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Title: Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art
Author: Various
Language: English
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                           Eclectic Magazine



     New Series.    }                        { Old Series complete
  Vol. XLI., No. 4. }      April, 1885.      { in 63 vols.

                      A WORD MORE ABOUT AMERICA.

                          BY MATTHEW ARNOLD.

When I was at Chicago last year, I was asked whether Lord Coleridge
would not write a book about America. I ventured to answer confidently
for him that he would do nothing of the kind. Not at Chicago only, but
almost wherever I went, I was asked whether I myself did not intend
to write a book about America. For oneself one can answer yet more
confidently than for one’s friends, and I always replied that most
assuredly I had no such intention. To write a book about America, on
the strength of having made merely such a tour there as mine was,
and with no fuller equipment of preparatory studies and of local
observations than I possess, would seem to me an impertinence.

It is now a long while since I read M. de Tocqueville’s famous
work on Democracy in America. I have the highest respect for M. de
Tocqueville; but my remembrance of his book is that it deals too much
in abstractions for my taste, and that it is written, moreover, in a
style which many French writers adopt, but which I find trying—a style
cut into short paragraphs and wearing an air of rigorous scientific
deduction without the reality. Very likely, however, I do M. de
Tocqueville injustice. My debility in high speculation is well known,
and I mean to attempt his book on Democracy again when I have seen
America once more, and when years may have brought to me, perhaps, more
of the philosophic mind. Meanwhile, however, it will be evident how
serious a matter I think it to write a worthy book about the United
States, when I am not entirely satisfied with even M. de Tocqueville’s.

But before I went to America, and when I had no expectation of ever
going there, I published, under the title of “A Word about America,”
not indeed a book, but a few modest remarks on what I thought
civilisation in the United States might probably be like. I had before
me a Boston newspaper-article which said that if I ever visited America
I should find there such and such things; and taking this article for
my text I observed, that from all I had read and all I could judge,
I should for my part expect to find there rather such and such other
things, which I mentioned. I said that of aristocracy, as we know it
here, I should expect to find, of course, in the United States the
total absence; that our lower class I should expect to find absent in a
great degree, while my old familiar friend, the middle class, I should
expect to find in full possession of the land. And then betaking myself
to those playful phrases which a little relieve, perhaps, the tedium of
grave disquisitions of this sort, I said that I imagined one would just
have in America our Philistines, with our aristocracy quite left out
and our populace very nearly.

An acute and singularly candid American, whose name I will on no
account betray to his countrymen, read these observations of mine, and
he made a remark upon them to me which struck me a good deal. Yes, he
said, you are right, and your supposition is just. In general, what
you would find over there would be the Philistines, as you call them,
without your aristocracy and without your populace. Only this, too,
I say at the same time: you would find over there something besides,
something more, something which you do not bring out, which you cannot
know and bring out, perhaps, without actually visiting the United
States, but which you would recognise if you saw it.

My friend was a true prophet. When I saw the United States I recognised
that the general account which I had hazarded of them was, indeed, not
erroneous, but that it required to have something added to supplement
it. I should not like either my friends in America or my countrymen
here at home to think that my “Word about America” gave my full and
final thoughts respecting the people of the United States. The new and
modifying impressions brought by experience I shall communicate, as I
did my original expectations, with all good faith, and as simply and
plainly as possible. Perhaps when I have yet again visited America,
have seen the great West, and have had a second reading of M. de
Tocqueville’s classical work on Democracy, my mind may be enlarged and
my present impressions still further modified by new ideas. If so, I
promise to make my confession duly; not indeed to make it, even then,
in a book about America, but to make it in a brief “Last Word” on that
great subject—a word, like its predecessors, of open-hearted and free
conversation with the readers of this Review.

       *       *       *       *       *

I suppose I am not by nature disposed to think so much as most people
do of “institutions.” The Americans think and talk very much of their
“institutions;” I am by nature inclined to call all this sort of
thing _machinery_, and to regard rather men and their characters.
But the more I saw of America, the more I found myself led to treat
“institutions” with increased respect. Until I went to the United
States I had never seen a people with institutions which seemed
expressly and thoroughly suited to it. I had not properly appreciated
the benefits proceeding from this cause.

Sir Henry Maine, in an admirable essay which, though not signed,
betrays him for its author by its rare and characteristic qualities of
mind and style—Sir Henry Maine in the _Quarterly Review_ adopts and
often reiterates a phrase of M. Scherer, to the effect that “Democracy
is only a form of government.” He holds up to ridicule a sentence of
Mr. Bancroft’s History, in which the American democracy is told that
its ascent to power “proceeded as uniformly and majestically as the
laws of being and was as certain as the decrees of eternity.” Let us be
willing to give Sir Henry Maine his way, and to allow no magnificent
claim of this kind on behalf of the American democracy. Let us treat
as not more solid the assertion in the Declaration of Independence,
that “all men are created equal, are endowed by their Creator with
certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness.” Let us concede that these natural rights are a figment;
that chance and circumstance, as much as deliberate foresight and
design, have brought the United States into their present condition,
that moreover the British rule which they threw off was not the rule of
oppressors and tyrants which declaimers suppose, and that the merit of
the Americans was not that of oppressed men rising against tyrants, but
rather of sensible young people getting rid of stupid and overweening
guardians who misunderstood and mismanaged them.

All this let us concede, if we will; but in conceding it let us not
lose sight of the really important point, which is this: that their
institutions do in fact suit the people of the United States so well,
and that from this suitableness they do derive so much actual benefit.
As one watches the play of their institutions, the image suggests
itself to one’s mind of a man in a suit of clothes which fits him to
perfection, leaving all his movements unimpeded and easy. It is loose
where it ought to be loose, and it sits close where its sitting close
is an advantage. The central government of the United States keeps in
its own hands those functions which, if the nation is to have real
unity, ought to be kept there; those functions it takes to itself
and no others. The State governments and the municipal governments
provide people with the fullest liberty of managing their own affairs,
and afford, besides, a constant and invaluable school of practical
experience. This wonderful suit of clothes, again (to recur to our
image), is found also to adapt itself naturally to the wearer’s growth,
and to admit of all enlargements as they successively arise. I speak of
the state of things since the suppression of slavery, of the state of
things which meets a spectator’s eye at the present time in America.
There are points in which the institutions of the United States may
call forth criticism. One observer may think that it would be well if
the President’s term of office were longer, if his ministers sate in
Congress or must possess the confidence of Congress. Another observer
may say that the marriage laws for the whole nation ought to be fixed
by Congress, and not to vary at the will of the legislatures of the
several States. I myself was much struck with the inconvenience of
not allowing a man to sit in Congress except for his own district; a
man like Wendell Phillips was thus excluded, because Boston would not
return him. It is as if Mr. Bright could have no other constituency
open to him if Rochdale would not send him to Parliament. But all
these are really questions of _machinery_ (to use my own term), and
ought not so to engage our attention as to prevent our seeing that the
capital fact as to the institutions of the United States is this: their
suitableness to the American people and their natural and easy working.
If we are not to be allowed to say, with Mr. Beecher, that this people
has “a genius for the organisation of States,” then at all events we
must admit that in its own organisation it has enjoyed the most signal
good fortune.

Yes; what is called, in the jargon of the publicists, the political
problem and the social problem, the people of the United States does
appear to me to have solved, or Fortune has solved it for them, with
undeniable success. Against invasion and conquest from without they
are impregnably strong. As to domestic concerns, the first thing to
remember is, that the people over there is at bottom the same people
as ourselves, a people with a strong sense for conduct. But there
is said to be great corruption among their politicians and in the
public service, in municipal administration, and in the administration
of justice. Sir Lepel Griffin would lead us to think that the
administration of justice, in particular, is so thoroughly corrupt, that
a man with a lawsuit has only to provide his lawyer with the necessary
funds for bribing the officials, and he can make sure of winning his
suit. The Americans themselves use such strong language in describing
the corruption prevalent amongst them that they cannot be surprised if
strangers believe them. For myself, I had heard and read so much to
the discredit of American political life, how all the best men kept
aloof from it, and those who gave themselves to it were unworthy, that
I ended by supposing that the thing must actually be so, and the good
Americans must be looked for elsewhere than in politics. Then I had the
pleasure of dining with Mr. Bancroft in Washington; and however he
may, in Sir Henry Maine’s opinion, overlaud the pre-established harmony
of American democracy, he had at any rate invited to meet me half a
dozen politicians whom in England we should pronounce to be members of
Parliament of the highest class, in bearing, manners, tone of feeling,
intelligence, information. I discovered that in truth the practice, so
common in America, of calling a politician “a thief,” does not mean
so very much more than is meant in England when we have heard Lord
Beaconsfield called “a liar” and Mr. Gladstone “a madman.” It means,
that the speaker disagrees with the politician in question and dislikes
him. Not that I assent, on the other hand, to the thick-and-thin
American patriots, who will tell you that there is no more corruption
in the politics and administration of the United States than in those
of England. I believe there _is_ more, and that the tone of both is
lower there; and this from a cause on which I shall have to touch
hereafter. But the corruption is exaggerated; it is not the wide and
deep disease it is often represented; it is such that the good elements
in the nation may, and I believe will, perfectly work it off; and even
now the truth of what I have been saying as to the suitableness and
successful working of American institutions is not really in the least
affected by it.

Furthermore, American society is not in danger from revolution. Here,
again, I do not mean that the United States are exempt from the
operation of every one of the causes—such a cause as the division
between rich and poor, for instance—which may lead to revolution. But I
mean that comparatively with the old countries of Europe they are free
from the danger of revolution; and I believe that the good elements in
them will make a way for them to escape out of what they really have
of this danger also, to escape in the future as well as now—the future
for which some observers announce this danger as so certain and so
formidable. Lord Macaulay predicted that the United States must come
in time to just the same state of things which we witness in England;
that the cities would fill up and the lands become occupied, and then,
he said, the division between rich and poor would establish itself on
the same scale as with us, and be just as embarrassing. He forgot that
the United States are without what certainly fixes and accentuates the
division between rich and poor—the distinction of classes. Not only
have they not the distinction between noble and bourgeois, between
aristocracy and middle class; they have not even the distinction
between bourgeois and peasant or artisan, between middle and lower
class. They have nothing to create it and compel their recognition of
it. Their domestic service is done for them by Irish, Germans, Swedes,
Negroes. Outside domestic service, within the range of conditions which
an American may in fact be called upon to traverse, he passes easily
from one sort of occupation to another, from poverty to riches, and
from riches to poverty. No one of his possible occupations appears
degrading to him or makes him lose caste; and poverty itself appears to
him as inconvenient and disagreeable rather than as humiliating. When
the immigrant from Europe strikes root in his new home, he becomes as
the American.

It may be said that the Americans, when they attained their
independence, had not the elements for a division into classes, and
that they deserve no praise for not having invented one. But I am
not now contending that they deserve praise for their institutions,
I am saying how well their institutions work. Considering, indeed,
how rife are distinctions of rank and class in the world, how prone
men in general are to adopt them, how much the Americans themselves,
beyond doubt, are capable of feeling their attraction, it shows, I
think, at least strong good sense in the Americans to have forborne
from all attempt to invent them at the outset, and to have escaped
or resisted any fancy for inventing them since. But evidently the
United States constituted themselves, not amid the circumstances of a
feudal age, but in a modern age; not under the conditions of an epoch
favorable to subordination, but under those of an epoch of expansion.
Their institutions did but comply with the form and pressure of the
circumstances and conditions then present. A feudal age, an epoch of
war, defence, and concentration, needs centres of power and property,
and it reinforces property by joining distinctions of rank and class
with it. Property becomes more honorable, more solid. And in feudal
ages this is well, for its changing hands easily would be a source
of weakness. But in ages of expansion, where men are bent that every
one shall have his chance, the more readily property changes hands
the better. The envy with which its holder is regarded diminishes,
society is safer. I think whatever may be said of the worship of
the almighty dollar in America, it is indubitable that rich men are
regarded there with less envy and hatred than rich men are in Europe.
Why is this? Because their condition is less fixed, because government
and legislation do not take them more seriously than other people,
make grandees of them, aid them to found families and endure. With
us, the chief holders of property are grandees already, and every
rich man aspires to become a grandee if possible. And therefore an
English country-gentleman regards himself as part of the system of
nature; government and legislation have invited him so to do. If the
price of wheat falls so low that his means of expenditure are greatly
reduced, he tells you that if this lasts he cannot possibly go on
as a country-gentleman; and every well-bred person amongst us looks
sympathising and shocked. An American would say: “Why should he?” The
Conservative newspapers are fond of giving us, as an argument for the
game-laws, the plea that without them a country-gentleman could not
be induced to live on his estate. An American would say: “What does
it matter?” Perhaps to an English ear this will sound brutal; but the
point is that the American does not take his rich man so seriously as
we do ours, does not make him into a grandee; the thing, if proposed
to him, would strike him as an absurdity. I suspect that Mr. Winans
himself, the American millionaire who adds deer-forest to deer-forest,
and will not suffer a cottier to keep a pet lamb, regards his own
performance as a colossal stroke of American humor, illustrating the
absurdities of the British system of property and privilege. Ask Mr.
Winans if he would promote the introduction of the British game-laws
into the United States, and he would tell you with a merry laugh that
the idea is ridiculous, and that these British follies are for home

The example of France must not mislead us. There the institutions,
an objector may say, are republican, and yet the division and hatred
between rich and poor is intense. True; but in France, though
the institutions may be republican, the ideas and morals are not
republican. In America not only are the institutions republican, but
the ideas and morals are prevailingly republican also. They are those
of a plain, decent middle class. The ideal of those who are the public
instructors of the people is the ideal of such a class. In France
the ideal of the mass of popular journalists and popular writers of
fiction, who are now practically the public instructors there, is, if
you could see their hearts, a Pompadour or du Barry _régime_, with
themselves for the part of Faublas. With this ideal prevailing, this
vision of the objects for which wealth is desirable, the possessors of
wealth become hateful to the multitude which toils and endures, and
society is undermined. This is one of the many inconvenience which
the French have to suffer from that worship of the great goddess
Lubricity to which they are at present vowed. Wealth excites the most
savage enmity there, because it is conceived as a means for gratifying
appetites of the most selfish and vile kind. But in America Faublas is
no more the ideal than Coriolanus. Wealth is no more conceived as the
minister to the pleasures of a class of rakes, than as the minister to
the magnificence of a class of nobles. It is conceived as a thing which
almost any American may attain, and which almost every American will
use respectably. Its possession, therefore, does not inspire hatred,
and so I return to the thesis with which I started—America is not in
danger of revolution. The division between rich and poor is alleged to
us as a cause of revolution which presently, if not now, must operate
there, as elsewhere; and yet we see that this cause has not there, in
truth, the characters to which we are elsewhere accustomed.

A people homogeneous, a people which had to constitute itself in a
modern age, an epoch of expansion, and which has given to itself
institutions entirely fitted for such an age and epoch, and which suit
it perfectly—a people not in danger of war from without, not in danger
of revolution from within—such is the people of the United States. The
political and social problem, then, we must surely allow that they
solve successfully. There remains, I know, the human problem also;
the solution of that too has to be considered; but I shall come to
that hereafter. My point at present is, that politically and socially
the United States are a community living in a natural condition, and
conscious of living in a natural condition. And being in this healthy
case, and having this healthy consciousness, the community there uses
its understanding with the soundness of health; it in general sees its
political and social concerns straight, and sees them clear. So that
when Sir Henry Maine and M. Scherer tell us that democracy is “merely
a form of government,” we may observe to them that it is in the United
States a form of government in which the community feels itself in a
natural condition and at ease; in which, consequently, it sees things
straight and sees them clear.

More than half one’s interest in watching the English people of the
United States comes, of course, from the bearing of what one finds
there upon things at home, amongst us English people ourselves in these
islands. I have frankly recorded what struck me and came as most new
to me in the condition of the English race in the United States. I had
said beforehand, indeed, that I supposed the American Philistine was a
livelier sort of Philistine than ours, because he had not that pressure
of the Barbarians to stunt and distort him which befalls his English
brother here. But I did not foresee how far his superior liveliness and
naturalness of condition, in the absence of that pressure, would carry
the American Philistine. I still use my old name _Philistine_, because
it does in fact seem to me as yet to suit the bulk of the community
over there, as it suits the strong central body of the community here.
But in my mouth the name is hardly a reproach, so clearly do I see the
Philistine’s necessity, so willingly I own his merits, so much I find
of him in myself. The American Philistine, however, is certainly far
more different from his English brother than I had beforehand supposed.
And on that difference we English of the old country may with great
profit turn our regards for awhile, and I am now going to speak of it.

Surely if there is one thing more than another which all the world
is saying of our community at present, and of which the truth cannot
well be disputed, it is this: that we act like people who do not think
straight and see clear. I know that the Liberal newspapers used to
be fond of saying that what characterised our middle class was its
“clear, manly intelligence, penetrating through sophisms, ignoring
commonplaces, and giving to conventional illusions their true value.”
Many years ago I took alarm at seeing the _Daily News_, and the
_Morning Star_, like Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, thus making horns
of iron for the middle class and bidding it “Go up and prosper!” and my
first efforts as a writer on public matters were prompted by a desire
to utter, like Micaiah the son of Imlah, my protest against these
misleading assurances of the false prophets. And though often and often
smitten on the cheek, just as Micaiah was, still I persevered; and at
the Royal Institution I said how we seemed to flounder and to beat
the air, and at Liverpool I singled out as our chief want the want of
lucidity. But now everybody is really saying of us the same thing: that
we fumble because we cannot make up our mind, and that we cannot make
up our mind because we do not know what to be after. If our foreign
policy is not that of “the British Philistine, with his likes and
dislikes, his effusion and confusion, his hot and cold fits, his want
of dignity and of the steadfastness which comes from dignity, his want
of ideas and of the steadfastness which comes from ideas,” then all the
world at the present time is, it must be owned, very much mistaken.

Let us not, therefore, speak of foreign affairs; it is needless,
because the thing I wish to show is so manifest there to everybody.
But we will consider matters at home. Let us take the present state of
the House of Commons. Can anything be more confused, more unnatural?
That assembly has got into a condition utterly embarrassed, and seems
impotent to bring itself right. The members of the House themselves
may find entertainment in the personal incidents which such a state
of confusion is sure to bring forth abundantly, and excitement in the
opportunities thus often afforded for the display of Mr. Gladstone’s
wonderful powers. But to any judicious Englishman outside the House
the spectacle is simply an afflicting and humiliating one; the sense
aroused by it is not a sense of delight at Mr. Gladstone’s tireless
powers, it is rather a sense of disgust at their having to be so
exercised. Every day the House of Commons does not sit judicious
people feel relief, every day that it sits they are oppressed with
apprehension. Instead of being an edifying influence, as such an
assembly ought to be, the House of Commons is at present an influence
which does harm; it sets an example which rebukes and corrects none
of the nation’s faults, but rather encourages them. The best thing to
be done at present, perhaps, is to avert one’s eyes from the House
of Commons as much as possible; if one keeps on constantly watching
it welter in its baneful confusion, one is likely to fall into the
fulminating style of the wrathful Hebrew prophets, and to call it “an
astonishment, a hissing, and a curse.”

Well, then, our greatest institution, the House of Commons, we
cannot say is at present working, like the American institutions,
easily and successfully. Suppose we now pass to Ireland. I will not
ask if our institutions work easily and successfully in Ireland; to
ask such a question would be too bitter, too cruel a mockery. Those
hateful cases which have been tried in the Dublin Courts this last
year suggest the dark and ill-omened word which applies to the whole
state of Ireland—_anti-natural_. _Anti-natural_, _anti-nature_—that
is the word which rises irresistibly in my mind as I survey Ireland.
Everything is unnatural there—the proceedings of the English who
rule, the proceedings of the Irish who resist. But it is with the
working of our English institutions there that I am now concerned.
It is unnatural that Ireland should be governed by Lord Spencer and
Mr. Campbell Bannerman—as unnatural as for Scotland to be governed by
Lord Cranbrook and Mr. Healy. It is unnatural that Ireland should
be governed under a Crimes Act. But there is necessity, replies
the Government. Well, then, if there is such evil necessity, it is
unnatural that the Irish newspapers should be free to write as they
write and the Irish members to speak as they speak—free to inflame
and further exasperate a seditious people’s mind, and to promote the
continuance of the evil necessity. A necessity for the Crimes Act is
a necessity for absolute government. By our patchwork proceedings we
set up, indeed, a make-believe of Ireland’s being constitutionally
governed. But it is not constitutionally governed; nobody supposes it
to be constitutionally governed, except, perhaps, that born swallower
of all clap-trap, the British Philistine. The Irish themselves,
the all-important personages in this case, are not taken in; our
make-believe does not produce in them the very least gratitude, the
very least softening. At the same time it adds an hundred fold to the
difficulties of an absolute government.

The working of our institutions being thus awry, is the working of
our thoughts upon them more smooth and natural? I imagine to myself
an American, his own institutions and his habits of thought being
such as we have seen, listening to us as we talk politics and discuss
the strained state of things over here. “Certainly these men have
considerable difficulties,” he would say; “but they never look at them
straight, they do not think straight.” Who does not admire the fine
qualities of Lord Spencer?—and I, for my part, am quite ready to admit
that he may require for a given period not only the present Crimes
Act, but even yet more stringent powers of repression. _For a given
period_, yes!—but afterwards? Has Lord Spencer any clear vision of the
great, the profound changes still to be wrought before a stable and
prosperous society can arise in Ireland? Has he even any ideal for
the future there, beyond that of a time when he can go to visit Lord
Kenmare, or any other great landlord who is his friend, and find all
the tenants punctually paying their rents, prosperous and deferential,
and society in Ireland settling quietly down again upon the old basis?
And he might as well hope to see Strongbow come to life again! Which
of us does not esteem and like Mr. Trevelyan, and rejoice in the high
promise of his career? And how all his friends applauded when he turned
upon the exasperating and insulting Irish members, and told them that
he was “an English gentleman”! Yet, if one thinks of it, Mr. Trevelyan
was thus telling the Irish members simply that he was just that
which Ireland does not want, and which can do her no good. England,
to be sure, has given Ireland plenty of her worst, but she has also
given her not scantily of her best. Ireland has had no insufficient
supply of the English gentleman, with his honesty, personal courage,
high bearing, good intentions, and limited vision; what she wants is
statesmen with just the qualities which the typical English gentleman
has not—flexibility, openness of mind, a free and large view of things.

Everywhere we shall find in our thinking a sort of warp inclining it
aside of the real mark, and thus depriving it of value. The common run
of peers who write to the _Times_ about reform of the House of Lords
one would not much expect, perhaps, to “understand the signs of this
time.” But even the Duke of Argyll, delivering his mind about the
land-question in Scotland, is like one seeing, thinking, and speaking
in some other planet than ours. A man of even Mr. John Morley’s gifts
is provoked with the House of Lords, and straightway he declares
himself against the existence of a Second Chamber at all; although—if
there be such a thing as demonstration in politics—the working of the
American Senate demonstrates a well-composed Second Chamber to be the
very need and safeguard of a modern democracy. What a singular twist,
again, in a man of Mr. Frederic Harrison’s intellectual power, not,
perhaps, to have in the exuberance of youthful energy weighted himself
for the race of life by taking up a grotesque old French pedant upon
his shoulders, but to have insisted, in middle age, in taking up the
Protestant Dissenters too; and now, when he is becoming elderly, it
seems as if nothing would serve him but he must add the Peace Society
to his load! How perverse, yet again, in Mr. Herbert Spencer, at the
very moment when past neglects and present needs are driving men
to co-operation, to making the community act for the public good in
its collective and corporate character of _the State_, how perverse
to seize this occasion for promulgating the extremest doctrine of
individualism; and not only to drag this dead horse along the public
road himself, but to induce Mr. Auberon Herbert to devote his days to
flogging it!

We think thus unaccountably because we are living in an unnatural and
strained state. We are like people whose vision is deranged by their
looking through a turbid and distorting atmosphere, or whose movements
are warped by the cramping of some unnatural constraint. Let us just
ask ourselves, looking at the thing as people simply desirous of
finding the truth, how men who saw and thought straight would proceed,
how an American, for instance—whose seeing and thinking has, I have
said, if not in all matters, yet commonly in political and social
concerns, this quality of straightness—how an American would proceed
in the three confusions which I have given as instances of the many
confusions now embarrassing us: the confusion of our foreign affairs,
the confusion of the House of Commons, the confusion of Ireland. And
then, when we have discovered the kind of proceeding natural in these
cases, let us ask ourselves, with the same sincerity, what is the cause
of that warp of mind hindering most of us from seeing straight in them,
and also where is our remedy.

The Angra Pequeña business has lately called forth from all sides many
and harsh animadversions upon Lord Granville, who is charged with the
direction of our foreign affairs. I shall not swell the chorus of
complainers. Nothing has happened but what was to be expected. Long ago
I remarked that it is not Lord Granville himself who determines our
foreign policy and shapes the declarations of Government concerning it,
but a power behind Lord Granville. He and his colleagues would call it
the power of public opinion. It is really the opinion of that great
ruling class amongst us on which Liberal Governments have hitherto had
to depend for support—the Philistines or middle class. It is not,
I repeat, with Lord Granville in his natural state and force that a
foreign Government has to deal; it is with Lord Granville waiting
in devout expectation to see how the cat will jump—and that cat the
British Philistine! When Prince Bismarck deals with Lord Granville,
he finds that he is not dealing mind to mind with an intelligent
equal, but that he is dealing with a tumult of likes and dislikes,
hopes and fears, stock-jobbing intrigues, missionary interests,
quidnuncs, newspapers—dealing, in short, with _ignorance_ behind his
intelligent equal. Yet ignorant as our Philistine middle class may be,
its volitions on foreign affairs would have more intelligibility and
consistency if uttered through a spokesman of their own class. Coming
through a nobleman like Lord Granville, who has neither the thoughts,
habits, nor ideals of the middle class, and yet wishes to act as
proctor for it, they have every disadvantage. He cannot even do justice
to the Philistine mind, such as it is, for which he is spokesman;
he apprehends it uncertainly and expounds it ineffectively. And so
with the house and lineage of Murdstone thundering at him (and these,
again, through Lord Derby as their interpreter) from the Cape, and the
inexorable Prince Bismarck thundering at him from Berlin, the thing
naturally ends by Lord Granville at last wringing his adroit hands and
ejaculating disconsolately: “It is a misunderstanding altogether!” Even
yet more to be pitied, perhaps, was the hard case of Lord Kimberley
after the Majuba Hill disaster. Who can ever forget him, poor man,
studying the faces of the representatives of the dissenting interest
and exclaiming: “A sudden thought strikes me! May we not be incurring
the sin of blood-guiltiness?” To this has come the tradition of Lord
Somers, the Whig oligarchy of 1688, and all Lord Macaulay’s Pantheon.

I said that a source of strength to America, in political and
social concerns, was the homogeneous character of American society.
An American statesman speaks with more effect the mind of his
fellow-citizens from his being in sympathy with it, understanding
and sharing it. Certainly one must admit that if, in our country of
classes, the Philistine middle class is really the inspirer of our
foreign policy, that policy would at least be expounded more forcibly
if it had a Philistine for its spokesman. Yet I think the true moral
to be drawn is rather, perhaps, this: that our foreign policy would be
improved if our whole society were homogeneous.

As to the confusion in the House of Commons, what, apart from defective
rules of procedure, are its causes? First and foremost, no doubt, the
temper and action of the Irish members. But putting this cause of
confusion out of view for a moment, every one can see that the House
of Commons is far too large, and that it undertakes a quantity of
business which belongs more properly to local assemblies. The confusion
from these causes is one which is constantly increasing, because, as
the country becomes fuller and more awakened, business multiplies, and
more and more members of the House are inclined to take part in it. Is
not the cure for this found in a course like that followed in America,
in having a much less numerous House of Commons, and in making over a
large part of its business to local assemblies, elected, as the House
of Commons itself will henceforth be elected, by household suffrage?
I have often said that we seem to me to need at present, in England,
three things in especial: more equality, education for the middle
classes, and a thorough municipal system. A system of local assemblies
is but the natural complement of a thorough municipal system. Wholes
neither too large nor too small, not necessarily of equal population
by any means, but with characters rendering them in themselves fairly
homogeneous and coherent, are the fit units for choosing these
local assemblies. Such units occur immediately to one’s mind in the
provinces of Ireland, the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, Wales
north and south, groups of English counties such as present themselves
in the circuits of the judges or under the names of East Anglia or
the Midlands. No one will suppose me guilty of the pedantry of here
laying out definitive districts; I do but indicate such units as may
enable the reader to conceive the kind of basis required for the local
assemblies of which I am speaking. The business of these districts
would be more advantageously done in assemblies of the kind; they
would form a useful school for the increasing number of aspirants to
public life, and the House of Commons would be relieved.

The strain in Ireland would be relieved too, and by natural and safe
means. Irishmen are to be found, who, in desperation at the present
state of their country, cry out for making Ireland independent and
separate, with a national Parliament in Dublin, with her own foreign
office and diplomacy, her own army and navy, her own tariff, coinage
and currency. This is manifestly impracticable. But here again let
us look at what is done by people who in politics think straight
and see clear; let us observe what is done in the United States.
The Government at Washington reserves matters of imperial concern,
matters such as those just enumerated, which cannot be relinquished
without relinquishing the unity of the empire. Neither does it allow
one great South to be constituted, or one great West, with a Southern
Parliament, or a Western. Provinces that are too large are broken up,
as Virginia has been broken up. But the several States are nevertheless
real and important wholes, each with its own legislature; and to each
the control, within its own borders, of all except imperial concerns
is freely committed. The United States Government intervenes only to
keep order in the last resort. Let us suppose a similar plan applied
in Ireland. There are four provinces there, forming four natural
wholes—or perhaps (if it should seem expedient to put Munster and
Connaught together) three. The Parliament of the empire would still be
in London, and Ireland would send members to it. But at the same time
each Irish province would have its own legislature, and the control of
its own real affairs. The British landlord would no longer determine
the dealings with land in an Irish province, nor the British Protestant
the dealings with church and education. Apart from imperial concerns,
or from disorder such as to render military intervention necessary, the
government in London would leave Ireland to manage itself. Lord Spencer
and Mr. Campbell Bannerman would come back to England. Dublin Castle
would be the State House of Leinster. Land-questions, game-laws,
police, church, education, would be regulated by the people and
legislature of Leinster for Leinster, of Ulster for Ulster, of Munster
and Connaught for Munster and Connaught. The same with the like matters
in England and Scotland. The local legislatures would regulate them.

But there is more. Everybody who watches the working of our
institutions perceives what strain and friction is caused in it at
present, by our having a Second Chamber composed almost entirely of
great landowners, and representing the feelings and interests of the
class of landowners almost exclusively. No one, certainly, under the
condition of a modern age and our actual life, would ever think of
devising such a Chamber. But we will allow ourselves to do more than
merely state this truism, we will allow ourselves to ask what sort
of Second Chamber people who thought straight and saw clear would,
under the conditions of a modern age and of our actual life, naturally
make. And we find, from the experience of the United States, that such
provincial legislatures as we have just now seen to be the natural
remedy for the confusion in the House of Commons, the natural remedy
for the confusion in Ireland, have the further great merit besides
of giving us the best basis possible for a modern Second Chamber.
The United States Senate is perhaps, of all the institutions of that
country, the most happily devised, the most successful in its working.
The legislature of each State of the Union elects two senators to the
Second Chamber of the national Congress at Washington. The senators
are the Lords—if we like to keep, as it is surely best to keep, for
designating the members of the Second Chamber, the title to which
we have been for so many ages habituated. Each of the provincial
legislatures of Great Britain and Ireland would elect members to the
House of Lords. The colonial legislatures also would elect members to
it; and thus we should be complying in the most simple and yet the most
signal way possible with the present desire of both this country and
the colonies for a closer union together, for some representation of
the colonies in the Imperial Parliament. Probably it would be found
expedient to transfer to the Second Chamber the representatives of the
Universities. But no scheme for a Second Chamber will at the present
day be found solid unless it stands on a genuine basis of election
and representation. All schemes for forming a Second Chamber through
nomination, whether by the Crown or by any other voice, of picked
noblemen, great officials, leading merchants and bankers, eminent men
of letters and science, are fantastic. Probably they would not give
us by any means a good Second Chamber. But certainly they would not
satisfy the country or possess its confidence, and therefore they would
be found futile and unworkable.

So we discover what would naturally appear the desirable way out of
some of our worst confusions to anybody who saw clear and thought
straight. But there is little likelihood, probably, of any such way
being soon perceived and followed by our community here. And why is
this? Because, as a community, we have so little lucidity, we so little
see clear and think straight. And why, again, is this? Because our
community is so little homogeneous. The lower class has yet to show
what it will do in politics. Rising politicians are already beginning
to flatter it with servile assiduity, but their praise is as yet
premature, the lower class is too little known. The upper class and the
middle class we know. They have each their own supposed interests, and
these are very different from the true interests of the community. Our
very classes make us dim-seeing. In a modern time, we are living with a
system of classes so intense, a society of such unnatural complication,
that the whole action of our minds is hampered and falsened by it. I
return to my old thesis: inequality is our bane. The great impediments
in our way of progress are aristocracy and Protestant dissent. People
think this is an epigram; alas, it is much rather a truism!

An aristocratical society like ours is often said to be the society
from which artists and men of letters have most to gain. But an
institution is to be judged, not by what one can oneself gain from it,
but by the ideal which it sets up. And aristocracy—if I may once more
repeat words which, however often repeated, have still a value from
their truth—aristocracy now sets up in our country a false ideal, which
materialises our upper class, vulgarises our middle class, brutalises
our lower class. It misleads the young, makes the worldly more worldly,
the limited more limited, the stationary more stationary. Even to the
imaginative, whom Lord John Manners thinks its sure friend, it is more
a hindrance than a help. Johnson says well: “Whatever makes the past,
the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us
in the dignity of thinking beings.” But what is a Duke of Norfolk or
an Earl Warwick, dressed in broadcloth and tweed, and going about his
business or pleasure in hansom cabs and railways like the rest of us?
Imagination herself would entreat him to take himself out of the way,
and to leave us to the Norfolks and Warwicks of history.

I say this without a particle of hatred, and with esteem, admiration,
and affection for many individuals in the aristocratical class. But
the action of time and circumstance is fatal. If one asks oneself what
is really to be desired, what is expedient, one would go far beyond
the substitution of an elected Second Chamber for the present House of
Lords. All confiscation is to be reprobated, all deprivation (except in
bad cases of abuse) of what is actually possessed. But one would wish,
if one set about wishing, for the extinction of title after the death
of the holder, and for the dispersion of property by a stringent law of
bequest. Our society should be homogeneous, and only in this way can it
become so.

But aristocracy is in little danger. “I suppose, sir,” a dissenting
minister said to me the other day, “you found, when you were in
America, that they envied us there our great aristocracy.” It was his
sincere belief that they did, and such probably is the sincere belief
of our middle class in general; or at any rate, that if the Americans
do not envy us this possession, they ought to. And my friend, one of
the great Liberal party which has now, I suppose, pretty nearly run
down its deceased wife’s sister, poor thing, has his hand and heart
full, so far as politics are concerned, of the question of church
disestablishment. He is eager to set to work at a change which, even
if it were desirable (and I think it is not,) is yet off the line of
those reforms which are really pressing.

Mr. Lyulph Stanley, Professor Stuart, and Lord Richard Grosvenor are
waiting ready to help him, and perhaps Mr. Chamberlain himself will
lead the attack. I admire Mr. Chamberlain as a politician because he
has the courage—and it is a wise courage—to state large the reforms we
need, instead of minimising them. But like Saul before his conversion,
he breathes out threatenings and slaughter against the Church, and
is likely, perhaps, to lead an assault upon her. He is a formidable
assailant, yet I suspect he might break his finger-nails on her walls.
If the Church has the majority for her, she will of course stand. But
in any case this institution, with all its faults, has that merit which
makes the great strength of institutions—it offers an ideal which
is noble and attaching. Equality is its profession, if not always
its practice. It inspires wide and deep affection, and possesses,
therefore, immense strength. Probably the Establishment will not
stand in Wales, probably it will not stand in Scotland. In Wales it
ought not, I think, to stand. In Scotland I should regret its fall;
but Presbyterian churches are born to separatism, as the sparks fly
upward. At any rate, it is through the vote of local legislatures that
disestablishment is likely to come, as a measure required in certain
provinces, and not as a general measure for the whole country. In other
words, the endeavor for disestablishment ought to be postponed to the
endeavor for far more important reforms, not to precede it. Yet I doubt
whether Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Lyulph Stanley will listen to me when I
plead thus with them; there is so little lucidity in England, and they
will say I am priest-ridden.

One man there is, whom above all others I would fain have seen in
Parliament during the last ten years, and beheld established in
influence there at this juncture—Mr. Goldwin Smith. I do not say that
he was not too embittered against the Church; in my opinion he was.
But with singular lucidity and penetration he saw what great reforms
were needed in other directions, and the order of relative importance
in which reforms stood. Such were his character, style, and faculties,
that alone perhaps among men of his insight he was capable of getting
his ideas weighed and entertained by men in power; while amid all favor
and under all temptations he was certain to have still remained true to
his insight, “unshaken, unseduced, unterrified.” I think of him as a
real power for good in Parliament at this time, had he by now become,
as he might have become, one of the leaders there. His absence from the
scene, his retirement in Canada, is a loss to his friends, but a still
greater loss to his country.

Hardly inferior in influence to Parliament itself is journalism. I do
not conceive of Mr. John Morley as made for filling that position in
Parliament which Mr. Goldwin Smith would, I think, have filled. If he
controls, as Protesilaos in the poem advises, hysterical passion (the
besetting danger of men of letters on the platform and in Parliament)
and remembers to approve “the depth and not the tumult of the soul,” he
will be powerful in Parliament; he will rise, he will come into office;
but he will not do for us in Parliament, I think, what Mr. Goldwin
Smith would have done. He is too much of a partisan. In journalism, on
the other hand, he was as unique a figure as Mr. Goldwin Smith would,
I imagine, have been in Parliament. As a journalist, Mr. John Morley
showed a mind which seized and understood the signs of the times; he
had all the ideas of a man of the best insight, and alone, perhaps,
among men of his insight, he had the skill for making these ideas pass
into journalism. But Mr. John Morley has now left journalism. There is
plenty of talent in Parliament, plenty of talent in journalism, but
no one in either to expound “the signs of this time” as these two men
might have expounded them. The signs of the time, political and social,
are left, I regret to say, to bring themselves as they best can to the
notice of the public. Yet how ineffective an organ is literature for
conveying them compared with Parliament and journalism!

Conveyed somehow, however, they certainly should be, and in this
disquisition I have tried to deal with them. But the political and
social problem, as the thinkers call it, must not so occupy us as to
make us forget the human problem. The problems are connected together,
but they are not identical. Our political and social confusions I
admit; what Parliament is at this moment, I see and deplore. Yet
nowhere but in England even now, not in France, not in Germany, not in
America, could there be found public men of that quality—so capable
of fair dealing, of trusting one another, keeping their word to one
another—as to make possible such a settlement of the Franchise and
Seat Bills as that which we have lately seen. Plato says with most
profound truth: “The man who would think to good purpose must be able
to take many things into his view together.” How homogeneous American
society is, I have done my best to declare; how smoothly and naturally
the institutions of the United States work, how clearly, in some most
important respects, the Americans see, how straight they think. Yet Sir
Lepel Griffin says that there is no country calling itself civilised
where one would not rather live than in America, except Russia.
In politics I do not much trust Sir Lepel Griffin. I hope that he
administers in India some district where a profound insight into the
being and working of institutions is not requisite. But, I suppose, of
the tastes of himself and of that large class of Englishmen whom Mr.
Charles Sumner has taught us to call the class of gentlemen, he is no
untrustworthy reporter. And an Englishman of this class would rather
live in France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland,
than in the United States, in spite of our community of race and speech
with them! This means that, in the opinion of men of that class,
the human problem at least is not well solved in the United States,
whatever the political and social problem may be. And to the human
problem in the United States we ought certainly to turn our attention,
especially when we find taken such an objection as this; and some day,
though not now, we will do so, and try to see what the objection comes
to. I have given hostages to the United States, I am bound to them by
the memory of great, untiring, and most attaching kindness. I should
not like to have to own them to be of all countries calling themselves
civilised, except Russia, the country where one would least like to
live.—_Nineteenth Century._



The opening of a new year again assembles us together to look back on
the work of the year that is gone, to look faithfully into our present
state, and to take forecast of all that yet awaits us in the visible
life on earth, under the inspiring sense of the Great Power which makes
us what we are, and who will be as great when we are not.

In the light of this duty to Humanity as a whole, how feeble is our
work, how poor the result! And yet, looking back on the year that
is just departed, we need not be down-hearted. Surely and firmly we
advance. Not as the spiritualist movements advance, by leaps and
bounds, as the tares spring up, as the stubble blazes forth, but by
conviction, with system, with slow consolidation of belief resting on
proof and tested by experience. If at the beginning of last year we
could point to the formation of a new centre in North London, this year
we can point to its maintenance with steady vigor, and to the opening
of a more important new centre in the city of Manchester. Year by year
sees the addition to our cause of a group in the great towns of the
kingdom. Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, already have
their weekly meetings and their organised societies.

I make no great store of all this. The religious confidence in Humanity
will not come about, I think, like the belief in the Gospel, or in
the Church, or in any of the countless Protestant persuasions, by
the formation of a small sect of believers, gradually inducing men
to join some exclusive congregation. The trust in Humanity is an
ineradicable part of modern civilisation: nay, it is the very motive
power and saving quality of modern civilisation, and that even where
it is encumbered by a conscious belief in God and Christ, in Gospel
and salvation, or where it is disguised by an atheistical rejection
of all religious reverence whatever. Positivists are not a sect.
Positivism is not merely a new mode of worship. It is of small moment
to us how numerous are the congregations who meet to-day to acknowledge
Humanity in words. The best men and women of all creeds and all races
acknowledge Humanity in their lives. For the full realisation of our
hopes we must look to the improvement of civilisation; not to the
extension of a sect. Let us shun all sects and everything belonging to

I shall say but little, therefore, of the growth of Positivist
congregations. Where they are perfectly spontaneous and natural; where
they are doing a real work in education; where they give solid comfort
and support to the lives of those who form them, they are useful and
living things, giving hope and sign of something better. But I see
evil in them if they are artificial and premature; if they spring out
of the incurable tendency of our age toward sects; if they are mere
imitations of Christian congregations; and, above all, if their members
look upon them as adequate types of a regenerated society. The religion
of Humanity, by its nature, is incapable of being narrowed down to
the limits of a few hundreds of scattered believers and to casual
gatherings of men and women divided in life and activity. And that for
the same reason that civilisation or patriotism could not possibly be
the privilege of a few scattered individuals. Where two or three are
gathered together, there the Gospel may be duly presented, and God and
Christ adequately worshipped. It is not so with Humanity. The service
of Humanity needs Humanity. The only Church of Humanity is a healthy
and cultured human society. It is the very business of Humanity to free
us from all individualist religion, from all self-contained worship
of the isolated believer. And though the idea of Humanity is able to
strengthen the individual soul as profoundly as the idea of Christ,
yet the idea of Humanity, the service of Humanity, the honoring of
Humanity, are only fully realised in the living organism of a humane
society of men.

For this reason I look on a Positivist community rather as a germ of
what is to come, one which may easily degenerate into a hindrance to
true life in Humanity. The utmost that we can do now as an isolated
knot of scattered believers is so immeasurably short of what may
be done by a united nation, familiar from generation to generation
with the sense of duty to Humanity, saturated from infancy with the
consciousness of Humanity, and with all the resources of an organised
public opinion, and a disciplined body of teachers, poets, and artists,
to secure its convictions and express its emotions, that I am always
dreading lest our puny attempts in the movement be stereotyped as
adequate. Our English, Protestant habits are continually prompting us
to look for salvation to sects, societies, self-sufficing congregations
of zealous, but possibly self-righteous reformers. The egotistic spirit
of the Gospel is constantly inclining us to look for a healthier
religious ideal to some new religious exercises, to be performed in
secret by the individual believer, in the silence of his chamber or in
some little congregation of fellow-believers. Positivism comes, not
to add another to these congregations, but to free us from the temper
of mind which creates them. It comes to show us that religion is not
to be found within any four walls, or in the secret yearnings of any
heart, but in the right systematic development of an entire human
society. Until there is a profound diffusion of the spirit of Humanity
throughout the mass of some entire human society, some definite section
of modern civilisation, there can be no religion of Humanity in any
adequate degree; there can be no full worship of Humanity; there can be
no true Positivist life till there be an organic Positivist community
to live such a life. Let us beware how we imagine, that where two or
three are gathered together there is a Positivist Church. There may be
a synagogue of Positivist pharisees, it may be; but the sense of our
vast human fellowship—which lies at the root of Positivist morality;
the reality of Positivist religion, which means a high and humane life
in the world; the glory of Positivist worship, which means the noblest
expression of human feeling in art—all these things are _not_ possible
in any exclusive and meagre synagogue whatever, and are very much
retarded by the premature formation of synagogues.

I look, as I say always, to the leavening of opinion generally; to the
attitude of mind with which the world around us confronts Positivism
and understands, or feels interest in Positivism. And here, and not in
the formation of new congregations, I find the grounds for unbounded
hope. Within a very few years, and notably within the year just ended,
there has been a striking change of tone in the way in which the
thoughtful public looks at Positivism. It has entirely passed out of
the stage of silence and contempt. It occupies a place in the public
interest, not equal yet to its importance in the future; but far in
excess, I fear, of anything which its living exponents can justify
in the present. The thoughtful public and the religious spirits
acknowledge in it a genuine religious force. Candid Christians see that
it has much which calls out their sympathy. But apart from that, the
period of misunderstanding and of ridicule is passed for Positivism for
ever. Serious people are beginning now to say that there is nothing
in Positivism so extravagant, nothing so mischievous as they used to
think. Many of them are beginning to see that it bears witness to
valuable truths which have been hitherto neglected. They are coming to
feel that in certain central problems of the modern world, such as the
possibility of preserving the religious sentiment, in defending the
bases of spiritual and temporal authority, in explaining the science
of history, in the institution of property, in the future relations
of men and women, employers and employed, government and people,
teachers and learners, in all of these, Positivism holds up a ray of
steady light in the chaos of opinion. They are asking themselves, the
truly conservative and truly religious natures, if, after all, society
may not be destined to be regenerated in some such ideal lines as
Positivism shadows forth:—

                        “Via prima salutis,
    Quod minimè reris, Graia pandetur ab urbe.”

Here, then, is the great gain of the past year. It has for some time
been felt that we have hold of a profound religious truth; that
Positivism, as Mr. Mill says, does realise the essential conditions of
religion. But we have now made it clear that we have hold of a profound
philosophical truth as well; and a living and prolific social truth.
The cool, instructed, practical intellect is now prepared to admit that
it is quite a reasonable hope to look for the cultivation of a purely
human duty towards our fellow beings and our race collectively as a
solid basis of moral and practical life—nay, further, that so far as
it goes, and without excluding other bases of life, this is a sound,
and indeed, a very common, spring to right action. It is an immense
step gained that the cool, instructed, practical intellect of our day
goes with us up to this point. It is a minor matter, that in conceding
so much, this same intelligent man-of-the-world is ready to say, “You
must throw over, however, all the mummery and priestcraft with which
Positivism began its career.” Positivism has no mummery or priestcraft
to throw over. The whole idea of such things arose out of labored
epigrams manufactured about the utopias of Comte when exaggerated into
a formalism by some of his more excitable followers.

In the history of any great truth we generally find three stages of
public opinion regarding it. The first, of unthinking hostility; the
second, of minimising its novelty; the third, of adopting it as an
obvious truism. Men say first, “Nothing more grotesque and mischievous
was ever propounded!” Then they say, “Now that it has entirely changed
its front, there is nothing to be afraid of, and not much that is new!”
And in the third stage they say, “We have held this all our lives, and
it is a mere commonplace of modern thought.” Positivism has now passed
out of the first stage. Men have ceased to think of it as grotesque or
mischievous. They have now passed into the second stage, and say, “Now
that it is showing itself as mere common-sense, it is little more than
a re-statement of what reasonable men have long thought, and what good
men have long aimed at.” Quite so, only there has been no change of
front, no abandoning of anything, and no modification of any essential
principle. We have only made it clear that the original prejudices we
had to meet were founded in haste, misconception, and mere caricature.
We have shown that Positivism is just as truly scientific as it is
religious; that it has as much aversion to priestcraft, ritualism,
and ceremony, as any Protestant sectary: and as deep an aversion to
sects as the Pope of Rome or the President of the Royal Society.
Positivism itself is as loyal to every genuine result of modern science
as the Royal Society itself. The idea that any reasonable Positivist
undervalues the real triumphs of science, or could dream of minimising
any solid conclusion of science, or of limiting the progress of
science, or would pit any unproven assertion of any man, be he Comte,
or an entire Ecumenical Council of Comtists, so to speak, against
any single proven conclusion of human research, this, I say, is too
laughable to be seriously imputed to any Positivist.

If Auguste Comte had ever used language which could fairly be so
understood, I will not stop to inquire. I do not believe he has. But
if I were shown fifty such passages, they would not weigh with me a
grain against the entire basis and genius of Positivism itself; which
is that human life shall henceforward be based on a footing of solid
demonstration alone. If enthusiastic Positivists, more Comtist than
Comte, ever gave countenance to such an extravagance, I can only say
that they no more represent Positivism than General Booth’s brass
band represents Christianity. If words of Auguste Comte have been
understood to mean that the religion of Humanity can be summed up in
the repetition of phrases, or can be summed up in anything less than
a moral and scientific education of man’s complex nature, I can only
treat it as a caricature unworthy of notice. This hall is the centre in
this country where the Positivist scheme is presented in its entirety,
under the immediate direction of Comte’s successor. And speaking in
his name and in the name of our English committee, I claim it as an
essential purpose of our existence as an organised body, to promote
a sound scientific education, so as to abolish the barrier which now
separates school and Church; to cultivate individual training in all
true knowledge, and the assertion of individual energy of character
and brain; to promote independence quite as much as association;
personal responsibility, quite as much as social discipline; and free
public opinion, in all things spiritual and material alike, quite as
much as organised guidance by trained leaders. Whatever makes light
of these, whatever is indifferent to scientific education, whatever
tends to blind and slavish surrender of the judgment and the will,
whatever clings to mysticism, formalism, and priestcraft, such belongs
not to Positivism, to Auguste Comte, or to humanity rightly regarded
and honored. The first condition of the religion of Humanity is human
nature and common sense.

Whilst Positivism has been making good its ground within the area of
scientific philosophy, scientific metaphysics has been exhibiting the
signal weakness of its position on the side of religion. To those who
have once entered into the scientific world of belief in positive
knowledge there is no choice between a belief in nothing at all and
a belief in the future of human civilisation, between Agnosticism
and Humanity. Agnosticism is therefore for the present the rival and
antagonist of Positivism outside the orthodox fold. I say for the
present, because by the nature of the case Agnosticism is a mere raft
or jurymast for shipwrecked believers, a halting-place, and temporary
passage from one belief to another belief. The idea that the deepest
issues of life and of thought can be permanently referred to any
negation; that cultivated beings can feel proud of summing up their
religious belief in the formula, that they “know nothing” this is too
absurd to endure. Agnosticism is a milder form of the Voltairean hatred
of religion that was current in the last century; but it is quite as
passing a phase. For the moment, it is the fashion of the emancipated
Christian to save all trouble by professing himself an Agnostic. But he
is more or less ashamed of it. He knows it is a subterfuge. It is no
real answer. It is only an excuse for refusing to answer a troublesome
question. The Agnostic knows that he will have to give a better
answer some day; he finds earnest men clamoring for an answer. He is
getting uneasy that they will not take “Don’t know” for an answer. He
is himself too full still of theology and metaphysics to follow our
practice, which is to leave the theological conundrum alone, and to
proclaim _regard for the human race as an adequate solution of the
human problem_. And in the meantime he staves off questions by making
his own ignorance—his own ignorance!—the foundation of a creed.

We have just seen the failure of one, of these attempts. The void
caused by the silent crumbling of all the spiritual creeds has to be
filled in some way. The indomitable passion of mankind towards an
object to revere and work for, has to be met. And the latest device has
been, as we have seen, to erect the “Unknowable” itself into the sole
reality, and to assure us that an indescribable heap of abstract terms
is the true foundation of life. So that, after all its protestations
against any superstitious belief, Agnosticism floats back into a
cloud of contradictions and negations as unthinkable as those of the
Athanasian creed, and which are merely our old theological attributes
again, dressed up in the language of Esoteric Buddhism.


I turn now, as is our custom, to review the work of the year under
its three-fold heads of Cult, Education, Politics. You will see that
I avoid the word Worship, because worship is so often misunderstood;
and because it wholly fails to convey the meaning of the Positivist
_cultus_, or stimulus of the noblest emotions of man. Worship is in
no way a translation of Comte’s word _culte_. In French we can talk
of the _culte des mères_, or the _culte des morts_, or the _culte
des enfants_, or the _culte de l’Art_. We cannot in English talk of
_worshipping_ our mothers, or _worshipping_ our dead friends, or
_worshipping_ children, or _worshipping_ art; or, if we use the words,
we do not mean the same thing. Comte has suffered deeply by being
crudely translated into English phrases, by people who did not see
that the same phrase in English means something different. Now his
_culte de l’Humanité_ does not mean what Englishmen understand by the
worship of Humanity: _i.e._, they are apt to fancy, kneeling down
and praying to Humanity, or singing a hymn to Humanity. By _culte de
l’Humanité_ is meant, deepening our sense of gratitude and regard for
the human race and its living or dead organs. And everything which does
this is _cult_, though it may not be what we call in English worship.
So _service_ is a word I avoid; because the service of Humanity
consists in the thousand ways in which we fulfil our social duties,
and not in uttering exclamations which may or may not lead to anything
in conduct, and which we have no reason to suppose are heard by any
one, or affect any one outside the room where they are uttered. The
commemoration of a great man such as William the Silent or Corneille
is _cult_, though we do not worship him; the solemn delight in a piece
of music in such a spirit is _cult_, though it is not _worship_, or
_service_, in the modern English sense of these words. The ceremony of
interring a dead friend, or naming a child is _cult_, though we do not
worship our dead friend, nor do we worship the baby when brought for
presentation. Cult, as we understand it, is a process that concerns
the person or persons who worship, not the being worshipped. Whatever
stimulates the sense of social duty and kindles the noblest emotions,
whether by a mere historical lecture, or a grand piece of music, or by
a solemn act, or by some expression of emotion—this is cult.

In the same way, I avoid the word _religion_, to signify any special
department or any one side of our Positivist life. Religion is not a
part of life, but a harmonious and true living of our lives; not the
mere expression of feeling, but the right convergence of feeling and
thought into pure action. Some of our people seem to use the word
“religion,” in the theological sense, to mean the formal expression of
a sentiment of devotion. This is a mere distortion of Comte’s language,
and essentially unworthy of the broad spirit of Positivism. The full
meaning of _culte_, as Comte employed it, is every act by which man
expresses and every means by which he kindles the sense of reverence,
duty, love, or resignation. In that sense, and in that sense only, do
I now employ _cult_, which is obviously a somewhat inadequate English

The past year opened with the commemoration of this day, in which,
though the words of praise and devotion that we uttered were few, we
sought to brace our spirits and clear our brains by pausing for an hour
in the midst of the whirl of life, to look forth on the vast range of
our social duties and the littleness of our individual performance. On
the 5th of September, the twenty-seventh anniversary of the death of
Auguste Comte, we met, as usual, to commemorate his life and work. The
discourse then given will be shortly published. At the friendly repast
and in the social meeting of that day we had the welcome presence of
several members of our Positivist body in Paris and also from the
northern cities of England. The hundredth year since the death of
Diderot, the two hundredth since that of Corneille, the three hundredth
since that of the great founder of the Netherlands, William of Orange,
called the Silent, were duly commemorated by a discourse on their life
and work. Such vague and unreal ideas are suggested by the phrase,
the _worship of humanity_, that it is useful to point out that this
is what we in this hall mean by such a notion: the strengthening our
sense of respect for the worthy men in the past by whom civilisation
has been built up. This is what we mean by the worship of humanity.
A mere historical lecture, if its aim and its effect be to kindle in
us enthusiastic regard for the noble men who have gone before us, and
by whose lives and deaths we are what we are,—this is the worship of
humanity, and not the utterance of invocations to an abstract idea.

On the 28th of last month we held a commemoration of the great
musician, Beethoven, in all respects like that which we had given
two years ago for Mozart. Our friend Professor Henry Holmes and his
admirable quartet again performed two of those immortal pieces, and our
friend, Mr. Vernon Lushington, again gave us one of those beautiful
discourses on the glorious art to which he and his have devoted so
much of their lives. These occasions, which are a real creation of
Positivism, I deeply enjoy. They are neither concert nor lecture, nor
service specially, but all three together, and much more. It is the one
mode in which at present the religion of the future can put forth its
yearnings for a sacred art worthy to compare with the highest types of
Christian art. We meet not to listen to a musical display—not to hear
the history of the musician’s life—not to commemorate his career by any
formal ceremony; but we mingle with our words of gratitude, and honor
and affection for the artist, the worthy rehearsing of his consummate
ideas in a spirit of devotion for him and the glorious company of whom
he is one of the most splendid chiefs.

Last night, as the year closed, we met as before to dwell on the past,
on the departing year that was being laid to rest in the incalculable
catacombs of time, and on the infinite myriads of human beings by whom
those catacombs are peopled; and with music and with voice we sought to
attune our spirits to the true meanings of the hour. The year has been
to many of us one of cruel anxieties, of sad memories and irreparable
loss. In Mr. Cutler we have lost a most sincere and valued brother.
As we stood round his open grave, there was but one feeling in our
gathered mourners—a sense of loss that could ill be borne, honor to
his gentle and upright career, sympathy with those whom he had left.
The occasion will long be remembered, perhaps, as the first on which
our body has ever been called on to take part in a purely Positivist
burial service. Did any one present feel that the religion of Humanity
is without its power to dignify, to consecrate, and to console in the
presence of death? I speak not for others, but for myself. And, for
my part, when I remember the pathetic chant of our friends at the
grave, the reality of their reverend sorrow, the consolatory sense of
resignation and hope with which we laid our brother in his peaceful
bed, I feel the conviction that in this supreme office, the great test
of religious power, the faith in Humanity will surpass the faith in the
fictions—in beauty, in pathos, in courage, and in consolation, even as
it so manifestly surpasses them in reality.

The hand of death has been heavy on us both abroad and at home. The
past year has carried off to their immortal life two of the original
disciples and friends of our master, Auguste Hadery and Fabien
Magnin. Both have been most amply honored in funeral sermons by M.
Laffitte. Fabien Magnin was one of those rare men who represent to the
present the type that we look for in the future. A workman (he was
an engine-pattern maker,) he chose to live and die a workman, proud
of his order, and confident in its destinies; all through his long
life without fortune, or luxury, or ambition; a highly-trained man of
science; a thoroughly trained politician, loyal unshakenly to his great
teacher and his successor; of all the men I have ever known the most
perfect type of the cultivated, incorruptible, simple, courageous man
of the people. With his personal influence over his fellow-workmen,
and from the ascendency of his intellect and character, he might
easily in France have forced his way into the foremost place. With his
scientific resources, and his faculty both for writing and speech, he
might easily have entered the literary or scientific class. With his
energy, prudence, and mechanical skill, he might easily have amassed
a fortune. The attractions of such careers never seemed to touch by a
ripple the serene surface of his austere purity. He chose to live and
die in the strictest simplicity—the type of an honest and educated
citizen, who served to make us feel all that the future has to promise
to the workman, when remaining a workman, devoted to his craft and to
his order, he shall be as highly educated as the best of us to-day; as
courteous and dignified as the most refined; as simple as the ideal
village pastor; as ardent a Republican as the Ferrys and Gambettas
whose names fill the journals.

We have this past year also carried out another series of
commemorations, long familiar to our friends in France, but which are
a real creation of Positivist belief. I mean those Pilgrimages or
religious visits to the scenes of the lives of our great men. This is
a real revival of a noble mediæval and Oriental practice, but wholly
without superstitious taint, and entirely in the current of modern
scientific thought. We go in a body to some spot where one of our
immortal countrymen lived or died, and there, full of the beauty of
the scene on which he used to gaze, and of the _genius loci_ by which
he was inspired, we listen to a simple discourse on his life and work.
In this way we visited the homes or the graves of Bacon, of Harvey, of
Milton, of Penn, of Cromwell, and of our William of Orange. What may
not the art of the future produce for us in this most fruitful mode,
when in place of the idle picnics and holidays of vacant sightseers,
in place of the formal celebration of some prayer-book saint, we shall
gather in a spirit of real religion and honor round the birthplace, the
home, it may be the grave, of some poet, thinker, or ruler; and amidst
all the inspiration of Nature and of the sacred memories of the soil,
shall fill our hearts with the joy in beauty and profound veneration of
the mighty Dead?


In our Sunday meetings, which have been regularly continued excepting
during the four summer months, we have continued our plan of dealing
alike with the religious, the social, and the intellectual sides of
the Positivist view of life and duty. The Housing of the Poor, Art,
Biology, Socialism, our social Duties, the Memory of the Dead, the
Positivist grounds of Morality, and our Practical Duties in Life,
formed the subject of one series. Since our re-opening in the autumn,
we have had courses on the Bible, on the religious value of the
modern poets, and on the true basis of social equality. Amongst the
features of special interest in these series of discourses is that
one course was given by a former Unitarian minister who, after a life
of successful preaching in the least dogmatic of all the Christian
Churches, has been slowly reduced to the conviction that the reality
of Humanity is a more substantial basis for religion to rest on than
the hypothesis of God, and that the great scheme of human morality is
a nobler Gospel to preach than the artificial ideal of a subjective
Christ. I would in particular note the series of admirable lectures
on the Bible, by Dr. Bridges, which combined the results of the
latest learning on this intricate mass of ancient writings with the
sympathetic and yet impartial judgment with which Positivists adopt
into their sacred literature the most famous and most familiar of
all the religious books of mankind. And again I would note that
beautiful series of discourses by Mr. Vernon Lushington on the great
religious poets of the modern world:—Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron,
Wordsworth and Shelley. When we have them side by side, we shall have
before us a new measure of the sound, sympathetic, and universal spirit
of Positivist belief. It is only those who are strangers to it and to
us who can wonder how we come to put the Bible and the poets in equal
places of honor as alike the great organs of true religious feeling.

