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Chapter 2



In this chapter we shall show that the law, which we have observed to hold as to the vanishing tendency of knowledge upon becoming perfect, holds good not only concerning acquired actions or habits of body, but concerning opinions, modes of thought, and mental habits generally, which are no more recognised as soon as firmly fixed, than are the steps with which we go about our daily avocations. I am aware that I may appear in the latter part of the chapter to have wandered somewhat beyond the limits of my subject, but, on the whole, decide upon leaving what I have written, inasmuch as it serves to show how far-reaching is the principle on which I am insisting. Having said so much, I shall during the remainder of the book keep more closely to the point.

Certain it is that we know best what we are least conscious of knowing, or at any rate least able to prove, as, for example, our own existence, or that there is a country England. If any one asks us for proof on matters of this sort, we have none ready, and are justly annoyed at being called to consider what we regard as settled questions. Again, there is hardly anything which so much affects our actions as the centre of the earth (unless, perhaps, it be that still hotter and more unprofitable spot the centre of the universe), for we are incessantly trying to get as near it as circumstances will allow, or to avoid getting nearer than is for the time being convenient. Walking, running, standing, sitting, lying, waking, or sleeping, from birth till death it is a paramount object with us; even after death-- if it be not fanciful to say so--it is one of the few things of which what is left of us can still feel the influence; yet what can engross less of our attention than this dark and distant spot so many thousands of miles away?

The air we breathe, so long as it is neither too hot nor cold, nor rough, nor full of smoke--that is to say, so long as it is in that state within which we are best acquainted--seldom enters into our thoughts; yet there is hardly anything with which we are more incessantly occupied night and day.

Indeed, it is not too much to say that we have no really profound knowledge upon any subject--no knowledge on the strength of which we are ready to act at all moments unhesitatingly without either preparation or after-thought--till we have left off feeling conscious of the possession of such knowledge, and of the grounds on which it rests. A lesson thoroughly learned must be like the air which feels so light, though pressing so heavily against us, because every pore of our skin is saturated, so to speak, with it on all sides equally. This perfection of knowledge sometimes extends to positive disbelief in the thing known, so that the most thorough knower shall believe himself altogether ignorant. No thief, for example, is such an utter thief--so GOOD a thief--as the kleptomaniac. Until he has become a kleptomaniac, and can steal a horse as it were by a reflex action, he is still but half a thief, with many unthievish notions still clinging to him. Yet the kleptomaniac is probably unaware that he can steal at all, much less that he can steal so well. He would be shocked if he were to know the truth. So again, no man is a great hypocrite until he has left off knowing that he is a hypocrite. The great hypocrites of the world are almost invariably under the impression that they are among the very few really honest people to be found and, as we must all have observed, it is rare to find any one strongly under this impression without ourselves having good reason to differ from him.

Our own existence is another case in point. When we have once become articulately conscious of existing, it is an easy matter to begin doubting whether we exist at all. As long as man was too unreflecting a creature to articulate in words his consciousness of his own existence, he knew very well that he existed, but he did not know that he knew it. With introspection, and the perception recognised, for better or worse, that he was a fact, came also the perception that he had no solid ground for believing that he was a fact at all. That nice, sensible, unintrospective people who were too busy trying to exist pleasantly to trouble their heads as to whether they existed or no--that this best part of mankind should have gratefully caught at such a straw as "cogito ergo sum," is intelligible enough. They felt the futility of the whole question, and were thankful to one who seemed to clench the matter with a cant catchword, especially with a catchword in a foreign language; but how one, who was so far gone as to recognise that he could not prove his own existence, should be able to comfort himself with such a begging of the question, would seem unintelligible except upon the ground of sheer exhaustion.

At the risk of appearing to wander too far from the matter in hand, a few further examples may perhaps be given of that irony of nature, by which it comes about that we so often most know and are, what we least think ourselves to know and be--and on the other hand hold most strongly what we are least capable of demonstrating.

