakes" made by flat pebbles on water; laid the
foundations of meteorology and vulcanology, and is perhaps best of all
known in connection with what is termed "regeneration" in the earthworm
and above all in the salamander. His experiments still hold the field in
a region of study which has vastly extended itself in recent years,
becoming of prime importance in the vitalistic controversy.

In the dispute, however, with which we are concerned Needham and
Spallanzani defended opposite positions. The former, as the result of
his observations, asserted that, in spite of the boiling and sealing up
of organic fluids, life did appear in them. His opponent claimed that
Needham's experiments had not been sufficiently precise. The latter had
enclosed his fluids in bottles fitted with ordinary corks, covered with
mastic varnish, whilst Spallanzani, employing flasks with long necks
which he could and did seal by heat when the contents were boiling,
showed that in that case no life was produced. He declared, and
correctly too, as we now know, that Needham's methods did permit of the
introduction of something from without. The controversy went to sleep
again until the discovery of oxygen by Priestley in 1774. When it had
been shown that oxygen was essential to the existence of all forms of
life, the question arose as to whether the boiling of the organic fluids
in the earlier experiments had not expelled all the oxygen and thus
prevented the existence and development of any life.

In the further experiments which this query gave rise to, we meet with
another illustrious Catholic name, that of Theodor Schwann, better known
as the originator of that fundamental piece of scientific knowledge, the
cell-theory. Theodor Schwann (1810-1882) was born at Neuss and educated
by the Jesuits, first at Cologne, afterward at Bonn. After studying at
the Universities of Würzburg and Berlin he became professor in the
Catholic University of Louvain, where his name was one of the principal
glories of this now wrecked seat of learning. Thence he went as
professor to Liége, where he died. He was, says his biography in the
_Encyclopædia Britannica_, "of a peculiarly gentle and amiable character
and remained a devout Catholic throughout his life." Schwann's
experiments tended to show that the introduction of air--of course
containing oxygen--did not lead to the production of life, if the air
had first been thoroughly sterilised. It was thought that this question
had been finally answered, when it was reopened by Pouchet, in 1859. He
was a Frenchman, the director of the Natural History Museum of Rouen,
but as to his religious views I have no information. It is quite
probable, however, that he was a Catholic. Pouchet and all on his side
were finally--so far as there can be finality in such a matter--disposed
of by Pasteur, of whose distinction as a man of science and devoutness
as a Catholic nothing need be said.

It is quite unnecessary to devote any consideration here to the
character of Pasteur's experiments, for they have become a matter of
common knowledge to all educated persons. Let it suffice to say that
they were on the lines first laid down by Redi and greatly elaborated by
Spallanzani, namely the exclusion from the fluids or other substances
under examination of all possible contamination by minute organisms in
the air. Spallanzani knew nothing of these organisms; they were not
discovered until many years after his death. But he surmised that there
was something which brought corruption into the fluids; he excluded that
something, with the result that the fluids remained untainted. From our
point of view, however, there are several things to be learnt. In the
first place quite a number of ignorant persons have thought that the
discovery of spontaneous generation would upset religious dogmata. That
of course is quite absurd. From what has been said above it will be seen
that St. Thomas Aquinas--in common with all the men of learning of his
day--fully believed in it, as did Needham, another ecclesiastic as to
whose orthodoxy there is no doubt. Further, the entire controversy is a
complete confutation of the false allegation that between Catholicism
and science there is a great gulf set. There have been few longer and
more remarkable controversies in the history of science, and scarce any
other--if indeed any other--which has such important bearings upon
health and industry than that which relates to bio- or abio-genesis. It
is significant to find that the names of so many of the protagonists in
this controversy were those of men who were also convinced adherents of
the Catholic Church.


Of the making of books on the question of Vitalism there would seem to
be no end; and, following upon quite a number of others comes this
handsome, well-illustrated, intensely interesting book, by one whose
writings are always worth study. It purports to deal with the Origin and
Evolution of Life; but, as to the first, it leaves us in no way advanced
towards any real explanation of that problem on materialistic lines. As
to the second, though there is a vast amount of valuable information,
often illuminating and suggestive, again we confess that we fail to
discover any real philosophy of that process of evolution which the
author postulates. These propositions we must now proceed to justify. We
can consider them from the most rigidly scientific standpoint, since, if
every word or almost every word in the book were proved truth, it would
not make the slightest difference to Catholic Philosophy, nor, indeed,
to Theistic teachings, since in the imperishable words of Paley: "There
may be many second causes, and many courses of second causes, one behind
another, between what we observe of nature and the Deity; but there
must be intelligence somewhere; there must be more in nature than what
we see; and, amongst the things unseen, there must be an intelligent
designing Author."

