Youth's Magazine,  3rd ser. 10 (1837), 374–79.

Conversations at Carringford Lodge. No. VII. Why am I here?  [7/8]

[Richard Cope]


Serial, Short Fiction

Relevant illustrations:

wdct. [4]


Lecturing, Reason, Observation, Plenitude, Palaeontology, Botany, Design, Time, Infidelity, Providence, Astronomy, Piety

    Edwin asks his father to give a 'parlour-lecture on some congenial subject' to a small party of friends on the occasion of his birthday. Mr Ravenstone lectures on the subject of reason. He divides the subject into three parts, following John Abercrombie's Inquiries Concerning the Intellectual Powers: 'the collection of facts, the tracing of causes, and the deducing of general principles' (374). Urges the 'rigid examination and careful analysis' of even the lowest of animate and inanimate forms, to establish their identity, illustrate their economy, or to read their history. 'Such an accurate method of investigation will go very far towards proving that all natural objects are volumes of no ordinary interest, that sermons are indeed to be found in stones, and good in every thing'. (375) Urges the importance of careful observation, as demonstrated by artists. Exemplifies the importance of accurate observation by reference to an illustration of a Megatherium claw, which was at first taken by geologists to be that of a 'beast of prey' until 'one of the more accurate observers amongst them, discovered that its curvature was not sufficiently great, and assigned it to a creature feeding upon herbs' (376). Urges the importance of accurate observation prior to the tracing of causes by reference to Strabo mistaking fossil shells for petrified lentils. Discusses the more cautious approach of the modern geologist observing and reasoning on petrified bones. Seeking to deduce general principles, he asserts that wisdom pervades 'every work of the Deity', and that 'this alone is sufficient to bring us out of the debasing slavery of atheism'. Asserts that the divine providence apparent in nature is yet more important: 'The "undevout astronomer" may tell us that the majesty of God is most conspicuous in the planetary worlds around us; but we prefer to look for his providential care in the flower that gems our pathway'. (379)

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