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´╗┐Title: Essays on Life, Art and Science
Author: Butler, Samuel, 1835-1902
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1908 A. C. Fifield edition by David Price, email






At the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh.


Quis Desiderio?
Ramblings in Cheapside
The Aunt, The Nieces, and the Dog
How to make the best of life
The Sanctuary of Montrigone
A Medieval Girl School
Art in the Valley of Saas
Thought and Language
The Deadlock in Darwinism


It is hardly necessary to apologise for the miscellaneous character of
the following collection of essays.  Samuel Butler was a man of such
unusual versatility, and his interests were so many and so various that
his literary remains were bound to cover a wide field.  Nevertheless it
will be found that several of the subjects to which he devoted much time
and labour are not represented in these pages.  I have not thought it
necessary to reprint any of the numerous pamphlets and articles which he
wrote upon the Iliad and Odyssey, since these were all merged in "The
Authoress of the Odyssey," which gives his matured views upon everything
relating to the Homeric poems.  For a similar reason I have not included
an essay on the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which he
printed in 1865 for private circulation, since he subsequently made
extensive use of it in "The Fair Haven."

Two of the essays in this collection were originally delivered as
lectures; the remainder were published in _The Universal Review_ during
1888, 1889, and 1890.

I should perhaps explain why two other essays of his, which also appeared
in _The Universal Review_, have been omitted.

The first of these, entitled "L'Affaire Holbein-Rippel," relates to a
drawing of Holbein's "Danse des Paysans," in the Basle Museum, which is
usually described as a copy, but which Butler believed to be the work of
Holbein himself.  This essay requires to be illustrated in so elaborate a
manner that it was impossible to include it in a book of this size.

The second essay, which is a sketch of the career of the sculptor
Tabachetti, was published as the first section of an article entitled "A
Sculptor and a Shrine," of which the second section is here given under
the title, "The Sanctuary of Montrigone."  The section devoted to the
sculptor represents all that Butler then knew about Tabachetti, but since
it was written various documents have come to light, principally owing to
the investigations of Cavaliere Francesco Negri, of Casale Monferrato,
which negative some of Butler's most cherished conclusions.  Had Butler
lived he would either have rewritten his essay in accordance with
Cavaliere Negri's discoveries, of which he fully recognised the value, or
incorporated them into the revised edition of "Ex Voto," which he
intended to publish.  As it stands, the essay requires so much revision
that I have decided to omit it altogether, and to postpone giving English
readers a full account of Tabachetti's career until a second edition of
"Ex Voto" is required.  Meanwhile I have given a brief summary of the
main facts of Tabachetti's life in a note (page 154) to the essay on "Art
in the Valley of Saas."  Any one who wishes for further details of the
sculptor and his work will find them in Cavaliere Negri's pamphlet, "Il
Santuario di Crea" (Alessandria, 1902).

The three essays grouped together under the title of "The Deadlock in
Darwinism" may be regarded as a postscript to Butler's four books on
evolution, viz., "Life and Habit," "Evolution, Old and New," "Unconscious
Memory" and "Luck or Cunning."  An occasion for the publication of these
essays seemed to be afforded by the appearance in 1889 of Mr. Alfred
Russel Wallace's "Darwinism"; and although nearly fourteen years have
elapsed since they were published in the _Universal Review_, I have no
fear that they will be found to be out of date.  How far, indeed, the
problem embodied in the deadlock of which Butler speaks is from solution
was conclusively shown by the correspondence which appeared in the
_Times_ in May 1903, occasioned by some remarks made at University
College by Lord Kelvin in moving a vote of thanks to Professor Henslow
after his lecture on "Present Day Rationalism."  Lord Kelvin's claim for
a recognition of the fact that in organic nature scientific thought is
compelled to accept the idea of some kind of directive power, and his
statement that biologists are coming once more to a firm acceptance of a
vital principle, drew from several distinguished men of science retorts
heated enough to prove beyond a doubt that the gulf between the two main
divisions of evolutionists is as wide to-day as it was when Butler wrote.
It will be well, perhaps, for the benefit of readers who have not
followed the history of the theory of evolution during its later
developments, to state in a few words what these two main divisions are.
All evolutionists agree that the differences between species are caused
by the accumulation and transmission of variations, but they do not agree
as to the causes to which the variations are due.  The view held by the
older evolutionists, Buffon, Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck, who have been
followed by many modern thinkers, including Herbert Spencer and Butler,
is that the variations occur mainly as the result of effort and design;
the opposite view, which is that advocated by Mr. Wallace in "Darwinism,"
is that the variations occur merely as the result of chance.  The former
is sometimes called the theological view, because it recognises the
presence in organic nature of design, whether it be called creative
power, directive force, directivity, or vital principle; the latter view,
in which the existence of design is absolutely negatived, is now usually
described as Weismannism, from the name of the writer who has been its
principal advocate in recent years.

In conclusion, I must thank my friend Mr. Henry Festing Jones most warmly
for the invaluable assistance which he has given me in preparing these
essays for publication, in correcting the proofs, and in compiling the
introduction and notes.


QUIS DESIDERIO . . . ? {1}

Like Mr. Wilkie Collins, I, too, have been asked to lay some of my
literary experiences before the readers of the _Universal Review_.  It
occurred to me that the _Review_ must be indeed universal before it could
open its pages to one so obscure as myself; but, nothing daunted by the
distinguished company among which I was for the first time asked to move,
I resolved to do as I was told, and went to the British Museum to see
what books I had written.  Having refreshed my memory by a glance at the
catalogue, I was about to try and diminish the large and ever-increasing
circle of my non-readers when I became aware of a calamity that brought
me to a standstill, and indeed bids fair, so far as I can see at present,
to put an end to my literary existence altogether.

I should explain that I cannot write unless I have a sloping desk, and
the reading-room of the British Museum, where alone I can compose freely,
is unprovided with sloping desks.  Like every other organism, if I cannot
get exactly what I want I make shift with the next thing to it; true,
there are no desks in the reading-room, but, as I once heard a visitor
from the country say, "it contains a large number of very interesting
works."  I know it was not right, and hope the Museum authorities will
not be severe upon me if any of them reads this confession; but I wanted
a desk, and set myself to consider which of the many very interesting
works which a grateful nation places at the disposal of its would-be
authors was best suited for my purpose.

For mere reading I suppose one book is pretty much as good as another;
but the choice of a desk-book is a more serious matter.  It must be
neither too thick nor too thin; it must be large enough to make a
substantial support; it must be strongly bound so as not to yield or
give; it must not be too troublesome to carry backwards and forwards; and
it must live on shelf C, D, or E, so that there need be no stooping or
reaching too high.  These are the conditions which a really good book
must fulfil; simple, however, as they are, it is surprising how few
volumes comply with them satisfactorily; moreover, being perhaps too
sensitively conscientious, I allowed another consideration to influence
me, and was sincerely anxious not to take a book which would be in
constant use for reference by readers, more especially as, if I did this,
I might find myself disturbed by the officials.

For weeks I made experiments upon sundry poetical and philosophical
works, whose names I have forgotten, but could not succeed in finding my
ideal desk, until at length, more by luck than cunning, I happened to
light upon Frost's "Lives of Eminent Christians," which I had no sooner
tried than I discovered it to be the very perfection and _ne plus ultra_
of everything that a book should be.  It lived in Case No. 2008, and I
accordingly took at once to sitting in Row B, where for the last dozen
years or so I have sat ever since.

The first thing I have done whenever I went to the Museum has been to
take down Frost's "Lives of Eminent Christians" and carry it to my seat.
It is not the custom of modern writers to refer to the works to which
they are most deeply indebted, and I have never, that I remember,
mentioned it by name before; but it is to this book alone that I have
looked for support during many years of literary labour, and it is round
this to me invaluable volume that all my own have page by page grown up.
There is none in the Museum to which I have been under anything like such
constant obligation, none which I can so ill spare, and none which I
would choose so readily if I were allowed to select one single volume and
keep it for my own.

On finding myself asked for a contribution to the _Universal Review_, I
went, as I have explained, to the Museum, and presently repaired to
bookcase No. 2008 to get my favourite volume.  Alas! it was in the room
no longer.  It was not in use, for its place was filled up already;
besides, no one ever used it but myself.  Whether the ghost of the late
Mr. Frost has been so eminently unchristian as to interfere, or whether
the authorities have removed the book in ignorance of the steady demand
which there has been for it on the part of at least one reader, are
points I cannot determine.  All I know is that the book is gone, and I
feel as Wordsworth is generally supposed to have felt when he became
aware that Lucy was in her grave, and exclaimed so emphatically that this
would make a considerable difference to him, or words to that effect.

Now I think of it, Frost's "Lives of Eminent Christians" was very like
Lucy.  The one resided at Dovedale in Derbyshire, the other in Great
Russell Street, Bloomsbury.  I admit that I do not see the resemblance
here at this moment, but if I try to develop my perception I shall
doubtless ere long find a marvellously striking one.  In other respects,
however, than mere local habitat the likeness is obvious.  Lucy was not
particularly attractive either inside or out--no more was Frost's "Lives
of Eminent Christians"; there were few to praise her, and of those few
still fewer could bring themselves to like her; indeed, Wordsworth
himself seems to have been the only person who thought much about her one
way or the other.  In like manner, I believe I was the only reader who
thought much one way or the other about Frost's "Lives of Eminent
Christians," but this in itself was one of the attractions of the book;
and as for the grief we respectively felt and feel, I believe my own to
be as deep as Wordsworth's, if not more so.

I said above, "as Wordsworth is generally supposed to have felt"; for any
one imbued with the spirit of modern science will read Wordsworth's poem
with different eyes from those of a mere literary critic.  He will note
that Wordsworth is most careful not to explain the nature of the
difference which the death of Lucy will occasion to him.  He tells us
that there will be a difference; but there the matter ends.  The
superficial reader takes it that he was very sorry she was dead; it is,
of course, possible that he may have actually been so, but he has not
said this.  On the contrary, he has hinted plainly that she was ugly, and
generally disliked; she was only like a violet when she was half-hidden
from the view, and only fair as a star when there were so few stars out
that it was practically impossible to make an invidious comparison.  If
there were as many as even two stars the likeness was felt to be at an
end.  If Wordsworth had imprudently promised to marry this young person
during a time when he had been unusually long in keeping to good
resolutions, and had afterwards seen some one whom he liked better, then
Lucy's death would undoubtedly have made a considerable difference to
him, and this is all that he has ever said that it would do.  What right
have we to put glosses upon the masterly reticence of a poet, and credit
him with feelings possibly the very reverse of those he actually

Sometimes, indeed, I have been inclined to think that a mystery is being
hinted at more dark than any critic has suspected.  I do not happen to
possess a copy of the poem, but the writer, if I am not mistaken, says
that "few could know when Lucy ceased to be."  "Ceased to be" is a
suspiciously euphemistic expression, and the words "few could know" are
not applicable to the ordinary peaceful death of a domestic servant such
as Lucy appears to have been.  No matter how obscure the deceased, any
number of people commonly can know the day and hour of his or her demise,
whereas in this case we are expressly told it would be impossible for
them to do so.  Wordsworth was nothing if not accurate, and would not
have said that few could know, but that few actually did know, unless he
was aware of circumstances that precluded all but those implicated in the
crime of her death from knowing the precise moment of its occurrence.  If
Lucy was the kind of person not obscurely pourtrayed in the poem; if
Wordsworth had murdered her, either by cutting her throat or smothering
her, in concert, perhaps, with his friends Southey and Coleridge; and if
he had thus found himself released from an engagement which had become
irksome to him, or possibly from the threat of an action for breach of
promise, then there is not a syllable in the poem with which he crowns
his crime that is not alive with meaning.  On any other supposition to
the general reader it is unintelligible.

We cannot be too guarded in the interpretations we put upon the words of
great poets.  Take the young lady who never loved the dear gazelle--and I
don't believe she did; we are apt to think that Moore intended us to see
in this creation of his fancy a sweet, amiable, but most unfortunate
young woman, whereas all he has told us about her points to an exactly
opposite conclusion.  In reality, he wished us to see a young lady who
had been an habitual complainer from her earliest childhood; whose plants
had always died as soon as she bought them, while those belonging to her
neighbours had flourished.  The inference is obvious, nor can we
reasonably doubt that Moore intended us to draw it; if her plants were
the very first to fade away, she was evidently the very first to neglect
or otherwise maltreat them.  She did not give them enough water, or left
the door of her fern-ease open when she was cooking her dinner at the gas
stove, or kept them too near the paraffin oil, or other like folly; and
as for her temper, see what the gazelles did; as long as they did not
know her "well," they could just manage to exist, but when they got to
understand her real character, one after another felt that death was the
only course open to it, and accordingly died rather than live with such a
mistress.  True, the young lady herself said the gazelles loved her; but
disagreeable people are apt to think themselves amiable, and in view of
the course invariably taken by the gazelles themselves any one accustomed
to weigh evidence will hold that she was probably mistaken.

I must, however, return to Frost's "Lives of Eminent Christians."  I will
leave none of the ambiguity about my words in which Moore and Wordsworth
seem to have delighted.  I am very sorry the book is gone, and know not
where to turn for its successor.  Till I have found a substitute I can
write no more, and I do not know how to find even a tolerable one.  I
should try a volume of Migne's "Complete Course of Patrology," but I do
not like books in more than one volume, for the volumes vary in
thickness, and one never can remember which one took; the four volumes,
however, of Bede in Giles's "Anglican Fathers" are not open to this
objection, and I have reserved them for favourable consideration.
Mather's "Magnalia" might do, but the binding does not please me;
Cureton's "Corpus Ignatianum" might also do if it were not too thin.  I
do not like taking Norton's "Genuineness of the Gospels," as it is just
possible some one may be wanting to know whether the Gospels are genuine
or not, and be unable to find out because I have got Mr. Norton's book.
Baxter's "Church History of England," Lingard's "Anglo-Saxon Church," and
Cardwell's "Documentary Annals," though none of them as good as Frost,
are works of considerable merit; but on the whole I think Arvine's
"Cyclopedia of Moral and Religious Anecdote" is perhaps the one book in
the room which comes within measurable distance of Frost.  I should
probably try this book first, but it has a fatal objection in its too
seductive title.  "I am not curious," as Miss Lottie Venne says in one of
her parts, "but I like to know," and I might be tempted to pervert the
book from its natural uses and open it, so as to find out what kind of a
thing a moral and religious anecdote is.  I know, of course, that there
are a great many anecdotes in the Bible, but no one thinks of calling
them either moral or religious, though some of them certainly seem as if
they might fairly find a place in Mr. Arvine's work.  There are some
things, however, which it is better not to know, and take it all round I
do not think I should be wise in putting myself in the way of temptation,
and adopting Arvine as the successor to my beloved and lamented Frost.

Some successor I must find, or I must give up writing altogether, and
this I should be sorry to do.  I have only as yet written about a third,
or from that--counting works written but not published--to a half, of the
books which I have set myself to write.  It would not so much matter if
old age was not staring me in the face.  Dr. Parr said it was "a beastly
shame for an old man not to have laid down a good cellar of port in his
youth"; I, like the greater number, I suppose, of those who write books
at all, write in order that I may have something to read in my old age
when I can write no longer.  I know what I shall like better than any one
can tell me, and write accordingly; if my career is nipped in the bud, as
seems only too likely, I really do not know where else I can turn for
present agreeable occupation, nor yet how to make suitable provision for
my later years.  Other writers can, of course, make excellent provision
for their own old ages, but they cannot do so for mine, any more than I
should succeed if I were to try to cater for theirs.  It is one of those
cases in which no man can make agreement for his brother.

I have no heart for continuing this article, and if I had, I have nothing
of interest to say.  No one's literary career can have been smoother or
more unchequered than mine.  I have published all my books at my own
expense, and paid for them in due course.  What can be conceivably more
unromantic?  For some years I had a little literary grievance against the
authorities of the British Museum because they would insist on saying in
their catalogue that I had published three sermons on Infidelity in the
year 1820.  I thought I had not, and got them out to see.  They were
rather funny, but they were not mine.  Now, however, this grievance has
been removed.  I had another little quarrel with them because they would
describe me as "of St. John's College, Cambridge," an establishment for
which I have the most profound veneration, but with which I have not had
the honour to be connected for some quarter of a century.  At last they
said they would change this description if I would only tell them what I
was, for, though they had done their best to find out, they had
themselves failed.  I replied with modest pride that I was a Bachelor of
Arts.  I keep all my other letters inside my name, not outside.  They
mused and said it was unfortunate that I was not a Master of Arts.  Could
I not get myself made a Master?  I said I understood that a Mastership
was an article the University could not do under about five pounds, and
that I was not disposed to go sixpence higher than three ten.  They again
said it was a pity, for it would be very inconvenient to them if I did
not keep to something between a bishop and a poet.  I might be anything I
liked in reason, provided I showed proper respect for the alphabet; but
they had got me between "Samuel Butler, bishop," and "Samuel Butler,
poet."  It would be very troublesome to shift me, and bachelor came
before bishop.  This was reasonable, so I replied that, under those
circumstances, if they pleased, I thought I would like to be a
philosophical writer.  They embraced the solution, and, no matter what I
write now, I must remain a philosophical writer as long as I live, for
the alphabet will hardly be altered in my time, and I must be something
between "Bis" and "Poe."  If I could get a volume of my excellent
namesake's "Hudibras" out of the list of my works, I should be robbed of
my last shred of literary grievance, so I say nothing about this, but
keep it secret, lest some worse thing should happen to me.  Besides, I
have a great respect for my namesake, and always say that if "Erewhon"
had been a racehorse it would have been got by "Hudibras" out of
"Analogy."  Some one said this to me many years ago, and I felt so much
flattered that I have been repeating the remark as my own ever since.

But how small are these grievances as compared with those endured without
a murmur by hundreds of writers far more deserving than myself.  When I
see the scores and hundreds of workers in the reading-room who have done
so much more than I have, but whose work is absolutely fruitless to
themselves, and when I think of the prompt recognition obtained by my own
work, I ask myself what I have done to be thus rewarded.  On the other
hand, the feeling that I have succeeded far beyond my deserts hitherto,
makes it all the harder for me to acquiesce without complaint in the
extinction of a career which I honestly believe to be a promising one;
and once more I repeat that, unless the Museum authorities give me back
my Frost, or put a locked clasp on Arvine, my career must be
extinguished.  Give me back Frost, and, if life and health are spared, I
will write another dozen of volumes yet before I hang up my fiddle--if so
serious a confusion of metaphors may be pardoned.  I know from long
experience how kind and considerate both the late and present
superintendents of the reading-room were and are, but I doubt how far
either of them would be disposed to help me on this occasion; continue,
however, to rob me of my Frost, and, whatever else I may do, I will write
no more books.

_Note by Dr. Garnett_, _British Museum_.--The frost has broken up.  Mr.
Butler is restored to literature.  Mr. Mudie may make himself easy.
England will still boast a humourist; and the late Mr. Darwin (to whose
posthumous machinations the removal of the book was owing) will continue
to be confounded.--R. GANNETT.


Walking the other day in Cheapside I saw some turtles in Mr. Sweeting's
window, and was tempted to stay and look at them.  As I did so I was
struck not more by the defences with which they were hedged about, than
by the fatuousness of trying to hedge that in at all which, if hedged
thoroughly, must die of its own defencefulness.  The holes for the head
and feet through which the turtle leaks out, as it were, on to the
exterior world, and through which it again absorbs the exterior world
into itself--"catching on" through them to things that are thus both
turtle and not turtle at one and the same time--these holes stultify the
armour, and show it to have been designed by a creature with more of
faithfulness to a fixed idea, and hence one-sidedness, than of that quick
sense of relative importances and their changes, which is the main factor
of good living.

The turtle obviously had no sense of proportion; it differed so widely
from myself that I could not comprehend it; and as this word occurred to
me, it occurred also that until my body comprehended its body in a
physical material sense, neither would my mind be able to comprehend its
mind with any thoroughness.  For unity of mind can only be consummated by
unity of body; everything, therefore, must be in some respects both knave
and fool to all that which has not eaten it, or by which it has not been
eaten.  As long as the turtle was in the window and I in the street
outside, there was no chance of our comprehending one another.

Nevertheless I knew that I could get it to agree with me if I could so
effectually button-hole and fasten on to it as to eat it.  Most men have
an easy method with turtle soup, and I had no misgiving but that if I
could bring my first premise to bear I should prove the better reasoner.
My difficulty lay in this initial process, for I had not with me the
argument that would alone compel Mr. Sweeting think that I ought to be
allowed to convert the turtles--I mean I had no money in my pocket.  No
missionary enterprise can be carried on without any money at all, but
even so small a sum as half-a-crown would, I suppose, have enabled me to
bring the turtle partly round, and with many half-crowns I could in time
no doubt convert the lot, for the turtle needs must go where the money
drives.  If, as is alleged, the world stands on a turtle, the turtle
stands on money.  No money no turtle.  As for money, that stands on
opinion, credit, trust, faith--things that, though highly material in
connection with money, are still of immaterial essence.

The steps are perfectly plain.  The men who caught the turtles brought a
fairly strong and definite opinion to bear upon them, that passed into
action, and later on into money.  They thought the turtles would come
that way, and verified their opinion; on this, will and action were
generated, with the result that the men turned the turtles on their backs
and carried them off.  Mr. Sweeting touched these men with money, which
is the outward and visible sign of verified opinion.  The customer
touches Mr. Sweeting with money, Mr. Sweeting touches the waiter and the
cook with money.  They touch the turtle with skill and verified opinion.
Finally, the customer applies the clinching argument that brushes all
sophisms aside, and bids the turtle stand protoplasm to protoplasm with
himself, to know even as it is known.

But it must be all touch, touch, touch; skill, opinion, power, and money,
passing in and out with one another in any order we like, but still link
to link and touch to touch.  If there is failure anywhere in respect of
opinion, skill, power, or money, either as regards quantity or quality,
the chain can be no stronger than its weakest link, and the turtle and
the clinching argument will fly asunder.  Of course, if there is an
initial failure in connection, through defect in any member of the chain,
or of connection between the links, it will no more be attempted to bring
the turtle and the clinching argument together, than it will to chain up
a dog with two pieces of broken chain that are disconnected.  The contact
throughout must be conceived as absolute; and yet perfect contact is
inconceivable by us, for on becoming perfect it ceases to be contact, and
becomes essential, once for all inseverable, identity.  The most absolute
contact short of this is still contact by courtesy only.  So here, as
everywhere else, Eurydice glides off as we are about to grasp her.  We
can see nothing face to face; our utmost seeing is but a fumbling of
blind finger-ends in an overcrowded pocket.

Presently my own blind finger-ends fished up the conclusion, that as I
had neither time nor money to spend on perfecting the chain that would
put me in full spiritual contact with Mr. Sweeting's turtles, I had
better leave them to complete their education at some one else's expense
rather than mine, so I walked on towards the Bank.  As I did so it struck
me how continually we are met by this melting of one existence into
another.  The limits of the body seem well defined enough as definitions
go, but definitions seldom go far.  What, for example, can seem more
distinct from a man than his banker or his solicitor?  Yet these are
commonly so much parts of him that he can no more cut them off and grow
new ones, than he can grow new legs or arms; neither must he wound his
solicitor; a wound in the solicitor is a very serious thing.  As for his
bank--failure of his bank's action may be as fatal to a man as failure of
his heart.  I have said nothing about the medical or spiritual adviser,
but most men grow into the society that surrounds them by the help of
these four main tap-roots, and not only into the world of humanity, but
into the universe at large.  We can, indeed, grow butchers, bakers, and
greengrocers, almost _ad libitum_, but these are low developments, and
correspond to skin, hair, or finger-nails.  Those of us again who are not
highly enough organised to have grown a solicitor or banker can generally
repair the loss of whatever social organisation they may possess as
freely as lizards are said to grow new tails; but this with the higher
social, as well as organic, developments is only possible to a very
limited extent.

The doctrine of metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls--a doctrine to
which the foregoing considerations are for the most part easy
corollaries--crops up no matter in what direction we allow our thoughts
to wander.  And we meet instances of transmigration of body as well as of
soul.  I do not mean that both body and soul have transmigrated together,
far from it; but that, as we can often recognise a transmigrated mind in
an alien body, so we not less often see a body that is clearly only a
transmigration, linked on to some one else's new and alien soul.  We meet
people every day whose bodies are evidently those of men and women long
dead, but whose appearance we know through their portraits.  We see them
going about in omnibuses, railway carriages, and in all public places.
The cards have been shuffled, and they have drawn fresh lots in life and
nationalities, but any one fairly well up in mediaeval and last century
portraiture knows them at a glance.

Going down once towards Italy I saw a young man in the train whom I
recognised, only he seemed to have got younger.  He was with a friend,
and his face was in continual play, but for some little time I puzzled in
vain to recollect where it was that I had seen him before.  All of a
sudden I remembered he was King Francis I. of France.  I had hitherto
thought the face of this king impossible, but when I saw it in play I
understood it.  His great contemporary Henry VIII. keeps a restaurant in
Oxford Street.  Falstaff drove one of the St. Gothard diligences for many
years, and only retired when the railway was opened.  Titian once made me
a pair of boots at Vicenza, and not very good ones.  At Modena I had my
hair cut by a young man whom I perceived to be Raffaelle.  The model who
sat to him for his celebrated Madonnas is first lady in a confectionery
establishment at Montreal.  She has a little motherly pimple on the left
side of her nose that is misleading at first, but on examination she is
readily recognised; probably Raffaelle's model had the pimple too, but
Raffaelle left it out--as he would.

Handel, of course, is Madame Patey.  Give Madame Patey Handel's wig and
clothes, and there would be no telling her from Handel.  It is not only
that the features and the shape of the head are the same, but there is a
certain imperiousness of expression and attitude about Handel which he
hardly attempts to conceal in Madame Patey.  It is a curious coincidence
that he should continue to be such an incomparable renderer of his own
music.  Pope Julius II. was the late Mr. Darwin.  Rameses II. is a blind
woman now, and stands in Holborn, holding a tin mug.  I never could
understand why I always found myself humming "They oppressed them with
burthens" when I passed her, till one day I was looking in Mr. Spooner's
window in the Strand, and saw a photograph of Rameses II.  Mary Queen of
Scots wears surgical boots and is subject to fits, near the Horse Shoe in
Tottenham Court Road.

Michael Angelo is a commissionaire; I saw him on board the _Glen Rosa_,
which used to run every day from London to Clacton-on-Sea and back.  It
gave me quite a turn when I saw him coming down the stairs from the upper
deck, with his bronzed face, flattened nose, and with the familiar bar
upon his forehead.  I never liked Michael Angelo, and never shall, but I
am afraid of him, and was near trying to hide when I saw him coming
towards me.  He had not got his commissionaire's uniform on, and I did
not know he was one till I met him a month or so later in the Strand.
When we got to Blackwall the music struck up and people began to dance.  I
never saw a man dance so much in my life.  He did not miss a dance all
the way to Clacton, nor all the way back again, and when not dancing he
was flirting and cracking jokes.  I could hardly believe my eyes when I
reflected that this man had painted the famous "Last Judgment," and had
made all those statues.

Dante is, or was a year or two ago, a waiter at Brissago on the Lago
Maggiore, only he is better-tempered-looking, and has a more intellectual
expression.  He gave me his ideas upon beauty: "Tutto ch' e vero e
bello," he exclaimed, with all his old self-confidence.  I am not afraid
of Dante.  I know people by their friends, and he went about with Virgil,
so I said with some severity, "No, Dante, il naso della Signora Robinson
e vero, ma non e bello"; and he admitted I was right.  Beatrice's name is
Towler; she is waitress at a small inn in German Switzerland.  I used to
sit at my window and hear people call "Towler, Towler, Towler," fifty
times in a forenoon.  She was the exact antithesis to Abra; Abra, if I
remember, used to come before they called her name, but no matter how
often they called Towler, every one came before she did.  I suppose they
spelt her name Taula, but to me it sounded Towler; I never, however, met
any one else with this name.  She was a sweet, artless little hussy, who
made me play the piano to her, and she said it was lovely.  Of course I
only played my own compositions; so I believed her, and it all went off
very nicely.  I thought it might save trouble if I did not tell her who
she really was, so I said nothing about it.

I met Socrates once.  He was my muleteer on an excursion which I will not
name, for fear it should identify the man.  The moment I saw my guide I
knew he was somebody, but for the life of me I could not remember who.
All of a sudden it flashed across me that he was Socrates.  He talked
enough for six, but it was all in _dialetto_, so I could not understand
him, nor, when I had discovered who he was, did I much try to do so.  He
was a good creature, a trifle given to stealing fruit and vegetables, but
an amiable man enough.  He had had a long day with his mule and me, and
he only asked me five francs.  I gave him ten, for I pitied his poor old
patched boots, and there was a meekness about him that touched me.  "And
now, Socrates," said I at parting, "we go on our several ways, you to
steal tomatoes, I to filch ideas from other people; for the rest--which
of these two roads will be the better going, our father which is in
heaven knows, but we know not."

I have never seen Mendelssohn, but there is a fresco of him on the
terrace, or open-air dining-room, of an inn at Chiavenna.  He is not
called Mendelssohn, but I knew him by his legs.  He is in the costume of
a dandy of some five-and-forty years ago, is smoking a cigar, and appears
to be making an offer of marriage to his cook.  Beethoven both my friend
Mr. H. Festing Jones and I have had the good fortune to meet; he is an
engineer now, and does not know one note from another; he has quite lost
his deafness, is married, and is, of course, a little squat man with the
same refractory hair that he always had.  It was very interesting to
watch him, and Jones remarked that before the end of dinner he had become
positively posthumous.  One morning I was told the Beethovens were going
away, and before long I met their two heavy boxes being carried down the
stairs.  The boxes were so squab and like their owners, that I half
thought for a moment that they were inside, and should hardly have been
surprised to see them spring up like a couple of Jacks-in-the-box.  "Sono
indentro?" said I, with a frown of wonder, pointing to the boxes.  The
porters knew what I meant, and laughed.  But there is no end to the list
of people whom I have been able to recognise, and before I had got
through it myself, I found I had walked some distance, and had
involuntarily paused in front of a second-hand bookstall.

I do not like books.  I believe I have the smallest library of any
literary man in London, and I have no wish to increase it.  I keep my
books at the British Museum and at Mudie's, and it makes me very angry if
any one gives me one for my private library.  I once heard two ladies
disputing in a railway carriage as to whether one of them had or had not
been wasting money.  "I spent it in books," said the accused, "and it's
not wasting money to buy books."  "Indeed, my dear, I think it is," was
the rejoinder, and in practice I agree with it.  Webster's Dictionary,
Whitaker's Almanack, and Bradshaw's Railway Guide should be sufficient
for any ordinary library; it will be time enough to go beyond these when
the mass of useful and entertaining matter which they provide has been
mastered.  Nevertheless, I admit that sometimes, if not particularly
busy, I stop at a second-hand bookstall and turn over a book or two from
mere force of habit.

I know not what made me pick up a copy of AEschylus--of course in an
English version--or rather I know not what made AEschylus take up with
me, for he took me rather than I him; but no sooner had he got me than he
began puzzling me, as he has done any time this forty years, to know
wherein his transcendent merit can be supposed to lie.  To me he is, like
the greater number of classics in all ages and countries, a literary
Struldbrug, rather than a true ambrosia-fed immortal.  There are true
immortals, but they are few and far between; most classics are as great
impostors dead as they were when living, and while posing as gods are,
five-sevenths of them, only Struldbrugs.  It comforts me to remember that
Aristophanes liked AEschylus no better than I do.  True, he praises him
by comparison with Sophocles and Euripides, but he only does so that he
may run down these last more effectively.  Aristophanes is a safe man to
follow, nor do I see why it should not be as correct to laugh with him as
to pull a long face with the Greek Professors; but this is neither here
nor there, for no one really cares about AEschylus; the more interesting
question is how he contrived to make so many people for so many years
pretend to care about him.

Perhaps he married somebody's daughter.  If a man would get hold of the
public ear, he must pay, marry, or fight.  I have never understood that
AEschylus was a man of means, and the fighters do not write poetry, so I
suppose he must have married a theatrical manager's daughter, and got his
plays brought out that way.  The ear of any age or country is like its
land, air, and water; it seems limitless but is really limited, and is
already in the keeping of those who naturally enough will have no
squatting on such valuable property.  It is written and talked up to as
closely as the means of subsistence are bred up to by a teeming
population.  There is not a square inch of it but is in private hands,
and he who would freehold any part of it must do so by purchase,
marriage, or fighting, in the usual way--and fighting gives the longest,
safest tenure.  The public itself has hardly more voice in the question
who shall have its ear, than the land has in choosing its owners.  It is
farmed as those who own it think most profitable to themselves, and small
blame to them; nevertheless, it has a residuum of mulishness which the
land has not, and does sometimes dispossess its tenants.  It is in this
residuum that those who fight place their hope and trust.

Or perhaps AEschylus squared the leading critics of his time.  When one
comes to think of it, he must have done so, for how is it conceivable
that such plays should have had such runs if he had not?  I met a lady
one year in Switzerland who had some parrots that always travelled with
her and were the idols of her life.  These parrots would not let any one
read aloud in their presence, unless they heard their own names
introduced from time to time.  If these were freely interpolated into the
text they would remain as still as stones, for they thought the reading
was about themselves.  If it was not about them it could not be allowed.
The leaders of literature are like these parrots; they do not look at
what a man writes, nor if they did would they understand it much better
than the parrots do; but they like the sound of their own names, and if
these are freely interpolated in a tone they take as friendly, they may
even give ear to an outsider.  Otherwise they will scream him off if they

I should not advise any one with ordinary independence of mind to attempt
the public ear unless he is confident that he can out-lung and out-last
his own generation; for if he has any force, people will and ought to be
on their guard against him, inasmuch as there is no knowing where he may
not take them.  Besides, they have staked their money on the wrong men so
often without suspecting it, that when there comes one whom they do
suspect it would be madness not to bet against him.  True, he may die
before he has out-screamed his opponents, but that has nothing to do with
it.  If his scream was well pitched it will sound clearer when he is
dead.  We do not know what death is.  If we know so little about life
which we have experienced, how shall we know about death which we have
not--and in the nature of things never can?  Every one, as I said years
ago in "Alps and Sanctuaries," is an immortal to himself, for he cannot
know that he is dead until he is dead, and when dead how can he know
anything about anything?  All we know is, that even the humblest dead may
live long after all trace of the body has disappeared; we see them doing
it in the bodies and memories of those that come after them; and not a
few live so much longer and more effectually than is desirable, that it
has been necessary to get rid of them by Act of Parliament.  It is love
that alone gives life, and the truest life is that which we live not in
ourselves but vicariously in others, and with which we have no concern.
Our concern is so to order ourselves that we may be of the number of them
that enter into life--although we know it not.

AEschylus did so order himself; but his life is not of that inspiriting
kind that can be won through fighting the good fight only--or being
believed to have fought it.  His voice is the echo of a drone,
drone-begotten and drone-sustained.  It is not a tone that a man must
utter or die--nay, even though he die; and likely enough half the
allusions and hard passages in AEschylus of which we can make neither
head nor tail are in reality only puffs of some of the literary leaders
of his time.

The lady above referred to told me more about her parrots.  She was like
a Nasmyth's hammer going slow--very gentle, but irresistible.  She always
read the newspaper to them.  What was the use of having a newspaper if
one did not read it to one's parrots?

"And have you divined," I asked, "to which side they incline in

"They do not like Mr. Gladstone," was the somewhat freezing answer; "this
is the only point on which we disagree, for I adore him.  Don't ask more
about this, it is a great grief to me.  I tell them everything," she
continued, "and hide no secret from them."

"But can any parrot be trusted to keep a secret?"

"Mine can."

"And on Sundays do you give them the same course of reading as on a week-
day, or do you make a difference?"

"On Sundays I always read them a genealogical chapter from the Old or New
Testament, for I can thus introduce their names without profanity.  I
always keep tea by me in case they should ask for it in the night, and I
have an Etna to warm it for them; they take milk and sugar.  The old
white-headed clergyman came to see them last night; it was very painful,
for Jocko reminded him so strongly of his late . . . "

I thought she was going to say "wife," but it proved to have been only of
a parrot that he had once known and loved.