The scientific writer has to remember that whilst he may explain many
things, his work is a torso unless and until he has either accepted the
Creator as the first Cause, which he is too often disinclined to do, or
has supplied an equally satisfactory explanation, which he is
permanently unable to do. On the other hand, at least some defenders of
Theism in the past might well have borne in mind that, whilst we are
assured of the fact of Creation, we know absolutely nothing of its
mechanism save that it came about by the command of God. There is
nothing in which clear thinking and clear writing are more necessary
than in discussions of this kind; and too many of them are vitiated by
an obvious lack of philosophical training on the part of the
participants. Even in this carefully written book there are instances of
this kind of thing to which we must allude before considering its main

"We know, for example, that there has existed a more or less complete
chain of beings from monad to man, that the one-toed horse had a
four-toed ancestor, that man has descended from an unknown ape-like form
somewhere in the Tertiary." "We _know_"--that is exactly the opposite of
the truth. We _know_ a thing when it is susceptible of proof according
to the rigid rules of formal logic; when, to doubt it, would be to give
rise to a suspicion as to our sanity; then we _know_ a thing, but not
until then. Now, as to the sentence quoted, we may allow the first part
to pass unchallenged with some possible demur at the use of the word
"chain." The second so-called piece of knowledge was doubted by no less
an authority than the late Adam Sedgwick. The third assertion plainly
and distinctly is not the case; for Science _knows_ nothing whatsoever
about the origin of man's body. In 1901 Branco, a distinguished
palæontologist, with no Theistic leanings as far as we know, told the
world that man appears on our planet as "a genuine _homo novus_," and
that palæontology "knows no ancestors of man." Nor has any discovery
since that date necessitated the modification of that opinion. What the
writer means by saying "_We_ know" is "_I_ am convinced"; but, with the
deepest respect for his undoubted position, the two things are not quite
identical. "Biology, like theology, has its dogmas. Leaders have their
disciples and blind followers." Wise words! They are those of the author
with whom we are dealing. To say "we know" when really we only surmise
is a misuse of language, just as it is also a misuse to ask the question
"Does nature make a departure from its previously ordered procedure and
substitute chance for law?" since the ordinary reader is all too apt to
forget that "Nature" is a mere abstraction, and that to speak of Nature
doing such or such a thing helps us in no way along the road towards an
explanation of things.

Or again: "So far as the _creative_ power of energy is concerned, we are
on sure ground." The author has a careful note on the word creation (p.
5), "the production of something new out of nothing," under which
definition it is abundantly clear that energy, whilst it may be
_productive_, cannot be _creative_. In fact, nothing can be _creative_
in any definite and rigid sense, save a _Creator_ Who existed from all
eternity and from Whom all things arose. One more instance of loose
argumentation, and we can turn to the main purport of the book. It is a
link in the author's "chain" which cannot be passed without examination.
Everybody is familiar with the method of proof by elimination. We set
down every possible explanation of a certain occurrence; we rule out one
after the other until but one is left. If we really have set down all
the possible explanations, and if we are quite clear as to the fact that
all those which have been excluded are legitimately put out of court,
then the one remaining explanation must be the true one. It is a method
of proof which has frequently been applied to the vitalistic problem,
and with the greatest effect, as it is admitted by some of those who
would greatly like to find a materialistic explanation for that problem
(cf. _The Philosophy of Biology_, Johnstone, p. 319).

Let us see how our author employs it. What, he asks, is "the internal
moving principle" in living substance? And he replies: "We may first
exclude the possibility that it acts either through supernatural or
teleological interposition through an externally creative power." Very
well! Philosophers tell us that we can assume any position we choose for
the purposes of our argument, but that ultimately we must prove that
assumption or admit ourselves beaten. We look anxiously for the proof of
the assumption made by our author, but absolutely no attempt is made to
give one. We must be pardoned, therefore, if we hesitate to accept such
an important statement on his mere _ipse dixit_. We pass on to the next
elimination: "Although its visible results are in a high degree
purposeful, we may also exclude as unscientific the vitalistic theory of
an _entelechy_[37] or any other form of internal perfecting agency
distinct from known or unknown physio-chemical energies." Why
"unscientific"? Numbers of high authorities have not thought it so; and
in quite recent years such eminent writers as Driesch and McDougal have
written erudite works to prove this "unscientific" hypothesis. Is there
any proof brought forward for _this_ assertion and its corresponding