The systematic teaching of science, which is an essential part of
our conception of Positivism, has been maintained in this hall with
unabated energy. In the beginning of the year Mr. Vernon Lushington
commenced and carried through (with what an effort of personal
self-devotion no one of us can duly measure) his class on the history
and the elements of Astronomy. This winter, Mr. Lock has opened a
similar class on the History and Elements of Mathematics. Positivism is
essentially a scheme for reforming education, and it is only through
a reformed education, universal to all classes alike, and concerned
with the heart as much as the intellect, that the religious meaning of
Humanity can ever be unfolded. The singing class, the expense of which
was again assumed by Mr. Lushington, was steadily and successfully
maintained during the first part of the year. We are still looking
forward to the formation of a choir. The social meetings which we
instituted last year have become a regular feature of our movement, and
greatly contribute to our closer union and our better understanding of
the social and sympathetic meaning of the faith we profess.

The publications of the year have been first and chiefly, _The
Testament and Letters of Auguste Comte_, a work long looked for, the
publication of which has been long delayed by various causes. In the
next place I would call attention to the new and popular edition of
_International Policy_, a work of combined essays which we put forward
in 1866, nearly twenty years ago. Our object in that work was to state
and apply to the leading international problems in turn the great
principles of social morality on which it is the mission of Positivism
to show that the politics of nations can only securely repose. In an
epoch which is still tending, we are daily assured, to the old passion
for national self-assertion, it is significant that the Positivist
school alone can resolutely maintain and fearlessly repeat its dictates
of morality and justice, whilst all the Churches, all the political
parties, and all the so-called organs of opinion, which are really the
creatures of parties and cliques, find various pretexts for abandoning
them altogether. How few are the political schools around us who could
venture to republish after twenty years, _their_ political programmes
of 1866, _their_ political doctrines and practical solutions of the
tangled international problems, and who could not find in 1885 a
principle which they had discarded, or a proposal which to-day they are
ashamed to have made twenty years ago.

Besides these books, the only separate publications of our body are
the affecting address of Mr. Ellis _On the due Commemoration of the
Dead_. The Positivist Society has met throughout the year for the
discussion of the social and political questions of the day. The most
public manifestation of its activity has been the part that it took
in the third centenary of the great hero of national independence,
William, Prince of Orange, called the Silent. The noble and weighty
address in which Mr. Beesly expressed to the Dutch Committee at Delft
the honor in which we held that immortal memory, has deeply touched, we
are told, those to whom it was addressed. And it is significant that
from this hall, dedicated to peace, to the Republic, to the people,
and to Humanity, there was sent forth the one voice from the entire
British race in honor to the great prince, the soldier, the diplomatist
the secret, subtle, and haughty chief, who, three hundred years ago,
created the Dutch nation. We have learned here to care little for a
purely insular patriotism. The great creators of nations are _our_
forefathers and _our_ countrymen. Protestant or Catholic are nothing
to us, so long as either prepared the way for a broader faith. In
our abhorrence of war we have learned to honor the chief who fought
desperately for the solid bases of peace. In our zeal for the people,
for public opinion, for simplicity of life, and for truthfulness and
openness in word as in conduct, we have not forgotten the _relative_
duty of those who in darker, fiercer, ruder times than ours used the
weapons of their age in the spirit of duty, and to the saving of those
precious elements where-out the future of a better Humanity shall be


Turning to the political field, I shall occupy but little of your time
with the special questions of the year. We are as a body entirely
dissevered from party politics. We seek to color political activity
with certain moral general principles, but we have no interest in party
politics as such. The idea that Positivists are, as a body, Radicals
or Revolutionaries is an idle invention; and I am the more entitled
to repudiate it, in that I have myself formally declined to enter on
a Parliamentary career, on the express ground that I prefer to judge
political questions without the trammels of any party obligation.
On the one hand we are Republicans on principle, in that we demand
a government in the interest of all and of no favored order, by the
highest available capacity, without reference to birth, or wealth, or
class. On the other hand, we are not Democrats, in that we acknowledge
no abstract right to govern in a numerical majority. Whatever is best
administered is best. We desire to see efficiency for the common
welfare, responsible power intrusted to the most capable hand, with
continuous responsibility to a real public opinion.

I am far from pretending that general principles of this kind entitle
us to pass a judgment on the complex questions of current politics,
or that all Positivists who recognize these principles are bound
to judge current politics in precisely the same way. There is in
Positivism a deep vein of true Conservatism; as there is also an
unquenchable yearning for a social revolution of a just and peaceful
kind. But no one of these tendencies impel us, I think, to march under
the banner either of Mr. Gladstone or Lord Salisbury. As Republicans
on principle, we desire the end of all hereditary institutions. As
believers in public opinion, we desire to see opinion represented
in the most complete way, and without class distinctions. As men
who favor efficiency and concentration in government, we support
whatever may promise to relieve us of the scandalous deadlock to which
Parliamentary government has long been reduced. It may be permitted to
those who are wholly detached from party interests to express a lively
satisfaction that the long electoral struggle is happily got out of
the way, and that a great stride has been taken towards a government
at once energetic and popular, without regarding the hobbies about the
representation of women and the representation of inorganic minorities.

It is on a far wider field that our great political interests are
absorbed. There is everywhere a revival of the spirit of national
aggrandisement and imperial ambition. Under the now avowed lead of
the great German dictator, the nations of Europe are running a race
to extend their borders by conquest and annexation amongst the weak
and uncivilised. There is to-day a scramble for Africa, as there
was formerly a scramble for Asia; and the scramble in Asia, or in
Polynesia, is only less urgent for the moment, in that the rivalry is
just now keenest in Africa. But in Asia, in Africa, in Polynesia, the
strong nations of Europe are struggling to found Empires by violence,
fraud, or aggression. Three distinct wars are being waged in the East;
and in Africa alone our soldiers and our Government are asserting the
rule of the sword in the North, on the East, in the centre, on the
South, and on the West at the same time. Five years ago, we were told
that for England at least there was to be some lull in this career of
blood and ambition. It was only, we see, a party cry, a device to upset
a government. There has been no lull, no pause in the scramble for
empire. The empire swells year by year; year by year fresh wars break
out; year by year the burden of empire increases whether Disraeli or
Gladstone, Liberal or Conservative, are the actual wielders of power.
The agents of the aggression, the critics, have changed sides; the
Jingoes of yesterday are the grumblers of to-day; and the peaceful
patriots of yesterday are the Jingoes of to-day. The empire and its
appendages are even vaster in 1885 than in 1880; its responsibilities
are greater; its risks and perplexities deeper; its enemies stronger
and more threatening. And in the midst of this crisis, those who
condemn this policy are fewer; their protests come few and faint. The
Christian sects can see nothing unrighteous in Mr. Gladstone; the
Liberal caucuses stifle any murmur of discontent, and force those who
spoke out against Zulu, Afghan, and Trans-Vaal wars to justify, by the
tyrant’s plea of necessity, the massacre of Egyptian fellahs and the
extermination of Arab patriots. They who mouthed most loudly about
Jingoism are now the foremost in their appeals to national vanity. And
the parasites of the parasites of our great Liberal statesman can make
such hubbub, in his utter absence of a policy, that they drive him by
sheer clamor from one adventure into another. For nearly four years now
we have continuously protested against the policy pursued in Egypt.
Year after year we have told Mr. Gladstone that it was blackening his
whole career and covering our country with shame. There is a monotony
about our protests. But, when there is a monotony in evil-doing, there
must alike be monotony in remonstrance. We complain that the blood and
treasure of this nation should be used in order to flay the peasantry
of the Nile, in the interests of usurers and speculators. We complain
that we practically annex a people whom we will not govern and cannot
benefit. We are boldly for what in the slang of the day is called
“scuttling” out of Egypt. We think the robber and the oppressor should
scuttle as quickly as possible, that he is certain to scuttle some
day. We complain of massacring an innocent people merely to give our
traders and money-dealers larger or safer markets. We complain of all
the campaigns and battles as wanton, useless, and unjust massacres. We
especially condemn the war in the Soudan as wanton and unjust even in
the avowal of the very ministers who are urging it. The defender of
Khartoum is a man of heroic qualities and beautiful nature; but the
cause of civilisation is not served by launching amongst savages a
sort of Pentateuch knight errant. And we seriously complain that the
policy of a great country in a great issue of right and wrong should
be determined by schoolboy shouting over the feats of our English

It is true that our Ministers, especially Mr. Gladstone, Lord
Granville, and Lord Derby, are the public men who are now most
conspicuously resisting the forward policy, and that the outcry of the
hour is against them on that ground. But ambition should be made of
sterner stuff. Those who aspire to guide nations should meet the folly
of the day with more vigorous assertion of principle. And the men who
are waging a wanton, bloody, and costly war in the sands of Africa have
no principle left to assert.

It may well be that Mr. Gladstone, and most of those who follow him in
office, are of all our public men those who have least liking for these
wars, annexations, and oppressive dealings with the weak. They may
have less liking for them it may be, but they are the men who do these
things. They are responsible. The blood lies on their doorstep. The
guilt hangs on their fame. The corruption of the national conscience
is their doing. The page of history will write their names and their
deeds in letters of gore and of flame. It is mockery, even in the
most servile parliamentary drudge, to repeat to us that the wrong
lies at the door of the Opposition, foreign intriguers, international
engagements, untoward circumstances. Keep these threadbare pretexts to
defend the next official blunder amidst the cheers of a party mob. The
English people will have none of such stale equivocation. The ministers
who massacred thousands at Tel-el-Kebir, at Alexandria, at Teb, at
Tamasi, who are sinking millions of our people’s hard-won savings in
the sands of Africa, in order to slaughter a brave race whom they
themselves declare to be heroes and patriots fighting for freedom; and
who after three years of this bloodshed, ruin, and waste, have nothing
to show for it—nothing, except the utter chaos of a fine country, the
extreme misery of an innocent people, and all Europe glowering at us
in menace and hate—the men who have done this are responsible. When
they fail to annex some trumpery bit of coast, the failure is naturally
set down to blundering, not to conscience. History, their country,
their own conscience will make them answer for it. The headlong plunge
of our State, already over-burdened with the needs and dangers of a
heterogeneous empire, the consuming rage for national extension, which
the passion for money, markets, careers, breeds in a people where
moral and religious principles are loosened and conflicting, this is
the great evil of our time. It is to stem this that statesmen should
address themselves. It is to fan this, or to do its bidding, that our
actual statesmen contend. Mr. Gladstone in his heart may loathe the
task to which he is set and the uses to which he lends his splendid
powers. But there are some situations where weakness before powerful
clamor works national ruin more readily even than ambition itself. How
petty to our descendants will our squabbles in the parliamentary game
appear, when history shall tell them that Gladstone waged far more
wars than Disraeli; that he slaughtered more hecatombs of innocent
people; that he oppressed more nations, embroiled us worse with foreign
nations; left the empire of a far more unwieldy size, more exposed and
on more rotten foundations; and that Mr. Gladstone did all this not
because it seemed to him wise or just, but for the same reason (in
truth) that his great rival acted, viz., that it gave him unquestioned
ascendency in his party and with those whose opinion he sought.

I have not hesitated to speak out my mind of the policy condemned,
not in personal hostility or irritation, however much I respect the
great qualities of Mr. Gladstone himself, however little I desire
to see him displaced by his rivals. No one will venture to believe
that I speak in the interest of party, or have any quarrel with my
own countrymen. All that I have said in condemnation of the African
policy of England I would say in condemnation of the Chinese policy in
France. I would say it all the more because, for the reasons on which
I will not now enlarge, our brethren in France have said so little,
and that little with so broken a voice. It is a weakness to our common
cause that so little has been said in France. But I rejoice to see
that in the new number of our Review, our director, M. Laffitte, has
spoken emphatically against all disturbance of the _status quo_, and
the policy of founding colonial empires. It behooves us all the more
to speak out plainly here. There is the same situation in France as
in England. A ministry whom the majority trust, and whom the military
and trading class can bend to do their will; a thirst in the rich to
extend the empire; a thirst in the adventurers for careers to be won; a
thirst in the journalists for material wherewith to pamper the national
vanity. There, too, are in the East backward peoples to be trampled
on, a confused tangle of pretexts and opportunities, a Parliamentary
majority to be secured, and a crowd of interests to be bribed. In
the case of M. Ferry, we can see all the weakness, all the helpless
vacillations, all the danger of his game; its cynical injustice, its
laughable pretexts and excuses, its deliberate violation of the real
interests of the nation, the formidable risks that he is preparing for
his country, and the ruin which is as certain to follow it. In Mr.
Gladstone’s case there are national and party slaves for the conscience
of the boldest critic.

The year, too, has witnessed a new form of the spread-eagle tendency in
the revival of one of our periodical scares about the strength of the
navy. About once in every ten or twenty years a knot of shipbuilders,
journalists, seamen, and gunners, contrive to stir up a panic, and to
force the nation into a great increase of its military expenditure.
I am not going to discuss the truth about the Navy, or whether it be
equal or not to the requirements of the Service. I look at this in
a new way: I take up very different ground. I say that the service,
to which we are now called on to make the navy equal, is a service
that we ought not to undertake. The requirements demanded are wholly
incompatible with the true interests of our nation. They are opposed
to the real conditions of civilisation. They will be in a very few
years, even if they are not now, beyond the power of this people to
meet. The claim to a maritime supremacy, in the sense that this country
is permanently to remain undisputed mistress of all seas, always able
and ready to overwhelm any possible combination of any foreign Powers,
this claim in itself is a ridiculous anachronism. Whether the British
fleet is now able to overpower the combined fleets of Europe, or even
of several Powers in Europe, I do not know. Even if it be now able,
such is the progress of events, the ambition of our neighbors, and
the actual conditions of modern war, that it is physically impossible
that such a supremacy can be permanently maintained. To maintain it,
even for another generation, would involve the subjection of England
to a military tyranny such as exists for the moment in Germany, to a
crushing taxation and conscription, of which we have had no experience.
We should have to spend, not twenty-five, but fifty millions a year on
our army and navy if we intend to be really masters in every sea, and
to make the entire British empire one continuous Malta and Gibraltar.
And even that, or a hundred millions a year, would not suffice in the
future for the inevitable growth of foreign powers and the constant
growth of our own empire. To guarantee the permanent supremacy of the
seas, we shall need some Bismarck to crush our free people into the
vice of his military autocracy and universal conscription.

“Rule Britannia,” or England’s exclusive dominion of the seas, is a
temporary (in my opinion, an unfortunate) episode in our history.
To brag about it and fight for it is the part of a bad citizen; to
maintain it would be a crime against the human race. To have founded,
not an empire, but a scattered congeries of possessions in all parts of
the world by conquest, intrigue, or arbitrary seizure, is a blot upon
our history; to perpetuate it is a burdensome inheritance to bequeath
to our children. To ask that this inorganic heap of possessions shall
be perpetually extended, made absolutely secure against all comers,
and guarded by a fleet which is always ready to meet the world in
arms—this is a programme which it is the duty of every good citizen to
stamp out. Whilst this savage policy is in vogue, the very conditions
of national morality, of peace, of true industrial civilisation are
wanting. The first condition of healthy national progress is to have
broken for ever with this national buccaneering. The commerce, the
property of Englishmen on the seas must protect itself, like that of
other nations, by just, prudent, and civilised bearing, and not by an
exclusive dominion which other great nations do very well without. The
commerce and the honor of Americans are safe all over the world, though
their navy is not one-tenth of ours. And Germany can speak with us face
to face on every ocean, though she can hardly put a first-rate ship in
array of battle. To talk big about refusing to trust the greatness of
England to the sufferance of her neighbors is mere clap-trap. It is
the phrase of Mexican or Californian desperadoes when they fill their
pockets with revolvers and bowie-knives. All but two or three of the
greatest nations are obliged, at all times, to trust their existence to
the sufferance of their stronger neighbors. And they are just as safe,
and quite as proud, and more civilised than their great neighbors in
consequence. Human society, whether national or international, only
begins when social morality has taken the place of individual violence.
Society, for men or nations, cannot be based on the revolver and
bowie-knife principle.

We repudiate, then, with our whole souls the code of buccaneer
patriotism. True statesmen are bound to check, not to promote, the
expansion of England; to provide for the peaceful disintegration of
the heterogeneous empire, the permanence of which is as incapable of
being justified in policy as of being materially defended in arms.
These aggressions and annexations and protectorates, these wanton
wars amongst savages are at once blunders and crimes, pouring out by
millions what good government and thrift at home save by thousands,
degrading the present generation and deeply wronging the next. We want
no fleet greater than that of our greatest neighbors, and the claim to
absolute dominion at sea must be put away like the claim to the kingdom
of France or exclusive right to the British Channel. We can afford
to smile at the charge that we are degenerate Britons or wanting in
patriotism. Patriotism to us is a deep and working desire for the good
name of England, for the justice and goodness of her policy, for the
real enlightenment and well-being of her sons, and for her front place
in humanity and civilisation. We smile at the vaporing of men to whom
patriotism means a good cry, and several extra editions.

It may seem for the moment that doctrines such as ours are out of
credit, and that there is little hope of their ever obtaining the
mastery. We are told that to-day not a voice is raised to oppose the
doctrines of spoliation. It is true that, owing to the hubbub of party
politics, to the servility of the Christian Churches, and the low
morality of the press, these national acts of rapacity have passed as
yet with but small challenge. But at any rate here our voice has never
wavered, nor have considerations of men, parties, or majorities led us
to temporise with our principles. We speak out plainly—not more plainly
than Mr. Gladstone and his followers on platform and in press spoke
out once—and we shall go on to speak out plainly, whether we are many
or whether we are few, whether the opinion of the hour is with us or
not. But I am not despondent. Nor do I doubt the speedy triumph of our
stronger morality. I see with what weather cock rapidity the noisiest
of the Anti-Jingoes can change their tone. The tribe of Cleon, and the
Sausage-seller are the same in every age. I will not believe that the
policy of a great nation can be long dictated by firms of advertising
touts, who will puff the new soap, a comic singer, and an imperial war
in the same page; who are equally at home in the partition of Africa or
a penny dreadful. Nations are not seriously led by the arts which make
village bumpkins crowd to the show of the fat girl and the woolly pig.
In the rapid degradation of the press to the lower American standard
we may see an escape from its mischief. The age is one of democracy.
We have just taken a great stride towards universal suffrage and the
government of the people. In really republican societies, where power
rests on universal suffrage, as in France, and in America, the power
of the press is reduced to a very low ebb. The power of journalism is
essentially one of town life and small balanced parties. Its influence
evaporates where power is held by the millions, and government appeals
directly to vast masses of voters spread over immense areas. Cleon
and the Sausage-seller can do little when republican institutions are
firmly rooted over the length and breadth of a great country.

The destinies of this nation have now been finally committed to the
people, and to the people we will appeal with confidence. The laborer
and the workman have no interest in these wanton wars. In this imperial
expansion, in this rivalry of traders and brag of arms; no taste for it
and no respect for it. They find that they are dragged off to die in
wars of which they know nothing; that their wages are taxed to support
adventures which they loathe. The people are by instinct opponents of
these crimes, and to them we will appeal. The people have a natural
sense of justice and a natural leaning to public morality. Ambition,
lucre, restlessness, and vainglory do not corrupt their minds to
approve a financial adventure. They need peace, productive industry,
humanity. Every step towards the true republic is a step towards
morality. To the new voters, to the masses of the people, we will
confidently appeal.

There is, too, another side to this matter. If these burdens are to be
thrust on the national purse, and (should the buccaneers have their
way) if the permanent war expenditure must be doubled, and little
wars at ten and twenty millions each are inevitable as well, then in
all fairness the classes who make these wars and profit by them must
pay for them. We have taken a great stride towards democracy, and two
of the first taxes with which the new democracy will deal are the
income-tax and the land-tax. The entire revision of taxation is growing
inevitable. It is a just and sound principle that the main burden of
taxation shall be thrown on the rich, and we have yet to see how the
new democracy will work out that just principle. A graduated income-tax
is a certain result of the movement. The steady pressure against
customs duties and the steady decline in habits of drinking must
combine to force the taxation of the future more and more on income and
on land. A rapid rise in the scale of taxing incomes, until we reach
the point where great fortunes cease to be rapidly accumulated, would
check the wasteful expenditure on war more than any consideration of
justice. Even a China merchant would hardly promote an opium war when
he found himself taxed ten or twenty per cent. on his income.

One of the first things which will occur to the new rural voters is the
ridiculous minimum to which the land-tax is reduced. Mr. Henry George
and the school of land reformers have lately been insisting that the
land-tax must be immensely increased. At present it is a farce, not
one-tenth of what is usual in the nations of Europe. I entirely agree
with them, and am perfectly prepared to see the land-tax raised till
it ultimately brings us some ten or even twenty millions, instead
of one million. If the result would be to force a great portion of
the soil to change hands, and to pass from the rent receivers to the
occupiers, all the more desirable. But one inevitable result of the new
Reform Act must be a great raising of the taxes on land, and when land
pays one-fifth of the total taxation, our wars will be fewer and our
armaments more modest.

One of the cardinal facts of our immediate generation is the sudden
revival of Socialism and Communism. It was not crushed, as we thought,
in 1848; it was not extinguished in 1871. The new Republic in France is
uneasy with it. The military autocracy of Germany is honeycombed with
it. Society is almost dissolved by it in Russia. It is rife in America,
in Italy, in Denmark, in Austria. Let no man delude himself that
Socialism has no footing here. I tell them (and I venture to say that I
know) Socialism within the last few years has made some progress here.
It will assuredly make progress still. With the aspirations and social
aims of Socialism we have much in common, little as we are Communists
and firmly as we support the institution of private property. But if
Socialism is in the ascendant, if the new democracy is exceedingly
likely to pass through a wave of Socialist tendency, are these the men,
and is this the epoch to foster a policy of imperial aggression? With
the antipathy felt by Socialists for all forms of national selfishness,
with their hatred of war, and their noble aspirations after the
brotherhood of races and nations, we as Positivists are wholly at
one. Let us join hands, then, with Socialists, with Democrats, with
Humanitarians, and reformers of every school, who repudiate a policy of
national oppression; and together let us appeal to the new democracy
from the old plutocracy to arrest our nation in its career of blood,
and to lift this guilty burden from the conscience of our children for

So let us begin the year resolved to do our duty as citizens,
fearlessly and honestly, striving to show our neighbors that social
morality is a real religion in itself, by which men can order their
lives and purify their hearts. Let us seek to be gentler as fathers,
husbands, comrades, or masters; more dutiful as sons and daughters,
learners or helpers; more diligent as workers, students, or teachers;
more loving and self-denying as men and as women everywhere. Let us
think less about calling on Humanity and more about being humane. Let
us talk less about religion, and try more fully to live religion. We
have sufficiently explained our principles in words. Let us manifest
them in act. I do not know that more is to be gained by the further
preaching of our creed—much less by external profession of our
own conviction. The world will be ours, the day that men see that
Positivism in fact enables men to live a more pure and social life,
that it fills us with a desire for all useful knowledge, stimulates
us to help one another and bear with one another, makes our homes
the brighter, our children the better, our lives the nobler by its
presence; and that on the foundation of order, and in the spirit of
love, and with progress before us as our aim, we can live for others,
live openly before all men.—_Fortnightly Review._



It is perhaps difficult for men of middle age to estimate Tennyson
aright. For we who love poetry were brought up, as it were, at his
feet, and he cast the magic of his fascination over our youth.
We have gone away, we have travelled in other lands, absorbed in
other preoccupations, often revolving problems different from those
concerning which we took counsel with him; and we hear new voices,
claiming authority, who aver that our old master has been superseded,
that he has no message for a new generation, that his voice is no
longer a talisman of power. Then we return to the country of our
early love, and what shall our report be? Each one must answer for
himself; but my report will be entirely loyal to those early and
dear impressions. I am of those who believe that Tennyson has still
a message for the world. Men become impatient with hearing Aristides
so often called just, but is that the fault of Aristides? They are
impatient also with a reputation, which necessarily is what all great
reputations must so largely be—the empty echo of living voices from
blank walls. “Now again”—not the people, but certain critics—“call
it but a weed.” Yet how strange these fashions in poetry are! I well
remember Lord Broughton, Byron’s friend, expressing to me, when I was
a boy, his astonishment that the bust of Tennyson by Woolner should
have been thought worthy of a place near that of Lord Byron in Trinity
College, Cambridge. “Lord Byron was a great poet; but Mr. Tennyson,
though he had written pretty verses,” and so on. For one thing, the men
of that generation deemed Tennyson terribly obscure. “In Memoriam,” it
was held, nobody could possibly understand. The poet, being original,
had to make his own public. Men nurtured on Scott and Byron could not
understand him. Now we hear no more of his obscurity. Moreover, he
spoke as the mouthpiece of his own time. Doubts, aspirations, visions
unfamiliar to the aging, breathed melodiously through him. Again, how
contemptuously do Broad-church psychologists like George Macdonald,
and writers for the _Spectator_, as well as literary persons belonging
to what I may term the _finikin_ school, on the other hand, now talk of
our equally great poet Byron. How detestable must the North be, if the
South be so admirable! But while Tennyson spoke to me in youth, Byron
spoke to me in boyhood, and I still love both.

Whatever may have to be discounted from the popularity of Tennyson on
account of fashion and a well-known name, or on account of his harmony
with the (more or less provincial) ideas of the large majority of
Englishmen, his popularity is a fact of real benefit to the public,
and highly creditable to them at the same time. The establishment of
his name in popular favor is but very partially accounted for by the
circumstance that, when he won his spurs, he was among younger singers
the only serious champion in the field, since, if I mistake not, he
was at one time a less “popular” poet than Mr. Robert Montgomery. _Vox
populi_ is not always _vox Dei_, but it may be so accidentally, and
then the people reap benefit from their happy blunder. The great poet
who won the laurel before Tennyson has never been “popular” at all, and
Tennyson is the only true English poet who has pleased the “public”
since Byron, Walter Scott, Tom Moore, and Mrs. Hemans. But he had to
conquer their suffrages, for his utterance, whatever he may have owed
to Keats, was original, and his substance the outcome of an opulent
and profound personality. These were serious obstacles to success,
for he neither went “deep” into “the general heart” like Burns, nor
appealed to superficial sentiments in easy language like Scott, Moore,
and Byron. In his earliest volume indeed there was a preponderance of
manner over matter; it was characterized by a certain dainty prettiness
of style, that scarcely gave promise of the high spiritual vision and
rich complexity of human insight to which he has since attained, though
it did manifest a delicate feeling for nature in association with human
moods, an extraordinarily subtle sensibility of all senses, and a
luscious pictorial power. Not Endymion had been more luxuriant. All was
steeped in golden languors. There were faults in plenty, and of course
the critics, faithful to the instincts of their kind, were jubilant
to nose them. To adapt Coleridge’s funny verses, not “the Church of
St. Geryon,” nor the legendary Rhine, but the “stinks and stenches” of
Kölntown do such offal-feeders love to enumerate, and distinguish. But
the poet in his verses on “Musty Christopher” gave one of these people
a Roland for his Oliver. Stuart Mill, as Mr. Mathews, in his lately
published and very instructive lecture on Tennyson, points out, was the
one critic in a million who remembered Pope’s precept,

    “Be thou the first true merit to befriend,
    His praise is lost who waits till all commend.”

Yet it is only natural that the mediocrities, who for a moment keep
the door of Fame, should scrutinize with somewhat jaundiced eye the
credentials of new aspirants, since every entry adds fresh bitterness
to their own exclusion.

But really it is well for us, the poet’s elect lovers, to remember that
he once had faults, however few he may now retain; for the perverse
generation who dance not when the poet pipes to them, nor mourn when he
weeps, have turned upon Tennyson with the cry that he “is all fault who
has no fault at all”—they would have us regard him as a kind of Andrea
del Sarto, a “blameless” artistic “monster, “a poet of unimpeachable
technical skill, but keeping a certain dead level of moderate merit. It
is as well to be reminded that this at all events is false. The dawn
of his young art was beautiful; but the artist had all the generous
faults of youthful genius—excess, vision confused with gorgeous color
and predominant sense, too palpable artifice of diction, indistinctness
of articulation in the outline, intricately-woven cross-lights flooding
the canvas, defect of living interest; while Coleridge said that he
began to write poetry without an ear for metre. Neither Adeline,
Madeline, nor Eleanore are living portraits, though Eleanore is
gorgeously painted. “The Ode to Memory” has isolated images of rare
beauty, but it is kaleidoscopic in effect; the fancy is playing with
loose foam-wreaths, rather than the imagination “taking things by
the heart.” But our great poet has gone beyond these. He has himself
rejected twenty-six out of the fifty-eight poems published in his first
volume; while some of those even in the second have been altogether
rewritten. Such defects are eminently present in the lately republished
poem written in youth, “The Lover’s Tale,” though this too has been
altered. As a storehouse of fine imagery, metaphor, and deftly moulded
phrase, of blank verse also whose sonorous rhythm must surely be a
fabric of adult architecture, the piece can hardly be surpassed; but
the tale as tale lingers and lapses, overweighted with the too gorgeous
trappings under which it so laboriously moves. And such expression as
the following, though not un-Shakspearian, is hardly quarried from
the soundest material in Shakspeare—for, after all, Shakspeare was a
euphuist now and then—

    “Why fed we from one fountain? drew one sun?
    Why were our mothers branches of one stem, if that same nearness
    Were father to this distance, and that _one_
    Vaunt courier to this _double_, if affection
    Living slew love, and sympathy hewed out
    The bosom-sepulchre of sympathy?”

Yet “Mariana” had the virtue, which the poet has displayed so
pre-eminently since, of concentration. Every subtle touch enhances the
effect he intends to produce, that of the desolation of the deserted
woman, whose hope is nearly extinguished; Nature hammering a fresh
nail into her coffin with every innocent aspect or movement. Beautiful
too are “Love and Death” and “The Poet’s Mind;” while in “The Poet” we
have the oft-quoted line: “Dowered with the hate of hate, the scorn of
scorn, the love of love.”

Mr. G. Brimley was the first, I believe, to point out the distinctive
peculiarity of Lord Tennyson’s treatment of landscape. It is treated
by him dramatically; that is to say, the details of it are selected so
as to be interpretative of the particular mood or emotion he wishes to
represent. Thus in the two Marianas, they are painted with the minute
distinctness appropriate to the morbid and sickening observation of the
lonely woman, whose attention is distracted by no cares, pleasures,
or satisfied affections. That is a pregnant remark, a key to unlock
a good deal of Tennyson’s work with. Byron and Shelley, though they
are carried out of themselves in contemplating Nature, do not, I
think, often take her as interpreter of moods alien to their own. In
Wordsworth’s “Excursion,” it is true, Margaret’s lonely grief is thus
delineated though the neglect of her garden and the surroundings of her
cottage; yet this is not so characteristic a note of his nature-poetry.
In the “Miller’s Daughter” and the “Gardener’s Daughter” the lovers
would be little indeed without the associated scene so germane to the
incidents narrated, both as congenial setting of the picture for a
spectator, and as vitally fused with the emotion of the lovers; while
never was more lovely landscape-painting of the gentle order than in
the “Gardener’s Daughter.” Lessing, who says that poetry ought never
to be pictorial, would, I suppose, much object to Tennyson’s; but
to me, I confess, this mellow, lucid, luminous word-painting of his
is entirely delightful. It refutes the criticism that words cannot
convey a picture by perfectly conveying it. _Solvitur ambulando_; the
Gardener’s Daughter standing by her rose-bush, “a sight to make an old
man young,” remaining in our vision to confound all crabbed pedants
with pet theories.

In his second volume, indeed, the poet’s art was well mastered, for
here we find the “Lotos-eaters,” “Œnone,” “The Palace of Art,” “A Dream
of Fair Women,” the tender “May-Queen,” and the “Lady of Shalott.”
Perhaps the first four of these are among the very finest works of
Tennyson. In the mouth of the love-lorn nymph Œnone he places the
complaint concerning Paris into which there enters so much delightful
picture of the scenery around Mount Ida, and of those fair immortals
who came to be judged by the beardless apple-arbiter. How deliciously
flows the verse!—though probably it flows still more entrancingly in
the “Lotos-eaters,” wandering there like clouds of fragrant incense,
or some slow heavy honey, or a rare amber unguent poured out. How
wonderfully harmonious with the dream-mood of the dreamers are phrase,
image, and measure! But we need not quote the lovely choric song
wherein occur the lines—

    “Music that gentlier on the spirit lies
    Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes,”

so entirely restful and happy in their simplicity. If Art would always
blossom so, she might be forgiven if she blossomed only for her own
sake; yet this controversy regarding _Art for Art_ need hardly have
arisen, since Art may certainly bloom for her own sake, if only she
consent to assimilate in her blooming, and so exhale for her votaries,
in due proportion, all elements essential to Nature, and Humanity: for
in the highest artist all faculties are transfigured into one supreme
organ; while among forms her form is the most consummate, among fruits
her fruit offers the most satisfying refreshment. What a delicately
true picture have we here—

    “And like a downward smoke, the slender stream
    Along the cliff to fall, and pause and fall did seem,”

where we feel also the poet’s remarkable faculty of making word and
rhythm an echo and auxiliary of the sense. Not only have we the three
cæsuras respectively after “fall,” and “pause” and “fall,” but the
length, and soft amplitude of the vowel sounds with liquid consonants
aid in the realization of the picture, reminding of Milton’s beautiful
“From morn to noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve, a summer’s day.”
The same faculty is notable in the rippling lilt of the charming
little “Brook” song, and indeed everywhere. In the “Dream of Fair
Women” we have a series of cabinet portraits, presenting a situation
of human interest with a few animating touches, but still chiefly
through suggestive surroundings. There occurs the magnificent phrase
of Cleopatra: “We drank the Lybian sun to sleep, and lit lamps which
outburned Canopus.” The force of expression could be carried no further
than throughout this poem, and by “expression” of course I do not mean
pretty words, or power-words for there own sweet sake, for these,
expressing nothing, whatever else they may be, are not “expression;”
but I mean the forcible or felicitous presentment of thought, image,
feeling, or incident, through pregnant and beautiful language in
harmony with them; though the subtle and indirect suggestion of
language is unquestionably an element to be taken into account by
poetry. The “Palace of Art” is perhaps equal to the former poem for
lucid splendor of description, in this instance pointing a moral,
allegorizing a truth. Scornful pride, intellectual arrogance, selfish
absorption in æsthetic enjoyment, is imaged forth in this vision of
the queen’s world-reflecting palace, and its various treasures—the
end being a sense of unendurable isolation, engendering madness, but
at last repentance, and reconcilement with the scouted commonalty of

The dominant note of Tennyson’s poetry is assuredly the delineation
of human moods modulated by Nature, and through a system of
Nature-symbolism. Thus, in “Elaine,” when Lancelot has sent a courtier
to the queen, asking her to grant him audience, that he may present
the diamonds won for her in tourney, she receives the messenger with
unmoved dignity; but he, bending low and reverently before her, saw
“with a sidelong eye”

    “The shadow of some piece of pointed lace
    In the queen’s shadow vibrate on the walls,
    And parted, laughing in his courtly heart.”

The “Morte d’Arthur” affords a striking instance of this peculiarly
Tennysonian method. That is another of the very finest pieces. Such
poetry may suggest labor, but not more than does the poetry of Virgil
or Milton. Every word is the right word, and each in the right place.
Sir H. Taylor indeed warns poets against “wanting to make every word
beautiful.” And yet here it must be owned that the result of such an
effort is successful, so delicate has become the artistic tact of
this poet in his maturity.[1] For, good expression being the happy
adaptation of language to meaning, it follows that sometimes good
expression will be perfectly simple, even ordinary in character, and
sometimes it will be ornate, elaborate, dignified. He who can thus vary
his language is the best verbal artist, and Tennyson can thus vary
it. In this poem, the “Morte d’Arthur,” too, we have “deep-chested
music.” Except in some of Wordsworth and Shelley, or in the magnificent
“Hyperion” of Keats, we have had no such stately, sonorous organ-music
in English verse since Milton as in this poem, or in “Tithonus,”
“Ulysses,” “Lucretius,” and “Guinevere.” From the majestic overture,

    “So all day long the noise of battle rolled
    Among the mountains by the winter sea,”

onward to the end, the same high elevation is maintained.

But this very picturesqueness of treatment has been urged against
Tennyson as a fault in his narrative pieces generally, from its
alleged over-luxuriance, and tendency to absorb, rather than enhance,
the higher human interest of character and action. However this be
(and I think it is an objection that does apply, for instance, to
“The Princess”), here in this poem picturesqueness must be counted
as a merit, because congenial to the semi-mythical, ideal, and
parabolic nature of Arthurian legend, full of portent and supernatural
suggestion. Such Ossianic hero-forms are nearly as much akin to the
elements as to man. And the same answer holds largely in the case of
the other Arthurian Idylls. It has been noted how well-chosen is the
epithet “water” applied to a lake in the lines, “On one side lay the
ocean, and on one Lay a great water, and the moon was full.” Why is
this so happy? For as a rule the concrete rather than the abstract
is poetical, because the former brings with it an image, and the
former involves no vision. But now in the night all Sir Bedevere could
observe, or care to observe, was that there was “some great water.” We
do not—he did not—want to know exactly what it was. Other thoughts,
other cares, preoccupy him and us. Again, of dying Arthur we are told
that “all his greaves and caisses were dashed with drops of onset.”
“Onset” is a very generic term, poetic because removed from all vulgar
associations of common parlance, and vaguely suggestive not only of
war’s pomp and circumstance, but of high deeds also, and heroic hearts,
since onset belongs to mettle and daring; the word for vast and shadowy
connotation is akin to Milton’s grand abstraction, “Far off _His
coming_ shone” or Shelley’s, “Where the Earthquake Demon taught her
young _Ruin_.”

It has been noted also how cunningly Tennyson can gild and furbish up
the most commonplace detail—as when he calls Arthur’s mustache “the
knightly growth that fringed his lips,” or condescends to glorify a
pigeon-pie, or paints the clown’s astonishment by this detail, “the
brawny spearman let his cheek Bulge with the unswallowed piece, and
turning stared;” or thus characterizes a pun, “and took the word, and
play’d upon it, and made it of two colors.” This kind of ingenuity,
indeed, belongs rather to talent than to genius; it is exercised
in cold blood; but talent may be a valuable auxiliary of genius,
perfecting skill in the technical departments of art. Yet such a gift
is not without danger to the possessor. It may tempt him to make his
work too much like a delicate mosaic of costly stone, too hard and
unblended, from excessive elaboration of detail. One may even prefer
to art thus highly wrought a more glowing and careless strain, that
lifts us off our feet, and carries us away as on a more rapid, if more
turbid torrent of inspiration, such as we find in Byron, Shelley,
or Victor Hugo. Here you are compelled to pause at every step, and
admire the design of the costly tesselated pavement under your feet.
Perhaps there is a jewelled glitter, a Pre-Raphaelite or Japanese
minuteness of finish here and there in Tennyson, that takes away
from the feeling of aërial perspective and remote distance, leaving
little to the imagination; not suggesting and whetting the appetite,
but rather satiating it; his loving observation of minute particulars
is so faithful, his knowledge of what others, even men of science,
have observed so accurate, his fancy so nimble in the detection of
similitudes. But every master has his own manner, and his reverent
disciples would be sorry if he could be without it. We love the little
idiosyncracies of our friends.

I have said the objection in question does seem to lie against “The
Princess.” It contains some of the most beautiful poetic pearls the
poet has ever dropped; but the manner appears rather disproportionate
to the matter, at least to the subject as he has chosen to regard
it. For it is regarded by him only semi-seriously; so lightly and
sportively is the whole topic viewed at the outset, that the effect
is almost that of burlesque; yet there is a very serious conclusion,
and a very weighty moral is drawn from the story, the workmanship
being labored to a degree, and almost encumbered with ornamentation.
But the poet himself admits the ingrained incongruity of the poem.
The fine comparison of the Princess Ida in the battle to a beacon
glaring ruin over raging seas, for instance, seems too grand for the
occasion. How differently, and in what burning earnest has a great
poet-woman, Mrs. Browning, treated this grave modern question of the
civil and political position of women in “Aurora Leigh!” Tennyson’s is
essentially a man’s view, and the frequent talk about women’s beauty
must be very aggravating to the “Blues.” It is this poem especially
that gives people with a limited knowledge of Tennyson the idea of
a “pretty” poet; the prettiness, though very genuine, seems to play
too patronizingly with a momentous theme. The Princess herself, and
the other figures are indeed dramatically realized, but the splendor
of invention, and the dainty detail, rather dazzle the eye away from
their humanity. Here, however, are some of the loveliest songs that
this poet, one of our supreme lyrists, ever sung: “Tears, idle tears!”
“The splendor falls,” “Sweet and low,” “Home they brought,” “Ask me no
more,” and the exquisite melody, “For Love is of the valley.” Moreover,
the grand lines toward the close are full of wisdom—

    “For woman is not undeveloped man,
    But diverse: could we make her as the man
    Sweet love were slain,” &c.

I feel myself a somewhat similar incongruity in the poet’s treatment of
his more homely, modern, half-humorous themes, such as the introduction
to the “Morte d’Arthur,” and “Will Waterproof;” not at all in the
humorous poems, like the “Northern Farmer,” which are all of a piece,
and perfect in their own vein. In this introduction we have “The host
and I sat round the wassail bowl, then half-way ebb’d;” but this
metaphorical style is not (fortunately) sustained, and so, as good luck
would have it, a metaphor not being ready to hand, we have the honester
and homelier line, “Till I tired out with cutting eights that day upon
the pond;” yet this homespun hardly agrees with the above stage-king’s
costume. And so again I often venture to wish that the Poet-Laureate
would not say “flowed” when he only means “said.” Still, this may be
hypercriticism. For I did not personally agree with the critic who
objected to Enoch Arden’s fish-basket being called “ocean-smelling
osier.” There is no doubt, however, that “Stokes, and Nokes, and Vokes”
have exaggerated the poet’s manner, till the “murex fished up” by Keats
and Tennyson has become one universal flare of purple. Beautiful as
some of Mr. Rossetti’s work is, his expression in the sonnets surely
became obscure from over-involution, and excessive _fioriture_ of
diction. But then Rossetti’s style is no doubt formed considerably upon
that of the Italian poets. One is glad, however, that, this time, at
all events, the right man has “got the porridge!”

In connection with “Morte d’Arthur,” I may draw attention again to Lord
Tennyson’s singular skill in producing a rhythmical response to the

                            “The great brand
    Made lightnings in the splendor of the moon,
    And flashing round and round, and whirled in an arch.”

Here the anapest instead of the iambic in the last place happily
imitates the sword Excalibur’s own gyration in the air. Then what
admirable wisdom does the legend, opening out into parable, disclose
toward the end! When Sir Bedevere laments the passing away of the
Round Table, and Arthur’s noble peerage, gone down in doubt, distrust,
treachery, and blood, after that last great battle in the West, when,
amid the death-white mist, “confusion fell even upon Arthur,” and
“friend slew friend, now knowing whom he slew,” how grandly comes
the answer of Arthur from the mystic barge, that bears him from the
visible world to “some far island valley of Avilion,” “The old order
changeth, yielding place to new, and God fulfils Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world!” The new commencement
of this poem, called in the idyls “The Passing of Arthur,” is well
worthy of the conclusion. How weirdly expressive is that last battle in
the mist of those hours of spiritual perplexity, which overcloud even
strongest natures and firmest faith, overshadowing whole communities,
when we know not friend from foe, the holiest hope seems doomed to
disappointment, all the great aim and work of life have failed; even
loyalty to the highest is no more; the fair polity built laboriously
by some god-like spirit dissolves, and “all his realm reels back into
the beast;” while men “falling down in death” look up to heaven only
to find cloud, and the great-voiced ocean, as it were Destiny without
love and without mind, with voice of days of old and days to be, shakes
the world, wastes the narrow kingdom, yea, beats upon the faces of
our dead! The world-sorrow pierces here through the strain of a poet
usually calm and contented. Yet “Arthur shall come again, aye, twice as
fair;” for the spirit of man is young immortally.

Who, moreover, has moulded for us phrases of more transcendent dignity,
of more felicitous grace and import, phrases, epithets, and lines
that have already become memorable household words? More magnificent
expression I cannot conceive than that of such poems as “Lucretius,”
“Tithonus,” “Ulysses.” These all for versification, language, luminous
picture, harmony of structure have never been surpassed. What pregnant
brevity, weight, and majesty of expression in the lines where Lucretius
characterizes the death of his namesake Lucretia, ending “and from it
sprang the commonwealth, which breaks, as I am breaking now!” What
masterly power in poetically embodying a materialistic philosophy,
congenial to modern science, yet in absolute dramatic keeping with the
actual thought of the Roman poet! And at the same time, what tremendous
grasp of the terrible conflict of passion with reason, two natures
in one, significant for all epochs! In “Tithonus” and “Ulysses” we
find embodiments in high-born verse and illustrious phrase of ideal
moods, adventurous peril-affronting Enterprise contemptuously tolerant
of tame household virtues in “Ulysses,” and the bane of a burdensome
immortality, become incapable even of love, in “Tithonus.” Any
personification more exquisite than that of Aurora in the latter were

M. Taine, in his _Litterature Anglaise_, represents Tennyson as
an idyllic poet (a charming one), comfortably settled among his
rhododendrons on an English lawn, and viewing the world through the
somewhat insular medium of a prosperous, domestic and virtuous member
of the English comfortable classes, as also of a man of letters who
has fully succeeded. Again, either M. Taine, M. Scherer, or some other
writer in the _Revue des deux Mondes_, pictures him, like his own
Lady of Shalott, viewing life not as it really is, but reflected in
the magic mirror of his own recluse fantasy. Now, whatever measure
of truth there may formerly have been in such conceptions, they have
assuredly now proved quite one-sided and inadequate. We have only to
remember “Maud,” the stormier poems of the “Idylls,” “Lucretius,”
“Rizpah,” the “Vision of Sin.” The recent poem “Rizpah” perhaps marks
the high-water mark of the Laureate’s genius, and proves henceforward
beyond all dispute his wide range, his command over the deeper-toned
and stormier themes of human music, as well as over the gentler and
more serene. It proves also that the venerable master’s hand has not
lost its cunning, rather that he has been even growing until now,
having become more profoundly sympathetic with the world of action,
and the common growth of human sorrows. “Rizpah” is certainly one of
the strongest, most intensely felt, and graphically realized dramatic
poems in the language; its pathos is almost overwhelming. There is
nothing more tragic in Œdipus, Antigone, or Lear. And what a strong
Saxon homespun language has the veteran poet found for these terrible
lamentations of half-demented agony, “My Baby! the bones that had
sucked me, the bones that had laughed and had cried, Theirs! O no! They
are mine not theirs—they had moved in my side.” Then the heart-gripping
phrase breaking forth ever and anon in the imaginative metaphorical
utterance of wild emotion, to which the sons and daughters of the
people are often moved, eloquent beyond all eloquence, white-hot from
the heart! “Dust to dust low down! let us hide! but they set him so
high, that all the ships of the world could stare at him passing by.”
In this last book of ballads the style bears the same relation to the
earlier and daintier that the style of “Samson Agonistes” bears to that
of “Comus.” “The Revenge” is equally masculine, simple, and sinewy in
appropriate strength of expression, a most spirited rendering of a
heroic naval action—worthy of a place, as is also the grand ode on the
death of Wellington, beside the war odes of Campbell, the “Agincourt”
of Drayton, and the “Rule Britannia” of Thomson. The irregular metre
of the “Ballad of the Fleet” is most remarkable as a vehicle of the
sense, resonant with din of battle, full-voiced with rising and
bursting storm toward the close, like the equally spirited concluding
scenes of “Harold,” that depict the battle of Senlac. The dramatic
characterizations in “Harold” and “Queen Mary” are excellent—Mary,
Harold, the Conqueror, the Confessor, Pole, Edith, Stigand, and other
subordinate sketches, being striking and successful portraits; while
“Harold” is full also of incident and action—a really memorable modern
play; but the main motive of “Queen Mary” fails in tragic dignity and
interest, though there is about it a certain grim subdued pathos, as of
still life, and there are some notable scenes. Tennyson is admirably
dramatic in the portrayal of individual moods, of men or women in
certain given situations. His plays are fine, and of real historic
interest, but not nearly so remarkable as the dramatic poems I have
named, as the earlier “St. Simeon Stylites,” “Ulysses,” “Tithonus,” or
as the “Northern Farmer,” “Cobblers,” and “Village Wife,” among his
later works. These last are perfectly marvellous in their fidelity
and humorous photographic realism. That the poet of “Œnone,” “The
Lotus-eaters,” and the Arthur cycle should have done these also is
wonderful. The humor of them is delightful, and the rough homely
diction perfect. One wishes indeed that the “dramatic fragments”
collected by Lamb, like gold-dust out of the rather dreary sand-expanse
of Elizabethan playwrights, were so little fragmentary as these.
Tennyson’s short dramatic poems are quintessential; in a brief glimpse
he contrives to reveal the whole man or woman. You would know the old
“Northern Farmer,” with his reproach to “God Amoighty” for not “letting
him aloan,” and the odious farmer of the new style, with his “Proputty!
Proputty!” wherever you met them. But “Dora,” the “Grand-mother,” “Lady
Clare,” “Edward Gray,” “Lord of Burleigh,” had long since proved that
Tennyson had more than one style at command; that he was master not
only of a flamboyant, a Corinthian, but also of a sweet, simple, limpid
English, worthy of Goldsmith or Cowper at their best.

Reverting, however, to the question of Tennyson’s ability to fathom
the darker recesses of our nature, what shall be said of the “Vision
of Sin?” For myself I can only avow that, whenever I read it, I feel
as if some horrible gray fungus of the grave were growing over my
heart, and over all the world around me. As for passion, I know few
more profoundly passionate poems than “Love and Duty.” It paints
with glowing concentrated power the conflict of duty with yearning
passionate love, stronger than death. The “Sisters,” and “Fatima,”
too, are fiercely passionate, as also is “Maud.” I should be surprised
to hear that a lover could read “Maud,” and not feel the spring and
mid-noon of passionate affection in it to the very core of him, so
profoundly felt and gloriously expressed is it by the poet. Much of its
power, again, is derived from that peculiarly Tennysonian ability to
make Nature herself reflect, redouble, and interpret the human feeling.
That is the power also of such supreme lyrics as “Break, break!” and
“In the Valley of Cauterets;” of such chaste and consummate rendering
of a noble woman’s self-sacrifice as “Godiva,” wherein “shameless
gargoyles” stare, but “the still air scarcely breathes for fear;” and
likewise of “Come into the garden, Maud,” an invocation that palpitates
with rapture of young love, in which the sweet choir of flowers bear
their part, and sing antiphony. The same feeling pervades the delicious
passage commencing, “Is that enchanted moon?” and “Go not, happy day.”
All this may be what Mr. Ruskin condemns as “pathetic” fallacy, but it
is inevitable and right. For “in our life doth nature live, ours is
her wedding garment, ours her shroud.” The same Divine Spirit pervades
man and nature; she, like ourselves, has her transient moods, as well
as her tranquil immovable deeps. In her, too, is a passing as well as
an eternal, while we apprehend either according to our own capacity,
together with the emotional bias that dominates us at the moment. The
vital and permanent in us holds the vital and permanent in her, while
the temporary in us mirrors the transitory in her. I cannot think
indeed that the more troubled and jarring moods of disharmony and fury
are touched with quite the same degree of mastery in “Maud” as are the
sunnier and happier. Tennyson hitherto had basked by preference in
the brighter regions of his art, and the turbid Byronic vein appeared
rather unexpectedly in him. The tame, sleek, daintily-feeding gourmêts
of criticism yelped indeed their displeasure at these “hysterics,” as
they termed the “Sturm und Drang” elements that appeared in “Maud,”
especially since the poet dared appropriately to body these forth in
somewhat harsh, abrupt language, and irregular metres. Such elements,
in truth, hardly seemed so congenial to him as to Byron or Hugo. Yet
they were welcome, as proving that our chief poet was not altogether
irresponsive to the terrible social problems around him, to the
corruptions, and ever-festering vices of the body politic, to the
doubt, denial, and grim symptoms of upheaval at his very doors. For
on the whole some of us had felt that the Poet-Laureate was almost
too well contented with the general framework of things, with the
prescriptive rights of long-unchallenged rule, and hoar comfortable
custom, especially in England, as though these were in very deed
divine, and no subterranean thunder were ever heard, even in this
favored isle, threatening Church and State, and the very fabric of
society. But the temper of his class and time spoke through him. Did
not all men rejoice greatly when Prince Albert opened the Exhibition
of 1851; when Cobden and the Manchester school won the battle of
free-trade; when steam-engines and the electric telegraph were
invented; when Wordsworth’s “glorious time” came, and the Revised Code
passed into law; when science first told her enchanting fairy tales?
Yet the Millennium tarries, and there is an exceeding “bitter cry.”

But in “Maud,” as indeed before in that fine sonorous chaunt,
“Locksley Hall,” and later in “Aylmer’s Field,” the poet’s emphasis
of appreciation is certainly reserved for the heroes, men who have
inherited a strain of gloom, or ancestral disharmony moral and
physical, within whom the morbific social humors break forth inevitably
into plague-spots; the injustice and irony of circumstance lash them
into revolt, wrath, and madness. Mr. R. H. Hutton, a critic who often
writes with ability, but who seems to find a little difficulty in
stepping outside the circle of his perhaps rather rigid misconceptions
and predilections, makes the surely somewhat strange remark that
“‘Maud’ was written to reprobate hysterics.” But I fear—nay, I hope
and believe—that we cannot credit the poet with any such virtuous
or didactic intention in the present instance, though of course the
pregnant lines beginning “Of old sat Freedom on the heights,” the royal
verses, the recent play so forcibly objected to by Lord Queensberry,
together with various allusions to the “red fool-fury of the Seine,”
and “blind hysterics of the Celt,” do indicate a very Conservative and
law-abiding attitude. But other lines prove that after all what he
mostly deprecates is “the falsehood of extremes,” the blind and hasty
plunge into measures of mere destruction; for he praises the statesmen
who “take occasion by the hand,” and make “the bounds of freedom wider
yet,” and even gracefully anticipates “the golden year.”

The same principle on which I have throughout insisted as the key
to most of Tennyson’s best poetry is the key also to the moving
tale “Enoch Arden,” where the tropical island around the solitary
shipwrecked mariner is gorgeously depicted, the picture being as
full-Venetian, and resplendent in color, as those of the “Day-Dream”
and “Arabian Nights.” But the conclusion of the tale is profoundly
moving and pathetic, and relates a noble act of self-renouncement.
Parts of “Aylmer’s Field,” too, are powerful.

And now we come to the “Idylls,” around which no little critical
controversy has raged. It has been charged against them that they are
more picturesque, scenic, and daintily-wrought than human in their
interest. But though assuredly the poet’s love for the picturesque is
in this noble epic—for epic the Idylls in their completed state may be
accounted—amply indulged, I think it is seldom to the detriment of the
human interest, and the remark I made about one of them, the “Morte
d’Arthur,” really applies to all. The Arthur cycle is not historical,
as “Harold” or “Queen Mary” is, where the style is often simple
almost to baldness; the whole of it belongs to the reign of myth,
legend, fairy story, and parable. Ornament, image, and picture are as
much appropriate here as in Spenser’s “Fairy Queen,” of which indeed
Tennyson’s poem often reminds me. But “the light that never was on sea
or land, the consecration and the poet’s dream,” are a new revelation,
made peculiarly in modern poetry, of true spiritual insight. And this
not only throws fresh illuminating light into nature, but deepens
also and enlarges our comprehension of man. If nature be known for a
symbol and embodiment of the soul’s life, by means of their analogies
in nature the human heart and mind may be more profoundly understood;
while human emotions win a double clearness, or an added sorrow,
from their fellowship and association with outward scenes. Nature
can only be fathomed through her consanguinity with our own desires,
aspirations, and fears, while these again become defined and articulate
by means of her related appearances. A poet, then, who is sensitive to
such analogies confers a two-fold benefit upon us.

I cannot at all assent to the criticism passed upon the Idylls by Mr.
John Morley, who has indeed, as it appears to me, somewhat imperilled
his critical reputation by the observation that they are “such little
pictures as might adorn a lady’s school.” When we think of “Guinevere,”
“Vivien,” the “Holy Grail,” the “Passing of Arthur,” this dictum seems
to lack point and penetration. Indeed, had it proceeded only from
some rhyming criticaster, alternating with the feeble puncture of his
sting the worrying iteration of his own doleful drone, it might have
been passed over as simply an impertinence.[2] But while the poem
is in part purely a fairy romance tinctured with humanity, Tennyson
has certainly intended to treat the subject in part also as a grave
spiritual parable. Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Elaine, Galahad,
Vivien, are types, gracious or hateful. My own feeling, therefore,
would rather be that there is too much human nature in the Idylls, than
that there is too little; or at any rate that, while Arthur remains a
mighty Shadow, whose coming and going are attended with supernatural
portents, a worthy symbol of the Spirit of divine humanity, Vivien, for
instance, is a too real and unlovely harlot, too gross and veritably
breathing, to be in proportionate harmony with the general design.
Lancelot and Guinevere, again, being far fuller of life and color than
Arthur, the situation between these three, as invented, or at least
as recast from the old legends in his own fashion by the poet, does
not seem artistically felicitous, if regarded as a representation of
an actual occurrence in human life. But so vivid and human are many
of the stories that we can hardly fail so to regard them. And if the
common facts of life are made the vehicle of a parable, they must
not be distorted. It is chiefly, I think, because Arthur and Merlin
are only seen, as it were, through the luminous haze appropriate to
romance and myth, that the main motive of the epic, the loves of
Lancelot and Guinevere, appears scarcely strong enough to bear the
weight of momentous consequence imposed on it, which is no less than
the retributive ruin of Arthur’s commonwealth. Now, if Art elects to
appeal to ethical instinct, as great, human, undegraded Art continually
must, she is even more bound, in pursuance of her own proper end, to
satisfy the demand for moral beauty, than to gratify the taste for
beauty intellectual or æsthetic. And of course, while you might flatter
a poetaster, you would only insult a poet by refusing to consider what
he says, and only professing a concern for how he says it. Therefore
if the poet choose to lay all the blame of the dissolution and failure
of Arthur’s polity upon the illicit loves of Lancelot and Guinevere,
it seems to me that he committed a serious error in his invention of
the early circumstances of their meeting; nothing of the kind being
discoverable either in Mallory, or the old chronicle of Merlin. Great
stress, no doubt, is laid by Sir Thomas Mallory on this illicit love
as the fruitful source of much calamity; but then Mallory relates that
Arthur had met and loved Guinevere long before he asked for her in
marriage; whereas, according to Tennyson, he sent Lancelot to meet the
betrothed maiden, and she, never having seen Arthur, loved Lancelot,
as Lancelot Guinevere, at first sight. That circumstance, gratuitously
invented, surely makes the degree of the lovers’ guilt a problem
somewhat needlessly difficult to determine, if it was intended to brand
their guilt as heinous enough to deserve the ruin of a realm, and the
failure of Arthur’s humane life-purpose. Guinevere, seeing Lancelot
before Arthur, and recognizing in him (as the sweet and pure Elaine,
remember, did after her), the type of all that is noble and knightly
in man, loves the messenger, and continues to love him after she has
met her destined husband, whom she judges (and the reader of the
Idylls can hardly fail to coincide with her judgment) somewhat cold,
colorless, and aloof, however impeccable and grave; a kind of moral
phantom, or imaginative symbol of the conscience, whom Guinevere, as
typifying the human soul, ought indeed to love best (“not Lancelot,
nor another”), but whom, as a particular living man, Arthur, one quite
fails to see why Guinevere, a living woman with her own idiosyncracies,
should be bound to love rather than Lancelot. For if Guinevere, as
woman, ought to love “the highest” man “when she sees him,” it does
not appear why that obligation should not equally bind all the women
of her Court also! If the whole burden of the catastrophe was to be
laid upon the conception of a punishment deserved by the great guilt
of particular persons, that guilt ought certainly to have been so
described as to appear heinous and inexcusable to all beyond question.
The story need not have been thus moralized; but the Poet-Laureate
chose to emphasize the breach of a definite moral obligation as
unpardonable, and pregnant with evil issues. That being so, I submit
that the moral sense is left hesitating and bewildered, rather than
satisfied and acquiescent, which interferes with a thorough enjoyment
of the work even as art. The sacrament of marriage is high and holy;
yet we feel disposed to demand whether here it may not be rather the
letter and mere convention than the spirit of constant affection and
true marriage that is magnified. And if so, though popularity with the
English public may be secured by this vindication of their domestic
ideal, higher interests are hardly so well subserved. Doubtless the
treachery to husband and friend on the part of the lovers was black
and detestable. Doubtless their indulged love was far from innocent.
But then why invent so complicated a problem, and yet write as if
it were perfectly simple and easy of solution? What I complain of
is, that this love has a certain air of grievous fatality and excuse
about it, while yet the poet treats it as mere unmitigated guilt,
fully justifying all the disaster entailed thereby, not only on the
sinners themselves, but on the State, and the cause of human welfare.
Nor can we feel quite sure, as the subject is here envisaged, that,
justice apart, it is quite according to probability for the knowledge
of this constant illicit affection to engender a universal infidelity
of the Round Table Knights to vows which not only their lips, as in
the case of Guinevere, but also their hearts have sworn; infidelity
to their own true affection, and disloyalty to their own genuine
aspiration after the fulfilment of chivalrous duty in championing the
oppressed—all because a rich-natured woman like Guinevere proves
faithful to her affection for a rich kindred humanity in Lancelot!
How this comes about is at any rate not sufficiently explained in the
poet’s narrative; and if so, he must be held to have failed both as
artist and as ethical teacher, which in these Idylls he has certainly
aspired to be. Then comes the further question, not altogether an
easy one to answer, whether it is really true that even widespread
sexual excess inevitably entails deterioration in other respects, a
lowered standard of integrity and honor? The chivalry of the Middle
Ages was _sans peur_, but seldom _sans reproche_. History, on being
interrogated, gives an answer ambiguous as a Greek oracle. Was England,
for instance, less great under the Regency than under Cromwell? But
at all events, the old legends make the process of disintegration in
Arthur’s kingdom much clearer than it is made by Tennyson. In Mallory,
for instance, Arthur is by no means the sinless being depicted by
Tennyson. Rightly or wrongly, he is resolved to punish Guinevere for
her infidelity by burning, and Lancelot is equally resolved to rescue
her, which accordingly he does from the very stake, carrying her off
with him to his castle of Joyous Gard. Then Arthur and Sir Gawain make
war upon him; and thus, the great knightly heads of the Round Table
at variance; the fellowship is inevitably dissolved, for Modred takes
advantage of their dissension to seize upon the throne. But in the old
legends, who is Modred? The son of Arthur and his sister. According to
them, assuredly the origin of the doom or curse upon the kingdom is
the unwitting incest, yet deliberate adultery of Arthur, or perhaps
the still earlier and deeply-dyed sin of his father, Uther. Yet, Mr.
Swinburne’s contention, that Lord Tennyson should have emphasized the
sin of Arthur as responsible for the doom that came upon himself and
his kingdom, although plausible, appears to me hardly to meet all
the exigencies of the case. Mr. Hutton says in reply that then the
supernatural elements of the story could have found no place in the
poem; no strange portents could have been described as accompanying
the birth and death of Arthur. A Greek tragedian, he adds, would
never have dreamt of surrounding Œdipus with such portents. But surely
the latter remark demonstrates the unsoundness of the former. Has
Mr. Hutton forgotten what is perhaps one of the sublimest scenes in
any literature, the supernatural passing of this very deeply-dyed
sinner Œdipus to his divine repose at Colonos, in the grove of
those very ladies of divine vengeance, by whose awful ministry he
had been at length assoiled of sin? the mysterious stairs; Antigone
and Ismene expectant above; he “shading his eyes before a sight
intolerable;” after drinking to the dregs the cup of sin and sorrow,
rapt from the world, even he, to be tutelary deity of that land?
Neither Elijah nor Moses was a sinless man; yet Moses, after enduring
righteous punishment, was not, for God took him, and angels buried
him; it was he who led Israel out of Egypt, communed with Jehovah
on Sinai; he appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.
But I would suggest that the poet might have represented suffering
and disappointment, not as penalty apportioned to particular
transgressions, rather as integral elements in that mysterious destiny
which determines the lot of man in his present condition of defect,
moral, physical, and intellectual, involved in his “Hamartia,” or
failure to realize that fulness of being which yet ideally belongs to
him as divine. Both these ideas—the idea of Doom or destiny, and that
of Nemesis on account of voluntary transgression—are alike present
in due equipoise in the great conceptions of Greek drama, as Mr. J.
A. Symonds has conclusively proved in his brilliant, philosophic and
poetic work on the Greek poetry, against the more one-sided contention
of Schlegel. I feel throughout Shakspeare this same idea of mystic
inevitable destiny dominating the lives of men: you may call it, if
you please, the will of God. Yet if it dooms us to error, ignorance,
and crime, at all events this will cannot resemble the wills of men
as they appear to us now. Othello expiates his foolish credulity, and
jealous readiness to suspect her who had given him no cause to doubt
her love. But there was the old fool Brabantio, and the devil Iago;
there were his race, his temperament, his circumstances in general,
and the circumstances of the hour,—all these were toils woven about
him by Fate. Now, if the idea of Destiny be the more accentuated (and
a tragedian surely should make us feel both this, and the free-will of
man), then, as it seems to me, in the interests of Art, which loves
life and harmony, not pure pain, loss, discord, or negation, there
ought to be a purifying or idealizing process manifest in the ordeal
to which the victims are subjected, if not for the protagonists, at
all events for some of those concerned in the action. We must at least
be permitted to behold the spectacle of constancy and fortitude, or
devotion, as we do in Desdemona, Cordelia, Antigone, Iphigenia, Romeo
and Juliet. But the ethical element of free-will is almost exclusively
accentuated by Tennyson; and in such a case we desire to be fully
persuaded that the “poetical justice” dealt out by the poet is really
and radically justice, not a mere provincial or conventional semblance

Yet if you confine your attention to the individual Idylls themselves,
they are undoubtedly most beautiful models of sinewy strength,
touched to consummate grace. There can be nothing more exquisite than
the tender flower-like humanity of dear Elaine, nor more perfect
in pathetic dignity than the Idyll of Guinevere. Vivien is very
powerful; but, as I said, the courtesan appears to me too coarsely and
graphically realized for perfect keeping with the general tone of this
faëry epic. The “Holy Grail” is a wonderful creation in the realm of
the supernatural; all instinct with high spiritual significance, though
some of the invention in this, as in the other Idylls, belongs to Sir
Thomas Mallory. The adventures of the knights, notably of Galahad,
Percivale, and Lancelot, in their quest for the Grail, are splendidly
described. What, again, can be nobler than the parting of Arthur and
Guinevere at Almesbury, where the King forgives and blesses her, she
grovelling repentant before him, the gleaming “dragon of the great
Pendragonship” making a vaporous halo in the night, as Arthur leaves
her, “moving ghost-like to his doom?” Here the scenic element blends
incorporate with the human, but assuredly does not overpower it, as has
been pretended. Then how excellent dramatically are the subordinate
figures of the little nun at Almesbury, and the rustic old monk, with
whom Percivale converses in the Holy Grail; while, if we were to notice
such similes (Homeric in their elaboration, though modern in their
minute fidelity to nature) as that in Enid, which concerns the man
startling the fish in clear water by holding up “a shining hand against
the sun,” or the happy comparison of standing muscle on an arm to a
brook “running too vehemently” over a stone “to break upon it,” our
task would be interminable. The Arthur Idylls are full too of elevating
exemplars for the conduct of life, of such chivalrous traits as
courage, generosity, courtesy, forbearance, consecration, devotion of
life for loyalty and love, service of the weak and oppressed; abounding
also with excellent gnomic sayings inculcating these virtues. What
admirable and delightful ladies are Enid, Elaine, Guinevere! Of the
Laureate’s longer works, this poem and “In Memoriam” are his greatest,
though both of these are composed of many brief song-flights.

