Read CHAPTER VIII of The Faith of the Millions (2nd series), free online book, by George Tyrrell, on


“A man that could look no way but downwards, with a muck-rake in his hand” and “did neither look up nor regard, but raked to himself the straws, the small sticks, and the dust of the floor.... Then said Christiana, ’Oh, deliver me from this muck-rake.’” Bunyan.

Naturalism includes various schools which agree in the first principle that nothing is true but what can be justified by those axiomatic truths which every-day experience forces upon our acceptance, not indeed as self-evident, but as inevitable, unless we are to be incapacitated for practical life. It is essentially the philosophy of the unphilosophical, that is, of those who believe what they are accustomed to believe, and because they are so accustomed; who are incapable of distinguishing between the subjective necessity imposed by habits and the objective necessity founded in the nature of things. It is no new philosophy, but as old as the first dawn of philosophic thought, for it is the form towards which the materialistic mind naturally gravitates. Given a population sufficiently educated to philosophize in any fashion, and of necessity the bent of the majority will be in the direction of some form of Naturalism. Hence we find that the “Agnosticism” of Professor Huxley is eminently suited to the capacity and taste of the semi-educated majorities in our large centres of civilization. Still it must not be supposed that the majority really philosophizes at all even to this extent. The pressure of life renders it morally impossible. But they like to think that they do so. The whole temper of mind, begotten and matured by the rationalistic school, is self-sufficient: every man his own prophet, priest, and king; every man his own philosopher. Hence, he who poses as a teacher of the people will not be tolerated. The theorist must come forward with an affectation of modesty, as into the presence of competent critics; he must only expose his wares, win for himself a hearing, and then humbly wait for the placet of the sovereign people. But plainly this is merely a conventional homage to a theory that no serious mind really believes in. We know well enough, that the opinions and beliefs of the multitude are formed almost entirely by tradition, imitation, interest, by in fact any influence rather than that of pure reason. Taught they are, and taught they must be, however they repudiate it. But the most successful teachers and leaders are those who contrive to wound their sense of intellectual self-sufficiency least, and to offer them the strong food of dogmatic assertion sugared over and sparkling with the show of wit and reason.

Philosophy for the million may be studied profitably in one of its popular exponents whose works have gained wide currency among the class referred to. Mr. S. Laing is a very fair type of the average mind-leader, owing his great success to his singular appreciation of the kind of treatment needed to secure a favourable hearing. We do not pretend to review Mr. Laing’s writings for their own sake, but simply as good specimens of a class which is historically rather than philosophically interesting.

We have before us three of his most popular books: Modern Science and Modern Thought (nineteenth thousand), Problems of the Future (thirteenth thousand), Human Origins (twelfth thousand), to which we shall refer as M.S., P.F., H.O., in this essay; taking the responsibility of all italics on ourselves, unless otherwise notified.

Mr. Laing is not regretfully forced into materialism by some mental confusion or obscurity, but he revels in it, and invites all to taste and see how gracious a philosophy it is. There is an ill-concealed levity and coarseness in his handling of religious subjects which breaks,

At seasons, through the gilded pale,

and which warns us from casting reasons before those who would but trample them under foot. It is rather for the sake of those who read such literature, imprudently perhaps, but with no sympathy, and yet find their imagination perplexed and puzzled with a swarm of minute sophistries and difficulties, collectively bewildering, though contemptible singly, that we think it well to form some estimate of the philosophical value of such works.

Nothing in our study of Mr. Laing surprised us more than to discover that he had lived for more than the Scriptural span of three-score and ten years, a life of varied fortunes and many experiences. It seems to us incredible that any man of even average thoughtfulness could, after so many years, find life without God, without immortality, without definite meaning or assignable goal, “worth living,” and that “to be born in a civilized country in the nineteenth century is a boon for which a man can never be sufficiently thankful.” [Thankful to whom? one might ask parenthetically.] In other words, he is a bland optimist, and has nothing but vials of contempt to pour upon the pessimists, from Ecclesiastes down to Carlyle. Pessimism, we are told confidentially, is not an outcome of just reasoning on the miserable residue of hope which materialism leaves to us, but of the indisposition “of those digestive organs upon which the sensation of health and well-being so mainly depends.” “It is among such men, with cultivated intellects, sensitive nerves, and bad digestion, that we find the prophets and disciples of pessimism.” The inference is, that men of uncultivated intellects, coarse nerves, and ostrich livers will coincide with Mr. Laing in his sanguine view of the ruins of religion. The sorrowing dyspeptic asks in despair: “Son of man, thinkest thou that these dry bones will live again?” “I’m cock-sure of it,” answers Mr. Laing, and the ground of his assurance is the healthiness of his liver.

