Page:The Idea of Progress.djvu/18

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14
THE IDEA

to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form. If it is progress to turn the fields and woods of Essex into East and West Ham, we may be thankful that progress is a sporadic and transient phenomenon in history. It is a pity that our biologists, instead of singing paens to Progress and thereby stultifying their own speculations, have not preached us sermons on the sin of racial self-idolatry, a topic which really does arise out of their studies. L'anthropolatrie, voilà l'ennemi, is the real ethical motto of biological science, and a valuable contribution to morals.

It was impossible that such shallow optimism as that of Herbert Spencer should not arouse protests from other scientific thinkers. Hartmann had already shown how a system of pessimism, resembling that Schopenhauer, may be built upon the foundation of evolutionary science. And in this place we are not likely to forget the second Romanes Lecture, when Professor Huxley astonished his friends and opponents alike by throwing down the gauntlet in the face of Nature, and bidding mankind to find salvation by accepting for itself the position which the early Christian writer Hippolytus gives as a definition of the Devil—'he who resists the cosmic process' (ὁ ἀντιτάττων τοῖς κοσμικοῖς.) The revolt was not in reality so sudden as some of Huxley’s hearers supposed. He had already realized that 'so far from gradual progress forming any necessary part of the Darwinian creed, it appears to us that it is perfectly consistent with indefinite persistence in one state, or with a gradual retrogression. Suppose, e.g., a return of the glacial period or a spread of polar climatical conditions over the whole globe.' The alliance between determinism and optimism was thus dissolved; and as time went on, Huxley began to see in