Let us continue the quotation: "Since certain forms of adaptation which
were formerly mysterious can now be explained without the assumption of
an entelechy we are encouraged to hope that all forms may be thus
explained." The author does not tell us what the mysterious adaptations
are, nor does he offer us the explanations which, in his opinion,
explain them. We cannot, therefore, criticise his views, and can only
remind his readers that, because an explanation plausibly explains an
occurrence, it is by no means always therefore certain to be the true
explanation; it may, indeed, be wholly false.

Further, those who have been wandering for the past half-century in the
fields of science have become a little wearied of "explanations,"
vaunted, for periods of five or ten years, as the key to open all locks,
and then cast into the furnace. What the author would seem to mean by
his statement is this: "I am convinced myself that we can do without a
'supernatural' explanation, and I regard as 'unscientific' any
explanation which cannot be put to the test of chemistry and physics;
hence I must shut the door on anything like an _entelechy_, and, that
being so, it behoves me to look for some other explanation." Of course,
we are putting these words into the mouth of our author; if we were
dealing with the matter ourselves we should be inclined to argue that,
by the eliminatory method, chemistry and physics do prove, or do help to
prove, the existence of an entelechy.

With these expostulations we may turn to the writer's pronouncements on
the vitalistic question which seem to us to be worthy of serious
consideration. Everybody knows that there are two very diverse opinions
on this topic; the one that there is, the other that there is not
something more--a _plus_--in living than there is in not-living
objects. In other words, that there is a difference of kind, and not
merely of degree, between a stone and a sparrow. Hence the schools of
thought called vitalistic and mechanistic. To most persons it has up to
now seemed impossible that there could be a third school; we appeared to
be confronted with what the logicians call a Dichotomy. Professor Osborn
seems to us to think otherwise, though he is not wholly clear on this
matter. If we are to "reject the vitalistic hypotheses of the ancient
Greeks, and the modern vitalism of Driesch, of Bergson, and of others,"
and if, on the other hand, we are to view, as he thinks we must, the
cosmos as one of "limitless and _ordered_ energy"--we have emphasised
the word "_ordered_" for reasons which will shortly appear--we must
clearly look out for some middle way. "_Ordered_," a purely mechanistic
and materialistically realised cosmos cannot be. "_Ordered_" conditions
are determined by what we agree to call "Laws"; and these, as all must
admit, entail a Lawgiver.

The alternative is Blind Chance; and the author, after considering the
question, agrees, as again most reasonable persons will agree, that
Blind Chance is no explanation of things as they are. He quotes a modern
chemist who, discussing the probability of the environmental fitness of
the earth for life being a mere chance process, remarks: "There is, in
truth, not one chance in countless millions of millions that the many
unique properties of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, and especially of
their stable compounds, water and carbonic acid, which chiefly make up
the atmosphere of a new planet, should simultaneously occur in the three
elements otherwise than through the operation of a natural law which
somehow connects them together. There is no greater probability that
these unique properties should be without due cause uniquely favourable
to the organic mechanism" (J. J. Henderson, 1913).

If neither of the classic points of view is tenable, what then is the
explanation, if, indeed, any be possible? The author casts one brief
glance down that blind-alley marked "Element Way." Does some known
element or some unknown element, to which the name _Bion_ might be
given, exist and form the source of the energy in living things? Radium
has only been known to us for a few years; can we say that there is no
such thing as Bion? Of course we cannot; but this we can say, that, if
there is such an element and if it is really responsible for all the
protean manifestations of life, wonderful as radium and its doings are,
they must sink into nothingness beside those of this new and unsuspected
entity. The author evidently does not think that this path is a
profitable one to pursue, and we agree with him; so he turns his
attention to the question of energy. Energy is the capacity for doing
work. It is often, of course, latent, as, for example, in a cordite
cartridge, which is a peaceful, harmless thing until the energy stored
up in it is realised with the accompanying explosion and work is done.
It is the same with a bent spring; a clock-weight when the clock is not
going, and so on.

