The Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 5, November, 1863 online

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which any soul should pine. Strange that humanity should so shudder at
the thought of death! And stranger still, that the searcher for wisdom
should not seek it in the preparation for that future life where alone
true wisdom can be gained.

And as for questions such as this which we have been discussing, it is,
after all, enough for us to know that all will some day be revealed;
enough for us to know that there are other duties incumbent upon us,
other interests more vital to our spiritual well-being, than that of
peering into these hidden mysteries, which do not at all concern our
present existence, which do not promote our present or future happiness,
or help us forward on our eternal road.



MATTER AND SPIRIT. - Our contributor, under this title, has entered upon
a boundless field of speculation, in which we have no thought of
following him to any considerable distance. A metaphysical discussion of
this character would scarcely be appropriate to the pages of THE
CONTINENTAL; and our readers would doubtless find the controversy
uninteresting, if not altogether unprofitable. We, however, cheerfully
insert the paper offered by Lieutenant Phelps, on account of the spirit
of earnest piety and love of truth which seem to pervade it; and we
shall confine ourselves here to the briefest possible comment which will
enable us to make understood our grounds of dissent.

We demur to the suggestion that our ideas, as expressed in the July
number, have necessarily any affinity to 'the dogmas of pantheism.' We
then wrote thus: 'It is spirit only that animates, informs, and shapes
the whole universe. Wherever law prevails (and where does it not?),
there is intelligence, spirit, soul, acting to sustain it, during every
moment of its operation.' Can anyone seriously question the correctness,
and even the entire orthodoxy of this statement? In truth, we do not
understand that our contributor himself denies it absolutely, but only
in a qualified sense, as we shall presently show. Of course, it could be
no other spirit than the Deity, to which our language would be
applicable; and we do not see how it can in any way derogate from His
attributes, to represent him as acting, by an exertion of spiritual
power, to sustain and uphold his creation, during every moment of its

Nor can we comprehend the pertinence of our contributor's disquisition
on the great question of free will and necessity, as applicable to our
ideas of the relations existing between mind and matter. 'Spirit acts
independently of God,' says he. We might well question the truth of this
assertion; but we may equally well admit it, so far as any inference may
be drawn against the positions we have assumed. The question is not
whether the soul of man is compelled to action according to the law of
its creation, or is permitted by spontaneous choice to follow its own
independent will. This is not point of disagreement; for we have
expressed no opinion on this subject, nor upon any other which involves
it. On the contrary, we took the question to be simply whether there can
be, in the nature of things, any relations of reciprocal influence and
mutual coöperation between mind and matter. If this be not the question
at issue, both our contributor and ourselves are engaged in a fruitless
attempt to enlighten each other. We are well aware that his digression
from the main argument to the disputed question of free will, is made
for the purpose of attempting to show that all spiritual agency must be
like that which he claims for the soul of man - that is to say, it must
have a free will, 'constantly departing from its normal state,' acting
irregularly and according to the freaks of its own spontaneity. And
because there is no such caprice and irregularity in the operation of
the laws of nature, the inference is drawn that they cannot be the
evidences of spiritual power, in the forces which they govern.

Upon this point there seems to be a radical difference of understanding
between our contributor and ourselves. Be it pantheism, or whatever any
one else may choose to call it, we entertain the very simple belief that
the ultimate laws of nature, impressed upon the material world, are
nothing less than the direct power of the Almighty upholding the
universe, and controlling all its operations throughout all time from
the origin of the creation to its end, if it shall have one. We cannot
look upon the system of nature as a piece of machinery, wound up and set
a-going, and destined to run its appointed course, with only an
occasional glance of its Author to interfere with its regular working.
We do not suppose that this constant exercise of power imposes any
burden upon the Author of the creation; nor are we conscious of any
diminution of his glory, or any denial of his absolute personality, when
we consider him as being ever present in all his works, 'animating,
informing, and shaping them,' by the perpetual exertion of his
omnipotent will.