It may not be unprofitable to inquire what idea Tennyson probably
intended to symbolize by the “Holy Grail,” and the quest for it. Is it
that of mere supernatural portent? Certainly not. The whole treatment
suggests far more. I used to think it signified the mystical blood of
Christ, the spirit of self-devotion, or, as Mallory defines it, “the
secret of Jesus.” But it scarcely seems possible that Tennyson means
precisely that, for then his ideal man Arthur would not discourage the
quest. Does it not rather stand for that secret of the higher life as
sought in any form of supernatural religion, involving acts of worship
or asceticism, and religious contemplation? Yet Arthur deprecates
not the religious life as such—rather that life in so far as it is
not the auxiliary of human service. It is while pursuing the quest
that Percivale (in the “Holy Grail”) finds all common life, even the
most sacred relations of it, as well as the most ordinary and vulgar,
turn to dust when he touches them; and to a religious fanatic that is
indeed the issue—this life is less than dust to him; he exists for the
future and “supernatural” only; his soul is already in another region
than this homely work-a-day world of ours; and because it is another,
he is only too ready to think it must be higher. What to him are our
politics, our bewilderments, our fair humanities, our art and science,
or schemes of social amelioration? Less than nothing. What he has to
do is to save first his own soul, and then some few souls of others,
if he can. But while, as Arthur himself complained, such an one waits
for the beatific vision, or follows “wandering fires” of superstition,
how often, for men with strength to right the wronged, will “the
chance of noble deeds come and go unchallenged!” Arthur even dares to
call the Holy Grail “a sign to maim this order which I made.” “Many
of you, yea most, return no more.” But, as the Queen laments, “this
madness has come on us for our sins.” Percivale turns monk, Galahad
passes away to the spiritual city, Sir Bors meets Lancelot riding madly
all abroad, and shouting, “Stay me not; I have been the sluggard,
and I ride apace, for now there is a lion in the path!” Lancelot
rides on the quest in order that, through the vision of the Grail,
the sin of which his conscience accuses him may be rooted out of his
heart. And so it was partly the sin—the infidelity to their vows—that
had crept in amongst the knights, which drove the best of them to
expiation, to religious fervors, whereby their sin might be purged,
thus completing the disintegration of that holy human brotherhood,
which had been welded together by Arthur for activities of righteous
and loving endeavor after human welfare. Magnificent is the picture
of the terrible, difficult quest of Lancelot, whose ineradicable sin
hinders him from full enjoyment of the spiritual vision after which he
longs. Nor will Arthur unduly discourage those who have thus in mortal
peril half attained. “Blessed are Bors, Lancelot, and Percivale, for
these have seen according to their sight.” Into his mouth the poet
also puts some beautiful lines on prayer. More indeed may be wrought
for the world by the silent spiritual life, by the truth-seeking
student, by the beauty-loving artist, than is commonly believed.
In worshipping the ideal they bless men. Arthur rebukes Gawain for
light infidel profanity, born only of blind contented immersion in
the slime of sense; while for the others, there was little indeed
of the true religious spirit in their quest. “They followed but the
leader’s bell, for one hath seen, and all the blind will see.” With
them it is mere fashion, and hollow lip-service, or superstitious
fear; a very devil-worship indeed, standing to them too often in the
place of justice, mercy, and plain human duty. Nay, what terrible
crimes have been committed against humanity in the name of this very
religion! Even Percivale only attained to spiritual vision through
the vision of Galahad, whose power of strong faith came upon him, for
he lacked humility, a heavenly virtue too often lacking in the _unco
guid_, as likewise in those raised above their fellows through any
uncommon gifts, whether of body or mind. In the old legends, the sin
of Lancelot himself is represented as consisting quite as much in
personal ambition, over-self-confidence, and pride on the score of his
prowess, as in his adultery with the Queen. Yet the “pure religion and
undefiled” of Galahad and St. Agnes had been long since celebrated
by our poet in two of his loveliest poems. But these sweet children
were not left long to battle for goodness and truth upon the earth;
heaven was waiting for them; though, while he remained, Galahad, who
saw the vision because he was pure in heart, “rode shattering evil
customs everywhere” in the strength of that purity and that vision.
Arthur, however, avers he could not himself have joined in the quest,
because his mission was to mould and guard his kingdom, although, that
done, “let visions come and welcome;” nay, to him the common earth and
air are all vision; and yet he knows himself no vision, nor God, nor
the divine man. To the spiritual, indeed, all is religious, sacred,
sacramental, for they look through the appearance to the reality,
half hidden and half revealed under it. This avowal reminds me of
Wordsworth’s grand passage in the “Ode on Immortality” concerning
“creatures moving about in worlds not realized.” But for men not so far
advanced revelations of the Holy Grail, sacramental observances, and
stated acts of worship, are indeed of highest import and utility. Yet
good, straightforward, modest Sir Bors, who is not over-anxious about
the vision, to him it is for a moment vouchsafed, though Lancelot and
Percivale attain to it with difficulty, and selfish, superstitious
worldlings, with their worse than profitless head-knowledge, bad
hearts, hollow worship of Convention and the Dead Letter, get no
inkling of it at all. This wholesome conviction I trace through many of
the Laureate’s writings. Stylites is not intended to be a flattering,
though it is certainly a veracious portrait of the sanctimonious,
self-depreciating, yet self-worshipping ascetic. The same feeling runs
through “Queen Mary;” and Harold, the honest warrior of unpretending
virtue, is well contrasted with the devout, yet un-English and only
half-kingly confessor, upon whose piety Stigand passes no very
complimentary remarks. So that the recent play which Lord Queensberry
objected to surprises me; for in “Despair” it is theological caricature
of the divine character which is made responsible for the catastrophe
quite as much as Agnosticism, a mere reaction from false belief.
Besides, has not Tennyson sung “There lives more faith in honest doubt,
believe me, than in half the creeds,” and “Power was with him in the
night, which makes the darkness and the light, and dwells not in the
light alone”?

Turning now to the philosophical and elegiac poetry of Tennyson,
one would pronounce the poet to be in the best sense a religious
mystic of deep insight, though fully alive to the claims of activity,
culture, science, and art. It would not be easy to find more
striking philosophical poetry than the lines on “Will,” the “Higher
Pantheism,” “Wages,” “Flower in the Crannied Wall,” the “Two Voices,”
and especially “In Memoriam.” As to “Wages,” it is surely true that
Virtue, even if she seek no rest (and that is a hard saying), does
seek the “wages of going on and still to be.” An able writer in
“To-day” objects to this doctrine. And of course an Agnostic may be,
often is, a much more human person—larger, kinder, sounder—than a
believer. But the truth is, the very feeling that Love and Virtue are
noblest and best involves the implicit intuition of their permanence,
however the understanding may doubt or deny. Again, I find myself
thoroughly at one with the profound teaching of the “Higher Pantheism,”
As for “In Memoriam,” where is the elegiac poetry equal to it in our
language? Gravely the solemn verse confronts problems which, mournful
or ghastly, yet with some far-away light in their eyes, look us men
of this generation in the face, visiting us with dread misgiving or
pathetic hope. From the conference, from the agony, from the battle,
Faith emerges, aged, maimed, and scarred, yet triumphing and serene.
Like every greater poet, Tennyson wears the prophet’s mantle, as he
wears the singer’s bay. Mourners will ever thank him for such words as,
“‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all;”
and, “Let love clasp grief, lest both be drowned;” and, “Our wills are
ours, we know not how; our wills are ours, to make them Thine;” as for
the lines that distinguish Wisdom and Knowledge, commending Wisdom as
mistress, and Knowledge but as handmaid. Every mourner has his favorite
section or particular chapel of the temple-poem, where he prefers to
kneel for worship of the Invisible. Yes, for into the furnace men may
be cast bound and come forth free, having found for companion One whose
form was like the Son of God. Our poet’s conclusion may be foolish and
superstitious, as some would now persuade us; but if he errs, it is in
good company, for he errs with him who sang, “In la sua voluntade e
nostra pace” and with Him who prayed, “Father, not My will, but Thine.”

The range, then, of this poet in all the achievements of his long life
is vast—lyrical, dramatic,[3] narrative, allegoric, philosophical.
Even strong and barbed satire is not wanting, as in “Sea-Dreams,” the
fierce verses to Bulwer, “The Spiteful Letter.” Of the most varied
measures he is master, as of the richest and most copious vocabulary.
Only in the sonnet form, perhaps, does his genius not move with so
royal a port, so assured a superiority over all rivals. I have seen
sonnets even by other living English writers that appeared to me more
striking; notably, fine sonnets by Mr. J. A. Symonds, Mr. Theodore
Watts, Mrs. Pfeiffer, Miss Blind. But surely Tennyson must have written
very little indifferent poetry when you think of the fuss made by his
detractors over the rather poor verses beginning “I stood on a tower in
the wet,” and the somewhat insignificant series entitled “The Window.”
For “The Victim” appears to me exceedingly good. Talk of daintiness
and prettiness! Yes; but it is the lambent, water-waved damascening
on a Saladin’s blade; it is the rich enchasement on a Cœur de Lion’s
armor. Amid the soul-subduing spaces, and tall forested piers of that
cathedral by Rhine, there are long jewelled flames for window, and
embalmed kings lie shrined in gold, with gems all over it like eyes.
While Tennyson must loyally be recognized as the Arthur or Lancelot
of modern English verse, even by those among us who believe that
their own work in poetry cannot fairly be damned as “minor,” while he
need fear the enthronement of no younger rival near him, the poetic
standard he has established is in all respects so high that poets who
love their art must needs glory in such a leader and such an example,
though pretenders may verily be shamed into silence, and Marsyas cease
henceforward to contend with Apollo.—_Contemporary Review._



    Little snatch of ancient song
    What has made thee live so long?
    Flying on thy wings of rhyme
    Lightly down the depths of time,
    Telling nothing strange or rare,
    Scarce a thought or image there,
    Nothing but the old, old tale
    Of a hapless lover’s wail;
    Offspring of some idle hour,
    Whence has come thy lasting power?
    By what turn of rhythm or phrase,
    By what subtle, careless grace
    Can thy music charm our ears
    After full three hundred years?

    Little song, since thou wert born
    In the Reformation morn,
    How much great has past away,
    Shattered or by slow decay!
    Stately piles in ruins crumbled,
    Lordly houses lost or humbled.
    Thrones and realms in darkness hurled,
    Noble flags forever furled,
    Wisest schemes by statesmen spun,
    Time has seen them one by one
    Like the leaves of autumn fall—
    A little song outlives them all.

    There were mighty scholars then
    With the slow, laborious pen
    Piling up their works of learning,
    Men of solid, deep discerning,
    Widely famous as they taught
    Systems of connected thought,
    Destined for all future ages;
    Now the cobweb binds their pages,
    All unread their volumes lie
    Mouldering so peaceably,
    Coffined thoughts of coffined men.
    Never more to stir again
    In the passion and the strife,
    In the fleeting forms of life;
    All their force and meaning gone
    As the stream of thought flows on.

    Art thou weary, little song,
    Flying through the world so long?
    Canst thou on thy fairy pinions
    Cleave the future’s dark dominions?
    And with music soft and clear
    Charm the yet unfashioned ear,
    Mingling with the things unborn
    When perchance another morn
    Great as that which gave thee birth
    Dawns upon the changing earth?
    It may be so, for all around
    With a heavy crashing sound
    Like the ice of polar seas
    Melting in the summer breeze,
    Signs of change are gathering fast,
    Nations breaking with their past.

    The pulse of thought is beating quicker,
    The lamp of faith begins to flicker,
    The ancient reverence decays
    With forms and types of other days;
    And old beliefs grow faint and few
    As knowledge moulds the world anew,
    And scatters far and wide the seeds
    Of other hopes and other creeds;
    And all in vain we seek to trace
    The fortunes of the coming race,
    Some with fear and some with hope,
    None can cast its horoscope.
    Vap’rous lamp or rising star,
    Many a light is seen afar,
    And dim shapeless figures loom
    All around us in the gloom—
    Forces that may rise and reign
    As the old ideals wane.

    Landmarks of the human mind,
    One by one are left behind,
    And a subtle change is wrought
    In the mould and cast of thought,
    Modes of reasoning pass away,
    Types of beauty lose their sway,
    Creeds and causes that have made
    Many noble lives, must fade;
    And the words that thrilled of old
    Now seem hueless, dead, and cold;
    Fancy’s rainbow tints are flying,
    Thoughts, like men, are slowly dying;
    All things perish, and the strongest
    Often do not last the longest;
    The stately ship is seen no more,
    The fragile skiff attains the shore;
    And while the great and wise decay,
    And all their trophies pass away,
    Some sudden thought, some careless rhyme
    Still floats above the wrecks of time.

                     _Macmillan’s Magazine._


[1] But the loveliest lyrics of Tennyson do not suggest labor. I do not
say that, like Beethoven’s music, or Heine’s songs, they may not be the
result of it. But they, like all supreme artistic work, “conceal,” not
obtrude Art; if they are not spontaneous, they produce the effect of
spontaneity, not artifice. They impress the reader also with the power,
for which no technical skill can be a substitute, of sincere feeling,
and profound realization of their subject-matter.

[2] Mr. Alfred Austin, himself a true poet and critic, has long ago
repented of _his_ juvenile escapade in criticism, and made ample amends
to the Poet-Laureate in a very able article published not long since in
_Macmillan’s Magazine_.

[3] I have just read the Laureate’s new plays. They are, like all his
best things, brief: “dramatic fragments,” one may even call them.
“The Cup” was admirably interpreted, and scenically rendered under
the auspices of Mr. Irving and Miss Ellen Terry; but it is itself a
precious addition to the stores of English tragedy—all movement and
action, intense, heroic, steadily rising to a most impressive climax,
that makes a memorable picture on the stage. Camma, though painted only
with a few telling strokes, is a splendid heroine of antique virtue,
fortitude, and self-devotion. “The Falcon” is a truly graceful and
charming acquisition to the repertory of lighter English drama.



What is the difference between an English and an American audience?
That is a question which has frequently been put to me, and which I
have always found it difficult to answer. The points of dissimilarity
are simply those arising from people of a common origin living under
conditions often widely different. It is, therefore, only possible for
me to indicate such traits in the bearing of the American playgoer as
have come under my own personal notice, and impressed me with a sense
of unfamiliarity.

Every American town, great or small, has—I believe, without
exception—its theatre and its church, and when a new town is about to
be built, the sites for a place of amusement and a place of worship are
invariably those first selected. As an instance, take Pullman, which
lies some sixteen miles from Chicago, pleasantly situated on the banks
of the Calumet Lake. The original design of this little city, which is
almost ideal in its organization, and has the enviable reputation of
being absolutely perfect in its sanitation, was conceived on the lines
just mentioned. Denver City, which is a growth almost abnormal even in
an age and country of abnormal progress, has a theatre, which is said
to be one of the finest in America. Boston, with its old civilization,
boasts seventeen theatres, or buildings in which plays are given; New
York possesses no less than twenty-eight regular theatres, besides a
host of smaller ones; and Chicago, whose very foundations are younger
than the beards of some men of thirty, has, according to a printed
list, over twenty theatres, all of which seem to flourish. The number
of theatres in America and the influence they exercise constitute
important elements in the national life. This great multiplication of
dramatic possibilities renders it necessary to take a very wide and
general view, if one wishes to get a distinct impression as to how
audiences here differ from those at home. So at least it must seem to a
player, who can only find comparison possible when points of difference
suggest themselves. For a proper understanding of such difference in
audiences, we must ascertain wherein consist the differences of the
theatres which they frequent, both in architectural construction,
social arrangement, and that habit of management which is a natural

By the enactments of the various States regulating the structure and
conduct of places of amusement, full provision for the comfort and
safety of the audience is insisted on. It is directed that the back
of the auditorium should open by adequate doors directly upon the main
passage or vestibule, and that through the centre of the floor should
run an aisle right down to the orchestra rail. Thus the floor of the
house is easy of access and exit, is generally of large expanse, and
capable of containing half, or more than half, of the entire audience.
It is usually divided into two parts—the orchestra or parquet, and the
orchestra or parquet circle—the latter being a zone running around the
former and covered by the projection of the first gallery. The floor
of an American theatre is, as a rule, on a more inclined plane than is
customary in English theatres, and there is a good view of the stage
from every part. Outside the parquet circle, and within the inner wall
of the building, is usually a wide passage where many persons can
stand. Thus in most houses there is a great elasticity in the holding
power, which at times adds not a little to the managerial success.
I cannot but think that in several respects we have much to learn
from our American cousins in the construction and arrangement of the
auditorium of the theatre; on the other hand, they might study with
advantage our equipment behind the proscenium.

It is perhaps due to the sentiment and tradition of personal equality
in the nation, that the entire stream often turns to one portion of
the house, in a way somewhat odd to those accustomed as we are in
England to the separating force of social grades. To the great majority
of persons, only one part of the theatre is eminently eligible, and
other portions are mainly sought when the floor is occupied. The very
willingness with which the public acquiesce in certain discomforts
or annoyances attendant on visiting the theatre, would seem to
show that the drama is an integral portion of their daily life. It
cannot be denied by any one cognizant of the working of American
theatres that there are certain facts or customs which must discount
enjoyment. Before a visitor is in a position to settle comfortably
to the reception of a play, he must, as a rule, experience many
inconveniences. In the first place he has in some States to submit to
the exactions of the ticket speculator or “scalper,” who, through
defective State laws, is generally able to buy tickets in bulk, and
to retail them at an exorbitant rate. I have known of instances where
tickets of the full value of three dollars were paid for by the public
at the average rate of ten or twelve dollars. Then, through the high
price of labor, which in most American institutions causes employers
to so dispose of their forces as to minimize service, the attendance
in the front of the house is, I am told, often inadequate. Were it not
for the orderly disposition and habit of the public, trained by the
custom of equal rights to stand, and move _en queue_, it would not be
possible to admit and seat the audience in the interval between the
opening of the doors and the commencement of the performance. Thus the
public are somewhat “hustled,” and from one cause or another too often
reach their seats after having endured much annoyance with a patient
submission which speaks volumes for their law-abiding nature; but which
must sorely disturb that reposeful spirit which the actor may consider
essential to a due enjoyment of the play.

Once in his seat the American playgoer does not, as a rule, leave it
until the performance is at an end. The percentage of persons who
move about during the _entr’acte_ is, when compared with that in
England, exceedingly small, and sinks into complete insignificance when
contrasted with the exodus to the _foyer_ customary in continental
theatres. In the equipment of the American theatre there is one
omission which will surprise us at home—that of the bar, or refreshment
room. In not a single theatre that I can call to mind in America have
I found provision made for drinking. It is not by any means that the
average playgoer is a teetotaler, but that, if he wishes or needs to
drink during the evening, he does it as he does during the hours of
his working life, and not as a necessary concomitant to the enjoyment
of his leisure hours. Two other things are noticeable: first, that the
audiences are sometimes very unpunctual, and to suit the audiences
the managers sometimes delay beginning. The audience depend on this
delay, and the consequence frequently is, that a first act is entirely
disturbed by their entry; secondly, that, after the play, it is a
custom, in a degree unknown in any European capital, to adjourn to
various restaurants for supper.

As the audience _en bloc_ remain seated, so the length of the
performance must be taken into account by managers; and commonly
two hours and a half is considered the maximum length to which a
performance should run, though I must say that we have at times
sinned by keeping our audiences seated until eleven o’clock, and it
has been even later. Of course in this branch of the subject must be
also considered the difficulty of reaching their homes experienced by
audiences in cities whose liberal arrangements of space, and absence
of cheap cabs, renders necessary a due regard to time. In matter of
duration, however, the audience is not to be trifled with or imposed
on. I have heard of a case in a city of Colorado where the manager of
a travelling company, on the last night of an engagement, in order to
catch a through train, hurried the ordinary performance of his play
into an hour and a half. When next the company were coming to the city
they were met _en route_, some fifty miles out, by the sheriff, who
warned them to pass on by some other way, as their coming was awaited
by a large section of the able-bodied male population armed with shot
guns. The company did not, I am informed, on that occasion visit the
city. I may here mention that in America the dramatic season lasts
about eight months—from the beginning of the “fall” in September till
the hot weather commences in April. During this period the theatres are
kept busy, as there are performances on the evenings of every week day,
and in the South and West on Sunday evening also, whilst matinées are
given every Saturday, and in a large number of cases every Wednesday.
In certain places even the afternoon of Sunday sees a performance.
It is a fact, somewhat amusing at first, that in nearly all towns of
comparatively minor importance the theatre is known as the Opera House.

I have dwelt on the external condition of the American audiences in
order to explain the condition antecedent to the actor’s appearance.
The differences between various audiences are so minute that some such
insight seems necessary to enable one to recognise and understand them.
An actor in the ordinary course of his work can only partially at best
realise such differences as there may be, much less attempt to state
them explicitly. His first experience before a strange audience is the
discovery whether or not he is _en rapport_ with them. This, however,
he can most surely feel, though he cannot always give a reason for the
feeling. As there is, in the occurrences of daily life, a conveyance
other than by words of meaning, of sentiment, or of understanding
between different individuals, so there is a carriage of mutual
understanding or reciprocity of sentiment between the stage and the
auditorium. The emotion which an actor may feel, or which his art may
empower him successfully to simulate, can be conveyed over the floats
in some way which neither actor nor audience may be able to explain;
and the reciprocation of such emotion can be as surely manifested by
the audience by more subtle and unconscious ways than overt applause or
otherwise. It must be remembered that the opportunities which I have
had of observing audiences have been almost entirely from my own stage.
Little facility of wider observation is afforded to a man who plays
seven performances each week and fills up most of the blank mornings
with rehearsal or travel. I only put forward what I feel or believe.
Such belief is based on the opportunities I have had of observation or
of following out the experience of others.

The dominant characteristic of the American audience seems to be
impartiality. They do not sit in judgment, resenting as positive
offences lack of power to convey meanings or divergence of
interpretation of particular character or scene. I understand that
when they do not like a performance they simply go away, so that at
the close of the evening the silence of a deserted house gives to the
management a verdict more potent than audible condemnation. This does
not apply to questions of morals, which can be, and are, as quickly
judged here as elsewhere. On this subject I give entirely the evidence
of others, for it has been my good fortune to see our audiences seated
till the final falling of the curtain. Again, there is a kindly
feeling on the part of the audience towards the actor as an individual,
especially if he be not a complete stranger, which is, I presume,
a part of that recognition of individuality which is so striking a
characteristic in American life and customs. Many an actor draws
habitually a portion of his audience, not in consequence of artistic
merit, not from capacity to arouse or excite emotion, but simply
because there is something in his personality which they like. This
spirit forcibly reminds me of the story told of the manager of one of
the old “Circuits,” who gave as a reason for the continued engagement
of an impossibly bad actor, that “he was kind to his mother.” The
thorough enjoyment of the audience is another point to be noticed. Not
only are they quick to understand and appreciate, but there seems to be
a genuine pleasure in the expression of approval. American audiences
are not surpassed in quickness and completeness of comprehension by any
that I have yet seen, and no actor need fear to make his strongest or
his most subtle effort, for such is sure to receive instant and full
acknowledgment at their hands.

There is little more than this to be said of the American audience.
But short though the record is, the impression upon the player himself
is profound and abiding. To describe what one sees and hears over the
footlights is infinitely easier than to convey an idea of the mental
disposition and feeling of the spectators. The house is ample and
comfortable, and the audience is well-disposed to be pleased. Ladies
and gentlemen alike are mostly in morning dress, distinguished in
appearance, and guided in every respect by a refined decorum. The
sight is generally picturesque. Even in winter flowers abound, and the
majority of ladies have bouquets either carried in the hand or fastened
on the shoulder or corsage. At matinée performances especially, where
the larger proportion of the audience is composed of ladies, the
effect is not less pleasing to the olfactory senses than to the eye.
Courteous, patient, enthusiastic, the American audience is worthy of
any effort which the actor can make on its behalf, and he who has had
experience of them would be an untrustworthy chronicler if he failed,
or even hesitated, to bear witness to their intelligence, their taste
and their generosity.—_Fortnightly Review._



Among all the signal inventions, discoveries, and improvements of the
age, social and material, scientific and mechanical, few, perhaps,
are fraught with graver possibilities for good and evil than the
great achievement of recent medicine—the development, if it should
not more properly be called the discovery, of anæsthetics. Steam has
revolutionized mechanics; the locomotive, the steam-hammer, and the
power-loom, the creation of the railway and the factory system, have
essentially modified social as well as material civilization; and it
is possible at least that electric lights and motors, telegraphs and
telephones, may produce yet greater consequences. This last century
has been signalized by greater mechanical achievements than the
whole historic period since the discovery of iron. But in obvious,
immediate influence on human happiness, it is quite conceivable that
the discovery of chloroform, ether, and other anæsthetics—the diffusion
of chloral, opium, and other narcotics, putting them within the reach
of every individual, at the command of men and women, almost of
children, independently of medical advice or sanction—may be, for a
time at least, more important than those inventions which have changed
the fundamental conditions of industry, or those which may yet change
them once more. It is difficult for the rising generation to realize
that state of medicine, and especially of surgery, which old men can
well remember; when every operation, from the extraction of a bad
tooth to the removal of a limb, must be performed upon patients in
full possession of their senses. In those days the horror with which
men and women, uninfluenced by scientific enthusiasm, now regard the
alleged tortures of vivisection was hardly possible. Thousands of
human beings had yearly to undergo—every man, woman, and child might
have to undergo—agonies quite as terrible as any that the most ardent
advocate of the rights of animals, the most vivid imagination excited
by fear for dearly loved dumb companions, ascribes to the vivisector’s
knife. It may well be doubted whether the highest brutes are capable
of suffering any pain comparable with that of hardy soldiers or
seamen—much less with that of sensitive, nervous men, and delicate
women—when the surgeon’s blade cut through living, often inflamed
tissues, generally rendered infinitely more sensitive by previous
disease or injury, while the brain was fully, intensely conscious;
every nerve quivering with even exaggerated sensibility. The brutes, at
any rate, are spared the long agony of anticipation, and at least half
the tortures of memory. They may fear for a few minutes; our fathers
and mothers lay in terror for hours and days, nay, persons of vivid
imagination must have suffered acutely through half a lifetime, in the
expectation that, soon or late, their only choice might lie between
excruciating temporary torture and a death of lingering hopeless
anguish. No gift of God, perhaps, has been so precious, no effort of
human intellect has done more to lessen human suffering and fear, to
take from life much of its darkest evil and horror, than anæsthesia
as developed during the last fifty years. True that in the case of
severe operations it is as yet beyond the power of medicine to give
complete relief. If spared the torture of the operation, the patient
has yet to endure the cruel smart that the knife leaves behind. But the
relief of previous terror, of the awful, unspeakable, and, to those who
never felt it, almost inconceivable agony endured while the flesh was
carved, and the bone sawn, have disappeared from the sick room and the

Narcotics should be carefully distinguished from anæsthetics. Their
use is different, not in degree only, but in character and purpose.
Their legitimate object is two-fold: primarily, in a limited number
of cases, to relieve or mitigate pain temporarily or permanently
incurable; but secondarily and principally to cure what to a large
and constantly increasing class in every civilized country is among
the severest trials attendant on sickness, over-work, or nervous
excitement—that loss of sleep which is a terrible affliction in itself,
and aggravates, much more than inexperience would suppose, every form
of suffering with which it is connected. Nature mercifully intended
that prolonged intolerable pain should of itself bring the relief of
sleep or swooning; and primitive races like the Red Indian, living in
the open air, with dull imagination and insensible nerves, still find
such relief. The victims of Mohawk and Huron tortures have been known,
during a brief intermission of agony, to sleep at the stake till fire
was used to awaken them. But among the many drawbacks of civilized
life must be counted the tendency of artificial conditions to defeat
some of Nature’s most merciful provisions. The nerves of civilized
men are too sensitive, the brains developed by hereditary culture and
constant exercise are too restless, to obtain from sleep that relief
in pain, especially prolonged pain, that nature apparently intended.
Many of us, even in sleep, are keenly sensitive to suffering, at least
to chronic as distinguished from acute pain, to dull protracted pangs
like those of rheumatism, ear-ache, or tooth-ache. A little sharper
pain, and sleep becomes impossible. The sufferer is not only deprived
of the respite that slumber should afford, but insomnia itself enhances
his sensibility, besides adding a new and terrible torment of its own.
Artificial prevention of sleep was notoriously among the most cruel
and the most certainly mortal of mediæval or barbaric tortures. The
sensations of one who has not slept for several nights, beginning with
a restless, unnatural, constantly increasing consciousness of the
brain, its existence and its action, passing by degrees into an acute,
unendurably distressing irritation of that organ—generally unconscious
or insensible, probably because its habitual sensibility would be
intolerable—are indescribable, unimaginable by those who have not felt
them; and seem to be proportionate to the activity of the intellect,
the susceptibility of nerve and vitality of temperament—the capacity
for pain and pleasure. In a word, the finer the physical and nervous
character, the more terrible the torment of sleeplessness. A little
more and the patient is confronted with one of the most frightful
forms of pain and terror, the consciousness of incipient insanity. But
long before reaching this stage, sleeplessness exaggerates pain and
weakens the power of endurance, quickens the sensibility of the nerves,
enfeebles the will, exacerbates the temper, produces a physical and
nervous irritability which to an observer unacquainted with the cause
seems irrational, unaccountable, extravagant, even frantic, but which
afflicts the patient incomparably more than those, however near and
however sensitive, on whom it is vented. Drugs, then, which enable the
physician in most cases to check insomnia at an early stage—to secure,
for example, in a case of chronic pain, six or seven hours of complete
repose out of the twenty-four, to arrest a mischief which leads by
the shortest and most painful route directly to insanity—are simply

It may seem a paradox, it is a truism, to say that in their value
lies their peril. Because they have such power for good, because the
suffering they relieve is in its lighter forms so common, because
neuralgia and sleeplessness are ailments as familiar to the present
generation as gout, rheumatism, catarrh to our grandfathers, therefore
the medicines which immediately relieve sleeplessness and neuralgic
pain are among the most dangerous possessions, the most subtle
temptations, of civilized and especially of intellectual life. Every
one of these drugs has, besides its immediate and beneficial effect,
other and injurious tendencies. The relief which it gives is purchased
at a certain price; and in every instance the relief is lessened
or rendered uncertain, the mischievous influence is enhanced and
aggravated by repetition; till, when the use has become habitual, it
has become pure abuse, when the drug has become a necessity of life
it has lost the greater part if not the whole of its value, and serves
only to satisfy the need which itself alone has created. Contrary
to popular tradition, we believe that of popular narcotics opium is
on the whole, if the most seductive, the least injurious; chloral,
which at first passed for being almost harmless, is probably the most
noxious of all, having both chemical and vital effects which approach
if they do not amount to blood-poisoning. It is said (we do not
affirm with what truth) that the subsequent administration of half a
teaspoonful of a common alkali operates as an antidote to some of these
specific effects. The bromide of potash, another favorite, especially
with women, is less, perhaps, a narcotic proper than a sedative. It
is said not to produce sleep directly, like chloral or opium, by
stupefaction, but at least in small doses simply to allay the nervous
irritability which is often the sole cause of sleeplessness. But in
larger quantities and in its ultimate effects it is scarcely less to
be dreaded than chloral. It has been recommended as a potent, indeed
a specific and the only specific, remedy for sea-sickness. But the
state to which, as its advocate allows, the patient must be reduced, a
state of complete nervous subjection to the power of the drug, seems
worse than the disease, save in its most cruel and dangerous forms.
Such points, however, may be left to the chemist, the physician, or
the physiologist; our purpose is rather to indicate briefly the social
aspects of the subject, the social causes, conditions, and consequences
of that narcotism which is, if not yet a prevalent, certainly a
rapidly-spreading habit.

The desire or craving for stimulants in the most general sense of the
word—for drugs acting upon the nerves whether as excitant or sedative
agents—is an almost if not absolutely universal human appetite; so
general, so early developed, that we might almost call it an instinct.
Alcohol, of course, is the most popular, under ordinary circumstances
the most seductive, and by far the most widely diffused of all
stimulant substances. From the Euphrates to the Straits of Dover, the
vine has been from the earliest ages second only to corn in popular
estimation; wine, next to bread, the most prized and most universal
article of human food. The connection between _Ceres_ and _Bacchus_
is found in almost every language as in the social life of every
nation, from the warlike Assyrian monarchy, the stable hierocratic
despotism of Egypt, to the modern French Republic and German Empire.
Corn itself has furnished stimulant second in popularity to wine alone;
the spirit which delighted the fiercer, sterner races of Northern
Europe—Swede, Norwegian, and Dane, St. Olaf, and Harold Hardrada,
as their descendants of to-day; and the ale of our own Saxon and
Scandinavian ancestry, which neither spirit, cider, nor Spanish wine
has superseded among ourselves. The vine, again, seems to have been
native to America; but the civilized or semi-civilized races of the
southern and central part of the Western Continent had other more
popular and more peculiar stimulants, also for the most part alcoholic.
The palm, again, has furnished to African and Asiatic tribes a spirit
not less potent or less noxious, not less popular and probably not
less primitive, than whiskey or beer. But where alcohol has been
unknown, among races to whose habits and temperament it was alien, or
in climates where so powerful an excitant produced effects too palpably
alarming to be tolerated by rulers or law-givers royal or priestly,
other and milder stimulants or sedatives are found in equally universal
use. Till the white man introduced among them his own destructive
beverages, till the “fire-water” spread demoralization and disease,
tobacco was the favorite indulgence of the Red Indian of North America,
and very probably of that mighty race which preceded them and seems to
have disappeared before they came upon the scene—the Mound-builders,
whose gigantic works bear testimony to the existence of an agriculture
scarcely less advanced or less prolific, a despotism probably not less
absolute than that of Egypt. Coffee has for ages been almost equally
dear to the Arabs; tea has been to China all that wine is and was to
Europe, probably from a still earlier period, and has taken hold on
the Northern, as coffee and tobacco upon the Southern, branches of
the Tartar race. Opium, or drugs resembling opium in character, have
been found as well suited to the temper, as delightful to the taste,
of the quieter and more passive Oriental races as wine to the Aryan
and Semitic nations. The Malays, the Vikings of the East Indies, found
in _bhang_ a drug the most exciting and maddening in its effects of
any known to civilized or uncivilized man; a substitute for opium or
haschisch bearing much the same relation to those sedatives as brandy
or whiskey to the light wines of Southern Europe.

The craving, then, is not artificial but natural; is not, as
teetotalers fancy, for alcohol alone or primarily, but for some form
of nervous excitement or sedative _specially_ suited to climate or
race. Tea, coffee, and tobacco, opium, haschisch and bhang, _mata_ and
_tembe_, are probably as old as wine, older than beer, and take just
as strong a hold upon the national taste. The desire testifies to a
felt and almost universal want; and the attempt to put down a habit
proved by universal and immemorial practice to answer to a need, real
and absolute—or if artificial easily created and permanent, if not
ineradicable, beyond any other artificial craving or habit—seems doomed
to failure; the desire not being for this or that stimulant, for wine
or alcohol, but for some agent that gives a special satisfaction to the
nerves, some stimulant, sedative or astringent. The discouragement of
one form of indulgence, especially if that discouragement be artificial
or forcible, not moral and voluntary, can hardly have any other result
than to drive the votaries of alcohol, for example, upon opium, or
those of opium upon some form of alcohol. Tea, coffee, and tobacco have
done infinitely more than teetotal and temperance preaching of every
kind to diminish the European consumption of wine, beer, and spirits.
Men and even women never have been and never will be content with water
or milk, or even with the unfermented juices of fruits; to say nothing
of the extreme difficulty of preserving unfermented juices in those
warmer climates to which they are best adapted.

It seems, however, that the natural craving, especially among women,
or men not subject to the fiercer excitements of war, hunting, and
open air life in general, is not for the stronger but for the milder
stimulants. Ale was the favorite beverage of England, light wine of
Southern Europe, till the Saracen invasion, the crusades, and finally
the extension of commerce, familiarised the Western Aryans with the
non-intoxicant stimulants of the East, and the discovery of America
introduced tobacco. But the use of tea and coffee is not less, we might
say, is more distinctly artificial than that of beer or wine. The taste
for tobacco, as its confinement in so many countries and to so great an
extent to one sex proves, is the most artificial of all.

It is plain, both from the climates and the character of the races
among whom the sedative drugs or slightly-stimulant beverages have
first and most widely taken root, that the preference for sedatives or
gentle excitants is not accidental, but to a large extent dependent
upon the temperament and habits of races or nations. Alcohol suits
the higher, more energetic, active, militant races; and the fiercer
and more militant the temper or habits, the stronger the intoxicant
employed. It is not improbable that the first and strongest incitement
to the use of alcohol, as of bhang, was the desire for that which a
very unfair and ungenerous national taunt describes as Dutch courage.
No race, probably, except their nearest kinsmen of England, was ever
less dependent on the artificial boldness produced by stimulants than
the stubborn soldiers and seamen of Holland. The beer-loving Teutons
have never been, like the wine-drinkers of France, Italy, and Spain,
a military, or even, like the Scandinavians, a thoroughly martial
race. They will fight: none, Scandinavians, Soudanese, and Turks
perhaps excepted, fight better or more stubbornly. It may well be that
the adventurous, enterprising spirit of Englishmen and Scotchmen,
displayed at sea rather than on land, and in semi-pacific quite as
much as in warlike enterprise, is derived in large measure from the
strong Scandinavian element in our national blood. The tea-drinking
Chinamen, the Oriental lovers of haschisch and opium, have mostly been
industrious rather than energetic, agricultural or pastoral rather
than predatory. The coffee-drinking Arabs were not, till the days of
Mahomet, a specially warlike race. Bandits or guerillas they were
perforce; like every people which inhabits a country whose mountains
or deserts afford a safe refuge to robbers but promise no reward to
peaceful industry. No race, no class living in the open air, save in
the warmer climates, no people given to energetic muscular labor or
devoted to war, would be prompt to abandon alcohol in any of its forms
for its milder Oriental equivalents. Tea and coffee were introduced
at a time when manufactures and in-door-life were gaining ground in
Western Europe and found favor first, as is still the case, with the
indoor-living sex. It is still among indoor workers that they are most
in vogue. But if, as seems likely, alcohol was first adopted by the
warriors of savage or semi-savage races as an inspiring or hardening
force, it early lost this character with the introduction of strict
military discipline on the one hand or of chivalry on the other.
Neither the trained soldier of the phalanx and the legion, nor the
knight with whom reckless but also intelligent courage was a point of
honor, could find any help in intoxication, partial or total; nay, he
soon found that while the first excitement of alcohol was fatal to
discipline, its subsequent effects were almost as injurious to the
persevering, steadfast kind of courage in which he put his pride.
Wine or brandy, then, came to be the indulgence of peace and triumph,
not of war; wassail followed on victory, sobriety was necessary till
the victory was won. But still it has always been on the sterner,
fiercer, more energetic races that alcohol, and especially the stronger
forms of alcohol, retained their hold. It is to the passive, quiet,
reflective temperaments—national or individual, peculiar to classes or
to crafts—that tea or coffee, opium or haschisch, substances that calm
rather than excite the nerves, have always proved strongly and often
dangerously attractive.

Now it may be urged with plausibility, and perhaps with truth, that
civilization and intellectual culture, the exchange of out-door for
in-door life, the influences that have rendered intelligence and
dexterity of more practical value than corporeal strength, tend in some
sense and in some measure to Orientalize the most advanced European
races. We are not, perhaps, less daring or less enterprising than
our fathers; but there is a large and ever increasing class to which
strenuous physical exertion is neither habitual nor agreeable. We are
unquestionably becoming sedentary; we work much more with our brains,
much less with our muscles, than heretofore. With this change has come
a decided change of feeling and tastes. We shrink from the fierce
excitement, the violent moral stimulants that delighted ruder and
less sensitive races and generations. The gladiatorial shows of Rome,
the savage sports and public punishments of the Middle Ages, would be
simply revolting to the great majority of almost every European nation
of to-day; not primarily because as thoughtful Christians we deem them
wicked, but because, instinctively, as sensitive men and women in whom
imagination and sympathy are strong, we shudder at them as brutal.
Prize-fights, bear-baiting, bull-fights have become too rough, too
coarse, but above all too exciting; the hideous tragedies of old have
ceased to suit the taste at least of our cultivated classes. In one
word, our nerves are far too sensitive to crave for strong and violent
excitement, moral or physical; it is painful rather than pleasurable.
The sobriety of the educated classes is due much less to moral than
to social causes. It is not that strong wines and spirits are so much
more injurious to us than to our grandsires, nor that we have learned
in fifty years to think intoxication sinful; rather we have come to
despise it, and to dislike its means, because we have ceased to feel or
understand the craving for such violent stimulation, because not merely
the reaction but the excitement itself gives more pain than pleasure.

In the case of our American kinsmen climate has very much to do
with the matter. A dry, keen, exhilarating air as well as an
intense nervous sensibility renders powerful alcoholic stimulants
unnecessary, over-exciting, unpleasant as well as injurious. Partly
from temperament, a temperament which in itself must be largely the
result of climate, partly from the direct influence of their drier,
keener atmosphere, American women feel no need of alcohol; American men
who do indulge in it, rather as a relief from brain excitement than as
an excitant itself, suffer far more than we do from the indulgence.
The number of drunkards or hard-drinkers in the older States is, we
believe, very much smaller than in England, even at the present day.
But the proportion of lunatics made by drink seems to be much larger.
In America alone teetotalism has been the serious object of social and
legislative coercion. The Maine Liquor Law failed; but it is enforced
in garrisons and colleges, while in many States social feeling and
sectarian discipline forbid wine and spirits to women and clergymen,
and habitual indulgence therein, however moderate, is hardly compatible
with a high reputation for religious principle or strict morality.
But this case, like that of the early Mahometans, is the case of a
people whose climate is unsuited to alcohol; whose very atmosphere is a

In a word, the craving of to-day, moral and physical, especially among
the cultivated classes, among the brain-workers, among those of the
softer sex and of the _fruges consumere nati_, who are almost entirely
relieved from physical labor, is for mild prolonged stimulation, and
for stimulation which does not produce a strong reaction; or else
for sedatives which will allay the sleepless excitement produced by
over-work, or yet oftener, perhaps, by reckless pursuit of pleasure.

It seems, then, not unnatural or improbable that, as tea and coffee
have so largely taken the place of beer or light wine as beverages, so
narcotics should take the place of stronger alcoholic stimulants. That
this has been the case in certain quarters is well known to physicians,
and to most of those who have that experience of life in virtue of
which it is said, “every man of forty must be a physician or a fool.”
Nay, it is difficult to read the newspapers and remain ignorant or
doubtful of the fact. We read weekly of men and women poisoned by an
over-dose of some favorite sedative, burnt to death, or otherwise
fatally injured while insensible from self-administered ether or
chloroform. For one fatal case that finds its way into the newspapers
there are, of course, twenty fatal in a different sense—fatal, not
to life, but to life’s use and happiness—that are never known beyond
the family circle, into which they have introduced unspeakable and
often almost unlimited sorrow and evil; unlimited, for no one can be
sure, few can reasonably hope, that the mischief will be confined to
the individual victim of a dangerous craving. That the children of
drunkards are often pre-disposed to insanity is notorious; that the
children of habitual opium-eaters or narcotists inherit an unmistakable
taint, whether in a diseased brain, in diseased cravings, or simply in
a will too weak to resist temptation of any kind, is less notorious but
equally certain. Of these secondary victims of chloral or opium there
are not as yet many; but many fathers and mothers—fathers, perhaps,
who for the sake of wives and children have overtaxed their brains
till nothing but either the rest which circumstances and family claims
forbid, or drugs, will give them the sleep necessary to the continuance
of their work; mothers, too commonly, who begin by neglecting their
children in the pursuit of pleasure, to end by poisoning their
unborn offspring in the struggle to escape the consequences of
that pursuit—are preparing untold misery and mischief for a future
generation. Happily, narcotism is not the temptation of the young or
energetic. It is later in life, when the effect of years of brain
excitement of whatever nature begins to tell, and generally after the
period in which the greater number of children are born, that men and
women give way to this peculiar temptation of the present age.

The immediate danger to themselves is sufficiently alarming, if only
it were ever realized in time. The narcotist keeps chloroform or
chloral always at hand, forgetful or ignorant that one sure effect of
the first dose is to produce a semi-stupor more dangerous than actual
somnolence. In that semi-stupor the patient is aware, or fancies
that the dose has failed. The pain that has induced a lady to hold a
chloroformed handkerchief under her nostrils returns while her will
and her judgment are half paralysed. She takes the bottle from the
table beside her bed, intending to pour an additional supply on the
handkerchief. The unsteady hand perhaps spills a quantity on the sheet,
perhaps sinks with the unstoppered bottle under her nostrils; and in a
few moments she has inhaled enough utterly to stupefy if not to kill.
The vapor, moreover, is inflammable; perhaps it catches the candle
by her side; and she is burnt to death while powerless to move. The
sleepless brain-worker also feels that his usual dose of chloral has
failed to bring sleep; he is not aware how completely it has stupefied
the brain, to which it has not given rest. His judgment is gone, so is
his steadiness of hand; and, whether intentionally or not, at any rate
unconsciously, so far as reasoning and judgment are concerned, he pours
out a second and too often a fatal dose. Any one who knows how great is
the stupefying power of these drugs, how often they produce a sort of
moral coma without paralysing the lower functions of animal or even of
mental life, would, one might suppose, at least take care to be in bed
before the drug takes effect, and if possible to put it out of reach
till next morning. But experience shows how seldom even this obvious
and essential precaution is taken.

The cases that end in a death terrible to the family, but probably
involving little or no suffering to the victim himself, are by no
means the worst. A life poisoned, paralysed, rendered worthless for
all the uses of intellectual, rational, we might almost say of human
existence, is worse for the sufferer himself and for all around him
than a quick and painless death; and for one such death there must
be twenty if not a hundred instances of this worst death in life. In
nine cases out of ten, probably, the narcotist has been entangled
almost insensibly, but incurably, without intention and almost without
consciousness of danger. With alcohol this could hardly be the case. No
woman, at any rate, could reach the point at which secret indulgence
in wine or spirits became a habit and a necessity without warnings,
evidences of excess palpable to herself if not to others, that should
have terrified and shamed her into self-control, while self-control was
yet possible. The hold that opium and other narcotics acquire is at
once swifter, more gradual, less revolting and incomparably stronger
than that of alcohol. The first indulgence is in some sense legitimate;
is almost enforced, either by acute pain or by chronic insomnia. The
latter is perhaps the more dangerous. The pain, if it last for weeks,
forces recourse to the doctor before the habit has become incurable.
Sleeplessness is a more persistent, and to most people a much less
alarming thing; and it is moreover one with which the doctors can
seldom deal save through the very agents of mischief. Neuralgia,
relieved for a time by chloroform or morphia, may be cured by quinine;
sleeplessness admits of hardly any cure but such complete change of
life as is rarely possible, at least to its working victims. And the
narcotist habit once formed, neither pain nor sleeplessness is all that
its renunciation would involve. The drunkard, it must be remembered,
gets drunk, as a rule, but occasionally. Save in the last stages of
dipsomania, he can do, if not without drink, yet without intoxicating
quantities of drink, for days together. The narcotist who attempts to
go for a whole day without his accustomed dose, suffers in twenty-four
hours far more cruelly than the drunkard deprived of alcohol in as many
days. The effect upon the stomach and other organs, upon the nerves as
well as on the brain, is one of indescribable, unspeakable discomfort
amounting to torture; a disorder of the digestive system more trying
than sea-sickness, a disorganization of the nerves which after some
hours of unspeakable misery culminates in convulsive twitchings, in
mental and physical distress, simply indescribable to those who have
not felt it. Where attempts have been made forcibly and suddenly to
withhold the accustomed sedative, they have not unfrequently ended
within a few days in madness or death. In other cases the victim has
sought and obtained relief by efforts and through hardships which, in
his or her best days, would have seemed impossible or unendurable.
One woman thus restrained escaped in a _déshabille_ from her bed-room
on a winter night of Arctic severity; ran for miles through the snow,
and was fortunate enough to find a chemist who knew something of the
fearful effect of such privation, and had the sense and courage to give
in adequate quantity the poison that had now become the first necessary
of life. In a word, narcotics, one and all, are, to those who have once
fallen under their power, tyrants whose hold can hardly ever be shaken
off, which punish rebellion with the rack, and with all those devices
of torture which mediæval and ecclesiastical cruelty found even more
terrible than the rack itself; while the most absolute submission is
rewarded with sufferings only less unendurable than the punishment of
revolt. De Quincey’s dreams under the influence of opium were to the
tortures of resistance what the highest circle of purgatory may be to
the lowest pit of the Inferno. But any reader who knows what nightmare
is would think such tortures of the imagination, so vividly realized by
a consciousness apparently intensified rather than impaired by slumber,
a sufficient penalty for almost any human sin.

Chloral, bromide of potash, chloroform, henbane, and their various
combinations and substitutes are, however, by their very natures
medicines and no more. They are taken in the first instance as such;
at worst as medicinal equivalents for a quantity of alcohol which
women are afraid to take or unable to obtain, much more commonly as
medicines originally useful, mischievous only because the system has
been accustomed to depend on and cannot dispense with them. Their
effects at best are negatively, not actively, pleasurable. They relieve
pain or insomnia, or the craving which they themselves have created;
but their victims would, if they could, gladly be released from their
tyranny. Their character, moreover, is if not immediately yet very
rapidly perceptible. Very few can have used them for six months without
becoming more or less alarmed by the consequences. The minority,
for whom they are mere substitutes for alcohol, resort to them only
when the system has already been poisoned, the habits incurably
vitiated. With opium the case is different. In those which may be
called its native countries, it is not a medicine but a stimulant or
sedative, used for the most part in much greater moderation but in
the same manner as wine or spirits among ourselves; as an indulgence
pleasurable and innocent, if not actually desirable in itself. It suits
the climates and temperaments to which the heating, exciting influence
of alcohol is wholly unsuitable. It is, moreover, incompatible with
the free use of the latter, a thing which may be said in some sense of
most narcotics. Taken up by persons not yet addicted to intemperance,
chloral and similar drugs operate to discourage the use, or at least
the free use, of wine or spirits by intensifying their effect to a
serious and generally an unpleasant degree. But it does not appear
that they act, like opium, to indispose the system for alcohol. To the
opium-eater, as a rule, the exciting stimulus of alcohol, counteracting
the quiet, dreamy influence of his favorite drug, is decidedly
obnoxious; the action of chloral much more resembles that of the more
stupefying and powerful spirits. A drunkard desirous to abandon his
favorite vice, and reckless or incredulous of the possibility that the
remedy may be worse than the disease, would probably find in opium
the most powerful and effectual assistance and support to which he
could have recourse. It has moreover a strong tendency to diminish
the appetite for food, so much so that both in the East and in Europe
severe privation tends to encourage and diffuse its use.

Its peculiar danger, however, lies in the nature of the pleasure, and
the remoteness of the pain and mischief which attend its use. Its
effect on different constitutions and at different periods of life is
exceedingly different. As De Quincey remarks, it is not essentially
and primarily narcotic. It does not necessarily, immediately, or
always produce sleep. Some fortunate temperaments reject it in all
forms whatever. With these it produces immediate or speedy nausea, and
consequent repugnance. But its most universal effect is the diffusion
of comfort, quiet, calm, conscious repose, a general sensation
of physical and mental ease throughout the system; not followed
necessarily or generally by acute reaction, or even by depression. De
Quincey’s earlier experience accords with that of most of those to whom
opium is in some sense suited, to whom alone it is likely to become a
dangerous temptation. Used once in a fortnight, or even once a week,
it gives several hours of placid enjoyment, and if taken with some
mild aperient and followed next morning by a cup of strong coffee, it
generally gives a quiet night’s rest, entailing no further penalty
than a certain not unpleasant lassitude on the morrow. A working-man,
for instance, might take it every Saturday night for twenty years
without other effect than a decided aversion to the public-house on
Sunday, if he could but resist the temptation to take it oftener.
Again, till it loses its power by constant use it is in many cases the
surest and pleasantest of all anæsthetics; it relieves all neuralgic
pains, tooth-ache and ear-ache for example, and puts, especially in
combination with brandy, a quick and sure if by no means a wholesome
check on the milder forms of diarrhœa.

In this connection one danger peculiar to itself deserves especial
notice. Other narcotics are seldom given or sold save under their
own names; and if administered in combination, in quack medicine or
unexplained prescriptions, their effect betrays itself. Opium forms the
basis of innumerable remedies and very effective remedies, sold under
titles altogether reassuring and misleading. Nearly all soothing-syrups
and powders for example—“mother’s blessings” and infant’s curses—are
really opiates. These are known or suspected by most well-informed
people. What is less generally known is that nine in ten of the popular
remedies for catarrh, bronchitis, cough, cold and asthma are also
opiates. So powerful indeed is the effect of opium upon the lining
membrane of the lungs and air passages, so difficult is it to find
an effective substitute, that the efficacy, at least the certain and
rapid efficacy, of any specific remedy for cold whose exact nature is
not known affords strong ground for suspecting the presence of opium.
Many chemists are culpably, almost criminally, reckless; and not a
few culpably ignorant in this matter. An experienced man bought from
a fashionable West-end shop a box of cough lozenges, pleasant to the
taste and relieving a severe cough with wonderful rapidity. Familiar
with the influence of opium on the stomach and spirits, he was sure
before he had sucked half-a-dozen of the lozenges that he had taken a
dose powerful enough to affect his accustomed system, and strong enough
to poison a child, and do serious harm to a sensitive adult. Yet the
lozenges were sold without warning or indication of their character;
few people would have taken any special precaution to keep them out of
the way of children, and the box, falling into the hands of a heedless
or disobedient child, might have poisoned a whole nursery.

Another personal experience may serve to dispel the popular delusion
that opium is necessarily or generally a stupefying agent. A mismanaged
minor operation exposed two sensitive nerves, producing an intolerable
hyperæsthesia and a nervous terror which rendered surgical relief for
the time impossible, and endurance utterly beyond human power. For a
fortnight or more the patient was never free from agony save when the
nerves of sensation were practically paralysed by opium. During that
fortnight he took up for the first time, and thoroughly mastered, as
a college examination shortly afterwards proved, Mill’s _Principles
of Political Economy_, a work not merely taxing to the uttermost the
natural faculties of nineteen, but demanding beyond any other steady
persistent coherence and lucidity of thought. The patient affirmed that
never had his mind been clearer, his power of concentration greater,
his receptive faculties more perfect or his memory more tenacious.
That the drug had in no wise impaired the intellectual, however it
might have quelled the muscular or nervous energies, seems obvious.
Yet at that time the patient was ignorant of the two antidotes above
mentioned; and neither coffee nor aperient medicine qualified or
mitigated the influence of the opiates; an influence strong enough to
quell for some twenty-two hours out of the twenty-four an acute and
terrible nervous torture.

After the use of a fortnight or a month—especially when used
legitimately to relieve pain and not to procure pleasure—the entire
abandonment of opium may be easily accomplished in the course of two
or three days. The pain or the disease it is used to overcome carries
off, so to speak, or diverts in great measure the injurious influence
of the drug; as a person suffering from diarrhœa, snakebite, or other
cause of intense lowering of physical and nervous power, may take with
impunity a dose of brandy which in health would certainly intoxicate
him. But after six months’ or a year’s daily use or abuse, only the
strongest and sternest resolution can overcome or shake off the tyranny
of opium, and then only at a price of suffering and misery, of physical
and mental torture such as only those who have known it can conceive.

It would be as foolish to depreciate the value as to underrate the
danger of this, the most powerful and in many respects the safest of
anæsthetics. Nothing else can do what opium can to relieve chronic,
persistent, incurable nervous pain, to give sleep when sleeplessness is
produced by suffering. The more potent anæsthetics, like chloroform,
are applicable only to brief intense tortures, whose period can be
foreseen or determined—to produce insensibility during an operation,
or to mitigate the pangs of child-birth. Opium can relieve incurable
chronic pain that would otherwise render life intolerable, and perhaps
drive the sufferer to suicide; and this, if moderation be observed,
and the necessary correctives employed, without impairing, as other
narcotics would, the intellectual faculties. It is, moreover, as
aforesaid, the quickest and surest cure for bronchial affections of
every kind, and might not impossibly, as De Quincey thought, if used in
time and with sufficient decision, prolong a life otherwise doomed, if
it could not actually cure phthisis or consumption after the formation
of tubercle has once begun. But its legitimate use is limited to
three cases. It can relieve temporary neuralgic pain when cure would
be slow, or while awaiting a curative operation. One peculiarity
of neuralgic pain is its tendency to perpetuate itself. The nerves
continue to thrill and throb because worn out by pain. Give them,
through whatever agency, a brief period of rest, and it may well happen
that, the temporary cause removed, the pain will not return. Secondly,
opium is the one anæsthetic agency available to mitigate incurable
and intolerable suffering. Not only can it render endurable a life
that must otherwise be one continuous torture, till torture hastens
death; but it may in many cases render that life serviceable as well as
endurable. De Quincey gives the instance of a surgeon, suffering under
incurable disease of an intolerably painful kind, who owed the power
of steady professional work for more than twenty years to the constant
use of opium in enormous quantities. Finally, when a working life
draws near its natural close, when old age is harassed by the nervous
consequences of protracted over-work or over-strain such as is often
almost inseparable from the anxieties of business—the severe taxation
of the mental powers by professional or literary labor—opium, given
habitually in small quantities and under careful medical direction,
often does what wine effects with less certainty and safety; gives
rest and repose, calms an irritability of nerve and temper more trying
to the patient himself than to those around him, and renders the last
decade of a useful and honorable life much more comfortable, and no wit
less useful or honorable, than it might otherwise have been.

