Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, Volume XLI, No. 5, May 1885
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, Volume XLI, No. 5, May 1885" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Illustration: An open book, listing contents as Literature, Art,
 Science, Belleslettres, History, Biography, Astronomy, Geology, etc.]


                           Eclectic Magazine

                                  OF

                 FOREIGN LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART.

                          ————————————
      New Series.    }                      { Old Series complete
   Vol. XLI., No. 5. }      May, 1885.      { in 63 vols.
                          ————————————



                  THE POLITICAL SITUATION OF EUROPE.

              BY F. NOBILI-VITELLESCHI, SENATOR OF ITALY.


I.

It is a matter worthy of consideration why the progress which is in our
time so unexpectedly rapid in all which concerns the physical world,
should be so slow, or rather so limited, in the sphere of morals. We
might almost say that, like a line ascending in a spiral form, progress
can in each historical period only be made within the given orbit in
which the period itself revolves.

With respect to the two principal questions which interest mankind in
its complex—that is, in its political and social—existence, the orbit
in which the historical period preceding our own revolved, as far as
politics are concerned, circled round what we may term the State,
although this does not precisely correspond to our present conception
of the word; and socially it revolved round an absolute system of
proprietorship, together with the rights and duties which were to
a varying extent attached to it, and which included a relative and
practically obsolete exercise of charitable customs.

That which was called a State was not always a combination which
had, in accordance with the modern conception, the public welfare as
its sole and supreme object, but it generally depended on certain
rights which had their origin in facts of extreme antiquity. These
combinations were of two kinds. The most usual, which was indeed
almost universal in Europe, was the monarchy, in which a given family
governed and represented the interests of a more or less extensive
number of peoples, which in virtue of ancient rights, of conquests, of
treaties, or in any other way belonged to her. In a few rare instances
these monarchies were elective, and the rulers, who were elected by
a college, a caste, or in some other manner, found themselves in the
same conditions as hereditary sovereigns. The least common, but not
the least important and successful, form of government was that of
the communities which governed themselves. But even this form relied
for its existence on the same elements as the monarchies—that is, on
rights, conquests, and treaties, or similar reasons—on which alone the
political state of Europe was based up to the year 1815.

By this we mean that up to 1815 no right was recognised in political
life except that which derived its origin from some fact or facts which
were supposed to constitute rights, such as successions, conquests,
concessions, or gifts. Spain, in virtue of one or other of these
titles, ruled the Low Countries and the kingdom of Naples, nor did it
occur to any one to discuss the fitness of this strange aggregation of
different peoples, united in a single State. It would be tedious to
cite all the instances of curious combinations to which the ancient
European rights gave rise. Although they had a tendency to dissolve
under the influence of recent times, yet the system was maintained
up to 1815, the date of the last great treaty which was made on this
basis, and of which the effect remained up to 1845.

Throughout this protracted period, of which the beginning is confounded
with that of European civilisation, a certain progress did, however,
take place in the conditions of European society, which advanced from
the capitulations of Charles the Great to the English Great Charter,
from arbitrary decrees to the statutes of the republic of Florence,
and finally, to the legislative acts of Joseph the Second in Austria,
of Leopold in Tuscany, Charles the Third in the kingdom of Naples, and
of all the contemporary governments which uttered their last word on
such progress as was possible to politicians of that period, and which
consisted in adapting as far as possible the inflexible exigencies of
ancient rights to the necessities of modern facts, and in inducing
those who governed by divine right to consider the interests of the
people. But this was only up to a certain point, and the relative
conditions of the governors and the governed did not cease to be the
basis of European policy.

Speaking of these things at this day is like speaking of another
world. A State which is not governed in the interests of those of whom
it consists would be a tyranny. It is held to be an iniquity to hold
a people subject to a rule which is independent of ethnographical,
geographical, or economical considerations, and such a people would
be considered justified in throwing off the yoke, if possible. A war
undertaken to maintain a purely dynastic title would be regarded as an
intolerable burden, to which no nation is bound to submit.

The arguments which are used to stigmatise and condemn the old system
as unjust and out of date are naturally derived from its evils,
dangers, and inconveniences. The people were subject to laws, taxation,
and wars, for causes which did not concern them, and which for that
very reason multiplied without control. The Thirty Years’ War and the
War of Succession cut down whole peoples, not for their own benefit,
but in order to decide to whom they should belong. A permanent state
of war appeared to be the inevitable result of the conflagration of
all these rights, which were contested at the expense of the happiness
of peoples. Meanwhile science had changed the basis of rights, and the
famous principles of 1789, which had their birth in the intoxication of
the nascent revolution and were nourished by the blood of its maturer
age, found their way into codes and constitutions. The old system,
condemned both in theory and practice, was anathematised by the rising
generation, which claimed to have discovered the secret of true policy,
and the grand panacea for all the evils of humanity.

Nor was it otherwise with social questions. The conception that every
man might do what he pleased with his own, and might transmit it to
others both before and after his death, was more or less present in the
constitution of all civil societies. But this system deprived of the
enjoyments of life all those who were unable to acquire property for
themselves, and to whom no one could or would transmit it. In one word,
in this system there were no official dispositions for the poor, who
nevertheless constitute the eternal problem of human society. In fact,
money enough for the permanent and complete relief of the poor could
not be found, nor the mode of useful legislation on this subject. But
an appeal beneath the beneficent influence of Christianity was made
to the most refined sentiments of humanity, and created duties which,
however imperfectly fulfilled, were imperious, and relied on a divine
sanction. In this way charity provided for the variable and indefinite
needs which exist in all human societies, from the richest and most
fortunate to the poorest and most unhappy, and did so with the buoyant
and indefinite force inspired by sentiment, which contrasts strongly
with similar laws and provisions enacted by the State.

The modern phase of thought does not venture openly to attack socially
property, as politically it has attacked divine right, because it
has not known what to substitute in its place. It was less difficult
to sustain universal suffrage, which met with fewer obstacles in its
translation into fact than communism or socialism. There has therefore
been no direct attack on property, but for a long while circuitous
means have been taken to undermine its rights. By the destruction of
the feudal system, the bonds which connected property with the exercise
of political power were burst asunder, and another blow was struck
at its stability by the abolition of the rights of eldest sons, and
of all the other privileges belonging to it, according to ancient
usage. Later, legitimate successions and those of intestate persons
have been regulated, and thus the disintegration has been gradually
prepared. Finally, the laws of taxation for purposes of the State or
of public welfare have further confiscated a large portion of private
property. Hence it may be said that on great part of the Continent
property of every kind—rural, urban, movable, or immovable—has become
a merchandise, great part of which is administered by trustees for
the benefit of the State, while the rest is subject to a number of
laws, contracts, and combinations which cause it to pass from one
person to another with the utmost rapidity, so that its enjoyment
may be extended to as large a number as possible, since the mode of
distributing it to all has not yet been discovered.

Charity has been overthrown by the same blow. It has shared the
unpopularity of her preachers, and it also, without being directly
attacked, has been subjected, under different pretexts, to the
destruction and conversion of a very large number of institutions
founded under its banner, and discredit has been thrown on its
practices and provisions, while the struggle for existence has been
brutally substituted for charity. So much the worse for the man who
cannot help himself out of a difficulty. The motto of our time is a
species of _sauve qui peut_, which begins in the transactions of the
money market and leads some to the temple of fortune and others to the
river or to the lunatic asylum.

We do not, however, assert that the inexhaustible source of human
kindness with which God has mercifully endowed our nature does not
still find means of doing good, and great good. Institutions, which
are for the most part beneficent, abound on every side, and supply
the place of the ancient foundations which have disappeared. But
the conception and its mode of execution are different and do not
correspond with the old usage. Everything is done according to rule
in modern philanthropy. There are free municipal schools in which
instruction is given to those who do or do not desire it. There are
hospitals in which a definite number of patients afflicted by certain
diseases are collected, and if the number is exceeded or the symptoms
are not the same, they are left to die until a hospital is founded
which is intended for such cases. If a man is in want of bread he
receives a garment, because the institution which might help him only
provides clothes; and if a whole family is dying of hunger they will
receive a mattress if directed to an institution which only supplies
beds. The liberal charity which is personal and intelligent, and
which corresponds to the infinite variety and combinations of human
necessities, lingers, thank God! in the hearts of the beneficent, but
its form is discredited and its means are abridged. The great mass
of the funds which were devoted to charity is now diverted into the
official and semi-official channels of modern philanthropy. In my
opinion, the relief which is now given does good without remedying the
evil, since a dinner for to-day is always welcome, but it will not
prevent a man from dying of hunger next week, or of cold if he has
not wherewithal to cover himself; while a loaf or a cloak given at a
propitious moment may save the life of a man or of a whole family. So
it may be said that the place of charity has been taken by the struggle
for existence, only modified by administrative philanthropy.

This second revolution was produced by the growing discredit which
resulted from the evils and inconveniences which had their source
in the ancient conception of property, and from those which were
attributed to the free and sentimental charity. Property, when in the
hands of a few privileged classes, made few happy while the many were
unhappy. Charity created miseries by encouraging idleness. Such were
the principal arguments which overthrew the old system.

Thus political power of an exclusive and egotistic character, which
was founded on divine right, was destroyed in order to constitute
governments on a popular basis; labor was substituted for charity. It
appeared to the philosophers who carried out this great revolution that
nothing more was needed to inaugurate a new golden age in which the
rivers would flow with milk, and ripe fruits would fall on every man’s
table. It is needless to add that peace and general satisfaction were
to be the results of this profound and laborious revolution.


II.

The old order of things was, however, hardly demolished before two
distinct and menacing questions were raised upon its ruins—Nationality
and Socialism. Let us begin with the first.

Since the country (_patria_), in the limited sense of the word, had
disappeared—that is, the political unity which was represented by the
dynasty or flag or even simply a steeple, the early symbol of the old
societies—the sentiment of association took its concrete form in a
fresh combination, more in harmony with the democratic tendencies of
our times. It assumed the widest possible basis—to constitute a society
which should unite all common interests, and should be governed in
conformity with these. It is, indeed, not surprising that men who
speak the same language, inhabit the same zone, who are alike in their
customs and dispositions, who are, in short, what is now called a
nation, should present all these characteristics, and should therefore
become the new political unit both of the present and the future, thus
replacing the earlier units formed by heredity or conquests without
respect to the interests of all the component elements.

Nothing in nature is produced at one stroke; and some races had
already advanced towards nationality, and especially France, which had
laboriously constituted herself into a nation, before the word was used
in its political meaning. But the country to which it was allotted to
assert loudly and explicitly this new form of political life was Italy
in 1859. The formula of nationality as the basis of right was first
proposed by her and obtained acceptance by international jurisprudence,
and this basis had scarcely been established before it led to the
overthrow of six thrones which boasted of different origins, among
which was the most ancient and most venerable of all—the temporal
power of the Popes. The experiment was favorably received, and Germany
lost no time in adopting it, since the old system had produced in that
country the same conditions of divisions and of relative weakness which
had occurred in Italy. The campaigns of 1866 and of 1870 served to
contribute to the new theory the force which was necessary to convince
European diplomacy.

Even those who most reluctantly accept modern ideas do not now speak
of anything but nationality. It might be supposed that there had never
been any other basis for politics, since this has in a very short time
been so completely and universally accepted.

The production of these nationalities has, however, been accompanied by
all the defects of the system which preceded them. They have brought
with them all the rancours of ancient Europe. The rancours of Francis
I. and of Charles V. have been transmuted into the deadly enmity
which exists between French and Germans. The testament of Frederic
II. has led to the programme of the German people, and the ambitious
projects of Catherine II. have issued in the aspirations of the Slave
race. So though the new era which began with nationality indicates a
real progress in the internal constitution of the different States,
and in the fundamental reasons for their several governments; still
with respect to their international relations to universal justice
and to general peace, in a word, with respect to the progress of the
human race in morals, we find ourselves—to make use of the metaphor we
employed at first—in a fresh spiral, equally limited in space, in which
there is a relative progress, but it has only a slight influence on the
general progress of humanity. And, to turn from abstract principles to
the concrete limits of politics, the present state of things is not
promising nor hopeful for the peace of Europe.

The first and most curious phenomenon which accompanied the affirmation
of different nationalities as a guarantee of peace in Europe, has
been compulsory service—a euphemism which implies that the whole male
population of Europe is trained and educated for war; thus men are
fashioned into as deadly instruments as were ever found in barbarous
ages and during the warfare of the old system. Military education,
both technical and gymnastic, is brought to such perfection that whole
generations are trained like hounds for mortal conflict, and each man
may on an average kill ten others in the course of a minute. Even in
traversing Europe by the railway we may observe near the fortresses,
and indeed in the great centres of population, arenas, gymnasia,
drilling grounds, and young men clothed in the prescribed warlike
uniform. This strange spectacle is unnoticed because it is concealed
and confounded with the attractions of modern civilisation; but it must
strike all who seek to penetrate its external phenomena: and certainly
those who established the present civilisation did not anticipate such
a result.

We must, however, leave the speculative side of the question to
philosophers, since what concerns us in the interests of this same
civilisation is to examine the practical results of the situation
in Europe in its political aspect, with which we are at this moment
occupied. Briefly, we wish to ascertain what is now the political
situation of Europe, in consequence and in presence of the new basis on
which European rights are established.

And primarily, since the application of these new rights, all
nationalities, if they do not feel the present necessity, yet they have
potentially a tendency to assimilate the elements which properly belong
to them. And each forms a judgment of the situation in accordance with
his standard and purpose.

Thus, for example, Russia, under the pretext of consisting for the most
part of Slav peoples, begins to nourish in her bosom the ambition of
uniting all the Slav races under the well-known name of Pan-Slavism. No
matter that the Slavs of Poland and Bohemia differ widely from those
of Russia proper in their language, religion, and habits, perhaps more
widely than from those of another nationality. Panslavists extend to
the race the privileges of the nation, and as it would be difficult
to define logically where the one begins and the other ends, so among
them, and especially among those who believe, perhaps rightly, that
they speak in the name of Russia, the Slav nation consists of a third
of Europe, reaching from the North Pole to the Adriatic. In order to
unite it under Russian rule, it would be necessary to overthrow, or at
any rate seriously to mutilate, the dominions of Turkey and of Austrian
Hungary.

The demolition of the Turkish empire and the diminution of Austrian
Hungary would be carried still further by the nationality of Greece,
which requires for its proper development to absorb another portion of
Turkey, and to deprive Austria of such access to the sea as the Slavs
might leave to her.

The Italian nationality would also propose some modifications of the
geography of Europe, less searching than the above, but not without
their importance.

France and Spain are the countries which have least to ask in the way
of expansion; the former because her territory was acquired before the
enunciation of the principle was formulated, the latter because of her
limited proportions, unless, following the interpretations of Russia,
she should entertain the ambition, which up to this time is scarcely
perceptible if it exists at all, of acquiring the whole Iberian
peninsula.

If we continue our circuit of the continent we come to the two small
nationalities of Flanders and Scandinavia. These two, although their
populations are the least numerous, seem less sensible of the necessity
of political reunion. It is certain that no one in Belgium and Holland
has seriously formulated the idea of a fusion, nor yet among the
Scandinavians. These States enjoy a certain ease of circumstances
and unusual prosperity, without being tormented by the demon of
aggrandisement; they allow the claims of nationality to remain dormant
in order that they may enjoy in prosperity and contentment what they
have acquired by political shrewdness and indefatigable labor; but it
may be said that in these conditions they stand alone in Europe.

The circuit we have made from the extreme north to the centre of Europe
includes the most complete, successful, and indisputable instance of
a compact and homogeneous nationality in that of Germany. Twenty-five
years ago this was hardly regarded as an ethnographical or historical
designation, and it was certainly not political, since the tendencies
and interests of the different States of Germany were quite dissimilar,
even when, as in many of the most important questions, they were not
altogether opposed to each other. Now that the nationality has arisen,
has grown and reached maturity, and in two memorable campaigns has
swept all obstacles from its path, it would be as useless to try to
arrest its development and divert it from its path as to try and make
the Rhine flow back to its source.

The German nation must absorb a few more States in order to constitute
itself into a political unity, but since the most important would shake
to its foundations the Austro-Hungarian empire, this last annexation
will be deferred as long as possible. The fraction of Germans which
remains to be absorbed into the empire would only augment the number
of its constituents by some millions, and its territory by some
provinces; meanwhile in its present condition it fulfils the mission
of a colony detached from the parent nation, impressed with the
same characteristics, and adhering to the same interests, and thus
constituting a weighty instrument for carrying out the national views
throughout the Austro-Hungarian empire, which, amidst the conflict
of the different nationalities of which it consists, is clearly and
irresistibly impelled towards that which is the nearest, the most
energetic, and the most powerful. This state of things is too favorable
to Germany to allow her to hasten to exchange her independent colonies
in Austria into faithful subjects of the German Emperor. There
remain other tendencies to assimilation on the side of Russia and of
Switzerland. The first are so problematical that they may be regarded
as a pretext rather than a claim. The second have not, up to this time,
acquired any appearance of probability, since Switzerland has had the
privilege of constituting an artificial and political nationality
out of such as are truly geographical and ethnographical, and has
gallantly resisted any encroachment, so that on this side also any
assimilation must be regarded as immature. We must not, however, forget
the homogeneity of race, if Germany should be for any cause impelled
to approach or to cross the Alps. In such a case the effects of this
homogeneity must make themselves felt.

These tendencies are not, however, all equally active, nor have they
all the same intensity. Up to this time some of them are still latent,
and give no sign of their existence, nor are they the only factors
of the political state of Europe. Besides their tendencies to become
complete, nationalities have certain other tendencies, objects, and
ends, which may be said to be peculiar to each of them, since they
correspond with their special needs, relate to certain conditions, and
are in conformity with the mission which each State has, or thinks it
has, in the political concert of nations.

Since, therefore, we are considering the subject from the political
point of view, as it now exists, we shall only regard those tendencies
which actually demand satisfaction, and which, therefore, constitute
an element and a factor of contemporary politics. The more important
tendencies may be reduced to few, intense in character, and wielding
mighty forces. The others may be considered as depending by those
which are greater and stronger, only differing in degree of intensity
and power. They generally take an intermediate place, and receive their
satisfaction second-hand, according to their position on the right or
wrong side in the great conflict of interests. They usually follow the
fortune of the conquered or conquering leaders.

Russia, the dominant Slav race of the north, in addition to the desire
of assimilation with her brethren, tends towards the sun, in order to
exert an influence over the temperate zone, in which the most vital
interests of Europe are at issue. This is the popular tradition which
goes by the name of the testament of Peter the Great. Russia has
persistently and indefatigably extended her conquests in the direction
of the East. If this movement appears to be at present less decided,
it is because her want of success in the last war and last treaty has
reacted on the constitution of the empire, which is thus weakened and
hindered in its efforts at expansion. But as soon as this impulse
of internal dissatisfaction is subdued, her activity abroad will be
renewed. The man or the government which is able to lead Russia back
into her old course will solve the enigma by which she is now agitated.

She advances towards the east from two sides—the north and west. In
the former direction she is impelled by the force of circumstances.
The only element of order amid the nomadic and barbarous peoples which
overspread the country extending from the sides of the Caucasus to the
interior of Asia, the endless controversies about frontiers enable
her to advance stealthily and insensibly, owing, as we have said,
to the very nature of things. On the western side she makes her way
deliberately, and in spite of all the obstacles opposed to her. These
are of two kinds—the resistance of the Ottoman empire; and that of
the European Powers, which are either interested in maintaining it or
desire to succeed to its territory. England stands first in the first
category, Austria in the second, if, indeed, she is not alone in the
desire to succeed to Turkey.

Russia would have overcome the first obstacle, in spite of the
tenacity of the Ottoman policy and the bravery of the army, if it were
not complicated by the second. The great and moribund empire of Turkey
has still vitality enough to respond to the affectionate care of the
more or less interested physicians who take charge of her.

But since 1870 the political attitude of Europe with respect to
Turkey has completely changed. Each of the three Powers which with a
somewhat elaborate disinterestedness assumed her defence in 1855 has
modified its views. Italy, to whom it was hardly more than a pretext
for inaugurating her political constitution, has attained her object
and will no longer apply herself with the same tenacity of purpose
to the maintenance of the Ottoman empire. France and England have
abandoned their office of guardians, to assume the more profitable one
of heirs—the one in Tunis, the other in Egypt. As for Russia, with
which we are now occupied, her position is also different. Now that
France has taken her share, she has no great interest in upholding the
tottering giant against whom she has directed one of the most recent
and most decisive blows; and, on the other hand, she is by no means
interested in opposing the plans of Russia or in offending her, since
she recognises in this Power the only hope of vengeance remaining to
her in the present state of things.

England, on the other hand, who has taken her share of the succession,
wishes, if possible, to prolong the existence of the dying man,
especially since Russia is with more or less reason considered by a
certain section of public opinion in England to menace her influence
and even her possessions in the East, as well as in the West. The
influences of Russia and England are so heterogeneous, one to the
other, that whenever they come in contact, although it may be in the
distant future, it must be a reciprocal source of danger. But now that
England has secured Egypt, she has perhaps no longer the same intense
interest in the preservation of the Turkish empire by which she was
actuated in 1855.

From 1870 onwards, a new and very important actor appeared on the
Oriental stage. Austria, repulsed by the different nationalities—by
Italy in 1859, by Germany in 1866—for the very reason that she was the
only European State which did not rely on nationality, that exclusive
and jealous factor of modern politics, has been obliged to depend on
one of those already in existence, and also to create for herself a
scope and office which might justify her own existence. She has found
these two objects fulfilled by the Oriental question.

Since the Hapsburg dynasty found itself placed on the confines of
German nationality, and close to all the fractions of different
nationalities which the storms of past ages had thrown on the shores
of the Danube on one side, and on the Balkan peninsula on the other,
it quickly took the part of ruling all these different nationalities,
which, owing to their insignificance, could not aspire to form a
political unit, and therefore relied on the great German nationality
which was behind them. But, as we have said, this did not suffice;
another object was presented to them, dictated by the nature of
things—that is, to substitute the Mohammedans in the supremacy of
Eastern Europe, as they were incompatible with European civilisation,
and at the same time to prevent this, which is commonly called the
key of Europe, from falling into the hands of a really numerous
nationality, which would on many accounts have excited the fears of all
European interests.

Through this act, dictated, as we have said, by the necessities of
things, Austria has found herself inextricably bound to Germany
and opposed to Russia, with whom she contests the two objects most
dear to the latter—the acquisition of the Catholic Slav races which
Austria jealously cherishes in her bosom, and her progress towards
the sun, or towards whatever obstructs her advance to the East. The
indissoluble bonds which unite the policy of Germany with that of
the Austro-Hungarian empire enable the former country to enjoy the
inestimable advantage of exerting a powerful influence on Eastern
diplomacy without, however, showing the hand which she neither could
nor would withdraw.

Consequently, Russia finds in the German nationality upon her western
frontier a much more serious and permanent barrier than that which
was raised by the political combinations of 1855. Her development
in the East is opposed, as well as the expansion of her influence
in Europe, which is still more important. We see these two great
nationalities fatally opposed to each other by their most vital
necessities, and in the objects they most ardently desire. The wise and
prudent combinations of the statesmen of these two great countries are
applied to smooth difficulties and distract attention from these fatal
conditions; and owing to the calm temperament of these nations, and to
the discipline still maintained by their Governments, they have been
successful up to a certain point. The ancient alliance of the three
emperors has, however, already become that of two. On the one side
there is a true and serious alliance established between the two houses
of Germany and Austria; on the other, a close, warm, and probably
sincere friendship between the houses of Germany and Russia. But none
such can be firmly established between the three; and as for the two
most numerous and powerful nationalities of Europe, they may (and the
God of Peace will reward them for it) dissimulate, soften, temporise—do
everything in their power to avert too rapid or too violent a collision
of the important interests of their subjects, but they cannot change
the nature of things. The two great nationalities, Slav and German,
are essentially rivals, both in geographical position and in their
political aims.

These considerations naturally lead us to speak of the German
nationality.

This nationality, like all those of recent origin, desires to feel
itself secure. On the one side there is an instinctive fear of the
possible conflagrations to which the influence of their powerful
neighbor may give rise; on the other, it cannot lose sight of the
strong antagonism between Germany and France which dates from 1870. It
will for a long period be difficult to overcome this antagonism, since
it is founded on the great frontier interests which have been contested
on both sides. As long as France is deprived of her traditional
frontier she will never feel herself secure, and if it were surrendered
by Germany, she would lose all the fruits of her loss and bloodshed in
1870. Even if it were only a contest for influence and supremacy, it
is not in the French nature to submit to defeat without feeling from
time to time the desire for revenge. This impulse alone in so excitable
a nation is enough to keep Germany watchful in this direction.
Certainly such an occurrence is not at present either certain or
threatening, but it is always possible that their two formidable
neighbors may combine, and this would re-act also on the different
nationalities which compose the Austro-Hungarian empire. It is this
danger which keeps the German nation in an indefinite and indefinable
state of uneasiness, to her own economical ruin, as well as to that of
all the European States which are compelled to imitate her.

To this feeling of uneasiness must be referred the feverish activity of
the Imperial _Cabinet_, who never ceases to make and unmake plans and
combinations, dominated by the single idea which was cherished by the
rival nationality of France from the time of Louis the Fourteenth to
that of Thiers—namely, to keep all Europe in a divided state. This is
not only in order to carry out the famous maxim, _Divide et impera_,
but because among all the possible combinations, some might be, if not
fatal, yet dangerous to the existence of Germany.

This possibly was foreseen in 1870, and it is known that lengthy
negotiations secured the neutrality of Russia in that war. The
concessions made to Russia in the East were part of the price of that
neutrality, and chief among these was the revision of the Treaty of
Paris.

It was readily believed that the opportunity of securing predominance
in Europe, for which Germany had been so elaborately prepared, and
which a chance unlikely to occur twice in the lifetime of peoples so
liberally offered her, would not be let slip by the German Government.
The war with France has been justly called a Punic War, or a deadly
strife for supremacy in Europe. And therefore the second Punic War was
looked for in a period in which it should not be possible for Russia
to intervene. According to the plan by which the Roman Horatius fought
with his rivals one by one, it seemed that the dominion, if not of the
world, at any rate of Europe, was secured to Germany.

This opinion was confirmed, inasmuch as the first question which arose
after 1870 was the Eastern question. The part taken by Germany is
well known, and certainly the peace was concluded at Berlin, where
the Treaty of San Stefano, which had secured to Russia the price of
her action, was cancelled. Russia issued from the struggle seriously
shaken, nor has she yet recovered from the shock. The Russian nation,
deluded in its most cherished expectations, has been given up to a
state of discontent which it is not necessary to study in its forms but
in its essence. The people are conscious of having been misdirected in
their course, and are displeased with whoever has failed to interpret
their wishes.

It seemed as if this might have been the moment for a second war with
France, and especially since it was unlikely that Russia would forget,
when her strength returned, the _auto da fé_ made at Berlin of the
Treaty of San Stefano. To this end all the manœuvres of the Berlin
Cabinet seem to have tended, as if the powerful hand of the German
Chancellor had only been exerted to effect its conclusion.

The mountain did not, however, bring forth a mouse but a _canard_, for
such it must appear to our calmer judgment, in the unexpected rumor
of a Franco-German alliance. We are not now in a position to examine
the reasons of this abortive birth. It only concerns us to show that
when the hypothesis of this solution was overthrown by the power so
ably and opportunely exerted, the question was reproduced to the
German nation in its integrity. Placed between and in collision with
the interests of two great nationalities, the one consisting of nearly
sixty and the other of forty million inhabitants, Germany was still
uneasy and insecure. Her people are, however, strictly disciplined,
trained for conflict, and of a naturally brave temperament, and all
means have been used to develop this quality in them. We know that when
men conscious of strength are uncomfortable or of evil humor they soon
try to mend their condition, and that they expend their wrath on some
thing or person until they have regained security and calmness. This
constitutes one of the most serious questions now presented to Europe,
and whence issues much of the uncertainty and dangers which menace its
peace.

