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coincidence they appeared on the same day. The letter from Spain gave an account of a Catholic pilgrimage to certain sacred places at Montserrat. Among others the pilgrims devoutly visited a cavern called Juan Garin. They implicitly believe the legend that once there dwelt in that cave a prayerful monk, named Juan Garin, who, however, committed a sin. For that one sin he was transformed into a wild beast, and roamed the forest as such until he was at last restored to humanity by the voice of a child five months old.
The other letter, that from America, related how a huge rock in the bed of a sea was skilfully honeycombed, filled with explosive materials. On a bright Sunday morning-albeit the potent Sabbatarian fairy protested against the desecration—the engineer lifted his little daughter two years of age in his arms, bade her touch a shining button of metal ; the dimpled finger touched the metal : that touch exploded 52,000 pounds of powder, and ploughed clear and made safe the chief highway of ships on the eastern coast of America.
What connection is there between the splendid fact from America and the weird legend from Spain ? One is a dream of which the other is fulfilment. Not without a certain dim significance of its own is that story of the monk in his cave, sunk by sin to a beast, restored to humanity by a baby's voice. Since that ancient Hebrew vision of the happy era when the earth shall be swayed by gentleness, and the lion and the lamb together be led by a little child, there has been a half-conscious dream in the hearts of the lowly of a day when the pride and violence of the world shall be brought down, and the child's innocence be stronger than the warrior's ferocity. The wild beast transformed to humanity by a child's voice is but one of innumerable fables that report this pious aspiration of the simple and lowly.
In the American event the dream is realised. Fiftytwo thousand pounds represents a force which used destructively might have laid New York in ruins. That is the same power which to-day is desolating Eastern provinces,—the power as wielded by fanaticism sitting in its cavern of superstition, till transformed to a wild beast. It is the power which sleeps to-day in the arsenals and magazines of more civilised Europe, but, unless the voice of peace can master the beast of selfishness, may soon leap forth to make Europe a hell of unchained passions.
But lo! across the ocean, science is seen binding all that wild power to a baby's finger; enables the gențlest touch, guided by pure intelligence, to wield the lightning of fabled Jove, dart it to the heart of a barrier of rock in the sea's depth, there waking an earthquake and directing it to a beneficent aim,—all without harm to a human being! That is the way in which science enables a child to transform and humanise the ferocities of nature.
Now these two stories, which reached here on the same day, remind us that past and present may be, and surely are, morally contemporary. The Spanish belief about Juan Garin is a fairy tale ; it is devoutly believed by Catholics, but stories like it were believed in the far East some thousands of years ago. Nay, in North
umbrian folklore there is a legend of a fair princess transformed by witchcraft to a dragon, but restored by the kiss of love to her proper shape.
It stands as a landmark behind the age of England, and indicating the believers in such legends as still dwelling in the dusk of an epoch here declined. The brave work in America
: which broke the Sabbath so splendidly stands out as a type of the romance and beauty which are to take the place of fairy tales in human belief. It stands out in the tinted dawn of a coming time, when children and aged people shall have unlearned the foolish notion that reason is cold and science dry, and found that all the fairy tales of the world are poor beside the romance of the force that curves the planet and the sea-shell, the story of the sunbeam that paints the star and the dewdrop; the divine mystery of mind which measures the force, tracks the sunbeam, and "dismounts the highest star."
Between those two landmarks—the fairy tale and the fact of science—the faith of millions is now hovering. They whose faith rests upon supernatural signs and wonders are not all so far sunk that they can accept the gross superstitions of a Catholic peasantry. On the other hand they who rest their faith so far as they can on reason do not generally accept the full results of science. But this we may remark, that men give up the supernatural just so fast and so far as they can take in the natural. If you can once get a man to really know a thing in nature, which means to know its laws, he can never again associate anything lawless or monstrous with it, nor desire to do so..
You may begin with what is most universally known among mankind and pass to the less and less known phenomena of nature, and precisely in the ratio of decreasing knowledge is increasing superstition.
Thus no man in England could be found willing to pray that the sun might rise an hour earlier or set an hour later say for the getting in of his harvest. The devout believer in prayer may read with full faith the Hebrew fairy tale which tells how the sun did stand still and lengthen the day at a mortal's petition, and yet he or she would never dream that such an effect could now be produced. The uniformities of the sun's apparent
. motion have been too patent, too familiar, for superstition to connect itself with that motion. Nor would
any one ever turn from the Christian fairy tales to pray that their water tank might yield pure wine, or that a fish just purchased might hold a coin large enough to pay their tax. But when we pass to things of which the laws are not so familiar, we at once observe the tendency of fancy to enter and fill up with phantasms the margin left by knowledge. The shifting clouds, the movements of wind and storm seem so irregular that an arbitrary power is more easily associated with them. And although the fairy tale of Joshua and the sun is as authentic as that of Elijah praying for the rain, yet in all the world nobody prays for a change in the day's course, while some do pray for a change in the weather. However, comparatively few pray for weather, for experience has shown that meteorology also is a science. More pray for health or recovery from sickness, this seeming to be less fixed
in conditions; and yet nobody ever prays to have the dead raised up. Notwithstanding the many Hebrew and Christian fairy tales which relate the resurrection of the dead, the necessary laws of death are too well known for any one to try and secure any alteration.
This proportionate decrease of belief in the supernatural with the extent of knowledge does not mean that the knowledge has eradicated superstition as a principle. Many who do not believe that any power can change the course of sun or seasons or weather, yet fully believe in miracles. Really, it means that wherever nature is appreciated, super-nature is not wanted. What mankind hate and dread is a blind, soulless, purposeless world. Where they see no law, they see no beauty ; where there is only hard and heartless matter, human nature cannot bear it, and must needs people it with goddesses, nymphs, fairies, angels, or even imps. These are mere makeshifts to fill the awful vacancy which knowledge has not yet come to fill up with fact and order. Carlyle exclaims, “Shams are burnt out, the realities have not come.” Whenever the realities have come, they are always satisfactory, and the fictions easily pass away.
Wherever knowledge goes, it liberates man from mere matter; it abolishes the gross object by showing it to be a transparency of beautiful laws, reflecting the glory of the universe.
Every Protestant can see this in the case of other fictions than his own.
I have just been reading a French book, by Paul Parfait, entitled “L'arsenal de Devotion," in which the author