Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

than a million sterling before the account is closed. Of these twenty millions of money, at least fifteen millions have become a permanent part of the Indian debt. For a few years, it is true, the surplus revenue of Lower Burmah has probably sufficed to pay off the interest on this debt, but that surplus will now be converted into a chronic deficit by the demands of our newly acquired territory. Accordingly, the first result of this war will be an addition of 700,000l. annually to the charges upon the Indian revenue. For the rest, all that we have obtained is the formidable danger of having China as our immediate neighbour. Lord Dalhousie was not a statesman remarkable for prudence or foresight, but even he, after the second Burmese war, sbrank from a policy which would cause the British frontier to run for four hundred miles along with that of China. But the certainty, at no distant date, of a conflict with China is not the most serious evil likely to result from the conquest of Upper Burmah. Far more serious are the distrust and apprehension which this open violation of the policy solemnly proclaimed in the Royal Proclamation of 1858 must of necessity engender in the minds of the peoples and the feudatories of India. This distrust and apprehension will not fail to extend to our precious ally, the Ameer of Afghanistan, and the people whom he rules. In the doom of King Theebaw and his people they will read the fate that is destined for themselves.

Anticipations of this kind lead inevitably to their own fulfilment. The process is the same though now it may be exercised upon a Shere Ali, now upon a King Theebaw, and now upon an Abd-al-Rahman Khan. The independence of a people is menaced by us, or circumstances happen which create the belief that it is so menaced. Then, in order to escape this impending fate, the menaced people try to form covert alliances with some other European Power, and the presumption and treachery of such a procedure are instantly considered by us as a sufficient reason for sending an army among them, and destroying their independence. The absolute certainty that we shall act towards the Afghans as we have done to the people of Upper Burmah, is the reason why I regard with dismay the enormous expenditure upon military works in the Pisheen Valley. To the English public these works are represented as defensive in their character. They are nothing of the kind. As soon as the entrenched camp is completed and securely linked to India by the most costly railway in the world, upon one pretext or another a forward dash will be made upon Kandahar, and the millions expended in the construction of the entrenched camp might as well have been flung into the sea. It is the conquest and occupation of all Afghanistan for which our Indian officials are now engaged in making preparations, not, as they profess, for the defence of British India. And whether we in this country choose to believe this or not, we may rest assured that no other interpretation will be put upon our proceedings by the Ameer and his subjects. The annexation

of Upper Burmah will satisfy every Afghan that there is no dependence to be placed upon our professions of moderation—our bland protestations of respect for his independence. So long as Colonel Ridgway's Boundary Commission remains on the frontier, the Ameer will probably dissimulate his feelings, but their removal will too probably be the signal for resuming secret but cordial relations with his old friends and protectors, the Russians in Central Asia.

Therefore it is that, vast as is our present military expenditure in India, it is only the prelude of an expenditure a great deal heavier. We stand upon the brink of a financial catastrophe from which nothing can save us except a resolute reversal of the policy of annexation which has brought us into this perilous position. There is no more reason why the people of India should be burdened with the costs and responsibility of maintaining the province of Burmah than of Ceylon or the Cape of Good Hope. Burmah is not a part of India. Its people differ from the people of India in language, in religion, in appearance, in manners and habits. There is no similarity between the political and social institutions of the two countries; and the people of India, either now or at any future period, can be in no way advantaged by our occupation of Upper Burmah. Clearly, then, it seems to me that the demand that it should be detached from India and made into a Crown colony dependent upon its own resources, is an eminently just and prudent one, and would, among other good consequences, result in this, that our relations with China along the new frontier would be transferred from the fire-eaters of Calcutta to the wiser and more peaceable guardianship of a British Parliament.

JOHN SLAGG.

THE CASE OF GALILEO.

The world has heard a great deal of Galileo. He has figured very conspicuously in controversial literature for more than two centuries. Critics unfriendly to the Catholic Church point to him as a martyr of science, a victim of spiritual tyranny; they quote his case as a specimen of the Church's hostility to science, and as proof conclusive of the fallibility both of Church and Pope. Catholics, on the other hand, say, and not without reason, that for his treatment, such as it was, Galileo had himself very largely to blame; they say that he was proud, arrogant, and overbearing, that not content with science which was his province, he was perpetually meddling in theology which was not, and that this meddling was the real cause why somewhat severe measures were taken against him—for which measures, however, neither the Pope in his official capacity, nor the Church in any sense, was responsible. But now for the first time the hero of this protracted controversy is introduced by Mr. Mivart in a capacity altogether new—that is, as affording an argument for the undoubted orthodoxy of evolution. How far this argument serves its purpose, how far it tends to confirm Mr. Mivart's position, it is my present purpose to consider.