The Chancellor, with the ability and diplomatic genius which no one
can dispute that he possesses, involves this phantasm in all sorts of
wrappings, with the double aim of appeasing it and of rendering it less
alarming to Europe. He expends all the energy which was accumulated in
the violent struggle in diplomatic combinations. Hence the friendly
relations with Russia have continually become closer; hence the triple
alliance again, the courteous treatment of Spain, the favorable
recognition of the French occupation of Tunis, so acceptable to France,
although received with dissatisfaction by Italy; hence also the English
occupation of Egypt was not opposed by Germany from the first, while
it was very displeasing to France. All this incessant activity of
German diplomacy, which appeared to be ably directed, and very probably
really was so directed, to procure the isolation of France, was on
that account supposed to lead the way to a second Franco-German war.
But at the present it should rather be regarded as a long succession
of manœuvres and a complicated diplomatic strategy, which had lost
sight of its immediate object and had for the time no other interests
than those which the episodes of this grave question present to the
curiosity of all Europe—a question of which the issue is so uncertain
and indefinite that at the moment when the object in view appeared
to be obtained in the complete isolation of France, we hear of a
Franco-German alliance. Incredible as it may appear, this is the fact.
The alliance is spoken of, and this is enough to show that everything
is possible in the state of tension in which things are in Central
Europe.

The sudden transition from a state of mortal war to that of an alliance
might have been contemplated in the political exigencies of the times
of Cardinal Richelieu—that is, when foreign politics were of a kind of
sacerdotalism, only transacted by Cabinets, on which public opinion
exercised little or no influence. But it is difficult to believe, in
the present state and exigencies of public opinion, and especially in
France, that it would be easy or possible to stifle in a diplomatic
combination, however able and useful, the memories of Metz and Sedan,
the loss of the Rhine Provinces and the occupation of Paris.

Such an opinion may be to some extent accepted by the victors, but
not by those on whom the burden of the war of 1870 fell. We mean by
this that when such combinations are contemplated and the attempt
is made to carry them into effect, they will not change the actual
state of things. The rivalry, incompatibility, and rancours produced
by interests which are different and in many cases opposed to each
other in two neighboring and powerful nations, may be subdued for a
while, but they must sooner or later revive until the question is
substantially resolved by the triumph of one side or the other. It is
precisely because she has been unwilling or unable to resolve it, that
Germany remains in this condition of profound disquietude—a condition
which has taken no certain and definite direction, but which is
pregnant with possible dangers for the rest of Europe.

We have said that the movement has not yet taken a definite direction,
but not that its tendency does not begin to declare itself. While
setting aside for a little and adjourning to a more or less distant
future the question of its own safety, the German nation, in common
with others, has certain objects in view beyond that of mere existence;
it has natural aspirations which give a purpose to life. We have said
that the Slav races of Russia are drawn towards the sun, and the
Germans are as strongly attracted towards the sea.

The people of Germany are very poor, owing to the natural conditions
of the soil and climate, poor also owing to compulsory military
service, to which, however, they willingly submit for the sake of
their national existence. If a strong people does not long tolerate an
uneasy condition, neither can it tolerate poverty. One which is strong
and poor is a dangerous neighbor to richer peoples. Now, from whatever
side we cross the German frontier, we are struck by the prosperity
and riches of the neighboring nations, whether agricultural,
manufacturing, or mercantile. The only advertisement posted up in every
German village is the name of the company, battalion, and regiment
to which it belongs, instead of the numerous advertisements which we
find in similar villages of Belgium, France, and Holland, announcing
transactions of trade, commerce, and manufactures. When we see the poor
and humble villages which are thus classified, we might say that the
German nation is merely encamped in the midst of Europe.

In the present conditions of Europe, and precisely on account of
the nationalities to which the credit must be given, territorial
acquisitions among neighbors and the subjection of one people to
another have become hardly possible except in a few limited cases which
cannot enter the mind of any statesman as having any large significance
in the political future. Since European nations can no longer, as of
old, obtain expansion at the expense of one another, they now seek for
it in distant lands, amid lower civilisations and in societies which
are less firmly constituted. This is done not only by conquest, but by
colonisation and commercial establishments of every kind, which assure
influence, and still more riches and prosperity to their founders. For
this end, it is important that a nation should have easy access to
the sea. The German nation is eminently continental and has only an
inconsiderable extent of seaboard. Hence Germany has need of the sea,
and this tendency attracts her equally towards the north and east of
Europe. This has probably influenced her policy in the late Eastern
war, and this subsidiary necessity is the complement of the more
important need of securing her own safety which has been the object
of the policy of the German Chancellor in its varying transitions. It
agrees with the colonising tendencies which have come openly to a head
within the last few months.

We have thus briefly indicated the tendencies of two among the
principal nationalities. France comes next in importance, and since
she is in fact the most ancient, so that her customs and interests are
firmly welded in spite of all her misfortunes, she need not greatly
concern herself about the fact of her existence. It would be difficult
to make any breach in the unity of France, since the traces of her
ancient divisions no longer exist. Her external borders may be enlarged
or restricted wherever the popular characteristics are less marked, or
even ambiguous, so that their affections and interests may oscillate
towards neighborly nations. But the great nucleus of the people has
no fear of being other than it is, and this is not now the source of
agitation in France. It is precisely because she has long been secure
in the enjoyment and free exercise of all her faculties as a nation
that her tendencies are more clearly and explicitly displayed.

Unfortunately these tendencies are towards domination and empire as the
scope and means of her prosperity. As soon as France was constituted
into a nation, or from the Revolution onwards, her history is only a
history of aggressions which nothing but superior force from without
and exhaustion within could arrest. The necessity of expansion by
warlike means is so intense in the French nation that she is hardly
subjected to foreign compulsion before there is an outbreak of internal
disturbances. France, conquered in 1815, only remained quiet until she
had recovered strength. The blood hardly begins to circulate in her
veins when she either overthrows her Government or makes war on foreign
Powers. The dilemma imposed like an incubus on all the rulers of France
for the last hundred years issues in this—either war or revolution.

The present Government, instinctively conscious of this state of
things, and not feeling strong enough to make war on its more powerful
neighbors lest it should be ruined in its turn, has invented a
diversion by transposing the problem—waging war in Asia and Africa,
and carrying fire and flames into all parts of the world which could
offer no resistance. The first idea of this policy must be ascribed
to Louis Philippe, who owed the tranquillity of the early years of
his reign to the conquest of Algeria. Other European nations have
undertaken colonisation or conquest of distant lands with reference to
their material prosperity, but conquest has been the primary object of
France. Economic views take a secondary place, out of proportion with
the scale of the enterprise, and are, indeed, rather a pretext. This
constitutional restlessness of France, which is only arrested by force,
has long constituted one of the gravest perils which threaten the peace
of Europe.

Italy, as well as Germany, feels the need of security, and this common
need has, since 1870, united the interests of the two countries. There
are insuperable obstacles in the tendency natural to all nationalities
to absorb unconsciously the congenial elements of other States. The
only symptoms of this tendency have been displayed on the side of
Austria, which is not herself a nation, but those who so improvidently
in any respect promoted it were also perhaps not aware that behind
Austria stands Germany, and that Trieste on the Adriatic corresponds to
that nation’s tendency towards the sea. But as far as her own existence
is concerned, Italy is irrevocably bound to all the combinations which
may secure her, and is the irreconcilable enemy of all those who
threaten her.

The path of Greece is equally barred by Austria and Russia, nor has she
much hope of making way against these two great Powers, unless their
antagonism can nourish such hopes.

We have reserved England to the last, because her political condition
as it concerns her nationality is altogether distinct from those
with which we have been hitherto occupied. If by nationality we
mean homogeneous characteristics of race, a similarity in language,
religion, and customs, the Anglo-Saxon nationality extends beyond
the United Kingdom into both hemispheres. If, on the other hand,
we regard the United Kingdom as an actual political unit, we find
that it is composed of different races, in which are included the
English, Scotch, and Irish, which have nothing in common with each
other but their official language. And yet, while the English nation
has for good reasons never posed, morally speaking, as the champion
of nationalities, she presides over the most cultured, numerous, and
energetic nationality in the world. But the Anglo-Saxon nationality
does not need nor desire, and indeed is unable, to be a political
unit. It may be said that the Anglo-Saxon race has passed through
the historical period of a nationality without observing it. It has
advanced beyond this period to attain to the ideal of a civilisation
forming whole parts of the world, in which only one language is spoken,
in which we find the same customs, interests, and religion, or, at any
rate, the faculty of accepting, each man for himself, what seems good
to him, without allowing this diversity to produce, either in theory or
practice, a distinction which has any political efficacy.

In those parts of the world there are not five or six groups of men
which look askance at each other with a hostile air, and which, because
they speak a different language, have a different history and religion,
believe themselves to be justified as a matter of duty and honor in
exterminating each other two or three times in a century. Because a
scrap of ground belongs to one set of people, does not that appear to
be a sufficient reason to the others to maintain millions of armed men
trained for their reciprocal destruction? Geographical degrees do not
suffice to create different and conflicting interests which may justify
them in mutual injuries, and in inflicting on one another the long
series of small and great miseries which begin with protracted wars and
fiscal duties and end in the imposition of quarantine.

This fact gives to the English people, which represents that
nationality in Europe, an exceptional power and authority. The English
people may become decadent as an European Power, but as a nationality
it will be unmenaced, since it does not represent a limited political
unit, but the half of the world. If the German nationality should
ever be baffled in the political combination made since 1870, she
would lose her political importance in the world. But if Britain were
attacked and conquered, the Anglo-Saxon nationality would still remain
the greatest political power in the universe. Hence this nationality
or race is exalted above all the narrow sentiments which underlie the
policy of the different European States; but England herself as a State
and political unit is jealous of the power which has in less than two
centuries produced the miraculous development of the Anglo-Saxon race
to its present extent; but if this jealousy is shown by the legitimate
defence of a greatness achieved by what was, comparatively speaking,
a handful of men from a remote island in the Atlantic, it does not
express itself in the palpitations of a whole people struggling for
their existence, which is the case with continental nations.

It follows from her exceptional circumstances that the aims of England
in Europe are few, and different from those of other States, and that
her policy has gradually become more disinterested in the contests
which divide continental Europe. She has witnessed the supremacy of
France, as she now witnesses the supremacy of Germany; she has watched
the rise of Italy and the decline of the Mussulman empire, to which
she formerly appeared so warmly attached, and it has not affected
her political position. The political vicissitudes of this half of
the century have disturbed the balance of all the States of Europe,
while England has during the same half century pursued her unalterable
course through all these changes, not only without adopting compulsory
service, but also without adopting conscription, and with an army which
a continental Power would scarcely consider sufficient for a grand
review. One point, however, England holds it necessary for her honor
and interests to maintain—namely, her maritime supremacy and the free
action of her eminently commercial people, in order to carry on her
mission of civilisation, which is at once noble and lucrative. She will
strive for this object with her last penny and with the last drop of
her blood, and it is on this side only that the English nation takes
its place as a great factor in European politics. She will strive for
this object with her accumulated materials of character, power, and
wealth, and at all events she will for a long time strive with the
success and efficacy which no one can deny that she possesses. But with
this exception her points of contact with Europe are few, and there
is little probability of friction since her object is remote. Instead
of striving for her nationality in Europe, she carries on without a
conflict the advance of civilisation throughout the world.

But she cannot, we have said, be indifferent to any attacks on her
maritime supremacy, nor to the serious rivalry with her colonial
policy displayed by the European States. For this reason, and with
a recollection of all which the continental blockade cost her, she
regards with displeasure the excessive preponderance of any one of the
great European Powers. England consists of a belly and brain nourished
by scattered members which include in their manifold organism all
parts of the world. If any one member is severed or paralysed, the
blow is felt in the centre. The inclination to found colonies aroused
in different European nationalities, which is, indeed, the necessary
consequence of their development, naturally interests England in the
highest degree, nor can the cases be rare when these new aspirations
must be checked by the appearance of the British flag.

We have now indicated all the perils and difficulties which threaten
the peace of Europe under the present political conditions that come
from the principles established with so much difficulty by philosophers
who were actuated by humanitarian motives, and who inscribed on the
banner which floated above the ancient citadel of their cherished
theories, the magic word “Fraternity.”

On their banner there was also inscribed “Equality,” which would
lead me to speak of socialism, if space allowed it: as in Europe the
progress in social questions has not been more fortunate. And just as
monarchy had hardly been called in question before it was face to face
with the republic, so the rights of property have hardly been discussed
before riches and poverty are confronted, and the whole problem of the
distribution of wealth rises again like a phantom before society. But
this article has already reached such a length that I must postpone
to a future occasion the treatment of that important and extensive
subject. What I have said, however, is quite enough to show that if in
Europe the present state of opinion on these subjects should not be
modified, national wars as well as civil wars could eventually carry us
at least through a temporary period of barbarism.

Yet we do not believe that we should lose confidence in progress, and
repudiate it in order to revert to the old state of things, nor yet
that the principles and ideas of which we have spoken are not really
progressive. Progress is a law of humanity which, if it were not, as it
undoubtedly is, beneficial, must be fatal to it; and it is certainly a
mark of progress that community of language, customs, and tendencies is
regarded as a reason for political union rather than certain arbitrary
or fortuitous combinations of successions, treaties, conquests, and
the like. Above all, it is well to have substituted the right of good
government for that which is merely arbitrary. We must again regard as
progressive some of the modifications introduced in the laws relating
to property. I say some of them, since it was perhaps dangerous to
shake prematurely the foundations of the systems by which it has been
ordered up to this time, when those which are to replace them are still
imperfect and untried.

But a long process of moral discipline is required, which may by
instruction modify the ideas about the two great modern conceptions of
politics and society.

Besides, and in the meantime as a compensation, our gentler customs,
a real progress in the education of sentiments and general culture,
greatly neutralise the effect of this violent state of things. After
the Russian has made a long tirade on the future of the Slav race, he
sets out for the Rhine or Paris, and forgets the mystical and obscure
visions of Holy Russia in the genuine pleasures of civilisation. When
the German lays aside his deadly arms in order to re-enter civic
life, his prejudices against the Latin race often fade before the
amenity of a Frenchman and the glorious sun of Italy. Undoubtedly the
multiplicity, the facility and gentleness of intercourse produced by
modern civilisation, are of great efficacy in paralysing the effects of
national antagonism and of social hatreds, but our watchfulness must
not therefore relax. But, notwithstanding all these considerations,
we persist in believing that until European opinion is modified on
these important subjects, European policy must always take account of
them, constantly on the watch lest she should be surprised by wars and
unforeseen catastrophes, which would compromise the long and laborious
work of her refined civilisation.

As long as nationalities are compelled to be rivals, it is necessary
to find some compensation for this rivalry. The ancient system of
the balance and equilibrium of power, which has seemed to be old
and disused armour, was perhaps never more opportune than now. If a
general confederation after the American manner seems visionary, as
opposed to the actual state of things in Europe, it might be practical
and efficacious to substitute this system of equilibrium for partial
alliance, and to establish the political balance of Europe in a normal
position. But it is necessary that this work should be effected in
time, before the preponderance of different Powers should become more
marked, and especially before the ambitions and greed which are now
upon the surface should strike deeply into the basis of international
policy. A well-planned system of approximating those elements which
are in any sense homogeneous or guided by common interests would tend
to secure peace and strengthen governments, and would at the same time
keep in check the social discontent which is nourished by political
dissensions, gathers strength from the uncertainty and weakness of our
present institutions, and triumphs in our misfortunes.

Here we must break off on the brink of conclusions and remedies. A few
words will not suffice to sum up the moral of this long dissertation,
nor was it our intention to do so either in few words or many. The
question is too large for solution in the pages of a Review.

It simply appeared to be an opportune moment for pointing out the
singular situation created by the progress of modern ideas, and to
indicate the dangers involved in it.

We do not wish to exaggerate these dangers, and have ourselves pointed
out that modern civilisation also includes their correctives, and that
they do not imply the end of all things, nor that another flood of
Deucalion is needed to renovate the human race from its very beginnings.

But precisely because European civilisation is so elaborate and
complex, it would be an error to suppose that catastrophic causes are
needed in order seriously to affect the conditions of our comparative
civility. Feudal and tyrannical wars took place in barren lands,
amid rude castles and squalid villages; those which are national and
social must be fought out amidst gardens and the monuments of art
and manufacture. The last wars recorded by history had Lombardy and
Champagne as their theatre, or were fought in the streets of Paris.
Any of the tendencies indicated by us in the foregoing considerations
which should terminate in a conflict would take place under analogous
conditions and in the same degree of civilisation which, while it might
mitigate the modes of warfare, must make its effects more grievous. And
the same ambition to possess distant countries which are more or less
civilised may also be equally full of danger to commerce, international
relations, the peace of Europe, and the interests of civilisation.

The privileged rules of the policy of the old world imposed upon
themselves a limit to excessive power, and used the saying, _Noblesse
oblige_. A new motto might be proposed to the builders and destroyers
of Governments in our day, which would be equally noble and might be
more fertile of results—_Progrès oblige_.—_Nineteenth Century._



ORGANIC NATURE’S RIDDLE.

BY ST. GEORGE MIVART.


Amongst the many sagacious sayings of the patient and profound thinkers
of Germany, not the least noteworthy was Schelling’s affirmation
that the phenomena of instinct are some of the most important of all
phenomena, and capable of serving as a very touch-stone whereby the
value of competing theories of the universe may be effectually tested.
His prescience has been justified by our experience. The greatest
scientific event of the present time is the wide acceptance of the
theory of evolution, and its use as a weapon of offence and defence.
It is used both against the belief that intelligent purpose is, as it
were, incarnate in the living world about us, and also in favor of
a merely mechanical theory of nature. Now it would be difficult to
find a more searching test of that theory’s truth than is supplied
by a careful study of instinct. The essence of that view of nature
which is associated with the name of Professor Haeckel,[1] a negation
of the doctrine of final causes and an assertion of what he calls
“Dysteleology,” that is, the doctrine of the purposelessness of the
organs and organisms which people a purposeless planet. That doctrine
may be called the gospel of the irrationality of the universe, and it
is a doctrine to which a proof of the real existence of such a thing
as “instinct” must necessarily be fatal. Instinct has been defined[2]
as a “special internal impulse, urging animals to the performance of
certain actions which are useful to them or to their kind, but the
use of which they do not themselves perceive, and their performance
of which is a necessary consequence of their being placed in certain
circumstances.” Such an impulse is always understood to be the result
of sensations: actions which take place in response to _unfelt_
stimuli being referred, not to instinct, but to what is termed _reflex
action_. In such action it is commonly supposed that the mechanism of
a living body occasions a prompt responsive muscular movement upon
the occurrence of some unfelt stimulation of the nervous system. The
nervous system, or total mass of nerve-stuff—which is technically
called “nerve-tissue”—in the body of an animal, such as a beast, bird,
reptile, or fish, is composed of two parts or divisions. One of these
divisions consists of a voluminous and continuous mass—the brain and
spinal cord (or spinal marrow), which form what is called the central
part of the nervous system. The second division consists of a multitude
of white threads or cords—the nerves, which form what is called the
peripheral part of the nervous system. Of these nerves one set proceed
forth from the central part of the nervous system to the different
muscles, which they can cause to contract by a peculiar action they
exert upon them, thus producing motion. Another set of nerves proceed
inwards, from the skin to the central part of the nervous system, and
by their peculiar action give rise to various sensations, according as
different influences or stimulations are brought to bear upon the skin
at, or in the vicinity of, their peripheral extremities. Under ordinary
circumstances, different stimulations of the surface of the body convey
an influence inwards, which produces sensation, and give rise to an
outwardly proceeding influence to the muscles, resulting in definite
and appropriate motions.

 [1] It is often associated unfairly with the illustrious name of
 the late Mr. Darwin. His special views lend themselves indeed to
 Haeckelianism, and have been pressed into its service; yet they are by
 no means to be identified therewith. As Professor Huxley has pointed
 out with his usual lucidity and force, Darwin’s theory can be made to
 accord with the most thoroughgoing teleology.

 [2] See Todd’s _Cyclopædia of Anatomy and Physiology_, vol. iii. p. 3.

There are cases in which responsive actions take place under very
abnormal conditions—as after a rupture of part of a man’s spinal
cord, or the removal of the whole brain in lower animals, such as the
frog. A man so injured may have utterly lost the power of feeling
any stimulation—pricking, cutting, or burning—of his legs and feet,
the injury preventing the conveyance upwards to the brain of the
influence necessary to ordinary sensation, and stopping short at the
spinal cord below the point of injury. Nevertheless, such a man may
execute movements in response to stimuli just as if he did feel, and
often in an exaggerated manner. He will withdraw his foot if tickled
with a feather just as if he felt the tickling, which he is utterly
incapable of feeling. Similarly a decapitated frog will make with his
hind legs the most appropriate movements to remove any irritating
object applied to the hinder part of its body. Such action is termed
“reflex action,” on the supposition that the influence conveyed inwards
by nerves going from the skin to the spinal cord is reflected back
from that cord to the muscles by the other set of nerves without any
intervention of sensation. This action of the frog may be carried to
a very singular extreme. At the breeding season the male frog tightly
grasps the female behind her arms, and to enable him the more securely
to maintain his hold, a warty prominence is then developed on the inner
side of each of his hands. Now if such a male frog be taken, and not
only decapitated, but the whole hinder part of the body removed also,
so that nothing remains but the fragment of the trunk from which the
two arms with their nerves proceed, and if under these circumstances
the warty prominences be touched, the two arms will immediately
close together like a spring, thus affording a most perfect example
of reflex action. It has been objected by the late Mr. G. H. Lewes
and others that we cannot be sure but that the spinal cord itself
“feels.” But there is often an ambiguity in the use of the term “to
feel.” By it we ordinarily mean a “modification of consciousness;” but
experiences such as those just adverted to, and others in ourselves to
which I shall next advert, show clearly that surrounding agents may
act upon our sense organs without the intervention of anything like
consciousness, and yet produce effects otherwise similar to those which
occur when they do arouse consciousness. Without, then, entering into
any discussion as to whether “sentiency” may or may not be attributed
to the spinal cord, it seems evident that some definite term is
required to denote such affections or modifications of living beings as
those just referred to. Inasmuch as they are affections of creatures
possessing a nervous system, which is the essential organ of sensation,
and as they resemble sensation in their causes and effects though
feeling itself may be absent, they may be provisionally distinguished
as “unfelt sensations.” Such are some of the actions with which
instinct is contrasted, because, unlike instinct, they are not carried
on by the aid of felt sensations, the highest of such insentient action
being reflex action.

There are also a number of actions which constantly recur in
ourselves, which more or less nearly approximate to reflex action.
Thus the respiratory movements, the various muscular motions by the
aid of which we breathe, are ordinarily performed by us without
advertence, though we can, if we will, perform them with self-conscious
deliberation. It is well also to note that when our mind is entirely
directed upon some external object, or when we are almost in a
state of somnolent unconsciousness, we have but a vague feeling of
our existence—a feeling resulting from the unobserved synthesis
of our sensations of all orders and degrees. This unintellectual
sense of “self” may be conveniently distinguished from intellectual
consciousness as “consentience.” We may also, as everybody knows,
suddenly recollect sights or sounds which were quite unnoticed at the
time we experienced them; yet our very recollection of them proves
that they must, nevertheless, have affected our sensorium. Such
unnoticed modifications of our sense organs may also be provisionally
included in the category of those actions of the lower animals, before
provisionally denominated “unfelt sensations.” It is not, however, with
such inferior activities as reflex and other insentient actions that
instinct is commonly contrasted, but with “reason.” Now “reasonable,”
“consciously intelligent”conduct is understood by all men to mean
conduct in which there is a more or less wise adaptation of means to
ends—a conscious, deliberate adaptation, not one due to accident only.
No one would call an act done blindly a reasonable or intelligent
action on the part of him who did it, however fortunate might be its
result. Instinctive actions, then, hold a middle place between (1)
those which are rational, or truly intelligent, and (2) those in which
sensation has no place. But a great variety of actions of different
kinds occupy this intermediate position, and we must next proceed to
separate off from the others, such actions as may be deemed _truly_
instinctive.

M. Albert Lemoine, who has written the best treatise[3] known to us on
instinct and habit, distinguishes instinctive actions as those which
are neither due to mechanical or chemical causes, nor to intelligence,
experience, or will. They are actions which take place with a general
fixity and precision, are generally present in all the individuals of
each species, and can be perfectly performed the very first time their
action is called for, so that they cannot be due to habit. Instinct, he
very truly says, is more than a want and less than a desire. Instinct
is a certain felt internal stimulus to definite actions which has its
foundation in a certain sense of want, but is not definite feeling of
want of the particular end to be attained. Were that recognised, it
would not be _instinct_, but _desire_. It is but a vague craving to
exercise certain activities the exercise of which conduces to useful
or needful, but unforeseen, end. Instinct often sets in motion organs
quite different from those which feel the prick of want, and which
do not (experience apart) seem to have relation with it. Hunger does
not stimulate to action the organs of digestion which suffer from it,
but excites the limbs and jaws to perform acts by which food may be
obtained and eaten. In examining into instinct, we must be careful not
to omit the consideration of it as it exists in man, since we can know
no creature so well as we can, by the help of language and reflection,
know ourselves and our own species. Nevertheless, it may be well to
begin by calling attention to certain apparently undeniable cases of
instinct in other animals, since in them instinct is much more apparent
and complex than in man, in whom it is indeed reduced to a minimum.
It might naturally be expected to be so reduced in him—if it is a
power serving to bridge over the gulf which exists between such almost
mechanical action as reflex action, and true intelligence—since in
man acts of intelligence, or habits originated through intelligence,
come so constantly into play. But before enumerating cases of animal
instinct, a word should be said as to one character which M. Lemoine
attributes to instinctive action, namely, “consciousness,” This term
is an exceedingly ambiguous one, as it is often referred, not only
to our distinct intellectual perception of our own being and acts,
but also to every state of feeling however rudimentary it may be. I
would therefore avoid the use of so equivocal a term, while fully
admitting that no sensation in any animal is possible without some
subjective psychical state analogous to what I have before denominated
“consentience.” Now, as to the lower animals: birds unquestionably
possess instinctive powers. Chickens, two minutes after they have left
the egg,[4] will follow with their eyes the movements of crawling
insects, and peck at them, judging distance and direction with almost
infallible accuracy. They will instinctively appreciate sounds, readily
running towards an invisible hen hidden in a box, when they hear her
“call.” Some young birds, also, have an innate, instinctive horror of
the sight of a hawk and of the sound of its voice. Swallows, titmice,
tomtits, and wrens, after having been confined from birth, are capable
of flying successfully at once, when liberated, on their wings having
attained the necessary growth to render flight possible. The Duke of
Argyll[5] relates some very interesting particulars about the instincts
of birds, especially of the water ousel, the merganser, and the wild
duck. Even as to the class of beasts I find recorded:[6] “Five young
polecats were found comfortably embedded in dry withered grass; and
in a side hole, of proper dimensions for such a larder, were forty
frogs and two toads, all alive, but merely capable of sprawling a
little. On examination the whole number, toads and all, proved to have
been purposely and dexterously bitten through the brain.” Evidently
the parent polecat had thus provided the young with food which could
be kept perfectly fresh, because alive, and yet was rendered quite
unable to escape. This singular instinct is like others which are yet
more fully developed amongst insects—a class of animals the instincts
of which are so numerous, wonderful, and notorious that it will be,
probably, enough to refer to one or two examples. The female carpenter
bee, in order to protect her eggs, excavates, in some piece of wood,
a series of chambers, in special order with a view to a peculiar mode
of exit for her young: but the young mother can have no conscious
knowledge of the series of actions subsequently to ensue. The female
of the wasp, _sphex_, affords another well-known but very remarkable
example of a complex instinct closely related to that already mentioned
in the case of the polecat. The female wasp has to provide fresh,
living animal food for her progeny, which, when it quits its egg,
quits it in the form of an almost helpless grub, utterly unable to
catch, retain, or kill an active, struggling prey. Accordingly the
mother insect has only to provide and place beside her eggs suitable
living prey, but so to treat it that it may be a helpless, unresisting
victim. That victim may be a mere caterpillar, or it may be a great,
powerful grasshopper, or even that most fierce, active, and rapacious
of insect tyrants, a fell and venomous spider. Whichever it may be, the
wasp adroitly stings it at the spot which induces, or in the several
spots which induce, complete paralysis as to motion, let us hope as to
sensation also. This done, the wasp entombs the helpless being with
its own egg, and leaves it for the support of the future grub. Another
species feeds her young one from time to time with fresh food, visiting
at suitable intervals the nest she has made and carefully covered
and concealed with earth, which she removes and replaces, as far as
necessary, at each visit. If the opening be made ready for her, this,
instead of helping her to get at her young, altogether puzzles her, and
she no longer seems to recognise her young, thus showing how thoroughly
“instinctive” her proceedings are. Other instances of instinct, such as
those of the stag-beetle and emperor moth, I will refer to presently.
But most wonderful, perhaps, of all are the instincts of social
insects, such as bees, where there are not only males and females, but
a large population of practically neuter insects, the special instincts
and peculiarities of which have of course to be transmitted, not
directly by an antecedent set of neuter animals, but by females, the
instincts and peculiarities of which are very different from those of
the neutral portion of their progeny.