But except as a relief in incurable disease, or in that most incurable
of all diseases, old age, the continual or prolonged use of opium
is always dangerous and nearly always fatal. It impairs the will;
not infrequently it exercises a directly, visibly, unmistakably
deteriorating influence upon the moral nature. There is nothing strange
in this to those who know how an accidental injury to the skull may
impair or pervert the moral no less than the intellectual powers.
That moral is hardly a less common or less distinctive disease than
mental insanity, that the conscience as well as the intellect of the
drunkard is distorted and weakened, no physiologist doubts. Opium has
a similar power, but exerts it with characteristic slowness of action.
The demoralization of the narcotist is not, like that of the drunkard,
rapid, violent, and palpable; but gradual, insidious, perceptible only
to close observers or near and intimate friends. In nine cases out of
ten, moreover, opium ultimately and certainly poisons the whole vital
system. The patient loses physical and mental energy, courage, and
enterprise; shrinks from exertion of every kind, dreads the labor of a
walk, the trouble of writing a letter, dreads still more intensely any
effort that calls for moral courage, flinches from a scene, a quarrel,
a social or domestic conflict, becomes at last selfish, shameless,
weak, useless, miserable to the last degree.

But this, like every other effect of opium, is in some measure
uncertain; and hence arises one of its subtlest dangers. De Quincey
would seem to have been less susceptible than most men to the worst
influences of his favorite drug, seeing what work, excellent in
quality as well as considerable in quantity he achieved after he had
become a confirmed opium-eater. It took, no doubt, a tenfold greater
amount of opium to reduce him to intellectual impotence than would
suffice to destroy the minds of nine brain-workers in ten. But his
own story clearly reveals how completely the enormous doses to which
he had recourse at last overpowered a mind exceptionally energetic,
and a temperament exceptionally capable of assimilating, perhaps,
rather than resisting the power of opium. Here and there we find a
constitution upon which it exerts few or none of its characteristic
effects. As a few cannot take it at all, so a few can take it with
apparent impunity. With them it will relieve pain and will not paralyse
the nerves, will quell excitement without affecting mental energy;
nay, while leaving physical activity little more impaired than age and
temperament alone might have impaired it. Here and there we may find a
confirmed opium-eater capable of taking and enjoying active exercise—a
fairly fearless rider, a lover of nature tempted by taste, or it may
be by restlessness, to walks beyond his muscular strength; with vivid
imagination well under his own control; in whom even the will seems but
little weakened, whose dread of pain and flinching from danger are not
more marked after twenty years spent under the influence of opium than
when they first drove him to its use. Such cases are, of course, wholly
exceptional; but their very existence is a danger to others, misleads
them into the idea that they may dally with the tempter, may profit by
its pleasure-giving and pain-quelling powers without falling under its
yoke, or may fall under that yoke and find it a light one. I doubt,
however, whether the most fortunate of its victims would encourage the
latter idea; whether there be any opium-eater who would not give a
limb never to have known what opium can do to spare suffering, to give
strength for protracted exertion, if he had never known what slavery to
its influence means.

Dread of pain, dislike of excitement and worry, impatience of suffering
and discomfort, of irritation, and sleeplessness, are all strong and
increasingly-marked characteristics of our highly artificial life and
perhaps almost overstrained civilization. Nature knows no influence
that can relieve worry, mitigate pain, charm away restlessness,
discomfort, and even sleeplessness, as opium can. Alcohol is at once
too stupefying and too exciting for the tastes and temperaments that
belong to cultivated natures and highly-developed brains. Beer suits
the sluggish laborer, or the energetic navvy when his work is done,
and his system, like that of a Scandinavian Viking or Scythian warrior
in his hours of repose, craves first exhilaration and then stupid,
thoughtless contentment. Wine suits less active and more passionate
races, to whom excitement is an unmixed pleasure; brandy those who
crave for stronger excitement to stimulate less susceptible nerves. But
the physical stimulants of our fathers and grandfathers, as the moral
excitements of remoter times, are far too violent for our generation.
Champagne has succeeded port and sherry as the favorite wine of those
who can afford it, being the lightest of all; and time was, not so
long ago, when medical men were accused of recommending champagne with
somewhat careless facility to those whose nerves, worn out by unhealthy
pursuit of pleasure, by unnatural hours and unwholesome excitement,
might have been effectually though more gradually restored by a change
which to most of them at least was possible; by life in the country
rather than in London, by the fresh air of the early morning instead
of that of midnight in over-heated gas-lighted rooms and a poisoned
atmosphere. There is a danger lest, as even champagne has proved too
much of a stimulant and too little of a sedative, narcotics should
take its place. The doctors will hardly recommend opium, but their
patients, obliged for one reason or another to forego wine, might be
driven upon it.

As aforesaid, the craving for stimulation or tranquillization of the
brain—in one word, for that whole class of nerve-agents to which tea,
opium, and brandy alike belong—is so universal, has so prevailed in all
ages, races and climates, that it must be considered, if not originally
natural, yet as by this time an ingrained, all but ineradicable,
human appetite. To baffle such an appetite by any coercive means, by
domestic, social or legislative penalties, has ever proved impossible.
Deprive it of its gratification in one form, and it is impelled or
forced to find a substitute; and finds it, as all strong human cravings
have ever found some kind of satisfaction. And here lies one of the
worst, most certain and yet least considered dangers of the legislation
eagerly demanded by a constantly increasing party. Maine liquor laws,
prohibition, local option, every measure that threatens to deprive of
their favorite stimulant those who are not willing or have not the
resolve to abandon it, would probably fail in their primary object.
If they succeeded in that, they would, in a majority of instances,
force the drinker, not to be content with water or even with tea, but
to find a subtler substitute of lesser bulk, more easily obtained and
concealed. Opium is the most obvious, and, among sedatives powerful
enough to be substituted for wine or spirits, the least mischievous
resource. And opium, once adopted as a substitute for alcohol, would
take hold with far greater tenacity, and its use would spread with
terrible rapidity, because its evil influence is so subtle, so slowly
perceptible; and because, if used in moderation and with fitting
precautions, its worst effects may not be felt for many years;
because women could use it without detection, and men without alarm
or discredit. This peril is one of which wiser men than Sir Wilfrid
Lawson will not make light, but which too many comparatively rational
advocates of total abstinence seem to have totally overlooked. Without
underrating the frightful evils of intoxication, its baneful influence
upon the individual, upon large classes, and upon the country as a
whole, no one who knows them both can doubt that narcotism is the more
dangerous and more destructive habit. The opiatist will not brawl in
the street, will not beat his wife or maltreat his children; but he is
rendered as a rule, even more rapidly and certainly than the drunkard,
a useless member of society, a worthless citizen, an indifferent
husband, helpless as the bread-winner, impotent as the master and
ruler of a household. And opium, to the same temperaments and to many
others, is quite as seductive as alcohol; far more poisonous, and
incomparably more difficult to shake off when once its tyranny has been
established. To forbid it, as some have proposed to forbid the sale or
manufacture of beer, wine, and spirits, is impossible; to exclude it
from the country is out of the question; its legitimate uses are too
important, and no restrictions whatever can put it out of the reach of
those who desire it. Silks, spirits, tobacco were smuggled as long as
it paid to smuggle them; opium, an article of incomparably less bulk
and incomparably greater value, would bring still larger profit to the
importer; while the customer would not merely be attracted by cheapness
or fashion, but impelled by the most imperious and irresistible of
acquired cravings. Any man could smuggle through any barriers enough to
satisfy his appetite for a year, enough to poison a whole battalion.
That opium can become the favorite indulgence with numerous classes,
and apparently with a whole people, the experience of more than one
Eastern nation clearly shows. As the Oriental tea and coffee have to so
large an extent superseded beer as the daily drink of men as well as
women and children, so opium is calculated under favoring circumstances
to replace wine and spirits as a stimulant. It might well do so even
while the competition was open. Every penalty placed on the use of wine
or brandy is a premium on that of opium.

De Quincey is not the only opium-eater who has given his experience to
the world. It is evident that the practice is spreading in America,
and the records published by its victims are as terrible as the
worst descriptions of the drunkard’s misery or even as the horrors
of _delirium tremens_. It is noteworthy, however, how little any of
these seem to know of other experiences than their own—for instance,
of the numerous forms and methods in which the drug can be and is
administered. Opium—the solidified juice of the poppy—is the natural
product from which laudanum, the spirituous tincture of opium, and
all the various forms of morphia, which may be called the chemical
extract, the essential principle of opium, are obtained. Morphia,
again, is sold by chemists and exhibited by doctors in many forms,
the principal of which are the acetate, the sulphate and the muriate
of morphia—the substance itself combined with acetic, sulphuric, or
hydrochloric acid. Of these last the muriate is, we believe, the
safest, the acetate and in a lesser degree the sulphate having more of
the pleasurable, sedative, seductive influence of opium in proportion
to their pain-quelling power. They act, in some way, more powerfully
upon the spirits while exerting the same anæsthetic influence, and
the injurious effects of each dose are more marked and less easily
counteracted. Laudanum, containing proof spirit as well as morphine,
and through the proof spirit diffusing the narcotic influence more
rapidly and affecting the brain more quickly and decidedly, is perhaps
the worst vehicle through which the essential drug can be taken. Again,
morphine, in its liquid forms can be injected under the skin; as
solid opium it can be smoked or eaten, as morphia it can be swallowed
or injected. Of all modes of administration—speaking, of course, of
the self-administered abuse, not of the strict medical use of the
drug—subcutaneous injection is the worst. It acts the most speedily
and apparently the most pleasurably; it passes off the most rapidly,
and tempts, therefore the most frequent, re-application. Apart,
moreover, from the poisonous influence itself, this mode of application
has injurious effects of its own; produces callosities and sores
of a painful and revolting character. Smoking seems to be the most
stupefying manner in which solid opium can be consumed, the one which
acts most powerfully and injuriously upon the brain. But opium-smoking
is hardly likely to take a strong hold on English or European taste.
A piece of opium no larger than a pea, chopped up and mixed with a
large bowlful of tobacco, produces on the veteran tobacco-smoker a
nauseating effect powerfully recalling that of the first pipe of his
boyhood; while its flavor is incomparably more disagreeable to the
palate accustomed to the best havanas or the worst shag or bird’s-eye
than these were to the unvitiated taste. It is probable that the
Englishman who makes his first acquaintance with opium in this form
will be revolted rather than tempted, unless indeed the pipe be used
to relieve a pain so intolerable that the nauseousness of the remedy
is disregarded. Morphia in all its forms, liquid or solid, has a
thoroughly unpleasant bitterness, but neither the nauseous taste of
the pipe nor the intensely disgusting flavor of laudanum, a flavor so
revolting to the unaccustomed palate that only when largely diluted
by water can it possibly be swallowed. On the whole, the muriate,
dissolved in a quantity of water large enough to render each drop the
equivalent of a drop of laudanum, is probably the safest, and should be
swallowed rather than injected. But rather than swallow even this, a
wise man, unless more confident in his own constancy and self-command
than wise men are wont to be, had better endure any temporary pain
that nature may inflict or any remedial operation that surgery can
offer.—_Contemporary Review._



As marriage and death are the chief events in human life, an enormous
mass of popular beliefs has in all nations crystallised round them.
Perhaps the sterner and more gloomy character of Kelts, Saxons, and
Northmen generally found vent in the greater prominence they have
given to omens of death, second-sight, ghosts, and the like; whereas
the lighter and sunnier disposition of Southern Europe has delighted
more in love-spells, methods of divining a future partner, the whole
pomp and circumstance attending Venus and her doves. The writhing of
the wryneck so graphically portrayed in Theocritus, or the spells of
the lover in his Latin imitator, with their refrain—

    Ducite ab urbe domum, mea carmina, ducite Daphnim,[4]

may thus be profitably compared with the darker superstitions of St.
Mark’s Eve, the Baal fires, and compacts with the evil one, which so
constantly recur throughout the Northern mythologies. But there are
times and festivities when the serious Northern temperament relaxes;
and any one who has the least acquaintance with the wealth of folk-lore
which recent years have shown the natives of Great Britain that
they possess, well knows that the times of courtship and marriage
are two occasions when this lighter vein of our composite nature is
conspicuous. The collection of these old-world beliefs amongst our
peasantry did not begin a moment too soon. Day by day the remnants of
them are fast fading from the national memory. The disenchanting wand
of the modern schoolmaster, the rationalistic influences of the press,
the Procrustes-like system of standards in our parish schools—these
act like the breath of morn or the crowing of a cock upon ghosts, and
at once put charms, spells, and the like to flight. Before the nation
assumes the sober hues of pure reason and unpitying logic, in lieu of
the picturesque scraps of folk-lore and old-wifish beliefs in which
imagination was wont to clothe it, no office can be more grateful to
posterity than for enthusiastic inquirers to search out and put on
record these notes of fairy music which our villagers used to listen
to with such content. By way of giving a sample of their linked
sweetnesses long drawn out through so many generations of country
dwellers—of which the echoes still vibrate, especially in the north
and west of the country—it is our purpose to quote something of the
legendary lore connected with love and marriage. This must interest
everybody. Even the most determined old bachelor probably fell once, at
least, in love to enable him to discover the hollowness of the passion;
and as for the other sex, they may very conveniently, if illogically,
be classed here as they used to be at the Oxford Commemoration, the
married, the unmarried, and those who wish to be married. Some of these
spells and charms possess associations for each of these divisions, and
we are consequently sure of the suffrages of the fair sex.

Folk-lore, like Venus herself, has indeed specially flung her cestus
over “the palmer in love’s eye.” She has more charms to soothe his
melancholy than were ever prescribed by Burton. She is not above
dabbling in spells and the unholy mysteries of the black art to
inform him who shall be his partner for life. When sleep at length
seals his eyes, she waits at his bedside next morning to tell him the
meaning of his dreams. And most certainly the weaker sex has not been
forgotten by folk-lore, which, in proportion to their easier powers of
belief, provides them with infinite store of solace and prediction.
Milkmaids, country lasses, and secluded dwellers in whitewashed farm or
thick-walled ancestral grange are her particular charge. The Juliets
and Amandas of higher rank already possess enough nurses, confidantes,
and bosom friends, to say nothing of the poets and novelists. Perhaps
it would be well for them if they never resorted to more dangerous
mentors than do their rustic sisters when they listen to old wives’
wisdom at the chimney corner. Yet an exception must be made in favor
of some lovers of rank, when we recall the ludicrously simple wooing
of Mr. Carteret and Lady Jemima Montagu, and how mightily they were
indebted to the good offices of the more skilled Samuel Pepys, who
literally taught them when they ought to take each other’s hand, “make
these and these compliments,” and the like; “he being the most awkerd
man I ever met with in my life as to that business,” as the garrulous
diarist adds. For ourselves, we do not profess to be love casuists, and
the profusion of receipts which the subject possesses is so remarkable
that we shall be unable to preserve much order in our prescriptions.
Like those little books which possess wisdom for all who look within
them, we can only promise our readers a peep into a budget fresh from
fairy-land, and each may select what spell he or she chooses. Autolycus
himself did not open a pack stuffed with greater attractions for his
customers, especially for the fair sex.

Nothing is easier than to dream of a sweetheart. Only put a piece of
wedding-cake under your pillow, and your wish will be gratified. If you
are in doubt between two or three lovers, which you should choose, let
a friend write their names on the paper in which the cake is wrapped,
sleep on it yourself as before for three consecutive nights, and if you
should then happen to dream of one of the names therein written, you
are certain to marry him.[5] In Hull, folk-lore somewhat varies the
receipt. Take the blade-bone of a rabbit, stick nine pins in it, and
then put it under your pillow, when you will be sure to see the object
of your affections. At Burnley, during a marriage-feast, a wedding-ring
is put into the posset, and after serving it out the unmarried person
whose cup contains the ring will be the first of the company to be
married. Sometimes, too, a cake is made into which a wedding-ring and
a sixpence are put. When the company are about to retire, the cake is
broken and distributed among the unmarried ladies. She who finds the
ring in her portion of cake will shortly be married, but she who gets
the sixpence will infallibly die an old maid.

Perhaps your affections are still disengaged, but you wish to bestow
them on one who will return like for like. In this case there are
plenty of wishing-chairs, wishing-gates, and so forth, scattered
through the country. A wish breathed near them, and kept secret, will
sooner or later have its fulfilment. But there is no need to travel
to the Lake country or to Finchale Priory, near Durham (where is a
wishing-chair); if you see a piece of old iron or a horseshoe on your
path, take it up, spit on it, and throw it over your left shoulder,
framing a wish at the same time. Keep this wish a secret, and it will
come to pass in due time. If you meet a piebald horse, nothing can be
more lucky; utter your wish, and whatever it may be you will have it
before the week be out. In Cleveland, the following method of divining
whether a girl will be married or not is resorted to. Take a tumbler
of water from a stream which runs southward; borrow the wedding-ring
of some gudewife and suspend it by a hair of your head over the glass
of water, holding the hair between the finger and thumb. If the ring
hit against the side of the glass, the holder will die an old maid;
if it turn quickly round, she will be married once; if slowly, twice.
Should the ring strike the side of the glass more than three times
after the holder has pronounced the name of her lover, there will be
a lengthy courtship and nothing more; “she will be courted to dead,”
as they say in Lincolnshire; if less frequently, the affair will be
broken off, and if there is no striking at all it will never come
on.[6] Or if you look at the first new moon of the year through a silk
handkerchief which has never been washed, as many moons as you see
through it (the threads multiplying the vision), so many years must
pass before your marriage. Would you ascertain the color of your future
husband’s hair? Follow the practice of the German girls. Between the
hours of eleven and twelve at night on St. Andrew’s Eve a maiden must
stand at the house door, take hold of the latch, and say three times,
“Gentle love, if thou lovest me, show thyself,” She must then open the
door quickly, and make a rapid grasp through it into the darkness, when
she will find in her hand a lock of her future husband’s hair. The
“Universal Fortune-teller” prescribes a still more fearsome receipt for
obtaining an actual sight of him. The girl must take a willow branch
in her left hand, and, without being observed, slip out of the house
and run three times round it, whispering the while, “He that is to be
my goodman, come and grip the end of it.” During the third circuit
the likeness of the future husband will appear and grasp the other
end of the wand. Would any one conciliate a lover’s affections? There
is a charm of much simplicity, and yet of such potency that it will
even reconcile man and wife. Inside a frog is a certain crooked bone,
which when cleaned and dried over the fire on St. John’s Eve, and then
ground fine and given in food to the lover, will at once win his love
for the administerer.[7] A timely hint may here be given to any one
going courting: be sure when leaving home to spit in your right shoe
would you speed in your wooing. If you accidentally put on your left
stocking, too, inside out, nothing but good luck can ensue.

Among natural objects, the folk lore of the north invariably assigns a
speedy marriage to the sight of three magpies together. If a cricket
sings on the hearth, it portends that riches will fall to the hearer’s
lot. Catch a ladybird, and suffer it to fly out of your hands while
repeating the following couplet—

    Fly away east, or fly away west,
    But show me where lies the one I like best,

and its flight will furnish some clue to the direction in which your
sweetheart lies. Should a red rose bloom early in the garden, it is a
sure token of an early marriage. In Scotch folk-lore the rose possesses
much virtue. If a girl has several lovers, and wishes to know which
of them will be her husband, she takes a rose-leaf for each of them,
and naming each leaf after the name of one of her lovers, watches them
float down a stream till one after another they sink, when the last
to disappear will be her future husband.[8] A four-leaved clover will
preserve her from any deceit on his part, should she be fortunate
enough to find that plant; while there is no end to the virtues of an
even ash-leaf. We recount some of its merits from an old collection of
northern superstitions,[9] trusting they are better than the verses
which detail them.

    The even ash-leaf in my left hand,
    The first man I meet shall be my husband.
    The even ash-leaf in my glove,
    The first I meet shall be my love.
    The even ash-leaf in my breast,
    The first man I meet’s whom I love best.
    Even ash, even ash, I pluck thee,
    This night my true love for to see.
    Find even ash or four-leaved clover,
    An’ you’ll see your true love before the day’s over.

The color in which a girl dresses is important, not only during
courtship, but after marriage.

    Those dressed in blue
    Have lovers true;
    In green and white
    Forsaken quite.

Green, being sacred to the fairies, is a most unlucky hue. The “little
folk” will undoubtedly resent the insult should any one dress in their
color. Mr. Henderson[10] has known mothers in the south of England
absolutely forbid it to their daughters, and avoid it in the furniture
of their houses. Peter Bell’s sixth wife could not have been more
inauspiciously dressed when she—

        Put on her gown of green,
    To leave her mother at sixteen,
      And follow Peter Bell.

And nothing green must make its appearance at a Scotch wedding.
Kale and other green vegetables are rigidly excluded from the
wedding-dinner. Jealousy has ever green eyes, and green grows the grass
on Love’s grave.

Some omens may be obtained by the single at a wedding-feast. The bride
in the North Country cuts a cheese (as in more fashionable regions she
is the first to help the wedding-cake), and he who can secure the first
piece that she cuts will insure happiness in his married life. If the
“best man” does not secure the knife he will indeed be unfortunate. The
maidens try to possess themselves of a “shaping” of the wedding-dress
for use in certain divinations concerning their future husbands.[11]

In all ages and all parts of our island maidens have resorted to omens
drawn from flowers respecting their sweethearts. Holly, ribwort,
plantain, black centaury, yarrow, and a multitude more possess a great
reputation in love matters. The lover must generally sleep on some
one of these and repeat a charm, when pleasant dreams and faithful
indications of a suitor will follow. “The last summer, on the day of
St. John the Baptist, 1694,” says Aubrey, “I accidentally was walking
in the pasture behind Montague House; it was twelve o’clock. I saw
there about two or three and twenty young women, most of them well
habited, on their knees very busy, as if they had been weeding. I could
not presently learn what the matter was; at last a young man told me
that they were looking for a coal under the root of a plantain, to put
under their head that night, and they should dream who would be their
husbands. It was to be sought for that day and hour.”[12]

But the day of all others sacred to these mystic rites was ever the
eve of St. Agnes (January 20), when maidens fasted and then watched
for a sign. A passage in the office for St. Agnes’s Day in the Sarum
Missal may have given rise to this custom: “Hæc est virgo sapiens quam
Dominus _vigilantem_ invenit;” and the Gospel is the Parable of the
Virgins.[13] Ben Jonson alludes to the custom:—

        On sweet St. Agnes’ night
    Please you with the promised sight,
    Some of husbands, some of lovers,
    Which an empty dream discovers.

And a character in “Cupid’s Whirligig” (1616) says, “I could find in
my heart to pray nine times to the moone, and fast three St. Agnes’s
Eves, so that I might bee sure to have him to my husband.” Aubrey gives
two receipts to the ladies for that eve, which may still be useful.
Take a row of pins and pull out every one, one after another, saying a
Paternoster, and sticking a pin in your sleeve, and you will dream of
him you shall marry. Again, “you must lie in another country, and knit
the left garter about the right-legged stocking (let the other garter
and stocking alone), and as you rehearse these following verses, at
every comma knit a knot:—

        This knot I knit,
    To know the thing, I know not yet,
        That I may see,
    The man that shall my husband be,
    How he goes, and what he wears,
    And what he does, all days and years.

Accordingly in your dream you will see him; if a musician, with a lute
or other instrument; if a scholar, with a book or papers;” and he adds
a little encouragement to use this device in the following anecdote.
“A gentlewoman that I knew, confessed in my hearing that she used this
method, and dreamt of her husband whom she had never seen. About two
or three years after, as she was on Sunday at church (at our Lady’s
Church in Sarum), up pops a young Oxonian in the pulpit; she cries out
presently to her sister, ‘This is the very face of the man that I saw
in my dream. Sir William Soame’s lady did the like.’” It is hardly
needful to remind readers of Keats’s “Eve of St. Agnes,” and the story
of Madeline,—

    Whose heart had brooded, all that wintry day,
    On love, and wing’d St. Agnes’ saintly care,
    As she had heard old dames full many times declare.

Our ancestors made merry in a similar fashion on St. Valentine’s Day.
So Herrick, speaking of a bride, says,—

    She must no more a-maying,
    Or by rosebuds divine
    Who’ll be her Valentine.

Brand, who helps us to this quotation, gives an amusing extract from
the _Connoisseur_ to the same effect. “Last Friday was Valentine’s Day,
and the night before I got five bay leaves, and pinned four of them
to the four corners of my pillow, and the fifth to the middle; and
then, if I dreamt of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married
before the year was out. But to make it more sure, I boiled an egg
hard, and took out the yolk and filled it with salt, and when I went
to bed, eat it, shell and all, without speaking or drinking after it.
We also wrote our lovers’ names upon bits of paper, and rolled them up
in clay, and put them into water, and the first that rose up was to be
our Valentine. Would you think it? Mr. Blossom was my man. I lay abed
and shut my eyes all the morning till he came to our house; for I would
not have seen another man before him for all the world.” The moon, “the
lady moon,” has frequently been called into council about husbands from
the time when she first lost her own heart to Endymion, the beautiful
shepherd of Mount Latmos. Go out when the first new moon of the year
first appears, and standing over the spars of a gate or stile, look on
the moon and repeat as follows:—

    All hail to thee, moon! all hail to thee!
    Prythee, good moon, reveal to me
    This night who my husband shall be.

You will certainly dream that night of your future husband. It is very
important, too, that if you have a cat in the house, it should be a
black one. A North Country rhyme says—

    Whenever the cat or the house is black,
    The lasses o’ lovers will have no lack.

And an old woman in the north, adds Mr. Henderson,[14] said lately
in accordance with this belief to a lady, “It’s na wonder Jock ——’s
lasses marry off so fast, ye ken what a braw black cat they’ve got.”
It is still more lucky if such a cat comes of its own accord, and
takes up its residence in any house. The same gentleman gives an
excellent receipt to bring lovers to the house, which was communicated
to him by Canon Raine, and was gathered from the conversation of two
maid-servants. One of them, it seems, peeped out of curiosity into the
box of her fellow servant, and was astonished to find there the end
of a tallow candle stuck through and through with pins. “What’s that,
Molly,” said Bessie, “that I seed i’ thy box?” “Oh,” said Molly, “it’s
to bring my sweetheart. Thou seest, sometimes he’s slow a coming, and
if I stick a candle case full o’ pins it always fetches him.” A member
of the family certified that John was thus duly fetched from his abode,
a distance of six miles, and pretty often too.

Some of the most famous divinations about marriage are practised with
hazel-nuts on Allhallowe’en. In Indo-European tradition the hazel was
sacred to love; and when Loki in the form of a falcon rescued Idhunn,
the goddess of youthful life, from the power of the frost-giants, he
carried her off in his beak in the shape of a hazel-nut.[15] So in
Denmark, as in ancient Rome, nuts are scattered at a marriage. In
northern divinations on Allhallowe’en nuts are placed on the bars of
a grate by pairs, which have first been named after a pair of lovers,
and according to the result, their combustion, explosion, and the like,
the wise divine the fortune of the lovers. Graydon has beautifully
versified this superstition:—

    These glowing nuts are emblems true
    Of what in human life we view;
    The ill-matched couple fret and fume,
    And thus in strife themselves consume;
    Or from each other wildly start,
    And with a noise for ever part.
    But see the happy, happy pair,
    Of genuine love and truth sincere;
    With mutual fondness, while they burn,
    Still to each other kindly turn;
    And as the vital sparks decay,
    Together gently sink away;
    Till, life’s fierce ordeal being past,
    Their mingled ashes rest at last.[16]

Nevertheless modes of love-divination for this special evening, which
is as propitious to lovers as Valentine’s Day, may be found in Brand,
and other collectors of these old customs.

Peas are also sacred to Freya, almost vying with the mistletoe in
alleged virtue for lovers. In one district of Bohemia the girls go
into a field of peas, and make there a garland of five or seven kinds
of flowers (the goddess of love delights in uneven numbers), all of
different hues. This garland they must sleep upon, lying with their
right ear upon it, and then they hear a voice from underground, which
tells what manner of men they will have for husbands. Sweet-peas
would doubtless prove very effectual in this kind of divination, and
there need be no difficulty in finding them of different hues. If
Hertfordshire girls are lucky enough to find a pod containing nine
peas, they lay it under a gate, and believe they will have for husband
the first man that passes through. On the Borders unlucky lads and
lasses in courtship are rubbed down with pea straw by friends of the
opposite sex. These beliefs connected with peas are very widespread.
Touchstone, it will be remembered, gave two peas to Jane Smile, saying,
“with weeping tears, ‘Wear these for my sake.’”[17]

In Scotland on Shrove Tuesday a national dish called “crowdie,”
composed of oatmeal and water with milk, is largely consumed, and
lovers can always tell their chances of being married by putting into
the porringer a ring. The finder of this in his or her portion will
without fail be married sooner than any one else in the company.
Onions, curiously enough, figure in many superstitions connected with
marriage—why, we have no idea. It might be ungallantly suggested that
it is from their supposed virtue to produce tears, or from wearing many
faces, as it were, under one hood. While speaking of these unsavory
vegetables, we are reminded of a passage in Luther’s “Table Talk”:
“Upon the eve of Christmas Day the women run about and strike a swinish
hour” (whatever this may mean): “if a great hog grunts, it decides
that the future husband will be an old man; if a small one, a young
man,”[18] The orpine is another magical plant in love incantations. It
must be used on Midsummer Eve, and is useful to inform a maiden whether
her lover is true or false. It must be stuck up in her room, and the
desired information is obtained by watching whether it bends to the
right or the left. Hemp-seed, sown on that evening, also possesses
marvellous efficacy. One of the young ladies mentioned above, who sewed
bay leaves on her pillow, and had the felicity of seeing Mr. Blossom
in consequence, writes, “The same night, exactly at twelve o’clock,
I planted hemp-seed in our back yard, and said to myself, ‘Hemp seed
I sow, hemp-seed I hoe, and he that is my true love come after me
and mow!’ Will you believe it? I looked back and saw him behind me,
as plain as eyes could see him.” And she adds, as another wrinkle to
her sex, “Our maid Betty tells me that if I go backwards, without
speaking a word, into the garden upon Midsummer Eve, and gather a
rose and keep it in a clean sheet of paper without looking at it till
Christmas Day, it will be as fresh as in June; and if I then stick it
in my bosom, he that is to be my husband will come and take it out.”
Whatever be the virtue of Betty’s recipe, it would at all events teach
a lover patience. Mr. Henderson supplies two timely cautions from
Border folk-lore. A girl can “scarcely do a worse thing than boil a
dish-clout in her crock.” She will be sure, in consequence, to lose all
her lovers, or, in Scotch phrase, “boil all her lads awa’;” “and in
Durham it is believed that if you put milk in your tea before sugar,
you lose your sweetheart,”[19] We may add that unless a girl fasts
on St. Catherine’s Day (Nov. 25) she will never have a good husband.
Nothing can be luckier for either bachelor or girl than to be placed
inadvertently at some social gathering between a man and his wife. The
person so seated will be married before the year is out.

Song, play, and sonnet[20] have diffused far and wide the custom
of blowing off the petals of a flower, saying the while, “He loves
me—loves me not.” When this important business has been settled in
the affirmative a hint may be useful for the lover going courting. If
he meets a hare, he must at once turn back. Nothing can well be more
unlucky. Witches are found of that shape, and he will certainly be
crossed in love. Experts say that after the next meal has been eaten
the evil influence is expended, and the lover can again hie forth in
safety. In making presents to each other the happy pair must remember
on no account to give each other a knife or a pair of scissors. Such a
present effectually cuts love asunder. Take care, too, not to fall in
love with one the initial of whose surname is the same as yours. It is
quite certain that the union of such cannot be happy. This love-secret
has been reduced into rhyme for the benefit of treacherous memories:—

    To change the name and not the letter,
    Is a change for the worse, and not for the better.

This love-lore belongs to the Northern mythology, else the Romans would
never have used that universal formula, “ubi tu Caius ego Caia.”

These directions and cautions must surely have brought our pair of
happy lovers to the wedding-day. Even yet they are not safe from malign
influences, but folk-lore does not forget their welfare. If the
bride has been courted by other sweethearts than the one she has now
definitely chosen, there is a fear lest the discarded suitors should
entertain unkindly feelings towards her. To obviate all unpleasant
consequences from this, the bride must wear a sixpence in her left shoe
until she is “kirked,” say the Scotch. And on her return home, if a
horse stands looking at her through a gateway, or even lingers along
the road leading to her new home, it is a very bad omen for her future

When once the marriage-knot is tied, it is so indissoluble that
folk-lore for the most part leaves the young couple alone. It
is imperative, however, that the wife should never take off her
wedding-ring. To do so is to open a door to innumerable calamities,
and a window at the same time through which love may fly. Should the
husband not find that peace and quietness which he has a right to
expect in matrimony, but discover unfortunately that he has married a
scold or a shrew, he must make the best of the case:—

    Quæ saga, quis te solvere Thessalis
    Magus venenis, quis poterit deus?

Yet folk-lore has still one simple which will alleviate his sorrow.
Any night he will, he may taste fasting a root of radish, say our old
Saxon forefathers, and next day he will be proof against a woman’s
chatter.[21] By growing a large bed of radishes, and supping off them
regularly, it is thus possible that he might exhaust after a time the
verbosity of his spouse, but we are bound to add that we have never
heard of such an easy cure being effected. The cucking-stool was found
more to the purpose in past days.

But Aphrodite lays her finger on our mouth. Having disclosed so many
secrets of her worship, it is time now to be silent.

After all this love-lore, supposing any one were to take a tender
interest in our welfare, we should hint to her that she had no need
of borrowed charms or mystic foreshadowing of the future, in Horatian
words, which we shall leave untranslated as a compliment to Girton:—

    Tu ne quæsieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi
    Finem di dederint, Leuconoe; nec Babylonios
    Tentaris numeros.

Simplicity and openness of disposition are worth more than all
affectations of dress or manner. Well did the Scotch lad in the song
rebuke his sweetheart, who asked him for a “keekin’-glass” (_Anglice_,

    “Sweet sir, for your courtesie,
      When ye come by the Bass, then,
    For the love ye bear to me,
      Buy me a keekin’-glass, then.”

But he answered—

    “Keek into the draw-well,
            Janet, Janet;
    There ye’ll see your bonny sel’,
            My jo, Janet.”

In truth, the best divination for lovers is a ready smile, and the most
potent charms a maiden can possess are reticence and patience. And so
to end (with quaint old Burton[22]), “Let them take this of Aristænetus
(that so marry) for their comfort: ‘After many troubles and cares,
the marriages of lovers are more sweet and pleasant.’ As we commonly
conclude a comedy with a wedding and shaking of hands, let’s shut up
our discourse and end all with an epithalamium. Let the Muses sing, the
Graces dance, not at their weddings only, but all their dayes long; so
couple their hearts that no irksomeness or anger ever befall them: let
him never call her other name than my joye, my light; or she call him
otherwise than sweetheart.”—_Belgravia._



I cannot tell you the story just as Nikola told it to me, with all
that flow of language common in a Greek, my memory is not good enough
for that; but the facts, and some of his quaint expressions, I can
recount, for these I never shall forget. My travel took me to a distant
island of the Greek Archipelago, called Sikinos, last winter, an island
only to be reached by a sailing-boat, and here, in quarters of the
humblest nature, I was storm-stayed for five long days. Nikola had been
my muleteer on an expedition I made to a remote corner of the island
where still are to be traced the ruins of an ancient Hellenic town, and
about a mile from it a temple of Pythian Apollo. He was a fine stalwart
fellow of thirty or thereabouts; he had a bright intelligent face,
and he wore the usual island costume, namely, knickerbocker trousers
of blue homespun calico, with a fulness, which hangs down between the
legs, and when full of things, for it is the universal pocket, wabbles
about like the stomach of a goose; on his head he wore a faded old fez,
his feet were protected from the stones by sandals of untanned skin,
and he carried a long stick in his hand with which to drive his mule.

Sikinos is perhaps the most unattainable corner of Europe, being
nothing but a barren harborless rock in the middle of the Ægean
sea, possessing as a fleet one caique, which occasionally goes to a
neighboring island where the steamer stops, to see if there are any
communications from the outer world, and four rotten fishing boats,
which seldom venture more than a hundred yards from the shore. The
fifteen hundred inhabitants of this rock lead a monotonous life in
two villages, one of which is two hundred years old, fortified and
dirty, and called the “Kastro,” or the “camp”; the other is modern,
and about five minutes’ walk from the camp, and is called “the other
place”; so nomenclature in Sikinos is simple enough. The inhabitants
are descended from certain refugees who, two hundred years ago, fled
from Crete during a revolution, and built the fortified village up on
the hillside out of the reach of pirates, and remained isolated from
the world ever since. Before they came, Sikinos had been uninhabited
since the days of the ancient Greeks. The only two men in the place who
have travelled—that is to say, who have been as far as Athens—are the
Demarch, who is the chief legislator of the island, and looked up to as
quite a man of the world, and Nikola, the muleteer.

I must say, the last thing I expected to hear in Sikinos was a romance,
but on one of the stormy days of detention there, with the object of
whiling away an hour, I paid a visit to Nikola in his clean white house
in “the other place.” He met me on the threshold with a hearty “We have
well met,” bade me sit down on his divan, and sent his wife—a bright,
buxom young woman—for the customary coffee, sweets, and raki; he rolled
me a cigarette, which he carefully licked, to my horror, but which I
dared not refuse to smoke, cursed the weather, and stirred the embers
in the brazier preparatory to attacking me with a volley of questions.
I always disarm inquisitiveness on such occasions by being inquisitive
myself. “How long have you been married?” “How many children have you
got?” “How old is your wife?” and by the time I had asked half a dozen
such questions, Nikola, after the fashion of the Greeks, had forgotten
his own thirst for knowledge in his desire to satisfy mine.

In Nikola’s case unparalleled success attended this manœuvre, and from
the furtive smiles which passed between husband and wife I realised
that some mystery was attached to their unions which I forthwith made
it my business, to solve.

“I always call her ‘my statue,’” said the muleteer, laughing, “‘my
marble statue,’” and he slapped her on the back to show that, at any
rate, she was made of pretty hard material.

“Can Pygmalion have married Galatea after all?” I remarked for the
moment, forgetting the ignorance of my friends on such topics, but a
Greek never admits that he does not understand, and Nikola replied,
“No; her name is Kallirhoe, and she was the priest’s daughter.”

Having now broached the subject, Nikola was all anxiety to continue it;
he seated himself on one chair, his wife took another, ready to prompt
him if necessary, and remind him of forgotten facts. I sat on the
divan; between us was the brazier; the only cause for interruption came
from an exceedingly naughty child, which existed as a living testimony
that this modern Galatea had recovered from her transformation into

“I was a gay young fellow in those days,” began Nikola.

“Five years ago last carnival time,” put in the wife, but she subsided
on a frown from her better half; for Greek husbands never meekly
submit, like English ones, to the lesser portion of command, and the
Greek wife is the pattern of a weaker vessel, seldom sitting down to
meals, cooking, spinning, slaving,—a mere chattel, in fact.

“I was the youngest of six—two sisters and four brothers, and we four
worked day after day to keep our old father’s land in order, for we
were very poor, and had nothing to live upon except the produce of our

Land in Sikinos is divided into tiny holdings: one man may possess half
a dozen plots of land in different parts of the island, the produce
of which—the grain, the grapes, the olives, the honey, etc.—he brings
on mules to his store (ἀποθήκη) near the village. Each landowner has
a store and a little garden around it on the hillside, just outside
the village, of which the stores look like a mean extension, but on
visiting them we found their use.

“We worked every day in the year except feast-days, starting early with
our ploughs, our hoes, and our pruning hooks, according to the season,
and returning late, driving our bullocks and our mules before us.” An
islander’s tools are simple enough—his plough is so light that he can
carry it over his shoulders as he drives the bullocks to their work. It
merely scratches the back of the land, making no deep furrows; and when
the work is far from the village the husbandman starts from home very
early, and seldom returns till dusk.

“On feast-days we danced on the village square. I used to look forward
to those days, for then I met Kallirhoe, the priest’s daughter, who
danced the _syrtos_ best of all the girls, tripping as softly as a
Nereid,” said Nikola, looking approvingly at his wife. I had seen a
_syrtos_ at Sikinos, and I could testify to the fact that they dance
it well, revolving in light wavy lines backwards, forwards, now quick,
now slow, until you do not wonder that the natives imagine those
mystic beings they call Nereids to be for ever dancing thus in the
caves and grottoes. The _syrtos_ is a semicircular dance of alternate
young men and maidens, holding each other by handkerchiefs, not from
modesty, as one might at first suppose, but so as to give more liberty
of action to their limbs, and in dancing this dance it would appear
Nikola and Kallirhoe first felt the tender passion of love kindled
in their breasts. But between the two a great gulf was fixed, for
marriages amongst a peasantry so shrewd as the Greeks are not so easily
settled as they are with us. Parents have absolute authority over their
daughters, and never allow them to marry without a prospect, and before
providing for any son a father’s duty is to give his daughters a house
and a competency, and he expects any suitor for their hand to present
an equivalent in land and farm stock. The result of this is to create
an overpowering stock of maiden ladies, and to drive young men from
home in search of fortunes and wives elsewhere.

This was the breach which was fixed between Nikola and
Kallirhoe—apparently a hopeless case, for Nikola had sisters, and
brothers, and poverty-stricken parents; he never could so much as hope
to call a spade his own; during all his life he would have to drudge
and slave for others. They could not run away; that idea never occurred
to them, for the only escape from Sikinos was by the solitary caique.
“I had heard rumors,” continued Nikola, “of how men from other islands
had gone to far-off countries and returned rich, but how could I, who
had never been off this rock in all my life?

“I should have had to travel by one of those steamers which I had seen
with their tail of smoke on the horizon, and about which I had pondered
many a time, just like you, sir, may look and ponder at the stars; and
to travel I should require money, which I well knew my father would not
give me, for he wanted me for his slave. My only hope, and that was
a small one, was that the priest, Papa Manoulas, Kallirhoe’s father,
would not be too hard on us when he saw how we loved each other. He
had been the priest to dip me in the font at my baptism; he always
smoked a pipe with father once a week; he had known me all my life as
a steady lad, who only got drunk on feast-days. ‘Perhaps he will give
his consent,’ whispered my mother, putting foolish hopes into my brain.
Poor old woman! she was grieved to see her favorite looking worn and
ill, listless at his work, and for ever incurring the blame of father
and brothers; only when I talked to her about Kallirhoe did my face
brighten a little, so she said one day, ‘Papa Manoulas is kind; likely
enough he may wish to see Kallirhoe happy.’ So one evil day I consented
to my mother’s plan, that she should go and propose for me.”

Some explanation is here necessary. At Sikinos, as in other remote
corners of Greece, they still keep up a custom called προξενία. The
man does not propose in person, but sends an old female relative to
seek the girl’s hand from her parents; this old woman must have on
one stocking white and the other red or brown. “Your stockings of two
colors make me think that we shall have an offer,” sings an island
poem. Nikola’s mother went thus garbed, but returned with a sorrowful
face. “I was made to eat gruel,” said he, using the common expression
in these parts for a refusal, “and nobody ate more than I did. Next
day Papa Manoulas called at our house. My heart stood still as he came
in, and then bubbled over like a seething wine vat when he asked to
speak to me alone. ‘You are a good fellow, Kola,’ he began. ‘Kallirhoe
loves you, and I wish to see you happy;’ and I had fallen on his neck
and kissed him on both cheeks before he could say, ‘Wait a bit, young
man; before you marry her you must get together just a little money; I
will be content with 1,000 drachmas (£40). When you have that to offer
in return for Kallirhoe’s dower you shall be married,’ ‘A thousand
drachmas!’ muttered I. ‘May the God of the ravens help me!’” (an
expression denoting impossibility), “and I burst into tears.”

The men of modern Greece when violently agitated cry as readily as
cunning Ulysses, and are not ashamed of the fact.

“I remember well that evening,” continued Nikola. “I left the house
as it was getting dusk, and climbed down the steep path to the sea. I
wandered for hours amongst the wild mastic and the brushwood. My feet
refused to carry me home that night, so I lay down on the floor in the
little white church, dedicated to my patron saint, down by the harbor,
where we go for our annual festival when the priest blesses the waters
and our boats. Many’s the time, as a lad, I’ve jumped into the water to
fetch out the cross, which the priest throws into the sea with a stone
tied to it on this occasion, and many’s the time I’ve been the lucky
one to bring it up and get a few coppers for my wetting. That night I
thought of tying a stone round my own neck and jumping into the sea, so
that all traces of me might disappear.

“I could not make up my mind to face any one all next day, so I
wandered amongst the rocks, scarcely remembering to feed myself on the
few olives I had in my pocket. I could do nothing but sing ‘The Little
Caique,’ which made me sob and feel better.”

The song of “The Little Caique” is a great favorite amongst the
seafaring men of the Greek islands. It is a melancholy love ditty, of
which the following words are a fairly close translation:—

    In a tiny little caique
      Forth in my folly one night
    To the sea of love I wandered,
      Where the land was nowhere in sight.

    O my star! O my brilliant star!
      Have pity on my youth,
    Desert me not, oh! leave me not
      Alone in the sea of love!

    O my star! O my brilliant star!
      I have met you on my path.
    Dost thou bid me not tarry near thee?
      Are thy feelings not of love?

    Lo! suddenly about me fell
      The darkness of that night,
    And the sea rolled in mountains around me,
      And the land was nowhere in sight.

“Towards evening I returned home. My mother’s anxious face told me that
she, too, had suffered during my absence; and out of a pot of lentil
soup, which was simmering on the embers, she gave me a bowlful, and
it refreshed me. To my dying day I shall never forget my father’s and
brothers’ wrath. I had wilfully absented myself for a whole day from my
work. I was called ‘a peacock,’ ‘a burnt man’ (equivalent to a fool),
‘no man at all,’ ‘;horns,’ and any bad name that occurred to them. For
days and weeks after this I was the most miserable, down-trodden Greek
alive, and all on account of a woman.” And here Nikola came to a stop,
and ordered his wife to fetch him another glass of raki to moisten his
throat. No Greek can talk or sing long without a glass of raki.

“About two months after these events,” began Nikola with renewed vigor,
“my father ordered me to clear away a heap of stones which occupied
a corner of a little terrace-vineyard we owned on a slope near the
church of Episcopì.[23] We always thought the stones had been put
there to support the earth from falling from the terrace above, but
it lately had occurred to my father that it was only a heap of loose
stones which had been cleared off the field and thrown there when the
vineyard was made, and the removal of which would add several square
feet to the small holding. Next morning I started about an hour before
the Panagía (Madonna) had opened the gates of the East,[24] with a mule
and panniers to remove the stones. I worked hard enough when I got
there, for the morning was cold, and I was beginning to find that the
harder I worked the less time I had for thought. Stone after stone was
removed, pannier-load after pannier-load was emptied down the cliff,
and fell rattling amongst the brushwood and rousing the partridges and
crows as they fell. After a couple of hours’ work the mound was rapidly
disappearing, when I came across something white projecting upwards. I
looked at it closely; it was a marble foot. More stones were removed,
and disclosed a marble leg, two legs, a body, an arm; a head and
another arm, which had been broken off by the weight of the stones, lay
close by. Though I was somewhat astonished at this discovery, yet I did
not suppose it to be of any value. I had heard of things of this kind
being found before. My father had an ugly bit of marble which came out
of a neighboring tomb. However, I did not throw it over the cliff with
the other stones, but I put it on one side and went on again with my

“All day long my thoughts kept reverting to this statue. It was so
very life-like—so different from the stiff, ugly marble figures I
had seen; and it was so much larger, too, standing nearly four feet
high. Perhaps, thought I, the Panagía has put it here—perhaps it is a
sacred miracle-working thing, such as the priests find in spots like
this. And then suddenly I remembered how, when I was a boy, a great
German _effendi_ had visited Sikinos, and was reported to have dug up
and carried away with him priceless treasures. Is this statue worth
anything? was the question which haunted me all day, and which I would
have given ten years of my young life to solve.

“When my day’s work was over, I put the statue on to my mule, and
carefully covered it over, so that no one might see what I had found;
for though I was hopelessly ignorant of what the value of my discovery
might be, yet instinct prompted me to keep it to myself. It was dark
when I reached the village, and I went straight to the store, sorely
perplexed as to what to do with my treasure. There was no time to bury
it, for I had met one of my brothers, who would tell them at home that
I had returned; so in all haste I hid the cold white thing under the
grain in the corner, trusting that no one would find it, and went home.
I passed a wretched night, dreaming and restless by turns. Once I woke
up in horror, and found it difficult to dispel the effects of a dream
in which I had sold Kallirhoe to a prince, and married the statue by
mistake. And next day my heart stood still when my father went down
to the store with me, shoved his hand into the grain, and muttered
that we must send it up to the mill to be ground. That very night I
went out with a spade and buried my treasure deep in the ground under
the straggling branches of our fig-tree, where I knew it would not be
likely to be disturbed.”

Nikola paused here for a while, stirred the embers with the little
brass tweezers, the only diminutive irons required for so lilliputian a
fire, sang snatches of nasal Greek music, so distasteful to a western
ear, and joined his wife in muttering “winter!” “snow!” “storm!”
and other less elegant invectives against the weather, which these
islanders use when winter comes upon them for two or three days, and
makes them shiver in their wretched unprotected houses; and they make
no effort to protect themselves from it, for they know that in a few
days the sun will shine again and dry them, their mud roofs will cease
to leak, and nature will smile once more.

If they do get mysterious illnesses they will attribute them to
supernatural causes, saying a Nereid or a sprite has struck them,
and never suspect the damp. Nature’s own pupils they are. Their only
medical suggestion is that all illnesses are worms in the body, which
have been distributed by God’s agents, the mysterious and invisible
inhabitants of the air, to those whose sin requires chastising, or
whose days are numbered. Such is the simple _bacillus_ theory prevalent
in the Greek islands. Who knows but what they are right?

“Never was a poor fellow in such perplexity as I was,” continued
Nikola, “the possessor of a marble woman whose value I could not learn,
and about whom I did not care one straw, whilst I yearned after a woman
whose value I knew to be a thousand drachmas, and whom I could not buy.
My hope, too, was rendered more acute by the vague idea that perhaps my
treasure might prove to be as valuable as Kallirhoe, and I smiled to
think of the folly of the man who would be likely to prefer the cold
marble statue to my plump, warm Kallirhoe. But they tell me that you
cold Northerners have hearts of marble, so I prayed to the Panagía and
all the saints to send some one who would take the statue away, and
give me enough money to buy Kallirhoe.

“I was much more lively now; my father and brothers had no cause to
scold me any longer, for I had hope; every evening now I went to the
_café_ to talk, and all the energy of my existence was devoted to
one object, namely, to get the Demarch to tell me all he knew about
the chances of selling treasures in that big world where the steamer
went, without letting him know that I had found anything. After many
fruitless efforts, one day the Demarch told me how, in the old Turkish
days, before he was born, a peasant of Melos had found a statue of
a woman called Aphrodite, just as I had found mine, in a heap of
stones; that the peasant had got next to nothing for it, but that Mr.
Brest, the French consul, had made a fortune out of it, and that now
the statue was the wonder of the Western world. By degrees I learnt
how relentless foreigners like you, Effendi, do swoop down from time
to time on these islands and carry home what is worth thousands of
drachmas, after giving next to nothing for them. A week or two later, I
learnt from the Demarch’s lips how strict the Greek Government is, that
no marble should leave the country, and that they never give anything
like the value for the things themselves, but that sometimes by dealing
with a foreign _effendi_ in Athens good prices have been got and the
Government eluded.

“Poor me! in those days my hopes grew very very small indeed. How
could I, an ignorant peasant, hope to get any money from anybody?
So I thought less and less about my statue, and more and more about
Kallirhoe, until my face looked haggard again, and my mother sighed.

“My statue had been in her grave nearly a year,” laughed Nikola,
“and after the way of the world she was nearly forgotten, when one
day a caique put in to Sikinos, and two foreign _effendi_—Franks, I
believe—came up to the town; they were the first that had visited our
rock since the German who had opened the graves on the hillside, and
had carried off a lot of gold and precious things. So we all stared at
them very hard, and gathered in crowds around the Demarch’s door to get
a glimpse at them as they sat at table. I was one of the crowd, and as
I looked at them I thought of my buried statue, and my hope flickered

“Very soon the report went about amongst us that they were miners
from Laurion, come to inspect our island and see if we had anything
valuable in the way of minerals; and my father, whose vision it had
been for years to find a mine and make himself rich thereby, was
greatly excited, and offered to lend the strangers his mules. The
old man was too infirm to go himself, greatly to his regret, but he
sent me as muleteer, with directions to conduct the miners to certain
points of the island, and to watch narrowly everything they picked
up. Many times during the day I was tempted to tell them all about my
statue and my hopes, but I remembered what the Demarch had said about
greedy foreigners robbing poor islanders. So I contented myself with
asking all sorts of questions about Athens; who was the richest foreign
_effendi_ there, and did he buy statues? what sort of thing was the
custom, and should I, who came from another part of Greece, be subject
to it if I went? I sighed to go to Athens.

“All day I watched them closely, noted what sort of stones they picked
up, noted their satisfaction or dissatisfaction, and as I watched them
an idea struck me—an idea which made my heart leap and tremble with

“That evening I told my father some of those lies which hurt nobody,
and are therefore harmless, as the priests say. I told him I had
acquired a great knowledge of stones that day, that I knew where
priceless minerals were to be found; I drew on my imagination about
possible hidden stores of gold and silver in our rocky Sikinos. I
saw that I had touched the right chord, for though he always told us
hard-working lads that an olive with a kernel gives a boot to a man,
yet I felt sure that his inmost ideas soared higher, and that he was,
like the rest of the Sikiniotes, deeply imbued with the idea that
mineral treasures, if only they could be found, would give a man more
than boots.

“From that day my mode of life was changed. Instead of digging in the
fields and tending the vines, I wandered aimlessly about the island
collecting specimens of stones. I chose them at random—those which
had some bright color in them were the best—and every evening I added
some fresh specimens to my collection, which were placed for safety
in barrels in the store. ‘Don’t say a word to the neighbors,’ was my
father’s injunction; and I really believe they all thought my reason
was leaving me, or how else could they account for my daily wanderings?

“In about a month’s time I had collected enough specimens for my
purpose, and then, with considerable trepidation, one evening I
disclosed my plan to my father. ‘Something must be done with those
specimens,’ I began; and as I said this I saw with pleasure his old
eyes sparkle as he tried to look unconcerned.

“‘Well, Kola, what is to be done with them?’

“‘Simply this, father. I must take them to Athens or Laurion, and get
money down for showing the _effendi_ where the mines are. We can’t work
them ourselves.’

“‘To Athens! to Laurion!’ exclaimed my father, breathless at the bare
notion of so stupendous a journey.

“‘Of course I must,’ I added, laughing, though secretly terrified lest
he should flatly refuse to let me go; and before I went to bed that
night my father promised to give me ten drachmas for my expenses. ‘Only
take a few of your specimens, Kola; keep the best back;’ for my father
is a shrewd man, though he has never left Sikinos. But on this point I
was determined, and would take all or none, so my father grumbled and
called me a ‘peacock,’ but for this I did not care.

“Next day I ordered a box for my specimens. ‘Why not take them in the
old barrels?’ growled my father. But I said they might get broken, and
the specimens inside be seen. So at last a wooden box, just four feet
long and two feet high, was got ready—not without difficulty either,
for wood in Sikinos is rarer than quails at Christmas, and my father
grumbled not a little at the sum he had to pay for it—more than half
the produce of his vintage, poor man! And when I thought how my mother
might not be able to make any cheesecakes at Easter—the pride of her
heart, poor thing!—I almost regretted the game I was playing.”

The Easter cheesecakes of the island (τυρόπηττα) are what they profess
to be; cheese, curd, saffron, and flour being the chief ingredients.
They are reckoned an essential luxury at that time of the year, and
some houses make as many as sixty. It is a sign of great poverty and
deprivation when none are made.

“The caique was to leave next morning if the wind was favorable for
Ios, where the steamer would touch on the following day, and take me on
my wild, uncertain journey. I don’t think I can be called a coward for
feeling nervous on this occasion. I admit that it was only by thinking
steadfastly about Kallirhoe that I could screw up my courage. When it
was quite dark I took the wooden key of the store, and, as carelessly
as I could, said I was going to pack my specimens. My brothers
volunteered to come and help me, for they were all mighty civil now it
became known that I was bound for Athens to make heaps of money, but
I refused their help with a surly ‘good night,’ and set off into the
darkness alone with my spade. I was horribly nervous as I went along;
I thought I saw a Nereid or a Lamia in every olive-tree. At the least
rustle I thought they were swooping down upon me, and would carry me
off into the air, and I should be made to marry one of those terrible
creatures and live in a mountain cavern, which would be worse than
losing Kallirhoe altogether; but St. Nikolas and the Panagía helped me,
and I dug my statue up without any molestation.

“She was a great weight to carry all by myself, but at last I got her
into the store, and deposited her in her new coffin, wedged her in, and
cast a last, almost affectionate look at this marble representation
of life, which had been so constantly in my thoughts for months and
months, and finally I proceeded to bury her with specimens, covering
her so well that not a vestige of marble could be seen for three
inches below the surface. What a weight the box was! I could not lift
it myself, but the deed was done, so I nailed the lid on tightly, and
deposited what was over of my specimens in the hole where the statue
had been reposing, and then I lay down on the floor to rest, not
daring to go out again or leave my treasure. I thought it never would
be morning; every hour of the night I looked out to see if there was
any fear of a change of wind, but it blew quietly and steadily from
the north; it was quite clear that we should be able to make Ios next
morning without any difficulty.

“As soon as it was light I went home. My mother was up, and packing my
wallet with bread and olives. She had put a new cover on my mattress,
which I was to take with me. The poor old dear could hardly speak, so
agitated was she at my departure; my brothers and father looked on
with solemn respect; and I—why, I sat staring out of the window to see
Kallirhoe returning from the well with her _amphora_ on her head. As
soon as I saw her coming, I rushed out to bid her good-bye. We shook
hands. I had not done this for twelve months now, and the effect was
to raise my courage to the highest pitch, and banish all my nocturnal

“Mother spilt a jug of water on the threshold, as an earnest of success
and a happy return. My father and my brothers came down to the store to
help me put the box on to the mule’s back, and greatly they murmured at
the weight thereof. ‘There’s gold there,’ muttered my father beneath
his breath. ‘Kola will be a prince some day,’ growled my eldest brother
jealously, and I promised to make him Eparch of Santorin, or Demarch of
Sikinos if he liked that better.

“The bustle of the journey hardly gave me a moment for thought. I was
very ill crossing over in the caique to Ios, during which time my
cowardice came over me again, and I wondered if Kallirhoe was worth
all the trouble I was taking; but I was lost in astonishment at the
steamer—so astonished that I had no time to be sick, so I was able
to eat some olives that evening, and as I lay on my mattress on the
steamer’s deck as we hurried on towards the Piræus, I pondered over
what I should do on reaching land.

“You know what the Piræus is like, Effendi?” continued Nikola, after a
final pause and a final glass of raki, “what a city it is, what bustle
and rushing to and fro!”

I had not the heart to tell him that in England many a fishing village
is larger, and the scene of greater excitement.

“They all laughed at me for my heavy box, my island accent, my island
dress, and if it had not been for a kind _pallikari_ I had met on the
steamer, I think I should have gone mad. The officers of the custom
house were walking about on the quay, peering suspiciously into the
luggage of the newly arrived, and naturally my heavy box excited their
suspicions. I was prepared for some difficulty of this kind, and the
agony of my interview quite dispelled my confusion.

“‘What have you there?’

“‘Δείγματα (specimens),’ I replied.

“‘Specimens of what?’

“‘Specimens of minerals for the _effendi_ at Laurium.’

“‘Open the box!’ And, in an agony of fright, I saw them tear off the
lid of my treasure and dive their hands into its contents.

“‘Stones!’ said one official.

“‘Worthless stones!’ sneered another, ‘let the fool go; and with scant
ceremony they threw the stones back into the box, and shoved me and my
box away with a curse.

“I was now free to go wheresoever I wished, and with the aid of my
friend I found a room into which I put my box, and as I turned the
key, and sallied forth on my uncertain errand, I prayed to the Panagía
Odegetria to guide my footsteps aright.

“The next few days were a period of intense anxiety for me. In subdued
whispers I communicated to the consuls of each nation the existence of
my treasure. One had the impudence to offer me only 200 drachmas for
it, another 300, another 400, and another 500; then each came again,
advancing 100 drachmas on their former bids, and so my spirits rose,
until at last a grand _effendi_ came down from Athens, and without
hesitation offered me 1,000 drachmas. ‘Give me fifty more for the
trouble of bringing it and you shall have it,’ said I, breathless with
excitement, and in five minutes the long-coveted money was in my hands.

“My old father was very wroth when I returned to Sikinos, and when he
learnt that I had done nothing with my specimens; the brightness had
gone out of his eyes, he was more opprobrious than ever, but I cared
nothing for what he said. My mother had her cheesecakes on Easter
Sunday, and on that very day Kallirhoe and I were crowned.”

Thus ended Nikola’s romance. If ever I go to St. Petersburg, I shall
look carefully for Nikola’s statue in the Hermitage collection, which,
I understand, was its destination.—_Gentleman’s Magazine._



The illustrious woman who is the subject of these volumes makes a
remark to her publisher which is at least as relevant now as it was
then. Can nothing be done, she asks, by dispassionate criticism towards
the reform of our national habits in the matter of literary biography?
“Is it anything short of odious that as soon as a man is dead his desk
should be raked, and every insignificant memorandum which he never
meant for the public be printed for the gossiping amusement of people
too idle to read his books?” Autobiography, she says, at least saves a
man or a woman that the world is curious about, from the publication of
a string of mistakes called Memoirs. Even to autobiography, however,
she confesses her deep repugnance unless it can be written so as
to involve neither selfglorification nor impeachment of others—a
condition, by the way, with which hardly any, save Mill’s, can be said
to comply. “I like,” she proceeds, “that _He being dead yet speaketh_
should have quite another meaning than that” (iii. 226, 297, 307). She
shows the same fastidious apprehension still more clearly in another
way. “I have destroyed almost all my friends’ letters to me,” she says,
“because they were only intended for my eyes, and could only fall into
the hands of persons who knew little of the writers, if I allowed them
to remain till after my death. In proportion as I love every form of
piety—which is venerating love—I hate hard curiosity; and, unhappily,
my experience has impressed me with the sense that hard curiosity is
the more common temper of mind” (ii. 286). There is probably little
difference among us in respect of such experience as that.

