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´╗┐Title: History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom
Author: White, Andrew Dickson, 1832-1918
Language: English
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By Andrew Dickson White

Two Volumes Combined

To the Memory of



Thoughts that great hearts once broke for, we

Breathe cheaply in the common air.--LOWELL

Dicipulus est prioris posterior dies.--PUBLIUS SYRUS

Truth is the daughter of Time.--BACON

The Truth shall make you free.--ST. JOHN, viii, 32.


My book is ready for the printer, and as I begin this preface my eye
lights upon the crowd of Russian peasants at work on the Neva under my
windows. With pick and shovel they are letting the rays of the April sun
into the great ice barrier which binds together the modern quays and the
old granite fortress where lie the bones of the Romanoff Czars.

This barrier is already weakened; it is widely decayed, in many places
thin, and everywhere treacherous; but it is, as a whole, so broad, so
crystallized about old boulders, so imbedded in shallows, so wedged into
crannies on either shore, that it is a great danger. The waters from
thousands of swollen streamlets above are pressing behind it; wreckage
and refuse are piling up against it; every one knows that it must yield.
But there is danger that it may resist the pressure too long and break
suddenly, wrenching even the granite quays from their foundations,
bringing desolation to a vast population, and leaving, after the
subsidence of the flood, a widespread residue of slime, a fertile
breeding-bed for the germs of disease.

But the patient mujiks are doing the right thing. The barrier, exposed
more and more to the warmth of spring by the scores of channels they are
making, will break away gradually, and the river will flow on beneficent
and beautiful.

My work in this book is like that of the Russian mujik on the Neva. I
simply try to aid in letting the light of historical truth into that
decaying mass of outworn thought which attaches the modern world to
mediaeval conceptions of Christianity, and which still lingers among
us--a most serious barrier to religion and morals, and a menace to the
whole normal evolution of society.

For behind this barrier also the flood is rapidly rising--the flood
of increased knowledge and new thought; and this barrier also, though
honeycombed and in many places thin, creates a danger--danger of a
sudden breaking away, distressing and calamitous, sweeping before it not
only out worn creeds and noxious dogmas, but cherished principles
and ideals, and even wrenching out most precious religious and moral
foundations of the whole social and political fabric.

My hope is to aid--even if it be but a little--in the gradual and
healthful dissolving away of this mass of unreason, that the stream of
"religion pure and undefiled" may flow on broad and clear, a blessing to

And now a few words regarding the evolution of this book.

It is something over a quarter of a century since I labored with Ezra
Cornell in founding the university which bears his honored name.

Our purpose was to establish in the State of New York an institution for
advanced instruction and research, in which science, pure and applied,
should have an equal place with literature; in which the study of
literature, ancient and modern, should be emancipated as much as
possible from pedantry; and which should be free from various useless
trammels and vicious methods which at that period hampered many, if not
most, of the American universities and colleges.

We had especially determined that the institution should be under the
control of no political party and of no single religious sect, and with
Mr. Cornell's approval I embodied stringent provisions to this effect in
the charter.

It had certainly never entered into the mind of either of us that in all
this we were doing anything irreligious or unchristian. Mr. Cornell
was reared a member of the Society of Friends; he had from his fortune
liberally aided every form of Christian effort which he found going on
about him, and among the permanent trustees of the public library
which he had already founded, he had named all the clergymen of
the town--Catholic and Protestant. As for myself, I had been bred a
churchman, had recently been elected a trustee of one church college,
and a professor in another; those nearest and dearest to me were
devoutly religious; and, if I may be allowed to speak of a matter so
personal to my self, my most cherished friendships were among deeply
religious men and women, and my greatest sources of enjoyment were
ecclesiastical architecture, religious music, and the more devout forms
of poetry. So, far from wishing to injure Christianity, we both hoped to
promote it; but we did not confound religion with sectarianism, and we
saw in the sectarian character of American colleges and universities as
a whole, a reason for the poverty of the advanced instruction then given
in so many of them.

It required no great acuteness to see that a system of control which, in
selecting a Professor of Mathematics or Language or Rhetoric or Physics
or Chemistry, asked first and above all to what sect or even to what
wing or branch of a sect he belonged, could hardly do much to advance
the moral, religious, or intellectual development of mankind.

The reasons for the new foundation seemed to us, then, so cogent that
we expected the co-operation of all good citizens, and anticipated no
opposition from any source.

As I look back across the intervening years, I know not whether to be
more astonished or amused at our simplicity.

Opposition began at once. In the State Legislature it confronted us at
every turn, and it was soon in full blaze throughout the State--from the
good Protestant bishop who proclaimed that all professors should be in
holy orders, since to the Church alone was given the command, "Go, teach
all nations," to the zealous priest who published a charge that Goldwin
Smith--a profoundly Christian scholar--had come to Cornell in order
to inculcate the "infidelity of the Westminster Review"; and from the
eminent divine who went from city to city, denouncing the "atheistic
and pantheistic tendencies" of the proposed education, to the perfervid
minister who informed a denominational synod that Agassiz, the last
great opponent of Darwin, and a devout theist, was "preaching Darwinism
and atheism" in the new institution.

As the struggle deepened, as hostile resolutions were introduced into
various ecclesiastical bodies, as honored clergymen solemnly warned
their flocks first against the "atheism," then against the "infidelity,"
and finally against the "indifferentism" of the university, as devoted
pastors endeavoured to dissuade young men from matriculation, I took the
defensive, and, in answer to various attacks from pulpits and religious
newspapers, attempted to allay the fears of the public. "Sweet
reasonableness" was fully tried. There was established and endowed in
the university perhaps the most effective Christian pulpit, and one of
the most vigorous branches of the Christian Association, then in the
United States; but all this did nothing to ward off the attack.
The clause in the charter of the university forbidding it to give
predominance to the doctrines of any sect, and above all the fact that
much prominence was given to instruction in various branches of science,
seemed to prevent all compromise, and it soon became clear that to stand
on the defensive only made matters worse. Then it was that there was
borne in upon me a sense of the real difficulty--the antagonism between
the theological and scientific view of the universe and of education in
relation to it; therefore it was that, having been invited to deliver a
lecture in the great hall of the Cooper Institute at New York, I took
as my subject The Battlefields of Science, maintaining this thesis which

In all modern history, interference with science in the supposed
interest of religion, no matter how conscientious such interference
may have been, has resulted in the direst evils both to religion
and science, and invariably; and, on the other hand, all untrammeled
scientific investigation, no matter how dangerous to religion some of
its stages may have seemed for the time to be, has invariably resulted
in the highest good both of religion and science.

The lecture was next day published in the New York Tribune at the
request of Horace Greeley, its editor, who was also one of the Cornell
University trustees. As a result of this widespread publication and
of sundry attacks which it elicited, I was asked to maintain my thesis
before various university associations and literary clubs; and I shall
always remember with gratitude that among those who stood by me and
presented me on the lecture platform with words of approval and cheer
was my revered instructor, the Rev. Dr. Theodore Dwight Woolsey, at that
time President of Yale College.

My lecture grew--first into a couple of magazine articles, and then into
a little book called The Warfare of Science, for which, when republished
in England, Prof. John Tyndall wrote a preface.

Sundry translations of this little book were published, but the
most curious thing in its history is the fact that a very friendly
introduction to the Swedish translation was written by a Lutheran

Meanwhile Prof. John W. Draper published his book on The Conflict
between Science and Religion, a work of great ability, which, as I then
thought, ended the matter, so far as my giving it further attention was

But two things led me to keep on developing my own work in this field:
First, I had become deeply interested in it, and could not refrain from
directing my observation and study to it; secondly, much as I admired
Draper's treatment of the questions involved, his point of view and mode
of looking at history were different from mine.

He regarded the struggle as one between Science and Religion. I believed
then, and am convinced now, that it was a struggle between Science and
Dogmatic Theology.

More and more I saw that it was the conflict between two epochs in the
evolution of human thought--the theological and the scientific.

So I kept on, and from time to time published New Chapters in the
Warfare of Science as magazine articles in The Popular Science Monthly.
This was done under many difficulties. For twenty years, as President of
Cornell University and Professor of History in that institution, I was
immersed in the work of its early development. Besides this, I could not
hold myself entirely aloof from public affairs, and was three times sent
by the Government of the United States to do public duty abroad: first
as a commissioner to Santo Domingo, in 1870; afterward as minister to
Germany, in 1879; finally, as minister to Russia, in 1892; and was
also called upon by the State of New York to do considerable labor in
connection with international exhibitions at Philadelphia and at Paris.
I was also obliged from time to time to throw off by travel the effects
of overwork.

The variety of residence and occupation arising from these causes may
perhaps explain some peculiarities in this book which might otherwise
puzzle my reader.

While these journeyings have enabled me to collect materials over a
very wide range--in the New World, from Quebec to Santo Domingo and from
Boston to Mexico, San Francisco, and Seattle, and in the Old World from
Trondhjem to Cairo and from St. Petersburg to Palermo--they have often
obliged me to write under circumstances not very favorable: sometimes
on an Atlantic steamer, sometimes on a Nile boat, and not only in my
own library at Cornell, but in those of Berlin, Helsingfors, Munich,
Florence, and the British Museum. This fact will explain to the
benevolent reader not only the citation of different editions of the
same authority in different chapters, but some iterations which in the
steady quiet of my own library would not have been made.

It has been my constant endeavour to write for the general reader,
avoiding scholastic and technical terms as much as possible and stating
the truth simply as it presents itself to me.

That errors of omission and commission will be found here and there is
probable--nay, certain; but the substance of the book will, I believe,
be found fully true. I am encouraged in this belief by the fact that, of
the three bitter attacks which this work in its earlier form has already
encountered, one was purely declamatory, objurgatory, and hortatory, and
the others based upon ignorance of facts easily pointed out.

And here I must express my thanks to those who have aided me. First and
above all to my former student and dear friend, Prof. George Lincoln
Burr, of Cornell University, to whose contributions, suggestions,
criticisms, and cautions I am most deeply indebted; also to my friends
U. G. Weatherly, formerly Travelling Fellow of Cornell, and now
Assistant Professor in the University of Indiana,--Prof. and Mrs. Earl
Barnes and Prof. William H. Hudson, of Stanford University,--and Prof.
E. P Evans, formerly of the University of Michigan, but now of Munich,
for extensive aid in researches upon the lines I have indicated to them,
but which I could never have prosecuted without their co-operation.
In libraries at home and abroad they have all worked for me most
effectively, and I am deeply grateful to them.

This book is presented as a sort of Festschrift--a tribute to Cornell
University as it enters the second quarter-century of its existence, and
probably my last tribute.

The ideas for which so bitter a struggle was made at its foundation
have triumphed. Its faculty, numbering over one hundred and, fifty;
its students, numbering but little short of two thousand; its noble
buildings and equipment; the munificent gifts, now amounting to millions
of dollars, which it has received from public-spirited men and women;
the evidences of public confidence on all sides; and, above all,
the adoption of its cardinal principles and main features by various
institutions of learning in other States, show this abundantly. But
there has been a triumph far greater and wider. Everywhere among the
leading modern nations the same general tendency is seen. During the
quarter-century just past the control of public instruction, not only in
America but in the leading nations of Europe, has passed more and more
from the clergy to the laity. Not only are the presidents of the larger
universities in the United States, with but one or two exceptions,
laymen, but the same thing is seen in the old European strongholds of
metaphysical theology. At my first visit to Oxford and Cambridge, forty
years ago, they were entirely under ecclesiastical control. Now, all
this is changed. An eminent member of the present British Government has
recently said, "A candidate for high university position is handicapped
by holy orders." I refer to this with not the slightest feeling of
hostility toward the clergy, for I have none; among them are many of my
dearest friends; no one honours their proper work more than I; but the
above fact is simply noted as proving the continuance of that evolution
which I have endeavoured to describe in this series of monographs--an
evolution, indeed, in which the warfare of Theology against Science has
been one of the most active and powerful agents. My belief is that in
the field left to them--their proper field--the clergy will more
and more, as they cease to struggle against scientific methods and
conclusions, do work even nobler and more beautiful than anything they
have heretofore done. And this is saying much. My conviction is that
Science, though it has evidently conquered Dogmatic Theology based on
biblical texts and ancient modes of thought, will go hand in hand
with Religion; and that, although theological control will continue
to diminish, Religion, as seen in the recognition of "a Power in the
universe, not ourselves, which makes for righteousness," and in the love
of God and of our neighbor, will steadily grow stronger and stronger,
not only in the American institutions of learning but in the world
at large. Thus may the declaration of Micah as to the requirements of
Jehovah, the definition by St. James of "pure religion and undefiled,"
and, above all, the precepts and ideals of the blessed Founder of
Christianity himself, be brought to bear more and more effectively on

I close this preface some days after its first lines were written.
The sun of spring has done its work on the Neva; the great river flows
tranquilly on, a blessing and a joy; the mujiks are forgotten. A. D. W.


April 14,1894.

P.S.--Owing to a wish to give more thorough revision to some parts of my
work, it has been withheld from the press until the present date. A. D.


August 15, 1895.



  I.  The Visible Universe.
  Ancient and medieval views regarding the manner of creation
  Regarding the matter of creation
  Regarding the time of creation
  Regarding the date of creation
  Regarding the Creator
  Regarding light and darkness
  Rise of the conception of an evolution: among the Chaldeans, the
  Hebrews, the Greeks, the Romans
  Its survival through the Middle Ages, despite the disfavour of
  the Church
  Its development in modern times.--The nebular hypothesis and its
  struggle with theology
  The idea of evolution at last victorious
  Our sacred books themselves an illustration of its truth
  The true reconciliation of Science and Theology

  II.  Theological Teachings regarding the Animals and Man.
  Ancient and medieval representations of the creation of man
  Literal acceptance of the book of Genesis by the Christian
  By the Reformers
  By modern theologians, Catholic and Protestant
  Theological reasoning as to the divisions of the animal kingdom
  The Physiologus, the Bestiaries, the Exempila
  Beginnings of sceptical observation
  Development of a scientific method in the study of Nature
  Breaking down of the theological theory of creation

  III.  Theological and Scientific Theories of an Evolution in
  Animated Nature.
  Ideas of evolution among the ancients
  In the early Church
  In the medieval Church
  Development of these ideas from the sixteenth to the eighteenth
  The work of De Maillet
  Of Linneus
  Of Buffon
  Contributions to the theory of evolution at the close of the
  eighteenth century
  The work of Treviranus and Lamarck
  Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and Cuvier
  Development of the theory up to the middle of the nineteenth
  The contributions of Darwin and Wallace
  The opposition of Agassiz

  IV.  The Final Effort of Theology.
  Attacks on Darwin and his theories in England
  In America
  Formation of sacro-scientific organizations to combat the theory
  of evolution
  The attack in France
  In Germany
  Conversion of Lyell to the theory of evolution
  The attack of Darwin's Descent of Man
  Difference between this and the former attack
  Hostility to Darwinism in America
  Change in the tone of the controversy.--Attempts at compromise
  Dying-out of opposition to evolution
  Last outbursts of theological hostility
  Final victory of evolution



  I.  The Form of the Earth.
  Primitive conception of the earth as flat
  In Chaldea and Egypt
  In Persia
  Among the Hebrews
  Evolution, among the Greeks, of the idea of its sphericity
  Opposition of the early Church
  Evolution of a sacred theory, drawn from the Bible
  Its completion by Cosmas Indicopleustes
  Its influence on Christian thought
  Survival of the idea of the earth's sphericity--its acceptance by
  Isidore and Bede
  Its struggle and final victory

  II.  The Delineation of the Earth.
  Belief of every ancient people that its own central place was the
  centre of the earth
  Hebrew conviction that the earth's centre was at Jerusalem
  Acceptance of this view by Christianity
  Influence of other Hebrew conceptions--Gog and Magog, the "four
  winds," the waters "on an heap"

  III.  The Inhabitants of the Earth.
  The idea of antipodes
  Its opposition by the Christian Church--Gregory Nazianzen,
  Lactantius, Basil, Ambrose, Augustine, Procopius of Gaza, Cosmas,
  Virgil of Salzburg's assertion of it in the eighth century
  Its revival by William of Conches and Albert the Great in the
  Surrender of it by Nicolas d'Oresme
  Fate of Peter of Abano and Cecco d' Ascoli
  Timidity of Pierre d'Ailly and Tostatus
  Theological hindrance of Columbus
  Pope Alexander VI's demarcation line
  Cautious conservatism of Gregory Reysch
  Magellan and the victory of science

  IV.  The Size of the Earth.
  Scientific attempts at measuring the earth
  The sacred solution of the problem
  Fortunate influence of the blunder upon Columbus

  V.  The Character of the Earth's Surface.
  Servetus and the charge of denying the fertility of Judea
  Contrast between the theological and the religious spirit in
  their effects on science



  I.  The Old Sacred Theory of the Universe.
  The early Church's conviction of the uselessness of astronomy
  The growth of a sacred theory--Origen, the Gnostics, Philastrius,
  Cosmas, Isidore
  The geocentric, or Ptolemaic, theory, its origin, and its
  acceptance by the Christian world
  Development of the new sacred system of astronomy--the
  pseudo-Dionysius, Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas
  Its popularization by Dante
  Its details
  Its persistence to modern times

  II.  The Heliocentric Theory.
  Its rise among the Greeks--Pythagoras, Philolaus, Aristarchus
  Its suppression by the charge of blasphemy
  Its loss from sight for six hundred Years, then for a thousand
  Its revival by Nicholas de Cusa and Nicholas Copernicus
  Its toleration as a hypothesis
  Its prohibition as soon as Galileo teaches it as a truth
  Consequent timidity of scholars--Acosta, Apian
  Protestantism not less zealous in opposition than
  Catholicism--Luther Melanchthon, Calvin, Turretin
  This opposition especially persistent in England--Hutchinson,
  Pike, Horne, Horsley, Forbes, Owen, Wesley
  Resulting interferences with freedom of teaching
  Giordano Bruno's boldness and his fate
  The truth demonstrated by the telescope of Galileo

  III.  The War upon Galileo.
  Concentration of the war on this new champion
  The first attack
  Fresh attacks--Elci, Busaeus, Caccini, Lorini, Bellarmin
  Use of epithets
  Attempts to entrap Galileo
  His summons before the Inquisition at Rome
  The injunction to silence, and the condemnation of the theory of
  the earth's motion
  The work of Copernicus placed on the Index
  Galileo's seclusion
  Renewed attacks upon Galileo--Inchofer, Fromundus

  IV.  Victory of the Church over Galileo
  Publication of his Dialogo
  Hostility of Pope Urban VIII
  Galileo's second trial by the Inquisition
  His abjuration
  Later persecution of him
  Measures to complete the destruction of the Copernican theory
  Persecution of Galileo's memory
  Protestant hostility to the new astronomy and its champions

  V.  Results of the Victory over Galileo.
  Rejoicings of churchmen over the victory
  The silencing of Descartes
  Persecution of Campanella and of Kepler
  Persistence and victory of science
  Dilemma of the theologians
  Vain attempts to postpone the surrender

  VI.  The Retreat of the Church after its Victory over Galileo.
  The easy path for the Protestant theologians
  The difficulties of the older Church.--The papal infallibility
  fully committed against the Copernican theory
  Attempts at evasion--first plea: that Galileo was condemned not
  for affirming the earth's motion, but for supporting it from
  Its easy refutation
  Second plea: that he was condemned not for heresy, but for
  Folly of this assertion
  Third plea: that it was all a quarrel between Aristotelian
  professors and those favouring the experimental method
  Fourth plea: that the condemnation of Galileo was "provisory"
  Fifth plea: that he was no more a victim of Catholics than of
  Efforts to blacken Galileo's character
  Efforts to suppress the documents of his trial
  Their fruitlessness
  Sixth plea: that the popes as popes had never condemned his
  Its confutation from their own mouths
  Abandonment of the contention by honest Catholics
  Two efforts at compromise--Newman, De Bonald
  Effect of all this on thinking men
  The fault not in Catholicism more than in Protestantism--not in
  religion, but in theology



  I.  The Theological View.
  Early beliefs as to comets, meteors, and eclipses
  Their inheritance by Jews and Christians
  The belief regarding comets especially harmful as a source of
  superstitious terror
  Its transmission through the Middle Ages
  Its culmination under Pope Calixtus III
  Beginnings of scepticism--Copernicus, Paracelsus, Scaliger
  Firmness of theologians, Catholic and Protestant, in its support

  II.  Theological Efforts to crush the Scientific View.
  The effort through the universities.--The effort through the
  Heerbrand at Tubingen and Dieterich at Marburg
  Maestlin at Heidelberg
  Buttner, Vossius, Torreblanca, Fromundus
  Father Augustin de Angelis at Rome
  Reinzer at Linz
  Celichius at Magdeburg
  Conrad Dieterich's sermon at Ulm
  Erni and others in Switzerland
  Comet doggerel
  Echoes from New England--Danforth, Morton, Increase Mather

  III.  The Invasion of Scepticism.
  Rationalism of Cotton Mather, and its cause
  Blaise de Vigenere
  Bekker, Lubienitzky, Pierre Petit
  The scientific movement beneath all this

  IV.  Theological Efforts at Compromise.--The Final Victory of
  The admission that some comets are supralunar
  Difference between scientific and theological reasoning
  Development of the reasoning of Tycho and Kepler--Cassini, Hevel,
  Doerfel, Bernouilli, Newton
  Completion of the victory by Halley and Clairaut
  Survivals of the superstition--Joseph de Maistre, Forster Arago's
  The theories of Whiston and Burnet, and their influence in
  The superstition ended in America by the lectures of Winthrop
  Helpful influence of John Wesley
  Effects of the victory



  I.  Growth of Theological Explanations
  Germs of geological truth among the Greeks and Romans
  Attitude of the Church toward science
  Geological theories of the early theologians
  Attitude of the schoolmen
  Contributions of the Arabian schools
  Theories of the earlier Protestants
  Influence of the revival of learning

  II.  Efforts to Suppress the Scientific View.
  Revival of scientific methods
  Buffon and the Sorbonne
  Beringer's treatise on fossils
  Protestant opposition to the new geology---the works of Burnet,
  Whiston, Wesley, Clark,
  Watson, Arnold, Cockburn, and others

  III.  The First Great Effort of Compromise, based on the Flood of
  The theory that fossils were produced by the Deluge
  Its acceptance by both Catholics and Protestants--Luther, Calmet
  Burnet, Whiston, Woodward, Mazurier, Torrubia, Increase Mather
  Voltaire's theory of fossils
  Vain efforts of enlightened churchmen in behalf of the scientific
  Steady progress of science--the work of Cuvier and Brongniart
  Granvile Penn's opposition
  The defection of Buckland and Lyell to the scientific side
  Surrender of the theologians
  Remnants of the old belief
  Death-blow given to the traditional theory of the Deluge by the
  discovery of the Chaldean accounts
  Results of the theological opposition to science

  IV.  Final Efforts at Compromise--The Victory of Science
  Efforts of Carl von Raumer, Wagner, and others
  The new testimony of the caves and beds of drift as to the
  antiquity of man
  Gosse's effort to save the literal interpretation of Genesis
  Efforts of Continental theologians
  Gladstone's attempt at a compromise
  Its demolition by Huxley
  By Canon Driver
  Dean Stanley on the reconciliation of Science and Scripture



  I.  The Sacred Chronology.
  Two fields in which Science has gained a definite victory over
  Opinions of the Church fathers on the antiquity of man
  The chronology of Isidore
  Of Bede
  Of the medieval Jewish scholars
  The views of the Reformers on the antiquity of man
  Of the Roman Church
  Of Archbishop Usher
  Influence of Egyptology on the belief in man's antiquity
  La Peyrere's theory of the Pre-Adamites
  Opposition in England to the new chronology

  II.  The New Chronology.
  Influence of the new science of Egyptology on biblical chronology

  Manetho's history of Egypt and the new chronology derived from it
  Evidence of the antiquity of man furnished by the monuments of
  By her art
  By her science
  By other elements of civilization
  By the remains found in the bed of the Nile
  Evidence furnished by the study of Assyriology


  I.  The Thunder-stones.
  Early beliefs regarding "thunder-stones"
  Theories of Mercati and Tollius regarding them
  Their identification with the implements of prehistoric man
  Remains of man found in caverns
  Unfavourable influence on scientific activity of the political
  conditions of the early part of the nineteenth century
  Change effected by the French Revolution of to {??}
  Rallying of the reactionary clerical influence against science

  II.  The Flint Weapons and Implements.
  Boucher de Perthes's contributions to the knowledge of
  prehistoric man
  His conclusions confirmed by Lyell and others
  Cave explorations of Lartet and Christy
  Evidence of man's existence furnished by rude carvings
  Cave explorations in the British Islands
  Evidence of man's existence in the Drift period
  In the early Quaternary and in the Tertiary periods



  The two antagonistic views regarding the life of man on the
  The theory of "the Fall" among ancient peoples
  Inheritance of this view by the Christian Church
  Appearance among the Greeks and Romans of the theory of a rise of
  Its disappearance during the Middle Ages
  Its development since the seventeenth century
  The first blow at the doctrine of "the Fall" comes from geology
  Influence of anthropology on the belief in this doctrine
  The finding of human skulls in Quaternary deposits
  Their significance
  Results obtained from the comparative study of the remains of
  human handiwork
  Discovery of human remains in shell-heaps on the shores of the
  Baltic Sea
  In peat-beds
  The lake-dwellers
  Indications of the upward direction of man's development
  Mr. Southall's attack on the theory of man's antiquity
  An answer to it
  Discovery of prehistoric human remains in Egypt
  Hamard's attack on the new scientific conclusions
  The survival of prehistoric implements in religious rites
  Strength of the argument against the theory of "the Fall of Man"



  The beginnings of the science of Comparative Ethnology
  Its testimony to the upward tendency of man from low beginning
  Theological efforts to break its force--De Maistre and DeBonald
  Whately's attempt
  The attempt of the Duke of Argyll
  Evidence of man's upward tendency derived from Comparative
  From Comparative Literature and Folklore
  From Comparative Ethnography
  From Biology



  Proof of progress given by the history of art
  Proofs from general history
  Development of civilization even under unfavourable circumstances
  Advancement even through catastrophes and the decay of
  Progress not confined to man's material condition
  Theological struggle against the new scientific view
  Persecution of Prof. Winchell
  Of Dr. Woodrow
  Other interferences with freedom of teaching
  The great harm thus done to religion
  Rise of a better spirit
  The service rendered to religion by Anthropology



  I.  Growth of a Theological Theory.
  The beliefs of classical antiquity regarding storms, thunder, and
  Development of a sacred science of meteorology by the fathers of
  the Church
  Theories of Cosmas Indicopleustes
  Of Isidore
  Of Seville
  Of Bede
  Of Rabanus Maurus
  Rational views of Honorius of Autun
  Orthodox theories of John of San Geminiano
  Attempt of Albert the Great to reconcile the speculations of
  Aristotle with the theological views
  The monkish encyclopedists
  Theories regarding the rainbow and the causes of storms
  Meteorological phenomena attributed to the Almighty

  II.  Diabolical Agency in Storms.
  Meteorological phenomena attributed to the devil--"the prince of
  the power of the air"
  Propagation of this belief by the medieval theologians
  Its transmission to both Catholics and Protestants--Eck, Luther
  The great work of Delrio
  Guacci's Compendium
  The employment of prayer against "the powers of the air"
  Of exorcisms
  Of fetiches and processions
  Of consecrated church bells

  III.  The Agency of Witches.
  The fearful results of the witch superstition
  Its growth out of the doctrine of evil agency in atmospheric
  Archbishop Agobard's futile attempt to dispel it
  Its sanction by the popes
  Its support by confessions extracted by torture
  Part taken in the persecution by Dominicans and Jesuits
  Opponents of the witch theory--Pomponatius, Paracelsus, Agrippa
  of Nettesheim
  Jean Bodin's defence of the superstition
  Fate of Cornelius Loos
  Of Dietrich Flade
  Efforts of Spee to stem the persecution
  His posthumous influence
  Upholders of the orthodox view--Bishop Binsfeld, Remigius
  Vain protests of Wier
  Persecution of Bekker for opposing the popular belief
  Effect of the Reformation in deepening the superstition
  The persecution in Great Britain and America
  Development of a scientific view of the heavens
  Final efforts to revive the old belief

  IV.  Franklin's Lightning-Rod.
  Franklin's experiments with the kite
  Their effect on the old belief
  Efforts at compromise between the scientific and theological
  Successful use of the lightning-rod
  Religious scruples against it in America
  In England
  In Austria
  In Italy
  Victory of the scientific theory
  This victory exemplified in the case of the church of the
  monastery of Lerins
  In the case of Dr. Moorhouse
  In the case of the Missouri droughts



  I.  The Supremacy of Magic.
  Primitive tendency to belief in magic
  The Greek conception of natural laws
  Influence of Plato and Aristotle on the growth of science
  Effect of the establishment of Christianity on the development of
  the physical sciences
  The revival of thought in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries
  Albert the Great
  Vincent of Beauvais
  Thomas Aquinas
  Roger Bacon's beginning of the experimental method brought to
  The belief that science is futile gives place to the belief that
  it is dangerous
  The two kinds of magic
  Rarity of persecution for magic before the Christian era
  The Christian theory of devils
  Constantine's laws against magic
  Increasing terror of magic and witchcraft
  Papal enactments against them
  Persistence of the belief in magic
  Its effect on the development of science
  Roger Bacon
  Opposition of secular rulers to science
  John Baptist Porta
  The opposition to scientific societies in Italy
  In England
  The effort to turn all thought from science to religion
  The development of mystic theology
  Its harmful influence on science
  Mixture of theological with scientific speculation
  This shown in the case of Melanchthon
  In that of Francis Bacon
  Theological theory of gases
  Growth of a scientific theory
  Basil Valentine and his contributions to chemistry
  Triumph of the scientific theory

  II.  The Triumph of Chemistry and Physics.
  New epoch in chemistry begun by Boyle
  Attitude of the mob toward science
  Effect on science of the reaction following the French
  Revolution:  {?}
  Development of chemistry since the middle of the nineteenth
  Development of physics
  Modern opposition to science in Catholic countries
  Attack of scientific education in France
  In England
  In Prussia
  Revolt against the subordination of education to science
  Effect of the International Exhibition of ii {?} at London
  Of the endowment of State colleges in America by the Morrill
  Act of 1862
  The results to religion



  Naturalness of the idea of supernatural intervention in causing
  and curing disease
  Prevalence of this idea in ancient civilizations
  Beginnings of a scientific theory of medicine
  The twofold influence of Christianity on the healing art

  Growth of legends of miracles about the lives of great
  benefactors of humanity
  Sketch of Xavier's career
  Absence of miraculous accounts in his writings and those of his
  Direct evidence that Xavier wrought no miracles
  Growth of legends of miracles as shown in the early biographies
  of him
  As shown in the canonization proceedings
  Naturalness of these legends

  Character of the testimony regarding miracles
  Connection of mediaeval with pagan miracles
  Their basis of fact
  Various kinds of miraculous cures
  Atmosphere of supernaturalism thrown about all cures
  Influence of this atmosphere on medical science

  Theological theory as to the cause of disease
  Influence of self-interest on "pastoral medicine"
  Development of fetichism at Cologne and elsewhere
  Other developments of fetich cure

  Medieval belief in the unlawfulness of meddling with the bodies
  of the dead
  Dissection objected to on the ground that "the Church abhors the
  shedding of blood"
  The decree of Boniface VIII and its results

  Scanty development of medical science in the Church
  Among Jews and Mohammedans
  Promotion of medical science by various Christian laymen of the
  Middle Ages
  By rare men of science
  By various ecclesiastics

  Opposition to seeking cure from disease by natural means
  Requirement of ecclesiastical advice before undertaking medical
  Charge of magic and Mohammedanism against men of science
  Effect of ecclesiastical opposition to medicine
  The doctrine of signatures
  The doctrine of exorcism
  Theological opposition to surgery
  Development of miracle and fetich cures
  Fashion in pious cures
  Medicinal properties of sacred places
  Theological argument in favour of miraculous cures
  Prejudice against Jewish physicians

  Luther's theory of disease
  The royal touch
  Cures wrought by Charles II
  By James II
  By William III
  By Queen Anne
  By Louis XIV
  Universal acceptance of these miracles

  Occasional encouragement of medical science in the Middle Ages
  New impulse given by the revival of learning and the age of
  Paracelsus and Mundinus
  Vesalius, the founder of the modern science of anatomy.--His
  career and fate

  Theological opposition to inoculation in Europe
  In America
  Theological opposition to vaccination
  Recent hostility to vaccination in England
  In Canada, during the smallpox epidemic
  Theological opposition to the use of cocaine
  To the use of quinine
  Theological opposition to the use of anesthetics

  Changes incorporated in the American Book of Common Prayer
  Effect on the theological view of the growing knowledge of the
  relation between imagination and medicine
  Effect of the discoveries in hypnotism
  In bacteriology
  Relation between ascertained truth and the "ages of faith"



  The recurrence of great pestilences
  Their early ascription to the wrath or malice of unseen powers
  Their real cause want of hygienic precaution
  Theological apotheosis of filth
  Sanction given to the sacred theory of pestilence by Pope Gregory
  the Great
  Modes of propitiating the higher powers
  Modes of thwarting the powers of evil
  Persecution of the Jews as Satan's emissaries
  Persecution of witches as Satan's emissaries
  Case of the Untori at Milan
  New developments of fetichism.--The blood of St. Januarius at
  Appearance of better methods in Italy.--In Spain

  Comparative freedom of England from persecutions for
  plague-bringing, in spite of her wretched sanitary condition
  Aid sought mainly through church services
  Effects of the great fire in London
  The jail fever
  The work of John Howard
  Plagues in the American colonies
  In France.--The great plague at Marseilles
  Persistence of the old methods in Austria
  In Scotland

  Difficulty of reconciling the theological theory of pestilences
  with accumulating facts
  Curious approaches to a right theory
  The law governing the relation of theology to disease
  Recent victories of hygiene in all countries
  In England.---Chadwick and his fellows
  In France

  The process of sanitary science not at the cost of religion
  Illustration from the policy of Napoleon III in France
  Effect of proper sanitation on epidemics in the United States
  Change in the attitude of the Church toward the cause and cure of



  The struggle for the scientific treatment of the insane
  The primitive ascription of insanity to evil spirits
  Better Greek and Roman theories--madness a disease
  The Christian Church accepts the demoniacal theory of insanity
  Yet for a time uses mild methods for the insane
  Growth of the practice of punishing the indwelling demon
  Two sources whence better things might have been hoped.--The
  reasons of their futility
  The growth of exorcism
  Use of whipping and torture
  The part of art and literature in making vivid to the common mind
  the idea of diabolic activity
  The effects of religious processions as a cure for mental disease
  Exorcism of animals possessed of demons
  Belief in the transformation of human beings into animals
  The doctrine of demoniacal possession in the Reformed Church

  Rivalry between Catholics and Protestants in the casting out of
  Increased belief in witchcraft during the period following the
  Increase of insanity during the witch persecutions   II  {?}
  Attitude of physicians toward witchcraft    I
  Religious hallucinations of the insane    I
  Theories as to the modes of diabolic entrance into the possessed
  Influence of monastic life on the development of insanity
  Protests against the theological view of insanity--Wier,
  Montaigue Bekker
  Last struggles of the old superstition

  Influence of French philosophy on the belief in demoniacal
  Reactionary influence of John Wesley
  Progress of scientific ideas in Prussia
  In Austria
  In America
  In South Germany
  General indifference toward the sufferings of madmen
  The beginnings of a more humane treatment
  Jean Baptiste Pinel
  Improvement in the treatment of the insane in England.--William
  The place of Pinel and Tuke in history



  Survival of the belief in diabolic activity as the cause of such
  Epidemics of hysteria in classical times
  In the Middle Ages
  The dancing mania
  Inability of science during the fifteenth century to cope with
  such diseases
  Cases of possession brought within the scope of medical research
  during the sixteenth century
  Dying-out of this form of mental disease in northern Europe
  In Italy
  Epidemics of hysteria in the convents
  The case of Martha Brossier
  Revival in France of belief in diabolic influence
  The Ursulines of Loudun and Urbain Grandier
  Possession among the Huguenots
  In New England.--The Salem witch persecution
  At Paris.--Alleged miracles at the grave of Archdeacon Paris
  In Germany.--Case of Maria Renata Sanger
  More recent outbreaks

  Outbreaks of hysteria in factories and hospitals
  In places of religious excitement
  The case at Morzine
  Similar cases among Protestants and in Africa

  Successful dealings of medical science with mental diseases
  Attempts to give a scientific turn to the theory of diabolic
  agency in disease
  Last great demonstration of the old belief in England
  Final triumph of science in the latter half of the present
  Last echoes of the old belief



  Difference of the history of Comparative Philology from that of
  other sciences as regards the attitude of theologians
  Curiosity of early man regarding the origin, the primitive form,
  and the diversity of language
  The Hebrew answer to these questions
  The legend of the Tower of Babel
  The real reason for the building of towers by the Chaldeans and
  the causes of their ruin
  Other legends of a confusion of tongues
  Influence upon Christendom of the Hebrew legends
  Lucretius's theory of the origin of language
  The teachings of the Church fathers on this subject
  The controversy as to the divine origin of the Hebrew vowel
  Attitude of the reformers toward this question
  Of Catholic scholars.--Marini Capellus and his adversaries
  The treatise of Danzius

  Theological theory that Hebrew was the primitive tongue, divinely
  This theory supported by all Christian scholars until the
  beginning of the eighteenth century
  Dissent of Prideaux and Cotton Mather
  Apparent strength of the sacred theory of language

  Reason for the Church's ready acceptance of the conclusions of
  comparative philology
  Beginnings of a scientific theory of language
  The collections of Catharine the Great, of Hervas, and of Adelung
  Chaotic period in philology between Leibnitz and the beginning of
  the study of Sanskrit
  Illustration from the successive editions of the Encyclopaedia

  Effect of the discovery of Sanskrit on the old theory
  Attempts to discredit the new learning
  General acceptance of the new theory
  Destruction of the belief that all created things were first
  named by Adam
  Of the belief in the divine origin of letters
  Attempts in England to support the old theory of language
  Progress of philological science in France
  In Germany
  In Great Britain
  Recent absurd attempts to prove Hebrew the primitive tongue

  Gradual disappearance of the old theories regarding the origin of
  speech and writing
  Full acceptance of the new theories by all Christian scholars
  The result to religion, and to the Bible


  Growth of myths to account for remarkable appearances in
  Nature--mountains, rocks, curiously marked stones, fossils,
  products of volcanic action
  Myths of the transformation of living beings into natural objects
  Development of the science of Comparative Mythology

  Description of the Dead Sea
  Impression made by its peculiar features on the early dwellers in
  Reasons for selecting the Dead Sea myths for study
  Naturalness of the growth of legend regarding the salt region of
  Universal belief in these legends
  Concurrent testimony of early and mediaeval writers, Jewish and
  Christian, respecting the existence of Lot's wife as a "pillar of
  salt," and of the other wonders of the Dead Sea
  Discrepancies in the various accounts and theological
  explanations of them
  Theological arguments respecting the statue of Lot's wife
  Growth of the legend in the sixteenth century

  Popularization of the older legends at the Reformation
  Growth of new myths among scholars
  Signs of scepticism among travellers near the end of the
  sixteenth century
  Effort of Quaresmio to check this tendency
  Of Eugene Roger
  Of Wedelius
  Influence of these teachings
  Renewed scepticism--the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
  Efforts of Briemle and Masius in support of the old myths
  Their influence
  The travels of Mariti and of Volney
  Influence of scientific thought on the Dead Sea legends during
  the eighteenth century
  Reactionary efforts of Chateaubriand
  Investigations of the naturalist Seetzen
  Of Dr. Robinson
  The expedition of Lieutenant Lynch
  The investigations of De Saulcy
  Of the Duc de Luynes.--Lartet's report
  Summary of the investigations of the nineteenth
  century.--Ritter's verdict

  Attempts to reconcile scientific facts with the Dead Sea legends
  Van de Velde's investigations of the Dead Sea region
  Canon Tristram's
  Mgr.  Mislin's protests against the growing rationalism
  The work of Schaff and Osborn
  Acceptance of the scientific view by leaders in the Church
  Dr. Geikie's ascription of the myths to the Arabs
  Mgr. Haussmann de Wandelburg and his rejection of the scientific
  Service of theologians to religion in accepting the conclusions
  of silence in this field



  Universal belief in the sin of loaning money at interest
  The taking of interest among the Greeks and Romans
  Opposition of leaders of thought, especially Aristotle
  Condemnation of the practice by the Old and New Testaments
  By the Church fathers
  In ecclesiastical and secular legislation
  Exception sometimes made in behalf of the Jews
  Hostility of the pulpit
  Of the canon law
  Evil results of the prohibition of loans at interest
  Efforts to induce the Church to change her position
  Theological evasions of the rule
  Attitude of the Reformers toward the taking of interest
  Struggle in England for recognition of the right to accept
  Invention of a distinction between usury and interest

  Sir Robert Filmer's attack on the old doctrine
  Retreat of the Protestant Church in Holland
  In Germany and America
  Difficulties in the way of compromise in the Catholic Church
  Failure of such attempts in France
  Theoretical condemnation of usury in Italy
  Disregard of all restrictions in practice
  Attempts of Escobar and Liguori to reconcile the taking of
  interest with the teachings of the Church
  Montesquieu's attack on the old theory
  Encyclical of Benedict XIV permitting the taking of interest
  Similar decision of the Inquisition at Rome
  Final retreat of the Catholic Church
  Curious dealings of theology with public economy in other fields



  Character of the great sacred
  books of the world
  General laws governing the development and influence of sacred
  literature.--The law of its origin
  Legends concerning the Septuagint
  The law of wills and causes
  The law of inerrancy
  Hostility to the revision of King James's translation of the
  The law of unity
  Working of these laws seen in the great rabbinical schools
  The law of allegorical interpretation
  Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria
  Occult significance of numbers
  Hilary of Poitiers and Jerome
  Gregory the Great
  Vain attempts to check the flood of allegorical interpretations
  Methods of modern criticism for the first time employed by
  Lorenzo Valla
  Influence of the Reformation on the belief in the infallibility
  of the sacred books.--Luther and Melanchthon
  Development of scholasticism in the Reformed Church
  Catholic belief in the inspiration of the Vulgate
  Opposition in Russia to the revision of the Slavonic Scriptures
  Sir Isaac Newton as a commentator
  Scriptural interpretation at the beginning of the eighteenth

  Theological beliefs regarding the Pentateuch
  The book of Genesis
  Doubt thrown on the sacred theory by Aben Ezra
  By Carlstadt and Maes
  Influence of the discovery that the Isidorian
  Decretals were forgeries
  That the writings ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite were
  Hobbes and La Peyrere
  Progress of biblical criticism in France.--Richard Simon
  Bishop Lowth
  Eichhorn's application of the "higher criticism" to biblical
  Alexander Geddes
  Opposition to the higher criticism in Germany
  Vatke and Reuss

  Progress of the higher criticism in Germany and Holland
  Opposition to it in England
  At the University of Oxford
  Niebuhr and Arnold
  Thirlwall and Grote
  The publication of Essays and Reviews, and the storm raised by

  Colenso's work on the Pentateuch
  The persecution of him
  Bishop Wilberforce's part in it
  Dean Stanley's
  Bishop Thirlwall's
  Results of Colenso's work
  Sanday's Bampton Lectures
  Keble College and Lux
  Progress of biblical criticism among the dissenters
  In France.--Renan
  In the Roman Catholic Church
  The encyclical letter of Pope Leo XIII
  In America.--Theodore Parker
  Apparent strength of the old theory of inspiration
  Real strength of the new movement

  Confirmation of the conclusions of the higher criticism by
  Assyriology and Egyptology
  Light thrown upon Hebrew religion by the translation of the
  sacred books of the East
  The influence of Persian thought.--The work of the Rev. Dr. Mills
  The influence of Indian thought.--Light thrown by the study of
  Brahmanism and Buddhism
  The work of Fathers Huc and Gabet
  Discovery that Buddha himself had been canonized as a Christian
  Similarity between the ideas and legends of Buddhism and those of
  The application of the higher criticism to the New Testament
  The English "Revised Version" of Studies on the formation of the
  canon of Scripture
  Recognition of the laws governing its development
  Change in the spirit of the controversy over the higher criticism

  Development of a scientific atmosphere during the last three
  Action of modern science in reconstruction of religious truth

  Change wrought by it in the conception of a sacred literature

  Of the Divine Power.--Of man.---Of the world at large
  Of our Bible



Among those masses of cathedral sculpture which preserve so much of
medieval theology, one frequently recurring group is noteworthy for
its presentment of a time-honoured doctrine regarding the origin of the

The Almighty, in human form, sits benignly, making the sun, moon, and
stars, and hanging them from the solid firmament which supports the
"heaven above" and overarches the "earth beneath."

The furrows of thought on the Creator's brow show that in this work he
is obliged to contrive; the knotted muscles upon his arms show that he
is obliged to toil; naturally, then, the sculptors and painters of
the medieval and early modern period frequently represented him as the
writers whose conceptions they embodied had done--as, on the seventh
day, weary after thought and toil, enjoying well-earned repose and the
plaudits of the hosts of heaven.

In these thought-fossils of the cathedrals, and in other revelations of
the same idea through sculpture, painting, glass-staining, mosaic work,
and engraving, during the Middle Ages and the two centuries following,
culminated a belief which had been developed through thousands of years,
and which has determined the world's thought until our own time.

Its beginnings lie far back in human history; we find them among the
early records of nearly all the great civilizations, and they hold a
most prominent place in the various sacred books of the world. In nearly
all of them is revealed the conception of a Creator of whom man is an
imperfect image, and who literally and directly created the visible
universe with his hands and fingers.

Among these theories, of especial interest to us are those which
controlled theological thought in Chaldea. The Assyrian inscriptions
which have been recently recovered and given to the English-speaking
peoples by Layard, George Smith, Sayce, and others, show that in the
ancient religions of Chaldea and Babylonia there was elaborated a
narrative of the creation which, in its most important features, must
have been the source of that in our own sacred books. It has now become
perfectly clear that from the same sources which inspired the accounts
of the creation of the universe among the Chaldeo-Babylonian, the
Assyrian, the Phoenician, and other ancient civilizations came the ideas
which hold so prominent a place in the sacred books of the Hebrews. In
the two accounts imperfectly fused together in Genesis, and also in
the account of which we have indications in the book of Job and in the
Proverbs, there, is presented, often with the greatest sublimity,
the same early conception of the Creator and of the creation--the
conception, so natural in the childhood of civilization, of a Creator
who is an enlarged human being working literally with his own hands,
and of a creation which is "the work of his fingers." To supplement this
view there was developed the belief in this Creator as one who, having

... "from his ample palm Launched forth the rolling planets into space."

sits on high, enthroned "upon the circle of the heavens," perpetually
controlling and directing them.

From this idea of creation was evolved in time a somewhat nobler view.
Ancient thinkers, and especially, as is now found, in Egypt, suggested
that the main agency in creation was not the hands and fingers of the
Creator, but his VOICE. Hence was mingled with the earlier, cruder
belief regarding the origin of the earth and heavenly bodies by
the Almighty the more impressive idea that "he spake and they were
made"--that they were brought into existence by his WORD.(1)

     (1) Among the many mediaeval representations of the creation of the
universe, I especially recall from personal observation those sculptured
above the portals of the cathedrals of Freiburg and Upsala, the
paintings on the walls of the Campo Santo at Pisa, and most striking of
all, the mosaics of the Cathedral of Monreale and those in the Capella
Palatina at Palermo. Among peculiarities showing the simplicity of the
earlier conception the representation of the response of the Almighty
on the seventh day is very striking. He is shown as seated in almost the
exact attitude of the "Weary Mercury" of classic sculpture--bent, and
with a very marked expression of fatigue upon his countenance and in the
whole disposition of his body.

The Monreale mosaics are pictured in the great work of Gravina, and in
the Pisa frescoes in Didron's Iconographie, Paris, 1843, p. 598. For
an exact statement of the resemblances which have settled the question
among the most eminent scholars in favour of the derivation of the
Hebrew cosmogony from that of Assyria, see Jensen, Die Kosmologie
der Babylonier, Strassburg, 1890, pp. 304,306; also Franz Lukas, Die
Grundbegriffe in den Kosmographien der alten Volker, Leipsic, 1893,
pp. 35-46; also George Smith's Chaldean Genesis, especially the German
translation with additions by Delitzsch, Leipsic, 1876, and Schrader,
Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament, Giessen, 1883, pp. 1-54,
etc. See also Renan, Histoire du peuple d'Israel, vol. i, chap i,
L'antique influence babylonienne. For Egyptian views regarding creation,
and especially for the transition from the idea of creation by the hands
and fingers of the Creator to creation by his VOICE and his "word," see
Maspero and Sayce, The Dawn of Civilization, pp. 145-146.

Among the early fathers of the Church this general view of creation
became fundamental; they impressed upon Christendom more and more
strongly the belief that the universe was created in a perfectly literal
sense by the hands or voice of God. Here and there sundry theologians of
larger mind attempted to give a more spiritual view regarding some parts
of the creative work, and of these were St. Gregory of Nyssa and St.
Augustine. Ready as they were to accept the literal text of Scripture,
they revolted against the conception of an actual creation of the
universe by the hands and fingers of a Supreme Being, and in this
they were followed by Bede and a few others; but the more material
conceptions prevailed, and we find these taking shape not only in the
sculptures and mosaics and stained glass of cathedrals, and in the
illuminations of missals and psalters, but later, at the close of the
Middle Ages, in the pictured Bibles and in general literature.

Into the Anglo-Saxon mind this ancient material conception of the
creation was riveted by two poets whose works appealed especially to the
deeper religious feelings. In the seventh century Caedmon paraphrased
the account given in Genesis, bringing out this material conception in
the most literal form; and a thousand years later Milton developed out
of the various statements in the Old Testament, mingled with a theology
regarding "the creative Word" which had been drawn from the New, his
description of the creation by the second person in the Trinity, than
which nothing could be more literal and material:

     "He took the golden compasses, prepared
     In God's eternal store, to circumscribe
     This universe and all created things.
     One foot he centred, and the other turned
     Round through the vast profundity obscure,
     And said, 'Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds:
     This be thy just circumference, O world!'"(2)

     (2) For Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, and the general subject of the
development of an evolution theory among the Greeks, see the excellent
work by Dr. Osborn, From the Greeks to Darwin, pp.33 and following; for
Caedmon, see any edition--I have used Bouterwek's, Gutersloh, 1854; for
Milton, see Paradise Lost, book vii, lines 225-231.

So much for the orthodox view of the MANNER of creation.

The next point developed in this theologic evolution had reference to
the MATTER of which the universe was made, and it was decided by an
overwhelming majority that no material substance existed before the
creation of the material universe--that "God created everything out of
nothing." Some venturesome thinkers, basing their reasoning upon the
first verses of Genesis, hinted at a different view--namely, that the
mass, "without form and void," existed before the universe; but this
doctrine was soon swept out of sight. The vast majority of the fathers
were explicit on this point. Tertullian especially was very severe
against those who took any other view than that generally accepted as
orthodox: he declared that, if there had been any pre-existing matter
out of which the world was formed, Scripture would have mentioned it;
that by not mentioning it God has given us a clear proof that there
was no such thing; and, after a manner not unknown in other theological
controversies, he threatens Hermogenes, who takes the opposite view,
with the woe which impends on all who add to or take away from the
written word.

St. Augustine, who showed signs of a belief in a pre-existence of
matter, made his peace with the prevailing belief by the simple
reasoning that, "although the world has been made of some material, that
very same material must have been made out of nothing."

In the wake of these great men the universal Church steadily followed.
The Fourth Lateran Council declared that God created everything out
of nothing; and at the present hour the vast majority of the
faithful--whether Catholic or Protestant--are taught the same doctrine;
on this point the syllabus of Pius IX and the Westminster Catechism
fully agree.(3)

     (3) For Tertullian, see Tertullian against Hermogenes, chaps. xx and
xxii; for St. Augustine regarding "creation from nothing," see the De
Genesi contra Manichaeos, lib, i, cap. vi; for St. Ambrose, see the
Hexameron, lib, i, cap iv; for the decree of the Fourth Lateran Council,
and the view received in the Church to-day, see the article Creation in
Addis and Arnold's Catholic Dictionary.

Having thus disposed of the manner and matter of creation, the next
subject taken up by theologians was the TIME required for the great

Here came a difficulty. The first of the two accounts given in Genesis
extended the creative operation through six days, each of an evening
and a morning, with much explicit detail regarding the progress made in
each. But the second account spoke of "THE DAY" in which "the Lord God
made the earth and the heavens." The explicitness of the first account
and its naturalness to the minds of the great mass of early theologians
gave it at first a decided advantage; but Jewish thinkers, like Philo,
and Christian thinkers, like Origen, forming higher conceptions of
the Creator and his work, were not content with this, and by them was
launched upon the troubled sea of Christian theology the idea that the
creation was instantaneous, this idea being strengthened not only by the
second of the Genesis legends, but by the great text, "He spake, and
it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast"--or, as it appears in
the Vulgate and in most translations, "He spake, and they were made; he
commanded, and they were created."

As a result, it began to be held that the safe and proper course was to
believe literally BOTH statements; that in some mysterious manner God
created the universe in six days, and yet brought it all into existence
in a moment. In spite of the outcries of sundry great theologians,
like Ephrem Syrus, that the universe was created in exactly six days of
twenty-four hours each, this compromise was promoted by St. Athanasius
and St. Basil in the East, and by St. Augustine and St. Hilary in the

Serious difficulties were found in reconciling these two views, which
to the natural mind seem absolutely contradictory; but by ingenious
manipulation of texts, by dexterous play upon phrases, and by the
abundant use of metaphysics to dissolve away facts, a reconciliation
was effected, and men came at least to believe that they believed in
a creation of the universe instantaneous and at the same time extended
through six days.(4)

     (4) For Origen, see his Contra Celsum, cap xxxvi, xxxvii; also his
De Principibus, cap. v; for St. Augustine, see his De Genesi conta
Manichaeos and De Genesi ad Litteram, passim; for Athanasius, see his
Discourses against the Arians, ii, 48,49.

Some of the efforts to reconcile these two accounts were so fruitful as
to deserve especial record. The fathers, Eastern and Western, developed
out of the double account in Genesis, and the indications in the Psalms,
the Proverbs, and the book of Job, a vast mass of sacred science bearing
upon this point. As regards the whole work of creation, stress was laid
upon certain occult powers in numerals. Philo Judaeus, while believing
in an instantaneous creation, had also declared that the world was
created in six days because "of all numbers six is the most productive";
he had explained the creation of the heavenly bodies on the fourth day
by "the harmony of the number four"; of the animals on the fifth day
by the five senses; of man on the sixth day by the same virtues in the
number six which had caused it to be set as a limit to the creative
work; and, greatest of all, the rest on the seventh day by the vast mass
of mysterious virtues in the number seven.

St. Jerome held that the reason why God did not pronounce the work of
the second day "good" is to be found in the fact that there is something
essentially evil in the number two, and this was echoed centuries
afterward, afar off in Britain, by Bede.

St. Augustine brought this view to bear upon the Church in the following
statement: "There are three classes of numbers--the more than perfect,
the perfect, and the less than perfect, according as the sum of them
is greater than, equal to, or less than the original number. Six is the
first perfect number: wherefore we must not say that six is a perfect
number because God finished all his works in six days, but that God
finished all his works in six days because six is a perfect number."

Reasoning of this sort echoed along through the mediaeval Church until
a year after the discovery of America, when the Nuremberg Chronicle
re-echoed it as follows: "The creation of things is explained by the
number six, the parts of which, one, two, and three, assume the form of
a triangle."

This view of the creation of the universe as instantaneous and also as
in six days, each made up of an evening and a morning, became virtually
universal. Peter Lombard and Hugo of St. Victor, authorities of vast
weight, gave it their sanction in the twelfth century, and impressed it
for ages upon the mind of the Church.

Both these lines of speculation--as to the creation of everything out
of nothing, and the reconciling of the instantaneous creation of the
universe with its creation in six days--were still further developed by
other great thinkers of the Middle Ages.

St. Hilary of Poictiers reconciled the two conceptions as follows: "For,
although according to Moses there is an appearance of regular order
in the fixing of the firmament, the laying bare of the dry land, the
gathering together of the waters, the formation of the heavenly bodies,
and the arising of living things from land and water, yet the creation
of the heavens, earth, and other elements is seen to be the work of a
single moment."

St. Thomas Aquinas drew from St. Augustine a subtle distinction which
for ages eased the difficulties in the case: he taught in effect that
God created the substance of things in a moment, but gave to the work of
separating, shaping, and adorning this creation, six days.(5)

     (5) For Philo Judaeus, see his Creation of the World, chap. iii; for
St. Augustine on the powers of numbers in creation, see his De Genesi ad
Litteram iv, chap. ii; for Peter Lombard, see the Sententiae, lib. ii,
dist. xv, 5; and for Hugo of St. Victor, see De Sacrementis, lib i, pars
i; also, Annotat, Elucidat in Pentateuchum, cap. v, vi, vii; for St.
Hilary, see De Trinitate, lib. xii; for St. Thomas Aquinas, see his
Summa Theologica, quest lxxxiv, arts. i and ii; the passage in the
Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493, is in fol. iii; for Vousset, see his Discours
sur l'Histoire Universelle; for the sacredness of the number seven among
the Babylonians, see especially Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das
Alte Testament, pp. 21,22; also George Smith et al.; for general ideas
on the occult powers of various numbers, especially the number seven,
and the influence of these ideas on theology and science, see my chapter
on astronomy. As to medieaval ideas on the same subject, see Detzel,
Christliche Ikonographie, Frieburg, 1894, pp. 44 and following.

The early reformers accepted and developed the same view, and Luther
especially showed himself equal to the occasion. With his usual boldness
he declared, first, that Moses "spoke properly and plainly, and neither
allegorically nor figuratively," and that therefore "the world with all
creatures was created in six days." And he then goes on to show how, by
a great miracle, the whole creation was also instantaneous.

Melanchthon also insisted that the universe was created out of nothing
and in a mysterious way, both in an instant and in six days, citing the
text: "He spake, and they were made."

Calvin opposed the idea of an instantaneous creation, and laid especial
stress on the creation in six days: having called attention to the
fact that the biblical chronology shows the world to be not quite
six thousand years old and that it is now near its end, he says that
"creation was extended through six days that it might not be tedious for
us to occupy the whole of life in the consideration of it."

Peter Martyr clinched the matter by declaring: "So important is it to
comprehend the work of creation that we see the creed of the Church take
this as its starting point. Were this article taken away there would be
no original sin, the promise of Christ would become void, and all the
vital force of our religion would be destroyed." The Westminster divines
in drawing up their Confession of Faith specially laid it down as
necessary to believe that all things visible and invisible were created
not only out of nothing but in exactly six days.

Nor were the Roman divines less strenuous than the Protestant reformers
regarding the necessity of holding closely to the so-called Mosaic
account of creation. As late as the middle of the eighteenth century,
when Buffon attempted to state simple geological truths, the theological
faculty of the Sorbonne forced him to make and to publish a most
ignominious recantation which ended with these words: "I abandon
everything in my book respecting the formation of the earth, and
generally all which may be contrary to the narrative of Moses."

Theologians, having thus settled the manner of the creation, the matter
used in it, and the time required for it, now exerted themselves to fix
its DATE.

The long series of efforts by the greatest minds in the Church, from
Eusebius to Archbishop Usher, to settle this point are presented in
another chapter. Suffice it here that the general conclusion arrived
at by an overwhelming majority of the most competent students of the
biblical accounts was that the date of creation was, in round numbers,
four thousand years before our era; and in the seventeenth century, in
his great work, Dr. John Lightfoot, Vice-Chancellor of the University
of Cambridge, and one of the most eminent Hebrew scholars of his time,
declared, as the result of his most profound and exhaustive study of
the Scriptures, that "heaven and earth, centre and circumference, were
created all together, in the same instant, and clouds full of water,"
and that "this work took place and man was created by the Trinity on
October 23, 4004 B. C., at nine o'clock in the morning."

Here was, indeed, a triumph of Lactantius's method, the result of
hundreds of years of biblical study and theological thought since Bede
in the eighth century, and Vincent of Beauvais in the thirteenth, had
declared that creation must have taken place in the spring. Yet, alas!
within two centuries after Lightfoot's great biblical demonstration as
to the exact hour of creation, it was discovered that at that hour
an exceedingly cultivated people, enjoying all the fruits of a highly
developed civilization, had long been swarming in the great cities of
Egypt, and that other nations hardly less advanced had at that time
reached a high development in Asia.(6)

     (6) For Luther, see his Commentary on Genesis, 1545, introduction,
and his comments on chap. i, verse 12; the quotations from Luther's
commentary are taken mainly from the translation by Henry Cole, D.D.,
Edinburgh, 1858; for Melanchthon, see Loci Theologici, in Melanchthon,
Opera, ed. Bretschneider, vol. xxi, pp. 269, 270, also pp. 637, 638--in
quoting the text (Ps. xxiii, 9) I have used, as does Melanchthon
himself, the form of the Vulgate; for the citations from Calvin, see his
Commentary on Genesis (Opera omnia, Amsterdam, 1671, tom. i, cap. ii, p.
8); also in the Institutes, Allen's translation, London, 1838, vol.
i, chap. xv, pp. 126,127; for the Peter Martyr, see his Commentary
on Genesis, cited by Zockler, vol. i, p. 690; for articles in the
Westminster Confession of Faith, see chap. iv; for Buffon's recantation,
see Lyell, Principles of Geology, chap iii, p. 57. For Lightfoot's
declaration, see his works, edited by Pitman, London, 1822.

But, strange as it may seem, even after theologians had thus settled the
manner of creation, the matter employed in it, the time required for it,
and the exact date of it, there remained virtually unsettled the
first and greatest question of all; and this was nothing less than the
question, WHO actually created the universe?

Various theories more or less nebulous, but all centred in texts of
Scripture, had swept through the mind of the Church. By some theologians
it was held virtually that the actual creative agent was the third
person of the Trinity, who, in the opening words of our sublime creation
poem, "moved upon the face of the waters." By others it was held that
the actual Creator was the second person of the Trinity, in behalf of
whose agency many texts were cited from the New Testament. Others held
that the actual Creator was the first person, and this view was embodied
in the two great formulas known as the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds,
which explicitly assigned the work to "God the Father Almighty, Maker of
heaven and earth." Others, finding a deep meaning in the words "Let US
make," ascribed in Genesis to the Creator, held that the entire Trinity
directly created all things; and still others, by curious metaphysical
processes, seemed to arrive at the idea that peculiar combinations of
two persons of the Trinity achieved the creation.

In all this there would seem to be considerable courage in view of the
fearful condemnations launched in the Athanasian Creed against all who
should "confound the persons" or "divide the substance of the Trinity."

These various stages in the evolution of scholastic theology were
also embodied in sacred art, and especially in cathedral sculpture, in
glass-staining, in mosaic working, and in missal painting.

The creative Being is thus represented sometimes as the third person of
the Trinity, in the form of a dove brooding over chaos; sometimes as the
second person, and therefore a youth; sometimes as the first person,
and therefore fatherly and venerable; sometimes as the first and second
persons, one being venerable and the other youthful; and sometimes
as three persons, one venerable and one youthful, both wearing papal
crowns, and each holding in his lips a tip of the wing of the dove,
which thus seems to proceed from both and to be suspended between them.

Nor was this the most complete development of the medieval idea. The
Creator was sometimes represented with a single body, but with three
faces, thus showing that Christian belief had in some pious minds gone
through substantially the same cycle which an earlier form of belief had
made ages before in India, when the Supreme Being was represented with
one body but with the three faces of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva.

But at the beginning of the modern period the older view in its
primitive Jewish form was impressed upon Christians by the most mighty
genius in art the world has known; for in 1512, after four years of
Titanic labour, Michael Angelo uncovered his frescoes within the vault
of the Sistine Chapel.

They had been executed by the command and under the sanction of the
ruling Pope, Julius II, to represent the conception of Christian
theology then dominant, and they remain to-day in all their majesty
to show the highest point ever attained by the older thought upon the
origin of the visible universe.

In the midst of the expanse of heaven the Almighty Father--the first
person of the Trinity--in human form, august and venerable, attended by
angels and upborne by mighty winds, sweeps over the abyss, and, moving
through successive compartments of the great vault, accomplishes the
work of the creative days. With a simple gesture he divides the light
from the darkness, rears on high the solid firmament, gathers together
beneath it the seas, or summons into existence the sun, moon, and
planets, and sets them circling about the earth.

In this sublime work culminated the thought of thousands of years; the
strongest minds accepted it or pretended to accept it, and nearly two
centuries later this conception, in accordance with the first of the
two accounts given in Genesis, was especially enforced by Bossuet,
and received a new lease of life in the Church, both Catholic and

     (7) For strange representations of the Creator and of the creation by
one, two, or three persons of the Trinity, see Didron, Iconographie
Chretienne, pp. 35, 178, 224, 483, 567-580, and elsewhere; also Detzel
as already cited. The most naive of all survivals of the mediaeval idea
of creation which the present writer has ever seen was exhibited in
1894 on the banner of one of the guilds at the celebration of the
four-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Munich Cathedral.
Jesus of Nazareth, as a beautiful boy and with a nimbus encircling his
head, was shown turning and shaping the globe on a lathe, which he keeps
in motion with his foot. The emblems of the Passion are about him,
God the Father looking approvingly upon him from a cloud, and the dove
hovering between the two. The date upon the banner was 1727.

But to these discussions was added yet another, which, beginning in the
early days of the Church, was handed down the ages until it had died out
among the theologians of our own time.

In the first of the biblical accounts light is created and the
distinction between day and night thereby made on the first day,
while the sun and moon are not created until the fourth day. Masses of
profound theological and pseudo-scientific reasoning have been developed
to account for this--masses so great that for ages they have obscured
the simple fact that the original text is a precious revelation to us of
one of the most ancient of recorded beliefs--the belief that light and
darkness are entities independent of the heavenly bodies, and that the
sun, moon, and stars exist not merely to increase light but to "divide
the day from the night, to be for signs and for seasons, and for days
and for years," and "to rule the day and the night."

Of this belief we find survivals among the early fathers, and especially
in St. Ambrose. In his work on creation he tells us: "We must remember
that the light of day is one thing and the light of the sun, moon,
and stars another--the sun by his rays appearing to add lustre to
the daylight. For before sunrise the day dawns, but is not in full
refulgence, for the sun adds still further to its splendour." This
idea became one of the "treasures of sacred knowledge committed to the
Church," and was faithfully received by the Middle Ages. The medieval
mysteries and miracle plays give curious evidences of this: In a
performance of the creation, when God separates light from darkness, the
stage direction is, "Now a painted cloth is to be exhibited, one half
black and the other half white." It was also given more permanent form.
In the mosaics of San Marco at Venice, in the frescoes of the Baptistery
at Florence and of the Church of St. Francis at Assisi, and in the altar
carving at Salerno, we find a striking realization of it--the Creator
placing in the heavens two disks or living figures of equal size, each
suitably coloured or inscribed to show that one represents light and the
other darkness. This conception was without doubt that of the person or
persons who compiled from the Chaldean and other earlier statements the
accounts of the creation in the first of our sacred books.(8)

     (8) For scriptural indications of the independent existence of light and
darkness, compare with the first verses of the chapter of Genesis such
passages as Job xxxviii, 19,24; for the general prevalence of this early
view, see Lukas, Kosmogonie, pp. 31, 33, 41, 74, and passim; for the
view of St. Ambrose regarding the creation of light and of the sun, see
his Hexameron, lib. 4, cap. iii; for an excellent general statement,
see Huxley, Mr. Gladstone and Genesis, in the Nineteenth Century, 1886,
reprinted in his Essays on Controverted Questions, London, 1892,
note, pp. 126 et seq.; for the acceptance in the miracle plays of the
scriptural idea of light and darkness as independent creations, see
Wright, Essays on Archeological Subjects, vol. ii, p.178; for an
account, with illustrations, of the mosaics, etc., representing this
idea, see Tikkanen, Die Genesis-mosaiken von San Marco, Helsingfors,
1889, p. 14 and 16 of the text and Plates I and II. Very naively the
Salerno carver, not wishing to colour the ivory which he wrought, has
inscribed on one disk the word "LUX" and on the other "NOX." See also
Didron, Iconographie, p. 482.

Thus, down to a period almost within living memory, it was held,
virtually "always, everywhere, and by all," that the universe, as we now
see it, was created literally and directly by the voice or hands of the
Almighty, or by both--out of nothing--in an instant or in six days, or
in both--about four thousand years before the Christian era--and for the
convenience of the dwellers upon the earth, which was at the base and
foundation of the whole structure.

But there had been implanted along through the ages germs of another
growth in human thinking, some of them even as early as the
Babylonian period. In the Assyrian inscriptions we find recorded the
Chaldeo-Babylonian idea of AN EVOLUTION of the universe out of the
primeval flood or "great deep," and of the animal creation out of the
earth and sea. This idea, recast, partially at least, into monotheistic
form, passed naturally into the sacred books of the neighbours and
pupils of the Chaldeans--the Hebrews; but its growth in Christendom
afterward was checked, as we shall hereafter find, by the more powerful
influence of other inherited statements which appealed more intelligibly
to the mind of the Church.

Striking, also, was the effect of this idea as rewrought by the early
Ionian philosophers, to whom it was probably transmitted from the
Chaldeans through the Phoenicians. In the minds of Ionians like
Anaximander and Anaximenes it was most clearly developed: the first of
these conceiving of the visible universe as the result of processes of
evolution, and the latter pressing further the same mode of reasoning,
and dwelling on agencies in cosmic development recognised in modern

This general idea of evolution in Nature thus took strong hold upon
Greek thought and was developed in many ways, some ingenious, some
perverse. Plato, indeed, withstood it; but Aristotle sometimes developed
it in a manner which reminds us of modern views.

Among the Romans Lucretius caught much from it, extending the
evolutionary process virtually to all things.

In the early Church, as we have seen, the idea of a creation direct,
material, and by means like those used by man, was all-powerful for the
exclusion of conceptions based on evolution. From the more simple and
crude of the views of creation given in the Babylonian legends, and
thence incorporated into Genesis, rose the stream of orthodox thought
on the subject, which grew into a flood and swept on through the Middle
Ages and into modern times. Yet here and there in the midst of this
flood were high grounds of thought held by strong men. Scotus Erigena
and Duns Scotus, among the schoolmen, bewildered though they were,
had caught some rays of this ancient light, and passed on to their
successors, in modified form, doctrines of an evolutionary process in
the universe.

In the latter half of the sixteenth century these evolutionary theories
seemed to take more definite form in the mind of Giordano Bruno, who
evidently divined the fundamental idea of what is now known as the
"nebular hypothesis"; but with his murder by the Inquisition at Rome
this idea seemed utterly to disappear--dissipated by the flames which in
1600 consumed his body on the Campo dei Fiori.

Yet within the two centuries divided by Bruno's death the world was led
into a new realm of thought in which an evolution theory of the visible
universe was sure to be rapidly developed. For there came, one after
the other, five of the greatest men our race has produced--Copernicus,
Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton--and when their work was done
the old theological conception of the universe was gone. "The spacious
firmament on high"--"the crystalline spheres"--the Almighty enthroned
upon "the circle of the heavens," and with his own lands, or with angels
as his agents, keeping sun, moon, and planets in motion for the benefit
of the earth, opening and closing the "windows of heaven," letting down
upon the earth the "waters above the firmament," "setting his bow in the
cloud," hanging out "signs and wonders," hurling comets, "casting forth
lightnings" to scare the wicked, and "shaking the earth" in his wrath:
all this had disappeared.

These five men had given a new divine revelation to the world; and
through the last, Newton, had come a vast new conception, destined to
be fatal to the old theory of creation, for he had shown throughout the
universe, in place of almighty caprice, all-pervading law. The bitter
opposition of theology to the first four of these men is well known;
but the fact is not so widely known that Newton, in spite of his deeply
religious spirit, was also strongly opposed. It was vigorously urged
against him that by his statement of the law of gravitation he "took
from God that direct action on his works so constantly ascribed to him
in Scripture and transferred it to material mechanism," and that he
"substituted gravitation for Providence."

But, more than this, these men gave a new basis for the theory of
evolution as distinguished from the theory of creation.

Especially worthy of note is it that the great work of Descartes,
erroneous as many of its deductions were, and, in view of the lack of
physical knowledge in his time, must be, had done much to weaken the
old conception. His theory of a universe brought out of all-pervading
matter, wrought into orderly arrangement by movements in accordance with
physical laws--though it was but a provisional hypothesis--had done much
to draw men's minds from the old theological view of creation; it was an
example of intellectual honesty arriving at errors, but thereby aiding
the advent of truths. Crippled though Descartes was by his almost
morbid fear of the Church, this part of his work was no small factor
in bringing in that attitude of mind which led to a reception of the
thoughts of more unfettered thinkers.

Thirty years later came, in England, an effort of a different sort, but
with a similar result. In 1678 Ralph Cudworth published his Intellectual
System of the Universe. To this day he remains, in breadth of
scholarship, in strength of thought, in tolerance, and in honesty, one
of the greatest glories of the English Church, and his work was
worthy of him. He purposed to build a fortress which should protect
Christianity against all dangerous theories of the universe, ancient
or modern. The foundations of the structure were laid with old thoughts
thrown often into new and striking forms; but, as the superstructure
arose more and more into view, while genius marked every part of it,
features appeared which gave the rigidly orthodox serious misgivings.
From the old theories of direct personal action on the universe by the
Almighty he broke utterly. He dwelt on the action of law, rejected the
continuous exercise of miraculous intervention, pointed out the fact
that in the natural world there are "errors" and "bungles," and argued
vigorously in favour of the origin and maintenance of the universe as
a slow and gradual development of Nature in obedience to an inward
principle. The Balaks of seventeenth-century orthodoxy might well
condemn this honest Balaam.

Toward the end of the next century a still more profound genius,
Immanuel Kant, presented the nebular theory, giving it, in the light of
Newton's great utterances, a consistency which it never before had; and
about the same time Laplace gave it yet greater strength by mathematical
reasonings of wonderful power and extent, thus implanting firmly in
modern thought the idea that our own solar system and others--suns,
planets, satellites, and their various movements, distances, and
magnitudes--necessarily result from the obedience of nebulous masses to
natural laws.

Throughout the theological world there was an outcry at once against
"atheism," and war raged fiercely. Herschel and others pointed out
many nebulous patches apparently gaseous. They showed by physical and
mathematical demonstrations that the hypothesis accounted for the great
body of facts, and, despite clamour, were gaining ground, when the
improved telescopes resolved some of the patches of nebulous matter
into multitudes of stars. The opponents of the nebular hypothesis were
overjoyed; they now sang paeans to astronomy, because, as they said,
it had proved the truth of Scripture. They had jumped to the conclusion
that all nebula must be alike; that, if SOME are made up of systems of
stars, ALL must be so made up; that none can be masses of attenuated
gaseous matter, because some are not.

Science halted for a time. The accepted doctrine became this: that the
only reason why all the nebula are not resolved into distinct stars is
that our telescopes are not sufficiently powerful. But in time came
the discovery of the spectroscope and spectrum analysis, and thence
Fraunhofer's discovery that the spectrum of an ignited gaseous body is
non-continuous, with interrupting lines; and Draper's discovery that the
spectrum of an ignited solid is continuous, with no interrupting lines.
And now the spectroscope was turned upon the nebula, and many of them
were found to be gaseous. Here, then, was ground for the inference
that in these nebulous masses at different stages of condensation--some
apparently mere pitches of mist, some with luminous centres--we have the
process of development actually going on, and observations like those of
Lord Rosse and Arrest gave yet further confirmation to this view. Then
came the great contribution of the nineteenth century to physics, aiding
to explain important parts of the vast process by the mechanical theory
of heat.

Again the nebular hypothesis came forth stronger than ever, and about
1850 the beautiful experiment of Plateau on the rotation of a fluid
globe came in apparently to illustrate if not to confirm it. Even so
determined a defender of orthodoxy as Mr. Gladstone at last acknowledged
some form of a nebular hypothesis as probably true.

Here, too, was exhibited that form of surrendering theological views
to science under the claim that science concurs with theology, which we
have seen in so many other fields; and, as typical, an example may
be given, which, however restricted in its scope, throws light on the
process by which such surrenders are obtained. A few years since one of
the most noted professors of chemistry in the city of New York, under
the auspices of one of its most fashionable churches, gave a lecture
which, as was claimed in the public prints and in placards posted in the
streets, was to show that science supports the theory of creation given
in the sacred books ascribed to Moses. A large audience assembled, and
a brilliant series of elementary experiments with oxygen, hydrogen,
and carbonic acid was concluded by the Plateau demonstration. It was
beautifully made. As the coloured globule of oil, representing the
earth, was revolved in a transparent medium of equal density, as it
became flattened at the poles, as rings then broke forth from it and
revolved about it, and, finally, as some of these rings broke into
satellites, which for a moment continued to circle about the central
mass, the audience, as well they might, rose and burst into rapturous

Thereupon a well-to-do citizen arose and moved the thanks of the
audience to the eminent professor for "this perfect demonstration of the
exact and literal conformity of the statements given in Holy Scripture
with the latest results of science." The motion was carried unanimously
and with applause, and the audience dispersed, feeling that a great
service had been rendered to orthodoxy. Sancta simplicitas!

What this incident exhibited on a small scale has been seen elsewhere
with more distinguished actors and on a broader stage. Scores of
theologians, chief among whom of late, in zeal if not in knowledge, has
been Mr. Gladstone, have endeavoured to "reconcile" the two accounts in
Genesis with each other and with the truths regarding the origin of
the universe gained by astronomy, geology, geography, physics, and
chemistry. The result has been recently stated by an eminent theologian,
the Hulsean Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge.
He declares, "No attempt at reconciling genesis with the exacting
requirements of modern sciences has ever been known to succeed without
entailing a degree of special pleading or forced interpretation to
which, in such a question, we should be wise to have no recourse."(9)

     (9) For an interesting reference to the outcry against Newton, see
McCosh, The Religious Aspect of Evolution, New York, 1890, pp. 103,
104; for germs of an evolutionary view among the Babylonians, see George
Smith, Chaldean Account of Genesis, New York, 1876, pp. 74, 75; for a
germ of the same thought in Lucretius, see his De Natura Rerum, lib.
v, pp.187-194, 447-454; for Bruno's conjecture (in 1591), see Jevons,
Principles of Science, London, 1874, vol. ii, p. 36; for Kant's
statement, see his Naturgeschichte des Himmels; for his part in the
nebular hypothesis, see Lange, Geschichte des Materialismus, vol. i,
p.266; for the value of Plateau's beautiful experiment, very cautiously
estimated, see Jevons, vol. ii, p. 36; also Elisee Reclus, The Earth,
translated by Woodward, vol. i, pp. 14-18, for an estimate still more
careful; for a general account of discoveries of the nature of nebulae
by spectroscope, see Draper, Conflict between Religion and Science; for
a careful discussion regarding the spectra of solid, liquid, and gaseous
bodies, see Schellen, Spectrum Analysis, pp. 100 et seq.; for a very
thorough discussion of the bearings of discoveries made by spectrum
analysis upon the nebular hypothesis, ibid., pp. 532-537; for a
presentation of the difficulties yet unsolved, see an article by Plummer
in the London Popular Science Review for January, 1875; for an excellent
short summary of recent observations and thoughts on this subject, see
T. Sterry Hunt, Address at the Priestley Centennial, pp. 7, 8; for an
interesting modification of this hypothesis, see Proctor's writings; for
a still more recent view see Lockyer's two articles on The Sun's Place
in Nature for February 14 and 25, 1895.

The revelations of another group of sciences, though sometimes bitterly
opposed and sometimes "reconciled" by theologians, have finally set
the whole question at rest. First, there have come the biblical
critics--earnest Christian scholars, working for the sake of truth--and
these have revealed beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt the
existence of at least two distinct accounts of creation in our book of
Genesis, which can sometimes be forced to agree, but which are generally
absolutely at variance with each other. These scholars have further
shown the two accounts to be not the cunningly devised fables of
priestcraft, but evidently fragments of earlier legends, myths, and
theologies, accepted in good faith and brought together for the noblest
of purposes by those who put in order the first of our sacred books.

Next have come the archaeologists and philologists, the devoted students
of ancient monuments and records; of these are such as Rawlinson, George
Smith, Sayce, Oppert, Jensen, Schrader, Delitzsch, and a phalanx of
similarly devoted scholars, who have deciphered a multitude of ancient
texts, especially the inscriptions found in the great library of
Assurbanipal at Nineveh, and have discovered therein an account of the
origin of the world identical in its most important features with the
later accounts in our own book of Genesis.

These men have had the courage to point out these facts and to connect
them with the truth that these Chaldean and Babylonian myths, legends,
and theories were far earlier than those of the Hebrews, which so
strikingly resemble them, and which we have in our sacred books; and
they have also shown us how natural it was that the Jewish accounts of
the creation should have been obtained at that remote period when the
earliest Hebrews were among the Chaldeans, and how the great Hebrew
poetic accounts of creation were drawn either from the sacred traditions
of these earlier peoples or from antecedent sources common to various
ancient nations.

In a summary which for profound thought and fearless integrity does
honour not only to himself but to the great position which he holds,
the Rev. Dr. Driver, Professor of Hebrew and Canon of Christ Church at
Oxford, has recently stated the case fully and fairly. Having pointed
out the fact that the Hebrews were one people out of many who thought
upon the origin of the universe, he says that they "framed theories to
account for the beginnings of the earth and man"; that "they either did
this for themselves or borrowed those of their neighbours"; that "of the
theories current in Assyria and Phoenicia fragments have been preserved,
and these exhibit points of resemblance with the biblical narrative
sufficient to warrant the inference that both are derived from the same
cycle of tradition."

After giving some extracts from the Chaldean creation tablets he says:
"In the light of these facts it is difficult to resist the conclusion
that the biblical narrative is drawn from the same source as these other
records. The biblical historians, it is plain, derived their materials
from the best human sources available.... The materials which with other
nations were combined into the crudest physical theories or associated
with a grotesque polytheism were vivified and transformed by the
inspired genius of the Hebrew historians, and adapted to become the
vehicle of profound religious truth."

Not less honourable to the sister university and to himself is the
statement recently made by the Rev. Dr. Ryle, Hulsean Professor of
Divinity at Cambridge. He says that to suppose that a Christian "must
either renounce his confidence in the achievements of scientific
research or abandon his faith in Scripture is a monstrous perversion of
Christian freedom." He declares: "The old position is no longer tenable;
a new position has to be taken up at once, prayerfully chosen, and
hopefully held." He then goes on to compare the Hebrew story of creation
with the earlier stories developed among kindred peoples, and especially
with the pre-existing Assyro-Babylonian cosmogony, and shows that they
are from the same source. He points out that any attempt to explain
particular features of the story into harmony with the modern scientific
ideas necessitates "a non-natural" interpretation; but he says that, if
we adopt a natural interpretation, "we shall consider that the Hebrew
description of the visible universe is unscientific as judged by modern
standards, and that it shares the limitations of the imperfect knowledge
of the age at which it was committed to writing." Regarding the account
in Genesis of man's physical origin, he says that it "is expressed
in the simple terms of prehistoric legend, of unscientific pictorial

In these statements and in a multitude of others made by eminent
Christian investigators in other countries is indicated what the victory
is which has now been fully won over the older theology.

Thus, from the Assyrian researches as well as from other sources, it
has come to be acknowledged by the most eminent scholars at the leading
seats of Christian learning that the accounts of creation with which
for nearly two thousand years all scientific discoveries have had to
be "reconciled"--the accounts which blocked the way of Copernicus, and
Galileo, and Newton, and Laplace--were simply transcribed or evolved
from a mass of myths and legends largely derived by the Hebrews from
their ancient relations with Chaldea, rewrought in a monotheistic sense,
imperfectly welded together, and then thrown into poetic forms in the
sacred books which we have inherited.

On one hand, then, we have the various groups of men devoted to the
physical sciences all converging toward the proofs that the universe,
as we at present know it, is the result of an evolutionary process--that
is, of the gradual working of physical laws upon an early condition of
matter; on the other hand, we have other great groups of men devoted to
historical, philological, and archaeological science whose researches
all converge toward the conclusion that our sacred accounts of creation
were the result of an evolution from an early chaos of rude opinion.

The great body of theologians who have so long resisted the conclusions
of the men of science have claimed to be fighting especially for "the
truth of Scripture," and their final answer to the simple conclusions
of science regarding the evolution of the material universe has been the
cry, "The Bible is true." And they are right--though in a sense nobler
than they have dreamed. Science, while conquering them, has found in our
Scriptures a far nobler truth than that literal historical exactness for
which theologians have so long and so vainly contended. More and more
as we consider the results of the long struggle in this field we are
brought to the conclusion that the inestimable value of the great sacred
books of the world is found in their revelation of the steady striving
of our race after higher conceptions, beliefs, and aspirations, both
in morals and religion. Unfolding and exhibiting this long-continued
effort, each of the great sacred books of the world is precious, and
all, in the highest sense, are true. Not one of them, indeed, conforms
to the measure of what mankind has now reached in historical and
scientific truth; to make a claim to such conformity is folly, for it
simply exposes those who make it and the books for which it is made to
loss of their just influence.

That to which the great sacred books of the world conform, and our own
most of all, is the evolution of the highest conceptions, beliefs,
and aspirations of our race from its childhood through the great
turning-points in its history. Herein lies the truth of all bibles, and
especially of our own. Of vast value they indeed often are as a record
of historical outward fact; recent researches in the East are constantly
increasing this value; but it is not for this that we prize them most:
they are eminently precious, not as a record of outward fact, but as
a mirror of the evolving heart, mind, and soul of man. They are true
because they have been developed in accordance with the laws governing
the evolution of truth in human history, and because in poem, chronicle,
code, legend, myth, apologue, or parable they reflect this development
of what is best in the onward march of humanity. To say that they are
not true is as if one should say that a flower or a tree or a planet is
not true; to scoff at them is to scoff at the law of the universe. In
welding together into noble form, whether in the book of Genesis, or in
the Psalms, or in the book of Job, or elsewhere, the great conceptions
of men acting under earlier inspiration, whether in Egypt, or Chaldea,
or India, or Persia, the compilers of our sacred books have given to
humanity a possession ever becoming more and more precious; and modern
science, in substituting a new heaven and a new earth for the old--the
reign of law for the reign of caprice, and the idea of evolution for
that of creation--has added and is steadily adding a new revelation
divinely inspired.

In the light of these two evolutions, then--one of the visible universe,
the other of a sacred creation-legend--science and theology, if the
master minds in both are wise, may at last be reconciled. A great
step in this reconciliation was recently seen at the main centre
of theological thought among English-speaking people, when, in the
collection of essays entitled Lux Mundi, emanating from the college
established in these latter days as a fortress of orthodoxy at Oxford,
the legendary character of the creation accounts in our sacred books was
acknowledged, and when the Archbishop of Canterbury asked, "May not the
Holy Spirit at times have made use of myth and legend?"(10)

     (10) For the first citations above made, see The Cosmogony of Genesis,
by the Rev. S. R. Driver, D.D., Canon of Christ Church and Regius
Professor of Hebrew at Oxford, in the Expositor for January, 1886; for
the second series of citations, see the Early Narratives of Genesis, by
Herbert Edward Ryle, Hulsean Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, London,
1892. For evidence that even the stiffest of Scotch Presbyterians have
come to discard the old literal biblical narrative of creation and
to regard the declaration of the Westminster Confession thereon as
a "disproved theory of creation," see Principal John Tulloch,
in Contemporary Review, March, 1877, on Religious Thought in
Scotland--especially page 550.


In one of the windows of the cathedral at Ulm a mediaeval glass-stainer
has represented the Almighty as busily engaged in creating the animals,
and there has just left the divine hands an elephant fully
accoutred, with armour, harness, and housings, ready-for war. Similar
representations appear in illuminated manuscripts and even in early
printed books, and, as the culmination of the whole, the Almighty is
shown as fashioning the first man from a hillock of clay and extracting
from his side, with evident effort, the first woman.

This view of the general process of creation had come from far,
appearing under varying forms in various ancient cosmogonies. In
the Egyptian temples at Philae and Denderah may still be seen
representations of the Nile gods modelling lumps of clay into men, and
a similar work is ascribed in the Assyrian tablets to the gods of
Babylonia. Passing into our own sacred books, these ideas became the
starting point of a vast new development of theology.(11)

     (11) For representations of Egyptian gods creating men out of lumps
of clay, see Maspero and Sayce, The Dawn of History, p. 156; for the
Chaldean legends of the creation of men and animals, see ibid., p. 543;
see also George Smith, Chaldean Accounts of Genesis, Sayce's edition,
pp. 36, 72, and 93; also for similar legends in other ancient nations,
Lenormant, Origines de l'Histoire, pp. 17 et seq.; for mediaeval
representations of the creation of man and woman, see Didron,
Iconographie, pp. 35, 178, 224, 537.

The fathers of the Church generally received each of the two conflicting
creation legends in Genesis literally, and then, having done their best
to reconcile them with each other and to mould them together, made them
the final test of thought upon the universe and all things therein. At
the beginning of the fourth century Lactantius struck the key-note of
this mode of subordinating all other things in the study of creation to
the literal text of Scripture, and he enforces his view of the creation
of man by a bit of philology, saying the final being created "is called
man because he is made from the ground--homo ex humo."

In the second half of the same century this view as to the literal
acceptance of the sacred text was reasserted by St. Ambrose, who, in his
work on the creation, declared that "Moses opened his mouth and poured
forth what God had said to him." But a greater than either of them
fastened this idea into the Christian theologies. St. Augustine,
preparing his Commentary on the Book of Genesis, laid down in one famous
sentence the law which has lasted in the Church until our own time:
"Nothing is to be accepted save on the authority of Scripture, since
greater is that authority than all the powers of the human mind." The
vigour of the sentence in its original Latin carried it ringing down the
centuries: "Major est Scripturae auctoritas quam omnis humani ingenii

Through the mediaeval period, in spite of a revolt led by no other
than St. Augustine himself, and followed by a series of influential
churchmen, contending, as we shall hereafter see, for a modification of
the accepted view of creation, this phrase held the minds of men firmly.
The great Dominican encyclopaedist, Vincent of Beauvais, in his Mirror
of Nature, while mixing ideas brought from Aristotle with a theory
drawn from the Bible, stood firmly by the first of the accounts given in
Genesis, and assigned the special virtue of the number six as a reason
why all things were created in six days; and in the later Middle Ages
that eminent authority, Cardinal d' Ailly, accepted everything regarding
creation in the sacred books literally. Only a faint dissent is seen
in Gregory Reisch, another authority of this later period, who, while
giving, in his book on the beginning of things, a full length woodcut
showing the Almighty in the act of extracting Eve from Adam's side,
with all the rest of new-formed Nature in the background, leans in his
writings, like St. Augustine, toward a belief in the pre-existence of

At the Reformation the vast authority of Luther was thrown in favour
of the literal acceptance of Scripture as the main source of natural
science. The allegorical and mystical interpretations of earlier
theologians he utterly rejected. "Why," he asks, "should Moses use
allegory when he is not speaking of allegorical creatures or of an
allegorical world, but of real creatures and of a visible world, which
can be seen, felt, and grasped? Moses calls things by their right names,
as we ought to do.... I hold that the animals took their being at once
upon the word of God, as did also the fishes in the sea."

Not less explicit in his adherence to the literal account of creation
given in Genesis was Calvin. He warns those who, by taking another view
than his own, "basely insult the Creator, to expect a judge who will
annihilate them." He insists that all species of animals were created
in six days, each made up of an evening and a morning, and that no new
species has ever appeared since. He dwells on the production of birds
from the water as resting upon certain warrant of Scripture, but adds,
"If the question is to be argued on physical grounds, we know that
water is more akin to air than the earth is." As to difficulties in the
scriptural account of creation, he tells us that God "wished by these to
give proofs of his power which should fill us with astonishment."

The controlling minds in the Roman Church steadfastly held this view. In
the seventeenth century Bossuet threw his vast authority in its favour,
and in his Discourse on Universal History, which has remained the
foundation not only of theological but of general historical teaching
in France down to the present republic, we find him calling attention to
what he regards as the culminating act of creation, and asserting that,
literally, for the creation of man earth was used, and "the finger of
God applied to corruptible matter."

The Protestant world held this idea no less persistently. In the
seventeenth century Dr. John Lightfoot, Vice-Chancellor of the
University of Cambridge, the great rabbinical scholar of his time,
attempted to reconcile the two main legends in Genesis by saying that of
the "clean sort of beasts there were seven of every kind created, three
couples for breeding and the odd one for Adam's sacrifice on his fall,
which God foresaw"; and that of unclean beasts only one couple was

So literal was this whole conception of the work of creation that in
these days it can scarcely be imagined. The Almighty was represented
in theological literature, in the pictured Bibles, and in works of art
generally, as a sort of enlarged and venerable Nuremberg toymaker. At
times the accounts in Genesis were illustrated with even more literal
exactness; thus, in connection with a well-known passage in the sacred
text, the Creator was shown as a tailor, seated, needle in hand,
diligently sewing together skins of beasts into coats for Adam and Eve.
Such representations presented no difficulties to the docile minds of
the Middle Ages and the Reformation period; and in the same spirit, when
the discovery of fossils began to provoke thought, these were declared
to be "models of his works approved or rejected by the great Artificer,"
"outlines of future creations," "sports of Nature," or "objects placed
in the strata to bring to naught human curiosity"; and this kind of
explanation lingered on until in our own time an eminent naturalist,
in his anxiety to save the literal account in Genesis, has urged that
Jehovah tilted and twisted the strata, scattered the fossils through
them, scratched the glacial furrows upon them, spread over them
the marks of erosion by water, and set Niagara pouring--all in an
instant--thus mystifying the world "for some inscrutable purpose, but
for his own glory."(12)

     (12) For the citation from Lactantius, see Divin. Instit., lib. ii, cap.
xi, in Migne, tome vi, pp. 311, 312; for St. Augustine's great phrase,
see the De Genes. ad litt., ii, 5; for St. Ambrose, see lib. i, cap. ii;
for Vincent of Beauvais, see the Speculum Naturale, lib. i, cap. ii, and
lib. ii, cap. xv and xxx; also Bourgeat, Etudes sur Vincent de Beauvais,
Paris, 1856, especially chaps. vii, xii, and xvi; for Cardinal d"ailly,
see the Imago Mundi, and for Reisch, see the various editions of the
Margarita Philosophica; for Luther's statements, see Luther's Schriften,
ed. Walch, Halle, 1740, Commentary on Genesis, vol. i; for Calvin's view
of the creation of the animals, including the immutability of Species,
see the Comm. in Gen., tome i of his Opera omnia, Amst., 1671, cap. i,
v, xx, p. 5, also cap. ii, v, ii, p. 8, and elsewhere; for Bossuet, see
his Discours sur l'Histoire universelle (in his OEuvres, tome v, Paris,
1846); for Lightfoot, see his works, edited by Pitman, London, 1822;
for Bede, see the Hexaemeron, lib. i, in Migne, tome xci, p.21; for Mr.
Gosse'smodern defence of the literal view, see his Omphalos, London,
1857, passim.

The next important development of theological reasoning had regard to
the DIVISIONS of the animal kingdom.

Naturally, one of the first divisions which struck the inquiring
mind was that between useful and noxious creatures, and the question
therefore occurred, How could a good God create tigers and serpents,
thorns and thistles? The answer was found in theological considerations
upon SIN. To man's first disobedience all woes were due. Great men
for eighteen hundred years developed the theory that before Adam's
disobedience there was no death, and therefore neither ferocity nor

Some typical utterances in the evolution of this doctrine are worthy of
a passing glance. St. Augustine expressly confirmed and emphasized the
view that the vegetable as well as the animal kingdom was cursed on
account of man's sin. Two hundred years later this utterance had been
echoed on from father to father of the Church until it was caught by
Bede; he declared that before man's fall animals were harmless, but were
made poisonous or hurtful by Adam's sin, and he said, "Thus fierce and
poisonous animals were created for terrifying man (because God foresaw
that he would sin), in order that he might be made aware of the final
punishment of hell."

In the twelfth century this view was incorporated by Peter Lombard into
his great theological work, the Sentences, which became a text-book of
theology through the middle ages. He affirmed that "no created things
would have been hurtful to man had he not sinned; they became hurtful
for the sake of terrifying and punishing vice or of proving and
perfecting virtue; they were created harmless, and on account of sin
became hurtful."

This theological theory regarding animals was brought out in the
eighteenth century with great force by John Wesley. He declared that
before Adam's sin "none of these attempted to devour or in any wise hurt
one another"; "the spider was as harmless as the fly, and did not lie
in wait for blood." Not only Wesley, but the eminent Dr. Adam Clarke and
Dr. Richard Watson, whose ideas had the very greatest weight among the
English Dissenters, and even among leading thinkers in the Established
Church, held firmly to this theory; so that not until, in our own
time, geology revealed the remains of vast multitudes of carnivorous
creatures, many of them with half-digested remains of other animals in
their stomachs, all extinct long ages before the appearance of man upon
earth, was a victory won by science over theology in this field.

A curious development of this doctrine was seen in the belief drawn
by sundry old commentators from the condemnation of the serpent in
Genesis--a belief, indeed, perfectly natural, since it was evidently
that of the original writers of the account preserved in the first of
our sacred books. This belief was that, until the tempting serpent was
cursed by the Almighty, all serpents stood erect, walked, and talked.

This belief was handed down the ages as part of "the sacred deposit of
the faith" until Watson, the most prolific writer of the evangelical
reform in the eighteenth century and the standard theologian of the
evangelical party, declared: "We have no reason at all to believe
that the animal had a serpentine form in any mode or degree until its
transformation; that he was then degraded to a reptile to go upon his
belly imports, on the contrary, an entire loss and alteration of the
original form." Here, again, was a ripe result of the theologic method
diligently pursued by the strongest thinkers in the Church during nearly
two thousand years; but this "sacred deposit" also faded away when the
geologists found abundant remains of fossil serpents dating from periods
long before the appearance of man.

Troublesome questions also arose among theologians regarding animals
classed as "superfluous." St. Augustine was especially exercised
thereby. He says: "I confess I am ignorant why mice and frogs were
created, or flies and worms.... All creatures are either useful, hurtful,
or superfluous to us.... As for the hurtful creatures, we are either
punished, or disciplined, or terrified by them, so that we may not
cherish and love this life." As to the "superfluous animals," he says,
"Although they are not necessary for our service, yet the whole design
of the universe is thereby completed and finished." Luther, who followed
St. Augustine in so many other matters, declined to follow him fully in
this. To him a fly was not merely superfluous, it was noxious--sent by
the devil to vex him when reading.

Another subject which gave rise to much searching of Scripture and long
trains of theological reasoning was the difference between the creation
of man and that of other living beings.

Great stress was laid by theologians, from St. Basil and St. Augustine
to St. Thomas Aquinas and Bossuet, and from Luther to Wesley, on the
radical distinction indicated in Genesis, God having created man "in his
own image." What this statement meant was seen in the light of the later
biblical statement that "Adam begat Seth in his own likeness, after his

In view of this and of well-known texts incorporated from older creation
legends into the Hebrew sacred books it came to be widely held that,
while man was directly moulded and fashioned separately by the Creator's
hand, the animals generally were evoked in numbers from the earth and
sea by the Creator's voice.

A question now arose naturally as to the DISTINCTIONS OF SPECIES among
animals. The vast majority of theologians agreed in representing all
animals as created "in the beginning," and named by Adam, preserved in
the ark, and continued ever afterward under exactly the same species.
This belief ripened into a dogma. Like so many other dogmas in the
Church, Catholic and Protestant, its real origins are to be found rather
in pagan philosophy than in the Christian Scriptures; it came far more
from Plato and Aristotle than from Moses and St. Paul. But this was not
considered: more and more it became necessary to believe that each
and every difference of species was impressed by the Creator "in the
beginning," and that no change had taken place or could have taken place

Some difficulties arose here and there as zoology progressed and
revealed ever-increasing numbers of species; but through the Middle
Ages, and indeed long after the Reformation, these difficulties were
easily surmounted by making the ark of Noah larger and larger, and
especially by holding that there had been a human error in regard to its

     (13) For St. Augustine, see De Genesis and De Trinitate, passim; for
Bede, see Hexaemeron, lib. i, in Migne, tome xci, pp. 21, 36-38, 42; and
De Sex Dierum Criatione, in Migne, tome xciii, p. 215; for Peter Lombard
on "noxious animals," see his Sententiae, lib. ii, dist. xv, 3, Migne,
tome cxcii, p. 682; for Wesley, Clarke, and Watson, see quotations from
them and notes thereto in my chapter on Geology; for St. Augustine
on "superfluous animals," see the De Genesi, lib. i, cap. xvi, 26; on
Luther's view of flies, see the Table Talk and his famous utterance,
"Odio muscas quia sunt imagines diaboli et hoereticorum"; for the agency
of Aristotle and Plato in fastening the belief in the fixity of species
into Christian theology, see Sachs, Geschichte der Botanik, Munchen,
1875, p. 107 and note, also p. 113.

But naturally there was developed among both ecclesiastics and laymen
a human desire to go beyond these special points in the history of
animated beings--a desire to know what the creation really IS.

Current legends, stories, and travellers' observations, poor as they
were, tended powerfully to stimulate curiosity in this field.

Three centuries before the Christian era Aristotle had made the
first really great attempt to satisfy this curiosity, and had begun
a development of studies in natural history which remains one of the
leading achievements in the story of our race.

But the feeling which we have already seen so strong in the early
Church--that all study of Nature was futile in view of the approaching
end of the world--indicated so clearly in the New Testament and voiced
so powerfully by Lactantius and St. Augustine--held back this current
of thought for many centuries. Still, the better tendency in humanity
continued to assert itself. There was, indeed, an influence coming from
the Hebrew Scriptures themselves which wrought powerfully to this end;
for, in spite of all that Lactantius or St. Augustine might say as to
the futility of any study of Nature, the grand utterances in the Psalms
regarding the beauties and wonders of creation, in all the glow of the
truest poetry, ennobled the study even among those whom logic drew away
from it.

But, as a matter of course, in the early Church and throughout the
Middle Ages all such studies were cast in a theologic mould. Without
some purpose of biblical illustration or spiritual edification they were
considered futile too much prying into the secrets of Nature was very
generally held to be dangerous both to body and soul; only for showing
forth God's glory and his purposes in the creation were such studies
praiseworthy. The great work of Aristotle was under eclipse. The early
Christian thinkers gave little attention to it, and that little was
devoted to transforming it into something absolutely opposed to his
whole spirit and method; in place of it they developed the Physiologus
and the Bestiaries, mingling scriptural statements, legends of the
saints, and fanciful inventions with pious intent and childlike
simplicity. In place of research came authority--the authority of the
Scriptures as interpreted by the Physio Cogus and the Bestiaries--and
these remained the principal source of thought on animated Nature for
over a thousand years.

Occasionally, indeed, fear was shown among the rulers in the Church,
even at such poor prying into the creation as this, and in the fifth
century a synod under Pope Gelasius administered a rebuke to the
Physiologus; but the interest in Nature was too strong: the great
work on Creation by St. Basil had drawn from the Physiologus precious
illustrations of Holy Writ, and the strongest of the early popes,
Gregory the Great, virtually sanctioned it.

Thus was developed a sacred science of creation and of the divine
purpose in Nature, which went on developing from the fourth century to
the nineteenth--from St. Basil to St. Isidore of Seville, from Isidore
to Vincent of Beauvais, and from Vincent to Archdeacon Paley and the
Bridgewater Treatises.

