14 SEPTEMBER 1850, Page 14



Tze title of this book gives about as much notion of its contents, as the invitation of a rich citizen to "take your mutton with him" conveys an adequate impression of the dinner that awaits you at Clapham or Hampstead. Originally consisting of a sermon of ordinary length, followed by a few illustrative notes, it has swelled into a bulky volume of nearly eight hundred pages. To those who have suspected the studies of the University to be rather more limited than the requirements of the age, the table of contents, embracing almost every disputed question in physical science and theology, will he somewhat startling. Grumblers, however, may still derive consolation from remembering, that the link binding together these various topics is not the fact of their forming a ne- cessary portion of the academic course, but the alarm of the Pro- fessor lest the alumni of his University should, in their voyage over the ocean of knowledge, strike upon some of the rocks and quicksands with which that ocean abounds, and so make shipwreck of their moral and intellectual wellbeing. If he occasionally takes fright at a harmless ruffling of the surface water, and lays down in his chart dangerous rocks where bolder mariners have found smooth sailing,—or, in language vividly picturesque from the pas- sion of terror which inspires it, describes appearances of the sea

nt, which a closer and less panic-stricken inspection would soften down into well-known types of the animal kingdom,—still

it is plain, that in these cases he has relied on the reports of others, and that within the sphere of his own personal observation he is an accurate delineator ; and even beyond this limit his thoroughly sound heart and clear head often lead him instinctively to a right result The various points treated of group themselves round a tripar- tite division of the studies of the University, into Physical, Phi lological, and Ethical. On the second of these heads, beyond a few sensible remarks in the sermon itself, the author is silent. As ,he pursues his path through the kingdoms of Nature and the realms of Thought, like another Christian he finds his way beset by strange and monstrous forms of evil, with all of whom he suc- cessively does manful battle, and beats them entirely to his own

satisfaction. One of his earliest foes is the visored knight upon whose dusky shield is traced in murky characters of flame,

"Vestiges of Creation." This is a combat in which our author's training and prowess are displayed to advantage ; and we will en- deavour briefly to present the outlines of his argument. The two questions for discussion are, Has the animal kingdom been first produced by spontaneous generation 9 and secondly, Has it been afterwards perfected by transmutation and progressive de-

velopment? With respect to the first, all the instances adduced by the author of the Vestiges" are drawn from the dark corners of

Nature's kingdom, where it is almost physically impossible to trace the progress of her workmanship. Sober philosophy would tell him, in such eases, to be guided by analogy; and all analogy is against him." Those instances, moreover, only prove, that we have not been able as yet to bring a few exceedingly ob- scure and partially investigated cases under the operation of a law of nature known and acknowledged in the generation of the overwhelming majority of organic beings. To push our in- ference beyond this, is against all reasonable procedure. Be- sides, the whole history of many species of Entozoa, beyond com- parison the cases most difficult to account for, has been well ex- plained in conformity with the common laws of generation. The

famous Acarus Crossii, so far from being a new- development of the lowest organic type, produced by the action of galvanism on inorganic matter, was in reality a well-known animal of highly ! complex structure, the ova of which in tens of thousands probably ,

existed in the dusty corners of the room where the experiments were carried on. In fact, to derive an ac.arus one of them more-

over a female well filled with eggs, at once from inorganic matter, is just as abhorrent to any rational view of the theory of develop- ment, as it is abhorrent to any known law of atomic combination. Some of the difficulties in the way of accounting for certain very I humble forms of organic life may be obviated by a consideration of the known transporting power of the air, which at once explains

many of the supposed cases of spontaneous generation. Others are cleared up by a knowledge of the wonderful tenacity of life ex- hibited by some of the lower animals, which endure without injury

the extreme temperatures of boiling water and long-continued -Polar frost ; and we know that the ova of these animals are far more tenacious of life than the animals themselves.

But passing to the second question-

" Have we any proof of specific transmutations in the living world ? We have not, so far as I understand the question, so much as the shadow of any

proof of them. The constancy of organic forms—like species producing like according to a fixed law of generation--is the obvious and certain fact Art has been pushed to the utmost in modifying the natural forms of or-

ganic life; but not so much as one true specific change has been ever brought about, so as to raise the progeny of any known animal to a higher grade on the organic scale" Probably none of the supposed facts on which the theory of srcific transmutations has been based by the author of the Vas- tages has made a more lively impression on the popular mind than • A Discourse on the Studies of the University of Cambridge, By Adam Sedg- wick, M.A., F.R.S., Woodwardian Professor, and Fellow of Trinity College. Fifth -edition, with Additions, and a Preliminary Dissertation. Published by John W. Parker, London; Heighten, Cambridge. the asserted foetal transformations of the vertebrate animals. Ile states that the foetus of a man during the successive periods of gestation, is " a monad, a polype, an insect," &c. In contradiction, Professor Sedgwick, resting mainly on an " admirable memoir " by Professor Clark, who has made this fact an especial object of in- vestigation, demonstrates live points,—(l.) That in the very be- ginning of foetal life in the Spermatozoa, there are definite and spe- cific differences ; (2.) That m animals of the higher grade, three great divisions of the animal kingdom, the Radiata,Articalata, and Mollusen, are passed over without any corresponding foetal type ;

