Constance Naden.

Further reliques of Constance Naden : being Essays and tracts for our times / edited, with an naalytical and critical introduction, and notes, by George M. McCrie online

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Constance Naden:

Further Reliques











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Small Crown 8vo. 5s.

A MODERN APOSTLE: The Elixir of Life;

Small Crown 8vo. 5s.


Demy 8vo. 7s. 6d.


H /Ifeemoir,

By W. R. Hughes, F.L.S., Treasurer of the City of Birmingham.

2s. 6d.



By Rev. E. Cobiiam Brewer, LL.D.


HUMANISM versus THEISM, by Dr. Lewins.
Letters to Miss Naden, selected by herself,





Preface vii

Introduction .i x

" Pig Philosophy" 1

greology of the birmingham district - - - - 15
[Panton Prize Essay ; Mason College, 1885].

Evolution of the Sense of Beauty 76

What is Religion I a Vindication of Neo-Materialism 102

Philosophical Tracts :

Introduction 134

Transcendental Psychology - - - - - - 144

Ontology and Scepticism 156

Cosmic Identity - 162

Hylo-Zoism versus Animism 191

Paracelsus 198

Scientific Idealism 210

Appendices 217



Mr. Hughes has received many gratifying letters in acknowledgment
of presentation copies of this volume, among which the following are

General Sir Henry F. Ponsonby, G.C.B., writes from Osborne :—
"I have had much pleasure in laying before the Queen the copy of
\ i »ur work, ' Constance Naden : a memoir,' of which I had already heard
an interesting account."

" Her Majesty was graciously pleased to accept the volume, and com-
mands me to thank you for your kindness in having presented her with
this hook."

Lorj> Reay writes : — "I have had the privilege of receiving your
memoir of Miss Naden. I am very much obliged. Though only having
had the pleasure of seeing her for a few hours, I mourn the premature
death of this singularly-gifted lady as warmly as any of her friend-."

The Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, M.P., writes: — "I thank you
very much for the Memoir of Miss Naden, Everything relating to her
is to me matter of deep and touching interest."

The Right Hon. J. Chamberlain, M.P., writes: — "I am much
obliged to you for the copy of the Life of Miss Naden, which I shall
read with interest."

Sib Philip Magnus writes : — "I am indeed very much obliged to

you for sending me the Memoir of Constance Naden Incommou

with every one else who knew her 1 was deeply shocked when 1 heard
the sad news of her death, which so abruptly terminated an acquaintance
which I had hoped would ripen into friendship."

In acknowledging the receipt of a copy of the Memoir sent to him by
Mrs. Charles Daniell, Mr. Gladstone writes as follows :— ". . . 1 read
through the whole Memoir with undiminished interest. There can be
no doubt thai bj the death of Miss Naden the world has losl a person
of gifts both extraordinary and highly diversified. As yet 1 believe in
her rnainl) for her poetry, bul a mind highly scientific is shown by the
wonderfully (lever verses on Solomon Redivivus. 1 am glad to be
under the impression thai we have not gol the last of her remains. I
shall always regrel my personal loss in not having known her per-
■ 1 1 1 1 1 \ .

A''//- Press Notices set end of Volume.

P R E F A C E .

TPHE intrinsic value of the papers themselves, and, inter alia,
JL the interest and attention which have been aroused by the
publication of Miss Naden's posthumous volume of Essays,
and by the succeeding Memoir which appeared last year,
suggest the compilation of these her further literary Beliques.

In the arrangement of the volume the Editor has en-
deavoured, by introducing several reprinted papers, culled
from the Journal of Science, etc., to add variety to the list
now before the reader.

The appendices are necessarily numerous. They consist of
some valuable additions and illustrative notes contributed to
the already published papers by Dr. Lewins, and by the
Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. To this department the
Editor has also ventured to add an article, written by Dr.
R. W. Dale in the Contemporary Review for April, 1891,
together with a reply written by himself and forwarded to
that journal. This reply was made strictly in the interests
of justice to Miss Xaden's memory. Eleven years of her
life's noontide have been overlooked by Dr. Dale.