Carlyle, who in other matters is, according to Mr. Laing, a great genius, a more than prophet of the new religion, on this point suddenly collapses into “a dreadful croaker,” styling his own age “barren, brainless, soulless, faithless.” But the reason is, of course, that “he suffered from chronic dyspepsia” and was unable “to eat his three square meals a day.” A very consistent explanation for an avowed materialist, but slightly destructive to the value of his own conclusions, being a two-edged sword. Indeed he almost allows as much. “For such dyspeptic patients there is an excuse. Pessimism is probably as inevitably their creed, as optimism is for the more fortunate mortals who enjoy the mens sana in corpore sano.” However, there are some pessimists for whom indigestion can plead no excuse, but for whose intellectual perversity some other cosmic influence must be sought “behind the veil, behind the veil,” to borrow Mr. Laing’s favourite line from his favourite poem. These are not only “social swells, would-be superior persons and orthodox theologians, but even a man of light and learning like Mr. F. Harrison.” “Religion, they say, is becoming extinct.... Without a lively faith in such a personal, ever-present deity who listens to our prayers, ... there can be, they say, no religion; and they hold, and I think rightly hold, that the only support for such a religion is to be found in the assumed inspiration of the Bible and the Divinity of Christ.” “Destroy these and they think the world will become vulgar and materialized, losing not only the surest sanction of morals, but ... the spiritual aspiration and tendencies,” &c. “To these gloomy forebodings I venture to return a positive and categorical denial ... Scepticism has been the great sweetener of modern life.” How he justifies his denial by maintaining that morality can hold its own when reduced to a physical science; that the “result of advancing civilization” and of the materialistic psychology is “a clearer recognition of the intrinsic sacredness and dignity of every human soul;” that Christianity without dogma, without miracles [or, as he calls it, “Christian agnosticism"], shall retain the essential spirit, the pure morality, the consoling beliefs, and as far as possible even the venerable form and sacred associations of the old faith, may appear later. At present we are concerned directly with pointing out how Mr. Laing’s optimism at once marks him off from those men who, whether believing or misbelieving or unbelieving, have thought deeply and felt deeply, who have seen clearly that materialism leaves nothing for man’s soul but the husks of swine; who have therefore boldly faced the inevitable alternative between spiritualistic philosophy and hope, and materialism with its pessimistic corollary. That a man may be a materialist or atheist and enjoy life thoroughly, who does not know? but then it is just at the expense of his manhood, because he lives without thought, reflection, or aspiration, i.e., materialistically. Mr. Laing no doubt, as he confesses, has lived pleasantly enough. He has found in what he calls science an endless source of diversion, he betrays himself everywhere as a man of intense intellectual curiosity in every direction, and yet withal so little concerned with the roots of things, so easily satisfied with a little plausible coherence in a theory, as not to have found truth an apparently stern or exacting mistress, not to have felt the anguish of any deep mental conflict. His intellectual labours have been pleasurable because easy, and, in his own eyes, eminently fruitful and satisfactory. He has adopted an established cause, thrown himself into it heart and soul; others indeed had gone before him and laboured, and he has entered into their labours. Indeed, he is frank in disclaiming all originality of discovery or theory; he has not risked the disappointment and anxiety of improving on the Evolution Gospel, but he has collected and sorted and arranged and published the evidence obtained by others. This has always furnished him with an interest in life; but whether it be a rational interest or not depends entirely on the usefulness or hurtfulness of his work. He admits, however, that though life for him has been worth living, “some may find it otherwise from no fault of their own, more by their own fate.” But all can lead fairly happy lives by following his large-type platitudinous maxim, “Fear nothing, make the best of everything.” In other words, the large majority, who are not and never can be so easily and pleasantly circumstanced as Mr. Laing, are told calmly to make the best of it and to rejoice in the thought that their misery is a necessary factor in the evolution of their happier posterity. This is the new gospel: Pauperes evangelizantur “Good news for the poor.” “Progress and not happiness” is the end we are told to make for, over and over again; but, progress towards what, is never explained, nor is any basis for this duty assigned. Indeed, duty means nothing for Mr. Laing but an inherited instinct, which if we choose to disobey or if we happen not to possess, who shall blame us or talk to us of “oughts”?

And now to consider more closely the grounds of Mr. Laing’s very cheerful view of a world in which, for all we know, there is no soul, no God, and certainly no faith. Since of the two former we know and can know nothing, we must build our happiness, our morality, our “religion,” on a basis whereof they form no part. He believes that morality will be able to hold its own distinct, not only from all belief in revelation, in a personal God, and in a spiritual soul, but in spite of a philosophy which by tracing the origin of moral judgments to mere physical laws of hereditary transmission of experienced utilities, robs them of all authority other than prudential, and convicts them of being illusory so far as they seem to be of higher than human origin.

Herein, as usual, he treads in the steps of Professor Huxley, “the greatest living master of English prose” (though why his mastery of prose should add to his weight as a philosopher, we fail to see). “Such ideas evidently come from education, and are not the results either of inherited instinct or of supernatural gift.... Given a being with man’s brain, man’s hands, and erect stature, it is easy to see how ... rules of conduct ... must have been formed and fixed by successive generations, according to the Darwinian laws.”

He tells us: “We may read the Athanasian Creed less, but we practise Christian charity more in the present than in any former age.” “Faith has diminished, charity increased.”

Of moral principles, he says: “Why do we say that ... they carry conviction with them and prove themselves?... Still, there they are, and being what they are ... it requires no train of reasoning or laboured reflection to make us feel that ‘right is right,’ and that it is better for ourselves and others to act on such precepts ... rather than to reverse these rules and obey the selfish promptings of animal nature.” “It is clearly our highest wisdom to follow right, not from selfish calculation, ... but because ‘right is right.’ ... For practical purposes it is comparatively unimportant how this standard got there ... as an absolute imperative rule.” As to the apprehended ill effect of agnosticism on morals, he says: “The foundations of morals are fortunately built on solid rock and not on shifting sand. It may truly be said in a great many cases that, as individuals and nations become more sceptical, they become more moral.” “If there is one thing more certain than another in the history of evolution, it is that morals have been evolved by the same laws as regulate the development of species.”

These citations embody Mr. Laing’s opinions on this point, and show very clearly his utter incapacity for elementary philosophic thought. Here, as elsewhere, as soon as he leaves the bare record of facts and embarks in any kind of speculation, he shows himself helpless; however, he tries to fortify his own courage and that of his readers, with “it is clear,” “it is evident,” “it is certain.”

To say that “right is right,” sounds very oracular; but it either means that “right” is an ultimate spring of action, inexplicable on evolutionist principles, or that right is the will of the strongest, or an illusory inherited foreboding of pain, or a calculation of future pleasure and pain, or something which, in no sense, is a true account of what men do mean by right. To say that moral principles “carry conviction with them, and prove themselves” (i.e., are self-evident), unless, as we suspect, it is mere verbiage conveying nothing particular to Mr. Laing’s brain, is to deny that right has reference to the consequences of action as bearing on human progress and evolution, which is to deny the very theory he wishes to uphold. No intuitionist could have spoken more strongly. Then we are assured that we “feel” rightness, or that “right is right” apparently as a simple irresoluble quality of certain actions and with same breath, that “it is better for ourselves and others to act on these rules,” where he jumps off to utilitarianism again; and then we are forbidden to “obey the selfish impulses of our animal nature” a strange prohibition for one who sees in us nothing but animal nature, who denies us any free power to withstand its impulses. Then it is “clearly our highest wisdom to follow right” an appeal to prudential motives “not from any selfish calculations” a repudiation of prudential motives “but because ’right is right’” an appeal to a blind unreasoning instinct, and a prohibition to question its authority. We are told that for practical purposes it matters little whence this absolute imperative rule originates. Was there ever a more unpractical and short-sighted assertion! Convince men that the dictates of conscience are those of fear or selfishness, that they are all mere animal instincts, that they are anything less than divine, and who will care for Mr. Laing’s appeal to blind faith in the “rightness of right”?

