"O may I join the choir invisible,
Of those immortal dead who live again
In minds made better by their presence: live
In pulses stirred to generosity.
In deeds of daring rectitude, in scorn
For miserable aims that end with self;
In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars,
And, with their mild persistence, urge men's search
To vaster issues. So to live is heaven."
In this year, too, at Belfast, Professor Tyndall delivered, before the British Association, his celebrated address, in which, "abandoning all disguise," he says that "the confession that I feel bound to make before you is, that I prolong the vision backward across the boundary of the experimental evidence, and discern, in that matter which we, in our ignorance and notwithstanding our professed reverence for its Creator, have hitherto covered with opprobrium, the promise and potency of every form and quality of life." The discovery, if it may be called so, was not exactly a new one. The same avowal had been made, more than twenty years before, by W. B. Carpenter, but the rise of the evolution school in the interim caused an importance to attach to Professor Tyndall's utterances that has not attended upon Dr. Carpenter's. The address at once took rank as the high-water mark of materialism. Lastly, in the same year, we come to Greg's "Warnings of Cassandra," and to a work which, together with this, is symptomatic of the feelings of the next few years—Hartmann's "Philosophy of the Unknowable."
The prevailing tone, after the battle had been fought, was one of despair and pessimism. Science had won the victory, but thoughtful minds, even on that side, saw that it might be possible to push it too far. Hence came attempts at compromise, the cry for which went up, in 1874, from John Morley, the editor of the "Fortnightly Review," the chief Positivist organ. Still, for the present, the general tone was disheartening in the extreme, and its influence is traceable in many ways. Poetry has been distinctly deteriorated by it. In politics it led to a temporary reaction in favor of conservatism. Life appeared to be, as Pope had said, a mighty maze, but the plan was lost. Instead of the authoritative tone of the Church, the voices of different
- Quoted from the original, as reprinted in "Nature." The passage is reworded in the published address. The variations between the two arc curious, and well worthy of study.
- For Dr. Carpenter's words, see his article upon "Life," in Todd's "Cyclopædia of Anatomy and Physiology," vol. iii, p. 150. This work appeared in 1847. He refers, in a foot-note, to an earlier essay, on the laws regulating vital and physical phenomena, in the "Edinburgh Philosophical Journal," April, 1838.
- I may here remark that I have confined my review to works in the English language. Many foreign names, such as Strauss and Haeckel, will occur to every one. To have extended my review to these would have required a separate essay.