I append, also, the facsimile of the last letter written
by Miss Xaden, to face the portrait. It is thoroughly
characteristic of her habitual serene courage and self-


IN the original " Prefatory Note " to the first two Essays,
" Induction and Deduction" and " Evolutionary Ethics,"
published in the former volume [Induction and Deduction,
by Constance C. W. Naden — London : Bickers & Son] of
Miss Naden's Essays, I find her scientific and philosophical
standpoint indicated in a few words. I quote them here in
order that, after the following papers are perused by the
general reader, the consistency of her views may be con-
firmed : " The inner bond of union between these two essays
consists in the principle, implied where not explicit, that
man evolves from his inner nature the world of experience, as
well as the world of thought — that, in fact, these seemingly
rival spheres constitute but one Cosmos. Whether I insist
upon the truth that induction and deduction are involved in
the simplest percept, or on the kindred truth that the germ
of morality lies in the power which every man possesses
to image and asself the feelings of his neighbours, I am
equally enforcing this primary idea."

This may seem prima facie a broad and all too bold gene-
ralization. It is only, however, when we take a sample of
Miss Naden's purely empirical papers, such as the Panton
Prize Essay in the following pages, and unify it with the
"primary truth" above mentioned, that we see how her life
philosophy was based on foundations quite susceptible, in
our age, of positive verification. Professor Tilden, in his
interesting contribution to her "Memoir" [Bickers & Son,
1890], tells us that "no inducements seemed sufficient t<»
prevail upon her [while at Mason College] to become a


mere scientific specialist." Still more definitely Professor
Lapworth, in his introduction to the same volume, informs
us to the like effect, "I take it," he says (xv), "that Miss
Naden's study of Geology, as that of other sciences, was
only as a means to an end." What this "end" was may
not lie exoterically manifest upon the surface of all her
published prose writings, yet it is, nevertheless, true that —
" Without this revelation of her inner life, much, especially
of her later poetry and prose, must be as enigmatical and,
indeed, incomprehensible as Volaptik." [Addition to Memoir
by Robert Lewins, M.D.] Such a life purpose as this, based
upon the latest acquirements in modern science, and yet
employing these, not in any special line of empirical study
or research, but concentrating them in the elaboration of a
"world scheme" or Cosmic synthesis — above all, in all
and through all — constitutes, as a whole, a study so unique,
that it can be but briefly dwelt upon within the limits of
this introductory paper. Of the "profound simplicity" of
this her life gospel, there can be no better evidence than
the fact that, in its entirety at all events, so many of her
earlier teachers have contrived to miss its real significance.
The profoundly simple eludes observation by reason of its
very nearness and closeness, and resolves into the simply
profound. To say, for example, that the query, "Man, whence
and whither ? " was the question which bulked most largely
with her, is disproved by the singularly able philosophical
bracts now for the first time published in these pages. The
question is not even mooted. To say that the bent of her
mind was " Spencerian " is but inadequately to convey an
idea of her mental grasp, which was more than equal to the
problems of the newest philosophic schools ; she was equally
at home in the Synthetic Philosophy as in the speculations
of MM. Renouvier and Pillon, as well as in those of the


late Prof. T. H. Green. But she identified herself with none
of these. It would be quite as reasonable to state of the
last-named that he was a Kantian.

[f the highest art be to conceal all traces of art, the
profoundest philosophic ability conceals all evidence of
acquirement — is simply informed, and speaks from know-
ledge. Although the papers which follow have not had the
benefit of her personal revision, I need scarcely point to them
as characterized by an entire absence of the literary undress
and scrappiness so common now-a-days. The MSS. have
been written by the "vanished hand" with such mature de-
liberation and calmness, that one is at a loss which most to
admire, the brilliant and original thoughts or the classical
repose of manner and expression. Again and again while
perusing these r cliques has the present writer had, as it were,
to reassure himself as to their veritable authorship. These
quiet forceful words, this commanding grace of expression,
this workmanship of phrase, so apt that not one word could
be substituted without changing the whole meaning, all are
the work, little more than the beginning of the life-work, of
one of England's daughters !

