To the Editor of the Popular Science Monthly.
THERE seems to be nothing so capable 1 of throwing a "scientist" into a paroxysm of rage as the serious attempt to talk to him of spirit, spirit-world, "spiritual body" etc. In the words of Brewster, "spirit is the last thing he will give in to"; or, to put it in Huxley's mild way, "supposing the phenomena to be genuine, they do not interest me." One might suppose that men whose habits of mind are the offspring of careful investigation and calm inquiry, would take any class of phenomena, and at least contemplate them with scientific patience, keeping their minds poised and ready to receive more light. But no; some favorite hypothesis seems to be in danger, and our modern philosopher, who either claims the paternity of it, or hangs to the skirts of him thus highly honored, has always a choice assortment of literary missiles to hurl at the trespasser. When a man feels that he can not meet another in fair argument, he usually greets him with such choice epithets as fool, driveling idiot, lunatic, etc., etc. How scientific! How worthy of a scientific journal is such mean and cheap scurrility!
Such is the temper in which you have chosen to assail me and my recently published book, "Spiritual Communications," in the June number of "The Monthly." Of course, I can not contend with you in throwing mud; your vocabulary of abuse is richer and stronger than any I could possibly command; and I acknowledge, therefore, that you have the advantage of me in this respect; but let me suggest to you that one who claims to be a scientist should resort to the weapons of logic, not the bludgeon of a ruffian. Nor was even this brutal treatment sufficient to satisfy your scientific instincts. You seemed to think your literary crucifixion would be incomplete unless you brought a murderer to share my fate; but remember that the greatest being that ever walked upon the surface of this planet was crucified between two thieves; and remember, too, who did it. "Woe unto the world because of offenses, but woe unto that man by whom the offense cometh!" Your article does, indeed, show the "survival of savagery."
The editor of this book may, indeed, claim some consideration for accredited ability to investigate phenomena brought to his notice, as well as yourself. What right have you, who know nothing of the facts—and will not listen to the evidence on which they rest—to abuse me for stating them, simply because they do not fit into your notions, your conceits, and your theories? The man who refuses to investigate, or listen to the results of investigation—who shuts his eyes against the sun of truth, and angrily protests there is no sun he is the idiot; or, if he continues in that course, will soon become one. If you had read my book, you would have seen that, instead of setting aside all other spiritual revelations, that which is offered in the book strengthens and confirms the divine revelation of the Scriptures, and is presented in that relation to it; but it adds to it, and makes clear many things previously left in obscurity. Jesus said (John xvi. 12): "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye can not bear them now." Science is constantly giving birth to new theories, as you your-self very well know. What, for example, is the science of chemistry now, compared to what it was when you first called at my school with your chart of its nomenclature? Why, then, should you quarrel with revelation if God chooses to expand it, and give us a little more spiritual light? Is your soul (excuse me, your mind) so bathed with heavenly radiance that you are afraid any addition to it will blind you?
Still, there is one part of your article on savagery that gives me real pleasure. You appear to be anxious for the integrity of "spiritual revelation." It does really appear as if you could look beyond the universe of matter to the far greater super-sensuous world of God's creation. I congratulate you and the world upon this heavenly change. Who knows but the millennium may be at hand, when the lion will lie down with the lamb (outside of him), and the editor of "The Popular Science Monthly" will be able to read "Spiritual Communications" without losing his philosophic temper, and without becoming lost to all sense of scientific and literary decency?
I commend to you, in conclusion, the words of Mr. Parke Godwin, which you are, doubtless, able to recall: "Let us be assured that some truth has come a good while ago, that it is coming still, in many ways, and will come in broader and rosier flashes in the future, though not to him who, ostrich-like, buries his head in the sand, or muffles his eyes against any of its illuminations."
I have the honor to subscribe myself,
Very sincerely your friend,
New York, June 5, 1879.