As long as Christian tradition lives on, as it will for years among the masses, the effects of materialist ethics will not be felt; but as these new theories filter down from the few to the many, they will inevitably produce their logical consequences in practical matters. No one with open eyes can fail to see how the leaven is spreading already. Still the majority act and speak to a great extent under the influence of the old belief, which they have repudiated, in the freedom of man’s will and the Divine origin of right. It is quite plain that Mr. Laing has either never had patience to think the matter out, or has found it beyond his compass. Having thus established morality on a foundation independent of religion and of everything else, making “right” rest on “right,” he assumes the prophetic robe, and on the strength of his seventy years of experience and philosophy poses as a Cato Major for the edification of the semi-scientific millions of young persons to whom he addresses his volumes. We have a whole chapter on Practical Life, on self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control, full of portentous platitudes and ancient saws; St. Paul’s doctrine of charity, and all that is best in the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, is liberated from its degrading association with the belief in a God who rewards and punishes. We are “to act strenuously in that direction which, after conscientious inquiry, seems the best, ... and trust to what religious men call Providence, and scientific men Evolution, for the result,” and all this simply on the bold assertion of this sage whose sole aim is “to leave the world a little better rather than a little worse for my individual unit of existence.”

And here we may inquire parenthetically as to the motive which urges Mr. Laing to throw himself into the labours of the apostolate and to become such an active propagandist of agnosticism. We are told that the enlightened should be “liberal and tolerant towards traditional opinions and traditional practices, and trust with cheerful faith to evolution to bring about gradually changes of form,” &c.; that the influence of the clergy is “on the whole exerted for good,” and it is frankly acknowledged that Christianity has been a potent factor in the evolution of modern civilization. It has, however, nearly run its course, and the old order must give place to the new, i.e., to agnosticism. But even allowing, what we dare say Mr. Laing would not ask, that the speculative side of the new religion is fully defined and worked out, and ready to displace the old dogmatic creeds, yet its practical aspect is so vague that he writes: “I think the time is come when the intellectual victory of agnosticism is so far assured, that it behoves thinking men to begin to consider what practical results are likely to follow from it.” In the face of this confession we find Mr. Laing industriously addressing himself to “those who lack time and opportunity for studying,” to the “minds of my younger readers, and of the working classes who are striving after culture,” “to what may be called the semi-scientific readers, ... who have already acquired some elementary ideas about science,” “to the millions;” and endeavouring by all means in his power to destroy the last vestige of their faith in that religion which alone provides for them a definite code of morality strengthened by apparent sanctions of the highest order, and venerable at least by its antiquity and universality. And while he is thus busily pulling down the old scaffolding, he is calmly beginning to consider the practical results. This is his method of “leaving the world a little better than he found it.” He professes to understand and appreciate “In Memoriam.” Has he ever reflected on the lines: “O thou that after toil and storm,” when the practical conclusion is

Leave thou thy sister, when she prays,
Her early Heaven, her happy views;
Nor thou with shadowed hint infuse
A life that leads melodious days.
Her faith through form is pure as thine,
Her hands are quicker unto good;
O sacred be the flesh and blood,
To which she links a truth divine.

On his own principles he is convicted of being a lover of mischief. No, one is sorely tempted to think that these men are well aware that the moral sense which sound philosophy and Christian faith have developed, is still strong in the minds and deeper conscience of the English-speaking races, and that were they to present materialism in all its loathsome nudity to the public gaze, they would be hissed off the stage. And so they dress it up in the clothes of the old religion just for the present, with many a quiet wink between themselves at the expense of the “semi-scientific” reader.

We have already adverted to Mr. Laing’s utter incapacity for anything like philosophy, except so far as that term can be applied to a power of raking together, selecting, and piling up into “a popular shape” the scraps of information which favour the view whose correctness he was convinced of ere he began. A few further remarks may justify this somewhat severe estimate. After stating that in the solution of life and soul problems, science stops short at germs and nucleated cells, he proceeds with the usual tirade against metaphysics: “Take Descartes’ fundamental axiom: Cogito ergo sum.... Is it really an axiom?... If the fact that I am conscious of thinking proves the fact that I exist, is the converse true that whatever does not think does not exist?... Does a child only begin to exist when it begins to think? If Cogito ergo sum is an institution to which we can trust, why is not Non cogito ergo non sum?” Here is a man posing before the gaping millions as a philosopher and a severe logician, who thinks that the proposition, “every cow is a quadruped,” is disproved by the evident falsehood of, “what is not a cow is not a quadruped,” which he calls “the converse.” He sums up magnificently by saying: “These are questions to which no metaphysical system that I have ever seen, can return the semblance of an answer;” giving the impression of a life devoted to a deep and exhaustive study of all schools of philosophy. Mr. Laing here surely is addressing his “younger readers.”

He tells us elsewhere that, “when analyzed by science, spiritualism leads straight to materialism;” free-will “can be annihilated by the simple mechanical expedient of looking at a black wafer stuck on a white wall;” that if “Smith falls into a trance and believes himself to be Jones, he really is Jones, and Smith has become a stranger to him while the trance lasts.... I often ask myself the question, If he died during one of these trances, which would he be, Smith or Jones? and I confess it takes some one wiser than I am to answer it.” Without pretending to be wiser than Mr. Laing, we hope it will not be too presumptuous for us to suggest that if Smith dies in a trance believing himself to be Jones, he is under a delusion, and that he really is Smith. Else it would be very awkward for poor Jones, who in nowise believes himself to be Smith. Mr. Laing would have to break it gently to Jones, that, “in fact, my dear sir, Smith borrowed your personality, and unfortunately died before returning it; and as to whether you are yourself or Smith, as to whether you are alive or dead, ’I confess it takes some one wiser than I am to decide.’” That a man’s own name, own surroundings, own antecedents, are all objects of his thought, and distinguished from the self, ego, or subject which contemplates them, has never suggested itself to Mr. Laing. That though Smith may mistake every one of these, yet the term “I” necessarily and invariably means the same for him, the one central, constant unity to which every non-ego is opposed. And this from a man who elsewhere claims an easy familiarity with Kant. “Again what can be said of love and hate if under given circumstances they can be transformed into one another by a magnet?” What indeed? And how is it that the gold-fish make no difference in the weight of the globe of water?

His conclusion to these inquiries is: “When Shakespeare said, ’We are such stuff as dreams are made of,’ he enumerates what has become a scientific fact. The ‘stuff’ is in all cases the same vibratory motions of nerve particles.” Thus knowledge, self-consciousness, free-choice, is as much a function of matter as fermentation, or crystallisation a mode of motion, not dissimilar from heat, perhaps transformable therewith.