(3.) That the foetus of a mammal never breathes by gills, and is never for an instant in the true anatomical condition of a fish ;

(4.) That whereas in the normal type, a fish's heart has one ven- tricle and one auricle, and a reptile's heart one ventricle and two auricles, the foetal heart of the mammal does never assume either of those types, but does pass through a form not found permanent in any known creature, having fora time one auricle and two ventricles; (o.) That there are essential appendages to the foetus of the mammal in every stage of its growth, which have reference to its perfected organic structure, and which, if taken into account, completely upset the supposed resemblances between it and the lower types. This point seems to us so important, that Professor Sedgwick shall state it for himself.

" There is one grand fallacy which has warped all the descriptive writings of our author's school. To serve the purpose of an hypothesis, they have de- scribed the fcetus, in the successive stages of its growth, only by its central

portions But it; cannot bebnote seby Ra who separated mass, se ailtunddiligge organic appendages. death., unless it have reached that maturity of Pstructure which will enable it to maintain an independent life. Had they reference only to existing con- ditions of fcetal life, we might perhaps suppose, with a semblance of reason, that different classes of the animal kingdom were not merely laid down upon the same general plan, but that they passed, by in- sensible gradations, into one another. As a matter of fact, however, to which there is no exception, these fcetal appendages are not defined by existing conditions. Their office is to perfect the animal form ; they are true prospective contrivances, implying, under strict anatomical necessity, a subsequent and more perfect condition of organic life. We cannot hatch a rat from a goose egg (one of the author's pleasant dreams) ; because, during every stage of incubation, there are organic contrivances within the egg which have a prospective reference only to the structure of a bird, and apply not to that of any mammal There is therefore, so far as we can com- prehend it, no obscurity in this part of Nature's workmanship, nor my sem-

blance of confusion or struct interchange between the different classes of the living world."

We have dwelt upon this portion of the refutation because it admitted of being presented entire. It is, however, in the rapid and condensed but masterly exhibition of the facts made known to us by the remains of organic life preserved within the crusts of the earth's surface, that the main strength of the argument lies. If development had been Nature's process in ages past, it is not so any longer : but this series of geological facts proves most incon- testably that the theory not only is untrue for the present lime, but is a falsification of all the examined records of Nature. Here is the Professor's judgment, all the more effective from its quiet though determined tone.

"Resting, then, on no hypothesis, but guided by the evidence of the ani- mal types that mark many successive epochs in the natural lhistory of the earth, and tarry us back through countless ages before the existence of man or any of his fellow beings, and interpreting these t3pes by the rules of analogy and sound induction, I adopt in all its fulness the conclusion of the Edinburgh Reviewer—' that geology, not seen through the mist of any theory, but taken as a plain succession of monuments and facts, offers one firm cumulative argument against the hypothesis of development,' This is not the enunciation of a positive dogmatic theory ; it is but an humble ne- gative conclusion, wherein we cast away from us the words of boasting, and do our best to place our language on the same level with our knowledge."

And again—" It is now beyond dispute, and is proved by the physical re- cords of the earth, that all the visible forme of organic life had a beginning in time. To have established this point is the glory of geology."