One evening she was in difficulties about the quarantine, which was
enforced that year on the Italian frontier.  The local doctor had gone
down that morning to see the Italian doctor and arrange some details.
"Then, perhaps, my dear," she said to her husband, "he is the
quarantine."  "No, my love," replied her husband.  "The quarantine is not
a person, it is a place where they put people"; but she would not be
comforted, and suspected the quarantine as an enemy that might at any
moment pounce out upon her and her parrots.  So a lady told me once that
she had been in like trouble about the anthem.  She read in her prayer-
book that in choirs and places where they sing "here followeth the
anthem," yet the person with this most mysteriously sounding name never
did follow.  They had a choir, and no one could say the church was not a
place where they sang, for they did sing--both chants and hymns.  Why,
then, this persistent slackness on the part of the anthem, who at this
juncture should follow her papa, the rector, into the reading-desk?  No
doubt he would come some day, and then what would he be like?  Fair or
dark?  Tall or short?  Would he be bald and wear spectacles like papa, or
would he be young and good-looking?  Anyhow, there was something wrong,
for it was announced that he would follow, and he never did follow;
therefore there was no knowing what he might not do next.

I heard of the parrots a year or two later as giving lessons in Italian
to an English maid.  I do not know what their terms were.  Alas! since
then both they and their mistress have joined the majority.  When the
poor lady felt her end was near she desired (and the responsibility for
this must rest with her, not me) that the birds might be destroyed, as
fearing that they might come to be neglected, and knowing that they could
never be loved again as she had loved them.  On being told that all was
over, she said, "Thank you," and immediately expired.

Reflecting in such random fashion, and strolling with no greater method,
I worked my way back through Cheapside and found myself once more in
front of Sweeting's window.  Again the turtles attracted me.  They were
alive, and so far at any rate they agreed with me.  Nay, they had eyes,
mouths, legs, if not arms, and feet, so there was much in which we were
both of a mind, but surely they must be mistaken in arming themselves so
very heavily.  Any creature on getting what the turtle aimed at would
overreach itself and be landed not in safety but annihilation.  It should
have no communion with the outside world at all, for death could creep in
wherever the creature could creep out; and it must creep out somewhere if
it was to hook on to outside things.  What death can be more absolute
than such absolute isolation?  Perfect death, indeed, if it were
attainable (which it is not), is as near perfect security as we can
reach, but it is not the kind of security aimed at by any animal that is
at the pains of defending itself.  For such want to have things both
ways, desiring the livingness of life without its perils, and the safety
of death without its deadness, and some of us do actually get this for a
considerable time, but we do not get it by plating ourselves with armour
as the turtle does.  We tried this in the Middle Ages, and no longer mock
ourselves with the weight of armour that our forefathers carried in
battle.  Indeed the more deadly the weapons of attack become the more we
go into the fight slug-wise.

Slugs have ridden their contempt for defensive armour as much to death as
the turtles their pursuit of it.  They have hardly more than skin enough
to hold themselves together; they court death every time they cross the
road.  Yet death comes not to them more than to the turtle, whose
defences are so great that there is little left inside to be defended.
Moreover, the slugs fare best in the long run, for turtles are dying out,
while slugs are not, and there must be millions of slugs all the world
over for every single turtle.  Of the two vanities, therefore, that of
the slug seems most substantial.

In either case the creature thinks itself safe, but is sure to be found
out sooner or later; nor is it easy to explain this mockery save by
reflecting that everything must have its meat in due season, and that
meat can only be found for such a multitude of mouths by giving
everything as meat in due season to something else.  This is like the
Kilkenny cats, or robbing Peter to pay Paul; but it is the way of the
world, and as every animal must contribute in kind to the picnic of the
universe, one does not see what better arrangement could be made than the
providing each race with a hereditary fallacy, which shall in the end get
it into a scrape, but which shall generally stand the wear and tear of
life for some time.  "_Do ut des_" is the writing on all flesh to him
that eats it; and no creature is dearer to itself than it is to some
other that would devour it.

Nor is there any statement or proposition more invulnerable than living
forms are.  Propositions prey upon and are grounded upon one another just
like living forms.  They support one another as plants and animals do;
they are based ultimately on credit, or faith, rather than the cash of
irrefragable conviction.  The whole universe is carried on on the credit
system, and if the mutual confidence on which it is based were to
collapse, it must itself collapse immediately.  Just or unjust, it lives
by faith; it is based on vague and impalpable opinion that by some
inscrutable process passes into will and action, and is made manifest in
matter and in flesh: it is meteoric--suspended in midair; it is the
baseless fabric of a vision so vast, so vivid, and so gorgeous that no
base can seem more broad than such stupendous baselessness, and yet any
man can bring it about his ears by being over-curious; when faith fails a
system based on faith fails also.

Whether the universe is really a paying concern, or whether it is an
inflated bubble that must burst sooner or later, this is another matter.
If people were to demand cash payment in irrefragable certainty for
everything that they have taken hitherto as paper money on the credit of
the bank of public opinion, is there money enough behind it all to stand
so great a drain even on so great a reserve?  Probably there is not, but
happily there can be no such panic, for even though the cultured classes
may do so, the uncultured are too dull to have brains enough to commit
such stupendous folly.  It takes a long course of academic training to
educate a man up to the standard which he must reach before he can
entertain such questions seriously, and by a merciful dispensation of
Providence, university training is almost as costly as it is
unprofitable.  The majority will thus be always unable to afford it, and
will base their opinions on mother wit and current opinion rather than on

So I turned my steps homewards; I saw a good many more things on my way
home, but I was told that I was not to see more this time than I could
get into twelve pages of the _Universal Review_; I must therefore reserve
any remark which I think might perhaps entertain the reader for another


When a thing is old, broken, and useless we throw it on the dust-heap,
but when it is sufficiently old, sufficiently broken, and sufficiently
useless we give money for it, put it into a museum, and read papers over
it which people come long distances to hear.  By-and-by, when the
whirligig of time has brought on another revenge, the museum itself
becomes a dust-heap, and remains so till after long ages it is
re-discovered, and valued as belonging to a neo-rubbish age--containing,
perhaps, traces of a still older paleo-rubbish civilisation.  So when
people are old, indigent, and in all respects incapable, we hold them in
greater and greater contempt as their poverty and impotence increase,
till they reach the pitch when they are actually at the point to die,
whereon they become sublime.  Then we place every resource our hospitals
can command at their disposal, and show no stint in our consideration for

It is the same with all our interests.  We care most about extremes of
importance and of unimportance; but extremes of importance are tainted
with fear, and a very imperfect fear casteth out love.  Extremes of
unimportance cannot hurt us, therefore we are well disposed towards them;
the means may come to do so, therefore we do not love them.  Hence we
pick a fly out of a milk-jug and watch with pleasure over its recovery,
for we are confident that under no conceivable circumstances will it want
to borrow money from us; but we feel less sure about a mouse, so we show
it no quarter.  The compilers of our almanacs well know this tendency of
our natures, so they tell us, not when Noah went into the ark, nor when
the temple of Jerusalem was dedicated, but that Lindley Murray,
grammarian, died January 16, 1826.  This is not because they could not
find so many as three hundred and sixty-five events of considerable
interest since the creation of the world, but because they well know we
would rather hear of something less interesting.  We care most about what
concerns us either very closely, or so little that practically we have
nothing whatever to do with it.

I once asked a young Italian, who professed to have a considerable
knowledge of English literature, which of all our poems pleased him best.
He replied without a moment's hesitation:--

   "Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
      The cow jumped over the moon;
   The little dog laughed to see such sport,
      And the dish ran away with the spoon."

He said this was better than anything in Italian.  They had Dante and
Tasso, and ever so many more great poets, but they had nothing comparable
to "Hey diddle diddle," nor had he been able to conceive how any one
could have written it.  Did I know the author's name, and had we given
him a statue?  On this I told him of the young lady of Harrow who would
go to church in a barrow, and plied him with whatever rhyming nonsense I
could call to mind, but it was no use; all of these things had an element
of reality that robbed them of half their charm, whereas "Hey diddle
diddle" had nothing in it that could conceivably concern him.

So again it is with the things that gall us most.  What is it that rises
up against us at odd times and smites us in the face again and again for
years after it has happened?  That we spent all the best years of our
life in learning what we have found to be a swindle, and to have been
known to be a swindle by those who took money for misleading us?  That
those on whom we most leaned most betrayed us?  That we have only come to
feel our strength when there is little strength left of any kind to feel?
These things will hardly much disturb a man of ordinary good temper.  But
that he should have said this or that little unkind and wanton saying;
that he should have gone away from this or that hotel and given a
shilling too little to the waiter; that his clothes were shabby at such
or such a garden-party--these things gall us as a corn will sometimes do,
though the loss of a limb way not be seriously felt.

I have been reminded lately of these considerations with more than common
force by reading the very voluminous correspondence left by my
grandfather, Dr. Butler, of Shrewsbury, whose memoirs I am engaged in
writing.  I have found a large number of interesting letters on subjects
of serious import, but must confess that it is to the hardly less
numerous lighter letters that I have been most attracted, nor do I feel
sure that my eminent namesake did not share my predilection.  Among other
letters in my possession I have one bundle that has been kept apart, and
has evidently no connection with Dr. Butler's own life.  I cannot use
these letters, therefore, for my book, but over and above the charm of
their inspired spelling, I find them of such an extremely trivial nature
that I incline to hope the reader may derive as much amusement from them
as I have done myself, and venture to give them the publicity here which
I must refuse them in my book.  The dates and signatures have, with the
exception of Mrs. Newton's, been carefully erased, but I have collected
that they were written by the two servants of a single lady who resided
at no great distance from London, to two nieces of the said lady who
lived in London itself.  The aunt never writes, but always gets one of
the servants to do so for her.  She appears either as "your aunt" or as
"She"; her name is not given, but she is evidently looked upon with a
good deal of awe by all who had to do with her.

The letters almost all of them relate to visits either of the aunt to
London, or of the nieces to the aunt's home, which, from occasional
allusions to hopping, I gather to have been in Kent, Sussex, or Surrey.  I
have arranged them to the best of my power, and take the following to be
the earliest.  It has no signature, but is not in the handwriting of the
servant who styles herself Elizabeth, or Mrs. Newton.  It runs:--

   "MADAM,--Your Aunt Wishes me to inform you she will be glad if you
   will let hir know if you think of coming To hir House thiss month or
   Next as she cannot have you in September on a kount of the Hoping If
   you ar coming she thinkes she had batter Go to London on the Day you
   com to hir House the says you shall have everry Thing raddy for you at
   hir House and Mrs. Newton to meet you and stay with you till She
   returnes a gann.

   "if you arnot Coming thiss Summer She will be in London before thiss
   Month is out and will Sleep on the Sofy As She willnot be in London
   more thann two nits. and She Says she willnot truble you on anny a
   kount as She Will returne the Same Day before She will plage you anny
   more. but She thanks you for asking hir to London. but She says She
   cannot leve the house at prassant She sayhir Survants ar to do for you
   as she cannot lodge yours nor she willnot have thim in at the house
   anny more to brake and destroy hir thinks and beslive hir and make up
   Lies by hir and Skandel as your too did She says she mens to pay fore
   2 Nits and one day, She says the Pepelwill let hir have it if you ask
   thim to let hir: you Will be so good as to let hir know sun: wish She
   is to do, as She says She dos not care anny thing a bout it. which way
   tiss she is batter than She was and desirs hir Love to bouth bouth.

   "Your aunt wises to know how the silk Clocks ar madup [how the silk
   cloaks are made up] with a Cape or a wood as she is a goin to have one
   madeup to rideout in in hir littel shas [chaise].

   "Charles is a butty and so good.

   "Mr & Mrs Newton ar quite wall & desires to be remembered to you."

I can throw no light on the meaning of the verb to "beslive."  Each
letter in the MS. is so admirably formed that there can be no question
about the word being as I have given it.  Nor have I been able to
discover what is referred to by the words "Charles is a butty and so
good."  We shall presently meet with a Charles who "flies in the Fier,"
but that Charles appears to have been in London, whereas this one is
evidently in Kent, or wherever the aunt lived.

The next letter is from Mrs. Newton

   "DER MISS ---, I Receve your Letter your Aunt is vary Ill and
   Lowspireted I Donte think your Aunt wood Git up all Day if My Sister
   Wasnot to Persage her We all Think hir lif is two monopolous. you Wish
   to know Who Was Liveing With your Aunt. that is My Sister and
   Willian--and Cariline--as Cock and Old Poll Pepper is Come to Stay
   With her a Littel Wile and I hoped [hopped] for Your Aunt, and Harry
   has Worked for your Aunt all the Summer.  Your Aunt and Harry Whent to
   the Wells Races and Spent a very Pleasant Day your Aunt has Lost Old
   Fanney Sow She Died about a Week a Go Harry he Wanted your Aunt to
   have her killed and send her to London and Shee Wold Fech her 11
   pounds the Farmers have Lost a Greet Deal of Cattel such as Hogs and
   Cows What theay call the Plage I Whent to your Aunt as you Wish Mee to
   Do But She Told Mee She Did not wont aney Boddy She Told Mee She
   Should Like to Come up to see you But She Cant Come know for she is
   Boddyley ill and Harry Donte Work there know But he Go up there Once
   in Two or Three Day Harry Offered is self to Go up to Live With your
   Aunt But She Made him know Ancer.  I hay Been up to your Aunt at Work
   for 5 Weeks Hopping and Ragluting Your Aunt Donte Eat nor Drink But
   vary Littel indeed.

   "I am Happy to Say We are Both Quite Well and I am Glad no hear you
   are Both Quite Well


This seems to have made the nieces propose to pay a visit to their aunt,
perhaps to try and relieve the monopoly of her existence and cheer her up
a little.  In their letter, doubtless, the dog motive is introduced that
is so finely developed presently by Mrs. Newton.  I should like to have
been able to give the theme as enounced by the nieces themselves, but
their letters are not before me.  Mrs. Newton writes:--

   "MY DEAR GIRLS,--Your Aunt receiv your Letter your Aunt will Be vary
   glad to see you as it quite a greeable if it tis to you and Shee is
   Quite Willing to Eair the beds and the Rooms if you Like to Trust to
   hir and the Servantes; if not I may Go up there as you Wish.  My
   Sister Sleeps in the Best Room as she allways Did and the Coock in the
   garret and you Can have the Rooms the same as you allways Did as your
   Aunt Donte set in the Parlour She Continlery Sets in the Ciching. your
   Aunt says she Cannot Part from the dog know hows and She Says he will
   not hurt you for he is Like a Child and I can safeley say My Self he
   wonte hurt you as She Cannot Sleep in the Room With out him as he
   allWay Sleep in the Same Room as She Dose. your Aunt is agreeable to
   Git in What Coles and Wood you Wish for I am know happy to say your
   Aunt is in as Good health as ever She Was and She is happy to hear you
   are Both Well your Aunt Wishes for Ancer By Return of Post."

The nieces replied that their aunt must choose between the dog and them,
and Mrs. Newton sends a second letter which brings her development to a
climax.  It runs:--

   "DEAR MISS ---, I have Receve your Letter and i Whent up to your Aunt
   as you Wish me and i Try to Perveal With her about the Dog But she
   Wold not Put the Dog away nor it alow him to Be Tied up But She Still
   Wishes you to Come as Shee says the Dog Shall not interrup you for She
   Donte alow the Dog nor it the Cats to Go in the Parlour never sence
   She has had it Donup ferfere of Spoiling the Paint your Aunt think it
   vary Strange you Should Be so vary Much afraid of a Dog and She says
   you Cant Go out in London But What you are up a gance one and She says
   She Wonte Trust the Dog in know one hands But her Owne for She is
   afraid theay Will not fill is Belley as he Lives upon Rost Beeff and
   Rost and Boil Moutten Wich he Eats More then the Servantes in the
   House there is not aney One Wold Beable to Give Sattefacktion upon
   that account Harry offerd to Take the Dog But She Wood not Trust him
   in our hands so I Cold not Do aney thing With her your Aunt youse to
   Tell Me When we was at your House in London She Did not know how to
   make you amens and i Told her know it was the Time to Do it But i
   Considder She sets the Dog Before you your Aunt keep know Beer know
   Sprits know Wines in the House of aney Sort Oneley a Little Barl of
   Wine I made her in the Summer the Workmen and servantes are a Blige to
   Drink wauter Morning Noon and Night your Aunt the Same She Donte Low
   her Self aney Tee nor Coffee But is Loocking Wonderful Well

   "I Still Remane your Humble Servant Mrs Newton

   "I am vary sorry to think the Dog Perventes your Comeing

   "I am Glad to hear you are Both Well and we are the same."

The nieces remained firm, and from the following letter it is plain the
aunt gave way.  The dog motive is repeated _pianissimo_, and is not
returned to--not at least by Mrs. Newton.

   "DEAR MISS ---, I Receve your Letter on Thursday i Whent to your Aunt
   and i see her and She is a Greable to everry thing i asked her and
   seme so vary Much Please to see you Both Next Tuseday and she has sent
   for the Faggots to Day and she Will Send for the Coles to Morrow and i
   will Go up there to Morrow Morning and Make the Fiers and Tend to the
   Beds and sleep in it Till you Come Down your Aunt sends her Love to
   you Both and she is Quite well your Aunt Wishes you wold Write againe
   Before you Come as she ma Expeckye and the Dog is not to Gointo the
   Parlor a Tall

   "your Aunt kind Love to you Both & hopes you Wonte Fail in Coming
   according to Prommis


From a later letter it appears that the nieces did not pay their visit
after all, and what is worse a letter had miscarried, and the aunt sat up
expecting them from seven till twelve at night, and Harry had paid for
"Faggots and Coles quarter of Hund.  Faggots Half tun of Coles 1_l._
1_s._ 3_d._"  Shortly afterwards, however, "She" again talks of coming up
to London herself and writes through her servant--

   "My Dear girls i Receve your kind letter & I am happy to hear you ar
   both Well and I Was in hopes of seeing of you Both Down at My House
   this spring to stay a Wile I am Quite well my self in Helth But vary
   Low Spireted I am vary sorry to hear the Misforting of Poor charles &
   how he cum to flie in the Fier I cannot think.  I should like to know
   if he is dead or a Live, and I shall come to London in August & stay
   three or four daies if it is agreable to you.  Mrs. Newton has lost
   her mother in Law 4 day March & I hope you send me word Wather charles
   is Dead or a Live as soon as possible, and will you send me word what
   Little Betty is for I cannot make her out."

The next letter is a new handwriting, and tells the nieces of their
aunt's death in the the following terms:--

   "DEAR MISS ---, It is my most painful duty to inform you that your
   dear aunt expired this morning comparatively easy as Hannah informs me
   and in so doing restored her soul to the custody of him whom she
   considered to be alone worthy of its care.

   "The doctor had visited her about five minutes previously and had
   applied a blister.

   "You and your sister will I am sure excuse further details at present
   and believe me with kindest remembrances to remain

   "Yours truly, &c."

After a few days a lawyer's letter informs the nieces that their aunt had
left them the bulk of her not very considerable property, but had charged
them with an annuity of 1 pound a week to be paid to Harry and Mrs.
Newton so long as the dog lived.

The only other letters by Mrs. Newton are written on paper of a different
and more modern size; they leave an impression of having been written a
good many years later.  I take them as they come.  The first is very

   "DEAR MISS ---, i write to say i cannot possiblely come on Wednesday
   as we have killed a pig.  your's truely,


The second runs:--

   "DEAR MISS ---, i hope you are both quite well in health & your Leg
   much better i am happy to say i am getting quite well again i hope
   Amandy has reached you safe by this time i sent a small parcle by
   Amandy, there was half a dozen Pats of butter & the Cakes was very
   homely and not so light as i could wish i hope by this time Sarah Ann
   has promised she will stay untill next monday as i think a few daies
   longer will not make much diferance and as her young man has been very
   considerate to wait so long as he has i think he would for a few days
   Longer dear Miss --- I wash for William and i have not got his clothes
   yet as it has been delayed by the carrier & i cannot possiblely get it
   done before Sunday and i do not Like traviling on a Sunday but to
   oblige you i would come but to come sooner i cannot possiblely but i
   hope Sarah Ann will be prevailed on once more as She has so many times
   i feel sure if she tells her young man he will have patient for he is
   a very kind young man

   "i remain your sincerely

The last letter in my collection seems written almost within measurable
distance of the Christmas-card era.  The sheet is headed by a beautifully
embossed device of some holly in red and green, wishing the recipient of
the letter a merry Xmas and a happy new year, while the border is crimped
and edged with blue.  I know not what it is, but there is something in
the writer's highly finished style that reminds me of Mendelssohn.  It
would almost do for the words of one of his celebrated "Lieder ohne

   "DEAR MISS MARIA,--I hasten to acknowledge the receipt of your kind
   note with the inclosure for which I return my best thanks.  I need
   scarcely say how glad I was to know that the volumes secured your
   approval, and that the announcement of the improvement in the
   condition of your Sister's legs afforded me infinite pleasure.  The
   gratifying news encouraged me in the hope that now the nature of the
   disorder is comprehended her legs will--notwithstanding the process
   may be gradual--ultimately get quite well.  The pretty Robin Redbreast
   which lay ensconced in your epistle, conveyed to me, in terms more
   eloquent than words, how much you desired me those Compliments which
   the little missive he bore in his bill expressed; the emblem is
   sweetly pretty, and now that we are again allowed to felicitate each
   other on another recurrence of the season of the Christian's
   rejoicing, permit me to tender to yourself, and by you to your Sister,
   mine and my Wife's heartfelt congratulations and warmest wishes with
   respect to the coming year.  It is a common belief that if we take a
   retrospective view of each departing year, as it behoves us annually
   to do, we shall find the blessings which we have received to
   immeasurably outnumber our causes of sorrow.  Speaking for myself I
   can fully subscribe to that sentiment, and doubtless neither Miss ---
   nor yourself are exceptions.  Miss ---'s illness and consequent
   confinement to the house has been a severe trial, but in that trouble
   an opportunity was afforded you to prove a Sister's devotion and she
   has been enabled to realise a larger (if possible) display of sisterly

   "A happy Christmas to you both, and may the new year prove a
   Cornucopia from which still greater blessings than even those we have
   hitherto received, shall issue, to benefit us all by contributing to
   our temporal happiness and, what is of higher importance, conducing to
   our felicity hereafter.

   "I was sorry to hear that you were so annoyed with mice and rats, and
   if I should have an opportunity to obtain a nice cat I will do so and
   send my boy to your house with it.

   "I remain,
   "Yours truly."

How little what is commonly called education can do after all towards the
formation of a good style, and what a delightful volume might not be
entitled "Half Hours with the Worst Authors."  Why, the finest word I
know of in the English language was coined, not by my poor old
grandfather, whose education had left little to desire, nor by any of the
admirable scholars whom he in his turn educated, but by an old matron who
presided over one of the halls, or houses of his school.

This good lady, whose name by the way was Bromfield, had a fine high
temper of her own, or thought it politic to affect one.  One night when
the boys were particularly noisy she burst like a hurricane into the
hall, collared a youngster, and told him he was "the
ramp-ingest-scampingest-rackety-tackety-tow-row-roaringest boy in the
whole school."  Would Mrs. Newton have been able to set the aunt and the
dog before us so vividly if she had been more highly educated?  Would
Mrs. Bromfield have been able to forge and hurl her thunderbolt of a word
if she had been taught how to do so, or indeed been at much pains to
create it at all?  It came.  It was her [Greek text].  She did not
probably know that she had done what the greatest scholar would have had
to rack his brains over for many an hour before he could even approach.
Tradition says that having brought down her boy she looked round the hall
in triumph, and then after a moment's lull said, "Young gentlemen,
prayers are excused," and left them.

I have sometimes thought that, after all, the main use of a classical
education consists in the check it gives to originality, and the way in
which it prevents an inconvenient number of people from using their own
eyes.  That we will not be at the trouble of looking at things for
ourselves if we can get any one to tell us what we ought to see goes
without saying, and it is the business of schools and universities to
assist us in this respect.  The theory of evolution teaches that any
power not worked at pretty high pressure will deteriorate: originality
and freedom from affectation are all very well in their way, but we can
easily have too much of them, and it is better that none should be either
original or free from cant but those who insist on being so, no matter
what hindrances obstruct, nor what incentives are offered them to see
things through the regulation medium.

To insist on seeing things for oneself is to be in [Greek text], or in
plain English, an idiot; nor do I see any safer check against general
vigour and clearness of thought, with consequent terseness of expression,
than that provided by the curricula of our universities and schools of
public instruction.  If a young man, in spite of every effort to fit him
with blinkers, will insist on getting rid of them, he must do so at his
own risk.  He will not be long in finding out his mistake.  Our public
schools and universities play the beneficent part in our social scheme
that cattle do in forests: they browse the seedlings down and prevent the
growth of all but the luckiest and sturdiest.  Of course, if there are
too many either cattle or schools, they browse so effectually that they
find no more food, and starve till equilibrium is restored; but it seems
to be a provision of nature that there should always be these alternate
periods, during which either the cattle or the trees are getting the best
of it; and, indeed, without such provision we should have neither the one
nor the other.  At this moment the cattle, doubtless, are in the
ascendant, and if university extension proceeds much farther, we shall
assuredly have no more Mrs. Newtons and Mrs. Bromfields; but whatever is
is best, and, on the whole, I should propose to let things find pretty
much their own level.

However this may be, who can question that the treasures hidden in many a
country house contain sleeping beauties even fairer than those that I
have endeavoured to waken from long sleep in the foregoing article?  How
many Mrs. Quicklys are there not living in London at this present moment?
For that Mrs. Quickly was an invention of Shakespeare's I will not
believe.  The old woman from whom he drew said every word that he put
into Mrs. Quickly's mouth, and a great deal more which he did not and
perhaps could not make use of.  This question, however, would again lead
me far from my subject, which I should mar were I to dwell upon it
longer, and therefore leave with the hope that it may give my readers
absolutely no food whatever for reflection.


I have been asked to speak on the question how to make the best of life,
but may as well confess at once that I know nothing about it.  I cannot
think that I have made the best of my own life, nor is it likely that I
shall make much better of what may or may not remain to me.  I do not
even know how to make the best of the twenty minutes that your committee
has placed at my disposal, and as for life as a whole, who ever yet made
the best of such a colossal opportunity by conscious effort and
deliberation?  In little things no doubt deliberate and conscious effort
will help us, but we are speaking of large issues, and such kingdoms of
heaven as the making the best of these come not by observation.

The question, therefore, on which I have undertaken to address you is, as
you must all know, fatuous, if it be faced seriously.  Life is like
playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes
on.  One cannot make the best of such impossibilities, and the question
is doubly fatuous until we are told which of our two lives--the conscious
or the unconscious--is held by the asker to be the truer life.  Which
does the question contemplate--the life we know, or the life which others
may know, but which we know not?

Death gives a life to some men and women compared with which their so-
called existence here is as nothing.  Which is the truer life of
Shakespeare, Handel, that divine woman who wrote the "Odyssey," and of
Jane Austen--the life which palpitated with sensible warm motion within
their own bodies, or that in virtue of which they are still palpitating
in ours?  In whose consciousness does their truest life consist--their
own, or ours?  Can Shakespeare be said to have begun his true life till a
hundred years or so after he was dead and buried?  His physical life was
but as an embryonic stage, a coming up out of darkness, a twilight and
dawn before the sunrise of that life of the world to come which he was to
enjoy hereafter.  We all live for a while after we are gone hence, but we
are for the most part stillborn, or at any rate die in infancy, as
regards that life which every age and country has recognised as higher
and truer than the one of which we are now sentient.  As the life of the
race is larger, longer, and in all respects more to be considered than
that of the individual, so is the life we live in others larger and more
important than the one we live in ourselves.  This appears nowhere
perhaps more plainly than in the case of great teachers, who often in the
lives of their pupils produce an effect that reaches far beyond anything
produced while their single lives were yet unsupplemented by those other
lives into which they infused their own.

Death to such people is the ending of a short life, but it does not touch
the life they are already living in those whom they have taught; and
happily, as none can know when he shall die, so none can make sure that
he too shall not live long beyond the grave; for the life after death is
like money before it--no one can be sure that it may not fall to him or
her even at the eleventh hour.  Money and immortality come in such odd
unaccountable ways that no one is cut off from hope.  We may not have
made either of them for ourselves, but yet another may give them to us in
virtue of his or her love, which shall illumine us for ever, and
establish us in some heavenly mansion whereof we neither dreamed nor
shall ever dream.  Look at the Doge Loredano Loredani, the old man's
smile upon whose face has been reproduced so faithfully in so many lands
that it can never henceforth be forgotten--would he have had one
hundredth part of the life he now lives had he not been linked awhile
with one of those heaven-sent men who know _che cosa e amor_?  Look at
Rembrandt's old woman in our National Gallery; had she died before she
was eighty-three years old she would not have been living now.  Then,
when she was eighty-three, immortality perched upon her as a bird on a
withered bough.

I seem to hear some one say that this is a mockery, a piece of special
pleading, a giving of stones to those that ask for bread.  Life is not
life unless we can feel it, and a life limited to a knowledge of such
fraction of our work as may happen to survive us is no true life in other
people; salve it as we may, death is not life any more than black is

The objection is not so true as it sounds.  I do not deny that we had
rather not die, nor do I pretend that much even in the case of the most
favoured few can survive them beyond the grave.  It is only because this
is so that our own life is possible; others have made room for us, and we
should make room for others in our turn without undue repining.  What I
maintain is that a not inconsiderable number of people do actually attain
to a life beyond the grave which we can all feel forcibly enough, whether
they can do so or not--that this life tends with increasing civilisation
to become more and more potent, and that it is better worth considering,
in spite of its being unfelt by ourselves, than any which we have felt or
can ever feel in our own persons.

Take an extreme case.  A group of people are photographed by Edison's new
process--say Titiens, Trebelli, and Jenny Lind, with any two of the
finest men singers the age has known--let them be photographed
incessantly for half an hour while they perform a scene in "Lohengrin";
let all be done stereoscopically.  Let them be phonographed at the same
time so that their minutest shades of intonation are preserved, let the
slides be coloured by a competent artist, and then let the scene be
called suddenly into sight and sound, say a hundred years hence.  Are
those people dead or alive?  Dead to themselves they are, but while they
live so powerfully and so livingly in us, which is the greater paradox--to
say that they are alive or that they are dead?  To myself it seems that
their life in others would be more truly life than their death to
themselves is death.  Granted that they do not present all the phenomena
of life--who ever does so even when he is held to be alive?  We are held
to be alive because we present a sufficient number of living phenomena to
let the others go without saying; those who see us take the part for the
whole here as in everything else, and surely, in the case supposed above,
the phenomena of life predominate so powerfully over those of death, that
the people themselves must be held to be more alive than dead.  Our
living personality is, as the word implies, only our mask, and those who
still own such a mask as I have supposed have a living personality.
Granted again that the case just put is an extreme one; still many a man
and many a woman has so stamped him or herself on his work that, though
we would gladly have the aid of such accessories as we doubtless
presently shall have to the livingness of our great dead, we can see them
very sufficiently through the master pieces they have left us.

As for their own unconsciousness I do not deny it.  The life of the
embryo was unconscious before birth, and so is the life--I am speaking
only of the life revealed to us by natural religion--after death.  But as
the embryonic and infant life of which we were unconscious was the most
potent factor in our after life of consciousness, so the effect which we
may unconsciously produce in others after death, and it may be even
before it on those who have never seen us, is in all sober seriousness
our truer and more abiding life, and the one which those who would make
the best of their sojourn here will take most into their consideration.

Unconsciousness is no bar to livingness.  Our conscious actions are a
drop in the sea as compared with our unconscious ones.  Could we know all
the life that is in us by way of circulation, nutrition, breathing, waste
and repair, we should learn what an infinitesimally small part
consciousness plays in our present existence; yet our unconscious life is
as truly life as our conscious life, and though it is unconscious to
itself it emerges into an indirect and vicarious consciousness in our
other and conscious self, which exists but in virtue of our unconscious
self.  So we have also a vicarious consciousness in others.  The
unconscious life of those that have gone before us has in great part
moulded us into such men and women as we are, and our own unconscious
lives will in like manner have a vicarious consciousness in others,
though we be dead enough to it in ourselves.

If it is again urged that it matters not to us how much we may be alive
in others, if we are to know nothing about it, I reply that the common
instinct of all who are worth considering gives the lie to such cynicism.
I see here present some who have achieved, and others who no doubt will
achieve, success in literature.  Will one of them hesitate to admit that
it is a lively pleasure to her to feel that on the other side of the
world some one may be smiling happily over her work, and that she is thus
living in that person though she knows nothing about it?  Here it seems
to me that true faith comes in.  Faith does not consist, as the Sunday
School pupil said, "in the power of believing that which we know to be
untrue."  It consists in holding fast that which the healthiest and most
kindly instincts of the best and most sensible men and women are
intuitively possessed of, without caring to require much evidence further
than the fact that such people are so convinced; and for my own part I
find the best men and women I know unanimous in feeling that life in
others, even though we know nothing about it, is nevertheless a thing to
be desired and gratefully accepted if we can get it either before death
or after.  I observe also that a large number of men and women do
actually attain to such life, and in some cases continue so to live, if
not for ever, yet to what is practically much the same thing.  Our life
then in this world is, to natural religion as much as to revealed, a
period of probation.  The use we make of it is to settle how far we are
to enter into another, and whether that other is to be a heaven of just
affection or a hell of righteous condemnation.

Who, then, are the most likely so to run that they may obtain this
veritable prize of our high calling?  Setting aside such lucky numbers
drawn as it were in the lottery of immortality, which I have referred to
casually above, and setting aside also the chances and changes from which
even immortality is not exempt, who on the whole are most likely to live
anew in the affectionate thoughts of those who never so much as saw them
in the flesh, and know not even their names?  There is a _nisus_, a
straining in the dull dumb economy of things, in virtue of which some,
whether they will it and know it or no, are more likely to live after
death than others, and who are these?  Those who aimed at it as by some
great thing that they would do to make them famous?  Those who have lived
most in themselves and for themselves, or those who have been most
ensouled consciously, but perhaps better unconsciously, directly but more
often indirectly, by the most living souls past and present that have
flitted near them?  Can we think of a man or woman who grips us firmly,
at the thought of whom we kindle when we are alone in our honest daw's
plumes, with none to admire or shrug his shoulders, can we think of one
such, the secret of whose power does not lie in the charm of his or her
personality--that is to say, in the wideness of his or her sympathy with,
and therefore life in and communion with other people?  In the wreckage
that comes ashore from the sea of time there is much tinsel stuff that we
must preserve and study if we would know our own times and people;
granted that many a dead charlatan lives long and enters largely and
necessarily into our own lives; we use them and throw them away when we
have done with them.  I do not speak of these, I do not speak of the
Virgils and Alexander Popes, and who can say how many more whose names I
dare not mention for fear of offending.  They are as stuffed birds or
beasts in a Museum, serviceable no doubt from a scientific standpoint,
but with no vivid or vivifying hold upon us.  They seem to be alive, but
are not.  I am speaking of those who do actually live in us, and move us
to higher achievements though they be long dead, whose life thrusts out
our own and overrides it.  I speak of those who draw us ever more towards
them from youth to age, and to think of whom is to feel at once that we
are in the hands of those we love, and whom we would most wish to
resemble.  What is the secret of the hold that these people have upon us?
Is it not that while, conventionally speaking, alive, they most merged
their lives in, and were in fullest communion with those among whom they
lived?  They found their lives in losing them.  We never love the memory
of any one unless we feel that he or she was himself or herself a lover.

I have seen it urged, again, in querulous accents, that the so-called
immortality even of the most immortal is not for ever.  I see a passage
to this effect in a book that is making a stir as I write.  I will quote
it.  The writer says:--

   "So, it seems to me, is the immortality we so glibly predicate of
   departed artists.  If they survive at all, it is but a shadowy life
   they live, moving on through the gradations of slow decay to distant
   but inevitable death.  They can no longer, as heretofore, speak
   directly to the hearts of their fellow-men, evoking their tears or
   laughter, and all the pleasures, be they sad or merry, of which
   imagination holds the secret.  Driven from the marketplace they become
   first the companions of the student, then the victims of the
   specialist.  He who would still hold familiar intercourse with them
   must train himself to penetrate the veil which in ever-thickening
   folds conceals them from the ordinary gaze; he must catch the tone of
   a vanished society, he must move in a circle of alien associations, he
   must think in a language not his own." {5}

This is crying for the moon, or rather pretending to cry for it, for the
writer is obviously insincere.  I see the _Saturday Review_ says the
passage I have just quoted "reaches almost to poetry," and indeed I find
many blank verses in it, some of them very aggressive.  No prose is free
from an occasional blank verse, and a good writer will not go hunting
over his work to rout them out, but nine or ten in little more than as
many lines is indeed reaching too near to poetry for good prose.  This,
however, is a trifle, and might pass if the tone of the writer was not so
obviously that of cheap pessimism.  I know not which is cheapest,
pessimism or optimism.  One forces lights, the other darks; both are
equally untrue to good art, and equally sure of their effect with the
groundlings.  The one extenuates, the other sets down in malice.  The
first is the more amiable lie, but both are lies, and are known to be so
by those who utter them.  Talk about catching the tone of a vanished
society to understand Rembrandt or Giovanni Bellini!  It's nonsense--the
folds do not thicken in front of these men; we understand them as well as
those among whom they went about in the flesh, and perhaps better.  Homer
and Shakespeare speak to us probably far more effectually than they did
to the men of their own time, and most likely we have them at their best.
I cannot think that Shakespeare talked better than we hear him now in
"Hamlet" or "Henry the Fourth"; like enough he would have been found a
very disappointing person in a drawing-room.  People stamp themselves on
their work; if they have not done so they are naught; if they have we
have them; and for the most part they stamp themselves deeper in their
work than on their talk.  No doubt Shakespeare and Handel will be one day
clean forgotten, as though they had never been born.  The world will in
the end die; mortality therefore itself is not immortal, and when death
dies the life of these men will die with it--but not sooner.  It is
enough that they should live within us and move us for many ages as they
have and will.  Such immortality, therefore, as some men and women are
born to, achieve, or have thrust upon them, is a practical if not a
technical immortality, and he who would have more let him have nothing.