Recapitulating this farrago of nonsense on , he adds a new difficulty which ought to make him pause in his wild career. “What is the value of the evidence of the senses if a suggestion can make us see the hat, but not the man who wears it; or dance half the night with an imaginary partner? Am I ‘I myself, I,’ or am I a barrel-organ playing ‘God save the Queen,’ if the stops are set in the normal fashion, but the ‘Marseillaise’ if some cunning hand has altered them without my knowledge? These are questions which I cannot answer.” He cannot answer a question on which the value of his whole system of physical philosophy depends; uncertain about his own identity, about the evidence of his senses, he would make the latter the sole rule and measure of certitude, and deny to man any higher faculty by which alone he can justify his trust in his cognitive faculties. Another instance of his absolute ignorance of common philosophic terminology is when he asserts that according to theology we know the dogmas of religion by “intuition.”

This doctrine rests on Cardinal Newman’s celebrated theory of the “Illative Sense.” Surely a moment’s reflection on the meaning of words, not to speak of a slight acquaintance with the book referred to, would have saved him from confounding two notions so sharply distinguished as “intuition” and “inference.” Again, “There can be no doubt there are men often of great piety and excellence who have, or fancy they have, a sort of sixth sense, or, as Cardinal Newman calls it, an ‘illative sense,’ by which they see by intuition ... things unprovable or disprovable by ordinary reason.” Can a man who makes such reckless travesties of a view which he manifestly has never studied, be credited with intellectual honesty?

Doubtless, the semi-scientific millions will be much impressed by the wideness of Mr. Laing’s reading and his profound grasp of all that he has read, when they are told casually that “space and time are, ... to use the phraseology of Kant, ‘imperative categories;’” but perhaps to other readers it may convey nothing more than that he has heard a dim something somewhere about Kant, about the categories, about space and time being schemata of sense, and about the categorical imperative. It is only one instance of the unscrupulous recklessness which shows itself everywhere. Akin to this is his absolute misapprehension of the Christian religion which he labours to refute. He never for a moment questions his perfect understanding of it, and of all it has got to say for itself. Brought up apparently among Protestants, who hold to a verbal inspiration and literal interpretation of the Scriptures, who have no traditional or authoritative interpretation of it, he concludes at once that his own crude, boyish conception of Christianity is the genuine one, and that every deviation therefrom is a “climbing down,” or a minimizing. He has no suspicion that the wider views of interpretation are as old as Christianity itself, and have always co-existed with the narrower.

He regards the Christian idea of God as essentially anthropomorphic. Indeed, whether in good faith or for the sake of effect, he brings forward the old difficulties which have been answered ad nauseam with an air of freshness, as though unearthed for the first time, and therefore as setting religion in new and unheard-of straits. So, at all events, it will seem to the millions of his young readers and to the working classes.

Let us follow him in some of his destructive criticism, or rather denunciations, in order to observe his mode of procedure. “The discoveries of science ... make it impossible for sincere men to retain the faith,” &c., therefore all who differ from Mr. Laing are insincere. “It is absolutely certain that portions of the Bible are not true; and those, important portions.” This is based on two prémisses which are therefore absolutely certain, (i) Mr. Laing’s conclusions about the antiquity of man of which more anon; (43) his baldly literal interpretation of the Bible as delivered to him in his early “infancy. On , we have the ancient difficulty from the New Testament prophecy of the proximate end of the world, without the faintest indication that it was felt 1800 years ago, and has been dealt with over and over again. Papias is lionized in order to upset the antiquity of the four Gospels which upsetting, however, depends on a dogmatic interpretation of an ambiguous phrase, and the absence of positive testimony. Here again there is no evidence that Mr. Laing has read any elementary text-book on the authenticity of the Gospels. He is “perfectly clear” as to the fourth Gospel being a forgery; again for reasons which he alone has discovered. Paul is the first inventor of Christian dogma, without any doubt or hesitation. But the undoubted results of modern science ... shatter to pieces the whole fabric. It is as certain as that 2 + 2 = 4 that the world was not created in the manner described in Genesis.”

As regards harmonistic difficulties of the Old and New Testaments, he assumes the same confident tone of bold assertion without feeling any obligation to notice the solutions that have been suggested. It makes for his purpose to represent the orthodox as suddenly struck dumb and confounded by these amazing discoveries of his. He sees discrepancies everywhere in the Gospel narrative, e.g.:

“Judas’ death is differently described.” “Herod is introduced by Luke and not mentioned by the others.” “Jesus carried His own Cross in one account, while Simon of Cyrene bore it in another. Jesus gave no answer to Pilate, says Matthew; He explains that His Kingdom was not of the world, says John. Mary His Mother sat (sic) at the foot of the Cross, according to St. John; it was not His Mother, but Mary the mother of Salome (sic) ‘who beheld Him from afar,’ according to Mark and Matthew. There was a guard set to watch the tomb, says Matthew; there is no mention of one by the others.”

At first we thought Mr. Laing must have meant differences and not discrepancies; but the following paragraph forbade so lenient an interpretation. “The only other mention of Mary by St. John, who describes her as sitting (sic) by the foot of the Cross, is apocryphal, being directly contradicted by the very precise statement in the three other Gospels, that the Mary who was present on that occasion was a different woman, the mother of Salome.” Even his youngest readers ought to open their eyes at this. Similarly he thinks the omission of the Lord’s Prayer by St. Mark tells strongly against its authenticity.


We must now say something about the great facts of evolutionary philosophy which have shattered dogmatic Christianity to pieces, and have made it impossible for any sincere man to remain a Christian. To say that Mr. Laing is absolutely certain of the all-sufficiency of evolutionism to explain everything that is knowable to the human mind, that he does not hint for a moment that this philosophy is found by the “bell-wethers” of science to be every day less satisfactory as a complete rationale of the physical cosmos; is really to understate the case for sheer lack of words to express the intensity of his conviction. His fundamental fact is that, however theologians may shuffle out of the first chapter of Genesis by converting days into periods, when we come to the story of the Noachean Deluge, we are confronted with such a glaring absurdity that we must at once allow that the Bible is full of myths. For history and science show that man existed probably two hundred thousand years ago, at all events not less than twenty thousand; also that five thousand B.C., a highly organized civilization existed in Egypt, whose monuments of that date give evidence to the full development of racial and linguistic differences as now existing among men; that this plants the common stem from which these have branched off, in an indefinitely remote pre-historic period; that to suppose that the present races and tongues are all derived from one man (Noe), who lived only two thousand B.C., is a monstrous impossibility; still more so, to believe that the countless thousands of species of animals which populate the world were collected from the four quarters of the globe, were housed and fed in the Ark, landed on Mount Ararat, and thence spread themselves out over the world again regardless of interjacent seas. Hence the Bible story of human origins is a mere myth; man has not fallen, but has risen by slow evolution from some ancestor common to him and apes, at a remote period, long sons prior even to the miocène period, which shows man to have been then as obstinately differentiated from the apes as ever. Therefore “all did not die in Adam,” and seeing this is the foundation of the dogmatic Christianity invented by Paul, the whole thing collapses like a house of cards.

