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The Catholic World

A Monthly Magazine of General Literature and Science

Vol. XX.

October 1874 to March 1875

The Catholic Publication House.

New York



The Catholic World. Vol. XX., No. 115.—October, 1874.
Matter. III.
The Veil Withdrawn.
September—Sabbath Rest.
The Present State Of Anglicanism.
Antar And Zara; Or, “The Only True Lovers.”
Assunta Howard. III. In Extremis.
A Discussion With An Infidel.
A Legend Of Alsace.
Fac‐Similes Of Irish National Manuscripts.
Congress Of The Catholic Germans At Mayence.
Switzerland In 1873. Lucerne.
Roger The Rich.
The Poem Of Izdubar.
New Publications.
The Catholic World. Vol. XX., No. 116.—November, 1874.
Church Chant _Versus_ Church Music.
A Vision.
On The Wing. A Southern Flight. VII. Concluded.
The Three Edens.
A Discussion With An Infidel.
The Veil Withdrawn.
Fac‐Similes Of Irish National Manuscripts. Concluded.
Annals Of The Moss‐Troopers.
Assunta Howard. IV. Convalescence.
Inscription For The Bell “Gabriel,” At S. Mary’s Of The Lake, Lake
Switzerland In 1873. Lucerne. Concluded.
A Legend Of Alsace. Concluded.
Wind And Tide.
Matter. IV.
New Publications.
The Catholic World. Vol. XX., No. 117.—December, 1874.
The Persecution Of The Church In The German Empire.
The Veil Withdrawn.
Church Chant _Versus_ Church Music.
Assunta Howard. V. Sienna.
Swinburne And De Vere.
Requies Mea.
Ontologism And Psychologism.
Reminiscences Of A Tile‐Field.
The Ingenious Device.
The Rigi.
Church Song.
A Discussion With An Infidel.
The Ice‐Wigwam Of Minnehaha.
A Russian Sister Of Charity.
New Publications.
The Catholic World. Vol. XX., No. 118.—January, 1875.
The Persecution Of The Church In The German Empire.
The Veil Withdrawn.
Another General Convention Of The Protestant Episcopal Church.
Assunta Howard. Concluded.
Matter. V.
Christmas In The Thirteenth Century.
The Civilization Of Ancient Ireland.
The Better Christmas.
English And Scotch Scenes.
The Future Of The Russian Church.
The Leap For Life.
The Year Of Our Lord 1874.
New Publications.
The Catholic World. Vol. XX., No. 119.—February, 1875.
Church Authority And Personal Responsibility:
The Church In F——.
Are You My Wife? Chapter I.
Religion And State In Our Republic.
The Veil Withdrawn.
The Brooklet.
The Colonization Of New South Wales By Great Britain.
A Summer In Rome.
Matter. VI.
Robespierre. Concluded.
Robert Cavelier De La Salle.
The Future Of The Russian Church.
The Bells Of Prayer.
New Publications.
The Catholic World. Vol. XX., No. 120.—March, 1875.
Italian Documents Of Freemasonry.
Crown Jewels.
Are You My Wife? Chapter II.
The Colonization Of New South Wales By Great Britain. Concluded.
The Veil Withdrawn.
A Bit Of Modern Thought On Matter.
The Blind Student.
Turning From Darwin To Thomas Aquinas.
The Future Of The Russian Church.
Burke And The Revolution.
Robert Cavelier De La Salle. Concluded.
The Log Chapel On The Rappahannock.
New Publications.

[Cover Page]


Anglicanism, The Present State of, 41.

Annals of the Moss Troopers, 222.

Another General Convention of the P. E. Church, 465.

Are you my Wife? 596, 738.

Assunta Howard, 62, 234, 332, 474.

Bit of Modern Thought on Matter, A, 786.

Blind Student, The, 802.

Burke and the Revolution, 823.

Bussierre’s A Legend of Alsace, 91, 260.

Christmas in the Thirteenth Century, 502.

Church Authority, etc., 578.

Church Chant _vs._ Church Music, 145, 317.

Civilization of Ancient Ireland, 506.

Colonization of New South Wales by Great Britain, 650, 759.

Congress of the Catholic Germans at Mayence, 109.

Craven’s Veil Withdrawn, 15, 193, 297, 446, 630, 767.

Discussion with an Infidel, A, 73, 175, 405.

Eighteen Hundred and Seventy‐Four, 561.

English and Scotch Scenes, 529.