In concluding our quotations from this part of the work, we must add the expression of our conviction, that Professor Sedgwick has fully succeeded in showing, that, viewed as an inductive de- monstration of the origin and progress of organic life upon the earth, the theory of the Vestiges is a complete failure. These re- main shrouded in . the same impenetrable darkness as before, only rendered more visible by the igms fataus of rash speculation play- ing over its surface. In passing on to those portions of the book which treat less di- redly or not at all of physical fact, we confess to a sense of dis- appointment, arising partly from a merely popular and de- clamatory treatment of metaphysical subjects, partly from an utter want of order or arrangement, which sadly weakens the im- pression its arguments would produce if directed in condensed and orderly array against the Atheistic azidPantheistic positions which are the objects of assault. We regret that the latter fault is ac- counted for and excused by the interruption to continuous com- position caused by the author's bad health, aggravated as it was in the earlier part of this year by a dangerous accident. But apart from this, he seems never to have fitted himself by special study, and to be very unfitted by individual temperament, for earning lau- rels in an arena where, of all qualities of mind, judicial calmness and the skill to avoid circular arguments are most needed. We meet far too often with vituperative epithets and violent denun- ciations, which an eminent man of science should have avoided; especially as this very book shows him to have suffered himself in earlier days from the wretched habit that well-meaning or- thodox folk have of shrieking and calling names, when they spy an object in the dark, and mistake it for a hobgoblin. With the slight difference (owing probably to the difference of the times) that he "speaks daggers but uses none," he seems to have adopted the advice which St. Louis gave to Joinville, as the quo nit1 Si n est front dere et theologien parfast, no dolt disputer aux Inifz. Mem dolt roe lay, quant II oit mesdire de in foy Chrestienne, defendre in chose non pas seulement de parolles, maas a. bonne espee trenchant, et en frapper les mesdisans et mescreans travers du corps, tont qu'elle y pourra entrer." The delicious climax of the Italics at the close of our quotation is a fair repre- sentation of the "via intemperata" with which Professor Sedg- wick, not being, as we think, grant ekre et theologien parfait, aims at his luckless and heretical opponents. Such blows, if hard words broke bones, woubi give them very little chance of again calling in question "in foy Chrestienne.' The following sum- mary of the most prominent movements of the age we live in, is a specimen of the vehement and effective eloquence of the book.

"Men are the fools of fashion, and schemes of development are the fashion of

the hour. Constitutions that once came to life only after long gestation and many a mortal pang, are now to be developed into full stature while the mm is making one of its daily rounds in the'sky. Law is to develop its true supremacy by the dissolution of the elements of order. Nations are to be developed into riches, power, strength, and happiness, by the aboli- tion of the rights of property. On a revolving mechanism, all things once thought great and g orious are to descend into the kennel; and out of it are to rise the elements of another system, which are to be twirled and developed into something newer and more glorious. One develops all knowledge from the mind, and laughs at the drudging materialist and experimentalist. Another, bristling up and blundering among small facts, tells us that in them he finds the elements of all nature within his material ken—that he has machinery fit for all work, by which he can grind mind out of mat- ter, rationalize the brute forms of nature, fabricate a new web of humanity, and teach us something better than Christian charity. Things most sacred are to be swept into a fashionable whirlpool, wherein the strangest incongru- ities are now making their gyrations side by side. One, calling himself an Idealist, makes our religion nothing but a turn of thought evolved naturally by the mind during its whirl of development; as if the followers of Jesus had been a set of moody speculative philosophers, and not (as we know they were) a set of very simple and earnest men. Lastly, in the same vortex, and side by side with the whirling Idealists, we see a dark being with many faces, who first proclaims himself an Anti-Rationalist ; and to justify the symbols of this creed, becomes a vender of preposterous miracles and bygone fables; and then to bring his morality down to the level of his credulity, publishes what he believes not true, and dares to tell us afterwards, that truth is not the verbal expression of our individual belief, but the watchword of a party. And then he makes another gyration that draws him within the whirlpool of the Pantheist, and his brain turns with it; and by whatsoever name he may now pass, and whatsoever may be the last form and colour of his symbols, he is but the hierophant of Pantheism ; for he sees in the simple elements of his faith nothing but an organic germ that by a process of incubation may be hatched by man himself into a new organic type and a higher grade of supernatural development. Where these drunken movements are to end, I know not."

Ludicrously onesided and exaggerated as all this is if taken as a serious representation of the religious and philosophic move- ments to which it refers, it is yet a caricature which probably no one else in England could have written; and it suggests a curious comparison between our author and the well-known original of the richly-coloured portrait at the close, whose most telling just as rest upon a onesidedness quite as startling and an eloquence as singularly graphic. In truth, the cardinal weakness of Professor Sedgwick's mind is

his utter inability to judge either a man or a system from any but his own point of view. Like most men who reached manhood amid the fierce conflicts and exasperated passions whose recollec- tion even yet throws a stormy grandeur over the opening of the present century, he has not escaped the contagion of his time. His liberality, his love of truth, his attachment to the maxims and traditions of a free and enlightened policy, are all fierce, pas- sionate, bitter, and dogmatic. He has learned little of that philo- sophy of reconciliation which characterizes the higher minds of the generation which succeeded him. He does not practically re- coeize that every great movement, whether literary, social, or religions, is by the very fact of rousing and impelling vast masses of men evidenced to be a revelation of unknown or forgotten truth; and, failing in this recognition, he is not master of that noblest mode of confutation which consists in getting at the truth seen, it may be dimly and through clouds of error, by the author of • insurrection nsurrection in the realms of thought, lowing its consist- ence with all that is true and permanent known before and thank- fully claiming it as a new conquest and higher starting-point for the race. Thus alone while every age and every system reveal some new side of humanity, does the great idea shape itself brighter and more definite in the vision of the future, and men do feel it to be an actual and a living truth that

"Through the ogee; one increasing purpose runs,

And the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns."