Like all else in the Middle Ages, this sacred science was developed
purely by theological methods. Neglecting the wonders which the
dissection of the commonest animals would have afforded them, these
naturalists attempted to throw light into Nature by ingenious use of
scriptural texts, by research among the lives of the saints, and by the
plentiful application of metaphysics. Hence even such strong men as
St. Isidore of Seville treasured up accounts of the unicorn and dragons
mentioned in the Scriptures and of the phoenix and basilisk in profane
writings. Hence such contributions to knowledge as that the basilisk
kills serpents by his breath and men by his glance, that the lion when
pursued effaces his tracks with the end of his tail, that the pelican
nourishes her young with her own blood, that serpents lay aside their
venom before drinking, that the salamander quenches fire, that the hyena
can talk with shepherds, that certain birds are born of the fruit of a
certain tree when it happens to fall into the water, with other masses
of science equally valuable.

As to the method of bringing science to bear on Scripture, the
Physiologus gives an example, illustrating the passage in the book of
Job which speaks of the old lion perishing for lack of prey. Out of
the attempt to explain an unusual Hebrew word in the text there came a
curious development of error, until we find fully evolved an account of
the "ant-lion," which, it gives us to understand, was the lion mentioned
by Job, and it says: "As to the ant-lion, his father hath the shape of
a lion, his mother that of an ant; the father liveth upon flesh and the
mother upon herbs; these bring forth the ant-lion, a compound of both
and in part like to either; for his fore part is like that of a lion and
his hind part like that of an ant. Being thus composed, he is neither
able to eat flesh like his father nor herbs like his mother, and so he

In the middle of the thirteenth century we have a triumph of this
theological method in the great work of the English Franciscan
Bartholomew on The Properties of Things. The theological method as
applied to science consists largely in accepting tradition and in
spinning arguments to fit it. In this field Bartholomew was a master.
Having begun with the intent mainly to explain the allusions in
Scripture to natural objects, he soon rises logically into a survey of
all Nature. Discussing the "cockatrice" of Scripture, he tells us: "He
drieth and burneth leaves with his touch, and he is of so great venom
and perilous that he slayeth and wasteth him that nigheth him without
tarrying; and yet the weasel overcometh him, for the biting of the
weasel is death to the cockatrice. Nevertheless the biting of the
cockatrice is death to the weasel if the weasel eat not rue before. And
though the cockatrice be venomous without remedy while he is alive,
yet he looseth all the malice when he is burnt to ashes. His ashes be
accounted profitable in working of alchemy, and namely in turning and
changing of metals."

Bartholomew also enlightens us on the animals of Egypt, and says, "If
the crocodile findeth a man by the water's brim he slayeth him, and then
he weepeth over him and swalloweth him."

Naturally this good Franciscan naturalist devotes much thought to the
"dragons" mentioned in Scripture. He says: "The dragon is most greatest
of all serpents, and oft he is drawn out of his den and riseth up into
the air, and the air is moved by him, and also the sea swelleth against
his venom, and he hath a crest, and reareth his tongue, and hath teeth
like a saw, and hath strength, and not only in teeth but in tail, and
grieveth with biting and with stinging. Whom he findeth he slayeth.
Oft four or five of them fasten their tails together and rear up their
heads, and sail over the sea to get good meat. Between elephants and
dragons is everlasting fighting; for the dragon with his tail spanneth
the elephant, and the elephant with his nose throweth down the
dragon.... The cause why the dragon desireth his blood is the coldness
thereof, by the which the dragon desireth to cool himself. Jerome saith
that the dragon is a full thirsty beast, insomuch that he openeth his
mouth against the wind to quench the burning of his thirst in that wise.
Therefore, when he seeth ships in great wind he flieth against the sail
to take the cold wind, and overthroweth the ship."

These ideas of Friar Bartholomew spread far and struck deep into the
popular mind. His book was translated into the principal languages of
Europe, and was one of those most generally read during the Ages of
Faith. It maintained its position nearly three hundred years; even after
the invention of printing it held its own, and in the fifteenth century
there were issued no less than ten editions of it in Latin, four in
French, and various versions of it in Dutch, Spanish, and English.
Preachers found it especially useful in illustrating the ways of God
to man. It was only when the great voyages of discovery substituted
ascertained fact for theological reasoning in this province that its
authority was broken.

The same sort of science flourished in the Bestiaries, which were used
everywhere, and especially in the pulpits, for the edification of the
faithful. In all of these, as in that compiled early in the thirteenth
century by an ecclesiastic, William of Normandy, we have this lesson,
borrowed from the Physiologus: "The lioness giveth birth to cubs which
remain three days without life. Then cometh the lion, breatheth upon
them, and bringeth them to life.... Thus it is that Jesus Christ
during three days was deprived of life, but God the Father raised him

Pious use was constantly made of this science, especially by monkish
preachers. The phoenix rising from his ashes proves the doctrine of the
resurrection; the structure and mischief of monkeys proves the existence
of demons; the fact that certain monkeys have no tails proves that Satan
has been shorn of his glory; the weasel, which "constantly changes its
place, is a type of the man estranged from the word of God, who findeth
no rest."

The moral treatises of the time often took the form of works on natural
history, in order the more fully to exploit these religious teachings of
Nature. Thus from the book On Bees, the Dominican Thomas of Cantimpre,
we learn that "wasps persecute bees and make war on them out of natural
hatred"; and these, he tells us, typify the demons who dwell in the
air and with lightning and tempest assail and vex mankind--whereupon he
fills a long chapter with anecdotes of such demonic warfare on mortals.
In like manner his fellow-Dominican, the inquisitor Nider, in his book
The Ant Hill, teaches us that the ants in Ethiopia, which are said to
have horns and to grow so large as to look like dogs, are emblems of
atrocious heretics, like Wyclif and the Hussites, who bark and bite
against the truth; while the ants of India, which dig up gold out of
the sand with their feet and hoard it, though they make no use of it,
symbolize the fruitless toil with which the heretics dig out the gold of
Holy Scripture and hoard it in their books to no purpose.

This pious spirit not only pervaded science; it bloomed out in art, and
especially in the cathedrals. In the gargoyles overhanging the walls, in
the grotesques clambering about the towers or perched upon pinnacles, in
the dragons prowling under archways or lurking in bosses of foliage, in
the apocalyptic beasts carved upon the stalls of the choir, stained into
the windows, wrought into the tapestries, illuminated in the letters
and borders of psalters and missals, these marvels of creation suggested
everywhere morals from the Physiologus, the Bestiaries, and the

     (14) For the Physiologus, Bestiaries, etc., see Berger de Xivrey,
Traditions Teratologiques; also Hippeau's edition of the Bestiare de
Guillaume de Normandie, Caen, 1852, and such medieaval books of Exempla
as the Lumen Naturae; also Hoefer, Histoire de la Zoologie; also
Rambaud, Histoire de la Civilisation Francaise, Paris, 1885, vol i, pp.
368, 369; also Cardinal Pitra, preface to the Spicilegium Solismense,
Paris, 1885, passim; also Carus, Geschichte der Zoologie; and for
an admirable summary, the article Physiologus in the Encyclopedia
Britannica. In the illuminated manuscripts in the Library of Cornell
University are some very striking examples of grotesques. For admirably
illustrated articles on the Bestiaries, see Cahier and Martin, Melanges
d'Archeologie, Paris, 1851, 1852, and 1856, vol. ii of the first series,
pp. 85-232, and second series, volume on Curiosities Mysterieuses, pp.
106-164; also J. R. Allen, Early Christian Symbolism in Great Britain
and Ireland (London, 1887), lecture vi; for an exhaustive discussion of
the subject, see Das Thierbuch des normannischen Dichters Guillaume le
Clerc, herausgegeben von Reinisch, Leipsic, 1890; and for an Italian
examlpe, Goldstaub and Wendriner, Ein Tosco-Venezianischer Bestiarius,
Halle, 1892, where is given, on pp. 369-371, a very pious but very
comical tradition regarding the beaver, hardly mentionable to ears
polite. For Friar Bartholomew, see (besides his book itself) Medieval
Lore, edited by Robert Steele, London, 1893, pp. 118-138.

Here and there among men who were free from church control we have work
of a better sort. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Abd Allatif
made observations upon the natural history of Egypt which showed a truly
scientific spirit, and the Emperor Frederick II attempted to promote a
more fruitful study of Nature; but one of these men was abhorred as a
Mussulman and the other as an infidel. Far more in accordance with the
spirit of the time was the ecclesiastic Giraldus Cambrensis, whose book
on the topography of Ireland bestows much attention upon the animals
of the island, and rarely fails to make each contribute an appropriate
moral. For example, he says that in Ireland "eagles live for so many
ages that they seem to contend with eternity itself; so also the saints,
having put off the old man and put on the new, obtain the blessed fruit
of everlasting life." Again, he tells us: "Eagles often fly so high that
their wings are scorched by the sun; so those who in the Holy Scriptures
strive to unravel the deep and hidden secrets of the heavenly mysteries,
beyond what is allowed, fall below, as if the wings of the presumptuous
imaginations on which they are borne were scorched."

In one of the great men of the following century appeared a gleam of
healthful criticism: Albert the Great, in his work on the animals,
dissents from the widespread belief that certain birds spring from trees
and are nourished by the sap, and also from the theory that some are
generated in the sea from decaying wood.

But it required many generations for such scepticism to produce much
effect, and we find among the illustrations in an edition of Mandeville
published just before the Reformation not only careful accounts but
pictured representations both of birds and of beasts produced in the
fruit of trees.(15)

     (15) For Giraldus Cambrensis, see the edition in the Bohn Library,
London, 1863, p. 30; for the Abd Allatif and Frederick II, see Hoefer,
as above; for Albertus Magnus, see the De Animalibus, lib. xxiii; for
the illustrations in Mandeville, see the Strasburg edition, 1484;
for the history of the myth of the tree which produces birds, see Max
Muller's lectures on the Science of Language, second series, lect. xii.

This general employment of natural science for pious purposes went on
after the Reformation. Luther frequently made this use of it, and his
example controlled his followers. In 1612, Wolfgang Franz, Professor of
Theology at Luther's university, gave to the world his sacred history of
animals, which went through many editions. It contained a very ingenious
classification, describing "natural dragons," which have three rows of
teeth to each jaw, and he piously adds, "the principal dragon is the

Near the end of the same century, Father Kircher, the great Jesuit
professor at Rome, holds back the sceptical current, insists upon the
orthodox view, and represents among the animals entering the ark sirens
and griffins.

Yet even among theologians we note here and there a sceptical spirit
in natural science. Early in the same seventeenth century Eugene
Roger published his Travels in Palestine. As regards the utterances
of Scripture he is soundly orthodox: he prefaces his work with a map
showing, among other important points referred to in biblical history,
the place where Samson slew a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of
an ass, the cavern which Adam and Eve inhabited after their expulsion
from paradise, the spot where Balaam's ass spoke, the place where Jacob
wrestled with the angel, the steep place down which the swine possessed
of devils plunged into the sea, the position of the salt statue which
was once Lot's wife, the place at sea where Jonah was swallowed by
the whale, and "the exact spot where St. Peter caught one hundred and
fifty-three fishes."

As to natural history, he describes and discusses with great theological
acuteness the basilisk. He tells us that the animal is about a foot and
a half long, is shaped like a crocodile, and kills people with a single
glance. The one which he saw was dead, fortunately for him, since in
the time of Pope Leo IV--as he tells us--one appeared in Rome and killed
many people by merely looking at them; but the Pope destroyed it with
his prayers and the sign of the cross. He informs us that Providence
has wisely and mercifully protected man by requiring the monster to cry
aloud two or three times whenever it leaves its den, and that the divine
wisdom in creation is also shown by the fact that the monster is obliged
to look its victim in the eye, and at a certain fixed distance, before
its glance can penetrate the victim's brain and so pass to his heart.
He also gives a reason for supposing that the same divine mercy has
provided that the crowing of a cock will kill the basilisk.

Yet even in this good and credulous missionary we see the influence of
Bacon and the dawn of experimental science; for, having been told many
stories regarding the salamander, he secured one, placed it alive upon
the burning coals, and reports to us that the legends concerning its
power to live in the fire are untrue. He also tried experiments with
the chameleon, and found that the stories told of it were to be received
with much allowance: while, then, he locks up his judgment whenever he
discusses the letter of Scripture, he uses his mind in other things much
after the modern method.

In the second half of the same century Hottinger, in his Theological
Examination of the History of Creation, breaks from the belief in the
phoenix; but his scepticism is carefully kept within the limits imposed
by Scripture. He avows his doubts, first, "because God created the
animals in couples, while the phoenix is represented as a single,
unmated creature"; secondly, "because Noah, when he entered the ark,
brought the animals in by sevens, while there were never so many
individuals of the phoenix species"; thirdly, because "no man is known
who dares assert that he has ever seen this bird"; fourthly, because
"those who assert there is a phoenix differ among themselves."

In view of these attacks on the salamander and the phoenix, we are not
surprised to find, before the end of the century, scepticism regarding
the basilisk: the eminent Prof. Kirchmaier, at the University of
Wittenberg, treats phoenix and basilisk alike as old wives' fables. As
to the phoenix, he denies its existence, not only because Noah took no
such bird into the ark, but also because, as he pithily remarks, "birds
come from eggs, not from ashes." But the unicorn he can not resign, nor
will he even concede that the unicorn is a rhinoceros; he appeals to
Job and to Marco Polo to prove that this animal, as usually conceived,
really exists, and says, "Who would not fear to deny the existence of
the unicorn, since Holy Scripture names him with distinct praises?"
As to the other great animals mentioned in Scripture, he is so
rationalistic as to admit that behemoth was an elephant and leviathan a

But these germs of a fruitful scepticism grew, and we soon find
Dannhauer going a step further and declaring his disbelief even in the
unicorn, insisting that it was a rhinoceros--only that and nothing more.
Still, the main current continued strongly theological. In 1712 Samuel
Bochart published his great work upon the animals of Holy Scripture. As
showing its spirit we may take the titles of the chapters on the horse:

"Chapter VI. Of the Hebrew Name of the Horse."

"Chapter VII. Of the Colours of the Six Horses in Zechariah."

"Chapter VIII. Of the Horses in Job."

"Chapter IX. Of Solomon's Horses, and of the Texts wherein the Writers
praise the Excellence of Horses."

"Chapter X. Of the Consecrated Horses of the Sun."

Among the other titles of chapters are such as: Of Balaam's Ass; Of the
Thousand Philistines slain by Samson with the Jawbone of an Ass; Of
the Golden Calves of Aaron and Jeroboam; Of the Bleating, Milk, Wool,
External and Internal Parts of Sheep mentioned in Scripture; Of Notable
Things told regarding Lions in Scripture; Of Noah's Dove and of the
Dove which appeared at Christ's Baptism. Mixed up in the book, with
the principal mass drawn from Scripture, were many facts and reasonings
taken from investigations by naturalists; but all were permeated by the
theological spirit.(16)

     (16) For Franz and Kircher, see Perrier, La Philosophie Zoologique avant
Darwin, 1884, p. 29; for Roger, see his La Terre Saincte, Paris, 1664,
pp. 89-92, 130, 218, etc.; for Hottinger, see his Historiae
Creatonis Examen theologico-philologicum, Heidelberg, 1659, lib.
vi, quaest lxxxiii; for Kirchmaier, see his Disputationes Zoologicae
(published collectively after his death), Jena, 1736; for Dannhauer, see
his Disputationes Theologicae, Leipsic, 1707, p. 14; for Bochart, see
his Hierozoikon, sive De Animalibus Sacre Scripturae, Leyden, 1712.

The inquiry into Nature having thus been pursued nearly two thousand
years theologically, we find by the middle of the sixteenth century some
promising beginnings of a different method--the method of inquiry into
Nature scientifically--the method which seeks not plausibilities but
facts. At that time Edward Wotton led the way in England and Conrad
Gesner on the Continent, by observations widely extended, carefully
noted, and thoughtfully classified.

This better method of interrogating Nature soon led to the formation of
societies for the same purpose. In 1560 was founded an Academy for the
Study of Nature at Naples, but theologians, becoming alarmed, suppressed
it, and for nearly one hundred years there was no new combined effort
of that sort, until in 1645 began the meetings in London of what was
afterward the Royal Society. Then came the Academy of Sciences in
France, and the Accademia del Cimento in Italy; others followed in all
parts of the world, and a great new movement was begun.

Theologians soon saw a danger in this movement. In Italy, Prince Leopold
de' Medici, a protector of the Florentine Academy, was bribed with a
cardinal's hat to neglect it, and from the days of Urban VIII to Pius
IX a similar spirit was there shown. In France, there were frequent
ecclesiastical interferences, of which Buffon's humiliation for stating
a simple scientific truth was a noted example. In England, Protestantism
was at first hardly more favourable toward the Royal Society, and the
great Dr. South denounced it in his sermons as irreligious.

Fortunately, one thing prevented an open breach between theology and
science: while new investigators had mainly given up the medieval method
so dear to the Church, they had very generally retained the conception
of direct creation and of design throughout creation--a design having
as its main purpose the profit, instruction, enjoyment, and amusement of

On this the naturally opposing tendencies of theology and science were
compromised. Science, while somewhat freed from its old limitations,
became the handmaid of theology in illustrating the doctrine of creative
design, and always with apparent deference to the Chaldean and other
ancient myths and legends embodied in the Hebrew sacred books.

About the middle of the seventeenth century came a great victory of
the scientific over the theologic method. At that time Francesco Redi
published the results of his inquiries into the doctrine of spontaneous
generation. For ages a widely accepted doctrine had been that water,
filth, and carrion had received power from the Creator to generate
worms, insects, and a multitude of the smaller animals; and this
doctrine had been especially welcomed by St. Augustine and many of the
fathers, since it relieved the Almighty of making, Adam of naming, and
Noah of living in the ark with these innumerable despised species.
But to this fallacy Redi put an end. By researches which could not be
gainsaid, he showed that every one of these animals came from an egg;
each, therefore, must be the lineal descendant of an animal created,
named, and preserved from "the beginning."

Similar work went on in England, but under more distinctly theological
limitations. In the same seventeenth century a very famous and popular
English book was published by the naturalist John Ray, a fellow of the
Royal Society, who produced a number of works on plants, fishes, and
birds; but the most widely read of all was entitled The Wisdom of God
manifested in the Works of Creation. Between the years 1691 and 1827 it
passed through nearly twenty editions.

Ray argued the goodness and wisdom of God from the adaptation of the
animals not only to man's uses but to their own lives and surroundings.

In the first years of the eighteenth century Dr. Nehemiah Grew, of the
Royal Society, published his Cosmologia Sacra to refute anti-scriptural
opinions by producing evidences of creative design. Discussing "the ends
of Providence," he says, "A crane, which is scurvy meat, lays but two
eggs in the year, but a pheasant and partridge, both excellent meat, lay
and hatch fifteen or twenty." He points to the fact that "those of value
which lay few at a time sit the oftener, as the woodcock and the dove."
He breaks decidedly from the doctrine that noxious things in Nature are
caused by sin, and shows that they, too, are useful; that, "if nettles
sting, it is to secure an excellent medicine for children and cattle";
that, "if the bramble hurts man, it makes all the better hedge"; and
that, "if it chances to prick the owner, it tears the thief." "Weasels,
kites, and other hurtful animals induce us to watchfulness; thistles and
moles, to good husbandry; lice oblige us to cleanliness in our
bodies, spiders in our houses, and the moth in our clothes." This very
optimistic view, triumphing over the theological theory of noxious
animals and plants as effects of sin, which prevailed with so much force
from St. Augustine to Wesley, was developed into nobler form during the
century by various thinkers, and especially by Archdeacon Paley, whose
Natural Theology exercised a powerful influence down to recent
times. The same tendency appeared in other countries, though various
philosophers showed weak points in the argument, and Goethe made sport
of it in a noted verse, praising the forethought of the Creator in
foreordaining the cork tree to furnish stoppers for wine-bottles.

Shortly before the middle of the nineteenth century the main movement
culminated in the Bridgewater Treatises. Pursuant to the will of the
eighth Earl of Bridgewater, the President of the Royal Society selected
eight persons, each to receive a thousand pounds sterling for writing
and publishing a treatise on the "power, wisdom, and goodness of God, as
manifested in the creation." Of these, the leading essays in regard
to animated Nature were those of Thomas Chalmers, on The Adaptation of
External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Condition of Man; of Sir
Charles Bell, on The Hand as evincing Design; of Roget, on Animal and
Vegetable Physiology with reference to Natural Theology; and of Kirby,
on The Habits and Instincts of Animals with reference to Natural

Besides these there were treatises by Whewell, Buckland, Kidd, and
Prout. The work was well done. It was a marked advance on all that had
appeared before, in matter, method, and spirit. Looking back upon it
now we can see that it was provisional, but that it was none the less
fruitful in truth, and we may well remember Darwin's remark on
the stimulating effect of mistaken THEORIES, as compared with the
sterilizing effect of mistaken OBSERVATIONS: mistaken observations lead
men astray, mistaken theories suggest true theories.

An effort made in so noble a spirit certainly does not deserve the
ridicule that, in our own day, has sometimes been lavished upon it.
Curiously, indeed, one of the most contemptuous of these criticisms has
been recently made by one of the most strenuous defenders of orthodoxy.
No less eminent a standard-bearer of the faith than the Rev. Prof.
Zoeckler says of this movement to demonstrate creative purpose and
design, and of the men who took part in it, "The earth appeared in their
representation of it like a great clothing shop and soup kitchen, and
God as a glorified rationalistic professor." Such a statement as this
is far from just to the conceptions of such men as Butler, Paley,
and Chalmers, no matter how fully the thinking world has now outlived

     (17) For a very valuable and interesting study on the old idea of the
generation of insects from carrion, see Osten-Sacken, on the Oxen-born
Bees of the Ancients, Heidelberg, 1894; for Ray, see the work cited,
London, 1827, p. 153; for Grew, see Cosmologia Sacra, or a Discourse on
the Universe, as it is the Creature and Kingdom of God; chiefly written
to demonstrate the Truth and Excellency of the Bible, by Dr. Nehemiah
Grew, Fellow of the College of Physicians and of the Royal Society of
London, 1701; for Paley and the Bridgewater Treatises, see the usual
editions; also Lange, History of Rationalism. Goethe's couplet ran as

"Welche Verehrung verdient der Weltenerschopfer, der Gnadig, Als er den
Korkbaum erschuf, gleich auch die Stopfel erfand."

For the quotation from Zoeckler, see his work already cited, vol. ii,
pp. 74, 440.

But, noble as the work of these men was, the foundation of fact on which
they reared it became evidently more and more insecure. For as far
back as the seventeenth century acute theologians had begun to discern
difficulties more serious than any that had before confronted them.
More and more it was seen that the number of different species was far
greater than the world had hitherto imagined. Greater and greater had
become the old difficulty in conceiving that, of these innumerable
species, each had been specially created by the Almighty hand; that each
had been brought before Adam by the Almighty to be named; and that each,
in couples or in sevens, had been gathered by Noah into the ark. But the
difficulties thus suggested were as nothing compared to those raised by
the DISTRIBUTION of animals.

Even in the first days of the Church this had aroused serious thought,
and above all in the great mind of St. Augustine. In his City of God he
had stated the difficulty as follows: "But there is a question about all
these kinds of beasts, which are neither tamed by man, nor spring from
the earth like frogs, such as wolves and others of that sort,.... as
to how they could find their way to the islands after that flood which
destroyed every living thing not preserved in the ark.... Some, indeed,
might be thought to reach islands by swimming, in case these were very
near; but some islands are so remote from continental lands that it does
not seem possible that any creature could reach them by swimming. It
is not an incredible thing, either, that some animals may have been
captured by men and taken with them to those lands which they intended
to inhabit, in order that they might have the pleasure of hunting;
and it can not be denied that the transfer may have been accomplished
through the agency of angels, commanded or allowed to perform this
labour by God."

But this difficulty had now assumed a magnitude of which St. Augustine
never dreamed. Most powerful of all agencies to increase it were the
voyages of Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Amerigo Vespucci, and
other navigators of the period of discovery. Still more serious did it
become as the great islands of the southern seas were explored. Every
navigator brought home tidings of new species of animals and of races of
men living in parts of the world where the theologians, relying on the
statement of St. Paul that the gospel had gone into all lands, had for
ages declared there could be none; until finally it overtaxed even
the theological imagination to conceive of angels, in obedience to
the divine command, distributing the various animals over the earth,
dropping the megatherium in South America, the archeopteryx in Europe,
the ornithorhynchus in Australia, and the opossum in North America.

The first striking evidence of this new difficulty was shown by the
eminent Jesuit missionary, Joseph Acosta. In his Natural and Moral
History of the Indies, published in 1590, he proved himself honest and
lucid. Though entangled in most of the older scriptural views, he broke
away from many; but the distribution of animals gave him great trouble.
Having shown the futility of St. Augustine's other explanations, he
quaintly asks: "Who can imagine that in so long a voyage men woulde
take the paines to carrie Foxes to Peru, especially that kinde they call
'Acias,' which is the filthiest I have seene? Who woulde likewise say
that they have carried Tygers and Lyons? Truly it were a thing worthy
the laughing at to thinke so. It was sufficient, yea, very much, for
men driven against their willes by tempest, in so long and unknowne a
voyage, to escape with their owne lives, without busying themselves to
carrie Woolves and Foxes, and to nourish them at sea."

It was under the impression made by this new array of facts that in 1667
Abraham Milius published at Geneva his book on The Origin of Animals
and the Migration of Peoples. This book shows, like that of Acosta,
the shock and strain to which the discovery of America subjected the
received theological scheme of things. It was issued with the special
approbation of the Bishop of Salzburg, and it indicates the possibility
that a solution of the whole trouble may be found in the text, "Let the
earth bring forth the living creature after his kind." Milius goes on to
show that the ancient philosophers agree with Moses, and that "the earth
and the waters, and especially the heat of the sun and of the genial
sky, together with that slimy and putrid quality which seems to be
inherent in the soil, may furnish the origin for fishes, terrestrial
animals, and birds." On the other hand, he is very severe against those
who imagine that man can have had the same origin with animals. But the
subject with which Milius especially grapples is the DISTRIBUTION of
animals. He is greatly exercised by the many species found in America
and in remote islands of the ocean--species entirely unknown in the
other continents--and of course he is especially troubled by the fact
that these species existing in those exceedingly remote parts of the
earth do not exist in the neighbourhood of Mount Ararat. He confesses
that to explain the distribution of animals is the most difficult part
of the problem. If it be urged that birds could reach America by flying
and fishes by swimming, he asks, "What of the beasts which neither fly
nor swim?" Yet even as to the birds he asks, "Is there not an infinite
variety of winged creatures who fly so slowly and heavily, and have such
a horror of the water, that they would not even dare trust themselves to
fly over a wide river?" As to fishes, he says, "They are very averse
to wandering from their native waters," and he shows that there are
now reported many species of American and East Indian fishes entirely
unknown on the other continents, whose presence, therefore, can not be
explained by any theory of natural dispersion.

Of those who suggest that land animals may have been dispersed over the
earth by the direct agency of man for his use or pleasure he asks: "Who
would like to get different sorts of lions, bears, tigers, and other
ferocious and noxious creatures on board ship? who would trust himself
with them? and who would wish to plant colonies of such creatures in
new, desirable lands?"

His conclusion is that plants and animals take their origin in the lands
wherein they are found; an opinion which he supports by quoting from the
two narrations in Genesis passages which imply generative force in earth
and water.

But in the eighteenth century matters had become even worse for the
theological view. To meet the difficulty the eminent Benedictine, Dom
Calmet, in his Commentary, expressed the belief that all the species of
a genus had originally formed one species, and he dwelt on this view
as one which enabled him to explain the possibility of gathering all
animals into the ark. This idea, dangerous as it was to the fabric of
orthodoxy, and involving a profound separation from the general doctrine
of the Church, seems to have been abroad among thinking men, for we
find in the latter half of the same century even Linnaeus inclining to
consider it. It was time, indeed, that some new theological theory be
evolved; the great Linnaeus himself, in spite of his famous declaration
favouring the fixity of species, had dealt a death-blow to the
old theory. In his Systema Naturae, published in the middle of the
eighteenth century, he had enumerated four thousand species of animals,
and the difficulties involved in the naming of each of them by Adam and
in bringing them together in the ark appeared to all thinking men more
and more insurmountable.

What was more embarrassing, the number of distinct species went on
increasing rapidly, indeed enormously, until, as an eminent zoological
authority of our own time has declared, "for every one of the species
enumerated by Linnaeus, more than fifty kinds are known to the
naturalist of to-day, and the number of species still unknown doubtless
far exceeds the list of those recorded."

Already there were premonitions of the strain made upon Scripture by
requiring a hundred and sixty distinct miraculous interventions of the
Creator to produce the hundred and sixty species of land shells found
in the little island of Madeira alone, and fourteen hundred distinct
interventions to produce the actual number of distinct species of a
single well-known shell.

Ever more and more difficult, too, became the question of the
geographical distribution of animals. As new explorations were made in
various parts of the world, this danger to the theological view went on
increasing. The sloths in South America suggested painful questions: How
could animals so sluggish have got away from the neighbourhood of Mount
Ararat so completely and have travelled so far?

The explorations in Australia and neighbouring islands made matters
still worse, for there was found in those regions a whole realm of
animals differing widely from those of other parts of the earth.

The problem before the strict theologians became, for example, how to
explain the fact that the kangaroo can have been in the ark and be now
only found in Australia: his saltatory powers are indeed great, but
how could he by any series of leaps have sprung across the intervening
mountains, plains, and oceans to that remote continent? and, if the
theory were adopted that at some period a causeway extended across the
vast chasm separating Australia from the nearest mainland, why did not
lions, tigers, camels, and camelopards force or find their way across

The theological theory, therefore, had by the end of the eighteenth
century gone to pieces. The wiser theologians waited; the unwise
indulged in exhortations to "root out the wicked heart of unbelief," in
denunciation of "science falsely so called," and in frantic declarations
that "the Bible is true"--by which they meant that the limited
understanding of it which they had happened to inherit is true.

By the middle of the nineteenth century the whole theological theory
of creation--though still preached everywhere as a matter of form--was
clearly seen by all thinking men to be hopelessly lost: such strong men
as Cardinal Wiseman in the Roman Church, Dean Buckland in the Anglican,
and Hugh Miller in the Scottish Church, made heroic efforts to save
something from it, but all to no purpose. That sturdy Teutonic and
Anglo-Saxon honesty, which is the best legacy of the Middle Ages to
Christendom, asserted itself in the old strongholds of theological
thought, the universities. Neither the powerful logic of Bishop Butler
nor the nimble reasoning of Archdeacon Paley availed. Just as the line
of astronomical thinkers from Copernicus to Newton had destroyed the old
astronomy, in which the earth was the centre, and the Almighty sitting
above the firmament the agent in moving the heavenly bodies about it
with his own hands, so now a race of biological thinkers had destroyed
the old idea of a Creator minutely contriving and fashioning all animals
to suit the needs and purposes of man. They had developed a system of a
very different sort, and this we shall next consider.(18)

     (18) For Acosta, see his Historia Natural y moral de las Indias,
Seville, 1590--the quaint English translation is of London, 1604; for
Abraham Milius, see his De Origine Animalium et Migratione Popularum,
Geneva, 1667; also Kosmos, 1877, H. I, S. 36; for Linnaeus's declaration
regarding species, see the Philosophia Botanica, 99, 157; for Calmet and
Linnaeus, see Zoeckler, vol. ii, p. 237. As to the enormously increasing
numbers of species in zoology and botany, see President D. S. Jordan,
Science Sketches, pp. 176, 177; also for pithy statement, Laing's
Problems of the Future, chap. vi.


We have seen, thus far, how there came into the thinking of mankind
upon the visible universe and its inhabitants the idea of a creation
virtually instantaneous and complete, and of a Creator in human form
with human attributes, who spoke matter into existence literally by the
exercise of his throat and lips, or shaped and placed it with his hands
and fingers.

We have seen that this view came from far; that it existed in the
Chaldaeo-Babylonian and Egyptian civilizations, and probably in others
of the earliest date known to us; that its main features passed thence
into the sacred books of the Hebrews and then into the early Christian
Church, by whose theologians it was developed through the Middle Ages
and maintained during the modern period.

But, while this idea was thus developed by a succession of noble and
thoughtful men through thousands of years, another conception, to all
appearance equally ancient, was developed, sometimes in antagonism to
it, sometimes mingled with it--the conception of all living beings as
wholly or in part the result of a growth process--of an evolution.

This idea, in various forms, became a powerful factor in nearly all the
greater ancient theologies and philosophies. For very widespread among
the early peoples who attained to much thinking power was a conception
that, in obedience to the divine fiat, a watery chaos produced the
earth, and that the sea and land gave birth to their inhabitants.

This is clearly seen in those records of Chaldaeo-Babylonian thought
deciphered in these latter years, to which reference has already been
made. In these we have a watery chaos which, under divine action, brings
forth the earth and its inhabitants; first the sea animals and then the
land animals--the latter being separated into three kinds, substantially
as recorded afterward in the Hebrew accounts. At the various stages in
the work the Chaldean Creator pronounces it "beautiful," just as the
Hebrew Creator in our own later account pronounces it "good."

In both accounts there is placed over the whole creation a solid,
concave firmament; in both, light is created first, and the heavenly
bodies are afterward placed "for signs and for seasons"; in both, the
number seven is especially sacred, giving rise to a sacred division of
time and to much else. It may be added that, with many other features in
the Hebrew legends evidently drawn from the Chaldean, the account of the
creation in each is followed by a legend regarding "the fall of man" and
a deluge, many details of which clearly passed in slightly modified form
from the Chaldean into the Hebrew accounts.

It would have been a miracle indeed if these primitive conceptions,
wrought out with so much poetic vigour in that earlier civilization
on the Tigris and Euphrates, had failed to influence the Hebrews, who
during the most plastic periods of their development were under the
tutelage of their Chaldean neighbours. Since the researches of Layard,
George Smith, Oppert, Schrader, Jensen, Sayce, and their compeers, there
is no longer a reasonable doubt that this ancient view of the world,
elaborated if not originated in that earlier civilization, came thence
as a legacy to the Hebrews, who wrought it in a somewhat disjointed but
mainly monotheistic form into the poetic whole which forms one of the
most precious treasures of ancient thought preserved in the book of

Thus it was that, while the idea of a simple material creation literally
by the hands and fingers or voice of the Creator became, as we have
seen, the starting-point of a powerful stream of theological thought,
and while this stream was swollen from age to age by contributions from
the fathers, doctors, and learned divines of the Church, Catholic
and Protestant, there was poured into it this lesser current, always
discernible and at times clearly separated from it--a current of belief
in a process of evolution.

The Rev. Prof. Sayce, of Oxford, than whom no English-speaking scholar
carries more weight in a matter of this kind, has recently declared his
belief that the Chaldaeo-Babylonian theory was the undoubted source of
the similar theory propounded by the Ionic philosopher Anaximander--the
Greek thinkers deriving this view from the Babylonians through the
Phoenicians; he also allows that from the same source its main features
were adopted into both the accounts given in the first of our
sacred books, and in this general view the most eminent Christian
Assyriologists concur.

It is true that these sacred accounts of ours contradict each other. In
that part of the first or Elohistic account given in the first chapter
of Genesis the WATERS bring forth fishes, marine animals, and birds
(Genesis, i, 20); but in that part of the second or Jehovistic account
given in the second chapter of Genesis both the land animals and birds
are declared to have been created not out of the water, but "OUT OF THE
GROUND" (Genesis, ii, 19).

The dialectic skill of the fathers was easily equal to explaining away
this contradiction; but the old current of thought, strengthened by both
these legends, arrested their attention, and, passing through the
minds of a succession of the greatest men of the Church, influenced
theological opinion deeply, if not widely, for ages, in favour of an
evolution theory.

But there was still another ancient source of evolution ideas.
Thoughtful men of the early civilizations which were developed along the
great rivers in the warmer regions of the earth noted how the sun-god as
he rose in his fullest might caused the water and the rich soil to teem
with the lesser forms of life. In Egypt, especially, men saw how
under this divine power the Nile slime brought forth "creeping things
innumerable." Hence mainly this ancient belief that the animals and
man were produced by lifeless matter at the divine command, "in the
beginning," was supplemented by the idea that some of the lesser
animals, especially the insects, were produced by a later evolution,
being evoked after the original creation from various sources, but
chiefly from matter in a state of decay.

This crude, early view aided doubtless in giving germs of a better
evolution theory to the early Greeks. Anaximander, Empedocles,
Anaxagoras, and, greatest of all, Aristotle, as we have seen, developed
them, making their way at times by guesses toward truths since
established by observation. Aristotle especially, both by speculation
and observation, arrived at some results which, had Greek freedom
of thought continued, might have brought the world long since to its
present plane of biological knowledge; for he reached something like the
modern idea of a succession of higher organizations from lower, and made
the fruitful suggestion of "a perfecting principle" in Nature.

With the coming in of Christian theology this tendency toward a yet
truer theory of evolution was mainly stopped, but the old crude view
remained, and as a typical example of it we may note the opinion of St.
Basil the Great in the fourth century. Discussing the work of creation,
he declares that, at the command of God, "the waters were gifted with
productive power"; "from slime and muddy places frogs, flies, and gnats
came into being"; and he finally declares that the same voice which gave
this energy and quality of productiveness to earth and water shall be
similarly efficacious until the end of the world. St. Gregory of Nyssa
held a similar view.

This idea of these great fathers of the Eastern Church took even
stronger hold on the great father of the Western Church. For St.
Augustine, so fettered usually by the letter of the sacred text, broke
from his own famous doctrine as to the acceptance of Scripture and
spurned the generally received belief of a creative process like that by
which a toymaker brings into existence a box of playthings. In his great
treatise on Genesis he says: "To suppose that God formed man from the
dust with bodily hands is very childish.... God neither formed man with
bodily hands nor did he breathe upon him with throat and lips."

St. Augustine then suggests the adoption of the old emanation or
evolution theory, shows that "certain very small animals may not have
been created on the fifth and sixth days, but may have originated later
from putrefying matter," argues that, even if this be so, God is still
their creator, dwells upon such a potential creation as involved in the
actual creation, and speaks of animals "whose numbers the after-time

In his great treatise on the Trinity--the work to which he devoted the
best thirty years of his life--we find the full growth of this opinion.
He develops at length the view that in the creation of living beings
there was something like a growth--that God is the ultimate author,
but works through secondary causes; and finally argues that certain
substances are endowed by God with the power of producing certain
classes of plants and animals.(19)

     (19) For the Chaldean view of creation, see George Smith, Chaldean
Account of Genesis, New York, 1876, pp. 14,15, and 64-86; also Lukas, as
above; also Sayce, Religion of the Ancient Babylonians, Hibbert Lectures
for 1887, pp. 371 and elsewhere; as to the fall of man, Tower of Babel,
sacredness of the number seven, etc., see also Delitzsch, appendix to
the German translation of Smith, pp. 305 et seq.; as to the almost exact
adoption of the Chaldean legends into the Hebrew sacred account, see
all these, as also Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das Alte
Testament, Giessen, 1883, early chapters; also article Babylonia in
the Encyclopedia Britannica; as to similar approval of creation by the
Creator in both accounts, see George Smith, p. 73; as to the migration
of the Babylonian legends to the Hebrews, see Schrader, Whitehouse's
translation, pp. 44,45; as to the Chaldaean belief ina solid firmament,
while Schrader in 1883 thought it not proved, Jensen in 1890 has found
it clearly expresses--see his Kosmologie der Babylonier, pp.9 et seq.,
also pp. 304-306, and elsewhere. Dr. Lukas in 1893 also fully accepts
this view of a Chaldean record of a "firmament"--see Kosmologie, pp.
43, etc.; see also Maspero and Sayce, the Dawn of Civilization, and for
crude early ideas of evolution in Egypt, see ibid., pp. 156 et seq.

For the seven-day week among the Chaldeans and rest on the seventh day,
and the proof that even the name "Sabbath" is of Chaldean origin, see
Delitzsch, Beiga-ben zu Smith's Chald. Genesis, pp. 300 and 306; also
Schrader; for St. Basil, see Hexaemeron and Homilies vii-ix; but for the
steadfastness of Basil's view in regard to the immutability of species,
see a Catholic writer on evolution and Faith in the Dublin Review for
July, 1871, p. 13; for citations of St. Augustine on Genesis, see the De
Genesi contra Manichoeos, lib. ii, cap. 14, in Migne, xxxiv, 188,--lib.
v, cap. 5 and cap. 23,--and lib vii, cap I; for the citations from his
work on the Trinity, see his De Trinitate, lib. iii, cap. 8 and 9, in
Migne, xlii, 877, 878; for the general subject very fully and adequately
presented, see Osborn, From the Greeks to Darwin, New York, 1894, chaps.
ii and iii.

This idea of a development by secondary causes apart from the original
creation was helped in its growth by a theological exigency. More and
more, as the organic world was observed, the vast multitude of petty
animals, winged creatures, and "creeping things" was felt to be a
strain upon the sacred narrative. More and more it became difficult to
reconcile the dignity of the Almighty with his work in bringing each
of these creatures before Adam to be named; or to reconcile the human
limitations of Adam with his work in naming "every living creature"; or
to reconcile the dimensions of Noah's ark with the space required for
preserving all of them, and the food of all sorts necessary for their
sustenance, whether they were admitted by twos, as stated in one
scriptural account, or by sevens, as stated in the other.

The inadequate size of the ark gave especial trouble. Origen had dealt
with it by suggesting that the cubit was six times greater than had been
supposed. Bede explained Noah's ability to complete so large a vessel by
supposing that he worked upon it during a hundred years; and, as to the
provision of food taken into it, he declared that there was no need of
a supply for more than one day, since God could throw the animals into
a deep sleep or otherwise miraculously make one day's supply sufficient;
he also lessened the strain on faith still more by diminishing
the number of animals taken into the ark--supporting his view upon
Augustine's theory of the later development of insects out of carrion.

Doubtless this theological necessity was among the main reasons which
led St. Isidore of Seville, in the seventh century, to incorporate
this theory, supported by St. Basil and St. Augustine, into his great
encyclopedic work which gave materials for thought on God and Nature to
so many generations. He familiarized the theological world still further
with the doctrine of secondary creation, giving such examples of it as
that "bees are generated from decomposed veal, beetles from horseflesh,
grasshoppers from mules, scorpions from crabs," and, in order to give
still stronger force to the idea of such transformations, he dwells
on the biblical account of Nebuchadnezzar, which appears to have taken
strong hold upon medieval thought in science, and he declares that
other human beings had been changed into animals, especially into swine,
wolves, and owls.

This doctrine of after-creations went on gathering strength until, in
the twelfth century, Peter Lombard, in his theological summary, The
Sentences, so powerful in moulding the thought of the Church, emphasized
the distinction between animals which spring from carrion and those
which are created from earth and water; the former he holds to have been
created "potentially" the latter "actually."

In the century following, this idea was taken up by St. Thomas Aquinas
and virtually received from him its final form. In the Summa, which
remains the greatest work of medieval thought, he accepts the idea that
certain animals spring from the decaying bodies of plants and animals,
and declares that they are produced by the creative word of God either
actually or virtually. He develops this view by saying, "Nothing was
made by God, after the six days of creation, absolutely new, but it was
in some sense included in the work of the six days"; and that "even
new species, if any appear, have existed before in certain native
properties, just as animals are produced from putrefaction."

The distinction thus developed between creation "causally" or
"potentially," and "materially" or "formally," was made much of by
commentators afterward. Cornelius a Lapide spread it by saying that
certain animals were created not "absolutely," but only "derivatively,"
and this thought was still further developed three centuries later by
Augustinus Eugubinus, who tells us that, after the first creative energy
had called forth land and water, light was made by the Almighty, the
instrument of all future creation, and that the light called everything
into existence.

All this "science falsely so called," so sedulously developed by the
master minds of the Church, and yet so futile that we might almost
suppose that the great apostle, in a glow of prophetic vision, had
foreseen it in his famous condemnation, seems at this distance very
harmless indeed; yet, to many guardians of the "sacred deposit of
doctrine" in the Church, even so slight a departure from the main
current of thought seemed dangerous. It appeared to them like pressing
the doctrine of secondary causes to a perilous extent; and about the
beginning of the seventeenth century we have the eminent Spanish Jesuit
and theologian Suarez denouncing it, and declaring St. Augustine a
heretic for his share in it.

But there was little danger to the older idea just then; the main
theological tendency was so strong that the world kept on as of old.
Biblical theology continued to spin its own webs out of its own bowels,
and all the lesser theological flies continued to be entangled in them;
yet here and there stronger thinkers broke loose from this entanglement
and helped somewhat to disentangle others.(20)

     (20) For Bede's view of the ark and the origin of insects, see his
Hexaemeron, i and ii; for Isidore, see the Etymologiae, xi, 4, and xiii,
22; for Peter Lombard, see Sent., lib. ii, dist. xv, 4 (in Migne,
cxcii, 682); for St. Thomas Aquinas as to the laws of Nature, see Summae
Theologica, i, Quaest. lxvii, art. iv; for his discussion on Avicenna's
theory of the origin of animals, see ibid., i Quaest. lxxi, vol. i,
pp. 1184 and 1185, of Migne's edit.; for his idea as to the word of God
being the active producing principle, see ibid., i, Quaest. lxxi, art.
i; for his remarks on species, see ibid, i, Quaest. lxxii, art. i;
for his ideas on the necessity of the procreation of man, see ibid, i,
Quaest. lxxii, art. i; for the origin of animals from putrefaction,
see ibid, i, Quaest. lxxix, art. i, 3; for Cornelius a Lapide on the
derivative creation of animals, see his In Genesim Comment., cap. i,
cited by Mivart, Genesis of Species, p. 282; for a reference to Suarez's
denunciation of the view of St. Augustine, see Huxley's Essays.

At the close of the Middle Ages, in spite of the devotion of the
Reformed Church to the letter of Scripture, the revival of learning and
the great voyages gave an atmosphere in which better thinking on the
problems of Nature began to gain strength. On all sides, in every field,
men were making discoveries which caused the general theological view to
appear more and more inadequate.

First of those who should be mentioned with reverence as beginning to
develop again that current of Greek thought which the system drawn
from our sacred books by the fathers and doctors of the Church had
interrupted for more than a thousand years, was Giordano Bruno. His
utterances were indeed vague and enigmatical, but this fault may well be
forgiven him, for he saw but too clearly what must be his reward for
any more open statements. His reward indeed came--even for his faulty
utterances--when, toward the end of the nineteenth century, thoughtful
men from all parts of the world united in erecting his statue on the
spot where he had been burned by the Roman Inquisition nearly three
hundred years before.

After Bruno's death, during the first half of the seventeenth century,
Descartes seemed about to take the leadership of human thought: his
theories, however superseded now, gave a great impulse to investigation
then. His genius in promoting an evolution doctrine as regards the
mechanical formation of the solar system was great, and his mode of
thought strengthened the current of evolutionary doctrine generally; but
his constant dread of persecution, both from Catholics and Protestants,
led him steadily to veil his thoughts and even to suppress them. The
execution of Bruno had occurred in his childhood, and in the midst of
his career he had watched the Galileo struggle in all its stages. He had
seen his own works condemned by university after university under the
direction of theologians, and placed upon the Roman Index. Although
he gave new and striking arguments to prove the existence of God, and
humbled himself before the Jesuits, he was condemned by Catholics and
Protestants alike. Since Roger Bacon, perhaps, no great thinker had been
so completely abased and thwarted by theological oppression.

Near the close of the same century another great thinker, Leibnitz,
though not propounding any full doctrine on evolution, gave it an
impulse by suggesting a view contrary to the sacrosanct belief in the
immutability of species--that is, to the pious doctrine that every
species in the animal kingdom now exists as it left the hands of the
Creator, the naming process by Adam, and the door of Noah's ark.

His punishment at the hands of the Church came a few years later, when,
in 1712, the Jesuits defeated his attempt to found an Academy of Science
at Vienna. The imperial authorities covered him with honours, but the
priests--ruling in the confessionals and pulpits--would not allow
him the privilege of aiding his fellow-men to ascertain God's truths
revealed in Nature.

Spinoza, Hume, and Kant may also be mentioned as among those whose
thinking, even when mistaken, might have done much to aid in the
development of a truer theory had not the theologic atmosphere of their
times been so unpropitious; but a few years after Leibnitz's death came
in France a thinker in natural science of much less influence than any
of these, who made a decided step forward.

Early in the eighteenth century Benoist de Maillet, a man of the world,
but a wide observer and close thinker upon Nature, began meditating
especially upon the origin of animal forms, and was led into the idea of
the transformation of species and so into a theory of evolution, which
in some important respects anticipated modern ideas. He definitely,
though at times absurdly, conceived the production of existing species
by the modification of their predecessors, and he plainly accepted one
of the fundamental maxims of modern geology--that the structure of the
globe must be studied in the light of the present course of Nature.

But he fell between two ranks of adversaries. On one side, the Church
authorities denounced him as a freethinker; on the other, Voltaire
ridiculed him as a devotee. Feeling that his greatest danger was from
the orthodox theologians, De Maillet endeavoured to protect himself
by disguising his name in the title of his book, and by so wording its
preface and dedication that, if persecuted, he could declare it a mere
sport of fancy; he therefore announced it as the reverie of a Hindu sage
imparted to a Christian missionary. But this strategy availed nothing:
he had allowed his Hindu sage to suggest that the days of creation named
in Genesis might be long periods of time; and this, with other ideas of
equally fearful import, was fatal. Though the book was in type in 1735,
it was not published till 1748--three years after his death.

On the other hand, the heterodox theology of Voltaire was also aroused;
and, as De Maillet had seen in the presence of fossils on high mountains
a proof that these mountains were once below the sea, Voltaire,
recognising in this an argument for the deluge of Noah, ridiculed the
new thinker without mercy. Unfortunately, some of De Maillet's vagaries
lent themselves admirably to Voltaire's sarcasm; better material for it
could hardly be conceived than the theory, seriously proposed, that the
first human being was born of a mermaid.

Hence it was that, between these two extremes of theology, De Maillet
received no recognition until, very recently, the greatest men of
science in England and France have united in giving him his due. But
his work was not lost, even in his own day; Robinet and Bonnet pushed
forward victoriously on helpful lines.

In the second half of the eighteenth century a great barrier was thrown
across this current--the authority of Linnaeus. He was the most eminent
naturalist of his time, a wide observer, a close thinker; but the
atmosphere in which he lived and moved and had his being was saturated
with biblical theology, and this permeated all his thinking.

He who visits the tomb of Linnaeus to-day, entering the beautiful
cathedral of Upsala by its southern porch, sees above it, wrought in
stone, the Hebrew legend of creation. In a series of medallions, the
Almighty--in human form--accomplishes the work of each creative day. In
due order he puts in place the solid firmament with the waters above it,
the sun, moon, and stars within it, the beasts, birds, and plants below
it, and finishes his task by taking man out of a little hillock of "the
earth beneath," and woman out of man's side. Doubtless Linnaeus, as he
went to his devotions, often smiled at this childlike portrayal. Yet
he was never able to break away from the idea it embodied. At times, in
face of the difficulties which beset the orthodox theory, he ventured
to favour some slight concessions. Toward the end of his life he timidly
advanced the hypothesis that all the species of one genus constituted
at the creation one species; and from the last edition of his Systema
Naturae he quietly left out the strongly orthodox statement of the
fixity of each species, which he had insisted upon in his earlier works.
But he made no adequate declaration. What he might expect if he openly
and decidedly sanctioned a newer view he learned to his cost; warnings
came speedily both from the Catholic and Protestant sides.

At a time when eminent prelates of the older Church were eulogizing
debauched princes like Louis XV, and using the unspeakably obscene
casuistry of the Jesuit Sanchez in the education of the priesthood as to
the relations of men to women, the modesty of the Church authorities was
so shocked by Linnaeus's proofs of a sexual system in plants that for
many years his writings were prohibited in the Papal States and in
various other parts of Europe where clerical authority was strong enough
to resist the new scientific current. Not until 1773 did one of the
more broad-minded cardinals--Zelanda--succeed in gaining permission that
Prof. Minasi should discuss the Linnaean system at Rome.

And Protestantism was quite as oppressive. In a letter to Eloius,
Linnaeus tells of the rebuke given to science by one of the great
Lutheran prelates of Sweden, Bishop Svedberg. From various parts of
Europe detailed statements had been sent to the Royal Academy of Science
that water had been turned into blood, and well-meaning ecclesiastics
had seen in this an indication of the wrath of God, certainly against
the regions in which these miracles had occurred and possibly against
the whole world. A miracle of this sort appearing in Sweden, Linnaeus
looked into it carefully and found that the reddening of the water
was caused by dense masses of minute insects. News of this explanation
having reached the bishop, he took the field against it; he denounced
this scientific discovery as "a Satanic abyss" (abyssum Satanae), and
declared "The reddening of the water is NOT natural," and "when God
allows such a miracle to take place Satan endeavours, and so do his
ungodly, self-reliant, self-sufficient, and worldly tools, to make it
signify nothing." In face of this onslaught Linnaeus retreated; he tells
his correspondent that "it is difficult to say anything in this matter,"
and shields himself under the statement "It is certainly a miracle that
so many millions of creatures can be so suddenly propagated," and "it
shows undoubtedly the all-wise power of the Infinite."

The great naturalist, grown old and worn with labours for science, could
no longer resist the contemporary theology; he settled into obedience
to it, and while the modification of his early orthodox view was, as we
have seen, quietly imbedded in the final edition of his great work, he
made no special effort to impress it upon the world. To all appearance
he continued to adhere to the doctrine that all existing species had
been created by the Almighty "in the beginning," and that since "the
beginning" no new species had appeared.

Yet even his great authority could not arrest the swelling tide;
more and more vast became the number of species, more and more
incomprehensible under the old theory became the newly ascertained
facts in geographical distribution, more and more it was felt that the
universe and animated beings had come into existence by some process
other than a special creation "in the beginning," and the question was
constantly pressing, "By WHAT process?"

Throughout the whole of the eighteenth century one man was at work on
natural history who might have contributed much toward an answer to this
question: this man was Buffon. His powers of research and thought were
remarkable, and his gift in presenting results of research and thought
showed genius. He had caught the idea of an evolution in Nature by the
variation of species, and was likely to make a great advance with it;
but he, too, was made to feel the power of theology.

As long as he gave pleasing descriptions of animals the Church petted
him, but when he began to deduce truths of philosophical import the
batteries of the Sorbonne were opened upon him; he was made to know that
"the sacred deposit of truth committed to the Church" was, that "in the
beginning God made the heavens and the earth" and that "all things were
made at the beginning of the world." For his simple statement of truths
in natural science which are to-day truisms, he was, as we have seen,
dragged forth by the theological faculty, forced to recant publicly, and
to print his recantation. In this he announced, "I abandon everything in
my book respecting the formation of the earth, and generally all which
may be contrary to the narrative of Moses."(21)

     (21) For Descartes and his relation to the Copernican theory, see
Saisset, Descartes et ses Precurseurs; also Fouillee, Descartes, Paris,
1893, chaps. ii and iii; also other authorities cited in my chapter
on Astronomy; for his relation to the theory of evolution, see the
Principes de Philosophie, 3eme partie, S 45. For de Maillet, see
Quatrefages, Darwin et ses Precurseurs francais, chap i, citing
D'Archiac, Paleontologie, Stratigraphie, vol. i; also, Perrier, La
Philosophie zoologique avant Darwin, chap. vi; also the admirable
article Evolution, by Huxley, in Ency. Brit. The title of De Maillet's
book is Telliamed, ou Entretiens d'un Philosophe indien avec un
Missionaire francais sur la Diminution de la Mer, 1748, 1756. For
Buffon, see the authorities previously given, also the chapter on
Geology in this work. For the resistance of both Catholic and Protestant
authorities to the Linnaean system and ideas, see Alberg, Life of
Linnaeus, London, 1888, pp. 143-147, and 237. As to the creation
medallions at the Cathedral of Upsala, it is a somewhat curious
coincidence that the present writer came upon them while visiting that
edifice during the preparation of this chapter.

But all this triumph of the Chaldeo-Babylonian creation legends which
the Church had inherited availed but little.

For about the end of the eighteenth century fruitful suggestions and
even clear presentations of this or that part of a large evolutionary
doctrine came thick and fast, and from the most divergent quarters.
Especially remarkable were those which came from Erasmus Darwin in
England, from Maupertuis in France, from Oken in Switzerland, and from
Herder, and, most brilliantly of all, from Goethe in Germany.

Two men among these thinkers must be especially mentioned--Treviranus in
Germany and Lamarck in France; each independently of the other drew the
world more completely than ever before in this direction.

From Treviranus came, in 1802, his work on biology, and in this he gave
forth the idea that from forms of life originally simple had arisen all
higher organizations by gradual development; that every living feature
has a capacity for receiving modifications of its structure from
external influences; and that no species had become really extinct, but
that each had passed into some other species. From Lamarck came
about the same time his Researches, and a little later his Zoological
Philosophy, which introduced a new factor into the process of
evolution--the action of the animal itself in its efforts toward a
development to suit new needs--and he gave as his principal conclusions
the following:

1. Life tends to increase the volume of each living body and of all its
parts up to a limit determined by its own necessities.

2. New wants in animals give rise to new organs.

3. The development of these organs is in proportion to their employment.

4. New developments may be transmitted to offspring.

His well-known examples to illustrate these views, such as that of
successive generations of giraffes lengthening their necks by stretching
them to gather high-growing foliage, and of successive generations of
kangaroos lengthening and strengthening their hind legs by the necessity
of keeping themselves erect while jumping, provoked laughter, but
the very comicality of these illustrations aided to fasten his main
conclusion in men's memories.

In both these statements, imperfect as they were, great truths were
embodied--truths which were sure to grow.

Lamarck's declaration, especially, that the development of organs is in
ratio to their employment, and his indications of the reproduction
in progeny of what is gained or lost in parents by the influence of
circumstances, entered as a most effective force into the development of
the evolution theory.

The next great successor in the apostolate of this idea of the universe
was Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. As early as 1795 he had begun to form a
theory that species are various modifications of the same type, and this
theory he developed, testing it at various stages as Nature was more
and more displayed to him. It fell to his lot to bear the brunt in a
struggle against heavy odds which lasted many years.

For the man who now took up the warfare, avowedly for science
but unconsciously for theology, was the foremost naturalist then
living--Cuvier. His scientific eminence was deserved; the highest
honours of his own and other countries were given him, and he bore
them worthily. An Imperial Councillor under Napoleon; President of the
Council of Public Instruction and Chancellor of the University under
the restored Bourbons; Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour, a Peer of
France, Minister of the Interior, and President of the Council of State
under Louis Philippe; he was eminent in all these capacities, and yet
the dignity given by such high administrative positions was as nothing
compared to his leadership in natural science. Science throughout the
world acknowledged in him its chief contemporary ornament, and to this
hour his fame rightly continues. But there was in him, as in Linnaeus,
a survival of certain theological ways of looking at the universe and
certain theological conceptions of a plan of creation; it must be said,
too, that while his temperament made him distrust new hypotheses, of
which he had seen so many born and die, his environment as a great
functionary of state, honoured, admired, almost adored by the greatest,
not only in the state but in the Church, his solicitude lest science
should receive some detriment by openly resisting the Church, which
had recaptured Europe after the French Revolution, and had made of its
enemies its footstool--all these considerations led him to oppose the
new theory. Amid the plaudits, then, of the foremost church-men he
threw across the path of the evolution doctrines the whole mass of
his authority in favour of the old theory of catastrophic changes and
special creations.

Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire stoutly withstood him, braving non-recognition,
ill-treatment, and ridicule. Treviranus, afar off in his mathematical
lecture-room at Bremen, seemed simply forgotten.

But the current of evolutionary thought could not thus be checked:
dammed up for a time, it broke out in new channels and in ways and
places least expected; turned away from France, it appeared especially
in England, where great paleontologists and geologists arose whose work
culminated in that of Lyell. Specialists throughout all the world now
became more vigorous than ever, gathering facts and thinking upon them
in a way which caused the special creation theory to shrink more and
more. Broader and more full became these various rivulets, soon to unite
in one great stream of thought.

In 1813 Dr. Wells developed a theory of evolution by natural selection
to account for varieties in the human race. About 1820 Dean Herbert,
eminent as an authority in horticulture, avowed his conviction that
species are but fixed varieties. In 1831 Patrick Matthews stumbled upon
and stated the main doctrine of natural selection in evolution; and
others here and there, in Europe and America, caught an inkling of it.

But no one outside of a circle apparently uninfluential cared for
these things: the Church was serene: on the Continent it had obtained
reactionary control of courts, cabinets, and universities; in England,
Dean Cockburn was denouncing Mary Somerville and the geologists to the
delight of churchmen; and the Rev. Mellor Brown was doing the same thing
for the edification of dissenters.

In America the mild suggestions of Silliman and his compeers were met
by the protestations of the Andover theologians headed by Moses Stuart.
Neither of the great English universities, as a rule, took any notice of
the innovators save by sneers.

To this current of thought there was joined a new element when, in
1844, Robert Chambers published his Vestiges of Creation. The book was
attractive and was widely read. In Chambers's view the several series of
animated beings, from the simplest and oldest up to the highest and most
recent, were the result of two distinct impulses, each given once and
for all time by the Creator. The first of these was an impulse imparted
to forms of life, lifting them gradually through higher grades; the
second was an impulse tending to modify organic substances in accordance
with external circumstances; in fact, the doctrine of the book was
evolution tempered by miracle--a stretching out of the creative act
through all time--a pious version of Lamarck.

Two results followed, one mirth-provoking, the other leading to serious
thought. The amusing result was that the theologians were greatly
alarmed by the book: it was loudly insisted that it promoted atheism.
Looking back along the line of thought which has since been developed,
one feels that the older theologians ought to have put up thanksgivings
for Chambers's theory, and prayers that it might prove true. The
more serious result was that it accustomed men's minds to a belief in
evolution as in some form possible or even probable. In this way it was
provisionally of service.

Eight years later Herbert Spencer published an essay contrasting the
theories of creation and evolution--reasoning with great force in favour
of the latter, showing that species had undoubtedly been modified by
circumstances; but still only few and chosen men saw the significance
of all these lines of reasoning which had been converging during so many
years toward one conclusion.

On July 1, 1858, there were read before the Linnaean Society at London
two papers--one presented by Charles Darwin, the other by Alfred Russel
Wallace--and with the reading of these papers the doctrine of evolution
by natural selection was born. Then and there a fatal breach was made in
the great theological barrier of the continued fixity of species since
the creation.

The story of these papers the scientific world knows by heart: how
Charles Darwin, having been sent to the University of Cambridge to
fit him for the Anglican priesthood, left it in 1831 to go upon the
scientific expedition of the Beagle; how for five years he studied with
wonderful vigour and acuteness the problems of life as revealed on
land and at sea--among volcanoes and coral reefs, in forests and on the
sands, from the tropics to the arctic regions; how, in the Cape Verde
and the Galapagos Islands, and in Brazil, Patagonia, and Australia
he interrogated Nature with matchless persistency and skill; how he
returned unheralded, quietly settled down to his work, and soon set the
world thinking over its first published results, such as his book on
Coral Reefs, and the monograph on the Cirripedia; and, finally, how he
presented his paper, and followed it up with treatises which made him
one of the great leaders in the history of human thought.

The scientific world realizes, too, more and more, the power of
character shown by Darwin in all this great career; the faculty of
silence, the reserve of strength seen in keeping his great thought--his
idea of evolution by natural selection--under silent study and
meditation for nearly twenty years, giving no hint of it to the world
at large, but working in every field to secure proofs or disproofs,
and accumulating masses of precious material for the solution of the
questions involved.

To one man only did he reveal his thought--to Dr. Joseph Hooker, to
whom in 1844, under the seal of secrecy, he gave a summary of his
conclusions. Not until fourteen years later occurred the event which
showed him that the fulness of time had come--the letter from Alfred
Russel Wallace, to whom, in brilliant researches during the decade from
1848 to 1858, in Brazil and in the Malay Archipelago, the same truth of
evolution by natural selection had been revealed. Among the proofs that
scientific study does no injury to the more delicate shades of sentiment
is the well-known story of this letter. With it Wallace sent Darwin a
memoir, asking him to present it to the Linnaean Society: on examining
it, Darwin found that Wallace had independently arrived at conclusions
similar to his own--possibly had deprived him of fame; but Darwin was
loyal to his friend, and his friend remained ever loyal to him. He
publicly presented the paper from Wallace, with his own conclusions; and
the date of this presentation--July 1, 1858--separates two epochs in the
history, not merely of natural science, but of human thought.

In the following year, 1859, came the first instalment of his work in
its fuller development--his book on The Origin of Species. In this
book one at least of the main secrets at the heart of the evolutionary
process, which had baffled the long line of investigators and
philosophers from the days of Aristotle, was more broadly revealed. The
effective mechanism of evolution was shown at work in three ascertained
facts: in the struggle for existence among organized beings; in the
survival of the fittest; and in heredity. These facts were presented
with such minute research, wide observation, patient collation,
transparent honesty, and judicial fairness, that they at once commanded
the world's attention. It was the outcome of thirty years' work and
thought by a worker and thinker of genius, but it was yet more than
that--it was the outcome, also, of the work and thought of another man
of genius fifty years before. The book of Malthus on the Principle
of Population, mainly founded on the fact that animals increase in a
geometrical ratio, and therefore, if unchecked, must encumber the earth,
had been generally forgotten, and was only recalled with a sneer. But
the genius of Darwin recognised in it a deeper meaning, and now the
thought of Malthus was joined to the new current. Meditating upon it in
connection with his own observations of the luxuriance of Nature, Darwin
had arrived at his doctrine of natural selection and survival of the

As the great dogmatic barrier between the old and new views of the
universe was broken down, the flood of new thought pouring over the
world stimulated and nourished strong growths in every field of research
and reasoning: edition after edition of the book was called for; it
was translated even into Japanese and Hindustani; the stagnation of
scientific thought, which Buckle, only a few years before, had so deeply
lamented, gave place to a widespread and fruitful activity; masses of
accumulated observations, which had seemed stale and unprofitable,
were made alive; facts formerly without meaning now found their
interpretation. Under this new influence an army of young men took
up every promising line of scientific investigation in every land.
Epoch-making books appeared in all the great nations. Spencer, Wallace,
Huxley, Galton, Tyndall, Tylor, Lubbock, Bagehot, Lewes, in England,
and a phalanx of strong men in Germany, Italy, France, and America gave
forth works which became authoritative in every department of biology.
If some of the older men in France held back, overawed perhaps by the
authority of Cuvier, the younger and more vigorous pressed on.

One source of opposition deserves to be especially mentioned--Louis

A great investigator, an inspired and inspiring teacher, a noble man, he
had received and elaborated a theory of animated creation which he could
not readily change. In his heart and mind still prevailed the atmosphere
of the little Swiss parsonage in which he was born, and his religious
and moral nature, so beautiful to all who knew him, was especially
repelled by sundry evolutionists, who, in their zeal as neophytes, made
proclamations seeming to have a decidedly irreligious if not immoral
bearing. In addition to this was the direction his thinking had received
from Cuvier. Both these influences combined to prevent his acceptance of
the new view.

He was the third great man who had thrown his influence as a barrier
across the current of evolutionary thought. Linnaeus in the second half
of the eighteenth century, Cuvier in the first half, and Agassiz in the
second half of the nineteenth--all made the same effort. Each remains
great; but not all of them together could arrest the current. Agassiz's
strong efforts throughout the United States, and indeed throughout
Europe, to check it, really promoted it. From the great museum he had
founded at Cambridge, from his summer school at Penikese, from his
lecture rooms at Harvard and Cornell, his disciples went forth full of
love and admiration for him, full of enthusiasm which he had stirred
and into fields which he had indicated; but their powers, which he had
aroused and strengthened, were devoted to developing the truth he failed
to recognise; Shaler, Verrill, Packard, Hartt, Wilder, Jordan, with a
multitude of others, and especially the son who bore his honoured name,
did justice to his memory by applying what they had received from him to
research under inspiration of the new revelation.

Still another man deserves especial gratitude and honour in this
progress--Edward Livingston Youmans. He was perhaps the first in America
to recognise the vast bearings of the truths presented by Darwin,
Wallace, and Spencer. He became the apostle of these truths, sacrificing
the brilliant career on which he had entered as a public lecturer,
subordinating himself to the three leaders, and giving himself to
editorial drudgery in the stimulation of research and the announcement
of results.

In support of the new doctrine came a world of new proofs; those which
Darwin himself added in regard to the cross-fertilization of plants,
and which he had adopted from embryology, led the way, and these were
followed by the discoveries of Wallace, Bates, Huxley, Marsh, Cope,
Leidy, Haeckel, Muller, Gaudry, and a multitude of others in all

     (22) For Agassiz's opposition to evolution, see the Essay on
Classification, vol. i, 1857, as regards Lamark, and vol. iii, as
regards Darwin; also Silliman's Journal, July 1860; also the Atlantic
Monthly, January 1874; also his Life and Correspondence, vol. ii, p.
647; also Asa Gray, Scientific Papers, vol. ii, p. 484. A reminiscence
of my own enables me to appreciate his deep ethical and religious
feeling. I was passing the day with him at Nahant in 1868, consulting
him regarding candidates for various scientific chairs at the newly
established Cornell University, in which he took a deep interest. As we
discussed one after another of the candidates, he suddenly said: "Who is
to be your Professor of Moral Philosophy? That is a far more important
position than all the others."


Darwin's Origin of Species had come into the theological world like
a plough into an ant-hill. Everywhere those thus rudely awakened from
their old comfort and repose had swarmed forth angry and confused.
Reviews, sermons, books light and heavy, came flying at the new thinker
from all sides.

The keynote was struck at once in the Quarterly Review by Wilberforce,
Bishop of Oxford. He declared that Darwin was guilty of "a tendency to
limit God's glory in creation"; that "the principle of natural selection
is absolutely incompatible with the word of God"; that it "contradicts
the revealed relations of creation to its Creator"; that it is
"inconsistent with the fulness of his glory"; that it is "a dishonouring
view of Nature"; and that there is "a simpler explanation of the
presence of these strange forms among the works of God": that
explanation being--"the fall of Adam." Nor did the bishop's efforts end
here; at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement
of Science he again disported himself in the tide of popular applause.
Referring to the ideas of Darwin, who was absent on account of illness,
he congratulated himself in a public speech that he was not descended
from a monkey. The reply came from Huxley, who said in substance: "If
I had to choose, I would prefer to be a descendant of a humble monkey
rather than of a man who employs his knowledge and eloquence in
misrepresenting those who are wearing out their lives in the search for

This shot reverberated through England, and indeed through other

The utterances of this the most brilliant prelate of the Anglican Church
received a sort of antiphonal response from the leaders of the English
Catholics. In an address before the "Academia," which had been organized
to combat "science falsely so called," Cardinal Manning declared his
abhorrence of the new view of Nature, and described it as "a brutal
philosophy--to wit, there is no God, and the ape is our Adam."

These attacks from such eminent sources set the clerical fashion for
several years. One distinguished clerical reviewer, in spite of Darwin's
thirty years of quiet labour, and in spite of the powerful summing up
of his book, prefaced a diatribe by saying that Darwin "might have been
more modest had he given some slight reason for dissenting from
the views generally entertained." Another distinguished clergyman,
vice-president of a Protestant institute to combat "dangerous" science,
declared Darwinism "an attempt to dethrone God." Another critic spoke of
persons accepting the Darwinian views as "under the frenzied inspiration
of the inhaler of mephitic gas," and of Darwin's argument as "a jungle
of fanciful assumption." Another spoke of Darwin's views as suggesting
that "God is dead," and declared that Darwin's work "does open violence
to everything which the Creator himself has told us in the Scriptures
of the methods and results of his work." Still another theological
authority asserted: "If the Darwinian theory is true, Genesis is a
lie, the whole framework of the book of life falls to pieces, and the
revelation of God to man, as we Christians know it, is a delusion and
a snare." Another, who had shown excellent qualities as an observing
naturalist, declared the Darwinian view "a huge imposture from the

Echoes came from America. One review, the organ of the most widespread
of American religious sects, declared that Darwin was "attempting to
befog and to pettifog the whole question"; another denounced Darwin's
views as "infidelity"; another, representing the American branch of
the Anglican Church, poured contempt over Darwin as "sophistical and
illogical," and then plunged into an exceedingly dangerous line of
argument in the following words: "If this hypothesis be true, then is
the Bible an unbearable fiction;... then have Christians for nearly two
thousand years been duped by a monstrous lie.... Darwin requires us to
disbelieve the authoritative word of the Creator." A leading journal
representing the same church took pains to show the evolution theory to
be as contrary to the explicit declarations of the New Testament as to
those of the Old, and said: "If we have all, men and monkeys, oysters
and eagles, developed from an original germ, then is St. Paul's grand
deliverance--'All flesh is not the same flesh; there is one kind of
flesh of men, another of beasts, another of fishes, and another of

Another echo came from Australia, where Dr. Perry, Lord Bishop of
Melbourne, in a most bitter book on Science and the Bible, declared that
the obvious object of Chambers, Darwin, and Huxley is "to produce in
their readers a disbelief of the Bible."

Nor was the older branch of the Church to be left behind in this chorus.
Bayma, in the Catholic World, declared, "Mr. Darwin is, we have reason
to believe, the mouthpiece or chief trumpeter of that infidel clique
whose well-known object is to do away with all idea of a God."

Worthy of especial note as showing the determination of the theological
side at that period was the foundation of sacro-scientific organizations
to combat the new ideas. First to be noted is the "Academia," planned by
Cardinal Wiseman. In a circular letter the cardinal, usually so moderate
and just, sounded an alarm and summed up by saying, "Now it is for the
Church, which alone possesses divine certainty and divine discernment,
to place itself at once in the front of a movement which threatens even
the fragmentary remains of Christian belief in England." The necessary
permission was obtained from Rome, the Academia was founded, and the
"divine discernment" of the Church was seen in the utterances which
came from it, such as those of Cardinal Manning, which every thoughtful
Catholic would now desire to recall, and in the diatribes of Dr. Laing,
which only aroused laughter on all sides. A similar effort was seen in
Protestant quarters; the "Victoria institute" was created, and perhaps
the most noted utterance which ever came from it was the declaration of
its vice-president, the Rev. Walter Mitchell, that "Darwinism endeavours
to dethrone God."(23)

     (23) For Wilberforce's article, see Quarterly Review, July, 1860. For
the reply of Huxley to the bishop's speech I have relied on the account
given in Quatrefages, who had it from Carpenter; a somewhat different
version is given in the Life and Letters of Darwin. For Cardinal
Manning's attack, see Essays on Religion and Literature, London, 1865.
For the review articles, see the Quarterly already cited, and that
for July, 1874; also the North British Review, May 1860; also, F. O.
Morris's letter in the Record, reprinted at Glasgow, 1870; also the
Addresses of Rev. Walter Mitchell before the Victoria Institute, London,
1867; also Rev. B. G. Johns, Moses not Darwin, a Sermon, March 31, 1871.
For the earlier American attacks, see Methodist Quarterly Review, April
1871; The American Church Review, July and October, 1865, and January,
1866. For the Australian attack, see Science and the Bible, by the Right
Reverend Charles Perry, D. D., Bishop of Melbourne, London, 1869. For
Bayma, see the Catholic World, vol. xxvi, p.782. For the Academia, see
Essays edited by Cardinal Manning, above cited; and for the Victoria
Institute, see Scientia Scientarum, by a member of the Victoria
Institute, London, 1865.

In France the attack was even more violent. Fabre d'Envieu brought
out the heavy artillery of theology, and in a long series of elaborate
propositions demonstrated that any other doctrine than that of the
fixity and persistence of species is absolutely contrary to Scripture.
The Abbe Desorges, a former Professor of Theology, stigmatized Darwin as
a "pedant," and evolution as "gloomy". Monseigneur Segur, referring
to Darwin and his followers, went into hysterics and shrieked: "These
infamous doctrines have for their only support the most abject
passions. Their father is pride, their mother impurity, their offspring
revolutions. They come from hell and return thither, taking with them
the gross creatures who blush not to proclaim and accept them."

In Germany the attack, if less declamatory, was no less severe. Catholic
theologians vied with Protestants in bitterness. Prof. Michelis declared
Darwin's theory "a caricature of creation." Dr. Hagermann asserted that
it "turned the Creator out of doors."

Dr. Schund insisted that "every idea of the Holy Scriptures, from
the first to the last page, stands in diametrical opposition to
the Darwinian theory"; and, "if Darwin be right in his view of the
development of man out of a brutal condition, then the Bible teaching in
regard to man is utterly annihilated." Rougemont in Switzerland called
for a crusade against the obnoxious doctrine. Luthardt, Professor of
Theology at Leipsic, declared: "The idea of creation belongs to religion
and not to natural science; the whole superstructure of personal
religion is built upon the doctrine of creation"; and he showed the
evolution theory to be in direct contradiction to Holy Writ.

But in 1863 came an event which brought serious confusion to the
theological camp: Sir Charles Lyell, the most eminent of living
geologists, a man of deeply Christian feeling and of exceedingly
cautious temper, who had opposed the evolution theory of Lamarck
and declared his adherence to the idea of successive creations, then
published his work on the Antiquity of Man, and in this and other
utterances showed himself a complete though unwilling convert to the
fundamental ideas of Darwin. The blow was serious in many ways, and
especially so in two--first, as withdrawing all foundation in fact from
the scriptural chronology, and secondly, as discrediting the creation
theory. The blow was not unexpected; in various review articles against
the Darwinian theory there had been appeals to Lyell, at times almost
piteous, "not to flinch from the truths he had formerly proclaimed." But
Lyell, like the honest man he was, yielded unreservedly to the mass of
new proofs arrayed on the side of evolution against that of creation.

At the same time came Huxley's Man's Place in Nature, giving new and
most cogent arguments in favour of evolution by natural selection.

In 1871 was published Darwin's Descent of Man. Its doctrine had been
anticipated by critics of his previous books, but it made, none the
less, a great stir; again the opposing army trooped forth, though
evidently with much less heart than before. A few were very violent.
The Dublin University Magazine, after the traditional Hibernian fashion,
charged Mr. Darwin with seeking "to displace God by the unerring action
of vagary," and with being "resolved to hunt God out of the world." But
most notable from the side of the older Church was the elaborate
answer to Darwin's book by the eminent French Catholic physician, Dr.
Constantin James. In his work, On Darwinism, or the Man-Ape, published
at Paris in 1877, Dr. James not only refuted Darwin scientifically but
poured contempt on his book, calling it "a fairy tale," and insisted
that a work "so fantastic and so burlesque" was, doubtless, only a huge
joke, like Erasmus's Praise of Folly, or Montesquieu's Persian Letters.
The princes of the Church were delighted. The Cardinal Archbishop
of Paris assured the author that the book had become his "spiritual
reading," and begged him to send a copy to the Pope himself. His
Holiness, Pope Pius IX, acknowledged the gift in a remarkable letter. He
thanked his dear son, the writer, for the book in which he "refutes
so well the aberrations of Darwinism." "A system," His Holiness adds,
"which is repugnant at once to history, to the tradition of all peoples,
to exact science, to observed facts, and even to Reason herself, would
seem to need no refutation, did not alienation from God and the leaning
toward materialism, due to depravity, eagerly seek a support in all this
tissue of fables.... And, in fact, pride, after rejecting the Creator of
all things and proclaiming man independent, wishing him to be his own
king, his own priest, and his own God--pride goes so far as to degrade
man himself to the level of the unreasoning brutes, perhaps even of
lifeless matter, thus unconsciously confirming the Divine declaration,
WHEN PRIDE COMETH, THEN COMETH SHAME. But the corruption of this age,
the machinations of the perverse, the danger of the simple, demand that
such fancies, altogether absurd though they are, should--since they
borrow the mask of science--be refuted by true science." Wherefore the
Pope thanked Dr. James for his book, "so opportune and so perfectly
appropriate to the exigencies of our time," and bestowed on him the
apostolic benediction. Nor was this brief all. With it there came
a second, creating the author an officer of the Papal Order of St.
Sylvester. The cardinal archbishop assured the delighted physician that
such a double honour of brief and brevet was perhaps unprecedented, and
suggested only that in a new edition of his book he should "insist a
little more on the relation existing between the narratives of Genesis
and the discoveries of modern science, in such fashion as to convince
the most incredulous of their perfect agreement." The prelate urged also
a more dignified title. The proofs of this new edition were accordingly
all submitted to His Eminence, and in 1882 it appeared as Moses and
Darwin: the Man of Genesis compared with the Man-Ape, or Religious
Education opposed to Atheistic. No wonder the cardinal embraced the
author, thanking him in the name of science and religion. "We have at
last," he declared, "a handbook which we can safely put into the hands
of youth."

Scarcely less vigorous were the champions of English Protestant
orthodoxy. In an address at Liverpool, Mr. Gladstone remarked: "Upon
the grounds of what is termed evolution God is relieved of the labour
of creation; in the name of unchangeable laws he is discharged from
governing the world"; and, when Herbert Spencer called his attention
to the fact that Newton with the doctrine of gravitation and with the
science of physical astronomy is open to the same charge, Mr. Gladstone
retreated in the Contemporary Review under one of his characteristic
clouds of words. The Rev. Dr. Coles, in the British and Foreign
Evangelical Review, declared that the God of evolution is not the
Christian's God. Burgon, Dean of Chichester, in a sermon preached before
the University of Oxford, pathetically warned the students that "those
who refuse to accept the history of the creation of our first parents
according to its obvious literal intention, and are for substituting the
modern dream of evolution in its place, cause the entire scheme of man's
salvation to collapse." Dr. Pusey also came into the fray with most
earnest appeals against the new doctrine, and the Rev. Gavin Carlyle
was perfervid on the same side. The Society for Promoting Christian
Knowledge published a book by the Rev. Mr. Birks, in which the evolution
doctrine was declared to be "flatly opposed to the fundamental doctrine
of creation." Even the London Times admitted a review stigmatizing
Darwin's Descent of Man as an "utterly unsupported hypothesis," full of
"unsubstantiated premises, cursory investigations, and disintegrating
speculations," and Darwin himself as "reckless and unscientific."(24)

     (24) For the French theological opposition to the Darwinian theory, see
Pozzy, La Terre at le Recit Biblique de la Creation, 1874, especially
pp. 353, 363; also Felix Ducane, Etudes sur la Transformisme, 1876,
especially pp. 107 to 119. As to Fabre d'Envieu, see especially
his Proposition xliii. For the Abbe Desogres, "former Professor of
Philosophy and Theology," see his Erreurs Modernes, Paris, 1878, pp. 677
and 595 to 598. For Monseigneur Segur, see his La Foi devant la Science
Moderne, sixth ed., Paris, 1874, pp. 23, 34, etc. For Herbert Spencer's
reply to Mr. Gladstone, see his study of Sociology; for the passage in
the Dublin Review, see the issue for July, 1871. For the Review in the
London Times, see Nature for April 20, 1871. For Gavin Carlyle, see The
Battle of Unbelief, 1870, pp. 86 and 171. For the attacks by Michelis
and Hagermann, see Natur und Offenbarung, Munster, 1861 to 1869. For
Schund, see his Darwin's Hypothese und ihr Verhaaltniss zu Religion
und Moral, Stuttgart, 1869. For Luthardt, see Fundamental Truths of
Christianity, translated by Sophia Taylor, second ed., Edinburgh, 1869.
For Rougemont, see his L'Homme et le Singe, Neuchatel, 1863 (also
in German trans.). For Constantin James, see his Mes Entretiens avec
l'Empereur Don Pedro sur la Darwinisme, Paris, 1888, where the papal
briefs are printed in full. For the English attacks on Darwin's Descent
of Man, see the Edinburgh Review July, 1871 and elsewhere; the Dublin
Review, July, 1871; the British and Foreign Evangelical Review, April,
1886. See also The Scripture Doctrine of Creation, by the Rev. T.
R. Birks, London, 1873, published by the S. P. C. K. For Dr. Pusey's
attack, see his Unscience, not Science, adverse to Faith, 1878; also
Darwin's Life and Letters, vol. ii, pp. 411, 412.

But it was noted that this second series of attacks, on the Descent
of Man, differed in one remarkable respect--so far as England was
concerned--from those which had been made over ten years before on the
Origin of Species. While everything was done to discredit Darwin, to
pour contempt upon him, and even, of all things in the world, to make
him--the gentlest of mankind, only occupied with the scientific side of
the problem--"a persecutor of Christianity," while his followers were
represented more and more as charlatans or dupes, there began to be in
the most influential quarters careful avoidance of the old argument that
evolution--even by natural selection--contradicts Scripture.

It began to be felt that this was dangerous ground. The defection of
Lyell had, perhaps, more than anything else, started the question among
theologians who had preserved some equanimity, "WHAT IF, AFTER ALL, THE
DARWINIAN THEORY SHOULD PROVE TO BE TRUE?" Recollections of the position
in which the Roman Church found itself after the establishment of the
doctrines of Copernicus and Galileo naturally came into the minds of
the more thoughtful. In Germany this consideration does not seem to
have occurred at quite so early a day. One eminent Lutheran clergyman at
Magdeburg called on his hearers to choose between Darwin and religion;
Delitszch, in his new commentary on Genesis, attempted to bring science
back to recognise human sin as an important factor in creation; Prof.
Heinrich Ewald, while carefully avoiding any sharp conflict between the
scriptural doctrine and evolution, comforted himself by covering Darwin
and his followers with contempt; Christlieb, in his address before the
Evangelical Alliance at New York in 1873, simply took the view that
the tendencies of the Darwinian theory were "toward infidelity," but
declined to make any serious battle on biblical grounds; the Jesuit,
Father Pesch, in Holland, drew up in Latin, after the old scholastic
manner, a sort of general indictment of evolution, of which one may say
that it was interesting--as interesting as the display of a troop in
chain armour and with cross-bows on a nineteenth-century battlefield.

From America there came new echoes. Among the myriad attacks on the
Darwinian theory by Protestants and Catholics two should be especially
mentioned. The first of these was by Dr. Noah Porter, President of
Yale College, an excellent scholar, an interesting writer, a noble
man, broadly tolerant, combining in his thinking a curious mixture
of radicalism and conservatism. While giving great latitude to the
evolutionary teaching in the university under his care, he felt it his
duty upon one occasion to avow his disbelief in it; but he was too wise
a man to suggest any necessary antagonism between it and the Scriptures.
He confined himself mainly to pointing out the tendency of the evolution
doctrine in this form toward agnosticism and pantheism.

To those who knew and loved him, and had noted the genial way in which
by wise neglect he had allowed scientific studies to flourish at Yale,
there was an amusing side to all this. Within a stone's throw of his
college rooms was the Museum of Paleontology, in which Prof. Marsh
had laid side by side, among other evidences of the new truth, that
wonderful series of specimens showing the evolution of the horse from
the earliest form of the animal, "not larger than a fox, with five
toes," through the whole series up to his present form and size--that
series which Huxley declared an absolute proof of the existence of
natural selection as an agent in evolution. In spite of the veneration
and love which all Yale men felt for President Porter, it was hardly
to be expected that these particular arguments of his would have much
permanent effect upon them when there was constantly before their eyes
so convincing a refutation.

But a far more determined opponent was the Rev. Dr. Hodge, of Princeton;
his anger toward the evolution doctrine was bitter: he denounced it as
thoroughly "atheistic"; he insisted that Christians "have a right to
protest against the arraying of probabilities against the clear evidence
of the Scriptures"; he even censured so orthodox a writer as the Duke of
Argyll, and declared that the Darwinian theory of natural selection is
"utterly inconsistent with the Scriptures," and that "an absent God, who
does nothing, is to us no God"; that "to ignore design as manifested in
God's creation is to dethrone God"; that "a denial of design in Nature
is virtually a denial of God"; and that "no teleologist can be a
Darwinian." Even more uncompromising was another of the leading
authorities at the same university--the Rev. Dr. Duffield. He declared
war not only against Darwin but even against men like Asa Gray, Le
Conte, and others, who had attempted to reconcile the new theory with
the Bible: he insisted that "evolutionism and the scriptural account of
the origin of man are irreconcilable"--that the Darwinian theory is
"in direct conflict with the teaching of the apostle, 'All scripture
is given by inspiration of God'"; he pointed out, in his opposition to
Darwin's Descent of Man and Lyell's Antiquity of Man, that in the Bible
"the genealogical links which connect the Israelites in Egypt with
Adam and Eve in Eden are explicitly given." These utterances of Prof.
Duffield culminated in a declaration which deserves to be cited as
showing that a Presbyterian minister can "deal damnation round the land"
ex cathedra in a fashion quite equal to that of popes and bishops. It is
as follows: "If the development theory of the origin of man," wrote
Dr. Duffield in the Princeton Review, "shall in a little while take
its place--as doubtless it will--with other exploded scientific
speculations, then they who accept it with its proper logical
consequences will in the life to come have their portion with those who
in this life 'know not God and obey not the gospel of his Son.'"

Fortunately, at about the time when Darwin's Descent of Man was
published, there had come into Princeton University "deus ex machina"
in the person of Dr. James McCosh. Called to the presidency, he at once
took his stand against teachings so dangerous to Christianity as those
of Drs. Hodge, Duffield, and their associates. In one of his personal
confidences he has let us into the secret of this matter. With that hard
Scotch sense which Thackeray had applauded in his well-known verses, he
saw that the most dangerous thing which could be done to Christianity
at Princeton was to reiterate in the university pulpit, week after week,
solemn declarations that if evolution by natural selection, or indeed
evolution at all, be true, the Scriptures are false. He tells us that he
saw that this was the certain way to make the students unbelievers;
he therefore not only checked this dangerous preaching but preached an
opposite doctrine. With him began the inevitable compromise, and, in
spite of mutterings against him as a Darwinian, he carried the day.
Whatever may be thought of his general system of philosophy, no one can
deny his great service in neutralizing the teachings of his predecessors
and colleagues--so dangerous to all that is essential in Christianity.

Other divines of strong sense in other parts of the country began to
take similar ground--namely, that men could be Christians and at the
same time Darwinians. There appeared, indeed, here and there, curious
discrepancies: thus in 1873 the Monthly Religious Magazine of Boston
congratulated its readers that the Rev. Mr. Burr had "demolished the
evolution theory, knocking the breath of life out of it and throwing it
to the dogs." This amazing performance by the Rev. Mr. Burr was repeated
in a very striking way by Bishop Keener before the Oecumenical Council
of Methodism at Washington in 1891. In what the newspapers described
as an "admirable speech," he refuted evolution doctrines by saying that
evolutionists had "only to make a journey of twelve hours from the place
where he was then standing to find together the bones of the muskrat,
the opossum, the coprolite, and the ichthyosaurus." He asserted that
Agassiz--whom the good bishop, like so many others, seemed to think
an evolutionist--when he visited these beds near Charleston, declared:
"These old beds have set me crazy; they have destroyed the work of a
lifetime." And the Methodist prelate ended by saying: "Now, gentlemen,
brethren, take these facts home with you; get down and look at them.
This is the watch that was under the steam hammer--the doctrine of
evolution; and this steam hammer is the wonderful deposit of the Ashley
beds." Exhibitions like these availed little. While the good bishop amid
vociferous applause thus made comically evident his belief that Agassiz
was a Darwinian and a coprolite an animal, scientific men were recording
in all parts of the world facts confirming the dreaded theory of an
evolution by natural selection. While the Rev. Mr. Burr was so loudly
praised for "throwing Darwinism to the dogs," Marsh was completing his
series leading from the five-toed ungulates to the horse. While Dr.
Tayler Lewis at Union, and Drs. Hodge and Duffield at Princeton, were
showing that if evolution be true the biblical accounts must be false,
the indefatigable Yale professor was showing his cretaceous birds, and
among them Hesperornis and Ichthyornis with teeth. While in Germany
Luthardt, Schund, and their compeers were demonstrating that Scripture
requires a belief in special and separate creations, the Archaeopteryx,
showing a most remarkable connection between birds and reptiles, was

While in France Monseigneur Segur and others were indulging in diatribes
against "a certain Darwin," Gaudry and Filhol were discovering a
striking series of "missing links" among the carnivora. In view of the
proofs accumulating in favour of the new evolutionary hypothesis, the
change in the tone of controlling theologians was now rapid. From all
sides came evidences of desire to compromise with the theory. Strict
adherents of the biblical text pointed significantly to the verses in
Genesis in which the earth and sea were made to bring forth birds and
fishes, and man was created out of the dust of the ground. Men of larger
mind like Kingsley and Farrar, with English and American broad churchmen
generally, took ground directly in Darwin's favour. Even Whewell took
pains to show that there might be such a thing as a Darwinian argument
for design in Nature; and the Rev. Samuel Houghton, of the Royal
Society, gave interesting suggestions of a divine design in evolution.

Both the great English universities received the new teaching as a
leaven: at Oxford, in the very front of the High Church party at Keble
College, was elaborated a statement that the evolution doctrine is "an
advance in our theological thinking." And Temple, Bishop of London,
perhaps the most influential thinker then in the Anglican episcopate,
accepted the new revelation in the following words: "It seems something
more majestic, more befitting him to whom a thousand years are as one
day, thus to impress his will once for all on his creation, and provide
for all the countless varieties by this one original impress, than
by special acts of creation to be perpetually modifying what he had
previously made."

In Scotland the Duke of Argyll, head and front of the orthodox party,
dissenting in many respects from Darwin's full conclusions, made
concessions which badly shook the old position.

Curiously enough, from the Roman Catholic Church, bitter as some of its
writers had been, now came argument to prove that the Catholic faith
does not prevent any one from holding the Darwinian theory, and
especially a declaration from an authority eminent among American
Catholics--a declaration which has a very curious sound, but which it
would be ungracious to find fault with--that "the doctrine of evolution
is no more in opposition to the doctrine of the Catholic Church than is
the Copernican theory or that of Galileo."

Here and there, indeed, men of science like Dawson, Mivart, and Wigand,
in view of theological considerations, sought to make conditions; but
the current was too strong, and eminent theologians in every country
accepted natural selection as at least a very important part in the
mechanism of evolution.

At the death of Darwin it was felt that there was but one place in
England where his body should be laid, and that this place was next the
grave of Sir Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey. The noble address of
Canon Farrar at his funeral was echoed from many pulpits in Europe and
America, and theological opposition as such was ended. Occasionally
appeared, it is true, a survival of the old feeling: the Rev. Dr. Laing
referred to the burial of Darwin in Westminster Abbey as "a proof that
England is no longer a Christian country," and added that this burial
was a desecration--that this honour was given him because he had been
"the chief promoter of the mock doctrine of evolution of the species and
the ape descent of man."

Still another of these belated prophets was, of all men, Thomas Carlyle.
Soured and embittered, in the same spirit which led him to find more
heroism in a marauding Viking or in one of Frederick the Great's
generals than in Washington, or Lincoln, or Grant, and which caused him
to see in the American civil war only the burning out of a foul chimney,
he, with the petulance natural to a dyspeptic eunuch, railed at Darwin
as an "apostle of dirt worship."

The last echoes of these utterances reverberated between Scotland and
America. In the former country, in 1885, the Rev. Dr. Lee issued a
volume declaring that, if the Darwinian view be true, "there is no place
for God"; that "by no method of interpretation can the language of Holy
Scripture be made wide enough to re-echo the orang-outang theory of
man's natural history"; that "Darwinism reverses the revelation of God"
and "implies utter blasphemy against the divine and human character of
our Incarnate Lord"; and he was pleased to call Darwin and his followers
"gospellers of the gutter." In one of the intellectual centres
of America the editor of a periodical called The Christian urged
frantically that "the battle be set in array, and that men find out
who is on the Lord's side and who is on the side of the devil and the

To the honour of the Church of England it should be recorded that a
considerable number of her truest men opposed such utterances as these,
and that one of them--Farrar, Archdeacon of Westminster--made a protest
worthy to be held in perpetual remembrance. While confessing his own
inability to accept fully the new scientific belief, he said: "We should
consider it disgraceful and humiliating to try to shake it by an
ad captandum argument, or by a clap-trap platform appeal to the
unfathomable ignorance and unlimited arrogance of a prejudiced assembly.
We should blush to meet it with an anathema or a sneer."

All opposition had availed nothing; Darwin's work and fame were secure.
As men looked back over his beautiful life--simple, honest, tolerant,
kindly--and thought upon his great labours in the search for truth, all
the attacks faded into nothingness.

There were indeed some dark spots, which as time goes on appear darker.
At Trinity College, Cambridge, Whewell, the "omniscient," author of the
History of the Inductive Sciences, refused to allow a copy of the Origin
of Species to be placed in the library. At multitudes of institutions
under theological control--Protestant as well as Catholic--attempts were
made to stamp out or to stifle evolutionary teaching. Especially was
this true for a time in America, and the case of the American College
at Beyrout, where nearly all the younger professors were dismissed for
adhering to Darwin's views, is worthy of remembrance. The treatment of
Dr. Winchell at the Vanderbilt University in Tennessee showed the same
spirit; one of the truest of men, devoted to science but of deeply
Christian feeling, he was driven forth for views which centred in the
Darwinian theory.

Still more striking was the case of Dr. Woodrow. He had, about 1857,
been appointed to a professorship of Natural Science as connected with
Revealed Religion, in the Presbyterian Seminary at Columbia, South
Carolina. He was a devoted Christian man, and his training had led him
to accept the Presbyterian standards of faith. With great gifts
for scientific study he visited Europe, made a most conscientious
examination of the main questions under discussion, and adopted the
chief points in the doctrine of evolution by natural selection. A
struggle soon began. A movement hostile to him grew more and more
determined, and at last, in spite of the efforts made in his behalf by
the directors of the seminary and by a large and broad-minded minority
in the representative bodies controlling it, an orthodox storm, raised
by the delegates from various Presbyterian bodies, drove him from
his post. Fortunately, he was received into a professorship at the
University of South Carolina, where he has since taught with more power
than ever before.

This testimony to the faith by American provincial Protestantism was
very properly echoed from Spanish provincial Catholicism. In the year
1878 a Spanish colonial man of science, Dr. Chil y Marango, published a
work on the Canary Islands. But Dr. Chil had the imprudence to sketch,
in his introduction, the modern hypothesis of evolution, and to exhibit
some proofs, found in the Canary Islands, of the barbarism of primitive
man. The ecclesiastical authorities, under the lead of Bishop Urquinaona
y Bidot, at once grappled with this new idea. By a solemn act they
declared it "falsa, impia, scandalosa"; all persons possessing copies
of the work were ordered to surrender them at once to the
proper ecclesiastics, and the author was placed under the major

But all this opposition may be reckoned among the last expiring
convulsions of the old theologic theory. Even from the new Catholic
University at Washington has come an utterance in favour of the new
doctrine, and in other universities in the Old World and in the New the
doctrine of evolution by natural selection has asserted its right to
full and honest consideration. More than this, it is clearly evident
that the stronger men in the Church have, in these latter days, not
only relinquished the struggle against science in this field, but have
determined frankly and manfully to make an alliance with it. In two
very remarkable lectures given in 1892 at the parish church of Rochdale,
Wilson, Archdeacon of Manchester, not only accepted Darwinism as true,
but wrought it with great argumentative power into a higher view of
Christianity; and what is of great significance, these sermons were
published by the same Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge
which only a few years before had published the most bitter attacks
against the Darwinian theory. So, too, during the year 1893, Prof. Henry
Drummond, whose praise is in all the dissenting churches, developed a
similar view most brilliantly in a series of lectures delivered before
the American Chautauqua schools, and published in one of the most
widespread of English orthodox newspapers.

Whatever additional factors may be added to natural selection--and
Darwin himself fully admitted that there might be others--the theory of
an evolution process in the formation of the universe and of animated
nature is established, and the old theory of direct creation is gone
forever. In place of it science has given us conceptions far more noble,
and opened the way to an argument for design infinitely more beautiful
than any ever developed by theology.(24)

     (24) For the causes of bitterness shown regarding the Darwinian
hypothesis, see Reusch, Bibel und Natur, vol. ii, pp. 46 et seq. For
hostility in the United States regarding the Darwinian theory, see,
among a multitude of writers, the following: Dr. Charles Hodge, of
Princeton, monograph, What is Darwinism? New York, 1874; also his
Systematic Theology, New York, 1872, vol. ii, part 2, Anthropology; also
The Light by which we see Light, or Nature and the Scriptures, Vedder
Lectures, 1875, Rutgers College, New York, 1875; also Positivism and
Evolutionism, in the American Catholic Quarterly, October 1877, pp. 607,
619; and in the same number, Professor Huxley and Evolution, by Rev. A.
M. Kirsch, pp. 662, 664; The Logic of Evolution, by Prof. Edward F. X.
McSweeney, D. D., July, 1879, p. 561; Das Hexaemeron und die Geologie,
von P. Eirich, Pastor in Albany, N. Y., Lutherischer Concordia-Verlag,
St. Louis, Mo., 1878, pp. 81, 82, 84, 92-94; Evolutionism respecting
Man and the Bible, by John T. Duffield, of Princeton, January, 1878,
Princeton Review, pp. 151, 153, 154, 158, 159, 160, 188; a Lecture on
Evolution, before the Nineteenth Century Club of New York, May 25, 1886,
by ex-President Noah Porter, pp. 4, 26-29. For the laudatory notice of
the Rev. E. F. Burr's demolition of evolution in his book Pater Mundi,
see Monthly Religious Magazine, Boston, May, 1873, p. 492. Concerning
the removal of Dr. James Woodrow, Professor of Natural Science in the
Columbia Theological Seminary, see Evolution or Not, in the New York
Weekly Sun, October 24, 1888. For the dealings of Spanish
ecclesiastics with Dr. Chil and his Darwinian exposition, see the Revue
d'Anthropologie, cited in the Academy for April 6, 1878; see also the
Catholic World, xix, 433, A Discussion with an Infidel, directed against
Dr. Louis Buchner and his Kraft und Stoff; also Mind and Matter, by Rev.
james Tait, of Canada, p. 66 (in the third edition the author bemoans
the "horrible plaudits" that "have accompanied every effort to establish
man's brutal descent"); also The Church Journal, New York, May 28, 1874.
For the effort in favour of a teleological evolution, see Rev. Samuel
Houghton, F. R. S., Principles of Animal Mechanics, London, 1873,
preface and p. 156 and elsewhere. For the details of the persecutions
of Drs. Winchell and Woodrow, and of the Beyrout professors, with
authorities cited, see my chapter on The Fall of Man and Anthropology.
For more liberal views among religious thinkers regarding the Darwinian
theory, and for efforts to mitigate and adapt it to theological
views, see, among the great mass of utterances, the following: Charles
Kingsley's letters to Darwin, November 18, 1859, in Darwin's Life and
Letters, vol. ii, p. 82; Adam Sedgwick to Charles Darwin, December 24,
1859, see ibid., vol. ii, pp. 356-359; the same to Miss Gerard, January
2, 1860, see Sedgewick's Life and Letters, vol. ii, pp. 359, 360; the
same in The Spectator, London, March 24, 1860; The Rambler, March 1860,
cited by Mivart, Genesis of Species, p. 30; The Dublin Review, May,
1860; The Christian Examiner, May, 1860; Charles Kingsley to F. D.
Maurice in 1863, in Kingsley's Life, vol. ii, p. 171; Adam Sedgwick
to Livingstone (the explorer), March 16, 1865, in Life and Letters of
Sedgwick, vol. ii, pp. 410-412; the Duke of Argyll, The Reign of Law,
New York, pp. 16, 18, 31, 116, 117, 120, 159; Joseph P. Thompson, D. D.,
LL.D., Man in Genesis and Geology, New York, 1870, pp. 48, 49, 82; Canon
H. P. Liddon, Sermons preached before the University of Oxford,
1871, Sermon III; St. George Mivart, Evolution and its Consequences,
Contemporary Review, Jan. 1872; British and Foreign Evangelical Review,
1872, article on The Theory of Evolution; The Lutheran Quarterly,
Gettysburg, Pa., April, 1872, article by Rev. Cyrus Thomas, Assistant
United States Geological Survey on The Descent of Man, pp. 214, 239,
372-376; The Lutheran Quarterly, July, 1873, article on Some Assumptions
against Christianity, by Rev. C. A. Stork, Baltimore, Md., pp. 325, 326;
also, in the same number, see a review of Dr. Burr's Pater Mundi, pp.
474, 475, and contrast with the review in the Andover Review of that
period; an article in the Religious Magazine and Monthly Review, Boston,
on Religion and Evolution, by Rev. S. R. Calthrop, September, 1873,
p. 200; The Popular Science Monthly, January, 1874, article Genesis,
Geology, and Evolution; article by Asa Gray, Nature, London, June 4,
1874; Materialism, by Rev. W. Streissguth, Lutheran Quarterly, July,
1875, originally written in German, and translated by J. G. Morris,
D. D., pp. 406, 408; Darwinismus und Christenthum, von R. Steck, Ref.
Pfarrer in Dresden, Berlin, 1875, pp. 5,6, and 26, reprinted from
the Protestantische Kirchenzeitung, and issued as a tract by the
Protestantenverein; Rev. W. E. Adams, article in the Lutheran Quarterly,
April, 1879, on Evolution: Shall it be Atheistic? John Wood, Bible
Anticipations of Modern Science, 1880, pp. 18, 19, 22; Lutheran
Quarterly, January, 1881, Some Postulates of the New Ethics, by Rev.
C. A. Stork, D. D.; Lutheran Quarterly, January, 1882, The Religion of
Evolution as against the Religion of Jesus, by Prof. W. H. Wynn, Iowa
State Agricultural College--this article was republished as a pamphlet;
Canon Liddon, prefatory note to sermon on The Recovery of St. Thomas,
pp. 4, 11, 12, 13, and 26, preached in St. Paul's Cathedral, April 23,
1882; Lutheran Quarterly, January 1882, Evolution and the Scripture, by
Rev. John A. Earnest, pp. 101, 105; Glimpses in the Twilight, by Rev.
F. G. Lee, D. D., Edinburgh, 1885, especially pp. 18 and 19; the Hibbert
Lectures for 1883, by Rev. Charles Beard, pp. 392, 393, et seq.; F.
W. Farrar, D. D., Canon of Westminster, The History of Interpretation,
being the Bampton Lectures for 1885, pp. 426, 427; Bishop Temple,
Bampton Lectures, pp. 184-186; article Evolution in the Dictionary
of Religion, edited by Rev. William Benham, 1887; Prof. Huxley, An
Episcopal Trilogy, Nineteenth Century, November, 1887--this article
discusses three sermons delivered by the bishops of Carlisle, Bedford,
and Manchester, in Manchester Cathedral, during the meeting of the
British Association, September, 1887--these sermons were afterward
published in pamphlet form under the title The Advance of Science; John
Fiske, Darwinism, and Other Essays, Boston, 1888; Harriet Mackenzie,
Evolution illuminating the Bible, London, 1891, dedicated to Prof.
Huxley; H. E. Rye, Hulsean Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, The Early
Narratives of Genesis, London, 1892, preface, pp. vii-ix, pp. 7, 9, 11;
Rev. G. M. Searle, of the Catholic University, Washington, article in
the Catholic World, November, 1892, pp. 223, 227, 229, 231; for the
statement from Keble College, see Rev. Mr. Illingworth, in Lux Mundi.
For Bishop Temple, see citation in Laing. For a complete and admirable
acceptance of the evolutionary theory as lifting Christian doctrine and
practice to a higher plane, with suggestions for a new theology, see two
Sermons by Archdeacon Wilson, of Manchester, S. P. C. K.. London,
and Young & Co., New York, 1893; and for a characteristically lucid
statement of the most recent development of evolution doctrines, and the
relations of Spencer, Weismann, Galton, and others to them, see Lester
F. Ward's Address as President of the Biological Society, Washington,
1891; also, recent articles in the leading English reviews. For a
brilliant glorification of evolution by natural selection as a doctrine
necessary to then highest and truest view of Christianity, see Prof.
Drummond's Chautauqua Lectures, published in the British Weekly, London,
from April 20 to May 11, 1893.



