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thought he belonged. His literary reputation was chiefly due to his translation of Tasso's ' Jerusalem Delivered,' published in 1724. He was perpetual secretary of the French Academy from 1742 until his death. There is an account of him by D'Alembert in the first volume of the 'Histoire des membres de l'Académie française.'
Von Holbach was at least the chief author of the ‘System of Nature.' He was a diligent and ready writer, and must have done some good service by his French translations of German scientific works. The anti-religious publications of which he was in whole or in part the author are very numerous. Most of them were published by Michael Rey of Amsterdam. They all appeared either without name or under false names. A list of them is given in Barbier's · Dictionary of Anony. mous Works.
Lange's account of the 'System of Nature'is elaborate and laudatory. Mr Morley's, in his ‘Diderot,' is of a very similar character. N. S. Bergier's 'Examen du Matérialisme,' 2 tom., 1771, is a good refutation.
Note XIV., page 101.
ENGLISH MATERIALISM IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE
Dr Erasmus Darwin's 'Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life,' 2 vols., does not strictly fall to be mentioned here, as it was published in 1794-96 ; but, along with the *Botanic Garden' and 'Phytologia,' it did much to keep materialism in existence during the earlier part of the century. Its fundamental idea was that vegetables and animals originated in living filaments, susceptible of irritation. Irritability develops, so argued Dr Darwin, into sensibility, and sensibility into perception, memory, and reason. The theory was annihilated by Dr Thomas Brown in his 'Observations on the Zoonomia,' Edinb., 1798.
Dr Erasmus Darwin was very famous in his day, although he never attained, of course, the height of reputation which has been reached by his grandson, Dr Charles Darwin. His mind was in many respects similar in character, the chief difference being that his fancy was even more fertile and bold, and that he was less patient and methodical in the investigation of facts. Regarding him see the following work,—' Erasmus Darwin, by Ernst Krause, tr. by W. S. Dallas. With a Preliminary Notice by Charles Darwin : 1879. Also Dr J. H. Stirling's 'Darwinianism,' 1894.
The ' Essay on the Origin and Prospects of Man' (3 vols., 1831), by Mr Thomas Hope, is an almost unreadable production. Its sentences often defy alike logical and grammatical analysis. How the author of 'Anastasius' could have written in so trailing, involved, and obscure a fashion is a mystery. The existence of God as the inconceivable primary cause, from which all other causes and effects proceed by way of radiation, emanation, or evolution, is affirmed; but, if there be some theism or pantheism in this, the work otherwise seems to be thoroughly materialistic. A single sentence will, perhaps, be a sufficient specimen both of its style and of its science. In answer to the fundamental question, “On what depends, between the bodies merely inorganic and lifeless and the bodies organic and living, the difference which leaves in the former a total absence of organisation, life, and growth, and to the latter first gives the possession of these new attributes ?” Mr Hope writes thus : “It only depends on this, that in the former bodies, when their first molecules, from opposite sides driven together and meeting, are made to consolidate and cohere sufficiently to have of the new substances still fluid that enter and penetrate between them, by the pressure of electricity of a combining sort and of cold from without, and by the resistance or counter-pressure of the former solids from within, a portion again stopped, condensed, congealed, and made to combine and consolidate, of these new substances from without, during their consolidation the pressure on the former ones within already consolidated, so exceeds in these former ones from within their elasticity or power to yield to that pressure of these outer ones, without being by it broken, dispersed, and decombined, as not to be able themselves to remain solid and cohering, while these new ones are added to them ;—as we see in stones which when humidity driven is there by combining electricity and cold congealed, it soon makes them burst and themselves again decombine; whereas in the latter bodies, when of the new fluids driven in them a portion is stopped, congealed, consolidated and made to cohere together, the extension which these new fluids experience in being consolidated in crystalline forms, disperses not by its pressure the former solids, nor decombines these entirely, but, by the elasticity these possess, only makes them also in their turn extend, till by their extension they again exert over the new ones consolidating a counter-pressure, sufficient to make these also cohere even with themselves, and thus gradually increase the general mass of substances solid and cohering, in so doing, make it exhibit the phenomena called of life and growth.”—Vol. ii. pp. 35, 36.
Shortly after the book appeared, Mr Carlyle justly described it as “a monstrous Anomaly, where all sciences are heaped and huddled together, and the principles of all are, with a childlike innocence, plied hither and thither, or wholly abolished in case of need; where the First Cause is figured as a huge Circle, with nothing to do but radiate “gravitation' towards its centre; and so construct a Universe, wherein all, from the lowest cucumber with its coolness, up to the highest seraph with his love, were but 'gravitation, direct or reflex, in more or less central globes;'” “a general agglomerate of all facts, notions, whims, and observations, as they lie in the brain of an English gentleman : all these thrown into the crucible, and if not fused, yet soldered or conglutinated with boundless patience; and now tumbled out here, heterogeneous, amorphous, unspeakable, a world's wonder."
Mr Hope's work is frequently referred to, and occasionally quoted, in the Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation' (1844), published anonymously, but now acknowledged to be written by the late Dr R. Chambers. The existence of a personal Deity is distinctly recognised in this latter work, but all the forms of life and mind are taught to have been necessarily evolved from primary nebulous matter. The theory which it expounds is substantially the theory of evolution at present prevalent. It was criticised by Sir D. Brewster in the 'North British Review,'No. 3; by Prof. Dod in an elaborate article which was republished in the second series of the ‘Princeton Theological Essays;' by Mr Hugh Miller in ‘Footprints of the Creator;' by Prof. Sedgwick in the ‘Edinburgh Review,' No. 82; and by Dr Whewell in ‘Indications of a Creator,' &c. It is, perhaps, worth noting that Karl Vogt translated the “Vestiges' into German in 1847.
In volumes i. and ii. of the Oracle of Reason,' published in 1842 and 1843, there is a series of forty-eight papers on “The Theory of Regular Gradation,” in which it is maintained that “all the facts which form the sciences tend to the conclusion that the inherent properties of dull matter,' as some bright portions of it have designated it, are good and sufficient to produce all the varied, complicated, and beautiful phenomena of the universe ;” that “matter can make men and women, and every other natural phenomenon—unassisted, undirected, and uncontrolled.” In these papers atheism is openly avowed. Their author was a Mr William Chilton.
In Prof. J. S. Blackie's 'Natural History of Atheism, pp. 221-247, the materialistic and atheistic views of Mr Atkinson and Miss Martineau are stated and criticised.
Andrew Jackson Davis, the Poughkeepsie seer, expounded in his 'Principles of Nature and her Revelations,' 2 vols., the doctrine that all matter is gradually advancing under the influence of an Organiser towards a spiritual state, and that souls have been generated from matter until they became substantive existences which will survive the death of the body, and pass from lower to higher stages of being, according to eternal laws of progression.
Many so-called spiritualists are materialists, and even atheists, teaching that all things originate in nature, and are governed by physical necessity. Materialism, although incompatible with theism and rational religion, is quite consistent with mythology and superstition.