We have animadverted On the intemperate manner of the book, because it seems to us directly connected with a fault in matter which we have already indicated. The anther has undertaken to grapple with questions which demand for their solution an ennlysis of our Theistic conee • tions and an exhibition of the axiom- atic character of our fun, • 41 ental beliefs. Yet in spite of various approximations to a scientific method, we really never get to it. We are told over and over again that the mind is "in- evitably led" to Theistic conclusions ; but in an argument directed against such men as St. Hilaire and Hegel, we want the scientific equivalent of inevitably led, if not by demonstration at least by an exhibition of its axiomatic validity. All that we get, however, is a -wearisome iteration of Paley's argument from design ; which may do good service in its place but is not a weapon to use against the extreme left and rigK-Of modern speculation. Indeed, it is less effective in Professor Bedgivick's hand than in Paley's own., because glimpses of a higher philosophy flash from every page of the work before us, and haunt us with unrealized longings for a

latter naïvely tells the story—" Awisi vous dy-je, me fist le Roy, more complete and exhaustive treatment of the subject. Sedgwick is a man of far deeper instinctive belief than Paley, of a far richer and more imaginative nature ; and these underlying forces, strag- gling in him for utterance, and meeting with no corresponding analytical power through whose aid to express themselves in the form and language of argument, burst forth inarticulately in angry blasts of turgid epithet and fierce invective. To prove by quota- tions the deficiencies natural and snperadded on which we have animadverted, would be to quote almost every paragraph of the theosophio portion of the work. But how little the Professor cora, prehends of the formidable nature of his opponents, is shown in one very brief passage.

" Hegel's philosophy is little fitted for the English mind, and will never germinate freely within it ; and in the evidence brought before our students during the annual ministrations of our Church, and even in the short works which belong to the religious portion of our ordinary under-graduate's course, we have the materials for a substantial refutation of the most formidable subtilties and sophistries in Strauss's Life of Jesus."

On the contrary, we should say that Hegers philosophy is admira- bly- fitted to fascinate the most abstract thinkers of every nation; and, the thinkers once imbued with it, literature will soon catch its light in broken reflections, and what is called the national mind come to contemplate nature under Hegelian forms ; while to stake historical Christianity on a battle between Strauss and Paley, implies either very slight care for the result, or the strangest mis- apprehension of the intellectual forces engaged in the contest. We have not remarked almost exclusively on the faults of a book manifesting throughout a very high purpose, great knowledge, and lucid statement of facts, and breathing through its lofty vehe- ment eloquence an earnest zeal for the best interests of mankind, merely to exercise the critical faculty, or even to do literary justice to a literary work; but to draw thence a practical inference of no slight importance. A man of unusual mental power, one of the , standing boasts of the distinguished College to which he belongs, a dignitary of the Church besides, in the later stage of a life devoted to science comes forward to defend his faith against its supposed adversaries ; and with respect to the principal among them, knows them only at second-hand, is ignorant of their method, and so trusts the holiest of causes to a rusty and inappropriate weapon. Coulci this be in any but an English university ? And why should it be so there ? Surely Christianity, whose origin is divine—surely the English Church, which claims adhesion as sacred and rooted in the

truth of God—cannot be en d by a truly scientific teaching of theology, metaphysics, adnanglical criticism. If the students at Cambridge are to hear from their Professors no teaching on these subjects but what is wholly or mainly dogmatic, the result must be that they will be quiteincapable of either assimilating the truths or repelling the falsehoods hoods which are growing up around them, for infinite good and evil in the future of the English people. It is to them that the nation has looked for guides, and will continue to look, if they are fitted for the high and solemn mission. But that they may be so fitted, it will not do to trust too implicitly to the practical good sense that happily characterizes our islanders : the " Satans of the day" must be fought with weapons of a temper at least equal to their own ; learning must be combated with learn- ing, logical subtilty with searching analysis, the dreamy grandeur of Pantheistic theory with the definite expansiveness of catholic verity, Herculean repose in the conclusions of the intellect with a sublime faith in science, humanity, and God.