 [3] _L’Habitude et l’Instinct._ Baillière. Paris. 1875.

 [4] As Mr. Spalding has shown. To him I am indebted for the other
 facts about young birds given in the text.

 [5] _The Unity of Nature_, chap. iii.

 [6] See _Magazine of Natural History_, vol. iv. p. 206.

The instincts we have hitherto noticed, and, I may say briefly, the
instincts of animals generally, are destined to subserve two functions,
(1) the preservation and, mainly, the nutrition, of the individual,
and (2) the reproduction of the species. Armed with the facts we have
now noticed, let us turn to consider instinct as it displays itself in
ourselves. As one example, there is the instinct action by which an
infant first sucks the nipple, and then swallows the thence-extracted
nourishment with which its mouth is filled. This action must be
reckoned as instinctive, because it is done directly after birth, when
there has been no time for learning to perform the action; it is one
absolutely necessary for the life of the infant; it is an action which
is definite and precise, similarly performed by all the individuals
of the species, though effected by a very complex mechanism, and is
effected prior to experience. Yet it is not as mechanical as reflex
action, for not only sensation, but consentience, accompanies the act.
Thus sucking in man is an instinctive action, while spitting, on the
other hand, is an art. The latter is not necessary to life, and the
power of performing it is slowly acquired by experience, as are also
our powers of walking and feeding ourselves. But the action of sucking
in an adult human being is of course not instinctive; and because the
child learns to walk, it by no means follows that the insect learns to
fly. It is thus plain that actions may be instinctive in one animal and
not in another; or at one period of life in the same animal and not
at another. In a child, however, sucking, deglutition, inspiration,
and expiration are instinctive actions, as are also those by which
the products of excretion are removed from the body. The second class
of instincts, those which ensure the continuance of the race, show
themselves of course, only much later. Yet, long before the little girl
can represent to herself future tributes to her charms, she seeks to
decorate her tiny body with the arts of infant coquetry. Still less
does she look forward to the pains and pleasures of maternity when she
begins to caress and chastise, to soothe and cherish, her first doll,
and fondly presses it to that region whence her future offspring will
draw its nourishment. Again, when the lapse of a few years having made
her a young woman and the boy a youth, they first feel the influence
of love, however ignorant they may be of the physiology of their
race, they will none the less, circumstances permitting, be surely
impelled towards the performance of very definite actions. In the more
refined individuals of the highest races of mankind, the material,
merely animal, consummation of sexual love is most certainly far from
being the one great end distinctly looked forward to by each pair of
lovers. Yet every incident of affectionate intercourse, every tender
glance, every contact of hand or lip, infallibly leads on towards the
one useful end, indispensable to the race, which nature has in view.
Such actions fully merit to be called “instinctive.” Indeed the act of
generation is ministered to in nature by the most manifold, imperious,
general, and inexplicable of all the instincts, and its instinctive
character is the most strongly marked of all. It has emphatically for
its origin a rigorously determined and precise want, partly painful,
partly pleasurable—a mixture of a feeling of privation with a sense of
power. Its end is unknown to the agent, or if known is disregarded, and
in almost all animals it demands the concurrent and reciprocal action
of two diverse organisms. If anyone would deny that it is instinctive
in man, I would advise him to study the sad phenomena connected
therewith which may be observed in our asylums for the insane.

There are other human actions which are sometimes reckoned as
instinctive, such as guarding the eye against injury by suddenly
closing the eyelids. This action, however, appears to be an acquired
art, though the habitual act of winking to keep clean the surface of
the eye may be instinctive. Some other actions, however, not generally
regarded as instinctive, I should be disposed so to regard. Such
are the first _active_ exercises of the senses of seeing, hearing,
smelling, tasting, and feeling (the first “looking,” the first
“listening,” etc.) which the child performs at the very beginning of
its learning to perform them. It would seem, then, as if no one could
deny the existence of such a thing as instinct, and yet it has been
denied, not only in recent times, but centuries ago. Thus Montaigne
sought to explain instinct as but a form of intelligence, while
Descartes taught that it was but mechanism. Condillac regarded it as
the result of individual experience, and Lemarck considered it to be
merely “habit” which had become hereditary. In our own day Darwin has
sought to explain it as partly the result of accidental variations
of activity, which variations have become naturally selected, and
partly the result of intelligent, purposive action which has become
habitual and inherited. Let us consider these attempts at explanation
seriatim. First as to mechanism: This is an hypothesis no one at
present entertains, as everyone now credits animals with sensitivity.
Moreover, instincts are not absolutely invariable, but are modifiable
according to the degree of “intelligence” which animals possess. They
cannot, therefore, be due merely to a mechanism. The attempt to explain
“Instinct” by mere “reflex action” is equivalent to an attempt to
explain a phenomenon by omitting its most striking characteristic. In
“reflex action” we have a sudden response to a stimulus, which response
is more or less purposive as regards the time of its occurrence, but
has no reference to future events to occur long after the faintest
waves of the stimulating action have died out. The very essence of
“instinct,” however, _is_ to provide for a more or less distant future,
often, as we have seen, the future of another generation. It is
essentially _telic_, and directed to a future unforeseen, but generally
useful, end. This explanation, then, is fundamentally and necessarily
inadequate. It is like an explanation of the building of a house, by
“bricks, mortar, bricklayers, and hodmen,” with the omission of all
reference to any influence governing their motions and directing them
towards a common and predetermined end which is not theirs. But though
we cannot _explain_ “instinct” by “reflex action,” there is none the
less a certain obvious affinity between these two forms of animal
activity, and it is in part my object to point out the nature of this
very affinity.

Next we may pass in review the two hypotheses that instinct is but
(1) a form of intelligence, or (2) individual experience. As to the
first, I have already given instances of unquestionably instinctive
actions performed by birds as soon as they quit the eggshell, and it
would be but waste of time to argue against the view that the human
infant is guided by intelligent purpose and conscious foresight in
his very first acts of sucking, swallowing, and defecation. Actual
intelligence, therefore, is a radically insufficient explanation,
as also, for the very same reasons, is Condillac’s hypothesis as to
individual experience. About “lapsed intelligence” I will speak later
on. Lemarck’s hypothesis, that instinct is but inherited habit, is
one which is much more worthy of careful consideration than any we
have yet considered. For it may be admitted at once that habits may
be inherited. There are many instances of such inheritance in human
beings, and as regards the lower animals, the barking of dogs may be
taken as an instance of a habit thus perpetuated. In fact “habit,” when
inherited, so simulates instinct, that their confusion is far from
surprising. There is, however, this radical difference between them:
“habit” enables an agent to repeat with facility and precision an act
which has been done before, but “instinct” determines with precision
the first performance of such act. Referring instinct to habit, but
temporarily relieves the difficulty of those who object to instinct,
by putting it a step back. It is impossible to believe that any of the
progenitors of an infant of to-day first acquired, during his or her
lifetime, the habit of sucking, or that the habits of neuter insects
thus arose. But after all, if we _could_ explain “instinct” by “habit,”
should we thereby make the phenomena less mysterious? “Habit” is due
to an internal spontaneity of living things. A living thing no doubt
requires some internal solicitation, in order that it should move, but
when it does move that movement is _its own_. All living organisms tend
to act. With them action is not only their nature, ’tis a want; and,
within limits, their powers and energies increase with action, and
diminish and finally perish through repose. The power of generating any
“habits,” lies in the very first act of the kind an organism performs,
and it is only the first act which owes nothing to habit. If such were
not the case, an act might be performed a thousand times and yet not
generate habit. It is this mysterious internal active tendency which
distinguishes all living organisms from inorganic bodies. The latter
tend simply to persist as they are, and have no relations with the
past or the future. They have, therefore, no relations with time at
all—for the actual present ever evades us. Organisms, on the other
hand, which are permanently more or less changed, through habit, by
every new motion and sensation, have their future prepared by their
past, and thus, as it were, at every present moment they live both
in the past and in the future, a mode of existence which attains its
fullest development in the highest living organism—man, the creature
looking before and after! Thus those who would do away with mystery in
nature would gain little by explaining instinct through habit, though,
as we have seen, the phenomena presented to us by the human infant and
by neuter insects absolutely bar any such explanation. Moreover, the
attempt to explain “instinct” through “inheritance” is a contradiction,
since “inheritance” supposes something already obtained, otherwise it
could not be transmitted. So far, then, from “hereditary transmission”
explaining “instinct,” instinct, in whatever remote ancestor it first
arose, must have been a violation of the law of hereditary transmission.

Now as to “lapsed intelligence:” This hypothesis assumes that a
conscious deliberate, discriminating faculty must have once been
exercised by wasps, bees, ants, and other much more lowly animals,
in the performance of all those actions which are now instinctive.
But could the adult female insect be supposed to foresee the future
needs of her progeny, often so totally different from her own wants?
It would surely be too much to ask us to believe that she could
distinctly recollect all her past experience as a chrysalis and as a
grub from the moment she first quitted the egg. Can we suppose that
the generative acts of male insects, such as bees, could have been due
to deliberate and rational choice, when every such act is necessarily
fatal to him who performs it?

Nevertheless, persuaded as I am that “lapsed intelligence” will not
explain “instinct” generally, I should be the last to deny that certain
apparently instinctive actions may be so explained, and I fully admit
that intelligent action in ourselves does tend to become practically
though not really instinctive. It is, moreover, very fortunate for
us that such is the case, as thereby we are saved great mental
friction. Our intellect has first to be laboriously applied to learn
what afterwards becomes almost automatic, as the actions of reading,
writing, etc. Sensations and bodily actions having been duly kneaded
together, the intellect becomes free to withdraw and apply itself to
other work—fresh conquests of mere animality—leaving the organism to
carry on automatically the new faculties thus acquired. Were it not for
this power which we have of withdrawing our attention, our intellect
would be absorbed and wasted in the merest routine work, instead of
being set free to appropriate and render practically instinctive, a
continually wider and more important range of deliberate purposive
actions. We come now to the sixth and last attempt to explain instinct,
namely, Mr. Darwin’s attempt. He has recognised the futility of
seeking to explain many instinctive actions in any of the modes we
have yet considered, and he has proposed, as before said, to explain
such residual instinctive phenomena by the play of natural selection,
_i.e._ of the destructive forces of nature upon small, accidental
abnormalities of action on the part of individuals of a species; such
abnormalities, when favorable to the existence of the individual, being
preserved and perpetuated by the destruction of the other individuals
of the same species who adhered to their ancestral tendencies. But
this proposed explanation is not an explanation of the _origin_ of
instincts, but only of the changes and transformations of instincts
already acquired. But putting back the date or modifying the form
of the original instinct, in no way alters the essential nature of
instincts or diminishes its mystery. Let us look at one or two strong
cases of instinct, and see if it is credible that they should be
due to mere accidental, haphazard, minute changes in habits already
acquired. In the first place, there is the wonderful instinct of the
duck, which feigns to have an injured wing, in order to entice a dog
away from the pursuit of her ducklings. Is it conceivable that such an
act was first done by pure accident, and that the descendants of her
who so acted, having inherited the tendency, have been alone selected
and preserved? Again, there is the case of the wasp, sphex, which
stings spiders, caterpillars, and grasshoppers exactly in the spot, or
spots, where their nervous ganglia lie, and so paralyses them. Even
the strongest advocate of the intelligence of insects would not affirm
that the mother sphex has a knowledge of the comparative anatomy of the
nervous system of these very diversely formed insects. According to
the doctrine of natural selection, either an ancestral wasp must have
accidentally stung them each in the right places, and so our sphex of
to-day is the naturally selected descendant of a line of insects which
inherited this lucky tendency to sting different insects differently,
but always in the exact situation of their nervous ganglia; or else
the young of the ancestral sphex originally fed on dead food, but the
offspring of some individuals who happened to sting their prey so
as to paralyse but not kill them, were better nourished and so the
habit grew. But the incredible supposition that the ancestor should
accidentally have acquired the habit of stinging different insects
differently, but always in the right spot, is not eliminated by the
latter hypothesis.

There is, again, the case of neuter insects and the highly complex
instincts of insects living in communities, such as bees, ants,
and termites. The Darwinian theory has the great advantage of only
needing for its support the suggestion of some possible utility in
each case; and as all structures and functions in nature have their
utility, the task is not a difficult one for an ingenious, patient,
and accomplished thinker. Yet Mr. Darwin, with all his ingenuity,
patience, and accomplishments, has been unable to suggest a rational
explanation for the accidental origin of these insect communities with
their marvellously complex instincts. I will confine myself to one more
instance of a highly noteworthy instinct, which no one has in any way
succeeded in explaining. The instance I refer to is that by which an
animal, when an enemy approaches, lies quite quiescent and apparently
helpless, an action often spoken of as “shamming death.” To evade the
force of this remarkable case of instinct, it has been objected that
the disposition of the limbs adopted by insects which thus act, is not
the same as that which the limbs assume when such insects are really
dead, and that all species are not when thus acting equally quiescent.
The first observation, however, does not concern the matter really
at issue. The remarkable thing is not that a helpless insect should
assume the position of its own dead, but that such a creature, instead
of trying to escape, should adopt a mode of procedure utterly hopeless
unless the enemy’s attention is thereby effectually eluded. It is
impossible that this instinct could have been gradually gained by the
elimination of all those individuals who did not practice it, for if
the quiescence, whether absolutely complete or not, were not sufficient
at once to make the creature elude observation, its destruction would
be only the more fully insured by such ineffectual quiescence. The
same argument applies to birds which seem to feign lameness or other
injury. Yet even if we could account for these cases, which as a fact
are as yet entirely unaccounted for, it would not do away with the need
of recognising the real existence and peculiar nature of instinct. It
would not do so on account both of man’s highest and of man’s lowest
instinctive powers. To speak first of the former: as instinct, such
as we have hitherto discovered, is the appointed bridge between mere
organic and intellectual animal life, so there is in man a further
development of instinct, peculiar to him, and serving to bridge over
the gulf between mere intelligent animal faculty and distinctly human
reflective intellectual activity. Such special intellectual instinct
is that which impels man to the external manifestation by voice or
gesture of the mental abstractions which his intellect spontaneously
forms, and which are not formed by the lower animals, which give no
evidence of this power of abstraction. Language could never have been
deliberately invented nor have arisen by a mere accidental individual
variation, for vocal and gesture signs are essentially conventional,
and require more or less comprehension on the part of those to whom
they are addressed as well as on the part of those who use them.
Analogous considerations apply to the first beginnings of what cannot
be reckoned as merely instinctive activities, but the origins of
which must have been akin to instincts. I refer to the beginnings of
literature, art, science and politics, which were never deliberately
invented. Even men who supposed they were inventing and constructing a
certain new order of things with full purpose and much intelligence,
have really been all the time so dominated by influences beyond their
consciousness, that they really evolved something very different from
what they supposed or intended. This fact has been most instructively
shown by De Tocqueville and Taine with respect to the men who promoted
and carried through the great French Revolution. So much, then, for
man’s highest instinctive powers: but our argument has no need to refer
to them, for a consideration of man’s lowest instinctive powers alone
suffices to show that they cannot be due to “natural selection,” even
when aided by “lapsed intelligence.” Can it be for a moment seriously
maintained that such actions of the infant as those of the sucking,
deglutition, and defecation, or the sexual instincts of later life,
ever arose through the accidental conservation of haphazard variations
of habit in ancestral animals? If it cannot be maintained, as I am
confident it cannot, then it is absolutely impossible successfully to
evade the difficulty of the existence of instinct. However far we may
put back the beginnings of instinct, the question as to its origin
(with its subsequent modifications) ever returns, and indeed with
increased importunity. How did the first sentient creatures obtain and
swallow their food? How did they first come to fecundate their ova
or suitably to deposit them? How did they first effect such movements
as might be necessary for their respiratory processes? Wherever such
phenomena first manifested themselves in sentient organisms, we are
compelled therein to recognise the manifest presence of instinct—the
appointed means (as before said) of bridging over the interval between
the purely vegetative functions and the intelligent activities of
sentient animal life. “Natural selection” is manifestly impotent to
account for the existence of such a faculty as that of “instinct.”
We have already seen that the hypothesis of “lapsed intelligence” is
also impotent to account for it. Thus the most recently attempted
explanation falls altogether to the ground. Nevertheless the theory of
evolution renders it necessary to assume that as new species of animals
were from time to time evolved, so also were new and appropriate
instincts. How then are we to account for the origin of such new
instincts? That a certain mystery attends such origin cannot be denied,
but a parallel mystery attends all other kinds of vital phenomena.
What can be more mysterious than the purely organic functions of
animals? Though not truly instinctive, they are full of unconscious
purpose, and so are akin to instinct. Our nutrition is a process of
self-generation by which the various bodies which constitute our food
become transformed into our own substance. This process is effected by
what is called assimilation, by which process the ultimate substance,
or parenchyma, of our own body and of the bodies transforms part of
what is immediately external to it, into the parenchyma itself. Again,
the process of secretion is, as it were, parallel to the process
of alimentation or nutrition. In secretion, the body extracts from
the blood new substances (the secretions) which do not exist _as
such_ within it. In nutrition, the body extracts from the blood new
substances (the various tissues) which do not exist _as such_ within
it. The blood is not the only source of our nutrition, since it has the
power of replenishing itself. Thus the living particles which form the
ultimate substance of our body exercise a certain power of choice with
respect to the contents of the fluids which come in contact with them.
Such particles are not passive bodies; they are active living agents,
and their action no one has yet really explained. Here, then, are a set
of activities which, if duly pondered over, will be found to be fully
as mysterious and inexplicable in their unconscious teleology as any
phenomena of instinct as ordinarily understood. But there is another
class of organic vital actions which also seem to have a decided
affinity both to reflex action and to instinct, though they are not
to be regarded as actual instances of either of these faculties. The
actions I refer to are those which bring about the repair of injuries
and the reproduction of lost parts. They are like reflex action
inasmuch as they take place in perfect unconsciousness and without the
will having any power over them. They are like instinct inasmuch as
they are directed towards a useful and unforeseen end. In the process
of healing and repair of a wounded part of the body, a fluid, perfectly
structureless substance, is secreted, or poured forth, from the parts
about the wound. In this substance, cells arise and become abundant;
so that the substance, at first structureless, becomes what is called
cellular tissue. Then, by degrees, this structure transforms itself
into vessels, tendons, nerves, bone, and membrane—into some or all
of such parts—according to the circumstances of the case. In a case
of broken bone, the two broken ends of the bone soften, the sharp
edges thus disappearing. Then a soft substance is secreted, and this
becomes at first gelatinous, often afterwards cartilaginous, and,
finally, osseous or bony. But not only do these different kinds of
substance—these distinct tissues—thus arise and develop themselves in
this neutral or, as it is called, “undifferentiated” substance, but
very complex structures, appropriately formed and nicely adjusted for
the performance of complex functions, may also be developed. We see
this in the production of admirably formed joints in parts which were
at first devoid of anything of the kind. I may quote, as an example,
the case of a railway guard, whose arm had been so injured that he
had been compelled to have the elbow with its joint cut out, but who
afterwards developed a new joint almost as good as the old one. In the
uninjured condition the outer bone of the lower arm—the radius—ends
above in a smooth-surfaced cup, which plays against part of the lower
end of the bone of the upper arm, or humerus, while its side also
plays against the side of the other bone of the lower arm, the ulna,
with the interposition of a cartilaginous surface. The radius and ulna
are united to the humerus by dense and strong membranes or ligaments,
which pass between it and them, anteriorly, posteriorly, and on each
side, and are attached to projecting processes, one on each side of
the humerus. Such was the condition of the parts which were removed by
the surgeon. Nine years after the operation the patient died, and Mr.
Syme had the opportunity of dissecting the arm, which in the meantime
had served the poor man perfectly well, he having been in the habit of
swinging himself by it from one carriage to another, while the train
was in motion, quite as easily and securely as with the other arm.
On examination, Mr. Syme found that the amputated end of the radius
had formed a fresh polished surface, and played both on the humerus
and the ulna, a material something like cartilage being interposed.
The ends of the bones of the forearm were locked in by two processes
projecting downwards from the humerus, and also strong lateral and
still stronger anterior and posterior ligaments again bound them fast
to the last-named bone.[7] It would be easy to bring forward a number
of more or less similar cases. The amount of reproduction of lost parts
which may take place in many of the lower animals is astonishing. Thus
the tails of lizards, if broken off, will grow again, and the limbs of
newts will be reproduced, with their bones, muscles, blood-vessels, and
nerves. Even the eye and the lower jaw have been seen to be reproduced
in the last-named animals. If certain worms be cut in two, each half
will become a perfect animal, the head producing a new tail, and the
tail a new head; and a worm called a _nais_ has been cut into as many
as twenty-five parts with a like result. But the most remarkable animal
for its power of repairing injuries is the fresh-water hydra, almost
any fragment of which will, under favorable circumstances, grow into a
new and entire fresh animal. It is also a notorious and very noteworthy
fact that, in both man and the lower animals, the processes of repair
take place the more readily the younger the age of the injured
individual may be. But these unconscious but practically teleological
processes of repair, are often preceded by actions which everyone would
call instinctive.

 [7] See Mr. Timothy Holmes’s _System of Surgery_, 3rd edit. vol. iii.
 p. 746.

There is yet another class of organic vital actions to which I must
advert, which are at once utterly unconscious, while the fact that
they are directed to a distinct end is indisputable; in fact they are
purposive in the very highest degree that any unconscious actions can
be purposive. They are the actions of true reproduction, and they
come before us naturally here, since a consideration of the process
of remedial reproduction in the individual, naturally leads us on
to the consideration _of the reproduction of the species itself_.
In the cases of the frog and the butterfly, everyone knows that the
creature which comes forth from the egg is very different from the
parent. Animals, in fact, mostly attain their adult condition by
passing through a series of development changes; only as a rule that
series is not abruptly interrupted by plainly marked pauses, as it is
in the frog and butterfly, and, therefore, such changes, instead of
being obvious, are only to be detected with difficulty and through
patient research. Almost every animal thus goes through a series of
very remarkable changes during its individual process of development
or, as it is called, during its “ontogeny.” This process, in its
perfect unconsciousness, is like reflex action, but it is far more
wonderful, since in the earliest stages even nerve-tissue is absent and
has itself to be formed. In the accuracy of its direction towards a
useful end, it is the very counterpart of the most developed instinct;
nor, if the impulses by which adult individuals are led to seek and
to perform those processes which give rise to the embryo, are to
be called instinctive, is it easy to see how the analogical use of
the term “instinctive” can be refused to that impulse by which each
developing embryo is led to go through those processes which give
rise to the adult. The action of each organism during its individual
development may be compared, and has evidently much affinity with, the
processes of nutrition and the repair and reproduction of parts lost
through some injury. These processes of nutrition and repair have also
evidently a close relation to reflex action and reflex action has also
a close affinity to instinctive action. Instead, however, of explaining
“instinct” by “reflex action,” I would rather explain reflex action,
processes of nutrition, processes of repair, processes of individual
development, by instinct—using this term in a wide analogical sense.
For we know the wonderful action and nature of instinct as it exists
in our own human activity, standing, as it were, at the head of the
various unconsciously intelligent vital processes. These processes
seem to me to be all diverse manifestations of what is fundamentally
one kind of activity. Of these manifestations, instinctive action is
the best type, because by it we can, to a certain extent, understand
the others, whereas none of the others enable us to understand
instinct.—_Fortnightly Review._



A VERY OLD MASTER.


The work of art which lies before me is old, unquestionably old; a good
deal older, in fact, than Archbishop Ussher (who invented all out of
his own archiepiscopal head the date commonly assigned for the creation
of the world) would by any means have been ready to admit. It is a
bas-relief by an old master, considerably more antique in origin than
the most archaic gem or intaglio in the Museo Borbonico at Naples, the
mildly decorous Louvre in Paris, or the eminently respectable British
Museum, which is the glory of our own smoky London in the spectacled
eyes of German professors, all put together. When Assyrian sculptors
carved in fresh white alabaster the flowing curls of Sennacherib’s
hair, just like a modern coachman’s wig, this work of primæval art was
already hoary with the rime of ages. When Memphian artists were busy in
the morning twilight of time with the towering coiffure of Ramses or
Sesostris, this far more ancient relic of plastic handicraft was lying,
already fossil and forgotten, beneath the concreted floor of a cave
in the Dordogne. If we were to divide the period for which we possess
authentic records of man’s abode upon this oblate spheroid into ten
epochs—an epoch being a good high-sounding word which doesn’t commit
one to any definite chronology in particular—then it is probable that
all known art, from the Egyptian onward, would fall into the tenth of
the epochs thus loosely demarcated, while my old French bas-relief
would fall into the first. To put the date quite succinctly, I should
say it was most likely about 244,000 years before the creation of Adam
according to Ussher.

The work of the old master is lightly incised on reindeer horn, and
represents two horses, of a very early and heavy type, following
one another, with heads stretched forward, as if sniffing the air
suspiciously in search of enemies. The horses would certainly excite
unfavorable comment at Newmarket. Their “points” are undoubtedly coarse
and clumsy: their heads are big, thick, stupid, and ungainly; their
manes are bushy and ill-defined; their legs are distinctly feeble and
spindle-shaped; their tails more closely resemble the tail of the
domestic pig than that of the noble animal beloved with a love passing
the love of women by the English aristocracy. Nevertheless there is
little (if any) reason to doubt that my very old master did, on the
whole, accurately represent the ancestral steed of his own exceedingly
remote period. There were once horses even as is the horse of the
prehistoric Dordognian artist. Such clumsy, big-headed brutes, dun in
hue and striped down the back like modern donkeys, did actually once
roam over the low plains where Paris now stands, and browse off lush
grass and tall water-plants around the quays of Bordeaux and Lyons. Not
only do the bones of the contemporary horses, dug up in caves, prove
this, but quite recently the Russian traveller Prjevalsky (whose name
is so much easier to spell than to pronounce) has discovered a similar
living horse, which drags on an obscure existence somewhere in the high
table-lands of Central Asia. Prjevalsky’s horse (you see, as I have
only to write the word, without uttering it, I don’t mind how often or
how intrepidly I use it) is so singularly like the clumsy brutes that
sat, or rather stood, for their portraits to my old master that we
can’t do better than begin by describing him _in propria persona_.

The horse family of the present day is divided, like most other
families, into two factions, which may be described for variety’s sake
as those of the true horses and the donkeys, these latter including
also the zebras, quaggas, and various other unfamiliar creatures whose
names, in very choice Latin, are only known to the more diligent
visitors at the Sunday Zoo. Now everybody must have noticed that the
chief broad distinction between these two great groups consists in the
feathering of the tail. The domestic donkey, with his near congeners,
the zebra and co., have smooth short-haired tails, ending in a single
bunch or fly-whisk of long hairs collected together in a tufted bundle
at the extreme tip. The horse, on the other hand, besides having horny
patches or callosities on both fore and hind legs, while the donkeys
have them on the fore legs only, has a hairy tail, in which the long
hairs are almost equally distributed from top to bottom, thus giving
it its peculiarly bushy and brushy appearance. But Prjevalsky’s horse,
as one would naturally expect from an early intermediate form, stands
halfway in this respect between the two groups, and acts the thankless
part of a family mediator; for it has most of its long tail-hairs
collected in a final flourish, like the donkey, but several of them
spring from the middle distance, as in the genuine Arab, though never
from the very top, thus showing an approach to the true horsey habit
without actually attaining that final pinnacle of equine glory. So
far as one can make out from the somewhat rude handicraft of my
prehistoric Phidias the horse of the quaternary epoch had much the
same caudal peculiarity; his tail was bushy, but only in the lower
half. He was still in the intermediate stage between horse and
donkey, a natural mule still struggling up aspiringly toward perfect
horsehood. In all other matters the two creatures—the cave man’s horse
and Prjevalsky’s—closely agree. Both display large heads, thick necks,
coarse manes, and a general disregard of “points” which would strike
disgust and dismay into the stout breasts of Messrs. Tattersall. In
fact over a T.Y.C. it may be confidently asserted, in the pure Saxon of
the sporting papers, that Prjevalsky’s and the cave man’s lot wouldn’t
be in it. Nevertheless a candid critic would be forced to admit that,
in spite of clumsiness, they both mean staying.