Among various rude tribes we find survivals of a primitive idea that the
earth is a flat table or disk, ceiled, domed, or canopied by the sky,
and that the sky rests upon the mountains as pillars. Such a belief is
entirely natural; it conforms to the appearance of things, and hence at
a very early period entered into various theologies.

In the civilizations of Chaldea and Egypt it was very fully developed.
The Assyrian inscriptions deciphered in these latter years represent the
god Marduk as in the beginning creating the heavens and the earth: the
earth rests upon the waters; within it is the realm of the dead; above
it is spread "the firmament"--a solid dome coming down to the horizon on
all sides and resting upon foundations laid in the "great waters" which
extend around the earth.

On the east and west sides of this domed firmament are doors, through
which the sun enters in the morning and departs at night; above it
extends another ocean, which goes down to the ocean surrounding the
earth at the horizon on all sides, and which is supported and kept away
from the earth by the firmament. Above the firmament and the upper ocean
which it supports is the interior of heaven.

The Egyptians considered the earth as a table, flat and oblong, the sky
being its ceiling--a huge "firmament" of metal. At the four corners of
the earth were the pillars supporting this firmament, and on this solid
sky were the "waters above the heavens." They believed that, when chaos
was taking form, one of the gods by main force raised the waters on high
and spread them out over the firmament; that on the under side of this
solid vault, or ceiling, or firmament, the stars were suspended to light
the earth, and that the rains were caused by the letting down of the
waters through its windows. This idea and others connected with it seem
to have taken strong hold of the Egyptian priestly caste, entering
into their theology and sacred science: ceilings of great temples, with
stars, constellations, planets, and signs of the zodiac figured upon
them, remain to-day as striking evidences of this.

In Persia we have theories of geography based upon similar conceptions
and embalmed in sacred texts.

From these and doubtless from earlier sources common to them all came
geographical legacies to the Hebrews. Various passages in their sacred
books, many of them noble in conception and beautiful in form, regarding
"the foundation of the earth upon the waters," "the fountains of the
great deep," "the compass upon the face of the depth," the "firmament,"
the "corners of the earth," the "pillars of heaven," the "waters above
the firmament," the "windows of heaven," and "doors of heaven," point us
back to both these ancient springs of thought.(25)

     (25) For survivals of the early idea, among the Eskimos, of the sky as
supported by mountains, and, among sundry Pacific islanders, of the sky
as a firmament or vault of stone, see Tylor, Early History of Mankind,
second edition, London, 1870, chap. xi; Spencer, Sociology, vol. i, chap
vii, also Andrew Lang, La Mythologie, Paris, 1886, pp. 68-73. For the
Babylonian theories, see George Smith's Chaldean Genesis, and especially
the German translation by Delitzsch, Leipsic, 1876; also, Jensen, Die
Kosmogonien der Babylonier, Strasburg, 1890; see especially in the
appendices, pp. 9 and 10, a drawing representing the whole Babylonian
scheme so closely followed in the Hebrew book Genesis. See also Lukas,
Die Grundbegriffe in den Kosmogonien der alten Volker, Leipsic, 1893,
for a most thorough summing up of the whole subject, with texts showing
the development of Hebrew out of Chaldean and Egyptian conceptions, pp.
44, etc.; also pp. 127 et seq. For the early view in India and
Persia, see citations from the Vedas and the Zend-Avesta in Lethaby,
Architecture, Mysticism, and Myth, chap. i. For the Egyptian view, see
Champollion; also Lenormant, Histoire Ancienne, Maspero, and others. As
to the figures of the heavens upon the ceilings of Egyptian temples,
see Maspero, Archeologie Egyptienne, Paris, 1890; and for engravings of
them, see Lepsius, Denkmaler, vol. i, Bl. 41, and vol. ix, Abth. iv, Bl.
35; also the Description de l'Egypte, published by order of Napoleon,
tome ii, Pl. 14; also Prisse d'Avennes, Art Egyptien, Atlas, tome i, Pl.
35; and especially for a survival at the Temple of Denderah, see Denon,
Voyage en Egypte, Planches 129, 130. For the Egyptian idea of "pillars
of heaven," as alluded to on the stele of victory of Thotmes III,in the
Cairo Museum, see Ebers, Uarda, vol. ii, p. 175, note, Leipsic, 1877. For
a similar Babylonian belief, see Sayce's Herodotus, Appendix, p. 403.
For the belief of Hebrew scriptural writers in a solid "firmament,"
see especially Job, xxxviii, 18; also Smith's Bible Dictionary. For
engravings showing the earth and heaven above it as conceived by
Egyptians and Chaldeans, with "pillars of heaven" and "firmament," see
Maspero and Sayce, Dawn of Civilization, London, 1894, pp. 17 and 543.

But, as civilization was developed, there were evolved, especially among
the Greeks, ideas of the earth's sphericity. The Pythagoreans, Plato,
and Aristotle especially cherished them. These ideas were vague, they
were mixed with absurdities, but they were germ ideas, and even amid the
luxuriant growth of theology in the early Christian Church these germs
began struggling into life in the minds of a few thinking men, and these
men renewed the suggestion that the earth is a globe.(26)

     (26) The agency of the Pythagoreans in first spreading the doctrine of
the earth's sphericity is generally acknowledged, but the first full and
clear utterance of it to the world was by Aristotle. Very fruitful, too,
was the statement of the new theory given by Plato in the Timaeus; see
Jowett's translation, 62, c. Also the Phaedo, pp.449 et seq. See also
Grote on Plato's doctrine on the sphericity of the earth; also Sir G. C.
Lewis's Astronomy of the Ancients, London, 1862, chap. iii, section i,
and note. Cicero's mention of the antipodes, and his reference to the
passage in the Timaeus, are even more remarkable than the latter, in
that they much more clearly foreshadow the modern doctrine. See his
Academic Questions, ii; also Tusc. Quest., i and v, 24. For a very full
summary of the views of the ancients on the sphericity of the earth,
see Kretschmer, Die physische Erkunde im christlichen Mittelalter,
Wien, 1889, pp. 35 et seq.; also Eiken, Geschichte der mittelalterlichen
Weltanschauung, Stuttgart, 1887, Dritter Theil, chap. vi. For citations
and summaries, see Whewell, Hist. Induct. Sciences, vol. i, p. 189, and
St. Martin, Hist. de la Geog., Paris, 1873, p. 96; also Leopardi, Saggio
sopra gli errori popolari degli antichi, Firenze, 1851, chap. xii, pp.
184 et seq.

A few of the larger-minded fathers of the Church, influenced possibly
by Pythagorean traditions, but certainly by Aristotle and Plato, were
willing to accept this view, but the majority of them took fright at
once. To them it seemed fraught with dangers to Scripture, by which, of
course, they meant their interpretation of Scripture. Among the first
who took up arms against it was Eusebius. In view of the New Testament
texts indicating the immediately approaching, end of the world, he
endeavoured to turn off this idea by bringing scientific studies
into contempt. Speaking of investigators, he said, "It is not through
ignorance of the things admired by them, but through contempt of their
useless labour, that we think little of these matters, turning our
souls to better things." Basil of Caesarea declared it "a matter of no
interest to us whether the earth is a sphere or a cylinder or a disk, or
concave in the middle like a fan." Lactantius referred to the ideas
of those studying astronomy as "bad and senseless," and opposed the
doctrine of the earth's sphericity both from Scripture and reason.
St. John Chrysostom also exerted his influence against this scientific
belief; and Ephraem Syrus, the greatest man of the old Syrian Church,
widely known as the "lute of the Holy Ghost," opposed it no less

But the strictly biblical men of science, such eminent fathers and
bishops as Theophilus of Antioch in the second century, and Clement of
Alexandria in the third, with others in centuries following, were not
content with merely opposing what they stigmatized as an old heathen
theory; they drew from their Bibles a new Christian theory, to which
one Church authority added one idea and another, until it was fully
developed. Taking the survival of various early traditions, given in
the seventh verse of the first chapter of Genesis, they insisted on the
clear declarations of Scripture that the earth was, at creation, arched
over with a solid vault, "a firmament," and to this they added the
passages from Isaiah and the Psalms, in which it declared that the
heavens are stretched out "like a curtain," and again "like a tent to
dwell in." The universe, then, is like a house: the earth is its ground
floor, the firmament its ceiling, under which the Almighty hangs out
the sun to rule the day and the moon and stars to rule the night. This
ceiling is also the floor of the apartment above, and in this is a
cistern, shaped, as one of the authorities says, "like a bathing-tank,"
and containing "the waters which are above the firmament." These waters
are let down upon the earth by the Almighty and his angels through the
"windows of heaven." As to the movement of the sun, there was a citation
of various passages in Genesis, mixed with metaphysics in various
proportions, and this was thought to give ample proofs from the Bible
that the earth could not be a sphere.(27)

     (27) For Eusebius, see the Proep. Ev., xv, 61. For Basil, see the
Hexaemeron, Hom. ix. For Lactantius, see his Inst. Div., lib. iii, cap.
3; also citations in Whewell, Hist. Induct. Sciences, London, 1857, vol.
i, p. 194, and in St. Martin, Histoire de la Geographie, pp. 216, 217.
For the views of St. John Chrysostom, Ephraem Syrus, and other great
churchmen, see Kretschmer as above, chap i.

In the sixth century this development culminated in what was nothing
less than a complete and detailed system of the universe, claiming to
be based upon Scripture, its author being the Egyptian monk Cosmas
Indicopleustes. Egypt was a great treasure-house of theologic thought
to various religions of antiquity, and Cosmas appears to have urged upon
the early Church this Egyptian idea of the construction of the world,
just as another Egyptian ecclesiastic, Athanasius, urged upon the Church
the Egyptian idea of a triune deity ruling the world. According to
Cosmas, the earth is a parallelogram, flat, and surrounded by four seas.
It is four hundred days' journey long and two hundred broad. At the
outer edges of these four seas arise massive walls closing in the whole
structure and supporting the firmament or vault of the heavens, whose
edges are cemented to the walls. These walls inclose the earth and all
the heavenly bodies.

The whole of this theologico-scientific structure was built most
carefully and, as was then thought, most scripturally. Starting with the
expression applied in the ninth chapter of Hebrews to the tabernacle in
the desert, Cosmas insists, with other interpreters of his time, that it
gives the key to the whole construction of the world. The universe
is, therefore, made on the plan of the Jewish tabernacle--boxlike and
oblong. Going into details, he quotes the sublime words of Isaiah: "It
is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth;... that stretcheth out
the heavens like a curtain, and spreadeth them out like a tent to dwell
in"; and the passage in Job which speaks of the "pillars of heaven." He
works all this into his system, and reveals, as he thinks, treasures of

This vast box is divided into two compartments, one above the other. In
the first of these, men live and stars move; and it extends up to the
first solid vault, or firmament, above which live the angels, a main
part of whose business it is to push and pull the sun and planets to and
fro. Next, he takes the text, "Let there be a firmament in the midst
of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters," and other
texts from Genesis; to these he adds the text from the Psalms, "Praise
him, ye heaven of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens"
then casts all, and these growths of thought into his crucible together,
finally brings out the theory that over this first vault is a vast
cistern containing "the waters." He then takes the expression in Genesis
regarding the "windows of heaven" and establishes a doctrine regarding
the regulation of the rain, to the effect that the angels not only push
and pull the heavenly bodies to light the earth, but also open and close
the heavenly windows to water it.

To understand the surface of the earth, Cosmas, following the methods
of interpretation which Origen and other early fathers of the Church had
established, studies the table of shew-bread in the Jewish tabernacle.
The surface of this table proves to him that the earth is flat, and
its dimensions prove that the earth is twice as long as broad; its four
corners symbolize the four seasons; the twelve loaves of bread,
the twelve months; the hollow about the table proves that the ocean
surrounds the earth. To account for the movement of the sun, Cosmas
suggests that at the north of the earth is a great mountain, and that
at night the sun is carried behind this; but some of the commentators
ventured to express a doubt here: they thought that the sun was pushed
into a pit at night and pulled out in the morning.

Nothing can be more touching in its simplicity than Cosmas's summing up
of his great argument, He declares, "We say therefore with Isaiah that
the heaven embracing the universe is a vault, with Job that it is joined
to the earth, and with Moses that the length of the earth is greater
than its breadth." The treatise closes with rapturous assertions that
not only Moses and the prophets, but also angels and apostles, agree to
the truth of his doctrine, and that at the last day God will condemn all
who do not accept it.

Although this theory was drawn from Scripture, it was also, as we have
seen, the result of an evolution of theological thought begun long
before the scriptural texts on which it rested were written. It was not
at all strange that Cosmas, Egyptian as he was, should have received
this old Nile-born doctrine, as we see it indicated to-day in the
structure of Egyptian temples, and that he should have developed it by
the aid of the Jewish Scriptures; but the theological world knew nothing
of this more remote evolution from pagan germs; it was received as
virtually inspired, and was soon regarded as a fortress of scriptural
truth. Some of the foremost men in the Church devoted themselves to
buttressing it with new texts and throwing about it new outworks of
theological reasoning; the great body of the faithful considered it a
direct gift from the Almighty. Even in the later centuries of the Middle
Ages John of San Geminiano made a desperate attempt to save it. Like
Cosmas, he takes the Jewish tabernacle as his starting-point, and shows
how all the newer ideas can be reconciled with the biblical accounts of
its shape, dimensions, and furniture.(28)

     (28) For a notice of the views of Cosmas in connection with those of
Lactantius, Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, and others, see Schoell,
Histoire de la Litterature Grecque, vol. vii, p. 37. The main scriptural
passages referred to are as follows: (1) Isaiah xi, 22; (2) Genesis
i, 6; (3) Genesis vii, 11; (4) Exodus xxiv, 10; (5) Job xxvi, 11, and
xxxvii, 18 (6) Psalm cxlviii, 4, and civ, 9; (7) Ezekiel i, 22-26. For
Cosmas's theory, see Montfaucon, Collectio Nova Patrum, Paris, 1706,
vol. ii, p.188; also pp. 298, 299. The text is illustrated with
engravings showing walls and solid vault (firmament), with the whole
apparatus of "fountains of the great deep," "windows of heaven," angels,
and the mountain behind which the sun is drawn. For reduction of one of
them, see Peschel, Gesschichte der Erdkunds, p. 98; also article
Maps, in Knight's Dictionary of Mechanics, New York, 1875. For curious
drawings showing Cosmas's scheme in a different way from that given by
Montfaucon, see extracts from a Vatican codex of the ninth century in
Garucci, Storia de l'Arte Christiana, vol. iii, pp. 70 et seq. For
a good discussion of Cosmas's ideas, see Santarem, Hist. de la
Cosmographie, vol. ii, pp. 8 et seq., and for a very thorough discussion
of its details, Kretschmer, as above. For still another theory, very
droll, and thought out on similar principles, see Mungo Park, cited
in De Morgan, Paradoxes, p. 309. For Cosmas's joyful summing up, see
Montfaucon, Collectio Nova Patrum, vol. ii, p. 255. For the curious
survival in the thirteenth century of the old idea of the "waters above
the heavens," see the story in Gervase of Tilbury, how in his time some
people coming out of church in England found an anchor let down by a
rope out of the heavens, how there came voices from sailors above trying
to loose the anchor, and, finally, how a sailor came down the rope,
who, on reaching the earth, died as if drowned in water. See Gervase of
Tilbury, Otia Imperialia, edit. Liebrecht, Hanover, 1856, Prima Decisio,
cap. xiii. The work was written about 1211. For John of San Germiniano,
see his Summa de Exemplis, lib. ix, cap. 43. For the Egyptian
Trinitarian views, see Sharpe, History of Egypt, vol. i, pp. 94, 102.

From this old conception of the universe as a sort of house, with heaven
as its upper story and the earth as its ground floor, flowed important
theological ideas into heathen, Jewish, and Christian mythologies.
Common to them all are legends regarding attempts of mortals to invade
the upper apartment from the lower. Of such are the Greek legends of
the Aloidae, who sought to reach heaven by piling up mountains, and were
cast down; the Chaldean and Hebrew legends of the wicked who at Babel
sought to build "a tower whose top may reach heaven," which Jehovah
went down from heaven to see, and which he brought to naught by the
"confusion of tongues"; the Hindu legend of the tree which sought to
grow into heaven and which Brahma blasted; and the Mexican legend of the
giants who sought to reach heaven by building the Pyramid of Cholula,
and who were overthrown by fire from above.

Myths having this geographical idea as their germ developed in
luxuriance through thousands of years. Ascensions to heaven and descents
from it, "translations," "assumptions," "annunciations," mortals "caught
up" into it and returning, angels flying between it and the earth,
thunderbolts hurled down from it, mighty winds issuing from its corners,
voices speaking from the upper floor to men on the lower, temporary
openings of the floor of heaven to reveal the blessedness of the good,
"signs and wonders" hung out from it to warn the wicked, interventions
of every kind--from the heathen gods coming down on every sort of
errand, and Jehovah coming down to walk in Eden in the cool of the day,
to St. Mark swooping down into the market-place of Venice to break the
shackles of a slave--all these are but features in a vast evolution of
myths arising largely from this geographical germ.

Nor did this evolution end here. Naturally, in this view of things, if
heaven was a loft, hell was a cellar; and if there were ascensions
into one, there were descents into the other. Hell being so near,
interferences by its occupants with the dwellers of the earth just above
were constant, and form a vast chapter in medieval literature. Dante
made this conception of the location of hell still more vivid, and we
find some forms of it serious barriers to geographical investigation.
Many a bold navigator, who was quite ready to brave pirates and
tempests, trembled at the thought of tumbling with his ship into one of
the openings into hell which a widespread belief placed in the Atlantic
at some unknown distance from Europe. This terror among sailors was one
of the main obstacles in the great voyage of Columbus. In a medieval
text-book, giving science the form of a dialogue, occur the following
question and answer: "Why is the sun so red in the evening?" "Because he
looketh down upon hell."

But the ancient germ of scientific truth in geography--the idea of the
earth's sphericity--still lived. Although the great majority of the
early fathers of the Church, and especially Lactantius, had sought to
crush it beneath the utterances attributed to Isaiah, David, and
St. Paul, the better opinion of Eudoxus and Aristotle could not be
forgotten. Clement of Alexandria and Origen had even supported it.
Ambrose and Augustine had tolerated it, and, after Cosmas had held sway
a hundred years, it received new life from a great churchman of southern
Europe, Isidore of Seville, who, however fettered by the dominant
theology in many other things, braved it in this. In the eighth century
a similar declaration was made in the north of Europe by another great
Church authority, Bede. Against the new life thus given to the old
truth, the sacred theory struggled long and vigorously but in vain.
Eminent authorities in later ages, like Albert the Great, St. Thomas
Aquinas, Dante, and Vincent of Beauvais, felt obliged to accept the
doctrine of the earth's sphericity, and as we approach the modern period
we find its truth acknowledged by the vast majority of thinking men. The
Reformation did not at first yield fully to this better theory. Luther,
Melanchthon, and Calvin were very strict in their adherence to the exact
letter of Scripture. Even Zwingli, broad as his views generally were,
was closely bound down in this matter, and held to the opinion of the
fathers that a great firmament, or floor, separated the heavens from the
earth; that above it were the waters and angels, and below it the earth
and man.

The main scope given to independent thought on this general subject
among the Reformers was in a few minor speculations regarding the
universe which encompassed Eden, the exact character of the conversation
of the serpent with Eve, and the like.

In the times immediately following the Reformation matters were even
worse. The interpretations of Scripture by Luther and Calvin became as
sacred to their followers as the Scripture itself. When Calixt ventured,
in interpreting the Psalms, to question the accepted belief that "the
waters above the heavens" were contained in a vast receptacle upheld by
a solid vault, he was bitterly denounced as heretical.

In the latter part of the sixteenth century Musaeus interpreted the
accounts in Genesis to mean that first God made the heavens for the roof
or vault, and left it there on high swinging until three days later he
put the earth under it. But the new scientific thought as to the earth's
form had gained the day. The most sturdy believers were obliged to
adjust their, biblical theories to it as best they could.(29)

     (29) For a discussion of the geographical views of Isidore and Bede, see
Santarem, Cosmographie, vol i, pp. 22-24. For the gradual acceptance
of the idea of the earth's sphericity after the eighth century, see
Kretschmer, pp. 51 et seq., where citations from a multitude of authors
are given. For the views of the Reformers, see Zockler, vol. i, pp. 679
and 693. For Calixt, Musaeus, and others, ibid., pp. 673-677 and 761.


Every great people of antiquity, as a rule, regarded its own central
city or most holy place as necessarily the centre of the earth.

The Chaldeans held that their "holy house of the gods" was the centre.
The Egyptians sketched the world under the form of a human figure,
in which Egypt was the heart, and the centre of it Thebes. For the
Assyrians, it was Babylon; for the Hindus, it was Mount Meru; for the
Greeks, so far as the civilized world was concerned, Olympus or the
temple at Delphi; for the modern Mohammedans, it is Mecca and its sacred
stone; the Chinese, to this day, speak of their empire as the "middle
kingdom." It was in accordance, then, with a simple tendency of human
thought that the Jews believed the centre of the world to be Jerusalem.

The book of Ezekiel speaks of Jerusalem as in the middle of the earth,
and all other parts of the world as set around the holy city. Throughout
the "ages of faith" this was very generally accepted as a direct
revelation from the Almighty regarding the earth's form. St. Jerome, the
greatest authority of the early Church upon the Bible, declared, on
the strength of this utterance of the prophet, that Jerusalem could
be nowhere but at the earth's centre; in the ninth century Archbishop
Rabanus Maurus reiterated the same argument; in the eleventh
century Hugh of St. Victor gave to the doctrine another scriptural
demonstration; and Pope Urban, in his great sermon at Clermont urging
the Franks to the crusade, declared, "Jerusalem is the middle point of
the earth"; in the thirteenth century an ecclesiastical writer much in
vogue, the monk Caesarius of Heisterbach, declared, "As the heart in
the midst of the body, so is Jerusalem situated in the midst of our
inhabited earth,"--"so it was that Christ was crucified at the centre
of the earth." Dante accepted this view of Jerusalem as a certainty,
wedding it to immortal verse; and in the pious book of travels ascribed
to Sir John Mandeville, so widely read in the Middle Ages, it is
declared that Jerusalem is at the centre of the world, and that a spear
standing erect at the Holy Sepulchre casts no shadow at the equinox.

Ezekiel's statement thus became the standard of orthodoxy to early
map-makers. The map of the world at Hereford Cathedral, the maps of
Andrea Bianco, Marino Sanuto, and a multitude of others fixed this view
in men's minds, and doubtless discouraged during many generations any
scientific statements tending to unbalance this geographical centre
revealed in Scripture.(30)

     (30) For beliefs of various nations of antiquity that the earth's center
was in their most sacred place, see citations from Maspero, Charton,
Sayce, and others in Lethaby, Architecture, Mysticism, and Myth, chap.
iv. As to the Greeks, we have typical statements in the Eumenides of
Aeschylus, where the stone in the altar at Delphi is repeatedly called
"the earth's navel"--which is precisely the expression used regarding
Jerusalem in the Septuagint translation of Ezekiel (see below). The
proof texts on which the mediaeval geographers mainly relied as to the
form of the earth were Ezekiel v, 5, and xxxviii, 12. The progress
of geographical knowledge evidently caused them to be softened down
somewhat in our King James's version; but the first of them reads, in
the Vulgate, "Ista est Hierusalem, in medio gentium posui eam et in
circuitu ejus terrae"; and the second reads, in the Vulgate, "in medio
terrae," and in the Septuagint, [Greek]. That the literal centre of the
earth was understood, see proof in St. Jerome, Commentat. in Ezekiel,
lib. ii; and for general proof, see Leopardi, Saggio sopra gli errori
popolari degli antichi, pp. 207, 208. For Rabanus Maurus, see his De
Universo, lib. xii, cap. 4, in Migne, tome cxi, p. 339. For Hugh of
St. Victor, se his De Situ Terrarum, cap. ii. For Dante's belief, see
Inferno, canto xxxiv, 112-115:

"E se' or sotto l'emisperio giunto,  Ch' e opposito a quel che la gran secca
Coverchia, e sotto il cui colmo consunto  Fu l'uom che nacque e visse senza pecca."

For orthodox geography in the Middle Ages, see Wright's Essays on
Archaeology, vol. ii, chapter on the map of the world in Hereford
Cathedral; also the rude maps in Cardinal d'Ailly's Ymago Mundi; also
copies of maps of Marino Sanuto and others in Peschel, Erdkunde, p. 210;
also Munster, Fac Simile dell' Atlante di Andrea Bianco, Venezia, 1869.
And for discussions of the whole subject, see Satarem, vol. ii, p. 295,
vol. iii, pp. 71, 183, 184, and elsewhere. For a brief summary with
citations, see Eiken, Geschichte, etc., pp. 622, 623.

Nor did medieval thinkers rest with this conception. In accordance with
the dominant view that physical truth must be sought by theological
reasoning, the doctrine was evolved that not only the site of the cross
on Calvary marked the geographical centre of the world, but that on this
very spot had stood the tree which bore the forbidden fruit in Eden.
Thus was geography made to reconcile all parts of the great theologic
plan. This doctrine was hailed with joy by multitudes; and we find in
the works of medieval pilgrims to Palestine, again and again, evidence
that this had become precious truth to them, both in theology and
geography. Even as late as 1664 the eminent French priest Eugene Roger,
in his published travels in Palestine, dwelt upon the thirty-eighth
chapter of Ezekiel, coupled with a text from Isaiah, to prove that the
exact centre of the earth is a spot marked on the pavement of the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre, and that on this spot once stood the tree which
bore the forbidden fruit and the cross of Christ.(31)

     (31) For the site of the cross on Calvary, as the point where stood "the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil" in Eden, at the centre of the
earth, see various Eastern travellers cited in Tobler; but especially
the travels of Bishop Arculf in the Holy Land, in Wright's Early Travels
in Palestine, p. 8; also Travels of Saewulf, ibid, p. 38; also Sir John
Mandeville, ibid., pp. 166, 167. For Roger, see his La Terre Saincte,
Paris, 1664, pp. 89-217, etc.; see also Quaresmio, Terrae Sanctae
Elucidatio, 1639, for similar view; and, for one narrative in which the
idea was developed into an amazing mass of pious myths, see Pilgrimage
of the Russian Abbot Daniel, edited by Sir C. W. Wilson, London, 1885,
p. 14. (The passage deserves to be quoted as an example of myth-making;
it is as follows: "At the time of our Lord's crucifixion, when he gave
up the ghost on the cross, the veil of the temple was rent, and the rock
above Adam's skull opened, and the blood and water which flowed from
Christ's side ran down through the fissure upon the skull, thus washing
away the sins of men.")

Nor was this the only misconception which forced its way from our sacred
writings into medieval map-making: two others were almost as marked.
First of these was the vague terror inspired by Gog and Magog. Few
passages in the Old Testament are more sublime than the denunciation
of these great enemies by Ezekiel; and the well-known statement in the
Apocalypse fastened the Hebrew feeling regarding them with a new meaning
into the mind of the early Church: hence it was that the medieval
map-makers took great pains to delineate these monsters and their
habitations on the maps. For centuries no map was considered orthodox
which did not show them.

The second conception was derived from the mention in our sacred books
of the "four winds." Hence came a vivid belief in their real existence,
and their delineation on the maps, generally as colossal heads with
distended cheeks, blowing vigorously toward Jerusalem.

After these conceptions had mainly disappeared we find here and there
evidences of the difficulty men found in giving up the scriptural idea
of direct personal interference by agents of Heaven in the ordinary
phenomena of Nature: thus, in a noted map of the sixteenth century
representing the earth as a sphere, there is at each pole a crank, with
an angel laboriously turning the earth by means of it; and, in another
map, the hand of the Almighty, thrust forth from the clouds, holds the
earth suspended by a rope and spins it with his thumb and fingers.
Even as late as the middle of the seventeenth century Heylin, the most
authoritative English geographer of the time, shows a like tendency to
mix science and theology. He warps each to help the other, as follows:
"Water, making but one globe with the earth, is yet higher than it.
This appears, first, because it is a body not so heavy; secondly, it is
observed by sailors that their ships move faster to the shore than from
it, whereof no reason can be given but the height of the water above the
land; thirdly, to such as stand on the shore the sea seems to swell into
the form of a round hill till it puts a bound upon our sight. Now that
the sea, hovering thus over and above the earth, doth not overwhelm
it, can be ascribed only to his Providence who 'hath made the waters to
stand on an heap that they turn not again to cover the earth.'"(32)

     (32) For Gog and Magog, see Ezekiel xxxviii and xxxix, and Rev. xx,
8; and for the general subject, Toy, Judaism and Christianity, Boston,
1891, pp. 373, 374. For maps showing these two great terrors, and for
geographical discussion regarding them, see Lelewel, Geog. du Moyen
Age, Bruxelles, 1850, Atlas; also Ruge, Gesch. des Zeitalters der
Entdeckungen, Berlin, 1881, pp. 78, 79; also Peschel's Abhandlungen,
pp.28-35, and Gesch. der Erdkunde, p. 210. For representations on maps
of the "Four Winds," see Charton, Voyageurs, tome ii, p. 11; also Ruge,
as above, pp. 324, 325; also for a curious mixture of the scriptural
winds issuing from the bags of Aeolus, see a map of the twelfth century
in Leon Gautier, La Chevalerie, p. 153; and for maps showing additional
winds, see various editions of Ptolemy. For a map with angels turning
the earth by means of cranks at the poles, see Grynaeus, Novus Orbis,
Basileae, 1537. For the globe kept spinning by the Almighty, see J.
Hondius's map, 1589; and for Heylin, his first folio, 1652, p. 27.


Even while the doctrine of the sphericity of the earth was undecided,
another question had been suggested which theologians finally came to
consider of far greater importance. The doctrine of the sphericity
of the earth naturally led to thought regarding its inhabitants, and
another ancient germ was warmed into life--the idea of antipodes: of
human beings on the earth's opposite sides.

In the Greek and Roman world this idea had found supporters and
opponents, Cicero and Pliny being among the former, and Epicurus,
Lucretius, and Plutarch among the latter. Thus the problem came into the
early Church unsolved.

Among the first churchmen to take it up was, in the East, St. Gregory
Nazianzen, who showed that to sail beyond Gibraltar was impossible; and,
in the West, Lactantius, who asked: "Is there any one so senseless as
to believe that there are men whose footsteps are higher than their
heads?... that the crops and trees grow downward?... that the rains and
snow and hail fall upward toward the earth?... I am at a loss what to
say of those who, when they have once erred, steadily persevere in their
folly and defend one vain thing by another."

In all this contention by Gregory and Lactantius there was nothing to be
especially regretted, for, whatever their motive, they simply supported
their inherited belief on grounds of natural law and probability.

Unfortunately, the discussion was not long allowed to rest on these
scientific and philosophical grounds; other Christian thinkers followed,
who in their ardour adduced texts of Scripture, and soon the question
had become theological; hostility to the belief in antipodes became
dogmatic. The universal Church was arrayed against it, and in front of
the vast phalanx stood, to a man, the fathers.

To all of them this idea seemed dangerous; to most of them it seemed
damnable. St. Basil and St. Ambrose were tolerant enough to allow that
a man might be saved who thought the earth inhabited on its opposite
sides; but the great majority of the fathers doubted the possibility of
salvation to such misbelievers. The great champion of the orthodox view
was St. Augustine. Though he seemed inclined to yield a little in regard
to the sphericity of the earth, he fought the idea that men exist on the
other side of it, saying that "Scripture speaks of no such descendants
of Adam," he insists that men could not be allowed by the Almighty to
live there, since if they did they could not see Christ at His second
coming descending through the air. But his most cogent appeal, one which
we find echoed from theologian to theologian during a thousand years
afterward, is to the nineteenth Psalm, and to its confirmation in the
Epistle to the Romans; to the words, "Their line is gone out through
all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." He dwells with
great force on the fact that St. Paul based one of his most powerful
arguments upon this declaration regarding the preachers of the gospel,
and that he declared even more explicitly that "Verily, their sound
went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world."
Thenceforth we find it constantly declared that, as those preachers
did not go to the antipodes, no antipodes can exist; and hence that the
supporters of this geographical doctrine "give the lie direct to King
David and to St. Paul, and therefore to the Holy Ghost." Thus the great
Bishop of Hippo taught the whole world for over a thousand years that,
as there was no preaching of the gospel on the opposite side of the
earth, there could be no human beings there.

The great authority of Augustine, and the cogency of his scriptural
argument, held the Church firmly against the doctrine of the antipodes;
all schools of interpretation were now agreed--the followers of the
allegorical tendencies of Alexandria, the strictly literal exegetes of
Syria, the more eclectic theologians of the West. For over a thousand
years it was held in the Church, "always, everywhere, and by all," that
there could not be human beings on the opposite sides of the earth, even
if the earth had opposite sides; and, when attacked by gainsayers, the
great mass of true believers, from the fourth century to the fifteenth,
simply used that opiate which had so soothing an effect on John Henry
Newman in the nineteenth century--securus judicat orbis terrarum.

Yet gainsayers still appeared. That the doctrine of the antipodes
continued to have life, is shown by the fact that in the sixth century
Procopius of Gaza attacks it with a tremendous argument. He declares
that, if there be men on the other side of the earth, Christ must have
gone there and suffered a second time to save them; and, therefore, that
there must have been there, as necessary preliminaries to his coming, a
duplicate Eden, Adam, serpent, and deluge.

Cosmas Indicopleustes also attacked the doctrine with especial
bitterness, citing a passage from St. Luke to prove that antipodes are
theologically impossible.

At the end of the sixth century came a man from whom much might be
expected--St. Isidore of Seville. He had pondered over ancient thought
in science, and, as we have seen, had dared proclaim his belief in the
sphericity of the earth; but with that he stopped. As to the antipodes,
the authority of the Psalmist, St. Paul, and St. Augustine silences him;
he shuns the whole question as unlawful, subjects reason to faith, and
declares that men can not and ought not to exist on opposite sides of
the earth.(33)

     (33)For the opinions of Basil, Ambrose, and others, see Lecky, History
of Rationalism in Europe, New York, 1872, vol. i, p. 279. Also Letronne,
in Revue des Deux Mondes, March, 1834. For Lactantius, see citations
already given. For St. Augustine's opinion, see the De Civitate Dei,
xvi, 9, where this great father of the church shows that the antipodes
"nulla ratione credendum est." For the unanimity of the fathers against
the antipodes, see Zockler, vol. 1, p. 127. For a very naive summary,
see Joseph Acosta, Natural and Moral History of the Indies, Grimston's
translation, republished by the Hakluyt Soc., chaps. vii and viii; also
citations in Buckle's Posthumous Works, vol. ii, p. 645. For Procopius
of Gaza, see Kretschmer, p. 55. See also, on the general subject,
Peschel, Geschichte der Erdkunde, pp. 96-97. For Isidore, see citations
already given. To understand the embarrassment caused by these
utterances of the fathers to scientific men of a later period, see
letter of Agricola to Joachim Vadianus in 1514. Agricola asks Vadianus
to give his views regarding the antipodes, saying that he himself does
not know what to do, between the fathers on the one side and the
learned men of modern times on the other. On the other hand, for the
embarrassment caused to the Church by this mistaken zeal of the
fathers, see Kepler's references and Fromund's replies; also De Morgan,
Paradoxes, p. 58. Kepler appears to have taken great delight in throwing
the views of Lactantius into the teeth of his adversaries.

Under such pressure this scientific truth seems to have disappeared for
nearly two hundred years; but by the eighth century the sphericity
of the earth had come to be generally accepted among the leaders of
thought, and now the doctrine of the antipodes was again asserted by a
bishop, Virgil of Salzburg.

There then stood in Germany, in those first years of the eighth century,
one of the greatest and noblest of men--St. Boniface. His learning was
of the best then known. In labours he was a worthy successor of the
apostles; his genius for Christian work made him unwillingly primate of
Germany; his devotion to duty led him willingly to martyrdom. There sat,
too, at that time, on the papal throne a great Christian statesman--Pope
Zachary. Boniface immediately declared against the revival of such
a heresy as the doctrine of the antipodes; he stigmatized it as an
assertion that there are men beyond the reach of the appointed means of
salvation; he attacked Virgil, and called on Pope Zachary for aid.

The Pope, as the infallible teacher of Christendom, made a strong
response. He cited passages from the book of Job and the Wisdom of
Solomon against the doctrine of the antipodes; he declared it "perverse,
iniquitous, and against Virgil's own soul," and indicated a purpose of
driving him from his bishopric. Whether this purpose was carried out or
not, the old theological view, by virtue of the Pope's divinely ordered
and protected "inerrancy," was re-established, and the doctrine that
the earth has inhabitants on but one of its sides became more than ever
orthodox, and precious in the mind of the Church.(34)

     (34) For Virgil of Salzburg, see Neander's History of the Christian
Church, Torrey's translation, vol. iii, p. 63; also Herzog,
Real-Encyklopadie, etc., recent edition by Prof. Hauck, s. v. Virgilius;
also Kretschmer, pp. 56-58; also Whewell, vol. i, p. 197; also De
Morgan, Budget of Paradoxes, pp. 24-26. For very full notes as to pagan
and Christian advocates of the doctrine of the sphericity of the earth
and of the antipodes, and for extract from Zachary's letter, see Migne,
Patrologia, vol. vi, p. 426, and vol. xli, p. 487. For St. Boniface's
part, see Bonifacii Epistolae, ed. Giles, i, 173. Berger de Xivrey,
Traditions Teratologiques, pp. 186-188, makes a curious attempt to show
that Pope Zachary denounced the wrong man; that the real offender was
a Roman poet--in the sixth book of the Aeneid and the first book of the

This decision seems to have been regarded as final, and five centuries
later the great encyclopedist of the Middle Ages, Vincent of Beauvais,
though he accepts the sphericity of the earth, treats the doctrine
of the antipodes as disproved, because contrary to Scripture. Yet the
doctrine still lived. Just as it had been previously revived by William
of Conches and then laid to rest, so now it is somewhat timidly brought
out in the thirteenth century by no less a personage than Albert the
Great, the most noted man of science in that time. But his utterances
are perhaps purposely obscure. Again it disappears beneath the
theological wave, and a hundred years later Nicolas d'Oresme, geographer
of the King of France, a light of science, is forced to yield to the
clear teaching of the Scripture as cited by St. Augustine.

Nor was this the worst. In Italy, at the beginning of the fourteenth
century, the Church thought it necessary to deal with questions of this
sort by rack and fagot. In 1316 Peter of Abano, famous as a physician,
having promulgated this with other obnoxious doctrines in science, only
escaped the Inquisition by death; and in 1327 Cecco d'Ascoli, noted as
an astronomer, was for this and other results of thought, which brought
him under suspicion of sorcery, driven from his professorship at Bologna
and burned alive at Florence. Nor was this all his punishment: Orcagna,
whose terrible frescoes still exist on the walls of the Campo Santo at
Pisa, immortalized Cecco by representing him in the flames of hell.(35)

     (35) For Vincent of Beauvais and the antipode, see his Speculum
Naturale, Book VII, with citations from St. Augustine, De Civitate
Dei, cap. xvi. For Albert the Great's doctrine regarding the antipodes,
compare Kretschmer, as above, with Eicken, Geschichte, etc., p. 621.
Kretschmer finds that Albert supports the doctrine, and Eicken finds
that he denies it--a fair proof that Albert was not inclined to state
his views with dangerous clearness. For D'Oresme, see Santerem, Histoire
de la Cosmographie, vol. i, p. 142. For Peter of Abano, or Apono, as he
is often called, see Tiraboschi, also Guinguene, vol. ii, p. 293;
also Naude, Histoire des Grands Hommes soupconnes de Magie. For Cecco
d'Ascoli, see Montucla, Histoire de Mathematiques, i, 528; also Daunou,
Etudes Historiques, vol. vi, p. 320; also Kretschmer, p. 59. Concerning
Orcagna's representation of Cecco in the flames of hell, see Renan,
Averroes et l'Averroisme, Paris, 1867, p. 328.

Years rolled on, and there came in the fifteenth century one from
whom the world had a right to expect much. Pierre d'Ailly, by force of
thought and study, had risen to be Provost of the College of St. Die
in Lorraine; his ability had made that little village a centre of
scientific thought for all Europe, and finally made him Archbishop of
Cambray and a cardinal. Toward the end of the fifteenth century was
printed what Cardinal d'Ailly had written long before as a summing up
of his best thought and research--the collection of essays known as the
Ymago Mundi. It gives us one of the most striking examples in history
of a great man in theological fetters. As he approaches this question
he states it with such clearness that we expect to hear him assert the
truth; but there stands the argument of St. Augustine; there, too, stand
the biblical texts on which it is founded--the text from the Psalms and
the explicit declaration of St. Paul to the Romans, "Their sound went
into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world." D'Ailly
attempts to reason, but he is overawed, and gives to the world virtually

Still, the doctrine of the antipodes lived and moved: so much so that
the eminent Spanish theologian Tostatus, even as late as the age of
Columbus, felt called upon to protest against it as "unsafe." He had
shaped the old missile of St. Augustine into the following syllogism:
"The apostles were commanded to go into all the world and to preach the
gospel to every creature; they did not go to any such part of the world
as the antipodes; they did not preach to any creatures there: ergo, no
antipodes exist."

The warfare of Columbus the world knows well: how the Bishop of Ceuta
worsted him in Portugal; how sundry wise men of Spain confronted him
with the usual quotations from the Psalms, from St. Paul, and from St.
Augustine; how, even after he was triumphant, and after his voyage had
greatly strengthened the theory of the earth's sphericity, with which
the theory of the antipodes was so closely connected, the Church by its
highest authority solemnly stumbled and persisted in going astray. In
1493 Pope Alexander VI, having been appealed to as an umpire between the
claims of Spain and Portugal to the newly discovered parts of the earth,
issued a bull laying down upon the earth's surface a line of demarcation
between the two powers. This line was drawn from north to south a
hundred leagues west of the Azores; and the Pope in the plenitude of his
knowledge declared that all lands discovered east of this line should
belong to the Portuguese, and all west of it should belong to the
Spaniards. This was hailed as an exercise of divinely illuminated power
by the Church; but difficulties arose, and in 1506 another attempt
was made by Pope Julius II to draw the line three hundred and seventy
leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands. This, again, was supposed to
bring divine wisdom to settle the question; but, shortly, overwhelming
difficulties arose; for the Portuguese claimed Brazil, and, of course,
had no difficulty in showing that they could reach it by sailing to the
east of the line, provided they sailed long enough. The lines laid down
by Popes Alexander and Julius may still be found upon the maps of
the period, but their bulls have quietly passed into the catalogue of
ludicrous errors.

Yet the theological barriers to this geographical truth yielded but
slowly. Plain as it had become to scholars, they hesitated to declare
it to the world at large. Eleven hundred years had passed since St.
Augustine had proved its antagonism to Scripture, when Gregory Reysch
gave forth his famous encyclopaedia, the Margarita Philosophica. Edition
after edition was issued, and everywhere appeared in it the orthodox
statements; but they were evidently strained to the breaking point; for
while, in treating of the antipodes, Reysch refers respectfully to St.
Augustine as objecting to the scientific doctrine, he is careful not to
cite Scripture against it, and not less careful to suggest geographical
reasoning in favour of it.

But in 1519 science gains a crushing victory. Magellan makes his
famous voyage. He proves the earth to be round, for his expedition
circumnavigates it; he proves the doctrine of the antipodes, for his
shipmates see the peoples of the antipodes. Yet even this does not end
the war. Many conscientious men oppose the doctrine for two hundred
years longer. Then the French astronomers make their measurements of
degrees in equatorial and polar regions, and add to their proofs that
of the lengthened pendulum. When this was done, when the deductions of
science were seen to be established by the simple test of measurement,
beautifully and perfectly, and when a long line of trustworthy
explorers, including devoted missionaries, had sent home accounts of the
antipodes, then, and then only, this war of twelve centuries ended.

Such was the main result of this long war; but there were other results
not so fortunate. The efforts of Eusebius, Basil, and Lactantius to
deaden scientific thought; the efforts of Augustine to combat it; the
efforts of Cosmas to crush it by dogmatism; the efforts of Boniface
and Zachary to crush it by force, conscientious as they all were, had
resulted simply in impressing upon many leading minds the conviction
that science and religion are enemies.

On the other hand, what was gained by the warriors of science for
religion? Certainly a far more worthy conception of the world, and a far
more ennobling conception of that power which pervades and directs
it. Which is more consistent with a great religion, the cosmography
of Cosmas or that of Isaac Newton? Which presents a nobler field for
religious thought, the diatribes of Lactantius or the calm statements of

     (36) For D'Ailly's acceptance of St. Augustine's argument, see the Ymago
Mundi, cap. vii. For Tostatus, see Zockler, vol. i, pp. 467, 468. He
based his opposition on Romans x, 18. For Columbus, see Winsor,
Fiske, and Adams; also Humboldt, Histoire de la Geographie du Nouveau
Continent. For the bull of Alexander VI, see Daunou, Etudes Historiques,
vol. ii, p. 417; also Peschel, Zeitalter der Entdeckungen, Book II,
chap. iv. The text of the bull is given with an English translation
in Arber's reprint of The First Three English Books on America, etc.,
Birmingham, 1885, pp. 201-204; also especially Peschel, Die Theilung der
Erde unter Papst Alexander VI and Julius II, Leipsic, 1871, pp. 14
et seq. For remarks on the power under which the line was drawn by
Alexander VI, see Mamiani, Del Papato nei Tre Ultimi Secoli, p. 170.
For maps showing lines of division, see Kohl, Die beiden altesten
General-Karten von Amerika, Weimar, 1860, where maps of 1527 and 1529
are reproduced; also Mercator, Atlas, tenth edition, Amsterdam, 1628,
pp. 70, 71. For latest discussion on The Demarcation Line of Alexander
VI, see E. G. Bourne in Yale Review, May, 1892. For the Margarita
Philosophica, see the editions of 1503, 1509, 1517, lib. vii, cap. 48.
For the effect of Magellan's voyages, and the reluctance to yield to
proof, see Henri Martin, Histoire de France, vol. xiv, p. 395; St.
Martin's Histoire de la Geographie, p. 369; Peschel, Geschichte des
Zeitalters der Entdeckungen, concluding chapters; and for an admirable
summary, Draper, Hist. Int. Devel. of Europe, pp. 451-453; also an
interesting passage in Sir Thomas Brown's Vulgar and Common Errors, Book
I, chap. vi; also a striking passage in Acosta, chap. ii. For general
statement as to supplementary proof by measurement of degrees and by
pendulum, see Somerville, Phys. Geog., chap. i, par. 6, note; also
Humboldt, Cosmos, vol. ii, p. 736, and vol. v, pp. 16, 32; also
Montucla, iv, 138. As to the effect of travel, see Acosta's history
above cited. The good missionary says, in Grimston's quaint translation,
"Whatsoever Lactantius saith, wee that live now at Peru, and inhabite
that parte of the worlde which is opposite to Asia and theire Antipodes,
finde not ourselves to bee hanging in the aire, our heades downward and
our feete on high."


But at an early period another subject in geography had stirred the
minds of thinking men--THE EARTH'S SIZE. Various ancient investigators
had by different methods reached measurements more or less near the
truth; these methods were continued into the Middle Ages, supplemented
by new thought, and among the more striking results were those obtained
by Roger Bacon and Gerbert, afterward Pope Sylvester II. They handed
down to after-time the torch of knowledge, but, as their reward among
their contemporaries, they fell under the charge of sorcery.

Far more consonant with the theological spirit of the Middle Ages was a
solution of the problem from Scripture, and this solution deserves to
be given as an example of a very curious theological error, chancing to
result in the establishment of a great truth. The second book of Esdras,
which among Protestants is placed in the Apocrypha, was held by many of
the foremost men of the ancient Church as fully inspired: though Jerome
looked with suspicion on this book, it was regarded as prophetic
by Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Ambrose, and the Church
acquiesced in that view. In the Eastern Church it held an especially
high place, and in the Western Church, before the Reformation, was
generally considered by the most eminent authorities to be part of the
sacred canon. In the sixth chapter of this book there is a summary of
the works of creation, and in it occur the following verses:

"Upon the third day thou didst command that the waters should be
gathered in the seventh part of the earth; six parts hast thou dried up
and kept them to the intent that of these some, being planted of God and
tilled, might serve thee."

"Upon the fifth day thou saidst unto the seventh part where the waters
were gathered, that it should bring forth living creatures, fowls and
fishes, and so it came to pass."

These statements were reiterated in other verses, and were naturally
considered as of controlling authority.

Among the scholars who pondered on this as on all things likely to
increase knowledge was Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly. As we have seen, this
great man, while he denied the existence of the antipodes, as St.
Augustine had done, believed firmly in the sphericity of the earth, and,
interpreting these statements of the book of Esdras in connection with
this belief, he held that, as only one seventh of the earth's surface
was covered by water, the ocean between the west coast of Europe and the
east coast of Asia could not be very wide. Knowing, as he thought, the
extent of the land upon the globe, he felt that in view of this divinely
authorized statement the globe must be much smaller, and the land of
"Zipango," reached by Marco Polo, on the extreme east coast of Asia,
much nearer than had been generally believed.

On this point he laid stress in his great work, the Ymago Mundi, and
an edition of it having been published in the days when Columbus
was thinking most closely upon the problem of a westward voyage, it
naturally exercised much influence upon his reasonings. Among the
treasures of the library at Seville, there is nothing more interesting
than a copy of this work annotated by Columbus himself: from this very
copy it was that Columbus obtained confirmation of his belief that the
passage across the ocean to Marco Polo's land of Zipango in Asia was
short. But for this error, based upon a text supposed to be inspired, it
is unlikely that Columbus could have secured the necessary support for
his voyage. It is a curious fact that this single theological error thus
promoted a series of voyages which completely destroyed not only
this but every other conception of geography based upon the sacred

     (37) For this error, so fruitful in discovery, see D'Ailly, Ymago Mundi;
the passage referred to is fol. 12 verso. For the passage from Esdras,
see chap. vi, verses 42, 47, 50, and 52; see also Zockler, Geschichte
der Beziehungen zwischen Theologie und Naturweissenschaft, vol. i,
p. 461. For one of the best recent statements, see Ruge, Gesch. des
Zeitalters der Entdeckungen, Berlin, 1882, pp. 221 et seq. For a letter
of Columbus acknowledging his indebtedness to this mistake in Esdras,
see Navarrete, Viajes y Descubrimientos, Madrid, 1825, tome i, pp. 242,
264; also Humboldt, Hist. de la Geographie du Nouveau Continent, vol. i,
pp. 68, 69.


It would be hardly just to dismiss the struggle for geographical truth
without referring to one passage more in the history of the Protestant
Church, for it shows clearly the difficulties in the way of the simplest
statement of geographical truth which conflicted with the words of the
sacred books.

In the year 1553 Michael Servetus was on trial for his life at Geneva
on the charge of Arianism. Servetus had rendered many services
to scientific truth, and one of these was an edition of Ptolemy's
Geography, in which Judea was spoken of, not as "a land flowing with
milk and honey," but, in strict accordance with the truth, as, in
the main, meagre, barren, and inhospitable. In his trial this simple
statement of geographical fact was used against him by his arch-enemy
John Calvin with fearful power. In vain did Servetus plead that he had
simply drawn the words from a previous edition of Ptolemy; in vain did
he declare that this statement was a simple geographical truth of which
there were ample proofs: it was answered that such language "necessarily
inculpated Moses, and grievously outraged the Holy Ghost."(38)

     (38) For Servetus's geographical offense, see Rilliet, Relation du
Proces criminel contre Michel Servet d'apres les Documents originaux,
Geneva, 1844, pp. 42,43; also Willis, Servetus and Calvin, London, 1877,
p. 325. The passage condemned is in the Ptolemy of 1535, fol. 41. It was
discreetly retrenched in a reprint of the same edition.

In summing up the action of the Church upon geography, we must say,
then, that the dogmas developed in strict adherence to Scripture and
the conceptions held in the Church during many centuries "always, every
where, and by all," were, on the whole, steadily hostile to truth; but
it is only just to make a distinction here between the religious and the
theological spirit. To the religious spirit are largely due several
of the noblest among the great voyages of discovery. A deep longing to
extend the realms of Christianity influenced the minds of Prince John
of Portugal, in his great series of efforts along the African coast;
of Vasco da Gama, in his circumnavigation of the Cape of Good Hope; of
Magellan, in his voyage around the world; and doubtless found a place
among the more worldly motives of Columbus.(39)

     (39) As to the earlier mixture in the motives of Columbus, it may be
well to compare with the earlier biographies the recent ones by Dr.
Winsor and President Adams.

Thus, in this field, from the supremacy accorded to theology, we find
resulting that tendency to dogmatism which has shown itself in all
ages the deadly foe not only of scientific inquiry but of the higher
religious spirit itself, while from the love of truth for truth's sake,
which has been the inspiration of all fruitful work in science, nothing
but advantage has ever resulted to religion.



The next great series of battles was fought over the relations of the
visible heavens to the earth.

In the early Church, in view of the doctrine so prominent in the New
Testament, that the earth was soon to be destroyed, and that there were
to be "new heavens and a new earth," astronomy, like other branches of
science, was generally looked upon as futile. Why study the old heavens
and the old earth, when they were so soon to be replaced with something
infinitely better? This feeling appears in St. Augustine's famous
utterance, "What concern is it to me whether the heavens as a sphere
inclose the earth in the middle of the world or overhang it on either

As to the heavenly bodies, theologians looked on them as at best only
objects of pious speculation. Regarding their nature the fathers of the
Church were divided. Origen, and others with him, thought them living
beings possessed of souls, and this belief was mainly based upon the
scriptural vision of the morning stars. singing together, and upon
the beautiful appeal to the "stars and light" in the song of the three
children--the Benedicite--which the Anglican communion has so wisely
retained in its Liturgy.

Other fathers thought the stars abiding-places of the angels, and that
stars were moved by angels. The Gnostics thought the stars spiritual
beings governed by angels, and appointed not to cause earthly events but
to indicate them.

As to the heavens in general, the prevailing view in the Church
was based upon the scriptural declarations that a solid vault--a
"firmament"--was extended above the earth, and that the heavenly
bodies were simply lights hung within it. This was for a time held
very tenaciously. St. Philastrius, in his famous treatise on heresies,
pronounced it a heresy to deny that the stars are brought out by God
from his treasure-house and hung in the sky every evening; any other
view he declared "false to the Catholic faith." This view also survived
in the sacred theory established so firmly by Cosmas in the sixth
century. Having established his plan of the universe upon various texts
in the Old and New Testaments, and having made it a vast oblong box,
covered by the solid "firmament," he brought in additional texts from
Scripture to account for the planetary movements, and developed at
length the theory that the sun and planets are moved and the "windows of
heaven" opened and shut by angels appointed for that purpose.

How intensely real this way of looking at the universe was, we find in
the writings of St. Isidore, the greatest leader of orthodox thought
in the seventh century. He affirms that since the fall of man, and
on account of it, the sun and moon shine with a feebler light; but he
proves from a text in Isaiah that when the world shall be fully redeemed
these "great lights" will shine again in all their early splendour.
But, despite these authorities and their theological finalities, the
evolution of scientific thought continued, its main germ being the
geocentric doctrine--the doctrine that the earth is the centre, and that
the sun and planets revolve about it.(40)

     (40) For passage cited from Clement of Alexandria, see English
translation, Edinburgh, 1869, vol. ii, p. 368; also the Miscellanies,
Book V, cap. vi. For typical statements by St. Augustine, see De Genesi,
ii, cap. ix, in Migne, Patr. Lat., tome xxiv, pp. 270-271. For Origen's
view, see the De Principiis, lib. i, cap. vii; see also Leopardi's
Errori Populari, cap. xi; also Wilson's Selections from the Prophetic
Scriptures in Ante-Nicene Library, p. 132. For Philo Judaeus, see On the
Creation of the World, chaps. xviii and xix, and On Monarchy, chap. i.
For St. Isidore, see the De Ordine Creaturarum, cap v, in Migne, Patr.
Lat., lxxxiii, pp. 923-925; also 1000, 1001. For Philastrius, see the
De Hoeresibus, chap. cxxxiii, in Migne, tome xii, p. 1264. For Cosmas's
view, see his Topographia Christiana, in Montfaucon, Col. Nov. Patrum,
ii, p. 150, and elsewhere as cited in my chapter on Geography.

This doctrine was of the highest respectability: it had been developed
at a very early period, and had been elaborated until it accounted
well for the apparent movements of the heavenly bodies; its final name,
"Ptolemaic theory," carried weight; and, having thus come from antiquity
into the Christian world, St. Clement of Alexandria demonstrated that
the altar in the Jewish tabernacle was "a symbol of the earth placed
in the middle of the universe": nothing more was needed; the geocentric
theory was fully adopted by the Church and universally held to agree
with the letter and spirit of Scripture.(41)

     (41) As to the respectibility of the geocentric theory, etc., see
Grote's Plato, vol. iii, p. 257; also Sir G. C. Lewis's Astronomy of the
Ancients, chap. iii, sec. 1, for a very thoughtful statement of Plato's
view, and differing from ancient statements. For plausible elaboration
of it, and for supposed agreement of the Scripture with it, see
Fromundus, Anti-Aristarchus, Antwerp, 1631; also Melanchthon's Initia
Doctrinae Physicae. For an admirable statement of the theological view
of the geocentric theory, antipodes, etc., see Eicken, Geschichte und
System der mittelalterlichen Weltanschauung, pp. 618 et seq.

Wrought into this foundation, and based upon it, there was developed
in the Middle Ages, mainly out of fragments of Chaldean and other early
theories preserved in the Hebrew Scriptures, a new sacred system of
astronomy, which became one of the great treasures of the universal
Church--the last word of revelation.

Three great men mainly reared this structure. First was the unknown who
gave to the world the treatises ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite.
It was unhesitatingly believed that these were the work of St. Paul's
Athenian convert, and therefore virtually of St. Paul himself. Though
now known to be spurious, they were then considered a treasure of
inspiration, and an emperor of the East sent them to an emperor of the
West as the most worthy of gifts. In the ninth century they were widely
circulated in western Europe, and became a fruitful source of thought,
especially on the whole celestial hierarchy. Thus the old ideas of
astronomy were vastly developed, and the heavenly hosts were classed
and named in accordance with indications scattered through the sacred

The next of these three great theologians was Peter Lombard, professor
at the University of Paris. About the middle of the twelfth century he
gave forth his collection of Sentences, or Statements by the Fathers,
and this remained until the end of the Middle Ages the universal manual
of theology. In it was especially developed the theological view of
man's relation to the universe. The author tells the world: "Just as
man is made for the sake of God--that is, that he may serve Him,--so the
universe is made for the sake of man--that is, that it may serve HIM;
therefore is man placed at the middle point of the universe, that he may
both serve and be served."

The vast significance of this view, and its power in resisting any real
astronomical science, we shall see, especially in the time of Galileo.

The great triad of thinkers culminated in St. Thomas Aquinas--the
sainted theologian, the glory of the mediaeval Church, the "Angelic
Doctor," the most marvellous intellect between Aristotle and Newton; he
to whom it was believed that an image of the Crucified had spoken words
praising his writings. Large of mind, strong, acute, yet just--even more
than just--to his opponents, he gave forth, in the latter half of the
thirteenth century, his Cyclopaedia of Theology, the Summa Theologica.
In this he carried the sacred theory of the universe to its full
development. With great power and clearness he brought the whole vast
system, material and spiritual, into its relations to God and man.(42)

     (42) For the beliefs of Chaldean astronomers in revolving spheres
carrying sun, moon, and planets, in a solid firmament supporting the
celestial waters, and in angels as giving motion to the planets, see
Lenormant; also Lethaby, 13-21; also Schroeder, Jensen, Lukas, et al.
For the contribution of the pseudo-Dionysius to mediaeval cosmology, see
Dion. Areopagita, De Coelesti Hierarchia, vers. Joan. Scoti, in Migne,
Patr. Lat., cxxii. For the contribution of Peter Lombard, see Pet.
Lomb., Libr. Sent., II, i, 8,-IV, i, 6, 7, in Migne, tome 192. For the
citations from St. Thomas Aquinas, see the Summa, ed. Migne, especially
Pars I, Qu. 70, (tome i, pp. 1174-1184); also Quaestio 47, Art. iii. For
good general statement, see Milman, Latin Christianity, iv, 191 et seq.;
and for relation of Cosmas to these theologians of western Europe, see
Milman, as above, viii, 228, note.

Thus was the vast system developed by these three leaders of mediaeval
thought; and now came the man who wrought it yet more deeply into
European belief, the poet divinely inspired who made the system part
of the world's LIFE. Pictured by Dante, the empyrean and the concentric
heavens, paradise, purgatory, and hell, were seen of all men; the God
Triune, seated on his throne upon the circle of the heavens, as real as
the Pope seated in the chair of St. Peter; the seraphim, cherubim, and
thrones, surrounding the Almighty, as real as the cardinals surrounding
the Pope; the three great orders of angels in heaven, as real as the
three great orders, bishops, priests, and deacons, on earth; and the
whole system of spheres, each revolving within the one above it, and
all moving about the earth, subject to the primum mobile, as real as the
feudal system of western Europe, subject to the Emperor.(43)

     (43) For the central sun, hierarchy of angels, and concentric circles,
see Dante, Paradiso, canto xxviii. For the words of St. Thomas Aquinas,
showing to Virgil and Dante the great theologians of the Middle Ages,
see canto x, and in Dean Plumptre's translation, vol. ii, pp. 56 et
seq.; also Botta, Dante, pp. 350, 351. As to Dante's deep religious
feeling and belief in his own divine mission, see J. R. Lowell, Among
my Books, vol. i, p. 36. For a remarkable series of coloured engravings,
showing Dante's whole cosmology, see La Materia della Divina Comedia di
Dante dichiriata in vi tavole, da Michelangelo Caetani, published by the
monks of Monte Cassino, to whose kindness I am indebted for my copy.

Let us look into this vast creation--the highest achievement of
theology--somewhat more closely.

Its first feature shows a development out of earlier theological ideas.
The earth is no longer a flat plain inclosed by four walls and solidly
vaulted above, as theologians of previous centuries had believed it,
under the inspiration of Cosmas; it is no longer a mere flat disk, with
sun, moon, and stars hung up to give it light, as the earlier cathedral
sculptors had figured it; it has become a globe at the centre of the
universe. Encompassing it are successive transparent spheres, rotated
by angels about the earth, and each carrying one or more of the heavenly
bodies with it: that nearest the earth carrying the moon; the next,
Mercury; the next, Venus; the next, the Sun; the next three, Mars,
Jupiter, and Saturn; the eighth carrying the fixed stars. The ninth was
the primum mobile, and inclosing all was the tenth heaven--the Empyrean.
This was immovable--the boundary between creation and the great outer
void; and here, in a light which no one can enter, the Triune God sat
enthroned, the "music of the spheres" rising to Him as they moved. Thus
was the old heathen doctrine of the spheres made Christian.

In attendance upon the Divine Majesty, thus enthroned, are vast hosts
of angels, who are divided into three hierarchies, one serving in the
empyrean, one in the heavens, between the empyrean and the earth, and
one on the earth.

Each of these hierarchies is divided into three choirs, or orders; the
first, into the orders of Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones; and the main
occupation of these is to chant incessantly--to "continually cry" the
divine praises.

The order of Thrones conveys God's will to the second hierarchy, which
serves in the movable heavens. This second hierarchy is also made up of
three orders. The first of these, the order of Dominions, receives the
divine commands; the second, the order of Powers, moves the heavens,
sun, moon, planets, and stars, opens and shuts the "windows of heaven,"
and brings to pass all other celestial phenomena; the third, the order
of Empire, guards the others.

The third and lowest hierarchy is also made up of three orders. First
of these are the Principalities, the guardian spirits of nations and
kingdoms. Next come Archangels; these protect religion, and bear the
prayers of the saints to the foot of God's throne. Finally come Angels;
these care for earthly affairs in general, one being appointed to each
mortal, and others taking charge of the qualities of plants, metals,
stones, and the like. Throughout the whole system, from the great Triune
God to the lowest group of angels, we see at work the mystic power
attached to the triangle and sacred number three--the same which gave
the triune idea to ancient Hindu theology, which developed the triune
deities in Egypt, and which transmitted this theological gift to the
Christian world, especially through the Egyptian Athanasius.

Below the earth is hell. This is tenanted by the angels who rebelled
under the lead of Lucifer, prince of the seraphim--the former favourite
of the Trinity; but, of these rebellious angels, some still rove among
the planetary spheres, and give trouble to the good angels; others
pervade the atmosphere about the earth, carrying lightning, storm,
drought, and hail; others infest earthly society, tempting men to sin;
but Peter Lombard and St. Thomas Aquinas take pains to show that the
work of these devils is, after all, but to discipline man or to mete out
deserved punishment.

All this vast scheme had been so riveted into the Ptolemaic view by
the use of biblical texts and theological reasonings that the resultant
system of the universe was considered impregnable and final. To attack
it was blasphemy.

It stood for centuries. Great theological men of science, like Vincent
of Beauvais and Cardinal d'Ailly, devoted themselves to showing not only
that it was supported by Scripture, but that it supported Scripture.
Thus was the geocentric theory embedded in the beliefs and aspirations,
in the hopes and fears, of Christendom down to the middle of the
sixteenth century.(44)

     (44) For the earlier cosmology of Cosmas, with citations from
Montfaucon, see the chapter on Geography in this work. For the views
of mediaeval theologians, see foregoing notes in this chapter. For the
passages of Scripture on which the theological part of this structure
was developed, see especially Romans viii, 38; Ephesians i, 21;
Colossians i, 16 and ii, 15; and innumerable passages in the Old
Testament. As to the music of the spheres, see Dean Plumptre's Dante,
vol. ii, p. 4, note. For an admirable summing up of the mediaeval
cosmology in its relation to thought in general, see Rydberg, Magic of
the Middle Ages, chap. i, whose summary I have followed in the main. For
striking woodcuts showing the view taken of the successive heavens with
their choirs of angels, the earth being at the centre with the spheres
about it, and the Almighty on his throne above all, see the Neuremberg
Chronicle, ff. iv and v; its date is 1493. For charts showing the
continuance of this general view down to the beginning of the sixteenth
century, see the various editions of the Margarita Philosophica, from
that of 1503 onward, astronomical part. For interesting statements
regarding the Trinities of gods in ancient Egypt, see Sharpe, History of
Egypt, vol. i, pp. 94 and 101. The present writer once heard a lecture
in Cairo, from an eminent Scotch Doctor of Medicine, to account for the
ancient Hindu and Egyptian sacred threes and trinities. The lecturer's
theory was that, when Jehovah came down into the Garden of Eden and
walked with Adam in "the cool of the day," he explained his triune
character to Adam, and that from Adam it was spread abroad to the
various ancient nations.


But, on the other hand, there had been planted, long before, the
germs of a heliocentric theory. In the sixth century before our era,
Pythagoras, and after him Philolaus, had suggested the movement of the
earth and planets about a central fire; and, three centuries later,
Aristarchus had restated the main truth with striking precision. Here
comes in a proof that the antagonism between theological and scientific
methods is not confined to Christianity; for this statement brought
upon Aristarchus the charge of blasphemy, and drew after it a cloud of
prejudice which hid the truth for six hundred years. Not until the fifth
century of our era did it timidly appear in the thoughts of Martianus
Capella: then it was again lost to sight for a thousand years, until
in the fifteenth century, distorted and imperfect, it appeared in the
writings of Cardinal Nicholas de Cusa.

But in the shade cast by the vast system which had grown from the minds
of the great theologians and from the heart of the great poet there had
come to this truth neither bloom nor fruitage.

Quietly, however, the soil was receiving enrichment and the air warmth.
The processes of mathematics were constantly improved, the heavenly
bodies were steadily observed, and at length appeared, far from the
centres of thought, on the borders of Poland, a plain, simple-minded
scholar, who first fairly uttered to the modern world the truth--now so
commonplace, then so astounding--that the sun and planets do not revolve
about the earth, but that the earth and planets revolve about the sun:
this man was Nicholas Copernicus.

Copernicus had been a professor at Rome, and even as early as 1500
had announced his doctrine there, but more in the way of a scientific
curiosity or paradox, as it had been previously held by Cardinal de
Cusa, than as the statement of a system representing a great fact in
Nature. About thirty years later one of his disciples, Widmanstadt, had
explained it to Clement VII; but it still remained a mere hypothesis,
and soon, like so many others, disappeared from the public view. But
to Copernicus, steadily studying the subject, it became more and more
a reality, and as this truth grew within him he seemed to feel that at
Rome he was no longer safe. To announce his discovery there as a theory
or a paradox might amuse the papal court, but to announce it as a
truth--as THE truth--was a far different matter. He therefore returned
to his little town in Poland.

To publish his thought as it had now developed was evidently dangerous
even there, and for more than thirty years it lay slumbering in the mind
of Copernicus and of the friends to whom he had privately intrusted it.

At last he prepared his great work on the Revolutions of the Heavenly
Bodies, and dedicated it to the Pope himself. He next sought a place of
publication. He dared not send it to Rome, for there were the rulers of
the older Church ready to seize it; he dared not send it to Wittenberg,
for there were the leaders of Protestantism no less hostile; he
therefore intrusted it to Osiander, at Nuremberg.(45)

     (45) For the germs of heliocentric theory planted long before, see Sir
G. C. Lewis; and for a succinct statement of the claims of Pythagoras,
Philolaus, Aristarchus, and Martianus Capella, see Hoefer, Histoire de
l'Astronomie, 1873, p. 107 et seq.; also Heller, Geschichte der Physik,
Stuttgart, 1882, vol. i, pp. 12, 13; also pp. 99 et seq. For germs among
thinkers of India, see Whewell, vol. i, p. 277; also Whitney, Oriental
and Linguistic Studies, New York, 1874; Essay on the Lunar Zodiac, p.
345. For the views of Vincent of Beauvais, see his Speculum Naturale,
lib. xvi, cap. 21. For Cardinal d'Ailly's view, see his treatise De
Concordia Astronomicae Veritatis cum Theologia (in his Ymago Mundi
and separately). For general statement of De Cusa's work, see Draper,
Intellectual Development of Europe, p. 512. For skilful use of De Cusa's
view in order to mitigate censure upon the Church for its treatment
of Copernicus's discovery, see an article in the Catholic World for
January, 1869. For a very exact statement, in the spirit of judicial
fairness, see Whewell, History of the Inductive Sciences, p. 275, and
pp. 379, 380. In the latter, Whewell cites the exact words of De Cusa
in the De Docta Ignorantia, and sums up in these words: "This train
of thought might be a preparation for the reception of the Copernican
system; but it is very different from the doctrine that the sun is the
centre of the planetary system." Whewell says: "De Cusa propounded the
doctrine of the motion of the earth more as a paradox than as a reality.
We can not consider this as any distinct anticipation of a profound and
consistent view of the truth." On De Cusa, see also Heller, vol. i, p.
216. For Aristotle's views, and their elaboration by St. Thomas Aquinas,
see the De Coelo et Mundo, sec. xx, and elsewhere in the latter. It is
curious to see how even such a biographer as Archbishop Vaughan slurs
over the angelic Doctor's errors. See Vaughan's Life and Labours of St.
Thomas of Aquin, pp. 459, 460.

As to Copernicus's danger at Rome, the Catholic World for January, 1869,
cites a speech of the Archbishop of Mechlin before the University of
Louvain, to the effect that Copernicus defended his theory at Rome, in
1500, before two thousand scholars; also, that another professor taught
the system in 1528, and was made apostolic notary by Clement VIII. All
this, even if the doctrines taught were identical with Copernicus as
finally developed--which is simply not the case--avails nothing
against the overwhelming testimony that Copernicus felt himself in
danger--testimony which the after-history of the Copernican theory
renders invincible. The very title of Fromundus's book, already cited,
published within a few miles of the archbishop's own cathedral, and
sanctioned expressly by the theological faculty of that same University
of Louvain in 1630, utterly refutes the archbishop's idea that the
Church was inclined to treat Copernicus kindly. The title is as
follows: Ant-Aristarchus sive Orbis-Terrae Immobilis, in quo decretum
S. Congregationis S. R. E. Cardinal. an. M.DC.XVI adversus
Pythagorico-Copernicanos editum defenditur, Antverpiae, MDCXXI.
L'Epinois, Galilee, Paris, 1867, lays stress, p. 14, on the broaching of
the doctrine by De Cusa in 1435, and by Widmanstadt in 1533, and their
kind treatment by Eugenius IV and Clement VII; but this is absolutely
worthless in denying the papal policy afterward. Lange, Geschichte des
Materialismus, vol. i, pp. 217, 218, while admitting that De Cusa
and Widmanstadt sustained this theory and received honors from
their respective popes, shows that, when the Church gave it serious
consideration, it was condemned. There is nothing in this view
unreasonable. It would be a parallel case to that of Leo X, at first
inclined toward Luther and others, in their "squabbles with the envious
friars," and afterward forced to oppose them. That Copernicus felt
the danger, is evident, among other things, by the expression in the
preface: "Statim me explodendum cum tali opinione clamitant." For
dangers at Wittenberg, see Lange, as above, vol. i, p. 217.

But Osiander's courage failed him: he dared not launch the new thought
boldly. He wrote a grovelling preface, endeavouring to excuse Copernicus
for his novel idea, and in this he inserted the apologetic lie that
Copernicus had propounded the doctrine of the earth's movement not as
a fact, but as a hypothesis. He declared that it was lawful for an
astronomer to indulge his imagination, and that this was what Copernicus
had done.

Thus was the greatest and most ennobling, perhaps, of scientific
truths--a truth not less ennobling to religion than to science--forced,
in coming before the world, to sneak and crawl.(46)

     (46) Osiander, in a letter to Copernicus, dated April 20, 1541, had
endeavored to reconcile him to such a procedure, and ends by saying,
"Sic enim placidiores reddideris peripatheticos et theologos quos
contradicturos metuis." See Apologia Tychonis in Kepler's Opera Omnia,
Frisch's edition, vol. i, p. 246. Kepler holds Osiander entirely
responsible for this preface. Bertrand, in his Fondateurs de
l'astronomie moderne, gives its text, and thinks it possible that
Copernicus may have yielded "in pure condescension toward his disciple."
But this idea is utterly at variance with expressions in Copernicus's
own dedicatory letter to the Pope, which follows the preface. For a good
summary of the argument, see Figuier, Savants de la Renaissance, pp.
378, 379; see also citation from Gassendi's Life of Copernicus, in
Flammarion, Vie de Copernic, p. 124. Mr. John Fiske, accurate as
he usually is, in his Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy appears to have
followed Laplace, Delambre, and Petit into the error of supposing that
Copernicus, and not Osiander, is responsible for the preface. For the
latest proofs, see Menzer's translation of Copernicus's work, Thorn,
1879, notes on pp. 3 and 4 of the appendix.

On the 24th of May, 1543, the newly printed book arrived at the house of
Copernicus. It was put into his hands; but he was on his deathbed. A few
hours later he was beyond the reach of the conscientious men who would
have blotted his reputation and perhaps have destroyed his life.

Yet not wholly beyond their reach. Even death could not be trusted to
shield him. There seems to have been fear of vengeance upon his corpse,
for on his tombstone was placed no record of his lifelong labours, no
mention of his great discovery; but there was graven upon it simply a
prayer: "I ask not the grace accorded to Paul; not that given to Peter;
give me only the favour which Thou didst show to the thief on the

Not till thirty years after did a friend dare write on his tombstone a
memorial of his discovery.(47)

     (47) See Flammarion, Vie de Copernic, p. 190.

The preface of Osiander, pretending that the book of Copernicus
suggested a hypothesis instead of announcing a truth, served its purpose
well. During nearly seventy years the Church authorities evidently
thought it best not to stir the matter, and in some cases professors
like Calganini were allowed to present the new view purely as a
hypothesis. There were, indeed, mutterings from time to time on the
theological side, but there was no great demonstration against the
system until 1616. Then, when the Copernican doctrine was upheld by
Galileo as a TRUTH, and proved to be a truth by his telescope, the book
was taken in hand by the Roman curia. The statements of Copernicus
were condemned, "until they should be corrected"; and the corrections
required were simply such as would substitute for his conclusions the
old Ptolemaic theory.

That this was their purpose was seen in that year when Galileo was
forbidden to teach or discuss the Copernican theory, and when were
forbidden "all books which affirm the motion of the earth." Henceforth
to read the work of Copernicus was to risk damnation, and the world
accepted the decree.(48) The strongest minds were thus held fast. If
they could not believe the old system, they must PRETEND that they
believed it;--and this, even after the great circumnavigation of the
globe had done so much to open the eyes of the world! Very striking is
the case of the eminent Jesuit missionary Joseph Acosta, whose great
work on the Natural and Moral History of the Indies, published in the
last quarter of the sixteenth century, exploded so many astronomical and
geographical errors. Though at times curiously credulous, he told the
truth as far as he dared; but as to the movement of the heavenly bodies
he remained orthodox--declaring, "I have seen the two poles, whereon the
heavens turn as upon their axletrees."

     (48) The authorities deciding this matter in accordance with the wishes
of Pope V and Cardinal Bellarmine were the Congregation of the Index,
or cardinals having charge of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Recent
desperate attempts to fasten the responsibility on them as individuals
seem ridiculous in view of the simple fact that their work was
sanctioned by the highest Church authority, and required to be
universally accepted by the Church. Eleven different editions of the
Index in my own possession prove this. Nearly all of these declare on
their title-pages that they are issued by order of the pontiff of the
period, and each is preface by a special papal bull or letter. See
especially the Index of 1664, issued under order of Alexander VII,
and that of 1761, under Benedict XIV. Copernicus's statements were
prohibited in the Index "donec corrigantur." Kepler said that it ought
to be worded "donec explicetur." See Bertand, Fondateurs de l'Astronomie
moderne, p. 57. De Morgan, pp. 57-60, gives the corrections required by
the Index of 1620. Their main aim seems to be to reduce Copernicus
to the grovelling level of Osiander, making his discovery a mere
hypothesis; but occasionally they require a virtual giving up of the
whole Copernican doctrine--e.g., "correction" insisted upon for chap.
viii, p. 6. For a scholarly account of the relation between Prohibitory
and Expurgatory Indexes to each other, see Mendham, Literary Policy
of the Church of Rome; also Reusch, Index der verbotenen Bucher, Bonn,
1855, vol. ii, chaps i and ii. For a brief but very careful statement,
see Gebler, Galileo Galilei, English translation, London, 1879, chap. i;
see also Addis and Arnold's Catholic Dictionary, article Galileo, p.8.

There was, indeed, in Europe one man who might have done much to check
this current of unreason which was to sweep away so many thoughtful men
on the one hand from scientific knowledge, and so many on the other from
Christianity. This was Peter Apian. He was one of the great mathematical
and astronomical scholars of the time. His brilliant abilities had
made him the astronomical teacher of the Emperor Charles V. His work on
geography had brought him a world-wide reputation; his work on astronomy
brought him a patent of nobility; his improvements in mathematical
processes and astronomical instruments brought him the praise of Kepler
and a place in the history of science: never had a true man better
opportunity to do a great deed. When Copernicus's work appeared, Apian
was at the height of his reputation and power: a quiet, earnest
plea from him, even if it had been only for ordinary fairness and a
suspension of judgment, must have carried much weight. His devoted
pupil, Charles V, who sat on the thrones of Germany and Spain, must at
least have given a hearing to such a plea. But, unfortunately, Apian
was a professor in an institution of learning under the strictest Church
control--the University of Ingolstadt. His foremost duty was to teach
SAFE science--to keep science within the line of scriptural truth as
interpreted by theological professors. His great opportunity was lost.
Apian continued to maunder over the Ptolemaic theory and astrology
in his lecture-room. The attack on the Copernican theory he neither
supported nor opposed; he was silent; and the cause of his silence
should never be forgotten so long as any Church asserts its title to
control university instruction.(49)

     (49) For Joseph Acosta's statement, see the translation of his History,
published by the Hakluyt Society, chap. ii. For Peter Apian, see Madler,
Geschichte der Astronomie, Braunschweig, 1873, vol. i, p. 141. For
evidences of the special favour of Charles V, see Delambre, Histoire
de l'Astronomie au Moyen Age, p. 390; also Bruhns, in the Allgemeine
deutsche Biographie. For an attempted apology for him, see Gunther,
Peter and Philipp Apian, Prag, 1822, p. 62.

Doubtless many will exclaim against the Roman Catholic Church for this;
but the simple truth is that Protestantism was no less zealous
against the new scientific doctrine. All branches of the Protestant
Church--Lutheran, Calvinist, Anglican--vied with each other in
denouncing the Copernican doctrine as contrary to Scripture; and, at a
later period, the Puritans showed the same tendency.

Said Martin Luther: "People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove
to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the
sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some
new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool
wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture
tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the
earth." Melanchthon, mild as he was, was not behind Luther in condemning
Copernicus. In his treatise on the Elements of Physics, published six
years after Copernicus's death, he says: "The eyes are witnesses that
the heavens revolve in the space of twenty-four hours. But certain men,
either from the love of novelty, or to make a display of ingenuity,
have concluded that the earth moves; and they maintain that neither the
eighth sphere nor the sun revolves.... Now, it is a want of honesty and
decency to assert such notions publicly, and the example is pernicious.
It is the part of a good mind to accept the truth as revealed by God and
to acquiesce in it." Melanchthon then cites the passages in the Psalms
and Ecclesiastes, which he declares assert positively and clearly that
the earth stands fast and that the sun moves around it, and adds eight
other proofs of his proposition that "the earth can be nowhere if not
in the centre of the universe." So earnest does this mildest of the
Reformers become, that he suggests severe measures to restrain such
impious teachings as those of Copernicus.(50)

     (50) See the Tischreden in the Walsch edition of Luther's Works, 1743,
vol. xxii, p. 2260; also Melanchthon's Initia Doctrinae Physicae.
This treatise is cited under a mistaken title by the Catholic World,
September, 1870. The correct title is as given above; it will be found
in the Corpus Reformatorum, vol. xiii (ed. Bretschneider, Halle, 1846),
pp. 216, 217. See also Madler, vol. i, p. 176; also Lange, Geschichte
des Materialismus, vol. i, p. 217; also Prowe, Ueber die Abhangigkeit
des Copernicus, Thorn, 1865, p. 4; also note, pp. 5, 6, where text is
given in full.

While Lutheranism was thus condemning the theory of the earth's
movement, other branches of the Protestant Church did not remain behind.
Calvin took the lead, in his Commentary on Genesis, by condemning all
who asserted that the earth is not at the centre of the universe. He
clinched the matter by the usual reference to the first verse of the
ninety-third Psalm, and asked, "Who will venture to place the authority
of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?" Turretin, Calvin's famous
successor, even after Kepler and Newton had virtually completed the
theory of Copernicus and Galileo, put forth his compendium of theology,
in which he proved, from a multitude of scriptural texts, that the
heavens, sun, and moon move about the earth, which stands still in the
centre. In England we see similar theological efforts, even after they
had become evidently futile. Hutchinson's Moses's Principia, Dr. Samuel
Pike's Sacred Philosophy, the writings of Horne, Bishop Horsley, and
President Forbes contain most earnest attacks upon the ideas of Newton,
such attacks being based upon Scripture. Dr. John Owen, so famous in
the annals of Puritanism, declared the Copernican system a "delusive
and arbitrary hypothesis, contrary to Scripture"; and even John Wesley
declared the new ideas to "tend toward infidelity."(51)

     (51) On the teachings on Protestantism as regards the Copernican theory,
see citations in Canon Farrar's History of Interpretation, preface,
xviii; also Rev. Dr. Shields, of Princeton, The Final Philosophy, pp.
60, 61.

And Protestant peoples were not a whit behind Catholic in following out
such teachings. The people of Elbing made themselves merry over a farce
in which Copernicus was the main object of ridicule. The people of
Nuremberg, a Protestant stronghold, caused a medal to be struck with
inscriptions ridiculing the philosopher and his theory.

Why the people at large took this view is easily understood when we note
the attitude of the guardians of learning, both Catholic and Protestant,
in that age. It throws great light upon sundry claims by modern
theologians to take charge of public instruction and of the evolution
of science. So important was it thought to have "sound learning" guarded
and "safe science" taught, that in many of the universities, as late as
the end of the seventeenth century, professors were forced to take an
oath not to hold the "Pythagorean"--that is, the Copernican--idea as to
the movement of the heavenly bodies. As the contest went on, professors
were forbidden to make known to students the facts revealed by
the telescope. Special orders to this effect were issued by the
ecclesiastical authorities to the universities and colleges of Pisa,
Innspruck, Louvain, Douay, Salamanca, and others. During generations we
find the authorities of these Universities boasting that these godless
doctrines were kept away from their students. It is touching to hear
such boasts made then, just as it is touching now to hear sundry
excellent university authorities boast that they discourage the reading
of Mill, Spencer, and Darwin. Nor were such attempts to keep the truth
from students confined to the Roman Catholic institutions of learning.
Strange as it may seem, nowhere were the facts confirming the Copernican
theory more carefully kept out of sight than at Wittenberg--the
university of Luther and Melanchthon. About the middle of the sixteenth
century there were at that centre of Protestant instruction two
astronomers of a very high order, Rheticus and Reinhold; both of these,
after thorough study, had convinced themselves that the Copernican
system was true, but neither of them was allowed to tell this truth to
his students. Neither in his lecture announcements nor in his published
works did Rheticus venture to make the new system known, and he at
last gave up his professorship and left Wittenberg, that he might have
freedom to seek and tell the truth. Reinhold was even more wretchedly
humiliated. Convinced of the truth of the new theory, he was obliged to
advocate the old; if he mentioned the Copernican ideas, he was compelled
to overlay them with the Ptolemaic. Even this was not thought safe
enough, and in 1571 the subject was intrusted to Peucer. He was
eminently "sound," and denounced the Copernican theory in his lectures
as "absurd, and unfit to be introduced into the schools."

To clinch anti-scientific ideas more firmly into German Protestant
teaching, Rector Hensel wrote a text-book for schools entitled The
Restored Mosaic System of the World, which showed the Copernican
astronomy to be unscriptural.

Doubtless this has a far-off sound; yet its echo comes very near modern
Protestantism in the expulsion of Dr. Woodrow by the Presbyterian
authorities in South Carolina; the expulsion of Prof. Winchell by the
Methodist Episcopal authorities in Tennessee; the expulsion of Prof. Toy
by Baptist authorities in Kentucky; the expulsion of the professors at
Beyrout under authority of American Protestant divines--all for holding
the doctrines of modern science, and in the last years of the nineteenth

     (52) For treatment of Copernican ideas by the people, see The Catholic
World, as above; also Melanchthon, ubi supra; also Prowe, Copernicus,
Berlin, 1883, vol. i, p. 269, note; also pp. 279, 280; also Madler, i,
p.167. For Rector Hensel, see Rev. Dr. Shield's Final Philosophy, p. 60.
For details of recent Protestant efforts against evolution doctrines,
see the chapter on the Fall of Man and Anthropology in this work.

But the new truth could not be concealed; it could neither be laughed
down nor frowned down. Many minds had received it, but within the
hearing of the papacy only one tongue appears to have dared to utter it
clearly. This new warrior was that strange mortal, Giordano Bruno. He
was hunted from land to land, until at last he turned on his pursuers
with fearful invectives. For this he was entrapped at Venice, imprisoned
during six years in the dungeons of the Inquisition at Rome, then burned
alive, and his ashes scattered to the winds. Still, the new truth lived

Ten years after the martyrdom of Bruno the truth of Copernicus's
doctrine was established by the telescope of Galileo.(53)

     (53) For Bruno, see Bartholmess, Vie de Jordano Bruno, Paris, 1846,
vol. i, p.121 and pp. 212 et seq.; also Berti, Vita di Giordano Bruno,
Firenze, 1868, chap. xvi; also Whewell, vol. i, pp. 272, 273. That
Whewell is somewhat hasty in attributing Bruno's punishment entirely
to the Spaccio della Bestia Trionfante will be evident, in spite
of Montucla, to anyone who reads the account of the persecution in
Bartholmess or Berti; and even if Whewell be right, the Spaccio would
never have been written but for Bruno's indignation at ecclesiastical
oppression. See Tiraboschi, vol. vii, pp. 466 et seq.

Herein was fulfilled one of the most touching of prophecies. Years
before, the opponents of Copernicus had said to him, "If your doctrines
were true, Venus would show phases like the moon." Copernicus answered:
"You are right; I know not what to say; but God is good, and will in
time find an answer to this objection." The God-given answer came when,
in 1611, the rude telescope of Galileo showed the phases of Venus.(54)

     (54) For the relation of these discoveries to Copernicus's work, see
Delambre, Histoire de l'Astronomie moderne, discours preliminaire,
p. xiv; also Laplace, Systeme du Monde, vol. i, p. 326; and for more
careful statements, Kepler's Opera Omnia, edit. Frisch, tome ii, p. 464.
For Copernicus's prophecy, see Cantu, Histoire Univerelle, vol. xv, p.
473. (Cantu was an eminent Roman Catholic.)


On this new champion, Galileo, the whole war was at last concentrated.
His discoveries had clearly taken the Copernican theory out of the list
of hypotheses, and had placed it before the world as a truth. Against
him, then, the war was long and bitter. The supporters of what was
called "sound learning" declared his discoveries deceptions and his
announcements blasphemy. Semi-scientific professors, endeavouring to
curry favour with the Church, attacked him with sham science;
earnest preachers attacked him with perverted Scripture; theologians,
inquisitors, congregations of cardinals, and at last two popes
dealt with him, and, as was supposed, silenced his impious doctrine

     (55) A very curious example of this sham science employed by theologians
is seen in the argument, frequently used at that time, that, if the
earth really moved, a stone falling from a height would fall back of a
point immediately below its point of starting. This is used by Fromundus
with great effect. It appears never to have occurred to him to test the
matter by dropping a stone from the topmast of a ship. Bezenburg has
mathematically demonstrated just such an aberration in falling bodies,
as is mathematically required by the diurnal motion of the earth. See
Jevons, Principles of Science, pp. 388, 389, second edition, 1877.

I shall present this warfare at some length because, so far as I can
find, no careful summary of it has been given in our language, since the
whole history was placed in a new light by the revelations of the trial
documents in the Vatican Library, honestly published for the first
time by L'Epinois in 1867, and since that by Gebler, Berti, Favaro, and

The first important attack on Galileo began in 1610, when he announced
that his telescope had revealed the moons of the planet Jupiter. The
enemy saw that this took the Copernican theory out of the realm of
hypothesis, and they gave battle immediately. They denounced both
his method and its results as absurd and impious. As to his method,
professors bred in the "safe science" favoured by the Church argued that
the divinely appointed way of arriving at the truth in astronomy was
by theological reasoning on texts of Scripture; and, as to his
results, they insisted, first, that Aristotle knew nothing of these new
revelations; and, next, that the Bible showed by all applicable types
that there could be only seven planets; that this was proved by the
seven golden candlesticks of the Apocalypse, by the seven-branched
candlestick of the tabernacle, and by the seven churches of Asia; that
from Galileo's doctrine consequences must logically result destructive
to Christian truth. Bishops and priests therefore warned their flocks,
and multitudes of the faithful besought the Inquisition to deal speedily
and sharply with the heretic.(56)

     (56) See Delambre on the discovery of the satellites of Jupiter as
the turning-point with the heliocentric doctrine. As to its effects
on Bacon, see Jevons, p. 638, as above. For argument drawn from the
candlestick and the seven churches, see Delambre, p. 20.

In vain did Galileo try to prove the existence of satellites by showing
them to the doubters through his telescope: they either declared it
impious to look, or, if they did look, denounced the satellites as
illusions from the devil. Good Father Clavius declared that "to see
satellites of Jupiter, men had to make an instrument which would
create them." In vain did Galileo try to save the great truths he
had discovered by his letters to the Benedictine Castelli and the
Grand-Duchess Christine, in which he argued that literal biblical
interpretation should not be applied to science; it was answered that
such an argument only made his heresy more detestable; that he was
"worse than Luther or Calvin."

The war on the Copernican theory, which up to that time had been carried
on quietly, now flamed forth. It was declared that the doctrine was
proved false by the standing still of the sun for Joshua, by the
declarations that "the foundations of the earth are fixed so firm that
they can not be moved," and that the sun "runneth about from one end of
the heavens to the other."(57)

     (57) For principle points as given, see Libri, Histoire des Sciences
mathematiques en Italie, vol. iv, p. 211; De Morgan, Paradoxes, p. 26,
for account of Father Clavius. It is interesting to know that Clavius,
in his last years, acknowledged that "the whole system of the heavens is
broken down, and must be mended," Cantu, Histoire Universelle, vol.
xv, p. 478. See Th. Martin, Galilee, pp. 34, 208, and 266; also Heller,
Geschichte der Physik, Stuttgart, 1882, vol. i, p. 366. For the original
documents, see L'Epinois, pp.34 and 36; or better, Gebler's careful
edition of the trial (Die Acten des Galileischen Processes, Stuttgart,
1877), pp. 47 et seq. Martin's translation seems somewhat too free. See
also Gebler, Galileo Galilei, English translation, London, 1879, pp.
76-78; also Reusch, Der Process Galilei's und die Jesuiten, Bonn, 1879,
chaps. ix, x, xi.

But the little telescope of Galileo still swept the heavens, and another
revelation was announced--the mountains and valleys in the moon. This
brought on another attack. It was declared that this, and the statement
that the moon shines by light reflected from the sun, directly
contradict the statement in Genesis that the moon is "a great light."
To make the matter worse, a painter, placing the moon in a religious
picture in its usual position beneath the feet of the Blessed Virgin,
outlined on its surface mountains and valleys; this was denounced as a
sacrilege logically resulting from the astronomer's heresy.

Still another struggle was aroused when the hated telescope revealed
spots upon the sun, and their motion indicating the sun's rotation.
Monsignor Elci, head of the University of Pisa, forbade the astronomer
Castelli to mention these spots to his students. Father Busaeus, at the
University of Innspruck, forbade the astronomer Scheiner, who had also
discovered the spots and proposed a SAFE explanation of them, to allow
the new discovery to be known there. At the College of Douay and the
University of Louvain this discovery was expressly placed under the ban,
and this became the general rule among the Catholic universities and
colleges of Europe. The Spanish universities were especially intolerant
of this and similar ideas, and up to a recent period their presentation
was strictly forbidden in the most important university of all--that of

     (58) See Ticknor, History of Spanish Literature, vol. iii.

Such are the consequences of placing the instruction of men's minds in
the hands of those mainly absorbed in saving men's souls. Nothing
could be more in accordance with the idea recently put forth by sundry
ecclesiastics, Catholic and Protestant, that the Church alone
is empowered to promulgate scientific truth or direct university
instruction. But science gained a victory here also. Observations of
the solar spots were reported not only from Galileo in Italy, but from
Fabricius in Holland. Father Scheiner then endeavoured to make the
usual compromise between theology and science. He promulgated a
pseudo-scientific theory, which only provoked derision.

The war became more and more bitter. The Dominican Father Caccini
preached a sermon from the text, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing
up into heaven?" and this wretched pun upon the great astronomer's name
ushered in sharper weapons; for, before Caccini ended, he insisted that
"geometry is of the devil," and that "mathematicians should be banished
as the authors of all heresies." The Church authorities gave Caccini

Father Lorini proved that Galileo's doctrine was not only heretical but
"atheistic," and besought the Inquisition to intervene. The Bishop
of Fiesole screamed in rage against the Copernican system, publicly
insulted Galileo, and denounced him to the Grand-Duke. The Archbishop
of Pisa secretly sought to entrap Galileo and deliver him to the
Inquisition at Rome. The Archbishop of Florence solemnly condemned the
new doctrines as unscriptural; and Paul V, while petting Galileo, and
inviting him as the greatest astronomer of the world to visit Rome, was
secretly moving the Archbishop of Pisa to pick up evidence against the

But by far the most terrible champion who now appeared was Cardinal
Bellarmin, one of the greatest theologians the world has known. He was
earnest, sincere, and learned, but insisted on making science conform to
Scripture. The weapons which men of Bellarmin's stamp used were purely
theological. They held up before the world the dreadful consequences
which must result to Christian theology were the heavenly bodies proved
to revolve about the sun and not about the earth. Their most tremendous
dogmatic engine was the statement that "his pretended discovery vitiates
the whole Christian plan of salvation." Father Lecazre declared "it
casts suspicion on the doctrine of the incarnation." Others declared,
"It upsets the whole basis of theology. If the earth is a planet, and
only one among several planets, it can not be that any such great things
have been done specially for it as the Christian doctrine teaches. If
there are other planets, since God makes nothing in vain, they must be
inhabited; but how can their inhabitants be descended from Adam? How
can they trace back their origin to Noah's ark? How can they have
been redeemed by the Saviour?" Nor was this argument confined to the
theologians of the Roman Church; Melanchthon, Protestant as he was, had
already used it in his attacks on Copernicus and his school.

In addition to this prodigious theological engine of war there was kept
up a fire of smaller artillery in the shape of texts and scriptural

But the war grew still more bitter, and some weapons used in it are
worth examining. They are very easily examined, for they are to be found
on all the battlefields of science; but on that field they were used
with more effect than on almost any other. These weapons are the
epithets "infidel" and "atheist." They have been used against almost
every man who has ever done anything new for his fellow-men. The list of
those who have been denounced as "infidel" and "atheist" includes
almost all great men of science, general scholars, inventors, and

The purest Christian life, the noblest Christian character, have not
availed to shield combatants. Christians like Isaac Newton, Pascal,
Locke, Milton, and even Fenelon and Howard, have had this weapon
hurled against them. Of all proofs of the existence of a God, those of
Descartes have been wrought most thoroughly into the minds of modern
men; yet the Protestant theologians of Holland sought to bring him to
torture and to death by the charge of atheism, and the Roman Catholic
theologians of France thwarted him during his life and prevented any due
honours to him after his death.(59)

     (59) For various objectors and objections to Galileo by his
contemporaries, see Libri, Histoire des Sciences mathematiques en
Italie, vol. iv, p. 233, 234; also Martin, Vie de Galilee. For Father
Lecazre's argument, see Flammarion, Mondes imaginaires et mondes reels,
6th ed., pp. 315, 316. For Melanchthon's argument, see his Initia in
Opera, vol. iii, Halle, 1846.

These epithets can hardly be classed with civilized weapons. They are
burning arrows; they set fire to masses of popular prejudice, always
obscuring the real question, sometimes destroying the attacking party.
They are poisoned weapons. They pierce the hearts of loving women; they
alienate dear children; they injure a man after life is ended, for they
leave poisoned wounds in the hearts of those who loved him best--fears
for his eternal salvation, dread of the Divine wrath upon him. Of
course, in these days these weapons, though often effective in vexing
good men and in scaring good women, are somewhat blunted; indeed, they
not infrequently injure the assailants more than the assailed. So it was
not in the days of Galileo; they were then in all their sharpness and

     (60) For curious exemplification of the way in which these weapons
have been hurled, see lists of persons charged with "infidelity" and
"atheism," in the Dictionnaire des Athees., Paris, (1800); also Lecky,
History of Rationalism, vol. ii, p. 50. For the case of Descartes, see
Saisset, Descartes et ses Precurseurs, pp. 103, 110. For the facility
with which the term "atheist" has been applied from the early Aryans
down to believers in evolution, see Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. i, p.

Yet a baser warfare was waged by the Archbishop of Pisa. This man, whose
cathedral derives its most enduring fame from Galileo's deduction of a
great natural law from the swinging lamp before its altar, was not an
archbishop after the noble mould of Borromeo and Fenelon and Cheverus.
Sadly enough for the Church and humanity, he was simply a zealot and
intriguer: he perfected the plan for entrapping the great astronomer.

Galileo, after his discoveries had been denounced, had written to his
friend Castelli and to the Grand-Duchess Christine two letters to show
that his discoveries might be reconciled with Scripture. On a hint from
the Inquisition at Rome, the archbishop sought to get hold of these
letters and exhibit them as proofs that Galileo had uttered heretical
views of theology and of Scripture, and thus to bring him into the
clutch of the Inquisition. The archbishop begs Castelli, therefore, to
let him see the original letter in the handwriting of Galileo. Castelli
declines. The archbishop then, while, as is now revealed, writing
constantly and bitterly to the Inquisition against Galileo, professes
to Castelli the greatest admiration of Galileo's genius and a sincere
desire to know more of his discoveries. This not succeeding, the
archbishop at last throws off the mask and resorts to open attack.