Fac‐Similes of Irish National MSS., 102, 213.

Future of the Russian Church, The, 544, 703, 810.

German Empire, The Persecution of the Church in the, 289, 433.

Ice‐Wigwam of Minnehaha, The, 424.

Infidel, A Discussion with an, 73, 175, 405.

Ireland, The Civilization of Ancient, 506.

Irish National MSS., 102, 213.

Italian Documents of Freemasonry, 721.

Izdubar, The Poem of, 138.

La Salle, Robert Cavelier de, 690, 833.

Legend of Alsace, A, 91, 260.

Log Chapel on the Rappahannock, The, 847.

Lucerne, 123, 245.

Matter, 1, 272, 487, 666.

Matter, A Bit of Modern Thought on, 786.

Minnehaha, The Ice‐Wigwam of, 424.

Moss Troopers, Annals of the, 222.

New South Wales, The Colonization of, 650, 759.

On the Wing, 158.

Ontologism and Psychologism, 360.

Persecution of the Church in the German Empire, The, 289, 433.

Personal Responsibility, 578.

Poem of Izdubar, The, 138.

Present State of Anglicanism, The, 41.

Protestant Episcopal Church, General Convention of the, 465.

Religion and State in our Republic, 615.

Reminiscences of a Tile Field, 374.

Rigi, The, 388.

Robert Cavelier de La Salle, 690, 833.

Robespierre, 519, 680.

Russian Church, The Future of the, 544, 703.

Russian Sister of Charity, A, 428.

Scotch Scenes, 529.

Southern Flight, A, 158.

Summer in Rome, A, 658.

Swinburne and De Vere, 346.

Switzerland in 1873, 123, 245.

Tile Field, Reminiscences of a, 374.

Tondini’s A Russian Sister of Charity, 428.

Tondini’s Russian Church, 544, 703, 810.

Veil Withdrawn, The, 15, 193, 297, 446, 630, 767.

Year of our Lord 1874, The, 561.


Antar and Zara, 55.

Better Christmas, The, 528.

Bells of Prayer, The, 713.

Birth‐Days, 702.

Brooklet, The, 649.

Church in F——, The, 595.

Christmas Tide, 443.

Church Song, 404.

Crown Jewels, 737.

Destiny, 192.

Episode in the Career of Pres. MacMahon, 557.

Hope, 14.

Ingenious Device, The, 387.

Inscription on the Bell Gabrielle at S. Mary’s of the Lake, Lake George,

Leap for Life, The, 557.

Release, 629.

Requies Mea, 359.

Roger the Rich, 135.

September—Sabbath Rest, 40.

Three Edens, The, 174.

Turning from Darwin to Thomas Aquinas, 809.

Vision, A, 157.

Wind and Tide, 271.

New Publications.

Alzog’s Universal History, 287.

Anecdote Biographies of Thackeray and Dickens, 143.

Augustine, S., The Works of, 575.

Avancinus’ Meditations, 714.

Bateman’s Ierne of Armorica, 720.

Bric‐a‐Brac Series, 143, 576.

Caddell’s Summer Talk about Lourdes, 288.

Catholic Family Almanac for 1875, 429.

Characteristics from the Writings of John Henry Newman, 860.

Charteris, 288.

Complete Office of Holy Week, The, 860.

Cumplido’s The Perfect Lay‐Brother, 859.

Curtius’ History of Greece, 288.

Didiot’s The Religious State, 859.

Dodge’s Rhymes and Jingles, 576.

Excerpta ex Rituali Romano, 716.

Father Eudes and his Foundations, 839.

Fleuriot’s Eagle and Dove, 575.

Greenleaf’s Testimony of the Evangelists Examined, 718.

Harper’s Peace through the Truth, 860.

Hewit’s King’s Highway, 574.

History of Greece, 288.

History of the Catholic Church in Scotland, 287.

Holland’s Mistress of the Manse, 430.

Holy Week, The Complete Office of, 860.

Ierne of Armorica, 720.

Illustrated Catholic Almanac for 1875, 429.

Katherine Earle, 288.

King’s Highway, 574.

Leguay’s The Mistress of Novices, 859.

Lessons in Bible History, 715.

Letters of Mr. Gladstone and others, 716.

Letter to the Duke of Norfolk on Gladstone’s Expostulation, 857.

Library of the Sacred Heart, 576.

Life of Anne Catherine Emmerich, 142.

Margaret Roper, 860.

