Изображения страниц

But a

kind by which to judge the solar system. We will, therefore, suggest another, which, if equally hazardous and random, is yet, we conceive, quite as fair an hypothesis on which to think about the possible existences in the solar system as his. We do not, of course, attach any real importance to it. small force will neutralize a small force. The appeal on both sides is rather to that imaginative side of the reason which loves to have some consistent view; so here, accordingly, we detach a weak theory to hold Dr. Whewell's weak theory in check, until some more reliable troops come up on one side or the other. Let us ask how the various planets are constituted with regard to the detection of the secrets of celestial physics, which is the only attainable measure of what we may call the possible stages of planetary knowledge. We shall find that the most favourably situated bodies for the detection of the laws of gravitation, of the velocity of light, of the aberration of light, of tidal laws, of the causes of the trade-winds and the figure of the planets, and of the theory of eclipses and occultations,-for the acquisition of astronomical and geogra phical knowledge, to which these last offer facilities, and finally to some not very slight extent for the examination of comets and the fixed stars, are the large distant planets of our system – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and probably Neptune. There are great resources for astronomical inquiries in these planets which none of the nearer planets possess; most of the phenomena we have referred to are exhibited on a gigantic scale there, and are as much more legible to the opening intellect of their inhabitants (if any) than the same phenomena here, as the early large-print lesson-books of children than the intricate and complex characters of running-hand. For example, the laws which Kepler discovered with so much labour with regard to the period of the planetary revolution round the sun, must have been suggested much earlier to our astronomers had we had a plurality of moons to compare together, like Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. Seeing that the more distant moon revolved more slowly in an easy and definite ratio than the nearer, must have suggested the improbability of the sun's revolving in ten hours round Jupiter, (quicker far than the nearest moon), and must thus have led to the discovery of the Copernican system ; whereas we, with only one moon, and Mars or Venus with none, bad no similar means of determining any relation between distance and the time of revolution. Again, it is well known that the discovery of the velocity of light, which has led to such various astronomical inferences, was due to the observation that the eclipses of the satellites of Jupiter did not take place when he was in opposition so soon by about a quarter of an hour as the times calculated from observations taken when he was at his nearest to the earth. The inference was, that light took that period to travel over the diameter of the earth's orbit. Now this same error would have been observed on a far greater scale by an observer on the surface of Jupiter watching the eclipses of Saturn's satellites (Saturn being, when nearest to Jupiter, roughly about the same distance from him as Jupiter from us), inasmuch as light would then have to travel over the whole orbit of Jupiter, and the error would, consequently, have been an hour and a quarter, and might have attracted much earlier observation. Again, looking to the more striking character and magnitude of the satellites' motions in Jupiter, and their use, not only as fixing exact astronomical times, but as a gigantic planetary clock, we may call to mind that Jupiter's nearest moon moves round her whole orbit in less than two days, so that its motion in the heavens is as visible as that of the hand of a time-piece, the second moon, which revolves once to two revolutions of the first, serving as a kind of short hand. At Saturn the nearest moon revolves with nearly twice the speed of the most rapid Jovian moon, so that the phenomena of lunar periods—the study which was the first to occupy our terrestrial astronomers—would be likely to have fixed far earlier attention, and led to far more rapid results, had we been similarly circumstanced. The same fact of the multiplicity of moons must lead also to far more remarkable tidal laws than those of our earth. Again, owing to the much more rapid revolution of Jupiter and Saturn, the causes which produce our trade-winds, and the error called the aberration of light (which arises from our estimating the direction of the rays which reach our eye as if our position were stationary when we are really moving), are multiplied there about twenty-seven fold. Hence they must have been, cæteris paribus, far easier to discover, and the trade-winds themselves must have considerably has. tened the discoveries of the Jovian or Saturnian Columbus. Finally, even the magnitude of several of the fixed stars must be calculable from these stations in the universe with considerable precision. Our most recent astronomers profess to observe the altered relative place of several of them, owing to the movement of the earth in her (relatively) small orbit of a hundred millions of miles. If this be so, the star-gazers of Jupiter and Saturn-still more those of Uranus and Neptune -must have had comparatively accurate means of noticing the same change during their much vaster movements. For every mile the earth moves during the year, Neptune is known to move nearly thirty during his great year, and consequently the

[ocr errors]