Much biography, perhaps we might say most, is hardly above the level
of that “personal talk,” to which Wordsworth sagely preferred long
barren silence, the flapping of the flame of his cottage fire, and
the undersong of the kettle on the hob. It would not, then, have
much surprised us if George Eliot had insisted that her works should
remain the only commemoration of her life. There be some who think
that those who have enriched the world with great thoughts and fine
creations, might best be content to rest unmarked “where heaves the
turf in many a mouldering heap,” leaving as little work to the literary
executor, except of the purely crematory sort, as did Aristotle, Plato,
Shakespeare, and some others whose names the world will not willingly
let die. But this is a stoic’s doctrine; the objector may easily retort
that if it had been sternly acted on, we should have known very little
about Dr. Johnson, and nothing about Socrates.

This is but an ungracious prelude to some remarks upon a book, which
must be pronounced a striking success. There will be very little
dispute as to the fact that the editor of these memorials of George
Eliot has done his work with excellent taste, judgment, and sense.
He found no autobiography nor fragment of one, but he has skilfully
shaped a kind of autobiography by a plan which, so far as we know, he
is justified in calling new, and which leaves her life to write itself
in extracts from her letters and journals. With the least possible
obtrusion from the biographer, the original pieces are formed into a
connected whole “that combines a narrative of day to day life with the
play of light and shade which only letters written in serious moods can
give.” The idea is a good one, and Mr. Cross deserves great credit for
it. We may hope that its success will encourage imitators. Certainly
there are drawbacks. We miss the animation of mixed narrative. There
is, too, a touch of monotony in listening for so long to the voice of
a single speaker addressing others who are silent behind a screen. But
Mr. Cross could not we think, have devised a better way of dealing with
his material: it is simple, modest, and effective.

George Eliot, after all, led the life of a studious recluse, with none
of the bustle, variety, motion, and large communication with the outer
world, that justified Lockhart and Moore in making a long story of the
lives of Scott and Byron. Even here, among men of letters, who were
also men of action and of great sociability, are not all biographies
too long? Let any sensible reader turn to the shelf where his Lives
repose; we shall be surprised if he does not find that nearly every one
of them, taking the present century alone, and including such splendid
and attractive subjects as Goethe, Hume, Romilly, Mackintosh, Horner,
Chalmers, Arnold, Southey, Cowper, would not have been all the better
for judicious curtailment. Lockhart, who wrote the longest, wrote
also the shortest, the Life of Burns; and the shortest is the best,
in spite of defects which would only have been worse if the book had
been bigger. It is to be feared that, conscientious and honorable as
his self-denial has been, even Mr. Cross has not wholly resisted the
natural and besetting error of the biographer. Most people will think
that the hundred pages of the Italian tour (vol. ii.), and some other
not very remarkable impressions of travel, might as well or better have
been left out.

As a mere letter-writer, George Eliot will not rank among the famous
masters of what is usually considered especially a woman’s art. She
was too busy in serious work to have leisure for that most delightful
way of wasting time. Besides that, she had by nature none of that
fluency, rapidity, abandonment, pleasant volubility, which make
letters amusing, captivating, or piquant. What Mr. Cross says of
her as the mistress of a _salon_, is true of her for the most part
as a correspondent:—“Playing around many disconnected subjects, in
talk, neither interested nor amused her much. She took things too
seriously, and seldom found the effort of entertaining compensated
by the gain” (iii. 335). There is the outpouring of ardent feeling
for her friends, sobering down, as life goes on, into a crooning
kindliness, affectionate and honest, but often tinged with considerable
self-consciousness. It was said of some one that his epigrams did
honor to his heart; in the reverse direction we occasionally feel that
George Eliot’s effusive playfulness does honor to her head. It lacks
simplicity and _verve_. Even in an invitation to dinner, the words
imply a grave sense of responsibility on both sides, and sense of
responsibility is fatal to the charm of familiar correspondence.

As was inevitable in one whose mind was so habitually turned to the
deeper elements of life, she lets fall the pearls of wise speech even
in short notes. Here are one or two:—

“My own experience and development deepen every day my conviction that
our moral progress may be measured by the degree in which we sympathise
with individual suffering and individual joy.”

“If there is one attitude more odious to me than any other of the many
attitudes of ‘knowingness,’ it is that air of lofty superiority to the
vulgar. She will soon find out that I am a very commonplace woman.”

“It so often happens that others are measuring us by our past self
while we are looking back on that self with a mixture of disgust and

The following is one of the best examples, one of the few examples, of
her best manner:—

  “I have been made rather unhappy by my husband’s impulsive proposal
 about Christmas. We are dull old persons, and your two sweet young
 ones ought to find each Christmas a new bright bead to string on their
 memory, whereas to spend the time with us would be to string on a
 dark shrivelled berry. They ought to have a group of young creatures
 to be joyful with. Our own children always spend their Christmas with
 Gertrude’s family; and we have usually taken our sober merry-making
 with friends out of town. Illness among these will break our custom
 this year; and thus _mein Mann_, feeling that our Christmas was
 free, considered how very much he liked being with you, omitting the
 other side of the question—namely, our total lack of means to make a
 suitably joyous meeting, a real festival, for Phil and Margaret. I was
 conscious of this lack in the very moment of the proposal, and the
 consciousness has been pressing on me more and more painfully ever
 since. Even my husband’s affectionate hopefulness cannot withstand my
 melancholy demonstration. So pray consider the kill-joy proposition
 as entirely retracted, and give us something of yourselves only on
 simple black-letter days, when the Herald Angels have not been raising
 expectations early in the morning.”

This is very pleasant, but such pieces are rare, and the infirmity
of human nature has sometimes made us sigh over these pages at the
recollection of the cordial cheeriness of Scott’s letters, the high
spirits of Macaulay, the graceful levity of Voltaire, the rattling
dare-devilry of Byron. Epistolary stilts among men of letters went
out of fashion with Pope, who, as was said, thought that unless every
period finished with a conceit, the letter was not worth the postage.
Poor spirits cannot be the explanation of the stiffness in George
Eliot’s case, for no letters in the English language are so full of
playfulness and charm as those of Cowper, and he was habitually sunk
in gulfs deeper and blacker than George Eliot’s own. It was sometimes
observed of her, that in her conversation, _elle s’écoutait quand elle
parlait_—she seemed to be listening to her own voice while she spoke.
It must be allowed that we are not always free from an impression of
self-listening, even in the most caressing of the letters before us.

This is not much better, however, than trifling. I dare say that if
a lively Frenchman could have watched the inspired Pythia on the
sublime tripod, he would have cried, _Elle s’écoute quand elle parle_.
When everything of that kind has been said, we have the profound
satisfaction, which is not quite a matter of course in the history of
literature, of finding, after all that the woman and the writer were
one. The life does not belie the books, nor private conduct stultify
public profession. We close the third volume of the biography, as we
have so often closed the third volume of her novels, feeling to the
very core that in spite of a style that the French call _alambiqué_, in
spite of tiresome double and treble distillations of phraseology, in
spite of fatiguing moralities, gravities, and ponderosities, we have
still been in communion with a high and commanding intellect, and a
great nature. We are vexed by pedantries that recall the _précieuses_
of the Hôtel Rambouillet, but we know that she had the soul of the
most heroic women in history. We crave more of the Olympian serenity
that makes action natural and repose refreshing, but we cannot miss
the edification of a life marked by indefatigable labor after generous
purposes, by an unsparing struggle for duty, and by steadfast and
devout fellowship with lofty thoughts.

Those who know Mr. Myers’s essay on George Eliot will not have
forgotten its most imposing passage:—

 “I remember how at Cambridge, I walked with her once in the Fellows’
 Garden of Trinity, on an evening of rainy May; and she, stirred
 somewhat beyond her wont, and taking as her text the three words
 which have been used so often as the inspiring trumpet-calls of
 men.—the words _God_, _Immortality_, _Duty_,—pronounced, with terrible
 earnestness, how inconceivable was the _first_, how unbelievable the
 _second_, and yet how peremptory and absolute the _third_. Never,
 perhaps, had sterner accents affirmed the sovereignty of impersonal
 and unrecompensing law. I listened, and night fell; her grave,
 majestic countenance turned toward me like a Sibyl’s in the gloom; it
 was as though she withdrew from my grasp, one by one, the two scrolls
 of promise, and left me the third scroll only, awful with inevitable

To many, the relation, which was the most important event in George
Eliot’s life, will seem one of those irretrievable errors which reduce
all talk of duty to a mockery. It is inevitable that this should be so,
and those who disregard a social law have little right to complain.
Men and women whom in every other respect it would be monstrous to
call bad, have taken this particular law into their own hands before
now, and committed themselves to conduct of which “magnanimity owes
no account to prudence.” But if they had sense and knew what they
were about, they have braced themselves to endure the disapproval of
a majority fortunately more prudential than themselves. The world is
busy, and its instruments are clumsy. It cannot know all the facts;
it has neither time nor material for unravelling all the complexities
of motive, or for distinguishing mere libertinage from grave and
deliberate moral misjudgment; it is protecting itself as much as it
is condemning the offenders. On all this, then, we need have neither
sophistry nor cant. But those who seek something deeper than a verdict
for the honest working purpose of leaving cards and inviting to dinner,
may feel, as has been observed by a contemporary writer, that men and
women are more fairly judged, if judge them we must, by the way in
which they bear the burden of an error, than by the decision that laid
the burden on their lives. Some idea of this kind was in her own mind
when she wrote to her most intimate friend in 1857, “If I live five
years longer, the positive result of my existence on the side of truth
and goodness will outweigh the small negative good that would have
consisted in my not doing anything to shock others” (i. 461). This
urgent desire to balance the moral account may have had something to do
with that laborious sense of responsibility which weighed so heavily on
her soul, and had so equivocal an effect upon her art. Whatever else is
to be said of this particular union, nobody can deny that the picture
on which it left a mark was an exhibition of extraordinary self-denial,
energy, and persistency in the cultivation and the use of great gifts
and powers for what their possessor believed to be the highest objects
for society and mankind.

A more perfect companionship, one on a higher intellectual level, or of
more sustained mental activity, is nowhere recorded. Lewes’s mercurial
temperament contributed as much as the powerful mind of his consort to
prevent their seclusion from degenerating into an owlish stagnation. To
the very last (1878) he retained his extraordinary buoyancy. “Nothing
but death could quench that bright flame. Even on his worst days he
had always a good story to tell; and I remember on one occasion in the
drawing-room at Witley, between two bouts of pain, he sang through
with great _brio_, though without much voice, the greater portion of
the tenor part in the _Barber of Seville_, George Eliot playing his
accompaniment, and both of them thoroughly enjoying the fun” (iii.
334). All this gaiety, his inexhaustible vivacity, the facility of
his transitions from brilliant levity to a keen seriousness, the
readiness of his mental response, and the wide range of intellectual
accomplishments that were much more than superficial, made him a source
of incessant and varied stimulation. Even those, and there were some,
who thought that his gaiety bordered on flippancy, that his genial
self-content often came near to shockingly bad taste, and that his
reminiscences of poor Mr. Fitzball and the green-room and all the rest
of the Bohemia in which he had once dwelt, too racy for his company,
still found it hard to resist the alert intelligence with which he rose
to every good topic, and the extraordinary heartiness and spontaneity
with which the wholesome spring of human laughter was touched in him.

Lewes had plenty of egotism, not to give it a more unamiable name, but
it never mastered his intellectual sincerity. George Eliot describes
him as one of the few human beings she has known who will, in the
heat of an argument, see, and straightway confess, that he is in the
wrong, instead of trying to shift his ground or use any other device of
vanity. “The intense happiness of our union,” she wrote to a friend,
“is derived in a high degree from the perfect freedom with which we
each follow and declare our own impressions. In this respect I know
_no_ man so great as he—that difference of opinion rouses no egotistic
irritation in him, and that he is ready to admit that another argument
is the stronger, the moment his intellect recognises it” (ii. 279).
This will sound very easy to the dispassionate reader, because it is
so obviously just and proper, but if the dispassionate reader ever
tries, he may find the virtue not so easy as it looks. Finally, and
above all, we can never forget in Lewes’s case how much true elevation
and stability of character was implied in the unceasing reverence,
gratitude, and devotion with which for five-and-twenty years he treated
her to whom he owed all his happiness, and who most truly, in his own
words (ii. 76), had made his life a new birth.

The reader will be mistaken if he should infer from such passages as
abound in her letters that George Eliot had any particular weakness
for domestic or any other kind of idolatry. George Sand, in _Lucrezia
Floriani_ where she drew so unkind a picture of Chopin, has described
her own life and character as marked by “a great facility for
illusions, a blind benevolence of judgment, a tenderness of heart that
was inexhaustible; consequently great precipitancy, many mistakes, much
weakness, fits of heroic devotion to unworthy objects, enormous force
applied to an end that was wretched in truth and fact, but sublime in
her thought.” George Eliot had none of this facility. Nor was general
benignity in her at all of the poor kind that is incompatible with a
great deal of particular censure. Universal benevolence never lulled
an active critical faculty, nor did she conceive true humility as at
all consisting in hiding from an impostor that you have found him out.
Like Cardinal Newman, for whose beautiful passage at the end of the
_Apologia_ she expresses such richly deserved admiration (ii. 387),
she unites to the gift of unction and brotherly love, a capacity for
giving an extremely shrewd nip to a brother whom she does not love.
Her passion for Thomas-a-Kempis did not prevent her, and there was no
reason why it should, from dealing very faithfully with a friend, for
instance (ii. 271); from describing Mr. Buckle as a conceited, ignorant
man; or castigating Brougham and other people in slashing reviews; or
otherwise from showing that great expansiveness of the affections went
with a remarkably strong, hard, masculine, positive, judging head.

The benefits that George Eliot gained from her exclusive companionship
with a man of lively talents were not without some compensating
drawbacks. The keen stimulation and incessant strain, unrelieved by
variety of daily intercourse, and never diversified by participation
in the external activities of the world, tended to bring about a
loaded, over-conscious, over-anxious state of mind, which was not only
not wholesome in itself, but was inconsistent with the full freshness
and strength of artistic work. The presence of the real world in
his life has, in all but one or two cases, been one element of the
novelist’s highest success in the world of imaginative creation. George
Eliot had no greater favorite than Scott, and when a series of little
books upon English men of letters was planned, she said that she
thought that writer among us the happiest to whom it should fall to
deal with Scott. But Scott lived full in the life of his fellow-men.
Even of Wordsworth, her other favorite, though he was not a creative
artist, we may say that he daily saturated himself in those natural
elements and effects, which were the material, the suggestion, and the
sustaining inspiration of his consoling and fortifying poetry. George
Eliot did not live in the midst of her material, but aloof from it and
outside of it. Heaven forbid that this should seem to be said by way of
censure. Both her health and other considerations made all approach to
busy sociability in any of its shapes both unwelcome and impossible.
But in considering the relation of her manner of life to her work,
her creations, her meditations, one cannot but see that when compared
with some writers of her own sex and age, she is constantly bookish,
artificial, and mannered. She is this because she fed her art too
exclusively, first on the memories of her youth, and next from books,
pictures, statues, instead of from the living model, as seen in its
actual motion. It is direct calls and personal claims from without that
make fiction alive. Jane Austen bore her part in the little world of
the parlor that she described. The writer of _Sylvia’s Lovers_, whose
work George Eliot appreciated with unaffected generosity (i. 305), was
the mother of children, and was surrounded by the wholesome actualities
of the family. The authors of _Jane Eyre_ and _Wuthering Heights_
passed their days in one long succession of wild, stormy, squalid,
anxious, and miserable scenes—almost as romantic, as poetic, and as
tragic, to use George Eliot’s words, as their own stories. George Sand
eagerly shared, even to the pitch of passionate tumult and disorder,
in the emotions, the aspirations, the ardor, the great conflicts and
controversies of her time. In every one of these, their daily closeness
to the real life of the world has given a vitality to their work which
we hardly expect that even the next generation will find in more
than one or two of the romances of George Eliot. It may even come to
pass that their position will be to hers as that of Fielding is to
Richardson in our own day.

In a letter to Mr. Harrison, which is printed here (ii. 441), George
Eliot describes her own method, as “the severe effort of trying to make
certain ideas thoroughly incarnate, as if they had revealed themselves
to me first in the flesh and not in the spirit,” The passage recalls
a discussion one day at the Priory in 1877. She was speaking of the
different methods of the poetic or creative art, and said that she
began with moods, thoughts, passions, and then invented the story for
their sake, and fitted it to them; Shakespeare, on the other hand,
picked up a story that struck him, and then proceeded to work in
the moods, thoughts, passions, as they came to him in the course of
meditation on the story. We hardly need the result to convince us that
Shakespeare chose the better part.

The influence of her reserved fashion of daily life was heightened
by the literary exclusiveness which of set purpose she imposed upon
herself. “The less an author hears about himself,” she says, in one
place, “the better.” “It is my rule, very strictly observed, not
to read the criticisms on my writings. For years I have found this
abstinence necessary to preserve me from that discouragement as an
artist, which ill-judged praise, no less than ill-judged blame, tends
to produce in us.” George Eliot pushed this repugnance to criticism
beyond the personal reaction of it upon the artist, and more than
disparaged its utility, even in the most competent and highly trained
hands. She finds that the diseased spot in the literary culture of our
time is touched with the finest point by the saying of La Bruyère,
that “the pleasure of criticism robs us of the pleasure of being
keenly moved by very fine things” (iii. 327). “It seems to me,” she
writes (ii. 412), “much better to read a man’s own writings, than to
read what others say about him, especially when the man is first-rate
and the others third-rate. As Goethe said long ago about Spinoza, ‘I
always preferred to learn from the man himself what _he_ thought,
rather than to hear from some one else what he ought to have thought.’”
As if the scholar will not always be glad to do both, to study his
author and not to refuse the help of the rightly prepared commentator;
as if even Goethe himself would not have been all the better acquainted
with Spinoza, if he could have read Mr. Pollock’s book upon him. But
on this question Mr. Arnold has fought a brilliant battle, and to him
George Eliot’s heresies may well be left.

On the personal point whether an author should ever hear of himself,
George Eliot oddly enough contradicts herself in a casual remark upon
Bulwer. “I have a great respect,” she says, “for the energetic industry
which has made the most of his powers. He has been writing diligently
for more than thirty years, constantly improving his position, and
profiting by the lessons of public opinion and of other writers” (ii.
322). But if it is true that the less an author hears about himself
the better, how are these salutary “lessons of public opinion” to
penetrate to him? “Rubens,” she says, writing from Munich, in 1858 (ii.
28), “gives me more pleasure than any other painter whether right or
wrong. More than any one else he makes me feel that painting is a great
art, and that he was a great artist. His are such real breathing men
and women, moved by passions, not mincing, and grimacing, and posing
in mere imitation of passion.” But Rubens did not concentrate his
intellect on his own ponderings, nor shut out the wholesome chastenings
of praise and blame, lest they should discourage his inspiration.
Beethoven, another of the chief objects of George Eliot’s veneration,
bore all the rough stress of an active and troublesome calling,
though of the musician, if of any, we may say, that his is the art of

Hence, delightful and inspiring as it is to read this story of diligent
and discriminating cultivation, of accurate truth and real erudition
and beauty, not vaguely but methodically interpreted, one has some of
the sensations of the moral and intellectual hothouse. Mental hygiene
is apt to lead to mental valetudinarianism. “The ignorant journalist”
may be left to the torment which George Eliot wished that she could
inflict on one of those literary slovens whose manuscripts bring even
the most philosophic editor to the point of exasperation: “I should
like to stick red-hot skewers through the writer, whose style is as
sprawling as his handwriting.” By all means. But much that even the
most sympathetic reader finds repellent in George Eliot’s later work
might perhaps never have been, if Mr. Lewes had not practised with
more than Russian rigor a censorship of the press and the post office
which kept every disagreeable whisper scrupulously from her ear. To
slop every draft with sandbags, screens, and curtains, and to limit
one’s exercise to a drive in a well-warmed brougham with the windows
drawn up, may save a few annoying colds in the head, but the end of the
process will be the manufacture of an invalid.

Whatever view we may take of the precise connection between what she
read, or abstained from reading, and what she wrote, no studious man
or woman can look without admiration and envy on the breadth, variety,
seriousness, and energy, with which she set herself her tasks and
executed them. She says in one of her letters, “there is something
more piteous almost than soapless poverty in the application of
feminine incapacity to literature” (ii. 16). Nobody has ever taken
the responsibilities of literature more ardently in earnest. She was
accustomed to read aloud to Mr. Lewes three hours a day, and her
private reading, except when she was engaged in the actual stress of
composition, must have filled as many more. His extraordinary alacrity
and her brooding intensity of mind, prevented these hours from being
that leisurely process in slippers and easy chair which passes with
many for the practice of literary cultivation. Much of her reading was
for the direct purposes of her own work. The young lady who begins to
write historic novels out of her own head will find something much to
her advantage if she will refer to the list of books read by George
Eliot during the latter half of 1861, when she was meditating _Romola_
(ii. 325). Apart from immediate needs and uses, no student of our time
has known better the solace, the delight, the guidance that abide in
great writings. Nobody who did not share the scholars enthusiasm could
have described the blind scholar in his library in the adorable fifth
chapter of _Romola_; and we feel that she must have copied out with
keen gusto of her own those words of Petrarch which she puts into old
Bardo’s mouth—“_Libri medullitus delectant, colloquuntur, consulunt, et
viva quadam nobis atque arguta familiaritate junguntur_.”

As for books that are not books, as Milton bade us do with “neat
repasts with wine,” she wisely spared to interpose them oft. Her
standards of knowledge were those of the erudite and the savant,
and even in the region of beauty she was never content with any but
definite impressions. In one place in these volumes, by the way,
she makes a remark curiously inconsistent with the usual scientific
attitude of her mind. She has been reading Darwin’s _Origin of
Species_, on which she makes the truly astonishing criticism that it is
“sadly wanting in illustrative facts,” and that “it is not impressive
from want of luminous and orderly presentation” (ii. 43-48). Then
she says that “the development theory, and all other explanation of
processes by which things came to be produce a feeble impression
compared with the mystery that lies under processes.” This position
it does not now concern us to discuss, but at least it is in singular
discrepancy with her strong habitual preference for accurate and
quantitative knowledge, over vague and misty moods in the region of the
unknowable and the unreachable.

George Eliot’s means of access to books were very full. She knew
French, German, Italian, and Spanish accurately. Greek and Latin, Mr.
Cross tells us, she could read with thorough delight to herself; though
after the appalling specimen of Mill’s juvenile Latinity that Mr. Bain
has disinterred, the fastidious collegian may be sceptical of the
scholarship of prodigies. Hebrew was her favorite study to the end of
her days. People commonly supposed that she had been inoculated with
an artificial taste for science by her companion. We now learn that
she took a decided interest in natural science long before she made
Mr. Lewes’s acquaintance, and many of the roundabout pedantries that
displeased people in her latest writings, and were set down to his
account, appeared in her composition before she had ever exchanged a
word with him.

All who knew her well enough were aware that she had what Mr. Cross
describes as “limitless persistency in application.” This is an
old account of genius, but nobody illustrates more effectively the
infinite capacity of taking pains. In reading, in looking at pictures,
in playing difficult music, in talking, she was equally importunate
in the search, and equally insistent on mastery. Her faculty of
sustained concentration was part of her immense intellectual power.
“Continuous thought did not fatigue her. She could keep her mind on
the stretch hour after hour; the body might give way, but the brain
remained unwearied” (iii. 422). It is only a trifling illustration of
the infection of her indefatigable quality of taking pains, that Lewes
should have formed the important habit of re-writing every page of his
work, even of short articles for Reviews, before letting it go to the
press. The journal shows what sore pain and travail composition was to
her. She wrote the last volume of _Adam Bede_ in six weeks; she “could
not help writing it fast, because it was written under the stress of
emotion.” But what a prodigious contrast between her pace, and Walter
Scott’s twelve volumes a year! Like many other people of powerful
brains, she united strong and clear general retentiveness, with a weak
and untrustworthy verbal memory. “She never could trust herself to
write a quotation without verifying it.” “What courage and patience,”
she says of some one else, “are wanted for every life that aims to
produce anything,” and her own existence was one long and painful
sermon on that text.

Over few lives have the clouds of mental dejection hung in such heavy
unmoving banks. Nearly every chapter is strewn with melancholy words.
“I cannot help thinking more of your illness than of the pleasure in
prospect—according to my foolish nature, which is always prone to live
in past pain.” The same sentiment is the mournful refrain that runs
through all. Her first resounding triumph, the success of _Adam Bede_,
instead of buoyancy and exultation, only adds a fresh sense of the
weight upon her future life. “The self-questioning whether my nature
will be able to meet the heavy demands upon it, both of personal duty
and intellectual production—presses upon me almost continually in a
way that prevents me even from tasting the quiet joy I might have in
the _work done_. I feel no regret that the fame, as such, brings no
pleasure; but it _is_ a grief to me that I do not constantly feel
strong in thankfulness that my past life has vindicated its uses.”

_Romola_ seems to have been composed in constant gloom. “I remember
my wife telling me, at Witley,” says Mr. Cross, “how cruelly she
had suffered at Dorking from working under a leaden weight at this
time. The writing of _Romola_ ploughed into her more than any of her
other books. She told me she could put her finger on it as marking a
well-defined transition in her life. In her own words, ‘I began it a
young woman—I finished it an old woman.’” She calls upon herself to
make “greater efforts against indolence and the despondency that comes
from too egoistic a dread of failure.” “This is the last entry I mean
to make in my old book in which I wrote for the first time at Geneva
in 1849. What moments of despair I passed through after that—despair
that life would ever be made precious to me by the consciousness
that I lived to some good purpose! It was that sort of despair that
sucked away the sap of half the hours which might have been filled by
energetic youthful activity; and the same demon tries to get hold of
me again whenever an old work is dismissed, and a new one is being
meditated” (ii. 307). One day the entry is: “Horrible scepticism about
all things paralysing my mind. Shall I ever be good for anything
again? Ever do anything again?” On another, she describes herself to
a trusted friend as “a mind morbidly desponding, and a consciousness
tending more and more to consist in memories of error and imperfection
rather than in a strengthening sense of achievement.” We have to turn
to such books as Bunyan’s _Grace Abounding_ to find any parallel to
such wretchedness.

Times were not wanting when the sun strove to shine through the gloom,
when the resistance to melancholy was not wholly a failure, and when,
as she says, she felt that Dante was right in condemning to the Stygian
marsh those who had been sad under the blessed sunlight. “Sad were we
in the sweet air that is gladdened by the sun, bearing sluggish smoke
in our hearts; now lie we sadly here in the black ooze.” But still for
the most part sad she remained in the sweet air, and the look of pain
that haunted her eyes and brow even in her most genial and animated
moments, only told too truly the story of her inner life.

That from this central gloom a shadow should spread to her work was
unavoidable. It would be rash to compare George Eliot with Tacitus,
with Dante, with Pascal. A novelist—for as a poet, after trying hard
to think otherwise, most of us find her magnificent but unreadable—as
a novelist bound by the conditions of her art to deal in a thousand
trivialities of human character and situation, she has none of their
severity of form. But she alone of moderns has their note of sharp-cut
melancholy, of sombre rumination, of brief disdain. Living in a time
when humanity has been raised, whether formally or informally, into a
religion, she draws a painted curtain of pity before the tragic scene.
Still the attentive ear catches from time to time the accents of an
unrelenting voice, that proves her kindred with those three mighty
spirits and stern monitors of men. In George Eliot, a reader with a
conscience may be reminded of the saying that when a man opens Tacitus
he puts himself in the confessional. She was no vague dreamer over
the folly and the weakness of men, and the cruelty and blindness of
destiny. Hers is not the dejection of the poet who “could lie down
like a tired child, And weep away this life of care,” as Shelley at
Naples; nor is it the despairing misery that moved Cowper in the
awful verses of the _Castaway_. It was not such self-pity as wrung
from Burns the cry to life, “Thou art a galling load, Along, a rough,
a weary road, To wretches such as I;” nor such general sense of the
woes of the race as made Keats think of the world as a place where
men sit and hear each other groan, “Where but to think is to be full
of sorrow, And leaden-eyed despairs.” She was as far removed from the
plangent reverie of Rousseau as from the savage truculence of Swift.
Intellectual training had given her the spirit of order and proportion,
of definiteness and measure, and this marks her alike from the great
sentimentalists and the sweeping satirists. “Pity and fairness,” as
she beautifully says (iii. 317), “are two little words which, carried
out, would embrace the utmost delicacies of the moral life.” But hers
is not seldom the severe fairness of the judge, and the pity that may
go with putting on the black cap after a conviction for high treason.
In the midst of many an easy flowing page, the reader is surprised by
some bitter aside, some judgment of intense and concentrated irony with
the flash of a blade in it, some biting sentence where lurks the stern
disdain and the anger of Tacitus, and Dante, and Pascal. Souls like
these are not born for happiness.

       *       *       *       *       *

This is not the occasion for an elaborate discussion of George Eliot’s
place in the mental history of her time, but her biography shows
that she travelled along the road that was trodden by not a few in
her day. She started from that fervid evangelicalism which has made
the base of many a powerful character in this century, from Cardinal
Newman downwards. Then with curious rapidity she threw it all off,
and embraced with equal zeal the rather harsh and crude negations
which were then associated with the _Westminster Review_. The second
stage did not last much longer than the first. “Religious and moral
sympathy with the historical life of man,” she said (ii. 363), “is the
larger half of culture;” and this sympathy, which was the fruit of
her culture, had by the time she was thirty become the new seed of a
positive faith and a semi-conservative creed. Here is a passage from a
letter of 1862 (she had translated Strauss, we may remind ourselves,
in 1845, and Feuerbach in 1854):—

 “Pray don’t ask me ever again not to rob a man of his religious
 belief, as if you thought my mind tended to such robbery. I have
 too profound a conviction of the efficacy that lies in all sincere
 faith, and the spiritual blight that comes with no-faith, to have any
 negative propagandism in me. In fact, I have very little sympathy with
 Freethinkers as a class, and have lost all interest in mere antagonism
 to religious doctrines. I care only to know, if possible, the lasting
 meaning that lies in all religious doctrine from the beginning till
 now” (ii. 243).

Eleven years later the same tendency had deepened and gone further:—

 “All the great religions of the world, historically considered, are
 rightly the objects of deep reverence and sympathy—they are the
 record of spiritual struggles, which are the types of our own. This
 is to me pre-eminently true of Hebrewism and Christianity, on which
 my own youth was nourished. And in this sense I have no antagonism
 towards any religious belief, but a strong outflow of sympathy. Every
 community met to worship the highest God (which is understood to be
 expressed by God) carries me along in its main current; and if there
 were not reasons against by following such an inclination, I should
 go to church or chapel, constantly, for the sake of the delightful
 emotions of fellowship which come over me in religious assemblies—the
 very nature of such assemblies being the recognition of a binding
 belief or spiritual law, which is to lift us into willing obedience,
 and save us from the slavery of unregulated passion or impulse. And
 with regard to other people, it seems to me that those who have no
 definite conviction which constitutes a protesting faith, may often
 more beneficially cherish the good within them and be better members
 of society by a conformity based on the recognized good in the public
 belief, than by a nonconformity which has nothing but negatives to
 utter. _Not_, of course, if the conformity would be accompanied by
 a consciousness of hypocrisy. That is a question for the individual
 conscience to settle. But there is enough to be said on the different
 points of view from which conformity may be regarded, to hinder a
 ready judgment against those who continue to conform after ceasing
 to believe in the ordinary sense. But with the utmost largeness of
 allowance for the difficulty of deciding in special cases, it must
 remain true that the highest lot is to have definite beliefs about
 which you feel that ‘necessity is laid upon you’ to declare them, as
 something better which you are bound to try and give to those who have
 the worse” (iii. 215-217).

These volumes contain many passages in the same sense—as, of course,
her books contain them too. She was a constant reader of the Bible,
and the _Imitatio_ was never far from her hand. “She particularly
enjoyed reading aloud some of the finest chapters of Isaiah, Jeremiah,
and St. Paul’s Epistles. The Bible and our elder English poets best
suited the organ-like tones of her voice, which required for their full
effect a certain solemnity and majesty of rhythm.” She once expressed
to a younger friend, who shared her opinions, her sense of the loss
which they had in being unable to practise the old ordinances of family
prayer. “I hope,” she says, “we are well out of that phase in which the
most philosophic view of the past was held to be a smiling survey of
human folly, and when the wisest man was supposed to be one who could
sympathise with no age but the age to come” (ii. 308).

For this wise reaction she was no doubt partially indebted, as so
many others have been, to the teaching of Comte. Unquestionably the
fundamental ideas had come into her mind at a much earlier period,
when, for example, she was reading Mr. R. W. Mackay’s _Progress of
the Intellect_ (1850, i. 253). But it was Comte who enabled her to
systematise these ideas, and to give them that “definiteness,” which,
as these pages show in a hundred places, was the quality that she
sought before all others alike in men and their thoughts. She always
remained at a respectful distance from complete adherence to Comte’s
scheme, but she was never tired of protesting that he was a really
great thinker, that his famous survey of the Middle Ages in the fifth
volume of the _Positive Philosophy_ was full of luminous ideas, and
that she had thankfully learned much from it. Wordsworth, again, was
dear to her in no small degree on the strength of such passages as that
from the _Prelude_, which is the motto of one of the last chapters of
her last novel:—

    “The human nature with which I felt
    That I belonged and reverenced with love,
    Was not a persistent presence, but a spirit
    Diffused through time and space, with aid derived
    Of evidence from monuments, erect,
    Prostrate, or leaning towards their common rest
    In earth, _the widely scattered wreck sublime
    Of vanished nations_.”

Or this again, also from the _Prelude_, (see iii. 389):—

                          “There is
    One great society alone on earth:
    The noble Living and the noble Dead.”

Underneath this growth and diversity of opinion we see George Eliot’s
oneness of character, just, for that matter, as we see it in Mill’s
long and grave march from the uncompromising denials instilled into him
by his father, then through Wordsworthian mysticism and Coleridgean
conservatism, down to the pale belief and dim starlight faith of his
posthumous volume. George Eliot was more austere, more unflinching,
and of ruder intellectual constancy than Mill. She never withdrew
from the position that she had taken up, of denying and rejecting;
she stood to that to the end: what she did was to advance to the far
higher perception that denial and rejection are not the aspects best
worth attending to or dwelling upon. She had little patience with those
who fear that the doctrine of protoplasm must dry up the springs of
human effort. Any one who trembles at that catastrophe may profit by
a powerful remonstrance of hers in the pages before us (iii. 245-250,
also 228).

 “The consideration of molecular physics is not the direct ground of
 human love and moral action, any more than it is the direct means of
 composing a noble picture or of enjoying great music. One might as
 well hope to dissect one’s own body and be merry in doing it, as take
 molecular physics (in which you must banish from your field of view
 what is specifically human) to be your dominant guide, your determiner
 of motives, in what is solely human. That every study has its bearing
 on every other is true; but pain and relief, love and sorrow, have
 their peculiar history which make an experience and knowledge over and
 above the swing of atoms.

 “With regard to the pains and limitations of one’s personal lot, I
 suppose there is not a single man, or woman, who has not more or less
 need of that stoical resignation which is often a hidden heroism, or
 who, in considering his or her past history, is not aware that it
 has been cruelly affected by the ignorant or selfish action of some
 fellow-being in a more or less close relation of life. And to my mind,
 there can be no stronger motive, than this perception, to an energetic
 effort that the lives nearest to us shall not suffer in a like manner
 from _us_.

 “As to duration and the way in which it affects your view of the human
 history, what is really the difference to your imagination between
 infinitude and billions when you have to consider the value of human
 experience? Will you say that since your life has a term of threescore
 years and ten, it was really a matter of indifference whether you were
 a cripple with a wretched skin disease, or an active creature with a
 mind at large for the enjoyment of knowledge, and with a nature which
 has attracted others to you?”

For herself, she remained in the position described in one of her
letters in 1860 (ii. 283):—“I have faith in the working out of higher
possibilities than the Catholic or any other Church has presented;
and those who have strength to wait and endure are bound to accept
no formula which their whole souls—their intellect, as well as their
emotions—do not embrace with entire reverence. The highest calling and
election is _to do without opium_, and live through all our pain with
conscious, clear-eyed endurance.” She would never accept the common
optimism. As she says here:—“Life, though a good to men on the whole,
is a doubtful good to many, and to some not a good at all. To my
thought it is a source of constant mental distortion to make the denial
of this a part of religion—to go on pretending things are better than
they are.”

Of the afflicting dealings with the world of spirits, which in those
days were comparatively limited to the untutored minds of America, but
which since have come to exert so singular a fascination for some of
the most brilliant of George Eliot’s younger friends (see iii. 204),
she thought as any sensible Philistine among us persists in thinking to
this day:—

  “If it were another spirit aping Charlotte Brontë—if here and there
 at rare spots and among people of a certain temperament, or even at
 many spots and among people of all temperaments, tricksy spirits
 are liable to rise as a sort of earth-bubbles and set furniture in
 movement, and tell things which we either know already or should be as
 well without knowing—I must frankly confess that I have but a feeble
 interest in these doings, feeling my life very short for the supreme
 and awful revelations of a more orderly and intelligible kind which
 I shall die with an imperfect knowledge of. If there were miserable
 spirits whom we could help—then I think we should pause and have
 patience with their trivial-mindedness; but otherwise I don’t feel
 bound to study them more than I am bound to study the special follies
 of a peculiar phase of human society. Others, who feel differently,
 and are attracted towards this study, are making an experiment for us
 as to whether anything better than bewilderment can come of it. At
 present it seems to me that to rest any fundamental part of religion
 on such a basis is a melancholy misguidance of men’s minds from the
 true sources of high and pure emotion” (iii. 161).

The period of George Eliot’s productions was from 1856, the date of her
first stories, down to 1876, when she wrote, not under her brightest
star, her last novel of _Daniel Deronda_. During this time the great
literary influences of the epoch immediately preceding had not indeed
fallen silent, but the most fruitful seed had been sown. Carlyle’s
_Sartor_ (1833-4), and his _Miscellaneous Essays_ (collected, 1839),
were in all hands; but he had fallen into the terrible slough of his
Prussian history (1858-65), and the last word of his evangel had gone
forth to all whom it concerned. _In Memoriam_, whose noble music and
deep-browed thought awoke such new and wide response in men’s hearts,
was published in 1850. The second volume of _Modern Painters_, of which
I have heard George Eliot say, as of _In Memoriam_ too, that she owed
much and very much to it, belongs to an earlier date still (1846), and
when it appeared, though George Eliot was born in the same year as its
author, she was still translating Strauss at Coventry. Mr. Browning,
for whose genius she had such admiration, and who was always so good
a friend, did indeed produce during this period some work which the
adepts find as full of power and beauty as any that ever came from his
pen. But Mr. Browning’s genius has moved rather apart from the general
currents of his time, creating character and working out motives from
within, undisturbed by transient shadows from the passing questions and
answers of the day.

The romantic movement was then upon its fall. The great Oxford
movement, which besides its purely ecclesiastical effects, had linked
English religion once more to human history, and which was itself one
of the unexpected out-comes of the romantic movement, had spent its
original force, and no longer interested the stronger minds among the
rising generation. The hour had sounded for the scientific movement.
In 1859, was published the _Origin of Species_, undoubtedly the most
far-reaching agency of the time, supported as it was by a volume of
new knowledge which came pouring in from many sides. The same period
saw the important speculations of Mr. Spencer, whose influence on
George Eliot had from their first acquaintance been of a very decisive
kind. Two years after the _Origin of Species_ came Maine’s _Ancient
Law_, and that was followed by the accumulations of Mr. Tylor and
others, exhibiting order and fixed correlation among great sets of
facts which had hitherto lain in that cheerful chaos of general
knowledge which has been called general ignorance. The excitement
was immense. Evolution, development, heredity, adaptation, variety,
survival, natural selection, were so many patent pass-keys that were to
open every chamber.

George Eliot’s novels, as they were the imaginative application of
this great influx of new ideas, so they fitted in with the moods
which those ideas had called up. “My function,” she said (iii. 330),
“is that of the æsthetic, not the doctrinal teacher—the rousing of
the nobler emotions which make mankind desire the social right, not
the prescribing of special measures, concerning which the artistic
mind, however strongly moved by social sympathy, is often not the
best judge.” Her influence in this direction over serious and
impressionable minds was great indeed. The spirit of her art exactly
harmonised with the new thoughts that were shaking the world of her
contemporaries. Other artists had drawn their pictures with a strong
ethical background, but she gave a finer color and a more spacious air
to her ethics, by showing the individual passions and emotions of her
characters, their adventures and their fortunes, as evolving themselves
from long series of antecedent causes, and bound up with many widely
operating forces and distant events. Here, too, we find ourselves
in the full stream of evolution, hereditary, survival, and fixed
inexorable law.

This scientific quality of her work may be considered to have stood in
the way of her own aim. That the nobler emotions roused by her writings
tend to “make mankind desire the social right,” is not to be doubted;
that we are not sure that she imparts peculiar energy to the desire.
What she kindles is not a very strenuous, aggressive, and operative
desire. The sense of the iron limitations that are set to improvement
in present and future by inexorable forces of the past, is stronger in
her than any intrepid resolution to press on to whatever improvement
may chance to be within reach if we only make the attempt. In energy,
in inspiration, in the kindling of living faith in social effort,
George Sand, not to speak of Mazzini, takes a far higher place.

It was certainly not the business of an artist to form judgments in
the sphere of practical politics, but George Eliot was far too humane
a nature not to be deeply moved by momentous events as they passed.
Yet her observations, at any rate after 1848, seldom show that energy
of sympathy of which we have been speaking, and these observations
illustrate our point. We can hardly think that anything was ever said
about the great civil war in America, so curiously far-fetched as the
following reflection:—“My best consolation is that an example on so
tremendous a scale of the need for the education of mankind through
the affections and sentiments, as a basis for true development, will
have a strong influence on all thinkers, and be a check to the arid
narrow antagonism which in some quarters is held to be the only form of
liberal thought” (ii. 335).

In 1848, as we have said, she felt the hopes of the hour in all their
fulness. To a friend she writes (i. 179):—”You and Carlyle (have you
seen his article in last week’s _Examiner_?) are the only two people
who feel just as I would have them—who can glory in what is actually
great and beautiful without putting forth any cold reservations
and incredulities to save their credit for wisdom. I am all the
more delighted with your enthusiasm because I didn’t expect it. I
feared that you lacked revolutionary ardor. But no—you are just as
_sans-culottish_ and rash as I would have you. You are not one of those
sages whose reason keeps so tight a rein on their emotions that they
are too constantly occupied in calculating consequences to rejoice
in any great manifestation of the forces that underlie our everyday

“I thought we had fallen on such evil days that we were to see no
really great movement—that ours was what St. Simon calls a purely
critical epoch, not at all an organic one; but I begin to be glad of
my date. I would consent, however, to have a year clipt off my life
for the sake of witnessing such a scene as that of the men of the
barricades bowing to the image of Christ, ‘who first taught fraternity
to men.’ One trembles to look into every fresh newspaper lest there
should be something to mar the picture; but hitherto even the scoffing
newspaper critics have been compelled into a tone of genuine respect
for the French people and the Provisional Government. Lamartine can
act a poem if he cannot write one of the very first order. I hope that
beautiful face given to him in the pictorial newspaper is really his:
it is worthy of an aureole. I have little patience with people who can
find time to pity Louis Philippe and his moustachioed sons. Certainly
our decayed monarchs should be pensioned off: we should have a hospital
for them, or a sort of zoological garden, where these worn-out humbugs
may be preserved. It is but justice that we should keep them, since we
have spoiled them for any honest trade. Let them sit on soft cushions,
and have their dinner regularly, but, for heaven’s sake, preserve me
from sentimentalizing over a pampered old man when the earth has its
millions of unfed souls and bodies. Surely he is not so Ahab-like as to
wish that the revolution had been deferred till his son’s days: and I
think the shades of the Stuarts would have some reason to complain if
the Bourbons, who are so little better than they, had been allowed to
reign much longer.”

The hopes of ’48 were not very accurately fulfilled, and in George
Eliot they never came to life again. Yet in social things we may be
sure that undying hope is the secret of vision.

There is a passage in Coleridge’s _Friend_ which seems to represent the
outcome of George Eliot’s teaching on most, and not the worst, of her
readers:—“The tangle of delusions,” says Coleridge, “which stifled and
distorted the growing tree of our well-being has been torn away; the
parasite weeds that fed on its very roots have been plucked up with a
salutary violence. To us there remain only quiet duties, the constant
care, the gradual improvement, the cautious and unhazardous labors of
the industrious though contented gardener—to prune, to strengthen, to
engraft, and one by one to remove from its leaves and fresh shoots the
slug and the caterpillar.” Coleridge goes further than George Eliot,
when he adds the exhortation—“Far be it from us to undervalue with
light and senseless detraction the conscientious hardihood of our
predecessors, or even to condemn in them that vehemence to which the
blessings it won for us leave us now neither temptation nor pretext.”

George Eliot disliked vehemence more and more as her work advanced.
The word “crudity,” so frequently on her lips, stood for all that
was objectionable and distasteful. The conservatism of an artistic
moral nature was shocked by the seeming peril to which priceless
moral elements of human character were exposed by the energumens of
progress. Their impatient hopes for the present appeared to her rather
unscientific; their disregard of the past, very irreverent and impious.
Mill had the same feeling when he disgusted his father by standing
up for Wordsworth, on the ground that Wordsworth was helping to keep
alive in human nature elements which utilitarians and innovators would
need when their present and particular work was done. Mill, being free
from the exaltations that make the artist, kept a truer balance. His
famous pair of essays on Bentham and Coleridge were published (for
the first time, so far as our generation was concerned) in the same
year as _Adam Bede_, and I can vividly remember how the “Coleridge”
first awoke in many of us, who were then youths at Oxford, that sense
of truth having many mansions, and that desire and power of sympathy
with the past, with the positive bases of the social fabric, and with
the value of Permanence in States, which form the reputable side of
all conservatisms. This sentiment and conviction never took richer
or more mature form than in the best work of George Eliot, and her
stories lighted up with a fervid glow the truths that minds of another
type had just brought to the surface. It was this that made her a
great moral force at that epoch, especially for all who were capable
by intellectual training of standing at her point of view. We even, as
I have said, tried hard to love her poetry, but the effort has ended
less in love than in a very distant homage to the majestic in intention
and the sonorous in execution. In fiction, too, as the years go by,
we begin to crave more fancy, illusion, enchantment, than the quality
of her genius allowed. But the loftiness of her character is abiding,
and it passes nobly through the ordeal of an honest biography. “For
the lessons,” says the fine critic already quoted, “most imperatively
needed by the mass of men, the lessons of deliberate kindness, of
careful truth, of unwavering endeavor,—for these plain themes one could
not ask a more convincing teacher than she whom we are commemorating
now. Everything in her aspect and presence was in keeping with the
bent of her soul. The deeply-lined face, the too marked and massive
features, were united with an air of delicate refinement, which in one
way was the more impressive because it seemed to proceed so entirely
from within. Nay, the inward beauty would sometimes quite transform
the external harshness; there would be moments when the thin hands
that entwined themselves in their eagerness, the earnest figure that
bowed forward to speak and hear, the deep gaze moving from one face
to another with a grave appeal,—all these seemed the transparent
symbols that showed the presence of a wise, benignant soul.” As a wise,
benignant soul George Eliot will still remain for all right-judging men
and women.—_Macmillan’s Magazine._




    Because Song’s brightest stars have crowned his head,
      And to his soul their loveliest dreams unfurled,
    Because since Shakespeare joined the deathless dead,
      No loftier Poet has entranced the world.


    Because Olympian food, ethereal wine,
      Are his who fills Apollo’s golden lute.
    Why should he not from his high heaven incline,
      To take from lowlier hands their proffered food?


    Free is the earnest offering! he as free
      To condescend toward the gift they bring;
    No Dead-Sea apple is a lord’s degree,
      To foul the lips of him, our Poet-King.
                         —_London Home Chimes._



_Translated, with His Majesty’s permission, by Carl Siewers._

If you will accompany us on our journey towards the snow-covered peaks
of the Sogne Mountains yonder, you are welcome! But quick, not a moment
is to be lost; day is dawning, and we have a long journey before us.
It is still five stiff Norwegian miles to the coast in Bergen’s Stift,
although we did two yesterday from the last dwelling in the valley
of Lom. We ought to be under shelter before dusk; the night might be
“rough” up yonder among the white-capped old peaks, so therefore to
horse, and forward!

We are compelled to say good-bye to the last _Sæter_ there on the
silent shores of the deep gloomy mountain lake, a duty which we perform
with no light heart. How strange the _Sæter_ life and dwellings appear
to the stranger! How poor this long and dark structure seems at first
sight, and yet how hearty and unexpectedly lavish is the hospitality
which the simple children of the mountain extend to the weary traveller!

Milk, warm from the cow, fresh-churned butter, reindeer meat, and a
couple of delicious trout which we have just seen taken from the lake
below, form a regal feast indeed; and, spiced with the keen appetite
which the air up here creates, the meal can only be equalled by the
luxury of reposing on a soft couch of fresh, fragrant hay.

On the threshold as we depart, stand the pretty _Budejer_ (dairy
maids), in the neat costume of the people in the Guldbrandsdal valley,
nodding a tender farewell to us, and wishing us a hearty “_Lykke paa
Reisen_.” Yes, there they stand, following us with their gaze as we
proceed along the steep mountain path, till we disappear from view in
the rocky glen. I said “path.” Well, that is the name assigned to it,
but never did I imagine the existence of such a riding “ladder,” and
it may well be necessary to have the peculiar race of mountain horses
found here, for a rider to get safely to his journey’s end.

Now the road lies through rapid mountain streams, where the roaring
waterfall may in an instant sweep man and beast into a yawning
abyss below, and now across a precipice, where the lake divides the
mountains, and death lurks a yard to your left. Again across the
steepest slopes, where Nature appears to have amused herself by tossing
masses of jagged, tottering rocks in heaps, and where no ordinary
horse’s hoof would find a safe hold. But if you only watch these brave
and sagacious little animals, how carefully they consider the slightest
movement and measure the smallest step, they will inspire you with the
greatest confidence, and you will continue your journey on their back
without the slightest fear, along the wildest path, on the edge of
the most awe-inspiring abyss. And should one of these excellent cobs
stumble, which happened once or twice during our ride, it is only on
comparatively safe ground, where probably the horse does not consider
much attention is required.

We now climb still higher; gradually the sound of cow bells and the
soft melodies from the _Lur_, (the Norse alpenhorn,) are wafted into
space, and in return, a sharp chilly gust of wind, called _Fjeldsno_,
sweeps along the valley slopes, carrying with it the last souvenir of
society and civilization. We have long ago left the populated districts
behind, the mountain Nature stands before us, and surrounds us in
all its imposing grandeur. The roar of the mighty Bæver river is the
only sound which breaks the impressive silence, and even this becomes
fainter and fainter as we mount higher and higher, and the mass of
water decreases and the fall becomes steeper and steeper, till at last
the big river is reduced to a little noisy, foaming brook, skipping
from rock to rock, and plunging from one ledge to another, twisting its
silvery thread into the most fantastic shapes.

The morning had dawned rather dull, which in these altitudes means that
we had been enveloped in a thick damp mist; but the gusts from the
snow-fields soon chase the heavy clouds away, and seem to sweep them
into a heap round the crests of the lofty mountains. At last a streak
of blue appears overhead, and through the rent clouds a faint sunbeam
shoots across the high plateau, one stronger and more intense follows,
a second and third. It’s clearing!

Oh, what a magnificent spectacle! Never will it fade from my
recollection; indelibly it stands stamped on my mind. Before us lies
a grand glacier, the Smörstabsbræen, from whose icy lap our old
acquaintance the Bæver river starts on his laborious journey to the
Western Ocean. The bright rays of the noonday sun are playing on the
burnished surface of the glacier, which now flashes like a _rivière_
of the choicest diamonds, now glitters clear and transparent as
crystal, and now gleams in green and blue like a mass of emeralds and
sapphires, the rapid transformation of tint being ten times multiplied
by the play of the shadow of the clouds fleeting across the azure
heavens. And above the glacier there towers a gigantic mountain with
the weird name of “_Fanarauken_” (The Devil’s Smoke), which may be
considered as the solitary vedette of the body of peaks which under
the name of Horungtinderne forms the loftiest part of the Jotun or
Sogne Mountains. Some of the slopes of the peaks seem covered with
white snow, while others stand out in bold relief, jet black in color:
somewhat awe-inspiring, with the cold, pale-green background which
the sky assumes in the regions of eternal snow. The crests of the
Horungtinderne, some six to eight thousand feet above the sea, are
steep and jagged, and around them the snow-clouds have settled, and
when the wind attempts to tear them away they twirl upwards, resembling
smoking volcanoes, which further enhances the strangeness of the scene.

To our right there are some immense snow-fields, still we are told that
there is very little snow in the mountains this year!

Long ago we left the last dwarf birch (_Betula nana_), six feet in
height, behind us, and are now approaching the border of eternal snow.
We reach it, spring from our horses, and are soon engaged in throwing
snowballs at each other.

It is the 15th of August, but the air is icy cold; it is more like one
of those clear, cool spring mornings, so familiar to the Northerner,
when rude Boreas is abroad, but far more invigorating and entirely
free from that unpleasant, raw touch which fosters colds and worse
illnesses. Here disease is unknown, one feels as if drinking the elixir
of life in every breath, and, whilst the eye can roam freely over the
immense plateau, the lungs are free to inhale the pure mountain air

One is at once gay and solemn. Thought and vision soar over the immense
fields and expand with the extended view, and this consciousness is
doubly emphasised by the sense of depression we have just experienced
under the overhanging mountains in the narrow Sæter’s valley. One
feels as if away from the world one is wont to move in, as if parted
from life on earth and brought suddenly face to face with the Almighty
Creator of Nature. One is compelled to acknowledge one’s own lowliness
and impotence. A snow-cloud, and one is buried for ever; a fog, and the
only slender thread which guides the wanderer to the distant abode of
man is lost.

Never before had I experienced such a sensation, not even during a
terrific storm in the Atlantic Ocean, or on beholding the desert of
Sahara from the pyramid of Cheops. In the latter case, I am in the
vicinity of a populated district and an extensive town, and need only
turn round to see Cairo’s minarets and citadel in the distance; and
again at sea, the ship is a support to the eye, and I am surrounded
by many people, who all participate in the very work which engages
myself; I seem to a certain extent to carry my home with me. Whilst
here, on the other hand, I am, as it were, torn away from everything
dear to me—a speck of dust on the enormous snowdrift—and I feel my own
impotence more keenly as the Nature facing me becomes grander and more
gigantic, and whose forces may from inaction in an instant be called
into play, bringing destruction on the fatigued wanderer. But we did
not encounter them, and it is indeed an exception that any danger is
incurred. With provisions for a couple of days, sure and resolute
guides, enduring horses, and particularly bold courage and good temper,
all will go well. As regards good temper, this is a gift of welcome and
gratitude: presents from the mountains to the rare traveller who finds
his way up here.

Our little caravan, a most appropriate designation, has certainly
something very picturesque about it, whether looking at the travellers
in their rough cloaks, slouched hats and top boots, or our little
long-haired cobs with their strong sinewy limbs and close-cropped
manes, or the ponies carrying our traps in a _Klöf_ saddle.

These sagacious and enduring _Klöf_ horses are certainly worth

I cannot understand how they support the heavy and bulky packages they
carry, covering nearly the entire body, and still less how they are
able to spring, thus encumbered, so nimbly from one ledge to another
and so adroitly to descend the steep, slippery mountain slopes, or so
fearlessly wade through the small but deep pools—_Tjærn_—which we so
often encounter on our road. The most surprising thing is that our
_Klöf_ horses always prefer to be in the van, yes, even forcing their
way to the front, where the path is narrowest, and the abyss at its
side most appalling, and when they gain the desired position they seem
to lead the entire party. What guides them in their turn? Simply the
instinct with which Nature has endowed them.

Life in the mountains, and the daily intimate acquaintance with the
giant forces of Nature, seem to create something corresponding in the
character of the simple dwellers among the high valleys of Norway.
As a type I may mention an old reindeer-hunter, whom we met in the
mountains. Seventy winters had snown on his venerable locks, serving
only however to ornament his proudly-borne head. Leaning on his rough
but unerring rifle, motionless as a statue, he appears before us on a
hill at some distance. Silent and solemn is his greeting as we pass,
and we see him still yonder, motionless as the rocks, which soon hide
him from our view. Thus he has to spend many a weary hour, even days,
in order to earn his scanty living. To me it seemed a hard lot, but
he is content—he knows no better, the world has not tempted _him_ to

Not far from the highest point on our road lies a small stone hut,
tumbledown, solitary, uninviting, but nevertheless a blessed refuge
to the traveller who has been caught in rough weather, and I should
say that the finest hotel in Europe is scarcely entered with such
feelings of grateful contentment as this wretched _Fjeldstue_ is taken
possession of by the fatigued, frozen, or strayed traveller.

We were, however, lucky enough not to be in want of the refuge, as the
weather became more and more lovely and the air more transparent as we

About half-way across the mountains we discovered, after some search,
the horses which had been ordered to meet us here from the other side
in Bergen’s Stift; and to order fresh animals to meet one half-way
when crossing is certainly a wise plan, which I should recommend to
every one, though I must honestly add that our horses did not appear
the least exhausted in spite of their four hours’ trot yesterday and
six to-day, continually ascending. In the open air we prepared and did
ample justice to a simple fare, and no meal ever tasted better. And
meanwhile we let our horses roam about and gather what moss they could
in the mountain clefts.

After a rest of about two hours we again mount and resume our journey
with renewed strength. It is still five hours’ journey to our
destination on the coast.

We did not think that, after what we had already seen, a fresh grand
view, even surpassing the former, would be revealed to our gaze; but we
were mistaken.

Anything more grand, more impressive than the view from the last
eminence, the Ocsar’s Houg, before we begin to descend, it is
impossible to imagine! Before us loom the three Skagastölstinder,
almost the loftiest peaks in the Scandinavian peninsula. More than
seven thousand feet they raise their crests above the level of the
sea, and they stand yonder as clearly defined as if within rifle-shot,
whilst they are at least half a day’s journey distant. To their base
no human being has ever penetrated, their top has never been trodden by

And they certainly appear terribly steep; snow cannot gather on their
slopes, but only festoons the rocks here and there, or hides in the
crevices, where the all-dispersing wind has lost its force. The
mountain has a cold steel-gray color, and around the pointed cones
snow-clouds move erratically, sometimes gathering in a most fantastic
manner in a mass and again suddenly disappearing, as though chased by
some invisible power.

And around us the dark jagged peaks of the Horungtinder, alternating
with dazzling snow-fields, which increase in extent to the north, thus
bespeaking their close proximity to the famous glacier of Justedalen.

Does this complete my picture? No; our glance has only swept the
sun-bathed heights above, but now it is lowered, sinking with terror
into yawning abysses, and lost in a gloomy depth, without outlines,
without limit! A waterfall rushes wildly forward, downwards—whither? We
see it not; we do not know; we can only imagine that it plunges into
some appalling chasm below. In very favorable weather it is said to be
possible to see the Ocean—the bottom of the abyss—quite plainly from
this eminence; we could, however, only distinguish its faint outlines,
as the sun shone right in our eyes. We saw, half “by faith” however,
the innermost creek of the Lysterfjord. But remember this creek was
rather below than before us!

“Surely it is not intended to descend into this abyss on horseback?” I
ask with some apprehension. “Yes, it is,” responds my venerable guide
with that inimitable, confidence-creating calmness which distinguishes
the Norwegian. I involuntarily think compassionately of my neck.
Perhaps the mountaineer observed my momentary surprise, as this race is
gifted with remarkable keenness; perhaps not. However, I felt a slight
flush on my face, and that decided me, _coûte que coûte_, never to
dismount, however tempted. And of course I did not.

We had, in fact, no choice. We were bound to proceed by this road and
no other, unless we desired to return all the way to Guldbrandsdalen,
miss all our nicely-arranged trips around the Sogne and Nœrö fjords,
and disappoint the steamer waiting for us with our carriage and traps.
And above all, what an ignominious retreat! No; such a thought did not
for a moment enter our head. Therefore come what may, forward!

On a balmy evening, as the rays of the setting sun tint the landscape,
we find ourselves on the seashore, safe and sound.

But to attempt a description of the adventurous break-neck, giddy
descent, I must decline. I can scarcely review it in my mind at this
moment, when I attempt to gather the scattered fragments of this
remarkable ride, the most extraordinary I ever performed. But one word
I will add: one must not be afraid or subject to giddiness, else the
Sogne Mountains had better be left out of the programme. Only have
confidence in the mountain horse, and all will go well.

Well, had I even arrived as far as this in my journey, I would unfold
to you a very different canvas, with warmer colors and a softer touch.
I would, in the fertile valley of Fortun, at 62° latitude N., conjure
up to your astonished gaze entire groves of wild cherry-trees laden
with ripe fruit; I would show you corn, weighty and yellow three months
after being sown, in close rich rows, or undulating oats ready for the
sickle, covering extensive fields. I would lead you to the shore of the
majestic fjord, and let you behold the towering mountains reflected
sharp and clear in its depth, as though another landscape lay beneath
the waves; and I would guide your glance upwards, towards the little
farms nestling up there on the slope, a couple of thousand feet above
your head, and which are only accessible from the valley by a rocky
ladder. Yes, this and more too I would show you, but remember we stand
at this moment on the crest of the mountain, and a yawning gap still
divides us from the Canaan which is our journey’s end.

I have therefore no choice but to lay down my pen, and I do so with
a call on you, my reader, to undertake this journey and experience
for yourself its indescribable impressions; and if you do, I feel
confident you will not find my description exaggerated.

Ride only once down the precipice between Optun and Lysterfjord, and
you will find, I think, that the descent cannot be accurately described
in words; but believe me, the memory thereof will never fade from your
mind, neither will you repent the toil.

A summer’s day in the Sogne Mountains of old Norway will, as well for
you as for me, create rich and charming recollections—recollections
retained through one’s whole life.—_Temple Bar._


[4] See Virgil, _Ecl._ viii.

[5] Napier’s _Scotch Folk-lore_, p. 95.

[6] _The Folk-lore of the Northern Counties and the Border_, by W.
Henderson, pp. 106, 114. Ed. 1879.

[7] Napier, p. 89.

[8] _Ibid._ p. 130.

[9] Henderson, _Border Folk-lore_, p. 35.

[10] Henderson, _Border Folk-lore_, p. 35.

[11] _Ibid._ p. 35.

[12] _Miscellanies_, p. 131. Ed. 1857.

[13] Brand’s _Pop. Antiqs._ i. p. 21.

[14] _Border Folk-lore_, pp. 114, 172, 207.

[15] Kelly’s _Indo-European Folk-lore_, p. 132.

[16] Brand, vol. i. p. 210.

[17] Kelly, p. 301.

[18] Brand, i. 292.

[19] Henderson, p. 116.