Take the existence of a Personal God,--one of the most profoundly- received and widely-spread ideas that have ever prevailed among mankind. Has there ever been a DEMONSTRATION of the existence of such a God as has satisfied any considerable section of thinkers for long together? Hardly has what has been conceived to be a demonstration made its appearance and received a certain acceptance as though it were actual proof, when it has been impugned with sufficient success to show that, however true the fact itself, the demonstration is naught. I do not say that this is an argument against the personality of God; the drift, indeed, of the present reasoning would be towards an opposite conclusion, inasmuch as it insists upon the fact that what is most true and best known is often least susceptible of demonstration owing to the very perfectness with which it is known; nevertheless, the fact remains that many men in many ages and countries--the subtlest thinkers over the whole world for some fifteen hundred years--have hunted for a demonstration of God's personal existence; yet though so many have sought,--so many, and so able, and for so long a time--none have found. There is no demonstration which can be pointed to with any unanimity as settling the matter beyond power of reasonable cavil. On the contrary, it may be observed that from the attempt to prove the existence of a personal God to the denial of that existence altogether, the path is easy. As in the case of our own existence, it will be found that they alone are perfect believers in a personal Deity and in the Christian religion who have not yet begun to feel that either stands in need of demonstration. We observe that most people, whether Christians, or Jews, or Mohammedans, are unable to give their reasons for the faith that is in them with any readiness or completeness; and this is sure proof that they really hold it so utterly as to have no further sense that it either can be demonstrated or ought to be so, but feel towards it as towards the air which they breathe but do not notice. On the other hand, a living prelate was reported in the "Times" to have said in one of his latest charges: "My belief is that a widely extended good practice must be founded upon Christian doctrine." The fact of the Archbishop's recognising this as among the number of his beliefs is conclusive evidence with those who have devoted attention to the laws of thought, that his mind is not yet clear as to whether or no there is any connection at all between Christian doctrine and widely extended good practice. {4}

Again, it has been often and very truly said that it is not the conscious and self-styled sceptic, as Shelley for example, who is the true unbeliever. Such a man as Shelley will, as indeed his life abundantly proves, have more in common than not with the true unselfconscious believer. Gallio again, whose indifference to religious animosities has won him the cheapest immortality which, so far as I can remember, was ever yet won, was probably if the truth were known, a person of the sincerest piety. It is the unconscious unbeliever who is the true infidel, however greatly he would be surprised to know the truth. Mr. Spurgeon was reported as having recently asked the Almighty to "change our rulers AS SOON AS POSSIBLE." There lurks a more profound distrust of God's power in these words than in almost any open denial of His existence.

So it rather shocks us to find Mr. Darwin writing ("Plants and Animals under Domestication," vol. ii., p. 275): "No doubt, in every case there must have been some exciting cause." And again, six or seven pages later: "No doubt, each slight variation must have its efficient cause." The repetition within so short a space of this expression of confidence in the impossibility of causeless effects would suggest that Mr. Darwin's mind at the time of writing was, unconsciously to himself, in a state of more or less uneasiness as to whether effects could not occasionally come about of themselves, and without cause of any sort,--that he may have been standing, in fact, for a short time upon the brink of a denial of the indestructibility of force and matter.

In like manner, the most perfect humour and irony is generally quite unconscious. Examples of both are frequently given by men whom the world considers as deficient in humour; it is more probably true that these persons are unconscious of their own delightful power through the very mastery and perfection with which they hold it. There is a play, for instance, of genuine fun in some of the more serious scientific and theological journals which for some time past we have looked for in vain in " --- ."

The following extract, from a journal which I will not advertise, may serve as an example:

"Lycurgus, when they had abandoned to his revenge him who had put out his eyes, took him home, and the punishment he inflicted upon him was sedulous instructions to virtue." Yet this truly comic paper does not probably know that it is comic, any more than the kleptomaniac knows that he steals, or than John Milton knew he was a humorist when he wrote a hymn upon the circumcision, and spent his honeymoon in composing a treatise on divorce. No more again did Goethe know how exquisitely humorous he was when he wrote, in his Wilhelm Meister, that a beautiful tear glistened in Theresa's right eye, and then went on to explain that it glistened in her right eye and not in her left, because she had had a wart on her left which had been removed--and successfully. Goethe probably wrote this without a chuckle; he believed what a good many people who have never read Wilhelm Meister believe still, namely, that it was a work full of pathos, of fine and tender feeling; yet a less consummate humorist must have felt that there was scarcely a paragraph in it from first to last the chief merit of which did not lie in its absurdity.

