Puslapio vaizdai

ture of water to expand with heat and to freeze with cold. Extending the range of such observations and inductions, we find an established course or order of things in general, and this we term nature. But that which makes the observation, records the experience, classifies the induction, call this what we may-whether a spiritual entity or the functional activity of the brain

such things."* And so Bacon, in the second book of the "Novum Organum,' in the first aphorism, speaks of forma as natura naturans, and in the thirteenth aphorism as ipsissima res. Passing over from the Greeks to the Latins, we find the equivalent of puois in natura, from nascor, which the German accurately renders by geboren werden-not simply born or coming into being, but both origin and genesis. Hence na--though it may have a nature of its own, is not tura denotes not only result, but on-going process, that orderly becoming which comprehends both that which is produced and also the producing agent. In the individual, nature denotes the constitution or the quality of a thing as produced; and, when conceived of collectively or in continuity, nature is the order or course of things, as being and "about-to-be.”

Curiously enough, Lucretius, in his poetical disquisition on "The Nature of Things," has omitted to give a strict definition of nature. Cicero, however, in discoursing of "The Nature of the Gods," gives these notions of the term:

Some think that nature is a certain irrational power, exciting in bodies the necessary motions; others, that it is an intelligent power, acting by order and method, designing some end in every cause, and always aiming at that end.... And some again, as Epicurus, apply the word nature to everything.†

Cicero himself personifies nature, using this as an equivalent for the gods, and speaking of nature as an artificer and an intelligence.

Nevertheless, in strict usage, nature stands in contrast to both spirit and art. Etymologically, as we have seen, the natura is generation, but in the double sense of that which is born and that which is in course of parturition-the thing or event which is and is continually becoming; Werden and Dasein in perpetual flux and reflux. Hence nature comes to mean the constitution of the world and the universe and the course of things. In German philosophy the term Natur is chiefly used to denote the world of matter in contrast to the world of spirit or intelligence. How, then, do we form our conception of nature? In strict contemplation of philosophy, nature is that established constitution and course of things the knowledge of which we gain by observation or experience, and by induction; whereas that which we know by intuition, or establish by logic, or which the imagination conceives, lies within another category. Observing certain phenomena in regular sequence, we learn by experience to depend upon their relations, and to look for their repetition; and thus we ascertain, for example, that it is the nature of fire to burn, and the na

"Nat. Aux.," II., i., 8. See Sir Alexander Grant's "Ethics of Aristotle," essay iv.

+ Cicero, "De Deorum Natura," ii., xxxii.


included within that nature of whose phenomena it thus takes cognizance. From a higher plane of vision the observer might perhaps be comprehended within the scope of nature; but to him nature is confined within the periphery of things, from which he, at least quoad hoc, is distinguished as a person. Hence in worshiping nature, whether as a whole or in detail, the worshiper sets before him, either in visible form or as a conception, an object separate from himself, to which he renders his homage and devout regard. In nature-worship religion takes its hue from the phases of physical phenomena as these are reflected in the phases of the mind. Sometimes it is the propitiation of terrible and hurtful elements; again it is the worship of sensuous beauty; and, with a more advanced culture, it becomes the homage of reason to material laws, and of the imagination to the divinity immanent in the universe as a soul; now its prevailing sentiment is an awe of phenomena which suggest mysterious and destructive forces; and, again, this feeling of reverence is modulated in art and worship to a delight in whatever ministers to taste, beauty, love, as being either a divinity or some divine attribute or gift. In a word, the extremes of superstition and naturalism meet in nature as the central object of the religious idea. Religion is, then, either the worship of objects and forces in the material world as themselves divinities, or the symbols of divinities; or it is a rationalistic atheism, which makes nature, or the universe in its totality, the only power above man; or, again, it is a sentimental, poetic personification of the grand and beautiful in the physical universe; or, it may be, a subtile pantheism, which denies to its divinity personality and independence, and holds the unconscious world-principle bound within the visible universe, as the life-principle is imprisoned within bodily forms. Thus nature-religion, starting from fetichism, runs at last into sheer neuterism, the favorite form of modern pantheism—“modern” in a certain freshness of assertion by recent schools of philosophy, but not modern as a theory of the universe, since Pliny held that the world and the heaven, or universal ether, which embraces all

[blocks in formation]

things in its vast circumference, may be regarded as itself a deity, immense, eternal, never made, and never to perish; and the Stoics declared that "God is the world, and the world is God; God is all matter and all mind."