The whole struggle to crush Galileo and to save him would be
amusing were it not so fraught with evil. There were intrigues and
counter-intrigues, plots and counter-plots, lying and spying; and in
the thickest of this seething, squabbling, screaming mass of priests,
bishops, archbishops, and cardinals, appear two popes, Paul V and Urban
VIII. It is most suggestive to see in this crisis of the Church, at the
tomb of the prince of the apostles, on the eve of the greatest errors
in Church policy the world has known, in all the intrigues and
deliberations of these consecrated leaders of the Church, no more
evidence of the guidance or presence of the Holy Spirit than in a caucus
of New York politicians at Tammany Hall.

But the opposing powers were too strong. In 1615 Galileo was summoned
before the Inquisition at Rome, and the mine which had been so long
preparing was sprung. Sundry theologians of the Inquisition having
been ordered to examine two propositions which had been extracted from
Galileo's letters on the solar spots, solemnly considered these points
during about a month and rendered their unanimous decision as follows:

The Pope himself, Paul V, now intervened again: he ordered that Galileo
be brought before the Inquisition. Then the greatest man of science in
that age was brought face to face with the greatest theologian--Galileo
was confronted by Bellarmin. Bellarmin shows Galileo the error of his
opinion and orders him to renounce it. De Lauda, fortified by a letter
from the Pope, gives orders that the astronomer be placed in the
dungeons of the Inquisition should he refuse to yield. Bellarmin now
commands Galileo, "in the name of His Holiness the Pope and the whole
Congregation of the Holy Office, to relinquish altogether the opinion
that the sun is the centre of the world and immovable, and that the
earth moves, nor henceforth to hold, teach, or defend it in any way
whatsoever, verbally or in writing." This injunction Galileo acquiesces
in and promises to obey.(61)

     (61) I am aware that the theory proposed by Wohwill and developed by
Gebler denied that this promise was ever made by Galileo, and holds that
the passage was a forgery devised later by the Church rulers to justify
the proceedings of 1632 and 1644. This would make the conduct of the
Church worse, but authorities as eminent consider the charge not proved.
A careful examination of the documents seems to disprove it.

This was on the 26th of February, 1616. About a fortnight later the
Congregation of the Index, moved thereto, as the letters and documents
now brought to light show, by Pope Paul V, solemnly rendered a decree
that this opinion must neither be taught nor advocated. The same decree
condemned all writings of Copernicus and "ALL WRITINGS WHICH AFFIRM THE
MOTION OF THE EARTH." The great work of Copernicus was interdicted until
corrected in accordance with the views of the Inquisition; and the works
of Galileo and Kepler, though not mentioned by name at that time, were
included among those implicitly condemned as "affirming the motion of
the earth."

The condemnations were inscribed upon the Index; and, finally, the
papacy committed itself as an infallible judge and teacher to the world
by prefixing to the Index the usual papal bull giving its monitions the
most solemn papal sanction. To teach or even read the works denounced or
passages condemned was to risk persecution in this world and damnation
in the next. Science had apparently lost the decisive battle.

For a time after this judgment Galileo remained in Rome, apparently
hoping to find some way out of this difficulty; but he soon discovered
the hollowness of the protestations made to him by ecclesiastics, and,
being recalled to Florence, remained in his hermitage near the city in
silence, working steadily, indeed, but not publishing anything save by
private letters to friends in various parts of Europe.

But at last a better vista seemed to open for him. Cardinal Barberini,
who had seemed liberal and friendly, became pope under the name of Urban
VIII. Galileo at this conceived new hopes, and allowed his continued
allegiance to the Copernican system to be known. New troubles ensued.
Galileo was induced to visit Rome again, and Pope Urban tried to cajole
him into silence, personally taking the trouble to show him his errors
by argument. Other opponents were less considerate, for works appeared
attacking his ideas--works all the more unmanly, since their authors
knew that Galileo was restrained by force from defending himself. Then,
too, as if to accumulate proofs of the unfitness of the Church to
take charge of advanced instruction, his salary as a professor at the
University of Pisa was taken from him, and sapping and mining began.
Just as the Archbishop of Pisa some years before had tried to betray him
with honeyed words to the Inquisition, so now Father Grassi tried
it, and, after various attempts to draw him out by flattery, suddenly
denounced his scientific ideas as "leading to a denial of the Real
Presence in the Eucharist."

For the final assault upon him a park of heavy artillery was at last
wheeled into place. It may be seen on all the scientific battlefields.
It consists of general denunciation; and in 1631 Father Melchior
Inchofer, of the Jesuits, brought his artillery to bear upon Galileo
with this declaration: "The opinion of the earth's motion is of all
heresies the most abominable, the most pernicious, the most scandalous;
the immovability of the earth is thrice sacred; argument against the
immortality of the soul, the existence of God, and the incarnation,
should be tolerated sooner than an argument to prove that the earth
moves." From the other end of Europe came a powerful echo.

From the shadow of the Cathedral of Antwerp, the noted theologian
Fromundus gave forth his famous treatise, the Ant-Aristarclius. Its very
title-page was a contemptuous insult to the memory of Copernicus, since
it paraded the assumption that the new truth was only an exploded theory
of a pagan astronomer. Fromundus declares that "sacred Scripture fights
against the Copernicans." To prove that the sun revolves about the
earth, he cites the passage in the Psalms which speaks of the sun "which
cometh forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber." To prove that the
earth stands still, he quotes a passage from Ecclesiastes, "The earth
standeth fast forever." To show the utter futility of the Copernican
theory, he declares that, if it were true, "the wind would constantly
blow from the east"; and that "buildings and the earth itself would fly
off with such a rapid motion that men would have to be provided with
claws like cats to enable them to hold fast to the earth's surface."
Greatest weapon of all, he works up, by the use of Aristotle and St.
Thomas Aquinas, a demonstration from theology and science combined, that
the earth MUST stand in the centre, and that the sun MUST revolve about
it.(62) Nor was it merely fanatics who opposed the truth revealed by
Copernicus; such strong men as Jean Bodin, in France, and Sir Thomas
Browne, in England, declared against it as evidently contrary to Holy

     (62) For Father Inchofer's attack, see his Tractatus Syllepticus, cited
in Galileo's letter to Deodati, July 28, 1634. For Fromundus's more
famous attack, see his Ant-Aristarchus, already cited, passim, but
especially the heading of chap. vi, and the argument in chapters x and
xi. A copy of this work may be found in the Astor Library at New York,
and another in the White Library at Cornell University. For interesting
references to one of Fromundus's arguments, showing, by a mixture of
mathematics and theology, that the earth is the centre of the universe,
see Quetelet, Histoire des Sciences mathematiques et physiques,
Bruxelles, 1864, p. 170; also Madler, Geschichte der Astronomie, vol.
i, p. 274. For Bodin's opposition to the Copernican theory, see Hallam,
Literature of Europe; also Lecky. For Sir Thomas Brown, see his Vulgar
and Common Errors, book iv, chap. v; and as to the real reason for his
disbelief in the Copernican view, see Dr. Johnson's preface to his Life
of Browne, vol. i, p. xix, of his collected works.


While news of triumphant attacks upon him and upon the truth he had
established were coming in from all parts of Europe, Galileo prepared a
careful treatise in the form of a dialogue, exhibiting the arguments for
and against the Copernican and Ptolemaic systems, and offered to submit
to any conditions that the Church tribunals might impose, if they
would allow it to be printed. At last, after discussions which extended
through eight years, they consented, imposing a humiliating condition--a
preface written in accordance with the ideas of Father Ricciardi, Master
of the Sacred Palace, and signed by Galileo, in which the Copernican
theory was virtually exhibited as a play of the imagination, and not
at all as opposed to the Ptolemaic doctrine reasserted in 1616 by the
Inquisition under the direction of Pope Paul V.

This new work of Galileo--the Dialogo--appeared in 1632, and met with
prodigious success. It put new weapons into the hands of the supporters
of the Copernican theory. The pious preface was laughed at from one end
of Europe to the other. This roused the enemy; the Jesuits, Dominicans,
and the great majority of the clergy returned to the attack more violent
than ever, and in the midst of them stood Pope Urban VIII, most bitter
of all. His whole power was now thrown against Galileo. He was touched
in two points: first, in his personal vanity, for Galileo had put the
Pope's arguments into the mouth of one of the persons in the dialogue
and their refutation into the mouth of another; but, above all, he was
touched in his religious feelings. Again and again His Holiness
insisted to all comers on the absolute and specific declarations of Holy
Scripture, which prove that the sun and heavenly bodies revolve about
the earth, and declared that to gainsay them is simply to dispute
revelation. Certainly, if one ecclesiastic more than another ever seemed
NOT under the care of the Spirit of Truth, it was Urban VIII in all this

Herein was one of the greatest pieces of ill fortune that has ever
befallen the older Church. Had Pope Urban been broad-minded and tolerant
like Benedict XIV, or had he been taught moderation by adversity like
Pius VII, or had he possessed the large scholarly qualities of Leo XIII,
now reigning, the vast scandal of the Galileo case would never have
burdened the Church: instead of devising endless quibbles and special
pleadings to escape responsibility for this colossal blunder, its
defenders could have claimed forever for the Church the glory of
fearlessly initiating a great epoch in human thought.

But it was not so to be. Urban was not merely Pope; he was also a prince
of the house of Barberini, and therefore doubly angry that his arguments
had been publicly controverted.

The opening strategy of Galileo's enemies was to forbid the sale of his
work; but this was soon seen to be unavailing, for the first edition had
already been spread throughout Europe. Urban now became more angry than
ever, and both Galileo and his works were placed in the hands of the
Inquisition. In vain did the good Benedictine Castelli urge that Galileo
was entirely respectful to the Church; in vain did he insist that
"nothing that can be done can now hinder the earth from revolving."
He was dismissed in disgrace, and Galileo was forced to appear in the
presence of the dread tribunal without defender or adviser. There, as
was so long concealed, but as is now fully revealed, he was menaced with
torture again and again by express order of Pope Urban, and, as is also
thoroughly established from the trial documents themselves, forced to
abjure under threats, and subjected to imprisonment by command of
the Pope; the Inquisition deferring in this whole matter to the papal
authority. All the long series of attempts made in the supposed interest
of the Church to mystify these transactions have at last failed. The
world knows now that Galileo was subjected certainly to indignity, to
imprisonment, and to threats equivalent to torture, and was at last
forced to pronounce publicly and on his knees his recantation, as

"I, Galileo, being in my seventieth year, being a prisoner and on my
knees, and before your Eminences, having before my eyes the Holy Gospel,
which I touch with my hands, abjure, curse, and detest the error and the
heresy of the movement of the earth."(63)

     (63) For various utterances of Pope Urban against the Copernican theory
at this period, see extracts from the original documents given by
Gebler. For punishment of those who had shown some favor to Galileo,
see various citations, and especially those from the Vatican manuscript,
Gebler, p. 216. As to the text of the abjuration, see L'Epinois; also
Polacco, Anticopernicus, etc., Venice, 1644; and for a discussion
regarding its publication, see Favaro, Miscellanea Galileana, p. 804. It
is not probable that torture in the ordinary sense was administered to
Galileo, though it was threatened. See Th. Martin, Vie de Galilee, for a
fair summing up of the case.

He was vanquished indeed, for he had been forced, in the face of all
coming ages, to perjure himself. To complete his dishonour, he was
obliged to swear that he would denounce to the Inquisition any other man
of science whom he should discover to be supporting the "heresy of the
motion of the earth."

Many have wondered at this abjuration, and on account of it have denied
to Galileo the title of martyr. But let such gainsayers consider the
circumstances. Here was an old man--one who had reached the allotted
threescore years and ten--broken with disappointments, worn out with
labours and cares, dragged from Florence to Rome, with the threat from
the Pope himself that if he delayed he should be "brought in chains";
sick in body and mind, given over to his oppressors by the Grand-Duke
who ought to have protected him, and on his arrival in Rome threatened
with torture. What the Inquisition was he knew well. He could remember
as but of yesterday the burning of Giordano Bruno in that same city for
scientific and philosophic heresy; he could remember, too, that only
eight years before this very time De Dominis, Archbishop of Spalatro,
having been seized by the Inquisition for scientific and other heresies,
had died in a dungeon, and that his body and his writings had been
publicly burned.

To the end of his life--nay, after his life was ended--the persecution
of Galileo was continued. He was kept in exile from his family, from his
friends, from his noble employments, and was held rigidly to his
promise not to speak of his theory. When, in the midst of intense bodily
sufferings from disease, and mental sufferings from calamities in his
family, he besought some little liberty, he was met with threats of
committal to a dungeon. When, at last, a special commission had reported
to the ecclesiastical authorities that he had become blind and wasted
with disease and sorrow, he was allowed a little more liberty, but
that little was hampered by close surveillance. He was forced to bear
contemptible attacks on himself and on his works in silence; to see the
men who had befriended him severely punished; Father Castelli banished;
Ricciardi, the Master of the Sacred Palace, and Ciampoli, the papal
secretary, thrown out of their positions by Pope Urban, and the
Inquisitor at Florence reprimanded for having given permission to print
Galileo's work. He lived to see the truths he had established carefully
weeded out from all the Church colleges and universities in Europe; and,
when in a scientific work he happened to be spoken of as "renowned," the
Inquisition ordered the substitution of the word "notorious."(64)

     (64) For the substitution of the word "notorious" for "renowned" by
order of the Inquisition, see Martin, p.227.

And now measures were taken to complete the destruction of the
Copernican theory, with Galileo's proofs of it. On the 16th of June,
1633, the Holy Congregation, with the permission of the reigning Pope,
ordered the sentence upon Galileo, and his recantation, to be sent to
all the papal nuncios throughout Europe, as well as to all archbishops,
bishops, and inquisitors in Italy and this document gave orders that the
sentence and abjuration be made known "to your vicars, that you and all
professors of philosophy and mathematics may have knowledge of it, that
they may know why we proceeded against the said Galileo, and recognise
the gravity of his error, in order that they may avoid it, and thus not
incur the penalties which they would have to suffer in case they fell
into the same."(65)

     (65) For a copy of this document, see Gebler, p. 269. As to the
spread of this and similar documents notifying Europe of Galileo's
condemnation, see Favaro, pp. 804, 805.

As a consequence, the processors of mathematics and astronomy in various
universities of Europe were assembled and these documents were read to
them. To the theological authorities this gave great satisfaction. The
Rector of the University of Douay, referring to the opinion of Galileo,
wrote to the papal nuncio at Brussels: "The professors of our university
are so opposed to this fanatical opinion that they have always held that
it must be banished from the schools. In our English college at Douay
this paradox has never been approved and never will be."

Still another step was taken: the Inquisitors were ordered, especially
in Italy, not to permit the publication of a new edition of any
of Galileo's works, or of any similar writings. On the other hand,
theologians were urged, now that Copernicus and Galileo and Kepler were
silenced, to reply to them with tongue and pen. Europe was flooded with
these theological refutations of the Copernican system.

To make all complete, there was prefixed to the Index of the Church,
forbidding "all writings which affirm the motion of the earth," a bull
signed by the reigning Pope, which, by virtue of his infallibility as
a divinely guided teacher in matters of faith and morals, clinched this
condemnation into the consciences of the whole Christian world.

From the mass of books which appeared under the auspices of the Church
immediately after the condemnation of Galileo, for the purpose of
rooting out every vestige of the hated Copernican theory from the mind
of the world, two may be taken as typical. The first of these was a
work by Scipio Chiaramonti, dedicated to Cardinal Barberini. Among
his arguments against the double motion of the earth may be cited the

"Animals, which move, have limbs and muscles; the earth has no limbs
or muscles, therefore it does not move. It is angels who make Saturn,
Jupiter, the sun, etc., turn round. If the earth revolves, it must also
have an angel in the centre to set it in motion; but only devils live
there; it would therefore be a devil who would impart motion to the

"The planets, the sun, the fixed stars, all belong to one
species--namely, that of stars. It seems, therefore, to be a grievous
wrong to place the earth, which is a sink of impurity, among these
heavenly bodies, which are pure and divine things."

The next, which I select from the mass of similar works, is the
Anticopernicus Catholicus of Polacco. It was intended to deal a
finishing stroke at Galileo's heresy. In this it is declared:

"The Scripture always represents the earth as at rest, and the sun and
moon as in motion; or, if these latter bodies are ever represented as at
rest, Scripture represents this as the result of a great miracle....

"These writings must be prohibited, because they teach certain
principles about the position and motion of the terrestrial globe
repugnant to Holy Scripture and to the Catholic interpretation of it,
not as hypotheses but as established facts...."

Speaking of Galileo's book, Polacco says that it "smacked of
Copernicanism," and that, "when this was shown to the Inquisition,
Galileo was thrown into prison and was compelled to utterly abjure the
baseness of this erroneous dogma."

As to the authority of the cardinals in their decree, Polacco asserts
that, since they are the "Pope's Council" and his "brothers," their
work is one, except that the Pope is favoured with special divine

Having shown that the authority of the Scriptures, of popes, and of
cardinals is against the new astronomy, he gives a refutation based on
physics. He asks: "If we concede the motion of the earth, why is it that
an arrow shot into the air falls back to the same spot, while the earth
and all things on it have in the meantime moved very rapidly toward
the east? Who does not see that great confusion would result from this

Next he argues from metaphysics, as follows: "The Copernican theory of
the earth's motion is against the nature of the earth itself, because
the earth is not only cold but contains in itself the principle of cold;
but cold is opposed to motion, and even destroys it--as is evident in
animals, which become motionless when they become cold."

Finally, he clinches all with a piece of theological reasoning, as
follows: "Since it can certainly be gathered from Scripture that the
heavens move above the earth, and since a circular motion requires
something immovable around which to move,... the earth is at the centre
of the universe."(66)

     (66) For Chiaramonti's book and selections given, see Gebler as above,
p. 271. For Polacco, see his work as cited, especially Assertiones i,
ii, vii, xi, xiii, lxxiii, clcccvii, and others. The work is in the
White Library at Cornell University. The date of it is 1644.

But any sketch of the warfare between theology and science in this field
would be incomplete without some reference to the treatment of Galileo
after his death. He had begged to be buried in his family tomb in Santa
Croce; this request was denied. His friends wished to erect a monument
over him; this, too, was refused. Pope Urban said to the ambassador
Niccolini that "it would be an evil example for the world if such
honours were rendered to a man who had been brought before the Roman
Inquisition for an opinion so false and erroneous; who had communicated
it to many others, and who had given so great a scandal to Christendom."
In accordance, therefore, with the wish of the Pope and the orders of
the Inquisition, Galileo was buried ignobly, apart from his family,
without fitting ceremony, without monument, without epitaph. Not until
forty years after did Pierrozzi dare write an inscription to be placed
above his bones; not until a hundred years after did Nelli dare transfer
his remains to a suitable position in Santa Croce, and erect a monument
above them. Even then the old conscientious hostility burst forth: the
Inquisition was besought to prevent such honours to "a man condemned for
notorious errors"; and that tribunal refused to allow any epitaph to be
placed above him which had not been submitted to its censorship. Nor has
that old conscientious consistency in hatred yet fully relented: hardly
a generation since has not seen some ecclesiastic, like Marini or De
Bonald or Rallaye or De Gabriac, suppressing evidence, or torturing
expressions, or inventing theories to blacken the memory of Galileo
and save the reputation of the Church. Nay, more: there are school
histories, widely used, which, in the supposed interest of the Church,
misrepresent in the grossest manner all these transactions in which
Galileo was concerned. Sancta simplicitas! The Church has no worse
enemies than those who devise and teach these perversions. They
are simply rooting out, in the long run, from the minds of the more
thoughtful scholars, respect for the great organization which such
writings are supposed to serve.(67)

     (67) For the persecutions of Galileo's memory after his death, see
Gebler and Wohwill, but especially Th. Martin, p. 243 and chaps. ix
and x. For documentary proofs, see L'Epinois. For a collection of the
slanderous theories invented against Galileo, see Martin, final chapters
and appendix. Both these authors are devoted to the Church, but unlike
Monsignor Marini, are too upright to resort to the pious fraud of
suppressing documents or interpolating pretended facts.

The Protestant Church was hardly less energetic against this new
astronomy than the mother Church. The sacred science of the first
Lutheran Reformers was transmitted as a precious legacy, and in the next
century was made much of by Calovius. His great learning and determined
orthodoxy gave him the Lutheran leadership. Utterly refusing to look
at ascertained facts, he cited the turning back of the shadow upon King
Hezekiah's dial and the standing still of the sun for Joshua, denied
the movement of the earth, and denounced the whole new view as clearly
opposed to Scripture. To this day his arguments are repeated by sundry
orthodox leaders of American Lutheranism.

As to the other branches of the Reformed Church, we have already seen
how Calvinists, Anglicans, and, indeed, Protestant sectarians generally,
opposed the new truth.(68)

     (68) For Clovius, see Zoeckler, Geschichte, vol. i, pp. 684 and 763. For
Calvin and Turretin, see Shields, The Final Philosophy, pp. 60, 61.

In England, among the strict churchmen, the great Dr. South denounced
the Royal Society as "irreligious," and among the Puritans the eminent
John Owen declared that Newton's discoveries were "built on fallible
phenomena and advanced by many arbitrary presumptions against evident
testimonies of Scripture." Even Milton seems to have hesitated between
the two systems. At the beginning of the eighth book of Paradise Lost
he makes Adam state the difficulties of the Ptolemaic system, and then
brings forward an angel to make the usual orthodox answers. Later,
Milton seems to lean toward the Copernican theory, for, referring to the
earth, he says:

"Or she from west her silent course advance With inoffensive pace, that
spinning sleeps On her soft axle, while she faces even And bears thee
soft with the smooth air along."

English orthodoxy continued to assert itself. In 1724 John Hutchinson,
professor at Cambridge, published his Moses' Principia, a system of
philosophy in which he sought to build up a complete physical system of
the universe from the Bible. In this he assaulted the Newtonian theory
as "atheistic," and led the way for similar attacks by such Church
teachers as Horne, Duncan Forbes, and Jones of Nayland. But one far
greater than these involved himself in this view. That same limitation
of his reason by the simple statements of Scripture which led John
Wesley to declare that, "unless witchcraft is true, nothing in the Bible
is true," led him, while giving up the Ptolemaic theory and accepting in
a general way the Copernican, to suspect the demonstrations of
Newton. Happily, his inborn nobility of character lifted him above any
bitterness or persecuting spirit, or any imposition of doctrinal tests
which could prevent those who came after him from finding their way to
the truth.

But in the midst of this vast expanse of theologic error signs of right
reason began to appear, both in England and America. Noteworthy is it
that Cotton Mather, bitter as was his orthodoxy regarding witchcraft,
accepted, in 1721, the modern astronomy fully, with all its

In the following year came an even more striking evidence that the new
scientific ideas were making their way in England. In 1722 Thomas Burnet
published the sixth edition of his Sacred Theory of the Earth. In this
he argues, as usual, to establish the scriptural doctrine of the
earth's stability; but in his preface he sounds a remarkable warning.
He mentions the great mistake into which St. Augustine led the Church
regarding the doctrine of the antipodes, and says, "If within a
few years or in the next generation it should prove as certain and
demonstrable that the earth is moved, as it is now that there are
antipodes, those that have been zealous against it, and engaged the
Scripture in the controversy, would have the same reason to repent of
their forwardness that St. Augustine would now, if he were still alive."

Fortunately, too, Protestantism had no such power to oppose the
development of the Copernican ideas as the older Church had enjoyed.
Yet there were some things in its warfare against science even more
indefensible. In 1772 the famous English expedition for scientific
discovery sailed from England under Captain Cook. Greatest by far of all
the scientific authorities chosen to accompany it was Dr. Priestley. Sir
Joseph Banks had especially invited him. But the clergy of Oxford and
Cambridge interfered. Priestley was considered unsound in his views
of the Trinity; it was evidently suspected that this might vitiate his
astronomical observations; he was rejected, and the expedition crippled.

The orthodox view of astronomy lingered on in other branches of the
Protestant Church. In Germany even Leibnitz attacked the Newtonian
theory of gravitation on theological grounds, though he found some
little consolation in thinking that it might be used to support the
Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation.

In Holland the Calvinistic Church was at first strenuous against the
whole new system, but we possess a comical proof that Calvinism even in
its strongholds was powerless against it; for in 1642 Blaer published at
Amsterdam his book on the use of globes, and, in order to be on the safe
side, devoted one part of his work to the Ptolemaic and the other to the
Copernican scheme, leaving the benevolent reader to take his choice.(69)

     (69) For the attitude of Leibnetz, Hutchinson, and the others named
toward the Newtonian theory, see Lecky, History of England in the
Eighteenth Century, chap. ix. For John Wesley, see his Compendium of
Natural Philosophy, being a Survey of the Wisdom of God in the Creation,
London, 1784. See also Leslie Stephen, Eighteenth Century, vol. ii,
p. 413. For Owen, see his Works, vol. xix, p. 310. For Cotton Mather's
view, see The Christian Philosopher, London, 1721, especially pp. 16 and
17. For the case of Priestley, see Weld, History of the Royal Society,
vol. ii, p. 56, for the facts and the admirable letter of Priestley upon
this rejection. For Blaer, see his L'Usage des Globes, Amsterdam, 1642.

Nor have efforts to renew the battle in the Protestant Church been
wanting in these latter days. The attempt in the Church of England,
in 1864, to fetter science, which was brought to ridicule by Herschel,
Bowring, and De Morgan; the assemblage of Lutheran clergy at Berlin, in
1868, to protest against "science falsely so called," are examples
of these. Fortunately, to the latter came Pastor Knak, and his
denunciations of the Copernican theory as absolutely incompatible with a
belief in the Bible, dissolved the whole assemblage in ridicule.

In its recent dealings with modern astronomy the wisdom of the Catholic
Church in the more civilized countries has prevented its yielding to
some astounding errors into which one part of the Protestant Church has
fallen heedlessly.

Though various leaders in the older Church have committed the absurd
error of allowing a text-book and sundry review articles to appear which
grossly misstate the Galileo episode, with the certainty of ultimately
undermining confidence in her teachings among her more thoughtful
young men, she has kept clear of the folly of continuing to tie her
instruction, and the acceptance of our sacred books, to an adoption of
the Ptolemaic theory.

Not so with American Lutheranism. In 1873 was published in St. Louis, at
the publishing house of the Lutheran Synod of Missouri, a work entitled
Astronomische Unterredung, the author being well known as a late
president of a Lutheran Teachers' Seminary.

No attack on the whole modern system of astronomy could be more bitter.
On the first page of the introduction the author, after stating the two
theories, asks, "Which is right?" and says: "It would be very simple to
me which is right, if it were only a question of human import. But the
wise and truthful God has expressed himself on this matter in the Bible.
The entire Holy Scripture settles the question that the earth is the
principal body (Hauptkorper) of the universe, that it stands fixed, and
that sun and moon only serve to light it."

The author then goes on to show from Scripture the folly, not only of
Copernicus and Newton, but of a long line of great astronomers in more
recent times. He declares: "Let no one understand me as inquiring first
where truth is to be found--in the Bible or with the astronomers. No; I
know that beforehand--that my God never lies, never makes a mistake; out
of his mouth comes only truth, when he speaks of the structure of the
universe, of the earth, sun, moon, and stars....

"Because the truth of the Holy Scripture is involved in this, therefore
the above question is of the highest importance to me.... Scientists and
others lean upon the miserable reed (Rohrstab) that God teaches only the
order of salvation, but not the order of the universe."

Very noteworthy is the fact that this late survival of an ancient belief
based upon text-worship is found, not in the teachings of any zealous
priest of the mother Church, but in those of an eminent professor in
that branch of Protestantism which claims special enlightenment.(70)

     (70) For the amusing details of the attempt in the English Church to
repress science, and of the way in which it was met, see De Morgan,
Paradoxes, p. 42. For Pastor Knak and his associates, see the Revue des
Deux Mondes, 1868. Of the recent Lutheran works against the Copernican
astronomy, see especially Astronomische Unterredung zwischen einem
Liebhaber der Astronomie und mehreren beruhmten Astronomer der Neuzeit,
by J. C. W. L., St. Louis, 1873.

Nor has the warfare against the dead champions of science been carried
on by the older Church alone.

On the 10th of May, 1859, Alexander von Humboldt was buried. His labours
had been among the glories of the century, and his funeral was one of
the most imposing that Berlin had ever seen. Among those who honoured
themselves by their presence was the prince regent, afterward the
Emperor William I; but of the clergy it was observed that none
were present save the officiating clergyman and a few regarded as

     (71) See Bruhns and Lassell, Life of Humboldt, London, 1873, vol. ii, p.


We return now to the sequel of the Galileo case.

Having gained their victory over Galileo, living and dead, having used
it to scare into submission the professors of astronomy throughout
Europe, conscientious churchmen exulted. Loud was their rejoicing that
the "heresy," the "infidelity" the "atheism" involved in believing that
the earth revolves about its axis and moves around the sun had been
crushed by the great tribunal of the Church, acting in strict obedience
to the expressed will of one Pope and the written order of another. As
we have seen, all books teaching this hated belief were put upon the
Index of books forbidden to Christians, and that Index was prefaced by
a bull enforcing this condemnation upon the consciences of the faithful
throughout the world, and signed by the reigning Pope.

The losses to the world during this complete triumph of theology
were even more serious than at first appears: one must especially be
mentioned. There was then in Europe one of the greatest thinkers ever
given to mankind--Rene Descartes. Mistaken though many of his reasonings
were, they bore a rich fruitage of truth. He had already done a vast
work. His theory of vortices--assuming a uniform material regulated by
physical laws--as the beginning of the visible universe, though it was
but a provisional hypothesis, had ended the whole old theory of the
heavens with the vaulted firmament and the direction of the planetary
movements by angels, which even Kepler had allowed. The scientific
warriors had stirred new life in him, and he was working over and
summing up in his mighty mind all the researches of his time. The
result would have made an epoch in history. His aim was to combine all
knowledge and thought into a Treatise on the World, and in view of this
he gave eleven years to the study of anatomy alone. But the fate of
Galileo robbed him of all hope, of all courage; the battle seemed lost;
he gave up his great plan forever.(72)

     (72) For Descartes's discouragement, see Humboldt, Cosmos, London,
1851, vol iii, p. 21; also Lange, Geschichte des Materialismus, English
translation, vol. i, pp. 248, 249, where the letters of Descartes are
given, showing his despair, and the relinquishment of his best thoughts
and works in order to preserve peace with the Church; also Saisset,
Descartes et ses Precurseurs, pp. 100 et seq.; also Jolly, Histoire du
Mouvement intellectuel au XVI Siecle, vol. i, p. 390.

But ere long it was seen that this triumph of the Church was in reality
a prodigious defeat. From all sides came proofs that Copernicus and
Galileo were right; and although Pope Urban and the inquisition held
Galileo in strict seclusion, forbidding him even to SPEAK regarding the
double motion of the earth; and although this condemnation of "all
books which affirm the motion of the earth" was kept on the Index; and
although the papal bull still bound the Index and the condemnations
in it on the consciences of the faithful; and although colleges and
universities under Church control were compelled to teach the old
doctrine--it was seen by clear-sighted men everywhere that this victory
of the Church was a disaster to the victors.

New champions pressed on. Campanella, full of vagaries as he was, wrote
his Apology for Galileo, though for that and other heresies, religious,
and political, he seven times underwent torture.

And Kepler comes: he leads science on to greater victories. Copernicus,
great as he was, could not disentangle scientific reasoning entirely
from the theological bias: the doctrines of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas
as to the necessary superiority of the circle had vitiated the minor
features of his system, and left breaches in it through which the enemy
was not slow to enter; but Kepler sees these errors, and by wonderful
genius and vigour he gives to the world the three laws which bear his
name, and this fortress of science is complete. He thinks and speaks
as one inspired. His battle is severe. He is solemnly warned by the
Protestant Consistory of Stuttgart "not to throw Christ's kingdom into
confusion with his silly fancies," and as solemnly ordered to "bring
his theory of the world into harmony with Scripture": he is sometimes
abused, sometimes ridiculed, sometimes imprisoned. Protestants in Styria
and Wurtemberg, Catholics in Austria and Bohemia, press upon him but
Newton, Halley, Bradley, and other great astronomers follow, and to
science remains the victory.(73)

     (73) For Campanella, see Amabile, Fra Tommaso Campanella, Naples, 1882,
especially vol. iii; also Libri, vol. iv, pp. 149 et seq. Fromundus,
speaking of Kepler's explanation, says, "Vix teneo ebullientem risum."
This is almost equal to the New York Church Journal, speaking of John
Stuart Mill as "that small sciolist," and of the preface to Dr. Draper's
great work as "chippering." How a journal, generally so fair in its
treatment of such subjects, can condescend to such weapons is one of the
wonders of modern journalism. For the persecution of Kepler, see Heller,
Geschichte der Physik, vol. i, pp. 281 et seq; also Reuschle, Kepler und
die Astronomie, Frankfurt a. M., 1871, pp. 87 et seq. There is a poetic
justice in the fact that these two last-named books come from Wurtemberg
professors. See also The New-Englander for March, 1884, p. 178.

Yet this did not end the war. During the seventeenth century, in France,
after all the splendid proofs added by Kepler, no one dared openly teach
the Copernican theory, and Cassini, the great astronomer, never declared
for it. In 1672 the Jesuit Father Riccioli declared that there
were precisely forty-nine arguments for the Copernican theory and
seventy-seven against it. Even after the beginning of the eighteenth
century--long after the demonstrations of Sir Isaac Newton--Bossuet,
the great Bishop of Meaux, the foremost theologian that France has ever
produced, declared it contrary to Scripture.

Nor did matters seem to improve rapidly during that century. In England,
John Hutchinson, as we have seen, published in 1724 his Moses' Principia
maintaining that the Hebrew Scriptures are a perfect system of natural
philosophy, and are opposed to the Newtonian system of gravitation; and,
as we have also seen, he was followed by a long list of noted men in
the Church. In France, two eminent mathematicians published in 1748 an
edition of Newton's Principia; but, in order to avert ecclesiastical
censure, they felt obliged to prefix to it a statement absolutely false.
Three years later, Boscovich, the great mathematician of the Jesuits,
used these words: "As for me, full of respect for the Holy Scriptures
and the decree of the Holy Inquisition, I regard the earth as immovable;
nevertheless, for simplicity in explanation I will argue as if the
earth moves; for it is proved that of the two hypotheses the appearances
favour this idea."

In Germany, especially in the Protestant part of it, the war was even
more bitter, and it lasted through the first half of the eighteenth
century. Eminent Lutheran doctors of divinity flooded the country with
treatises to prove that the Copernican theory could not be reconciled
with Scripture. In the theological seminaries and in many of the
universities where clerical influence was strong they seemed to sweep
all before them; and yet at the middle of the century we find some
of the clearest-headed of them aware of the fact that their cause was

     (74) For Cassini's position, see Henri Martin, Histoire de France, vol.
xiii, p. 175. For Riccioli, see Daunou, Etudes Historiques, vol. ii,
p. 439. For Boussuet, see Bertrand, p. 41. For Hutchinson, see Lyell,
Principles of Geology, p. 48. For Wesley, see his work, already cited.
As to Boscovich, his declaration, mentioned in the text, was in 1746,
but in 1785 he seemed to feel his position in view of history, and
apologized abjectly; Bertrand, pp. 60, 61. See also Whewell's notice
of Le Sueur and Jacquier's introduction to their edition of Newton's
Principia. For the struggle in Germany, see Zoeckler, Geschichte der
Beziehungenzwischen Theologie und Naturwissenschaft, vol. ii, pp. 45 et

In 1757 the most enlightened perhaps in the whole line of the popes,
Benedict XIV, took up the matter, and the Congregation of the Index
secretly allowed the ideas of Copernicus to be tolerated. Yet in 1765
Lalande, the great French astronomer, tried in vain at Rome to induce
the authorities to remove Galileo's works from the Index. Even at a
date far within our own nineteenth century the authorities of many
universities in Catholic Europe, and especially those in Spain, excluded
the Newtonian system. In 1771 the greatest of them all, the University
of Salamanca, being urged to teach physical science, refused, making
answer as follows: "Newton teaches nothing that would make a good
logician or metaphysician; and Gassendi and Descartes do not agree so
well with revealed truth as Aristotle does."

Vengeance upon the dead also has continued far into our own century. On
the 5th of May, 1829, a great multitude assembled at Warsaw to honour
the memory of Copernicus and to unveil Thorwaldsen's statue of him.

Copernicus had lived a pious, Christian life; he had been beloved for
unostentatious Christian charity; with his religious belief no fault had
ever been found; he was a canon of the Church at Frauenberg, and over
his grave had been written the most touching of Christian epitaphs.
Naturally, then, the people expected a religious service; all was
understood to be arranged for it; the procession marched to the church
and waited. The hour passed, and no priest appeared; none could be
induced to appear. Copernicus, gentle, charitable, pious, one of the
noblest gifts of God to religion as well as to science, was evidently
still under the ban. Five years after that, his book was still standing
on the Index of books prohibited to Christians.

The edition of the Index published in 1819 was as inexorable toward the
works of Copernicus and Galileo as its predecessors had been; but in the
year 1820 came a crisis. Canon Settele, Professor of Astronomy at Rome,
had written an elementary book in which the Copernican system was taken
for granted. The Master of the Sacred Palace, Anfossi, as censor of the
press, refused to allow the book to be printed unless Settele revised
his work and treated the Copernican theory as merely a hypothesis. On
this Settele appealed to Pope Pius VII, and the Pope referred the matter
to the Congregation of the Holy Office. At last, on the 16th of August,
1820, it was decided that Settele might teach the Copernican system as
established, and this decision was approved by the Pope. This aroused
considerable discussion, but finally, on the 11th of September, 1822,
the cardinals of the Holy Inquisition graciously agreed that "the
printing and publication of works treating of the motion of the earth
and the stability of the sun, in accordance with the general opinion of
modern astronomers, is permitted at Rome." This decree was ratified by
Pius VII, but it was not until thirteen years later, in 1835, that there
was issued an edition of the Index from which the condemnation of works
defending the double motion of the earth was left out.

This was not a moment too soon, for, as if the previous proofs had not
been sufficient, each of the motions of the earth was now absolutely
demonstrated anew, so as to be recognised by the ordinary observer.
The parallax of fixed stars, shown by Bessel as well as other noted
astronomers in 1838, clinched forever the doctrine of the revolution of
the earth around the sun, and in 1851 the great experiment of Foucault
with the pendulum showed to the human eye the earth in motion around its
own axis. To make the matter complete, this experiment was publicly made
in one of the churches at Rome by the eminent astronomer, Father Secchi,
of the Jesuits, in 1852--just two hundred and twenty years after the
Jesuits had done so much to secure Galileo's condemnation.(75)

     (75) For good statements of the final action of the Church in the
matter, see Gebler; also Zoeckler, ii, 352. See also Bertrand,
Fondateurs de l'Astronomie moderne, p. 61; Flammarion, Vie de Copernic,
chap. ix. As to the time when the decree of condemnation was repealed,
there have been various pious attempts to make it earlier than the
reality. Artaud, p. 307, cited in an apologetic article in the Dublin
Review, September, 1865, says that Galileo's famous dialogue was
published in 1714, at Padua, entire, and with the usual approbations.
The same article also declares that in 1818, the ecclesiastical decrees
were repealed by Pius VII in full Consistory. Whewell accepts this;
but Cantu, an authority favourable to the Church, acknowledges that
Copernicus's work remained on the Index as late as 1835 (Cantu, Histoire
universelle, vol. xv, p. 483); and with this Th. Martin, not less
favourable to the Church, but exceedingly careful as to the facts,
agrees; and the most eminent authority of all, Prof. Reusch, of Bonn,
in his Der Index der vorbotenen Bucher, Bonn, 1885, vol. ii, p. 396,
confirms the above statement in the text. For a clear statement of
Bradley's exquisite demonstration of the Copernican theory by reasonings
upon the rapidity of light, etc., and Foucault's exhibition of the
rotation of the earth by the pendulum experiment, see Hoefer, Histoire
de l'Astronomie, pp. 492 et seq. For more recent proofs of the
Copernican theory, by the discoveries of Bunsen, Bischoff, Benzenberg,
and others, see Jevons, Principles of Science.


Any history of the victory of astronomical science over dogmatic
theology would be incomplete without some account of the retreat made by
the Church from all its former positions in the Galileo case.

The retreat of the Protestant theologians was not difficult. A little
skilful warping of Scripture, a little skilful use of that time-honoured
phrase, attributed to Cardinal Baronius, that the Bible is given to
teach us, not how the heavens go, but how men go to heaven, and a free
use of explosive rhetoric against the pursuing army of scientists,

But in the older Church it was far less easy. The retreat of the
sacro-scientific army of Church apologists lasted through two centuries.

In spite of all that has been said by these apologists, there no longer
remains the shadow of a doubt that the papal infallibility was committed
fully and irrevocably against the double revolution of the earth. As the
documents of Galileo's trial now published show, Paul V, in 1616, pushed
on with all his might the condemnation of Galileo and of the works of
Copernicus and of all others teaching the motion of the earth around its
own axis and around the sun. So, too, in the condemnation of Galileo in
1633, and in all the proceedings which led up to it and which followed
it, Urban VIII was the central figure. Without his sanction no action
could have been taken.

True, the Pope did not formally sign the decree against the Copernican
theory THEN; but this came later. In 1664 Alexander VII prefixed to
the Index containing the condemnations of the works of Copernicus and
Galileo and "all books which affirm the motion of the earth" a papal
bull signed by himself, binding the contents of the Index upon the
consciences of the faithful. This bull confirmed and approved in express
terms, finally, decisively, and infallibly, the condemnation of "all
books teaching the movement of the earth and the stability of the

     (76) See Rev. William W. Roberts, The Pontifical Decrees against the
Doctrine of the Earth's Movement, London, 1885, p. 94; and for the text
of the papal bull, Speculatores domus Israel, pp. 132, 133, see also St.
George Mivart's article in the Nineteenth Century for July, 1885. For
the authentic publication of the bull, see preface to the Index of 1664,
where the bull appears, signed by the Pope. The Rev. Mr. Roberts and
Mr. St. George Mivart are Roman Catholics and both acknowledge that the
papal sanction was fully given.

The position of the mother Church had been thus made especially
difficult; and the first important move in retreat by the apologists was
the statement that Galileo was condemned, not because he affirmed the
motion of the earth, but because he supported it from Scripture. There
was a slight appearance of truth in this. Undoubtedly, Galileo's letters
to Castelli and the grand duchess, in which he attempted to show that
his astronomical doctrines were not opposed to Scripture, gave a new
stir to religious bigotry. For a considerable time, then, this quibble
served its purpose; even a hundred and fifty years after Galileo's
condemnation it was renewed by the Protestant Mallet du Pan, in his wish
to gain favour from the older Church.

But nothing can be more absurd, in the light of the original documents
recently brought out of the Vatican archives, than to make this
contention now. The letters of Galileo to Castelli and the Grand-Duchess
were not published until after the condemnation; and, although the
Archbishop of Pisa had endeavoured to use them against him, they were
but casually mentioned in 1616, and entirely left out of view in 1633.
What was condemned in 1616 by the Sacred Congregation held in the
OF VIEW, AT LEAST, OPPOSED TO THE TRUE FAITH," was the proposition that

And again, what Galileo was made, by express order of Pope Urban, and
by the action of the Inquisition under threat of torture, to abjure in

What the Index condemned under sanction of the bull issued by Alexander

What the Index, prefaced by papal bulls, infallibly binding its contents
upon the consciences of the faithful, for nearly two hundred years

Not one of these condemnations was directed against Galileo "for
reconciling his ideas with Scripture."(77)

     (77) For the original trial documents, copied carefully from the Vatican
manuscripts, see the Roman Catholic authority, L'Epinois, especially
p. 35, where the principal document is given in its original Latin;
see also Gebler, Die Acten des galilei'schen Processes, for still more
complete copies of the same documents. For minute information regarding
these documents and their publication, see Favaro, Miscellanea Galileana
Inedita, forming vol. xxii, part iii, of the Memoirs of the Venetian
Institute for 1887, and especially pp. 891 and following.

Having been dislodged from this point, the Church apologists sought
cover under the statement that Galileo was condemned not for heresy, but
for contumacy and want of respect toward the Pope.

There was a slight chance, also, for this quibble: no doubt Urban VIII,
one of the haughtiest of pontiffs, was induced by Galileo's enemies
to think that he had been treated with some lack of proper etiquette:
first, by Galileo's adhesion to his own doctrines after his condemnation
in 1616; and, next, by his supposed reference in the Dialogue of 1632 to
the arguments which the Pope had used against him.

But it would seem to be a very poor service rendered to the doctrine
of papal infallibility to claim that a decision so immense in its
consequences could be influenced by the personal resentment of the
reigning pontiff.

Again, as to the first point, the very language of the various sentences
shows the folly of this assertion; for these sentences speak always of
"heresy" and never of "contumacy." As to the last point, the display
of the original documents settled that forever. They show Galileo from
first to last as most submissive toward the Pope, and patient under the
papal arguments and exactions. He had, indeed, expressed his anger at
times against his traducers; but to hold this the cause of the judgment
against him is to degrade the whole proceedings, and to convict Paul V,
Urban VIII, Bellarmin, the other theologians, and the Inquisition, of
direct falsehood, since they assigned entirely different reasons
for their conduct. From this position, therefore, the assailants

     (78) The invention of the "contumacy" quibble seems due to Monsignor
Marini, who appears also to have manipulated the original documents to
prove it. Even Whewell was evidently somewhat misled by him, but Whewell
wrote before L'Epinois had shown all the documents, and under the
supposition that Marini was an honest man.

The next rally was made about the statement that the persecution of
Galileo was the result of a quarrel between Aristotelian professors on
one side and professors favouring the experimental method on the other.
But this position was attacked and carried by a very simple statement.
If the divine guidance of the Church is such that it can be dragged
into a professorial squabble, and made the tool of a faction in bringing
about a most disastrous condemnation of a proved truth, how did the
Church at that time differ from any human organization sunk into
decrepitude, managed nominally by simpletons, but really by schemers? If
that argument be true, the condition of the Church was even worse than
its enemies have declared it; and amid the jeers of an unfeeling world
the apologists sought new shelter.

The next point at which a stand was made was the assertion that
the condemnation of Galileo was "provisory"; but this proved a more
treacherous shelter than the others. The wording of the decree of
condemnation itself is a sufficient answer to this claim. When doctrines
have been solemnly declared, as those of Galileo were solemnly declared
under sanction of the highest authority in the Church, "contrary to the
sacred Scriptures," "opposed to the true faith," and "false and
absurd in theology and philosophy"--to say that such declarations
are "provisory" is to say that the truth held by the Church is not
immutable; from this, then, the apologists retreated.(79)

     (79) This argument also seems to have been foisted upon the world by the
wily Monsignor Marini.

Still another contention was made, in some respects more curious
than any other: it was, mainly, that Galileo "was no more a victim
of Catholics than of Protestants; for they more than the Catholic
theologians impelled the Pope to the action taken."(80)

     (80) See the Rev. A. M. Kirsch on Professor Huxley and Evolution, in The
American Catholic Quarterly, October, 1877. The article is, as a whole,
remarkably fair-minded, and in the main, just, as to the Protestant
attitude, and as to the causes underlying the whole action against

But if Protestantism could force the papal hand in a matter of this
magnitude, involving vast questions of belief and far-reaching questions
of policy, what becomes of "inerrancy"--of special protection and
guidance of the papal authority in matters of faith?

While this retreat from position to position was going on, there was a
constant discharge of small-arms, in the shape of innuendoes, hints,
and sophistries: every effort was made to blacken Galileo's private
character: the irregularities of his early life were dragged forth, and
stress was even laid upon breaches of etiquette; but this succeeded so
poorly that even as far back as 1850 it was thought necessary to cover
the retreat by some more careful strategy.

This new strategy is instructive. The original documents of the Galileo
trial had been brought during the Napoleonic conquests to Paris; but in
1846 they were returned to Rome by the French Government, on the express
pledge by the papal authorities that they should be published. In 1850,
after many delays on various pretexts, the long-expected publication
appeared. The personage charged with presenting them to the world was
Monsignor Marini. This ecclesiastic was of a kind which has too often
afflicted both the Church and the world at large. Despite the solemn
promise of the papal court, the wily Marini became the instrument of
the Roman authorities in evading the promise. By suppressing a document
here, and interpolating a statement there, he managed to give plausible
standing-ground for nearly every important sophistry ever broached
to save the infallibility of the Church and destroy the reputation of
Galileo. He it was who supported the idea that Galileo was "condemned
not for heresy, but for contumacy."

The first effect of Monsignor Marini's book seemed useful in covering
the retreat of the Church apologists. Aided by him, such vigorous
writers as Ward were able to throw up temporary intrenchments between
the Roman authorities and the indignation of the world.

But some time later came an investigator very different from Monsignor
Marini. This was a Frenchman, M. L'Epinois. Like Marini, L'Epinois was
devoted to the Church; but, unlike Marini, he could not lie. Having
obtained access in 1867 to the Galileo documents at the Vatican,
he published several of the most important, without suppression or
pious-fraudulent manipulation. This made all the intrenchments based
upon Marini's statements untenable. Another retreat had to be made.

And now came the most desperate effort of all. The apologetic army,
reviving an idea which the popes and the Church had spurned for
centuries, declared that the popes AS POPES had never condemned the
doctrines of Copernicus and Galileo; that they had condemned them as men
simply; that therefore the Church had never been committed to them; that
the condemnation was made by the cardinals of the inquisition and index;
and that the Pope had evidently been restrained by interposition of
Providence from signing their condemnation. Nothing could show the
desperation of the retreating party better than jugglery like this. The
fact is, that in the official account of the condemnation by Bellarmin,
in 1616, he declares distinctly that he makes this condemnation "in the
name of His Holiness the Pope."(81)

     (81) See the citation from the Vatican manuscript given in Gebler, p.

Again, from Pope Urban downward, among the Church authorities of the
seventeenth century the decision was always acknowledged to be made by
the Pope and the Church. Urban VIII spoke of that of 1616 as made by
Pope Paul V and the Church, and of that of 1633 as made by himself
and the Church. Pope Alexander VII in 1664, in his bull Speculatores,
solemnly sanctioned the condemnation of all books affirming the earth's

     (82) For references by Urban VIII to the condemnation as made by Pope
Paul V see pp. 136, 144, and elsewhere in Martin, who much against
his will is forced to allow this. See also Roberts, Pontifical decrees
against the Earth's Movement, and St. George Mivart's article, as above
quoted; also Reusch, Index der verbotenen Bucher, Bonn, 1885, vol. ii,
pp. 29 et seq.

When Gassendi attempted to raise the point that the decision against
Copernicus and Galileo was not sanctioned by the Church as such, an
eminent theological authority, Father Lecazre, rector of the College of
Dijon, publicly contradicted him, and declared that it "was not certain
cardinals, but the supreme authority of the Church," that had condemned
Galileo; and to this statement the Pope and other Church authorities
gave consent either openly or by silence. When Descartes and others
attempted to raise the same point, they were treated with contempt.
Father Castelli, who had devoted himself to Galileo, and knew to his
cost just what the condemnation meant and who made it, takes it for
granted, in his letter to the papal authorities, that it was made by the
Church. Cardinal Querenghi, in his letters; the ambassador Guicciardini,
in his dispatches; Polacco, in his refutation; the historian Viviani,
in his biography of Galileo--all writing under Church inspection
and approval at the time, took the view that the Pope and the Church
condemned Galileo, and this was never denied at Rome. The Inquisition
itself, backed by the greatest theologian of the time (Bellarmin), took
the same view. Not only does he declare that he makes the condemnation
"in the name of His Holiness the Pope," but we have the Roman Index,
containing the condemnation for nearly two hundred years, prefaced by
a solemn bull of the reigning Pope binding this condemnation on the
consciences of the whole Church, and declaring year after year that "all
books which affirm the motion of the earth" are damnable. To attempt
to face all this, added to the fact that Galileo was required to abjure
"the heresy of the movement of the earth" by written order of the Pope,
was soon seen to be impossible. Against the assertion that the Pope
was not responsible we have all this mass of testimony, and the bull of
Alexander VII in 1664.(83)

     (83) For Lecazre's answer to Gassendi, see Martin, pp. 146, 147. For the
attempt to make the crimes of Galileo breach of etiquette, see Dublin
Review, as above. Whewell, vol. i, p. 283. Citation from Marini:
"Galileo was punished for trifling with the authorities, to which
he refused to submit, and was punished for obstinate contumacy, not
heresy." The sufficient answer to all this is that the words of the
inflexible sentence designating the condemned books are "libri omnes
qui affirmant telluris motum." See Bertrand, p. 59. As to the idea
that "Galileo was punished for not his opinion, but for basing it on
Scripture," the answer may be found in the Roman Index of 1704, in which
are noted for condemnation "Libri omnes docentes mobilitatem terrae et
immobilitatem solis." For the way in which, when it was found convenient
in argument, Church apologists insisted that it WAS "the Supreme Chief
of the Church by a pontifical decree, and not certain cardinals," who
condemned Galileo and his doctrine, see Father Lecazre's letter to
Gassendi, in Flammarion, Pluralite des Mondes, p. 427, and Urban
VIII's own declarations as given by Martin. For the way in which,
when necessary, Church apologists asserted the very contrary of this,
declaring that it was "issued in a doctrinal degree of the Congregation
of the Index, and NOT as the Holy Father's teaching," see Dublin Review,
September, 1865.

This contention, then, was at last utterly given up by honest Catholics
themselves. In 1870 a Roman Catholic clergy man in England, the Rev. Mr.
Roberts, evidently thinking that the time had come to tell the truth,
published a book entitled The Pontifical Decrees against the Earth's
Movement, and in this exhibited the incontrovertible evidences that
the papacy had committed itself and its infallibility fully against the
movement of the earth. This Catholic clergyman showed from the original
record that Pope Paul V, in 1616, had presided over the tribunal
condemning the doctrine of the earth's movement, and ordering Galileo
to give up the opinion. He showed that Pope Urban VIII, in 1633, pressed
on, directed, and promulgated the final condemnation, making himself
in all these ways responsible for it. And, finally, he showed that Pope
Alexander VII, in 1664, by his bull--Speculatores domus Israel--attached
to the Index, condemning "all books which affirm the motion of the
earth," had absolutely pledged the papal infallibility against the
earth's movement. He also confessed that under the rules laid down by
the highest authorities in the Church, and especially by Sixtus V and
Pius IX, there was no escape from this conclusion.

Various theologians attempted to evade the force of the argument. Some,
like Dr. Ward and Bouix, took refuge in verbal niceties; some, like Dr.
Jeremiah Murphy, comforted themselves with declamation. The only result
was, that in 1885 came another edition of the Rev. Mr. Roberts's work,
even more cogent than the first; and, besides this, an essay by
that eminent Catholic, St. George Mivart, acknowledging the Rev. Mr.
Roberts's position to be impregnable, and declaring virtually that the
Almighty allowed Pope and Church to fall into complete error regarding
the Copernican theory, in order to teach them that science lies outside
their province, and that the true priesthood of scientific truth rests
with scientific investigators alone.(84)

     (84) For the crushing answer by two eminent Roman Catholics to the
sophistries cited--an answer which does infinitely more credit to the
older Church that all the perverted ingenuity used in concealing the
truth or breaking the force of it--see Roberts and St. George Mivart, as
already cited.

In spite, then, of all casuistry and special pleading, this sturdy
honesty ended the controversy among Catholics themselves, so far as
fair-minded men are concerned.

In recalling it at this day there stand out from its later phases
two efforts at compromise especially instructive, as showing the
embarrassment of militant theology in the nineteenth century.

The first of these was made by John Henry Newman in the days when he was
hovering between the Anglican and Roman Churches. In one of his sermons
before the University of Oxford he spoke as follows:

"Scripture says that the sun moves and the earth is stationary, and
science that the earth moves and the sun is comparatively at rest. How
can we determine which of these opposite statements is the very truth
till we know what motion is? If our idea of motion is but an accidental
result of our present senses, neither proposition is true and both are
true: neither true philosophically; both true for certain practical
purposes in the system in which they are respectively found."

In all anti-theological literature there is no utterance more hopelessly
skeptical. And for what were the youth of Oxford led into such
bottomless depths of disbelief as to any real existence of truth or
any real foundation for it? Simply to save an outworn system of
interpretation into which the gifted preacher happened to be born.

The other utterance was suggested by De Bonald and developed in the
Dublin Review, as is understood, by one of Newman's associates. This
argument was nothing less than an attempt to retreat under the charge
of deception against the Almighty himself. It is as follows: "But it may
well be doubted whether the Church did retard the progress of scientific
truth. What retarded it was the circumstance that God has thought fit to
express many texts of Scripture in words which have every appearance of
denying the earth's motion. But it is God who did this, not the Church;
and, moreover, since he saw fit so to act as to retard the progress of
scientific truth, it would be little to her discredit, even if it were
true, that she had followed his example."

This argument, like Mr. Gosse's famous attempt to reconcile geology to
Genesis--by supposing that for some inscrutable purpose God deliberately
deceived the thinking world by giving to the earth all the appearances
of development through long periods of time, while really creating it in
six days, each of an evening and a morning--seems only to have awakened
the amazed pity of thinking men. This, like the argument of Newman, was
a last desperate effort of Anglican and Roman divines to save something
from the wreckage of dogmatic theology.(85)

     (85) For the quotation from Newman, see his Sermons on the Theory of
Religious Belief, sermon xiv, cited by Bishop Goodwin in Contemporary
Review for January, 1892. For the attempt to take the blame off the
shoulders of both Pope and cardinals and place it upon the Almighty, see
the article above cited, in the Dublin Review, September 1865, p.
419 and July, 1871, pp. 157 et seq. For a good summary of the various
attempts, and for replies to them in a spirit of judicial fairness, see
Th. Martin, Vie de Galilee, though there is some special pleading to
save the infallibility of the Pope and Church. The bibliography at the
close is very valuable. For details of Mr. Gosse's theory, as developed
in his Omphalos, see the chapter on Geology in this work. As to a still
later attempt, see Wegg-Prosser, Galileo and his Judges, London, 1889,
the main thing in it being an attempt to establish, against the honest
and honourable concessions of Catholics like Roberts and Mivart,
sundry far-fetched and wire-drawn distinctions between dogmatic and
disciplinary bulls--an attempt which will only deepen the distrust of
straightforward reasoners. The author's point of view is stated in
the words, "I have maintained that the Church has a right to lay her
restraining hand on the speculations of natural science" (p. 167).

All these well-meaning defenders of the faith but wrought into the
hearts of great numbers of thinking men the idea that there is a
necessary antagonism between science and religion. Like the landsman who
lashes himself to the anchor of the sinking ship, they simply attached
Christianity by the strongest cords of logic which they could spin to
these mistaken ideas in science, and, could they have had their way, the
advance of knowledge would have ingulfed both together.

On the other hand, what had science done for religion? Simply this:
Copernicus, escaping persecution only by death; Giordano Bruno, burned
alive as a monster of impiety; Galileo, imprisoned and humiliated as
the worst of misbelievers; Kepler, accused of "throwing Christ's kingdom
into confusion with his silly fancies"; Newton, bitterly attacked for
"dethroning Providence," gave to religion stronger foundations and more
ennobling conceptions.

Under the old system, that princely astronomer, Alphonso of Castile,
seeing the inadequacy of the Ptolemaic theory, yet knowing no other,
startled Europe with the blasphemy that, if he had been present at
creation, he could have suggested a better order of the heavenly bodies.
Under the new system, Kepler, filled with a religious spirit, exclaimed,
"I do think the thoughts of God." The difference in religious spirit
between these two men marks the conquest made in this long struggle by
Science for Religion.(86)

     (86) As a pendant to this ejaculation of Kepler may be cited the words
of Linnaeus: "Deum ominpotentem a tergo transeuntem vidi et obstupui."

Nothing is more unjust than to cast especial blame for all this
resistance to science upon the Roman Church. The Protestant Church,
though rarely able to be so severe, has been more blameworthy. The
persecution of Galileo and his compeers by the older Church was
mainly at the beginning of the seventeenth century; the persecution
of Robertson Smith, and Winchell, and Woodrow, and Toy, and the young
professors at Beyrout, by various Protestant authorities, was near the
end of the nineteenth century. Those earlier persecutions by Catholicism
were strictly in accordance with principles held at that time by all
religionists, Catholic and Protestant, throughout the world; these later
persecutions by Protestants were in defiance of principles which all
Protestants to-day hold or pretend to hold, and none make louder
claim to hold them than the very sects which persecuted these eminent
Christian men of our day, men whose crime was that they were intelligent
enough to accept the science of their time, and honest enough to
acknowledge it.

Most unjustly, then, would Protestantism taunt Catholicism for excluding
knowledge of astronomical truths from European Catholic universities
in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, while real knowledge
of geological and biological and anthropological truth is denied
or pitifully diluted in so many American Protestant colleges and
universities in the nineteenth century.

Nor has Protestantism the right to point with scorn to the Catholic
Index, and to lay stress on the fact that nearly every really important
book in the last three centuries has been forbidden by it, so long as
young men in so many American Protestant universities and colleges are
nursed with "ecclesiastical pap" rather than with real thought, and
directed to the works of "solemnly constituted impostors," or to sundry
"approved courses of reading," while they are studiously kept aloof from
such leaders in modern thought as Darwin, Spencer, Huxley, Draper, and

It may indeed be justly claimed by Protestantism that some of the former
strongholds of her bigotry have become liberalized; but, on the other
hand, Catholicism can point to the fact that Pope Leo XIII, now
happily reigning, has made a noble change as regards open dealing with
documents. The days of Monsignor Marini, it may be hoped, are gone. The
Vatican Library, with its masses of historical material, has been thrown
open to Protestant and Catholic scholars alike, and this privilege has
been freely used by men representing all shades of religious thought.

As to the older errors, the whole civilized world was at fault,
Protestant as well as Catholic. It was not the fault of religion; it
was the fault of that short-sighted linking of theological dogmas to
scriptural texts which, in utter defiance of the words and works of the
Blessed Founder of Christianity, narrow-minded, loud-voiced men are ever
prone to substitute for religion. Justly is it said by one of the most
eminent among contemporary Anglican divines, that "it is because they
have mistaken the dawn for a conflagration that theologians have so
often been foes of light."(87)

     (87) For an exceedingly striking statement, by a Roman Catholic
historian of genius, as to the POPULAR demand for persecution and the
pressure of the lower strata in ecclesiastical organizations for cruel
measures, see Balmes's Le Protestantisme compare au Catholicisme, etc.,
fourth edition, Paris, 1855, vol. ii. Archbishop Spaulding has something
of the same sort in his Miscellanies. L'Epinois, Galilee, p. 22 et seq.,
stretches this as far as possible to save the reputation of the Church
in the Galileo matter. As to the various branches of the Protestant
Church in England and the United States, it is a matter of notoriety
that the smug, well-to-do laymen, whether elders, deacons, or vestrymen,
are, as a rule, far more prone to heresy-hunting than are their better
educated pastors. As to the cases of Messrs. Winchell, Woodrow, Toy,
and all the professors at Beyrout, with details, see the chapter in this
series on The Fall of Man and Anthropology. Among Protestant historians
who have recently been allowed full and free examination of the
treasures in the Vatican Library, and even those involving questions
between Catholicism and Protestantism, are von Sybel, of Berlin, and
Philip Schaff, of New York. It should be added that the latter went with
commendatory letters from eminent prelates in the Catholic Church in
America and Europe. For the closing citation, see Canon Farrar, History
of Interpretation, p. 432.



Few things in the evolution of astronomy are more suggestive than the
struggle between the theological and the scientific doctrine regarding
comets--the passage from the conception of them as fire-balls flung by
an angry God for the purpose of scaring a wicked world, to a recognition
of them as natural in origin and obedient to law in movement. Hardly
anything throws a more vivid light upon the danger of wresting texts
of Scripture to preserve ideas which observation and thought have
superseded, and upon the folly of arraying ecclesiastical power against
scientific discovery.(88)

     (88) The present study, after its appearance in the Popular Science
Monthly as a "new chapter in the Warfare of Science," was revised
and enlarged to nearly its present form, and read before the American
Historical Association, among whose papers it was published, in 1887,
under the title of A History of the Doctrine of Comets.

Out of the ancient world had come a mass of beliefs regarding comets,
meteors, and eclipses; all these were held to be signs displayed from
heaven for the warning of mankind. Stars and meteors were generally
thought to presage happy events, especially the births of gods, heroes,
and great men. So firmly rooted was this idea that we constantly find
among the ancient nations traditions of lights in the heavens preceding
the birth of persons of note. The sacred books of India show that
the births of Crishna and of Buddha were announced by such heavenly
lights.(89) The sacred books of China tell of similar appearances at
the births of Yu, the founder of the first dynasty, and of the inspired
sage, Lao-tse. According to the Jewish legends, a star appeared at the
birth of Moses, and was seen by the Magi of Egypt, who informed the
king; and when Abraham was born an unusual star appeared in the east.
The Greeks and Romans cherished similar traditions. A heavenly light
accompanied the birth of Aesculapius, and the births of various Caesars
were heralded in like manner.(90)

     (89) For Crishna, see Cox, Aryan Mythology, vol. ii, p. 133; the Vishnu
Purana (Wilson's translation), book v, chap. iv. As to lights at
the birth, or rather at the conception, of Buddha, see Bunsen, Angel
Messiah, pp. 22,23; Alabaster, Wheel of the Law (illustrations of
Buddhism), p. 102; Edwin Arnold, Light of Asia; Bp. Bigandet, Life
of Gaudama, the Burmese Buddha, p. 30; Oldenberg, Buddha (English
translation), part i, chap. ii.

     (90) For Chinese legends regarding stars at the birth of Yu and
Lao-tse, see Thornton, History of China, vol. i, p. 137; also Pingre,
Cometographie, p. 245. Regarding stars at the birth of Moses and
Abraham, see Calmet, Fragments, part viii; Baring-Gould, Legends of Old
Testament Characters, chap. xxiv; Farrar, Life of Christ, chap. iii. As
to the Magi, see Higgins, Anacalypsis; Hooykaas, Ort, and Kuenen,
Bible for Learners, vol. iii. For Greek and Roman traditions, see Bell,
Pantheon, s. v. Aesculapius and Atreus; Gibbon, Decline and Fall, vol.
i, pp. 151, 590; Farrar, Life of Christ (American edition), p. 52; Cox,
Tales of Ancient Greece, pp. 41, 61, 62; Higgins, Anacalypsis, vol. i,
p. 322; also Suetonius, Caes., Julius, p.88, Claud., p. 463; Seneca,
Nat. Quaest, vol. 1, p. 1; Virgil, Ecl., vol. ix, p. 47; as well as
Ovid, Pliny, and others.

The same conception entered into our Christian sacred books. Of all the
legends which grew in such luxuriance and beauty about the cradle of
Jesus of Nazareth, none appeals more directly to the highest poetic
feeling than that given by one of the evangelists, in which a star,
rising in the east, conducted the wise men to the manger where the
Galilean peasant-child--the Hope of Mankind, the Light of the World--was
lying in poverty and helplessness.

Among the Mohammedans we have a curious example of the same tendency
toward a kindly interpretation of stars and meteors, in the belief of
certain Mohammedan teachers that meteoric showers are caused by good
angels hurling missiles to drive evil angels out of the sky.

Eclipses were regarded in a very different light, being supposed
to express the distress of Nature at earthly calamities. The Greeks
believed that darkness overshadowed the earth at the deaths of
Prometheus, Atreus, Hercules, Aesculapius, and Alexander the Great. The
Roman legends held that at the death of Romulus there was darkness for
six hours. In the history of the Caesars occur portents of all three
kinds; for at the death of Julius the earth was shrouded in darkness,
the birth of Augustus was heralded by a star, and the downfall of Nero
by a comet. So, too, in one of the Christian legends clustering about
the crucifixion, darkness overspread the earth from the sixth to the
ninth hour. Neither the silence regarding it of the only evangelist who
claims to have been present, nor the fact that observers like Seneca
and Pliny, who, though they carefully described much less striking
occurrences of the same sort and in more remote regions, failed to
note any such darkness even in Judea, have availed to shake faith in an
account so true to the highest poetic instincts of humanity.

This view of the relations between Nature and man continued among both
Jews and Christians. According to Jewish tradition, darkness overspread
the earth for three days when the books of the Law were profaned by
translation into Greek. Tertullian thought an eclipse an evidence of
God's wrath against unbelievers. Nor has this mode of thinking ceased
in modern times. A similar claim was made at the execution of Charles I;
and Increase Mather thought an eclipse in Massachusetts an evidence
of the grief of Nature at the death of President Chauncey, of Harvard
College. Archbishop Sandys expected eclipses to be the final tokens of
woe at the destruction of the world, and traces of this feeling have
come down to our own time.

The quaint story of the Connecticut statesman who, when his associates
in the General Assembly were alarmed by an eclipse of the sun, and
thought it the beginning of the Day of Judgment, quietly ordered in
candles, that he might in any case be found doing his duty, marks
probably the last noteworthy appearance of the old belief in any
civilized nation.(91)

     (91) For Hindu theories, see Alabaster, Wheel of the Law, 11. For Greek
and Roman legends, See Higgins, Anacalypsis, vol. i, pp. 616, 617.; also
Suetonius, Caes., Julius, p. 88, Claud., p. 46; Seneca, Quaest. Nat.,
vol. i, p. 1, vol. vii, p. 17; Pliny, Hist. Nat., vol. ii, p. 25;
Tacitus, Ann., vol. xiv, p. 22; Josephus, Antiq., vol. xiv, p. 12; and
the authorities above cited. For the tradition of the Jews regarding
the darkness of three days, see citation in Renan, Histoire du Peuple
Israel, vol. iv, chap. iv. For Tertullian's belief regarding the
significance of an eclipse, see the Ad Scapulum, chap. iii, in Migne,
Patrolog. Lat., vol. i, p. 701. For the claim regarding Charles I, see
a sermon preached before Charles II, cited by Lecky, England in the
Eighteenth Century, vol. i, p. 65. Mather thought, too, that it might
have something to do with the death of sundry civil functionaries of
the colonies; see his Discourse concerning comets, 1682. For Archbishop
Sandy's belief, see his eighteenth sermon (in Parker Soc. Publications).
The story of Abraham Davenport has been made familiar by the poem of

In these beliefs regarding meteors and eclipses there was little
calculated to do harm by arousing that superstitious terror which is
the worst breeding-bed of cruelty. Far otherwise was it with the belief
regarding comets. During many centuries it gave rise to the direst
superstition and fanaticism. The Chaldeans alone among the ancient
peoples generally regarded comets without fear, and thought them bodies
wandering as harmless as fishes in the sea; the Pythagoreans alone among
philosophers seem to have had a vague idea of them as bodies returning
at fixed periods of time; and in all antiquity, so far as is known, one
man alone, Seneca, had the scientific instinct and prophetic inspiration
to give this idea definite shape, and to declare that the time would
come when comets would be found to move in accordance with natural law.
Here and there a few strong men rose above the prevailing superstition.
The Emperor Vespasian tried to laugh it down, and insisted that a
certain comet in his time could not betoken his death, because it was
hairy, and he bald; but such scoffing produced little permanent effect,
and the prophecy of Seneca was soon forgotten. These and similar
isolated utterances could not stand against the mass of opinion which
upheld the doctrine that comets are "signs and wonders."(92)

     (92) For terror caused in Rome by comets, see Pingre, Cometographie, pp.
165, 166. For the Chaldeans, see Wolf, Geschichte der Astronomie, p. 10
et seq., and p. 181 et seq.; also Pingre, chap. ii. For the Pythagorean
notions, see citations from Plutarch in Costard, History of Astronomy,
p. 283. For Seneca's prediction, see Guillemin, World of Comets
(translated by Glaisher), pp. 4, 5; also Watson, On Comets, p. 126. For
this feeling in antiquity generally, see the preliminary chapters of the
two works last cited.

The belief that every comet is a ball of fire flung from the right hand
of an angry God to warn the grovelling dwellers of earth was received
into the early Church, transmitted through the Middle Ages to the
Reformation period, and in its transmission was made all the more
precious by supposed textual proofs from Scripture. The great fathers of
the Church committed themselves unreservedly to it. In the third century
Origen, perhaps the most influential of the earlier fathers of the
universal Church in all questions between science and faith, insisted
that comets indicate catastrophes and the downfall of empires and
worlds. Bede, so justly revered by the English Church, declared in the
eighth century that "comets portend revolutions of kingdoms, pestilence,
war, winds, or heat"; and John of Damascus, his eminent contemporary
in the Eastern Church, took the same view. Rabanus Maurus, the great
teacher of Europe in the ninth century, an authority throughout the
Middle Ages, adopted Bede's opinion fully. St. Thomas Aquinas, the great
light of the universal Church in the thirteenth century, whose works the
Pope now reigning commends as the centre and source of all university
instruction, accepted and handed down the same opinion. The sainted
Albert the Great, the most noted genius of the medieval Church in
natural science, received and developed this theory. These men and
those who followed them founded upon scriptural texts and theological
reasonings a system that for seventeen centuries defied every advance of

     (93) For Origen, se his De Princip., vol. i, p. 7; also Maury, Leg.
pieuses, p. 203, note. For Bede and others, see De Nat., vol. xxiv; Joh.
Dam., De Fid. Or.,vol. ii, p. 7; Maury, La Magie et l'Astronomie, pp.
181, 182. For Albertus Magnus, see his Opera, vol. i, tr. iii, chaps.
x, xi. Among the texts of Scripture on which this belief rested was
especially Joel ii, 30, 31.

The main evils thence arising were three: the paralysis of self-help,
the arousing of fanaticism, and the strengthening of ecclesiastical
and political tyranny. The first two of these evils--the paralysis of
self-help and the arousing of fanaticism--are evident throughout
all these ages. At the appearance of a comet we constantly see all
Christendom, from pope to peasant, instead of striving to avert war
by wise statesmanship, instead of striving to avert pestilence by
observation and reason, instead of striving to avert famine by skilful
economy, whining before fetiches, trying to bribe them to remove these
signs of God's wrath, and planning to wreak this supposed wrath of God
upon misbelievers.

As to the third of these evils--the strengthening of ecclesiastical
and civil despotism--examples appear on every side. It was natural that
hierarchs and monarchs whose births were announced by stars, or whose
deaths were announced by comets, should regard themselves as far above
the common herd, and should be so regarded by mankind; passive obedience
was thus strengthened, and the most monstrous assumptions of authority
were considered simply as manifestations of the Divine will. Shakespeare
makes Calphurnia say to Caesar:

"When beggars die, there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves
blaze forth the death of princes."

Galeazzo, the tyrant of Milan, expressing satisfaction on his deathbed
that his approaching end was of such importance as to be heralded by a
comet, is but a type of many thus encouraged to prey upon mankind;
and Charles V, one of the most powerful monarchs the world has known,
abdicating under fear of the comet of 1556, taking refuge in the
monastery of San Yuste, and giving up the best of his vast realms to
such a scribbling bigot as Philip II, furnishes an example even more

     (94) For Caesar, see Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, act ii, sc. 2. For
Galeazzo, see Guillemin, World of Comets, p. 19. For Charles V, see
Prof. Wolf's essay in the Monatschrift des wissenschaftlichen Vereins,
Zurich, 1857, p. 228.

But for the retention of this belief there was a moral cause. Myriads
of good men in the Christian Church down to a recent period saw in the
appearance of comets not merely an exhibition of "signs in the heavens"
foretold in Scripture, but also Divine warnings of vast value to
humanity as incentives to repentance and improvement of life-warnings,
indeed, so precious that they could not be spared without danger to
the moral government of the world. And this belief in the portentous
character of comets as an essential part of the Divine government,
being, as it was thought, in full accord with Scripture, was made for
centuries a source of terror to humanity. To say nothing of examples in
the earlier periods, comets in the tenth century especially increased
the distress of all Europe. In the middle of the eleventh century a
comet was thought to accompany the death of Edward the Confessor and to
presage the Norman conquest; the traveller in France to-day may see this
belief as it was then wrought into the Bayeux tapestry.(95)

     (95) For evidences of this widespread terror, see chronicles of
Raoul Glaber, Guillaume de Nangis, William of Malmesbury, Florence
of Worcester, Ordericus Vitalis, et al., passim, and the Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle (in the Rolls Series). For very thrilling pictures of this
horror in England, see Freeman, Norman Conquest, vol. iii, pp. 640-644,
and William Rufus, vol. ii, p. 118. For the Bayeau tapestry, see Bruce,
Bayeux Tapestry Elucidated, plate vii and p. 86; also Guillemin, World
of Comets, p. 24. There is a large photographic copy, in the South
Kensington Museum at London, of the original, wrought, as is generally
believed, by the wife of William the Conqueror and her ladies, and is
still preserved in the town museum at Bayeux.

Nearly every decade of years throughout the Middle Ages saw Europe
plunged into alarm by appearances of this sort, but the culmination
seems to have been reached in 1456. At that time the Turks, after a long
effort, had made good their footing in Europe. A large statesmanship
or generalship might have kept them out; but, while different religious
factions were disputing over petty shades of dogma, they had advanced,
had taken Constantinople, and were evidently securing their foothold.
Now came the full bloom of this superstition. A comet appeared. The
Pope of that period, Calixtus III, though a man of more than ordinary
ability, was saturated with the ideas of his time. Alarmed at this
monster, if we are to believe the contemporary historian, this
infallible head of the Church solemnly "decreed several days of prayer
for the averting of the wrath of God, that whatever calamity impended
might be turned from the Christians and against the Turks." And, that
all might join daily in this petition, there was then established that
midday Angelus which has ever since called good Catholics to prayer
against the powers of evil. Then, too, was incorporated into a litany
the plea, "From the Turk and the comet, good Lord, deliver us."
Never was papal intercession less effective; for the Turk has held
Constantinople from that day to this, while the obstinate comet, being
that now known under the name of Halley, has returned imperturbably at
short periods ever since.(96)

     (96) The usual statement is, that Calixtus excommunicated the comet by
a bull, and this is accepted by Arago, Grant, Hoefer, Guillemin, Watson,
and many historians of astronomy. Hence the parallel is made on a noted
occasion by President Lincoln. No such bull, however, is to be found in
the published Bulleria, and that establishing the Angelus (as given by
Raynaldus in the Annales Eccl.) contains no mention of the comet. But
the authority of Platina (in his Vitae Pontificum, Venice, 1479, sub
Calistus III) who was not only in Rome at the time, but when he wrote
his history, archivist of the Vatican, is final as to the Pope's
attitude. Platina's authority was never questioned until modern science
changed the ideas of the world. The recent attempt of Pastor (in his
Geschichte der Papste) to pooh-pooh down the whole matter is too evident
an evasion to carry weight with those who know how even the most careful
histories have to be modified to suit the views of the censorship at

But the superstition went still further. It became more and more
incorporated into what was considered "scriptural science" and "sound
learning." The encyclopedic summaries, in which the science of the
Middle Ages and the Reformation period took form, furnish abundant
proofs of this.

Yet scientific observation was slowly undermining this structure. The
inspired prophecy of Seneca had not been forgotten. Even as far back as
the ninth century, in the midst of the sacred learning so abundant
at the court of Charlemagne and his successors, we find a scholar
protesting against the accepted doctrine. In the thirteenth century we
have a mild question by Albert the Great as to the supposed influence of
comets upon individuals; but the prevailing theological current was too
strong, and he finally yielded to it in this as in so many other things.

So, too, in the sixteenth century, we have Copernicus refusing to accept
the usual theory, Paracelsus writing to Zwingli against it, and Julius
Caesar Scaliger denouncing it as "ridiculous folly."(97)

     (97) As to encyclopedic summaries, see Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum
Naturale, and the various editions of Reisch's Margarita Philosophica.
For Charlemagne's time, see Champion, La Fin du Monde, p. 156; Leopardi,
Errori Popolari, p. 165. As to Albert the Great's question, see Heller,
Geschichte der Physik, vol. i, p. 188. As to scepticism in the sixteenth
century, see Champion, La Fin du Monde, pp. 155, 156; and for Scaliger,
Dudith's book, cited below.

At first this scepticism only aroused the horror of theologians and
increased the vigour of ecclesiastics; both asserted the theological
theory of comets all the more strenuously as based on scriptural truth.
During the sixteenth century France felt the influence of one of her
greatest men on the side of this superstition. Jean Bodin, so far before
his time in political theories, was only thoroughly abreast of it in
religious theories: the same reverence for the mere letter of Scripture
which made him so fatally powerful in supporting the witchcraft
delusion, led him to support this theological theory of comets--but
with a difference: he thought them the souls of men, wandering in space,
bringing famine, pestilence, and war.

Not less strong was the same superstition in England. Based upon
mediaeval theology, it outlived the revival of learning. From a
multitude of examples a few may be selected as typical. Early in the
sixteenth century Polydore Virgil, an ecclesiastic of the unreformed
Church, alludes, in his English History, to the presage of the death of
the Emperor Constantine by a comet as to a simple matter of fact; and
in his work on prodigies he pushes this superstition to its most extreme
point, exhibiting comets as preceding almost every form of calamity.

In 1532, just at the transition period from the old Church to the new,
Cranmer, paving the way to his archbishopric, writes from Germany to
Henry VIII, and says of the comet then visible: "What strange things
these tokens do signify to come hereafter, God knoweth; for they do not
lightly appear but against some great matter."

Twenty years later Bishop Latimer, in an Advent sermon, speaks of
eclipses, rings about the sun, and the like, as signs of the approaching
end of the world.(98)

     (98) For Bodin, see Theatr., lib. ii, cited by Pingre, vol. i, p. 45;
also a vague citation in Baudrillart, Bodin et son Temps, p. 360.
For Polydore Virgil, see English History, p. 97 (in Camden Society
Publications). For Cranmer, see Remains, vol. ii, p. 535 (in Parker
Society Publications). For Latimer, see Sermons, second Sunday in
Advent, 1552.

In 1580, under Queen Elizabeth, there was set forth an "order of
prayer to avert God's wrath from us, threatened by the late terrible
earthquake, to be used in all parish churches." In connection with this
there was also commended to the faithful "a godly admonition for the
time present"; and among the things referred to as evidence of God's
wrath are comets, eclipses, and falls of snow.

This view held sway in the Church of England during Elizabeth's whole
reign and far into the Stuart period: Strype, the ecclesiastical
annalist, gives ample evidence of this, and among the more curious
examples is the surmise that the comet of 1572 was a token of Divine
wrath provoked by the St. Bartholomew massacre.

As to the Stuart period, Archbishop Spottiswoode seems to have been
active in carrying the superstition from the sixteenth century to the
seventeenth, and Archbishop Bramhall cites Scripture in support of
it. Rather curiously, while the diary of Archbishop Laud shows so much
superstition regarding dreams as portents, it shows little or none
regarding comets; but Bishop Jeremy Taylor, strong as he was, evidently
favoured the usual view. John Howe, the eminent Nonconformist divine
in the latter part of the century, seems to have regarded the comet
superstition as almost a fundamental article of belief; he laments the
total neglect of comets and portents generally, declaring that this
neglect betokens want of reverence for the Ruler of the world; he
expresses contempt for scientific inquiry regarding comets, insists that
they may be natural bodies and yet supernatural portents, and ends by
saying, "I conceive it very safe to suppose that some very considerable
thing, either in the way of judgment or mercy, may ensue, according as
the cry of persevering wickedness or of penitential prayer is more or
less loud at that time."(99)

     (99) For Liturgical Services of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, see Parker
Society Publications, pp. 569, 570. For Strype, see his Ecclesiastical
Memorials, vol. iii, part i, p. 472; also see his Annals of the
reformation, vol. ii, part ii, p. 151; and his Life of Sir Thomas Smith,
pp. 161, 162. For Spottiswoode, see History of the Church of Scotland
(Edinburgh reprint, 1851), vol. i, pp. 185, 186. For Bramhall, see his
Works, Oxford, 1844, vol. iv, pp. 60, 307, etc. For Jeremy Taylor, see
his Sermons on the Life of Christ. For John Howe, see his Works, London,
1862, vol. iv, pp. 140, 141.

The Reformed Church of Scotland supported the superstition just as
strongly. John Knox saw in comets tokens of the wrath of Heaven; other
authorities considered them "a warning to the king to extirpate the
Papists"; and as late as 1680, after Halley had won his victory, comets
were announced on high authority in the Scottish Church to be "prodigies
of great judgment on these lands for our sins, for never was the Lord
more provoked by a people."

While such was the view of the clergy during the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, the laity generally accepted it as a matter of
course, Among the great leaders in literature there was at least general
acquiescence in it. Both Shakespeare and Milton recognise it, whether
they fully accept it or not. Shakespeare makes the Duke of Bedford,
lamenting at the bier of Henry V, say:

"Comets, importing change of time and states, Brandish your crystal
tresses in the sky; And with them scourge the bad revolting stars, That
have consented unto Henry's death."

Milton, speaking of Satan preparing for combat, says:

"On the other side, Incensed with indignation, Satan stood. Unterrified,
and like a comet burned, That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge In the
arctic sky, and from its horrid hair Shakes pestilence and war."

We do indeed find that in some minds the discoveries of Tycho Brahe
and Kepler begin to take effect, for, in 1621, Burton in his Anatomy of
Melancholy alludes to them as changing public opinion somewhat regarding
comets; and, just before the middle of the century, Sir Thomas Browne
expresses a doubt whether comets produce such terrible effects, "since
it is found that many of them are above the moon."(100) Yet even as late
as the last years of the seventeenth century we have English authors
of much power battling for this supposed scriptural view and among the
natural and typical results we find, in 1682, Ralph Thoresby, a Fellow
of the Royal Society, terrified at the comet of that year, and writing
in his diary the following passage: "Lord, fit us for whatever changes
it may portend; for, though I am not ignorant that such meteors proceed
from natural causes, yet are they frequently also the presages of
imminent calamities." Interesting is it to note here that this was
Halley's comet, and that Halley was at this very moment making those
scientific studies upon it which were to free the civilized world
forever from such terrors as distressed Thoresby.

     (100) For John Knox, see his Histoire of the Reformation of Religion
within the Realm of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1732), lib. iv; also Chambers,
Domestic Annals of Scotland, vol. ii, pp 410-412. For Burton, see his
Anatomy of Melancholy, part ii, sect 2. For Browne, see the Vulgar and
Common Errors, book vi, chap. xiv.

The belief in comets as warnings against sin was especially one of those
held "always, everywhere, and by all," and by Eastern Christians as well
as by Western. One of the most striking scenes in the history of the
Eastern Church is that which took place at the condemnation of Nikon,
the great Patriarch of Moscow. Turning toward his judges, he pointed to
a comet then blazing in the sky, and said, "God's besom shall sweep you
all away!"

Of all countries in western Europe, it was in Germany and German
Switzerland that this superstition took strongest hold. That same depth
of religious feeling which produced in those countries the most terrible
growth of witchcraft persecution, brought superstition to its highest
development regarding comets. No country suffered more from it in the
Middle Ages. At the Reformation Luther declared strongly in favour of
it. In one of his Advent sermons he said, "The heathen write that the
comet may arise from natural causes, but God creates not one that does
not foretoken a sure calamity." Again he said, "Whatever moves in the
heaven in an unusual way is certainly a sign of God's wrath."

And sometimes, yielding to another phase of his belief, he declared them
works of the devil, and declaimed against them as "harlot stars."(101)

     (101) For Thoresby, see his Diary, (London, 1830). Halley's great
service is described further on in this chapter. For Nikon's speech, see
Dean Stanley's History of the Eastern Church, p. 485. For very striking
examples of this mediaeval terror in Germany, see Von Raumer, Geschichte
der Hohenstaufen, vol. vi, p. 538. For the Reformation period, see Wolf,
Gesch. d. Astronomie; also Praetorius, Ueber d. Cometstern (Erfurt,
1589), in which the above sentences of Luther are printed on the title
page as epigraphs. For "Huren-Sternen," see the sermon of Celichius,
described later.

Melanchthon, too, in various letters refers to comets as heralds of
Heaven's wrath, classing them, with evil conjunctions of the planets and
abortive births, among the "signs" referred to in Scripture. Zwingli,
boldest of the greater Reformers in shaking off traditional beliefs,
could not shake off this, and insisted that the comet of 1531 betokened
calamity. Arietus, a leading Protestant theologian, declared, "The
heavens are given us not merely for our pleasure, but also as a warning
of the wrath of God for the correction of our lives." Lavater insisted
that comets are signs of death or calamity, and cited proofs from

Catholic and Protestant strove together for the glory of this doctrine.
It was maintained with especial vigour by Fromundus, the eminent
professor and Doctor of Theology at the Catholic University of Louvain,
who so strongly opposed the Copernican system; at the beginning of the
seventeenth century, even so gifted an astronomer as Kepler yielded
somewhat to the belief; and near the end of that century Voigt declared
that the comet of 1618 clearly presaged the downfall of the Turkish
Empire, and he stigmatized as "atheists and Epicureans" all who did not
believe comets to be God's warnings.(102)

     (102) For Melanchthon, see Wolf, ubi supra. For Zwingli, see Wolf, p.
235. For Arietus, see Madler, Geschichte der Himmelskunde, vol. ii. For
Kepler's superstition, see Wolf, p. 281. For Voight, see Himmels-Manaten
Reichstage, Hamburg, 1676. For both Fromundus and Voigt, see also
Madler, vol. ii, p. 399, and Lecky, Rationalism in Europe, vol. i, p.28.


Out of this belief was developed a great series of efforts to maintain
the theological view of comets, and to put down forever the scientific
view. These efforts may be divided into two classes: those directed
toward learned men and scholars, through the universities, and those
directed toward the people at large, through the pulpits. As to the
first of these, that learned men and scholars might be kept in the paths
of "sacred science" and "sound learning," especial pains was taken to
keep all knowledge of the scientific view of comets as far as possible
from students in the universities. Even to the end of the seventeenth
century the oath generally required of professors of astronomy over a
large part of Europe prevented their teaching that comets are heavenly
bodies obedient to law. Efforts just as earnest were made to fasten into
students' minds the theological theory. Two or three examples out of
many may serve as types. First of these may be named the teaching of
Jacob Heerbrand, professor at the University of Tubingen, who in 1577
illustrated the moral value of comets by comparing the Almighty sending
a comet, to the judge laying the executioner's sword on the table
between himself and the criminal in a court of justice; and, again, to
the father or schoolmaster displaying the rod before naughty children.
A little later we have another churchman of great importance in that
region, Schickhart, head pastor and superintendent at Goppingen,
preaching and publishing a comet sermon, in which he denounces those who
stare at such warnings of God without heeding them, and compares them
to "calves gaping at a new barn door." Still later, at the end of the
seventeenth century, we find Conrad Dieterich, director of studies at
the University of Marburg, denouncing all scientific investigation of
comets as impious, and insisting that they are only to be regarded as
"signs and wonders."(103)

     (103) For the effect of the anti-Pythagorean oath, see Prowe,
Copernicus; also Madler and Wolf. For Heerbrand, see his Von dem
erschrockenlichen Wunderzeichen, Tubingen, 1577. For Schickart, see
his Predigt vom Wunderzeichen, Stuttgart, 1621. For Deiterich, see his
sermon, described more fully below.

The results of this ecclesiastical pressure upon science in the
universities were painfully shown during generation after generation, as
regards both professors and students; and examples may be given typical
of its effects upon each of these two classes.

The first of these is the case of Michael Maestlin. He was by birth a
Swabian Protestant, was educated at Tubingen as a pupil of Apian, and,
after a period of travel, was settled as deacon in the little parish
of Backnang, when the comet of 1577 gave him an occasion to apply his
astronomical studies. His minute and accurate observation of it is to
this day one of the wonders of science. It seems almost impossible that
so much could be accomplished by the naked eye. His observations agreed
with those of Tycho Brahe, and won for Maestlin the professorship of
astronomy in the University of Heidelberg. No man had so clearly proved
the supralunar position of a comet, or shown so conclusively that
its motion was not erratic, but regular. The young astronomer, though
Apian's pupil, was an avowed Copernican and the destined master and
friend of Kepler. Yet, in the treatise embodying his observations, he
felt it necessary to save his reputation for orthodoxy by calling
the comet a "new and horrible prodigy," and by giving a chapter of
"conjectures on the signification of the present comet," in which he
proves from history that this variety of comet betokens peace, but
peace purchased by a bloody victory. That he really believed in this
theological theory seems impossible; the very fact that his observations
had settled the supralunar character and regular motion of comets proves
this. It was a humiliation only to be compared to that of Osiander
when he wrote his grovelling preface to the great book of Copernicus.
Maestlin had his reward: when, a few years, later his old teacher,
Apian, was driven from his chair at Tubingen for refusing to sign the
Lutheran Concord-Book, Maestlin was elected to his place.

Not less striking was the effect of this theological pressure upon the
minds of students. Noteworthy as an example of this is the book of the
Leipsic lawyer, Buttner. From no less than eighty-six biblical texts
he proves the Almighty's purpose of using the heavenly bodies for the
instruction of men as to future events, and then proceeds to frame
exhaustive tables, from which, the time and place of the comet's first
appearance being known, its signification can be deduced. This manual
he gave forth as a triumph of religious science, under the name of the
Comet Hour-Book.(104)

     (104) For Maestlin, see his Observatio et Demonstration Cometae,
Tubingen, 1578. For Buttner, see his Cometen Stundbuchlein, Leipsic,

The same devotion to the portent theory is found in the universities
of Protestant Holland. Striking is it to see in the sixteenth century,
after Tycho Brahe's discovery, the Dutch theologian, Gerard Vossius,
Professor of Theology and Eloquence at Leyden, lending his great weight
to the superstition. "The history of all times," he says, "shows comets
to be the messengers of misfortune. It does not follow that they are
endowed with intelligence, but that there is a deity who makes use of
them to call the human race to repentance." Though familiar with the
works of Tycho Brahe, he finds it "hard to believe" that all comets are
ethereal, and adduces several historical examples of sublunary ones.

Nor was this attempt to hold back university teaching to the old view of
comets confined to Protestants. The Roman Church was, if possible,
more strenuous in the same effort. A few examples will serve as types,
representing the orthodox teaching at the great centres of Catholic

One of these is seen in Spain. The eminent jurist Torreblanca was
recognised as a controlling authority in all the universities of Spain,
and from these he swayed in the seventeenth century the thought of
Catholic Europe, especially as to witchcraft and the occult powers
in Nature. He lays down the old cometary superstition as one of the
foundations of orthodox teaching: Begging the question, after the
fashion of his time, he argues that comets can not be stars, because new
stars always betoken good, while comets betoken evil.

The same teaching was given in the Catholic universities of the
Netherlands. Fromundus, at Louvain, the enemy of Galileo, steadily
continued his crusade against all cometary heresy.(105)

     (105) For Vossius, see the De Idololatria (in his Opera, vol. v, pp.
283-285). For Torreblanc, see his De Magia, Seville, 1618, and often
reprinted. For Fromundus, see his Meteorologica.

But a still more striking case is seen in Italy. The reverend Father
Augustin de Angelis, rector of the Clementine College at Rome, as late
as 1673, after the new cometary theory had been placed beyond reasonable
doubt, and even while Newton was working out its final demonstration,
published a third edition of his Lectures on Meteorology. It was
dedicated to the Cardinal of Hesse, and bore the express sanction of
the Master of the Sacred Palace at Rome and of the head of the religious
order to which De Angelis belonged. This work deserves careful analysis,
not only as representing the highest and most approved university
teaching of the time at the centre of Roman Catholic Christendom, but
still more because it represents that attempt to make a compromise
between theology and science, or rather the attempt to confiscate
science to the uses of theology, which we so constantly find whenever
the triumph of science in any field has become inevitable.

As to the scientific element in this compromise, De Angelis holds, in
his general introduction regarding meteorology, that the main material
cause of comets is "exhalation," and says, "If this exhalation is thick
and sticky, it blazes into a comet." And again he returns to the
same view, saying that "one form of exhalation is dense, hence easily
inflammable and long retentive of fire, from which sort are especially
generated comets." But it is in his third lecture that he takes up
comets specially, and his discussion of them is extended through the
fourth, fifth, and sixth lectures. Having given in detail the opinions
of various theologians and philosophers, he declares his own in the form
of two conclusions. The first of these is that "comets are not heavenly
bodies, but originate in the earth's atmosphere below the moon; for
everything heavenly is eternal and incorruptible, but comets have a
beginning and ending--ergo, comets can not be heavenly bodies." This,
we may observe, is levelled at the observations and reasonings of Tycho
Brahe and Kepler, and is a very good illustration of the scholastic
and mediaeval method--the method which blots out an ascertained fact by
means of a metaphysical formula. His second conclusion is that "comets
are of elemental and sublunary nature; for they are an exhalation
hot and dry, fatty and well condensed, inflammable and kindled in
the uppermost regions of the air." He then goes on to answer sundry
objections to this mixture of metaphysics and science, and among other
things declares that "the fatty, sticky material of a comet may be
kindled from sparks falling from fiery heavenly bodies or from a
thunderbolt"; and, again, that the thick, fatty, sticky quality of the
comet holds its tail in shape, and that, so far are comets from having
their paths beyond the moon's orbit, as Tycho Brahe and Kepler thought,
he himself in 1618 saw "a bearded comet so near the summit of Vesuvius
that it almost seemed to touch it." As to sorts and qualities of
comets, he accepts Aristotle's view, and divides them into bearded and
tailed.(106) He goes on into long disquisitions upon their colours,
forms, and motions. Under this latter head he again plunges deep into
a sea of metaphysical considerations, and does not reappear until he
brings up his compromise in the opinion that their movement is as yet
uncertain and not understood, but that, if we must account definitely
for it, we must say that it is effected by angels especially assigned to
this service by Divine Providence. But, while proposing this compromise
between science and theology as to the origin and movement of comets,
he will hear to none as regards their mission as "signs and wonders" and
presages of evil. He draws up a careful table of these evils, arranging
them in the following order: Drought, wind, earthquake, tempest, famine,
pestilence, war, and, to clinch the matter, declares that the comet
observed by him in 1618 brought not only war, famine, pestilence, and
earthquake, but also a general volcanic eruption, "which would have
destroyed Naples, had not the blood of the invincible martyr Januarius
withstood it."

     (106) Barbata et caudata.

It will be observed, even from this sketch, that, while the learned
Father Augustin thus comes infallibly to the mediaeval conclusion, he
does so very largely by scientific and essentially modern processes,
giving unwonted prominence to observation, and at times twisting
scientific observation into the strand with his metaphysics. The
observations and methods of his science are sometimes shrewd, sometimes
comical. Good examples of the latter sort are such as his observing that
the comet stood very near the summit of Vesuvius, and his reasoning
that its tail was kept in place by its stickiness. But observations and
reasonings of this sort are always the first homage paid by theology to
science as the end of their struggle approaches.(107)

     (107) See De Angelis, Lectiones Meteorologicae, Rome, 1669.

Equally striking is an example seen a little later in another part of
Europe; and it is the more noteworthy because Halley and Newton had
already fully established the modern scientific theory. Just at the
close of the seventeenth century the Jesuit Reinzer, professor at Linz,
put forth his Meteorologia Philosophico-Politica, in which all natural
phenomena received both a physical and a moral interpretation. It was
profusely and elaborately illustrated, and on account of its instructive
contents was in 1712 translated into German for the unlearned reader.
The comet receives, of course, great attention. "It appears," says
Reinzer, "only then in the heavens when the latter punish the earth, and
through it (the comet) not only predict but bring to pass all sorts of
calamity.... And, to that end, its tail serves for a rod, its hair for
weapons and arrows, its light for a threat, and its heat for a sign of
anger and vengeance." Its warnings are threefold: (1) "Comets, generated
in the air, betoken NATURALLY drought, wind, earthquake, famine, and
pestilence." (2) "Comets can indirectly, in view of their material,
betoken wars, tumults, and the death of princes; for, being hot and
dry, they bring the moistnesses (Feuchtigkeiten) in the human body to
an extraordinary heat and dryness, increasing the gall; and, since the
emotions depend on the temperament and condition of the body, men are
through this change driven to violent deeds, quarrels, disputes, and
finally to arms: especially is this the result with princes, who
are more delicate and also more arrogant than other men, and whose
moistnesses are more liable to inflammation of this sort, inasmuch as
they live in luxury and seldom restrain themselves from those things
which in such a dry state of the heavens are especially injurious." (3)
"All comets, whatever prophetic significance they may have naturally
in and of themselves, are yet principally, according to the Divine
pleasure, heralds of the death of great princes, of war, and of other
such great calamities; and this is known and proved, first of all, from
the words of Christ himself: 'Nation shall rise against nation, and
kingdom against kingdom; and great earthquakes shall be in divers
places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs
shall there be from heaven.'"(108)

     (108) See Reinzer, Meteorologica Philosophico-Politica (edition of
Augsburg, 1712), pp. 101-103.

While such pains was taken to keep the more highly educated classes
in the "paths of scriptural science and sound learning;" at the
universities, equal efforts were made to preserve the cometary orthodoxy
of the people at large by means of the pulpits. Out of the mass of
sermons for this purpose which were widely circulated I will select just
two as typical, and they are worthy of careful study as showing some
special dangers of applying theological methods to scientific facts.
In the second half of the sixteenth century the recognised capital of
orthodox Lutheranism was Magdeburg, and in the region tributary to this
metropolis no Church official held a more prominent station than the
"Superintendent," or Lutheran bishop, of the neighbouring Altmark. It
was this dignitary, Andreas Celichius by name, who at Magdeburg, in
1578, gave to the press his Theological Reminder of the New Comet.
After deprecating as blasphemous the attempt of Aristotle to explain the
phenomenon otherwise than as a supernatural warning from God to sinful
man, he assures his hearers that "whoever would know the comet's real
source and nature must not merely gape and stare at the scientific
theory that it is an earthy, greasy, tough, and sticky vapour and mist,
rising into the upper air and set ablaze by the celestial heat." Far
more important for them is it to know what this vapour is. It is really,
in the opinion of Celichius, nothing more or less than "the thick smoke
of human sins, rising every day, every hour, every moment, full of
stench and horror, before the face of God, and becoming gradually so
thick as to form a comet, with curled and plaited tresses, which at last
is kindled by the hot and fiery anger of the Supreme Heavenly Judge."
He adds that it is probably only through the prayers and tears of
Christ that this blazing monument of human depravity becomes visible to
mortals. In support of this theory, he urges the "coming up before God"
of the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah and of Nineveh, and especially
the words of the prophet regarding Babylon, "Her stench and rottenness
is come up before me." That the anger of God can produce the
conflagration without any intervention of Nature is proved from the
Psalms, "He sendeth out his word and melteth them." From the position
of the comet, its course, and the direction of its tail he augurs
especially the near approach of the judgment day, though it may also
betoken, as usual, famine, pestilence, and war. "Yet even in these
days," he mourns, "there are people reckless and giddy enough to pay
no heed to such celestial warnings, and these even cite in their own
defence the injunction of Jeremiah not to fear signs in the heavens."
This idea he explodes, and shows that good and orthodox Christians,
while not superstitious like the heathen, know well "that God is not
bound to his creation and the ordinary course of Nature, but must often,
especially in these last dregs of the world, resort to irregular means
to display his anger at human guilt."(109)

     (109) For Celichius, or Celich, see his own treatise, as above.