[20] Lowell has written a good sonnet on this belief. See his Poems.

[21] Cockayne’s _Saxon Leechdoms_, &c. (Rolls series), vol. ii. p. 343.

[22] _Anatomy of Melancholy_, Part III. section 2.

[23] This church was originally the temple of Pythian Apollo, and
stands much as it originally did.

[24] The peasants believe still that the Madonna opens gates, out of
which her son issues on his daily course round the world—an obvious
confusion between Christianity and the old Sun-worship.

[25] _George Eliot’s Life._ By J. W. Cross. Three volumes. Blackwood
and Sons. 1885.


“Steward,” exclaimed the chief-officer of the American barque
_Decatur_, lying just then in Table Bay, into which she had put on her
long voyage to Australia, for the purpose of obtaining water and fresh
provisions—“the skipper’s sent word off that there’s two passengers
coming on board for Melbourne; so look spry and get those after-berths
ready, or I guess the ‘old man’ ’ll straighten you up when he does come

Soon afterwards, the “old man” and his passengers put in an appearance
in the barque’s cutter; the anchor, short since sunrise, was hove up to
the catheads, topsails sheeted home, and, dipping the “stars and bars”
to the surrounding shipping, the _Decatur_ again, after her brief rest,
set forth on her ocean travel.

John Leslie and Francis Drury had been perfect strangers to each other
all their lives long till within the last few hours; and now, with
the frank confidence begotten of youth and health, each knew more of
the other, his failures and successes, than perhaps, under ordinary
circumstances, he would have learned in a twelvemonth. Both were
comparatively young men; Drury, Australian born, a native of Victoria,
and one of those roving spirits one meets with sometimes, who seem
to have, and care to have, no permanent place on earth’s surface,
the _wandergeist_ having entered into their very souls, and taken
full possession thereof. The kind of man whom we are not surprised at
hearing of, to-day, upon the banks of the Fly River; in a few months
more in the interior of Tibet; again on the track of Stanley, or with
Gordon in Khartoum.

So it had been with Francis Drury, ever seeking after fortune in the
wild places of the world; in quest, so often in vain, of a phantasmal
Eldorado—lured on, ever on, by visions of what the unknown contained.
Ghauts wild and rocky had re-echoed the report of his rifle; his
footsteps had fallen lightly on the pavements of the ruined cities of
Montezuma, sombre and stately as the primeval forest which hid them;
and his skiff had cleft the bright Southern rivers that Waterton
loved so well to explore, but gone farther than ever the naturalist,
adventurous and daring as he too was, had ever been. At length, as
he laughingly told his friend, fortune had, on the diamond fields of
Klipdrift, smiled upon him, with a measured smile, ‘twas true, but
still a smile; and now, after an absence of some years, he had taken
the opportune chance of a passage in the _Decatur_, and was off home to
see his mother and sister, from whom he had not heard for nearly two

Leslie was rather a contrast to the other, being as quiet and
thoughtful as Drury was full of life and spirits, and had been trying
his hand at sheep-farming in Cape Colony, but with rather scanty
results; in fact, having sunk most of his original capital, he was now
taking with him to Australia very little but his African experience.

A strong friendship between these two was the result of but a few days’
intimacy, during which time, however, as they were the only passengers,
they naturally saw a great deal of each other; so it came to pass that
Leslie heard all about his friend’s sister, golden-haired Margaret
Drury; and often, as in the middle watches he paced the deck alone, he
conjured up visions to himself, smiling the while, of what this girl,
of whom her brother spoke so lovingly and proudly, and in whom he had
such steadfast faith as a woman amongst women, could be like.

The _Decatur_ was now, with a strong westerly wind behind her, fast
approaching the latitude of that miserable mid-oceanic rock known as
the Island of St. Paul, when suddenly a serious mishap occurred. The
ship was “running heavy” under her fore and main topsails and a fore
topmast staysail, the breeze having increased to a stiff gale, which
had brought up a very heavy sea; when somehow—for these things, even
at a Board of Trade inquiry, seldom do get clearly explained—one of
the two men at the wheel, or both of them perhaps, let the vessel
“broach-to,” paying the penalty of their carelessness by taking their
departure from her for ever, in company with binnacle, skylights,
hencoops, &c., and a huge wave which swept the _Decatur_ fore and aft,
from her taffrail to the heel of her bowsprit, washing at the same time
poor Francis Drury, who happened to be standing under the break of
the poop, up and down amongst loose spars, underneath the iron-bound
windlass, dashing him pitilessly against wood and iron, here, there,
and everywhere, like a broken reed; till when at last, dragged by
Leslie out of the rolling, seething water on the maindeck, the roving,
eager spirit seemed at last to have found rest; and his friend, as
he smoothed the long fair hair from off the blood-stained forehead,
mourned for him as for a younger brother.

The unfortunate man was speedily ascertained to be nothing but a mass
of fractures and terrible bruises, such as no human frame under any
circumstances could have survived; and well the sufferer knew it;
for in a brief interval of consciousness, in a moment’s respite from
awful agony, he managed to draw something from around his neck, which
handing to his friend in the semi-darkness of the little cabin, whilst
above them the gale roared, and shrieked, officers and men shouted
and swore, and the timbers of the old _Decatur_ groaned and creaked
like sentient things—he whispered, so low that the other had to bend
down close to the poor disfigured face to hear it, “For Mother and
Maggie; I was going to tell you about—it, and—Good-bye!” and then with
one convulsive shudder, and with the dark-blue eyes still gazing
imploringly up into those of his friend, his spirit took its flight.

       *       *       *       *       *

The gale has abated, the courses are clewed up, topsails thrown aback,
and the starry flag flies half-mast high, as they “commit his body to
the deep, to be turned into corruption; looking for the resurrection
of the body, when the sea shall give up her dead.” A sudden, shooting
plunge into the sparkling water, and Francis Drury’s place on earth
will know him no more. Gone is the gallant spirit, stilled the eager
heart for ever, and Leslie’s tears fall thick and heavy—no one there
deeming them shame to his manhood—as the bellying canvas urges the ship
swiftly onward on her course.

       *       *       *       *       *

Only a Quandong stone, of rather unusual size, covered with little
silver knobs or studs, and to one end of which was attached a stout
silver chain. Leslie, as he turned it over and over in his hand,
thinking sadly enough of its late owner, wondering much what he had
been about to communicate when Death so relentlessly stepped in. The
value of the thing as an ornament was but a trifle, and, try as he
might, Leslie could find no indication that there was aught but met
the eye: a simple Australian wild-peach stone converted into a trifle,
rather ugly than otherwise, as is the case with so many so-called
_curios_. Still, as his friend’s last thought and charge, it was sacred
in his sight; and putting it carefully away, he determined on landing
at Melbourne, now so near, to make it his first care to find out
Drury’s mother and his sister.

       *       *       *       *       *

“Drury, Drury! Let me see! Yes of course. Mother and daughter brother
too sometimes; rather a wild young fellow; always ‘on the go’ some
where or other, you know. Yes; they used to live here; but they’ve been
gone this long time; and where to, no more than I can tell you; or I
think anybody else about here either.”

So spake the present tenant of “Acacia Cottage, St. Kilda.” in response
to Leslie’s inquiries at the address, to obtain which he had overhauled
the effecs of the dead man, finding it at the commencement of a
two-year-old letter from his mother, directed to “Algoa Bay;” finding,
besides, some receipts of diamonds sold at Cape Town, and a letter
of credit on a Melbourne bank for five hundred pounds; probably, so
Leslie thought to himself, that “measured smile” of which the poor
fellow had laughingly spoken to him in the earlier days of their brief

The above was the sum-total of the information he could ever—after
many persistent efforts, including a fruitless trip to Hobart—obtain
of the family or their whereabouts; so, depositing the five hundred
pounds at one of the principal banking institutions, and inserting an
advertisement in the _Age_ and _Argus_, Leslie having but little spare
cash, and his own fortune lying still in deepest shadow, reluctantly,
for a time at least, as he promised himself, abandoned the quest.

       *       *       *       *       *

Kaloola was one of the prettiest pastoral homesteads in the
north-western districts of Victoria; and its owner, as one evening he
sat in the broad veranda, and saw on every side, far as the eye could
reach, land and stock all calling him master, felt that the years that
had passed since the old _Decatur_ dropped her anchor in Port Phillip
had not passed away altogether in vain; and although ominous wrinkles
began to appear about the corners of John Leslie’s eyes, and gray hairs
about his temples, the man’s heart was fresh and unseared as when, on
a certain day twelve long years ago, he had shed bitter tears over the
ocean grave of his friend. Vainly throughout these latter years had he
endeavored to find some traces of the Drurys. The deposit in the Bank
of Australasia had remained untouched, and had by now swollen to a very
respectable sum indeed. Advertisements in nearly every metropolitan
and provincial newspaper were equally without result; even “private
inquiry” agents, employed at no small cost, confessed themselves at
fault. Many a hard fight with fortune had John Leslie encountered
before he achieved success; but through it all, good times and bad,
he had never forgotten the dying bequest left to him on that dark and
stormy morning in the Southern Ocean; and now, as rising and going
to his desk he took out the Quandong stone, and turning it over and
over, as though trying once again to finish those last dying words left
unfinished so many years ago, his thoughts fled back along memory’s
unforgotten vale, and a strong presentiment seemed to impel him not to
leave the trinket behind, for the successful squatter was on the eve
of a trip to “the Old Country,” and this was his last day at Kaloola;
so, detaching the stone from its chain, he screwed it securely to his
watch-guard, and in a few hours more had bidden adieu to Kaloola for
some time to come.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was evening on the Marine Parade at Brighton, and a crowd of
fashionably dressed people were walking up and down, or sitting
listening to the music of the band. Amongst these latter was our
old friend John Leslie, who had been in England some three or four
months, and who now seemed absorbed in the sweet strains of Ulrich’s
_Goodnight, my Love_, with which the musicians were closing their
evening’s selection; but in reality his thoughts were far away across
the ocean, in the land of his adoption; and few dreamed that the
sun-browned, long-bearded, middle-aged gentleman, clothed more in
accordance with ideas of comfort than of fashion, and who sat there so
quietly every evening, could, had it so pleased him, have bought up
half the gay loungers who passed and repassed him with many a quizzical
glance at the loose attire, in such striking contrast to the British
fashion of the day.

Truth to tell, Leslie was beginning to long for the far-spreading
plains of his Australian home once more; his was a quiet, thoughtful
nature, unfitted for the gay scenes in which he had lately found
himself a passive actor, and he was—save for one sister, married years
ago, and now with her husband in Bermuda—alone in the world; and he
thinks rather sadly, perhaps, as he walks slowly back through the crowd
of fashionables to the _Imperial_, where he is staying: “And alone most
likely to the end.”

He had not been in his room many minutes before there came a knock
at the door; and, scarcely waiting for answer, in darted a very
red-faced, very stout, and apparently very flurried old gentleman,
who, setting his gold eyeglasses firmly on his nose, at once began:
“Er—ah, Mr. Leslie, I believe? Got your number from the porter, you
see—great rascal, by the way, that porter; always looks as if he wanted
something, you know—then the visitors’ book, and so. Yes; it’s all
right so far. There’s the thing now!”—glancing at the old Quandong
stone which still hung at Leslie’s watch-chain. “I”—he went on—”that
is, my name is Raby, Colonel Raby, and—— Dear me, yes; must apologise,
ought to have done that at first, for intrusion, and all that kind
of thing; but really, you see”—— And here the old gentleman paused,
fairly for want of breath, his purple cheeks expanding and contracting,
whilst, instead of words, he emitted a series of little puffs; and
John, whilst asking him to take a seat, entertained rather strong
doubts of his visitor’s sanity.

“Now,” said he at length, when he perceived signs that the colonel was
about to recommence, “kindly let me know in what way I can be of use to

“Bother take the women!” ejaculated the visitor, as he recovered his
breath again. “But you see, Mr. Leslie, it was all through my niece.
She caught sight of that thing—funny-looking thing, too—on your chain
whilst we were on the Parade this evening, and nearly fainted away—she
did, sir, I do assure you, in Mrs. Raby’s arms, too, sir; and if I had
not got a cup of water from the drinking fountain, and poured it over
her head, there would most likely have been a bit of a scene, sir, and
then—— We are staying in this house, you know.

We saw you come in just behind us; and so—of course it’s all nonsense,
but the fact is”——

“Excuse me,” interrupted Leslie, who was growing impatient; “but may I
ask the name of the lady—your niece, I mean?”

“My niece, sir,” replied the colonel, rather ruffled at being cut
short, “is known as Miss Margaret Drury; and if you will only have the
kindness to convince her as to the utter absurdity of an idea which she
somehow entertains that that affair, charm, trinket, or whatever you
may call it, once belonged to a brother of hers, I shall be extremely
obliged to you, for really”—relapsing again—“when the women once get
hold of a fad of the kind, a man’s peace is clean gone, sir, I do
assure you.”

“I am not quite sure,” remarked Leslie, smiling, “that in this case at
least it will not turn out to be a ‘fad.’ How I became possessed of
this stone, which I have every reason to believe once belonged to her
brother, and which, through long years, I have held in trust for her
and her mother, is quite capable of explanation, sad though the story
may be. So, sir, I shall be very pleased to wait on Miss Drury as soon
as may be convenient to her.”

       *       *       *       *       *

A tall, dark-robed figure, beyond the first bloom of maidenhood, but
still passing fair to look upon, rose on Leslie’s entrance; and he
recognised at a glance the long golden hair, and calm eyes of deepest
blue, of poor Drury’s oft-repeated description.

Many a sob escaped his auditor as he feelingly related his sad story.

“Poor Francie,” she said at last—“poor, dear Francie! And this is
the old Quandong locket I gave him as a parting gift, when he left
for those terrible diamond fields! A lock of my hair was in it. But
how strange it seems that through all these years you have never
discovered the secret of opening it. See!” and with a push on one of
the stud-heads and a twist on another, a short, stout silver pin drew
out, and one half of the nut slipped off, disclosing to the astonished
gaze of the pair, nestling in a thick lock of golden threads finer than
the finest silk, a beautiful diamond, uncut, but still, even to the
unpractised eyes of Leslie, of great value.

This, then, was the secret of the Quandong stone, kept so faithfully
for so long a time. This was what that dying friend and brother had
tried, but tried in vain, with his last breath to disclose.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was little wonder that Leslie’s inquiries and advertisements had
been ineffectual, for about the time Drury had received his last letter
from home, the bank in which was the widow’s modest capital failed,
and mother and daughter were suddenly plunged into poverty dire and
complete. In this strait they wrote to Colonel Raby, Mrs. Drury’s
brother, who, to do him justice, behaved nobly, bringing them from
Australia to England, and accepting them as part and parcel of his
home without the slightest delay. Mrs. Drury had now been dead some
years; and though letter after letter had been addressed to Francis
Drury at the Cape, they had invariably returned with the discouraging
indorsement, “Not to be found,” The Rabys, it seemed, save for a brief
interval yearly, lived a very retired kind of life on the Yorkshire
wolds; still, Margaret Drury had caused many and persistent inquiries
to be made as to the fate of her brother, but, till that eventful
evening on the Marine Parade, without being able to obtain the
slightest clue.

As perhaps the reader has already divined, John Leslie was, after all,
not fated to go through life’s pilgrimage alone. In fair Margaret Drury
he found a loving companion and devoted wife; and as, through the years
of good and evil hap,

    The red light fell about their knees,
    On heads that rose by slow degrees,
    Like buds upon the lily spire,

so did John Leslie more nearly realise what a rare prize he had won.

At beautiful Kaloola, Mr. and Mrs. Leslie still live happily, and the
old Quandong stone, with its occupant still undisturbed, is treasured
amongst their most precious relics.—_Chambers’s Journal._


The title which heads this paper is intended to be Latin, and is
modelled on the precedent of the De Amicitia, De Senectute, De Corona,
and other time-honored plagues of our innocent boyhood. It is meant
to give dignity and authority to the subject with which it deals,
as well as to rouse curiosity in the ingenuous breast of the candid
reader, who may perhaps mistake it, at first sight, for negro-English,
or for the name of a distinguished Norman family. In anticipation
of the possible objection that the word “Banana” is not strictly
classical, I would humbly urge the precept and example of my old friend
Horace—enemy I once thought him—who expresses his approbation of those
happy innovations whereby Latium was gradually enriched with a copious
vocabulary. I maintain that if Banana, bananæ, &c., is not already a
Latin noun of the first declension, why then it ought to be, and it
shall be in future. Linnæus indeed thought otherwise. He too assigned
the plant and fruit to the first declension, but handed it over to
none other than our earliest acquaintance in the Latin language,
Musa. He called the banana _Musa sapientum_. What connection he could
possibly perceive between that woolly fruit and the daughters of the
ægis-bearing Zeus, or why he should consider it a proof of wisdom to
eat a particularly indigestible and nightmare-begetting food-stuff,
passes my humble comprehension. The muses, so far as I have personally
noticed their habits, always greatly prefer the grape to the banana,
and wise men shun the one at least as sedulously as they avoid the

Let it not for a moment be supposed, however, that I wish to treat
the useful and ornamental banana with intentional disrespect. On the
contrary, I cherish for it—at a distance—feelings of the highest
esteem and admiration. We are so parochial in our views, taking us
as a species, that I dare say very few English people really know
how immensely useful a plant is the common banana. To most of us
it envisages itself merely as a curious tropical fruit, largely
imported at Covent Garden, and a capital thing to stick on one of the
tall dessert-dishes when you give a dinner-party, because it looks
delightfully foreign, and just serves to balance the pine-apple at
the opposite end of the hospitable mahogany. Perhaps such innocent
readers will be surprised to learn that bananas and plantains supply
the principal food-stuff of a far larger fraction of the human race
than that which is supported by wheaten bread. They form the veritable
staff of life to the inhabitants of both eastern and western tropics.
What the potato is to the degenerate descendant of Celtic kings; what
the oat is to the kilted Highlandman; what rice is to the Bengalee,
and Indian corn to the American negro, that is the muse of sages (I
translate literally from the immortal Swede) to African savages and
Brazilian slaves. Humboldt calculated that an acre of bananas would
supply a greater quantity of solid food to hungry humanity than could
possibly be extracted from the same extent of cultivated ground by any
other known plant. So you see the question is no small one: to sing the
praise of this Linnæan muse is a task well worthy of the Pierian muses.

Do you know the outer look and aspect of the banana plant? If not,
then you have never voyaged to those delusive tropics. Tropical
vegetation, as ordinarily understood by poets and painters, consists
entirely of the coco-nut palm and the banana bush. Do you wish to
paint a beautiful picture of a rich ambrosial tropical island _à
la_ Tennyson—a summer-isle of Eden lying in dark purple spheres of
sea?—then you introduce a group of coco-nuts, whispering in odorous
heights of even, in the very foreground of your pretty sketch, just to
let your public understand at a glance that these are the delicious
poetical tropics. Do you desire to create an ideal paradise, _à la_
Bernardin de St. Pierre, where idyllic Virginies die of pure modesty
rather than appear before the eyes of their beloved but unwedded Pauls
in a lace-bedraped _peignoir_?—then you strike the keynote by sticking
in the middle distance a hut or cottage, overshadowed by the broad
and graceful foliage of the picturesque banana. (“Hut” is a poor and
chilly word for these glowing descriptions, far inferior to the pretty
and high-sounding original _chaumière_.) That is how we do the tropics
when we want to work upon the emotions of the reader. But it is all
a delicate theatrical illusion; a trick of art meant to deceive and
impose upon the unwary who have never been there, and would like to
think it all genuine. In reality, nine times out of ten, you might cast
your eyes casually around you in any tropical valley, and if there
didn’t happen to be a native cottage with a coco-nut grove and a banana
patch anywhere in the neighborhood, you would see nothing in the way of
vegetation which you mightn’t see at home any day in Europe. But what
painter would ever venture to paint the tropics without the palm trees?
He might just as well try to paint the desert without the camels, or to
represent St. Sebastian without a sheaf of arrows sticking unperceived
in the calm centre of his unruffled bosom, to mark and emphasise his
Sebastianic personality.

Still, I will frankly admit that the banana itself, with its
practically almost identical relation, the plantain, is a real bit of
tropical foliage. I confess to a settled prejudice against the tropics
generally, but I allow the sunsets, the coco-nuts, and the bananas.
The true stem creeps underground, and sends up each year an upright
branch, thickly covered with majestic broad green leaves, somewhat
like those of the canna cultivated in our gardens as “Indian shot,”
but far larger, nobler, and handsomer. They sometimes measure from
six to ten feet in length, and their thick midrib and strongly marked
diverging veins give them a very lordly and graceful appearance. But
they are apt in practice to suffer much from the fury of the tropical
storms. The wind rips the leaves up between the veins as far as the
midrib in tangled tatters; so that after a good hurricane they look
more like coco-nut palm leaves than like single broad masses of
foliage as they ought properly to do. This, of course, is the effect
of a gentle and balmy hurricane—a mere capful of wind that tears and
tatters them. After a really bad storm (one of the sort when you
tie ropes round your wooden house to prevent its falling bodily to
pieces, I mean) the bananas are all actually blown down, and the crop
for that season utterly destroyed. The apparent stem, being merely
composed of the overlapping and sheathing leaf-stalks, has naturally
very little stability; and the soft succulent trunk accordingly gives
way forthwith at the slightest onslaught. This liability to be blown
down in high winds forms the weak point of the plantain, viewed as
a food-stuff crop. In the South Sea Islands, where there is little
shelter, the poor Fijian, in cannibal days, often lost his one means of
subsistence from this cause, and was compelled to satisfy the pangs of
hunger on the plump persons of his immediate relatives. But since the
introduction of Christianity, and of a dwarf stout wind-proof variety
of banana, his condition in this respect, I am glad to say, has been
greatly ameliorated.

By descent, the banana bush is a developed tropical lily, not at all
remotely allied to the common iris, only that its flowers and fruit are
clustered together on a hanging spike, instead of growing solitary and
separate as in the true irises. The blossoms, which, though pretty,
are comparatively inconspicuous for the size of the plant, show the
extraordinary persistence of the lily type; for almost all the vast
number of species, more or less directly descended from the primitive
lily, continue to the very end of the chapter to have six petals, six
stamens, and three rows of seeds in their fruits or capsules. But
practical man, with his eye always steadily fixed on the one important
quality of edibility—the sum and substance to most people of all
botanical research—has confined his attention almost entirely to the
fruit of the banana. In all essentials (other than the systematically
unimportant one just alluded to) the banana fruit in its original state
exactly resembles the capsule of the iris—that pretty pod that divides
in three when ripe, and shows the delicate orange-coated seeds lying in
triple rows within—only, in the banana, the fruit does not open; in the
sweet language of technical botany, it is an indehiscent capsule; and
the seeds, instead of standing separate and distinct, as in the iris,
are embedded in a soft and pulpy substance which forms the edible and
practical part of the entire arrangement.

This is the proper appearance of the original and natural banana,
before it has been taken in hand and cultivated by tropical man.
When cut across the middle, it ought to show three rows of seeds,
interspersed with pulp, and faintly preserving some dim memory of
the dividing wall which once separated them. In practice, however,
the banana differs widely from this theoretical ideal, as practice
often _will_ differ from theory; for it has been so long cultivated
and selected by man—being probably one of the very oldest, if not
actually quite the oldest, of domesticated plants—that it has all but
lost the original habit of producing seeds. This is a common effect
of cultivation on fruits, and it is of course deliberately aimed at
by horticulturists, as the seeds are generally a nuisance, regarded
from the point of view of the eater, and their absence improves the
fruit, as long as one can manage to get along somehow without them.
In the pretty little Tangierine oranges (so ingeniously corrupted by
fruiterers into mandarins), the seeds have almost been cultivated out;
in the best pine-apples, and in the small grapes known in the dried
state as currants, they have quite disappeared; while in some varieties
of pears they survive only in the form of shrivelled, barren, and
useless pippins. But the banana, more than any other plant we know of,
has managed for many centuries to do without seeds altogether. The
cultivated sort, especially in America, is quite seedless, and the
plants are propagated entirely by suckers.

Still, you can never wholly circumvent nature. Expel her with a
pitchfork, _tamen usque recurrit_. Now nature has settled that the
right way to propagate plants is by means of seedlings. Strictly
speaking, indeed, it is the only way; the other modes of growth from
bulbs or cuttings are not really propagation, but mere reduplication
by splitting, as when you chop a worm in two, and a couple of worms
wriggle off contentedly forthwith in either direction. Just so when
you divide a plant by cuttings, suckers, slips, or runners: the two
apparent plants thus produced are in the last resort only separate
parts of the same individual—one and indivisible, like the French
Republic. Seedlings are absolutely distinct individuals; they are the
product of the pollen of one plant and the ovules of another, and they
start afresh in life with some chance of being fairly free from the
hereditary taints or personal failings of either parent. But cuttings
or suckers are only the same old plant over and over again in fresh
circumstances, transplanted as it were, but not truly renovated or
rejuvenescent. That is the real reason why our potatoes are now all
going to—well, the same place as the army has been going ever since the
earliest memories of the oldest officer in the whole service. We have
gone on growing potatoes over and over again from the tubers alone, and
hardly ever from seed, till the whole constitution of the potato kind
has become permanently enfeebled by old age and dotage. The eyes (as
farmers call them) are only buds or underground branches; and to plant
potatoes as we usually do is nothing more than to multiply the apparent
scions by fission. Odd as it may sound to say so, all the potato vines
in a whole field are often, from the strict biological point of view,
parts of a single much-divided individual. It is just as though one
were to go on cutting up a single worm, time after time, as soon as
he grew again, till at last the one original creature had multiplied
into a whole colony of apparently distinct individuals. Yet, if the
first worm happened to have the gout or the rheumatism (metaphorically
speaking), all the other worms into which his compound personality had
been divided would doubtless suffer from the same complaints throughout
the whole of their joint lifetimes.

The banana, however, has very long resisted the inevitable tendency to
degeneration in plants thus artificially and unhealthily propagated.
Potatoes have only been in cultivation for a few hundred years; and yet
the potato constitution has become so far enfeebled by the practice of
growing from the tuber that the plants now fall an easy prey to potato
fungus, Colorado beetles, and a thousand other persistent enemies.
It is just the same with the vine—propagated too long by layers or
cuttings, its health has failed entirely, and it can no longer resist
the ravages of the phylloxera or the slow attacks of the vine-disease
fungus. But the banana, though of very ancient and positively
immemorial antiquity as a cultivated plant, seems somehow gifted with
an extraordinary power of holding its own in spite of long-continued
unnatural propagation. For thousands of years it has been grown in Asia
in the seedless condition, and yet it springs as heartily as ever
still from the underground suckers. Nevertheless, there must in the
end be some natural limit to this wonderful power of reproduction, or
rather of longevity; for, in the strictest sense, the banana bushes
that now grow in the negro gardens of Trinidad and Demerara are part
and parcel of the very same plants which grew and bore fruit a thousand
years ago in the native compounds of the Malay Archipelago.

In fact, I think there can be but little doubt that the banana is
the very oldest product of human tillage. Man, we must remember, is
essentially by origin a tropical animal, and wild tropical fruits must
necessarily have formed his earliest food-stuffs. It was among them
of course that his first experiments in primitive agriculture would
be tried; the little insignificant seeds and berries of cold northern
regions would only very slowly be added to his limited stock in
husbandry, as circumstances pushed some few outlying colonies northward
and ever northward toward the chillier unoccupied regions. Now, of
all tropical fruits, the banana is certainly the one that best repays
cultivation. It has been calculated that the same area which will
produce thirty-three pounds of wheat or ninety-nine pounds of potatoes
will produce 4,400 pounds of plantains or bananas. The cultivation
of the various varieties in India, China, and the Malay Archipelago
dates, says De Candolle, “from an epoch impossible to realise.” Its
diffusion, as that great but very oracular authority remarks, may go
back to a period “contemporary with or even anterior to that of the
human races.” What this remarkably illogical sentence may mean I am at
a loss to comprehend; perhaps M. de Candolle supposes that the banana
was originally cultivated by pre-human gorillas; perhaps he merely
intends to say that before men began to separate they sent special
messengers on in front of them to diffuse the banana in the different
countries they were about to visit. Even legend retains some trace of
the extreme antiquity of the species as a cultivated fruit, for Adam
and Eve are said to have reclined under the shadow of its branches,
whence Linnæus gave to the sort known as the plantain the Latin name
of _Musa paradisiaca_. If a plant was cultivated in Eden by the grand
old gardener and his wife, as Lord Tennyson democratically styled them
(before his elevation to the peerage), we may fairly conclude that it
possesses a very respectable antiquity indeed.

The wild banana is a native of the Malay region, according to De
Candolle, who has produced by far the most learned and unreadable
work on the origin of domestic plants ever yet written. (Please don’t
give me undue credit for having heroically read it through out of
pure love of science: I was one of its unfortunate reviewers.) The
wild form produces seed, and grows in Cochin China, the Philippines,
Ceylon, and Khasia. Like most other large tropical fruits, it no doubt
owes its original development to the selective action of monkeys,
hornbills, parrots, and other big fruit-eaters; and it shares with
all fruits of similar origin one curious tropical peculiarity. Most
northern berries, like the strawberry, the raspberry, the currant, and
the blackberry, developed by the selective action of small northern
birds, can be popped at once into the mouth and eaten whole; they
have no tough outer rind or defensive covering of any sort. But big
tropical fruits, which lay themselves out for the service of large
birds or monkeys, have always hard outer coats, because they could
only be injured by smaller animals, who would eat the pulp without
helping in the dispersion of the useful seeds, the one object really
held in view by the mother plant. Often, as in the case of the orange,
the rind even contains a bitter, nauseous, or pungent juice, while
at times, as in the pine-apple, the prickly pear, the sweet-sop, and
the cherimoyer, the entire fruit is covered with sharp projections,
stinging hairs, or knobby protuberances, on purpose to warn off the
unauthorised depredator. It was this line of defence that gave the
banana in the first instance its thick yellow skin; and looking at the
matter from the epicure’s point of view, one may say roughly that all
tropical fruits have to be skinned before they can be eaten. They are
all adapted for being cut up with a knife and fork, or dug out with
a spoon, on a civilised dessert-plate. As for that most delicious of
Indian fruits, the mango, it has been well said that the only proper
way to eat it is over a tub of water, with a couple of towels hanging
gracefully across the side.

The varieties of the banana are infinite in number, and, as in most
other plants of ancient cultivation, they shade off into one another by
infinitesimal gradations. Two principal sorts, however, are commonly
recognised—the true banana of commerce, and the common plantain. The
banana proper is eaten raw, as a fruit, and is allowed accordingly to
ripen thoroughly before being picked for market; the plantain, which is
the true food-stuff of all the equatorial region in both hemispheres,
is gathered green and roasted as a vegetable, or, to use the more
expressive West Indian negro phrase, as a bread-kind. Millions of human
beings in Asia, Africa, America, and the islands of the Pacific Ocean
live almost entirely on the mild and succulent but tasteless plantain.
Some people like the fruit; to me personally it is more suggestive of
a very flavorless over-ripe pear than of anything else in heaven or
earth or the waters that are under the earth—the latter being the most
probable place to look for it, as its taste and substance are decidedly
watery. Baked dry in the green state “it resembles roasted chestnuts,”
or rather baked parsnip; pulped and boiled with water it makes “a very
agreeable sweet soup,” almost as nice as peasoup with brown sugar in
it; and cut into slices, sweetened, and fried, it forms “an excellent
substitute for fruit pudding,” having a flavor much like that of
potatoes _à la maître d’hôtel_ served up in treacle.

Altogether a fruit to be sedulously avoided, the plantain, though
millions of our spiritually destitute African brethren haven’t yet for
a moment discovered that it isn’t every bit as good as wheaten bread
and fresh butter. Missionary enterprise will no doubt before long
enlighten them on this subject, and create a good market in time for
American flour and Manchester piece-goods.

Though by origin a Malayan plant, there can be little doubt that the
banana had already reached the mainland of America and the West India
Islands long before the voyage of Columbus. When Pizarro disembarked
upon the coast of Peru on his desolating expedition, the mild-eyed,
melancholy, doomed Peruvians flocked down to the shore and offered him
bananas in a lordly dish. Beds composed of banana leaves have been
discovered in the tombs of the Incas, of date anterior, of course,
to the Spanish conquest. How did they get there? Well, it is clearly
an absurd mistake to suppose that Columbus discovered America; as
Artemus Ward pertinently remarked, the noble Red Indian had obviously
discovered it long before him. There had been intercourse of old,
too, between Asia and the Western Continent; the elephant-headed god
of Mexico, the debased traces of Buddhism in the Aztec religion,
the singular coincidences between India and Peru, all seem to show
that a stream of communication, however faint, once existed between
the Asiatic and American worlds. Garcilaso himself, the half-Indian
historian of Peru, says that the banana was well known in his native
country before the conquest, and that the Indians say “its origin is
Ethiopia.” In some strange way or other, then, long before Columbus
set foot upon the low sandbank of Cat’s Island, the banana had been
transported from Africa or India to the Western hemisphere.

If it were a plant propagated by seed, one would suppose that it
was carried across by wind or waves, wafted on the feet of birds,
or accidentally introduced in the crannies of drift timber. So the
coco-nut made the tour of the world ages before either of the famous
Cooks—the Captain or the excursion agent—had rendered the same feat
easy and practicable; and so, too, a number of American plants have
fixed their home in the tarns of the Hebrides or among the lonely
bogs of Western Galway. But the banana must have been carried by man,
because it is unknown in the wild state in the Western Continent;
and, as it is practically seedless, it can only have been transported
entire, in the form of a root or sucker. An exactly similar proof of
ancient intercourse between the two worlds is afforded us by the sweet
potato, a plant of undoubted American origin, which was nevertheless
naturalised in China as early as the first centuries of the Christian
era. Now that we all know how the Scandinavians of the eleventh century
went to Massachusetts, which they called Vine-land, and how the
Mexican empire had some knowledge of Acadian astronomy, people are
beginning to discover that Columbus himself was after all an egregious

In the old world the cultivation of the banana and the plantain goes
back, no doubt, to a most immemorial antiquity. Our Aryan ancestor
himself, Professor Max Müller’s especial _protégé_, had already
invented several names for it, which duly survive in very classical
Sanskrit. The Greeks of Alexander’s expedition saw it in India, where
“sages reposed beneath its shade and ate of its fruit, whence the
botanical name, _Musa sapientum_.” As the sages in question were lazy
Brahmans, always celebrated for their immense capacity for doing
nothing, the report, as quoted by Pliny, is no doubt an accurate one.
But the accepted derivation of the word _Musa_ from an Arabic original
seems to me highly uncertain; for Linnæus, who first bestowed it on
the genus, called several other allied genera by such cognate names as
Urania and Heliconia. If, therefore, the father of botany knew that his
own word was originally Arabic, we cannot acquit him of the high crime
and misdemeanor of deliberate punning. Should the Royal Society get
wind of this, something serious would doubtless happen; for it is well
known that the possession of a sense of humor is absolutely fatal to
the pretensions of a man of science.

Besides its main use as an article of food, the banana serves
incidentally to supply a valuable fibre, obtained from the stem,
and employed for weaving into textile fabrics and making paper.
Several kinds of the plantain tribe are cultivated for this purpose
exclusively, the best known among them being the so-called manilla
hemp, a plant largely grown in the Philippine Islands. Many of the
finest Indian shawls are woven from banana stems, and much of the
rope that we use in our houses comes from the same singular origin. I
know nothing more strikingly illustrative of the extreme complexity
of our modern civilisation than the way in which we thus every day
employ articles of exotic manufacture in our ordinary life without
ever for a moment suspecting or inquiring into their true nature.
What lady knows when she puts on her delicate wrapper, from Liberty’s
or from Swan and Edgar’s, that the material from which it is woven
is a Malayan plantain stalk? Who ever thinks that the glycerine for
our chapped hands comes from Travancore coco-nuts, and that the pure
butter supplied us from the farm in the country is colored yellow with
Jamaican annatto? We break a tooth, as Mr. Herbert Spencer has pointed
out, because the grape-curers of Zante are not careful enough about
excluding small stones from their stock of currants; and we suffer
from indigestion because the Cape wine-grower has doctored his light
Burgundies with Brazilian logwood and white rum, to make them taste
like Portuguese port. Take merely this very question of dessert, and
how intensely complicated it really is. The West Indian bananas keep
company with sweet St. Michaels from the Azores, and with Spanish
cobnuts from Barcelona. Dried fruits from Metz, figs from Smyrna, and
dates from Tunis lie side by side on our table with Brazil nuts and
guava jelly and damson cheese and almonds and raisins. We forget where
everything comes from nowadays, in our general consciousness that they
all come from the Queen Victoria Street Stores, and any real knowledge
of common objects is rendered every day more and more impossible by
the bewildering complexity and variety, every day increasing, of the
common objects themselves, their substitutes, adulterates, and spurious
imitations. Why, you probably never heard of manilla hemp before,
until this very minute, and yet you have been familiarly using it all
your lifetime, while 400,000 hundredweights of that useful article are
annually imported into this country alone. It is an interesting study
to take any day a list of market quotations, and ask oneself about
every material quoted, what it is and what they do with it.

For example, can you honestly pretend that you really understand the
use and importance of that valuable object of everyday demand, fustic?
I remember an ill-used telegraph clerk in a tropical colony once
complaining to me that English cable operators were so disgracefully
ignorant about this important staple as invariably to substitute for
its name the word “justice” in all telegrams which originally referred
to it. Have you any clear and definite notions as to the prime origin
and final destination of a thing called jute, in whose sole manufacture
the whole great and flourishing town of Dundee lives and moves and
has its being? What is turmeric? Whence do we obtain vanilla? How
many commercial products are yielded by the orchids? How many totally
distinct plants in different countries afford the totally distinct
starches lumped together in grocers’ lists under the absurd name of
arrowroot? When you ask for sago do you really see that you get it?
and how many entirely different objects described as sago are known
to commerce? Define the use of partridge canes and cohune oil. What
objects are generally manufactured from tucum? Would it surprise you
to learn that English door-handles are commonly made out of coquilla
nuts? that your wife’s buttons are turned from the indurated fruit of
the Tagua palm? and that the knobs of umbrellas grew originally in the
remote depths of Guatemalan forests? Are you aware that a plant called
manioc supplies the starchy food of about one-half the population of
tropical America? These are the sort of inquiries with which a new
edition of “Mangnall’s Questions” would have to be filled; and as to
answering them—why, even the pupil-teachers in a London Board School
(who represent, I suppose, the highest attainable level of human
knowledge) would often find themselves completely nonplussed. The fact
is, tropical trade has opened out so rapidly and so wonderfully that
nobody knows much about the chief articles of tropical growth; we go
on using them in an uninquiring spirit of childlike faith, much as the
Jamaica negroes go on using articles of European manufacture about
whose origin they are so ridiculously ignorant that one young woman
once asked me whether it was really true that cotton handkerchiefs were
dug up out of the ground over in England. Some dim confusion between
coal or iron and Manchester piece-goods seemed to have taken firm
possession of her infantile imagination.

That is why I have thought that a treatise De Banana might
not, perhaps, be wholly without its usefulness to the English
magazine-reading world. After all, a food-stuff which supports hundreds
of millions among our beloved tropical fellow-creatures ought to be
very dear to the heart of a nation which governs (and annually kills)
more black people, taken in the mass, than all the other European
powers put together. We have introduced the blessings of British
rule—the good and well-paid missionary, the Remington rifle, the
red-cotton pocket-handkerchief, and the use of “the liquor called
rum”—into so many remote corners of the tropical world that it is high
time we should begin in return to learn somewhat about fetishes and
fustic, Jamaica and jaggery, bananas and Buddhism. We know too little
still about our colonies and dependencies. “Cape Breton an island!”
cried King George’s Minister, the Duke of Newcastle, in the well-known
story, “Cape Breton an island! Why, so it is! God bless my soul! I must
go and tell the King that Cape Breton’s an island.” That was a hundred
years ago; but only the other day the Board of Trade placarded all
our towns and villages with a flaming notice to the effect that the
Colorado beetle had made its appearance at “a town in Canada called
Ontario,” and might soon be expected to arrive at Liverpool by Cunard
steamer. The right honorables and other high mightinesses who put
forth the notice in question were evidently unaware that Ontario is a
province as big as England, including in its borders Toronto, Ottawa,
Kingston, London, Hamilton, and other large and flourishing towns.
Apparently, in spite of competitive examinations, the schoolmaster is
still abroad in the Government offices.—_Cornhill Magazine._


It has not yet been done; but the following telegrams, received on
the 9th and 16th of April, 1883, from Cracow, by the Paris Academy of
Sciences, show that chemists have come very near doing it. “Oxygen
completely liquefied; the liquid colorless like carbonic acid.”
“Nitrogen liquefied by explosion; liquid colorless.” Thus the two
elements that make up atmospheric air have actually been liquefied,
the successful operator being a Pole, Wroblewski, who had worked in
the laboratory of the French chemist, Cailletet, learnt his processes,
copied his apparatus, and then, while Cailletet, who owns a great
iron-foundry down in Burgundy, was looking after his furnaces, went
off to Poland, and quietly finished what his master had for years
been trying after. Hence heart-burnings, of which more anon, when we
have followed the chase up to the point where Cailletet took it up. I
use this hunting metaphor, for the liquefaction of gases has been for
modern chemists a continual chase, as exciting as the search for the
philosopher’s stone was to the old alchemists.

Less than two hundred and fifty years ago, no one knew anything about
gas of any kind. Pascal was among the first who guessed that air was
“matter” like other things, and therefore pressed on the earth’s
surface with a weight proportioned to its height. Torricelli had made
a similar guess two years before, in 1645. But Pascal proved that
these guesses were true by carrying a barometer to the top of the Puy
de Dôme near Clermont. Three years after, Otto von Guerecke invented
the air-pump, and showed at Magdeburg his grand experiment—eight
horses pulling each way, unable to detach the two hemispheres of a big
globe out of which the air had been pumped. Then Mariotte in France,
and Boyle in England, formulated the “Law,” which the French call
Mariotte’s, the English Boyle’s, that gases are compressible, and that
their bulk diminishes in proportion to the pressure. But electricity
with its wonders threw pneumatics into the background; and, till
Faraday, nothing was done in the way of verifying Boyle’s Law except
by Van Marum, a Haarlem chemist, who, happening to try whether the
Law applied to gaseous ammonia, was astonished to find that under a
pressure of six atmospheres that gas was suddenly changed into a
colorless liquid. On Van Marum’s experiment Lavoisier based his famous
generalisation that all bodies will take any of the three forms,
solid, fluid, gaseous, according to the temperature to which they are
subjected—i.e., that the densest rock is only a solidified vapor, and
the lightest gas only a vaporised solid. Nothing came of it, however,
till that wonderful bookbinder’s apprentice, Faraday, happened to read
Mrs. Marcet’s Conversations while he was stitching it for binding,
and thereby had his mind opened; and, managing to hear some of Sir
H. Davy’s lectures, wrote such a good digest of them, accompanied by
such a touching letter—”Do free me from a trade that I hate, and let
me be your bottle-washer”—that the good-hearted Cornishman took the
poor blacksmith’s son, then twenty-one years old, after eight years of
book-stitching, and made him his assistant, “keeping him in his place,”
nevertheless, which, for an assistant in those days, meant feeding with
the servants, except by special invitation.

This was in 1823, and next year Faraday had liquefied chlorine,
and soon did the same for a dozen more gases, among them protoxide
of nitrogen, to liquefy which, at a temperature of fifty degrees
Fahrenheit, was needed a pressure of sixty atmospheres—sixty times
the pressure of the air—i.e., nine hundred pounds on every square
inch. Why, the strongest boilers, with all their thickness of iron,
their rivets, their careful hammering of every plate to guard against
weak places, are only calculated to stand about ten atmospheres; no
wonder then that Faraday, with nothing but thick glass tubes, had
thirteen explosions, and that a fellow-experimenter was killed while
repeating one of his experiments. However, he gave out his “Law,” that
any gas may be liquefied if you put pressure enough on it. That “if”
would have left matters much where they were had not Bussy, in 1824,
argued: “Liquid is the middle state between gaseous and solid. Cold
turns liquids into solids; therefore, probably cold will turn gases
into liquids.” He proved this for sulphurous acid, by simply plunging
a bottle of it in salt and ice; and it is by combining the two, cold
and pressure, that all subsequent results have been attained. How
to produce cold, then, became the problem; and one way is by making
steam. You cannot get steam without borrowing heat from something.
Water boils at two hundred and twelve degrees Fahrenheit, and then
you may go on heating and heating till one thousand degrees more heat
have been absorbed before steam is formed. The thermometer, meanwhile,
never rises above two hundred and twelve degrees, all this extra heat
becoming what is called latent, and is probably employed in keeping
asunder the particles which when closer together form water. The
greater the expansive force, the more heat becomes latent or used up
in this way. This explains the paradox that, while the steam from a
kettle-spout scalds you, you may put your hand with impunity into the
jet discharged from a high-pressure engine. The high-pressure steam,
expanding rapidly when it gets out of confinement, uses up all its
heat (makes it all “latent”) in keeping its particles distinct. It is
the same with all other vapors: in expanding they absorb heat, and,
therefore, produce cold; and, therefore, as many substances turn into
steam at far lower temperatures than water does, this principle of
“latent heat,” invented by Black, and, after long rejection, accepted
by chemists, has been very helpful in the liquefying of gases by
producing cold.

The simplest ice-machine is a hermetically-sealed bottle connected
with an air-pump. Exhaust the air, and the water begins to boil and
to grow cold. As the air is drawn off, the water begins to freeze;
and if—by an ingenious device—the steam that it generates is absorbed
into a reservoir of sulphuric acid, or any other substance which has a
great affinity for watery vapor, a good quantity of ice is obtained.
This is the practical use of liquefying gases; naturally, they all
boil at temperatures much below that of the air, in which they exist
in the vaporised state that follows after boiling. Take, therefore,
your liquefied gas; let it boil and give off its steam. This steam,
absorbing by its expansion all the surrounding heat, may be used to
make ice, to cool beer-cellars, to keep meat fresh all the way from
New Zealand, or—as has been largely done at Suez—to cool the air in
tropical countries. Put pressure enough on your gas to turn it into
a liquid state, at the same time carrying away by a stream of water
the heat that it gives off in liquefying. Let this liquid gas into a
“refrigerator,” where it boils and steams, and draws out the heat; and
then by a sucking-pump drive it again into the compressor, and let
the same process go on ad infinitum, no fresh material being needed,
nothing, in fact, but the working of the pump. Sulphurous acid is a
favorite gas, ammonia is another; and—besides the above practical
uses—they have been employed in a number of startling experiments.

Perhaps the strangest of these is getting a bar of ice out of a red-hot
platinum crucible. The object of using platinum is simply to resist
the intense heat of the furnace in which the crucible is placed. Pour
in sulphurous acid and then fill up with water. The cold raised by
vaporising the acid is so intense that the water will freeze into a
solid mass. Indeed, the temperature sometimes goes down to more than
eighty degrees below freezing. A still more striking experiment is that
resulting from the liquefying of nitrous oxide—protoxide of nitrogen,
or laughing-gas. This gas needs, as was said, great pressure to liquefy
it at an ordinary temperature. At freezing point only a pressure of
thirty atmospheres is needed to liquefy it. It then boils if exposed
to the air, radiating cold—or, rather, absorbing heat—till it falls to
a temperature low enough to freeze mercury. But it still, wonderful to
say, retains the property which, alone of all the gases, it shares with
oxygen—of increasing combustion. A match that is almost extinguished
burns up again quite brightly when thrust into a bag of ordinary
laughing-gas; while a bit of charcoal, with scarcely a spark left in
it, glows to the intensest white heat when brought in contact with this
same gas in its liquid form, so that you have the charcoal at, say,
two thousand degrees Fahrenheit, and the gas at some one hundred and
fifty degrees below zero. Carbonic acid gas is just the opposite of
nitrous oxide, in that it quenches fire and destroys life; but, when
liquefied, it develops a like intense cold. Liquefy it and collect it
under pressure, in strong cast-iron vessels, and then suddenly open a
tap and allow the vapor to escape. In expanding, it grows so cold—or,
strictly speaking, absorbs, makes latent, so much heat—that it produces
a temperature low enough to turn it into fog and then into frozen fog,
or snow. This snow can be gathered in iron vessels, and mixed with
either it forms the strongest freezing mixture known, turning mercury
into something like lead, so that you can beat the frozen metal with
wooden mallets and can mould it into medals and such-like.

Amid these and such-like curious experiments, we must not forget the
“Law” that the state of a substance depends on its temperature—solid
when it is frozen hard enough, liquid under sufficient pressure,
gaseous when free from pressure and at a sufficiently high temperature.
But though first Faraday, and then the various inventors of
refrigerating-machines—Carré, Tellier, Natterer, Thilorier—succeeded
in liquefying so many gases, hydrogen and the two elements of the
atmosphere resisted all efforts. By plunging oxygen in the sea,
to the depth of a league, it was subjected to a pressure of four
hundred atmospheres, but there was no sign of liquefaction. Again,
Berthelot fastened a tube, strong and very narrow, and full of air,
to a bulb filled with mercury. The mercury was heated until its
expansion subjected the air to a pressure of seven hundred and eighty
atmospheres—all that the glass could stand—but the air remained
unchanged. Cailletet managed to get one thousand pressures by pumping
mercury down a long, flexible steel tube upon a very strong vessel,
full of air; but nothing came of it, except the bursting of the vessel,
nor was there any more satisfactory result in the case of hydrogen.

One result, at any rate, was established—that there is no law of
compression like that named after Boyle or Mariotte, but that every gas
behaves in a way of its own, without reference to any of the others,
each having its own “critical point” of temperature, at which, under
a certain pressure, it is neither liquid nor gaseous, but on the
border-land between the two, and will remain in this condition so long
as the temperature remains the same. Hence, air being just in this
state of gaseo-liquid, the first step towards liquefying it must be
to lower its temperature, and so get rid of its vapor by increasing
its density. The plan adopted, both by Cailletet in Paris, and by
Raoul Pictet (heir of a great scientific name) in Geneva, was to lower
the temperature by letting off high-pressure steam. This had been so
successful in the case of carbonic acid gas as to turn the vapor into
snow; and in 1877 Cailletet pumped oxygen into a glass tube, until the
pressure was equal to three hundred atmospheres. He then cooled it to
four degrees Fahrenheit below zero, and, opening a valve, let out a jet
of gaseous vapor, which, while expanding, caused intense cold, lowering
the temperature some three hundred degrees, and turning the jet of
vapor into fog. Here, then, was a partial liquefaction, and the same
was effected in the case of nitrogen. Pictet did much the same thing.
Having set up at Geneva a great ice-works (his refrigerating agency
being sulphurous acid in a boiling state), he had all the necessary
apparatus, and was able to subject oxygen to a pressure of three
hundred and twenty atmospheres, and by means of carbonic acid boiling
in vacuo, to cool the vessel containing it down to more than two
hundred degrees Fahrenheit below zero. He could not watch the condition
in which the gas was; but it was probably liquefied, for, when a valve
was suddenly opened, it began to bubble furiously, and rushed out in
the form of steam. Pictet thought he had also succeeded in liquefying
hydrogen, the foggy vapor of the jet being of a steely grey color; for
hydrogen has long been suspected to be a metal, of which water is an
oxide, and hydrochloric acid a chloride. Nay, some solid fragments came
out with the jet of vapor, and fell like small shot on the floor, and
at first the sanguine experimenter thought he had actually solidified
the lightest of all known substances. This, however, was a mistake; it
was some portion of his apparatus which had got melted. Neither had the
liquefaction of oxygen or nitrogen been actually witnessed, though the
result had been seen in the jet of foggy vapor.

Cailletet was on the point of trying his experiment over again in
vacuo, so as to get a lower temperature, when the telegrams from
Wroblewski showed that the Pole had got the start of him. Along with a
colleague, Obszewski, Cailletet’s disloyal pupil set ethylene boiling
in vacuo, and so brought the temperature down to two hundred and
seventy degrees Fahrenheit below zero. This was the lowest point yet
reached, and it was enough to turn oxygen into a liquid a little less
dense than water, having its “critical point” at about one hundred
and sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit below zero. A few days after,
nitrogen was liquefied by the same pair of experimenters, under greater
atmospheric pressure at a somewhat higher temperature.

The next thing is to naturally ask: What is the use of all this? That
remains to be proved. The most unlikely chemical truths have often
brought about immense practical results. All that we can as yet say is,
that there is now no exception to the law that matter of all kinds is
capable of taking the three forms, solid, aqueous, gaseous.

The French savans are not content with saying this. They are very
indignant at Wroblewski stealing Cailletet’s crown just as it was
going to be placed on the Frenchman’s head. It was sharp practice, for
all that a scientific discoverer has to look to is the fame which he
wins among men. The Academy took no notice of the interloping Poles,
but awarded to Cailletet the Lacaze Prize, their secretary, M. Dumas,
then lying sick at Cannes, expressing their opinion in the last letter
he ever wrote. “It is Cailletet’s apparatus,” says M. Dumas, “which
enabled the others to do what he was on the point of accomplishing.
He, therefore, deserves the credit of invention; the others are merely
clever and successful manipulators. What has been done is a great fact
in the history of science, and it will link the name of Cailletet
with those of Lavoisier and Faraday,” So far M. Dumas, who might,
one fancies, have said something for Pictet, only a fortnight behind
Cailletet in the experiment which practically liquefied oxygen. His
case is quite different from Wroblewski’s, for he and Cailletet had
been working quite independently, just as Leverrier and Adams had been
when both discovered the new planet Neptune. Such coincidences so often
happen when the minds of men are turned to the same subject. Well,
the scientific world is satisfied now that the elements of air can
be liquefied; but I want to see the air itself liquefied, as what it
is—a mechanical, not a chemical compound. For from such liquefaction,
one foresees a great many useful results. You might carry your air
about with you to the bottom of mines or up in balloons; you might
even, perhaps, store up enough by-and-by to last for a voyage to the
moon.—_All the Year Round._



In these days, when sanitation claims a large share of attention,
and when questions relating to the public health are canvassed and
discussed on all sides, it may be of service to ask what lessons are to
be learned from the diet, habits, and customs of the Jews. It is not
generally known that their health and longevity are superior to those
of other races, a fact which has been noted by careful observers from
early times in this and other countries. An experiment, extending over
thousands of years, has been made as to the sanitary value of certain
laws in the Mosaic code. The test has been applied in the most rigid
way, and if it had failed at any period in their eventful history,
their name alone, like that of the Assyrian and Babylonian, would
have remained to testify to their existence as a nation. The three
deadly enemies of mankind—war, famine, and pestilence—have at times
been let loose upon them. They have stood firm as a rock against the
crushing power of oppression, when exercised at the call of political
or religious antipathy. They have been pursued with relentless
persecution, from city to city, and from one country to another, in the
name of our holy religion. Restricted as to their trade, singled out
to bear the burden of special taxation, confined in the most miserable
and unhealthy quarters of the towns where they were permitted to dwell,
living in the constant fear of robbery without redress, of violence
without succor, of poverty without relief, of assaults against their
persons, honor, and religion without hope of protection; in spite of
woe after woe coming upon them, like the waves of a pitiless sea, they
have not been broken to pieces and swallowed up, leaving not a wreck
behind. No other race has had the fiery trials that they have gone
through, yet, like the three Hebrew youths in the furnace, the smell of
fire is not found on them. To-day their bodily vigor is unequalled, and
their moral and mental qualities are unsurpassed.

How has it happened that, after being compassed about for centuries
with so many troubles, they have at the present time all the requisites
that go to form a great nation, and are, in numbers, energy, and
resources, on a level with their forefathers in the grandest period of
their history? It is not enough to say that all this has come to pass
according to the will of God, and that their continued existence is
owing to His intervention on their behalf. No doubt it is a miracle in
the sense that it is contrary to all human experience, for no other
nation has lived through such perilous times of hardship and privation.
But as it was in the wilderness so it has been in all their wanderings
down the stream of time; the miracle was supplemented by the use of
means, without which God’s purpose regarding them would have failed.
The blessing of long life and health, promised to them by the mouth
of Moses, has not been withheld. Several texts might be quoted, but
one will suffice. In Deuteronomy iv. 40, we read, “Thou shall keep
therefore his statutes, and his commandments, that it may go well with
thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong
thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever.”
With a promise so rich with blessing, conditional on their obedience,
they have through all the ages been monuments of God’s faithfulness,
and are to this day in the enjoyment of its advantages.

The following statistics, for which I am indebted to the kindness of
Dr. A. Cohen, who has collected them from different sources, will serve
to prove their superiority in respect of health and longevity. In the
town of Fürth, according to Mayer, the average duration of life amongst
the Christians was 26 years, and amongst the Jews 37 years. During
the first five years of childhood the Christian death-rate was 14 per
cent. and the Jewish was 10 per cent. The same proportion of deaths, it
is said, exists in London. Neufville has found that in Frankfort the
Jews live eleven years longer than the Christians, and that of those
who reach the age of 70 years 13 are Christians and 27 are Jews. In
Prussia, from 1822 to 1840, it has been ascertained that the Jewish
population increased by 3½ per cent. more than the Christian, there
being 1 birth in 28 of the Jews to 1 in 25 of the Christians, and 1
death in 40 of the Jews to 1 in 34 of the Christians.

These data are sufficient to verify the statement that the Jews are
endowed with better health and greater longevity than Christians. It
will therefore be inferred that some peculiarity exists which gives
them more power of resisting disease, and renders them less susceptible
to its influence. In virtue of this property their constitution
readily accommodates itself to the demands of a climate which may be
too severe for other non-indigenous races. Take as an example the
statistics of the town of Algiers in 1856. Crebassa gives the following
particulars—Of Europeans there were 1,234 births and 1,553 deaths;
of Mussulmans 331 births and 514 deaths; of Jews 211 births and 187
deaths. These numbers afford a remarkable illustration of the “survival
of the fittest.”

Their unusual freedom from disease of particular kinds has been
often noticed, and amounts nearly to immunity from certain prevalent
maladies, such as those of the scrofulous and tuberculous type,
which are answerable for about a fifth of the total mortality. Their
comparative safety in the midst of destructive epidemics has often
been the subject of comment, and was formerly used as evidence against
them, on the malicious charge of disseminating disease. At the present
day, and in consonance with the spirit of the age, the matter has
come within the scope of the scientific inquirer, with the view of
ascertaining the cause of this exceptional condition.

A peculiarity of this sort must lie in the nature of things in the
distinctive character of their food, habits, and customs. Their more
or less strict adherence to the requirements of the Mosaic law, and
to the interpretation of it given in the Talmud, are familiar to all
who come in contact with them. To this code we must therefore look for
an explanation of the facts under review; and here it may be stated
that no prominence is given to one set of laws over another. They all
begin with the formula, “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,” thus
making no difference in point of importance between the laws of worship
and those of health. These latter, therefore, carried with them the
sanctions of religion, and were as much a matter of obligation as any
other religious duty. It will thus be easily seen how the interweaving
of the several laws relating to health and worship had the effect
of giving equal permanence to both, so that as long as the one was
observed the other would be in force. Though many of the details might
appear arbitrary, a fuller knowledge of sanitary science has revealed
a meaning not recorded in the sacred text. Moses, who was versed in
all the learning of the Egyptians, was evidently acquainted with the
laws of health, which he embodied in his code under divine direction.
Those who are firm believers in the inspiration of the Scriptures will
have no difficulty in believing that principles, given by God for the
preservation of the health of the Israelite in olden times, and to
which he is still obedient with great apparent benefit, are likely to
be beneficial in their effect on the general community. Truths of this
kind are like the laws of nature, universally applicable. They never
grow old by lapse of time or effete by force of circumstances.

This part of the Mosaic code is mainly concerned with details relating
to food, cleanliness, the prevention of disease, and the disinfection
of diseased persons and things. The Jews observe in eating flesh-food
the great primary law, which was given to Noah after the Flood (Gen.
ix. 4): “But the flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood
thereof, shall ye not eat,” It was enforced in the Mosaic dispensation
(Lev. xvii. 10), under the penalty of being cut off for disobedience,
and in the Christian era was confirmed at the Council of Jerusalem
(Acts xv. 20), when the Apostle James, as president, gave sentence that
the Gentiles who are turned to God should abstain from blood. To this
day the animal (whether beast or bird) is killed with a sharp knife in
such a way that the large blood vessels in the neck discharge the blood
most freely, and so drain the flesh to the utmost extent possible, and
as an additional precaution the veins, which in certain places are
difficult to empty, are removed before the part can be used as food; so
that it would appear every needful measure is adopted to prevent the
ingestion of the forbidden fluid. On this account game that is shot is
not eaten by the orthodox Jew, as the blood is retained by that mode of

Before the slain animal is pronounced kosher, or fit for food, a
careful search is made by experts for any evidence of disease. These
men have to satisfy the Shechita Board, which takes cognisance of these
matters, that they have a competent knowledge of morbid structures
before being authorised to affix the official seal, without which no
meat is considered wholesome. That this practice is far from being
unnecessary may be gathered from the fact that in a recent half-yearly
report presented to the board the following particulars occur:—Oxen
slain, 12,473, kosher, 7,649; calves slain, 2,146, kosher, 1,569;
sheep slain, 23,022, kosher, 14,580. These numbers show that out of 37
beasts slain 14 were rejected as unsound, and not allowed to be eaten
by the Jew. The less-favored Christian, not being under such dietary
restrictions, would have no hesitation in buying and consuming this
condemned meat. It is even alleged that a larger proportion of diseased
animals than is here stated is exposed for sale in the Metropolitan
Meat Market, and used as food by purchasers of all classes. Whether
this be so or not, the fact remains that the Jewish portion of the
community have the sole benefit of arrangements specially designed
for the maintenance of health. This state of things demands urgent
attention, and has surely a claim prior to many other subjects which
occupy the time of our legislators.

The Mosaic law, in forbidding the use of blood as food, gives as the
reason that the blood is the life. It follows, therefore, if the animal
be unhealthy its blood may be regarded as unhealthy. But as the blood
may be diseased without external or even internal evidence such as is
open to common observation, the total prohibition of it obviates the
risk that might otherwise be incurred.

Modern science has discovered in the circulation of diseased animals
microscopic organisms of different forms, each characteristic of some
particular disease. They are parasitic in their nature, growing and
multiplying in the living being, though they are capable of preserving
their vitality outside the body. Some, like the bacillus, which is
supposed to cause tuberculosis, may even be dried without losing their
vital properties, and on entering the system be able to produce the
disease proper to them. Others will develop in dead organic substances,
but increase more abundantly in living structures. They are very
plentiful in the atmosphere of certain localities, and settling on
exposed wounded surfaces, or finding their way into the lungs and
effecting a lodgment in the blood and tissues, they generate, each
after its kind, specific infective diseases. When the blood becomes
impregnated by any special organism, a drop may suffice to propagate
the disease by inoculation in another animal. The mode of entrance
of these morbid germs may be by inhalation, by inoculation, and by
the ingestion of poisonous particles with the food. Any person living
in unhygienic circumstances, and whose system is from any cause in a
condition suited for the reception of these organisms, cannot safely
eat meat which may contain them in the blood. In the splenic fever of
cattle, for instance, which is communicable to man, these germs are
exceedingly numerous, and the same may be said of the other specific
febrile diseases. Eventually there is a deposit of morbid material in
the tissues, where the process of development goes on till a great
change in the once healthy structures is effected.

