The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30
Philosophicism. No. 1
Philosophicism. No. 1.
A.—So you have constructed a one-arm chair?
C.—Yes, you see I got a bar of wood screwed to the left front leg and seat, with 16 inches above the seat, and then nailed webbing to this post and the back. Try it. You sit all but up-right, with a light lean to the left, the webbing slightly yields, and so makes the position very comfortable, without the chair taking up the space that you might suppose it would.
A.—Well, it's a novelty in furniture, but I did not come to see the chair, I came to congratulate you on Part I. But have you not put too high a price upon it?
C.—Yes, I have, as measured by reviews and magazines, but their interest passes with the month, they are merely pailsful of liquid literature; but I told you that I publish "New Ideas" as a permanent appeal to the intelligent.page 27
Early to bed, and early to rise;
Stick to my work, and advertise,
I must still consider myself like the poor woman who set up a "mutton pie-shop." "How is it," enquired a customer, "that you give such good pies for a penny?" "Well, sir, you see I do put a pen'orth of mutton into them, and I had the flour at hand, and my time is my own." So it is with me; I do all the drawing and writing, and my time is my own; but with this difference, she could sell more than she could make; I can make a greater quantity than I can sell, and when the publisher shall have sold the thousand, I shall have made no profit, so you may set your mind at rest as to its being a lucratitience.
A.—Well, as you put it, publication, like virtue, is its own reward; but I also came to ask you to explain a difficulty, which presented itself to me in Part I. Do you really think the Universe is limited? which means there is an outside to the Universe, in which outside there is nothing.
C.—Certainly. The Illimitable, the Inconceivable, the Incomprehensible, the Unmeasurable, and all these expressions of helpless contemplation as applied to matter in entirety are to me the intimation of mental bewilderment. If matter is something, however rarified, there must be an outside to it. You cannot conceive a topless mountain; you cannot conceive a bucket without side or bottom. To say that matter is an ever-extension is to surrender reason to the page 28 prostration of the contemplation, in perspective, of a straight line in perpetual extention. Just think of it.
For exercise to grasp in Comprehension,
Impels the mind to amplify extension;
So spread itself, by starting fair from home
To past the conscious limit, still to roam
O'er space that overspheres this conscious finity;
Here, outside contemplates the unanimity.
Yet this Enspherencement, on which you dwell,
You find does but inclose the inner shell;
Still on, and on! new Spherences recede,
Still on, and on! the last a mustard seed,
To the beyond. Now let your thought explore
This absolute domain of higher law.
As law implies obedience, you must
On some eventual limit surely trust;
For limit to a law is indispensable
Or Comprehension is incomprehensible.
So you see I cannot think this illimitation, because I am a Comprehensionist, and a Comprehensionist mentally stands outside the Universe. You must realise it, or you could not comprehend it. Now, as a Comprehensionist realises the Soul of the Universe as the intelligence of the Etherealized, then this intelligence must cognate that which is an ever-continuance of extension, and the ever-continuance is not the progressiveness of circumferation, for that would surrender the assertion, but the ever-continuance here means that which intelligence even of Divinity cannot reach to, for how can you super-view that which has no limit? Put it thus: You are as I am the centre of a Material Enspherence of the visible to our vision; other persons are the centres of other spheres. Now, the aggregate of spheres implies a centre. Let us all represent ourselves as Suns of Planetary Systems, and there must be a centre to these planetary systems, and a centre without a circumference is the surrender of the con- page 29 sideration. I am placing the argument roughly, for the proposition is so absurd that I had not tried to invent weapons to contend with the impossible. Bat I should like you to be clear on this point of my Comprehensionism, which comprehends the Universe as an Ego, just as you recognise London from the top of St. Paul's, as a definitation; my erception that all the conceivable to perception are egos of this Ego, and as this Ego (the Universe) has Life, Soul, and Light, as its Vivical, Mental, and Wishful attributes, then you and I are each an Ego, as attributed with Life, Soul, and Light, which you and I, and all extant beings profess to possess. That in proportion as you inherate or absorb or intensify these attributes, you find your existence the more enjoyable. It is you that do it (the I myself), as having the Life, Soul, and Light of the Universe within you, and therefore only limited by the measurement of the limitation (if there be such a conception) of these universal attributes. You may call this assumption, or presumption, or self-glorification, "but if you are the son of your father, it is a possibility that you may know as your father, and as I suppose you will allow the whole Universe is a harmonious unity, then there must be a flow from the Soul of God to the Soul of Man, which is therefore the Soul of God in Man. This is our inheritance, this is the teaching of Jesus, and this is what the Church will make every effort to disallow by the Priesthood personifying Jesus, for intervention between you and God. Now you understand why I do not hope to sell this "New Ideas." The Churches will condemn it as exposing their many-sided Christ. The Materialists will condemn it because I recognise a God as the Universe. The Agnostics will condemn it because they will not recognise the ideal in this real. The Positivists will condemn it because progress is their end, and Comprehensionism has no end. The Spiritualists well condemn it because they look outside of themselves for its guidance instead of within as its residence; and, therefore, I can only look for support from the few page 30 thinkers who are released from the influence of meretricious philosophers, who now prove a foot to be eleven inches.
A.—Well, a man who is convinced without reflection will probably be disconvinced by the next person lie meets. These are new ideas to me, and I will think them over, for the conception is such a topsy-turvyment of all my previous convictions of Philosophy. But referring to Philosophers, do not you think Goldwin Smith effectually confronted Mr. Leslie Stephen in the December Contemporary Review?
C.—I read the article, and Mr. Goldwin Smith reminded me of David repudiating Saul's armour, as putting it aside, for he says, "I set aside all theological dogmas respecting the Trinity, the incarnation, the scheme of redemption, and the atonement." This is Christianity Secularised, or the crown of thorns made thornless. It is this liquidity of Christian profession that I complain of. Say I ask a Church Clergyman if he believes the Thirty-nine Articles. "Oh, yes, I gave my assent to them, but I also dissent from them. Damnation to me only means reproof. Dives in Hell represents a state of probation. The poor in spirit mean rich in spirit, the meek are the self-respectful. Lead us not into temptation means God tempteth no man, so it is a mistake, to be expunged. Then there is the dreadful doctrine of Original Sin, which sends all unbaptised children to hell, we qualify as—not specially blessed with Sacramental grace." But just consider an earnest child taking in these statements literally as believing the Bible to be God's actual words to man, and in the anxious desire to obey the instructions there printed, it simply becomes the door-mat for every inclinationist to wipe his feet upon, in these statements literally producing a weakness of character that is destitute of a moral resisttance. Comprehensionism accepts this new revision, but would ask of this modern liquid Christianity, if it thinks as stated, why it does not also so far confess itself Comprehen- page 31 sional, instead of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds, Oh, for a spark of self-respectfulness!
"Freedom's secret wouldest thou know,
Question not of flesh and blood;
Tarry not for cloak or food,
Eight thou feelest—rush to do."
For a true interstanding of Scripture, I think we should consider every statement as a complete proposition in logical examination for truthful conclusion, irrespective of traditional interpretation, and as the conscience becomes more sensitive, which is to say, This above all to thine own inner self be true, the better it will see a deceptive interpolation, or contradictory inferation. And the first proclamation of Comprehensionism is, that as the doctrine of Original Sin is the destruction of all moral uprightness, and is a Parliamentary insult to God, "every child shall be free to be true to its inner self as a child of God," as was taught by Jesus himself.