Maria Monk’s Daughter, 430.

Marvin’s Philosophy of Spiritualism, 860.

Meditations on the Life and Doctrine of Jesus Christ, 714.

Meline’s Charteris, 288.

Mill’s Three Essays on Religion, 575.

Milwaukee Catholic Magazine, 720.

Mistress of Novices, The, 859.

Mistress of the Manse, 430.

Montgomery’s On the Wing, 860.

Montzey’s Father Eudes, etc., 859.

Morris’ Prisoners of the Temple, 714.

Murray’s Manual of Mythology, 287.

Newman’s Characteristics, 860.

Newman’s Letter, etc., 857.

Nobleman of ’89, The, 714.

Notes on the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore, 430.

On the Wing, 860.

Ordo Divini Officii Recitandi Missæque Celebrandæ, juxta Rubricas
Breviarii ac Missalis Romani, Anno 1875, 719.

Oriental and Linguistic Studies, 573.

Outlines of Astronomy, 717.

Peace through the Truth, 860.

Perfect Lay‐Brother, The, 859.

Personal Reminiscences by Barham, Harness, and Hodder, 576.

Philosophy of Spiritualism, The, 860.

Prisoners of the Temple, The, 714.

Protestant Journalism, 288.

Purgatory Surveyed, 715.

Quinton’s The Nobleman of ’89, 714.

Ram’s Life of Anne Catherine Emmerich, 142.

Réglement Ecclesiastique de Pierre Le Grand, 719.

Religious State, The, etc., 859.

Rhymes and Jingles, 576.

Sadliers’ Catholic Directory for 1875, 720.

Searle’s Outlines of Astronomy, 717.

Sins of the Tongue, 718.

Smith’s Notes on the Council of Baltimore, 430.

Stewart’s Margaret Roper, 860.

Summer Talk about Lourdes, 288.

Testimony of the Evangelists Examined, etc., 713.

Three Essays on Religion, 575.

Tondini’s Réglement Ecclesiastique de Pierre Le Grand, 719.

Torrey’s Theory of True Art, 288.

Trafton’s Katherine Earle, 288.

Universal Church History, 289.

Valiant Woman, The, 718.

Walsh’s History of the Catholic Church in Scotland, 287.

Whitney’s Oriental and Linguistic Studies, 573.

Works of Aurelius Augustine, 575.

Young Catholic’s Illustrated School Series, 143.


Matter. III.

The plain philosophical and scientific proofs by which we have established
the _actio in distans_, although sufficient, in our judgment, to convince
every unbiassed reader of the truth of the view we have maintained, may
nevertheless prove inadequate to remove the prejudice of those who regard
the time‐honored doctrine of action by material contact as axiomatic and
unassailable. It is true that they cannot upset our arguments; but they
oppose to us other arguments, which they confidently believe to be
unanswerable. It is therefore necessary for us to supplement our previous
demonstration by a careful analysis of the objections which can be made
against it, and to show the intrinsic unsoundness of the reasonings by
which they are supported. This is what we intend to do in the present

_A first objection._—The first and chief argument advanced against the
possibility of _actio in distans_ without a material medium of
communication is thus developed in the _Popular Science Monthly_ for
November, 1873 (p. 94), by J. B. Stallo:

“How is the mutual action of atoms existing by themselves in complete
insulation, and wholly without contact, to be realized in thought? We are
here in presence of the old difficulties respecting the possibility of
_actio in distans_ which presented themselves to the minds of the
physicists in Newton’s time, and constituted one of the topics of the
famous discussion between Leibnitz and Clarke, in the course of which
Clarke made the remarkable admission that ‘if one body attracted another
without an intervening body, that would be not a miracle, but a
contradiction; for it would be to suppose that a body acts where it is
not’—otherwise expressed: Inasmuch as action is but a mode of being, the
assertion that a body can act where it is not would be tantamount to the
assertion that a body can be where it is not. This admission was entirely
in consonance with Newton’s own opinion; indeed, Clarke’s words are but a
paraphrase of the celebrated passage in one of Newton’s letters to
Bentley, cited by John Stuart Mill in his _System of Logic_, which runs as
follows: ‘It is inconceivable that inanimate brute matter should, without
the mediation of something else which is not material, operate upon and
affect other matter _without mutual contact_.... That gravity should be
innate, inherent, and essential to matter, so that one body may act on
another, at a distance, through a vacuum, without the mediation of
anything else by and through which their action and force be conveyed from
one to the other, is to me so great an absurdity that I believe no man,
who in philosophical matters has a competent faculty of thinking, can ever
fall into it.’ ”

