Skip to main content

Full text of "Faith and Thought"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book lhal w;ls preserved for general ions on library shelves before il was carefully scanned by Google as pari of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

Il has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one thai was never subject 

to copy right or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often dillicull lo discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher lo a library and linally lo you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud lo partner with libraries lo digili/e public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order lo keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial panics, including placing Icchnical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make n on -commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request thai you use these files for 
personal, non -commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort lo Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each lile is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use. remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 

countries. Whether a book is slill in copyright varies from country lo country, and we can'l offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through I lie lull lexl of 1 1 us book on I lie web 
al |_-.:. :.-.-:: / / books . qooqle . com/| 



+ 1870-1889. + 

J J 

+ Preiented to the University of Michigan. ■+- 

t t 




VOL. I. 



futtfria £uttitvit\, 

|biloso(j|jicsl Sorietj of frtat Britain. 


VOL. I. 


($ubliiftrt fnr tijt 3nstitutf) 







Sonorarg tZfteastsm. 

Aottomg &ecretarg. 
JAMES REDDIE, ESQ., Hon. Mem. Dial. Soc, Edin. Univer. 

Sonorarg Jtnrrffln Secretary. 





ROBERT N. FOWLER, ESQ., M.A. (Trustee). 






REV. J. B. OWEN, M.A. 









#%tts ai % Victoria Instate. 

First.— To investigate fully and impartially the most important questions of 
Philosophy and Science, but more especially those that bear upon the 
great truths revealed in Holy Scripture, with the view of defending 
these truths against the oppositions of Science, falsely so called.^^ 

Second. — To associate together men of Science and authors who have already 
been engaged in such investigations, and all others who may be inte- 
rested in them, in order to strengthen their efforts by association ; and 
by bringing together the results of such labours, after full discussion, in 
the printed Transactions of an Institution, to give greater force and 
influence to proofs and arguments which might be regarded as compa- 
ratively weak and valueless, or be little known, if put forward merely 
by individuals. 

Third. — To consider the mutual bearings of the various scientific conclusions 
arrived at in the several distinct branches into which Science is no 
divided, in order to get rid of contradictions and conflicting hypothe 
and thus promote the real advancement of true Science ; and/to exam* ' 
and discuss all supposed scientific results with reference to4inal o 
and the more comprehensive and fundamental principles of Phil f 8 ' 
proper, based upon faith in the existence of one Eternal God \? • 
His wisdom created all things very good. / > uo in 

Fourth. — To publish Papers read before the Society in fu^A 

>ove objects, along with verbatim reports of the discussio v° e °^ 
the form of a Journal, or as the Transactions of the Insiif + ere °D, in 

above objects, along with verbatim reports of the discussio 1! ^ e 

rm of a Journal, or as the Transactions of the Instit + ere on, \ 

Fifth. — When subjects have been fully discussed, to make th 

by means of Lectures of a more popular kind, to ^v , resu ^s known 
admissible ; and to publish such Lectures. c ^ ladies will h 

Sixth.— To publish English translations of important f 

scientific and philosophical value, especially ^ n ei & 11 Dorics of 

relation between the Scriptures and Science • a j "^rino nr» 

other philosophical societies at home and abroad \ ^° Co "*°T>er« + ** ^ e 

hereafter be formed, in the interest of Script * are U ^ 

science, and generally in furtherance of thp Mx» ^^ trutk 0r Doav 

Jects of tta « an4 of > i 
Seventh. — To found a Library and Heading Room f ^ 0c ietv ^ 

and Associates of the Institute, combining 1 1» ° r ^ e Use t 

Literary Club. - «* P*ncip al £«* If^fc^ 

auta 8es nf „ 

*^s of 


ferns of llfamfersjrip, #r. 


The Objects of the Victoria Institute being of the highest importance both 
to Science and Religion, while they are such as have not been attempted to be 
attained by any previously existing scientific society, it is anticipated that 
when its establishment is known, it will receive the most liberal support by 
gifts and donations from friends, and be joined by large numbers of Members 
and Associates. 

The annual subscription for Members is now Two Guineas each ; with 
One Guinea Entrance Donation. 

The annual subscription of 1st and 2nd class Associates (ladies being 
eligible) is Two Guineas or One Guinea each, without any Entrance Fee. 

Life Members to pay Twenty Guineas ; and Life Associates, first or second 
class, to pay Twenty or Ten Guineas, respectively, in lieu of the above 
Annual Subscriptions. 

Vice-Patrons (ladies or gentlemen) to pay not less than Sixty Guineas 
each, as a Donation to the funds of the Institute. 

*** All who join the Society as Members must be professedly Christians. 

On 31st December, 1866, the Foundation Lists were closed. Members 
now admitted will be required to pay an Entrance Donation of One Guinea, 
as above stated ; but they will receive the first two numbers of the Journal 
of Transactions (published in 1866) gratis. Associates (1st and 2nd class) 
will obtain these Journals on payment of 2s. 6d. for each number. 

New Members and Associates, however, who are desirous of being upon 
the Foundation Lists, although they have not applied for admission till after 
31st December, 1866, may be so elected by the Council, upon the under- 
standing that they shall pay the annual subscription for the year 1866 as well 
as that for 1867. 

Further particulars will be furnished upon application to the Honorary Secre- 
taries or Clerk at the Office, 9, Conduit Street, Regent Street, London, W. 

% # AU Applications for admission and general correspondence (as to papers 
proposed to be read, 8fc ) slwuld be addressed to the Honorary Secretaries of the 
Institute, and all Remittances of donations or subscriptions to the Honorary 
Treasurer, at the Office, 9, Conduit Street, Regent Street, London, W, 

Cheques to be crossed to Messrs. Ransom, Bouverie, & Co., Bankers, 
1, Pall Mall East, London, S.W. 




On page 35, fourth line from bottom, for " p. 14," read p. 18. 

„ 32, after "Postscript," for "Pp. 10, 11, 12, 14," read Pp l4 , K 

16, 18. 

224, line 13, for " plants," read points. 
242, line 11, for "Poleynian," read Polynesian. 
265, line 4, for " unmoved," read universal. 





Officers and Council for 1866-67 v 

Objects of the Victoria Institute * vi 

Terms of Membership, &c vii 

Introduction ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... xi 


Scientia Scientiarum ; being some Account of the Origin and 
Objects of the Victoria Institute, or Philosophical Society of 
Great Britain. By a Member (with Preface to Third Edition) ... 1 

Circular, 24th May, 1865 30 

Postscript to Third Edition of Scientia Scientiarum 32 





First General Meeting, 24th May, 1866 ... 

Report of Provisional Committee and Council 

Inaugural Address of Vice-President 

Inaugural Dinner 

First Ordinary Meeting, 4th June, 1866... 

A Sketch of the existing Relations between Scripture and 

Science. By George Warington, Esq., F.C.S., M.V.I. ... 85 

Discussion on Mr. Warington's Paper 102 

Ordinary Meeting, 18th June, 1866 115 

On the Difference between the Scope of Science and that 
of Revelation as Standards of Truth. By Charles 
Mountford Burnett, Esq., M.D., Vice-President 115 

Discussion on Dr. Burnett's Paper 136 

Ordinary Meeting, 2nd July, 1866 147 

On Comparative Philology, with Reference to the Theories 
of Man's Origin. By the Rev. Robinson Thornton, D.D., 
Head Master of Epsom College, Mem. Vict. Inst 148 

Discussion on the Rev. Dr. Thornton's Paper 162 



•page ' • 

Ordinary Meeting, 16th July, 1866 ... ... 174 

On the Various Theories of Man's Past and Present Condi- 
tion. By James Reddie, Esq., Honorary Secretary ... 174 

Discussion on Mr. Keddie's Paper 198 

Ordinary Meeting, 19th November, 1866 221 

Introductory Address by Vice-President 222 

On the Language of Gesticulation and the Origin of Speech. 

By Professor J. R. Young, Mem. Vict. Inst. 231 ^ 

Discussion on Professor Young's Paper 246 m 

Ordinary Meeting, 3rd December, 1866 256 ' 

On Miracles ; their Compatibility with Philosophical Prin- i 

ciples. By the Rev. W. W. English, M.A., Mem. Vict. Inst 256 i 

Thoughts on Miracles. By E. B. Penny, Esq., M.V.I 276 

Discussion on the above Papers on Mtracles 

Reply by the Rev. W. W. English 

Ordinary Meeting, 17th December, 1866 ... §^ 

On the General Character of Geological Formations. By 
Evan Hopkins, Esq., C.E., F.G.S., Mem. Vict. Inst. 

Discussion on Mr. Hopkins's Paper 

• • . 

Paper by Mr. Lewis Thompson, M.R.C.S., on the Constitution 

of Granite and the Nebular Theory 

• • . 

Ordinary Meeting, 7th January, 1867 

• » . 

On the Past and Present Relations of Geological Scie^ ck 

to the Sacred Scriptures. By the Rev. John Kirk, M v t 

Ordinary Meeting, 21st January, 1867 l 

On the Lessons Taught us by Geology in regakd tc\ ^J* 

xv> the 
Nature of God and the Position of Man. By the "R 

James Brodie, M. A., Mem. Vict. Inst 

On the Mutual Helpfulness of Theology and j^ "* 382 

Science. By John Hall Gladstone, Esq., Ph.D. -d^^ 14 

Mem. Vict. Inst * *"•> 

Discussion on the above Papers on Geology and Theo * " ^&B 

Ordinary Meeting, 4th February, 1867 Gy ... 4^ 

On Falling Stars and Meteorites. By the J^^ "" ... a%* 

Mitchell, M.A., Vice-President ... " ^Teh 

Discussion on Mr. Mitchell's Paper 

APPENDIX (A and B). ... ^ 



Foundation List of Vice-Patrons, Members Aim 

Objects, Constitution and Bye-Laws ... ° Ci ATe< 

47 6 



HPHE Council of the Victoria Institute having deemed it 
■*• advisable to republish, in the first number of its Journal 
of Transactions, the Pamphlet which I ventured to issue in 
September, 1865 (in the first instance entirely upon my own 
Responsibility), with the title " Scientia Scientiarum : being 
some account of the Origin and Objects of the Victoria Insti- 
tute, or Philosophical Society of Great Britain, by a Member ;" 
but which was afterwards circulated by order of the Pro- 
visional Committee, and is referred to with commendation 
both in the Vice-President's Inaugural Address and in the 
President's Speech at the Inaugural Festival, on 24th May, 
1866; — it is now here reprinted (with the Preface and Post- 
script which were added to it upon the publication of the 
third thousand), as being thus connected with the history of 
the Society's foundation. 

The original Circular of 24th May, 1865, in which I roughly 
sketched the first idea of the Victoria Institute, and which is 
referred to in Scientia Scientiarum (p. 5), and in the Report 
of the Provisional Committee and Council (p. 40), will be 
found on p. 33; but the Circular of July, 1865 (No. 4), 
also referred to at the same places, has not been here repro- 
duced, because it contained the names of some gentlemen who, 
though they had at first generally approved of the formation 
of the Society, did not afterwards make formal application to 
be admitted as Members or Associates, when its objects had 
been agreed upon and made public. Circular No. 4 was 
originally issued by itself, to make these objects known ; and 
it was also appended to the first two editions of the Scientia 
Scientiarum ; but it was omitted from the third edition, pub- 
lished in February last, after the First List of the Foundation 


Members and Associates had been printed — it being considered 
that the names of gentlemen who had known of the formation 
of the Society for about nine months, and had not in that time 
regularly joined it, should no longer appear as if connected 
with its foundation, when they had not qualified to be enrolled 
in the Foundation List of its Members and Associates. 

The Council being also aware that some of the Members 
who have joined the Society, even after two hundred names 
had been enrolled, had only recently heard of its existence and 
understood what its objects were; and, knowing that many 
persons, both in the United Kingdom and the Colonies, cannot 
probably be made aware of its establishment for several months 
to come; they, therefore, recommended to the first general 
meeting, that the Foundation Lists should be kept open ttt\ 
Slst December, 1866, in order that as large a number ^\ 
possible might have the opportunity of sharing with tteft. ^k 
the honour of being Foundation Members and AssociaJe^X . 
the Victoria Institute. \ 

I would here, also, beg leave to call especial attev 
the Sixth Kecommendation of the Committee's Eepo^*\j 
and to what 1 have said in the Preface to ScUntia #. n fa ° 
(pp. 8, 4), relating to the Sixth and Seventh Obi ^«afe '' 
Society. And I venture confidently to entertaJ ^s q* , % 
that, through Christian munificence and liberality ° ">e i B 
Object will not long be left unrealized, when * % S^^v 
importance of the work which the Society aim a „,° 6 *he o^ 
ing is fully appreciated. ***°Htt!V v 

J. REDiift, W * u 




SGIENTIA SGIENTIABUM: Being some Account of 
the Origin and Objects of the VICTORIA INSTI- 
TUTE, or Philosophical Society of Great Britain. 
By a Member, 

" We have all agreed to accept that kind of knowledge which we class as Scientific, without 
very much difficulty. If any new proposition comes with the authority of an established pro- 
fessor of the Science, we accept it with the confidence with which a Bom an Catholic might 
take the decision of the infallible Church."— Saturday Bsviev, Oct. 21«f, 1865. 

" Cujusvis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare." — Cicxbo. 

" Prevailing studies are of no small consequence to a state, — the religion, manners, and 
civil government of a country, ever taking some bias from its philosophy, which affects not 
only the minds of its professors and students, but also the opinions of all the better sort 
and the practice of the whole people— remotely and consequently indeed— though not 
inconsiderably." — Berkeley. 


■ Ot 

IN preparing a Third Edition of this Pamphlet, the author 
begs leave to say, that, although it has been circulated 
by order of the Provisional Committee of the Victoria In- 
stitute, he alone is responsible for its contents. In the 
€t Objects of the Society/' " Terms of Membership," &c., 
will be found all that is strictly " official/' if I may use the 
term ; and as this pamphlet has not touched upon either of 
the last four Objects of the Society, I would beg special 
attention to them briefly here. 

The Fourth Object merely explains that our proceedings are 
to be conducted like those of other Scientific Societies, by the 
reading of Papers or Memoirs, and discussing them afterwards. 
It is, however, intended that our reports of discussions are to 
be more than usually full, as is signified by their being 
described as "verbatim reports," instead of mere brief ab- 
stracts. In some Societies — as, for instance, the Koyal 
Society— discussions are not reported at all; and in the 
Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Papers read are never 
discussed. The advantages of the course proposed in the 
Victoria Institute, as a Society for the study of General 
Science and Philosophy, must at once be evident. 

The Fifth Object is distinctively peculiar to this Society. 
The Royal Institution, indeed, has various courses of Lectures, 
some of wlrich are strictly scientific and educational, delivered 
by Professors attached to the Institution; but its popular 
Lectures on miscellaneous subjects are not the results of 
studies or discussions carried on under its auspices, and . 
cannot be compared with the kind of Lectures here proposed. 

Sixth Object. — The intended publication of translations of 
important foreign works, of real scientific and philosophical 
value, is similar to what the Anthropological Society of London 
is doing, with marked success, for Anthropology. By this 
means, it is hoped that subscribers will not only receive a full 
return for their subscriptions, but that valuable books will be 
placed in their hands which otherwise it might not have been 
easy to procure in this country, and not at all in an English 

The Seventh Object also goes beyond the scopoof what most 




■ Ot 

IN preparing a Third Edition of this Pamphlet, the author 
begs leave .to say, that, although it has been circulated 
by order of the Provisional Committee of the Victoria In- 
stitute, he alone is responsible for its contents. In the 
" Objects of the Society/ 1 " Terms of Membership," &c., 
Will be found all that is strictly " official/' if I may use the 
term ; and as this pamphlet has not touched upon either of 
the last four Objects of the Society, I would beg special 
attention to them briefly here. 

The Fourth Object merely explains that our proceedings are 
to be conducted like those of other Scientific Societies, by the 
reading of Papers or Memoirs, and discussing them afterwards. 
It is, however, intended that our reports of discussions are to 
be more thto usually full, as is signified by their being 
described as "verbatim reports," instead of mere brief ab- 
stracts. In some Societies — as, for instance, the Royal 
Society— discussions are not reported at all; and in the 
Royal Institution of G reat Britain, the Papers read are never 
discussed. The advantages of the course proposed in the 
Victoria Institute, as a Society for the study of General 
Science and Philosophy, must at once be evident. 

The Fifth Object is distinctively peculiar to this Society. 
The Royal Institution, indeed, has various courses of Lectures, 
some of which are strictly scientific and educational, delivered 
by Professors attached to the Institution; but its popular 
Lectures on miscellaneous subjects are not the results of 
studies or discussions carried on under its auspices, and . 
cannot be compared with the kind of Lectures here proposed. 

Sixth Object, — The intended publication of translations of 
important foreign works, of real scientific and philosophical 
value, is similar to what the Anthropological Society of London 
is doing, with marked success, for Anthropology. By this 
means, it is hoped that subscribers will not only receive a full 
return for their subscriptions, but that valuable books will be 
placed in their hands which otherwise it might not have been 
easy to procure in this country, and not at all in an English 

The Seventh Object also goes beyond the scope of what most 


Scientific Societies aim at. As this Society will deal with 
General Philosophy and Science, and watch their bearing upon 
Religion, its objects have a general interest that societies for 
the study of specific branches of science cannot possibly have. 
Hence it is anticipated that it will become a large society, 
with Members and Associates all over the kingdom; and it 
was, therefore, deemed advisable that its head-quarters in the 
metropolis ought to offer the advantages slightly indicated 
under Object 7. To realize fully, however, what is therein 
alluded to, depends upon circumstances. It could only be 
hoped for after many years, unless more speedily accomplished 
by individual munificence and liberality. 

In the mean time, the Society has work to do which it will 
have to set about at once. After what I have said on p. 9 
(note), on pp. 10 and 26, and in the Postscript to this edition, 
I trust I need add no more, in order to let it be clearly under- 
stood that the Victoria Institute is not intended to discuss 
purely religious subjects. It is founded in the interest of 
religion, as against atheism and infidelity, but solely for the 
discussion of science and philosophy upon inductive and 
philosophical principles. What the Book of Nature teaches, 
as written in the visible heavens above, the earth beneath, and 
in the history and heart of man, — such will form our proper 
subjects of inquiry. Believing also that there is another 
Book, in which things are revealed which human philosophy 
alone could never have discovered, but which throw light upon 
what else were, only dark to us (as to the ancient heathen 
sages) and inexplicable, we do not think it rational to forga^ 
such revelation ; and we consider we shall not be found lea^ 
scientific, because we believe what our reason approves, whf<> 
throws light upon the mystery of our life, and gives us hor^ 
and consolation in death. 

February I9th 9 1866. 


THE proposal to form a new Scientific Society in London, 
where so many already exist, may naturally be re- 
garded as calling for some explanation. Such a proposal 
would seem to imply, either that the existing societies are 
defective in their aims, or that they fail to carry out their 
objects satisfactorily ; or else, at the least, that the new 
Society has some other and further end in view than is con- 
templated by those previously established. Now, it may 
frankly be admitted that there is some degree of truth in 
each of these alternative propositions; and they might all be 
fairly urged as affording grounds for the establishment of the 
Victoria Institute or Pniiosophical Society of Great Britain. 
The great object of the Victoria Institute, as originally pro- 
pounded in the Circular of 24th May, 1865,* and as set forth in 
Circular No. 4 of July, as the primary Object of the Society, 
is to defend the revealed truth of Holy Scripture against 
oppositions arising, not from real science, but from pseudo- 
science ; and this is an object which no previously existing 
scientific society has made its aim. But then, it must be 
observed, that if existing scientific societies had duly fulfilled 
their aims, and guarded scientific truth, pseudo-science 
would never have been allowed to pass current as truth 
opposed to the Scriptures, and there would then have been no 
place for a new scientific society to expose the fallacies of mere 
quasi science. But this leads us further to consider whether 
this state of things may not be primarily due to some defect 
in the aims of the old societies, to which this inroad of pseudo- 
science is fairly attributable, rather than to the failure on 
the part of Modern scientific men to do justice to the objects 
of their investigations. I venture to think that this is the 
true explanation of the facts of the case, as I shall now 
endeavour to prove. But first let us look at the facts 

* See p. 30. 


It may be regarded as simply nc>toriouS, that Science, so 
called (whether truly or not), is considered by many persons 
to be at issue with what had previously been regarded 
(whether truly or not) as truths revealed in Holy Scripture. 
This supposed contradiction between science ana the Scrip- 
tures was most boldly put forward in the "Essays and 
Reviews/' as a ground for rejecting the theory that the 
Scriptures are wholly inspired; and Dr. Colenso and others 
have followed in the same path, publicly alleging the existence • 

I of such contradictions, and, so far with a bold consistency, F 

setting aside the Scriptures, in consequence, as false. And 
if " science " really means, as it ought, a true knowledge of 
nature; and if such science really contradicts the Scrip- 
tures, then it certainly follows that the Scriptures must be in 
error or misunderstood. As no rational being who thinks 
can believe in contradictions, there can be no doubt what- 
ever, that when the Scriptures and science are at issue, one ■ 
of them must be at faul(; ; and, in that case, it must be of the 
greatest consequence to mankind at large, to be able to 
discover which; The issue involved, indeed, is nothing less 
than the truth or falsehood of Revealed Religion — the main- 
tenance or abandonment of Christianity. 

It \va^ the existence of this state of things that gave rise 
to the famous €€ Declaration of Students of the Natural and 
Physical Sciences," which was signed by upwards of 700 
gentlemen (the greater number being members of the learned 
professions and fellows of scientific societies), who expressed 
themselves as follows : — 

" We, the undersigned Students of the Natural Sciences, desire to express 
our sincere regret, that researches into scientific truth are perverted by some 
in our own times into occasion for casting doubt upon the Truth and 
Authenticity of the. Holy Scriptures. We conceive that it is impossible for 
the Word of God, as written in the book of nature, and God's Word written 
in Holy Scripture, to contradict one another, however much they may appea^ 
to differ. We are not forgetful that Physical Science is not complete, but J^ 
only in a condition of progress, and that at present our finite reason enables 
us only to see as through a glass 'darkly ; and we confidently believe that a 
time will come when the two records will be seen to agree in every particular. 
We cannot but deplore that Natural Science should be looked upon with, 
suspicion by many who do not make a study of it, merely on account of the 
unadvised manner in which some are placing it in opposition to Holy "Writ 
We believe that it is the duty of every Scientific Student to investigate * 
nature simply for the purpose of elucidating truth, and that if he finds that 
some of his results appear to be in contradiction to the Written "Word 
rather to his own interpretations of it, which may be erroneous, he should 
not presumptuously affirm that his own conclusions must be right, and th 


statements of Scripture wrong ; rather, leave the two side by side till it shall 
please God to allow us to see the manner in which they may be reconciled ;* 
and, instead of insisting upon the seeming differences between Science and 
the Scriptures, it would be as well to rest in faith upon the points in which 
they agree." 

In this Declaration we have the "facts" sufficiently ac- 
knowledged, although the manner in which they are stated 
may be regarded as open to criticism. The language is some- 
what indefinite, and therefore not likely quite to satisfy those 
who have definite scientific notions, any more than those who 
distrust science, and have no doubt as to their theological 
traditions. But to say that scientific truth is perverted by 
some, in order to cast doubt upon scriptural truth, if that is 
what is meant by the words that "researches info scientific 
truth " are so perverted, is a declaration that scarcely modifies 
censure by its periphrasis. I do not believe the students who 
signed this Declaration meant really to imply that researches 
into science have been purposely perverted, so as to be made 
antagonistic to religion, as it were, intentionally. t Giving 
due credit to men of science for having simply pursued their 
studies with the view to discover truth, it is surely a simpler 
account of the present state of things to say, that men of 
science, pursuing their researches in this impartial spirit, 
have arrived at certain cosmological and geological deductions, 
which they believe to be scientifically true, which are un- 
fortunately at issue with what the Holy Scriptures have 
hitherto been supposed to reveal as to the Creation and the 

But it is perfectly clear — and this is acknowledged quite 
plainly in the Declaration — that there cannot really be a con- 
tradiction between true science and true revelation. "We 
conceive" (the Declaration says) "that it is impossible for the 
Word of God, as written in the book of nature, and God's 
Word written in Holy Scripture, to contradict one another, 
however much they may appear to differ." And on that point, 
of course, there can be no difference of opinion ; nor is there 
any such difference. If science and Scripture are at issue, 
plainly one of them is wrong — untrue. There can be no other 
issue. If the so-called " science " is really science, though 
contrary to the Scriptures, then the Scriptures must be in error 
or misunderstood. Or, if we maintain the integrity of the 
Scriptures as truly God's revealed word, then what appears 
to be science must be merely pseudo-science, that is, a false 
interpretation Of nature. 

I repeat there cannot be a doubt as to this issue and its 



inevitable result. It is accepted, or rather it is advanced, in the 
plainest manner in the " Essays and Reviews/' — most especially 
in Mr. C. W. Goodwin's essay on the Mosaic Cosmogony; and 
it is the very ground upon which the Bishop of Natal left his 
diocese and came to England, to write his books against the 
Pentateuch. In one of the latest of his public enunciations, 
before returning to South Africa, he advanced distinctly the 
same proposition. I allude to a paper he read before the 
Anthropological Society of London, on May 16th, 1865. In 
it he says, "The elementary truths of geological science flatly 
contradict the accounts of the Creation and the Deluge ;" and 
he adds, "At all events, I have done my best to secure that 
the simple facts revealed by modern science — some of which, 
as Dr. Temple has justly said on a recent occasion, are utterly 
irreconcilable with Scripture statements, if these are taken as 
announcing literal historical truth, — shall not be kept back 
from the heathen with whom my own lot has been cast in the dis- 
trict of Natal/' Here Dr. Colenso is simply declaring, that he 
holds it to be impossible that the truths of nature can be con- 
trary to the truths of revelation ; and he quite consistently 
rejects the scriptural statements which are at variance with 
what he regards as truths of science. 

The difference between him and the students who signed the 
Declaration referred to, is this : — He distrusts the Scriptures, 
and considers his science unquestionable j they rather question 
science, and are not prepared to give up the Holy Scriptures. 
They say, " We are not unmindful that Physical Science is not 
complete, but is only in a condition of progress, and that at 
present our finite reason enables us only to see as through a 
glass darkly j" and they afterwards declare, that they " confi- 
dently believe that a time will come when the two records will 
be seen to agree in every particular." 

Now, in this state of things it is perfectly clear that men 
must naturally range themselves either upon the side of Scrip- 
ture or of science. If, like Dr. Colenso, Dr. Temple and Mr. 
Goodwin, they have implicit faith in what they consider to be 
scientific truth, then they must distrust the Scriptures; 
whereas, on the other hand, if they have faith in the word of 
God as revealed in Scripture, they must distrust that '^science" 
so called, which contradicts it. They cannot believe equally in 
both. They must hold to the one or to the other. Even those 
who are puzzled, and scarcely able to realize so definite a 
course, must feel that it is most unsatisfactory to have science 
and revelation thus at issue; and they must naturally be anxious 
that something should be done to get rid of such contradic- 
tions. Now this is precisely the end which is proposed 


to be accomplished by means of the Victoria Institute. Those 
who rather distrust the deductions of science than the state- 
ments of Scripture are invited to join the new Society and help 
" to investigate fully and impartially the most important ques- 
tions of philosophy and science, but more especially those that 
bear upon the great truths revealed in Holy Scripture, with the 
view of defending these truths against "the oppositions of 
science, falsely so called," that is, against supposed contradic- 
tions of science, which, it is anticipated, will be proved to be, 
not the contradictions of true science, but merely the rash 
deductions of false or pseudo science.* 

To this proposed course, it may obviously be objected, in 
limine, that it assumes science to bo at fault, and with this pre- 
conceived view it sets about its investigations. But the answer 
to this is equally easy, namely, that the assumption truly 
represents the state of mind of those who propose to pursue 
this course. It is simply a fact that they do distrust science, 
and do not distrust the Scriptures ; and, therefore, they are in 
a manner bound to see whether their distrust of science can 
be fully justified or not. Besides, it can be a matter of little 
moment whether they expect to find one result or another, so 

* One or two gentlemen, who have otherwise and generally .approved of 
the objects of the Victoria Institute, and one at least who has joined it, con- 
sider that this " object" is somewhat too* negative in its scope. They would 
have preferred that the primary object of the Society should have been, to 
show positively how scientific discoveries illustrate and corroborate the truths 
of revelation. Of course, it by no means follows that this view may not yet 
prevail in the Society. But it should be kept in mind that the Victori 
Institute, as a matter of fact, originated as a defence movement The first 
work, therefore, it has set its members and associates, is the investigation of 
the alleged facts and so called science which Dr. Colenso, Dr. Temple, and 
others have publicly declared to be in opposition to Scripture statements. 
And this is surely the natural and proper course for those who dispute the 
existence of such " facts " or " science." Moreover, for my own part, I would 
beg leave to adopt the prudent language employed by the Rev. H. B. Tristram 
before the British Association at Bath, in 1864, upon reading his valuable 
paper " On the Deposits in the Basin of the Dead Sea." He said he " had 
a dread of attempting to corroborate Scripture by natural or physical argu- 
ments which may be refuted ; for the objector is apt to think that when he 
has refuted the weak argument, he has refuted the Scriptural statement."— 
(Rep. of Brit. Assoc, 1864, p. 73.) 

I ought to add here that the Scriptural phrase, " oppositions of science 
falsely so called," is not used in the sense of the Greek original, as employed 
by St Paul, but only as commonly used now in the popular sense the words 
imply in English, which is also, perhaps, all they mean as rendered in th« 
Vulgate, viz. : — " Oppositions falsi nominis scientiae." 

B 2 


that their investigations are really " full and impartial," as 
they profess they shall be. But some might fairly retort — in 
fact, the objection has been made — that the admitted precon- 
ceptions thus entertained may interfere with the impartiality 
of such investigations. The members of the Victoria Institute 
cannot, of course, dispute the probable truth of that general 
proposition. But they may claim it as an argument equally 
applicable to those who differ with them, and on the other side 
assume that science is always right, and who are therefore 
ready, with the writers of the " Essays and Reviews," or Dr. 
Colenso, or with sceptics generally, to set aside Scripture, or 
force upon it new " interpretations :" — " interpretations/ 1 that 
is, so-called, not of prophecies or " dark sayings," but tho 
" explaining away " of plain language, which requires no in- 
terpretation in order to be understood. 

But at this point the sceptic as to " science " may claim to 
join issue with the sceptic of Scripture, and say that he has good 
reason for his distrust of quasi science, such as the sceptic of 
scriptural truth has nothing to offer. And this brings us to 
the second object of the Victoria Institute. It is — 

" To associate together men of science and authors who have already been 
engaged in such investigations, and all others who may be interested in them, 
in order to strengthen their efforts by association ; and, by bringing together 
the results of such labours, after full discussion, in the printed transactions 
of an institution, to give greater force and influence to proofs and arguments 
which might be regarded as comparatively weak and valueless, or be little 
known, if put forward merely by individuals." 

What we say is this, that what is called " science," and 
boasted of as so " certain " by some, is far from certain, — is 
continually changing and altering, — is disputed and denied and 
controverted, on scientific grounds, by very competent persons ; 
and that if the arguments and disproofs even already put for- 
ward by individuals were brought together and well weighed, 
the public would be astonished to find how much there was to 
be said against the acceptance of what some persons boast of 
as scientific truth. And, it may be admitted, they tacitly 
allege that opinions and facts and arguments which happen to 
be against the predominant opinions of the leading scientific 
men, have scarcely a fair chance of a hearing in the existing 
scientific societies, and, at least, that they lose all influence as 
against theories which happen to have obtained the sanction of 
some man, or men, of high scientific reputation. 

But, to leave generalities, let us glance at a few actual in- 
stances of how " science " so-called, has recently shifted and 
changed ; and how the erroneous theories of the eminent have 


held their ground against the sounder, views of less-reputed 
individuals ; though these views have at last tardily been ad- 
mitted as most probable* by the highest scientific authorities. 
We have, perhaps, two of the best specimens of such changes 
in scientific conclusions in Sir Charles Lyell's Address, as 
President of the British Association for the Advancement of 
Science, at Bath, in 1864; inasmuch as he there gives up, as 
no longer to be regarded as science, the two grand foundation 
1 c facts " (as they previously were regarded) of geological 
science, which were boldly put forth but a few years pre- 
viously, as well-ascertained scientific truths that completely 
upset the scriptural account of the Creation in the first chapter 
of Genesis. I allude to what is called the nebulous theory of 
astronomy, with what was founded upon it, the plutonic theory 
of geology; and to the supposed existence of azoic ages, 
during which it was supposed there was no organic life in this 
world ; a conclusion founded upon what was supposed to be a 
geological "fact/' that the lowest sedimentary strata of the 
earth were totally devoid of all organic remains. 

Now, it was upon the assumption of the truth of the nebular 
theory, and of this proof of the azoic ages of the world, that 
Mr. C. W. Goodwin in " Essays and Reviews" made his dis- 
tinctive attack upon "the Mosaic Cosmogony." He main- 
tained, as against the scriptural account of the creation of the 
heaven and the earth, that " the first clear view which we ob- 
tain [from science] of the early condition of the earth, presents 
to us a ball of matter, fluid with intense heat, spinning on its 
own axis, and revolving round the sun." This is Laplace's 
nebular theory ; only it is put forward by Mr. Goodwin from 
the point when the earth has become "fluid," instead of begin- 
ning at the beginning when it was supposed to be in a gaseous 
state, or Mr. Goodwin may have used the word "fluid" in a 
loose sense, that would comprehend gaseous matter. Here at 
any rate is a fuller statement of the nebular theory as it appears 
in M. Figuier's " Earth before the Deluge," published in Paris 
so recently as 1863. He says : — 

"The theory we are about to develop, and which considers the existing earth 
as an extinguished sun, as a refrigerated star, as a nebula which has passed 
from a gaseous to a solid state, this beautiful conception, which binds together 
in so brilliant a manner geology and astronomy, belongs to the mathematician 
Laplace . . . We have established, in commencing, that the centre of our 
globe is still, in our own day, elevated to 195,000°, a temperature which sur- 
passes all the imagination can conceive. We cannot have any difficulty in 
admitting that, by a heat so excessive, all the materials which now enter into 
the composition of the globe were reduced, at the first, to a gaseous or vaporous 


condition. It is requisite, therefore, to represent our planet in its primitive 
condition as an aggregate of aeriform fluids as a substance entirely gaseous. 
. . . Raised to a temperature of white-heat (rouge-blanc), by the excessive 
heat which affected it, the gaseous mass, which constituted then the earth, 
shone in space as shines the sun at the present time, as shine to our eyes in 
the serenity of the night the fixed stars and the planets. 

Revolving round the sun, according to the law of universal gravitation, this 
burning gaseous mass was necessarily subject to the laws which affect other 
material substances. It became cooler, it gradually ceded a portion of its 
heat to the icy regions of the interplanetary spaces, in the midst of which it 
traced the thread of its blazing orbit. But in the course of this continual 
cooling down, and at the end of a period, of which it would be impossible 
to fix, even approximately, the duration, the primitively gaseous star 
arrived at a liquid condition. .... Mechanics teach us that a liquid body 
kept in a state of rotation takes necessarily the spherical form ; it is thus 
that the earth took the globular or spheroidal form which is proper to it, as to 
the majority of the heavenly bodies. ,, • 

Here it will be observed that the basis of this cosmological 
speculation is the supposed geological " fact/' that it had been 
ascertained that the centre of our earth is elevated even yet to 
the inconceivably enormous temperature of 195,000°. This 
notion or quasi " fact" was again based upon an assumption 
that the increase of the earth's temperature, as we descend, 
proceeds at a certain ratio, inore and more, till we reach the 
centre ; and, further, that the granite rocks were formed by 
means of dry heat of this great intensity and a subsequent 
crystallization by cooling down. 

But let us see how now stand these foundation'' facts " of 
this astronomo-geological science, which was put forward so 
confidently only a few years ago against the Mosaic Cosmogony. 
In Sir Charles Lyell's Bath address, he says : — " The study, of 
late years, of the constituent parts of granite has led to the 
conclusion that their consolidation has taken place at tempera- 
tures far below those formerly supposed to be indispensable." 
€€ Various experiments have led to the conclusion that the 
minerals which enter most largely into the composition of tho 
metamorphic rocks have not been formed by crystallizing from a 
state effusion, or in the dry way, but that they have been derived 

f Figuier, La Terre avant le Ddluge, Paris, 1863 (p. 27). Since this 
was written, I have observed that the publication of an English translation 
from the fourth French edition of this interesting work has been announced 
by Messrs. Chapman & Hall. In this work, geology is described as " pre- 
eminently a French science ! n which may account, perhaps, for no modifi- 
cation of the nebular theory being made in this last edition, notwithstanding 
Sir Charles LyelTs Bath address. 


from liquid solutions, or in the wet way — a process requiring a 
fcur less intense degree of heat" 

Thus vanishes all that had been taught as geological science 
for half a century, at least, as to the original formation of 
granite ! 

Sir Charles Lyell also says, with reference to a co-relative 
part of the same theory, with its inconceivable high tempera- 
ture of 195,000° in the earth's dentre, and its matter thus 
reduced to a gaseous or fluid condition : — " The exact nature 
of the chemical changes which hydrothermal action may effect 
in the earth's interior will long remain obscure to us, because 
the regions where they take place are inaccessible to man ;* 
but the manner in which volcanoes have shifted their position 
throughout a vast series of geological epochs — becoming 
extinct in one region, and breaking out in another — may, 
perhaps, explain the increase of heat as we descend towards the 
interior } without the necessity of our appealing to an original 
central lieat, or the igneous fluidity of the earth's nucleus" 

And so away .goes the foundation " fact" of geology upon 
which was based the nebular theory of the earth's formation 
out of a gyrating globe of gas, consisting of intensely hot 
fused granite ! It is at once amusing and melancholy, now, to 
read over the Words in which this rival and scientific view of 
the cosmos was so confidently put forth by Mr. 0. W. Goodwin 
against the old " Mosaic Cosmogony." I repeat' his words, 
pregnant as they now are with warning, as regards science 
falsely so-called, in its opposition to revealed truth ! — " The 
first clear view which we obtain (says Mr. Goodwin) of the 
early condition of the earth presents to us a ball of matter, 
fluid with intense heat, spinning on its own axis, and revolving 
round the sun !" 

So much for the primary or foundation " facts " of geology, 
which had been taught as " science" in this country ever since 
the publication of Dr.* Buckland's Bridgewater Treatise ; and 
which are yet graphically exhibited, in all the geological charts 
of sections of the crust of the earth, in all our still current 
geological works of science. 

But leaving the earth's centre and its now abandoned 
igneous fluidity, let us come to the oldest strata, heretofore 
taught to have been "Azoic," or formed before any organic 
beings had been created. The ".fact " upon which this geolo- 
gical theory was based, was simply this, that what were 

* This is a very different and much more rational tone than the absurd and 
confident enunciation of a definite temperature of 195,000°, admitted, at the 
same time, to be inconceivable ! 


supposed to be the oldest rocks, were found to be, so far as 
they had been examined in Europe, without any fossil traces of 
organic remains. Geology, in fact, unfortunately undertook 
to prove a negative, and affirmed it had succeeded in a some- 
what positive manner. 

But Sir Charles Lyell tells us, in his Bath address, that "late 
discoveries in Canada have at last demonstrated that certain 
theories founded in Europe on mere negative evidence were 
altogether delusive." 

" It has been shown, he says, that northward of the river St Lawrence, 
there is a vast series of stratified and crystalline rocks of gneiss, mica- 
schist, quartzite, and limestone, about 40,000 feet in thickness, which are more 
ancient than the oldest fossiliferous strata of Europe, to which the term primor- 
dial had been rashly assigned ;" and " in this lowest and most ancient system 
of crystalline strata, a limestone, about 1,000 feet thick, has been observed, 
containing organic remains." He adds, " We have every reason to suppose that 
the rocks in which these animal remains are included are of as old a date as 
any of the formations named Azoic in Europe, if not older, so that they pre- 
ceded in date rocks once supposed to have been formed before any organized being* 
had been created." 

Now, notwithstanding these frank admissions by Sir Charles 
Lyell, which were publicly made by him as President of the 
British Association for the Advancement of Science at Bath, 
in 1864 ; and although Bishop Colenso was present and heard 
that address delivered, the Bishop did not hesitate on the 16th 
of May, 1865, to use the language I have already quoted, in 
which he makes it a boast that he had done his best while in 
his diocese — that is, upwards of three years previously — to 
secure that the simple facts revealed by modern science should 
not be kept back from the heathen with whom his lot had been 
cast in the district of Natal ! Nay, he quotes a recent utter- 
ance of Dr. Temple (I believe while preaching in Whitehall 
Chapel) as agreeing with himself, that these facts are utterly 
irreconcilable with Scripture statements! Can it be that these 
" educators of the world " do not read, or hear, or understand, 
or know what they are saying ? Why, when Bishop Colenso 
taught what he calls " the simple facts revealed by modern 
science," to the Zulus, — or what he more specifically describes 
as " the elementary truths of geological science," which "flatly 
contradict the accounts of the creation and the deluge " in 
Holy Scripture, — he must have taught the nebulous theory, and 
that there were azoic ages of enormous duration before living 
creatures were created, as Mr. Goodwin did in his Essay ! He 
must have then taught as " simple facts " or " elementary 
truths of geological science," what he has himself heard Sir 
Charles describe as theories altogether delusive, and what — if 


he would speak as plainly about science as about the Scriptures 
— he must now know never to have been " facts " at all," but 
" rash deductions/' founded, at best, " upon mere negative 
evidence ;" and he might well be asked, Whether, in his zeal 
for the truths he thinks are €€ revealed by science," he will be 
- as anxious to make the Zulus, on going back to his late diocese, 
acquainted with these now acknowledged blunders in geology 
as he has been to let them know of the alleged blunders 
he thinks may be discovered in the Pentateuch as to the 
creation ?* 

I venture to say that neither Dr. Colenso, nor any sceptical 
geologist on his behalf, can point to a single geological fact, 
or even to any respectable theory entertained and taught in 
any geological work now extant, which any great number of 
geologists would say they accept, that can in the least be con- 
sidered as contradictory to the Mosaic account of the creation. 
There is not a geological text-book at the present time in 
existence that gives any other foundation for the science than 
the igneous theory of the earth's nucleus which Sir Charles Lyell 
considers "may now be dispensed with,"— a very gentle 
euphemism for a frank admission that the theory has no 
foundation at all to which it can appeal in the facts of 
geology, since the constitution of granite has been better 
understood. That we may have another theory, and another 
which may, like the last, contradict Scripture, is very possible, 
perhaps only too probable ; but what I say is, there is no such 
theory yet invented. The theories that did contradict the 
Scriptures, as regards the original formation of the earth and 
its azoic rocks and ages, are pronounced ex cathedra scientite, 
to be " altogether delusive." That is the present state of the 
case. As regards the Creation, that is the only revelation 
of science which Dr. Colenso can honestly teach at present to 
his t€ Zulu philosopher ! " 

But no doubt Dr. Colenso might jet retort, in modern style, 
"What about the Deluge?" He might still appeal to the 
" volcanic cones of loose ashes in the valleys of Auvergne," 
and maintain that Sir Charles Lyell has not given up his 
former scientific teaching about these. He may still with 
Sir Charles believe that they " must have been formed 
ages before the Noachian deluge," and that had the deluge 
been universal, the light and loose substances that cover these 
cones u must have been -swept away." 

My object not being to refute the geological views of Sir 
Charles Lyell or Bishop Colenso, I may content myself with 

* See Postscript, pp. 32, et seq. 



observing, as regards this point, that I have no roason for sup- 
posing that Sir Charles Lyell has as yet changed his opinions, 
and that till he does so, Dr. Colenso will probably be content to 
believe as he does. It is no part of my object to endeavour 
to prove that there are now no scientific views opposed to the 
Scriptures. Were that the case — had every gua#t-fact and 
every " scientific " theory already shared the fate of the 
azoic ages and the " original igneous fluidity of the earth's 
nucleus/' why then, of course, the Victoria Institute had been 
founded late in the day ! It would have had really no occupa- 
tion. I for one would never have thought of its establishment. 
But at the same time, I may be permitted to observe, that 
surely these confident appeals made by Bishop Colenso and 
Dr. Temple to €€ simple facts revealed by modern science " 
that contradict the statements of Holy Scripture, are put for- 
ward with an unwise effrontery so soon after such large con- 
fessions by our most eminent, geologist (from whom they take 
their science second-hand), of science contradicting itself, and 
of the utterly delusive character of its former ts revelations " 
respecting the very foundation u facts " of geology. Surely 
when the scientific have been all out as regards the Creation of 
the world, — after all the bold sneers in' " Essays and Reviews " 
as to the blunders of "the Hebrew Descartes/' — a little modesty 
and somewhat less confidence might well become our once 
" deluded " teachers, when they come to speak now of the 
Deluge. There are, doubtless, men of science an<^ authors, 
who have already been engaged in investigating this question 
of the evidence of the universality of the deluge from a 
scientific point of view ; and who have arrived at other con- 
clusions than those of Sir Charles Lyell.* Some of them are 
already members of the Victoria Institute ; and it is one of 
the professed objects of that Society to bring such men 
together, to give them a fair hearing, to discuss their arguments, 
and further to investigate what may be regarded as the facts 
under discussion, and thus to get at truth. In Sir Charles 
Ly ell's "Antiquity of Man " he informs us, that for the greater 
part of his scientific lifetime, he had resisted evidences he now 

* I may here draw attention to an able pamphlet by Mr. S. R. Pattison, 
F.G.S., The Antiquity of Man: An Examination of Sir (7. LyelVs recent 
work (Lond. : Lovell Reeve, 1863), and to the well-reasoned and larger work, 
Remarks on the Antiquity and Nature of Man, by the Rev. James Brodie, 
A.M. (Lond. : Hamilton,. Adams & Co., 1864). In the latter work, Sir. C. 
LyelTs arguments, adopted by Bishop Colenso, against the Mosaic account 
of the Deluge, are fairly met ; % but my present object is not to bring forward 
anything that has not been acknowledged by the recognized " authorities " 
in science. 


admits of man's contemporaneous existence with certain long 
extinct animals. Those who are interested in the statements 
of the Bible, may well be anxious that no similar overwhelming 
influence may be successfully brought to bear against any 
evidences there may be in nature of the universality of the 

I therefore revert to the nebular theory, to show that there 
were not wanting men — and men, as it turns out, better 
entitled to the name of " men of science," than others more 
eminent in reputation — who contended strongly against that 
theory, but whose arguments were disregarded, or not allowed 
even a hearing before some of our existing scientific societies, 
which thus acted as hindrances instead of as helps to the 
advancement of science. 

In 1844, when the British Association for the Advancement 
of Science met at York, the late Dean of York, Dr. Cockburn, 
a practical geologist, made a straightforward attack upon 
the nebular theory, "laid down by Dr. Buckland, in his 
Bridgewater Treatise, as to the original formation of the earth," 
upon this very sufficient ground, namely, t€ because that theory 
will not account for the many facts made known to us by geolo- 
gists ;" and he put forward another theory in some detail, 
which he maintained did account for these facts, and of which 
he challenged criticism. He concluded his remarks in these 
words : — 

" You will, of course, perceive that my theory accords perfectly with the 
account given by Moses. I do not, however, press it upon you in conr 
sequence of that accordance, but because I contend that every modern dis- 
covery may be accounted for by this theory, and cannot be accounted for by 
the theory of Dr. Buckland." * 

Professor Sedgwick, who was President of the Geological 
Section that year, replied to Dr. Cockburn, but as he " con- 
fined himself almost exclusively to remarks upon the Dean's 
supposed ignorance," the learned Dean printed his speech, and 
requested the Professor to answer it in print ; observing that 
" it appeared to him, and to many wiser men, that the theories, 
of the Geological Society were incompatible with Christianity/' 
. although Professor Sedgwick had said that " these theories, 
if rightly understood, wpuld confirm the truths of revelation." 
For, if so, added the Dean, my answer is, " these theories 
are not rightly understood by me and by thousands of others." 
• That Dean Cockburn formed the truer estimate of the cha- 
racter of the nebular theory, when he described it ,as con- 

* The Bible Defended against the British Association. Fourth Edition 
(p. 16). 


tradictory to the Mosaic Costnogony, has since been abundantly 
proved. Yet many persons at one time professed to agree with 
Professor Sedgwick, and freely €s interpreted " the Scriptures to 
make out a kind of agreement between them and the then cur- 
rent geological theories. But the thing did not last. After the 
publication of " The Vestiges of Creation," any such pretence of 
agreement was really absurd ; and Mr. Goodwin's Essay and 
lastly Dr. Colenso's writings have since cleared this quite 

Dean Cockburn asked for a second discussion, as he got 
no answer from Professor Sedgwick. Professor Ansted 
replied, that he was directed by the Committee of the section 
to say, " that, as there is no precedent for re-opening the dis- 
cussions of the section, they consider it would not be proper 
for them to comply with the request." What an answer for 
an " Association for the Advancement of Science " to give. No 
precedent, and therefore tf not proper ! " " No precedent," in 
1844, given as a reason by an Association then only in its 
14th year ! Well might the learned Dean be excused for 
observing : " Whether this refusal arose from a lofty or an 
humble opinion of their cause, it left the question of their Chris- 
tianity where it was." He also asked that the Geological 
Society should "put forth ex cathedra a printed statement oi 
their opinions respecting the Creation ; " and at last Professor 
Sedgwick sent him a reply. In it, the Professor however " de- 
clined to support the nebulous theory ! " He said, " that it was 
first put forth by astronomers and adopted by the geologists, as 
a matter of indifference to them whether true or false." Surely 
nothing could be very much stranger than such an account 
of the acceptance of any scientific hypothesis whatever. 
" Adopted by geologists, as a matter of indifference to them 
whether true or false ! " But nevertheless adopted j and, as 
already said, to this day exhibited as a foundation of " the 
geology of the earth " in every current text-book of geological • 

Further correspondence took place between the Professor 
and the Dean. But the former would not consent that his 
letters should be published. Of the last of these the learned 
Dean writes : " I wish you would allow me to publish it. It 
has no appearance of hasty composition, but is evidently the 
work of an able writer perfectly conversant with his subject. 
It would, I doubt not, give complete satisfaction to the 
members of the Geological Society. But, unfortunately, there 
are thousands who think with me, that that society have had 
too much respect for the argumentum ad verecundiam, and 
have never allowed their own unbiassed judgment to investi- 


gate theories introduced by former great names." The Dean 
afterwards addressed the President of the Geological Society, 
sending copies of his letters to Professor Sedgwick. He wrote 
as follows : — 

" The members of the British Association have always been accustomed to 
act in strict unison. They discountenance all difference of opinion, and seem 
bound jurare in verba magistri. Professor Sedgwick could not, therefore, 
with propriety appear publicly in opposition to the nebulous theory ; and at 
the same time considerations for his own character would not allow him to 
stand up in support of what he knew to be an absurdity." 

The Dean, after challenging objections to his own theory 
and arguments, agreeing with the Mosaic Cosmogony, goes 
on: — 

"You say that there are geological facts which prove the long existence of the 
world through many ages. I say there are no suck fads. Here we are completely 
and plainly at issue. Produce, then, some one or more of these facts ; and if I 
cannot fairly account for them without supposing the very long duration of 
. the earth, I am beaten ! I am silenced ! But if you do not produce such 
facts, and retreatj like Professor Sedgwick, from the challenge) confess, or let 
your silence confess, that the whole doctrine of a pre-Adamite world has been 
a mistake, too hastily adopted by men of talent and learning, and too apt, 
like all other persons, to draw general conclusions from a few particular facts." 

In a subsequent passage, which need not be quoted, the Dean 
refers to the Geological Society as a " valuable body," adding, 
in a foot note, " Most valuable, as having furnished us with un- . 
expected and unanswerable proofs of the waters having once 
covered the existing earth." So that it would appear, that at 
that time, the ' ' orthodox " geologists taught that the facts of 
geology proved the universality of the deluge, which Bishop 
Colenso, on May 16th, 1865, — drawing his inspiration, no 
doubt, from what he now regards as geological science — de- 
clared to be " an impossibility " in such absolute terms, as 
even to draw forth a disclaimer from the president of the 
Anthropological Society of London. 

But it may be said that the nebular theory has now been 
given up by Sir Charles Lyell, not on account of arguments 
such as those adduced by Dean Cockburn, but because it has 
been found, from the constitution of granite, that its formation 
must have proceeded from a watery crystallization, and not 
from the fiery, dry heat, which the nebulous theory ignorantly 
ascribed to it. That is very true. Even in the absence of 
a knowledge of the constitution of granite, and for various 
other and more obvious reasons, Dean Cockburn was enabled 
to declare "the nebulous theory is really nonsense." But 
if, nevertheless, it was really believed in, merely or chiefly 


because of a blunder as to the formation of granite, surely, 
then, earlier attention ought to have been paid to the matter 
of which granite is composed, before " adopting " such a 
physical theory as the very basis of the geology of the earth. 

But even this plea will not serve as a justification for such an 
inveterate adherence to this now abandoned theory. Even be- 
fore the Dean of York attacked it, namely, in 1843, a fellow 
of the Geological Society, Mr. Evan Hopkins — also now a 
member of the Victoria Institute — put forth a theory of the 
earth adyerse to the nebular and plutonic hypotheses ; and one 
of the main ' ' facts " to which he appealed was, that granite 
was a water formation, or a true crystallization, and could 
never have been formed by dry heat as the nebular theory re- 
quired. But his voice was not regarded, and not his facts, as 
against the great name and gratuitous assertions of Laplace, 
unfortunately accepted by Dr. Buckland. In giving up the 
theory, Sir Charles Lyell does not even notice him, although 
two years before the then President of the Geological Society, 
Professor Ramsay, had distinctly done so. At that time, also, 
I may observe, i.e. in 1862, Professor Eamsay said " that he 
believed that the science of geology was on the eve of a great 
revolution " — the " science " that Bishop Colenso but a short 
time before had been preaching to his Zulus as the certain 
" revelations " of truth ! anc^ to which, even since then, he 
dares once more to appeal as unquestionable truth, and as 
upsetting the statements of Scripture I 

But if any doubt whether all that Dean Cockburn said, under 
somewhat provoking circumstances, was quite deserved, as to 
the disposition of the Geological Society to yield too much to 
the argumentum ad verecundiam, or as to the unwillingness of the 
British Association to listen to contradictions to theories put 
forward by great names ; I can cite another witness, a Professor 
at Cambridge, with reference even to a mathematical discovery 
of his own, which will place in a still stronger light the fact 
that, in his opinion, the present organizations among the 
scientific rather serve to retard the advancement of science, 
and to foster the maintenance of established dogmas in science 
than to admit new truths; while, at the same time, we know 
that all that may appear opposed to Scripture may be very freely 
put forward in scientific societies, and by some men even in 
thet pulpit! Professor Challis thus expresses himself: — "I 
know enough of the history of physical science to be aware 
that an advance of this kind in an abstruse department of 
science can be expected to make its way only by slow de- 
grees." This was said but a few years ago, and notwithstand- 
ing the existence of the British Association ! 


But not to multiply instances of this kind in further detail ; 
it is surely a fair argument, for those who are anxious not to see 
science put unfairly or unwarrantably forward as at issue with 
Holy Scripture, to say that, after all this recent experience of 
theories rashly adopted and authoritatively upheld, while facts 
and arguments, adduced by numerous assailants, have been 
disregarded, refused a hearing, and despised, — they are anxious 
to see a freer discussion of scientific dogmas in a new arena, 
and especially anxious to invite an immediate and rigid inves- 
tigation and discussion of such scientific fects and. theories 
that are yet said to be adverse to scriptural statements, which, 
they regard to be the revealed truth of God. 

What they may well say is this : that just as Dean 
Cockburn and others opposed the nebular theory twenty 
years ago, but were not heard; so that now "other Com- 
petent persons dispute other quasi " facts " in geology and 
other theories in science which now pass for true ; and they 
are anxious to give these investigators a hearing, which they 
cannot expect to secure in existing scientific societies. They 
say that this must be for the real interest, and that it will tend 
to the real advancement, of true science; and that it has 
become a necessity in the interest of revealed truth, which it is 
so important should not be allowed to remain liable to be ever 
rashly impugned by crude theories in the name of science, with- 
out any independent organization of a scientific kind composed 
of men able and willing to watch, as it were, over the outworks 
of religion in this respect. 

Let us revert, moreover, to the remark of Professor Sedgwick, 
that the nebular theory was adopted by the geologists from 
the astronomers, while indifferent whether it was true or false J 
And only consider what must be the effect, of thus carelessly 
adopting a hypothesis in science, without raising the question 
whether it is probably true or utterly absurd, and then going 
on for years, collating and arranging in the mind all newly 
discovered facts, with sole reference to such a groundlessly 
assumed hypothesis.. In what other way could a mere unrea- 
soning prejudice be better instilled and made to grow inveterate 
in the human mind ? Adopted thus at first, as we are told, 
with indifference, in time the nebular theory became, what 
Mr. Goodwin called " the first clear conception " of the origin 
of the world ; and even now, when the intensely scarlet tint 
of the earth's imagined central fire and of the welling up 
molten granite must be obliterated in all the future graphic 
representations of the earth's sections, the cosmographists, so 
long accustomed to this false basis, will indeed be puzzled what 



else to substitute in its room ! We really have no " science 
of the world's origin at present ! 

Consider, too, how much valuable time has been lost for 
science, and how much talent has been wasted, while this 
untenable theory has thus been blindly entertained; and while 
men have generally thus been discouraged and even debarred 
from seeking after a true interpretation of the numerous and 
most important newly discovered facts made known by goo- 
logical research. ' * * 

But we must be content with these few brief instances of 
how the progress of true science has been hampered and 
retarded, through the mischievous influence of imperative 
theories and the authority of great names, to attend to some 
still more important considerations, which I apprehend in 
themselves alone constitute a sufficient ground for the esta- 
blishment of the Victoria Institute ; and which will further 
and at the same time account, in great measure, for inductive 
sciencQ having already acquired some of the worst vices of the 
false system of philosophising, which it was Bacon's great 
object to root out for ever from scientific inquiry. 

While we have been obliged to appeal to the fact, that there 
is an openly alleged opposition in our day between the so-called 
discoveries of modern science and the statements of Scripture, 
especially as to the creation and deluge, I think we may also 
find evidence, that this is not solely if at all to be accounted 
for, by any desire on the part of scientific men generally, at 
least in this country, to establish any such opposition, or any 
disposition to pervert scientific research, so as to make it 
antagonistic to religion. If Halley was infidel in his opinions, 
still we know that Newton was devout. If Laplace was 
atheistic in his views, and applying Sir W. Herschel's specula- 
tions as to the nebulas to the first formation of this world, was 
thus furnished with an hypothesis which enabled him, as he 
supposed, "to dispense with God throughout. ; " — still we must 
remember that that hypothesis was first put forth in England, 
as an interpretation of geological appearances, in one of the 
Bridgewater Treatises, by Dr. Buckland, some thirty years ago, 
intentionally to exhibit God's power in His works of creation. 
Professor Sedgwick, also, no doubt expressed an opinion 
entertained by many other men of science besides himself, 
when he declared that the theories now admitted to 
be " altogether delusive " by Sir Charles Lyell, — but which 
some may then have believed to be true theories founded upon 
sufficient facts ascertained by geological science, — were confir- 
matory of revelation. It is very true that in sayiug this, it was 
with the understanding that considerable modification might 


fairly be made as to the meaning usually gathered from the 
scriptural statements. But what I wish to point out is, that 
while many infidels and atheists have from time to time made 
a handle of scientific theories to cast discredit upon revelation, 
there have also been many earnest men of science who have 
adopted the same scientific theories, but have not considered 
them incompatible with the revelations of Scripture. Very 
numerous attempts were made by Hugh Miller and other 
eminent writers, to reconcile the Scriptural statements with 
every fresh scientific discovery or supposed discovery in 

But, unfortunately, in all these efforts, "the science" of the 
day was always apparently adopted with too much readiness, 
as if it required no probable essential correction, while Scrip- 
ture alone was constantly tampered with, in order to get it to 
mean something different from what its plain language had 
previously seemed to imply/ " Science/' it may be said, was 
allowed to pass uncriticised ; while Scripture was ever being 
subjected to fresh and far-fetched interpretations. But this 
could not, of course, go on. Professor Baden Powell, in 
Kitto's Cyclopaedia, in his article on " Creation," rejected the 
1st chapter of Genesis as "not being history;" and Mr. C. W. 
Goodwin ridiculed all such " attempts to reconcile the Scrip- 
tures with science " as " failures ;" and he, not without some 
good reason, pointed to " the trenchant way in which these 
theological geologists overthrow one another's theories." The 
mischief, however, it will thus be seen, had been done. Science 
had been taken on trust, the Scriptures had been sceptically 
handled ; all, it may be, with the best intention on the part of 
many, but not the less with fatal results— results not less fatal 
to true science than to religious faith. And we have to account 
for these results. The scientific, no less than the religious, 
are interested in the inquiry. For what do we now find is the 
case ? We find that it is science that ought to have been more 
narrowly watched and criticised; and that it would really have 
been to the credit of scientific men if they had applied to 
" science." somewhat of that vigilance to detect its possible 
errors, its contradictions, and fallacies, which has been freely 
enough and too exclusively exercised in our day upon the 
statements of the Scriptures, by those who have accepted 
without the least examination and with an almost absolute cre- 
dulity, often at 'second hand, all that has been passing for 
science upon the authority of a few names of great scientific 
repute. Now, I venture to say, the explanation is not far to 
seek why science has thus "drifted" into contradictions and 
delusive theories and fallacies, which have become a scandal 



and discredit to science on its own account, — leaving the ques- 
tion of revelation altogether out of consideration. 

I have alluded to Halley, Laplace, and other atheists, infidels 
or unbelievers, who, as individuals, have no doubt been glad 
to find what they considered to be scientific contradictions of 
God's Revealed Word. But that is not all. Not merely have 
some pursued science in that spirit; but others have been 
found who have boldly put forth the opinion that the inductive 
philosophy of Bacon is necessarily atheistic in its principle and 
foundation; and they have even claimed Bacon himself as an 
atheist, and accused him of being a mere hypocrite in his reli- 
gious professions ! Not only have the atheists themselves put 
this forth as a boast, but the same accusations have been 
strangely re-echoed by others in their over zeal for faith and 
religion ! Thus has Bacon been libelled and his philosophy 
misrepresented, by ungrateful and unfaithful followers on the 
one hand, and by the avowed enemies of all scientific inves- 
tigation on the other. 

But the real truth is, that science has become, in our day, 
materialistic and wildly speculative, entirely through a disre- 
gard of Lord Bacon's principles, and in spite of his actual 
warnings. Moreover, certain branches only of human know- 
ledge have been cultivated by too many professed followers of 
Bacon, and the higher and connecting links of general philo- 
sophy have been too much neglected. " Hitherto (he says) 
the industry of man has been great and curious in noting the 
variety of things, and in explaining the accurate differences 
of animals, vegetables, and minerals, many of which are 
rather the sport of nature than of any real utility to science. 
Things of this sort are amusing, and, sometimes, not without 
practical use, but they contribute little or nothing towards the 
investigation of nature." (Nov. Org., ii., 27.) And elsewhere : 
" By means of these we have a minute knowledge of things, 
but scanty and often unprofitable information with respect to 
science. Yet these are the things of which common natural 
history makes a boast." (Descrip. Globi Intellect., c. iii.) — In 
reading these passages, one almost might imagine he had been 
describing by anticipation the so-called natural science of the 
present day. True, we have speculations enough, and theories 
in addition, but they are rash and ill-considered, because the 
sciences have been too much separated, and the great majority 
have devoted their minds to the details of some narrow 
speciality. But what says Bacon ? — 

"Let no one expect great progress in the sciences (especially their operative 
part) unless natural philosophy be applied to particular sciences, and they 



again be referred back to natural philosophy. Hence it arises that astronomy, 
optics, music, many mechanical arts, medicine itself, and what seems more 
wonderful, moral and political philosophy, have no depth, but only glide over 
the surface and variety of things ; because (mark this reason) these sciences, 
having once been partitioned out and, established, are no longer nourished by 
natural philosophy. Then there is little cause for wonder that the sciences 
do not grow, when they are separated from their roots." (Nov. Org., L, 80.) 

Again :— 

"Generally let this be a rule, that all partitions of knowledges [sciences] be 
accepted rather for lines and veins, than for sections and separations ; and 
that the continuity and entireness of knowledge be preserved. For the con- 
trary hereof hoik made particular sciences to become barren, shallow, and 
erroneous, while they have not been nourished or maintained from the common 
fountain." — (Adv. of Learn., B. ii.) 

It is very true that Bacon deprecated, as a ''philoso- 
phical calamity," the excursions of final causes into the 
limits of physical causes. But he did not, therefore, as 
some have rashly concluded, banish final causes from his 
scheme of true philosophy altogether. On the contrary, 
he contemplates the sciences, generally, as all comprehended 
in one pyramid of the Truth of things or Philosophy 
proper, founded, indeed, upon the basis of a knowledge of the 
varied facts of nature, but having an apex in the intelligence 
of Deity. Far from participating, in the least, in any atheistic 
notions, he thus expresses himself: — "It is easier to bejieve 
the most absurd fables of the Koran, the Talmud, and the 
Legends, than to believe that the world was made without 
understanding. Hence, God has wrought no miracles for the 
refutation of Atheism, because, to this end, His regular works 
in nature are sufficient." (Ess. on Atheism.) And thus it 
was, also, that he regarded " Natural Philosophy as properly 
the Handmaid of Religion/' and not, as some regard it in our 
day, as its antagonist. 

. But nothing could be less Baconian than to endeavour to 
establish any philosophical position by an appeal to any 
authority, even though it were an appeal to his own great 
name. In thus vindicating his memory from misrepresentation, 
I have had no wish to employ the cvrgumentum ad verevmctiam. 
On the Contrary, I would appeal to Bacon, mainly because he 
taught us to cast off all mere authority in science, and to trust 
to the mind itself, with all the independent aids to reason with 
which we are amply furnished by nature. Let me cite, how- 
ever, one other witness as to the present unsatisfactory condi- 
tion of science, attributable to its over-subdivision into 
branches, and the undue influence of scientific coteries in the 

c 2 


present day; too much like what it was when unreformed in 
Bacon's own time. I cite from the " Introduction to Anthro- 
pology," by the late Dr. Theodore Waitz, Professor of Philo- 
sophy in Marburg University : — 

" In Germany (writes the learned Professor) it is at present a common case 
that in the fields of the various sciences, and even within the limits of a single 
science, opposite theories grow up, without their respective propounders taking 
any notice of one another's views, or making any attempt to reconcile their 
contradictory dogmas. The strength of party comes in place of strength 
of reasoning ; and the labour of giving scientific proofs seems superfluous, 
where deference is merely yielded to the authority of those who, agreeing in 
some general principles, appear to support one another with the instinctive 
interest of an esprit de corps. With the same kind of tact, all that has grown 
upon a foreign stock is silently passed over or eliminated, while only what 
seems homogeneous is assimilated. Thus scientific life moves in individual 
narrow spheres, and the more comprehensive and fundamental principles are 
no longer discussed." 

It is in order to provide a remedy for this state of things 
that the founders of the Victoria Institute agreed that its third 
object shall be :— 

" To consider the mutual bearings of the various scientific conclusions 
arrived at in the several distinct branches into which Science is now divided,, 
in order to get rid of contradictions and conflicting hypotheses, and thus pro- 
mote the real advancement of true Science ; and to examine and discuss all 
supposed scientific results with reference to final causes and the more com- 
prehensive and fundamental principles of Philosophy proper, based upon 
faith in the existence of one Eternal God, who, in His wisdom, created all 
things very good." 

This object is surely one, at least, which requires no 
apology as yet in England. It assumes, no doubt, a funda- 
mental principle — the existence of the all- wise God. It there- 
fore precludes the advocacy of atheistic theories in the 
Society. It need scarcely be said it does so, simply because 
its members and associates, as indeed the great mass 
of the scientific and unscientific, of the literate and illi- 
terate alike, in this country, have no manner of doubt 
whatever of the truth so assumed. And this being the 
case, it is in fact to be only straightforwardly honest, to say 
that that constitutes a major proposition, which must neces- 
sarily override and ipso facto overthrow all opposite and con- 
flicting hypotheses. To teach that truth and to establish it, 
pertains to the ministers of religion, and, therefore, it is ex- 
cluded, as a question to be investigated, from the objects of the 
Victoria Institute. So are all purely religious or theological 
propositions. Science, in all its branches and ramifications, is 


what the Society will be properly occupied with. And, con- 
vinced that no real science will be found to be contradictory to 
the revealed Truth of God as set forth in the Holy Scriptures, 
all questions of science about which there may be doubts in 
this respect, or which some may have alleged to be thus at 
issue with the Bible, will especially claim the attention of the 
members. One great means of carrying out this object and 
pursuing such investigations, will be the co-relating, when that 
is possible, the conclusions arrived at in one branch of science 
with those arrived at in another; so also discovering their dis- 
cordance, when the supposed scientific conclusions are at 

It would be easy to give instances in detail of such con- 
flicting theories and conclusions put forward in the present 
day. It is almost unnecessary. Everybody must see and 
admit that contradictory theories cannot both be true ; both 
cannot be regarded as science. Nay, it must further be mani- 
fest, that our " science " of the Cosmos, must be discredited and 
not believed in as " science " at all, even among the reputedly 
scientific, if they themselves are looking out for still further 
explanations, or are entertaining, putting forward or quietly 
listening to, ever new theories in existing scientific societies. 

I may with propriety give one single instance of this kind 
of thing, respecting what has long been regarded as the highest 
science in this country, and indeed in Christendom, for upwards 
of a hundred years at least. I allude to the Copernican 
Astronomy as modified by Kepler, and interpreted by Sir 
Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation. I leave out 
of consideration a subsequent modification of the system 
arising from the first Herschel's notion of Solar Motion 
in Space, which after being received by Astronomers as 
" science," confirmed by all their caJculatiQns since 1 783, was 
recently assailed as untenable, and shortly afterwards admitted 
by the Astronomer Eoyal to be now in " doubt and abeyance ! " 
I leave this out, therefore, of consideration — though it too is a 
notable instance of what was long regarded as a " scientific 
fact " turning out to be a " mere delusion/' — and wish to speak 
only of conclusions supposed to be established by mathematical 
proof in Newton's " Principia." Not only are all Newton's 
demonstrations based upon the assumption that the heavenly 
bodies are moving in what is called " free space," or " spaces 
void of resistance ; " but this was the notorious difference in 
the Cosmos, between the rival theories of Newton and Des- 
cartes. When Voltaire came to visit Newton in England, he 
wrote to a friend, that "he had left the world fall at Paris- 
deferring to the "plenum" of Descartes and Aristotle) but 


" found it was empty in London ! " And yet bur own Astro- 
nomer Royal made the announcement at the first meeting of 
the British Association, in 1831, "that the existence of 
a resisting medium has once more been established in this 
century by Encke." {Rep. on Astr., in he.) No indi- 
vidual astronomer I believe, nor any existing 1 scientific 
society, has made it its business to see what effect wis restora- 
tion of "the plenum" must have upon all Newton's and 
Laplace's demonstrations in the " Principia" and " M^canique 
is taken for granted. Not only so ; but recent theories, put for- 
ward by Professor Thomson before the Royal Society of Edin- 
burgh and elsewhere, and also by others in England, assuming 
an intense heat in the sun, are utterly irreconcilable with the 
Newtonian hypothesis that, as the centre of the solar system, 
it must have a mass 350,000 times greater than the earth, 
while about 1,400,000 times greater in bulk.* If as hot as has 
been recently speculated, as its bulk remains the same (namely, 
about 850,000 miles in diameter), then its mass will not be 
1,000 times greater than that of the earth ; and, on Newtonian 
principles, this would render its being the centre of the 
solar system impossible. Any child can understand, that 
if the calculation which required the sun's mass to be 
350,000 times greater than that of the earth, was science, 
it cannot \>e also "science" that its mass should be so 
reduced that it can only be about 1,000 times greater. Nor 
is this all. These speculations, as to the sun's intense heat, 
have required the co-relative theory of some means of sup- 
plying the immense wadte.of matter by heat and radiation. 
So, it has further been speculated that this was accom- 
plished by meteoric matter which was supposed to be falling 
constantly into the sun to supply it with fuel. This theory 
was noticed approvingly by the President of the British Asso- 
ciation in 1863, and the fullest account of it is to be found 
in two papers by Mr. E. W. Brayley, F.R.S., in the " Com- 
panion to the British Almanack." But scarcely had this theory 
been completed, as it were, in detail, and recognized as " a 
reasonable supposition" by the President of the British Asso- 
ciation, than all of a sudden Mr. Brayley, who formerly ap- 
peared to be one of its staunohest advocates, put forward, in the 
Royal Society, another theory as diametrically opposed to it as 

* Vide Letter of "Nauticas," in the Agronomical Register for February, 
1866, p. 49. (London : Adams & Francis, Fleet Street.) Also, Essay on 
" The Scriptures and Science," in Freeh Springe of Truth. (London : Griffin 


any two cosmical theories could possibly be. He suggested a 
totally different theory, in which the sun is not only the centre 
of the solar system, but the source whence all the planets were 
drawn ! Instead of the sun being fed with meteors to keep it 
from burning out, Mr. Brayley's theory makes the sun, in 
rotating rapidly on its axis, throw off meteoric bodies ; and 
thus he argues the earth and other planets were most probably 
created ! I have no intention of going further into this specu- 
lation here. I mention the fact of its having been brought 
forward, and that in the Royal Society, in the presence of Pro- 
fessor Tyndall, and of Newton's successor in the Lucasian 
chair, without a word being uttered against it. This forces us, 
I say, naturally, to ask this question, What is now our know- 
ledge, our " science," of the sun or Cosmos ? Mr. Brayley's 
views, of course, are entirely opposed to every part of the 
€ ' Principia " and all that was dreamt of in Newton's philosophy. 
Professor Thomson's theory destroyed the possibility of the 
sun being the theoretical centre of the solar system, if universal 
gravitation had anything like a plausible foundation. But 
apart from that argument, which some people may not trust 
themselves to admit, any boy can see that Professor Thomson's 
and Mr. Brayley's theories are flat contradictions of one 
another, even as speculations ; and then we are bound to ask, 
Upon what extraordinary data of facts or principles can such 
conflicting theories be bLed ? 

That existing societies do not trouble themselves to compare 
and contrast, and so to reject as unscientific such contradictory 
hypotheses, or one or other of them, is simply true. The 
transactions of the Royal Society — and no other need be 
named — bear witness to the truth of this averment. And 
that to do so — as proposed in the third object of the Victoria 
Institute — would tend to the advantage and real advancement 
of true science, I think will scarcely be disputed. The 
Science of Sciences, in fact, is the proper co-relation of all the 
various sciences into one grand and consistent Philosophy, 
which will be the interpretation of the nature of things as or- 
dained by the one true God; and it does not require to be 
argued that each science should at least be consistent with 
itself. True lovers of Science, and all lovers of Truth, must 
surely unite in one desire to harmonize the conflicting elements 
of human speculations ; and the members of the Victoria Insti- 
tute may reasonably hope, that when this is done it will be 
found, that the highest human wisdom will be in accordance 
with the Wisdom of the One God, Who has created all things 
very good. 



CIKCULAK, MAY 24, 1865. 


London, 24ih May, 1865. 

It is proposed to found a new Philosophical Society for Great Britain, to 
be composed of Members or Fellows and Associates who are professedly 
Christians, and the great object of which will be to defend revealed truth 
from " the oppositions of science, falsely so called." 

In the words of a recent author, " those who believe the Christian religion 
to be true and to rest upon rational grounds, and who consider that the only 
proper mode of propagating the truth is by proving it to be true, and of 
opposing error by disproving it, cannot help the burden this places upon 
them." — " We are suffering from the consequences of a culpable stagnation of 
thought, or from having failed to investigate fully and fairly, but rigidly, all 
the facts and arguments from time to time put forth as truths newly dis- 
covered by science and as being contradictory to the Scriptures. ,, 

It is in order that this may now be done thoroughly, that the institution of 
a new Society for this express purpose is proposed. It will be of great 
advantage to real Science, and has become a necessity for the Christian 

It will therefore be the duty of this Society to enter upon controversies of 
the day, and to give a hearing and encouragement to all who are willing to 
battle with the " oppositions of science," in order to reduce its pretensions to 
their real value. 

There is no existing scientific body that fulfils these ends. At the present 
time, the only thing almost that is considered a fair subject for question and 
free opposition from every quarter, in all such societies, is Revealed Truth. 
There is by no means an equal freedom allowed in questioning what is 
called " Established Science." 

At the Anthropological Society of London, on May 16th, Bishop Colenso 
spoke of " the facts of Geology " as disproving the Scriptures ; as if he had 
really not been aware, that at the last meeting of the British Association for 
the Advancement of Science (at which he was present), all these lately 
assumed foundation " facts " of Geology were publicly given up as untenable 
and disproved by Sir Charles Lyell in his Address, which Bishop Colenso 
actually heard delivered. Along with this now abandoned Geology, all the 
cosmologies! notions which Mr. C. W. Goodwin, in " Essays and Reviews," 
boasted of as being " certainly established science," contrary to " the Mosaic 
Cosmogony," have vanished like a dream. 

It will be the business of the new Philosophical Institution to recognize 
no human science as " established," but to examine philosophically and freely, 
all that has passed as science, or is put forward as science, by individuals or 


in other societies ; whilst its members, having accepted Christianity as the 
, revealed truth of God, will defend that truth against all mere human theories 
by subjecting them to the most rigid tests and criticisms. In fact, the ' 
Society will be organized for the purpose of applying to " science " somewhat • 
of that vigilance to detect its errors, contradictions, and fallacies which has / 
been freely enough exercised in our day upon the statements of the Scriptures / 
and of Christian doctrine, by those who accept, without the least examination ( 
and with an almost absolute credulity, all that passes for science. 

Such a Society will doubtless succeed. Its head-quarters will be in 
London, but it will soon boast of corresponding branches throughout the 
whole country. Similar societies will be established on the Continent and 
throughout the world, thus affording facilities for individual and combined 
co-operation, and also for reproducing each other's most important publi- 

The battle between the Scriptures and Science will then be fairly fought, 
— not any longer with all the organization on one side. Truth is great, and 
it will prevail ! Papers will be read before the Society, discussing the most 
important questions of philosophy and science, without limit as to the 
subjects, except that those will be especially considered and have a preference 
that appear to touch adversely the bases of the Christian faith. Free dis- 
cussion will be allowed. The discussions will be reported verbatim, and 
published in the Society's journal, probably in combination with a new 
review, to be called The Christian -Philosophy Beview, in which a fair 
account will be given of all important new publications, especially those 
bearing upon general philosophy, morals, and religion. A Library and 
Reading-room will also hereafter be established in connection with the 

It is proposed 1 that the Society shall be incorporated, and hereafter obtain 
a Royal Charter ; that Her Majesty shall be requested to become its first 
Patron, and that it be called The Victoria Institute, to commemorate its 
inauguration in her most gracious Majesty's reign. That it shall confer a 
medal annually upon some writer who has distinguished himself in refuting 
false philosophy, or exposing the fallacies of so-called science — this medal to 
be called, with her Majesty's permission, the Victoria Medal. Also that the 
Prince of Wales be requested to become its first Vice-Patron and Honorary 

*** Be good enough to circulate this paper among your friends who are 
likely to take an interest in what is proposed. What nooler pursuit can man 
engage in, than in trying to discover truth by the philosophic study of Ood!s 
works of creation; and in what respect can Christians better employ them- 
selves than in discovering ever fresh woofs and confirmation of the revelations 
contained in the Holy Scriptures? Those who may not be able to take a 
prominent party as Fellows or Members of the Victoria Institute, may join as 
Associates (ladies being eligible), and thus aid the good work as subscribers* 
receiving in return the Society's Journal, and other privileges. 



(Pp. 10, 11, 12, 14) 

1. Since this pamphlet was originally written and published, Dr. Oolenso 
has returned to Natal, and he has there repeated the same statements he 
made in England " as to the science of geology flatly contradicting Scripture." 
In doing so (if the newspaper reports are to be relied on), he referred to Dr. 
Temple as haying publicly declared the same thing while preaching in St. 
Paul's cathedral I am almost certain that I am correct in saying (p. 10) that 
he also said this when preaching in Whitehall Chapel ; so that it would 
appear to be his habit to go about preaching what is only calculated to dis- 
credit the Scriptures among the ill-informed and those who, apparently like 
himself, have learnt nothing as to the changes that have taken place in the 
conclusions of the most eminent geologists since the Essays and Review* 
were published. 

2. In addition, therefore, to the citations already given in the text, from 
Sir Charles Lyell's Address as President of the British Association at Bath 
in 1864, 1 now cite the following passages from the Anniversary Address of 
Mr. Hamilton, the President of the Geological Society of London, delivered 
in February, 1865, which ought, as a matter of common literary decency, to 
stop this constant "preaching" that anything worthy of the name of 
geological " scienoe " has contradicted or upset the Scriptures. He said : — 

" Reoent investigations have upset the ancient theories, that all the highest 
points consisted of crystalline rooks, and that no sedimentary rocks formed 
high mountains. Again k was formerly supposed " [and relied on as " certain 
science" in the " Essays and Reviews "] "that the orystalline rocks, particularly 
granite, owed their origin to igneous action. Now it is well known that these 
granites are chiefly arranged in layers. The granite passes into gneiss, and . 
the gneiss into mica-schist and talc-schist ; and this is again closely connected 
with the green and grey slates ,• and it is well known that many of these rocks, 
formerly considered as plutonic, are really metamorphosed rocks/' 

■ ^^ 

3. Now, in making this citation, I am not saying whether Mr. Hamilton's 

views are right or wrong, or whether I agree with him or not. I quote him 
as an " authority, 11 like Sir Charles Lyell, speaking ex cathedra* sctentics to a 
scientific body, and declaring that what was called geological science as to 
granite, for instance, when the " Essays and Eeviews " were written, is no longer 
regarded as science in the Geological Society of London, whatever it may pe 
in the pulpits where Dr. Temple preaches, or among the Zulus at Natal ; but, 
on the contrary, is itself now "upset? If Mr. Hamilton is wrong in his 
views as to the granites being " chiefly arrranged in layers," and stratified — if 



that is meant, then that will only still further show how very uncertain, 
after all, even the quasi "facts" of science sometimes are, as well as the 
scientific "theories" that thus get upset by fresh investigations. Mr. Evan 
Hopkins, in reference to these words of Mr. Hamilton, says : — " The primary 
crystalline rocks are formed in parallel vertical bands, not stratified, but 
divided in plates like crystals. . • • The distinction that exists between 
the semi-crystalline vertical bands of the primary series, and the stratified 
sedimentary rocks,' is not yet fully recognized,"* 

4. As Mr. Hopkins was one of the first, if not, rather, the very first 
geologist who disputed the " plutonic," or dry-heat origin of the granites, in 
the first edition of his valuable and interesting work, which was written in 
South America so far back as 1837-38, and published in London in 1843, he 
is entitled to a deferential hearing upon this cognate point. But my object 

_ throughout this pamphlet, and with reference to all the questions of science 
alluded to in it, is- not to show that this or that has been "established" in 
any case, but to show how scientific opinions have changed, and that further 
investigations are necessary before we can boast we have got hold of any real 
science at alL I find it necessary to say this much, as one or two gentlemen 
have managed to persuade themselves that I have necessarily adopted the 
opinions expressed in some of the citations and references in the text (which 
might or might not be true, and yet be of no consequence), but which is not 
really warranted by the language I have used, and not at all necessary for my 
argument. I have quoted recognized authorities in science against Bishop 
Oolenso, Dr. Temple, and Mr. Goodwin; and. I have quoted men whose 
views in science were despised, and who were refused a hearing at one time, 
but whose views are now accepted, as so far correct, by such authorities. 

5. I go on, therefore,. to make one more citation from Mr. Hamilton's 
Address, with reference to other changes in geological views :— 

" We are daily becoming more convinced that no real natural breaks exist 
between the Faunas and the Floras of what we are accustomed to call geological 
periods. . • • We learn now that those forms oL animal life which roamed 
over the surface of the earth before man came to exercise dominion over them, 
were not, as was at one time supposed, destroyed before his arrival, but 
continued to coexist with him, until the time came when they were to make 
way for other forms, more suited to the new conditions of life and to his 

This, it will be observed, bears upon the remarks in the text (p. 12), made 
in allusion to Sir Charles Lyell's "Antiquity of Man." But, again, I beg leave 
to say I am not, adopting Mr. Hamilton's opinions any more than Sir Charles 
LyelTs upon this point. Were I to express my own opinion, I would venture 
to say that, though I hold it to be clearly proved (as now acknowledged by 
these eminent geologists) that man was contemporaneous with animals at one 
time supposed to have been destroyed ages before his " arrival" on the scene 

* Geology and Terrestrial Magnetism. By Evan Hopkins, O.B., F.G.S., 3rd 
Ed., with a new Introduction and Appendix, &c., p. vii. (London i Taylor & 
Franois, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street, 1865.) 


of this world, I do not, therefore, admit the great antiquity of man. 1 think 
it remains to be proved that the extinct animals are of the great antiquity that 
has been assigned to them,* Bearing in mind that Mr. Hamilton says, " We 
are daily becoming more convinced that no real natural breaks exist 
between the Faunas and Floras of what we are accustomed to call geological 
periods," I think the following remarks are worthy of consideration. 

" The first step in the false inductions geology made, arose from the rash 
deduction that the order in which the fossil remains of organic being were 
found deposited in the various strata, necessarily determined the order of 
their creation ; and the next error arose from blindly rushing to rash conclu- 
sions and hasty generalizations, from a very limited number of facts and the 
most imperfect investigations. There were also (and indeed are still) some 
wild dogmatisms as to the time necessary to produce certain geologic forma- 
tions ; "f but the absurdities of the science culminated when it adopted from 
Laplace the irrational and unintelligible theory of a natural origin of the world 
from a nebula of gaseous granite, intensely hot, and supposed to be gradually 
cooled while gyrating senselessly in space. This necessitated the further 
supposition of a long lapse of ages before this gas-world cooled down ; when 
again it was supposed that a hard granite crust would be the result, with the 
still hot liquid granite-matter inside ! Then it was supposed (whence or 
how not explained) that rain would fall upon the hardened granite, and that 
it would break up into soil, gravel, &c, &c, in the course of another lapse of 
ages or millions of years ; and so on and on, always supposing some fresh 
occurrence, without the most remote attempt at explaining how any one of 
them could have naturally occurred, and always allowing ages upon ages to 
intervene, as if to give time enough for totally inadequate causes to "produce 
the continued series of improbable effects, which, without a Deity and without 
a design, were to result in this glorious world ! 

But, although we have now got rid of the "Azoic" strata, and the Azoic 
ages of this world of ours, it is nevertheless worth while to suggest that, 
even had they existed, and even had all the fossils ever discovered been em- 
bedded exclusively as was long supposed to be the case, this would not 
have afforded any proof of the sole existence of the lower orders found in the 
lowest strata at any particular time j but only that such animals as naturally 

* Jn a Paper read in the Royal Institution of Great Britain by the eminent 
geologist Mr. Prestwich, on the Flint Implements found at Amiens, he said, — 
" That the evidence as it then stood, seemed to him as much to necessitate the 
bringing forward the extinct animals towards our own time, as the carrying 
back of man to the geological times." (Quoted from Cosmogony, by Evan 
Hopkins, Esq., C.E., F.G.S. Second Edition, 1865 : Longmans.) 

t In an able review of Sir William Logan's Geological Survey of Canada, 
which appeared in The Times of 21st of October, 1864, the following remark 
occurs, with reference to arguments based upon these " immense geological 
periods " :— " In order to expose the fallacy of such an argument, it would be 
only necessary to; appeal to a few of these Canadian geological monuments, 
the true interpretation of which, we beUeve', will establish the fact that the 
element of time has very little share in the alteration and crystallization of the 
sedimentary rocks,*' 


occupied the bottom of the oceans were tho first to be embedded/ when the 
first deposits of sediments were thrown down into the waters. 

Were tho world even now overwhelmed with a flood, and great masses of 
earths of various kinds carried violently into the sea, it must be evident that 
sponges and sea-anemones, and other lower orders of living organisms in the 
sea, which inhabit or are fixed at its bottom, would immediately be embedded 
in the sediment, while only an occasional fish might be poisoned or otherwise 
accidentally covered over. In time, however, the waters might become unfit 
even for the fish to live in, and many of those dying would be embedded in 
other sediments [superimposed]. As the waters rose, the reptiles and 
amphibire would next be drowned and embedded ; while land animals would 
mostly for a time escape to the higher grounds. But were the waters still to 
rise, even they, and also man at last, would be swept away, though, probably, in 
most oases their carcases would not be embedded in sediments, but floated and 
dashed about, to be left [in caves, or] on the surface of the earth, and to waste 
away on the subsequent subsidence of the waters. Moreover, at the time of 
Noah's flood, it must be remembered, that many parts of the world may have 
then had no human inhabitants, and that strata formed in suoh regions would 
therefore necessarily be wanting in the remains even of human workmanship, 
though man might have lived contemporaneously in other regions of the globe, 
and his remains might be embedded there. 

But no traces of man having been found by geologists in what was then 
supposed to be the oldest strata, it was concluded that man did not exist on the 
earth at all when these strata were formed ; and long periods and intervals 
were- therefore assigned between the time of the various formations. 11 

This was published before Mr. Hamilton's Address was delivered. And 
now (the author goes on to ask), when the evidence of man's co- existence with 
certain extinct species of animals is admitted by the authorities, what is the 
consequence ? 

" Not a modest consideration of the whole series of geologic theories, which 
had rashly proclaimed Holy Scripture untrue, but which have been found to be 
really untrue themselves ; but only further rash and extravagant generaliza- 
tions, with a fresh atheistic theory tacked on 'to the others, to render the whole 
again somewhat more plausible ! The long times and intervals between the 
various formations and the " geologic periods " are not given up j but only the 
abrupt divisions between each are abandoned, and man is now pushed further 
back into 'antiquity,' and is supposed to have been originally a savage, 
developed by some unexplained process, in the course of millions of ages, out 
of a gorilla or chimpanzee !" * 

7. These observations by an anonymous author are, of course, not quoted 
as of any " authority," but only as a view of the whole state of the case that 
may fairly be entertained. Having alluded to Professor Ansted (on p. 14) 
as sending the official answer to Dean Cockburn, refusing to re-open the 
discussion of the nebular theory in the Geological Section of the British 
Association in 1844^ I have the satisfaction of being now able to quote from 

* Fresh Springs of Truth (chapter on " The Scriptures and Science "), 
pp. 104, 105, 113-115. (London : Grifiin & Co., 1865.) 


what that learned Professor has more recently written in his Geological 
Gossip ; and which will be found an ample justification of the very strongest 
things I have said throughout this pamphlet I commend Professor Ansted's 
candid remarks to the special consideration of Dr. Colenso, Dr. Temple, and 
the two or three gentlemen who have favoured me with somewhat hypercritical 
strictures upon some sentences in the Circular of 24th May and the Scientia 

"An account (says the distinguished Professor) of the oorreotion of the 
mistakes in geology might furnish matter for many amusing and instructive 
chapters in a work like the present. Few of the younger geologists of the 
day, and fewer still among general readers, have any idea of the extent to 
which opinions have become imperceptibly modified in many important depart- 
ments of geological science within the last quarter of a century, while there 
have not been wanting several absolute and formal recantations enforced from 
time to time by direct discovery. The great cause of this is to be found in 
the inveterate habit that almost all of us have of over-estimating the value of 
negative evidence. 

Geologists examine a certain district, and remark the absence of some 
objects or group concerning which there seems no good reason why it should 
not have been handed down as perfectly as some others that have been pre- 
served. At once the theorist jumps to the conclusion that the tribe of animals 
not represented had not been created. A theory is soon built up on the 
strength of it; for no one can oppose it without having the onus probandi 1 
thrown upon him. But some fine day the required fact is discovered, often to 
the disgust of the theorists, to the equal vexation of the student, and it would 
almost seem to the annoyance of everybody. 

The first impulse of human nature is to put the unlucky discovery on one 
side — say nothing about it : — most likely it will bear investigation, and there- 
fore don't let us have the trouble of investigating it ! It is so painful to be 
stopped in a pleasant career of progress, and to be obliged to examine carefully, 
and weigh fairly, the evidence in regard to a matter we thought settled when 
we began work some twenty years ago.* 

A troublesome Frenchman — M. Boucher de Perthes — took it into his head 
that some remains of men ought to be found in gravel. M. Perthes, although 
he found plenty of specimens, and published an octavo volume about them, 
and even offered his specimens to the sowants of Paris, could not obtain a 
hearing. Few readers, either in France or England, seem even to have been 
aware of his book. The subject was tabooed, because people's minds were 
quite made up on the subject, confiding in the strength of the negative 
evidence, which really meant little more than a total absence of inquiry." 

* One of my critics recently boasted in print that he continued now to teaoh 
the same geology he had done for fifty years ! 







First General Meeting of the Members and Associates of 
the Institute, held on 24sth May, 1866 — Her Majesty's, 
Birthday and the Anniversary of the Society's Found- 
ation, — at 82, SacJcville Street, London, W. 

The Right Honourable the Earl op Shaftesbury, K.G., 

President, in the Chair. 

The Noble Chairman stated, that this being the First Meeting of the 
Members and Associates who had united to form the Victoria Institute, there 
were no previous Minutes to be read. He had much pleasure in taking the 
Chair on the present occasion, and in seeing so large a meeting assembled for 
the purpose of formally inaugurating a Society, the importance of which, he 
thought, could scarcely be over-estimated, the founding of which was only pro- 
posed a year ago, and agreed upon at a meeting held in that room, on 
16th June, 1865, consisting of scarcely more than twelve of the present members 
of the Society, which now numbered nearly two hundred. It would be un- 
necessary for him to make any observations with respect to the objects for 
which it was established, as they would be fully explained in the inaugural 
address, which would be read that evening by the Rev. Mr. Mitchell. (Hear, 
hear.) He rejoiqed to learn, from the number of members who had already 
joined, that the Society promised to be attended with the greatest success, 
and without any further preface he would call upon the honorary secretary to 
read the report of the Provisional Committee and Council 

Mr. Reddie (Hon. Secretary), then read the following Report of the Pro- 
visional Council :— • 


Philosophical Society of Great Britam. 

Founding of the Society. 

1. Your Committee beg leave to advert very briefly to the 
origin of the Victoria Institute. On May 24th, 1865, a printed 
Circular, which has now been in every member's hands, was 
sent to the newspapers and distributed to various individuals, 
proposing to found a new Philosophical Society, for the pur- 
pose of defending Eevealed Truth from unwarranted attacks 
made upon it in the name of Science* The response to this 
appeal was so hearty and immediate, that the author of the 
circular and the friends with whom he had previously con- 
sulted were induced, so early as the 10th of June, to issue a 
second circular, addressed to those who had signified their 
approval of the founding of the proposed Society, or their desire 
to co-operate in its formation, requesting them to attend a pre- 
liminary meeting on June 16th, to consult together as to the basis 
upon which the new Society should be founded. At this meeting 
the Earl of Shaftesbury presided; and certain resolutions 
having been agreed to respecting the objects of the new 
Society, they were referred to a sub-committee, consisting of 
the Rev. Dr. Robinson Thornton, "the Rev. A. De La Mare, 
Captain Fishbourne, R.N., C.B., Captain Francis W. H. Petrie, 
and Mr. Reddie (with power to add to their number) ; who 
were desired to report thereon, and on other matters, to a 
subsequent meeting, which was held on Thursday, June 22nd. 
At this meeting the Objects of the Society, terms of member- 
ship, &c, as recommended by the Committee, were agreed 
upon, ana the result was made known in a printed Circular 
(No. 4) dated July, 1865, inviting Vice-Patrons, Members, and 
Associates to. join the Society for the purposes and upon the 
terms therein set forth. 

2. The Committee above referred to added other members 
to their number from time to time, and was the % nucleus of your 
present Committee, as now organized into the Provisional 


Council, whose names are printed in the First List of Founda- 
tion Members and Associates, corrected to May 1st, which 
was sent to all the Members and Associates of the Society upon 
calling this present meeting. 

Members and Associates, 

3. Your Committee have to express their regret that various 
circumstances prevented them from completing the organiza- 
tion of the Society sooner, and obliged them to postpone till to- 
day the First General Meeting of its Members and Associates. 
At the same time they would desire to recognize the kind 
forbearance of the earliest enrolled members of the Society, in 
making every allowance for this delay, arising from difficulties 
which are probably always attendant upon new undertakings. 
There has been a gratifying evidence among the members of 
a calm confidence in a good cause that would only gather 
strength by time, and which, therefore, need make no undue 
haste. • If, however, our meetings commence some few months 
later than was originally expected, your Committee have the 
satisfaction of being able to Congratulate the Society, that its 
proceedings now commence with, they believe, an unpre- 
cedented number of Members and Associates. 

4. On the 1st of this month 158 Members had joined, and 
21 Associates, making 179 in all, including one Vice-Patron, 
five Life Members, and one Second-Class Life Associate. 
Since that date 10 new Members and 3 Associates have 
joined, making a total of 192 Members and Associates. 


5. Taking the Members and Associates as in the printed 
list corrected to the 1st of May, which has been generally 
circulated, the Income of the Society will stand thus, when 
all the subscriptions shall have been paid :-— 


For 5 Life Members £105 

„ 1 Ditto and Vice-Patron , 63 

„ 152 Members, at Two Guineas each 319 4 

„ 1 Life Associate, 2nd Class ,*, 10 10 

„ 9 1st Class Associates, at Two 

Guineas each . . * 18 18 

,,11 2nd Class Ditto, at One Guinea 11 11 

Over £528 3 

d 2 


Brought over £528 3 

The Expenditure already incurred, 
chiefly for printing, postage, stationery, 
and the salary of the paid Secretary for 
six months, is as follows, viz. : — 

Mr. Warrington, for printing, &c £12 11 8 

Mr. Hardwicke, two thousand copies of 

Scientia Scientiarum, &c 26 2 8 

Due for 1,000 ditto 6 6 

Messrs. Ortner & Houle, for engraving 

crest, stationery, &c, &c 4 13 5 

Contingencies, chiefly postage, of > 

the first Interim Secretary 

Contingencies, chiefly postage, °f \ ia a a 

the Honorary Secretary ' 

Contingencies of Dr. Evans, the 

present Interim Secretary 

Salary of Do. 6 months, to 30th June 

next 50 

Advertising 10 

Due for printing, &c, &c, probably... 10 

135 13 9 

Balance in favour of the Society £392 9 3 

5. The donation of Henry W. Peek, Esq., as Vice T Patron, 
and the life subscriptions paid up to the 5th of April last, 
have been invested in Government Stock, in the name of the 
Trustees. And this course your Committee propose should be 
followed with all other donations or life subscriptions. 

Objects, Constitution, and Bye-laws of the Society. 

6. Your Committee have had prepared the draft of a code 
of Eegulations relating to the Objects, Constitution, and 
Bye-laws of the Society. They do not, however, propose 
to submit these rules for adoption to the present meeting. 
They request that they may be allowed to give further con- 
sideration to this important matter, after their formal election 
and confirmation by this meeting as the regularly-constituted 
Council of the Society. The Objects of the Society having 
been settled, as well as the general terms upon which the 
Members and Associates already enrolled have joined the 
Institute, your Committee are of opinion that on the present 


occasion it will be sufficient if they indicate the modifications 
and additions which they now recommend should be made as 
regards the contributions and privileges of Members and 
Associates who may be enrolled in future. 

