A Noble Spirit [1/2]
S S S
Short Fiction, Serial
Mathematics, Human Species, Materialism, Morality, Religion
The introduction recounts the promise of Mr. Hanmer to write to the 'two intelligent sons', Charles and Horace, of his friend Sir Edward Brackenbury, concerning his early ideas and experiences of what constitutes 'a noble spirit' (3). In his letter, Hanmer describes his early companions at a banking house in London. One is unable to manage his financial affairs: he says that 'he never had any thing fixed within him or about him: and arithmetical calculations are such fixed things, that the bare thought of living and acting by them, destroys him with the vapours' (7). Another, Langley, spends his evenings 'engaged in the most interesting philosophical inquiries; investigating, especially, the nature and character of man, in a manner calculated to render him happier and wiser'. He and his associates believe in the inherent goodness of the human species, and the sufficiency of reason, and discuss such questions as 'whether matter be under the control of the mind, or mind owes its impressions to matter'. (8) Langley becomes increasingly depraved as a result of his principles. Drawing out the moral of this tale, Hanmer advises his young friends at some length to beware of the 'pride of human intellect', although he also advises them not to 'abstain from science and learning', noting that 'reason is a useful servant to religion' (12).
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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