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The above are views which are very generally received with regard to this subject, and appear to be supported on reasonable grounds; but they are totally disregarded by Mr Combe. He finds, that the suffering referred to is a fact directly in the teeth of his theory about the natural laws, and therefore he must get rid of it, at all events. The scriptural part of the matter is easily evaded, but as to the main circumstance, he has nothing for it but boldly denying the fact, and asserting that the sufferings are neither universal nor necessary. He accordingly observes, — "The sufferings of women in childbed have been cited as evidence, that the Creator has not intended the human being, under any circumstances, to execute all its functions entirely free from pain. But besides the obvious answer, that the objection applies only to one sex, and is, therefore, not to be too readily presumed to have its origin in nature, there is good reason to deny the assertion, and to ascribe the suffering in question to departures from the natural laws in either the structure or habits of the individuals who experience them."
These good grounds which Mr Combe alludes to, to prove that the pains of parturition are not a provision of nature, consist in certain cases among women of the lower ranks, who have been delivered, or have delivered themselves, of illegitimate children, with so little pain, as to return almost immediately to their work, or make exertions, which to persons in better circumstances might appear very unusual at least, if not incredible. He also refers to the easy labours of Negresses, and women of other savage tribes, who are reported by some travellers to suffer comparatively little in child-birth. To this it
may be answered, — first, that these cases are precisely similar to those which occur in regard to every thing else, where persons under strong excitement, or in circum
stances of urgent necessity, have made exertions which they never could have done under ordinary circumstances. Soldiers on a storming party, amidst the thundering of cannon, the explosion of mines, and surrounded by death in all its shapes, have been known, in the heat and eagerness of the assault, to mount walls where there could hardly be said to be a breach, and to overcome difficulties of all kinds, which at a period of less fearful excitement, they would have been quite incapable of surmounting. Instances of this occurred in the late Peninsular War, at the sieges of Badajos and Ciuidad Rodrigo, when individuals who had been taken next day to the parts of the walls which they had scaled, would not believe that they had done so, and felt and declared themselves utterly incapable of doing the same again. Now, a woman, in any rank of life, who, to avoid disgrace, conceals her pregnancy, must, from the dread of discovery and the necessities of her situation, be in a state of excitement and desperation, not less, perhaps even greater than a soldier upon a forlorn hope, and will consequently be able to make similar exertions. But what a woman in such circumstances in a civilized country is likely to feel, may probably be felt universally by pregnant females among the savage tribes, who are known to be treated with such cruelty by their husbands, that they often long for death, and are said sometimes to murder their female infants, merely that they may not be subjected to the incessant cruelties which they know is to be their lot if they are allowed to survive. Such cases, therefore, are not within the general rule; they are instances of that kind which every where prevail in nature, where great calamities and hardships are met by a wise and merciful provision of strength to bear what necessity imposes, and where one. law of nature is thus found to neutralize and control another.
At the best, the cases referred to never can be understood as offering any objection to the general law. In this, as in every kind of suffering, it may happen that in some instances it is less severe than in others. It does not follow, although the suffering may be borne, and may not much affect the strength of the individual, that therefore there has been no suffering. We are not entitled to say, in any instance, that there has been none; and even those in which there is least, cannot be regarded as exceptions to the rule, but only as extreme cases, cases where the suffering has been the smallest possible. It is in vain to argue upon such grounds against the existence of an institution known to prevail in all ages, in all climates, and in all countries, in a greater or less degree, over the whole world. We have a perfect reliance on the uniformity of nature's operations, and on the invariable connection between effects and causes; and, therefore, we believe that women, who are placed under exactly the same circumstances as those referred to by Mr Combe, will be able to bear their sufferings equally well. But if decent females in civilized countries are not to be relieved of the pains alluded to, until they are placed in the same circumstances as women in the lower ranks, who conceal pregnancy to avoid disgrace, or the females of savage tribes, who are treated by their lords and masters worse than slaves, if these are the conditions which the natural laws require to mitigate or to remove the pains of child-birth, it will be long before they receive any benefit from this magnificent discovery. The cure is obviously worse than the disease.
ON THE RELATION BETWEEN SCIENCE AND SCRIPTURE.
MR COMBE has, in his work on the Constitution of Man, laid down two different views bearing upon the subject of the relation between philosophy and theology, which are precisely the reverse of each other.
In his introductory chapter, he first accuses theologians of having fallen into gross errors in doctrine, in consequence of their having formed their systems in an age "when there was no sound philosophy, and almost no knowledge of physical science," and when, consequently, "they were unavoidably ignorant of the elementary qualities of human nature, and of the influence of organization on the mental powers, the great link which connects the moral and physical world. They were unacquainted," he observes, "with the relation subsisting between the mind and external nature, and could not, by possibility, divine to what extent individuals and society were capable of being improved by natural means. In the history of man, they had read chiefly of misery and crime, and had, in their own age, beheld much of both. They were, therefore, naturally led to form a low estimate of human nature, and to expect little good from the development of its inherent capabilities."* After some farther observations in the same strain, and expatiating on the importance of philosophy towards obtaining accurate views in regard to religion, he states, that at present, "to all practical ends connected with theology, the philosophy of nature might as well not exist. Divines," he remarks, "have frequently applied scientific * Constitution of Man, p. 4, col. 2. E
discoveries in proving the existence and developing the character of the Deity, but they have failed in applying either the discoveries themselves, or the knowledge of the divine character obtained by means of them, to the constitution of any system of mental philosophy capable of combining harmoniously with religion, and promoting the improvement of the human race."* And he concludes the chapter thus,—“They (the divines) have complained of war waged openly or secretly by philosophy against religion; but they have not duly considered, whether religion itself warrants them in treating philosophy and all its dictates with neglect, in their instruction of the people. True philosophy is a revelation of the divine will manifested in creation; it harmonizes with all truth, and cannot with impunity be neglected.”+
In the second chapter he states, in regard to his favourite natural laws, "Before religion can yield its full practical fruits in this world, it must be wedded to a philosophy founded on these laws," — (laws, it will be observed, that are as yet very imperfectly known, and which may not be all discovered for thousands of years to come ;) "it must borrow light and strength from them, and in return communicate its powerful sanction in enforcing obedience to their dictates."+
Mr Combe has here brought many grave and serious accusations against our divines for their neglect of human philosophy, and stated very plainly his conviction of the impossibility of their forming a system of religion that shall be of any practical utility without its aid. He here seems to hold that they cannot too soon embrace the doctrines of Phrenology as the true science of mind, trace out its full correspondence and harmony with Scripture, and with the doctrines of our holy
+ Ib. p. 7, col. 2.
* Constitution of Man, p. 5, col. 1.