We need not develop this matter further; but one point must be alluded
to, namely, the gradual exhaustion of the available energy in the
changes from one manifestation to another. In all physical processes
heat is evolved, which heat is distributed by conduction and radiation
and tends to become universally diffused throughout space. When complete
uniformity has been attained, all physical phenomena will come to an
end; in other words, our solar system must come to an end, and it must
have had a beginning. It is a well-known argument. Is there anything to
rewind the clock which is running down before our very eyes? It was once
urged that stellar collisions, and such-like things, might permit us to
postulate a cyclical arrangement (and thus rearrangement) of universal
phenomena; but that hypothesis does not seem to find any supporters

In his interesting book, already mentioned, Dr. Johnstone called
attention to the power possessed by living matter of reversing the
process; but no reversal of this kind and extent can make up for the
constant degradation of energy which is taking place all round us. We
mention this because it shows that "energy" cannot, in any case, afford
an eternal solution, but only a temporal and therefore a limited one. No
one doubts that there is energy in the living thing, nor that there are
what the author calls "complexes of energies." No one, again, will
quarrel with the statement that energy is first seen in the sun, in the
earth, in the air, and in the water; that "with life something new
appears in the universe, namely, a union of the internal and external
adjustment of energy which we appropriately call an _Organism_." That
"the germ is an energy complex" is no doubt an unproved hypothesis, as
he admits, but is quite likely. With all these assertions we may agree,
though we cannot with that which follows, namely, that energy is
creative, for that such is impossible in any true sense of that word we
have already tried to show.

We have now to ask ourselves in what way this energy conception of life
differs from, or goes beyond, the two theories of life--mechanistic and
vitalistic, which have hitherto been supposed to have exhausted the
possibilities of explanation. In order to do this we must analyse the
author's idea of energy and its relationship to biological processes a
little more closely. He begins his study of life and its evolution by
considering how nutrition and the derivation of energy can have taken
place before chlorophyl had come into existence; and he very pertinently
points to the _prototrophic_ bacteria as probably representing "the
survival of a primordial stage of life chemistry." Thus a "primitive
feeder," the bacterium _Nitrosomonas_, "for combustion ... takes in
oxygen directly through the intermediate action of iron, phosphorus or
manganese, each of the single cells being a powerful little chemical
laboratory which contains oxidising catalysers, the activity of which
is accelerated by the presence of iron and manganese. Still, in the
primordial stage, _Nitrosomonas_ lives on ammonium sulphate, taking its
energy (food) from the nitrogen of ammonium and forming nitrates. Living
symbiotically with it is _Nitrobacter_, which takes its energy (food)
from the nitrates formed by _Nitrosomonas_, oxidising them into
nitrates. Thus these two species illustrate in its simplest form our law
of the _interaction of an organism_ (_Nitrobacter_) _with its life
environment_ (_Nitrosomonas_)" (p. 82, author's italics).

Once one has got to this stage, it is _ex hypothesi_ easy to ascend
through the vegetable and animal worlds and to formulate the various
laws which appear to have shaped the evolution of life and of species.
We are then "within the system," but to arrive at anything worthy of the
name of an explanation we have first to _get_ within the system. Even
then there remains over the task of explaining how the system comes to
be there to get inside of. The writer talks of his example as "the
simplest form." Yet, in his own words, it is a "_powerful little
chemical laboratory_," well stocked with catalysers and other potent
means for carrying on its work. "Simple"! Well, no doubt comparatively
simple, but in reality complex almost beyond the power of words to
describe. "A chemical laboratory"! Yes; and one which performs most
delicate operations. "Well stocked with catalysers"! And what are they?
Most wonderful things which induce change without themselves undergoing
any; discoveries of quite recent date as to which we still know but
little. "Simple" seems hardly the word to apply, save in strict relation
to other and higher forms. How did this laboratory come into existence?
In what way did it learn to do its work? How did catalysers come to be?
Was all this mere chance-medley? It is Paley's example of the watch
found on the heath once more. Does it help us in any way to talk about
"energy" and "complexes" of energy and "the creative force of energy"?
To us it does not seem to advance matters one little bit. Either these
operations of _Nitrosomonas_ are determined or they are not; either they
are the result of a law or they are the result of blind chance; in
either case the energy which is involved must act according to the
conditions ordered or not ordered. In other words: if it is the dominant
factor, as the writer would lead us to suppose; if there is "direction,"
then the action of energy must be directive; and, if it is directive, in
what possible way does it differ, save in name, from the old _entelechy_
or _vital principle_, or whatever else one may choose to call it? On the
other hand, if there is no such a thing as direction, if everything
happens by chance, if the mechanistic theory is right, how does energy
save us from complete surrender to that theory?