7. They beg leave to recommend : — 

I. That the Foundation List of Members and Associates be 
kept open till 31st December, 1866, and then closed. 

II. That all Members whose applications for admission are 
dated on or after 1st January, 1867, be required to pay an 
Entrance Donation of not less than One Guinea eacn (the 
precise amount to be hereafter determined), in addition to 
their annual subscription of Two Guineas, or their Life com- 
position of Twenty Guineas. 

III. That no Entrance Donation be required from Members 
applying to be enrolled before 31st December, 1866; and that 
no Entrance Donation be required from Associates, either of 
the First or Second Class, whether enrolled before or after 
that date. 

IV. That Associates as well as Members shall be entitled 
to be present at all the General and Ordinary Meetings of the 
Society, also to state their opinions thereat, and to vote by 
show of hands ; but that when recourse is had to voting by 
ballot, in order to determine any question, Members only 
shall be entitled to vote. 

V. That Associates of the First Class shall be entitled to all 
the publications of the Society, the same as Members, in- 
cluding the publications contemplated under Object 6. But 
that Associates of the Second Class shall only be entitled to 
the publications referred to in Objects 4 and 5. 

VI. That nevertheless the Committee shall have power, 
when the funds of the Society will admit of it, to issue the 
other publications of the Society to Associates of the Second 
Class being ministers of religion, either gratuitously or at as 
small a charge as the Council may deem proper. 

VII. That the first annual contributions of Members and 
Associates already enrolled, or applying to be enrolled before 
31st December next, shall be considered as extending to that 
date ; and that the future annual contributions shall be con- 
sidered as due in advance on January 1st in every year, or 
in the case of new Members and Associates upon their 

VIII. That should Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, 
H.E.H. the Prince of Wales, or other Personage of Eoyal 
blood hereafter become Patron, Vice-Patron, or a Member 
of the Society, none of the regulations relating to donations, 


contributions, or subscriptions shall be considered as applicable 
to such Eoyal Personages, nor shall they be liable to serve in 
any office of the Society. 

8. Tour Committee submit these recommendations for 
the approval of this General Meeting, in order to serve 
for their guidance in framing the Regulations and Bye- 
laws of the Society ; which they propose shall be laid before 
a Special General Meeting of the Members and Associates, 
for adoption or otherwise, early in the next session, to com- 
mence in November. 


9. In conclusion, your Committee beg leave to state that 
they have considered it undesirable to cumber this Report with 
the details of their various proceedings, or of the efforts they 
have made for the proper organization of the Institute, or the 
advancement of its interests. The present meeting will doubt- 
less be anxious to listen to the Inaugural Address about to be 
delivered, which will form the red commencement of our 
public acts as an organized body. The First List of Foundation 
Members and Associates, enrolled within a year from the 
first proposal to found this Society, and before it has really 
done anything, may be taken as a fair augury of future pro- 
gress, and as a proof that the labours of your Committee 
have been crowned with some measure of success. 

10. Should this Report be adopted, — as your Committee 
venture to hope : — should their past acts be thereby approved, 
and their present status confirmed, as the authorized and 
regularly constituted Council of the Victoria Institute or Philo- 
sophical Society of Great Britain, with power to do all they may 
consider proper for advancing the interests of the Society, and 
for completing their own constitution as its Council, by adding 
to their numbers, choosing other or additional Vice-Presidents 
and Honorary Secretaries, or other officers of the Society; 
and generally by being authorized to manage its affairs by 
engaging the services of paid officers or servants, hiring apart- 
ments, and making any other arrangements they may deem 
advisable to promote the objects of the Society; your Com- 
mittee, as the Council of the Society, will proceed with renewed 
zeal in this important work, and in enrolling new Vice-Patrons, 
Members, and Associates, on the terms already set forth. 

11. For the short remainder of the present Session, your 
Committee only propose that a few General Papers shall be read, 


as introductory to subjects which come within the province of 
the Society. Due notice of the titles of these papers, and of 
the dates upon which they are proposed to be read, will bo 
given. The first will be " A Sketch of the Existing Relations 
between Science and Scripture/ 9 by George Warington, Esq.. 
Member of Council, and will be read on the evening of the 
4th of June. Ladies will be admissible at the reading of 
these General Papers, which will be analogous in character 
to the Lectures referred to in the 5th Object of the Society. 

12. Finally, your Committee most earnestly trust, that all 
the labours of the important Society which is this day publicly 
inaugurated, may not only tend to promote the real advance- 
ment of a true Science of Nature among mankind ; but that, 
in the words of the motto which your Committee have adopted 
for the Institute, they may always also be undertaken and 
prosecuted ad majorem Dei gloriam. 

By order, 


Jlon. Sec. 


The Rev. Henry Hare then moved the following Resolution: — 

That the Report of the Committee be adopted, printed and circulated ; and 
that the Committee be now constituted as the Council of the Institute, with 
full power to do all that they may think proper for its management, for the 
ensuing year. 

Thornton Hunt, Esq., seconded the Resolution, which was carried unani- 

The Noble President then called upon the Rev. Walter Mitchell, 
M.A. (Vice-President), who read the following Inaugural Address: — 

My Lord Shaftesbury and Gentlemen, 

It is in deference to your expressed wishes, but with a 
profound sense of my inability to do justice to the subject on 
which I am called upon to address you, that I venture to 
inaugurate the proceedings of the Victoria Institute. I 
feel emboldened, however, by the belief that the objects of 
this Society are too noble and great in themselves to suffer 
in any degree from the weakness of their exponent. 

No one who watches the expression of thought by the culti- 
vated intellectual classes of this country, through its literature, 
can deny that the opinion that science and revelation are directly 
opposed to each other has been spreading with fearful rapidity. 


Those who cultivate the dry details of science are a small 
minority compared with those who pursue the more alluring 
and pleasing paths of general literature. The majority of those 
who constitute the reading and thinking class of England 
agree to accept without much difficulty any opinion or hypo- 
thesis dignified by the name of science. They neither feel 
capable, nor do they care to investigate the pretension of the 
scientific dogma to be accepted as truth. They regard only 
the popular reputation of the promulgator as a man of science, 
" If any new proposition/' says the Saturday Review, " comes 
with the authority of an established professor of the science, 
we accept it with the confidence with which a Roman Catholic 
might take the decision of the infallible Church." This con- 
fession of the Saturday Review may be taken as a fair expression 
of the practice of most of the non-scientific class of English- 
men, and also of those who are mere dilettanti cultivators of 

If men, therefore, who have attained a certain position of 
rank in the scientific world enter the arena of popular literature 
or address the thinking world in popular lectures, and boldly 
maintain that science and Scripture are irreconcilable, their 
dicta are at once received as if they were founded upon abso- 
lute and incontestable demonstration. The foundation of the 
Victoria Institute is in itself a caution to the unscientific 
world to pause in the acceptance of such propositions without 
careful investigation. A body of men who have cultivated, 
some or other of them, nearly every branch of human know- 
ledge which goes under the vague term of science, have here 
united themselves in the assertion that, so far as they have in- 
vestigated the questions of philosophy and science, they have 
not found the principles of philosophy, or the laws and facts of 
science, presenting any real discordance with the great truths 
revealed in Holy Scripture. They go, however, a step further. 
They are students, both of the book of Nature as displayed in 
the works of the Creator, and also of that book which they 
believe to be a revelation of the highest truths by that same 
Creator to His creature, man. Their faith that these books are 
by the same Author has been unshaken by their pursuit of 
knowledge. They hold this faith upon higher principles than 
those of mere scientific demonstration or mere philosophical 
induction. They are not afraid that any discord or discrepancy 
can really be found between true philosophy or sound science 
and revelation ; and therefore they are willing, nay, anxious, to 
investigate, with care and with that love of truth which lies at 
the root of their religious principles, all the objections that are 
urged, either as philosophical or scientific, against the Bible. 


Here, however, our opponents may meet us with the 
objection that we are not free to enter into an unprejudiced 
discussion of these questions; that we are already pledged to 
the issue; that we approach the questions debated as advo- 
cates rather than calm and dispassionate judges; and, to a 
certain extent, I am willing to accept this issue. We are not 
prepared to abandon our faith as Christians ; we do not believe 
that it is necessary to assume the position of Deists, or, as the 
most advanced advocates of freedom of thought would have us, 
assume the position of Atheists, in order to discuss calmly and 
dispassionately the problems of philosophy or the laws and 
phenomena of the world of sense. As Christians, as honest 
believers in the Bible as a record of revealed truth, we know 
that, in the history both of modern philosophy and modern 
science, avowed Christians have taken no mean or insignificant 
place. I will go further, and say, that Christians haVe held 
the highest place as discoverers of the laws of nature, inter- 
preters of the phenomena of nature, and careful and honest 
observers of those facts upon which science is based. 

We have derived our faith in revealed religion neither from 
cold philosophical thought nor from the feeble inductions of 
science, but from the highest source of all truth — the 
revelation of God to mankind. We regard this faith as 
His gift, the gift of the Spirit of Truth ; and, when we know 
how distinguished Christians, who have held and do hold this 
faith, have been in the paths of philosophy and science, we 
ask why we should not investigate the pretensions of modern 
philosophers and modern professors of science when they call 
upon us, as lovers of truth, to abandon our faith. We believe 
that our honest investigations of these objections will tend to 
strengthen the faith of those who have not the time or do not 
possess the necessary scientific education to investigate such 
questions for themselves. 

If asked why the Victoria Institute should be founded for 
such investigations, I think I could give a very sufficient 
answer from my own experience. I know no other society or 
institution where such subjects could be discussed. 

A purely theological society would not feel competent to 
entertain the scientific side of the discussion. A purely 
scientific society would repudiate the theological aspect. Not 
long ago I had to address a theological meeting, composed 
entirely of clergymen, on the very subject of the supposed 
opposition between science and revelation. As a cultivator of 
some branches of science, I pointed out that the supposed 
facts on which the opposition was founded were no facts at all ; 
that they were crude hypotheses, raised without proof and 


without demonstration to the rank of natural laws; that a 
host of facts, many of which I mentioned, were directly opposed 
to them; that some alleged facts I could demonstrate by 
plain arithmetic, to go no higher in mathematics, to be false. 
And how tf as I met by my rationalistic opponents ? That they 
were incompetent, from their ignorance of science, to enter at 
all into the scientific view of the question. They regarded 
authority rather than discussion from abstract principles or the 
facts and phenomena of nature. That some whom they 
esteemed as scientific authorities differed from me, and there- 
fore I was told that I must discuss the science of the question, 
even where science and revelation were supposed to come into 
collision with each other, before a purely scientific body. These 
men were in a minority ; but, if such a minority could be found 
among a small body of theologians, I think I could adduce no 
stronger evidence of the want of such an institution as that 
we are now inaugurating. 

The supposed opposition between science and revelation 
may be divided into two great divisions,~an opposition of 
principles ; an opposition of facts. This controversy is an old 
one, and has already been well fought out in the literature of 
this country. In its old phase this opposition was so com- 
pletely answered by the advocates of revelation that the contro- 
versy for the time ceased with all but the avowed sceptic and 
infidel. "With the progress of science, and metaphysical rather 
than physical discussion, the old controversy has been revived 
under a somewhat different aspect ; though in reality its true 
character is scarcely, if at all, altered. 

Philosophical principles and assumed facts of new sciences 
are now once more set in formidable array against the claims 
of revelation to the acceptance of a well-educated or rational 
man. The principle of modern rationalism which has been 
thought by some so destructive to the claims of revelation in the 
written Word of God, has been imported, as an accepted prin- 
ciple and law of truth, into the realms of purely physical 
science. A false principle, borrowed as if an accepted truth from 
science by the purely literary man, after doing its utmost 
work of destruction in the theological world, has been imported 
back as if unquestionable into the realms of science. 

If I am asked what I mean by this principle of so- 
called rationalism, I will adopt a definition, of one of its advo- 
cates. "It is the supremely important fact that the gradual 
reduction of all phenomena within the sphere of established 
law carries with it as a consequence the rejection of the mira- 
culous." Now, here we have an old objection in a new dress. 
We have here an assumption that the progress of modern science 


has been such a gradual reduction of all phenomena of nature 
within the sphere of established law that this principle must 
be received as a truth. It is, however, but the revival of Hume's 
celebrated objection to miracles. t€ A miracle/' says Hume, 
"is a violation of the laws of nature, and a firm and unalter- 
able experience has established these laws : the proof against a 
miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any 
argument from experience can possibly be imagined." I will 
not stop here to show that this assumption of Hume's has been 
proved again and again to involve the very facts which are in 
dispute. That, if even one miracle has happened, which is the 
point in discussion, then Hume's proposition must fall to the 
ground, for it cannot be contrary to experience. Nor need I 
remark for those so much inclined to bow to the authority of 
great names, that the progress of the reduction of the phe- 
nomena of nature within thf sphere of established law between 
the time whenNewton wrote his "Principia'' and his "Optics," 
and that when Hume wrote his famous treatise on Miracles, was 
not so great as to have any material influence on the important 
question of the credibility of miracles. Yet Newton, who more 
than any other man had the most profound conviction of the 
existence of natural laws, was not compelled on that account 
to reject his belief in miracles, or that greatest of all miracles 
the creation of the physical world by an omnipotent Creator, 
and His support of all things by His ever- watchful domination 
and providence. Those who try to divorce the conception of a 
Creator and Euler of the Universe from our views of the physi- 
cal world, the world of matter, and would restrict the recep- 
tion of the marvellous entirely to the spiritual world, evade 
the example of Newton by the assertion, that he, who made 
the greatest step ever made by the inductive philosophy, was 
destitute of its true spirit. 

The advance of the inductive philosophy since the days of 
Newton may have opened up a wider region of 'law in the 
physical universe. We know of other forces than those of 
gravitation and light. But what progress have we made in 
bringing these within the domain of law expressed in mathe- 
matical terms enabling us to anticipate by these laws un- 
known phenojnena and facts of nature ? If, therefore, the man 
who more than any other, by his clear and vigorous intellect, 
has reduced the widest range of phenomena within the sphere 
of established law, did not, on that account, feel compelled as 
a consequence to reject the miraculous, we may well ask why 
we, as students of Nature's laws, must as a matter of rational 
necessity be required to do so. 

It will be instructive, however, to trace the effect of this 


assumed axiom, rejected by Newton, that the reduction of the 
phenomena of nature to established laws compels the rejection 
of the miraculous. 

What we call a law of nature is nothing more than a general 
formula enabling us to class together under one head a certain 
number of observed phenomena. We must not let this term 
"law" lead us into metaphysical or illogical conclusions. Because 
we class together a certain number of facts under what we 
term a law, we have no certainty that that law is a necessary, 
unalterable, unchangeable power, controlling the observed 
phenomena. That because the law of gravitation enables us 
to account for certain motions of the planetary bodies, their 
satellites and the comets of our system, the proved existence 
of this law must compel us to believe that it, as well as the 
bodies it controls, existed through the infinite ages of the 
past without a creator : a law without a lawgiver, controlling 
matter without a creator ; gravitation being a self-sustaining, 
self-evolving power of self-existent, uncreated matter. I put 
this proposition in this startling point of view, because it is 
precisely the point of view in which it has been imported from 
the disputes of rationalistic theologians into the domain of 

Strauss asserts that a miracle is an impossibility, because 
the " chain of endless causation can never be broken." Now, 
nothing but infinite experience or infinite observation of all the 
laws of nature, through an infinite period of time, could prove 
the assertion that the chain of endless causation can never be 

What we call a law of nature is but the observation of a 
.certain number of facts which we class under a certain formula ; 
a certain number of facts, for instance, under the law of gravita- 
tion. But gravitation is not, for anything we know, a necessary 
law, a necessary and invariable property of what we call gra- 
vitating matter. Phenomena might present themselves which 
might refuse to be classed under this law, and we should have 
to amend it. This has not only been conceded; but the 
calculating machine, as described by Babbage, gives us a 
mechanical demonstration that no sequence of phenomena, 
however great or long observed, can assure us that at any 
instant the chain of the law may not be broken/ 

The acceptance of such a position as a " chain of endless 
causation " must not only destroy the *idea of a living and 
ruling God ; but also the existence of man's will, which cannot 
be exerted without a breach of this chain of endless causation. 
This "chain of endless causation" was popularized for 
the purpose of spreading the results of rationalism in this 


country by the late Mr. Baden Powell, in his " Christianity 
without Judaism/' "The Order of Nature/' and his essay 
" On the Study of the Evidences of Christianity/' in " Essays 
and Reviews." 

Admitting that the allowance of one miracle is as efficient 
a demolition of the axiom of the " chain of endless causation " 
as a thousand ; that the creation of the universe, or the 
creation of man, or the creation of any living being must most 
undoubtedly be regarded as a miracle ; that where there is a 
commencement of the chain of causation, which creation must 
be, the chain cannot be endless : he therefore strove with all 
his might to deny a creation. " In Christianity without Ju- 
daism," he tells us that the facts of geology compel us "unin- 
terruptedly to extend the domain of natural order through the 
infinity of past time." " That everything has gone on from 
one age to another, through the countless periods of past dura- 
tion to the depths of primeval time, in the same unbroken 
chain of regular changes/' and, again, that the Biblical account 
of creation is a parable or fiction designedly untrue. These 
assertions with respect to creation he repeats again and again 
in his " Order of Nature;" indeed, it is the dominant thought 
throughout most of the volume. In " Essays and Reviews," 
he tells us, " that the simple but grand truth of the law of con- 
servation, and the stability of the ieavenly motions, now well 
understood by all sound cosmical philosophers, is but the type 
of the universal self-sustaining and self-evolving powers which 
pervade all nature /' and when we ask whether living beings 
were created, or whether they have existed in an unbroken end- 
less chain of causation through the infinite ages of the past, 
he satisfies our curiosity by telling us that " it is now acknow- 
ledged, under the high sanction of the name of Owen, that 
€ creation ' is only another name for our ignorance of the mode 
of production ; and it has been the unanswered and unanswer- 
able argument of another reasoner that new species must have 
originated either out of their inorganic elements, or out of pre- 
viously organized forms; either development or spontaneous 
generation must be true ; while a work has now appeared by 
a naturalist of the most acknowledged authority, Mr. Darwin's 
masterly volume on the Origin of Species by the law of 'natural 
selection,' which now substantiates on undeniable grounds 
the very principle so long denounced by the first naturalists, — 
the origination of new species by natural causes ; a work which 
.must soon bring about an entire revolution of opinion in favour 
of the self-evolving powers of nature," 

Instead, therefore, of creation, Mr. Baden Powell gives us 
the self-evolving powers of nature acting on uncreated matter. 


"When we ask for proof, we are referred to Mr. Darwin's 
" Origin of Species by the Law of Natural Selection/' Nowl will 
venture to assert that no one can say, after a careful study of 
Mr. Darwin's work, that he has even claimed to have incontro- 
vertibly proved the existence of his law. At the best it is but 
an hypothesis, not an established law. Confessedly the majority 
of known facts in nature are irreconcilable with it. When 
Mr. Darwin is asked for the proofs of the first steps of his 
process of animal improvement and transmutation, he refers 
us to the undiscovered strata of unknown geological periods. 
Even then he carries his improved law only up to some three 
or four forms of animal and vegetable life as the points from 
whence animated nature has sprung, not in an endless, but 
a finite chain of causation. He gives no law for the appear- 
ance of vitality amid inorganic life, and shirks, the origin of 
this as foreign to the question. 

Mr. Darwin was an admirer of Mr. Powell, and, doubtless, 
would willingly follow him as far as he could in his theory of 
no creation. In the historical sketch prefixed to the third 
edition of his " Origin of Species," he asserts that " the phi- 
losophy of creation has been treated in a masterly manner by 
the Eev. Baden Powell," and attributes to Mr. Powell the 
anticipation of much of his own theories. " Nothing/' he 
says, "can be more striking than the manner in which he 
shows that the introduction of new species is a regular, not a 
casual, phenomenon; or, as Sir John Herschel expresses it, a 
natural in contradistinction to a miraculous process." The law 
of endless causation, which, in Mr. Baden Powell's opinion, is 
to bring about such an entire revolution of opinion, — the 
law which is to substitute the self-evolving powers of nature 
for the power of an omnipotent Creator, — is no other than the 
"law of the origination of new species by natural causes;" 
those natural causes being the destruction of weaker races 
by the stronger in the battle of life. Now this proposition 
has only to be stated in naked terms to carry with it its own 
manifest contradiction. The destruction of life in the battle 
of life necessarily takes for granted the previous existence of 
life. Therefore this law, — even granting it proved, which it has 
not been,—- does not carry us back to the self-evolving powers of 
nature for the first production of life. Mr. Darwin himself 
would seem to repudiate any such deduction from his own 
law. "A celebrated author and divine," he states, "has 
written to me that he has gradually learnt to see that it is 
just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He 
created a few original forms capable of self-development into 
other and needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh 


act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His 
laws." But this subject is so important, and such a use has 
been made of Mr. Darwin's theory in the endeavour to evade 
the idea that the commencement of life, animal or vegetable, 
must be an act of the Creator, that I may be permitted to 
examine what Mr. Darwin himself puts forth as the limits of 
his own theory. " These authors," he says, " seem no more 
startled at a miraculous act of creation than at an ordinary 
birth. But do they really believe that at innumerable periods 
in the earth's history certain elemental atoms have been com- 
manded" into living tissues ? Do they believe that at each 
supposed act of creation one individual or many were pro- 
duced? "Were all the infinitely numerous kinds of animals 
and plants created as eggs, or se^d, or » full grown T And in 
the case of mammals, were they created bearing the false marks 
of nourishment from the mother's womb ? Undoubtedly these 
same- questions cannot be answered by those who, under tho 
present state of science, believe in the creation of a few abo- 
riginal forms, or of some one form of life. It has been 
asserted by several authors that it is as easy to believe 
in the creation of a hundred million beings as of one : but 
Maupertius's philosophical axiom ( of least action ' leads 
the mind more willingly to admit the smaller number; and 
certainly we ought not to believe that innumerable beings 
within each great class have been created with plain, but 
deceptive, marks of descent from a single parent. It may be 
asked how far I extend the doctrine of the modification of 
species. The question is difficult to answer, because the more 
distinct the forms are which we may consider, by so much the 
arguments fall away in force. But some arguments of the 
greatest weight extend very far. All the members of whole 
classes can be connected together by chains of affinities, and 
all can be classified on the same principle in groups subordi- 
nate to groups. Fossil remains sometimes tend to fill up very 
wide intervals between existing orders. Organs in a rudimen- 
tary condition plainly shoiv that an early progenitor had the 
organ in a fully developed state ; and this in some instances 
necessarily implies an enormous amount of modification in 
.the descendants. Throughout whole classes various struc- 
tures are formed on the same pattern, and at an embryonic 
age the species closely resemble each other. Therefore I 
cannot doubt that the theory of descent with modification 
embraces all the members of the same class. I believe 
that animals have descended from at most only four or five 
progenitors, and plants from an equal or lesser number. 
" Analogy would lead me one step farther, namely, to the 


belief that all animals and plants have descended from one 
prototype. But analogy may be a deceitful guide. Neverthe- 
less, all living things have much in common — in their chemical 
composition, their cellular structure, their laws of growth, and 
their liability to injurious influences. We see this even in so 
trifling a circumstance as that the same poison often similarly 
affects plants and animals ; or that the poison secreted by the 
gall-fly produces monstrous growths on the wild rose or oak 
tree. In all organic beings the union of a male and female 
elemental cell seems occasionally to be necessary for the pro- 
duction of a new being. In all, as far as is at present known, 
the germinal vesicle is the same. So that every individual 
organic being starts from a common origin. If we look even 
to the two main divisions, namely, to the animal and vegetable 
kingdoms, certain low forms are so far intermediate in cha- 
racter that naturalists have disputed to which kingdom they 
should be referred; and, as Professor Asa Gray has remarked, 
"The spores and other reproductive bodies of many of the 
lower algae may claim to have first a characteristically animal, 
and then an unequivocally vegetable existence/ Therefore on 
the principle of natural selection with divergence of character, 
it does not seem incredible that, from some such low and inter- 
mediate form, both animals and plants may have been de- 
veloped ; and if we admit this, we must admit that all the 
organic beings which have ever lived on this earth may have 
descended from some one primordial form. But this inference 
is chiefly grounded on analogy, and it is immaterial whether 
or not it be accepted. The case is different with the members 
of each great class, as the vertebrata, the articulata, &c. ; for 
here, as has just been remarked, we have in the laws of homo- 
logy and embryology, &c, distinct evidence that all have 
descended from a single parent." 

Mr. Darwin, therefore, with every concession that we might 
make that he had established his law of the origin of species by 
the law of natural selection, is obliged to lead us back toan origin, 
to a creation, of animal and vegetable life for which his law sup- 
plies no substitute. Mr. Baden Powell's assumption of Darwin's 
law as a proof of the self- evolving uncreated powers of nature, is 
but a type of the loose, inaccurate mode of reasoning by which 
our faith in a Creator is sought to be unsettled. Professor Huxley 
follows in the same manner in his paper " On the Methods and 
Eesults of Ethnology," in the Fortnightly Review. He treats the 
belief that God created Adam and Eve, and that all mankind are 
descended from them, with lofty philosophical scorn. He calls 
the theory of Adam's creation, Adamitic monogenism. He 
says, "Five-sixths of the public are taught this Adamitic 



monogenism, as if it were an established truth, and believe it. 
I do not ; and I am not acquainted with any man of science 
or duly instructed person who does/' Now, why does Professor 
Huxley reject this doctrine ? Is it because the sciences of physi- 
ology and comparative anatomy, which he has cultivated with 
such success, and with such deserved distinction, compel him to 
reject the theory of the descent of the human race from a single 
pair ? No. He admits that science presents him with no diffi- 
culty in accepting this doctrine. What is it, then, he rejects ? 
Man's creation. And why ? Because he considers it unphilo- 
sophical to admit the idea of creation; and he thinks Mr. 
Darwin's law of the origin of species enables him to evade 
this unphilosophical idea. €t The whole tendency," he asserts, 
" of modern science is to thrust the origination of things 
further and further into the background ; and the chief philo- 
sophical objection to Adam being, not his oneness, but the 
hypothesis of his special creation; the multiplication of that 
objection tenfold is, whatever it may look, an increase, instead 
of a diminution, of the difficulties of the case. And as to the 
second alternative, it may safely be affirmed that, even if the 
differences between men are specific, they are so small that 
the assumption of more than one primitive stock for all is 
altogether superfluous. Surely no one can now be found to 
assert that any two stocks of mankind differ as much as a 
chimpanzee and an orang do ; still less that they are as unlike 
as either of these is to any New World Simian ? Lastly, the 
granting of the polygenist premises does not, in the slightest 
degree, necessitate the polygenist conclusion. Admit that 
Negroes and Australians, Negritos and Mongols are distinct 
species, or distinct genera, if you will, and you may yet, with 
perfect consistency, be the strictest of monogenists, and even 
believe in Adam and Eve as the primeval parents of mankind. 
It is to Mr. Darwin we owe this discovery ; it is he who, 
coming forward in the guise of an eclectic philosopher, presents 
his doctrine as the key to ethnology, and as reconciling and 
combining all that is good in the Monogenistic and Polygenistic 
schools. It is true that Mr. Darwin has not, in so many words, 
applied his views to ethnology ; but even he who ( runs and 
reads ' the s Origin of Species ' can hardly fail to do so." 

It is by such loose, illogical, unphilosophical reasoning, such 
acceptation of crude hypotheses as demonstrated laws, that we 
are to accept the " chain of endless causation " as eliminating 
even the idea of creation and a Creator from the universe. But 
this will appear more strongly still if we pass from the origin 
of vitality on the earth to the origin of the world itself by the 
self-evolving powers of nature. This leads us up at once to 



the Nebular hypothesis. Of unformed star-dust ; of a fire 
mist, revolving fiercely on its axis, slowly cooling and throwing 
off planets and comets from the refrigerating mass of a sun. 
But whence this mist, this great heat ? Professor Tyndall, in his 
" Constitution of the Universe," leads us back to " ages ago, 
when the elementary constituents of our rocks clashed together 
and produced the motion of heat." But whence, ages ago, the 
atoms constituting the elementary particles of these rocks ? 
Whence the force that caused them to clash together ? He is 
silent. The chain of endless causation snaps asunder : he con- 
fesses that he knows no more of the origin of force than he 
does of the origin of matter. But where our modern English 
professors hesitate, Mr. Collingwood has put forth Dr. Louis 
Buchner's views on " Force and Matter " in an English dress to 
enable us boldy to elicit truth and to overthrow prejudice. 
Here, without any shrinking, shall we find the " chain of endless 
causation " carried to its legitimate conclusions. 

Dr. Buchner sets forth in the strongest terms the immor- 
tality, indestructibility, infinity, and imperishability of matter 
and its twin attendant force. He teaches us that matter is 
not inferior to, but the peer of, spirit. He laughs to scorn 
not only the idea of a Creator, but a God. " Nature," he tells 
us, " knows neither a supernatural beginning nor a super- 
natural continuance. Nature, the all-engendering and all- 
devouring, is its own beginning and end, birth and death. 
She produced man by her own power, and takes him again." 
Nature, not God. He knows no Grod but man's self-idealization. 
Verily Dr: Buchner would have *us eat of the fruit of the tree 
of knowledge, that we might be as gods. He quotes, with 
approbation, the saying of Ludwig Peuerbach, " An extraneous 
and superhuman god is nothing but an extraneous and super- 
natural self, a subjective being, placed, by transgressing its 
limits, above the objective nature of man." And how, getting 
rid of a creator, does he give us the origin of man or vitality 
on the earth ? " There was a time," he asserts, " when the 
earth — a fiery globe — was not merely incapable of producing 
living beings, but was hostile to the existence of vegetable 
and animal organisms. It was only after having cooled down, 
and after the precipitation of the watery vapours which sur- 
rounded it, that the crust of the earth assumed a form which, 
in its further development, rendered the existence of various 
organic beings possible." 

"The facts of science prove, with considerable certainty, 
that the organic beings which people the earth owe their 
origin and propagation solely to the conjoined action of natural 
forces, and that the gradual change and development of the 


surface of the earth are the sole, or at least the chief, cause of 
the gradual increase of the living world." Here, then, we come 
to the plain expression that all the beauty, order, and wisdom 
displayed in God's universe is its own creator, own sustainer ; 
nothing but law, no wisdom, no design. Such empty notions 
and innocent studies Dr. Buchner leaves to those who delight 
to contemplate nature rather with the eyes of the feelings than 
with those of the intellect. Where, then, does the vain en- 
deavour to evade mystery in nature, — for that, and that alone, 
leads to the denial of the miraculous in nature, — lead us ? To 
the acceptance of something far more unsatisfactory— to the 
proud reason of man. Well might Dr. Arnold say, " Here is 
the moral fault of unbelief — that a man can bear to make so 
great a moral sacrifice as is implied in renouncing God. He 
makes the greatest moral sacrifice to obtain partial satis- 
faction to his intellect. A believer ensures the greatest moral 
perfection, with partial satisfaction to his intellect also ; en- 
tire satisfaction to the intellect is and can be obtained by 

And why, I ask, cannot the believer obtain entire satisfaction 
for his intellect ? Because the finite cannot comprehend the 

We see, therefore, that the rationalistic principle of law 
without a lawgiver, invented for the purpose of explaining 
away all that is miraculous, if carried out must lead us to the 
conclusion, that there is not an intelligent author of nature, 
and natural governor of the world. This is the position in 
which modern science is asserted to oppose revelation. We 
are called upon to reject that which Bishop Butler, in his 

Analogy," deemed unnecessary of proof. For he takes it as 

proved, that there is an intelligent author of nature, and 
natural governor of the world. For as there is no presump- 
tion against this prior to the proof of it, so it has been often 
proved with accumulated evidence — from this argument of 
analogy and final causes ; from abstract reasonings ; from the 
most ancient tradition and testimony; and from the general 
consent of mankind." 

The more intimately the laws of nature have been investigated, 
the more clearly has it been demonstrated that they are not 
founded on chance. They manifest that they are the arbitrary 
enactments of a supreme will, and founded on a wisdom which, 
so far as we can comprehend it, manifests its perfectness. Surely 
Newton may reasonably be a guide in natural philosophy? We 
need not fear to follow him lest we be considered unscientific. 
" Later philosophers," says he, in those remarkable queries 
he appends to his Optics, " banish the consideration of such a 

e 2 


cause out of natural philosophy, feigning hypotheses for ex- 
plaining all things mechanically, and referring other causes to 
metaphysics. Whereas, the main business of natural philo- 
sophy is to argue from phenomena without feigning hypotheses, . 
and to deduce causes from ' effects, till we come to the very 
first cause, which certainly is not mechanical ; and not, only to 
unfold the mechanism of the world, but chiefly to resolve these 
and suchlike questions. What is there in places almost empty 
of matter, and whence is it that the sun and planets gravitate 
towards one another without dense matter between them? 
Whence is it that Nature doth nothing in vain ; and whence 
arises all that order and beauty which we see in the world ? 
To what end are comets ? and whence is it that planets move 
ail one and the same way in orbs concentric, while comets 
move all manner of ways in orbs very eccentric ? and what 
hinders the fixed stars from falling upon one another ? How 
came the bodies of animals to be contrived with so much art, 
and for what ends were their several parts ? Was the eye 
contrived without skill in optics, and the ear without know- 
ledge of sounds? How do the motions of the body follow 
from the will ? and whence is the instinct in animals ? Is not 
the sensory of animals that place to which the sensitive sub- 
stance is present, and into which the sensible species of things 
are carried through the nerves and brain, that there they may 
be perceived by their immediate presence to that substance ? 
And these things being rightly despatched, does it not appear 
from phenomena that there is a being incorporeal, living, in- 
telligent, omnipresent, who in infinite space, as it were in his 
sensory, sees the things themselves intimately, and thoroughly 
perceives them, and comprehends them wholly by their imme- 
diate presence to himself? Of which things the images only 
carried through the organs of sense into our little sensoriums, 
are there seen and beheld by that which in us perceives and 
thinks. And though every true step made in this philosophy 
brings us not immediately to the knowledge of the First Cause, 
yet it brings us nearer to it, and on that account is to be 
highly valued." , 

. Now, Newton here insists on an axiom as impossible to 
be evaded as any axiom of mathematical - or mechanical 
science. That, there is such an overwhelming evidence of 
design manifested wherever we can trace the laws of nature ; 
that this design compels us to admit beyond all these laws 
as their originator and ruler, an all- wise, omnipotent Law- 
giver, and ever-present Kuler. And this he carries out most 
fully in his " Principia/' where, showing that " the planets 
and comets will indeed persevere in their orbs bv the laws 


of gravity, but they could by no means obtain the regular 
situation of these orbs by those laws at first/' he argues 
that the design manifested in our solar system "could not 
have its origin from anything else than from the wise con- 
duct and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being ;" that 
this being is the supreme Lord God ; that he must have 
dominion or he could not be the supreme Lord God; "The 
supreme God is an eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect being, 
but a being, how perfect soever, without dominion, is not Lord 

The admission of design in the universe thus compelling the 
admission of a wise designer, we need not be surprised to find 
those who would eliminate the idea of a Creator, doing 
all they can to eliminate also the evidence of design. Newton 
asks, " Was the eye contrived without skill in optics ?" Mr. 
Darwin asserts that his law of " natural selection " shows how 
the eye was contrived without skill in optics. He makes 
this the crucial instance by which he tests the soundness of his 
hypothesis. He admits that if the eye required a contriver 
skilled in the laws of optics, his theory must fall to the 
ground ; and therefore he uses all his dialectic skill in urging 
a proposition which seems, he admits on the very face or 
it, to " be absurd in the highest possible degree," and that 
€t the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could 
be formed by natural selection " is insuperable even by our 

Dr. Biichner, who denies the existence of any design through- 
out the whole domain of nature, hails this answer of Darwin to 
Newton's query with delight. Now, let us listen patiently to 
him whom his followers hail as the Newton of the organic 
world, and see how his law of natural selection is to construct 
an eye without skill in optics ! 

" To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contriv- 
ances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admit- 
ting different amounts of light, and for the correction of 
spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed 
by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the 
highest possible degree. When it was first said that the sun 
stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of 
mankind declared the doctrine false ; but the old saying of 
Vox populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, can never be 
trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous grada- 
tions from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect 
and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be 
shown to exist ; if, further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, 
and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case ; 


and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful 
to an animal under changing conditions of fife, then the diffi- 
culty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be 
formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our ima- 
gination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes 
to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life 
itself first originated ; but I may remark that several facts 
make me suspect that nerves sensitive to touch may be made 
sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of 
the air which produce sound. In looking for the gradations 
by which an organ in any species has been perfected, we ought 
to look exclusively to its lineal ancestor^; but this is scarcely 
ever possible, and we are forced in each case to look to species 
of the same group, that is to the collateral descendants from 
the same original parent form, in order to see what gradations 
are possible, and for the chance of some gradations having 
been transmitted from the earlier stages of descent, in an un- 
altered or little altered condition. Amongst existent verte- 
brata, we find but a small amount of gradation in the structure 
of the eye; though in the fish amphioxus the eye is an ex- 
tremely simple condition without a lens ; and from fossit 
species we can learn nothing on this head. In this great 
class we should probably have to descend far beneath the 
lowest known fossiliferous stratum to discover the earlier 
stages by which the eye has been perfected. 

" In the great kingdom of the articulata we can start from 
an optic nerve, simply coated with pigment, which sometimes 
forms a sort of pupil, but is destitute of a lens or any other 
optical mechanism. From this rudimentary eye, which can 
distinguish light from darkness, but nothing else, there is an 
advance towards perfection along two lines of structure, which 
Miiller thought were fundamentally different ; namely, — firstly, 
stemmata, or the so-called € simple eyes/ which have a lens 
and cornea ; and secondly, ' compound eyes/ which seem to 
act mainly by excluding all the rays from each point of the 
object viewed ; except the pencil that comes in a line per- 
pendicular to the convex retina. In compound eyes besides 
endless differences in the form, proportion, number, and posi- 
tion of the transparent cones coated by pigment, and which 
act by exclusion, we have additions of a more or less perfect 
concentrating apparatus. Thus in the eye of the meloe the 
facets of the cornea are ' slightly convex, both externally and 
internally, that is, lens-shaped/ In many crustaceans there 
are two cornea, — the external smooth, and the internal divided 
into facets — within the substance of which, as Milne Edwards 
says, 'renflemens lenticulaires paraissent s'6tre de'veloppe's / 


and sometimes these lenses can be detached in a layer distinct 
from the cornea. The transparent cones coated with pigment, 
which were supposed by Muller to act solely by excluding 
divergent pencils of light, usually adhere to the cornea, but 
not rarely they are separate from it, and have their free ends 
convex ; and in this case they must act as converging lenses. 
Altogether so diversified is the structure of the compound 
eyes, that Muller makes three main classes, with no less than 
seven subdivisions of structure ; he makes a fourth main class, 
namely, ' aggregates ' of stemmata ; and he adds that ' this is 
the transition-form between the mosaic-like compound eyes 
unprovided with a concentrating apparatus, and the organs of 
vision with such an apparatus.' . 

€t With these facts, here too briefly and imperfectly given, 
which show how much graduated diversity there is in the eyes 
of our existing crustaceans, and bearing in mind how small 
the number of living animals is in proportion to those which 
have become extinct, I can see no very great difliculty (not 
more than in the case of many other structures) in believing 
that natural selection has converted the simple apparatus of 
an optic nerve merely coated with pigment and invested by 
transparent membrane, into an optical instrument as perfect 
as is possessed by any member of the great articulate class. 

"He who will go thus far, if he find on finishing this 
treatise that large bodies of facts, otherwise inexplicable, can 
be explained by the theory of descent, ought not to hesitate 
to go further, and to admit that a structure even as perfect as 
the eye of an eagle might be formed by natural selection, 
although in his case he does not know any of the transitional 

r*ades. His reason ought to conquer his imagination ; though 
have felt the difliculty far too keenly to be surprised at any 
degree of hesitation in extending the principle of natural selec- 
tion to such startling lengths. 

" It is scarcely possible to avoid comparing the eye to a 
telescope. We know that this instrument has been perfected 
by the long-continued efforts of the highest human intellects ; 
and we naturally infer that the eye has been formed by a 
somewhat analogous process. But may not this inference be 
presumptuous ? Have we any right to assume that the Creator 
works by intellectual powers like those of man ? If we must 
compare the eye to an optical instrument, we ought in imagi- 
nation to take a thick layer of transparent tissue, with spaces 
filled with fluid, and with a nerve sensitive to light beneath, and 
then suppose every part of this layer to be continually chang- 
ing slowly in density, so as to separate into layers of different 
densities and thicknesses, placed at different distances from 


each other, and with the surfaces of each layer slowly changing 
in form. Further, we must suppose that there is a power 
(natural selection) always intently watching each slight acci- 
dental alteration in the transparent layers; and carefully 
selecting each alteration which, under varied circumstances, 
may in any way or in any degree tend to produce a distincter 
image. We must suppose each new state of the instru- 
ment to be multiplied by the million, and each to be preserved 
till a better be produced, and then the old ones to be destroyed. 
In living bodies, variation will cause the slight alteration, 
generation will multiply them almost infinitely, and natural 
selection .will pick out with unerring skill each improvement. 
Let this process go on for millions on millions of years, and 
during each year on millions of individuals of many kinds ; 
and may we not believe that a living optical instrument might 
thus be formed as superior to one of glass, as the works of the 
Creator are to those of man ? 

- " If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ ex- 
isted which could not possibly have been formed by numerous 
successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely 
break down. But I can find no such case. No doubt, many 
organs exist of which we do not know the transitional grades, 
more especially if we look to much-isolated species, round which, 
according to my theory, there has been much extinction ; or, 
again, if we look to an organ common to all the members of a 
large class, — for in this latter case the organ must have been 
first formed at an extremely remote period, since which all the 
many members of the class have been developed, — and in order 
to discover the early transitional grades through which the 
organ has passed, we should have to look to very ancient an- 
cestral forms, long since become extinct." 

Now, after carefully studying Mr. Darwin's own arguments 
for the formation of the eye without skill in optics, I must 
confess that they fail to convince me in the slightest degree. 
They are founded on monstrous assumptions utterly unsup- 
ported by fact. They assume that any variation, however 
slight, of any animal organ'can be transmitted by inheritance. 
That there are no natural limits whatever to this transmission ; 
while all experience and all our knowledge go to prove that 
there are limits that cannot be passed. That the tendency, 
even of those deviations produced by man's art in the animal 
and vegetable world, as admitted by Darwin himself, is ever 
to revert to the type from whence they proceeded rather than 
to diverge ad infinitum. That this law of natural selection 
does by no means account for myriads of facts in nature 
directly opposed to it. "Take," says Sir John Herschel, 


"for an instance, the formative nisus, which determines the 
production of a supernumerary finger in the human hand. 
Here is no gradual change from generation to generation ; no 
first development of a rudimentary joint followed in slow 
succession after centuries of hereditary improvement, by the 
others, up to the perfect member : it starts at once into com- 
pleteness. The change in the working-plan of the whole 
hand has been carried out at' once, by a systematic en- 
graftment of blood-vessels and nerves into effective con- 
nections with the centres of nutritive, mechanical, and sensitive 
action in the frame, as if by some preconceived arrangement." 

Again : Mr. Darwin's millions of millions of imperfect micro- 
scopes and telescopes, ascending by slow and imperceptible 
stages from the accidentally exposed nerve of some primeval 
animal, exist nowhere in fact, but only in his own fertile 
imagination. He points out eyes among the radiata he calls 
imperfect. Are they really so ? We judge the perfection of 
an organ not so much by its mechanical structure as its adapta- 
tion to the wants of its possessor. For some creatures the 
simplest form of an organ may be better adapted than the 
most complicated. Again : if I regard the law of natural 
selection of accidental varieties propagated by inheritance 
from ah individual as a mathematician ; if I regard that law 
as the producer of so complicated an organ as the eye, with its 
innumerable contrivances to effect its object, the laws of pro- 
bability' compel me at once to reject such a proposition as 
monstrous, from its inherent improbability. And this, too, 
assuming as proved that which so many facts contradict, that 
any accidental variety can be propagated by inheritance with- 
out any limitation. 

How is it, we may ask again, that this law of natural 
selection has been so bountiful as to supply some individuals 
with almost countless myriads of eyes, and so great a number 
with only two ? How are we to account for this without the 
intervention of some other law, regulated and fixed by design ? 
But let us view the formation of the eye by this law of natural 
selection from another aspects How does it account for the 
formation of any single existing eye we may select as an 
example. I know, for instance, that each of my eyes has 
been elaborated from one fluid — from blood. There was a time 
when my eyes had no existence. Have they passed through 
millions of millions of imperfect instruments, correcting their 
imperfections by the stern law of natural selection upon penalty 
of loss of existence ? No. The marvellous lenses, constructed 
so as to defy their imitation by human skill, have been formed, 
without trial and error, on the strictest principles of mathematical 


accuracy. They have taken forms which no geometer, no ana- 
lytical integrates, could divine, — forms which, even arrived at 
approximately by our imperfect mathematical analysis, we could 
not imitate mechanically. Possessing, too, just those refractive 
indices which are adapted, in combination with those forms, to 
secure a minimum, indeed, for aught I know, a perfect degree 
of absence of spherical and chromatio aberration. Possessed, 
again, with an inexplicable power of adapting their form to 
the perfect vision of a star in infinite space, and to an object 
removed but a few inches from them. Supplied, again, with a 
self-acting diaphragm sensitive to light — not for vision, but 
for contracting and expanding — so as to adapt the rays of 
light admitted into the marvellous camera obscura in such 
quantities only as are adapted to secure the proper impression 
on the retina. Need I refer to the black pigment for absorbing 
superfluous light; to all the accessories of the wondrous 
camera obscura ; to the muscles which move it with mechanical . 
design and contrivance ; to the lids which veil it from light 
too injurious to be admitted into the dark chamber; to the 
contrivances for preserving the transparency of the external 
surface of the transparent cornea with a never-failing supply of 
moisture ? 

Where am I to seek for the architects of this wondrous ex- 
hibition of skill and contrivance ? Is it in the blood corpuscles 
or in the fluid in which they swim ? The N blood certainly was 
the agent by which all this structure was built up, with fault- 
less, unerring accuracy, by no law of natural selection by the 
destruction of less perfect instruments. If I ask modern 
physiologists as to the structure of my eye, I am told it is like 
a fountain, which preserves its general form amid the unceas- 
ing motion of the particles which form it. The atoms which 
form my eye are constantly being laid down and taken up 
again. Constantly deposited from the vital stream of blood 
flowing through my body ; as constantly taken up again into 
the general stream. Let this stream stop, and the marvellous 
structure from that instant commences to fall into irretrievable 
ruin. Where, I may ask, is the formative nisus which erected 
this skilful structure ? Where dwells the constant formative 
nisus which preserves this structure when once it is built up ? 
What architect endows the atoms which constitute the structure 
with such* marvellous powers ? Why do the same corpuscles 
which form the ear, with its marvellous auditory purposes, 
when they reach another part of the body, become such skilled 
artists in optical wisdom ? Why in one part of the organ form 
lenses possessed with one refractive index, in another part of 
another, and then a third, every one mutually adapted amid a 


thousand, nay, myriads, of possible different refractive indices ? 
What chemistry could combine the atoms constituting the 
blood into the differing structures of the eye? If formed, 
what mechanism could combine these structures with all their 
marvellous adaptation to the purposes of the eye ? Can natural 
selection, ruled only by the stern necessity of destruction to 
the imperfect, answer these queries ? No. Nor yet will the 
laws of vitality alone, superadded to the laws of chemical com- 
bination of the atoms of matter, answer my questions. My 
proud intellect can find no rest, till it learns the humility 
necessary for all true knowledge. I must admit that the eye 
was not formed without skill in optics ; that the ear was not 
formed without knowledge of sounds. Can atoms of matter 
do all this ? What are these atoms ? How do they act and 
react on one another? What are their mutual relations? 
" These same relations," says Sir J. Herschel, " in which 
they stand to one another are anything but simple ones. They 
involve all the € ologies ' and all the e ometries/ and in these 
days we know something of what that implies. Their move- 
ments, their interchanges, their € hates and loves/ their ' at- 
tractions and repulsions/ their ' correlations/ their what not, 
are all determined on the very instant. There is no hesita- 
tion, no blundering, no trial and error. A problem of dy- 
namics, which would drive Lagrange mad, is solved instanter, 
€ Solvitur ambulando.' A differential equation which, alge- 
braically written out, would belt, the earth, is integrated in an 
eye -twinkle, and all the numerical calculation worked out in a 
way to frighten Zerah Colborn, George Bidder, or Jedediah 
Buxton." What can solve such wonders as these? what 
account for such relations ? " The presence of mind is what 
solves the whole difficulty, so far, at least, as it brings it 
within the sphere of our own consciousness, and into con- 
formity of our own experience of what actwn is" 

The most profound investigations into the laws and phe- 
nomena of nature, aided by all the powers of the human mind, 
assisted by all we know of human experience, bring us back, not 
to law, but the mind of the Lawgiver, as the only starting-point, 
the only-stand point, from which our reason can exercise itself. 
He that made the eye was skilled in optics. He said, €€ Let 
there be light, and there was light." He alone can say, " I 
form the light and create darkness." " I am the Lord, and 
there is none else, there is no God beside me. I girded 
thee, though thou hast not known me." Shall not we say 
with Job, " Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled 
me like cheese ? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, 
and hast fenced me with bones and sinews *" ? Shall we not 


confess with David, " Such knowledge is too wonderful for 
me ; it is high, I cannot attain unto it " ? " The darkness hideth 
not from Thee ; but the night shineth as the day : the darkness 
and the light are both alike to Thee. For Thou hast possessed 
my reins : Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I 
will praise Thee ; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made : 
marvellous are thy works ; and that my soul knoweth right 
well. My substance was not hid from Thee when I was 
made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of 
the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being im- 
perfect ; and in Thy book all my members were written, which 
in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of 
them " ? 

The assertion " that the gradual reduction of all phenomena 
within the sphere of established law carries with it as a con- 
sequence the rejection of the miraculous," upon which asser- 
tion modern rationalism has invaded the domain of theology 
and natural philosophy, has only to be* brought face to face 
with the highest inductions of modern science to meet its own 
refutation. We are not required to banish God, to banish a 
Creator from the physical world, to cultivate with freedom the 
revelations of modern science. The assumed laws which re- 
place design by rigid fate, crumble before a calm, dispassionate 
investigation. As men of science, we can say that we believe 
not only that God created us and all things ; we can confess 
even with heathen poets of old, " that in Him we live and move 
and have our being." That no disbelief in the miraculous, no 
knowledge of correlation of forces, no conservation of vis 
vitce compels us to deny that " He left not Himself without 
witness in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, 
filling our hearts with food and gladness." Our philosophy 
still allows us with simple hearts to pray, " Give us this day 
our daily bread/' We can still believe that no sparrow can 
fall from heaven without our Heavenly Father's knowledge 
and will. Nay, the more we know, the more deeply we in- 
vestigate the phenomena of nature, the more are we compelled 
to admit our own ignorance. " Hardly do we guess aright at 
things that are upon earth, and with labour do we find the 
things that are before us/' Laws of nature we confess, with 
Hooker, have in them " more than men have as yet attained 
to know, or perhaps ever shall attain, seeing the travail of 
wading herein is given of God to the sons of men, that per- 
ceiving how much the least thing in the world hath in it more 
than the wisest are able to reach unto, they might by this 
means learn with humility." Humbly we confess, with Bishop 
Butler, u other orders of creatures may perhaps be let into the 


secret counsels of Heaven, and have the designs and methods 
of Providence in the creation and government of the world 
communicated to them, but this does not belong to our rank 
and condition." 

Of one thing I feel the deepest conviction, that nothing 
man has yet discovered, no length to which science has been 
pursued, has at all educed any principle diametrically opposed 
to the truths of religion ; any principle like law destroying 
the idea of creation and design which should lead us to regard 
Moses in no higher light than a Hebrew Descartes or a 
Newton. > 

It isalleged, however, that modern science has produced a great 
number of facts utterly irreconcileable with revelation. These 
so-called facts are derived, for the most part, from the sciences of 
geology, ethnology, anthropology, and philology. Now, I need 
not detain you by any lengthened argument in opposition to 
these statements. The able pamphlet entitled <€ Scientia Seien- 
tiarum," giving an account of the origin and objects of the 
Victoria Institute, has so fully entered into this branch of the 
subject, and is so well known to you, that I need not waste 
your time by repeating the long array of supposed contradic- 
tions between the facts of science and the records of revealed 
truth which have fallen before a dispassionate review of the 
progress of science. Kevelation has oftentimes suffered 
much by the over-zeal — laudable though it be in itself — of its 
defenders accepting crude scientific theories as demonstrated 
facts. I have watched the progress of modern science with 
much satisfaction, as I have seen one supposed contradiction of 
science to revelation after another fall away. The infant sciences 
in their imperfect stage have presented difficulties to revelatiori 
which their advanced progress has of itself removed. The 
pursuit of this inquiry ; the investigation of facts alleged to 
be in opposition to revelation ; the examination of the contra- 
dictory and conflicting hypotheses of all the principal "ologies" 
of the day, is the work to which this Institute proposes to 
devote itself. I feel no doubt as to the result. I believe the 
more intimately we study the book of nature, hard as it is to 
read aright, difficult as its hieroglyphics are to decipher, yet, 
if we do so in a humble spirit, I doubt not its records will con- 
firm the records of the Bible ; in that faith I will venture to 
conclude my address, in the words of Bishop Butler : — 

" Let us adore that infinite wisdom, and power, and good- 
ness, which is above our comprehension. € To whom hath the 
root of wisdom been revealed ? or who hath known her wise 
counsels ? There is one wise and greatly to be feared ; the 
Lord sitting upon His throne. He created her, and saw her, 


and numbered her, and poured her out upon all his works/ If 
it be thought a considerable thing to be acquainted with a 
few, a- very few, of the effects of infinite power and wisdom, 
the situation, bigness, and revolution of some of the heavenly 
bodies, what sentiments should our minds be filled with con- 
cerning Him whp appointed to each its place, and measure, and 
sphere of motion, all which are kept with the most uniform 
constancy ? Who ' stretched out the heavens, and telleth th& 
number of the stars, and calleth them all by their names ? 
Who laid the foundations of the earth, who comprehendeth 
the dust of it in a measure, and weigheth the mountains in 
scales and the hills in a balance ?' And when we have recounted 
all the appearances which come within our view, we must add, 
' Lo, these are parts of His ways ; but how little a portion is 
heard of Him ? Canst thou by searching find out God ? Canst 
thou find out the Almighty unto perfection ? It is high as 
Heaven ; what canst thou do ? Deeper than Hell ; what canst 
thou know V The conclusion is, that in all lowliness of mind we 
set lightly by ourselves ; that we form our temper to an im- 
plicit submission to the Divine Majesty ; beget within ourselves 
an absolute resignation to all the methods of His providence, 
in His dealings with the children of men ; that in the deepest 
humility of our souls, we prostrate ourselves before Him, and 
join in that celestial song, — 

* Great and marvellous are Thy works, 
Lord God Almighty ! Just and true 
Are Thy ways, thou King of saints ! 
Who shall not fear thee, Lord, and 
Glorify thy name.' " 

Major-General Crawford said, that in rising to move a vote of thanks 
to the Kev. Mr. Mitchell for his very able and admirable paper, he was fully 
aware that he was speaking in the presence of a number of gentlemen of 
high literary attainments and deep scientific knowledge. It was because he 
could lay claim to no such acquirements that he undertook the duty of 
moving a vote of thanks to the rev. gentleman who had just sat down. He 
felt that any person who possessed the power of grappling with such subjects 
of thought and magnitude, and clearly arranging the interesting facts which 
were recorded in the paper then read, so as to reduce them to his (General 
Crawford's) intelligent appreciation, was entitled to his gratitude. He had 
ever felt convinced that a thorough grasp and mastery of a subject was neces- 
sary to simplification. When, then, he looked upon the millions in this 
country who were upon the same platform as himself as to mental power, 
and at the thousands who were now busy distilling the poison of doubt and 


scepticism amongst them, he could not help rising to express how grateful he 
felt to the Eev. Mr. Mitchell for the simple and transparent, as well as deep 
reasoning, which had characterized his opening address. (Applause.) He had 
thus given a prestige to the Society, and developed powers which were 
essential to dealing with the thinking middle classes. When he thought of 
the numbers, lay and clerical, who were using the influence which some ac- 
quaintance with the theories of science gave them, to create a disbelief in the 
truths of Christianity, he rejoiced to find that a society had been established 
whose special object was carefully to examine how far the supposed truths 
of science had been ascertained. He was convinced that the more light was 
poured upon the pages, both of nature and of revelation, the more they 
would be found to be harmoniously at one. (Hear, hear.) It was lamentable 
to see men vieing with one another who should be first to use the very intel- 
lects God had given them, to revive old infidel grounds of objection and 
undermine the credibility of His Holy Word ! A wide sphere of usefulness 
was before the Society ; and he was satisfied that their labours in the cause 
which they advocated would be productive of the most beneficial results. 
He hoped they would steadily apply themselves to the work which they had 
undertaken ; but, for the success of their efforts, look to the blessing of Him, 
in whom, the more his works were studied, the more clearly it became mani- 
fest they were ."by Him. and for Him," in whom we also ourselves "lived, 
moved, and had our being." He begged to move that the thanks of the 
meeting be given to the Rev. Mr. Mitchell for his very eloquent and 
instructive address. (Cheers.) 

The Eev. Robinson Thornton, D.D., Head Master of Epsom College, 
seconded the motion, and said the satisfaction which he felt in doing so was 
considerably enhanced by the fact of his knowing that the gentleman who 
read the address was a member of his own profession. He thought the lively 
gratitude, as well as the formal thanks, of the members of the Society was 
due to the rev. gentleman. (IJear, hear.) A work which is well begun is half 
done* (Hear, hear.) And seeing that the- work which was undertaken by 
the Society was so successfully inaugurated, he thought th<*y might consider 
it was half done already. (Hear, hear.) The great books of nature and reve- 
lation had, as it were, been spread out before mankind, and some persons had 
been scribbling on them. Leaving theological critics to clear away the stains 
which had been made on the Book of Revelation, it would be the duty of 
their Society to wipe off the marks from the Book of Nature. He trusted 
they would be enabled to accomplish the task they had undertaken, and to 
prove to the world that nothing which was found in that Book was incon- 
sistent with the truth revealed in the other. (Hear, hear.) He had much 
pleasure in seconding the vote of thanks to the rev. gentleman for the able 
address which he had delivered, and the courteous but ruthless logic with 
which he had demolished the arguments of those who were opposed to his 
views. (Hear, hear.) 

The motion was put from the chair, and was carried with applause. 

The Rev. Mr. Mitchell having briefly acknowledged the compliment, 



Captain Fishbourne rose, and said he had much pleasure in moving 
that the thanks of the meeting be given to the Earl of Shaftesbury, not only 
for his kindness in presiding on that occasion, but for the encouragement and 
support which he had given* to the Society from its beginning. A great re- 
luctance was manifested by some persons to take the initiative in matters of 
that kind, for he who first stepped out became a marked man, and assumed 
a very great responsibility. Whatever that risk was, the noble Earl incurred 
it, and thus far put in peril some of his well-earned fame. He thought, 
therefore, that their best thanks were due to the noble chairman for coming 
forward as he had done in support of the Society. (Hear, hear.) 

The Rev. A. db la Mare, in seconding the proposition, said he fully 
endorsed the observations made by Captain Fishbourne with regard to the 
debt of gratitude which they owed to the noble Earl for the readiness and 
earnestness with which he had eome forward to assist in the formation of the 
Society. (Hear, hear.) The extent of that debt could only be rightly esti- 
mated by those who had all along co-operated in, and anxiously watched over 
its rise ; and, as one of those, he bore willing testimony to the value of his 
Lordship's early and continuous services. All knew that the noble EarPs 
name was connected with very many great and good works ; but, amongst 
them all, he believed that in no greater or better work than that proposed to 
be effected by the Victoria Institute had his Lordship been engaged, or one 
which would hereafter more ennoble his name. In his own estimation, this 
was one of the noblest and holiest works undertaken in this country for a 
long time. (Hear, hear.) The Society would doutbless have to encounter 
much opposition and to contend with difficulties of no ordinary character. It 
was, however, very satisfactory to know that it numbered already amongst its 
members men fully competent to take part in the work in which the Society 
was engaged, of which they had had ample proof in the admirable paper to 
which they had just listened. (Hear, hear.) He would have wished to have 
offered one or two remarks on the absolute necessity for the formation of the 
Society they had now inaugurated under such promising circumstances, and 
the position which they might justifiably expect it hereafter to hold ; but the 
time had arrived when the programme for the day required that they should 
adjourn to another place, and he would therefore content himself with merely 
seconding, and he did so with all his heart, the vote of thanks to the noble 
lord who presided. (Hear, hear.) 

The motion was carried by acclamation. 

The Earl of Shaftesbury, in reply, said that no thanks were due to 
him for the little services which he had rendered. He had been more than 
compensated for his attendance at the meeting by the eloquent address which 
had been delivered. He had been instructed and delighted, and his heart 
had been cheered, by what he had heard. He had felt very deeply the pro- 
gress of opinions, against which the arguments of the rev. gentleman were 
directed, and he had seen how fatally blasting had been their effects upon the 
mind of the better educated class of society as wall as upon the great mass 


of the people. And, as the great mass of the people must eventually rule 
this country, it was for those who desired the happiness and prosperity of 
these realms, to endeavour to resist the growth of opinions, which, if allowed 
to be general, would be attended with the most ruinous consequences to 
society. It had given him great joy of heart to hear the eloquent, noble, and 
excellent Inaugural Address read by the Rev. Mr. Mitchell, because, as had 
been observed by a previous speaker, a work well begun was half done. 
(Hear.) It was a very good beginning, and promised well for the future of 
the Society. (Hear.) He spoke of the address, not only with regard to the 
agglomeration of facts* which it contained, and the powerful reasoning by 
which its arguments were enforced, but for its daring boldness. (Hear, hear.) 
It contained no nonsense nor diplomatic language of any kind, but it went 
straight forward to the points in dispute, and combated them one after 
another with a force of logic which* was really invincible. (Hear, hear.) It 
should not be supposed that this Society wished to curb the efforts of science. 
(Hear, hear.) On the contrary, they desire to give it every encouragement. 
He wished it to be clearly understood that, the more science was examined, 
and the deeper men plunged into its depths, and the more facts they elicited 
on the subject, the more their Society would be gratified. (Hear, hear.) They 
were quite confident that the Word of God was quite consistent with the 
truths of science, — that, in fact, the one would be strengthened by a know- 
ledge of the other. He was delighted that the Society had been formed, and 
he would be very happy to give all the assistance in his power to enable them 
to carry out the good work which they had undertaken. (Hear, hear.) 
This concluded the business of the meeting. 


The Members and Associates, with their friends (numbering sixty-four, 
besides Ladies), afterwards dined together at Willis's Rooms, to celebrate 
the inauguration of the Society; the Earl of Shaftesbury, K.G., President, 
in the Chair, and Robert Nicholas Fowler, Esq., Vice-Chairman. 

Grace was said by the Rev. Dr. Thornton ; and after dinner a thanksgiving 
was chanted. 

The Chairman then rose and proposed the toast of " The Queen," and in 
doing so expressed a hope that her Majesty would some day become the 
patron of the Society. (Cheers.) 

The toast was loyally drunk. 

Air. — " God Save the Queen," rendered by a choir of vocalists, with piano- 
forte accompaniment by Mr Maxwell Miiller. 

The Chairman next gave " The Health of the Prince and Princess of 
Wales, and the rest of the Royal Family." He was sure they were all ex- 
ceedingly gratified at seeing that his Royal Highness was following in the 
footsteps of his lamented father, and the encouragement which he extended 
to literature, science, and art. (Cheers.) 

The toast was duly honoured. 
Air.—" Hail, Prince of Wales." 

The Chairman again rose, and proposed the toast of " The Army and 
Kavy and the Volunteer8, ,, with which he coupled the names of General 
Lawrence and Admiral Halsted. 
The toast was drunk with the usual honours. 
General Lawrence briefly responded on behalf of the Army. 
Admiral Halsted acknowledged the toast on behalf of the Navy, and said 
he was glad to see a member of the profession to which he belonged (Captain 
Fishbourne) taking an active part in promoting so useful a society as the 
Victoria Institute. The officers of the navy would always be found ready to 
do their duty to their country. (Cheers.) 

Mr. William M'Arthur proposed the next toast, which he said was one 
that he was sure would receive at the hands of the company the most hearty 
and cordial sympathy. It was " The progress of Christianity at home and 
abroad." (Hear, hear.) He felt that this was a very inviting theme upon 
which to speak, but as the toast would be responded to by three distinguished 
clergymen whose names were well known to the assembly, he thought he 
would be overstepping his duty if he were to occupy the meeting with any 
lengthened observations. He might, however, say that the progress of 
Christianity, whether at home or abroad, was associated with their dearest 
interests. (Hear, hear.) If England owed to anything her greatness, and her 
power, and her influence amongst the nations of the world, it was to the 
progress of Christianity. (Hear, hear.) It was the source of her happiness, 
and the fountain from which flowed all the prosperity enjoyed by her people. 
(Hear, hear.) He believed that at the present time there existed in this 
country more activity, more devotedness, more earnestness, and more zeal in 
promoting the great cause of Christianity, than at any other period of her 
history ; and while they had to deplore the necessity which existed for their 
labours, they had to rejoice at the various agencies which were at work in 
this country for the promotion of the best interests of society at large, by the 
diffusion of the blessings of our common Christianity. (Hear, hear.) They 
had also to rejoice at the triumphs of the Gospel in every part of the world, 
and the great success with which God has been pleased to crown the efforts 
of the missionaries sent forth from this country. (Hear, hear.) One great 
feet had been brought out in bold relief by the labours of those who went to 
preach Christianity, and that was that God had made of one blood all nations 
of men who dwell on the face of the earth. In every part of the world, 
whether they went to the polished European or the uncultivated African ; 
whether they went to Asia or America, to the Fejee or the Friendly Islands, it 
did not matter where, they found Christianity produced the same effect on 
all. (Hear, hear.) How beneficial, then, was the result of the efforts made to 
extend it to all parts of the globe ! He did not doubt that a cause so noble 
would always meet with support in this country. (Hear, hear.) He had much 
pleasure in proposing the toast, with which he would associate the names of 
the Rev. Dr. Irons, the Rev. Mr. Boyce, and the Rev. Mr. Trestrail. 


The toast met with a hearty reception. 

The Rev. Dr. Irons responded ^He said it was usual at meetings of this 
public kind to propose a toast in connection with the Established Church, . 
and call on some clergyman present to respond to it. There had been on 
this occasion an intentional departure from that order ; and he thought it a 
wise departure ; for they were not met together in the sectional interest of 
any one portion of the great Christian community. (Hear, hear.) If he had 
had to return thanks only as a minister of the Church of England, it would 
have been his duty to imitate the example of preceding speakers, and limit 
himself to the briefest acknowledgment of their kindness. He should not, 
however, be fulfilling the purpose for which he had been asked to rise, if he 
took such a course. The object which they had in iriew was sacred to all 
Christians — they desired the " progress of our religion at home and abroad,' 1 
and he would be unworthy of the honour they conferred on him, if he treated 
it lightly. If, indeed, he occupied more of their time than those who had 
addressed them, he must ask them to attribute it to the nature of the task 
they had imposed on him. The progress of Christianity was identified with 
the progress of the well-being of human nature ; and although the term 
u progress " was frequently used in a sense" which he should repudiate, he 
was glad they had adopted the phrase On this occasion, because it had a true 
meaning of its own, which he would wish, if permitted, to urge on their 
notice. There were those who ventured to imply that Christianity was even 
an obstacle to progress. He would not shrink from meeting their charge 
against our religion. They apparently wished Christianity to undergo some 
organic change, and regarded all adherence t» existing forms as obstructive. 
In their sense of the word no doubt, then, our Christianity was opposed to 
progress. We have no idea of our religion so progressing as to be changed 
into something new ; but we believe that its advancement in influence will 
be a blessing to the world, and wish that its truths may be more fully received, 
and its precepts more widely practised. And there is a still further sense in 
which we assert that our religion is essential to all true progress, both 
intellectual and moral. The modifications of thought which are going on in 
all subjects may explain my meaning. This is called an age of progress. Thus 
in politics, we are so changing that it is difficult now to recognize the parties 
familiar to our fathers fifty years ago. A man calls himself a Conservative — 
but you really cannot now tell what it is he wishes to conserve. (Hear, hear, 
and laughter.) Or he calls himself a Radical, and you just perceive that he 
wishes to root up something, but what, it is impossible to tell. (Laughter.) 
He calls himself a Liberal, and you are wholly at a loss to understand him — 
for I suppose we are all in a sense " liberals." The truth is, that the natural 
progress of events is unsettling all things. And something analogous to this 
is going on in religion. Christianity of the kind which prevailed in many 
quarters half a century since, scarcely is to be found in our days. Then 
there has been brought to bear on the public mind, both at home and abroad, a 
disintegrating criticism which tends to destroy the very foundations of our 
faith. We watch this course of events with anxiety — not for the sake of 



the Revelation itself, but for the sake of the untaught multitudes who are 
injured by the processes of change which they are not competent to deal with. 
. The generality of persons are not educated up to the point where they can 
satisfactorily grapple with error ; and till tbey are educated, they will be at the 
mercy of charlatans in religion, and criticism, and science. As Christians, 
then, it is our business to promote education, and so promote religious pro- 
gress in the truest and highest sense. (Hear, hear.) Great changes, too, are 
constantly going on in science, and the public at large are unable to test 
those changes, and will be so, until education is far more widely extended. 
In the mean time it is most necessary that there should be some means of 
watching the progress of knowledge, and protecting the many from the hasty 
theories of the. few — theories changing every month. The Philosophical 
Institute to which they belonged would aim constantly at this, in the interest 
of truth. The Christian knows that his religion has been the fountain of civiliza- 
tion in time past, and doubts not the future. While their principles are in- 
deed immutable, — for " Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for 
ever," — their religion has formed the life of nations and generations most 
wonderfully and variously for 1800 years. The very founding of Christianity 
was the dawning of a new light on civilization. There never was a period in 
the world's progress in which there was so widely spread a scepticism in 
faith and morals as in the days of Augustus Caesar. If nothing had been 
divinely done to arrest the moral decay of the Empire, the ruin must have 
been total for human nature. If by a stretch of imagination we could con- 
ceive what the world would have become, say by the time of Constantine, if 
Christianity had not been at *vork, we might have some idea of what our 
religion has done for human progress. It would be surely a frightful con- 
templation : — a world possessing all the arts of civilization, without principle: — 
it would be a scene well-nigh diabolical ! If some of our men of genius 
would give us a book delineating " the possible fourth century of our era without 
Christianity," tbey would be better employed than in writing fancy " lives of 
Christ." (Hear.) It was a very wide subject, he would remind them, which he 
thus glanced at, when he asked them to mark the connection of our religion 
with all civilization, for some 1,800 years since it began. He could not enlarge 
on it. He would only recall to them, that in the monastic system of the middle 
ages — in the practice of the Councils or representative assemblies of the Church 
— in the preservation of all past literature, Greek and Roman — in the forming 
of all the educational institutes of the world, Christianity had led, or 
preserved, the civilization and progress of modern Europe. Then, what 
were the great missionary efforts of the Church ? Did they not lead the way 
to the truest progress of the nations — even though we may not attribute to 
the saintly missionaries all the miracles their historians tell of? Now, was 
it not amazing to hear it said, in opposition to all history and fact, that the 
clergy were natural enemies of progress 1 He had spoken of government and 
law, and literature, but he would say more: he would claim a place for 
Christianity in the promotion both of science and art also. The great art and 
science (he would call it) of our own nation— the cotton manufacture of 


England—had received its first great impulse fr6m a clergyman, Thomas 
Cartwright, the inventor of the spinning-jenny. So also of the first applica- 
tions of steam. Copernicus, too, the glory of our modern astronomy, was a 
country clergyman ; Berkeley, the great teacher of the foundations of our 
modern optics, was a bishop. But he must not occupy them at greater length, 
or he might mention that Sir Charles Eastlake attributed to the clergy the 
best implements of his art. He would, then, in conclusion, assert for Chris- 
tianity its entire fearlessness of the fullest use of reason, and the honest 
investigations of science. He was glad to hear that same fearlessness avowed 
by their noble President, at their late meeting in another place. Let the clergy 
occupy, as hitherto, and with increasing zeal, the field of literature, and they 
would be able to defend the truth more effectually than by any of the 
methods of coercion or repression. Even the discipline of the Church had 
utterly passed away, and could not bo relied on for the strife with false teaching 
or false science. The weapons ready for our use in the world still, are those 
of Literature : weapons of reason, and faith, and research. Let them be — as 
they assuredly will be — earnestly used, and he had no fear as to the " progress 
of Christianity at home and abroad." — He begged to thank them for the 
honour they had done him in associating his name with this toast, and the 
attention and kindness with which they had received what he had said. 

The Rev. Mr. Boycb also responded to the toast. He said that, as the 
secretary of one of the largest missionary societies established in this country 
-^-the Wesleyan — he could not allow the toast to pass without a few brief 
observations on the subject to which it referred. About twenty years ago, a 
Scotch divine characterized the period in which we lived as an age of " little 
men and little measures." He was of opinion that the sarcasm was hardly 
deserved, and that Dr. Chalmers forgot at the time the work which had been 
doing in extending Christianity. (Hear, hear.) He would call attention for 
a few moments to what had been done by the Universities , mission in Central 
Africa. He was himself a returned missionary from that country, where he 
had spent fourteen years, and — though a sectarian in a certain sense, but not 
in his own sense of the term (hear, hear) — he had taken the greatest interest 
in the Universities' mission. Though those who were connected with it might 
differ with him on some ritualistic questions, he felt that they were entitled to 
his warmest sympathy and respect. (Hear.) He had known Bishop Mackenzie, 
who was at the head of the mission, to walk some thirty or forty miles a day 
under the scorching sun of Africa, to preach the Gospel to the poor Africans ; 
and he felt that he was a saint. (Hear, hear.) Let them, therefore, put him 
down in their calendar as " St. Mackenzie," and he would be very glad to com- 
memorate the festival. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) He believed the labours 
of the mission had been attended with the best results ; and the example 
which had been set had a very good effect on other missions in the country, 
and the best results were produced. (Hear, hear.) There were several 
missions which had been blessed with very great success, as the Baptist 
Mission in India, though the dangers to which the missionaries were exposed 


were very great. He might also mention the Wesleyan Mission in the Fejee 
Islands, which was very successful. He thought the instances of self-devotion 
to which he alluded were sufficient in themselves to vindicate the character 
of the age from the charge of " littleness " in its men or in their measures. 
(Hear, hear.) One of the greatest benefits conferred by Christianity was the 
influence which it exercised on the conduct of the worst savages. It raised 
them from the most barbarous state to the dignity of manhood, and rendered 
them susceptible of all the influences of civilization. (Hear, hear.) He had 
formed the acquaintance of a Kaffir while in Africa, with whom he still kept 
up a correspondence, and he was one of the noblest specimens of a Christian 
man which he had ever met with in his life. (Hear, hear.) He concluded by 
thanking the company for the manner in which they had received the toast. 

(The Rev. Mr. Trestrail, whose name was also associated with the toast, 
was unexpectedly absent.) 

The Chairman then rose and said, the next toast which he had to give was 
the toast of the evening — " Prosperity to the Victoria Institute." He thought 
that, with God's blessing, there could be very little doubt of its prosperity, 
if they were enabled to have a series of papers such as that which they had 
heard that evening. (Hear.) They would then be provided with such an 
armoury, in which every weapon both for attack and defence would be found, 
as would leave them and the great truths of Christianity unharmed in any day 
of trouble, rebuke, or blasphemy. (Hear, hear.) He gave them the toast, 
which he thought it unnecessary to recommend to their favourable notice, 
and, associated with it, he would give them the health of Mr. Alexander 
M'Arthur and Captain Fishbourne. (Cheers.) 

The toast was enthusiastically drunk. 

Mr. Alexander M'Arthur, in responding, said it was growing late, and 
as the meeting would be addressed by a number of other gentlemen who 
could occupy their time more profitably than he could do, he would not 
detain them with any long remarks. Amongst those who were to speak 
after him were Mr. Reddie and Captain Fishbourne, who were the originators 
of the Society. (Hear, hear.) He would not, therefore, trespass on the pro- 
vince of those gentlemen, who could point out the objects of the Society, and 
explain its usefulness, with much more ability than he was able to bring to 
bear on the subject. He begged to thank the noble lord who presided for the 
manner in which he had proposed the toast, and the com|>any for the manner 
in which it had been received. Speaking for himself personally — and he be- 
lieved he was also expressing the opinion of every member of the Council— he 
might state that their inability to commence the regular business of the 
Society at an earlier period than they had done, had been a source of much 
regret and disappointment. A variety of circumstances combined to cause 
the delay. He need not enter into any explanation upon that occasion, 
further than to say, that many of the circumstances were entirely beyond 
their controul. He was glad that the operations of the Society had been com- 
menced, and he thought he might congratulate the members and friends of 
the Institute upon having so good a beginning. He thought he might also 


congratulate them upon the statement in the Report with respect to the large 
number of members who had already joined, and which was almost unpre- 
cedented in a new society. He believed, now that the Institute was estab- 
lished, the number of members would go on increasing. (Hear, hear.) No 
society could have had a more satisfactory " Inaugural Address." He thought 
the commencement which they had made was excellent— that failure was now 
next to impossible. A wide field was open to them, and the necessity which 
existed for some such society as theirs had long been felt. It filled up a gap 
which had been open between scientific societies, which ignored religion 
altogether, and theological societies, which did not profess to discuss scientific 
subjects. He was aware that a number of literary and scientific societies 
existed in London, all doing good service in their own spheres ; but it some- 
times happened that questions bearing upon the truths of revelation were 
under discussion, and many unnecessary accusations were made against it by 
some who were regarded as scientific men. But gentlemen who attempted to 
defend revelation were placed at a great disadvantage, because they were 
obliged to conform to the rules of such societies, and to confine their remarks 
on the subject under debate to the scientific view of the question. He was 
not going to say that was wrong — perhaps it was right — but many gentlemen 
had experienced the difficulty to which he referred. Not long since, during 
a discussion which took place at the Anthropological Society, an instance of 
this kind occurred. A paper was read in which most unfounded statements 
were made with reference to Christian missions and the truths of revelation ; 
but when a gentleman stood up to defend the cause of Christianity, he was 
told he must confine his .observations to such questions as came within the 
scope of an anthropological debate. It was to meet difficulties of this kind 
that the Victoria Institute was established. Its chief feature was that it did 
not confine its discussions to any particular branch of science (hear, hear) ; 
and when any fact was brought forward likely to affect the truth of reve- 
lation, the members would be at liberty to discuss it in all its bearings. (Hear, 
hear.) He trusted that no one regarded the Society as being established in 
opposition to any other scientific institution of the day. (Hear.) They had 
just drunk prosperity to the Society ; but unquestionably a great deal of its 
prosperity depended upon the support which it received from the gentlemen 
present, and he trusted that they would all exert themselves to promote its 
success. (Hear, hear.) It had been admirably begun, and he hoped it would 
be enabled to carry out its work. One of the objects of the Society was to 
translate foreign books of a kind which might be beneficially read by Christian 
readers. This would involve considerable expense, but he did not doubt that 
the support which would be given to the Society would enable it to effect 
that object. He trusted they would all endeavour to get as many members 
as they could, and that at the next annual meeting of the Society it would 
number a thousand members. (Cheers.) 

Captain Fishbournb said, he did not know why he should have been 
selected to respond to the toast of success to the Victoria Institute, as its for- 
mation was no more due to him than to other members present. They 


were all entitled to credit, mora especially so the noble lord in the chair, for 
coming to the front while so many were hanging back. He must take the 
liberty of congratulating all upon the success which had attended their in- 
augural meeting, and to compliment their distinguished Vice-President upon 
his able paper. As a sailor, he was thankful for the formation of such an insti- 
tution ; not, indeed, that he had met many infidels at sea. They that go down 
to the sea in ships, they see the wonders of the Lord in the great deep. 
They have too many hair-breadth escapes not to know that every hair of their 
head is numbered. Though he had met many infidels on land, he was 
thankful to say, he had met; very few in his travels by sea : a sailor's life did 
not seem to suit such people — they collapsed in the face of danger, showing 
themselves to be mere drums. Sailors were a religious people in their way ; 
their superstition, the result of their ignorance, is an acknowledgment of 
their belief in a God, — indeed, he believed every man's conscience testified to 
the existence of the Deity; and he could only conceive of those who attacked 
the truths of revelation, as men who wanted to get rid of the findings of the 
conscience, by endeavouring to persuade themselves that neither it nor Scrip- 
ture was correct. It was most natural that such men should ask Christians 
to give up their Christianity before they entered upon the discussion of 
science, otherwise they could not reasonably deny miracles ; since every 
Christian was a miracle, and Christianity itself was a standing miracle. It was 
simply absurd to assert that the teachings of revelation were inconsistent 
with those of science. For besides the names of Christian men mentioned 
by our learned Vice-President, who had taken the first rank in the walks of 
science, I may add Captain Maury ; and, as science knows no country, we 
may claim him as a compatriot, and he, with the modesty of genius, at once 
acknowledges that the idea of his complete theory of the wind's " circuits " 
was derived from Holy "Writ. Apart from some such intimation, it is not 
easy to conceive the possibility of his obtaining the necessary amount of 
facts out of which to have originated the idea, seeing that the facts must 
more or less have covered the earth from pole to pole and girded the globe. 
As for the endless ages contended for by geologists, and based upon the slow 
formation of deltas in rivers, they are the merest theories. If such men had 
seen the rapid changes that take place in a short time that he had seen, they 
would not be disposed to place much confidence in such myths. He had seen 
trees being carried down the rivers, caught, and forming an impediment 
to the rapidity of the stream, upon which a deposit immediately took 
place, and islands were formed in a few hours. A change in the direction of the 
current, or sometimes an increase of its volume, has eaten away these islands, 
and the deposit takes place at the next obstruction, by which an island is 
formed with the. stratification of the former island inverted. Place one of 
these geologists to examine one of them, without informing him of their 
recent origin, and he would, consistently with the basis of these endless ages, 
pronounce that they had existed for hundreds or thousands of years, as may 
be. He recollected on one occasion getting aground up a river in a ship he 
commanded, when the ship was imbedded in a mud dock in a few hours, out 


of which sho literally had to be dug. Had they had only flint implements, 
himself and crew might have been exhumed by some future Lyell as pre- 
Adamite men, though born in the nineteenth century of grace ! In the same 
way he had seen extensive lines of sea-beach altered by changes in the direc- 
tion of winds and currents ; showing bow unreliable are the estimates of time 
founded on sea-beaches. t All such conclusions must be fallacious, as they are 
based upon the assumption that all the conditions under which deposits have 
been formed are the same now that they were thousands of years since, which, 
as a matter of fact, is not so, nor could be so. (Hear, hear.) 

Mr. R. N. Fowler then rose, and said he had the honour to propose a 
toast which needed no words of his to insure it an enthusiastic reception by 
the company. It was the health of the noble lord who presided. (Cheers.) 
In every assembly of Englishmen, in every part of the world where patriotism, 
philanthropy, or Christianity was honoured, the name of the Earl of Shaftes- 
bury would be received with enthusiasm. (Hear, hear.) They all knew the 
way. in which the noble earl had devoted himself to the good of mankind. 
(Cheers.) Foregoing the highest honours in the gift of the Crown, he had 
applied himself with an earnest and heroic self-devotion to the promotion of 
the welfare of the community amongst which he lived, and his labours were 
chiefly directed to the benefit of the poorest classes of his countrymen. (Hear, 
hear.) He was identified with every great work of charity or philanthropy 
in this country, and the best energies of his life were devoted to the cause of 
ragged schools. (Hear, hear.) The toast of his health would therefore be 
received with enthusiasm, under whatever circumstances it was proposed to an 
assembly of Englishmen ; but they were met there that evening under peculiar 
obligations to his lordship. They were assembled to inaugurate one of the 
most important movements that could be undertaken by any society — a 
movement to resist the encroachments of scepticism and infidelity on the faith 
of Christians. (Hear, hear.) The noble earl had kindly given his assistance 
in the formation of a Society which had for its object a work of so much 
importance. He had placed himself in the van of the movement, and he 
was, therefore, entitled to their gratitude. (Hear, hear.) Younger men 
might have deemed it an honour to take up such a cause and lead it on to 
success. The noble earl did not look forward to any reward such as that. He 
had already left the impress of his name on the history of the age (hear, 
hear) ; and though the cause which the Society advocated was one in every 
way worthy of the support of men of rank and intellect, it was from no such 
motive^ that the noble lord had come forward to assist it. It was because he 
felt the permanent importance of the work which the Society was established 
to promote. (Hear, hear.) Under these circumstances, he felt that when he 
asked them to drink the health of their noble chairman, they would do so 
with the heartiest wishes for his happiness and prosperity. (Cheers.) 

The toast was drunk amid the most enthusiastic plaudits. 

The Noble Earl, in rising to respond, was greeted with renewed cheering. 
He said he was very much obliged for the kind manner in which they had 
received the toast. Upon any other occasion it would amount to presump- 



tion on his part, to address any observations to a large company of scientific 
men, such as he saw around him. Had it not been for the peculiar circum- 
stances under which they met that evening, he would have contented him- 
• self with acknowledging the toast. He remembered hearing a story at one 
time of a lady who married her groom, and the poor fellow was so confused 
that he did not know how to conduct himself. He went to a friend to ask * 
what he should do, and the advice which he received was given in these words 
— "My dear fellow, dress in black and hold your tongue." (Laughter.) 
That was precisely the course which he had intended to take that evening. 
(Laughter.) He had dressed in black, and he should have held his tongue, 
but that he felt it necessary to say a word or two with regard to their objects, 
and the light in which he looked upott the foundation of the Institute. The 
purposes for which it was established were of signal value to all who, like him- 
self, were engaged in numerous important avocations, and had no time to 
apply themselves to scientific pursuits. (Hear, hear.) The Institute would 
be of the utmost importance to those who had no means of access to the 
answers given to the deleterious nonsense published under the name of 
Science, and who were unable to test for themselves the value of the argu- 
ments put forward. It was the object of the founders of the Institute that it 
should fill up a gap for men of science, and men of principle, and men of 
intelligence, and men of research, who would watch the various publications 
as they came out, — some conceived in malignity, some in ignorance, and some 
in mistaken notions that they were adding to the general science of mankind 
— and point out whera mistakes arose, and put facts in their true light, or at 
any rate induce people to p uise before they pronounced an opinion upon the 
discovery of anything which seemed to be opposed to the truths of revelation. 
He recollected, when he was a young man, that points of this kind 
occasionally arose. A heretical opinion was now and then advanced; but 
nothing came of it, and it was forgotten. But a very different state of things 
now existed. The mental activity of the age was now so great, that it gave 
them no rest ; so many new discoveries were now made, that it left them no 
time to breathe or to look around them ; so great was the impatience for 
novelty which prevailed, that wheu men fancied they discovered something, 
nothing satisfied them until they converted it into an Armstrong Or a Whit- 
worth gun, and aimed it at revealed truth. It would be the duty of the In- 
stitute to ascertain what were facts, or whether there were any facts at all, 
and to tell the public what ought to be at once rejected, and what ought to 
be put in quarantine for a time, until it was thoroughly sifted. Above all, 
the Society must endeavour to watch the dishonest use of statements appear- 
ing in scientific works, calculated to raise doubts as to the truth of the Bible ; 
and let the world know when theories, that had been brought to bear with 
tremendous force upon the teachings of revealed religion, were exploded 
by more minute inquiry. They had seen great mischief result from the drop- 
ping of a word which implied doubt, when no refutation was given by those 
who heard it ; but what were they to think of the evil produced by a work 
such as Essays and Reviews, which had been read by hundreds who still 


believe in the statements which it contained, and never heard of their refuta- 
tion ? It would be the business of this Society to lay bare the fallacies of publi- 
cations of that character, in the manner that had been so ably done in that 
admirable pamphlet, the Scieniia Scientiarum. As the author of it .said, they 
must criticise science as they had criticised the Bible. (Hear, hear.) Science 
was in a perpetual state of development. That which was a " fact " to-day was 
not a fact to-morrow, and it was as much open to criticism as anything else. 
What they wanted was a free trade in science. (Hear.) They wanted those 
who were engaged in science to carry their inquiries to the utmost extent, and 
to acquaint the public with the results. Let their Society be a refuge for all 
the Cassandras of false science, — for those who were never believed, although 
they always spoke the truth, — an institute for those who come forward to 
defend the cause of truth from the attacks made upon it. It would thus be the 
means of enabling many who were now in comparatively obscure positions to 
resist scientific dictators, and to take a place amongst the greatest and best in 
the land. (Hear, hear.) He could not help thinking, however, that revealed 
religion had suffered quite as much from its defenders as from its foes. It 
oftentimes happened, when they heard of a bone, or a flint, or the tail of a 
jackdaw (laughter) being picked up on the sea-shore, that many Christian men 
became so nervously sensitive upon the subject that they tried to distort 
revelation in order to adapt it to the supposed discovery. But in a short 
time it turned out that the bone was not a bone, that the flint was not a flint, 
and the matter was forgotten. But the consciousness remained that revelation 
could be twisted and turned about to suit every current of scientific opinion, 
and that science was the great thing to which revelation should be subordi- 
nate. But he hoped that nothing would be done to induce the members of 
this Institute to depart from their belief in the plain, simple, and dignified 
truths of Holy Writ. He would say, let science have its own way — it was 
" a chartered libertine " ; but to scientific men he would address this one 
word of exhortation: — Let them say what they liked upon what they supposed 
to be the difference between the teachings of science and revelation ; let 
them weigh what was weighable, see what was seeable, and try what was 
triable, but let them not try to put down those who were opposed to them 
by main force. Let there be an open field, and free use of fair weapons, and 
he had no doubt as to victory. (Hear, hear.) It was true of Science as it was 
true of the Gospel, that the more it was discussed the more it would redound 
to the honour and glory of God. (Hear, hear.) 

The Noble Chairman then resigned the Chair to Mr. Fowler — the Vice- 
Chair being filled by Captain Fishbourne. 

Dr. Habbrshon then proposed " The health of the Vice- Patron, Vice- 
Presidents, and Council of the Society," He said that many had supposed 
that the Society was opposed to the cultivation of science j but that was a 
mistake. On the contrary, it desired the advancement of science, and it 
would be the object of the Society to promote true science in every possible 
way. But it was opposed to what was merely superficial. Nothing was more 
patent at the present day, than the way in which pseudo-science was brought 


to bear upon the truths of revelation. It endeavoured to destroy the founda- 
tion of all Christian belief. But Christianity was founded upon a basis that 
would endure as long as time and eternity last ; and however it may suffer 
from attacks made upon it in the name of science, they were well assured 
that truth must prevail. (Hear, hear.) He fully concurred in the observa- 
tions of previous speakers, that the more science was investigated the more it 
would be found to harmonize with the great doctrines of Christianity ; and 
it would be the mission of their Society to show that no difference existed 
between them, but that science and revelation were not opposed. He begged 
to give them the toast, and with it to associate the names of the Rev. Mr. 
Mitchell, Dr. Burnett, and Mr. Beddie. (Hear, hear.) 

The toast was most cordially received. 

The Bev. Mr. Mitchell, in responding, said that having already occupied 
more of the time of the members than he was entitled to, he would not 
trouble them again with any observations with respect to the objects of the 
Society. It would be found that those who were most skilled in science had, 
in nearly all cases, the most profound sense of the truth of revelation. (Hear, 
hear.) Amongst others he would mention the name of the late Dr. Whewell, 
who was one of the most distinguished professors of science in the present 
age. He begged to thank the company for the manner in which they had 
received the toast. 

Dr. Burnett also responded to the toast. He said the object of this Society 
met with his warmest approval, and he regretted that he had not been able 
from illness to give it that amount of active support to which he felt 
it was entitled. (Hear, hear.) 

Mr. Beddie, in briefly responding, said the duty devolved upon him of pro- 
posing the next toast. The lateness of the hour obliged him to forego the 
pleasure, if, indeed, it could be called a pleasure, of making a speech. 
The toast which he had to propose was, however, one which required no 
advocacy on his part to secure it a cordial reception. It was " The Learned 
Societies of the kingdom, and the advancement of science, art, and pure 
literature." He desired to say that this Society was not only not adverse to 
any of the scientific Societies already established ; but was, in fact, rather 
dependent upon them. And having obtained from other Societies a number 
of facts or theories, it would be the duty of the members of the Institute 
inaugurated that evening to philosophize upon them. (Hear, hear.) No 
Society of this kind was previously in existence in the metropolis ; and it 
was one express feature of this Society to discuss those theories which were 
propounded by men who, in the name of science, questioned the great truths 
of the Bible. (Hear, hear.) AUasion had been made by Mr. M' Arthur to 
the difficulty experienced by those who attempted to defend revelation at the 
meetings of the Anthropological Society ; but it is only fair to say, that the 
members of that Society may not be to blame on that account. The subject 
is, in fact, beyond their range, although Anthropology is one of the most com- 
prehensive of studies. Well, it would be a great thing that, in one Society 
at all events, those questions could be discussed, and full opportunity allowed 


to answer the arguments • advanced against Scriptural truth. He would 
allude, for instance, to the nebulous theory advanced in the Essays and Reviews 
against the Mosaic Cosmogony. It was stated by those who upheld that 
theory, that this universe was originally one great mass of fire. Now, fire, as 
was very well known, was the great destroyer of life : and, in the face of that 
fact, it was argued that everything in this world was brought out of that mass 
of fire, without the aid of a Creator, whose existence was altogether ignored 
by some of those gentlemen ! He did not think a more stupid notion could 
be entertained. It was much the same in other matters. They were told by 
Dr. Colenso last May, in the Anthropological Society, that a universal deluge 
was an impossibility, while another set of philosophers came forward with a 
theory that universal floods were a necessity ! (Hear.) Here were most 
extraordinary liberties taken with two of the four elements of the ancients. 
Fire, the destroyer of all life, was made out to be the source from which life 
originally started (laughter) ; and floods, which a learned bishop assured 
them were an impossibility, were, according to other savants, a necessity. 
(Hear, hear.) Again : there was a uniformitarian theory entertained which 
was equally absurd, being contrary to such phenomena in nature as the recent 
sudden eruption of Santorino, and the blazing forth and sudden diminution 
of a star in Corona Borealis, which had occurred within the last few weeks. 
But there was no Society to take up these general questions. The Victoria 
Institute would now undertake the task, and he believed it had a very wide 
field of usefulness before it. (Cheers.) To pass from science to art, he begged 
to refer to the motto on the title-page of this year's Catalogue of the Koyal 
Academy, in which it is argued that the very existence of beauty in art 
raises the mind to something beyond the visible. Of course, every rational 
being must know, that a fine picture or statue could only be produced by 
intellect and intelligent skill Well, let us turn from art to nature, to these 
flowers upon the table,— to say nothing of the magnificent display of floral 
beauty to be seen at the South Kensington International Exhibition, — and 
who could doubt that Divine Intelligence was the author of such transcendent 
beauty 1 This is an inviting theme ; but time is short, and art must now be 
left, to pass on to literature. In a word, then, he would observe that all our 
philosophizing, whether in science or art, would be all but useless, but for 
literature, by which knowledge was diffused. He observed that Dr. Gladstone, 
F.R.S., had gone, whose name he would have wished to couple with 
Science and the Learned Societies ; Mr. Walton, whose name he would 
have associated with Art, had also departed ; and even Mr. John Lidgett, 
who had the toast of the Press assigned to him, had been unable to remain 
to propose it. He would therefore beg that the toast should be received as 
including the press, which is a most powerful organ of literature in our day. 

The Chairman then gave the toast of <% The Ladies," which, being duly 
honoured, was responded to by Mr. F. Merriott. 

The proceedings then terminated. 



Waringtoijf, Esq., F.O.S., Author of tlie Actonian Prize 
Essay ^ 1865; The Historic Cliaracter of the Pentateuch 
Vindicated, By a Layman, &c. 

THE purpose of the present paper is purely historical. To 
analyze in detail the various points at issue, or supposed 
to be at issue, between Scripture and Science ; to examine 
fully, and weigh carefully, the evidence adduced on either side, 
and so pass judgment fairly and impartially between them, 
would require both more time than can possibly be allowed to 
a single paper, and especially for more learning and far 
deeper research than the writer has at his command. It has 
been thought, however, that a brief historical outline of the 
present state of the case, the relations, hostile or otherwise, 
permanent or passing, which actually exist between Scripture 
and Science, would form a useful and fitting introduction to 
that fuller and more particular investigation of the several 

Jioints in detail, which it is one of the objects of the Victoria 
nstitute to promote. To furnish some such general outline 
of actual facts, then, without in any way discussing their 
character or pronouncing upon their worth, is the aim of the 
present paper. 

And to this end it will be convenient to divide the subject 
into four groups : — 

1st. The objections brought against Scripture on the 
ground of incorrect and misleading descriptions of natural 
objects and phenomena. 

2nd. The objections brought against the Scripture record 
of certain historical events, on the ground of further informa- 
tion touching these same events, or inconsistent with them, 
which Science has elucidated. 

3rd. The objections brought against a particular class of 
occurrences narrated in Scripture, Miracles, on the ground of 
their incongruity with scientific principles. 

4th. The objections brought against the dogmatic teaching 
of Scripture on the ground of its inconsistency with the facts 
of Nature. 

The charges thus urged against Scripture in the name of 
Science may be briefly summed up, then, as follows : — 1st. It 
is scientifically inaccurate. 2nd. It is historically untrue. 


3rd. It is philosophically incredible. 4th. It is theologically 
erroneous. These it is proposed to review in order; noticing 
under each head, first, the various forms under which the 
charge is made, and second, the different lines of defence 
which the advocates of Scripture are accustomed to adopt, in 
order to repel the charge or mitigate its force. The kind and 
amount of agreement, or disagreement, thought on various 
hands to exist between Scripture and Science, will thus 
become apparent, and some useful information, it is hoped, 
be derived as to the extent and nature of the investigations 
required to set the question at rest. 

I. First, then, of the charge of scientific inaccuracy in the 
Scriptural descriptions of natural objects and phenomena. 
This is founded chiefly upon the language of Scripture in 
matters of Astronomy, Meteorology? and Natural History. 
Scripture, it is said, plainly speaks of this earth as the centre 
of the universe, for whose benefit sun, moon, and stars were 
created, whose concerns are of paramount or sole importance. 
It describes the earth as firmly and immoveably fixed, estab- 
lished on foundations, and built up with pillars, while about it 
all the celestial bodies move in their courses. It speaks of 
heaven as a solid crystal ceiling, having above it vast ac- 
cumulations of water, to which exit is given now and then by 
the opening of its windows. It encourages and confirms the 
notion that the moon has a hurtful influence when shining 
brightly by night. In one and all of which particulars Science 
has demonstrated that Scripture is inaccurate, untrue, mis- 
leading. Or, to take another set of examples, Scripture 
represents the ant as storing up food in summer, and sets it 
before us as an example of wisdom and providence on this 
very account. It speaks of the ostrich as cruel, and carelessly 
forsaking its eggs. It distinctly includes the hare and the 
coney among animals which chew the cud. In every one of 
which statements, again, careful observation and scientific re- 
search have proved beyond a doubt that Scripture is incor- 
rect. Surely, then, if this bo so, it must be conceded that the 
charge in question is well-founded, and Scripture is scientifi- 
cally inaccurate. 