Comparisons at once suggest themselves in these cir-
cumstances. But these need not be, in the least degree,
invidious, since it goes without saying that, as regards
scientific, up to date, training, as a basis for philosophical
elaboration, she had advantages such as no woman of mark
preceding her has ever enjoyed. And, as Mr. Herbert
Spencer has remarked of her, " Very generally receptivity
and originality are not associated, but in her mind they
appear to have been equally great." In respect of solid
acquirements, perhaps the nearest name to hers in this con-
nexion is that of the late Miss Harriet Martineau, — who
with unquestionable talent and ability, and under the


guidance of the late Mr. Atkinson, did endeavour, if not to
construct a philosophical system, at least to impress the
public at large with some very pronounced views as to
Mesmerism and kindred topics. It will not be seriously
contended, however, that Miss Martineau's range of acquire-
ment, or capacity for abstract thought, at all equalled Miss
Naden's, even making allowance for the difference of their
respective epochs. The former's correspondence with her
mentor on the " Laws of Man's Xature and Development "
only marked a stage in a long series of intellectual divaga-
tions on her part, in the course of which every depth and
shallow, lying between Unitarianism and Neo-Phrenology,
had been attempted. At the present day it may safely be
affirmed that the influence upon modern thought, whether of
teacher or disciple, is practically nil.

Continuing the above extract from Mr. Herbert Spencer,
which is quoted in the Memoir (p. 89), we find the following-
words, " I can think of no woman, save ' George Eliot,' in
whom there has been this union of high philosophical
capacity with extensive acquisition." A closer examination,
however, shews this well-meant comparison inapplicable.
There was all the difference between the early and thorough
scientific grounding, in the case of Miss Naden, and the
scientific acquirements, picked up comparatively late in lite,
in the case of George Eliot. It is no dispraise to allude to
this in the case of the latter. It is impossible, however high a
tribute may be intended, as it is doubtless due, to her imagi-
native powers, to credit her with having been scientifically
educated, while, as a matter of fact, she did not possess any
such advantage as an aid to philosophical bheorisings, with
all the disadvantages which, on the other hand, accompany
acquirements gained after the normal period of receptivity
had passed. It is evident, also, that the disparity of age

[NTR0D1 CTION. xni

tells much in favour of the younger thinker, if only on
account of the notable advances made in scientific methods
during the last forty years. In many department- scientific
theories have been practically revolutionized during that
period. Miss Xaden's teachers at Mason College, who share
the symposium on the title-page of her Memoir — Professors
Lapworth and Tilden— are scientists of the newest schools in
their respective departments. The former has practically
revolutionized Sir E. Murchison's Geology of the Sottish
Highlands as well as that of the Scandinavian Peninsula :
the latter, like other professors of Mason College, is, unlike
Dr. Tyndall and other established authorities, at the high-
water mark of present-day Empiricism.

Here, also, the question of mere acquirements apart, we
have to contrast, as it were instinctively, the calm serenity,
the just balance and equipoise, of our author's mind with not
a little wavering and hesitancy on the part of the distinguished
psychological novelist. Doubtless the companionship of the
latter with the late Mr. G. H. Lewes had much to do with
this. AVhere there was no approach to anything like a
monistic cosmical synthesis on the part of the teacher, the
disciple could not be expected to originate one. The dra-
matic and prudential requirements of the successful novel
writer, also, did not square with the severity of a monistic
persuasion. So that, in the end, although the genius was
unquestionable, the aspiration high and the moral lofty, we
have compromise instead of constancy, dualism for monism.
and a general impression of " trimming " conveyed, which
may be false or not, but which, in the case of one more
single-hearted and sincere, would never have been originated.