And indeed, given that the Bible means what Mr. Laing says it means, and that science has proved what he says it has proved, that the two results are incompatible, few would care to deny. As regards the latter condition, let us see some of his reasonings. We are told that “modern science shows that uninterrupted historical records, confirmed by contemporary monuments, carry history back at least one thousand years before the supposed creation of man ... and show then no trace of a commencement, but populous cities, celebrated temples, great engineering works, and a high state of the arts and of civilization already existing.” Strange to say, Mr. Laing developes a sudden reverence for the testimony of priests at the outset of his historical inquiries, and finds that history begins with “priestly organizations;” that the royal records are “made and preserved by special castes of priestly colleges and learned scribes, and that they are to a great extent precise in date and accurate in fact.” Of course this does not include Christian priests, but the priests of barbarous cults of many thousand years ago, who, as well as their royal masters, are at once credited with all the delicacy of the accurate criticism which we boast of in these days how vainly, God knows. We are told one moment that Herodotus “was credulous, and not very critical in distinguishing between fact and fable,” that his “sources of information were often not much better than vague popular traditions, or the tales told by guides;” and yet we are to lay great stress on his assertion that the Egyptian priests told him “that during the long succession of ages of the three hundred and forty-five high priests of Heliopolis, whose statues they showed him in the Temple of the Sun, there had been no change in the length of human life or the course of nature.” A valuable piece of evidence if Herodotus reports rightly, and if the priest was not like the average guide, and if the statues answered to real existences, and if each of the three hundred and forty-five high priests made a truthful assertion of the above to his successor for the benefit of posterity.

Manetho’s History is, however, the chief source of our information as to the antiquity of Egyptian civilization. He was commissioned to compile this History by Ptolemy Philadelphus, “from the most authentic temple records and other sources of information,” whose infallibility is taken for granted. He was “eminently qualified for such a task, being,” as Mr. Laing will vouch, “a learned and judicious man, and a priest of Sebbenytus, one of the oldest and most famous temples.” Let us by all means read Manetho’s History; but where is it? It is “unfortunately lost, ... but fragments of it have been preserved in the works of Josephus, Eusebius, Julius Africanus, and Syncellus.... With the curious want of critical faculty of almost all the Christian Fathers” (so different from the learned, judicious, upright priests of the sun), “these extracts, though professing to be quotations from the same book, contain many inconsistencies and in several instances they have been obviously tampered with, especially by Eusebius, in order to bring their chronology more in accordance with that of the Old Testament, ... but there can be no doubt that his original work assigned an antiquity to Menes of over 5500 B.C.” “On the whole, we have to fall back on Manetho as the only authority for anything like precise dates and connected history.”

Manetho, however, needed confirmation against the aspersions of the orthodox, who thought he might be deficient in critical delicacy, and prone to exaggerate as even later historians had done. Their casuistic minds also suggested that his list comprised Kings who had ruled different provinces simultaneously. But this “effugium” was cut off by the witness of contemporary monuments and manuscripts. “This has now been done to such an extent that it may be fairly said that Manetho is confirmed, and it is fully established, as a fact acquired by science, that nearly all his Kings and dynasties are proved by monuments to have existed, and that, successively.”

What is needed for the validity of this argument is a concurrence, which could not possibly be fortuitous, between the clear and undoubted testimony of Manetho and of the monuments. But first of all, what sort of probability is there left of our possessing anything approximately like the results of Manetho: and if we had them, of their historical accuracy? Secondly, is it at all credible that so fragmentary and fortuitous a record as survives in monuments (allowing again their very dubious historical worth) should just happen to coincide with the surviving fragments of our patch-work Manetho, king for king and dynasty for dynasty, as Mr. Laing would have us believe? On the contrary, nothing would throw more suspicion on the interpretation of these monuments than the assertion of such an improbable coincidence. What, then, is the force of this argument from Egyptology? If the records from which Manetho compiled were historically accurate; if he was perfectly competent to understand them; if he was scrupulously honest and critical; if from the tampered-with fragments in the Christian Fathers we can arrive at a reliable and accurate knowledge of his results; and if the Bible in the original text whatever that may be undoubtedly asserts that man was not created till 4000 B.C., then according to certain Egyptologists (Boeck), Menes reigned fifteen hundred years previously, and according to others (Wilkinson), one thousand years subsequently. Similarly as to the argument from coincidence: if, as before, we possess Manetho’s genuine list intact, and if we have the clear testimony of the monuments giving a precisely similar record, this coincidence, apart from all independent value to be given to Manetho or to the monuments, is an effect demanding a cause, for which the most probable is the objective truth from which both these veracious records have been copied. But the monuments are not written in plain English, and need a key; and we must be first assured that Manetho’s list has not been used for this purpose. We are told; for example, that the name “Snefura,” deciphered on a tablet found at the copper-mines of Wady Magerah, is the name of a King of the third dynasty, who reigned about 4000 B.C. Now if there were no doubt about the reading of this name on the tablet, and if his date and dynasty were as plainly there recorded, and if all this tallies exactly with equally precise particulars in Manetho’s list, it would indeed be a remarkable coincidence and would imply some common source, whether record or fact. But if having credited Manetho with the record of such a name and date, one tortures a hieroglyph into a faintly similar name, and concludes at once that the same name must be the same person, and that therefore this is the oldest record in the world, the confirmation is not so striking. That it is so in this instance we do not affirm; but we should need the assertion of a man of more intellectual sobriety than Mr. Laing to make it worth the trouble of investigating.