The other typical case occurred in the following century and in another
part of Germany. Conrad Dieterich was, during the first half of the
seventeenth century, a Lutheran ecclesiastic of the highest authority.
His ability as a theologian had made him Archdeacon of Marburg,
Professor of Philosophy and Director of Studies at the University of
Giessen, and "Superintendent," or Lutheran bishop, in southwestern
Germany. In the year 1620, on the second Sunday in Advent, in the great
Cathedral of Ulm, he developed the orthodox doctrine of comets in a
sermon, taking up the questions: 1. What are comets? 2. What do they
indicate? 3. What have we to do with their significance? This sermon
marks an epoch. Delivered in that stronghold of German Protestantism
and by a prelate of the highest standing, it was immediately printed,
prefaced by three laudatory poems from different men of note, and sent
forth to drive back the scientific, or, as it was called, the "godless,"
view of comets. The preface shows that Dieterich was sincerely alarmed
by the tendency to regard comets as natural appearances. His text was
taken from the twenty-fifth verse of the twenty-first chapter of St.
Luke: "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the
stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea
and the waves roaring." As to what comets are, he cites a multitude of
philosophers, and, finding that they differ among themselves, he uses a
form of argument not uncommon from that day to this, declaring that this
difference of opinion proves that there is no solution of the problem
save in revelation, and insisting that comets are "signs especially sent
by the Almighty to warn the earth." An additional proof of this he
finds in the forms of comets. One, he says, took the form of a trumpet;
another, of a spear; another of a goat; another, of a torch; another, of
a sword; another, of an arrow; another, of a sabre; still another, of a
bare arm. From these forms of comets he infers that we may divine their
purpose. As to their creation, he quotes John of Damascus and other
early Church authorities in behalf of the idea that each comet is a
star newly created at the Divine command, out of nothing, and that it
indicates the wrath of God. As to their purpose, having quoted largely
from the Bible and from Luther, he winds up by insisting that, as God
can make nothing in vain, comets must have some distinct object; then,
from Isaiah and Joel among the prophets, from Matthew, Mark, and
Luke among the evangelists, from Origen and John Chrysostom among the
fathers, from Luther and Melanchthon among the Reformers, he draws
various texts more or less conclusive to prove that comets indicate evil
and only evil; and he cites Luther's Advent sermon to the effect that,
though comets may arise in the course of Nature, they are still signs
of evil to mankind. In answer to the theory of sundry naturalists that
comets are made up of "a certain fiery, warm, sulphurous, saltpetery,
sticky fog," he declaims: "Our sins, our sins: they are the fiery heated
vapours, the thick, sticky, sulphurous clouds which rise from the
earth toward heaven before God." Throughout the sermon Dieterich pours
contempt over all men who simply investigate comets as natural objects,
calls special attention to a comet then in the heavens resembling a long
broom or bundle of rods, and declares that he and his hearers can only
consider it rightly "when we see standing before us our Lord God in
heaven as an angry father with a rod for his children." In answer to the
question what comets signify, he commits himself entirely to the idea
that they indicate the wrath of God, and therefore calamities of every
sort. Page after page is filled with the records of evils following
comets. Beginning with the creation of the world, he insists that
the first comet brought on the deluge of Noah, and cites a mass of
authorities, ranging from Moses and Isaiah to Albert the Great and
Melanchthon, in support of the view that comets precede earthquakes,
famines, wars, pestilences, and every form of evil. He makes some parade
of astronomical knowledge as to the greatness of the sun and moon, but
relapses soon into his old line of argument. Imploring his audience not
to be led away from the well-established belief of Christendom and the
principles of their fathers, he comes back to his old assertion, insists
that "our sins are the inflammable material of which comets are made,"
and winds up with a most earnest appeal to the Almighty to spare his

     (110) For Deiterich, see Ulmische Cometen-Predigt, von dem Cometen, so
nechst abgewischen 1618 Jahrs im Wintermonat erstenmahls in Schwaben
sehen lassen,... gehalten zu Ulm... durch Conrad Dieterich, Ulm, 1620.
For a life of the author, see article Dieterich in the Allgemeine
Deutsche Biographie. See also Wolf.

Similar efforts from the pulpit were provoked by the great comet of
1680. Typical among these was the effort in Switzerland of Pastor
Heinrich Erni, who, from the Cathedral of Zurich, sent a circular letter
to the clergy of that region showing the connection of the eleventh and
twelfth verses of the first chapter of Jeremiah with the comet, giving
notice that at his suggestion the authorities had proclaimed a solemn
fast, and exhorting the clergy to preach earnestly on the subject of
this warning.

Nor were the interpreters of the comet's message content with simple
prose. At the appearance of the comet of 1618, Grasser and Gross,
pastors and doctors of theology at Basle, put forth a collection
of doggerel rhymes to fasten the orthodox theory into the minds of
school-children and peasants. One of these may be translated:

"I am a Rod in God's right hand  threatening the German and foreign land."

Others for a similar purpose taught:

"Eight things there be a Comet brings, When it on high doth horrid
range: Wind, Famine, Plague, and Death to Kings, War, Earthquakes,
Floods, and Direful Change."

Great ingenuity was shown in meeting the advance of science, in the
universities and schools, with new texts of Scripture; and Stephen
Spleiss, Rector of the Gymnasium at Schaffhausen, got great credit by
teaching that in the vision of Jeremiah the "almond rod" was a tailed
comet, and the "seething pot" a bearded one.(111)

     (111) For Erni, see Wolf, Gesch. d. Astronomie, p. 239. For Grassner and
Gross, see their Christenliches Bedenken... von dem erschrockenlichen
Cometen, etc., Zurich, 1664. For Spleiss, see Beilauftiger Bericht von
dem jetzigen Cometsternen, etc., schaffhausen, 1664.

It can be easily understood that such authoritative utterances as that
of Dieterich must have produced a great effect throughout Protestant
Christendom; and in due time we see their working in New England. That
same tendency to provincialism, which, save at rare intervals, has been
the bane of Massachusetts thought from that day to this, appeared; and
in 1664 we find Samuel Danforth arguing from the Bible that "comets
are portentous signals of great and notable changes," and arguing from
history that they "have been many times heralds of wrath to a secure and
impenitent world." He cites especially the comet of 1652, which appeared
just before Mr. Cotton's sickness and disappeared after his death.
Morton also, in his Memorial recording the death of John Putnam, alludes
to the comet of 1662 as "a very signal testimony that God had then
removed a bright star and a shining light out of the heaven of his
Church here into celestial glory above." Again he speaks of another
comet, insisting that "it was no fiery meteor caused by exhalation, but
it was sent immediately by God to awaken the secure world," and goes
on to show how in that year "it pleased God to smite the fruits of the
earth--namely, the wheat in special--with blasting and mildew, whereby
much of it was spoiled and became profitable for nothing, and much of
it worth little, being light and empty. This was looked upon by the
judicious and conscientious of the land as a speaking providence against
the unthankfulness of many,... as also against voluptuousness and abuse
of the good creatures of God by licentiousness in drinking and fashions
in apparel, for the obtaining whereof a great part of the principal
grain was oftentimes unnecessarily expended."

But in 1680 a stronger than either of these seized upon the doctrine
and wielded it with power. Increase Mather, so open always to ideas
from Europe, and always so powerful for good or evil in the cloonies,
preached his sermon on "Heaven's Alarm to the World,... wherein is shown
that fearful sights and signs in the heavens are the presages of great
calamities at hand." The texts were taken from the book of Revelation:
"And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven,
burning, as it were a lamp," and "Behold, the third woe cometh quickly."
In this, as in various other sermons, he supports the theological
cometary theory fully. He insists that "we are fallen into the dregs
of time," and that the day of judgment is evidently approaching. He
explains away the words of Jeremiah--"Be not dismayed at signs in the
heavens"--and shows that comets have been forerunners of nearly every
form of evil. Having done full justice to evils thus presaged in
scriptural times, he begins a similar display in modern history by
citing blazing stars which foretold the invasions of Goths, Huns,
Saracens, and Turks, and warns gainsayers by citing the example of
Vespasian, who, after ridiculing a comet, soon died. The general shape
and appearance of comets, he thinks, betoken their purpose, and he cites
Tertullian to prove them "God's sharp razors on mankind, whereby he doth
poll, and his scythe whereby he doth shear down multitudes of sinful
creatures." At last, rising to a fearful height, he declares: "For the
Lord hath fired his beacon in the heavens among the stars of God there;
the fearful sight is not yet out of sight. The warning piece of heaven
is going off. Now, then, if the Lord discharge his murdering pieces from
on high, and men be found in their sins unfit for death, their blood
shall be upon them." And again, in an agony of supplication, he cries
out: "Do we see the sword blazing over us? Let it put us upon crying
to God, that the judgment be diverted and not return upon us again so
speedily.... Doth God threaten our very heavens? O pray unto him, that he
would not take away stars and send comets to succeed them."(112)

     (112) For Danforth, see his Astronomical Descritption of the Late Comet
or Blazing Star, Together with a Brief Theological Application Thereof,
1664. For Morton, see his Memorial, pp. 251, 252,; also 309, 310. Texts
cited by Mather were Rev., viii, 10, and xi, 14.

Two years later, in August, 1682, he followed this with another sermon
on "The Latter Sign," "wherein is showed that the voice of God in
signal providences, especially when repeated and iterated, ought to be
hearkened unto." Here, too, of course, the comet comes in for a large
share of attention. But his tone is less sure: even in the midst of all
his arguments appears an evident misgiving. The thoughts of Newton in
science and Bayle in philosophy were evidently tending to accomplish
the prophecy of Seneca. Mather's alarm at this is clear. His natural
tendency is to uphold the idea that a comet is simply a fire-ball flung
from the hand of an avenging God at a guilty world, but he evidently
feels obliged to yield something to the scientific spirit; hence, in the
Discourse concerning Comets, published in 1683, he declares: "There are
those who think that, inasmuch as comets may be supposed to proceed from
natural causes, there is no speaking voice of Heaven in them beyond what
is to be said of all other works of God. But certain it is that many
things which may happen according to the course of Nature are portentous
signs of Divine anger and prognostics of great evils hastening upon the
world." He then notices the eclipse of August, 1672, and adds: "That
year the college was eclipsed by the death of the learned president
there, worthy Mr. Chauncey and two colonies--namely, Massachusetts and
Plymouth--by the death of two governors, who died within a twelvemonth
after.... Shall, then, such mighty works of God as comets are be
insignificant things?"(113)

     (113) Increase Mather's Heaven's Alarm to the World was first printed
at Boston in 1681, but was reprinted in 1682, and was appended, with the
sermon on The Latter Sign, to the Discourse on Comets (Boston, 1683).


Vigorous as Mather's argument is, we see scepticism regarding "signs"
continuing to invade the public mind; and, in spite of his threatenings,
about twenty years after we find a remarkable evidence of this progress
in the fact that this scepticism has seized upon no less a personage
than that colossus of orthodoxy, his thrice illustrious son, Cotton
Mather himself; and him we find, in 1726, despite the arguments of his
father, declaring in his Manuductio: "Perhaps there may be some need for
me to caution you against being dismayed at the signs of the heavens,
or having any superstitious fancies upon eclipses and the like.... I am
willing that you be apprehensive of nothing portentous in blazing stars.
For my part, I know not whether all our worlds, and even the sun itself,
may not fare the better for them."(114)

     (114) For Cotton Mather, see the Manuductio, pp. 54, 55.

Curiously enough, for this scientific scepticism in Cotton Mather there
was a cause identical with that which had developed superstition in the
mind of his father. The same provincial tendency to receive implicitly
any new European fashion in thinking or speech wrought upon both,
plunging one into superstition and drawing the other out of it.

European thought, which New England followed, had at last broken away in
great measure from the theological view of comets as signs and wonders.
The germ of this emancipating influence was mainly in the great
utterance of Seneca; and we find in nearly every century some evidence
that this germ was still alive. This life became more and more evident
after the Reformation period, even though theologians in every Church
did their best to destroy it. The first series of attacks on the old
theological doctrine were mainly founded in philosophic reasoning. As
early as the first half of the sixteenth century we hear Julius Caesar
Scaliger protesting against the cometary superstition as "ridiculous
folly."(115) Of more real importance was the treatise of Blaise de
Vigenere, published at Paris in 1578. In this little book various
statements regarding comets as signs of wrath or causes of evils are
given, and then followed by a very gentle and quiet discussion, usually
tending to develop that healthful scepticism which is the parent of
investigation. A fair example of his mode of treating the subject is
seen in his dealing with a bit of "sacred science." This was simply
that "comets menace princes and kings with death because they live more
delicately than other people; and, therefore, the air thickened and
corrupted by a comet would be naturally more injurious to them than to
common folk who live on coarser food." To this De Vigenere answers that
there are very many persons who live on food as delicate as that enjoyed
by princes and kings, and yet receive no harm from comets. He then goes
on to show that many of the greatest monarchs in history have met death
without any comet to herald it.

     (115) For Scaliger, see p. 20 of Dudith's book, cited below.

In the same year thoughtful scepticism of a similar sort found an
advocate in another part of Europe. Thomas Erastus, the learned and
devout professor of medicine at Heidelberg, put forth a letter dealing
in the plainest terms with the superstition. He argued especially that
there could be no natural connection between the comet and pestilence,
since the burning of an exhalation must tend to purify rather than to
infect the air. In the following year the eloquent Hungarian divine
Dudith published a letter in which the theological theory was handled
even more shrewdly, for he argued that, if comets were caused by the
sins of mortals, they would never be absent from the sky. But these
utterances were for the time brushed aside by the theological leaders of
thought as shallow or impious.

In the seventeenth century able arguments against the superstition, on
general grounds, began to be multiplied. In Holland, Balthasar Bekker
opposed this, as he opposed the witchcraft delusion, on general
philosophic grounds; and Lubienitzky wrote in a compromising spirit to
prove that comets were as often followed by good as by evil events. In
France, Pierre Petit, formerly geographer of Louis XIII, and an intimate
friend of Descartes, addressed to the young Louis XIV a vehement protest
against the superstition, basing his arguments not on astronomy, but on
common sense. A very effective part of the little treatise was devoted
to answering the authority of the fathers of the early Church. To do
this, he simply reminded his readers that St. Augustine and St. John
Damascenus had also opposed the doctrine of the antipodes. The book
did good service in France, and was translated in Germany a few years

     (116) For Blaise de Vigenere, see his Traite des Cometes, Paris, 1578.
For Dudith, see his De Cometarum Dignificatione, Basle, 1579, to which
the letter of Erastus is appended. Bekker's views may be found in
his Onderzoek van de Betekening der Cometen, Leeuwarden, 1683. For
Lubienitsky's, see his Theatrum Cometicum, Amsterdam, 1667, in part
ii: Historia Cometarum, preface "to the reader." For Petit, see his
Dissertation sur la Nature des Cometes, Paris, 1665 (German translation,
Dresden and Zittau, 1681).

All these were denounced as infidels and heretics, yet none the less did
they set men at thinking, and prepare the way for a far greater genius;
for toward the end of the same century the philosophic attack was taken
up by Pierre Bayle, and in the whole series of philosophic champions he
is chief. While professor at the University of Sedan he had observed the
alarm caused by the comet of 1680, and he now brought all his reasoning
powers to bear upon it. Thoughts deep and witty he poured out in volume
after volume. Catholics and Protestants were alike scandalized. Catholic
France spurned him, and Jurieu, the great Reformed divine, called his
cometary views "atheism," and tried hard to have Protestant Holland
condemn him. Though Bayle did not touch immediately the mass of mankind,
he wrought with power upon men who gave themselves the trouble of
thinking. It was indeed unfortunate for the Church that theologians,
instead of taking the initiative in this matter, left it to Bayle; for,
in tearing down the pretended scriptural doctrine of comets, he tore
down much else: of all men in his time, no one so thoroughly prepared
the way for Voltaire.

Bayle's whole argument is rooted in the prophecy of Seneca. He declares:
"Comets are bodies subject to the ordinary law of Nature, and not
prodigies amenable to no law." He shows historically that there is no
reason to regard comets as portents of earthly evils. As to the fact
that such evils occur after the passage of comets across the sky, he
compares the person believing that comets cause these evils to a woman
looking out of a window into a Paris street and believing that the
carriages pass because she looks out. As to the accomplishment of some
predictions, he cites the shrewd saying of Henry IV, to the effect that
"the public will remember one prediction that comes true better than all
the rest that have proved false." Finally, he sums up by saying: "The
more we study man, the more does it appear that pride is his ruling
passion, and that he affects grandeur even in his misery. Mean and
perishable creature that he is, he has been able to persuade men that he
can not die without disturbing the whole course of Nature and obliging
the heavens to put themselves to fresh expense. In order to light his
funeral pomp. Foolish and ridiculous vanity! If we had a just idea of
the universe, we should soon comprehend that the death or birth of a
prince is too insignificant a matter to stir the heavens."(117)

     (117) Regarding Bayle, see Madler, Himmelskunde, vol. i, p. 327.
For special points of interest in Bayle's arguments, see his Pensees
Diverses sur les Cometes, Amsterdam, 1749, pp. 79, 102, 134, 206. For
the response to Jurieu, see the continuation des Pensees, Rotterdam,
1705; also Champion, p. 164, Lecky, ubi supra, and Guillemin, pp. 29,

This great philosophic champion of right reason was followed by a
literary champion hardly less famous; for Fontenelle now gave to the
French theatre his play of The Comet, and a point of capital importance
in France was made by rendering the army of ignorance ridiculous.(118)

     (118) See Fontenelle, cited by Champion, p. 167.

Such was the line of philosophic and literary attack, as developed from
Scaliger to Fontenelle. But beneath and in the midst of all of it, from
first to last, giving firmness, strength, and new sources of vitality to
it, was the steady development of scientific effort; and to the
series of great men who patiently wrought and thought out the truth by
scientific methods through all these centuries belong the honours of the

For generations men in various parts of the world had been making
careful observations on these strange bodies. As far back as the time
when Luther and Melanchthon and Zwingli were plunged into alarm by
various comets from 1531 to 1539, Peter Apian kept his head sufficiently
cool to make scientific notes of their paths through the heavens. A
little later, when the great comet of 1556 scared popes, emperors, and
reformers alike, such men as Fabricius at Vienna and Heller at Nuremberg
quietly observed its path. In vain did men like Dieterich and Heerbrand
and Celich from various parts of Germany denounce such observations and
investigations as impious; they were steadily continued, and in 1577
came the first which led to the distinct foundation of the modern
doctrine. In that year appeared a comet which again plunged Europe into
alarm. In every European country this alarm was strong, but in Germany
strongest of all. The churches were filled with terror-stricken
multitudes. Celich preaching at Magdeburg was echoed by Heerbrand
preaching at Tubingen, and both these from thousands of other pulpits,
Catholic and Protestant, throughout Europe. In the midst of all this
din and outcry a few men quietly but steadily observed the monster; and
Tycho Brahe announced, as the result, that its path lay farther from
the earth than the orbit of the moon. Another great astronomical genius,
Kepler, confirmed this. This distinct beginning of the new doctrine was
bitterly opposed by theologians; they denounced it as one of the evil
results of that scientific meddling with the designs of Providence
against which they had so long declaimed in pulpits and professors'
chairs; they even brought forward some astronomers ambitious or
wrong-headed enough to testify that Tycho and Kepler were in error.(119)

     (119) See Madler, Himmelskunde, vol. i, pp. 181, 197; also Wolf, Gesch.
d. Astronomie, and Janssen, Gesch. d. deutschen Volkes, vol. v, p. 350.
Heerbrand's sermon, cited above, is a good specimen of the theologic
attitude. See Pingre, vol. ii, p. 81.

Nothing could be more natural than such opposition; for this simple
announcement by Tycho Brahe began a new era. It shook the very
foundation of cometary superstition. The Aristotelian view, developed by
the theologians, was that what lies within the moon's orbit appertains
to the earth and is essentially transitory and evil, while what lies
beyond it belongs to the heavens and is permanent, regular, and pure.
Tycho Brahe and Kepler, therefore, having by means of scientific
observation and thought taken comets out of the category of meteors and
appearances in the neighbourhood of the earth, and placed them among the
heavenly bodies, dealt a blow at the very foundations of the theological
argument, and gave a great impulse to the idea that comets are
themselves heavenly bodies moving regularly and in obedience to law.


Attempts were now made to compromise. It was declared that, while
some comets were doubtless supralunar, some must be sublunar. But this
admission was no less fatal on another account. During many centuries
the theory favoured by the Church had been, as we have seen, that the
earth was surrounded by hollow spheres, concentric and transparent,
forming a number of glassy strata incasing one another "like the
different coatings of an onion," and that each of these in its movement
about the earth carries one or more of the heavenly bodies. Some
maintained that these spheres were crystal; but Lactantius, and with him
various fathers of the Church, spoke of the heavenly vault as made of
ice. Now, the admission that comets could move beyond the moon was fatal
to this theory, for it sent them crashing through these spheres of
ice or crystal, and therefore through the whole sacred fabric of the
Ptolemaic theory.(120)

     (120) For these features in cometary theory, see Pingre, vol. i, p. 89;
also Humboldt, Cosmos (English translation, London, 1868), vol. iii, p.

Here we may pause for a moment to note one of the chief differences
between scientific and theological reasoning considered in themselves.
Kepler's main reasoning as to the existence of a law for cometary
movement was right; but his secondary reasoning, that comets move nearly
in straight lines, was wrong. His right reasoning was developed by
Gassendi in France, by Borelli in Italy, by Hevel and Doerfel in
Germany, by Eysat and Bernouilli in Switzerland, by Percy and--most
important of all, as regards mathematical demonstration--by Newton
in England. The general theory, which was true, they accepted and
developed; the secondary theory, which was found untrue, they rejected;
and, as a result, both of what they thus accepted and of what they
rejected, was evolved the basis of the whole modern cometary theory.

Very different was this from the theological method. As a rule, when
there arises a thinker as great in theology as Kepler in science, the
whole mass of his conclusions ripens into a dogma. His disciples labour
not to test it, but to establish it; and while, in the Catholic Church,
it becomes a dogma to be believed or disbelieved under the penalty of
damnation, it becomes in the Protestant Church the basis for one more

Various astronomers laboured to develop the truth discovered by Tycho
and strengthened by Kepler. Cassini seemed likely to win for Italy the
glory of completing the great structure; but he was sadly fettered by
Church influences, and was obliged to leave most of the work to others.
Early among these was Hevel. He gave reasons for believing that comets
move in parabolic curves toward the sun. Then came a man who developed
this truth further--Samuel Doerfel; and it is a pleasure to note that
he was a clergyman. The comet of 1680, which set Erni in Switzerland,
Mather in New England, and so many others in all parts of the world
at declaiming, set Doerfel at thinking. Undismayed by the authority of
Origen and St. John Chrysostom, the arguments of Luther, Melanchthon,
and Zwingli, the outcries of Celich, Heerbrand, and Dieterich, he
pondered over the problem in his little Saxon parsonage, until in
1681 he set forth his proofs that comets are heavenly bodies moving in
parabolas of which the sun is the focus. Bernouilli arrived at the same
conclusion; and, finally, this great series of men and works was closed
by the greatest of all, when Newton, in 1686, having taken the data
furnished by the comet of 1680, demonstrated that comets are guided in
their movements by the same principle that controls the planets in their
orbits. Thus was completed the evolution of this new truth in science.

Yet we are not to suppose that these two great series of philosophical
and scientific victories cleared the field of all opponents. Declamation
and pretended demonstration of the old theologic view were still heard;
but the day of complete victory dawned when Halley, after most thorough
observation and calculation, recognised the comet of 1682 as one which
had already appeared at stated periods, and foretold its return in about
seventy-five years; and the battle was fully won when Clairaut, seconded
by Lalande and Mme. Lepaute, predicted distinctly the time when
the comet would arrive at its perihelion, and this prediction was
verified.(121) Then it was that a Roman heathen philosopher was proved
more infallible and more directly under Divine inspiration than a Roman
Christian pontiff; for the very comet which the traveller finds to-day
depicted on the Bayeux tapestry as portending destruction to Harold and
the Saxons at the Norman invasion of England, and which was regarded by
Pope Calixtus as portending evil to Christendom, was found six centuries
later to be, as Seneca had prophesied, a heavenly body obeying the great
laws of the universe, and coming at regular periods. Thenceforth the
whole ponderous enginery of this superstition, with its proof-texts
regarding "signs in the heavens," its theological reasoning to show
the moral necessity of cometary warnings, and its ecclesiastical
fulminations against the "atheism, godlessness, and infidelity" of
scientific investigation, was seen by all thinking men to be as weak
against the scientific method as Indian arrows against needle guns.
Copernicus, Galileo, Cassini, Doerfel, Newton, Halley, and Clairaut had
gained the victory.(122)

     (121) See Pingre, vol. i, p. 53; Grant, History of Physical Astronomy,
p. 305, etc., etc. For a curious partial anticipation by Hooke, in 1664,
of the great truth announced by Halley in 1682, see Pepy's Diary for
March 1, 1664. For excellent summaries of the whole work of Halley and
Clairaut and their forerunners and associates, see Pingre, Madler, Wolf,
Arago, et al.

     (122) In accordance with Halley's prophecy, the comet of 1682 has
returned in 1759 and 1835. See Madler, Guillemin, Watson, Grant,
Delambre, Proctor, article Astronomy in Encycl. Brit., and especially
for details, Wolf, pp. 407-412 and 701-722. For clear statement
regarding Doerfel, see Wolf, p. 411.

It is instructive to note, even after the main battle was lost, a
renewal of the attempt, always seen under like circumstances, to effect
a compromise, to establish a "safe science" on grounds pseudo-scientific
and pseudo-theologic. Luther, with his strong common sense, had
foreshadowed this; Kepler had expressed a willingness to accept it.
It was insisted that comets might be heavenly bodies moving in regular
orbits, and even obedient to law, and yet be sent as "signs in the
heavens." Many good men clung longingly to this phase of the old belief,
and in 1770 Semler, professor at Halle, tried to satisfy both sides. He
insisted that, while from a scientific point of view comets could not
exercise any physical influence upon the world, yet from a religious
point of view they could exercise a moral influence as reminders of the
Just Judge of the Universe.

So hard was it for good men to give up the doctrine of "signs in the
heavens," seemingly based upon Scripture and exercising such a healthful
moral tendency! As is always the case after such a defeat, these
votaries of "sacred science" exerted the greatest ingenuity in devising
statements and arguments to avert the new doctrine. Within our own
century the great Catholic champion, Joseph de Maistre, echoed these in
declaring his belief that comets are special warnings of evil. So, too,
in Protestant England, in 1818, the Gentleman's Magazine stated that
under the malign influence of a recent comet "flies became blind and
died early in the season," and "the wife of a London shoemaker had four
children at a birth." And even as late as 1829 Mr. Forster, an English
physician, published a work to prove that comets produce hot summers,
cold winters, epidemics, earthquakes, clouds of midges and locusts, and
nearly every calamity conceivable. He bore especially upon the fact that
the comet of 1665 was coincident with the plague in London, apparently
forgetting that the other great cities of England and the Continent were
not thus visited; and, in a climax, announces the fact that the comet of
1663 "made all the cats in Westphalia sick."

There still lingered one little cloud-patch of superstition, arising
mainly from the supposed fact that comets had really been followed by
a marked rise in temperature. Even this poor basis for the belief
that they might, after all, affect earthly affairs was swept away, and
science won here another victory; for Arago, by thermometric records
carefully kept at Paris from 1735 to 1781, proved that comets had
produced no effect upon temperature. Among multitudes of similar
examples he showed that, in some years when several comets appeared, the
temperature was lower than in other years when few or none appeared. In
1737 there were two comets, and the weather was cool; in 1785 there was
no comet, and the weather was hot; through the whole fifty years it was
shown that comets were sometimes followed by hot weather, sometimes
by cool, and that no rule was deducible. The victory of science was
complete at every point.(123)

     (123) For Forster, see his Illustrations of the Atmospherical Origin of
Epidemic Diseases, Chelmsford, 1829, cited by Arago; also in Quarterly
Review for April, 1835. For the writings of several on both sides, and
especially those who sought to save, as far as possible, the sacred
theory of comets, see Madler, vol. ii, p. 384 et seq., and Wolf, p. 186.

But in this history there was one little exhibition so curious as to be
worthy of notice, though its permanent effect upon thought was small.
Whiston and Burnet, so devoted to what they considered sacred science,
had determined that in some way comets must be instruments of Divine
wrath. One of them maintained that the deluge was caused by the tail of
a comet striking the earth; the other put forth the theory that comets
are places of punishment for the damned--in fact, "flying hells." The
theories of Whiston and Burnet found wide acceptance also in Germany,
mainly through the all-powerful mediation of Gottsched, so long, from
his professor's chair at Leipsic, the dictator of orthodox thought,
who not only wrote a brief tractate of his own upon the subject, but
furnished a voluminous historical introduction to the more elaborate
treatise of Heyn. In this book, which appeared at Leipsic in 1742, the
agency of comets in the creation, the flood, and the final destruction
of the world is fully proved. Both these theories were, however, soon

Perhaps the more interesting of them can best be met by another, which,
if not fully established, appears much better based--namely, that in
1868 the earth passed directly through the tail of a comet, with
no deluge, no sound of any wailings of the damned, with but slight
appearances here and there, only to be detected by the keen sight of the
meteorological or astronomical observer.

In our own country superstitious ideas regarding comets continued to
have some little currency; but their life was short. The tendency shown
by Cotton Mather, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, toward
acknowledging the victory of science, was completed by the utterances
of Winthrop, professor at Harvard, who in 1759 published two lectures
on comets, in which he simply and clearly revealed the truth, never
scoffing, but reasoning quietly and reverently. In one passage he says:
"To be thrown into a panic whenever a comet appears, on account of the
ill effects which some few of them might possibly produce, if they were
not under proper direction, betrays a weakness unbecoming a reasonable

A happy influence in this respect was exercised on both continents by
John Wesley. Tenaciously as he had held to the supposed scriptural view
in so many other matters of science, in this he allowed his reason
to prevail, accepted the demonstrations of Halley, and gloried in

     (124) For Heyn, see his Versuch einer Betrachtung uber die cometun, die
Sundfluth und das Vorspeil des jungsten Gerichts, Leipsic, 1742. A Latin
version, of the same year, bears the title, Specimen Cometologiae Sacre.
For the theory that the earth encountered the tail of a comet, see
Guillemin and Watson. For survival of the old idea in America, see a
Sermon of Israel Loring, of Sudbury, published in 1722. For Prof.
J. Winthrop, see his Comets. For Wesley, see his Natural Philosophy,
London, 1784, vol. iii, p. 303.

The victory was indeed complete. Happily, none of the fears expressed by
Conrad Dieterich and Increase Mather were realized. No catastrophe has
ensued either to religion or to morals. In the realm of religion the
Psalms of David remain no less beautiful, the great utterances of the
Hebrew prophets no less powerful; the Sermon on the Mount, "the first
commandment, and the second, which is like unto it," the definition
of "pure religion and undefiled" by St. James, appeal no less to
the deepest things in the human heart. In the realm of morals, too,
serviceable as the idea of firebrands thrown by the right hand of
an avenging God to scare a naughty world might seem, any competent
historian must find that the destruction of the old theological cometary
theory was followed by moral improvement rather than by deterioration.
We have but to compare the general moral tone of society to-day,
wretchedly imperfect as it is, with that existing in the time when this
superstition had its strongest hold. We have only to compare the court
of Henry VIII with the court of Victoria, the reign of the later Valois
and earlier Bourbon princes with the present French Republic, the period
of the Medici and Sforzas and Borgias with the period of Leo XIII and
Humbert, the monstrous wickedness of the Thirty Years' War with the
ennobling patriotism of the Franco-Prussian struggle, and the despotism
of the miserable German princelings of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries with the reign of the Emperor William. The gain is not simply
that mankind has arrived at a clearer conception of law in the universe;
not merely that thinking men see more clearly that we are part of a
system not requiring constant patching and arbitrary interference; but
perhaps best of all is the fact that science has cleared away one more
series of those dogmas which tend to debase rather than to develop man's
whole moral and religious nature. In this emancipation from terror and
fanaticism, as in so many other results of scientific thinking, we have
a proof of the inspiration of those great words, "THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE



Among the philosophers of Greece we find, even at an early period, germs
of geological truth, and, what is of vast importance, an atmosphere
in which such germs could grow. These germs were transmitted to Roman
thought; an atmosphere of tolerance continued; there was nothing which
forbade unfettered reasoning regarding either the earth's strata or
the remains of former life found in them, and under the Roman Empire a
period of fruitful observation seemed sure to begin.

But, as Christianity took control of the world, there came a great
change. The earliest attitude of the Church toward geology and its
kindred sciences was indifferent, and even contemptuous. According to
the prevailing belief, the earth was a "fallen world," and was soon
to be destroyed. Why, then, should it be studied? Why, indeed, give a
thought to it? The scorn which Lactantius and St. Augustine had cast
upon the study of astronomy was extended largely to other sciences.

     (125) For a compact and admirable statement as to the dawn of geological
conceptions in Greece and Rome, see Mr. Lester Ward's essay on
paleobotany in the Fifth Annual Report of the United States Geological
Survey, for 1883-'84. As to the reasons why Greek philosophers did
comparatively so little for geology, see D'Archiac, Geologie, p. 18. For
the contempt felt by Lactantius and St. Augustine toward astronomical
science, see foregoing chapters on Astronomy and Geography.

But the germs of scientific knowledge and thought developed in the
ancient world could be entirely smothered neither by eloquence nor by
logic; some little scientific observation must be allowed, though all
close reasoning upon it was fettered by theology. Thus it was that St.
Jerome insisted that the broken and twisted crust of the earth exhibits
the wrath of God against sin, and Tertullian asserted that fossils
resulted from the flood of Noah.

To keep all such observation and reasoning within orthodox limits, St.
Augustine, about the beginning of the fifth century, began an effort to
develop from these germs a growth in science which should be sacred and
safe. With this intent he prepared his great commentary on the work of
creation, as depicted in Genesis, besides dwelling upon the subject in
other writings. Once engaged in this work, he gave himself to it more
earnestly than any other of the earlier fathers ever did; but his vast
powers of research and thought were not directed to actual observation
or reasoning upon observation. The keynote of his whole method is seen
in his famous phrase, "Nothing is to be accepted save on the authority
of Scripture, since greater is that authority than all the powers of
the human mind." All his thought was given to studying the letter of
the sacred text, and to making it explain natural phenomena by methods
purely theological.(126)

     (126) For citations and authorities on these points, see the chapter on

Among the many questions he then raised and discussed may be mentioned
such as these: "What caused the creation of the stars on the fourth
day?" "Were beasts of prey and venomous animals created before, or
after, the fall of Adam? If before, how can their creation be reconciled
with God's goodness; if afterward, how can their creation be reconciled
to the letter of God's Word?" "Why were only beasts and birds brought
before Adam to be named, and not fishes and marine animals?" "Why did
the Creator not say, 'Be fruitful and multiply,' to plants as well as to

     (127) See Augustine, De Genesi, ii, 13, 15, et seq.; ix, 12 et seq. For
the reference to St. Jerome, see Shields, Final Philosophy, p. 119; also
Leyell, Introduction to Geology, vol. i, chap. ii.

Sundry answers to these and similar questions formed the main
contributions of the greatest of the Latin fathers to the scientific
knowledge of the world, after a most thorough study of the biblical text
and a most profound application of theological reasoning. The results
of these contributions were most important. In this, as in so many
other fields, Augustine gave direction to the main current of thought in
western Europe, Catholic and Protestant, for nearly thirteen centuries.

In the ages that succeeded, the vast majority of prominent scholars
followed him implicitly. Even so strong a man as Pope Gregory the Great
yielded to his influence, and such leaders of thought as St. Isidore,
in the seventh century, and the Venerable Bede, in the eighth, planting
themselves upon Augustine's premises, only ventured timidly to extend
their conclusions upon lines he had laid down.

In his great work on Etymologies, Isidore took up Augustine's attempt to
bring the creation into satisfactory relations with the book of Genesis,
and, as to fossil remains, he, like Tertullian, thought that they
resulted from the Flood of Noah. In the following century Bede developed
the same orthodox traditions.(128)

     (128) For Isidore, see the Etymologiae, xi, 4, xiii, 22. For Bede, see
the Hexaemeron, i, ii, in Migne, tome xci.

The best guess, in a geological sense, among the followers of St.
Augustine was made by an Irish monkish scholar, who, in order to
diminish the difficulty arising from the distribution of animals,
especially in view of the fact that the same animals are found in
Ireland as in England, held that various lands now separated were once
connected. But, alas! the exigencies of theology forced him to place
their separation later than the Flood. Happily for him, such facts were
not yet known as that the kangaroo is found only on an island in
the South Pacific, and must therefore, according to his theory, have
migrated thither with all his progeny, and along a causeway so
curiously constructed that none of the beasts of prey, who were his
fellow-voyagers in the ark, could follow him.

These general lines of thought upon geology and its kindred science of
zoology were followed by St. Thomas Aquinas and by the whole body
of medieval theologians, so far as they gave any attention to such

The next development of geology, mainly under Church guidance, was by
means of the scholastic theology. Phrase-making was substituted for
investigation. Without the Church and within it wonderful contributions
were thus made. In the eleventh century Avicenna accounted for the
fossils by suggesting a "stone-making force";(129) in the thirteenth,
Albert the Great attributed them to a "formative quality;"(130) in the
following centuries some philosophers ventured the idea that they grew
from seed; and the Aristotelian doctrine of spontaneous generation was
constantly used to prove that these stony fossils possessed powers of
reproduction like plants and animals.(131)

     (129) Vis lapidifica.

     (130) Virtus formativa.

     (131) See authorities given in Mr. Ward's assay, as above.

Still, at various times and places, germs implanted by Greek and Roman
thought were warmed into life. The Arabian schools seem to have been
less fettered by the letter of the Koran than the contemporary Christian
scholars by the letter of the Bible; and to Avicenna belongs the credit
of first announcing substantially the modern geological theory of
changes in the earth's surface.(132)

     (132) For Avicenna, see Lyell and D'Archiac.

The direct influence of the Reformation was at first unfavourable to
scientific progress, for nothing could be more at variance with any
scientific theory of the development of the universe than the ideas of
the Protestant leaders. That strict adherence to the text of Scripture
which made Luther and Melanchthon denounce the idea that the planets
revolve about the sun, was naturally extended to every other scientific
statement at variance with the sacred text. There is much reason to
believe that the fetters upon scientific thought were closer under the
strict interpretation of Scripture by the early Protestants than they
had been under the older Church. The dominant spirit among the Reformers
is shown by the declaration of Peter Martyr to the effect that, if
a wrong opinion should obtain regarding the creation as described in
Genesis, "all the promises of Christ fall into nothing, and all the life
of our religion would be lost."(133)

     (133) See his Commentary on Genesis, cited by Zoeckler, Geschichte der
Beziehungen zwischen Theologie und Naturwissenschaft, vol. i, p. 690.

In the times immediately succeeding the Reformation matters went from
bad to worse. Under Luther and Melanchthon there was some little freedom
of speculation, but under their successors there was none; to question
any interpretation of Luther came to be thought almost as wicked as
to question the literal interpretation of the Scriptures themselves.
Examples of this are seen in the struggles between those who held that
birds were created entirely from water and those who held that they were
created out of water and mud. In the city of Lubeck, the ancient centre
of the Hanseatic League, close at the beginning of the seventeenth
century, Pfeiffer, "General Superintendent" or bishop in those parts,
published his Pansophia Mosaica, calculated, as he believed, to beat
back science forever. In a long series of declamations he insisted that
in the strict text of Genesis alone is safety, that it contains all
wisdom and knowledge, human and divine. This being the case, who could
care to waste time on the study of material things and give thought to
the structure of the world? Above all, who, after such a proclamation
by such a ruler in the Lutheran Israel, would dare to talk of the "days"
mentioned in Genesis as "periods of time"; or of the "firmament" as not
meaning a solid vault over the universe; or of the "waters above the
heavens" as not contained in a vast cistern supported by the heavenly
vault; or of the "windows of heaven" as a figure of speech?(134)

     (134) For Pfeiffer, see Zoeckler, vol. i, pp. 688, 689.

In England the same spirit was shown even as late as the time of
Sir Matthew Hale. We find in his book on the Origination of Mankind,
published in 1685, the strictest devotion to a theory of creation based
upon the mere letter of Scripture, and a complete inability to draw
knowledge regarding the earth's origin and structure from any other

While the Lutheran, Calvinistic, and Anglican Reformers clung to literal
interpretations of the sacred books, and turned their faces away from
scientific investigation, it was among their contemporaries at the
revival of learning that there began to arise fruitful thought in this
field. Then it was, about the beginning of the sixteenth century, that
Leonardo da Vinci, as great a genius in science as in art, broached
the true idea as to the origin of fossil remains; and his compatriot,
Fracastoro, developed this on the modern lines of thought. Others in
other parts of Europe took up the idea, and, while mixing with it many
crudities, drew from it more and more truth. Toward the end of the
sixteenth century Bernard Palissy, in France, took hold of it with the
same genius which he showed in artistic creation; but, remarkable as
were his assertions of scientific realities, they could gain little
hearing. Theologians, philosophers, and even some scientific men of
value, under the sway of scholastic phrases, continued to insist upon
such explanations as that fossils were the product of "fatty matter set
into a fermentation by heat"; or of a "lapidific juice";(135) or of
a "seminal air";(136) or of a "tumultuous movement of terrestrial
exhalations"; and there was a prevailing belief that fossil remains, in
general, might be brought under the head of "sports of Nature," a pious
turn being given to this phrase by the suggestion that these "sports"
indicated some inscrutable purpose of the Almighty.

     (135) Succus lapidificus.

     (136) Aura seminalis.

This remained a leading orthodox mode of explanation in the Church,
Catholic and Protestant, for centuries.


But the scientific method could not be entirely hidden; and, near the
beginning of the seventeenth century, De Clave, Bitaud, and De Villon
revived it in France. Straightway the theological faculty of Paris
protested against the scientific doctrine as unscriptural, destroyed the
offending treatises, banished their authors from Paris, and forbade them
to live in towns or enter places of public resort.(137)

     (137) See Morley, Life of Palissy the Potter, vol. ii, p. 315 et seq.

The champions of science, though depressed for a time, quietly laboured
on, especially in Italy. Half a century later, Steno, a Dane, and
Scilla, an Italian, went still further in the right direction; and,
though they and their disciples took great pains to throw a tub to the
whale, in the shape of sundry vague concessions to the Genesis legends,
they developed geological truth more and more.

In France, the old theological spirit remained exceedingly powerful.
About the middle of the eighteenth century Buffon made another attempt
to state simple geological truths; but the theological faculty of the
Sorbonne dragged him at once from his high position, forced him to
recant ignominiously, and to print his recantation. It runs as follows:
"I declare that I had no intention to contradict the text of Scripture;
that I believe most firmly all therein related about the creation, both
as to order of time and matter of fact. I abandon everything in my book
respecting the formation of the earth, and generally all which may be
contrary to the narrative of Moses." This humiliating document reminds
us painfully of that forced upon Galileo a hundred years before.

It has been well observed by one of the greatest of modern authorities
that the doctrine which Buffon thus "abandoned" is as firmly established
as that of the earth's rotation upon its axis.(138) Yet one hundred
and fifty years were required to secure for it even a fair hearing; the
prevailing doctrine of the Church continued to be that "all things were
made at the beginning of the world," and that to say that stones
and fossils were made before or since "the beginning" is contrary
to Scripture. Again we find theological substitutes for scientific
explanation ripening into phrases more and more hollow--making fossils
"sports of Nature," or "mineral concretions," or "creations of plastic
force," or "models" made by the Creator before he had fully decided upon
the best manner of creating various beings.

     (138) See citation and remark in Lyell's Principles of Geology, chap.
iii, p. 57; also Huxley, Essays on Controverted Questions, p. 62.

Of this period, when theological substitutes for science were carrying
all before them, there still exists a monument commemorating at the
same time a farce and a tragedy. This is the work of Johann Beringer,
professor in the University of Wurzburg and private physician to
the Prince-Bishop--the treatise bearing the title Lithographiae
Wirceburgensis Specimen Primum, "illustrated with the marvellous
likenesses of two hundred figured or rather insectiform stones."
Beringer, for the greater glory of God, had previously committed
himself so completely to the theory that fossils are simply "stones of
a peculiar sort, hidden by the Author of Nature for his own
pleasure,"(139) that some of his students determined to give his faith
in that pious doctrine a thorough trial. They therefore prepared a
collection of sham fossils in baked clay, imitating not only plants,
reptiles, and fishes of every sort that their knowledge or imagination
could suggest, but even Hebrew and Syriac inscriptions, one of them
the name of the Almighty; and these they buried in a place where the
professor was wont to search for specimens. The joy of Beringer on
unearthing these proofs of the immediate agency of the finger of God in
creating fossils knew no bounds. At great cost he prepared this book,
whose twenty-two elaborate plates of facsimiles were forever to settle
the question in favour of theology and against science, and prefixed to
the work an allegorical title page, wherein not only the glory of his
own sovereign, but that of heaven itself, was pictured as based upon a
pyramid of these miraculous fossils. So robust was his faith that not
even a premature exposure of the fraud could dissuade him from the
publication of his book. Dismissing in one contemptuous chapter this
exposure as a slander by his rivals, he appealed to the learned world.
But the shout of laughter that welcomed the work soon convinced even its
author. In vain did he try to suppress it; and, according to tradition,
having wasted his fortune in vain attempts to buy up all the copies of
it, and being taunted by the rivals whom he had thought to overwhelm, he
died of chagrin. Even death did not end his misfortunes. The copies
of the first edition having been sold by a graceless descendant to a
Leipsic bookseller, a second edition was brought out under a new title,
and this, too, is now much sought as a precious memorial of human

     (139) See Beringer's Lithographiae, etc., p. 91.

     (140) See Carus, Geschichte der Zoologie, Munich, 1872, p. 467, note,
and Reusch, Bibel und Natur, p. 197. A list of authorities upon this
episode, with the text of one of the epigrams circulated at poor
Beringer's expense, is given by Dr. Reuss in the Serapeum for 1852, p.
203. The book itself (the original impression) is in the White Library
at Cornell University. For Beringer himself, see especially the
encyclopedia of Ersch and Gruber, and the Allgemeine deutsche

But even this discomfiture did not end the idea which had caused
it, for, although some latitude was allowed among the various
theologico-scientific explanations, it was still held meritorious
to believe that all fossils were placed in the strata on one of the
creative days by the hand of the Almighty, and that this was done for
some mysterious purpose, probably for the trial of human faith.

Strange as it may at first seem, the theological war against a
scientific method in geology was waged more fiercely in Protestant
countries than in Catholic. The older Church had learned by her costly
mistakes, especially in the cases of Copernicus and Galileo, what
dangers to her claim of infallibility lay in meddling with a growing
science. In Italy, therefore, comparatively little opposition was made,
while England furnished the most bitter opponents to geology so long as
the controversy could be maintained, and the most active negotiators in
patching up a truce on the basis of a sham science afterward. The Church
of England did, indeed, produce some noble men, like Bishop Clayton
and John Mitchell, who stood firmly by the scientific method; but these
appear generally to have been overwhelmed by a chorus of churchmen and
dissenters, whose mixtures of theology and science, sometimes tragic in
their results and sometimes comic, are among the most instructive things
in modern history.(141)

     (141) For a comparison between the conduct of Italian and English
ecclesiastics as regards geology, see Lyell, Principles of Geology,
tenth English edition, vol. i, p. 33. For a philosophical statement of
reasons why the struggle was more bitter and the attempt at deceptive
compromises more absurd in England than elsewhere, see Maury,
L'Ancienne Academie des Sciences, second edition, p. 152. For very
frank confessions of the reasons why the Catholic Church has become
more careful in her dealings with science, see Roberts, The Pontifical
Decrees against the Earth's Movement, London, 1885, especially pp. 94
and 132, 133, and St. George Mivart's article in the Nineteenth Century
for July 1885. The first of these gentlemen, it must not be forgotten,
is a Roman Catholic clergyman and the second an eminent layman of the
same Church, and both admit that it was the Pope, speaking ex cathedra,
who erred in the Galileo case; but their explanation is that God allowed
the Pope and Church to fall into this grievous error, which has cost so
dear, in order to show once and for all that the Church has no right to
decide questions in Science.

We have already noted that there are generally three periods or phases
in a theological attack upon any science. The first of these is marked
by the general use of scriptural texts and statements against the new
scientific doctrine; the third by attempts at compromise by means of
far-fetched reconciliations of textual statements with ascertained fact;
but the second or intermediate period between these two is frequently
marked by the pitting against science of some great doctrine in
theology. We saw this in astronomy, when Bellarmin and his followers
insisted that the scientific doctrine of the earth revolving about the
sun is contrary to the theological doctrine of the incarnation. So now
against geology it was urged that the scientific doctrine that fossils
represent animals which died before Adam contradicts the theological
doctrine of Adam's fall and the statement that "death entered the world
by sin."

In this second stage of the theological struggle with geology, England
was especially fruitful in champions of orthodoxy, first among whom may
be named Thomas Burnet. In the last quarter of the seventeenth century,
just at the time when Newton's great discovery was given to the
world, Burnet issued his Sacred Theory of the Earth. His position was
commanding; he was a royal chaplain and a cabinet officer. Planting
himself upon the famous text in the second epistle of Peter,(142) he
declares that the flood had destroyed the old and created a new world.
The Newtonian theory he refuses to accept. In his theory of the deluge
he lays less stress upon the "opening of the windows of heaven" than
upon the "breaking up of the fountains of the great deep." On this
latter point he comes forth with great strength. His theory is that
the earth is hollow, and filled with fluid like an egg. Mixing together
sundry texts from Genesis and from the second epistle of Peter, the
theological doctrine of the "Fall," an astronomical theory regarding the
ecliptic, and various notions adapted from Descartes, he insisted that,
before sin brought on the Deluge, the earth was of perfect mathematical
form, smooth and beautiful, "like an egg," with neither seas nor islands
nor valleys nor rocks, "with not a wrinkle, scar, or fracture," and that
all creation was equally perfect.

     (142) See II Peter iii, 6.

In the second book of his great work Burnet went still further. As in
his first book he had mixed his texts of Genesis and St. Peter with
Descartes, he now mixed the account of the Garden of Eden in Genesis
with heathen legends of the golden age, and concluded that before the
flood there was over the whole earth perpetual spring, disturbed by no
rain more severe than the falling of the dew.

In addition to his other grounds for denying the earlier existence of
the sea, he assigned the reason that, if there had been a sea before
the Deluge, sinners would have learned to build ships, and so, when the
Deluge set in, could have saved themselves.

The work was written with much power, and attracted universal attention.
It was translated into various languages, and called forth a multitude
of supporters and opponents in all parts of Europe. Strong men rose
against it, especially in England, and among them a few dignitaries of
the Church; but the Church generally hailed the work with joy. Addison
praised it in a Latin ode, and for nearly a century it exercised a
strong influence upon European feeling, and aided to plant more deeply
than ever the theological opinion that the earth as now existing
is merely a ruin; whereas, before sin brought on the Flood, it was
beautiful in its "egg-shaped form," and free from every imperfection.

A few years later came another writer of the highest standing--William
Whiston, professor at Cambridge, who in 1696 published his New Theory
of the Earth. Unlike Burnet, he endeavoured to avail himself of the
Newtonian idea, and brought in, to aid the geological catastrophe caused
by human sin, a comet, which broke open "the fountains of the great

But, far more important than either of these champions, there arose in
the eighteenth century, to aid in the subjection of science to theology,
three men of extraordinary power--John Wesley, Adam Clarke, and Richard
Watson. All three were men of striking intellectual gifts, lofty
character, and noble purpose, and the first-named one of the greatest
men in English history; yet we find them in geology hopelessly fettered
by the mere letter of Scripture, and by a temporary phase in theology.
As in regard to witchcraft and the doctrine of comets, so in regard to
geology, this theological view drew Wesley into enormous error.(143)
The great doctrine which Wesley, Watson, Clarke, and their compeers,
following St. Augustine, Bede, Peter Lombard, and a long line of the
greatest minds in the universal Church, thought it especially necessary
to uphold against geologists was, that death entered the world by
sin--by the first transgression of Adam and Eve. The extent to which the
supposed necessity of upholding this doctrine carried Wesley seems now
almost beyond belief. Basing his theology on the declaration that the
Almighty after creation found the earth and all created things "very
good," he declares, in his sermon on the Cause and Cure of Earthquakes,
that no one who believes the Scriptures can deny that "sin is the moral
cause of earthquakes, whatever their natural cause may be." Again,
he declares that earthquakes are the "effect of that curse which was
brought upon the earth by the original transgression." Bringing into
connection with Genesis the declaration of St. Paul that "the whole
creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now," he finds
additional scriptural proof that the earthquakes were the result of
Adam's fall. He declares, in his sermon on God's Approbation of His
Works, that "before the sin of Adam there were no agitations within
the bowels of the earth, no violent convulsions, no concussions of the
earth, no earthquakes, but all was unmoved as the pillars of heaven.
There were then no such things as eruptions of fires; no volcanoes or
burning mountains." Of course, a science which showed that earthquakes
had been in operation for ages before the appearance of man on the
planet, and which showed, also, that those very earthquakes which he
considered as curses resultant upon the Fall were really blessings,
producing the fissures in which we find today those mineral veins so
essential to modern civilization, was entirely beyond his comprehension.
He insists that earthquakes are "God's strange works of judgment, the
proper effect and punishment of sin."

     (143) For his statement that "the giving up of witchcraft is in effect
the giving up of the Bible," see Welsey's Journal, 1766-'68.

So, too, as to death and pain. In his sermon on the Fall of Man he
took the ground that death and pain entered the world by Adam's
transgression, insisting that the carnage now going on among animals is
the result of Adam's sin. Speaking of the birds, beasts, and insects, he
says that, before sin entered the world by Adam's fall, "none of these
attempted to devour or in any way hurt one another"; that "the spider
was then as harmless as the fly and did not then lie in wait for blood."
Here, again, Wesley arrayed his early followers against geology, which
reveals, in the fossil remains of carnivorous animals, pain and death
countless ages before the appearance of man. The half-digested fragments
of weaker animals within the fossilized bodies of the stronger have
destroyed all Wesley's arguments in behalf of his great theory.(144)

     (144) See Wesley's sermon on God's Approbation of His Works, parts xi
and xii.

Dr. Adam Clarke held similar views. He insisted that thorns and thistles
were given as a curse to human labour, on account of Adam's sin, and
appeared upon the earth for the first time after Adam's fall. So, too,
Richard Watson, the most prolific writer of the great evangelical reform
period, and the author of the Institutes, the standard theological
treatise on the evangelical side, says, in a chapter treating of the
Fall, and especially of the serpent which tempted Eve: "We have no
reason at all to believe that the animal had a serpentine form in any
mode or degree until his transformation. That he was then degraded to
a reptile, to go upon his belly, imports, on the contrary, an entire
alteration and loss of the original form." All that admirable adjustment
of the serpent to its environment which delights naturalists was to the
Wesleyan divine simply an evil result of the sin of Adam and Eve. Yet
here again geology was obliged to confront theology in revealing the
PYTHON in the Eocene, ages before man appeared.(145)

     (145) See Westminster Review, October, 1870, article on John Wesley's
Cosmogony, with citations from Wesley's Sermons, Watson's Institutes of
Theology, Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, etc.

The immediate results of such teaching by such men was to throw many who
would otherwise have resorted to observation and investigation back upon
scholastic methods. Again reappears the old system of solving the riddle
by phrases. In 1733, Dr. Theodore Arnold urged the theory of "models,"
and insisted that fossils result from "infinitesimal particles brought
together in the creation to form the outline of all the creatures
and objects upon and within the earth"; and Arnold's work gained wide

     (146) See citation in Mr. Ward's article, as above, p. 390.

Such was the influence of this succession of great men that toward the
close of the last century the English opponents of geology on biblical
grounds seemed likely to sweep all before them. Cramping our whole
inheritance of sacred literature within the rules of a historical
compend, they showed the terrible dangers arising from the revelations
of geology, which make the earth older than the six thousand years
required by Archbishop Usher's interpretation of the Old Testament.
Nor was this feeling confined to ecclesiastics. Williams, a thoughtful
layman, declared that such researches led to infidelity and atheism, and
are "nothing less than to depose the Almighty Creator of the universe
from his office." The poet Cowper, one of the mildest of men, was also
roused by these dangers, and in his most elaborate poem wrote:

                "Some drill and bore
The solid earth, and from the strata there Extract a register, by
which we learn That He who made it, and revealed its date To Moses, was
mistaken in its age!"

John Howard summoned England to oppose "those scientific systems which
are calculated to tear up in the public mind every remaining attachment
to Christianity."

With this special attack upon geological science by means of the dogma
of Adam's fall, the more general attack by the literal interpretation
of the text was continued. The legendary husks and rinds of our sacred
books were insisted upon as equally precious and nutritious with the
great moral and religious truths which they envelop. Especially precious
were the six days--each "the evening and the morning"--and the exact
statements as to the time when each part of creation came into being. To
save these, the struggle became more and more desperate.

Difficult as it is to realize it now, within the memory of many now
living the battle was still raging most fiercely in England, and both
kinds of artillery usually brought against a new science were in full
play, and filling the civilized world with their roar.

About half a century since, the Rev. J. Mellor Brown, the Rev. Henry
Cole, and others were hurling at all geologists alike, and especially at
such Christian scholars as Dr. Buckland and Dean Conybeare and Pye Smith
and Prof. Sedgwick, the epithets of "infidel," "impugner of the sacred
record," and "assailant of the volume of God."(147)

     (147) For these citations, see Lyell, Principles of Geology,

The favourite weapon of the orthodox party was the charge that the
geologists were "attacking the truth of God." They declared geology
"not a subject of lawful inquiry," denouncing it as "a dark art," as
"dangerous and disreputable," as "a forbidden province," as
"infernal artillery," and as "an awful evasion of the testimony of

     (148) See Pye Smith, D. D., Geology and Scripture, pp. 156, 157, 168,

This attempt to scare men from the science having failed, various other
means were taken. To say nothing about England, it is humiliating to
human nature to remember the annoyances, and even trials, to which the
pettiest and narrowest of men subjected such Christian scholars in our
own country as Benjamin Silliman and Edward Hitchcock and Louis Agassiz.

But it is a duty and a pleasure to state here that one great Christian
scholar did honour to religion and to himself by quietly accepting
the claims of science and making the best of them, despite all these
clamours. This man was Nicholas Wiseman, better known afterward as
Cardinal Wiseman. The conduct of this pillar of the Roman Catholic
Church contrasts admirably with that of timid Protestants, who were
filling England with shrieks and denunciations.(149)

     (149) Wiseman, Twelve Lectures on the Connection between Science and
Revealed Religion, first American edition, New York, 1837. As to the
comparative severity of the struggle regarding astronomy, geology, etc.,
in the Catholic and Protestant countries, see Lecky's England in the
Eighteenth Century, chap. ix, p. 525.

And here let it be noted that one of the most interesting skirmishes
in this war occurred in New England. Prof. Stuart, of Andover, justly
honoured as a Hebrew scholar, declared that to speak of six periods of
time for the creation was flying in the face of Scripture; that Genesis
expressly speaks of six days, each made up of "the evening and the
morning," and not six periods of time.

To him replied a professor in Yale College, James Kingsley. In an
article admirable for keen wit and kindly temper, he showed that Genesis
speaks just as clearly of a solid firmament as of six ordinary days,
and that, if Prof. Stuart had surmounted one difficulty and accepted
the Copernican theory, he might as well get over another and accept the
revelations of geology. The encounter was quick and decisive, and the
victory was with science and the broader scholarship of Yale.(150)

     (150) See Silliman's Journal, vol. xxx, p. 114.

Perhaps the most singular attempt against geology was made by a fine
survival of the eighteenth century Don--Dean Cockburn, of York--to SCOLD
its champions off the field. Having no adequate knowledge of the new
science, he opened a battery of abuse, giving it to the world at large
from the pulpit and through the press, and even through private letters.
From his pulpit in York Minster he denounced Mary Somerville by name for
those studies in physical geography which have made her name honoured
throughout the world.

But the special object of his antipathy was the British Association for
the Advancement of Science. He issued a pamphlet against it which
went through five editions in two years, sent solemn warnings to its
president, and in various ways made life a burden to Sedgwick, Buckland,
and other eminent investigators who ventured to state geological facts
as they found them.

These weapons were soon seen to be ineffective; they were like Chinese
gongs and dragon lanterns against rifled cannon; the work of science
went steadily on.(151)

     (151) Prof. Goldwin Smith informs me that the papers of Sir Robert Peel,
yet unpublished, contain very curious specimens of the epistles of Dean
Cockburn. See also Personal Recollections of Mary Somerville, Boston,
1874, pp. 139 and 375. Compare with any statement of his religious views
that Dean Cockburn was able to make, the following from Mrs. Somerville:
"Nothing has afforded me so convincing a proof of the Deity as these
purely mental conceptions of numerical and mathematical science which
have been, by slow degrees, vouchsafed to man--and are still granted
in these latter times by the differential calculus, now superseded by
the higher algebra--all of which must have existed in that sublimely
omniscient mind from eternity." See also The Life and Letters of Adam
Sedgwick, Cambridge, 1890, vol. ii, pp. 76 and following.


Long before the end of the struggle already described, even at a very
early period, the futility of the usual scholastic weapons had been
seen by the more keen-sighted champions of orthodoxy; and, as the
difficulties of the ordinary attack upon science became more and more
evident, many of these champions endeavoured to patch up a truce. So
began the third stage in the war--the period of attempts at compromise.

The position which the compromise party took was that the fossils were
produced by the Deluge of Noah.

This position was strong, for it was apparently based upon Scripture.
Moreover, it had high ecclesiastical sanction, some of the fathers
having held that fossil remains, even on the highest mountains,
represented animals destroyed at the Deluge. Tertullian was especially
firm on this point, and St. Augustine thought that a fossil tooth
discovered in North Africa must have belonged to one of the giants
mentioned in Scripture.(152)

     (152) For Tertullian, see his De Pallio, c. ii (Migne, Patr. Lat.,
vol. ii, p. 1033). For Augustine's view, see Cuvier, Recherches sur les
Ossements fossiles, fourth edition, vol. ii, p. 143.

In the sixteenth century especially, weight began to be attached to
this idea by those who felt the worthlessness of various scholastic
explanations. Strong men in both the Catholic and the Protestant camps
accepted it; but the man who did most to give it an impulse into modern
theology was Martin Luther. He easily saw that scholastic phrase-making
could not meet the difficulties raised by fossils, and he naturally
urged the doctrine of their origin at Noah's Flood.(153)

     (153) For Luther's opinion, see his Commentary on Genesis.

With such support, it soon became the dominant theory in Christendom:
nothing seemed able to stand against it; but before the end of the same
sixteenth century it met some serious obstacles. Bernard Palissy, one of
the most keen-sighted of scientific thinkers in France, as well as one
of the most devoted of Christians, showed that it was utterly untenable.
Conscientious investigators in other parts of Europe, and especially
in Italy, showed the same thing; all in vain.(154) In vain did good men
protest against the injury sure to be brought upon religion by tying it
to a scientific theory sure to be exploded; the doctrine that fossils
are the remains of animals drowned at the Flood continued to be upheld
by the great majority of theological leaders for nearly three centuries
as "sound doctrine," and as a blessed means of reconciling science
with Scripture. To sustain this scriptural view, efforts energetic and
persistent were put forth both by Catholics and Protestants.

     (154) For a very full statement of the honourable record of Italy in
this respect, and for the enlightened views of some Italian churchmen,
see Stoppani, Il Dogma a le Scienze Positive, Milan, 1886, pp. 203 et

In France, the learned Benedictine, Calmet, in his great works on the
Bible, accepted it as late as the beginning of the eighteenth century,
believing the mastodon's bones exhibited by Mazurier to be those of King
Teutobocus, and holding them valuable testimony to the existence of the
giants mentioned in Scripture and of the early inhabitants of the earth
overwhelmed by the Flood.(155)

     (155) For the steady adherence to this sacred theory, see Audiat, Vie de
Palissy, p. 412, and Cantu, Histoire Universelle, vol. xv, p. 492. For
Calmet, see his Dissertation sur les Geants, cited in Berger de Xivery,
Traditions Teratologiques, p. 191.

But the greatest champion appeared in England. We have already seen how,
near the close of the seventeenth century, Thomas Burnet prepared the
way in his Sacred Theory of the Earth by rejecting the discoveries of
Newton, and showing how sin led to the breaking up of the "foundations
of the great deep," and we have also seen how Whiston, in his New Theory
of the Earth, while yielding a little and accepting the discoveries of
Newton, brought in a comet to aid in producing the Deluge; but far more
important than these in permanent influence was John Woodward, professor
at Gresham College, a leader in scientific thought at the University
of Cambridge, and, as a patient collector of fossils and an earnest
investigator of their meaning, deserving of the highest respect. In 1695
he published his Natural History of the Earth, and rendered one great
service to science, for he yielded another point, and thus destroyed the
foundations for the old theory of fossils. He showed that they were not
"sports of Nature," or "models inserted by the Creator in the strata for
some inscrutable purpose," but that they were really remains of living
beings, as Xenophanes had asserted two thousand years before him. So
far, he rendered a great service both to science and religion; but, this
done, the text of the Old Testament narrative and the famous passage in
St. Peter's Epistle were too strong for him, and he, too, insisted that
the fossils were produced by the Deluge. Aided by his great authority,
the assault on the true scientific position was vigorous: Mazurier
exhibited certain fossil remains of a mammoth discovered in France as
bones of the giants mentioned in Scripture; Father Torrubia did the
same thing in Spain; Increase Mather sent to England similar remains
discovered in America, with a like statement.

For the edification of the faithful, such "bones of the giants mentioned
in Scripture" were hung up in public places. Jurieu saw some of
them thus suspended in one of the churches of Valence; and Henrion,
apparently under the stimulus thus given, drew up tables showing the
size of our antediluvian ancestors, giving the height of Adam as 123
feet 9 inches and that of Eve as 118 feet 9 inches and 9 lines.(156)

     (156) See Cuvier, Recherches sur les Ossements fossiles, fourth edition,
vol. ii, p. 56; also Geoffrey St.-Hilaire, cited by Berger de Xivery,
Traditions Teratologiques, p. 190.

But the most brilliant service rendered to the theological theory came
from another quarter for, in 1726, Scheuchzer, having discovered a large
fossil lizard, exhibited it to the world as the "human witness of the
Deluge":(157) this great discovery was hailed everywhere with joy,
for it seemed to prove not only that human beings were drowned at the
Deluge, but that "there were giants in those days." Cheered by the
applause thus gained, he determined to make the theological position
impregnable. Mixing together various texts of Scripture with notions
derived from the philosophy of Descartes and the speculations of
Whiston, he developed the theory that "the fountains of the great deep"
were broken up by the direct physical action of the hand of God, which,
being literally applied to the axis of the earth, suddenly stopped the
earth's rotation, broke up "the fountains of the great deep," spilled
the water therein contained, and produced the Deluge. But his service
to sacred science did not end here, for he prepared an edition of the
Bible, in which magnificent engravings in great number illustrated his
view and enforced it upon all readers. Of these engravings no less than
thirty-four were devoted to the Deluge alone.(158)

     (157) Homo diluvii testis.

     (158) See Zoeckler, vol. ii, p. 172; also Scheuchzer, Physica Sacra,
Augustae Vindel et Ulmae, 1732. For the ancient belief regarding
giants, see Leopoldi, Saggio. For accounts of the views of Mazaurier and
Scheuchzer, see Cuvier; also Buchner, Man in Past, Present, and Future,
English translation, pp. 235, 236. For Increase Mather's views, see
Philosophical Transactions, vol. xxiv, p. 85. As to similar fossils
sent from New York to the Royal Society as remains of giants, see Weld,
History of the Royal Society, vol. i, p. 421. For Father Torrubia and
his Gigantologia Espanola, see D'Archiac, Introduction a l'Etude de
la Paleontologie Stratigraphique, Paris, 1864, p. 201. For admirable
summaries, see Lyell, Principles of Geology, London, 1867; D'Archiac,
Geologie et Paleontologie, Paris, 1866; Pictet, Traite de Paleontologie,
Paris, 1853; Vezian, Prodrome de la Geologie, Paris, 1863; Haeckel,
History of Creation, English translation, New York, 1876, chap. iii;
and for recent progress, Prof. O. S. Marsh's Address on the History and
Methods of Paleontology.

In the midst all this came an episode very comical but very instructive;
for it shows that the attempt to shape the deductions of science to meet
the exigencies of dogma may mislead heterodoxy as absurdly as orthodoxy.

About the year 1760 news of the discovery of marine fossils in various
elevated districts of Europe reached Voltaire. He, too, had a theologic
system to support, though his system was opposed to that of the sacred
books of the Hebrews; and, fearing that these new discoveries might be
used to support the Mosaic accounts of the Deluge, all his wisdom and
wit were compacted into arguments to prove that the fossil fishes were
remains of fishes intended for food, but spoiled and thrown away
by travellers; that the fossil shells were accidentally dropped by
crusaders and pilgrims returning from the Holy Land; and that the fossil
bones found between Paris and Etampes were parts of a skeleton belonging
to the cabinet of some ancient philosopher. Through chapter after
chapter, Voltaire, obeying the supposed necessities of his theology,
fought desperately the growing results of the geologic investigations of
his time.(159)

     (159) See Voltaire, Dissertation sur les Changements arrives dans notre
Globe; also Voltaire, Les Singularities de la Nature, chap. xii; also
Jevons, Principles of Science, vol. ii, p. 328.

But far more prejudicial to Christianity was the continued effort on the
other side to show that the fossils were caused by the Deluge of Noah.

No supposition was too violent to support this theory, which was
considered vital to the Bible. By taking the mere husks and rinds of
biblical truth for truth itself, by taking sacred poetry as prose,
and by giving a literal interpretation of it, the followers of Burnet,
Whiston, and Woodward built up systems which bear to real geology much
the same relation that the Christian Topography of Cosmas bears to real
geography. In vain were exhibited the absolute geological, zoological,
astronomical proofs that no universal deluge, or deluge covering any
large part of the earth, had taken place within the last six thousand or
sixty thousand years; in vain did so enlightened a churchman as Bishop
Clayton declare that the Deluge could not have extended beyond that
district where Noah lived before the Flood; in vain did others, like
Bishop Croft and Bishop Stillingfleet, and the nonconformist Matthew
Poole, show that the Deluge might not have been and probably was not
universal; in vain was it shown that, even if there had been a universal
deluge, the fossils were not produced by it: the only answers were the
citation of the text, "And all the high mountains which were under the
whole heaven were covered," and, to clinch the matter, Worthington and
men like him insisted that any argument to show that fossils were not
remains of animals drowned at the Deluge of Noah was "infidelity." In
England, France, and Germany, belief that the fossils were produced
by the Deluge of Noah was widely insisted upon as part of that faith
essential to salvation.(160)

     (160) For a candid summary of the proofs from geology, astronomy,
and zoology, that the Noachian Deluge was not universally or widely
extended, see McClintock and Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical Theology
and Ecclesiastical Literature, article Deluge. For general history, see
Lyell, D'Archiac, and Vezian. For special cases showing the bitterness
of the conflict, see the Rev. Mr. Davis's Life of Rev. Dr. Pye Smith,
passim. For a late account, see Prof. Huxley on The Lights of the Church
and the Light of Science, in the Nineteenth Century for July, 1890.

But the steady work of science went on: not all the force of the
Church--not even the splendid engravings in Scheuchzer's Bible--could
stop it, and the foundations of this theological theory began to crumble
away. The process was, indeed, slow; it required a hundred and twenty
years for the searchers of God's truth, as revealed in Nature--such men
as Hooke, Linnaeus, Whitehurst, Daubenton, Cuvier, and William Smith--to
push their works under this fabric of error, and, by statements which
could not be resisted, to undermine it. As we arrive at the beginning of
the nineteenth century, science is becoming irresistible in this field.
Blumenbach, Von Buch, and Schlotheim led the way, but most important on
the Continent was the work of Cuvier. In the early years of the present
century his researches among fossils began to throw new light into the
whole subject of geology. He was, indeed, very conservative, and even
more wary and diplomatic; seeming, like Voltaire, to feel that "among
wolves one must howl a little." It was a time of reaction. Napoleon
had made peace with the Church, and to disturb that peace was akin to
treason. By large but vague concessions Cuvier kept the theologians
satisfied, while he undermined their strongest fortress. The danger was
instinctively felt by some of the champions of the Church, and typical
among these was Chateaubriand, who in his best-known work, once so
great, now so little--the Genius of Christianity--grappled with the
questions of creation by insisting upon a sort of general deception "in
the beginning," under which everything was created by a sudden fiat,
but with appearances of pre-existence. His words are as follows: "It
was part of the perfection and harmony of the nature which was displayed
before men's eyes that the deserted nests of last year's birds should be
seen on the trees, and that the seashore should be covered with shells
which had been the abode of fish, and yet the world was quite new, and
nests and shells had never been inhabited."(161) But the real victory
was with Brongniart, who, about 1820, gave forth his work on fossil
plants, and thus built a barrier against which the enemies of science
raged in vain.(162)

     (161) Genie du Christianisme, chap.v, pp. 1-14, cited by Reusch, vol. i,
p. 250.

     (162) For admirable sketches of Brongniart and other paleobotanists, see
Ward, as above.

Still the struggle was not ended, and, a few years later, a forlorn hope
was led in England by Granville Penn.

His fundamental thesis was that "our globe has undergone only two
revolutions, the Creation and the Deluge, and both by the immediate fiat
of the Almighty"; he insisted that the Creation took place in exactly
six days of ordinary time, each made up of "the evening and the
morning"; and he ended with a piece of that peculiar presumption so
familiar to the world, by calling on Cuvier and all other geologists to
"ask for the old paths and walk therein until they shall simplify their
system and reduce their numerous revolutions to the two events or epochs
only--the six days of Creation and the Deluge."(163) The geologists
showed no disposition to yield to this peremptory summons; on the
contrary, the President of the British Geological Society, and even so
eminent a churchman and geologist as Dean Buckland, soon acknowledged
that facts obliged them to give up the theory that the fossils of the
coal measures were deposited at the Deluge of Noah, and to deny that the
Deluge was universal.

     (163) See the Works of Granville Penn, vol. ii, p. 273.

The defection of Buckland was especially felt by the orthodox party. His
ability, honesty, and loyalty to his profession, as well as his position
as Canon of Christ Church and Professor of Geology at Oxford, gave him
great authority, which he exerted to the utmost in soothing his brother
ecclesiastics. In his inaugural lecture he had laboured to show that
geology confirmed the accounts of Creation and the Flood as given
in Genesis, and in 1823, after his cave explorations had revealed
overwhelming evidences of the vast antiquity of the earth, he had still
clung to the Flood theory in his Reliquiae Diluvianae.

This had not, indeed, fully satisfied the anti-scientific party, but as
a rule their attacks upon him took the form not so much of abuse as of
humorous disparagement. An epigram by Shuttleworth, afterward Bishop
of Chichester, in imitation of Pope's famous lines upon Newton, ran as

"Some doubts were once expressed about the Flood: Buckland arose, and
all was clear as mud."

On his leaving Oxford for a journey to southern Europe, Dean Gaisford
was heard to exclaim: "Well, Buckland is gone to Italy; so, thank God,
we shall have no more of this geology!"

Still there was some comfort as long as Buckland held to the Deluge
theory; but, on his surrender, the combat deepened: instead of epigrams
and caricatures came bitter attacks, and from the pulpit and press came
showers of missiles. The worst of these were hurled at Lyell. As we have
seen, he had published in 1830 his Principles of Geology. Nothing
could have been more cautious. It simply gave an account of the main
discoveries up to that time, drawing the necessary inferences with plain
yet convincing logic, and it remains to this day one of those works
in which the Anglo-Saxon race may most justly take pride,--one of the
land-marks in the advance of human thought.

But its tendency was inevitably at variance with the Chaldean and other
ancient myths and legends regarding the Creation and Deluge which
the Hebrews had received from the older civilizations among their
neighbours, and had incorporated into the sacred books which they
transmitted to the modern world; it was therefore extensively "refuted."

Theologians and men of science influenced by them insisted that his
minimizing of geological changes, and his laying stress on the gradual
action of natural causes still in force, endangered the sacred record of
Creation and left no place for miraculous intervention; and when it
was found that he had entirely cast aside their cherished idea that the
great geological changes of the earth's surface and the multitude of
fossil remains were due to the Deluge of Noah, and had shown that a far
longer time was demanded for Creation than any which could possibly
be deduced from the Old Testament genealogies and chronicles, orthodox
indignation burst forth violently; eminent dignitaries of the Church
attacked him without mercy and for a time he was under social ostracism.

As this availed little, an effort was made on the scientific side to
crush him beneath the weighty authority of Cuvier; but the futility of
this effort was evident when it was found that thinking men would no
longer listen to Cuvier and persisted in listening to Lyell. The great
orthodox text-book, Cuvier's Theory of the Earth, became at once so
discredited in the estimation of men of science that no new edition
of it was called for, while Lyell's work speedily ran through twelve
editions and remained a firm basis of modern thought.(164)

     (164) For Buckland and the various forms of attack upon him, see Gordon,
Life of Buckland, especially pp. 10, 26, 136. For the attack on Lyell
and his book, see Huxley, The Lights of the Church and the Light of

As typical of his more moderate opponents we may take Fairholme, who in
1837 published his Mosaic Deluge, and argued that no early convulsions
of the earth, such as those supposed by geologists, could have taken
place, because there could have been no deluge "before moral guilt could
possibly have been incurred"--that is to say, before the creation of
mankind. In touching terms he bewailed the defection of the President of
the Geological Society and Dean Buckland--protesting against geologists
who "persist in closing their eyes upon the solemn declarations of the

Still the geologists continued to seek truth: the germs planted
especially by William Smith, "the Father of English Geology" were
developed by a noble succession of investigators, and the victory was
sure. Meanwhile those theologians who felt that denunciation of
science as "godless" could accomplish little, laboured upon schemes for
reconciling geology with Genesis. Some of these show amazing ingenuity,
but an eminent religious authority, going over them with great
thoroughness, has well characterized them as "daring and fanciful." Such
attempts have been variously classified, but the fact regarding them
all is that each mixes up more or less of science with more or less of
Scripture, and produces a result more or less absurd. Though a few men
here and there have continued these exercises, the capitulation of the
party which set the literal account of the Deluge of Noah against the
facts revealed by geology was at last clearly made.(165)

     (165) For Fairholme, see his Mosaic Deluge, London, 1837, p. 358. For a
very just characterization of various schemes of "reconciliation," see
Shields, The Final Philosophy, p. 340.

One of the first evidences of the completeness of this surrender has
been so well related by the eminent physiologist, Dr. W. B. Carpenter,
that it may best be given in his own words: "You are familiar with a
book of considerable value, Dr. W. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. I
happened to know the influences under which that dictionary was
framed. The idea of the publisher and of the editor was to give as much
scholarship and such results of modern criticism as should be compatible
with a very judicious conservatism. There was to be no objection
to geology, but the universality of the Deluge was to be strictly
maintained. The editor committed the article Deluge to a man of very
considerable ability, but when the article came to him he found that
it was so excessively heretical that he could not venture to put it in.
There was not time for a second article under that head, and if you look
in that dictionary you will find under the word Deluge a reference to
Flood. Before Flood came, a second article had been commissioned from a
source that was believed safely conservative; but when the article came
in it was found to be worse than the first. A third article was then
commissioned, and care was taken to secure its 'safety.' If you look
for the word Flood in the dictionary, you will find a reference to Noah.
Under that name you will find an article written by a distinguished
professor of Cambridge, of which I remember that Bishop Colenso said
to me at the time, 'In a very guarded way the writer concedes the whole
thing.' You will see by this under what trammels scientific thought has
laboured in this department of inquiry."(166)

     (166) See Official Report of the National Conference of Unitarian and
other Christian Churches held at Saratoga, 1882, p. 97.

A similar surrender was seen when from a new edition of Horne's
Introduction to the Scriptures, the standard textbook of orthodoxy, its
accustomed use of fossils to prove the universality of the Deluge was
quietly dropped.(167)

     (167) This was about 1856; see Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 329.

A like capitulation in the United States was foreshadowed in 1841, when
an eminent Professor of Biblical Literature and interpretation in the
most important theological seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church,
Dr. Samuel Turner, showed his Christian faith and courage by virtually
accepting the new view; and the old contention was utterly cast away
by the thinking men of another great religious body when, at a later
period, two divines among the most eminent for piety and learning in
the Methodist Episcopal Church inserted in the Biblical Cyclopaedia,
published under their supervision, a candid summary of the proofs
from geology, astronomy, and zoology that the Deluge of Noah was not
universal, or even widely extended, and this without protest from any
man of note in any branch of the American Church.(168)

     (168) For Dr. Turner, see his Companion to the Book of Genesis, London
and New York, 1841, pp. 216-219. For McClintock and Strong, see their
Cyclopaedia of Biblical Knowledge, etc., article Deluge. For similar
surrenders of the Deluge in various other religious encyclopedias and
commentaries, see Huxley, Essays on controverted questions, chap. xiii.

The time when the struggle was relinquished by enlightened theologians
of the Roman Catholic Church may be fixed at about 1862, when Reusch,
Professor of Theology at Bonn, in his work on The Bible and Nature,
cast off the old diluvial theory and all its supporters, accepting the
conclusions of science.(169)

     (169) See Reusch, Bibel und Natur, chap. xxi.

But, though the sacred theory with the Deluge of Noah as a universal
solvent for geological difficulties was evidently dying, there still
remained in various quarters a touching fidelity to it. In Roman
Catholic countries the old theory was widely though quietly cherished,
and taught from the religious press, the pulpit, and the theological
professor's chair. Pope Pius IX was doubtless in sympathy with this
feeling when, about 1850, he forbade the scientific congress of Italy to
meet at Bologna.(170)

     (170) See Whiteside, Italy in the Nineteenth Century, vol. iii, chap.

In 1856 Father Debreyne congratulated the theologians of France on their
admirable attitude: "Instinctively," he says, "they still insist upon
deriving the fossils from Noah's Flood."(171) In 1875 the Abbe Choyer
published at Paris and Angers a text-book widely approved by Church
authorities, in which he took similar ground; and in 1877 the Jesuit
father Bosizio published at Mayence a treatise on Geology and the
Deluge, endeavouring to hold the world to the old solution of the
problem, allowing, indeed, that the "days" of Creation were long
periods, but making atonement for this concession by sneers at

     (171) See Zoeckler, vol. ii, p. 472.

     (172) See Zoeckler, vol. ii, p. 478, and Bosizio, Geologie und die
Sundfluth, Mayence, 1877, preface, p. xiv.

In the Russo-Greek Church, in 1869, Archbishop Macarius, of Lithuania,
urged the necessity of believing that Creation in six days of ordinary
time and the Deluge of Noah are the only causes of all that geology
seeks to explain; and, as late as 1876, another eminent theologian of
the same Church went even farther, and refused to allow the faithful to
believe that any change had taken place since "the beginning" mentioned
in Genesis, when the strata of the earth were laid, tilted, and twisted,
and the fossils scattered among them by the hand of the Almighty during
six ordinary days.(173)

     (173) See Zoeckler, vol. ii, p. 472, 571, and elsewhere; also citations
in Reusch and Shields.

In the Lutheran branch of the Protestant Church we also find echoes
of the old belief. Keil, eminent in scriptural interpretation at the
University of Dorpat, gave forth in 1860 a treatise insisting that
geology is rendered futile and its explanations vain by two great facts:
the Curse which drove Adam and Eve out of Eden, and the Flood that
destroyed all living things save Noah, his family, and the animals in
the ark. In 1867, Phillippi, and in 1869, Dieterich, both theologians
of eminence, took virtually the same ground in Germany, the latter
attempting to beat back the scientific hosts with a phrase apparently
pithy, but really hollow--the declaration that "modern geology observes
what is, but has no right to judge concerning the beginning of things."
As late as 1876, Zugler took a similar view, and a multitude of lesser
lights, through pulpit and press, brought these antiscientific doctrines
to bear upon the people at large--the only effect being to arouse grave
doubts regarding Christianity among thoughtful men, and especially among
young men, who naturally distrusted a cause using such weapons.

For just at this time the traditional view of the Deluge received its
death-blow, and in a manner entirely unexpected. By the investigations
of George Smith among the Assyrian tablets of the British Museum, in
1872, and by his discoveries just afterward in Assyria, it was put
beyond a reasonable doubt that a great mass of accounts in Genesis
are simply adaptations of earlier and especially of Chaldean myths and
legends. While this proved to be the fact as regards the accounts of
Creation and the fall of man, it was seen to be most strikingly so as
regards the Deluge. The eleventh of the twelve tablets, on which the
most important of these inscriptions was found, was almost wholly
preserved, and it revealed in this legend, dating from a time far
earlier than that of Moses, such features peculiar to the childhood of
the world as the building of the great ship or ark to escape the flood,
the careful caulking of its seams, the saving of a man beloved of
Heaven, his selecting and taking with him into the vessel animals of all
sorts in couples, the impressive final closing of the door, the sending
forth different birds as the flood abated, the offering of sacrifices
when the flood had subsided, the joy of the Divine Being who had caused
the flood as the odour of the sacrifice reached his nostrils; while
throughout all was shown that partiality for the Chaldean sacred number
seven which appears so constantly in the Genesis legends and throughout
the Hebrew sacred books.

Other devoted scholars followed in the paths thus opened--Sayce in
England, Lenormant in France, Schrader in Germany--with the result that
the Hebrew account of the Deluge, to which for ages theologians had
obliged all geological research to conform, was quietly relegated,
even by most eminent Christian scholars, to the realm of myth and

     (174) For George Smith, see his Chaldean Account of Genesis, New York,
1876, especially pp. 36, 263, 286; also his special work on the subject.
See also Lenormant, Les Origins de l'Histoire, Paris, 1880, chap. viii.
For Schrader, see his The Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament,
Whitehouse's translation, London, 1885, vol. i, pp. 47-49 and 58-60, and

Sundry feeble attempts to break the force of this discovery, and an
evidently widespread fear to have it known, have certainly impaired not
a little the legitimate influence of the Christian clergy.

And yet this adoption of Chaldean myths into the Hebrew Scriptures
furnishes one of the strongest arguments for the value of our Bible as
a record of the upward growth of man; for, while the Chaldean legend
primarily ascribes the Deluge to the mere arbitrary caprice of one among
many gods (Bel), the Hebrew development of the legend ascribes it to
the justice, the righteousness, of the Supreme God; thus showing the
evolution of a higher and nobler sentiment which demanded a moral cause
adequate to justify such a catastrophe.

Unfortunately, thus far, save in a few of the broader and nobler minds
among the clergy, the policy of ignoring such new revelations has
prevailed, and the results of this policy, both in Roman Catholic and in
Protestant countries, are not far to seek. What the condition of thought
is among the middle classes of France and Italy needs not to be stated
here. In Germany, as a typical fact, it may be mentioned that there was
in the year 1881 church accommodation in the city of Berlin for but two
per cent of the population, and that even this accommodation was more
than was needed. This fact is not due to the want of a deep religious
spirit among the North Germans: no one who has lived among them can
doubt the existence of such a spirit; but it is due mainly to the fact
that, while the simple results of scientific investigation have filtered
down among the people at large, the dominant party in the Lutheran
Church has steadily refused to recognise this fact, and has persisted in
imposing on Scripture the fetters of literal and dogmatic interpretation
which Germany has largely outgrown. A similar danger threatens every
other country in which the clergy pursue a similar policy. No thinking
man, whatever may be his religious views, can fail to regret this. A
thoughtful, reverent, enlightened clergy is a great blessing to any
country, and anything which undermines their legitimate work of leading
men out of the worship of material things to the consideration of that
which is highest is a vast misfortune.(175)

     (175) For the foregoing statements regarding Germany the writer relies
on his personal observation as a student at the University of Berlin in
1856, as a traveller at various periods afterward, and as Minister of
the United States in 1879, 1880, and 1881.


Before concluding, it may be instructive to note a few especially
desperate attempts at truces or compromises, such as always appear when
the victory of any science has become absolutely sure. Typical among
the earliest of these may be mentioned the effort of Carl von Raumer in
1819. With much pretension to scientific knowledge, but with aspirations
bounded by the limits of Prussian orthodoxy, he made a laboured attempt
to produce a statement which, by its vagueness, haziness, and "depth,"
should obscure the real questions at issue. This statement appeared in
the shape of an argument, used by Bertrand and others in the previous
century, to prove that fossil remains of plants in the coal measures
had never existed as living plants, but had been simply a "result of the
development of imperfect plant embryos"; and the same misty theory was
suggested to explain the existence of fossil animals without supposing
the epochs and changes required by geological science.

In 1837 Wagner sought to uphold this explanation; but it was so clearly
a mere hollow phrase, unable to bear the weight of the facts to be
accounted for, that it was soon given up.

Similar attempts were made throughout Europe, the most noteworthy
appearing in England. In 1853 was issued an anonymous work having as its
title A Brief and Complete Refutation of the Anti-Scriptural Theory of
Geologists: the author having revived an old idea, and put a spark
of life into it--this idea being that "all the organisms found in the
depths of the earth were made on the first of the six creative days, as
models for the plants and animals to be created on the third, fifth, and
sixth days."(176)

     (176) See Zoeckler, vol. ii, p. 475.

But while these attempts to preserve the old theory as to fossil remains
of lower animals were thus pressed, there appeared upon the geological
field a new scientific column far more terrible to the old doctrines
than any which had been seen previously.

For, just at the close of the first quarter of the nineteenth century,
geologists began to examine the caves and beds of drift in various
parts of the world; and within a few years from that time a series
of discoveries began in France, in Belgium, in England, in Brazil, in
Sicily, in India, in Egypt, and in America, which established the
fact that a period of time much greater than any which had before been
thought of had elapsed since the first human occupation of the earth.
The chronologies of Archbishop Usher, Petavius, Bossuet, and the other
great authorities on which theology had securely leaned, were found
worthless. It was clearly seen that, no matter how well based upon the
Old Testament genealogies and lives of the patriarchs, all these systems
must go for nothing. The most conservative geologists were gradually
obliged to admit that man had been upon the earth not merely six
thousand, or sixty thousand, or one hundred and sixty thousand years.
And when, in 1863, Sir Charles Lyell, in his book on The Antiquity of
Man, retracted solemnly his earlier view--yielding with a reluctance
almost pathetic, but with a thoroughness absolutely convincing--the last
stronghold of orthodoxy in this field fell.(177)

     (177) See Prof. Marsh's address as President of the Society for the
Advancement of Science, in 1879; and for a development of the matter,
see the chapters on The Antiquity of Man and Egyptology and the Fall of
Man and Anthropology, in this work.

The supporters of a theory based upon the letter of Scripture, who
had so long taken the offensive, were now obliged to fight upon the
defensive and at fearful odds. Various lines of defence were taken;
but perhaps the most pathetic effort was that made in the year 1857,
in England, by Gosse. As a naturalist he had rendered great services to
zoological science, but he now concentrated his energies upon one last
effort to save the literal interpretation of Genesis and the theological
structure built upon it. In his work entitled Omphalos he developed the
theory previously urged by Granville Penn, and asserted a new principle
called "prochronism." In accordance with this, all things were created
by the Almighty hand literally within the six days, each made up of "the
evening and the morning," and each great branch of creation was brought
into existence in an instant. Accepting a declaration of Dr. Ure, that
"neither reason nor revelation will justify us in extending the origin
of the material system beyond six thousand years from our own days,"
Gosse held that all the evidences of convulsive changes and long epochs
in strata, rocks, minerals, and fossils are simply "APPEARANCES"--only
that and nothing more. Among these mere "appearances," all created
simultaneously, were the glacial furrows and scratches on rocks, the
marks of retreat on rocky masses, as at Niagara, the tilted and twisted
strata, the piles of lava from extinct volcanoes, the fossils of every
sort in every part of the earth, the foot-tracks of birds and reptiles,
the half-digested remains of weaker animals found in the fossilized
bodies of the stronger, the marks of hyenas' teeth on fossilized bones
found in various caves, and even the skeleton of the Siberian mammoth
at St. Petersburg with lumps of flesh bearing the marks of wolves'
teeth--all these, with all gaps and imperfections, he urged mankind
to believe came into being in an instant. The preface of the work
is especially touching, and it ends with the prayer that science and
Scripture may be reconciled by his theory, and "that the God of truth
will deign so to use it, and if he do, to him be all the glory."(177) At
the close of the whole book Gosse declared: "The field is left clear and
undisputed for the one witness on the opposite side, whose testimony is
as follows: 'In six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all
that in them is.'" This quotation he placed in capital letters, as the
final refutation of all that the science of geology had built.

     (177) See Gosse, Omphalos, London, 1857, p. 5, and passim; and for a
passage giving the keynote of the whole, with a most farcical note on
coprolites, see pp. 353, 354.

In other parts of Europe desperate attempts were made even later to
save the letter of our sacred books by the revival of a theory in some
respects more striking. To shape this theory to recent needs, vague
reminiscences of a text in Job regarding fire beneath the earth, and
vague conceptions of speculations made by Humboldt and Laplace, were
mingled with Jewish tradition. Out of the mixture thus obtained Schubert
developed the idea that the Satanic "principalities and powers" formerly
inhabiting our universe plunged it into the chaos from which it was
newly created by a process accurately described in Genesis. Rougemont
made the earth one of the "morning stars" of Job, reduced to chaos by
Lucifer and his followers, and thence developed in accordance with the
nebular hypothesis. Kurtz evolved from this theory an opinion that the
geological disturbances were caused by the opposition of the devil to
the rescue of our universe from chaos by the Almighty. Delitzsch put a
similar idea into a more scholastic jargon; but most desperate of all
were the statements of Dr. Anton Westermeyer, of Munich, in The Old
Testament vindicated from Modern Infidel Objections. The following
passage will serve to show his ideas: "By the fructifying brooding of
the Divine Spirit on the waters of the deep, creative forces began to
stir; the devils who inhabited the primeval darkness and considered it
their own abode saw that they were to be driven from their possessions,
or at least that their place of habitation was to be contracted, and
they therefore tried to frustrate God's plan of creation and exert all
that remained to them of might and power to hinder or at least to mar
the new creation." So came into being "the horrible and destructive
monsters, these caricatures and distortions of creation," of which
we have fossil remains. Dr. Westermeyer goes on to insist that "whole
generations called into existence by God succumbed to the corruption of
the devil, and for that reason had to be destroyed"; and that "in the
work of the six days God caused the devil to feel his power in all
earnest, and made Satan's enterprise appear miserable and vain."(178)

     (178) See Shields's Final Philosophy, pp. 340 et seq., and Reusch's
Nature and the Bible (English translation, 1886), vol. i, pp. 318-320.

Such was the last important assault upon the strongholds of geological
science in Germany; and, in view of this and others of the same kind, it
is little to be wondered at that when, in 1870, Johann Silberschlag made
an attempt to again base geology upon the Deluge of Noah, he found such
difficulties that, in a touching passage, he expressed a desire to get
back to the theory that fossils were "sports of Nature."(179)

     (179) See Reusch, vol. i, p. 264.

But the most noted among efforts to keep geology well within the
letter of Scripture is of still more recent date. In the year 1885 Mr.
Gladstone found time, amid all his labours and cares as the greatest
parliamentary leader in England, to take the field in the struggle for
the letter of Genesis against geology.

On the face of it his effort seemed Quixotic, for he confessed at
the outset that in science he was "utterly destitute of that kind of
knowledge which carries authority," and his argument soon showed that
this confession was entirely true.

But he had some other qualities of which much might be expected: great
skill in phrase-making, great shrewdness in adapting the meanings of
single words to conflicting necessities in discussion, wonderful power
in erecting showy structures of argument upon the smallest basis
of fact, and a facility almost preternatural in "explaining away"
troublesome realities. So striking was his power in this last respect,
that a humorous London chronicler once advised a bigamist, as his only
hope, to induce Mr. Gladstone to explain away one of his wives.

At the basis of this theologico-geological structure Mr. Gladstone
placed what he found in the text of Genesis: "A grand fourfold division"
of animated Nature "set forth in an orderly succession of times." And he
arranged this order and succession of creation as follows: "First,
the water population; secondly, the air population; thirdly, the land
population of animals; fourthly, the land population consummated in

His next step was to slide in upon this basis the apparently harmless
proposition that this division and sequence "is understood to have been
so affirmed in our time by natural science that it may be taken as a
demonstrated conclusion and established fact."

Finally, upon these foundations he proceeded to build an argument out
of the coincidences thus secured between the record in the Hebrew sacred
books and the truths revealed by science as regards this order and
sequence, and he easily arrived at the desired conclusion with which he
crowned the whole structure, namely, as regards the writer of Genesis,
that "his knowledge was divine."(180)

     (180) See Mr. Gladstone's Dawn of Creation and Worship, a reply to Dr.
Reville, in the Nineteenth Century for November, 1885.

Such was the skeleton of the structure; it was abundantly decorated with
the rhetoric in which Mr. Gladstone is so skilful an artificer, and
it towered above "the average man" as a structure beautiful and
invincible--like some Chinese fortress in the nineteenth century, faced
with porcelain and defended with crossbows.

Its strength was soon seen to be unreal. In an essay admirable in its
temper, overwhelming in its facts, and absolutely convincing in its
argument, Prof. Huxley, late President of the Royal Society, and
doubtless the most eminent contemporary authority on the scientific
questions concerned, took up the matter.

Mr. Gladstone's first proposition, that the sacred writings give us a
great "fourfold division" created "in an orderly succession of times,"
Prof. Huxley did not presume to gainsay.

As to Mr. Gladstone's second proposition, that "this great fourfold
division... created in an orderly succession of times... has been so
affirmed in our own time by natural science that it may be taken as a
demonstrated conclusion and established fact," Prof. Huxley showed
that, as a matter of fact, no such "fourfold division" and "orderly
succession" exist; that, so far from establishing Mr. Gladstone's
assumption that the population of water, air, and land followed each
other in the order given, "all the evidence we possess goes to prove
that they did not"; that the distribution of fossils through the various
strata proves that some land animals originated before sea animals;
that there has been a mixing of sea, land, and air "population" utterly
destructive to the "great fourfold division" and to the creation "in an
orderly succession of times"; that, so far is the view presented in the
sacred text, as stated by Mr. Gladstone, from having been "so
affirmed in our own time by natural science, that it may be taken as
a demonstrated conclusion and established fact" that Mr. Gladstone's
assertion is "directly contradictory to facts known to every one who is
acquainted with the elements of natural science"; that Mr. Gladstone's
only geological authority, Cuvier, had died more than fifty years
before, when geological science was in its infancy (and he might have
added, when it was necessary to make every possible concession to
the Church); and, finally, he challenged Mr. Gladstone to produce any
contemporary authority in geological science who would support his
so-called scriptural view. And when, in a rejoinder, Mr. Gladstone
attempted to support his view on the authority of Prof. Dana, Prof.
Huxley had no difficulty in showing from Prof. Dana's works that Mr.
Gladstone's inference was utterly unfounded. But, while the fabric
reared by Mr. Gladstone had been thus undermined by Huxley on the
scientific side, another opponent began an attack from the biblical
side. The Rev. Canon Driver, professor at Mr. Gladstone's own
University of Oxford, took up the question in the light of scriptural
interpretation. In regard to the comparative table drawn up by Sir J. W.
Dawson, showing the supposed correspondence between the scriptural and
the geological order of creation, Canon Driver said: "The two series
are evidently at variance. The geological record contains no evidence
of clearly defined periods corresponding to the 'days' of Genesis. In
Genesis, vegetation is complete two days before animal life appears.
Geology shows that they appear simultaneously--even if animal life
does not appear first. In Genesis, birds appear together with aquatic
creatures, and precede all land animals; according to the evidence of
geology, birds are unknown till a period much later than that at which
aquatic creatures (including fishes and amphibia) abound, and they are
preceded by numerous species of land animals--in particular, by insects
and other 'creeping things.'" Of the Mosaic account of the existence
of vegetation before the creation of the sun, Canon Driver said, "No
reconciliation of this representation with the data of science has yet
been found"; and again: "From all that has been said, however reluctant
we may be to make the admission, only one conclusion seems possible.
Read without prejudice or bias, the narrative of Genesis i, creates an
impression at variance with the facts revealed by science." The
eminent professor ends by saying that the efforts at reconciliation are
"different modes of obliterating the characteristic features of Genesis,
and of reading into it a view which it does not express."

Thus fell Mr. Gladstone's fabric of coincidences between the "great
fourfold division" in Genesis and the facts ascertained by geology.
Prof. Huxley had shattered the scientific parts of the structure, Prof.
Driver had removed its biblical foundations, and the last great fortress
of the opponents of unfettered scientific investigation was in ruins.

In opposition to all such attempts we may put a noble utterance by
a clergyman who has probably done more to save what is essential in
Christianity among English-speaking people than any other ecclesiastic
of his time. The late Dean of Westminster, Dr. Arthur Stanley, was
widely known and beloved on both continents. In his memorial sermon
after the funeral of Sir Charles Lyell he said: "It is now clear to
diligent students of the Bible that the first and second chapters of
Genesis contain two narratives of the creation side by side, differing
from each other in almost every particular of time and place and order.
It is well known that, when the science of geology first arose, it was
involved in endless schemes of attempted reconciliation with the
letter of Scripture. There were, there are perhaps still, two modes of
reconciliation of Scripture and science, which have been each in their
endeavour to wrest the words of the Bible from their natural meaning and
FORCE IT TO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF SCIENCE." And again, speaking of the
earliest known example, which was the interpolation of the word "not"
in Leviticus xi, 6, he continues: "This is the earliest instance of THE
been followed in later times by the various efforts which have been
made to twist the earlier chapters of the book of Genesis into APPARENT
agreement with the last results of geology--representing days not to be
days, morning and evening not to be morning and evening, the Deluge not
to be the Deluge, and the ark not to be the ark."

After a statement like this we may fitly ask, Which is the more likely
to strengthen Christianity for its work in the twentieth century which
we are now about to enter--a large, manly, honest, fearless utterance
like this of Arthur Stanley, or hair-splitting sophistries, bearing
in their every line the germs of failure, like those attempted by Mr.

The world is finding that the scientific revelation of creation is ever
more and more in accordance with worthy conceptions of that great Power
working in and through the universe. More and more it is seen that
inspiration has never ceased, and that its prophets and priests are not
those who work to fit the letter of its older literature to the needs
of dogmas and sects, but those, above all others, who patiently,
fearlessly, and reverently devote themselves to the search for truth as
truth, in the faith that there is a Power in the universe wise enough
to make truth-seeking safe and good enough to make truth-telling

     (181) For the Huxley-Gladstone controversy, see The Nineteenth Century
for 1885-'86. For Canon Driver, see his article, The Cosmogony of
Genesis, in The Expositor for January, 1886.



In the great ranges of investigation which bear most directly upon the
origin of man, there are two in which Science within the last few years
has gained final victories. The significance of these in changing, and
ultimately in reversing, one of the greatest currents of theological
thought, can hardly be overestimated; not even the tide set in motion by
Cusa, Copernicus, and Galileo was more powerful to bring in a new epoch
of belief.

The first of these conquests relates to the antiquity of man on the

The fathers of the early Christian Church, receiving all parts of our
sacred books as equally inspired, laid little, if any, less stress
on the myths, legends, genealogies, and tribal, family, and personal
traditions contained in the Old and the New Testaments, than upon the
most powerful appeals, the most instructive apologues, and the most
lofty poems of prophets, psalmists, and apostles. As to the age of our
planet and the life of man upon it, they found in the Bible a carefully
recorded series of periods, extending from Adam to the building of the
Temple at Jerusalem, the length of each period being explicitly given.

Thus they had a biblical chronology--full, consecutive, and
definite--extending from the first man created to an event of known
date well within ascertained profane history; as a result, the early
Christian commentators arrived at conclusions varying somewhat, but in
the main agreeing. Some, like Origen, Eusebius, Lactantius, Clement
of Alexandria, and the great fathers generally of the first three
centuries, dwelling especially upon the Septuagint version of the
Scriptures, thought that man's creation took place about six thousand
years before the Christian era. Strong confirmation of this view was
found in a simple piece of purely theological reasoning: for, just as
the seven candlesticks of the Apocalypse were long held to prove the
existence of seven heavenly bodies revolving about the earth, so it was
felt that the six days of creation prefigured six thousand years during
which the earth in its first form was to endure; and that, as the first
Adam came on the sixth day, Christ, the second Adam, had come at the
sixth millennial period. Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, in the second
century clinched this argument with the text, "One day is with the Lord
as a thousand years."

On the other hand, Eusebius and St. Jerome, dwelling more especially
upon the Hebrew text, which we are brought up to revere, thought
that man's origin took place at a somewhat shorter period before the
Christian era; and St. Jerome's overwhelming authority made this the
dominant view throughout western Europe during fifteen centuries.