In the Irish Ecclesiastical Record for December 1884 I wrote a criticism of Mr. Mivart's theory. I said very little of the general theory of evolution, my object being to consider the theological aspect of the theory as applied to man. To this special aspect of the question my attention was called by a controversy between Mr. Huxley and Mr. Mivart, originating with an article by the former gentleman in the Contemporary Review for November 1871. In that article Mr. Huxley raised somewhat serious difficulties, and suggested difficulties more serious still against the harmony said by Mr. Mivart to exist between evolution and theology. I read Mr. Mivart's reply in the concluding chapter of his Lessons from Nature, and though my sympathies were entirely with him, I was forced to admit that he did not remove the difficulties suggested by his opponent. From those distinguished scientists, whose theological knowledge did not impress me very favourably, I turned to the Catholic theologians themselves to find what they taught with reference to the question in dispute, and the conviction very soon forced itself upon me that, whatever may be said of evolution as applied to lower

organisms, the whole weight of Catholic theological teaching was opposed to the application of the evolution theory to man. To this conviction I gave expression in the Ecclesiastical Record, and I did so in language studiously mild and courteous, in a manner of which Mr. Mivart bas nothing to complain except that I expressed very decidedly my dissent from his assertion of the complete orthodoxy of evolution as applied to man. Now surely a champion of intellectual freedom' ought not to deny to another the liberty which he claims for himself; he ought to regard it as a pardonable transgression on my part that I should form an opinion for myself, and express it calmly and temperately, even though that opinion happened not to harmonise with his own. But Mr. Mivart is not disposed to be thus tolerant. He is clearly impatient of contradiction, and this is not a philosophic state of mind. In his essay in this Review for July last, as well as in letters previously addressed to the Tablet, Mr. Mivart has written with considerable bitterness—indeed in a tone of lofty disdain—of me for venturing to question the correctness of his conclusions. I am, it appears, one of the ever-recurring band of obstructives who always turn out to have been in the wrong' (p. 35). I am the heir to everything that is dark and retrograde, opposed to everything that is liberal and enlightened in the ecclesiastical policy of the past; one of those narrow-minded and incompetent obstructives' whose opinions need be of no concern to those persons who, in addition to scientific knowledge, possess some acquaintance with the history of the seventeenth century' (p. 34). Now it is easy enough for a disputant who is so minded to charge his opponent with ignorance, but it is not always so easy to establish the charge. Incompetent obstructives' are no doubt very objectionable people, but they do less injury to any cause than is done by indiscreet advocates. Those opinions of mine which have so displeased Mr. Mivart were not, in reality, mine at all ; I took them from the best known, the most trusted theologians of the Catholic Church. I gave the very words of my authorities, and all the necessary references to their works. Some of these made the evolution theory a special study, and are quite competent to pronounce an opinion on it; one of them at least, the Abbé Moigno, was a scientist far more widely known than even Mr. Mivart bimself is. Now I submit that to class such men as “incompetent obstructives, though it may be a very heroic way, is certainly not a wise or an effectual way of disposing of them. Personalities serve no cause, and are sadly out of place in a discussion like this, and I therefore pass Mr. Mivart's by as if unsaid, merely observing that a few sentences of calm sound reasoning would do far more to advance his cause. Mr. Mivart has met two London priests, one the head of a college,' who are very useful for his purpose just now. They are anti-Copernicans, and they are so because they believe the Church is committed to that doctrine by the condemnation of Galileo. Now I may be permitted to say that I know a great many more priests than Mr. Mivart does, and I have not met even one such fossil among them. I have found them feeling on such questions as I myself feel, and I am in no sense nervous as to any possible conclusion of genuine science. I have read nearly all that Mr. Mivart has written, some of it with pleasure and profit, some of it with regret and pain. I am quite prepared to accept thankfully from him or from any one else real genuine science--strictly logical deductions, or inferences from sound principles or from well-established facts. But I am not prepared to accept from any one a fasciculus of conditional propositions as a substitute for science. I cannot regard as scientific a process which amounts to saying that something would be if ten thousand other things had been.

Mr. Mivart is, he thinks, absolved from the necessity of noticing my authorities because of a certain previous question ; 'that they merit no consideration is, he thinks, abundantly clear 'to those persons who, in addition to scientific knowledge, possess some acquaintance with the history of the seventeenth century' (p. 34). • For a most instructive parallelism exists between the opposition of our present ecclesiastical obstructives to evolution and that offered by their predecessors to Copernicanism' (p. 36). The memorable conflict between science and eeclesiastical authority in the seventeenth century, resulting in Galileo's condemnation, has, according to Mr. Mivart, so discredited ecclesiastical authority, has so completely put it out of court in scientific discussion, that he does not hesitate to say, 'It is the very distinctness and authority with which scientific truths have been condemned which make secure beyond all possibility of question the complete scientific freedom of sincere Catholics' (p. 35). “Viewing these events, however, in the light of our present knowledge, Catholics may far more thankfully exclaim : “How providential was that Divine permission by which such ecclesiastical authorities were allowed to fall into such egregious errors ! ”' (p. 38). And all this is the deliberate verdict of a loyal son of the Catholic Church. Now, as Mr. Mivart has set this verdict before the readers of this Review, who are largely non-Catholic, I have some claim to be heard on the other side. If his previous question' have any interest for them, it is a true, not a false and distorted, version of it that is worth their hearing. I may be presumed to know as well as Mr. Mivart does what is the teaching of the Catholic Church. If there be weak points in the Church's armour, or sore points in her history, I may be presumed to be as interested in the matter as he is. The case of Galileo is not buried so far back into the history of the past that I may not know something of it, and something of its bearing on other points of Catholic doctrine. Mr. Mivart takes a very limited view of his 'instructive parallel.' To establish it he must contrast not merely the fact of condemnation in both cases, but

« ForrigeFortsæt »