So much for the two sitters; now let us turn to the artist who sketched
them. Who was he, and when did he live? Well, his name, like that of
many other old masters, is quite unknown to us; but what does that
matter so long as his work itself lives and survives? Like the Comtists
he has managed to obtain objective immortality. The work, after all, is
for the most part all we ever have to go upon. “I have my own theory
about the authorship of the Iliad and Odyssey,” said Lewis Carroll
(of “Alice in Wonderland”) once in Christ Church common room: “it is
that they weren’t really written by Homer, but by another person of
the same name.” There you have the Iliad in a nutshell as regards the
authenticity of great works. All we know about the supposed Homer (if
anything) is that he was the reputed author of the two unapproachable
Greek epics; and all we know directly about my old master, viewed
personally, is that he once carved with a rude flint flake on a
fragment of reindeer horn these two clumsy prehistoric horses. Yet
by putting two and two together we can make, not four, as might be
naturally expected, but a fairly connected history of the old master
himself and what Mr. Herbert Spencer would no doubt playfully term “his
environment.”

The work of art was dug up from under the firm concreted floor of a
cave in the Dordogne. That cave was once inhabited by the nameless
artist himself, his wife, and family. It had been previously tenanted
by various other early families, as well as by bears, who seem to have
lived there in the intervals between the different human occupiers.
Probably the bears ejected the men, and the men in turn ejected the
bears, by the summary process of eating one another up. In any case the
freehold of the cave was at last settled upon our early French artist.
But the date of his occupancy is by no means recent; for since he lived
there the long cold spell known as the Great Ice Age, or Glacial Epoch,
has swept over the whole of Northern Europe, and swept before it the
shivering descendants of my poor prehistoric old master. Now, how long
ago was the Great Ice Age? As a rule, if you ask a geologist for a
definite date, you will find him very chary of giving you a distinct
answer. He knows that chalk is older than the London clay, and the
oolite than the chalk, and the red marl than the oolite; and he knows
also that each of them took a very long time indeed to lay down, but
exactly how long he has no notion. If you say to him, “Is it a million
years since the chalk was deposited?” he will answer, like the old
lady of Prague, whose ideas were excessively vague, “Perhaps,” If you
suggest five millions, he will answer oracularly once more, “Perhaps;”
and if you go on to twenty millions, “Perhaps,” with a broad smile, is
still the only confession of faith that torture will wring out of him.
But in the matter of the Glacial Epoch, a comparatively late and almost
historical event, geologists have broken through their usual reserve
on this chronological question and condescended to give us a numerical
determination. And here is how Dr. Croll gets at it.

Every now and again, geological evidence goes to show us, a long cold
spell occurs in a northern or southern hemisphere. During these long
cold spells the ice cap at the poles increases largely, till it spreads
over a great part of what are now the temperate regions of the globe,
and makes ice a mere drug in the market as far south as Covent Garden
or the Halles at Paris. During the greatest extension of this ice
sheet in the last glacial epoch, in fact, all England except a small
south-western corner (about Torquay and Bournemouth) was completely
covered by one enormous mass of glaciers, as is still the case with
almost the whole of Greenland. The ice sheet, grinding slowly over the
hills and rocks, smoothed and polished and striated their surfaces
in many places till they resembled the _roches moutonnées_ similarly
ground down in our own day by the moving ice rivers of Chamouni and
Grindelwald. Now, since these great glaciations have occurred at
various intervals in the world’s past history, they must depend upon
some frequently recurring cause. Such a cause, therefore, Dr. Croll
began ingeniously to hunt about for.

He found it at last in the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit. This
world of ours, though usually steady enough in its movements, is at
times decidedly eccentric. Not that I mean to impute to our old and
exceedingly respectable planet any occasional aberrations of intellect,
or still less of morals (such as might be expected from Mars and
Venus); the word is here to be accepted strictly in its scientific or
Pickwickian sense as implying merely an irregularity of movement, a
slight wobbling out of the established path, a deviation from exact
circularity. Owing to a combination of astronomical revolutions, the
precession of the equinoxes and the motion of the aphelion (I am not
going to explain them here; the names alone will be quite sufficient
for most people; they will take the rest on trust)—owing to the
combination of these profoundly interesting causes, I say, there occur
certain periods in the world’s life when for a very long time together
(10,500 years, to be quite precise) the northern hemisphere is warmer
than the southern, or _vice versa_. Now Dr. Croll has calculated that
about 250,000 years ago this eccentricity of the earth’s orbit was
at its highest, so that a cycle of recurring cold and warm epochs in
either hemisphere alternately then set in; and such cold spells it
was that produced the Great Ice Age in Northern Europe. They went on
till about 80,000 years ago, when they stopped short for the present,
leaving the climate of Britain and the neighboring continent with its
existing inconvenient Laodicean temperature. And, as there are good
reasons for believing that my old master and his contemporaries lived
just before the greatest cold of the Glacial Epoch, and that his
immediate descendants, with the animals on which they feasted, were
driven out of Europe, or out of existence, by the slow approach of the
enormous ice sheet, we may, I think, fairly conclude that his date was
somewhere about B.C. 248,000. In any case we must at least admit, with
Mr. Andrew Lang, the laureate of the twenty-five thousandth century,
that

    He lived in the long long agoes;
    ’Twas the manner of primitive man.

The old master, then, carved his bas-relief in pre-Glacial Europe, just
at the moment before the temporary extinction of his race in France by
the coming on of the Great Ice Age. We can infer this fact from the
character of the fauna by which he was surrounded, a fauna in which
species of cold and warm climates are at times quite capriciously
intermingled. We get the reindeer and the mammoth side by side with
the hippopotamus and the hyena; we find the chilly cave bear and the
Norway lemming, the musk sheep and the Arctic fox in the same deposits
with the lion and the lynx, the leopard and the rhinoceros. The fact
is, as Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace has pointed out, we live to-day in a
zoologically impoverished world, from which all the largest, fiercest,
and most remarkable animals have lately been weeded out. And it was
in all probability the coming on of the Ice Age that did the weeding.
Our Zoo can boast no mammoth and no mastodon. The sabre-toothed lion
has gone the way of all flesh; the deinotherium and the colossal
ruminants of the Pliocene Age no longer browse beside the banks of
Seine. But our old master saw the last of some at least among those
gigantic quadrupeds; it was his hand or that of one among his fellows
that scratched the famous mammoth etching on the ivory of La Madelaine
and carved the figure of the extinct cave bear on the reindeer-horn
ornaments of Laugerie Basse. Probably, therefore, he lived in the
period immediately preceding the Great Ice Age, or else perhaps in one
of the warm interglacial spells with which the long secular winter
of the northern hemisphere was then from time to time agreeably
diversified.

And what did the old master himself look like? Well, painters have
always been fond of reproducing their own lineaments. Have we not the
familiar young Raffael, painted by himself, and the Rembrandt, and the
Titian, and the Rubens, and a hundred other self-drawn portraits, all
flattering and all famous? Even so primitive man has drawn himself many
times over, not indeed on this particular piece of reindeer horn, but
on several other media to be seen elsewhere, in the original or in good
copies. One of the best portraits is that discovered in the old cave
at Laugerie Basse by M. Elie Massénat, where a very early pre-Glacial
man is represented in the act of hunting an aurochs, at which he is
casting a flint-tipped javelin. In this as in all other pictures of the
same epoch I regret to say that the ancient hunter is represented in
the costume of Adam before the fall. Our old master’s studies, in fact,
are all in the nude. Primitive man was evidently unacquainted as yet
with the use of clothing, though primitive woman, while still unclad,
had already learnt how to heighten her natural charms by the simple
addition of a necklace and bracelets. Indeed, though dresses were still
wholly unknown, rouge was even then extremely fashionable among French
ladies, and lumps of the ruddle with which primitive woman made herself
beautiful for ever are now to be discovered in the corner of the cave
where she had her little prehistoric boudoir. To return to our hunter,
however, who for aught we know to the contrary may be our old master
himself in person, he is a rather crouching and semi-erect savage, with
an arched back, recalling somewhat that of the gorilla, a round head,
long neck, pointed beard, and weak, shambling, ill-developed legs. I
fear we must admit that pre-Glacial man cut, on the whole, a very sorry
and awkward figure.

Was he black? That we don’t certainly know, but all analogy would lead
one to answer positively, Yes. White men seem, on the whole, to be a
very recent and novel improvement on the original evolutionary pattern.
At any rate he was distinctly hairy, like the Ainos, or aborigines
of Japan, in our own day, of whom Miss Isabella Bird has drawn so
startling and sensational a picture. Several of the pre-Glacial
sketches show us lank and gawky savages with the body covered with
long scratches, answering exactly to the scratches which represent
the hanging hair of the mammoth, and suggesting that man then still
retained his old original hairy covering. The few skulls and other
fragments of skeletons now preserved to us also indicate that our
old master and his contemporaries much resembled in shape and build
the Australian black fellows, though their foreheads were lower and
more receding, while their front teeth still projected in huge fangs,
faintly recalling the immense canines of the male gorilla. Quite apart
from any theoretical considerations as to our probable descent (or
ascent) from Mr. Darwin’s hypothetical “hairy arboreal quadrumanous
ancestor,” whose existence may or may not be really true, there can be
no doubt that the actual historical remains set before us pre-Glacial
man as evidently approaching in several important respects the higher
monkeys.

It is interesting to note too that while the Men of the Time still
retained (to be frankly evolutionary) many traces of the old
monkey-like progenitor, the horses which our old master has so cleverly
delineated for us on his scrap of horn similarly retained many traces
of the earlier united horse-and-donkey ancestor. Professor Huxley has
admirably reconstructed for us the pedigree of the horse, beginning
with a little creature from the Eocene beds of New Mexico, with five
toes to each hind foot, and ending with the modern horse, whose
hoof is now practically reduced to a single and solid-nailed toe.
Intermediate stages show us an Upper Eocene animal as big as a fox,
with four toes on his front feet and three behind; a Miocene kind as
big as a sheep, with only three toes on the front foot, the two outer
of which are smaller than the big middle one; and finally a Pliocene
form, as big as a donkey, with one stout middle toe, the real hoof,
flanked by two smaller ones, too short by far to reach the ground. In
our own horse these lateral toes have become reduced to what are known
by veterinaries as splint bones, combined with the canon in a single
solidly morticed piece. But in the pre-Glacial horses the splint bones
still generally remained quite distinct, thus pointing back to the
still earlier period when they existed as two separate and independent
side toes in the ancestral quadruped. In a few cave specimens, however,
the splints are found united with the canons in a single piece, while
conversely horses are sometimes, though very rarely, born at the
present day with three-toed feet, exactly resembling those of their
half-forgotten ancestor the Pliocene hipparion.

The reason why we know so much about the horses of the cave period
is, I am bound to admit, simply and solely because the man of the
period ate them. Hippophagy has always been popular in France; it was
practised by pre-Glacial man in the caves of Périgord, and revived
with immense enthusiasm by the gourmets of the Boulevards after the
siege of Paris and the hunger of the Commune. The cave men hunted and
killed the wild horse of their own times, and one of the best of their
remaining works of art represents a naked hunter attacking two horses,
while a huge snake winds itself unperceived behind close to his heel.
In this rough prehistoric sketch one seems to catch some faint antique
foreshadowing of the rude humor of the “Petit Journal pour Rire.” Some
archæologists even believe that the horse was domesticated by the cave
men as a source of food, and argue that the familiarity with its form
shown in the drawings could only have been acquired by people who knew
the animal in its domesticated state; they declare that the cave man
was obviously horsey. But all the indications seem to me to show that
tame animals were quite unknown in the age of the cave men. The mammoth
certainly was never domesticated; yet there is a famous sketch of the
huge beast upon a piece of his own ivory, discovered in the cave of
La Madelaine by Messrs. Lartet and Christy, and engraved a hundred
times in works on archæology, which forms one of the finest existing
relics of pre-Glacial art. In another sketch, less well known, but
not unworthy of admiration, the early artist has given us with a few
rapid but admirable strokes his own reminiscence of the effect produced
upon him by the sudden onslaught of the hairy brute, tusks erect and
mouth wide open, a perfect glimpse of elephantine fury. It forms a
capital example of early impressionism, respectfully recommended to the
favorable attention of Mr. J. M. Whistler.

The reindeer, however, formed the favorite food and favorite model
of the pre-Glacial artists. Perhaps it was a better sitter than the
mammoth; certainly it is much more frequently represented on these
early prehistoric bas-reliefs. The high-water mark of palæolithic art
is undoubtedly to be found in the reindeer of the cave of Thayngen, in
Switzerland, a capital and spirited representation of a buck grazing,
in which the perspective of the two horns is better managed than a
Chinese artist would manage it at the present day. Another drawing of
two reindeer fighting, scratched on a fragment of schistose rock and
unearthed in one of the caves of Périgord, though far inferior to the
Swiss specimen in spirit and execution, is yet not without real merit.
The perspective, however, displays one marked infantile trait, for
the head and legs of one deer are seen distinctly through the body of
another. Cave bears, fish, musk sheep, foxes, and many other extinct or
existing animals are also found among the archaic sculptures. Probably
all these creatures were used as food; and it is even doubtful whether
the artistic troglodytes were not also confirmed cannibals. To quote
Mr. Andrew Lang once more on primitive man, “he lived in a cave by the
seas; he lived upon oysters and foes.” The oysters are quite undoubted
and the foes may be inferred with considerable certainty.

I have spoken of our old master more than once under this rather
question-begging style and title of primitive man. In reality, however,
the very facts which I have here been detailing serve themselves
to show how extremely far our hero was from being truly primitive.
You can’t speak of a distinguished artist, who draws the portraits
of extinct animals with grace and accuracy, as in any proper sense
primordial. Grant that our good troglodytes were indeed light-hearted
cannibals; nevertheless they could design far better than the modern
Esquimaux or Polynesians, and carve far better than the civilized
being who is now calmly discoursing about their personal peculiarities
in his own study. Between the cave men of the pre-Glacial age and the
hypothetical hairy quadrumanous ancestor aforesaid there must have
intervened innumerable generations of gradually improving intermediate
forms. The old master, when he first makes his bow to us, naked and
not ashamed, in his Swiss or French grotto, flint scalpel in hand
and necklet of bear’s teeth dropping loosely on his hairy bosom, is
nevertheless in all essentials a completely evolved human being, with
a whole past of slowly acquired culture lying dimly and mysteriously
behind him. Already he had invented the bow with its flint-tipped
arrow, the neatly chipped javelin-head, the bone harpoon, the barbed
fish-hook, the axe, the lance, the dagger, and the needle. Already he
had learnt how to decorate his implements with artistic skill, and to
carve the handles of his knives with the figures of animals. I have no
doubt that he even knew how to brew and to distil; and he was probably
acquainted with the noble art of cookery as applied to the persons
of his human fellow creatures. Such a personage cannot reasonably be
called primitive; cannibalism, as somebody has rightly remarked, is the
first step on the road to civilisation.

No, if we want to get at genuine, unadulterated primitive man we must
go much further back in time than the mere trifle of 250,000 years,
with which Dr. Croll and the cosmic astronomers so generously provide
us for pre-Glacial humanity. We must turn away to the immeasurably
earlier fire-split flints which the Abbé Bourgeois—undaunted
mortal!—ventured to discover among the Miocene strata of the _calcaire
de Beauce_. Those flints, if of human origin at all, were fashioned
by some naked and still more hairy creature who might fairly claim to
be considered as genuinely primitive. So rude are they that, though
evidently artificial, one distinguished archæologist will not admit
they can be in any way human; he will have it that they were really the
handiwork of the great European anthropoid ape of that early period.
This, however, is nothing more than very delicate hair-splitting; for
what does it matter whether you call the animal that fashioned these
exceedingly rough and fire-marked implements a man-like ape or an
ape-like human being? The fact remains quite unaltered, whichever name
you choose to give to it. When you have got to a monkey who can light
a fire and proceed to manufacture himself a convenient implement, you
may be sure that man, noble man, with all his glorious and admirable
faculties—cannibal or otherwise—is lurking somewhere very close just
round the corner. The more we examine the work of our old master, in
fact, the more does the conviction force itself upon us that he was
very far indeed from being primitive—that we must push back the early
history of our race not for 250,000 winters alone, but perhaps for two
or three million years into the dim past of Tertiary ages.

But if pre-Glacial man is thus separated from the origin of the race
by a very long interval indeed, it is none the less true that he
is separated from our own time by the intervention of a vast blank
space, the space occupied by the coming on and passing away of the
Glacial Epoch. A great gap cuts him off from what we may consider as
the relatively modern age of the mound-builders, whose grassy barrows
still cap the summits of our southern chalk downs. When the great ice
sheet drove away palæolithic man—the man of the caves and the unwrought
flint axes—from Northern Europe, he was still nothing more than a naked
savage in the hunting stage, divinely gifted for art, indeed, but armed
only with roughly chipped stone implements, and wholly ignorant of
taming animals or of the very rudiments of agriculture. He knew nothing
of the use of metals—_aurum irrepertum spernere fortior_—and he had
not even learnt how to grind and polish his rude stone tomahawks to a
finished edge. He couldn’t make himself a bowl of sun-baked pottery,
and if he had discovered the almost universal art of manufacturing an
intoxicating liquor from grain or berries (for, as Byron, with too
great anthropological truth, justly remarks, “man, being reasonable,
_must_ get drunk”) he at least drank his aboriginal beer or toddy from
the capacious horn of a slaughtered aurochs. That was the kind of
human being who alone inhabited France and England during the later
pre-Glacial period.

A hundred and seventy thousand years elapse (as the play bills put
it), and then the curtain rises afresh upon neolithic Europe. Man
meanwhile, loitering somewhere behind the scenes in Asia or Africa (as
yet imperfectly explored from this point of view), had acquired the
important arts of sharpening his tomahawks and producing hand-made
pottery for his kitchen utensils. When the great ice sheet cleared
away he followed the returning summer into Northern Europe, another
man, physically, intellectually, and morally, with all the slow
accumulations of nearly two thousand centuries (how easily one writes
the words! how hard to realise them!) upon his maturer shoulders. Then
comes the age of what older antiquaries used to regard as primitive
antiquity—the age of the English barrows, of the Danish kitchen
middens, of the Swiss lake dwellings. The men who lived in it had
domesticated the dog, the cow, the sheep, the goat, and the invaluable
pig; they had begun to sow small ancestral wheat and undeveloped
barley; they had learnt to weave flax and wear decent clothing; in a
word, they had passed from the savage hunting condition to the stage of
barbaric herdsmen and agriculturists. That is a comparatively modern
period, and yet I suppose we must conclude with Dr. James Geikie
that it isn’t to be measured by mere calculations of ten or twenty
centuries, but of ten or twenty thousand years. The perspective of the
past is opening up rapidly before us; what looked quite close yesterday
is shown to-day to lie away off somewhere in the dim distance. Like our
palæolithic artists, we fail to get the reindeer fairly behind the ox
in the foreground, as we ought to do if we saw the whole scene properly
foreshortened.

On the table where I write there lie two paper weights, preserving
from the fate of the sibylline leaves the sheets of foolscap to which
this article is now being committed. One of them is a very rude flint
hatchet, produced by merely chipping off flakes from its side by
dexterous blows, and utterly unpolished or unground in any way. It
belongs to the age of the very old master (or possibly even to a
slightly earlier epoch), and it was sent me from Ightham, in Kent, by
that indefatigable unearther of prehistoric memorials, Mr. Benjamin
Harrison. That flint, which now serves me in the office of a paper
weight, is far ruder, simpler, and more ineffective than any weapon
or implement at present in use among the lowest savages. Yet with it,
I doubt not, some naked black fellow by the banks of the Thames has
hunted the mammoth among unbroken forests two hundred thousand years
ago and more; with it he has faced the angry cave bear and the original
and only genuine British lion (for everybody knows that the existing
mongrel heraldic beast is nothing better than a bastard modification of
the leopard of the Plantagenets). Nay, I have very little doubt in my
own mind that with it some æsthetic ancestor has brained and cut up for
use his next-door neighbor in the nearest cavern, and then carved upon
his well-picked bones an interesting sketch of the entire performance.
The Du Mauriers of that remote age, in fact, habitually drew their
society pictures upon the personal remains of the mammoth or the man
whom they wished to caricature in deathless bone-cuts. The other paper
weight is a polished neolithic tomahawk, belonging to the period of the
mound-builders, who succeeded the Glacial Epoch, and it measures the
distance between the two levels of civilisation with great accuracy. It
is the military weapon of a trained barbaric warrior as opposed to the
universal implement and utensil of a rude, solitary, savage hunter. Yet
how curious it is that even in the midst of this “so-called nineteenth
century,” which perpetually proclaims itself an age of progress, men
should still prefer to believe themselves inferior to their original
ancestors, instead of being superior to them! The idea that man has
risen is considered base, degrading, and positively wicked; the idea
that he has fallen is considered to be immensely inspiring, ennobling,
and beautiful. For myself, I have somehow always preferred the boast of
the Homeric Glaucus that we indeed maintain ourselves to be much better
men that ever were our fathers.—_Cornhill Magazine._



THE ORGANIZATION OF DEMOCRACY.

BY GOLDWIN SMITH.

In the Colonies, at least in Canada, there are a good many of us who
believe, not in the expansion of England, but in the multiplication
of Englands, and to whom Imperial Federation, or any scheme for the
political re-absorption of an adult and distant Colony into its Mother
Country, appears totally impracticable. Yet we regard the Mother
Country not only as the object of our filial affection and pride,
but as the centre of our civilization, feel a practical as well as a
sentimental interest in everything that touches her, and tremble at her
danger as at our own.

We look on from a distance, it is true; and though the cable transmits
to us the news, it does not, nor do even the newspapers and the
correspondents, transmit to us the mind of England. In this respect our
judgment may be at fault. On the other hand, we are out of the fray; we
stand clear of English parties; we care for nothing but the country;
we see, while those immediately engaged do not see, the heady current
of faction, ambition, chimerical aspiration, political fatalism, and
disunionist conspiracy hurrying the nation towards a bourne which all
the speakers and writers on the Franchise Bill and the Redistribution
Bill, by the vagueness of their speculations on the practical results,
proclaim to be unknown.

The electorate, that is to say, the government—at least the body by
which the government is appointed and its policy is determined—is
undergoing reconstruction on the largest scale. Yet we look in vain,
even in the speeches of the great statesman who is the author of these
measures, for any forecast of their practical effect, of the influence
which they will have on the character of government, or of the sort of
policy which they will produce. Able and impressive as the speeches may
be, there is little in them but philanthropy and arithmetic, neither
of which is politics. The effect of the Redistribution Bill especially
is evidently a matter of the merest conjecture. Lord Salisbury thinks
that it will act in one way, and Mr. Chamberlain that it will act in
another. The first considers it favorable to aristocratic reaction,
the second considers it favorable to authoritative democracy. The
Bill is a leap in the dark. In any case less important than that
of a reconstruction of the national institutions, safe experiments
would probably precede sweeping change. A new mode of paving would be
tried first in one or two streets; a new mode of cultivation would
be tried first in one or two fields. But if you proposed to try
the Redistribution Bill in one or two specimen districts, a chorus
of scornful reprobation would arise from all parties, sects, and
ambitions. Nor would any voices be louder than those of some who are
foremost in hailing the advent of political science, and preaching
the necessity of a scientific method in all things. This is not a
deliberation on the amendment of national institutions; it is a battle
of parties. Each party is seeking not so much to improve the government
as to make it the instrument of particular theories or passions. But
this surely is what a government, an executive government at least,
ought not to be. A government ought to be the impartial guardian for
the whole nation of law, order, property, personal rights, and the
public safety; while opinion is left to shape itself by discussion,
reach maturity, and at length impress itself on legislation. This
whole movement is pre-eminently the work of party, and inspired by its
passions. Reform in 1832 was really national; the nation earnestly
desired liberation from a corrupt oligarchy. But the subsequent
suffrage agitations have been mainly set on foot by the politicians for
the purposes of their party war.

Democracy has come. By all reflecting men its advent seems to be
acknowledged, by most it is welcomed as bringing, so far as we can see
or so far as experience, though chequered, informs us, an increase
of happiness to the masses of mankind, and therefore, in the highest
sense, to all. But it requires to be organized and regulated; otherwise
the end will be anarchy and, as the inevitable consequence of anarchy,
a relapse into a government of force. Republics, as we have more than
once seen, are capable of suicide. The people is no more divine than
kings, though its divinity was proclaimed by the Maratists; it is
capable of governing itself as wrongly as any king can govern it. The
ignorance, the passions, the self-interest, not only of particular
classes, but of all of us alike, need to be controlled, as far as
institutions can control them, and eliminated from the Councils of the
State. The Americans, as was said before, have tried to organize and
regulate democracy. The framers of the American Constitution—no veil
of illusion being spread before their eyes by the surviving forms and
names of an old monarchy—saw the problem which destiny had set before
them. It was not such a problem as would be presented to them by the
America of the present day, with its New York and its Chicago, its
flood of foreign immigrants, and its enfranchised negroes; far less
is it such a problem as Great Britain, with the populace of its great
cities, its host of Radical and Secularist artisans, its uninstructed
millions of farm laborers, and its disaffected Irishry presents to the
British statesman. They had to deal only with the Puritan freeholders
of New England and the planters of the South. Still they saw the
necessity of providing a solution, and a solution they produced—one
not in all respects correct, even in its day (for the mode adopted
of electing the President was a fatal error), yet effective as well
as deliberate, and such as has sufficed, notwithstanding the great
increase of the strain upon the machinery, to shelter civilization and
avert anarchy. They instituted an executive government invested with
actual power and existing independently of parties in Congress, a real
though suspensive veto, a Senate elected on a Conservative principle,
a written constitution in the keeping of a Supreme Court, by which
all powers and jurisdictions are strictly defined and limited, and
which can be amended only with the deliberate consent of the nation
at large. Besides, as was said before, the Federal system itself, by
localizing questions and breaking the sweep of agitation, has a highly
Conservative effect. These safeguards, with the political qualities
of the Anglo-Americans and the Germans, prevent a catastrophe which
without them would certainly come. But England has nothing like them.
She has nothing but an “ancient throne,” now stripped of the last
vestige of political power, and an aristocracy which is evidently
doomed, and, by its struggles to retain its obsolete privilege,
stimulates revolution. The only Conservative institution which is
really effective is the non-payment of Members of Parliament; and this
Democracy has already marked for abolition.

One could wish for a blast of the Fontarabian horn to awaken British
statesmen, in this decisive hour, to the fact that England, though she
has the consecrated form, has no longer the substance of monarchical
government. Her only government is the House of Commons, or a committee
of leaders of the dominant party, holding their offices during the
pleasure of that House. In the electorate is the supreme power; this
is now not only the fact but a recognized fact. Twice the Ministry,
after submitting its policy to the judgment of the constituencies by a
dissolution of Parliament, has resigned in deference to the verdict.
Yet these same statesmen go on dealing with the electorate as though
they were not dealing with the government or with the sovereign power,
but only with a representation of the people convened for the purpose
of assenting to taxation. They seem to fancy that flood the electorate
as they will with ignorance, passion, and all the elements of violence
and anarchy, the government will still be carried on calmly and wisely
by the occupant and the Ministers of the “ancient throne.” Is it
possible that the mere phrase “servants of the Crown” can cast such a
spell over practical minds?

Down to this time the political history of England has been a long
revolution, of which the Whig or Liberal party in its successive
phases has been the organ, and by which, after many oscillations
and vicissitudes, supreme power has been drawn from the Crown and
the aristocracy to the Commons. The destructive part of the process
is now all but complete, only a small remnant of precarious power
being retained by the House of Lords. The constructive part remains
to be performed. The task of British statesmen at the present day
is, in effect, to found a Democratic Government. The ground has been
cleared for the new edifice, but the edifice has yet to be built. Its
foundations have hardly yet been laid.

Without giving way to reactionary panic, it may surely be said that the
times are critical. They are not evil; they are full, on the contrary,
of the unripe promise of good; but they are critical. Statesmen cannot
afford to act blindfold. Democracy comes, as it was likely that it
would come, not by itself, but as part of a general revolution,
political, social, and religious. Nihilism marks, by its all-embracing
lust of destruction, the connection between the different revolutionary
forces, while it exhibits them in their delirious excess. The English
reform movement in the early part of the century was almost exclusively
political; other agitations were called into being by the general
disturbance, but they were secondary and subsided; the main object
sought was the removal of abuses in government; the leaders were strict
economists, and, far from seeking a social revolution, would have
recoiled from the idea. But a momentous change has taken place since
that time. The fermentation is now not only political but general.
Political power is sought by the masses and their leaders, not merely
for the sake of purifying the administration and reducing its cost,
but in the hope that it may be used to effect a great social change.
Secularism has become an important factor in the situation. Rate
religious influence, and that of faith in a future state as low as you
will, it can hardly be denied that the patience of the masses under the
inequalities of the social system has hitherto been largely sustained
by the belief that the system was a providential ordinance, and that
those who did their duty in it, even if they suffered here, would be in
some way made happy in the sum of things.

Nor has the doctrine of spiritual equality been without its effect in
consoling the lowly for their inferiority of rank. Hereafter scientific
conviction, derived from the study of the social organism, may supply
the place of religious impressions as a motive for acquiescence in
things as they are. At present it is the destructive process of science
that has almost exclusively taken place in the mind of the Radical
proletarian. Believing now that this world is all, he naturally
desires to grasp his full share of its good things without delay. His
sensibility having been quickened with his intelligence, he feels
inferiority as well as privation, and is impelled by social envy as
well as by desire. His education has advanced just far enough to enable
him to imbibe theories which coincide with his wishes. If he cannot
understand the fine reasonings of Mr. George, he can understand the
confiscation, and he thinks that so much fine reasoning must make the
confiscation moral. Communism and semi-communism are rife; there is a
tendency to them even at the Universities, and in other high places.
Perhaps the loss of faith in the Church leads some to see an indemnity
for it in a communistic polity. If there is not in England, as there
is in Germany, a strong Socialistic party, there appears to be a
growing disposition to make a Socialistic use of the suffrage. There is
certainly in many quarters an exaggerated idea of the powers and duties
of the fictitious being styled the State. One conspicuous candidate for
the succession to the leadership, at all events, is evidently holding
out hopes of a Socialistic system of high taxation for the benefit of
those who produce least, and he appears inclined to head a crusade
against the property of all landowners, and of all owners of houses
in towns. Nor is he without rivals in this quest of popularity on the
Tory side. The ball of agrarianism which has been set rolling by recent
legislation in Ireland, rolls on, and its course is not likely to stop
in Skye. All this may be working for good. The writer of this paper, at
all events, has no inclination to take the despondent view. But surely
there is enough to warn statesmen that they must exercise forecast,
that they must try, while they can, to secure to the nation a stable
and rational government; that they must not hastily divorce power from
intelligence and responsibility; that they must not plunge the country
headlong into unorganized and unregulated democracy. If this Parliament
comes to an end without having created any conservative safeguards,
while it has instituted a suffrage destined evidently soon to be
universal, the reins will have been thrown on the necks of the horses,
and the last leverage of Conservatism will be gone. M. Taine has just
shown us whither horses with the reins upon their necks may run, and
what wreck they may make of their own hopes. It is true that great
resignation, and even apathy, has been sometimes shown by the masses in
times of suffering from dearth. No doubt the masses move slowly; but
you incite them to move when you thrust into their hand the vote and
send among them people to teach them that by a violent use of it they
can raise themselves to the level of the rich. Able and powerful men
of the ruling class itself are now, either from philanthropy or from
party motives, doing their utmost to pave the way for a Socialistic
revolution.

Of all the calamities that ever befell the human race, the greatest
was the French Revolution. Wide, happily, is the difference between
the France of a century ago and the England of the present day. In the
case of England there is no Versailles, no deficit, no gulf between
the aristocracy and the middle classes; while there is diffused
intelligence instead of a night of political ignorance in which all
sorts of spectres stalked, general habits of self-government in
place of a paralyzing centralization, and a political character, as
we may flatter ourselves, stronger and sounder than was that of the
French. Still there are some points of similarity, especially the
dangerous conjunction of social or agrarian with political revolution.
In England, as in the France of the eighteenth century, scepticism
has gained the minds of the ruling class; with their convictions
their nerve is shaken, and it is difficult to see who would stop the
avalanche if once it should begin to slide. Nor is there wanting a
sybaritic Jacobinism which ominously reminds us of the Palais Royal.
Pleasure-hunting and frivolity, athletic and of other kinds, appear
to have reached a great height, and to public questions a sort of
careless fatalism seems to prevail. No doubt there is still plenty
of force and of seriousness in the country; but something like a
convulsion may be needed to bring them to the front. The masses in
France, though galled by the burdens of feudal lordship were not,
properly speaking, Socialistic. Socialism proper can hardly be said to
have shown its head before the conspiracy of Babœuf; and the nation was
still at the core monarchical and Catholic, as was proved by the ease
with which both monarchy and Church were restored by Napoleon. Should
the manufacturing and maritime supremacy of England be still more
severely challenged and continue to decline, an amount of suffering
might be produced among her people hardly less than was, in reality,
that of the people in France. If Socialistic legislation commences in
earnest, and, as the inevitable consequence, property begins to shrink
from circulation and investment, stoppage of industry and dearth of
bread cannot fail to ensue, and we know what the effects of these would
be in the middle of a Socialistic revolution. Much ought to be risked,
if there were real hope of equalizing, by any political action, the
human lot. But who seriously believes this to be possible? Who does not
know that the things which we deplore and are slowly mending will only
be made worse by convulsions?

Surely, if this work were in the hands of patriotic and comprehensive
statesmanship, not in those of party, there would be, instead of a
mere extension of the Franchise, a revision of the Constitution.
Before, by the admission of a large popular element, the strain upon
the conservative and regulative parts of the machine was increased,
those parts would be looked over and put in order; this question of the
Second Chamber would be settled, and if the result was a determination
to reform the House of Lords, that determination would be carried into
effect, and the institution would be placed in a condition to do its
work, before the next general election.

In a reform of the House of Lords it is difficult to feel any
confidence. The hereditary principle seems to be thoroughly dead. In
the Middle Ages it had a root in the faith and in the ignorance of
mankind; it had its temporary uses, and at the same time it had its
correctives. A mediæval lord was obliged to exert himself that his
lordship might not be taken by another. A mediæval king was obliged to
exert himself if he wished to keep his crown upon his head. Now, except
in the rare cases of men moulded of Nature’s finest clay, with whom
nobility acts really as an obligation, hereditary rank and wealth kill
duty in the cradle. It is found impossible to get a decent attendance
in the House of Lords. In answer to Lord Rosebery’s appeal, a Peer says
that he will be happy to attend if the nation will re-enact the Corn
Laws, so as to enable him to keep a house in town. To indulge a mere
whim, the hereditary wearers of the crown refuse to visit Ireland, and
thus fling away the affections of the Irish people. The historical
cause has been tried during this controversy and the issue is not
doubtful. We have seen how the House of Lords, since it assumed its
present character, which it did under the second Tudor, has worked.
That it has acted as a court of mature wisdom, revising on grounds
of impartial statesmanship the rash decisions of the popular House,
is as complete a fable as its Norman pedigree. It has simply opposed
the selfish resistance of a privileged order to change of every kind.
Could it have its way, not only Rotten Boroughs and Sinecurism, but the
old Criminal Code, Religious Intolerance, Arbitrary Imprisonment, the
Censorship of the Press, the Paper Duty, even Slavery and the Slave
Trade, would still be cumbering the earth; or, rather, long ago, the
nation would have been compelled to choose between political death and
revolution. To fear, on questions which caused national excitement, the
House of Lords has at last given way; but not to reason and justice. A
multitude of minor reforms it has strangled, by its obstructiveness,
altogether. The only great measure of change which this organ of
mature wisdom ever readily passed was the Franchise Bill of 1867,
which was described by its own author as a leap in the dark, and had
been devised with the view of swamping progressive intelligence in a
flood of ignorance and beer. Nor has obstruction been the only sin of
that order of which the House of Lords is the organ; it has given to
the general policy of England a class bias; it stimulated the crusade
against the French Revolution, and unlike the crusading Barons of the
Middle Ages, it stayed at home revelling in high rents and in a mass of
sinecures, of which it sacrificed not one penny, while the people bled
and starved in a cause which was not theirs. It has fostered militarism
generally as a diversion from domestic reform. On economic questions
the legislation of the Lords has been mere landlordism. As mere
landlords they have acted, from the day on which they sold the national
religion to the Pope for a quiet title to the Church lands, to the
day on which they passed the Arrears Bill, after showing their sense
of its character, in order that they might recover some of their back
rents. If twice in the course of their long history they have been for
a moment on the side of freedom, fear for their Church lands, combined
with jealousy of ecclesiastical favorites, was the cause. The period of
their most complete ascendency, in the last century, was the epoch of
political corruption; and the conduct of the House at the time of the
railway mania, when it formed a Ring in the landlord interest, was, to
say the least, not a proof that hereditary wealth lifts its possessor
above commercial motives. Many histories are darker than that of the
House of Lords; few are less heroic; and the facts are now deeply
imprinted on the minds of the people. Faith in the “noble blood” of the
scapegrace son of a law lord, once dissipated, is not likely to return.
The hereditary wealth itself, which is the real basis of aristocratic
influence, and without which the Peerage would be a thing of shreds and
patches, is reduced by agricultural depression, and will be greatly
broken up by the abolition of primogeniture and entail,—a change
which is sure to come, for it will be found that the only antidote to
agrarian communism is the free acquisition of land. The hereditary
principle is dead, and can serve England or civilized humanity no more.
Introduced into, or retained in, any Senate, it will carry with it the
seeds of death. As soon as it obeys, as obey it certainly will, its
obstructive instinct, the cry against it will be renewed. It will not
become less odious by becoming weaker. If the life element which it is
proposed to introduce remains antagonistic to the hereditary element,
the tribunal of mature wisdom will be divided against itself and fresh
conflicts will ensue. If it is assimilated, you will have the House of
Lords over again, and more odious than ever, since the life element
will be regarded as having apostatized and betrayed its trust.

Yet the whole theory of a Second Chamber as a necessary part of
Parliamentary institutions appears to have no other origin nor any
sounder basis than a mistaken view of the nature of the House of
Lords, which all the world has supposed to be a Senate, when in fact
it was an estate of the feudal realm, representing not a higher grade
of deliberative wisdom but simply the special interest of the great
landowners. The only valid argument in favor of the retention of the
House of Lords is, in fact, the difficulty which the Bicamerists find
in devising anything to be put in its place. Nomination is a total
failure; the nominated Senate of Canada is a legislative cypher, the
debates of which are not even reported, and the places in it are a mere
addition to the bribery fund of the party leader. If both Chambers are
elective, as in Victoria, the result is a collision and a deadlock,
out of which, in the case of sovereign assemblies, there would be no
colonial officer or governor to point a way. Co-option in any form,
or election by an order, would give us the oligarchy over again,
perhaps in a worse shape than ever, since the members would have to
cultivate the good graces of a privileged and reactionary electorate.
Not only as to the mode in which their Senate is to be elected are
the Bicamerists at fault; they are equally at fault as to the special
materials of which it is to be composed. If age or wealth is to be the
qualification, impotence or odium will be the result. If the wisest are
to have their seats in the Senate, the popular House will be deprived
of its best leaders. Supreme power must centre somewhere; it will
centre in that body which most directly represents the national will.
Let the assembly, then, which is the seat of supreme power, be the
seat of collective wisdom. Concentrate in it, as far as possible, all
the best available elements, those of a conservative character as well
as the rest. Frankly recognize its authority, and invest it at the same
time with a full measure of responsibility. Notoriously the existence
of a Senate diminishes the sense of responsibility in the popular
chamber, and diminishes it out of proportion to the control really
exercised; for a Senate soon gets tired of incurring the unpopularity
of rejection. This surely is a more rational and hopeful plan than
that of abandoning the seat of supreme power to popular impulse, and
affixing by way of safeguard an artificial regulator to its side.
Checks and balances belong to mechanics, not to politics; in mechanics
you can apportion force, in politics force cannot be apportioned,
though nominal authority may. That there are good and useful elements
in the House of Lords, especially among the new creations, nobody
doubts. Let them be transferred, with any social influence which in
these democratic times may adhere to them, to a sphere where they can
act with effect. At present they are ostracized by seclusion, as is
clearly perceived by some Radicals, who on that ground deprecate a
reform of the House of Lords. Let Lord Salisbury go to the Commons and
Lord Hartington stay there. The Lords are warned by their partisans
against imitating the foolish abdication of the French aristocracy in
the famous holocaust of feudal titles. To that it may come, if they
do not take care. But this is an earlier stage of the revolution, and
the day of grace has not yet expired. Let the Lords do that which the
French aristocracy ought to have done, and by doing which they might
have averted the catastrophe. Let them at once go over frankly to the
_Tiers Etat_, and strengthen by their accession the conservative forces
in the national assembly. Convulsive efforts to retain an obnoxious
privilege only inflame the revolutionary spirit, and at the same time
make it still more desperately difficult for rational statesmanship
to deal with the situation. Tory democracy is apparently a plea for
founding aristocracy on demagogism, and for stemming Socialism by
heading it and combining it with a foreign policy of violence. Can
the House of Lords be so blind as not to see in what such a course
must end? What has been the end of other attempts of privilege to save
itself by an alliance with extreme Radicalism against moderate reform?

Not in a Second Chamber, patched up or newly created, but in a
well-regulated franchise and a rational mode of election, are effectual
securities for the permanent ascendancy of national reason over passion
in the legislature to be found. The electorate has been dealt with by
successive reformers in the belief that its functions, and therefore
the necessary qualifications for it, have remained unchanged. But its
functions have been greatly changed, and have become infinitely more
important and difficult than they originally were. Instead of merely
choosing delegates to give his assent to taxation, the elector is
now called upon to choose a ruler, and, at the same time, virtually
to decide upon the general policy of the country. This is beyond the
capacity of any ordinary voter. Everybody knows what happens, and
until an immense progress shall have been made in popular education,
must happen—how the intelligent elector, even supposing him to escape
bribery and all other corrupt influences, votes at best for the Blue
or Yellow ticket, and too often votes not even for the Blue or Yellow
ticket, but with reference to some merely local or personal question,
some fancy or antipathy, leaving the broad interests of the country and
the qualifications essential to a legislator altogether out of sight.
The author of “Round My House” tells us how opinion among the French
peasantry in certain districts was swept by an angry fancy about a
reduction in the value of a coin. What chance would Chatham or Peel,
representing a great national policy, have stood against the lowest
demagogue if he had been on the unpopular side of the question about
the Cider Tax or Wood’s halfpence? An ordinary citizen, occupied in
trade or manual labor, has not the leisure, if he had the knowledge
and capacity, to study the complex questions put before him. Yet there
are reformers who desire to set Hodge to choose not only out of the
worthies of his own neighborhood, but out of all the notabilities
of the country, among whom the largest vote would probably be polled
by the Tichborne Claimant. From selfishness the poor are at least as
free as the rich; they would vote at least as well if they knew how;
but the knowledge is to them unattainable. In no sphere but that of
politics does anybody propose to thrust upon people power of which it
is manifestly impossible that they should make an intelligent use.
Not only is it manifestly impossible that the people should make an
intelligent use of the power of direct election to the governing
assembly and of determining its policy: it is morally impossible that
they should really make use of it at all. They are unorganized, and,
though they live in the same district, unconnected as a rule with each
other: they have no means of taking counsel together for the selection
of a member. The selection must therefore be made for them by some
self-constituted agency. That agency is the Caucus, into the hands of
whose managers and masters the representation, styled popular, really
falls.

Both the party organizations in England are now adopting the system,
and thus confiscating the suffrage which they profess by legislation
to bestow. One of them at least already has the Boss, and both of
them will soon have the complete machine, with a host of professional
politicians, recruited from the class which prefers place-hunting to
honest trades. Government, in a word, will fall into the hands of
irresponsible intriguers, and will be dominated in ever-increasing
measure by Knavery and corruption. Nor is there any assignable remedy
for the evil; the wire-pullers and professional politicians alone
can give their time to the elections, and therefore it is hardly
possible to organize the means of casting off their yoke. Attending
“primaries” is often preached as the duty of the patriotic citizen;
but the patriotic citizen who does attend the primary finds everything
arranged by the wire-pullers beforehand and himself impotent and
a laughing-stock. This will not appear in the first flush of a
revolutionary movement, while the present leaders retain their
ascendancy, but it will appear as soon as the revolution settles down.
Public education, it is true, has been introduced in England; but it
has always existed in the United States, and it has not saved that
country from the Boss. To save the country from the Boss is now the
highest aim of the best citizens; but they will hardly succeed without
a constitutional change.

American reformers, if they want to go to the root of the evil, have a
light to guide their efforts in the successful working of their Senate,
which, being elected indirectly, through the State Legislatures, is
a body of remarkable ability, and possesses the general confidence
of the nation; while the House of Representatives, elected directly
by the people, that is, by the wire-puller, who usurps the functions
of the people, presents a most unfavorable contrast. Those who have
sat in both say the difference between the two political atmospheres
is immense. Rid the Senate of Party, and it would be about as good
a governing body as any nation could reasonably desire. Indirect
elections through local councils is the plan which seems to promise the
best central legislature; and it takes from the primary elector nothing
which at present is really his. Ordinary knowledge and intelligence
ought to suffice to enable a man to choose from among his neighbors
those who are fittest to manage his local affairs. But the local
councillors would be a comparatively picked body; they might reasonably
be expected to give their minds to the central election; they would not
be too many for concert; and they would exercise their power as a trust
under the eyes of the people. As permanent bodies they could not, like
the College of Presidential Electors, be reduced to the mere bearers
of a mandate. A high trust, by adding to the importance and dignity of
local councils, would be likely to draw into them better men. Through
such an organization, apparently, opinion might freely and quietly flow
from the people to the depository of power. Local and social influences
would no doubt be strong; but they are more wholesome than that of the
Boss, and, as was said before, it is easier to enlarge the parochial
than to make the wire-puller honest. Parochialism, however, has been
pretty well broken up by the press and the telegraph. Hardly anybody
can now live in intellectual isolation. The Caucus itself, so far as
it works fairly, is a tribute to the principle of indirect election.

To begin by passing a measure of Home Rule, not for Ireland alone,
but for the United Kingdom, to reconstruct the local institutions,
unloading upon them part of the now crushing burden of the central
legislature, and then to base the central institutions upon them,
is a policy which might at least claim attention, and, perhaps,
deserve partial experiment, as an alternative to central revolution,
if the nation and its leaders had not surrendered themselves to the
revolutionary current.

Like the mode of election, the qualification for the franchise has
never undergone any rational consideration with reference to the
changed status and duties of the elector, who, instead of being really
a subject, is now a participant in sovereign power. Nothing has been
thought of the property qualification, which by successive agitations
has been reduced to the vanishing point, and the next time anybody
wants to raise the political wind will finally disappear. The broader
the basis of electoral institutions can safely be made the better, and
with indirect instead of direct election to the central legislature,
it would be safe to make it very broad. Still some qualifications are
necessary, even for the primary elector; nor, if the writer may trust
his own observation, is there any indisposition on the part of the
intelligent working-classes to look at the matter in that light. A
common education is now placed within everybody’s reach by the help
of the State, and it entails corresponding obligations. A mode of
ascertaining that the elector could read and write, or at least read,
by means of a certificate or test, might surely be devised. Personal
application for registration would also be a fair requirement, since
a man would hardly be fit to share the sovereign power who did not
care enough about his vote to ask for it; and it would probably
act as a useful criterion, self-applied. With the full powers of a
citizen should also go, in reason, the full duties—liability to serve
on juries, to assist in the enforcement of the law, to take part,
if called upon, in the defence of the country. There is a vague
notion that all human beings, or all who pay taxes (which, directly
or indirectly, everybody does), have a natural right to a vote, and
this is carried so far that votes are about to be given to a multitude
of Irish who openly profess themselves the enemies of the State, and
announce that they will use the votes for its destruction. Perhaps
this Irish experiment may help to bring us all to reason, and convince
us that nobody has a right to the means of doing mischief to himself
and his fellows, or to anything but that form of government which is
practically the best for all.

Considering how our morality and happiness depend on the maintenance
of right relations between the sexes, it is surely a proof of the
desperate recklessness of party that the Conservative leaders should
be willing to fling female character and ultimately the home into
the political caldron for the sake of gaining the female vote. Their
calculation may prove unfounded; at least on this continent the
women of Conservative temperament seem to stay at home, while the
revolutionary Megæra mounts the platform and, brandishing her torch
among the Anarchists of Chicago, bids the poor trust in dynamite
instead of trusting in God. That gentleness and purity will come
with woman into public life is certainly not the decisive verdict of
experience, so far as experience has gone. It rather seems that her
gentleness and purity depended on her absence from the political arena.
Will the government be improved by being made feminine? That is the
question to be answered in the common interest of both sexes. The male
nature, though not higher, is the more practical. Men, as a rule, alone
are brought into daily contact with the world of action by the varied
experiences and exigencies of which the balance of political character
is formed. Men alone can be said to be fully responsible. Unless
sentiment should undergo a total change, a female Member of Parliament
or office-holder could not be called to account like a man. In this
rough world how will a nation prosper which is swayed by the emotions
of its women? The sexes may be co-equal, and yet, having different
natures, they may have different parts to play in the community as
they certainly have in the family. Laws have been made by man, because
law, to take effect, must have force behind it, and the force of the
community is male. If women made such laws as some of them threaten
to make in the interest of their sex, men would refuse to execute the
law. If women voted a war for some object of female enthusiasm, as
the French women would for the defence of the Pope, men would refuse
to march. The authority of government would then fall. A woman cannot
support the police or take part in the defence of the country. Women
are not a class with separate interests of its own, but a sex, the
political interests of which are identical with those of their husbands
and brothers. Their property is not of a special kind, nor can it be
alleged to have suffered any wrong by general legislation. Assuredly
general legislation has of late not been unfavorable to woman. Perhaps
they get more from the chivalry of male legislation than they would
get if, armed with political power, they were fighting for themselves.
To the argument that property held by them is unrepresented, the
answer is that no property is represented in any hands beyond the
minimum required for a qualification in each case. This is a small
hardship compared with the practical exclusion from voting of all our
sailors, the flower of our industry, and of a large number of those
employed by commerce in the work of distribution. Woman, if she has
her disabilities, has also her privileges, which, with the general
guardianship of affection, the majority of the sex would probably be
unwilling to renounce for the sake of gratifying the ambition of a
few. Conservatives especially may be expected to consider the effects
likely to be produced on female character and on domestic life by the
introduction of women into politics and the general revolution in
the relations between the sexes of which that measure is an integral
part. Female aspirations begin to take a new turn. An American apostle
of woman’s rights told us plainly the other day that she considered
maternity a poor aim for a woman’s ambition. Nature answers by dooming
the race to decay.

A stable, though responsible, executive, invested with a reasonable
amount of authority, commanding the general confidence of the people,
and capable of exercising forecast and governing on a plan, especially
with regard to foreign affairs, is a necessity of civilized life. How
is it to be secured for the future to England? Have reforming statesmen
asked themselves that momentous question, or has the necessity of
answering it been hidden from their eyes by the illusion which
surrounds the “ancient throne?” What basis has Government at present
but party? Is not that crisis crumbling to pieces? Is not the Liberal
party in the House of Commons split up into discordant sections and
held together solely by the authority of a leader in his seventy-fifth
year and without any visible heir of his power? Have not the Irish
entirely severed themselves from it and taken up a position which
renders a reunion with them hopeless? Is not even the Tory party,
though as a party of reaction less exposed to disintegration than a
party of progress, went by divergent tendencies towards Conservatism
on one side and Tory democracy on the other? Is not everybody at a
loss to conceive how, after next election, and when the number of
Parnellites shall have been increased, a party broad and strong enough
to support a government is to be formed? The disintegration is not
confined to England; it extends to all countries in which Parliamentary
institutions prevail. It is extending now to the United States, where
the reforming Republicans voted in the Presidential election; and the
other day the Liberal party in Belgium suddenly split in two. The
consequences everywhere are the fatal instability and weakness of
government, the only exception being Germany, where Bismarck holds
himself above party, governs on a principle really monarchical, and
makes up a majority from any quarter that he can? France, with her
Chamber full of Sectionalism, cabal and unruly ambition, lives always
on the brink of administrative anarchy: industry and commerce never
knowing whether next day they will have the shelter of a government
over their heads. The Executive in the United States stands on an
independent though elective footing; if it depended for its existence
from day to day on the factions of Congress, chaos would soon come.
Is there any prospect of a return to party union and solidity? As
intellects grow more active, idiosyncracies more pronounced, ambitions
more numerous and keen, is it likely that divergences will become fewer
and that patient submission to party discipline will increase? Is not
the tendency everywhere the opposite way? What permanent claim has
party on the allegiance of a moral being? What is it but a soft name
for faction, the bane of States? Why should a good citizen surrender
his conscience to it? Why should good citizens for ever divide
themselves into two hostile camps, and wage political war against each
other? Is an unpatriotic and anti-social principle to be accepted as
the last word of politics? The supply of organic questions cannot be
inexhaustible. When it is exhausted and divisions of principle have
disappeared, on what ground of reason or moral motive are parties to
rest? Must they not thenceforth become factions pure and simple? Have
they not become factions pure and simple, whenever organic questions
have ceased to be at issue? Party has been the organ by which in
England the Long Revolution has been conducted to its issue, and
power has been gradually wrested from the Crown and transferred to
the Commons. Hence the belief, shared by the whole of Europe, that
party was inseparable from Parliamentary institutions, and that in
no other way could free government be carried on. If free government
can be carried on in no other way, the prospect is dark, for party is
apparently doomed, alike by morality and by the growing tendencies of
the age. But there is obviously one other way at least in which free
government can be carried on. Instead of making office the prize of
a perpetual faction fight, the members of the Executive Council of
State may be regularly elected by the Members of the Legislature for
a term certain, under such a system with regard to the rotation of
vacancies as may at once secure sufficient harmony between the two
bodies and a sufficient continuity in the executive government. The
responsibility of the Executive for the decisions of the Legislature,
and its obligation to resign upon every Legislative defeat, which is
a mere accident of English history and devoid of rational foundation,
would then cease. The Legislature and the Executive would be at liberty
each to do its own work. The Executive would be national, and would
receive the general support of the community instead of being an object
of organized hostility to half of it; it would be stable instead
of being as it is now throughout Europe ephemeral as well as weak.
Responsibility on the part of its members instead of being diminished
would be increased. It would become individual, whereas now it is only
collective, the whole Cabinet and the party majority being bound to
support each Minister whatever may be his failure in duty. Personal
aptitude might be considered in the elections to the offices, whereas
at present little can be considered beyond the necessity of providing
for all the leaders, and a good financier or Minister of Marine would
not be turned out because he was in the minority on a Franchise Bill.

The nations have been so much engaged in taking authority out of bad
hands, that they have forgotten that it is a good and necessary thing
in itself. Government has become dangerously weak. The greater part
of its energy is now expended, not in the work of administration,
but in preserving its own existence. Not only is it exposed to the
incessant attacks of an Opposition whose business is to traduce and
harass it, but it is now hardly able to sustain itself against the
irresponsible power of the press, wielded nobody knows by whom, but
often under secret influences, which are a great and growing danger in
all communities. To keep the popular favor, which is to them the breath
of life, the members of the Cabinet have to be always on the stump,
reserving to themselves little time for rest or reflection, and the
stump orator is rapidly superseding the statesman. This vacillation of
policy on the Egyptian question, the consequences of which all have
been deploring, has not been so much that of the Government as that
of the nation itself worrying and distracting the Government through
the press. A country with an Empire and a world-wide diplomacy cannot
afford to have an Executive, the policy of which is always shifting
with the wind of opinion, and which can exercise no forecast, because
it is not sure of its existence for an hour. In India, the danger is
not so much from native disaffection as from British agitation, which
the Company managed to exclude, but which, since India has been driven
into the vortex of British politics, a party Government has no power to
control. Those who are as far as is the writer of this paper from being
Imperialists, must see, nevertheless, that while the Empire exists it
creates a special necessity for a strong and undemagogic Government,
and that on any hypothesis, a disruption, or general dissolution from
a collapse of the central authority, is not the thing to be desired.
The Radicals themselves are saying that what the country now wants is
a strong government, by which, however, people often mean a government
strongly imbued with their own ideas.