Now, to this charge, thus supported, three several replies 
have been given. In the first place, inasmuch as every one 
of these alleged scientific errors was at one time or other 
actually held by expositors of Scripture, and strenuously sup- 
ported by them on Scriptural grounds, it was but natural 
that the first impulse should be to deny the facts, and so 
retort the charge of inaccuracy upon Science. The views 
attacked were admitted by this school to be fair representa- 


tionsof Scriptural teaching. The point contested was tho 
right or power of Science to say aught against them. This 
mode of answer may be regarded as now, however, in several 
of the instances named entirely obsolete, at least among those 
who know anything of Science. The advocates of Scripture 
have been obliged, in dealing with these, to take up other 

In the second place, then, not a few of them have passed 
unhesitatingly to the opposite extreme. These doctrines and 
observations of Science are, no doubt, they say, most true ; 
but then they are not really inconsistent with Scripture; 
Scripture properly interpreted teaches precisely the same 
thing. Make due allowances for poetical and metaphorical 
expressions, and the employment of simple, every-day phrases 
descriptive of natural appearances, which are used unhesi- 
tatingly by the most scientific still, and the two are found to 
be, in truth, perfectly at one. Then, enamoured with the 
prospect thus opened, the upholders of this view have launched 
forth boldly into general interpretation, and shown, or endea- 
voured to show, how every allusion to Nature in Scripture is 
not only harmonious with Science, but, in fact, anticipative of 
it ; how the profoundest truths, which Science has, only just 
revealed, lie there embedded in all their purity and force, 
needing nothing but impartial and keen-sighted exposition to 
bring them to light. According to this school, then, Scripture, 
though not, perhaps, intended primarily to teach Science, is 
yet scientifically accurate in essence everywhere ; the discord 
between them is only apparent, not real. 

But at this a third class gravely shake their heads in 
ominous doubt. Granted, say they, that, when fairly viewed, 
many of the objections of Science on this head are unfounded, 
and that Scripture is not really committed to some of these 
views which were formerly connected with it, and which - 
Science has overthrown; yet surely there are other of the 
objections, and especially those referring to Natural History, 
which cannot be thus answered, at least without a strain upon 
the plain words of Scripture for which we have no sufficient 
warrant. Is it not safer, then, to concede that in these, at all 
events, the allegation is well founded ; and rest on our defence 
rather on this : that such trivial errors have nothing whatever 
to do with the real worth of Scripture; that scientific accuracy 
being in no way necessary to the end designed to tie attained 
by Scripture, so on these matters its human writers were left 
to speak in their ordinary language, and in accordance with 
the prevalent ideas of their time ? 

Such are the three lines of reply adopted by advocates of 



Scripture in answer to the charge of scientific inaccuracy ; the 
first, as will be seen, admitting the foundation of the charge 
to the full, but retorting the inference upon the assailant; the 
second denying the foundation, by modifying the interpreta- 
tion of Scripture so as to make it harmonize with Science ; the 
third admitting in part both foundation and inference, but 
regarding the latter as trivial and unimportant. 

II. We pass now to the second and far more important 
group, of objections levelled against certain historical events 
recorded in Scripture, on the ground of further information 
touching these events, or inconsistent with them, which 
Science is said to have elucidated. This charge is founded, 
with very slight exception, upon the contradiction asserted to 
exist between the statements of the first eleven chapters of the 
book of Genesis and the conclusions of scientific research, 
more especially in the departments of Geology, Anthropology, 
Ethnology, and Natural History. It will be convenient, 
therefore, to review the objections under this head in the 
order which their connection with these chapters of Genesis 
naturally suggests. 

The Cosmogony, or history of creation contained in Gen. i- 
ii. 4, furnishes the scientific objector, then, with the following 
charges : — 1st, and chiefly, a stupendous discrepance in regard 
to time ; Genesis teaching that the whole work of creation, 
in respect both to heaven and earth, was performed in the 
short space of six days ; Geology proving incontestibly that it 
must have occupied a succession of ages altogether surpassing 
human powers to measure or conceive. 2nd. It is urged, that 
not only is there this fundamental and insuperable discord 
between them in regard to time, but there are also certain 
notable errors in Genesis as to the order of creation; in 
particular, the late position assigned to the creation of the 
sun, moon, and stars, as subsequent to that of the earth, of 
light, of the dry land, and of vegetation ; also the precedence 
of plants before fishes and reptiles ; both which, it is asserted, 
are contrary to the plain teaching of Science. Then, 3rd, it is 
objected, that Genesis is wrong in regard to manner, since it 
speaks of the creation of living things as taking place in 
single defined groups, consisting (we must suppose) of all the 
species ever existing belonging to that group; whereas 
Geology shows us that living things have made their appear- 
ance on the earth very gradually, one kind dying out and 
being superseded by others, and this many times over through 
enormous periods utterly unlike one another, those living 
beings which now inhabit the earth being no more than the 
last group of a long, nay, almost infinite, series. Lastly, some 


scientific objectors further add that Genesis is erroneous also 
in principle, inasmuch as it clearly describes the creation of 
distinct species, and especially asserts most strongly the 
radical dissimilarity of man from other animals ; while Science 
is ever more and more tending to the conclusion that species 
are the result, not of creation, but of natural development, 
variation, and selection ; that man is no exception to tins, but 
is, after all, no more than a developed, educated, or selected 

To these objections against the Scripture cosmogony, the 
most diverse replies have been given, according to the taste, 
prejudice, or predilection of the replicant. They may be 
classified, however, roughly into the same three groups as 
those noticed under the first head. 

First, we have those who deny the contradictory assertions 
of Science as untrue. The time, order, manner, and principle 
of creation, according to these, were, in fact, exactly as Genesis 
represents ; the objections of Science* are false and unfounded. 
The fossil remains on which geologists lay stress are either 
pure illusions, or the results of the Deluge ; the formation of 
rocks was carried on in a manner and at a speed wholly unlike 
anything observable at the present day, if, indeed, they were 
not at once created just as they are, without any process of 
formation at all ; the deduced from the position and 
order of strata are hazardous and presumptuous ; the supposed 
natural origin of species little, if at all, short of atheistic blas- 
phemy. As in the former case, it is to be noted that this line 
of answer, at first the most prevalent and popular, is now in 
regard to the most important objections in question, those, 
viz., of time and manner, pretty well given up ; the intrinsic 
weakness and uncertainty of the other two (those of order 
and principle) allowing it there, however, fall action still. But 
with respect to the time and manner of creation, the advocated 
of Scripture now generally adopt the second line of answer 
before indicated, — that, namely, of denying the contradiction 
by modifying the interpretation of Scripture. 

This group of replicants is a very large one, and may con- 
veniently be again subdivided into three. The first of these 
subdivisions consists of those who hold that the narrative of 
Gen. i. is a full, proper, and scientifically accurate account of 
the creation of the earth, the days spoken of being, not literal 
days of twenty-four hours each, but vast periods of indefinite 
duration, corresponding, and meant to correspond, to the 
periods disclosed by Geology. Some maintain this view by a 
larger and more comprehensive, but still simple scheme of in- 
terpretation, by which the narrative becomes a kind of pictorial 




or symbolical representation of the reality, couched in the lan- 
guage of appearances, and so in some respects partial and 
inadequate, but still, so far as it goes, in perfect accordance 
with Science. Others, unsatisfied with this, seek by new ren- 
derings of the Hebrew text to make the- narrative do still 
more, and not only agree with Science, but anticipate Science, 
speak in scientific terms, and reveal their own peculiar cos- 
moronic theories without flaw or difference. Others, pro- 
ceeding on the same track, but still more daring, reject 
altogether the received manner of even reading' Hebrew, 
regard the sacred language as a sealed casket of which the key 
has long been lost, discover the key in their own knowledge 
of the analogies of language, and of course unlock a hidden 
treasure of cosmogonic lore which had hitherto lain concealed 
within. The second subdivision of this group consists of 
those who hold that the days of Genesis are literal days, and 
assign the ages of Geology to a period between the original 
creation of the heavens and the earth spoken of in the first 
verse, and the state of darkness and desolation described in 
the second. Even these, however, are not by any means 
agreed among themselves, some regarding the chaos, and 
subsequent development of order and life, as referring to 
one particular part only of the earth's surface, a part, as it 
happens, of which geologists at present know very little; 
others regarding them as coextensive with the entire globe. 
Then, as the third subdivision, there are yet others who adopt 
a sort of middle course, agreeing with the first in regarding 
the six-days' work as descriptive of the whole history of 
creation, yet refusing with the second to view these days as 
intended to be looked upon as representatives of six gigantic 
periods. According to these, the cosmogony of Genesis is a 
poetical sketch of the order and method of creation, cast into 
the parabolic form of a week's work for the religious instruction 
of the unscientific people for whom it was primarily intended ; 
accordant, therefore, with Science in its essential principles and 
broader outlines, but involving of necessity more or less dis- 
crepance in detail and outward form, and in particular being 
altogether inadequate to convey a scientific view in regard to 
time, which was regarded as of little importance for the par- 
ticular purposes in view. 

The third main group of replicants — those who concede the 
contradiction alleged to exist between Scripture and Science 
but deny its importance — adopt a line not altogether unlike 
that last described, differing, however, in this : that they ignore 
or deny the fundamental scientific accuracy which the former 
lay special stress upon, and ascribe the peculiarities of the nar- 


rative ratHer to the influence of tradition, or the fancy of the 
writer, than to any real knowledge of the true state of the 
case. According to these, also, religious instruction was the 
great object of the cosmogony ; and this remaining true, even 
when the form in which it was conveyed has been proved to 
be false, the surrender of the latter is a matter of little con- 

The next section of Genesis to be considered is that con- 
taining the history of the Fall. This is said to involve the 
following contradictions : — 1st, in respect to the entrance of 
suffering and death ; Genesis regarding these as the result of 
the fall of man ; Geology teaching plainly that they had existed 
ages before, and had, in fact, been the rule of creation throughout 
all time. 2nd, in respect to the curse on the serpent ; Genesis 
describing its crawling habit as the punishment awarded for 
its crime in tempting Eve ; Anatomy and Physiology proving 
that, on the contrary, it is the inevitable result of its organiza- 
tion ; and Geology showing that serpents always had crawled 
about as at present, hundreds of thousands of years before 
Adam could have lived upon the earth. 3rd, in respect to 
the curse on the ground; Genesis regarding the productions 
of thorns, thistles, &c, as the penalty of Adam's transgression ; 
Science teaching that they are but the normal growth of the 
ground existing in full vigour for ages previous. . • 

To these objections we have, as before, three several groups 
of answerers : — 

First, those who deny the allegations of Science, who believe 
that physical suffering and death did come into the world 
through the Fall, and had not existed there previously ; that 
serpents did then for the first time begin to crawl upon the 
ground ; that thorns and thistles did then for the first time 
spring up. 

Then, second, there are those who admit the allegations, 
but deny the contradiction. Some seek to explain the diffi- 
culties by limiting the suffering and death spoken of to man ; 
by regarding the curse upon the serpent as metaphorical, 
purporting disgrace and defeat to the spiritual tempter, not 
physical degradation to the agent ; and viewing the production 
of thorns, ccc, either as a greater and more abundant produc- 
tion than heretofore,- or as a new thing merely by contrast 
with the previous experience of Adam in the garden of Eden. 
Some prefer to get over the second objection by a new ren- 
dering of the Hebrew, regarding the tempter as an ourang- 
outang, or some other species of ape, rather than a serpent ; 
while others, again, interpret the whole narrative as an allegory, 
written to explain in pictorial and sjrmbolic&l form the origin 


and consequences of human sin, whose expressions must not, 
therefore, be taken literally. 

Thirdly, there are those who admit the contradictions 
alleged, at least in part, but deny their importance. These 
also adopt a kind of allegorical interpretation; not, how- 
ever, like the last mentioned, as the method intended by the 
writer to be employed, but merely as our method of extracting 
the kernel of truth from that which the writer, guided either 
by tradition or his own fancy, regarded as true throughout. 

The history of the Deluge recorded in Gen. vi.-viii. fur- 
nishes the next ground of objection ; the Scripture narrative, 
it is urged, plainly describing a strictly universal flood, which 
Science as distinctly disproves; 1st, by the phenomena ob- 
servable in regard to certain volcanic hills in the south of 
France ; 2nd, by the impossibility of the collection and redis- 
tribution of all existing species of animals from all parts of the 
earth ; 3rd, by the utter insufficiency of the ark described to 
accommodate all these, and various difficulties connected with 
their preservation. Other minor objections of similar cha- 
racter are also urged, which need not be detailed at length. 

The answers to these alleged contradictions fall into the 
same three groups as before :— 

First of all, we have those which maintain the view of a 
universal -deluge, by denying the force of the objections; 
which speak of the evidence derived from the volcanic hills of 
France as delusive and unsound, and get over the other diffi- 
culties by a plentiful assumption of miracles, either in the 
way of a supernatural gathering and preservation of the ani- 
mals in question, or of a new creation of large numbers of 
fresh species in various places after the Deluge. Many new 
and original scientific theories as to the causes and manner of 
operation of the flood, harmonizing with its universality, also 
find ready currency among the controversialists of this school. 

Then, Second, we have those answers which concede the 
justice of the scientific objections, but elude their force by 
modifying the interpretation of Scripture. These maintain 
the view that the deluge was only partial, being caused by the 
depression of the land in one particular portion of the earth's 
surface ; a part, again, as it happens, of which geologists as 
yet know very little. The majority of these answers still 
uphold the universality as regards man ; a few concede its 
partiality in this respect also. 

While, Thirdly, there are yet other answers which admit 
the objections altogether, but deny their importance. Accord- 
ing to these, the actual deluge was no doubt partial, as respects 
both animals and man, but was regarded by the writer of the 


narrative as universal ; whosd account is hence fairly open 
to the scientific objections raised against it, which -cannot, 
however, touch the fundamental spiritual truths which lie 
within it. 

The next class of objections are those concerning Scriptural 
Ethnology, suggested by the account of the descendants of 
Noah in Gen. x., and that of the confusion of tongues in the 
former part of Gen. xi. Here it is urged, — 1st, that Scripture 
is wrong in certain details, as especially the assignment of the 
Canaanites and Chaldeans to a Hamite origin, whom Philo- 
logy teaches were Semites ; and other similar instances. 2nd, 
that Scripture is wrong also in its fundamental view, repre- 
senting the existing diversity of languages as brought about 
by supernatural interference, instead of as the inevitable result 
of natural causes. To which, 3rd, some also add a still graver 
charge, involved, indeed, in previous seotions, but most con- 
veniently considered here, that Scripture errs in speaking 
of all tribes and nations as descended from a common 

The first and third of these objections are at present too 
much disputed among scientific men themselves for theological 
opponents to trouble themselves much concerning them, and 
they are hence generally met in the spirit of the first general 
group of answers : — your Science is incorrect. In respect to 
the second objection, however, there are some who prefer to 
concede the apparently natural origin of languages by altering 
their interpretation of the Biblical history of Babel. While 
there are yet others who on all three points are prepared, if 
necessary, to admit the objections as valid, but deny their 

Lastly, the genealogical lists of Gen. v. and xi., defining 
the interval of time between Adam and Abraham, afford the 
objector one more weighty charge yet. The Hebrew Scrip- 
tures, it is said, by these lists require us to place the creation of 
man as somewhat less than 6,000 years ago, whereas the 
evidence derived from the geological position of his imple- 
ments and bones, and his demonstrated contemporaneousness 
with animals long extinct, confirmed by the length of time 
which ethnologists and philologists assert to be necessary for 
the development of races and languages, goes to prove 
that he must have existed on the earth for a vastly longer 

The majority of theological advocates adopt here the first 
mode of answer, and deny the validity of the scientific 
argument j some by representing the implements in question 
as purely natural productions, the human bones as merely 


accidentally mingled with those of extinct animals; others 
preferring to regard both implements and bones as belonging 
to a race of extinct apes, not men; others regarding both 
indeed as human, but intentionally buried in the places where 
they are found, in much later times ; others admitting the con- 
temporaneousness of the implements and bones with the 
formations and other remains in connection with which they 
are found, but contesting the antiquity assigned to these by 
geologists. The confirmatory arguments from Ethnology and 
Philology are commonly met by this class of replicants by re- 
ference to miraculous agency, or occasionally by the elaboration 
of counter-evidence. 

Under the second head three modes of answer have been 
adopted. First, it is urged that the Scriptural chronology 
refers only to the descendants from Adam, while at the ^ame 
time hints are dropped, and indications given, of another class 
of men, inferior in character, and stretching back into much 
earlier times, to whom, no doubt, these implements and bones 
are to be ascribed. Secondly, stress is laid upon the diverg- 
ences in these genealogies between the Hebrew text and the 
Samaritan, the Septuagint version, and the statements of Jose- 
phus ; some adopting the longer chronology deducible^from the 
last two, some regarding the whole question as in consequence 
hopelessly uncertain. Thirdly, it is pointed out that each of 
these genealogies contains exactly ten generations, — a number 
which may perhaps have been regarded as having a mystical 
significance, to obtain which some of the actual links in the 
chain were omitted, and so the chronology shortened un- 

Lastly, there are yet other defenders of Scripture who give 
up the genealogies altogether, regarding them as mere tradi- 
tions, having no bearing upon spiritual truth, or, at all events, 
none which is in any way affected by supposing them to be 
corrupt and defective in their chronological aspect. 

III. We pass on now to the third group of objections ; those, 
namely, which are brought against Scripture miracles, on the 
ground of their inconsistency with scientific principles. Parti- 
cular facts bearing on the miraculous events recorded in Scrip- 
ture the objector does not here in general produce, or need to 
Eroduce ; his charge refers to the whole class as a class, and is 
ased upon the widest of all the inductive conclusions which 
Science has elucidated — the absolute and unalterable uniformity 
of the laws of Nature. Here, therefore, we have no longer to 
deal with detailed interpretations, as in the two former groups, 
but with general views and principles. The objection in 
question presents itself in two forms, so different in character 


and complexion that it will bo advisable to consider them, with 
their respective answers, quite apart. 

The first form of the objection, then, avowedly ignores 
all considerations of Theology whatever, and deals with the 
matter on purely naturalistic and physical grounds. Scientific 
investigation, it is said, plainly shows that every department of 
Nature is under the control of laws the most exact and inex- 
orable, and, so far as our knowledge can reach, has ever been 
and must ever be so. The whole course of Nature is a chain 
of antecedents and consequents bound together by a necessary 
and absolutely certain connection, entirely beyond the reach of 
interruption or alteration ; every event that happens in Nature 
is the inevitable result of the laws and properties of matter and 
force, which can neither be violated, modified, or suspended ; 
and beyond these laws and properties Nature knows no other 
rule; they are alone and supreme. To assert, therefore, that an 
event, or series of events, occurred which are contrary to this 
uniformity, which are not the result of these laws and pro- 
perties, but opposed to them and incompatible with them, is 
to assert the occurrence of an impossibility, and is simply 

The answer to this- form of the objection is commonly a 
redtictio ad absurdum. Plainly and on the surface it denies the 
existence of God ; that is, of a personal Being ruling Nature, 
possessed of a proper spiritual existence, unlimited supremacy, 
and wiIaL. It involves, therefore, either atheism or, which is 
the same thing in other words, materialistic pantheism. Aiid 
its consequent absurdity may thus be easily demonstrated. But 
further; it is said, push the argument home, and it involves 
also the denial of all spiritual existence whatever. It is certain 
that man has the power of modifying at his will the course of 
external Nature, causing things to happen which would not 
have happened but for his influence and interference. If, then, 
the principle be sound that every event in Nature is the result 
solely and absolutely of physical laws and pauses, it follows 
manifestly that this will of man is itself also but a physical 
cause ; that its apparent freedom is purely delusive, it being in 
reality as rigidly and passively the subject of law as any other 
cause ; that, in fact, he has no more real intelligence or inde- 
pendence than a calculating machine or an automaton. From 
this barren and repulsive materialistic fatalism most objectors 
may be expected to shrink instinctively ; and, of course, the 
admission once made, that there are spiritual existences inde- 
pendent of physical law, yet capable of influencing Nature, and 
the argument for the impossibility of miracles from their in- 
volving such non-physical agency falls to the ground. 


The commoner form of objection, however, evades this 
answer by adopting a different ground of attack. Granted, it 
is said, that there is a true personal God, having full and 
supreme power over Nature, and therefore able to suspend, 
modify, or act independently of, its laws j yet is it credible 
that He should do so ? Are not these laws the proper expres- 
sions of His Will, ordained and created by Himself with a full 
knowledge beforehand of the results that must arise from their 
action ; so created as exactly to accomplish the ends which He 
had in mind and no others, so created also as to be sufficient 
to accomplish these ends without further extraneous aid or 
interference? Is not the uniformity of Nature, in fact, the 
inevitable consequence of the unchangeableness of God, to 
suppose an alteration in which is hence to suppose a change 
of mind in God, which is incredible ? Man, indeed, may be 
constantly interfering with Nature j but is not this because 
Nature is independent of him, and so does not always fit in 
of itself with his designs, because also his knowledge of it 
is limited, and his will concerning it variable ? Does not, then, 
the ascription of such interference to God also really imply 
that he is subject to the like imperfections, that Nature is in- 
dependent of Him, that His knowledge is limited, and His 
will variable ? While, yet further, have we not in the observed 
fact of the undeviatitig uniformity of Nature, and the absolute 
supremacy of physical laws, even in cases where we should 
have thought a slight alteration would have been productive of 
immense good, a proof that human reason is altogether incom- 
petent to comprehend the purpose of this iron rule of law, 
but must be content to receive it simply as a fact, which, how- 
ever apparently fraught with evils here and there, is certainly 
in accordance with God's Will, and not, therefore, lightly to 
be set aside on any grounds of fancied expediency ? 

To this objection, thus set forth, there are, f as before, three 
distinct lines of reply : — 

First, there are those who deny the scientific premiss of 
the objection, that Nature is thus inexorably uniform and sub- 
ject to law. According to some, this premiss is unsound, be- 
cause, after all, the idea of uniformity is merely the impression 
which a more or less extended experience of past uniformity 
has made upon the imagination, whereby we instinctively con- 
clude that it will continue for the future, and, in fact, always ; 
which kind of instinctive conclusion has been proved, however, 
over and over again, to be in particular cases fallacious and 
misleading, and therefore may be so in the present case also. 
This answer, pushed to its extremest limit, puts the improba- 
bility of a miracle on exactly the same footing as the impro- 


bability of any other non-habitual event, — the mere number of 
chances a priori against its occurrence. — an improbability 
which entirely vanishes on the production of any ordinarily 
credible testimony. Stated more cautiously, the miracle is 
ranked with events new and strange, wonders inexplicable and 
improbable, alike after their occurrence as before, and there- 
fore requiring more than ordinary evidence on its behalf, but 
still involving, nothing intrinsically incredible. Others, again, 
attack the scientific premiss on the ground that the laws and 
causes referred to are purely hypothetical, mere possible ex- 
planations which Science has devised, which may, however, 
just as likely be erroneous, and on which it is illogical, there- 
fore, to build any argument of moment. How do we know that 
there may not be other and truer explanations, equally accordant 
with natural phenomena, and not inconsistent with miracles ? 

Then, Secondly, there are those who admit the scientific 
premiss, but deny the inference ; who admit that Nature is 
uniform and subject to law, but deny that miracles are there- 
fore incredible ; for, say they, miracles have to do with some- 
thing which is beyond and above physical nature, — the soul of 
man. Man, it is argued, has put himself out of harmony with 
Nature ; his free-will, acting in opposition to the will of God, 
has produced discord and rebellion where was meant to be 
concord and subjection ; and the course of Nature being thus 
disturbed in its relation to man, it is plainly by no means im- 
probable, but rather probable, that in God's dealings with 
man He should find it necessary to modify that course in 
other respects also. In particular, it is urged, man has by 
this evil action of his free-will put himself out of communion 
with God, to a great extent silenced the revelation of God 
existing in his own conscience, and blinded his eyes to that 
discoverable in Nature. For his recovery and reformation 
there is needed, therefore, other and clearer revelation than 
these two, to which his attention shall be attracted, and his 
submission secured, by evidence of God's action and presence 
other than that existent in Nature or himself; in a word, by 
miracles. However incredible, then, a miracle may be, viewed 
merely in itself, as a part of the course of Nature; it is per- 
fectly credible, nay, probable, when viewed in connection with 
its purpose,- as having respect to one who is out of harmony 
with Nature, and whom the uniformity of Nature has ceased to 
affect as an evidence of God's existence. So far the advocates 
who adopt this line of answer are pretty well agreed, differing 
only in form or mode of statement; but here two notable 
differences between them come into view. In the first place, 
there is a difference as to the character of miracles. Some, who 


look chiefly at the impression produced by miracles on man, and 
regard the order of Nature as created by God indeed, but now 
practically independent of Him, speaking of miracles as higher 
manifestations of His presence, because proofs of His supremacy 
over Nature. Others, on the contrary, who look rather at the 
Divine attribute of unchangeableness, and regard the order 
of Nature as the true and proper expression of His living 
presence, speaking of them as lower nianifestations, condes- 
censions, in which God has stooped to act for awhile after the 
imperfect manner of man, as elsewhere to adopt man's 
language and man's form, that man might learn to recognize 
Him the easier and better. Then, in the second place, there is 
a difference as to the agency involved in miracles. Some re- 
garding ttem as wrought by God directly, without the inter- 
vention of natural forces or laws. Others regarding them as 
wrought through the instrumentality of these, merely specially 
controlled and adjusted for the particular end in view. 

But, Thirdly, there are yet others who admit both the 
premiss and inference of the objection, but deny their im- 
portance. According to these, it is quite true that no miracles 
properly so called ever happened or could happen ; but still 
events happened which were thought to be miraculous, im- 
pressions were created on the mind which were believed to b*e 
produced by miracles, and by these certain spiritual ends were 
attained. What matter, then, if we reject the means, so long 
as we preserve the end ? What matter if that which men of 
old regarded as a miraculous act of God, we regard as purely 
natural, so long as we both recognize God's hand there? 
What matter if we reject the miraculous evidence of doctrines, 
on account of which men of old believed in them, so long as 
we hold the doctrines themselves ? Why trouble about the 
particular channel through which truth comes, so long as 
both are drinking of the same fountain-heai ? 

IV. We now pass to consider the fourth and last group 
of objections; those, namely, which are brought against 
the dogmatic teaching of Scripture on the ground of its 
inconsistency with the facts of Nature. Some of these, as, for 
example, the pre-eminence which Scripture assigns to man in 
the history of the world, and the assertion that all things were 
•created and are still actively superintended by a personal God, 
who has the power of dispensing with, and controuling, natural 
laws, have been already touched upon. Of the rest, two only 
need here receive especial mention, as the most notorious and 
oftenest urged. In the first place, then, it is objected that 
Scripture represents the whole of creation as "very good," the 
product of unmixed beneficence ; whereas, in fact, Nature is full 


of things which are not good in any proper sense of the word, 
as, for instance, the preying of one set of creatures upon 
another; the ferocity and malignant cruelty of certain animals ; 
the occurrence of earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, &c. ; the 
existence of deserts, inhospitable climes, and such-like. In 
the second place, it is objected that, on the contrary, the whole 
of Nature, man included, are so perfectly in accordance with 
law and goodness properly conceived, that the Scriptural 
notions of the fall of man, and the present subjection of 
creation to vanity (i.e., apparent imperfection and purposeless- 
ness), are incredible and untrue. 

Of course these two objections are mutually contradictory, 
and might safely be left to settle the matter under dispute 
between themselves, without theological interference. The 
importance of the questions raised has caused, however, the 
adoption of a more active course, with again the usual diversity 
of opinion and method. Thus, some deny the first objection 
in toto, and maintain that Nature is still in all respects " very 
good," the only exception being fallen man. Others admit this 
objection, but deny that it applies to Scripture, arguing that 
the expressions in question refer to the world before the Fall, and 
regarding all evils existing in Nature now as the results of the 
Fall. Others, taking a middle course, allow a certain element of 
truth in both objections, but deny their extremes. According 
to these, the world is indeed, in one aspect, full of imperfec- 
tion, albeit in another full of tokens of perfection; and this 
just because it is in a transition state, is slowly growing 
into completeness and beauty, and, like all God's works 
of this kind, does so through much apparent, and for the 
time being real, imperfection and evil. It is only when looked 
back upon in its entirety from the stand-point of its accom- 
plished end, say these, that it can be expected to appear 
reasonable and good in every item. Meanwhile, sufficient 
evidence of present goodness is given to furnish a firm 
foundation, both for confidence as to the present, and hope as 
to the future. 

In drawing this sketch of the existing relations between 
Scripture and Science to a close, two notes of explanation must 
be added to prevent misunderstanding concerning it. 1st. It 
is by no means to be regarded as complete, either as concerns 
the objections or the answers ; several of the less notorious 
and important of the former having been omitted for the sake 
of brevity, while in respect to the latter an immense number 
of minute diversities and shades of difference have been passed 
over without notice, to avoid having to enter too much into 
details. 2nd. In gathering up the answers under the first three 


heads into corresponding and symmetrical groups, it is in no 
way intended to imply that the answerers themselves may be 
arranged in the same way, it frequently happening that, even 
in the case of a single objection, part of the answer actually 
rendered belongs to one group and part to another. The 
grouping has respect solely to the matter and spirit of the 
answers, not at all to the method of the answerers. It is partly 
on this account, and partly for other reasons sufficiently 
apparent, that in no case have the names of the parties holding 
them been attached to either objections or answers. 

But now, these being the facts of the case, what are we to 
learn from them ? The first impression which a review like 
that just completed makes upon the mind is probably in most 
cases a pleasing one/ It is pleasant to know that so many and 
seemingly insuperable objections have called forth so varied 
and powerful a list of answers ; and the conclusion may, and 
no doubt will, be drawn by many that, with such a host of 
defenders, the assault of Science upon Scripture cannot but be 
triumphantly repelled. A deeper view, however, raises 
feelings of a very different kind. True, the defenders of Scrip- 
ture are numerous and zealous, but they are a motley and 
discordant set, at war among themselves as fiercely as with 
the enemy, — to a great extent mutually destructive ; a large 
proportion of them, therefore, certainly in the wrong in the 
defence they make, and so a source of weakness rather than 
strength. It behoves the advocates of Scripture to consider 
this well. We hear much now-a-days of the contradictory 
hypotheses of Science, of the constant flux of opinions in the 
scientific world, of the evil of hasty assumptions and biased 
interpretations of phenomena, and the consequent futility of 
objections founded upon such a basis ; and no doubt there is 
much truth and justice in all this. But it were well for all 
such critioizers of Science , first of all to look at home. Are 
there no contradictory hypotheses among the defenders of 
Scripture ? Is there no flux of opinion in orthodox views ? Are 
there no hasty assumptions, no biased interpretations, which 
theological advocates are guilty of? Ay, truly, and that to a 
far greater degree, and of a kind far more inexcusable. Does 
the gradual unfolding of new facts cause scientific theories to 
be perpetually changing, and allow for the time being of the 
existence of many conflicting hypotheses ? Well, be it remem- 
bered that every one of these theories and hypotheses has its 
advocates and representatives also among the defenders of 
Scripture ; while over and above theBe there are a large number 
of fresh theories held by such, founded on fancies and not facts. 
It may be said, however, that to expect scientific unity among 

v 1 - *-. 


theologians is unreasonable ; it is not their proper subject, nor 
can they give to it the amount of study which it needs. If 
this be so, surely it were better if they left it alone ; but, 
passing this by, at least then we may ask, and reasonably, 
for theological unity. 

Alas for the cause, here is, if possible, even greater dis- 
cordance than in matters of Science. Take the case of Biblical 
exegesis. Here is a book, written in plain and simple style, 
which has been in the hands of theologians complete for nigh 
1800 years, and on which they have bestowed the most unre- 
mitting study j where no new facts can ever be rising up to 
disconcert past conclusions; where, therefore, if anywhere, 
unanimity would seem to be inevitable, and diversity of 
opinion be most inexplicable and criminal, and yet in so 
simple a matter as whether, in this book, the word "day" 
always means a period of twenty-four hours, or whether 
certain phrases in a straightforward narrative necessarily 
denote universality or not, — in such simple matters as these 
the world of theologians is at open war with itself. Verily, if 
they dwell in such extremely friable residences themselves, 
they should beware how they throw stones at their neighbours. 
But even this is not the worst. One would have thought that, 
however much interpretations might differ, at least when it 
came to questions of principle and fundamental doctrine, 
theologians would be at one. But no ; much as they have read 
and studied their Bible, much as they have written about it, 
they have not been able even to settle the prime question in 
the entire controversy : — what is the real issue at stake ? 
Some tell us that, if the objections of Science are carried 
home, the Divine authority of Scripture is at an end, some 
that it is merely rendered a little more doubtful, some that it is 
not touched in the least. Certainly there is no discord among 
men of Science that can be compared to this. 

What, then, is to be done ? It is said, that, to get rid of the 
changeableness and unsoundness of Science, we must cast 
theories and prejudices on one side, and give ourselves to a 
closer and more impartial investigation of facts. Very good ; 
and precisely so must we do, only to a far greater extent, to 
get rid of the changeableness and unsoundness of our theo- 
logical defence. It is not enough for the advocate of Scripture 
to scrutinize severely the facts and conclusions of Science ; he 
has need to do so indeed, but much more has he need to 
scrutinize the* assertions and arguments of current theology 
and exegesis. It will not do for him in these matters, even 
so much as in those, to trust to his own notions, or the notions 
of this writer or that writer; he must set himself earnestly to 


search for facts, resolutely resolve to base his interpretation pf 
Scripture on facts, and nothing else, — facts weighed with 
rigour, and reasoned on with strict impartiality. So in like 
manner with his view of the authority and character of 
Scripture, to base this, not on his ideas of what it ought to be, 
but. on what facts warrant him in believing that it is. Of 
course such investigation requires the expenditure of much 
laborious study, the possession of a calm and carefully-sus- 
pended judgment, the submission to much misunderstanding, 
obloquy, and reproach ; but there is no royal road to truth, 
and the lovers of truth must not begrudge the toil and pain 
involved in its acquirement. To such investigation, then, 
such discarding of theories, such laying aside of prejudices, 
such keen and unbiased search for truth, whatever it may be, 
and wherever found, let the members of the Victoria Institute * 
devote themselves, heart and soul, and assuredly some steps 
will be taken to the final peaceful settlement of this unhappy 

The Chairman. — The pleasing duty of proposing a vote of thanks to Mr. 
Warington, for his very able and comprehensive paper, devolves upon me. I 
think it a most suitable inauguration of the regular proceedings of the 
Society, as it reviews the whole question of the existing relations between 
Scripture and Science. Some may consider the mode of treatment is 
somewhat indefinite, as the author has set forth no views of his own, but has 
contented himself with a rdsurrU of both sides of the controversy. He has 
set forth very clearly the objections urged against Scripture, and the answers 
to' them hitherto published, without himself drawing any conclusions. 
Such a mode of treating the subject most convincingly illustrates the value 
of such a Society as the Victoria Institute. If the supposed discrepancies 
between Science arid Scripture are to be removed, we must not look so 
much to individual answerers, as to the agency of a society which seeks to 
unite men distinguished for an acquaintance with the various branches of 
science and those skilled in theology. Such men meeting together from time 
to time, freely to discuss the controverted questions,- will be most likely to 
indicate the proper answers to be made to the objectors. To the mere scholar 
unacquainted with science, as well as the great mass of people who have 
neither the time nor the ability to investigate these important questions for 
themselves, the work undertaken by the Victoria Institute will be of the 
greatest importance ; and I have no doubt it will be well performed. It has 
been suggested that the paper just read to a certain extent invites discussion ; 
I shall therefore be glad to hear any observations which any gentleman may 
be disposed to make upon it. 

Mr. Eobert Baxter. — I think the paper just read is evidently one upon 
which Mr. Warington has bestowed great pains, and shown in its production 
very great ability. (Hear, hear.) He has dealt with his subject in a very 


comprehensive manner ; and his classification of the objections raised against 
the truth of the Scriptures and the answers which they had received, was 
calculated to bring the whole matter clearly before the mind. But at the 
same time I think the discussion opened by Mr. Warington is not by any 
means satisfactory, unless it is further pursued. In the shape in which it 
comes before us on this occasion, it seems to be merely the beginning of a 
discussion upon the questions under consideration, and is a paper which 
ought not to appear in its present shape in the publications of this Society 
and not until the arguments have been sufficiently pursued. I am sure we 
are all deeply indebted to Mr. Warington (hear, hear) ; but at the same time I 
think the value of the paper would be greatly enhanced if the author would 
pursue the subject further, so as to enable those who read it to know to what 
conclusions his inquiries tended. (Hear, hear.) I would respectfully suggest 
that the paper should for the present be withheld ; and would say in conclusion 
that it affords me very great pleasure to second the vote of thanks which 
has been proposed by the Chairman. (Hear, hear.) 

Mr. Reddie. — I agree in many respects with Mr. Baxter's remarks ; but 
I must observe that Mr. Warington could scarcely have argued out the 
numerous questions he had necessarily touched upon, in giving a sketch of 
the various alleged contradictions between Scripture and Science. Thoroughly 
to discuss these questions would in fact be our work probably for years to 
come ; and it would require a whole series of papers, to enable us to settle 
even a tithe of the points to which Mr. Warington had referred. In my 
opinion, however, it might be advantageous if he would add, by way of notes, 
some indication of who are the authors of the various opinions, whether 
scientific or theoretical, which he had quoted, that we might know more 
definitely what they had advanced, and the grounds upon which they held 
their views. It had been a matter of much anxiety to those who originated 
this Society, to have it clearly defined what we were going to do, and what we 
were not going to do ; and it may be considered as settled, that we ought not 
to enter upon what are strictly questions of scriptural exegesis. Such were . 
rather matters for theologians, and not subjects for discussion at these 
meetings. There is one remark near the conclusion of Mr. Warington's 
paper which I must notice. He observes that such a review as he had given 
us was calculated to produce a pleasing impression on the mind ! Now I 
venture to think it must rather have an opposite effect. Mr. Warington had, 
no doubt, carved out our work for us, and had shown that the task we had 
undertaken was no light one. But it appears to me that it is very unsatis- 
factory, either that there should be so many contradictions in " Science," or 
so many contradictory " interpretations " of Scripture.* I would wish, however, 
to call the attention of the author of the paper to the fact, that differences in 
the interpretation of Scripture existed long before any attacks were made upon 
it in the name of Science ; and I cannot agree with Mr. Warington in thinking 
either that the Bible is so very easy a book to understand, or that a different 
understanding of obscure passages is so very inexcusable or blameworthy. 
We must remember that, besides not having the origines of Scripture at all, 



there may be errors in translation or transcription, and modes of expression 
unusual to us as moderns reading the oldest book in the world What we 
wish to do, by means of the Victoria Institute, is to reduce to some extent 
the causes of such differences. We wish to get rid of, or at least to lessen, 
those arising from what we believe to be unwarranted attacks made upon the 
Bible on scientific grounds ; but it is no part of our programme to go into 
minute questions of Scriptural exegesis, as to the precise meaning of passages 
about which theologians themselves did not agree. At present I can attempt 
no more than to allude to a few of the alleged scientific objections to 
Scripture. Now, although a good dealhad been heard from Dr. Colenso and 
the authors of the Essays and Reviews, besides others, of such objections, 
I am not aware that any one among these authors had committed himself to 
the extraordinary statement Mr. Warington gives, that the earth, according 
to the Scriptures, is " built up with pillars." I should therefore like to know 
who has ever really said so. I am aware there is a verse in the 75th Psalm 
to this effect : " The earth is weak and all the inhabiters thereof ; I bear up 
the pillars of it ; " but I never heard that any Jew or Christian had deduced 
from this, either that Scripture taught that the earth was literally supported 
upon pillars, or that the Psalmist held them up ! The text, in fact (as a 
mere glance at the context would show), relates entirely to the moral 
government of the world. We all know, of course, of the heathen fable of 
the earth being borne by Atlas on his back, but Scripture is totally innocent 
of all such nonsense ; while in it we find the expression, that " God hangs 
the earth upon nothing." Mr. C. W. Goodwin, indeed, in his notorious 
Essay on the Mosaic Cosmogony, had referred to a verse of Scripture in 
which he fancied the world was alluded to as fixed, because of the words 
" the world cannot or shall not be moved." That is found both in the 93rd 
and 96th Psalms ; but it must be remembered that in the 99th Psalm, the 
words " let the earth be moved " also occur, which passage in the Prayer-book 
version is translated " be the earth never so unquiet ; " and the Hebrew word 
translated "world" in all these places is tevel (not arets), and "obviously refers 
to the world of people, and not to the earth or the physical world at alL* If 
rightly interpreted, according to the context and their obvious sense even in 
English, it would be readily seen that they were allusions to the fixedness or 
disturbance of the moral laws of the world; and had nothing to do with any 
physical theories of the earth or cosmos. But there is really no question of 
interpretation, properly speaking, involved in such simple passages, otherwise 

* By reference merely to the English Bible it will be seen, from the heading, 
that when it was translated, long before these scientific difficulties were 
invented, the 93rd Psalm was considered as relating to " The majesty, power, 
and holiness of Christ's kingdom ," and not to the physical world. In the 96th 
Psalm, also, the context is so plain, that no schoolboy ought to mistake its 
meaning : — 

" O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness : fear before Him all tho 

" Say among the heathen, that the Lord reigneth ; the world also shall be 
established that it shall not be moved : He shall judge the people righteously." 


they would not come properly within our consideration. When we have 
criticised and carefully examined the supposed teachings of science, and have 
shown that the objections to Scripture resting upon them are without 
foundation, it will be time enough to discuss, if then necessary, the exegetical 
question. Besides, the statement as to the earth being built up literally 
with pillars is one which I cannot conceive any man would gravely adopt ; 
and, if not, there is really nothing for us, as a scientific society, to examine 
with reference to that notion. It is also well known that Mr. Goodwin had 
committed a great blunder in alluding to the Bible as teaching that the 
firmament is something fixed and solid. He had overlooked even the 
marginal reading in our English , Bibles, where the word (translated 
" firmament " in the text) is rendered " expansion." It may also be considered 
as an interesting fact that §ir Matthew Hale, in his work on The Origin of 
Mankind (written about 200 years ago), had specially noticed this rendering 
of the Hebrew word rakia, or rakah, as properly meaning " expansion." 
Moreover, leaving out everything like critical exegesis or interpretation, we 
must remember that in another verse of Genesis we have the " open 
firmament of Heaven " spoken of, in which the birds were to fly ; and this 
precludes all idea of anything solid having been intended by ,the use of the 
word "firmament. ,, Only the sense of an open expanse (expansionem^ as in the 
Vulgate), is consistent with the plain and obvious meaning of the Scripture 
narrative. ' The idea of the crystalline spheres was purely heathen, and 
among them it was a gwost-scientific notion .; but it is an idea for which no 
sanction whatever could be found in the Bible. It is, however, somewhat 
"remarkable that modern science has actually revived this notion. In the 
latest Blue Book published under the auspices of the late Admiral Fitzroy, 
there is a quotation from the late Sir John Lubbock, F.R.S., which I beg leave 
to read. Admiral Fitzroy says : — " Poisson, in his ' Treatise on Heat,' assumed 
the excessive cold of space has a condensing effect on air, causing it to become 
viscous ; and a very eminent mathematician [Sir John Lubbock] lately wrote 
to me, saying that he inclined to a similar view, if not to a belief in its actual 
congelation I * " Frozen air around our atmosphere ! " exclaims Admiral 
Fitzroy ; so we find here the old and exploded scientific notion of crystalline 
solid spheres again revived in our day, and not repudiated even by such an 
authority as the lamented Admiral Fitzroy. There are a series of other 
questions alluded to in the paper which I do not think could ever come 
within the investigations of this Society. For instance, the allusion to the 
serpent and the temptation' in Eden. There is really no question as to the 
present adaptability of the serpent to crawling ; and I never heard of any 
one who held, that for a long period before the fall of Adam, there was a race 
of serpents who naturally walked and talked. (Laughter.) It was out of 
the question to think of testing the record of the supernatural state of things 
in Eden — when God himself is spoken of as " walking in the garden," and 
talking with man — by any scientific investigation of the things in nature now. 
But it must be remembered that in the Scriptural story, taking it as it is, 
there is no warrant for the imagined long periods before man's fall, which have 


been mixed up in the paper with this question about the serpent. Besides; 
the words "upon thy belly shalt thou go " might perhaps be as truly rendered 
"as upon thy belly thou goest, so dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy, life," 
meaning (like the cognate scriptural phrase, " thine enemies shall lick the 
dust,") that the serpent would ever after be abhorred of mankind, as we. 
know is the fact. But this is rather again matter of exegesis than a question 
for us to deal with. Then with respect to the hare and the coney : it is not 
at all certain that these are the animals alluded to in the original Hebrew. 
Neither is it quite certain that the hare does not chew the cud, though now 
it would not be classed with the " ruminant animals," according to modern 
definition, having four stomachs. These nice modern definitions, now 
recognized, were, of course, not invented when Moses wrote. I remember an 
analogous circumstance, also, which will illustrate what I mean. In a paper 
read before the Royal Society a year or two ago, Mr. Flower accused 
Professor Owen of being ignorant of some nice distinction as to the parts of 
a monkey's brain, and founded his accusation upon a quotation from a work 
of the learned Professor upon Zoological classification, where certainly the 
distinction in question was not noticed. But Professor Owen gave an un- 
answerable reply to that accusation, by explaining that in a work on Zoology 
he had not thought it necessary to allude to so minute a particular, and by 
referring to another work of his, published thirty-seven years before (and 
from which Mr. Flower had himself quoted), in which the distinction in 
question was plainly recognized. Now, we could not look for nice distinc- 
tions of a technical or scientific kind — and still less for modern distinctions — 
in the "brief allusions to such things in Scripture. There could be no 
question that the hare would not by us be classed among the " ruminant 
animals," as now defined. But I am not at all sure that, nevertheless, the hare 
may not chew the cud. At all events, we are not certain that it is the hare 
which is alluded to ; and this is really a question of exegesis. It had been 
stated by Mr. Warington that many of the objections, whether scientific or 
otherwise against Scripture, had been given up 

Mr. Warington. — I never stated that any objections of science had been 
given up ; but that particular lines of defence are now no longer adopted. 

Mr. Reddie. — That answers my argument just as welL I wish to call 
attention to the fact that, although the paper purports to deal with "the 
existing relations between Scripture and Science," it also notices objections, 
or answers, now given up. But there is one scientific objection, so-called, 
to which Mr. Warington makes no allusion in his paper,, although, only a 
few years ago, it was, I may say, put forward as the grand and principal 
scientific objection to the Mosaic Cosmpgony. I allude to the nebular theory 
of Laplace. It is one of those scientific hypotheses with which Mr. Warington 
is very well acquainted ; for, though he may not have adopted it as actually 
true, he has made full use of it in his well-known Actonian Prize Essay, as 
at least a probable hypothesis. Its omission from his paper now, is, therefore, 
the best proof of its having been quite "given up," in his opinion, as a scientific 
objection to Scripture. Now, according to that theory, the world originally 


started from out of a blazing fire-mist. Yet, what could be more absurd 
than that an intense heat, with which life was totally incompatible, should 
be made the hypothetical beginning of all life ! Some had, no doubt, 
adopted the nebular hypothesis who were not atheists ; and they might have 
no difficulty in afterwards supposing that life might be, notwithstanding, 
produced by the Deity. But Laplace himself and others, who excluded God 
from their, thoughts, put this forth as a " natural " origin of the world. Let us, 
then, contrast this theory with the analogous belief of Christians, that the 
world would be hereafter destroyed by fire. The one theory begins the 
world, the other ends it, with fire. But the Christians don't profess to 
prove this as science. With us it is a matter of faith. We find it revealed 
in Scripture ; and with us it is a perfectly rational belief, as it is based upon 
faith in the power of God to re-create the world so destroyed. Not so, with 
the atheistical theory of the origin of t!he world from fire, and without super- 
natural power. There is* no sense in which that could be adopted by any 
reasonable being. I think, if we were told who were the authors of some of 
the extraordinary views brought out in Mr. Warington's paper, it would be 
of great service for our future discussions. Adverting to the notion derived 
from Scripture as to the earth being " the centre of the universe, for whose 
benefit sun, moon and stars were created," I may observe that the late 
Dr. Whewell, in his essay On the Plurality of Worlds, has argued that, if 
the earth be not the literal centre of our system on the Copernican hypothesis, 
it is, at all events, the centre of life and of interest on the Christian 
theory. But there have been a great many changes in astronomical science 
since Copernicus wrote. New facts are being every day discovered ; and it 
would be our duty to investigate and see whether our old theories were 
consistent with this increased knowledge of the facts of Nature. The world 
offers to us the same wide field for inquiry as it did to Copernicus or 
Kepler ; and the only ooject we ought to have in view is to arrive at the 
truth, whether it accords with current theories or not. (Hear, hear.) 

Dr. Gladstone. — As discussion has been invited by the Chairman, I would 
ask permission to say a few words, not so much upon the paper which has 
- been read as upon the speeches which followed it. As to the paper itself, I 
may say I agreed with every word of it. I think it is exactly the kind of 
paper with which the proceedings of the Society should be opened. What 
we require at the outset is an outline of the present state of the relations 
between Scripture and Science, which would enable us to Understand the 
nature of the work which was before us, rather than a paper which would 
attempt to settle the questions upon which issue is taken, and upon which, if 
we were to discuss them, we should be likely very soon to get at loggerheads. 
(Hear, hear.) One thing with regard to the paper with which I have been 
struck is its comprehensiveness ; and yet the subject is more comprehensive 
still. When Mr. Warington was speaking of the various objections ad- 
vanced against the Scriptures, and the replies which had been given, a great 
many occurred to me which are not mentioned in the paper. But, of course, 
Mr.- Warington, in grouping together the various objections and answers, was 


obliged to omit much. Thus he had touched very lightly on the question of the 
uniformity of God's mode of action in this world, and the efficacy of prayer. 
With reference to the suggestion of Mr. Baxter that, on the publication of the 
paper, Mr. Warington should enter more minutely into the subject, and 
argue out the various questions to which he referred, it appears to me that it 
is objectionable, principally* on the ground that it is clearly impossible. 
What did Mr. Baxter want? Was it the answers which the essayist 
considered satisfactory ? If so, I think Mr. Warington would decline to 
point them out. Was it, then, the answers*which the Council might con- 
sider satisfactory, or the members 1 I think that, among the Council, Mr. 
Baxter would find the representatives of the three great classes of replicants 
to which Mr. Warington referred ; and that, if they undertook to point 
out the answers which ought to be given to the scientific objections urged 
against the Scriptures, it would result in an internecine war. My friend, 
Mr. Reddie, has also expressed a wish that the authors of the several 
objections and replies should be named. I confess that I rather admired 
Mr. Warington for having omitted all names. I am afraid we are all too apt 
in this world to be led by public opinion and the weight of great names ; and 
I think, therefore, that, with respect to the objections to Scripture, and 
the replies which they had received, it is far better in this Institute to 
have as little to do with names as possible. I think it is sufficient for 
us that the objections have been raised ; and it will be our duty, without in- 
quiring the names of the authors, to show that they have no solid foundation. 
Allusion has been made by Mr. Reddie to the Serpent. I am inclined to 
believe I could convince him that there is a little more written about the 
Serpent than he seemed to think. While Mr. Reddie was speaking upon 
the subject there was recalled to my mind a picture which I have at home of a 
great dragon which walked the earth at first on four feet ; a second view of 
it showed that it had dropped its two front legs ; and in a third view it 
appeared as crawling on its belly along the ground. (Laughter.) 

Mr. Reddie. — I should be inclined to ' ask who was the author of that 
strange picture. (Hear.) 

Dr. Gladstone. — He was a man very eminent in science in his time, and 
he lived about one hundred and fifty years ago. (Hear, hear.) It is not, how- 
ever, my intention to occupy the meeting with any lengthened remarks. I 
think it is most important that we should consider all those questions which 
have been raised by Mr. Warington. I hope to see a still larger scientific 
element introduced into the Society, and that it may also include within its 
ranks a large number of men distinguished in theology and literature, who 
would especially attend to the exegetical part of the work, and to the inter- 
pretation of the various passages of Scripture which were supposed to come 
into collision with the discoveries of Science. I do not look with any doubt 
as to the result ; for I am convinced that the Word of God will continue to 
show itself impregnable, by withstanding every attack that may be made 
upon it. (Hear, hear.) 

Rev. Dunbar Heath. — As I am not a member of the Institute, I feel 


some delicacy in rising to address the meeting, but it has been intimated to 
me that I should be at liberty to make a few remarks upon the paper, and I 
shall do so with the permission of the Chairman. Speaking as an outsider, I 
would merely state what my opinion is with regard to the objects of the 
Society. I do not know how you will get on with the task which 
you have undertaken ; but I may be allowed to say that, in my 
opinion, the question of the interpretation to be put upon the 
Scriptures should not be excluded from your discussions. From what was 
stated by the essayist it appears that a great deal of latitude is allowed to 
orthodox Christians with regard to this question. Few of them are found to 
agree as to the interpretation which ought to be put upon different parts of 
the Scripture, and many of them rejected altogether a great deal of its 
obvious meaning. It strikes me, however, that the real difficulty connected 
with the question of interpretation is not so much the apparent contra- 
dictions between Scripture and Science, as the contradictions in the 
Scriptural narrative itself 

Mr. Reddie rose to order. — That question does not come within the scope 
of the objects of the Victoria Institute. And now we are not assembled to 
discuss the principles of the Society, but to discuss the paper which has 
been read.. 

Mr. Heath. — I was merely expressing my views upon the subject, but I 
will not enter into any discussion which does not come properly before the 
meeting. I will not, therefore, occupy you with any further remarks. 

Mr. Percy Bunting. — I cannot pretend to any special scientific knowledge ; 
but I am, nevertheless, very glad to be able to join in the vote of thanks 
which has been proposed to the author of the paper. I think that in laying 
before the members a plain statement of the various questions which would 
come under their consideration, .without leading them to any fixed con- 
clusions, or bringing before them the conclusions which he may have 
arrived at himself, Mr. Warington has done all he undertook to do, 
and has contributed a really valuable paper to the publications of the 
Society. I only wish that, in the future papers which may be read, those 
questions which have been touched upon by Mr. Warington could be taken 
up systematically and discussed in the order in which he has arranged them. 
I do not know whether the Council have at hand a sufficient number of men 
ready to undertake that duty ; but, if they have, it would be very 
desirable if this . suggestion were carried out. Our best thanks are 
due to Mr. Warington for the way in which he has brought the whole 
subject before us, and has grouped together the various^ objections against 
the Scripture, and the answers which they have drawn forth. I confess, 
however, that several of the topics discussed in the paper appear to me to 
involve questions of exegesis. I do not exactly see how we can get out 
of the difficulties in which we are placed if we exclude the exegetical 
question. Whether the animal mentioned in Leviticus is the hare or not, or 
whether the Hebrew word does not mean some other animal, appear to me to 
be distinctly questions of exegesis. It appears to me that the Society 


should not be confined merely to particular departments of Science, but that 
it must allow discussions upon every question which affects the truth of 
revelation, and be prepared to take up all questions of that character 
exactly at the point where they have been left off by other societies, and 
determine, if it can, how far the conclusions to which they are supposed to 
tend conflict with Scripture. All the other learned societies decline to 
entertain the question of interpretation. It must be taken up by some one, 
and I think it is especially the work of this Society. It will be our duty 
when an apparent contradiction is pointed out in Scripture to deal with it. 
We have plenty of theologians amongst us, and must not shrink from the 
difficulty of the task. 

The Chairman. — I am sure the vote of thanks to Mr. Warington will be 
readily concurred in by the meeting. It would be quite impossible to 
discuss such an extensive subject in detail. There is one point, however, in 
which I would differ from our Honorary Secretary, and that is with respect 
to the question of exegesis. I do not see how we can exclude it from our 
discussions. We have not only to determine whether an objection is really 
scientific ; but, if so, whether it is contrary to a fair interpretation of the 
Word of God. I have used the phrase really scientific advisedly, because 
nothing can be more vague than the application of the word scientific. We 
shall have to determine what is and what is not scientific. By real science I 
mean that which is established by perfect demonstration, not that based 
merely upon hypothesis. When we arrive at the real science, we shall then 
have to determine whether it is contrary to the Word of God. This can 
only be done by a fair appeal to the original language of the Scriptures. As 
an illustration of what I mean, I would only refer to the ant laying up a 
store of food in summer, and the hare chewing the cud, brought forward by 
Mr. Warington. He adduced these as two instances in which the Scriptures 
were objected to as scientifically inaccurate, and stated that the defenders of 
the Scriptures had been obliged to take other ground than that of maintaining 
their accuracy. Now here I am prepared to join issue. First with respect to the 
Ant. Scientific naturalists, with great boldness, have declared that Solomon 
was mistaken as to the habits of the ant ; — that it does not lay up a winter 
store like the bee ; that he mistook the pupa of the ant for grains of wheat (a 
pardonable error), and that on this account he stated what was not scientifi- 
cally accurate. Now, I might be disposed to question whether the matter 
could be determined by the negative kind of evidence used by our naturalists. 
The various tribes of ants differ as much in their instincts as do the various 
tribes of the bee. And he must be a bold man who would predicate, from 
what he knew of one tribe, what might be the strange instincts of another. 
I might venture to ask .the naturalist, what he knew of the instincts of the 
ant in Palestine ? But I need not confine myself to mere conjecture that 
Solomon was scientifically correct ; for what was lately considered highly 
improbable by the naturalist, becomes by the advance of the study of 
Natural History probable in the highest degree. I can appeal on this 
subject to the high authority of Mr. Darwin as a naturalist. That gentleman 


read an abstract before the Linnsean Society, in 1861, of a paper by 
Dr. Lincecum, describing what he calls the " Agricultural Ant." This ant is 
a native of Texas. Not only does it lay up a store of seed, but it cultivates 
it It plants a crop of peculiar grass in a circular space round its mound. It 
prepares the ground, sows the seed, weeds the crop, harvests it when ripe, 
carefully winnowing the grain, and then stores it up for use. The grain is a 
kind of miniature rice. In wet weather the stores get damp, and the grain 
becomes liable to sprout, but the ants take advantage of the first fine day to 
bring out the damp and damaged grain, expose it to the sun till it is dry, 
then they carry it back and pack away all the sound seeds, leaving those 
that had sprouted to waste. I quote the abstract of this paper from Wood's 
Hemes without Hands. Now, I would venture to remind you that we 
have here 'the observations of a scientific naturalist founded upon twelve 
years 9 careful watching of the habits of this species of ant Ignorant as we 
confessedly are of the Natural History of Palestine, I think no naturalist 
will be forced by his science now to maintain that Solomon was necessarily 
ignorant of the habits of the animal he described. So much for the ant 
The case of the hare chewing the cud gives me a still better illustration of 
the method of dealing with these controversies. Dr. Colenso has lately given 
great prominence to this subject, asserting that, if Moses as a lawgiver made 
a scientific blunder with respect to the hare, he could not be inspired. Now, 
this is one of those questions in which I think we may invoke the aid of 
exegesis. Does Moses assert that the hare chews the cud? Is it certain 
that our translators have correctly interpreted the word used by Moses as the 
hare ? Now, to go no farther back than the Septuagint translation of the 
Old Testament, made some two or three centuries before Christ by Alexan- 
drine Jews, I think we may there discover a proof that at that period there 
was considerable doubt as to the identity of the animal spoken of by Moses. 
The Hebrew word Arnebeth, which our translators interpret the hare, occurs 
but twice in the Old Testament : Lev. xi. 6, and Deut xiv. 7. In both 
these texts the Arnebeih is associated with two other animals as forbidden 
food, the camel, and one called in Hebrew the Shaphan, because, though 
they chew the cud, they divide not the hoof. Now, the Shaphan our 
translators have construed as the coney, or rabbit, while many of the copies 
of the Septuagint read the x o *P°yp^ to c, or hedgehog. Beside these two 
passages of Scripture, we find the Shaphan mentioned in two other places, 
in Psalm civ. 18, and in Proverbs xxx. 26. Now, that there was great 
uncertainty with regard to the Septuagint translation of the word Shaphan, 
we find proof in the fact of the various readings of that translation. While 
many copies of the Septuagint give us xoipoyp^XXtoc, others render the word 
Shaphan by \ay<o6v, a hare. Still further, to show the uncertainty as to the 
translation of the words Arnebeth and Shaphan, the Greek renderings of 
these words are interchanged in the various readings of the Septuagint. 
While the Septuagint, therefore, throws considerable doubt on its own 
renderings of the words Arnebeth and Shaphan, comparative philology gives 
little or no aid to our researches. From exegetical considerations alone, 


therefore, we might protest against any charge of scientific inaccuracy being 
brought against the Old Testament Scriptures, where the rendering of the 
Hebrew name of the animal* in question was evidently doubtful, long before 
Natural History was cultivated as a science. Supposing, however, we admit, 
for the sake of argument, that the Arnebeth is the hare, can we still maintain 
that the hare does not chew the cud 1 Since the hare makes a motion like 
chewing the cud, it has been supposed that Moses made the mistake that the 
hare did chew the cud, while in reality it does not. Has this been demon- 
strated? Naturalists have found it convenient, in forming an artificial 
arrangement of animals, to constitute a class called the Buminantia. All 
these animals have four stomachs, and all chew the cud. This is one of the 
best marked divisions of animals naturalists have devised. The camel, 
though presenting some anomalies when compared with the other Rumi- 
nantia, belongs to this class. But does it follow that all animals which have 
. not four stomachs do not chew the cud ; do not, in other words, regurgitate 
their food habitually, for the purpose of completing its mastication ? I think 
not. Indeed, I am prepared to bring proof to the contrary. I have already 
referred to the word Shaphan, translated in our version of the Bible coney. If 
I refer to the article Coney in " Smith's Dictionary of the Bible," I find the 
writer of the article showing that, in all probability, the animal corre- 
sponding to the Hebrew word is the Hyrax Syriacus, an animal abundant 
in Syria, and corresponding in all its habits to the Scriptural descrip- 
tion of the Shaphan, except chewing the cud. Now I can addduce 
undesigned testimony to the fact thaf the Hyrax does chew the cud, 
though it does not belong to the order rvminantia. The Hyrax is a 
most puzzling creature to the scientific naturalist ; he hardly knows where to 
class it. Resembling the rabbit so closely as to be popularly called the rock 
rabbit,* the naturalist classes it with the rhinoceros tribe. Mr. Hennah, as 
stated in the transactions of the Zoological Society of London, shot many of 
the Cape Hyrax in the Cape of Good Hope. He found that the stomachs of 
those he shot were always much distended with food scarcely masticated. 
Moreover, he tamed a couple of these little creatures, and he makes this 
assertion : " I have also heard it chewing its food by night, when everything 
has been quiet, and after going into its sleeping apartment." We have also 
the authority of Cuvier for maintaining that the Cape Hyrax is of the same 
species as the Hyrax Syriacus. Surely, then, we have undesigned testimony 
to the fact, that an animal not belonging to the order ruminantia regurgitates 
imperfectly-masticated food for the purpose of completely masticating it. 
But we can refer to human ruminants. If you take up most works on physiology 
you will find an article on human rumination. The cases of individuals posses- 

* This popular name for the Hyrax is most important, in connection with 
the two passages of Scripture in which the " coney " is partially described. 
For instance, in the Psalms (civ. 18), we have, "The high hills are a refuge for 
the wild goats, and the rocks for the conies ; " and in Proverbs (xxx. 26), "The 
conies are bnt a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks." The conies 
referred to in these passages are evidently " rock rabbits ; " and, if so, this 
almost settles the question. 


sing and habitually exercising this power are by no means rare. It is 
attested by some of the greatest physiologists. We cannot ask the ox or the 
sheep whether rumination is a voluntary or involuntary action, but we may the 
human ruminant. This, therefore, is a question on which we may appeal from 
the mere systematic naturalist — who tries to discover anatomical considerations 
for the convenient and systematic classification of animals — to the physiologist 
and the careful observer of nature. The physiologist admits that animals not 
, of the order ruminantia do chew the cud. A careful observer who tamed the 
Hyrax found that it did chew the cud. Cowper, the poet, kept tamed hares, 
and he, no incompetent observer, asserted that his hares did chew the cud. 
Surely we need not, therefore, feel ourselves obliged to condemn the writings 
of Moses as scientifically inaccurate, even though we should admit that arnebeth 
is rightly translated the hare. The question of exegesis I think will also 
come forcibly before us on geological questions. Theologians have been 
taunted for adapting their exegesis of Scripture to suit the hypotheses of 
geological science, I think most unfairly. The meaning of the term translated 
"day" in the first chapter of Genesis was a matter of discussion among 
the ancient fathers of the Church on philological grounds, long before such a 
, science as geology was thought of. An interpretation of the word " day " 
was taken from these theologians by some of our most eminent geological 
authorities, because they thought it favoured their hypotheses. Now that 
these hypotheses seem to be untenable, the scientific objector turns upon the 
defender of Scripture and asks him, why he uses an interpretation lately so 
strongly insisted upon by the scientific geologist. Upon this question I 
cannot now enter. I think now the theologian has a right, before he attempts 
to answer the objections urged from geology, to require the geologist to give 
a demonstrative proof for his assertions. * I know no science more remote 
from an exact science than that of geology — no science the hypotheses of 
which are so fluctuating. Hardly a geological hypothesis now maintained is 
much more than ten years old. I have investigated most of the proofs 
formerly urged for the great antiquity of the fossiliferous strata of the earth. 
I have found scarcely one which has not been contradicted by more recent 
observations. Whatever we may say in favour of theological dogmas, we cannot 
permit dogmatism in the world of science. " There everything must stand or 
fall by the test of rigid proof and demonstration. Without further trespassing 
on your time, I am sure you will all cordially unite with me in a vote of 
thanks to Mr. Warington for his interesting paper, and for the vigorous 
manner in which he has dealt with the question to which he has applied 
The vote of thanks having been carried by acclamation, 
Mr. Warington, in acknowledging the compliment, said — If I had closely 
adhered to the rules of the Society, as laid down in print, I believe the 
question of exegesis, would not have come within the scope of the discussion ; 
but I felt that it would be absolutely impossible to deal with the subject 
without some reference to exegesis. I have quoted no objection whatever 
against the Scriptures which I have not found in print, but I did not give 

whom I quoted found their objections upon a careful observation, not only 
of the habits of the ants in England, but in Palestine. With respect to the 
translation of the Septuagint, it was plain that the transcribers were aware 
that the hare and the coney did not chew the cud, for the; insetted the word 
" not " in the passage, though it clearly did not belong to it, and destroyed the 
sense in toto 

The Chairman.— 1 confess I was not aware of that fact before. 

Mr. Warihgton. — If the chairman will examine the text* he will find that 
the word " not " has been inserted. With these observations, I will only thank 
you for the kind attention which you have given to the' paper, and I 
hope that it may prove in some respects beneficial to the cause which we 
have all at heart. (Applause.) 

The Chairmah then adjourned the meeting to the 16th of June. 

• Vatican MS. 


ORDINARY MEETING, June 18, 1866. 
The Rev. Walter Mitchell, Vice-President, in the Chair. 

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed. 

The following Paper was then read by Montagu Burnett, Esq., M.A., 
in the absence of his father : — 

STANDARDS OF TRUTH. By Charles Mountford 
Burnett, Esq., M.D., Vice-President. 

NOTHING- would appear to be more reasonable or more 
just than that the natural mind of man, that mind which 
was made to contemplate every visible object we behold around 
us, should be adapted and fitted for that purpose with the 
highest degree of accuracy ; so that precision and perfection 
should be in its ultimate sense the end to be obtained. 

We have, accordingly, provided for this purpose, both ex- 
ternal and internal organs of sense, which, when applied to 
the objects around, cannot fail to convince us, that they have 
been furnished with a view to ascertaining the more intricate 
nature, or the more obscure characters of those objects; by 
which we have put into our possession an instrument that 
conveys to us with assurance doubly sure, that we cannot be 
mistaken when they undertake to inform us on such matters. 
So that while our outward senses are engaged to put before 
us within a prescribed range all that really comprises the 
outward world, we are enabled with our inward faculties to 
compare, to reason upon, and to bring to bear the order and 
the regularity, as well as the beauty and perfection of that 
work which is set in our midst, apparently for the express 
purpose of our guidance and contemplation. 

The more we ponder upon this magnificent work, the more 
we become impressed with the sublimity and grandeur of its 
design ; so that before we ascend to those surer and higher 



tests which are to convince us still more assuredly that a 
profound design, an unvarying precision, marks the movements 
with which this globe performs its daily evolutions ; the more 
certain are we, that one great Artificer made it what it is, 
and stamped it with laws which cause every part to be de- 
pendent on the rest ; and thus we have a proof that one Mind 
and one Will gave it a real existence. 

But could this Being have determined that any other result 
but truth should issue from the contemplation of such a work ? 
Could any uncertainty be made to proceed out of a work which, 
on every side, bespeaks not merely magnificence and beauty, 
but regularity and order. 

Surely we could not decide, with the reasoning powers we 
possess, that this fair and beauteous work was made to mislead 
and misinform man, that one of all the denizens of the earth 
who alone is able to be convinced that a perfect God made the 
heavens and the earth, and all things therein, with a mar- 
vellous wisdom. 

Can we then be surprised that man should believe that he 
beholds in this work the finger of an unerring and perfect 
God, and that it should be set for his natural belief in the 
greatness and unchangeableness of that God ? 

Can we be surprised that with such faculties as enable him 
to do it, man should have power to link together the worlds 
that float in the heavens around him, or to discover the laws 
by which those worlds are moved, or to note the revolutions 
which they were made to observe? 

Can we be surprised that as man's knowledge of one law 
was succeeded by that of another, and that as his appre- 
hension of those laws became more certain, more cumulative in 
character, that he became less disposed to give them up as a 
standard of truth, as a foundation on which to erect a chronicle 
of time and of events, to which he could look backwards or 
forwards with security and confidence ? And before we take 
upon ourselves the authority of answering these questions, we 
must state at once, that with regard to the work in question, 
there cannot be any doubt abstractedly of the correctness and 
invariableness of this standard. It is not, therefore, on the 
side of the standard of Truth itself, that there is any short- 
coming in its ability to furnish it, but the imperfection is on 
the side of man. Fallen from his original perfection, he fails 
to bear morally that relation to the natural creation which he 
did before the fall, and therefore his impaired faculties have 
failed to justify his reliance upon them as a standard of 

We have not only the experience of ages to prove this A but 


it is confirmed by Revelation, another standard of Truth 
given to man after his fall, by the same Being who established 
the first standard, after man was in a state which shut out 
from him the possibility of his reaching all the knowledge 
necessary for his eternal salvation. 

Every believer knows that " the world by nature knew not 
God/' and that we cannot by this means find Him out to 

" Canst thou by searching find out God ? Canst thou find 
out the Almighty to perfection ? It is high as heaven, what 
canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know?" 
Yet that man in his natural state had every inducement to 
believe that by the light of natiire, when unassisted by any 
other standard of truth, by which he was to arrive at a higher 
fuller meaning of the word, I must deny. 

If in this belief he was otherwise to be instructed, if he 
was to learn that up to a certain point only his conclusions 
might be right, and that wisdom, order, and unchangeableness 
were in this direction to be the only evidences which natural 
philosophy would afford him in finding out the ways of God; 
it is no discredit to him that he had overrated this standard as 
an evidence of truth, and had given it a power* of unfolding 
more definite and important truths which it really had no 
means of accomplishing. This fact has never been placed 
before the mind of the natural philosopher in its true light, 
but too often opprobrium and contempt have taken the place 
of that reasoning which it was in the powec of their opponents 
to use with so much success. If the natural philosopher were 
ever to be convinced that he had at this point taken a devious 
path, it would have to be accomplished only through a well- 
considered and well-conducted argument, too sound to be 
refuted, and too unmistakeable to need any mixture of ridicule 
or abuse. For if we know our adversary is in error, this calls 
the more strongly on our part for forbearance and patience, 
but above all for circumspection, lest in our zeal to correct 
others, upon so difficult a question, where faith plays so im- 
portant a part, we display a mind and a temper which badly 
recommend the truth, and are totally at variance with that far 
higher knowledge which we profess to believe in, but which, 
by our want of charity, we have failed to recommend to others. 

But now, for the sake of argument, I will ask you hypotheti- 
cally to believe, that no other knowledge but that which we 
derive from nature, has been placed within our reach ; and 
that man has been provided with no other source whence to 
discover the truth of his real destiny. Let us, for the sake of 
preserving the hypothesis, suppose him to .proceed to investi- 



gate all that he can see around him in the earth and in the 
heavens. Feeling sure that truth can only be arrived at 
through this one channel, he spares no research, and is 
neglectful of no means likely to make his conclusions certain, 
and his inferences not to be disputed. He weighs these things 
in the balance of induction, and he tests them there, by their 
conformity to those laws which he has now discovered to be 
unchangeable. He penetrates the crust of the earth, and the 
very first object that presents itself to his mind, is one that, 
while it confirms the conjectures which he has already arrived 
at, by seeing that both man and animals are subject to death, 
presents also a difficulty which he is unable to explain by any 
law within his reach ; for the difficulty is opposed to the care- 
ful and regular computation of time. He finds, for example, 
that not only whole genera and species of the living creation 
have been entombed in the earth, but that genera and species, 
not now forming any part of the living creation, have also been 
buried there. And from the space and order and other 
characteristics which these remains exhibit there, he gathers 
that the living creation was not the first creation, but only one 
of a series which have followed each other in succession during 
countless ages of the world. He discovers, further, that these 
acts of creative power were manifested by slow and varied 
degrees, so that they took many thousands of years for their 
completion. Further, he discovers that man was created at a 
comparatively recent period of the earth, only parallel with 
those animals we now see alive upon its surface. And the 
truth of all these deductions rests alone upon the position of 
these remains in a certain relation to others, and in such order, 
that the inference cannot otherwise be drawn, than that they 
occupied in time a regular and independent place in the order 
and sequence of creation. That is, he recognizes several 
distinct creations, which had no more connection with the one 
that went before, than what was to be implied in the supposed 
fitness of each for a condition of things then existing on the 
earth, which had not previously existed. 

That these difficulties, unfolded by the investigation of the 
earth, as the natural philosopher explored her interior for the 
discovery of truth, ought to have led him to conclusions so 
vast and so important, with greater caution, can only fairly be 
admitted. They should have led him to examine the grounds 
on which he sought to establish so wide and so high a standard 
of truth, upon a basis so limited and unsustained. Whereas, 
a fair amount of reasoning should have satisfied the natural 
philosopher, who joined in this hyphothesis, that no such 
inference could justly be drawn ; that because a large portion 



of the animal creation, found buried in the earth had become 
extinct, therefore that portion had preceded the present 
creation, as a separate and consecutive act of the Creator. 

The legitimate inference to be drawn from these facts by- 
natural philosophy alone, as an unquestionable evidence of truth, 
was simply this ; Viz., that from some cause not capable of 
being found out by this channel, death had at some time been 
introduced into the world. 

But the knowledge of natural philosophy had previously 
carried human investigation further than this, in the examina- 
tion of the laws that govern the heavenly bodies, though no 
attempt was made to show natural philosophers, by this means, 
that they were able to satisfy their minds of more than of the 
existence of a God, and of the wisdom and power He had 

So much, therefore, of the truth they had attained, and 
so far their views were opposed to none who call themselves 
true philosophers. So far, we presume, no one desires to 
subtract from Natural Philosophy, that which she has so 
patiently and triumphantly earned, by the most painstaking 
and diligent perseverance. For she has rolled away a great 
stone from that aperture whence light came to us in the 
darker ages of the world ; and if she could have increased that 
light by means within her reach, she would have done so 
heartily and earnestly. It should ever then be remembered 
that it was not her wilful fault that she could not do more, bub 
her very pardonable error, that she attempted to do too much. 
But after Newton's death, naturalists began to claim for 
natural science in general more than she was able to tell us. 
As a great naturalist said, " We admire the power by which 
the human mind has measured the motions of the celestial 
bodies, which nature seemed for ever to have concealed from 
our view. Genius and science have burst the limits of space, 
and observations explained by just reasoning have unveiled 
the mechanism of the world."* Here the wise philosopher 
should have stopped ; and even in this position greater humility 
would have become him better. Truly it was a great achieve- 
ment to be able, thus far, to advance in the confirmation of 
truth, though a more perfect knowledge even in this direction 
has proved, that the unveiling of the mechanism of the heavens 
to man in his present state was not incompatible with calcula- 
tions which assure us, that though there was no doubt of the 
invariableness of that Being who made them, yet there was a 
doubt of those who reduced that invariableness to figures. 

* Cinder's Theory of ike Earth, translated by Professor Jamieson. 



When, therefore, this great philosopher went on to say, 
Would it not also be glorious for man to burst the limits of 
time, and, by means of observations, to ascertain the history 
of this world, and the succession of events which preceded 
the birth of the human race ? " then I could no longer follow 
him, though he were a great philosopher ; being assured that 
while the fact of many events in the history of the earth 
may be proved by the investigation of its structure, and 
many of the laws by which its movements are governed, 
though not explained with the most undeviating accuracy, 
may nevertheless prove sufficiently correct to convince us that 
they are in themselves invariable; yet when past or future 
time came to be judged of by this method of induction, and 
we proceed to dogmatize upon our power to compute it, through 
the agency of rocks or bones, or other things unfolded to us 
by exploring the interior of the earth, we can then no longer 
trace any connection between the things stated and the sup- 
posed proofs which were adduced to show that the right con- 
clusion was in this way to be inferred. 

We can judge of time imperfectly by the laws of induction. 
Time stands in relation to geological events very much in the 
same position as death. When it is used to explain causes 
that are not reducible to those laws, it is simply impossible. 
Even when we judge of time nearer to us, there is a difficulty 
in computing it, if it do not come within the range of those 
laws ; if, for instance, we judge of the operation of time, as we 
judge of it surrounded by light and air, or by things not 
surrounded by these elements. Some time ago, the cities 
Herculaneum and Pompeii were discovered. They had been 
more than 2,000 years, as it were, hermetically sealed from 
these agencies. What was the consequence ? The oil was 
found still in the lamp, the wine still in the bottle, the colours 
were preserved on the walls, and no change had passed over 
the most delicate substances, though all this time had elapsed 
since they took up that position in which they were to be pre- 
served unchanged through so long a lapse of time. To use 
the language of a classical writer, we may say here, " Time 
has had its wings petrified in the midst of its flight." 

But to take an instance from some geological example. 
Take a common rounded flint from the sea-shore. We behold 
it, even and water- worn ; we observe it so hard, almost inca- 
pable of being scratched by the sharpest instrument, that an 
immense period of time must have elapsed to produce any 
effect upon so hard a surface, by the common friction it is 
exposed to at the present time. Probably it would take 
many thousand years to produce such an effect as that before 


u£, yet who can say it was not produced in five minutes of our 
time without a miracle. If the stone was worn before it was 
hardened, it certainly could be done in five minutes, and 
what is there to show that the hardness preceded or followed 
the friction? 

So that when we seek to deduce conclusions which we think 
are borne out in the same direction, without calculating the 
changed differences of the two cases, we not only exceed the 
limits of truth, to which inductive philosophy is entitled to 
bear them, but we place ourselves at once in a formidable 
attitude with respect to an entirely different source of truth, 
from which was to be drawn, nothing that natural philosophy 
had not advanced up to a certain point. For each source had 
equally affirmed the existence of one God, and that that God 
was infinite in power, and unchangeable in purpose. But here, it 
would have been well if Natural Philosophy had paused. The 
standard of truth to which we now appeal, confirmed, as we 
have said before, all that Natural Philosophy had asserted up 
to a given point, beyond which she was unable to give any 
right inferences or deductions. This higher and more detailed 
standard of truth was Revelation. 

But, as some would say,* what is Revelation that we should 
believe her statements before the evidence of our senses? 
Here we must answer, that Revelation is a message expressly 
sent from God to man for his direction and instruction in 
those things which closely concern his eternal destiny, and 
which he could not have known in any other way. This 
is a very vital point, requiring to be kept steadily in the 
mind, especially in these times ; for if there were any way 
besides Revelation that could have informed us that death 
had been brought into the world by sin, then we should 
have had more reason to believe that Revelation was un- 
necessary. But Revelation was no other than the Spirit of 
God speaking through men of every rank of life, and its 
claims to our belief rested on many infallible proofs. Thus, it 
was quoted on many occasions by the Saviour of the world 
whom it first made known to man. It made assertions which 
most accurately came to pass as it had said; and, moreover, 
it challenged the whole world to disprove a single state* 
ment that it made. But besides this, it made another claim 
upon our belief still more remarkable; for it made state* 
ments which were contrary to our natural belief, so asto- 
nishing, that if some of the most remarkable had not already 
come to pass, we might have disbelieved them altogether. 

But, in order that we might not do so, we should notice with 
attention the course she has pursued. She had at this point 


to take up a chain which natural philosophy was nnable to 
link together or to find ; in other words, to make statements 
which could not even be guessed at, or carried out by natural 
philosophy alone ; as there was no necessary induction that 
could certainly follow the announcement of the facts which 
natural philosophy thought she was able to make. Let me 
make this clearer by example : the fact that death was to be 
announced from the earliest period to which geology really 
could point, showed this truth; viz., that while Revelation 
would not contradict natural philosophy as far as the certainty 
of this fact went, that death had come into the world; at this 
point she takes it upon herself, if we may so say she takes it 
out of the hands of induction, i. e. out of the hands of geology, 
and at once proceeds to give the reason why death came into 
the world, — viz., as the consequence of sin; and when it came 
into the world, — viz., as the consequence of Adam's sin. 

Natural philosophers here, very unwisely, advanced beyond 
the confines of that science which they undertook to unfold. 
They told us that it was in order that other creatures might 
take the place of those that had died, that death was brought 
into the world. 

But if this was the truth, then it must be seen by all, 
that Revelation and Natural Science are not agreed upon this 
point; and which of the two standards of truth has most 
claim on our belief, no one, I think, can doubt, after what 
has been said. It must be clear to any one, that the con- 
nection between the fact of death and its true cause was not 
likely to be found buried in the strata of the earth; and 
though it is not necessary to enter here into all the important 
circumstances that render it essential to his eternal safety 
that man should know that the sin of Adam was the cause of 
death ; yet we may say here, that it was the peculiar feature 
of the truths conveyed through Revelation that they were 
not written in the Book of Nature. The Book of Nature 
confirmed the fact, and there stopped ; the Book of Revelation 
went on to explain the cause of that fact. 

The position, therefore, that Revelation took up was, to say 
the least, a very remarkable one, for it not only confirmed 
what natural philosophy had discovered, as far as the simple 
facts were concerned, but it proceeded to unfold in detail 
the particulars of a wide scheme of divine purpose, which 
was to influence arid regulate the future history of the world, 
though all that it stated on this point was before unknown. 
The veracity of what was advanced, claimed our highest 
attention, and commanded at once our respect and belief. 
And here I must mention a circumstance which, to me, is 


as unaccountable as any of the difficulties which natural 
philosophy has to contend with, in undertaking to unfold a 
system of truth which is to apply accurately to the most 
minute events, past, present, and future, connected with the 
destiny of this world. If this Revelation had been the mere 
invention of man, if its natural evidence were dead against 
the probability of its truth, how do we get over this difficulty, 
that it holds to this day higher grounds than any other 
evidence we can advance ; and in this position, what folly is 
it to suppose that it does so by putting forth a reasoning 
that is not even parallel with, but below, the reasoning of 
man ? And what makes the position of this reasoning so 
conflicting is, when we ask where was the necessity of God's 
revealing to man that which was already to be found in the 
evidences of the natural world? We oblige ourselves to 
believe, when we take up such a position, that He who offers 
himself as our Divine instructor, is capable of committing an 
act of supererogation, that at once places Him below His 
reasoning creatures. If there were nothing more to tell us 
than we might naturally discern with the aid of those facul- 
ties we already possess, for the investigation of the physical 
world around us, where was the need of a higher and super- 
natural method of conveying those truths to our minds, which 
Revelation alone undertook to make known to us ? 

This argument forces us to respect the authority of Revela- 
tion without cavil. But I said that it staked its veracity 
upon grounds which one falsehood would have been sufficient 
to overthrow. It had asserted that not one statement should 
fail of all that it had advanced. This was, indeed, a bold 
assertion, if it was not to come from a standard of truth 
higher than natural philosophy. But the marvel still increases. 
It proceeded at once to break new ground, to ride over, as 
it were, the prejudices and assertions of all who pioneered 
in the path of truth. For it at once showed that geology 
had not the most distant conception of the cause of death, 
and without foundation had stated what was not the truth. 

If we are attentive to compare the statement of Revelation, 
as to the case of the six days' creation offered there for our 
belief, we shall at once be struck with the unique and 
wonderful explanation which is there given of it without reserve. 

And if we place this alongside of the statement offered by 
geologists, we must indeed be astonished at the inexplicable 
difficulty, the irreconcileable assertions which we here meet 
with. Thus, while the one makes no hesitation, no explana- 
tion, in affirming, what perhaps was the least likely thing 
ever to enter the mind, viz., that in six natural days of 


twenty-four hours, the Lord made this earth, anc} all that 
in it is ; the natural philosopher asserts that the world was 
not made for many thousand years. 

So that, while both authorities are able to confirm one 
another in the great fact that all things were created with the 
knowledge and power of an infinite God, both were not capable 
of giving a minute explanation of the mcmner and the time in 
which this event was completed. 

And there was ample reason to show why inductive philo- 
sophy was unable to furnish this more detailed explanation, 
and why nothing less than divine inspiration could do so. 

The creation having at first been made perfect, it was, 
after a certain period, to become so far interrupted, as that a 
large portion of the then living part should be destroyed 
by water. This was a catastrophe not reasonably to be 
inferred or expected. There was nothing in the chain of 
perfect creation to lead to or to link this event with anything 
that had gone before, without the aid of Revelation to guide us. 
It formed no part, it was not in fulfilment, of any of those 
laws which had been attached to creation at the time it was 
originally formed. It was even brought about by means that 
were not only independent of those laws, but that actually 
defied them. As if to show us that, as creation was first 
brought into existence before those laws were made which 
were destined to regulate it, so here, by the same Power, the 
earth could be destroyed without making any appeal to those 
laws which were given to it for its continuance. 

As, in the first instance, all things were made by miraculous 
and supernatural power, before those laws were brought into 
action which were to guide them, so, when the time came 
that the creatures were to be destroyed which were upon its 
surface, their destruction was effected by supernatural means ; 
and, as such, they could furnish no more evidence as found 
in the earth, how or when the Deluge occurred, than they 
could tell us how the earth was formed in six days. 

There was nothing in the bowels of the earth to satisfy 
man of the reason of this catastrophe, and without Revelation 
we should be ignorant of its causes at this time, though we 
might see and adduce abundant evidences of the fact having 
taken place. 

It was not necessary to show that that act of creative power, 
which marked the operations of the Divine hand in the six days' 
creation, was an operation so strictly limited that man could 
not contemplate God in the capacity of a natural Creator 
subsequent to those six days. 

But, as we limit these higher truths to the light of Revela- 


fclon alone, it becomes us to be very careful how we make thai; 
Revelation say what, perhaps, it did not say. This is a difficulty 
with which the Biblical student will often have to deal, and 
if he is just, he will give to the natural philosopher all the 
advantage to which he is entitled, when we oblige him to 
receive authority so high, and so unique, injured and misin- 
terpreted as it is, or at any rate not rendered clear, and 
'without doubt, in many passages that are now even obscure 
in the present day. A great responsibility rests on, those 
that have made the word of God say what it does not say. 
For instance, it is all-important, if we want to conduct this 
argument with due justice to both sides, that we decide, more 
correctly than has hitherto been done, what was really com- 
prehended in the six days of the living creation mentioned in * 
Genesis ; and that obliges us to say, that neither the original 
Hebrew in Genesis, nor natural philosophy compels us to 
understand that every creature we now find on the earth had 
its exact counterpart in that six days' creation. 

But I have made an assertion which I can hardly expect 
those who have not been able yet to believe it, will receive 
without some further proof. Indeed there would be no 
necessity that I should occupy your time in this place and 
upon this occasion, if my arguments were exclusively to be 
drawn from the proofs of the supernatural source from which 
Revelation derives her authority. It would be unreasonable 
to expect this ; and charity alone, which makes allowance for 
all those who differ from ourselves, obliges me to give a 
reason for what I state, in language which is nearer to the 
arguments taken up by those who differ from myself. It is 
only fair, therefore, that I draw my argument from geological 
sources. Thus, geologists are very confident in their asser- 
tion that more than one independent creation has passed out 
of the hands of the Creator. They are persuadea that they 
see marks in the fossils that have been entombed in the earth, 
distinct enough in their character to justify them in drawing 
the inference that they were separate and independent acts of 
creation — separate as regards time and general external appear- 
ance ; and I wish it to be noticed that it is not a consequence 
that, because great stress is thrown upon the expression " very 
good/' as applied by God himself to that creation in Genesis 
mentioned in the six days, therefore all the animals that we 
see now alive necessarily constituted part of that creation. 

The term "very good" cannot be a term taken in the 
abstract, but must necessarily form a proper relation to the 
time and circumstances of that creation to which it applied. 
In this sense, that creation which was so described by its 


Creator (by one who is Himself perfect), could have no fault, 
or disjointed appearance, palpable to fallen man. But it is 
not therefore a consequence that God might not have created 
animals at a subsequent period, such, e. g., as after the Deluge, 
which then would form a better and closer relationship to the 
changed circumstances that had just taken place. The point 
here most to be attended to is, that no living creation preceded 
the one in question. The error of geologists has been the 
mixing up of the cause of the destruction of the present 
creation, mentioned in Revelation, with other causes which 
they suppose preceded it. Th^y erroneously assume that 
death preceded the creation in Genesis ; and therefore they 
deny that all the ravages caused by death could have pro- 
ceeded from the one deluge mentioned in Genesis. But 
there is more difficulty here in believing that all the evidences 
of destruction of life which we discover buried in the earth 
proceeded from different and successive causes, than there is 
in believing and proving that death proceeded from one cause, 
as stated in Genesis. 

If we proceed to investigate and to compare the remains of 
fossil animals of all kinds that have ever been exhumed from 
the earth, we shall find that there is no exception to this rule : 
that independently of the marks of design which identify 
them as the work of the same God, there are other marks 
upon them which show that they filled up places that must 
otherwise have been vacant in that creation which was pro- 
nounced by God to be " very good." 

And as we know that many parts of that creation have 
become extinct, that some hundreds of its higher species, 
and four-fifths of its lower species have disappeared (for 
though these may not be all extinct, yet we have never 
seen them alive, and only some of them in a fossil state), we 
are sure there must be found in the earth many animals, the 
representatives of which are not now seen amongst the living 
parts ; yet amongst none of them could it be said from their 
appearance that they had no connection, and were totally 
isolated from the living creations supposed to precede the one 
mentioned in Genesis. Everything that has been discovered 
in the earth, only serves to make more perfect that living 
creation which, as far as we know of its disjointed character, 
occupies the earth at the present time. 

It is in this way that we are indebted to geology for in- 
structing us more minutely as to what the creation must have 
been at the time when it received the title of " very good/' 
when it came forth from the hands of the Creator. And but 
for the discoveries of geology, we should have had a less 


detailed idea of the extent of the disruption which has taken 
place in that creation which we now behold. For the 
most delicate and perishable organizations — particularly in 
the lower species — have been preserved so beautifully and 
wonderfully, that we could not have known of their existence 
at all, but for the care which has been taken of them in the 
bowels of the earth. 

Yet with all that the earth can disclose, and calculating 
every known species or individual that has ever been dis- 
covered, there are still many difficulties to be explained and 
many links to be repaired, from those animals that have been 
entombed, before we can presume to say that we have in our 
possession, before our eyes, that one creation which drew 
forth from its Creator those memorable words, " And God saw 
everything that He had made, and behold it was very good." 
If we go into the most extensive collection of recent and fossil 
remains of animals, if we study the national museums in this 
department of history, we must see directly that all our power 
to reach anything like perfection in this direction has failed ; 
that often the chain, or the circle, has been lost, and we cannot 
trace it. 

The very infirmity of our mode of grouping the animal 
creation together, shows the failure which must attend the 
effort of any finite being to study to perfection the work of 
an Infinite God. But the great difficulty we have of arriving 
at the truth of what constitutes the living creation, is not 
confined to the impossibility of determining all the genera and 
species which have become extinct. Another difficulty arises 
from our inability to form a true classification, even of what 
is before us. If we attempt to make a chain, we cannot do so 
without losing the most correct idea we can possibly have of 
the living creation. That Being who made that creation is 
Eternal. He has neither beginning nor end. This idea much 
better expresses the living natural creation by a circle, having 
neither beginning nor end, in which you can take no part or 
individual of that circle, and say one part was higher than the 

This is just the course which the Eternal Being has pursued 
in the living creation; He has made that creation up of an 
infinite variety of circles, some larger, some smaller. In this 
way we see animals linked together, not as it were by a long 
pendent chain, but by a circle ; so that in many particulars 
which characterize the individual, the more prominent parts 
of an animal are linked by a resemblance, more or less close, 
to some others. But nomenclators have, in many instances, 
strung animals together by a single link, which of course gives 


but one character by which they may be distinguished, and -con- 
sequently we must see how impossible it will be to complete 
the circle of which such animals formed a part. 

We have said that there is the greatest reason to infer and 
to believe, that no creation, in which was the breath of life, took 
place before the six days mentioned in Genesis. And we 
ground this belief on the assertion of Revelation that by man 
sin, and consequently death, came into the world. Inductive 
science says, No — death was in the world before man sinned, 
because death was in the world before man was created. 
Which of these assertions is true ? and which is most to be 
believed ? 

The assertion of inductive science claims to be believed 
on the ground of proof by natural investigation; whereas 
Revelation does not even attempt to show that there is any 
inductive proof that man's sin was the cause of death. Her 
assertion upon this point, is without explanation of any cause 
of this kind whatever. We are therefore driven to inquire, 
whether the inductive method will bear out the natural philo- 
sopher ; viz., whether there is any connection between the event 
of the Deluge, which they admit, and the cause, which they state 
as capable of proof from induction. 

This is the point mainly at issue; and as it is entirely 
different from Revelation, it becomes natural philosophy, in 
the first place, to prove that she can, by induction, show that 
death was in the world before man sinned. 

Bearing this in mind, that if natural philosophy could show 
by ocular and inductive proof, that death was an event which 
took place before the six days of Genesis, we should still doubt 
it ; not merely because it was not true, but because Revelation 
had said differently, and that upon grounds that I have shown 
cannot possibly be disproved, but which bear, nevertheless, 
no relation by induction. 

Now, therefore, it is my place to show that it is impossible 
by the inductive method to prove the cause why death came 
into the world. I must prove this before I can expect those 
who say that they can adduce such evidence, to alter their 
mind, and admit it is possible they were wrong. Let us, first, 
suppose that the sin of A dam, which brought death into the 
world, was the first and only cause of that occurrence. This 
will show that by the inductive method we cannot find the 
cause of death by examining the earth. We should expect to 
see some proofs by which all the genera and species which are 
entombed in the earth, might be identified in some unmistake- 
able manner with those now living. This it is important to 
show, because, if only an individual is found now in our seas, 


or in any other position on the earth, and that individual may 
be identified with living species, and we find in the supposed 
oldest formation which geology has assigned, a similar indivi- 
dual, or species, or family to which it it undoubtedly allied 
with the living creation, this at once shows that when this 
oldest formation took place, its animal contents were deposited 
at the same time, and in those animal contents one being 
found that is identical with the living creation by such a con- 
nection as I have just named, the conclusion follows, that they 
were both created at the same time, or, in other words, that 
creation which was at first formed, is the same in type as that 
which now exists. 

The difficulty to prove this is not so great as it would appear. 
The circumstance of finding many species in the supposed 
older formations of the earth which we do not find now alive, 
only proves that some of that creation, of which man formed 
part, has become extinct, and this is very naturally to be 
inferred from the altered condition of the earth (which marked 
it) before and after the great deluge. A very large portion we 
know has passed away in that catastrophe, which extinguished 
so many. There is reason to suppose the extinction of species 
to have occurred to the greatest extent in marine animals ; we 
are not surprised to find in the strata of the earth many 
genera and species strictly confined to the ocean are now found 
buried in the earth within our reach. As a matter of course, 
when the Deluge came, many of the animals that were de- 
stroyed took a position more or less attractive than others, 
from their having increased so much more between the time 
of their creation and extinction ; for, as a rule, we may deter- 
mine that the higher the position the animal took in the living 
creation, the more scarce it was, and the less the number of 
that animal likely to be found ; so that for one higher and 
warm-blooded animal we should expect, as the natural evidence 
of such a catastrophe, countless thousands in the earth of the 
lower animals, such as the Mollusca. On this account we 
shall take our example from those that are found fossil in 
greatest abundance. 

It cannot, therefore, be a surprise to any one that such a 
species as Terebratula, among these last, should be represented 
by mountain-masses. Nor would it be at all unaccountable, 
if not one of these Terebratulce should be found alive at the 
present time ; for we have evidence enough to show that when 
the Deluge came, many parts of the earth were so much dis- 
turbed as to engulf mountain-masses of those creatures that 
were then living in the seas, so effectually, as that not one 
living individual may have been preserved ; yet this is not to 


Bay that the whole earth was alike so engulfed. The evidence 
of some districts helps to show that much less fearfully dis- 
turbing causes might have occurred there than elsewhere. 

I, however, for a long time, thought that that species, 
the Terebratula, as a distinct species (varieties of which, 
amounting to more than two hundred, occupy a place in 
almost every stratum which geology has successively marked), 
was really extinct, till I had four individuals by accident 
brought to me by an old friend, whose brother, the late 
Captain J. M. R. Ince, R.N., had dredged them up in the 
harbour of Port Jackson. It is difficult, at the present 
time, to bring this fact so clearly before the mind of the 
general public as that they can understand its merits, as 
a proof of what is here brought forward. It needs some 
knowledge of the particular subject to enter into the value of 
this proof. Thus, Terebratula may be asserted to have been 
long known to exist, not by this term, because there was a 
slight difference in the hinge which justified its being recog- 
nized by a different name, but, nevertheless, so closely related 
to it that it really becomes a wider argument to show that 
species and varieties of many shells in a fossil state are closely 
identified with the living specimens. This convinced me of 
this fact ; viz., that regardless of the small number, I could 
not avoid coming to this conclusion, that the Terebratula as a 
species was that which formed part of the present creation, 
and, therefore, the present living creation was in type the 
same when that destruction came and placed them where they 
are in the earth, as we find them now. I have chosen this 
species, because it is found in so many strata of the earth, in 
some of the supposed oldest. The circumstance, then, of 
finding a variety of this species of shell now living, proves 
that the type of the first creation is the same as that now in 
existence, modified only by causes which led to an alteration in 
the earth 9 8 surface, and the changes incident to those alterations 
which took 'place on its surface. But this kind of evidence that 
the same living creation existed, altered and modified to suit 
the changes effected upon the surface of the earth since that 
creation was formed, can be afforded by other species. 

Thus the Trigonia, which, particularly on account of its 
antiquated appearance, was thought to be extinct as a species, 
till some years ago they fished up one valve of a variety of 
this species, called Trigonia pectinata. So unexpected a friend 
received more than ordinary attention; immediately it sold 
for £20 ; but, as time passed on, more of this variety were 
found ; and of course, as they became less rare, their value was 
reduced, a fate that sometimes awaits the very highest genus. 


It is sufficient for our purpose, though, to know that, old 
as the species appeared to be, there was enough of it left to 
show that the same genus marked the present creation with 
some of the oldest in the earth; for geologists show that this 
species, in many varieties, is found in the lower oolite. Now, 
it is impossible that any one can mistake the hinge of the 
-Trigonia pectin ata (the part from which the shell is named) for 
any other ; it is unique in appearance ; and we have nothing 
that approaches it nearer than the Castalia ambigua, which is 
a different genus. 