Where man is made the chief factor in the world-scheme, the type of religion is Humanism, whether as hero-worship or a divinized selfhood. To that spiritual worship of the invisible and unknown God which the Hellenic races shared with other branches of the Aryan family, and to the individualizing of divine attributes and powers as themselves separate and local divinities, the Greeks added myths of heroes whom they first reverenced as nearer to the gods in gifts and powers, and afterward worshiped with divine honors. These heroes personified successive acts and periods in the development of man above nature;* and yet the deified humanity of the Greeks was still, in some sort, under bondage to nature through the doctrine of fate, or through that dread of mysterious and destructive forces which overhangs the religions of paganism.

By conquering this dread of nature, modern science has ministered to a yet bolder man-worship. A supreme selfhood, an intensified egoism, characterizes much of the rationalism of our time. Humanity and reason alone are divine, and worship is homage to human nature. "Ineffable," says Emerson, "is the union of man and God in every act of the soul. The simplest person who in his integrity worships God, becomes God." The highest theology of this school is man divinized.


Such are the results of an exaggeration either of nature or of man, as terms in the scheme of religion. But there is also a conception of God which relegates him to the sphere of the past or the unknown, as an abstraction or a fate not personally cognizant of human affairs, not providentially acting in them-a deism which postulates nothing concerning the Deity but the infinite and the absolute, and ends with making of God an infinite and absolute nothing. 'God is a name for our ignorance." For God is nothing to a man as a conception unless he is conceived of as an objective, substantive reality, possessing personality, will, holiness, and authority; and God is nothing to us as the cause of nature unless he is the author of nature in a sense which distinguishes him from nature, and sets him above nature as the intelligent and controlling cause of all things.

Yet this view may be so exaggerated upon the other side, that God becomes the Deus ex

*Thus Heracles, Cadmus, the Argonauts, Danaus, etc. This point is well treated by Curtius, "History of Greece," i., 2.

machind; and the miracle or the intervention is ever at hand to supply any defect of observation or of logic upon the facts of nature. And so, paradoxical as it may seem, religion may be falsified by introducing into it too much of God! It is through this tendency to use the name of God as a dogmatic formula, and to resort to the supernatural as an expedient for solving all mysteries in nature, that some theologians have brought religion into a seeming contradiction of science. But our analysis has shown that under all forms of conception and representation the religious idea is constantly the same. Religion is an inner sense of obligation in man to an external object of a nature different from his own, which is regarded as superior in nature, position, or power; which obligation prompts to acts of reverence, devotion, or obedience, with a view to please or to placate its object. Recalling our definition of science, we see how readily religion falls within these limits-the systematic summation of all the knowledges pertaining to a given subject-matter, and the formulating of these in abstract general conceptions. Physical science purports to concern itself exclusively with things; but, in reality, science is not concerned directly with things, but with our thoughts of things. Professor Jevons has shown that “scientific method must begin and end with the laws of thought," and we can not better conclude this reference of religion to the categories of science than by quoting the words with which Jevons concludes the second edition of his Principles of Science":*

Among the most unquestionable rules of scientific method is that first law that whatever phenomenon is, is. We must ignore no existence whatever; we may variously interpret or explain its meaning and origin, but, if a phenomenon does exist, it demands some kind of explanation. If, then, there is to be competition for scientific recognition, the world without us must yield to the undoubted existence of the spirit within. Our own hopes and wishes and determinations are the most undoubted phenomena within the sphere of consciousness. If men do act, feel, and live as if they were not merely the brief products of a casual conjunction of atoms, but to record all other phenomena and pass over these? the instruments of a far-searching purpose, are we We investigate the instincts of the ant and the bee and the beaver, and discover that they are led by an inscrutable agency to work toward a distant purpose. Let us be faithful to our scientific method, and investigate also those instincts of the human mind by which man is led to work as if the approval of a Higher Being were the aim of life.

