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of sophistry, which we! (Sir David Brewster) have encountered in modern times;" referring his "theories and speculations to no better a feeling than a love of notoriety." It is not to be supposed that Sir David was not perfectly aware who his opponent was, which occasions extreme surprise at the tone adopted throughout More Worlds than One. In his preface, he explains as a cause of his anger, that he found that "the author" of the Essay, "under a title calculated to mislead the public, had made an elaborate attack upon opinions consecrated, as Sir David had thought, by reason and revelation," that the author had not only adopted a theory (the Nebular) so universally condemned as a dangerous speculation, "but had taken a view of the condition of the solar system calculated to disparage the science of astronomy, and throw a doubt over the noblest of its truths." We dismiss this topic with a repetition of our regret, that so splendid a subject was not approached in a serener spirit; that greater respect was not shown by one of his contemporaries for one of the most eminent men of the age; and that sufficient time was not taken, in order to avoid divers surprising macule occurring in even the composition, and certain rash and unguarded expressions and speculations.
If Dr Whewell may be regarded as (pace tanti viri!) a sort of StarSmasher, his opponent is in very truth a Star-Peopler. Though he admits that "there are some difficulties to be removed, and some additional analogies to be adduced, before the mind can admit the startling propositions that the Sun, Moon, and all the satellites, are inhabited spheres" -yet he believes that they are: that all the planets of their respective systems are so; as well as all the single stars, double stars, and nebulæ, with all planets and satellites
circling about them!-though “oar faltering reason utterly fails us!" he owns, "when called on to believe that even the Nebule must be surrendered to life and reason! Wherever there is matter there must be life!" One can by this time almost pardon the excitement, the alarm rather, and anger, with which Sir David ruefully beheld Dr Whewell go forth on his exterminating expedition through Infinitude! It was like a father gazing on the ruthless slaughter of his offspring. Planet after planet, satellite after satellite, star after star, sun after sun, single suns and double suns, system after system, nebula after nebula, all disappeared before this sidereal Quixote! As for Jupiter and Saturn, the pet planets of Sir David, they were dealt with in a way perfectly shocking. The former turned out, to the disordered optics and unsteady brain of the Essayist, to be a sphere of water, with perhaps a few cinders at the centre, and peopled "with cartilaginous and glutinous monsters-boneless, watery, pulpy creatures, floating in the fluid; " while poor Saturn may be supposed turning aghast on hearing that, for all his grand appearance, he was little else than a sphere of vapour, with a little water, tenanted, if at all, by "aqueous, gelatinous creatures too sluggish almost to be deemed alive-floating in their ice-cold waters, shrowded for ever by their humid skies!" But talk after this of the pensive Moon! "She is a mere cinder! a collection of sheets of rigid slag, and inactive craters!" This could be borne no longer; so thus Sir David pours forth the grief and indignation of the Soul Astronomic, in a passage fraught with the spirit, and embodying the results, of his whole book, and which we give, as evidently laboured by the author with peculiar care.
"Those ungenial minds that can be brought to believe that the earth is the
+ Ibid., p. 199.
* More Worlds than One, p. 202. In fact, in a note to page 247, Sir David thus slily alludes to those "conjectures" of Dr Whewell in his Bridgewater Treatise, to which we have refered (ante, pp. 290, 291):"A very different opinion is stated by Dr Whewell, in his Bridgewater Treatise;" adding, after citing the passages," the rest of the chapter, On the castness of the Universe,' is well worthy of the perusal of the reader, and forms a striking contrast with the opinions of the Essayist."-This is perfectly fair.
§ More Worlds than One, p. 98.
|| Ibid., p. 108.
Ibid., p. 166.
only inhabited body in the universe, will have no difficulty in conceiving that it also might have been without inhabitants. Nay, if such minds are imbued with geological truth, they must admit that for millions of years the earth was without inhabitants; and hence we are led to the extraordinary result, that for millions of years there was not an intelligent creature in the vast dominions of the universal King; and that before the formation of the protozoic strata, there was neither a plant nor an animal throughout the infinity of space! During this long period of universal death, when Nature herself was asleep-the sun, with his magnificent attendants-the planets, with their faithful satellites the stars in the binary systems—the solar system itself, were performing their daily, their annual, and their secular movements unseen, unheeded, and fulfilling no purpose that human reason can conceive; lamps lighting nothing fires heating nothing - waters quenching nothing-clouds screening nothing-breezes fanning nothing and everything around, mountain and valley, hill and dale, earth and ocean, all meaning nothing.