The .same mysterious circumstance appears to mark the 
chambered shells, better known to some of us by the title 
of Ammonite, which is the name which distinguishes some 
of the varieties. For a long time this was considered to be 
an extinct species, till the Spirula Peronii made its appear- 
ance, and then the whole of that large species of animals — 
of which from nearly the oldest formation, geologically speak- 
ing, vast numbers of fossil varieties are taken — was united to 
the present species, whose characters could not be mistaken. 
These examples, though only three in number, are as good as 
a thousand for our purpose. 

But I will bring forward another kind of proof to show, that 
other unmistakable signs still exist in the present living 
creation, to mark them as the same creation as geologists 
suppose came into existence before the six days mentioned in 
Genesis. There are three or four species which belong to the 
Mollusca, such as the Voluta, . Ftisus, Pyrula, and Eulimus, 
where we have a departure from the usual course of construc- 
tion in the shell, which, I believe, cannot be explained^ and, 
what is singular to notice, it is confined to these varieties. 
This alteration is no other than a complete perversion of thd 
natural aperture of the shell, so that, while thousands of 
species of univalve shells have the aperture invariably to the 
right, these four varieties have it turned to the left. 

Remarkable as this circumstance is in itself, it is of singular 
importance that it should be noticed here, for the very same 
peculiarity is to be observed in the fossil varieties of the same 
species, with the exception of Bidimus, which is not found in 
a fossil state. When we find peculiarities whioh mark the 
living and extinct parts of the creation with such a very close 
identity as this, I think we inay say there is no higher proof 
that the time which marked tne commencement of one part 
of creation still existing, was the time that marked the com- 
mencement of that part that has become extinct. 

Haying thus proved that the identity of the living and 
extinct animals have too close an analogy to admit of their 



forming two distinct acts of creation, let us now try to 
prove, in the second place, the impossibility of making two 
creations out of what we possess ; for if death must have 
attacked both, we must either suppose that there were two 
different causes for death, or else we must suppose that the 
same cause affected both. Now, if we analyze this, we find 
that we shall get no nearer to the point at issue, by multiply- 
ing creations. By the inductive method, it will be at once 
seen that we cannot prove what was the cause of death any 
better by multiplying or separating the six days' creation, and 
so trying to show that they were separate acts. 

If we look into the earth, we shall at once see we have no 
connecting point to lead us to suppose that death proceeded 
from the sin of Adam, any more because we suppose that 
there were more creations than one. It was not making the 
arguments of geologists stronger, or nearer the inductive 
proof (which is the only proof they have any right to handle), 
to say there were successive creations. 

When we know that natural philosophers have not hesitated 
to place somewhere in the present classification of animals, 
as far as our present knowledge goes, a variety or an indivi- 
dual, which we find in a fossil state, and which has not been k 
found alive, we have a sufficient proof that naturalists do not 
discover in those animals that are extinct, such signs of 
separation as to justify the idea that therefore they are a 
different creation ; although we cannot, with all the additions 
which geology makes to the creation now in existence, put 
together any other than a disjointed and imperfect creation. 

Why we should be required under such circumstances to 
make two or three separate creations, when we cannot perfect 
the one that has been broken, seems to me, not only to be a 
gratuitous, but a marvellous act. For though we have so 
many animals in a fossil state, yet we could not possibly affirm 
that they give us any good reason for believing that they 
formed a different creation. As far as they go, they all 
lock into the creation now in existence. And we say this 
very advisedly, for most of us know how very little beyond 
the mere outside of the creation now in existence we are 
able to reach. Even those who make investigations pf 
comparative anatomy their daily study, know little, compara- 
tively speaking, of by far the larger part of the inhabitants of 
the ocean. Until Professor Owen showed up the anatomy 
of the Nautilus Pompilius, no one seems to have had an 
opportunity of examining this animal since the time of 

To show that there were more creations than one, geologists 


tried to prove that when the first animals died, man was not 
upon the earth. But this supposed fact, often attempted to 
be proved, J) as never advanced so far as to give satisfaction 
to geologists alone, and if tried by the light of Revelation, it 
is entirely subverted. We have the bones of man that have 
been found in the caves of the oldest formations in which 
geologists find the remains of creatures that must have had 
life, mixed up with the bones of extinct animals, carnivora 
of so devouring a character, that it would be impossible he 
could have long continued a denizen of the earth, had he 
not been destroyed in the Deluge, and certainly it is 
impossible that man could have spread over the earth at the 
same time that they existed. 

But one perfect creation is announced in Scripture. This, 
I think, geology cannot disprove, however men may differ in 
the questions without the aid of Revelation, how or when those 
parts of that creation became extinct, or how, or when, it 
became necessary to develop by some laws inherent in the 
particular animal, other parts of the same creation adapted to 
a later period. For this creation, which was pronounced so 
perfect, very soon came partly to destruction, and that from a 
cause which no one could have discovered simply by exploring 
the interior of the earth. 

Revelation was, therefore, at once needed to tell us that 
that cause was man's sin and fall, and that death was 
denounced upon every living creature then in existence, on 
account of his sin. So that, after this statement in the sacred 
narrative, we are prepared for the still more awful and direful 
description of the universal destruction of every living thing by 
water, wherein was the breath of life, except tnose which were 
appointed to be preserved. And this catastrophe took place, 
as you all know, at the Deluge. At this event, a large portion 
of those animals which, in their original formation, whqn blended 
with the rest, formed one perfect and unbroken chain or 
circle, was entirely swept away from the face of the earth. 
They therefore became extinct. The varied forms and habits 
of these now extinct races, having been adapted to the state 
of the earth before the Deluge, rendered it necessary that at 
that catastrophe some of the animals should be exterminated. 
The food having been changed on which animals were to sub- 
sist, made it indispensable that several of the larger flesh- 
eating animals should be extinguished as well as those species 
they fed on. This appears to be very naturally accounted for, 
if, as we find was the case, man was to occupy a wider surface 
upon the earth after this event. 

I wish here to allude to a circumstance which has doubtless 

l 2 


puzzled many a. ..mind that may not have been disposed to 
regard the truths of Revelation with any disposition to doubt. 
v We have been told unmistakably there that the cause of 
death was man's sin; and it is clear that an indispensable 
condition, as well as the justice, of this belief was, that no 
interruption should have completely severed the race of Adam 
from the living man that occupied the earth after the Deluge. 

Accordingly, we find in the Mosaic account of the diluvial 
destruction, there is a means furnished, which at once insepa- 
rably connects the whole race of man, from the time of the fall 
to the present day. 

I want here to correct an error which many believers 
have fallen into in company with geologists, and which calls 
for some of that charity which, I have before said, is especially 
required in all those who attempt to combat a vexed question 
like that before u$. 

This difficulty appears to have arisen out of a circumstance 
which believers may not have suspected to exist. It is con- 
nected with the construction and position of the words in the 
original Hebrew, which first announce the Deluge. It is there 
first expressed in these words : " Of every living thing of all 
flesh, pairs of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep 
them alive with thee." Now it is to be observed that this 
command, " every living thing/' seems to be an universal 
expression. Accordingly, without any knowledge of this fact, 
that in the Hebrew, as well as in other languages, it is not at 
all uncommon to announce the fact of a subject in general or 
universal terms, but that afterwards, in continuing the subject, 
as it becomes more special, those terms are qualified by the 
context. This is the case in the instance before us ; for in the 
next chapter we find, as the particulars become more minutely 
stated, that the clean and the unclean animals are now dis- 
tinguished; so that we find seven, and not two, formed thG 
numbers of some of the animals that were taken into the ark. 
The clean and the unclean beasts, being all that were named. 
This is important to be noticed, because, by correcting it, 
we shall remove the doubts of many over the popular 
idea, that the Scripture warrants the inference that two of 
every sort of all living flesh was commanded to be brought 
into the ark. And it is so important that we should be correct 
upon this point, that I shall not apologize for adding in this 
place the Scripture authority, which makes it certain that the 
word " all " is not used in an universal sense in many parts 
of Scripture, and that it is customary there to use universal 
terms with limited significations, This fact is well known to 


many divines. Thus, we find the word used in 1 Cor. xiii. 
cannot be used but in a limited sense. 

Our Lord himself said: "All things which I have heard of 
my Father, I have made known unto you." Here it is 
evident that the term is not to be understood universally, but 
restrictively. So, in the vision of St. Peter, he beheld " a 
certain vessel wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts 
of the earth, and wild beasts and creeping things, and fowls 
of the air." It is not necessary to suppose that the animals 
here were, zoologically and numerically, all the living creation, 
but only a variety sufficiently great for the selection that Peter 
was called upon to make. Besides, Peter afterwards qualifies 
it in chap. xi. 6, in which the word "all" is left out 
altogether. "1 considered," he says, "and saw fourfooted 
beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and 
fowls of the air/' We have another example where an universal 
term could not have any other than a limited sense. Obadiah 
says to Elijah, " As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation 
or kingdom whither my lord Jhath not sent to seek thee." 

But there is no instance we could mention, perhaps, which 
bears so closely upon our present subject, while it will, I hope, 
help to make it more definite and clear, as the word day, which, 
whether in its wider or more limited sense, is so differently 
rendered in different places, as thereby to lead to the most 
painful doubts. If geologists had always borne in mind this 
fact, that whenever the word day was limited in its sense, to 
mean only twenty-four hours, that limitation is always borne 
out by the context, — the words evening and morning, or some 
like expression, being invariably added, — they would have been 
unmistakably sure, that in rendering the six days of creation 
ini Genesis i. the words evening and morning take it quite out 
of our power to attach the more lengthened period to the 
word day in this place. 

The words of Scripture do not oblige us to understand 
that every variety of living creature at the time of the Deluge , 
was necessarily taken by Noah into the ark, though all flesh 
wherein was the breath of life at that time perished. And if . 
it were possible for such a thing to have taken place, we should , 
actually have attributed to God an unnecessary act. For, * 
while there was an unerring design in not breaking the moral t 
chain which was to link the existing man with the old Adam, • 
there could be no such necessity for linking the brute creation — 
those animals which were unable to see the cause which brought 
their existence to an end. ? 

It seems, therefore, that the idea of taking animals into the 


ark for any other purpose than the accommodation of man, 
and to preserve seed alive for his comfort, places a gra- 
tuitous restraint upon our creed, and causes many to believe 
that those things which really are stated for our belief 
have a meaning attached to them which Scripture does not 

The introduction of the ark in the position that it takes in 
the Mosaic account justifies us in saying that, while it was 
only there for man's accommodation and comfort, without 
which he could not have existed or continued on the earth, it 
brings him inseparably and morally in contact with those 
parents that first brought him into existence upon the earth, 
and identifies him immediately with the punishment that had 
been denounced upon his progenitors; thereby showing the 
imperative necessity there is for man's believing that the sin 
of Adam was the only cause which led to the death of any 
creature, and that, therefore, without this cause, there would 
have been no death. The ark, therefore, placed where it is in 
the Mosaic account, not only shows the justice and consistency 
of God in uniting in this way by blood relationship the ante- 
diluvial with the post-diluvial man, but it still further verifies 
the truth of the Scriptures, that for man's sin, and for no 
other cause, death first came into the world, at the time stated 
by the Prophet. 

The Chairman. — It is my pleasing duty to ask you to tender your most 
grateful thanks to Dr. Burnett for the admirable paper just read, which has 
lost none of its force from the manner in which it has been read by Mr. 
Montagu Burnett I feel that this paper is one which requires attentive 
study. Though it may appear contrary to the popular views of geology, I 
believe it to be most accordant with the recent progress of that science. 
I venture to characterize it as a far-sighted paper, — one which could only have 
been written by a person thoroughly conversant with geological progress, 
while it is penetrated by a profound reverence for revealed truth. Dr. 
Burnett has not shrunk from any of the difficulties of the question. He has 
shown that geology has made no discoveries inconsistent with Revelation, 
while he has also shown that it has not yet developed itself into a perfect 
science. The popular theory among geologists a few years since — a theory 
retained in many modern text-books — was to ascribe the fossil remains of 
certain strata to different successive creations ; the plants and animals of 
one creation being destroyed by some cataclysm before those of the succeed- 
ing creation made their appearance. This theory is now for the most part 
abandoned as inconsistent with the facts accumulated within the last few 
years. The tendency is to abandon it altogether, and to admit one creation 
only. It is true that some would spread this creation over a large period, 
and that most still require millions or billions of years for the formation of 


the various strata of the earth yet explored. When we ask, however, for 
demonstrative proof that these strata could not have been formed in any 
shorter space of time, we are met, not with proof, but the mere assertion that 
they cannot be conceived to have been formed in a lesser space of time. 
When instead of mere assertion, we find attempted proof, from the rate of 
the deposition of mud in deltas, the gradual upheaval of strata in certain 
periods of time, the formation of coral reefs, &c., we find the assumed data 
of calculation altogether upset by other data obtained from a more careful 
survey of the phenomena relied upon. Dr. Burnett treats the subject from 
another point of view ; from a wide range of induction, he argues, from the 
unity of plan, anatomically and physiologically considered, of all the fossil 
remains of the earth yet discovered, for one, not many successive creations. 
Natural history has only been studied with anything like scientific accuracy 
for less than a couple of centuries ; yet within that time we know races of 
animals have become extinct. One picture and a few bones in the British 
Museum and Oxford, are all that we now possess as records of the Dodo. 
We cannot therefore argue, that because an animal has become extinct, it 
belongs to a former creation. Only some two specimens of the encrinite, 
so abundant in fossil strata, have yet been dredged from the bottom of the 
sea, yet there may be zones of animal life, in which it may still exist in great 
abundance, in the vast unexplored beds of the ocean. I do not think that 
geologists need complain if we call their science an imperfect one. It is yet' * 
in its infancy. The first meeting of the British Association gave a gold medal 
to William Smith, the father of English geology, — so called, because he 
first pointed out the identification of strata, not by their mineralogical 
character, but by their fossil remains. Hasty generalization and reasoning 
on the contents of these strata led to the successive-creation theory, a theory 
opposed entirely to the analogy of the present distribution of creatures on the 
earth. As an example : had Australia been submerged, and its present 
fauna been embedded in sand, clay, or calcareous matter, and then raised 
again, that fauna would certainly a few years since have been classed as a fauna 
of great geological antiquity. Geology, as a science, is one of the most 
difficult and intricate man has undertaken to explore. We need not be 
surprised if its progress be slow. The presumed great and vast antiquity of 
its many strata has not been proved ; the progress of facts tends rather to 
disprove it. In this, geology seems to be passing through the same phase 
which other sciences have done. We hear little now of the vast antiquity 
of Chinese civilization, though some would still maintain a fabulous antiquity 
for ancient Egyptian civilization. We may doubt, with Sir G. Lewis, whether 
much real progress has been made in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics ; 
but analogy with the ideographic writing of the Chinese would lead us to 
suppose that foreign names at least were represented by phonetic characters. 
In this we may credit hieroglyphists, when they decipher the names of foreign 
rulers of Egypt Judged in this manner, the vaunted antiquity of the 
Zodiac of Denderah, assumed from astronomical considerations, collapsed into 
that of comparatively modern times, by the discovery of its dedication to a 

138 ' 

Roman emperor. I am sure you will not feel less indebted to Dr. Burnett 
for the great mass, of information he has given us in his paper, than gratified 
by the noble love of truth which pervades it from beginning to end. (Hear, 

Captain Fishbourne. — I was very much struck by the observations which 
Dr. Burnett has made with respect to the disorganization of the human mind 
which had resulted from the fall of Adam. Those who disputed the truth of 
the events related in the Bible, ignore the fact that something had taken 
place with respect to the mind of man which constantly caused him to run 
contrary to his whole reason. How was this accounted for ? The opposition 
of science to revelation appeared to him to proceed in a great measure from 
ignorance on the part of those who raised the objections — ignorance of science 
and ignorance of Scripture. An instance of that was afforded in the objec- 
tion to the passage in the Bible with regard to the serpent. Here was a very 
complex question, a very difficult passage ; and the scientific man putting his 
own construction upon it, and bringing in his science to his aid, rushed at 
once to the conclusion that the Scripture was all wrong. He did not descend 
to the question of exegesis ; he read the passage in the sense which he 
thought proper to put upon it himself, and, without waiting for further in- 
quiry, he pronounced it to be all wrong. He added, that having examined 
the serpent, he found that it was never adapted for walking ; but he had no 
right to presume that the serpent had walked. There was not a word in the text 
about its having been previously erect. But he assumed too much, and he 
failed to give any proof in support of his assumption. It would be necessary 
for him first to prove that there was a pre- Adamite serpent ; secondly, that 
the interpretation which he put upon the passage in the Scripture was the 
correct one ; and thirdly, that the curse pronounced by God had reference to 
the serpent, and not to the devil. But instead of doing that, what did the 
scientific man do ? Why, he simply told them he had examined the physical 
organs of the serpent, and found that serpents never walked. He might 
as well have examined the dumb ass of Balaam, and told them it did not 
speak. (Hear.) He passed entirely out of his province when he entered into 
these questions ; — he was not in a position to deal with them. They were 
things supernatural, which he could not investigate. With a miracle once 
granted, they could afford to make the man of science a present of all such 
arguments. (Hear, hear.) Now, it was only necessary to observe the effect 
which Christianity produced on those who practised its teachings, in order 
to be convinced of its truth. With such demonstrative evidence in favour of 
the Scriptures, I think we have very good grounds for not accepting the 
deductions of simple reason, when we find them in opposition to the doctrines 
taught by the Bible. But what was the position which men of science took 
up with regard to this question ? They said, " Oh, you have so many different 
forms of belief. When you are as much agreed on the subject of religion as 
we are with regard to science, we will be prepared to listen to you." This 
was the most monstrous assertion I ever heard in my life. What is the 
acf ? Let us take, for instance, the Apostles'. Creed : Christians of all ages, 


and of nearly every denomination, had agreed to that ; and I ask those who 
taunted them with their disagreement, to produce so many articles of 
scientific faith, which they would all adopt (hear), or which they had ever 
adopted, for one century. (Hear, hear.) Nay, I challenge men of science to 
produce such a confession of faith in the truths of science, as is contained in 
the Apostles* Creed, upon which they were agreed at the present moment, or 
upon which they had agreed even for the last ten years. (Hear, hear.) When 
they have done that, it would be time enough to taunt Christians with 
their differences of opinion on matters of faith. (Hear, hear.) 

Mr. Ince. — It was not my intention to take any part in the discussion ; 
but I desire to mention a remarkable circumstance which, perhaps, no one 
else in the room is aware of, and that is, that within the last few days some 
twenty specimens of terebratuke have been found in this country, off Skye. 
On the previous Friday night I had the pleasure of examining one, and when 
I took it into my hand it was still alive, though just dying. I think it impor- 
tant to mention this fact as bearing out the arguments of Dr. Burnett, to 
whom our best thanks are due for the very valuable paper he has con- 

Mr. Warington. — In the few remarks which I shall make upon the paper, 
I shall occupy as little time as possible. It struck me that the paper was 
one which, if any sceptic had been present, would have afforded him an 
opportunity for very severe criticism. It appears to me that there is one 
radical fault in Dr. Burnett's argument, and a very radical fault it is. The 
absence of Dr. Burnett would make one loath to speak of it in a critical 
manner ; but it seems to me as if he had overlooked what the true mode of 
reasoning is by which any science obtains its conclusions. He admits that 
scientific induction in geology is just and right up to a certain point ; but 
he argues that it is presumptuous to go one step further. He admitted that 
geology was right in saying that the remains of veritable animals had been found 
in the earth, which animals certainly died ; but he contended that it was 
presumption on the part of geologists to say that those animals died before 
Adam was created. But the kind of reasoning by which geologists arrived at 
the one fact was precisely identical in principle with the kind of reasoning by 
which they arrived at the other. The difference was merely in degree. How 
was it, when a bone was discovered in the earth, that they were able to say 
that it was the bone of an animal ? Was it possible to give mathematical proof 
of it ? It was certainly impossible ; no one could tell whether it was the bone 
of an animal or not, except by analogy. They were enabled to recognize it 
as a bone, from its resemblance in form to the bones of animals with which 
they were acquainted ; but that was all the proof that could be given, and 
they had no other grounds for arriving at the conclusion that it was a bone. 
It was quite possible that there might be such a structure unconnected 
with a living animal, and that there might be such a form unconnected with 
life ; but inasmuch as no human being had ever known of such a thing, it was 
taken as proof that the structure was a bone, and that the bone was the 
bone of a living animal which had died. It was a proof which rested solely 


upon analogy ; and while Dr. Burnett admitted that the geologists were right 
in their reasoning so far, he asserted that they were not justified in fur- 
ther assuming, upon the same evidence, that those animals existed at a very 
remote period. But what was the evidence upon which geologists based 
their conclusions ? They found a bone incased in a certain rock, and they 
asked themselves the question how it had become incased there. I will take, 
for instance, the case of a bone found imbedded in sandstone. How did it 
get there ? the geologist asked. It could not be supposed that it was purposely 
buried there. It was therefore very plain that the animal must have died in 
that position, and that the rock must have accumulated round it in process 
of time. The animal must have died amongst loose sand, and the sand 
having accumulated round it, gradually became hard, until it formed sand- 
stone. This was the kind of reasoning adopted by geologists. I am not 
going to say that the conclusion is right or wrong. But it is a mode 
of reasoning which is entirely based upon analogy; and until the facts were 
otherwise accounted for, geologists had clearly as much right to assume that the 
bone had been in the rock for a long period, as they had in the first instance 
to assume that it was a bone at alL Therefore it strikes me that the argument 
of Dr. Burnett was open to objection on this ground. It appears to me that 
if the reasoning of geologists was just in the first instance, it was no presump- 
tion on their part to take the further step, unless it could be shown that the 
evidence upon which they based their conclusions was insufficient I will 
take the case which has been instanced by Dr. Burnett himself, — the case of 
the flint pebbles. It is found that pebbles are round, and geologists con- 
clude that they are made round by the action of running water. Here, 
again, they were reasoning from analogy ; for they found that pebbles exposed 
to the action of water are made round, and they had therefore concluded 
that round pebbles mast have been at some time or other exposed to the 
action of such water. And they further asserted that if pebbles had been 
made round by the action of water, the process must have occupied so 
much time. I think this is a very fair assumption, and until those who 
hold a different opinion are able to disprove it by facts, they have no 
right to complain of the views advanced by geologists. I am not going to 
say that geologists are right or wrong, but I certainly think that Dr. 
Burnett had found fault with them unjustly ; because they were not 
making hypotheses, but were reasoning from facts, as far as they knew them. 
What they want, if they were wrong, is more facts to set them right. 
Until those facts were adduced, it was useless to argue that geologists had no 
grounds for the conclusions which they arrived at I have only one more 
observation to make. I think it is rather a grave assumption on the part of 
Dr. Burnett to say that there was no death in the world before the fall of 
man. It is contrary to the opinion of a very large proportion of the best 
scholars of the present day, including those who were most opposed to the 
innovations of science, and to me it appears to be very dangerous ground to 
take. I have also a word to add with regard to the remarks which had fallen 
from one of the speakers who preceded me. I think that Captain Fishbourne 


was a little unjust to men of science who objected to the Scriptures, when 
he stated that tbey put their own interpretation upon them. To a certain 
extent that observation may be true ; but so far as I know of scientific 
objectors, they quoted the interpretations which had been received as orthodox, 
and then proceeded to show that, according to the teaching of science, these 
could not be true. They do not put an interpretation on the passage them- 
selves, but they take the commonly received interpretations, and endeavour 
to show that in that sense the Bible is inconsistent with the truths of 
science, and calculated to mislead. How far they had succeeded is a 
question into which I am not now prepared to enter ; but I think it right 
that their objections should be fairly stated, in order that they might be 
fairly met. (Hear, hear.) 

Dr. Gladstone. — There are one or two things in the paper upon which 
I should like to make a few observations ; but I feel, like Mr. Warington, 
some delicacy in doing so in the absence of Dr. Burnett My first objection is 
to the title of the paper. I cannot see why the subject treated by Dr. Burnett 
is called " A Comparison between Science and Revelation, as Standards of 
Truth.*' I think those two terms are incompatible. The term science is 
very indefinite ; it might mean natural science, or theological science, or 
metaphysical science, or political science. But when we come to the essay 
itself, I find it commences very properly with the statement that God created 
the entire world, and that the evidence of His power and wisdom is to be 
found in all His works. It is further laid down, that having created the 
world, God had revealed himself to man, whom He had also created to 
inhabit that world. Now I can understand a comparison between these 
two things as standards of truth — a comparison between Nature and Reve- 
lation. Both manifest, though in different ways, that God who was their great 
Author. But I do not understand how science can be regarded as a standard 
of truth. Science is simply a knowledge acquired by man from what he observes 
in Nature or Revelation ; but the deductions of man, whether in natural 
or theological science, can in neither the one case nor the other be regarded 
as standards of truth. I think it should have been more clearly shown in 
the paper that the science spoken of meant natural science, and that natural 
science meant the deductions of man from the facts which he observed in Nature. 
But while the facts of Nature are perfectly true, and while Revelation, coming 
as it did from God, must also be true, the deductions of man from the facts 
of Nature might be far indeed from the truth, just as his deductions from 
the words of Revelation might be very far from being true. (Hear, hear.) 
I was very much struck with the observations in the paper upon which Capt 
Fishbourne had remarked. I do not think there can be any doubt as to the 
disorganization of man's reason. He is constantly falling into all kinds 
of errors. It should be borne in mind, too, that this disorganization prevails 
to a far greater extent in things spiritual than in purely temporal matters. 
Far greater danger therefore exists of men being led away by false theories with 
respect to the words of God in Revelation, than by false theories with respect to 
the facts of nature. I am not going to enter into the theological question ; but 


I will say that nowhere in Genesis can I find it stated that the death of 
animals depended upon the fall of man. I remember that this is stated in 
Milton ; but I do not recollect any passage in the Bible itself by which 
the assumption could be maintained. It contained no reference whatever to 
the cause of the death of animals. I know very well that theologians are 
divided upon the point ; but I will not go further into that question. I 
would, however, remark that in my opinion the present existence of the 
Terebratula has really very little bearing upon the subject under discussion. 
There are many other arguments for the antiquity of fossiliferous strata to 
which Dr. Burnett had not alluded. There can be no doubt of the apparent 
succession of species in rock after rock as they are dug up out of the earth. 
Attempts had been made by geologists to determine by mathematical calcula- 
tion the length of time which had elapsed since the animals found in these rocks 
had died ; but the more they applied mathematics to the solution of the problem, 
the longer the periods became. I cannot sit down without making one further 
remark. I think that Capt. Fishbourne was rather hard upon men of science 
when he spoke of them as rejecting Revelation, and as believing less in the 
Bible than other people. Now, I know a number of scientific men, and I am 
nearly always amongst them ; and, from my experience of them, I do not 
believe the charge of Capt. Fishbourne is well founded. (Hear, hear.) I do 
not think science induces a man to believe or disbelieve in Revelation. 
A man's faith had its origin in far higher teaching. (Hear, hear.) I think 
it is therefore very unwise to put forth such statements. I do not believe, as 
a rule, that men of science are opposed to Revelation. If it were a fact that 
men, by their study of science, were led away from a belief in the Bible, it 
would be the most cogent argument that could be urged against the truth of 
Christianity ; but I do not believe any such argument can be used. Among 
men of science there are doubtless individuals who do not believe in 
revealed truth ; but it is the same in every other profession on the face of the 
earth. (Hear, hear.) I am certain that great harm would be done to young 
minds if the statement that science was opposed to Revelation were to go 
forth, and I feel it to be my duty to correct it. (Hear, hear.) 

Rev. J. B. Owen. — However we may differ with respect to the views 
contained in the paper, we shall all agree to the vote of thanks which has 
been proposed to the author. (Hear, hear.) I think our thanks are also due 
to those gentlemen who have spoken upon the paper, for the observations 
which they have made. I fully concur in the remarks which have been made 
by Dr. Gladstone with respect to some apparent deficiencies in the line of 
argument pursued by Dr. Burnett, and it occurs to me, that if Dr. Gladstone 
would favour us with a paper remedying the defects which he has pointed 
out, he would confer a very valuable service upon the Society. (Hear, hear.) 
I am sure that a paper on this subject from one whose deep scientific 
research is only equalled by the soundness of his religious views, and the 
catholicity of his sentiments, would be listened to with very great interest 
(hear, hear) ; and, with Dr. Burnett on the one hand and Dr. Gladstone on the 


other, I think we might be assured that, between two such able and intelli- 
gent witnesses, every word of the truth would be established. (Hear, hear.) 
Notwithstanding any minor defects, I think the paper a very admirable one. 
This is an age in which a vast amount of attention is given to geology. A 
great deal more attention was now paid to the earth, than to the heavens. In 
former times astronomy was the science which chiefly attracted man's 
attention, and we all know the series of blunders they had fallen into with 
respect to it till the time of Copernicus ; and that it is the scientific glory of 
England to have produced the system of Sir Isaac Newton. It now 
appears that astronomy is given up in favour of geology. But it strikes 
me that we have not reached that position in respect of geology which we 
have attained in astronomy. Geology wants its Newton. We want some 
great mind, who, by a careful investigation of the crust of the earth, will 
arrive at a series of definite conclusions upon which he could base a true 
system. With respect to other remarks, I will only say that, in my opinion, 
it is of the utmost importance that, in a society like ours, we should 
have all sorts of relevant observations. (Hear, hear.) The only things which 
should be excluded from our discussion are noise, and nonsense, and abuse. As 
long as what is stated is expressed civilly, and has any scientific basis to 
support it, there should be no objection to it. We profess to stand upon a 
foundation which, like the kingdom of the Redeemer, can not be shaken, 
and therefore we can afford to listen to all kinds of suggestions, and discuss 
them as the Lord Jesus did constantly, while on earth, in a calm and tem- 
perate spirit. The more we imitate His example in this Society, the more 
we shall show ourselves consistent disciples and sincere believers in the 
grand truths which He came on earth to proclaim, — namely, the truths which 
God had revealed to man, and which it is our object in this Society to defend. 
(Hear, hear.) I think we shall be able to maintain our position against 
attacks of every kind. And I can far easier believe that there is no God, 
than believe that a God existed and never revealed himself. I do not 
understand how any one could believe in God, and deny that He had revealed 
Himself to the creatures whom He had made. It is quite as monstrous an 
hypothesis as to suppose that the father of a family loving his children 
would never reveal himself to them in his paternal relations. It is such 
a hypothesis as could not stand for a moment. It is absurd. It is our 
belief that the Bible is His revelation, and though we may not be able 
always to reconcile the statements which it contains with certain phenomena 
in Nature, it is- our duty to wait and study, and not take for granted that they 
never can be reconciled. The institution of such a society as this is worthy 
of London, the great metropolis of Christendom. Let us only have a few 
more papers such as that read this evening, and a few more discussions such 
as have followed, and I am satisfied that a great deal of good will be done. 
We should be very glad on all occasions to hear the opinions of men who da 
not agree with us. We would perhaps be able to lead them gradually to our 
way of thinking ; but I hope, at all events, that no one who listens to our 


discussions will ever be allowed an opportunity of saying that they were 
not pervaded by the spirit of charity, and of true Christian gentlemen, which 
was the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. (Hear.) 

Mr. Redd ie. — Had it not been now so late, I should have ventured to 
make a few remarks upon Dr. Burnett's paper. But at this hour I feel I 
must confine my observations to answering some of the criticisms of former 
speakers. I must first notice the remarks of Dr. Gladstone, who has rather 
taken Captain Fi&hbourne to task, as if he had invented the cry that science 
is opposed to Scripture. I would beg Dr. Gladstone to recall to mind the 
very history and origin of this Society. It is surely notorious that an alleged 
contradiction between science and Scripture had been publicly put forward 
and thrown at Christians, which had made it necessary that they should 
defend themselves. This charge was certainly raised by our opponents, 
more especially of late in the Essays and Reviews ; and it had been publicly 
repeated since by Dr. Temple, Dr. Colenso, and others. It may be said that 
these writers are not men of science, which we may admit ; but the argu- 
ments which they have advanced secondhand are based upon the opinions 
of certain reputed men of science. I do not, however, for a moment mean 
to say either that science, or that all men of science, are opposed to Revela- 
tion. The very institution of this Society is in itself a protest against any 
such notion. And when my friend Captain Fishbourne or I have alluded to 
" men of science " as opposed to the Scriptures, we do not of course mean 
all men of science. We do not, for instance, include Dr. Gladstone himself, 
any more than we would include our most worthy and thoroughly scientific 
Chairman. I think we ought all to feel much indebted to Dr. Burnett for 
his paper. I hope, with the Rev. Mr. Owen, that it will give rise to at least 
one paper from Dr. Gladstone himself, and to a great many others. (Hear.) 
With reference to Mr. Warington's criticisms, I think he has made a mistake 
as regards Dr. Burnett's arguments, which bear upon the difference in scope 
between Scripture and science. Dr. Gladstone has also fallen into the same 
mistake ; for in quoting, in order to criticise, the title of the paper, he over- 
looked the words " in scope," which form the real key-note to its meaning. 
Dr. Burnett argued, for instance, that Scripture professed to reveal the cause 
of death coming into the world, while science and observation could only 
possibly discover the fact of death, but could not ever get at its cause. That 
is certainly true, whether we regard it as of much consequence or not. But 
I am inclined to agree with our Chairman, that this argument is worthy of 
deep consideration, with all that flows from it. When Dr. Burnett, how- 
ever, comes to what we call scientific proofs, he does not object to them in 
principle, as appears to have been supposed by Mr. Warington. He admits 
the method, but he does not admit particular proofs in certain cases to be 
satisfactory. Take, for instance, Mr. Warington's argument as regards the 
so-called rolled pebbles and their assumed great age— 

The Chairman. — I think there is some misapprehension with regard 
to Dr. Burnett's allusion to flint pebbles. It is hardly fair, perhaps, to 
criticise very severely a mere illustration. A very faulty illustration may be 


taken without at all weakening the force of the argument it has been chosen 
to illustrate. Flint pebbles are very much softer when dug out of the 
chalk than they afterwards become when exposed to the sun and air. 
Even in their hardest condition, a few days' rolling by a stream, or by the 
action of waves in contact with each other, is all that is required to give 
them a rounded form and water-worn appearance. 

Mr. Rbddib. — I had only a few observations to offer with regard to 
Mr. Warington's argument as to the pebbles, and they were rather in 
support of Dr. Burnett's conclusions. I venture to deny that there 
is proof that round pebbles are always " rolled," as has been too generally 
assumed. I find in gravel a vast number, perhaps a majority, of pebbles 
that have been originally formed in a round shape, with a centre or nucleus, 
and layers, as it were, all round, like miniature strata. Some pebbles, no 
doubt, have had their corners rubbed off by rolling ; but others, and perhaps 
most of them, have as evidently been originally crystallized and formed in 
the round form in which they are found. Then it has been said by Mr. 
Warington that the presence of a bone, or other animal remains, found 
embedded in strata, proves that death must have existed for ages in the 
world — 

Mr. Warington. — I wish to state that I have expressed no opinion as to 
whether the conclusions arrived at by geologists are just or unjust I have 
simply referred to the kind of argument used by geological sceptics to sup- 
port their conclusions. 

The Chairman. — So far as I understood Mr. Warington, he did not 
adopt the arguments which he used. He had simply stated that the sceptic, 
if he had been present, might have argued that way. 

Mr. Rkddib. — It appears to me that it is of no consequence whether the 
arguments advanced by Mr. Warington are adopted by him or not. Having 
been advanced by him in discussion, whether as his own or as those of 
an imaginary sceptic, I think they ought to be answered. When a theory is 
brought forward by geologists, from which certain deductions are drawn 
contrary to the teaching of Revelation, we are not only entitled, but bound to 
examine the evidence by which it is supported. Now what proof do geologists 
give of the antiquity of the sedimentary rocks ? The arguments formerly used 
in support of the long periods which must have elapsed from the creation have 
recently been changed. Dr. Burnett has presented us with some new facts 
and arguments against the theory of distinct creations ; but in Sir Charles 
Lyell's latest work on the Antiquity of Man, he had not attempted to 
maintain them, or rather he had plainly given them up. And now I have in 
my hand an extract from an able review of Sir William Logan's Geological 
Survey of Canada, which appeared in The Times of the 21st of October, 1864, 
in which the reviewer observes, with special reference to those assumed 
immense geological periods, as to which Mr. Warington — or his " sceptic " — 
are so positive, that, " in order to expose the fallacy of such an argument, it 
would only be necessary to appeal to a few of those Canadian geological 
monuments, the true interpretation of which, we believe, icill establish the fact 


that the dement of time has very little share in the alteration and crystaUizdr 
tion of the sedimentary rocks? (Hear, hear.) I quote this to show that (as 
our Chairman has said) the tendency of the latest scientific conclusions is to 
reverse not only the theory of distinct creations, but also that of the long 
geological periods which Dr. Gladstone and Mr. Warington have both so 
confidently appealed to. But these are questions we shall have to investi- 
gate. We are yet but a young society, and perhaps we have all been too 
eager to dispose of such large questions off-hand, in the course of the two 
discussions which as yet are all we have had. I, for one, do not admit that 
these long periods and the great antiquity of the sedimentary rocks have 
been proved. Dr. Burnett has furnished us with some fresh matter for 
consideration ;* but his paper must not be considered as having even at- 
tempted to settle so large a question. It is to be hoped that it will lead to 
other papers, in which the various points raised by him will be more 
minutely discussed. It was, in fact, with that object that these introductory 
papers had been written and read as a commencement of our Transactions. 

The Rev. Dr. Irons. — While there are some things in the paper to which we 
might demur, I feel that Dr. Burnett is not the less entitled to our most cordial 
thanks. I should like to know whether it is probable that the paper will 
come on for discussion at another meeting. I think it would be desirable 
that an opportunity should be given us to discuss it at some future time, 
after we have read and weighed its contents. And I think that nothing is 
more essential to the character of the Institute as a philosophical Society, 
than that we should eschew all unnecessary bickering between science and 
religion. We are here engaged in the pursuit of truth, and our duty is to 
examine the arguments of those who are opposed to us, and to eliminate as 
much as possible all merely controversial disputes. (Hear.) 

Mr. Burnett. — I should like to say a few words before the meeting closes, 
upon the observations which have been made. Of course the paper was 
intended to meet with criticism. My father would have been Very much 
disappointed if it had not been criticised ; and I am glad to find that 
dt has given rise to as much discussion as if he had been present. With 
respect to the critical objections of Mr. Warington, I have only to say that 
my father is perfectly aware of the defects of his paper, but his illness had 
•prevented him from producing a more complete essay at present. (Hear, 
hear.) I beg to thank the meeting for the kind manner in which it has 
listened to me, and for the cordial vote of thanks which has been passed for 
my father's paper. (Hear.) 

The Chairman then adjourned the meeting. 

* Some of his arguments are similar in character to those so ably put 
forward in Omphalos by our Vice-President, Mr. Gosse. For instance, if we 
admit creation at all, say of a tree or an animal, it is evident that such tree 
or animal would appear as if it had slowly grown in time to be what it is, 
which appearance would, in the case supposed, be deceptive. This is a 
difficulty which inductive science must face. Whereas, if men deny creation, 
they are then involved in greater difficulties of another kind. 


ORDINARY MEETING, July 2, 1866. 
The Rev. Walter Mitchell, Vice-Pbebident, in the Chair. 

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed. 

Mr. Rebdib, Hon. Sec, then announced that the following Foundation 
Members and Associates had been elected since the 4th of June : — 

Members. — Rev. Edward Auriol, M.A., Prebendary of St. Paul's, Rector 
of St. Dunstan's in the West, 35, Mecklenburg Square; Rev. J. 
Stevenson Blackwood, D.D., LL.D., Middleton Tyas, Yorkshire ; Rev. 
W. Weldon Champneys, M. A. (late Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford), 
Canon of St Paul's, 31, Gordon Square ; Robert Hardwicke, Esq., F.L.S., 
Publisher, 192, Piccadily ; John Napier, Esq., Shipbuilder, Saughfield 
House, Glasgow ; Robert Napier, Esq., Shipbuilder, Glasgow, West 
Shandon, Dumbartonshire ; Rev. William Pennefather, B.A., 2, Mildmay 
Road ; John Shields, Esq., Church Street, Durham ; William Cave 
Thomas, Esq., Historical Painter, 49, Torrington Square ; Rev. B. W. S. 
Vallack, B.A. Oxon, St Budeaux's Vicarage, near Plymouth ; C. W. H. 
Wyman, Esq., 53, St. John's Park, Upper Holloway. 

Associates, 2nd Class : — Rev. S. Skrine, M.A., Southborough, Tunbridge 
Wells ; Rev. W. Webster, M.A. (late Fellow of Queen's College, Cam- 
bridge), 3, Park Villas West, Richmond, Surrey. 

The Honorary Secretary also announced that Mr. Edward J. Morshead 
had been elected a member of the Council, and bad accepted the Office of 
Honorary Foreign Secretary ; and that the Council had appointed Mr. 
Charles H. Hilton Stewart as Clerk to the Society, — the temporary engage- 
ment made with Dr. Evans having ended. 

It was also announced that the following books and pamphlets had been 
presented to the Society : — 

Modern Scepticism and Modem Science. By J. R. Young, Esq., M.V.I., 
formerly Professor of Mathematics, Belfast College. From the Author. 

The Inspiration of Moses proved, dkc. By the Rev. James Ivory Holmes, M.A., 
Associate V.L From the Author. 

A Plain old Indian's Solution of some of Bishop Colenso's BiffimMes. By 
John Stalkartt, Esq., M.V.I. From the Author. 


Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot By Philip Henry 
Gosse, Esq., F.R.S., Vice-President V.I. From the Author. 

Man: Hi* trite Nature and Ministry. From the French of De Saint- 
Martin. Translated by E. B. Penney, Esq., M.V.I. From the Translator. 

Theosophic Correspondence of St. Martin and the Baron de Liebestorf. 

From the same. 

The Conformation of the Material by the Spiritual, and Holiness of Beauty. 
By W. Cave Thomas, Esq., M.V.I. From the Author. 

The Biblical Antiquity of Man ; or, Man not older tlum the Adamic Creation. 
By the Bev. S. Lucas, F.G.S. From Alexander McArthur 9 Esq., M. V.I. 

The Rev. Dr. Thornton then read the following Paper : — 

Bev. Robinson Thobnton, D.D., Head Master of Epsom 

IT may seem presumptuous to commence my task with a 
criticism of a term which is universally employed by 
scholars; but I cannot help expressing some regret at the 
title I am compelled to use. The word philology is, to nay 
mind, inexpressive, and therefore unfortunate. According to 
analogy, it must signify " the science of friends," not " the 
science of human speech" Nor, if we look to the ordinary 
classical meaning of the Greek, shall we find it more appro- 
priate. The word (fn\6\oyog is used by Plato to signify " fond 
of learned discussion ;" Isocrates employs <pi\o\oyia in the 
abstract sense of fondness for such discussion; while in 
Plutarch and Athenaaus the word sometimes means " talka- 
tive," sometimes " fond of historical and scholastic pursuits " 
• — in short, what we should express by " a literary man/' The 
ancient Greeks, with whom it was not common to know any 
language but their own — who seem to have been, in fact, 
slaves to their own rich and varied tongue — had no idea of 
a science of speech. Cratylus is by no means an anticipator 
of Bask and Bopp, of Grimm and Miiller. The science is one 
of modern days : it is not a century old. Linguists there 
may have been, like Charles V., or Mithridates, who could 
converse with most of their subjects in their own tongue; 
linguists like Hickes, who drew up regular grammars, in 


the old Priscianio form, of old and little-known dialects. 
But all these, with a vast amount of linguistic and gramma- 
tical lore, were scarcely scientific. A good many of them 
were rather inclined to believe Greek and Hebrew to be 
the parents of languages, and to consider Latin to be a 
derivative from Greek, Arabic an impure" form of Hebrew, 
and Turkish and Persian both barbarous corruptions of 
Arabic. The comparative science of language, the methodical 
classification of dialects, is one of our own days : the name 
we require for it is Gloaaoloqy, or Dialectology, the science 
of tongues or dialects i and one regrets that a word so 
inappropriate as Philology should have received the sanction 
of usage. No philosopher would dare, of course, to violate 
the rule of Bacon (de Aug. Sc, iii. 4) : " Nobis decretum 
manet, antiquitatem comitari usque ad aras, atque vocabula 
antiqua retinere, quanquam sensum eorum et definitiones 
eaepius immutemus." But let us hope the " vocabulum " is 
not yet so " antiquum " as to be unchangeable. The German 
" Sprachkunde " is excellent, but " speech-cunning " would be 
tincouth to our ears, might perhaps mean Rhetoric, or the 
art of eloquence, and would be at variance with our rule (the 
rule of Linnaeus) to employ no scientific names but those derived 
from the Greek. Perhaps " Dialectology " may eventually 
obtain favour. It will have the virtue (which " Philology " 
has not) of really meaning what it stands for. Though 
" verba notionum tesserae sunt," Bacon did not mean that 
the counter was to be stamped with the externals of another 
notio than the one it represented. 

If we picture to ourselves a man with a keen ear and 
an observant mind, standing in some open spot in the great 
fair of Nijni Novgorod, we can imagine what a host of 
subjects for thought must be aroused and enter that mind, 
from the varied sounds which would strike that ear. The 
soft but sibilant Buss, the softer and less sibilant Servian, 
the harsher Bulgarian, the easy-flowing Osmanli, the rougher 
and more diversified Turkoman, Bashkir., and Mongol; the 
grunting Chinese, the guttural Arabic, the elegant and 
stately Persian, perhaps the strange Circassian, Georgian, 
Ossetic, the ear-breaking Pushtoo, mingled possibly with 
some sonorous tongue from the south of the Himalaya, and 
with the strongly accentuated dialects of Latins or Germans 
from the West, would meet in his sensorium with an appa- 
rently unmeaning tumult. And yet it would be clear, on 
reflection, that this was no tumult, nor yet unmeaning. 
Those varying sounds might all be observed to vary accord- 
ing to some law, and to recur at certain intervals ; each set 

m 2 


of sounds would be found to have its peculiar character, 
distinguishing it from other sets of sounds ; and the character 
and laws of variation of one set would be found to approxi- 
mate more or less to those of some of the other sets, and to 
differ more or less notably from those of others. And it 
would soon occur to a thoughtful mind that those various sets 
of sounds might be grouped, and the groups subdivided with 
reference to the greater or less similarity of their character and 
laws. Such grouping would be a " Philology," or Dialectology. 
What we have fancied as presenting itself to the mind of 
our thinker at Novgorod, has occurred to the minds of men 
who have observed the similarities and differences of the 
various modes of communication by articulate sounds in use 
among mankind; and the result \» been that science.of 
classification of languages which we term Comparative 

Philologers have as yet definitely pointed out only certain 
great families of languages, which they distinguish from one 
another mainly by their grammatical characteristics. 

1. The simply monosyllabic, in which one word of one 
syllable stands for one idea, and these words are never altered, 
but relation is expressed by their arrangement in order in the 
sentence. The type of these is the Chinese. 

2. Those in which relation is expressed by attaching to the 
original root a number of monosyllabic or dissyllabic suffixes, 
the root remaining almost or entirely unchanged. These are 
termed agglutinative, and the family is usually named 
Turanian. The type of them is the Turkish. 

3. Those which express relation by a system of prefixes and 
suffixes, joined to a root mostly monosyllabic, but variable in 
form. These are termed Hamitic, and their type is the 
Coptic. The family seems to extend through the whole of 
Africa; but as the great majority of these modern African 
tongues are entirely without literature, and none are written, 
their classification is by no means easy, nor has the task yet 
been carried very far. 

4. Those which express relation by a system of suffixes 
almost entirely monosyllabic, and a very few prefixes, joined 
to a root normally dissyllabic, and very slightly variable. These 
are termed Shemitic, and their type is Arabic or Hebrew. 

5. Those in which relation is expressed by variations in the 
middle or ending of a root primarily monosyllabic, but deriva- 
tively polysyllabic. These are called Aryan, and the type of 
the family, a very large and varied one, is Sanskrit. 

6. To these we may add the family of languages spoken in 
the islands of the Pacific. They have not yet been regularly 


classified ; and some are of opinion that they may be con- 
sidered as offshoots of the Malay, which is itself (they imagine) 
to be referred to the Aryan family. The peculiarity of tnese 
languages is that the words and their inflective particles are 
simple syllables, consisting of a consonant and vowel, or in 
some cases of a single vowel. They might be termed poly- 

7. The languages of Northern America are characterized by 
the same colligation of syllables ; but as the syllables are com- 
pound, and the whole system of colligation more complicated, 
some incline to group them with the Turanian or agglutina- 
tive, some to consider them a special family, the polysynthetio. 

We have here, then, seven families of human speech ; or, to 
reduce them to the very lowest number, by classing the Poly- 
nesian with Aryan, the Shemitic with Hamitic, and the 
American with Turanian— at least four different forms of 

But the clear statement of Scripture is that there was a 
time when " all the earth was one lip, one set-of-words " (I 
translate Gen. xi. 1, literally). Their vocabulary and their 
pronunciation were the same. 

Here the opponents of Scripture join issue. They tell us 
that, do what we will, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the 
various families of languages, be they seven or four, or any 
ultimate number, exhibit such specific differences that they 
cannot have been developed from one original ; that, in fact, 
the diversity of human speech is as good and convincing an 
argument in favour of the polygenist hypothesis as the diver- 
sity of human physiology. 

But this is rather a violent assumption. What proof is 
there that the differences in human languages, great as they 
are now, are so essential that they may not be explained by 
the disturbing and disorganizing causes which are at work 
even amongst ourselves, and are productive of speedy effects 
where there is no written literature to give fixity to the voca- 
bulary and grammatical forms ? Granted that Chinese and 
Sanskrit, Siamese and Gaelic, Finnish and Kafir, are so 
utterly and entirely dissimilar now, that we can scarcely 
imagine the human being who has learnt the one acquiring 
the power of using the other, that dissimilarity is not other in 
Mndy it is only greater in degree, than the difference between 
a page of the Saxon Chronicle and a page of the Times ; or 
to use a still better illustration, than that between an upnekhat 
of the Zend-Avesta and a division of the Shah-Nameh, or a 
proclamation by the present Shah of Persia, between the 
Dutch Bible and Ulfilas. 


The disturbing forces which act upon language are in the 
main the following; — I postpone, of course designedly, that 
supernatural disturbing force which we of this Institute believe 
to have been injected into humanity in the plain of Babel ; 
and to have been, temporarily and in part, lulled in the early 
days of Christianity after the great day of Pentecost : — 

1. National or tribal peculiarities. Those anatomical or 
physiological peculiarities which constitute the differences be- 
tween races of men are not without effect upon their speech. 
The inhabitants of a southern climate, and of a richly fertile 
territory, naturally fall, after a generation or two, into slothful 
unenergetic habits. They speak lazily ; they shrink from the 
difficulty of hard consonantal pronunciation, and complicated 
inflexion. Compare the Polynesian tongues with every other 
family ; or, to come to differences in the same family, contrast 
the soft Italian with the harder Bumonsch of the mountains ; 
Servian with Polish ; Bengali with Mahratta, — nay, the English 
of Aberdeen with the English of Exeter. Again, a peculiar 
conformation of the organs of speech, produced by some 
external cause, climatic or otherwise, would soon eliminate 
some sounds, and introduce others; and thus, if I may so 
express it, the tuning of the national ear would take a parti- 
cular direction, and the pronunciation and vocalization of the 
language would have a tendency to alter towards one class of 
sounds, and away from another class. As an instance of this 
" tuning '* as I have called it, I may allege the aversion of 
the Italian ear to a number of consonants in juxtaposition. 
Such a sentence as " with great strength and speed " is posi- 
tively terrible to a nation which cannot say il but lo sbaglio, 
and turns Xerxes into Serse. Another example is the rigid 
rule of harmonizing sounds in Turkish, according to which a 
flat suffix must follow a flat root, and a sharp suffix a sharp 

root : 6. g. u-MJ (ye-mec, to eat) ; but JU*£ (yu-mak, to 

wash). Another perhaps is the rejection, as offensive and 
barbarous, of the clicks which are so prominent in the language 
of the Bosjesmans and some few other African tribes ; riot only 
are they found in no other family of tongues, but the higher 
Kafirs, as the Sechuana, never employ them. 

Further, habits of mutilation or distortion, not uncommon 
among barbarous tribes, must exercise a great influence in 
.modifying language. Dental sounds and sibilants must be 
considerably altered, if not utterly lost, among those who file 
away or strike out the front teeth. Distortion of the lips, too, 
must interfere with the articulation of labials. So also among 
the imperfectly civilized, the habits of mutual suspicion and 


dread lead to a plan of speaking with as little apparent move- 
ment of the face as possible ; hence labials and fine distinctions 
in vowels disappear, and gutturals, with slight modifications 
of the " ur-vocale " (Sanskrit ^ ) take their place in the 

2. Not only national peculiarities, but those of individuals, 
influence the language of a tribe. A natural defect in the 
articulation of a powerful chieftain would lead his followers, 
out of respect, to imitate that very defect, or at least to con- 
ceal their possession of superior powers of speech. . Even 
amongst ourselves we can often observe a tendency to affect 
some peculiarity in the enunciation or mode of expression of 
a leading man ; his very phrases are caught up and incor- 
porated into the language of his admirers. In the days bf 
unwritten language such imitation must have had a very 
decided and permanent effect upon the speech of a tribe. 

3. A fertile source of variations in dialect is the tendency 
to imitate the imperfect pronunciation of children, and to clip 
and alter words in order to adapt them to their untrained 
organs. Cases of this kind are familiar to ourselves. There is 
scarcely a family in whose domestic language some eccentric 
phrase or mis-pronunciation has not become current, derived 
from the prattle of some one of its youthful members. Such 
disturbances as these are of course counteracted by the com- 
parative fixedness of a written language : the family wrgot is 
confined within the circle in which it was produced. But in 
earlier days, without this impediment to change, as in illiterate 
tribes at this day, the mimicry of children was doubtless a 
powerful disturbing force, affecting not only the forms, but 
the grammatical inflexions of words, and their collocation in 

4. Superstition in less civilized tribes, and, to a slight extent, 
social rules in more civilized communities, affect the language. 
Many words and phrases which were usual in this country two 
centuries ago have become offensive, quaint or ridiculous, and 
as such are practically banished from our normal literary tongue, 
though they linger in our provincial dialects. The verbal in- 
flexion in th (hath, goeth, &c.) is now quite lost in classical 
English, though it was current a century ago, and common 
at double that distance of time. Now, if an inflexion can 
be lost in this manner out of a written language in whose 
literary remains it is of continual occurrence, it is plain that 
under circumstances of less restraint the process of alteration 
would go on more rapidly; and two portions of the same 
tribe, separated from one another by a range of mountains 
or an arid plain, might find, after half a century without 


intercourse, that their inflexions were different, and their 
very vocabulary so altered that they were no longer mutually 
intelligible. That this process is now going on in many places 
we learn from travellers. The Indiaus on the Amazon, we 
are told, speak languages differing in an extraordinary manner, 
and varying so much that a person who has learnt to express 
himself with tolerable fluency in conversation with a certain 
tribe will with difficulty understand or be understood on 
revisiting them after the lapse of twenty or twenty-five years. 
Superstition, too (as I have said), exercises a great influence 
on the vocabulary, if not on the grammar. In some nations 
the king takes the name of some animal or object, which 
name is forthwith banished from the language, since any one 
using it would be immediately suspected of trying to bewitch 
the chief. A new noun has to be invented and thenceforward 
employed to designate the object. In others the fetish of 
the community, or the instrument of some good or evil to 
them, must no longer be called by the name it bore up to that 
period. So the greatest ingenuity has to be exercised in the 
formation of new words which shall be as different as possible 
from the old ones. It does not always happen that two 
branches of the same tribe invent the same new appellative ; 
and hence a variation which a very few years suffice to convert 
into an actual breach of continuity. 

5. To these disturbing forces we may add the occasional 
intermixture of foreign individuals. These intermixtures were 
rarer in early times ; but still there is no reason to doubt that, 
when they did occur, the presence of a few influential strangers 
had a tendency to introduce new words into the vocabulary, 
and perhaps to affect in a perceptible degree the use of pre- 
fixes, suffixes, and medial changes ; or . that conquerors or 
slaves would compel their subjects or masters to accept some 
of their language, and (in JuvenaPs words) make Orontes 
flow into Tiber. 

Such are the principal causes of the alteration, develop- 
ment, and decay of the forms of human speech. Nor will it 
be correct to argue that they affect vocabulary only, and not 
grammatical character ; that they quite account for the evolu- 
tion of Persian out of Pehlvi, or of Hindi out of Sanskrit, but 
cannot be adequate to explain how from one origin there could 
spring tongues so radically different as Manchu* and German. 
True, the grammar of a written language is invariable in every 
direction but one. No philological circumstances could ever 
make Italians form the plural with s } or Spaniards without it. 
But that is owing to the fixity given by written, or at all 
events traditional, literature. To an early tribe, using a simple 


monosyllabic language, the adoption and development of 
inflexional forms is a matter of ease. It is by no means 

Shilologically impossible that oat of the Chinese of the present 
ay should be formed languages possessing inflexions, some 
of them assimilating themselves to the Aryan "umlaut" 
(change of vowel) and varied termination, others to the 
Hamitic prefix and suffix system, others to the Shemitic dis- 
syllabic root and varied suffix, others to the Turanian agglu- 
tination. In fact (according to Muller), those Turanian 
languages which have hitherto been considered almost on 
a par with the uninflectod Chinese, I mean the Tungusian 
or Manchti branches, are actually beginning to adopt in- 
flexions and develop verbal forms. What Manchti can do in the 
nineteenth century A.D., I suppose it might have done in the 
nineteenth (or twenty-third) B.C. There were adequate causes 
then, as there are adequate causes now, for throwing out from 
an uninflected and monosyllabic original a set of inflected 
polysyllabic and variable offshoots. 

But it must not be forgotten, as I said in the outset, that 
holy Scripture adds another disturbing force, supernatural, 
or at least exceptional in its character, communicating (to use 
mechanical language) an initial velocity. The Deity Himself 
willed to " confound their language " — to mingle with the gift 
of speech an element of repulsion which it did not formerly 

Sossess, or at least not in so eminent a degree. " We will go 
own" (I translate literally from the Hebrew) " and confuse 
there their lips, so that they shall not hear each man the lip 
of his neighbour . . . Therefore He called its name con- 
fusion, for there Jehovah confused the lip of all the earth ; and 
from thence Jehovah made them disperse upon the face of all 
the earth." Such is the simple statement of the will of the 
Most High and its execution. The bold critic sees in these 
words a mere legend, engrafted on the original Elohistic docu- 
ment by some Jehovistic fabricator ; but more reverent minds 
will accept them as a Divine record of the chastisement of 
rebellious man by the timely withdrawal of that gift of unity 
which had been enjoyed and abused. And a sublime chastise- 
ment it was too— sublime in its simplicity and its perfectness. 
The mythology of man's invention told of the consternation in 
Olympus, the battle of the celestials, the fallen giants welter- 
ing in a sea of sulphurous flame ; or of the wailing over Baldur, 
the howls of Fenris, the yawning gulf of Niflheim, the crashing 
blows of Mjolner ; but the Divine record bears the stamp of 
truth : Jehovah willed to restrain men, and restrained them 
by the effectual means of destroying the community of their 


There are then sufficient reasons (without taking into con- 
sideration the Scriptural statement) for us to consider the 
doctrine of the original unity of language quite as tenable as 
the polygenist hypothesis — or at least not untenable, for that 
is amply sufficient for our purpose : we are quite satisfied if it 
be allowed that, however many reasons there may appear for 
holding to another theory> there are not sufficient scientific 
grounds for considering the Scriptural statement as at variance 
with the conclusions of philology ; and that, if the truth of the 
Scriptural record be granted, the whole matter is clear. 

But there are also certain affirmative arguments, — arguments, 
I mean, which make in favour of the monogenist doctrine of 
language. To prove constructively and actually the oneness 
of all existing languages, — to show in them all marks of unity 
which could be explained satisfactorily only on the supposition 
of identity of origin, would be a superhuman task. It would 
require that a man should be able to overcome the fiat of Babel, 
and to learn all languages more or less perfectly ; and that he 
should be further able to exert upon this mass of knowledge a 
stupendous analysis : to do, in short, for all tongues of every 
family, what it was the labour of half of Grimm's life to do for 
one division of one family, in his great Deutsche Grammatih. 
Yet it is possible, in a cursory manner, to show that there 
are similarities between the great families, which seem to be 
consistent rather with the idea of unity than of plurality of 

I. The readiness with which words are assimilated from one 
family to another. A very deep acquaintance with grammatical 
and inflexional forms, — deeper perhaps than has been yet 
attained, — would, I am convinced, show a unity of principle 
in all, from which a unity of origin might be justly inferred. 
But, as I have already hinted, grammar is a constant quantity 
in languages such as we are able to deal with, viz., those 
which have a written literature. Though the grammar even 
of a written language still has a tendency to change in its 
own direction, it can never retrograde ; every change must 
tend to remove it farther from others, and to diminish the 
argument for identity of origin ; or rather to remove all marks 
from which arguments on either side can be brought. We 
must be content with drawing our proofs from vocabularies. 
Within the same family there is no wonder at words being 
easily borrowed and assimilated; but this operation is not 
restrained within this limit. We can borrow and incorporate 
into our own language such words as sofa from Turanian, 

coffee from Shemitic (l?j*»)> taboo from Polynesian. The Modern 


Gree& helps itself to plenty of Turanian Words : rovfoici, gun, 

(jl}°)> a&VTh master, (fJ^)> ^ rom Turkish, are examples. So 
the Shemitic Syriac has no difficulty in borrowing and adopting 
from Aryan Greek not only such words as UDu^L^ojQffl ovy- 
/c\r)TO<; 9 (V.nmoN^ yXcjaaoKOfiov, but even such a particle as 
\^*y<*p I and the Hamite Coptic can assimilate not only words 
from Shemitic Hebrew, but also Aryan Greek — CUJJLtA a&jia, 

ty*X H y l rv xh> CTCflNH aro\ff 9 X^P^ X^P^ In tte same 
way the Aryan Persian has introduced and appropriated a large 
vocabulary of pur6 Shemitic (Arabic) words; and the Turanian 
Turkish has done the same to such an extent, that the Osmanli 
of the capital is scarcely intelligible to the Turkish peasant from 
the country. This easy adoption of foreign and unfamiliar words 
seems to prove that there is not that difficulty of blending which 
would be sure to characterize languages specifically and radically 
different Were the difference such between the Aryan and 
Shemitic, the Modern Persian would be no more possible than 
a breed between a trilobite and a batrachian. 

II. Further, we are often startled at finding in the vocabu- 
laries of extremely different languages traces of similar roots, 
and remarkable coincidences of words. A great many of these 
may be allowed to be mere coincidences ; a great many more 
may be really borrowed either by one from the other, or by both 
from the same source. But still the phenomenon remains ; there 
will still be a residuum of similarities which can be best explained 

by the doctrine of a common origin. Thus the Coptic verb 
T*AXO c to perish, corrupt,' is perhaps borrowed from the Greek 
r^tao, but it looks very like a derivative from an earlier common 
origin. ftOCJ ' a serpent,' is exactly like the Greek 8<f>is ; but if 
a borrowed word it would be spelt with the ^> phi : its having 
the non-Greek letter CJ fei, and the g hori prefixed for the 
spiritus lenis, seems to prove, that (unless we suppose it came 
from Egyptian into Greek) the two words are derivatives from a 
common root, prior to the distinction between Hamitic and 
Aryan. (The Shemitic has a fuller form from the same root j 
Arab. J*t, Heb. njJSItf). So, comparing Coptic with Hebrew, 

the word lOJUt for D* , ' sea,' may be a borrowed one ; but JUtOOY, 

' water/ is a word as old as the time of Moses, whose name is 
derived (probably) from JUtOOY OY2C6 , ' water-saved,' and can 
scarcely be the Hebrew Dp . It must be a growth from a prior 


root, from which D S D was also formed. The same must be .said, 
I think, of the following coincidences, taken at random : 

CHA.Y D'Jtf (two). C<J>OTOV D\T©fe (lips). 

• * 

C.yjUtOYft rtftotf (eight). JUtUiOYT* J"fiD (to die). 
JCH TVTI (to live, to be). 

Such a coincidence as that of £&JU>JT!, ' to be done ' or ' born/ 
with the Aryan Teutonic ' scippan? 'schaffen, 9 our 'shape' 
(originally ' to create '), is perhaps fortuitous, — that is, I mean, 
does not spring from any identity of root But as instances of a 
number of singular similarities between Turanian and Hamitic 
we may compare the Coptic HI with Turkish jl (a house), a£\OY 

with Jtej\ (a youth), gOO with ol (a horse). 

The similarities of Shemitic and Aryan are innumerable : the 
most remarkable are pointed out in every good Hebrew, Syriac, 
Arabic, or iEthiopic Lexicon. I select at random half a dozen : 

n}ft c to roar' (of bulls) . . . . ift our cow. 

T T 

101 ' mountain ' fnft» 8po$. 

*1"1D (hif *il) * to nourish ' . . . . jm, rpi<f>-Q). 

W2 (nif al), Syr. Ji^, c to bend, kneel,' spi, yovv, our knee. 

"HS) c to divide ' pars, part-is. 

HJ1B {ji) ' to open ' irer-avwfii, pat-eo. 

Again, the two negatives in Turkish are jy> and *. The * is 
perhaps the Arabic U ; but is it a mere coincidence that the 
Greek words are ovk and /lmJ ? or that the Turkish for 'well' is 

?\ (pronounced ai/i, but written dy o) when the Greek is ei ? Do 
not such similarities point to a time and a tongue anterior to the 
separation of Aryan and Turanian? But we may go a step 
further. On comparing other languages with Chinese, we find 
some strange similarities. A proportion of these may be, as I 
have said, mere chance resemblances in sound ; but some it will 
not be fanciful to consider as arising, in part at least, from unity 
of derivation. I take at random a few from the 21 4 radical 
forms (Grundsetzen) of the Chinese. 

/^ jin> f a man,' resembles Sanskrit flT , ' to know,' and ipr, ' to 
produce ;' as if " the rational," and " the animal," were to be 



expressed by the same word* From the latter Sanskrit 
root came the Greek yivofuu and yw^ ; thence Saxon 
acenned, 'born,' cynn, 'race/ cwen, 'a woman;' our kin, 
and queen (originally the same as quean), Danish kbne. 
It is curious that the Australian blacks use the word jin for 

-Bf wu 9 ' not' Greek ov. Turkish jjj, as above. 

^ fu, ' father/ Sanskrit *?, 'to be :' whence Greek Qwo, 

Lat/i*t, our word * be' Or perhaps, m, ' to protect/ which 
is the root in Sanskrit of the word far, ' a father.' 
^ Viuan. Greek kxwv. Sanskrit "w, our hound. 

pj^ shi. Greek ov$, our swine, sow. 

j* pi, 'nose.' Hebrew *)N, 'nose/ H9, ''mouth/ halves pro- 
bably of the onomatopoeic *\TH, 8TB3. 
•jg UlCi. Hebrew D^ , ' teeth ' (sing. ]tf ). 

^ san. Hebrew TPtP , ' hair.' 

Here, then, are samples of a large class of similitudes in 
words between the Aryan, Turanian, Hamitic, Shemitic, and 
monosyllabic families. I repeat what I have said before, that 
a few of such similitudes might be explained consistently with 
the polygenist theory, by suggesting fortuitous coincidences or 
borrowing of words or roots ; but I contend that on the whole 
they point to a time when there was one and but one primeval 
language, from which the roots of all languages — whether of 
their vocabulary or their imflexional forms — are taken, and to 
which they may, conceivably, be ultimately traced back, though 
it is scarcely probable that man will ever be able to complete 
the work. 

What, then, was this primeval tongue ? It is not the task 
of our Institute to originate theories : our business is to show 
that Scripture — I mean the very letter of the written Word, 
as we have it, — is not untenable ; and that those who deny it 
and reject it, because of its alleged discrepancy with the 
results of science, eventually find themselves involved in 
difficulties equal to, if not greater than, those which they 
escaped when they severed the consecrated cord that bound 
the humble believer to his scientific but not less believing 
brother. Still I hope I may be pardoned if I throw out an 
attempt at a theory, or rather a hypothesis, for which, of 
course, the Institute is not responsible. 


" All that the man, the living soul, calls it, that is its name." 
(I translate literally from the Hebrew, The LXX and our 
version prefer "all that Adam called it, the living soul" — 
" whatsoever Adam called any living creature.") Man, with 
the gift of reason, had appended to it, either as a property or 
an inseparable accident (to speak in logical fashion), the gift of 
speech, — the gift of producing various articulate sounds as 
representatives of the various objects and actions coming 
before his notice, and cognizable by his reason. The primary 
language, then, must have been formed by onomatopoeia (the 
applying names taken from sounds or peculiarity of external 
appearance). I cannot hold with Goropius Becanus, that this 
language was German or Flemish ; nor with the Welshman I 
have read of, who claimed the honour of primevalism for his 
own native tongue; nor yet can I accept the argument of 
Bishop Patrick and others (borrowed from or suggested by 
St. Augustin, de Civ. Dei, xvi, 11), that as Adam conversed 
with Methuselah, Methuselah with Shem, Shem with Jacob, 
the language of Jacob and his people must have been the, 
same with that of Adam. The long lives of the -patriarchs 
must have contributed to a regular and orderly development 
of the first articulate utterances of the first man into a real 
language capable of expressing the relations of time and 
mutual action. It is not to be conceived that men endued 
with the gift of speech, and all that that gift comprises, went 
on from year to year of an extended life without finding some 
means to express not only the varied objects which were pre- 
sented to them, but the varied relations in which those objects 
stood to one another. The Scripture account favours the view 
that poetry was rapidly evolved in the elder branch of the 
Adamite race. The address of Lamech, sixth from Adam, to 
his wives is given in a poetical form in Hebrew. There can be 
little doubt that it is a metrical translation of an antediluvian 
poem preserved by direct tradition in the younger Adamite 
house, though originating in the elder, and rendered into the 
poetry of the age from generation to generation, as time went 
on and the language altered. The book of Genesis gives us, of 
course, the current Hebrew version at the time of Moses of 
this remarkable composition. 

The centuries (nearly seventeen according to the ordinary 
reckoning) which intervened between the Creation and the 
Flood afforded time for the organization and solidification of 
the primeval speech. And as there was then no element of 
mutual repulsion, the development was all in one direction, 
and each man and set of men contributed something to the 
improvement of the language, not to increasing the width of 


the gulf between it and some other. On the plain of Babel 
the impetus was given which has resulted in the evolution of all 
the marvellous number of dialects in which men think and 
hold converse at the present day. 

The earliest variations of the one language were probably-?r 
1st, the uninflected, or nearly uninflected, represented by the 
Chinese and Tungusian ; 2nd, the inartificial, though inflected 
by prefix and suffix, now styled Hamitic ; spoken in various 
form by Menes the Egyptian and Urukh the Babylonian, 
and the early Canaanites, and represented to us in the Coptic. 
The relics of the ancient Egyptian preserved to us in this 
language, and in the little that is decipherable and intelli- 
gible of the earlier tongue, show us that the vocabulary was 
inartificial to a degree, preserving much of the presumed 
onomatopoeia of its primeval original. 

XeXxeX ' to drop/ JtXOVl < lion/ 

nexenen the < hoopoe/ onr^oop < dog/ 

are specimens of the evidently ancient appellatives used by the 
Hamites. The Shemite speech of Terah's tribe was probably 
evolved from an earlier Hamite modification of Noah's tongue, 
rather than started as an independent branch. And thus, though 
Abraham and the Canaanites had little difficulty in under- 
standing one another, Jacob and Laban used two different 
names (apparently mutually intelligible) for " the heap of 
witness/' and the children of Jacob at the court of a Pharaoh 
— that Pharaoh perhaps a Philistine shepherd-king — found it 
more convenient to employ the services of an interpreter. 

Relics of the. Noachid speech exist, no doubt, in every 
tongue, modern and ancient, living and dead. Yet they 
should be sought for, it may well be imagined, and would be 
most likely to be detected in greatest number and earliest con- 
dition,—!, in those tongues which have to all appearance 
altered so little from their primitive form, the dialects of 
China and the Tungusian division of the Turanian family ; 
2. in the Coptic, and in those offshoots of the great Hamitic 
Egyptian language which exist, in more or less degraded 
form, in various parts of Africa; 3. in the language in which 
the sacred books are written, the Biblical Hebrew, which, 
though it bears marks of cultivated development, must needs 
(if our sacred records are to be listened to) contain much that 
has really directly descended from primeval times. 


I cannot close this paper without apologizing for the appa- 
rently dogmatic tone which may to some appear to pervade it. 
Bat I have designedly abstained from quotations, and from 
alleging the opinions of eminent writers on either side. Our 
object is not to collect what men have said, but to induce men 
to think, and think deeply. I have therefore ventured to 
place before you my own thoughts and reflections on the 
matter, and leave to profounder learning and deeper reflec- 
tion the task of going farther. Sure I am, that the profounder 
the thought and learning, the more clearly will be displayed 
the simple sublimity of the dealings of the Creator with His 
creatures, and the unity of the great creation called into being 
by that Deity who in His wisdom has willed to leave us written 
records of Himself and of His providence, truer and more 
certain than the deductions even of the highest of finite 
minds from the steadiest of finite senses. And as a deep 
mathematic brings us nearer to the source of all number — > 
the Infinite yet One; as a deep astronomy carries us closer 
to the Lord of Heaven, a profound geology to the Creator of 
earth ; so will an extended and profound philology raise us 
nearer to the Author of the tongues of men and angels — to 
Him who has not disdained to be called the Alpha and Omega, 
the Word of God. 

The Chairman. — I think I may call upon you to give with acclamation 
a vote of thanks to the Rev. Dr. Thornton for the exceedingly valuable paper 
he has read. I am sure every one will feel that this Institute is doing a 
great work, by calling forth such papers as that we have heard this evening — 
a paper displaying the most' profound learning, and yet marked by the 
deepest modesty. (Hear.) I am sure you will all agree that the author of 
it is entitled to our most cordial thanks ; and I have only to add, that as 
we are anxious to encourage discussion, I shall be glad to hear any gentleman 
who has any remarks to make ; but I would request that, as our discussions 
are reported very fully, every one should confine himself as much as possible 
to the subject of the paper. It has also been intimated to me that the dis- 
tinguished biblical scholar Dr. Tregelles is present with us this evening, 
with a suggestion that perhaps he would favour us with his views on the 
subject. I can only say that I feel certain we shall all be extremely gratified 
if he will kindly do so. (Hear, hear.) 

Dr. Tregelles. — As you have invited me to speak on this paper, I shall 
avail myself of the privilege which you have granted, to make a few remarks 
upon it. I think it is a very valuable paper, and I listened to it with much 
pleasure, and followed the arguments which Dr. Thornton brought forward 
in support of his views with a peculiar degree of interest. I think he has 
dealt with a very difficult subject in a very masterly manner ; and though 
there are many things which are stated in that paper, for which the writer 


has not quoted authorities, I believe it will be found, upon examination, that 
his statements are quite consistent with the views of some of the highest 
authorities who have written on the subject There is one point upon which 
I presume all are agreed, who hold the Scriptures to be the word of God ; 
and that is, that there can be no real contradiction between it and the facts 
of Nature : there can be no contradiction between the word and the works 
of God, In the pursuit of philological studies, there is one thing which often 
occurred to me : — the history which is given in Genesis of the origin of 
language, must either be a well-founded statement, or it must have been 
invented afterwards to account for the different tongues which are spoken. 
If it were the latter, I think it would have been far more precise ; if it had 
been invented in order to account for the different languages in the world, it 
would have been far more elaborate than the simple narrative which is given 
in the Bible. With regard to the general question relating to what is 
commonly called " philology," I should feel myself exceedingly incompetent 
to discuss it ; but I might remark that upon this question, as well as a great 
many others, I have observed that some persons have gone out of their way 
to raise difficulties against the Scriptures, where no difficulties really exist. 
(Hear, hear.) I have observed the manner in which Scripture has been ob- 
jected to, and have seen many persons straining at the merest trifles in order 
to raise difficulties, which in any other matter they would have felt to be no 
difficulty at all. And in consequence of the determination which has been shown 
to do this, the believers in Revelation have often been called upon to defend 
and explain things which, if it were not for the way in which their meaning 
has been distorted, would have required no explanation whatever, Now I 
think we have reason to complain of this. It is very unfair. Let the readers 
of Scripture, and men of science, and observers of facts, wait until facts are 
fully ascertained before they raise objections. It is quite possible that upon 
a closer examination they might find that many things turned out in a 
different manner from what they had at first supposed. We all find that, as 
children, we formed opinions upon those things that came under our notice, 
which we have since discovered to be altogether erroneous. It is thus with 
science. Men form their opinions with too much haste, and they subse- 
quently find that they were wrong. I say that science ought to be the 
observer of facts. Let men of science wait a sufficient time for facts, and let 
them thoroughly test every theory which is put before them, before they 
come forward and say, (i Here is something infallible, — here is something 
which cannot be disproved." We often hear it said that " science teaches " 
this or that. Something is wrapped up in this mysterious language, which 
we are supposed to be bound to accept as absolutely dogmatic. Now in 
such cases there is room for considerable doubt as to what science, does 
teach. It may be true that our present knowledge of science teaches us so 
and so ; but our present knowledge is quite imperfect. We are only just 
beginning to know what is the meaning of some things which are called 
science ; and therefore the phrase " science teaches " has no real meaning. 
It is an expression commonly used, not by those who are most competent to 



discuss questions, but by those who endeavour by phrases of that kind to 
conceal their own ignorance, and who really know nothing about what science 
teaches or what it does not teach. I did not, however, come here with the 
view of taking any part in the discussion. I would far rather have heard 
the remarks of others ; and it was only because I was called upon that I 
have ventured at all to say a word. I have only one more observation to 
make, and it is this : It is a strange fact that a person who has the greatest 
powers to acquire languages has often the least comprehension of the rela- 
tions of one language to another. We have an instance of this in the late 
Cardinal Mezzofanti. He was perfectly accustomed to read and write in 
very many different languages ; but if you asked him a question upon any 
point with respect to philology as a science, he had no conception of the 
matter whatever, and was unable to give you any information. It is also a 
remarkable circumstance in connection with this subject, that if you are 
listening to several different languages spoken at the same time, the effect is 
such as to produce a sensation almost like absolute deafness. With regard 
to the observations in the paper as to the way in which habit and tempera- 
ment affect language and the pronunciation of speech, it is a thing which all 
of us must have observed ; it is a thing which is doing its work at present, 
and will continue to do its work after our generation has passed away. I 
have nothing further to say with respect to the paper, except to state how 
heartily I join in the vote of thanks which has been proposed to Dr. Thornton, 
and to express the sincere desire that I have to see men who deal in science 
confining themselves strictly to facts. The moment we find science taking 
primary ground of opposition to Scripture, we ought to ask whether it is 
science or insolence ; and I do not think we need have any doubt as to the 
answer which we should get to that question. 

Professor Oliver Byrne. — There is one argument which I think Dr. 
Thornton might have used in support of his theory as to the common 
origin of the languages now in use in the world. It might be possible to 
select twelve words in one language similar to those in another ; but for 
that language to be able to return the compliment, unless they were of 
common origin, is not within the range or mathematical probability. 

Mr. Warington. — I have just two remarks to make with reference to the 
paper. I have listened to it with great interest ; but it struck me that 
there is one objection to the conclusions drawn, which I think can be 
very easily disposed of, and which has not been touched upon in the 
arguments of Dr. Thornton. It is this : — We have to account for more than 
a mere difference in the names applied to things ; we have to account for 
a difference of grammar. It appeared to me that Dr. Thornton gave us no 
hint in his paper as to how he would account for one nation having suf- 
fixes and another affixes, in their grammar. Is it not to be accounted for in 
this way ? If you take a language with suffixes, you will find that these 
appendages consist of other words shortened so habitually that they lose 
their apparent meaning. You can trace them, upon the examination of 
several words ; and you will find that what appears to be a suffix is really 


another word tacked on to the root in such a way that it has lost part of its 
sound. I think that is a very important point It clears up matters of 
grammar as well as matters of vocabulary. Both differ very much ; but I 
believe if we examined the question, we should find that the differences of 
grammar are the greater and the more important of the two. There is one 
other point to which I wish to call attention. I think Dr. Thornton showed 
great wisdom in not pressing his argument for the unity of language as neces- 
sarily destructive to the polygenous theory. It is plainly possible, a priori, 
that the different races of men may have descended from different original 
stocks, and yet possess similar and apparently related languages. For, whether 
from one stock or from many, it is certain that there is a very close resem- 
blance between human beings of different races. All are formed in the same 
way ; all are possessed of similar organs of speech. It is therefore a moral 
certainty that, however originated, their languages would also be similar. 
Scripture, indeed, tells us that the polygenous theory is incorrect, and so leads 
us to adopt another explanation of these phenomena, but if we had no 
revelation to tell us, we could not arrive at that conclusion from the simi- 
larity discovered between one language and another. Again, with regard 
to the monogenous theory, it is no disproof of that theory, that differences in 
lauguage exist ; but it is no proof of it, that similarities exist ; because 
they can be accounted for on other grounds. Take the instance quoted by 
Dr. Thornton, the great resemblance of the word father in all languages. I 
do not know whether he quoted also the word mother, but I believe it would 
be found that nearly all the words which represent father and mother in dif- 
ferent languages, possess one or two sounds which are closely related to the 
sounds of Pa and Ma. This might seem a proof that all languages came from 
the same source ; but there is another explanation of it, which is this — that 
those are likely to be just the sort of sounds that children would first make 
in addressing their father or mother. It is therefore only natural that they 
should be nearly alike in all languages. The only case in which similarity 
affords really a good argument is when you can show a number of words 
which are similar ; but it is rather a hazardous argument to contend that 
races are identical because languages are similar. (Hear, hear.) 

Rev. W. Niven. — I should highly value the lecturer's opinion with respect 
to the following passage in the third chapter of the book of Zephaniah, v. 9 : 
— " For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call 
on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent." 

Capt. Fishbourne. — It occurred to me, taking the language as we find it in 
Scripture, — from the speech of God with Adam, as well as the speech of 
the devil with Eve — that language must have been in a much more perfect 
condition than the arguments of the polygenists would admit of. I would go 
a little further, and say that if Dr. Thornton had enlarged in that direction 
he must have told us that language is more than a means of communication. 
I think we must consider language as something more than a mere philolo- 
gical science ; it is the instrument of thought. Without language I do not 
think we could excogitate. I think that the fact of the devil speaking to 

N 2 


Eve and reasoning with her implies that there was a current language with 
which he made himself acquainted. And the facts which I think go far to 
prove the unity of speech are the remarkable traditions we have, and their 
palpable identity. We must deny history altogether if we deny tradition. 
We have a tradition of the Flood and of the dispersion of mankind prevail- 
ing amongst the Chinese and amongst the Mexicans. It is not, perhaps, so 
remarkable to find it amongst the Chinese, who had a written language ; but 
it is very remarkable to find it existing amongst nations which had no written 
language. With respect to the remarks in the paper, as to the facility with 
which people slide out of the original language of their ancestors, it might be 
supposed that in China, where they have a written language, these modifica- 
tions would be the least likely to occur. Yet it is a most extraordinary thing 
that in that country there is the greatest difference between the dialects 
spoken in the various and even in adjacent provinces. I remember on one 
occasion being at Nankin, and, wishing to communicate with certain indi- 
viduals, we were only able to reach them through a chain of four or five 
interpreters, in consequence of the amazing difference in the dialects. I never 
yet saw two Chinese persons, even belonging to the same district, and speak- 
ing the same language, who yet spoke with perfect intelligence one to the 
other. So nice are the inflections, that two persons in China cannot converse 
for five minutes together, without having recourse to the employment of the 
signs or characters, which they make on their hands, to explain what they 
mean. If you observe them conversing, you can Bee at once that there is a 
great diversity in their dialects. And this diversity is becoming greater 
every day, so that, in the course of time, instead of having nine hundred 
languages, we shall have a thousand, or perhaps more. 

Mr. Ince. — I rise for the purpose of making one remark. An expression 
was introduced into the paper implying that man had improved upon the 
language which he originally possessed. Now, I cannot agree with Dr. 
Thornton in that matter. I think that, as God Almighty created Adam, He 
created him a perfect being with perfect speech, and He did not leave His 
work for man to mend. Man might have increased the number of words, 
but I do not think it was possible for him to improve upon what God had 
imparted to him. 

Mr. Reddie. — With reference to the observations of Mr. Ince, I quite 
hold with him that language must of necessity have been a gift to man from 
his Creator ; and, if so, that it would be a " perfect gift." I was glad to find 
it plainly advanced in the admirable paper we have all listened to with so 
much pleasure, that language was a gift from God, and not a human 
invention. I think I may also venture to say that it was not Mr. Ince's 
intention to attribute to Dr. Thornton anything contrary — 

Mr. Ince. — My objection was only to the word " improve." 

Mr. Reddie. — So I understood. I was about to point out, that if man, 
as created by God, was endowed with the highest wisdom and capacity for 
knowledge, he must also have been endowed with the power of speech ; for 
without speech, as Capt. Fishbourne has very properly observed, he could 


not really have thought : he would not have been man. Mr. Max Muller 
appears to be of the same opinion ; for he calls thinking " speaking low." 
In saying this, of course he does not mean, that, in thinking, there is an 
absolute articulation of words, but that there is necessarily the idea of words, 
or what words mean. But although man was so created in this perfect state, 
— with every capacity for knowledge, with the power of speech, and with 
wisdom and intelligent instincts, all of the highest order,— he must still have 
been ignorant of that kind of knowledge which can only be gained by ex- 
perience. For instance, he could have no knowledge or experience of the 
sensation of fear, till he disobeyed God and fell from his original state of 
innocence. Therefore, his ideas, and correspondingly his language, would 
have to be increased, as of necessity ; and by being thus increased, his 
language would also be " improved," without implying any imperfection in 
his original gift of speech, but rather the contrary. If we bear in mind that 
the gift of speech was a faculty, a power intended to be exercised and de- 
veloped by man, rather than a mere vocabulary or complete set of words, it 
will be seen that its capability of thus improving in development is really 
the best proof of its perfection. Touching this question of the improvement 
of a language, I was somewhat surprised at one remark of Dr. Thornton's 
with reference to the language of the Greeks. Philologists, I believe, con- 
sider the Sanskrit to be the most perfect language. But, at least, after the 
Sanskrit, I suppose the Greek will be acknowledged to be the most perfect 
and polished language with which we are acquainted. Now, I am inclined 
to think that it chiefly owes that perfection to what I thought Dr. Thornton. 
was almost inclined to sneer at (though I do not like to use the expression), 
namely to their exclusive devotion and attention to the study and develop- 
ment of their own language, without much regarding the other languages 
spoken around them. I believe, as a consequence of this, that in Athens 
you would not have heard Greek spoken with such constant variation as we 
hear English spoken, even at our chief seats of learning, in the present day. 
At Oxford and Cambridge, more attention is certainly given to the pronuncia- 
tion and composition of Greek and Latin, than to English. At present, too, 
we make a point of knowing something of so many other living languages 
besides our own, that it does not improve, as no doubt it otherwise would. 
I do not say we are wrong in being so cosmopolitan. To a certain extent we 
may be forced to be so. But this certainly does not conduce to the improve- 
ment of our own language, which some even disparage and despise. In that 
respect, the French are now more like what the Greeks were : they are 
devoted to their own language especially, and pride themselves upon it ; and 
it is correspondingly improved. With reference to Mr. Warington's criticism 
of Dr. Thornton's argument, I must say I do not think he has quite done 
justice to it. It appeared to me that Dr. Thornton put the case upon the 
very lowest ground, and claimed to have proved much less than he was enti- 
tled to claim. He did not say that there was any strong positive argument 
in favour of the monogenist theory to be derived from comparative 
philology ; but only that there is a balance in its favour. He argued, that if 

] 68 

we start with believing the Scriptures, and then find, upon a scientific exam- 
ination of man's speech, tbat there is an undercurrent of similarity running 
through all languages, this is a ground for holding to the truth of what the 
Scriptures tell us. Now I think that that is a perfectly sound argument. 
And if you do not limit your consideration of the subject merely to language, 
— but if you will also take into account all human traditions ; if you will 
take the whole of man's history, and all the facts connected with his post 
and present condition, so far as we can discover them, then you will find that 
what might be but a weak argument by itself, and if it rested upon philology 
alone, becomes, with the addition of these other arguments, a very strong 
and completely built-up proof of the original unity of the human race. We 
have the statement of tie Bible to begin with — which suTely must go for 
something ; and when we find it is supported by all the other evidence we 
can collect, docs not that afford good ground for holding tc what the Scriptures 
narrate f (Hear, hear.) For my own part, I do not hesitate to say that I 
do not believe that man could ever have invented language, if originally 
without speech. But, at the best, if he really did so, it must have been by 
a very slow process indeed. For we must remember that those who reject " 
the Scriptures and adopt the polygenist theory, must start with mankind in 
the very lowest condition. Except to account for the existence of savages in 
that abject condition, with their low mental capacity and imperfect language, 
there would be no need for a polygenist hypothesis at all But if you adopt 
that hypothesis, then the question is limited very nearly to this: What rational 
ground have you for believing that civilized man with his perfect language 
has been developed out of the savage with his almost unintelligible gibberish ) 
Now I venture to say, Mr. Warington has not given us any reason, nor a 
single fact, for believing in that. *(Hear, hear.) As regards the somewhat 
ingenious argument he has advanced (whether he has adopted it btm&fide as 
his own view, I do not know), namely, that as human nature is everywhere 
much alike, and as men have all the same organs of speech, they would 
therefore naturally hit upon the same sounds to express their ideas ; and hence 
the similarities in all languages might be accounted for. I can scarcely 
imagine a more thoroughly perverted view of the whole question than this, 
The admission of such similarities is important. Bat it is surely notorious 
that it is because of the physical differences and the philological differences 
between one race and another of mankind, and between one language and 
another, that the polygenous theory of man's origin has ever been thought of. 
It is surely a fact within our own experience also, that, starting with the same 
parents, we find diversities in their children, and that every living language 
of which we know anything ia gradually changing and modifying before our 
eyes, and tending to diverge away from its original ; while it is not a fact that 
from diversity of origin we have any experience of this assumed tendency 
towards unity. The differences between languages arc patent ; but those 
traces of unity in various languages which Dr. Thornton has called attention to, 
are found lying hid in the original roots and the oldest germs of words, and not 
in their present forms or last developments. Then, as to the notion that the 


radical sounds in father and mother come from some primary root to be found 
in Pa and Ma, it would prove nothing for the one theory more than the 
other, even if true. It is akin to what Max Miiller calls the " bow-wow 
theory " of language, in which I have no faith whatever. Children are taught 
to say Pa and Ma in the nursery, and it is natural that they should imitate 
the Baa of the sheep, when they can do little else as babies. But, if that is 
a true theory for language beyond the nursery, how is it that in no language 
whatever, so far as I am aware, the sheep is, after all, called a Baa? It is 
not so in Latin, where we have ovis and agnus for what in English we call a 
sheep and a lamb. It is not so in Greek or in French, and perhaps not in any 
other tongue ; and therefore the theory requires no other refutation : it is 
not founded on any facts. As regards the monogenist theory, on the other 
hand, you have not only the Holy Scriptures which give you the hypothesis, 
but you have those extraordinary coincidences of similarity in language which 
Dr. Thornton has so ably brought before us, in support of it. You have, 
also, the high perfection of the Sanskrit language, though one of the oldest ; 
and that is in accordance with the idea that God created man not only a 
perfect being, but with a perfect faculty of speech, or perfect instrument of 
thought. And, indeed, it could not have been otherwise, if you once admit 
the theory that God created man in a state of perfection. It will be my 
duty a fortnight hence to bring forward some arguments against the contrary 
notion that God might have created man imperfect. If, however, you adopt 
the Scriptural account, and admit that speech was a gift of God, there is still 
a question which perhaps may be raised, as to whether that gift was not at 
first limited to the power of giving things names. Dr. Thornton appears to lean 
to this view. To give names to objects would no doubt be naturally one of the 
first exercises of that power ; but I can see no reason for believing that it had 
any such limitation. The idea of action or of motion is inseparable from the 
observance of living beings, and is as definite as the idea of the existence of 
things themselves ; and therefore verbs to express such ideas are as essential 
to intelligent thought and intelligible speech as substantives. If there is any 
part of Dr. Thornton's valuable paper with which I did not go, it is what 
relates to this. But I do not agree with Mr. Warington that the learned 
Doctor overlooked the grammatical differences or agreements in language, to 
which Mr. Warington has called special attention. Mr. Crawfurd and other 
ethnologists I know are of opinion that grammatical inflection is a matter of 
the greatest importance in determining the family of a dialect. Granting 
that man was created a perfect being, he must have been endowed with the 
capacity of speaking what he was obliged to think. He would at the very 
first have to think of the power of God as his Creator, and of his own relative 
position upon earth. According to Revelation, he had to think, in his commu- 
nications with the Deity himself ; but that is beyond our present range of con- 
ception, as it relates to what is supernatural But at all events, after the crea- 
tion there is nothing in the Scriptural account to lead us to the conclusion that 
man had to invent his language. And, in point of fact, now, we never invent 
words: we either borrow them, or we modify them, to suit new ideas. And if we 


were to attempt to describe any object by some inherent quality which it pos- 
sessed, we should find it the most diifieult thing imaginable. We fancy sometimes 
that words are thus expressive of ideas by their sound ; but that is mostly 
imaginative. If we take, for instance, the words " rush " and " crush," — the 
one signifying rapid motion, and the other arrested motion — which are almost 
quite opposite in idea ; yet they both appear perfectly expressive, merely 
because, through the association of ideas, we are accustomed to connect the 
meanings of the words with their sound, and so we think that they are 
expressive. Again, bearing upon the question of change of dialect, we must 
all have observed what a difference exists amongst ourselves with regard to 
the pronunciation of the English language. If you go down to Whitechapel, 
you will not find the same dialect there as you will find in Belgrave Square. 
Language, as it were, develops and grows naturally, and as it grows it some- 
times also tends to corrupt in its growth. The only thing which preserves it 
from more rapid alterations now, as formerly, is that it is written. In 
former days, when men had not the facilities for writing which they now so 
commonly possess, and when they wrote on stones or on tablets of wax, and % 
when a still greater majority of the people than now were necessarily illiterate, 
language must have degenerated or altered very rapidly ; and thus would be 
originated that great diversity of speech among mankind which we are now 
trying to account for. But, if anything is clear from the numerous philological 
differences and theories of language that exist, it is this, — namely, that there 
has been a " confusion of tongues " in the world. I do not think we can 
want any more absolute proof than we already have to be convinced of this. 

Professor Byrne. — There is one principle in the law of Confucius which 
ought to be mentioned. He taught the Chinese that they should give atten- 
tion to things and not to words. It is a part of their religious duty to carry 
out this principle. 

Mr. Reddie. — I fancy they must have been very unsuccessful in doing 
so, for they have more words than any other nation in the world. (Laughter.) 

Mr. Warington. — I wish to state that in the observations which I made I 
was not criticising the paper ; I was rather praising the author for not using 
an argument which he might have used. 

The Chairman. — I may say that I did not understand the observations 
of Mr. Warington as criticisms upon the paper. I rather thought that he 
was calling attention to an argument which might have been used, but was 
not used by Dr. Thornton. I think the arguments in the paper have been 
very ably sustained in the discussion; and the views advanced by the 
author have been supported by the very interesting fact which has been 
mentioned by Captain Fishbourne with respect to the Chinese language. 
The variety of language spoken in China affords a remarkable confirmation of 
what Dr. Thornton has been maintaining in his paper. There is this re- 
markable distinction between the Chinese and every other language, — it is 
a language of ideographic symbols ; all other languages are phonetic. The 
symbols used by the Chinese do not represent sounds ; they represent things, 
as was stated by Professor Byrne. It is a very remarkable fact, that in a 


nation like China, which is a very exclusive nation, and a nation possessing 
the power of writing, you need not travel out of it to look for an illustration 
of all the arguments which have been maintained in Dr. Thornton's paper. 
If you take one of the northern provinces in China, and compare the dialect 
spoken there with that spoken in one of the southern provinces 

Captain Fishbourne. — You might take the adjoining provinces. 

The Chairman. — You will find that if, as Captain Fishbourne states, you 
compare the dialects even of the adjoining provinces, the diversity between 
them is so great that the inhabitants cannot understand each other ; yet they 
have no difficulty in communicating their thoughts in writing. It is also to 
be remembered that we possess exactly the same kind of thing in the language 
of our arithmetical calculations. If we write down an arithmetical calcula- 
tion, or an equation in algebra, it can be read by a man in France or Germany 
who knows nothing about our language ; and thus mathematicians write 
down their symbols, and can communicate their ideas, though they may not 
be able to speak the same language. With regard to the observations of Mr. 
Warington, I differ from him in thinking that Dr. Thornton has neglected 
the comparison of the different grammars as well as the words of languages, 
though I don't think so much can be made out of the argument from gram- 
mar. Nothing can be more unsettled than the grammar of our own language, 
I know some who state that we have no grammar at all ; such is the delight- 
ful position in which we are placed. It must have been observed by every 
one, that our language has degenerated from the complex grammar of its 
supposed parent language. At any rate we have lost almost all our inflexions, 
and have nearly arrived again at what some might think the more primitive, 
style of language. 

Rev. Dr. Thornton. — Allow me to say, before I allude to the remarks 
which have been made on my paper, that I thank you most heartily for the 
vote of thanks which you have passed to me. I can assure you that I had 
great pleasure in preparing the paper, and that pleasure has been very 
much enhanced by hearing the many valuable observations which it has 
called forth. With reference to the observations of Dr. Tregelles, they were 
so favourable, that any remark upon them would be presumptuous on my 
part ; nor was there anything in those of Mr. Warington which calls for any 
particular remark ; I think he appreciated my arguments very fairly. I 
argued that, putting Scripture entirely out of the question, there is no reason 
to believe, from the study of man's speech, that what we find stated historically 
in the Scripture is not true, or that it disagrees with the conclusions which we 
fairly derive from the facts obtained from other sources. Of course it is im- 
possible to invent a theory which will square with facts in every particular, 
and my argument was that the apparent probability inclined in favour of 
Scripture. It is perfectly true that suffixes and prefixes are originally separate 
words attached to the inflected word, as, for instance, the verb " have " may 
be clearly traced as a suffix in the futures and conditionals of Romance verbs ; 
and the use of these attachments in so many different families of languages 
is a proof of their common origin. The choice of prefix by one family and of 


suffix by another, is the result of that tendency to divergence which I hold to 
have been inflicted on mankind at Babel: the primaeval tongue of the 
Noachidae probably used both. With regard to the observations of Mr. Waring- 
ton, as to the similarity, in all languages, of the words used for father and 
mother, there are certain radical sounds which are accepted as word-roots in 
nearly all tongues. One of the first of these is " P," and " M " is a modification 
of it, — both implying " that which is near." We might add that the harder " P" 
is probably used to distinguish the sterner, and the softer " M " the gentler 
parent. "Ma" is used in the Sanskrit in the sense of bringing into the 
world, and " Pa " in that of preserving or maintaining. It is certain that the 
radicals Pa and Ma exist in every language, however it may be accounted for. 
I come now to the question as to the probable meaning of a passage in Scrip- 
ture. Of course my explanation is given, off-hand, with the greatest diffidence. 
But the way in which I understand it is that in a future state the curse of 
Babel is to be done away. Man then being unwilling to speak that which 
is wrong, will be privileged to communicate in "pure language" with his 
Father. That language will not be the tongue of man, but what I will call 
the tongue of angels, which he shall use for glorifying God. (Hear.) As to 
the communications in Paradise, between the woman and the devil, and between 
man and the Deity, we cannot argue or deduce much from the little we know 
of what went on in the Garden of Eden. Man, in a state of innocence, which 
he lost by his fall, had very simple ideas, which did not require any extensive 
knowledge of language to express. The devil, in his conversation with Eve, 
had only to use a little persuasion in addition to the negative reasons which 
he gave to her ; but to enlarge on this topic would lead us into metaphysical 
theology, which is beyond the range of our present debate. Captain Fish- 
bourne said that without speech we cannot think ; but I should modify this 
statement by saying that, granting that we think in words, we do not think in 
grammar. If you contrast a conversation which you hold with any one with 
a debate carried on in your own mind, you will find that the relations ex- 
pressed by grammatical means in the former case are, in the latter, necessities 
of thought rather than mentally-conceived inflexions. Here, again, however, 
we are getting into metaphysics. A farther objection was started with which 
I cannot agree, that language came from God perfect — that it was given as a 
gift to man, and was not given imperfect. I think that argument cannot be 
sustained. " Whatever Adam called every living thing, that was the name 
thereof." There was a work which was left to man to do. His power to arti- 
culate was absolutely perfect, but it was given to him that he should develop 
it, and use it for something higher. I do not suppose that the power of speech 
can be called an imperfect gift, any more than a grain of wheat which has not 
been put into the ground is imperfect ; but language, till developed, was so. 
I will only now refer to the observation of Mr. Reddie as to what I stated 
about the Greek language. As an Oxford man and a schoolmaster, J am not 
one who is likely to undervalue that language ; and when I stated that the 
Greeks were slavish in their devotion to their own language, I did not 
mean to sneer at this, as Mr. Eeddie appears to think, but to express an 


opinion that they cultivated their own language so deeply and exclu- 
sively that it almost amounted to a fault. There is, for instance, in the 
Rhetoric of Aristotle an amusing passage, in which a person is introduced as 
contending, half in earnest, that if you predicate non-existence, you predi- 
cate a species of existence ; as if not-being were a peculiar way of being. 
That is a confusion which would never occur to a man who had learned 
another language. I do not think I need now make any further observations 
upon the question, and I will conclude by again thanking you for the kind 
way in which you have heard me. 

The Chairman then adjourned the meeting. 

ORDINAKY MEETING, July 16, 1866. 


Polygenous Theory, which, without descending quite so low for 
an ancestor, nevertheless propounds that the primitive men 
were savages, but lower than any known race of savages, 
inasmuch as, according to the theory, men originally could not 
even speak. 

There may be minor distinctions and sub-theories perhaps, 
but still it will be convenient to keep to this classification. 
There may be polygenists, for instance, whose imagined 
primitive men were not all of the same low caste, — all merely 
speechless savages of different colours, white, yellow, red, and 
black. And it is surely not worth while to have a polygenous 
theory at all, if merely physical differences are all it can 
account for. There would certainly be a greater similarity 
between men of all the existing varied races, while in the 
same savage, low condition, than between men of identical 
race when savage and when civilized. The physical race- 
characteristics of a people might not much differ, through such 
a change in their mental character, — or rather, let me say, 
the physical differences would be only and literally superficial, 
— whereas the differences, between savage and civilized races, 
when regarded in a mental, moral, and social point of view, 
are well-nigh infinite. But then, the polygenist, who would 
make only some of his primitive men to be low-caste savages, 
and others an elevated race of superior clay and capacity, 
would be involved in contradictions as to his very theory of 
creation, or, if he denies creation, in his theory of man's 
origin and development. And, in point of fact, no such 
theory has yet been propounded, at least not in such a 
way as to lay hold upon men's minds, or to call for further 
examination. Some, who have not studied the whole question, 
may vaguely speak as if they held such a theory. They may 
have been puzzled at seeing the marked differences between 
the various races of mankind as now developed; and, 
influenced by the persistency with which a diverse origin 
for each has been urged by some eminent physiologists upon 
scientific grounds, they may not have inquired what science 
and equally eminent physiologists have said upon the other 

But here Darwinism comes to the aid of the religious 
theory, and decides in favour of a monogenist hypothesis, 
professedly upon scientific grounds. Not that there may not 
be, again, a sub-class here, who are Darwinians and yet 
polygenists. At one time I thought that not possible ; but 
on arguing before the Anthropological Society of London,* 

* Anthropological Review, vol. II. p. cxv et seq. 


two years ago, that Darwinism " gets rid of the polygenous 
theory, by assigning to us the ape for an ancestor, mediately 
through the negro/' I was answered thus : — 

" Mr. Bendyshe could not perceive how the transmutation 
theory could get rid of the polygenous theory. Mr. Reddie 
appeared to suppose that, admitting the transmutation theory, 
man must have descended from a single ape ; but that by no 
means followed. Man might have descended from several 
different apes. The question of the origin of man from one or 
from many Adams was not settled at all by the transmutation 

To this it was replied, that " Mr. Bendyshe's suggestion of 
' more apes than one/ to reconcile transmutation with the 
polygenous theory, is at any rate something new; but if 
these apes are all to be found in the c equatorial regions/ to 
which Sir Charles Lyell refers us for a search, we are still 
relegated to the ( unimprovable ' negro races for the first 
ancestor of civilized man ! If it could be established that 
low-class savages could raise themselves, one difficulty in this 
theory would be got rid of — that would be all. But if this 
cannot be established, the theory is incredible, as being im- 

Mr. Bendyshe is Vice-President of the Anthropological 

Society of London ; but I am not aware how far his opinions 
are shared by others, or even if there really exists a class of 
Darwinian Polygenists in this country. On the Continent, 
Professor Carl Vogt is a Darwinian, who derives makind from 
three kinds of apes ; and he denounces, as irreconcilable with 
facts, the Darwinian monogenist theory. But it will be 
observed that this view of more apes than one, to obtain for 
the human race a polygenous origin, only brings us back, 
after all, to the other polygenous theory we have glanced 
at, which gives us " merely low-caste speechless savages of 
different colours " for the ancestors of all the races of 
mankind. If there be any great difference between the two 
theories, so far as anthropological considerations are involved, 
it is only this, that the one gets entirely rid of the special 
creation of man. In that respect Darwinism is completely 
antagonistic both to the religious theory and to all such 
polygenous theories as recognize the necessity for the interven- 
tion of a Creator, in order to account, for the existence of 
" the paragon of animals " — man. 

But the two best-known advocates of Darwinism are mono- 
genists. Professor Huxley has become a convert to it as a 

* Anthropological Review, vol. II. p. cxxxii. t Ibid. p. cxxxiv. 


monogenist, and has urged its probability upon physiological 
grounds. Mr. Alfred R. Wallace, who (upon Mr. Darwin's frank 
acknowledgment) may be regarded as the joint author of the 
theory, and ought therefore to understand it, pleads for it 
exclusively on monogenist grounds. The Darwinian is, there- 
fore, so far in agreement with the Religious Theory ; but only 
so far. 

Still it is useful to have an eminent physiologist and anato- 
mist, like Professor Huxley, strenuously declaring upon scien- 
tific grounds that he has no difficulty in understanding how 
all the varieties of the human race may originally have sprang 
from a single pair. His scientific dicta and arguments coun- 
terbalance what may be put forward, also as scientific dicta 
and arguments, on the other side. It is of great consequence 
also to have Mr. Wallace, as a distinguished naturalist, traveller 
and ethnologist, upon the monogenist side; even although 
other travellers and ethnologists, also eminent, have come to 
totally opposite conclusions. This being so, the holders of the 
religious theory may fairly say, that at least nothing is scien- 
tifically determined by physiology, comparative anatomy or 
ethnology, on the one side or the other. And this leaves us 
free to study the matter with regard to other considerations, 
if it does not indeed compel us to do so, in order* to 
understand on what side is the weight of evidence and pro- 
bability. It is to these other considerations I now wish 
especially to call attention. 

But there may be also monogenists, who, while rejecting 
Darwinism, do not hold the religious theory. They may 
believe that all mankind are of one species, and have sprung 
from a single pair, but yet they may consider the primitive man 
to have been a savage. If there be such a theory, it prac- 
tically differs little from the Darwinian, after (but only after) 
we have arrived at man upon the theory of transmutation. 
The difficulties of Darwinism begin, however, long before we 
have got to man. 

The classification adopted may, therefore, suffice for a 
tolerably complete review of the leading theories opposed to 
that of Scripture, which differs essentially from the others, in 
this, that it not only holds the special creation of man, but 
also that man was created not a low-caste, speechless savage, 
but a man in perfection. All the theories recognize the 
fact that there has been some kind of development or change 
in the human family ; the chief differences between them all 
relate to the origin and character of the primitive man. 

.While acknowledging in what respect the religious theory 
differs from all the others, it must also be pointed out in what 

i aypowiesis appiieu to roan, nur 
does Mr. Darwin make any attempt to explain this, in his 
, own elaborate volume. But the question is really a very old 
one, now revived. It differs nothing from that discussed in 
the Sympotiacs of Plutarch, namely, " Which was first, the 
bird or the egg? " And I must say, to the credit of those 
ancient inquirers, that when they started a theory, they did 
not shrink from discussing it in all its bearings. The same 
question — which really involves the theory of creation — has 
been more ably and fully discussed than anywhere else, so far 
as I am aware, in the work called Omphalos, by our Vice- 
President, Mr. GoBse, F.E.S. 

But passing over that, with all other difficulties which lie 
against Darwinism long before we come to its application to 
the origin of man, and contemplating " the lowly stock 
whence man has sprung," as Professor Huxley expresses him- 
self, it has also been pointed out that " to this physiological 
difficulty there is added one that is psychological ; for, even 
if we see no difficulty as to the physical rearing and training 
of the first human baby which some favoured ape brought 
forth, we are forced to ask the transmutationist to favour us 
with some hint of the educational secret by which the monkeys 
trained and elevated their progeny into men, when we our- 
selves are scarcely able, with all our enlightenment and educa- 
tional efforts, to prevent our masses falling back to a state 
rather akin to that of monkeys and brutes." 

To this, again, no answer has ever been given; and there is 
even a prior difficulty, which I may say has been suggested by 
Mr. Wallace himself. For, in the paper already referred to, 
he laid it down that the intellect of man and his speech would 
be developed together; in fact, he recognized that they are 

* Anthropological Review, vol, II. p. ulviii, d seq. 


correlative. And, granting this, he was asked to explain how, 
" upon any principle of natural selection, this intellect came at 
all? We have only as yet the animal — something between 
the man and the gorilla ; but it could not speak nor think. 
From whence then did intellect and speech proceed ? " — Now 
I beg your especial attention to all that Mr. Wallace could 
reply to such an essential question. He said : €S Mr. Eeddie 
also wants to know how the intellect came at first. I don't pre- 
tend to answer that question, because ive must go so long back. 
If Mr. Reddie denies that any animal has intellect, it is a 
difficult question to answer ; but if animals have intellect in 
different proportions, and if the human infant, the moment it 
is born, has not so much intellect as an animal, and if, as the 
infant grows, the intellect grows with it, I do not see the 
immense difficulty, if you grant the universal process of se- 
lection from lower to higher animals. If you throw aside 
altogether this process of selection, you need not make the 
objection about the intellect ."* Now, in the first place, 
there is an ignoratio elenchi in this reply; for the objection has 
been urged expressly to enable us to test the theory (assuming 
its possibility) on a point in which we can test it ; and, besides, 
Mr. Wallace ought to have seen that he had also answered 
himself. It is his own proposition, that speech and intellect 
would go together ; and if that be so, then the inferior ani- 
mals have not the intellect, so defined, that goes with speech. 
But the difference between the intelligence of the dumb crea- 
tion and the intelligence of speaking man might well form the 
subject of further investigation, which might fitly be brought 
before this Society. No doubt the intellect of the child grows 
with its growth ; but then the child is the child of intelligent 
and speaking man; and let me ask, would its intellect grow even 
now as it does, if the child was not taught to speak ? The 
problem Mr. Wallace had to solve, and failed to solve, was how 
intellect and speech could come of themselves, to endow an 
animal whose progenitor had neither one nor other ? 

Before I bid farewell to Darwinism, I must notice Mr. 
Wallace's reply to another pertinent objection raised in the 
Anthropological Society. He said : " Dr. Hunt asserts that 
archaeology shows that the crania of the ancient races were 
the same as the modern. Well, that is a fact I quoted on my 
own side, and his quoting it against me only shows that you 
can twist a fact as you like. I quoted it as a proof that you 
must go to an enormous distance of time, to bridge over the 
difference between the crania of the lower animals and man. 

* Anthropological Review, vol. II. p. clxxxiii. 



I said, perhaps a million, or even ten millions, of years were 

I beg leave to recall attention to the fact, though no doubt 
known to many present, that the famous Neanderthal skull, 
of which so much was made both by Sir Charles Lyell and 
Professor Huxley as probably a specimen of this missing link— 
which is still, however, missing— between men and apes, has 
been proved to be merely an abnormal formation, arising from 
synostosis or ossification of the sutures, and that similar de- 
formed skulls of perfectly modern date are in existence. And 
so we are still without a single specimen of the crania that, if 
found, would be considered as bridging over the gulf between 
man and apes. 

Having mentioned Sir Charles Lyell's name in connection 
with Darwinism, I must observe that, in his Antiquity of Man, 
he adopts the theory, and recommends it as " at least a good 
working hypothesis/' in the absence of any proof of its pro* 
bability, or even possibility, upon the sole ground that the 
geological record, which at present contradicts it, is so very 
imperfect. This has been characterized as not merely an 
instance of non-induction, or " hasty generalization," based 
upon a limited or partial knowledge of facts, which is so rightly 
and Btrongly condemned by Lord Bacon, even when the facts we 
do know are not inconsistent with the hypothesis we adopt ; 
but as, indeed, a " glaring specimen of positively false gene- 
ralization, the hypothesis being not in accordance with any 
recognized facts or principles whatever, but directly in the 
teeth of all our knowledge and experience." 

Having made use of the word Darwinism, I also feel bound 
to notice, that Mr. Darwin has not himself worked up his 
theory so as to apply it to man's development, though Profes- 
sor Huxley is no doubt right in saying, plainly, that that is the 
goal to which it tends. Strictly speaking, Mr. Darwin has not 
professed to prove anything beyond "the origin of species" 
by his theory. And all that he has proved as a naturalist, is 
the fact, that numerous varieties of plants and animals are de- 
veloped within the limits of each particular species* He has 
not proved a single instance of development beyond these 
limits of nature's laws ; and most certainly no permanence of 
development in any such case* He has indeed shown that the 
classifications of naturalists may probably in some cases be at 
fault, and that what they may have called different species 
are sometimes only varieties. But this rather goes against his 
theory, and may be the true explanation of the few excep- 
tional and only apparent approximations to the origination of 
new species which he almost claims to have observed. But 


even were we to grant that a new variety might, under special 
influences, become So distinct as to form a new species, that 
would still leave us very far short of transmutation from one 
genus to another, and farther still from the change from 
vegetable to animal life, or from any of the inferior annuals to 
man. All beyond the probable, but not proved, origin of 
species, is mere speculation, with not a ghost of a proof in 
support of it* And when Sir Charles Lyell admits that the 
paleaontological facts are as yet against the theory, what does 
that mean ? Namely, that, so far as we know, there have not 
ever been the necessary graduated forms in existence which 
the theory requires before it can be thought possible even by 
its advocates. But, of course, we must remember, that even 
if the gradations in nature were found to be finer and more 
shaded off one into another than they are yet known to be, 
that would not by any means prove that any one form had 
been developed out of another. At present, and within the 
historical period, this does not happen, and has never hap- 
pened. To suppose that it did take place continually, though 
"a, long time back," is to assert that nature's laws have 
been reversed. I do not understand how that can ever be 
established Upon scientific or inductive grounds I 

* [At the meeting of the British Association at Birmingham 
last year, I ventured to oppose the polygenous theory, chiefly by 
an appeal to all the facts of which we have knowledge relating 
to the savage and civilized races of mankind. The monkey 
theory waB then left out altogether ; for, to say truth, it had 
not a single advocate who ventured to raise his voice in the 
Ethnological section ! Mr. John Crawfurd, the venerable Presi- 
dent of the Ethnological Society, plainly denounced it ; though 
he is one of the most strenuous advocates of the polygenous 
theory which derives all the civilized races of mankind from 
savage progenitors. But when he Was asked to give a single 
instance of a savage race who had civilized themselves,— as 
some justification of his extraordinary faith that all the tjivili- 
zation of the world owes its origin to savagery !— he was 
ominously silent. 

As the discussion of this question has thus already b6en 
approached from the point of view both of the so-called 
Darwinians and of those who hold a polygenous theory which 
makes out man to have been originally a savage, — there can be 
no reason why, on the present occasion, and especially in this 

* Vide Note, p. 214. 

2 , - ... :^: 

«♦ -> ^-j 


Society, the subject may not be contemplated from the nobler 
stand-point which is furnished us in Holy Scripture, in con- 
trast with all conflicting hypotheses. What our religion teaches 
us of man's origin is nothing new. And, to examine it freely, 
we need not go beyond the scope of the objects of this Society, 
by entering upon theological discussion or exegesis of Scrip- 
ture. Our arguments, on the contrary, may be exclusively 
rational and based upon our knowledge of nature. They may 
be directed — like miracles at the foundation of our religion — 
to those who believe not, and not merely to those who believe 
the Scriptures. But we have no right to conceal the fact, that 
we have not invented the theory we may have adopted. And 
my endeavour shall now be to prove that, apart altogether 
from its origin, the religious theory ought to be adopted 
by all rational men, as being in accordance with all evidence 
and analogy, and with all our experience and knowledge 
of the human family. Surely there is no appeal to natural 
things in Scripture, that is not an appeal to man's reason, 
and to all he can investigate and discover with respect 
to the nature that surrounds him. When St. Paul argues 
that the invisible things of God — His Eternity, His power 
and Godhead — are clearly witnessed by the things that do 
appear, — that is, by the whole visible creation, — is not that 
an appeal to man's reason, which throughout the whole world, 
except among the few most degraded races or rather tribes of 
mankind, has been universally and rationally responded to ? 
Is not the beneficence of the Creator — " filling our hearts 
with food and gladness " — equally a matter of rational proof, 
appreciable by all mankind ? And so, when it is recorded 
that God created man in His own image, and gave him 
dominion over the inferior creatures, have we not a hypothe- 
sis of man's place in nature, that also appeals to all we can 
discover of man's past history, and to all we know now of 
mankind throughout the world ? 

Without presuming to fathom all that is meant by man 
being created in God's image and likeness, and taking merely 
the generally understood and universally accepted idea among 
Jews and Christians for ages, that man was created a perfect 
being, " upright," "very good" (for how, if created at all, 
could he come otherwise than perfect from the hand of God ?), — 
taking that as what religion teaches us of our origin, I wish 
to show what a wide field of investigation and inquiry we may 
have in this Society, without in the least trenching upon 
the territory of the theologian or the Scripture expositor. 
Not that I undervalue theology or Scriptural exigesis, any 
more than I would admit that religion is not one of the 


most important considerations affecting anthropology. If this 
were disputed, indeed, I might appeal to other quarters, which 
might possibly have greater weight with some, outside this 
Society, who do not with us accept Holy Scripture as " the 
key of knowledge." 

For instance, in M. Boudin's Etudes Anthropologiques, pub- 
lished in Paris in* 1864, he begins by citing Cicero as one 
of the most eminent philosophers of antiquity who has defined 
man as a religious animal. " There is not, in fact, any other 
animal," says Cicero, "who has knowledge of God. And 
there is no nation so barbarous or so savage, that even if 
it is ignorant what deity it ought to have, does not at least 
know that it ought to have a deity of some kind." (De Leg., 
lib. II. cap. 8.) Boudin then goes on to quote Plutarch, as 
saying, " You may find peoples in cities deprived of walls, of 
houses, of gymnasia, of laws, of monies, of literature ; but a 
people without God, without prayers, without oaths, without 
religious rites, without sacrifices, is what nobody has ever 
seen." (Adv. Colleton.) In citing Cicero's definition of man 
as a religious animal, Boudin refers, in a foot-note, to a curious 
exception, or rather attempt to make an exception to this, 
which I quote as having a peculiar value in the present 
day. He says, " Buddhism alone has the credit of attempting 
to teach religion to beasts. The author of a Tibetian work, 
translated into the Mongol tongue, and from Mongol rendered 
into French by Klaproth, who treats of the origin of the pro- 
gress of the religion of Buddha in India and in other Asiatic 
countries, recounts the following : ' When the veritable religion 
of Chackiamouni (Qakya-Muni) had been spread inHindostan 
and among the most distant barbarians, the high priest and chief 
of the Buddhist faith, not seeing any others of mankind to 
convert, resolved to civilize the large species of monkey called 
jaktcha or raktcha ; to introduce among them the religion of 
Buddha, and to accustom them to the practice of duties, as 
well as the exact observance of sacred rites. This enterprise 
was entrusted to a mission under the direction of a priest 
regarded as an incarnation of the saint Khomchim-Botitaso. 
This priest succeeded perfectly, and converted a prodigious 
number of apes to the Indian faith/ " — You smile at this 
story, as so recounted, even although you may before have 
heard of the sacred monkeys kept in the Buddhist temples. 
It is doubtful whether the story would be accepted in the 
Ethnological or Anthropological societies. But, if you reject 
it here, and laugh at it; if the notion of monkeys being 
taught religious duties and observances by men is truly ridi- 
culous ; how much more ridiculous and absurd must be the 


notion that mankind owe their own faith and ideas of religion, 
and even themselves, to a monkey origin ! Well may M, 
Boudin observe, that " just as the aiseased eye bears every- 
thing better than light, so the mind diseased with the evil of 

pride, accepts anything rather than the truth ;" (C and 

instead of attaching itself to transcendent truths which en- 
lighten, it gives itself over to astounding errors which 

Not long ago I observed it was argued in an article in the 
Anthropological Revieio, that, in order to study history aright, 
we must step out of our libraries— *-a hint, perhaps, in other 
words, that we may as well burn all our books I And you 
cannot fail to have heard of late years that anthropology, 
or the study of man, is quite a new science. Before you can 
believe that, you must, indeed, walk out of your libraries ! The 
oldest books in the world, the oldest history, sacred and pro- 
fane, and the oldest poetry of the ancients, alike disprove it. It 
is not only, as our own poet has it, " the noblest study of man- 
kind," but it has been, in truth, the oldest and most universal. 
Nor could we find a more fitting motto for a work on anthro- 
pology — unless, indeed, we borrowed the language of holy 
Scripture, that S€ God created man "— *-than the words of the 
Pelphic oraole, <( Know thyself."] 

Assuming, then, man's creation in a perfect condition, or as 
"made upright" by God, — as having intuitive wisdom, the 
highest intellectual power, the gift of speeoh, and moral facul- 
ties all in perfection,~we must yet remember that he had not 
possibly the kind of knowledge that comes alone by expe- 
rience; and that he was necessarily at first without those 
artificial adjuncts of an elevated or civilized condition which 
we are now, perhaps, too apt to confound with the true 
essentials of civilization or elevation of character. The <c many 
inventions," whether for good or evil, whether for man'tf com- 
fort or destruction, which were readily found out, were yet not 
all discovered in a moment ; and, as necessity is well said to 
be the mother of invention, we should remember that, as at 
first man's necessities in a fruitful and genial clime were 
probably few, inventions of arts of some kinds would come 
but by degrees. Nevertheless, as we have assumed the 
greatest intellectual capacity for the primitive man, as part of 
our hypothesis, we may fairly deduce from this, that man's 
first strides in invention and in art would be stupendous, and 
even more than equal to his absolute necessities. And so, just 
as we might have anticipated upon these suppositions, we find, 


in the earliest chapters of Genesis, while Cain and Abel were, 
the one a (t tiller of the ground/' and the other a "keeper of 
sheep/' that Enoch, Cain's first-born, built a city ; and we 
afterwards read, not only of those who dwelt in tents, and of 
others who were breeders of cattle, but also of the invention of 
harps and organs, and of artificers in brass and iron. Again, 
immediately after the Flood, we have the account of the 
building of Nineveh and other great cities, and of the pro^ 
jected building of the tower of Babel ; and then, afterwards, 
of the dispersion of mankind, and their separation into diverse 
nations and communities. After this general indication of the 
primitive history of the world, the Scriptures almost exclusively 
narrate the history of the descendants of Abraham, or of other 
peoples only when their history comes in contact with that of 
the Jews. 

We therefore naturally turn to profane records, and to the 
monuments of antiquity, to discover what they tell of the past 
history of mankind. But we have no other such systematic 
written history of the world at large as we find in the sacred 
Soriptures. If we turn to Herodotus, "the father of profane 
history/' we find he deals with particular nations merely, 
and with peoples comparatively modern; and only repeats 
vague traditions as to their origin and first migrations. But 
still let us observe the character of the facts as well as of the 
traditions he narrates. Invariably he introduces us to peoples 
more or less civilized, having the arts and ornaments and other 
appliances of civilized life, though a civilization differing from 
ours. And we find that all the traditions of their past relate 
to preceding civilizations, and those frequently superior to 
that of their then present condition. In no instance is there a 
record, and apparently not any knowledge, of the existence of 
mere savages without civilization, its arts and appliances. 
Barbarous and horrid customs are no doubt alluded to as 
practised by some of those ancient peoples, but yet there are 
none of them (not even those least known, about whom the 
traditions recorded are most vague,) without some adjuncts of 

It is much the same if we turn to Homer or Hesiod as poets. 
They also introduoe us to men who had noble sentiments, 
though heathens j to men who knew something of astronomy, 
understood agriculture, erected fortifioations, wore armour, 
and wielded well-made weapons of war ; whose women also 
worked embroidery, and taught their children in their tents or 
houses to emulate the noble deeds and speak the dignified 
language of their fathers. 

I may venture to say that ancient history knew nothing of 


savages, such as have been discovered now to exist in remote 
corners of the earth, furthest away from the traditional place 
of the origin and dispersion of mankind. Is it not then a 
fair question to raise, Whether, at the times of the history 
recorded by the most ancient historians, human nature had so 
far degenerated as to have arrived at the savage state ? 

For, when we turn from written history to the still older 
monuments of antiquity, what do we find ? The pyramids of 
Egypt, the remains of Thebes, of Memphis, of Eabek (the 
Scriptural On, and Heliopolis of the Greeks), the ruins of 
Persepolis, Nineveh, Babylon, of the Giant Cities, of Khors- 
abad, Birs Nimroud, Balbek, and Palmyra. In India, Ceylon, 
Japan, China, Central America, Italy, Greece, everywhere 
almost throughout the whole world, evidences may be adduced 
of man's possession of knowledge, ingenuity, art and science, 
in the ages long past. Even in North America, on the banks of 
Ohio and Mississippi, the latest discoveries of archaeology and 
geology go to prove, as Sir Charles Lyell bears witness in his 
Antiquity of Man, that an anterior civilization had also existed 
there, — where " the noble savage ran " in later times — older 
than that savagedom of the Red Indians which was found to 
exist when the modern Europeans first visited America. 

But while noticing this testimony to the antiquity of civili- 
zation in America, which surely goes somewhat towards 
proving that the Red Indian savages are not specimens of 
" the primitive man," as some have supposed, but really a 
degenerate race, we must keep in mind that the absence of 
any such proof of the former civilization of the oldest dwellers in 
America would by no means have established the contrary. 
Nomadic tribes sunk in barbarism, and in process of degene- 
ration to savagery, whose remote ancestors might have been 
civilized, might of course migrate into regions previously 
uninhabited altogether; in which case the local geological 
record could afford no evidence of the stock whence such a 
people might have really sprung. 

Again, if we trace the thread of civilization backwards, 
begin where we may, we have the same results. If we begin 
with ourselves and our own authentic history, — comparatively 
recent though it be, — we are led back to Rome, to Greece, to 
Phoenicia, and so on, till civilization becomes lost in time 
immemorial; and then the vast ruins of magnificent and 
giant cities, of obelisks, pyramids and temples, speak to us 
where all written history — save that of Holy Scripture — 
is silent. 

That there are difficulties in dealing with man's past his- 


tory, whatever view we may take of his origin and primitive 
state, no one who has given the least attention to the intrica- 
cies of the problem, or to the volumes that have been written 
upon it, by the ancients and moderns alike, can have any 
doubt. I can only hope to be able to bring forward a few of 
the most important considerations and salient points which 
affect the question, in order to elicit truth and to show what 
theory, if any, is free from difficulties which are insuperable. 

In the mean time there is one thing more to be noticed as 
regards the religious theory, in which it is in marked opposi- 
tion to all the others. When we take the Scriptural view of 
man's creation, we can at once comprehend and read aright 
all those evidences afforded by the remains of antiquity and of 
profane history of his wonderful original capacity and early 
civilization. We thus get over all difficulties we might other- 
wise feel as regards the time in which he would arrive at this 
artificially cultivated condition, and accomplish these stupen- 
dous monuments of his genius and pristine glory. We can 
then understand our old chronology, which makes the world 
to be but some six or eight thousand years old ; and so also 
perceive the value of the conclusion arrived at by the most 
critical of our modern authors, the late Sir George Cornewall 
Lewis, who in his last work, The Astronomy of the Ancients, 
considers that we have little ground for believing in any chro- 
nology of the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians, beyond 
about 3,000 or 4,000 years prior to the Christian era. 

I cannot, of course, enter here upon any discussion of the 
long antiquity claimed for the world upon geological grounds. 
In my opinion these long leaps into the past make few of the 
difficult problems of nature a whit more easy. But I will say 
this, that those who ask for millions or tens of millions of 
years, in order to get over the difficulties of their own invented 
theories. — whether thev start the world with a nebulous fire, 
or man with an ape,-are really moderate in their demand 
for time, compared with what they. ask of our faith. They 
might multiply their millions of years by millions more, and 
yet not have time enough to develop this real world we know 
— full of teeming life and intelligence — out of fire-mists, 
monads, and monkeys ! 

The religious theory, on the contrary, throws light upon 
history and experience. Supposing mankind to be highly en- 
dowed, with the highest intellectual capacity, at the time of 
the confusion of their language and dispersion in the Bast, 
it also presumes they would carry with them, in greater or 
less degree, the primitive traditions and the acquired know- 
ledge which would be retained by individuals in each family 


or tribe. The men, in short, who combined together to build 
Babel, are supposed to be dispersed in different directions in 
the richest virgin countries of the earth, and the result to be 
the sudden erection of magnificent temples, pyramids, palaces, 
and cities. In confirmation of this view, we have the actual 
remains of antiquity, which puzzle or excite the admiration of 
our modern architects, engineers, and mathematicians, as to 
how some of those ancient works were accomplished ; and yet, 
according to all trustworthy chronology, they were executed 
about the period we speak of. To enable us to realize this the 
better, extraordinary as it may appear, I oannot do better than 
quote from a newspaper paragraph of recent date. We oan 
only properly judge of the past by a wise consideration of the 
present, or understand what our predecessors upon earth may 
have done, by considering what men do now in our own age. 
In The Times, then, of 28th June last will be found the fol- 
lowing pregnant words in an article relating to the American 
iron-clad turret-ship Miantonomoh :-~- <e To say that the Ame- 
ricans are a great people is but to repeat a universally acknow- 
ledged aphorism. They build a city, launch a fleet, or set an 
army in the field^ in about the same space of time it would 
oocupy us in this grand old but slow-moving country, to dis- 
cuss the preliminaries." — Let us consider this. The capital 
of the United States of America is not yet one hundred years 
old ; and there, as alsq in Australia, we see what an intelli- 
gent and civilized community of emigrants oan do in a very 
few years j and that too, remember, in our commercial times, 
when not under the rule of absolute kings, or chiefs of castes, 
like those who in former times bestowed their energies chiefly 
upon works that would redound to their pride and glory. If 
we also merely consider the changes in the cities of London 
or Paris within a hundred or even fifty years, we ought to 
have no difficulty in realizing how much could be done in 
Egypt, India, Assyria, Etruria, Greece and Rome, in some 
hundreds of years, granting that three or four thousand years 
ago men were intelligent and civilized, and not degraded 
savages. In America also, we find already, in the course of 
one or two generations such a change in the very physique of 
a people, as enables us, within our own experience, to see how 
new races would come to be developed out of an originally 
common stook. 

[With these hints for reflection, I must now pass on, to 
glance at the opinions of those who, notwithstanding what all 
history and archaeology attest, have come to conolusions dia- 
metrically opposed to what is here advanced. 


No answer having been given last year at Birmingham, 
when the question was asked, What single instance oould be 
adduced of a savage people having civilized themselves ? I 
afterwarda wrote a brief paper, with the title, " Man, savage 
and civilized — an appeal to facts," and published it in the 
Ethnological Journal tor October, 1865, embodying the same 
arguments and repeating that question ; from which paper I 
beg leave to make the following brief extract, by way of in* 
troducing the answer it received j— 

The thesis I now venture especially to maintain is, not only that civiliza- 
tion is older than the savage state, but that it must be so. Here I appeal to 
all our knowledge of mankind, moral, social, and metaphysical, as well as to , 
all the facte of history, both as regards the oourse of civilisation throughout 
the world and all that we know of savage races, 

. . . Setting out with M, Guizot's famous sentence, that " Civilization 
is a fact," I argue, from its very existence now, that it must always have 
existed since man was, We are not here, of course, concerned with minor 
details respecting the various phases into which civilization may have been 
developed. I speak of " the civilized man n only as an elevated, intellectual, 
and moral being, apart from his peculiar circumstances. . 

I argue that civilization (in this proper sense) must always have existed 
since man's oreation : — First, because I am not aware of any civilization in 
the world which has not either always existed among the civilized race from 
time immemorial, or has had its origin attributed to the prior civilization of 
another race, brought ah extra to the race becoming civilized. We can 
scarcely consider that the Greeks were " savages " before the introduction 
among them of written language and Egyptian civilization ; nor that the 
Britons (with their chariots) were savages when invaded by the Romans. 
But, be that as it may, the civilization of Egypt and of Borne had at least a 
prior existence; which is enough for my main thesis. — And, Second, because 
we know nothing of any truly " savage " race having raised itself to a state 
of civilization ; while it is questionable whether there is any thoroughly 
savage people that can be said to have become civilized through the influence 
of a superior race. But, even could such a case be adduced, it would not of 
course disprove the priority of civilization. The real point to be established 
by those who dispute my position is the proof that savage rates can civilize, 
or have ever civilized, themselves. 

To this, two answers appeared in the Ethnological Journal 
of November last; one by a writer signing s * A. B./ J who 
began by explaining why no answer was given by the Presi- 
dent of the Ethnological Society at Birmingham. He says : 
'< I fear the explanation amounts simply to this, that Mr. 
Crawford may have thought the theory the mere coruscation 
of a too exuberant fancy which needed no extinguisher. But 


as your contributor now repeats his challenge, and, above all, 
as this is not the first time that the strange crotchet has been 
propounded, I shall attempt a refutation of it." 

It is amusing to hear what had frankly been called " the 
old tradition of the creation of Adam," characterized at once 
as " a theory " of mine, as " the mere coruscation of a too 
exuberant fancy," and as " a strange crotchet," by a writer 
who forgets, while he is writing, his admission that he had 
heard of it before ! It is high time surely that this sneering 
tone should cease in discussing such questions. I trust the 
institution of this Society will do something to put a stop to 
it. Before eminent ethnologists or physiologists talk thus of 
crotchets, or parade that in their opinion " no competent man 
of science believes in Adam and Eve," they had better be 
sure that the theories they have adopted, as so superior to 
what they call " time-honoured and strongly -rooted prejudices" 
are not themselves mere crotchets, that will never either 
become "time-honoured," or succeed in establishing a preju- 
dice in thinking minds. Even traditions must have had a 
beginning, and strong prejudices may exist in favour of what 
is merely new, as well as for what has stood the test of time, 
and withstood not a little antagonism. 

But to return to our ethnologist. — He says, " Let us see 
what this supposed civilized man and woman must have been 
when first created. If they had the persons of Apollo and 
Venus, and the brains of Newton and Elizabeth, they must 
still have been cowering, helpless savages, for they had every- 
thing to acquire. The imaginary civilized pair must have 
been at first without language, without fire, without tools, 
without clothing. They had to learn even to walk and to 

run They must have fed on the dead carcases of fish, 

reptiles, birds, and quadrupeds, or starved. In fact, the civi- 
lized man of your imaginative contributor turns out to be a 
more arrant savage than a native of Australia, of Tierra del 
Fuego, or of the Andaman Islands ; for all of these had made 
some small progress." This is ruthless — I had almost said savage 
— logic I to which the only reply of a rational being could be, 
that if the " imagined civilized man" was really a savage 
that could not even walk or talk, he could not have been 
supposed to be elevated or civilized. — Of course, you all know 
very well who are the real authors of this imagined animal, 
that " a long time back " — no doubt a very long time ! — 
had neither intellect nor speech, and it seems (unlike all other 
animals) not even power to walk ! Although, also, we know 
as a fact, that perhaps the great majority of the human race 
have lived, and do probably now live, upon vegetable food, yet 


the primitive man, wo are assured, €€ must have eaten dead 
carcases " or starved ! 

To throw light upon this tissue of mere assertions and 
" musts/' I ought to explain that Mr. Crawford, in his History 
of Cannibalism, puts it forward in greater detail, and imagines 
that all races of mankind must have passed through a can- 
nibal era, which followed one during which they were content 
to pick up what he calls "the dead carcases of animals/' 
which may have died. This theory found few, if any, adhe- 
rents in the British Association last year, where it was dis- 
cussed ; and it is worthy of notice that, notwithstanding all 
we do really know of the Cannibal Islands and Dahomey, Mr. 
Crawfurd comes to the conclusion, that " although in Northern 
and Western Europe the quality of the race of man was of the 
highest order, yet, owing to unpropitious conditions, it was pre- 
cisely in this cold quarter of Europe that cannibalism probably, 
and human sacrifices certainly, lingered the longest !" Such 
doctrine, I think, might well make any man shudder who is 
not rather inclined to exercise a peculiarly human function, 
and to laugh, in thinking of the contrast between a theoretical 
and the actual world ! Well may we smile, once more, with 
Voltaire's Vieux Solitaire, at the notions of those speculators 
(a race of men not yet extinot), qui ont cree Vunivers avec lew 
plume ! 

But our critic goes boldly on : " How the declaration of 
Solomon, that f - God hath made man upright/ comes to be in 
accord with the paradox, is more than I am able to guess ; for 
it simply means that a vertical attitude was given to man, to 
distinguish him from the beasts of the field that had a hori- 
zontal one. In truth, the declaration of Solomon seems as 
little in accord with the theory as is the wisdom of Solomon." 
Now, this was not only printed and published in London in 
1 865, but it occurs in what was specially praised in a literary 
notice in a famous London journal, on 10th November last, 
" as an excellent paper on savagery and civilization ! " I 
must observe that the word rendered " upright," in the pas- 
sage of Scripture referred to (Eccles. vii. 29), is yashar in 
the original. It occurs about 120 times altogether in the sacred 
volume, in the same or in cognate forms, and in every instance 
it refers solely to moral or spiritual uprightness. It is several 
times applied to describe the character of God Himself; 
thus making Solomon's declaration throw light upon that of 
Moses, that man was made in God's spiritual image, or in 
uprightness like to God. I have referred to this argument as 
an instructive illustration of how both science and Scripture 
are sometimes handled in our day, and not without applause 


in certain influential quarters. And perhaps I may be per- 
mitted to add, with reference to the discussion at our first 
ordinary meeting last month, that I do not consider I am 
trenching in the least upon the province of the Scriptural 
exegesist, in merely ascertaining and noticing what is the 
unquestionable sense of a word or the undisputed meaning of 
a passage of Scripture. I doubt whether there exists a second 
man who in any reputed organ of the press would venture to 
say that yashar only means perpendicular I 

But our ethnologist made use of such arguments and ven- 
tured to write in such a tone, although obliged to make the 
following important admissions : u The Greeks and Romans, 
(he says), who might have written an account of savages, 
knew of none, They knew many 'barbarians/ but never 
saw a savage. .... .The races inhabiting Europe that came under 

the notice of the Greeks and Romans were all of a high 

quality Among the most backward known to the ancients 

were our own forefathers, the Britons $ but, in possession of 
herds and flocks, of iron and corn, they were very far advanced 
beyond the savage state. The other civilized races of the old 
world, such as the Egyptians, the Jews, and Assyrians, the 
Persians, the Hindoos, and the Chinese, were probably in the 
same state of ignorance of the existence of savages, such as 
were found in America and the isles of the Pacific, as the 
Greeks and Romans were. They had experience of many 
barbarians, as they have now, but of no savages." 

This, you will perceive, iB precisely my argument. I had 
appealed to all these facts, which my opponent cannot deny $ 
and asked for facts upon the other side. The only reply was 
this j " But those who are now civilized must once have been 
barbarians,— the barbarians must have been savages, and the 
lowest savages known to us, as in the example of the Austra- 
lians, must have been once lower still,- — must have been once 
without language, fire, and implements. We can hardly be 
said to have any authentic account of savages rising to the 
ranks of barbarians; but we are notwithstanding satisfied 
that, from the nature of things, such a progress must have 
taken place." 

Of course, these reiterated " musts " all go for nothing. 
They are mere strongly-prejudiced assumptions of the point 
at issue ; and being contrary to the ascertained facts within 
our knowledge and experience, they are false assumptions 
against analogy and induction. I am glad to say that such 
views were emphatically repudiated by Professor Rawlinson 
(an ethnologist who yet pays some respect to history), while 
presiding in the Ethnological section of the British Associa- 
tion last year : — 


" Professor Rawlinson protested against the assumption that 
human beings were originally in that poor and destitute con- 
dition, which had been described, and that they all rose from 
a state of barbarism. He held the very opposite opinion, 
viz., that they were created in a state of considerable civiliza- 
tion, and that while most of the races had declined into -abso- 
lute barbarism, some races had never done so. The Egyp- 
tian, Babylonians and Jews had never so declined." (Rep* 
of Brit. Assoc, 1865.) 

And now, mark the importance of the facts contradicted by 
such assumptions. If this theory of the savage origin of 
mankind were true, is it not utterly incredible that not a 
single civilized people should have a knowledge, not even a 
tradition, of their immediate ancestors having been savages ? 

But some further important admissions have been made in 
confirmation of the religious theory. Our critic admits that 
" empires have fallen through their own vices and the inroads 
and conquests of barbarians," and also that " there are a few 
examples of civilization ending in barbarism ; " nevertheless, 
he has the hardihood to conclude by telling me that "my 
theory," (as he will call our common old tradition of the Bible,) 
"is an idle attempt to turn the order of social progress 
bottom upwards j " and he patronizingly advises that, " as I 
evidently possess both knowledge and ingenuity, I should 
henceforth use them logically and forswear paradox I " 

My other critic in the Ethnological Journal was scarcely 
another, for his views are much the same. His conclusion is, 
that, " scientifically considered, primitive man must be viewed 
as naked, speechless, defenceless, and ignorant." This is 
Burely " science made easy "I If a " needs must " is thus 
" scientifically" to be employed to drive us into distance and 
darkness beyond all our knowledge, what does science mean ? 
Then he tries to evade the evidence of all history by saying, 
" history can know nothing of the remote times of man unless 
by divine revelation, and to bring in this is to remove the 
question out of the domain of scientific discussion." But 
may it not rather be said that, therefore^ divine revelation may 
be the very means to enable us to complete our science ? At 
all events, we surely keep within the scientific domain when 
we subject the theory we adopt— whether its source is bejieved 
to be divine or human — to every possible test of experience* 
and never once say that it "must" be so, except upon 
rational grounds, and because it is in accordance with human 
history and human knowledge of facts and nature. This 
objector also admits that social degradation is easily intel- 
ligible and may happen to any people, though he does not 


appear to consider that that would eventually result in a con- 
comitant " physical degradation. " He calls the theory of 
degradation " Darwinism read backwards," to which he 
objects ; and yet I venture to say that, if there is any truth in 
Darwinism at all, it will be found, whether as regards plants 
or animals, — when all is left to " nature," and mere " natural 
selection " — to tend, though even then within certain limits, 
rather in this downward direction. The question now, how- 
ever, is, whether or not this has been the case in respect of 

We must remember, however, that the fact of the antiquity 
of civilization, as proved by all history, tradition, and archaeo- 
logical remains, is only one of many converging proofs, all 
bearing in favour of the religious theory of man's past and 
present condition. There are also other proofs to be derived 
from the common knowledge among civilized races, which 
speak of a common origin, and of some previous intercom- 
munion among them all. One of the most important of these 
proofs is derived from the astronomy of the ancients, more 
especially from the names and figures of the constellations 
still delineated upon our celestial globes. Similar figures are 
found upon the Dendera planisphere and zodiac of Bsneh, and 
upon sarcophagi from Egypt, and landmark-stones from 
Assyria, which may be seen in the British Museum. The 
apparently arbitrary character of these figures, there being 
nothing in nature to suggest them, and yet their being found 
nearly identical among all the ancient nations of the old 
world, and sufficiently similar, even in America, to indicate 
the same common origin, — all combine to furnish a most 
important cumulation of proof as to the ancient intercom- 
munication between peoples and races, besides those derived 
from comparative philology, comparative mythology, or the 
common traditional stories found among mankind. From all 
these sources may be urged other arguments in favour of the 
religious theory. [That derived from comparative philology 
was most ably treated by Dr. Thornton at the last meeting 
of this Society ; and it will now also be seen, that the very 
origin of speech is bound up with the origin of man himself.] 
I venture to allege that no theory either about man or language 
which we can devise — even with all our after-knowledge of the 
facts now existing in respect of both — will so well account for 
all the facts of the case as our old religious and (I think I 
may still say) u time-honoured " theory of man's origin and the 
confusion of language at Babel. 

Having now appealed, in proof of this, to all we can gather 


from history and among the civilized races, there is one further 
appeal to be made, though one of less importance. It is to 
all that we also can discover from the traditions of the various 
savage races. The result of that appeal I must be content 
to state in little more than a sentence from the paper already 
quoted ; namely, " That among all savage races (except perhaps 
the very lowest of the low, from whom we can gather nothing), 
there are traces, more or less, of an anterior civilization, or 
previous superiority of condition, that testifies to their being 
now in a literally degraded state. Even the poetical legends 
of the Viti Islanders, and the superstitious traditions of the 
Negroes, testify to something in their ancestors superior to 
themselves." In illustration of this, I quote from an inde- 
pendent source the following : — " The islands of the Pacific, 
under a general appearance of primeval simplicity, present 
here and there many remarkable evidences of a former 
civilization, as well as of a degree of connection between the 
several populations, which seems inconsistent with their pre- 
sent isolation."* I ought here perhaps also to observe inci- 
dentally, that among almost all the savage races when first 
discovered, the traditions connected with their corrupt forms 
of religion are found to have something about serpents, and 
trees, and woman. 

So that here again the verdict of facts is still in favour of 
the priority of civilization, and a proof that the savage races 
have degenerated from a higher grade. On this point, too, I 
may refer to the Bosjesmen, as a known instance of the growth 
of a distinctive savage race within a few generations. Without 
going further into details as regards the savage races, I venture 
to claim to have pretty well established my thesis, and proved 
that the religious theory may now also be called with propriety 
the Historical Theory. 

Since the foregoing was written, additional testimony of a 
valuable kind has come under my notice, and to this I beg 
leave very briefly to allude. At the last meeting of the 
Ethnological Society, held only on Tuesday, 10th July, a paper 
was read by the distinguished African traveller Mr. S.W.Baker, 
in which he gave an interesting account of the various tribes 
of the White Nile Basin. One of these tribes (the Kytch tribe), 
he says, is " hardly a remove above the chimpanzee, except 
(a most important exception) in the power of speech. They live 
in a marshy district and are wretched skeletons " Most of these 
tribes, it seems, know how to work in metals. But in one in the 

* Principles of Mythonomy, by Mr. Luke Burke, p. 51. 



Shir district, having no iron-ore, hard iron-wood supplies the 
people with a substitute for iron, like the hard stone used by 
the New Zealander, and flints by other savages elsewhere. 
Mr. Baker remarks that " the absence of articles and weapons 
of metal in no way proves their excess of savagery ; but where 
there are no metals to work, there are no blacksmiths." Mr. 
Baker also describes " the tribes on the borders of Abyssinia, 
who are still in a state of superior civilization." They are sprung 
from a land inhabited by the only independent Christian commu- 
nity in the whole of Africa, among whom reading and writing are 
common, and where the features and forms of the inhabitants 
are closely allied to the European, forming a strong contrast 
to the tribes who inhabit the borders of the White Nile." 
At the same meeting, Dr. Beke, also a well-known African 
traveller, is reported as having made some remarks on the 
retrogression of civilization among the savage tribes. In his 
opinion, they are becoming more and more savage, and he 
asserts that nearly all travellers in Africa are of that opinion. 
I am glad that Mr. Crawfurd, the President, was present when 
this was stated in the Ethnological Society, as he is well known 
to entertain opinions opposed to those I have here ventured 
to advance. 

[Still bearing intimately on our subject, and especially on an 
important point to which I am anxious to allude before I con- 
clude, another paper was read the same evening, by Lieut.- 
Colonel Fytche, on attempts that had been made to civilize 
some of the Andaman Islanders, which had entirely failed, 
even the wearing of clothes producing consumption. Dr. 
Mouet, however, spoke of other similar attempts, and of one ex- 
ceptional case, that of a young girl, in which the efforts made 
had proved successful. 

It was no part of my case to prove that individual savages, 
or tribes, cannot be reclaimed and raised. That this may 
even be possible of races, I will not dispute, though it may 
be a question whether the process of degeneration may not 
sometimes proceed so far as to render the elevation of the race 
afterwards impossible. My argument has been, that these low 
races do not, as a fact, ever rise of themselves. The late Dr. 
Waitz has said further, that they neither do emerge from their 
barbarous state, nor do they exhibit any desire to leave it ; 
and they even, in spite of example and teaching, rather 
tend to remain as they are. It is not a fact, then, that they 
rise, nor is it " natural " that they should, however easy 
and natural it may be that they should fall still lower and 


But, whence, then, it may be asked, if all this be true, has 
the idea of human advancement and progress come to enter 
men's minds at all ? To that I reply, it has no doubt also been 
derived from human experience, and is best explained by the 
religious theory. Ours is no dark and fatalistic creed that always 
and only points downwards. We have, thank God, a knowledge 
and experience of advancement and human progress in the 
world's history, as well as of man's degeneration. The real 
fact is, indeed, that we have lived so much in the light of this 
state of advancement, in which we were born, that some of us 
have forgotten its cause, and that it is an absolute reversal 
of a previously existing state of things. Not a reversal of 
any natural law — let us leave that to those who believe that 
intellect and speech could come of themselves, and the noblest 
manhood be developed out of apes or speechless savages ; — 
not a reversal of any natural law, but the introduction of a higher 
law, that claims to regenerate man, and to elevate his nature. 
Just as by our theory we believe that soine thousands of years 
ago man was created very good by God, yet .afterwards fell, and 
so the human race degenerated ; — by slow degrees no doubt, for 
he always had a better spirit that strove within him, and an 
intellect that could not lose its lustre in a day; — so we also 
believe that some eighteen hundred years ago the progress of 
this human corruption was arrested, by a revival of new 
spiritual life and fresh power of becoming " upright." We 
appeal equally to the facts of history, to prove both man's fall 
and his restoration. Since the second Adam came, in fact, 
the history of human advancement and of the highest civiliza- 
tions, from the time the Roman empire fell, is little else than 
the history of the progress of Christianity. The students of 
" the science of man" will never understand their whole subject 
if they ignore this crowning fact of all, which completes the 
religious theory of man's past and present condition. 

My argument required that I should chiefly dwell upon the 
downward course of humanity, but I gladly recognize that 
that is only half the truth with which we are concerned. " The 
question of questions for mankind (well says Professor Huxley) 
— the problem which underlies all others, and is more deeply 
interesting than any other, is the ascertainment of the place 
which man occupies in nature, and of his relation to the 
universe of things. Whence our race has come; what are 
the limits of our power over nature, and of nature's power 
over us ; to what goal we are tending ; are the problems 
which present themselves anew, and with undiminished in- 
terest to every man born in the world." 

These words of the learned Professor are worthy of the 

p 2 


theme. They recognize a power beyond mere nature, and 
show that the past and present of man cannot be well con- 
sidered without reference also to his future. The institution 
of this Society has not been devised with the view of stifling 
or suppressing such problems, but to secure their more com- 
plete consideration. This paper, be assured, is no "idle 
attempt to turn the order of social progress bottom upwards," 
but rather an honest endeavour — however inadequate — to 
overthrow ill-grounded theories, which, — by ignoring the true 
source of all " our power over nature," and of that righteous- 
ness, or moral uprightness, which alone can raise a people, 
and secure for them a social progress that will last, — not 
only cannot tell mankind " to what goal they are tending," 
but have even failed to account satisfactorily for either the 
original existence or present condition of the civilized and 
savage races of the great human family.] 

The Chairman. — I am sure it will be perfectly unnecessary for me to call 
upon you to pass a vote of thanks by acclamation to Mr. Reddie for the very 
valuable paper he has read. (Hear.) I can only say that it is adding one 
more to the many obligations which the Victoria Institute owes him. No 
one who has not been associated with him in the formation of this Society 
can understand how earnestly he has worked for its advancement ; and the 
admirable and exhaustive paper which he has produced this evening shows 
how, in the midst of those labours, he has found time to devote himself to 
the great cause which this Society advocates. I have to announce that 
I have received a letter from our noble President (the Earl of Shaftesbury), 
in which he expresses his deep regret that he is prevented by indisposition 
from profiting by Mr. Reddie's paper. (Hear, hear.) I have only to add that 
I most cordially invite discussion upon this paper. I am sure Mr. Iteddie 
will be disappointed if his paper does not provoke that free discussion which 
he considers the most wholesome feature of this Society's proceedings. 
(Hear, hear.) 

Dr. Gladstone. — I rise to express the great pleasure with which I have 
listened to Mr. Reddie's paper this evening, and especially to the latter part of 
it ; and I am quite sure that there are many here who have also felt, and who 
will express that same pleasure. I know Mr. Reddie likes discussion ; he 
and I can never be together for two minutes without coming across one 
another ; and he had not been reading his paper one minute this evening 
before he advanced an opinion which I could not adopt. The subject is a 
most noble one. It has been treated very extensively ; it ought to be treated 
with all philosophical calmness ; it ought to be considered with all the 
largeness of mind that can be brought to bear upon it. We ought, if possible, 
to remove every prejudice, and everything which would prevent philosophical 
consideration. I am quite sure Mr. Reddie has too much nobility of mind 
and too much courage to call people bad names when they don't deserve it ; or 


to give them a bad character without facts to justify him in doing so. He has, 
however, done this, I am sure unintentionally, in his paper, in using the classifi- 
cation which he adopted in dealing with his subject ; for he has called one theory 
a religious theory, and by doing so he has implied that the other theories are 
irreligious. (No, no.) Well, I think you will allow me to say that I do 
understand that it does imply that ; and that is the accusation which I have 
to bring against him. I have been curious to know what is the reason of the 
objection on religious grounds to the Darwinian theory. I am not going to 
speak now of the polygenous theory, or to defend it from the charge to which 
I think it lies open, of being irreligious ; but I am anxious to know what are 
the Scriptural grounds of objection to the Darwinian theory. The Bible 
declares that God created man. It tells us what sort of a being he was when 
he was created ; but it does not tell us how or by what process he was 
created. I have looked carefully into all the passages in which the Hebrew 
word for " create n occurs, and I do not find that any one of them indicates any 
particular theory of creation. The word " created " is never used in the Old 
Testament except in reference to the works of God ; but it may indicate either 
the calling of things out of nothing, or the bringing together of various 
parts, and putting them in a form in which they were not known before. 
In several cases it distinctly refers to ordinary generation. It never im- 
plies that all that was created or made by God was not called out of some- 
thing that existed before. If we turn to the New Testament, we find that the 
equivalent Greek word has in only two instances been applied to the works of 
man. It is applied expressly to that which God makes ; so that, in the New 
Testament, as in the Old, there is no theory of creation laid down. I do not 
say we ought to accept the Darwinian theory ; but we have no other which 
gives us a possible solution as to how God made all those creatures He has 
placed in the world, and I do not see how it opposes any statement of Scripture. 
I think we ought to remove this impression, and consider the question upon 
its own merits. I am aware that Darwin himself not only never applies his 
theory to the creation of man, but that there are various expressions in hip 
book which seem to indicate, by the idea of natural selection, the action of 
some kincl of power independent of God. We are not, however, to suppose 
that some persons may not take this natural selection as in subordination to 
the will of God ; and it seems to me, that, if we were to , come to the 
conclusion that God created great whales by natural selection, we should be as 
much in accordance with Scripture as if we supposed that He created them by 
some other process. We know the argument of Paley, that if a person going 
along the ground strikes his foot against a watch, and takes it up and looks at 
the various contrivances, and sees how it is made, he must come to the conclu- 
sion that it was the work of some intelligent being. But supposing, in 
continuing his walk across the common, he came upon a chronometer and a 
clock, he would arrive at the same conclusion as before ; but most likely he 
would think that different minds had been employed to create the different 
pieces of mechanism. But if it were revealed to him by some messenger 
from heaven or otherwise, that the clock was produced from the chronometer, 


and the chronometer from the watch, and that the mechanism was so perfect 
that the one was evolved out of the other, then his idea of the intelligence of 
the artificer, instead of being diminished, would be exalted. But this analogy 
is not perfect, because in mechanism we cannot bring in God's work — we 
cannot bring in the laws of nature, that is, the finger of God. But whether 
God, in some inscrutable way, has called beings out of nothing, or whether 
He has acted in some such way as is indicated by Darwin, in either case we 
have God's direct power in creating and sustaining all things, and directing 
the processes by which He produced animal* life, and lastly, man himself. I 
think I will close this subject with these few remarks. I am quite sure they 
do not detract in the least from the value of Mr. Reddie's arguments. I 
think he has shot most powerful shells into the hostile camp, although 
some of them may have fallen short of the mark. 

Captain Fishbourne. — It did not strike me that in using the expression 
" religious theory," any attack was made upon the opponents of it — not the 
least. I think I)r. Gladstone's exegesis is not fair. He attacks the term ; 
but the term is used to express, shortly, what is the view taken by a class 
of persons from the stand-point of revealed truth. It means no more 
than that the class of persons to whom it especially refers, are those who 
accept the Scriptural account of the creation ; and I think it is perfectly 
natural that their theory should be called the religious theory. I say, taking 
the whole argument in the paper, it is quite in opposition to the view Dr. 
Gladstone has taken of it. The argument throughout has been based on a 
rational, and not a mere scriptural consideration of the facts brought under 
our notice ; taking them more particularly, too, from witnesses on the oppo- 
site side of the question ; and it is only after Mr. Reddie has established 
his position, from the evidence of persons who exclude the religious view, 
that he introduces proofs of its being in accordance with what might be 
termed the religious view, or that which is drawn from Scripture. I think 
Dr. Gladstone is a little touchy about this. (A laugh.) I think Mr. Reddie 
has pointedly and distinctly, on more occasions than one, not only insisted, 
but emphatically insisted, that there was no intended antagonism to other 
views on any but rational grounds, or, at least, that there was no imputation 
of irreligion intended. I do not think it is right or fair, therefore* to fix upon a 
mere expression, and deduce from it an argument which neither anything in 
the paper warrants, nor anything which Mr. Reddie has ever said or 
written on any previous occasion. (Hear, hear.) 

Mr. Warington. — If I apprehend the matter rightly, I think the objec- 
tion of Dr. Gladstone was not that he thought Mr. Reddie had charged 
those who did not accept the scriptural account of the creation with being 
irreligious, but that the term was not exactly the one which ought to be 
chosen to denote the particular views to which Mr. Reddie applied it, since 
there might be other views entertained on the subject that might be con- 
sidered equally religious. Now I really must, on that point, go hand in 
hand very warmly with what Dr. Gladstone has said. It struck me, after 
reading Darwin's book on The Origin of Species, that it was quite possible 


that it might be perfectly true that man originated in that way, and that 
devoutly religious men might therefore hold the Darwinian theory and also 
believe their Bible to be literally true. We believe God created all men. I 
think we should all deny the assertion that God only created the first man. 
We believe He has created all men. We make it part of our religion that 
we believe in God as our Creator. What do we mean by that ? Vfy don't 
mean that He has brought together a number of atoms from different parts 
of the world and made us just as we are at once. We believe He has made 
us by the process of generation ; that we gradually developed into our pre- 
sent state. But what then ? • Does that make it the less true, at the 
same time, that He created us ? I do not think there is anything irreligious 
in believing that the first man was developed from a lower animal ; but, 
then, it does not follow that the animal had power of itself to develop us. 
That may be the opinion of Darwin, but it is by no means involved in his 
theory. It might be a power exercised upon the animal by some higher 
influence. We admit that all varieties have arisen on the principle of natural 
selection ; but in the origin of these varieties, then, do we exclude the hand 
of God ? If I find a plant, differing from all its fellows, growing in a different 
place from other plants of the same kind, I hold that that plant has come 
thus to differ by what is called the action of natural selection ; but this does 
not by any means exclude the idea that God made that plant as well as all 
the others. On this account, it struck me that the term " religious theory " 
was scarcely the correct term by which to designate the particular theory 
to which it was applied. I have, further, one or two remarks to make in 
the way of criticism, with reference to the arguments of Mr. Reddie. I 
think there is nothing more dangerous than bad arguments. I believe that 
bad arguments are worse than no arguments at all ; and if there be any weak* 
ness in those which have been used, I think it is our duty to point them 
out. There was an argument used by the essayist which seemed, at the 
first glance, to be very plausible — that was an argument with reference to 
language and intellect. He said animals did not seem to have an analogy to 
man, such as was necessary to make development possible, because they had 
no language. But though that may seem very plausible, it struck me as being 
really a most unsound argument ; for if you take a child born perfectly 
deaf, that child has no spoken language, it hears no sound, and it cannot be 
taught any language 

Mr. Reddie. — Oh, yes ; it can. 

Mr. Warington. — It cannot be taught any language by sound ; but yet 
that child develops its intellect, though unable to talk ; for it can express 
its ideas by means of signs. (Hear.) Therefore it appears to me that the 
connection of articulate speech with intellect is not essential There must be 
speech of some kind (hear, hear) ; but it is hot at all necessary that it should be 
articulate language. Now Mr. Reddie is not surely prepared to assert that 
there is no inarticulate speech amongst animals, no signs or sounds by which 
they can convey their ideas to one another. (Laughter.) For instance, you 
see a dog in the street going and fetching another dog ; by which it would 


appear that dogs had some means of conveying their thoughts to one another, 
either by instinct, or reason, or intellect, or whatever you like to call it 

Mr. Reddie. — Excuse me for the interruption ; but you are contending 
against an argument of Mr. Wallace, to which I alluded, and not to an 
argument of mine. I never raised that issue. But Mr. Wallace, in a paper 
which he read before the Anthropological Society, advocating the Darwinian 
theory, laid it down as a canon of that theory, that intellect and speech 
would go together. I have no objection to that view ; but I wish it to be 
understood that I gave no reasons in its favour ; because Mr. Wallace having 
laid down that theory, I merely adopted it Us an argumentum ad hominem. 

Mr. Warington. — I was quite aware of that. I was simply endeavouring 
to show that the answer you gave to that was an insufficient answer. There 
is a kind of speech possible among animals, and a kind of intellect, as well 
as human speech and human intellect 

Mr. Reddie. — I beg your pardon ; but if you had attended to the paper, 
I think you would have seen that I had almost said as much, and expressly 
reserved that point as onerequiring further consideration. 

Mr. Warington. — Very well ; I will not further dwell upon that. The 
other point which I wish shortly to mention, is in respect to the possibility 
or impossibility of savage nations ever rising in civilization. We are told 
as evidence that they never could have risen, that there is no tradition 
existing amongst civilized nations of their having been previously in a savage 
state. Before we insist upon that argument, it would be necessary to look at 
this further point — Is it probable, if a nation had risen from savagery to a state 
of high civilization, that it would recollect, as a tradition to be handed down 
from one generation to another, that it originally belonged to a class near to 
the brute ? I put it to yourselves : Is that the kind of tradition you would 
hand down ? If you were aware of the fact that your immediate ancestor 
was a monkey, or some other species of brute (laughter), would you have 
taken care to hand that down to your children ? On the contrary, would 
you not try to conceal it ? I know I should. (Laughter.) Therefore, is it 
not possible that a nation may have risen from a state of savagery, and have 
forgotten it, from the people having concealed the fact ? Mr. Reddie has 
quoted evidence to show that particular nations look back to a higher state 
of civilization ; but is it not perfectly natural that they should do so ? Tra- 
ditions of this kind, looking back to former glories, would be precisely those 
most likely to be handed down. This, it struck me, considerably weakened 
his argument. Again, is it not a fact which tells against the general 
position of Mr. Reddie, that there are traditions existing among nations who 
have attained to an advanced state of civilization, as to certain persons who 
were the inventors of the most fundamental parts of civilization ? Are 
there not traditions of those who invented the use of fire ? When we have 
traditions of that kind actually existing 

Mr. Reddib. — Would you mention precisely what traditions you refer to ? 

Mr. Warington. — I believe the tradition exists amongst the Chinese, and 
amongst a number of other nations considerably civilized 


Rev. Dr. Irons. — I doubt that. 

Mr. Warington. — I am speaking from memory ; but I am quoting from a 
book written by one of our best ethnologists (Mr. E. B. Tylor), who men- 
tions a considerable number of nations in which traditions exist amongst 
the people as to those who first brought fire into their country. I think we 
might take a statement of this kind, — especially from a person who is 
extremely careful and cautious in all he says, and whose deductions have 
been always well considered, — I think we might take his statement as some- 
what antagonistic to the general position which Mr. Reddie took up in 
his argument ; for surely this is a tradition of rising in civilization, or rising 
from a lower state in civilization to a state which was higher. I do not 
mean to say it is a rise from utter savagery (hear, hear) ; but it is a rise tending 
in that direction, — it is a tradition going against that which I thought Mr. 
Reddie insisted upon so strenuously, namely, the tradition of a fall from 
what was higher to what was lower ; — an item, therefore, of positive evi- 
dence, over and above the general probability that the traditions of a fall 
from a higher state would be remembered, while the traditions of a rise from 
a lower to a higher state of civilization would be forgotten. 

Professor Oliver Byrne. — I have just one remark to make with 
reference to the arguments in the paper. We find that all those 
properties in creation that have come by little and little have more 
or less a complete gamut. We have, however, five senses; but we 
have no positive gamut for any of them. Neither have we a gamut 
for any of the qualities of the heart. We have no gamut for friendship ; we 
have got no gamut for love ; we have not a single gamut for any of those 
perfect things of which we have experience, — consequently they never grew 
little by little. If they had grown little by little, there would have been a 
symbol for every change — there would have been a mark for all the powers 
and passions of the head and heart. For instance, there are three qualities of 
the head : we have got the power to analyze — the power of taking things 
apart arid looking at them ; the power of putting them together ; and the 
power of alternation ; but we have got no gamut to show how we commenced to 
learn these mental processes. When we speak of science, also, we must recollect 
that true science depends upon positive proof. But Darwinism is not 
science : it is without proof — without axioms or definitions. Had man grown 
little by little, as the Darwinians say, every single power and passion of the 
head and heart would have had a nicely-formed gamut. But what is the 
fact ? Look at the man, for instance, who is employed in China tasting tea. 
He cannot teach a man how he tells the taste ; he cannot tell how he does it ; 
he cannot give a gamut for the taste that God Almighty gave him,— it can- 
not, therefore, have grown little by little : it must have been got altogether ; 
and so it is with all the perfect things in creation. 

Mr. Fowler. — With reference to the remarks of the gentleman who 
spoke before Professor Byrne, I have one word to say. Mr. Warington's 
argument appeared to be, that it was quite possible that civilized man could 
have developed himself from a savage state. Now it appears to me, that wo 


must look at the question as regards the development of mankind, in the way 
it has been very ably put in Mr. Reddie's paper, but which, among the many 
other points referred to, has been somewhat overlooked ; namely, that there is 
no account of the history of mankind which does not essentially harmonize 
with the account we have in the Scriptures. If we look at the question as 
to how civilization grew up, we will find, as Mr. Reddie very properly ob- 
served, that the oldest uninspired account we have is that given by Herodotus, 
and if we examine his history, we do not find it inconsistent with the Scriptures. 
All we learn from it of the history of mankind thoroughly harmonizes with 
the account which we get in the Bible. Egypt is the oldest country of which 
Herodotus speaks in much detail ; but when he refers to the ancient 
accounts of transactions which occurred in the early part of the history of 
Egypt, he only mentions what he was told by the priests of that country. 
He does not appear to be able to vindicate all that he has written, or to 
speak with the accuracy and certainty which is evident in the inspired 
writings of the Bible. Now the same thing might be said with regard to 
the oldest accounts which we get from all other sources with regard to the 
history of mankind. And I think it is a point we ought especially to bear 
in mind, among the many able arguments that have been advanced in the 
paper, that we have no account of the early history of mankind which in any 
way contravenes the earliest account of all, namely that given us by the 
inspired writers of the Old Testament (Hear, hear.) 

Rev. S. C. Adam. — I rise for the purpose of asking a question of some 
able Hebrew scholar with regard to the meaning of the Hebrew word bar a, 
created. I have always understood that it means that God gave a perfect 
existence to everything that He created ; and if so, He gave a perfect form 
to man in creating him. 

Rev. Dr. Iron& — It is an awkward thing to rise in order to answer a ques- 
tion so put Without, however, professing to be a Hebrew scholar, I may say 
that I have read Hebrew for many years, and I may observe that the state 
of the language is so primitive that it is impossible for us to analyze the 
exact force of its roots, beyond a certain limit You find instances in 
which the word in question has a definite meaning ; but they are very few, 
and it would be out of the question to attempt to build up a doctrine of 
philosophy on the etymology of a Hebrew word. It is used ordinarily in 
the same way as we use the ordinary English word " created," or " made," — 
sometimes it means the one and sometimes the other. The idea of " cre- 
ating out of nothing " is an idea we bring to the word, rather than extract 
from it It is not an idea which belongs necessarily to the word itself. 
There is no doubt that is the traditional sense of the word ; but it would be 
impossible to push its force beyond a mere general sense, and to build an 
argument upon its etymology would be most unwise. Would you allow me 
to say in defence of our Essayist, that I think a little unfairness was used 
by Mr. Warington and Dr. Gladstone in questioning what is or is not reli- 
gious. Of course, Mr. Reddie used the word in its ordinary sense. We are 
not here merely to play with words. -We are using terms in their common 


signification. Every one knows that there is a religious view of all the sub- 
jects which engage us here ; and we must not be debarred from using common 
phrases in discussion. It leads people from the truth, and gives an appearance 
of pettiness to our discussions, to have issues raised in debate which are not 
worthy of debate. Now with respect to the Darwinian theory, I think it was 
incumbent upon Dr. Gladstone to "define what he meant when he made a dis- 
tinction between Mr. Darwin and the Darwinian theory. The force of his argu- 
ment was that a man might be a good Darwinian and be at the same time a 
sound Mosaical theologian ; but at the present moment I am in doubt as to what 
he meant when he said that the Darwinian theory might be held by those who 
considered the Bible substantially true throughout. Of course I could put a 
meaning upon it, because in the Christian Church there has been a theory 
(though it has not been ordinarily discussed amongst us) which very closely 
approximates to that which I suppose to be the Darwinian theory, and it 
has been held by great men without the least rebuke. I remember, some time 
ago, reading a sermon by Father Ventura, preached in Rome and Paris, which 
received the direct approbation of the Pope, and it begins with a statement 
which I recently had occasion to quote. It occurs in a sermon on the certainty 
of the instruction of the Catholic Church ; and in it the preacher states : 
" There is no father of the Church, there is no doctor of Catholic antiquity, 
who does not acknowledge that everything in the system of grace is cor- 
respondent with something which had previously existed in the realm of 
nature." He attempts to show from that the truth, that there is nothing 
whatever in the new creation which had not its dim parallel shadowed before- 
hand in the previous operations of what we call nature. That I suppose may 
harmonize to a great extent with Darwinism. I remember distinctly, when I 
quoted this in a sermon, that several good old Churchmen were shocked at 
it, and said it was Darwinism. I suppose I must not mind being called hard 
names, but I think a Christian clergyman standing up in this metropolis of 
Christianity, in this city which we might regard as the centre of intellectual 
Christendom, ought not to be called names for maintaining a truth which, ac- 
cording to Le Pere Ventura, and according to his present Holiness the Pope, 
has been laid down by all the doctors and fathers of the Church unanimously. 
But all this only shows that we might eliminate that whole discussion from 
our present debate ; and I think we might spare altogether that part of Mr. 
Warington's observations. I do not think it was ad rem to-night. He came at 
at last to the point. He came to consider whether there was anything like a 
tradition in the world, of a savage people having civilized themselves. Now, 
I think our essayist threw down the challenge boldly. And, indeed, this is 
not a matter in respect to which there need be any doubt. As to the obscure 
and more thau obscure tradition existing in some races, that their ancestors 
had originally derived fire from the discovery of their fellow-men, I would 
put it to the conscience of Mr. Warington, whether that tradition is not 
more like poetry than history ? It is a sort of imagination. Being accustomed 
to the comforts and blessings of fire, it was not unnatural, in the savage state 
to which they had sunk, that they should have some vague tradition of this 


kind. Bat the very fact that there was such a tradition, attributing the origin 
of fire to some one who brought it to them, rather proves Mr. Reddie's case, and 
shows that they attributed even their knowledge of fire to some being wiser 
than themselves. (Applause.) It was not a thing discovered by their gene- 
ration ; it was in the dim religions past. And so we find that traditions in- 
variably take a religions turn. We all know that Prometheus suffered for 
stealing fire from heaven ; but then Prometheus wan considered to be a 
demigod. (Hear, hear.) 

Mr. Barrett. — The impression left on my mind is similar to that which 
was. left on the mind of Dr. Gladstone. As far as I can judge, Mr. Reddie 
appeared to think that Christianity must stand or fall by the objections to 
the Darwinian theory. (Cries of No, no.) Well I may be right, or I 
may be wrong, but that was the impression left on my mind. I think a 
greater disservice cannot be done to Christianity than dogmatically to assert 
that its claims depended upon refuting the truth of the Darwinian theory. 
Darwinism may be right or it may not ; but the Bible teaches us nothing 
at all about it (Hear, hear.) The Bible teaches us nothing about science. 
It was not written to teach us science. It was sent to appeal to our affections, 
not to our intellectual nature. I do not think, therefore, it has any connection 
with the Darwinian theory 

Mr. Reddie. — I am sure I will be excused for the interruption, for I 
must say that this is really not the question here. I have not said 
that Christianity must stand or fall by Darwinism, or the objections to 
Darwinism. I stated what Darwinism was, and I tried to oppose it, not by 
any words of Scripture, but by our experience and the facts of nature. (Hear, 

Mr. Barrett. — I was simply stating the impression left on my mind 
from hearing the paper 

The Chairman. — As I understood the paper, the subject has not been dis- 
cussed from the Bible point of view simply, but from a consideration of the 
facts of nature, as opposed to the Darwinian theory. 

Mr. Barrett. — I was simply stating the impression left on my mind, 
which was, that it was argued that Christianity must stand or fall by the 
objections to the Darwinian theory ; and I thought I was justified in stating 
that I did not adopt that opinion. 

The Chairman. — I must say I can see nothing of that kind in the paper. I 
regret the tone which has been imported into this discussion by Dr. 
Gladstone, unintentionally no doubt ; as it has drawn us away from the 
subject of the paper. I think Mr. Reddie was extremely cautious in not 
attempting to call names. But in dealing with a subject of this kind, it is 
sometimes very hard not to call things by their right names. There is a 
certain theory which we believe to be the religious theory ; and by the reli- 
gious theory I mean that which a plain common-sense man will deduce from 
the word of God, reading it as a plain, common-sense man will read the 
Scriptures. I cannot conceive that a man is very much to be deprecated, if 
he calls that plain, common-sense view the religious view, as opposed to other 


views which deduc3 theories out of their own conceptions rather than from 
the facts of nature. Dr. Gladstone referred us to a well-known simile — that of 
Paley — of a man going across a common and striking his foot against a watch. 
Now if Paley had known more of the question, he would have seen that this was 
a bad sort of simile to take for working out his theory from analogy ; because 
if a man struck his foot against a stone instead of a watch, he would have 
found, upon an examination of it, that it contained a far more complicated 
structure than was to be seen even in a watch, and that it was the work of 
a far higher power. With regard to the observations which have been made 
in reference to the Darwinian theory, — and when I make use of that term, it 
is in no spirit of calling names, — I must «ay that those that advance that 
there is no such thing as a Creator, or no such thing as creation, claim (I do 
not say whether they do it rightly or wrongly) Darwin as a supporter of 
what I think every one must therefore admit to be an irreligious theory. But 
take his own arguments. I have not to go simply to statements scattered here 
and there in the volume of Mr. Darwin ; I take the whole spirit of it. The 
whole gist of his argument is directed against anything like design appearing 
in creation. How does he form the eye ? I need not now go into that 
matter ; it takes a very prominent part in the Darwinian theory. No one 
can read his description of the formation of the eye, without seeing that it is 
an attempt, as unphilosophical as contrary to common sense, to account for 
such a perfect instrument without any design on the part of the Creator. 
I think any theory which attempts to get rid of that which is the most 
striking feature in God's work, namely design, is the most irreligious theory 
that the mind of man has ever yet devised. Darwin completely fails to 
account for the marvellous structure of the eye from any principle of natural 
selection. In my opinion, if Thomas Carlyle were to give his version of 
Darwinism, he would call it "the devil-take-the-hindmost theory. ,, This 
monstrous theory that the stronger will always destroy the weaker, 
and that perfection comes through the destruction of the weaker, utterly 
ignores the operation of any intelligent design. Another great crux of 
Darwin's was the formation of the cell of the common hive bee. He could 
not discover how to account for this upon the theory of " natural selection." 
He could not tell how the bee discovered that marvellous angle of 109 deg. 
28 min., by which it secured the greatest possible amount of jspace with the 
least amount of work, except that, after much trial and error, it discovered 
the square root of two to six places of decimals ! You may think I 
am travelling out of the question under discussion, but I do not think I am. 
I want to draw a very important distinction, which has not been drawn 
to-night in this discussion. I have not heard one real objection to the argu- 
ments of Mr. Reddie, with the exception of that taken by Mr. Warington with 
reference to the tradition about fire, which has been so ably answered by 
Dr. Irons. Therefore I think the paper is a very triumphant one. But there 
is one thing which was not argued in the paper. It is this, we have heard of 
men- improving, and of men making inventions. Men can make out the 
square root of two to twenty or thirty, or even fifty places of decimals ; but 


we find that there is this distinction between man's intellect and die inseQeet, 
if yon will so call it, or the intelligence or the instinct of other anrmah, that 
they were created with their instincts perfect, and required no m&ruetioa. no 
bringing oat, no improvement of any kind. As tbey were created so they are 
now. We find amongst the simplest and the humblest of God's creatures that 
their instincts hare anticipated some of the greatest inventions and discoveries 
of man* Before Archimedes was a mathematician, before logarithms were 
invented, the bee was the great geometrician. When we were in want of 
materials for paper, we went to the wasp to be instructed, and found h making 
paper out of dry wood. We thought we had made a discovery in aeronautics, 
but we found that we had been anticipated by the little spider. Another 
spider anticipated the invention of the diving belL All this proves that 
it is possible for beings to be created with perfect instincts, and that there- 
fore it is possible for such a thing as a perfect man to have been created. If 
we have perfect insects created, with all their faculties at once appearing 
bright, clear, and beautiful, I say man might have been— I don't say he was 
— created perfect ; and that he might have degenerated, for he has the power 
to lose knowledge as well as to acquire it I do not think that men ought 
to shrink from expressing their opinion upon a matter, as to whether it is 
religious or whether it is not, when they do not do it in the spirit of calling 
names,* and they ought to be allowed to protest against theories which 
they do not believe to be true, without being charged with being unchristian 
and uncharitable in the interpretation which they put upon them. There is 
another thing which I think has a remarkable bearing on the question. 
That is, when a man is raised to a high point of civilization he forgets a 
vast amount of the instinctive faculties he possesses. As science advances, 
he is better able to interpret great facts in nature ; and it is by these facts 
that he begins to learn what instincts he unknowingly possesses. How is it 
that one class of men in one part of the world have discovered that the leaf 
of a certain tree dried and formed into tea makes a very valuable article 
of food ? How is it that in another quarter of the globe men have discovered 
that the fruit of another tree (coffee) roasted and ground produces an article 
of food which has the very same effect on their constitution ? How is it that 
another set of men have discovered the value of cocoa ? How is it that 
these things have been ascertained ? What could have guided men in 
their selection of these things ? They are substances without taste or any 
other sensible property in common. Everything was so naturally adverse 
to the gamut of which Professor Byrne has spoken ; and yet, if we come to 
a chemical analysis, we find that they all contain the same kind of substance, 
and that is a certain vegetable alkaloid, of an isomeric character. All of 
them contain the same elements, combined together in the same proportion. 
How is it that men instinctively arrived at that knowledge ? And if man 
has such subtle instincts as these, has he not other higher instincts ? Is 
not poetry a subtle instinct ? Is not the power of reasoning a subtle instinct 1 
Is not geometry founded upon- the most subtle instincts of the human mind 1 
Are we to deny all that ? Again to recur to the instructive use of coffee and 


tea. If we go to Wiltshire, we find the ill-paid labourer knowing that by the use 
of tea he is enabled to do the greatest amount of labour with the least amount 
of waste. We also find that the poor, hardworking sempstress has discovered 
the same fact. She knows that it is. the best food she can take. How is it 
that these people find out these things ? I was told once by an inspector of 
prisons that he had made an experiment in which he put 400 men on oat- 
meal and milk, and 400 others on tea ; and he found that those to whom 
the oatmeal had been given had lost in weight, while those who received tea 
had lost nothing at all : the alkaloid in tea, coffee, and cocoa prevents 
waste of muscle. These marvellous human instincts lead us to the 
conclusion that man comes not from the lower animals by any educational 
process or any education of instincts, and prove that while man possesses 
instincts in common with the brute species, he has something which the 
brute species do not possess ; for the latter cannot be educated — they never 
can improve their instincts, nor, on the other hand, do they ever lose them 
or become in any way degenerated. . 

Rev. Dr. Thornton.* — The Periplus of Hanno, and Herodotus's account 
of the Troglodyte, seem to contain instances of savagery known to the Greeks. 
But the Gorilla of Hanno were most probably apes, — the name perhaps 
derived from gur and jalal, meaning " howling monsters w in Punic. The 
Troglodytes were apparently a very early Hamitic colony, degenerated, through 
want of communication with their fellow- men, both in physical character 
and in language ; and this is, therefore, an argument in favour of Mr. Reddie's 

* Dr, Thornton was unable to remain sufficiently long at the meeting to 
make these remarks, which he has since been good enough to forward for 
insertion in the Journal of Transactions. In addition to what he has stated 
as regards the Troglodytes, I would beg leave to observe, that the allusion 
Herodotus makes to them does not seem to indicate any actual knowledge 
of their existence or real character, but only hearsay, and so little of that — 
mixed up, too, with so much besides that is incredible — as to amount to 
nothing. He tells us in the same place of the Lotophagi, whose kine feed 
backwards, because they have horns so bent forward and downwards that 
they would stick in the ground if the animals endeavoured to advance. Then 
he says — " The Garamantes hunt the Ethiopian Troglodytes in four-horse 
chariots ; for the Ethiopian Troglodytes are the swiftest of foot of all men 
of whom we have heard any account given. They feed upon serpents and 
lizards, and such-like reptiles ; and they speak a language nke no other, but 
screech like bats." (Melpom. IV. 183.) Very little of this, I think, can be 
accepted as history, or as facts within the writer's actual knowledge. That 
one race of men might in his day chase another in four-horse chariots might 
be true enough ; but to speak of employing " four-horse chariots " for the 
purpose of hunting men who were " the swiftest of foot," destroys the whole 
story. Take away the horses and chariots, and the foundation of fact for 
this exaggerated " hearsay " may well be imagined to relate to a monkey- 
hunt ! In referring to Herodotus, I only meant to rely upon what he nar- 
rates as within his personal knowledge, and to exclude the more fabulous 
stories he repeats, such as the above, and also what he recounts of a one-eyed 
people, the Arimaspians, in whose existence, Herodotus tells us, he did not 
believe himself. (Thai. III. 116.) 


Mr. Reddie. — I have but very little to say in reply to the remarks which 
have been made upon my paper. I regret extremely that it has not been 
criticised more thoroughly. With the exception of the observations of Mr. 
Warington, as to the traditions relating to the discovery of fire, no attempt 
has been made to controvert any one of my arguments. I should wish, 
however, to give a few explanations. In the first place, I am most anxious 
to remove the impression which my friend Dr. Gladstone appears to entertain 
with respect to my use of the term " religious theory." I can only say that 
I used it most innocently, and without the slightest idea that my doing so 
could have given offence to those who hold other theories. I certainly had 
no intention of implying that either the Darwinian or the polygenous theories 
are necessarily irreligious 

Rev. Dr. Irons. — But they are so! (Hear, hear.) 

Mr. Reddie. — Well ; perhaps I may think so too ; but I wish to explain, 
as a matter of fact, that, whatever I may think, I did not wish to convey 
any such impression, by applying the term " religious theory " to that which 
I adopted. I think I might further appeal to the way in which I have spoken 
in detail of the other theories, as a proof that I could have had no such 
intention. I may observe, besides, that I am quite aware that Mr. Darwin 
himself unquestionably recognizes the Creator in his book ; and in one of the 
discussions which took place in the Anthropological Society, to which I have 
referred in my paper, I actually appealed to that fact against the arguments 
of several gentlemen who had adopted his theory and advocated it upon 
what would generally be called Atheistic grounds. I had to remind them 
that Mr. Darwin was obliged, in order to get a beginning for his system, to 
speak of " the breathing of life by the Creator into one or into a few forms," 
from which his theory derives all the others.* And, in truth, they did not 
like it. And I believe that most Darwinians would themselves repudiate 
the notion that their theory has the religious character which Dr. Gladstone 
claims for it. There is great difficulty in the present day in speaking of 
questions that touch religion. If you go to one Society, for instance, to 
advocate what I have now called " the religious theory," merely as a mono- 
genous theory, and say nothing about religion, religion and miraculous creation 
are thrown in your teeth. This I have experienced. While here, I am now called 
to account, when I call the theory which derives mankind from Adam and Eve, 
as the Scriptures teach, plainly by its name, which I thought every one would 
understand. I certainly did so most innocently, as I have said, and merely as 
the best descriptive term I could think of. But since the question has been 
raised, I would ask Dr. Gladstone, as one of the managers of the Royal 
Institution of Great Britain, whether he is not aware of the fact, that one at 
least of the best-known and most zealous advocates of Darwinism, Professor 
Huxley, who has lectured upon it in that Institution, distinctly adopts 
it, because it gets rid of the interposition of the Creator to account for man's 
origin ; or (as noticed in our Chairman's Inaugural Address) gets rid of 

* Anthrop. Rev., vol. II. p. cxxxiv. 


the special creation of Adam and Eve 1 Now, I would ask, how can we 
possibly tell what a theory is, unless we take its advocates as its exponents ? 
And since the theory I advocate is not merely a monogenous theory, but is 
founded upon what Professor Huxley so completely despises — the Scriptural 
account which begins mankind with the special creation of Adam and Eve — 
what can I call it, if I do not call it the religious theory 1 I should be glad 
to change it, if Dr. Gladstone or Mr. Warington will supply me with some 
other term by which I could better or more intelligibly designate it. With 
regard to the polygenous theory, I not only do not think it is necessarily 
irreligious, but I know that some persons found their views upon the expres- 
sions they find in Genesis as to " the sons of God " and " the daughters of 
men," in support of a polygenous theory, which they may therefore regard as 
religious. But still, while admitting this, I think everybody will under- 
stand that what I have called the religious theory is what the Scriptures 
most obviously teach. And what is the main feature of that theory ? Why, 
that man was created perfect, and in the same way that God created all 
things. Animals, for instance, do not acquire their instincts gradually : they 
have them, and, so far as we know, always had them complete, and each its 
own distinctive characteristics. The dog has its baric, the cow its low, the 
nightingale its song, and every inferior creature its distinctive instincts, by 
nature, and all in perfection. But we do not suppose that the bee, in forming 
its hexagonal cells, knows anything of geometry or understands the nature 
of angles. And when the Chairman was speaking of those wonderful powers 
exhibited by the insect creation, he was, in fact, really speaking of the 
greatness and power of the Deity who formed them, and gave them all those 
wonderful instincts which they possess, but which they exercise without 
understanding: — the skill which they exhibit being rather — like an instrument 
that is played upon by a skilful hand — an exhibition of the skill of the Great 
Invisible performer who gave them all their instincts. (Hear, hear.) When 
Dr. Gladstone reproved me (with a mild censure, I admit,) for calling names, 
as he termed it, he himself did the very thing for which he was blaming me ; 
for, while he thought proper to defend the Darwinian theory as possibly 
religious, he distinctly charged the polygenous theory with being irreligious. 
(Hear, hear.) Now my argument against that theory was chiefly this, that 
it involves an inconsistency in its theory of creation, if it assumes that some 
men were originally inferior to others, as if God would contradict himself by 
making a being which was not perfect. And surely there is nothing more 
shocking, nothing more revolting to one's ideas of what a human being 
ought to be, than a low, degraded savage ; there is nothing so utterly abject 
even among the brute creation. But then, although I frankly acknowledged 
the source whence we derive the theory I have advocated, and gave a state- 
ment in a general way of the facts relating to man's origin contained in the 
Bible ; still I have not supported it by a single argument to be derived from 
Scripture : I have taken the Bible merely as a historical book ; I have referred 
to it, as it were, merely as containing a part of our knowledge of the history 
of our race ; and my arguments have been rational appeals to nature through- 



out, and have been supported by such facts as those which have been so 
recently told us by Mr. Baker and Dr. Beke in the Ethnological Society, 
based upon their actual knowledge of the degeneration of the savage tribes 
of Africa. Taking such facts, and taking the traditions of all civilization, I 
must say I do not understand how the conclusions I have arrived at can be 
disputed. As to the tradition among some savages as to the origin of fire, 
to which Mr. Warington has alluded, my friend Dr. Irons has satisfactorily 
shown that that rather would tell in favour of my view ; but I think it will 
be found upon investigation, that among those low races this is one of the 
vaguest of traditions, and not even worthy- of the name of " poetry."* And 
when Mr. Warington argues that if we were derived from savages we would 
not tell it, I suppose he means that he would not do so : he has, in fact, said 
that he would not (hear, hear) ; but I can only tell him that this argument 
has been already repudiated in anticipation by the Darwinians. Professor 
Huxley almost glories in his ape-ancestry, and argues that to have risen 
from a monkey " is the best proof of the splendour of man's capacities." 
Perhaps his monkey progenitor ought rather to have this credit ; but I have 
never yet heard of a Darwinian who had such faith in his theory as to 
put his children under the tutorship of monkeys. (Laughter.) It is all very 
well for men to speculate about these things ; but when we come gravely to 
discuss a subject of this kind, we must deal with facts. I never meant 
in my paper to deny that there are different phases of civilization, or that 
there may be an advance from one degree of civilization to another. I care- 
fully guarded against that, though I could not dwell upon that branch of 
the subject at any length. I was, of course, obliged to leave out a great deal, 
and I have, indeed, felt as if I had only dealt with one ninety-ninth part 
of the whole question. But I have discussed this subject before ; and 

* Mr. Warington has quoted Mr. E. B. Tylor on this point ; and, in en- 
deavouring to find the passages he may have had in mind, I have come upon 
the following remarks of Mr. Tylor, bearing upon my general argument. 
Speaking of " the native Australian and the Andaman Islander, as fairly 
representing the lowest state of human society of which we have any certain 
knowledge/' Mr. Tylor says : — " These savages have articulate language ; 
they know the use of fire ; they have tools, though but simple and clumsy 
ones. There is no authentic account" he adds, " of any people having been 
discovered who did not possess language, tools, and fire." He concludes the 
interesting paper from which this is quoted in the following words : — " The 
' original men,' as the poet- describes them, roaming, ' a dumb and miserable 
herd,' about the woods, do not exist on the earth. The inquirer who seeks to 
find out the beginnings of man's civilization must deduce general principles 
by reasoning downwards, from the civilized European to the savage, and then 
descend to still lower possible levels of human existence? These citations are 
taken from an article in the Anthropological Review (vol. I. p. 21, et seq.), on 
" Wild Men and Beast-Children," well worthy of consideration with refer- 
ence to this whole question. For (as I once remarked in previously dis- 
cussing this subject), " the few questionable instances of ' beast-children,' as 
they are called, if they prove anything, only prove that if not rescued from 
association with beasts, the offspring even of men might soon sink into some- 
thing scarcely better than brutes." (Anthrop. Rev., vol. II. p. cxxi.) 


in doing so, I especially noticed what I believe is the nearest approach 
to a rise, — I cannot quite say from savagery, — but from a lower to a 
higher state of civilization, of which we have any knowledge. I am 
glad that Mr. Warington's objection has given me an opportunity of 
referring to this case now, which I was reluctantly forced to exclude from 
my paper. I allude to the Sikhs, who have risen to a state of civilization, 
and attained an elevation of character, far superior to the rest of the Hindoos 
from whom they were originally derived. Now the Sikhs might be described 
as originally a sect of Indian iconoclasts, who through the influence of Nanaka 
threw off the superstitious worship of idols, to which they were accustomed, 
for the worship of the invisible and only God. And, it is remarkable, the 
consequence has been precisely similar to what Mr. Baker found among the 
African Christians ; namely, that we have a race very superior even in 
their physical appearance, and with features corresponding with, or at least 
closely approximating to, the European type. Then again we have the natives 
of Cashmere, with a striking resemblance to Europeans in their features. And 
to what, let me ask, is their superiority over the tribes which surround them 
to be traced ? Well, they are Mahometans ; and Mahometanism, with all 
its faults, has this grand feature, in common with Judaism and Christianity, — 
it teaches men to look up to heaven for Deity, and away from idols as gods. 
And I would venture to argue, that the essential or fundamental principle of 
all civilization is not fire, as Mr. Warington seemed to think, but a true 
notion of Deity — of the invisible God. Wherever a people possess that, they 
have that in them which is the seed of progress and elevation ; and when they 
reject it and make their own gods, they are on the downward path of degra- 
dation. To turn to another point, — the perfection of the animal creation is 
the foundation of one of my arguments, and it is a perfectly natural and rational 
one, and not merely derived from Scripture. I could not, however, afford 
time to do more than allude to this, and I am glad the Chairman dwelt some- 
what upon it in his remarks. All other animals being made perfect, there 
seems to be no reason why there should have been a difference between them 
and man. I do not think there was anything else advanced which remains 
unanswered, and at this late hour, I will not trouble the meeting with any 
further observations. 

The Cjiairman then announced the adjournment of the meetings of the 
Society until November next, and expressed a hope that they would all meet 
again at the opening of the next session, which he trusted would be as success- 
ful as that just closed. 


NOTE. (See p. 181.) 


It will be observed that portions of the forgoing paper, On the various 
Theories of Man's Past and Present Condition, are inclosed within brackets. 
I beg leave to explain that the other portions of the paper were read by me 
before Section E of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 
at Nottingham, on the 25th of August, 1866 ; on which occasion the passages 
bracketed were omitted. 

I may observe that it is not unusual to read papers before the British Asso- 
ciation which have been previously read in scientific societies, provided they 
have not been published previously ; and, having taken with me to Nottingham 
a single copy of this paper, in proof, I showed it to Mr. Crawfurd, the presi- 
dent of the Ethnological Society, and one of the vice-presidents of the Section, 
stating briefly its purport, and said that I should be glad to read it if approved. 
He at once most frankly took charge of the paper, to lay it before the com- 
mittee of the Section in the usual manner ; and h$ afterwards told me it 
would be read, but would require (as I quite expected) to be cut down con- 
siderably, in order to bring it within the limit of time that alone could be 
spared for a single paper among so many others^ I therefore bracketed-off such 
passages as were least essential to my main thesis, and especially those, it will 
be seen, that relate to the cognate discussion which had taken pfifcce in the 
same Section, at Birmingham, in 1865, and was continued in the Ethnological 
Journal shortly afterwards. I was also, I regret, obliged to omit the conclu- 
ding portion of my paper, relating to the advancement of mankind and the 
progress of civilization, through the influence of Christianity ; as, to have 
touched upon that, would have opened up quite another branch of the same 
large question. But I beg to say, that the decision as to what I should 
omit, as well as what I should read, was left entirely to myself — not even a 
hint of any kind whatever having been given to me on the subject. I say 
this in justice to the committee of Section E, which was most ably and 
courteously presided over by Sir Charles Nicholson ; and I do so more 
especially, in order to remove certain misapprehensions which appear to have 
been entertained in some portions of the press, as to the reading of this 
paper before the British Association — partly attributable, no doubt, to the 
remarks which Professor Huxley was pleased to make, on being invited to 
discuss it by the president. 

I may observe, for the information of those who are unacquainted with 
the doings of what has been called " our great scientific congress," that the 
meetings in Section E, combining Geography and Ethnology, are usually by 
far the most numerously attended, and that that Section has consequently 
always the largest room assigned to it for its meetings. This was the case 
at Nottingham ; and I confess that, for various reasons, I felt a desire to be 


able to bring forward some of the arguments I had so recently urged in the 
Victoria Institute, against the notion that the primitive man could possibly 
have been a speechless savage, before the largest possible audience that could 
be hoped for in the Sections of the British Association. I may also add 
that, while no discussion follows the introductory A ddrezz delivered by the 
president of the Association or the evening Lectures that are given every year, 
all the papers read in the several Sections are open to discussion, and are 
usually discussed, although unfortunately there is no systematic or official 
report of the discussions that take place. The newspapers to a certain extent 
supply this defect ; but it will be obvious that, when so much has to be 
recorded, their reports, as a rule, must be very imperfect. 

I have much pleasure in stating that when my paper was read at Notting- 
ham, it was as well received by the audience generally, as it had been 
previously when read in the Victoria Institute. 

I shall now give some account of the discussion that followed, partly 
taken from the newspaper reports (in which case I shall employ quotation- 
marks), and otherwise upon my own responsibility as to accuracy. Professor 
Huxley's observations I am glad to be able to give, I think very nearly 
verbatim, from the Nottingham Daily Guardian, viz. : — 

" Professor Huxley, who was invited by the president to offer some re- 
marks on the paper which had just beeu read, said :— I should be delighted 
in my private capacity to obey any of your behests, but, on the present 
occasion, I am unfortunately not in my primitive or personal insignificance, 
but the representative of a department of the Association, and one of the 
officers of the Association charged with the administration of a Section. 
It has, in the wisdom of the council of the Association, been thought proper 
that a department should be instituted in Section D, of which I have the 
honour to be the head. It is called the Department of Anthropology ; and if 
I have any comprehension of scientific method or arrangement, the paper we 
have just heard read is purely an anthropological paper, and can only be 
competently discussed by those persons who are familiar with all the sciences 
necessary for the student of anthropology. Under these circumstances, there- 
fore, I should, by beginning to discuss this paper, admit the propriety of its 
being read here, and that in my official capacity I cannot do. I may, perhaps, 
be allowed to remark that in our department we have a wholesome practice 
called ' referring a paper.' When a paper is sent to us we ' refer ' it, in order 
to ascertain whether it contains anything new, anything true, or anything 
worth discussing ; in a word, whether the paper should be read or whether 
it should not. But though I think this is a paper for our section, I do not 
pledge myself that it would have passed the particular ordeal which I have 
described. (Laughter.)" 

Mr. Nash, as secretary of the Ethnological Society, and one of the secre- 
taries of Section E, " protested against the views of Professor Huxley, and 
defended the reading of the paper in this section, inasmuch as it is not 
only a Geographical, but an Ethnological Section ; " and he added that the 
Ethnological Society had never admitted that their science precluded them 
from the consideration of all the facts that bear upon man's past and 
present condition, such as those which had been brought forward in this paper. 


Sir John Lubbock said, he must also differ from his friend Professor 
Huxley ; but with reference to the ingenious paper which had been read, 
" he objected to the term ' religious theory,' because it implied that all 
other theories must be anti-religious. Now, for his part (without professing 
to be more orthodox than he was), he believed that religion and science were 
not opposed one to the other. He did not think Mr. Reddie really com- 
prehended the Darwinian theory. He was an humble disciple of Mr. 
Darwin's, and he ventured to claim for that gentleman's theory, that it was the 
only one which accounted in any way for the origin of man ; for all the other 
theories were, in his judgment, no theories at all, but simply confessions of 
ignorance, and did not convey those definite ideas to the mind which were 
conveyed by the theory of Mr. Darwin." 

" Mr. Crawftjrd was of opinion that the terms ' anthropology ' and * ethno- 
logy ' were synonymous, or nearly so. For his own part he could not believe 
one word of Darwin's theory. He was sorry for that, because it was believed 
in by so many men of eminence. It was a surprising thing to him that men 
of talent should nail themselves to such a belief. (Hear, hear.) Man, it 
was said, was derived from a monkey. From what monkey 1 (Laughter.) 
There were two hundred or three hundred kinds of monkeys, and the biggest 
monkey, viz., the gorilla, was the biggest brute. (Laughter.) Then there 
were monkeys with tails and monkeys without tails, but curiously enough 
those which had no tails, and were consequently the most like man, were 
the stupidest of all. (Laughter.) People were at a loss to know how the 
universe was created, and that, no doubt, was a difficult subject. Mr. 
Reddie, however, seemed to invert the order of nature, for all the history of 
man showed that he was progressive. Our ancestors were barbarians, and it 
was the same with every other race." 

Mr. Carter Blake said he should wish to be informed what traditions 
among savages Mr. Reddie referred to, as relating to their previous higher con- 
dition ; and where such traditions are to be found recorded. 

Mr. Fellows also briefly addressed the meeting, but his observations 
were of a general kind (not, however, adverse to the paper), and I regret 
they have not been reported, so far as I am aware. 

In reply to Professor Huxley's remarks, so far as they related to the pro- 
priety of my paper being read in Section E, I contented myself— as Professor 
Huxley had then left the room — with referring to the complete answer he had 
received from Mr. Nash. His observations were, besides, rather a reflection upon 
the Committee of the Section, and it is not forme to say whether they were in 
the best taste or not. They were received with " laughter," no doubt, but also 
with adverse murmurs in the Section. For myself, I was not placed on the 
committee till after my paper had been accepted, but I am not aware that 
Professor Huxley had any grounds whatever for affecting to suppose that my 
paper had not been "referred " (as I do know that other papers were), in 
Section E, before being read. Anyhow, the paper, upon being read, was ex- 
tremely well received, and was also more fully reported in the newspapers, 
with one or two exceptions, than perhaps any other ordinary paper read at 
the meetings. As it is now printed and published along with Professor 
Huxley's remarks as to its character, the public generally will be able to form 
their own judgment of it, and will further know (if I gather the Professor's 


meaning aright), that had it gone before his Section he would have en- 
deavoured to suppress it. I am glad that in Section E, a more liberal spirit 
was exhibited and my paper allowed to be read. I do not deny that it 
might quite properly be called an "Anthropological Paper," though now 
(knowing what its probable fate would have been), I am very glad I 
had declined to offer it to the Anthropological Department of Section P. 
There are, however, special reasons for saying that the paper was most 
properly read in Section E. In the first place, it will be observed, that 
the physiologists and naturalists being at issue about Darwinism, the 
arguments advanced in the paper are chiefly based upon historical and 
ethnological evidences. At the very next meeting of the same Section a 
most interesting account was given by Mr. Thomson of the recent dis- 
coveries in Cambodia (in Siam), of the ruins of magnificent and gigantic 
temples, so . far beyond the capabilities of the present inhabitants or their 
immediate forefathers for many generations to accomplish, that their tradition 
is that these ancient buildings must have been constructed by a superior 
race of beings altogether, — or " the gods." Of their great antiquity there 
can be no doubt ; the style of architecture is intermediate between that of 
Egypt and Greece ; and there is now a dense forest interposed between the 
buildings and the rocks whence the stone used in their construction is sup- 
posed to have been procured. Dr. Mann, also, on the same day and in the 
same Section, narrated his experiences relating to the attempts which have 
been made to educate and civilize the Kaffirs and Zulus ; and on the follow- 
ing day Sir Samuel Baker recounted some of his recent most interesting 
adventures among the negroes of the White Nile Basin, and especially dis- 
cussed their savage condition, and their tendency to continue savage and 
degenerate. The only instance which he mentioned of anything somewhat 
better to be found among them, he attributed to the influence of the Arabs 
with whom they had had communications. Professor Huxley was present, 
too, when that paper was read, and he even spoke upon it ; though I cannot 
say he discussed it, for he only referred to one or two of the facts mentioned 
by Sir Samuel Baker, which did not bear upon " the question of questions 
for mankind." Having referred in my paper (p. 195) to Sir Samuel Baker's 
statements made in the Ethnological Society, merely as I had seen them re- 
ported in the newspapers, it was a great gratification to me to hear them 
myself, repeated in the crowded meeting in Section E, where my own paper 
had been previously read, and to hear not a word from him that was not 
entirely confirmatory of the views which I had expressed. The account of 
the ruins of Cambodia was also a fresh illustration in support of one branch 
of my arguments ; and I think, now, it will be seen that it was most fitting 
that arguments based upon our knowledge of such archaeological and ethno- 
logical facts should have been advanced in the same section of the British 
Association, where fresh evidence and additional facts of the very same kind 
are constantly brought forward. 

To revert to the discussion upon my paper. J scarcely required to answer 
Sir John Lubbock's objection to the term " religious theory," as it had met 


with a pretty general expression of dissent in the meeting. If people would 
only consider, that for thousands of years no one ever thought that anything 
like " development," or Darwinism, was taught in Genesis, they would surely 
refrain from the vain endeavour to import that meaning now into the old 
Mosaic narrative, — into the language of a book (to quote Mr. Warington's 
words*) " written in plain and simple style, which has been in the hands of 
theologians complete for nigh 1,800 years, and on which they have bestowed 
unremitting study ; where no new facts can ever be rising up to disconcert 
past conclusions ; and where, therefore, if anywhere, unanimity would seem 
to be inevitable, and diversity of opinion most inexplicable and criminal." 

As regards the charge of not understanding Darwinism, I replied by citing 
Professor Carl Vogt, who, as a physiologist, is just as eminent on the Continent 
as Professor Huxley is in England, and who, as a Darwinian, differs totally 
from the latter. I was somewhat surprised that a debater so clear-headed 
and courteous as Sir John Lubbock, should have cared to repeat what is now 
a mere hackneyed charge against all who oppose Darwinism. When the 
Darwinians are themselves agreed about the theory it might be time enough 
to expect objectors to " understand it." But Sir John Lubbock surely over- 
looks the drift of my argument altogether, when he makes that reply, even 
were he right in his assertion. My main argument in the present paper, he 
might see, does not require me to understand Darwinism. It is a reductio 
ad absurdum, assuming the possibility of the theory, and not questioning in 
detail its processes. Of course, I do not believe that even a monkey, and still 
less a man, could be developed in the Darwinian way. But granting that we 
have got the imaginary " speechless man," or the real " low-caste savage/' to 
begin with, then, I say, you cannot even then, with such a beginning, get the 
world as it is, or arrive at the civilized man. All our experience is against 
this. All the facts we know are contrary to it ; and, if so, it is not possibly 
true, and it is irrational to believe it. It is not only not " science," but it is con- 
trary to all we really do know. I have no doubt that Darwinism can be and 
will be (if it has not already been) refuted at other stages. I do not think it 
has established even a single step of its almost infinite assumptions. But be 
that as it may, — and raising no primary objections, — I have maintained that 
it must stop at man ; because, as I have proved, civilization has not, and can- 
not be, developed out t)f savagery. Everybody knows that it is only when 
Darwinism comes to be applied to man, that its conclusions ostensibly clash 
with " time-honoured traditions," and what Professor Huxley calls "strongly- 
rooted prejudices." I have therefore met it at that point. 

With respect to Mr. Crawford's observations, I am bound to notice, that 
besides what he is above reported to have said, he also disclaimed being a 
polygenist (very much to my surprise), though it will be seen he still thinks 
mankind have advanced from an originally savage condition. But his refer- 
ence to our ancestors having been barbarians, is nothing against my argument. 
I have not denied the possibility of a rise from a " barbarous " to a "civilized" 
condition, using the words strictly, but a rise from utter " savagery.*' But 

* Journal of Transactions of the Victoria Institute, vol. i., p. 101. 


so far as I know, even barbarians have not, as a rule, civilized themselves, but 
they have either had civilization brought to them, or they have gone to it. 
Our barbarian ancestors had civilization brought to them by the Romans, 
while Rome itself was invaded by barbarians. But there are various degrees 
of " barbarism " running upwards and into civilization, as well as various 
phases of the latter running downwards into barbarism. But the utterly 
" savage " condition is perfectly distinct from both. No one knows that 
better than Mr. Crawfurd. Therje were two passages in my paper among 
those bracketed-off as unread at Nottingham, which, however, I did read ; 
namely, the quotation on page 192 (from line 12 to the end of the paragraph), 
the author of which (as I suspected) was discovered upon reading it to be 
Mr. Crawfurd himself. The other was the quotation from Professor Rawlin- 
son at the top of page 193 ; and taking it in connection with what I say in 
the latter part of my paper (p. 197), I think we have the real key to all Mr. 
Crawfurd's difficulties about human progress and the spread of civilization. 

I am glad that Mr. Carter Blake asked the question he did, relating to 
savage traditions, as it gave me an opportunity of removing an evident mis- 
conception on this point, for which I am probably to blame. I by no means 
meant to say that the savages had definite traditions of their own descent 
from a superior ancestry. To say truth, I should not have regarded such 
traditions as of much value, coming from such a quarter. What I rely upon 
is better evidence, as being unintentional and quite incidental I appeal to 
their traditional stories and songs, extravagant though they be, as proofs that 
their authors were superior to those who can only now repeat them, without 
-even professing to understand them. In doing this, I had chiefly in mind 
what I had heard stated in the Anthropological Society, or read in the 
Journal of that Society, which is edited by Mr. Carter Blake himself, — and 
especially an interesting memoir by Mr. Pritchard, relating to the Viti 
Islanders ; while I may add that I have heard Dr. Seemann, a vice-president 
of the Anthropological Society, say, on more than one occasion, that among 
all savage tribes their oldest traditions are almost always mixed up with some 
references " to trees and serpents and to woman," as I have stated on p. 193* 
To give further authorities as to the character of savage traditions, — their 
frequent resemblance to one another, and their superiority to anything the 
savages who now repeat them could themselves originate, — would require a 
reference to almost every work on ethnology. 

Mr. Pritchard's interesting Paper {On Viti and its Inhabitants) will be 
found in the Memoirs of the Anthropological Society (p. 195, et seq.), When 
it was read the following remarks were made upon it, which I reproduce, as 
bearing upon the present discussion : — 

" Dr. Seemann said he considered the paper they had heard was one of the 
most important that had been communicated to the Society, and he was able, 
from personal acquaintance with the island, to corroborate many of Mr. 
Pritchard's statements. A great many things connected with the inhabitants 
of the Fiji islands had only appeared to him in their true light since he^ 
arrived in England. For instance, the Andaman islanders showed that in 




many particulars they are similar to the Fijians. The first account of the 
Andaman islanders was that given in ' Sinbad the Sailor/ which narrative, 
though generally regarded only as a fiction, contained many correct state- 
ments. The Andaman canoes were similar to those used by the Fijians, 
especially in the outrigger. Dr. Seemann remarked? on the curious legends 
of the islanders, of which Mr. Pritchard had given an account, especially 
those relating to their own origin. It was interesting to notice that, in so 
many legends, the original progenitors of man were placed under or near 
sacred trees. It was a curious circumstance that, in these legendary cosmo- 
gonies, there was always a serpent, in which symbol he considered there was 
a deep meaning. The supreme god of Fiji (Degei) had the shape of a serpent. 

" Mr. Rbddib observed that the traditions of these islanders were very 
remarkable, and he considered it extraordinary that the people should be able 
to preserve them and repeat them to travellers. Such a preservation of our 
Christian legends could not be expected even in London among the common 
people. As to the frequent occurrence of the serpent in those legends, it was 
a very curious fact. ... In the constellations of the heavens, which had been 
traced to the most ancient peoples on the face of the earth, the serpent was 
one of the most common emblems, and was to be found in several parts of 
both hemispheres of the celestial globe. It was interesting to find also the same 
symbols conspicuous among the legends of the inhabitants of the Fiji islands, 
and it appeared they had a common ancient origin. Such beautiful traditions 
could not be inventions of the present Fijians. Even in civilized London, not 
one out of ten would be capable of inventing such beautiful stories. The 
question" was, whether they were not traditions of a people superior to those 
who now inhabited those islands, thus showing that the present inhabitants 
had deteriorated. The invention of such legends, in more ancient times, at all 
events tended to prove that their inventors must have been greatly superior 
to improved baboons. It would be interesting to know something of the 
dresent literary qualifications jof the people, and how far such traditions are 
retained among the inhabitants generally. 

" Mr. Pritchard in reply said : — As to the date of the traditions, there 
can be no doubt of their antiquity. Different natives, without the possibility 
of collusion, narrate the same traditions in almost the same words. The mis- 
sionaries discountenance the old traditions, and also any new stories. It is 
not easy to collect these traditions from the inhabitants, for it is necessary to 
be master of the language to do so, and those who are not thoroughly ac- 
quainted with it sometimes are imposed on, especially by runaway sailors, 
who know the language very imperfectly, and invent strange stories, which 
they represent to have heard from the natives. To learn their legends and 
traditions correctly, it is necessary to live amongst the natives, as he had done ; 
and, to gain an influence over tne native mind, it is necessary to learn their 
mode of reasoning when certain data are placed before them."* 

* Anthropological Review, vol. III. pp. xii — xiv. 



ORDINARY MEETING, Nov. 19, 1866. 
The Rev. Walter Mitchell, Vice-President, in the Chair. 

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed ; and the 
names of the following Foundation Members and Associates were announced 
as having been elected since last Ordinary Meeting : — 

Members : — The Right Honourable the Earl of Carnarvon, 66, Lower 
Grosvenor Street, W. ; Richard Edward Arden, Esq., Barrister-at-Law, 
J.P., and Dep.-Lieut. for Middlesex, F.G.S., F.R.G.S., Fell Acclim. 
and OrnithoL Socs., M.R.I., Sunbury Park, Middlesex ; William 
Barrington, Esq., C.E., 51, George Street, Limerick, and Ballywilliam 
Cottage, Rathkeale ; Amos Beardsley, Esq., F.L.S., F.G.S., Surgeon, &c, 
the Grange, Newton-in-Cartinel ; Henry Beckett, Esq., F.G.S., Mining 
Engineer, &c. &c, Penover, near Wolverhampton ; Henry Butler, Esq., 
H. M. Civ. Serv., Bexley House, Blackheath, S.E. ; Rev. Charles Campe, 
Minister of Christ Chapel, 14, North wick Terrace, Maida Hill, N.W. ; 
T. B. Chester, Esq., B.C.L., Solicitor, 24, The Grove, Hammer- 
smith, W. ; Henry G. Heald, Esq., 9, County Terrace, Camberwell, S. ; 
Elkanah Healey, Esq., Oakfield, Gateacre, Liverpool ; Rev. John Kirk, 
Professor of Practical Theology in the Evangelical Union Academy at 
Glasgow, 17, Greenhill Gardens, Edinburgh ; Rev. W. Leask, D.D., 
Newington Green, N. ; Rev. R. T. Lowe, M.A., Cantab., Member of 
the Lisbon Academy of Sciences, Corresponding Member Z.S.L., Lea 
Rectory, Gainsborough ; George Lowe, Esq., C.E., F.R.S., F.G.S., &c. &c, 
9, St. John's Wood Park, N.W. ; William Macdonald, Esq., M.D., 
F.R.S.E., F.L.S., F.G.S., Fellow of Royal College of Physicians, Edin- 
burgh, Professor of Civil and Natural History, St. Andrews ; Patrick 
M'Farlane; Esq., Comrie, Perthshire ; John Patton, junr., Esq., Ship- 
owner, 11, Pembury Road, Clapton, N.E. ; Thos. Prothero, Esq., 
F.S.A., M.R.I., Barrister-at-Law, 36, Queen's Gardens, Hyde Park, W. ; 
Charles Ratcliff, Esq., Wyddrington, Edgbaston, Birmingham; Rev. S. 
D. Waddy, D.D., 3, Chester Place, Kennington Cross, S. ; John Hewitt 
Wheatley, Esq., Abbey View, Sligo ; Edward Whitwell, Esq., Bank 
Field, Kendal, Westmoreland ; Thomas Vernon Wollaston, Esq., M. A., 
F.L.S., &c. &c, 1, Barnepark Terrace, Teignmouth. 

Associates, 1st Class :— Mr. D. R. Davies, 5, Cardiff Street, Aberdare ; 
2nd Class :— A. K. Bickford, Esq., Lieut. R.N., H.M.S. Be8wrch f 



Channel Squadron ; Thomas Ensor, Esq., Merchant, Milborne Port, 
Somerset ; W. A. Nunes, Esq., Her Majesty's Civil Service, 2, Hanover 
Villas, Brook Green, W. 

It was also announced that the following books and pamphlets had been 
presented to the Society : — 

Ti-Ping Tien-Kwoh : The History of the TirPing Revolution, including the 
Author's adventures. By Lin-Le. Two Vols. 

From Messrs. Wyman & Sons. 

Modern Geology Exposed. By Patrick M'Farlane, Esq., M.V.I. 

From the Author. 

The First Man, and his Place in Creation. By George Moore, Esq., M.D. 

From the Author. 

The Flint Implements from the Drift not Authentic. By Nicholas Whitley,Esq. 

From the Author. 

The Chairman. — I must apologize for the extemporary character of the 
few remarks I am about to make. Until this afternoon, I thought I should 
only have had to commence our business by calling upon Professor Young 
to read his paper. It has, however, been suggested to me that on the 
present occasion it may be expected that I should give a short introductory 
address : — 

Ladies and Gentlemen, — At this opening meeting of our 
second session, I cannot help congratulating the society on 
the progress it has made since its public inauguration only 
six months ago. That progress is a proof that there are not 
a few persons of educated minds and of varied pursuits, who 
are ready not only to declare that a man can be a believer in 
Divine Revelation, and at the same time maintain that the 
Author of that Revelation is the Author of all truth, of all know- 
ledge, and of all that constitutes sound science ; but who are 
also willing to evince the sincerity of their convictions by 
openly co-operating as members and associates of this Institute, 
in order that the pretensions of all contrary science may be 
thoroughly and impartially investigated, and that truth may 
be elicited and established. 

Since we last met, the British Association, called by some 
the Parliament of Science for Great Britain, has held its 
annual session. It was opened by an eloquent address by a 
very distinguished cultivator of science. I cannot but regret 
the tone of that address — a tone which seems to imply that 
a calm inquiry after truth can only be undertaken by such as 
ignore those truths which we believe the Creator has specially 
revealed to His creature, man ; — which assumes that a belief in 


the miraculous, if not quite inconsistent with philosophy, is 
at least to be restricted within the narrowest limits, and that 
as any special act of creation is a miracle, it is expedient to 
reduce creation, if possible, to the smallest possible number of 
acts ; — and which ends by concluding, that what elsewhere has 
been termed the chain of endless causation, is merely a law of 
" continuity," which, if not infinite, has no definite beginning 
that can be traced even to one special act of creation ! This is 
a tone of thought, as I conceive, only suited to those who 
wish to evade all acknowledgment of a final cause, or the 
design of an intelligent and omnipotent Creator, and not to 
such as are satisfied that the Creator has revealed to man, that 
" by His word were all things created that are in heaven, and 
that are in earth, visible and invisible." It cannot be palat- 
able to those who believe that there were consecutive acts of 
creation, in which God said " Let there be," and there was, — 
that plants and animals were created in a perfect state, (so 
that God could behold His works and pronounce them very 
good,) and not imperfect works, left to perfect themselves by 
accidental " laws " of natural selection and emendation, carried 
on through aeons of ages. 

To show that I am not misinterpreting the tone of Mr. 
Grove's address, I will quote from it some few passages : — 

" To suppose a zoophyte the progenitor of a mammal, or to suppose at 
some particular period of time a highly developed animal to have come out of 
nothing, or suddenly grown out of inorganic matter, would appear at first 
sight equally extravagant hypotheses. As an effort of Almighty creative 
power, neither of these alternatives presents more difficulty than the other ; 
but as we have no means of ascertaining how creative power worked, hut by 
an examination and study of the works themselves, we are not likely to get 
either side proved to ocular demonstration." 

Now, does not this passage ignore the revelation that God 
has made to us, that He did act in a manner which is here de- 
signated as an apparently extravagant hypothesis ? and allege 
that in a matter where we cannot have demonstration, the 
same kind of faith by which we arrive at so many truths, even 
of science, which do not admit of ocular demonstration, cannot 
lead us up to a rational, that is not an extravagant, hypothesis f 

I will quote another passage :— 

" The more the gaps between species are filled up by the discovery of inter- 
mediate varieties, the stronger becomes the argument for transmutation, and 
the weaker that for successive creations, because the former view then 
becomes more and more consistent with experience, the latter more discordant 



fyrim it. As undoubted cases of variation, more or less permanent, from 
given characteristics, are produced by the effects of climate, food, domestica- 
tion, &c, the more species are increased by intercalation, the more the dis- 
tinctions slide down towards those which are within the limits of such 
observed deviations ; while on the other hand, to suppose the more and more- 
frequent recurrence of fresh creations out of amorphous matter, is a 
multiplication of miracles or special interventions not in accordance with 
what we see of the uniform and gradual progress of nature, either in 
the organic or inorganic world. If we were entitled to conclude that 
the progress of discovery would continue in the same course, and that species 
would become indefinitely multiplied, the distinctions would become 
infinitely minute, and all lines of demarcation would cease, the polygon would 
become a circle, the succession of plants a line. Certain it is, the more we 
observe, the more we increase the subdivision of species, and consequently the 
number of these supposed creations ; so that new creations become innumerable, 
and yet of these we have no one well authenticated instance, and in no other 
observed operation of nature have we seen this want of continuity, these 
frequent per saltum deviations from uniformity, each of which is a miracle" 

There is not a word of this argument which does not apply 
as much to a number of simultaneous or consecutive creations 
of vegetable or animal living organisms, out of what Mr. Grove 
calls amorphous matter (why amorphous I know not), as to 
the theory of successive creations in periods of time widely 
apart. Nay, if the argument be taken rigidly and logically, 
it militates equally against any single act of creation, which 
must be as miraculous as a thousand, whether simultaneous or 
successive creations. 

In words Mr. Grove professed that he was not " going to 
put forth any theory of his own, or to argue in support of any 
special theory ; " but I maintain that making his choice 
between two at first sight, as he terms them, equally extrava- 
gant hypotheses, — whether we are " to suppose a zoophyte the 
progenitor of a mammal, or to suppose at some particular 
period of time a highly developed animal to have come out of 
nothing, or suddenly grown out of inorganic matter," — he 
ignored the latter, (which I believe to be a truth revealed by 
God to man,) and argued with all the art and dialectic skill of 
a practised advocate in favour of the former. 

. To test his reasoning and conclusions, I willingly assent to 
a proposition laid down by Mr. Grove himself, namely: — 
" Does the newly proposed view (hypothesis ?) remove more 
difficulties, require fewer assumptions, and present more 
consistency with observed facts, than that which it seeks to 
supersede ? " 

- I am prepared to maintain that the hypothesis Mr. Grove 


rejects — the hypothesis put forth in a book which many, nay, I 
believe a large majority of sound-thinking men, consider a 
Divine Revelation, — is more consistent with observed facts, 
removes more difficulties and requires fewer assumptions, than 
that which he endeavoured to enforce, with all his skill, on 
his auditors at the meeting of the British Association. 

Not only do I believe this, but by the same laws of thought 
by which I am compelled to accept those axioms which I 
acknowledge as scientific truths, or rather as the bases upon 
which the sciences are built, — I feel constrained to believe 
that all things, whether organic or inorganic, with which my 
senses make me conversant, were the works of a Divine Creator. 

Mathematical axioms are not the only self-evident truths, 
or, if not self-evident, truths which must, nevertheless, be accepted 
without demonstration, before we can raise the structure of any 
science* Before we make any progress in science, whether 
abstract or applied, we must lay the foundations of our science 
on axioms. The man who will not admit these puts himself 
beyond the pale of science. The man who tells me that he 
cannot believe that " the whole is greater than the part," or 
" that things which are equal to the same are equal to one 
another," cannot step over the very threshold of geometry. 
Nor are these axioms confined to self-evident truths. Even in 
the abstract science of geometry, the eleventh axiom of the 
first book of Euclid is an undemonstrable proposition, as 
difficult to be received as any proposition for which Euclid has 
produced a demonstration. 

If I were required to show what claims pure science makes 
on man's capacity for faith, I might refer you to the algebraist 
who says that any thingmultiplied bynothing is nothing, but that 
anything divided by nothing is infinite, while nothing divided 
by nothing may be something ! If not satisfied by these calls 
on his faith, I might go a step further, and mystify him with 
the astounding metaphysical assumptions required by the 
differential and integral calculus. When, however, we take a 
stride from the abstract sciences to the concrete or applied 
ones, what do we meet with ! The same foundation on 
axiomatic truths. Are not the three laws of motion axioms 
on which the whole structure of astronomical and dynamical 
science rest? These axioms apply to the motion of physical, 
tangible matter, yet an experimental, a true convincing 
experimental demonstration of any one of these three laws 
cannot be given. They are deduced from a vast crowd of 
facts, by making some special deduction, or excepting some 
particular phenomenon from each experimental fact. They 
are then added to the science of abstract mathematics, as 


unfolded by the differential and integral calculus, or their 
representative calculi, and the final convincing proof of the 
truth of these laws of motion, and the propositions of the 
calculus, which defy even the power of the most metaphysical 
of minis thoroughly or satisfactorily to comprehend, is founded 
on the agreement of profound mathematical analysis, and of 
calculation founded on these axioms, with the observed 

Ehenomena of the movements of the planets and their satel- 
tes. But are there no axioms but those of abstract mathematics 
and applied dynamical science which force themselves on the 
acceptance of thinking minds ? I think there are. Ay ; and I 
believe they force themselves for acceptance, even with greater 
power than these. 

I would fearlessly maintain that all the works of creation 
carry with them a proof that they are works of design, that 
they are the product of an intelligent mind ; and that every 
rightly constituted mind, freely and without prejudice examin- 
ing these works, must admit that they indicate that they were 
framed, are preserved, and continued, by the design of an 
all- wise as well as intelligent mind ; and that the. admission of 
this requires no higher, if so high, a call on man's credulity, 
imagination or reason than those axioms on which every 
boasted science of man's construction is reared. 

He who can read no evidence of design in the marvellous 
structure of the eye and its adaptation to those laws of light, 
which certainly were no active agents in forming that eye in 
the dark recesses of the womb — where its marvellous structure 
was reared — can certainly make no rational progress in the 
realms of pure or applied science. He who can see this marked 
design in the eye, may read evidence as cogent for it, in every 
animal or vegetable structure. Nay, he may go farther, and find 
that the most minute particle of dust, if thoroughly interro- 
gated, gives a proof to the rightly educated mind of design 
not less certain than the most marvellous structures of organic 
life, which are only more striking because more easily read. 

Among the discussions of men, reputed to be men of science, 
why do we find such vain efforts to hide or evade this evidence 
of design ? and to form the works of nature by some chain of 
endless causation, some law of continuity, which shall seem to 
evade its evidence? Design implies a designer, as creation 
implies a creator, and law a lawgiver. Why this effort to evade 
the evidence of design — why this attempt to exclude a creating 
power, or to confine its efforts — why this endeavour to make 
law convey the impression of independence of a lawgiver ? 

We may trace it everywhere, wherever it is exhibited, to a 
manifest impatience of all miracle and all mystery. And here 


I may remark, how in Mr. Grove's address, as elsewhere, 
miracle and mystery are confounded. Many things may be 
mysterious which are by no means miraculous, in the ordinary 
or generally received sense of the words. These terms are 
not to be confounded; our whole existence and everything 
around us teems with mystery. The power by which I now 
perceive you, the power by which I convey my thoughts to 
you at this moment, are mysteries which no human knowledge, 
no human inquisition, can thoroughly or satisfactorily explain 
or even penetrate. Take the commonest occurrences of nature. 
Consider the lilies, how they grow ; try to get at the bottom 
of this common occurrence ; though it is no miracle, it none 
the less leads you ultimately to that which is profoundly 

If the growth of things be a mystery, if the power of mind 
over matter be mysterious, if the communication of thought 
be also mysterious, if the power of investigating the laws 
which govern these things be still more mysterious, must not 
the origin of all these mysterious things be itself mysterious ? 
But there are things not only mysterious but even miraculous ; 
and creation is admitted to be in this sense miraculous as well 
as mysterious, — a miracle also, in that sense of the word in 
which it is used in Scripture — a miracle, because a sign, a 
token of God's own working. 

When the Bible tells me that God made all things, that He 
said and it was done, that He created the earth and the 
waters, that He commanded the earth to produce the herbs 
and plants, that He commanded the waters and the earth to 
bring forth all living animal creatures after their kinds, lastly, 
that He made man out of the dust of the earth, and breathed 
into his nostrils the breath of life, and caused him to become 
a living soul, and that after He had done all this by many 
successive fiats, He rested from the work of His creation ; I 
am content to believe all this. If it be called an apparently 
extravagant hypothesis, I ask, does it not present a greater 
consistency with observed facts— does it not require fewer 
assumptions, does it not remove more difficulties, than any 
other hypothesis ? I maintain, without fear, without shrinking, 
with every love for truth, with all boldness in investigating the 
regions of science, that it does. And therefore, on Mr. Grove's 
own canon, I claim for it the character of being the most 
rational and philosophical hypothesis. 

What proofs have I afforded me for the contrary hypothesis 
which Mr. Grove has laboured so assiduously to maintain? 
Where am I to look for my origin as a man, if I refuse to 
admit man's special creation ? I am called upon to trace my 


ancestry, not only through some series of improving apes, but 
even some myriads of ages back to some zoophyte ! Even 
here I am not to stop, but must conceive that this zoophyte 
attained its life by some accidental chemical combination of 
dead matter ! And, when I ask for the origin of this matter, 
I am not allowed to attribute even its formation to creation, 
but must wait till "philosophy" can discover some less myste- 
rious or non-miraculous origin for it ! Hence, at last of all, I 
am led back only to an unreasoning dislike of the miraculous 
and the mysterious. But will this extravagant, monstrous 
hypothesis, for which nothing like demonstration can be urged; 
this hypothesis, which, while it attempts to evade, does not 
account for one of the teeming mysteries by which we are 
surrounded, explain how life, that mysterious, undefinable 
thing, was communicated to the matter of the zoophyte? 
Matter cannot multiply or increase itself one single particle. 
Yet the hypothesis which would derive man or an elephant 
from the primeval zoophyte makes me maintain the mystery 
or the miracle, call it which you please, that the chance combi- 
nation of certain material elements produced a new power, the 
power of life, capable under certain circumstances of forcing 
matter to reproduce this form, ad infinitum. Nay, more than 
this, that one such combination was the commencement of all 
those marvellous structures, which evince so much design, 
without one particle of design being ever exerted by any 
intelligent agent ! Is this, or is it not, the more monstrous 
hypothesis ? Am I to be laughed out of my faith by ridicule, 
by a free translation of the Epicurean poet Lucretius ? 

" You have abandoned the belief in one primeval creation at one point of 
time ; you cannot assert that an elephant existed when the first saurians 
roamed over earth and water. Without, then, in any way limiting Almighty 
power, if an elephant were created without progenitors, the first elephant 
must, in some way or other, have physically arrived on this earth. Whence 
did he come ? did he fall from the sky, (i.e., from the interplanetary space) ? 
did he rise moulded out of a mass of amorphous earth or rock ? did he appear 
out of the cleft of a tree ? If he had no antecedent progenitors, some such 
beginning must be assigned to him." 

Though the point of this satire is levelled against those 
palaeontologists who, till lately, maintained a succession of 
widely separated creations, I may ask does not this free trans- 
lation, like the original, satirize every creative act ? Is it not 
as applicable to the creation of a zoophyte as to that of a 
mammal ? 

Can Mr. Grove prove that elephants were not co-existent 
with the first saurians that ever roamed over earth and water? 


Paleontologists have abandoned their theory, because now 
there is evidence that creatures supposed to be members of 
successive creations have been contemporary, and, in reality, 
members of the same creation. Is it not more consonant with 
the known facts of geology, that the elephant and saurians 
should have been co- existent, than to suppose the saurian 
transmuted by the "law of continuity" into an elephant? Where 
are we to look for the successive steps of this process, not 
only from the saurian upwards, but further back still, from 
the zoophyte ? We have now the admission that the records 
of geology, the records of the rocks and strata of the earth, 
afford no such evidence ; and since we may look in vain for 
the production of a mammal or saurian by the naked eye, we 
are taught to look for the first step in the creative process of 
life by the aid of the microscope ! 

"As we detect no such phenomenon as the creation or spontaneous 
generation of vegetables and animals which are large enough for the eye to 
see without instrumental assistance ; as we have long ceased to expect to find 
a Plesiosaurns spontaneously generated in our fishpond, or a Pterodactyle in 
our pheasant-cover, the field of this class of research has become iden- 
tified with the field of the microscope, and at each new phase the investi- 
gation has passed from a larger to a smaller class of organisms. The question 
whether among the smallest, and apparently the most elementary forms of 
organic life the phenomenon of spontaneous generation obtains, has recently 
formed the subject of careful experiment and animated discussion in France. 
If it could be found that organisms of a complex character were generated 
without progenitors out of amorphous matter, it might reasonably be argued 
that a similar mode of creation might obtain in regard to larger organisms. 
Although we see no such phenomenon as the formation of an animal such as 
an elephant, or a tree such as an oak, excepting from a parent which resem- 
bles it, yet if the microscope revealed to us organisms, smaller but equally 
complex, so formed without having been reproduced, it would render it not 
improbable that such might have been the case with larger organic beings." 

Yet, after all these sage remarks, Mr. Grove confesses that 
the balance of experiment and opinion is against the spon- 
taneous generation of even the simplest form of organism ! 

In vain do I look for the grand Baconian system of induc- 
tion, in arriving at the hypothesis which would substitute the 
spontaneous generation of a zoophyte, and the development 
of a zoophyte into an elephant, for the creation of the elephant 
at once by the fiat of the Almighty, perfect in form, and with 
every organ of its body, evidencing the wisdom of its designer, 
fit for the wants of the animal. I meet no array of facts inex- 
licable on any other hypothesis. No evidence of the com- 



mencement, no evidence of the successive steps of the process 
of transmutation. All these exist nowhere but in the fertile 
imagination of the coiners of such theories, based upon sup- 
position, and not upon facts. I venture to maintain that no 
so-called Aristotelians of the middle ages, no philosophers of 
any period where the inductive method was entirely dis- 
regarded, ever displayed a more mischievous instance of 
groundless hypothesis or hasty generalization, where imagina- 
tion has usurped the office of reason. 

For Mr. Grove to command our respect for his authority, on 
matters leading us up to the most transcendental parts of 
human knowledge, we should look at least for a display of 
sound philosophical induction, on those subjects with which his 
scientific pursuits have rendered him more familiar. Even here, 
however, I find his dread of the mysterious leading him beyond 
the limits of strict inductive sci ence. 

The belief in the elixir vit8D,inthe archaDus or stomach demon, 
and in the notion that amber possessed a soul, Mr. Grove classes 
as equal absurdities with the supposition " that a mysterious 
fluid could knock down a steeple." I find him also casting 
doubt on the existence of what he terms " so-called impon- 
derables." Yet I search in vain for some substitute for the 
" mysterious fluid," — so destructive and terrific, in the stroke 
of lightning, which undoubtedly has knocked down many a 
steeple — and for something to supply the place of the " so-called 
imponderables." I know of but two theories of light sup- 
ported by anything like sound deduction from a vast 
number of intricate and varying phenomena. Both these 
theories require the admission of the existence of so-called 
imponderable matter. What is imponderable matter ? It 
is matter not subject to the law of gravitation. If, as 
regards light, I take the emission theory of Newton, which 
accounts for a large array of optical facts, then light consists 
of imponderable matter projected from a luminous body. If I 
abandon this theory for the undulatory hypothesis, (which 
accounts for a greater number of optical phenomena of the 
most recondite character than the former,) light is produced 
by the vibration of "an imponderable fluid." Now heat, 
light, and electricity are regarded, as far as I can understand 
Mr. Grove's speculations, as not only correlative, but even 
transmutable phenomena of matter — as indications of the 
same force under varied conditions, or as modes of the motion 
of matter. Now I ask how are we to eliminate the mysterious 
fluid which, under the form of lightning, strikes down a steeple 
or shatters an oak into a thousand splinters, from the electrical 
phenomenon, and not, according to Mr. Grove's own theories, 


eliminate the notion of imponderables from the phenomena 
of light ? 

I know many men of sound science who deplore the depar- 
ture of so many modern scientific men from the sound method 
of induction, for the dreams of inventors of hypotheses. 
The hazy notions of Mn. Grove and kindred philosophers, on 
the nature of force and matter, are supported more by theo- 
retical dreams than by sound deductions from facts. 

While Mr. Grove speaks with contempt of mysterious fluids 
and so-called imponderables, (supported by an array of facts 
not much less numerous, and by mathematical analysis as 
rigid as that by which the law of gravitation is proved,) he 
can regard with complacency, where facts and arguments fail, 
the imagined perpetual-motion shower of innumerable meteors 
into the sun ; a hypothesis unsupported by a single fact or 
observed phenomenon of nature, but invented solely to make 
tenable those theories of force and matter which evade the 
existence of imponderables. 

If I take the most transcendental views of matter that have 
ever yet been imagined by men, I am led on the one hand to 
regard all interplanetary space, not as filled with imponderable 
fluid, but by something very like a solid combination of matter ; 
while on the other hand, the Boscovichian theory would lead me 
to regard all this matter ultimately, as having no physical 
length, breadth or thickness, but to be absolute geometrical 
points — mere centres of force. Either of these hypotheses I 
may hold, without laying aside my claim to the rank of a 
philosophical thinker. But if I talk of a supposed Hebrew 
firmament, or believe that God made all things out of nothing, 
I must be derided as centuries behind the progress of modern 
thought ! 

Apologizing for having allowed my observations to run 
to such a length, I now call on Professor Young to read 
his paper. 

The following paper was then read : — 

TEE ORIGIN OF SPEECH. By J. R. Young, Esq., 
late Professor of Mathematics, Belfast College. 

I AM about to invite your attention this evening to a sub- 
ject which has, I think, received as yet too little notice 
from philological speculators in their inquiries into the origin 
of articulate language. 

Much learned and successful research has been devoted to 


the consideration of the question, — Is it possible that all 
spoken languages can have sprung from a single root ? Can 
they possibly be all but so many corruptions or modifications 
or offshoots of one primitive form of speech ? 

Professor Max Miiller, after a laborious investigation of the 
matter, upon purely philological considerations, decides this 
question in the affirmative. His conclusion is, that however 
dissimilar the various dialects, "they are all nevertheless 
derived from one primeval language." (I quote from his 
Lectures on the Science of Language, Lecture VIII.) This 
conclusion has been also reached and confirmed by the Rev. 
Dr. Thornton, and the results of observation which justify it 
were placed before you, in this Society, in that gentleman's 
recent paper on Comparative Philology.* 

Still the important question remains, — Whence came this 
primeval language ? Was it of human invention, or was it 
supernaturally communicated to our first parents ? Here, — 
putting revelation aside, as in every independent investiga- 
tion we are bound to do, — we have nothing to guide us except 
reasonable conjecture and the balance of probabilities ; and 
therefore, at whatever result under this guidance we may 
arrive, we can never pronounce our conclusion to be indis- 
putably and irresistibly true. 

But this character of indisputable truth is not stamped 
upon any of our conclusions as to the origin of things, to 
whatever department of nature our investigations are 
directed. In every such inquiry it behoves us to proceed, not 
only with caution, but even with distrust. Whatever con- 
clusion, within the entire range of human research, is arrived 
at otherwise than by demonstration, or by observation, or by 
experiment, is not a scientific conclusion. Demonstration is 
confined exclusively to necessary truths, — to things that could 
not possibly be other than what they are. Observation and 
Experiment, on the other hand, deal exclusively with pheno- 
mena, — with things which, for aught we know to the con- 
trary, might be other than what they are. Such are the 
objects with which strict science has alone to do. And it is 
deeply to be deplored, for its own sake, that in recent times 
the dignity of science has been usurped by speculative con- 
clusions based upon neither demonstration, nor observation, 
nor experiment, but upon the unsubstantial foundation of 
pure fancy, — the appeal being, not to our convictions, but to 
our credulity. 

Yet it is a precept universally admitted in theory, however 

* Journ. of Trans, of Vict. Instit. vol. I. p. 148, tt seq. 


widely departed from in practice, that the revelations of 
science should always be read, — not with a feeling of credulous 
assent, in the absence of evidence, but with a reasonable 
scepticism ; while the revelations of Scripture, on the con- 
trary, must be read with an equally reasonable faith. But the 
modern doctrine reverses the application of these precepts : 
science is to have all the faith, and the Bible all the 

If I am required to admit that man is developed from the 
ape, and the ape from a fish, I am quite ready to admit it, 
provided I be shown this developing principle in operation, — 
provided I be shown only a few consecutive steps of the 
approximating process. I am ready to admit it even, if the 
propounder of the doctrine seriously tells me that he himself 
has witnessed this onward and continuous advance from ape to 
man, or from fish to ape, though in but a single instance. I 
go further : though neither he nor I have seen anything of 
the kind, yet I will admit it, if he can only point to the 
recorded testimony of trustworthy eye-witnesses of the phe- 
nomena in bygone times. 

If not even one of these items of evidence exist, then the 
belief in this, or in any other physical theory equally un- 
supported, — though a few men of unquestionable science may 
embrace that belief, — may be fitly characterized, not as 
scientific conviction, but as scientific superstition, — an appella- 
tion quite as appropriate as the similar appellation sometimes 
applied to the extravagances of really religious minds. 

If I could not submit to you this evening better and 
sounder reasons in support of the position that the speech of 
man came from the Creator of man, than the philosophers 
alluded to can furnish in favour of their position that the 
human being came from the ape, I certainly should not pre- 
sume to appear before you. I think and trust, as the event 
will show, that I shall not incur the charge of arrogance or 
egotism in preferring these pretensions. Yet, as I have 
already hinted, the evidence which I shall offer, in support of 
this position, must not be expected to reach the high 
character of scientific proof. The inquiry is not one in refer- 
ence to which the rigid demands of science can be satisfied. 
It is an inquiry out of the range of strict science ; for, as Sir 
John Herschel truly states, in his beautiful and masterly 
Discourse, "to ascend to the origin of things is not the 
business of the natural philosopher." 

I shall, however, appeal to that which is of little less 
authority. I shall appeal to that which, independently of 
science, is the^ guiding principle, — not only in ordinary 


matters, but even in matters of high moment, — of all rational 
intelligent beings. I shall appeal to that important though 
undefined principle called common sense, to the unbiassed 
decisions of a sound practical understanding, in reference to a 
matter in which absolute certainty is not attainable. 

I have already stated that the great question for our con- 
sideration, on the present occasion, is this : Was speech of 
human invention? This may be divided into two other 
questions, which, together, embody the same inquiry : — 

1st. Could man, placed speechless upon earth, without any 
external aid, have invented articulate language ? 

2nd. Would he, of himself, have originated and elaborated 
speech, even if he could ? 

I have just said that (as you will at once perceive) the two 
questions here proposed may replace the single question — 
Was speech of human invention ? The first of these two may, 
however, be dismissed : it will be sufficient, admitting hypo- 
thetically that man could originate speech, if it be shown, 
with a high degree of probability, that he would never have 
addressed himself to the task. 

The single question then to be discussed is this, — Is it 
probable, that if man had been placed speechless upon the 
earth, he would have been urged by necessity to contrive for 
himself an articulate language ? 

Now, under whatever circumstances man made his first 
appearance, — whether he was placed here by a gorilla or by 
God, is a matter of no moment in this inquiry. Come how he 
might, he brought a language with him — the language of 
gesticulation, implanted in him by what is called Nature ; and 
by nature he was prompted, and even constrained to use it. 
That is my first position. Man has, and was never without, 
a natural language, a language which is no more an invention 
of his own, or the gradual acquirement of ages, than his out- 
ward manifestations of love and hate, joy and sorrow, pleasure 
and pain, or any other of the promptings of nature, are con- 
ventional signs, agreed upon by social compact, taught and 

Wherever man is found, he is found (unless he be in a con- 
dition of idiotcy) in possession of this natural language ; — he 
never learns it, he never loses it. It is universal throughout the 
whole human family. It is employed as a means of inter- 
communication among the most degraded races of savages, and 
it is employed in the most polished societies of Europe, — in 
the animated war-palavers of the wildest Indians, and in the 
cultivated conversation of courts and palaces^ But there is 


this difference, — the savage gives full and unrestrained ges- 
tural expression to his feelings and emotions, — his articulate 
language is often too limited and feeble to supply the place of 
gesture ; whereas we, with our copious vocabulary, can dis- 
pense with it ; and we not unfrequently use effort to check 
and suppress what, if we were speechless, would be our only 
resource, and what, therefore, it would be our great object, as 
social creatures, to cultivate and amplify. 

Whenever we use gesture, — and use it we do, in spite of all 
our endeavours to curb nature, — we use it, for the most part, 
unconsciously ; and therefore, to ourselves, it escapes notice, 
I wish this evening to invite your attention to some of the 
principal of these natural gestures, to show you what they 
really are ; and, by directing your special notice to what, when 
engaged in animated discourse, you yourselves do, to show 
you, by ocular proof, that you unconsciously employ the lan- 
guage of gesticulation to an extent you little suspect ; in short, 
that you use the natural signs of the deaf and dumb, which, in 
fact, are no other than the natural signs of the whole human 

[Here Professor Young exhibited various gesticulations and 
explained their meaning. It was specially noticed, that in all 
cases where feeling or emotion was expressed, the eye of the 
observer was steadily directed to the countenance, the manual 
signs being but auxiliary — natural, but subordinate.] 

I think it has now been sufficiently shown that, by whatever 
agency man made his appearance in the world, he came 
endowed with the ability to communicate with his fellows in a 
language intelligible to all, a language requiring no con- 
ventions to establish, no long and laborious efforts to construct, 
yet amply sufficient for the expression of all his physical 
wants, and for social intercourse respecting all the natural 
objects and circumstances with which he might be sur- 

Now it must be remembered that, according to theories 
ancient and modern, the primitive race of mankind was a 
barbarous race, — a race inferior even to the present natives of 
the Fiji Islands or of the interior of Australia : without speech 
it must have been so. It has been said that such a people 
could teach themselves articulate language, as well as they can 
teach themselves to make a fire. But the savage is driven by 
necessity to devise means for kindling a fire. What stern 
necessity is there to drive him to originate a spoken language, 
even supposing him to possess the ability ? What is there in 


his condition, at the present day, that would make him feel 
the want of articulate sounds, even if he were to lose the 
scanty vocabulary he now has, — the language of gesture being 
still preserved ? In Major Long's expedition to the Rocky 
Mountains, there is an account of certain tribes of the aboriginal 
inhabitants of the country west of the Mississippi, who, though 
speaking different languages, readily communicate with one 
another in the common natural language of signs : many of 
these are described in Major Long's volumes, and, as might 
be expected, they closely agree with those employed by the 
deaf and dumb. 

It may be said, however, that man, even in this primitive and 
barbarous condition, would instinctively know that the organs 
with which he was endowed all had their appropriate offices, 
and that he would not be man without an instinctive propen- 
sity to use them. This is true. But I submit, that previouslv 
to his having witnessed articulation in others, or exercised it 
himself, he would not be conscious that he possessed organs of 
speech, as such, at all. The larynx, the tongue, the palate, 
the teeth, and the lips, he would naturally employ for other 
and even more important purposes, at least for more im- 
portunate purposes. How is he to know that in addition 
to those offices these parts of his frame can, by certain 
mechanical adjustments, convert mere voice into an artificial 
system of intelligible sounds, conventionally to be employed 
to express thoughts, and actions, and things ? His 
throat is a channel for his food ; his tongue and palate, — 
the organs by which he tastes it ; his teeth, — the instru- 
ments by which he masticates it ; while his lips he employs 
in the act of drinking. Who, or what, is to tell him 
that these same organs could be employed, n6t only for the 
nourishment of his body, but also for the elevation and enlarge- 
ment of his mind ? Is it likely, in the primitive low condition 
we are here contemplating him, that he would ever think of 
these ministers to his physical wants and enjoyments in con- 
nection with any intellectual or moral purposes ; or of using 
them, with the view of supplanting his natural and signifi- 
cant language of signs by non-natural and non- significant 
utterances ? 

There can be no doubt, on the hypothesis that speech was 
the gift of God to man, that there would have been what may 
be called a pleasurable instinctive propensity to speak, but 
this is very different from an instinctive propensity to invent 
speech ; — to invent that of which (if in his primitive condition 
he were without) he would neither have felt the want, nor 
have known the value. 


But if, in spite of these considerations, it be still maintained 
that savage man invented speech, I would ask, — How comes it 
that civilized man, when in danger of losing this precious trea- 
sure, instead of using every effort to prevent the threatened 
calamity, always feels a strong propensity to accelerate it ? 
Those who have the misfortune, after they are grown up, to 
lose their hearing, are always found inclined voluntarily to give 
up their speech also. They well know, since the avenue to 
the speech of others is now closed, that, without exercising 
their own, it will in time be lost and forgotten, and that tney 
will inevitably lapse into permanent dumbness. They know 
this; and yet, by their willing neglect, they seem to say: 
" Well, let it go ;" and, .in many instances, they do let it go, 
never to be recovered. I appeal to facts. 

Most persons here have, no doubt, heard of Dr. Kitto, the 
author of " The Pictorial Bible/' and other excellent works. 
He was totally deaf, having lost his hearing at the age of twelve 
years, by a fall from a ladder, at which period he was of course 
in full possession of articulate language. In his interesting 
book called " The Lost Senses " he gives this account of 
himself in the deaf state : — 

" Although I have no recollection of physical pain in the act of speaking, 
I felt the strongest possible indisposition to use my vocal organs. I seemed 
to labour under a moral disability which cannof be described by comparison 
with any disinclination which the reader can be supposed to have experienced. 
The disinclination which one feels to leave his warm bed on a frosty morning 
is nothing to that which I experienced against any exercise of the organs of 
speech. The force of this tendency to dumbness was so great, that for many 
years I habitually expressed myself to others in writing, even when not more 
than a few words were necessary ; and where this mode of intercourse could 
not be used, I avoided occasion of speech, or heaved up a few monosyllables, 
or expressed my wish by a slight motion or gesture. . . . , . In fact, I came 
to be generally considered as both deaf and dumb, excepting by the few who 
were acquainted with my real condition. I rejoiced in the protection which 
that impression afforded ; for nothing distressed nie more than to be asked 
to speak : and from disuse having been superadded to the pre-existing 
causes, there seemed a strong probability of my eventually justifying the im- 
pression concerning my dumbness which was generally entertained, I now 
speak with considerable ease and freedom, and, in personal intercourse, never 
resort to any other than the oral mode of communication," — {The. Lost 
Senses — Deafness, p. 19.) 

This return to speech, however, was not voluntary, but co- 
erced. Two friends who accompanied Dr. Kitto on his first 
visit to the Mediterranean, conspired, in conjunction with the 
captain, to disregard every word he said otherwise than orally 



throughout the voyage. As no request was attended to, and 
no inquiry answered, which was presented in writing, he was 
thus driven again to speak. 

I will mention another instance, — the case of an accomplished 
lady with whose writings many persons here are familiar. I 
allude to the late Mrs. Tonna, under which name, however, 
perhaps few will recognize the celebrated authoress I am ad- 
verting to, — " Charlotte Elizabeth." The following interesting 
particulars respecting this lady were communicated to me by 
her husband, Mr. Tonna, shortly after her death, in a letter 
which I have the writer's permission to make public : — 

" Mrs. Tonna [Charlotte Elizabeth] lost her hearing at the age of nine or 
ten. It was entirely gone — I believe from a thickening of the membrane of 
the tympanum. No sound of any kind reached her, as a sound, although she 
was acutely sensitive to vibrations, whether conveyed through the air or 
through a solid medium. In this way the vibrations from an organ, or from 
the sounding-board of a piano-forte, gave her great pleasure ; and from her 
recollection of Handel's music, she took great delight in it ; and from the 
vibrations would recollect the sounds so familiar in her childish days. You 
will see some particulars of this in her * Personal Recollections/ 

" On one occasion, at the age of twenty-two or twenty-three, a new country 
dance was played : the tune was called the * Recovery,' the rhythm of which 
is very peculiar. She was a# usual at her station, with her hand on the 
sounding-board, when some friends present expressed a doubt as to the pos- 
sibility of her forming any idea of the tune. She sat down at once, and 
wrote a song, which I possess, most perfectly adapted to the tune in all its 

" There is a poem of hers beginning ' No generous toil declining,' which it 
is quite difficult to read as poetry until informed that it was written to the 
tune of * A rose-tree in full bearing,' and to that it is perfectly adapted. The 
poem is included in the volume of * Posthumous Poems' about to be pub- 
lished, in which it will be plainly seen that most of her poems were written 
to mental tunes. All conversation was conveyed to her by the fingers — 
spelling each word, without any attempt at shorthand, which she said always 
confused her. After repeating to her sermons and speeches from the most 
rapid Irish speakers, I have often been distressed at the apparent impossibility 
of her having understood me ; for I felt that I had repeatedly rather indi- 
cated than completed the formation of each letter. Seeing my distress, she 
would often begin and give me every head of division of the sermon, together 
with the most striking passages, verbatim, as the orator had uttered them. 

" We never divided the words, but spelt on the letters as fast as it was 
possible to form them on the fingers. When in society, I have been repeating 
to her a general conversation, and communicating the remarks made by each 
individual, her eye would incessantly range about the room, catch the expres- 
sion of each speaker's face, and yet never lose a word of what *was said. 


Strangers were amazed at seeing a smile on her face at the very instant that 
a humorous remark was being made. The power and quickness of her eye 
was truly surprising. " 

I have made this long quotation from Mr. Tonna's letter, 
because I thought that, apart from the general purposes of this 
address, many persons present might feel an interest in parti- 
culars, not generally known, respecting Charlotte Elizabeth. 
But my special object, in this extract, is to draw your attention 
to a passage in it further confirmatory of the fact I have already 
mentioned; namely, that people who lose their hearing are 
content to lose their speech too. The passage is this : — " We 
never divided the words, but spelt on the letters as fast as it was 
possible to form them on the fingers." Now this lady still re- 
tained the faculty of speech : Instead of employing it, why 
should she, even when conversing with her own husband, habi- 
tually use the finger-language of the deaf and dumb ? 

Dr. Kitto accounts for this repugnance to speak on the hy- 
pothesis that the loss of hearing is attended with injurious 
effects upon the organs of speech, from some mysterious sym- 
pathy between the two sets of organs,-^— the auditory and the 
vocal ; the destruction of the former set occasioning a func- 
tional derangement of the latter, or of some of them. And I 
am amazed to find that so distinguished a physiologist as Pro- 
fessor Huxley, in his recent work on Man's Place in Nature 
favours the same view. It is a mistaken view. There is no 
necessity to resort to anatomical or physiological considera- 
tions to settle the doubt. Deaf-mutes, whether their deafness 
be congenital or the result of disease or accident in after-life, 
can all be taught to speak, unless there be a malformation of 
their organs of speech entirely independent of their deafness. 
I have witnessed hundreds of such persons taught to speak, 
— to pronounce all the vocal articulations that we utter, and 
with equal accuracy. Of all these hundreds of deaf and dumb 
children, I never knew even one who had the slightest defect 
in his vocal organs. The records of the Royal Institution for 
the Deaf and Dumb at Paris also abundantly testify to the 
same fact, namely, that although the ear is paralyzed, the 
organs of speech remain unimpaired. 

The propensity to silence on the part of those who, after 
long familiarity with the exercise of speech, have become deaf, 
arises, I am convinced, not from any functional impediment, 
but entirely from the changed character which, to the utterer, 
his speech assumes. To him, as to every hearing person, 
speech is the utterance of articulate sounds, and not mechanical 
actions merely of the organs of speech. These actions, how- 
ever indispensable to speech, are executed almost uncon- 



sciously ; our attention is not directed to them, and they go 
on unobserved; we are wholly occupied with the result, and 
not at all with the machinery which produces it. With the 
recently deaf, however, the language which had grown up 
with him from infancy, — which had become natural to him, 
and which had always been graced, too, by features of Nature's 
own, — tones of voice, — upon the loss of hearing, suddenly 
wears an altered aspect. He has hitherto been accustomed to 
it, associated with modulation,— cadence, — clothed in all the 
harmonious drapery of sound. It is now stripped of this, and 
presents itself to him shorn of its vitality, — a non-natural, 
lifeless skeleton, formed by artificial adjustments of the vocal 
organs, but emitting no sound to his own ear. 

The fact is, that our vernacular tongue, descending to us, as 
it were, by inheritance, and acquired imperceptibly in child- 
hood, — and a wonderful acquirement it is, — seems, to the 
child, as natural to him as eating, or drinking, or sleeping. 
He scarcely feels conscious that it is an acquirement at all ; 
and even when grown up, he little reflects that the words he 
uses are all but so many artificial conventions, in themselves 
all, or nearly all, non-significant ; and not only that " a rose 
by any other name would smell as sweet," but that any other 
name would be just as significant, or rather just as non- signi- 
ficant of its fragrance. But when his hearing is gone, and 
with it all that was really natural in his speech, vocal sound, 
gone too, he becomes painfully awakened to the fact that 
nothing but what is wholly artificial is now left to him ; and 
that what were once articulate sounds to his own ear, are 
henceforth to be, to him, only inaudible movements of the 
vocal organs. 

It is this sudden apparent transmutation of speech, from 
the natural to the artificial, that creates in the mind of the 
deaf person the repugnance to employ it. That this aversion 
must be very great is obvious, since those who entertain it 
well know the trouble and inconvenience it occasions to all 
with whom they converse, — forcing them to read on the 
fingers, — an art in which few are expert, or else to receive in 
writing, still more slowly executed, every sentence addressed 
to them. 

Now I would ask,— If a highly enlightened and educated 
people, at great cost to themselves and others, knowing too 
the full value of speech, cherish this almost unconquerable 
repugnance to the use of it, so soon as the only touch given to 
it by nature has become effaced, is it likely that an unen- 
lightened savage community, already in possession of an ex- 
pressive natural language, a language fully commensurate with 


all their physical wants and desires, — and other than physical 
they have not — is it likely that they would apply themselves to 
the difficult and strange task of inventing, to supply its place, 
an artificial, non-natural language of vocal articulations ? 
Where would be the incentives — what the motives ? They had 
never witnessed speech, — it did not exist. Whence would 
originate the impulse ? 

Is it not more likely that as their experience enlarged and 
their wants increased, if this sign-language were felt to be 
inadequate, that they would engraft upon it conventional 
gestures, just as the deaf and dumb do ? If circumstances 
were favourable to it, or necessity required it, the gestural 
language of the deaf and dumb might be carried to a much 
greater extent than it ever has been carried. The deaf and 
dumb do not congregate together in distinct communities 
while in their uneducated state : they are isolated, coming into 
contact with one another only accidentally and occasionally, 
and never in any considerable numbers. They thus have no 
opportunity, in that state, of amplifying their language by 
general compact or agreement. And when they assemble 
together in institutions set apart for their education, it is the 
business of their teachers to discourage and suppress the 
use of gesture so soon as it has served the purpose of facili- 
tating the acquisition of a spoken language. But that gesture- 
language can be greatly amplified there is no doubt, and this 
is the language that speechless savages would cultivate, and 
not an entirely new language, a language of articulation, an 
artificial contrivance they had never witnessed, and one which 
it is hard to imagine they could have any conception of. 

I think it therefore to be a reasonable conclusion that, in the 
absence of all aid from without, a speechless community would 
be, and would ever continue to be, a gesticulating community. 
To gesture they would add inarticulate vocal sounds, but 
nothing more. And this is my second position. 

In further confirmation of it I will merely submit to your 
consideration an additional remark or two. 

A primitive speechless race of men would be but little more 
than mere animals. Their gestural language, though amply 
sufficient for their uncivilized condition, would be very inade- 
quate to elevate them to a state of civilization; for gesture 
alone could never be an adequate exponent of aught but 
animal feelings, material objects, and visible appearances, a 
fact which must be especially borne in mind in speculating 
upon the capabilities of gestural language, to whatever extent 
it be cultivated. Speech (or the written symbols of it) ia 
indispensable to any progress in moral, religious or intellectual 


education. Nobody has ever succeeded, or ever can succeed, 
. in conveying spiritual instruction to the deaf and dumb by 
gesture, unless indeed conventional signs be used as transla- 
tions of previously-understood written or spoken words, as in 
the case of the finger-alphabet for instance, which no unedu- 
cated deaf-mute can use. Such an isolated race of human 
beings as we are here supposing might, indeed, become more 
and more morally degraded ; but without speech, and excluded 
from all example and all external influence, they could never 
morally advance. In a late number of the Quarterly Review 
(No. 211) the writer of an article on the Poleynian Islanders 
observes that " the present state of these people shows the ten- 
dency of men to descend lower and lower in the social scale, 
as they become more widely scattered and separated into small 
isolated bodies." 

Now if it be true that without speech civilization could not 
be attained, it is equally true that without civilization speech 
could not be invented. No people would invent what they had 
no felt need of. 

Here then is a dilemma. Speech is indispensable to civiliza- 
tion, and civilization is indispensable to the invention of speech. 
How can such a contradiction be avoided on the hypothesis 
that speech is of human invention ? " Modern science " may 
perhaps discover some way of reconciling the apparent in- 
consistency, but common sense, I think, cannot. And this, 
be it remembered, is the only tribunal to which I here appeal. 
Its functions are definite and unmistakeable, whereas, in the 
modern acceptation, " science" means anything — except know- 

In what has hitherto been said, however, the advantages of 
the ear, even to a speechless community of uncivilized men, 
have not been dwelt upon. There is no doubt that the posses- 
sion of the organs of hearing would place them in a position 
superior to that of deaf-mutes. They could recognize sounds, 
and would thus be conscious of noises made by themselves or 
others ; of the cries and growlings of land animals, and of 
the shrieks and melodious utterings of the feathered tribes. 
Certain of these sounds they would find that they themselves 
could imitate, and that they could thus, in their descrip- 
tion of a quadruped or a bird, or of any natural sounding 
object, as the rushing torrent, or the moaning wind, add to 
those peculiarities which address the eye or the organs of 
touch, the other characteristics which address the ear. The 
congenitally deaf know no difference between the notes of 
the cuckoo and those of the nightingale. They can dis- 


tinguish one bird from another, in their descriptions, only by 
the size, the shape, the plumage, the bill, and such-like ex- 
ternal features, and by the visible bearing and habit3 of the 
individual. A community of human beings without speech, 
but in possession of the ear, would be superior to the deaf and 
dumb only in these natural advantages ; besides expression of 
countenance and gesticulating with their limbs, they could 
imitate sounds, and call at a distance. But these additional 
powers would render the possessors of them even more inde- 
pendent of, and therefore, less urged by necessity to invent, 
articulate speech. I have not the slightest doubt, if I were 
brought into communication with a savage on his own soil, 
(safety, of course, being guaranteed,) that I could enter into 
instant converse with him, without a single articulate sound 
being uttered by either of us, and, allowing me only half an hour 
to feel my way, that I could understand everything he had to 
communicate, and he as readily understand me, as if we were 
two persons speaking the same articulate language. The more 
of the savage he was, the better I could converse with him ; 
and every one who has paid sufficient attention to the language 
of natural signs could do the same. 

It has often occurred to me that many of the tragical dis- 
asters which have befallen early missionary enterprise, and our 
exploring expeditions* both by sea and land, might have been 
averted if a person having this familiarity with gesture- 
language had been among the unfortunate party. I have 
thought that even poor Bligh and his wretched companions 
would not have been so cruelly repulsed from every island at 
which they sought succour during their unparalleled voyage 
of nearly 4,000 miles in an open boat, if one of those nineteen 
unhappy wanderers had been deaf and dumb ; if but one among 
them could have made their case known in a language intel- 
ligible to all. 

When Basil Hall endeavoured to conciliate the natives of 
the coast of Corea, they rejected his overtures, as he thought, 
by making the sign for cutting throats. A person familiar 
with gesture-language could have ascertained in a moment 
whether by this sign they threatened to be the perpetrators or 
merely expressed a dread of being the victims. From their 
subsequent behaviour it would seem that they meant to convey 
the latter impression. Oii Captain Hall proceeding to land, he 
says, " This movement the natives did not seem to relish in 
the least, for they made use of a sign which, though we could 
not determine exactly to whom it referred, was sufficiently 
expressive of their alarm and anxiety. It consisted in drawing 
their fans across their throats, and sometimes across ours, as if 


to signify that our going on would lead to heads being cut off; 
but whether they or we were to be the sufferers was not very 
clear ." — (Voyage to Loo-Choo, second edition, p. 11.) 

It has been affirmed, both by ancient poets and modern 
visionaries, that primitive man must have herded with the 
beasts of the field, feeding on acorns and on the roots he could 
scratch up with his fingers. This imagined association with 
brutes could never be. The two parties could not communi- 
cate ; the language of human gesture, as a medium of social 
intercourse, could be intelligible only to human beings, who 
would therefore naturally and necessarily congregate together 
in a wholly distinct ana separate society. A single human 
being, having no such society, could, of course, have no other 

But it is time that I brought this paper to a close. In the 
course of it I have not insisted on the absolute impossi- 
bility of man inventing speech ; I have merely aimed at 
showing, by an appeal to facts and to reasonable considera- 
tions, that, even admitting his ability, the improbability of 
his actually doing so is very great ; for I feel less hesitation 
in affirming that he would not do it, than that he could not 
do it ; and this because, cast about as I may, I cannot discover 
anything in the low condition, hypothetically assigned to him, 
to stimulate him to the undertaking. When I find it to be a 
fact that the natural language of gesture, which every human 
being possesses, is amply sufficient for all his social require- 
ments in such a primitive uncivilized state ; when I find it to 
be a fact that when the spoken language of a person who has 
employed it from infancy, and which has become natural to 
him — his vernacular tongue, — becomes to that person changed 
to a non-natural system of organic actions merely, he being 
conscious of nothing more — nothing that is nature's own, — that 
this non-natural speech is repulsive to him, that he would 
rather have none at all, I ask myself in vain, Why should 
primitive speechless man invent artificial language ? With a 
natural and expressive means of intercourse commensurate 
with all the demands of his then condition, why should he be 
at the trouble even of devising and settling by general compact 
another language, consisting of symbols purely conventional 
and artificial ? To these questions no satisfactory answers 
suggest themselves to my mind. 

I reflect, too, that civilization presupposes the exercise of 
speech ; and, yet, that a considerable advance in civilization 
must precede the invention of speech ; and that no result can 
chronologically be antecedent to that which brings it about. I 
bear in mind, further, that those who never possessed a faculty 


given to others care bat little about it : a faculty they never 
had, they never miss. And a faculty that none ever had 
cannot be even conceived, any more than we can conceive a 
sixth sense, or could conceive a fifth, if we had but four. I 
well remember conversing, some years ago, with a boy who was 
born blind; he was about 16 or 17 years old, highly intelligent, 
well informed, and well educated. I put this case to him — 
" Suppose a person, having the power to give you eyesight 
without subjecting you to any pain or inconvenience, should 
say to you, ' John, which would you rather have — the ability 
to see, or five pounds ? ' " He raised his sightless eyeballs 
upwards, in the act of reflection, for a few seconds, and replied, 
" I think I would rather have the five pounds " ! This is an 
uncoloured and strictly literal fact. The boy's name was 
John McCallion, and he was an inmate of the Ulster Institution 
for the Blind. 

From all these considerations I find myself constrained to 
conclude, quite independently of Scripture, that speech was 
not of human invention. I am constrained to conclude that 
the universal existence of speech among savage tribes, 
though in a poor and imperfect form — testifies (as they them- 
selves testify), not to the elevation to which they have risen, 
but to the degradation to which they have fallen; not to 
what they have acquired, but to what .they have lost. Just as 
a once beautiful face, though marred by accident or disease- 
though even overspread by the pallor of death, will still retain 
some faint lineaments of its former comeliness — so, even in the 
debased and benighted savage, all trace is not lost of what 
man once was. Speech, Heaven's direct bestowment, in one 
feeble form or other, survives the decay of all else, and ever 
continues a mark and memento of man's high origin. 

Yes : reason and Revelation alike tell us that when our first 
parents trod the groves of Paradise they communed with each 
other, not in dumb pantomime, but in heaven-born speech; and 
that they learnt to speak just as much as the bee learnt to 
construct its cell, the spider to weave its web, or the sparrow 
upon the house-top to build her nest. No mortal instructor 
taught them — they had no rudimentary training to go through 
— no long apprenticeship to serve. Their lesson was the 
lesson of an instant, for their Creator was their Teacher. 

What this primitive language was we know not. Hereafter, 
perhaps, we may know. The language of Eden may, in a 
future state, be our own, if permitted to dwell in the paradise 
above. And, as the Apostles of old " spake with other 


tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance/' so there, — " Par- 
thians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopo- 
tamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 
Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya 
about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 
Cretes and Arabians," — may all, in one language and one 
tongue, " speak the wonderful works of God." 

The Chairman. — I think I may at once thank Professor Young for his 
exceedingly valuable and logical paper, which I think will be read, as it has 
been listened to, with the greatest interest. I call upon any gentleman for any 
remarks he may wish to make on the subject. 

Mr. Warington. — In order to lose no time, as we have but little left for 
discussion, I will at once mention that it struck me, in listening to Professor 
Young's paper, that there was this flaw running through the whole of it, — 
that he argued, because people who became deaf were not anxious to retain 
the power of articulation, therefore others, who had not got it, but who were 
not deaf, would not think of inventing articulate speech. But surely all 
here turns upon the fact of the people being deaf. They could not hear the 
sounds made by them, and so were disinclined to use them as a medium of 
communication. But now apply this principle to a parallel case. Suppose 
a man who knew the gesture language became blind, would not he in like 
manner give it up ? You won't find a man use the gesture language in the 
dark Even if perfectly certain that another man could see he was using 
gestures, he yet would not use them, because he could not see them him- 
self. But again, is it quite certain that those who are deaf are always thus 
disinclined to use articulate language 1 Let me read a short extract from 
a chapter on gesture language, written by Mr. Tylor.* He writes thus : — 

" Teuschner, a deaf-mute, whose mind was developed by education to a 
remarkable degree, has recorded that, in his uneducated state, he had 
already discovered the sounds that were inwardly blended with his sensations. 
So, as a child, he had affixed a special sound to persons he loved, — his 
parents, brothers and sisters, to animals, and things for which he had no 
sign (as water) ; and called any person he wished with one unaltered voice." 

Mr. Tylor accumulates several distinct cases of deaf-mutes who were 
thus anxious to use articulate language, although quite unable to hear 
what was said ; he refers also to the most remarkable case of all, that of 
Laura Bridgman, who though deaf, dumb and blind, was yet so anxious to 
use sounds that she was obliged to be restrained from making them, 
because it was inconvenient and painful to those who were near her. 
Then there is another point in Professor Young's paper, I wish to allude to. 
He says that savages would not invent language of this kind, because they 
have no need for it. And if man was created in an utterly savage state, of 

* Researches into the Early History of Mankind. By E. B. Tylor. 
Chap. iv. p. 72. 


course this is a good argument. But if we take it the other way, that man 
was not created in a savage state ; then, according to Professor Young's own 
principles, he was created with wants and feelings, to express which a 
gesture language would be utterly inadequate— 

The Chairman. —The question is, whether, having been created without 
language, he would have invented one. 

Professor Young. — You are going into a case not contemplated. I have 
been proceeding distinctly upon the hypothesis, and have discussed the phe- 
nomenon, of a community of people sent into the world in a savage and bar- 
barous condition. You are drawing something from a civilized state, which 
does not affect my argument. Will not that be infringing upon our time ? 

Mr. Warington. — I think not, for this reason ; because, if we take only 
the hypothesis which Professor Young has put before us, we are taking so 
one-sided a view, that we may be running away with a conclusion which only 
refers to that one hypothesis, and yet may fancy it refers to the whole 
subject — 

Professor Young. — You must stick to the hypothesis ; do not change it, 
I pray. 

The Chairman. — I think you are travelling away from the question under 

Mr. Rbddib. — I think it would be valuable to hear this other hypothesis 
also discussed. 

Mr. Warington. — Our subject, I believe, is the origin of language, con- 
nected with gesticulation. I want to prove that if man had been (upon 
another hypothesis) created in a state similar to what we are in now, he 
would have naturally invented an articulate language, and that therefore the 
facts which Professor Young advances will not prove anything on this 
hypothesis. According to Professor Young's statement, which I agree with, 
gesture language only refers to things physical and material Then if a 
man has feelings which he wants to express as to things which are not 
physical and material, would he not at once employ articulate language ? 
There is an objection which is raised to this. It is said that all these 
languages are arbitrary, and that the idea that man invented arbitrary 
word-language, is too difficult to be credited. But is it quite certain that 
articulate language, when first spoken, was arbitrary 1 We know that written 
language at the present time is arbitrary, and that the signs we put on paper 
have not the slightest connection with the sounds or the things for which 
they stand ; but there is yet nothing more certain than that in the primitive 
alphabets the signs were used, not merely as signs, but as pictures of 
the things they were intended to denote ; and therefore that written language 
has had its origin in picture language, and afterwards became gradually 
arbitrary. Then why may not the same have occurred in respect to spoken 
language ? We can see that written language was originally a picture lan- 
guage, in which there was a natural connection between the sign and the 
thing signified, because we have certain very ancient and primitive alphabets 


still existing. But we have not the old primitive sounds, and so cannot 
say whether there was or was not in spoken language as natural a connection 
between the sign and the thing signified as in written language. In the case 
of mutes, however, they have articulate signs which they connect with 
certain things, and are able to put words together (some of the instances 
go as far as that), and to form compound words. I think these facts go 
to prove, then, that it is possible, — I do not say that it is certain, — but 
that it is possible, that man, if created in a high moral condition, would 
have had power and inclination to invent articulate language. 

Professor Young. — I have said nothing to the contrary. 

Mr. Reddie. — I regret that I cannot quite accept the hypothesis of 
Professor Young, anxious as I am to have it established by all means that 
language was originally a gift of God to man. But neither can I quite agree 
with Mr. Warington in the latter part of his remarks, that if man had been 
created in a high condition, with the feelings and wants of civilized man, he 
could have invented language, if he means language such as we have it 
among civilized races. I do not deny that he would have endeavoured to 
speak, or that he could probably invent some kind of language ; but it is a 
very important hypothesis that Professor Young puts before us, namely, that 
if man was created in the low and savage condition, which it is now the 
fashion to assume, he would begin with mere gesture language and would be 
content with it. But be that as it may, I venture to go further and say, that 
if man was originally speechless he must have been lower than any known 
savage, and even if we conclude that man in that low condition could 
invent a spoken language, we are bound to infer that it would only be 
language such as we do find it among actual savages. And if that be so, 
we are then still left without any explanation of the origin of the most ancient 
and perfect languages that exist, — as for instance the Sanskrit, — which never 
could have been invented by man in this low condition. But as the time of 
the meeting has been already so much exceeded, I think it will be more 
valuable, instead of pursuing such speculations, that I should appeal to some 
further facts, like those which the author of the paper has brought before us. 
I ventured to give Professor Young's paper to a friend of mine to read — a 
gentleman who, although he is a " deaf-mute," is in the same public depart- 
ment as myself, and, I may add, a very able man of business. I consider his 
is a better instance to cite than those adduced by Professor Young ; because 
Dr. Kitto lost his hearing at twelve years of age and Mrs. Tonna at nine or 
ten, but the gentleman whose case I am about to cite became deaf at a very 
much earlier age, and all that he knows of vocal articulation he learnt before 
he was four years old. Well, I gave him Professor Young's paper to read, 
and requested to have the benefit of his remarks upon it ; and he has been 
kind enough to allow me to make use of the letter that he wrote to me in 
reply, which when printed in our Proceedings will I think be read with great 
interest, both as an acute criticism upon the paper, and as giving his own 
experience as regards the supposed disinclination of deaf-mutes to speak. 
His letter is as follows: — 


" Roehampton, 10th October, 1866. 
" Dear Mr. Reddib, — 

" I return, with many thanks, the paper on the language of gesticulation, 
which you kindly lent me to read. 

" The argument derived from that language, on the question as to the 
origin of speech, is apparently that, because there is a natural language of 
signs sufficient for all ordinary necessities, therefore it is not reasonable to 
suppose that savages would set to work to invent such a complicated and 
arbitrary structure as human speech ; and it is sought to strengthen the 
argument by showing that deaf people, although able to speak, have no 
great inclination to do so. 

" I confess that I cannot see the value to the argument of these latter 
considerations. If we push the argument to its conclusion, viz., that speech 
and language must have been the gift of God, then that conclusion itself 
reduces the value of the premises on which it is sought to found it. 
Speech being concluded to be the gift of God, and there being a natural 
healthy pleasure in the exercise of all the faculties God has given us, any 
repugnance to use the faculty of speech must arise from ill of some kind or 
other. If so, the whole point is foreign to the argument. 

"That is what I think; nevertheless the facts of my experience are 
very much at the service of any one who thinks he can make any use 
of them. 

"When I was four years old, I had two attacks of scarlet fever in 
quick succession. The doctors gave up all hope of saving my life, but I 
recovered, with the loss of my hearing. Before my illness I had been 
taught to read, and I understood spoken language as well as any child of 
four years old. I learnt the finger alphabet for myself when recovering from 
my illness, and I was able at once to understand what my brothers or sisters 
told me by means of it. There was not in my case that difficulty which 
arises with those born deaf and dumb, or who lose their hearing before 
their education has at all begun, viz., the absence of any language, other 
than the very imperfect one of gesture, wherewith to work. I had acquired 
sufficient knowledge of language to understand the force of a sentence, 
and to be able to put my words together in grammatical order. That one 
small fact made a world-wide difference to me. 

" Although quite deaf, I never did otherwise than speak to my brothers and 
sisters ; and to this day I never have said a sentence to any of them by 
signs or by spelling on my fingers. 

"At six years old I was sent to a school for the deaf and dumb, and 
there I remained till fifteen. At this school once or twice a week there 
was a speaking lesson ; but the main teaching was carried on by signs, and 
out of school nothing else was used. Therefore I may say, speaking 
generally, I was dumb while at school, and my speaking ability of course 
fell off from want of practice. Yet, when at home for the holidays, I inva- 
riably naturally spoke. After leaving school, (and I may observe in passing, 
that it is an entire mistake to send any one who has merely lost hearing, 


but who possesses language, to a deaf and dumb 3chool,) I saw very little 
of the deaf and dumb, and I gradually got into the habit of speaking more 
and better. 

" The reason why I do not speak to every one is, simply, that every one 
cannot understand me, and I am reluctant to give people the trouble of trying 
to understand. Being deaf, I cannot always pitch my voice at the right 
tone with reference to surrounding noises. I mispronounce some words, 
and have little skill in modulation ; hence I cannot expect to be imme- 
diately understood, except for single words or common expressions ; but I 
infinitely prefer being with people who can understand me, and I have 
not the smallest hesitation or reluctance in speaking to them, or to my 
servants, or others to whom I do not mind giving the trouble of finding 
out what I say. Most people understand me readily enough, and after a 
few days' acquaintance and practice find it hard to believe they ever could 
not understand me. 

" Of course I am silent in company ; the reason being, simply, that I 
cannot hold by the thread of the conversation going round. If I do get hold 
of it now and then, I have no hesitation in saying anything I wish ; but 
of course the thread drops off again directly, unless, indeed, there is some 
one by who takes the great trouble to repeat to me on his fingers or by 
writing the main points of the conversation as it goes on. 

" I never think of using signs, or of speaking on my fingers, except to 
persons deaf and dumb. In fact, I hardly ever meet with a hearing 
person, other than a teacher of the deaf and dumb, who can read spelling or 
understand signs. 

" It is much more difficult to read spelling than to spell. I was much 
astonished at the statement in the paper that Mrs. Tonna always spelt on 
her fingers, and did not speak. If the statement rests only on the words 
quoted, * We never divided the words, &c./ I should be inclined to doubt 
whether the * we ' is not here exclusive of Mrs. Tonna herself. It would be 
quite true for one of my sisters to say, * We never divided the words, &c., 
in talking to Arthur ; ' but not one of my family or friends would under- 
stand me if I spelt a sentence on my fingers to them, unless I did it with 
most emphatic slowness. 

" To sum up ; although I do not speak to every one, and am silent in 
mixed or large companies, it does not arise from any kind of 'moral 
disability ' or ' disinclination,' such as Dr. Kitto appears to have laboured 
under, but from reasons easily understood, and of which I feel quite 

" I started by saying that I did not think the case of the deaf and 
dumb strengthened the main argument of the paper; therefore, my ex- 
periences, which differ firom those brought forward, must be equally 
immaterial to it. 

" The conclusions of the paper have my sympathy, although I remember 
reading a very ingenious argument to prove that speech had its origin 
from men trying to imitate the sounds of nature and of animals, the 


mitation standing for the name of the object. It is easy to see how, 
from these first simple sounds, which a savage might make as naturally as 
gesticulation, a language might be elaborated ; at least there are no such 
great difficulties as lie in the way of the transmutation of an ape into a 
man. I thought I had read the theory in Goguet's Origin of Laws, but I 
cannot now find it in that book. 

" Believe me ever faithfully yours, 

"A. H. Bather. 
" James Reddie, Esq." 

I consider, Sir, that this is an important communication ; and with reference 
to Mr. Bather's want of any disinclination to speak, such as was experienced 
by Dr. Kitto, I think it may be explained thus. Having as a child only heard 
up to four years old, he would not be afterwards so conscious of the marked 
difference between his condition as a person who once had heard, and one 
who does not now hear ; which would probably be acutely felt in the case 
of Dr. Kitto and by " Charlotte Elizabeth." Mr. Bather's case also is more 
nearly analogous to that of those who are deaf-mutes from their birth, and 
who consequently never heard at all. And here lies, I think, the great weak- 
ness of Professor Young's argument. He has himself slightly noticed it, — 
but I think it ought not to be noticed merely incidentally, for it is the most 
important point of all, — namely, that the theory is only good if applied to a 
community of deaf people ! The argument is founded upon only two cases, 
and those are of people who did not hear. They, of course, could have no 
pleasure in speaking, and therefore would not use speech, unless convinced 
of the usefulness of speaking. I may observe, that although Mr. Bather does 
not hesitate to speak, yet he speaks in an awkward monotone, and one 
requires to get accustomed to his imperfect articulation to understand him 
readily. I am sorry I have not got from him an explanation of one point, where 
his letter would seem to be discordant with Professor Young's statement, that 
all those people who cannot hear, may yet be taught to articulate perfectly. 
But Professor Young has also not told us whether congenital deaf-mutes are 
disinclined to use that power of speaking which, he tells us, they all may 
acquire. With reference to the question whether speech could be invented 
from imitating sounds in nature, I must say, (if man had not a gift of speech 
originally, and the ideas that come with the power of speaking,) it appears to me 
that he would scarcely have been able to express with his hands what is 
meant by such gestures as those which Professor Young has exhibited. But, 
at any rate, he could surely do quite as much in making signs of various 
kinds with his tongue, when he had the power of uttering sounds, as he 
could by merely moving his hands. And people who are not deaf cannot 
help being aware of their power of vocal utterance, because even children 
from their birth utter sounds naturally, and man hears every variety of 
sound in nature all around him, especially the cries of birds and beasts, which 
he would naturally imitate. I must also say, with reference to those gesture- 
signs which Professor Young exhibited, that I can scarcely believe that a 


single one of them would be intelligible to any person, unless taught their 
meaning by means of spoken language. Nine-tenths of the gesticulations 
which Professor Young exhibited before us appeared to me to be rather speech 
interpreted by signs, than signs significant in themselves ; and but for his 
verbal explanations, I confess I should not have understood their meaning in 
the least. There is a curious passage in one of Montaigne's Essays, perhaps 
bearing on the Professor's side, with which I shall conclude. Montaigne con- 
sidered that beasts may speak, for all we can tell, because, he observes, we 
can say all we have to say by signs. Then he goes on : — " Quoi des mains ? 
Nos requerons, nous promettons, appellons, congedions, menaceons, prions, 
supplions, nions, refusons, interrogeons, admirons, nombrons, confessons, 
repentons, craignons, vergoignons, doubtons, instruisons, commandons, absol- 
vons, injurious, mesprisons, desfions, despitons, flattens, applaudissons, 
benissons, humilions, mocquons, reconcilions, recommendons, festoyons, re- 
jouissons, complaignons, attristons, descomfortons, desesperons, estonnons, 
escrions, taisons, et quoi non ? " 

There we have the same idea as in the paper ; but I must add that I do 
not understand how any savage, who only knew gesture-language, could ever 
have such ideas at all, or understand one half of the things signified by those 
words, and the fine shades of thought they often express. 

Rev. Dr. Irons. — I think we are scarcely doing justice to the paper of Pro- 
fessor Young, if we forget he began by telling us he could pretend to no demon- 
stration in such a matter. He merely endeavoured to accumulate all the 
probabilities of the case ; and with respect to those examples of deaf-mutes, they 
were by no means all his argument, — they were only illustrations which he in- 
troduced, like the mythical savage with whom he could communicate, who was 
not deaf ; and I think without at all proving his point, which he never 
attempted, he suggested the great probability of the difficulty of originating 
a language, if man had been created a mute savage. And when Mr 
Warington affirms that there is a probability, if man was created in a 
civilized condition, that he would form a language for himself, I think he 
is bound, in fairness to Professor Young, to show how he could meet the 
dilemma which the Professor put before us, that civilization implies lan- 
guage, as much as language implies civilization. Let us meet the issue 
fairly, and see whether there is a probability, or an improbability, of savages 
inventing speech. It occurs to me that the illustrations drawn by Mr. 
Warington do not apply to the Professor's argument, which was put 
forward to meet the idea of man being a monkey previously, and gradually 
.becoming man. The primitive men were said to be of the lowest type, and 
the Fiji Islanders were particularly mentioned as an instance. Now they 
have no civilization surrounding them to suggest the thoughts like those 
which might be suggested to civilized mutes by what they see. The very 
language originating thought and producing high desires could not have been 
excited if these mutes had been in the position of the Fiji Islanders, or of a 
still lower class, namely, a people just risen above the monkey. 

Rev. Dr. Thornton.— At the risk of being called to order, I shall first, Sir, 


return you my thanks, and I think I may say those of all present (hear, hear,) 
for your very able and lucid introductory remarks. Everybody must be glad 
to be told that he may be a Christian and a man of science at the same time ; 
and that if he reads the Bible, he need not fling away science, or if he 
studies science he need not fling away the Bible. (Hear, hear.) I beg also 
to offer a few remarks on the paper of Professor Young ; in doing which, I 
shall not detain you long. — I would say to the learned Professor, that I 
listened to his paper with interest ; and if I take the liberty of criticising it, 
it is not because I deny his facts, or disagree with his conclusion. I think he 
has stated his argument from probability very clearly. He says it is probable 
that man would not have supplied a spoken language for himself out of his 
own powers ; therefore it must have been given him, as he has it, from above. 
I believe that it was given him from above ; but not for this reason ; and we 
must be careful, while defending a truth, to defend it with correct arguments ; 
for a weak argument is an evil ; and therefore, if we bring forward a proba- 
bility which will not hold water, we are really doing harm to truth. I 
would suggest to the Professor, whether those signs, which he so clearly put 
before us, are really capable of forming a language ? I fail to see in them a 
power of representing complicated objects. I can understand their represent- 
ing the sun, or the moon, or the stars ; but how represent a special thought, or 
even a particular animal by a sign of that kind ? It is there that articulation 
steps in. A man has a certain feeling or emotion, for instance ; he strives 
to express it, and utters a sound ; but his utterances are inarticulate What 
are they ? Sounds not yet reduced to law. When they are reduced to law, 
they are articulate. There is no more inarticulate sound than " Boo ;" but 
that in Greek has the meaning of " bulL" There is " " inarticulate, but it 
becomes an articulate sound. The original words of human speech were in- 
articulate sounds, and they were forced by the energy of man's nature, into 
something like order and articulate condition. I therefore should say, with 
all due deference to the arguments that Professor Young has placed before us, 
that primeval language — speaking of course without consideration of what we 
know from revelation — primeval language would be a sort of compound of 
gesture and half-articulate sound ;— gesture to express certain ideas and 
emotions, and sound to express others. One might multiply instances ; but 
to select one. In Hebrew, if the lion is represented, I find the word is the 
expressive sound ari; and in Coptic the Egyptian represents the same animal 
by moui. I find in all such names, in the words employed to express both 
emotions and individual objects, a transition from the inarticulate to the 
articulate states of sounds ; and therefore I suggest, with all due deference 
to the Professor, that his theory has only given us half the truth. Is there 
not a probability, on the other side; that man would invent an articulate 
language ? Many may remember the sceptical question asked by Tindal in 
his Christianity as Old as (he Creation, relative to the miracle of Balaam's 
ass, — how many ideas the ass had? — and how Waterland points Out, in 
answer, that not a syllable is mentioned about ideas ; it is merely said that 
the ass spoke ; and he humorously adds that it probably had as many ideas 




as asses common]/ have, — the number of which, Mr. Tindal might reckon up 
for himself at his leisure* Now, I do not wish man to be considered as being 
in the position of Balaam's ass, uttering sounds without corresponding ideas. 
There is a current of ideas which must pass through the mind of every 
man, civilized or savage ; and the natural striving of his mental being will be 
to express those sounds in some way, partly by gesture and partly by sounds, 
varying from the merely inarticulate to those developed as in the Sanskrit 
and our own language* 

The Chairman.— I shall now call upon Professor Young to reply to the 
observations made, though perhaps I may say that I agree with his paper, and 
think he has most logically carried out all that he attempted to set before us ; 
a matter which I think in some of the replies has been lost sight of* Professor 
Young's paper altogether proceeds as an answer to a certain hypothesis which 
has been brought strongly forward, — namely, that man is derived from the 
monkey, from the lower orders of creation, and in that position he has invented 
language. As I understand Professor Young's argument (and he will correct 
me if I am wrong), he proceeds to answer that hypothesis— his argument is 
altogether founded upon that ; — and it is no answer to him to state what man 
would do in a civilized state, or if created in that state ; for it does not touch his 
hypothesis. His argument is, if man was in such a low position as that, he would 
take that which is natural and not artificial. He maintains thatspoken language 
is as arbitrary in its character as the signs which the deaf and dumb acquire in 
the finger alphabet. He shows us that the deaf and dumb possess one language 
with people who speak, a gesture-language, which would be sufficient for un- 
civilized man, and that having a natural language, man would not be forced 
to invent an artificial one. And I think all the arguments of the paper would 
stand in all their strength if he omitted everything with regard to the deaf 
and dumb. I do not think that altogether the case of Mr. Reddie's friend so 
far contradicts Professor Young's examples. It depends upon the different 
circumstances in which the deaf and dumb person is placed. This deaf and 
dumb gentleman I suppose was in an educated family, and he found it con- 
venient to keep up the language he possessed, rather than give to others 
the pain of spelling out their words ; and I can easily conceive that as 
a child brought up that way, he was forced by a kind of necessity to use 
language, however disagreeable at the time. Dr. Kitto recovered his 
language when forced upon him by a similar necessity, and I think the same 
kind of necessity which caused Dr. Kitto to recover his language would 
have also caused Mr. Reddie's example to do the same. 

Professor Younck — Mr. Vice-President, you have anticipated a good deal 
of what I should say in reply on this subject With reference to Mr. 
Warington's observations, I have little to say, because he has not kept to the 
hypothesis on which I started* He instances a case of man in a civilized 
state, who had got very considerably in advance and ahead of the people I 
had constructed my observations upon, and I have nothing to say to that. 
As to the interesting letter that Mr. Reddie has read from this gentleman 
who became deaf so young, that is one instance in opposition to those two 


instances I have given. That gentleman says that he has continued to 
cultivate his language notwithstanding his loss of hearing. I think you will 
find that that is rather a remarkable case, because I have had a great deal 
of experience with persons in that condition. I am sure I have held inti- 
mate conversation with at least four hundred deaf and dumb persons, and 
that is a large amount of experience. Everything I have said in this paper 
has been the result of that enlarged experience, and not the reflecting upon 
the matter merely for a few weeks. I have long, from intimate and lengthened 
consideration of the phenomena presented, entertained the convictions I have 
come to. There has been a great deal of theorizing on this subject. I cannot 
but say that much I have heard is purely theoretical, for I do not think a 
single speaker in reference to this paper has had any experience with the 
deaf and dumb. They may have had intercourse occasionally with one or two, 
but as for any amount of experience that would warrant anything like deductions 
for a trustworthy theory or statement, I do not think that such experience has 
been possessed by any person" who has made observations on this paper. In 
reference to what has been said respecting a primitive race or community of 
persons having no speech, but hearing, that they would frame a language, 
partly gestural and partly vocal, I think, to a certain extent, that is likely. 
I have not the slightest doubt they would give sound-names to every 
sounding object, but they would consider it ridiculous to give a sound- 
name to a soundless object. And as for not giving a gestural name to an 
animal, I think that is very simple. Every animal I have seen, I can 
describe by signs. If I want a horse, what have I to imitate but the ambling 
of the horse ? or a dog, what but to imitate the action that we generally 
perceive in a dog ? Or, if a cat, the whiskers and the stroking of the cat ; 
the cow, by the milking operation ; thus distinguishing the cow from the 
bullock. [The appropriate signs were here given.] And I say there is no 
difficulty in giving a gestural description of any animal thatjias been seen. 
The deaf and dumb are extremely expert in this method of description ; and 
I remember an instance in which a deaf and dumb boy explained to his com- 
panion that he had for the first time seen a steamboat, and he gave a rough 
but very ingenious idea of the motion of the boat. This was done by 
covering the back of the left hand with the palm of the right, advancing the 
hands thus placed with a wave-like movement, and giving a rotary motion to 
the thumbs. [These gestures were exhibited.] 

The Meeting was then adjourned to 3rd December. 



ORDINAKY MEETING, December 3, 1866. 
The Rev. Walter Mitchell, Vice-President, in the Chair. 

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed, after which 
the following Papers were read by the Honorary Secretary in the absence of 
the Authors : — 

English, M.A., Mem. Vict. Inst. 

AGREEMENT as to fundamental principles underlying 
miraculous interpositions of the Almighty is very de- 
sirable. We want a philosophy of miracles — a foundation 
wide enough to admit even the sceptic. Not that I would 
advocate the abandonment of a single point that is tenable ; 
but, instead of arguing, for example, with a Theistic writer, 
that "all things are possible with God," and, upon this 
foundation, proceed to defend the miracles of the Bible, 
I would seek rather for some basis that accords with ac- 
knowledged principles of philosophy, and take my stand upon 

In dealing with opponents of revelation it would also tend 
to the simplification of points at issue, were the. various 
objections urged against miracles classified under appropriate 
heads. For example, the. cloudy array of direct and implied 
assaults in Mr. Baden Powell's Essay in Essays and Reviews, 
would appear much smaller if arranged, as they might bo, 
under the three heads of objections drawn from moral, met a- 
physical, and physical considerations. The question of the 
historical fact of miracles, and their evidential value, would 
fall under the first head; the bearing of the nature aud 
attributes of God upon miraculous interposition would fall 
under the second ; and the question of the compatibility of 
the facts and discoveries in physical science with a belief 
in miracles, would fall under the third. These questions 
would, doubtless, be found to interlace in minute discussion ; 
but such a classification would have two advantages, — it 
would be convenient, and also tend to keep before the mind 


facts and principles which we are in danger of undervaluing 
or forgetting. , For example, while Mr. Powell is loud and 
frequent in praise of what he calls "those grander concep- 
tions of the order of nature, those comprehensive primary 
elements of all physical knowledge, those ultimate ideas of 
universal causation, which can only be familiar to those tho- 
roughly versed in cosmical philosophy in its widest sense," 
he is not above stepping occasionally out of this " grander" 
position to admit objections from humbler considerations of 
a moral and metaphysical kind. Physical science contains 
in fact but a part, and not the whole, of the scientific prin- 
ciples involved in the acceptance or rejection of miracles. 

Definition of Miracles. 

It is of primary importance to define what we mean by a 
miracle. Yet the task is not easy. Like faith, a miracle 
scarcely admits of strict logical definition. But if we regard 
miracles as direct, mediate, and providential, a definition may 
be given that will suit all practical purposes. By a direct 
miracle is meant such as God wrought immediately or without 
the intervention of second causes ; as the act of creation. By 
a mediate miracle is meant such as God wrought through 
the instrumentality of chosen agents, as Prophets and 
Apostles; abundant instances of which are to be found in 
Holy Scripture. By a providential miracle is meant such as 
God wrought by means of second causes, combined in an 
" unusual manner ; as the advent of the swarm of flies or cloud of 
locusts in Egypt, — events that could be explained upon natural 
principles. Their evidential force as miracles lay in the occa- 
sion and circumstances of their production, and particularly 
in the foreknowledge displayed in their prediction and fulfil- 
ment at a given time and for a specified purpose. A Bible 
miracle, then, may be defined — " an event having for its 
efficient cause the active power of God exercised directly, 
mediately, or providentially, for the accomplishment of moral 
ends, among free agent3." 

