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counteraction will be in the form of tremendous punishment; and assuredly none more severe or sweeping will attend the infraction of any law of God, than those which must in the end overtake the community which gives itself up to the exclusive pursuit of wealth, and deliberately refuses such self-restraint as may reconcile the duty of labour with the higher duty of religious and moral culture.
In conclusion, we should say of this work, that its great fault lies, as is very commonly the case, in that which the author thinks its peculiar merit. He says, that it contains no new truths, but that, in the relation in which admitted truths stand to each other, he thinks his ideas are new and important. We should say, on the contrary, that his book is full of single truths, not certainly new, yet requiring to be impressed and often put with ingenuity and force; but that the relation in which these truths stand to each other, and to other truths which are kept out of view, is essentially erroneous. As regards the bearing of this work on the interests of religion, we have said enough to indicate our opinion. Mr. Combe is justified in saying, that the practical results he teaches are in general harmony with the moral precepts of the New Testament. It is likewise true that he takes pleasure in pointing out this harmony to his readers. Nay more: those who look with attention to the natural laws which he expounds, will not fail to be struck with new instances of that pervading analogy which obtains between the principles of divine government involved in the spiritual doctrines of Christianity, and those which are even now seen in active operation in this present world. But such harmonies as these, the reader must be prepared to discover for himself. He will often find spiritual beliefs brought down as it were under some form of physical “explanation:" but never any law of the material world traced upward to its spiritual meaning. We do not forget that Mr. Combe's purpose in investigating the natural laws, is different from that of the theologian in dealing with the same subject. He professes to confine himself to "Man as he exists in this world," and may fairly decline to pursue any line of thought beyond the bounds of its visible horizon. But, even supposing this limit to be faithfully adhered to, infinite errors on what lies beyond this world may be involved in our description of what goes on within it. Of old the earth was regarded as itself the centre of a system, and the heavenly bodies as moving round it. Even when there was no direct reference to this erroneous theory of the nature of celestial objects, it imparted a false light or colouring to every idea of terrestrial things. And, as in the physical world all just conception of the phenomena of our planet depends on a knowledge of the relative position and magnitude of the
Chief Fault of Mr. Combe's Work.
great bodies amongst which it moves; so, in the moral world, does everything depend on a right understanding of the great spiritual truths which extend beyond the boundaries of time. It is very easy, in giving an account of the different climates of the globe, and of the variations of the seasons, to convey the most monstrous errors on the science of astronomy; and it is not less easy in constructing a "Philosophy of the human mind," to assail the first elements of moral and religious truth. Such, in our opinion, must be the effect of doctrines tending to deny or explain away, in ethical science, the free will and responsibility of man; and, in religion, those external spiritual influences on human character which are a fundamental part of the Christian faith, but which, of course, cannot be made sensible to the fingers of the phrenologist. Observing, as we do with pleasure, some individual passages which indicate a glimpse of higher views, we must condemn the general tendency of Mr. Combe's system, as hostile to the reception of these essential truths. Does the Christian rejoice in a belief and consciousness of a personal change effected and maintained through help of the Divine Spirit holding intercourse with his own?-Mr. Combe admits, with that air of patronage which belongs to superior knowledge, that such a person "labours under great disadvantages from their ignorance of the functions of the brain and of the laws of its activity," and then proceeds to explain to him that he is not "aware of the extent to which a large development of the moral organs, combined with an active temperament, contribute to such effects!" Or again,-fortified as he is on this as on the other belief, by the most express declarations of Scripture, does he believe in the power of prayer to affect the issue of events?— Mr. Combe tells him that the (only?) use of prayer is to be found in its influence on his own mind. Now that prayer, when believed in as regards its outward aim, has a reflex influence on the character of him who prays, is indeed most true. Whether it would continue to have that influence, if no other were believed in-whether we could pray, knowing that to petition God is but a form-fallacious and yet wholesome-of preaching to ourselves, we leave Mr. Combe's "philosophy of mind" to settle as it can.
That our author does not see all the consequences of his own principles, nay, that he himself admits truths which ought to have given more elevation, and a wider grasp to his philosophy, we are very willing to admit: whilst his evident sincerity and benevolence must leave on the minds of his readers many pleasing impressions. But truth compels us to condemn the general tendency of his "philosophy," on grounds which we trust we have sufficiently explained. Our conclusion, however,
is not that which Mr. Combe so often assumes as the necessary resort of his adversaries. We do not dread Phrenology in itself: we see no "danger" in this or in any other of the natural sciences, except that danger which belongs to every pursuit, arising from the faults of the inquirer. But against these the best security is to be found in a wider diffusion of the knowledge and of the love of science: that its facts may be brought into contact with many minds: and so their true place and bearing may be more quickly ascertained. The division of labour is a principle applicable not less to the labour of the intellect than to the labour of the hands. Mr. Combe belongs to a class of writers who are of great use in the ascertainment or illustration of separate facts, but whose views of their relation to each other, and to higher departments of truth, can be seldom trusted. They who make the parts of a machine are not generally those who can construct the whole; and, in like manner, those who are engrossed in the discovery, or in the contemplation of single truths, are often incapable of assigning them their proper place in the general system of human knowledge. The danger of such "philosophies of mind" as that we have been examining, must be met and not evaded. It cannot be done either by discouraging scientific inquiries, or by proclaiming an absolute separation between the things which belong to reason and those which belong to faith. Every outward form has an inward meaning,-a relation real, though often obscure, to the things which are unseen and eternal. Where the true meaning is not found, some false or illusory meaning will be imagined. As surely as the organic frame assimilates to itself every variety of substance which enters into the composition of its food, so surely will the human mind, after its own spiritual nature, assimilate every appearance of the visible creation. "Who shall read the interpretation thereof" is written on everything we see, and carried in every sound we hear. To interpret nature rightly and to harmonize its material facts with those of the spiritual world, is one of the great works to be attended to in our day.