The simplicity of these great fathers as regards chronology is
especially reflected from the tables of Eusebius. In these, Moses,
Joshua, and Bacchus,--Deborah, Orpheus, and the Amazons,--Abimelech,
the Sphinx, and Oedipus, appear together as personages equally real, and
their positions in chronology equally ascertained.

At times great bitterness was aroused between those holding the longer
and those holding the shorter chronology, but after all the difference
between them, as we now see, was trivial; and it may be broadly stated
that in the early Church, "always, everywhere, and by all," it was held
as certain, upon the absolute warrant of Scripture, that man was created
from four to six thousand years before the Christian era.

To doubt this, and even much less than this, was to risk damnation.
St. Augustine insisted that belief in the antipodes and in the longer
duration of the earth than six thousand years were deadly heresies,
equally hostile to Scripture. Philastrius, the friend of St. Ambrose and
St. Augustine, whose fearful catalogue of heresies served as a guide
to intolerance throughout the Middle Ages, condemned with the same holy
horror those who expressed doubt as to the orthodox number of years
since the beginning of the world, and those who doubted an earthquake to
be the literal voice of an angry God, or who questioned the plurality of
the heavens, or who gainsaid the statement that God brings out the stars
from his treasures and hangs them up in the solid firmament above the
earth every night.

About the beginning of the seventh century Isidore of Seville, the great
theologian of his time, took up the subject. He accepted the dominant
view not only of Hebrew but of all other chronologies, without anything
like real criticism. The childlike faith of his system may be imagined
from his summaries which follow. He tells us:

"Joseph lived one hundred and five years. Greece began to cultivate

"The Jews were in slavery in Egypt one hundred and forty-four years.
Atlas discovered astrology."

"Joshua ruled for twenty-seven years. Ericthonius yoked horses

"Othniel, forty years. Cadmus introduced letters into Greece."

"Deborah, forty years. Apollo discovered the art of medicine and
invented the cithara."

"Gideon, forty years. Mercury invented the lyre and gave it to Orpheus."

Reasoning in this general way, Isidore kept well under the longer date;
and, the great theological authority of southern Europe having thus
spoken, the question was virtually at rest throughout Christendom for
nearly a hundred years.

Early in the eighth century the Venerable Bede took up the problem.
Dwelling especially upon the received Hebrew text of the Old Testament,
he soon entangled himself in very serious difficulties; but, in spite of
the great fathers of the first three centuries, he reduced the antiquity
of man on the earth by nearly a thousand years, and, in spite of
mutterings against him as coming dangerously near a limit which made the
theological argument from the six days of creation to the six ages of
the world look doubtful, his authority had great weight, and did much to
fix western Europe in its allegiance to the general system laid down by
Eusebius and Jerome.

In the twelfth century this belief was re-enforced by a tide of thought
from a very different quarter. Rabbi Moses Maimonides and other Jewish
scholars, by careful study of the Hebrew text, arrived at conclusions
diminishing the antiquity of man still further, and thus gave
strength throughout the Middle Ages to the shorter chronology: it was
incorporated into the sacred science of Christianity; and Vincent of
Beauvais, in his great Speculum Historiale, forming part of that still
more enormous work intended to sum up all the knowledge possessed by the
ages of faith, placed the creation of man at about four thousand years
before our era.(182)

     (182) For a table summing up the periods, from Adam to the building of
the Temple, explicitly given in the Scriptures, see the admirable paper
on The Pope and the Bible, in The Contemporary Review for April, 1893.
For the date of man's creation as given by leading chronologists in
various branches of the Church, see L'Art de Verifier les Dates,
Paris, 1819, vol. i, pp. 27 et seq. In this edition there are sundry
typographical errors; compare with Wallace, True Age of the World,
London, 1844. As to preference for the longer computation by the fathers
of the Church, see Clinton, Fasti Hellenici, vol. ii, p. 291. For the
sacred significance of the six days of creation in ascertaining
the antiquity of man, see especially Eichen, Geschichte der
mittelalterlichen Weltanschauung; also Wallace, True Age of the World,
pp. 2,3. For the views of St. Augustine, see Topinard, Anthropologie,
citing the De Civ. Dei., lib. xvi, c. viii, c. x. For the views of
Philastrius, see the De Hoeresibus, c. 102, 112, et passim, in Migne,
tome xii. For Eusebius's simple credulity, see the tables in Palmer's
Egyptian Chronicles, vol. ii, pp. 828, 829. For Bede, see Usher's
Chronologia Sacra, cited in Wallace, True Age of the World, p. 35. For
Isidore of Seville, see the Etymologia, lib. v, c. 39; also lib. iii, in
Migne, tome lxxxii.

At the Reformation this view was not disturbed. The same manner of
accepting the sacred text which led Luther, Melanchthon, and the great
Protestant leaders generally, to oppose the Copernican theory, fixed
them firmly in this biblical chronology; the keynote was sounded for
them by Luther when he said, "We know, on the authority of Moses,
that longer ago than six thousand years the world did not exist."
Melanchthon, more exact, fixed the creation of man at 3963 B.C.

But the great Christian scholars continued the old endeavour to make the
time of man's origin more precise: there seems to have been a sort
of fascination in the subject which developed a long array of
chronologists, all weighing the minutest indications in our sacred
books, until the Protestant divine De Vignolles, who had given forty
years to the study of biblical chronology, declared in 1738 that he had
gathered no less than two hundred computations based upon Scripture, and
no two alike.

As to the Roman Church, about 1580 there was published, by authority of
Pope Gregory XIII, the Roman Martyrology, and this, both as originally
published and as revised in 1640 under Pope Urban VIII, declared that
the creation of man took place 5199 years before Christ.

But of all who gave themselves up to these chronological studies, the
man who exerted the most powerful influence upon the dominant nations of
Christendom was Archbishop Usher. In 1650 he published his Annals of the
Ancient and New Testaments, and it at once became the greatest authority
for all English-speaking peoples. Usher was a man of deep and wide
theological learning, powerful in controversy; and his careful
conclusion, after years of the most profound study of the Hebrew
Scriptures, was that man was created 4004 years before the Christian
era. His verdict was widely received as final; his dates were inserted
in the margins of the authorized version of the English Bible, and
were soon practically regarded as equally inspired with the sacred text
itself: to question them seriously was to risk preferment in the Church
and reputation in the world at large.

The same adhesion to the Hebrew Scriptures which had influenced Usher
brought leading men of the older Church to the same view: men who would
have burned each other at the stake for their differences on other
points, agreed on this: Melanchthon and Tostatus, Lightfoot and Jansen,
Salmeron and Scaliger, Petavius and Kepler, inquisitors and reformers,
Jesuits and Jansenists, priests and rabbis, stood together in the belief
that the creation of man was proved by Scripture to have taken place
between 3900 and 4004 years before Christ.

In spite of the severe pressure of this line of authorities, extending
from St. Jerome and Eusebius to Usher and Petavius, in favour of this
scriptural chronology, even devoted Christian scholars had sometimes
felt obliged to revolt. The first great source of difficulty was
increased knowledge regarding the Egyptian monuments. As far back as
the last years of the sixteenth century Joseph Scaliger had done what
he could to lay the foundations of a more scientific treatment of
chronology, insisting especially that the historical indications in
Persia, in Babylon, and above all in Egypt, should be brought to bear
on the question. More than that, he had the boldness to urge that the
chronological indications of the Hebrew Scriptures should be fully and
critically discussed in the light of Egyptian and other records, without
any undue bias from theological considerations. His idea may well be
called inspired; yet it had little effect as regards a true view of the
antiquity of man, even upon himself, for the theological bias prevailed
above all his reasonings, even in his own mind. Well does a brilliant
modern writer declare that, "among the multitude of strong men in modern
times abdicating their reason at the command of their prejudices, Joseph
Scaliger is perhaps the most striking example." Early in the following
century Sir Walter Raleigh, in his History of the World (1603-1616),
pointed out the danger of adhering to the old system. He, too, foresaw
one of the results of modern investigation, stating it in these words,
which have the ring of prophetic inspiration: "For in Abraham's time
all the then known parts of the world were developed.... Egypt had many
magnificent cities,... and these not built with sticks, but of hewn
stone,... which magnificence needed a parent of more antiquity than
these other men have supposed." In view of these considerations Raleigh
followed the chronology of the Septuagint version, which enabled him to
give to the human race a few more years than were usually allowed.

About the middle of the seventeenth century Isaac Vossius, one of the
most eminent scholars of Christendom, attempted to bring the prevailing
belief into closer accordance with ascertained facts, but, save by a
chosen few, his efforts were rejected. In some parts of Europe a man
holding new views on chronology was by no means safe from bodily harm.
As an example of the extreme pressure exerted by the old theological
system at times upon honest scholars, we may take the case of La
Peyrere, who about the middle of the seventeenth century put forth his
book on the Pre-Adamites--an attempt to reconcile sundry well-known
difficulties in Scripture by claiming that man existed on earth before
the time of Adam. He was taken in hand at once; great theologians rushed
forward to attack him from all parts of Europe; within fifty years
thirty-six different refutations of his arguments had appeared;
the Parliament of Paris burned the book, and the Grand Vicar of the
archdiocese of Mechlin threw him into prison and kept him there until
he was forced, not only to retract his statements, but to abjure his

In England, opposition to the growing truth was hardly less earnest.
Especially strong was Pearson, afterward Master of Trinity and Bishop
of Chester. In his treatise on the Creed, published in 1659, which has
remained a theologic classic, he condemned those who held the earth to
be more than fifty-six hundred years old, insisted that the first man
was created just six days later, declared that the Egyptian records were
forged, and called all Christians to turn from them to "the infallible
annals of the Spirit of God."

But, in spite of warnings like these, we see the new idea cropping out
in various parts of Europe. In 1672, Sir John Marsham published a work
in which he showed himself bold and honest. After describing the heathen
sources of Oriental history, he turns to the Christian writers,
and, having used the history of Egypt to show that the great Church
authorities were not exact, he ends one important argument with the
following words: "Thus the most interesting antiquities of Egypt have
been involved in the deepest obscurity by the very interpreters of
her chronology, who have jumbled everything up (qui omnia susque deque
permiscuerunt), so as to make them match with their own reckonings
of Hebrew chronology. Truly a very bad example, and quite unworthy of
religious writers."

This sturdy protest of Sir John against the dominant system and against
the "jumbling" by which Eusebius had endeavoured to cut down ancient
chronology within safe and sound orthodox limits, had little effect.
Though eminent chronologists of the eighteenth century, like Jackson,
Hales, and Drummond, gave forth multitudes of ponderous volumes pleading
for a period somewhat longer than that generally allowed, and
insisting that the received Hebrew text was grossly vitiated as
regards chronology, even this poor favour was refused them; the mass of
believers found it more comfortable to hold fast the faith committed to
them by Usher, and it remained settled that man was created about four
thousand years before our era.

To those who wished even greater precision, Dr. John Lightfoot,
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, the great rabbinical
scholar of his time, gave his famous demonstration from our sacred books
that "heaven and earth, centre and circumference, were created together,
in the same instant, and clouds full of water," and that "this work took
place and man was created by the Trinity on the twenty-third of October,
4004 B.C., at nine o'clock in the morning."

This tide of theological reasoning rolled on through the eighteenth
century, swollen by the biblical researches of leading commentators,
Catholic and Protestant, until it came in much majesty and force into
our own nineteenth century. At the very beginning of the century it
gained new strength from various great men in the Church, among whom may
be especially named Dr. Adam Clarke, who declared that, "to preclude the
possibility of a mistake, the unerring Spirit of God directed Moses in
the selection of his facts and the ascertaining of his dates."

All opposition to the received view seemed broken down, and as late as
1835--indeed, as late as 1850--came an announcement in the work of one
of the most eminent Egyptologists, Sir J. G. Wilkinson, to the
effect that he had modified the results he had obtained from Egyptian
monuments, in order that his chronology might not interfere with the
received date of the Deluge of Noah.(183)

     (183) For Lightfoot, see his Prolegomena relating to the age of the
world at the birth of Christ; see also in the edition of his works,
London, 1822, vol. 4, pp. 64, 112. For Scaliger, see in the De
Emendatione Temporum, 1583; also Mark Pattison, Essays, Oxford, 1889,
vol. i, pp. 162 et seq. For Raleigh's misgivings, see his History of the
World, London, 1614, p. 227, book ii of part i, section 7 of chapter
i; also Clinton's Fasti Hellenici, vol. ii, p. 293. For Usher, see
his Annales Vet. et Nov. Test., London, 1650. For Pearson, see his
Exposition of the Creed, sixth edition, London, 1692, pp. 59 et seq.
For Marsham, see his Chronicus Canon Aegypticus, Ebraicus, Graecus,
et Disquisitiones, London, 1672. For La Peyrere, see especially
Quatrefarges, in Revue de Deux Mondes for 1861; also other chapters in
this work. For Jackson, Hales, and others, see Wallace's True Age of
the World. For Wilkinson, see various editions of his work on Egypt. For
Vignolles, see Leblois, vol. iii, p. 617. As to the declaration in favor
of the recent origin of man, sanctioned by Popes Gregory XIII and Urban
VIII, see Strachius, cited in Wallace, p. 97. For the general agreement
of Church authorities, as stated, see L'Art de Verifier les Dates, as
above. As to difficulties of scriptural chronology, see Ewald, History
of Israel, English translation, London, 1883, pp. 204 et seq.


But all investigators were not so docile as Wilkinson, and there soon
came a new train of scientific thought which rapidly undermined all this
theological chronology. Not to speak of other noted men, we have early
in the present century Young, Champollion, and Rosellini, beginning a
new epoch in the study of the Egyptian monuments. Nothing could be more
cautious than their procedure, but the evidence was soon overwhelming in
favour of a vastly longer existence of man in the Nile Valley than
could be made to agree with even the longest duration then allowed by
theologians. For, in spite of all the suppleness of men like Wilkinson,
it became evident that, whatever system of scriptural chronology was
adopted, Egypt was the seat of a flourishing civilization at a period
before the "Flood of Noah," and that no such flood had ever interrupted
it. This was bad, but worse remained behind: it was soon clear that
the civilization of Egypt began earlier than the time assigned for
the creation of man, even according to the most liberal of the sacred

As time went on, this became more and more evident. The long duration
assigned to human civilization in the fragments of Manetho, the Egyptian
scribe at Thebes in the third century B.C., was discovered to be more
accordant with truth than the chronologies of the great theologians;
and, as the present century has gone on, scientific results have
been reached absolutely fatal to the chronological view based by the
universal Church upon Scripture for nearly two thousand years.

As is well known, the first of the Egyptian kings of whom mention is
made upon the monuments of the Nile Valley is Mena, or Menes. Manetho
had given a statement, according to which Mena must have lived nearly
six thousand years before the Christian era. This was looked upon for a
long time as utterly inadmissible, as it was so clearly at variance
with the chronology of our own sacred books; but, as time went on, large
fragments of the original work of Manetho were more carefully studied
and distinguished from corrupt transcriptions, the lists of kings at
Karnak, Sacquarah, and the two temples at Abydos were brought to light,
and the lists of court architects were discovered. Among all these
monuments the scholar who visits Egypt is most impressed by the
sculptured tablets giving the lists of kings. Each shows the monarch of
the period doing homage to the long line of his ancestors. Each of these
sculptured monarchs has near him a tablet bearing his name. That great
care was always taken to keep these imposing records correct is certain;
the loyalty of subjects, the devotion of priests, and the family pride
of kings were all combined in this; and how effective this care was,
is seen in the fact that kings now known to be usurpers are carefully
omitted. The lists of court architects, extending over the period from
Seti to Darius, throw a flood of light over the other records.

Comparing, then, all these sources, and applying an average from the
lengths of the long series of well-known reigns to the reigns preceding,
the most careful and cautious scholars have satisfied themselves that
the original fragments of Manetho represent the work of a man honest and
well informed, and, after making all allowances for discrepancies and
the overlapping of reigns, it has become clear that the period known as
the reign of Mena must be fixed at more than three thousand years
B.C. In this the great Egyptologists of our time concur. Mariette,
the eminent French authority, puts the date at 5004 B.C.; Brugsch, the
leading German authority, puts it at about 4500 B.C.; and Meyer, the
latest and most cautious of the historians of antiquity, declares 3180
B.C. the latest possible date that can be assigned it. With these
dates the foremost English authorities, Sayce and Flinders Petrie,
substantially agree. This view is also confirmed on astronomical grounds
by Mr. Lockyer, the Astronomer Royal. We have it, then, as the result of
a century of work by the most acute and trained Egyptologists, and with
the inscriptions upon the temples and papyri before them, both of which
are now read with as much facility as many medieval manuscripts, that
the reign of Mena must be placed more than five thousand years ago.

But the significance of this conclusion can not be fully understood
until we bring into connection with it some other facts revealed by the
Egyptian monuments.

The first of these is that which struck Sir Walter Raleigh, that,
even in the time of the first dynasties in the Nile Valley, a high
civilization had already been developed. Take, first, man himself:
we find sculptured upon the early monuments types of the various
races--Egyptians, Israelites, negroes, and Libyans--as clearly
distinguishable in these paintings and sculptures of from four to six
thousand years ago as the same types are at the present day. No one
can look at these sculptures upon the Egyptian monuments, or even the
drawings of them, as given by Lepsius or Prisse d' Avennes, without
being convinced that they indicate, even at that remote period, a
difference of races so marked that long previous ages must have been
required to produce it.

The social condition of Egypt revealed in these early monuments of art
forces us to the same conclusion. Those earliest monuments show that a
very complex society had even then been developed. We not only have a
separation between the priestly and military orders, but agriculturists,
manufacturers, and traders, with a whole series of subdivisions in
each of these classes. The early tombs show us sculptured and painted
representations of a daily life which even then had been developed into
a vast wealth and variety of grades, forms, and usages.

Take, next, the political and military condition. One fact out of many
reveals a policy which must have been the result of long experience.
Just as now, at the end of the nineteenth century, the British
Government, having found that they can not rely upon the native
Egyptians for the protection of the country, are drilling the negroes
from the interior of Africa as soldiers, so the celebrated inscription
of Prince Una, as far back as the sixth dynasty, speaks of the Maksi or
negroes levied and drilled by tens of thousands for the Egyptian army.

Take, next, engineering. Here we find very early operations in the way
of canals, dikes, and great public edifices, so bold in conception and
thorough in execution as to fill our greatest engineers of these days
with astonishment. The quarrying, conveyance, cutting, jointing, and
polishing of the enormous blocks in the interior of the Great Pyramid
alone are the marvel of the foremost stone-workers of our century.

As regards architecture, we find not only the pyramids, which date from
the very earliest period of Egyptian history, and which are to this hour
the wonder of the world for size, for boldness, for exactness, and for
skilful contrivance, but also the temples, with long ranges of
colossal columns wrought in polished granite, with wonderful beauty of
ornamentation, with architraves and roofs vast in size and exquisite in
adjustment, which by their proportions tax the imagination, and lead the
beholder to ask whether all this can be real.

As to sculpture, we have not only the great Sphinx of Gizeh, so
marvellous in its boldness and dignity, dating from the very first
period of Egyptian history, but we have ranges of sphinxes, heroic
statues, and bas-reliefs, showing that even in the early ages this
branch of art had reached an amazing development.

As regards the perfection of these, Lubke, the most eminent German
authority on plastic art, referring to the early works in the tombs
about Memphis, declares that, "as monuments of the period of the fourth
dynasty, they are an evidence of the high perfection to which the
sculpture of the Egyptians had attained." Brugsch declares that "every
artistic production of those early days, whether picture, writing, or
sculpture, bears the stamp of the highest perfection in art." Maspero,
the most eminent French authority in this field, while expressing his
belief that the Sphinx was sculptured even before the time of Mena,
declares that "the art which conceived and carved this prodigious statue
was a finished art--an art which had attained self-mastery and was sure
of its effects"; while, among the more eminent English authorities,
Sayce tells us that "art is at its best in the age of the
pyramid-builders," and Sir James Fergusson declares, "We are startled to
find Egyptian art nearly as perfect in the oldest periods as in any of
the later."

The evidence as to the high development of Egyptian sculpture in the
earlier dynasties becomes every day more overwhelming. What exquisite
genius the early Egyptian sculptors showed in their lesser statues is
known to all who have seen those most precious specimens in the museum
at Cairo, which were wrought before the conventional type was adopted in
obedience to religious considerations.

In decorative and especially in ceramic art, as early as the fourth
and fifth dynasties, we have vases, cups, and other vessels showing
exquisite beauty of outline and a general sense of form almost if not
quite equal to Etruscan and Grecian work of the best periods.

Take, next, astronomy. Going back to the very earliest period of
Egyptian civilization, we find that the four sides of the Great Pyramid
are adjusted to the cardinal points with the utmost precision. "The day
of the equinox can be taken by observing the sun set across the face of
the pyramid, and the neighbouring Arabs adjust their astronomical dates
by its shadow." Yet this is but one out of many facts which prove that
the Egyptians, at the earliest period of which their monuments exist,
had arrived at knowledge and skill only acquired by long ages of
observation and thought. Mr. Lockyer, Astronomer Royal of Great Britain,
has recently convinced himself, after careful examination of various
ruined temples at Thebes and elsewhere, that they were placed with
reference to observations of stars. To state his conclusion in his own
words: "There seems a very high probability that three thousand, and
possibly four thousand, years before Christ the Egyptians had among them
men with some knowledge of astronomy, and that six thousand years ago
the course of the sun through the year was practically very well known,
and methods had been invented by means of which in time it might
be better known; and that, not very long after that, they not only
considered questions relating to the sun, but began to take up other
questions relating to the position and movement of the stars."

The same view of the antiquity of man in the Nile valley is confirmed by
philologists. To use the words of Max Duncker: "The oldest monuments
of Egypt--and they are the oldest monuments in the world--exhibit the
Egyptian in possession of the art of writing." It is found also, by the
inscriptions of the early dynasties, that the Egyptian language had even
at that early time been developed in all essential particulars to the
highest point it ever attained. What long periods it must have required
for such a development every scholar in philology can imagine.

As regards medical science, we have the Berlin papyrus, which, although
of a later period, refers with careful specification to a medical
literature of the first dynasty.

As regards archaeology, the earliest known inscriptions point to still
earlier events and buildings, indicating a long sequence in previous

As to all that pertains to the history of civilization, no man of fair
and open mind can go into the museums of Cairo or the Louvre or the
British Museum and look at the monuments of those earlier dynasties
without seeing in them the results of a development in art, science,
laws, customs, and language, which must have required a vast period
before the time of Mena. And this conclusion is forced upon us all the
more invincibly when we consider the slow growth of ideas in the earlier
stages of civilization as compared with the later--a slowness of growth
which has kept the natives of many parts of the world in that earliest
civilization to this hour. To this we must add the fact that Egyptian
civilization was especially immobile: its development into castes is but
one among many evidences that it was the very opposite of a civilization
developed rapidly.

As to the length of the period before the time of Mena, there is, of
course, nothing exact. Manetho gives lists of great personages before
that first dynasty, and these extend over twenty-four thousand years.
Bunsen, one of the most learned of Christian scholars, declares that
not less than ten thousand years were necessary for the development of
civilization up to the point where we find it in Mena's time. No one can
claim precision for either of these statements, but they are valuable
as showing the impression of vast antiquity made upon the most competent
judges by the careful study of those remains: no unbiased judge can
doubt that an immensely long period of years must have been required for
the development of civilization up to the state in which we there find

The investigations in the bed of the Nile confirm these views. That some
unwarranted conclusions have at times been announced is true; but the
fact remains that again and again rude pottery and other evidences of
early stages of civilization have been found in borings at places so
distant from each other, and at depths so great, that for such a range
of concurring facts, considered in connection with the rate of earthy
deposit by the Nile, there is no adequate explanation save the existence
of man in that valley thousands on thousands of years before the longest
time admitted by our sacred chronologists.

Nor have these investigations been of a careless character. Between
the years 1851 and 1854, Mr. Horner, an extremely cautious English
geologist, sank ninety-six shafts in four rows at intervals of eight
English miles, at right angles to the Nile, in the neighbourhood of
Memphis. In these pottery was brought up from various depths, and
beneath the statue of Rameses II at Memphis from a depth of thirty-nine
feet. At the rate of the Nile deposit a careful estimate has declared
this to indicate a period of over eleven thousand years. So eminent a
German authority, in geography as Peschel characterizes objections to
such deductions as groundless. However this may be, the general results
of these investigations, taken in connection with the other results of
research, are convincing.

And, finally, as if to make assurance doubly sure, a series of
archaeologists of the highest standing, French, German, English, and
American, have within the past twenty years discovered relics of a
savage period, of vastly earlier date than the time of Mena, prevailing
throughout Egypt. These relics have been discovered in various parts of
the country, from Cairo to Luxor, in great numbers. They are the same
sort of prehistoric implements which prove to us the early existence of
man in so many other parts of the world at a geological period so remote
that the figures given by our sacred chronologists are but trivial. The
last and most convincing of these discoveries, that of flint implements
in the drift, far down below the tombs of early kings at Thebes, and
upon high terraces far above the present bed of the Nile, will be
referred to later.

But it is not in Egypt alone that proofs are found of the utter
inadequacy of the entire chronological system derived from our sacred
books. These results of research in Egypt are strikingly confirmed by
research in Assyria and Babylonia. Prof. Sayce exhibits various proofs
of this. To use his own words regarding one of these proofs: "On the
shelves of the British Museum you may see huge sun-dried bricks, on
which are stamped the names and titles of kings who erected or repaired
the temples where they have been found.... They must... have reigned
before the time when, according to the margins of our Bibles, the Flood
of Noah was covering the earth and reducing such bricks as these to
their primeval slime."

This conclusion was soon placed beyond a doubt. The lists of king's and
collateral inscriptions recovered from the temples of the great valley
between the Tigris and Euphrates, and the records of astronomical
observations in that region, showed that there, too, a powerful
civilization had grown up at a period far earlier than could be made
consistent with our sacred chronology. The science of Assyriology was
thus combined with Egyptology to furnish one more convincing proof that,
precious as are the moral and religious truths in our sacred books
and the historical indications which they give us, these truths
and indications are necessarily inclosed in a setting of myth and

     (184) As to Manetho, see, for a very full account of his relations to
other chronologists, Palmer, Egyptian Chronicles, vol. i, chap. ii.
For a more recent and readable account, see Brugsch, Egypt under the
Pharaohs, English edition, London, 1879, chap. iv. For lists of kings at
Abydos and elsewhere, also the lists of architects, see Brugsch, Palmer,
Mariette, and others; also illustrations in Lepsius. For proofs that the
dynasties given were consecutive and not contemporeaneous, as was
once so fondly argued by those who tried to save Archbishop Usher's
chronology, see Mariette; also Sayce's Herodotus, appendix, p. 316.
For the various race types given on early monuments, see the coloured
engravings in Lepsius, Denkmaler; also Prisse d'Avennes, and the
frontpiece in the English edition of Brugsch; see also statement
regarding the same subject in Tylor, Anthropology, chap. i. For
the fulness of development of Egyptian civilization in the earliest
dynasties, see Rawlinson's Egypt, London, 1881, chap. xiii; also Brugsch
and other works cited. For the perfection of Egyptian engineering,
I rely not merely upon my own observation, but on what is far more
important, the testimony of my friend the Hon. J. G. Batterson, probably
the largest and most experienced worker in granite in the United States,
who acknowledges, from personal observation, that the early Egyptian
work is, in boldness and perfection, far beyond anything known since,
and a source of perpetual wonder to him. As to the perfection of
Egyptian architecture, see very striking statements in Fergusson,
History of Architecture, book i, chap. i. As to the pyramids, showing a
very high grade of culture already reached under the earliest dynasties,
see Lubke, Gesch. der Arch., book i. For Sayce's views, see his
Herodotus, appendix, p. 348. As to sculpture, see for representations
photographs published by the Boulak Museum, and such works as the
Description de l'Egypte, Lepsius's Denkmaler, and Prisse d'Avennes; see
also a most small work, easy of access, Maspero, Archeology, translated
by Miss A. B. Edwards, New York and London, 1887, chaps. i and ii. See
especially in Prisse, vol. ii, the statue of Chafre the Scribe, and the
group of "Tea" and his wife. As to the artistic value of the Sphinx,
see Maspero, as above, pp. 202, 203. See also similar ideas in Lubke's
History of Sculpture, vol. i, p. 24. As to astronomical knowledge
evidenced by the Great Pyramid, see Tylor, as above, p. 21; also
Lockyer, On Some Points in the Early History of Astronomy, in Nature
for 1891, and especially in the issues of June 4th and July 2d; also his
Dawn of Astronomy, passim. For a recent and conservative statement as to
the date of Mena, see Flinders Petrie, History of Egypt, London, 1894,
chap. ii. For delineations of vases, etc., showing Grecian proportion
and beauty of form under the fourth and fifth dynasties, see Prisse,
vol. ii, Art Industriel. As to the philological question, and the
development of language in Egypt, with the hieroglyphic sytem of
writing, see Rawlinson's Egypt, London, 1881, chap. xii; also Lenormanr;
also Max Duncker, Geschichte des Alterthums, Abbott's translation, 1877.
As to the medical papyrus of Berlin, see Brugsch, vol. i, p. 58, but
especially the Papyrus Ebers. As to the corruption of later copies of
Manetho and fidelity of originals as attested by the monuments, see
Brugsch, chap. iv. On the accuracy of the present Egyptian chronology as
regards long periods, see ibid, vol. i, p. 32. As to the pottery found
deep in the Nile and the value of Horner's discovery, see Peschel, Races
of Man, New York, 1876, pp. 42-44. For succinct statement, see also
Laing, Problems of the Future, p. 94. For confirmatory proofs from
Assyriology, see Sayce, Lectures on the Religion of the Babylonians
(Hibbert Lectures for 1887), London, 1887, introductory chapter, and
especially pp. 21-25. See also Laing, Human Origins, chap. ii, for an
excellent summary. For an account of flint implements recently found
in gravel terraces fifteen hundred feet above the present level of the
Nile, and showing evidences of an age vastly greater even than those dug
out of the gravel at Thebes, see article by Flinders Petrie in London
Times of April 18th, 1895.



While the view of chronology based upon the literal acceptance of
Scripture texts was thus shaken by researches in Egypt, another line
of observation and thought was slowly developed, even more fatal to the
theological view.

From a very early period there had been dug from the earth, in various
parts of the world, strangely shaped masses of stone, some rudely
chipped, some polished: in ancient times the larger of these were very
often considered as thunderbolts, the smaller as arrows, and all of
them as weapons which had been hurled by the gods and other supernatural
personages. Hence a sort of sacredness attached to them. In Chaldea,
they were built into the wall of temples; in Egypt, they were strung
about the necks of the dead. In India, fine specimens are to this day
seen upon altars, receiving prayers and sacrifices.

Naturally these beliefs were brought into the Christian mythology and
adapted to it. During the Middle Ages many of these well-wrought stones
were venerated as weapons, which during the "war in heaven" had been
used in driving forth Satan and his hosts; hence in the eleventh century
an Emperor of the East sent to the Emperor of the West a "heaven axe";
and in the twelfth century a Bishop of Rennes asserted the value of
thunder-stones as a divinely-appointed means of securing success in
battle, safety on the sea, security against thunder, and immunity from
unpleasant dreams. Even as late as the seventeenth century a French
ambassador brought a stone hatchet, which still exists in the museum at
Nancy, as a present to the Prince-Bishop of Verdun, and claimed for it
health-giving virtues.

In the last years of the sixteenth century Michael Mercati tried to
prove that the "thunder-stones" were weapons or implements of early
races of men; but from some cause his book was not published until the
following century, when other thinkers had begun to take up the same
idea, and then it had to contend with a theory far more accordant with
theologic modes of reasoning in science. This was the theory of the
learned Tollius, who in 1649 told the world that these chipped or
smoothed stones were "generated in the sky by a fulgurous exhalation
conglobed in a cloud by the circumposed humour."

But about the beginning of the eighteenth century a fact of great
importance was quietly established. In the year 1715 a large pointed
weapon of black flint was found in contact with the bones of an
elephant, in a gravel bed near Gray's Inn Lane, in London. The world in
general paid no heed to this: if the attention of theologians was called
to it, they dismissed it summarily with a reference to the Deluge of
Noah; but the specimen was labelled, the circumstances regarding it were
recorded, and both specimen and record carefully preserved.

In 1723 Jussieu addressed the French Academy on The Origin and Uses of
Thunder-stones. He showed that recent travellers from various parts of
the world had brought a number of weapons and other implements of stone
to France, and that they were essentially similar to what in Europe had
been known as "thunder-stones." A year later this fact was clinched into
the scientific mind of France by the Jesuit Lafitau, who published
a work showing the similarity between the customs of aborigines then
existing in other lands and those of the early inhabitants of Europe. So
began, in these works of Jussieu and Lafitau, the science of Comparative

But it was at their own risk and peril that thinkers drew from these
discoveries any conclusions as to the antiquity of man. Montesquieu,
having ventured to hint, in an early edition of his Persian Letters,
that the world might be much older than had been generally supposed,
was soon made to feel danger both to his book and to himself, so that in
succeeding editions he suppressed the passage.

In 1730 Mahudel presented a paper to the French Academy of Inscriptions
on the so-called "thunder-stones," and also presented a series of plates
which showed that these were stone implements, which must have been used
at an early period in human history.

In 1778 Buffon, in his Epoques de la Nature, intimated his belief that
"thunder-stones" were made by early races of men; but he did not press
this view, and the reason for his reserve was obvious enough: he had
already one quarrel with the theologians on his hands, which had cost
him dear--public retraction and humiliation. His declaration, therefore,
attracted little notice.

In the year 1800 another fact came into the minds of thinking men in
England. In that year John Frere presented to the London Society of
Antiquaries sundry flint implements found in the clay beds near
Hoxne: that they were of human make was certain, and, in view of the
undisturbed depths in which they were found, the theory was suggested
that the men who made them must have lived at a very ancient geological
epoch; yet even this discovery and theory passed like a troublesome
dream, and soon seemed to be forgotten.

About twenty years later Dr. Buckland published a discussion of the
subject, in the light of various discoveries in the drift and in caves.
It received wide attention, but theology was soothed by his temporary
concession that these striking relics of human handiwork, associated
with the remains of various extinct animals, were proofs of the Deluge
of Noah.

In 1823 Boue, of the Vienna Academy of Sciences, showed to Cuvier sundry
human bones found deep in the alluvial deposits of the upper Rhine,
and suggested that they were of an early geological period; this Cuvier
virtually, if not explicitly, denied. Great as he was in his own field,
he was not a great geologist; he, in fact, led geology astray for many
years. Moreover, he lived in a time of reaction; it was the period of
the restored Bourbons, of the Voltairean King Louis XVIII, governing
to please orthodoxy. Boue's discovery was, therefore, at first opposed,
then enveloped in studied silence.

Cuvier evidently thought, as Voltaire had felt under similar
circumstances, that "among wolves one must howl a little"; and his
leading disciple, Elie de Beaumont, who succeeded, him in the sway over
geological science in France, was even more opposed to the new view
than his great master had been. Boue's discoveries were, therefore,
apparently laid to rest forever.(185)

     (185) For the general history of early views regarding stone implements,
see the first chapters in Cartailhac, La France Prehistorique; also
Jolie, L'Homme avant les Metaux; also Lyell, Lubbock, and Evans. For
lightning-stones in China and elsewhere, see citation from a Chinese
encyclopedia of 1662, in Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 209. On the
universality of this belief, on the surviving use of stone implements
even into civilized times, and on their manufacture to-day, see ibid.,
chapter viii. For the treatment of Boue's discovery, see especially
Morillet, Le Prehistorique, Paris, 1885, p. 11. For the suppression of
the passage in Montesquieu's Persian Letters, see Letter 113, cited in
Schlosser's History of the Eighteenth Century (English translation),
vol. i, p. 135.

In 1825 Kent's Cavern, near Torquay, was explored by the Rev. Mr.
McEnery, a Roman Catholic clergyman, who seems to have been completely
overawed by orthodox opinion in England and elsewhere; for, though
he found human bones and implements mingled with remains of extinct
animals, he kept his notes in manuscript, and they were only brought to
light more than thirty years later by Mr. Vivian.

The coming of Charles X, the last of the French Bourbons, to the throne,
made the orthodox pressure even greater. It was the culmination of
the reactionary period--the time in France when a clerical committee,
sitting at the Tuileries, took such measures as were necessary to hold
in check all science that was not perfectly "safe"; the time in Austria
when Kaiser Franz made his famous declaration to sundry professors, that
what he wanted of them was simply to train obedient subjects, and that
those who did not make this their purpose would be dismissed; the time
in Germany when Nicholas of Russia and the princelings and ministers
under his control, from the King of Prussia downward, put forth all
their might in behalf of "scriptural science"; the time in Italy when
a scientific investigator, arriving at any conclusion distrusted by
the Church, was sure of losing his place and in danger of losing his
liberty; the time in England when what little science was taught was
held in due submission to Archdeacon Paley; the time in the United
States when the first thing essential in science was, that it be
adjusted to the ideas of revival exhorters.

Yet men devoted to scientific truth laboured on; and in 1828 Tournal, of
Narbonne, discovered in the cavern of Bize specimens of human industry,
with a fragment of a human skeleton, among bones of extinct animals. In
the following year Christol published accounts of his excavations in the
caverns of Gard; he had found in position, and under conditions which
forbade the idea of after-disturbance, human remains mixed with bones of
the extinct hyena of the early Quaternary period. Little general notice
was taken of this, for the reactionary orthodox atmosphere involved such
discoveries in darkness.

But in the French Revolution of 1830 the old politico-theological system
collapsed: Charles X and his advisers fled for their lives; the other
continental monarchs got glimpses of new light; the priesthood in charge
of education were put on their good behaviour for a time, and a better
era began.

Under the constitutional monarchy of the house of Orleans in France and
Belgium less attention was therefore paid by Government to the saving
of souls; and we have in rapid succession new discoveries of remains
of human industry, and even of human skeletons so mingled with bones of
extinct animals as to give additional proofs that the origin of man was
at a period vastly earlier than any which theologians had dreamed of.

A few years later the reactionary clerical influence against science in
this field rallied again. Schmerling in 1833 had explored a multitude
of caverns in Belgium, especially at Engis and Engihoul, and had found
human skulls and bones closely associated with bones of extinct animals,
such as the cave bear, hyena, elephant, and rhinoceros, while mingled
with these were evidences of human workmanship in the shape of chipped
flint implements; discoveries of a similar sort had been made by
De Serres in France and by Lund in Brazil; but, at least as far as
continental Europe was concerned, these discoveries were received with
much coolness both by Catholic leaders of opinion in France and Belgium
and by Protestant leaders in England and Holland. Schmerling himself
appears to have been overawed, and gave forth a sort of apologetic
theory, half scientific, half theologic, vainly hoping to satisfy the
clerical side.

Nor was it much better in England. Sir Charles Lyell, so devoted a
servant of prehistoric research thirty years later, was still holding
out against it on the scientific side; and, as to the theological
side, it was the period when that great churchman, Dean Cockburn, was
insulting geologists from the pulpit of York Minster, and the Rev.
Mellor Brown denouncing geology as "a black art," "a forbidden province"
and when, in America, Prof. Moses Stuart and others like him were
belittling the work of Benjamin Silliman and Edward Hitchcock.

In 1840 Godwin Austin presented to the Royal Geological Society
an account of his discoveries in Kent's Cavern, near Torquay, and
especially of human bones and implements mingled with bones of the
elephant, rhinoceros, cave bear, hyena, and other extinct animals;
yet this memoir, like that of McEnery fifteen years before, found an
atmosphere so unfavourable that it was not published.


At the middle of the nineteenth century came the beginning of a new
epoch in science--an epoch when all these earlier discoveries were to
be interpreted by means of investigations in a different field: for,
in 1847, a man previously unknown to the world at large, Boucher de
Perthes, published at Paris the first volume of his work on Celtic and
Antediluvian Antiquities, and in this he showed engravings of typical
flint implements and weapons, of which he had discovered thousands upon
thousands in the high drift beds near Abbeville, in northern France.

The significance of this discovery was great indeed--far greater than
Boucher himself at first supposed. The very title of his book showed
that he at first regarded these implements and weapons as having
belonged to men overwhelmed at the Deluge of Noah; but it was soon
seen that they were something very different from proofs of the literal
exactness of Genesis: for they were found in terraces at great heights
above the river Somme, and, under any possible theory having regard to
fact, must have been deposited there at a time when the river system
of northern France was vastly different from anything known within
the historic period. The whole discovery indicated a series of great
geological changes since the time when these implements were made,
requiring cycles of time compared to which the space allowed by the
orthodox chronologists was as nothing.

His work was the result of over ten years of research and thought.
Year after year a force of men under his direction had dug into these
high-terraced gravel deposits of the river Somme, and in his book he
now gave, in the first full form, the results of his labour. So far as
France was concerned, he was met at first by what he calls "a conspiracy
of silence," and then by a contemptuous opposition among orthodox
scientists, at the head of whom stood Elie de Beaumont.

This heavy, sluggish opposition seemed immovable: nothing that Boucher
could do or say appeared to lighten the pressure of the orthodox
theological opinion behind it; not even his belief that these fossils
were remains of men drowned at the Deluge of Noah, and that they were
proofs of the literal exactness of Genesis seemed to help the matter.
His opponents felt instinctively that such discoveries boded danger to
the accepted view, and they were right: Boucher himself soon saw the
folly of trying to account for them by the orthodox theory.

And it must be confessed that not a little force was added to the
opposition by certain characteristics of Boucher de Perthes himself.
Gifted, far-sighted, and vigorous as he was, he was his own worst enemy.
Carried away by his own discoveries, he jumped to the most astounding
conclusions. The engravings in the later volume of his great work,
showing what he thought to be human features and inscriptions upon
some of the flint implements, are worthy of a comic almanac; and at
the National Museum of Archaeology at St. Germain, beneath the shelves
bearing the remains which he discovered, which mark the beginning of a
new epoch in science, are drawers containing specimens hardly worthy of
a penny museum, but from which he drew the most unwarranted inferences
as to the language, religion, and usages of prehistoric man.

Boucher triumphed none the less. Among his bitter opponents at first was
Dr. Rigollot, who in 1855, searching earnestly for materials to refute
the innovator, dug into the deposits of St. Acheul--and was converted:
for he found implements similar to those of Abbeville, making still more
certain the existence of man during the Drift period. So, too, Gaudry a
year later made similar discoveries.

But most important was the evidence of the truth which now came from
other parts of France and from other countries. The French leaders in
geological science had been held back not only by awe of Cuvier but by
recollections of Scheuchzer. Ridicule has always been a serious weapon
in France, and the ridicule which finally overtook the supporters of
the attempt of Scheuchzer, Mazurier, and others, to square geology with
Genesis, was still remembered. From the great body of French geologists,
therefore, Boucher secured at first no aid. His support came from the
other side of the Channel. The most eminent English geologists, such as
Falconer, Prestwich, and Lyell, visited the beds at Abbeville and St.
Acheul, convinced themselves that the discoveries of Boucher, Rigollot,
and their colleagues were real, and then quietly but firmly told England
the truth.

And now there appeared a most effective ally in France. The
arguments used against Boucher de Perthes and some of the other early
investigators of bone caves had been that the implements found might
have been washed about and turned over by great floods, and therefore
that they might be of a recent period; but in 1861 Edward Lartet
published an account of his own excavations at the Grotto of Aurignac,
and the proof that man had existed in the time of the Quaternary animals
was complete. This grotto had been carefully sealed in prehistoric times
by a stone at its entrance; no interference from disturbing currents of
water had been possible; and Lartet found, in place, bones of eight out
of nine of the main species of animals which characterize the Quaternary
period in Europe; and upon them marks of cutting implements, and in the
midst of them coals and ashes.

Close upon these came the excavations at Eyzies by Lartet and his
English colleague, Christy. In both these men there was a carefulness in
making researches and a sobriety in stating results which converted many
of those who had been repelled by the enthusiasm of Boucher de Perthes.
The two colleagues found in the stony deposits made by the water
dropping from the roof of the cave at Eyzies the bones of numerous
animals extinct or departed to arctic regions--one of these a vertebra
of a reindeer with a flint lance-head still fast in it, and with these
were found evidences of fire.

Discoveries like these were thoroughly convincing; yet there still
remained here and there gainsayers in the supposed interest of
Scripture, and these, in spite of the convincing array of facts,
insisted that in some way, by some combination of circumstances, these
bones of extinct animals of vastly remote periods might have been
brought into connection with all these human bones and implements of
human make in all these different places, refusing to admit that
these ancient relics of men and animals were of the same period. Such
gainsayers virtually adopted the reasoning of quaint old Persons, who,
having maintained that God created the world "about five thousand sixe
hundred and odde yeares agoe," added, "And if they aske what God was
doing before this short number of yeares, we answere with St. Augustine
replying to such curious questioners, that He was framing Hell for
them." But a new class of discoveries came to silence this opposition.
At La Madeleine in France, at the Kessler cave in Switzerland, and
at various other places, were found rude but striking carvings and
engravings on bone and stone representing sundry specimens of those
long-vanished species; and these specimens, or casts of them, were soon
to be seen in all the principal museums. They showed the hairy mammoth,
the cave bear, and various other animals of the Quaternary period,
carved rudely but vigorously by contemporary men; and, to complete the
significance of these discoveries, travellers returning from the
icy regions of North America brought similar carvings of animals now
existing in those regions, made by the Eskimos during their long arctic
winters to-day.(186)

     (186) For the explorations in Belgium, see Dupont, Le Temps
Prehistorique en Belgique. For the discoveries by McEnery and Godwin
Austin, see Lubbock, Prehistoric Times, London, 1869, chap. x; also
Cartailhac, Joly, and others above cited. For Boucher de Perthes, see
his Antiquites Celtiques et Antediluviennes, Paris, 1847-'64, vol. iii,
pp. 526 et seq. For sundry extravagances of Boucher de Perthes, see
Reinach, Description raisonne du Musee de St.-Germain-en-Laye, Paris,
1889, vol. i, pp. 16 et seq. For the mixture of sound and absurd results
in Boucher's work, see Cartailhac as above, p. 19. Boucher had published
in 1838 a work entitled De la Creation, but it seems to have dropped
dead from the press. For the attempts of Scheuchzer to reconcile geology
and Genesis by means of the Homo diluvii testis, and similar "diluvian
fossils," see the chapter on Geology in this series. The original
specimens of these prehistoric engravings upon bone and stone may best
be seen at the Archaeological Museum of St.-Germain and the British
Museum. For engravings of some of the most recent, see especially
Dawkin's Early Man in Britain, chap. vii, and the Description du Musee
de St.-Germain. As to the Kessler etchings and their antiquity, see
D. G. Brinton, in Science, August 12, 1892. For comparison of this
prehistoric work with that produced to-day by the Eskimos and others,
see Lubbock, Prehistoric Times, chapters x and xiv. For very striking
exhibitions of this same artistic gift in a higher field to-day by
descendants of the barbarian tribes of northern America, see the very
remarkable illustrations in Rink, Danish Greenland, London, 1877,
especially those in chap. xiv.

As a result of these discoveries and others like them, showing that man
was not only contemporary with long-extinct animals of past geological
epochs, but that he had already developed into a stage of culture above
pure savagery, the tide of thought began to turn. Especially was this
seen in 1863, when Lyell published the first edition of his Geological
Evidence of the Antiquity of Man; and the fact that he had so long
opposed the new ideas gave force to the clear and conclusive argument
which led him to renounce his early scientific beliefs.

Research among the evidences of man's existence in the early Quaternary,
and possibly in the Tertiary period, was now pressed forward along the
whole line. In 1864 Gabriel Mortillet founded his review devoted to
this subject; and in 1865 the first of a series of scientific congresses
devoted to such researches was held in Italy. These investigations
went on vigorously in all parts of France and spread rapidly to other
countries. The explorations which Dupont began in 1864, in the caves
of Belgium, gave to the museum at Brussels eighty thousand flint
implements, forty thousand bones of animals of the Quaternary period,
and a number of human skulls and bones found mingled with these remains.
From Germany, Italy, Spain, America, India, and Egypt similar results
were reported.

Especially noteworthy were the further explorations of the caves and
drift throughout the British Islands. The discovery by Colonel Wood, In
1861, of flint tools in the same strata with bones of the earlier forms
of the rhinoceros, was but typical of many. A thorough examination of
the caverns of Brixham and Torquay, by Pengelly and others, made it
still more evident that man had existed in the early Quaternary period.
The existence of a period before the Glacial epoch or between different
glacial epochs in England, when the Englishman was a savage, using rude
stone tools, was then fully ascertained, and, what was more significant,
there were clearly shown a gradation and evolution even in the history
of that period. It was found that this ancient Stone epoch showed
progress and development. In the upper layers of the caves, with remains
of the reindeer, who, although he has migrated from these regions, still
exists in more northern climates, were found stone implements revealing
some little advance in civilization; next below these, sealed up in
the stalagmite, came, as a rule, another layer, in which the remains
of reindeer were rare and those of the mammoth more frequent, the
implements found in this stratum being less skilfully made than those
in the upper and more recent layers; and, finally, in the lowest levels,
near the floors of these ancient caverns, with remains of the cave
bear and others of the most ancient extinct animals, were found stone
implements evidently of a yet ruder and earlier stage of human progress.
No fairly unprejudiced man can visit the cave and museum at Torquay
without being convinced that there were a gradation and an evolution in
these beginnings of human civilization. The evidence is complete;
the masses of breccia taken from the cave, with the various soils,
implements, and bones carefully kept in place, put this progress beyond
a doubt.

All this indicated a great antiquity for the human race, but in it lay
the germs of still another great truth, even more important and more
serious in its consequences to the older theologic view, which will be
discussed in the following chapter.

But new evidences came in, showing a yet greater antiquity of man.
Remains of animals were found in connection with human remains, which
showed not only that man was living in times more remote than the
earlier of the new investigators had dared dream, but that some of
these early periods of his existence must have been of immense length,
embracing climatic changes betokening different geological periods; for
with remains of fire and human implements and human bones were found not
only bones of the hairy mammoth and cave bear, woolly rhinoceros, and
reindeer, which could only have been deposited there in a time of arctic
cold, but bones of the hyena, hippopotamus, sabre-toothed tiger, and
the like, which could only have been deposited when there was in these
regions a torrid climate. The conjunction of these remains clearly
showed that man had lived in England early enough and long enough to
pass through times when there was arctic cold and times when there was
torrid heat; times when great glaciers stretched far down into England
and indeed into the continent, and times when England had a land
connection with the European continent, and the European continent with
Africa, allowing tropical animals to migrate freely from Africa to the
middle regions of England.

The question of the origin of man at a period vastly earlier than the
sacred chronologists permitted was thus absolutely settled, but among
the questions regarding the existence of man at a period yet more
remote, the Drift period, there was one which for a time seemed to give
the champions of science some difficulty. The orthodox leaders in the
time of Boucher de Perthes, and for a considerable time afterward, had
a weapon of which they made vigorous use: the statement that no human
bones had yet been discovered in the drift. The supporters of science
naturally answered that few if any other bones as small as those of man
had been found, and that this fact was an additional proof of the great
length of the period since man had lived with the extinct animals; for,
since specimens of human workmanship proved man's existence as fully as
remains of his bones could do, the absence or even rarity of human and
other small bones simply indicated the long periods of time required for
dissolving them away.

Yet Boucher, inspired by the genius he had already shown, and filled
with the spirit of prophecy, declared that human bones would yet be
found in the midst of the flint implements, and in 1863 he claimed that
this prophecy had been fulfilled by the discovery at Moulin Quignon of
a portion of a human jaw deep in the early Quaternary deposits. But his
triumph was short-lived: the opposition ridiculed his discovery; they
showed that he had offered a premium to his workmen for the discovery
of human remains, and they naturally drew the inference that some
tricky labourer had deceived him. The result of this was that the men
of science felt obliged to acknowledge that the Moulin Quignon discovery
was not proven.

But ere long human bones were found in the deposits of the early
Quaternary period, or indeed of an earlier period, in various other
parts of the world, and the question regarding the Moulin Quignon relic
was of little importance.

We have seen that researches regarding the existence of prehistoric
man in England and on the Continent were at first mainly made in the
caverns; but the existence of man in the earliest Quaternary period
was confirmed on both sides of the English Channel, in a way even
more striking, by the close examination of the drift and early gravel
deposits. The results arrived at by Boucher de Perthes were amply
confirmed in England. Rude stone implements were found in terraces a
hundred feet and more above the levels at which various rivers of Great
Britain now flow, and under circumstances which show that, at the time
when they were deposited, the rivers of Great Britain in many cases were
entirely different from those of the present period, and formed parts
of the river system of the European continent. Researches in the high
terraces above the Thames and the Ouse, as well as at other points in
Great Britain, placed beyond a doubt the fact that man existed on the
British Islands at a time when they were connected by solid land
with the Continent, and made it clear that, within the period of the
existence of man in northern Europe, a large portion of the British
Islands had been sunk to depths between fifteen hundred and twenty-five
hundred feet beneath the Northern Ocean,--had risen again from the
water,--had formed part of the continent of Europe, and had been in
unbroken connection with Africa, so that elephants, bears, tigers,
lions, the rhinoceros and hippopotamus, of species now mainly extinct,
had left their bones in the same deposits with human implements as far
north as Yorkshire. Moreover, connected with this fact came in the new
conviction, forced upon geologists by the more careful examination of
the earth and its changes, that such elevations and depressions of Great
Britain and other parts of the world were not necessarily the results
of sudden cataclysms, but generally of slow processes extending through
vast cycles of years--processes such as are now known to be going on in
various parts of the world. Thus it was that the six or seven thousand
years allowed by the most liberal theologians of former times were seen
more and more clearly to be but a mere nothing in the long succession of
ages since the appearance of man.

Confirmation of these results was received from various other parts of
the world. In Africa came the discovery of flint implements deep in the
hard gravel of the Nile Valley at Luxor and on the high hills behind
Esneh. In America the discoveries at Trenton, N.J., and at various
places in Delaware, Ohio, Minnesota, and elsewhere, along the southern
edge of the drift of the Glacial epochs, clinched the new scientific
truth yet more firmly; and the statement made by an eminent American
authority is, that "man was on this continent when the climate and ice
of Greenland extended to the mouth of New York harbour." The discoveries
of prehistoric remains on the Pacific coast, and especially in British
Columbia, finished completely the last chance at a reasonable contention
by the adherents of the older view. As to these investigations on the
Pacific slope of the United States, the discoveries of Whitney and
others in California had been so made and announced that the judgment of
scientific men regarding them was suspended until the visit of perhaps
the greatest living authority in his department, Alfred Russel Wallace,
in 1887. He confirmed the view of Prof. Whitney and others with the
statement that "both the actual remains and works of man found deep
under the lava-flows of Pliocene age show that he existed in the
New World at least as early as in the Old." To this may be added the
discoveries in British Columbia, which prove that, since man existed in
these regions, "valleys have been filled up by drift from the waste of
mountains to a depth in some cases of fifteen hundred feet; this covered
by a succession of tuffs, ashes, and lava-streams from volcanoes long
since extinct, and finally cut down by the present rivers through beds
of solid basalt, and through this accumulation of lavas and gravels."
The immense antiquity of the human remains in the gravels of the Pacific
coast is summed up by a most eminent English authority and declared
to be proved, "first, by the present river systems being of subsequent
date, sometimes cutting through them and their superincumbent lava-cap
to a depth of two thousand feet; secondly, by the great denudation that
has taken place since they were deposited, for they sometimes lie on the
summits of mountains six thousand feet high; thirdly, by the fact that
the Sierra Nevada has been partly elevated since their formation."(187)

     (187) For the general subject of investigations in British prehistoric
remains, see especially Boyd Dawkins, Early Man in Britain and his Place
in the Tertiary Period, London, 1880. For Boucher de Perthes's account
of his discovery of the human jaw at Moulin Quignon, see his Antiquites
Celtiques et Antediluviennes, vol. iii, p. 542 et seq., Appendix. For an
excellent account of special investigations in the high terraces above
the Thames, see J. Allen Brown, F. G. S., Palaeolithic Man in Northwest
Middlesex, London, 1887. For discoveries in America, and the citations
regarding them, see Wright, the Ice Age in North America, New York,
1889, chap. xxi. Very remarkable examples of these specimens from
the drift at Trenton may be seen in Prof. Abbott's collections at the
University of Pennsylvania. For an admirable statement, see Prof. Henry
W. Haynes, in Wright, as above. For proofs of the vast antiquity of man
upon the Pacific coast, cited in the text, see Skertchley, F. G. S., in
the Journal of the Anthropological Institute for 1887, p. 336; see also
Wallace, Darwinism, London, 1890, chap. xv; and for a striking summary
of the evidence that man lived before the last submergence of Britain,
see Brown, Palaeolithic Man in Northwest Middlesex, as above cited.
For proofs that man existed in a period when the streams were flowing
hundreds of feet above their present level, see ibid., p. 33. As to the
evidence of the action of the sea and of glacial action in the Welsh
bone caves after the remains of extinct animals and weapons of human
workmanship had been deposited, see ibid., p. 198. For a good statement
of the slowness of the submergance and emergence of Great Britain, with
an illustration from the rising of the shore of Finland, see ibid.,
pp. 47, 48. As to the flint implements of Palaeolithic man in the high
terraced gravels throughout the Thames Valley, associated with bones of
the mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, etc., see Brown, p. 31. For still
more conclusive proofs that man inhabited North Wales before the last
submergence of the greater part of the British Islands to a depth of
twelve hundred to fourteen hundred feet, see ibid., pp. 199, 200. For
maps showing the connection of the British river system with that of the
Continent, see Boyd Dawkins, Early Man in Britain, London, 1880, pp.
18, 41, 73; also Lyell, Antiquity of Man, chap. xiv. As to the long
continuance of the early Stone period, see James Geikie, The Great Ice
Age, New York, 1888, p. 402. As to the impossibility of the animals of
the arctic and torrid regions living together or visiting the same place
at different times in the same year, see Geikie, as above, pp. 421
et seq.; and for a conclusive argument that the animals of the period
assigned lived in England not since, but before, the Glacial period,
or in the intergalcial period, see ibid., p. 459. For a very candid
statement by perhaps the foremost leader of the theological rear-guard,
admitting the insuperable difficulties presented by the Old Testament
chronology as regards the Creation and the Deluge, see the Duke of
Argyll's Primeval Man, pp. 90-100, and especially pp. 93, 124. For a
succinct statement on the general subject, see Laing, Problems of the
Future, London, 1889, chapters v and vi. For discoveries of prehistoric
implements in India, see notes by Bruce Foote, F. G. S., in the British
Journal of the Anthropological Institute for 1886 and 1887. For
similar discoveries in South Africa, see Gooch, in Journal of the
Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. xi, pp. 124
et seq. For proofs of the existance of Palaeolithic man in Egypt, see
Mook, Haynes, Pitt-Rivers, Flinders-Petrie, and others, cited at length
in the next chapter. For the corroborative and concurrent testimony
of ethnology, philology, and history to the vast antiquity of man, see
Tylor, Anthropology, chap. i.

As an important supplement to these discoveries of ancient implements
came sundry comparisons made by eminent physiologists between human
skulls and bones found in different places and under circumstances
showing vast antiquity.

Human bones had been found under such circumstances as early as 1835
at Cannstadt near Stuttgart, and in 1856 in the Neanderthal near
Dusseldorf; but in more recent searches they had been discovered in a
multitude of places, especially in Germany, France, Belgium, England,
the Caucasus, Africa, and North and South America. Comparison of these
bones showed that even in that remote Quaternary period there were great
differences of race, and here again came in an argument for the yet
earlier existence of man on the earth; for long previous periods must
have been required to develop such racial differences. Considerations
of this kind gave a new impulse to the belief that man's existence might
even date back into the Tertiary period. The evidence for this earlier
origin of man was ably summed up, not only by its brilliant advocate,
Mortillet, but by a former opponent, one of the most conservative of
modern anthropologists, Quatrefages; and the conclusion arrived at
by both was, that man did really exist in the Tertiary period. The
acceptance of this conclusion was also seen in the more recent work
of Alfred Russel Wallace, who, though very cautious and conservative,
placed the origin of man not only in the Tertiary period, but in an
earlier stage of it than most had dared assign--even in the Miocene.

The first thing raising a strong presumption, if not giving proof, that
man existed in the Tertiary, was the fact that from all explored
parts of the world came in more and more evidence that in the earlier
Quaternary man existed in different, strongly marked races and in great
numbers. From all regions which geologists had explored, even from
those the most distant and different from each other, came this same
evidence--from northern Europe to southern Africa; from France to China;
from New Jersey to British Columbia; from British Columbia to Peru. The
development of man in such numbers and in so many different regions,
with such differences of race and at so early a period, must have
required a long previous time.

This argument was strengthened by discoveries of bones bearing marks
apparently made by cutting instruments, in the Tertiary formations of
France and Italy, and by the discoveries of what were claimed to be
flint implements by the Abbe Bourgeois in France, and of implements and
human bones by Prof. Capellini in Italy.

On the other hand, some of the more cautious men of science are still
content to say that the existence of man in the Tertiary period is not
yet proven. As to his existence throughout the Quaternary epoch, no new
proofs are needed; even so determined a supporter of the theological
side as the Duke of Argyll has been forced to yield to the evidence.

Of attempts to make an exact chronological statement throwing light on
the length of the various prehistoric periods, the most notable have
been those by M. Morlot, on the accumulated strata of the Lake of
Geneva; by Gillieron, on the silt of Lake Neufchatel; by Horner, in the
delta deposits of Egypt; and by Riddle, in the delta of the Mississippi.
But while these have failed to give anything like an exact result,
all these investigations together point to the central truth, so amply
established, of the vast antiquity of man, and the utter inadequacy of
the chronology given in our sacred books. The period of man's past life
upon our planet, which has been fixed by the universal Church, "always,
everywhere, and by all," is thus perfectly proved to be insignificant
compared with those vast geological epochs during which man is now known
to have existed.(188)

     (188) As to the evidence of man in the Tertiary period, see works
already cited, especially Quatrefages, Cartailhac, and Mortillet. For an
admirable summary, see Laing, Human Origins, chap. viii. See also, for
a summing up of the evidence in favour of man in the Tertiary period,
Quatrefages, History Generale des Races Humaines, in the Bibliotheque
Ethnologique, Paris, 1887, chap. iv. As to the earlier view, see Vogt,
Lectures on Man, London, 1864, lecture xi. For a thorough and convincing
refutation of Sir J. W. Dawson's attempt to make the old and new Stone
periods coincide, see H. W. Haynes, in chap. vi of the History of
America, edited by Justin Winsor. For development of various important
points in the relation of anthropology to the human occupancy of our
planet, see Topinard, Anthropology, London, 1890, chap. ix.


In the previous chapters we have seen how science, especially within
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, has thoroughly changed the
intelligent thought of the world in regard to the antiquity of man upon
our planet; and how the fabric built upon the chronological indications
in our sacred books--first, by the early fathers of the Church,
afterward by the medieval doctors, and finally by the reformers and
modern orthodox chronologists--has virtually disappeared before an
entirely different view forced upon us, especially by Egyptian and
Assyrian studies, as well as by geology and archeology.

In this chapter I purpose to present some outlines of the work of
Anthropology, especially as assisted by Ethnology, in showing what the
evolution of human civilization has been.

Here, too, the change from the old theological view based upon the
letter of our sacred books to the modern scientific view based upon
evidence absolutely irrefragable is complete. Here, too, we are at the
beginning of a vast change in the basis and modes of thought upon man--a
change even more striking than that accomplished by Copernicus and
Galileo, when they substituted for a universe in which sun and planets
revolved about the earth a universe in which the earth is but the merest
grain or atom revolving with other worlds, larger and smaller, about the
sun; and all these forming but one among innumerable systems.

Ever since the beginning of man's effective thinking upon the great
problems around him, two antagonistic views have existed regarding the
life of the human race upon earth. The first of these is the belief that
man was created "in the beginning" a perfect being, endowed with the
highest moral and intellectual powers, but that there came a "fall,"
and, as its result, the entrance into the world of evil, toil, sorrow,
and death.

Nothing could be more natural than such an explanation of the existence
of evil, in times when men saw everywhere miracle and nowhere law. It
is, under such circumstances, by far the most easy of explanations, for
it is in accordance with the appearances of things: men adopted it just
as naturally as they adopted the theory that the Almighty hangs up the
stars as lights in the solid firmament above the earth, or hides the sun
behind a mountain at night, or wheels the planets around the earth, or
flings comets as "signs and wonders" to scare a wicked world, or allows
evil spirits to control thunder, lightning, and storm, and to cause
diseases of body and mind, or opens the "windows of heaven" to let down
"the waters that be above the heavens," and thus to give rain upon the

A belief, then, in a primeval period of innocence and perfection--moral,
intellectual, and physical--from which men for some fault fell, is
perfectly in accordance with what we should expect.

Among the earliest known records of our race we find this view taking
shape in the Chaldean legends of war between the gods, and of a fall of
man; both of which seemed necessary to explain the existence of evil.

In Greek mythology perhaps the best-known statement was made by Hesiod:
to him it was revealed, regarding the men of the most ancient times,
that they were at first "a golden race," that "as gods they were wont
to live, with a life void of care, without labour and trouble; nor was
wretched old age at all impending; but ever did they delight themselves
out of the reach of all ills, and they died as if overcome by sleep;
all blessings were theirs: of its own will the fruitful field would bear
them fruit, much and ample, and they gladly used to reap the labours
of their hands in quietness along with many good things, being rich in
flocks and true to the blessed gods." But there came a "fall," caused
by human curiosity. Pandora, the first woman created, received a vase
which, by divine command, was to remain closed; but she was tempted to
open it, and troubles, sorrow, and disease escaped into the world, hope
alone remaining.

So, too, in Roman mythological poetry the well-known picture by Ovid
is but one among the many exhibitions of this same belief in a primeval
golden age--a Saturnian cycle; one of the constantly recurring attempts,
so universal and so natural in the early history of man, to account for
the existence of evil, care, and toil on earth by explanatory myths and

This view, growing out of the myths, legends, and theologies of earlier
peoples, we also find embodied in the sacred tradition of the Jews,
and especially in one of the documents which form the impressive poem
beginning the books attributed to Moses. As to the Christian Church, no
word of its Blessed Founder indicates that it was committed by him to
this theory, or that he even thought it worthy of his attention. How,
like so many other dogmas never dreamed of by Jesus of Nazareth and
those who knew him best, it was developed, it does not lie within the
province of this chapter to point out; nor is it worth our while to
dwell upon its evolution in the early Church, in the Middle Ages, at the
Reformation, and in various branches of the Protestant Church: suffice
it that, though among English-speaking nations by far the most important
influence in its favour has come from Milton's inspiration rather than
from that of older sacred books, no doctrine has been more universally
accepted, "always, everywhere, and by all," from the earliest fathers of
the Church down to the present hour.

On the other hand appeared at an early period the opposite view--that
mankind, instead of having fallen from a high intellectual, moral, and
religious condition, has slowly risen from low and brutal beginnings.
In Greece, among the philosophers contemporary with Socrates, we find
Critias depicting a rise of man, from a time when he was beastlike
and lawless, through a period when laws were developed, to a time
when morality received enforcement from religion; but among all the
statements of this theory the most noteworthy is that given by Lucretius
in his great poem on The Nature of Things. Despite its errors, it
remains among the most remarkable examples of prophetic insight in
the history of our race. The inspiration of Lucretius gave him
almost miraculous glimpses of truth; his view of the development
of civilization from the rudest beginnings to the height of its
achievements is a wonderful growth, rooted in observation and thought,
branching forth into a multitude of striking facts and fancies; and
among these is the statement regarding the sequence of inventions:

"Man's earliest arms were fingers, teeth, and nails, And stones and
fragments from the branching woods; Then copper next; and last, as
latest traced, The tyrant, iron."

Thus did the poet prophesy one of the most fruitful achievements of
modern science: the discovery of that series of epochs which has been so
carefully studied in our century.

Very striking, also, is the statement of Horace, though his idea is
evidently derived from Lucretius. He dwells upon man's first condition
on earth as low and bestial, and pictures him lurking in caves,
progressing from the use of his fists and nails, first to clubs, then
to arms which he had learned to forge, and, finally, to the invention of
the names of things, to literature, and to laws.(189)

     (189) For the passage in Hesiod, as given, see the Works and Days, lines
109-120, in Banks's translation. As to Horace, see the Satires, i, 3,
99. As to the relation of the poetic account of the Fall in Genesis to
Chaldean myths, see Smith, Chaldean Account of Genesis, pp. 13, 17. For
a very instructive separation of the Jehovistic and Elohistic parts
of Genesis, with the account of the "Fall" as given in the former, see
Lenormant, La Genese, Paris, 1883, pp. 166-168; also Bacon, Genesis of
Genesis. Of the lines of Lucretius--

"Arma antiqua, manus, ungues, dentesque fuerunt, Et lapides, et item
sylvarum fragmina rami, Posterius ferri vis est, aerisque reperta, Sed
prior aeris erat, quam ferri cognitus usus"---

the translation is that of Good. For a more exact prose translation, see
Munro's Lucretius, fourth edition, which is much more careful, at least
in the proof-reading, than the first edition. As regards Lucretius's
propheitc insight into some of the greatest conclusions of modern
science, see Munro's translation and notes, fourth edition, book v,
notes ii, p. 335. On the relation of several passages in Horace to the
ideas of Lucretius, see Munro as above. For the passage from Luther, see
the Table Talk, Hazlitt's translation, p. 242.

During the mediaeval ages of faith this view was almost entirely
obscured, and at the Reformation it seemed likely to remain so. Typical
of the simplicity of belief in "the Fall" cherished among the Reformers
is Luther's declaration regarding Adam and Eve. He tells us, "they
entered into the garden about noon, and having a desire to eat, she took
the apple; then came the fall--according to our account at about
two o'clock." But in the revival of learning the old eclipsed truth
reappeared, and in the first part of the seventeenth century we find
that, among the crimes for which Vanini was sentenced at Toulouse to
have his tongue torn out and to be burned alive, was his belief that
there is a gradation extending upward from the lowest to the highest
form of created beings.

Yet, in the same century, the writings of Bodin, Bacon, Descartes, and
Pascal were evidently undermining the old idea of "the Fall." Bodin
especially, brilliant as were his services to orthodoxy, argued lucidly
against the doctrine of general human deterioration.

Early in the eighteenth century Vico presented the philosophy of history
as an upward movement of man out of animalism and barbarism. This idea
took firm hold upon human thought, and in the following centuries such
men as Lessing and Turgot gave new force to it.

The investigations of the last forty years have shown that Lucretius and
Horace were inspired prophets: what they saw by the exercise of reason
illumined by poetic genius, has been now thoroughly based upon facts
carefully ascertained and arranged--until Thomsen and Nilsson, the
northern archaeologists, have brought these prophecies to evident
fulfilment, by presenting a scientific classification dividing the age
of prehistoric man in various parts of the world between an old stone
period, a new stone period, a period of beaten copper, a period of
bronze, and a period of iron, and arraying vast masses of facts from all
parts of the world, fitting thoroughly into each other, strengthening
each other, and showing beyond a doubt that, instead of a FALL, there
has been a RISE of man, from the earliest indications in the Quaternary,
or even, possibly, in the Tertiary period.(190)

     (190) For Vanini, see Topinard, Elements of Anthropologie, p. 52. For a
brief and careful summary of the agency of Eccard in Germany, Goguet
in France, Hoare in England, and others in various parts of Europe, as
regards this development of the scientific view during the eighteenth
century, see Mortillet, Le Prehistorique, Paris, 1885, chap. i. For the
agency of Bodin, Bacon, Descartes, and Pascal, see Flint, Philosophy
of History, introduction, pp. 28 et seq. For a shorter summary,
see Lubbock, Prehistoric Man. For the statements by the northern
archaeologists, see Nilsson, Worsaae, and the other main works cited in
this article. For a generous statement regarding the great services of
the Danish archaeologists in this field, see Quatrefages, introduction
to Cartailhac, Les Ages Prehistoriques de l'Espagne et du Portugal.

The first blow at the fully developed doctrine of "the Fall" came, as
we have seen, from geology. According to that doctrine, as held quite
generally from its beginnings among the fathers and doctors of
the primitive Church down to its culmination in the minds of great
Protestants like John Wesley, the statement in our sacred books
that "death entered the world by sin" was taken as a historic fact,
necessitating the conclusion that, before the serpent persuaded Eve to
eat of the forbidden fruit, death on our planet was unknown. Naturally,
when geology revealed, in the strata of a period long before the coming
of man on earth, a vast multitude of carnivorous tribes fitted
to destroy their fellow-creatures on land and sea, and within the
fossilized skeletons of many of these the partially digested remains of
animals, this doctrine was too heavy to be carried, and it was quietly

But about the middle of the nineteenth century the doctrine of the
rise of man as opposed to the doctrine of his "fall" received a great
accession of strength from a source most unexpected. As we saw in the
last chapter, the facts proving the great antiquity of man foreshadowed
a new and even more remarkable idea regarding him. We saw, it is true,
that the opponents of Boucher de Perthes, while they could not deny his
discovery of human implements in the drift, were successful in securing
a verdict of "Not proven" as regarded his discovery of human bones; but
their triumph was short-lived. Many previous discoveries, little thought
of up to that time, began to be studied, and others were added which
resulted not merely in confirming the truth regarding the antiquity of
man, but in establishing another doctrine which the opponents of science
regarded with vastly greater dislike--the doctrine that man has not
fallen from an original high estate in which he was created about six
thousand years ago, but that, from a period vastly earlier than any
warranted by the sacred chronologists, he has been, in spite of lapses
and deteriorations, rising.

A brief review of this new growth of truth may be useful. As early as
1835 Prof. Jaeger had brought out from a quantity of Quaternary remains
dug up long before at Cannstadt, near Stuttgart, a portion of a human
skull, apparently of very low type. A battle raged about it for a time,
but this finally subsided, owing to uncertainties arising from the
circumstances of the discovery.

In 1856, in the Neanderthal, near Dusseldorf, among Quaternary remains
gathered on the floor of a grotto, another skull was found bearing
the same evidence of a low human type. As in the case of the Cannstadt
skull, this again was fiercely debated, and finally the questions
regarding it were allowed to remain in suspense. But new discoveries
were made: at Eguisheim, at Brux, at Spy, and elsewhere, human skulls
were found of a similarly low type; and, while each of the earlier
discoveries was open to debate, and either, had no other been
discovered, might have been considered an abnormal specimen, the
combination of all these showed conclusively that not only had a race of
men existed at that remote period, but that it was of a type as low as
the lowest, perhaps below the lowest, now known.

Research was now redoubled, and, as a result, human skulls and complete
skeletons of various types began to be discovered in the ancient
deposits of many other parts of the world, and especially in France,
Belgium, Germany, the Caucasus, Africa, and North and South America.

But soon began to emerge from all these discoveries a fact of enormous
importance. The skulls and bones found at Cro Magnon, Solutre, Furfooz,
Grenelle, and elsewhere, were compared, and it was thus made certain
that various races had already appeared and lived in various grades of
civilization, even in those exceedingly remote epochs; that even then
there were various strata of humanity ranging from races of a very low
to those of a very high type; and that upon any theory--certainly upon
the theory of the origin of mankind from a single pair--two things were
evident: first, that long, slow processes during vast periods of time
must have been required for the differentiation of these races, and for
the evolution of man up to the point where the better specimens show
him, certainly in the early Quaternary and perhaps in the Tertiary
period; and, secondly, that there had been from the first appearance of
man, of which we have any traces, an UPWARD tendency.(191)

     (191) For Wesley's statement of the amazing consequences of the entrance
of death into the world by sin, see citations in his sermon on The Fall
of Man in the chapter on Geology. For Boucher de Perthes, see his Life
by Ledieu, especially chapters v and xix; also letters in the appendix;
also Les Antiquities Celtiques et Antediluviennes, as cited in previous
chapters of this work. For an account of the Neanderthal man and other
remains mentioned, see Quatrefages, Human Species, chap. xxvi; also
Mortillet, Le Prehistorique, Paris, 1885, pp. 232 et seq.; also other
writers cited in this chapter. For the other discoveries mentioned, see
the same sources. For an engraving of the skull and the restored human
face of the Neanderthal man, see Reinach, Antiquities Nationales, etc.,
vol. i, p. 138. For the vast regions over which that early race spread,
see Quatrefages as above, p. 307. See also the same author, Histoire
Generale des Races Humaines, in the Bibliotheque Ethnologique, Paris,
1887, p. 4. In the vast mass of literature bearing on this subject, see
Quatrefages, Dupont, Reinach, Joly, Mortillet, Tylor, and Lubbock, in
works cited through these chapters.

This second conclusion, the upward tendency of man from low beginnings,
was made more and more clear by bringing into relations with these
remains of human bodies and of extinct animals the remains of human
handiwork. As stated in the last chapter, the river drift and bone
caves in Great Britain, France, and other parts of the world, revealed a
progression, even in the various divisions of the earliest Stone period;
for, beginning at the very lowest strata of these remains, on the floors
of the caverns, associated mainly with the bones of extinct animals,
such as the cave bear, the hairy elephant, and the like, were the rudest
implements then, in strata above these, sealed in the stalagmite of the
cavern floors, lying with the bones of animals extinct but more recent,
stone implements were found, still rude, but, as a rule, of an improved
type; and, finally, in a still higher stratum, associated with bones
of animals like the reindeer and bison, which, though not extinct, have
departed to other climates, were rude stone implements, on the whole
of a still better workmanship. Such was the foreshadowing, even at that
early rude Stone period, of the proofs that the tendency of man has
been from his earliest epoch and in all parts of the world, as a rule,

But this rule was to be much further exemplified. About 1850, while the
French and English geologists were working more especially among the
relics of the drift and cave periods, noted archaeologists of the
North--Forchammer, Steenstrup, and Worsaae--were devoting themselves to
the investigation of certain remains upon the Danish Peninsula. These
remains were of two kinds: first, there were vast shell-heaps or
accumulations of shells and other refuse cast aside by rude tribes
which at some unknown age in the past lived on the shores of the Baltic,
principally on shellfish. That these shell-heaps were very ancient
was evident: the shells of oysters and the like found in them were far
larger than any now found on those coasts; their size, so far from being
like that of the corresponding varieties which now exist in the brackish
waters of the Baltic, was in every case like that of those varieties
which only thrive in the waters of the open salt sea. Here was a clear
indication that at the time when man formed these shell-heaps those
coasts were in far more direct communication with the salt sea than at
present, and that sufficient time must have elapsed since that period to
have wrought enormous changes in sea and land throughout those regions.

Scattered through these heaps were found indications of a grade of
civilization when man still used implements of stone, but implements and
weapons which, though still rude, showed a progress from those of the
drift and early cave period, some of them being of polished stone.

With these were other evidences that civilization had progressed.
With implements rude enough to have survived from early periods, other
implements never known in the drift and bone caves began to appear,
and, though there were few if any bones of other domestic animals, the
remains of dogs were found; everything showed that there had been a
progress in civilization between the former Stone epoch and this.

The second series of discoveries in Scandinavia was made in the
peat-beds: these were generally formed in hollows or bowls varying in
depth from ten to thirty feet, and a section of them, like a section of
the deposits in the bone caverns, showed a gradual evolution of human
culture. The lower strata in these great bowls were found to be made up
chiefly of mosses and various plants matted together with the trunks
of fallen trees, sometimes of very large diameter; and the botanical
examination of the lowest layer of these trees and plants in the various
bowls revealed a most important fact: for this layer, the first in point
of time, was always of the Scotch fir--which now grows nowhere in the
Danish islands, and can not be made to grow anywhere in them--and of
plants which are now extinct in these regions, but have retreated within
the arctic circle. Coming up from the bottom of these great bowls there
was found above the first layer a second, in which were matted together
masses of oak trees of different varieties; these, too, were relics of
a bygone epoch, since the oak has almost entirely disappeared from
Denmark. Above these came a third stratum made up of fallen beech trees;
and the beech is now, and has been since the beginning of recorded
history, the most common tree of the Danish Peninsula.

Now came a second fact of the utmost importance as connected with the
first. Scattered, as a rule, through the lower of these deposits, that
of the extinct fir trees and plants, were found implements and weapons
of smooth stone; in the layer of oak trees were found implements of
bronze; and among the layer of beeches were found implements and weapons
of iron.

The general result of these investigations in these two sources, the
shell mounds and the peat deposits, was the same: the first civilization
evidenced in them was marked by the use of stone implements more or less
smooth, showing a progress from the earlier rude Stone period made known
by the bone caves; then came a later progress to a higher civilization,
marked by the use of bronze implements; and, finally, a still higher
development when iron began to be used.

The labours of the Danish archaeologists have resulted in the formation
of a great museum at Copenhagen, and on the specimens they have
found, coupled with those of the drift and bone caves, is based the
classification between the main periods or divisions in the evolution of
the human race above referred to.

It was not merely in Scandinavian lands that these results were reached;
substantially the same discoveries were made in Ireland and France, in
Sardinia and Portugal, in Japan and in Brazil, in Cuba and in the United
States; in fact, as a rule, in nearly every part of the world which was
thoroughly examined.(192)

     (192) For the general subject, see Mortillet, Le Prehistorique, p. 498,
et passim. For examples of the rude stone implements, improving as we go
from earlier to later layers in the bone caves, see Boyd Hawkins, Early
Man in Britain, chap. vii, p. 186; also Quatrefages, Human Species, New
York, 1879, pp. 305 et seq. An interesting gleam of light is thrown on
the subject in De Baye, Grottes Prehistoriques de la Marne, pp. 31 et
seq.; also Evans, as cited in the previous chapter. For the more recent
investigations in the Danish shell-heaps, see Boyd Dawkins, Early Man in
Britain, pp. 303, 304. For these evidences of advanced civilization in
the shell-heaps, see Mortillet, p. 498. He, like Nilsson, says that only
the bones of the dog were found; but compare Dawkins, p. 305. For the
very full list of these discoveries, with their bearing on each other,
see Mortillet, p. 499. As to those in Scandanavian countries, see
Nilsson, The Primitive Inhabitants of Scandanavia, third edition, with
Introduction by Lubbock, London, 1868; also the Pre-History of the
North, by Worsaae, English translation, London, 1886. For shell-mounds
and their contents in the Spanish Peninsula, see Cartailhac's greater
work already cited. For summary of such discoveries throughout the
world, see Mortillet, Le Prehistorique, pp. 497 et seq.

But from another quarter came a yet more striking indication of this
same evolution. As far back as the year 1829 there were discovered,
in the Lake of Zurich, piles and other antiquities indicating a former
existence of human dwellings, standing in the water at some distance
from the shore; but the usual mixture of thoughtlessness and dread of
new ideas seems to have prevailed, and nothing was done until about
1853, when new discoveries of the same kind were followed up vigorously,
and Rutimeyer, Keller, Troyon, and others showed not only in the Lake
of Zurich, but in many other lakes in Switzerland, remains of former
habitations, and, in the midst of these, great numbers of relics,
exhibiting the grade of civilization which those lake-dwellers had

Here, too, were accumulated proofs of the upward tendency of the human
race. Implements of polished stone, bone, leather, pottery of various
grades, woven cloth, bones of several kinds of domestic animals, various
sorts of grain, bread which had been preserved by charring, and a
multitude of evidences of progress never found among the earlier, ruder
relics of civilization, showed yet more strongly that man had arrived
here at a still higher stage than his predecessor of the drift, cave,
and shell-heap periods, and had gone on from better to better.

Very striking evidences of this upward tendency were found in each class
of implements. As by comparing the chipped flint implements of the lower
and earlier strata in the cave period with those of the later and upper
strata we saw progress, so, in each of the periods of polished stone,
bronze, and iron, we see, by similar comparisons, a steady progress from
rude to perfected implements; and especially is this true in the
remains of the various lake-dwellings, for among these can be traced out
constant increase in the variety of animals domesticated, and gradual
improvements in means of subsistence and in ways of living.

Incidentally, too, a fact, at first sight of small account, but on
reflection exceedingly important, was revealed. The earlier bronze
implements were frequently found to imitate in various minor respects
implements of stone; in other words, forms were at first given to bronze
implements natural in working stone, but not natural in working bronze.
This showed the DIRECTION of the development--that it was upward from
stone to bronze, not downward from bronze to stone; that it was progress
rather than decline.

These investigations were supplemented by similar researches elsewhere.
In many other parts of the world it was found that lake-dwellers had
existed in different grades of civilization, but all within a certain
range, intermediate between the cave-dwellers and the historic period.
To explain this epoch of the lake-dwellers, history came in with the
account given by Herodotus of the lake-dwellings on Lake Prasias,
which gave protection from the armies of Persia. Still more important,
Comparative Ethnography showed that to-day, in various parts of the
world, especially in New Guinea and West Africa, races of men are living
in lake-dwellings built upon piles, and with a range of implements and
weapons strikingly like many of those discovered in these ancient lake
deposits of Switzerland.

In Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, and other
countries, remains of a different sort were also found, throwing light
on this progress. The cromlechs, cranogs, mounds, and the like,
though some of them indicate the work of weaker tribes pressed upon by
stronger, show, as a rule, the same upward tendency.

At a very early period in the history of these discoveries, various
attempts were made--nominally in the interest of religion, but really in
the interest of sundry creeds and catechisms framed when men knew little
or nothing of natural laws--to break the force of such evidences of the
progress and development of the human race from lower to higher. Out
of all the earlier efforts two may be taken as fairly typical, for
they exhibit the opposition to science as developed under two different
schools of theology, each working in its own way. The first of these
shows great ingenuity and learning, and is presented by Mr. Southall in
his book, published in 1875, entitled The Recent Origin of the World.
In this he grapples first of all with the difficulties presented by the
early date of Egyptian civilization, and the keynote of his argument is
the statement made by an eminent Egyptologist, at a period before modern
archaeological discoveries were well understood, that "Egypt laughs the
idea of a rude Stone age, a polished Stone age, a Bronze age, an Iron
age, to scorn."

Mr. Southall's method was substantially that of the late excellent Mr.
Gosse in geology. Mr. Gosse, as the readers of this work may remember,
felt obliged, in the supposed interest of Genesis, to urge that safety
to men's souls might be found in believing that, six thousand years ago,
the Almighty, for some inscrutable purpose, suddenly set Niagara pouring
very near the spot where it is pouring now; laid the various strata,
and sprinkled the fossils through them like plums through a pudding;
scratched the glacial grooves upon the rocks, and did a vast multitude
of things, subtle and cunning, little and great, in all parts of the
world, required to delude geologists of modern times into the conviction
that all these things were the result of a steady progress through long
epochs. On a similar plan, Mr. Southall proposed, at the very beginning
of his book, as a final solution of the problem, the declaration that
Egypt, with its high civilization in the time of Mena, with its races,
classes, institutions, arrangements, language, monuments--all indicating
an evolution through a vast previous history--was a sudden creation
which came fully made from the hands of the Creator. To use his own
words, "The Egyptians had no Stone age, and were born civilized."

There is an old story that once on a time a certain jovial King of
France, making a progress through his kingdom, was received at the gates
of a provincial town by the mayor's deputy, who began his speech on this
wise: "May it please your Majesty, there are just thirteen reasons why
His Honour the Mayor can not be present to welcome you this morning. The
first of these reasons is that he is dead." On this the king graciously
declared that this first reason was sufficient, and that he would not
trouble the mayor's deputy for the twelve others.

So with Mr. Southall's argument: one simple result of scientific
research out of many is all that it is needful to state, and this is,
that in these later years we have a new and convincing evidence of
the existence of prehistoric man in Egypt in his earliest, rudest
beginnings; the very same evidence which we find in all other parts of
the world which have been carefully examined. This evidence consists
of stone implements and weapons which have been found in Egypt in
such forms, at such points, and in such positions that when studied in
connection with those found in all other parts of the world, from New
Jersey to California, from France to India, and from England to the
Andaman Islands, they force upon us the conviction that civilization
in Egypt, as in all other parts of the world, was developed by the same
slow process of evolution from the rudest beginnings.

It is true that men learned in Egyptology had discouraged the idea of
an earlier Stone age in Egypt, and that among these were Lepsius and
Brugsch; but these men were not trained in prehistoric archaeology;
their devotion to the study of the monuments of Egyptian civilization
had evidently drawn them away from sympathy, and indeed from
acquaintance, with the work of men like Boucher de Perthes, Lartet,
Nilsson, Troyon, and Dawkins. But a new era was beginning. In 1867
Worsaae called attention to the prehistoric implements found on
the borders of Egypt; two years later Arcelin discussed such stone
implements found beneath the soil of Sakkara and Gizeh, the very
focus of the earliest Egyptian civilization; in the same year Hamy and
Lenormant found such implements washed out from the depths higher up the
Nile at Thebes, near the tombs of the kings; and in the following year
they exhibited more flint implements found at various other places.
Coupled with these discoveries was the fact that Horner and Linant found
a copper knife at twenty-four feet, and pottery at sixty feet, below the
surface. In 1872 Dr. Reil, director of the baths at Helouan, near Cairo,
discovered implements of chipped flint; and in 1877. Dr. Jukes Brown
made similar discoveries in that region. In 1878 Oscar Fraas, summing up
the question, showed that the stone implements were mainly such as are
found in the prehistoric deposits of other countries, and that, Zittel
having found them in the Libyan Desert, far from the oases, there was
reason to suppose that these implements were used before the region
became a desert and before Egypt was civilized. Two years later
Dr. Mook, of Wurzburg, published a work giving the results of his
investigations, with careful drawings of the rude stone implements
discovered by him in the upper Nile Valley, and it was evident that,
while some of these implements differed slightly from those before
known, the great mass of them were of the character so common in the
prehistoric deposits of other parts of the world.

A yet more important contribution to this mass of facts was made by
Prof. Henry Haynes, of Boston, who in the winter of 1877 and 1878 began
a very thorough investigation of the subject, and discovered, a few
miles east of Cairo, many flint implements. The significance of Haynes's
discoveries was twofold: First, there were, among these, stone axes like
those found in the French drift beds of St. Acheul, showing that the men
who made or taught men how to make these in Egypt were passing through
the same phase of savagery as that of Quaternary France; secondly, he
found a workshop for making these implements, proving that these flint
implements were not brought into Egypt by invaders, but were made to
meet the necessities of the country. From this first field Prof. Haynes
went to Helouan, north of Cairo, and there found, as Dr. Reil had done,
various worked flints, some of them like those discovered by M. Riviere
in the caves of southern France; thence he went up the Nile to Luxor,
the site of ancient Thebes, began a thorough search in the Tertiary
limestone hills, and found multitudes of chipped stone implements, some
of them, indeed, of original forms, but most of forms common in other
parts of the world under similar circumstances, some of the chipped
stone axes corresponding closely to those found in the drift beds of
northern France.

All this seemed to show conclusively that, long ages before the earliest
period of Egyptian civilization of which the monuments of the first
dynasties give us any trace, mankind in the Nile Valley was going
through the same slow progress from the period when, standing just above
the brutes, he defended himself with implements of rudely chipped stone.

But in 1881 came discoveries which settled the question entirely.
In that year General Pitt-Rivers, a Fellow of the Royal Society and
President of the Anthropological Institute, and J. F. Campbell, Fellow
of the Royal Geographical Society of England, found implements not only
in alluvial deposits, associated with the bones of the zebra, hyena, and
other animals which have since retreated farther south, but, at Djebel
Assas, near Thebes, they found implements of chipped flint in the hard,
stratified gravel, from six and a half to ten feet below the surface;
relics evidently, as Mr. Campbell says, "beyond calculation older than
the oldest Egyptian temples and tombs." They certainly proved that
Egyptian civilization had not issued in its completeness, and all at
once, from the hand of the Creator in the time of Mena. Nor was this
all. Investigators of the highest character and ability--men like Hull
and Flinders Petrie--revealed geological changes in Egypt requiring
enormous periods of time, and traces of man's handiwork dating from
a period when the waters in the Nile Valley extended hundreds of feet
above the present level. Thus was ended the contention of Mr. Southall.

Still another attack upon the new scientific conclusions came from
France, when in 1883 the Abbe Hamard, Priest of the Oratory, published
his Age of Stone and Primitive Man. He had been especially vexed at the
arrangement of prehistoric implements by periods at the Paris Exposition
of 1878; he bitterly complains of this as having an anti-Christian
tendency, and rails at science as "the idol of the day." He attacks
Mortillet, one of the leaders in French archaeology, with a great
display of contempt; speaks of the "venom" in books on prehistoric man
generally; complains that the Church is too mild and gentle with such
monstrous doctrines; bewails the concessions made to science by some
eminent preachers; and foretells his own martyrdom at the hands of men
of science.

Efforts like this accomplished little, and a more legitimate attempt was
made to resist the conclusions of archaeology by showing that knives of
stone were used in obedience to a sacred ritual in Egypt for embalming,
and in Judea for circumcision, and that these flint knives might have
had this later origin. But the argument against the conclusions drawn
from this view was triple: First, as we have seen, not only stone
knives, but axes and other implements of stone similar to those of a
prehistoric period in western Europe were discovered; secondly,
these implements were discovered in the hard gravel drift of a period
evidently far earlier than that of Mena; and, thirdly, the use of stone
implements in Egyptian and Jewish sacred functions within the historic
period, so far from weakening the force of the arguments for the long
and slow development of Egyptian civilization from the men who used rude
flint implements to the men who built and adorned the great temples
of the early dynasties, is really an argument in favour of that long
evolution. A study of comparative ethnology has made it clear that the
sacred stone knives and implements of the Egyptian and Jewish priestly
ritual were natural survivals of that previous period. For sacrificial
or ritual purposes, the knife of stone was considered more sacred than
the knife of bronze or iron, simply because it was ancient; just as
to-day, in India, Brahman priests kindle the sacred fire not with
matches or flint and steel, but by a process found in the earliest,
lowest stages of human culture--by violently boring a pointed stick into
another piece of wood until a spark comes; and just as to-day, in Europe
and America, the architecture of the Middle Ages survives as a special
religious form in the erection of our most recent churches, and to such
an extent that thousands on thousands of us feel that we can not worship
fitly unless in the midst of windows, decorations, vessels, implements,
vestments, and ornaments, no longer used for other purposes, but which
have survived in sundry branches of the Christian Church, and derived a
special sanctity from the fact that they are of ancient origin.

Taking, then, the whole mass of testimony together, even though a
plausible or very strong argument against single evidences may be made
here and there, the force of its combined mass remains, and leaves both
the vast antiquity of man and the evolution of civilization from its
lowest to its highest forms, as proved by the prehistoric remains of
Egypt and so many other countries in all parts of the world, beyond
a reasonable doubt. Most important of all, the recent discoveries in
Assyria have thrown a new light upon the evolution of the dogma of "the
fall of man." Reverent scholars like George Smith, Sayce, Delitzsch,
Jensen, Schrader, and their compeers have found in the Ninevite records
the undoubted source of that form of the fall legend which was adopted
by the Hebrews and by them transmitted to Christianity.(193)

     (193) For Mr. Southall's views, see his Recent Origin of Man, p. 20
and elsewhere. For Mr. Gosse'e views, see his Omphalos as cited in the
chapter on Geology in this work. For a summary of the work of Arcelin,
Hamy, Lenormant, Richard, Lubbock, Mook, and Haynes, see Mortillet, Le
Prehistorique, passim. As to Zittel's discovery, see Oscar Fraas's Aus
dem Orient, Stuttgart, 1878. As to the striking similarities of the stone
implements found in Egypt with those found in the drift and bone
caves, see Mook's monograph, Wurzburg, 1880, cited in the next chapter,
especially Plates IX, XI, XII. For even more striking reproductions
of photographs showing this remarkable similarity between Egyptian
and European chipped stone remains, see H. W. Haynes, Palaeolithic
Implements in Upper Egypt, Boston, 1881. See also Evans, Ancient Stone
Implements, chap. i, pp. 8, 9, 44, 102, 316, 329. As to stone implements
used by priests of Jehovah, priests of Baal, priests of Moloch, priests
of Odin, and Egyptian priests, as religious survivals, see Cartailhac,
as above, 6 and 7; also Lartet, in De Luynes, Expedition to the Dead
Sea; also Nilsson, Primitive Inhabitants of Scandanavia, pp. 96, 97;
also Sayce, Herodotus, p. 171, note. For the discoveries by Pitt-Rivers,
see the Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and
Ireland for 1882, vol. xi, pp. 382 et seq.; and for Campbell's decision
regarding them, see ibid., pp. 396, 397. For facts summed up in the
words, "It is most probable that Egypt at a remote period passed like
many other countries through its stone period," see Hilton Price, F. S.
A., F. G. S., paper in the Journal of the Archaeological Institute of
Great Britain and Ireland for 1884, p. 56. Specimens of Palaeolithic
implements from Egypt--knives, arrowheads, spearheads, flakes, and
the like, both of peculiar and ordinary forms--may be seen in various
museums, but especially in that of Prof. Haynes, of Boston. Some
interesting light is also thrown into the subject by the specimens
obtained by General Wilson and deposited in the Smithsonian Institution
at Washington. For Abbe Hamard's attack, see his L'Age de la Pierre et
L'Homme Primitif, Paris, 1883--especially his preface. For the stone
weapon found in the high drift behind Esneh, see Flinders Petrie,
History of Egypt, chap. i. Of these discoveries by Pitt-Rivers and
others, Maspero appears to know nothing.


We have seen that, closely connected with the main lines of
investigation in archaeology and anthropology, there were other
researches throwing much light on the entire subject. In a previous
chapter we saw especially that Lafitau and Jussieu were among the first
to collect and compare facts bearing on the natural history of man,
gathered by travellers in various parts of the earth, thus laying
foundations for the science of comparative ethnology. It was soon seen
that ethnology had most important bearings upon the question of the
material, intellectual, moral, and religious evolution of the human
race; in every civilized nation, therefore, appeared scholars who began
to study the characteristics of various groups of men as ascertained
from travellers, and to compare the results thus gained with each other
and with those obtained by archaeology.

Thus, more and more clear became the evidences that the tendency of the
race has been upward from low beginnings. It was found that groups
of men still existed possessing characteristics of those in the early
periods of development to whom the drift and caves and shell-heaps
and pile-dwellings bear witness; groups of men using many of the same
implements and weapons, building their houses in the same way, seeking
their food by the same means, enjoying the same amusements, and going
through the same general stages of culture; some being in a condition
corresponding to the earlier, some to the later, of those early periods.

From all sides thus came evidence that we have still upon the
earth examples of all the main stages in the development of human
civilization; that from the period when man appears little above the
brutes, and with little if any religion in any accepted sense of the
word, these examples can be arranged in an ascending series leading
to the highest planes which humanity has reached; that philosophic
observers may among these examples study existing beliefs, usages, and
institutions back through earlier and earlier forms, until, as a rule,
the whole evolution can be easily divined if not fully seen. Moreover,
the basis of the whole structure became more and more clear: the fact
that "the lines of intelligence have always been what they are, and have
always operated as they do now; that man has progressed from the simple
to the complex, from the particular to the general."

As this evidence from ethnology became more and more strong, its
significance to theology aroused attention, and naturally most
determined efforts were made to break its force. On the Continent the
two great champions of the Church in this field were De Maistre and De
Bonald; but the two attempts which may be especially recalled as the
most influential among English-speaking peoples were those of Whately,
Archbishop of Dublin, and the Duke of Argyll.

First in the combat against these new deductions of science was Whately.
He was a strong man, whose breadth of thought and liberality in practice
deserve all honour; but these very qualities drew upon him the distrust
of his orthodox brethren; and, while his writings were powerful in
the first half of the present century to break down many bulwarks of
unreason, he seems to have been constantly in fear of losing touch with
the Church, and therefore to have promptly attacked some scientific
reasonings, which, had he been a layman, not holding a brief for
the Church, he would probably have studied with more care and less
prejudice. He was not slow to see the deeper significance of archaeology
and ethnology in their relations to the theological conception of "the
Fall," and he set the battle in array against them.

His contention was, to use his own words, that "no community ever did
or ever can emerge unassisted by external helps from a state of utter
barbarism into anything that can be called civilization"; and that, in
short, all imperfectly civilized, barbarous, and savage races are but
fallen descendants of races more fully civilized. This view was urged
with his usual ingenuity and vigour, but the facts proved too strong
for him: they made it clear, first, that many races were without simple
possessions, instruments, and arts which never, probably, could have
been lost if once acquired--as, for example, pottery, the bow for
shooting, various domesticated animals, spinning, the simplest
principles of agriculture, household economy, and the like; and,
secondly, it was shown as a simple matter of fact that various savage
and barbarous tribes HAD raised themselves by a development of means
which no one from outside could have taught them; as in the cultivation
and improvement of various indigenous plants, such as the potato and
Indian corn among the Indians of North America; in the domestication of
various animals peculiar to their own regions, such as the llama among
the Indians of south America; in the making of sundry fabrics out of
materials and by processes not found among other nations, such as
the bark cloth of the Polynesians; and in the development of weapons
peculiar to sundry localities, but known in no others, such as the
boomerang in Australia.

Most effective in bringing out the truth were such works as those of Sir
John Lubbock and Tylor; and so conclusive were they that the arguments
of Whately were given up as untenable by the other of the two great
champions above referred to, and an attempt was made by him to form the
diminishing number of thinking men supporting the old theological view
on a new line of defence.

This second champion, the Duke of Argyll, was a man of wide knowledge
and strong powers in debate, whose high moral sense was amply shown in
his adhesion to the side of the American Union in the struggle against
disunion and slavery, despite the overwhelming majority against him in
the high aristocracy to which he belonged. As an honest man and close
thinker, the duke was obliged to give up completely the theological view
of the antiquity of man. The whole biblical chronology as held by the
universal Church, "always, everywhere, and by all," he sacrificed, and
gave all his powers in this field to support the theory of "the Fall."
Noblesse oblige: the duke and his ancestors had been for centuries the
chief pillars of the Church of Scotland, and it was too much to expect
that he could break away from a tenet which forms really its "chief

Acknowledging the insufficiency of Archbishop Whately's argument, the
duke took the ground that the lower, barbarous, savage, brutal
races were the remains of civilized races which, in the struggle for
existence, had been pushed and driven off to remote and inclement parts
of the earth, where the conditions necessary to a continuance in their
early civilization were absent; that, therefore, the descendants of
primeval, civilized men degenerated and sank in the scale of culture. To
use his own words, the weaker races were "driven by the stronger to the
woods and rocks," so that they became "mere outcasts of the human race."

In answer to this, while it was conceded, first, that there have been
examples of weaker tribes sinking in the scale of culture after escaping
from the stronger into regions unfavourable to civilization, and,
secondly, that many powerful nations have declined and decayed, it was
shown that the men in the most remote and unfavourable regions have not
always been the lowest in the scale; that men have been frequently found
"among the woods and rocks" in a higher state of civilization than on
the fertile plains, such examples being cited as Mexico, Peru, and even
Scotland; and that, while there were many examples of special and local
decline, overwhelming masses of facts point to progress as a rule.

The improbability, not to say impossibility, of many of the conclusions
arrived at by the duke appeared more and more strongly as more became
known of the lower tribes of mankind. It was necessary on his theory
to suppose many things which our knowledge of the human race absolutely
forbids us to believe: for example, it was necessary to suppose that
the Australians or New Zealanders, having once possessed so simple and
convenient an art as that of the potter, had lost every trace of it; and
that the same tribes, having once had so simple a means of saving labour
as the spindle or small stick weighted at one end for spinning, had
given it up and gone back to twisting threads with the hand. In fact,
it was necessary to suppose that one of the main occupations of man from
"the beginning" had been the forgetting of simple methods, processes,
and implements which all experience in the actual world teaches us are
never entirely forgotten by peoples who have once acquired them.

