Published in 1863 | 421 pages | PDF reader required
When I want to part with a horse, I prefer selling him by auction, with all faults. If a friend buys him there, he ought not to blame me if he finds him very stiff the day after a run. With a book, however, it is different; and, that my brothers and sisters of the human race may not blame me for having allowed them to spend their money in buying, or their time in reading, this book, I state at once that it is materialistic, and that it has been carefully reviewed by one of the most amiable and orthodox Clergymen in England.
Materialism is a frightful word, something like Radicalism, Chartism, or Republicanism in politics; yet, somehow, whenever a party wants to get into place, or a candidate to get into Parliament, he or they carefully lock up all absolutist ideas, and are profuse in pledges of Reform—becoming, in fact, for the time, Radicals, Chartists, and Republicans, with the most positive pledges that they will carry out those principles as far as the welfare of the nation allows—under which saving clause, as soon as they are firmly in the saddle, they tighten the curb, and ride the horse after their own ideas.
So with Materialism; to me it seems an abstract philosophical question, whether or no a quality can exist apart from an element—that is all; whether or no you can divide the power of attraction from the magnet, and say here is the magnet, and here, apart from it, is the power of attraction—or can you divide a mince pie from its taste, so that you can taste the pie without eating any of it? Can music exist, and be heard, without any instrument or material cause creating the sound? Can nothing at all be of any colour or weight?
I do not know if I am right in interfering with critics and reviewers; and, so to say, taking the dissecting knife out of their literary surgical hands. Still, I hope they will excuse me in this instance, as I am only publishing the most unfavourable view of the work.
My reverend friend commences by the following paragraph, to a very intimate friend of mine, who sent him the proof sheets, with the request that he would review the work carefully.
"As I see an old sixpenny stamp on it, I shall put a similar one on again." The author having addressed his work to you, is the sole cause of "my allowing its perusal to be worth sixpence."
I bow to the estimation.
"Not but that, if style is separated from matter, there is something pointed, and clever, and humorous about it."
To this personal compliment, I make a profound salaam.
"But, as you must be sensible, it is very un-equal; and altogether a strange mélange."
I confirm this remark most emphatically.
"There is no new light thrown upon any subject."
Again I bow.
"Though I think him quite right about the Americans."
Well but, my dear sir, a good and correct view of the American question, alone, is worth Sixpence.
"The Materialism of his views offers nothing new."
I am very glad to hear it, for I was afraid I had gone too far.
"Materialism is only consistent with Atheism."
I deny that in toto—it is a calumny. In the words, "Thou great First Cause, least understood," the question whether that Cause has any be a pattern of toleration of the belief of other persons.
As to the history of Mary Jane, it was written subsequently to the review of my reverend friend, so I have not had the advantage of his comments. However, the facts are all true, whatever my deductions from them may be; and I have taken
pains to show scientific men how they may investigate the subject—in order that a question which has tormented the world, by its obscurity, for some thousands of years, may be turned by science to the benefit of mankind.
I must also remark that the whole of the work was written and printed, and ready for the binder, before I had the slightest knowledge on the subject of Spiritualism or Odylic vapour, as my original article on belief proves; but, if my present views on this subject are correct, all that I have written on Light, Instinct, Intellect, Spontaneous Generation, the Principles of Human Intellect, and other analogous subjects, would require to be remodelled; as the consideration of every subject touching or relating to the production, nature, and progressive changes of organic life, of all descriptions, and of instinct and progressive intellect, must be influenced, or, rather must take a new track, by the indubitable certainty that there issues from the human body, totally unconsciously, a vapour, combining power, thought, and the power of expressing that thought,—and, by the strongest chain of circumstantial reasoning, analogous vapours exude from every particle of organic creation; nor do I think that this description comprehends the whole of this vast subject.
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