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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/369

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349
AN EXPLANATION TO PROF. HUXLEY.

labor of years, endeavored at all events, whether successfully or not, to place the most correct version possible of the Holy Scriptures in the hands of the English people. I agree with him most cordially in seeing in the wide diffusion and the unprejudiced study of that sacred volume the best security for "true religion and sound learning." It is in the open Bible of England, in the general familiarity of all classes of Englishmen and English-women with it, that the chief obstacle has been found to the spread of the fantastic critical theories by which he is fascinated; and, instead of Englishmen translating the Bible into the language of their natural experiences, it will in the future, as in the past, translate them and their experiences into a higher and a supernatural region.—Nineteenth Century.

 

AN EXPLANATION TO PROF. HUXLEY.
By W. C. McGEE, Bishop of Peterborough.

IN the February number of this review Prof. Huxley put into the mouth of Mr. Frederic Harrison the following sentence: "In his [the agnostic's] place, as a sort of navvy leveling the ground and cleansing it of such poor stuff as Christianity, he is a useful creature who deserves patting on the back—on condition that he does not venture beyond his last." The construction which I put upon these words—and of which I still think them quite capable—was that the professor meant to represent Mr. Harrison and himself as agreed upon the proper work of the agnostic, and as differing only as to whether he might or might not "venture beyond" that. On this supposition, my inference that he had called Christianity "sorry," or, as I ought to have said, "poor stuff" (the terms are, of course, equivalent), would have been perfectly correct.

On re-reading the sentence in question, however, in connection with its context, I see that it may more correctly be regarded as altogether ironical; and this, from the professor's implied denial in his last article of the correctness of my version, I conclude that he intended it to be. I accordingly at once withdraw my statement, and express my regret for having made it. May I plead, however, as some excuse for my mistake, that this picture of him-self when engaged in his agnostic labors is so wonderfully accurate and life-like that I might almost be pardoned for taking for a portrait what was only meant for a caricature, or for supposing that he had expressed in so many words the contempt which displays itself in so many of his utterances respecting the Christian faith?