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IRVING AND THE DOCTORS.
INTRODUCTORY LECTURES. The assertion of Mr. Irving, that all the literary and scientific men of the day are infidels, has frightened the surgical lecturers, at least, out of their common sense or honesty. When I attended lectures, infidel opinions were freely. uttered by lecturers, and, as they bore the stamp of truth, were as freely acquiesced in by pupils. But, now, alas! the scene is changed. Neither the conventicle, nor the Inquisition could require more cant, false logic, and humbug. The first symptom of this that met my eye, was a report in a medical journal, edited by a Dr. Johnson, of the speech of Sir H. Halford (well and justly ridiculed by “ The John Bull”) on the opening of the new College of Physicians, in which the sapient baronet praised Dr. Bailey for his religious principles, and which the worthy editor, par nobile fratrum! reports, because it rescues the profession from the horrible charge of scepticism! This pretty piece of humbug or folly, I find by “ The Lancet," is well followed by the Anatomical Lecturers of London in general.
Not to trouble your readers with the similar nonsense of many, I will take one of the ablest surgcons and best anatomists, my late master, Mr. Charles Bell.
He says, “ For it (Anatomy) not only furnishes you with a knowledge of a human art—an art more or less connected with many others, but it brings home to you the perfections of the Great Author of your existence; it gives you the most striking instances of his power and wisdom, and it furnishes you with the just conclusion that the same power which formed continues to watch over and protect" !! again, “ From a careful examination of the body, we are led naturally to consider the being dwelling in a body, otherwise INSIGNIFICANT !!” How are the mighty fallen! How is science degraded when it stoops to support the superstitions of barbarism! I did not mean a pun; but such observations are more worthy our professional progenitors, the barbers, than an enlightened philosopher like Mr. Bell. Even in so bad a cause, I did not think him capable of uttering so much absurdity in so short a space. The first part of the first sentence is a false and illogical assumption, that the lesser wonder, man, could not be self existent, but the greater wonder, God, could. This is mak. ing the minor include the major. Mr. B. might as well tell us St. Paul's Church is larger than the globe of which it forms a part. Then comes the “ power and wisdom;" when Mr. B.'s life is devoted to remedy the weakness of omnipotence, the blunders of wisdom, and the imperfections made by a perfect Being! IfMr. B, were capable of acting, or thinking, as he speaks, he ought, for his own credit and the safety of his patients, to convert his scalpel into a pruning hook. Dr. Johnson, not the sapient editor, but the literary colossus, said, that lord Monboddo wrote nonsense without knowing it, but Rousseau knew he was writing nonsense, The latter, I must think, is the case with Mr. Bell, and with most, if not all the lecturers. It is cant, disgracefulcant. Science basely crawling with fear, while the Promethean vulture, priestcraft, finds new food in every bound of Genius towards its kindred skies.
But to resume. The conclusion of the first sentence, “ that the same power which formed continues to watch over,” &c. is worthy the logic of the rest. It is a complete non sequitur, and if God watched, what need of Mr. Bell's surgery? What use are his discoveries in the nervous system? Why devote our acknowledged IMPERFECT faculties of mind (another specimen of wis. dom and power!) to mitigate the evils of our Perfect! bodily structure? Then the second sentence finishes the absurdity. This fine body, which proves so much for the" wisdom and power," is otherwise INSIGNIFICANT! except that we are ! naturally” led to consider the being dwelling therein. Mr. Laurence, thanks to lord Eldon, has proved to all the world that we are naturally led to no such thing. He has stated truly that “ the soul (he should have said the thinkiug faculty, or principle of vitality, for it is not certain whether they be identical) could not be discovered amidst the blood and filth of a dissecting room! On the contrary, anatomy would lead us to deny altogether the independent existence of the being dwelling in the body, (what knife is fine enough to cut it, or discover its seat?) though physiology may, perhaps, lead us to a somewhat different conclusion.”
I must observe, that I have taken Mr. Bell, because I highly respect his great and various talents, and regret their perversion, and because, “ as the greatest beauties sometimes have a mole," they can better afford to have it noticed.
10, Goodge street, Middlesex Hospital. R. T. WEBB.
P.S. I believe I have intimated on the immaculate conception that there is no better evidence of design in health than in disease. An eye we can see with and a blind eye are equally the result of certain principles acting on certain structures, and we merely adapt the use to the structure. My shoulder was not designed to enable my arm to move in every direction ; but I adapt the motion to the structure. The proof of this is, (without noticing the absurdity of a perfect designer making cripples), the variety of operations persons can perform, who are born without the organs, Deists say, were designed to perform them: a savage might suppose glass was designed for windows but we know it is only adapted.
FURTHER EXPOSURE OF THE “ ODD FELLOWS.”
To Mr. R. Carlile, 135, Fleet Street, London.
Kensington, Nov. 20, 1825. The following is a correct account of the King's Lodge of Odd Fellows, Kensington. There is no higher lodge than this of Kensington, of which I am a member. The following is a list of the officers of the Kensington lodge: a noble grand, with bis two supporters, a vice-grand, with his two supporters, a secretary, a warden, a tiler or guardian, and a treasurer. The noble grand wears a scarlet robe, trimmed with fur, and faced with velvet, and yellow epaulettes on the shoulders, a round scarlet hat, turned up in front, and a black velvet regalia, trimmed with gold lace. The vicegrand wears the same, and all other officers wear the same, excepting the warden and guardian. During an initiation, the warden wears a cocked hat similar to an officer's of the army. The guardian wears a black robe, and a mask representing a merry devil's head with two horns standing up. The noble grand's mask resembles a very old man's face, with a long beard and nose. The warden is the same. The vice-graud's resembles an ugly old man's face, without a beard, and a tremendous nose. The brothers wear all sorts and sizes. There is an election every quarter for a new noble and vice-grand, and a secretary. The noble grand receives a medal of silver the value of one guinea. This medal represents a blazing star; in the centre is a representation of Noodle the Fourth's head. The vice-grand receives one of the value of ten shillings. And the secretary receives seven shillings per quarter.
The following is the form of an initiation :-“ Lodge night, Nov. 1825; Past Grand Taylor proposes Mr. Robert Wellford, of Kensington, to become a brother noodle of this order, seconded by Past Grand Silverthorn." The noble noodle gives it out, “ That all you who are brothers of this lodge, that are of opvion, that the said Robert Wellford shall become a brother noodle of this our order, being every way qualified, that is to say, is du bailiff, or bailiff's follower, no common informer, no apprentice, and has obtained the age of twenty-one years, signify the same by holding up your right hand.” This being done, two past grands are sent down stairs to inspect the new noodle, to see that he is every way qualified. The warden prepares for the initiation. The brother who has proposed the new noodle goes and brings him to the door of the lodge, and gives three knocks. The guardian answers, and asks, “ Who comes there?” The answer is, “ A gentleman regularly proposed, who wishes to be initiated into our most honourable order.” The guardian reports to the noble grand, and he receives an order to admit him. In opening the door be makes as much noise as possible with the chain that crosses it, as the new noodle enters, all the brothers make a great noise with scraping their feet on the foor. The guardian takes noodle by the collar and says, “ In whom do you put your trust?" Noodle answers, “ In God.” The guardian leads him to the warden, and tells him to observe that venerable character sitting before him. Noodle is told to place his hands under the guardiau's arms and lift bim up; but he must be very careful, for he is very old and infirm. As soon as noodle has lifted him up, the warden seizes him by tbe collar of the shirt with a violence that often breaks cloth, or stitches, or buttons, and says, in a fierce tone, “ Stand, thou presumptuous mortal, and know, that the best and wisest of men have been Odd Fellows in all ages.
Are you come here with an evil eye, or wrangling disposition, to peep and
“ Brothers attentive stand,
Gives you the charge," &c. &c. &c. This song is sung while the noble grand's two supporters undraw the curtains of the canopy, for the noble grand is in secret during the whole time of the initiation until now; he is pretending to be asleep. The right hand supporter tells Noodle he has come at a very bad time, for the noble grand is taking his slumber. Noodle is asked if he will come another night, or have it over now. He says, “I will bave it over now." The right hand supporter gives the noble grand a shake, and tells him a stranger stands before him. The noble grand says, “ How gained he admittance within these, close and strong walls ?" He is told, by the recommendation of a worthy brother. The noble grand says, “ Where is he?” “ Here he is, quiz him, most noble grand, why he looks like an Odd Fellow already, and no doubt, under our present disguise, he takes us for such. But learn, stranger, learn, not to judge persons by their outward appearance alone; for sorry am I to say, that mankind oftentimes prove deceitful, and I think here is a proof of it." Noodle is told to make a very low bow. While he is doing this, all the brothers slip off their masks. Noodle is then shewn the signs; the first is the entering sign, which is three separate knocks on the door. The guardian reports to the noble grand, and he reports again, Then the door is opened. The next is the pass-word, which is, to place the fore finger of your right hand up to the right side of your nose, and let it fall carelessly on your left breast. This is to denote the word, should
you be asked for it. The word is, “ upon my honour.” The grip is done by placing your two first fingers and thumb of your right hand to the two first fingers and thumb of the brother's, the same as shaking hands, making them form a link. Noodle is told to attend the secretary, and pay three shillings and one penny, and sit down and make himself comfortable. The form of opening and closing the lodge is the same as given by your female correspondent. I believe, Sir, that I have given a general outline of the order, so that any person can be made an Odd Fellow by purchasing one of your books.
With best thanks for the excellent exposure you have given of Masonry, and with hopes that you will so expose every secret association. I am glad to hear you have gained your liberty, and I hope the final triumph over your persecuting tyrants. I remain, Sir, your well-wisher and brother Odd Fellow,
AN OLD PAST GRAND.
TO MR. RICHARD CARLILE.
Dec: 2, 1825. I HAPPENED to see a few evenings ago at the house of a friend, the first number of The Republican, published after your liberation. The imperious and dogmatical strain in which you exact the reader's acquiescence in Atheism, seems to me no less bigoted and absurd than the conduct of the Pope when he requires all the faithful to believe that God is a wafer. As that, however, is rather a matter of taste than of philosophy, I shall proceed at once to discuss the correctness of your position, in stating that Theism and Atheism differ only in the letter A. I must first apologize for intruding upon you my difficulties, because not being a reader of your Republican, I am not at all familiar with your mode of handling these abstractions, and, perhaps, I may use reflections which you have already disposed of in the course of your labours. If so, you may, perhaps, nevertheless, condescend to enlighten my ignorance “ex cathedra” in an early number.
The “point" at which Theism diverges from Atheism, if I perceive it correctly, lies in this :- The Theist thinks the Creation exhibits proofs of design; if there is design, then a designer, and that designer he calls God. All this, I presume, the Atheist denies.
Without knowing precisely what set of opinions you embrace under the general term of Theism, I take it for granted, that I am not far distant in the above definition, from the sense in which you employ the word, since you occupy some space in the same pamphlet with a confused ramble about “ Intelligence;" the real amount of which strikes me to be this. that your atheistical disciples are forbidden by you to believe in any intelligence which they have not themselves seen in action, whereas I can see no good reason why I should lay aside the habit I have contracted of inferring intelligence when I see its result.
In order to confine the present communication to a very narrow compass and professing myself altogether unskilled in atheistical logic, I beg most humbly to consult you as my “guide, philosopher, and friend," iu the selection of some undeniable facts in the universe around us, and which appear to me to involve directly the question of design or no design. a distinction more material than any quality in the letter A. I hear that much to the credit of your industry, you have employed your prison hours