Before we enter into the discussion of this objection we must remark that
it is scarcely fair to allege Newton’s view as contrary to _actio in
distans_. For he neither requires a material contact of matter with matter
nor a material medium of communication; he says, on the contrary, that the
inanimate brute matter needs _the mediation of something else which is not
material_; which amounts to saying that his inanimate brute matter must
have all around a non‐material sphere of power, without which it would
never reach any distant matter. This assertion, far from being a denial of
_actio in distans_, seems rather to be a remote endeavor towards its
explanation; and it may be surmised that, had Newton been as well
acquainted with the metaphysical doctrine about the essential constituents
of substance as he was with the mathematical formulas of mechanics, he
would have recognized in his “inanimate brute matter” the potential
constituent of material substance, and in his “something else which is not
material” the formal constituent of the same substance and the principle
of its operation. The only objectionable phrase we find in the passage now
under consideration is that in which he describes action and force as
_conveyed_ from matter to matter. But, as he explicitly maintains that
this convection requires no material medium, the phrase, whatever may be
its verbal inaccuracy, is not scientifically wrong, and cannot be brought
to bear against the _actio in distans_. We therefore dismiss this part of
the objection as preposterous, and shall at once turn our attention to
Clarke’s argument, which may be reduced to the syllogistic form thus:

“A body cannot act where it is not present either by itself or by its
power. But _actio in distans_ is an action which would be exerted where
the body is not present by itself, as is evident; and where the body is
not present by its power, as there is no medium of communication.
Therefore the _actio in distans_ is an impossibility.”

The objection, though extremely plausible, is based on a false
assumption—that is, on the supposition that there can be distance from the
active power of one element to the matter of another. The truth is that,
however far matter may be distant from matter, no active power can ever be
distant from it. For no distance in space is conceivable without two
formal ubications. Now, a material element has undoubtedly a formal
ubication in space by reason of its matter, which is the centre of its
sphere of activity, but not by reason of its active power. Distances, in
fact, are always measured from a point to a point, and never from a point
to an active power, nor from an active power to a point. The matter of a
primitive element marks out a point in space, and from this point we take
the direction of its exertions; but the power of an element, as
contradistinguished from its matter, is not a point in space, nor does it
mark a point in space, nor is it conceivable as a term of distance. And
therefore to suppose that there may be a distance from the active power of
an element to the point where another element is ubicated, is to make a
false supposition. The active power transcends the predicament _ubi_, and
has no place within which we can confine it; it is not circumscribed like
matter, and is not transmissible, as the objection supposes, from place to
place through any material medium; it is ready, on the contrary, to act
directly and immediately upon any matter existing in its indefinite(1)
sphere, while its own matter is circumscriptively ubicated in that single
point(2) which is the centre of the same sphere. Prof. Faraday explicitly
affirmed that “each atom extends, so to say, throughout the whole of the
solar system, yet always retains its own centre of force”;(3) which, in
metaphysical language, means that while _the matter_ of a primitive
element occupies a single point, _the form_ constitutes around it an
indefinite sphere of power. And for this reason it was Faraday’s opinion
that the words _actio in distans_ should not be employed in science. For
although the matter of one body is distant from the matter of another, yet
the power that acts is not distant; and therefore, although there is no
contact of matter with matter, there is a _contactus virtutis_, or a
contact of power with matter, which alone is required for the production
of the effect.

We are far from supposing that the adversaries of the _actio in distans_
will be silenced by the preceding answer; as it is very probable that the
answer itself will be to many of them a source of new difficulties. Still,
many things are true which are difficult to be understood; and it would be
against reason to deny truths sufficiently inferred from facts, only on
account of the difficulty which we experience in giving a popular
explanation of them. Those who, to avoid such a difficulty, deny action at
a distance, expose themselves to other difficulties which are much more
real, as admitting of no possible solution; and if they reject actions at
a distance because their explanation appears to be difficult, they are
also bound to reject even more decidedly all actions by material contact;
for these indeed admit of no explanation whatever, as we have already