With the light derived from recent investigation we are able to
understand the wisdom and foresight of the Mosaic injunction as well
as appreciate its supreme importance. The Jew, like the Christian,
is exposed to the inroads of disease when he breathes an infected
atmosphere and eats tainted food, provided he is susceptible at the
time to the morbific influence, but he is protected by a dietary rule
at the point where the Christian is in danger. The Jew who conforms
to the law of Moses in this particular must have a better chance of
escaping the ravages of epidemics than those who are not bound by these
restrictions. This hygienic maxim goes far to explain the comparative
freedom of the Jewish race from the large class of blood diseases.

The examination of the carcass is also necessary with the view of
determining the sound or unsound condition of the meat. At one time
it was doubted that the complaints from which animals suffer could
be communicated by eating their flesh, but the evidence of eminent
authorities has definitely settled the question. Such bovine diseases
as the several varieties of anthrax, the foot and mouth disease, and
especially tuberculosis, are now believed to be transmissible through
ingested meat. It has been proved that the pig fed with tuberculous
flesh becomes itself tuberculous, and the inference is fair that
man might acquire the disease if subjected to the same ordeal. This
last disease is very common amongst animals, and is now recognised
as identical with that which is so fatal to the human race. It is
considered highly probable that the widespread mortality caused by this
malady is due in a great degree to the consumption of the milk and meat
of tuberculous animals. That the milk supply should be contaminated is
a very serious affair for the young, who are chiefly fed on it. The
regular inspection of all dairies by skilled officials is imperatively
necessary to ward off a terrible and growing evil; just as a similar
inspection of slaughter-houses is demanded in the interests of the
meat-eating portion of the community.

Temperance is a noteworthy feature in the habits of the Jews. Their
moderation in the use of alcoholic drinks is deserving of the highest
commendation. Very rarely are they rendered unfit for business by
over-indulgence in this debasing vice. In no class of Jewish society is
excessive drinking practised. The poorest, in their persons, families,
and homes, present a marked contrast to their Christian neighbors in
the same social position. The stamp on the drunkard’s face is very
seldom seen on the countenance of a Jew. He is not to be found at the
bar of a public-house, or hanging idly about its doors with drunken
associates. His house is more attractive by reason of the thrift that
forms the groundwork of his character. Domestic broils, so common an
incident in the life of the hard-drinking poor, are most unusual. When
work is entrusted to him insobriety does not interfere with the due
and proper performance of it, hence his industry meets with its reward
in the improvement of his circumstances. This habit of temperance amid
abounding drunkenness, more or less excessive, is probably one of the
causes of the protection afforded to him during the prevalence of
some epidemic diseases, such as typhus, cholera, and other infectious
fevers. His comparative freedom from the ravages of these terrible
complaints has been chronicled by observers, both mediæval and modern,
and is now a subject of common remark. The latest instance of this
immunity is furnished by the records of the deaths from cholera in the
south of France, where it is affirmed that out of a considerable Jewish
population in the infected districts only seven fell victims to the
disease, a fact which ought to receive more than a passing notice in
the interests of humanity.

Another point that may be mentioned is the provision made by the Jewish
Board of Guardians for the indigent poor. It has been said that no
known Jew is allowed to die in a workhouse. When poverty, or sickness
involving the loss of his livelihood, occurs, charity steps in and
bestows the help which places him above want, and tides him over his
bodily or pecuniary distress. The mother is also seasonably provided
with medical and other comforts when her pressing need is greatest. In
this way they are saved from the diseases incidental to lack of food,
and after an attack of illness are sooner restored to health than the
majority of the poor, who linger on in a state of convalescence little
better than the ailment itself, and often sink into permanent bad
health from the scanty supply of the necessary nourishment which their
exhausted frames require.

In enumerating the causes which have made the Jewish people so strong
and vigorous, particular mention must be made of their observance of
the Sabbath. This day was appointed for the double purpose of securing
a set portion of time for the worship of God, and of affording rest
to the body wearied with its six days’ labors. The secularising of
this holy day in the history of the French nation has demonstrated
the need of a day of rest and the wisdom of its institution by a
merciful Creator, even before there was a man to till the ground.
Obedience to this primeval law, renewed amid the thunders of Sinai,
and repeated on many subsequent occasions by Moses and the prophets,
is still held by the Jews to be as strictly binding on them as any
other religious obligation. Of the physical blessings derivable from
keeping the Sabbath day they have had the benefit for many long
centuries when other nations were sunk in heathenism and ignorant of
the divine ordinance made to lighten their labors and recruit their
strength. In Christian countries where the Sunday is kept sacred, or
observed as a holiday, another day of rest in addition to their own
Sabbath is obtained, thus fortifying them against the crushing toil and
nervous strain of modern life. The loss accruing from this enforced
abstinence from business worries is more than counter-balanced by the
gain in nerve power with which periodical cessation from any harassing
employment is compensated. This is doubtless one of the factors which
have helped to invigorate both mind and body, and to develop in them
those high qualities for which they are justly distinguished.

To sum up—the longevity of the Jew is an acknowledged fact. In his
surroundings he is on a par with his Christian neighbor. If the
locality in which he dwells is unhealthy, he also suffers, but to a
less degree. If the climate is ungenial, its influence tells on him
too, but with less injurious effect. His vigorous health enables him to
resist the onset of disease to which others succumb. These advantages
are for the most part owing to his food, his temperate habits, and the
care taken of him in sickness and poverty. No doubt he is specially
fortunate in inheriting a constitution which has been built up by
attention, for many centuries, to hygienic details. His meat is drained
of blood, so that by that means morbid germs are not likely to be
conveyed into his system. It is also most carefully inspected so as
to prevent the consumption of what is unsound, hence his comparative
immunity from scrofulous and tuberculous forms of disease.

How can the benefits which the Jews enjoy be shared by other races? In
regard to food, whatever prejudice may stand in the way of draining the
blood from the animal, it ought surely to be done when there is the
least suspicion of unhealthy symptoms; but there can be no doubt about
the urgent necessity for a strict supervision of our meat markets, so
as to prevent the sale of diseased food. Legislation ought to make
such regulations as will render impossible the continuance of an evil
which, by oversight or otherwise, is dangerous to the general health.
Temperance is a virtue within the reach of everybody, and is now widely
practised by all classes, and the gain in improved health will soon be
apparent in the lessening of ailments due to drunkenness. Charity is as
much the duty of the Christian as of the Jew, and it is a dishonor to
the Master whom the former professes to serve if he shuts up his bowels
of compassion when the poor, who have always claims upon him, call in
vain for the needed help. They ought never to be allowed to languish in
sickness and poverty till the friendly hand of death brings a grateful
relief to all their troubles.

The Bible is regarded by some scientists as an old-fashioned book;
but its teaching in relation to hygiene, even they will confess, has
not become antiquated. It must be credited with having anticipated
and recorded for our instruction and profit doctrines which are now
accepted as beyond dispute in this department of knowledge. In the
Mosaic law are preserved sanitary rules, the habitual observance of
which by the Jew, from generation to generation, has made him superior
to all other races in respect of health and longevity.—_Leisure Hour._



The reconstruction, from newly exhumed monuments, of the history of the
East, has been the great work of the present century. The startling
revelations arising from the decipherment of the Egyptian records were
followed by results, still more surprising, afforded by the buried
cities of Assyria and Babylonia, and by glimpses into the prehistoric
life of Greece obtained from the excavations of Dr. Schliemann on
the sites of Troy and Mycenæ. If any one will take the trouble to
look into such a book as Rollin’s “Ancient History,” and compare it
with Duncker’s “History of Antiquity,” or with the useful series of
little volumes published by the Christian Knowledge Society under the
title of “Ancient History from the Monuments,” it will be possible
to estimate the completeness of the reconstruction of our knowledge.
Thus the legendary story of Sesostris, as recorded by Herodotus, has
given place to the authentic history of the reigns of the conquering
monarchs of the New Empire, Thothmes III., Seti I., and Rameses II.,
while the Greek romance of Sardanapalus is replaced by the contemporary
annals of Assurbanipal; and, more wonderful than all, we discover that
Semiramis herself was no mortal Queen of Babylon, but the celestial
Queen of the Heavenly Host, the planet Venus, the morning star as she
journeys from her eastern realm, the evening star as she passes onward
to the west in search of her lost spouse the sun, and to be identified
with the Babylonian goddess Istar, the Ashtaroth of the Bible, whose
rationalized myth was handed down by Ctesias as sober history.

To these marvellous reconstructions another of hardly less interest
and importance must now be added. The most notable archæological
achievement of the last ten years has been the recovery and
installation of the Hittite Empire as one of the earliest and most
powerful of the great Oriental monarchies. Dr. Wright, in the opportune
volume whose title stands at the head of this notice, has established
a claim to have rescued from probable destruction some of the most
important Hittite inscriptions; to have been the first to suggest the
Hittite origin of the inscribed stones from Hamath whose discovery in
1872 excited so much speculation; and has now added to our obligations
by placing before the world in a convenient form nearly the whole of
the available materials bearing on the question of Hittite history and

Our readers will probably remember a signed article on the Hittites,
from the pen of Dr. Wright, which appeared in this Review in 1882. This
article has been expanded by its author into a goodly volume, and has
been enriched with considerable additions of new and valuable material
which bring it well up to the present standard of knowledge. Among
these additions are facsimiles of the principal Hittite inscriptions,
most of which have already appeared in the transactions of the Society
of Biblical Archæology, and are now revised by Mr. Rylands; while Sir
C. Wilson and Captain Conder have contributed a useful map indicating
the sites where Hittite monuments have been found; and Professor
Sayce adds a valuable appendix containing the results of his latest
researches as to the decipherment of the Hittite script.

Till within the last twenty years all men had been used to think
of the Hittites as an obscure Canaanitish tribe, of much the same
importance as the Hivites or the Perizzites, with whom it was the
custom to class them. It is true that if read between the lines, as we
are now able to read it, the Biblical narrative indicated that while
other Canaanitish tribes were of small power and importance, and were
soon exterminated or absorbed into the Hebrew nationality, the Hittites
stood on altogether another footing. The Hittites are the first and
the last of these tribes to appear on the scene. As early as the time
of Abraham we find them lords of the soil at Hebron; and in the time
of Solomon, and even of Elisha, they are a mighty people, inhabiting a
region to the north of Palestine, and distinguished by the possession
of numerous war chariots, then the chief sign of military power. Though
we are now able to perceive that this is the true signification of the
references to them in the old Testament, yet it was from the newly
recovered monuments of Egypt and Assyria that the facts were actually
gleaned, and it was shown that for more than a thousand years the
Hittite power was comparable to that of Assyria and Egypt.

It is only by slow degrees that this result has been established. The
first light came from Abusimbel, in Nubia, midway between the first and
second cataracts of the Nile, where Rameses II., the most magnificent
of the Egyptian kings, at a time when the Hebrews were still toiling in
Egyptian bondage, caused a vast precipice of rock to be carved into a
stupendous temple-cave, to whose walls he committed the annals of his
reign and the records of his distant campaigns. On one of the walls of
this temple is pictured a splendid battle scene, occupying a space of
57 feet by 24, and containing upwards of 1100 figures. This represents,
as we learn from the hieroglyphic explanation, the great battle of
Kadesh, fought with the “vile people of the Kheta”—a battle which also
forms the theme of the poem of Pentaur, the oldest epic in the world,
still extant in a papyrus now preserved in the British Museum. In
spite of the grandiloquent boasts of these records, we gather that the
battle was indecisive; that Rameses had to retire from the siege of
Kadesh, narrowly escaping with his life; the campaign being ended by
the conclusion of a treaty on equal terms with the King of the Kheta—a
treaty which was followed a year later, by the espousal by Rameses of a
daughter of the hostile king.

About twenty years ago it was suggested by De Rougé that this powerful
nation of the Kheta might probably be identified with the Khittim,
or Hittites, of the Old Testament; and this conclusion, though never
accepted by some eminent Egyptologists, such as Chabas and Ebers,
gradually won its way into favor, and has been recently confirmed by
Captain Conder’s identification of the site of Kadesh, where the battle
depicted on the wall at Abusimbel was fought. From other inscriptions
we learn that for five hundred years the Kheta resisted with varying
success the attacks of the terrible conquerors of the eighteenth and
nineteenth dynasties, their power remaining to the last substantially
unshaken. The story is now taken up by the Assyrian records, which
prove that from the time of Sargon of Accad—who must be assigned to the
nineteenth century B.C., if not to a much earlier period—down
to the reigns of Tiglath Pileser I. (B.C., 1130), and for four hundred
years afterwards, till the reigns of Assur-nazir-pal and Shalmanezer
II., the Khatti of Hamath and Carchemish were the most formidable
opponents of the rising power of Assyria, their resistance being only
brought to a close by the defeat of their King Pisiris, and the capture
of Carchemish, their capital, in 717 B.C., by Sargon II., the king who
also destroyed the monarchy of Israel by the capture of Samaria.

It seemed strange that no monuments should have been discovered
belonging to a people powerful enough to withstand for twelve
centuries the assaults of Egypt and Assyria. At last, in 1872,
certain inscriptions from Hamath on the Orontes, in a hieroglyphic
picture-writing of a hitherto unknown character, were published in
Burton and Drake’s “Unexplored Syria.” Dr. Wright, in 1874, published
an article in “The British and Foreign Evangelical Review,” suggesting
that these monuments were in reality records of the Hittite race. This
conjecture, though much ridiculed at the time, has gradually fought
its way to universal acceptance, mainly owing to the skilful advocacy
of Professor Sayce, who, in ignorance of Dr. Wright’s suggestion,
arrived independently at the same conclusion, and shortly afterwards
identified a monument at Karabel, near Ephesus, described by Herodotus
as a figure of Sesostris, as the effigy of a Hittite king. Subsequent
discoveries of Hittite monuments in other parts of Asia Minor, taken in
conjunction with the Biblical notices, and the Egyptian and Assyrian
records, prove that at some remote period a great Hittite empire must
have extended from Hebron to the Black Sea, and from the Euphrates to
the Ægean; while it is now generally admitted that, to some extent, the
art, the science, and the religion of prehistoric Greece must have been
derived ultimately from Babylon, having been transmitted, first to the
Hittite city of Carchemish, and thence to Lydia, through the Hittite
realm in Asia Minor. It is now believed by many scholars of repute
that the Ephesian Artemis must be identified with the great Hittite
goddess Atargatis, and ultimately with the Babylonian Istar; that the
Niobe of Homer, whose effigy may still be seen on Mount Sipylus, near
Smyrna, was an image of Atargatis, whose armed priestesses gave rise to
the Greek legend of the Amazons, a nation of female warriors; that the
Euboic silver standard was based upon the mina of Carchemish; and that
in all probability the characters found on Trojan whorls by Schliemann,
as well as certain anomalous letters in the Lycian alphabet, and even
the mysterious Cypriote syllabary itself were simply cursive forms
descended from the Hittite hieroglyphs used in the inscriptions on the
pseudo-Niobe and the pseudo-Sesostris in Lydia, and pictured on the
stones obtained by Dr. Wright from Hamath, and by Mr. George Smith from

The arguments by which scholars have been led to these conclusions,
together with the existing materials on which future researches must be
based, have been collected by Dr. Wright in a handy volume, which we
have great pleasure in heartily commending to all students of Biblical
archæology as a substantial contribution to our knowledge.

When the Turks permit the mounds at Kadesh and Carchemish, which
conceal the ruined palaces and temples of the Hittite capitals,
to be systematically explored, and when the Hittite writing shall
be completely deciphered, we may anticipate a revelation of the
earliest history of the world not inferior, possibly, in interest
and importance, to those astonishing discoveries which have made
known to this generation the buried secrets of Babylon, Nineveh, and
Troy.—_British Quarterly Review._



Among all the changes which are taking place in our conceptions of
various parts of the universe, there is none more profound, or at
first sight more disquieting, than the change which, at the touch of
Science, is stealing over our conception of _ourselves_. For each of
us seems to be no longer a sovereign state but a federal union; the
kingdom of our mind is insensibly dissolving into a republic. Instead
of the _ens rationale_ of the schoolmen, protected from irreverent
treatment by its metaphysical abstraction; instead of Descartes’
impalpable soul, seated bravely in its pineal gland, and ruling from
that tiny fortress body and brain alike, we have physiologist and
psychologist uniting in pulling us to pieces,—in analyzing into their
sensory elements our loftiest ideas,—in tracing the diseases of memory,
volition, intelligence, which gradually distort us past recognition,—in
showing how one may become in a moment a different person altogether,
by passing through a fit of somnambulism, or receiving a smart blow
on the head. Our past self, with its stores of registered experience,
continually revived in memory, seems to be held to resemble a too
self-conscious phonograph, which should enjoy an agreeable sense of
mental effort as its handle turned, and should preface its inevitable
repetitions by some triumphant allusion to its own acumen. Our present
self, this inward medley of sensations and desires, is likened to that
mass of creeping things which is termed an “animal colony,”—a myriad
rudimentary consciousnesses, which acquire a sort of corporate unity
because one end of the amalgam has to go first and find the way.

Or one may say that the old view started from the sane mind as the
normal, permanent, definite entity from which insanity was the
unaccountable aberration; while in the new view it is rather sanity
which needs to be accounted for; since the moral and physical being of
each of us is built up from incoördination and incoherence, and the
microcosm of man is but a micro-chaos held in some semblance of order
by a lax and swaying hand, the wild team which a Phaeton is driving,
and which must needs soon plunge into the sea. Theories like this are
naturally distasteful to those who care for the dignity of man. And
such readers may perhaps turn aside in impatience when I say that much
of this paper will be occupied by some reasons for my belief that
this analysis of human consciousness must be carried further still;
that we must face the idea of concurrent streams of being, flowing
alongside but unmingled within us, and with either of which our active
consciousness may, under appropriate circumstances, be identified. Many
people have heard, for instance, of Dr. Azam’s patient, Félida X.,
who passes at irregular intervals from one apparent personality into
another, memory and character changing suddenly as she enters her first
or her second state of being. Such cases as hers I believe to be but
extreme examples of an alternation which is capable of being evoked in
all of us, and which in some slight measure is going on in us every
day. Our cerebral focus (to use a metaphor) often shifts slightly, and
is capable of shifting far. Or let me compare my active consciousness
to a steam-tug, and the ideas and memories which I summon into the
field of attention to the barges which the tug tows after it. Then the
concurrent streams of my being are like Arve and Rhone, contiguous
but hardly mingling their blue and yellow waves. I tug my barges down
the Rhone, my consciousness is a _blue_ consciousness, but the tail
barge swings into the Arve and back again, and brings traces of the
potential _yellow_ consciousness back into the blue. In Félida’s case
tug and barges and all swerve suddenly from one stream into the other;
the blue consciousness becomes the yellow in a moment and altogether.
Transitions may be varied in a hundred ways, and it may happen that the
life-streams mix together, and that there is a memory of all.

Moreover, there seems no reason to assume that our active consciousness
is necessarily altogether superior to the consciousnesses which are
at present secondary, or potential only. We may rather hold that
_super-conscious_ may be quite as legitimate a term as _sub-conscious_,
and instead of regarding our consciousness (as is commonly done) as a
_threshold_ in our being, above which ideas and sensations must rise if
we wish to cognize them, we may prefer to regard it as a _segment_ of
our being, into which ideas and sensations may enter either from below
or from above; say a thermometric tube, marking ordinary temperatures,
but so arranged that water may not only rise into it, by expansion,
from the bottom, but also fall into it, by condensation, from the top.

Strange and extravagant as this doctrine may seem, I shall hope to
show some ground for it in the present paper. I shall hope, at least,
to show not only that our unconscious may interact with our conscious
mental action in a more definite and tangible manner than is usually
supposed, but also that this unconscious mental action may actually
manifest the existence of a capital and cardinal faculty of which the
conscious mind of the same persons at the same time is wholly devoid.

For the sake of brevity I shall select one alone out of many forms of
unconscious action which may, if rightly scrutinized, afford a glimpse
into the recesses of our being.[27]

I shall take _automatic writing_; and I shall try, by a few examples
from among the many which lie before me, to show the operation,
_first_, of unconscious cerebral action of the already recognized
kind, but much more complex and definite than is commonly supposed
to be discernible in waking persons; and, _secondly_, of telepathic
action,—of the transference, that is to say, of thoughts or ideas from
the conscious or unconscious mind of one person to the conscious or
unconscious mind of another person, from whence they emerge in the
shape of automatically written words or sentences.

I shall be able to cover a corner only of a vast and unexplored field.
I venture to think that the phenomena of automatic writing will before
long claim the best attention of the physiological psychologist. They
have been long neglected, and I can only conjecture that this neglect
is due to the eagerness with which certain spiritualists have claimed
such writings as the work of Shakespeare, Byron, and other improbable
persons. The message given has too often fallen below the known
grammatical level of those eminent authors, and the laugh thus raised
has drowned the far more instructive question as to _whence_ in reality
the automatic rubbish came. Yet surely to decline to investigate
“planchette” because “the trail of Katie King is over it all,” is very
much as though one refused to analyse the meteorite at Ephesus because
the town-clerk cried loudly that it was “an image which fell down from

Automatic writing in its simplest form is merely a variety of the
tricks of unconscious action to which, in excited moments, we are
all of us prone. The surplus nervous energy escapes along some
habitual channel—movements of the hand, for instance, are continued
or initiated; and among such hand-movements—drumming of tunes,
piano-playing, drawing, and the like—_writing_ naturally holds a
prominent place. There is incipient graphic automatism when the
nervous student scribbles Greek words on the margin of the paper on
which he is striving to produce a copy of iambics. If the paper be
suddenly withdrawn he will have no notion what he has written. And
more, the words written will sometimes be _imaginary_ words, which
have needed some faint unconscious choice in order to preserve a look
of real words in their arrangement of letters. A complete graphic
automatism is seen in various morbid states. A man attacked by a
slight epileptiform seizure while in the act of writing will sometimes
continue to write a few sentences unconsciously, which, although
probably nonsensical, will often be correct in spelling and grammar.
Again, in the case of certain cerebral troubles, the patient will
write the _wrong_ word—say, “table” for “chair;”—or at least some
meaningless sequence of letters, in which, however, each letter is
properly formed. In each of these cases, therefore, there is graphic
automatism. And they incidentally show that to write words in a sudden
state of unconsciousness, or to write words against one’s will, is not
necessarily a proof that any intelligence is at work besides one’s own.

Still further; in spontaneous somnambulism, the patient will often
write long letters or essays. Sometimes these are incoherent, like
a dream; sometimes they are on the level of his waking productions;
sometimes they even seem to rise above it. They may contain at any rate
ingenious manipulations of data known to his waking brain, as where a
baffling mathematical problem is solved during sleep.

From the natural or spontaneous cases of graphic automatism let us pass
on to the induced or experimental cases. I will give first a singular
transitional instance, where there is no voluntary muscular action, but
yet a previous exercise of expectant attention is necessary to secure
the result.

My friend Mr. A., who is much interested in mental problems, has
practised introspection with assiduity and care. He finds that if he
fixes his attention on some given word, and then allows his hand to
rest laxly in the writing attitude, his hand presently writes the
word without any conscious volition of his own; the sensation being
as though the hand were moved by some power other than himself. This
happens whether his eyes are open or shut, so that the gaze is not
necessary to fix the attention. If he wills _not_ to write, he can
remove his hand and avert the action. But if he chooses a movement
simpler than writing, for instance, if he holds out his open hand and
strongly imagines that it will close, a kind of spasm ensues, and the
hand closes, even though he exert all his voluntary force to keep it

It is manifest how analogous these actions are to much which in bygone
times has been classed as _possession_. Mr. A. has the very sensation
of being possessed,—moved from within by some agency which overrules
his volition, and yet we can hardly doubt that it is merely his
_unconscious_ influencing his _conscious_ life. The act of attention,
so to say, has stamped the idea of the projected movement so strongly
on his brain that the movement works itself out automatically, in spite
of subsequent efforts to prevent it. The best parallel will be the
case of a promise made during the hypnotic trance, which the subject
is irresistibly impelled to fulfil on waking.[28] From this curious
transitional case we pass on to cases where no idea of the words
written has passed through the writer’s consciousness. It is not easy
to make quite sure that this is the case, and the _modus operandi_
needs some consideration.

First we have to find an automatic writer. Perhaps one person in a
hundred possesses this tendency; that is, if he sits for half an hour
on a dozen evenings, amid quiet surroundings and in an expectant
frame of mind, with his hand on pencil or planchette, he will begin
to write words which he has not consciously thought of. But if he
sees the words as he writes them he will unavoidably guess at what is
coming, and spoil the spontaneous flow. Some persons can avoid this
by reading a book while they write, and so keeping eyes and thoughts
away from the message.[29] Another plan is to use a _planchette_; which
is no occult instrument, but simply a thin piece of board supported
on two castors, and on a third leg consisting of a pencil which just
touches the paper. A planchette has two advantages over the ordinary
pencil; namely, that a slighter impulse will start it, and that it is
easier to write (or rather scrawl) without seeing or feeling what you
are writing. These precautions, of course, are for the operator’s own
satisfaction; they are no proof to other people that he is not writing
the words intentionally. That can only be proved to others if he writes
facts demonstrably unknown to his conscious self; as in the telepathic
cases to which we shall come further on. But as yet I am only giving
fresh examples of a kind of mental action which physiology already
recognizes: examples, moreover, which any reader who will take the
requisite trouble can probably reproduce, either in his own person or
in the person of some trusted friend.

I lately requested a lady whom I knew to be a careful observer, but
who was quite unfamiliar with this subject, to try whether she could
write with a pencil or planchette, and report to me the result. Her
experience may stand as typical.

 “I have tried the planchette,” she writes, “and I get writing,
 certainly not done by my hand consciously; but it is nonsense,
 such as _Mebew_. I tried holding a pencil, and all I got was _mm_
 or _rererere_, then for hours together I got this: _Celen, Celen_.
 Whether the first letter was C or L I could never make out. Then I got
 _I Celen_. I was disgusted, and took a book and read while I held the
 pencil. Then I got _Helen_. Now note this fact: I never make H like
 that (like I and C juxtaposed); I make it thus: (like a printed H). I
 then saw that the thing I read as _I Celen_ was _Helen_, my name. For
 days I had only _Celen_, and never for one moment expected it meant
 what it did.”

Now this case suggests several curious analogies. First, there is an
analogy with those cases of double consciousness where the patient in
the “second state” has to learn to write anew. He learns more rapidly
than he learnt as a child, because the necessary adjustments do already
exist in his brain, although he cannot use them in the normal manner.
So here, too, the hidden other self was learning to write, but learnt
more rapidly than a child learns, inasmuch as the process was now
but the transference of an organized memory from one stream of the
inner being to another. But, secondly, we must observe (and now I am
referring to many other cases besides the case cited) that the hidden
self does not learn to write just as a child learns, but rather by
passing through the stages first of _atactic_, then of _amnemonic_
agraphy. That is to say, first, the pencil scrawls vaguely, like the
patient who cannot form a single letter; then it writes the wrong
letters or the wrong words, like the patient who writes blunderingly,
or chooses the letters JICMNOS for James Simmonds, JASPENOS for James
Pascoe, &c.; ultimately it writes correctly, though very likely (as
here, and in a case of Dr. Macnish’s) the handwriting of the _secondary
self_[30] (if I may suggest a needed term) is different from the
handwriting of the _primary_.

Once more: the constant repetition of the same word (which I have
seen to continue with automatic writers even for months) is more
characteristic of aphasia than of agraphy. And we may just remark
in passing that vocal automatism presents the same analysis with
morbid aphasia which graphic automatism presents with morbid agraphy.
When the enthusiasts in Irving’s church first yelled vaguely, then
shouted some meaningless words many hundred times, and then gave
a “trance-address,” their _secondary self_ (I may suggest) was
attaining articulate speech through just the stages through which an
aphasic patient will sometimes pass.[31] The parallel is at least a
curious one; and if the theory which traces the automatic speech of
aphasic patients to the _right_ (or less-used) cerebral hemisphere
be confirmed, a singular light might be thrown on the _locus_ of the
second self.

But I must pass on to one more case of automatic writing, a case which
I select as marking the furthest limit to which, so far as I am at
present aware, pure unconscious cerebration in the waking state can go.
Mr. A., whom I have already mentioned, is not usually able to get any
automatic writing except (as described above) of a word on which his
attention has been previously fixed. But at one period of his life,
when his brain was much excited by over-study, he found that if he held
a pencil and wrote _questions_ the pencil would, in a feeble scrawling
hand, quite unlike his own, write _answers_ which he could in nowise
foresee. Moreover, as will be seen, he was not only unable to foresee
these answers, he was sometimes unable even to comprehend them. Many
of them were anagrams—transpositions of letters which he had to puzzle
over before he could get at their meaning. This makes, of course, the
main importance of the case; this proof of the concurrent action of a
secondary self so entirely dissociated from the primary consciousness
that the questioner is almost baffled by his own automatic replies.
The matter of the replies is on the usual level of automatic messages,
which are apt to resemble the conversations of a capricious dream. The
interest of this form of self-interrogation certainly does not lie in
the wisdom of the oracle received.

    “The things, we know, are neither rich nor rare,
    But wonder how the devil they got there.”

I abridge Mr. A.’s account, and give the _answers_ in italics.

  “‘What is it,’ said Mr. A., ‘that now moves my pen?’ _Religion._
 ‘What is religion?’ _Worship._ Here arose a difficulty. Although
 I did not expect either of these answers, yet, when the first few
 letters had been written, I expected the remainder of the word. This
 might vitiate the result. But now, as if the intelligent wished to
 prove by the manner of answering, that the answer could be due to
 _it_ alone, and in no part to mere expediency, my next question
 received a singular reply. ‘Worship of what?’ _Wbwbwbwb._ ‘What is the
 meaning of wb?’ _Win, buy._ ‘What?’ _Knowledge._ On the second day
 the first question was—‘What is man?’ _Flise._ My pen was at first
 very violently agitated, which had not been the case on the first
 day. It was quite a minute before it wrote as above. On the analogy
 of _wb_ I proceeded: ‘What does F stand for?’ _Fesi._ ‘L?’ ‘;_Le._’
 ‘I?’ ‘;_Ivy._’ ‘S?’ _Sir._ ‘E?’ _Eye._ ‘Is _Fesi le ivy, sir, eye_, an
 anagram?’ _Yes._ ‘How many words in the answer?’ _Four._”

Mr. A. was unable to shift these letters into an intelligible sentence,
and began again on the third day with the same question:

 “‘What is man?’ _Tefi, Hasl, Esble, Lies._ ‘Is this an anagram?’
 _Yes._ ‘How many words in the answer?’ _Five._ ‘Must I interpret it
 myself?’ _Try._ Presently I got out, _Life is the less able_. Next I
 tried the previous anagram, and at last obtained _Every life is yes_.”

Other anagrams also were given, as _wfvs yoitet_ (Testify! vow!); _ieb;
iov ogf wle_ (I go, vow belief!); and in reply to the question, “How
shall I believe?” _neb 16 vbliy ev 86 e earf ee_ (Believe by fear even!
1866). How unlikely it is that all this was due to mere accident may
be seen by any one who will take letters (the vowels and consonants
roughly proportioned to the frequency of their actual use), and try to
make up a series of handfuls _completely_ into words possessing any
grammatical coherence or intelligible meaning. Now in Mr. A.’s case all
the _professed_ anagrams were _real_ anagrams (with one error of _i_
for _e_); some of the sentences were real answers to the questions; and
not even the absurdest sentences were wholly meaningless. In the two
first given, for instance, Mr. A. was inclined to trace a reference
to books lately read; the second sentence alluding to such doctrines
as that “Death solves mysteries which life cannot unlock;” the first
to Spinoza’s tenet that all existence is affirmation of the Deity. We
seem therefore to see the secondary self struggling to express abstract
thought with much the same kind of incoherence with which we have
elsewhere seen it struggle to express some concrete symbol. To revert
to our former parallel, we may say that “Every life is yes” bears
something the same relation to a thought of Spinoza’s which the letters
JICMNOS bear to the name James Simmonds.

Let us consider, then, how far we have got. Mr. A. (on the view here
taken) is communing with his second self, with another focus of
cerebral activity within his own brain. And I imagine this other focus
of personality to be capable of exhibiting about as much intelligence
as one exhibits in an ordinary dream. Mr. A. awake is addressing Mr.
A. asleep; and the first replies, _Religion_, _Worship_, &c., are
very much the kind of answer that one gets if one addresses a man who
is partially comatose, or muttering in broken slumber. Such a man
will make brief replies which show at least that the _words_ of the
question are caught, though perhaps not its meaning. In the next place,
the answer _wb_ must, I think, as Mr. A. suggests, be taken as an
attempt to prove independent action, a confused inchoate response to
the writer’s fear that his waking self might be suggesting the words
written. The same trick of language—abbreviation by initial letters,
occurs on the second day again; and this kind of _continuity of
character_, which automatic messages often exhibit, has been sometimes
taken to indicate the persisting presence of an extraneous mind. But
perhaps its true parallel may be found in the well-known cases of
intermittent memory, where a person repeatedly subjected to certain
abnormal states, as somnambulism or the hypnotic trance, carries on
from one access into another a chain of recollections of which his
ordinary self knows nothing.

In Mr. A.’s case, however, some persons might think that the proof of
an independent intelligence went much further than this; for his hand
wrote anagrams which his waking brain took an hour or more to unriddle.
And certainly there could hardly be a clearer proof that the answers
did not pass through the writer’s primary consciousness; that they
proceeded, if from himself at all, from a secondary self such as I
have been describing. But further than this we surely need not go. The
answers contain no unknown facts, no new materials, and there seems
no reason _à priori_ why the dream-self should not puzzle the waking
self; why its fantastic combinations of old elements of memory should
not need some pains to unravel. I may perhaps be permitted to quote
in illustration a recent dream of my own, to which I doubt not that
some of my readers can supply parallel instances. I dreamt that I saw
written in gold on a chapel wall some Greek hexameters, which, I was
told, were the work of an eminent living scholar. I gazed at them with
much respect, but dim comprehension, and succeeded in carrying back
into waking memory the bulk of one line:—ὁ μὲν κατὰ γᾶν θαλερὸν κύσε
δακνόμενον πῦρ. On waking, it needed some little thought to show me
that κατὰ γᾶν was a solecism for ὑπὸ γᾶν, revived from early boyhood,
and that the line meant: “He indeed beneath the earth embraced the
ever-burning, biting fire.” Further reflection reminded me that I
had lately been asked to apply to the Professor in question for an
inscription to be placed over the tomb of a common acquaintance. The
matter had dropped, and I had not thought of it again. But here, I
cannot doubt, was my inner self’s prevision of that unwritten epitaph;
although the drift of it certainly showed less tact and fine feeling
than my scholarly friend would have exhibited on such an occasion.

Now just in this same way, as it seems to me, Mr. A.’s inner self
retraced the familiar path of one of his childish amusements, and
mystified the waking man with the puzzles of the boy. It may be that
the unconscious self moves more readily than the conscious along these
old-established and stable mnemonic tracks, that we constantly retrace
our early memories without knowing it, and that when some recollection
seems to have _left_ us it has only passed into a storehouse from which
we can no longer summon it at will.

But we have not yet done with Mr. A.’s experiences. Yielding to the
suggestion that these anagrams were the work of some intelligence
without him, he placed himself in the mental attitude of colloquy with
some unknown being. Note the result:

 “Who art thou? _Clelia._ Thou art a woman? _Yes._ Hast thou ever lived
 upon the earth? _No._ Wilt thou? _Yes._ When? _Six years._ Wherefore
 dost thou speak with me? _E if Clelia el._”

There is a disappointing ambiguity about this last very simple anagram,
which may mean “I Clelia feel,” or, “I Clelia flee.”

But mark what has happened. Mr. A. has created and is talking to a
personage in his own dream. In other words, his secondary self has
produced in his primary self the illusion that there is a separate
intelligence at work; and this illusion of the primary self reacts on
the secondary, as the words which we whisper back to the muttering
dreamer influence the course of a dream which we cannot follow. The
fact, therefore, of Clelia’s apparent personality and unexpected
rejoinders do not so much as suggest any need to look outside Mr.
A’s mind for her origin. The figures in our own ordinary dreams say
things which startle and even shock us; nay, these shadows sometimes
even defy our attempts at analyzing them away. On the rare occasions,
so brief and precious, when one dreams and knows it is a dream,
I always endeavor to get at my dream-personages and test their
independence of character by a few suitable inquiries. Unfortunately
they invariably vanish under my perhaps too hasty interrogation. But a
shrewd Northumbrian lately told me the following dream, unique in his
experience, and over which he had often pondered.

 “I was walking in my dream,” he said, “in a Newcastle street, when
 suddenly I knew so clearly that it was a dream, that I thought I would
 find out what the folk in my dream thought of themselves. I saw three
 foundrymen sitting at a yard door. I went up and said to all three:
 ‘Are you conscious of a real objective existence?’ Two of the men
 stared and laughed at me. But the man in the middle stretched out his
 two hands to his two mates and said, ‘Feel that,’ They said, ‘We do
 feel you,’ Then he held out his hand to me, and I told him that I felt
 it solid and warm; then he said: ‘Well, sir, my mates feel that I am a
 real man of flesh and blood, and you feel it, and I feel it. What more
 would you have?’ Now I had not formed any notion of what this man was
 going to say. And I could not answer him, and I awoke.”

Now I take this self-assertive dream-foundry-man to be the exact
analogue of Clelia. Let us now see whether anything of Clelia survived
the excited hour which begat her.

 “On the fourth day,” says Mr. A., “I began my questioning in the
 same exalted mood, but to my surprise did not get the same answer.
 ‘Wherefore,’ I asked, ‘dost thou speak with me?’ (The answer was a
 wavy line, denoting repetition, and meaning.—‘Wherefore dost _thou_
 speak with _me_?’) ‘Do I answer myself?’ _Yes._ ‘Is Clelia here?’
 _No._ ‘Who is it, then, now here?’ _Nobody._ ‘Does Clelia exist?’
 _No._ ‘With whom did I speak yesterday?’ _No one._ ‘Do souls exist in
 another world?’ _Mb._ ‘What does _mb_ mean? ’_May be._”

And this was all the revelation which our inquirer got. Some further
anagrams were given, but Clelia came no more. Such indeed, on the view
here set forth, was the natural conclusion. The dream passed through
its stages, and faded at last away.

I have heard of a piece of French statuary entitled “Jeune homme
caressant sa Chimère.” Clelia, could the sculptor have caught her,
might have been his fittest model; what else could he have found at
once so intimate and so fugitive, discerned so elusively without us,
and yet with such a root within?

I might mention many other strange varieties of graphic automatism;
as _reversed script_, so written as to be read in a mirror;[32]
alternating styles of handwriting, symbolic arabesque, and the like.
But I must hasten on to the object towards which I am mainly tending,
which is to show, not so much the influence exercised by a man’s
own mind on itself as the influence exercised by one man’s mind on
another’s. We have been watching, so to say, the psychic wave as it
washed up deep-sea products on the open shore. But the interest will
be keener still if we find that wave washing up the products of some
far-off clime; if we discover that there has been a profound current
with no surface trace—a current propagated by an unimagined impulse,
and obeying laws as yet unknown.

The psychical phenomenon here alluded to is that for which I have
suggested the name Telepathy; the transference of ideas or sensations
from one conscious or unconscious mind to another, without the agency
of any of the recognized organs of sense.

Our first task in the investigation of this influence has naturally
been to assure ourselves of the transmission of thought between two
persons, both of them in normal condition; the _agent_, conscious of
the thought which he wishes to transmit, the _percipient_, conscious of
the thought as he receives it.

The “Proceedings” of the Society for Psychical Research must for a long
time be largely occupied with experiments of this definite kind. But,
of course, if such an influence truly exists, its manifestations are
not likely to be confined to the transference of a name or a cypher, a
card or a diagram, from one man’s field of mental vision to another’s,
by deliberate effort and as a preconcerted experiment. If Telepathy
be anything at all, it involves one of the profoundest laws of mind,
and, like other important laws, may be expected to operate in many
unlooked for ways, and to be at the root of many scattered phenomena,
inexplicable before. Especially must we watch for traces of it wherever
unconscious mental action is concerned. For the telepathic impact, we
may fairly conjecture, may often be a stimulus so gentle as to need
some concentration or exaltation in the percipient’s mind, or at least
some inhibition of competing stimuli, in order to enable him to realize
it in consciousness at all. And in fact (as we have shown or are
prepared to show), almost every abnormal mental condition (consistent
with sanity) as yet investigated yields some indication of telepathic

Telepathy, I venture to maintain, is an occasional phenomenon in
somnambulism and in the hypnotic state; it is one of the obscure causes
which generate hallucinations; it enters into dream and into delirium;
and it often rises to its maximum of vividness in the swoon that ends
in death.

In accordance with analogy, therefore, we may expect to find that
automatic writing—this new glimpse into our deep-sea world—will afford
us some fresh proof of currents which set obscurely towards us from
the depths of minds other than our own. And we find, I believe, that
this is so. Had space permitted it, I should have liked to detail some
transitional cases, to have shown by what gradual steps we discover
that it is not always one man’s intelligence _alone_ which is concerned
in the message given, that an infusion of facts known to some spectator
only may mingle in the general tenor which the writer’s mind supplies.
Especially I should have wished to describe some attempts at this kind
of thought-transference attended with only slight or partial success.
For the mind justly hesitates to give credence to a palmary group of
experiments unless it has been prepared for them by following some
series of gradual suggestions and approximate endeavor.

But the case which I am about to relate, although a _culminant_, is
not an _isolated_ one in the life-history of the persons concerned.
The Rev. P. H. Newnham, Rector of Maker, Devonport, experienced an
even more striking instance of thought-transference with Mrs. Newnham,
some forty years ago, before their marriage; and during subsequent
years there has been frequent and unmistakable transmission of thought
from husband to wife of an _involuntary_ kind, although it was only in
the year 1871 that they succeeded in getting the ideas transferred by
intentional effort.

Mr. Newnham’s communication consists of a copy of entries in a
note-book made during eight months in 1871, at the actual moments
of experiment. Mrs. Newnham independently corroborates the account.
The entries had previously been shown to a few personal friends, but
had never been used, and were not meant to be used, for any literary
purpose. Mr. Newnham has kindly placed them at my disposal, from a
belief that they may serve to elucidate important truth.

 “Being desirous,” says the first entry in Mr. Newnham’s note-book, “of
 investigating accurately the phenomena of ‘planchette,’ myself and my
 wife have agreed to carry out a series of systematic experiments, in
 order to ascertain the conditions under which the instrument is able
 to work. To this end the following rules are strictly observed:

 “1. The question to be asked is written down before the planchette is
 set in motion. This question, as a rule, is not known to the operator.
 [The few cases were the question _was_ known to Mrs. Newnham are
 specially marked in the note-book, and are none of them cited here.]

 “2. Whenever an evasive, or other, answer is returned, necessitating
 one or more new questions to be put before a clear answer can be
 obtained, the operator is not to be made aware of any of these
 questions, or even of the general subject to which they allude, until
 the final answer has been obtained.

 “My wife,” adds Mr. Newnham, “always sat at a small low table, in a
 low chair, leaning backwards. I sat about eight feet distant, at a
 rather high table, and with my back towards her while writing down
 the questions. It was absolutely impossible that any gesture or play
 of feature on my part could have been visible or intelligible to her.
 As a rule she kept her eyes shut; but never became in the slightest
 degree hypnotic, or even naturally drowsy.

 “Under these conditions we carried on experiments for about eight
 months, and I have 309 questions and answers recorded in my note-book,
 spread over this time. But the experiments were found very exhaustive
 of nerve power, and as my wife’s health was delicate, and the fact of
 thought-transmission had been abundantly proved, we thought it best to
 abandon the pursuit.

 “The planchette began to move instantly with my wife. The answer was
 often half written before I had completed the question.

 “On finding that it would write easily, I asked three simple
 questions, which were known to the operator, then three others
 unknown to her, relating to my own private concerns. All six having
 been instantly answered in a manner to show complete intelligence, I
 proceeded to ask:

 “(7) Write down the lowest temperature here this week. Answer: 8. Now,
 this reply at once arrested my interest. The actual lowest temperature
 had been 7·6°, so that 8 was the nearest whole degree; but my wife
 said at once that, if she had been asked the question, she would have
 written 7, and not 8; as she had forgotten the decimal, but remembered
 my having said that the temperature had been down to 7 _something_,

 “I simply quote this as a good instance, at the very outset, of
 perfect transmission of thought, coupled with a perfectly independent
 reply; the answer being correct in itself, but different from the
 impression on the conscious intelligence of both parties.

 “Naturally, our first desire was to see if we could obtain any
 information concerning the nature of the intelligence which was
 operating through the planchette, and of the method by which it
 produced the written results. We repeated questions on this subject
 again and again, and I will copy down the principal questions and
 answers in this connection.

 “(13) Is it the operator’s brain or some external force that moves the
 planchette? Answer ‘brain’ or ‘force.’ _Will._

 “(14) Is it the will of a living person, or of an immaterial spirit
 distinct from that person? Answer ‘person’ or ‘spirit.’ _Wife._

 “(15) Give first the wife’s Christian name; then my favorite name for
 her. (_This was accurately done._)

 “(27) What is your own name? _Only you._

 “(28) We are not quite sure of the meaning of the answer. Explain.

 “The subject was resumed on a later day.

 “(118) But does no one tell wife what to write? if so, who? _Spirit._

 “(119) Whose spirit? _Wife’s brain._

 “(120) But how does wife’s brain know masonic secrets? _Wife’s spirit
 unconsciously guides._

 “(190) Why are you not always influenced by what I think? _Wife knows
 sometimes what you think._ (191) How does wife know it? _When her
 brain is excited, and has not been much tried before._ (192) But by
 what means are my thoughts conveyed to her brain? _Electrobiology._
 (193) What is electrobiology? _No one knows._ (194) But do not you
 know? _No, wife does not know._

 “My object,” says Mr. Newnham, “in quoting this large number of
 questions and replies [many of them omitted here] has been not merely
 to show the instantaneous and unfailing transmission of thought from
 questioner to operator, but more especially to call attention to a
 remarkable character of the answers given. These answers, consistent
 and invariable in their tenor from first to last, did not correspond
 with the opinion or expectation of either myself or my wife. Something
 which takes the appearance of a source of intelligence distinct from
 the conscious intelligence of either of us was clearly perceptible
 from the very first. Assuming, at the outset, that if her source of
 percipience could grasp my question, it would be equally willing
 to reply in accordance with my request, in questions (13) (14) I
 suggested the form of answer; but of this not the slightest notice was
 taken. Neither myself nor my wife had ever taken part in any form of
 (so-called) ‘spiritual’ manifestations before this time; nor had we
 any decided opinion as to the agency by which phenomena of this kind
 were brought about. But for such answers as those numbered (14), (27),
 (144), (192), (194), we were both of us totally unprepared; and I may
 add that, so far as we were prepossessed by any opinion whatever,
 these replies were distinctly opposed to such opinions. In a word,
 it is simply impossible that these replies should have been either
 suggested, or composed, by the _conscious_ intelligence of either of

Mr. Newnham obtained some curious results by questioning “planchette”,
on Masonic archæology—a subject which he had long studied, but of
which Mrs. Newnham knew nothing. It is to be observed, moreover, that
throughout the experiments Mrs. Newnham “was quite unable to follow
the motions of the planchette. Often she only touched it with a single
finger; but even with all her fingers resting on the board she never
had the slightest idea of what words were being traced out,” In this
case, therefore, we have Mrs. Newnham ignorant at once of all three
points:—of what was the question asked; of what the true answer would
have been; and of what answer was actually being written. Under these
circumstances the answer showed a mixture—

(1) Of true Masonic facts, as known to Mr. Newnham;

(2) Of Masonic theories, known to him, but held by him to be erroneous;

(3) Of ignorance, sometimes, avowed, sometimes endeavoring to conceal
itself by subterfuge.

I give an example:—

 “(166) Of what language is the first syllable of the Great Triple R.
 A. word? _Don’t know._ (167) Yes, you do. What are the three languages
 of which the word is composed? _Greek_, _Egypt_, _Syriac_. _First
 syllable (correctly given), rest unknown._ (168) Write the syllable
 which is Syriac. (_First Syllable correctly written._) (174) Write
 down the word itself. (_First three and last two letters were written
 correctly, but four incorrect letters, partly borrowed from another
 word of the same degree, came in the middle._) (176) Why do you write
 a word of which I know nothing? _Wife tried hard to catch the word,
 but could not quite catch it._”

So far the answers, though imperfect, honestly admit their
imperfection. There is nothing which a _second self_ of Mrs.
Newnham’s, with a certain amount of access to Mr. Newnham’s mind,
might not furnish. But I must give one instance of another class of
replies—replies which seem to wish to conceal ignorance and to elude
exact inquiry.

 “(182) Write out the prayer used at the advancement of a Mark Master
 Mason. _Almighty Ruler of the Universe and Architect of all worlds, we
 beseech Thee to accept this our brother whom we have this day received
 into the most honorable company of Mark Master Masons. Grant him to be
 a worthy member of our brotherhood; and may he be in his own person a
 perfect mirror of all Masonic virtues. Grant that all our doings may
 be to Thy honor and glory, and to the welfare of all mankind._

 “This prayer was written off instantaneously and very rapidly. For
 the benefit of those who are not members of the craft, I may say
 that no prayer in the slightest degree resembling it is made use of
 in the Ritual of any Masonic degree; and yet it contains more than
 one strictly accurate technicality connected with the degree of
 Mark Mason. My wife has never seen any Masonic prayers, whether in
 ‘Carlile’ or any other real or spurious Ritual of the Masonic Order.”

There was so much of this kind of untruthful evasion, and it was so
unlike anything in Mrs. Newnham’s character, that observers less
sober-minded would assuredly have fancied that some Puck or sprite
was intervening with a “third intelligence” compounded of aimless
cunning and childish jest. But Mr. Newnham inclines to a view fully in
accordance with that which this paper has throughout suggested.

 “Is this _third intelligence_,” he says, “analogous to the ‘dual
 state,’ the existence of which, in a few extreme and most interesting
 cases, is now well established? Is there a latent potentiality of a
 ‘dual state’ existing in every brain? and are the few very striking
 phenomena which have as yet been noticed and published only the
 exceptional developments of a state which is inherent in most or in
 all brains?”

And alluding to a theory, which has at different times been much
discussed, of the more or less independent action of the two cerebral
hemispheres, he asks:—

 “May not the untrained half of the organ of mind, even in the most
 pure and truthful characters, be capable of manifesting tendencies
 like the hysterical girl’s, and of producing at all events the
 _appearance_ of moral deficiencies which are totally foreign to the
 well-trained and disciplined portion of the brain which is ordinarily
 made use of?”

In this place, however, it will be enough to say that the real cause
for surprise would have been if our secondary self had _not_ exhibited
a character in some way different from that which we recognize as
our own. Whatever other factors may enter into a man’s character,
two of the most important are undoubtedly his store of memories and
his _cænesthesia_, or the sum of the obscure sensations of his whole
physical structure. When either of these is suddenly altered, character
changes too—a change for an example of which we need scarcely look
further than our recollection of the moral obliquities and incoherences
of an ordinary dream. Our personality may be dyed throughout with the
same color, but the apparent tint will vary with the contexture of each
absorptive element within. And not graphic automatism only, but other
forms of muscular and vocal automatism must be examined and compared
before we can form even an empirical conception of that hidden agency,
which is ourselves, though we know it not. In the meantime I shall, I
think, be held to have shown that, in the vast majority of cases where
spiritualists are prone to refer automatic writing to some unseen
intelligence, there is really no valid ground for such an ascription.
I am, indeed, aware that some cases of a different kind are alleged to
exist—cases where automatic writing has communicated facts demonstrably
not known to the writer or to any one present. How far these cases can
satisfy the very rigorous scrutiny to which they ought obviously to be
subjected is a question which I may perhaps find some other opportunity
of discussing.

But for the present our inquiry must pause here. Two distinct arguments
have been attempted in this paper: the first of them in accordance with
recognized physiological science, though with some novelty of its own;
the second lying altogether beyond what the consensus of authorities at
present admits. For, _first_, an attempt has been made to show that the
unconscious mental action which is admittedly going on within us may
manifest itself through graphic automatism with a degree of complexity
hitherto little suspected, so that a man may actually hold a written
colloquy with his own waking and responsive dream; and, _secondly_,
reason has been given for believing that automatic writing may
sometimes reply to questions which the writer does not see, and mention
facts which the writer does not know, the knowledge of those questions
or those facts being apparently derived by telepathic communication
from the conscious or unconscious mind of another person.

Startling as this conclusion is, it will not be novel to those who have
followed the cognate experiments on other forms of thought-transference
detailed in the “Proceedings” of the Society for Psychical
Research.[33] And be it noted that our formula, “Mind can influence
mind independently of the recognized organs of sense,” has been again
and again foreshadowed by illustrious thinkers in the past. It is, for
instance, but a more generalized expression of Cuvier’s _dictum_, “that
a communication can under certain circumstances be established between
the nervous systems of two persons.” Such communication, indeed, like
other mental phenomena, may be presumed to have a _neural_ as well as a
_psychical_ aspect; and if we prefer to use the word _mind_ rather than
_brain_, it is because the mental side is that which primarily presents
itself for investigation, and in such a matter it is well to avoid even
the semblance of _theory_ until we have established _fact_.

Before concluding, let us return for a moment to the popular
apprehensions to which my opening paragraphs referred. Has not some
reason been shown for thinking that these fears were premature? that
they sprang from too ready an assumption that all the discoveries of
psycho-physics would reveal us as smaller and more explicable things,
and that the analysis of man’s personality would end in analysing
man away? It is not, on the other hand, at least possible that this
analysis may reveal also faculties of unlooked-for range, and powers
which our conscious self was not aware of possessing? A generation
ago there were many who resented the supposition that man had sprung
from the ape. But on reflection most of us have discerned that this
repugnance came rather from pride than wisdom; and that with the
race, as with the individual, there is more true hope for him who
has risen by education from the beggar-boy than for him who has
fallen by transgression from the prince. And now once more it seems
possible that a more searching analysis of our mental constitution may
reveal to us not a straitened and materialized, but a developing and
expanding view of the “powers that lie folded up in man.” Our best
hope, perhaps, should be drawn from our potentialities rather than
our perfections; and the doubt whether we are our full selves already
may suggest that our true subjective unity may wait to be realized
elsewhere.—_Contemporary Review._



To judge from appearances, we are threatened with a new agitation
against vivisection. The recent controversy carried on in the columns
of the _Times_ revealed an amount of heat on the subject which can
hardly fail to find some new mode of motion on the platform, or even in
Parliament. It is evident that passions of no common fervor have been
kindled, at least, in one party to the controversy, and efforts will
probably be made to work the public mind up to a similar temperature.
The few observations which follow are intended to have, if possible,
a contrary effect. The question of vivisection should not be beyond
the possibility of a rational discussion. When antagonism, so fierce
and uncompromising, exists as in the present case, the presumption is
that the disputants argue from incompatible principles. Neither side
convinces or even seriously discomposes the other, because they are not
agreed as to the ultimate criteria of the debate.

It is evident that the first and most important point to be decided,
is: “What is the just and moral attitude of man towards the lower
animals?” or to put the question in another form: “What are the rights
of animals as against man?” Till these questions are answered with
some approach to definiteness, we clearly shall float about in vague
generalities. Formerly, animals had no rights; they have very few now
in some parts of the East. Man exercised his power and cruelty upon
them with little or no blame from the mass of his fellows. The improved
sentiment in this respect is one of the best proofs of progress that
we have to show. Cruelty to animals is not only punished by law, but
reprobated, we may believe—in spite of occasional brutalities—by
general public opinion. The point on which precision is required is,
how far this reformed sentiment is to extend? Does it allow us to use
animals (even to the extent of eating them) for our own purposes, on
the condition of treating them well on the whole, of not inflicting
upon them unnecessary pain; or should it logically lead to complete
abstention from meddling with them at all, from interfering with their
liberty, from making them work for us, and supplying by their bodies
a chief article of our food? Only the extreme sect of vegetarians
maintains this latter view, and with vegetarians we are not for the
moment concerned; and I am not aware that even vegetarians oppose
the labor of animals for the uses of man. Now, what I would wish to
point out is, that if we do allow the use of animals by man, it is a
practical impossibility to prevent the occasional, or even the frequent
infliction of great pain and suffering upon them, at times amounting
to cruelty; that if the infliction of cruelty is a valid argument
against the practice of vivisection, it is a valid argument against
a number of other practices, which nevertheless go unchallenged. The
general public has a right to ask the opponents of vivisection why they
are so peremptory in denouncing one, and relatively a small form of
cruelty, while they are silent and passive in reference to other and
much more common forms. We want to know the reason of what appears a
very great and palpable inconsistency. We could understand people who
said, “You have no more right to enslave, kill, and eat animals than
men; _à fortiori_, you may not vivisect them.” But it is not easy to
see how those who do not object, apparently, to the numberless cruel
usages to which the domesticated animals are inevitably subjected by
our enslavement of them, yet pass these all by and fix their eyes
exclusively on one minute form of cruelty, singling _that_ out for
exclusive obloquy and reprobation. Miss Cobbe (_Times_, Jan. 6) says,
“The whole practice (of vivisection) starts from a wrong view of the
use of the lower animals, and of their relations to us.” That may be
very true, but I question if Miss Cobbe had sufficiently considered
the number of “practices” which her principles should lead her to
pronounce as equally starting from a wrong view of the use of the
lower animals, and of their relation to us.

It is clear that the anti-vivisectionists are resolute in refusing
the challenge repeatedly made to them, either to denounce the
cruelties of sport or to hold their peace about the cruelties of
vivisection. One sees the shrewdness but hardly the consistency or
the courage of their policy in this respect. Sport is a time-honored
institution, the amusement of the “fine old English gentleman,” most
respectable, conservative, and connected with the landed interest;
hostility to it shows that you are a low radical fellow, quite remote
from the feeling of good society. Sport is therefore let alone. The
lingering agony and death of the wounded birds, the anguish of the
coursed hare, the misery of the hunted fox, even when not aggravated
by the veritable _auto da fé_ of smoking or burning him out if he
has taken to earth, the abominable cruelty of rabbit traps; these
forms of cruelty and “torture,” inasmuch as their sole object is the
amusement of our idle classes, do not move the indignant compassion
of the anti-vivisectionist. The sportsman may steal a horse when the
biologist may not look over a hedge. The constant cruelty to horses by
ill-fitting harness, over-loading, and over-driving must distress every
human mind. A tight collar which presses on the windpipe and makes
breathing a repeated pain must in its daily and hourly accumulation
produce an amount of suffering which few vivisectionists could equal
if they tried. Look at the forelegs of cab horses, especially of the
four-wheelers on night service, and mark their knees “over,” as it is
called, which means seriously diseased joint, probably never moved
without pain. The efforts of horses to keep their feet in “greasy”
weather on the wood pavement are horrible to witness. To such a nervous
animal as the horse the fear of falling is a very painful emotion; yet
hundreds of omnibuses tear along at express speed every morning and
evening, with loads which only the pluck of the animals enables them
to draw, and not a step of the journey between the City and the West
End is probably made without the presence of this painful emotion.
Every day, in some part of the route, a horse falls. Then occurs one
of the most repulsive incidents of the London streets, the gaping crowd
of idlers, through which is heard the unfailing prescription to “sit
on his head,” promptly carried out by some officious rough, who has
no scruples as to the “relations of the lower animals to us.” Again,
in war the sufferings and consumption of animals is simply frightful.
Field-officers—some of whom, it appears, are opposed to vivisection—are
generally rather proud, or they used to be, of having horses “shot
under them.” But this cannot occur without considerable torture to
the horses. The number of camels which slipped and “split up” in the
Afghan war has been variously stated between ten and fifteen thousand.
In either case animal suffering must have been on a colossal scale.
Now the point one would like to see cleared up is, why this almost
boundless field of animal suffering is ignored and the relatively
minute amount of it produced in the dissecting-rooms of biologists so
loudly denounced.

But what I wish particularly to call attention to is the practice
of vivisection as exercised by our graziers and breeders all over
the country on tens of thousands of animals yearly, by an operation
always involving great pain and occasional death. In a review intended
for general circulation the operation I refer to cannot be described
in detail, but every one will understand the allusion made. It is
performed on horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, and fowls. With regard to the
horses the object is to make them docile and manageable. The eminent
Veterinary-Surgeon Youatt, in his book on the Horse (chap. xv.), speaks
of it as often performed “with haste, carelessness, and brutality:” but
even he is of opinion “that the old method of preventing hæmorrhage by
temporary pressure of the vessels while they are seared with a hot iron
_must not perhaps be abandoned_.” He objects strongly to a “practice of
some farmers,” who, by means of a ligature obtain their end, but “not
until the animal has suffered sadly,” and adds that inflammation and
death frequently ensue.

With regard to cattle, sheep, and pigs, the object of the operation
is to hasten growth, to increase size, and to improve the flavor of
the meat. The mutton, beef, and pork on which we feed are, with rare
exceptions, the flesh of animals who have been submitted to the painful
operation in question. In the case of the female pig the corresponding
operation is particularly severe; while as to fowls, the pain
inflicted was so excruciating in the opinion of an illustrious young
physiologist, whom science still mourns, that he on principle abstained
from eating the flesh of the capon.