From all this it would appear that whilst energy is constantly being
exhibited (and in all sorts of manifestations) by the living object,
that does not explain anything, since it does not explain how energy
originally came to be, nor how it came to work under the laws which
seem to govern it. It is one more added to the long list of
"explanations," which hopelessly break down because those who have put
them forward have never apparently applied themselves to the task of
grasping the important difference between a final and an intermediate

Let us sum up this part of our author's teaching in the light of this
distinction. The organism is a material complex, and all sorts of
actions and reactions take place in it. They are subject to the laws of
physics, and notably to those relating to energy and its
transformations. It has internal energies which must be adjusted to one
another and not less to those around it; that is to say, it must be more
or less in harmony with its environment. There are the problems of
germ-plasm, and its transmission; the effect on it, if any, of the body,
and the reaction of the body to its environment. There are also the
catalysers of which we have spoken, with many problems associated with
them, and throwing a possible and unexpected light on the vexed question
of Vitalism and the Conservation of Energy. There are all these things,
manifestations of energy; there is the watch, and it is going. But, as
we remarked elsewhere, the fact that we have learned that the resiliency
of the spring in the watch makes it "go" does not exhaust the
explanation of the watch any more than the fact that we know something
of the actions and reactions of energy in the organism exhausts its
explanation. The watch is "going"; so is the organism. Each of them, in
a sense, is a "wonderful little laboratory" in which manifestations of
energy are constantly taking place. The watchmaker constructed the watch
for that purpose; who or what constructed the organism? Darwin and the
Darwinians would have said--Natural Selection. In fact, Darwin rather
lamented that "the old argument from design in nature, as given by
Paley, which formerly seemed to me to be so conclusive, fails now that
the law of Natural Selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue
that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have
been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by man.
There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings,
and in the action of Natural Selection, than in the course which the
wind blows." There again Darwin fell into a mistake, because he confused
an intermediate with a final cause. Even if Natural Selection were all
that the most ultra-Darwinian could claim it to be, it could not, as
Driesch and others have shown, exhaust the explanation of the organism.

As a matter of fact the world of science is very far from thinking of
Natural Selection as anything more than a factor, perhaps even a minor
factor, in evolution. The author of the work with which we are dealing
tells us that "Darwin's law of selection as a natural explanation of the
origin of _all_ fitness in form and function has lost its prestige at
the present time, and all of Darwinism which now meets with universal
acceptance is the _law of the survival of the fittest_, a limited
application of Darwin's great idea as expressed by Herbert Spencer." But
let that pass. In another place the author makes it clear that the
explanations of to-day, including his own, do _not_ exhaust the subject,
for he says "it is incumbent on us to discover the _cause_ of the
orderly origin of every character. The nature of such a law we cannot
even dream of at present, for the causes of the majority of vertebrate
adaptations remain wholly unknown." In any case we must account for
Natural Selection; for if it is a Law--as some doubt--it must have had a
Lawgiver. The watch must have been an Idea in some one's mind before it
became an accomplished fact, and Natural Selection or any other "Law of
Nature" must--unless all reason is nonsense and all nonsense
reason--also have been an Idea before it became a factor. Whose Idea?
Our author does not help us to answer this question. On the contrary--he
tries to set an unclimbable fence in the way of any answer by telling
us, though without any convincing argument to support his statement,
that we may "exclude the possibility that it" [the internal moving
principle] "acts either through supernatural or teleological
interposition through an externally creative power." But though he
refuses to allow us to look in this direction for a solution of our
difficulties, it must be confessed that he does not help us with any
other answer satisfying the question of the origin and evolution of


  [Footnote 36: _The Origin and Evolution of Life; or, the Theory
  of Action, Reaction, and Interaction of Energy._ By F. H.
  Osborn. (G. Bell & Sons.)]

  [Footnote 37: By _entelechy_--an Aristotelian term
  re-introduced by Driesch--is meant an agency other than one of
  a purely chemico-physical character, which differentiates
  living from not-living substance, and is responsible for the
  phenomenon of life.]

