Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/425

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413
LITERARY NOTICES.

hunted down for his heresies, and Professor Robertson Smith has been very recently dismissed from the professorship of Hebrew, in the Free College of Aberdeen, for the same cause.

In further illustration of this religious hostility to independent thought, it may be stated that the author of the book before us contributed in 1873, to "Scribner's Monthly," a series of papers entitled "Modern Skepticism," which were simply a bold and forcible statement of the present drifts of liberal inquiry regarding theological matters. The periodical was widely and vehemently denounced for printing such discussions, and there were public demands made for a new editorship on penalty of the withdrawal of patronage. Dr. Holland resisted the bigoted crusade, and after a year or two another paper was forwarded to him by Mr. Blauvelt, in continuation of the argument. In reply, Dr. Holland wrote: "Your last article was received, and I have read it to-day. At the conclusion of its perusal, I find myself called upon to make the most important decision that has ever come to me for its making, since I became an editor. I must be frank with you. I believe you are right. I should like to speak your words to the world; but, if I do speak these, it will j pretty certainly cost me my connection with the magazine."

So much for freedom of religious thought—American freedom of religious thought—Protestant freedom of religious thought, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century of Christianity! Of course, Mr. Blauvelt himself did not escape the penalties of applying the scientific method to theology. We do not notice the statement in his volume, but if any one will turn to "The Popular Science Monthly," for August, 1877, he will see that the reverend heretic was stripped of his office, turned out of the church, and branded as a "betrayer of his Master." It was a little too late to burn him, but is not that about as far as Christian toleration has yet "progressed"? One thing is evident: if Mr. Blauvelt had been a little more dishonest, had played fast and loose with his conscience, and had not been so anxious about the truth, he could have spent all his days in pious comfort in the bosom of the Church. Ever, and in the nature of things, repression of thought is a bid for hypocrisy.

Egyptian Obelisks. By Henry H. Gorringe. Published by the Author, 32 Waverley Place, New York. Pp. 187, with 41 Plates.

The propriety of regarding as a great achievement the removal of a noble object of the oldest civilization from the place where it has rested for ages, to adorn a modern pleasure-ground among surroundings as different as possible from those among which it has stood, has been criticised by admirers of the antique. The fact that the English, French, Germans, and Italians have also taken obelisks from Egypt may show that they are not innocent, but can not excuse us if the act is, as some believe, a kind of vandalism. The criticisms can not, however, be applied justly to those who removed the obelisk in Central Park, for they did not take it from before the temple at Heliopolis, where Thothmes II set it up, but from the place to which others before them had removed it from there. The offense of removal, if it was an offense, was committed by the Romans nineteen hundred years ago; and they may have been guiltless of actual sin, for they probably found the obelisk already thrown upon the ground. Americans have been guilty of no "despoilment," or removal from among "antique surroundings"; for the most prominent surroundings which Commander Gorringe found about the obelisk at Alexandria "were a railway depot, a new apartment-house, and an Arab fort," and it would have inevitably been destroyed if he had not taken it away. In other respects, a feeling of disgust was aroused by the surroundings, and "something more than curiosity was needed to induce one to approach near enough and remain long enough to examine and appreciate it." The removal of the monument from such a situation as Commander Gorringe describes to one that is fully worthy of it, though un-Egyptian, should be considered an act deserving as much praise as the tact, ingenuity, and engineering skill that were displayed in effecting it with complete success. Readers of the present work will find abundant opportunity to admire these qualities as displayed