Now there is no doubt that here we have vivisection in its most
extensive and harsh form. More animals are subjected to it in one year
than have been vivisected by biologists in half-a-century. It need not
be said that anæsthetics are not used, and if they were or could be
they would not assuage the suffering which follows the operation. It
will surely be only prudent for the opponents of scientific vivisection
to inform us why they are passive and silent with regard to bucolic
vivisection. They declare that knowledge obtained by the torture of
animals is impure, unholy, and vitiated at its source, and they reject
it with many expressions of scorn. What do they say to their daily
food which is obtained by the same means? They live by the results of
vivisection on the largest scale—the food they eat—and they spend a
good portion of their lives thus sustained in denouncing vivisection on
the smallest scale because it only produces knowledge. It is true that
they are not particular to conceal their suspicion that the knowledge
claimed to be derived from vivisection is an imposture and a sham.
Do they not, by the inconsistencies here briefly alluded to, their
hostility to alleged knowledge, and their devotion to very substantial
beef and mutton, the one and the other the products of vivisection,
expose themselves to a suspicion better founded than that which they
allow themselves to express? They question the value of vivisection,
may not the single-mindedness of their hostility to it be questioned
with better ground? Biology is now the frontier science exposed for
obvious reasons to the _odium theologicum_ in a marked degree. The
havoc it has made among cherished religious opinions amply accounts
for the dislike which it excites. But it is difficult to attack. On
the other hand, an outcry that its methods are cruel, immoral, and
revolting may serve as a useful diversion, and even give it a welcome
check. The Puritans, it was remarked, objected to bear-baiting, not
because it hurt the bear, but because it pleased the men. May we not
say that vivisection is opposed, not because it is painful to animals,
but because it tends to the advancement of science?

The question recurs, What is our proper relation to the lower
animals? May we use them? If so, abuse and cruelty will inevitably
occur. May we not use them? Then our civilisation and daily life
must be revolutionised to a degree not suggested or easy to
conceive.—_Fortnightly Review._


[26] _The Empire of the Hittites._ By WILLIAM WRIGHT, B.A., D.D. James
Nisbet and Co.

[27] A distinguished French _savant_, writing in the _Revue
Philosophique_ for December 1884 has described some ingenious
experiments for detecting the indications of telepathic influence—of
the transference of thought from mind to mind which may be afforded by
the movements communicated to a table by the unconscious pressure of
the sitters. Dr. Richet’s investigations, though apparently suggested,
in part at least, by those of the Society for Psychical Research, have
followed a quite original line, with results of much interest.

[28] In a paper on “The Stages of Hypnotism” in _Mind_ for October
1884, Mr. E. Gurney, describes an experiment where this persistent
influence of an impressed idea could in a certain sense, be detected
in the muscular system. “A boy’s arm being flexed” (and the boy having
been told that he _cannot_ extend it), “he is offered a sovereign to
extend it. He struggles till he is red in the face; but all the while
his triceps is remaining quite flaccid, or if some rigidity appears
in it, the effect is at once counteracted by an equal rigidity in the
biceps. The idea of the impossibility of extension—_i.e._, the idea of
continued flexion—is thus acting itself out, even when wholly rejected
from the mind.”

[29] M. Taine, in the preface to the later editions of his “De
l’Intelligence,” narrates a case of this kind, and adds, “Certainement
on constate ici un dédoublement du moi; la présence simultanée de deux
séries d’idées parallèles et indépendantes, de deux centres d’action,
ou si l’on veut, de deux personnes morales juxtaposées dans le même

[30] It is obvious that in an argument which has to thread its way amid
so much of controversy and complexity, no terminology whatever can be
safe from objection. In using the word _self_ I do not mean to imply
any theory as to the metaphysical nature of the self or ego.

[31] It is worth noticing in this connection that in one case of
Brown-Séquard’s an aphasic patient _talked in his sleep_.

[32] “Mirror-writing” is not very rare with left-handed children and
imbeciles, and has been observed, in association with aphasia, as a
result of hemiplegia of the right side. If (as Dr. Ireland supposes,
“Brain,” vol. iv. p. 367) this “Spiegel-schrift” is the expression of
an _inverse verbal image_ formed in the _right hemisphere_; we shall
have another indication that the _right hemisphere_ is concerned in
some forms of _automatic_ writing also.

[33] Records of carefully conducted experiments in automatic writing
are earnestly requested, and may be addressed to the Secretary, Society
for Psychical Research, 14 Dean’s Yard, Westminster.



I have from time to time recorded such examples of language as struck
me for inaccuracy or any other peculiarity; but lately the pressure
of other engagements has prevented me from continuing my collection,
and has compelled me to renounce the design once entertained of using
them for the foundation of a systematic essay. The present article
contains a small selection from my store, and may be of interest to all
who value accuracy and clearness. It is only necessary to say that the
examples are not fabricated: all are taken from writers of good repute,
and notes of the original places have been preserved, though it has not
been thought necessary to encumber these pages with references. The
italics have been supplied in those cases where they are used.

One of the most obvious peculiarities at present to be noticed is
the use of the word _if_ when there is nothing really conditional in
the sentence. Thus we read: “If the Prussian plan of operations was
faulty the movements of the Crown Prince’s army were in a high degree
excellent.” The writer does not really mean what his words seem to
imply, that the excellence was contingent on the fault: he simply means
to make two independent statements. As another example we have: “Yet
he never founded a family; if his two daughters carried his name and
blood into the families of the _Herreras_ and the Zuñigos, his two sons
died before him.” Here again the two events which are connected by the
conditional _if_ are really quite independent. Other examples follow:
“If it be true that Paris is an American’s paradise, symptoms are not
wanting that there are Parisians who cast a longing look towards the
institutions of the United States.” “If M. Stanilas Julien has taken
up his position in the Celestial Empire, M. Léon de Rosny seems to
have selected the neighboring country of Japan for his own special
province.” “But those who are much engaged in public affairs cannot
always be honest, and if this is not an excuse, it is at least a fact.”
“But if a Cambridge man was to be appointed, Mr.—— is a ripe scholar
and a good parish priest, and I rejoice that a place very dear to me
should have fallen into such good hands.”

Other examples, differing in some respects from those already given,
concur in exhibiting a strange use of the word _if_. Thus we read: “If
the late rumors of dissension in the Cabinet had been well founded,
the retirement of half his colleagues would not have weakened Mr.
Gladstone’s hold on the House of Commons.” The conditional proposition
intended is probably this: if half his colleagues were to retire, Mr.
Gladstone’s hold on the House of Commons would not be weakened. “If
a big book is a big evil, the _Bijou Gazetteer of the World_ ought
to stand at the summit of excellence. It is the tiniest geographical
directory we have ever seen.” This is quite illogical: if a big book
is a big evil, it does not follow that a little book is a great good.
“If in the main I have adhered to the English version, it has been
from the conviction that our translators were in the right.” It is
rather difficult to see what is the precise opinion here expressed
as to our translators; whether an absolute or contingent approval is
intended. “If you think it worth your while to inspect the school from
the outside, that is for yourself to decide upon.” The decision is not
contingent on the thinking it worth while: they are identical. For the
last example we take this: “...but if it does not retard his return
to office it can hardly accelerate it.” The meaning is, “This speech
cannot accelerate and may retard Mr. Disraeli’s return to office.” The
triple occurrence of _it_ is very awkward.

An error not uncommon in the present day is the blending of two
different constructions in one sentence. The grammars of our childhood
used to condemn such a sentence as this: “He was more beloved but not
so much admired as Cynthio.” The former part of the sentence requires
to be followed by _than_, and not by _as_. The following are recent
examples:—“The little farmer [in France] has no greater enjoyments, if
so many, as the English laborer.” “I find public-school boys generally
more fluent, and as superficial as boys educated elsewhere.” “Mallet,
for instance, records his delight and wonder at the Alps and the
descent into Italy in terms quite as warm, if much less profuse, as
those of the most impressible modern tourist.” An awkward construction,
almost as bad as a fault, is seen in the following sentence:—“Messrs.——
having secured the co-operation of some of the most eminent professors
of, and writers on, the various branches of science....”

A very favorite practice is that of changing a word where there is
no corresponding change of meaning. Take the following example from
a voluminous historian:—“Huge pinnacles of bare rock shoot up into
the azure firmament, and forests overspread their sides, in which the
scarlet rhododendrons sixty feet in _height_ are surmounted by trees
two hundred feet in _elevation_.” In a passage of this kind it may be
of little consequence whether a word is retained or changed; but for
any purpose where precision is valuable it is nearly as bad to use
two words in one sense as one word in two senses. Let us take some
other examples. We read in the usual channels of information that
“Mr. Gladstone has issued invitations for a full-dress Parliamentary
_dinner_, and Lord Granville has issued invitations for a full-dress
Parliamentary _banquet_.” Again we read: “The Government proposes
to divide the occupiers of land into four categories;” and almost
immediately after we have “the second class comprehends...”: so that
we see the grand word _category_ merely stands for _class_. Again:
“This morning the _Czar_ drove alone through the Thiergarten, and on
his return received Field-Marshals Wrangel and Moltke, as well as many
other general officers, and then gave audience to numerous visitors.
Towards noon the _Emperor Alexander_, accompanied by the Russian Grand
Dukes, paid a visit....” “Mr. Ayrton, according to _Nature_, has
accepted Dr. Hooker’s explanation of the letter to Mr. Gladstone’s
secretary, at which the First Commissioner of Works took umbrage,
so that the dispute is at an end.” I may remark that Mr. Ayrton is
identical with the First Commissioner of Works. A writer recently in a
sketch of travels spoke of a “Turkish gentleman with his _innumerable_
wives,” and soon after said that she “never saw him address any of
his _multifarious_ wives.” One of the illustrated periodicals gave a
picture of an event in recent French history, entitled, “The National
Guards Firing on the People.” Here the change from _national_ to
_people_ slightly conceals the strange contradiction of guardians
firing on those whom they ought to guard.

Let us now take one example in which a word is repeated, but in a
rather different sense: “The Grand Duke of Baden sat _next_ to the
Emperor William, the Imperial Crown Prince of Germany _next_ to the
Grand Duke. _Next_ came the other princely personages.” The word _next_
is used in the last instance in not quite the same sense as in the
former two instances; for all the princely personages could not sit in
contact with the Crown Prince.

A class of examples may be found in which there is an obvious
incongruity between two of the words which occur. Thus, “We are more
than doubtful;” that is, we are _more than full_ of doubts: this is
obviously impossible. Then we read of “a man of more than doubtful
sanity.” Again we read of “a more than questionable statement”: this
is I suppose a very harsh elliptical construction for such a sentence
as “a statement to which we might apply an epithet more condemnatory
than _questionable_.” So also we read “a more unobjectionable
character.” Again: “Let the Second Chamber be composed of elected
members, and their utility will be _more than halved_.” To take the
_half_ of anything is to perform a definite operation, which is not
susceptible of more or less. Again: “The singular and almost _excessive
impartiality_ and power of appreciation.” It is impossible to conceive
of excessive impartiality. Other recent examples of these impossible
combinations are, “more faultless,” “less indisputable.” “The high
antiquity of the narrative cannot reasonably be doubted, and almost
as little its _ultimate_ Apostolic _origin_.” The ultimate origin,
that is the _last beginning_, of anything seems a contradiction. The
common phrase _bad health_ seems of the same character; it is almost
equivalent to _unsound soundness_ or to _unprosperous prosperity_. In
a passage already quoted, we read that the Czar “gave _audience_ to
numerous _visitors_,” and in a similar manner a very distinguished
lecturer speaks of making experiments “_visible_ to a large
_audience_.” It would seem from the last instance that our language
wants a word to denote a mass of people collected not so much to hear
an address as to see what are called experiments. Perhaps if our
savage forefathers had enjoyed the advantages of courses of scientific
lectures, the vocabulary would be supplied with the missing word.

_Talented_ is a vile barbarism which Coleridge indignantly denounced:
there is no verb _to talent_ from which such a participle could be
deduced. Perhaps this imaginary word is not common at the present;
though I am sorry to see from my notes that it still finds favor
with classical scholars. It was used some time since by a well-known
professor, just as he was about to emigrate to America; so it may have
been merely evidence that he was rendering himself familiar with the
language of his adopted country.

_Ignore_ is a very popular and a very bad word. As there is no good
authority for it, the meaning is naturally uncertain. It seems to
fluctuate between _wilfully concealing_ something and _unintentionally
omitting_ something, and this vagueness renders it a convenient tool
for an unscrupulous orator or writer.

The word _lengthened_ is often used instead of _long_. Thus we read
that such and such an orator made a _lengthened_ speech, when the
intended meaning is that he made a _long_ speech. The word _lengthened_
has its appropriate meaning. Thus, after a ship has been built by
the Admiralty, it is sometimes cut into two and a piece inserted:
this operation, very reprehensible doubtless on financial grounds,
is correctly described as _lengthening_ the ship. It will be obvious
on consideration that _lengthened_ is not synonymous with _long_.
_Protracted_ and _prolonged_ are also often used instead of _long_;
though perhaps with less decided impropriety than _lengthened_.

A very common phrase with controversial writers is, “we _shrewdly_
suspect.” This is equivalent to, “we acutely suspect.” The cleverness
of the suspicion should, however, be attributed to the writers by other
people, and not by themselves.

The simple word _but_ is often used when it is difficult to see any
shade of opposition or contrast such as we naturally expect. Thus we
read: “There were several candidates, _but_ the choice fell upon—— of
Trinity College.” Another account of the same transaction was expressed
thus: “It was understood that there were several candidates; the
election fell, _however_, upon—— of Trinity College.”

The word _mistaken_ is curious as being constantly used in a sense
directly contrary to that which, according to its formation, it ought
to have. Thus: “He is often mistaken, but never trivial and insipid.”
“He is often mistaken” ought to mean that other people often mistake
him; just as “he is often misunderstood” means that people often
misunderstand him. But the writer of the above sentence intends to say
that “He often makes mistakes.” It would be well if we could get rid of
this anomalous use of the word _mistaken_. I suppose that _wrong_ or
_erroneous_ would always suffice. But I must admit that good writers
do employ _mistaken_ in the sense which seems contrary to analogy;
for example, Dugald Stewart does so, and also a distinguished leading
philosopher whose style shows decided traces of Dugald Stewart’s

I shall be thought hypercritical perhaps if I object to the use of
_sanction_ as a verb; but it seems to be a comparatively modern
innovation. I must, however, admit that it is used by the two
distinguished writers to whom I alluded with respect to the word
_mistaken_. Recently some religious services in London were asserted
by the promoters to be _under the sanction_ of three bishops; almost
immediately afterwards letters appeared from the three bishops in which
they qualified the amount of their approbation: rather curiously all
three used _sanction_ as a verb. The theology of the bishops might
be the sounder, but as to accuracy of language I think the inferior
clergy had the advantage. By an obvious association I may say that if
any words of mine could reach episcopal ears, I should like to ask why
a first charge is called a _primary_ charge, for it does not appear
that this mode of expression is continued. We have, I think, second,
third, and so on, instead of _secondary_, _tertiary_, and so on, to
distinguish the subsequent charges.

Very eminent authors will probably always claim liberty and indulge in
peculiarities; and it would be ungrateful to be censorious on those
who have permanently enriched our literature. We must, then, allow an
eminent historian to use the word _cult_ for worship or superstition;
so that he tells us of an _indecent cult_ when he means an _unseemly
false religion_. So, too, we must allow another eminent historian to
introduce a foreign idiom, and speak of a _man of pronounced opinions_.

One or two of our popular writers on scientific subjects are fond
of frequently introducing the word _bizarre_; surely some English
equivalent might be substituted with advantage. The author of an
anonymous academical paper a few years since was discovered by a slight
peculiarity—namely, the use of the word _ones_, if there be such a
word: this occurred in certain productions to which the author had
affixed his name, and so the same phenomenon in the unacknowledged
paper betrayed the origin which had been concealed.

A curious want of critical tact was displayed some years since by
a reviewer of great influence. Macaulay, in his Life of Atterbury,
speaking of Atterbury’s daughter, says that her great wish was to see
her _papa_ before she died. The reviewer condemned the use of what
he called the _mawkish word papa_. Macaulay, of course, was right;
he used the daughter’s own word, and any person who consults the
original account will see that accuracy would have been sacrificed
by substituting _father_. Surely the reviewer ought to have had
sufficient respect for Macaulay’s reading and memory to hesitate before
pronouncing an off-hand censure.

Cobbett justly blamed the practice of putting “&c.” to save the trouble
of completing a sentence properly. In mathematical writings this symbol
may be tolerated because it generally involves no ambiguity, but is
used merely as an abbreviation the meaning of which is obvious from
the context. But in other works there is frequently no clue to guide
us in affixing a meaning to the symbol, and we can only interpret its
presence as a sign that something has been omitted. The following is an
example: “It describes a portion of Hellenic philosophy: it dwells upon
eminent individuals, inquiring, theorising, reasoning, confuting, &c.,
as contrasted with those collective political and social manifestations
which form the matter of history....”

The examples of confusion of metaphor ascribed to the late Lord
Castlereagh are so absurd that it might have been thought impossible
to rival them. Nevertheless the following, though in somewhat quieter
style, seems to me to approach very nearly to the best of those that
were spoken by Castlereagh or forged for him by Mackintosh. A recent
Cabinet Minister described the error of an Indian official in these
words: “He remained too long under the influence of the views which
he had imbibed from the Board.” To imbibe a view seems strange, but
to imbibe anything from a Board must be very difficult. I may observe
that the phrase of Castlereagh’s which is now best known, seems to
suffer from misquotation: we usually have, “an ignorant impatience of
taxation”; but the original form appears to have been, “an ignorant
impatience of the relaxation of taxation.”

The following sentence is from a voluminous historian: “The _decline_
of the material comforts of the working classes, from the effects of
the Revolution, had been incessant, and had now reached an alarming
_height_.” It is possible to ascend to an alarming height, but it is
surely difficult to decline to an alarming height.

“Nothing could be more one-sided than the point of view adopted by the
speakers.” It is very strange to speak of a point as having a side; and
then how can _one-sided_ admit of comparison? A thing either has one
side or it has not: there cannot be degrees in one-sidedness. However,
even mathematicians do not always manage the word _point_ correctly.
In a modern valuable work we read of “a more extended point of view,”
though we know that a point does not admit of extension. This curious
phrase is also to be found in two eminent French writers, Bailly and
D’Alembert. I suppose that what is meant is, a point which commands a
more extended view. “Froschammer wishes to approach the subject from
a philosophical standpoint.” It is impossible to _stand_ and yet to
_approach_. Either he should _survey_ the subject from a _stand_-point,
or _approach_ it from a _starting_-point.

“The most scientific of our Continental theologians have returned
back again to the relations and ramifications of the old paths.” Here
_paths_ and _ramifications_ do not correspond; nor is it obvious what
the _relations_ of _paths_ are. Then _returned back again_ seems to
involve superfluity; either _returned_ or _turned back again_ would
have been better.

A large school had lately fallen into difficulties owing to internal
dissensions; in the report of a council on the subject it was stated
that measures had been taken to _introduce more harmony and good
feelings_. The word _introduce_ suggests the idea that harmony and
good feeling could be laid on like water or gas by proper mechanical
adjustment, or could be supplied like first-class furniture by a London

An orator speaking of the uselessness of a dean said that “he wastes
his sweetness on the desert air, and stands like an engine upon a
siding.” This is a strange combination of metaphors.

The following example is curious as showing how an awkward metaphor has
been carried out: “In the _face_ of such assertions what is the puzzled
_spectator_ to do.” The contrary proceeding is much more common, namely
to drop a metaphor prematurely or to change it. For instance: “Physics
and metaphysics, physiology and psychology, thus become united, and
the study of man passes from the uncertain light of mere opinion to
the region of science.” Here _region_ corresponds very badly with
_uncertain light_.

Metaphors and similes require to be employed with great care, at least
by those who value taste and accuracy. I hope I may be allowed to give
one example of a more serious kind than those hitherto supplied. The
words _like lost sheep_ which occur at the commencement of our Liturgy
always seem to me singularly objectionable, and for two reasons. In
the first place, illustrations being intended to unfold our meaning
are appropriate in explanation and instruction, but not in religious
confession. And in the second place the illustration as used by
ourselves is not accurate; for the condition of a _lost sheep_ does not
necessarily suggest that conscious lapse from rectitude which is the
essence of human transgression.

A passage has been quoted with approbation by more than one critic from
the late Professor Conington’s translation of Horace, in which the
following line occurs:—

    “After life’s endless babble they sleep well.”

Now the word _endless_ here is extremely awkward; for if the babble
never ends, how can anything come after it?

To digress for a moment, I may observe that this line gives a good
illustration of the process by which what is called Latin verse is
often constructed. Every person sees that the line is formed out of
Shakespeare’s “after life’s fitful fever he sleeps well.” The ingenuity
of the transference may be admired, but it seems to me that it is easy
to give more than a due amount of admiration; and, as the instance
shows, the adaptation may issue in something bordering on the absurd.
As an example in Latin versification, take the following. Every one who
has not quite forgotten his schoolboy days remembers the line in Virgil
ending with _non imitabile fulmen_. A good scholar, prematurely lost to
his college and university, having for an exercise to translate into
Latin the passage in Milton relating to the moon’s _peerless light_
finished a line with _non imitabile lumen_. One can hardly wonder at
the tendency to overvalue such felicitous appropriation.

The language of the shop and the market must not be expected to be very
exact: we may be content to be amused by some of its peculiarities.
I cannot say that I have seen the statement which is said to have
appeared in the following form: “Dead pigs are looking up.” We find
very frequently advertised, “_Digestive_ biscuits”—perhaps _digestible_
biscuits are meant. In a catalogue of books an _Encyclopædia of
Mental Science_ is advertised; and after the names of the authors we
read, “invaluable, 5_s._ 6_d._”: this is a curious explanation of

The title of a book recently advertised is, _Thoughts for those who
are Thoughtful_. It might seem superfluous, not to say impossible, to
supply thoughts to those who are already full of thought.

The word _limited_ is at present very popular in the domain of
commerce. Thus we read, “Although the space given to us was limited.”
This we can readily suppose; for in a finite building there cannot be
unlimited space. Booksellers can perhaps say, without impropriety,
that a “limited number will be printed,” as this may only imply that
the type will be broken up; but they sometimes tell us that “a limited
number _was_ printed,” and this is an obvious truism.

Some pills used to be advertised for the use of the “possessor of pains
in the back,” the advertisement being accompanied with a large picture
representing the unhappy capitalist tormented by his property.

Pronouns, which are troublesome to all writers of English, are
especially embarrassing to the authors of prospectuses and
advertisements. A wine company return thanks to their friends,
“and, at the same time, _they_ would assure _them_ that it is
_their_ constant study not only to find improvements for _their_
convenience....” Observe how the pronouns oscillate in their
application between the company and their friends.

In selecting titles of books there is room for improvement. Thus, a
_Quarterly Journal_ is not uncommon; the words strictly are suggestive
of a _Quarterly Daily_ publication. I remember, some years since,
observing a notice that a certain obscure society proposed to celebrate
its _triennial anniversary_.

In one of the theological newspapers a clergyman seeking a curacy
states as an exposition of his theological position, “Views
Prayer-book.” I should hope that this would not be a specimen of
the ordinary literary style of the applicant. The advertisements in
the same periodical exhibit occasionally a very unpleasant blending
of religious and secular elements. Take two examples—“Needle-woman
wanted. She must be a communicant, have a long character, and be a good
dressmaker and milliner.” “Pretty furnished cottage to let, with good
garden, etc. Rent moderate. Church work valued. Weekly celebrations.
Near rail. Good fishing.”

A few words may be given to same popular misquotations. “The last
infirmity of noble minds” is perpetually occurring. Milton wrote
_mind_ not _minds_. It may be said that he means _minds_; but the only
evidence seems to be that it is difficult to affix any other sense to
_mind_ than making it equivalent to _minds_: this scarcely convinces
me, though I admit the difficulty.

“He that runs may read” is often supposed to be a quotation from the
Bible: the words really are “he may run that readeth,” and it is not
certain that the sense conveyed by the popular misquotation is correct.

A proverb which correctly runs thus: “The road to hell is paved with
good intentions,” is often quoted in the far less expressive form,
“Hell is paved with good intentions.”

“Knowledge is power” is frequently attributed to Bacon, in spite of
Lord Lytton’s challenge that the words cannot be found in Bacon’s

“The style is the man” is frequently attributed to Buffon, although it
has been pointed out that Buffon said something very different; namely,
that “the style is of the man,” that is, “the style proceeds from the
man.” It is some satisfaction to find that Frenchmen themselves do not
leave us the monopoly of this error; it will be found in Arago; see
his _Works_, vol. iii. p. 560. A common proverb frequently quoted is,
“The exception proves the rule;” and it seems universally assumed that
_proves_ here means _establishes_ or _demonstrates_. It is perhaps
more likely that _proves_ here means _tests_ or _tries_, as in the
injunction, “Prove all things.” [The proverb in full runs: _Exceptio
probat regulam in casibus non exceptis_.]

The words _nihil tetigit quod non ornavit_ are perpetually offered as
a supposed quotation from Dr. Johnson’s epitaph on Goldsmith. Johnson

    “Qui nullum fere scribendi genus
              Non tetigit,
    Nullum quod tetigit non ornavit.”

It has been said that there is a doubt as to the propriety of the word
_tetigit_, and that _contigit_ would have been better.

It seems impossible to prevent writers from using _cui bono?_ in the
unclassical sense. The correct meaning is known to be of this nature:
suppose that a crime has been committed; then inquire who has gained
by the crime—_cui bono?_ for obviously there is a probability that
the person benefited was the criminal. The usual sense implied by the
quotation is this: What is the good? the question being applied to
whatever is for the moment the object of depreciation. Those who use
the words incorrectly may, however, shelter themselves under the great
name of Leibnitz, for he takes them in the popular sense: see his
works, vol. v., p. 206.

A very favorite quotation consists of the words “_laudator temporis
acti_;” but it should be remembered that it seems very doubtful if
these words by themselves would form correct Latin; the _se puero_
which Horace puts after them are required.

There is a story, resting on no good authority, that Plato testified to
the importance of geometry by writing over his door, “Let no one enter
who is not a geometer.” The first word is often given incorrectly,
when the Greek words are quoted, the wrong form of the negative being
taken. I was surprised to see this blunder about two years since in a
weekly review of very high pretensions.

It is very difficult in many cases to understand precisely what is
attributed to another writer when his opinions are cited in some
indirect way. For example, a newspaper critic finishes a paragraph in
these words: “unless, indeed, as the _Pall Mall Gazette_ has said that
it is immoral to attempt any cure at all.” The doubt here is as to what
is the statement of the _Pall Mall Gazette_. It seems to be this: _it
is immoral to attempt any cure at all_. But from other considerations
foreign to the precise language of the critic, it seemed probable that
the statement of the _Pall Mall Gazette_ was, _unless, indeed, it is
immoral to attempt any cure at all_.

There is a certain vague formula which, though not intended for a
quotation, occurs so frequently as to demand notice. Take for example—
“... the sciences of logic and ethics, according to the partition of
Lord Bacon, are far _more extensive than we are accustomed to consider
them_.” No precise meaning is conveyed, because we do not know what is
the amount of extension we are accustomed to ascribe to the sciences
named. Again: “Our knowledge of Bacon’s method is much less complete
than it is _commonly supposed_ to be.” Here again we do not know what
is the standard of common supposition. There is another awkwardness
here in the words _less complete_: it is obvious that _complete_ does
not admit of degrees.

Let us close these slight notes with very few specimens of happy

The _Times_, commenting on the slovenly composition of the Queen’s
Speeches to Parliament, proposed the cause of the fact as a fit
subject for the investigation of our _professional thinkers_. The
phrase suggests a delicate reproof to those who assume for themselves
the title of _thinker_, implying that any person may engage in this
occupation just as he might, if he pleased, become a dentist, or a
stock-broker, or a civil engineer. The word _thinker_ is very common as
a name of respect in the works of a modern distinguished philosopher.
I am afraid, however, that it is employed by him principally as
synonymous with a _Comtist_.

The _Times_, in advocating the claims of a literary man for a pension,
said, “he has _constructed_ several useful school-books.” The word
_construct_ suggests with great neatness the nature of the process by
which school-books are sometimes evolved, implying the presence of the
bricklayer and mason rather than of the architect.

[Dr. Todhunter might have added _feature_ to the list of words
abusively used by newspaper writers. In one number of a magazine two
examples occur: “A _feature_ which had been well _taken up_ by local
and other manufacturers was the exhibition of honey in various applied
forms.” “A new _feature_ in the social arrangements of the Central
Radical Club _took place_ the other evening.”]—_Macmillan’s Magazine._


 late Scholar of Balliol College, Oxford, Lecturer on Modern History,
 King’s College, London; and F. S. Pulling, M. A., late Professor
 of Modern History, Yorkshire College, Leeds. New York: _Cassell &
 Company, Limited_.

The first thought that suggests itself upon taking up Messrs. Cassell
& Company’s “Dictionary of English History” is “why was this important
work not done long ago?” The want of such a book of reference is not
a new one but has been long felt by students and amateurs of history.
Indeed there is hardly a man or woman who has not at some time or other
felt the need of furbishing up his or her historical knowledge at short
notice. One may hunt the pages of a history by the hour and not find
the date or incident he wants to know about. The editors of this stout
volume, Sidney J. Low, B.A. and F. S. Pulling, M.A., have made the
successful attempt to give a convenient handbook on the whole subject
of English history and to make it useful rather than exhaustive. The
present work is not an encyclopædia, and the editors are aware that
many things are omitted from it which might have been included, had
its limits been wider, and its aim more ambitious. To produce a book
which should give, as concisely as possible, just the information,
biographical, bibliographical, chronological, and constitutional,
that the reader of English history is likely to want is what has
been here attempted. The needs of modern readers have been kept in
view. Practical convenience has guided them in the somewhat arbitrary
selection that they have been compelled to make, and their plan had
been chosen with great care and after many experiments. It should be
said that though the book is called a Dictionary of English History
that the historical events of Scotland, Ireland and Wales are included.
The contributors for special articles, have been selected from among
the best-known historical writers in England, and no pains have been
spared to make this book complete in the field it has aimed to cover.

That high authority, the London _Athenæum_, has the following words of
praise for this work:—

“This book will really be a great boon to every one who makes a study
of English history. Many such students must have desired before now to
be able to refer to an alphabetical list of subjects, even with the
briefest possible explanations. But in this admirable dictionary the
want is more than supplied. For not only is the list of subjects in
itself wonderfully complete, but the account given of each subject,
though condensed, is wonderfully complete also. The book is printed in
double columns royal octavo, and consists of 1119 pages, including a
very useful index to subjects on which separate articles are not given.
As some indication of the scale of treatment we may mention that the
article on Lord Beaconsfield occupies nearly a whole page, that on
Bothwell (Mary’s Bothwell) exactly a column, the old kingdom of Deira
something more than a column, Henry VIII. three pages, Ireland seven
and a half pages, and the Norman Conquest three pages exactly. Under
the head of ‘King,’ which occupies in all rather more than seven pages,
are included, in small print, tables of the regnal years of all the
English sovereigns from the Conquest. There is also a very important
article, ‘Authorities on English History,’ by Mr. Bass Bullinger, which
covers six and a quarter pages, and which will be an extremely useful
guide to any one beginning an historical investigation.

“Many of the longer articles contain all that could be wished to give
the reader a concise view of an important epoch or reign. Of this Mrs.
Gardiner’s article on Charles I. is a good example. Ireland is in like
manner succinctly treated by Mr. Woulfe Flanagan in seven and a half
pages, and India by Mr. C. E. Black in six, while the Indian Mutiny
of 1857-8 has an article to itself of a page and a half by Mr. Low.
Institutions also, like Convocation, customs like borough English,
orders of men such as friars, and officers like that of constable, have
each a separate heading; and the name of the contributors—including,
besides those already mentioned, such men as Mr. Creighton, Profs.
Earle, Thorold Rogers, and Rowley, and some others whose qualifications
are beyond question—afford the student a guarantee that he is under
sure guidance as to facts.”

 HAZLITT, LEIGH HUNT, PROCTER. Edited by Edward T. Mason. New York:
 _Charles Scribner’s Sons_.



Mr. Mason, the compiler of these volumes, has a keen sense of that
taste which exists in all people (and certainly it is a kind of
curiosity not without its redeeming side) which prompts a hearty
appetite for personal gossip about appearance, habits, social traits,
methods of work and thought concerning distinguished men. Yet there is
another side to the question, however interesting such information may
be. This is specially in gossip about authors. The literary worker puts
the best part of himself in his writings. Here all the noble impulses
of his nature find an outlet, and in many cases he thinks it sufficient
to give this field for his higher traits, and puts his lower ones alone
into action. No man is a hero to his valet. A too near acquaintance,
and that is just what the editor of these volumes seeks to give us, is
always disillusioning. The conception which the author gives of himself
in his books is often sadly sullied and belittled, when we come to
know the solid body within the photosphere of glory, which his genius
radiates. Yet it is as well that we should know the real man as well as
what is commonly known as the ideal man. It enables us to guard against
those specious enthusiasms, which may be dangerously aroused by the
brilliant sophistries of poetry or rhetoric. Knowing the actual lives
and habits of great men is like an Ithuriel spear, often, when we study
teachings by its test. But putting aside the desirability of knowing
intimately the lives of great authors on the score of literature or
morals, it cannot be denied that such information is of a fascinating
sort. Mr. Mason has gathered these personal descriptions and criticisms
from all sorts of sources. Literary contemporaries, accounts of
friends and enemies, the confessions of authors themselves, family
records, biographies, magazine articles, books of reminiscence—in a
word every kind of material has been freely used. Authors are shown
in a kaleidoscopic light from a great variety of stand-points, and we
have the slurs and sneers of enemies as well as the loving admiration
of friends. Descriptions are pointed with racy and pungent anecdotes,
and it is but just to say that we have not found a dull line in these
volumes. Mr. Mason has performed his work with excellent editorial
taste. There is a brief and well-written notice appended to the chapter
on each author, and a literary chronology, the latter of which will be
found very useful for handy reference. These racy volumes ought to find
a wide public, and we think, aside from their charm for the general
reader, the literary man will find here a well-filled treasury of
convenient anecdote and illustration, which, in many cases, will save
him the toil of weary search. In these days of many books, such works
have a special use which should not be ignored.

 EMMANUEL IN 1878. By John Webb Probyn. New York: _Cassell & Company,

“Italy from the Fall of Napoleon I., in 1815, to the Death of Victor
Emanuel, in 1878,” by John Webb Probyn, is just ready from the press of
Cassell & Company. In noticing this important work we can do no better
than to quote from the author’s preface. “The purpose of this volume,”
writes Mr. Probyn, “is to give a concise account of the chief causes
and events which have transformed Italy from a divided into a united
country. A detailed history of this important epoch would fill volumes,
and will not be written for some time to come. Yet it is desirable that
all who are interested in the important events of our time should be
able to obtain some connected account of so striking a transformation
as that which was effected in Italy between the years 1815 and 1878.
It has been with the object of giving such an account that this volume
has been written.” Mr. Probyn lived in Italy among the Italians while
this struggle was going on, and he writes from a close knowledge of his

 Boston: _Roberts Brothers_.

The distinguished woman who forms the subject of this biography is
less known and read in America than she should be, and it is to be
hoped that this concise, lucid and well-written account of her life
and work will awaken interest in one whose literary labors will merit
perusal and study. Miss Martineau was one of the precursors of that
movement for the larger life and mental liberty of her sex, which
to-day has assumed formidable proportions, and indulged, we need
hardly say, many strange vagaries. Miss Martineau began to write at
an early age and soon began to impress herself on the public mind,
though it was for a long time suspected that she was a man. The whole
tone of her mind and intellectual sympathies was eminently masculine,
though on the emotional and moral side of her nature she was intensely
feminine. An early love disappointment, as has been the case with not
a few literary women, shut her out from that circle of wifehood and
motherhood in which she would have been far more happy than she was
ordained to be by fate. Yet the world would have been a loser, so true
is it that it is often by virtue of those conditions which sacrifice
happiness that the most precious fruits of life are bestowed on the
world. It would be interesting to follow the literary career of Miss
Martineau, if space permitted, as her life was not only rich in its own
results but interwoven with the most aggressive, keen and significant
literary life of her age. To the world at large Miss Martineau, who
had a philosophical mind of the highest order, is best known as the
translator of Comte, of whose system she was an enthusiastic advocate.
Her translation of Comte’s ponderous “Positive Philosophy,” published
in French in six volumes, which she condensed into three volumes of
lucid and forcible English, is not merely a masterpiece of translation,
but a monument of acumen. So well was her work done, that Comte himself
adapted it for his students’ use, discarding his own edition. So it
came to pass that Comte’s own work fell out of use, and that his
complete teachings became accessible only to his countrymen through a
retranslation of Miss Martineau’s original translation and adaptation.
Remarkable as were her philosophical powers, her work in the domain
of imagination, though always hinging on a serious purpose, was of a
superior sort. A keen and successful student of political economy,
she wrote a series of remarkable tales, based on various perplexing
problems in this line of thought and research. In addition to these,
her pathetic and humorous tales are full of charm, and distinguished
by a style equally charming and forcible. She might have been a great
novelist had not her fondness for philosophical studies become the
passion of her life. She was an indefatigable contributor to newspapers
and magazines on a great variety of subjects, though she generally
wrote anonymously. It was for this reason that her literary labors,
which were arduous in the extreme, were comparatively ill-paid, and
that life, even in her old age, was no easy struggle for her. The
work, among her voluminous writings, on which her fame will probably
rest as on a corner-stone, is “A History of the Thirty Years Peace.”
This is a history of her own time, pungent, full of powerful color,
though often sombre, impartial yet searching, characterized by the
sternest love of truth, and couched in a literary style of great
force and clearness. She showed the rare power of discussing events
which were almost contemporary, as calmly as if she were surveying
a remote period of antiquity. The _Athenæum_ said of this book on
its publication: “The principles which she enunciates are based on
eternal truths, and evolved with a logical precision that admits
rhetorical ornament without becoming obscure or confused.” Another
remarkable work was “Eastern Life,” the fruit of research in the
East. In this she made a bold and masterly attack on the dogmatic
beliefs of Christianity. The end and object of her reasoning in this
work is: That men have ever constructed the Image of a Ruler of the
Universe out of their own minds; that all successive ideas about the
Supreme Being have originated from within and been modified by the
surrounding circumstances; and that all theologies, therefore, are
baseless productions of the human imagination and have no essential
connection with those great religious ideas and emotions by which men
are constrained to live nobly, to do justly, and to love what they see
to be the true and right. The publication of this book raised a storm
of opprobrium, for England was then far more illiberal than now. Yet
it is a singular fact that, in spite of her free-thinking, Harriet
Martineau had as her intimate friends and warm admirers some of the
most pious and sincere clergymen of the age. She died in 1876 at the
age of seventy-four, after a life of exemplary goodness and brilliant
intellectual activity, honored and loved by all who knew her, even by
those who dissented most widely from her beliefs. She was among those
who ploughed up the mental soil of her time most successfully, and
few, either men or women, have written with more force, sincerity and
suggestiveness on the great serious questions of life.

 WEIRD TALES BY E. T. W. HOFFMAN. New Translation from the German, with
 a Biographical Memoir, by J. T. Beally, B.A. In two volumes. New York:
 _Charles Scribner’s Sons_.

Hoffman, the German romancer, to most English readers who know of him,
is a _nomen et preteria nihil_, yet in his own land he is a classic.
His stories are mostly short tales or novelettes, for he appears to
have lacked the sustained vigor and concentration for the longer
novel, like our own Poe, to whom he has been sometimes likened in the
character of his genius. Yet how marvellously unlike Poe’s are the
stories in the volumes before us! The intense imaginativeness, logical
coherence and lofty style which mark Poe are absent in Hoffman. Yet, on
the other hand, the latter, who like his American analogue revels in
topics weird and fantastic, if not horrible, relieves the sombre color
of his pictures with flashes of homely tenderness and charming humor,
of which Poe is totally vacant.

Hoffman, who was well born, though not of noble family, received an
excellent education. He studied at Königsburg University, where he
matriculated as a student of jurisprudence, and seems to have made
enough proficiency in this branch of knowledge to have justified the
various civil appointments which he from time to time received during
his strange and stormy life, only to forfeit them by acts of mad folly
or neglect. He was by turns actor, musician, painter, litterateur,
civil magistrate and tramp. Gifted with brilliant and versatile
talents, there was probably never a man more totally unbalanced and
at the mercy of every wind of passion and caprice that blew. Had he
possessed a self-directing purpose, a steady ideal to which he devoted
himself, it is not improbable that his genius might have raised him
to a leading place in German literature. Yet perhaps his talents and
tastes were too versatile for any very great achievement, even under
more favorable conditions. As matters stand he is known to the world by
his short tales, in which he uses freely the machinery of fantasy and
horror, though he never revolts the taste, even in his wildest moods.
Yet some of his best stories are entirely free from this element of the
strained and unnatural, and show that it was through no lack of native
strength and robustness of mind, that he selected at other times the
most abnormal and perverse developments of action and character as the
warp of his literary textures. Hoffman’s stories are interesting from
their ingenuity, a certain naïve simplicity combined with an audacious
handling of impossible or improbable circumstances, and a charming
under-current of pathos and humor, which bubbles up through the crust
at the most unexpected turns. We should hardly regard these stories as
a model for the modern writer, yet there is a quality about them which
far more artistic stories might lack. It is singular to narrate that
some of his most agreeable and objective stories, where he completely
escapes from morbid imaginings, are those he wrote when dying by inches
in great agony, for he, too, like Heine—a much greater and subtler
genius—lay on a mattress grave, though for months and not for years.
The stories collected in the volumes under notice contain those which
are recognized by critics as his best, and will repay perusal as
being excellent representations of a school of fiction which is now
at its ebb-tide, though how soon it will come again to the fore it is
impossible to prophecy, as mode and vogue in literary taste go through
the same eternal cycle, as do almost all other mundane things.


PAUL IVANOVICH OGORODNIKOF, who died last month at the age of
fifty-eight, was destined for the army, but, being accused of
participation in political disturbances, was confined in the fortress
of Modlin. After his release he obtained employment in the Railway
Administration, whereby he was enabled to amass a sum sufficient
to cover the cost of a journey through Russia, Germany, France,
England, and North America, of which he published an account. He was
subsequently appointed correspondent of the Imperial Geographical
Society in North-East Persia, and on his return home he devoted his
exclusive attention to literature. His most interesting works,
perhaps, are “Travels in Persia and her Caspian Provinces,” 1868,
“Sketches in Persia,” 1868, and “The Land of the Sun,” 1881. But he
was the author of various other works and numerous contributions
to periodical literature, and in 1882 his “Diary of a Captive” was
published in the _Istorichesky Vyestnik_.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE opening of the new college at Poona, India, which took place
recently under the most favorable auspices, is noteworthy as marking
the first important attempt of educated natives in the Bombay
presidency to take the management of higher education into their
own hands. The college has been appropriately named after Sir James
Fergusson, who has always taken a great interest in the measures for
its establishment, and during whose tenure of office as Governor of
Bombay (now drawing to a close) such marked progress has been made in
education in that presidency.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE first part of the second series of the Palæographical Society’s
facsimiles, now ready for distribution to subscribers, contains
two plates of Greek _ostraka_ from Egypt, on which are written
tax-gatherers’ receipts for imposts levied under the Roman dominion,
A.D. 39-163; and specimens of the Curetonian palimpsest Homer of the
sixth century; the Bodleian Greek Psalter of about A.D. 950; the Greek
Gospels, Codex T, of the tenth century; and other Greek MSS. There
are also plates from the ancient Latin Psalter of the fifth century
and other early MSS. of Lord Ashburnham’s library; Pope Gregory’s
“Moralia,” in Merovingian writing of the seventh century; the Berne
Virgil, with Tironian glosses of the ninth century; the earliest Pipe
Roll, A.D. 1130; English charters of the twelfth century; and drawings
and illuminations in the Bodleian Cædmon, the Hyde Register, the
Ashburnham Life of Christ, and the Medici Horæ lately purchased by the
Italian Government.

       *       *       *       *       *

PRINCE B. GIUSTINIANI has placed in the hands of the Pope, in the name
of his friend Lord Ashburnham, a precious manuscript from the library
of Ashburnham House. It contains letters by Innocent III. written
during the years 1207 and 1209, and taken from the archives of the
Holy See when at Avignon at the beginning of the fifteenth century.
The letters are fully described in the _Bibliothèque de l’École des

       *       *       *       *       *

ONE of the late General Gordon’s minor contributions to literature is a
brief memoir of Zebehr Pasha, which he drew up for the information of
the Soudanese. General Gordon caused the memoir to be translated into
Arabic, and we believe that copies of it are still in existence. It was
written during the General’s first administration of the Soudan.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE memoirs of the late Rector of Lincoln will appear shortly, Mrs.
Mark Pattison having finished correcting the proofs. Much difficulty
has been experienced in verifying quotations, frequently made without
reference or clue to authorship. In one or two instances only the
attempt has been reluctantly abandoned in order not indefinitely to
delay publication. Mrs. Mark Pattison leaves England in February for
Madras, where she will spend next summer as the guest of the Governor
and Mrs. Grant Duff at Ootacamund. Her work on industry and the arts in
France under Colbert is now far advanced towards completion.

       *       *       *       *       *

A “NATIONAL” edition of Victor Hugo’s works is about to be brought
out in Paris by M. Lemonnyer as publisher, and M. Georges Richard as
printer. The plan of this new edition has been submitted by these
gentlemen to M. Victor Hugo, who has given them the exclusive right to
bring out, in quarto shape, the whole of his works. The publication
will consist of about forty volumes, which are each to contain five
parts, of from eighty to a hundred pages. One part will appear every
fortnight, or about five volumes a year, and the first part of the
first volume, which will contain the _Odes and Ballads_, is to appear
on February 26, which is the eighty-third anniversary of the poet’s
birth. The price will be 6 frs. per part, or 30 frs. per volume, so
that the total cost of the forty volumes will be close upon £50.
There will be also a few copies upon Japan and China paper of special
manufacture, while the series will be illustrated with four portraits
of the poet, 250 large etchings, and 2,500 line engravings. The 250
large etchings will be by such artists as Paul Baudry, Bonnat, Cabanel,
Carrier-Belleuse, Falguière, Léon, Glaize, Henner, J.-P. Laurens, Puvis
de Chavannes, Robert Fleury, etc., while the line engravings will be by
L. Flameng, Champollion, Maxime Lalanne, and others.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE festival at Capua in commemoration of the bi-centenary of the
birth of the distinguished antiquary and philologist, Alessio Simmaco
Mazzocchi, which should have been held last autumn, but was postponed
on account of the cholera, was celebrated on January 25. The meeting in
the Museo Campano was attended by a large number of visitors from the
neighboring towns and from Naples, and speeches were delivered by the
Prefect (Commendatore Winspeare), Prof. F. Barnabei, and several others.

       *       *       *       *       *

DR. MARTINEAU’S new book, “Types of Ethical Theory,” will be issued in
a week or two by the Clarendon Press. The author seeks the ultimate
basis of morals in the internal constitution of the human mind. He
first vindicates the psychological method, then develops it, and
finally guards it against partial applications, injurious to the
autonomy of the conscience. He is thus led to pass under review at
the outset some representative of each chief theory in which ethics
emerge from metaphysical or physical assumptions, and at the close the
several doctrines which psychologically deduce the moral sentiments
from self-love, the sense of congruity, the perception of beauty, or
other unmoral source. The part of the book intermediate between these
two bodies of critical exposition is constructive.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE Spelling Reform Association of England have adopted, as a means
of encouraging the progress of their cause, a new plan specially
calculated to secure the adhesion of printers and publishers. They
offer to supply experienced proof-readers free of cost, who are
prepared to assist in producing books and pamphlets “in any degree of
amended or fonetic spelling.”

       *       *       *       *       *

SOME interesting materials towards a memoir of the late Bishop Colenso
have been derived from an unexpected source. A gentleman in Cornwall
heard that a bookseller in Staffordshire had for sale a collection
of the bishop’s letters. This coming to the knowledge of Mr. F. E.
Colenso, the latter purchased them at once, and found that they
consisted of letters ranging from 1830 to the middle of the bishop’s
university career. The collection also includes two letters from the
bishop’s college tutor which show the high estimation in which the
young man was held by those who were brought into contact with him at

       *       *       *       *       *

IT is understood that the late Henry G. Bohn’s collection of Art books,
though comparatively few in number—said to be less than 800—forms a
perfectly unique library of reference, and in many languages. We hear
that it includes splendidly bound folio editions of engravings from
the great masters in almost every known European gallery. Mr. Bohn’s
general private library—a substantial but by no means extensive one
considering his colossal dealings with books—is not likely to be sold.
It may not be generally known that he lent nearly 1,400 volumes to the
Crystal Palace Exhibition some years ago, and lost them all in the fire

       *       *       *       *       *

MESSRS. TILLOTSON AND SON, of the _Bolton Journal_, who are the
originators of the practice of publishing novels by eminent writers
simultaneously in a number of newspapers in England, the United States,
and in the colonies, announce that they intend shortly to publish,
instead of a serial novel of the usual three-volume size, what they
call an “Octave of Short Stories.” The first of these tales, “A Rainy
June,” by “Ouida,” will appear on February 28th. The other seven
writers of the “Octave” are Mr. William Black, Miss Braddon, Miss Rhoda
Broughton, Mr. Wilkie Collins, Mr. Thomas Hardy, Mr. Joseph Hatton, and
Mrs. Oliphant.

       *       *       *       *       *

DR. C. CASATI, who has just published a work in two volumes entitled
_Nuovo rivelazioni sui fatti in Milano nel 1847-48_, is preparing for
the press an edition of the unpublished letters of Pietro Borsieri, the
prisoner of the Spielberg, together with letters addressed to him by
several of his friends, among whom were Arrivabene, Berchet, Arconati,
and Della Cisterna. The correspondence contains many particulars
relating to the sufferings of these patriots in the Austrian prisons,
and to the privations suffered by Borsieri and his companions in
America. Dr. Casati will contribute a biographical sketch of Borsieri
and notes in illustration of the letters.

       *       *       *       *       *

AT the meeting of the Florence Academia dei Lincei (department
of historical sciences) on January 18, it was announced that no
competitors having presented themselves for the prize offered by
the Minister of Public Instruction for an essay on the Latin poetry
published in Italy during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the
competition will remain open until April 30, 1888.

       *       *       *       *       *

EDWARD ODYNIEC, the Polish poet and journalist, and friend of
Mickiewicz, died in Warsaw on January 15. He was born in 1804, and
was educated at the University of Wilna, where he was a member of the
celebrated society of the Philareti. His period of poetic activity
falls chiefly in the time of the romantic movement in Poland. His
odes and occasional poems were printed in 1825-28, and many of them
have been translated into German and Bohemian. His translations from
Byron, Moore, and Walter Scott are greatly admired in Poland. He
also published several dramas on historical subjects. Odyniec was
editor, first of the _Kuryer Wilanski_, and afterwards of the _Kuryer
Warszawski_, and was highly esteemed as a political writer. He was
personally very popular in Warsaw, and his funeral was attended by many
thousands of people.

       *       *       *       *       *

DR. A. EMANUEL BIEDERMANN, Professor of Theology in the University of
Zürich, died in that city on January 26. He was born at Winterthur
in 1819, studied theology at Basel and Berlin 1837-41, and in 1843
was elected Pfarrer of Münchenstein in the Canton of Basel-land.
In 1850 he was made Professor Extraordinarius of Theology in the
University of Zürich, and in 1864 Professor Ordinarius of “Dogmatik.”
His _Christliche Dogmatic_ (Zürich, 1864) is the best known of his
theological writings. In connection with Dr. Fries he founded in 1845
the Liberal ecclesiastical monthly, _Die Kirche der Gegenwart_, out of
which the still extant _Zeitstimmen_ was developed.


AN AERIAL RIDE.—The recent ascents, first at Berlin, then at Baden,
of Herr Lattemann, who is the inventor and constructor of an entirely
novel miniature balloon, “Rotateur,” are remarkable, if foolhardy,
performances. The intrepid aëronaut rises in the air merely suspended
to a balloon by four ropes to a height of 4,000 feet. The Rotateur
has the form of a cylinder, with semi-spherical ends and a horizontal
axis. It holds about 9,300 cubic feet of ordinary gas, just enough to
lift the weight of a man, without car, anchor, or other apparatus,
about 4,000 feet. The balloon may be revolved round its horizontal
axis by two cords attached at the periphery of the cylinder. The
aëronaut is able by these cords to turn the valve, placed below,
through which the gas is taken in and allowed to escape, when desired,
round either the sides or to the top. This circular hole, as soon as
the balloon is filled, is stretched out by a thick cane to such an
extent longitudinally as to close it almost entirely, only leaving a
narrow slit, through which, it is asserted, no gas can escape. If the
aëronaut desires to let off the gas, he turns the cylinder balloon
round its axis by manipulating the cords, the opening is moved to
the side or top, and the cane removed by sharply pulling the cord
attached to it, so that the opening becomes circular again, and allows
the gas to escape. This is the new valve arrangement —the egg of
Columbus—patented by Herr Lattemann. For up to the present time the
valve was the Achilles heel of the balloon, because it was placed at
the top, sometimes failing to act, at others not closing air-tight.
Herr Lattemann in his ascents wears a strong leather belt, through the
rings of which two ropes are drawn, and by which he fastens himself to
the right and left of the balloon net. He thus hangs suspended as in a
swing. Two other ropes, attached to the balloon, and passing through
other rings in his belt, end in stirrups, into which the aërial rider
places his feet. At his earlier ascents Herr Lattemann used a saddle,
which he has now discarded, preferring to stand free in the stirrups.
As soon as the aëronaut has balanced himself in his ropes, the signal
“Off!” is given, and the balloon sails away. Herr Lattemann has
hitherto been entirely successful in his ascents, which last about half
an hour.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE CONDITION OF SCHLESWIG.—A graphic description is given in an
article written by a correspondent of the _Times_ in Copenhagen of the
treatment to which the Danish inhabitants of Schleswig are subjected
by the Germans. All the efforts of the authorities governing the duchy
tend to the goal of crushing, and, if possible, exterminating the
Danish language and Danish sentiment. The Danes in Schleswig cling with
characteristic toughness to their language and to the old traditions of
their race; they hate the Germans; they groan under the foreign yoke
of suppression. Resisting all temptations and all menaces from Berlin,
they still turn their regards and their love toward the Danish King and
the Danish people, and they swear to hold out, even for generations,
until the glorious day comes, as it is sure to come in the fulness
of time, when the German chains shall be broken. It would be a very
trifling sacrifice for Prussia, that has made such enormous gains and
risen to the highest Power in Europe, to give those 200,000 or 250,000
Danish Schleswigers back to Denmark, the land of their predilection.
The northern part of Schleswig is of no political or strategical
importance to Prussia, and the proof of this is that the fortifications
in Alsen and at Düppel are being levelled to the ground. Several
instances of these petty persecutions are given by the correspondent.
The names of towns and villages have been Germanized; railway guards
are not permitted to speak Danish; in the public schools primers and
songs and plays are to be in German, and the children are punished
if they speak among themselves their maternal language; history is
arranged so as to glorify Germany and disparage Denmark; the Danish
colors of red and white are absolutely prohibited; in short, from the
cradle to the grave, the Danish Schleswiger is submitted to a process
of eradicating his original nature and dressing him up in a garb which
he hates and detests. This petty war is carried on day after day under
the sullen resistance and open protests of the Schleswigers, and proves
a constant source of hatred and animosity between two nations destined
by nature to be friends and allies. Of late the Prussian functionaries
in Schleswig have entered upon a system of positive persecution that
passes all bounds. Last summer several excursions of ladies and girls
from the Danish districts in Schleswig were arranged to different
places, one to the west coast of Jutland, another to Copenhagen; they
came in flocks of two or three hundred, were hospitably entertained,
enjoyed the sights and the liberty to avow their Danish sentiments,
and then they returned to their bondage. Such of them as did not
carefully hide the red and white favors or diminutive flags had to pay
amends for their carelessness. But the great bulk of them could not be
reached by the law, for, in spite of all, it has not yet been made a
crime in Schleswig to travel beyond the frontier. With characteristic
ingeniousness, the Prussian functionaries then hit upon a new plan, and
visited the sins of the women and girls upon their husbands, fathers,
or brothers. If these turned out to have, after the cession, optated
for Denmark, and to be consequently Danish citizens only sojourning in
Schleswig, they were peremptorily shown the door and ordered to leave
the duchy within 48 hours or some few days. An edict authorizes any
police-master to expel any foreign subject that may prove “troublesome”
(_lästig_), and this term is a very elastic one. If the male relatives
were Prussian subjects no law could be alleged against them, but
among these such as filled public charges, particularly teachers and
schoolmasters, have been summarily dismissed. In this way, farmers,
small traders, artisans, dentists, school teachers, and so forth,
whose wives or sisters or daughters did take part in the excursion
trips, have been mercilessly driven away and deprived of their means of
living. New cases of such expulsions are recorded every day. A system
of the most petty persecution is at the same time enforced against
those who cannot be turned out.

CHINESE NOTIONS OF IMMORTALITY.—A writer in a recent issue of
the _North China Herald_ discusses the early Chinese notions of
immortality. In the most ancient times ancestral worship was maintained
on the ground that the souls of the dead exist after this life. The
present is a part only of human existence, and men continue to be
after death what they have become before it. Hence the honors accorded
to men of rank in their lifetime were continued to them after their
death. In the earliest utterances of Chinese national thought on this
subject we find that duality which has remained the prominent feature
in Chinese thinking ever since. The present life is light; the future
is darkness. What the shadow is to the substance, the soul is to
the body; what vapor is to water, breath is to man. By the process
of cooling steam may again become water, and the transformations of
animals teach us that beings inferior to man may live after death.
Ancient Chinese then believed that as there is male and female
principle in all nature, a day and a night as inseparable from each
thing in the universe as from the universe itself, so it is with man.
In the course of ages and in the vicissitudes of religious ideas, men
came to believe more definitely in the possibility of communications
with supernatural beings. In the twelfth century before the Christian
era it was a distinct belief that the thoughts of the sages were to
them a revelation from above. The “Book of Odes” frequently uses the
expression “God spoke to them,” and one sage is represented after death
“moving up and down in the presence of God in heaven.” A few centuries
subsequently we find for the first time great men transferred in the
popular imagination to the sky, it being believed that their souls
took up their abode in certain constellations. This was due to the
fact that the ideas of immortality had taken a new shape, and that
the philosophy of the times regarded the stars of heaven as the pure
essences of the grosser things belonging to this world. The pure is
heavenly and the gross earthly, and therefore that which is purest on
earth ascends to the regions of the stars. At the same time hermits
and other ascetics began to be credited with the power of acquiring
extraordinary longevity, and the stork became the animal which the
Immortals preferred to ride above all others. The idea of plants
which confer immunity from death soon sprang up. The fungus known as
_Polyporus lucidus_ was taken to be the most efficacious of all plants
in guarding man from death, and 3,000 ounces of silver have been asked
for a single specimen. Its red color was among the circumstances which
gave it its reputation, for at this time the five colors of Babylonian
astrology had been accepted as indications of good and evil fortune.
This connection of a red color with the notion of immortality through
the medium of good and bad luck, led to the adoption of cinnabar as the
philosopher’s stone, and thus to the construction of the whole system
of alchemy.

The plant of immortal life is spoken of in ancient Chinese literature
at least a century before the mineral. In correspondence with the tree
of life in Eden there was probably a Babylonian tradition which found
its way to China shortly before Chinese writers mention the plant of
immortality. The Chinese, not being navigators, must have got their
ideas of the ocean which surrounds the world from those who were,
and when they received a cosmography they would receive it with its

       *       *       *       *       *

AN APPROACHING STAR.—One of the most beautiful of all stars in the
heavens is Arcturus, in the constellation Boötes. In January last
the Astronomer Royal communicated to the Royal Astronomical Society
a tabulated statement of the results of the observations made at
Greenwich during 1883 in applying the method of Dr. Huggins for
measuring the approach and recession of the so-called fixed stars
in direct line. Nearly 200 of these observations are thus recorded,
twenty-one of which were devoted to Arcturus, and were made from March
30 to August 24. The result shows that this brilliant scintillating
star is moving rapidly towards us with a velocity of more than fifty
miles per second (the mean of the twenty-one observations is 50.78).
This amounts to about 2,000 miles per minute, 180,000 per hour,
4,320,000 miles per day. Will this approach continue, or will the star
presently appear stationary and then recede? If the motion is orbital
the latter will occur. There is, however, nothing in the rates observed
to indicate any such orbital motion, and as the observations extended
over five months this has some weight. Still it may be travelling in
a mighty orbit of many years’ duration, the bending of which may in
time be indicated by a retardation of the rate of approach, then by no
perceptible movement either towards or away from us, and this followed
by a recession equal to its previous approach. If, on the other hand,
the 4,500,000 of miles per day continue, the star must become visibly
brighter to posterity, in spite of the enormous magnitude of cosmical
distances. Our 81-ton guns drive forth their projectiles with a maximum
velocity of 1,400 feet per second. Arcturus is approaching us with
a speed that is 200 times greater than this. It thus moves over a
distance equal to that between the earth and the sun in twenty-one
days. Our present distance from Arcturus is estimated at 1,622,000
times this. Therefore, if the star continues to approach us at the same
rate as measured last year, it will have completed the whole of its
journey towards us in 93,000 years.—_Gentleman’s Magazine._

GERMANS AND RUSSIANS IN PERSIA.—A correspondent of the _Novoje Vremja_
recently had an opportunity of ascertaining some interesting facts
from a naval officer who is in the service of the Shah, and whom he
met on board a Persian steamer in the Caspian Sea. The Persian cavalry
is organized and commanded by Russian officers, while the artillery is
commanded and instructed by Germans. The Persian soldiers, however,
dislike their German superiors, who treat them very badly and are
arrogant to a degree with the native officers. On the contrary, the
Russians are generally popular—so it is said. There is the worst
possible feeling between the Russians and the Germans, who seize
every opportunity of annoying each other. A short time ago their
military manœuvres were held, attended by the Shah and the whole Corps
Diplomatique. The infantry made a splendid show, and the cavalry, too,
was much admired, but the firing of the artillery was execrable, and,
as ill-luck would have it, the German Consul was wounded in the foot.
The Shah was furious, whereupon the German officers called out that the
ammunition had been tampered with by the Russians. At once the Shah
ordered an inquiry to be made, the only consequence of which was to
give mortal offence to the Germans. But it is, perhaps, not necessary
to go quite so far as Teheran to find traces of the profound antagonism
existing between Russians and Germans. Czar and Kaiser may embrace to
their hearts’ content, but, strange to say, wherever their subjects
meet abroad they quarrel. At the market town of Kowno, in the Russian
Government district of Saratoff, a sanguinary encounter took place a
few days ago between German settlers and Russian peasants, who had
come from the neighborhood for the annual fair. As many as ten were
killed and thirty wounded. The outbreak of a large fire interrupted the
fighting, otherwise the list would have been far more considerable.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
in hyphenation have been standardised but all other spelling and
punctuation remains unchanged.

Italics are represented thus _italic_.

The following corrections have been made:

Queensberry for Queensbury in THE POETRY OF TENNYSON. Ios for Iosos in
A ROMANCE OF A GREEK STATUE. mattress for mattrass (a form of glass
distillation aparatus) in the review of WEIRD TALES BY E. T. W. HOFFMAN.

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