Some leading arguments of the duke were overthrown by simple statements
of fact. Thus, his instance of the Eskimo as pushed to the verge
of habitable America, and therefore living in the lowest depths of
savagery, which, even if it were true, by no means proved a general
rule, was deprived of its force by the simple fact that the Eskimos are
by no means the lowest race on the American continent, and that various
tribes far more centrally and advantageously placed, as, for instance,
those in Brazil, are really inferior to them in the scale of culture.
Again, his statement that "in Africa there appear to be no traces of any
time when the natives were not acquainted with the use of iron," is met
by the fact that from the Nile Valley to the Cape of Good Hope we find,
wherever examination has been made, the same early stone implements
which in all other parts of the world precede the use of iron, some of
which would not have been made had their makers possessed iron. The
duke also tried to show that there were no distinctive epochs of stone,
bronze, and iron, by adducing the fact that some stone implements are
found even in some high civilizations. This is indeed a fact. We find
some few European peasants to-day using stone mallet-heads; but
this proves simply that the old stone mallet-heads have survived as
implements cheap and effective.

The argument from Comparative Ethnology in support of the view that the
tendency of mankind is upward has received strength from many sources.
Comparative Philology shows that in the less civilized, barbarous, and
savage races childish forms of speech prevail--frequent reduplications
and the like, of which we have survivals in the later and even in the
most highly developed languages. In various languages, too, we find
relics of ancient modes of thought in the simplest words and expressions
used for arithmetical calculations. Words and phrases for this purpose
are frequently found to be derived from the words for hands, feet,
fingers, and toes, just as clearly as in our own language some of
our simplest measures of length are shown by their names to have been
measures of parts of the human body, as the cubit, the foot, and the
like, and therefore to date from a time when exactness was not required.
To add another out of many examples, it is found to-day that various
rude nations go through the simplest arithmetical processes by means
of pebbles. Into our own language, through the Latin, has come a word
showing that our distant progenitors reckoned in this way: the word
CALCULATE gives us an absolute proof of this. According to the theory
of the Duke of Argyll, men ages ago used pebbles (CALCULI) in performing
the simplest arithmetical calculations because we to-day "CALCULATE." No
reduction to absurdity could be more thorough. The simple fact must be
that we "calculate" because our remote ancestors used pebbles in their

Comparative Literature and Folklore also show among peoples of a low
culture to-day childish modes of viewing nature, and childish ways of
expressing the relations of man to nature, such as clearly survive from
a remote ancestry; noteworthy among these are the beliefs in witches and
fairies, and multitudes of popular and poetic expressions in the most
civilized nations.

So, too, Comparative Ethnography, the basis of Ethnology, shows in
contemporary barbarians and savages a childish love of playthings and
games, of which we have many survivals.

All these facts, which were at first unobserved or observed as matters
of no significance, have been brought into connection with a fact in
biology acknowledged alike by all important schools; by Agassiz on one
hand and by Darwin on the other--namely, as stated by Agassiz, that "the
young states of each species and group resemble older forms of the same
group," or, as stated by Darwin, that "in two or more groups of animals,
however much they may at first differ from each other in structure and
habits, if they pass through closely similar embryonic stages, we may
feel almost assured that they have descended from the same parent form,
and are therefore closely related."(194)

     (194) For the stone forms given to early bronze axes, etc., see
Nilsson, Primitive Inhabitants of Scandanavia, London, 1868, Lubbock's
Introduction, p. 31; and for plates, see Lubbock's Prehistoric Man,
chap. ii; also Cartailhac, Les Ages Prehistoriques de l'Espagne et du
Portugal, p. 227. Also Keller, Lake Dwellings; also Troyon, Habitations
Lacustres; also Boyd Dawkins, Early Man in Great Britain, p. 191; also
Lubbock, p. 6; also Lyell, Antiquity of Man,chap. ii. For the cranogs,
etc., in the north of Europe, see Munro, Ancient Scottish Lake
Dwellings, Edinburgh, 1882. For mounds and greater stone constructions
in the extreme south of Europe, see Cartailhac's work on Spain and
Portugal above cited, part iii, chap. iii. For the source of Mr.
Southall's contention, see Brugsch, Egypt of the Pharoahs. For the two
sides of the question whether in the lower grades of savagery there is
really any recognition of a superior power, or anything which can
be called, in any accepted sense, religion, compare Quatrefages with
Lubbock, in works already cited. For a striking but rather ad captandum
effort to show that there is a moral and religious sense in the very
lowest of Australian tribes, see one of the discourses of Archbishop
Vaughn on Science and Religion, Baltimore, 1879. For one out of
multitiudes of striking and instructive resemblances in ancient
stone implements and those now in use among sundry savage tribes,
see comparison between old Scandanavian arrowheads and those recently
brought from Tierra del Fuego, in Nilsson, as above, especially in Plate
V. For a brief and admirable statement of the arguments on both sides,
see Sir J. Lubbock's Dundee paper, given in the appendix to the American
edition of his Origin of Civilization, etc. For the general argument
referred to between Whately and the Duke of Argyll on one side, and
Lubbock on the other, see Lubbock's Dundee paper as above cited; Tylor,
Early History of Mankind, especially p. 193; and the Duke of Argyll,
Primeval Man, part iv. For difficulties of savages in arithmetic, see
Lubbock, as above, pp. 459 et seq. For a very temperate and judicial
view of the whole question, see Tylor as above, chaps. vii and xiii. For
a brief summary of the scientific position regarding the stagnation
and deterioration of races, resulting in the statement that such
deterioration "in no way contradicts the theory that civilization itself
is developed from low to high stages," see Tylor, Anthropology, chap. i.
For striking examples of the testimony of language to upward progress,
see Tylor, chap. xii.


The history of art, especially as shown by architecture, in the noblest
monuments of the most enlightened nations of antiquity; gives abundant
proofs of the upward tendency of man from the rudest and simplest
beginnings. Many columns of early Egyptian temples or tombs are but
bundles of Nile reeds slightly conventionalized in stone; the temples of
Greece, including not only the earliest forms, but the Parthenon
itself, while in parts showing an evolution out of Egyptian and Assyrian
architecture, exhibit frequent reminiscences and even imitations of
earlier constructions in wood; the medieval cathedrals, while evolved
out of Roman and Byzantine structures, constantly show unmistakable
survivals of prehistoric construction. (195)

     (195) As to evolution in architecture, and especially of Greek forms
and ornaments out of Egyptian and Assyrian, with survivals in stone
architecture of forms obtained in Egypt when reeds were used, and in
Greece when wood construction prevailed, see Fergusson's Handbook of
Architecture, vol. i, pp. 100, 228, 233, and elsewhere; also Otfried
Muller, Ancient Art and its Remains, English translation, London,
1852, pp. 219, passim. For a very brief but thorough statement, see A.
Magnard's paper in the Proceedings of the American Oriental Society,
October, 1889, entitled Reminiscences of Egypt in Doric Architecture.
On the general subject, see Hommel, Babylonien, ch. i, and Meyer,
Alterthum, i, S 199.

So, too, general history has come in, illustrating the unknown from
the known: the development of man in the prehistoric period from his
development within historic times. Nothing is more evident from history
than the fact that weaker bodies of men driven out by stronger do not
necessarily relapse into barbarism, but frequently rise, even under the
most unfavourable circumstances, to a civilization equal or superior
to that from which they have been banished. Out of very many examples
showing this law of upward development, a few may be taken as typical.
The Slavs, who sank so low under the pressure of stronger races that
they gave the modern world a new word to express the most hopeless
servitude, have developed powerful civilizations peculiar to themselves;
the barbarian tribes who ages ago took refuge amid the sand-banks and
morasses of Holland, have developed one of the world's leading centres
of civilization; the wretched peasants who about the fifth century took
refuge from invading hordes among the lagoons and mud banks of Venetia,
developed a power in art, arms, and politics which is among the wonders
of human history; the Puritans, driven from the civilization of Great
Britain to the unfavourable climate, soil, and circumstances of early
New England,--the Huguenots, driven from France, a country admirably
fitted for the highest growth of civilization, to various countries
far less fitted for such growth,--the Irish peasantry, driven in vast
numbers from their own island to other parts of the world on the whole
less fitted to them--all are proofs that, as a rule, bodies of men once
enlightened, when driven to unfavourable climates and brought under the
most depressing circumstances, not only retain what enlightenment they
have, but go on increasing it. Besides these, we have such cases as
those of criminals banished to various penal colonies, from whose
descendants has been developed a better morality; and of pirates, like
those of the Bounty, whose descendants, in a remote Pacific island,
became sober, steady citizens. Thousands of examples show the prevalence
of this same rule--that men in masses do not forget the main gains of
their civilization, and that, in spite of deteriorations, their tendency
is upward.

Another class of historic facts also testifies in the most striking
manner to this same upward tendency: the decline and destruction
of various civilizations brilliant but hopelessly vitiated. These
catastrophes are seen more and more to be but steps in, this
development. The crumbling away of the great ancient civilizations based
upon despotism, whether the despotism of monarch, priest, or mob--the
decline and fall of Roman civilization, for example, which, in his most
remarkable generalization, Guizot has shown to have been necessary
to the development of the richer civilization of modern Europe; the
terrible struggle and loss of the Crusades, which once appeared to be a
mere catastrophe, but are now seen to have brought in, with the downfall
of feudalism, the beginnings of the centralizing, civilizing monarchical
period; the French Revolution, once thought a mere outburst of diabolic
passion, but now seen to be an unduly delayed transition from the
monarchical to the constitutional epoch: all show that even widespread
deterioration and decline--often, indeed, the greatest political and
moral catastrophes--so far from leading to a fall of mankind, tend in
the long run to raise humanity to higher planes.

Thus, then, Anthropology and its handmaids, Ethnology, Philology,
and History, have wrought out, beyond a doubt, proofs of the upward
evolution of humanity since the appearance of man upon our planet.

Nor have these researches been confined to progress in man's material
condition. Far more important evidences have been found of upward
evolution in his family, social, moral, intellectual, and religious
relations. The light thrown on this subject by such men as Lubbock,
Tylor, Herbert Spencer, Buckle, Draper, Max Muller, and a multitude of
others, despite mistakes, haltings, stumblings, and occasional following
of delusive paths, is among the greatest glories of the century now
ending. From all these investigators in their various fields, holding
no brief for any system sacred or secular, but seeking truth as truth,
comes the same general testimony of the evolution of higher out of
lower. The process has been indeed slow and painful, but this does not
prove that it may not become more rapid and less fruitful in sorrow as
humanity goes on.(196)

     (196) As to the good effects of migration, see Waitz, Introduction to
Anthropology, London, 1863, p. 345.

While, then, it is not denied that many instances of retrogression can
be found, the consenting voice of unbiased investigators in all lands
has declared more and more that the beginnings of our race must have
been low and brutal, and that the tendency has been upward. To combat
this conclusion by examples of decline and deterioration here and
there has become impossible: as well try to prove that, because in the
Mississippi there are eddies in which the currents flow northward, there
is no main stream flowing southward; or that, because trees decay and
fall, there is no law of upward growth from germ to trunk, branches,
foliage, and fruit.

A very striking evidence that the theological theory had become
untenable was seen when its main supporter in the scientific field,
Von Martius, in the full ripeness of his powers, publicly declared his
conversion to the scientific view.

Yet, while the tendency of enlightened human thought in recent times is
unmistakable, the struggle against the older view is not yet ended. The
bitterness of the Abbe Hamard in France has been carried to similar
and even greater extremes among sundry Protestant bodies in Europe and
America. The simple truth of history mates it a necessity, unpleasant
though it be, to chronicle two typical examples in the United States.

In the year 1875 a leader in American industrial enterprise endowed at
the capital of a Southern State a university which bore his name. It was
given into the hands of one of the religious sects most powerful in that
region, and a bishop of that sect became its president. To its chair
of Geology was called Alexander Winchell, a scholar who had already
won eminence as a teacher and writer in that field, a professor greatly
beloved and respected in the two universities with which he had been
connected, and a member of the sect which the institution of learning
above referred to represented.

But his relations to this Southern institution were destined to be
brief. That his lectures at the Vanderbilt University were learned,
attractive, and stimulating, even his enemies were forced to admit; but
he was soon found to believe that there had been men earlier than the
period as signed to Adam, and even that all the human race are not
descended from Adam. His desire was to reconcile science and Scripture,
and he was now treated by a Methodist Episcopal Bishop in Tennessee just
as, two centuries before, La Peyrere had been treated, for a similar
effort, by a Roman Catholic vicar-general in Belgium. The publication of
a series of articles on the subject, contributed by the professor to a
Northern religious newspaper at its own request, brought matters to a
climax; for, the articles having fallen under the notice of a leading
Southwestern organ of the denomination controlling the Vanderbilt
University, the result was a most bitter denunciation of Prof. Winchell
and of his views. Shortly afterward the professor was told by Bishop
McTyeire that "our people are of the opinion that such views are
contrary to the plan of redemption," and was requested by the bishop to
quietly resign his chair. To this the professor made the fitting reply:
"If the board of trustees have the manliness to dismiss me for cause,
and declare the cause, I prefer that they should do it. No power on
earth could persuade me to resign."

"We do not propose," said the bishop, with quite gratuitous
suggestiveness, "to treat you as the Inquisition treated Galileo."

"But what you propose is the same thing," rejoined Dr. Winchell. "It
is ecclesiastical proscription for an opinion which must be settled by
scientific evidence."

Twenty-four hours later Dr. Winchell was informed that his chair had
been abolished, and its duties, with its salary, added to those of a
colleague; the public were given to understand that the reasons
were purely economic; the banished scholar was heaped with official
compliments, evidently in hope that he would keep silence.

Such was not Dr. Winchell's view. In a frank letter to the leading
journal of the university town he stated the whole matter. The
intolerance-hating press of the country, religious and secular, did not
hold its peace. In vain the authorities of the university waited for
the storm to blow over. It was evident, at last, that a defence must
be made, and a local organ of the sect, which under the editorship of
a fellow-professor had always treated Dr. Winchell's views with the
luminous inaccuracy which usually characterizes a professor's ideas of a
rival's teachings, assumed the task. In the articles which followed,
the usual scientific hypotheses as to the creation were declared to be
"absurd," "vague and unintelligible," "preposterous and gratuitous."
This new champion stated that "the objections drawn from the
fossiliferous strata and the like are met by reference to the analogy of
Adam and Eve, who presented the phenomena of adults when they were but a
day old, and by the Flood of Noah and other cataclysms, which, with the
constant change of Nature, are sufficient to account for the phenomena
in question"!

Under inspiration of this sort the Tennessee Conference of the religious
body in control of the university had already, in October, 1878, given
utterance to its opinion of unsanctified science as follows: "This is
an age in which scientific atheism, having divested itself of the
habiliments that most adorn and dignify humanity, walks abroad in
shameless denudation. The arrogant and impertinent claims of this
'science, falsely so called,' have been so boisterous and persistent,
that the unthinking mass have been sadly deluded; but our university
alone has had the courage to lay its young but vigorous hand upon the
mane of untamed Speculation and say, 'We will have no more of this.'" It
is a consolation to know how the result, thus devoutly sought, has been
achieved; for in the "ode" sung at the laying of the corner-stone of a
new theological building of the same university, in May, 1880, we read:

"Science and Revelation here In perfect harmony appear, Guiding young
feet along the road Through grace and Nature up to God."

It is also pleasing to know that, while an institution calling itself
a university thus violated the fundamental principles on which any
institution worthy of the name must be based, another institution which
has the glory of being the first in the entire North to begin
something like a university organization--the State University of
Michigan--recalled Dr. Winchell at once to his former professorship, and
honoured itself by maintaining him in that position, where, unhampered,
he was thereafter able to utter his views in the midst of the largest
body of students on the American Continent.

Disgraceful as this history was to the men who drove out Dr. Winchell,
they but succeeded, as various similar bodies of men making similar
efforts have done, in advancing their supposed victim to higher position
and more commanding influence.(197)

     (197) For Dr. Winchell's original statements, see Adamites and
Pre-Adamites, Syracuse, N. Y., 1878. For the first important
denunciation of his views, see the St. Louis Christian Advocate, May 22,
1878. For the conversation with Bishop McTyeire, see Dr. Winchell's
own account in the Nashville American of July 19, 1878. For the further
course of the attack in the denominational organ of Dr. Winchell's
oppressors, see the Nashville Christian Advocate, April 26, 1879. For
the oratorical declaration of the Tennessee Conference upon the
matter, see the Nashville American, October 15, 1878; and for the "ode"
regarding the "harmony of science and revelation" as supported at the
university, see the same journal for May 2, 1880

A few years after this suppression of earnest Christian thought at an
institution of learning in the western part of our Southern States,
there appeared a similar attempt in sundry seaboard States of the South.

As far back as the year 1857 the Presbyterian Synod of Mississippi
passed the following resolution:

"WHEREAS, We live in an age in which the most insidious attacks are made
on revealed religion through the natural sciences, and as it behooves
the Church at all times to have men capable of defending the faith once
delivered to the saints;

"RESOLVED, That this presbytery recommend the endowment of a
professorship of Natural Science as connected with revealed religion in
one or more of our theological seminaries."

Pursuant to this resolution such a chair was established in the
theological seminary at Columbia, S.C., and James Woodrow was appointed
professor. Dr. Woodrow seems to have been admirably fitted for the
position--a devoted Christian man, accepting the Presbyterian standards
of faith in which he had been brought up, and at the same time giving
every effort to acquaint himself with the methods and conclusions of
science. To great natural endowments he added constant labours to arrive
at the truth in this field. Visiting Europe, he made the acquaintance
of many of the foremost scientific investigators, became a student
in university lecture rooms and laboratories, an interested hearer in
scientific conventions, and a correspondent of leading men of science
at home and abroad. As a result, he came to the conclusion that the
hypothesis of evolution is the only one which explains various leading
facts in natural science. This he taught, and he also taught that such a
view is not incompatible with a true view of the sacred Scriptures.

In 1882 and 1883 the board of directors of the theological seminary,
in fear that "scepticism in the world is using alleged discoveries in
science to impugn the Word of God," requested Prof. Woodrow to state his
views in regard to evolution. The professor complied with this request
in a very powerful address, which was published and widely circulated,
to such effect that the board of directors shortly afterward passed
resolutions declaring the theory of evolution as defined by Prof.
Woodrow not inconsistent with perfect soundness in the faith.

In the year 1884 alarm regarding Dr. Woodrow's teachings began to show
itself in larger proportions, and a minority report was introduced into
the Synod of South Carolina declaring that "the synod is called upon
to decide not upon the question whether the said views of Dr. Woodrow
contradict the Bible in its highest and absolute sense, but upon the
question whether they contradict the interpretation of the Bible by the
Presbyterian Church in the United States."

Perhaps a more self-condemnatory statement was never presented, for
it clearly recognized, as a basis for intolerance, at least a possible
difference between "the interpretation of the Bible by the Presbyterian
Church" and the teachings of "the Bible in its highest and absolute

This hostile movement became so strong that, in spite of the favourable
action of the directors of the seminary, and against the efforts of
a broad-minded minority in the representative bodies having ultimate
charge of the institution, the delegates from the various synods raised
a storm of orthodoxy and drove Dr. Woodrow from his post. Happily, he
was at the same time professor in the University of South Carolina in
the same city of Columbia, and from his chair in that institution
he continued to teach natural science with the approval of the great
majority of thinking men in that region; hence, the only effect of the
attempt to crush him was, that his position was made higher, respect for
him deeper, and his reputation wider.

In spite of attempts by the more orthodox to prevent students of the
theological seminary from attending his lectures at the university, they
persisted in hearing him; indeed, the reputation of heresy seemed to
enhance his influence.

It should be borne in mind that the professor thus treated had been one
of the most respected and beloved university instructors in the South
during more than a quarter of a century, and that he was turned out
of his position with no opportunity for careful defence, and, indeed,
without even the formality of a trial. Well did an eminent but
thoughtful divine of the Southern Presbyterian Church declare that "the
method of procedure to destroy evolution by the majority in the Church
is vicious and suicidal," and that "logical dynamite has been used to
put out a supposed fire in the upper stories of our house, and all the
family in the house at that." Wisely, too, did he refer to the majority
as "sowing in the fields of the Church the thorns of its errors, and
cumbering its path with the debris and ruin of its own folly."

To these recent cases may be added the expulsion of Prof. Toy from
teaching under ecclesiastical control at Louisville, and his election to
a far more influential chair at Harvard University; the driving out from
the American College at Beyrout of the young professors who accepted
evolution as probable, and the rise of one of them, Mr. Nimr, to a far
more commanding position than that which he left--the control of three
leading journals at Cairo; the driving out of Robertson Smith from his
position at Edinburgh, and his reception into the far more important and
influential professorship at the English University of Cambridge; and
multitudes of similar cases. From the days when Henry Dunster, the first
President of Harvard College, was driven from his presidency, as Cotton
Mather said, for "falling into the briers of Antipedobaptism" until
now, the same spirit is shown in all such attempts. In each we have
generally, on one side, a body of older theologians, who since their
youth have learned nothing and forgotten nothing, sundry professors
who do not wish to rewrite their lectures, and a mass of unthinking
ecclesiastical persons of little or no importance save in making up a
retrograde majority in an ecclesiastical tribunal; on the other side
we have as generally the thinking, open-minded, devoted men who have
listened to the revelation of their own time as well as of times past,
and who are evidently thinking the future thought of the world.

Here we have survivals of that same oppression of thought by theology
which has cost the modern world so dear; the system which forced great
numbers of professors, under penalty of deprivation, to teach that the
sun and planets revolve about the earth; that comets are fire-balls
flung by an angry God at a wicked world; that insanity is diabolic
possession; that anatomical investigation of the human frame is sin
against the Holy Ghost; that chemistry leads to sorcery; that taking
interest for money is forbidden by Scripture; that geology must conform
to ancient Hebrew poetry. From the same source came in Austria the rule
of the "Immaculate Oath," under which university professors, long before
the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was defined by the Church,
were obliged to swear to their belief in that dogma before they
were permitted to teach even arithmetic or geometry; in England, the
denunciation of inoculation against smallpox; in Scotland, the protests
against using chloroform in childbirth as "vitiating the primal curse
against woman"; in France, the use in clerical schools of a historical
text-book from which Napoleon was left out; and, in America, the use
of Catholic manuals in which the Inquisition is declared to have been a
purely civil tribunal, or Protestant manuals in which the Puritans are
shown to have been all that we could now wish they had been.

So, too, among multitudes of similar efforts abroad, we have during
centuries the fettering of professors at English and Scotch universities
by test oaths, subscriptions to articles, and catechisms without number.
In our own country we have had in a vast multitude of denominational
colleges, as the first qualification for a professorship, not ability in
the subject to be taught, but fidelity to the particular shibboleth of
the denomination controlling the college or university.

Happily, in these days such attempts generally defeat themselves. The
supposed victim is generally made a man of mark by persecution, and
advanced to a higher and wider sphere of usefulness. In withstanding
the march of scientific truth, any Conference, Synod, Board of
Commissioners, Board of Trustees, or Faculty, is but as a nest of
field-mice in the path of a steam plough.

The harm done to religion in these attempts is far greater than that
done to science; for thereby suspicions are widely spread, especially
among open-minded young men, that the accepted Christian system demands
a concealment of truth, with the persecution of honest investigators,
and therefore must be false. Well was it said in substance by President
McCosh, of Princeton, that no more sure way of making unbelievers in
Christianity among young men could be devised than preaching to them
that the doctrines arrived at by the great scientific thinkers of this
period are opposed to religion.

Yet it is but justice here to say that more and more there is evolving
out of this past history of oppression a better spirit, which is making
itself manifest with power in the leading religious bodies of the world.
In the Church of Rome we have to-day such utterances as those of St.
George Mivart, declaring that the Church must not attempt to interfere
with science; that the Almighty in the Galileo case gave her a distinct
warning that the priesthood of science must remain with the men of
science. In the Anglican Church and its American daughter we have the
acts and utterances of such men as Archbishop Tait, Bishop Temple,
Dean Stanley, Dean Farrar, and many others, proving that the deepest
religious thought is more and more tending to peace rather than warfare
with science; and in the other churches, especially in America, while
there is yet much to be desired, the welcome extended in many of them to
Alexander Winchell, and the freedom given to views like his, augur well
for a better state of things in the future.

From the science of Anthropology, when rightly viewed as a whole, has
come the greatest aid to those who work to advance religion rather than
to promote any particular system of theology; for Anthropology and its
subsidiary sciences show more and more that man, since coming upon the
earth, has risen, from the period when he had little, if any, idea of
a great power above him, through successive stages of fetichism,
shamanism, and idolatry, toward better forms of belief, making him more
and more accessible to nobler forms of religion. The same sciences
show, too, within the historic period, the same tendency, and especially
within the events covered by our sacred books, a progress from
fetichism, of which so many evidences crop out in the early Jewish
worship as shown in the Old Testament Scriptures, through polytheism,
when Jehovah was but "a god above all gods," through the period when he
was "a jealous God," capricious and cruel, until he is revealed in such
inspired utterances as those of the nobler Psalms, the great passages
in Isaiah, the sublime preaching of Micah, and, above all, through the
ideal given to the world by Jesus of Nazareth.

Well indeed has an eminent divine of the Church of England in our own
time called on Christians to rejoice over this evolution, "between the
God of Samuel, who ordered infants to be slaughtered, and the God of the
Psalmist, whose tender mercies are over all his works; between the
God of the Patriarchs, who was always repenting, and the God of the
Apostles, who is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, with whom
there is no variableness nor shadow of turning, between the God of the
Old Testament, who walked in the garden in the cool of the day, and the
God of the New Testament, whom no man hath seen nor can see; between the
God of Leviticus, who was so particular about the sacrificial furniture
and utensils, and the God of the Acts, who dwelleth not in temples made
with hands; between the God who hardened Pharaoh's heart, and the God
who will have all men to be saved; between the God of Exodus, who is
merciful only to those who love him, and the God of Christ--the heavenly
Father--who is kind unto the unthankful and the evil."

However overwhelming, then, the facts may be which Anthropology,
History, and their kindred sciences may, in the interest of simple
truth, establish against the theological doctrine of "the Fall"; however
completely they may fossilize various dogmas, catechisms, creeds,
confessions, "plans of salvation" and "schemes of redemption," which
have been evolved from the great minds of the theological period:
science, so far from making inroads on religion, or even upon our
Christian development of it, will strengthen all that is essential in
it, giving new and nobler paths to man's highest aspirations. For the
one great, legitimate, scientific conclusion of anthropology is, that,
more and more, a better civilization of the world, despite all its
survivals of savagery and barbarism, is developing men and women on whom
the declarations of the nobler Psalms, of Isaiah, of Micah, the Sermon
on the Mount, the first great commandment, and the second, which is
like unto it, St. Paul's praise of charity and St. James's definition
of "pure religion and undefiled," can take stronger hold for the more
effective and more rapid uplifting of our race.(198)

     (198) For the resolution of the Presbyterian Synod of Mississippi in
1857, see Prof. Woodrow's speech before the Synod of South Carolina,
October 27 and 28, 1884, p. 6. As to the action of the Board of
Directors of the Theological Seminary of Columbia, see ibid. As to the
minority report in the Synod of South Carolina, see ibid., p. 24. For
the pithy sentences regarding the conduct of the majority in the synods
toward Dr. Woodrow, see the Rev. Mr. Flynn's article in the Southern
Presbyterian Review for April, 1885, p. 272, and elsewhere. For the
restrictions regarding the teaching of the Copernican theory and the
true doctrine of comets in German universities, see various histories of
astronomy, especially Madler. For the immaculate oath (Immaculaten-Eid)
as enforced upon the Austrian professors, see Luftkandl, Die
Josephinischen Ideen. For the effort of the Church in France, after the
restoration of the Bourbons, to teach a history of that country from
which the name of Napoleon should be left out, see Father Loriquet's
famous Histoire de France a l'Usage de la Jeunesse, Lyon, 1820, vol.
ii, see especially table of contents at the end. The book bears on its
title-page the well known initials of the Jesuit motto, A. M. D. G. (Ad
Majorem Dei Gloriam). For examples in England and Scotland, see various
English histories, and especially Buckle's chapters on Scotland. For a
longer collection of examples showing the suppression of anything like
unfettered thought upon scientific subjects in American universities,
see Inaugural Address at the Opening of Cornell University, by the
author of these chapters. For the citation regarding the evolution of
better and nobler ideas of God, see Church and Creed: Sermons preached
in the Chapel of the Foundling Hospital, London, by A. W. Momerie,
M. A., LL. D., Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in King's College,
London, 1890. For a very vigorous utterance on the other side, see a
recent charge of the Bishop of Gloucester.



The popular beliefs of classic antiquity regarding storms, thunder,
and lightning, took shape in myths representing Vulcan as forging
thunderbolts, Jupiter as flinging them at his enemies, Aeolus intrusting
the winds in a bag to Aeneas, and the like. An attempt at their further
theological development is seen in the Pythagorean statement that
lightnings are intended to terrify the damned in Tartarus.

But at a very early period we see the beginning of a scientific view. In
Greece, the Ionic philosophers held that such phenomena are obedient to
law. Plato, Aristotle, and many lesser lights, attempted to account
for them on natural grounds; and their explanations, though crude, were
based upon observation and thought. In Rome, Lucretius, Seneca, Pliny,
and others, inadequate as their statements were, implanted at least the
germs of a science. But, as the Christian Church rose to power,
this evolution was checked; the new leaders of thought found, in the
Scriptures recognized by them as sacred, the basis for a new view, or
rather for a modification of the old view.

This ending of a scientific evolution based upon observation and
reason, and this beginning of a sacred science based upon the letter of
Scripture and on theology, are seen in the utterances of various fathers
in the early Church. As to the general features of this new development,
Tertullian held that sundry passages of Scripture prove lightning
identical with hell-fire; and this idea was transmitted from generation
to generation of later churchmen, who found an especial support
of Tertullian's view in the sulphurous smell experienced during
thunderstorms. St. Hilary thought the firmament very much lower than the
heavens, and that it was created not only for the support of the upper
waters, but also for the tempering of our atmosphere.(199) St. Ambrose
held that thunder is caused by the winds breaking through the solid
firmament, and cited from the prophet Amos the sublime passage regarding
"Him that establisheth the thunders."(200) He shows, indeed, some
conception of the true source of rain; but his whole reasoning is
limited by various scriptural texts. He lays great stress upon the
firmament as a solid outer shell of the universe: the heavens he holds
to be not far outside this outer shell, and argues regarding their
character from St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians and from the one
hundred and forty-eighth Psalm. As to "the waters which are above the
firmament," he takes up the objection of those who hold that, this
outside of the universe being spherical, the waters must slide off it,
especially if the firmament revolves; and he points out that it is by
no means certain that the OUTSIDE of the firmament IS spherical, and
insists that, if it does revolve, the water is just what is needed to
lubricate and cool its axis.

     (199) For Tertullian, see the Apol. contra gentes, c. 47; also Augustin
de Angelis, Lectiones Meteorologicae, p. 64. For Hilary, see In Psalm
CXXXV. (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. ix, p. 773).

     (200) "Firmans tonitrua" (Amos iv, 13); the phrase does not appear in
our version.

St. Jerome held that God at the Creation, having spread out the
firmament between heaven and earth, and having separated the upper
waters from the lower, caused the upper waters to be frozen into ice,
in order to keep all in place. A proof of this view Jerome found in
the words of Ezekiel regarding "the crystal stretched above the

     (201) For Ambrose, see the Hexaemeron, lib. ii, cap. 3,4; lib. iii, cap.
5 (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. xiv, pp. 148-150, 153, 165). The passage
as to lubrication of the heavenly axis is as follows: "Deinde cum ispi
dicant volvi orbem coeli stellis ardentibus refulgentem, nonne divina
providentia necessario prospexit, ut intra orbem coeli, et supra orbem
redundaret aqua, quae illa ferventis axis incendia temperaret?" For
Jerome, see his Epistola, lxix, cap. 6 (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. xxii,

The germinal principle in accordance with which all these theories were
evolved was most clearly proclaimed to the world by St. Augustine in his
famous utterance: "Nothing is to be accepted save on the authority of
Scripture, since greater is that authority than all the powers of the
human mind."(202) No treatise was safe thereafter which did not breathe
the spirit and conform to the letter of this maxim. Unfortunately, what
was generally understood by the "authority of Scripture" was the tyranny
of sacred books imperfectly transcribed, viewed through distorting
superstitions, and frequently interpreted by party spirit.

     (202) "Major est quippe Scripturae hujas auctoritas, quam omnis humani
ingenii capacitas."--Augustine, De Genesi ad Lit., lib. ii, cap. 5
(Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. xxxiv, pp. 266, 267). Or, as he is cited by
Vincent of Beauvais (Spec. Nat., lib. iv, 98): "Non est aliquid temere
diffiniendum, sed quantum Scriptura dicit accipiendum, cujus major est
auctoritas quam omnis humani ingenii capacitas."

Following this precept of St. Augustine there were developed, in every
field, theological views of science which have never led to a single
truth--which, without exception, have forced mankind away from the
truth, and have caused Christendom to stumble for centuries into abysses
of error and sorrow. In meteorology, as in every other science with
which he dealt, Augustine based everything upon the letter of the sacred
text; and it is characteristic of the result that this man, so great
when untrammelled, thought it his duty to guard especially the whole
theory of the "waters above the heavens."

In the sixth century this theological reasoning was still further
developed, as we have seen, by Cosmas Indicopleustes. Finding a sanction
for the old Egyptian theory of the universe in the ninth chapter of
Hebrews, he insisted that the earth is a flat parallelogram, and that
from its outer edges rise immense walls supporting the firmament; then,
throwing together the reference to the firmament in Genesis and the
outburst of poetry in the Psalms regarding the "waters that be above
the heavens," he insisted that over the terrestrial universe are
solid arches bearing a vault supporting a vast cistern "containing
the waters"; finally, taking from Genesis the expression regarding
the "windows of heaven," he insisted that these windows are opened and
closed by the angels whenever the Almighty wishes to send rain upon the
earth or to withhold it.

This was accepted by the universal Church as a vast contribution to
thought; for several centuries it was the orthodox doctrine, and various
leaders in theology devoted themselves to developing and supplementing

About the beginning of the seventh century, Isidore, Bishop of Seville,
was the ablest prelate in Christendom, and was showing those great
qualities which led to his enrolment among the saints of the Church. His
theological view of science marks an epoch. As to the "waters above the
firmament," Isidore contends that they must be lower than, the uppermost
heaven, though higher than the lower heaven, because in the one hundred
and forty-eighth Psalm they are mentioned AFTER the heavenly bodies
and the "heaven of heavens," but BEFORE the terrestrial elements. As to
their purpose, he hesitates between those who held that they were stored
up there by the prescience of God for the destruction of the world at
the Flood, as the words of Scripture that "the windows of heaven were
opened" seemed to indicate, and those who held that they were kept there
to moderate the heat of the heavenly bodies. As to the firmament, he is
in doubt whether it envelops the earth "like an eggshell," or is merely
spread over it "like a curtain"; for he holds that the passage in the
one hundred and fourth Psalm may be used to support either view.

Having laid these scriptural foundations, Isidore shows considerable
power of thought; indeed, at times, when he discusses the rainbow, rain,
hail, snow, and frost, his theories are rational, and give evidence
that, if he could have broken away from his adhesion to the letter of
Scripture, he might have given a strong impulse to the evolution of a
true science.(203)

     (203) For Cosmas, see his Topographia Christiana (in Montfaucon,
Collectio nova patrum, vol. ii), and the more complete account of his
theory given in the chapter on Geography in this work. For Isidore, see
the Etymologiae, lib. xiii, cap. 7-9, De ordine creaturarum, cap. 3, 4,
and De natura rerum, cap. 29, 30. (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. lxxxii, pp.
476, 477, vol. lxxxiii, pp. 920-922, 1001-1003).

About a century later appeared, at the other extremity of Europe, the
second in the trio of theological men of science in the early Middle
Ages--Bede the Venerable. The nucleus of his theory also is to be found
in the accepted view of the "firmament" and of the "waters above the
heavens," derived from Genesis. The firmament he holds to be spherical,
and of a nature subtile and fiery; the upper heavens, he says, which
contain the angels, God has tempered with ice, lest they inflame the
lower elements. As to the waters placed above the firmament, lower than
the spiritual heavens, but higher than all corporeal creatures, he says,
"Some declare that they were stored there for the Deluge, but others,
more correctly, that they are intended to temper the fire of the stars."
He goes on with long discussions as to various elements and forces in
Nature, and dwells at length upon the air, of which he says that the
upper, serene air is over the heavens; while the lower, which is coarse,
with humid exhalations, is sent off from the earth, and that in this are
lightning, hail, snow, ice, and tempests, finding proof of this in the
one hundred and forty-eighth Psalm, where these are commanded to "praise
the Lord from the earth."(204)

     (204) See Bede, De natura rerum (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. xc).

So great was Bede's authority, that nearly all the anonymous
speculations of the next following centuries upon these subjects were
eventually ascribed to him. In one of these spurious treatises an
attempt is made to get new light upon the sources of the waters above
the heavens, the main reliance being the sheet containing the animals
let down from heaven, in the vision of St. Peter. Another of these
treatises is still more curious, for it endeavours to account for
earthquakes and tides by means of the leviathan mentioned in Scripture.
This characteristic passage runs as follows: "Some say that the earth
contains the animal leviathan, and that he holds his tail after a
fashion of his own, so that it is sometimes scorched by the sun,
whereupon he strives to get hold of the sun, and so the earth is shaken
by the motion of his indignation; he drinks in also, at times, such huge
masses of the waves that when he belches them forth all the seas feel
their effect." And this theological theory of the tides, as caused by
the alternate suction and belching of leviathan, went far and wide.(205)

     (205) See the treatise De mundi constitutione, in Bede's Opera (Migne,
Patr. Lat., vol. xc, p. 884).

In the writings thus covered with the name of Bede there is much showing
a scientific spirit, which might have come to something of permanent
value had it not been hampered by the supposed necessity of conforming
to the letter of Scripture. It is as startling as it is refreshing to
hear one of these medieval theorists burst out as follows against those
who are content to explain everything by the power of God: "What is more
pitiable than to say that a thing IS, because God is able to do it, and
not to show any reason why it is so, nor any purpose for which it is so;
just as if God did everything that he is able to do! You talk like one
who says that God is able to make a calf out of a log. But DID he ever
do it? Either, then, show a reason why a thing is so, or a purpose
wherefore it is so, or else cease to declare it so."(206)

     (206) For this remonstrance, see the Elementa philosophiae, in Bede's
Opera (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol xc, p. 1139). This treatise, which has
also been printed, under the title of De philosophia mundi, among the
works of Honorius of Autun, is believed by modern scholars (Haureau,
Werner, Poole) to be the production of William of Conches.

The most permanent contribution of Bede to scientific thought in this
field was his revival of the view that the firmament is made of ice; and
he supported this from the words in the twenty-sixth chapter of Job,
"He bindeth up the waters in his thick cloud, and the cloud is not rent
under them."

About the beginning of the ninth century appeared the third in that
triumvirate of churchmen who were the oracles of sacred science
throughout the early Middle Ages--Rabanus Maurus, Abbot of Fulda and
Archbishop of Mayence. Starting, like all his predecessors, from the
first chapter of Genesis, borrowing here and there from the ancient
philosophers, and excluding everything that could conflict with the
letter of Scripture, he follows, in his work upon the universe, his
two predecessors, Isidore and Bede, developing especially St. Jerome's
theory, drawn from Ezekiel, that the firmament is strong enough to hold
up the "waters above the heavens," because it is made of ice.

For centuries the authority of these three great teachers was
unquestioned, and in countless manuals and catechisms their doctrine was
translated and diluted for the common mind. But about the second quarter
of the twelfth century a priest, Honorius of Autun, produced several
treatises which show that thought on this subject had made some little
progress. He explained the rain rationally, and mainly in the modern
manner; with the thunder he is less successful, but insists that the
thunderbolt "is not stone, as some assert." His thinking is vigorous
and independent. Had theorists such as he been many, a new science could
have been rapidly evolved, but the theological current was too strong.

     (207) For Rabanus Maurus, see the Comment. in Genesim and De Universo
(Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. cvii, cxi). For a charmingly naive example of
the primers referred to, see the little Anglo-Saxon manual of astronomy,
sometimes attributed to Aelfric; it is in the vernacular, but is
translated in Wright's Popular Treatises on Science during the Middle
Ages. Bede is, of course, its chief source. For Honorius, see De
imagine mundi and Hexaemeron (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. clxxii). The De
philosophia mundi, the most rational of all, is, however, believed by
modern scholars to be unjustly ascribed to him. See note above.

The strength of this current which overwhelmed the thought of Honorius
is seen again in the work of the Dominican monk, John of San Geminiano,
who in the thirteenth century gave forth his Summa de Exemplis for the
use of preachers in his order. Of its thousand pages, over two hundred
are devoted to illustrations drawn from the heavens and the elements.
A characteristic specimen is his explanation of the Psalmist's phrase,
"The arrows of the thunder." These, he tells us, are forged out of a dry
vapour rising from the earth and kindled by the heat of the upper air,
which then, coming into contact with a cloud just turning into rain,
"is conglutinated like flour into dough," but, being too hot to be
extinguished, its particles become merely sharpened at the lower end,
and so blazing arrows, cleaving and burning everything they touch.(208)

     (208) See Joannes a S. Geminiano, Summa, c. 75.

But far more important, in the thirteenth century, was the fact that the
most eminent scientific authority of that age, Albert the Great, Bishop
of Ratisbon, attempted to reconcile the speculations of Aristotle
with theological views derived from the fathers. In one very important
respect he improved upon the meteorological views of his great master.
The thunderbolt, he says, is no mere fire, but the product of black
clouds containing much mud, which, when it is baked by the intense heat,
forms a fiery black or red stone that falls from the sky, tearing
beams and crushing walls in its course: such he has seen with his own

     (209) See Albertus Magnus, II Sent., Op., vol. xv, p. 137, a. (cited
by Heller, Gesch. d. Physik, vol. i, p. 184) and his Liber Methaurorum,
III, iv, 18 (of which I have used the edition of Venice, 1488).

The monkish encyclopedists of the later Middle Ages added little to
these theories. As we glance over the pages of Vincent of Beauvais,
the monk Bartholomew, and William of Conches, we note only a growing
deference to the authority of Aristotle as supplementing that of Isidore
and Bede and explaining sacred Scripture. Aristotle is treated like
a Church father, but extreme care is taken not to go beyond the great
maxim of St. Augustine; then, little by little, Bede and Isidore
fall into the background, Aristotle fills the whole horizon, and his
utterances are second in sacredness only to the text of Holy Writ.

A curious illustration of the difficulties these medieval scholars had
to meet in reconciling the scientific theories of Aristotle with the
letter of the Bible is seen in the case of the rainbow. It is to the
honour of Aristotle that his conclusions regarding the rainbow, though
slightly erroneous, were based upon careful observation and evolved by
reasoning alone; but his Christian commentators, while anxious to follow
him, had to bear in mind the scriptural statement that God had created
the rainbow as a sign to Noah that there should never again be a
Flood on the earth. Even so bold a thinker as Cardinal d'Ailly, whose
speculations as to the geography of the earth did so much afterward in
stimulating Columbus, faltered before this statement, acknowledging that
God alone could explain it; but suggested that possibly never before the
Deluge had a cloud been suffered to take such a position toward the sun
as to cause a rainbow.

The learned cardinal was also constrained to believe that certain stars
and constellations have something to do in causing the rain, since these
would best explain Noah's foreknowledge of the Deluge. In connection
with this scriptural doctrine of winds came a scriptural doctrine of
earthquakes: they were believed to be caused by winds issuing from the
earth, and this view was based upon the passage in the one hundred and
thirty-fifth Psalm, "He bringeth the wind out of his treasuries."(210)

     (210) For D'Ailly, see his Concordia astronomicae veritatis cum
theologia (Paris, 1483--in the Imago mundi--and Venice, 1490); also
Eck's commentary on Aristotle's Meteorologica (Ausburg, 1519), lib. ii,
nota 2; also Reisch, Margarita philosophica, lib. ix, c. 18.

Such were the main typical attempts during nearly fourteen centuries to
build up under theological guidance and within scriptural limitations a
sacred science of meteorology. But these theories were mainly evolved
in the effort to establish a basis and general theory of phenomena: it
still remained to account for special manifestations, and here came a
twofold development of theological thought.

On one hand, these phenomena were attributed to the Almighty, and, on
the other, to Satan. As to the first of these theories, we constantly
find the Divine wrath mentioned by the earlier fathers as the cause of
lightning, hailstorms, hurricanes, and the like.

In the early days of Christianity we see a curious struggle between
pagan and Christian belief upon this point. Near the close of the second
century the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, in his effort to save the empire,
fought a hotly contested battle with the Quadi, in what is now Hungary.
While the issue of this great battle was yet doubtful there came
suddenly a blinding storm beating into the faces of the Quadi, and this
gave the Roman troops the advantage, enabling Marcus Aurelius to win a
decisive victory. Votaries of each of the great religions claimed that
this storm was caused by the object of their own adoration. The pagans
insisted that Jupiter had sent the storm in obedience to their prayers,
and on the Antonine Column at Rome we may still see the figure of
Olympian Jove casting his thunderbolts and pouring a storm of rain from
the open heavens against the Quadi. On the other hand, the Christians
insisted that the storm had been sent by Jehovah in obedience to THEIR
prayers; and Tertullian, Eusebius, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Jerome
were among those who insisted upon this meteorological miracle; the
first two, indeed, in the fervour of their arguments for its reality,
allowing themselves to be carried considerably beyond exact historical

     (211) For the authorities, pagan and Christian, see the note of
Merivale, in his History of the Romans under the Empire, chap. lxviii.
He refers for still fuller citations to Fynes Clinton's Fasti Rom., p.

As time went on, the fathers developed this view more and more from
various texts in the Jewish and Christian sacred books, substituting for
Jupiter flinging his thunderbolts the Almighty wrapped in thunder and
sending forth his lightnings. Through the Middle Ages this was fostered
until it came to be accepted as a mere truism, entering into all
medieval thinking, and was still further developed by an attempt to
specify the particular sins which were thus punished. Thus even the
rational Florentine historian Villani ascribed floods and fires to the
"too great pride of the city of Florence and the ingratitude of the
citizens toward God," which, "of course," says a recent historian,
"meant their insufficient attention to the ceremonies of religion."(212)

     (212) See Trollope, History of Florence, vol. i, p. 64.

In the thirteenth century the Cistercian monk, Caesarius of Heisterbach,
popularized the doctrine in central Europe. His rich collection of
anecdotes for the illustration of religious truths was the favourite
recreative reading in the convents for three centuries, and exercised
great influence over the thought of the later Middle Ages. In this work
he relates several instances of the Divine use of lightning, both
for rescue and for punishment. Thus he tells us how the steward
(cellerarius) of his own monastery was saved from the clutch of a robber
by a clap of thunder which, in answer to his prayer, burst suddenly
from the sky and frightened the bandit from his purpose: how, in a
Saxon theatre, twenty men were struck down, while a priest escaped,
not because he was not a greater sinner than the rest, but because the
thunderbolt had respect for his profession! It is Cesarius, too, who
tells us the story of the priest of Treves, struck by lightning in his
own church, whither he had gone to ring the bell against the storm, and
whose sins were revealed by the course of the lightning, for it tore his
clothes from him and consumed certain parts of his body, showing that
the sins for which he was punished were vanity and unchastity.(213)

     (213) See Caesarius Heisterbacensis, Dialogus miraculorum, lib. x, c.

This mode of explaining the Divine interference more minutely is
developed century after century, and we find both Catholics and
Protestants assigning as causes of unpleasant meteorological phenomena
whatever appears to them wicked or even unorthodox. Among the English
Reformers, Tyndale quotes in this kind of argument the thirteenth
chapter of I. Samuel, showing that, when God gave Israel a king, it
thundered and rained. Archbishop Whitgift, Bishop Bale, and Bishop
Pilkington insisted on the same view. In Protestant Germany, about the
same period, Plieninger took a dislike to the new Gregorian calendar and
published a volume of Brief Reflections, in which he insisted that
the elements had given utterance to God's anger against it, calling
attention to the fact that violent storms raged over almost all Germany
during the very ten days which the Pope had taken out for the correction
of the year, and that great floods began with the first days of the
corrected year.(214)

     (214) For Tyndale, see his Doctrinal Treatises, p. 194, and for
Whitgift, see his Works, vol. ii, pp. 477-483; Bale, Works, pp.
244, 245; and Pilkington, Works, pp. 177, 536 (all in Parker Society
Publications). Bishop Bale cites especially Job xxxviii, Ecclesiasticus
xiii, and Revelation viii, as supporting the theory. For Plieninger's
words, see Janssen, Geschichte des deutschen Volkes, vol. v, p. 350.

Early in the seventeenth century, Majoli, Bishop of Voltoraria, in
southern Italy, produced his huge work Dies Canicularii, or Dog Days,
which remained a favourite encyclopedia in Catholic lands for over a
hundred years. Treating of thunder and lightning, he compares them
to bombs against the wicked, and says that the thunderbolt is "an
exhalation condensed and cooked into stone," and that "it is not to be
doubted that, of all instruments of God's vengeance, the thunderbolt is
the chief"; that by means of it Sennacherib and his army were consumed;
that Luther was struck by lightning in his youth as a caution against
departing from the Catholic faith; that blasphemy and Sabbath-breaking
are the sins to which this punishment is especially assigned, and
he cites the case of Dathan and Abiram. Fifty years later the Jesuit
Stengel developed this line of thought still further in four thick
quarto volumes on the judgments of God, adding an elaborate schedule for
the use of preachers in the sermons of an entire year. Three chapters
were devoted to thunder, lightning, and storms. That the author teaches
the agency in these of diabolical powers goes without saying; but this
can only act, he declares, by Divine permission, and the thunderbolt is
always the finger of God, which rarely strikes a man save for his sins,
and the nature of the special sin thus punished may be inferred from the
bodily organs smitten. A few years later, in Protestant Swabia, Pastor
Georg Nuber issued a volume of "weather-sermons," in which he discusses
nearly every sort of elemental disturbances--storms, floods, droughts,
lightning, and hail. These, he says, come direct from God for human
sins, yet no doubt with discrimination, for there are five sins which
God especially punishes with lightning and hail--namely, impenitence,
incredulity, neglect of the repair of churches, fraud in the payment
of tithes to the clergy, and oppression of subordinates, each of which
points he supports with a mass of scriptural texts.(215)

     (215) For Majoli, see Dies Can., I, i; for Stengel, see the De judiciis
divinis, vol. ii, pp. 15-61, and especially the example of the impurus
et saltator sacerdos, fulmine castratus, pp. 26, 27. For Nuber, see his
Conciones meteoricae, Ulm, 1661.

This doctrine having become especially precious both to Catholics and to
Protestants, there were issued handbooks of prayers against bad weather:
among these was the Spiritual Thunder and Storm Booklet, produced in
1731 by a Protestant scholar, Stoltzlin, whose three or four hundred
pages of prayer and song, "sighs for use when it lightens fearfully,"
and "cries of anguish when the hailstorm is drawing on," show a
wonderful adaptability to all possible meteorological emergencies. The
preface of this volume is contributed by Prof. Dilherr, pastor of the
great church of St. Sebald at Nuremberg, who, in discussing the Divine
purposes of storms, adds to the three usually assigned--namely, God's
wish to manifest his power, to display his anger, and to drive sinners
to repentance--a fourth, which, he says, is that God may show us "with
what sort of a stormbell he will one day ring in the last judgment."

About the end of the first quarter of the eighteenth century we find,
in Switzerland, even the eminent and rational Professor of Mathematics,
Scheuchzer, publishing his Physica Sacra, with the Bible as a basis, and
forced to admit that the elements, in the most literal sense, utter the
voice of God. The same pressure was felt in New England. Typical are
the sermons of Increase Mather on The Voice of God in Stormy Winds. He
especially lays stress on the voice of God speaking to Job out of the
whirlwind, and upon the text, "Stormy wind fulfilling his word." He
declares, "When there are great tempests, the angels oftentimes have a
hand therein,... yea, and sometimes evil angels." He gives several cases
of blasphemers struck by lightning, and says, "Nothing can be more
dangerous for mortals than to contemn dreadful providences, and, in
particular, dreadful tempests."

His distinguished son, Cotton Mather, disentangled himself somewhat from
the old view, as he had done in the interpretation of comets. In his
Christian Philosopher, his Thoughts for the Day of Rain, and his Sermon
preached at the Time of the Late Storm (in 1723), he is evidently
tending toward the modern view. Yet, from time to time, the older view
has reasserted itself, and in France, as recently as the year 1870, we
find the Bishop of Verdun ascribing the drought afflicting his diocese
to the sin of Sabbath-breaking.(216)

     (216) For Stoltzlin, see his Geistliches Donner- und Wetter-Buchlein
(Zurich, 1731). For Increase Mather, see his The Voice of God, etc.
(Boston, 1704). This rare volume is in the rich collection of the
American Antiquarian Society at Worcester. For Cotton Mather's view, see
the chapter From Signs and Wonders to Law, in this work. For the Bishop
of Verdun, see the Semaine relig. de Lorraine, 1879, p. 445 (cited by
"Paul Parfait," in his Dossier des Pelerinages, pp. 141-143).

This theory, which attributed injurious meteorological phenomena mainly
to the purposes of God, was a natural development, and comparatively
harmless; but at a very early period there was evolved another theory,
which, having been ripened into a doctrine, cost the earth dear indeed.
Never, perhaps, in the modern world has there been a dogma more prolific
of physical, mental, and moral agony throughout whole nations and during
whole centuries. This theory, its development by theology, its fearful
results to mankind, and its destruction by scientific observation and
thought, will next be considered.


While the fathers and schoolmen were labouring to deduce a science of
meteorology from our sacred books, there oozed up in European society a
mass of traditions and observances which had been lurking since the days
of paganism; and, although here and there appeared a churchman to oppose
them, the theologians and ecclesiastics ere long began to adopt them and
to clothe them with the authority of religion.

Both among the pagans of the Roman Empire and among the barbarians of
the North the Christian missionaries had found it easier to prove the
new God supreme than to prove the old gods powerless. Faith in the
miracles of the new religion seemed to increase rather than to diminish
faith in the miracles of the old; and the Church at last began admitting
the latter as facts, but ascribing them to the devil. Jupiter and Odin
sank into the category of ministers of Satan, and transferred to
that master all their former powers. A renewed study of Scripture by
theologians elicited overwhelming proofs of the truth of this doctrine.
Stress was especially laid on the declaration of Scripture, "The gods of
the heathen are devils."(217) Supported by this and other texts, it soon
became a dogma. So strong was the hold it took, under the influence
of the Church, that not until late in the seventeenth century did its
substantial truth begin to be questioned.

     (217) For so the Vulgate and all the early versions rendered Ps. xcvi,

With no field of action had the sway of the ancient deities been more
identified than with that of atmospheric phenomena. The Roman heard
Jupiter, and the Teuton heard Thor, in the thunder. Could it be doubted
that these powerful beings would now take occasion, unless hindered by
the command of the Almighty, to vent their spite against those who had
deserted their altars? Might not the Almighty himself be willing to
employ the malice of these powers of the air against those who had
offended him?

It was, indeed, no great step, for those whose simple faith accepted
rain or sunshine as an answer to their prayers, to suspect that the
untimely storms or droughts, which baffled their most earnest petitions,
were the work of the archenemy, "the prince of the power of the air."

The great fathers of the Church had easily found warrant for this
doctrine in Scripture. St. Jerome declared the air to be full of devils,
basing this belief upon various statements in the prophecies of Isaiah
and in the Epistle to the Ephesians. St. Augustine held the same view as
beyond controversy.(218)

     (218) For St. Jerome, see his Com. in Ep. ad Ephesios (lib. iii, cap.6):
commenting on the text, "Our battle is not with flesh and blood," he
explains this as meaning the devils in the air, and adds, "Nam et in
alio loco de daemonibus quod in aere isto vagentur, Apostolus ait:
In quibus ambulastis aliquando juxta Saeculum mundi istius, secundum
principem potestatis aeris spiritus, qui nunc operatur in filos
diffidentiae (Eph, ii,2). Haec autem omnium doctorum opinio est, quod
aer iste qui coelum et terram medius dividens, inane appellatur, plenus
sit contrariis fortitudinibus." See also his Com. in Isaiam, lib. xiii,
cap. 50 (Migne, Patr. Lat., vol. xxiv, p. 477). For Augustine, see the
De Civitate Dei, passim.

During the Middle Ages this doctrine of the diabolical origin of storms
went on gathering strength. Bede had full faith in it, and narrates
various anecdotes in support of it. St. Thomas Aquinas gave it his
sanction, saying in his all authoritative Summa, "Rains and winds, and
whatsoever occurs by local impulse alone, can be caused by demons."
"It is," he says, "a dogma of faith that the demons can produce wind,
storms, and rain of fire from heaven."

Albert the Great taught the same doctrine, and showed how a
certain salve thrown into a spring produced whirlwinds. The great
Franciscan--the "seraphic doctor"--St. Bonaventura, whose services to
theology earned him one of the highest places in the Church, and to whom
Dante gave special honour in paradise, set upon this belief his high
authority. The lives of the saints, and the chronicles of the Middle
Ages, were filled with it. Poetry and painting accepted the idea and
developed it. Dante wedded it to verse, and at Venice this thought
may still be seen embodied in one of the grand pictures of Bordone: a
shipload of demons is seen approaching Venice in a storm, threatening
destruction to the city, but St. Mark, St. George, and St. Nicholas
attack the vessel, and disperse the hellish crew.(219)

     (219) For Bede, see the Hist. Eccles., vol. i, p. 17; Vita Cuthberti,
c. 17 (Migne, tome xliv). For Thomas Aquinas, see the Summa, pars I, qu.
lxxx, art. 2. The second citation I owe to Rydberg, Magic of the Middle
Ages, p. 73, where the whole interesting passage is given at length. For
Albertus Magnus, see the De Potentia Daemonum (cited by Maury, Legendes
Pieuses). For Bonaventura, see the Comp. Theol. Veritat., ii, 26. For
Dante, see Purgatorio, c. 5. On Bordone's picture, see Maury, Legendes
Pieuses, p. 18, note.

The popes again and again sanctioned this doctrine, and it was
amalgamated with various local superstitions, pious imaginations, and
interesting arguments, to strike the fancy of the people at large. A
strong argument in favour of a diabolical origin of the thunderbolt
was afforded by the eccentricities of its operation. These attracted
especial attention in the Middle Ages, and the popular love of marvel
generalized isolated phenomena into rules. Thus it was said that the
lightning strikes the sword in the sheath, gold in the purse, the
foot in the shoe, leaving sheath and purse and shoe unharmed; that it
consumes a human being internally without injuring the skin; that it
destroys nets in the water, but not on the land; that it kills one
man, and leaves untouched another standing beside him; that it can tear
through a house and enter the earth without moving a stone from its
place; that it injures the heart of a tree, but not the bark; that wine
is poisoned by it, while poisons struck by it lose their venom; that a
man's hair may be consumed by it and the man be unhurt.(220)

     (220) See, for lists of such admiranda, any of the early writers--e. g.,
Vincent of Beauvais, Reisch's Margarita, or Eck's Aristotle.

These peculiar phenomena, made much of by the allegorizing sermonizers
of the day, were used in moral lessons from every pulpit. Thus the
Carmelite, Matthias Farinator, of Vienna, who at the Pope's own instance
compiled early in the fifteenth century that curious handbook of
illustrative examples for preachers, the Lumen Animae, finds a spiritual
analogue for each of these anomalies.(221)

     (221) See the Lumen animae, Eichstadt, 1479.

This doctrine grew, robust and noxious, until, in the fifteenth,
sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, we find its bloom in a multitude
of treatises by the most learned of the Catholic and Protestant divines,
and its fruitage in the torture chambers and on the scaffolds throughout
Christendom. At the Reformation period, and for nearly two hundred years
afterward, Catholics and Protestants vied with each other in promoting
this growth. John Eck, the great opponent of Luther, gave to the
world an annotated edition of Aristotle's Physics, which was long
authoritative in the German universities; and, though the text is free
from this doctrine, the woodcut illustrating the earth's atmosphere
shows most vividly, among the clouds of mid-air, the devils who there
reign supreme.(222)

     (222) See Eck, Aristotelis Meteorologica, Augsburg, 1519.

Luther, in the other religious camp, supported the superstition even
more zealously, asserting at times his belief that the winds themselves
are only good or evil spirits, and declaring that a stone thrown into a
certain pond in his native region would cause a dreadful storm because
of the devils, kept prisoners there.(223)

     (223) For Luther, see the Table Talk; also Michelet, Life of Luther
(translated by Hazlitt, p. 321).

Just at the close of the same century, Catholics and Protestants
welcomed alike the great work of Delrio. In this, the power of devils
over the elements is proved first from the Holy Scriptures, since, he
declares, "they show that Satan brought fire down from heaven to consume
the servants and flocks of Job, and that he stirred up a violent
wind, which overwhelmed in ruin the sons and daughters of Job at their
feasting." Next, Delrio insists on the agreement of all the orthodox
fathers, that it was the devil himself who did this, and attention is
called to the fact that the hail with which the Egyptians were punished
is expressly declared in Holy Scripture to have been brought by the
evil angels. Citing from the Apocalypse, he points to the four angels
standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the winds and
preventing their doing great damage to mortals; and he dwells especially
upon the fact that the devil is called by the apostle a "prince of the
power of the air." He then goes on to cite the great fathers of the
Church--Clement, Jerome, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas.(224)

     (224) For Delrio, see his Disquisitiones Magicae, first printed at Liege
in 1599-1600, but reprinted again and again throughout the seventeenth
century. His interpretation of Psalm lxxviii, 47-49, was apparently
shared by the translators of our own authorized edition. For citations
by him, see Revelation vii, 1,; Ephesians ii, 2. Even according to
modern commentators (e.g., Alford), the word here translated "power"
denotes not MIGHT, but GOVERNMENT, COURT, HIERARCHY; and in this sense
it was always used by the ecclesiastical writers, whose conception
is best rendered by our plural--"powers." See Delrio, Disquisitiones
Magicae, lib. ii, c. 11.

This doctrine was spread not only in ponderous treatises, but in light
literature and by popular illustrations. In the Compendium Maleficarum
of the Italian monk Guacci, perhaps the most amusing book in the whole
literature of witchcraft, we may see the witch, in propria persona,
riding the diabolic goat through the clouds while the storm rages around
and beneath her; and we may read a rich collection of anecdotes, largely
contemporary, which establish the required doctrine beyond question.

The first and most natural means taken against this work of Satan in the
air was prayer; and various petitions are to be found scattered through
the Christian liturgies--some very beautiful and touching. This means of
escape has been relied upon, with greater or less faith, from those days
to these. Various medieval saints and reformers, and devoted men in
all centuries, from St. Giles to John Wesley, have used it with results
claimed to be miraculous. Whatever theory any thinking man may hold
in the matter, he will certainly not venture a reproachful word: such
prayers have been in all ages a natural outcome of the mind of man in

     (225) For Guacci, see his Compendium Maleficarum (Milan, 1608). For the
cases of St. Giles, John Wesley, and others stilling the tempests, see
Brewer, Dictionary of Miracles, s. v. Prayer.

But against the "power of the air" were used other means of a very
different character and tendency, and foremost among these was exorcism.
In an exorcism widely used and ascribed to Pope Gregory XIII, the
formula is given: "I, a priest of Christ,... do command ye, most foul
spirits, who do stir up these clouds,... that ye depart from them, and
disperse yourselves into wild and untilled places, that ye may be no
longer able to harm men or animals or fruits or herbs, or whatsoever
is designed for human use." But this is mild, indeed, compared to some
later exorcisms, as when the ritual runs: "All the people shall rise,
and the priest, turning toward the clouds, shall pronounce these
words: 'I exorcise ye, accursed demons, who have dared to use, for the
accomplishment of your iniquity, those powers of Nature by which God in
divers ways worketh good to mortals; who stir up winds, gather vapours,
form clouds, and condense them into hail.... I exorcise ye,... that
ye relinquish the work ye have begun, dissolve the hail, scatter the
clouds, disperse the vapours, and restrain the winds.'" The rubric goes
on to order that then there shall be a great fire kindled in an open
place, and that over it the sign of the cross shall be made, and the one
hundred and fourteenth Psalm chanted, while malodorous substances, among
them sulphur and asafoetida, shall be cast into the flames. The purpose
seems to have been literally to "smoke out" Satan.(226)

     (226) See Polidorus Valerius, Practica exorcistarum; also the Thesaurus
exorcismorum (Cologne, 1626), pp. 158-162.

Manuals of exorcisms became important--some bulky quartos, others
handbooks. Noteworthy among the latter is one by the Italian priest
Locatelli, entitled Exorcisms most Powerful and Efficacious for the
Dispelling of Aerial Tempests, whether raised by Demons at their own
Instance or at the Beck of some Servant of the Devil.(227)

     (227) That is, Exorcismi, etc. A "corrected" second edition was printed
at Laybach, 1680, in 24mo, to which is appended another manual of Preces
et conjurationes contra aereas tempestates, omnibus sacerdotibus utiles
et necessaria, printed at the monastery of Kempten (in Bavaria) in 1667.
The latter bears as epigraph the passage from the gospels describing
Christ's stilling of the winds.

The Jesuit Gretser, in his famous book on Benedictions and Maledictions,
devotes a chapter to this subject, dismissing summarily the scepticism
that questions the power of devils over the elements, and adducing the
story of Job as conclusive.(228)

     (228) See Gretser, De benedictionibus et maledictionibus, lib. ii, c.

Nor was this theory of exorcism by any means confined to the elder
Church. Luther vehemently upheld it, and prescribed especially the first
chapter of St. John's gospel as of unfailing efficacy against thunder
and lightning, declaring that he had often found the mere sign of the
cross, with the text, "The word was made flesh," sufficient to put
storms to flight.(229)

     (229) So, at least, says Gretser (in his De ben. et aml., as above).

From the beginning of the Middle Ages until long after the Reformation
the chronicles give ample illustration of the successful use of such
exorcisms. So strong was the belief in them that it forced itself into
minds comparatively rational, and found utterance in treatises of much

But, since exorcisms were found at times ineffectual, other means were
sought, and especially fetiches of various sorts. One of the earliest of
these appeared when Pope Alexander I, according to tradition, ordained
that holy water should be kept in churches and bedchambers to drive
away devils.(230) Another safeguard was found in relics, and of similar
efficacy were the so-called "conception billets" sold by the Carmelite
monks. They contained a formula upon consecrated paper, at which the
devil might well turn pale. Buried in the corner of a field, one of
these was thought to give protection against bad weather and destructive

     (230) "Instituit ut aqua quam sanctum appellamus sale admixta
interpositus sacris orationibus et in templis et in cubiculis ad
fugandos daemones retineretur." Platina, Vitae Pontif. But the story is
from the False Decretals.

     (231) See Rydberg, The Magic of the Middle Ages, translated by Edgren,
pp. 63-66.

But highest in repute during centuries was the Agnus Dei--a piece of wax
blessed by the Pope's own hand, and stamped with the well-known device
representing the "Lamb of God." Its powers were so marvellous that Pope
Urban V thought three of these cakes a fitting gift from himself to the
Greek Emperor. In the Latin doggerel recounting their virtues, their
meteorological efficacy stands first, for especial stress is laid on
their power of dispelling the thunder. The stress thus laid by Pope
Urban, as the infallible guide of Christendom, on the efficacy of this
fetich, gave it great value throughout Europe, and the doggerel verses
reciting its virtues sank deep into the popular mind. It was
considered a most potent means of dispelling hail, pestilence, storms,
conflagrations, and enchantments; and this feeling was deepened by the
rules and rites for its consecration. So solemn was the matter, that the
manufacture and sale of this particular fetich was, by a papal bull of
1471, reserved for the Pope himself, and he only performed the required
ceremony in the first and seventh years of his pontificate. Standing
unmitred, he prayed: "O God,... we humbly beseech thee that thou wilt
bless these waxen forms, figured with the image of an innocent lamb,...
that, at the touch and sight of them, the faithful may break forth into
praises, and that the crash of hailstorms, the blast of hurricanes, the
violence of tempests, the fury of winds, and the malice of thunderbolts
may be tempered, and evil spirits flee and tremble before the standard
of thy holy cross, which is graven upon them."(232)

     (232) These pious charms are still in use in the Church, and may be
found described in any ecclesiastical cyclopaedia. The doggerel verses
run as follows:

"Tonitrua magna terret, Inimicos nostras domat Et peccata nostra delet;
Praegnantem cum partu salvat, Ab incendio praeservat, Dona dignis multa
confert, A subersione servat, Utque malis mala defert. A morte cita
liberat, Portio, quamvis parva sit, Et Cacodaemones fugat, Ut magna
tamen proficit."

See these verses cited in full faith, so late as 1743, in Father Vincent
of Berg's Enchiridium, pp. 23, 24, where is an ample statement of the
virtues of the Agnus Dei, and istructions for its use. A full account
of the rites used in consecrating this fetich, with the prayers and
benedictions which gave colour to this theory of the powers of the Agnus
Dei, may be found in the ritual of the Church. I have used the edition
entitled Sacrarum ceremoniarum sive rituum Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae
libri tres, Rome, 1560, in folio. The form of the papal prayer is as
follows: "Deus... te supplicater deprecamur, ut... has cereas formas,
innocentissimi agni imagine figuritas, benedicere... digneris, ut per
ejus tactum et visum fideles invitentur as laudes, fragor grandinum,
procella turbinum, impetus tempestatum, ventorum rabies, infesta
tonitrua temperentur, fugiant atque tremiscant maligni spiritus ante
Sanctae Crucis vexillum, quod in illis exculptum est...."(Sacr. Cer.
Rom. Eccl., as above). If any are curious as to the extent to which this
consecrated wax was a specific for all spiritual and most temporal ills
during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, let them consult the
Jesuit Litterae annuae, passim.

Another favourite means with the clergy of the older Church for bringing
to naught the "power of the air," was found in great processions bearing
statues, relics, and holy emblems through the streets. Yet even these
were not always immediately effective. One at Liege, in the thirteenth
century, thrice proved unsuccessful in bringing rain, when at last
it was found that the image of the Virgin had been forgotten! A new
procession was at once formed, the Salve Regina sung, and the rain came
down in such torrents as to drive the devotees to shelter.(233)

     (233) John of Winterthur describes many such processions in Switzerland
in the thirteenth century, and all the monkish chronicles speak of them.
See also Rydberg, Magic of the Middle Ages, p. 74.

In Catholic lands this custom remains to this day, and very important
features in these processions are the statues and the reliquaries of
patron saints. Some of these excel in bringing sunshine, others in
bringing rain. The Cathedral of Chartres is so fortunate as to possess
sundry relics of St. Taurin, especially potent against dry weather,
and some of St. Piat, very nearly as infallible against wet weather. In
certain regions a single saint gives protection alternately against wet
and dry weather--as, for example, St. Godeberte at Noyon. Against storms
St. Barbara is very generally considered the most powerful protectress;
but, in the French diocese of Limoges, Notre Dame de Crocq has proved a
most powerful rival, for when, a few years since, all the neighbouring
parishes were ravaged by storms, not a hailstone fell in the canton
which she protected. In the diocese of Tarbes, St. Exupere is especially
invoked against hail, peasants flocking from all the surrounding country
to his shrine.(234)

     (234) As to protection by special saints as stated, see the Guide du
touriste et du pelerin a Chartes, 1867 (cited by "Paul Parfait," in his
Dossier des Pelerinages); also pp. 139-145 of the Dossier.

But the means of baffling the powers of the air which came to be most
widely used was the ringing of consecrated church bells.

This usage had begun in the time of Charlemagne, and there is extant a
prohibition of his against the custom of baptizing bells and of hanging
certain tags(235) on their tongues as a protection against hailstorms;
but even Charlemagne was powerless against this current of medieval
superstition. Theological reasons were soon poured into it, and in the
year 968 Pope John XIII gave it the highest ecclesiastical sanction by
himself baptizing the great bell of his cathedral church, the Lateran,
and christening it with his own name.(236)

     (235) Perticae. See Montanus, Hist. Nachricht van den Glocken (Chenmitz,
1726), p. 121; and Meyer, Der Aberglaube des Mittelalters, p. 186.

     (236) For statements regarding Pope John and bell superstitions, see
Higgins's Anacalypsis, vol. ii, p. 70. See also Platina, Vitae Pontif.,
s. v. John XIII, and Baronius, Annales Ecclesiastici, sub anno 968.
The conjecture of Baronius that the bell was named after St. John the
Baptist, is even more startling than the accepted tradition of the
Pope's sponsorship.

This idea was rapidly developed, and we soon find it supported in
ponderous treatises, spread widely in sermons, and popularized in
multitudes of inscriptions cast upon the bells themselves. This branch
of theological literature may still be studied in multitudes of church
towers throughout Europe. A bell at Basel bears the inscription, "Ad
fugandos demones." Another, in Lugano, declares "The sound of this bell
vanquishes tempests, repels demons, and summons men." Another, at
the Cathedral of Erfurt, declares that it can "ward off lightning and
malignant demons." A peal in the Jesuit church at the university town
of Pont-a-Mousson bore the words, "They praise God, put to flight the
clouds, affright the demons, and call the people." This is dated 1634.
Another bell in that part of France declares, "It is I who dissipate the
thunders"(Ego sum qui dissipo tonitrua).(237)

     (237) For these illustrations, with others equally striking, see Meyer,
Der Aberglaube des Mittelalters, pp. 185, 186. For the later examples,
see Germain, Anciennes cloches lorraines (Nancy, 1885), pp. 23, 27.

Another, in one of the forest cantons of Switzerland, bears a doggerel
couplet, which may be thus translated:

"On the devil my spite I'll vent, And, God helping, bad weather

     (238) "An dem Tufel will cih mich rachen, Mit der hilf gotz alle bosen
wetter erbrechen." (See Meyer, as above.)

Very common were inscriptions embodying this doctrine in sonorous Latin.

Naturally, then, there grew up a ritual for the consecration of bells.
Knollys, in his quaint translation of the old chronicler Sleidan,
gives us the usage in the simple English of the middle of the sixteenth

"In lyke sorte (as churches) are the belles used. And first, forsouth,
they must hange so, as the Byshop may goe round about them. Whiche
after he hath sayde certen Psalmes, he consecrateth water and salte, and
mingleth them together, wherwith he washeth the belle diligently both
within and without, after wypeth it drie, and with holy oyle draweth in
it the signe of the crosse, and prayeth God, that whan they shall rynge
or sounde that bell, all the disceiptes of the devyll may vanyshe away,
hayle, thondryng, lightening, wyndes, and tempestes, and all untemperate
weathers may be aswaged. Whan he hath wipte out the crosse of oyle wyth
a linen cloth, he maketh seven other crosses in the same, and within
one only. After saying certen Psalmes, he taketh a payre of sensours and
senseth the bel within, and prayeth God to sende it good lucke. In many
places they make a great dyner, and kepe a feast as it were at a solemne

     (239) Sleiden's Commentaries, English translation, as above, fol. 334
(lib. xxi, sub anno 1549).

These bell baptisms became matters of great importance. Popes, kings,
and prelates were proud to stand as sponsors. Four of the bells at
the Cathedral of Versailles having been destroyed during the French
Revolution, four new ones were baptized, on the 6th of January, 1824,
the Voltairean King, Louis XVIII, and the pious Duchess d'Angouleme
standing as sponsors.

In some of these ceremonies zeal appears to have outrun knowledge, and
one of Luther's stories, at the expense of the older Church, was that
certain authorities thus christened a bell "Hosanna," supposing that to
be the name of a woman.

To add to the efficacy of such baptisms, water was sometimes brought
from the river Jordan.(240)

     (240) See Montanus, as above, who cites Beck, Lutherthum vor Luthero,
p. 294, for the statement that many bells were carried to the Jordan by
pilgrims for this purpose.

The prayers used at bell baptisms fully recognise this doctrine. The
ritual of Paris embraces the petition that, "whensoever this bell
shall sound, it shall drive away the malign influences of the assailing
spirits, the horror of their apparitions, the rush of whirlwinds, the
stroke of lightning, the harm of thunder, the disasters of storms, and
all the spirits of the tempest." Another prayer begs that "the sound of
this bell may put to flight the fiery darts of the enemy of men"; and
others vary the form but not the substance of this petition. The great
Jesuit theologian, Bellarmin, did indeed try to deny the reality of this
baptism; but this can only be regarded as a piece of casuistry suited
to Protestant hardness of heart, or as strategy in the warfare against

     (241) For prayers at bell baptisms, see Arago, Oeuvres, Paris, 1854,
vol. iv, p. 322.

Forms of baptism were laid down in various manuals sanctioned directly
by papal authority, and sacramental efficacy was everywhere taken for
granted.(242) The development of this idea in the older Church was too
strong to be resisted;(243) but, as a rule, the Protestant theologians
of the Reformation, while admitting that storms were caused by Satan
and his legions, opposed the baptism of bells, and denied the theory of
their influence in dispersing storms. Luther, while never doubting that
troublesome meteorological phenomena were caused by devils, regarded
with contempt the idea that the demons were so childish as to be scared
by the clang of bells; his theory made them altogether too powerful to
be affected by means so trivial. The great English Reformers, while also
accepting very generally the theory of diabolic interference in storms,
reproved strongly the baptizing of bells, as the perversion of a
sacrament and involving blasphemy. Bishop Hooper declared reliance upon
bells to drive away tempests, futile. Bishop Pilkington, while arguing
that tempests are direct instruments of God's wrath, is very severe
against using "unlawful means," and among these he names "the hallowed
bell"; and these opinions were very generally shared by the leading
English clergy.(244)

     (242) As has often been pointed out, the ceremony was in all its
details--even to the sponsors, the wrapping a garment about the
baptised, the baptismal fee, the feast--precisely the same as when a
child was baptised. Magius, who is no sceptic, relates from his own
experience an instant of this sort, where a certain bishop stood sponsor
for two bells, giving them both his own name--William. (See his De
Tintinnabulis, vol. xiv.)

     (243) And no wonder, when the oracle of the Church, Thomas Aquinas,
expressly pronounced church bells, "provided they have been duly
consecrated and baptised," the foremost means of "frustrating the
atmospheric mischiefs of the devil," and likened steeples in which
bells are ringing to a hen brooding her chickens, "for the tones of the
consecrated metal repel the demons and avert storm and lightning"; when
pre-Reformation preachers of such universal currency as Johannes Herolt
declared, "Bells, as all agree, are baptised with the result that they
are secure from the power of Satan, terrify the demons, compel the
powers"; when Geiler of Kaiserberg especially commended bell-ringing
as a means of beating off the devil in storms; and when a canonist
like Durandus explained the purpose of the rite to be, that "the demons
hearing the trumpets of the Eternal King, to wit, the bells, may flee
in terror, and may cease from the stirring up of tempests." See Herolt,
Sermones Discipuli, vol. xvii, and Durandus, De ritibus ecclesiae, vol.
ii, p. 12. I owe the first of these citations to Rydberg, and the others
to Montanus. For Geiler, see Dacheux, Geiler de Kaiserberg, pp. 280,

     (244) The baptism of bells was indeed, one of the express complaints
of the German Protestant princes at the Reformation. See their Gravam.
Cent. German. Grav., p. 51. For Hooper, see his Early Writings, p. 197
(in Parker Society Publications). For Pilkington, see his Works, p.
177 (in same). Among others sharing these opinions were Tyndale, Bishop
Ridley, Archbishop Sandys, Becon, Calfhill, and Rogers. It is to be
noted that all of these speak of the rite as "baptism."

Toward the end of the sixteenth century the Elector of Saxony strictly
forbade the ringing of bells against storms, urging penance and prayer
instead; but the custom was not so easily driven out of the Protestant
Church, and in some quarters was developed a Protestant theory of a
rationalistic sort, ascribing the good effects of bell-ringing in storms
to the calling together of the devout for prayer or to the suggestion
of prayers during storms at night. As late as the end of the seventeenth
century we find the bells of Protestant churches in northern Germany
rung for the dispelling of tempests. In Catholic Austria this
bell-ringing seems to have become a nuisance in the last century, for
the Emperor Joseph II found it necessary to issue an edict against
it; but this doctrine had gained too large headway to be arrested by
argument or edict, and the bells may be heard ringing during storms to
this day in various remote districts in Europe.(245) For this was no
mere superficial view. It was really part of a deep theological current
steadily developed through the Middle Ages, the fundamental idea of the
whole being the direct influence of the bells upon the "Power of the
Air"; and it is perhaps worth our while to go back a little and glance
over the coming of this current into the modern world. Having grown
steadily through the Middle Ages, it appeared in full strength at
the Reformation period; and in the sixteenth century Olaus Magnus,
Archbishop of Upsala and Primate of Sweden, in his great work on the
northern nations, declares it a well-established fact that cities and
harvests may be saved from lightning by the ringing of bells and the
burning of consecrated incense, accompanied by prayers; and he cautions
his readers that the workings of the thunderbolt are rather to be
marvelled at than inquired into. Even as late as 1673 the Franciscan
professor Lealus, in Italy, in a schoolbook which was received with
great applause in his region, taught unhesitatingly the agency of
demons in storms, and the power of bells over them, as well as the
portentousness of comets and the movement of the heavens by angels.
He dwells especially, too, upon the perfect protection afforded by the
waxen Agnus Dei. How strong this current was, and how difficult even for
philosophical minds to oppose, is shown by the fact that both Descartes
and Francis Bacon speak of it with respect, admitting the fact, and
suggesting very mildly that the bells may accomplish this purpose by the
concussion of the air.(246)

     (245) For Elector of Saxony, see Peuchen, Disp. circa tempestates,
Jena, 1697. For the Protestant theory of bells, see, e. g., the Ciciones
Selectae of Superintendent Conrad Dieterich (cited by Peuchen, Disp.
circa tempestates). For Protestant ringing of bells to dispel tempests,
see Schwimmer, Physicalische Luftfragen, 1692 (cited by Peuchen, as
above). He pictures the whole population of a Thuringinian district
flocking to the churches on the approach of a storm.

     (246) For Olaus Magnus, see the De gentibus septentrionalibus (Rome,
1555), lib. i, c. 12, 13. For Descartes, see his De meteor., cent.
2, 127. In his Historia Ventorum he again alludes to the belief, and
without comment.

But no such moderate doctrine sufficed, and the renowned Bishop
Binsfeld, of Treves, in his noted treatise on the credibility of the
confessions of witches, gave an entire chapter to the effect of bells in
calming atmospheric disturbances. Basing his general doctrine upon the
first chapter of Job and the second chapter of Ephesians, he insisted
on the reality of diabolic agency in storms; and then, by theological
reasoning, corroborated by the statements extorted in the torture
chamber, he showed the efficacy of bells in putting the hellish legions
to flight.(247) This continued, therefore, an accepted tenet,
developed in every nation, and coming to its climax near the end of the
seventeenth century. At that period--the period of Isaac Newton--Father
Augustine de Angelis, rector of the Clementine College at Rome,
published under the highest Church authority his lectures upon
meteorology. Coming from the centre of Catholic Christendom, at so late
a period, they are very important as indicating what had been developed
under the influence of theology during nearly seventeen hundred years.
This learned head of a great college at the heart of Christendom taught
that "the surest remedy against thunder is that which our Holy Mother
the Church practises, namely, the ringing of bells when a thunderbolt
impends: thence follows a twofold effect, physical and moral--a
physical, because the sound variously disturbs and agitates the air, and
by agitation disperses the hot exhalations and dispels the thunder; but
the moral effect is the more certain, because by the sound the faithful
are stirred to pour forth their prayers, by which they win from God the
turning away of the thunderbolt." Here we see in this branch of thought,
as in so many others, at the close of the seventeenth century, the dawn
of rationalism. Father De Angelis now keeps demoniacal influence in
the background. Little, indeed, is said of the efficiency of bells in
putting to flight the legions of Satan: the wise professor is evidently
preparing for that inevitable compromise which we see in the history of
every science when it is clear that it can no longer be suppressed by
ecclesiastical fulminations.(248)

     (247) See Binsfeld, De Confessionbus Malef., pp. 308-314, edition of

     (248) For De Angelis, see his Lectiones Meteorol., p. 75.


But, while this comparatively harmless doctrine of thwarting the powers
of the air by fetiches and bell-ringing was developed, there were
evolved another theory, and a series of practices sanctioned by the
Church, which must forever be considered as among the most fearful
calamities in human history. Indeed, few errors have ever cost so much
shedding of innocent blood over such wide territory and during so many
generations. Out of the old doctrine--pagan and Christian--of evil
agency in atmospheric phenomena was evolved the belief that certain men,
women, and children may secure infernal aid to produce whirlwinds, hail,
frosts, floods, and the like.

As early as the ninth century one great churchman, Agobard, Archbishop
of Lyons, struck a heavy blow at this superstition. His work, Against
the Absurd Opinion of the Vulgar touching Hail and Thunder, shows him
to have been one of the most devoted apostles of right reason whom human
history has known. By argument and ridicule, and at times by a
lofty eloquence, he attempted to breast this tide. One passage is of
historical significance. He declares: "The wretched world lies now under
the tyranny of foolishness; things are believed by Christians of
such absurdity as no one ever could aforetime induce the heathen to

     (249) For a very interesting statement of Agobard's position and
work, with citations from his Liber contra insulsam vulgi opinionem
de grandine et tonitruis, see Poole, Illustrations of the History of
Mediaeval Thought, pp. 40 et seq. The works of Agobard are in vol. civ
of Migne's Patrol. Lat.

All in vain; the tide of superstition continued to roll on; great
theologians developed it and ecclesiastics favoured it; until as we near
the end of the medieval period the infallible voice of Rome is heard
accepting it, and clinching this belief into the mind of Christianity.
For, in 1437, Pope Eugene IV, by virtue of the teaching power conferred
on him by the Almighty, and under the divine guarantee against any
possible error in the exercise of it, issued a bull exhorting the
inquisitors of heresy and witchcraft to use greater diligence against
the human agents of the Prince of Darkness, and especially against those
who have the power to produce bad weather. In 1445 Pope Eugene returned
again to the charge, and again issued instructions and commands
infallibly committing the Church to the doctrine. But a greater than
Eugene followed, and stamped the idea yet more deeply into the mind of
the Church. On the 7th of December, 1484, Pope Innocent VIII sent forth
his bull Summis Desiderantes. Of all documents ever issued from Rome,
imperial or papal, this has doubtless, first and last, cost the greatest
shedding of innocent blood. Yet no document was ever more clearly
dictated by conscience. Inspired by the scriptural command, "Thou
shalt not suffer a witch to live," Pope Innocent exhorted the clergy of
Germany to leave no means untried to detect sorcerers, and especially
those who by evil weather destroy vineyards, gardens, meadows,
and growing crops. These precepts were based upon various texts of
Scripture, especially upon the famous statement in the book of Job; and,
to carry them out, witch-finding inquisitors were authorized by the Pope
to scour Europe, especially Germany, and a manual was prepared for their
use--the Witch-Hammer, Malleus Maleficarum. In this manual, which was
revered for centuries, both in Catholic and Protestant countries, as
almost divinely inspired, the doctrine of Satanic agency in atmospheric
phenomena was further developed, and various means of detecting and
punishing it were dwelt upon.(250)

     (250) For the bull of Pope Eugene, see Raynaldus, Annales Eccl., pp.
1437, 1445. The Latin text of the bull Summis Desiderantes may now be
found in the Malleus Maleficarum, in Binsfeld's De Confessionibus cited
below, or in Roskoff's Geschichte des Teufles (Leipsic, 1869), vol.
i, pp. 222-225. There is, so far as I know, no good analysis, in any
English book, of the contents of the Witch-Hammer; but such may be
found in Roskoff's Geschichte des Teufels, or in Soldan's Geschichte der
Hexenprozesse. Its first dated edition is that of 1489; but Prof. Burr
has shown that it was printed as early as 1486. It was, happily, never
translated into any modern tongue.

With the application of torture to thousands of women, in accordance
with the precepts laid down in the Malleus, it was not difficult to
extract masses of proof for this sacred theory of meteorology. The poor
creatures, writhing on the rack, held in horror by those who had been
nearest and dearest to them, anxious only for death to relieve their
sufferings, confessed to anything and everything that would satisfy the
inquisitors and judges. All that was needed was that the inquisitors
should ask leading questions(251) and suggest satisfactory answers: the
prisoners, to shorten the torture, were sure sooner or later to give the
answer required, even though they knew that this would send them to the
stake or scaffold. Under the doctrine of "excepted cases," there was no
limit to torture for persons accused of heresy or witchcraft; even the
safeguards which the old pagan world had imposed upon torture were thus
thrown down, and the prisoner MUST confess.

     (251) For still extant lists of such questions, see the Zeitschrift
fur deutsche Culturgeschichte for 1858, pp. 522-528, or Diefenbach,
Der Hexenwahn in Deutschland, pp. 15-17. Father Vincent of Berg (in his
Enchiridium) gives a similar list for use by priests in the confession
of the accused. Manuscript lists of this sort which have actually done
service in the courts of Baden and Bavaria may be seen in the library of
Cornell University.

The theological literature of the Middle Ages was thus enriched with
numberless statements regarding modes of Satanic influence on the
weather. Pathetic, indeed, are the records; and none more so than the
confessions of these poor creatures, chiefly women and children,
during hundreds of years, as to their manner of raising hailstorms and
tempests. Such confessions, by tens of thousands, are still to be found
in the judicial records of Germany, and indeed of all Europe. Typical
among these is one on which great stress was laid during ages, and for
which the world was first indebted to one of these poor women. Crazed by
the agony of torture, she declared that, returning with a demon through
the air from the witches' sabbath, she was dropped upon the earth in the
confusion which resulted among the hellish legions when they heard
the bells sounding the Ave Maria. It is sad to note that, after a
contribution so valuable to sacred science, the poor woman was condemned
to the flames. This revelation speedily ripened the belief that,
whatever might be going on at the witches' sabbath--no matter how
triumphant Satan might be--at the moment of sounding the consecrated
bells the Satanic power was paralyzed. This theory once started, proofs
came in to support it, during a hundred years, from the torture chambers
in all parts of Europe.

Throughout the later Middle Ages the Dominicans had been the main agents
in extorting and promulgating these revelations, but in the centuries
following the Reformation the Jesuits devoted themselves with even
more keenness and vigour to the same task. Some curious questions
incidentally arose. It was mooted among the orthodox authorities whether
the damage done by storms should or should not be assessed upon the
property of convicted witches. The theologians inclined decidedly to the
affirmative; the jurists, on the whole, to the negative.(252)

     (252) For proofs of the vigour of the Jesuits in this persecution, see
not only the histories of witchcraft, but also the Annuae litterae of
the Jesuits themselves, passim.

In spite of these tortures, lightning and tempests continued, and great
men arose in the Church throughout Europe in every generation to point
out new cruelties for the discovery of "weather-makers," and new methods
for bringing their machinations to naught.

But here and there, as early as the sixteenth century, we begin to see
thinkers endeavouring to modify or oppose these methods. At that time
Paracelsus called attention to the reverberation of cannon as explaining
the rolling of thunder, but he was confronted by one of his greatest
contemporaries. Jean Bodin, as superstitious in natural as he was
rational in political science, made sport of the scientific theory,
and declared thunder to be "a flaming exhalation set in motion by evil
spirits, and hurled downward with a great crash and a horrible smell
of sulphur." In support of this view, he dwelt upon the confessions
of tortured witches, upon the acknowledged agency of demons in the
Will-o'-the-wisp, and specially upon the passage in the one hundred and
fourth Psalm, "Who maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flaming

To resist such powerful arguments by such powerful men was dangerous
indeed. In 1513, Pomponatius, professor at Padua, published a volume
of Doubts as to the Fourth Book of Aristotle's Meteorologica, and also
dared to question this power of devils; but he soon found it advisable
to explain that, while as a PHILOSOPHER he might doubt, yet as
a CHRISTIAN he of course believed everything taught by Mother
Church--devils and all--and so escaped the fate of several others
who dared to question the agency of witches in atmospheric and other

A few years later Agrippa of Nettesheim made a somewhat similar effort
to breast this theological tide in northern Europe. He had won a great
reputation in various fields, but especially in natural science,
as science was then understood. Seeing the folly and cruelty of the
prevailing theory, he attempted to modify it, and in 1518, as Syndic of
Metz, endeavoured to save a poor woman on trial for witchcraft. But the
chief inquisitor, backed by the sacred Scriptures, the papal bulls, the
theological faculties, and the monks, was too strong for him; he was not
only forced to give up his office, but for this and other offences of a
similar sort was imprisoned, driven from city to city and from country
to country, and after his death his clerical enemies, especially the
Dominicans, pursued his memory with calumny, and placed over his grave
probably the most malignant epitaph ever written.

As to argument, these efforts were met especially by Jean Bodin in his
famous book, the Demonomanie des Sorciers, published in 1580. It was a
work of great power by a man justly considered the leading thinker in
France, and perhaps in Europe. All the learning of the time, divine
and human, he marshalled in support of the prevailing theory. With
inexorable logic he showed that both the veracity of sacred Scripture
and the infallibility of a long line of popes and councils of the Church
were pledged to it, and in an eloquent passage this great publicist
warned rulers and judges against any mercy to witches--citing the
example of King Ahab condemned by the prophet to die for having pardoned
a man worthy of death, and pointing significantly to King Charles IX of
France, who, having pardoned a sorcerer, died soon afterward.(253)

     (253) To the argument cited above, Bodin adds: "Id certissimam daemonis
praesentiam significat; nam ubicunque daemones cum hominibus nefaria
societatis fide copulantur, foedissimum semper relinquunt sulphuris
odorem, quod sortilegi saepissime experiuntur et confitentur." See
Bodin's Universae Naturae Theatrum, Frankfort, 1597, pp. 208-211. The
first edition of the book by Pomponatius, which was the earliest of his
writings, is excessively rare, but it was reprinted at Venice just a
half-century later. It is in his De incantationibus, however, that he
speaks especially of devils. As to Pomponatius, see, besides these,
Creighton's History of the Papacy during the Reformation, and an
excellent essay in Franck's Moralistes et Philosophes. For Agrippa,
see his biography by Prof. Henry Morley, London, 1856. For Bodin, see
a statement of his general line of argument in Lecky, Rationalism in
Europe, vol. i, chap. 1.

In the last years of the sixteenth century the persecutions for
witchcraft and magic were therefore especially cruel; and in the western
districts of Germany the main instrument in them was Binsfeld, Suffragan
Bishop of Treves.

At that time Cornelius Loos was a professor at the university of
that city. He was a devoted churchman, and one of the most brilliant
opponents of Protestantism, but he finally saw through the prevailing
belief regarding occult powers, and in an evil hour for himself embodied
his idea in a book entitled True and False Magic. The book, though
earnest, was temperate, but this helped him and his cause not at all.
The texts of Scripture clearly sanctioning belief in sorcery and magic
stood against him, and these had been confirmed by the infallible
teachings of the Church and the popes from time immemorial; the book was
stopped in the press, the manuscript confiscated, and Loos thrown into a

The inquisitors having wrought their will upon him, in the spring of
1593 he was brought out of prison, forced to recant on his knees
before the assembled dignitaries of the Church, and thenceforward kept
constantly under surveillance and at times in prison. Even this was
considered too light a punishment, and his arch-enemy, the Jesuit
Delrio, declared that, but for his death by the plague, he would have
been finally sent to the stake.(254)

     (254) What remains of the manuscript of Loos, which until recently was
supposed to be lost, was found, hidden away on the shelves of the old
Jesuit library at Treves, by Mr. George Lincoln Burr, now a professor
at Cornell University; and Prof. Burr's copy of the manuscript is now in
the library of that institution. For a full account of the discovery
and its significance, see the New York Nation for November 11, 1886. The
facts regarding the after-life of Loos were discovered by Prof. Burr in
manuscript records at Brussels.

That this threat was not unmeaning had been seen a few years earlier in
a case even more noted, and in the same city. During the last decades of
the sixteenth century, Dietrich Flade, an eminent jurist, was rector of
the University of Treves, and chief judge of the Electoral Court, and
in the latter capacity he had to pass judgment upon persons tried on
the capital charge of magic and witchcraft. For a time he yielded to the
long line of authorities, ecclesiastical and judicial, supporting the
reality of this crime; but he at last seems to have realized that it
was unreal, and that the confessions in his torture chamber, of
compacts with Satan, riding on broomsticks to the witch-sabbath, raising
tempests, producing diseases, and the like, were either the results of
madness or of willingness to confess anything and everything, and even
to die, in order to shorten the fearful tortures to which the accused
were in all cases subjected until a satisfactory confession was

On this conviction of the unreality of many at least of the charges
Flade seems to have acted, and he at once received his reward. He was
arrested by the authority of the archbishop and charged with having sold
himself to Satan--the fact of his hesitation in the persecution being
perhaps what suggested his guilt. He was now, in his turn, brought into
the torture chamber over which he had once presided, was racked until
he confessed everything which his torturers suggested, and finally, in
1589, was strangled and burnt.

Of that trial a record exists in the library of Cornell University
in the shape of the original minutes of the case, and among them the
depositions of Flade when under torture, taken down from his own lips
in the torture chamber. In these depositions this revered and venerable
scholar and jurist acknowledged the truth of every absurd charge brought
against him--anything, everything, which would end the fearful torture:
compared with that, death was nothing.(255)

     (255) For the case of Flade, see the careful study by Prof. Burr,
The Fate of Dietrich Flade, in the Papers of the American Historical
Association, 1891.

Nor was even a priest secure who ventured to reveal the unreality of
magic. When Friedrich Spee, the Jesuit poet of western Germany, found,
in taking the confessions of those about to be executed for magic, that
without exception, just when about to enter eternity and utterly beyond
hope of pardon, they all retracted their confessions made under torture,
his sympathies as a man rose above his loyalty to his order, and he
published his Cautio Criminalis as a warning, stating with entire
moderation the facts he had observed and the necessity of care. But he
did not dare publish it under his own name, nor did he even dare publish
it in a Catholic town; he gave it to the world anonymously, and,
in order to prevent any tracing of the work to him through the
confessional, he secretly caused it to be published in the Protestant
town of Rinteln.

Nor was this all. Nothing shows so thoroughly the hold that this belief
in magic had obtained as the conduct of Spee's powerful friend and
contemporary, John Philip von Schonborn, later the Elector and Prince
Archbishop of Mayence.

As a youth, Schonborn had loved and admired Spee, and had especially
noted his persistent melancholy and his hair whitened even in his
young manhood. On Schonborn's pressing him for the cause, Spee at last
confessed that his sadness, whitened hair, and premature old age were
due to his recollections of the scores of men and women and children
whom he had been obliged to see tortured and sent to the scaffold
and stake for magic and witchcraft, when he as their father confessor
positively knew them to be innocent. The result was that, when
Schonborn became Elector and Archbishop of Mayence, he stopped the witch
persecutions in that province, and prevented them as long as he lived.
But here was shown the strength of theological and ecclesiastical
traditions and precedents. Even a man so strong by family connections,
and enjoying such great temporal and spiritual power as Schonborn, dared
not openly give his reasons for this change of policy. So far as is
known, he never uttered a word publicly against the reality of magic,
and under his successor in the electorate witch trials were resumed.

The great upholders of the orthodox view retained full possession of the
field. The victorious Bishop Binsfeld, of Treves, wrote a book to prove
that everything confessed by the witches under torture, especially the
raising of storms and the general controlling of the weather, was worthy
of belief; and this book became throughout Europe a standard authority,
both among Catholics and Protestants. Even more inflexible was Remigius,
criminal judge in Lorraine. On the title-page of his manual he boasts
that within fifteen years he had sent nine hundred persons to death for
this imaginary crime.(256)

     (256) For Spee and Schonborn, see Soldan and other German authorities.
There are copies of the first editions of the Cautio Criminalis in
the library of Cornell University. Binsfeld's book bore the title of
Tractatus de confessionibus maleficorum et sagarum. First published
at Treves in 1589, it appeared subsequently four times in the original
Latin, as well as in two distinct German translations, and in a French
one. Remigius's manual was entitled Daemonolatreia, and was first
printed at Lyons in 1595.

Protestantism fell into the superstition as fully as Catholicism. In the
same century John Wier, a disciple of Agrippa, tried to frame a pious
theory which, while satisfying orthodoxy, should do something to check
the frightful cruelties around him. In his book De Praestigiis Daemonum,
published in 1563, he proclaimed his belief in witchcraft, but suggested
that the compacts with Satan, journeys through the air on broomsticks,
bearing children to Satan, raising storms and producing diseases--to
which so many women and children confessed under torture--were delusions
suggested and propagated by Satan himself, and that the persons charged
with witchcraft were therefore to be considered "as possessed"--that is,
rather as sinned against than sinning.(257)

     (257) For Wier, or Weyer, see, besides his own works, the excellent
biography by Prof. Binz, of Bonn.

But neither Catholics nor Protestants would listen for a moment to any
such suggestion. Wier was bitterly denounced and persecuted. Nor did
Bekker, a Protestant divine in Holland, fare any better in the following
century. For his World Bewitched, in which he ventured not only to
question the devil's power over the weather, but to deny his bodily
existence altogether, he was solemnly tried by the synod of his Church
and expelled from his pulpit, while his views were condemned as heresy,
and overwhelmed with a flood of refutations whose mere catalogue would
fill pages; and these cases were typical of many.

The Reformation had, indeed, at first deepened the superstition; the new
Church being anxious to show itself equally orthodox and zealous with
the old. During the century following the first great movement, the
eminent Lutheran jurist and theologian Benedict Carpzov, whose boast was
that he had read the Bible fifty-three times, especially distinguished
himself by his skill in demonstrating the reality of witchcraft, and by
his cruelty in detecting and punishing it. The torture chambers were
set at work more vigorously than ever, and a long line of theological
jurists followed to maintain the system and to extend it.

To argue against it, or even doubt it, was exceedingly dangerous. Even
as late as the beginning of the eighteenth century, when Christian
Thomasius, the greatest and bravest German between Luther and Lessing,
began the efforts which put an end to it in Protestant Germany, he did
not dare at first, bold as he was, to attack it in his own name,
but presented his views as the university thesis of an irresponsible

     (258) For Thomasius, see his various bigraphies by Luden and others;
also the treatises on witchcraft by Soldan and others. Manuscript notes
of his lectures, and copies of his earliest books on witchcraft as well
as on other forms of folly, are to be found in the library of Cornell

The same stubborn resistance to the gradual encroachment of the
scientific spirit upon the orthodox doctrine of witchcraft was seen in
Great Britain. Typical as to the attitude both of Scotch and English
Protestants were the theory and practice of King James I, himself the
author of a book on Demonology, and nothing if not a theologian. As to
theory, his treatise on Demonology supported the worst features of the
superstition; as to practice, he ordered the learned and acute work of
Reginald Scot, The Discoverie of Witchcraft, one of the best treatises
ever written on the subject, to be burned by the hangman, and he applied
his own knowledge to investigating the causes of the tempests which
beset his bride on her voyage from Denmark. Skilful use of unlimited
torture soon brought these causes to light. A Dr. Fian, while his legs
were crushed in the "boots" and wedges were driven under his finger
nails, confessed that several hundred witches had gone to sea in a sieve
from the port of Leith, and had raised storms and tempests to drive back
the princess.

With the coming in of the Puritans the persecution was even more
largely, systematically, and cruelly developed. The great witch-finder,
Matthew Hopkins, having gone through the county of Suffolk and tested
multitudes of poor old women by piercing them with pins and needles,
declared that county to be infested with witches. Thereupon Parliament
issued a commission, and sent two eminent Presbyterian divines to
accompany it, with the result that in that county alone sixty persons
were hanged for witchcraft in a single year. In Scotland matters were
even worse. The auto da fe of Spain was celebrated in Scotland under
another name, and with Presbyterian ministers instead of Roman Catholic
priests as the main attendants. At Leith, in 1664, nine women were
burned together. Condemnations and punishments of women in batches were
not uncommon. Torture was used far more freely than in England, both in
detecting witches and in punishing them. The natural argument developed
in hundreds of pulpits was this: If the Allwise God punishes his
creatures with tortures infinite in cruelty and duration, why should not
his ministers, as far as they can, imitate him?