I see I have drifted into speaking rather of how to make the best of
death than of life, but who can speak of life without his thoughts
turning instantly to that which is beyond it?  He or she who has made the
best of the life after death has made the best of the life before it; who
cares one straw for any such chances and changes as will commonly befall
him here if he is upheld by the full and certain hope of everlasting life
in the affections of those that shall come after?  If the life after
death is happy in the hearts of others, it matters little how unhappy was
the life before it.

And now I leave my subject, not without misgiving that I shall have
disappointed you.  But for the great attention which is being paid to the
work from which I have quoted above, I should not have thought it well to
insist on points with which you are, I doubt not, as fully impressed as I
am: but that book weakens the sanctions of natural religion, and
minimises the comfort which it affords us, while it does more to
undermine than to support the foundations of what is commonly called
belief.  Therefore I was glad to embrace this opportunity of protesting.
Otherwise I should not have been so serious on a matter that transcends
all seriousness.  Lord Beaconsfield cut it shorter with more effect.  When
asked to give a rule of life for the son of a friend he said, "Do not let
him try and find out who wrote the letters of Junius."  Pressed for
further counsel he added, "Nor yet who was the man in the iron mask"--and
he would say no more.  Don't bore people.  And yet I am by no means sure
that a good many people do not think themselves ill-used unless he who
addresses them has thoroughly well bored them--especially if they have
paid any money for hearing him.  My great namesake said, "Surely the
pleasure is as great of being cheated as to cheat," and great as the
pleasure both of cheating and boring undoubtedly is, I believe he was
right.  So I remember a poem which came out some thirty years ago in
_Punch_, about a young lady who went forth in quest to "Some burden make
or burden bear, but which she did not greatly care, oh Miserie."  So,
again, all the holy men and women who in the Middle Ages professed to
have discovered how to make the best of life took care that being bored,
if not cheated, should have a large place in their programme.  Still
there are limits, and I close not without fear that I may have exceeded


The only place in the Valsesia, except Varallo, where I at present
suspect the presence of Tabachetti {7} is at Montrigone, a little-known
sanctuary dedicated to St. Anne, about three-quarters of a mile south of
Borgo-Sesia station.  The situation is, of course, lovely, but the
sanctuary does not offer any features of architectural interest.  The
sacristan told me it was founded in 1631; and in 1644 Giovanni d'Enrico,
while engaged in superintending and completing the work undertaken here
by himself and Giacomo Ferro, fell ill and died.  I do not know whether
or no there was an earlier sanctuary on the same site, but was told it
was built on the demolition of a stronghold belonging to the Counts of

The incidents which it illustrates are treated with even more than the
homeliness usual in works of this description when not dealing with such
solemn events as the death and passion of Christ.  Except when these
subjects were being represented, something of the latitude, and even
humour, allowed in the old mystery plays was permitted, doubtless from a
desire to render the work more attractive to the peasants, who were the
most numerous and most important pilgrims.  It is not until faith begins
to be weak that it fears an occasionally lighter treatment of semi-sacred
subjects, and it is impossible to convey an accurate idea of the spirit
prevailing at this hamlet of sanctuary without attuning oneself somewhat
to the more pagan character of the place.  Of irreverence, in the sense
of a desire to laugh at things that are of high and serious import, there
is not a trace, but at the same time there is a certain unbending of the
bow at Montrigone which is not perceivable at Varallo.

The first chapel to the left on entering the church is that of the Birth
of the Virgin.  St. Anne is sitting up in bed.  She is not at all ill--in
fact, considering that the Virgin has only been born about five minutes,
she is wonderful; still the doctors think it may be perhaps better that
she should keep her room for half an hour longer, so the bed has been
festooned with red and white paper roses, and the counterpane is covered
with bouquets in baskets and in vases of glass and china.  These cannot
have been there during the actual birth of the Virgin, so I suppose they
had been in readiness, and were brought in from an adjoining room as soon
as the baby had been born.  A lady on her left is bringing in some more
flowers, which St. Anne is receiving with a smile and most gracious
gesture of the hands.  The first thing she asked for, when the birth was
over, was for her three silver hearts.  These were immediately brought to
her, and she has got them all on, tied round her neck with a piece of
blue silk ribbon.

Dear mamma has come.  We felt sure she would, and that any little
misunderstandings between her and Joachim would ere long be forgotten and
forgiven.  They are both so good and sensible if they would only
understand one another.  At any rate, here she is, in high state at the
right hand of the bed.  She is dressed in black, for she has lost her
husband some few years previously, but I do not believe a smarter, sprier
old lady for her years could be found in Palestine, nor yet that either
Giovanni d'Enrico or Giacomo Ferro could have conceived or executed such
a character.  The sacristan wanted to have it that she was not a woman at
all, but was a portrait of St. Joachim, the Virgin's father.  "Sembra una
donna," he pleaded more than once, "ma non e donna."  Surely, however, in
works of art even more than in other things, there is no "is" but
seeming, and if a figure seems female it must be taken as such.  Besides,
I asked one of the leading doctors at Varallo whether the figure was man
or woman.  He said it was evident I was not married, for that if I had
been I should have seen at once that she was not only a woman but a
mother-in-law of the first magnitude, or, as he called it, "una suocera
tremenda," and this without knowing that I wanted her to be a mother-in-
law myself.  Unfortunately she had no real drapery, so I could not settle
the question as my friend Mr. H. F. Jones and I had been able to do at
Varallo with the figure of Eve that had been turned into a Roman soldier
assisting at the capture of Christ.  I am not, however, disposed to waste
more time upon anything so obvious, and will content myself with saying
that we have here the Virgin's grandmother.  I had never had the
pleasure, so far as I remembered, of meeting this lady before, and was
glad to have an opportunity of making her acquaintance.

Tradition says that it was she who chose the Virgin's name, and if so,
what a debt of gratitude do we not owe her for her judicious selection!
It makes one shudder to think what might have happened if she had named
the child Keren-Happuch, as poor Job's daughter was called.  How could we
have said, "Ave Keren-Happuch!"  What would the musicians have done?  I
forget whether Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz was a man or a woman, but there were
plenty of names quite as unmanageable at the Virgin's grandmother's
option, and we cannot sufficiently thank her for having chosen one that
is so euphonious in every language which we need take into account.  For
this reason alone we should not grudge her her portrait, but we should
try to draw the line here.  I do not think we ought to give the Virgin's
great-grandmother a statue.  Where is it to end?  It is like Mr.
Crookes's ultimissimate atoms; we used to draw the line at ultimate
atoms, and now it seems we are to go a step farther back and have
ultimissimate atoms.  How long, I wonder, will it be before we feel that
it will be a material help to us to have ultimissimissimate atoms?
Quavers stopped at demi-semi-demi, but there is no reason to suppose that
either atoms or ancestresses of the Virgin will be so complacent.

I have said that on St. Anne's left hand there is a lady who is bringing
in some flowers.  St. Anne was always passionately fond of flowers.  There
is a pretty story told about her in one of the Fathers, I forget which,
to the effect that when a child she was asked which she liked best--cakes
or flowers?  She could not yet speak plainly and lisped out, "Oh fowses,
pretty fowses"; she added, however, with a sigh and as a kind of wistful
corollary, "but cakes are very nice."  She is not to have any cakes, just
now, but as soon as she has done thanking the lady for her beautiful
nosegay, she is to have a couple of nice new-laid eggs, that are being
brought her by another lady.  Valsesian women immediately after their
confinement always have eggs beaten up with wine and sugar, and one can
tell a Valsesian Birth of the Virgin from a Venetian or a Florentine by
the presence of the eggs.  I learned this from an eminent Valsesian
professor of medicine, who told me that, though not according to received
rules, the eggs never seemed to do any harm.  Here they are evidently to
be beaten up, for there is neither spoon nor egg-cup, and we cannot
suppose that they were hard-boiled.  On the other hand, in the Middle
Ages Italians never used egg-cups and spoons for boiled eggs.  The
mediaeval boiled egg was always eaten by dipping bread into the yolk.

Behind the lady who is bringing in the eggs is the under-under-nurse who
is at the fire warming a towel.  In the foreground we have the regulation
midwife holding the regulation baby (who, by the way, was an
astonishingly fine child for only five minutes old).  Then comes the
under-nurse--a good buxom creature, who, as usual, is feeling the water
in the bath to see that it is of the right temperature.  Next to her is
the head-nurse, who is arranging the cradle.  Behind the head-nurse is
the under-under-nurse's drudge, who is just going out upon some errands.
Lastly--for by this time we have got all round the chapel--we arrive at
the Virgin's grandmother's-body-guard, a stately, responsible-looking
lady, standing in waiting upon her mistress.  I put it to the reader--is
it conceivable that St. Joachim should have been allowed in such a room
at such a time, or that he should have had the courage to avail himself
of the permission, even though it had been extended to him?  At any rate,
is it conceivable that he should have been allowed to sit on St. Anne's
right hand, laying down the law with a "Marry, come up here," and a
"Marry, go-down there," and a couple of such unabashed collars as the old
lady has put on for the occasion?

Moreover (for I may as well demolish this mischievous confusion between
St. Joachim and his mother-in-law once and for all), the merest tyro in
hagiology knows that St. Joachim was not at home when the Virgin was
born.  He had been hustled out of the temple for having no children, and
had fled desolate and dismayed into the wilderness.  It shows how silly
people are, for all the time he was going, if they had only waited a
little, to be the father of the most remarkable person of purely human
origin who had ever been born, and such a parent as this should surely
not be hurried.  The story is told in the frescoes of the chapel of
Loreto, only a quarter of an hour's walk from Varallo, and no one can
have known it better than D'Enrico.  The frescoes are explained by
written passages that tell us how, when Joachim was in the desert, an
angel came to him in the guise of a fair, civil young gentleman, and told
him the Virgin was to be born.  Then, later on, the same young gentleman
appeared to him again, and bade him "in God's name be comforted, and turn
again to his content," for the Virgin had been actually born.  On which
St. Joachim, who seems to have been of opinion that marriage after all
_was_ rather a failure, said that, as things were going on so nicely
without him, he would stay in the desert just a little longer, and
offered up a lamb as a pretext to gain time.  Perhaps he guessed about
his mother-in-law, or he may have asked the angel.  Of course, even in
spite of such evidence as this I may be mistaken about the Virgin's
grandmother's sex, and the sacristan may be right; but I can only say
that if the lady sitting by St. Anne's bedside at Montrigone is the
Virgin's father--well, in that case I must reconsider a good deal that I
have been accustomed to believe was beyond question.

Taken singly, I suppose that none of the figures in the chapel, except
the Virgin's grandmother, should be rated very highly.  The under-nurse
is the next best figure, and might very well be Tabachetti's, for neither
Giovanni d'Enrico nor Giacomo Ferro was successful with his female
characters.  There is not a single really comfortable woman in any chapel
by either of them on the Sacro Monte at Varallo.  Tabachetti, on the
other hand, delighted in women; if they were young he made them comely
and engaging, if they were old he gave them dignity and individual
character, and the under-nurse is much more in accordance with
Tabachetti's habitual mental attitude than with D'Enrico's or Giacomo
Ferro's.  Still there are only four figures out of the eleven that are
mere otiose supers, and taking the work as a whole it leaves a pleasant
impression as being throughout naive and homely, and sometimes, which is
of less importance, technically excellent.

Allowance must, of course, be made for tawdry accessories and repeated
coats of shiny oleaginous paint--very disagreeable where it has peeled
off and almost more so where it has not.  What work could stand against
such treatment as the Valsesian terra-cotta figures have had to put up
with?  Take the Venus of Milo; let her be done in terra-cotta, and have
run, not much, but still something, in the baking; paint her pink, two
oils, all over, and then varnish her--it will help to preserve the paint;
glue a lot of horsehair on to her pate, half of which shall have come
off, leaving the glue still showing; scrape her, not too thoroughly, get
the village drawing-master to paint her again, and the drawing-master in
the next provincial town to put a forest background behind her with the
brightest emerald-green leaves that he can do for the money; let this
painting and scraping and repainting be repeated several times over;
festoon her with pink and white flowers made of tissue paper; surround
her with the cheapest German imitations of the cheapest decorations that
Birmingham can produce; let the night air and winter fogs get at her for
three hundred years, and how easy, I wonder, will it be to see the
goddess who will be still in great part there?  True, in the case of the
Birth of the Virgin chapel at Montrigone, there is no real hair and no
fresco background, but time has had abundant opportunities without these.
I will conclude my notice of this chapel by saying that on the left,
above the door through which the under-under-nurse's drudge is about to
pass, there is a good painted terra-cotta bust, said--but I believe on no
authority--to be a portrait of Giovanni d'Enrico.  Others say that the
Virgin's grandmother is Giovanni d'Enrico, but this is even more absurd
than supposing her to be St. Joachim.

The next chapel to the Birth of the Virgin is that of the _Sposalizio_.
There is no figure here which suggests Tabachetti, but still there are
some very good ones.  The best have no taint of _barocco_; the man who
did them, whoever he may have been, had evidently a good deal of life and
go, was taking reasonable pains, and did not know too much.  Where this
is the case no work can fail to please.  Some of the figures have real
hair and some terra cotta.  There is no fresco background worth
mentioning.  A man sitting on the steps of the altar with a book on his
lap, and holding up his hand to another, who is leaning over him and
talking to him, is among the best figures; some of the disappointed
suitors who are breaking their wands are also very good.

The angel in the Annunciation chapel, which comes next in order, is a
fine, burly, ship's-figurehead, commercial-hotel sort of being enough,
but the Virgin is very ordinary.  There is no real hair and no fresco
background, only three dingy old blistered pictures of no interest

In the visit of Mary to Elizabeth there are three pleasing subordinate
lady attendants, two to the left and one to the right of the principal
figures; but these figures themselves are not satisfactory.  There is no
fresco background.  Some of the figures have real hair and some terra

In the Circumcision and Purification chapel--for both these events seem
contemplated in the one that follows--there are doves, but there is
neither dog nor knife.  Still Simeon, who has the infant Saviour in his
arms, is looking at him in a way which can only mean that, knife or no
knife, the matter is not going to end here.  At Varallo they have now got
a dreadful knife for the Circumcision chapel.  They had none last winter.
What they have now got would do very well to kill a bullock with, but
could not be used professionally with safety for any animal smaller than
a rhinoceros.  I imagine that some one was sent to Novara to buy a knife,
and that, thinking it was for the Massacre of the Innocents chapel, he
got the biggest he could see.  Then when he brought it back people said
"chow" several times, and put it upon the table and went away.

Returning to Montrigone, the Simeon is an excellent figure, and the
Virgin is fairly good, but the prophetess Anna, who stands just behind
her, is by far the most interesting in the group, and is alone enough to
make me feel sure that Tabachetti gave more or less help here, as he had
done years before at Orta.  She, too, like the Virgin's grandmother, is a
widow lady, and wears collars of a cut that seems to have prevailed ever
since the Virgin was born some twenty years previously.  There is a
largeness and simplicity of treatment about the figure to which none but
an artist of the highest rank can reach, and D'Enrico was not more than a
second or third-rate man.  The hood is like Handel's Truth sailing upon
the broad wings of Time, a prophetic strain that nothing but the old
experience of a great poet can reach.  The lips of the prophetess are for
the moment closed, but she has been prophesying all the morning, and the
people round the wall in the background are in ecstasies at the lucidity
with which she has explained all sorts of difficulties that they had
never been able to understand till now.  They are putting their
forefingers on their thumbs and their thumbs on their forefingers, and
saying how clearly they see it all and what a wonderful woman Anna is.  A
prophet indeed is not generally without honour save in his own country,
but then a country is generally not without honour save with its own
prophet, and Anna has been glorifying her country rather than reviling
it.  Besides, the rule may not have applied to prophetesses.

The Death of the Virgin is the last of the six chapels inside the church
itself.  The Apostles, who of course are present, have all of them real
hair, but, if I may say so, they want a wash and a brush-up so very badly
that I cannot feel any confidence in writing about them.  I should say
that, take them all round, they are a good average sample of apostle as
apostles generally go.  Two or three of them are nervously anxious to
find appropriate quotations in books that lie open before them, which
they are searching with eager haste; but I do not see one figure about
which I should like to say positively that it is either good or bad.
There is a good bust of a man, matching the one in the Birth of the
Virgin chapel, which is said to be a portrait of Giovanni d'Enrico, but
it is not known whom it represents.

Outside the church, in three contiguous cells that form part of the
foundations, are:--

1.  A dead Christ, the head of which is very impressive while the rest of
the figure is poor.  I examined the treatment of the hair, which is terra-
cotta, and compared it with all other like hair in the chapels above
described; I could find nothing like it, and think it most likely that
Giacomo Ferro did the figure, and got Tabachetti to do the head, or that
they brought the head from some unused figure by Tabachetti at Varallo,
for I know no other artist of the time and neighbourhood who could have
done it.

2.  A Magdalene in the desert.  The desert is a little coal-cellar of an
arch, containing a skull and a profusion of pink and white paper
bouquets, the two largest of which the Magdalene is hugging while she is
saying her prayers.  She is a very self-sufficient lady, who we may be
sure will not stay in the desert a day longer than she can help, and
while there will flirt even with the skull if she can find nothing better
to flirt with.  I cannot think that her repentance is as yet genuine, and
as for her praying there is no object in her doing so, for she does not
want anything.

3.  In the next desert there is a very beautiful figure of St. John the
Baptist kneeling and looking upwards.  This figure puzzles me more than
any other at Montrigone; it appears to be of the fifteenth rather than
the sixteenth century; it hardly reminds me of Gaudenzio, and still less
of any other Valsesian artist.  It is a work of unusual beauty, but I can
form no idea as to its authorship.

I wrote the foregoing pages in the church at Montrigone itself, having
brought my camp-stool with me.  It was Sunday; the church was open all
day, but there was no mass said, and hardly any one came.  The sacristan
was a kind, gentle, little old man, who let me do whatever I wanted.  He
sat on the doorstep of the main door, mending vestments, and to this end
was cutting up a fine piece of figured silk from one to two hundred years
old, which, if I could have got it, for half its value, I should much
like to have bought.  I sat in the cool of the church while he sat in the
doorway, which was still in shadow, snipping and snipping, and then
sewing, I am sure with admirable neatness.  He made a charming picture,
with the arched portico over his head, the green grass and low church
wall behind him, and then a lovely landscape of wood and pasture and
valleys and hillside.  Every now and then he would come and chirrup about
Joachim, for he was pained and shocked at my having said that his Joachim
was some one else and not Joachim at all.  I said I was very sorry, but I
was afraid the figure was a woman.  He asked me what he was to do.  He
had known it, man and boy, this sixty years, and had always shown it as
St. Joachim; he had never heard any one but myself question his
ascription, and could not suddenly change his mind about it at the
bidding of a stranger.  At the same time he felt it was a very serious
thing to continue showing it as the Virgin's father if it was really her
grandmother.  I told him I thought this was a case for his spiritual
director, and that if he felt uncomfortable about it he should consult
his parish priest and do as he was told.

On leaving Montrigone, with a pleasant sense of having made acquaintance
with a new and, in many respects, interesting work, I could not get the
sacristan and our difference of opinion out of my head.  What, I asked
myself, are the differences that unhappily divide Christendom, and what
are those that divide Christendom from modern schools of thought, but a
seeing of Joachims as the Virgin's grandmothers on a larger scale?  True,
we cannot call figures Joachim when we know perfectly well that they are
nothing of the kind; but I registered a vow that henceforward when I
called Joachims the Virgin's grandmothers I would bear more in mind than
I have perhaps always hitherto done, how hard it is for those who have
been taught to see them as Joachims to think of them as something
different.  I trust that I have not been unfaithful to this vow in the
preceding article.  If the reader differs from me, let me ask him to
remember how hard it is for one who has got a figure well into his head
as the Virgin's grandmother to see it as Joachim.


This last summer I revisited Oropa, near Biella, to see what connection I
could find between the Oropa chapels and those at Varallo.  I will take
this opportunity of describing the chapels at Oropa, and more especially
the remarkable fossil, or petrified girl school, commonly known as the
_Dimora_, or Sojourn of the Virgin Mary in the Temple.

If I do not take these works so seriously as the reader may expect, let
me beg him, before he blames me, to go to Oropa and see the originals for
himself.  Have the good people of Oropa themselves taken them very
seriously?  Are we in an atmosphere where we need be at much pains to
speak with bated breath?  We, as is well known, love to take even our
pleasures sadly; the Italians take even their sadness _allegramente_, and
combine devotion with amusement in a manner that we shall do well to
study if not imitate.  For this best agrees with what we gather to have
been the custom of Christ himself, who, indeed, never speaks of austerity
but to condemn it.  If Christianity is to be a living faith, it must
penetrate a man's whole life, so that he can no more rid himself of it
than he can of his flesh and bones or of his breathing.  The Christianity
that can be taken up and laid down as if it were a watch or a book is
Christianity in name only.  The true Christian can no more part from
Christ in mirth than in sorrow.  And, after all, what is the essence of
Christianity?  What is the kernel of the nut?  Surely common sense and
cheerfulness, with unflinching opposition to the charlatanisms and
Pharisaisms of a man's own times.  The essence of Christianity lies
neither in dogma, nor yet in abnormally holy life, but in faith in an
unseen world, in doing one's duty, in speaking the truth, in finding the
true life rather in others than in oneself, and in the certain hope that
he who loses his life on these behalfs finds more than he has lost.  What
can Agnosticism do against such Christianity as this?  I should be
shocked if anything I had ever written or shall ever write should seem to
make light of these things.  I should be shocked also if I did not know
how to be amused with things that amiable people obviously intended to be

The reader may need to be reminded that Oropa is among the somewhat
infrequent sanctuaries at which the Madonna and infant Christ are not
white, but black.  I shall return to this peculiarity of Oropa later on,
but will leave it for the present.  For the general characteristics of
the place I must refer the reader to my book, "Alps and Sanctuaries." {9}
I propose to confine myself here to the ten or a dozen chapels containing
life-sized terra-cotta figures, painted up to nature, that form one of
the main features of the place.  At a first glance, perhaps, all these
chapels will seem uninteresting; I venture to think, however, that some,
if not most of them, though falling a good deal short of the best work at
Varallo and Crea, are still in their own way of considerable importance.
The first chapel with which we need concern ourselves is numbered 4, and
shows the Conception of the Virgin Mary.  It represents St. Anne as
kneeling before a terrific dragon or, as the Italians call it, "insect,"
about the size of a Crystal Palace pleiosaur.  This "insect" is supposed
to have just had its head badly crushed by St. Anne, who seems to be
begging its pardon.  The text "Ipsa conteret caput tuum" is written
outside the chapel.  The figures have no artistic interest.  As regards
dragons being called insects, the reader may perhaps remember that the
island of S. Giulio, in the Lago d'Orta, was infested with _insetti_,
which S. Giulio destroyed, and which appear, in a fresco underneath the
church on the island, to have been monstrous and ferocious dragons; but I
cannot remember whether their bodies are divided into three sections, and
whether or no they have exactly six legs--without which, I am told, they
cannot be true insects.

The fifth chapel represents the birth of the Virgin.  Having obtained
permission to go inside it, I found the date 1715 cut large and deep on
the back of one figure before baking, and I imagine that this date covers
the whole.  There is a Queen Anne feeling throughout the composition, and
if we were told that the sculptor and Francis Bird, sculptor of the
statue in front of St. Paul's Cathedral, had studied under the same
master, we could very well believe it.  The apartment in which the Virgin
was born is spacious, and in striking contrast to the one in which she
herself gave birth to the Redeemer.  St. Anne occupies the centre of the
composition, in an enormous bed; on her right there is a lady of the
George Cruikshank style of beauty, and on the left an older person.  Both
are gesticulating and impressing upon St. Anne the enormous obligation
she has just conferred upon mankind; they seem also to be imploring her
not to overtax her strength, but, strange to say, they are giving her
neither flowers nor anything to eat and drink.  I know no other birth of
the Virgin in which St. Anne wants so little keeping up.

I have explained in my book "Ex Voto," {10} but should perhaps repeat
here, that the distinguishing characteristic of the Birth of the Virgin,
as rendered by Valsesian artists, is that St. Anne always has eggs
immediately after the infant is born, and usually a good deal more,
whereas the Madonna never has anything to eat or drink.  The eggs are in
accordance with a custom that still prevails among the peasant classes in
the Valsesia, where women on giving birth to a child generally are given
a _sabaglione_--an egg beaten up with a little wine, or rum, and sugar.
East of Milan the Virgin's mother does not have eggs, and I suppose, from
the absence of the eggs at Oropa, that the custom above referred to does
not prevail in the Biellese district.  The Virgin also is invariably
washed.  St. John the Baptist, when he is born at all, which is not very
often, is also washed; but I have not observed that St. Elizabeth has
anything like the attention paid her that is given to St. Anne.  What,
however, is wanting here at Oropa in meat and drink is made up in Cupids;
they swarm like flies on the walls, clouds, cornices, and capitals of

Against the right-hand wall are two lady-helps, each warming a towel at a
glowing fire, to be ready against the baby should come out of its bath;
while in the right-hand foreground we have the _levatrice_, who having
discharged her task, and being now so disposed, has removed the bottle
from the chimney-piece, and put it near some bread, fruit and a chicken,
over which she is about to discuss the confinement with two other
gossips.  The _levatrice_ is a very characteristic figure, but the best
in the chapel is the one of the head nurse, near the middle of the
composition; she has now the infant in full charge, and is showing it to
St. Joachim, with an expression as though she were telling him that her
husband was a merry man.  I am afraid Shakespeare was dead before the
sculptor was born, otherwise I should have felt certain that he had drawn
Juliet's nurse from this figure.  As for the little Virgin herself, I
believe her to be a fine boy of about ten months old.  Viewing the work
as a whole, if I only felt more sure what artistic merit really is, I
should say that, though the chapel cannot be rated very highly from some
standpoints, there are others from which it may be praised warmly enough.
It is innocent of anatomy-worship, free from affectation or swagger, and
not devoid of a good deal of homely _naivete_.  It can no more be
compared with Tabachetti or Donatello than Hogarth can with Rembrandt or
Giovanni Bellini; but as it does not transcend the limitations of its
age, so neither is it wanting in whatever merits that age possessed; and
there is no age without merits of some kind.  There is no inscription
saying who made the figures, but tradition gives them to Pietro Aureggio
Termine, of Biella, commonly called Aureggio.  This is confirmed by their
strong resemblance to those in the _Dimora_ Chapel, in which there is an
inscription that names Aureggio as the sculptor.

The sixth chapel deals with the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple.
The Virgin is very small, but it must be remembered that she is only
seven years old, and she is not nearly so small as she is at Crea, where,
though a life-sized figure is intended, the head is hardly bigger than an
apple.  She is rushing up the steps with open arms towards the High
Priest, who is standing at the top.  For her it is nothing alarming; it
is the High Priest who appears frightened; but it will all come right in
time.  The Virgin seems to be saying, "Why, don't you know me?  I'm the
Virgin Mary."  But the High Priest does not feel so sure about that, and
will make further inquiries.  The scene, which comprises some twenty
figures, is animated enough, and though it hardly kindles enthusiasm,
still does not fail to please.  It looks as though of somewhat older date
than the Birth of the Virgin chapel, and I should say shows more signs of
direct Valsesian influence.  In Marocco's book about Oropa it is ascribed
to Aureggio, but I find it difficult to accept this.

The seventh, and in many respects most interesting chapel at Oropa, shows
what is in reality a medieval Italian girl school, as nearly like the
thing itself as the artist could make it; we are expected, however, to
see in this the high-class kind of Girton College for young gentlewomen
that was attached to the Temple at Jerusalem, under the direction of the
Chief Priest's wife, or some one of his near female relatives.  Here all
well-to-do Jewish young women completed their education, and here
accordingly we find the Virgin, whose parents desired she should shine in
every accomplishment, and enjoy all the advantages their ample means

I have met with no traces of the Virgin during the years between her
Presentation in the Temple and her becoming head girl at Temple College.
These years, we may be assured, can hardly have been other than eventful;
but incidents, or bits of life, are like living forms--it is only here
and here, as by rare chance, that one of them gets arrested and
fossilised; the greater number disappear like the greater number of
antediluvian molluscs, and no one can say why one of these flies, as it
were, of life should get preserved in amber more than another.  Talk,
indeed, about luck and cunning; what a grain of sand as against a
hundredweight is cunning's share here as against luck's.  What moment
could be more humdrum and unworthy of special record than the one chosen
by the artist for the chapel we are considering?  Why should this one get
arrested in its flight and made immortal when so many worthier ones have
perished?  Yet preserved it assuredly is; it is as though some fairy's
wand had struck the medieval Miss Pinkerton, Amelia Sedley, and others
who do duty instead of the Hebrew originals.  It has locked them up as
sleeping beauties, whose charms all may look upon.  Surely the hours are
like the women grinding at the mill--the one is taken and the other left,
and none can give the reason more than he can say why Gallio should have
won immortality by caring for none of "these things."

It seems to me, moreover, that fairies have changed their practice now in
the matter of sleeping beauties, much as shopkeepers have done in Regent
Street.  Formerly the shopkeeper used to shut up his goods behind strong
shutters, so that no one might see them after closing hours.  Now he
leaves everything open to the eye and turns the gas on.  So the fairies,
who used to lock up their sleeping beauties in impenetrable thickets, now
leave them in the most public places they can find, as knowing that they
will there most certainly escape notice.  Look at De Hooghe; look at "The
Pilgrim's Progress," or even Shakespeare himself--how long they slept
unawakened, though they were in broad daylight and on the public
thoroughfares all the time.  Look at Tabachetti, and the masterpieces he
left at Varallo.  His figures there are exposed to the gaze of every
passer-by; yet who heeds them?  Who, save a very few, even know of their
existence?  Look again at Gaudenzio Ferrari, or the "Danse des Paysans,"
by Holbein, to which I ventured to call attention in the _Universal
Review_.  No, no; if a thing be in Central Africa, it is the glory of
this age to find it out; so the fairies think it safer to conceal their
_proteges_ under a show of openness; for the schoolmaster is much abroad,
and there is no hedge so thick or so thorny as the dulness of culture.

It may be, again, that ever so many years hence, when Mr. Darwin's earth-
worms shall have buried Oropa hundreds of feet deep, some one sinking a
well or making a railway-cutting will unearth these chapels, and will
believe them to have been houses, and to contain the _exuviae_ of the
living forms that tenanted them.  In the meantime, however, let us return
to a consideration of the chapel as it may now be seen by any one who
cares to pass that way.

The work consists of about forty figures in all, not counting Cupids, and
is divided into four main divisions.  First, there is the large public
sitting-room or drawing-room of the College, where the elder young ladies
are engaged in various elegant employments.  Three, at a table to the
left, are making a mitre for the Bishop, as may be seen from the model on
the table.  Some are merely spinning or about to spin.  One young lady,
sitting rather apart from the others, is doing an elaborate piece of
needlework at a tambour-frame near the window; others are making lace or
slippers, probably for the new curate; another is struggling with a
letter, or perhaps a theme, which seems to be giving her a good deal of
trouble, but which, when done, will, I am sure, be beautiful.  One dear
little girl is simply reading "Paul and Virginia" underneath the window,
and is so concealed that I hardly think she can be seen from the outside
at all, though from inside she is delightful; it was with great regret
that I could not get her into any photograph.  One most amiable young
woman has got a child's head on her lap, the child having played itself
to sleep.  All are industriously and agreeably employed in some way or
other; all are plump; all are nice looking; there is not one Becky Sharp
in the whole school; on the contrary, as in "Pious Orgies," all is
pious--or sub-pious--and all, if not great, is at least eminently
respectable.  One feels that St. Joachim and St. Anne could not have
chosen a school more judiciously, and that if one had daughter oneself
this is exactly where one would wish to place her.  If there is a fault
of any kind in the arrangements, it is that they do not keep cats enough.
The place is overrun with mice, though what these can find to eat I know
not.  It occurs to me also that the young ladies might be kept a little
more free of spiders' webs; but in all these chapels, bats, mice and
spiders are troublesome.

Off the main drawing-room on the side facing the window there is a dais,
which is approached by a large raised semicircular step, higher than the
rest of the floor, but lower than the dais itself.  The dais is, of
course, reserved for the venerable Lady Principal and the
under-mistresses, one of whom, by the way, is a little more _mondaine_
than might have been expected, and is admiring herself in a
looking-glass--unless, indeed, she is only looking to see if there is a
spot of ink on her face.  The Lady Principal is seated near a table, on
which lie some books in expensive bindings, which I imagine to have been
presented to her by the parents of pupils who were leaving school.  One
has given her a photographic album; another a large scrap-book, for
illustrations of all kinds; a third volume has red edges, and is
presumably of a devotional character.  If I dared venture another
criticism, I should say it would be better not to keep the ink-pot on the
top of these books.  The Lady Principal is being read to by the monitress
for the week, whose duty it was to recite selected passages from the most
approved Hebrew writers; she appears to be a good deal outraged, possibly
at the faulty intonation of the reader, which she has long tried vainly
to correct; or perhaps she has been hearing of the atrocious way in which
her forefathers had treated the prophets, and is explaining to the young
ladies how impossible it would be, in their own more enlightened age, for
a prophet to fail of recognition.

On the half-dais, as I suppose the large semicircular step between the
main room and the dais should be called, we find, first, the monitress
for the week, who stands up while she recites; and secondly, the Virgin
herself, who is the only pupil allowed a seat so near to the august
presence of the Lady Principal.  She is ostensibly doing a piece of
embroidery which is stretched on a cushion on her lap, but I should say
that she was chiefly interested in the nearest of four pretty little
Cupids, who are all trying to attract her attention, though they pay no
court to any other young lady.  I have sometimes wondered whether the
obviously scandalised gesture of the Lady Principal might not be directed
at these Cupids, rather than at anything the monitress may have been
reading, for she would surely find them disquieting.  Or she may be
saying, "Why, bless me!  I do declare the Virgin has got another hamper,
and St. Anne's cakes are always so terribly rich!"  Certainly the hamper
is there, close to the Virgin, and the Lady Principal's action may be
well directed at it, but it may have been sent to some other young lady,
and be put on the sub-dais for public exhibition.  It looks as if it
might have come from Fortnum and Mason's, and I half expected to find a
label, addressing it to "The Virgin Mary, Temple College, Jerusalem," but
if ever there was one the mice have long since eaten it.  The Virgin
herself does not seem to care much about it, but if she has a fault it is
that she is generally a little apathetic.

Whose the hamper was, however, is a point we shall never now certainly
determine, for the best fossil is worse than the worst living form.  Why,
alas! was not Mr. Edison alive when this chapel was made?  We might then
have had a daily phonographic recital of the conversation, and an
announcement might be put outside the chapels, telling us at what hours
the figures would speak.

On either of side the main room there are two annexes opening out from
it; these are reserved chiefly for the younger children, some of whom, I
think, are little boys.  In the left-hand annex, behind the ladies who
are making a mitre, there is a child who has got a cake, and another has
some fruit--possibly given them by the Virgin--and a third child is
begging for some of it.  The light failed so completely here that I was
not able to photograph any of these figures.  It was a dull September
afternoon, and the clouds had settled thick round the chapel, which is
never very light, and is nearly 4000 feet above the sea.  I waited till
such twilight as made it hopeless that more detail could be got--and a
queer ghostly place enough it was to wait in--but after giving the plate
an exposure of fifty minutes, I saw I could get no more, and desisted.

These long photographic exposures have the advantage that one is
compelled to study a work in detail through mere lack of other
employment, and that one can take one's notes in peace without being
tempted to hurry over them; but even so I continually find I have omitted
to note, and have clean forgotten, much that I want later on.

In the other annex there are also one or two younger children, but it
seems to have been set apart for conversation and relaxation more than
any other part of the establishment.

