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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

INTELLECTUAL LIBERTY.

The recent prosecution of the Rev. Howard MacQueary for heresy has brought out in a striking manner the fact that the sympathies of the public in a case of this kind are, as a rule, strongly with the defendant—with the man who is striving to obtain recognition for intellectual rights as against arbitrarily imposed dogmas. We do not say that the prosecutors in such a case are to be blamed. Their motives may be, and doubtless in general are, of the purest, and their logical position may be very strong. Still, they labor under the disadvantage of administering and striving to enforce a system in which authority takes the place which, in other fields of thought, is only assigned to proved and still provable results of investigation. Long ago men were led to think and believe so and so: no otherwise must they think and believe to-day. Such is the principle that governs adhesion to theological standards—a principle that has had its uses in past times by giving stability to institutions under which the forces of society were being organized and the sympathies of men developed. Manifestly, however, this principle is becoming more and more out of harmony with the spirit of the age. Men now know that, apart from constant—not re-assertion, but—re-verification, the opinions of their ancestors are not to be depended on for guidance; and they do not see why this should not apply as much in the theological region as in any other. The creeds may be all true, and it is certainly no part of our business to say they are not; only in these days it is almost impossible for intelligent men not to hold them subject to such verification as their nature and alleged evidences admit of. Subjective impressions, we all know, are just as liable to error as objective ones; and because a man, many centuries ago, held that he had received a supernatural communication we can not feel absolutely certain—unless collateral proofs of considerable cogency are forthcoming—that he really received such a communication and was not under the influence of illusion. In saying this, our object is not in any way to weaken the hold which theological doctrines may have upon any mind, but merely to explain how it is that so much public sympathy seems to be accorded to those who seek to escape from what, to them, has become the bondage of authority. In our institutions of secular learning the putting forward of a new theory or the discarding of an old one, far from subjecting a man to forfeiture of office, gives a certain additional interest to what he has to say, and he is allowed the freest possible scope for developing his thought and his conclusions. Of course, he must run the gantlet of criticism; but this is just what a man who thinks he has discovered new truth desires. We do not blame our ecclesiastical friends for not acting at once on similar principles, for we know they can not do so, and we are very ready to believe that many of them at least, if not most of them, are doing the best they can in their several positions, and acting fully up to their lights. But none the less do we maintain that verification is the only charter on which beliefs of any kind can be properly or safely held, and that this truth must eventually be recognized in every field of thought and speculation.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Socialism, New and Old. By William Graham, M. A., Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Economy, Queen's College, Belfast. International Scientific Series. Vol. LXVIII. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. lv + 416. Price, $1.75.

The latest addition to the International Scientific Series is a very timely one. The subject of socialism or social reconstruction is in the air; and a competent thinker, who has any well-matured views on the question, is sure of an attentive hearing. Prof. Graham, in the work before us, deals with the