England ought not to be very much in love with the party system at this
moment, for it has well-nigh laid her, with all her greatness and her
glory, at the feet of Messrs. Healy and Biggar. Faction and nothing
but faction has brought her to the verge of a dismemberment, which,
by carving a hostile Republic out of her side, would reduce her to a
second-rate Power, and condemn her to play a subordinate instead of a
leading part in the march of European civilization. “England has lost
heart” is the exalting cry of Mr. Parnell. She has lost heart because
she is betrayed by faction, seeking under highly philanthropic and
philosophic pretences to climb into power by bartering the unity of the
nation for the Irish vote. With a truly national government she would
soon be herself again.

There is another point which, while time for consideration remains
to them, British statesmen will surely do well to consider. It would
seem paradoxical to say that England, the parent of constitutional
government, has no constitution; but it will be admitted at once that
she has no legal constitution, at least that her legal constitution is
not actual. Actually she has nothing but a balance of power, or rather
the power no longer balanced of the House of Commons, which if the
Crown attempted to govern would stop the supplies, and if the Lords
attempted to vote would force the Crown to coerce them by a swamping
creation, or incite the people to terrify them into submission. The
term “Constitutional,” though it seems full of mysterious and august
meaning, has never really denoted anything but the limit of practical
force. If it has been unconstitutional for the Lords to amend a money
Bill, but constitutional for them to reject a Bill respecting a tax, as
in the noted case of the paper duty, the reason was that the rejection
was final, whereas the amended Bill would go back to the Commons, who
would throw it out. But while the Commons have annihilated the power
of the Crown, and reduced that of the Lords almost to a cipher, they
remain themselves liable to dissolution at the will of the party leader
into whose hands that prerogative has come, and who can thus suspend
at any moment the existence of the supreme government, reduce its
members to private citizens, and, if they resist, deal with them as
common rioters through the police. In the ordinary course of things the
existence of the supreme government is suspended, and an interregnum
ensues, whenever the regular Parliamentary term expires. This is hardly
the sort of ship with which it is wise to put out on the wide waters
of democracy. England, like other nations under the elective system,
needs a written constitution, defining all powers and duties, guarding
against any usurpation, and entrusted to the keeping of a court of
law. Traditions and understandings, which may be maintained and serve
their purpose so long as the government is in the hands of a family
group of statesmen walking in the ancestral paths, will not command
the same respect in a far different order of things. The written
constitution is the political Bible of the United States, and without
it all would soon be usurpation and confusion. A written constitution
in no way interferes with the freedom of development which is the
supposed privilege of the unwritten. It only provides that development
shall proceed in the way of regular and legal amendment, and not in
that of violent collision and intimidation by street parades. The
system of constitutional amendment works perfectly well in the United
States. The power might be safely reposed in the people at large. Men
who are not competent to vote on the complex question of the general
policy of the country, and at the same time on the merits of the
candidate, are competent to vote on a single question submitted by
itself, and with regard to which, moreover, there is little danger of
corruption or illicit influence. But the nation at large ought, by
petition sufficiently signed or in some other way, to have the power of
initiating constitutional amendments or compelling their submission by
the Government as well as of rejecting them when submitted. Elective
rulers, once installed in power, are no more willing to part with it
than kings. Such a body as the American House of Representatives,
though it might become a sheer political nuisance, would never take the
first step in reform. There ought to be a power of enforcing change,
when the necessity for it has become apparent to the nation, without
having recourse to a violent revolution, or even to intimidation such
as is being used in default of a better means to wrest the veto from
the House of Lords.

These are the views of one who has long been convinced that the day
of hereditary institutions had closed, that the day of elective
institutions had fully come, that the appointed task of political
science was to study the liabilities, weaknesses and dangers of the
elective system with a view to their correction or prevention, and that
the mission of the Liberal party in England was to conduct the critical
transition and guide Europe in accomplishing it without revolution. If
such views are condemned as Conservative by Radicals, and as Republican
by Conservatives, neither charge can well be repelled. They certainly
cannot be congenial to any who exult in the prospect of a socialistic
revolution. But the upshot of all that has been here said is that
Democracy must be organized and regulated. Unorganized and unregulated,
it will probably end in confusion.—_Contemporary Magazine._



SIR WILLIAM SIEMENS.[8]

 [8] A Lecture delivered before the (London) Sunday Lecture Society,
 January 18, 1885.

BY WILLIAM LANT CARPENTER.

I am about to endeavor to set forth the life and work of Sir William
Siemens, who was not only an ardent scientific discoverer, but one
whose work for the last five or six years has interested the general
public to a degree that has perhaps never before been the case with any
man so devoted to science as he was. Of him it may be said, without
fear of contradiction, that he has, beyond all his contemporaries,
promoted the practical application of scientific discovery to
industrial purposes. It has also been said by one who had the privilege
of his friendship, that “no one could know him without feeling how
lovely his character was. Wonderful as were the qualities of his mind,
they were equalled by the nobleness of his heart.”

These two sentences, then, will serve to indicate my purpose. In
telling, with necessary brevity, the story of the life of Sir
William Siemens, I shall try to keep in view the fact that even his
great powers, without his large heart, would never have produced
the impression which he did upon the national mind. Hence, after I
have given a sketch of some of the more important discoveries of
the inventor, and their consequences to the national life, I shall,
with the help of materials most kindly and liberally placed at my
disposal by his family, try to show what manner of man he was, and
what impression he made upon those who had the very great advantage of
personal communion with him.

Charles William Siemens was born at Lenthe in Hanover on April 4,
1823, and was one among many of a family eminent for their scientific
knowledge and practical skill. The possession of such unusual talents
by a whole family is rarer, perhaps, in the intellectual life of
England than in that of Germany; at any rate, in the absence of
definite statistics such as those compiled with so much care by Mr.
Francis Galton, the general impression is that such is the case. It
is not difficult to discern in the scientific career of the Brothers
Siemens some prominent characteristics of their race; and in the
life of Sir William, the sympathy of the German mind for general
principles, and the tenacity with which it clings to them, are well
illustrated, and stand out in strongly-marked contrast to the usual
indifference of the average English mind to theoretic conclusions, as
opposed to so-called practical ones. It would be well-nigh impossible
to find among Englishmen one instance in which an inventor has been so
confident of the possible utility of a few grand general principles,
that he has worked out from them several great inventions; and that
he felt himself justified in this confidence after years of hard work
is evidenced by his own saying that “the farther we advance, the more
thoroughly do we approach the indications of pure science in our
practical results.”

William Siemens received his early educational training at Lübeck, and
in the course of it the stimulus afforded to excellence of workmanship
by the German guild system made an early and lasting impression upon
his mind, for he repeatedly referred to it in after life. From Lübeck
he went to the Polytechnical School at Magdeburg, where he studied
physical science with apparatus of the most primitive kind, and under
great disadvantages, as compared with the facilities of our modern
laboratories. After this he studied at Göttingen University, where,
under Wöhler and Himly, he first got that insight into chemical laws
which laid the foundation of his metallurgical knowledge, and here
began to develop in him that wonderful thirst for discovery, which
abundant success never quenched. Here, also, occurred what he has
himself described as “the determining incident of his life.” Mr.
Elkington, of Birmingham, utilising the discoveries of Davy, Faraday,
and Jacobi, had devised the first practical application of that form
of energy which we now call the electric current, and in 1842 he
established a practical process of electro-plating. In the following
year, as the result of his own and his brother Werner’s work, William
Siemens presented himself before Mr. Elkington with an improvement
in his process, which was adopted. This is the first on the list of
inventions on the diagram behind me. Speaking of his first landing in
London he says:

“I expected to find some office in which inventions were examined, and
rewarded if found meritorious; but no one could direct me to such a
place. In walking along Finsbury Pavement, I saw written up in large
letters so-and-so (I forget the name) ‘undertaker,’ and the thought
struck me that this must be the place I was in quest of. At any rate
I thought that a person advertising himself as an undertaker would
not refuse to look into my invention, with a view of obtaining for me
the sought-for recognition or reward. On entering the place I soon
convinced myself, however, that I had come decidedly too soon for the
kind of enterprise there contemplated, and finding myself confronted
with the proprietor of the establishment, I covered my retreat by what
he must have thought a very inadequate excuse.”

Returning to Germany, he became a pupil in the engine works of Count
Stolberg, to study mechanical engineering. While there he worked out
a great improvement upon Watt’s centrifugal governor for regulating
the supply of steam to an engine, and in 1844 he returned to England
with his invention, and soon decided to stay here. His object in doing
so was to enjoy the security which the English patent law afforded
to inventors, for in his own country there were then no such laws.
This chronometric governor, though not very successful commercially,
introduced him to the engineering world; it was originally intended
for steam engines, but its chief application has been to regulate the
movement of the great transit instrument at Greenwich. Then followed
in quick succession several minor inventions which met with varying
practical success, such as the process of anastatic printing, which was
made the subject of a Royal Institution lecture in 1845 by Faraday; a
water meter, which has since been in general use; an air pump, &c., &c.

About this time the researches of Joule, Carnot, and Mayer upon
the relations between heat and mechanical work were attracting much
attention among scientific men, and at the age of twenty-three, William
Siemens adopted the hypothesis now known as the dynamical theory of
heat. More than once I have drawn attention to the exact numerical
relation between units of heat and units of work established by Joule,
viz., that 772 foot-pounds of work is required to generate heat enough
to raise the temperature of 1 lb. of water 1° Fah., and I have pointed
out here and elsewhere that this was the first well-authenticated
example of that grandest of modern generalisations, the doctrine of the
Conservation of Energy, the truth of which is constantly receiving new
illustrations.

With a mind thoroughly pervaded by this important principle, Siemens
applied himself to the study of steam and caloric engines, and saw at
once that there was an enormous difference between the theoretical
and the actual power gained from the heat developed by the combustion
of a given quantity of coal, and hence that there was a very large
margin for improvement. He at once determined to try to utilise some
of this wasted heat, and he conceived the idea (to which I invite your
particular attention) of making a regenerator, or an accumulator, which
should retain or store a limited quantity of heat, and be capable of
yielding it up again when required for the performance of any work.
In the factory of Mr. John Hicks, of Bolton, he first constructed an
engine on this plan; the saving in fuel was great, but it was attended
by mechanical difficulties which at that time he was unable to solve.
The Society of Arts, however, recognised the value of the principle
by awarding him a gold medal in 1850. Three years afterwards, his
paper “On the Conversion of Heat into Mechanical Effect,” before the
Institution of Civil Engineers, gained him the Telford premium (awarded
only once in five years) and the medal of the Institution. In 1856 he
gave a lecture upon his engine at the Royal Institution, considered as
the result of ten years’ experimental work, and as the first practical
application of the mechanical theory of heat; he then indicated the
economic considerations which encouraged him to persevere in his
experiments, pointing out that the total national expenditure for
steam-coal alone amounted to eight millions sterling per year, of which
at least two-thirds might be saved!

His efforts to improve the steam-engine, however, were speedily
followed by a still more important application of the mechanical
theory of heat to industrial purposes. In 1857 his younger brother,
and then pupil, Frederick (who, since the death of Sir William, has
undertaken the sole charge of the development of this branch of his
elder brother’s work), suggested to him the employment of regenerators
for the purpose of saving some of the heat wasted in metallurgical
operations, and for four years he labored to attain this result,
constructing several different forms of furnace. His chief practical
difficulties arose from the use of solid fuel—coal or coke—but when,
in 1859, he hit upon the plan of converting the solid fuel into
gaseous, which he did by the aid of his gas-producer, he found that
the results obtained with his regenerators exceeded his most sanguine
expectations. In 1861 the first practical regenerative gas furnace
was erected at the glass works of Messrs. Chance Bros. in Manchester,
and it was found to be very economical in its results. Early in 1862
the attention of Faraday was drawn to this matter, and on June 20 of
the same year, that prince of experimentalists appeared before the
Royal Institution audience for the last time to explain the wonderful
simplicity, economy, and power of the Siemens regenerative gas furnace.
Age and experience have not diminished the high estimation in which it
is held; after nearly twenty years of continuous working and extended
application, Sir Henry Bessemer described it in 1880 as an “invention
which was at once the most philosophic in principle, the most powerful
in action, and the most economic, of all the contrivances for producing
heat by the combustion of coal.”

The furnace consists essentially of three parts; (1) the gas producer,
which converts the solid coal into gaseous fuel; (2) the regenerators,
usually four in number, which are filled with fire-brick piled in
such a way as to break up into many parts a current of air or gas
passing through them; (3) the furnace proper, where the combustion
is actually accomplished. In using the furnace, the gaseous fuel and
air are conducted through one pair of regenerators to the combustion
chamber; the heated gases from this, on their way to the chimney, pass
through the other pair of regenerators, heating them in their passage.
In the course of, say, one hour, the currents are reversed, so that
the comparatively cold gas and air pass over these heated regenerators
before entering the furnace, and rob them of their heat. While this is
going on, the first pair of regenerators is being heated again, and
thus, by working them in alternate pairs, nearly all the heat, which
would otherwise have escaped unused into the chimney, is utilised.

By this process of accumulation the highest possible temperature (only
limited by the point at which its materials begin to melt), can be
obtained in the furnace chamber, without an intensified draft, and with
inferior fuel.

It has been found that this furnace is capable of making a ton of
crucible steel with _one-sixth_ of the fuel required without it, and
that while the temperature of the furnace chamber exceeded 4,000°
Fahrenheit, the waste products of combustion escaped into the chimney
at 240° Fahrenheit, or very little above the temperature at which water
boils in the open air.

At the locomotive works of the London and North Western Railway at
Crewe, where these furnaces have long been used, it was formerly the
practice to lock a piece of pitch pine into the flue leading to the
chimney, and if at the end of the week the wood was charred, it was
evidence that more heat had been wasted than ought to have been, and
the men in charge of the furnace were fined.

This all-important national question, the waste of fuel, which in
modern phraseology may be truly called the waste of energy, was
constantly before the mind of Sir William Siemens, who lost no
opportunity, in his public utterances, of impressing his hearers, and
that still wider circle which he reached through the medium of the
press, with a sense of the weighty consequences which it involved.
In an address at Liverpool in 1872, as President of the Institution
of Mechanical Engineers, he estimated the total coal consumption of
this country at one hundred and twenty million tons, which at 10s.
per ton amounted to sixty millions sterling. He strongly asserted
that one-half of this might be saved by the general adoption of
improved appliances which were within the range of actual knowledge;
and he went on to speak of outside speculations, which would lead to
the expectation of accomplishing these ends with one-eighth or even
one-tenth of the actual expenditure. In 1873 he delivered a famous
lecture on Fuel to the operative classes at Bradford, on behalf of
the British Association, in which he illustrated how fuel should
be used by three examples, typical of the three great branches of
consumption: _a_, the production of steam power; _b_, the domestic
hearth; _c_, the metallurgical furnace. In connection with the last
point he mentioned that the Sheffield pot steel-melting furnace only
utilised _one-seventieth_ part of the theoretical heat developed in the
combustion, and contrasted with it his own furnace for melting steel.
In discussing the question of the duration of our coal supply, he
indicated what should be our national aim in the following suggestive
and inspiring passage:

“In working through the statistical returns of the progressive increase
of population, of steam power employed, and of production of iron and
steel, &c., I find that our necessities increase at a rate of not less
than 8 per cent. per annum, whereas our coal consumption increases only
at the rate of 4 per cent., showing that the balance of 4 per cent. is
met by what may be called our ‘intellectual progress.’ Now, considering
the enormous margin for improvement before us, I contend that we should
not be satisfied with this rate of intellectual progress, involving as
it does an annual deficit of four million tons to be met by increased
coal production, but that we should bring our intellectual progress up
to the rate of our industrial progress, by which means we should make
the coal production nearly a constant quantity for several generations
to come.”

One of the direct results of this lecture, which was read and warmly
commended by some of the most eminent men of the time, was that Dr.
Siemens was consulted by Mr. Mundella in reference to parliamentary
action by the Board of Trade in regard to the coal question.

In 1874 he received the Albert Gold Medal from the Society of Arts
“for his researches in connection with the laws of heat, and for
services rendered by him in the economisation of fuel in its various
applications to manufactures and the arts,” and in 1877 he devoted
nearly the whole of his address to the Iron and Steel Institute, of
which he was then President, to the same subject, in which, as regards
the probable duration of our coal supply, he had been for some time
engaged in a controversy with the late Professor Jevons, maintaining
that “the ratio of increase of population and output of manufactured
goods would be nearly balanced for many years to come by the further
introduction of economical processes, and that our annual production
would remain substantially the same within that period, which would
probably be a period of comparatively cheap coal.”

One of the most important applications of the regenerative furnace has
been to the manufacture of steel, and he soon perceived that it was
necessary for himself to solve the various difficulties which others
regarded as practically insuperable. “Having,” he says, “been so often
disappointed by the indifference of manufacturers and the antagonism of
their workmen, I determined in 1865 to erect experimental or ‘sample
steel works’ of my own at Birmingham, for the purpose of maturing the
details of these processes, before inviting manufacturers to adopt
them.” The success of experiments in 1867-68, in making steel rails,
brought about the formation of the Landore Siemens Steel Co., whose
works were opened in 1874. When Dr. Siemens was knighted, the employés
of this company embodied their congratulations in an address, and had
prepared for him a very beautiful model of a steel furnace in ivory
and silver; the presentation of these was prevented by his premature
death, but the address stated that “the quantity of steel made here to
the end of last year on your process was upwards of 400,000 tons!” In
the ten years ending in 1882, the annual production of open-hearth
steel in the United Kingdom increased from 77,500 tons to 436,000 tons.
During an action in the Superior Courts of the United States, it was
stated that the inventor had received a million dollars in royalties,
the annual saving in that country by his process being 3¾ millions
of dollars! These statements refer mainly, I believe, to the conversion
of cast or wrought iron into steel, either by the “direct” process of
acting on pig-iron with iron ore in an open hearth, or by the “scrap
process” (Siemens-Martin) of melting wrought-iron and steel scrap in a
bath of pig-metal. Both of these require the preliminary treatment of
the blast furnace, and in speaking of them in 1873, Dr. Siemens said
that “however satisfactory these results might appear, I have never
considered them in the light of final achievements. On the contrary, I
have always looked upon the direct conversion of iron and steel from
the ore, without the intervention of blast furnaces and the refinery,
as the great object to be attained.” How far he succeeded in this may
be gathered from the fact that in a paper read on April 29, 1883,
before the Iron and Steel Institute, on the “Manufacture of Iron and
Steel by the Direct Process,” he showed how to produce 15 cwt. of
wrought iron direct from the ore in three hours, with a consumption
of 25 cwt. of coal per ton of metal, which is one-half the quantity
previously required for the production of a ton of pig-iron only, in
the blast furnace! The long and costly experiments which ended in the
realisation of his views extended over twenty-five years; and it is
worthy of note that he told the Parliamentary Committee on Patents that
he would not have continued them if the English patent law had not
insured such a period of protection as would repay him for his labor.

Great, however, as the economic results of the gas-producer have been,
its inventor looked forward to still more remarkable applications
of it. In 1882 he told the British Association, in his presidential
address, that he thought “the time is not far distant when both
rich and poor will largely resort to gas as the most convenient, the
cleanest, and the cheapest of heating agents, and when raw coal will
be seen only at the colliery or the gas-works. In all cases where the
town to be supplied is within, say, thirty miles of the colliery,
the gas-works may with advantage be planted at the mouth, or, still
better, at the bottom of the pit, whereby all haulage of fuel would be
avoided, and the gas, in its ascent from the bottom of the colliery,
would acquire an onward pressure sufficient probably to impel it to its
destination. The possibility of transporting combustible gas through
pipes for such a distance has been proved at Pittsburg, where natural
gas from the oil district is used in large quantities.” It may be
well to point out here that as a step towards this, it was a favorite
project of his—practically carried out in some places—to divide the
gaseous products of the ordinary distillation of coal into two, the
middle portions being illuminating gas of 18 to 20 candle power instead
of 16, and the first and last portions, which under this system may
be largely increased, being heating gas; such gas he expected to see
sold at 1_s._ per 1,000 cubic feet. The obvious and only practicable
objection to the plan is the necessity for doubling all the mains
and service-pipes. That we shall eventually burn gaseous fuel on the
domestic hearth, as we have lately learnt to do on the metallurgical,
I have not the smallest doubt; it is a mere question of the time
necessary for the education of the public mind upon the question; the
apter the pupil, the more speedy will be the desired result. Let it be
thoroughly understood by every one that the soot which hangs in a pall
over London in a single day is _equivalent to at least fifty tons of
coal_, and then there will be no difficulty in seeing that the true and
the only remedy for our London fogs, with all their attendant ills,
is—gaseous fuel. May we not hope that, though Sir William Siemens has
gone from among us, the great movement for smoke abatement, in which he
so earnestly labored during the last three years of his life, may have
full effect?

If I have dwelt thus long upon this particular branch of my subject, it
is because I know of no other which so well illustrates two points in
Sir William Siemens’ character which I have alluded to at the outset:
his unwavering devotion to general principles and their consequences,
and his ardent desire to promote the practical welfare of mankind.
There is, however, as the late Professor Rolleston remarked to him,
no subject which more impresses the minds even of persons who are
laymen as regards science, than the history of Telegraphy (and I may
perhaps be permitted to add, of Electrical Engineering generally), now
so inseparably connected with his name. The University of Göttingen,
at which he studied, was the cradle, if not the birthplace, of the
electric telegraph in 1833. Shortly after, Sir Charles Wheatstone
in England, and Mr. Morse in the United States, were simultaneously
working at the same problem, and each claimed the honor of having
solved it.

The telegraph, however, was still in a very undeveloped state when the
Brothers Siemens began to study it, and their series of inventions,
especially for long-distance telegraphy, largely aided in bringing
it to its present condition. One of their first was the Relay, an
electro-magnet so delicate that it will move with the weakest current.
By the use of five of Siemens’ polarised relays, a message can be sent
by the Indo-European Telegraph from London to Teherán, a distance of
3,800 miles, without any retransmission by hand, and during the Shah of
Persia’s visit in 1873, Dr. Siemens arranged for messages to be thus
regularly despatched from a room in Buckingham Palace. In 1858, Messrs.
Siemens Brothers established near London the well-known telegraph
works, and the construction by them in 1868 and following years of
the Indo-European Telegraph—the overland double line to India through
Prussia, Southern Russia, and Persia—was the first great undertaking
of the kind. Writing of it in August, 1882, during the first Egyptian
campaign, Dr. Siemens said, “At the present time our communication with
India, Australia, and the Cape depends, notwithstanding the nominal
existence of the line through Turkey, on the Indo-European Telegraph.”

The Messrs. Siemens were also pioneers in submarine telegraphy, the
first cable covered with gutta-percha having been laid across the
Rhine by Dr. Werner Siemens in 1847. The invention of the machine for
coating the conducting wire with the insulating material, gutta-percha,
or india rubber, is entirely due to Dr. William Siemens, who also
subsequently designed the steamship _Faraday_ for the special work of
laying and repairing submarine cables. This unique vessel was launched
on Feb. 16, 1874, and when she was completed, Dr. Siemens invited
all his scientific friends to inspect her, and challenged them to
suggest any improvements in her arrangements. She was first used in
laying the Direct United States Cable, which is above 3,000 miles in
length. In this connection I may perhaps be permitted to relate a very
characteristic anecdote. When Dr. Siemens took a contract for a cable,
the electrical tests of which were specified, it was his invariable
habit to give out to the works a considerably higher test, which every
section of the cable had to pass, or be rejected _in toto_. In the case
of this cable, probably during manipulation on board ship, a minute
piece of wire penetrated the insulating material, bringing down the
electrical test to a point below the “works” test, but still decidedly
above the contract test. The discovery was not made until so late
that to cut out the faulty piece involved a delay of some days in the
middle of the Atlantic, but Dr. Siemens insisted upon its being done;
after this, stormy weather came on, and the cable had to be cut and
buoyed, while the _Faraday_ had to winter on the American side, and
resume operations next spring. The money loss involved amounted, I am
told, to more than £30,000. Perhaps the most remarkable of the later
feats was the fulfilment of a contract with the Compagnie Française
du Telegraphe de Paris à New York, who ordered a cable 3,000 miles
long from the Messrs. Siemens in March, 1879, and it was handed over
to them in perfect working order in September of the same year! There
are now nearly 90,000 miles of submarine cable at work, costing about
£32,000,000, and a fleet of thirty-two ships are employed in laying,
watching, and repairing these cables, of which there are now eleven
across the Atlantic alone.

In connection with the subject of telegraphy, and as an instance of the
versatility of Dr. Siemens’s inventive powers, I may point out that in
1876 he brought out the pneumatic postal telegraph tube, by which, as
is pretty generally known, written messages are blown or sucked through
tubes on various metropolitan routes, instead of being transmitted
electrically. About the same time, also, he constructed his ingenious
bathometer, for ascertaining the depth of the sea at any given point,
without the tedious operation of sounding; and some years previously
he worked out his electrical thermometer or pyrometer, enabling the
observer to read the temperature (whenever he desired) at any distant
and inaccessible point, such as the top of a mountain, the bottom of
the sea, the air between the layers of a cable, or the interior of a
furnace.

Probably the most prominent idea associated in the public mind with
the name of Siemens is that of electric lighting, and perhaps electric
tram and railroads. As I have more than once pointed out in this
room, the dynamo-machine, by which mechanical energy is converted
into that form of energy known as electricity (which may be used both
for lighting and for the transmission of power), is derived from a
principle discovered by Faraday in 1831. Sir William Siemens’ devotion
to this, and the important practical consequences which he deduced from
it, constitute another example of that mental characteristic to which
I have already alluded. Faraday’s discovery, briefly described, was
that when a bar magnet was suddenly inserted into a coil of wire, or
when a wire was suddenly moved through a magnetic field, a momentary
current of electricity was developed in the wire. Although this
current is exceedingly small and brief, it is capable of unlimited
multiplication by mechanical arrangements of a simple kind. One means
for accomplishing this multiplication was the Siemens armature of 1857,
which consisted, at first, of a piece of iron with wire wound round
it longitudinally, not transversely, the whole to be rotated between
the poles of a powerful magnet; in its present form it is one of the
most powerful and perfect things of its kind, and the evolution of the
Siemens armature, as we now have it, from the rudimentary type of a
quarter of a century ago, has been characterised by Sir W. Thomson
as one of the most beautiful products of inventive genius, and more
like the growth of a flower than to almost anything else in the way of
mechanism made by man.

Ten years afterwards came his classical paper “On the Conversion
of Dynamical into Electrical Force, without the use of permanent
Magnetism,” which was read before the Royal Society on February 14,
1867. Strangely enough, the discovery of the same principle was
enunciated at the same meeting by Sir Charles Wheatstone, while there
is yet a third claimant in the person of Mr. Cromwell Varley, who had
previously applied for a patent in which the idea was embodied. It can
never be quite certain, therefore, who was the first discoverer of the
principle upon which modern dynamo-machines are constructed. I need
not describe here the way in which this principle is carried out in
all dynamo-machines. Suffice it to say that they differ from Faraday’s
magneto-electric machines in having electro-magnets in the place of
permanent steel magnets, and that these electro-magnets are, if I may
be allowed the expression, self-excited by the play of mutual give and
take between the armature and the magnet.

It was the invention of the dynamo-machine which made practicable
the application of electricity to industrial purposes. Experiments
have shown that it is capable of transforming into electrical work
90 per cent. of the mechanical energy employed as motive power. Its
practical application is still in its infancy. In 1785 Watt completed
his “improvements” in the steam-engine, and the century which has since
elapsed has not sufficed to demonstrate the full extent of its utility.
What may we not expect in the next hundred years from the extension of
the dynamo-machine to practical purposes?

In the development of appliances for the production of the electric
light Sir William Siemens took a leading part, and, as is well known,
his firm has been _facile princeps_ at all the important electrical
exhibitions. But while ever zealous to promote its progress, he never
took a partisan view of its utility, candidly admitting that gas must
continue to be the poor man’s friend. In 1882 he told the Society
of Arts that “Electricity must win the day _as the light of luxury_,
but gas will find an ever-increasing application for the more humble
purposes of diffusing light.”

