of consciousness enter as links in the chain of antecedence and sequence which give rise to bodily actions and to other states of consciousness; or are they merely by-products, which are not essential to the physical processes going on in the brain? Now, it is perfectly certain that we have no power of imagining states of consciousness interposed between the molecules of the brain, and influencing the transference of motion among the molecules. The thought "eludes all mental presentation;" and hence the logic seems of iron strength which claims for the brain an automatic action, uninfluenced by states of consciousness. But it is, I believe, admitted by those who hold the automaton-theory that states of consciousness are produced by the marshaling of the molecules of the brain; and this production of consciousness by molecular motion is certainly quite as unthinkable as the production of molecular motion by consciousness. If, therefore, unthinkability be the proper test, we must equally reject both classes of phenomena. I, for my part, reject neither, and thus stand in the presence of two Incomprehensibles, instead of one Incomprehensible. While accepting fearlessly the facts of materialism dwelt upon in these pages, I bow my head in the dust before that mystery of the brain which has hitherto defied its own penetrative power, and which may ultimately resolve itself into a demonstrable impossibility of self-penetration.
But, whatever be the fate of theory, the practical monitions are plain enough, which declare that on our dealings with matter depends our weal or woe, physical and moral. The state of mind which rebels against the recognition of the claims of "materialism" is not unknown to me. I can remember a time when I regarded my body as a weed, so much more highly did I prize the conscious strength and pleasure derived from moral and religious feeling, which, I may add, was mine without the intervention of dogma. The error was not an ignoble one, but this did not save it from the penalty attached to error. Saner knowledge taught me that the body is no weed, and that if it were treated as such it would infallibly avenge itself. Am I personally lowered by this change of front? Not so. Give me their health, and there is no spiritual experience of those earlier years—no resolve of duty, or work of mercy, no act of self-denial, no solemnity of thought, no joy in the life and aspects of Nature, that would not still be mine. And this without the least reference or regard to any purely personal reward or punishment looming in the future.As I close these remarks, the latest melancholy wail of the Bishop of Peterborough reaches my ears. Notwithstanding all their "expansiveness," both he and his brother of Manchester appear, alas! to know as little of the things which belong to our peace as that wild ritualist who, a day or two ago, raised the cry of "excommunicated heretic!" against the Bishop of Natal. Happily we have among us
- See Tyndall's "Fragments of Science," article "Scientific Materialism."