       *       *       *       *       *


Agassiz, 142

Allen, Grant, 85

Aquinas, St. Thomas, 60, 147, 153

Austen, Miss, 32

Avicenna, 153

Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J., 116

Bassi, Laura, 155

Bateson, W., F.R.S., 4, 7, 11, 118, 150

Bax, Belfort, 37

Benson, Mgr., 84, 88, 94, 101

Bergson, 151, 166

Bernhardi, 20

Borden, Sir Robert, 122

Branco, 162

Buffon, 100

Butler, Samuel 44, 61

Chesterton, G. K., 113

Clodd, E., 86

Conklyn, 23

Cowper, 37

Crichton-Browne, 20

Cuvier, 142

Darwin, 116, 131, 150, 173

Devas, Mr. 27, 120

Dewar, Prof. Sir J., F.R.S., 113

Doyle, Sir A. C., 46, 51

Driesch, 4, 7, 24, 69, 164, 166, 173

Fallopius, 96, 144

Fielding, 31

Gosse, E., 39

Gosse, Philip, 98

Grant Allen, 85

Healy, Father--Tale of, 40

Henderson, J. J., 167

Henslow, 24

Hull, Fr. E., S.J., 103

Huxley, 74, 98, 101, 117

Johnson, Dr. 48, 161, 168

Joly, Prof., F.R.S., 110

Kelvin, Lord, 151

Lankester, 15

Lauder, Harry, 2

Leduc, 2, 62

Lodge, Sir O., 3, 85

Loeb, J,. 58, 62

Lucas, E. V., on the War, 47

Mcdougal, 164

Mahaffy, Sir John, 111

Marett, 15, 16

Masefield, 48

Mendel, 75, 135

Milton, 145

Mivart, Prof., 96

Needham, John Turberville, 154

Newman, 33, 38

Newton, The Rev. J., 38

Nietzsche, 19

Osborne, Prof., 160

Paley, 160

Pasteur, 157

Perkin, Prof. W. H., 107

Pouchet, 157

Priestley, 156

Redi, Francisco, 153

Richardson, 31

Rignano, 25, 62

Ryder, Dr., 51

Sabatier, 113

Schwann, Theodor, 157

Scott, Prof., 142

Scott, The Rev. Thomas, 38

Sedgwick, Adam, 162

Spallanzani, Lazaro, 155

Stensen, Nicolaus, 75, 97, 99

Tilden, Sir William, 64

Tyson, Edward, 77

Wasmann, 26, 150

Wells, H. G., 49

Whiffen, 20


Adam, 146

Adrenals, 63

"After-Christians," 120

Aggressive mimicry, 123

Albino race, An, 128

Amazonian Indians, 20

"Anatomie of a Pygmie," 77

Ancestral peculiarities, 133

Aniline dyes, 107

Arrangement, 8, 137

Bacteria, Prototrophic, 169

Badische Aniline Fabrik, 106, 109

Bathybius, 98

Bion, 167

Blind Chance, 166

Bondage of Knowledge, The, 84

Botanic Garden, 131

Breeding Committees, 119

Breeding True, 126

Bricks and Builders, 139

"Bugbear of Hell," 21, 119

Calvinism, 32

Cartesian idea of the soul, 69

Catalysts, 113, 170

Celibacy, 120

Cell-Theory, The, 157

Chance-Medley, 134

Chromatin, 130

Colloids, 62

"Continuity," 46

Conversion, 34

Cowardice, Alleged, of Catholic Scientists, 99

Creation, 163;
  a method of, 144

"Criticisms on the Pentateuch," 45

"Cutting up of Frogs," 115

Cytolysis, 65

"Dabney, Mr.," 47

Defence of the Realm Act, 82

Degradation of Energy, 168

Derivative Creation, 146

Discontinuity, 3

"Ducks and Drakes," 156

Duck's Egg, 125, 130

Dye-stuffs, 107

Elimination, Proof by, 163

Energy, 16

Energy, Degradation of, 169

Entelechy, 164, 171

Eskimo, 19

"Esmond," 31

"Essays and Reviews," 45

Eugenics, 117

Evangelicanism, 32, 33, 44

Exhibitions, International, of 1851 and 1862, 10

Extermination of the Less Fit, 122

Families, Restricted, 118

"Father and Son," 39

"Force and Energy, a Theory of Dynamics," 85

"Force of Truth, The," 38

Formaldehyde, 2

Fossils, Explanation of, 97

Free First Cause, 144, 151

Freethinkers and "tolerance, justice, and gentleness," 73

Germination, 65

Guide, the Church a, 92

Hapsburg lip, The, 127

Harmonious-Equipotential System, 69

Heredity in the Law Courts, 29

Hormones, 63

Horse, Pedigree of the, 161

Imprimatur, The, 77

In-and-in breeding, 127

Index Prohibitorius, 95

Industrial Scientific Research, Department of, 114

  Chemical theory, 134;
  Mnemic theory, 5, 61, 133;
  Particulate theories, 61, 132