Passing over the confirmation which he draws from the “known rate of the deposit of Nile mud of about three inches a century,” which would give a mild antiquity of twenty-six thousand years to pottery fished up from borings in the mud, since he admits that “borings are not very conclusive,” we may notice how he deals with evidence from Chaldea on much the same principles. Here, again, the source had been till lately only “fragments quoted by later writers from the lost work of Berosus. Berosus was a learned priest of Babylon, who ... wrote in Greek a history of the country from the most ancient times, compiled from the annals preserved in the temples and from the oldest traditions.” Still this “learned priest,” though antecedently as competent a critic as Manetho, is so portentously mythical in his accounts, that “no historical value can be attached to them,” which must be regretted, since he pushes history back a quarter of a million years prior to the Deluge, and the Deluge itself to about half a million years ago. Here, therefore, we are thrown solely upon the independent value of the monumental evidence, and must drop the argument from coincidence. This evidence, we are told, “is not so conclusive as in the case of Egypt, where the lists of Manetho, &c.... The date of Sargon I. (3800 B.C.) rests mainly on the authority of Nabonidus, who lived more than three thousand years later, and may have been mistaken.” “The probability of such a remote date is enhanced by the certainty that a high civilization existed in Egypt as long ago as 5000 B.C.” If the evidence for the antiquity of Chaldee civilization is “less conclusive” than that for Egyptian, and rests on it for an argument a pari, it cannot be said in any way to strengthen Mr. Laing’s position.

These strictures are directed chiefly to showing Mr. Laing’s incapacity for anything like coherent reasoning in historical matters. Subsequently he uses these most lame and impotent conclusions as demonstrated certainties, without the faintest qualification, and builds up on them his refutation of dogmatic Christianity.

However, it is only in his more recent work on Human Origins that he thus comes forward as an historian, in preparation for which he seems to have devoted himself to the study of cuneiform and hieroglyphs and mastered the subject thoroughly and exhaustively, before bursting forth from behind the clouds to flood the world with new-born light.

It is deep down in the bowels of the earth, at the bottom of a geological well, that he has found not only truth but, also man among the monsters,

Dragons of the prime
Who tare each other in their slime,

and has hauled him up for our inspection. Mr. Laing is before all else an evolutionist, with an unshaken belief in spontaneous generation. He is quite confident that force and atoms will explain everything. He seems to mean force, pure and simple, without any intelligent direction; atoms, ultimate, homogeneous, undifferentiated. No doubt, if the subsequent evolution depends on the kind and direction of force, or on the nature of the atoms; then there is a remoter question for physics to determine; but if, as he implies, force and atoms are simple and ultimate, then evolution is as fortuitous as a sand-storm, or more so. All prior to force and atoms is “behind the veil.” “The material universe is composed of ether, matter, and energy.” Ether is a billion times more elastic than air, “almost infinitely rare,” its oscillations must be at least seven hundred billions per second, “it exerts no gravitating or retarding force;” in short, Mr. Laing has to confess some uncertainty about his original dogma as to the triple constituents of the universe, and say “that it may be almost doubted whether such an ether has any real material existence, and is anything more than a sort of mathematical [why ’mathematical’?] entity.” “It is clear that matter really does consist of minute particles which do not touch,” and even these we must conceive of as “corks as it were floating in an ocean of ether, causing waves in it by their own proper movement,” an explanation which loses some of its helpfulness when we remember that the ethereal ocean is only a mathematical entity. “A cubic centimetre contains 21,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules,” “the number of impacts received by each molecule of air during one second will be 4,700 millions. The distance traversed between each impact averages 95/1000000 of a millimetre,” and so on with lines of ciphers to overawe the gaping millions with Mr. Laing’s minute certainty as to the ultimate constitution of matter.

As to how atoms came into existence, he can only reply, “Behind the veil, behind the veil;” for it is at this point at last that he becomes agnostic. The notion of creation is rejected (after Spencer) as inconceivable, because unimaginable, as though the origination of every change in the phenomenal world were not just as unimaginable; we see movement in process, and we see its results, but its inception is unimaginable, and its efficient cause still more so.

The evolution of man is practically taken for granted, the only question being the when.

We have the old argument from embryonic transformism brought forward without any hint that later investigation tends to show differentiation further and further back, prior to segmentation and, according to some, in the very protoplasm itself. Nothing could be more inaccurate than to say “every human being passes through the stage of fish and reptile before arriving at that of a mammal and finally of man.” All that can be truly said is that the embryonic man is at certain stages not superficially distinguishable from the embryonic fish quite a different thing, and no more significant than that the adult man possesses organs and functions in common with other species of the animal genus.

Mr. Laing’s own conclusions from skulls and human remains which he takes to be those of tertiary man, show man to be as obstinately unlike the “dryopithecus” as ever, in fact, the reputedly oldest skulls are a decided improvement on the Carnstadt and Neanderthal type. Even then man seems to have been the same flint-chipping, tool-making, speaking animal as now. So convinced is he of this essential and ineradicable difference in his heart, that seeing traces of design in palaeolithic flint flakes, and so forth, he has “not the remotest doubt as to their being the work of human hands,” “as impossible to doubt as it would be if we had found clasp-knives and carpenters adzes.” Perhaps Professor Boyd-Dawkins, who credits the “dryopithecus” with these productions, is a more consistent evolutionist; but at present Mr. Laing is defending a thesis as to man’s antiquity. Yet he has just said that these flint instruments are “only one step in advance of the rude, natural stone which an intelligent orang or chimpanzee might pick up to crack a cocoa-nut with.” Truly a very significant step, though it be only one. How hard this is to reconcile with what Mr. Laing ascribes to dogs and ants elsewhere, or with what he says on page 173, “These higher apes remain creatures of very considerable intelligence.... There is a chimpanzee now in the Zoological Gardens ... which can do all but speak” [either it speaks, or it does not. It is precisely a case of the “only one step” quoted above. Here if anywhere a “miss is as good as a mile"], “which understands almost every word the keeper says to it, and when told to sing will purse out its lips and try to utter connected notes.” [How on earth do we know what it is trying to do?] “In their native state they (apes) form societies and obey a chief.” [The old fallacy of metaphors adverted to in relation to ants and dogs.] Yet “no animal has ever learned to speak,” “no chimpanzee or gorilla has ever been known to fashion any implement.” Their nearest approach to invention is in the building of huts or nests, in which they “are very inferior to most species of birds, to say nothing of insects.” On the other hand, “as regards tool-making, no human race is known which has not shown some faculty in this direction.” “The difference is a very fundamental one,” and “may be summed up in the words ’arrested development.’” Words, indeed! but what do they mean? They mean that these animals have not developed the faculties of speech and tool-making, which would have been most useful to them in the struggle for existence, the reason being that they did not; and this reason is exalted into a cause or law of “arrested development.” Who or what arrested it? The advantage of the term is that it implies that they were on the point of developing, that they could “all but speak,” were “trying to utter connected notes,” were “but one step” behind flint axes, when some cosmic power said, “Hitherto shalt thou come and no further.”

