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succession, of appeal from this theory, and assertion of a higher lot for man. Young exclaims, as if in anger,
“Were then capacities divine conferr’d,
As a mock-diadem, in savage sport,
Shelley, with all his profession of atheism, shrinks startled from the brink of annihilation :
"Shall that alone which knows Be as a sword burnt up before the sheath By sightless lightning ?"
Tennyson expressly alleges he would not stay in a world where the demonstration of the Positive Philosophy was complete: he would not confess himself and his fellows to be “cunning casts in clay :”—
“Let science prove we are, and then
What matters science unto man,
We suppose the following stanza, in which he again defines man, on the hypothesis that he is no more than an animal, and has no more to enjoy or look to than the pleasures of sense, is one of the finest in poetry :
“No more? a monster, then a dream,
A discord. Dragons of the prime,
That tear each other in their slime,
We find, in a poem by Coleridge, which is not, we think, very well known, a general estimate of the absurdity and contradiction which are all remaining to man when he has denied his immaterial and immortal existence. We must be excused for quoting it at length: since our present argument has reference to the sympathies and instincts of the noble, it can not be refused even a logical value:
“If dead, we cease to be; if total gloom
Swallow up life's brief flash for ay, we fare
Whose sound and motion not alone declare,
Be life itself, and not its task and tent,
O Man! thou vessel purposeless, unmeant,
Surplus of nature's dread activity,
She form'd with restless hands unconsciously!
If rootless thus, thus substanceless thy state,
Mean but themselves, each fittest to create,
Thy heart with hollow joy for hollow good!
Why cowl thy face beneath the mourner's hood,
Image of image, ghost of ghostly elf,
These costless shadows of thy shadowy self!
Thus we can not entertain any apprehensions of the ultimate success of atheistic science. But we speak with a confidence no less assured, when we say, that its present diffusion may be wide, that it is either expressly the most formidable infidel agency of the day, or one of the most formidable. It possesses elements of strength which have ever proved powerful. Besides all that we formerly specified, we may still note, as pertaining to this philosophy, two characteristics which render it strong: definiteness and union. And it is favored by circumstances. The general human mind has scarce power to act long and earnestly on indirect motives; let it be once understood that metaphysics, however useful as a mental gymnastic, can yield directly no harvest of truth, and, we suspect, metaphysics will not long continue to be pursued. It is this consideration which leads us to withhold at least an absolute assent from what Sir William Hamilton says on this subject; and if metaphysical skepticism can find no arrow in the quiver of the great advocate of metaphysical studies, there has, beyond question, been much in the late history of metaphysics to produce and encourage it. It is now a widely-known and acknowledged fact, that the last great efflorescence of metaphysical study in Germany withered away without having borne any fruit, that when men attempted to take of it and apply it to use, it crumbled away in their hands : Hegel, the last great ontologist, died with the assertion on his lips that no one understood him. All that expenditure of intellect seems to the practical man to have gone for nothing, to have been so much mere absolute loss. The disciple of Comté is at hand, urgent in pressing on him that this is but the last instance of a failure in which the life of the best intellect of earth has been wasted, the last earnest attempt, with terrestrial arrow, to strike the stars. He will lay forth his laws, he will show how they account for phenomena, he will
prate plausibly of a good that is definite, an end that is seen. Here, at least, he will say, is rest; after six thousand years of tossing and groping, the race requires it; cast away Utopian fancies, they but clog the soul in its way to real advantage; take the good you have, and fly not weakly after other that you know not of. And then there is Mammon to lend his auxiliary prompting, and the hard practicality, the quite unideal nature, of every day life, to sanction and second. Let us remember well the reign of sensualism in France; and let us not forget that not a little of the ardent and really noble mind of Eng. land follows, with more or less completeness of adherence, the banner of Comté. Amid decaying systems of metaphysics, and systems of religion whose difference is too readily taken as a proof of universal unsoundness, the compact, single-eyed band of positive atheists may go very far!
We enter not again upon any examination of Pantheism. Our object in this chapter is to inquire very briefly what hope may be reposed in the infidel spiritualism of the day, in the contest which all who believe in a spirit at all may unite in waging with the Positive Philosophy.
The literary atmosphere resounds at present with cries that remind us of what is lofty and eternal in the destiny of man. We hear of the eternities and the immensities, of the divine silences, of the destinies, of load-stars, still, though seen by few, in the heavens. We are well-nigh confounded, and, unless we have listened long, are at a loss to attach a meaning to the high-sounding but indefinite terms. Meanwhile the compact phalanx under the black flag is steadily advancing. Can the spiritualistic pantheism which emanated or still emanates from Mr. Carlyle, oppose to it a line which will not easily be broken?
We must answer with an emphatic negative. We shall state briefly the leading reasons which prevail with us in so doing.
We assert of infidel spiritualism that it is rendered practically powerless by one great characteristic; the reverse of that which imparts strength to the positive array: it is hopelessly indefinite.