Another example may be taken from Bacon of the manner in which sayings which drop from men unconsciously, give the key of their inner thoughts to another person, though they themselves know not that they have such thoughts at all; much less that these thoughts are their only true convictions. In his Essay on Friendship the great philosopher writes: "Reading good books on morality is a little flat and dead." Innocent, not to say pathetic, as this passage may sound it is pregnant with painful inferences concerning Bacon's moral character. For if he knew that he found reading good books of morality a little flat and dead, it follows he must have tried to read them; nor is he saved by the fact that he found them a little flat and dead; for though this does indeed show that he had begun to be so familiar with a few first principles as to find it more or less exhausting to have his attention directed to them further--yet his words prove that they were not so incorporate with him that he should feel the loathing for further discourse upon the matter which honest people commonly feel now. It will be remembered that he took bribes when he came to be Lord Chancellor.

It is on the same principle that we find it so distasteful to hear one praise another for earnestness. For such praise raises a suspicion in our minds (pace the late Dr. Arnold and his following) that the praiser's attention must have been arrested by sincerity, as by something more or less unfamiliar to himself. So universally is this recognised that the world has for some time been discarded entirely by all reputable people. Truly, if there is one who cannot find himself in the same room with the life and letters of an earnest person without being made instantly unwell, the same is a just man and perfect in all his ways.

But enough has perhaps been said. As the fish in the sea, or the bird in the air, so unreasoningly and inarticulately safe must a man feel before he can be said to know. It is only those who are ignorant and uncultivated who can know anything at all in a proper sense of the words. Cultivation will breed in any man a certainty of the uncertainty even of his most assured convictions. It is perhaps fortunate for our comfort that we can none of us be cultivated upon very many subjects, so that considerable scope for assurance will still remain to us; but however this may be, we certainly observe it as a fact that the greatest men are they who are most uncertain in spite of certainty, and at the same time most certain in spite of uncertainty, and who are thus best able to feel that there is nothing in such complete harmony with itself as a flat contradiction in terms. For nature hates that any principle should breed, so to speak, hermaphroditically, but will give to each an help meet for it which shall cross it and be the undoing of it; as in the case of descent with modification, of which the essence would appear to be that every offspring should resemble its parents, and yet, at the same time, that no offspring should resemble its parents. But for the slightly irritating stimulant of this perpetual crossing, we should pass our lives unconsciously as though in slumber.

Until we have got to understand that though black is not white, yet it may be whiter than white itself (and any painter will readily paint that which shall show obviously as black, yet it shall be whiter than that which shall show no less obviously as white), we may be good logicians, but we are still poor reasoners. Knowledge is in an inchoate state as long as it is capable of logical treatment; it must be transmuted into that sense or instinct which rises altogether above the sphere in which words can have being at all, otherwise it is not yet vital. For sense is to knowledge what conscience is to reasoning about right and wrong; the reasoning must be so rapid as to defy conscious reference to first principles, and even at times to be apparently subversive of them altogether, or the action will halt. It must, in fact, become automatic before we are safe with it. While we are fumbling for the grounds of our conviction, our conviction is prone to fall, as Peter for lack of faith sinking into the waves of Galilee; so that the very power to prove at all is an a priori argument against the truth--or at any rate the practical importance to the vast majority of mankind--of all that is supported by demonstration. For the power to prove implies a sense of the need of proof, and things which the majority of mankind find practically important are in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred above proof. The need of proof becomes as obsolete in the case of assumed knowledge, as the practice of fortifying towns in the middle of an old and long settled country. Who builds defences for that which is impregnable or little likely to be assailed? The answer is ready, that unless the defences had been built in former times it would be impossible to do without them now; but this does not touch the argument, which is not that demonstration is unwise, but that as long as a demonstration is still felt necessary, and therefore kept ready to hand, the subject of such demonstration is not yet securely known. Qui s'excuse, s'accuse; and unless a matter can hold its own without the brag and self-assertion of continual demonstration, it is still more or less of a parvenu, which we shall not lose much by neglecting till it has less occasion to blow its own trumpet. The only alternative is that it is an error in process of detection, for if evidence concerning any opinion has long been denied superfluous, and ever after this comes to be again felt necessary, we know that the opinion is doomed.