We do not, by any means, understand our contributor as denying the
agency of the Almighty in the establishment of general laws; but his
view of the subject is totally different from ours. If we have not
misconceived his meaning entirely, he considers the laws of nature as
something independent of the operations which they control - a _tertium
quid_ interposed between the creator and his work. God is the author;
law is the active agent; and material changes are the results. Law is
not spirit; and therefore matter is not moved and controlled by spirit.
We entirely disclaim any want of respect for our contributor and his
thoughts; but we must express our surprise that he should resort to this
clumsy and unphilosophical theory, in order to deny the direct agency of
spirit in the operations of nature. Law is not separate and distinct
from the phenomena which it regulates. It is only a rule or principle,
as he himself admits, 'which ceases to be with the accomplishment of its
end.' This rule or principle, which implies intelligence and will, must
be in the mind of the Author, who operates in accordance with it, and
not in the mere matter whose changes it controls. Yet our author
strangely says, 'all the objects of nature are the products, not of
spirit, but of law, which is itself the product of the one great
Creative Spirit whereby all things are.'

But let us admit that this extraordinary theory is sound, and that LAW
is the active agent which controls all physical phenomena. Now this
thing, called LAW, must be either spirit or matter, or a compound of
both. If it be spirit, then it acts upon matter directly; if, on the
contrary, it be itself matter, then spirit acts upon it; and, finally,
if it be a compound of the two, then it affords still stronger evidence
of reciprocal effects, which are decisive of the whole question in
dispute. We are conscious, however, that this reasoning is almost
puerile; for laws are mere abstractions, and not actual entities. They
indicate the mode in which causes produce effects; in other words, they
are signs of the intention and purpose with which the Great Spirit
carries on all his mighty works.

It is hardly necessary, in order to sustain our position, to follow the
steps of our contributor, in his attempted investigation of the mode of
communication between the human soul and the outer world, through the
senses. Many of his ideas might afford ground for interesting comment.
But the point in dispute is too distinct and circumscribed to require
many words for its elucidation. It is sufficient to say that in the
process of perception through sensation, there must be some point of
contact, at which the mind and the material object perceived by it are
brought into the relations of mutual influence. Whenever a material
object is cognized, there is a direct effect of matter upon the mind.
And so, likewise, in every case of voluntary muscular exertion, the
mandate of the will is communicated through the nerves, and the spirit
thus acts directly upon matter. No refinement of theory will avail to
get rid of these obvious facts; for, whatever intermediate agencies may
be imagined by way of explanation, they leave the ultimate truth
indisputable, that in some mysterious way, spirit and matter do
effectually operate upon each other.

We are in no degree committed to the doctrines of modern spiritualism,
and we shall not take issue with our contributor in his vehement protest
against the belief that disembodied spirits ever visit 'the warm
precincts of the cheerful day,' and make themselves known to living
mortals. An orthodox Christian, however, might have some hesitation, in
view of certain passages of Scripture, in utterly denying the
_possibility_ of such phenomena; and every reader of history and student
of philosophy might well exclaim with Tennyson:

'Dare I say
No spirit ever brake the band
That stays him from the native land
Where first he walked when wrapped in clay?'

But we are quite as far from having asserted the existence of such
preternatural phenomena, and we shall surely not attempt to establish
facts of which we have no experience whatever. All that we have done has
been merely to question the validity of that curt and summary argument,
which assumes that matter and spirit are incapable of acting upon each
other, and in this way cuts off all investigation.

We were somewhat disappointed and discouraged as we followed our
contributor into that passage in which he seems to think that after
death, the soul of man is removed beyond all knowledge of material
things, and becomes incapable of ever perceiving their existence. It is
true, this is but the logical deduction from his premises; and yet we
felt some emotions of terror - some shrinking from that great and
impassable gulf which he represents as then to be fixed between us and
the objects of our life-long acquaintance - 'the gulf which separates
time from eternity.' But we were soon relieved; for in the conclusion of
his article he waxes eloquent upon the higher faculties with which the
soul will doubtless be endowed in its new state of existence, and with
apparent unconsciousness of all inconsistency, assumes the very opposite
of the whole preceding part of his argument. 'But,' he exclaims, 'when
we shall stand in all the nakedness of _pure, unfettered spirit_,' 'and
gaze with all the clearness of unveiled spiritual vision _upon the
wonderful mechanism of the universe_,' etc. We might inquire of our
author how, upon his principles, with merely spiritual vision, we can
expect to behold anything so gross and material as the mechanism of the
universe; but we overlook and forgive the apparent inconsistency - we are
willing ourselves to be vanquished in the argument - for the sake of the
noble idea that we may hereafter 'pass from blindness to far-stretching,
unimpeded sight,' and 'be able at a glance _to count the very stars_,
and to see the network of laws which binds them to their places, and
controls, not only their motions, but the minutest particulars of their
internal organism.' We are thankful, at all events, that, though matter
and spirit may be so far apart in this our mortal state of existence, in
the spiritual world, at least, we shall not lose all memory and
knowledge of the grand material creation, of which we have learned so
little here, but shall still be able, with even clearer vision, to
perceive and comprehend the works of God, and, in the light of a nobler
understanding, to adore the unfathomable wisdom which the Omnipotent
Spirit has displayed in the arrangements of the boundless universe - the
magnificent dwelling place of his creature man.

F. P. S.


History pays no more than a just tribute to commerce, when she accords
to that agency important civilizing influences; yet it must be admitted
that it has frequently pursued a tortuous course, has often been
unscrupulous in the means that it has employed, and has not always been
reciprocal in its advantages. Like religion, it has been used as an
opening wedge to conquest. As the establishment of a factory in Bengal
prepared the way for the battle of Plassy, so the founding of a mission
in Manilla led to the subjugation of the Philippines. Or as, in our day,
opium breached the walls of China, so the Society of Jesus, by its labor
in Anam, has caused the dismemberment of that empire. British commerce
demanded for its development successive wars. Gallican religion exacts
from each dynasty the employment of the sword as an auxiliary of

These aggressions have been facilitated by the assumption, on the part
of Christian powers, of the exemption of their subjects from local
jurisdiction in Mohammedan and pagan countries. A factory or a mission
is established, which, from the outset, is an _imperium in imperio_, and
becomes a permanent conspiracy which soon finds causes of complaint
against the government of the land in which, without invitation, its
members have become domiciled. Essentially this is filibusterism, more
dangerous because more insidious than an armed invasion; it has caused
nearly all the collisions which have occurred in oriental and occidental
intercourse. If, in the discussions that have arisen on eastern
questions, this consideration of the subject had not been wholly
ignored, the courses pursued by western powers would be even less
defensible than they have been made to appear. No one can arrive at
correct conclusions on questions affecting China, Japan, Siam and other
pagan states without an attentive consideration of the claims which
those weak countries have upon us in view of their being compelled to
join the family of nations, and render themselves amenable to
international law, while they are debarred from the semblance of

Extraterritoriality originated in the Levant. The mercantile
establishments that sprang up in Western Asia and Northern Africa, as
Moslem power began to wane, partook of a semi-official character; being
recognized as an appendage of the diplomatic corps of that country, it
became the practice to accord to the trading Frank the exemption from
local jurisdiction which was accorded to the official representative of
his country.

This abdication of authority, on the part of those states, has been
effected gradually, and the usurpation on the part of Christian powers
has only been perfected and secured by treaty in our own day. Great
Britain, in her treaty with the emperor of Morocco (1760), agreed that
'if there shall happen any quarrel or dispute between an Englishman and
a Mussulman, by which any of them shall receive detriment, the same
shall be heard and determined by the emperor _alone_.'

In the following year we find the sublime Porte, in a treaty with
Prussia, jealously guarding Turkish interterritorial rights, stipulating
that the Ottoman tribunals should take cognizance of cases arising
between Prussian subjects and those of the Porte. All that the Porte was
then willing to concede, was the presence of the Prussian consul at
such trials, and the privilege of adjudicating in disputes arising
between his countrymen.