As Miss Xaden did not essay the role of novelist, it would
seem out of place to mention any of the Bronte family in
this connexion, even if there were any link of association


between the somewhat feverish genius of the daughters of
Haworth Vicarage and the achromatic vision and faculty
divine of Constance Naden. Pure specialists in science, like
the late Mrs. Mary Somerville, cannot be classed with her,
tor she soared far above mere specialism — though she had
the training of a specialist of the specialists, as it were,
thrown in, to incline the balance of adjudication more
markedly in her favour. And, at the other end of the vista,
place beside her calm insight, beside " the vigour and sound
sanity of her brain," the pitiful autobiography of that spoiled
child of modern society, Marie Bashkirtseff — that hectic
record of genius, vanity, folly and despair.

But, far more important than the petty details of literary
comparison and estimate, remains the actual philosophic work
performed by Miss Xaden. Its quality is such as to dwarf,
for the most part, the other departments of her activity.
Poet she was, but her poetry suffers, not in comparison with
the work of other women of letters in the same sphere, but
with her own still more precious and enduring contributions
to the literature of abstract thought. We have seen that, by
her own statement, one "primary truth" runs like a silver
thread through all her graver papers; it gleams through the
Heslop Prize Essay on Induction and Deduction, and also
through the shorter papers published in the same volume. In
the following pages, the same conclusions are reaehed through
an analysis of Transcendental Psychology — notably the
position of the late Professor T. H. Green, of Oxford.

I" order to show how firmly based on positive science were
Mi- Naden's theorisings, there is reprinted in the following
pages a paper entitled "Hylo-Zoisra v. Animism," from the
.lour, ><<! oj Sdenn. It was the clowning glory of her philo-
sophical exposition, that she could try conclusions with a
subtle thinker like the late Prof. Green .ami I confess that


the Apostle of The Eternal Consciousness seems to me
ever to have the worst of the argument), both on his own
ground, and on the field of physical science, in which he was
no expert. Her argument found confirmation alike in the
mental and material spheres, these in the alembic of Hylo-
Idealism, being but one and the same. She parts from the
Oxford Professor just at the point where, embarrassed with
the Kelational system to which he has reduced everything,
he seeks refuge in an Infinite Consciousness which is to cor-
relate all things, and in regard to which the human organism
is to serve but as a keyboard, whereon the Symphony of
Being is to be performed : —

" Now it is like all instruments,
Now like a lonely lute — .'*'

This view, of course, repels her. She equally rejects the
abstract Eelationalism of the French School of the Xeo-
Kantians ; while, on the other hand, she also avoids the
crude, undigested realism, which would make an " external
world " the informing and illuminating agent, and the sub-
jective mind a passive mirror, over which appearances change
and pass. It is one of the most notable features of that
all-embracing Theory of Hylo-Idealism, which was Miss
Naden's life- creed, that, at a stage of argument like this, the
hiatus is self-supplied. It was indifferent with her, as
Hylo-Idealist, whether the Relation of the Xeo-Kantians
were a thing wholly in the air — a termless abstraction, or
the measured relations recognized by the anatomist and
evolutionist. To the ordinary spectator, as, indeed, to the
ordinary scientist of to-day, these are wholly different,
wholly irreconcilable ; with the consistent Hylo-Idealist,
they are one and the same. The limitary Ego — the Ego
which gives birth to the chimera of Dualism — cannot be
found. Eor, p. 152, " if subject and object be indissolubly one


the simplest unit from which we can start must he the Ego in its
entirety, that is the universe as felt and hnown." I italicise
one of the most pregnant dicta in all the literature of
abstract thought.

The prime error of Dualism, as opposed to a judicial and
consistent Monism, lies in the illegitimate postulate of the
objective and external. The very query, " Is there an
external world '. " is one which ought not to be put until the
true definition of " externality " be arrived at, or until it be
discovered whether it be possible for the self to transcend
itself. True externality, as regards consciousness, or a
conscious subject, would mean a something, or somewhat
indefinable, with which the conscious, not being in relation,
had no concern, something beyond or above it, which would
be as nothing to it. To put it in the words of Prof. Green,
arguing wholly from the metaphysical side, " We are not
entitled to say that anything is without, or outside conscious-
ness ; for externality being a relation which, like any other
relation, exists only in the medium of consciousness, only
between certain objects as they are for consciousness, cannot
be a relation between consciousness and anything else." But
the teachings of positive science, also, effectually negative
any such absolute or unconnected entity. "Nihil a rra
alienum puto" is true in the realm of physics, as well as in
that of ethics. Distinguish we may: separate we cannot.
Each one of us is being regenerated, horn again, every
instant. We are not what we have been — we know not
what we shall be. Never continuing for an instant in one
stay, individuality, personality were a mockery could we not
say that the Ego in its entirety is not the shadow on the dial.
<>r the wavelet in the ocean, but itself the veritable " universe
as felt and known."