I have already said that the work is signed by an inscription inside the
chapel, to the effect that the sculptures are by Pietro Aureggio Termine
di Biella.  It will be seen that the young ladies are exceedingly like
one another, and that the artist aimed at nothing more than a faithful
rendering of the life of his own times.  Let us be thankful that he aimed
at nothing less.  Perhaps his wife kept a girls' school; or he may have
had a large family of fat, good-natured daughters, whose little ways he
had studied attentively; at all events the work is full of spontaneous
incident, and cannot fail to become more and more interesting as the age
it renders falls farther back into the past.  It is to be regretted that
many artists, better known men, have not been satisfied with the humbler
ambitions of this most amiable and interesting sculptor.  If he has left
us no laboured life-studies, he has at least done something for us which
we can find nowhere else, which we should be very sorry not to have, and
the fidelity of which to Italian life at the beginning of the last
century will not be disputed.

The eighth chapel is that of the _Sposalizio_, is certainly not by
Aureggio, and I should say was mainly by the same sculptor who did the
Presentation in the Temple.  On going inside I found the figures had come
from more than one source; some of them are constructed so absolutely on
Valsesian principles, as regards technique, that it may be assumed they
came from Varallo.  Each of these last figures is in three pieces, that
are baked separately and cemented together afterwards, hence they are
more easily transported; no more clay is used than is absolutely
necessary; and the off-side of the figure is neglected; they will be
found chiefly, if not entirely, at the top of the steps.  The other
figures are more solidly built, and do not remind me in their business
features of anything in the Valsesia.  There was a sculptor, Francesco
Sala, of Locarno (doubtless the village a short distance below Varallo,
and not the Locarno on the Lago Maggiore), who made designs for some of
the Oropa chapels, and some of whose letters are still preserved, but
whether the Valsesian figures in this present work are by him or not I
cannot say.

The statues are twenty-five in number; I could find no date or signature;
the work reminds me of Montrigone; several of the figures are not at all
bad, and several have horsehair for hair, as at Varallo.  The effect of
the whole composition is better than we have a right to expect from any
sculpture dating from the beginning of the last century.

The ninth chapel, the Annunciation, presents no feature of interest; nor
yet does the tenth, the Visit of Mary to Elizabeth.  The eleventh, the
Nativity, though rather better, is still not remarkable.

The twelfth, the Purification, is absurdly bad, but I do not know whether
the expression of strong personal dislike to the Virgin which the High
Priest wears is intended as prophetic, or whether it is the result of
incompetence, or whether it is merely a smile gone wrong in the baking.
It is amusing to find Marocco, who has not been strict about
archaeological accuracy hitherto, complain here that there is an
anachronism, inasmuch as some young ecclesiastics are dressed as they
would be at present, and one of them actually carries a wax candle.  This
is not as it should be; in works like those at Oropa, where implicit
reliance is justly placed on the earnest endeavours that have been so
successfully made to thoroughly and carefully and patiently ensure the
accuracy of the minutest details, it is a pity that even a single error
should have escaped detection; this, however, has most unfortunately
happened here, and Marocco feels it his duty to put us on our guard.  He
explains that the mistake arose from the sculptor's having taken both his
general arrangement and his details from some picture of the fourteenth
or fifteenth century, when the value of the strictest historical accuracy
was not yet so fully understood.

It seems to me that in the matter of accuracy, priests and men of science
whether lay or regular on the one hand, and plain people whether lay or
regular on the other, are trying to play a different game, and fail to
understand one another because they do not see that their objects are not
the same.  The cleric and the man of science (who is only the cleric in
his latest development) are trying to develop a throat with two distinct
passages--one that shall refuse to pass even the smallest gnat, and
another that shall gracefully gulp even the largest camel; whereas we men
of the street desire but one throat, and are content that this shall
swallow nothing bigger than a pony.  Every one knows that there is no
such effectual means of developing the power to swallow camels as
incessant watchfulness for opportunities of straining at gnats, and this
should explain many passages that puzzle us in the work both of our
clerics and our scientists.  I, not being a man of science, still
continue to do what I said I did in "Alps and Sanctuaries," and make it a
rule to earnestly and patiently and carefully swallow a few of the
smallest gnats I can find several times a day, as the best astringent for
the throat I know of.

The thirteenth chapel is the Marriage Feast at Cana of Galilee.  This is
the best chapel as a work of art; indeed, it is the only one which can
claim to be taken quite seriously.  Not that all the figures are very
good; those to the left of the composition are commonplace enough; nor
are the Christ and the giver of the feast at all remarkable; but the ten
or dozen figures of guests and attendants at the right-hand end of the
work are as good as anything of their kind can be, and remind me so
strongly of Tabachetti that I cannot doubt they were done by some one who
was indirectly influenced by that great sculptor's work.  It is not
likely that Tabachetti was alive long after 1640, by which time he would
have been about eighty years old; and the foundations of this chapel were
not laid till about 1690; the statues are probably a few years later;
they can hardly, therefore, be by one who had even studied under
Tabachetti; but until I found out the dates, and went inside the chapel
to see the way in which the figures had been constructed, I was inclined
to think they might be by Tabachetti himself, of whom, indeed, they are
not unworthy.  On examining the figures I found them more heavily
constructed than Tabachetti's are, with smaller holes for taking out
superfluous clay, and more finished on the off-sides.  Marocco says the
sculptor is not known.  I looked in vain for any date or signature.
Possibly the right-hand figures (for the left-hand ones can hardly be by
the same hand) may be by some sculptor from Crea, which is at no very
great distance from Oropa, who was penetrated by Tabachetti's influence;
but whether as regards action and concert with one another, or as regards
excellence in detail, I do not see how anything can be more realistic,
and yet more harmoniously composed.  The placing of the musicians in a
minstrels' gallery helps the effect; these musicians are six in number,
and the other figures are twenty-three.  Under the table, between Christ
and the giver of the feast, there is a cat.

The fourteenth chapel, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, is without

The fifteenth, the Coronation of the Virgin, contains forty-six angels,
twenty-six cherubs, fifty-six saints, the Holy Trinity, the Madonna
herself, and twenty-four innocents, making 156 statues in all.  Of these
I am afraid there is not one of more than ordinary merit; the most
interesting is a half-length nude life-study of Disma--the good thief.
After what had been promised him it was impossible to exclude him, but it
was felt that a half-length nude figure would be as much as he could
reasonably expect.

Behind the sanctuary there is a semi-ruinous and wholly valueless work,
which shows the finding of the black image, which is now in the church,
but is only shown on great festivals.

This leads us to a consideration that I have delayed till now.  The black
image is the central feature of Oropa; it is the _raison d'etre_ of the
whole place, and all else is a mere incrustation, so to speak, around it.
According to this image, then, which was carved by St. Luke himself, and
than which nothing can be better authenticated, both the Madonna and the
infant Christ were as black as anything can be conceived.  It is not
likely that they were as black as they have been painted; no one yet ever
was so black as that; yet, even allowing for some exaggeration on St.
Luke's part, they must have been exceedingly black if the portrait is to
be accepted; and uncompromisingly black they accordingly are on most of
the wayside chapels for many a mile around Oropa.  Yet in the chapels we
have been hitherto considering--works in which, as we know, the most
punctilious regard has been shown to accuracy--both the Virgin and Christ
are uncompromisingly white.  As in the shops under the Colonnade where
devotional knick-knacks are sold, you can buy a black china image or a
white one, whichever you like; so with the pictures--the black and white
are placed side by side--_pagando il danaro si puo scegliere_.  It rests
not with history or with the Church to say whether the Madonna and Child
were black or white, but you may settle it for yourself, whichever way
you please, or rather you are required, with the acquiescence of the
Church, to hold that they were both black and white at one and the same

It cannot be maintained that the Church leaves the matter undecided, and
by tolerating both types proclaims the question an open one, for she
acquiesces in the portrait by St. Luke as genuine.  How, then, justify
the whiteness of the Holy Family in the chapels?  If the portrait is not
known as genuine, why set such a stumbling-block in our paths as to show
us a black Madonna and a white one, both as historically accurate, within
a few yards of one another?

I ask this not in mockery, but as knowing that the Church must have an
explanation to give, if she would only give it, and as myself unable to
find any, even the most farfetched, that can bring what we see at Oropa,
Loreto and elsewhere into harmony with modern conscience, either
intellectual or ethical.

I see, indeed, from an interesting article in the _Atlantic Monthly_ for
September 1889, entitled "The Black Madonna of Loreto," that black
Madonnas were so frequent in ancient Christian art that "some of the
early writers of the Church felt obliged to account for it by explaining
that the Virgin was of a very dark complexion, as might be proved by the
verse of Canticles which says, 'I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of
Jerusalem.'  Others maintained that she became black during her sojourn
in Egypt. . . .  Priests, of to-day, say that extreme age and exposure to
the smoke of countless altar-candles have caused that change in
complexion which the more naive fathers of the Church attributed to the
power of an Egyptian sun"; but the writer ruthlessly disposes of this
supposition by pointing out that in nearly all the instances of black
Madonnas it is the flesh alone that is entirely black, the crimson of the
lips, the white of the eyes, and the draperies having preserved their
original colour.  The authoress of the article (Mrs. Hilliard) goes on to
tell us that Pausanias mentions two statues of the black Venus, and says
that the oldest statue of Ceres among the Phigalenses was black.  She
adds that Minerva Aglaurus, the daughter of Cecrops, at Athens, was
black; that Corinth had a black Venus, as also the Thespians; that the
oracles of Dodona and Delphi were founded by black doves, the emissaries
of Venus, and that the Isis Multimammia in the Capitol at Rome is black.

Sometimes I have asked myself whether the Church does not intend to
suggest that the whole story falls outside the domain of history, and is
to be held as the one great epos, or myth, common to all mankind;
adaptable by each nation according to its own several needs;
translatable, so to speak, into the facts of each individual nation, as
the written word is translatable into its language, but appertaining to
the realm of the imagination rather than to that of the understanding,
and precious for spiritual rather than literal truths.  More briefly, I
have wondered whether she may not intend that such details as whether the
Virgin was white or black are of very little importance in comparison
with the basing of ethics on a story that shall appeal to black races as
well as to white ones.

If so, it is time we were made to understand this more clearly.  If the
Church, whether of Rome or England, would lean to some such view as
this--tainted though it be with mysticism--if we could see either great
branch of the Church make a frank, authoritative attempt to bring its
teaching into greater harmony with the educated understanding and
conscience of the time, instead of trying to fetter that understanding
with bonds that gall it daily more and more profoundly; then I, for one,
in view of the difficulty and graciousness of the task, and in view of
the great importance of historical continuity, would gladly sink much of
my own private opinion as to the value of the Christian ideal, and would
gratefully help either Church or both, according to the best of my very
feeble ability.  On these terms, indeed, I could swallow not a few camels
myself cheerfully enough.

Can we, however, see any signs as though either Rome or England will stir
hand or foot to meet us?  Can any step be pointed to as though either
Church wished to make things easier for men holding the opinions held by
the late Mr. Darwin, or by Mr. Herbert Spencer and Professor Huxley?  How
can those who accept evolution with any thoroughness accept such
doctrines as the Incarnation or the Redemption with any but a
quasi-allegorical and poetical interpretation?  Can we conceivably accept
these doctrines in the literal sense in which the Church advances them?
And can the leaders of the Church be blind to the resistlessness of the
current that has set against those literal interpretations which she
seems to hug more and more closely the more religious life is awakened at
all?  The clergyman is wanted as supplementing the doctor and the lawyer
in all civilised communities; these three keep watch on one another, and
prevent one another from becoming too powerful.  I, who distrust the
_doctrinaire_ in science even more than the _doctrinaire_ in religion,
should view with dismay the abolition of the Church of England, as
knowing that a blatant bastard science would instantly step into her
shoes; but if some such deplorable consummation is to be avoided in
England, it can only be through more evident leaning on the part of our
clergy to such an interpretation of the Sacred History as the presence of
a black and white Madonna almost side by side at Oropa appears to

I fear that in these last paragraphs I may have trenched on dangerous
ground, but it is not possible to go to such places as Oropa without
asking oneself what they mean and involve.  As for the average Italian
pilgrims, they do not appear to give the matter so much as a thought.
They love Oropa, and flock to it in thousands during the summer; the
President of the Administration assured me that they lodged, after a
fashion, as many as ten thousand pilgrims on the 15th of last August.  It
is astonishing how living the statues are to these people, and how the
wicked are upbraided and the good applauded.  At Varallo, since I took
the photographs I published in my book "Ex Voto," an angry pilgrim has
smashed the nose of the dwarf in Tabachetti's Journey to Calvary, for no
other reason than inability to restrain his indignation against one who
was helping to inflict pain on Christ.  It is the real hair and the
painting up to nature that does this.  Here at Oropa I found a paper on
the floor of the _Sposalizio_ Chapel, which ran as follows:--

"By the grace of God and the will of the administrative chapter of this
sanctuary, there have come here to work --- ---, mason --- ---,
carpenter, and --- --- plumber, all of Chiavazza, on the twenty-first day
of January 1886, full of cold (_pieni di freddo_).

"They write these two lines to record their visit.  They pray the Blessed
Virgin that she will maintain them safe and sound from everything
equivocal that may befall them (_sempre sani e salvi da ogni equivoco li
possa accadere_).  Oh, farewell!  We reverently salute all the present
statues, and especially the Blessed Virgin, and the reader."

Through the _Universal Review_, I suppose, all its readers are to
consider themselves saluted; at any rate, these good fellows, in the
effusiveness of their hearts, actually wrote the above in pencil.  I was
sorely tempted to steal it, but, after copying it, left it in the Chief
Priest's hands instead.


Having been told by Mr. Fortescue, of the British Museum, that there were
some chapels at Saas-Fee which bore analogy to those at Varallo,
described in my book "Ex Voto," {12} I went to Saas during this last
summer, and venture now to lay my conclusions before the reader.

The chapels are fifteen in number, and lead up to a larger and singularly
graceful one, rather more than half-way between Saas and Saas-Fee.  This
is commonly but wrongly called the chapel of St. Joseph, for it is
dedicated to the Virgin, and its situation is of such extreme beauty--the
great Fee glaciers showing through the open portico--that it is in itself
worth a pilgrimage.  It is surrounded by noble larches and overhung by
rock; in front of the portico there is a small open space covered with
grass, and a huge larch, the stem of which is girt by a rude stone seat.
The portico itself contains seats for worshippers, and a pulpit from
which the preacher's voice can reach the many who must stand outside.  The
walls of the inner chapel are hung with votive pictures, some of them
very quaint and pleasing, and not overweighted by those qualities that
are usually dubbed by the name of artistic merit.  Innumerable wooden and
waxen representations of arms, legs, eyes, ears and babies tell of the
cures that have been effected during two centuries of devotion, and can
hardly fail to awaken a kindly sympathy with the long dead and forgotten
folks who placed them where they are.

The main interest, however, despite the extreme loveliness of the St.
Mary's Chapel, centres rather in the small and outwardly unimportant
oratories (if they should be so called) that lead up to it.  These begin
immediately with the ascent from the level ground on which the village of
Saas-im-Grund is placed, and contain scenes in the history of the
Redemption, represented by rude but spirited wooden figures, each about
two feet high, painted, gilt, and rendered as life-like in all respects
as circumstances would permit.  The figures have suffered a good deal
from neglect, and are still not a little misplaced.  With the assistance,
however, of the Rev. E. J. Selwyn, English Chaplain at Saas-im-Grund, I
have been able to replace many of them in their original positions, as
indicated by the parts of the figures that are left rough-hewn and
unpainted.  They vary a good deal in interest, and can be easily sneered
at by those who make a trade of sneering.  Those, on the other hand, who
remain unsophisticated by overmuch art-culture will find them full of
character in spite of not a little rudeness of execution, and will be
surprised at coming across such works in a place so remote from any art-
centre as Saas must have been at the time these chapels were made.  It
will be my business therefore to throw what light I can upon the
questions how they came to be made at all, and who was the artist who
designed them.

The only documentary evidence consists in a chronicle of the valley of
Saas written in the early years of this century by the Rev. Peter Jos.
Ruppen, and published at Sion in 1851.  This work makes frequent
reference to a manuscript by the Rev. Peter Joseph Clemens Lommatter,
_cure_ of Saas-Fee from 1738 to 1751, which has unfortunately been lost,
so that we have no means of knowing how closely it was adhered to.  The
Rev. Jos. Ant. Ruppen, the present excellent _cure_ of Saas-im-Grund,
assures me that there is no reference to the Saas-Fee oratories in the
"Actes de l'Eglise" at Saas, which I understand go a long way back; but I
have not seen these myself.  Practically, then, we have no more
documentary evidence than is to be found in the published chronicle above
referred to.

We there find it stated that the large chapel, commonly, but as above
explained, wrongly called St. Joseph's, was built in 1687, and enlarged
by subscription in 1747.  These dates appear on the building itself, and
are no doubt accurate.  The writer adds that there was no actual edifice
on this site before the one now existing was built, but there was a
miraculous picture of the Virgin placed in a mural niche, before which
the pious herdsmen and devout inhabitants of the valley worshipped under
the vault of heaven. {13}  A miraculous (or miracle-working) picture was
always more or less rare and important; the present site, therefore,
seems to have been long one of peculiar sanctity.  Possibly the name Fee
may point to still earlier Pagan mysteries on the same site.

As regards the fifteen small chapels, the writer says they illustrate the
fifteen mysteries of the Psalter, and were built in 1709, each
householder of the Saas-Fee contributing one chapel.  He adds that
Heinrich Andenmatten, afterwards a brother of the Society of Jesus, was
an especial benefactor or promoter of the undertaking.  One of the
chapels, the Ascension (No. 12 of the series), has the date 1709 painted
on it; but there is no date on any other chapel, and there seems no
reason why this should be taken as governing the whole series.

Over and above this, there exists in Saas a tradition, as I was told
immediately on my arrival, by an English visitor, that the chapels were
built in consequence of a flood, but I have vainly endeavoured to trace
this story to an indigenous source.

The internal evidence of the wooden figures themselves--nothing analogous
to which, it should be remembered, can be found in the chapel of
1687--points to a much earlier date.  I have met with no school of
sculpture belonging to the early part of the eighteenth century to which
they can be plausibly assigned; and the supposition that they are the
work of some unknown local genius who was not led up to and left no
successors may be dismissed, for the work is too scholarly to have come
from any one but a trained sculptor.  I refer of course to those figures
which the artist must be supposed to have executed with his own hand, as,
for example, the central figure of the Crucifixion group and those of the
Magdalene and St. John.  The greater number of the figures were probably,
as was suggested to me by Mr. Ranshaw, of Lowth, executed by a local
woodcarver from models in clay and wax furnished by the artist himself.
Those who examine the play of line in the hair, mantle, and sleeve of the
Magdalene in the Crucifixion group, and contrast it with the greater part
of the remaining draperies, will find little hesitation in concluding
that this was the case, and will ere long readily distinguish the two
hands from which the figures have mainly come.  I say "mainly," because
there is at least one other sculptor who may well have belonged to the
year 1709, but who fortunately has left us little.  Examples of his work
may perhaps be seen in the nearest villain with a big hat in the
Flagellation chapel, and in two cherubs in the Assumption of the Virgin.

We may say, then, with some certainty, that the designer was a cultivated
and practised artist.  We may also not less certainly conclude that he
was of Flemish origin, for the horses in the Journey to Calvary and
Crucifixion chapels, where alone there are any horses at all, are of
Flemish breed, with no trace of the Arab blood adopted by Gaudenzio at
Varallo.  The character, moreover, of the villains is Northern--of the
Quentin Matsys, Martin Schongauer type, rather than Italian; the same sub-
Rubensesque feeling which is apparent in more than one chapel at Varallo
is not less evident here--especially in the Journey to Calvary and
Crucifixion chapels.  There can hardly, therefore, be a doubt that the
artist was a Fleming who had worked for several years in Italy.

It is also evident that he had Tabachetti's work at Varallo well in his
mind.  For not only does he adopt certain details of costume (I refer
particularly to the treatment of soldiers' tunics) which are peculiar to
Tabachetti at Varallo, but whenever he treats a subject which Tabachetti
had treated at Varallo, as in the Flagellation, Crowning with Thorns, and
Journey to Calvary chapels, the work at Saas is evidently nothing but a
somewhat modified abridgement of that at Varallo.  When, however, as in
the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Crucifixion, and other chapels, the
work at Varallo is by another than Tabachetti, no allusion is made to it.
The Saas artist has Tabachetti's Varallo work at his finger-ends, but
betrays no acquaintance whatever with Gaudenzio Ferrari, Gio. Ant.
Paracca, or Giovanni D'Enrico.

Even, moreover, when Tabachetti's work at Varallo is being most obviously
drawn from, as in the Journey to Calvary chapel, the Saas version differs
materially from that at Varallo, and is in some respects an improvement
on it.  The idea of showing other horsemen and followers coming up from
behind, whose heads can be seen over the crown of the interposing hill,
is singularly effective as suggesting a number of others that are unseen,
nor can I conceive that any one but the original designer would follow
Tabachetti's Varallo design with as much closeness as it has been
followed here, and yet make such a brilliantly successful modification.
The stumbling, again, of one horse (a detail almost hidden, according to
Tabachetti's wont) is a touch which Tabachetti himself might add, but
which no Saas woodcarver who was merely adapting from a reminiscence of
Tabachetti's Varallo chapel would be likely to introduce.  These
considerations have convinced me that the designer of the chapels at Saas
is none other than Tabachetti himself, who, as has been now conclusively
shown, was a native of Dinant, in Belgium.

The Saas chronicler, indeed, avers that the chapels were not built till
1709--a statement apparently corroborated by a date now visible on one
chapel; but we must remember that the chronicler did not write until a
century or so later than 1709, and though, indeed, his statement may have
been taken from the lost earlier manuscript of 1738, we know nothing
about this either one way or the other.  The writer may have gone by the
still existing 1709 on the Ascension chapel, whereas this date may in
fact have referred to a restoration, and not to an original construction.
There is nothing, as I have said, in the choice of the chapel on which
the date appears, to suggest that it was intended to govern the others.  I
have explained that the work is isolated and exotic.  It is by one in
whom Flemish and Italian influences are alike equally predominant; by one
who was saturated with Tabachetti's Varallo work, and who can improve
upon it, but over whom the other Varallo sculptors have no power.  The
style of the work is of the sixteenth and not of the eighteenth
century--with a few obvious exceptions that suit the year 1709
exceedingly well.  Against such considerations as these, a statement made
at the beginning of this century referring to a century earlier, and a
promiscuous date upon one chapel, can carry but little weight.  I shall
assume, therefore, henceforward, that we have here groups designed in a
plastic material by Tabachetti, and reproduced in wood by the best local
wood-sculptor available, with the exception of a few figures cut by the
artist himself.

We ask, then, at what period in his life did Tabachetti design these
chapels, and what led to his coming to such an out-of-the-way place as
Saas at all?  We should remember that, according both to Fassola and
Torrotti (writing in 1671 and 1686 respectively), Tabachetti {14} became
insane about the year 1586 or early in 1587, after having just begun the
Salutation chapel.  I have explained in "Ex Voto" that I do not believe
this story.  I have no doubt that Tabachetti was declared to be mad, but
I believe this to have been due to an intrigue, set on foot in order to
get a foreign artist out of the way, and to secure the Massacre of the
Innocents chapel, at that precise time undertaken, for Gio. Ant. Paracca,
who was an Italian.

Or he may have been sacrificed in order to facilitate the return of the
workers in stucco whom he had superseded on the Sacro Monte.  He may have
been goaded into some imprudence which was seized upon as a pretext for
shutting him up; at any rate, the fact that when in 1587 he inherited his
father's property at Dinant, his trustee (he being expressly stated to be
"_expatrie_") was "_datif_," "_dativus_," appointed not by himself but by
the court, lends colour to the statement that he was not his own master
at the time; for in later kindred deeds, now at Namur, he appoints his
own trustee.  I suppose, then, that Tabachetti was shut up in a madhouse
at Varallo for a considerable time, during which I can find no trace of
him, but that eventually he escaped or was released.

Whether he was a fugitive, or whether he was let out from prison, he
would in either case, in all reasonable probability, turn his face
homeward.  If he was escaping, he would make immediately for the Savoy
frontier, within which Saas then lay.  He would cross the Baranca above
Fobello, coming down on to Ponte Grande in the Val Anzasca.  He would go
up the Val Anzasca to Macugnaga, and over the Monte Moro, which would
bring him immediately to Saas.  Saas, therefore, is the nearest and most
natural place for him to make for, if he were flying from Varallo, and
here I suppose him to have halted.

It so happened that on the 9th of September, 1589, there was one of the
three great outbreaks of the Mattmark See that have from time to time
devastated the valley of Saas. {15}  It is probable that the chapels were
decided upon in consequence of some grace shown by the miraculous picture
of the Virgin, which had mitigated a disaster occurring so soon after the
anniversary of her own Nativity.  Tabachetti, arriving at this juncture,
may have offered to undertake them if the Saas people would give him an
asylum.  Here, at any rate, I suppose him to have stayed till some time
in 1590, probably the second half of it, his design of eventually
returning home, if he ever entertained it, being then interrupted by a
summons to Crea near Casale, where I believe him to have worked with a
few brief interruptions thenceforward for little if at all short of half
a century, or until about the year 1640.  I admit, however, that the
evidence for assigning him so long a life rests solely on the supposed
identity of the figure known as "Il Vecchietto," in the Varallo Descent
from the Cross chapel, with the portrait of Tabachetti himself in the
Ecce Homo chapel, also at Varallo.

I find additional reason for thinking the chapels owe their origin to the
inundation of September 9, 1589, in the fact that the 8th of September is
made a day of pilgrimage to the Saas-Fee chapels throughout the whole
valley of Saas.  It is true the 8th of September is the festival of the
Nativity of the Virgin Mary, so that under any circumstances this would
be a great day, but the fact that not only the people of Saas, but the
whole valley down to Visp, flock to this chapel on the 8th of September,
points to the belief that some special act of grace on the part of the
Virgin was vouchsafed on this day in connection with this chapel.  A
belief that it was owing to the intervention of St. Mary of Fee that the
inundation was not attended with loss of life would be very likely to
lead to the foundation of a series of chapels leading up to the place
where her miraculous picture was placed, and to the more special
celebration of her Nativity in connection with this spot throughout the
valley of Saas.  I have discussed the subject with the Rev. Jos. Ant.
Ruppen, and he told me he thought the fact that the great _fete_ of the
year in connection with the Saas-Fee chapels was on the 8th of September
pointed rather strongly to the supposition that there was a connection
between these and the recorded flood of September 9, 1589.

Turning to the individual chapels they are as follows:--

1.  The Annunciation.  The treatment here presents no more analogy to
that of the same subject at Varallo than is inevitable in the nature of
the subject.  The Annunciation figures at Varallo have proved to be mere
draped dummies with wooden heads; Tabachetti, even though he did the
heads, which he very likely did, would take no interest in the Varallo
work with the same subject.  The Annunciation, from its very simplicity
as well as from the transcendental nature of the subject, is singularly
hard to treat, and the work here, whatever it may once have been, is now
no longer remarkable.

2.  The Salutation of Mary by Elizabeth.  This group, again, bears no
analogy to the Salutation chapel at Varallo, in which Tabachetti's share
was so small that it cannot be considered as in any way his.  It is not
to be expected, therefore, that the Saas chapel should follow the Varallo
one.  The figures, four in number, are pleasing and well arranged.  St.
Joseph, St. Elizabeth, and St. Zacharias are all talking at once.  The
Virgin is alone silent.

3.  The Nativity is much damaged and hard to see.  The treatment bears no
analogy to that adopted by Gaudenzio Ferrari at Varallo.  There is one
pleasing young shepherd standing against the wall, but some figures have
no doubt (as in others of the chapels) disappeared, and those that remain
have been so shifted from their original positions that very little idea
can be formed of what the group was like when Tabachetti left it.

4.  The Purification.  I can hardly say why this chapel should remind me,
as it does, of the Circumcision chapel at Varallo, for there are more
figures here than space at Varallo will allow.  It cannot be pretended
that any single figure is of extraordinary merit, but amongst them they
tell their story with excellent effect.  Two, those of St. Joseph and St.
Anna (?), that doubtless were once more important factors in the drama,
are now so much in corners near the window that they can hardly be seen.

5.  The Dispute in the Temple.  This subject is not treated at Varallo.
Here at Saas there are only six doctors now; whether or no there were
originally more cannot be determined.

6.  The Agony in the Garden.  Tabachetti had no chapel with this subject
at Varallo, and there is no resemblance between the Saas chapel and that
by D'Enrico.  The figures are no doubt approximately in their original
positions, but I have no confidence that I have rearranged them
correctly.  They were in such confusion when I first saw them that the
Rev. E. J. Selwyn and myself determined to rearrange them.  They have
doubtless been shifted more than once since Tabachetti left them.  The
sleeping figures are all good.  St. James is perhaps a little prosaic.
One Roman soldier who is coming into the garden with a lantern, and
motioning silence with his hand, does duty for the others that are to
follow him.  I should think more than one of these figures is actually
carved in wood by Tabachetti, allowance being made for the fact that he
was working in a material with which he was not familiar, and which no
sculptor of the highest rank has ever found congenial.

7.  The Flagellation.  Tabachetti has a chapel with this subject at
Varallo, and the Saas group is obviously a descent with modification from
his work there.  The figure of Christ is so like the one at Varallo that
I think it must have been carved by Tabachetti himself.  The man with the
hooked nose, who at Varallo is stooping to bind his rods, is here
upright: it was probably the intention to emphasise him in the succeeding
scenes as well as this, in the same way as he has been emphasised at
Varallo, but his nose got pared down in the cutting of later scenes, and
could not easily be added to.  The man binding Christ to the column at
Varallo is repeated (_longo intervallo_) here, and the whole work is one
inspired by that at Varallo, though no single figure except that of the
Christ is adhered to with any very great closeness.  I think the nearer
malefactor, with a goitre, and wearing a large black hat, is either an
addition of the year 1709, or was done by the journeyman of the local
sculptor who carved the greater number of the figures.  The man stooping
down to bind his rods can hardly be by the same hand as either of the two
black-hatted malefactors, but it is impossible to speak with certainty.
The general effect of the chapel is excellent, if we consider the
material in which it is executed, and the rudeness of the audience to
whom it addresses itself.

8.  The Crowning with Thorns.  Here again the inspiration is derived from
Tabachetti's Crowning with Thorns at Varallo.  The Christs in the two
chapels are strikingly alike, and the general effect is that of a
residuary impression left in the mind of one who had known the Varallo
Flagellation exceedingly well.

9.  Sta. Veronica.  This and the next succeeding chapels are the most
important of the series.  Tabachetti's Journey to Calvary at Varallo is
again the source from which the present work was taken, but, as I have
already said, it has been modified in reproduction.  Mount Calvary is
still shown, as at Varallo, towards the left-hand corner of the work, but
at Saas it is more towards the middle than at Varallo, so that horsemen
and soldiers may be seen coming up behind it--a stroke that deserves the
name of genius none the less for the manifest imperfection with which it
has been carried into execution.  There are only three horses fully
shown, and one partly shown.  They are all of the heavy Flemish type
adopted by Tabachetti at Varallo.  The man kicking the fallen Christ and
the goitred man (with the same teeth missing), who are so conspicuous in
the Varallo Journey to Calvary, reappear here, only the kicking man has
much less nose than at Varallo, probably because (as explained) the nose
got whittled away and could not be whittled back again.  I observe that
the kind of lapelled tunic which Tabachetti, and only Tabachetti, adopts
at Varallo, is adopted for the centurion in this chapel, and indeed
throughout the Saas chapels this particular form of tunic is the most
usual for a Roman soldier.  The work is still a very striking one,
notwithstanding its translation into wood and the decay into which it has
been allowed to fall; nor can it fail to impress the visitor who is
familiar with this class of art as coming from a man of extraordinary
dramatic power and command over the almost impossible art of composing
many figures together effectively in all-round sculpture.  Whether all
the figures are even now as Tabachetti left them I cannot determine, but
Mr. Selwyn has restored Simon the Cyrenian to the position in which he
obviously ought to stand, and between us we have got the chapel into
something more like order.

10.  The Crucifixion.  This subject was treated at Varallo not by
Tabachetti but by Gaudenzio Ferrari.  It confirms therefore my opinion as
to the designer of the Saas chapels to find in them no trace of the
Varallo Crucifixion, while the kind of tunic which at Varallo is only
found in chapels wherein Tabachetti worked again appears here.  The work
is in a deplorable state of decay.  Mr. Selwyn has greatly improved the
arrangement of the figures, but even now they are not, I imagine, quite
as Tabachetti left them.  The figure of Christ is greatly better in
technical execution than that of either of the two thieves; the folds of
the drapery alone will show this even to an unpractised eye.  I do not
think there can be a doubt but that Tabachetti cut this figure himself,
as also those of the Magdalene and St. John, who stand at the foot of the
cross.  The thieves are coarsely executed, with no very obvious
distinction between the penitent and the impenitent one, except that
there is a fiend painted on the ceiling over the impenitent thief.  The
one horse introduced into the composition is again of the heavy Flemish
type adopted by Tabachetti at Varallo.  There is great difference in the
care with which the folds on the several draperies have been cut, some
being stiff and poor enough, while others are done very sufficiently.  In
spite of smallness of scale, ignoble material, disarrangement and decay,
the work is still striking.

11.  The Resurrection.  There being no chapel at Varallo with any of the
remaining subjects treated at Saas, the sculptor has struck out a line
for himself.  The Christ in the Resurrection Chapel is a carefully
modelled figure, and if better painted might not be ineffective.  Three
soldiers, one sleeping, alone remain.  There were probably other figures
that have been lost.  The sleeping soldier is very pleasing.

12.  The Ascension is not remarkably interesting; the Christ appears to
be, but perhaps is not, a much more modern figure than the rest.

18.  The Descent of the Holy Ghost.  Some of the figures along the end
wall are very good, and were, I should imagine, cut by Tabachetti
himself.  Those against the two side walls are not so well cut.

14.  The Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  The two large cherubs here are
obviously by a later hand, and the small ones are not good.  The figure
of the Virgin herself is unexceptionable.  There were doubtless once
other figures of the Apostles which have disappeared; of these a single
St. Peter (?), so hidden away in a corner near the window that it can
only be seen with difficulty, is the sole survivor.

15.  The Coronation of the Virgin is of later date, and has probably
superseded an earlier work.  It can hardly be by the designer of the
other chapels of the series.  Perhaps Tabachetti had to leave for Crea
before all the chapels at Saas were finished.

Lastly, we have the larger chapel dedicated to St. Mary, which crowns the
series.  Here there is nothing of more than common artistic interest,
unless we except the stone altar mentioned in Ruppen's chronicle.  This
is of course classical in style, and is, I should think, very good.

Once more I must caution the reader against expecting to find
highly-finished gems of art in the chapels I have been describing.  A
wooden figure not more than two feet high clogged with many coats of
paint can hardly claim to be taken very seriously, and even those few
that were cut by Tabachetti himself were not meant to have attention
concentrated on themselves alone.  As mere wood-carving the Saas-Fee
chapels will not stand comparison, for example, with the triptych of
unknown authorship in the Church of St. Anne at Gliss, close to Brieg.
But, in the first place, the work at Gliss is worthy of Holbein himself:
I know no wood-carving that can so rivet the attention; moreover it is
coloured with water-colour and not oil, so that it is tinted, not
painted; and, in the second place, the Gliss triptych belongs to a date
(1519) when artists held neither time nor impressionism as objects, and
hence, though greatly better than the Saas-Fee chapels as regards a
certain Japanese curiousness of finish and _naivete_ of literal
transcription, it cannot even enter the lists with the Saas work as
regards _elan_ and dramatic effectiveness.  The difference between the
two classes of work is much that between, say, John Van Eyck or Memling
and Rubens or Rembrandt, or, again, between Giovanni Bellini and
Tintoretto; the aims of the one class of work are incompatible with those
of the other.  Moreover, in the Gliss triptych the intention of the
designer is carried out (whether by himself or no) with admirable skill;
whereas at Saas the wisdom of the workman is rather of Ober-Ammergau than
of the Egyptians, and the voice of the poet is not a little drowned in
that of his mouthpiece.  If, however, the reader will bear in mind these
somewhat obvious considerations, and will also remember the pathetic
circumstances under which the chapels were designed--for Tabachetti when
he reached Saas was no doubt shattered in body and mind by his four
years' imprisonment--he will probably be not less attracted to them than
I observed were many of the visitors both at Saas-Grund and Saas-Fee with
whom I had the pleasure of examining them.

I will now run briefly through the other principal works in the
neighbourhood to which I think the reader would be glad to have his
attention directed.