If there is any truth in the above, it should follow that our conception of the words "science" and "scientific" should undergo some modification. Not that we should speak slightingly of science, but that we should recognise more than we do, that there are two distinct classes of scientific people corresponding not inaptly with the two main parties unto which the political world is divided. The one class is deeply versed in those sciences which have already become the common property of mankind; enjoying, enforcing, perpetuating, and engraving still more deeply unto the mind of man acquisitions already approved by common experience, but somewhat careless about extension of empire, or at any rate disinclined, for the most part, to active effort on their own part for the sake of such extension--neither progressive, in fact, nor aggressive--but quiet, peaceable people, who wish to live and let live, as their fathers before them; while the other class is chiefly intent upon pushing forward the boundaries of science, and is comparatively indifferent to what is known already save in so far as necessary for purposes of extension. These last are called pioneers of science, and to them alone is the title "scientific" commonly accorded; but pioneers, unimportant to an army as they are, are still not the army itself; which can get on better without the pioneers than the pioneers without the army. Surely the class which knows thoroughly well what it knows, and which adjudicates upon the value of the discoveries made by the pioneers--surely this class has as good a right or better to be called scientific than the pioneers themselves.

These two classes above described blend into one another with every shade of gradation. Some are admirably proficient in the well-known sciences--that is to say, they have good health, good looks, good temper, common sense, and energy, and they hold all these good things in such perfection as to lie altogether without introspection--to be not under the law, but so utterly and entirely under grace that every one who sees them likes them. But such may, and perhaps more commonly will, have very little inclination to extend the boundaries of human knowledge; their aim is in another direction altogether. Of the pioneers, on the other hand, some are agreeable people, well versed in the older sciences, though still more eminent as pioneers, while others, whose services in this last capacity have been of inestimable value, are noticeably ignorant of the sciences which have already become current with the larger part of mankind--in other words, they are ugly, rude, and disagreeable people, very progressive, it may be, but very aggressive to boot.

The main difference between these two classes lies in the fact that the knowledge of the one, so far as it is new, is known consciously, while that of the other is unconscious, consisting of sense and instinct rather than of recognised knowledge. So long as a man has these, and of the same kind as the more powerful body of his fellow- countrymen, he is a true man of science, though he can hardly read or write. As my great namesake said so well, "He knows what's what, and that's as high as metaphysic wit can fly." As usual, these true and thorough knowers do not know that they are scientific, and can seldom give a reason for the faith that is in them. They believe themselves to be ignorant, uncultured men, nor can even the professors whom they sometimes outwit in their own professorial domain perceive that they have been outwitted by men of superior scientific attainments to their own. The following passage from Dr. Carpenter's "Mesmerism, Spiritualism," &c., may serve as an illustration:-

"It is well known that persons who are conversant with the geological structure of a district are often able to indicate with considerable certainty in what spot and at what depth water will be found; and men OF LESS SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE, BUT OF CONSIDERABLE PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE"--(so that in Dr. Carpenter's mind there seems to be some sort of contrast or difference in kind between the knowledge which is derived from observation of facts and scientific knowledge)-- "frequently arrive at a true conclusion upon this point without being able to assign reasons for their opinions.

"Exactly the same may be said in regard to the mineral structure of a mining district; the course of a metallic vein being often correctly indicated by the shrewd guess of an OBSERVANT workman, when THE SCIENTIFIC REASONING of the mining engineer altogether fails."