In the treaty between France and Algiers (1764), it was agreed that
offences occurring at _sea_, should be tried by the French consul, when
the offender was a Frenchman; and by the dey, when the offender was an
Algerine. And, at the same time, in her treaty with Morocco, France
merely secured the stipulation that 'if a Frenchman should strike a
subject of Morocco, he shall be tried only in presence of his consul,
who shall defend his cause, and he shall be judged impartially.' A
French edict of 1778, in reference to the duties of consuls, alludes to
trials occurring in Constantinople, which clearly admit interterritorial
jurisdiction. The Republic, in 1801, also admitted that right on the
part of Moslem states.

Algiers, in her treaty with Denmark (1792), expressly provides for
jurisdiction over the Danes in her dominion.

Russia negotiated a treaty, in 1783, with the Porte, stipulating only
for the privilege of exercising jurisdiction through her ministers or
consuls, in cases of quarrels between Russians.

Spain was content, in 1784, to secure from Tripoli the presence in a
Tripolitan court of a Spanish consul on the trial of a Spaniard.

Our own country uniformly conceded to Barbary powers entire jurisdiction
over our resident citizens. The treaty with Morocco (1787) reads: 'When
a citizen of the United States kills or wounds a subject of Morocco, or
if a subject of Morocco kills or wounds a citizen of the United States,
the laws of the country are to be followed; equal justice, and the
presence of the consul, being alone stipulated for.' And in the treaty
with Algiers (1816), we merely require that the 'sentence of punishment
of an American citizen shall not be greater, or more severe, than it
would be against a Turk in the same predicament.'

With Tunis there was the same understanding. Again, in the treaty of
1836, with Morocco, no claim is made for jurisdiction by us over our
citizens; the presence of the consul at a trial being deemed a
sufficient guarantee for an equitable trial; showing, that up to that
date Morocco resisted the extraterritorial aggression to which the
Ottoman power had already yielded.

So far as appears from Marten's _Recueil des Traités_, the Sublime Porte
was the first to yield the point, suffering it to go by default,
however, of exempting resident foreigners from local jurisdiction,
rather than by a formal abdication of authority in a treaty. The
earliest admission that we have met with, strange to say, occurs in the
United States' treaty, negotiated with Turkey in 1830. 'If litigation
and disputes should arise between subjects of the Sublime Porte and
citizens of the United States, the parties shall not be heard, nor shall
judgment be pronounced, unless the American dragoman be present.
Citizens of the United States, committing an offence, shall not be
arrested and put to prison by the local authorities, but they shall be
tried by their minister or consul, and punished according to their
offence, following in this respect the _usage_ observed toward other

With Persia, in 1856, we stipulated only that the American consul shall
be present at the tribunal, when Americans are parties in a trial.

Our earliest treaty in Eastern Asia was negotiated in 1833, with Siam,
with which power we agreed, 'that merchants of the United States,
trading in the kingdom of Siam, shall respect and _follow_ the laws and
_customs_ of the country in _all_ points' - conceding not only
interterritoriality to the fullest extent; but making it the duty of
American traders to creep on all fours when in the presence of a high
functionary of that kingdom, and to become orthodox Buddhists!
Inadvertently, no doubt, going farther than Joel Barlow, who thought it
expedient in his treaty with Tripoli (1797) to insert a sort of
disclaimer against Christianity, inserting in the treaty, 'the
Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the
Christian religion,' a sort of offset, in accordance with the fashion of
the period, to the Austrian treaty of nearly the same date, which was
negotiated in the name of the 'Most Holy Trinity.'

As regards Mohammedan countries, it is not likely that grave evils will
soon arise from the exempting of foreigners from local jurisdiction;
there is yet so much vigor in the government of those states, and so
much vindictiveness toward the giaour foreigners there will be deterred
from those practices which render them a terror to the more servile
people of Buddhist countries. But the extension of the principle to
Eastern Asia has been extremely disastrous to the peoples of those
countries, and has not been unattended by inimical reflex influences on
the wrong doers of the West.