J. P. THOMPSON (British Quarterly Review).

"A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method." By W. Stanley Jevons. 1877.


OF all the biographies of men eminent in lit- which his sister-in-law and his eldest daughter

erature, Mr. John Forster's "Life of Charles Dickens" was one of the least satisfactory. The hand which had interpreted Goldsmith with such amplitude of knowledge, such sympathetic appreciation, and such delicacy of insight, seemed to have lost its cunning when it came to portray the life-long friend whose fame was in a sense committed to its care; and it is a curious but undeniable fact that the popular estimate of Dickens was distinctly lowered by a work, every line of which was inspired by an almost infatuated admiration for him. The explanation of this apparent paradox is that Mr. Forster, himself a vain, self-sufficient, and egotistic man, was at tracted by these qualities in his associates-regarded them as the special insignia of genius, in fact

and when he came to delineate Dickens, who possessed on his own account no stinted share of self-esteem, concentrated his attention upon these to the exclusion of other equally marked and significant qualities. As portrayed by him, Dickens was vain, fussy, self-conscious, theatrical, always on parade, always churning his feelings in order to bring bubbles to the surface, always asking himself the question, How am I to dazzle the eyes of the cockneys, and draw tears from a too sentimental public? This unfortunate impression was largely due, as the "Saturday Review" pointed out at the time, to Mr. Forster's view-point and method of treatment. "The real man Dickens," said the reviewer, "appears to elude us. We see him, as it were, talking to a literary friend in a publisher's anteroom, not as he was in domestic life, or in his own privacy. We are introduced exclusively to that side of his character which he showed to the judicious adviser in his various enterprises, and it is only by glimpses that we see anything deeper. It is Mr. Forster's fault if we are left in doubt whether there was really something stronger and nobler behind, or whether the brilliant, sensitive, excitable outside was really the

[blocks in formation]

have brought together in two stout volumes. The compilers modestly describe their collection as a supplement to Mr. Forster's biography, which they consider to be "only incomplete as regards correspondence"; but it is in reality of much greater value than this would imply, for it not only contains in itself a fairly complete record of the great author's life, but enables us to approach his character from a quite different side. If the alternative were placed before the reader of discarding either Mr. Forster's biography or this correspondence, we should feel no hesitation in advising him to retain the correspondence, as presenting on the whole a fairer, more adequate, more trustworthy, and more pleasing picture of Dickens's character and life.

The letters are arranged in their chronological order, with just so much of narrative and explanation as are absolutely necessary to link them together and render them intelligible, and no more. The compilers are evidently ill at ease with the pen, and have purposely made their commentary as short as possible-" our great desire being to give to the public another book from Charles Dickens's own hands-as it were, a portrait of himself by himself." Their request for the loan of letters was so copiously responded to that they were provided with abundant material for their work, without drawing largely upon their own independent recollections; and the correspondence forms a nearly complete autobiography from the beginning of Dickens's literary life in 1833 to the day before his death in 1870.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the "Letters is that a man who wrote so much otherwise—who was always pressed and persecuted for "copy"—should have found the time and the patience to write so many. In a letter to a correspondent whom he had somewhat neglected, Dickens suggests that it should be borne in mind "how difficult letter-writing is to one whose trade it is to write"; but it would never be inferred from his correspondence that this was a difficulty which touched him. No occasion was too trivial to inspire a letter to one of his friends, and, besides responding freely to the innumerable claims thus made upon him, he would write long and carefully considered answers to a class of communications which are commonly regarded as impositions by far less busy men, and promptly consigned to the wastebasket. Knowing that this collection comprises but a selected few of the letters which he actually

wrote, its mere bulk and quantity is surely a very Forgues, you may tell him, without fear of anything surprising feature.