Precisely. Here we have exactly the kind of thing we are in search of: the man who has observed and observed till the facts are so thoroughly in his head that through familiarity he has lost sight both of them and of the processes whereby he deduced his conclusions from them--is apparently not considered scientific, though he knows how to solve the problem before him; the mining engineer, on the other hand, who reasons scientifically--that is to say, with a knowledge of his own knowledge--is found not to know, and to fail in discovering the mineral.

"It is an experience we are continually encountering in other walks of life," continues Dr. Carpenter, "that particular persons are guided--some apparently by an original and others by AN ACQUIRED INTUITION--to conclusions for which they can give no adequate reason, but which subsequent events prove to have been correct." And this, I take it, implies what I have been above insisting on, namely, that on becoming intense, knowledge seems also to become unaware of the grounds on which it rests, or that it has or requires grounds at all, or indeed even exists. The only issue between myself and Dr. Carpenter would appear to be, that Dr. Carpenter, himself an acknowledged leader in the scientific world, restricts the term "scientific" to the people who know that they know, but are beaten by those who are not so conscious of their own knowledge; while I say that the term "scientific" should be applied (only that they would not like it) to the nice sensible people who know what's what rather than to the discovering class.

And this is easily understood when we remember that the pioneer cannot hope to acquire any of the new sciences in a single lifetime so perfectly as to become unaware of his own knowledge. As a general rule, we observe him to be still in a state of active consciousness concerning whatever particular science he is extending, and as long as he is in this state he cannot know utterly. It is, as I have already so often insisted on, those who do not know that they know so much who have the firmest grip of their knowledge: the best class, for example, of our English youth, who live much in the open air, and, as Lord Beaconsfield finely said, never read. These are the people who know best those things which are best worth knowing--that is to say, they are the most truly scientific. Unfortunately, the apparatus necessary for this kind of science is so costly as to be within the reach of few, involving, as it does, an experience in the use of it for some preceding generations. Even those who are born with the means within their reach must take no less pains, and exercise no less self-control, before they can attain the perfect unconscious use of them, than would go to the making of a James Watt or a Stephenson; it is vain, therefore, to hope that this best kind of science can ever be put within the reach of the many; nevertheless it may be safely said that all the other and more generally recognised kinds of science are valueless except in so far as they tend to minister to this the highest kind. They have no raison d'etre except so far as they tend to do away with the necessity for work, and to diffuse good health, and that good sense which is above self-consciousness. They are to be encouraged because they have rendered the most fortunate kind of modern European possible, and because they tend to make possible a still more fortunate kind than any now existing. But the man who devotes himself to science cannot- -with the rarest, if any, exceptions--belong to this most fortunate class himself. He occupies a lower place, both scientifically and morally, for it is not possible but that his drudgery should somewhat soil him both in mind and health of body, or, if this be denied, surely it must let him and hinder him in running the race for unconsciousness. We do not feel that it increases the glory of a king or great nobleman that he should excel in what is commonly called science. Certainly he should not go further than Prince Rupert's drops. Nor should he excel in music, art, literature, or theology--all which things are more or less parts of science. He should be above them all, save in so far as he can without effort reap renown from the labours of others. It is a lache in him that he should write music or books, or paint pictures at all; but if he must do so, his work should be at best contemptible. Much as we must condemn Marcus Aurelius, we condemn James I. ever more severely.

