Page images
PDF
EPUB

the allegation that they are compelled “ to vious and increasing disposition to imitate live wholly upon rice." Dr. Heher ob- the English in every thing, which has already serves :

led to very remarkable changes, and will “ The caste of fishermen does not rank probably, to still more important. The high, though fish is considered as one of the wealthy natives now all affect to have their purest and most lawful kinds of food. No- houses decorated with Corinthian pillars, and thing, indeed, seems more generally mistaken filled with English furniture; they drive the than the supposed prohibition of animal food best horses apd the most dashing carriages to the Hindoos. It is not from any abstract in Calcutta ; many of them speak English desire to spare the life of living creatures, fuently, and are tolerably read in English since fish would be a violation of this prin- literature ; and the children of one of our ciple as well as beef, but from other notions friends I saw one day dressed in jackets and of the ballowed or polluted nature of par- trousers, with round hats, shoes and stockticular viands. Thus many Brahmins eatings. In the Bengalee newspapers, of which both fish and kid. The Rajepoots, besides there are two or three, politics are canvassed these, eat mutton, venison, or goat's flesh. with a bias, as I am told, inclining to WhigSome castes may eat any thing but fowls, gism; and one of their leading men gave a beef, or pork, while pork is with others a great dinner, not long since, in honour of favourite diet, and beef only is prohibited.” the Spanish revolution-among the lower -Journal, vol. i. p. 7.

orders the same feeling shows itself more “We have all heard of the humanity of beneficially in a growing neglect of caste."the Hindoos towards brute creatures, their Vol. ii. p. 306. horror of animal food, &c.; and you may “ To say that the Hindoos or Mussulmans be perhaps as much surprised as I was, to are deficient in any essential feature of a find that those who can afford it are harilly civilized people, is an assertion which I can less carnivorous than ourselves; that even scarcely suppose to be made by any who the purest Brahmins eat mutton and venison; have lived with them; their manners are, at that fish is permitted to many castes, and least, as pleasing and courteous as those in pork to many others."—Volii.

p. 306. the corresponding stations of life among “I had always beard and fully believed ourselves; their houses are larger, and, actill I came to India, that it was a grievous cording to their wants and climate, to the crime, in the opinion of the Brahmins, to full as convenient as ours ;-their architeceat the flesh or shed the blood of any living ture is at least as elegant;-nor is it true creature wbatever. I have myself seen that in the inechanic arts, they are inferior Brahmins of the highest caste cut off the to the general run of European nations. head of goats as a sacrifice to doorga; and Where they fall short of us (which is chiefly I know from the testimony of Brahimins, as in agricultural implements, and the mechawell as from other sources, that not only pics of common life), they are not, so far as hecatombs of animals are often offered in I have understood of Italy, and the South this manner, as a most meritorious act; (a of France, surpassed in any degree by the raja, about twenty-five years back, offered people of those countries. Their goldsmiths sixty thousand in one fortnight); but that and weavers procluce as beautiful fabrics as any person, Brahmins not excepted, eats our own ; and it is so far from true that they readily of the flesh of whatever has been are obstinately wedded to their old patterns, offered up to one of their divinities, while that they show an anxiety to imitate our among almost all the other castes, mutton, models, and do imitate them very successpork, venison, fish, any thing but beef and fully. The ships built by native artists at fowls, are consunied as readily as in Europe.” Bombay are notoriouslyas good as any which Vol. ii. p. 379.

sail from London or Liverpool. The carLet the reader next compare the following riages and gigs which they supply at Calcutta paragraphs with the statements as to the are as handsome, though not as durable, as alleged immutability of Hindoo habits; as those of Long Acre. In the little town of to their being doomed to go " half-covered Mongbyr, three hundred miles from Calwith a slight cotton cloth ;” and as to their cutta, I had pistols, double barrelled guns, demand for European articles being confined, and different pieces of cabinet work, brought as was stated by Sir Thomas Monro, in his down to my boat for sale, which in outward evidence before the House of Commons, to a form (for 1 know no further) nobody but “ few peoknives, scissars, and spectacles." perhaps Mr.

could detect to be of “ Nor have the religious prejudices, and Hindoo origin; and at Delhi, in the shop of the unchangeableness of the Hindoo habits, a wealthy native jeweller, I found brooches, beep less exaggerated. Some of the best ear-rings, snuff-boxes, &c. of the latest moinformed of their nation, with whom I have dels (so far as I am a judge), and ornaconversed, assure - me, that half their most mented with French devices and mottos."remarkable customs of civil and domestic Vol. ii. p. 382. life are borrowed from their Mahommedan As Bishop Heber penetrated into the in conquerors; and at present there is an ob- terior of India, he found the same taste as