To understand and explain how material elements can act at any distance is
difficult, for this one radical reason: that our intellectual work is
never purely intellectual, but is always accompanied by the working of
that other very useful, but sometimes mischievous, power which we call
imagination; and because, when we are trying to understand something that
transcends imagination, and of which no sensible image can be formed, our
intellect finds itself under the necessity of working without the
assistance of suitable sensible representations. Our imagination, however,
cannot remain inactive, and therefore it strives continually to supply the
intellect with new images; but as these, unhappily, are not calculated to
afford any exact representation of intellectual things, the intellect,
instead of receiving help from the imagination, is rather embarrassed and
led astray by it. On the other hand, the words which we are generally
obliged to use in speaking of intellectual objects are more or less
immediately drawn from sensible things, and have still a certain
connection with sensible images. With such words, our explanations must,
of course, be metaphorical in some degree, and represent the intelligible
through the sensible, even when the latter is incompatible with the
former. This is one of the reasons why, in some cases, men fail to express
intelligibly and in an unobjectionable manner their most intellectual
thoughts. True it is that the metaphysicians, by the definite form of
their terminology, have greatly diminished this last difficulty; but, as
their language is little known outside of the philosophical world, our use
of it will scarcely help the common reader to understand what it conveys.
On the contrary, the greater the exactness of our expressions, the more
strange and absurd our style will appear to him who knows of no other
language than that of his senses, his imagination, and popular prejudice.

These general remarks apply most particularly to _actio in distans_. It is
objected that a cause cannot act where it is not, and where its power is
not conveyed through a material medium. Now, this proposition is to be
ranked among those which nothing but popular prejudice, incompleteness of
conception, and imperfection of language cause to be received as
axiomatic. We have pointed out that no material medium exists through
which power can be conveyed; but as the objection is presented in popular
terms and appeals to imagination, whilst our answer has no such advantage,
it is very probable that the objection will keep its ground as long as men
will be led by imagination more than by intellect. To avoid this danger,
Faraday preferred to say that “the atom [primitive element] of matter is
everywhere present,” and therefore can act everywhere. But by this answer
the learned professor, while trying to avoid Scylla, struck against
Charybdis. For, if the element of matter is everywhere present, then
Westminster Abbey, for instance, is everywhere present; which cannot be
true in the ordinary sense of the words. In fact, we are accustomed to say
that a body is present, not in that place where its action is felt, but in
that from which the direction of the action proceeds, and since such a
direction proceeds from the centres of power, to these centres alone we
refer when we point out the place occupied by a body. Prof. Faraday, on
the contrary, refers to the active powers when he says that matter is
everywhere present; for he considers the elements as consisting of power
alone.(5) But this way of speaking is irreconcilable with the notions we
have of determinate places, distances, etc., and creates a chaotic
confusion in all our ideas of material things. He speaks more correctly in
the passage which we have already mentioned, where he states that “each
atom [element] extends, _so to say_, throughout the whole of the solar
system, yet always retaining its own centre of force.” Here the words “so
to say” tell us clearly that the author, having found no proper terms to
express himself, makes use of a metaphor, and attributes _extension_ to
the material elements in a sense which is not yet adopted in common use.
He clearly wishes to say that “each element extends _virtually_ throughout
space, though it _materially_ occupies only the central point from which
its action is directed.”

This latter answer is very good. But people are not likely to realize its
full meaning; for in speaking of material substance men frequently
confound that which belongs to it by reason of its matter with that which
belongs to it by reason of its substantial form. It is evident, however,
that if the substance had no matter, it would not mark out a point in
space; it is, therefore, only on account of its matter that a substance is
formally ubicated.

As to the substantial form (which is the principle of activity), although
it is said to have a kind of ubication on account of the matter to which
it is terminated, nevertheless, of itself, it has no capability of formal
ubication, as we have already shown. Hence the extent to which the active
power of an element can be applied is not to be measured by the ubication
of its matter; and although no cause can act where it is not virtually by
its power, yet a cause can act where it is not present by its matter.

The direct answer to the argument proposed would, therefore, be as

“A body cannot act where it is not present either by itself or by its
power.” _Granted._

“But _actio in distans_ is an action which would be exerted where the body
is not present by itself, as is evident.” _Granted._ “And where the body
is not present by its power.” _False._

To the reason adduced, that “there is no medium of communication,” we
simply reply that such a medium is not required, as the active power
constitutes an indefinite sphere, and is already present after its own
manner (that is, virtually) wherever it is to be exerted; and therefore it
has no need of being transmitted through a medium.

This is the radical solution of the difficulty proposed. But the notion of
an indefinite sphere of activity, on which this solution is grounded, is,

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