• The stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space." To our apprehension, such a condition of the earth, of the solar system, and of the sidereal universe, would be the same as that of our own globe if all its vessels of war and of commerce were traversing its seas with empty cabins and freightless holds; as if all the railways on its surface were in full activity without passengers and goods; and all our machinery beating the air and gnashing their iron teeth without work performed. A house without tenants, a city without citizens, present to our minds the same idea as a planet without life, and a universe without inhabitants. Why the house was built, why the city was founded, why the planet was made, and why the universe was created, it would be difficult even to conjecture. Equally great would be the difficulty were the planets shapeless lumps of matter, poised in ether, and still and motionless as the grave. But when we consider them as chiselled spheres, and teeming with inorganic beauty, and in full mechanical activity, performing their appointed motions with such miraculous precision that their days and their years never err a second of time in hundreds of centuries, the difficulty of believing them to be without life is, if possible, immeasurably increased. To conceive any one material globe,
whether a gigantic clod slumbering in space, or a noble planet equipped like our own, and duly performing its appointed task, to have no living occupants, or not in a state of preparation to receive them, seems to us one of those notions which could be harboured only in an illeducated and ill-regulated mind-a mind without faith and without hope but to conceive a whole universe of moving and revolving worlds in such a category, indicates, in our apprehension, a mind dead to feeling and shorn of reason."
"It is doubtless possible," observes Sir David, however, a little further on,+ as if with a twinge of misgiving," that the Mighty Architect of the universe may have had other objects in view, incomprehensible by us, than that of supporting animal and vegetable life in these magnificent spheres." Would that Sir David Brewster would allow himself to be largely influenced by this rational and devout sentiment! His book is, on the contrary, crammed with assertions from beginning to end, and of a peremptory and intolerant character unknown to the spirit of genuine philosophy.
The Essayist, however, is not incapable of quiet humour: and the following pregnant passage is at least worthy to stand side by side with that which we have just quoted from his indignant and eloquent opponent :
"Undoubtedly, all true astronomers, taught caution and temperance of thought by the discipline of their magnificent science, abstain from founding such assumptions upon their discoveries. They know how necessary it is to be upon their guard against the tricks which fancy plays with the senses; and if they see appearances of which they cannot interpret the meaning, they are content that they should have no meaning for them, till the due explanation comes. We have innumerable examples of this wise and cautious temper in all periods of astronomy. One has occurred lately. Several careful astronomers, observing the stars by day, had been surprised to see globes of light glide across the field of view of their telescopes, often in rapid succession, and in great numbers. They did not, as may be supposed, rush to the assumption that these globes were celestial bodies of a new kind, before unseen, and that, from the peculiarity of their appearance and movement, they were probably inhabited by beings of a peculiar kind. They pro+ Ibid., p. 185.
* More Worlds than One, pp. 180, 183.
ceeded differently. They altered the focus of their telescopes, looked with other glasses, made various changes and trials; and finally discovered that these globes of light were the winged seeds of certain plants, which were wafted through the air, and which, illuminated by the sun, were made globular by being at distances unsuited to the focus of the telescopes !" *
Before proceeding to give our readers some idea of the mode in which Sir David Brewster encounters Dr Whewell, let us offer a general observation concerning both these eminent gentlemen. While the latter exhibits throughout his Essay a spirit of candour and modesty, without one harsh expression or uncharitable insinuation with reference to the holder of doctrines which he is bent upon impugning with all his mental power and multifarious resources; the former, as we have seen, uses language at once heated, uncourteous, and unjustifiable: especially where he more than insinuates that his opponent, whose great knowledge and ability he admits, either deliberately countenances doctrines tending really to Atheism, or may be believed "ignorant of their tendency, and to have forgotten the truths of Inspiration, and even those of Natural Religion."† To venture, however circuitously, to hint such imputations upon an opponent whom he had the slightest reason to suspect being one of such high and responsible academic position, is an offence equally against personal courtesy and public propriety; as we think Sir David Brewster would, on reflection, acknowledge. Both Dr Whewell and Sir David Brewster must excuse us, if, scanning both through the cold medium of impartial criticism, their speculations, questions, or assertions appear to us disturbed and deflected by a leading prepossession or foregone conclusion, which we shall indicate in the words of each.