If the dog had organs of speech or an instrument like the hand by which to place himself in closer relation to the outer world, he would doubtless be on a footing of mental equality with man, according to Mr. Laing. The elephant’s trunk accounts for his superior sagacity, and the horse suffers by his hoof-enclosed forefoot. “Given a being with man’s brain, man’s hand, and erect stature, it is easy to see how intelligence must have been gradually evolved.” Now honestly it seems to us that many animals are as well provided as man is with a variety of flexible organs of communication with the outward world (for example, the antennæ of insects, the prehensile tails of some monkeys, whose hands are as lithe as man’s and articulated bone for bone and joint for joint). But letting this pass, we thought evolutionists allowed that structure is determined by function, rather than the converse; and so the confession that “it is not so easy to see how this difference of the structure arose,” surprises us, coming from Mr. Laing; though why this difference should exist at all, on evolution principles, is a far greater difficulty. Yet he confesses that “the difference in structure between the lowest existing race of man and the highest existing ape, is too great to admit of one being possibly the direct descendant of the other.” The ape, then, is not a man whose development is arrested. “The negro in some respects makes a slight approximation, ... still he is essentially a man, and separated by a wide gulf from the chimpanzee or gorilla. Even the idiot is ... an arrested man and, not an ape.”

Nearly all these (higher intellectual and moral) faculties appear in a rudimentary state in animals.... Still there is this wide distinction that even in the highest animals these faculties remain rudimentary and seem incapable of progress, while even in the lowest races of man they have reached a much higher level and seem capable of almost unlimited development. Why does he not seek out the reason of this, or is he satisfied with the words “arrested development”? If I find a child who can repeat a poem of Tennyson’s, am I to be puzzled because it cannot originate one as good, or go on even to something better? Am I to ascribe to it a rudimentary but arrested poetic faculty? Surely the same poem proceeding from the lips of the poet and of the child he has taught, are essentially different effects, though outwardly the same. If there were a true living germ, it would most certainly develope. If the savage developes through contact with the civilized man after centuries of degradation, why have not domesticated dogs, who are, according to Laing, their intellectual and moral equals, developed long ago?

However, as “evolution has become the axiom of science and is admitted by every one who has the slightest pretensions to be considered a competent authority,” it is preposterous to suppose man an exception, whatever be the difficulties. And so Mr. Laing, assuming axiomatically that man and the ape have a common ancestor, is interested to make the differences between them deeply marked, and that, as far back as he can, for thereby “Human Origins” are pushed back by hundreds of thousands of years. If miocène man is as distinct from the ape as recent man, the inference is that we are then as far from the source as ever. Hence it is to geology he looks for the strongest basis of his position. One thought till lately that geology was a tentative science, hardly credited with the name of science, but Mr. Laing wisely and boldly classes it among the “exact sciences,” whose subject-matter is “flint instruments, incised bones, and a few rare specimens of human skulls and skeletons, the meaning of which has to be deciphered by skilled experts.” “The conclusions of geology,” up to the Silurian period, “are approximate facts, not theories.”

If he means that the only legitimate data of geologists are facts of observation, classified and recorded, well and good; but to deny that they deal largely in hypotheses, and use them constantly as the prémisses for inferences which are equally hypothetical, is palpably absurd. First of all we are to “assume the principle of uniformity” which Lyell is said to have established on an unassailable basis and to have made the fundamental axiom of geological science. He “has shown conclusively that while causes identical with ... existing causes will, if given sufficient time, account for all the facts hitherto observed, there is not a single fact which proves the occurrence of a totally different order of causes.” This, however, is (1) limited to the period of geology which gives record of organic life, and not to the earlier astronomical period; nor (2) does it exclude changes in temperature, climate, distribution of seas and lands; nor (3) does it “affirm positively that there may not have been in past ages explosions more violent than that of Krakatoa; lava-streams more extensive than that of Skaptar-Jokul, and earthquakes more powerful than that which uplifted five or six hundred miles of the Pacific coast of South America six or seven feet.” Now, seeing that all these cataclysms have occurred within the brief limits of most recent time, compared with which the period of pretended uniformity is almost an eternity, what sort of presumption or probability is there that such occurrences should have been confined to historical times; and is not the presumption all the other way? Again, it is largely on the supposition of this antecedently unlikely uniformity, that Mr. Laing argues to the antiquity of life on earth; whereas Lyell’s conclusion warrants nothing of the kind, being simply: that present causes, “given sufficient time,” would produce the observed effects.

Our tests of geologic time are denudation and deposition. We are told “the present rate of denudation of a continent is known with considerable accuracy from careful measurements of the quantity of solid matter carried down by rivers.” Now it is a considerable tax on our faith in science to believe that the debris of the Mississippi can be so accurately gauged as to give anything like approximate value to the result of one foot of continental denudation in 6,000 years. We cannot of course suppose this to be the result of 6,000 years registered observations, but an inference from the observations of some comparatively insignificant period; and we have also to suppose that the very few rivers which have been observed form a sufficient basis for a conclusion as to all rivers. In fact, a more feebly supported generalization from more insufficient data it is hard to conceive. To speak of it as “an approximation based on our knowledge of the time in which similar results on a smaller scale have been produced by existing natural laws within the historical period,” is a very inadequate qualification, especially when we have just been told that “here, at any rate, we are on comparatively certain ground, ... these are measurable facts which have been ascertained by competent observers.”

Assuming this rate of denudation as certain, and also the estimate of the known sedimentary strata as 177,000 feet in depth, we are to conclude that the formation took 56,000,000 years. A mountain mass which ought to answer to certain fault 15,000 high, and therefore is presumed to have vanished by denudation, points to a term of 90,000,000 years as required for the process.