In the hands of Dr. Siemens the enormous energy displayed in the
Electric Arc was applied to other purposes than mere lighting. In
June, 1880, he greatly astonished the Society of Telegraph Engineers
by exhibiting the power of an electrical furnace designed by him to
melt considerable quantities of such exceedingly refractory metals
as platinum, iridium, &c. He explained that he was led to undertake
experiments with this end in view by the consideration that a good
steam-engine converts 15 per cent. of the energy of coal into
mechanical effect, while a good dynamo-machine is capable of converting
80 per cent. of the mechanical into electrical energy. If the latter
could be expended without loss in an electric furnace, it would
doubtless far exceed in economy any known air furnace.

Moreover Sir William Siemens may fairly be described as the creator
of electro-horticulture. Some experiments which he made early in 1880
led him to the conclusion that the electric light could influence the
production of coloring matter in leaves, and promote the ripening of
fruit at all seasons of the year, and at all hours of the day and
night. In the following winter he put these conclusions to the test
of experience on a large scale at his country house, Sherwood, near
Tunbridge Wells, and the results obtained were communicated to the
British Association at York in 1881, in a paper, the value of which was
recognised by its receiving the rare distinction of being printed in
full in the annual report.

Some photographs, which he kindly allowed me to take, represent the
difference between three kinds of corn grown under ordinary conditions,
and the same corn, under the same conditions, with the added stimulus
of the electric light from sunset to sunrise. He came to the conclusion
that, although periodic darkness evidently favors growth in the sense
of elongating the stalks of plants, the _continuous_ stimulus of light
was favorable to a healthy development at a greatly accelerated pace,
through all the stages of the annual life of the plant, from the early
leaf to the ripened fruit.

I have left until the last any notice of a field of work which the
Messrs. Siemens may be truly said to have made peculiarly their own,
viz., the electrical transmission and distribution of power; for I
firmly believe that in the future, although not perhaps in the near
future, the practical consequences of this will be such as are little
dreamed of now; and this opinion is, I know, held by men far more
competent to judge than I am.

In March, 1877, Dr. Siemens startled the world, in his address to
the Iron and Steel Institute, by his proposal to transmit to distant
points some of the energy of the Falls of Niagara. As I have before
explained in this room, the electrical transmission of energy depends
upon the fact that a dynamo-machine may be used either to convert
mechanical into electrical energy, _or to effect the reverse change_.
Hence to transmit power in this way, two dynamo-machines, connected by
a metallic conducting rod, or cable, are necessary; the first, at the
water-fall or other source of power, produces the electrical energy,
which, in its turn, is reconverted into mechanical power by the second
dynamo at the other end of the line. In his own grounds at Tunbridge
Wells he made numerous experiments in this subject, distributing the
power from a central steam-engine over various parts of his farm,
there to perform different functions. The most interesting practical
examples, as yet, are to be seen in the electric railroads erected
and worked by Siemens Brothers in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, &c., and in
the Electric Tramroad at Portrush. The special interest of this line
lies in the fact that it was the first real application to railroads
of “waste energy,” inasmuch as the cars are propelled by the power of
a water-fall eight miles off! The last occasion on which I had the
privilege of meeting Sir William Siemens was when, honored by his
invitation, I was present at the opening of this line in September
28, 1883. On that occasion, which, half-a-century hence, will be as
memorable as the opening of the Stockton and Darlington railroad,
the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland recognised the fact that this was an
entirely new departure in the development of the resources of Ireland,
and Sir William Siemens, in a most characteristic speech, admitted
that, had he known the difficulties before him, he should have thought
twice before he said “Yes” to Dr. Traill’s question as to whether the
proposed line could be worked electrically, but that, having said
“Yes,” he was determined to carry out the project. As illustrating
the character of the man, I may here quote the saying common in his
workshops, that as soon as any particular problem had been given up
by everybody as a bad job, it had only to be taken to Dr. Siemens for
him to suggest half-a-dozen ways of solving it, two of which would
be complicated and impracticable, two difficult, and two perfectly
satisfactory.

His extraordinary mental activity is shown in the fact that between
1845 and 1883 no less than 133 patents were granted in England to the
Messrs. Siemens, 1846 and 1851 being the only years in which none
were taken out. During the same period he contributed as many as 128
papers on scientific subjects to various journals, only three years
in this case also being without such evidences of work, and in 1882
the number of these papers reached seventeen, the average being about
seven patents and original scientific papers per year for more than the
third of a century, a truly wonderful record of untiring industry. To
show the impression his work made upon the world, I quote the following
passage from the many which appeared in the newspapers at the time of
his death. It is headed:


ONE MAN’S INTELLECT.

 Siemens telegraph wires gird the earth, and the Siemens cable steamer
 _Faraday_ is continually engaged in laying new ones. By the Siemens
 method has been solved the problem of fishing out from the stormy
 ocean, from a depth comparable to that of the vale of Chamounix,
 the ends of a broken cable. Electrical resistance is measured by
 the Siemens mercury unit. “Siemens” is written on water meters, and
 Russian and German revenue officers are assisted by Siemens apparatus
 in levying their assessments. The Siemens process for silvering and
 gilding, and the Siemens anastatic printing, mark stages in the
 development of these branches of industry. Siemens differential
 regulators control the action of the steam-engines that forge the
 English arms at Woolwich, and that of the chronographs on which the
 transits of the stars are marked at Greenwich. The Siemens caststeel
 works and glasshouses, with their regenerative furnaces, are admired
 by all artisans. The Siemens electric light shines in assembly-rooms
 and public places, and the Siemens gas light competes with it, while
 the Siemens electro-culture in greenhouses bids defiance to our long
 winter nights. The Siemens electric railway is destined to rule in
 cities and tunnels. The Siemens electric furnace, melting three pounds
 of platinum in twenty minutes, was the wonder of the Paris Exposition,
 which might well have been called an exposition of Siemens apparatus
 and productions, so prominent were they there.

Almost alone among all these results, his theory of the “Conservation
of Solar Energy” dealt with a question not affecting, or at least
not immediately affecting, human welfare. A great authority has
characterised this as “one of the highest and most brilliant flights
that the scientific imagination has ever made.” While astronomers
quietly accepted the conclusion that the sun is cooling down, and
will become at some distant but calculable epoch a mere cinder hung
in space, he endeavored to show that energy can no more be lost in
the solar system than it is in the laboratory or the factory. Sir
William Siemens’s theory assumed that the interplanetary spaces are
filled with an exceedingly thin or rare atmosphere of the compounds of
carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, such for example as aqueous vapor and
hydro-carbons. In this atmosphere the sun is revolving with a velocity
four times that of the earth, and hence the solar atmosphere at his
equator is thrown out to an enormous distance from his surface. One
consequence of this is a perpetual indraught, at the poles of the sun,
of the surrounding atmosphere. Thus the sun is everlastingly being fed,
and everlastingly sending out its light and heat, which thus recuperate
themselves: in this way the solar energy, which is sometimes assumed
to be lost in the empty void of interstellar space, really acts upon
the rare vapors therein, and converts the universe into a kind of vast
regenerative furnace! Had the author of this ingenious theory lived but
a few years longer, he would doubtless have labored to strengthen it
with further observations and arguments. As it is, it must remain as
a daring and original suggestion, the effort of a keen and sagacious
mind to bring to fresh subjects the experience and the knowledge
accumulated by work of quite a different kind. It is more scientific
to believe, with him, that there is some restorative and conservative
agency at work, than to suppose that the universe is gradually cooling
down into a ball of slag, were it only because his theory does not
require an effort of creation at once tremendous and futile. It leaves
us free to avoid contemplating a time when the solar system was not,
and another when it will cease to be.

Let us now take a brief glance at one or two of Sir William Siemens’s
public addresses on more general subjects. His interest in education
was so keen, and especially in that branch of education known as
technical or technological, that these addresses almost invariably
had this for their subject, and were frequently given at some public
ceremony in connection with it, such for example as distributions of
prizes. The most important of them, perhaps, was given on October 20,
1881, at the re-opening of the Midland Institute in Birmingham. He
there surprised his audience by depreciating the German polytechnic
system of colleges, on the ground that their students were wanting in
originality and adaptability to new conditions. After recounting at
some length the recent industrial applications of electricity, he said:

“My chief object in dwelling, perhaps unduly, upon these practical
questions, is to present to your minds in a concrete form the
hopelessness of looking upon any of the practical processes of the
present day as permanent, to be acquired in youth and to be the staple
occupation of a lifetime.... The practical man of former days will
have to yield his place to the unbiassed worker who with open mind is
prepared for every step forward as it arises. For this purpose it is
necessary that he should possess, beyond the mere practical knowledge
of his trade, a clear appreciation of the principles of action
underlying each operation, and such general acquaintance with the laws
of chemical and physical science as will make it easy for him to adapt
himself to the new order of things.”

He urged the prime importance of the teaching of science being
included in the curriculum of _every_ school, and of an adequate
supply of trained teachers, as well as of properly equipped
laboratories of all kinds, wherein to train them. Replying to the
proverb, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” he said: “A little
knowledge is an _excellent_ thing, only it must be understood that this
little is fundamental knowledge,” and he endorsed Lord Brougham’s pithy
saying, “Try to know something about everything, and everything about
something.”

In 1878 and 1879 he gave addresses on the same subject in Liverpool,
Tunbridge Wells, Paris, and elsewhere. In pointing out the results of
the superior French system of technical education, he urged that we
should not servilely copy it, but that we should imitate the French
example with due regard to the idiosyncrasies of our own country. He
approved the spontaneous and self-supporting nature of the English
system, as more adaptable to free and vigorous development than a
governmental system. His address to the Coventry Science Classes in
October, 1882, upon _Waste_, in which he took as examples, waste of
time, of food, of personal energy, of mechanical energy, and of fuel,
was full of wise and sound practical advice, clothed in the simplest
language.

In conclusion, let me try, with the aid of private letters and papers
which it has been my privilege to peruse, to bring before you some
of the personal characteristics of the man whose life-work we have
been considering. Of his extraordinary perseverance in overcoming
obstacles I have already spoken, and it has been well remarked
that, to a mind and body requiring almost perpetual exercise, these
difficulties supplied only a wholesome quantity of resistance. In the
two valuable qualities of tenacity and pliancy of intellect he has
perhaps never been surpassed. Suppleness and nimbleness of mind are
rarely allied with that persistent “grip,” which, without them, is not
unlikely to degenerate into obstinacy. In Sir William Siemens these
qualities were happily balanced. His talents were the admiration of his
contemporaries, and his memory will ever be respected and honored by
all, friends and rivals alike; for the facility with which he applied
his powers to the solution of the most difficult problems was equalled
by the modesty with which he presented the successful result of his
efforts. An eminent engineer said of him, “With all his great work, no
envious word was ever mixed!” At the time when he received his honorary
degree from the University of Oxford, a distinguished Oxonian wrote: “I
believe an alumnus more distinguished by great ability, and by a high
and honorable determination to use it for the good of his fellowmen,
and to help forward man’s law of existence, ‘Subdue the earth and
have dominion over it,’ never received a degree from the University
of Oxford.” Of the other distinctions heaped upon him, it was often
said that the Society rather than Dr. Siemens was honored; and when
he was knighted, a well-known man of science, writing to congratulate
him, said: “At the same time I feel that the ennobling of three such
men as yourself, Abel, and Playfair confers more honor on the order of
knighthood than even it does on science.”

The fame of Sir William Siemens was world-wide, as it deserved to be;
but those who knew him best will be the most ready to acknowledge that
the qualities of his heart were no less conspicuous than those of his
intellect. Hear what his pupils and assistants said of him:—“How my
dear old master will be missed, and what a gap in many walks of life
will be unfilled!” “There are many younger members of our profession
who will look elsewhere in vain for such genial uniform kindness and
sympathy as his invariably was.”“The seven years I spent in his service
were the happiest in my life.” “It was the loss of the kindest and best
friend I ever had, and I have not known such sorrow since the loss of
my older brother. The keenest incentive I had in my new work was the
desire of showing him that his kindly recommendation was justified by
the event.”In acknowledging the gift from Lady Siemens of some objects
of remembrance, one writes: “They, as visible objects on which his
eyes must have rested frequently, will, I feel certain, when I shall
look at them, tend to encourage me in overcoming difficulties, of which
there exist always plenty for those who wish to contribute their share,
however small, to the progress of things of this world. It is this
example which Sir William Siemens has given to all the world, which
will, I believe, be the most beneficial for future generations, and for
those who are wise enough to follow it.”

Of his character as a man of business let Messrs. Chance Bros. speak,
as one testimony out of many: “Our firm having been the first to carry
out in England on a large scale the Siemens regenerative process, we
were brought into close and frequent communication with him, and had
the opportunity of appreciating not only his extraordinary inventive
powers, but also his thorough straightforwardness and integrity of
character.”

I have spoken of his interest in education, and I quote two opinions
thereon. Lord Sherbrooke, in conversation with a mutual friend,
regretted immensely that he had not been a pupil of Sir W. Siemens, and
spoke of him, and of those who were working with him to enlarge our
sphere of knowledge, as the salt of the earth. A distinguished American
expressed himself as strongly impressed not only with a sense of his
great learning, but with admiration of the native strength of his mind,
and the soundness of his educational views.

Many testified to his great benevolence. The German Athenæum wrote: “If
the world of science has lost in your late husband one of its brightest
stars, the poor, the striving student, as well as the struggling
artist, have lost a liberal benefactor and a patron; and on hearing of
his sad and but too early death, many will have exclaimed, ‘We ne’er
shall look upon his like again!’” An eminent man spoke of him as one
“whose life has been spent in an unselfish and unceasing devotion to
God’s creatures.” Many of the letters which I have read convey the
thoughts of some of his friends on hearing of his death, in language
such as this: “We all felt struck down; realising how much poorer his
loss had left the world, leaving us as he did when full of the vigor
of his endless interests, and brightening all around him, not only by
his genius and high intellect, but by his marvellous benevolence and
tender consideration, so full was he of kind feeling and thought for
others. He was in a high degree the possessor of those sweet domestic
virtues which, while so simple and unostentatious, were so spontaneous
and charming. What an eminently well-rounded life was his! Our children
will always remember how he was held up to them as a man almost without
an equal.” A confidential servant, who had lived in his family many
years, wrote of him as the most Christ-like man she had ever met; and
that he always reminded her of the Arab prince who asked the recording
angel, when writing in his book the names of those who loved the Lord,
to write him as one who loved his fellowmen; the angel wrote and
carried the book to heaven, bringing it back again to show; and when
the prince looked, lo, his name led all the rest!

Of his family relations, the Rev. Mr. Haweis thus wrote, in a sermon
on “Friends!” “What a beautiful sight, too, was the friendship of the
late Sir William Siemens for his brothers, and theirs for him! not
less beautiful because lived out unconsciously in the full glare and
publicity of the commercial world, into which questions of amity are
not supposed to enter, especially when they interfere with business.
But here were several brothers, each with his large firm, his
inventions, his speculations, yet each at the other’s disposal; never
eager to claim his own, never a rival! These men were often separated
by time and space, but they were one in heart.”

One who had exceptional opportunities of knowing him wrote: “His
characteristic of intensity in whatever he was engaged in was
remarkable. Even in his relaxations he entered into them with his
whole heart; indeed, it did one good to hear his ringing laugh when
witnessing some amusing play—the face lit up with well-nigh childlike
pleasure—no trace of the weariness which had been visible after
a long day of work of such varied kinds, all demanding his most
serious attention, involving often momentous world-wide results. As a
travelling companion he was indeed the light and happiness of those
who had the privilege to be with him. Everything that could lessen
fatigue, or add to the enjoyment and interest of the journey, was
thought of, and tenderly carried out, and the knowledge of the pleasure
he was giving was his sweet reward. Young people and children clustered
round him, and he spared no trouble to explain simply and clearly any
question they asked him.”

The Rev. D. Fraser, in a funeral address, said: “The combination of
mental power with moral uprightness and strength is always impressive.
And this is what signally characterised him whose death we mourn. There
have been very few more active and inquiring minds in this generation:
the keenness and swiftness of his intellectual processes were even more
surprising than the extent and variety of his scientific attainments.
But such powers and such acquirements have, alas! been sometimes in
unworthy alliance with jealous dispositions and a low moral tone. What
will endear to us the memory of William Siemens is that he was, while
so able and skilful, also so modest, so upright, so generous, and so
totally free from all narrowness and paltriness of spirit. And God,
whose wisdom and power he reverently owned, has taken him from us!”

Yes, God has taken him from us to a deeper insight into, and a greater
work amongst and beyond, those works of His which he so loved and
studied here. Can we imagine a greater fulness of joy than that
which must now be his in the vast increase of his knowledge, and the
satisfying of every wish of the great warm heart and noble nature
which was so plainly but the beginning of better things? How can we
doubt that for a nature so richly endowed there is higher scope alike
for knowledge and for service in the great Eternity? Such beauty
and grandeur and energy and power cannot be laid low—they are not
destroyed, nothing is lost, but all will live again in ever-growing
splendor! A noble, beautiful, and gifted spirit has passed to the
higher and fuller life, and with us is left an influence for good which
cannot die. Just as this generation is now profiting by the solar
radiation which fell on the earth countless ages ago, so will the
labors of Charles William Siemens form a store of knowledge, potential
with respect to this and succeeding generations, and destined to confer
advantages, greater than we can now estimate, on the ever-advancing
cause of science, and on the moral, intellectual, and material progress
of humanity!—_Gentleman’s Magazine._



A FRENCH DRAMA UPON ABELARD.

BY A CONCEPTUALIST.

One warm evening in the summer of 1836, the late Count Charles De
Rémusat, sauntering through the streets of Paris in that frame of mind
which the French describe by the expressive word _desœuvrement_, was
arrested by the _affiche_ on the portals of the Ambigu-Comique. It
announced a drama by MM. Anicet Bourgeois and François cornue, called
_Heloïse et Abelard_. It had been running for several months; and the
vacant politician entered the house and settled himself in a _fauteuil
d’orchestre_. The future friend and colleague of Thiers, whom he
preceded to the grave only by a narrow interval, was already a person
of some distinction; but though in many respects a severe critic,
he was singularly tolerant of the literary defects and the artistic
shortcomings of dramas intended to propitiate the popular taste by
fertility of incident and freshness of invention. That evening,
however, he confessed himself displeased. The play violated familiar
records without either heightening or purifying passion, and sacrificed
history to fiction, without rendering it more philosophical.

But though he walked homeward with that sense of dissatisfaction which
is generally experienced by persons of education and sensibility after
a visit to the modern theatre, the play continued to haunt him. With
its subject he must have been already thoroughly familiar, for are not
Eloisa and Abelard the most celebrated lovers in history? But though
at college he had been distinguished by the elegance of his lyrics, De
Rémusat had attained the meridian of life without acquiring, or even
attempting to acquire, a distinct reputation as a man of letters. Like
most of the aspiring spirits of his time, he had betaken himself to
political journalism, trusting that it would conduct to parliamentary
honors, and obtain for him a share in the direction of affairs of
State. At first a somewhat docile pupil of Guizot, by the time the
famous _Globe_ was started he had shaken himself entirely free from the
influence of that doctrinaire statesman, and he shortly became one of
its most indefatigable contributors. How successfully he had employed
his pen may be surmised from the fact that his name appears in the
list of signatures to the famous Protest against the _Ordonnances_ of
Polignac, which caused the Revolution of July. The first Parliament
summoned after the accession of Louis Philippe found him, at the
age of thirty-three, Member for Muret a constituency in the Haute
Garonne which he continued to represent till the Revolution of 1848.
Justifiably ambitious of power, that he might advance the cause of
Constitutional Government, he abstained from associating his reputation
with non-political compositions; and this sternly practical resolve
seemed, through long persistence, at length to have weaned him from all
interest in the more subtle workings of the intellect.

But there is something stronger than the resolves of the most resolute
man, and that is innate disposition, or natural bent, which, try
to rid himself of it as he may, _tamen usque recurret_. De Rémusat
flattered himself that, in strenuously devoting his faculties to
political journalism, in writing leading articles on the current
topics of the hour, in examining Parliamentary Bills, and in composing
Legislative Reports, he had stifled in himself the original taint
of an evil passion for literature. That accidental visit to the
Ambigu-Comique, the representation of that inferior and distorted
play, stirred in him afresh his native passion. He could not get rid
of the figure of that strange personage, at once exalted philosopher
and frensied lover, belonging unquestionably to history, yet made, it
would seem, expressly for the purposes of romance. On the very morrow
of that eventful evening, he might have been seen in the library of
the Chamber of Deputies, asking for the volume that contained the
correspondence of Abelard and Eloisa. The chamber was not sitting, for
it was vacation time; and he carried the book with him to Lafitte, in
the Haute Garonne, where he had recently established his household
gods. He perused it without delay or intermission; for the man who,
taking up the correspondence of the separated lovers of the Paraclete,
could lay it down unfinished, may rest assured that he has little
genuine interest in the more romantic workings of human nature. But on
the 6th of September the Ministry of Casimir-Périer was overthrown,
and Count Molé was summoned to form a Cabinet. His Minister of the
Interior was M. Gasparin, and De Rémusat was appointed Under-Secretary
of State for the same department. Had the career of the new Ministry
been a protracted one, it is possible that time would have divorced
his attention from Abelard and mediæval philosophy. But in less
than a twelvemonth Molé’s Cabinet was overthrown, and the liberated
Under-Secretary buried himself once more in the passions and dialectics
of the twelfth century. He spent much of the winter of 1837 in studying
the period in which the Gallic Socrates—Gallorum Socrates, it was the
pleasure of Abelard’s followers to designate him—had lived, triumphed,
and suffered; and in the course of the summer of the following year
a “Philosophical Drama” on the subject was completed. For nearly
forty years it lay in manuscript in the author’s drawer, though he
occasionally permitted himself the indulgence of reading portions of it
in the intellectual salons of Paris which he frequented. Its success
in those select but critical circles was considerable; and it was
probably the encouragement thus extended to him that led to his writing
_Abélard, sa Vie, sa Philosophie, et sa Theologie_, the best account
extant of the great Conceptualist, his metaphysics, and his fate.

The latter work was published as long ago as 1845. Why, then, was the
drama kept back? The reason is a curious one. Perhaps in foraging so
extensively among the records of the twelfth century, De Rémusat had
become impressed with the mediæval motto, “Beware the man of one book.”
He was afraid, so his son assures us, to risk his reputation with the
public as a statesman and a man of affairs, by appearing before it
as the writer of a drama, even a “philosophical” one, on a subject
notoriously romantic.

 “Il faut bien dire,” says M. Paul De Rémusat, “que la première raison
 de mon père pour refuser de publier le drame d’Abélard, c’était la
 pensée que, dans notre pays, les hommes sont d’avance et dès leur
 début, et qu’il ne voulait point sortir de la situation littéraire
 et politique où il s’était d’abord placé. Il avait vu trop souvent
 la défiance accuellir une œuvre nouvelle et étrangère aux premiers
 essais d’un écrivain. L’idée d’un homme universel, ou seulement doué
 de talents variés, est rarement acceptée, et ce qu’on gagne en étendu
 paraît presque toujours perdu en profondeur. L’example de Voltaire,
 qui était si longtemps discuté et contesté, est plus effrayant pour
 les audacieux que rassurant pour les timides. Mon père n’espérait
 pas que l’on fit en sa faveur une exception à la loi commune de
 la spécialité de l’esprit. Il lui semblait qu’il n’eût acquit en
 littérature quelque réputation qu’au dépens de son autorité politique.”

These scruples, at least in the case of De Rémusat, seem excessive.
The French _bourgeoisie_ have never had that rooted antipathy to men
of genius which is characteristic of the middle class in England; and
it certainly would not have taken the better part of fifty years to
convince them that the author of _Vivian Grey_ had in him the stuff
of a practical and hard-headed statesman. Moreover, a philosophical
drama, by the very sobriety of its title, protects its author against
the charge of excessive literary levity. Finally, the political career
of the author of _Abélard_, though not devoid of distinction, was
hardly of that commanding sort which might console some men, at its
close, for the sacrifice of more congenial tastes and more enduring
fame. He became Minister of the Interior, for a brief period, in
Thiers’ Cabinet of 1840, and after the Revolution of 1848 he remained
a member of the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies. But the _Coup
d’état_ practically put an end to his political prospects. It is true
he reappeared, for a short interval, as the _fides Achates_ of Thiers
during that statesman’s brief tenure of power after the Franco-German
War. But he was too advanced in years, and too completely overshadowed
by his conspicuous friend, who concentrated all business and all
distinction in his own person, to add anything to his former reputation
as a politician. His son observes that, in withholding the publication
of his drama upon Abélard, he perhaps remembered one of the most
touching observations of his hero, “_Dieu punit en moi la présomption
des lettrés_.” I read the moral of De Rémusat’s life differently. The
penalty attached to the presumption of men-of-letters he undoubtedly
escaped. It was the politician whom Heaven punished, for presuming to
think that a man can arrange and map out his career irrespectively of
the gifts with which it has endowed him, or that it is permissible,
in deference to the prejudices of the vulgar, to protect one’s brow
against the imperishable bays of the poet, lest they should be denied
the tinsel and quickly-fading wreaths of the popular politician.
He lived, we will trust, to estimate the relative value of things
more wisely, though he might have learnt, while studying the fate of
Abélard, that notoriety, which is the nearest approach to fame to be
secured by a politician, is “fantastic, fickle, fierce, and vain.” But
if he learned the lesson, he learned it in long years of exclusion from
worthless power. He returned to his books when universal suffrage,
allied with despotism, brought forth that atrocious bastard, Imperial
Democracy; and he found in pursuits, his native passion for which he
had once been half ashamed to own, something more than compensation for
the loss of personal rivalries and sterile debates.

At the same time, let us beware of doing De Rémusat an injustice.
That he was one of those men who caress their reputation, and, in
doing so, too often mar it, is certain; for we have his own avowal
of the infirmity, corroborated by the statements of his son. But, in
accounting for the suppression of his drama upon Abélard, we must allow
something to genuine and, let me hasten to add, excessive modesty.
It is not the voice of the literary coquette, but of the diffident
literary workman, that we overhear in these charming sentences, to be
found in the preface to his prose labors upon Abélard:

 Changeant de but et de travail, je m’occupai alors de mieux connaître
 l’Abélard de la réalité, d’apprendre sa vie, de pénétrer ses
 écrits, d’approfondir ses doctrines; et voilà comme s’est fait le
 livre que je soumets en ce moment au jugement du public. Destiné à
 servir d’accompagnement et presque de compensation à une tentative
 hasardeuse, il paraît seul aujour d’hui. Des illusions téméraires sont
 à demi dissipées; une sage voix que je voudrais écouter toujours, me
 conseille de renoncer aux fictions passionnées et de dire tristement
 adieu à la muse qui les inspire.

   .   .   .   .   .   . Abi
  Quo blandi juvenum te revocant preces.

No doubt a mere literary _succès d’estime_ would not have satisfied
one who had been an Under-Secretary of State; and great literary
reputations were being made in France at the time this resolution
was taken. But De Rémusat goes on to say that he “tenait à expier en
quelque sorte une composition d’un genre moins sévère,” and frankly
stating that the drama was “une de ces œuvres enfin qui n’ont qu’une
excuse possible, celle du talent,” he, with sincere humility, put it
back in his drawer.

Was he right? Having read his Philosophical Drama, I am of opinion
that he was wrong. It exhibits literary faculty of a high order, and
it is deficient in none of those penetrating qualities of intelligence
which serve to render the imagination at once free and efficient
when engaged in dramatic work. We do not say that it reaches the
heaven of invention; and, indeed, its author was inspired by no such
soaring ambition. He writes in prose, and prose which, though always
classical and often eloquent, never seeks to pass the boundary between
prose and poetry invariably respected by the judicious. But he had
saturated himself with the atmosphere of the time in which the action
of his drama is laid; and he had represented to himself in clear and
well-defined outlines the character of his central figure. To do all
this is surely to write a work of no little difficulty with no little
success.

