Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/462

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tian scholar did honor to religion and to himself by quietly accepting the claims of science and making the best of them, despite all these clamors. That man was Nicholas Wiseman, better known afterward as Cardinal Wiseman. The conduct of this pillar of the Roman Catholic Church contrasts admirably with that of timid Protestants, who were filling England with shrieks and denunciations.[1]

And here let me note that one of the most interesting skirmishes in this war was made in New England. Professor Stuart, of Andover, justly honored as a Hebrew scholar, declared that to speak of six periods of time for the creation was flying in the face of Scripture; that Genesis expressly speaks of six days, each made up of "the evening and the morning," and not six periods of time.

To him replied a professor in Yale College, James Kingsley. In an article admirable for keen wit and kindly temper, he showed that Genesis speaks just as clearly of a solid firmament as of six ordinary days, and that, if Professor Stuart had got over one difficulty and accepted the Copernican theory, he might as well get over another and accept the revelations of geology. The encounter was quick and decisive, and the victory was with science and our own honored Yale.[2]

But perhaps the most singular attempt against geology was made by a fine specimen of the English Don—Dean Cockburn, of York—to scold its champions out of the field. Having no adequate knowledge of geology, he opened a battery of abuse. He gave it to the world at large by pulpit and press; he even inflcited it upon leading statesmen by private letters.[3] From his pulpit in York Minster, Mary Somerville was denounced coarsely, by name, for those studies in physical geography which have made her honored throughout the world.[4]

But these weapons did not succeed; they were like Chinese gongs and dragon-lanterns against rifled cannon, and we are now to look at a very different chapter in this war. This chapter will form the next subject of our study.

  1. Wiseman, "Twelve Lectures on the Connection between Science and Revealed Religion," first American edition. New York, 1837. As to the comparative severity of the struggle regarding astronomy, geology, etc., in Catholic and Protestant countries, see Lecky, "England in the Eighteenth Century," chap, ix, p. 525.
  2. See "Silliman's Journal," vol. xxx, p. 114.
  3. Professor Goldwin Smith informs me that the papers of Sir Robert Peel, yet unpublished, contain very curious specimens of these epistles.
  4. See "Personal Recollections of Mary Somerville," Boston, 1874, pp. 139 and 375. Compare with any statement of his religious views that Dean Cockburn was able to make, the following from Mrs. Somerville: "Nothing has afforded me so convincing a proof of the Deity as these purely mental conceptions of numerical and mathematical science which have been, by slow degrees, vouchsafed to man—and are still granted in these latter times by the differential calculus, now superseded by the higher algebra—all of which must have existed in that sublimely omniscient mind from eternity." (See "Personal Recollections," pp. 140, 141.)