“Reasoning from these facts, assuming the rate of change in the forms of life to have been the same formerly, Lyell concludes that geological phenomena postulate 200,000,000 years at least,” “to account for the undoubted facts of geology since life began.” On the other hand, mathematical astronomy, on theories which Mr. Laing complains of as wanting the solidity of geological calculations (yet which do not involve more, but fewer assumptions), cannot allow the sun a past existence of more than 15,000,000 years. “It is evident that there must be some fundamental error on one side or the other,” “for the laws of nature are uniform, and there cannot be one code for astronomers, and one for geologists.” But while modestly relegating this slight divergency among the “bell-wethers of science” (bell-wethers, I presume, because the crowd follow them like sheep), to the “problems of the future,” Mr. Laing is quite confident that we should “distrust these mathematical calculations,” and rely on conclusions based on ascertained facts and undoubted deductions from them, rather than on abstract and doubtful theories, “which would so reduce geological time as to negative the idea of uniformity of law and evolution, and introduce once more the chaos of catastrophes and supernatural interferences." As regards the ice-age, Mr. Laing is professedly interested in putting it as far back as possible, since “a short date for that period shortens that for which we have positive proof of the existence of man, and ... a very short date ... brings us back to the old theories of repeated and recent acts of supernatural interference.” Strange, that in the same page he should refer to Sir J. Dawson as an “extreme instance” of one who approaches the question with “theological prepossessions;” and of course in complete ignorance of Mr. Laing’s indubitable conclusions about the antiquity of Egyptian civilization. Unfortunately, even the best scientists have not that perfect freedom from bias, which gives Mr. Laing such a towering advantage over them all. “An authority like Prestwich,” who “cannot be accused of theological bias,” influenced, however, by a servile astronomical bias, “reduces to 20,000 years a period to which Lyell and modern geologists assign a duration of more than 200,000 years;” which “shows in what a state of uncertainty we are as to this vitally important problem;” for this time assigned by Prestwich “would be clearly insufficient to allow for the development of Egyptian civilization, as it existed 5,000 years ago, from savage and semi-animal ancestors; as is proved to be the case with the horse, stag, elephant, ape,” and so on. Now Prestwich, we are told elsewhere, is “the first living authority on the tertiary and quaternary strata.” If, then, astronomical prepossession can reduce 200,000 to 20,000 years, the sin of theology, which reduces 20,000 to 7,000 is comparatively venial. Prestwich’s two objections are (1) the data of astronomy, and (2) “the difficulty of conceiving that man could have existed for 80,000 or 100,000 years without change and without progress.” The former is “only one degree less mischievous than the theological prepossession.” However, Prestwich has some “facts” as well as prepossessions, such as “the rapid advance of the glaciers of Greenland," which does not accord with the generalization from the Swiss glaciers; and the quicker erosion of river valleys, due to a greater rainfall; facts which, however, are met by “a minute description of the successive changes by which in post-glacial time the Mersey valley and estuary were brought into their present condition, with an estimate of the time they may have required;” which is “in round numbers 60,000 years,” as opposed to Prestwich’s 10,000 or 8,000. The 200,000 years for the ice-age depends chiefly on Croll’s theory of secular variation of the earth’s orbitular eccentricity; but we are told it is open to the “objection that it requires us to assume a periodical succession of glacial epochs” of which two or three “must have occurred during each of the great geological epochs. This is opposed to geological evidence.” “’Not proven’ is the verdict which most geologists would return.” “The confidence with which Croll’s theory was first received has been a good deal shaken.” “We have to fall back, therefore, on the geological evidence of deposition and denudation ... in any attempt to decide between the 200,000 years of Lyell and the 20,000 years of Prestwich.”

As to his arguments based on ancient human remains, their value depends first on the accuracy of his geological conclusions, and then on preclusion of all possibility of the conveyance of the remains from upper strata to lower; on the certainty, moreover, of traces of design in many of the would-be miocène or tertiary flint instruments (which Prestwich is doubtful about). He takes care not to tell us that the Carstadt skull which gives name to a race, is a very doubtfully genuine relic of one hundred and thirty years old, whose history is most dubious. His evidence for the absence of the slightest approximation to the simian type even in the oldest relics is cheering to the theologian, though it loses its value when we know it is in the interests of his foregone conclusions as to the unspeakable antiquity of man. The Nampe image, the oldest relic yet discovered, “revolutionizes our conception of this early palaeolithic age,” being a “more artistic and better representation of the human form than the little idols of many comparatively modern and civilized people,” very like those in Mexico, “believed to be not much older than the date of the Spanish conquest” “and in truth, I believe, contemporaneous.”

As to his treatment of the Bible, it evinces everywhere the crudest anthropomorphic method of interpretation such as we should expect to find in a child or very ignorant person. In truth, Mr. Laing is in a perfectly childish state of mind both as regards the Christian religion and as regards philosophy, sciences, and all the subjects he dabbles with.

For our own part we have at most a general idea as to what exactly the Church does teach or may teach with regard to the interpretation of the Scripture. That she has so far acquiesced in the larger interpretation of Genesiacal cosmogony, that now the literal six-day theory would be very unsafe, forbids us to judge any present interpretation of other parts by the number, noise, or notoriety of its adherents. The universality of the Deluge is by no means the only tolerable interpretation now; though the doctrine of a partial deluge would have been most unsafe a century ago. All this does not mean giving up the inspiration of the record, but determining gradually what is meant by inspiration and the record. What could be less important to Christian dogma than the date of the Deluge or of Adam’s creation? If it were proved that the original text in this point had been hopelessly corrupted, as the discrepancies between the LXX. numbers and the Hebrew hint to be true to some extent, it would not touch the guaranteed integrity of Christian dogma. If Christ is the “son” of David, and Zachaeus is “son” of Abraham, what period may not an apparent single generation stand for, especially in regard to the earlier Patriarchs? As far as the prophetic import of the Deluge is concerned, a very small local affair might be mystically large with foreshadowings, as we see with regard to the enacted prophecies of the later prophets. For the rest, we are quite weary of Mr. Laing, and are content to have shown that everywhere he is the same biassed, inconsequent, untrustworthy writer. His only power is a certain superficial clearness of diction and brilliancy of style, and this is brought to bear on a mass of information drawn confessedly from the labours of others, and selected in the interest of a foregone conclusion, without a single attempt at a fair presentment of the other side.

Here, then, we have a very fair specimen of the pseudo-philosophy which is so admirably adapted to captivate the half-informed, wholly unformed minds of the undiscriminating multitudes who have been taught little or nothing well except to believe in their right, duty, and ability to judge for themselves in matters for which a life-time of specialization were barely sufficient. A congeries of dogmatic assertions and negations raked together from the chief writers of a decadent school, discredited twenty years ago by all men of thought, Christian or otherwise; a show of logical order and reasoning which evades our grasp the instant we try to lay critical hands on it; a profuse expression of disinterested devotion to abstract truth, an occasional bow to conventional morality, a racy, irreverent style, an elaborate display of miscellaneous information; good paper, large type, cheap wood-cuts, and the work is done.

Oct. Nov. 1895.