Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

the hard fidelity with which it is based on practical anatomy. It is remarkable that this sublime genius decides peremptorily for the analytic, against the synthetic method ; and, in a book whose genius is a daring poetic synthesis, claims to confine himself to a rigid experience.

He knows, if he only, the flowing of nature, and how wise was that old answer of Amasis to him who bade him drink up the sea, — “Yes, willingly, if you will stop the rivers that flow in.” Few knew as much about nature and her subtle manners, or expressed more subtly. her goings. He thought as large a demand is made on our faith by nature, as by miracles. “ He noted that in her proceeding from first principles through her several subordinations, there was no state through which she did not pass, as if her path lay through all things.” " For as often as she betakes herself upward from visible phenomena, or, in other words, withdraws herself inward, she instantly as it were disappears, while no one knows what has become of her, or whither she is gone: so that it is necessary to take science as a guide in pursuing her steps.”

The pursuing the inquiry under the light of an end or final cause gives wonderful animation, a sort of personality to the whole writing. This book announces his favorite dogmas. The ancient doctrine of Hippocrates, that the brain is a gland;

and of Leucippus, that the atom may be known by the mass ; or, in Plato, the macrocosm by the microcosm; and, in the verses of Lucretius,

Ossa videlicet e pauxillis atque minutis
Ossibus sic et de pauxillis atque minutis
Visceribus viscus gigni, sanguenque creari
Sanguinis inter se multis coeuntibus guttis ;
Ex aurique putat micis consistere posse
Aurum, et de terris terram concrescere parvis ;
Ignibus ex igneis, humorem humoribus esse.

LIB. I. 835.
“The principle of all things, entrails made
Of smallest entrails ; bone, of smallest bone ;
Blood, of small sanguine drops reduced to one ;
Gold, of small grains ; earth, of small sands compacted ;
Small drops to water, sparks to fire contracted :

and which Malpighi had summed in his maxim that “nature exists entire in leasts," — is a favorite thought of Swedenborg. 6. It is a constant law of the organic body that large, compound, or visible forms exist and subsist from smaller, simpler and ultimately from invisible forms, which act similarly to the larger ones, but more perfectly and more universally; and the least forms so perfectly and universally as to involve an idea representative of their entire universe." The unities of each organ are so many little organs, homogeneous with their compound: the unities of the tongue are little tongues; those of the stomach, little stomachs;

[ocr errors]

those of the heart are little hearts. This fruitful idea furnishes a key to every secret. What was too small for the eye to detect was read by the aggregates ; what was too large, by the units.. There is no end to his application of the thought. “Hunger is an aggregate of very many little hun. gers, or losses of blood by the little veins all over the body.” It is a key to his theology also. “Man is a kind of very minute heaven, corresponding to the world of spirits and to heaven. Every particular idea of man, and every affection, yea, every smallest part of his affection, is an image and effigy of him. A spirit may be known from only a single thought. God is the grand man.

The hardihood and thoroughness of his study of nature required a theory of forms also. “Forms ascend in order from the lowest to the highest. The lowest form is angular, or the terrestrial and corporeal. The second and next higher form is the circular, which is also called the perpetualangular, because the circumference of a circle is a perpetual angle. The form above this is the spiral, parent and measure of circular forms : its diameters are not rectilinear, but variously circular, and have a spherical surface for centre; therefore it is called the perpetual-circular. The form above this is the vortical, or perpetual-spiral : next, the perpetual-vortical, or celestial : last, the perpetual celestial, or spiritual.”

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Was it strange that a genius so bold should take the last step also, should conceive that he might attain the science of all sciences, to unlock the meaning of the world ? In the first volume of the “ Animal Kingdom,” he broaches the subject in a remarkable note:-“In our doctrine of Representations and Correspondences we shall treat of both these symbolical and typical resemblances, and of the astonishing things which occur, I will not say in the living body only, but throughout nature, and which correspond so entirely to supreme and spiritual things that one would swear that the physical world was purely symbolical of the spiritual world; insomuch that if we choose to express any natural truth in physical and definite vocal terms, and to convert these terms only into the corresponding and spiritual terms, we shall by this means elicit a spiritual truth or theological dogma, in place of the physical truth or precept: although no mortal would have predicted that any thing of the kind could possibly arise by bare literal transposition ; inasmuch as the one precept, considered separately from the other, appears to have absolutely no relation to it. I intend hereafter to communicate a number of examples of such correspondences, together with a vocabulary containing the terms of spiritual things, as well as of the physical things for which they are to be substituted. This sym. bolism pervades the living body.”

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

The fact thus explicitly stated is implied in all poetry, in allegory, in fable, in the use of emblemy and in the structure of language. Plato knew it, as is evident from his twice bisected line in the sixth book of the Republic. Lord Bacon had found that truth and nature differed only as seal and print; and he instanced some physical propositions, with their translation into a moral or political sense. Behmen, and all mystics, imply this law in their dark riddle-writing. The poets, in as far as they are poets, use it; but it is known to them only as the magnet was known for ages, as a toy. Swedenborg first put the fact into a detached and scientific statement, because it was habitually present to him, and never not seen. It was involved, as we explained already, in the doctrine of identity and iteration, because the mental series exactly tallies with the material series. It required an insight that could rank things in order and series; or rather it required such rightness of position that the poles of the eye should coincide with the axis of the world. The earth had fed its mankind through five or six millenniums, and they had sciences, religions, philosophies, and yet had failed to see the correspondence of meaning between every part and every other part. And, down to this hour, literature has no book in which the symbolism of things is scientifically opened. One

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »