vellum in the museum, painted from life by M. Bocourt, and represents one of two individuals brought from Damascus in 1855, by M. Bourgoing, which lived for some time at the menagerie of the Paris Museum.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from La Nature.
|THE LIGHTS OF THE CHURCH AND THE LIGHT OF SCIENCE.|
THERE are three ways of regarding any account of past occurrences, whether delivered to us orally or recorded in writing.
The narrative may be exactly true. That is to say, the words taken in their natural sense, and interpreted according to the rules of grammar, may convey to the mind of the hearer, or of the reader, an idea precisely correspondent with one which would have remained in the mind of a witness. For example, the statement that King Charles I was beheaded at Whitehall on the 30th day of January, 1649, is as exactly true as any proposition in mathematics or physics; no one doubts that any person of sound faculties, properly placed, who was present at Whitehall throughout that day, and who used his eyes, would have seen the king's head cut off; and that there would have remained in his mind an idea of that occurrence which he would have put into words of the same value as those which we use to express it.
Or the narrative may be partly true and partly false. Thus, some histories of the time tell us what the king said, and what Bishop Juxon said; or report royalist conspiracies to effect a rescue; or detail the motives which induced the chiefs of the Commonwealth to resolve that the king should die. One account declares that the king knelt at a high block, another that he lay down with his neck on a mere plank. And there are contemporary pictorial representations of both these modes of procedure. Such narratives, while veracious as to the main event, may and do exhibit various degrees of unconscious and conscious misrepresentation, suppression, and invention, till they become hardly distinguishable from pure fictions. Thus, they present a transition to narratives of a third class, in which the fictitious element predominates. Here, again, there are all imaginable gradations, from such works as Defoe's quasi-historical account of the plague year, which probably gives a truer conception of that dreadful time than any authentic history, through the historical novel, drama, and epic, to the purely phantasmal creations of imagina-