It is a pity there should exist so general a confusion of thought upon this subject, for it may be asserted without fear of contradiction that there is hardly any form of immorality now rife which produces more disastrous effects upon those who give themselves up to it, and upon society in general, than the so-called science of those who know that they know too well to be able to know truly. With very clever people--the people who know that they know--it is much as with the members of the early Corinthian Church, to whom St. Paul wrote, that if they looked their numbers over, they would not find many wise, nor powerful, nor well-born people among them. Dog- fanciers tell us that performing dogs never carry their tails; such dogs have eaten of the tree of knowledge, and are convinced of sin accordingly--they know that they know things, in respect of which, therefore, they are no longer under grace, but under the law, and they have yet so much grace left as to be ashamed. So with the human clever dog; he may speak with the tongues of men and angels, but so long as he knows that he knows, his tail will droop. More especially does this hold in the case of those who are born to wealth and of old family. We must all feel that a rich young nobleman with a taste for science and principles is rarely a pleasant object. We do not even like the rich young man in the Bible who wanted to inherit eternal life, unless, indeed, he merely wanted to know whether there was not some way by which he could avoid dying, and even so he is hardly worth considering. Principles are like logic, which never yet made a good reasoner of a bad one, but might still be occasionally useful if they did not invariably contradict each other whenever there is any temptation to appeal to them. They are like fire, good servants but bad masters. As many people or more have been wrecked on principle as from want of principle. They are, as their name implies, of an elementary character, suitable for beginners only, and he who has so little mastered them as to have occasion to refer to them consciously, is out of place in the society of well-educated people. The truly scientific invariably hate him, and, for the most part, the more profoundly in proportion to the unconsciousness with which they do so.

If the reader hesitates, let him go down into the streets and look in the shop-windows at the photographs of eminent men, whether literary, artistic, or scientific, and note the work which the consciousness of knowledge has wrought on nine out of every ten of them; then let him go to the masterpieces of Greek and Italian art, the truest preachers of the truest gospel of grace; let him look at the Venus of Milo, the Discobolus, the St. George of Donatello. If it had pleased these people to wish to study, there was no lack of brains to do it with; but imagine "what a deal of scorn" would "look beautiful" upon the Venus of Milo's face if it were suggested to her that she should learn to read. Which, think you, knows most, the Theseus, or any modern professor taken at random? True, the advancement of learning must have had a great share in the advancement of beauty, inasmuch as beauty is but knowledge perfected and incarnate--but with the pioneers it is sic vos non vobis; the grace is not for them, but for those who come after. Science is like offences. It must needs come, but woe unto that man through whom it comes; for there cannot be much beauty where there is consciousness of knowledge, and while knowledge is still new it must in the nature of things involve much consciousness.

It is not knowledge, then, that is incompatible with beauty; there cannot be too much knowledge, but it must have passed through many people who it is to be feared must be more or less disagreeable, before beauty or grace will have anything to say to it; it must be so incarnate in a man's whole being that he shall not be aware of it, or it will fit him constrainedly as one under the law, and not as one under grace.

And grace is best, for where grace is, love is not distant. Grace! the old Pagan ideal whose charm even unlovely Paul could not understand, but, as the legend tells us, his soul fainted within him, his heart misgave him, and, standing alone on the seashore at dusk, he "troubled deaf heaven with his bootless cries," his thin voice pleading for grace after the flesh.

The waves came in one after another, the sea-gulls cried together after their kind, the wind rustled among the dried canes upon the sandbanks, and there came a voice from heaven saying, "Let My grace be sufficient for thee." Whereon, failing of the thing itself, he stole the word and strove to crush its meaning to the measure of his own limitations. But the true grace, with her groves and high places, and troups of young men and maidens crowned with flowers, and singing of love and youth and wine--the true grace he drove out into the wilderness--high up, it may be, into Piora, and into such-like places. Happy they who harboured her in her ill report.

It is common to hear men wonder what new faith will be adopted by mankind if disbelief in the Christian religion should become general. They seem to expect that some new theological or quasi-theological system will arise, which, mutatis mutandis, shall be Christianity over again. It is a frequent reproach against those who maintain that the supernatural element of Christianity is without foundation, that they bring forward no such system of their own. They pull down but cannot build. We sometimes hear even those who have come to the same conclusions as the destroyers say, that having nothing new to set up, they will not attack the old. But how can people set up a new superstition, knowing it to be a superstition? Without faith in their own platform, a faith as intense as that manifested by the early Christians, how can they preach? A new superstition will come, but it is in the very essence of things that its apostles should have no suspicion of its real nature; that they should no more recognise the common element between the new and the old than the early Christians recognised it between their faith and Paganism. If they did, they would be paralysed. Others say that the new fabric may be seen rising on every side, and that the coming religion is science. Certainly its apostles preach it without misgiving, but it is not on that account less possible that it may prove only to be the coming superstition--like Christianity, true to its true votaries, and, like Christianity, false to those who follow it introspectively.