Dr WHEWELL." The Earth is really the largest Planetary body in the Solar system; its domestic hearth, and the Only World [i. e. collection of intelligent creatures] in the Universe."
Sir DAVID BREWSTER.-"Life is almost a property of matter. Wherever there is Matter, there must be Life :Life physical, to enjoy its beauties; Life Moral, to worship its Maker; and Life Intellectual, to proclaim His wisdom and His power. Universal Life upon Universal matter, is an idea to which the mind instinctively clings. . . Every star in the Heavens, and every point in a nebula which the most powerful telescope has not separated from its neighbour, is a sun surrounded by inhabited planets like our own. In peopling such worlds with life and intelligence, we assign the cause of their existence; and when the mind is once alive to this great Truth, it cannot fail to realise the grand combination of infinity of life with infinity of matter." §
The composition of Sir David Brewster, though occasionally too declamatory and rhetorical, and so far lacking the dignified simplicity befitting the subjects with which he deals, has much merit. It is easy, vivid, and vigorous, but will bear retrenchment, and lowering of tone. As to the substantial texture of his work, we think it betrays, in almost every page, haste and impetuosity, and evidence that the writer has sadly under-estimated the strength of his opponent. Another feature of More Worlds than One, is a manifest desire provocare ad populum—a greater anxiety, in the first instance, to catch the ear of the million, than to convince the "fit audience, though few." Now, however, to his work; and, as we have already said, on him lies the labouring oar of proof. All that his opponent professes to do, is to ask for arguments "rendering probable" that "doctrine" which Sir David pledges himself to demonstrate to be not only the "hope" of the Christian, but the creed of the philosopher: as much, that is, an article of his belief, as the doctrines of attraction and gravitation, or the existence of demonstrable astronomical facts.
tion, sketching the growth of the belief He commences with a brief introducin a plurality of worlds-one steadily and firmly increasing in strength, till it encountered the rude shock of the
Essay, ch. vii. sec. 17, p. 221. + More Worlds than One, p. 248. Essay, chap. x. sec. 10, pp. 308, 309; chap. xii. sec. 1, p. 359. § More Worlds than One, pp. 178, 179.
Essayist, whose "very remarkable work" is "ably written," and who "defends ingeniously his novel and extraordinary views:" "the direct tendency of which is to ridicule and bring into contempt the grand discoveries in sidereal astronomy by which the last century has been distinguished." In his next chapter, Sir David discusses "the religious aspect of the question," representing man, especially the philosopher, as always having pined after a knowledge of the scene of his future being. He declares that neither the Old nor the New Testament contains 66 a single expression incompatible with the great truth that there are other worlds than our own which are the seats of life and intelligence;" but, on the contrary, there are" other passages which are inexplicable without admitting it to be true." He regards, as we have seen, the noble exclamation of the Psalmist, "What is man," as "a positive argument for a plurality of worlds;" and "cannot doubt" that he was gifted with a plenary knowledge of the starry system, inhabited as Sir David would have it to be! Dr Chalmers, let us remark, in passing, expressed himself differently, and with a more becoming reserve: "It is not for us to say whether inspiration revealed to the Psalmist the wonders of the modern astronomy," but "even though the mind be a perfect stranger to the science of these enlightened times, the heavens present a great and an elevating spectacle, the contemplation of which awakened the piety of the Psalmist"-a view in which Dr Whewell concurs. Sir David then comes to consider the doctrine of "Man, in his future state of existence, consisting, as at present, of a spiritual nature residing in a corporeal frame." We must, therefore, find for the race of Adam," if not for the races which preceded him!" * & a material home upon which he may reside, or from which he may travel to other localities in the universe." That house, he says, cannot be the earth, for it will not be big enough-there will be such a "population as the habitable parts of our globe could not possibly accommodate;" wherefore, 66 we can
scarcely doubt that their future abode must be on some of the primary or secondary planets of the solar system, whose inhabitants have ceased to exist, like those on the earth; or on planets which have long been in a state of preparation, as our earth was, for the advent of intellectual life." Here, then, is "the creed of the philosopher," as well as "the hope of the Christian." Passing, according to the order adopted in this paper, from the first chapter (" Religious Aspect of the Question"), we alight on the seventh, entitled "Religious Difficulties." We entertain too much consideration for Sir David Brewster to speak harshly of anything falling from his pen; but we think ourselves justified in questioning whether this chapter-dealing with speculations of an awful nature, among which the greatest religious and philosophical intellects tremble as they "go sounding on their dim and perilous way"shows him equal to cope with his experienced opponent, whom every page devoted to such topics shows to have fixed the DIFFICULTY with which he proposed to deal, fully and steadily before his eyes, in all its moral, metaphysical, and philosophical bearings, and to have discussed it cautiously and reverently. We shall content ourselves with briefly indicating the course of observation on that "difficulty" adopted by Sir David Brewster, and leaving it to the discreet reader to form his own judgment whether Sir David has left the difficulty where he found it, or removed, lessened, or enhanced it.