At Saas-Fee itself the main altar-piece is without interest, as also one
with a figure of St. Sebastian.  The Virgin and Child above the remaining
altar are, so far as I remember them, very good, and greatly superior to
the smaller figures of the same altar-piece.

At Almagel, an hour's walk or so above Saas-Grund--a village, the name of
which, like those of the Alphubel, the Monte Moro, and more than one
other neighbouring site, is supposed to be of Saracenic origin--the main
altar-piece represents a female saint with folded arms being beheaded by
a vigorous man to the left.  These two figures are very good.  There are
two somewhat inferior elders to the right, and the composition is crowned
by the Assumption of the Virgin.  I like the work, but have no idea who
did it.  Two bishops flanking the composition are not so good.  There are
two other altars in the church: the right-hand one has some pleasing
figures, not so the left-hand.

In St. Joseph's Chapel, on the mule-road between Saas-Grund and Saas-Fee,
the St. Joseph and the two children are rather nice.  In the churches and
chapels which I looked into between Saas and Stalden, I saw many florid
extravagant altar-pieces, but nothing that impressed me favourably.

In the parish church at Saas-Grund there are two altar-pieces which
deserve attention.  In the one over the main altar the arrangement of the
Last Supper in a deep recess half-way up the composition is very pleasing
and effective; in that above the right-hand altar of the two that stand
in the body of the church there are a number of round lunettes, about
eight inches in diameter, each containing a small but spirited group of
wooden figures.  I have lost my notes on these altar-pieces and can only
remember that the main one has been restored, and now belongs to two
different dates, the earlier date being, I should imagine, about 1670.  A
similar treatment of the Last Supper may be found near Brieg in the
church of Naters, and no doubt the two altar-pieces are by the same man.
There are, by the way, two very ambitious altars on either side the main
arch leading to the chance in the church at Naters, of which the one on
the south side contains obvious reminiscences of Gaudenzio Ferrari's Sta.
Maria frescoes at Varallo; but none of the four altar-pieces in the two
transepts tempted me to give them much attention.  As regards the smaller
altar-piece at Saas-Grund, analogous work may be found at Cravagliana,
half-way between Varallo and Fobello, but this last has suffered through
the inveterate habit which Italians have of showing their hatred towards
the enemies of Christ by mutilating the figures that represent them.
Whether the Saas work is by a Valsesian artist who came over to
Switzerland, or whether the Cravagliana work is by a Swiss who had come
to Italy, I cannot say without further consideration and closer
examination than I have been able to give.  The altar-pieces of Mairengo,
Chiggiogna, and, I am told, Lavertezzo, all in the Canton Ticino, are by
a Swiss or German artist who has migrated southward; but the reverse
migration was equally common.

Being in the neighbourhood, and wishing to assure myself whether the
sculptor of the Saas-Fee chapels had or had not come lower down the
valley, I examined every church and village which I could hear of as
containing anything that might throw light on this point.  I was thus led
to Vispertimenen, a village some three hours above either Visp or
Stalden.  It stands very high, and is an almost untouched example of a
medieval village.  The altar-piece of the main church is even more
floridly ambitious in its abundance of carving and gilding than the many
other ambitious altar-pieces with which the Canton Valais abounds.  The
Apostles are receiving the Holy Ghost on the first storey of the
composition, and they certainly are receiving it with an overjoyed
alacrity and hilarious ecstasy of _allegria spirituale_ which it would
not be easy to surpass.  Above the village, reaching almost to the limits
beyond which there is no cultivation, there stands a series of chapels
like those I have been describing at Saas-Fee, only much larger and more
ambitious.  They are twelve in number, including the church that crowns
the series.  The figures they contain are of wood (so I was assured, but
I did not go inside the chapels): they are life-size, and in some chapels
there are as many as a dozen figures.  I should think they belonged to
the later half of the last century, and here, one would say, sculpture
touches the ground; at least, it is not easy to see how cheap
exaggeration can sink an art more deeply.  The only things that at all
pleased me were a smiling donkey and an ecstatic cow in the Nativity
chapel.  Those who are not allured by the prospect of seeing perhaps the
very worst that can be done in its own line, need not be at the pains of
climbing up to Vispertimenen.  Those, on the other hand, who may find
this sufficient inducement will not be disappointed, and they will enjoy
magnificent views of the Weisshorn and the mountains near the Dom.

I have already referred to the triptych at Gliss.  This is figured in
Wolf's work on Chamonix and the Canton Valais, but a larger and clearer
reproduction of such an extraordinary work is greatly to be desired.  The
small wooden statues above the triptych, as also those above its modern
companion in the south transept, are not less admirable than the triptych
itself.  I know of no other like work in wood, and have no clue whatever
as to who the author can have been beyond the fact that the work is
purely German and eminently Holbeinesque in character.

I was told of some chapels at Rarogne, five or six miles lower down the
valley than Visp.  I examined them, and found they had been stripped of
their figures.  The few that remained satisfied me that we have had no
loss.  Above Brieg there are two other like series of chapels.  I
examined the higher and more promising of the two, but found not one
single figure left.  I was told by my driver that the other series, close
to the Pont Napoleon on the Simplon road, had been also stripped of its
figures, and, there being a heavy storm at the time, have taken his word
for it that this was so.


Three well-known writers, Professor Max Muller, Professor Mivart, and Mr.
Alfred Russel Wallace have lately maintained that though the theory of
descent with modification accounts for the development of all vegetable
life, and of all animals lower than man, yet that man cannot--not at
least in respect of the whole of his nature--be held to have descended
from any animal lower than himself, inasmuch as none lower than man
possesses even the germs of language.  Reason, it is contended--more
especially by Professor Max Muller in his "Science of Thought," to which
I propose confining our attention this evening--is so inseparably
connected with language, that the two are in point of fact identical;
hence it is argued that, as the lower animals have no germs of language,
they can have no germs of reason, and the inference is drawn that man
cannot be conceived as having derived his own reasoning powers and
command of language through descent from beings in which no germ of
either can be found.  The relations therefore between thought and
language, interesting in themselves, acquire additional importance from
the fact of their having become the battle-ground between those who say
that the theory of descent breaks down with man, and those who maintain
that we are descended from some ape-like ancestor long since extinct.

The contention of those who refuse to admit man unreservedly into the
scheme of evolution is comparatively recent.  The great propounders of
evolution, Buffon, Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck--not to mention a score of
others who wrote at the close of the last and early part of this present
century--had no qualms about admitting man into their system.  They have
been followed in this respect by the late Mr. Charles Darwin, and by the
greatly more influential part of our modern biologists, who hold that
whatever loss of dignity we may incur through being proved to be of
humble origin, is compensated by the credit we may claim for having
advanced ourselves to such a high pitch of civilisation; this bids us
expect still further progress, and glorifies our descendants more than it
abases our ancestors.  But to whichever view we may incline on
sentimental grounds the fact remains that, while Charles Darwin declared
language to form no impassable barrier between man and the lower animals,
Professor Max Muller calls it the Rubicon which no brute dare cross, and
deduces hence the conclusion that man cannot have descended from an
unknown but certainly speechless ape.

It may perhaps be expected that I should begin a lecture on the relations
between thought and language with some definition of both these things;
but thought, as Sir William Grove said of motion, is a phenomenon "so
obvious to simple apprehension, that to define it would make it more
obscure." {17}  Definitions are useful where things are new to us, but
they are superfluous about those that are already familiar, and
mischievous, so far as they are possible at all, in respect of all those
things that enter so profoundly and intimately into our being that in
them we must either live or bear no life.  To vivisect the more vital
processes of thought is to suspend, if not to destroy them; for thought
can think about everything more healthily and easily than about itself.
It is like its instrument the brain, which knows nothing of any injuries
inflicted upon itself.  As regards what is new to us, a definition will
sometimes dilute a difficulty, and help us to swallow that which might
choke us undiluted; but to define when we have once well swallowed is to
unsettle, rather than settle, our digestion.  Definitions, again, are
like steps cut in a steep slope of ice, or shells thrown on to a greasy
pavement; they give us foothold, and enable us to advance, but when we
are at our journey's end we want them no longer.  Again, they are useful
as mental fluxes, and as helping us to fuse new ideas with our older
ones.  They present us with some tags and ends of ideas that we have
already mastered, on to which we can hitch our new ones; but to multiply
them in respect of such a matter as thought, is like scratching the bite
of a gnat; the more we scratch the more we want to scratch; the more we
define the more we shall have to go on defining the words we have used in
our definitions, and shall end by setting up a serious mental raw in the
place of a small uneasiness that was after all quite endurable.  We know
too well what thought is, to be able to know that we know it, and I am
persuaded there is no one in this room but understands what is meant by
thought and thinking well enough for all the purposes of this discussion.
Whoever does not know this without words will not learn it for all the
words and definitions that are laid before him.  The more, indeed, he
hears, the more confused he will become.  I shall, therefore, merely
premise that I use the word "thought" in the same sense as that in which
it is generally used by people who say that they think this or that.  At
any rate, it will be enough if I take Professor Max Muller's own
definition, and say that its essence consists in a bringing together of
mental images and ideas with deductions therefrom, and with a
corresponding power of detaching them from one another.  Hobbes, the
Professor tells us, maintained this long ago, when he said that all our
thinking consists of addition and subtraction--that is to say, in
bringing ideas together, and in detaching them from one another.

Turning from thought to language, we observe that the word is derived
from the French _langue_, or _tongue_.  Strictly, therefore, it means
_tonguage_.  This, however, takes account of but a very small part of the
ideas that underlie the word.  It does, indeed, seize a familiar and
important detail of everyday speech, though it may be doubted whether the
tongue has more to do with speaking than lips, teeth and throat have, but
it makes no attempt at grasping and expressing the essential
characteristic of speech.  Anything done with the tongue, even though it
involve no speaking at all, is _tonguage_; eating oranges is as much
tonguage as speech is.  The word, therefore, though it tells us in part
how speech is effected, reveals nothing of that ulterior meaning which is
nevertheless inseparable from any right use of the words either "speech"
or "language."  It presents us with what is indeed a very frequent
adjunct of conversation, but the use of written characters, or the finger-
speech of deaf mutes, is enough to show that the word "language" omits
all reference to the most essential characteristics of the idea, which in
practice it nevertheless very sufficiently presents to us.  I hope
presently to make it clear to you how and why it should do so.  The word
is incomplete in the first place, because it omits all reference to the
ideas which words, speech or language are intended to convey, and there
can be no true word without its actually or potentially conveying an
idea.  Secondly, it makes no allusion to the person or persons to whom
the ideas are to be conveyed.  Language is not language unless it not
only expresses fairly definite and coherent ideas, but unless it also
conveys these ideas to some other living intelligent being, either man or
brute, that can understand them.  We may speak to a dog or horse, but not
to a stone.  If we make pretence of doing so we are in reality only
talking to ourselves.  The person or animal spoken to is half the
battle--a half, moreover, which is essential to there being any battle at
all.  It takes two people to say a thing--a sayee as well as a sayer.  The
one is as essential to any true saying as the other.  A. may have spoken,
but if B. has not heard, there has been nothing said, and he must speak
again.  True, the belief on A.'s part that he had a _bona fide_ sayee in
B., saves his speech qua him, but it has been barren and left no fertile
issue.  It has failed to fulfil the conditions of true speech, which
involve not only that A. should speak, but also that B. should hear.
True, again, we often speak of loose, incoherent, indefinite language;
but by doing so we imply, and rightly, that we are calling that language
which is not true language at all.  People, again, sometimes talk to
themselves without intending that any other person should hear them, but
this is not well done, and does harm to those who practise it.  It is
abnormal, whereas our concern is with normal and essential
characteristics; we may, therefore, neglect both delirious babblings, and
the cases in which a person is regarding him or herself, as it were, from
outside, and treating himself as though he were some one else.

Inquiring, then, what are the essentials, the presence of which
constitutes language, while their absence negatives it altogether, we
find that Professor Max Muller restricts them to the use of grammatical
articulate words that we can write or speak, and denies that anything can
be called language unless it can be written or spoken in articulate words
and sentences.  He also denies that we can think at all unless we do so
in words; that is to say, in sentences with verbs and nouns.  Indeed he
goes so far as to say upon his title-page that there can be no
reason--which I imagine comes to much the same thing as thought--without
language, and no language without reason.

Against the assertion that there can be no true language without reason I
have nothing to say.  But when the Professor says that there can be no
reason, or thought, without language, his opponents contend, as it seems
to me, with greater force, that thought, though infinitely aided,
extended and rendered definite through the invention of words,
nevertheless existed so fully as to deserve no other name thousands, if
not millions of years before words had entered into it at all.  Words,
they say, are a comparatively recent invention, for the fuller expression
of something that was already in existence.

Children, they urge, are often evidently thinking and reasoning, though
they can neither think nor speak in words.  If you ask me to define
reason, I answer as before that this can no more be done than thought,
truth or motion can be defined.  Who has answered the question, "What is
truth?"  Man cannot see God and live.  We cannot go so far back upon
ourselves as to undermine our own foundations; if we try to do we topple
over, and lose that very reason about which we vainly try to reason.  If
we let the foundations be, we know well enough that they are there, and
we can build upon them in all security.  We cannot, then, define reason
nor crib, cabin and confine it within a thus-far-shalt-thou-go-and-no-
further.  Who can define heat or cold, or night or day?  Yet, so long as
we hold fast by current consent, our chances of error for want of better
definition are so small that no sensible person will consider them.  In
like manner, if we hold by current consent or common sense, which is the
same thing, about reason, we shall not find the want of an academic
definition hinder us from a reasonable conclusion.  What nurse or mother
will doubt that her infant child can reason within the limits of its own
experience, long before it can formulate its reason in articulately
worded thought?  If the development of any given animal is, as our
opponents themselves admit, an epitome of the history of its whole
anterior development, surely the fact that speech is an accomplishment
acquired after birth so artificially that children who have gone wild in
the woods lose it if they have ever learned it, points to the conclusion
that man's ancestors only learned to express themselves in articulate
language at a comparatively recent period.  Granted that they learn to
think and reason continually the more and more fully for having done so,
will common sense permit us to suppose that they could neither think nor
reason at all till they could convey their ideas in words?

I will return later to the reason of the lower animals, but will now deal
with the question what it is that constitutes language in the most
comprehensive sense that can be properly attached to it.  I have said
already that language to be language at all must not only convey fairly
definite coherent ideas, but must also convey them to another living
being.  Whenever two living beings have conveyed and received ideas,
there has been language, whether looks or gestures or words spoken or
written have been the vehicle by means of which the ideas have travelled.
Some ideas crawl, some run, some fly; and in this case words are the
wings they fly with, but they are only the wings of thought or of ideas,
they are not the thought or ideas themselves, nor yet, as Professor Max
Muller would have it, inseparably connected with them.  Last summer I was
at an inn in Sicily, where there was a deaf and dumb waiter; he had been
born so, and could neither write nor read.  What had he to do with words
or words with him?  Are we to say, then, that this most active, amiable
and intelligent fellow could neither think nor reason?  One day I had had
my dinner and had left the hotel.  A friend came in, and the waiter saw
him look for me in the place I generally occupied.  He instantly came up
to my friend, and moved his two forefingers in a way that suggested two
people going about together, this meant "your friend"; he then moved his
forefingers horizontally across his eyes, this meant, "who wears divided
spectacles"; he made two fierce marks over the sockets of his eyes, this
meant, "with the heavy eyebrows"; he pulled his chin, and then touched
his white shirt, to say that my beard was white.  Having thus identified
me as a friend of the person he was speaking to, and as having a white
beard, heavy eyebrows, and wearing divided spectacles, he made a munching
movement with his jaws to say that I had had my dinner; and finally, by
making two fingers imitate walking on the table, he explained that I had
gone away.  My friend, however, wanted to know how long I had been gone,
so he pulled out his watch and looked inquiringly.  The man at once
slapped himself on the back, and held up the five fingers of one hand, to
say it was five minutes ago.  All this was done as rapidly as though it
had been said in words; and my friend, who knew the man well, understood
without a moment's hesitation.  Are we to say that this man had no
thought, nor reason, nor language, merely because he had not a single
word of any kind in his head, which I am assured he had not; for, as I
have said, he could not speak with his fingers?  Is it possible to deny
that a dialogue--an intelligent conversation--had passed between the two
men?  And if conversation, then surely it is technical and pedantic to
deny that all the essential elements of language were present.  The signs
and tokens used by this poor fellow were as rude an instrument of
expression, in comparison with ordinary language, as going on one's hands
and knees is in comparison with walking, or as walking compared with
going by train; but it is as great an abuse of words to limit the word
"language" to mere words written or spoken, as it would be to limit the
idea of a locomotive to a railway engine.  This may indeed pass in
ordinary conversation, where so much must be suppressed if talk is to be
got through at all, but it is intolerable when we are inquiring about the
relations between thought and words.  To do so is to let words become as
it were the masters of thought, on the ground that the fact of their
being only its servants and appendages is so obvious that it is generally
allowed to go without saying.

If all that Professor Max Muller means to say is, that no animal but man
commands an articulate language, with verbs and nouns, or is ever likely
to command one (and I question whether in reality he means much more than
this), no one will differ from him.  No dog or elephant has one word for
bread, another for meat, and another for water.  Yet, when we watch a cat
or dog dreaming, as they often evidently do, can we doubt that the dream
is accompanied by a mental image of the thing that is dreamed of, much
like what we experience in dreams ourselves, and much doubtless like the
mental images which must have passed through the mind of my deaf and dumb
waiter?  If they have mental images in sleep, can we doubt that waking,
also, they picture things before their mind's eyes, and see them much as
we do--too vaguely indeed to admit of our thinking that we actually see
the objects themselves, but definitely enough for us to be able to
recognise the idea or object of which we are thinking, and to connect it
with any other idea, object, or sign that we may think appropriate?

Here we have touched on the second essential element of language.  We
laid it down, that its essence lay in the communication of an idea from
one intelligent being to another; but no ideas can be communicated at all
except by the aid of conventions to which both parties have agreed to
attach an identical meaning.  The agreement may be very informal, and may
pass so unconsciously from one generation to another that its existence
can only be recognised by the aid of much introspection, but it will be
always there.  A sayer, a sayee, and a convention, no matter what, agreed
upon between them as inseparably attached to the idea which it is
intended to convey--these comprise all the essentials of language.  Where
these are present there is language; where any of them are wanting there
is no language.  It is not necessary for the sayee to be able to speak
and become a sayer.  If he comprehends the sayer--that is to say, if he
attaches the same meaning to a certain symbol as the sayer does--if he is
a party to the bargain whereby it is agreed upon by both that any given
symbol shall be attached invariably to a certain idea, so that in virtue
of the principle of associated ideas the symbol shall never be present
without immediately carrying the idea along with it, then all the
essentials of language are complied with, and there has been true speech
though never a word was spoken.

The lower animals, therefore, many of them, possess a part of our own
language, though they cannot speak it, and hence do not possess it so
fully as we do.  They cannot say "bread," "meat," or "water," but there
are many that readily learn what ideas they ought to attach to these
symbols when they are presented to them.  It is idle to say that a cat
does not know what the cat's-meat man means when he says "meat."  The cat
knows just as well, neither better nor worse than the cat's-meat man
does, and a great deal better than I myself understand much that is said
by some very clever people at Oxford or Cambridge.  There is more true
employment of language, more _bona fide_ currency of speech, between a
sayer and a sayee who understand each other, though neither of them can
speak a word, than between a sayer who can speak with the tongues of men
and of angels without being clear about his own meaning, and a sayee who
can himself utter the same words, but who is only in imperfect agreement
with the sayer as to the ideas which the words or symbols that he utters
are intended to convey.  The nature of the symbols counts for nothing;
the gist of the matter is in the perfect harmony between sayer and sayee
as to the significance that is to be associated with them.

Professor Max Muller admits that we share with the lower animals what he
calls an emotional language, and continues that we may call their
interjections and imitations language if we like, as we speak of the
language of the eyes or the eloquence of mute nature, but he warns us
against mistaking metaphor for fact.  It is indeed mere metaphor to talk
of the eloquence of mute nature, or the language of winds and waves.
There is no intercommunion of mind with mind by means of a covenanted
symbol; but it is only an apparent, not a real, metaphor to say that two
pairs of eyes have spoken when they have signalled to one another
something which they both understand.  A schoolboy at home for the
holidays wants another plate of pudding, and does not like to apply
officially for more.  He catches the servant's eye and looks at the
pudding; the servant understands, takes his plate without a word, and
gets him some.  Is it metaphor to say that the boy asked the servant to
do this, or is it not rather pedantry to insist on the letter of a bond
and deny its spirit, by denying that language passed, on the ground that
the symbols covenanted upon and assented to by both were uttered and
received by eyes and not by mouth and ears?  When the lady drank to the
gentleman only with her eyes, and he pledged with his, was there no
conversation because there was neither noun nor verb?  Eyes are verbs,
and glasses of wine are good nouns enough as between those who understand
one another.  Whether the ideas underlying them are expressed and
conveyed by eyeage or by tonguage is a detail that matters nothing.

But everything we say is metaphorical if we choose to be captious.
Scratch the simplest expressions, and you will find the metaphor.  Written
words are handage, inkage and paperage; it is only by metaphor, or
substitution and transposition of ideas, that we can call them language.
They are indeed potential language, and the symbols employed presuppose
nouns, verbs, and the other parts of speech; but for the most part it is
in what we read between the lines that the profounder meaning of any
letter is conveyed.  There are words unwritten and untranslatable into
any nouns that are nevertheless felt as above, about and underneath the
gross material symbols that lie scrawled upon the paper; and the deeper
the feeling with which anything is written the more pregnant will it be
of meaning which can be conveyed securely enough, but which loses rather
than gains if it is squeezed into a sentence, and limited by the parts of
speech.  The language is not in the words but in the heart-to-heartness
of the thing, which is helped by words, but is nearer and farther than
they.  A correspondent wrote to me once, many years ago, "If I could
think to you without words you would understand me better."  But surely
in this he was thinking to me, and without words, and I did understand
him better . . .  So it is not by the words that I am too presumptuously
venturing to speak to-night that your opinions will be formed or
modified.  They will be formed or modified, if either, by something that
you will feel, but which I have not spoken, to the full as much as by
anything that I have actually uttered.  You may say that this borders on
mysticism.  Perhaps it does, but their really is some mysticism in

To return, however, to _terra firma_.  I believe I am right in saying
that the essence of language lies in the intentional conveyance of ideas
from one living being to another through the instrumentality of arbitrary
tokens or symbols agreed upon, and understood by both as being associated
with the particular ideas in question.  The nature of the symbol chosen
is a matter of indifference; it may be anything that appeals to human
senses, and is not too hot or too heavy; the essence of the matter lies
in a mutual covenant that whatever it is it shall stand invariably for
the same thing, or nearly so.

We shall see this more easily if we observe the differences between
written and spoken language.  The written word "stone," and the spoken
word, are each of them symbols arrived at in the first instance
arbitrarily.  They are neither of them more like the other than they are
to the idea of a stone which rises before our minds, when we either see
or hear the word, or than this idea again is like the actual stone
itself, but nevertheless the spoken symbol and the written one each alike
convey with certainty the combination of ideas to which we have agreed to
attach them.

The written symbol is formed with the hand, appeals to the eye, leaves a
material trace as long as paper and ink last, can travel as far as paper
and ink can travel, and can be imprinted on eye after eye practically _ad
infinitum_ both as regards time and space.

The spoken symbol is formed by means of various organs in or about the
mouth, appeals to the ear, not the eye, perishes instantly without
material trace, and if it lives at all does so only in the minds of those
who heard it.  The range of its action is no wider than that within which
a voice can be heard; and every time a fresh impression is wanted the
type must be set up anew.

The written symbol extends infinitely, as regards time and space, the
range within which one mind can communicate with another; it gives the
writer's mind a life limited by the duration of ink, paper, and readers,
as against that of his flesh and blood body.  On the other hand, it takes
longer to learn the rules so as to be able to apply them with ease and
security, and even then they cannot be applied so quickly and easily as
those attaching to spoken symbols.  Moreover, the spoken symbol admits of
a hundred quick and subtle adjuncts by way of action, tone and
expression, so that no one will use written symbols unless either for the
special advantages of permanence and travelling power, or because he is
incapacitated from using spoken ones.  This, however, is hardly to the
point; the point is that these two conventional combinations of symbols,
that are as unlike one another as the Hallelujah Chorus is to St. Paul's
Cathedral, are the one as much language as the other; and we therefore
inquire what this very patent fact reveals to us about the more essential
characteristics of language itself.  What is the common bond that unites
these two classes of symbols that seem at first sight to have nothing in
common, and makes the one raise the idea of language in our minds as
readily as the other?  The bond lies in the fact that both are a set of
conventional tokens or symbols, agreed upon between the parties to whom
they appeal as being attached invariably to the same ideas, and because
they are being made as a means of communion between one mind and
another,--for a memorandum made for a person's own later use is nothing
but a communication from an earlier mind to a later and modified one; it
is therefore in reality a communication from one mind to another as much
as though it had been addressed to another person.

We see, therefore, that the nature of the outward and visible sign to
which the inward and spiritual idea of language is attached does not
matter.  It may be the firing of a gun; it may be an old semaphore
telegraph; it may be the movements of a needle; a look, a gesture, the
breaking of a twig by an Indian to tell some one that he has passed that
way: a twig broken designedly with this end in view is a letter addressed
to whomsoever it may concern, as much as though it had been written out
in full on bark or paper.  It does not matter one straw what it is,
provided it is agreed upon in concert, and stuck to.  Just as the lowest
forms of life nevertheless present us with all the essential
characteristics of livingness, and are as much alive in their own humble
way as the most highly developed organisms, so the rudest intentional and
effectual communication between two minds through the instrumentality of
a concerted symbol is as much language as the most finished oratory of
Mr. Gladstone.  I demur therefore to the assertion that the lower animals
have no language, inasmuch as they cannot themselves articulate a
grammatical sentence.  I do not indeed pretend that when the cat calls
upon the tiles it uses what it consciously and introspectively recognises
as language; it says what it has to say without introspection, and in the
ordinary course of business, as one of the common forms of courtship.  It
no more knows that it has been using language than M. Jourdain knew he
had been speaking prose, but M. Jourdain's knowing or not knowing was
neither here nor there.

Anything which can be made to hitch on invariably to a definite idea that
can carry some distance--say an inch at the least, and which can be
repeated at pleasure, can be pressed into the service of language.  Mrs.
Bentley, wife of the famous Dr. Bentley of Trinity College, Cambridge,
used to send her snuff-box to the college buttery when she wanted beer,
instead of a written order.  If the snuff-box came the beer was sent, but
if there was no snuff-box there was no beer.  Wherein did the snuff-box
differ more from a written order, than a written order differs from a
spoken one?  The snuff-box was for the time being language.  It sounds
strange to say that one might take a pinch of snuff out of a sentence,
but if the servant had helped him or herself to a pinch while carrying it
to the buttery this is what would have been done; for if a snuff-box can
say "Send me a quart of beer," so efficiently that the beer is sent, it
is impossible to say that it is not a _bona fide_ sentence.  As for the
recipient of the message, the butler did not probably translate the snuff-
box into articulate nouns and verbs; as soon as he saw it he just went
down into the cellar and drew the beer, and if he thought at all, it was
probably about something else.  Yet he must have been thinking without
words, or he would have drawn too much beer or too little, or have spilt
it in the bringing it up, and we may be sure that he did none of these

You will, of course, observe that if Mrs. Bentley had sent the snuff-box
to the buttery of St. John's College instead of Trinity, it would not
have been language, for there would have been no covenant between sayer
and sayee as to what the symbol should represent, there would have been
no previously established association of ideas in the mind of the butler
of St. John's between beer and snuff-box; the connection was artificial,
arbitrary, and by no means one of those in respect of which an impromptu
bargain might be proposed by the very symbol itself, and assented to
without previous formality by the person to whom it was presented.  More
briefly, the butler of St. John's would not have been able to understand
and read it aright.  It would have been a dead letter to him--a snuff-box
and not a letter; whereas to the butler of Trinity it was a letter and
not a snuff-box.

You will also note that it was only at the moment when he was looking at
it and accepting it as a message that it flashed forth from snuff-box-
hood into the light and life of living utterance.  As soon as it had
kindled the butler into sending a single quart of beer, its force was
spent until Mrs. Bentley threw her soul into it again and charged it anew
by wanting more beer, and sending it down accordingly.

Again, take the ring which the Earl of Essex sent to Queen Elizabeth, but
which the queen did not receive.  This was intended as a sentence, but
failed to become effectual language because the sensible material symbol
never reached those sentient organs which it was intended to affect.  A
book, again, however full of excellent words it may be, is not language
when it is merely standing on a bookshelf.  It speaks to no one, unless
when being actually read, or quoted from by an act of memory.  It is
potential language as a lucifer-match is potential fire, but it is no
more language till it is in contact with a recipient mind, than a match
is fire till it is struck, and is being consumed.

A piece of music, again, without any words at all, or a song with words
that have nothing in the world to do with the ideas which it is
nevertheless made to convey, is often very effectual language.  Much
lying, and all irony depends on tampering with covenanted symbols, and
making those that are usually associated with one set of ideas convey by
a sleight of mind others of a different nature.  That is why irony is
intolerably fatiguing unless very sparingly used.  Take the song which
Blondel sang under the window of King Richard's prison.  There was not
one syllable in it to say that Blondel was there, and was going to help
the king to get out of prison.  It was about some silly love affair, but
it was a letter all the same, and the king made language of what would
otherwise have been no language, by guessing the meaning, that is to say
by perceiving that he was expected to enter then and there into a new
covenant as to the meaning of the symbols that were presented to him,
understanding what this covenant was to be, and acquiescing in it.

On the other hand, no ingenuity can torture language into being a fit
word to use in connection with either sounds or any other symbols that
have not been intended to convey a meaning, or again in connection with
either sounds or symbols in respect of which there has been no covenant
between sayer and sayee.  When we hear people speaking a foreign
language--we will say Welsh--we feel that though they are no doubt using
what is very good language as between themselves, there is no language
whatever as far as we are concerned.  We call it lingo, not language.  The
Chinese letters on a tea-chest might as well not be there, for all that
they say to us, though the Chinese find them very much to the purpose.
They are a covenant to which we have been no parties--to which our
intelligence has affixed no signature.

We have already seen that it is in virtue of such an understood covenant
that symbols so unlike one another as the written word "stone" and the
spoken word alike at once raise the idea of a stone in our minds.  See
how the same holds good as regards the different languages that pass
current in different nations.  The letters p, i, e, r, r, e convey the
idea of a stone to a Frenchman as readily as s, t, o, n, e do to
ourselves.  And why? because that is the covenant that has been struck
between those who speak and those who are spoken to.  Our "stone" conveys
no idea to a Frenchman, nor his "pierre" to us, unless we have done what
is commonly called acquiring one another's language.  To acquire a
foreign language is only to learn and adhere to the covenants in respect
of symbols which the nation in question has adopted and adheres to.

Till we have done this we neither of us know the rules, so to speak, of
the game that the other is playing, and cannot, therefore, play together;
but the convention being once known and assented to, it does not matter
whether we raise the idea of a stone by the word "lapis," or by "lithos,"
"pietra," "pierre," "stein," "stane" or "stone"; we may choose what
symbols written or spoken we choose, and one set, unless they are of
unwieldy length will do as well as another, if we can get other people to
choose the same and stick to them; it is the accepting and sticking to
them that matters, not the symbols.  The whole power of spoken language
is vested in the invariableness with which certain symbols are associated
with certain ideas.  If we are strict in always connecting the same
symbols with the same ideas, we speak well, keep our meaning clear to
ourselves, and convey it readily and accurately to any one who is also
fairly strict.  If, on the other hand, we use the same combination of
symbols for one thing one day and for another the next, we abuse our
symbols instead of using them, and those who indulge in slovenly habits
in this respect ere long lose the power alike of thinking and of
expressing themselves correctly.  The symbols, however, in the first
instance, may be anything in the wide world that we have a fancy for.
They have no more to do with the ideas they serve to convey than money
has with the things that it serves to buy.

The principle of association, as every one knows, involves that whenever
two things have been associated sufficiently together, the suggestion of
one of them to the mind shall immediately raise a suggestion of the
other.  It is in virtue of this principle that language, as we so call
it, exists at all, for the essence of language consists, as I have said
perhaps already too often, in the fixity with which certain ideas are
invariably connected with certain symbols.  But this being so, it is hard
to see how we can deny that the lower animals possess the germs of a
highly rude and unspecialised, but still true language, unless we also
deny that they have any ideas at all; and this I gather is what Professor
Max Muller in a quiet way rather wishes to do.  Thus he says, "It is easy
enough to show that animals communicate, but this is a fact which has
never been doubted.  Dogs who growl and bark leave no doubt in the minds
of other dogs or cats, or even of man, of what they mean, but growling
and barking are not language, nor do they even contain the elements of
language." {18}

I observe the Professor says that animals communicate without saying what
it is that they communicate.  I believe this to have been because if he
said that the lower animals communicate their ideas, this would be to
admit that they have ideas; if so, and if, as they present every
appearance of doing, they can remember, reflect upon, modify these ideas
according to modified surroundings, and interchange them with one
another, how is it possible to deny them the germs of thought, language,
and reason--not to say a good deal more than the germs?  It seems to me
that not knowing what else to say that animals communicated if it was not
ideas, and not knowing what mess he might not get into if he admitted
that they had ideas at all, he thought it safer to omit his accusative
case altogether.

That growling and barking cannot be called a very highly specialised
language goes without saying; they are, however, so much diversified in
character, according to circumstances, that they place a considerable
number of symbols at an animal's command, and he invariably attaches the
same symbol to the same idea.  A cat never purrs when she is angry, nor
spits when she is pleased.  When she rubs her head against any one
affectionately it is her symbol for saying that she is very fond of him,
and she expects, and usually finds that it will be understood.  If she
sees her mistress raise her hand as though to pretend to strike her, she
knows that it is the symbol her mistress invariably attaches to the idea
of sending her away, and as such she accepts it.  Granted that the
symbols in use among the lower animals are fewer and less highly
differentiated than in the case of any known human language, and
therefore that animal language is incomparably less subtle and less
capable of expressing delicate shades of meaning than our own, these
differences are nevertheless only those that exist between highly
developed and inchoate language; they do not involve those that
distinguish language from no language.  They are the differences between
the undifferentiated protoplasm of the amoeba and our own complex
organisation; they are not the differences between life and no life.  In
animal language as much as in human there is a mind intentionally making
use of a symbol accepted by another mind as invariably attached to a
certain idea, in order to produce that idea in the mind which it is
desired to affect--more briefly, there is a sayer, a sayee, and a
covenanted symbol designedly applied.  Our own speech is vertebrated and
articulated by means of nouns, verbs, and the rules of grammar.  A dog's
speech is invertebrate, but I do not see how it is possible to deny that
it possesses all the essential elements of language.

I have said nothing about Professor R. L. Garner's researches into the
language of apes, because they have not yet been so far verified and
accepted as to make it safe to rely upon them; but when he lays it down
that all voluntary sounds are the products of thought, and that, if they
convey a meaning to another, they perform the functions of human speech,
he says what I believe will commend itself to any unsophisticated mind.  I
could have wished, however, that he had not limited himself to sounds,
and should have preferred his saying what I doubt not he would readily
accept--I mean, that all symbols or tokens of whatever kind, if
voluntarily adopted as such, are the products of thought, and perform the
functions of human speech; but I cannot too often remind you that nothing
can be considered as fulfilling the conditions of language, except a
voluntary application of a recognised token in order to convey a more or
less definite meaning, with the intention doubtless of thus purchasing as
it were some other desired meaning and consequent sensation.  It is
astonishing how closely in this respect money and words resemble one
another.  Money indeed may be considered as the most universal and
expressive of all languages.  For gold and silver coins are no more money
when not in the actual process of being voluntarily used in purchase,
than words not so in use are language.  Pounds, shillings and pence are
recognised covenanted tokens, the outward and visible signs of an inward
and spiritual purchasing power, but till in actual use they are only
potential money, as the symbols of language, whatever they may be, are
only potential language till they are passing between two minds.  It is
the power and will to apply the symbols that alone gives life to money,
and as long as these are in abeyance the money is in abeyance also; the
coins may be safe in one's pocket, but they are as dead as a log till
they begin to burn in it, and so are our words till they begin to burn
within us.