It may well be we shall find we have escaped from one set of taskmasters to fall into the hands of others far more ruthless. The tyranny of the Church is light in comparison with that which future generations may have to undergo at the hands of the doctrinaires. The Church did uphold a grace of some sort as the summum bonum, in comparison with which all so-called earthly knowledge--knowledge, that is to say, which had not passed through so many people as to have become living and incarnate--was unimportant. Do what we may, we are still drawn to the unspoken teaching of her less introspective ages with a force which no falsehood could command. Her buildings, her music, her architecture, touch us as none other on the whole can do; when she speaks there are many of us who think that she denies the deeper truths of her own profounder mind, and unfortunately her tendency is now towards more rather than less introspection. The more she gives way to this--the more she becomes conscious of knowing--the less she will know. But still her ideal is in grace.

The so-called man of science, on the other hand, seems now generally inclined to make light of all knowledge, save of the pioneer character. His ideal is in self-conscious knowledge. Let us have no more Lo, here, with the professor; he very rarely knows what he says he knows; no sooner has he misled the world for a sufficient time with a great flourish of trumpets than he is toppled over by one more plausible than himself. He is but medicine-man, augur, priest, in its latest development; useful it may be, but requiring to be well watched by those who value freedom. Wait till he has become more powerful, and note the vagaries which his conceit of knowledge will indulge in. The Church did not persecute while she was still weak. Of course every system has had, and will have, its heroes, but, as we all very well know, the heroism of the hero is but remotely due to system; it is due not to arguments, nor reasoning, nor to any consciously recognised perceptions, but to those deeper sciences which lie far beyond the reach of self-analysis, and for the sturdy of which there is but one schooling--to have had good forefathers for many generations.

Above all things, let no unwary reader do me the injustice of believing in ME. In that I write at all I am among the dammed. If he must believe in anything, let him believe in the music of Handel, the painting of Giovanni Bellini, and in the thirteenth chapter of St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians.

But to return. Whenever we find people knowing that they know this or that, we have the same story over and over again. They do not yet know it perfectly.

We come, therefore, to the conclusion that our knowledge and reasoning thereupon, only become perfect, assured, unhesitating, when they have become automatic, and are thus exercised without further conscious effort of the mind, much in the same way as we cannot walk nor read nor write perfectly till we can do so automatically.


How different from the above uncertain sound is the full clear note of one who truly believes:-

"The Church of England is commonly called a Lutheran church, but whoever compares it with the Lutheran churches on the Continent will have reason to congratulate himself on its superiority. It is in fact a church sui generis, yielding in point of dignity, purity and decency of its doctrines, establishment and ceremonies, to no congregation of christians in the world; modelled to a certain and considerable extent, but not entirely, by our great and wise pious reformers on the doctrines of Luther, so far as they are in conformity with the sure and solid foundation on which it rests, and we trust for ever will rest--the authority of the Holy Scriptures, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." ("Sketch of Modern and Ancient Geography," by Dr. Samuel Butler, of Shrewsbury. Ed. 1813.)

This is the language of faith, compelled by the exigencies of the occasion to be for a short time conscious of its own existence, but surely very little likely to become so to the extent of feeling the need of any assistance from reason. It is the language of one whose convictions are securely founded upon the current opinion of those among whom he has been born and bred; and of all merely post-natal faiths a faith so founded is the strongest. It is pleasing to see that the only alterations in the edition of 1838 consist in spelling Christians with a capital C and the omission of the epithet "wise" as applied to the reformers, an omission more probably suggested by a desire for euphony than by any nascent doubts concerning the applicability of the epithet itself.

Samuel Butler

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