All such statements as " violations " of nature, or events 
" contrary to nature," adopted by Mr. Powell, ought to be 
discarded. They do not describe a miracle in any sense; 
for it is neither a "violation" of, nor "contrary" to, na- 
ture. The expression " laws of nature " is misleading and 

" Nature," for example, is used sometimes to include the 
active operations of Deity, direct and mediate (natura natwans), 
and in this sense it may include miracles. Bishop Butler used 


the term nature in this sense, but not to include miracles. 
He said,—- " The only distinct meaning of the word natural 
is stated, fixed, or settled; since what is natural as much 
requires and presupposes an intelligent agent to render it 
so, that is, to effect it continually, or at stated times, as what 
is supernatural or miraculous does to effect it for once"* 
Then, again, " nature" is sometimes used to include simply 
the works of nature (natura naturata). But even here the 
term is ambiguous and variously modified, for it is some- 
times made to include both mind and matter ; at other times 
it is used of matter to the exclusion of mind. " The term 
nature (said Sir W. Hamilton) is used sometimes in a wider, 
sometimes in a narrower extension. When employed in its 
most extensive meaning, it embraces the two worlds of mind 
and matter. When employed in its more restricted significa- 
tion, it is a synonym for the latter only, and is then used in 
contradistinction to the former .... With us the term 
nature is more vaguely extensive than the terms physics, 
physical, physiology, physiological, or even the adjective 
natural; whereas, in the philosophy of Germany, Natur and 
its correlatives, whether of Greek or Latin derivation, are, in 
general, expressive of matter in contrast to the world of 


Then, again, not only is the question of miracles often 

clouded by this ambiguous tertn "nature," but we have 
another word, " law," used as vaguely. " All things (said 
Hooker) that have some operation, not violent or casual, — that, 
which doth assign unto each thing the kind, that which doth 
moderate the force and power, that which doth appoint the 
form and measure of working, the same we term a law."J 
" It is a perversion of language (said Dr. Paley) to assign 
any law as the efficient operative cause of anything/' § " The 
rules of navigation (said Dr. Eeid) never steered a ship, and 
the law of gravity never moved a planet." " Those who go 
about (said Hale) to attribute the origination of mankind (or 
any other effect) to a bare order or law of nature as the primi- 
tive effecter thereof, speak that which is perfectly irrational 
and unintelligible ; for although a law or rule is the method 
and order by which an intelligent being may act, yet a law, or 
rule, or order, is a dead, unactive, uneffective thing of itself, 
without an agent that useth it, and exerciseth it as his rule 
and method of action." || " In the language of modern 

* Anal., ch. i. t Reid's Works, p. 206, note. 

t Ecc. PoL, book I. § Nat Theol., ch. i. 

|| Prim, Origin, Horn., ch. vii 


science (said Dugald Stewart) the established order in the 
succession of physical events is commonly referred (by a sort 
of figure or metaphor) to the general laws of nature. It is a 
mode of speaking extremely convenient from its conciseness, 
but it is apt to suggest to the fancy a groundless, and indeed 
absurd analogy between the material and moral worlds. In 
those political associations from which the metaphor is 
borrowed, the laws are addressed to rational and voluntary 
agents, who are able to comprehend their meaning, and regu- 
late their conduct accordingly; whereas, in the material 
universe the subjects of our observation are understood by all 
men to be unconscious and passive. .... If the word law, 
therefore, be in suoh instances literally interpreted, it must 
mean a uniform operation, prescribed by the Deity to Himself; 
and it has accordingly been explained in this sense by some of 
our best philosophical writers, particularly by Dr. Clarke."* "A 
law (said Dr. Whewell) supposes an agent and a person ; for it 
is the mode according to which the agent proceeds, the order 
according to which the power acts. Without the presence of 
such a power, conscious of the relations on which the law 
depends, producing the effects which the law prescribes, the 
law can have no efficacy, no existence. Hence we infer that 
the intelligence by which the law is ordained, the power by 
which it is put into action must be present at all times and in 
all places, where the effects * of the law occur ; that thus the 
knowledge of the agency of the Divine Being pervades every 
portion of the universe, producing all action and passion, all 
permanence and change. The laws of matter are the laws 
which He, in His wisdom, prescribes to His own acts ; His 
universal presence is the necessary condition of any course of 
events ; His universal agency, the only organ of any efficient 


Taking, then, " law " in this, its true philosophical sense, 
and the term " nature " as including both mind and matter, it 
will be difficult to conceive in what sense a miracle can be said 
to €t violate the laws of nature," or be " contrary to nature." 
The laws of nature are not causes, but courses — they are not 
efficient forces. Yet they are often spoken of in this decep- 
tive sense. They cannot, with strictness or propriety, bo con- 
fined to the material world. Yet this appears to be the sense 
in which they are commonly understood when miracles are said 
to be opposed to them. The mind of man has its " natural" 
laws, as well as the material world ; hence we have a philosophy 

* Phil, of the Human Mind, pp. 393-4. 
f Astron., p. 361. 


of mind as well as of matter. The laws of nature comprise 
that mental, moral, and material order, according to which all 
things are carried on. A miracle cannot be " contrary " to 
mental laws, if free-agency is a fact. It cannot be " contrary " 
to moral laws, if it is the result of divine energy, put forth for 
ends that are good. It cannot be " contrary " to material 
laws, if it is found to have its place in the eternal purposes of 
God, equally with the succession of day and night, or any of 
those moral and material laws according to which the world is 
governed. There may be intersections among the mental, 
moral, and material laws of nature. There are : — mind acts upon 
matter and controls it, and the whole nature of man is held 
subject to moral law. But a miracle breaks no law when it 
neutralizes or suspends a lower — it falls in rather with the 
general workings of nature. " We have (says Archbishop 
Trench) abundant analogous examples going forward before 
our eyes. Continually we behold in the world around us lower 
laws held in restraint by higher, mechanic by dynamic, 
chemical by vital, physical by moral [ mental ? ] ; yet we do 
not say, where the lower law gives place to the higher, that 
there was any violation of law, or that anything contrary to 
nature came to pass ; rather we acknowledge the law of a 
greater freedom swallowing up the law of the lesser." * This 
passage was said by Mr. Powell to " evince a higher view of 
physical philosophy than we might have expected from the 
mere promptings of philology and literature." I hope that 
we are all desirous of entertaining the very highest view of 
physical philosophy, that is consistent with truth. I was not 
myself aware that the "mere promptings of philology and 
literature " were at all adverse to forming a correct estimate of 
any branch of philosophy. On the contrary, I had always 
thought that precise terms, and accuracy of expression, were 
essential to all branches of philosophy. Mr. Powell was, 
perhaps, right in saying that "physical by moral " in the 
passage from Archbishop Trench, is " not very clear," and I 
would suggest that " physical by mental " might remove the 
point of the objection. The question of miracles, indeed, is inse- 
parable from the question of the existence and supremacy of mind. 
This is the fundamental point, the key to the right understanding 
of the subject and the clearing up of its difficulties. Admit 
the existence and supremacy of mind, and we can account for 
miracles; deny this, and miracles are not only inexplicable 
but impossible. And I believe we become defenders or 
doubters of miracles just in proportion as we retain or lose the 

* On Miracles, ch. il 


fact of the mind's existence and supremacy. The exclusive 

study of physics is calculated to beget materialistic habits of 

thought. Physiology and physics have to do with organized 

and unorganized bodies, and this department of. study implies 

necessity of nature, rather than liberty of intelligence. Tho 

natural bias, therefore, which it is liable to beget in the human 

inind, is one in favour of materialism, and therefore of fatalism. 

Its natural counteractive is in the study of mind. Mr. Grove, 

in his address before the British Association, appeared to 

betray materialistic habits of thought, if not unduly to exalt 

physical science. He said, " While in ethics, in politics, in 

poetry, in sculpture, in painting, we have scarcely, if at all, 

advanced beyond the highest intellects of ancient Greece or 

Italy, how great are the steps we have made in physical science 

and its applications." Now it is only since the time of Bacon 

that physical science has been studied with any degree of 

success. " When we reflect then (said Dugald Stewart) on 

the shortness of tho period during which natural philosophy 

has been successfully cultivated, and, at the same time, how 

open to examination, the laws of matter are, in comparison 

of those which regulate the phenomena of thought, we shall 

(1) neither be disposed to wonder that the philosophy of mind 

should still remain in its infancy, nor (2) be discouraged in our 

hopes respecting its future progress.' 


Mind and Matter. 

If we believe neither in God, Angel, nor Spirit, miracles are 
plainly impossible. But if we admit the existence of God and 
of spiritual beings, and the supremacy of Mind, then miracles 
are, at least, possible. I would not appeal to Divine sovereignty 
and omnipotence in support of miracles, because the argument 
from this source may be questioned by doubters. However 
true the conclusion, the process by which it is arrived at is not 
satisfactory. It is an instance of the vicious circle in the eyes 
of those who have thrown off belief in revelation. It is, there- 
fore, better to seek a foundation, as I think we safely may, 
among facts and principles in the field of philosophical inquiry. 

Perhaps I cannot define very satisfactorily to myself what I 
mean by mind, as distinct from matter; but I know that I 
think, feel, hope, desire, and will, and I feel an irresistible con- 
viction that my thoughts, feelings, hopes, desires, and volitions 
all belong to one and the same being, viz., myself These 
phenomena, I believe, exhibit the qualities of mind, and prove 
its existence as convincingly as extension, colour, hardness, &c, 
prove the existence of matter. At least, I cannot feel more 


certain of the existence of matter than I do of mind. If I 
am to draw a distinction, I feel the evidence for mind to be 
stronger than the evidence for matter; for the former rests 
upon my own consciousness of subjective facts, while the 
latter rests upon my perceptions of what is, or what is thought 
to be, objective. I cannot, then, deny the Ego, and claim 
with any share of reason to believe in the non-ego. The non- 
ego is the phenomena exhibited to my senses, the subject- 
matter of physical science. The ego is the phenomena 
presented by my own consciousness, the subject - matter of 
mental and metaphysical science. "The evidence for the 
existence of mind (said Lord Brougham) is to the full as 
complete as that upon which we believe in the existence of 
matter. Indeed, it is more certain, and more irrefra- 

Materialists, however, have doubted the separate existence 
of mind, notwithstanding its greater rapidity of movement, 
and the phenomena presented by it. But the attempt ha3 
been illogical, the very points in dispute being taken for 
granted, as a basis to argue upon. If we suppose the sub- 
stance said to have the qualities of thinking, feeling, &c., to 
be the same as the substance which is said to have extension, 
hardness, &c, this supposition only proves the impotence of 
materialism to grapple with its difficulties. Why should not 
these two substances underlying the two different kinds of 
phenomena, if they are to be considered as one and not two, 
be mind, after all, and not matter ? To quote Lord Brougham 
again on this point : — " We only know the existence of matter 
through the operations of mind ; and were we to doubt of the 
existence of either, it would be far more reasonable to doubt 
that matter exists than that mind exists. The existence of 
the operations of mind (supposing mind to exist) will account 
for all the phenomena which matter is supposed to exhibit ; but 
the existence and action of matter, vary it how we may, will 
never account for one of the phenomena of mind."t 

However, I am glad to feel myself at liberty to pass over 
this point, because natural philosophers have given up the 
question of substance, and confined themselves to the pheno- 
mena exhibited, and the laws deducible therefrom ; and we 
may follow their example, and leave out of the question the 
nature of mind, confining ourselves to the phenomena it ex- 
hibits, and the laws deducible therefrom. The two sciences 
admit of precisely the same inductive principles, and may be 
prosecuted safely side by side. The law of gravity in the one 

* Discourse on Nat. Theol., p. 56. t JW& p. 106. 


field has its analogy in the laws of association in the other. 
Neither field has been barren of fruits, and a student in the 
one need not undervalue the labours of a student in the 

It is obvious that miracles are impossible upon the principles 
of materialism. Are they to be considered impossible or un- 
reasonable upon the principles underlying a belief in mind ? 
This appears to me to be the question, for although doubters 
of miracles have mainly relied upon materialistic arguments, 
which, if pushed, would go far towards subjecting mind to 
matter, or excluding it from our books and papers, still I 
believe most of them would repudiate all sympathy with mate- 
rialism. We have therefore to meet objectors who will grant 
the position which we have taken up thus far in reference to 

Now the two worlds of mind and matter, with their sepa- 
rate facts and phenomena, must be taken into account in the 
settlement of the question of miracles, because no man ever 
contended that miracles were possible apart from mind and 
free agency. It is preposterous to attempt to settle this 
question, connected as it is with the power and spontaneity 
of mind or will, by an appeal to the bare order or course of 
nature in its material aspect. Yet this is neither more nor 
less than what is attempted mainly to be done by the oppo- 
nents of miracles in the present day. "Whatever the value of 
their conclusion may bo, it cannot be said to follow from their 
premisses. Instead of the conclusion that miracles are scienti- 
fically impossible, following, as Mr. Powell asserted, from the 
" higher laws of thought," I venture to affirm that that conclu- 
sion, in his own essay, was drawn in contravention of the first 
principles of legitimate argumentation. 

The supremacy of mind is a thing of daily experience. We 
know that the laws of nature are under the control of our own 
will to a limited extent. We are able to control the forces of 
nature so as to produce what results we please. Matter bows 
in subjection to the human will. Eesults are brought about, 
which in the first instance, it is allowed, are traceable to mate- 
rial or second causes ; but when these results are traced back- 
wards, we arrive at last at the human will as their sole efficient 
cause, acting upon the human body, and through it upon ex- 
ternal nature. Here, then, we have an avreZovcriov or sui 
potestas, which supplies us with the foundation of a legitimate 
argument from the less to the greater, in favour of miracles. 
The power of the Supreme Win exceeds that of man by an 
infinite difference, and the freedom of the Divine Will must be 
commensurate with Divine power. Miracles, then, as effects 


having for their efficient cause the active power of God, are 
not only possible, but, a priori, probable, from the limited 
share of freedom and power which we know by experience 
we have. We cannot conceive of a God of freedom never 
exercising that freedom. Providence implies the constant 
exercise of freedom. Without such an exercise there could 
be nothing for us here below but fate. But this is con- 
trary to the facts of human consciousness and the results of 
mental study. Physical science might — if taken alone, it 
would — lead to fatalism ; but the higher science of mind sup- 
plies the counteractive to this uninviting, one-sided view of 
nature, and leads the inquirer onwards to the great law of 
freedom. We know we are free, and we cannot, without an 
absurdity, suppose man, who was made in the likeness of 
God, to be free to control the forces of nature, while He who 
made man is not so. As to material nature, it is, of pur- 
pose apparently, endued with a certain elasticity. The 
orbits of the heavenly bodies bulge and flatten within a 
given sphere ; so do the laws of nature, without any general 
disturbance, bend before the will of man. This elasticity 
appears to have been necessary for the harmonious working 
and general stability of the universe. So may the moral re- 
quirements of man have necessitated miracles to instruct 
him in the knowledge of Divine things. Our social and 
domestic well-being stands in need of the power and play 
over matter which we know we have ; so may our moral and 
religious well - being stand in need of that freedom which 
miracles and the providential care of the great God imply 
and presuppose. And the fact that we are formed with mind 
and will, and the power to exercise a certain control over 
nature's forces for our own happiness and good, warrants the 
inference that our Maker is not only able but willing to suc- 
cour and defend us where our own freedom and power cannot 
reach. He knew from all eternity, doubtless, not only the 
laws which He proposed to give to matter, but also the wants 
of His intelligent and moral creatures. He had, doubtless, 
a care both for the world's general working and also man's 
benefit. What seems to us irregular, as miracles, cannot 
possibly be so to Him, with whom there is no past nor future, 
but simply an Eternal now — an Omnipresent here. Miracles 
are the effects of His own free will and power, and they may 
fall in with higher and wider laws than mere physical science 
has discovered or can discover. Every separate department 
of science may have a partial unity, but there must be a 
universal science which compares together particular sciences, 
and ascends to the whole pf things. " If there were cnly 


a physical substance, then would physics be the first and the 
only philosophy; but if there be an immaterial and unmoved 
essence which is the ground of all being, then must there be 
also an antecedent, and, because antecedent, an unmoved philo- 
sophy J 9 We agree in the doctrine that nature does nothing 
per saltum ; theology, a term given by Aristotle occasionally 
to what he called the first philosophy, has no hostile bear- 
ing to physical science, it recognizes to the full the state- 
ment natura non operator per saltum; but then it does not 
exclude mind and intelligence when it seeks a basis for the 
unity of science ; on the contrary, it teaches that such unity 
is to be found solely in mind and intelligence, that is say, in 
the Supreme Will of God. 

c, T6 yap Gcoc SokcT ro alnov iratriv cli/cu Kai apxfi Tig, — 
(Arist. met, lib. i. cap. 2.) 

Objections drawn prom Moral Considerations. 

Having stated the principles underlying a belief in miracles, 
it remains that I notice some of the main objections to them, 
drawn from moral, metaphysical, and physical considerations. 
In doing this, I must study brevity as much as possible, lest I 
should exhaust your patience. 

Necessity of Miracles. — Lord Bacon said "that a miracle 
was never yet performed to convert Atheists, because these 
might always arrive at the knowledge of a Deity by the light 
of nature." This remark was just. Upon the hypothesis 
of the fall of man, however, and his consequent need of 
redemption, miracles were antecedently probable. And upon 
the further hypothesis (I put the case in the least dogmatic 
form possible) of a revelation having been given, miracles 
were absolutely necessary. Whether Mr. Powell's remark that 
" Paley took too exclusive a view in asserting that we cannot 
conceive a revelation substantiated in any other way," be true 
or false, it is self-evident that a revelation could not have been 
given except by miracle. It implies in its very nature miracles, 
— the communication of truth otherwise unattainable. The call 
of Abram, which I take to be the origin of the visible Church, 
was supernatural, but not impossible upon the principles of 
this paper. The communication of sacred truth to be written 
down and deposited with the Church was supernatural, but 
not impossible. (I am not here careful to draw any distinction 
between the supernatural and a miracle.) Revelation began of 
necessity by miracle, was continued and ended by miracle. 
An outward visible Church, divinely called, and an outward 


revelation divinely inspired, are correlates,— the one implies the 
other, and each implies a miracle ;— neithqr could have been 
began otherwise. Whatever, therefore, the value of miracles 
as mere evidences may be, they were at least essential to the 
nature both of a divinely-called Church and a divinely-inspired 

The Evidential Value of Miracles. — The value of miracles 
as evidences, says Professor Mansel, " is a question which may 
be differently answered by different believers without preju* 
dice to their common belief. It has pleased the Divine Author 
of the Christian religion to testify His revelation with evi- 
dences of various kinds, appealing with different degrees of 
force to different minds, and even to the same minds at dif- 
ferent times."* This is a sufficient answer to the objection 
that Christian writers are not agreed among themselves as to 
the precise value of miracles as evidences. But as the miracles 
of the Bible profess to move in the sphere of redemptive 
work, and are themselves an essential and necessary part of 
that work, I cannot see how we are to regard them as mere 
evidences only. There may be a few of the miracles of the 
Bible less closely connected with the gift and development of 
revelation than others, but they were all either preparatory to, 
essential parts, or confirmatory of God's revelation and will. 
They cannot, therefore, be viewed apart from the truth itself 
as mere evidences. The greater part of the hundred or more 
miracles in the Old Testament, and the most remarkable of 
them, cluster around the giving of the Law, the Exodus, and 
the times of the prophets, who were inspired to write parts of 
the Old Testament. 

Present Need of Miracles. — It has been objected that miracles, 
if needed at all, were never more necessary than at this present 
time. "When were miracles (it was asked in Essays and 
Reviews) more needed than in the present day to indicate the 
truth amid manifest error, or to propagate the faith ? "t In 
this question, I think, there are confounded the gift and de- 
velopment of revelation, with a free acceptance of it; the 
facts of its divine nature and bestowal with its actual propa- 
gation. The faith, if it had to be propagated in every age by 
miracle, would require nothing short of continuous miracles ; 
which is absurd. But it would be very hard to conceive of 
any miracle which could possibly be of service to those who 
affirm that " testimony is but a blind guide"— that "the 
essential question of miracles stands quite apart from any 
testimony " — that " if we had the testimony of our senses to 
an alleged miracle, it would not establish it." The objection, 

* Aids to Faith. f Pp- 126-6. 


indeed, is idle in the face of these assertions, for u where 
Moses and the Prophets " are not heard in faith, we are plainly 
told " neither would " the objector " be persuaded though one 
rose from the dead " to convince him. As to the question, 
" Ought any moral truth to be received in mere obedience to 
a miracle of sense ? "* — I cannot conceive of any antagonism 
between our moral sentiments and such a display of Divine 
Power as a miracle implies ; but if it is meant to be insinuated 
that moral perception is completely dissociated from sensi- 
tivity, then I can but answer that I know of no theorist in 
morals who has held such a monstrous and absurd position, 
either in ancient or modern times. Mr. Powell divorced faith 
and philosophy, and this last quotation implies apparently, a 
divorce between morality and sense. What the ethical resi- 
duum would be, we are not informed. But the spiritual and 
moral parts of our nature are too much bound up with our 
material economy to admit of any wild theorizing of this kind. 
The supernatural is not so far removed as the materialist would 
have us believe. Though miracles are not now wrought for 
social and moral ends, we have a constant Providence, and 
therefore a Supreme Will in constant play and activity— 

— km yap r y ovap itc Aiog lam** 

That " even a dream is from God " is old, in profane authors, 
as Homer. The revelation of future events is a thing of rare 
occurrence ; but it happens sometimes, and when it does hap- 
pen, the law of suggestion can no more account for it than tho 
law of gravitation. We know of no other way of accounting 
for it, than by assuming that it is Deity communicating tho 
future to our minds. The mode of communication is not easily 
explained, it is hidden from us, like the link which binds to- 
gether cause and effect in physics ; the fact of such commu- 
nications, however, is, as Mr. Morell has said, " an internal 
phenomenon, perfectly consistent" (no doubt) "with tho 
natural laws of the human mind," though, it should be added, 
not to be explained by them. 

The Morality of Miracles. — Miracles being connected with 
ends that are moral, must be themselves moral in their nature. 
In the old dispensation, they partook of the severity of the 
law as well as of its holiness ; in the new, they are almost 
universally examples of mercy and redemptive power. The 
death of the firstborn sounds a little harsh, but it was no doubt 
an act of retributive justice, dealt back as a blow in return 

* Essays and Reviews, p. 147. 


for the death of the male children when Moses was born. It 
was but a carrying out of the moral law, which sanctions the 
" visiting of the sins of the fathers npon the children." I 
would not be guilty of the impiety of calling in question the 
goodness of God ; but I may be permitted, in reply to an ob- 
jection sometimes urged against the miracles of the Old Tes- 
tament, to say, that the loss of life by earthquakes, storms, 
plague, and lightning at unknown and irregular periods, 
might be and has been brought against the book of nature 
with far greater force than anything said or done in the Bible 
can be urged against revelation. Yet no one who believes 
in God doubts that the earthquake and storm are parts of His 

Reason and Testimony. — Mr. Powell said, " testimony can 
avail nothing against reason." " The question would remain 
the same if we had the evidence of our senses to an alleged 
miracle." " It is not the mere fact, but the cause or explana- 
tion of it, which is the point at issue." 

By " reason" I suppose we are here to understand the 
conclusions arrived at from physical science, against which 
" testimony" is said to avail nothing. Yet this very science 
itself is built upon " testimony " and observation. The truth 
is, that all reasoning whatsoever must rest upon authority ov 
testimony of some kind. The data of reason do not rest 
upon reason, but are of necessity accepted by it, on the 
authority of what is beyond itself, viz., faith. But if it were 
true that " testimony " can avail nothing against " reason" 
where there is any antagonism, it must yet be proved that 
such antagonism exists when we accept miracles upon proper 
evidence. This proof, however, is not yet forthcoming, 
and we may wait with perfect calmness. In the general or 
abstract, reason itself depends upon faith and testimony for 
its data, and the postulate that " testimony is but a blind guide" 
can hardly be a safe one. 

Objections drawn from Metaphysical Considerations. 

The objections of a metaphysical kind that have been urged 
are mostly such as are drawn from particular views of the 
Divine attributes, as the Wisdom, Power, and Unchangeable- 
ness of God. The Divine attributes are conclusions arrived 
at from natural and revealed religion. The Divine Sovereignty 
follows as an inference from recognized views of the Divine 
attributes, — it can scarcely be called an attribute of itself, and 
I would prefer to speak of it as a prerogative contained in or 
dcducible from the Divine attributes. I would never appeal 


to it, therefore, in any sense otherwise than is compatible with 
received views of the Divine attributes. 

The Divine Wisdom has been said to be opposed to miracles, 
" on the plea that our ideas of the Divine perfections must 
directly discredit the notion of occasional interposition ; that 
it is derogatory to the idea of infinite wisdom to suppose an 
order of things so imperfectly established that it must be 
occasionally interrupted and violated when the necessity of 
the case compelled, as the emergency of a revelation was 
imagined to do."* Putting aside the "interpositions" implied 
in the belief in a Divine Providence, I do not know how this 
objection could be made to square with the views of some 
eminent professors in physical science, with such a passage, for 
example, as the following from Professor W. Thomson : — 

" (1) There is at present in the natural world a universal tendency to the 
dissipation of mechanical energy. (2) Any restoration of mechanical energy, 
without more than equivalent dissipation, is impossible in inanimate material 
processes, and is probably never effected by means of organized matter, 
either endowed with vegetable life or subjected to the will of an animated 
creature. (3) Within a finite period of time past, the earth must have been, 
and within a finite period of time to come, the earth must again be, unfit for 
the habitation of man as at present constituted, unless operations have been 
or are to be performed, which are impossible under the laws to which the 
known operations going on at present in the material world are subject."f 

Those who deify the laws of nature might do well to consider 
this passage. It does not fall in certainly with the spirit of 
this objection to miracles, in answer to which I would make 
three remarks. First, it is founded upon that misrepresenta- 
tion which persists in calling a miracle a " violation " of the 
" established order of things." Secondly, it confounds appa- 
rently physical " imperfections " with the moral wants of man ; 
a course well suited to create prejudice in the public mind, 
but one which can have no other tendency than that of con- 
cealing the truth. Thirdly, this very objection urged against 
revelation, and miracles in particular, lies open, with whatever 
force it has, against the book of nature and the creed of the 
Theist who brings it. The "order of things" is charged 
with " imperfection," if we suppose it to have stood in need 
of any revelation or miracle. This supposition, it is said, 
would be " contrary to our ideas of the Divine perfections," 
u derogatory to the idea of Infinite Wisdom /" Divesting 
ourselves, then, of all ideas of revelation or miracle, let us 

* Essays and Reviews, p. 136. (The Italics are my own.) 
t Trans, of the Royal Soc. of Edin., 1852. 



think for one moment upon the faot of absence or defect in the 
powers and capacities of ten thousand created beings, even 
in this age, when progress has got so far as to have forwarded 
man, according to some, from an ape or monkey beginning, to 
what he is now. The different grades of animals beneath U3 
are wanting in that higher enjoyment which, with a more 
" perfect " nature, they might have had. All sentient and 
living beings are " imperfect " and limited in their natures. 
What follows then ? Why we have, according to the Theist's 
objection to miracles, ground to impeach the "Divine wisdom;" 
the "established order of things" bears marks of "imper- 
fection," that is to say, metaphysical evil ; for 

There's nothing situate under heaven's eye, 
But hath its bounds in earth, in sea, in sky. 

But we find, besides " imperfection," also pain ; here again, 
therefore, the " Divine perfections " are at variance, according 
to the objector, with the " established order of things," for it 
is " clogged" with. physical evil. There are, it is true, com- 
pensating considerations; enjoyment may be heightened by 
suffering, and even death itself rendered easy by a little pre- 
paration on a bed of pain ; yet the fact of death and previous 
suffering remains, that is to say, physical evil. And, further, 
the Theist has also moral evil to " clog " his own system. He 
is troubled, not only with imperfections, with suffering, but 
also with sin. Man came into existence like other organized 
beings, we believe, under a law suited to him as a moral agent ; 
he was endued with knowledge and understanding, with free- 
dom to obey or disobey. But he did not follow the law of his 
nature — he does not do so now — he violates that law and falls 
into sin. " What then shall we say to these things ? Shall 
the thing formed (man with a free-will leading him into sin) 
say to Him who formed it, Why hast thou made me thus ?" 
This charge would be as reasonable as that against " Divine 
wisdom," against " our ideas of the Divine perfections," on 
the hypothesis of miracles. " The order of things " is not 
freed from " imperfections " when miracles are taken out of 
the way. 

As to the unchangeableness of God, it has no special bearing 
upon the question of miracles. The Theist, or the advocate 
of " continuity," is as much open to its difficulties as the 
Christian apologist. If God, from all eternity, purposed that 
the race of man should make progress from an obscure begin- 
ning, He may also have purposed that miracles should have 
their place and use on the great theatre of time. God must 
have a purpose, and that purpose must be fixed; but it may 


have conditions which admit of human freedom being played 
in its own orbit or within prescribed limits. There is, we are 
sure, freedom even in dependence. The Almighty's omni- 
potence does not swallow up that limited power which He 
has assigned to man. His omnipresence does not blot from 
existence that place which we, His creatures, occupy in space 
and time ; His omniscience does not absorb nor quench that 
little light which our reason gives us ; in short, the infinite 
does not annihilate the finite; otherwise, dependence would 
find no place in which to write its name, Divine Sovereignty 
no creature over which to exercise its just control. The 
unchangeableness of God must, therefore, be viewed in its 
relation to other things, such as the Divine purpose. 

There is yet another objection from metaphysics that pro- 
perly falls to be noticed here. No testimony, it has been objected, 
can reach to the supernatural, and therefore no miracle can be 
proved by the evidence of sense. This objection was urged 
for another purpose in a famous atheistical work (Systeme de la 
Nature) published in 1780. The writer, said Lord Brougham, 
" began by endeavouring to establish the most rigorous mate- 
rialism, by trying to show that there is no such thing as mind. 
The whole fabric is built upon this foundation ; and it would 
be difficult to find in the history of metaphysical controversies, 
such inconclusive reasoning, and such undisguised assumptions 
of the matter in dispute, as this fundamental part of his system 
is composed of. He begins by asserting that man has no 
means of carrying his mind beyond the visible world, that he is 
necessarily confined within its limits. He asserts what is 
absolutely contrary to every day's experience, and to the first 
rudiments of science — that we know, and can know, nothing 
but what our senses tell us."* In Essays and Reviews the 
objection against miracles (not mind) stands thus : " No testi- 
mony can reach to the supernatural ; testimony can only apply 
to apparent sensible facts ; testimony can only prove an extra- 
ordinary and perhaps inexplicable occurrence or phenomenon ; 
that it is due to supernatural causes is entirely dependent on 
the previous belief and assumption of the parties/'*t The 
objection, that we " can know nothing but what our senses 
tell us," appears to me to, be the same as saying that " testi- 
mony can only apply to apparent sensible facts :" but in the 
former case it was urged to get rid of mind, in the latter, to 
get rid of miracles. But Mr. Powell professed to believe in 
mind ; he held that there is a world of intelligence — vonr6v, as 

* Discourse on Nat. Theol. ; note, p. 235. 
t Pp. 127, 128. 

x 2 


well as a world of sense, — bparov. The difficulty which occurs 
to my mind is, how, upon the principles of this objection to 
miracles, he could believe in those grand truths of physical 
science which he parades so ostentatiously. Were we to confine 
ourselves to bare facts, — "the testimony of sense," — even 
physical science itself must stand still ; for how could we arrive 
at the conception of a general law ? Generalization involves 
a principle which experience or testimony neither does nor can 
give. If, then, we cannot get outside "apparent sensible 
facts," if evidence is bounded by the region of the sensible, 
those very conclusions of physical science which are brought 
against miracles can have no foundation to rest upon. But if, 
on the contrary, we can rise to the conception of a general 
law, and so leave behind us the region of the sensible, may 
we not also rise to the conception of the supernatural, when 
we see works performed in the name of God which no man 
ever could of himself perform ? 

Mr. Morell, a writer of philosophic acuteness, thinks that 
Divine or religious truth is not received through the medium 
of the senses or common understanding, but deep down in our 
intuitive consciousness ; and there may be truth in this so far 
as it relates to the theory of inspiration ; no doubt the highest 
mental faculties, as the reason and conscience, are the media 
of Divine communications. And in the case of miracles the 
presence and aid of God, though unseen, may yet be felt, — it 
was so when the Apostle said, " In the name of Jesus Christ 
of Nazareth, rise up and walk." * Here the Apostle disclaimed 
the power to work the miracle himself, and he had " expe- 
rience," if not " testimony," reaching directly to the super- 
natural. Of course a spectator could not have this experience, 
and the difference between present and past time has, in our 
case, removed from the region even of the " sensible " to the 
region of what is only " credible," the evidence for the miracles 
of the Bible. But a spectator at the time, or a believer now, 
in the fact of this lame man's cure, may ascend by legitimate 
reasoning to the supernatural as the only adequate efficient 
cause. The passage translated by Sir W. Hamilton from a 
German work, and quoted by Professor Mansel, is worthy of 
being repeated: — "Nature conceals God; for, through her 
whole domain, Nature reveals only fate, only an indissoluble 
chain of mere efficient causes, without beginning and without 
end, excluding with equal necessity both Providence and 
chance. An independent agency, a free original commence- 
ment within her sphere, and proceeding from her powers, is 

* Acts, iii. 6. 


absolutely impossible. . . . Man reveals God ; for man by 
his intelligence rises above Nature ; and, in virtue of this in- 
telligence, is conscious of himself as a power, not only inde- 
pendent of, but opposed to Nature, and capable of resisting, 
conquering, and controlling her. As man has a living faith in 
this power superior to Nature, which dwells in him, so has he 
a belief in God, a feeling, an experience of His existence. As 
he does not believe in this power, so does he not believe in 
God; he sees, ho experiences nought in existence but Nature — 
necessity — fate." 

From facts within we rise to thoughts of God. The sensible 
gives us knowledge of the external world. But the mind, in 
virtue of its own intuition and energy, rises from effects to 
causes. When it rises from effects to causes, it does so by 
reasoning, as strictly and properly so called, as the inductive 
philosopher in the process of generalization. Distance is not 
seen; it is inferred in the mind. Anger is not seen; it is 
inferred from the expression of the countenance. And God, 
the Author of miracles, is not seen, yet His presence and 
power are inferred from His works. 

Objections drawn from Physical Considerations. 

The results of physical science have been represented as 
hostile to faith in miracles. Mr. Powell repeated again and 
again, in round, b.old statements, without a fragment of argu- 
ment or proof, that such hostility does exist. I have not, 
however, myself been able to discover any argument against 
faith in miracles from this source. " The grand truth of the 
universal order and constancy of natural causes " is beside the 

Tilings which differ. — Mr. J. S. Mill confounds, in his chapter 
on Induction, (see his Logic,) two things essentially different, 
and Mr. Powell, in his Essay, has done the same ; viz. belief 
in causation with belief in the uniformity of nature. Necessary 
and contingent truths are not distinguished. That every 
effect must have a cause is an intuitive truth, self-evident and 
necessary ; that the operations of nature must be uniform, is 
neither an intuitive truth, self-evident, nor necessary. Belief 
in causation is a fundamental law of the human mind; uni- 
formity of operation in nature is a thing simply of experience. 
We could conceive of nature's operations being different from 
what tliey are without any violation of the fundamental laws 
of human belief. As to miracles, the question is simply one 
of fact : the Bible affirms that miracles have been wrought, 
and physical science has done nothing to disprove the Bible's 


testimony upon this point. Physical science does not touch 
the question as to the historical fact of miracles, and it has not 
attempted to explain them. It has left them simply where 
they were a century ago. I believe in the " grand truth/' 
repeated so often and needlessly by Mr. Powell, " of the uni- 
versal order and constancy of natural causes." It is " fixed, in 
my windy so firmly that I cannot conceive of the possibility of 
its failure," when left to itself. A miracle has nothing to do 
with this "constancy/' or reverse, of "natural causes" — it is 
simply the fact, or otherwise, of personal agency producing 
special results. The phenomena produced by "natural 
causes," that is, viewed as effects proceeding from merely 
physical causes, are of necessity uniform and constant, being 
subject to the law of necessity as opposed to the law of free- 
dom j but the phenomena of mind or -personal agency are the 
reverse — they are not of necessity uniform, being subject to 
the law of freedom as opposed to the law of necessity. It 
matters not what hypothesis is accepted to explain the 
efficiency or activity of " natural causes." Mr. Stewart 
enumerated six, and the law of natural selection and struggle 
for existence, perhaps, might be called a seventh hypothesis ; 
but whether we accept materialism, or the explanation that 
the phenomena of nature result from certain powers com- 
municated to matter at its first formation, or that the pheno- 
mena proceed from general laws, or that the universe is a sort 
of machine put in motion, and so constructed that the multi- 
plicity of effects which we see are all to be traced to one 
original ac€ of sovereign power, — I say it matters not which, 
nor what hypothesis we accept ; they all come under the law 
of necessity ; and are, therefore, foreign to the question before 
us. Physics without mind may exclude the question of 
miracles ; but physics alone can do nothing, either to argue or 
settle such a question. 

The real point. — Does the natural Exclude the supernatural ? 
Are natural causes and effects so arranged as not to allow the 
intervention of mind and personal agency ? Gravity draws all 
bodies to the earth, but man puts forth his hand and arrests 
the falling apple at will. Mr. Powell, however, affirmed that 
"miracles are -inconceivable to reason," opposed to "the 
primary laws of human belief." But by what primary law of 
belief we are required to reject miracles without looking at 
their evidence, is not said. The statements in Essays and 
Reviews are naked and bold enough; but when we search for 
argument, we find appeals to fact where reason fails, and 
appeals to reason where facts are wanting. Miracles are not 
" inconceivable to reason ; " we have no intuitive principles in 


the mind which compel us to reject them. On the contrary, 
when an effect is produced which cannot be accounted for on 
natural principles, the mind rises naturally from the greatness 
of the work to a supernatural cause. Neither have we any 
experience to urge in behalf of the objection to miracles. We 
have discovered uniformity of working among certain agencies, 
and we have discovered diversity of operations proceeding 
from the will of man. If it is replied, God does not work 
except by His laws in the economy of material nature, we 
demand in vain from Physical Science either reason or proof 
for such an assertion. God's will is expressed in His material 
works — whoever said it was not ? But when it is asserted 
that His will is not expressed anywhere else, we again demand 
of the physical student reason or proof, and find none. His 
will, as expressed in His works, cannot, it is admitted, be 
contrary to His will as expressed in His Word, or revelation ; 
but neither is it so. There is no opposition; physical science 
has done nothing to prejudice faith in revelation or miracles. 
Material nature is elastic enough to admit of the play of the 
human will, and if it can and does admit of the play of the 
human will, it cannot shut out the Divine will. The chain 
of antecedents and consequents, the <( grand truth of the 
universal order and constancy of natural causes," therefore, 
presents no argument against miracles as effects proceeding 
from special causes. 

Let the science of physics be cultivated in all its bearings to 
the utmost extent; but do not undervalue the tools of the' 
workman; do not exclude mind and the higher science of 
mind. There is both room and need for the study of meta- 
physics and mental philosophy, as well as of physics. "It 
must be borne in mind (said the President of the British 
Association) that, even if we are satisfied, from a persevering 
and impartial inquiry, that organic forms have varied indefi- 
nitely in kind, still the causa causans of these changes is not 
explained by our researches ; if it be admitted that we find no 
evidence of amorphous matter suddenly changed into complex 
structures, still, why matter should be endowed with the plas- 
ticity by which it slowly acquires modified structures is un- 
explained. If we assume that natural selection, or the struggle 
for existence, coupled with the tendency of like to produce like, 
gives rise to various changes, still our researches are at present 
uninstructive as towhy like should produce like, why acquired 
characteristics in the parent should be reproduced in the off- 
spring. Eeproduction is still itself an enigma." Without 
another science, then, the doctrine of continuity is dark — we 
lengthen out the chain backwards, it snaps asunder, and we 


are left gazing upon a gap which nothing but Deity itself can 
fill up. We agree that philosophy should have no likes or dis- 
likes ; and, while a " glow of admiration " will assuredly be 
permitted "to the physical enquirer when he beholds his orderly 
development by the necessary inter-relation and inter-action 
of each element of the Cosmos," we, too, viewing this neces- 
sary chain of cause and. effect as concealing God when considered 
alone, as exhibiting nothing but a dark and inevitable fatalism — 
we, I say, may also be permitted a glow of admiration when 
we find ourselves set free from the darkness which surrounds 
this chain of endless causation, to behold in the purer light of 
mind and intelligence the Cause of all causes, even Him u who 
stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the 
earth upon nothing." 

THOU GET 8 ON MIRACLE 8. By Edward Bubton 

Penny, Esq*, M.V.I. 

IT has been said that " Scientific investigation plainly shows 
that every department of Nature is under the control of laws 
the most exact and inexorable"* — which may well be conceded ; 
nor does it require any depth of " investigation " to arrive at 
a fact so patent to all observers. We may, therefore, allow it 
to be an axiom of science, and an " inexorable law " that no 
effect can take place, in Nature or out of Nature, without an 
adequate cause; and we add that one of these "inexo- 
rable laws " is that the laws which " control " are necessarily, 
and ipso facto, stronger than the Nature "controlled." 

It has been said further, that " the whole course of Nature 
is a chain of antecedents and consequents, bound together by a 
necessary and absolutely certain connection entirely beyond the 
reach of interruption or alteration; wid every event that happens 
in Nature is the inevitable result of the laws and properties of 
matter and force, which can neither be violated, modified, nor 
suspended ; and beyond these laws and properties Nature knows 
no other rule; they are alone and supreme" * — But the very 
reverse of this is manifest in every " event in Nature," every 
one of which is a breach, interruption, or overruling of one 
chain of antecedents by another. The laws of inertia and 
gravitation are broken through by vegetation; the chain of 
consequents in vegetation is broken by the animal that feeds 
upon it ; and, above all, the will of man disposes according to 
his need, his pleasure, or his caprice, of all the chains of 

* Vide Journal of Transactions of the Victoria Institute, vol. I. p. 95. 


consequents, in every region or kingdom of Nature, mineral, 
vegetable, animal, or elementary. 

That the " laws which rule Nature" are " alone and 
supreme " may be conceded, relatively speaking, L e., in respect 
to the ruling of Nature ; but this is merely moving round the 
circle of cause and effect, antecedent and consequent; the 
question is, How these laws work, and how the manifold results 
in Nature are obtained ? And the partisan of " science" who 
has acknowledged that there is a God,* does not pretend that, 
distinct from material Nature, there is no other ruling power 
or law. Nature's laws, " ruling Nature," are themselves distinct 
from and above Nature ; and, whether Nature " know " it or 
not, we know that the Intelligence which established those laws 
and ordained them to work out His unchangeable will, and 
still upholds them in His hands, causing while yet placing 
bounds to their mutual action and reaction, is necessarily 
distinct from and above Nature. 

The argument continues : — 

" To assert that an event, or a series of events occurred, which 
are contrary to this uniformity, which are not the result of these 
laws and properties, but opposed to them, and incompatible with 
them, is to assert the occurrence of an impossibility, and is simply 
absurd" f 

But we have seen that nothing is more " uniform," in the 
sense here intended, in Nature, than the constancy of a 
mutual crossing or counteraction in its laws, and that it is 
not et incompatible " with these laws that one should be con- 
tinually over-riding another, and producing thereby a new 
order of results or chain of consequents, therefore miracles ; and 
that without such opposition and mutual reaction of her laws, 
Nature's only law would be speedily to die out and cease to be. 

In miracles, commonly so called, Nature's laws are neither 
violated nor modified in themselves ; one law is simply over- 
ruled by another, a new chain of cause and effect being com- 
menced thereby. The power which directs this over-ruling, 
whether intelligibly to itself or not, is the worker of the 
miracle. The vegetable germ, blindly exerting the powers 
with which it is endowed, assimilates the earthy and gaseous 
elements to itself, over-rules the mineral and atmospheric 
laws, and works a miracle. The ox which eats the grass, and 
converts its elements into its own flesh and bones, over-rules 
the laws of vegetable life, and works a miracle. And, above 
all, every act of man may be called a miracle, inasmuch as one 
law of Nature is thereby, and that " inexorably," over-ruled 

* Ibid. p. 96. t Ibid. p. 95. 


by another, and a new chain of cause and effect commenced. 
This, indeed, may be affirmed of every act or movement of 
animal life generally ; the " uniform course " of Nature being 
altered by every footfall on its surface. 

But man's whole mission upon earth seems to be that he 
should work miracles. He breaks the " uniform course " and 
overrules the laws of wild Nature, and turns a howling wilder- 
ness into a fruitful field or smiling garden, and subdues the 
whole animal kingdom to serve his convenience, by the simple 
process of opposing one law of Nature to another, by the 
superior power of his own intelligence and will. 

Neither vegetables nor animals " know " anything of the 
laws by which they act or are acted upon ; they fulfil their 
parts by a blind faith in the power implanted in their 
germs and developed by the counteraction of other powers 
ordained for the purpose by the Supreme Intelligence. 

But man is not precluded from knowing the laws and power 
by which he works, although the vast majority of men concern 
themselves to know nothing about it $ and the nations and 
peoples do their Creator's behest, and work the miracles they 
were sent on earth to work, knowing little more of the secret 
springs of their own life and action than the animals around 

Man has been called a Microcosm, because he unites in 
himself something of the essences of all the kingdoms of 
Nature, sidereal, as well as earthly. And it is manifest that 
this must be so ; for, since he is capable of receiving the influ- 
ences of the sun and the skies, of the atmosphere and the 
earth, and of the animal and vegetable world living and 
moving in them, there must necessarily be something in him 
of the nature of all these things ; and the power which we 
see he possesses to act upon Nature is in itself a proof that 
he must have visible or secret connecting links homogeneous 
with that Nature, vital and physical. 

Some men are not only conscious of their power over Nature, 
but exercise themselves in it, and strengthen it to a remark- 
able degree. We may instance the Rareys, and tamers of 
wild beasts or reptiles in all countries, who, by faith in their 
power, and by the exercise of their will, tighten or relax 
the secret sympathetic links at their pleasure, and make the 
fiercest of such animals tremble at their look, and end by 
lying down like lambs at their feet. 

Of such are mesmerists, who, by the power of their will 
alone, transmitted through the secret links which connect 
them with their patients, send them to sleep and make them 
do many wonderful things. 


All power is of God ; and God has apportioned the use of it 
to all His creatures according to their kind and to the purposes 
of His goodness and wisdom. The vegetable and the animal 
have each power after their kind, according to the work given 
them to perform, while the secret springs of their action are 
beyond their ken. But man seems to be master of the springs 
of his own power (i. e. the portion with which God endowed 
him) : he can strengthen them by exercise, and relax or destroy 
them completely by disuse ; and he can direct them as he will, 
either in subjection to inward inspirations of a pure conscience 
(which is God's gift), or to the wild and lawless allurements 
of his imagination or his passions. 

In conformity with this freedom of choice, and indifferently 
for good or for evil, we find at all times, and in our own day, 
instances of men who, by their earnestness, enthusiasm, or 
faith, have more or less powerfully moved the springs of 
Nature, and done many wonderful works or miracles. 

Religious enthusiasm, so called, has been the means of many 
wonderful results ; and these results are of a nature according 
to the direction of this enthusiasm or faith; and may be 
characterized as good, or evil, or neuter. If this faith is 
exercised in entire submission to the Divine light, its results 
are in conformity ; and thus we see how a Moses was enabled 
to overcome the magicians, and bring his people out of Egypt, 
and separate them as a peculiar people, a light for the Gentiles 
till Shiloh should come. 

The magicians of Egypt and those of other countries, Fetish 

Sriests, Fakirs, Medicine-men, and Marabouts of the present 
ay, work many wonders or miracles, by moving the same 
springs of Nature (for all their performances are not mere 
jugglery) ; but their works lack the beauty of those of the 
Divine order, and are rightly named occult, or deeds of 

The Chairman. — I am sure you will all return a cordial vote of thanks to 
these two gentlemen for their very interesting papers. I think you will also 
agree that Mr. English's Essay is one of the most valuable papers that we 
have had yet brought before us, and I hope we shall now have a useful and 
profitable discussion on the subject. 

Rev. Robinson Thornton, D.D. — I will trouble you with a few remarks 
on the first of the interesting papers we have heard this evening ; and they 
will not be in opposition, but rather in harmony with the arguments of 
Mr. English. They have brought out (but not, perhaps, quite with the clear- 
ness I could wish) two very important questions, which we have to consider 
on the subject of miracles. On this subject there are two grand fallacies, in 
my opinion, which are constantly urged by those who oppose miracles. The 


first lies in the words " law of nature." What is a law of nature ? Who 
enacted that law ? What Parliament met together, and by a majority of 
votes decided there should be that law ? Why use the term "law" ? Because 
it is something written down ? But you must remember, that though 
" written," it is not enacted. Where is it written 1 It is written in our 
own minds. From the observation of a certain set of phenomena, we find 
underlying them a certain principle ; and we write that down on the tables 
of our mind or on paper, and call it a " law of nature." But you must 
not argue that it is to be treated as a human law passed amongst men. It is 
not something to which a punishment is attached for violation ; — it is 
not vindicated by the Lawgiver — we speak of a law of nature indeed ; 
but there is the fallacy. A law of nature is, we must remember, not some- 
thing by which, as people would seem to say, the Deity is bound, but some- 
thing belonging to ourselves : it is a part of our own thought and of our own 
consciousness. We, having analyzed certain phenomena, find a certain princi- 
ple, as I said, underlying them, and we register it in our minds as a law. 
But we have no business to impose it on others ; it is part of ourselves. 
Therefore, when a person says, "I do not believe a miracle takes place, 
because it is a violation of the laws of nature," he means that a miracle is 
something which is different from his own especial observation ; he merely 
asserts the limited character of his own observations. If a person tells me 
that no testimony can be sufficient to make him believe that such a thing as 
a miracle ever happened, he is in fact saying, " I am so convinced of the 
superiority of my intellect and of my own generalization, that no testimony 
shall prove to me there is an intellect superior to mine." We know how that 
was answered in early times, and a hundred years ago, when Hume brought 
forward his argument against miracles as being "contrary to experience." 
The answer was plain. What do you mean by contrary to experience ? Do 
you mean that miracles are not what people observe every day ? That is 
what we mean, — something not met with in every-day experience ; — but if you 
mean to say they are contrary to experience in this sense, that no person 
has ever seen one, you are begging the question ; you are assuming what 
you ought to prove ; you say these things did not occur, and when asked 
why, your answer is the not very convincing one, " Because they did not." 
The next fallacy to which I should like to call attention resides in the word 
" Causation." What do you mean by causation ? The term is used in two 
senses, which are apt to be confounded. In the first place, causation is taken 
to mean, and really does mean, the sequences of phenomena which, as far as 
our limited observation goes, are invariable. When we find that invariably 
in our experience one phenomenon follows another, we say the first is the cause 
of the second. That is the first mode in which the term causation is used. 
There is another sense in which it is used, and a much higher one, which is 
this — the operation of superior intellect on inferior existence. Now opponents 
of miracles confound these two together. They say, no superior existence can 
have exerted itself in a manner to which we are unaccustomed, upon 
the works of creation. Why ? Not because they deny the power of intel- 


lect ; but they argue in the other sense, that no phenomenon has power 
in itself to alter the phenomenon which follows it. It is on a confusion 
between these two meanings that I think some of the arguments alleged 
against miracle are founded. I repeat, therefore, that we should guard 
ourselves carefully against the confusion which exists in the words " law of 
nature," and the other confusion which exists in the word " causation." I 
think we can understand what a miracle really is. It is where a superior 
intellect asserts itself in order to command the respect of an inferior intellect. 
The inferior has attained to a certain "law," by such generalization as it 
is capable of, but the superior at certain times steps in and introduces a 
phenomenon which is not recorded in that generalization, and by displaying 
that phenomenon shows its superiority. Let those who reject miracles 
beware ; because in rejecting them, they say their intellect is superior to any 
other intellect that can exist. They are, in point of fact, raising matter 
nearly, if not quite, to Deity. 

Rev. John Manners. — Since I have had the pleasure of joining this 

Society, this is the first meeting I have been able to attend, and I wish to 

make a few observations upon the excellent papers we have just heard ; and 

first to " men of science n just a few words. I think it has been well said 

that we are surrounded by a continuation of miracles in nature, using that 

word in the fullest sense. Let us look at some of these mysterious agents for 

a moment or two. There is what we call the principle of fire,— there is light, 

and there is electricity, for instance. Now it really seems to be contrary to 

the principle of light that two rays or wave3 should produce darkness ; and yet 

two undulations of light, one following the other by half a length or a multiple 

of half a length, do produce darkness. And so with heat : — two waves of heat 

produce cold. And so of sound : — two waves of sound produce silence. 

Now, this is in accordance with what may be termed the acting of recondite 

powers, and is in order and harmony with the general principles by which we 

are surrounded. I recollect when at Cambridge, after reading the Third 

Book of Newton's Principia, there was something seemed wanting. We talk 

of the law of gravitation ; but what is gravity ? Newton said, " With regard 

to what it is, I do not pretend to understand, I won't venture to say ; but 

with regard to the phenomena, I say, such and such things are produced by 

it." But when we come to ask — What is it ? How came it about ? What 

is the origin of all these forces of nature ? How is it that fire should burn ? 

How is it that this electrical force does pass here and there ? How is it 

all these effects are produced ? We must answer, — Not per se. There must 

be something that pervades, that directs all these wonderful, beautiful, and 

glorious powers. I would ask men of science to tell us why, if a little 

bit of sodium is thrown into water, we see the wonderful effect of fire 

and light brought into action ? How is it these pieces of potassium and 

sodium accomplish this? Why this strange affinity for oxygen that it 

actually seems to set .fire to water ? I want men of science to tell me 

in plain words Iww these things are produced ; and I want to know why are 

these things so beautifully harmonized : I want to know how it is there is 


such order and harmony ? It is not enough to tell me, it is ; we can see 
that But we want the living presence ; and this living presence (the solu- 
tion to all the questions with regard to miracles) is the Most High, who 
created all things according to His own will. Can you tell me how light is 
produced ? Or what, on the other hand, is darkness 1 Why (for a third 
instance) are all things in nature circular ? Whence these wonderful powers ? 
We use the term " nature," it is true, as if we understood what is natural 
and what supernatural ; hut all these things can only be understood when 
connected with one beautiful order and harmony by the Almighty. Now, for 
one moment again, to look at our individual selves, it is quite true, what was 
said in one of the papers read, there must be connected with man somewhat 
of all the principles of the material and spiritual universe, centred in him in 
one way or another. How is it that words, for instance, declare " my will," and 
that my thoughts spring up into ideas, and are embodied in the words I now 
utter in this assembly ? Here are beautiful mysteries, proving that my 
origin is not mere matter, not a merely temporary thing, not merely an 
advance on a monkey ; but rather is it not in this way, that man is 
" made in the image and likeness of God " ? Man feels that nothing is im- 
possible with Him. When I go to the Gospels, I see the manifestation of the 
Creator on the earth, in the marvellous things done by Christ's word. When 
He speaks to the fig-tree, and commands it to bear no fruit ; there is a power 
from Himself which goes forth — the thing is done ; and so in all His miracles. 
He is thus a true light to me, and He solves all mysteries in creation by the 
mysteries of redemption ; He brings to light the things of darkness, and leads 
me and brings me home to that Paradise which I lost in the Fall. So we say, 
again, that men of science, if asked the cause of electricity, answer they do 
not enter into causes, and that we must be content with phenomena. But that 
is no answer, and I know the best men of science will admit that there must 
be a mysterious power besides, which they cannot reach. That leads us up to 
the Eternal In Him we live and move and have our being ; and His living 
Presence alone is the solution of the whole question. 

Dr. Gladstone. — I should like to express the great admiration with which 
I listened to the first of the papers read this evening. The second was also 
interesting ; but I think we ought to avoid using the term miracles in the sense 
in which it was employed in that paper, — a totally different sense to that 
used in the first, and not miracles in the true sense of the word. Accepting, 
therefore, miracles in the proper sense in which the term is employed in the 
paper of Mr. English, I may perhaps be allowed to make one or two remarks. 
The first is, that the paper scarcely went beyond showing (that, however, it 
proved most conclusively) the possibility of miracles. It also stated, that 
supposing God to give a revelation to man, not only were miracles & priori 
possible, but also probable and necessary, because revelation itself was a 
miracle. But it appears to me that supposing God is about to communicate 
anything to His creature man, miracles are, a priori y probable in another 
sense besides that which is spoken of in the paper. It is quite clear, con- 
sidering the power of man's imagination and the large number of false 


religions which have come into the world, that if the Supreme Being wishes 
to give a revelation to man, He must in some way authenticate that revela- 
tion ; He must authenticate it to the man to whom He speaks, in order to 
give him the power of convincing his contemporaries and successors that he 
is actually speaking from God. Both for the man's own satisfaction and for 
the satisfaction of those to whom he is sent, there is required some testimony, 
something which the man cannot of himself produce ; and it appears to me 
that there is no notice of this in the paper. Now, I cannot conceive of any 
better credentials of a revelation than miracles— miracles in the sense which 
includes prophecy, which is only a species of miracle — 

The Chairman. — It is so stated in the paper. 

Dr. Gladstone. — If we look through the Bible, we shall find, I think, 
that miracles are spoken of almost universally in that way. They are the 
testimony which God has given to His servants ; and when there has been no 
revelation there has been no miracle. Trace throughout the whole history of 
the Bible, and I think you will find this is almost always the case. There 
may be a few instances in which miracles are wrought, not for testimony, but 
to preserve the Church, and for certain purposes of goodness towards man ; 
and it is possible we may extend the use of the word miracle to some of 
those cases of recent times, wherein God seems to have interposed in the 
history of the Church, so as to bring about what appears as a miracle, in 
answer to prayer, or to serve some great purpose for the extension of the 
Church. I do not know exactly, but it is matter for consideration, how far 
the great change of heart that is wrought by the operation of God's Spirit 
should be regarded as a miracle or not. As to what has led to such observa- 
tions upon miracles as Mr. Powell put forth, I think I can better understand 
that feeling, perhaps, than the writer of the Essay. There is no doubt in 
my mind it has arisen from the great attention paid recently to the uniformity 
of Nature's laws. Now, that has an effect upon the mind, if we consider it 
too exclusively. We begin to feel that a miracle comes in as something inter- 
fering with the grand march of Nature ; that it belongs to something alien, 
which does not come within our philosophy. We know this can be upset 
most thoroughly by reasoning such as has been brought forward this evening. 
And what is the result of this ? It shows us, how difficult it is to perform 
miracles ; and therefore, supposing we have, on the ground of sufficient tes- 
timony, proof that miracles have been performed, it proves with increasing 
force that those miracles are not the action of chance or of evil spirits, but of 
Him who rules all things. 

Mr. Wabjnqton. — I may say that I think the first paper read this evening 
deals with the question of miracles more fully and impartially than I ever 
remember hearing it before treated of. I do not mean, that the subject is 
exhausted, nor the matter put everywhere in the best point of view, for it 
strikes me it might be expressed better and- clearer ; but that there is no 
one element necessary for the right understanding of miracles overlooked. 
The remarks I have to make refer to some expressions of preceding speakers, 
and a few points in the paper which I think will bear a slight amendment First, 


as to the preceding speakers Dr. Thornton argued, that because we could not 
assert our generalizations, on which our conceptions of law were founded, to be 
complete, we had no right to assume there were any laws at all ; and there- 
fore to assert any event to be opposed to natural laws was impossible — 

The Chairman. — I think Dr. Thornton stated nothing of that kind. I do 
not disagree with your statement, but it is only fair for me to say so, in 
justice to Dr. Thornton, who has now left the room. 

Mr. Warington. — Dr. Thornton stated that our knowledge of phenomena 
was necessarily imperfect in every case ; and he seemed to think that as that 
fact made our generalization equally imperfect, therefore we could not regard 
the generalization as equivalent to law. I ask is that true practically ? Of 
course, I agree with him theoretically, but not practically ; and the question of 
miracles is a practical question. We have no absolute demonstration that 
miracles were performed ; we have merely a certain number of probabilities. 
We cannot then demand demonstration against miracles if we cannot give it 
for them — I mean mathematical demonstration. For what does our know- 
ledge depend on ? For instance, I heard Dr. Thornton speak. How did I 
know what he meant by what he spoke ? Simply from a limited amount of 
observation as to what certain words signified. I cannot pretend to lay down 
as a fact that those words never could mean anything else. My generalization 
is imperfect I cannot say it is a mathematical law that a certain word 
means a certain thing. I have only probability to guide me ; I take that and 
act upon it ; and I am practically right. Theoretically, however, I am not 
certain of the meaning of the words said to me ; yet, practically, I am right 
in acting as if I was. Just so with miracles. It is quite sufficient if the 
objector can show us a certain amount of probability against them without 
being able to give demonstration , for that is impossible. This is the great 
fallacy that runs through Mr. Mozley's otherwise able book on miracles. 
He has assumed that because all laws of science are founded on imperfect 
generalizations, therefore they cannot be taken as proper reasons for coming 
to any conclusion. If that is admitted, we have no real reason for coming 
to any conclusion on any subject ; because in every case our reasons are 
simply dependent on probability, and not on mathematical demonstration. 
Then, — to take a point mentioned by a speaker before Dr. Thornton, — Why 
do not men of science inquire into the reason of things ? 

The Chairman. — It was not asked " Why do not men of science inquire 
into the reason of things ? " You are imputing an expression never used by 
Mr. Manners. 

Mr. Warington. — I mean the reason why bodies have certain properties — 
why laws exist. I understood he asked why men of science did not go 
further, and ask why bodies have certain properties ? If it is the fact, 
however, that we are unable to go back to this primal cause, is that any reason 
for our not taking the amount of scientific knowledge we have, as a fair ground 
and basis of reasoning ? Can we arrive at the primal cause of anything ? 
No. In any subject, the instant you go back to what is the primal cause why 
such and such a thing is, you are at sea ; and therefore there is no blame to 


physical or natural science, if it also fails in this particular. Thus there is no 
valid reason why the deductions of science may not be used in considering 
miracles. I notice this point, because I am loath to see arguments put 
forward which will not bear scrutiny. There are so many at the present 
day who are inclined to scrutinize everything put forward on behalf of 
miracles, that it behoves the defenders of miracles to be cautious what argu- 
ments they use. Then to come back to the paper itself ; there was one point 
which seemed to be a little overdrawn — that which referred to the un- 
changeableness of God. Mr. English argued, because man was free, God 
must be free ; because man in his freedom did not always do the same 
things, but his actions were varied, there must be a larger latitude of freedom 
and of variableness assigned to God. If you look at the two statements, the 
parallel seems striking ; but go lower, and it seems to me the parallel drops 
out. Why is it, that man having a free will, produces variable results ? Because 
his knowledge is imperfect, and he does not know what is best for himself. 
If his knowledge of nature was perfect, if he was perfectly aware what was 
the best thing to be done, his will would be unchangeable ; he would do one 
thing and never swerve from it, and with all his freedom of will there would 
be absolute uniformity. Is not that the case with God ? Has not God not 
only perfect freedom, but also perfect knowledge, perfect acquaintance with 
what is best ? Does it not therefore arise from the nature of God, that His work 
is uniform and unchangeable, just as that from the nature of man his work 
is un-uniform and changeable ? It seems to me that this point was overlooked 
by Mr. English. I am quite aware that he adduced reasons further on in his 
paper, which account for God's interference with the uniformity of nature, 
but I submit that this one point of comparison was overdrawn. Then I 
will make two further remarks ; first, on the essence of a miracle. What is 
the essence of a miracle ? It is, that it contradicts the uniformity of 
nature ; for if not, it would be no miracle at all. And further : that it not 
only contradicts the uniformity of nature as seen in outward phenomena, 
but as the result of scientific law. For if we can show that miracles thus 
regarded were not contrary to nature, but were really in harmony with law, 
they would at once cease, upon this view, to be miracles at all. Therefore, 
it was essential to the very nature of miracles that they should be contrary 
to law ; and so when advocates of miracles endeavour to reject the idea of 
a violation of the uniformity of nature, they are really cutting their own 
throats. One word more, as to the purpose of miracles. I take it that every 
miracle was performed, not as matter of evidence for another thing, but as 
matter of evidence in itself. I think that point has been too much over- 
looked. When you find in the Gospel history one miracle following rapidly 
after another, you cannot say each was performed as an evidence of something 
beside itself; but you can say that there was always an object for the miracle 
in itself, — a direct object, which we must hold as the true one, the indirect 
object merely as a subordinate one. I believe these two points have not been 
thrown out in the paper itself, nor in the remarks of those who have 
spoken. I do not say they are original : it struck me however that they 



were of sufficient importance to make it worth while to add these re- 

Captain Fish bourne.— It strikes me that Mr. Warington has misunder- 
stood Dr. Thornton. Dr. Thornton said this ; — that we observe phenomena 
and deduce a law from that ; but this was a " law/' he said distinctly, with 
reference only to us, and not binding upon the Creator ; that it was, after alb 
the law merely of our finite faculties and observations, and might not be true 
theory, but that by further observation we might arrive at the feet that we 
had not known the law at all, and therefore our arguments would fall 
to the ground. He specifically said that the tendency to measure the 
Infinite by our finite conceptions was tending to deify man and lower the 
Deity. That I think was his view ; and surely that is the tendency of such 

Rev. Dr. Irons. — I should be sorry that a subject of such importance should 
come before us without receiving grave consideration, and you will readily 
believe that it is one which could not but have occupied my mind frequently 
in the closest way. I feel that much that Mr. Warington said was extremely 
valuable ; but from one part of his speech I must beg to differ, because his view 
seems to me almost to destroy the very essence of volition in the Deity. I sup- 
pose it is quite competent for the All-Perfect Being to make His own creation 
according to His own choice, and all " very good." But I cannot conceive 
of the All-Perfect Being being so fixed in one volition as to be unable to make 
another creation. That seems to me to be almost an Atheistic conclusion. 
I must be forgiven for saying that, because I am sure nothing was further 
from Mr. Warington's thoughts than any such conclusion ; but it seems to 
annihilate God, if we deprive Him of volition or choice. Passing from this, 
which was the principal if not the only point from which I differ, in Mr. 
Warington's remarks, I would address myself for a few moments to the great 
question which is before us ; because if this Institute is in any degree to 
affect the general course of thought in the scientific world, or the world of 
literature, it must deal carefully and closely with such a subject as the present. 
It appears to me that we overlook the fact that the whole course of dis- 
cussion and controversy on this subject seems as if intended to place the 
advocate of Christianity at a disadvantage. It is assumed at the outset that 
there is one and only one " order of nature." In the next place, it is taken for 
granted that the order of nature is linked together by inexorable conse- 
quence, — a law of causation absolutely inviolable. Then it is concluded that 
any revelation that comes forward must put in the foreground a violation of 
that order of nature as the very guarantee which it produces for itself. And 
lastly, it seems to be assumed that we are bound to accept the word of any 
violator of a law of nature, as though the power of his violating that law 
constituted him a teacher for our consciences. On all these points, I take 
my stand. I decidedly object to that way of putting the whole question. I 
do not think that there is only one law or order of nature. We may grant 
that there is already ascertained by the observation of mankind one general 
and pervading physical law, as we term it, extending not only throughout 


this world, but, according to the remotest observations which we hAve made, 
reaching to the most distant objects. But there is another order of 
nature besides that which regulates the starry system. The order of 
nature which there prevails is surely entirely distinct from the laws of right 
and wrong in the human conscience, for example. There is a moral order 
of nature — an entirely different thing from that material or external order of 
nature. I do not say they come into collision, but I mention that moral order 
of nature to show my position, that we are wrong in assuming there is but 
one order of nature, and that all things are ruled to happen in one way. I 
point to the laws of right and wrong, of justice, generosity, and truth, between 
man and man, which cannot be altered or changed by our mere will or caprice ; 
for what is equity here cannot be inequity elsewhere. By the general 
conscience of mankind these laws are acknowledged ; and therefore, I say, 
there may be other orders of nature besides that moral order of nature. I 
entirely dispute the assumption, as unfair to the whole subject, that there is but 
one order, and that a physical order of nature. But not only do I object 
to that assumption, but to the assumption, for which we have not yet I think 
sufficient data, that the physical external order of nature is bound together by 
such inexorable principles of causation as that it is utterly inconceivable that any 
natural laws should reverse or change. Now it is perfectly conceivable, I do 
not say it is probable, that the doctrine of Mr. Hume in the last century may 
eventually be accepted as truth in philosophy. Mr. Hume affirmed there 
was no such thing as efficient causation in nature, — that one event lies by the 
side of another like two stones in a quarry ; and Mr. Mozley, in the book 
referred to by Mr. Warington, has actually assumed Mr. Hume's principles ; 
he has taken the very doctrine of the sceptical philosopher, and has argued 
for the doctrine of miracles from Mr. Hume's premises. He seems to me, 
however, thus to destroy the very foundations of theology in his eagerness 
to construct an argument for miracle. Mr. Mozley says : — "Philosophers now 
are agreed that there is no efficient connection between one event and another." 
That is his argument ; and thus he destroys the whole ground for believing 
in God Himself, or the Great First cause. Anything more monstrous I could 
scarcely conceive. Yet the Quarterly Review has praised his lectures, which 
are sceptical, and the University of Oxford, I am sorry to say, has received 
them with almost unmixed applause. I ask any gentleman present to give 
himself the trouble of reading the first two of those lectures to test what I 
have said. I am only referring to this, however, to illustrate the proposition 
that it is entirely an assumption, an unfair assumption, that efficient causa- 
tion is beyond all relaxation defended ex necessitate, by theologians more 
than others, if any party in the scientific or theological world has an 
interest in defending it, I should say it is the scientific men ; but if they 
repudiate it, that is their affair. They will find it difficult to proceed without 
it In the next place, suppose we were to grant these two concessions, then 
we have to meet a third difficulty. If we grant there is but one order of 
nature, and yet find morality must be in some way twisted into the physical 
order of things ; and if we concede that there is efficient causation which 



cannot possibly be evaded ; still the third difficulty in our pathway is this, 
that this invasion of the necessary efficient causation of things is absolutely 
to be fastened upon us as a condition of revelation. I see not, if it pleases God 
to give us revelation, why He may not give it us with or without miracles, as 
He pleases. I am not prepared to bind myself down beforehand to any such 
philosophy as this, that if it pleases God to reveal Himself to man, He shall 
and must of necessity work a miracle to convince man. No : the difficulty in 
my mind at once is this, that if there be such a necessity, then every man who 
has an interest in revelation can demand a miracle for himself in particular. 
If the thing ex necessitate belongs to revelation, and if it must be guaranteed 
to man's mind in that way, we might all demand miracle. We shall at once 
acknowledge there is a difference between seeing a miracle and having a 
record of it handed down through very distant media, requiring a great 
deal of testing. I cannot conceive of miracles wrought eighteen hundred 
years ago, in order to be tests of faith for us in the nineteenth century, as 
standing on the same footing exactly as miracles wrought before our own eyes. 
So, if men are determined to put theological argument on such a basis, they 
may require a miracle for each of us. But, supposing these assumptions and 
difficulties were got over, we come at last to this. Where is the necessary con- 
nection between the working of a miracle and the convincing of man's con- 
science of right and wrong ? For if we admit our own records, if we admit the 
Holy Scriptures, we shall see that miracles are very far from being confined 
to good agents. Pharaoh's magicians are said to have wrought miracles as 
well as Moses. I do not see how, on purely natural principles, there should 
be any connection between the working of a miracle and the truth of the 
doctrine of the man who worked it. — Now, thus far we have been speaking 
of miracles without at all defining nature, and I have not heard anything 
like a definition of what we mean by nature. We come here upon a wide 
subject, which our scientific men seem to me to take a great deal of pains to 
avoid. I recollect that Cuvier, in the beginning of his Animal Kingdom, — I 
think in the first chapter, — takes pains to describe what he meant by nature. He 
meant the properties, first of all, distinguishing any individual being ; so that 
the properties of a man or of a stone are not the same. The nature of one is 
not confounded with that of any other. We know what this means ; the 
human being has human nature ; and however difficult the definition may 
be, I am not prepared myself to find fault with this definition, that the 
nature of an individual is that which constitutes him with certain properties, 
so that he is what he is. We are taught in Scripture that God's nature (I 
speak with reverence) is best defined " I am that I am." But, beyond this, 
Cuvier says there is a law of relation which prevails, connecting various 
natures or classes of being. That is the all-pervading law which he calls 
general nature. This individual and this general law of nature ought to be 
thoroughly apprehended oy us before we can speak of exceptions to the law. 
Put before any man anything astonishing, and, if ignorant, he will think it a 
miracle. If he does not know very well the laws of his own being and of 
general being, he would be likely to err on that subject ; for we cannot 


arrive at any clear conception of a miracle unless we have a wide acquaintance 
with nature — 

Mr. Reddie. — May I interrupt the Reverend Doctor ? I think we had 
better assume that we do know something about nature, and discuss 
miracles ; or I do not see when we shall draw our arguments to a close. 

The Chairman. — I am exceedingly interested in what I am hearing ; but 
perhaps Dr. Irons will be kind enough to bring his argument more to the 
subject of miracles, for time presses. 

Rev. Dr. Irons. — I feel there is justice in Mr. Reddie's suggestion, that 
the course on which my mind was entering, might take further time than is 
convenient to-night. I will now, therefore, confine my observations to a 
narrower compass. I was saying we cannot understand a miracle, unless we 
form to ourselves an idea of what we mean by nature ; and here seems to me 
to be the great difficulty in which this whole discussion is involved. People 
assume that a miracle is a violation of a law of nature. That is somewhat 
premature. Why may it not please Almighty God to perform other actions 
more astonishing and more surprising than anything apparently yet per- 
formed by Him ? Miracles may or may not be what they seem to us to be, 
u violations of the law of nature," but I shrink from saying that God violates 
His own laws ; I do not like that way of putting it. He performs, let me 
rather say, supernatural things ; but any being who performed a wonderful 
thing, if greater, wiser, and mightier than myself, would seem to me to 
be doing something surprising— in other words, a miracle ; and we are not 
in a position to say how far what is so done is a violation of natural 
law, or whether, if it be so, it is not also in conformity with some 
higher law. I will now condense in a sentence or two the practical conclu- 
sion to which this argument should lead. A Divine revelation, we may be 
sure, will speak for itself. We believe God has given two revelations : we 
acknowledge that God has spoken by Moses and Christ. There are the 
Jewish and the Christian revelations. Let any man look now at the Jewish 
people, he there will see what a standing miracle that people is. I defy any 
one to study their history, without feeling there is something more in that 
history than is the result of natural causes. It is a miracle. There is a 
real revelation. It is a miracle quite apart from the miracle of 
the Red Sea, or others that were wrought, as recorded in the Old 
Testament. The language itself, the existing Jewish nation and insti- 
tutions, are absolutely supernatural. You cannot look in the face of 
the people at this day — they are living like the burning bush, unconsumed 
from age to age — without feeling that God really did a supernatural thing in 
taking that family and stamping a character upon it for Himself and for 
us. They may deny revelation, or own it ; there they move, and wherever 
they exist, they tell that God has done it. So also the Christian revelation. 
I do not appeal for its proof to any one of the recorded miracles of the New 
Testament ; I appeal to the thing itself. There was (the world said) a young 
man, a Galilean, put to death in the reign of Tiberius. In the reign of Con- 
stantine, that young Jewish peasant was worshipped^— worshipped through- 


out the Roman world ! That is a miracle ; — let the infidel make what he 
can of the fact. We point now to the simple words of that same Jesus 
of Nazareth, that the gates of hell should never prevail against the system 
He was going to found ; and we are quietly confident ; we know, come what 
may come, — mat ccdum, — science and human knowledge and power, and 
" heaven and earth shall pass away, — but His words shall not pass away." 

Mr. Reddie. — I must apologise to Dr. Irons for interrupting him. He 
will quite understand that it was only because our time was pressing, and I 
was anxious to bring him back from very wide questions as to general 
nature to the subject of miracles. Taking his concluding observations, how- 
ever, I must say that I do not think that even they quite bear upon the 
precise question we have before us. They are most interesting and im- 
portant) I admit ; and no doubt, in a certain sense, the propagation of the 
Christian religion and the existence of the Jews among the nations, are what 
we might call, in common parlance, " standing miracles." But we are now 
discussing " miracles," in the ordinary sense, as signified by a precise word, 
having a definite meaning. The question is not one of the super-naturalism 
of revelation, or of grace ; neither is it a question of the marvels of nature, 
many of which were referred to by Mr. Manners in very eloquent terms. 
A stranger present might suppose that nobody here understood what we were 
talking about, or really knows what a miracle is ; and yet every common 
person in Judea knew what a " notable miracle " was ! In order to discuss 
our subject, we do not require to know all the laws of nature. Nobody ever 
alleged either that miracles were violations of all the laws of nature, or that they 
are standing violations of any natural law. Such a statement, if ever put 
forward, would be inconsistent with simple fact. We have only to deal with 
miracles as exceptional violations of distinct and simple laws, with which we 
are perfectly well acquainted. For instance, the very first miracle that our 
Lord wrought, was to convert water into wine. Now, we know that by the 
laws of nature, water will remain water, and we cannot even conceive any 
" higher law," of any kind whatever — I put it to the most fertile imagination 
of the most imaginative man of science or modern theologian — we cannot, I 
say, conceive any possible " law n by which water could ever become wine. 
I must further say, that I think it is a great mistake to attempt to defend 
miracles upon any such principle as that they may perhaps be the results of 
other " laws." The very gist of them, the very object for which they were* 
wrought, (and I think, in saying this, I shall yet gain the assent even of 
those whom for the moment I oppose,) was to show that they were 
wrought independent of all law, by means of the direct power of God. Even 
the very opening sentence of our paper, speaks of them as the " miraculous 
interpositions of the Almighty ; " and that is exactly what a miracle is. I 
must, however, quarrel somewhat with Mr. English's more formal definition. 
He divides miracles into three classes, direct, mediate and providential ; but I 
venture to say that only one of these classes is what we have properly to deal 
with. As an instance of a " direct miracle," he takes the act of creation as 
being the direct act of God. Well ; if so, then every marvel of nature, such 


as our own existence, is a miracle. Of course our life is marvellous, — all 
God's works are ; but still this is not what we mean by a miracle — 

The Chairman. — I think that the creation of matter out of nothing is a 

Mr. Reddib. — As a fact, when we speak of " the miracles of Scripture," 
we do not include creation. Bishop Butler properly argues that creation is 
antecedent to law ; but the " miracles " we speak of were wrought after crea- 
tion, and so they come after law ; and therefore they are not the same as the 
" miracle of creation/ 2 if you will call creation a miracle — 

Rev. Dr. Irons. — They might belong to another law, although not that 
law. I pointed out two laws at least. 

Mr. Reddib. — I am prepared to maintain that miracles do not belong to 
any " law " whatever ; and I shall be glad to hear what can be said in reply, 
when I have finished my argument. Then we come to what Mr. English 
calls " providential miracles " — the swarms of flies and of locusts in Egypt. 
Now, I say that these, but for the intervention of Moses in having put forth 
his rod and summoned them, as it were, and they having come when called, 
would not have been miracles at all. A cloud of locusts or a swarm of flies 
now, however great, would not be considered as miraculous ; and, in fact, 
such things are not in themselves miracles. Besides, if we take the whole 
facts of the case, these miracles, as defined by Mr. English himself, simply re- 
solve themselves into what he calls " mediate miracles," for they "were wrought 
by God through the instrumentality of a chosen agent," Moses. Those 
" mediate miracles," I contend, are the only "miracles" we have to deal with ; 
for I know of nothing which is commonly called a miracle*, except what has 
been wrought in that way. — But it is a mistake to suppose that scientific men 
have invented the statement that miracles are violations of the laws of nature. 
It is the language of our own orthodox and best theologians. And on that 
point I must agree with Mr. Warington, I must differ from Mr. English, 
and I must defend Mr. Baden Powell. It is not often that I find myself on 
the same side of an argument with that writer ; but truth is truth ; and I 
think I shall be able to prove him right, and, in justifying him, I shall give 
such high authority for the statement that miracles are necessarily violations 
of the laws of nature, as will not be lightly disputed by any theologiail 
present. That language, in fact, was only adopted by Mr. Powell, and not 
invented by him ; for, in addition to the passage Mr. English has quoted, — in 
which Bishop Butler says that "the only distinct meaning of the word natural 
is stated, fixed or settled" — there is another passage inthe Analogy (Part II. 
chapter 2, § 2,) which defines the word miracle in these terms : — " A miracle, 
in its very notion, is relative to a course of nature, and implies somewhat 
different from it, considered as being so." In other words, if it were 
not contrary to nature, it would not be a miracle. But to turn water 
into wine is a miracle. You may deny the fact of the miracle ; but 
if you admit it, its character is unquestionably this, that it is contrary 
to that stated course of nature by which the water would remain in 
statu quo : it is a violation of this ordinary course, or " law," of nature ; and 


I can find no difficulty about " the expression ' laws of nature/ " such as our 
essayist and some previous speakers seem to have felt. Mr. English gives the 
instance of the hand, by the human will, arresting the fall of a stone ; and 
he speaks of our being " able to control the forces of nature " by our will ; 
while Mr. Penny says that " every act of man may be called a miracle." Well, 
I am as much a part of " nature " as the stone is ; and though my powers are 
different from that which presses down the stone, and from any inorganic 
force in nature ; still, to exercise my power to arrest the fall of a stone which 
is not too heavy for my strength is no miracle. I must protest against this 
confounding of terms. The use of philosophical disquisition is not to con- 
found and confuse, but to discriminate and analyze. Were I to arrest the 
fall of a stone a ton in weight, of course that would be considered super- 
human ; but whether it was truly supernatural or not might be a question, 
as we know that some men have naturally extraordinary strength. If I 
were to say I could do this, although it was known that previously I could 
do nothing of the kind, and if I attributed this power to God, people might 
well believe it to be a miracle. I further think that Mr. English made a 
mistake in attempting to find a theory of miracles, or an argument in support 
of them, that would include the sceptic And I not only think he has failed 
in this attempt, but that it would have been a pity if he had succeeded. I 
say so, because in this matter "the sceptic" means the denier of 
the power of God — not merely a sceptic as to revelation, but rather an 
atheist, — and it would only be doubly irrational to believe in miracles and not 
in Deity. I am glad also to find that throughout the paper (the whole tone 
and main arguments of which I agree with, though obliged thus to criticise,) 
the real view of the writer crops out in spite of his intention to discuss the 
question " without reference to the omnipotence of God" ; for in one place he 
speaks of miracles as " God's miracles ;" in another, -as having for " their 
efficient cause the active power of God ;" and, in fact, throughout his paper, 
as summed up in his concluding words, you will see that his whole argument 
has really reference to " the Cause of all causes ;" and I must say I should 
not know the use of miracles at all if they did not especially and purposely 
point in that direction. But I think I now have nearly done with criticism 
as far as it must appear to be adverse to the paper. There is, however, one 
incidental passage I must noticebefore I proceed further to substantiate the 
general drift of the paper by anew argument not hitherto advanced. The pas- 
sage I refer to is where the Almighty is described as being " an Eternal Now — 
with whom there is no past nor future." I am aware that this has become a 
mode of speaking of Deity which might almost be said to be fashionable ; 
but I must object to it, if meant to be taken literally. At all events, as we 
cannot be supposed to comprehend Deity, and if we cannot ourselves under- 
stand how " past, present and future should be as one " — if to us such a 
notion is absolutely unintelligible — and if this notion is merely a concep- 
tion of our own applied to Deity, then I must protest against it ; and I 
will point to a single passage in Scripture which is entirely in opposition to 
this view. Christ as God is described as " Alpha and Omega, the beginning 


and the ending" — "which is, and which was, and which is to come — the 
Almighty." So there is a Scriptural definition that expressly applies the 
past, the present and the future to God's very existence ; and surely the 
very idea of eternal duration implies the past and future as mxich as the 
present.— Now I come to my new argument, and to what I consider the best 
way of treating this subject We have not, as I have said, to deal with the laws 
of nature generally. Miracles never professed to set them aside ; but yet they 
have never happened without violating some particular and ordinary law. For 
instance, take the second miracle of our Lord in Cana of Galilee — the healing 
of the nobleman's son. I am aware that the fact, that some of our Lord's 
miracles were performed by the imposition of hands, has led to some foolish 
modern speculations that perhaps they were all accomplished by some kind of 
mesmeric operation. But, in this instance, any such notion is at once 
refuted ; for here Christ only speaks a word, when at a distance from the 
person healed ; He merely says, " Thy son liveth." There is no medicine, 
no natural means, not even a touch employed : only a word, and the natural 
progress of the disease is at the instant arrested. Now, I put it to any 
man, whether this can be even imagined to be the result of anything but 
the mere fiat and will of Deity ? And then, when we come to consider the 
great majority of Christ's miracles, what were they ? Did they violate or 
infringe the laws of nature ? Yes ; but what laws 1 Net the mere physical 
laws which are invariable ; but those that affect moral agents, and are, I may 
say, out of gear. There is evil as well as good around us : the moral system, 
we know, has gone wrong ; and, as a consequence, some of the physical laws of 
nature, especially those that affect moral agents, are also awry. Now, Christ's 
miracles were mainly wrought to put these straight ; — not to violate or infringe 
God's original laws of nature, but to vindicate and restore them to what they 
were at first Evil is permitted in this world, but its author is not God. The 
laws of nature affecting moral agents are not " invariable " and congruous. 
For instance, there is health and disease, beauty and deformity. Let me 
interrogate any sceptic upon this point. Do you call disease natural ? But, 
if so, is not health also natural ? But they are contradictories —health and 
disease are opposites ; — and which of them was God's original law of nature.? 
When Christ told the man with the withered hand to stretch it forth, and 
made it whole with a word, was that to violate an original law of nature ? 
No ; it was to restore one which was already violated, to set right a law of 
nature that had gone wrong. Philosophers, whether they choose or not, in 
some cases, only to recognize the physical laws affecting inanimate things, 
cannot shut their eyes to the existence of those other laws and operations 
which affect moral agents. They cannot deny that health and disease, though 
both in a sense natural, are nevertheless at issue, and contrary and con- 
flicting. They may not ignore the existence of moral evil and of disease. 
They must go into that question if they will discuss miracles. It is not a 
matter of choice that they may overlook these things, and only regard such 
laws as those of light, heat, electricity, or gravitation ; about which we are 
always changing our opinions after all, and are perhaps most profoundly 


ignorant, with the greatest professions of knowledge. Besides, the " laws of 
nature " which miracles have infringed are not recondite, theoretical " laws," 
but obviov8 and ordinary laws. And it is a serious mistake to attribute 
everything in nature to God, as if there were no evil or opposition 
to God's will in the world. But I will give you the express testimony of 
our Lord Himself to this view of the subject, that His miracles were 
wrought to interfere not with God's original laws of nature, but rather 
with Satan's perversion of them, and with the evils arising from the trans- 
gression of man and the sin in the world. For what did Christ say when He 
healed the bowed-down woman ? He asked, " Why should not this woman, 
whom Satan hath bound, lo these eighteen years, be loosed from her infirmity ? " 
To set her straight, then, was not to violate God's law, though it was to 
violate what was then a "law of nature," but of nature diseased. No ; it was 
to set aside a law of nature which had its origin in the power of Satan, and 
to vindicate and re-establish God's original law of health and strength. But 
surely that is the very drift, the very essence of all the miracles of Christ. 
What were the disciples of John the Baptist to tell their master ? " That 
the blind receive their sight, the dumb speak, the deaf hear, the lepers are 
cleansed," &c. Well, whether blindness is natural or not, at all events, when a 
man is born blind, it is the law or rule of nature that he should remain so ; and 
Christ violated that law of nature. But if you do call blindness natural, surely 
you will admit that it is nature a little out of gear ; or else seeing would not 
be natural I am quite sure, if we had a Socrates here, and if some of our 
sceptical philosophers were bound to answer his interrogations as they used 
to do of old, and not shirk answering questions, he would soon put them into 
an untenable position when speaking about the uniformity of nature's laws, 
if we include those laws which affect moral agents. It is a remarkable 
fact that there are few miracles in Scripture which deal with physical 
laws alone, I mean apart from moral agents. The first of our Lord's 
miracles was, however, one, — that of changing water into wine ; and you can- 
not imagine how such a miracle could be performed except as being the fiat 
of the Divine Will. But if we consider that it was to give the blind sight, to 
restore hearing, to heal disease, and generally to help those who were afflicted, 
that Christ's >miracles were done, we must see that it is no objection to 
miracles that they are violations of what we call nature, but that that is even 
their merit, and that instead of being violations of the original laws of God, 
they afford the best proofs of God's power and goodness in vindicating His 
own laws of nature, which once were all and only " very good." So Christ, as 
" stronger than " " the strong man armed," cast out devils " with the finger 
of God," and so infringed the power of evil These are miracles that, I may 
say, define themselves by their character as Divine ; and they have nothing 
in common with lying-wonders, or jugglery, or any deeds of darkness. 
Before I conclude, I should like to quote another passage from Sir Matthew 
Hale's work on Man, in addition to the very brief citation from it in Mr. 
English's paper. I think you will be interested in hearing it It contains the 
very same idea that runs through the paper ; and you will see that both 


authors know, after all, what are the laws of nature which miracles infringe ; 
and that it is only a mode of speech when they say that nature is not 
violated: — 

" For although the Divine wisdom hath with great stability settled the 
laws of His general Providence, so that ordinarily or lightly they are not 
altered, yet it could never stand with the Divine administration of the 
world, that He should be eternally mancipated to those laws He hath ap- 
pointed for the ordinary administration of the world. Neither is this, if it be 
rightly considered, an infringing of the kw of nature, since every created 
being is most naturally subject to the sovereign will of his Creator ; therefore, 
though He is sometimes pleased by extraordinary interposition, and, pro 
imperio voluntatis, to alter the ordinary method of natural or voluntary causes 
and effects to interpose His own immediate power, He violates no law of nature, 
since it is the most natural thing in the world that everything should obey 
the Will of Him that gave it being, whatever that Will be, or however mani- 
fested." — Prim. Orig. of Mankind, p. 36, folio ed., 1677. 

From the whole tenour of this passage, — " the law of nature " being used 
in the singular, and explained to mean " the Will of the Creator," while it is 
admitted that " the ordinary method of natural causes and effects " is altered 
or infringed, — it would seem that the author did not intend to deny (in the 
modern or literal sense) that " the ordinary courses (or laws) of nature are 
violated " by the " extraordinary interposition " of " God's own immediate 
power." But, if he did, then another passage in Sir Matthew Hale's work 
shows us that he could not stick to his own proposition ; for the truth crops 
up in him as in Mr. English's essay, and enables us to see that miracles must 
refer us to Deity and the Divine Will, and not to mere imagined " higher 
laws." He says : — 

" In that administration of special Providence which is miraculous, God 
commanded the fire not to burn, stopped the mouths of lions, and prohibited 
the natural operation and agency of natural causes.^ — Ibid., p. 41. 

If Dr. Thornton had remained here, I would have told him that the Author 
of nature does vindicate His laws, when not miraculously suspended ; for 
if Dr. Thornton were to put his finger in the fire, he knows that naturally, 
and without a miracle, it would burn. I will now only say, in conclusion, 
that I think Mr. English's paper a most valuable one, although in some 
respects I differ from him, and have been obliged to criticise his arguments. 
But I am glad to think that Mr. English himself is of opinion that fair 
criticism can never do any harm. 

Mr. Warington. — May I say one word in explanation of my remarks ? I 
am quite aware that the expressions I made use of as to the unchangeable- 
ness of God, if taken by themselves, would be capable of the construction of 
Dr. Irons. I made them simply in correction of what I thought was an 
exaggeration the other way in the paper, saying at the same time that 
Mr. English had urged reasons quite sufficient to account for a change in 
the action of God taking place. 

Mr. Reddie. — Let me also add one word which I omitted as to the 
miracles of the loaves and fishes. Christ fed 5,000 people with five loaves, 


and 4,000 with seven loaves, and how many baskets of fragments remained ? 
Twelve and seven. Now, had it been by any " law " that the food was multi- 
plied, the basketfuls over would have borne some proportion to the original 
quantities of food and the numbers of the people, whereas it was just 
the reverse ; and our Lord seems to have drawn special attention to this 
circumstance, as if by anticipation to refute this theory of possible "higher 

Rev. Br. Irons. — In this order of things, that would be so ; but is there 
no other order of things ? 

The Chairman. — A very important subject has been brought before us, if 
not the most important subject that could be brought, because it is one now 
coming before all the scientific, and all the thoughtful minds in the country. 
It is the one of all others that thoughtful men now want to hear about. 
Some men require to have their faith strengthened, and others to be con- 
verted to a right faith in the matter. I must say I do think a great deal of 
the discussion about miracles arises from the infirmity of our human intellect, 
and the great difficulty we have in defining things ; or, when defined, in 
reasoning strictly upon our definitions. It may be, and it has been said 
against the theologian, that he does not give a strict definition of miracle ; 
but I want to know where we have strict definitions, even in science ? If we 
are to wait for knowledge on most scientific subjects until we have strict 
definitions, I maintain we shall find we have but little knowledge left I would 
ask physiologists what is their definition of life ? I have heard the best-reputed 
physiologists of the day confess that they could give no definition of life ; 
and we may be excused if we can give no very correct or logical definition of 
miracles. We have to regard .certain facts and phenomena which are 
brought before us in Scripture ; and, if from God, we should conceive they 
would be such things in their nature as to force themselves, not upon the 
attention of the philosopher merely, but of every observer. I think a great 
deal of the argumentation against miracles has arisen from the definitions 
which meu have given of miracles. A miracle in itself taking the word in 
its ordinary sense, means something wonderful ; and we can understand, 
with the author of the second paper, how everything around and about us 
that is marvellous is to some extent also miraculous — a thing to be admired 
and wondered at. But on the point under discussion, in what way does 
Scripture speak of miracles ? They are spoken of in Hebrew, I believe, 
under three or four distinct words ; in the Greek Scriptures by as many, 
and we find these terms used co-relatively and synonymously, and translated 
in our version by the words " miracle," " signs," and " wonders." Miracles are 
signs, or wonders, — that is, signs or wonders of such a character that the 
most casual observer sees there is something in them more than man can do. 
There is no definition in Scripture about nature or violation of laws of nature; 
but there is something that strikes the observation, and shows the presence 
of supernatural power. That is the scriptural character of a miracle. I 
think it is that character of miracle which the defender of Revelation is 
called upon to defend. He is not called upon to defend Hale's definition of 


miracles, or Butler's, however much we may bow to their great intellects. 
But then we must remember there is another aspect of miracles in Scripture. 
Scripture brings before us the important fact that these, what we call in 
common language supernatural events, which force themselves on the mind 
of the observer as from something higher than man, emanate not from a 
good source alone, but many also proceed from an evil one. I think this 
was distinctly brought forward by Dr. Irons and another gentleman, and it is 
important for the consideration of the subject. I believe that Satan did take 
our Saviour by a miracle from the wilderness where He was, and placed 
Him upon a pinnacle of the Temple. I believe that by as great a miracle 
he also showed Him on a high mountain, whither he conveyed Him from a 
pinnacle of the Temple, all the glory of this world in one moment of time, 
though I may have but a very faint conception what the marvellous deed 
was. And I know that the same Scriptures have also told me, for my instruc- 
tion and my warning, that the time will come when signs and wonders — the 
same terms used precisely in the original, for the good miracles of Christ 
and His followers — will be used by the Father of Lies for the purpose . 
of deceiving even the elect. But I am afraid I am breaking the law I laid 
down for others. It is late, and there is a great deal I should like to say 
on this subject of miracles from the point of view which seems to be the 
grand stand-point of many natural philosophers. I believe their difficulties 
arise from a misconception and misuse of the term " law of nature." I may 
give such a definition of a law of nature that a miracle is no violation of it at 
all ; or I may give you another definition, such as Mr. Reddie has given, 
in which there is a violation. There are things, which we need not be 
acute physiologists to know; for though the most advanced could not tell 
exactly what life is, the merest tyro could distinguish, in most instances, a 
living from an inanimate, or an organic from an inorganic object. There is 
a general sense of the term " nature " which may lead us to acquire a definite 
idea of the expression " law of nature." What is the distinction between a 
work of nature and a work of art ?' You might find it hard to define them ; 
but if I brought before you a brick, or any other work of man, — any work 
of art, a microscope, a telescope, a watch, a chronometer, or anything like 
that — you would have no difficulty in saying, " That is a work of art, and not 
a work of nature." What do you mean by a work of art ? It is the result 
of the human mind acting upon the productions of nature — 

Dr. Irons. — That is the definition of Ouvier. 