The real question, however, as to the substantial underlying identity
between the language of the lower animals and our own, turns upon that
other question whether or no, in spite of an immeasurable difference of
degree, the thought and reason of man and of the lower animals is
essentially the same.  No one will expect a dog to master and express the
varied ideas that are incessantly arising in connection with human
affairs.  He is a pauper as against a millionaire.  To ask him to do so
would be like giving a street-boy sixpence and telling him to go and buy
himself a founder's share in the New River Company.  He would not even
know what was meant, and even if he did it would take several millions of
sixpences to buy one.  It is astonishing what a clever workman will do
with very modest tools, or again how far a thrifty housewife will make a
very small sum of money go, or again in like manner how many ideas an
intelligent brute can receive and convey with its very limited
vocabulary; but no one will pretend that a dog's intelligence can ever
reach the level of a man's.  What we do maintain is that, within its own
limited range, it is of the same essential character as our own, and that
though a dog's ideas in respect of human affairs are both vague and
narrow, yet in respect of canine affairs they are precise enough and
extensive enough to deserve no other name than thought or reason.  We
hold moreover that they communicate their ideas in essentially the same
manner as we do--that is to say, by the instrumentality of a code of
symbols attached to certain states of mind and material objects, in the
first instance arbitrarily, but so persistently, that the presentation of
the symbol immediately carries with it the idea which it is intended to
convey.  Animals can thus receive and impart ideas on all that most
concerns them.  As my great namesake said some two hundred years ago,
they know "what's what, and that's as high as metaphysic wit can fly."
And they not only know what's what themselves, but can impart to one
another any new what's-whatness that they may have acquired, for they are
notoriously able to instruct and correct one another.

Against this Professor Max Muller contends that we can know nothing of
what goes on in the mind of any lower animal, inasmuch as we are not
lower animals ourselves.  "We can imagine anything we like about what
passes in the mind of an animal," he writes, "we can know absolutely
nothing." {19}  It is something to have it in evidence that he conceives
animals as having a mind at all, but it is not easy to see how they can
be supposed to have a mind, without being able to acquire ideas, and
having acquired, to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them.  Surely
the mistake of requiring too much evidence is hardly less great than that
of being contented with too little.  We, too, are animals, and can no
more refuse to infer reason from certain visible actions in their case
than we can in our own.  If Professor Max Muller's plea were allowed, we
should have to deny our right to infer confidently what passes in the
mind of any one not ourselves, inasmuch as we are not that person.  We
never, indeed, can obtain irrefragable certainty about this or any other
matter, but we can be sure enough in many cases to warrant our staking
all that is most precious to us on the soundness of our opinion.
Moreover, if the Professor denies our right to infer that animals reason,
on the ground that we are not animals enough ourselves to be able to form
an opinion, with what right does he infer so confidently himself that
they do not reason?  And how, if they present every one of those
appearances which we are accustomed to connect with the communication of
an idea from one mind to another, can we deny that they have a language
of their own, though it is one which in most cases we can neither speak
nor understand?  How can we say that a sentinel rook, when it sees a man
with a gun and warns the other rooks by a concerted note which they all
show that they understand by immediately taking flight, should not be
credited both with reason and the germs of language?

After all, a professor, whether of philology, psychology, biology, or any
other ology, is hardly the kind of person to whom we should appeal on
such an elementary question as that of animal intelligence and language.
We might as well ask a botanist to tell us whether grass grows, or a
meteorologist to tell us if it has left off raining.  If it is necessary
to appeal to any one, I should prefer the opinion of an intelligent
gamekeeper to that of any professor, however learned.  The keepers,
again, at the Zoological Gardens, have exceptional opportunities for
studying the minds of animals--modified, indeed, by captivity, but still
minds of animals.  Grooms, again, and dog-fanciers, are to the full as
able to form an intelligent opinion on the reason and language of animals
as any University Professor, and so are cats'-meat men.  I have
repeatedly asked gamekeepers and keepers at the Zoological Gardens
whether animals could reason and converse with one another, and have
always found myself regarded somewhat contemptuously for having even
asked the question.  I once said to a friend, in the hearing of a keeper
at the Zoological Gardens, that the penguin was very stupid.  The man was
furious, and jumped upon me at once.  "He's not stupid at all," said he;
"he's very intelligent."

Who has not seen a cat, when it wishes to go out, raise its fore paws on
to the handle of the door, or as near as it can get, and look round,
evidently asking some one to turn it for her?  Is it reasonable to deny
that a reasoning process is going on in the cat's mind, whereby she
connects her wish with the steps necessary for its fulfilment, and also
with certain invariable symbols which she knows her master or mistress
will interpret?  Once, in company with a friend, I watched a cat playing
with a house-fly in the window of a ground-floor room.  We were in the
street, while the cat was inside.  When we came up to the window she gave
us one searching look, and, having satisfied herself that we had nothing
for her, went on with her game.  She knew all about the glass in the
window, and was sure we could do nothing to molest her, so she treated us
with absolute contempt, never even looking at us again.

The game was this.  She was to catch the fly and roll it round and round
under her paw along the window-sill, but so gently as not to injure it
nor prevent it from being able to fly again when she had done rolling it.
It was very early spring, and flies were scarce, in fact there was not
another in the whole window.  She knew that if she crippled this one, it
would not be able to amuse her further, and that she would not readily
get another instead, and she liked the feel of it under her paw.  It was
soft and living, and the quivering of its wings tickled the ball of her
foot in a manner that she found particularly grateful; so she rolled it
gently along the whole length of the window-sill.  It then became the
fly's turn.  He was to get up and fly about in the window, so as to
recover himself a little; then she was to catch him again, and roll him
softly all along the window-sill, as she had done before.

It was plain that the cat knew the rules of her game perfectly well, and
enjoyed it keenly.  It was equally plain that the fly could not make head
or tail of what it was all about.  If it had been able to do so it would
have gone to play in the upper part of the window, where the cat could
not reach it.  Perhaps it was always hoping to get through the glass, and
escape that way; anyhow, it kept pretty much to the same pane, no matter
how often it was rolled.  At last, however, the fly, for some reason or
another, did not reappear on the pane, and the cat began looking
everywhere to find it.  Her annoyance when she failed to do so was
extreme.  It was not only that she had lost her fly, but that she could
not conceive how she should have ever come to do so.  Presently she noted
a small knot in the woodwork of the sill, and it flashed upon her that
she had accidentally killed the fly, and that this was its dead body.  She
tried to move it gently with her paw, but it was no use, and for the time
she satisfied herself that the knot and the fly had nothing to do with
one another.  Every now and then, however, she returned to it as though
it were the only thing she could think of, and she would try it again.
She seemed to say she was certain there had been no knot there before--she
must have seen it if there had been; and yet, the fly could hardly have
got jammed so firmly into the wood.  She was puzzled and irritated beyond
measure, and kept looking in the same place again and again, just as we
do when we have mislaid something.  She was rapidly losing temper and
dignity when suddenly we saw the fly reappear from under the cat's
stomach and make for the window-pane, at the very moment when the cat
herself was exclaiming for the fiftieth time that she wondered where that
stupid fly ever could have got to.  No man who has been hunting twenty
minutes for his spectacles could be more delighted when he suddenly finds
them on his own forehead.  "So that's where you were," we seemed to hear
her say, as she proceeded to catch it, and again began rolling it very
softly without hurting it, under her paw.  My friend and I both noticed
that the cat, in spite of her perplexity, never so much as hinted that we
were the culprits.  The question whether anything outside the window
could do her good or harm had long since been settled by her in the
negative, and she was not going to reopen it; she simply cut us dead, and
though her annoyance was so great that she was manifestly ready to lay
the blame on anybody or anything with or without reason, and though she
must have perfectly well known that we were watching the whole affair
with amusement, she never either asked us if we had happened to see such
a thing as a fly go down our way lately, or accused us of having taken it
from her--both of which ideas she would, I am confident, have been very
well able to convey to us if she had been so minded.

Now what are thought and reason if the processes that were going through
this cat's mind were not both one and the other?  It would be childish to
suppose that the cat thought in words of its own, or in anything like
words.  Its thinking was probably conducted through the instrumentality
of a series of mental images.  We so habitually think in words ourselves
that we find it difficult to realise thought without words at all; our
difficulty, however, in imagining the particular manner in which the cat
thinks has nothing to do with the matter.  We must answer the question
whether she thinks or no, not according to our own ease or difficulty in
understanding the particular manner of her thinking, but according as her
action does or does not appear to be of the same character as other
action that we commonly call thoughtful.  To say that the cat is not
intelligent, merely on the ground that we cannot ourselves fathom her
intelligence--this, as I have elsewhere said, is to make intelligence
mean the power of being understood, rather than the power of
understanding.  This nevertheless is what, for all our boasted
intelligence, we generally do.  The more we can understand an animal's
ways, the more intelligent we call it, and the less we can understand
these, the more stupid do we declare it to be.  As for plants--whose
punctuality and attention to all the details and routine of their
somewhat restricted lines of business is as obvious as it is beyond all
praise--we understand the working of their minds so little that by common
consent we declare them to have no intelligence at all.

Before concluding I should wish to deal a little more fully with
Professor Max Muller's contention that there can be no reason without
language, and no language without reason.  Surely when two practised
pugilists are fighting, parrying each other's blows, and watching keenly
for an unguarded point, they are thinking and reasoning very subtly the
whole time, without doing so in words.  The machination of their
thoughts, as well as its expression, is actual--I mean, effectuated and
expressed by action and deed, not words.  They are unaware of any logical
sequence of thought that they could follow in words as passing through
their minds at all.  They may perhaps think consciously in words now and
again, but such thought will be intermittent, and the main part of the
fighting will be done without any internal concomitance of articulated
phrases.  Yet we cannot doubt that their action, however much we may
disapprove of it, is guided by intelligence and reason; nor should we
doubt that a reasoning process of the same character goes on in the minds
of two dogs or fighting-cocks when they are striving to master their

Do we think in words, again, when we wind up our watches, put on our
clothes, or eat our breakfasts?  If we do, it is generally about
something else.  We do these things almost as much without the help of
words as we wink or yawn, or perform any of those other actions that we
call reflex, as it would almost seem because they are done without
reflection.  They are not, however, the less reasonable because wordless.

Even when we think we are thinking in words, we do so only in half
measure.  A running accompaniment of words no doubt frequently attends
our thoughts; but, unless we are writing or speaking, this accompaniment
is of the vaguest and most fitful kind, as we often find out when we try
to write down or say what we are thinking about, though we have a fairly
definite notion of it, or fancy that we have one, all the time.  The
thought is not steadily and coherently governed by and moulded in words,
nor does it steadily govern them.  Words and thought interact upon and
help one another, as any other mechanical appliances interact on and help
the invention that first hit upon them; but reason or thought, for the
most part, flies along over the heads of words, working its own
mysterious way in paths that are beyond our ken, though whether some of
our departmental personalities are as unconscious of what is passing, as
that central government is which we alone dub with the name of "we" or
"us," is a point on which I will not now touch.

I cannot think, then, that Professor Max Muller's contention that thought
and language are identical--and he has repeatedly affirmed this--will
ever be generally accepted.  Thought is no more identical with language
than feeling is identical with the nervous system.  True, we can no more
feel without a nervous system than we can discern certain minute
organisms without a microscope.  Destroy the nervous system, and we
destroy feeling.  Destroy the microscope, and we can no longer see the
animalcules; but our sight of the animalcules is not the microscope,
though it is effectuated by means of the microscope, and our feeling is
not the nervous system, though the nervous system is the instrument that
enables us to feel.

The nervous system is a device which living beings have gradually
perfected--I believe I may say quite truly--through the will and power
which they have derived from a fountain-head, the existence of which we
can infer, but which we can never apprehend.  By the help of this device,
and in proportion as they have perfected it, living beings feel ever with
greater definiteness, and hence formulate their feelings in thought with
more and more precision.  The higher evolution of thought has reacted on
the nervous system, and the consequent higher evolution of the nervous
system has again reacted upon thought.  These things are as power and
desire, or supply and demand, each one of which is continually
outstripping, and being in turn outstripped by the other; but, in spite
of their close connection and interaction, power is not desire, nor
demand supply.  Language is a device evolved sometimes by leaps and
bounds, and sometimes exceedingly slowly, whereby we help ourselves alike
to greater ease, precision, and complexity of thought, and also to more
convenient interchange of thought among ourselves.  Thought found rude
expression, which gradually among other forms assumed that of words.
These reacted upon thought, and thought again on them, but thought is no
more identical with words than words are with the separate letters of
which they are composed.

To sum up, then, and to conclude.  I would ask you to see the connection
between words and ideas, as in the first instance arbitrary.  No doubt in
some cases an imitation of the cry of some bird or wild beast would
suggest the name that should be attached to it; occasionally the sound of
an operation such as grinding may have influenced the choice of the
letters g, r, as the root of many words that denote a grinding, grating,
grasping, crushing, action; but I understand that the number of words due
to direct imitation is comparatively few in number, and that they have
been mainly coined as the result of connections so far-fetched and
fanciful as to amount practically to no connection at all.  Once chosen,
however, they were adhered to for a considerable time among the dwellers
in any given place, so as to become acknowledged as the vulgar tongue,
and raise readily in the mind of the inhabitants of that place the ideas
with which they had been artificially associated.

As regards our being able to think and reason without words, the Duke of
Argyll has put the matter as soundly as I have yet seen it stated.  "It
seems to me," he wrote, "quite certain that we can and do constantly
think of things without thinking of any sound or word as designating
them.  Language seems to me to be necessary for the progress of thought,
but not at all for the mere act of thinking.  It is a product of thought,
an expression of it, a vehicle for the communication of it, and an
embodiment which is essential to its growth and continuity; but it seems
to me altogether erroneous to regard it as an inseparable part of

The following passages, again, are quoted from Sir William Hamilton in
Professor Max Muller's own book, with so much approval as to lead one to
suppose that the differences between himself and his opponents are in
reality less than he believes them to be:--

"Language," says Sir W. Hamilton, "is the attribution of signs to our
cognitions of things.  But as a cognition must have already been there
before it could receive a sign, consequently that knowledge which is
denoted by the formation and application of a word must have preceded the
symbol that denotes it.  A sign, however, is necessary to give stability
to our intellectual progress--to establish each step in our advance as a
new starting-point for our advance to another beyond.  A country may be
overrun by an armed host, but it is only conquered by the establishment
of fortresses.  Words are the fortresses of thought.  They enable us to
realise our dominion over what we have already overrun in thought; to
make every intellectual conquest the base of operations for others still

"This," says Professor Max Muller, "is a most happy illustration," and he
proceeds to quote the following, also from Sir William Hamilton, which he
declares to be even happier still.

"You have all heard," says Sir William Hamilton, "of the process of
tunnelling through a sandbank.  In this operation it is impossible to
succeed unless every foot, nay, almost every inch of our progress be
secured by an arch of masonry before we attempt the excavation of
another.  Now language is to the mind precisely what the arch is to the
tunnel.  The power of thinking and the power of excavation are not
dependent on the words in the one case or on the mason-work in the other;
but without these subsidiaries neither could be carried on beyond its
rudimentary commencement.  Though, therefore, we allow that every
movement forward in language must be determined by an antecedent movement
forward in thought, still, unless thought be accompanied at each point of
its evolutions by a corresponding evolution of language, its further
development is arrested."

Man has evolved an articulate language, whereas the lower animals seem to
be without one.  Man, therefore, has far outstripped them in reasoning
faculty as well as in power of expression.  This, however, does not bar
the communications which the lower animals make to one another from
possessing all the essential characteristics of language, and as a matter
of fact, wherever we can follow them we find such communications
effectuated by the aid of arbitrary symbols covenanted upon by the living
beings that wish to communicate, and persistently associated with certain
corresponding feelings, states of mind, or material objects.  Human
language is nothing more than this in principle, however much further the
principle has been carried in our own case than in that of the lower

This being admitted, we should infer that the thought or reason on which
the language of men and animals is alike founded differs as between men
and brutes in degree but not in kind.  More than this cannot be claimed
on behalf of the lower animals, even by their most enthusiastic admirer.


It will be readily admitted that of all living writers Mr. Alfred Russel
Wallace is the one the peculiar turn of whose mind best fits him to write
on the subject of natural selection, or the accumulation of fortunate but
accidental variations through descent and the struggle for existence.  His
mind in all its more essential characteristics closely resembles that of
the late Mr. Charles Darwin himself, and it is no doubt due to this fact
that he and Mr. Darwin elaborated their famous theory at the same time,
and independently of one another.  I shall have occasion in the course of
the following article to show how misled and misleading both these
distinguished men have been, in spite of their unquestionable familiarity
with the whole range of animal and vegetable phenomena.  I believe it
will be more respectful to both of them to do this in the most out-spoken
way.  I believe their work to have been as mischievous as it has been
valuable, and as valuable as it has been mischievous; and higher, whether
praise or blame, I know not how to give.  Nevertheless I would in the
outset, and with the utmost sincerity, admit concerning Messrs. Wallace
and Darwin that neither can be held as the more profound and
conscientious thinker; neither can be put forward as the more ready to
acknowledge obligation to the great writers on evolution who had preceded
him, or to place his own developments in closer and more conspicuous
historical connection with earlier thought upon the subject; neither is
the more ready to welcome criticism and to state his opponent's case in
the most pointed and telling way in which it can be put; neither is the
more quick to encourage new truth; neither is the more genial, generous
adversary, or has the profounder horror of anything even approaching
literary or scientific want of candour; both display the same inimitable
power of putting their opinions forward in the way that shall best ensure
their acceptance; both are equally unrivalled in the tact that tells them
when silence will be golden, and when on the other hand a whole volume of
facts may be advantageously brought forward.  Less than the foregoing
tribute both to Messrs. Darwin and Wallace I will not, and more I cannot

Let us now turn to the most authoritative exponent of latter-day
evolution--I mean to Mr. Wallace, whose work, entitled "Darwinism,"
though it should have been entitled "Wallaceism," is still so far
Darwinistic that it develops the teaching of Mr. Darwin in the direction
given to it by Mr. Darwin himself--so far, indeed, as this can be
ascertained at all--and not in that of Lamarck.  Mr. Wallace tells us, on
the first page of his preface, that he has no intention of dealing even
in outline with the vast subject of evolution in general, and has only
tried to give such an account of the theory of natural selection as may
facilitate a clear conception of Darwin's work.  How far he has succeeded
is a point on which opinion will probably be divided.  Those who find Mr.
Darwin's works clear will also find no difficulty in understanding Mr.
Wallace; those, on the other hand, who find Mr. Darwin puzzling are
little likely to be less puzzled by Mr. Wallace.  He continues:--

"The objections now made to Darwin's theory apply solely to the
particular means by which the change of species has been brought about,
not to the fact of that change."

But "Darwin's theory"--as Mr. Wallace has elsewhere proved that he
understands--has no reference "to the fact of that change"--that is to
say, to the fact that species have been modified in course of descent
from other species.  This is no more Mr. Darwin's theory than it is the
reader's or my own.  Darwin's theory is concerned only with "the
particular means by which the change of species has been brought about";
his contention being that this is mainly due to the natural survival of
those individuals that have happened by some accident to be born most
favourably adapted to their surroundings, or, in other words, through
accumulation in the common course of nature of the more lucky variations
that chance occasionally purveys.  Mr. Wallace's words, then, in reality
amount to this, that the objections now made to Darwin's theory apply
solely to Darwin's theory, which is all very well as far as it goes, but
might have been more easily apprehended if he had simply said, "There are
several objections now made to Mr. Darwin's theory."

It must be remembered that the passage quoted above occurs on the first
page of a preface dated March 1889, when the writer had completed his
task, and was most fully conversant with his subject.  Nevertheless, it
seems indisputable either that he is still confusing evolution with Mr.
Darwin's theory, or that he does not know when his sentences have point
and when they have none.

I should perhaps explain to some readers that Mr. Darwin did not modify
the main theory put forward, first by Buffon, to whom it indisputably
belongs, and adopted from him by Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, and many other
writers in the latter half of the last century and the earlier years of
the present.  The early evolutionists maintained that all existing forms
of animal and vegetable life, including man, were derived in course of
descent with modification from forms resembling the lowest now known.

Mr. Darwin went as far as this, and farther no one can go.  The point at
issue between him and his predecessors involves neither the main fact of
evolution, nor yet the geometrical ratio of increase, and the struggle
for existence consequent thereon.  Messrs. Darwin and Wallace have each
thrown invaluable light upon these last two points, but Buffon, as early
as 1756, had made them the keystone of his system.  "The movement of
nature," he then wrote, "turns on two immovable pivots: one, the
illimitable fecundity which she has given to all species: the other, the
innumerable difficulties which reduce the results of that fecundity."
Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck followed in the same sense.  They thus admit
the survival of the fittest as fully as Mr. Darwin himself, though they
do not make use of this particular expression.  The dispute turns not
upon natural selection, which is common to all writers on evolution, but
upon the nature and causes of the variations that are supposed to be
selected from and thus accumulated.  Are these mainly attributable to the
inherited effects of use and disuse, supplemented by occasional sports
and happy accidents?  Or are they mainly due to sports and happy
accidents, supplemented by occasional inherited effects of use and

The Lamarckian system has all along been maintained by Mr. Herbert
Spencer, who, in his "Principles of Biology," published in 1865, showed
how impossible it was that accidental variations should accumulate at
all.  I am not sure how far Mr. Spencer would consent to being called a
Lamarckian pure and simple, nor yet how far it is strictly accurate to
call him one; nevertheless, I can see no important difference in the main
positions taken by him and by Lamarck.

The question at issue between the Lamarckians, supported by Mr. Spencer
and a growing band of those who have risen in rebellion against the
Charles-Darwinian system on the one hand, and Messrs. Darwin and Wallace
with the greater number of our more prominent biologists on the other,
involves the very existence of evolution as a workable theory.  For it is
plain that what Nature can be supposed able to do by way of choice must
depend on the supply of the variations from which she is supposed to
choose.  She cannot take what is not offered to her; and so again she
cannot be supposed able to accumulate unless what is gained in one
direction in one generation, or series of generations, is little likely
to be lost in those that presently succeed.  Now variations ascribed
mainly to use and disuse can be supposed capable of being accumulated,
for use and disuse are fairly constant for long periods among the
individuals of the same species, and often over large areas; moreover,
conditions of existence involving changes of habit, and thus of
organisation, come for the most part gradually; so that time is given
during which the organism can endeavour to adapt itself in the requisite
respects, instead of being shocked out of existence by too sudden change.
Variations, on the other hand, that are ascribed to mere chance cannot be
supposed as likely to be accumulated, for chance is notoriously
inconstant, and would not purvey the variations in sufficiently unbroken
succession, or in a sufficient number of individuals, modified similarly
in all the necessary correlations at the same time and place to admit of
their being accumulated.  It is vital therefore to the theory of
evolution, as was early pointed out by the late Professor Fleeming Jenkin
and by Mr. Herbert Spencer, that variations should be supposed to have a
definite and persistent principle underlying them, which shall tend to
engender similar and simultaneous modification, however small, in the
vast majority of individuals composing any species.  The existence of
such a principle and its permanence is the only thing that can be
supposed capable of acting as rudder and compass to the accumulation of
variations, and of making it hold steadily on one course for each
species, till eventually many havens, far remote from one another, are
safely reached.

It is obvious that the having fatally impaired the theory of his
predecessors could not warrant Mr. Darwin in claiming, as he most
fatuously did, the theory of evolution.  That he is still generally
believed to have been the originator of this theory is due to the fact
that he claimed it, and that a powerful literary backing at once came
forward to support him.  It seems at first sight improbable that those
who too zealously urged his claims were unaware that so much had been
written on the subject, but when we find even Mr. Wallace himself as
profoundly ignorant on this subject as he still either is, or affects to
be, there is no limit assignable to the ignorance or affected ignorance
of the kind of biologists who would write reviews in leading journals
thirty years ago.  Mr. Wallace writes:--

"A few great naturalists, struck by the very slight difference between
many of these species, and the numerous links that exist between the most
different forms of animals and plants, and also observing that a great
many species do vary considerably in their forms, colours and habits,
conceived the idea that they might be all produced one from the other.
The most eminent of these writers was a great French naturalist, Lamarck,
who published an elaborate work, the _Philosophie Zoologique_, in which
he endeavoured to prove that all animals whatever are descended from
other species of animals.  He attributed the change of species chiefly to
the effect of changes in the conditions of life--such as climate, food,
&c.; and especially to the desires and efforts of the animals themselves
to improve their condition, leading to a modification of form or size in
certain parts, owing to the well-known physiological law that all organs
are strengthened by constant use, while they are weakened or even
completely lost by disuse . . .

"The only other important work dealing with the question was the
celebrated 'Vestiges of Creation,' published anonymously, but now
acknowledged to have been written by the late Robert Chambers."

None are so blind as those who will not see, and it would be waste of
time to argue with the invincible ignorance of one who thinks Lamarck and
Buffon conceived that all species were produced from one another, more
especially as I have already dealt at some length with the early
evolutionists in my work, "Evolution, Old and New," first published ten
years ago, and not, so far as I am aware, detected in serious error or
omission.  If, however, Mr. Wallace still thinks it safe to presume so
far on the ignorance of his readers as to say that the only two important
works on evolution before Mr. Darwin's were Lamarck's _Philosophie
Zoologique_ and the "Vestiges of Creation," how fathomable is the
ignorance of the average reviewer likely to have been thirty years ago,
when the "Origin of Species" was first published?  Mr. Darwin claimed
evolution as his own theory.  Of course, he would not claim it if he had
no right to it.  Then by all means give him the credit of it.  This was
the most natural view to take, and it was generally taken.  It was not,
moreover, surprising that people failed to appreciate all the niceties of
Mr. Darwin's "distinctive feature" which, whether distinctive or no, was
assuredly not distinct, and was never frankly contrasted with the older
view, as it would have been by one who wished it to be understood and
judge upon its merits.  It was in consequence of this omission that
people failed to note how fast and loose Mr. Darwin played with his
distinctive feature, and how readily he dropped it on occasion.

It may be said that the question of what was thought by the predecessors
of Mr. Darwin is, after all, personal, and of no interest to the general
public, comparable to that of the main issue--whether we are to accept
evolution or not.  Granted that Buffon, Erasmus Darwin, and Lamarck bore
the burden and heat of the day before Mr. Charles Darwin was born, they
did not bring people round to their opinion, whereas Mr. Darwin and Mr.
Wallace did, and the public cannot be expected to look beyond this broad
and indisputable fact.

The answer to this is, that the theory which Messrs. Darwin and Wallace
have persuaded the public to accept is demonstrably false, and that the
opponents of evolution are certain in the end to triumph over it.  Paley,
in his "Natural Theology," long since brought forward far too much
evidence of design in animal organisation to allow of our setting down
its marvels to the accumulations of fortunate accident, undirected by
will, effort and intelligence.  Those who examine the main facts of
animal and vegetable organisation without bias will, no doubt, ere long
conclude that all animals and vegetables are derived ultimately from
unicellular organisms, but they will not less readily perceive that the
evolution of species without the concomitance and direction of mind and
effort is as inconceivable as is the independent creation of every
individual species.  The two facts, evolution and design, are equally
patent to plain people.  There is no escaping from either.  According to
Messrs. Darwin and Wallace, we may have evolution, but are on no account
to have it as mainly due to intelligent effort, guided by ever higher and
higher range of sensations, perceptions, and ideas.  We are to set it
down to the shuffling of cards, or the throwing of dice without the play,
and this will never stand.

According to the older men, cards did indeed count for much, but play
counted for more.  They denied the teleology of the time--that is to say,
the teleology that saw all adaptation to surroundings as part of a plan
devised long ages since by a quasi-anthropomorphic being who schemed
everything out much as a man would do, but on an infinitely vaster scale.
This conception they found repugnant alike to intelligence and
conscience, but, though they do not seem to have perceived it, they left
the door open for a design more true and more demonstrable than that
which they excluded.  By making their variations mainly due to effort and
intelligence, they made organic development run on all-fours with human
progress, and with inventions which we have watched growing up from small
beginnings.  They made the development of man from the amoeba part and
parcel of the story that may be read, though on an infinitely smaller
scale, in the development of our most powerful marine engines from the
common kettle, or of our finest microscopes from the dew-drop.

The development of the steam-engine and the microscope is due to
intelligence and design, which did indeed utilise chance suggestions, but
which improved on these, and directed each step of their accumulation,
though never foreseeing more than a step or two ahead, and often not so
much as this.  The fact, as I have elsewhere urged, that the man who made
the first kettle did not foresee the engines of the _Great Eastern_, or
that he who first noted the magnifying power of the dew-drop had no
conception of our present microscopes--the very limited amount, in fact,
of design and intelligence that was called into play at any one
point--this does not make us deny that the steam-engine and microscope
owe their development to design.  If each step of the road was designed,
the whole journey was designed, though the particular end was not
designed when the journey was begun.  And so is it, according to the
older view of evolution, with the development of those living organs, or
machines, that are born with us, as part of the perambulating carpenter's
chest we call our bodies.  The older view gives us our design, and gives
us our evolution too.  If it refuses to see a quasi-anthropomorphic God
modelling each species from without as a potter models clay, it gives us
God as vivifying and indwelling in all His creatures--He in them, and
they in Him.  If it refuses to see God outside the universe, it equally
refuses to see any part of the universe as outside God.  If it makes the
universe the body of God, it also makes God the soul of the universe.  The
question at issue, then, between the Darwinism of Erasmus Darwin and the
neo-Darwinism of his grandson, is not a personal one, nor anything like a
personal one.  It not only involves the existence of evolution, but it
affects the view we take of life and things in an endless variety of most
interesting and important ways.  It is imperative, therefore, on those
who take any interest in these matters, to place side by side in the
clearest contrast the views of those who refer the evolution of species
mainly to accumulation of variations that have no other inception than
chance, and of that older school which makes design perceive and develop
still further the goods that chance provides.

But over and above this, which would be in itself sufficient, the
historical mode of studying any question is the only one which will
enable us to comprehend it effectually.  The personal element cannot be
eliminated from the consideration of works written by living persons for
living persons.  We want to know who is who--whom we can depend upon to
have no other end than the making things clear to himself and his
readers, and whom we should mistrust as having an ulterior aim on which
he is more intent than on the furthering of our better understanding.  We
want to know who is doing his best to help us, and who is only trying to
make us help him, or to bolster up the system in which his interests are
vested.  There is nothing that will throw more light upon these points
than the way in which a man behaves towards those who have worked in the
same field with himself, and, again, than his style.  A man's style, as
Buffon long since said, is the man himself.  By style, I do not, of
course, mean grammar or rhetoric, but that style of which Buffon again
said that it is like happiness, and _vient de la douceur de l'ame_.  When
we find a man concealing worse than nullity of meaning under sentences
that sound plausibly enough, we should distrust him much as we should a
fellow-traveller whom we caught trying to steal our watch.  We often
cannot judge of the truth or falsehood of facts for ourselves, but we
most of us know enough of human nature to be able to tell a good witness
from a bad one.

However this may be, and whatever we may think of judging systems by the
directness or indirectness of those who advance them, biologists, having
committed themselves too rashly, would have been more than human if they
had not shown some pique towards those who dared to say, first, that the
theory of Messrs. Darwin and Wallace was unworkable; and secondly, that
even though it were workable it would not justify either of them in
claiming evolution.  When biologists show pique at all they generally
show a good deal of pique, but pique or no pique, they shunned Mr.
Spencer's objection above referred to with a persistency more unanimous
and obstinate than I ever remember to have seen displayed even by
professional truth-seekers.  I find no rejoinder to it from Mr. Darwin
himself, between 1865 when it was first put forward, and 1882 when Mr.
Darwin died.  It has been similarly "ostrichised" by all the leading
apologists of Darwinism, so far at least as I have been able to observe,
and I have followed the matter closely for many years.  Mr. Spencer has
repeated and amplified it in his recent work, "The Factors of Organic
Evolution," but it still remains without so much as an attempt at serious
answer, for the perfunctory and illusory remarks of Mr. Wallace at the
end of his "Darwinism" cannot be counted as such.  The best proof of its
irresistible weight is that Mr. Darwin, though maintaining silence in
respect to it, retreated from his original position in the direction that
would most obviate Mr. Spencer's objection.

Yet this objection has been repeatedly urged by the more prominent anti-
Charles-Darwinian authorities, and there is no sign that the British
public is becoming less rigorous in requiring people either to reply to
objections repeatedly urged by men of even moderate weight, or to let
judgment go by default.  As regards Mr. Darwin's claim to the theory of
evolution generally, Darwinians are beginning now to perceive that this
cannot be admitted, and either say with some hardihood that Mr. Darwin
never claimed it, or after a few saving clauses to the effect that this
theory refers only to the particular means by which evolution has been
brought about, imply forthwith thereafter none the less that evolution is
Mr. Darwin's theory.  Mr. Wallace has done this repeatedly in his recent
"Darwinism."  Indeed, I should be by no means sure that on the first page
of his preface, in the passage about "Darwin's theory," which I have
already somewhat severely criticised, he was not intending evolution by
"Darwin's theory," if in his preceding paragraph he had not so clearly
shown that he knew evolution to be a theory of greatly older date than
Mr. Darwin's.

The history of science--well exemplified by that of the development
theory--is the history of eminent men who have fought against light and
have been worsted.  The tenacity with which Darwinians stick to their
accumulation of fortuitous variations is on a par with the like tenacity
shown by the illustrious Cuvier, who did his best to crush evolution
altogether.  It always has been thus, and always will be; nor is it
desirable in the interests of Truth herself that it should be otherwise.
Truth is like money--lightly come, lightly go; and if she cannot hold her
own against even gross misrepresentation, she is herself not worth
holding.  Misrepresentation in the long run makes Truth as much as it
mars her; hence our law courts do not think it desirable that pleaders
should speak their _bona fide_ opinions, much less that they should
profess to do so.  Rather let each side hoodwink judge and jury as best
it can, and let truth flash out from collision of defence and accusation.
When either side will not collide, it is an axiom of controversy that it
desires to prevent the truth from being elicited.

Let us now note the courses forced upon biologists by the difficulties of
Mr. Darwin's distinctive feature.  Mr. Darwin and Mr. Wallace, as is well
known, brought the feature forward simultaneously and independently of
one another, but Mr. Wallace always believed in it more firmly than Mr.
Darwin did.  Mr. Darwin as a young man did not believe in it.  He wrote
before 1889, "Nature, by making habit omnipotent and its effects
hereditary, has fitted the Fuegian for the climate and productions of his
country," {21} a sentence than which nothing can coincide more fully with
the older view that use and disuse were the main purveyors of variations,
or conflict more fatally with his own subsequent distinctive feature.
Moreover, as I showed in my last work on evolution, {22} in the
peroration to his "Origin of Species," he discarded his accidental
variations altogether, and fell back on the older theory, so that the
body of the "Origin of Species" supports one theory, and the peroration
another that differs from it _toto coelo_.  Finally, in his later
editions, he retreated indefinitely from his original position, edging
always more and more continually towards the theory of his grandfather
and Lamarck.  These facts convince me that he was at no time a thorough-
going Darwinian, but was throughout an unconscious Lamarckian, though
ever anxious to conceal the fact alike from himself and from his readers.

Not so with Mr. Wallace, who was both more outspoken in the first
instance, and who has persevered along the path of Wallaceism just as Mr.
Darwin with greater sagacity was ever on the retreat from Darwinism.  Mr.
Wallace's profounder faith led him in the outset to place his theory in
fuller daylight than Mr. Darwin was inclined to do.  Mr. Darwin just
waved Lamarck aside, and said as little about him as he could, while in
his earlier editions Erasmus Darwin and Buffon were not so much as named.
Mr. Wallace, on the contrary, at once raised the Lamarckian spectre, and
declared it exorcised.  He said the Lamarckian hypothesis was "quite
unnecessary."  The giraffe did not "acquire its long neck by desiring to
reach the foliage of the more lofty shrubs, and constantly stretching its
neck for this purpose, but because any varieties which occurred among its
antitypes with a longer neck than usual at once secured a fresh range of
pasture over the same ground as their shorter-necked companions, and on
the first scarcity of food were thus enabled to outlive them." {23}

"Which occurred" is evidently "which happened to occur" by some chance or
accident unconnected with use and disuse.  The word "accident" is never
used, but Mr. Wallace must be credited with this instance of a desire to
give his readers a chance of perceiving that according to his distinctive
feature evolution is an affair of luck, rather than of cunning.  Whether
his readers actually did understand this as clearly as Mr. Wallace
doubtless desired that they should, and whether greater development at
this point would not have helped them to fuller apprehension, we need not
now inquire.  What was gained in distinctness might have been lost in
distinctiveness, and after all he did technically put us upon our guard.

Nevertheless he too at a pinch takes refuge in Lamarckism.  In relation
to the manner in which the eyes of soles, turbots, and other flat-fish
travel round the head so as to become in the end unsymmetrically placed,
he says:--

"The eyes of these fish are curiously distorted in order that both eyes
may be upon the upper side, where alone they would be of any use. . . .
Now if we suppose this process, which in the young is completed in a few
days or weeks, to have been spread over thousands of generations during
the development of these fish, those usually surviving _whose eyes
retained more and more of the position into which the young fish tried to
twist them_ [italics mine], the change becomes intelligible." {24}  When
it was said by Professor Ray Lankester--who knows as well as most people
what Lamarck taught--that this was "flat Lamarckism," Mr. Wallace
rejoined that it was the survival of the modified individuals that did it
all, not the efforts of the young fish to twist their eyes, and the
transmission to descendants of the effects of those efforts.  But this,
as I said in my book, "Evolution, Old and New," {25} is like saying that
horses are swift runners, not by reason of the causes, whatever they
were, that occasioned the direct line of their progenitors to vary
towards ever greater and greater swiftness, but because their more slow-
going uncles and aunts go away.  Plain people will prefer to say that the
main cause of any accumulation of favourable modifications consists
rather in that which brings about the initial variations, and in the fact
that these can be inherited at all, than in the fact that the unmodified
individuals were not successful.  People do not become rich because the
poor in large numbers go away, but because they have been lucky, or
provident, or more commonly both.  If they would keep their wealth when
they have made it they must exclude luck thenceforth to the utmost of
their power, and their children must follow their example, or they will
soon lose their money.  The fact that the weaker go to the wall does not
bring about the greater strength of the stronger; it is the consequence
of this last and not the cause--unless, indeed, it be contended that a
knowledge that the weak go to the wall stimulates the strong to exertions
which they would not otherwise so make, and that these exertions produce
inheritable modifications.  Even in this case, however, it would be the
exertions, or use and disuse, that would be the main agents in the
modification.  But it is not often that Mr. Wallace thus backslides.  His
present position is that acquired (as distinguished from congenital)
modifications are not inherited at all.  He does not indeed put his faith
prominently forward and pin himself to it as plainly as could be wished,
but under the heading, "The Non-Heredity of Acquired Characters," he
writes as follows on p. 440 of his recent work in reference to Professor
Weismann's Theory of Heredity:--

"Certain observations on the embryology of the lower animals are held to
afford direct proof of this theory of heredity, but they are too
technical to be made clear to ordinary readers.  A logical result of the
theory is the impossibility of the transmission of acquired characters,
since the molecular structure of the germ-plasm is already determined
within the embryo; and Weismann holds that there are no facts which
really prove that acquired characters can be inherited, although their
inheritance has, by most writers, been considered so probable as hardly
to stand in need of direct proof.

"We have already seen in the earlier part of this chapter that many
instances of change, imputed to the inheritance of acquired variations,
are really cases of selection."

And the rest of the remarks tend to convey the impression that Mr.
Wallace adopts Professor Weismann's view, but, curiously enough, though I
have gone through Mr. Wallace's book with a special view to this
particular point, I have not been able to find him definitely committing
himself either to the assertion that acquired modifications never are
inherited, or that they sometimes are so.  It is abundantly laid down
that Mr. Darwin laid too much stress on use and disuse, and a residuary
impression is left that Mr. Wallace is endorsing Professor Weismann's
view, but I have found it impossible to collect anything that enables me
to define his position confidently in this respect.

This is natural enough, for Mr. Wallace has entitled his book
"Darwinism," and a work denying that use and disuse produced any effect
could not conceivably be called Darwinism.  Mr. Herbert Spencer has
recently collected many passages from "The Origin of Species" and from
"Animals and Plants under Domestication," {26} which show how largely,
after all, use and disuse entered into Mr. Darwin's system, and we know
that in his later years he attached still more importance to them.  It
was out of the question, therefore, that Mr. Wallace should categorically
deny that their effects were inheritable.  On the other hand, the
temptation to adopt Professor Weismann's view must have been overwhelming
to one who had been already inclined to minimise the effects of use and
disuse.  On the whole, one does not see what Mr. Wallace could do, other
than what he has done--unless, of course, he changed his title, or had
been no longer Mr. Wallace.

Besides, thanks to the works of Mr. Spencer, Professor Mivart, Professor
Semper, and very many others, there has for some time been a growing
perception that the Darwinism of Charles Darwin was doomed.  Use and
disuse must either do even more than is officially recognised in Mr.
Darwin's later concessions, or they must do a great deal less.  If they
can do as much as Mr. Darwin himself said they did, why should they not
do more?  Why stop where Mr. Darwin did?  And again, where in the name of
all that is reasonable did he really stop?  He drew no line, and on what
principle can we say that so much is possible as effect of use and
disuse, but so much more impossible?  If, as Mr. Darwin contended, disuse
can so far reduce an organ as to render it rudimentary, and in many cases
get rid of it altogether, why cannot use create as much as disuse can
destroy, provided it has anything, no matter how low in structure, to
begin with?  Let us know where we stand.  If it is admitted that use and
disuse can do a good deal, what does a good deal mean?  And what is the
proportion between the shares attributable to use and disuse and to
natural selection respectively?  If we cannot be told with absolute
precision, let us at any rate have something more definite than the
statement that natural selection is "the most important means of

Mr. Darwin gave us no help in this respect; and worse than this, he
contradicted himself so flatly as to show that he had very little
definite idea upon the subject at all.  Thus in respect to the
winglessness of the Madeira beetles he wrote:--

"In some cases we might easily put down to disuse modifications of
structure, which are wholly or mainly due to natural selection.  Mr.
Wollaston has discovered the remarkable fact that 200 beetles, out of the
550 species (but more are now known) inhabiting Madeira, are so far
deficient in wings that they cannot fly; and that of the 29 endemic
genera no less than 23 have all their species in this condition!  Several
facts,--namely, that beetles in many parts of the world are frequently
blown out to sea and perish; that the beetles in Madeira, as observed by
Mr. Wollaston, lie much concealed until the wind lulls and the sun
shines; that the proportion of wingless beetles is larger on the exposed
Desertas than in Madeira itself; and especially the extraordinary fact,
so strongly insisted on by Mr. Wollaston, that certain large groups of
beetles, elsewhere excessively numerous, which absolutely require the use
of their wings are here almost entirely absent;--these several
considerations make me believe that the wingless condition of so many
Madeira beetles is mainly due to the action of natural selection,
_combined probably with disuse_ [italics mine].  For during many
successive generations each individual beetle which flew least, either
from its wings having been ever so little less perfectly developed or
from indolent habit, will have had the best chance of surviving, from not
being blown out to sea; and, on the other hand, those beetles which most
readily took to flight would oftenest have been blown to sea, and thus
destroyed." {27}

We should like to know, first, somewhere about how much disuse was able
to do after all, and moreover why, if it can do anything at all, it
should not be able to do all.  Mr. Darwin says: "Any change in structure
and function which can be effected by small stages is within the power of
natural selection."  "And why not," we ask, "within the power of use and
disuse?"  Moreover, on a later page we find Mr. Darwin saying:--

"_It appears probable that disuse has been the main agent in rendering
organs rudimentary_ [italics mine].  It would at first lead by slow steps
to the more and more complete reduction of a part, until at last it has
become rudimentary--as in the case of the eyes of animals inhabiting dark
caverns, and of the wings of birds inhabiting oceanic islands, which have
seldom been forced by beasts of prey to take flight, and have ultimately
lost the power of flying.  Again, an organ, useful under certain
conditions, might become injurious under others, _as with the wings of
beetles living on small and exposed islands_; and in this case natural
selection will have aided in reducing the organ, until it was rendered
harmless and rudimentary [italics mine]." {28}

So that just as an undefined amount of use and disuse was introduced on
the earlier page to supplement the effects of natural selection in
respect of the wings of beetles on small and exposed islands, we have
here an undefined amount of natural selection introduced to supplement
the effects of use and disuse in respect of the identical phenomena.  In
the one passage we find that natural selection has been the main agent in
reducing the wings, though use and disuse have had an appreciable share
in the result; in the other, it is use and disuse that have been the main
agents, though an appreciable share in the result must be ascribed to
natural selection.

Besides, who has seen the uncles and aunts going away with the uniformity
that is necessary for Mr. Darwin's contention?  We know that birds and
insects do often get blown out to sea and perish, but in order to
establish Mr. Darwin's position we want the evidence of those who watched
the reduction of the wings during the many generations in the course of
which it was being effected, and who can testify that all, or the
overwhelming majority, of the beetles born with fairly well-developed
wings got blown out to sea, while those alone survived whose wings were
congenitally degenerate.  Who saw them go, or can point to analogous
cases so conclusive as to compel assent from any equitable thinker?

Darwinians of the stamp of Mr. Thiselton Dyer, Professor Ray Lankester,
or Mr. Romanes, insist on their pound of flesh in the matter of
irrefragable demonstration.  They complain of us for not bringing forward
some one who has been able to detect the movement of the hour-hand of a
watch during a second of time, and when we fail to do so, declare
triumphantly that we have no evidence that there is any connection
between the beating of a second and the movement of the hour-hand.  When
we say that rain comes from the condensation of moisture in the
atmosphere, they demand of us a rain-drop from moisture not yet
condensed.  If they stickle for proof and cavil on the ninth part of a
hair, as they do when we bring forward what we deem excellent instances
of the transmission of an acquired characteristic, why may not we, too,
demand at any rate some evidence that the unmodified beetles actually did
always, or nearly always, get blown out to sea, during the reduction
above referred to, and that it is to this fact, and not to the masterly
inactivity of their fathers and mothers, that the Madeira beetles owe
their winglessness?  If we began stickling for proof in this way, our
opponents would not be long in letting us know that absolute proof is
unattainable on any subject, that reasonable presumption is our highest
certainty, and that crying out for too much evidence is as bad as
accepting too little.  Truth is like a photographic sensitised plate,
which is equally ruined by over and by under exposure, and the just
exposure for which can never be absolutely determined.

Surely if disuse can be credited with the vast powers involved in Mr.
Darwin's statement that it has probably "been the main agent in rendering
organs rudimentary," no limits are assignable to the accumulated effects
of habit, provided the effects of habit, or use and disuse, are supposed,
as Mr. Darwin supposed them, to be inheritable at all.  Darwinians have
at length woke up to the dilemma in which they are placed by the manner
in which Mr. Darwin tried to sit on the two stools of use and disuse, and
natural selection of accidental variations, at the same time.  The knell
of Charles-Darwinism is rung in Mr. Wallace's present book, and in the
general perception on the part of biologists that we must either assign
to use and disuse such a predominant share in modification as to make it
the feature most proper to be insisted on, or deny that the
modifications, whether of mind or body, acquired during a single
lifetime, are ever transmitted at all.  If they can be inherited at all,
they can be accumulated.  If they can be accumulated at all, they can be
so, for anything that appears to the contrary, to the extent of the
specific and generic differences with which we are surrounded.  The only
thing to do is to pluck them out root and branch: they are as a cancer
which, if the smallest fibre be left unexcised, will grow again, and kill
any system on to which it is allowed to fasten.  Mr. Wallace, therefore,
may well be excused if he casts longing eyes towards Weismannism.

And what was Mr. Darwin's system?  Who can make head or tail of the
inextricable muddle in which he left it?  The "Origin of Species" in its
latest shape is the reduction of hedging to an absurdity.  How did Mr.
Darwin himself leave it in the last chapter of the last edition of the
"Origin of Species"?  He wrote:--

"I have now recapitulated the facts and considerations which have
thoroughly convinced me that species have been modified during a long
course of descent.  This has been effected chiefly through the natural
selection of numerous, successive, slight, favourable variations; aided
in an important manner by the inherited effects of the use and disuse of
parts, and in an unimportant manner--that is, in relation to adaptive
structures whether past or present--by the direct action of external
conditions, and by variations which seem to us in our ignorance to arise
spontaneously.  It appears that I formerly underrated the frequency and
value of these latter forms of variation, as leading to permanent
modifications of structure independently of natural selection."

The "numerous, successive, slight, favourable variations" above referred
to are intended to be fortuitous, accidental, spontaneous.  It is the
essence of Mr. Darwin's theory that this should be so.  Mr. Darwin's
solemn statement, therefore, of his theory, after he had done his best or
his worst with it, is, when stripped of surplusage, as follows:--

"The modification of species has been mainly effected by accumulation of
spontaneous variations; it has been aided in an important manner by
accumulation of variations due to use and disuse, and in an unimportant
manner by spontaneous variations; I do not even now think that
spontaneous variations have been very important, but I used once to think
them less important than I do now."

It is a discouraging symptom of the age that such a system should have
been so long belauded, and it is a sign of returning intelligence that
even he who has been more especially the _alter ego_ of Mr. Darwin should
have felt constrained to close the chapter of Charles-Darwinism as a
living theory, and relegate it to the important but not very creditable
place in history which it must henceforth occupy.  It is astonishing,
however, that Mr. Wallace should have quoted the extract from the "Origin
of Species" just given, as he has done on p. 412 of his "Darwinism,"
without betraying any sign that he has caught its driftlessness--for
drift, other than a desire to hedge, it assuredly has not got.  The
battle now turns on the question whether modifications of either
structure or instinct due to use or disuse are ever inherited, or whether
they are not.  Can the effects of habit be transmitted to progeny at all?
We know that more usually they are not transmitted to any perceptible
extent, but we believe also that occasionally, and indeed not
infrequently, they are inherited and even intensified.  What are our
grounds for this opinion?  It will be my object to put these forward in
the following number of the _Universal Review_.


At the close of my article in last month's number of the _Universal
Review_, I said I would in this month's issue show why the opponents of
Charles-Darwinism believe the effects of habits acquired during the
lifetime of a parent to produce an effect on their subsequent offspring,
in spite of the fact that we can rarely find the effect in any one
generation, or even in several, sufficiently marked to arrest our

I will now show that offspring can be, and not very infrequently is,
affected by occurrences that have produced a deep impression on the
parent organism--the effect produced on the offspring being such as
leaves no doubt that it is to be connected with the impression produced
on the parent.  Having thus established the general proposition, I will
proceed to the more particular one--that habits, involving use and disuse
of special organs, with the modifications of structure thereby
engendered, produce also an effect upon offspring, which, though seldom
perceptible as regards structure in a single, or even in several
generations, is nevertheless capable of being accumulated in successive
generations till it amounts to specific and generic difference.  I have
found the first point as much as I can treat within the limits of this
present article, and will avail myself of the hospitality of the
_Universal Review_ next month to deal with the second.

The proposition which I have to defend is one which no one till recently
would have questioned, and even now, those who look most askance at it do
not venture to dispute it unreservedly; they every now and then admit it
as conceivable, and even in some cases probable; nevertheless they seek
to minimise it, and to make out that there is little or no connection
between the great mass of the cells of which the body is composed, and
those cells that are alone capable of reproducing the entire organism.
The tendency is to assign to these last a life of their own, apart from,
and unconnected with that of the other cells of the body, and to cheapen
all evidence that tends to prove any response on their part to the past
history of the individual, and hence ultimately of the race.

Professor Weismann is the foremost exponent of those who take this line.
He has naturally been welcomed by English Charles-Darwinians; for if his
view can be sustained, then it can be contended that use and disuse
produce no transmissible effect, and the ground is cut from under
Lamarck's feet; if, on the other hand, his view is unfounded, the
Lamarckian reaction, already strong, will gain still further strength.
The issue, therefore, is important, and is being fiercely contested by
those who have invested their all of reputation for discernment in
Charles-Darwinian securities.

Professor Weismann's theory is, that at every new birth a part of the
substance which proceeds from parents and which goes to form the new
embryo is not used up in forming the new animal, but remains apart to
generate the germ-cells--or perhaps I should say "germ-plasm"--which the
new animal itself will in due course issue.

Contrasting the generally received view with his own, Professor Weismann
says that according to the first of these "the organism produces germ-
cells afresh again and again, and that it produces them entirely from its
own substance."  While by the second "the germ-cells are no longer looked
upon as the product of the parent's body, at least as far as their
essential part--the specific germ-plasm--is concerned; they are rather
considered as something which is to be placed in contrast with the _tout
ensemble_ of the cells which make up the parent's body, and the
germ-cells of succeeding generations stand in a similar relation to one
another as a series of generations of unicellular organisms arising by a
continued process of cell-division." {30}

On another page he writes:--

"I believe that heredity depends upon the fact that a small portion of
the effective substance of the germ, the germ-plasm, remains unchanged
during the development of the ovum into an organism, and that this part
of the germ-plasm serves as a foundation from which the germ-cells of the
new organism are produced.  There is, therefore, continuity of the germ-
plasm from one generation to another.  One might represent the germ-plasm
by the metaphor of a long creeping root-stock from which plants arise at
intervals, these latter representing the individuals of successive
generations." {31}

Mr. Wallace, who does not appear to have read Professor Weismann's essays
themselves, but whose remarks are, no doubt, ultimately derived from the
sequel to the passage just quoted from page 266 of Professor Weismann's
book, contends that the impossibility of the transmission of acquired
characters follows as a logical result from Professor Weismann's theory,
inasmuch as the molecular structure of the germ-plasm that will go to
form any succeeding generation is already predetermined within the still
unformed embryo of its predecessor; "and Weismann," continues Mr.
Wallace, "holds that there are no facts which really prove that acquired
characters can be inherited, although their inheritance has, by most
writers, been considered so probable as hardly to stand in need of direct
proof." {32}

Professor Weismann, in passages too numerous to quote, shows that he
recognises this necessity, and acknowledges that the non-transmission of
acquired characters "forms the foundation of the views" set forth in his
book, p. 291.

Professor Ray Lankester does not commit himself absolutely to this view,
but lends it support by saying (_Nature_, December 12, 1889): "It is
hardly necessary to say that it has never yet been shown experimentally
that _anything_ acquired by one generation is transmitted to the next
(putting aside diseases)."

Mr. Romanes, writing in _Nature_, March 18, 1890, and opposing certain
details of Professor Weismann's theory, so far supports it as to say that
"there is the gravest possible doubt lying against the supposition that
any really inherited decrease is due to the inherited effects of disuse."
The "gravest possible doubt" should mean that Mr. Romanes regards it as a
moral certainty that disuse has no transmitted effect in reducing an
organ, and it should follow that he holds use to have no transmitted
effect in its development.  The sequel, however, makes me uncertain how
far Mr. Romanes intends this, and I would refer the reader to the article
which Mr. Romanes has just published on Weismann in the _Contemporary
Review_ for this current month.

The burden of Mr. Thiselton Dyer's controversy with the Duke of Argyll
(see _Nature_, January 16, 1890, _et seq._) was that there was no
evidence in support of the transmission of any acquired modification.  The
orthodoxy of science, therefore, must be held as giving at any rate a
provisional support to Professor Weismann, but all of them, including
even Professor Weismann himself, shrink from committing themselves to the
opinion that the germ-cells of any organisms remain in all cases
unaffected by the events that occur to the other cells of the same
organism, and until they do this they have knocked the bottom out of
their case.

From among the passages in which Professor Weismann himself shows a
desire to hedge I may take the following from page 170 of his book:--

"I am also far from asserting that the germ-plasm which, as I hold, is
transmitted as the basis of heredity from one generation to another, is
absolutely unchangeable or totally uninfluenced by forces residing in the
organism within which it is transformed into germ-cells.  I am also
compelled to admit it as conceivable that organisms may exert a modifying
influence upon their germ-cells, and even that such a process is to a
certain extent inevitable.  The nutrition and growth of the individual
must exercise some influence upon its germ-cells . . . "

Professor Weismann does indeed go on to say that this influence must be
extremely slight, but we do not care how slight the changes produced may
be provided they exist and can be transmitted.  On an earlier page (p.
101) he said in regard to variations generally that we should not expect
to find them conspicuous; their frequency would be enough, if they could
be accumulated.  The same applies here, if stirring events that occur to
the somatic cells can produce any effect at all on offspring.  A very
small effect, provided it can be repeated and accumulated in successive
generations, is all that even the most exacting Lamarckian will ask for.

Having now made the reader acquainted with the position taken by the
leading Charles-Darwinian authorities, I will return to Professor
Weismann himself, who declares that the transmission of acquired
characters "at first sight certainly seems necessary," and that "it
appears rash to attempt to dispense with its aid."  He continues:--

"Many phenomena only appear to be intelligible if we assume the
hereditary transmission of such acquired characters as the changes which
we ascribe to the use or disuse of particular organs, or to the direct
influence of climate.  Furthermore, how can we explain instinct as
hereditary habit, unless it has gradually arisen by the accumulation,
through heredity, of habits which were practised in succeeding
generations?" {33}

I may say in passing that Professor Weismann appears to suppose that the
view of instinct just given is part of the Charles-Darwinian system, for
on page 889 of his book he says "that many observers had followed Darwin
in explaining them [instincts] as inherited habits."  This was not Mr.
Darwin's own view of the matter.  He wrote:--

"If we suppose any habitual action to become inherited--and I think it
can be shown that this does sometimes happen--then the resemblance
between what originally was a habit and an instinct becomes so close as
not to be distinguished. . . But it would be the most serious error to
suppose that the greater number of instincts have been acquired by habit
in one generation, and then transmitted by inheritance to succeeding
generations.  It can be clearly shown that the most wonderful instincts
with which we are acquainted, namely, those of the hive-bee and of many
ants, could not possibly have been thus acquired."--["Origin of Species,"
ed., 1859, p. 209.]

Again we read: "Domestic instincts are sometimes spoken of as actions
which have become inherited solely from long-continued and compulsory
habit, but this, I think, is not true."--_Ibid._, p. 214.

Again: "I am surprised that no one has advanced this demonstrative case
of neuter insects, against the well-known doctrine of inherited habit, as
advanced by Lamarck."--["Origin of Species," ed. 1872, p. 283.]

I am not aware that Lamarck advanced the doctrine that instinct is
inherited habit, but he may have done so in some work that I have not

It is true, as I have more than once pointed out, that in the later
editions of the "Origin of Species" it is no longer "the _most_ serious"
error to refer instincts generally to inherited habit, but it still
remains "a serious error," and this slight relaxation of severity does
not warrant Professor Weismann in ascribing to Mr. Darwin an opinion
which he emphatically condemned.  His tone, however, is so offhand, that
those who have little acquaintance with the literature of evolution would
hardly guess that he is not much better informed on this subject than

Returning to the inheritance of acquired characters, Professor Weismann
says that this has never been proved either by means of direct
observation or by experiment.  "It must be admitted," he writes, "that
there are in existence numerous descriptions of cases which tend to prove
that such mutilations as the loss of fingers, the scars of wounds, &c.,
are inherited by the offspring, but in these descriptions the previous
history is invariably obscure, and hence the evidence loses all
scientific value."

The experiments of M.  Brown-Sequard throw so much light upon the
question at issue that I will quote at some length from the summary given
by Mr. Darwin in his "Variation of Animals and Plants under
Domestication." {34}  Mr. Darwin writes:--

"With respect to the inheritance of structures mutilated by injuries or
altered by disease, it was until lately difficult to come to any definite
conclusion."  [Then follow several cases in which mutilations practised
for many generations are not found to be transmitted.]  "Notwithstanding,"
continues Mr. Darwin, "the above several negative cases, we now possess
conclusive evidence that the effects of operations are sometimes
inherited.  Dr. Brown-Sequard gives the following summary of his
observations on guinea-pigs, and this summary is so important that I will
quote the whole:--

"'1st.  Appearance of epilepsy in animals born of parents having been
rendered epileptic by an injury to the spinal cord.

"'2nd.  Appearance of epilepsy also in animals born of parents having
been rendered epileptic by the section of the sciatic nerve.

"'3rd.  A change in the shape of the ear in animals born of parents in
which such a change was the effect of a division of the cervical
sympathetic nerve.

"'4th.  Partial closure of the eyelids in animals born of parents in
which that state of the eyelids had been caused either by the section of
the cervical sympathetic nerve or the removal of the superior cervical

"'5th.  Exophthalmia in animals born of parents in which an injury to the
restiform body had produced that protrusion of the eyeball.  This
interesting fact I have witnessed a good many times, and I have seen the
transmission of the morbid state of the eye continue through four
generations.  In these animals modified by heredity, the two eyes
generally protruded, although in the parents usually only one showed
exophthalmia, the lesion having been made in most cases only on one of
the corpora restiformia.

"'6th.  Haematoma and dry gangrene of the ears in animals born of parents
in which these ear-alterations had been caused by an injury to the
restiform body near the nib of the calamus.

"'7th.  Absence of two toes out of the three of the hind leg, and
sometimes of the three, in animals whose parents had eaten up their hind-
leg toes which had become anaesthetic from a section of the sciatic nerve
alone, or of that nerve and also of the crural.  Sometimes, instead of
complete absence of the toes, only a part of one or two or three was
missing in the young, although in the parent not only the toes but the
whole foot was absent (partly eaten off, partly destroyed by
inflammation, ulceration, or gangrene).

"'8th.  Appearance of various morbid states of the skin and hair of the
neck and face in animals born of parents having had similar alterations
in the same parts, as effects of an injury to the sciatic nerve.'

"It should be especially observed that Brown-Sequard has bred during
thirty years many thousand guinea-pigs from animals which had not been
operated upon, and not one of these manifested the epileptic tendency.
Nor has he ever seen a guinea-pig born without toes, which was not the
offspring of parents which had gnawed off their own toes owing to the
sciatic nerve having been divided.  Of this latter fact thirteen
instances were carefully recorded, and a greater number were seen; yet
Brown-Sequard speaks of such cases as one of the rarer forms of
inheritance.  It is a still more interesting fact, 'that the sciatic
nerve in the congenitally toeless animal has inherited the power of
passing through all the different morbid states which have occurred in
one of its parents from the time of the division till after its reunion
with the peripheric end.  It is not, therefore, simply the power of
performing an action which is inherited, but the power of performing a
whole series of actions, in a certain order.'

"In most of the cases of inheritance recorded by Brown-Sequard only one
of the two parents had been operated upon and was affected.  He concludes
by expressing his belief that 'what is transmitted is the morbid state of
the nervous system,' due to the operation performed on the parents."

Mr. Darwin proceeds to give other instances of inherited effects of

"With the horse there seems hardly a doubt that exostoses on the legs,
caused by too much travelling on hard roads, are inherited.  Blumenbach
records the case of a man who had his little finger on the right hand
almost cut off, and which in consequence grew crooked, and his sons had
the same finger on the same hand similarly crooked.  A soldier, fifteen
years before his marriage, lost his left eye from purulent ophthalmia,
and his two sons were microphthalmic on the same side."

The late Professor Rolleston, whose competence as an observer no one is
likely to dispute, gave Mr. Darwin two cases as having fallen under his
own notice, one of a man whose knee had been severely wounded, and whose
child was born with the same spot marked or scarred, and the other of one
who was severely cut upon the cheek, and whose child was born scarred in
the same place.  Mr. Darwin's conclusion was that "the effects of
injuries, especially when followed by disease, or perhaps exclusively
when thus followed, are occasionally inherited."

Let us now see what Professor Weismann has to say against this.  He

"The only cases worthy of discussion are the well-known experiments upon
guinea-pigs conducted by the French physiologist, Brown-Sequard.  But the
explanation of his results is, in my opinion, open to discussion.  In
these cases we have to do with the apparent transmission of artificially
produced malformations . . . All these effects were said to be
transmitted to descendants as far as the fifth or sixth generation.

"But we must inquire whether these cases are really due to heredity, and
not to simple infection.  In the case of epilepsy, at any rate, it is
easy to imagine that the passage of some specific organism through the
reproductive cells may take place, as in the case of syphilis.  We are,
however, entirely ignorant of the nature of the former disease.  This
suggested explanation may not perhaps apply to the other cases; but we
must remember that animals which have been subjected to such severe
operations upon the nervous system have sustained a great shock, and if
they are capable of breeding, it is only probable that they will produce
weak descendants, and such as are easily affected by disease.  Such a
result does not, however, explain why the offspring should suffer from
the same disease as that which was artificially induced in the parents.
But this does not appear to have been by any means invariably the case.
Brown-Sequard himself says: 'The changes in the eye of the offspring were
of a very variable nature, and were only occasionally exactly similar to
those observed in the parents.'

"There is no doubt, however, that these experiments demand careful
consideration, but before they can claim scientific recognition, they
must be subjected to rigid criticism as to the precautions taken, the
nature and number of the control experiments, &c.

"Up to the present time such necessary conditions have not been
sufficiently observed.  The recent experiments themselves are only
described in short preliminary notices, which, as regards their accuracy,
the possibility of mistake, the precautions taken, and the exact
succession of individuals affected, afford no data on which a scientific
opinion can be founded" (pp. 81, 82).

The line Professor Weismann takes, therefore, is to discredit the facts;
yet on a later page we find that the experiments have since been repeated
by Obersteiner, "who has described them in a very exact and unprejudiced
manner," and that "the fact"--(I imagine that Professor Weismann intends
"the facts")--"cannot be doubted."

On a still later page, however, we read:--

"If, for instance, it could be shown that artificial mutilation
spontaneously reappears in the offspring with sufficient frequency to
exclude all possibilities of chance, then such proof [_i.e._, that
acquired characters can be transmitted] would be forthcoming.  The
transmission of mutilations has been frequently asserted, and has been
even recently again brought forward, but all the supposed instances have
broken down when carefully examined" (p. 390).

Here, then, we are told that proof of the occasional transmission of
mutilations would be sufficient to establish the fact, but on p. 267 we
find that no single fact is known which really proves that acquired
characters can be transmitted, "_for the ascertained facts which seem to
point to the transmission of artificially produced diseases cannot be
considered as proof_" [Italics mine.]  Perhaps; but it was mutilation in
many cases that Professor Weismann practically admitted to have been
transmitted when he declared that Obersteiner had verified
Brown-Sequard's experiments.

That Professor Weismann recognises the vital importance to his own theory
of the question whether or no mutilations can be transmitted under any
circumstances, is evident from a passage on p. 425 of his work, on which
he says: "It can hardly be doubted that mutilations are acquired
characters; they do not arise from any tendency contained in the germ,
but are merely the reaction of the body under certain external
influences.  They are, as I have recently expressed it, purely
somatogenic characters--viz., characters which emanate from the body
(_soma_) only, as opposed to the germ-cells; they are, therefore,
characters that do not arise from the germ itself.

"If mutilations must necessarily be transmitted" [which no one that I
know of has maintained], "or even if they might occasionally be
transmitted" [which cannot, I imagine, be reasonably questioned], "a
powerful support would be given to the Lamarckian principle, and the
transmission of functional hypertrophy or atrophy would thus become
highly probable."

I have not found any further attempt in Professor Weismann's book to deal
with the evidence adduced by Mr. Darwin to show that mutilations, if
followed by diseases, are sometimes inherited; and I must leave it to the
reader to determine how far Professor Weismann has shown reason for
rejecting Mr. Darwin's conclusion.  I do not, however, dwell upon these
facts now as evidence of a transmitted change of bodily form, or of
instinct due to use and disuse or habit; what they prove is that the germ-
cells within the parent's body do not stand apart from the other cells of
the body so completely as Professor Weismann would have us believe, but
that, as Professor Hering, of Prague, has aptly said, they echo with more
or less frequency and force to the profounder impressions made upon other

I may say that Professor Weismann does not more cavalierly wave aside the
mass of evidence collected by Mr. Darwin and a host of other writers, to
the effect that mutilations are sometimes inherited, than does Mr.
Wallace, who says that, "as regards mutilations, it is generally admitted
that they are not inherited, and there is ample evidence on this point."
It is indeed generally admitted that mutilations, when not followed by
disease, are very rarely, if ever, inherited; and Mr. Wallace's appeal to
the "ample evidence" which he alleges to exist on this head, is much as
though he should say that there is ample evidence to show that the days
are longer in summer than in winter.  "Nevertheless," he continues, "a
few cases of apparent inheritance of mutilations have been recorded, and
these, if trustworthy, are difficulties in the way of the theory." . . .
"The often-quoted case of a disease induced by mutilation being inherited
(Brown-Sequard's epileptic guinea-pigs) has been discussed by Professor
Weismann and shown to be not conclusive.  The mutilation itself--a
section of certain nerves--was never inherited, but the resulting
epilepsy, or a general state of weakness, deformity, or sores, was
sometimes inherited.  It is, however, possible that the mere injury
introduced and encouraged the growth of certain microbes, which,
spreading through the organism, sometimes reached the germ-cells, and
thus transmitted a diseased condition to the offspring." {35}

I suppose a microbe which made guinea-pigs eat their toes off was
communicated to the germ-cells of an unfortunate guinea-pig which had
been already microbed by it, and made the offspring bite its toes off
too.  The microbe has a good deal to answer for.

On the case of the deterioration of horses in the Falkland Islands after
a few generations, Professor Weismann says:--

"In such a case we have only to assume that the climate which is
unfavourable, and the nutriment which is insufficient for horses, affect
not only the animal as a whole but also its germ-cells.  This would
result in the diminution in size of the germ-cells, the effects upon the
offspring being still further intensified by the insufficient nourishment
supplied during growth.  But such results would not depend upon the
transmission by the germ-cells of certain peculiarities due to the
unfavourable climate, which only appear in the full-grown horse."

But Professor Weismann does not like such cases, and admits that he
cannot explain the facts in connection with the climatic varieties of
certain butterflies, except "by supposing the passive acquisition of
characters produced by the direct influence of climate."

Nevertheless in his next paragraph but one he calls such cases
"doubtful," and proposes that for the moment they should be left aside.
He accordingly leaves them, but I have not yet found what other moment he
considered auspicious for returning to them.  He tells us that "new
experiments will be necessary, and that he has himself already begun to
undertake them."  Perhaps he will give us the results of these
experiments in some future book--for that they will prove satisfactory to
him can hardly, I think, be doubted.  He writes:--

"Leaving on one side, for the moment, these doubtful and insufficiently
investigated cases, we may still maintain that the assumption that
changes induced by external conditions in the organism as a whole are
communicated to the germ-cells after the manner indicated in Darwin's
hypothesis of pangenesis, is wholly unnecessary for the explanation of
these phenomena.  Still we cannot exclude the possibility of such a
transmission occasionally occurring, for even if the greater part of the
effects must be attributable to natural selection, there might be a
smaller part in certain cases which depends on this exceptional factor."

I repeatedly tried to understand Mr. Darwin's theory of pangenesis, and
so often failed that I long since gave the matter up in despair.  I did
so with the less unwillingness because I saw that no one else appeared to
understand the theory, and that even Mr. Darwin's warmest adherents
regarded it with disfavour.  If Mr. Darwin means that every cell of the
body throws off minute particles that find their way to the germ-cells,
and hence into the new embryo, this is indeed difficult of comprehension
and belief.  If he means that the rhythms or vibrations that go on
ceaselessly in every cell of the body communicate themselves with greater
or less accuracy or perturbation, as the case may be, to the cells that
go to form offspring, and that since the characteristics of matter are
determined by vibrations, in communicating vibrations they in effect
communicate matter, according to the view put forward in the last chapter
of my book "Luck or Cunning," {36} then we can better understand it.  I
have nothing, however, to do with Mr. Darwin's theory of pangenesis
beyond avoiding the pretence that I understand either the theory itself
or what Professor Weismann says about it; all I am concerned with is
Professor Weismann's admission, made immediately afterwards, that the
somatic cells may, and perhaps sometimes do, impart characteristics to
the germ-cells.

"A complete and satisfactory refutation of such an opinion," he
continues, "cannot be brought forward at present"; so I suppose we must
wait a little longer, but in the meantime we may again remark that, if we
admit even occasional communication of changes in the somatic cells to
the germ-cells, we have let in the thin end of the wedge, as Mr. Darwin
did when he said that use and disuse did a good deal towards
modification.  Buffon, in his first volume on the lower animals, {37}
dwells on the impossibility of stopping the breach once made by admission
of variation at all.  "If the point," he writes, "were once gained, that
among animals and vegetables there had been, I do not say several
species, but even a single one, which had been produced in the course of
direct descent from another species; if, for example, it could be once
shown that the ass was but a degeneration from the horse--then there is
no farther limit to be set to the power of Nature, and we should not be
wrong in supposing that with sufficient time she could have evolved all
other organised forms from one primordial type."  So with use and disuse
and transmission of acquired characteristics generally--once show that a
single structure or instinct is due to habit in preceding generations,
and we can impose no limit on the results achievable by accumulation in
this respect, nor shall we be wrong in conceiving it as possible that all
specialisation, whether of structure or instinct, may be due ultimately
to habit.

How far this can be shown to be probable is, of course, another matter,
but I am not immediately concerned with this; all I am concerned with now
is to show that the germ-cells not unfrequently become permanently
affected by events that have made a profound impression upon the somatic
cells, in so far that they transmit an obvious reminiscence of the
impression to the embryos which they go subsequently towards forming.
This is all that is necessary for my case, and I do not find that
Professor Weismann, after all, disputes it.