[graphic]

chosis, and the chances of Democritus, and, after the cessation of motion, they again beby vulgar induction, end in atheism. With- gan to move, but if allowed to remain dry out the dignity of that system of which Epi- for a short time, they never recovered the curus, Lucretius, Pliny, and Lucian were faculty of locomotion.” He also observed, disciples, they fall into the materialism of that “whenever they adhered to the sides of Leibnitz, who considers “ each monad or the glass, they exhibited every appearance of atom possessed of perception and appetite. vegetable life.”* This appetency produces an internal princi The same experimenter macerated a leaf ple of alteration-hence the sympathies and of the horse-chesnut, and “ as soon as the affinities, the combinations, and the forms particles became detached from the margin of bodies."

of the leaf, they were seen to put themselves The Epicurean theory, although it deemed in motion;" thus showing that when the tismatter eternal and insensate, and that its sue of plants is decomposed in water, its particles, by jostling for ever, had at length component organic parts possess independent adbered in masses, ultimately forming the life, and spontaneous motion. world itself, inhabited by animals, and clothed Another example, though not included in with vegetation; yet, it taught that it was those mentioned by Dr. Edwards, is still operated upon by an immaterial divinity, and more surprising, as it would suggest that the that life was imparted by a divine invisible degree of heat which destroys life in visible power, who ruled over all.

objects, had the effect, while life was in its In later times, Sir Isaac Newton built a invisible state, to aid in its development. noble superstructure upon the principle as- “ A potatoe was boiled in water until it beserted in the Mosaic account of the creation came of a mealy consistence. It was closely

that all things were made by an omni- covered in a glass vessel, and a drop of the potent, immaterial, intelligent being ; that he water was examined twenty-four hours after, established those immutable laws by which when it exhibited innumerable animalcules the universe is regulated and governed ; and in great activity.” that he imparted animation to creatures by From these examples, they conclude that bestowing upon them the breath of life. sensation and voluntary motion reside in

But Dr. H. M. Edwards, an English phy- matter; that however minutely the parts are sician in Paris, and Dumas, Dutrochet, Pre- dissociated, they still possess a principle of vost, and others, have ascertained to their vitality; " that death does not destroy their own satisfaction, by some elaborate disco- susceptibility; and that life and matter are veries with the microscope, that the ele- coexistent, and from everlasting to everlastmentary, organic, constituent parts of animal ing." and vegetable bodies, inherently and inde These data, and the inferences deduced pendently possess the vital principle; that from them, being at variance with those visispirit of life, which has hitherto been veiled ble facts, and those unerring, invariably rein mystery. Edwards describes the animal curring rules called the laws of nature, an inbody as “ built of animalcules, as a pyramid quiry respecting them is justified. is built of bricks," being a congeries of I. Whether there is not a fallacy in those countless millions of organized units, "each appearances which are assumed as first princapable of living in a separate state, and per- ciples ? haps exercising the functions of individual II. Whether life exists in brute matter? life, while incorporated in one being. He And teaches that these monads or globules, being III. Whether inert matter, or particles of the one-8000th part of an inch in diameter, specifically animal or vegetable, can spring by one arrangement form the various tissues to life, in natures remote from, and opposite and fibres of the animal structure; and by to, their own origin? another arrangement, spring up in the glowing colours and varieties of vegetable life, I. Is there not a fallacy in those appearand that when death passes upon them, and

ances which are assumed 'as first princidecomposition separates the parts, elements

ples. which were before parts of some animal, be Microscopic discoveries are peculiarly licome vegetables, or if it so may chance, able to error. They require great acuteness vegetable atoms awake to life as animals. and accuracy of sight, and the contradictory

These inferences rest on the following ex- conclusions made by the most exact obperiments.

servers with the microscope, render it of Dr. Edwards examined a piece of animal doubtful validity. As it would be unfortusubstance macerated in water, and immedi- nate to build a principle in physiology upon ately perceived a number of white vesicles an optical illusion, those appearances which moving about with great rapidity. These he have been adduced should be received with considered to be animalcules of the tribe great caution, because, if the first point is monades. He observed that these monads wrong, every succeeding step must be errolost all power of motion when the water evaporated. “ If water were added immediately * Westminster Review, No. XIII, Jan. 1827.