relative changes of the fixed stars, due to his change of place, which alone affords any clue to their distance, and therefore to their magnitude, is thirty times as great. It is therefore probable enough that the Astronomers Royal of Neptune would be able to throw some light for us upon the ked stars, dreary and cold as their planetary observatories seem to us who like to combine sun even with science. And now shall we not say that these stations in the universe—where celestial laws are stamped on the very face of the heavens and the worlds in a type that is large and clear, compared with the small and cramped hieroglyphics from which our learned men, during so many centuries, have partially deciphered them here-are the stations of intellectual beings meant to read that writing as well as ourselves? May we not even say, looking to the probably simpler organic stage of these huge planets, their very short intervals of day and night—their lightness, indicating, perhaps, less complexity of material structure—and the slighter seasonal changes on some of them,--that probably the elements of universal knowledge and inductive reason are thus made more patent and legible to them because they have been provided with a scantier supply of those means by which, with us, Art has eked out and goaded on the slow movements of thought? Is it not a kind of testimony to the fact that the same universal laws are meant to be the common basis of thought for all the planetary brotherhood—that those planets whose organic structure may probably be less advanced, so that they can derive less help from artistic skill, have a magnified and clearer celestial chart to study, while those like ourselves, for whom that chart is complex and obscure, are thereby driven to explore and exhaust the resources of their own home? The organisms of Mars, the Earth, and the inferior planets, are possibly more fine and complex than those of the exterior; but the connecting intellectual order, or, so to speak, the celestial truths of universal application, are intended alike for all; and however the prior physical organization may differ, — at the point where the intellectual (and probably the moral) organization begins, an equal footing is provided for all, -Jupiter and Saturn, looking forth on a grander scale of phenomena, and being provided with special clues to their interpretation—while the planets more closely veiled in the solar light have perhaps had special facilities, in the higher stage of their organization, for assisting the baffled insight of pure understanding

with the artificial glasses of human skill. But however uncertain this suggestion of ours may be, that, notwithstanding varieties in the stage of organization, an equal level for universal intellectual thought is provided for all

the planetary worlds,-it suggests, we think, quite as good an explanation why they may be more nearly on a rational level after all, as Dr. Whewell can show why they cannot.

Finally, we must remark that Dr. Whewell has made very skilful use of the fact of God's vast expenditure of creative energy on inchoate and, as it seems, subsequently abandoned forms of life. For every acorn that grows, a thousand rot, he reminds us; for every ovum that ends in a fish, millions end in no fish; and so forth. Then why should it not be so also with worlds ? There must be a highest apex somewhere; why not here on the earth? Is there any irrationality in assuming that the Earth is the focus of creation, that Neptune is the frozen world-seed, that Jupiter is rotting with too much moisture, Venus and Mercury parched by too much heat? It is possible, certainly, but the presumption is infinitely against it. In all other cases, if the extinguished or inchoate existences are infinitely more numerous than the completed and perfect ones, still these latter also constitute an infinity of a lower order; and if the odds are great against an acorn becoming an oak, the odds are morally quite as great against any one oak's being the only survivor of the created species. If of "fifty seeds" Nature " only brings but one to bear," yet she provides an infinitude of “fifties," that no one may find itself alone. To suppose that no world has succeeded in attaining a moral organization but our own, is an assumption the vast improbability of which nothing but an exhaustive argument against the majority of the other numberless worlds we see, could warrant. Besides, this lavish expenditure of power is only true of physical life. God's moral providence seems as frugal as his physical providence is prodigal. True, Dr. Whewell may say, but these stars and planets are merely physical germs; and this may be true; yet knowing, as we do, that these are but "parts of his ways," and that even in these parts what He cares for most is our moral culture, it is no mere guess to assume that his activity elsewhere will be directed to the same end. If we know that a friend's conversation with us is always directed to one subject, we almost unconsciously assume that at other times and with other persons the same cause will operate. Yet Dr. Whewell, admitting that here God's energy is all directed to our spiritual discipline, supposes that throughout the infinite residue of his universe this object, so to say, escapes his attention, and is entirely passed over in his works. Surely this form of the argument from moral analogy is no uncertain one.


Geschichte Christus und seiner Zeit, von Heinrich Ewald. (The

History of Christ and his Time. By Henry Ewald.)

Göttingen. 1855. WE opened this work with high expectations. The world

wide fame of its author, as the first Orientalist of his day,—his profound insight into the genius of the Semitic or Syro-Arabian family of nations, and the thorough, comprehensive scholarship with which he has traced the history, the literature and the characteristic beliefs of the Israelitish people, from their first dim mythical rudiments through the subsequent stages of the national life, had led us to hope, that he would throw a fresh and a fuller light on the last and most mysterious term in this unparalleled series of mental and social developments. In some respects that hope has been fulfilled ; in still more we must confess ourselves disappointed. Our regret is the greater, because we hold that Ewald has approached the subject on the side which is indispensable to a true apprehension of its historical significance. Christianity, no doubt, is an idea as well as a fact; nor can it be fully understood till we disengage it from the conditions of time and place which mark and limit its historical genesis, and contemplate it from our own point of view—as a spiritual influence which has modified, age after age, and in every part of the earth, men's conception of their relations to the invisible and the infiniteas the expression of a trust and an aspiration, which are inseparable from our higher nature, and to which it has given new force and vividness by their embodiment in a holy and beautiful life, realizing the possibility of harmony between the Human and the Divine. Still, to possess a Christianity, we must be sure there was a Christ. In estimating the capacity and destination of humanity, a myth cannot have the same value as a fact; and to acquire a strong, clear conviction of the reality of the earthly life of Jesus, -to seize the actual fibres which attach it to a definite point in the living development of the ages,—we must penetrate the depths and grasp the fulness of that peculiar nationality out of which it emerged as the providential result, the consummate fruit, and the preordained dissolution. We have no sympathy with that resuscitated gnos. ticism, though sanctioned in the last generation by no less & name than that of Schleiermacher, which would divorce as widely as possible the Old Testament from the New; which looks on Christianity as an original and independent outburst of the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »