Reginald Bailey, Esq: A Denouncement of Spinoza

Filed under: , by: Nick M

For those of you that didn't know, I moonlight as a preserver of old and damaged texts. Its really very fun, and occasionally I get to run across one that interests me or has something to say about philosophy. Below I have transcribed the introduction to one such text by Reginald Bailey Esq. As far as i can tell it should be dated around 1678 or 79 (a year or so after the posthumous publication of Spinoza's Ethics) and was delivered at a meeting of the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge. Enjoy.

New Developments In Medicines Produced From the Secretions of Brook Newts

Wherein is Displayed the Results of Such Secretions as Applied to Fox Bites and other Wounds of Similar Kind

Reginald Bailey Esq.

Doctor of Medicine and Natural Philosophy

Master of Divinity

Friends and Colleagues, I am delighted to present to you today the findings of my many experiments in natural philosophy, regarding the use of some medicines prepared from the slime of brook newts and applied to the open wounds of several patients. The results are very surprising, for not even I could have guessed the many varied effects they produced, but there comes something of much greater importance which I must first address. There was a man, now departed to just punishment in realms below our own, of most dubious character and vile thought. I speak of Benedict de Spinoza, that Heretic of foul infamy, which the whole learned world has rightfully despised. To enumerate his many anathemas would be akin to cursing. Thankfully, our wives and daughters have not the capacity for science and so have not attended our meeting, thus allowing me to curse without concern or remorse. This man, Spinoza, saw fit to disguise atheism with sophistry; he suggests, ignoring the important work of the illustrious Descartes, there be but one single extended substance and furthermore suggests that this substance be indistinguishable from the one we know as God. But if there be only God, wherefore is the world? Here is the rub he hopes to disguise, for we know there to be a world and we know there to be a God, yet there be only one thing in extension. May my soul be forgiven for restating this demonic thesis, God be the world! Is this not that foolish opinion we know to be atheism; a clever atheism it is, but a rank and odorous atheism all the same. Would I have known that such a thesis lie in his demonstrations, I would have sought Spinoza out of his wicked brooding, fastened him to a pyre and danced with the vigor of a false prophet of Baal as he writhed in just agony. Spinoza, however, escaped proper punishment, though no doubt his soul writhes in similarly fitting agony in the depths of eternal damnation. Yet, his book, replete with corruption and hubris, is still among us. It should be our goal as men of letters and learning to seek out such a book and cast it to earthly flames, in hopes of shielding others from falsehoods. I hope you will all join me in this newest crusade, if not for pure reasons and a love of truth, then for the reward no doubt guaranteed to us in the afterlife for undertaking such holy work.

Now, onto the studies of my patients. The first case regards a drunkard of some renown, by whom i found myself under employment after first leaving my studies. He ran afoul a fox during a hunting trip and received a bite upon the hand. I decided to apply my newest medicines which i derived from the secretions of brook Newts I had collected in my last visit to France. My benefactor later died from the fox bite, my medicine applied to late to prevent the infection that first lost my sponsor his hand and later his life. I immediately began preparing stronger, less diluted forms of solution...

That's all of the text I've been able to reconstruct for now. Hope you found it as interesting as I did.