To understand the operation of extraterritorial jurisdiction, let us
suppose the principle to be applied to ourselves. A European merchant or
sailor inflicts corporal chastisement on one of our citizens in
Broadway, and the prestige which the foreigner enjoys, precludes
interference on the part of bystanders and police. If the New Yorker
happens to be desirous of obtaining redress, he must first discover and
identify the assailant, and next ascertain his nationality. [A Chinaman,
in like circumstances, would find as much trouble in arriving at the
truth, as if he were to attempt the investigation of the assailant's
pedigree; he knows as little of our nationalities as we do of the forty
tribes of Borneo.] Our persevering citizen succeeds at length in lodging
a complaint at the consulate of the offender. The consul is perhaps a
fellow merchant of the defendant, or head of the firm to which the
offender is consigned. The complainant is accommodated with a blundering
interpreter, and the case is tried according to the foreigner's code,
which, on such occasions, is endowed with more than wonted elasticity.
If, contrary to all probability, the foreigner is convicted, the citizen
has the satisfaction of seeing the foreign assailant placed in
confinement on the consul's premises, or perhaps mulcted to a small
amount; and with this administration of justice, he and his country must
be content. Who does not see that such an abdication of authority on our
part would lead to the perpetration of wrongs that would soon become
unendurable, even if we were first to become a broken spirited people?
And, considering the arrogance and recklessness of many foreigners in
China, and the pusillanimous character of the natives, what can be
expected but contempt and aggression on one side, and mistrust and
finesse on the other? What but a chronic discontent, wholly incompatible
with healthful commerce and peaceful intercourse, can be expected from
such a state of things? Consider further that this occurs among a people
of the highest antiquity, with a history and a civilization of which
they are justly proud; who, in political and moral science, were in
advance of Greece and Rome, at a time when those, whom they now
designate 'barbarians,' really were so. When our ancestors were half
naked savages, the Chinese were a polished literary people. In calling
attention to this subject we do so, not less in the interest of our
oriental clients than in that of our own lands; for our relations with
the empire of China will, with the growth of our power on the Pacific,
assume such importance, that good policy demands that we should avoid
any course likely to render hostile such a large portion of the human
race. Many years ago we deprecated Chinese emigration into California,
on the ground that, as _prolétaires_, they would degrade labor, and
leave that State without its most important element of strength; yet to
the Chinese, in their own country, we would pursue a conciliatory
instead of a domineering course.

Hardly had the Portuguese doubled the Cape of Good Hope, when the
Chinese, who had but imperfectly resisted aggression from neighboring
countries, began to suffer annoyance from the 'barbarians from the
Western Ocean.' At an early day the Portuguese established a factory at
the mouth of the river on which Ningpo is situated. The factory became a
colony, and the colony a little state. 'At the origin of colonies,' says
M. Cochin, 'we find in general two men, a filibuster and a missionary.
To go so far, one must have either a devil in his body, or God in his
heart. When to these two men is joined a third - a ruler - all goes on
well; the first subjugates, the second converts, and the third
organizes.' All these went to work in China: as elsewhere, affairs went
on well as regards filibuster, missionary, and ruler. Courts of justice,
hospitals, seminaries, and military posts were established. Natives
joined the colonists in large numbers, adopting the foreign dress,
customs, and religion, without a moment's hesitation. If the Chinese had
been as few in number as the Aztecs, a Portuguese dominion would soon
have arisen in Cathay; but the raids made by the colonists, the slaying
of villagers, the violation and carrying off of women, the cruelty and
robberies of the Christians, became so intolerable that the whole region
was aroused, and the colonists exterminated. From that period Europeans
were rigorously restricted to the port of Canton, and the coast enjoyed
quiet, except interrupted by an occasional buccaneer, until the present
century, when the opium traffic brought violent men to every port.

The Portuguese were not the only sufferers from trespassing upon the

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Online LibraryVariousThe Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 5, November, 1863 → online text (page 12 of 20)