Village Life in England.
ART. III.-1. Passages in the Life of Gilbert Arnold; or, The Tale of the Four Sermons. By SULLIVAN EARLE. London, 1852, 2. Companions of my Solitude. By the Author of "Friends in Council." London, 1851.
ALTHOUGH we may not very cordially admire the specimen which he has given us of the works which he would see written for their amusement and instruction, we cordially agree with Lamartine in all that he has said about the importance of writing books for the poor. To write books for the highly educated classes is comparatively a small matter. It is something, we admit, to be known and appreciated in the salons of Belgravia, and the banqueting-rooms of May Fair-something, to be read by lords and ladies and men of genius and celebrity-something, to be commended by quarterly reviewers and cited by members of parliament-to be in demand at metropolitan circulating libraries, and to be sure of a place in the "trellised cages," which contain the literary wealth of the lordly magnates of our Woburns and Chatsworths. But, rightly understood, it is a far greater privilege to be a welcome guest in the cottage homes of our teeming England. The "fit audience though few" is not to be greatly desired. They who write for what is ordinarily called fame, must write for the critics who are its dispensers. To write for the poor is commonly to place one's-self beneath the notice of the critics. It is neither to make money nor to make a name. And so it happens that when benevolent people look about them for books to place in the hands of their poorer neighbours-books that will at once interest and instruct them, they find marvellously few suited to the purpose. It is a common complaint, in our country, as in Lamartine's, that there are "no good books for the poor."
And this complaint is not uttered so much because there is a scarcity of this kind of book, as because these books are not good of their kind. Many books have been written, of late years, expressly for the poor-and, more particularly for the children of the poor; but they have for the most part either wanted something which they ought to contain, or contained something which they ought to want. A considerable number of the simple stories of village life, recently published in England, have been written by people obviously well acquainted with the feelings and habits of our rural population. These stories are interesting, and up to a certain point instructive. There is, indeed, a great deal of very excellent morality in them, and the moral teaching is conveyed through
a channel which renders it extremely palatable to the young. Altogether, the cleverness and tact displayed in these volumesthe simple and agreeable style-the natural character of the incidents and personages introduced, and the obvious kindliness and seeming good intentions of the writers, prepossess one strongly in favour of the volumes of which we speak. Indeed, the unprepared reader not improbably, after perusing a few pleasant chapters, begins to think that he has found what he has long been in search of, a good book for the poor; but suddenly he pauses, lifts his eyes from the page; a painful doubt has obtruded itself; he begins to think that the volume which was so delighting him, has got a taint about it after all. It is but a brief sentence-perhaps only a word that has arrested him. But the experienced reader knows what that word indicates. He knows that, however insidiously conveyed-however adroitly concealed, the poison is there. He reads on, and he doubts no longer. Doubts have given place to disappointment. The feeling is a more positive and active one. He finds that he has been reading with interest and attention that he had very nearly placed in the hands of his children or his poor dependents, a book rendered doubly dangerous by the disguise in which its mischief is enveloped. He finds, in a word, that the author is an insidious. tractarian, and that there is a leaven of false doctrine in the book, for which no knowledge of the subject illustrated, no cleverness of treatment, no attractiveness of style can compensate. There is a ceremonial Christianity insinuated in its pages-an exaltation of the prayer-book, the church-catechism, the sacraments, indeed, of the very brick and mortar of the church, at the expense of spiritual religion. There is altogether a distressing formalism in them very destructive of the pure and simple faith -the leaning upon the merits of the Redeemer-which has been emphatically called the "religion of the poor."
We have many books of this class before us to which especial reference might be made in illustration of these remarks. They are books obviously written, as we say, by people well acquainted with the habits and feelings of the poor in our English villages, and their appearance is one of many indications not only of the insidious activity of the party from whom they emanate, but of the intelligence which directs its movements. Whilst one section of this party is preparing, in divers ways, strong food for adult minds, another is supplying milk for babes and sucklings. Wise in their generation, they perceive how great a thing it is to habituate the minds of the young even to certain forms of expression, a familiarity with which is often more fatal to a right conception of the truth than more direct and emphatic teaching. Open questions are here insinuated as settled points of doctrine;