Page:Experimental researches in chemistry and.djvu/504

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1855.]
489
On Mental Education.

of art, science, and economy: it replaces even the mind of the human being in some of its lower services; for a little camphine lamp is set down and left to itself, to perform the duty of watching the changes of magnetism, heat, and other forces of nature, and to record the results, in pictorial curves, which supply an enduring record of their most transitory actions.

What has clairvoyance, or mesmerism, or table-rapping done in comparison with results like these? What have the snails at Paris told us from the snails at New York? What have any of these intelligences done in aiding such developments? Why did they not inform us of the possibility of photography? or when that became known, why did they not favour us with some instructions for its improvement? They all profess to deal with agencies far more exalted in character than an electric current or a ray of light: they also deal with mechanical forces; they employ both the bodily organs and the mental; they profess to lift a table, to turn a hat, to see into a box, or into the next room, or a town:—why should they not move a balance, and so give us the element of a new mechanical power? take cognizance of a bottle and its contents, and tell us how they will act upon those of a neighbouring bottle? either see or feel into a crystal, and inform us of what it is composed? Why have they not added one metal to the fifty known to mankind, or one planet to the number daily increasing under the observant eye of the astronomer? Why have they not corrected one of the mistakes of the philosophers? There are no doubt very many that require it. There has been plenty of time for the development and maturation of some of the numerous public pretences that have risen up in connexion with these supposed agencies; how is it that not one new power has been added to the means of investigation employed by the philosophers, or one valuable utilitarian application presented to society?

In conclusion, I will freely acknowledge that all I have said regarding the great want of judgment manifested by society as a body, and the high value of any means which would tend to supply the deficiency, have been developed and declared on numerous occasions, by authority far above any I possess. The deficiency is known hypothetically, but I doubt if in reality; the individual acknowledges the state in respect of others, but is unconscious of it in regard to himself. As to the world at large, the condition is accepted as a necessary fact; and so it