The Chairman. — We have that definition, and it appeals at once to our 
intellect. I know, if I wanted to puzzle a man, I might bring a certain thing 
and say, " Is that animal or vegetable, animate or inanimate, living or dead 1 " 
and if you take an extreme case, you might puzzle any one. I might, for 
instance, bring a model of a crystal, which I might cut out of a certain sub- 
stance, and it would be a work of art, and contrast it with a work of nature, 
a real crystal Let us reflect upon a work of art. It leads us up to some- 
thing, it teaches us a power in mind, (and I think that is the definition Dr. 
Thornton wanted to express) — power in man's .mind controlling the powers 


of nature ; but we use these terms in a subordinate sense. This conception 
of a "work of art" leads to that of a" work of nature." If I go to the 
highest conception of nature, I must go to this, that the law of nature ends 
in the will of Deity, and that is the highest If the law of nature ends in the 
will of Deity, no miracle can be contrary to that law, because all the miracles 
of revelation are wrought in perfect accordance with the will of the Deity. If 
we grant Him infinite knowledge— His own book says He foresaw these things, 
that they are done and must be done, because all along determined upon in 
the counsels of the Almighty — therefore miracles are in accordance with that 
higher and grander view of the law of nature. But there may be a lower 
view ; there is something so distinct in miracles from the ordinary trans- 
actions that occur in the world, that the one thing diners as much from the 
other, and infinitely more, than a work of art from a work of nature. All 
our Saviour's miracles, all those of the Bible, are of this class. But we 
must remember other miracles which were wrought for evil, and therefore 
you must import, if you follow the Scripture, moral considerations when 
you come to questions of miracle. Our Saviour Himself does it Th© 
Jews said of Him, " By Beelzebub he casteth out devils." They did not deny 
the miraculous effect ; that was admitted by the people. But how did He 
defend Himself ? " Look at the works I do ; they are not- wrought for the 
power of evil, but for good. I appeal to my works ; did any man ever do 
the works I have done for evil ? If so, Satan is fighting against himself. 
But I am fighting against Satan." And here you have the moral responsi- 
bility of every man who saw these miracles, of choosing good from evil. 
There the moral responsibility was forced upon man, whether he would accept 
or reject revelation. Now let us go back to the consideration of what natural 
philosophers tell us of the laws of nature, and see how confined are the 
notions they can give us. A law of gravitation, or any other law of nature, 
is nothing more than the general expression of the observation of a succession 
of phenomena in a certain order of sequence. It is nothing more than that 
If you can group a certain class of phenomena and their sequence, and 
express them in mathematical terms, you say you have a law. For instance 
you say that ponderable matter everywhere and always attracts ponderable 
matter with a force varying directly as the mass and inversely as the square 
of the distance of the attracting matter — that you call the law of gravitation. 
What do we call the law of reflexion in light ? A ray of light, if it strike an 
object so as to be reflected, will be reflected always in the plane of its inci- 
dence, and make the reflected angle equal to the angle of incidence. We 
talk of the law of refraction — we say that a ray of light, except its incidence 
is perpendicular, will have its direction changed, though it will remain in 
the same plane ; but according to what we call the law of sines, the sine of 
the angle of incidence will be to the sine of the angle of refraction in a 
certain ratio. We might be disposed to regard this as a universal law, and 
it was supposed to be so, until it was found that the law was broken, and that 
there was a class of substances which divided the ray into two parts, and one 
followed the ordinary law and the other the extraordinary law. Now, all the 


philosopher can do is to point out certain phenomena and include them in 
some general formula, and when he has included a certain amount of pheno- 
mena in one hypothesis, he calls it a law. Now it is assumed, and that I 
maintain shows the fallacy of the argument against miracles from natural 
philosophy, — it is assumed with regard to any related fact in the world's 
history, that we can say from what we know of these laws, such and such a 
thing could not occur. That we can say, for instance, a man could not 
be raised from the dead — such an event could not occur. Now I am 
prepared to maintain, upon strictly mathematical and philosophic prin- 
ciples, philosophy cannot say that ; that it cannot even tell us that such 
a law as that of gravitation is universal It is said, as a grand triumph, 
that we know it proceeds to the last planet discovered ; it is said it 
proceeds to the binary stars. Are you sure, with regard to the latter, 
that it is the exact law ? Are you sure it is a law not varying directly 
as the distance ? We will now test this assumption by mathematics or 
mechanics. If I put on the 1st horizontal row of wheels of the calculating 
machine in Somerset House, the number 41, under that the number 2 on the 
2nd row, and again the number 2 on the 3rd row ; the machine could then 
be set to produce a certain series of numbers for thousands of terms, in due 
sequence, according to a certain mathematical law ; each term in succession 
being calculated and recorded in stereotype by simply turning the handle of 
the machine. A mathematician ignorant of the numbers originally placed on 
the machine, and looking only at the recorded results, would find the series 
41, 43, 47, 53, 61, &c, printed in succession. Observing every one of these 
numbers to be primes, that is numbers indivisible by any other number but 1, 
he might assume the machine to be set so as to record prime numbers only. 
The correctness of this assumption would increase in probability till the 
40 and 41 2 terms were reached, when it would be broken by the appearance 
of numbers not primes. Again the mathematician regarding the law of 
sequence of these numbers might find that they could all be included in the 
general algebraical formula aj 2 +ac+41, by giving successive integral values 
to x from 0, 1, 2, 3, &c, upwards. This would enable the mathematician to 
predicate the numbers I had placed on the machine. But I will now give 
you a case in which he could not do so. I might start by putting on the 
machine, once for all, such a series of numbers that the recorded results should 
be the squares or cubes of the numbers 1, 2, 3, &c, in due sequence for any 
number of terms I pleased, but that at some predetermined term, say the 
7,345,671st, the law should be broken. The odds that this breach of law 
should occur, so far as observation could determine, would be estimated 
mathematically by millions to one against its occurrence. In this case, con- 
trary to the example I gave in the instance of the prime numbers, nothing 
in the sequence of the numbers, or in any mathematical formula? which would 
express that sequence, could give the mathematician the slightest clue as to 
the possibility of the occurrence of this breach of continuity in the law of 
sequence. Now when man is observing the laws of nature, he does not know 
what is put on the original machine of the universe. There is no interposition 


of man, who merely reads the results on the machine; and no natural 
philosopher can say that any event cannot possibly happen. If he tells 
me it cannot, I have a right to say, " For aught you know, the Maker of 
the machine determined at that particular period to meet a certain moral 
exigency, which He foresaw, and supplied by this operation taking place." I 
say that Babbage has triumphantly proved such violations of the observed 
laws of nature to be possible ; and (we must always bear in mind) that such 
events may or may not be miraculous. We read that Herodotus was told 
by the Egyptian priests that the sun rose twice in the twenty-four hours. 
" Well," the philosopher may say, " it is not true, it is contrary to the law 
of gravitation." I say there is nothing whatever in the presumed improbability 
derived from any succession of phenomena, however great, to show that we 
can absolutely and mathematically assert that such an event, whether 
miraculous or not, could not have occurred. If I am told that God heard 
the voice of man, and caused the sun and the moon to stand still, could I 
say that that was not one of the things God provided for 1 There is nothing 
in natural philosophy to compel me to deny it. When attempting to argue 
against this miracle, Dr. Colenso tells me the earth could not have stood still 
on its axis — that its motion could not have been arrested without everything on 
the earth being hurled into space. But I ask how was the earth to be stopped 
on its axis 1 It must be by a power which acted upon the motion of the 
earth. Now, I maintain that that power would equally apply to the trees 
and everything else on it. Let me take the rough comparison which 
Dr. Colenso mentions : — You are in a railway carriage, and a collision 
happens, and you are thrown forward. Why ? Because you are inde- 
pendent of the carriage ; but if you were tied in the carriage, and made 
one with the carriage, you would not be hurled forward. I would ask 
Colenso to explain by his philosophy, why, when we consider the earth's 
great velocity, every particle of the ocean at the equator is not hurled into 
space ? It is owing to the gravitation of the earth. This same gravitation 
would so hold the trees and houses to the earth, that anything stopping the 
motion of the earth would likewise so stop their motion, as to prevent their 
flight into space. I would only mention that to show that when men deny 
miracles as contrary to natural philosophy, we can get sufficient demonstration 
from mathematics to show that miracles are more probable than improbable — 
that they contradict no laws which the mathematician or observer of nature 
is bound to believe ; and I thoroughly agree with the important con- 
sideration brought forward by Dr. Gladstone, that the unhappy state of 
men's minds is from confining their attention to the inorganic world. As 
you rise from inorganics to organics, there are phenomena which would 
show that all the arguments raised against the miraculous are fallacies. It 
was well put by Mr. Reddie with regard to our Saviour's miracles, 
that when you rise from inorganics to organics, the philosopher is bound 
to admit perturbations and interruptions ; that disease is an interruption 
of the law of health, and that you cannot use the word law in the same 
sense here as you use the word law with regard to inorganic matter ; that 


you can have no disease of gravitation, though you have disease of life. 
But there is a higher thing than even life—the soul of man. Reason is still 
higher, and rises to higher laws ; and when you find in the moral world 
there is disease, and remember that the miracles of God wrought in Scrip- 
ture were to take away sin and its effects, then I say, the Christian can 
be a scientific man, and receive all the miracles recorded in Scripture, 
and yet study, with intense admiration and devotion, the works of his 
Creator ; he need have no fear in investigating them, and he may believe 
that the works of nature and revelation are in the most perfect harmony the 
one with the other. 
The meeting was then adjourned. 


To make my views clearer, I would wish to add a very few words. The 
distinction between mind and matter, and the supremacy of the former over 
the latter, are points that underlie every essential part of the subject. The 
will of man is a faculty of the human mind, a mi potestas, and the arresting 
of the falling apple at will, is an illustration of the supremacy of mind or spirit 
over matter, though not a miracle, because here the human mind controls matter 
simply within its own prescribed limits. Satan or evil spirits controlling matter 
within their prescribed limits are a further illustration of the same funda- 
mental point. To us their acts, when they exceed what falls within our 
limits, appear, and no doubt are, really miraculous, in the true sense of the 
term ; a miracle being, as Butler and Mr. Birks contend, " relative " and not 
absolute. The great Spirit of God controls matter and its laws, within His 
own limits — that is to say, without limits ; for He can have none, except 
such as would be inconsistent with His goodness. To Him there can be no 
such thing as a miracle — nature, if it includes Deity, (and I see not how it 
can exclude it,) comprises all that is possible as well as actual I am not sure 
that my short paragraph on what I termed " the real point," bearing upon 
objections drawn from physical considerations, is of itself sufficiently clear ; 
but I thought it would have appeared so, in the light of what I said in 
reference to mind and matter. I have sought to find no theory by 
which, to account for miracles apart from God. I have endeavoured 
simply to show by a chain of reasoning, that we can account for 
miracles upon principles apart from the Bible, or an appeal directly to 
God's sovereignty and omnipotence. Bishop Butler does not disagree 
materially with anything I have said on the subject. Those "higher 
laws n I referred to, are moral and not physical — those principles, in short, 
according to which all things are wisely governed. Miracles may be real or 
apparent infractions of material sequence, but they are, nevertheless, fulfil- 
ments of " higher laws " of moral government. Much confusion arises 
from confining the term law too exclusively to what it can only figuratively 



be applied, — matter, and not allowing it to be really and properly applied 
to that from which the term itself is borrowed, — mind and moral agency, 
Bntler says a miracle is something different from a settled course of 
nature ; he does not say it is something contrary to it, nor that it does 
not range under "higher laws" in the scheme of Divine Government. 
God cannot, it seems to me, act " contrary " to Himself, nor "violate" His 
own ways or acts ; but, in saying this, I do not mean to confine Him to 
material sequence. In using the terms an " Eternal now," and saying that 
with God there can be neither past nor future, I did but use the language 
of the great Augustine, Toplady, and philosophical writers of the present 
century. God's own definition of Himself, "I am," is very near to an 
" Eternal now ? and as our notions of past and future are got from our 
connection with matter, I can conceive of the disembodied Spirit being 
unconscious of the lapse of time altogether. With it " a thousand years 
may be as one day ;" and when we read in Holy Scripture, " which is, 
and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty" — I would say that 
God here speaks, as St. Paul elsewhere affirms, "after the manner of 
men." It only remains for me to thank the members of the Institute 
for the kind way in which they listened to my paper. 


ORDINARY MEETING, Dec. 17, 1866. 
The Rev. Walter Mitchell, Vice-President, in the Chair. 

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed. 

The Honorary Secretary announced that Mr. Alfred J. Woodhouse, 
M.R.L, had been elected a member of the Council. 

The following Paper was then read :— 

FORMATIONS. By Evan Hopkins, Esq., C.E., F.G.S., 
Mem. Vict. Inst. 

ALTHOUGH it may not be the intention of the members 
of the Victoria Institute to support any geological 
theory, or, indeed, any of the [doctrines of physical science 
which may be promulgated from time to time, I presume that 
papers describing the general facts of geology will be accept- 
able, inasmuch as they will furnish materials and data by which 
unreasonable speculations may be fairly met and checked. 

Had the public at large been better acquainted with the 
leading facts of geology, many speculations with reference to 
the world would never have been entertained. It is not 
sufficient to point out the absurdity of some geological specu- 
lations : we should also be prepared to show wnat are the 
actual conditions of the surface of the globe, founded on direct 
observations, in order to satisfy the inquiring mind and lead 
it in the right direction. The object of this paper is to give a 
brief description of geological formations according to my owii 
experience, as well as the experience of others, in various parts 
of the world, which I trust will be of some service in discuss- 
ing and elucidating questions connected with geology, when 
they are brought forward at our meetings as arguments 
bearing upon the Mosaic account of the creation or the origin 
of the earth. The first step towards establishing the order 
of deposition of the Sedimentary rocks was made about the 
commencement of the present century by Mr. William Smith. 
He discovered, during his surveys in England, that there were 

z 2 


apparent sequences in the order in which the beds had been 
laid down ; that the different strata could be distinguished by 
their fossils ; that this order of succession of different groups 
was never inverted; and, further, that they might be iden- 
tified at very distant points by their peculiar organic remains. 
This classification of the sedimentary rocks became then es- 
tablished, each division being marked by its peculiar fossils. 
The founders of the Geological Society of London thus directed 
their attention to this theory of deposition, and the active 
members of the Society have almost exclusively confined their 
attention to this view of the science from that time to this day. 

The ideal geological sections have made this order of deposi- 
tion familiar to all who have paid any attention to geological 
works. The ascending order of the sedimentary beds is as 
follows: — 1st, Cambrian and Silurian; 2nd, Old Red Sand- 
stone; 3rd, Carboniferous; 4th, New Red Sandstone; 5th, Lias; 
6th, Oolite; 7th, Chalk; 8fch, Tertiary. As far as the sedi- 
mentary beds of England are concerned, these sections might 
be accepted as representing the general order and character of 
the beds, provided they are not made to appear to cover each 
other over the whole area. Although this order of the beds is 
not inverted, they are not of equal extent, and are merely 
found in patches here and there, and partially overlapping 
each other, where the beds are reduced in thickness and taper 
away. Hence the sections which represent the beds as 
uniformly piled on each other, and as of equal extent, from 
the Silurian and Cambrian below to the Tertiary above, are 
erroneous. With regard to the Silurian formation, it has not 
only absorbed the Cambrian, but actually also embraces (very 
improperly) the primary slates. The first mistake made by 
geologists, in establishing this classification of the fossiliferous 
rocks, was in assuming that this variety of beds was univer- 
sally the same in all parts of the world. They further erred in 
attempting to assign to each system a distinct creation, and 
in naming the series of beds in other countries according to 
the English type, without demonstrable proof of their corre- 
spondence. This hasty and very incorrect generalization, 
together with the assumption that the fossils were all remains 
of extinct species, different from those now existing, have 
caused a very great injury to the progress of geological science, 
by giving encouragement to extravagant theories. 

A mere glance at a geologically coloured globe will show 
how insignificant, for instance, is the extent of the area of the 
carboniferous formation as compared with the entire surface of 
the earth. The same may be said of every other division of the 
sedimentary series, from the Cambrian below to the Tertiaries 


above. As investigations have been extended to distant regions 
of the earth, more especially to South America, South Africa, 
Australia, New Zealand, and India, other combinations of 
beds have been brought to light, showing the total absence 
of almost two-thirds of the grand series represented on the 
ordinary geological sections of Europe. Again, instead of 
finding beds indicating distinct creations, as assumed at one 
time, the formations present the appearance of a gradual 
transition of one variety of fossiliferous beds into another as 
the rule, and those indicating apparent distinctions as the 
exception. Daily researches show that no real breaks exist 
between the remains of one formation and another, as was 
once supposed. We now learn that those forms of animal life 
which roamed over parts of the earth before man came to 
encroach and exercise dominion over them, were not destroyed 
before his arrival, but continued to co-exist with him, though 
in other localities, until the time came when they were to 
make way for man and domestic animals more suited to new 
conditions of life and to man's requirements. 

Let us commence in the South, and reflect on the general 
character of the sedimentary deposits of Chili, Australia, New 
Zealand, and Tasmania in the south temperate zone. Chili is 
covered with a great thickness of gravel and sand-beds, in 
which are found marine remains of existing species. The 
plains of Patagonia present the same appearance : nothing but' 
thick beds of gravel deposited on the edges of the primary 
crystalline rocks, as is seen by a transverse section from Rio 
Santa Cruz to the base of the Cordillera, and in another on 
the Rio Negro. Beds of recent shells are found as high as 
1,300 feet from the level of the Pacific along this coast; and 
the apparent freshness of the shells indicates that all these 
deposits are comparatively of very recent date. 

In the south of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand, are 
found some carboniferous strata of inferior kind and very 
limited area. These are deposited on the broken edges of the 
primary slate. The general superficial deposits are composed 
of loose gravel and sand, partially cemented here and there 
by ferruginous matter. These beds contain the same kind of 
shells as those now seen on the coast, and the bituminous beds 
inclose fern-trees with leaves of the same character as those 
now growing on the banks of the Yarra Yarra river and in Tas- 
mania. In Equatorial America the sedimentary beds are better 
developed, and more numerous than in the south, and they 
can be examined on their escarpment from the plains of Mari- 
quita to the plains of Bogota ; that is, from about 800 feet to 
9,000 feet above the level of the sea, 


The plains of Mariquita are more or less covered with thick 
beds of gravel, in which are found fossil trunks of coniferae, 
fern-trees, corals, and the remains of crocodiles, similar to 
those now flourishing in that zone. The old sedimentary beds 
resting on the primary base contain deep-sea shells and corals, 
similar to those seen along the beach on the Chilian coast. As 
we ascend the series, we find there seams of coal, containing in 
the inter-stratified black shale impressions of fern-leaves, but 
not very abundant. Above these are argillaceous beds in- 
closing a variety of shells and the remains of fishes. On 
these, again, are deposited several calcareous beds containing 
fossils in abundance, such as ammonites, hamites, &c, 
some of which were described and figured in the Journal 
of the Geological Society by the late Professor Forbes in 1844. 
These fossils were collected in situ % and presented to the 
Geological Society by me in 1843, Amongst them were eight 
new species. Finally, the upper part of this great sedimentary 
formation forms the plains of Bogota, where we find again 
deposits of sand ( and gravel containing the relics of gigantio 
ammonites and oyster-shells. I examined the eastern flank of 
this branch of the Andes to the sources of the rivers Orinoco 
and the Amazon, and found very extensive beds of similar 
character to those seen on the other side ; but all their organic 
contents, with the exception of the ammonites and hamites, 
were of the same description as those now existing on the 
coast of South America. I have obtained from white clay 
seams, impressions of leaves with their green and yellow 
colours partially preserved, which indicates that the 
formation could not have been of great antiquity. As we 
proceed northward, we find the sedimentary beds much more 
developed than they are in the south, and containing tropical 
remains, even in high latitudes. If we take Nova Scotia, for 
example, we find the lower beds enclose only a few deep-sea 
shells, somewhat similar to those still living in the south. 
These are covered by the carboniferous beds, in which are 
entombed tropical vegetation, such as fern-trees, calamites, 
&c, with reptiles of the existing tropical character; and on 
these coal-seams, again, are various beds of sandstone-clay 
and gravels. 

J need not dwell further on this subject, as I trust I have 
sufficiently shown that, although the order of the sedimentary 
beds is never found inverted, their development in different 
countries is not the same; and the periods of their deposition 
have been very variable, and that, therefore, they cannot be 
correlated as to their ages. 


The Formation of the Pkimabt Rocks. 

The preceding observations refer exclusively to the forma- 
tion of the sedimentary beds, in which organic remains are 
enclosed. I shall now proceed to describe the fundamental 
crystalline rocks, on which the sedimentary rocks have been 
deposited, and in which there are no organic remains. 

On reference to the ordinary geological sections, it will be 
observed that the primary crystalline rocks, which have a 
more or less laminated structure, such as the gneiss and ar- 
gillaceous schists, are represented as sedimentary beds, like 
the superincumbent mechanical deposits; and their general 
vertical position has been attributed to a tilting action pro- 
duced by upheavals, &c. During my residence and travels 
near equatorial America from 1834 to 1842, and again from 
1844 to 1848, I had an opportunity of inspecting, surveying, 
and carefully studying the true character of this vertical struc- 
ture of the fundamental crystalline rocks, in ravines,, and in 
natural sections, from the surface to 3,000 feet deep. I then 
discovered that this structure did not arise from the subdivision 
of sedimentary beds, but had originated from a semi-crystal- 
line action of the primary base upwards, in the direction of the 
grain ; and that vertical cleavage planes gradually and imper- 
ceptibly became developed in the subterranean base during the 
changes and the transitions of the granites into the schistose 
rocks. I further found, by very extensive surveys across the 
three branches of the Andes, and for some hundreds of miles 
from south to north, that this structure was not only more or 
less vertical, but that it had also a meridional bearing. Having 
fully satisfied myself of this great fact, which, as far as I was 
then aware, had not been noticed before, I referred to the 
observations of others, thinking that such a striking pheno* 
menon could not have escaped attention. 

I naturally concluded that if such great facts as this vertical 
and meridional order in the structure of the primary rocks had 
been observed, the subject would have been pursued, and some 
hypothesis founded thereon. On referring to geological works, 
I found the following observations : — 

Von Buch remarks that " the structure and cleavage-planes 
of the laminated granite, gneiss, and schist run in a south and 
north direction, in a position deflecting little from the perpen- 
dicular, in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. , . . The same 
order of structure was observed by M. Boue in Auvergne, and 
in many parts of Spain, Portugal, and Africa." — " When I 
arrived on the coast of Venezuela," says Humboldt, " and 


passed over the lofty littoral chain and the mountains of 
granite gneiss that stretch from the Lower Orinoco to the 
basin of the Bio Negro, and the Amazon, I recognized again 
the most surprising parallelism in the direction of the beds 
(crystalline bands); that direction was from S.S.W. to N.N.E." 

During my survey of the Isthmus of Panama and Veraguas, 
where the same vertical structure is observed, the Californian 
gold discoveries were made. American geologists surveyed 
that gold region, and in their official reports I find the follow- 
ing observations : — 

" The auriferous gravel and clay are deposited on the edges 
of the primary slate rocks. The fundamental rocks are com- 
posed of bands of granite, chloritic and micaceous slate, and 
have been traced running on their edges in a north and south 
direction for hundreds, of miles." 

On my arrival in Australia in 1852 I surveyed a very large 
area of the gold districts, and found the same order of structure 
in the primary rocks as I had observed in South America and 
other places. I then published a pamphlet, with illustrated 
sections of the vertical and meridional structure of the 
Australian rocks, which was much appreciated by the gold- 
diggers. — But I shall quote from others who have travelled in 
Australia, though not geologists, this further account of the 
general appearance of the exposed crystalline rocks of that 
country : — 

"A great portion of the Australian quartz ridges," says 
Mr. W. Howitt " runs from north to south over the hills of 
the gold regions. . . . The clay slates and other rocks are 
all perpendicular. . . . Some action has taken place which 
has left them standing edgeways. . . . They are always 
true to the north and south direction, and are nearly as good as 
a compass where they prevail ; and you may trace them for 
twenty or thirty miles at a stretch, and, no doubt, they extend 
across the colony/' 

The official reports of the Gold Commissioners of New South 
Wales furnish similar descriptions. They all agree in repre- 
senting the structure of the primary rocks as more ' or less 
vertical, and with a uniform bearing north and south. I there- 
fore venture to maintain that the crystalline rocks have not 
been formed in beds, like the superincumbent sedimentary de- 
posits, but that they have been produced by a semi-crystalline 
action under the influence of some universal power, which has 
given them the order of structure which they now present ; 
and which is plainly exhibited in all deep natural sections of 
all the crystalline rocks in all parts of the world. 

I communicated these results of my geological researches in 


South America to the Fellows of the Geological Society in 
1843, accompanied with large sections of the Andes. I then 
showed, by means of real geological sections, that the primary 
slates were not sedimentary beds, but the result of a semi- 
crystalline action, and that the structure presented a most 
beautiful geometrical order ; that the crystalline rocks were 
ever active, and that the whole series crystallized from water, 
and did not present any indication of igneous action or dry 
heat. These views appeared so novel at the time that but few 
considered them worthy of attention. I then published the 
results of my investigations under the title of " Geology and 
Magnetism,"* so as to place them on record. 

In 1850 I again, on my return from South America and the 
Isthmus of Panama (which I had been surveying), read a 
paper at the Geological Society, reiterating my former 
opinions, on the structure of the primary rocks and their 
aqueous character. An abstract of the paper was published 
in the Journal of that Society. My views were again strongly 
opposed, but more especially as regards the aqueous nature of 
the granite. I then saw it was useless to bring forward 
such geological facts in opposition to the prevailing igneous 
theory. Nevertheless, I again brought the subject forward 
in a long paper, with abundance of illustrations, before the 
geological section at the Meeting of the British Association at 
Glasgow in 1855; also in the Institution qf^Givil Engineers, 
where it gave rise to a discussion, which was prolonged for 
three evenings. This paper and my general views were much 
appreciated by mining engineers, who were acquainted with 
the true character of the rocks below. About that time, or 
soon after, Messrs. Daubr^e and Bischoff made known their 
observations on hydrothermal action, or the influence of water 
in the formation of rocks. The result of their investigations 
was that the minerals which enter into the composition of 
granite were admitted not to have been formed by crystal- 
lizing from a state of fusion, but that they have been derived 
from liquid solutions, or formed in the wet way. 

Professor Ramsay was one of the most determined opponents 
of my views regarding the aqueous nature of the granite. It 
is but justice to that gentleman to state that, in compliment- 
ing Messrs. Daubr^e and Bischoff on the result of their 
investigations, when President of the Geological Society in 
1862, he remarked that " he could not pass over the papers and 
observations of one of their own members (Mr. Hopkins) on 

* Geology and Terrestrial Magnetism. By Evan Hopkins, C.E., F.G.S., 
(Lond. : Taylor & Francis, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street) 


this very same subject, which he had brought before them from 
time to time, many years before the investigations now referred 
to were undertaken." He also added, " That he believed that 
geological science was on the eve of a great revolution ." — 
In the anniversary Address of Mr. Hamilton, President of the 
Geological Sopiety last year, he made the following observa- 
tions : — 

" Recent investigations have upset the ancient theories. It 
was formerly supposed that the crystalline rocks, particularly 
granite, owed their origin to igneous action. Now, it is well 
known that these granites are chiefly arranged in layers. The 
granite passes into gneiss, and the gneiss into mica schist and 
talc schist, and this is again closely connected with the green 
and grey slates ; and it is well known that many of these rocks, 
formerly considered as plutonic, are really metamorphosed 

These remarks refer principally to the order of the structure, 
and notice that granite is divided into bands, and changes into 
the slaty structure, as was described in my sections^ and 
explained in my papers written in 1837 and since. 

I shall now quote Mr. Hamilton's observations, in his last 
annual Address, with reference to the igneous theory; which I 
had opposed for so many years, and which at length is being 
given up as untenable : — 

" Another point," observed Mr. Hamilton, " to which I would invite atten- 
tion is one of greater difficulty ; it requires the serious aid of chemistry, 
mineralogy, and the laws of physical forces. The study of the older crystal- 
line and metamorphic rocks has of late years greatly occupied the attention 
of many of those geologists who have examined the chemical and mineralo- 
gical conditions of formations. We are told that heat alone could not have 
produced the results we see ; that water was an essential element in all these 
metamorphic operations; and we find, in the works of Sterry Hunt, Daubr^e, 
Evan Hopkins, Delesse, Desor, and others, that even a high temperature was 
not necessary to produce these changes. Many of those results which have 
hitherto been considered as the effect of igneous action, are now believed to 
be owing to chemical action. It therefore appears that the time is come 
when it is desirable to investigate this question, — whether the theory of 
central incandescent heat is tenable ? Whether the plastic conditions of the 
earth, to which its oblate spheroidal form has been attributed, be not owing 
to an aqueous rather than to an igneous origin ? Water is an essential ele- 
ment in every rock, not only mechanically but chemically ; and without 
attempting to revive the doctrine of Werner, it may be questioned whether 
we have not sometimes been disposed to overlook the importance of the 
part it has played in the construction and solidification of our earth." * 

* Quart. Journal of Geo. Society. May, 1866. Vol. xxii. 


Mr. Hamilton, in making these observations on the influence 
of water in the formation of rocks, appears to have been under 
the impression that it was reviving the doctrine of Werner. This 
is a misconception of the modus operandi of the semi-aqueous 
action in the subterranean base, and shows that geologists, with 
all the advantages of modern discoveries and experiments in 
hydrothermal action, have not yet been able to comprehend 
the subject in its true light. The chemical or electro-magnetic 
wet process of crystallization, the production of metals from 
solutions, and the aggregation of crystals into large and 
compact massive rocks, must not be confounded with the old, 
crude mechanical theory, called the " Aqueous," introduced by 
Werner. It is as different from that, as the formation of a 
crystal is from that of a brick or a sediment. The one ope- 
rates by attraction and chemical action, and the other by 
mere mechanical deposition or precipitation. The former 
action produces the crystalline rocks, and causes their upward 
crystalline growth, and the latter produces the superincum- 
bent beds of deposits from substances held in suspension, and 
carried to lower levels by water. 

The Formation of Cobals. 

Before I went to South America, I had been taught to 
believe that corals were built by marine animalculse, in a 
way somewhat similar to the formation of the honeycomb by 

I have had the opportunity of studying the growth of corals, 
in great variety and magnitude, on the shores of South 
America, the coast of the Isthmus of Panama, in some of tho 
islands of the Pacific, in the Red Sea, at Singapore, Ceylon, in 
the coral islands of the Indian Sea, and on the coast of Australia, 
but I never detected a single case of a coral being built by 
animalcules. I have seen, as it were, plantations of corals, cul- 
tivated for lime. I have seen their stems transplanted, and 
have watched their growth, both the mushroom and the 
arborescent form. The former appears to grow in the water 
like a fungus or sponge, and the latter has a growth and 
development like arborescent crystals, such as aragonite, &c. 
In fact, corals are not built up by inseots, but are formed and 
grow like vegetation, having a beautiful internal structure, 
like the fibres, rings, and medullary rays of the trunks of 
ooniferae, &c. There are siliceous as well as calcareous plants 
found growing in the sea* but I shall not on this occasion 
dwell longer on these formations. My object in thus noticing 


the coral growth is to show how much we have yet to learn 
with respect to the formations and the productions of the earth. 

The Gradual Formation of Islands and Continents. 

We have abundant evidence that the continents were not 
suddenly formed in their present shape : they gradually ac- 
quired it by progressive enlargement of the crystalline growth, 
and successive elevations and depressions. 

Australia presents a good example of this terrestrial action. 
The wharfs at Melbourne have risen six feet above the level 
of the sea during the last twenty years ; i. e., a rise at the rate 
of four inches per annum. The coast of Lacepede Bay has 
upheaved eighteen feet in the last sixty years. This slow rate 
of upheaval, if it has continued during the last five hundred 
years, would be sufficient to raise two-thirds of Australia above 
the level of the sea. Indeed, a large portion of the interior 
of that country is still covered with lagoons of brackish water, 
and the whole of the low lands are strewed over with marine 
shells, similar to those seen on the bordering coast. 

The upheaval is by no means uniform. In Western Australia 
it is less than in the south-east, and in some parts on the north 
the land is subsiding. The flat country in Western Australia 
is strewed over with beds of oysters and cockle-shells, of the 
species still existing in the adjacent seas, and these are found 
in various terraces, from two to twenty feet above the level of 
high-water mark. The remains of a vessel of considerable 
tonnage have been discovered in a shallow estuary near Vasse 
Inlet, which is now shut out from the sea. New Zealand, 
like Australia, is likewise more or less covered by compara- 
tively recent beds of sands and gravel, containing marine shells 
similar to those now existing in the adjacent sea, occa- 
sionally mixed with the remains of terrestrial animals which 
have only recently become extinct, some of them having been 
seen alive in the last century. 

The elevation of Tasmania is comparatively of a recent 
date. A great portion of what now constitutes the site of 
Hobart Town had been under water at a not very remote period. 
This is proved by the extensive deposits of comminuted 
shells, all of recent species, which are met with, for miles, 
along the banks of the Derwent. Some of these deposits are 
at an elevation of upwards of one hundred feet above high- 
water mark, and from fifty to one hundred yards from the 
water's edge, plainly showing thereby that a very recent ele- 
vation of the land has taken place. Judging from the condi- 


tion and comparative freshness of the shells and corals, the 
emergence of Tasmania from the sea could not be assigned 
to many centuries. Indeed, the general aspect of the southern 
part of Australia indicates comparatively modern upheaval, 
at first rapidly and then somewhat slowly, but, probably, subject 
to periodical increased intensity in the subterranean forces, as 
observed on the coast of Chili. 

In the Bay of Panama, along the banks of the river Bayano, 
I have seen several terraces of marine beds, from the coast 
to about fifty feet above high-water mark, of comparatively 
recent origin. Since the town was built the upheaval has 
been sufficient to render the port worthless excepting for 
small boats and canoes. Hence the subterranean action is 
never at rest, and is constantly, although imperceptibly, rising 
or depressing the surface of the earth. The fundamental base 
of the dry land is composed of an aggregation of crystals, 
formed into masses of rocks of various degrees of compact- 
ness, from mere pasty consistency to the hardness of quartz, 
presenting various structures, from the compact granular to 
the laminated formations known by the names of granites, por- 
phyries, gneiss, and schistose rocks. 

The predominating crystals of which the fundamental base, 
or the primary rock, is composed, are quartz, felspar, mica, 
talc, hornblende, chlorite, schorl, carbonate of lime, sulphate 
of lime, fluor spar, &c, &c. Besides these conspicuous crys- 
tals there are also disseminated in the primary rocks, either 
in minute grains or in solution, all the known metals ; and 
these are often seen gradually developed by crystallization 
from their solvents in subterranean vacuities, caverns, mineral 
veins, &c, and the aggregated crystalline compound becomes 
active en masse. 

The crystals of which the primary rocks are composed could 
never be the production of incandescent matter, as they all 
require a certain proportion of water in combination for their 
formation, to which their transparency is in many instances 

Thus, crystals of sulphate of lime are of a glossy trans- 
parency, and of regular figure : this is due to water ; heat 
them and they crumble into a white powder. Quartz 
contains from 5 to 20 per cent, of water ; felspar from 3 to 10 
per cent. ; and many compounds as high as 45 per cent, of 
water. All the rocks, the most solid and compact, lose a large 
proportion of their weight on being exposed to the sun, and 
many decrepitate when exposed to strong heat: the weight thus 
lost being water. Indeed, there is scarcely a substance known 
but what is either found in solution, or may be dissolved in an 


aqueous compound. The apparent insolubility of quartz was 
at one time the argument held in favour of the igneous theory, 
although silica was found in solution. Silica is now artificially 
dissolved, and can be obtained as plastic as clay ; therefore 
there is not a single case connected with the materials of 
which the globe is composed to warrant the assumption that 
they originated from fire. On the contrary, all the observed 
facts confirm the belief that the crystals first came forth and 
grew from water, and that the lands have gradually risen from 
the deep. 

The evidence of successive elevations and degressions is so 
manifest as not to require further remarks. The evidence is 
equally strong that the various deposits of organic remains 
have not only been lifted from the deep, but have also been 
carried en masse from clime to clime at a slow rate, inasmuch as 
the deposits of the northern hemisphere, as far as the Arctic 
region, contain all the organic productions of the world. 
This subject, however, will have to be treated separately, in 
connection with the probable ages of geological formations 
founded on astronomical data. 

Superficial Changes. 

The changes going on over the face of the earth are much 
more rapid than the public at large appear to be aware 
of. The deposits in deltas are frequently formed in great 
thickness, in a comparatively short time, by mountain torrents, 
floods and avalanches. The great region between the rivers 
Orinoco and the Amazon is intersected by rivers, and covered 
here and there with shallow lagoons, subject to periodical 
floods. This country is so overloaded with thick and gigantic 
vegetation as to render it impenetrable to bulky animals. In 
these regions man is considered as a being not congenial to 
such a state of nature. The earth there luxuriates in its 
gigantic palms, fern-trees, club-mosses, and various rank and 
succulent plants. The crocodiles, sharks, iguanoes, &c., are 
masters of the rivers ; and the jaguar, pecari, tapir, boa, and a 
variety of reptiles, rove and infest the banks, and the high 
grass surrounding the lagoons, nothing impeding their increase; 
and are almost the sole possessors of the country— as in the 
imagined primeval world— without fear and without danger of 
being'disturbed by any human being. Were this region to sink 
320 feet, the whole surface would be covered by the Atlantic 
ocean, and the eastern declivity of the Andes would become 
again what it was before, a shore of the ocean. In many parts 
of the country are large plains partially covered with gravel, 


and periodically subject to droughts, rains, heavy floods, inun- 
dations, and denudations. Some of the lagoons become dry, 
and the thick mud at the bottom, when in a moist state, 
incloses alligators and other amphibious reptiles during the 
dry season. They remain entombed like eels, in a somewhat 
dormant state, and come to life again in the rainy season if the 
dry lagoons be not in the interim too thickly covered by 
gravel. In the upper regions during the rainy seasons land- 
slips occur daily, and large masses of forests and trees of 
colossal dimensions are brought down, and the banks of the 
rivers and the lower plains become frequently strewed over 
with the debris. Some of the large marshes and lagoons are 
often changed in a day into plains of gravel, and the sandy 
plains are converted into lagoons teeming with life. The delta 
of the Amazon exposed to these periodical floods comprises 
an area equal to one-half of England. 

I remember a great flood and an avalanche which occurred on 
February 19th, 1845, on the eastern flank of the central Andes. 
Immense masses of ice and boulders gave way on the upper 
part of the Paramo de Kuiz, in latitude 5° north, and came 
down the ravines in awful torrents of muddy water, with ice, 
large granitic and porphyritic boulders, broken fern-trees, &c, 
laying waste many square leagues of the hot plains below. 
The destruction of human beings, animals and property was 
immense. Two or three rivers in the plains were choked, and 
their channels changed ; and over many square miles of the 
fertile plains were deposited several feet of sand and gravel, 
inclosing trunks of trees belonging to the upper cold regions 
mixed with those flourishing in the hot countries below. The 
tobacco, sugar and guinea-grass plantations were completely 
destroyed, and upwards of 1,000 natives perished by this 
glacial deluge, or avalanche, in less than twelve hours. The 
quantity of sand and gravel deposited on that day was esti- 
mated at upwards of 250 millions of tons. The ice and 
boulders brought down from the snowy region to the hot 
plains below killed a very large quantity of fish and reptiles. 
The beds of sand and gravel may be still seen occupying a 
very large area, and in places clothed with rank vegetation, 
but the catastrophe is almost forgotten amongst the inhabit- 
ants. Were an ardent young student of geology, trained in 
the recently-accepted geological theory, to visit this district 
now, and examine the formation, he might possibly conclude 
that it belonged to the glacial period, and was of very remote 
antiquity. I could mention various and extensive changes 
which have taken place in the interior and along the coast of 
South America since the Spanish conquest, but I need not 


dwell on them on this occasion. I shall conclude with noticing 
some of the changes which have been, and still are, going on 
in Africa and Asia. 

M. Charles Martins, of Montpellier, gives the following 
account of the physical characters of the great Sahara, or 
desert, in the province of Constantino : — 

" We entered a district composed of grey, blue, yellow, and red marks, 
associated with conglomerates and limestones, cut up into deep ravines by 
the torrents which, during the rainy season, descend from the rock-salt 
mountains. These ravines, from fifty to sixty yards in depth, were so close 
to each other that it would have required several days to reach the foot of the 
mountain, distant only a few miles in a straight line, through this labyrinth 
of gorges separated by sharp narrow ridges. Let those geologists who wish 
to describe the erosive action of pluvial waters set aside the wretched 
examples they quote to illustrate their argument ; let them visit Algeria, and 
gain their inspirations from the ravined district of Djebel-el-Mela and the 
mountains of the Kabyle. There they will see how the erosive power of 
water is able, under our very eyes, to transform a level plain into a mass of 
mountains as varied and broken in their forms as those which have been 
caused by the elevation and fracture of strata." 

The Sahara itself is a dried-up sea-bottom. No correct 
estimate can be made when the inland sea disappeared, but the 
indications presented by the marine deposits favour the idea 
that the event was not very remote. M. Martins observes : — 
" When it took place, the Mediterranean existed as it is now, 
for we find in the Sahara the shells of the same mollusca which 
still live on its shores." Indeed, a very large area of the 
Sahara is still below the level of the Mediterranean Sea, from 
which it is separated by an isthmus of sand and gravel. The 
communication having been thus closed, the inland sea-waters 
have been absorbed and evaporated. "Were this isthmus 
broken through, a large area of the Sahara would again 
become a sea." These changes bordering the African coast 
appear to have been brought about more from the influence of 
prevalent winds and currents, tropical rains, and the sand- 
storms of the desert, than from any great upheavals. Drifted 
sands in eastern Africa have overwhelmed the temple of 
Jupiter Ammon and the villages on the west side of the Nile, 
and have thus converted the scenes of habitation and cultivation 
into a barren, sandy desert during the last three thousand 
years. Look at Thebes and behold its colossal columns, 
statues, temples, obelisks, all desolated and dilapidated. Yet 
its hundred gates were celebrated by Homer, and its magnifi- 
cence praised during its decline even by the Romans. It and 
other great cities, including Carthage, flourished within the last 


3,000 years. The drifting of the sands of the Nubian desert 

K>duces remarkable changes in a comparatively short time, 
e encroachment of the Nubian -sandy desert is irresistible, 
and the population is gradually emigrating to Lower Egypt. 
Where the land has been abandoned, the advance of the sand 
on the cultivated districts is becoming more apparent. About 
sixty-five miles north of Wadi Halfeh the desert has covered a 
great alluvial plain, which had formerly been under cultivation, 
and is approaching the river, so that the trunks of the palm- 
trees are completely surrounded with sand for upwards of 
fifteen feet from their roots. Although rain seldom falls in 
Nubia, yet, when such is the case, the fall is remarkable for its 
violence, as testified by the magnitude of the water-courses 
and tne heaps of boulders, gravel, and sands. I could mention 
numbers of other changes which have been brought about 
during a few centuries, of the same character as those which 
geologists have ascribed to many thousands of years. Even 
the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which have been dis- 
covered entombed in the vicinity of Vesuvius, were all but lost 
to history. Had it not been for Dion Cassius incidentally 
noticing their destruction, about a century and a half after the 
catastrophe (which occurred about 1,785 years ago), their ages 
would, doubtless, have been computed as of many thousands of 
years. If, then, these changes have been so much overlooked 
in the centre of the civilized world, we cannot expect to obtain 
complete accounts in other and less favoured regions. 

Had it not been for the records of Holy Writ and of profane 
history, the relics found in the mounds of Nineveh would, 
doubtless, have been assigned to countless ages past, like the 
mounds in the basin of the Mississippi, which have been com- 
puted as 50,000 years old. Two thousand five hundred years 
ago Nineveh flourished in all its grandeur. Never did any 
city equal it in greatness and magnificence, yet it is now buried 
in oblivion, and its site overwhelmed with sand. Where is 
Babylon, the glory of kingdoms ? The very ground on which 
it stood is a scene of desolation — drifted sands and pools of 
water. Yet this great capital of the Chaldeans was in all its 
splendour as late as about 2,200 years ago. 

The scenes of our terrestrial habitation are not permanent, 
but ever changing. I have appealed to demonstrable facts ; 
but the alleged myriads of years required to effect such changes 
are purely imaginary, totally unworthy of those who seek the 
fundamental facts of science ; and they ought not to be used as 
the foundation of arguments against the veracity of the 
Mosaic record. It is my firm persuasion that the more closely 
we study the actual conditions of the earth and its true geo- 



logical changes, setting aside all rash speculations, the 
stronger will become our convictions of the substantial truth 
and marvellous accuracy of the Holy Scriptures, in the account 
of the Creation in Genesis, and in other allusions to the facts 
of nature throughout the sacred text. 

The Chairman. — I need scarcely call upon you to return thanks for this 
valuable paper, the more valuable as it is bristling with facte, gathered from 
a very extensive survey of the globe* It is not a paper made up from 
'researches in geological works. It bears the impress of actual investigation, 
and of such investigation as few men have opportunities of making. I cannot 
but conceive that the vast mass of facte brought before us must be of very 
great value in the records of this Institute, and that they will be quoted from 
those records by many with gteat satisfaction. 

Professor Oliver Byrne. — I have been viewing this subject from a 
different stand-point to that of Mr. Evan Hopkins ; but I think that the 
conclusions and calculations I have come to will establish without much 
doubt the truth of his observations) carried further down than he was able to 
see. Astronomers say that this earth has six motions — the annual, diurnal, 
precession of the equinoxes, solar nutation, lunar nutation (established by 
theory and not by observation), and the collapsing of the planes of the 
equator and ecliptic* I say there are only three — the annual, diurnal, 
and the right motion of the earth's axis. I have travelled over the whole 
country Mr. Evan Hopkins has surveyed ; I have been in South America, 
and up the Nile, and had an opportunity of seeing that he is perfectly 
correct in his statements, as far as I could investigate. But the mathematical 
reason of all this is simple indeed. The earth being an oblate spheroid, 
revolving on its axis, has a protuberance at the equator, making the diameter 
there twenty-six miles greater than the diameter through the poles. If this 
earth was a perfect globe, the action of the sun and moon upon it — as a 
perfect globe — would have no influence to change the spinning position of the 
body. It is not a change of the whole body, axis and all, but a swinging 
of the body upon a consecutive axis, that changes the latitude of any place. 
There are twenty-six miles of a bulb always changing their position ; and the 
action of all the particles must be perpendicular to tangent planes and in the 
direction of the plumb-line, from this combined motion* The feet is, that 
sand being loose, it nearly obeys the same laws of motion as a fluid like water ; 
but the hard rock of the earth changes altogether and all at once. This pro* 
tuberance progresses continually round the earth; and twentynrix miles 
of a mountain moving on consecutively, causes all these changes. And 
that this motion of the earth is in existence can be proved as easily as 
anything in the multiplication table. Then if we take and examine the 
changes that have taken place in sun-dials — the one dug up in Hercula- 
neum for instance, — we find that the position of the dial at the time it wad 
in use, would not tell the time correctly now. Take another instance — the 
city of Philadelphia, in our own time ; — Market Street and Broad Street 


cross at right angles, and the instrument with which Philadelphia was laid 
but is still in existence ; yet the whole city of Philadelphia has moved in 
accordance with this law. The bases of all churches, laid out east, west, 
north, and south, have changed. There is not a single observatory in the 
world in which an astronomer has taken his latitude where such astronomer 
does not differ from his predecessor ; and that this does not arise from errors 
is proved, because the difference is always in one way. It is very extra- 
ordinary that all the " errors " run one way, and in every place, according to 
this law. In our own country, on the plains of Norbury, in Wiltshire, the 
Druids erected their stones in an ellipse, to receive the rays of the sun at 
the period of the summer solstice ; but it is now 12£ degrees from that 
position. You can get any number of facts to prove the soundness of Mr. 
Evan Hopkins's views, that the rocks are perpendicular, and that changes of 
position take place ; and that not so much time as millions of years is 
required, as some suppose. It would not take 500 years, under certain 
circumstances, to change the whole country altogether, or even to raise the 
whole of the bed of the Pacific Ocean. Geologists tell me that insects are 
there building upwards from the bottom at the rate of 4J inches a year. 
Fancy insects doing this over the entire bed of the Pacific ! No. It is the 
foundation rising. We are gradually going out of our present latitude ; and 
so our climates change, and everything else changes in accordance. 

Captain Fishbourne. — I may mention a fact which is rather relevant to 
this discussion. When, in the reign of the Empress Catherine, the city 
of Krasnajask was discovered in Siberia (it is some twenty-five years since I 
read the narrative, but to the best of my recollection that was the name), 
M. Pallas, a Frenchman, was sent to report upon the discovery ; and he 
found amongst other things sun-dials, but the gnomons were not set at an 
angle to suit the latitude. His explanation was that these sun-dials had 
been imported from a previous centre of civilization, and that the people 
were ignorant of their inaccuracy. But that, of course, is not likely ; for if 
they used them they would have found that they would not give time cor- 
rectly. This would quite agree with the supposition of Mr. Byrne, that the 
situation itself had altered in latitude ; and so that the sun-dials found 
there were suitable to the place— to the city of Krasnajask, when it was in 
its original position, and when founded. 

Mr. Reddie. — As bearing upon some of the views put forward in the 
paper read by Mr. Hopkins, I will quote a paragraph which I observed in 
the Dublin Daily Express of the 20th of November. It states, that at a 
meeting of the Royal Dublin Society, 

" Mr. Robert H. Scott read his translation of a paper by Professor Oswald 
Heer, of Zurich, 'On the Miocene Flora of Atane-kerdluk and North 
Greenland.' The paper was interesting both from a botanical and geological 
point of view, and it went to prove from fossil specimens of forest trees at 
Atane-kerdluk, in North Greenland, especially the Sequoia sempervirens 
(red-wood), that Hie climate of Greenland had formerly been thirty degrees 
higher than at present ; the ordinary temperature of the locality being now 
twenty-one degrees, while the most northern latitude in which that plant 

2 A 2 


now grows in Europe is about fifty-three degrees. The paper concluded by 
stating that it would be impossible, by any arrangement of the relative posi- 
tions of land and water, to produce for the northern hemisphere a climate 
which would explain the phenomena in a satisfactory manner. It must 
only be admitted that we are face to face with a problem whose solution, 
in all probability, must be attempted, and, doubtless, completed, by the 

I have now in my hands a paper which I am about to read, after a few 

words of explanation. It is written by a gentleman, a practical chemist, 

who had heard that Mr. Hopkins's paper would be read here this evening, 

and among other things that it would call attention to the now impugned 

doctrine that granite is an igneous formation. A friend of mine, and a 

member of the Institute, now present, knowing that this gentleman had been 

engaged in making experiments on granite, and that his conclusions were 

opposed to those of Mr. Hopkins, let him know that we were about to 

discuss this subject ; and I requested that he might be invited to send us a 

paper giving his results, that we might hear both sides. He had said that 

he supposed we did not care for " facts " in this Institute ; to which I replied 

that facts were what we especially cared for. I am, therefore, about to read 

what he has sent me, — not as a regular paper, that has been presented in the 

ordinary way and passed the council, — but I wish to bring it before you with 

this explanation ; and I wish myself individually to do so, all the more, 

because I have, in the Scientia Sctmtiarum, and on other occasions, called 

public attention to the fact that the theory of granite being an igneous 

formation had been given up by geologists. I believe Mr. Hopkins was one 

of the first, if not the very first, who impugned that doctrine ; for he did so 

nearly thirty years ago. It is certainly now acknowledged by Sir Charles 

Lyell, and Mr. Hamilton, the President of the Geological Society, and 

indeed by all " authorities " among geologists, that it was an error to suppose 

that granite is an igneous crystallization, or that the centre of the earth is 

now in an incandescent state, heated up to 195,000 degrees of temperature, 

as had been deduced from the nebular hypothesis. I cannot, however, say 

that this paper (which is by Mr. Lewis Thompson, M.B.C.S.,) carries conviction 

to my mind. I rather think Mr. Hopkins will claim some of its facts as being 

rather upon his side, but that is the author's look-out. I only wish to put 

the arguments forward, even although I am not convinced by them, because 

we do wish in this society to hear all sides of every question we take up. 

But Mr. Thompson, I must add, although he does not believe in the aqueous 

formation of granite, is by no means a supporter of the nebular theory ; and 

he endeavours to destroy that hypothesis, while believing in the igneous 

formation of granite. So that if Mr. Thompson's experiments are sufficient 

and his reasons sound, we shall have the nebular theory twice slain — first by 

water, and now again by fire ! But let us hear Mr. Thompson himself. His 

paper is as follows : — 

The object of the present paper is to institute an unprejudiced comparison 
between certain well-established facts and' a particular theory of the forma- 
tion of the earth, known as the " Nebular Theory." According to this theory, 


the earth was at one time an immense volume of white-hot vapour, which, by 
loss of heat and subsequent condensation, was resolved into a globular mass 
of white-hot fluid, that slowly cooled down, and after an enormous lapse of 
time became the solid compact sphere upon which we live. Much of the 
argument in favour of this nebular hypothesis has been drawn from the fact 
that the substance called " granite," and which forms a great part of the 
crust of the earth, bears upon it distinct evidences of igneous fusion at some 
previous period of its existence. Admitting, then, the fact that much of the 
granite of the earth was once in a perfect state of fusion, — I ask, does the 
solidified granite of the present day afford, as it ought to do, undeniable 
proofs that it has cooled down and become solid in the extremely slow and 
gradual manner implied in the nebular theory ? Now, I have examined a 
great number of specimens of granite from various parts of the world, and so 
far from supporting the nebular theory, they all tend to show the extreme 
inaccuracy of that theory. Such, at least, is my "opinion ; but upon this 
point I leave every one to form an opinion for himself, merely remarking 
that the experiments and results I am now about to relate may be, and I 
hope will be, repeated and verified or contradicted by many other inquirers 
after truth. I have said that granite ought to afford undeniable proofs of the 
rate at which it has cooled down and become solid from the fused condition, 
and I will here explain in what those proofs consist. Granite is made up of 
an aggregation of three or four different substances, which merely cohere 
together, and have been designated by mineralogists as felspar, quartz, mica, 
and hornblende. But if these substances were once in fusion, and then con- 
stituted one uniform fluid, it is clear that in cooling they must have obeyed 
the existing laws of chemical affinity, and have arranged themselves into 
their present relative positions before the period of actual solidification. That 
they did obey the ordinary laws of chemical affinity has been proved by their 
analysis, which shows that they have been formed in accordance with the 
rules of atomic proportion ; and that the law of gravitation was then in force 
will not be denied by the nebular theorists, since it is upon this law that their 
whole theory rests. If, then, the substances constituting granite, that is to 
say, the felspar, quartz, mica, and hornblende, segregated themselves during 
the period or fusion, and were at the same time subject to the law of gravita- 
tion, it is beyond doubt that they would arrange their respective positions as 
regards each other in the exact order of their gravitation, or, as it is palled, in 
accordance with the attraction of gravitation, just as we see a piece of lead 
sink in water, and oil swim upon its surface. That the said process of solidifi- 
cation was not rapid but extremely slow requires no illustration, for this con- 
stitutes a part of the nebular theory ; consequently, there was abundant time 
to meet the requirements of gravitation. But it may be urged that perhaps 
the gravitating power of all these substances maybe alike and uniform, con- 
sequently, there might be no disposition for any one of them to sink under or 
to swim upon the others, and therefore, if felspar, quartz, mica, and horn- 
blende possess exactly the same specific gravity, a melted mixture of them 
would probably cool down into just such a regularly arranged granular mass 
as is exhibited to us by an ordinary piece of granite. Here, then, was a 
practical question : are the components of granite all alike in specific weight, 
or are they different ? It is now more than two years ago since I set myself 
down to investigate this matter, and during that time I have examined 
granite obtained from almost every quarter of the globe — from Siberia, 
Norway, Saxony, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, the Mont Cenis Tunnel, Upper 
Egypt, the Himalaya Mountains, the Cape of Good Hope, Australia, New 
Zealand, Patagonia, California, and Nova Scotia. As a result of this labour, 
I am enabled to say most authoritatively, that not only do the components in 
question differ in their specific gravities, but that this difference is sufficiently 


great to Tender the production of granite under the conditions of the nebular 
theory an utter impossibility. In fact, had the cooling and solidification of 
granite taken place in the slow and gradual manner indicated by that theory, 
it is certain that the felspar, quartz, mica, and hornblende would have 
arranged themselves into at least three separate and distinct layers, having 
not the least resemblance to granite. The uppermost of these layers would 
have been felspar, the next quartz, and the lowest would have consisted of 
mica and hornblende. Such a view, be it observed, is in strict accord with 
the laws of nature, and, in making the assertion, I become only the exponent 
of that force which is known as the attraction of gravitation. By an average 
of all my experiments I found the specific gravity of granite to be 2*654 ; 
that of felspar derived from granite 2*45 ; that of quartz 2*63, and that of 
mica and hornblende to vary from 2*82 to 3*17. If, therefore, we suppose a 
mixture of felspar, quartz, mica, and hornblende fused together into one 
fluid, and then left to cool gradually for many days under the influence of 
gravitation, it is undeniable that these ingredients would separate and form 
distinct layers exactly in the order which I have pointed out, just as mud 
under the same influence falls to the bottom of water, and cream rises to the 
surface of milk. Viewing, then, the incredible time assumed in the nebular 
theory for the cooling and solidification of the whole globe, it ought to follow 
in the face of these different specific gravities that the separation of the 
felspar, quartz, mica, and hornblende should be found most complete and 
perfect ; whereas in granite we find nothing but evidences of an imperfectly 
crystallized and hastily cooled mass. The evidences of chemical absurdity in 
the nebular theory do not, however, stop at this point. By that theory it is 
asserted that after the vapour period the earth remained for many ages in 
the form of a fluid sphere, subject meanwhile to the influence of gravitation, 
so that all the heaviest and most fixed of its elements ought to have settled . 
down towards the centre of the globe. As, however, we find, even in the 
outer crust, highly ponderous bodies like gold and platinum, we have a right 
to infer from the above theory that the portion of the earth under that crust 
is composed of matters having an enormous specific gravity. But we know 
by experiment that platinum is more than twenty-one times heavier than an 
equal bulk of water, and, following out the nebular hypothesis, we are com- 
pelled to conclude that the specific gravity of the whole globe is at least 
equal to that of platinum. Nevertheless, it has been proved by the most 
careful calculations that the whole earth, viewed as a planet, cannot be more 
than five or six times heavier than its own bulk of pure water ; so that it is 
impossible for its interior to be filled with substances heavier, or even so 
heavy, as gold and platinum. 

Having satisfied myself that granite could not have been produced accord- 
ing to the slow nebular notion, I determined to try what effect rapid cooling 
would have upon fused granite. For this purpose a cavity was chiselled out 
in a lump of Aberdeen granite, and a piece of granite from the Himalaya 
mountains in India was placed in this ^cavity. The piece in question 
weighed 740 grains, and, by the action of a powerful oxy-hydrogen blow- 
pipe, it was fused in less than five minutes into a fluid, having the consis- 
tence of thin syrup, and being then allowed to cool, in less than two minutes 
it became solid. When quite cold, the fused mass was detached and 
examined. Its resemblance to the mineral called obsidian, proved most 
striking, so much so indeed, that when compared with a sample of dark- 
coloured obsidian from Iceland, it was only with great difficulty identified. 
To granite it had not the least resemblance, and as I had entirely repu- 
diated the idea of the production of granite by slow cooling, so now I 
abandoned all thoughts of a rapid cooling process ; consequently nothing 
remained but a supposition that some length of time, though not a long 
time, had been employed in the granitic formation. 


Looking round for something analogous to this in the processes of our 
manufacturing industry, I was not long in discovering one which not only 
resembles, but most singularly illustrates that formation. It is a process in 
which a fused fluid is employed, composed of different substances, having 
different colours and different specific gravities exactly as in the case of the 
components of granite ; and this fluid can be cooled down rapidly or slowly, 
or in a way that lies between these extremes ; and the results of these 
different rates of cooling and solidification may be watched and recorded. 
The substance in question is the article known by the name " mottled soap," 
which, as any one may see, has, when recently cut, very much of the appearance 
of Scotch granite. This substance on being taken from the copper, is a fused 
fluid, and if a portion of it is cooled rapidly, it concretes into a homogeneous 
Bolid of a dark uniform hue, somewhat like our artificial obsidian ; if, how- 
ever, the fused soap is cooled very slowly, the dark-coloured portions of it, 
which are also the highest in specific gravity, all fall to the bottom, and 
leave the upper portions quite white, and free from any colour or mottling. 
The art of making mottled soap consists in so arranging the time of cooling, 
as to allow the dark-coloured parts to gather themselves together in little 
masses, by the time the whole of the soap is so cooled as to begin to solidify, 
and thus prevent the descent of the heavy dark portions. The imperfectly 
crystallized state of granite, and the uniform diffusion throughout its whole 
substance of the dark and ponderous particles of mica and] hornblende, 
all bespeak a result so identical with that produced by the above process, as 
to leave no doubt on an unprejudiced mind of similarity in the cause of 
their production. Now, it so happens, that the period of tune in which the 
separation of the " mottle " and thickening or solidification of the soap takes 
place, is from twenty-four to thirty-six hours ; and if I had never read in the 
fable anything to guide me as to the time employed in the solidification of 
granite, I should have unhesitatingly fixed upon the above hours as the only 
period in which granite could possibly have been formed. That at the 
creation it was foqned by the agency of the ordinary laws of nature, I 
entirely deny, for by these iaws the interior of a large mass of non-conducting 
material like granite could never lose its heat so rapidly as to prevent 
crystallization ; in proof of which, we see in extensive irruptions of volcanic 
lava that require years to cool, there are produced large, distinct, and well- 
defined crystals of basic felspar, to which mineralogists have given the name 
" Leucite," from their white colour ; and this alone might serve to satisfy us 
that granite had not been slowly cooled. 

With regard to the theory which considers granite to have been formed by 
solution from water, I feel that very little need be said. There are certainly 
many strong arguments of a chemical nature that stand in direct opposition 
to such a hypothesis ; but I shall content myself by bringing forward only one 
objection to it. It is this, that all the water in our planet is quite in- 
sufficient to dissolve the solid portion, even if that solid portion were as 
soluble as common salt. A saturated solution of common salt consists of 
twenty-seven parts of salt, and seventy-three parts of water ; consequently 
these would require to be the relative proportions of land and water accord- 
ing to this preposterous assumption of solubility. But if the specific gravity 
of the whole globe be 5*6, then these twenty-seven parts, or in other words 
the solid portion of the globe, must have a specific gravity of 17*7, which 
would seem to indicate that nearly all the solid matter was pure gold. In 
reality, however, granite, if it be soluble at all in water, is so to a very 
trifling extent ; and to assume that it can be dissolved in 1,000 times its 
weight of water is therefore, to say the least of it, greatly favouring the 
water hypothesis. But, if the whole of the solid matter of the 
globe had ever been dissolved in 1,000 times its weight of water, 
then from the gravity of the earth it follows that the specific weight of 


that solid matter must have been 4,500 times greater than that of water, 
and more than 200 times heavier than platinum ! As to the action of 
water at high temperatures and under enormous pressures, it would seem 
that the originators of this idea are ignorant of the fact that water can only 
be heated up to a certain point under any pressure, without ceasing to be 
water. Thus M. Cagniard de la Tour long ago proved by experiment, that 
ether contained in a sealed-up tube and heated, became wholly converted into 
vapour in a space twice its original bulk, and with a pressure of between 
thirty-seven and thirty-eight atmospheres : alcohol did the same, exerting a 
pressure of 119 atmospheres ; and water became altogether vapour at a tem- 

Eerature below that of melting zinc. To talk, therefore, of the action of red- 
ot or white-hot water, is simply ridiculous. 

I have now arrived at that stage of my undertaking in which nothing 
more remains than for me to describe the simple means employed for deter- 
mining the specific gravity of the constituent parts of granite, and I do this 
with a pleasant hope that others will be induced to repeat my labours. To 
ascertain whether the granite contained combined water, the sample was 
placed with some chloride of calcium for twenty-four hours in the exhausted 
receiver of an air-pump ; it was then carefully weighed and heated red hot, 
but in no instance did any loss of weight occur ; therefore granite does not 
contain combined water. The granite was next reduced to a coarse powder, 
and 500 grains of this were put into an ordinary 1,000 grain specific gravity 
bottle, which, being filled up with distilled water, was weighed, and the 
weight so found deducted from 1,500 gave a result to be used as a divisor of 
the 500 grains of granite, from the product of which the specific gravity of 
the granite was found. And I will here remark that this mode is more accu- 
rate than the common plan of weighing in water a single piece ; because there 
are always fissures and sometimes cavities in minerals, and these fissures 
remain filled with air and buoy up the mineral so as to vitiate the result. 
To obtain the specific gravity of felspar, quartz, mica, and hornblende, the 
same process was followed ; but much trouble requires to be taken for the 
purpose of separating these components of granite from each other. It is 
not difficult to separate the mica and hornblende from the quartz and felspar 
after the granite has been coarsely powdered ; but it requires a strong light, 
good eyesight, and much patience to pick out the mica from the hornblende, 
and still more to separate the quartz from the felspar ; and this last constitutes, 
in fact, the greatest difficulty in the whole proceeding. 

Having read this paper, I must now once more repeat that it does not 
carry conviction to my mind. Without attempting to criticise it throughout, 
I shall briefly notice one or two of the points wherein it appears to me to be 
defective. Mr. Thompson promised us facts ; but he has only given us the 
result of a single experiment And what does it teach us ? Not, in my 
opinion, what he draws from it. He melts a few hundred grains of granite 
and lets it cool ; and he obtains something like obsidian. He tells us this 
fused granite cooled rapidly ; and he assumes that had it cooled more slowly 
it would have cooled into granite, instead of obsidian. I must demur to that 
assumption. The experiment appears to me only to prove that, if the mate- 
rials of granite were ever in a state of fusion, the result would be some 
homogeneous matter like obsidian, and not granite. He thinks the result 
would have been different if the fused granite had been more slowly cooled. 
But he has not verified that by experiment. He has given us no facts to 
prove this conclusion. I will notice another point where the reasoning does 


not satisfy me. You will remember in one part of his paper Mr. Thompson 
objects to the predominance of water in the earth, and states that if that were 
the case, then the specific gravity of its solid parts must be nearly that of 
gold. Now, were that so, not only should we haye a new Plutonic theory ! 
but it would really after all be only in accordance with what was stated in 
the address of Mr. Grove, as President of the British Association, last 
August — namely, that instead of the heaviest matter of the earth being near 
its surface (as we have long been taught), it is probably more solid and 
heavier as it gets nearer the centre. But apparently Mr. Thompson's sole 
reason for rejecting this, is merely that it is contrary to the Newtonian 
theory as to the mass of the whole earth ; for it is upon that theoretical 
assumption, and not upon facts, that the whole reasoning is based. It is 
enough for me to point out, that at any rate, that theory has not stood in the 
way of Mr. Grove propounding, as now most probable, what is not only con- 
trary to the Newtonian doctrine as to the earth's mass, but also to the nebu- 
lar notion that the earth's centre is filled with matter in a state of igneous 
fluidity. In conclusion, I am obliged to say that if we consider that MM. 
Daubree and Bischoff made certain experiments with granite which convinced 
them that it is a watery crystallization, and also that they have brought over 
the leading geologists to this view, although it was contrary to all their pre- 
conceived notions and previous teaching, I think it was incumbent upon Mr. 
Thompson to have noticed the experiments of these eminent chemists, and, 
if he could, to have shown where they were defective and faulty ; and not 
merely to have made a detached and single experiment of his own, which 
appears to prove very little, and even that little, in my opinion, to be rather 
against what he deduces from it. 

Mr. Hopkins. — I can see clearly, from the observations of Mr. Thompson, 
that he has been making experiments from cabinet specimens of granite. 
Suppose you were to make experiments from cabinet specimens of wood, to 
ascertain something as to the sap of a tree in its living state, you would ob- 
tain very strange results ! Now, if you want to ascertain the real constitution 
of granite, you should study the granite in situ. For instance, in one place 
you may have a granite undergoing change. That granite is composed of 
hornblende, felspar, mica, and so on, and is undergoing lamination. If you 
take a piece of that granite, and cut a block of it, and weigh it, you will find 
that it loses weight after exposure to heat, just the same as minerals. We 
allow so much for* water, and we call that water mechanically combined. 
Granite is saturated with water ; it is always saturated, and is not a mere 
dry block. — 

Rev. W. Mitchell. — May I ask you, Mr. Hopkins, to answer one question, 
as you are well acquainted with deep mines, Whether you can go to any depth 
where you do not find water ; and whether water is not the greatest enemy 
of the miner ? 

Mr. Hopkins. — It is the most difficult thing the miner has to contend 
with, and you cannot go to any depth without finding it. Wherever you go, 
you come to water, whether in granite or any other formation. With refer- 



enoe to the constitution of granite, if you take separate crystals, you will also 
find that each crystal has a certain proportion of water chemically or minerar 
logically combined ; and if you drive it out, the crystal becomes opaque, and 
loses weight, the quantity varying from two or three to twenty per cent. 
Without water, crystals are not formed, especially rock-crystals. Again you 
may have granite, with gold in saturation. In another place you will find 
the gold becoming gradually developed out of the granite as the granite under- 
goes changes, and coming out like large round balls. Elsewhere you find a 
little gold in dissemination, but not like the other. There is change constantly 
going on ; the condition of the rocks is never stationary, but it either changes 
into lamination, or into fractures, something like the bark on the trunk of a 
tree. Now, I say we have such an immense accumulation of facts, that we 
ought now to insist upon facts ; and not go on trying to find out what is in 
the centre of the earth, and so on. Let us attend to facts as we find them, and 
see what we really have ; and let us leave theories for the future. I will add 
one or two words with regard to minerals. I have no hesitation in stating 
that I will go to any rock and say what it contains by looking at it. If you 
let me see a good surface of it, I will state whether it contains gold, silver, 
tin, and so on. I am speaking as to the metal the rock will contain, and 
net as to the quantity of the metal, for that will depend on the amount of 
deposits and accumulations, but I am referring only to the nature of the 

The Chairman. — I shall only make a few observations from my own point 
of view, in confirmation of what Mr. Hopkins has said with regard to the 
formation of granite. In doing so I may express some of my objections to 
the theory advanced by Mr. Thompson. The experiment performed by the 
latter gentleman on a small scale, as Mr. Hopkins has reminded us, is wrough 
out by nature on the most gigantic scale. Wherever we find active volcanoes, 
we find them melting granite, or some other primary rock. Lava, obsidian, 
pitchstone, and such-like volcanic products, are but molten primary roclts. 
Now I ask what analogy do any of these substances bear in their structure 
to the so-called primary rocks ? Are they anything like granite, for instance ? 
Mr. Thompson admits that the structure of granite could not be formed 
from any of these substances by slow cooling. That I take to be an im- 
portant admission. I cannot believe it is produced by quick or any inter- 
mediate rate of cooling. We have not to go far eVen in London for a practical 
demonstration of the structure of the primary rocks. Our bridges and public 
buildings show us that granite is composed of well-formed crystals of several 
distinct minerals, interlacing one another in every direction ;— crystals of 
quarts, mica, and felspar. On London or Southwark Bridge you may see 
crystals of the latter substance as large, or larger, than your hand, presenting 
to the casual observer the appearance of large fossil bones. The constituents 
of granite not only contain water chemically united to them, but they also 
contain water mechanically diffused,-- a fact which can hardly be reconciled 
with their production by crystallization from a molten mass. Now let us 
consider the crystalline constituents of granite — we have crystals of quartz, 


consisting of silica in a state more or less free from admixture with foreign 
substances. Then we have the crystals of mica and felspar, the most com* 
posite of mineral substances. These three substances are distinct from one 
another in crystalline and chemical composition. But then the micas and 
felspars admit of the greatest and most puzzling varieties of chemical con- 
stitution ; one chemical element taking the place of another, without altering 
the crystalline character of the mica or the felspar in which the change of 
composition is found. We may have some conception of the composite 
structures and varieties of these minerals, when we state that nearly all, if 
not all, the metals and the mineral constituents of the sedimentary rocks may 
be found in the granites or other primary rocks. We have potash and also 
soda felspars. In the micas as well as the felspars we have not only the 
principal constituents, silica and alumina, but also soda, potash, lime, iron, 
magnesia, and water, replacing each other with most puzzling variations. 
We all know how gold is diffused through the quartz of some kinds of granite. 
The microscope is said also to reveal native iron among the constituents of 
granite. Doubtless all the metals and other minerals found in the cracks 
and crevices of the primary rocks were once in combination with these rocks. 
But I never could form any clear conception of the origin of metallic and 
mineral veins till I read Mr. Hopkins's work on the subject. Very high 
geological and mineralogies! authorities used to speak of gold as the most 
recent of all the metals ; — how more recent than others, I could not conceive. 
Some went so far as to imagine some recent geological event, when, as it were, 
a golden shower had fallen from heaven to earth ! The experiments of 
Daubr^e and Bischoff have proved the mechanical and chemical combination 
of water in granite. Though the authorities of the Geological Society were 
not convinced by Mr. Hopkins, their faith in the igneous origin of granite 
was first shaken, I believe, by my friend Mr. Clifton Sorby's microscopical 
researches. By investigating microscopically the minute bubbles in crystals, 
he was able to determine whether the crystal was formed from an aqueous or 
some other liquid solution, or produced by cooling from a molten mass. 
With regard to Mr. Thompson's assumption of the insolubility of silica in 
water, the geysers in Iceland afford a direct refutation of this. How, again, 
without the solubility of silica, can we account for the formation of silicified 
woods, without injury to the most delicate vegetable fibres ? Dr. Bowerbank 
has shown that the most delicate structures in sponges (which he had found 
destroyed by decomposition only a few hours after the death of the sponge), 
are faithfully and perfectly preserved in the flint. Before electro-metallurgy 
was discovered, we could form no idea as to the method nature takes to 
separate metals from the rocks through which they may be diffused. We 
have now, however, learnt the power of electricity in separating metals from 
the aqueous solutions of their salts. Soon after the discovery of this fact, a 
copper electrotype was produced without any artificial battery, by imbedding 
wires in two different strata of a mine, and using the galvanic current thus 
produced. Here then we have a demonstration of the electro-magnetic action 
of the earth, and of its power in the formation of mineral products. This 


goes far, in my opinion, to show that Mr. Hopkins's hypothesis of the for- 
mation of metallic veins is one well supported by foots which come under 
our observation, analogous to those he attributes to the natural magnetic 
currents of the globe, operating constantly, though almost imperceptibly, on 
a large scale. 

The meeting was then adjourned. 




ORDINARY MEETING, Jan. 7, 1867. 
The Rev. Walter Mitchell, Vice-President, in the Chair. 

The minutes of the previous Meeting were read and confirmed ; and 
the Hon. Secretary then announced the names of the following Members 
and Associates who had been elected since ; the first Meeting at the com- 
mencement of the Session: — 

Members : — Benjamin Bond Cabbell, Esq., M.A., F.R.S., &c, &c, Bencher 
of the Middle Temple, J.P., and Dep.-Lieut. for Middlesex, 52, Portland 

Place, W. (Vice-Patron and Life Member.) 


"William Henry Elliott, Esq., 10, Claremont Crescent, Surbiton 
Hill, S.W. (Life Member.) 

Thomas Ball, Esq., Bramcote, Notts ; Charles Lloyd Braithwaite, Esq., 
Kendal, "Westmoreland ; John Colebrook, Esq., M.R.C.S. Eng., late 
H.M. Madras Army, 31, Moore Street, Chelsea, S.W. ; Rev. "William 
Reyner Cosens, M.A., Oxon. et Cantab., Incumbent of Holy Trinity, 
Westminster, 10, Bessborough Gardens, Pimlico, S.W. ; Rev. M. Davi- 
son, 5, Lansdowne Place, Lansdowne Road, Hackney, N.E. ; Charles 
Deacon, Esq., 5, Orsett Place, Westbourne Terrace, "W. ; Thomas Fol- 
jambe, Esq., M.A., J.P., and Dep.-Lieut for West Riding of Yorkshire, 
Acomb, near York ; Alexander Gailey, Esq., Harengey Park, Hornsey, N. ; 
Sydney Gedge, Esq., Mitcham Hall, S. ; Bruce Goldie, Esq., Russell 
Street, Chelsea, S.W. ; Thomas Gray, Esq., H.M. Civil Service, Assoc. 
I.N.A., 9, St. Martin's Road, Stockwell, S. ; John Hall, Esq., Bondicar 
House, Blackheath, S.E. ; James Peddie Harper, Esq., M.D., Edin. 
Univ., M.R.C.S.E., Clydesdale Villa, Windsor, Berks ; Rev. Sir W. R. 
Tilson-Marsh, Bart., M.A., Oxon., Oxford and Cambridge Club, Pall- 
mall, S.W. ; Arthur C. Rainey, Teignmouth, Devon ; John Henry 
Sadler, Esq., 34, Norfolk Road, Brighton ; John Shaw, Esq., M.D., 
Viatoris Villa, Boston, Lincolnshire ; William Stewart, Esq., of Glen 
Stewart, Prince Edward's Island, 12, Cottage Road, Eaton Square, S.W. ; 
James K Vanner, Esq., Stamford Hill, N. ; William Vanner, Esq., 
Stamford Hill, N. 

2 C 


Associates ; 1st Class : — Rev. George Ranking, B.C.L., Cantab., Beulah 
Road, Tunbridge "Wells ; 2nd Class : — Mrs. Curteis, Aldenham, St. 
James's Road, Tunbridge Wells {Life Associate) ; Mrs. Harward, Chesham 
House, Nelson Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight ; Mr. Thomas G. Salt, 
7, Downs Park Road,. Shacklewell, N.E. 

The above Members and Associates were elected upon the Foundation 

The following Associates have also been elected for the current year : — 

Associates, 1st Class :— Joseph Delpratt, Esq., 54, Queen's Gardens, 
Hyde Park ; 2nd Class — Mrs. Flint, 34, Arundel Gardens, Ken- 
sington Park, W. 

The following books were announced as having been presented to the 
Society : — 

Adam and the Adamite, By Dominick M'Causland, Esq., Q.C., M.V.I. 

From the Author. 

Sermons in Stones. By the same. From the Author. 

The Honorary Secretary then stated that he had much pleasure in 
announcing, that the Foundation List, as now printed, corrected to 31st 
December, 1866, contained 276 names, viz. : — 

2 Vice-Patrons, 
10 Life Members, 

224 Members, Annual Subscribers, 

3 Life Associates, 2nd Class, 

37 other Associates, 13 1st Class, 24 2nd Class, 



He also observed that the total assets for the year, in Donations and Sub- 
scriptions, including the donations of sixty guineas each from two Vice- 
Patrons, amount to £868, — of which the sum of £500. 10s. is from Annual 

Professor Kirk then read the following Paper : — 


By the Rev. John Kirk, Professor of Practical Theology 
in the Evangelical Union Academy, Glasgow ; Author of 
" The Age of Man Geologically considered in its bearing on 
tlie Truths of the Bible" fyc, fyc. ; Memb. Vict. Inst, 

IT seems too like presumption for an (C outsider " in 
Geology to undertake such a subject as this. We are 
reminded of a young man who had been trained in the 
country as a cartwright, and came to town seeking employ- 
ment as a joiner. He was asked if he had ever made a 
window, and replied that he had not, but that he had made a 
harrow, which he said "was very like it." We fear that 
the present paper will be only too like the writer's former 
" harrow," to pass well for the window which is required. It 
will lack symmetry, and its joints will admit, all too freely, 
the "cold winds of criticism/' And yet the glorious sun, 
whose radiance is truth, may condescend to shine through it. 

Geology is literally the " word of the earth." Not a word 
which the earth speaks, but the word which is spoken or 
written concerning the earth. 

A word is a symbol of thought. It is only in so far as 
geology expresses thought regarding the earth, that it is any- 
thing. It is not the structure of the globe itself — nor is it 
the absolute truth regarding that structure — neither is it the 
expression of that truth. It is only the expression of that 
imperfect thought by which the structure of the earth is re- 
presented in the minds of men. He who is aware of this, 
will guard against the idea that Geology is any part of that 
supreme knowledge to which all other thought must ultimately 

When we take up Geological Science in this view, it lays 
itself out to us in three great divisions. There is that 
thought in which what are called the facts of the science are 
represented, then that representing the true inferences drawn 
from the comparison of these facts, and, last, the conjectural 
ideas that are allowed to represent themselves, but do not 
represent any other reality. If we wish to illustrate the first 
of these divisions of thought by an example, we may take up 

2 c 2 


a piece of rock, composed, we shall say, of sandstone, which 
has just been broken from the solid bed in the side of a hill. 
In that piece of rock, and as it lay in the mass of the 
mountain, you see the form of a shell. The words which 
express the thought of that fact form a part of that which is 
fundamental in geology. Apart from this kind of thought 
there is nothing real in the science. 

In that which is called a fact of this character, you have 
three things; first, the material rock with its shell-form; 
then the thought representative of that object in the mind ; 
and third, the words which express that thought. The piece 
of rock is the same to all who see it; the thought repre- 
senting it in one mind is probably, so far, unlike the thought 
of it in every other ; and the words expressive of such thought 
are both varied and changeable. Yet, from the nature of the 
rocky fact itself, there is at least a possibility of such repeated 
observation as issues in the all but perfect agreement of 
informed minds, as to the thing itself. It is the expression of 
thought regarding such facts, about which the truly scientific 
mind is ever most careful. 

But to proceed to another example. You are on the sea- 
shore ; and observing a portion of the sand which the tide has 
left exposed, you see that true shells, as they have been left by 
the molluscs that dwelt in them, are imbedded in that sand 
exactly as the form you have seen is imbedded in the rock. 
As yet we assume that you do not reason on the relations of 
those objects — you only observe them as they lie. Your 
thoughts represent little more than that which has reached you 
through your senses, sufficiently cogitated to present the 
objects to your mind. We shall suppose that you go on ob- 
serving objects of this character, you are treasuring that kind 
of thought, out of which all geological science must be 

But there is, as we have said, a second and very different 
description of geological thought. You bring together the 
form of a shell which you have observed in the rock, and a 
real shell which you observed in the sand ; comparing them, 
you perceive that, in many respects, they are not alike. They 
are indeed similar, but also strikingly dissimilar, and you 
begin to reason or to infer, that is, to form certain thoughts 
which represent relations of objects rather than the objects 
themselves. You then leave the thoughts representative of 
the mere facts for totally different thoughts, and enter a region 
in which difficulties and dangers greatly increase. It is then 
that you begin to realize what Steno, one of the ablest of 
geologists, wrote about two centuries ago. He says, addressing 


the Grand Duke of Tuscany, — " Most Serene Duke, it often be- 
falls travellers in unknown countries, that, hastening through 
a mountainous tract unto a town standing on the top of a 
hill, they think it hard by, as soon as they come in sight of it ; 
the manifold turnings and windings of the ways thereto retard 
their hopes unto a trouble. For [at first] they have only a 
view of the nearest tops, but they cannot guess what is hidden 
by the interposition of those high places ; whether they be 
lower hills or deep valleys, or plain fields, because with their 
flattering hopes they measure the distances of places by the 
eagerness of their desires." It is not the sight of the hill- 
tops, nor even that of the town beyond them, that gives 
the traveller difficulty and the danger of error, but the effort 
to infer, or to form the thought which will truly represent the 
unseen distances between. "So," says this learned Dane, 
"Having once or twice seen those grounds out of which are 
digged up shells and other such-like things cast up by the 
sea, and found that those earths were the sediments of a 
turbid sea, and that everywhere we might estimate the num- 
ber of times how often the sea had been troubled here and 
there, I hastily not only imagined by myself, but confidently 
affirmed to others, that the whole business [of accounting for 
them] would be an inquiry and work but of a very short 
time."* There was no difficulty to Steno as to the facts ; but 
when he undertook to produce the true thoughts which would 
represent the relations of those facts, he found himself encoun- 
tering the real labour of science. 

And yet it is not in the field of patient inference from 
facts that either great difficulty or danger may be said to 
lie. If we are satisfied to accept the certain thought which 
fairly compared facts gradually give us, and to wait patiently 
for the increase of such true light, we may learn an incalcu- 
lable amount of relative truth. Much that cannot be seen 
will be as real to us, and even far more powerful and precious 
in its influence over us, than anything that is seen. For 
example, we may observe how a shellfish lives and dies in the 
bed of the sea at the present time, leaving its shell in the sand, 
and observe also the form of a similar shell imbedded in a 
rock, which is now high above the level of the sea. We may 
note that this shell-form is so imbedded as to indicate that the 
creature to which the shell belonged lived and died in the 
very sand of which that rock is composed, just as the modern 
one lived and died under the present waters of the ocean. We 

* I quote from an interesting old volume entitled " The Prodromus to a 
Dissertation concerning Solids contained icithin Solids, &c. By Nicokus 
Steno. Englished by H. 0. 1671 ;" pp. 1 to 4. 


have now got a great amount of relative thought, and we may 
go on till we believe, without difficulty and without danger of 
error, that the sea at one time flowed over the rock in which 
this shell-form lies imbedded. So long as the facts are duly 
observed, and the inferential thoughts derived from their com- 
parison are manifestly related to the facts, and beyond reason- 
able doubt, so long we are gathering real science in its two 
great branches of trustworthy instruction. 

But, as we have indicated, there is a third kind of geological 
thought, which is of a value very different from that of the 
other two. This consists of speculation, which, so far as dis- 
covery has gone, has no realities to represent. The universe 
of waking dreams, to which this introduces us, consists of all 
the possibilities of falsehood as well as of all those of truth. 
It is the region from which, we humbly think, true science 
warns us away. That which is, and so may be known, as dis- 
tinguished from that which is not, but may be conceived, is the. 
proper object of science. It is very important, when we would 
trace the relations of geological science to the Sacred Scrip- 
tures, to consider whether we mean the relations of our first 
two divisions of thought, or the relations of that so-called Geo- 
logy, which is chiefly composed of conjecture. Because of the 
extremely speculative tendencies of scientific men, it has be- 
come painfully necessary that we should sift most carefully that 
which is presented, even by the highest authorities, as geolo- 
gical science ; so that we may be able to distinguish between 
truth which is the logical result of real discovery, and doctrine 
held as above all price, but which may be abandoned to-morrow 
by those who are to-day its most earnest advocates. Because 
of the fond partiality, too, with which favourite hypotheses are 
almost worshipped, and on account of which every opposing 
idea is disliked, it is needful that we take up, and examine with 
great care, views that have been scouted by scientific leaders 
and their followers as worthless. 

Almost all truth has been thus treated for a time by the 
rulers of public opinion during whose reign it has been dis- 
covered. To those who have not yet attended to the evidence 
from which it really springs, and who are more in love with 
speculation than with real science, every new truth will appear 
conjectural, it may be even preposterous; while conjecture, 
which has no evidence whatever to support it, may seem 
highly reasonable, only because it happens to accord with 
some preconceived notion. 

It is in connection with this part of our subject that we 
come upon the phrase " negative evidence." At first sight 
one would naturally imagine that this means really " evidence." 



But it means nothing of the kind. Such evidence as could, 
with any degree of propriety, be called " negative/' must be 
such as would nullify some apparently positive evidence opposed 
to it. That to which we are geologically introduced has no 
such effect. The " negative evidence " of popular geology is 
only that to which we are told the Irishman appealed, when, 
on being confronted with a witness who saw him commit the 
crime laid to his charge, said he could bring a dozen who did 
not see him do it ! For example, what were called the " oldest 
rocks " were termed azoic, because it was held that no relics of 
life had been found in them. And, as it was held also that 
no relics of life had yet been found beneath them, it was con- 
cluded that there was no life on the surface of the globe when they 
were formed. The support of this great doctrine was " nega- 
tive evidence." In other words, it was not known that there 
were no relics of life in such rocks — there was no evidence of 
such a negative ; on the contrary, very worthy testimony had 
been borne to the effect that such relics had been found — still 
less was it known that there never had been such relics of 
life in these old rocks ; there is now, at least, pretty strong 
evidence that such relics existed, though they have been obli- 
terated in the alterations of the strata in which they were 
inclosed. It was only generally unknown whether or not there 
were such relics of life in these rocks, or under them. We 
need scarcely say that all conclusions built on ignorance, under 
the name of " evidence," are utterly unworthy of science. 

We have only too strong reason to dwell on this conjectural 
aspect of the fashionable geology of our day. It is not as if 
only details, here and there, were turning out false, while grand 
principles remain evidently sound. If we do not err greatly, 
the speculative geological mind is escaping out of one great 
mistake in principle, and that only by leaping into another as 
great, because its leaders are careless as to the true nature of 
their reasoning. When their evidence is not " negative," or, in 
plain words, not nothing, it is so utterly inadequate as to leave 
the ideas supposed to be proved by it, as purely conjectural as 
if they were altogether matters of fancy. For example, look 
at the measurement of time believed to be required for the 
upheaval of land. " Two feet and a half in a centwry " is a 
scale of upheaval adopted for the whole world during all time ! 
Why ? Only because there is apparently some reason to think 
that the coast of Norway, taking the north and south of that 
coast together, and striking the average, is rising at that 
two-and-a-half-feet rate ! The observation of this mere scrap 
of the earth's surface, and that during a very brief period, is 
taken as if it furnished a sufficient standard for measuring the 


rate of upheaval over all portions of the surface of the globe, 
during all ages ! Such is a grand instance of conjectural 
chronology as given by one of the greatest of geologists.* 

As another instance, I take the following from the same 
high authority; in this case, an estimate of time required for the 
growth of strata. A mass of rock, sixty feet thick, is described 
as composed of layers so thin, that " thirty are sometimes 
contained in the thickness of an inch." Observe the " some- 
limes ;" for we notice in the same description, that there are 
" occasionally " layers of flint, carbonaceous matter and marl, 
each, as it seems from the statement, " about an inch thick." 
We have no means given of estimating the " sometimes," nor 
the ' e occasionally," that are manifestly of so much importance 
in the case. Between the layers, of which thirty occupy an 
inch, there are marks of plants that have been flattened and 
carbonized, and " sometimes myriads of small Paludince and 
other fresh-water shells." Here again we observe the " some- 
times" For these thin leaves are spoken of as each " a page of 
history representing a certain period of the past." And we 
are evidently expected to draw the inference that these rocks 
that have grown in ancient lake-bottoms, were formed " with 
extreme slowness." We are also told that masses of the same 
sort of rock, two hundred feet thick, are found in the neigh- 
bouring hills.f Well, how shall we calculate ? Say that we 
give each bed of shells a year to grow, and forget the " some- 
times," and the ' i occasionally " also. One inch of rock gives 
thirty years ; a foot of rock, 360 years ; sixty feet, 21,600 years ; 
200 feet, 72,000 years ! Here, then, is a magnificent idea. 
But what if abed of such very small snail-shells should not take 
a month to grow ? What, if some of the flattened plants might 
be floated and laid on the surface of the lake-bottom every 
day ? What, if the heat at noon and the cold at night, affect- 
ing the muddy water, might account for the layers ? Each of 
them would then represent but a day, and thirty of them only 
a month. What if the " sometimes," in which the snail-shells 
occur, should be very few times, and the u occasionally," 
which qualifies the occurrence of layers an inch in thickness, 
should be really very often. How do our 72,000 years dwindle 
down into a very brief period indeed ! If we take for example 
any pond into which muddy streams are flowing, it is surely 
anything but according to experience and observation among 
those who should clean such places out, that they take ages to 

* LyelPs Antiquity of Man, edition 1863, pp. 58, 178. Sir Charles 
advances this two-and-a-half-feet scale in exceedingly cautious language, but 
argues upon it as if it might be fairly assumed. 

t Lyell's Elements of Seology, edition 1865, page 229. 


silt up. The slightest change in the inflowing water, or in 
the temperature of the pond itself, causes a change in the 
character of the silt, and, consequently, a layer in the mass 
forming in the bottom. As to larger bodies of water, Page 
says that the clayey mud of the great Chinese rivers is esti- 
mated as borne down at the rate of two million cubic feet in an 
hour ! The Ganges alone carries 700,000 cubic feet every 
hour into the Bay of Bengal ! * Must such work take tens of 
thousands of years to deposit sixty feet of muddy strata ? In 
the face of the most common facts, it is surely anything but 
scientific to magnify duration into measureless vastness, when 
looking at a rock which has been formed by such means. 

So much for the three great divisions of what is generally 
understood to be geology. It seems well that we should have 
the true nature of that which passes as the science clearly 
before us, ere we attempt to trace its relations in any direction. 

Sacred Scripture is the Word of God. It is a word which 
He speaks, rather than one spoken concerning Him. It is the 
expression of thoughts which He desires to communicate to 
men. It is, we think, really an expression of a portion of His 
own thoughts, although that expression is necessarily cast in 
the mould of human language, and these thoughts are neces- 
sarily made to take a form such as allows them to enter the 
human mind. When thus viewed, the Sacred Scriptures 
present us with several divisions of very important matter for 

First of all, we think it necessary to note a very important 
distinction between what is called "the Book of Nature," 
and the written revelation contained in the Bible. The created 
universe is, no doubt, in a certain sense, an expression of 
divine thought, and as such, it is a " Book " which may, and 
ought to be " read;" but it is not such an expression as that 
which takes the form of human language, and comes near, in 
that language, with the treasures of the divine heart, to the 
human soul, as man comes near in speech, and opens his heart 
to his fellow-creature. If, for example, we observe attentively 
what a man does, we may generally so far learn what that man 
thinks and feels. If we note what he does to us, we may 
generally so far learn his state of heart towards us. Man's 
works are, in this sense, an expression of his thoughts 
which may be read. So far, we may speak of his doings as 
the Book of his deeds; and we may also thus far speak of the 
" Book " of God in nature. But this is very different from 

* Page's Advanced Textbook of Geology, edition 1856, page 31. 


that which takes place when any one either speaks to ns him- 
self, or sends another, for the purpose of telling us the very 
thoughts and feelings of his own mind. In the former case, 
we indirectly learn something regarding the mind of the 
person whose deeds we observe, — we may, so to speak, guess 
correctly his feelings and designs ; but, in the latter case, we 
are not left to guess at all. We are directly told the thoughts 
and feelings, as well as the true intentions of his heart. He 
who, in any proper sense, believes in the divine authorship 
of the Bible, sees in it an expression of God's own thoughts, 
and that by Himself, as really addressing Himself to man- 

This view is greatly strengthened, when we remember that 
portions of the Sacred Scriptures consist of God's own state- 
ments of such doings of His as could not, in the nature of the 
case, be otherwise known to man. The account of the creation 
is plainly of this character. It could not be gathered from any 
other source than God's own testimony. Man seeks in vain 
for it in the so-called " Book of Nature." He finds it in the 
plain testimony of the inspired teacher, who is made to com- 
municate God's own thoughts of it to mankind. We see in it 
the teaching of the Creator himself as to His work — not the 
teaching of the work, but of Him by whom the work was 

But there are other distinctions of great moment to be 
noticed. We must not confound the noblest productions of 
men as authors, with this Word of God. To take, therefore, 
another illustrative example. If we open a book which has 
been written by one of ourselves in the ordinary way, we 
gather merely the thoughts of the man who has originally 
written the book. If we open the book of Genesis, we gather 
not merely thoughts which passed through the mind of Moses, 
but the thoughts of God, which He passed through the mind of 
the Hebrew, that they might be communicated to us. No modi- 
fication of the idea of inspiration, which allows any fragment of 
that idea to remain in the mind, can dispense with this view of 
the divine origin of those thoughts that are embodied and 
expressed in the Sacred Scriptures. These Scriptures must 
be accepted as God's" expression of His thoughts, as truly as 
man's scripture is his expression of his own thoughts, or we 
are not regarded as possessing any true Word of God in the 
Bible. What is called " the inspiration of the poet," is no 
more " inspiration," such as that of Sacred Scripture, than is 
ordinary thought of the dullest kind. Both are only the 
thoughts of human beings. But the inspiration of the Bible 
is really God's personally passing His thoughts through human 


minds, so as to cause them to be expressed in human language 
to men. 

I am careful to make this part of our subject clear, because 
the entire importance of all true defence of the Bible hinges 
on the idea of a real inspiration of the thoughts communicated 
in that record by the Infinite One. The relation of science to 
Milton's " Paradise Lost/' for example, is a matter of little or 
no moment ; and if the Books of Moses had no other inspira- 
tion than those of Milton, and others of like genius, the 
relation of science to them would be equally unimportant. It 
is the belief that God spake by Moses, and meant that the 
words which Moses wrote should express His own divine 
thoughts, and this belief alone, which gives the relation of 
Science to Scripture its intense interest. " Thus saith the 
Lord/ 1 are words that express the grand peculiarity of Sacred 
Scripture, and they can have no meaning short of that to which 
we are now directing attention. 

There is, however, another aspect of this matter which re- 
quires to be carefully considered here. If thought is to pass 
from the Divine to the human mind, that thought will be 
affected both in form and degree, because of the nature of the 
mind which it enters. It must be evident, at a glance, to 
any one, that the infinite conceptions of God cannot be com- 
prehended in the extremely limited intelligence of man. So 
must it be evident that the absolute harmony which appears 
to the Omniscient, because of His omniscience, cannot be made 
to appear to those who can, in the nature of the case, see only 
a few fragments of the vast whole. This is true even in the 
communication of truth from a largely informed to a little 
informed mind among men. If any one who has mastered a 
great subject is desirous to communicate some portion of his 
thoughts to another who is as yet very ignorant not only of 
that subject but of things in general, he must present only a 
portion of those thoughts, and that such a portion as cannot 
represent the loftiness and harmony of that which delights his 
own mind. While, then, the believer in the divine inspiration 
of the Sacred Scriptures, regards them as the expression of 
God's thoughts, he does not imagine that these Scriptures 
were ever intended to express all God's thoughts on any sub- 
ject, or to represent the harmony of truth as it is seen in the 
Infinite Mind. He means only that the thoughts, so far as 
expressed, are God's own thoughts, and hence infallibly true. 

But if these thoughts are affected by the nature of the mind 
which they enter, they are still more affected as they pass from 
one human mind to another. We all know how seldom anything 
is told twice over in exactly the same shade of meaning, and 


how necessary it is, if we would secure the truth, to have it as 
far as possible at first hand. This makes it necessary ever to 
distinguish between the teachings of the inspired writers and 
all interpretations of those teachings. Not that we would un- 
dervalue interpretation. When a mind full of vast and varied 
knowledge, reads a portion of the Sacred Scriptures, the divine 
thought which rises in that mind will be far more full than that 
which rises in the mind that has but little information. Con- 
sequently, the well-informed will often be able to help the 
ill-informed to more lofty and expanded views of divine things, 
or of things divinely spoken of, than could otherwise be reached 
by the less favoured among men. So the mind which is free 
from error, to a great extent, will be capable of far more 
truthful thought in reading the divine record, than that mind 
which has imbibed a great deal of false idea. There will be 
less mixture in the views suggested by revelation in the one 
mind, than in those which rise in the reading of it by the 
other. The man, therefore, who is comparatively free from 
misleading preconceptions, must often be of great use to the 
man who is not so. Hence the value of his interpretations. 
But if these same interpretations are allowed to take the place 
which can only be properly occupied by the sacred Word 
itself, it is not difficult to see that there must be great risk of 
evil. In so far as the interpreter enables the reader to see the 
meaning of the divine text more fully for himself, he proves of 
use and value ; but the moment the person to whom the in- 
terpretation is given is turned from thinking of the word of 
God, as addressed to his own mind, away to the thoughts of 
an uninspired interpreter, even if he is not led into error, he is 
led into a false position, in which he loses the peculiar influence 
which truth has on the mind when it is seen to come from God 

Here, then, it seems well to glance at Scripture interpreta- 
tion, as that has been affected by geological theories. The 
desire to accommodate men of science, and to accept their 
conjectures as established discoveries of truth, rather than to 
face the unpleasant consequences of sifting their statements 
so as to show the visionary character of their most cherished 
theories, has had a powerful and, we think, a disastrous effect, 
on the exposition of the Bible. It is not an easy matter for 
those who have the duties and responsibilities of active minis- 
terial life resting fairly on their hearts, to find time to cultivate 
much acquaintance with geology. If they are earnest, they 
are likely to be swallowed up with what they deem more urgent 
work, so as to excuse themselves from that labour which alone 
can enable them to judge for themselves on so complicated a 

subject. If they are not earnest, then they avoid the toil on 
other grounds. If they see in some degree the momentous 
character of the agreement of popular science with religious 
belief, and so turn their hearts to do something in the way of 
promoting that agreement, they are tempted to study rather 
the things that make for peace than those by which a really 
solid edification may be secured in the public mind. They too 
readily accept the decisions of the great leaders of science, 
and set to work to make the ideas given forth in Scripture 
harmonize with these decisions. Hence the almost incalculable 
amount of utterly groundless thought that has been made to 
overlie the clear ideas of God put before us in the Sacred 
Scriptures. It is not possible to see the relations of geological 
science to the Sacred Word, without some knowledge of the 
effect which has been thus produced on its interpretation. 

We have illustrations of this in the productions of some of 
the most noble minds. One of the first of these, a truly 
representative man of an important class, may be quoted as 
an example. Dr. John Pye Smith, of Homerton College, was 
not only a man of the most earnest religion, but also of the 
most intensely scientific spirit. In his masterly book, " On 
the Relations between the Holy Scriptures and some parts of 
Geological Science," he shows that he felt himself forced to 
give a new and startling interpretation to the teaching of the 
Bible, by what he thought were the irresistible conclusions of 
geology. It is most instructive to observe where the centre 
of this fancied compulsion lay. He imagines one opposing ' 
his views, and says, " If, for example, the objector could say 
to us, ' You have arrived at no term. You cannot show us 
the indications of a cessation of the materials which you say 
have been deposited, and which form the portion through 
which you have passed. The series may be repeated, pos- 
sibly again and again; or there may be another series of 
entirely different composition, such as precipitates from sus- 
pension in water, or products of chemical action, or results of 
igneous fusion, and so on indefinitely. Unless you had 
penetrated through all these, you can draw no conclusion on 
which dependence can be placed/ " How does the good man 
reply to this supposed objector ? He says, — " But the objector 
cannot say this. He would be guilty of a false assumption. 
The true state of the facts is the very contrary to what he 
supposes. We are acquainted certainly, I might almost say 
perfectly, with the character and succession of the deposited 
substances, which, laid upon each other, compose the crust of 
our globe ; and we know the totally different constitution of 
the materials which lie underneath. We see demonstrated 


with satisfactory clearness the distinct character and the 
opposite mode of production of these two classes of mineral 
formations. We have all the evidence that can reasonably be 
desired, of the previous condition of those underlying rocks, 
their ancient, and, at a depth not great, their present liquidity 
by heat ; their boiling up ; their extrusion, both in the melted 
state and in different degrees of advancement towards being 
cooled and hardened ; their being driven upward through the 
overlying formations of deposited layers ; their sometimes 
insinuating themselves between the previously contiguous 
surfaces of those deposits; their filling long furrows of 
outbursts, and their being laid bare in many cases to open 
daylight. It is therefore no presumption to affirm that we 
do know, with the clearness of sensible evidence, the con- 
stituent formations of the crust of the earth, their modes of 
production, their relations to each other, and the fact of their 
enveloping a mass of materials similar in composition to the 
lowest rocks, and which we have much reason to think are, at 
certain depths, still in a state of constant fusion."* "What does 
the editor of the Geological Magazine for 1865 say to this 
" certain " and almost " perfect " knowledge ? His words 
are : t( Many a range of so-called primeval granite, gneiss, 
and slate, lapping the one over the other successively for 
hundreds of thousands of feet, or of upright s primary 
schistus ' miles across, will exhibit to the geologist of to-day 
only many-times-repeated folds of an altered set of strata; 
nor will their furthest change, or granitic form, be taken either 
for primeval or intrusive granite : and whilst the latter may 
still be found, the former, or the hypothetical granite of a 
cooling globe, becomes a myth."t Sir Charles Lyell ex- 
presses the same truth still more decidedly. In the first 
volume of his " Principles," which has just Been issued, he 
says, "The progress of geological investigation gradually 
dissipated the idea, at first universally entertained, that the 
granite or crystalline foundations of the earth's crust were of 
older date than all the fossiliferous strata. It h