Jack, Jill, and Joan, 119

Jungle, The law of, 122

King-crabs, 145

Lamp-shells, 145

Law and Heredity, The, 129

Law and Lawgiver, 9

Law of Nature, 174

Law's "Serious Call," 31

Liberty, personal, 87

"Life and Habit," 61

Life, Origin of, 160

"Little Dorrit," 112

"Loss and Gain," 33

Maggots in meat, 153

Man's pedigree, 161

"Marriage," 49

Mauve, 107

Mediate Creation, 147

Memory, unconscious, 5

Mendelism, 6

Method of Creation, 144, 161

Micromeristic theories, 5

Mimicry, 123

Mnemic Theory of Inheritance, The, 5, 61, 133

Monastic Orders, 121

Monophyletic evolution, 151

"Multitude and Solitude," 48

"Naturalism and Agnosticism," 57

Natural Selection, 19, 122, 173

"Nature does this," 136, 162

Nature's insurgent son, 15

"New Republic, The," 56

"New Revelation, The," 46, 51

Nitrobacter, 170

Novels and Novelists, 30

"Occam's" razor, 29

Occultism, 28, 51

Ordered energy, 166

"Organism as a whole," 38

Origin of Species, 150

"Over Bemertons," 47

Oxford Movement, 33

"Pamela," 32

Pangenesis, 61, 131

Pantheism, 9

"Paradise Lost," 145

"Parson Adams," 31

Particulate Theories of Inheritance, 61, 132

Personal Liberty, 81

"Philosophy of Biology, The," 163

Phylogeny, 4, 149

Plymouth Brethren, 99

Political leaders of the day, 114

Polyphyletic hypothesis, The, 150

Porto Santo rabbits, 148

Post-Christians, 27

Prototrophic bacteria, 169

Providentissimus Deus, 103

Pugs and Greyhounds, 126

Purposefulness: a strange confession as to, 59

"Raymond," 51

Resiliency, 172

Restricted families, 118

Sabbatarianism, 36

Salaries of Scientific Teachers, 112

Saurians, 145

Science, Catholic Men of, 75-6

Science, Neglect of, at Schools, 109

Sin, Mythical Ideas of, 123

Six-fingered race, A, 128

Slavery in the State, 24

"Slime of the Earth," 146

"Social Vermin," 118

"Some Revelations as to 'Raymond,'" 53

Special Creation, 142

Spermatozoon, 65

Spiritualism and the War, 50

Spontaneous Generation, 152

Springs in the watch, The, 172

"Stinks Men," 110

Survival of the Fittest, 122

Syngamy, 65

Synthetic drugs, 107

Telepathy, 2

Teratomata, 65

Theophobia, 26

Thermos flask, The, 113

"Throws back," 128

Trilobites, 145

Trinity College, Dublin, 110

"Tyranny" of the Church, 91

Uncle Remus and the rabbit's tail, 127

Unconscious Memory, 5, 61

Universities, Mediæval, 75

Vitalism and Anti-Vitalism, 68, 165

"Way of All Flesh, The," 44

"Wisdom, Book of," 123

Wolff's Experiment, 69

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *


Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
possible, including obsolete and variant spellings. Obvious
typographical errors in punctuation (misplaced quotes and the like) have
been fixed. Corrections [in brackets] in the text are noted below:

page 85

    years in investigating. The man who sets out to make a
    research, without first acertaining[ascertaining] what others
    have done in that direction, proposes to

page 121 (Footnote 32)

    Conklyn, _Heredity and Environment in the Development of
    Men_. Princetown[Princeton] University Press, 1915.

page 136

    mere personification and means either chance-medley or a
    Creator, according to the old dilemna.[dilemma] There is a
    very curious example of this inability

page 153:

    We come to close quarters with the question itself in 1668,
    when Franceso[Francesco] Redi (1626-1697) published his book
    on the generation of insects

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