And hardly less remarkable, in view of their copiousness, is their high and uniform excellence. Regarded merely as literature, apart from their personal bearing, Dickens's letters are nearly as good and quite as entertaining as anything he ever wrote. In those which he wrote to John Forster, and which are included in Forster's biography, the brilliancy and the liveliness are almost too much like that of an actor before the footlights; but that they were the natural and spontaneous expression of the feelings of the moment -tinctured perhaps by the personality of the man to whom they were written-is unmistakably shown by the more varied correspondence now first published. The simplest business note, the most formal communication, the briefest friendly reminder, will have some touch of humor or fancy, or some felicity of phrase, which would make the reputation of an ordinary writer; and they are quite obviously the natural and irrepressible overflowings of a mind which, though perpetually being emptied, was always full. Dickens flung his jewels around with the heedless profusion of an Oriental prince; but the treasury from which he drew so lavishly never exhibited a symptom of depletion.

The correspondence begins with the year 1833, but the first letter of any special interest is one written in 1835 to Miss Hogarth (afterward his wife), announcing that the publishers" have made me an offer of fourteen pounds a month, to write and edit a new publication they contemplate, entirely by myself, to be published monthly, and each to contain four woodcuts." The work, he adds, will be no joke," but the emolument is too tempting to resist." This was the origin of "Pickwick," the first number of which was published in March of the following year.

Curiously enough, though the editors explain with minute care every detail of the correspondence, no information is given as to Dickens's life prior to the first letter-not even his age or the date of his birth. For this reason we shall begin our own gleanings with a letter written at a much later period, which, besides being eminently characteristic of the author, will serve admirably as an introduction to the rest :

[To Mr. W. Wilkie Collins.]

TAVISTOCK HOUSE, June 6, 1856. MY DEAR COLLINS: I have never seen anything about myself in print which has much correctness in it-any biographical account of myself I mean. I do not supply such particulars when I am asked for them by editors and compilers, simply because I am asked for them every day. If you want to prime

wrong, that I was born at Portsmouth on the 7th of February, 1812; that my father was in the Navy Pay Office; that I was taken by him to Chatham when I was very young, and lived and was educated there till I was twelve or thirteen, I suppose; that I was then put to a school near London, where (as at other places) I distinguished myself like a brick; that I father's, and didn't much like it; and after a couple was put in the office of a solicitor, a friend of my of years (as well as I can remember) applied myself with a celestial or diabolical energy to the study of such things as would qualify me to be a first-rate parliamentary reporter-at that time, a calling pursued by many clever men who were young at the Bar; that I made my début in the gallery (at about eighteen, I suppose), engaged on a voluminous publication, no longer in existence, called "The Mirror of Parliament"; that, when "The Morning Chronicle" was purchased by Sir John Easthope and acquired a large circulation, I was engaged there, and that I remained there until I had begun to publish "Pickwick," when I found myself in a condition to relinquish that part of my labors; that I left the reputation behind me of being the best and most rapid reporter ever known, and that I could do anything in that way under any sort of circumstances, and often did. (I dare say I am at this present writing the best short-hand writer in the world.)

[ocr errors]

That I began, without any interest or introduction of any kind, to write fugitive pieces for the old 'Monthly Magazine," when I was in the gallery for "The Mirror of Parliament"; that my faculty for descriptive writing was seized upon the moment I joined "The Morning Chronicle," and that I was liberally paid there and handsomely acknowledged, and wrote the greater part of the short descriptive "Sketches by Boz" in that paper; that I had been a writer when I was a mere baby, and always an actor from the same age; that I married the daughter of a writer to the signet in Edinburgh, who was the

great friend and assistant of Scott, and who first made Lockhart known to him.

[blocks in formation]

December 22, 1840.

DEAR GEORGE: The child lying dead in the little sleeping-room, which is behind the open screen. It is winter time, so there are no flowers; but upon her breast and pillow, and about her bed, there may be strips of holly and berries, and such free green things. Window overgrown with ivy. The little boy who had that talk with her about angels may be by the bedside, if you like it so; but I think it will be quieter and more peaceful if she is quite alone. I want it to express the most beautiful repose and tranquillity, and to have something of a happy look, if death can.