Dr Whewell, in his Dialogue, thus temperately and effectively deals with this section of his opponent's lucubrations :
"His own solution of the question concerning the redemption of other worlds appears to be this, that the provision made for the redemption of man by what took place upon earth eighteen hundred years ago, may have extended its influence to other worlds.
logical hypothesis three remarks offer "In reply to which astronomico-theothemselves: In the first place, the hypothesis is entirely without warrant or countenance in the revelation from which all our knowledge of the scheme of redemption is derived; in the second place, the
*More Worlds than One, p. 18.
events which took place upon earth eighteen hundred years ago, were connected with a train of events in the history of man, which had begun at the creation of man, and extended through all the intervening ages; and the bearing of this whole series of events upon the condition of the inhabitants of other worlds must be so different from its bearing on the condition of man, that the hypothesis needs a dozen other auxiliary hypotheses to make it intelligible; and, in the third place, this hypothesis, making the earth, insignificant as it seems to be in the astronomical scheme, the centre of the theological scheme, ascribes to the earth a peculiar distinction, quite as much at variance with the analogies of the planets to one another, as the supposition that the earth alone is inhabited; to say nothing of the bearing of the critic's hypothesis on the other systems that encircle other suns." *
"In freely discussing the subject of a Plurality of Worlds," says Sir David, "there can be no collision between Reason and Revelation." He regrets the extravagant conclusion of some, that the inhabitants of all planets but our own, are sinless and immortal beings that never broke the Divine Law, and enjoying that perfect felicity reserved for only a few of the less favoured occupants of earth. Thus chained to a planet, the lowest and most unfortunate in the universe, the philosopher, with all his analogies broken down, may justly renounce his faith in a Plurality of Worlds, and rejoice in the more limited but safer creed of the anti-Pluralist author, who makes the earth the only world in the universe, and the special object of God's paternal care." He proceeds, in accordance with "men of lofty minds and undoubted piety," to regard the existence of moral evil as a necessary part of the general scheme of the universe, and consequently affecting all its Rational Inhabitants. He "rejects the idea that the inhabitants of the planets do not require a Saviour; and maintains the more rational opinion, that they stand in the same moral relation to their Maker as the inhabitants of the earth; and seeks for a solution of the difficulty how can there be inhabitants in the planets, when God had
but One Son, whom He could send to save them? If we can give a satisfactory answer to this question, it may destroy the objections of the Infidel, while it relieves the Christian from his difficulties."§ ... "When our Saviour died, the influence of His death extended backward, in the Past, to millions who never heard His name; in the Future, to millions who never will hear it.. a Force which did not vary with any function of the distance. . . . Emanating from the middle planet of the system'
The earth the middle planet of the system? How is this? In an earlier portion of his book (p. 56), Sir David had demonstrated that "our earth is neither the middle [his own italics] planet, nor the planet nearest the sun, nor the planet furthest from that luminary: that therefore the earth, as a planet, has no preeminence in the solar system, to induce us to believe that it is the only inhabited world. Jupiter is the middle planet (p. 55), and is otherwise highly distinguished !" How is this? Can the two passages containing such direct contradictions have emanated from the same scientific controversialist ?-To resume, how
Dialogue, pp. 62-64. SIbid., p. 138.
"Emanating from the middle planet of the system, why may it not have extended to them all,.. to the Planetary Races in the Past, and to the Planetary Races in the Future? ... But to bring our argument more within the reach of an ordinary understanding "-he supposes our earth split into two parts! the old world and the new (as Biela's comet is supposed to have been divided in 1846), at the beginning of the Christian era! T-" would not both fragments have shared in the beneficence of the Cross-the penitent on the shores of the Mississippi, as richly as the pilgrim on the banks of the Jordan? Should this view prove unsatisfactory to the anxious inquirer, we may suggest another sentiment, even though we ourselves may not admit it into our creed. . May not the Divine Nature, which can neither suffer, nor die, and which,