But here, again, comes the difficulty of saying what Professor Weismann
does, and what he does not, dispute.  One moment he gives all that is
wanted for the Lamarckian contention, the next he denies common-sense the
bare necessaries of life.  For a more exhaustive and detailed criticism
of Professor Weismann's position, I would refer the reader to an
admirably clear article by Mr. Sidney H. Vines, which appeared in
_Nature_, October 24, 1889.  I can only say that while reading Professor
Weismann's book, I feel as I do when I read those of Mr. Darwin, and of a
good many other writers on biology whom I need not name.  I become like a
fly in a window-pane.  I see the sunshine and freedom beyond, and buzz up
and down their pages, ever hopeful to get through them to the fresh air
without, but ever kept back by a mysterious something, which I feel but
cannot either grasp or see.  It was not thus when I read Buffon, Erasmus
Darwin, and Lamarck; it is not thus when I read such articles as Mr.
Vines's just referred to.  Love of self-display, and the want of
singleness of mind that it inevitably engenders--these, I suppose, are
the sins that glaze the casements of most men's minds; and from these, no
matter how hard he tries to free himself, nor how much he despises them,
who is altogether exempt?

Finally, then, when we consider the immense mass of evidence referred to
briefly, but sufficiently, by Mr. Charles Darwin, and referred to without
other, for the most part, than off-hand dismissal by Professor Weismann
in the last of the essays that have been recently translated, I do not
see how any one who brings an unbiased mind to the question can hesitate
as to the side on which the weight of testimony inclines.  Professor
Weismann declares that "the transmission of mutilations may be dismissed
into the domain of fable." {38}  If so, then, whom can we trust?  What is
the use of science at all if the conclusions of a man as competent as I
readily admit Mr. Darwin to have been, on the evidence laid before him
from countless sources, is to be set aside lightly and without giving the
clearest and most cogent explanation of the why and wherefore?  When we
see a person "ostrichising" the evidence which he has to meet, as clearly
as I believe Professor Weismann to be doing, we shall in nine cases out
of ten be right in supposing that he knows the evidence to be too strong
for him.


Now let me return to the recent division of biological opinion into two
main streams--Lamarckism and Weismannism Both Lamarckians and
Weismannists, not to mention mankind in general, admit that the better
adapted to its surroundings a living form may be, the more likely it is
to outbreed its compeers.  The world at large, again, needs not to be
told that the normal course is not unfrequently deflected through the
fortunes of war; nevertheless, according to Lamarckians and
Erasmus-Darwinians, habitual effort, guided by ever-growing
intelligence--that is to say, by continued increase of power in the
matter of knowing our likes and dislikes--has been so much the main
factor throughout the course of organic development, that the rest,
though not lost sight of, may be allowed to go without saying.  According,
on the other hand, to extreme Charles-Darwinians and Weismannists, habit,
effort and intelligence acquired during the experience of any one life
goes for nothing.  Not even a little fraction of it endures to the
benefit of offspring.  It dies with him in whom it is acquired, and the
heirs of a man's body take no interest therein.  To state this doctrine
is to arouse instinctive loathing; it is my fortunate task to maintain
that such a nightmare of waste and death is as baseless as it is

The split in biological opinion occasioned by the deadlock to which
Charles-Darwinism has been reduced, though comparatively recent, widens
rapidly.  Ten years ago Lamarck's name was mentioned only as a byword for
extravagance; now, we cannot take up a number of _Nature_ without seeing
how hot the contention is between his followers and those of Weismann.
This must be referred, as I implied earlier, to growing perception that
Mr. Darwin should either have gone farther towards Lamarckism or not so
far.  In admitting use and disuse as freely as he did, he gave
Lamarckians leverage for the overthrow of a system based ostensibly on
the accumulation of fortunate accidents.  In assigning the lion's share
of development to the accumulation of fortunate accidents, he tempted
fortuitists to try to cut the ground from under Lamarck's feet by denying
that the effects of use and disuse can be inherited at all.  When the
public had once got to understand what Lamarck had intended, and wherein
Mr. Charles Darwin had differed from him, it became impossible for
Charles-Darwinians to remain where they were, nor is it easy to see what
course was open to them except to cast about for a theory by which they
could get rid of use and disuse altogether.  Weismannism, therefore, is
the inevitable outcome of the straits to which Charles-Darwinians were
reduced through the way in which their leader had halted between two

This is why Charles-Darwinians, from Professor Huxley downwards, have
kept the difference between Lamarck's opinions and those of Mr. Darwin so
much in the background.  Unwillingness to make this understood is nowhere
manifested more clearly than in Dr. Francis Darwin's life of his father.
In this work Lamarck is sneered at once or twice, and told to go away,
but there is no attempt to state the two cases side by side; from which,
as from not a little else, I conclude that Dr. Francis Darwin has
descended from his father with singularly little modification.

Proceeding to the evidence for the transmissions of acquired habits, I
will quote two recently adduced examples from among the many that have
been credibly attested.  The first was contributed to _Nature_ (March 14,
1889) by Professor Marcus M. Hartog, who wrote:--

"A. B. is moderately myopic and very astigmatic in the left eye;
extremely myopic in the right.  As the left eye gave such bad images for
near objects, he was compelled in childhood to mask it, and acquired the
habit of leaning his head on his left arm for writing, so as to blind
that eye, or of resting the left temple and eye on the hand, with the
elbow on the table.  At the age of fifteen the eyes were equalised by the
use of suitable spectacles, and he soon lost the habit completely and
permanently.  He is now the father of two children, a boy and a girl,
whose vision (tested repeatedly and fully) is emmetropic in both eyes, so
that they have not inherited the congenital optical defect of their
father.  All the same, they have both of them inherited his early
acquired habit, and need constant watchfulness to prevent their hiding
the left eye when writing, by resting the head on the left forearm or
hand.  Imitation is here quite out of the question.

"Considering that every habit involves changes in the proportional
development of the muscular and osseous systems, and hence probably of
the nervous system also, the importance of inherited habits, natural or
acquired, cannot be overlooked in the general theory of inheritance.  I
am fully aware that I shall be accused of flat Lamarckism, but a nickname
is not an argument."

To this Professor Ray Lankester rejoined (_Nature_, March 21, 1889):--

"It is not unusual for children to rest the head on the left forearm or
hand when writing, and I doubt whether much value can be attached to the
case described by Professor Hartog.  The kind of observation which his
letter suggests is, however, likely to lead to results either for or
against the transmission of acquired characters.  An old friend of mine
lost his right arm when a schoolboy, and has ever since written with his
left.  He has a large family and grandchildren, but I have not heard of
any of them showing a disposition to left-handedness."

From _Nature_ (March 21, 1889) I take the second instance communicated by
Mr. J. Jenner-Weir, who wrote as follows:--

"Mr. Marcus M. Hartog's letter of March 6th, inserted in last week's
number (p. 462), is a very valuable contribution to the growing evidence
that acquired characters may be inherited.  I have long held the view
that such is often the case, and I have myself observed several instances
of the, at least I may say, apparent fact.

"Many years ago there was a very fine male of the _Capra megaceros_ in
the gardens of the Zoological Society.  To restrain this animal from
jumping over the fence of the enclosure in which he was confined, a long,
and heavy chain was attached to the collar round his neck.  He was
constantly in the habit of taking this chain up by his horns and moving
it from one side to another over his back; in doing this he threw his
head very much back, his horns being placed in a line with the back.  The
habit had become quite chronic with him, and was very tiresome to look
at.  I was very much astonished to observe that his offspring inherited
the habit, and although it was not necessary to attach a chain to their
necks, I have often seen a young male throwing his horns over his back
and shifting from side to side an imaginary chain.  The action was
exactly the same as that of his ancestor.  The case of the kid of this
goat appears to me to be parallel to that of child and parent given by
Mr. Hartog.  I think at the time I made this observation I informed Mr.
Darwin of the fact by letter, and he did not accuse me of 'flat

To this letter there was no rejoinder.  It may be said, of course, that
the action of the offspring in each of these cases was due to accidental
coincidence only.  Anything can be said, but the question turns not on
what an advocate can say, but on what a reasonably intelligent and
disinterested jury will believe; granted they might be mistaken in
accepting the foregoing stories, but the world of science, like that of
commerce, is based on the faith or confidence, which both creates and
sustains them.  Indeed the universe itself is but the creature of faith,
for assuredly we know of no other foundation.  There is nothing so
generally and reasonably accepted--not even our own continued
identity--but questions may be raised about it that will shortly prove
unanswerable.  We cannot so test every sixpence given us in change as to
be sure that we never take a bad one, and had better sometimes be cheated
than reduce caution to an absurdity.  Moreover, we have seen from the
evidence given in my preceding article that the germ-cells issuing from a
parent's body can, and do, respond to profound impressions made on the
somatic-cells.  This being so, what impressions are more profound, what
needs engage more assiduous attention than those connected with
self-protection, the procuring of food, and the continuation of the
species?  If the mere anxiety connected with an ill-healing wound
inflicted on but one generation is sometimes found to have so impressed
the germ-cells that they hand down its scars to offspring, how much more
shall not anxieties that have directed action of all kinds from birth
till death, not in one generation only but in a longer series of
generations than the mind can realise to itself, modify, and indeed
control, the organisation of every species?

I see Professor S. H. Vines, in the article on Weismann's theory referred
to in my preceding article, says Mr. Darwin "held that it was not the
sudden variations due to altered external conditions which become
permanent, but those slowly produced by what he termed 'the accumulative
action of changed conditions of life.'"  Nothing can be more soundly
Lamarckian, and nothing should more conclusively show that, whatever else
Mr. Darwin was, he was not a Charles-Darwinian; but what evidence other
than inferential can from the nature of the case be adduced in support of
this, as I believe, perfectly correct judgment?  None know better than
they who clamour for direct evidence that their master was right in
taking the position assigned to him by Professor Vines, that they cannot
reasonably look for it.  With us, as with themselves, modification
proceeds very gradually, and it violates our principles as much as their
own to expect visible permanent progress, in any single generation, or
indeed in any number of generations of wild species which we have yet had
time to observe.  Occasionally we can find such cases, as in that of
_Branchipus stagnalis_, quoted by Mr. Wallace, or in that of the New
Zealand Kea whose skin, I was assured by the late Sir Julius von Haast,
has already been modified as a consequence of its change of food.  Here
we can show that in even a few generations structure is modified under
changed conditions of existence, but as we believe these cases to occur
comparatively rarely, so it is still more rarely that they occur when and
where we can watch them.  Nature is eminently conservative, and fixity of
type, even under considerable change of conditions, is surely more
important for the well-being of any species than an over-ready power of
adaptation to, it may be, passing changes.  There could be no steady
progress if each generation were not mainly bound by the traditions of
those that have gone before it.  It is evolution and not incessant
revolution that both parties are upholding; and this being so, rapid
visible modification must be the exception, not the rule.  I have quoted
direct evidence adduced by competent observers, which is, I believe,
sufficient to establish the fact that offspring can be and is sometimes
modified by the acquired habits of a progenitor.  I will now proceed to
the still more, as it appears to me, cogent proof afforded by general

What, let me ask, are the principal phenomena of heredity?  There must be
physical continuity between parent, or parents, and offspring, so that
the offspring is, as Erasmus Darwin well said, a kind of elongation of
the life of the parent.

Erasmus Darwin put the matter so well that I may as well give his words
in full; he wrote:--

"Owing to the imperfection of language the offspring is termed a new
animal, but is in truth a branch or elongation of the parent, since a
part of the embryon animal is, or was, a part of the parent, and
therefore, in strict language, cannot be said to be entirely new at the
time of its production; and therefore it may retain some of the habits of
the parent system.

"At the earliest period of its existence the embryon would seem to
consist of a living filament with certain capabilities of irritation,
sensation, volition, and association, and also with some acquired habits
or propensities peculiar to the parent; the former of these are in common
with other animals; the latter seem to distinguish or produce the kind of
animal, whether man or quadruped, with the similarity of feature or form
to the parent." {39}

Those who accept evolution insist on unbroken physical continuity between
the earliest known life and ourselves, so that we both are and are not
personally identical with the unicellular organism from which we have
descended in the course of many millions of years, exactly in the same
way as an octogenarian both is and is not personally identical with the
microscopic impregnate ovum from which he grew up.  Everything both is
and is not.  There is no such thing as strict identity between any two
things in any two consecutive seconds.  In strictness they are identical
and yet not identical, so that in strictness they violate a fundamental
rule of strictness--namely, that a thing shall never be itself and not
itself at one and the same time; we must choose between logic and dealing
in a practical spirit with time and space; it is not surprising,
therefore, that logic, in spite of the show of respect outwardly paid to
her, is told to stand aside when people come to practice.  In practice
identity is generally held to exist where continuity is only broken
slowly and piecemeal, nevertheless, that occasional periods of even rapid
change are not held to bar identity, appears from the fact that no one
denies this to hold between the microscopically small impregnate ovum and
the born child that springs from it, nor yet, therefore, between the
impregnate ovum and the octogenarian into which the child grows; for both
ovum and octogenarian are held personally identical with the newborn
baby, and things that are identical with the same are identical with one

The first, then, and most important element of heredity is that there
should be unbroken continuity, and hence sameness of personality, between
parents and offspring, in neither more nor less than the same sense as
that in which any other two personalities are said to be the same.  The
repetition, therefore, of its developmental stages by any offspring must
be regarded as something which the embryo repeating them has already done
once, in the person of one or other parent; and if once, then, as many
times as there have been generations between any given embryo now
repeating it, and the point in life from which we started--say, for
example, the amoeba.  In the case of asexually and sexually produced
organisms alike, the offspring must be held to continue the personality
of the parent or parents, and hence on the occasion of every fresh
development, to be repeating something which in the person of its parent
or parents it has done once, and if once, then any number of times,

It is obvious, therefore, that the germ-plasm (or whatever the fancy word
for it may be) of any one generation is as physically identical with the
germ-plasm of its predecessor as any two things can be.  The difference
between Professor Weismann and, we will say, Heringians consists in the
fact that the first maintains the new germ-plasm when on the point of
repeating its developmental processes to take practically no cognisance
of anything that has happened to it since the last occasion on which it
developed itself; while the latter maintain that offspring takes much the
same kind of account of what has happened to it in the persons of its
parents since the last occasion on which it developed itself, as people
in ordinary life take of things that happen to them.  In daily life
people let fairly normal circumstances come and go without much heed as
matters of course.  If they have been lucky they make a note of it and
try to repeat their success.  If they have been unfortunate but have
recovered rapidly they soon forget it; if they have suffered long and
deeply they grizzle over it and are scared and scarred by it for a long
time.  The question is one of cognisance or non-cognisance on the part of
the new germs, of the more profound impressions made on them while they
were one with their parents, between the occasion of their last preceding
development, and the new course on which they are about to enter.  Those
who accept the theory put forward independently by Professor Hering of
Prague (whose work on this subject is translated in my book, "Unconscious
Memory") {40} and by myself in "Life and Habit," {41} believe in
cognizance, as do Lamarckians generally.  Weismannites, and with them the
orthodoxy of English science, find non-cognisance more acceptable.

If the Heringian view is accepted, that heredity is only a mode of
memory, and an extension of memory from one generation to another, then
the repetition of its development by any embryo thus becomes only the
repetition of a lesson learned by rote; and, as I have elsewhere said,
our view of life is simplified by finding that it is no longer an
equation of, say, a hundred unknown quantities, but of ninety-nine only,
inasmuch as two of the unknown quantities prove to be substantially
identical.  In this case the inheritance of acquired characteristics
cannot be disputed, for it is postulated in the theory that each embryo
takes note of, remembers and is guided by the profounder impressions made
upon it while in the persons of its parents, between its present and last
preceding development.  To maintain this is to maintain use and disuse to
be the main factors throughout organic development; to deny it is to deny
that use and disuse can have any conceivable effect.  For the detailed
reasons which led me to my own conclusions I must refer the reader to my
books, "Life and Habit" {42} and "Unconscious Memory," {42} the
conclusions of which have been often adopted, but never, that I have
seen, disputed.  A brief _resume_ of the leading points in the argument
is all that space will here allow me to give.

We have seen that it is a first requirement of heredity that there shall
be physical continuity between parents and offspring.  This holds good
with memory.  There must be continued identity between the person
remembering and the person to whom the thing that is remembered happened.
We cannot remember things that happened to some one else, and in our
absence.  We can only remember having heard of them.  We have seen,
however, that there is as much _bona-fide_ sameness of personality
between parents and offspring up to the time at which the offspring quits
the parent's body, as there is between the different states of the parent
himself at any two consecutive moments; the offspring therefore, being
one and the same person with its progenitors until it quits them, can be
held to remember what happened to them within, of course, the limitations
to which all memory is subject, as much as the progenitors can remember
what happened earlier to themselves.  Whether it does so remember can
only be settled by observing whether it acts as living beings commonly do
when they are acting under guidance of memory.  I will endeavour to show
that, though heredity and habit based on memory go about in different
dresses, yet if we catch them separately--for they are never seen
together--and strip them there is not a mole nor strawberry-mark, nor
trick nor leer of the one, but we find it in the other also.

What are the moles and strawberry-marks of habitual action, or actions
remembered and thus repeated?  First, the more often we repeat them the
more easily and unconsciously we do them.  Look at reading, writing,
walking, talking, playing the piano, &c.; the longer we have practised
any one of these acquired habits, the more easily, automatically and
unconsciously, we perform it.  Look, on the other hand, broadly, at the
three points to which I called attention in "Life and Habit":--

I.  That we are most conscious of and have most control over such habits
as speech, the upright position, the arts and sciences--which are
acquisitions peculiar to the human race, always acquired after birth, and
not common to ourselves and any ancestor who had not become entirely

II.  That we are less conscious of and have less control over eating and
drinking [provided the food be normal], swallowing, breathing, seeing,
and hearing--which were acquisitions of our prehuman ancestry, and for
which we had provided ourselves with all the necessary apparatus before
we saw light, but which are still, geologically speaking, recent.

III.  That we are most unconscious of and have least control over our
digestion and circulation--powers possessed even by our invertebrate
ancestry, and, geologically speaking, of extreme antiquity.

I have put the foregoing very broadly, but enough is given to show the
reader the gist of the argument.  Let it be noted that disturbance and
departure, to any serious extent, from normal practice tends to induce
resumption of consciousness even in the case of such old habits as
breathing, seeing, and hearing, digestion and the circulation of the
blood.  So it is with habitual actions in general.  Let a player be never
so proficient on any instrument, he will be put out if the normal
conditions under which he plays are too widely departed from, and will
then do consciously, if indeed he can do it at all, what he had hitherto
been doing unconsciously.  It is an axiom as regards actions acquired
after birth, that we never do them automatically save as the result of
long practice; the stages in the case of any acquired facility, the
inception of which we have been able to watch, have invariably been from
a nothingness of ignorant impotence to a little somethingness of highly
self-conscious, arduous performance, and thence to the
unselfconsciousness of easy mastery.  I saw one year a poor blind lad of
about eighteen sitting on a wall by the wayside at Varese, playing the
concertina with his whole body, and snorting like a child.  The next year
the boy no longer snorted, and he played with his fingers only; the year
after that he seemed hardly to know whether he was playing or not, it
came so easily to him.  I know no exception to this rule.  Where is the
intricate and at one time difficult art in which perfect automatic ease
has been reached except as the result of long practice?  If, then,
wherever we can trace the development of automatism we find it to have
taken this course, is it not most reasonable to infer that it has taken
the same even when it has risen in regions that are beyond our ken?  Ought
we not, whenever we see a difficult action performed, automatically to
suspect antecedent practice?  Granted that without the considerations in
regard to identity presented above it would not have been easy to see
where a baby of a day old could have had the practice which enables it to
do as much as it does unconsciously, but even without these
considerations it would have been more easy to suppose that the necessary
opportunities had not been wanting, than that the easy performance could
have been gained without practice and memory.

When I wrote "Life and Habit" (originally published in 1877) I said in
slightly different words:--

"Shall we say that a baby of a day old sucks (which involves the whole
principle of the pump and hence a profound practical knowledge of the
laws of pneumatics and hydrostatics), digests, oxygenises its
blood--millions of years before any one had discovered oxygen--sees and
hears, operations that involve an unconscious knowledge of the facts
concerning optics and acoustics compared with which the conscious
discoveries of Newton are insignificant--shall we say that a baby can do
all these things at once, doing them so well and so regularly without
being even able to give them attention, and yet without mistake, and
shall we also say at the same time that it has not learnt to do them, and
never did them before?

"Such an assertion would contradict the whole experience of mankind."

I have met with nothing during the thirteen years since the foregoing was
published that has given me any qualms about its soundness.  From the
point of view of the law courts and everyday life it is, of course,
nonsense; but in the kingdom of thought, as in that of heaven, there are
many mansions, and what would be extravagance in the cottage or
farmhouse, as it were, of daily practice, is but common decency in the
palace of high philosophy, wherein dwells evolution.  If we leave
evolution alone, we may stick to common practice and the law courts;
touch evolution and we are in another world; not higher, not lower, but
different as harmony from counterpoint.  As, however, in the most
absolute counterpoint there is still harmony, and in the most absolute
harmony still counterpoint, so high philosophy should be still in touch
with common sense, and common sense with high philosophy.

The common-sense view of the matter to people who are not over-curious
and to whom time is money, will be that a baby is not a baby until it is
born, and that when born it should be born in wedlock.  Nevertheless, as
a sop to high philosophy, every baby is allowed to be the offspring of
its father and mother.

The high-philosophy view of the matter is that every human being is still
but a fresh edition of the primordial cell with the latest additions and
corrections; there has been no leap nor break in continuity anywhere; the
man of to-day is the primordial cell of millions of years ago as truly as
he is the himself of yesterday; he can only be denied to be the one on
grounds that will prove him not to be the other.  Every one is both
himself and all his direct ancestors and descendants as well; therefore,
if we would be logical, he is one also with all his cousins, no matter
how distant, for he and they are alike identical with the primordial
cell, and we have already noted it as an axiom that things which are
identical with the same are identical with one another.  This is
practically making him one with all living things, whether animal or
vegetable, that ever have existed or ever will--something of all which
may have been in the mind of Sophocles when he wrote:--

   "Nor seest thou yet the gathering hosts of ill
   That shall en-one thee both with thine own self
   And with thine offspring."

And all this has come of admitting that a man may be the same person for
two days running!  As for sopping common sense it will be enough to say
that these remarks are to be taken in a strictly scientific sense, and
have no appreciable importance as regards life and conduct.  True they
deal with the foundations on which all life and conduct are based, but
like other foundations they are hidden out of sight, and the sounder they
are, the less we trouble ourselves about them.

What other main common features between heredity and memory may we note
besides the fact that neither can exist without that kind of physical
continuity which we call personal identity?  First, the development of
the embryo proceeds in an established order; so must all habitual actions
based on memory.  Disturb the normal order and the performance is
arrested.  The better we know "God save the Queen," the less easily can
we play or sing it backwards.  The return of memory again depends on the
return of ideas associated with the particular thing that is
remembered--we remember nothing but for the presence of these, and when
enough of these are presented to us we remember everything.  So, if the
development of an embryo is due to memory, we should suppose the memory
of the impregnate ovum to revert not to yesterday, when it was in the
persons of its parents, but to the last occasion on which it was an
impregnate ovum.  The return of the old environment and the presence of
old associations would at once involve recollection of the course that
should be next taken, and the same should happen throughout the whole
course of development.  The actual course of development presents
precisely the phenomena agreeable with this.  For fuller treatment of
this point I must refer the reader to the chapter on the abeyance of
memory in my book "Life and Habit," already referred to.

Secondly, we remember best our last few performances of any given kind,
so our present performance will probably resemble some one or other of
these; we remember our earlier performances by way of residuum only, but
every now and then we revert to an earlier habit.  This feature of memory
is manifested in heredity by the way in which offspring commonly
resembles most its nearer ancestors, but sometimes reverts to earlier
ones.  Brothers and sisters, each as it were giving their own version of
the same story, but in different words, should generally resemble each
other more closely than more distant relations.  And this is what
actually we find.

Thirdly, the introduction of slightly new elements into a method already
established varies it beneficially; the new is soon fused with the old,
and the monotony ceases to be oppressive.  But if the new be too foreign,
we cannot fuse the old and the new--nature seeming to hate equally too
wide a deviation from ordinary practice and none at all.  This fact
reappears in heredity as the beneficial effects of occasional crossing on
the one hand, and on the other, in the generally observed sterility of
hybrids.  If heredity be an affair of memory, how can an embryo, say of a
mule, be expected to build up a mule on the strength of but two
mule-memories?  Hybridism causes a fault in the chain of memory, and it
is to this cause that the usual sterility of hybrids must be referred.

Fourthly, it requires many repeated impressions to fix a method firmly,
but when it has been engrained into us we cease to have much recollection
of the manner in which it came to be so, or indeed of any individual
repetition, but sometimes a single impression, if prolonged as well as
profound, produces a lasting impression and is liable to return with
sudden force, and then to go on returning to us at intervals.  As a
general rule, however, abnormal impressions cannot long hold their own
against the overwhelming preponderance of normal authority.  This appears
in heredity as the normal non-inheritance of mutilations on the one hand,
and on the other as their occasional inheritance in the case of injuries
followed by disease.

Fifthly, if heredity and memory are essentially the same, we should
expect that no animal would develop new structures of importance after
the age at which its species begins ordinarily to continue its race; for
we cannot suppose offspring to remember anything that happens to the
parent subsequently to the parent's ceasing to contain the offspring
within itself.  From the average age, therefore, of reproduction,
offspring should cease to have any farther steady, continuous memory to
fall back upon; what memory there is should be full of faults, and as
such unreliable.  An organism ought to develop as long as it is backed by
memory--that is to say, until the average age at which reproduction
begins; it should then continue to go for a time on the impetus already
received, and should eventually decay through failure of any memory to
support it, and tell it what to do.  This corresponds absolutely with
what we observe in organisms generally, and explains, on the one hand,
why the age of puberty marks the beginning of completed development--a
riddle hitherto not only unexplained but, so far as I have seen, unasked;
it explains, on the other hand, the phenomena of old age--hitherto
without even attempt at explanation.

Sixthly, those organisms that are the longest in reaching maturity should
on the average be the longest-lived, for they will have received the most
momentous impulse from the weight of memory behind them.  This harmonises
with the latest opinion as to the facts.  In his article on Weismann in
the _Contemporary Review_ for May 1890, Mr. Romanes writes: "Professor
Weismann has shown that there is throughout the metazoa a general
correlation between the natural lifetime of individuals composing any
given species, and the age at which they reach maturity or first become
capable of procreation."  This, I believe, has been the conclusion
generally arrived at by biologists for some years past.

Lateness, then, in the average age of reproduction appears to be the
principle underlying longevity.  There does not appear at first sight to
be much connection between such distinct and apparently disconnected
phenomena as 1, the orderly normal progress of development; 2, atavism
and the resumption of feral characteristics; 3, the more ordinary
resemblance _inter se_ of nearer relatives; 4, the benefit of an
occasional cross, and the usual sterility of hybrids; 5, the
unconsciousness with which alike bodily development and ordinary
physiological functions proceed, so long as they are normal; 6, the
ordinary non-inheritance, but occasional inheritance of mutilations; 7,
the fact that puberty indicates the approach of maturity; 8, the
phenomena of middle life and old age; 9, the principle underlying
longevity.  These phenomena have no conceivable bearing on one another
until heredity and memory are regarded as part of the same story.
Identify these two things, and I know no phenomenon of heredity that does
not immediately become infinitely more intelligible.  Is it conceivable
that a theory which harmonises so many facts hitherto regarded as without
either connection or explanation should not deserve at any rate
consideration from those who profess to take an interest in biology?

It is not as though the theory were unknown, or had been condemned by our
leading men of science.  Professor Ray Lankester introduced it to English
readers in an appreciative notice of Professor Hering's address, which
appeared in _Nature_, July 18, 1876.  He wrote to the _Athenaeum_, March
24, 1884, and claimed credit for having done so, but I do not believe he
has ever said more in public about it than what I have here referred to.
Mr. Romanes did indeed try to crush it in _Nature_, January 27, 1881, but
in 1883, in his "Mental Evolution in Animals," he adopted its main
conclusion without acknowledgment.  The _Athenaeum_, to my unbounded
surprise, called him to task for this (March 1, 1884), and since that
time he has given the Heringian theory a sufficiently wide berth.  Mr.
Wallace showed himself favourably enough disposed towards the view that
heredity and memory are part of the same story when he reviewed my book
"Life and Habit" in _Nature_, March 27, 1879, but he has never since
betrayed any sign of being aware that such a theory existed.  Mr. Herbert
Spencer wrote to the _Athenaeum_ (April 5, 1884), and claimed the theory
for himself, but, in spite of his doing this, he has never, that I have
seen, referred to the matter again.  I have dealt sufficiently with his
claim in my book, "Luck or Cunning." {43}  Lastly, Professor Hering
himself has never that I know of touched his own theory since the single
short address read in 1870, and translated by me in 1881.  Every one,
even its originator, except myself, seems afraid to open his mouth about
it.  Of course the inference suggests itself that other people have more
sense than I have.  I readily admit it; but why have so many of our
leaders shown such a strong hankering after the theory, if there is
nothing in it?

The deadlock that I have pointed out as existing in Darwinism will, I
doubt not, lead ere long to a consideration of Professor Hering's theory.
English biologists are little likely to find Weismann satisfactory for
long, and if he breaks down there is nothing left for them but Lamarck,
supplemented by the important and elucidatory corollary on his theory
proposed by Professor Hering.  When the time arrives for this to obtain a
hearing it will be confirmed, doubtless, by arguments clearer and more
forcible than any I have been able to adduce; I shall then be delighted
to resign the championship which till then I shall continue, as for some
years past, to have much pleasure in sustaining.  Heretofore my
satisfaction has mainly lain in the fact that more of our prominent men
of science have seemed anxious to claim the theory than to refute it; in
the confidence thus engendered I leave it to any fuller consideration
which the outline I have above given may incline the reader to bestow
upon it.


{1}  Published in the _Universal Review_, July 1888.

{2}  Published in the _Universal Review_, December 1890.

{3}  Published in the _Universal Review_, May 1889.  As I have several
times been asked if the letters here reprinted were not fabricated by
Butler himself, I take this opportunity of stating that they are
authentic in every particular, and that the originals are now in my
possession.--R. A. S.

{4}  An address delivered at the Somerville Club, February 27, 1895.

{5}  "The Foundations of Belief," by the Right Hon. A. J. Balfour.
Longmans, 1895, p. 48.

{6}  Published in the _Universal Review_, November 1888.

{7}  Since this essay was written it has been ascertained by Cavaliere
Francesco Negri, of Casale Monferrato, that Tabachetti died in 1615.  If,
therefore, the Sanctuary of Montrigone was not founded until 1631, it is
plain that Tabachetti cannot have worked there.  All the latest
discoveries about Tabachetti's career will be found in Cavaliere Negri's
pamphlet "Il Santuario di Crea" (Alessandria, 1902).  See also note on p.
154.--R. A. S.

{8}  Published in the _Universal Review_, December 1889.

{9}  Longmans & Co., 1890.

{10}  Longmans & Co., 1890.

{11}  Published in the _Universal Review_, November 1890.

{12}  Longmans & Co., 1890.

{13}  M. Ruppen's words run: "1687 wurde die Kapelle zur hohen Stiege
gebaut, 1747 durch Zusatz vergrossert und 1755 mit Orgeln ausgestattet.
Anton Ruppen, ein geschickter Steinhauer mid Maurermeister leitete den
Kapellebau, und machte darin das kleinere Altarlein.  Bei der hohen
Stiege war fruher kein Gebetshauslein; nur ein wunderthatiges Bildlein
der Mutter Gottes stand da in einer Mauer vor dem fromme Hirten und viel
andachtiges Volk unter freiem Himmel beteten.

"1709 wurden die kleinen Kapellelein die 15 Geheimnisse des Psalters
vorstelland auf dem Wege zur hohen Stiege gebaut.  Jeder Haushalter des
Viertels Fee ubernahm den Bau eines dieser Geheimnisskapellen, und ein
besonderer Gutthater dieser frommen Unternehmung war Heinrich
Andenmatten, nachher Bruder der Geselischaft Jesu."

{14}  The story of Tabachetti's incarceration is very doubtful.  Cavaliere
F. Negri, to whose book on Tabachetti and his work at Crea I have already
referred the reader, does not mention it.  Tabachetti left his native
Dinant in 1585, and from that date until his death in 1615 he appears to
have worked chiefly at Varallo and Crea.  There is a document in
existence stating that in 1588 he executed a statue for the hermitage of
S. Rocco, at Crea, which, if it is to be relied on, disposes both of the
incarceration and of the visit to Saas.  It is possible, however, that
the date is 1598, in which case Butler's theory of the visit to Saas may
hold good.  In 1590 Tabachetti was certainly at Varallo, and again in
1594, 1599, and 1602.  He died in 1615, possibly during a visit to
Varallo, though his home at that time was Costigliole, near Asti.--R. A.

{15}  This is thus chronicled by M. Ruppen: "1589 den 9 September war
eine Wassergrosse, die viel Schaden verursachte.  Die Thalstrasse, die
von den Steinmatten an bis zur Kirche am Ufer der Visp lag, wurde ganz
zerstort.  Man ward gezwungen eine neue Strasse in einiger Entfernung vom
Wasser durch einen alten Fussweg auszuhauen welche vier und einerhalben
Viertel der Klafter, oder 6 Schuh und 9 Zoll breit soilte."  (p. 43).

{16}  A lecture delivered at the Working Men's College in Great Ormond
Street, March 15, 1890; rewritten and delivered again at the Somerville
Club, February 13, 1894.

{17}  "Correlation of Forces": Longmans, 1874, p. 15.

{18}  "Three Lectures on the Science of Language," Longmans, 1889, p. 4.

{19}  "Science of Thought," Longmans, 1887, p. 9.

{20}  Published in the _Universal Review_, April, May, and June 1890.

{21}  "Voyages of the _Adventure_ and _Beagle_," iii. p. 237.

{22}  "Luck, or Cunning, as the main means of Organic Modification?"
(Longmans), pp. 179, 180.

{23}  _Journals of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society_ (Zoology, vol.
iii.), 1859, p. 61.

{24}  "Darwinism" (Macmillan, 1889), p. 129.

{25}  Longmans, 1890, p. 376.

{26}  See _Nature_, March 6, 1890.

{27}  "Origin of Species," sixth edition, 1888, vol. i. p. 168.

{28}  "Origin of Species," sixth edition, 1888, vol. ii. p. 261.

{29}  Mr. J. T. Cunningham, of the Marine Biological Laboratory,
Plymouth, has called my attention to the fact that I have ascribed to
Professor Ray Lankester a criticism on Mr. Wallace's remarks upon the
eyes of certain fiat-fish, which Professor Ray Lankester was, in reality,
only adopting--with full acknowledgment--from Mr. Cunningham.  Mr.
Cunningham has left it to me whether to correct my omission publicly or
not, but he would so plainly prefer my doing so that I consider myself
bound to insert this note.  Curiously enough I find that in my book
"Evolution Old and New," I gave what Lamarck actually said upon the eyes
of flat-fish, and having been led to return to the subject, I may as well
quote his words.  He wrote:--

"Need--always occasioned by the circumstances in which an animal is
placed, and followed by sustained efforts at gratification--can not only
modify an organ--that is to say, augment or reduce it--but can change its
position when the case requires its removal.

"Ocean fishes have occasion to see what is on either side of them, and
have their eyes accordingly placed on either side of their head.  Some
fishes, however, have their abode near coasts on submarine banks and
inclinations, and are thus forced to flatten themselves as much as
possible in order to get as near as they can to the shore.  In this
situation they receive more light from above than from below, and find it
necessary to pay attention to whatever happens to be above them; this
need has involved the displacement of their eyes, which now take the
remarkable position which we observe in the case of soles, turbots,
plaice, &c.  The transfer of position is not even yet complete in the
case of these fishes, and the eyes are not, therefore, symmetrically
placed; but they are so with the skate, whose head and whole body are
equally disposed on either side a longitudinal section.  Hence the eyes
of this fish are placed symmetrically upon the uppermost
_side_."--_Philosophie Zoologique_, tom. i., pp. 250, 251.  Edition C.
Martins.  Paris, 1873.

{30}  "Essays on Heredity," &c., Oxford, 1889, p. 171.

{31}  "Essays on Heredity," &c., Oxford, 1889, p. 266.

{32}  "Darwinism," 1889, p. 440.

{33}  Page 83.

{34}  Vol. i. p. 466, &c.  Ed. 1885.

{35}  "Darwinism," p. 440.

{36}  Longmans, 1890.

{37}  Tom. iv. p. 383.  Ed. 1753.

{38}  Essays, &c., p. 447.

{39}  "Zoonomia," 1794, vol. i. p. 480.

{40}  Longmans, 1890.

{41}  Longmans, 1890.

{42}  Longmans, 1890.

{43}  Longmans, 1890.

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