The child has been buried inside the church, and the old man, who can not be made to understand that she is dead, repairs to the grave and sits there all day long, waiting for her arrival, to begin another journey. His staff and knapsack, her little bonnet and basket, etc., lie beside him. "She'll come tomorrow," he says when it gets dark, and goes sorrowfully home. I think an hour-glass running out would help the notion; perhaps her little things upon his knee, or in his hand.

I am breaking my heart over this story, and can

not bear to finish it.

Love to Missis.

Ever and always heartily.

One of the most pleasing features of the entire correspondence is the cordial and unaffected kindness for children which it reveals. An example of this comes very early in the collection, and was an answer to a little boy (Master Hastings Hughes), who had written to him as "Nicholas Nickleby" approached completion, stating his wishes as to the rewards and punishments to be bestowed on the various characters in the book:

DOUGHTY STREET, LONDON, December 12, 1838. RESPECTED SIR: I have given Squeers one cut on the neck and two on the head, at which he appeared much surprised and began to cry, which, being a cowardly thing, is just what I should have expected from him-wouldn't you?

I have carefully done what you told me in your letter about the lamb and the two "sheeps" for the little boys. They have also had some good ale and porter, and some wine. I am sorry you didn't say what wine you would like them to have. I gave them some sherry, which they liked very much, except one boy, who was a little sick and choked a good deal. He was rather greedy, and that's the truth, and I believe it went the wrong way, which I say served him right, and I hope you will say so too. Nicholas had his roast lamb, as you said he was to, but he could not eat it all, and says if you do not mind his doing so, he should like to have the rest hashed to-morrow with some greens, which he is very fond of, and so am I. He said he did not like to have his porter hot, for he thought it spoilt the flavor, so I let him have it cold. You should have

seen him drink it. I thought he never would have left off. I also gave him three pounds of money, all in sixpences, to make it seem more, and he said directly that he should give more than half to his mamma and sister, and divide the rest with poor Smike. And I say he is a good fellow for saying so; and, if anybody says he isn't, I am ready to fight him whenever they like-there!


Fanny Squeers shall be attended to, depend upon Your drawing of her is very like, except that I don't think the hair is quite curly enough. The nose is particularly like hers, and so are the legs. She is a nasty, disagreeable thing, and I know it will make her very cross when she sees it; and what I say is that I hope it may. You will say the same I know at least, I think you will.

I meant to have written you a long letter, but I can not write very fast when I like the person I am writing to, because that makes me think about them, and I like you, and so I tell you. Besides, it is just eight o'clock at night, and I always go to bed at eight o'clock, except when it is my birthday, and then I sit up to supper. So I will not say anything more besides this-and that is my love to you and Neptune; and, if you will drink my health every Christmas-day, I will drink yours-come. I am, respected sir,

Your affectionate Friend. P. S.-I don't write my name very plain, but you know what it is, you know, so never mind.

In 1842 Dickens made his first visit to the United States, and, though in his “American Notes" he gave very frank expression to his opinions about us, the following extracts from a letter to Mr. Macready are not without piquancy:

BALTIMORE, March 22, 1842.

[ocr errors]

MY DEAR MACREADY: I desire to be so honest and just to those who have so enthusiastically and earnestly welcomed me, that I burned the last letter I wrote to you-even to you to whom I would speak as to myself-rather than let it come with anything that might seem like an ill-considered word of disappointment. preferred that you should think me neglectful (if you could imagine anything so wild) rather than I should do wrong in this respect. Still, it is of no use. I am disappointed. This is not the republic I came to see; this is not the republic of my imagination. I infinitely prefer a liberal monarchy -even with its sickening accompaniments of court circles to such a government as this. The more I think of its youth and strength, the poorer and more trifling in a thousand aspects it appears in my eyes. In everything of which it has made a boast—excepting its education of the people and its care for poor children-it sinks immeasurably below the level I had placed it upon; and England, even England, bad and faulty as the old land is, and miserable as millions of her people are, rises in the comparison.

You live here, Macready, as I have sometimes heard you imagining! You! Loving you with all

« AnkstesnisTęsti »