[graphic]

agency, can separate them, or destroy that they with each other, until this admixture life ; and there appears no other alternative of fortuitous materials becomes a living but to presume it to be still existing invisible being ; that gradually “ a complete animal among those ærial vapours to which it was is developed, the root of the hair assuming driven by this mode of analysis, waiting for the shape and character of the head, with some casual chance to be united to a new eyes and mouth.". It is not difficult to conshape, and enabled to pursue some new career ceive that a hair, by being placed in water, of being.

an element where millions of ephemera ocFrom these premises the conclusion is casionally reside, should be covered with irresistible, that after experiencing the them so as to make an entire surface, and changes of death and decomposition, mate- that from its elasticity their motions should rial atoms, possessing inherent vitality, are impart sinuosity through its whole length, and transformed into some unknown shape of that it should be found writhing and turning moving life, which establishes the doctrine of like an organized, animated being, although the metempsychosis without qualification. no more endowed with animal life than the Those who affirm that when a living being limb of a tree, which sways backward or dies, it only changes its form, will casily be forward, in compliance with the impulse of lieve that men may arise unseen from their a boy upon its branches. But for a mass so sepulchres to people the fields and forests ;* heterogeneous, and so far removed from all or, indulging the poetry of feeling, they may the habits and laws which are invariable confancy their departed friends returning among comitants of animal life in every known inthem as singing birds or blooming flowers, stance, to obtain a head to guide its voluntary or as waving trees overshadowing their motions; a mouth whereby to receive its dwellings. t

sustenance; itself affording aliment to a But our later philosophers are not as congeries of insects, creatures of a distinct courteous as Pythagoras and Ovid, nor as and separate genus; to become identified pious as Plato and Epicurus. They make with them, and spring to independent existus descend to the most degraded state, and ence, and be itself the individual in which from the decomposing remains of our animal they lose their identity; is too monstrous nature they see clouds of loathsome insects and absurd to admit of belief. It is confloating on the air, winged with pestilence founding the distinctions which divide and death. They do not indulge in the fine animals from each other, and from brute imaginings of those heathen; the former of matter, to affirm, that an integral part of a whom maintained that the spirits of human quadruped, having been reduced to utter inbeings who led virtuous lives were changed ertness, should revivify itself, acquiring a into seraphs, fairies, and heroes; trees, head with its curious and complex organizaflowers, and fountains : or with the latter, tion to control its movements, and from the that the gift of life was bestowed by a divine identity of a land animal to become a water almighty power; or with Plato, that it remi- serpent. If it be possible for one quadruped grates to the divinity from whence it ori- to produce snakes, another may; and, if ginated, after leaving its transitory abode in snakes, why not other and more monstrous this world.

forms of existence ? In assuming that “ life and matter are Pursuing the analogy, why are not cemecoexistent,"'identified, indivisible, and eternal, teries and fields of battle overgrown with it is also asserted, “ that it is perpetually night-shade and hellebore, and peopled with liring, dying, reviving, and recombining in gorgons and hydras ? But it is argued that new shapes and modes of existence.”: If a butterfly arising from a worm is analagous so, then is not the boast of the atheist esta to the presumed metamorphosis of the gorblished, and accountability and moral obliga- dius aquaticus. The example is not a parallel tion destroyed ?

The butterfly preserves its identity Based upon this hypothesis is the theory through all its changes : it is the same speof the Gordius Aquaticus, or horse hair cific and entire being ; and its race is consnake; and as this is the boldest example, in tinued subject to the same invariable laws. illustration of this system of physiology, it It is not a casual association of atoms, at one is selected as a test for the

time part of a horse, at another, part of a Third inquiry-Whether inert particles of the side of a piece of tortoise shell, or other

serpent. If the chrysalis were attached to matter spring to life in forms and natures substance similar to hair, and on bursting its remote from, and opposite to, their own cerements, the shell should become its head previous state of existence ?

or its painted wings, then the case would be It is imagined that myriads of monads parallel to the horse-hair snake. congregate upon a hair immersed in water; It is further stated, as will be kept in mind, that having in itself a vital principle, it assi- that vegetables after death arise with the milates with these extraneous visitants, and locomotion of animals. Also that the monads

of animal remains revive in vegetables, or ** Pythagoras. + Ovid. Mason Good. animals, as chances occur. The atoms of a

Vol. I.

one.

« PreviousContinue »