The strongest minds in both branches of the Protestant Church in Great
Britain devoted themselves to maintaining the superstition. The newer
scientific modes of thought, and especially the new ideas regarding the
heavens, revealed first by Copernicus and Galileo and later by Newton,
Huygens, and Halley, were gradually dissipating the whole domain of the
Prince of the Power of the Air; but from first to last a long line of
eminent divines, Anglican and Calvinistic, strove to resist the new
thought. On the Anglican side, in the seventeenth century, Meric
Casaubon, Doctor of Divinity and a high dignitary of Canterbury,--Henry
More, in many respects the most eminent scholar in the
Church,--Cudworth, by far the most eminent philosopher, and Dr. Joseph
Glanvil, the most cogent of all writers in favour of witchcraft,
supported the orthodox superstition in treatises of great power; and Sir
Matthew Hale, the greatest jurist of the period, condemning two women
to be burned for witchcraft, declared that he based his judgment on the
direct testimony of Holy Scripture. On the Calvinistic side were the
great names of Richard Baxter, who applauded some of the worst cruelties
in England, and of Increase and Cotton Mather, who stimulated the worst
in America; and these marshalled in behalf of this cruel superstition
a long line of eminent divines, the most earnest of all, perhaps, being
John Wesley.

Nor was the Lutheran Church in Sweden and the other Scandinavian
countries behind its sister churches, either in persecuting witchcraft
or in repressing doubts regarding the doctrine which supported it.

But in spite of all these great authorities in every land, in spite of
such summary punishments as those of Flade, Loos, and Bekker, and in
spite of the virtual exclusion from church preferment of all who doubted
the old doctrine, the new scientific view of the heavens was developed
more and more; the physical sciences were more and more cultivated; the
new scientific atmosphere in general more and more prevailed; and at the
end of the seventeenth century this vast growth of superstition began to
wither and droop. Montaigne, Bayle, and Voltaire in France, Thomasius in
Germany, Calef in New England, and Beccaria in Italy, did much also to
create an intellectual and moral atmosphere fatal to it.

And here it should be stated, to the honour of the Church of England,
that several of her divines showed great courage in opposing the
dominant doctrine. Such men as Harsnet, Archbishop of York, and Morton,
Bishop of Lichfield, who threw all their influence against witch-finding
cruelties even early in the seventeenth century, deserve lasting
gratitude. But especially should honour be paid to the younger men in
the Church, who wrote at length against the whole system: such men as
Wagstaffe and Webster and Hutchinson, who in the humbler ranks of the
clergy stood manfully for truth, with the certainty that by so doing
they were making their own promotion impossible.

By the beginning of the eighteenth century the doctrine was evidently
dying out. Where torture had been abolished, or even made milder,
"weather-makers" no longer confessed, and the fundamental proofs in
which the system was rooted were evidently slipping away. Even the great
theologian Fromundus, at the University of Louvain, the oracle of his
age, who had demonstrated the futility of the Copernican theory, had
foreseen this and made the inevitable attempt at compromise, declaring
that devils, though OFTEN, are not ALWAYS or even for the most part
the causes of thunder. The learned Jesuit Caspar Schott, whose Physica
Curiosa was one of the most popular books of the seventeenth century,
also ventured to make the same mild statement. But even such concessions
by such great champions of orthodoxy did not prevent frantic efforts in
various quarters to bring the world back under the old dogma: as late as
1743 there was published in Catholic Germany a manual by Father Vincent
of Berg, in which the superstition was taught to its fullest extent,
with the declaration that it was issued for the use of priests under
the express sanction of the theological professors of the University
of Cologne; and twenty-five years later, in 1768, we find in Protestant
England John Wesley standing firmly for witchcraft, and uttering his
famous declaration, "The giving up of witchcraft is in effect the giving
up of the Bible." The latest notable demonstration in Scotland was made
as late as 1773, when "the divines of the Associated Presbytery" passed
a resolution declaring their belief in witchcraft, and deploring the
general scepticism regarding it.(259)

     (259) For Carpzov and his successors, see authorities already given.
The best account of James's share in the extortion of confessions may
be found in the collection of Curious Tracts published at Edinburgh in
1820. See also King James's own Demonologie, and Pitcairn's Criminal
Trials of Scotland, vol. i, part ii, pp. 213-223. For Casaubon, see his
Credulity and Incredulity in Things Natural, pp. 66, 67. For Glanvil,
More, Casaubon, Baxter, Wesley, and others named, see Lecky, as above.
As to Increase Mather, in his sermons, already cited, on The Voice
of God in Stormy Winds, Boston, 1704, he says: "when there are great
tempests, the Angels oftentimes have a Hand therein.. .. Yea, and
sometimes, by Divine Permission, Evil Angels have a Hand in such Storms
and Tempests as are very hurtful to Men on the Earth." Yet "for the most
part, such Storms are sent by the Providence of God as a Sign of His
Displeasure for the Sins of Men," and sometimes "as Prognosticks and
terrible Warnings of Great Judgements not far off." From the height
of his erudition Mather thus rebukes the timid voice of scientific
scepticism: "There are some who would be esteemed the Wits of the World,
that ridicule those as Superstitious and Weak Persons, which look upon
Dreadful Tempests as Prodromous of other Judgements. Nevertheless,
the most Learned and Judicious Writers, not only of the Gentiles, but
amongst Christians, have Embraced such a Persuasion; their Sentiments
therein being Confirmed by the Experience of many Ages." For another
curious turn given to this theory, with reference to sanitary science,
see Deodat Lawson's famous sermon at Salem, in 1692, on Christ's
Fidelity a Shield against Satan's Malignity, p. 21 of the second
edition. For Cotton Mather, see his biography by Barrett Wendell, pp.
91, 92; also the chapter on Diabolism and Hysteria in this work. For
Fromundus, see his Meteorologica (London, 1656), lib. iii, c. 9, and
lib. ii, c. 3. For Schott, see his Physica Curiosa (edition of Wurzburg,
1667), p. 1249. For Father Vincent of Berg, see his Enchiridium
quadripartitum (Cologne, 1743). Besides benedictions and exorcisms for
all emergencies, it contains full directions for the manufacture of
Agnes Dei, and of another sacred panacea called "Heiligthum," not less
effective against evil powers,--gives formulae to be worn for protection
against the devil,--suggests a list of signs by which diabolical
possession may be recognised, and prescribes the question to be asked by
priests in the examination of witches. For Wesley, see his Journal for
1768. The whole citation is given in Lecky.


But in the midst of these efforts by Catholics like Father Vincent
and by Protestants like John Wesley to save the old sacred theory, it
received its death-blow. In 1752 Franklin made his experiments with the
kite on the banks of the Schuylkill; and, at the moment when he drew
the electric spark from the cloud, the whole tremendous fabric of
theological meteorology reared by the fathers, the popes, the
medieval doctors, and the long line of great theologians, Catholic and
Protestant, collapsed; the "Prince of the Power of the Air" tumbled from
his seat; the great doctrine which had so long afflicted the earth was
prostrated forever.

The experiment of Franklin was repeated in various parts of Europe, but,
at first, the Church seemed careful to take no notice of it. The old
church formulas against the Prince of the Power of the Air were still
used, but the theological theory, especially in the Protestant Church,
began to grow milder. Four years after Franklin's discovery Pastor
Karl Koken, member of the Consistory and official preacher to the City
Council of Hildesheim, was moved by a great hailstorm to preach and
publish a sermon on The Revelation of God in Weather. Of "the Prince of
the Power of the Air" he says nothing; the theory of diabolical agency
he throws overboard altogether; his whole attempt is to save the older
and more harmless theory, that the storm is the voice of God. He insists
that, since Christ told Nicodemus that men "know not whence the wind
cometh," it can not be of mere natural origin, but is sent directly
by God himself, as David intimates in the Psalm, "out of His secret
places." As to the hailstorm, he lays great stress upon the plague of
hail sent by the Almighty upon Egypt, and clinches all by insisting
that God showed at Mount Sinai his purpose to startle the body before
impressing the conscience.

While the theory of diabolical agency in storms was thus drooping and
dying, very shrewd efforts were made at compromise. The first of these
attempts we have already noted, in the effort to explain the efficacy of
bells in storms by their simple use in stirring the faithful to prayer,
and in the concession made by sundry theologians, and even by the great
Lord Bacon himself, that church bells might, under the sanction of
Providence, disperse storms by agitating the air. This gained ground
somewhat, though it was resisted by one eminent Church authority, who
answered shrewdly that, in that case, cannon would be even more pious
instruments. Still another argument used in trying to save this part of
the theological theory was that the bells were consecrated instruments
for this purpose, "like the horns at whose blowing the walls of Jericho

     (260) For Koken, see his Offenbarung Gottes in Wetter, Hildesheim,
c1756; and for the answer to Bacon, see Gretser's De Benedictionibus,
lib. ii, cap. 46.

But these compromises were of little avail. In 1766 Father Sterzinger
attacked the very groundwork of the whole diabolic theory. He was, of
course, bitterly assailed, insulted, and hated; but the Church thought
it best not to condemn him. More and more the "Prince of the Power
of the Air" retreated before the lightning-rod of Franklin. The older
Church, while clinging to the old theory, was finally obliged to confess
the supremacy of Franklin's theory practically; for his lightning-rod
did what exorcisms, and holy water, and processions, and the Agnus
Dei, and the ringing of church bells, and the rack, and the burning of
witches, had failed to do. This was clearly seen, even by the poorest
peasants in eastern France, when they observed that the grand spire of
Strasburg Cathedral, which neither the sacredness of the place, nor the
bells within it, nor the holy water and relics beneath it, could protect
from frequent injuries by lightning, was once and for all protected by
Franklin's rod. Then came into the minds of multitudes the answer to the
question which had so long exercised the leading theologians of Europe
and America, namely, "Why should the Almighty strike his own consecrated
temples, or suffer Satan to strike them?"

Yet even this practical solution of the question was not received
without opposition.

In America the earthquake of 1755 was widely ascribed, especially in
Massachusetts, to Franklin's rod. The Rev. Thomas Prince, pastor of the
Old South Church, published a sermon on the subject, and in the appendix
expressed the opinion that the frequency of earthquakes may be due to
the erection of "iron points invented by the sagacious Mr. Franklin." He
goes on to argue that "in Boston are more erected than anywhere else in
New England, and Boston seems to be more dreadfully shaken. Oh! there is
no getting out of the mighty hand of God."

Three years later, John Adams, speaking of a conversation with
Arbuthnot, a Boston physician, says: "He began to prate upon the
presumption of philosophy in erecting iron rods to draw the lightning
from the clouds. He railed and foamed against the points and the
presumption that erected them. He talked of presuming upon God, as
Peter attempted to walk upon the water, and of attempting to control the
artillery of heaven."

As late as 1770 religious scruples regarding lightning-rods were still
felt, the theory being that, as thunder and lightning were tokens of
the Divine displeasure, it was impiety to prevent their doing their full
work. Fortunately, Prof. John Winthrop, of Harvard, showed himself wise
in this, as in so many other things: in a lecture on earthquakes he
opposed the dominant theology; and as to arguments against Franklin's
rods, he declared, "It is as much our duty to secure ourselves against
the effects of lightning as against those of rain, snow, and wind by the
means God has put into our hands."

Still, for some years theological sentiment had to be regarded
carefully. In Philadelphia, a popular lecturer on science for some time
after Franklin's discovery thought it best in advertising his lectures
to explain that "the erection of lightning-rods is not chargeable
with presumption nor inconsistent with any of the principles either of
natural or revealed religion."(261)

     (261) Regarding opposition to Franklin's rods in America, see Prince's
sermon, especially p. 23; also Quincy, History of Harvard University,
vol. ii, p. 219; also Works of John Adams, vol. ii, pp. 51, 52; also
Parton's Life of Franklin, vol. i, p. 294.

In England, the first lightning conductor upon a church was not put
up until 1762, ten years after Franklin's discovery. The spire of St.
Bride's Church in London was greatly injured by lightning in 1750, and
in 1764 a storm so wrecked its masonry that it had to be mainly
rebuilt; yet for years after this the authorities refused to attach a
lightning-rod. The Protestant Cathedral of St. Paul's, in London, was
not protected until sixteen years after Franklin's discovery, and the
tower of the great Protestant church at Hamburg not until a year
later still. As late as 1783 it was declared in Germany, on excellent
authority, that within a space of thirty-three years nearly four hundred
towers had been damaged and one hundred and twenty bell-ringers killed.

In Roman Catholic countries a similar prejudice was shown, and its
cost at times was heavy. In Austria, the church of Rosenberg, in the
mountains of Carinthia, was struck so frequently and with such loss of
life that the peasants feared at last to attend service. Three times
was the spire rebuilt, and it was not until 1778--twenty-six years
after Franklin's discovery--that the authorities permitted a rod to be
attached. Then all trouble ceased.

A typical case in Italy was that of the tower of St. Mark's, at Venice.
In spite of the angel at its summit and the bells consecrated to ward
off the powers of the air, and the relics in the cathedral hard by, and
the processions in the adjacent square, the tower was frequently injured
and even ruined by lightning. In 1388 it was badly shattered; in 1417,
and again in 1489, the wooden spire surmounting it was utterly consumed;
it was again greatly injured in 1548, 1565, 1653, and in 1745 was struck
so powerfully that the whole tower, which had been rebuilt of stone and
brick, was shattered in thirty-seven places. Although the invention of
Franklin had been introduced into Italy by the physicist Beccaria, the
tower of St. Mark's still went unprotected, and was again badly struck
in 1761 and 1762; and not until 1766--fourteen years after Franklin's
discovery--was a lightning-rod placed upon it; and it has never been
struck since.(262)

     (262) For reluctance in England to protect churches with Franklin's
rods, see Priestley, History of Electricity, London, 1775, vol. i, pp.
407, 465 et seq.

So, too, though the beautiful tower of the Cathedral of Siena, protected
by all possible theological means, had been struck again and again, much
opposition was shown to placing upon it what was generally known as
"the heretical rod," but the tower was at last protected by Franklin's
invention, and in 1777, though a very heavy bolt passed down the rod,
the church received not the slightest injury. This served to reconcile
theology and science, so far as that city was concerned; but the case
which did most to convert the Italian theologians to the scientific view
was that of the church of San Nazaro, at Brescia. The Republic of Venice
had stored in the vaults of this church over two hundred thousand pounds
of powder. In 1767, seventeen years after Franklin's discovery, no rod
having been placed upon it, it was struck by lightning, the powder in
the vaults was exploded, one sixth of the entire city destroyed, and
over three thousand lives were lost.(263)

     (263) See article on Lightning in the Edinburgh Review for October,

Such examples as these, in all parts of Europe, had their effect. The
formulas for conjuring off storms, for consecrating bells to ward off
lightning and tempests, and for putting to flight the powers of the air,
were still allowed to stand in the liturgies; but the lightning-rod,
the barometer, and the thermometer, carried the day. A vigorous line of
investigators succeeding Franklin completed his victory, The traveller
in remote districts of Europe still hears the church bells ringing
during tempests; the Polish or Italian peasant is still persuaded to
pay fees for sounding bells to keep off hailstorms; but the universal
tendency favours more and more the use of the lightning-rod, and of the
insurance offices where men can be relieved of the ruinous results of
meteorological disturbances in accordance with the scientific laws
of average, based upon the ascertained recurrence of storms. So, too,
though many a poor seaman trusts to his charm that has been bathed in
holy water, or that has touched some relic, the tendency among mariners
is to value more and more those warnings which are sent far and wide
each day over the earth and under the sea by the electric wires in
accordance with laws ascertained by observation.

Yet, even in our own time, attempts to revive the old theological
doctrine of meteorology have not been wanting. Two of these, one in a
Roman Catholic and another in a Protestant country, will serve as types
of many, to show how completely scientific truth has saturated and
permeated minds supposed to be entirely surrendered to the theological

The Island of St. Honorat, just off the southern coast of France,
is deservedly one of the places most venerated in Christendom. The
monastery of Lerins, founded there in the fourth century, became a
mother of similar institutions in western Europe, and a centre of
religious teaching for the Christian world. In its atmosphere, legends
and myths grew in beauty and luxuriance. Here, as the chroniclers tell
us, at the touch of St. Honorat, burst forth a stream of living water,
which a recent historian of the monastery declares a greater miracle
than that of Moses; here he destroyed, with a touch of his staff, the
reptiles which infested the island, and then forced the sea to wash away
their foul remains. Here, to please his sister, Sainte-Marguerite, a
cherry tree burst into full bloom every month; here he threw his cloak
upon the waters and it became a raft, which bore him safely to visit the
neighbouring island; here St. Patrick received from St. Just the staff
with which he imitated St. Honorat by driving all reptiles from Ireland.
Pillaged by Saracens and pirates, the island was made all the more
precious by the blood of Christian martyrs. Popes and kings made
pilgrimages to it; saints, confessors, and bishops went forth from it
into all Europe; in one of its cells St. Vincent of Lerins wrote that
famous definition of pure religion which, for nearly fifteen hundred
years, has virtually superseded that of St. James. Naturally the
monastery became most illustrious, and its seat "the Mediterranean Isle
of Saints."

But toward the close of the last century, its inmates having become
slothful and corrupt, it was dismantled, all save a small portion torn
down, and the island became the property first of impiety, embodied in a
French actress, and finally of heresy, embodied in an English clergyman.

Bought back for the Church by the Bishop of Frejus in 1859, there
was little revival of life for twelve years. Then came the reaction,
religious and political, after the humiliation of France and the Vatican
by Germany; and of this reaction the monastery of St. Honorat was made
one of the most striking outward and visible signs. Pius IX interested
himself directly in it, called into it a body of Cistercian monks,
and it became the chief seat of their order in France. To restore its
sacredness the strict system of La Trappe was established--labour,
silence, meditation on death. The word thus given from Rome was seconded
in France by cardinals, archbishops, and all churchmen especially
anxious for promotion in this world or salvation in the next. Worn-out
dukes and duchesses of the Faubourg Saint-Germain united in this
enterprise of pious reaction with the frivolous youngsters, the petits
creves, who haunt the purlieus of Notre Dame de Lorette. The great
church of the monastery was handsomely rebuilt and a multitude of
altars erected; and beautiful frescoes and stained windows came from
the leaders of the reaction. The whole effect was, perhaps, somewhat
theatrical and thin, but it showed none the less earnestness in making
the old "Isle of Saints" a protest against the hated modern world.

As if to bid defiance still further to modern liberalism, great store of
relics was sent in; among these, pieces of the true cross, of the
white and purple robes, of the crown of thorns, sponge, lance, and
winding-sheet of Christ,--the hair, robe, veil, and girdle of the
Blessed Virgin; relics of St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, St. Mary
Magdalene, St. Paul, St. Barnabas, the four evangelists, and a multitude
of other saints: so many that the bare mention of these treasures
requires twenty-four distinct heads in the official catalogue recently
published at the monastery. Besides all this--what was considered even
more powerful in warding off harm from the revived monastery--the bones
of Christian martyrs were brought from the Roman catacombs and laid
beneath the altars.(264)

     (264) See the Guide des Visiteurs a Lerins, published at the Monastery
in 1880, p. 204; also the Histoire de Lerins, mentioned below.

All was thus conformed to the medieval view; nothing was to be left
which could remind one of the nineteenth century; the "ages of faith"
were to be restored in their simplicity. Pope Leo XIII commended to the
brethren the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas as their one great object of
study, and works published at the monastery dwelt upon the miracles of
St. Honorat as the most precious refutation of modern science.

High in the cupola, above the altars and relics, were placed the bells.
Sent by pious donors, they were solemnly baptized and consecrated
in 1871, four bishops officiating, a multitude of the faithful being
present from all parts of Europe, and the sponsors of the great tenor
bell being the Bourbon claimant to the ducal throne of Parma and his
duchess. The good bishop who baptized the bells consecrated them with
a formula announcing their efficacy in driving away the "Prince of the
Power of the Air" and the lightning and tempests he provokes.

And then, above all, at the summit of the central spire, high above
relics, altars, and bells, was placed--A LIGHTNING-ROD!(265)

     (265) See Guide, as above, p. 84. Les Isles de Lerins, by the Abbe
Alliez (Paris, 1860), and the Histoire de Lerins, by the same author,
are the authorities for the general history of the abbey, and are
especially strong in presenting the miracles of St. Honorat, etc. The
Cartulaire of the monastery, recently published, is also valuable. But
these do not cover the recent revival, for an account of which recourse
must be had to the very interesting and naive Guide already cited.

The account of the monastery, published under the direction of the
present worthy abbot, more than hints at the saving, by its bells, of
a ship which was wrecked a few years since on that coast; and yet, to
protect the bells and church and monks and relics from the very foe
whom, in the medieval faith, all these were thought most powerful
to drive away, recourse was had to the scientific discovery of that
"arch-infidel," Benjamin Franklin!

Perhaps the most striking recent example in Protestant lands of this
change from the old to the new occurred not long since in one of the
great Pacific dependencies of the British crown. At a time of severe
drought an appeal was made to the bishop, Dr. Moorhouse, to order public
prayers for rain. The bishop refused, advising the petitioners for the
future to take better care of their water supply, virtually telling
them, "Heaven helps those who help themselves." But most noteworthy in
this matter was it that the English Government, not long after, scanning
the horizon to find some man to take up the good work laid down by the
lamented Bishop Fraser, of Manchester, chose Dr. Moorhouse; and his
utterance upon meteorology, which a few generations since would have
been regarded by the whole Church as blasphemy, was universally alluded
to as an example of strong good sense, proving him especially fit for
one of the most important bishoprics in England.

Throughout Christendom, the prevalence of the conviction that
meteorology is obedient to laws is more and more evident. In cities
especially, where men are accustomed each day to see posted in public
places charts which show the storms moving over various parts of the
country, and to read in the morning papers scientific prophecies as to
the weather, the old view can hardly be very influential.

Significant of this was the feeling of the American people during the
fearful droughts a few years since in the States west of the Missouri.
No days were appointed for fasting and prayer to bring rain; there was
no attribution of the calamity to the wrath of God or the malice of
Satan; but much was said regarding the folly of our people in allowing
the upper regions of their vast rivers to be denuded of forests, thus
subjecting the States below to alternations of drought and deluge.
Partly as a result of this, a beginning has been made of teaching forest
culture in many schools, tree-planting societies have been formed, and
"Arbor Day" is recognised in several of the States. A true and noble
theology can hardly fail to recognise, in the love of Nature and care
for our fellow-men thus promoted, something far better, both from a
religious and a moral point of view, than any efforts to win the Divine
favour by flattery, or to avert Satanic malice by fetichism.



In all the earliest developments of human thought we find a strong
tendency to ascribe mysterious powers over Nature to men and women
especially gifted or skilled. Survivals of this view are found to
this day among savages and barbarians left behind in the evolution
of civilization, and especially is this the case among the tribes of
Australia, Africa, and the Pacific coast of America. Even in the most
enlightened nations still appear popular beliefs, observances, or
sayings, drawn from this earlier phase of thought.

Between the prehistoric savage developing this theory, and therefore
endeavouring to deal with the powers of Nature by magic, and the modern
man who has outgrown it, appears a long line of nations struggling
upward through it. As the hieroglyphs, cuneiform inscriptions, and
various other records of antiquity are read, the development of this
belief can be studied in Egypt, India, Babylonia, Assyria, Persia, and
Phoenicia. From these civilizations it came into the early thought of
Greece and Rome, but especially into the Jewish and Christian sacred
books. Both in the Old Testament and in the New we find magic,
witchcraft, and soothsaying constantly referred to as realities.(266)

     (266) For magic in prehistoric times and survivals of it since, with
abundant citation of authorities, see Tylor, Primitive Culture, chap.
iv; also The Early History of Mankind, by the same author, third
edition, pp. 115 et seq., also p. 380.; also Andrew Lang, Myth, Ritual,
and Religion, vol. i, chap iv. For magic in Egypt, see Lenormant,
Chaldean Magic, chaps. vi-viii; also Maspero, Histoire Ancienne des
Peuples de l'Orient; also Maspero and Sayce, The Dawn of Civilization,
p. 282, and for the threat of magicians to wreck heaven, see ibid, p.
17, note, and especially the citations from Chabas, Le Papyrus Magique
Harris, in chap. vii; also Maury, La Magie et l'Astrologie dans
l'Antiquite et au Moyen Age. For magic in Chaldea, see Lenormant as
above; also Maspero and Sayce, pp. 780 et seq. For examples of magical
powers in India, see Max Muller's Sacred Books of the East, vol. xvi,
pp. 121 et seq. For a legendary view of magic in Media, see the Zend
Avesta, part i, p. 14, translated by Darmsteter; and for a more highly
developed view, see the Zend Avesta, part iii, p. 239, translated by
Mill. For magic in Greece and Rome, and especially in the Neoplatonic
school, as well as in the Middle Ages, see especially Maury, La Magie
et l'Astrologie, chaps. iii-v. For various sorts of magic recognised and
condemned in our sacred books, see Deuteronomy xviii, 10, 11; and for
the burning of magical books at Ephesus under the influence of St.
Paul, see Acts xix, 14. See also Ewald, History of Israel, Martineau's
translation, fourth edition, vol. iii, pp. 45-51. For a very elaborate
summing up of the passages in our sacred books recognizing magic as a
fact, see De Haen, De Magia, Leipsic, 1775, chaps. i, ii, and iii, of
the first part. For the general subject of magic, see Ennemoser, History
of Magic, translated by Howitt, which, however, constantly mixes sorcery
with magic proper.

The first distinct impulse toward a higher view of research into
natural laws was given by the philosophers of Greece. It is true that
philosophical opposition to physical research was at times strong, and
that even a great thinker like Socrates considered certain physical
investigations as an impious intrusion into the work of the gods. It
is also true that Plato and Aristotle, while bringing their thoughts
to bear upon the world with great beauty and force, did much to draw
mankind away from those methods which in modern times have produced the
best results.

Plato developed a world in which the physical sciences had little if any
real reason for existing; Aristotle, a world in which the same sciences
were developed largely indeed by observation of what is, but still more
by speculation on what ought to be. From the former of these two great
men came into Christian theology many germs of medieval magic, and from
the latter sundry modes of reasoning which aided in the evolution of
these; yet the impulse to human thought given by these great masters
was of inestimable value to our race, and one legacy from them was
especially precious--the idea that a science of Nature is possible, and
that the highest occupation of man is the discovery of its laws. Still
another gift from them was greatest of all, for they gave scientific
freedom. They laid no interdict upon new paths; they interposed no
barriers to the extension of knowledge; they threatened no doom in this
life or in the next against investigators on new lines; they left the
world free to seek any new methods and to follow any new paths which
thinking men could find.

This legacy of belief in science, of respect for scientific pursuits,
and of freedom in scientific research, was especially received by the
school of Alexandria, and above all by Archimedes, who began, just
before the Christian era, to open new paths through the great field of
the inductive sciences by observation, comparison, and experiment.(267)

     (267) As to the beginnings of physical science in Greece, and of
the theological opposition to physical science, also Socrates's view
regarding certain branches as interdicted to human study, see Grote's
History of Greece, vol. i, pp. 495 and 504, 505; also Jowett's
introduction to his translation of the Timaeus, and Whewell's History
of the Inductive Sciences. For examples showing the incompatibility of
Plato's methods in physical science with that pursued in modern times,
see Zeller, Plato and the Older Academy, English translation by Alleyne
and Goodwin, pp. 375 et. seq. The supposed opposition to freedom of
opinion in the Laws of Plato, toward the end of his life, can hardly
make against the whole spirit of Greek thought.

The establishment of Christianity, beginning a new evolution of
theology, arrested the normal development of the physical sciences for
over fifteen hundred years. The cause of this arrest was twofold: First,
there was created an atmosphere in which the germs of physical science
could hardly grow--an atmosphere in which all seeking in Nature for
truth as truth was regarded as futile. The general belief derived from
the New Testament Scriptures was, that the end of the world was at
hand; that the last judgment was approaching; that all existing physical
nature was soon to be destroyed: hence, the greatest thinkers in the
Church generally poured contempt upon all investigators into a science
of Nature, and insisted that everything except the saving of souls was

This belief appears frequently through the entire period of the Middle
Ages; but during the first thousand years it is clearly dominant. From
Lactantius and Eusebius, in the third century, pouring contempt, as
we have seen, over studies in astronomy, to Peter Damian, the noted
chancellor of Pope Gregory VII, in the eleventh century, declaring all
worldly sciences to be "absurdities" and "fooleries," it becomes a very
important element in the atmosphere of thought.(268)

     (268) For the view of Peter Damian and others through the Middle Ages
as to the futility of scientific investigation, see citations in Eicken,
Geschichte und System der mittelalterlichen Weltanschauung, chap. vi.

Then, too, there was established a standard to which all science which
did struggle up through this atmosphere must be made to conform--a
standard which favoured magic rather than science, for it was a standard
of rigid dogmatism obtained from literal readings in the Jewish and
Christian Scriptures. The most careful inductions from ascertained facts
were regarded as wretchedly fallible when compared with any view of
nature whatever given or even hinted at in any poem, chronicle, code,
apologue, myth, legend, allegory, letter, or discourse of any sort which
had happened to be preserved in the literature which had come to be held
as sacred.

For twelve centuries, then, the physical sciences were thus discouraged
or perverted by the dominant orthodoxy. Whoever studied nature studied
it either openly to find illustrations of the sacred text, useful in the
"saving of souls," or secretly to gain the aid of occult powers, useful
in securing personal advantage. Great men like Bede, Isidore of Seville,
and Rabanus Maurus, accepted the scriptural standard of science and used
it as a means of Christian edification. The views of Bede and Isidore on
kindred subjects have been shown in former chapters; and typical of the
view taken by Rabanus is the fact that in his great work on the Universe
there are only two chapters which seem directly or indirectly to
recognise even the beginnings of a real philosophy of nature. A
multitude of less-known men found warrant in Scripture for magic applied
to less worthy purposes.(269)

     (269) As typical examples, see utterances of Eusibius and Lactantius
regarding astronomers given in the chapter on Astronomy. For a summary
of Rabanus Maurus's doctrine of physics, see Heller, Geschichte der
Physik, vol. i, pp. 172 et seq. For Bede and Isidore, see the earlier
chapters of this work. For an excellent statement regarding the
application of scriptural standards to scientific research in the
Middle Ages, see Kretschemr, Die physische Erdkunde im christlichen
Mittelalter, pp. 5 et seq. For the distinctions in magic recognised in
the mediaeval Church, see the long catalogue of various sorts given in
the Abbe Migne's Encyclopedie Theologique, third series, article Magic.

But after the thousand years had passed to which various thinkers in the
Church, upon supposed scriptural warrant, had lengthened out the term of
the earth's existence, "the end of all things" seemed further off than
ever; and in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, owing to causes which
need not be dwelt upon here, came a great revival of thought, so that
the forces of theology and of science seemed arrayed for a contest. On
one side came a revival of religious fervour, and to this day the works
of the cathedral builders mark its depth and strength; on the other side
came a new spirit of inquiry incarnate in a line of powerful thinkers.

First among these was Albert of Bollstadt, better known as Albert the
Great, the most renowned scholar of his time. Fettered though he was by
the methods sanctioned in the Church, dark as was all about him, he
had conceived better methods and aims; his eye pierced the mists of
scholasticism. he saw the light, and sought to draw the world toward it.
He stands among the great pioneers of physical and natural science; he
aided in giving foundations to botany and chemistry; he rose above his
time, and struck a heavy blow at those who opposed the possibility of
human life on opposite sides of the earth; he noted the influence of
mountains, seas, and forests upon races and products, so that Humboldt
justly finds in his works the germs of physical geography as a
comprehensive science.

But the old system of deducing scientific truth from scriptural
texts was renewed in the development of scholastic theology, and
ecclesiastical power, acting through thousands of subtle channels, was
made to aid this development. The old idea of the futility of physical
science and of the vast superiority of theology was revived. Though
Albert's main effort was to Christianize science, he was dealt with
by the authorities of the Dominican order, subjected to suspicion and
indignity, and only escaped persecution for sorcery by yielding to the
ecclesiastical spirit of the time, and working finally in theological
channels by, scholastic methods.

It was a vast loss to the earth; and certainly, of all organizations
that have reason to lament the pressure of ecclesiasticism which turned
Albert the Great from natural philosophy to theology, foremost of all in
regret should be the Christian Church, and especially the Roman branch
of it. Had there been evolved in the Church during the thirteenth
century a faith strong enough to accept the truths in natural science
which Albert and his compeers could have given, and to have encouraged
their growth, this faith and this encouragement would to this day have
formed the greatest argument for proving the Church directly under
Divine guidance; they would have been among the brightest jewels in
her crown. The loss to the Church by this want of faith and courage has
proved in the long run even greater than the loss to science.(270)

     (270) For a very careful discussion of Albert's strength in
investigation and weakness in yielding to scholastic authority, see
Kopp, Ansichten uber die Aufgabe der Chemie von Geber bis Stahl,
Braunschweig, 1875, pp. 64 et seq. For a very extended and enthusiastic
biographical sketch, see Pouchet. For comparison of his work with that
of Thomas Aquinas, see Milman, History of Latin Christianity, vol. vi,
p. 461. "Il etat aussi tres-habile dans les arts mecaniques, ce que le
fit soupconner d'etre sorcier" (Sprengel, Histoire de la Medecine, vol.
ii, p. 389). For Albert's biography treated strictly in accordance
with ecclesiastical methods, see Albert the Great, by Joachim Sighart,
translated by the Rev. T. A. Dickson, of the Order of Preachers,
published under the sanction of the Dominican censor and of the Cardinal
Archbishop of Westminster, London, 1876. How an Englishman like Cardinal
Manning could tolerate among Englishmen such glossing over of historical
truth is one of the wonders of contemporary history. For choice
specimens, see chapters ii, and iv. For one of the best and most recent
summaries, see Heller, Geschichte der Physik, Stuttgart, 1882, vol. i,
pp. 179 et seq.

The next great man of that age whom the theological and ecclesiastical
forces of the time turned from the right path was Vincent of Beauvais.
During the first half of the twelfth century he devoted himself to the
study of Nature in several of her most interesting fields. To astronomy,
botany, and zoology he gave special attention, but in a larger way
he made a general study of the universe, and in a series of treatises
undertook to reveal the whole field of science. But his work simply
became a vast commentary on the account of creation given in the book of
Genesis. Beginning with the work of the Trinity at the creation, he
goes on to detail the work of angels in all their fields, and makes
excursions into every part of creation, visible and invisible, but
always with the most complete subordination of his thought to the
literal statements of Scripture. Could he have taken the path of
experimental research, the world would have been enriched with most
precious discoveries; but the force which had given wrong direction to
Albert of Bollstadt, backed as it was by the whole ecclesiastical power
of his time, was too strong, and in all the life labour of Vincent
nothing appears of any permanent value. He reared a structure which
the adaptation of facts to literal interpretations of Scripture and the
application of theological subtleties to nature combine to make one of
the most striking monuments of human error.(271)

     (271) For Vincent de Beauvais, see Etudes sur Vincent de Beauvais, par
l'Abbe Bourgeat, chaps. xii, xiii, and xiv; also Pouchet, Histoire des
Sciences Naturelles au Moyen Age, Paris, 1853, pp. 470 et seq; also
other histories cited hereafter.

But the theological spirit of the thirteenth century gained its greatest
victory in the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. In him was the theological
spirit of his age incarnate. Although he yielded somewhat at one period
to love of natural science, it was he who finally made that great treaty
or compromise which for ages subjected science entirely to theology. He
it was who reared the most enduring barrier against those who in that
age and in succeeding ages laboured to open for science the path by its
own methods toward its own ends.

He had been the pupil of Albert the Great, and had gained much from him.
Through the earlier systems of philosophy, as they were then known, and
through the earlier theologic thought, he had gone with great labour
and vigour; and all his mighty powers, thus disciplined and cultured, he
brought to bear in making a truce which was to give theology permanent
supremacy over science.

The experimental method had already been practically initiated: Albert
of Bollstadt and Roger Bacon had begun their work in accordance with its
methods; but St. Thomas gave all his thoughts to bringing science again
under the sway of theological methods and ecclesiastical control. In his
commentary on Aristotle's treatise upon Heaven and Earth he gave to the
world a striking example of what his method could produce, illustrating
all the evils which arise in combining theological reasoning and literal
interpretation of Scripture with scientific facts; and this work remains
to this day a monument of scientific genius perverted by theology.(272)

     (272) For citations showing this subordination of science to theology,
see Eicken, chap. vi.

The ecclesiastical power of the time hailed him as a deliverer, it was
claimed that miracles were vouchsafed, proving that the blessing of
Heaven rested upon his labours, and among the legends embodying this
claim is that given by the Bollandists and immortalized by a renowned
painter. The great philosopher and saint is represented in the habit
of his order, with book and pen in hand, kneeling before the image
of Christ crucified, and as he kneels the image thus addresses him:
"Thomas, thou hast written well concerning me; what price wilt thou
receive for thy labour?" The myth-making faculty of the people at large
was also brought into play. According to a widespread and circumstantial
legend, Albert, by magical means, created an android--an artificial man,
living, speaking, and answering all questions with such subtlety that
St. Thomas, unable to answer its reasoning, broke it to pieces with his

Historians of the Roman Church like Rohrbacher, and historians of
science like Pouchet, have found it convenient to propitiate the Church
by dilating upon the glories of St. Thomas Aquinas in thus making
an alliance between religious and scientific thought, and laying the
foundations for a "sanctified science"; but the unprejudiced historian
can not indulge in this enthusiastic view: the results both for the
Church and for science have been most unfortunate. It was a wretched
delay in the evolution of fruitful thought, for the first result of this
great man's great compromise was to close for ages that path in science
which above all others leads to discoveries of value--the experimental
method--and to reopen that old path of mixed theology and science which,
as Hallam declares, "after three or four hundred years had not untied
a single knot or added one unequivocal truth to the domain of
philosophy"--the path which, as all modern history proves, has ever
since led only to delusion and evil.(273)

     (273) For the work of Aquinas, see his Liber de Caelo et Mundo, section
xx; also Life and Labours of St. Thomas of Aquin, by Archbishop Vaughn,
pp. 459 et seq. For his labours in natural science, see Hoefer, Histoire
de la Chimie, Paris, 1843, vol. i, p. 381. For theological views of
science in the Middle Ages, and rejoicing thereat, see Pouchet, Hist.
des Sci. Nat. au Moyen Age, ubi supra. Pouchet says: " En general au
milieu du moyen age les sciences sont essentiellement chretiennes,
leur but est tout-a-fait religieux, et elles sembent beaucoup moins
s'inquieter de l'avancement intellectuel de l'homme que de son salut
eternel." Pouchet calls this "conciliation" into a "harmonieux ensemble"
"la plus glorieuse des conquetes intellectuelles du moyen age." Pouchet
belongs to Rouen, and the shadow of the Rouen Cathedral seems thrown
over all his history. See, also, l'Abbe Rohrbacher, Hist. de l'Eglise
Catholique, Paris, 1858, vol. xviii, pp. 421 et seq. The abbe dilates
upon the fact that "the Church organizes the agreement of all the
sciences by the labours of St. Thomas of Aquin and his contemporaries."
For the complete subordination of science to theology by St. Thomas, see
Eicken, chap. vi. For the theological character of science in the
Middle Ages, recognised by a Protestant philosophic historian, see the
well-known passage in Guizot, History of Civilization in Europe; and
by a noted Protestant ecclesiatic, see Bishop Hampden's Life of Thomas
Aquinas, chaps. xxxvi, xxxvii; see also Hallam, Middle Ages, chap. ix.
For dealings of Pope John XXII, of the Kings of France and England, and
of the Republic of Venice, see Figuier, L'Alchimie et la Alchimistes,
pp. 140, 141, where, in a note, the text of the bull Spondet paritur is
given. For popular legends regarding Albert and St. Thomas, see Eliphas
Levi, Hist. de la Magie, liv. iv, chap. iv.

The theological path thus opened by these strong men became the main
path for science during ages, and it led the world ever further
and further from any fruitful fact or useful method. Roger Bacon's
investigations already begun were discredited: worthless mixtures of
scriptural legends with imperfectly authenticated physical facts took
their place. Thus it was that for twelve hundred years the minds in
control of Europe regarded all real science as FUTILE, and diverted the
great current of earnest thought into theology.

The next stage in this evolution was the development of an idea which
acted with great force throughout the Middle Ages--the idea that science
is DANGEROUS. This belief was also of very ancient origin. From the time
when the Egyptian magicians made their tremendous threat that unless
their demands were granted they would reach out to the four corners of
the earth, pull down the pillars of heaven, wreck the abodes of the gods
above and crush those of men below, fear of these representatives of
science is evident in the ancient world.

But differences in the character of magic were recognised, some sorts
being considered useful and some baleful. Of the former was magic used
in curing diseases, in determining times auspicious for enterprises, and
even in contributing to amusement; of the latter was magic used to bring
disease and death on men and animals or tempests upon the growing crops.
Hence gradually arose a general distinction between white magic, which
dealt openly with the more beneficent means of nature, and black magic,
which dealt secretly with occult, malignant powers.

Down to the Christian era the fear of magic rarely led to any
persecution very systematic or very cruel. While in Greece and Rome laws
were at times enacted against magicians, they were only occasionally
enforced with rigour, and finally, toward the end of the pagan empire,
the feeling against them seemed dying out altogether. As to its more
kindly phases, men like Marcus Aurelius and Julian did not hesitate to
consult those who claimed to foretell the future. As to black magic, it
seemed hardly worth while to enact severe laws, when charms, amulets,
and even gestures could thwart its worst machinations.

Moreover, under the old empire a real science was coming in, and thought
was progressing. Both the theory and practice of magic were more and
more held up to ridicule. Even as early a writer as Ennius ridiculed
the idea that magicians, who were generally poor and hungry themselves,
could bestow wealth on others; Pliny, in his Natural Philosophy, showed
at great length their absurdities and cheatery; others followed in the
same line of thought, and the whole theory, except among the very lowest
classes, seemed dying out.

But with the development of Christian theology came a change. The idea
of the active interference of Satan in magic, which had come into the
Hebrew mind with especial force from Persia during the captivity of
Israel, had passed from the Hebrew Scriptures into Christianity, and
had been made still stronger by various statements in the New Testament.
Theologians laid stress especially upon the famous utterances of the
Psalmist that "all the gods of the heathen are devils," and of St.
Paul that "the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice
to devils"; and it was widely held that these devils were naturally
indignant at their dethronement and anxious to wreak vengeance upon
Christianity. Magicians were held to be active agents of these dethroned
gods, and this persuasion was strengthened by sundry old practitioners
in the art of magic--impostors who pretended to supernatural powers, and
who made use of old rites and phrases inherited from paganism.

Hence it was that as soon as Christianity came into power it more than
renewed the old severities against the forbidden art, and one of the
first acts of the Emperor Constantine after his conversion was to enact
a most severe law against magic and magicians, under which the main
offender might be burned alive. But here, too, it should be noted that
a distinction between the two sorts of magic was recognised, for
Constantine shortly afterward found it necessary to issue a proclamation
stating that his intention was only to prohibit deadly and malignant
magic; that he had no intention of prohibiting magic used to cure
diseases and to protect the crops from hail and tempests. But as new
emperors came to the throne who had not in them that old leaven of
paganism which to the last influenced Constantine, and as theology
obtained a firmer hold, severity against magic increased. Toleration of
it, even in its milder forms, was more and more denied. Black magic and
white were classed together.

This severity went on increasing and threatened the simplest efforts in
physics and chemistry; even the science of mathematics was looked upon
with dread. By the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the older theology
having arrived at the climax of its development in Europe, terror of
magic and witchcraft took complete possession of the popular mind. In
sculpture, painting, and literature it appeared in forms ever more and
more striking. The lives of saints were filled with it. The cathedral
sculpture embodied it in every part. The storied windows made it all
the more impressive. The missal painters wrought it not only into prayer
books, but, despite the fact that hardly a trace of the belief appears
in the Psalms, they illustrated it in the great illuminated psalters
from which the noblest part of the service was sung before the high
altar. The service books showed every form of agonizing petition for
delivery from this dire influence, and every form of exorcism for
thwarting it.

All the great theologians of the Church entered into this belief and
aided to develop it. The fathers of the early Church were full and
explicit, and the medieval doctors became more and more minute in
describing the operations of the black art and in denouncing them.
It was argued that, as the devil afflicted Job, so he and his minions
continue to cause diseases; that, as Satan is the Prince of the power
of the air, he and his minions cause tempests; that the cases of
Nebuchadnezzar and Lot's wife prove that sorcerers can transform human
beings into animals or even lifeless matter; that, as the devils of
Gadara were cast into swine, all animals could be afflicted in the same
manner; and that, as Christ himself had been transported through the air
by the power of Satan, so any human being might be thus transported to
"an exceeding high mountain."

Thus the horror of magic and witchcraft increased on every hand, and in
1317 Pope John XXII issued his bull Spondent pariter, levelled at the
alchemists, but really dealing a terrible blow at the beginnings of
chemical science. That many alchemists were knavish is no doubt true,
but no infallibility in separating the evil from the good was shown by
the papacy in this matter. In this and in sundry other bulls and
briefs we find Pope John, by virtue of his infallibility as the world's
instructor in all that pertains to faith and morals, condemning real
science and pseudo-science alike. In two of these documents, supposed
to be inspired by wisdom from on high, he complains that both he and
his flock are in danger of their lives by the arts of the sorcerers;
he declares that such sorcerers can send devils into mirrors and finger
rings, and kill men and women by a magic word; that they had tried to
kill him by piercing a waxen image of him with needles in the name
of the devil. He therefore called on all rulers, secular and
ecclesiastical, to hunt down the miscreants who thus afflicted the
faithful, and he especially increased the powers of inquisitors in
various parts of Europe for this purpose.

The impulse thus given to childish fear and hatred against the
investigation of nature was felt for centuries; more and more chemistry
came to be known as one of the "seven devilish arts."

Thus began a long series of demonstrations against magic from the centre
of Christendom. In 1437, and again in 1445, Pope Eugene IV issued
bulls exhorting inquisitors to be more diligent in searching out and
delivering over to punishment magicians and witches who produced bad
weather, the result being that persecution received a fearful impulse.
But the worst came forty years later still, when, in 1484, there came
the yet more terrible bull of Pope Innocent VIII, known as Summis
Desiderantes, which let inquisitors loose upon Germany, with Sprenger
at their head, armed with the Witch-Hammer, the fearful manual Malleus
Maleficarum, to torture and destroy men and women by tens of thousands
for sorcery and magic. Similar bulls were issued in 1504 by Julius II,
and in 1523 by Adrian VI.

The system of repression thus begun lasted for hundreds of years. The
Reformation did little to change it, and in Germany, where Catholics and
Protestants vied with each other in proving their orthodoxy, it was at
its worst. On German soil more than one hundred thousand victims
are believed to have been sacrificed to it between the middle of the
fifteenth and the middle of the sixteenth centuries.

Thus it was that from St. Augustine to St. Thomas Aquinas, from Aquinas
to Luther, and from Luther to Wesley, theologians of both branches of
the Church, with hardly an exception, enforced the belief in magic and
witchcraft, and, as far as they had power, carried out the injunction,
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

How this was ended by the progress of scientific modes of thought I
shall endeavour to show elsewhere: here we are only concerned with the
effect of this widespread terrorism on the germs and early growth of the
physical sciences.

Of course, the atmosphere created by this persecution of magicians was
deadly to any open beginnings of experimental science. The conscience of
the time, acting in obedience to the highest authorities of the Church,
and, as was supposed, in defence of religion, now brought out a missile
which it hurled against scientific investigators with deadly effect. The
mediaeval battlefields of thought were strewn with various forms of it.
This missile was the charge of unlawful compact with Satan, and it was
most effective. We find it used against every great investigator of
nature in those times and for ages after. The list of great men in
those centuries charged with magic, as given by Naude, is astounding; it
includes every man of real mark, and in the midst of them stands one of
the most thoughtful popes, Sylvester II (Gerbert), and the foremost of
mediaeval thinkers on natural science, Albert the Great. It came to be
the accepted idea that, as soon as a man conceived a wish to study the
works of God, his first step must be a league with the devil.

It was entirely natural, then, that in 1163 Pope Alexander III, in
connection with the Council of Tours, forbade the study of physics to
all ecclesiastics, which, of course, in that age meant prohibition of
all such scientific studies to the only persons likely to make them.
What the Pope then expressly forbade was, in the words of the papal
bull, "the study of physics or the laws of the world," and it was
added that any person violating this rule "shall be avoided by all and

     (274) For the charge of magic against scholars and others, see Naude,
Apologie pour les Grands Hommes soupconnes de Magie, passim; also Maury,
Hist. de la Magie, troisieme edition, pp. 214, 215; also Cuvier, Hist.
des Sciences Naturelles, vol. i, p. 396. For the prohibition by the
Council of Tours and Alexander III, see the Acta Conciliorum (ed.
Harduin), tom. vi, pars ii, p. 1598, Canon viii.

The first great thinker who, in spite of some stumbling into theologic
pitfalls, persevered in a truly scientific path, was Roger Bacon. His
life and works seem until recently to have been generally misunderstood:
he was formerly ranked as a superstitious alchemist who happened upon
some inventions, but more recent investigation has shown him to be one
of the great masters in the evolution of human thought. The advance of
sound historical judgment seems likely to bring the fame of the two who
bear the name of Bacon nearly to equality. Bacon of the chancellorship
and of the Novum Organum may not wane, but Bacon of the prison cell and
the Opus Majus steadily approaches him in brightness.

More than three centuries before Francis Bacon advocated the
experimental method, Roger Bacon practised it, and the results as now
revealed are wonderful. He wrought with power in many sciences, and his
knowledge was sound and exact. By him, more than by any other man of
the Middle Ages, was the world brought into the more fruitful paths
of scientific thought--the paths which have led to the most precious
inventions; and among these are clocks, lenses, and burning specula,
which were given by him to the world, directly or indirectly. In his
writings are found formulae for extracting phosphorus, manganese, and
bismuth. It is even claimed, with much appearance of justice, that
he investigated the power of steam, and he seems to have very nearly
reached some of the principal doctrines of modern chemistry. But it
should be borne in mind that his METHOD of investigation was even
greater than its RESULTS. In an age when theological subtilizing
was alone thought to give the title of scholar, he insisted on REAL
reasoning and the aid of natural science by mathematics; in an age when
experimenting was sure to cost a man his reputation, and was likely
to cost him his life, he insisted on experimenting, and braved all
its risks. Few greater men have lived. As we follow Bacon's process of
reasoning regarding the refraction of light, we see that he was divinely

On this man came the brunt of the battle. The most conscientious men
of his time thought it their duty to fight him, and they fought him
steadily and bitterly. His sin was not disbelief in Christianity, not
want of fidelity to the Church, not even dissent from the main lines of
orthodoxy; on the contrary, he showed in all his writings a desire
to strengthen Christianity, to build up the Church, and to develop
orthodoxy. He was attacked and condemned mainly because he did not
believe that philosophy had become complete, and that nothing more was
to be learned; he was condemned, as his opponents expressly declared,
"on account of certain suspicious novelties"--"propter quasdam novitates

Upon his return to Oxford, about 1250, the forces of unreason beset him
on all sides. Greatest of all his enemies was Bonaventura. This enemy
was the theologic idol of the period: the learned world knew him as the
"seraphic Doctor"; Dante gave him an honoured place in the great poem
of the Middle Ages; the Church finally enrolled him among the saints. By
force of great ability in theology he had become, in the middle of the
thirteenth century, general of the Franciscan order: thus, as Bacon's
master, his hands were laid heavily on the new teaching, so that in 1257
the troublesome monk was forbidden to lecture; all men were solemnly
warned not to listen to his teaching, and he was ordered to Paris, to
be kept under surveillance by the monastic authorities. Herein was
exhibited another of the myriad examples showing the care exercised over
scientific teaching by the Church. The reasons for thus dealing with
Bacon were evident: First, he had dared attempt scientific explanations
of natural phenomena, which under the mystic theology of the Middle
Ages had been referred simply to supernatural causes. Typical was his
explanation of the causes and character of the rainbow. It was clear,
cogent, a great step in the right direction as regards physical science:
but there, in the book of Genesis, stood the legend regarding the origin
of the rainbow, supposed to have been dictated immediately by the Holy
Spirit; and, according to that, the "bow in the cloud" was not the
result of natural laws, but a "sign" arbitrarily placed in the heavens
for the simple purpose of assuring mankind that there was not to be
another universal deluge.

But this was not the worst: another theological idea was arrayed against
him--the idea of Satanic intervention in science; hence he was attacked
with that goodly missile which with the epithets "infidel" and "atheist"
has decided the fate of so many battles--the charge of magic and compact
with Satan.

He defended himself with a most unfortunate weapon--a weapon which
exploded in his hands and injured him more than the enemy; for he argued
against the idea of compacts with Satan, and showed that much which is
ascribed to demons results from natural means. This added fuel to the
flame. To limit the power of Satan was deemed hardly less impious than
to limit the power of God.

The most powerful protectors availed him little. His friend Guy of
Foulques, having in 1265 been made Pope under the name of Clement IV,
shielded him for a time; but the fury of the enemy was too strong, and
when he made ready to perform a few experiments before a small audience,
we are told that all Oxford was in an uproar. It was believed that
Satan was about to be let loose. Everywhere priests, monks, fellows,
and students rushed about, their garments streaming in the wind, and
everywhere rose the cry, "Down with the magician!" and this cry, "Down
with the magician!" resounded from cell to cell and from hall to hall.

Another weapon was also used upon the battlefields of science in that
time with much effect. The Arabs had made many noble discoveries in
science, and Averroes had, in the opinion of many, divided the honours
with St. Thomas Aquinas; these facts gave the new missile--it was the
epithet "Mohammedan"; this, too, was flung with effect at Bacon.

The attack now began to take its final shape. The two great religious
orders, Franciscan and Dominican, then in all the vigour of their
youth, vied with each other in fighting the new thought in chemistry
and physics. St. Dominic solemnly condemned research by experiment and
observation; the general of the Franciscan order took similar ground.
In 1243 the Dominicans interdicted every member of their order from the
study of medicine and natural philosophy, and in 1287 this interdiction
was extended to the study of chemistry.

In 1278 the authorities of the Franciscan order assembled at Paris,
solemnly condemned Bacon's teaching, and the general of the Franciscans,
Jerome of Ascoli, afterward Pope, threw him into prison, where he
remained for fourteen years, Though Pope Clement IV had protected him,
Popes Nicholas III and IV, by virtue of their infallibility, decided
that he was too dangerous to be at large, and he was only released at
the age of eighty--but a year or two before death placed him beyond the
reach of his enemies. How deeply the struggle had racked his mind may be
gathered from that last affecting declaration of his, "Would that I had
not given myself so much trouble for the love of science!"

The attempt has been made by sundry champions of the Church to show that
some of Bacon's utterances against ecclesiastical and other corruptions
in his time were the main cause of the severity which the Church
authorities exercised against him. This helps the Church but little,
even if it be well based; but it is not well based. That some of his
utterances of this sort made him enemies is doubtless true, but the
charges on which St. Bonaventura silenced him, and Jerome of Ascoli
imprisoned him, and successive popes kept him in prison for fourteen
years, were "dangerous novelties" and suspected sorcery.

Sad is it to think of what this great man might have given to the world
had ecclesiasticism allowed the gift. He held the key of treasures
which would have freed mankind from ages of error and misery. With his
discoveries as a basis, with his method as a guide, what might not the
world have gained! Nor was the wrong done to that age alone; it was done
to this age also. The nineteenth century was robbed at the same
time with the thirteenth. But for that interference with science the
nineteenth century would be enjoying discoveries which will not be
reached before the twentieth century, and even later. Thousands of
precious lives shall be lost, tens of thousands shall suffer discomfort,
privation, sickness, poverty, ignorance, for lack of discoveries and
methods which, but for this mistaken dealing with Roger Bacon and his
compeers, would now be blessing the earth.

In two recent years sixty thousand children died in England and in Wales
of scarlet fever; probably quite as many died in the United States. Had
not Bacon been hindered, we should have had in our hands, by this time,
the means to save two thirds of these victims; and the same is true
of typhoid, typhus, cholera, and that great class of diseases of
whose physical causes science is just beginning to get an inkling. Put
together all the efforts of all the atheists who have ever lived, and
they have not done so much harm to Christianity and the world as has
been done by the narrow-minded, conscientious men who persecuted Roger
Bacon, and closed the path which he gave his life to open.

But despite the persecution of Bacon and the defection of those who
ought to have followed him, champions of the experimental method rose
from time to time during the succeeding centuries. We know little of
them personally; our main knowledge of their efforts is derived from the
endeavours of their persecutors.

Under such guidance the secular rulers were naturally vigorous. In
France Charles V forbade, in 1380, the possession of furnaces and
apparatus necessary for chemical processes; under this law the chemist
John Barrillon was thrown into prison, and it was only by the greatest
effort that his life was saved. In England Henry IV, in 1404, issued a
similar decree. In Italy the Republic of Venice, in 1418, followed these
examples. The judicial torture and murder of Antonio de Dominis were not
simply for heresy his investigations in the phenomena of light were
an additional crime. In Spain everything like scientific research was
crushed out among Christians. Some earnest efforts were afterward made
by Jews and Moors, but these were finally ended by persecution; and to
this hour the Spanish race, in some respects the most gifted in Europe,
which began its career with everything in its favour and with every form
of noble achievement, remains in intellectual development behind every
other in Christendom.

To question the theological view of physical science was, even long
after the close of the Middle Ages, exceedingly perilous. We have seen
how one of Roger Bacon's unpardonable offences was his argument against
the efficacy of magic, and how, centuries afterward, Cornelius Agrippa,
Weyer, Flade, Loos, Bekker, and a multitude of other investigators and
thinkers, suffered confiscation of property, loss of position, and even
torture and death, for similar views.(275)

     (275) For an account of Bacon's treatise, De Nullitate Magiae, see
Hoefer. For the uproar caused by Bacon's teaching at Oxford, see Kopp,
Geschichte der Chemie, Braunschweig, 1869, vol. i, p. 63; and for a
somewhat reactionary discussion of Bacon's relation to the progress
of chemistry, see a recent work by the same author, Ansichten uber die
Aufgabe der Chemie, Braunschweig, 1874, pp. 85 et seq.; also, for an
excellent summary, see Hoefer, Hist. de la Chimie, vol. i, pp. 368 et
seq. For probably the most thorough study of Bacon's general works
in science, and for his views of the universe, see Prof. Werner, Die
Kosmologie und allgemeine Naturlehre des Roger Baco, Wein, 1879. For
summaries of his work in other fields, see Whewell, vol. i, pp. 367,
368; Draper, p. 438; Saisset, Descartes et ses Precurseurs, deuxieme
edition, pp. 397 et seq.; Nourrisson, Progres de la Pensee humaine, pp.
271, 272; Sprengel, Histoire de la Medecine, Paris, 1865, vol. ii, p.
397; Cuvier, Histoire des Sciences Naturelles, vol. i, p. 417. As to
Bacon's orthodoxy, see Saisset, pp. 53, 55. For special examination of
causes of Bacon's condemnation, see Waddington, cited by Saisset, p.
14. For a brief but admirable statement of Roger Bacon's realtion to
the world in his time, and of what he might have done had he not been
thwarted by theology, see Dollinger, Studies in European History,
English translation, London, 1890, pp. 178, 179. For a good example of
the danger of denying the full power of Satan, even in much more recent
times and in a Protestant country, see account of treatment in Bekker's
Monde Enchante by the theologians of Holland, in Nisard, Histoire des
Livres Populaires, vol. i, pp. 172, 173. Kopp, in his Ansichten, pushes
criticism even to some scepticism as to Roger Bacon being the DISCOVERER
of many of the things generally attributed to him; but, after all
deductions are carefully made, enough remains to make Bacon the greatest
benefactor to humanity during the Middle Ages. For Roger Bacon's
deep devotion to religion and the Church, see citation and remarks in
Schneider, Roger Bacon, Augsburg, 1873, p. 112; also, citation from
the Opus Majus, in Eicken, chap. vi. On Bacon as a "Mohammedan," see
Saisset, p. 17. For the interdiction of studies in physical science by
the Dominicans and Franciscans, see Henri Martin, Histoire de France,
vol. iv, p. 283. For suppression of chemical teaching by the Parliament
of Paris, see ibid., vol. xii, pp. 14, 15. For proofs that the world is
steadily working toward great discoveries as to the cause and prevention
of zymotic diseases and their propogation, see Beale's Disease Germs,
Baldwin Latham's Sanitary Engineering, Michel Levy's Traite a Hygiene
Publique et Privee. For a summary of the bull Spondent pariter, and for
an example of injury done by it, see Schneider, Geschichte der
Alchemie, p. 160; and for a studiously moderate statement, Milman, Latin
Christianity, book xii, chap. vi. For character and general efforts of
John XXII, see Lea, Inquisition, vol. iii, p. 436, also pp. 452 et seq.
For the character of the two papal briefs, see Rydberg, p. 177. For
the bull Summis Desiderantes, see previous chapters of this work. For
Antonio de Dominis, see Montucla, Hist. des Mathematiques, vol. i, p.
705; Humboldt, Cosmos; Libri, vol. iv, pp. 145 et seq. For Weyer, Flade,
Bekker, Loos, and others, see the chapters of this work on Meteorology,
Demoniacal Possession and Insanity, and Diabolism and Hysteria.

The theological atmosphere, which in consequence settled down about the
great universities and colleges, seemed likely to stifle all scientific
effort in every part of Europe, and it is one of the great wonders in
human history that in spite of this deadly atmosphere a considerable
body of thinking men, under such protection as they could secure, still
persisted in devoting themselves to the physical sciences.

In Italy, in the latter half of the sixteenth century, came a striking
example of the difficulties which science still encountered even after
the Renaissance had undermined the old beliefs. At that time John
Baptist Porta was conducting his investigations, and, despite a
considerable mixture of pseudo-science, they were fruitful. His was not
"black magic," claiming the aid of Satan, but "white magic," bringing
into service the laws of nature--the precursor of applied science. His
book on meteorology was the first in which sound ideas were broached
on this subject; his researches in optics gave the world the camera
obscura, and possibly the telescope; in chemistry he seems to have been
the first to show how to reduce the metallic oxides, and thus to have
laid the foundation of several important industries. He did much to
change natural philosophy from a black art to a vigorous open science.
He encountered the old ecclesiastical policy. The society founded by him
for physical research, "I Secreti," was broken up, and he was summoned
to Rome by Pope Paul III and forbidden to continue his investigations.

So, too, in France. In 1624, some young chemists at Paris having taught
the experimental method and cut loose from Aristotle, the faculty of
theology beset the Parliament of Paris, and the Parliament prohibited
these new chemical researches under the severest penalties.

The same war continued in Italy. Even after the belief in magic had been
seriously weakened, the old theological fear and dislike of physical
science continued. In 1657 occurred the first sitting of the Accademia
del Cimento at Florence, under the presidency of Prince Leopold de'
Medici This academy promised great things for science; it was open
to all talent; its only fundamental law was "the repudiation of
any favourite system or sect of philosophy, and the obligation to
investigate Nature by the pure light of experiment"; it entered into
scientific investigations with energy. Borelli in mathematics, Redi in
natural history, and many others, enlarged the boundaries of knowledge.
Heat, light, magnetism, electricity, projectiles, digestion, and the
incompressibility of water were studied by the right method and with
results that enriched the world.

The academy was a fortress of science, and siege was soon laid to
it. The votaries of scholastic learning denounced it as irreligious,
quarrels were fomented, Leopold was bribed with a cardinal's hat and
drawn away to Rome, and, after ten years of beleaguering, the fortress
fell: Borelli was left a beggar; Oliva killed himself in despair.

So, too, the noted Academy of the Lincei at times incurred the ill
will of the papacy by the very fact that it included thoughtful
investigators. It was "patronized" by Pope Urban VIII in such manner as
to paralyze it, and it was afterward vexed by Pope Gregory XVI. Even in
our own time sessions of scientific associations were discouraged and
thwarted by as kindly a pontiff as Pius IX.(276)

     (276) For Porta, see the English translation of his main summary,
Natural Magick, London, 1658. The first chapters are especially
interesting, as showing what the word "magic" had come to mean in the
mind of a man in whom mediaeval and modern ideas were curiously mixed;
see also Hoefer, Histoire de la Chimie, vol. ii, pp. 102-106; also
Kopp; also Sprengel, Histoire de la Medecine, vol. iii, p. 239; also
Musset-Pathay. For the Accademia del Cimento, see Napier, Florentine
History, vol. v, p. 485; Tiraboschi, Storia della Litteratura; Henri
Martin, Histoire de France; Jevons, Principles of Science, vol. ii,
pp. 36-40. For value attached to Borelli's investigations by Newton and
Huygens, see Brewster's Life of Sir Isaac Newton, London, 1875, pp. 128,
129. Libri, in his first Essai sur Galilee, p. 37, says that Oliva was
summoned to Rome and so tortured by the Inquisition that, to escape
further cruelty, he ended his life by throwing himself from a window.
For interference by Pope Gregory XVI with the Academy of the Lincei, and
with public instruction generally, see Carutti, Storia della Accademia
dei Lincei, p. 126. Pius IX, with all his geniality, seems to have
allowed his hostility to voluntary associations to carry him very far
at times. For his answer to an application made through Lord Odo Russell
regarding a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals and his
answer that "such an association could not be sanctioned by the Holy
See, being founded on a theological error, to wit, that Christians owed
any duties to animals," see Frances Power Cobbe, Hopes of the Human
Race, p. 207.

A hostility similar in kind, though less in degree, was shown in
Protestant countries.

Even after Thomasius in Germany and Voltaire in France and Beccaria
in Italy had given final blows to the belief in magic and witchcraft
throughout Christendom, the traditional orthodox distrust of the
physical sciences continued for a long time.

In England a marked dislike was shown among various leading
ecclesiastics and theologians towards the Royal Society, and later
toward the Association for the Advancement of Science; and this dislike,
as will hereafter be seen, sometimes took shape in serious opposition.

As a rule, both in Protestant and Catholic countries instruction
in chemistry and physics was for a long time discouraged by Church
authorities; and, when its suppression was no longer possible, great
pains were taken to subordinate it to instruction supposed to be more
fully in accordance with the older methods of theological reasoning.

I have now presented in outline the more direct and open struggle of the
physical sciences with theology, mainly as an exterior foe. We will next
consider their warfare with the same foe in its more subtle form, mainly
as a vitiating and sterilizing principle in science itself.

We have seen thus far, first, how such men as Eusebius, Lactantius, and
their compeers, opposed scientific investigation as futile; next, how
such men as Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the multitude who
followed them, turned the main current of medieval thought from science
to theology; and, finally, how a long line of Church authorities from
Popes John XXII and Innocent VIII, and the heads of the great religious
orders, down to various theologians and ecclesiastics, Catholic and
Protestant, of a very recent period, endeavoured first to crush and
afterward to discourage scientific research as dangerous.

Yet, injurious as all this was to the evolution of science, there was
developed something in many respects more destructive; and this was
the influence of mystic theology, penetrating, permeating, vitiating,
sterilizing nearly every branch of science for hundreds of years. Among
the forms taken by this development in the earlier Middle Ages we find a
mixture of physical science with a pseudo-science obtained from texts
of Scripture. In compounding this mixture, Jews and Christians vied
with each other. In this process the sacred books were used as a fetich;
every word, every letter, being considered to have a divine and hidden
meaning. By combining various scriptural letters in various abstruse
ways, new words of prodigious significance in magic were obtained, and
among them the great word embracing the seventy-two mystical names of
God--the mighty word "Schemhamphoras." Why should men seek knowledge
by observation and experiment in the book of Nature, when the book of
Revelation, interpreted by the Kabbalah, opened such treasures to the
ingenious believer?

So, too, we have ancient mystical theories of number which the
theological spirit had made Christian, usurping an enormous place in
medieval science. The sacred power of the number three was seen in the
Trinity; in the three main divisions of the universe--the empyrean, the
heavens, and the earth; in the three angelic hierarchies; in the three
choirs of seraphim, cherubim, and thrones; in the three of dominions,
virtues, and powers; in the three of principalities, archangels,
and angels; in the three orders in the Church--bishops, priests, and
deacons; in the three classes--the baptized, the communicants, and the
monks; in the three degrees of attainment--light, purity, and knowledge;
in the three theological virtues--faith, hope, and charity--and in much
else. All this was brought into a theologico-scientific relation,
then and afterward, with the three dimensions of space; with the three
divisions of time--past, present, and future; with the three realms of
the visible world--sky, earth, and sea; with the three constituents
of man--body, soul, and spirit; with the threefold enemies of
man--the world, the flesh, and the devil; with the three kingdoms in
nature--mineral, vegetable, and animal; with "the three colours"--red,
yellow, and blue; with "the three eyes of the honey-bee"--and with a
multitude of other analogues equally precious. The sacred power of the
number seven was seen in the seven golden candlesticks and the seven
churches in the Apocalypse; in the seven cardinal virtues and the seven
deadly sins; in the seven liberal arts and the seven devilish arts, and,
above all, in the seven sacraments. And as this proved in astrology that
there could be only seven planets, so it proved in alchemy that there
must be exactly seven metals. The twelve apostles were connected with
the twelve signs in the zodiac, and with much in physical science.
The seventy-two disciples, the seventy-two interpreters of the Old
Testament, the seventy-two mystical names of God, were connected with
the alleged fact in anatomy that there were seventy-two joints in the
human frame.

Then, also, there were revived such theologic and metaphysical
substitutes for scientific thought as the declaration that the perfect
line is a circle, and hence that the planets must move in absolute
circles--a statement which led astronomy astray even when the
great truths of the Copernican theory were well in sight; also, the
declaration that nature abhors a vacuum--a statement which led physics
astray until Torricelli made his experiments; also, the declaration that
we see the lightning before we hear the thunder because "sight is nobler
than hearing."

In chemistry we have the same theologic tendency to magic, and, as a
result, a muddle of science and theology, which from one point of view
seems blasphemous and from another idiotic, but which none the less
sterilized physical investigation for ages. That debased Platonism which
had been such an important factor in the evolution of Christian theology
from the earliest days of the Church continued its work. As everything
in inorganic nature was supposed to have spiritual significance, the
doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation were turned into an argument
in behalf of the philosopher's stone; arguments for the scheme of
redemption and for transubstantiation suggested others of similar
construction to prove the transmutation of metals; the doctrine of the
resurrection of the human body was by similar mystic jugglery connected
with the processes of distillation and sublimation. Even after the
Middle Ages were past, strong men seemed unable to break away from such
reasoning as this--among them such leaders as Basil Valentine in the
fifteenth century, Agricola in the sixteenth, and Van Helmont in the

The greatest theologians contributed to the welter of unreason from
which this pseudo-science was developed. One question largely discussed
was, whether at the Redemption it was necessary for God to take the
human form. Thomas Aquinas answered that it was necessary, but William
Occam and Duns Scotus answered that it was not; that God might have
taken the form of a stone, or of a log, or of a beast. The possibilities
opened to wild substitutes for science by this sort of reasoning were
infinite. Men have often asked how it was that the Arabians
accomplished so much in scientific discovery as compared with Christian
investigators; but the answer is easy: the Arabians were comparatively
free from these theologic allurements which in Christian Europe
flickered in the air on all sides, luring men into paths which led

Strong investigators, like Arnold of Villanova, Raymond Lully, Basil
Valentine, Paracelsus, and their compeers, were thus drawn far out
of the only paths which led to fruitful truths. In a work generally
ascribed to the first of these, the student is told that in mixing his
chemicals he must repeat the psalm Exsurge Domine, and that on certain
chemical vessels must be placed the last words of Jesus on the cross.
Vincent of Beauvais insisted that, as the Bible declares that Noah, when
five hundred years old, had children born to him, he must have possessed
alchemical means of preserving life; and much later Dickinson insisted
that the patriarchs generally must have owed their long lives to such
means. It was loudly declared that the reality of the philosopher's
stone was proved by the words of St. John in the Revelation. "To him
that overcometh I will give a white stone." The reasonableness of
seeking to develop gold out of the baser metals was for many generations
based upon the doctrine of the resurrection of the physical body, which,
though explicitly denied by St. Paul, had become a part of the creed
of the Church. Martin Luther was especially drawn to believe in the
alchemistic doctrine of transmutation by this analogy. The Bible was
everywhere used, both among Protestants and Catholics, in support of
these mystic adulterations of science, and one writer, as late as 1751,
based his alchemistic arguments on more than a hundred passages of
Scripture. As an example of this sort of reasoning, we have a proof that
the elect will preserve the philosopher's stone until the last judgment,
drawn from a passage in St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians, "We have
this treasure in earthen vessels."

The greatest thinkers devoted themselves to adding new ingredients to
this strange mixture of scientific and theologic thought. The Catholic
philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, the Protestant mysticism of Jacob Boehme,
and the alchemistic reveries of Basil Valentine were all cast into this
seething mass.

And when alchemy in its old form had been discredited, we find
scriptural arguments no less perverse, and even comical, used on the
other side. As an example of this, just before the great discoveries by
Stahl, we find the valuable scientific efforts of Becher opposed with
the following syllogism: "King Solomon, according to the Scriptures,
possessed the united wisdom of heaven and earth; but King Solomon knew
nothing about alchemy (or chemistry in the form it then took), and sent
his vessels to Ophir to seek gold, and levied taxes upon his subjects;
ergo alchemy (or chemistry) has no reality or truth." And we find that
Becher is absolutely turned away from his labours, and obliged to devote
himself to proving that Solomon used more money than he possibly could
have obtained from Ophir or his subjects, and therefore that he must
have possessed a knowledge of chemical methods and the philosopher's
stone as the result of them.(277)

     (277) For an extract from Agrippa's Occulta Philosophia, giving examples
of the way in which mystical names were obtained from the Bible, see
Rydberg, Magic of the Middle Ages, pp. 143 et seq. For the germs of many
mystic beliefs regarding number and the like, which were incorporated
into mediaeval theology, see Zeller, Plato and the Older Academy,
English translation, pp. 254 and 572, and elsewhere. As to the
connection of spiritual things with inorganic nature in relation to
chemistry, see Eicken, p. 634. On the injury to science wrought by
Platonism acting through mediaeval theology, see Hoefer, Histoire de la
Chimie, vol. i, p. 90. As to the influence of mysticism upon strong men
in science, see Hoefer; also Kopp, Geschichte der Alchemie, vol. i, p.
211. For a very curious Catholic treatise on sacred numbers, see the
Abbe Auber, Symbolisme Religieux, Paris, 1870; also Detzel, Christliche
Ikonographie, pp. 44 et seq.; and for an equally important Protestant
work, see Samuell, Seven the Sacred number, London 1887. It is
interesting to note that the latter writer, having been forced to give
up the seven planets, consoles himself with the statement that "the
earth is the seventh planet, counting from Neptune and calling the
asteroids one" (see p. 426). For the electrum magicum, the seven
metals composing it, and its wonderful qualities, see extracts from
Paracelsus's writings in Hartmann's Life of Paracelsus, London, 1887,
pp. 168 et seq. As to the more rapid transition of light than sound, the
following expresses the scholastic method well: "What is the cause why
we see sooner the lightning than we heare the thunder clappe? That is
because our sight is both nobler and sooner perceptive of its object
than our eare; as being the more active part, and priore to our hearing:
besides, the visible species are more subtile and less corporeal than
the audible species."--Person's Varieties, Meteors, p. 82. For Basil
Valentine's view, see Hoefer, vol. i, pp. 453-465; Schmieder, Geschichte
der Alchemie, pp. 197-209; Allgemeine deutsche Biographies, article
Basilius. For the discussions referred to on possibilities of God
assuming forms of stone, or log, or beast, see Lippert, Christenthum,
Volksglaube, und Volksbrauch, pp. 372, 373, where citations are given,
etc. For the syllogism regarding Solomon, see Figuier, L'Alchimie et les
Alchimistes, pp. 106, 107. For careful appreciation of Becher's position
in the history of chemistry, see Kopp, Ansichten uber die Aufgabe der
Chemie, etc., von Geber bis Stahl, Braunschweig, 1875, pp. 201 et seq.
For the text proving the existence of the philosopher's stone from the
book of Revelation, see Figuier, p. 22.

Of the general reasoning enforced by theology regarding physical
science, every age has shown examples; yet out of them all I will select
but two, and these are given because they show how this mixture
of theological with scientific ideas took hold upon the strongest
supporters of better reasoning even after the power of medieval theology
seemed broken.

The first of these examples is Melanchthon. He was the scholar of the
Reformation, and justly won the title "Preceptor of Germany." His mind
was singularly open, his sympathies broad, and his usual freedom from
bigotry drew down upon him that wrath of Protestant heresy-hunters
which embittered the last years of his life and tortured him upon his
deathbed. During his career at the University of Wittenberg he gave a
course of lectures on physics, and in these he dwelt upon scriptural
texts as affording scientific proofs, accepted the interference of the
devil in physical phenomena as in other things, and applied the medieval
method throughout his whole work.(278)

     (278) For Melanchthon's ideas on physics, see his Initia Doctrinae
Physicae, Wittenberg, 1557, especially pp. 243 and 274; also in vol.
xiii of Bretschneider's edition of the collected works, and especially
pp. 339-343.

Yet far more remarkable was the example, a century later, of the man who
more than any other led the world out of the path opened by Aquinas,
and into that through which modern thought has advanced to its greatest
conquests. Strange as it may at first seem, Francis Bacon, whose
keenness of sight revealed the delusions of the old path and the
promises of the new, and whose boldness did so much to turn the world
from the old path into the new, presents in his own writings one of the
most striking examples of the evil he did so much to destroy.

The Novum Organon, considering the time when it came from his pen, is
doubtless one of the greatest exhibitions of genius in the history of
human thought. It showed the modern world the way out of the scholastic
method and reverence for dogma into the experimental method and
reverence for fact. In it occur many passages which show that the
great philosopher was fully alive to the danger both to religion and to
science arising from their mixture. He declares that the "corruption of
philosophy from superstition and theology introduced the greatest amount
of evil both into whole systems of philosophy and into their parts." He
denounces those who "have endeavoured to found a natural philosophy on
the books of Genesis and Job and other sacred Scriptures, so 'seeking
the dead among the living.'" He speaks of the result as "an unwholesome
mixture of things human and divine; not merely fantastic philosophy, but
heretical religion."

He refers to the opposition of the fathers to the doctrine of the
rotundity of the earth, and says that, "thanks to some of them, you may
find the approach to any kind of philosophy, however improved, entirely
closed up." He charges that some of these divines are "afraid lest
perhaps a deeper inquiry into nature should, penetrate beyond the
allowed limits of sobriety"; and finally speaks of theologians as
sometimes craftily conjecturing that, if science be little understood,
"each single thing can be referred more easily to the hand and rod of

No man who has reflected much upon the annals of his race can, without a
feeling of awe, come into the presence of such clearness of insight and
boldness of utterance, and the first thought of the reader is that, of
all men, Francis Bacon is the most free from the unfortunate bias he
condemns; that he, certainly, can not be deluded into the old path.
But as we go on through his main work we are surprised to find that the
strong arm of Aquinas has been stretched over the intervening ages, and
has laid hold upon this master-thinker of the seventeenth century; for
only a few chapters beyond those containing the citations already made
we find Bacon alluding to the recent voyage of Columbus, and speaking of
the prophecy of Daniel regarding the latter days, that "many shall
run to and fro, and knowledge be increased," as clearly signifying
"that... the circumnavigation of the world and the increase of science
should happen in the same age."(279)

     (279) See the Novum Organon, translated by the Rev. G. W. Kitchin,
Oxford, 1855, chaps. lxv and lxxxix.

In his great work on the Advancement of Learning the firm grasp which
the methods he condemned held upon him is shown yet more clearly. In the
first book of it he asserts that "that excellent book of Job, if it
be revolved with diligence, will be found pregnant and swelling with
natural philosophy," and he endeavours to show that in it the "roundness
of the earth," the "fixing of the stars, ever standing at equal
distances," the "depression of the southern pole," the "matter of
generation," and "matter of minerals" are "with great elegancy noted."
But, curiously enough, he uses to support some of these truths the very
texts which the fathers of the Church used to destroy them, and those
for which he finds Scripture warrant most clearly are such as science
has since disproved. So, too, he says that Solomon was enabled in his
Proverbs, "by donation of God, to compile a natural history of all

     (280) See Bacon, Advancement of Learning, edited by W. Aldis Wright,
London, 1873, pp. 47, 48. Certainly no more striking examples of the
strength of the evil which he had all along been denouncing could be
exhibited that these in his own writings. Nothing better illustrates the
sway of the mediaeval theology, or better explains his blindness to the
discoveries of Copernicus and to the experiments of Gilbert. For a
very contemptuous statement of Lord Bacon's claim to his position as
a philosopher, see Lange, Geschichte des Materialismus, Leipsic, 1872,
vol i, p. 219. For a more just statement, see Brewster, Life of Sir
Isaac Newton, London, 1874, vol. ii, p. 298.

Such was the struggle of the physical sciences in general. Let us now
look briefly at one special example out of many, which reveals, as well
as any, one of the main theories which prompted theological interference
with them.

It will doubtless seem amazing to many that for ages the weight of
theological thought in Christendom was thrown against the idea of the
suffocating properties of certain gases, and especially of carbonic
acid. Although in antiquity we see men forming a right theory of gases
in mines, we find that, early in the history of the Church, St. Clement
of Alexandria put forth the theory that these gases are manifestations
of diabolic action, and that, throughout Christendom, suffocation in
caverns, wells, and cellars was attributed to the direct action of evil
spirits. Evidences of this view abound through the medieval period, and
during the Reformation period a great authority, Agricola, one of the
most earnest and truthful of investigators, still adhered to the
belief that these gases in mines were manifestations of devils, and he
specified two classes--one of malignant imps, who blow out the miners'
lamps, and the other of friendly imps, who simply tease the workmen in
various ways. He went so far as to say that one of these spirits in the
Saxon mine of Annaberg destroyed twelve workmen at once by the power of
his breath.

At the end of the sixteenth century we find a writer on mineralogy
complaining that the mines in France and Germany had been in large part
abandoned on account of the "evil spirits of metals which had taken
possession of them."

Even as late as the seventeenth century, Van Helmont, after he
had broken away from alchemy and opened one of the great paths to
chemistry--even after he had announced to the world the existence of
various gases and the mode of their generation--was not strong enough to
free himself from theologic bias; he still inclined to believe that the
gases he had discovered, were in some sense living spirits, beneficent
or diabolical.

But at various. periods glimpses of the truth had been gained. The
ancient view had not been entirely forgotten; and as far back as the
first part of the thirteenth century Albert the Great suggested a
natural cause in the possibility of exhalations from minerals causing a
"corruption of the air"; but he, as we have seen, was driven or
dragged off into, theological studies, and the world relapsed into the
theological view.

Toward the end of the fifteenth century there had come a great genius
laden with important truths in chemistry, but for whom the world was
not ready--Basil Valentine. His discoveries anticipated much that has
brought fame and fortune to chemists since, yet so fearful of danger was
he that his work was carefully concealed. Not until after his death was
his treatise on alchemy found, and even then it was for a long time not
known where and when he lived. The papal bull, Spondent pariter, and the
various prohibitions it bred, forcing other alchemists to conceal their
laboratories, led him to let himself be known during his life at Erfurt
simply as an apothecary, and to wait until after his death to make a
revelation of truth which during his lifetime might have cost him dear.
Among the legacies of this greatest of the alchemists was the doctrine
that the air which asphyxiates workers in mines is similar to that which
is produced by fermentation of malt, and a recommendation that, in
order to drive away the evil and to prevent serious accidents, fires
be lighted and jets of steam used to ventilate the mines--stress being
especially laid upon the idea that the danger in the mines is produced
by "exhalations of metals."

Thanks to men like Valentine, this idea of the interference of Satan
and his minions with the mining industry was gradually weakened, and the
working of the deserted mines was resumed; yet even at a comparatively
recent period we find it still lingering, and among leading divines in
the very heart of Protestant Germany. In 1715 a cellar-digger having
been stifled at Jena, the medical faculty of the university decided
that the cause was not the direct action of the devil, but a deadly gas.
Thereupon Prof. Loescher, of the University of Wittenberg, entered a
solemn protest, declaring that the decision of the medical faculty was
"only a proof of the lamentable license which has so taken possession of
us, and which, if we are not earnestly on our guard, will finally turn
away from us the blessing of God."(281) But denunciations of this kind
could not hold back the little army of science; in spite of adverse
influences, the evolution of physics and chemistry went on. More and
more there rose men bold enough to break away from theological methods
and strong enough to resist ecclesiastical bribes and threats. As
alchemy in its first form, seeking for the philosopher's stone and the
transmutation of metals, had given way to alchemy in its second form,
seeking for the elixir of life and remedies more or less magical for
disease, so now the latter yielded to the search for truth as truth.
More and more the "solemnly constituted impostors" were resisted
in every field. A great line of physicists and chemists began to

     (281) For Loescher's protest, see Julian Schmidt, Geschichte des
geistigen Lebens, etc., vol. i, p. 319.

     (282) For the general view of noxious gases as imps of Satan, see
Hoefer, Histoire de la Chimie, vol. i, p. 350; vol. ii, p. 48. For the
work of Black, Priestley, Bergmann, and others, see main authorities
already cited, and especially the admirable paper of Dr. R. G. Eccles on
The Evolution of Chemistry, New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1891. For the
treatment of Priesley, see Spence's Essays, London, 1892; also Rutt,
Life and Correspondence of Priestley, vol. ii, pp. 115 et seq.


Just at the middle of the seventeenth century, and at the very centre
of opposition to physical science, Robert Boyle began the new epoch
in chemistry. Strongly influenced by the writings of Bacon and the
discoveries of Galileo, he devoted himself to scientific research,
establishing at Oxford a laboratory and putting into it a chemist from
Strasburg. For this he was at once bitterly attacked. In spite of his
high position, his blameless life, his liberal gifts to charity and
learning, the Oxford pulpit was especially severe against him, declaring
that his researches were destroying religion and his experiments
undermining the university. Public orators denounced him, the wits
ridiculed him, and his associates in the peerage were indignant that
he should condescend to pursuits so unworthy. But Boyle pressed on. His
discoveries opened new paths in various directions and gave an impulse
to a succession of vigorous investigators. Thus began the long series of
discoveries culminating those of Black, Bergmann, Cavendish, Priestley,
and Lavoisier, who ushered in the chemical science of the nineteenth

Yet not even then without a sore struggle against unreason. And it
must here be noticed that this unreason was not all theological. The
unreasoning heterodox when intrusted with irresponsible power can be as
short-sighted and cruel as the unreasoning orthodox. Lavoisier, one of
the best of our race, not only a great chemist but a true man, was
sent to the scaffold by the Parisian mob, led by bigoted "liberals" and
atheists, with the sneer that the republic had no need of savants. As
to Priestley, who had devoted his life to science and to every good
work among his fellow-men, the Birmingham mob, favoured by the Anglican
clergymen who harangued them as "fellow-churchmen," wrecked his house,
destroyed his library, philosophical instruments, and papers containing
the results of long years of scientific research, drove him into exile,
and would have murdered him if they could have laid their hands upon
him. Nor was it entirely his devotion to rational liberty, nor even
his disbelief in the doctrine of the Trinity, which brought on this
catastrophe. That there was a deep distrust of his scientific pursuits,
was evident when the leaders of the mob took pains to use his electrical
apparatus to set fire to his papers.

Still, though theological modes of thought continued to sterilize much
effort in chemistry, the old influence was more and more thrown off,
and truth sought more and more for truth's sake. "Black magic" with
its Satanic machinery vanished, only reappearing occasionally
among marvel-mongers and belated theologians. "White magic" became

In the early years of the nineteenth century, physical research,
though it went on with ever-increasing vigour, felt in various ways the
reaction which followed the French Revolution. It was not merely under
the Bourbons and Hapsburgs that resistance was offered; even in
England the old spirit lingered long. As late as 1832, when the British
Association for the Advancement of Science first visited Oxford, no
less amiable a man than John Keble--at that time a power in the
university--condemned indignantly the conferring of honorary degrees
upon the leading men thus brought together. In a letter of that date to
Dr. Pusey he complained bitterly, to use his own words, that "the Oxford
doctors have truckled sadly to the spirit of the times in receiving the
hotchpotch of philosophers as they did." It is interesting to know that
among the men thus contemptuously characterized were Brewster, Faraday,
and Dalton.

Nor was this a mere isolated exhibition of feeling; it lasted many
years, and was especially shown on both sides of the Atlantic in all
higher institutions of learning where theology was dominant. Down to a
period within the memory of men still in active life, students in the
sciences, not only at Oxford and Cambridge but at Harvard and Yale, were
considered a doubtful if not a distinctly inferior class, intellectually
and socially--to be relegated to different instructors and buildings,
and to receive their degrees on a different occasion and with different
ceremonies from those appointed for students in literature. To the
State University of Michigan, among the greater American institutions of
learning which have never possessed or been possessed by a theological
seminary, belongs the honour of first breaking down this wall of

But from the middle years of the century chemical science progressed
with ever-accelerating force, and the work of Bunsen, Kirchhoff,
Dalton, and Faraday has, in the last years of the century, led up to
the establishment of Mendeleef's law, by which chemistry has become
predictive, as astronomy had become predictive by the calculations of
Newton, and biology by the discoveries of Darwin.

While one succession of strong men were thus developing chemistry out
of one form of magic, another succession were developing physics out of
another form.

First in this latter succession may be mentioned that line of thinkers
who divined and reasoned out great physical laws--a line extending
from Galileo and Kepler and Newton to Ohm and Faraday and Joule and
Helmholtz. These, by revealing more and more clearly the reign of law,
steadily undermined the older theological view of arbitrary influence
in nature. Next should be mentioned the line of profound observers, from
Galileo and Torricelli to Kelvin. These have as thoroughly undermined
the old theologic substitution of phrases for facts. When Galileo
dropped the differing weights from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, he began
the end of Aristotelian authority in physics. When Torricelli balanced a
column of mercury against a column of water and each of these against
a column of air, he ended the theologic phrase that "nature abhors a
vacuum." When Newton approximately determined the velocity of sound, he
ended the theologic argument that we see the flash before we hear the
roar because "sight is nobler than hearing." When Franklin showed that
lightning is caused by electricity, and Ohm and Faraday proved that
electricity obeys ascertained laws, they ended the theological idea of a
divinity seated above the clouds and casting thunderbolts.

Resulting from the labour of both these branches of physical science,
we have the establishment of the great laws of the indestructibility
of matter, the correlation of forces, and chemical affinity. Thereby is
ended, with various other sacred traditions, the theological theory of
a visible universe created out of nothing, so firmly imbedded in
the theological thought of the Middle Ages and in the Westminster

     (283) For a reappearance of the fundamental doctrines of black magic
among theologians, see Rev. Dr. Jewett, Professor of Pastoral Theology
in the Prot. Episc. Gen. Theolog. Seminary of New York, Diabolology: The
Person and the Kingdom of Satan, New York, 1889. For their appearance
among theosophists, see Eliphas Levi, Histoire de la Magie, especially
the final chapters. For opposition to Boyle and chemistry studies at
Oxford in the latter half of the seventeenth century, see the address
of Prof. Dixon, F. R. S., before the British Association, 1894. For the
recent progress of chemistry, and opposition to its earlier development
at Oxford, see Lord Salisbury's address as President of the British
Association, in 1894. For the Protestant survival of the mediaeval
assertion that the universe was created out of nothing, see the
Westminster Catechism, question 15.

In our own time some attempt has been made to renew this war against
the physical sciences. Joseph de Maistre, uttering his hatred of them,
declaring that mankind has paid too dearly for them, asserting that they
must be subjected to theology, likening them to fire--good when confined
and dangerous when scattered about--has been one of the main leaders
among those who can not relinquish the idea that our body of sacred
literature should be kept a controlling text-book of science. The only
effect of such teachings has been to weaken the legitimate hold of
religion upon men.

In Catholic countries exertion has of late years been mainly confined to
excluding science or diluting it in university teachings. Early in the
present century a great effort was made by Ferdinand VII of Spain.
He simply dismissed the scientific professors from the University of
Salamanca, and until a recent period there has been general exclusion
from Spanish universities of professors holding to the Newtonian
physics. So, too, the contemporary Emperor of Austria attempted
indirectly something of the same sort; and at a still later period
Popes Gregory XVI and Pius IX discouraged, if they did not forbid, the
meetings of scientific associations in Italy. In France, war between
theology and science, which had long been smouldering, came in the years
1867 and 1868 to an outbreak. Toward the end of the last century, after
the Church had held possession of advanced instruction for more than
a thousand years, and had, so far as it was able, kept experimental
science in servitude--after it had humiliated Buffon in natural science,
thrown its weight against Newton in the physical sciences, and wrecked
Turgot's noble plans for a system of public instruction--the French
nation decreed the establishment of the most thorough and complete
system of higher instruction in science ever known. It was kept under
lay control and became one of the glories of France; but, emboldened by
the restoration of the Bourbons in 1815, the Church began to undermine
this hated system, and in 1868 had made such progress that all was ready
for the final assault.

Foremost among the leaders of the besieging party was the Bishop of
Orleans, Dupanloup, a man of many winning characteristics and of great
oratorical power. In various ways, and especially in an open letter, he
had fought the "materialism" of science at Paris, and especially were
his attacks levelled at Profs. Vulpian and See and the Minister of
Public instruction, Duruy, a man of great merit, whose only crime was
devotion to the improvement of education and to the promotion of the
highest research in science.(284)

     (284) For the exertions of the restored Bourbons to crush the
universities of Spain, see Hubbard, Hist. Contemporaine de l'Espagne,
Paris, 1878, chaps. i and ii. For Dupanloup, Lettre a un Cardinal, see
the Revue de Therapeutique of 1868, p. 221.

The main attack was made rather upon biological science than upon
physics and chemistry, yet it was clear that all were involved together.

The first onslaught was made in the French Senate, and the storming
party in that body was led by a venerable and conscientious prelate,
Cardinal de Bonnechose, Archbishop of Rouen. It was charged by him and
his party that the tendencies of the higher scientific teaching at Paris
were fatal to religion and morality. Heavy missiles were hurled--such
phrases as "sapping the foundations," "breaking down the bulwarks,"
and the like; and, withal, a new missile was used with much effect--the
epithet "materialist."

The results can be easily guessed: crowds came to the lecture-rooms of
the attacked professors, and the lecture-room of Prof. See, the chief
offender, was crowded to suffocation.

A siege was begun in due form. A young physician was sent by the
cardinal's party into the heterodox camp as a spy. Having heard one
lecture of Prof. See, he returned with information that seemed to
promise easy victory to the besieging party: he brought a terrible
statement--one that seemed enough to overwhelm See, Vulpian, Duruy, and
the whole hated system of public instruction in France--the statement
that See had denied the existence of the human soul.

Cardinal Bonnechose seized the tremendous weapon at once. Rising in his
place in the Senate, he launched a most eloquent invective against the
Minister of State who could protect such a fortress of impiety as the
College of Medicine; and, as a climax, he asserted, on the evidence
of his spy fresh from Prof. See's lecture-room, that the professor had
declared, in his lecture of the day before, that so long as he had the
honour to hold his professorship he would combat the false idea of the
existence of the soul. The weapon seemed resistless and the wound fatal,
but M. Duruy rose and asked to be heard.

His statement was simply that he held in his hand documentary proofs
that Prof. See never made such a declaration. He held the notes used by
Prof. See in his lecture. Prof. See, it appeared, belonged to a school
in medical science which combated certain ideas regarding medicine as an
ART. The inflamed imagination of the cardinal's heresy-hunting emissary
had, as the lecture-notes proved, led him to mistake the word "art" for
"ame," and to exhibit Prof. See as treating a theological when he was
discussing a purely scientific question. Of the existence of the soul
the professor had said nothing.

The forces of the enemy were immediately turned; they retreated in
confusion, amid the laughter of all France; and a quiet, dignified
statement as to the rights of scientific instructors by Wurtz, dean of
the faculty, completed their discomfiture. Thus a well-meant attempt
to check science simply ended in bringing ridicule on religion, and
in thrusting still deeper into the minds of thousands of men that most
mistaken of all mistaken ideas: the conviction that religion and science
are enemies.(285)

     (285) For a general account of the Vulpian and See matter, see Revue des
Deux Mondes, 31 mai, 1868, "Chronique de la Quinzaine," pp. 763-765. As
to the result on popular thought, may be noted the following comment on
the affair by the Revue, which is as free as possible from anything
like rabid anti-ecclesiastical ideas: "Elle a ete vraiment curieuse,
instructive, assez triste et meme un peu amusante." For Wurtz's
statement, see Revue de Therapeutique for 1868, p. 303.

But justice forbids raising an outcry against Roman Catholicism for
this. In 1864 a number of excellent men in England drew up a declaration
to be signed by students in the natural sciences, expressing "sincere
regret that researches into scientific truth are perverted by some in
our time into occasion for casting doubt upon the truth and authenticity
of the Holy Scriptures." Nine tenths of the leading scientific men of
England refused to sign it; nor was this all: Sir John Herschel, Sir
John Bowring, and Sir W. R. Hamilton administered, through the press,
castigations which roused general indignation against the proposers of
the circular, and Prof. De Morgan, by a parody, covered memorial and
memorialists with ridicule. It was the old mistake, and the old result
followed in the minds of multitudes of thoughtful young men.(286)

     (286) De Morgan, Paradoxes, pp. 421-428; also Daubeny's Essays.

And in yet another Protestant country this same mistake was made. In
1868 several excellent churchmen in Prussia thought it their duty to
meet for the denunciation of "science falsely so called." Two results
followed: upon the great majority of these really self-sacrificing
men--whose first utterances showed complete ignorance of the theories
they attacked--there came quiet and widespread contempt; upon Pastor
Knak, who stood forth and proclaimed views of the universe which he
thought scriptural, but which most schoolboys knew to be childish,
came a burst of good-natured derision from every quarter of the German

     (287) See the Berlin newspapers for the summer of 1868, especially

But in all the greater modern nations warfare of this kind, after the
first quarter of the nineteenth century, became more and more futile.
While conscientious Roman bishops, and no less conscientious Protestant
clergymen in Europe and America continued to insist that advanced
education, not only in literature but in science, should be kept under
careful control in their own sectarian universities and colleges,
wretchedly one-sided in organization and inadequate in equipment; while
Catholic clerical authorities in Spain were rejecting all professors
holding the Newtonian theory, and in Austria and Italy all holding
unsafe views regarding the Immaculate Conception, and while Protestant
clerical authorities in Great Britain and America were keeping out
of professorships men holding unsatisfactory views regarding the
Incarnation, or Infant Baptism, or the Apostolic Succession, or
Ordination by Elders, or the Perseverance of the Saints; and while both
Catholic and Protestant ecclesiastics were openly or secretly weeding
out of university faculties all who showed willingness to consider
fairly the ideas of Darwin, a movement was quietly in progress destined
to take instruction, and especially instruction in the physical
and natural sciences, out of its old subordination to theology and

     (288) Whatever may be thought of the system of philosophy advocated by
President McCosh at Princeton, every thinking man must honor him for the
large way in which he, at least, broke away from the traditions of that
centre of thought; prevented, so far as he was able, persecution of
scholars for holding to the Darwinian view; and paved the way for the
highest researches in physical science in that university. For a most
eloquent statement of the opposition of modern physical science to
mediaeval theological views, as shown in the case of Sir Isaac Newton,
see Dr. Thomas Chalmers, cited in Gore, Art of Scientific Discovery,
London, 1878, p. 247.

The most striking beginnings of this movement had been seen when, in the
darkest period of the French Revolution, there was founded at Paris the
great Conservatory of Arts and Trades, and when, in the early years
of the nineteenth century, scientific and technical education spread
quietly upon the Continent. By the middle of the century France and
Germany were dotted with well-equipped technical and scientific schools,
each having chemical and physical laboratories.

The English-speaking lands lagged behind. In England, Oxford and
Cambridge showed few if any signs of this movement, and in the United
States, down to 1850, evidences of it were few and feeble. Very
significant is it that, at that period, while Yale College had in
its faculty Silliman and Olmsted--the professor of chemistry and the
professor of physics most widely known in the United States--it had no
physical or chemical laboratory in the modern sense, and confined its
instruction in these subjects to examinations upon a text-book and the
presentation of a few lectures. At the State University of Michigan,
which had even then taken a foremost place in the higher education west
of the Great Lakes, there was very meagre instruction in chemistry and
virtually none in physics. This being the state of things in the middle
of the century in institutions remarkably free from clerical control,
it can be imagined what was the position of scientific instruction in
smaller colleges and universities where theological considerations were
entirely dominant.

But in 1851, with the International Exhibition at London, began in Great
Britain and America a movement in favour of scientific education; men
of wealth and public spirit began making contributions to them, and thus
came the growth of a new system of instruction in which Chemistry and
Physics took just rank.

By far the most marked feature in this movement was seen in America,
when, in 1857, Justin S. Morrill, a young member of Congress from
Vermont, presented the project of a law endowing from the public lands
a broad national system of colleges in which scientific and technical
studies should be placed on an equality with studies in classical
literature, one such college to be established in every State of the
Union. The bill, though opposed mainly by representatives from the
Southern States, where doctrinaire politics and orthodox theology were
in strong alliance with negro slavery, was passed by both Houses of
Congress, but vetoed by President Buchanan, in whom the doctrinaire and
orthodox spirit was incarnate. But Morrill persisted and again presented
his bill, which was again carried in spite of the opposition of the
Southern members, and again vetoed in 1859 by President Buchanan. Then
came the civil war; but Morrill and his associates did not despair of
the republic. In the midst of all the measures for putting vast armies
into the field and for saving the Union from foreign interference as
well as from domestic anarchy, they again passed the bill, and in 1862,
in the darkest hour of the struggle for national existence, it became a
law by the signature of President Lincoln.

And here it should not be unrecorded, that, while the vast majority of
the supporters of the measure were laymen, most efficient service was
rendered by a clergyman, the Rev. Dr. Amos Brown, born in New Hampshire,
but at that time an instructor in a little village of New York. His
ideas were embodied in the bill, and his efforts did much for its

Thus was established, in every State of the American Union, at least one
institution in which scientific and technical studies were given equal
rank with classical, and promoted by laboratories for research in
physical and natural science. Of these institutions there are now nearly
fifty: all have proved valuable, and some of them, by the addition of
splendid gifts from individuals and from the States in which they are
situated, have been developed into great universities.

Nor was this all. Many of the older universities and colleges thus
received a powerful stimulus in the new direction. The great physical
and chemical laboratories founded by gifts from public-spirited
individuals, as at Harvard, Yale, and Chicago, or by enlightened State
legislators, as in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, Kansas,
and Nebraska, have also become centres from which radiate influences
favouring the unfettered search for truth as truth.

This system has been long enough in operation to enable us to note in
some degree its effects on religion, and these are certainly such as
to relieve those who have feared that religion was necessarily bound up
with the older instruction controlled by theology. While in Europe, by a
natural reaction, the colleges under strict ecclesiastical control have
sent forth the most powerful foes the Christian Church has ever known,
of whom Voltaire and Diderot and Volney and Sainte-Beuve and Renan are
types, no such effects have been noted in these newer institutions.
While the theological way of looking at the universe has steadily
yielded, there has been no sign of any tendency toward irreligion. On
the contrary, it is the testimony of those best acquainted with the
American colleges and universities during the last forty-five years that
there has been in them a great gain, not only as regards morals, but as
regards religion in its highest and best sense. The reason is not far
to seek. Under the old American system the whole body of students at
a university were confined to a single course, for which the majority
cared little and very many cared nothing, and, as a result, widespread
idleness and dissipation were inevitable. Under the new system,
presenting various courses, and especially courses in various sciences,
appealing to different tastes and aims, the great majority of students
are interested, and consequently indolence and dissipation have steadily
diminished. Moreover, in the majority of American institutions of
learning down to the middle of the century, the main reliance for the
religious culture of students was in the perfunctory presentation of
sectarian theology, and the occasional stirring up of what were called
"revivals," which, after a period of unhealthy stimulus, inevitably left
the main body of students in a s