In this light the resort of Prof. Green, and other similar


thinkers (acute enough in their way, but purblind when

it comes to be a question of the last recess of knowledge),
to a supreme outside consciousness of whom much is re-
quired, and who therefore is made Infinite, Eternal or what
not, and is supposed to play upon the human organism
as upon a harp, is found to be superfluous, an illegitimate
complication of a problem already solved. A Cosmic Soul,
or Anima Mwndi, is as unnecessary as an Anima Human".
Neither are required by the conditions, for just as the
human organism needs no quickening spirit to enable it t<»
perform its functions, so the Ego in its entirety — viz., the
Universe as felt and known — needs no energy save its own
vis insita. As put in the paper on Hylo-Zoism v. Animism,
p. *208. " The vis insita of matter (which etymological 1_\
means in-dwelling, but practically means inalienable eneru v )
supplies the place of the Divine afflatus, and affords, in the
strictest sense of the phrase, a logically sufficient ' cause ' —
i.e., a rationale reducing apparently anomalous phenomena to
a familiar category." The animal economy is clearly auto-
matic and requires no external instrumentality to energize it.

These things are not hard to be understood, as some have
ignorantly supposed. Should their significance be missed by
the sincere enquirer, let it be pondered whether the error
does not lie with himself or herself, or by reason of the
unexpected nearness and plainness of the truths involved.
For Cosmic Identity is a transcendent truth hidden by its
own conspicuousness. To the unsophisticated mind this all-
subduing solution of " the riddle of the painful earth " is
clearer than to one darkened and blinded by the glare of
light, which purely fractional, empirical science affords.
The whole must ever be greater than the part. " The stars
are well, but the self is better."

It is thus not a singular, though perhaps a noticeable


feature in the propaganda of Hylo-Idealism, that no type of
intellect is so difficult of access as that of the modern
specialist, who is specialist and nothing more. The plain
directness of the Solipsismal verity irritates and upsets him.
The intellectual focus in such cases is adjusted for the far, the
remote, — for anything but the near at hand, the " simply
simple." Yet it is to this erroneous perspective that so-called
" modern thought" asks its votaries to trust implicitly, to the
neglect of certain antiquated myths and fables. Let us have
correct perspective by all means, true insight and achromatic
vision, but till this be attained, fables young and old will
seem fables equally — the invention of the Bathybius of much
the same value as a solar myth, and the doctrine of atomicity
[Stallo's Concepts and Theories of Modern Physics'] quite
as shaky as any oft-impugned Christian symbol.

Perhaps no collection of posthumous essays ever required
so little of introduction or direction to be addressed to the
reader. The arrangement of the present volume has been
made in accordance with a plan which, upon consideration,
will make itself readily understood. The student will find it
to his advantage to peruse, first of all, and more especially in
advance of the philosophical tracts which follow, the lesser
papers connected with Hylo-Idealism, contained in the for-
mer volume of essays already alluded to — and then to follow
up the papers in the order of their arrangement in the pre-
sent volume. At first glance it may seem as if the view-
point shifted abruptly, and as if the topics varied at hap-
hazard — but this kaleidoscopic alternation, besides bring
( haracteristic of the many-sided genius of the writer, has its
wider lesson and its moral in connection with the all-inclu-
sive synthesis which inspires these papers throughout. The
study of the Ego which these pages present, in accordance

Online LibraryConstance NadenFurther reliques of Constance Naden : being Essays and tracts for our times / edited, with an naalytical and critical introduction, and notes, by George M. McCrie → online text (page 1 of 24)