Shortly after quitting Nantes by the post-road that conducts to
Poitiers, the traveller passes, before reaching Clisson, a village
consisting of one long street, which, if he thinks it worth while to
inquire, he will be told is called Le Pallet. No one, however, will
concern himself to add that behind the unpretending but venerable
church which stands on a slight elevation to the left, above the last
cottages in the place, are to be seen some all but submerged walls,
and here and there the choked vestiges of an ancient moat. These are
all that remain of the castle of Le Pallet, which was levelled with
the ground more than four centuries and a half ago, in the course of
the wars that succeeded the attack directed by Marguerite de Clisson
against John V., Duke of Brittany. Hard by is an insignificant stream,
known as the Sanguèze, and which evidently owes its name, like the
Italian Sanguinetto that flows into the Lake of Thrasymene, to the
blood of battle that is recorded to have once dyed its waters.

In 1079, the Castle of Le Pallet stood intact on its little eminence;
and in that year, though on what day of the calendar cannot be said,
the famous dialectician, Pierre Abélard, was born within its walls. His
father, its lord, was called Bérenger; his mother’s name was Lucie.
This much may be asserted, with every probability that it is true;
but these bare facts are about all that tradition has preserved, or
literary industry unearthed. Bérenger, though inured, like everyone
in his position in those warlike times, to the exercise of arms,
manifested a predilection for letters rarely encountered in his class,
and is said to have intentionally inspired his sons with a love for
philosophical studies, not easily reconciled with the performance
of knightly duties. There were, at least, three other sons of the
marriage, Raoul, Porcaire, and Dagobert, and a daughter, Dényse; and if
we may trust the testimony of the first of the Letters which compose
the famous correspondence of Eloisa and Abelard, into all Bérenger’s
sons alike was inculcated the notion that distinction in knowledge
is a worthier object of ambition than the trophies of war. Pierre
manifested a much readier disposition than his brothers to accept the
paternal estimate of the relative value of courage and culture; and
though he was the eldest-born, he waived his rights of inheritance
in order more freely to pursue the path indicated by his parent. The
story is a strange, not to say an incredible one, for times when the
sword was the only true badge of honor; and we are driven to conclude
either that Abelard sought to remove from himself the stigma which he
would have incurred by such a choice, had he not surrounded it with
the halo of filial duty, or that his biographers were determined that
dramatic completeness should attend his character from the very outset
of his career. His own words are that he deliberately abandoned the
court of Mars in order to shelter himself in the lap of Minerva.
Probably the only conclusion that can safely be drawn from all the
statements respecting his selection is, that he developed at an early
age extraordinary talents for the acquisition of learning and the
conduct of philosophical discussion, and that he was freely permitted
to indulge his bent by parents who had no interest in thwarting him.

It was impossible, however, that he should cultivate his passion
for letters and philosophy within the boundaries of Brittany, then,
as now, perhaps the least instructed portion of what was not yet
territorially known as France. He travelled from place to place in
search of persons who taught dialectics, and even thus early he prided
himself upon imitating the ancient philosophers to the extent of being
a peripatician or vagrant. Among his preceptors at this period, the
name of one only is known to us; nor is it possible to say where it
was that Abelard reaped the benefit of his teaching. Jean Roscelin,
Canon of Compiègne, was already under ecclesiastical ban for his
uncompromising Nominalism, when Abelard entered upon his teens, and for
a time at least had to take refuge in England. Some have contended that
Abelard must have passed a portion of his youth upon our shores; but
the supposition is as utterly without proof as the assertion of Otho of
Frisingen that Roscelin was Abelard’s first instructor in philosophy.
It is more probable that the young catechumen encountered the
ostracised teacher in some of those more hidden and remote conferences
of learning, to which the hostility of his ecclesiastical superiors had
compelled him to limit his philosophical energy.

But what was that which Abelard wished to learn and that Roscelin,
or any teacher, or, as we should say, Professor of the period, had
to communicate? And how was the knowledge, which some sought to
impart and many to acquire, conserved? Universities had not yet been
called into being; and no great centres of recognized learning drew
to themselves the youth or crystallized the opinions of an entire
nation. In their stead, and operating as yet as sole substitute, were
Episcopal Schools, under the immediate protection and supervision of
the Archbishop or Bishop of the diocese; and it depended almost as
much on the ambition of a Prelate as upon the importance of his See,
whether his School acquired a wide renown, or remained the obscure
head-quarters of local instruction. Deriving his faculties from the
Bishop, there presided over each Episcopal School a clerical lecturer,
or “scholastic”; and all those who attended his classes, or course,
were termed his scholars. The success of his teaching and the number
of his followers necessarily shed lustre on his episcopal superior
and upon the province in which the latter resided; and the emulation
which burned among the more intelligent and aspiring members of the
Episcopate, in their endeavors to secure for their respective schools
Masters of erudition and eloquence, was almost an exact anticipation
of the spirit of honorable rivalry that subsists among the Governing
Bodies of modern German Universities. Those who favor the doctrine that
there is nothing new under the sun, will perhaps be disposed to look
backward rather than forward for a parallel to the influence of the
Scholastics of the Middle Ages. Hippias, Prodikos, Gorgias, and other
less famous men, whose names have been preserved to us by Plato, passed
from city to city in ancient Greece, teaching and disputing. Some, we
are told, amassed considerable fortunes; while one and all gathered
about them the restless brains of their generation, who carried through
the land the fame of their doctrines and the brilliance of their
rhetoric.

De Rémusat’s drama opens in the cloister of Nôtre-Dame, where a number
of scholars are assembled to hear a lecture by Guillaume de Champeaux.
The master has not yet arrived; and the first scene is passed in what
the undergraduates of the nineteenth century call chaff. Finally, the
great lecturer makes his appearance; the scholars crowd around him,
and he proceeds to expound his thesis of the reality of Universals, or
the substantiality of abstract ideas. In a word, he is the champion
of Realism as opposed to Nominalism, and maintains, for example, that
Man exists as really and essentially as any individual man, and that
Humanity is not a mere name or intellectual abstraction, but just as
much an entity as a building composed of so many stones. At the end of
his discourse he says, “Are you all satisfied, or is anyone present
harassed by doubt? If so, let him speak, and I will answer him.”

Abelard rises. He is unknown equally to master and to scholars, but he
soon enchains attention by the vigor of his dialectic. He involves the
lecturer in a series of contradictions, and ends by establishing his
proposition that Universals are neither realities, nor mere names, but
Conceptions, and by winning over the whole class to his views. In vain
Guillaume de Champeaux pronounces the word heresy, and points out that
Abelard bases his theories on the dangerous foundation of human reason.
The remainder of the First Act, which is entitled “La Philosophie,” is
devoted to depicting the supremacy gradually obtained by the brilliant
young Breton over the students of Nôtre-Dame, until, Guillaume de
Champeaux finally abandoned by his scholars, Abelard can exclaim,
“_Maintenant l’Ecole de Paris, c’est moi!_”

The Second Act, the scene of which is laid at Laon a year later, is
headed “La Théologie”; and in it Abelard acquires over Anselme of
Laon, in theological controversy, a victory analogous to that he had
previously won over Guillaume de Champeaux in the realm of metaphysics.
The audience is the same, for the students of Nôtre-Dame have followed
Abelard to Laon; and the same is the weapon with which his triumph
is achieved. “When theology,” he exclaims in the course of a warm
disputation with Anselme, “is not seconded by dialectic, vainly does
it knock at the door of the spirit; it is reason that holds the key,
and opens to the truth.” Anselme replies with anathemas. Then Abelard
bursts out:—

 “You hear him. My friends, he is old and feeble. Be good to him, but
 lead him away. His advanced age unfits him for these wrestlings with
 science. Take him into the air. Alas! Saint Matthew was right when he
 said you may not put new wine into old bottles.”

His words are received with acclamation; and the overthrow of Anselme
de Laon, in spite of his friendship with Saint Bernard, is as complete
as the dethronement of Guillaume de Champeaux. In an incredibly short
space of time, Abelard has seen the fulfilment of his most ambitious
dreams, and he finds himself surrounded by a band of scholars who
regard him as the oracle of his age. Yet in the midst of these
astounding triumphs, he experiences “a mixture of impatience and
weakness, of ardor and weariness,” and thus soliloquizes:—

 “My fondest hopes have been surpassed. Withal a secret disquietude,
 the source of which escapes me, leaves me dissatisfied. I feel
 agitated, fatigued, worn out. Everything with me has succeeded;
 nothing is wanting to me that I can name, and yet I am not happy. A
 vague sense of irritation, which I cannot overcome, prevents me from
 delighting in anything; this life of struggle is arid and devouring,
 and in the glowing eyes of my scholars I often discern more joy than I
 can attain by all the efforts of my intellect.”

It is not difficult to surmise the disease from which Abelard was
suffering. It was

    The dreary desert of the mind,
    The waste of feelings unemployed;

and it is just as easy to guess the cure that is forthcoming. The Third
Act is called “L’Amour,” and we find Abelard installed, for so many
hours a day, in the house of Fulbert, Canon of Nôtre Dame—for the scene
has again shifted to Paris—indoctrinating his erudite niece Eloisa into
all the learning of the time. In De Rémusat’s drama she is represented
as already in love, if not with the person, with the renown of Abelard;
and before his second visit she thus communes with her thoughts:—

 He is coming. I cannot read, except with him. I understand nothing,
 except through him. Before he came I fancied I knew something,
 appreciated the ancients, and felt what is beautiful. I was a child
 feeding upon memory; that is all. It is he, he alone, who has revealed
 to me the secret of things, who has shown me the essence of my
 thoughts, who has initiated me into the mysteries of the spirit.

He arrives, and the lesson begins. She is all attention. But Abelard
wanders from the theme. He would fain, he says, tear himself from the
crowd, and study with her. “We would read, we would work together—or
rather, for what avails this study that consumes the soul—we would
enjoy tranquillity, long walks, a bright sun, a beautiful country, a
boat upon the river, or the fire-side, even as we are now. Should we
not be happy?” Her answers do not satisfy him, for they are modest and
measured. “You do not understand me,” he exclaims, with impatience, and
she begs to be forgiven for being so inapt a scholar. No, it is not
that. They resume the lesson, but this time it is the _Heroides_ of
Ovid that lie before them. Together they read _Hero to Leander_, and
_Leander to Hero_, those two exquisite Love Letters, which will always
make Ovid a contemporary. “Galeotto fu il libro e chi lo scrisse,” says
Dante, in that unmatched description of the _Tempo de’ dolci sospiri_,
and _Di dubbiosi desiri_; and what happened to Francesca dà Polenta and
Paolo Malatesta when reading

  Di Lancilotto, come amor lo strinse,

happened equally to Abelard and Eloisa when reading the imaginary
correspondence of Hero and Leander. “O, tu es si belle!” “C’est toi qui
es beau.” “Beau de notre amour.”

Very French, no doubt. But it is done with considerable skill, and
occupies almost as many pages as I have devoted to its words. Love
scenes cannot be compressed. They are, of necessity, long, except
to those who figure in them. Whether this was the portion of his
philosophical drama which the serious statesman was fond of reading
aloud in the intellectual _salons_ of Paris, I cannot say. But, if it
was, I suspect that some of the more staid matrons among his audience
repeated the words put by the author into the mouth of his heroine,
“C’est comme la vapeur de l’encens, cela enivre.”

Meanwhile, Abelard neglects his public duties, and his attachment to
one fair student becomes the subject of speculation and banter among
his scholars. By degrees the weakness of the great Scholastic is
bruited in the streets, and ballads are sung at night in the public
places associating his name with the niece of Fulbert. One of these
Abelard himself overhears. Here is one strophe with its refrain:—

    C’est l’histoire singulière
    A se raconter le soir,
    Du maître et l’ecolière,
    De l’amour et du savoir.

    Fillettes, fillettes,
    Trop lire est mauvais.
    Cueillez des violettes
    Au prè Saint-Gervais.

He is alarmed, and his consternation is increased when he learns from
Eloisa that the suspicions of her uncle have been aroused. There is but
one remedy—marriage. Eloisa protests; for will not marriage rob Abelard
of glory and preferment? At last she consents, but with the utmost
reluctance, to secret nuptials. Abelard himself, in the celebrated
letter written by him, _Ad Amicum_, declares that Fulbert was privy to
their union, and that it was the self-sacrificing denial by Eloisa,
after the marriage, that any union had taken place, which roused the
vindictiveness of her uncle. De Rémusat, I suppose for the sake of
dramatic effect, represents Fulbert as ignorant of the marriage, until
the mutilated body of Abelard lies at her feet:—

  _Fulbert._

  Tenez, voilà votre fiancé.

  _Heloise_ (se jetant sur son amant).

  Mon mari!

  _Fulbert._

  Son mari! Je suis perdu.

So ends the Third Act. The fourth is called, somewhat arbitrarily,
“La Politique,” and is mainly concerned with the condemnation of
Abelard by the Council of Soissons. True, the authority of the King
is invoked against him; but the enemies by whom Abelard is pursued
are theologians, and it is they who humiliated him by compelling him
publicly to burn his treatise on the Trinity. But for the reappearance
of Eloisa at this critical juncture, the Fourth Act would be somewhat
tedious. There is no historical foundation for her intervention; but
it is strictly in harmony with what we know of her character, and De
Rémusat turns it to admirable account. Abelard asks why she seeks out
one who is condemned, who is proscribed, who is silenced? She replies
that she has come to be with him on the greatest day of his life.
Nothing was wanting to his glory but martyrdom; and now he has obtained
it. His work is finished; let him abjure the world that has treated him
so ill.

 Viens, allons-nous-en, quittons le siècle, fuyons ce pays, la France,
 le monde chrétien. Chez les infidèles nous trouverons plus de repos,
 nous serons plus ignorés, nous vivrons plus heureux. Cherchons la
 retraite la plus profonde, la plus lointaine, la plus perdue; cachons
 à tous notre vie et notre bonheur.

Next she invokes the seductive allurements of nature, and presents to
him a picture of rural loveliness and felicity, recalling the famous
invitation to sunny climes in _The Lady of Lyons_:—

 Nous irons vers ces climats vantés où le ciel est si pur, l’air
 si doux, la fleur si embaumée.... Ensemble, nous verrons se lever
 l’aurore; ensemble, nous verrons le jour finir, et ta main dans ma
 main, mon cœur sur ton cœur, nous n’aurons qu’une vie pour deux âmes?

Is it that these glowing words recall to Abelard what she has utterly
forgotten, and what she was too tender and disinterested a spirit
even to remember? He cannot rise to the height of her great argument.
“Fuyez, que je ne vous revoie jamais,” he replies. “Votre présence est
un supplice, laissez moi!” Her answer reveals the secret of her whole
nature:—

 En vérité, je ne vous comprends pas. Vous êtes malheureux, opprimé,
 abandonné, et vous repoussez le seul être au monde qui vous aime et
 qui vous reste.

But it is all in vain. She still fails to understand him, and, with the
faith and humility of all true love, she asks if she has offended him:—

 Non, je ne suis pas offensé, remettez-vous, je vous remercie. Héloïse,
 vous êtes bonne et dévouée, je suis profondement touché de vos soins.
 Vous allez retourner à votre monastère. Vous savez combien cette
 maison a besoin de votre présence; ne m’oubliez pas, priez pour moi,
 vous et vos religieuses.

Growing still colder, his last words are, “Adieu, Madame, je me
recommande à vos prières.” She kisses his hand, and exclaims, “Et qui
priera pour moi?”

The Fifth Act, entitled “La Mort,” is passed in the Convent of
Cluny, where Abelard is a sort of ecclesiastical prisoner under
the supervision of Saint Bernard. His one sole desire is to make a
pilgrimage to Rome, to explain his doctrines to the Pope, and to get
the ban of heresy removed from his teaching. But he is broken in
health, and troubled in brain. His mind wanders. In sleep he murmurs
the name of Eloisa. His sole consolation is the faithful attachment of
a former pupil, who brings him ever and anon news of her who is living
and praying at Paracleta. At last he expires; and the drama closes with
the tolling of the convent bell.

I have given, I fear, but an inadequate idea of the merits of the play;
for its chief value is in the full and varied picture it presents of
the life and manners of the time. It is almost needless to say that
it is not a stage but a closet drama, and it has the necessary defect
of every such composition; it is a little wearisome. But no form, and
no treatment, could blunt the interest that must ever cling to the
pathetic story of Abelard and Eloisa; and I should be surprised to
hear that any reader could close the book without feeling that it is
suffused with the _lachrymæ rerum_ that unfailingly touch the human
heart.

For the rest, I do not know that anyone could treat the story of
the unhappy lovers of the Paraclete, imaginatively, in such a way
as to disarm criticism. I do not refer to any technical difficulty,
arising out of the central catastrophe in Abelard’s life. To the true
imaginative artist, that would mean as little as it meant to Eloisa.
Indeed, it would assist him to obtain compassion for Abelard, just as
it made Eloisa love him only all the more. It is the something beyond
compassion of which Abelard stands in need, that would baffle the most
skilful artistic handling. He would necessarily have to be the hero,
and, unfortunately, he is not heroic. Were it not that such a woman
as Eloisa loved him, I should be inclined to say that he was hateful.
I doubt if there ever lived the man altogether worthy of such a love
as hers; yet one would be sorry to think that hundreds of men do not
exist more worthy of it than he was. One forgives him much for her
sake; yet it is her perfection that makes him look the more imperfect.
The contrast between her simplicity and his complexity, between her
single-minded devotion to him and his many-sided calculations of what
would be best for himself, ends by making him odious; and one is
compelled to acknowledge the truth of that bitter saying of Rousseau,
“Tout homme réflechi est méchant.”

It is to no man-of-letters, recent or remote, neither to Bussy-Rabutin
nor to Colardeau, neither to Pope nor to De Rémusat, but to the famous
Correspondence of the pathetic pair, that we must turn if we are to
understand either their character or their story. The first letter is
written by Abelard, not to Eloisa, but to “a Friend,” and relates the
leading incidents of his life. Nowhere, it has often been remarked,
does a man so thoroughly, because so unconsciously, betray the secret
of his disposition as in his letters. _Raconter mon histoire_ is,
to this day, a favorite occupation with Frenchmen; and Abelard is
garrulous about his own merits, his own grief, his own successes.
He speaks contemptuously of William of Champeaux, and with just as
little respect of Anselm of Laon. It was, however, customary in the
Middle Ages for controversialists to treat each other with scant
courtesy; the flattering consideration which people who sneer at
each other in private nowadays exhibit towards each other in public
not having yet come into fashion. It is when Abelard narrates how he
made the acquaintance of Eloisa that we get the full measure of his
fundamentally coarse and selfish nature. Fancy a man writing of a
woman who had loved him, and loved him as Eloisa loved Abelard, that
she was _per faciem non infima_, or, as we should say in English, “not
bad-looking”! Fancy his being able to remember, let alone to describe
without intolerable shame, that, having heard of her accomplishments,
he deliberately planned to win her affections, adding that he felt
sure this would be easy, because “tanti quippe tunc nominis eram, et
juventutis et formæ gratia præeminebam, ut quamcunque feminarum nostro
dignarer amore nullam vererer repulsam,” that he was so celebrated, so
young, and so good-looking, that he had no fear of being repulsed by
any woman whom he honored with his love! The repugnance inspired by
such language would be great, even if he had afterwards appreciated the
prize he had begun by coveting so basely. It is not easy to forgive
Saint Augustine for his conduct towards the mother of Deodatus. But he,
at least, describes the passions of his youth with sincere humility and
profound remorse; whilst Abelard recalls without a pang the colloquies
and correspondence he planned in order to influence Eloisa. In the same
spirit he narrates the tender, passionate passages that ensued. He is
equally ignoble when Fulbert discovers their attachment. He excuses
himself by reminding her uncle “quanta ruina summos quoque viros ab
ipso statim humani generis exordio mulieres dejecerint,” how many of
the greatest men, from the beginning of time, have been ruined by
the seductions of women. By way of compensation, he tells us that he
offered to marry Eloisa on condition that their union should be kept
secret, _ne famæ detrimentum caperem_, lest, forsooth, his fame should
suffer detriment. If, instead of hiring a couple of bravos Fulbert had
taken him by the heels and flung him into the Seine, one’s sense of
justice would have been better satisfied.

Turn we a moment from the composed reminiscences of this circumspect
dialectician, to the woman _per faciem non infima_, whose heart he had
broken and whose life he had ruined. In obedience to his wish she had
taken the veil, and writes to him from the Convent of the Paraclete,
made over to her by him, and of which she was now the Lady Abbess. She
has read his letter “To a friend,” of which she says, with unconscious
irony, that though it was composed to soothe that friend’s sorrows, it
is full of the sorrows of the writer himself. She finds this the most
natural thing in the world; and all she asks is that to her, too, he
will write, and that he will instruct her, who gave herself entirely
to him, how to direct those who have given themselves entirely to God.
She reminds him, not reproachfully, but in order to convince him that
she has need of him still, that at a word from him she had completed
her own ruin, and that, though he was the only object of her love,
she had promptly taken the veil at his bidding, “ut te tam corporis
mei quam animi unicum possessorum ostenderem,” in order to show that
she belonged to him, and to him alone, body, heart, and soul. “God
is my witness,” she goes on, “that in loving you I loved yourself
only, not anything you could give or bring me.” Then, going to the
utmost limit and horizon of feminine love and self-sacrifice, she
adds: “Et si uxoris nomen sanctius ac validus videtur, dulcius mihi
semper extitit amicæ vocabulum; aut, si non indigneris, concubinæ vel
scorti; ut, quo me videlicet pro te amplius humiliarem, ampliorem apud
te consequerer gratiam, et sic etiam excellentiæ tuæ gloriam minus
læderem.” How completely Pope has falsified this sentiment in his
famous paraphrase! His Epistle of _Eloisa to Abelard_ is, no doubt, an
admirable composition; but it is unfair to Eloisa, since its main note
is passion, not self-sacrifice, and self-sacrifice was the beginning,
middle, and end of her love for Abelard. Once only she reproaches him.
He had made her take the religious habit before assuming it himself.
Why? Did he doubt her? She is overwhelmed with grief at the thought;
for does he not know that she would have gladly either preceded or
followed him into the jaws of hell? Nay, she must perforce have done
so, for her heart was not hers, but his. Why, then, does he not write
and console her? Was it concupiscence, rather than affection, that
made them one? For her part, she has no difficulty in answering the
question. “Dum tecum carnali fruerer voluptate, utrum id amore vel
libidine agerem incertum pluribus habebatur.” Can they, she asks, be in
any doubt now? “Nunc enim finis indicat quo id inchoaverrim principio.”
The end surely shows by what motive she was impelled at the beginning.
Everything she has given up—himself, the world, pleasure, and freedom;
reserving to herself nothing but the luxury of still executing
his will. Of a truth, it was so; and reading this extraordinary
correspondence, anyone who is curious on the subject may discover for
himself the eternal distinction between

  Short-memoried lust and long-remembering love.

With an utter unconsciousness of his own baseness, Abelard recalls
the arguments employed by Eloisa to dissuade him from the marriage
insisted on by him solely from dread of the anger of Fulbert and
the reproaches of the world. She invoked, he tells us, the name of
every writer, Pagan and Christian, in whose pages are portrayed the
drawbacks and disadvantages domestic life presents to a man of genius
and ambition. Cicero, Theophrastus, St. Paul, St. Jerome, all are
pressed into the service to prove that a man cannot attend both to a
wife and to philosophy. “Where is he,” she asks, “that, wishing to
dedicate himself to meditations upon the Scriptures or upon philosophy,
can put up with the cries of the nursery, the songs of the nurse that
lulls a babe to sleep, the perpetual coming and going of domestics?”
Rich men can sometimes avoid these interruptions and inconveniences;
but philosophers are never rich, and she cites Seneca to convince him
that she would be a chain round his neck, a tether to his feet. The
title of lover would be more honorable and more safe for him; and as
for her, she cares not what she is called, so long as he loves her.
Her sole ambition is to retain his affection by tenderness, and not
by worldly ties. Finding him unconvinced—for Abelard well knew that
such arguments would have no weight with Fulbert—she declared, with
sobs and tears, that it was the one step to be taken if they wanted
to destroy their happiness and to prepare for themselves a sorrow as
profound and lasting as their love. After recalling this outburst of
tender desperation, he observes, with the fine tranquillity of a truly
critical spirit, that Eloisa thereby demonstrated, as the whole world
has since acknowledged, that she was endowed with the gift of prophecy!

In order to understand and appreciate what some persons will perhaps
consider the perverse and even unfeminine expostulations of Eloisa, it
must be remembered that, in the twelfth century, marriage was supposed
to disqualify a man for a career of distinction. The celibacy of the
clergy, for which Hildebrand had battled so unremittingly, was now
definitively established, and all who aspired to employment in or about
the precincts of the Church had to sanction, by their practice, the
slur thus passed upon women. When Abelard first met Eloisa he was not
an ecclesiastic. But he was saturated with ecclesiastic ideas; and if
he was to pursue his study and exposition of Theology, he could do so
only under episcopal protection, which would never have entrusted the
defence of spiritual truths to one who had openly contracted a carnal
union. It is easy to perceive what immense value Abelard attached to
the recognition of his powers, and to the establishment of his fame;
nor is there any difficulty in surmising that he often expatiated to
Eloisa on a theme so interesting to them both. It has been said—

  Man dreams of fame, but woman wakes to love.

But, waking or dreaming, Eloisa thought only of Abelard’s glory,
Abelard’s advancement. Her secret, unacknowleged love was to feed his
fame, as the hidden root and unnoticed tendrils feed the swelling
trunk, impelling it into blossom and leaf and fruit. Well might
Mr. Cousin declare, when a discussion was once raised as to who is
the greatest woman that ever lived, that Eloisa towers above all
competitors. But for the self-obliterating tenderness of her heart,
the self-asserting strength of Abelard’s intellect would long since
have been forgotten. Fancy a man worrying himself to death in order to
establish that he is not heterodox in his views concerning the reality
of Universals, while such a woman offers him, in her own particular
person, the sum and abstract of all that is worth having in the world!

Yet, in some sort, Abelard expiated his faults. I fail to see in him
the passionate champion of free thought, which De Rémusat and others
sometimes appear disposed to represent him, or it would be more easy
to extend to him the indulgence which, for that reason, has to be
yielded to a tortuous egotist like Voltaire, or to a cold-hearted
sentimentalist like Rousseau. As far as I can see, he entertained
certain metaphysical opinions, which, whether sound or otherwise, are
not of the smallest practical importance, and upon which the dignity
and happiness of mankind in no degree turn. Accused of heresy, he was
condemned; and the condemnation was peculiarly wounding to his vanity.
But he made his peace with the Church, and in one of the latest of his
letters to Eloisa is particularly anxious to convince her that he has
done so. No doubt it was not easy to battle with the strongly-organized
Theology of the times; but if anyone should ask what Abelard was to
do when accused of heresy, the answer might be that of the mother of
Horatius, who, when asked, “Que voulez vous qu’il fasse contre trois?”
replied: “Qu’il mourût!” Eloisa had died a thousand times over for his
sake. Could he not die once for his precious Universals and his tenets
on the Trinity, if he really thought them true, and so very important!

No; the only hold he has upon our indulgence is that time and suffering
at length awakened in his heart a tardy tenderness for Eloisa, and
inspired him with something like an appreciation of her unrivalled
goodness. He handed over to her his refuge of the Paraclete; and when
she wrote to him for comfort, for counsel, for spiritual explanations,
he did not withhold them. He could not be so blind, or so unmindful
of the past, as not to read between the lines, and not to perceive
that under the exposition of the difficulties she was experiencing
in directing the community of which she had become the head, there
still palpitated the recollection of the earliest instruction she had
received at his hands. Then he expounded Ovid. Now he comments on the
Scriptures. But the master was the same, and the same the pupil; and
over and over again the Abbess of the Paraclete recalls the niece of
Fulbert. We feel that she almost invents doubts, that she multiplies
scruples, and that she entangles herself in perplexities, in order
that he may solve them. In a word, she is as unchangeably in love
with him as ever. He is measured and circumspect in his replies; but
a certain vein of spiritual tenderness underlies them, and we feel
that his nature has grown nobler, and his heart is, at last, less
pre-occupied with self. Perhaps he had discerned now, when it was too
late, the value of a woman’s love, and the worthlessness of worldly
notoriety. Before he died, he begged that his body might be carried to
the Paraclete. Thither, accordingly, it was secretly transported and
lovingly interred by her who, as the Chronicle of Tours says, “_était
veritablement son amie_.”

For twenty years more, Eloisa lived on, a model of sanctity and wisdom.
Even Villon, in one of his ballads, speaks of her as “la très sage
Heloïse.” When she died, her sole request was that she might be laid
by the side of Abelard. Her injunction was obeyed; and as her body
was being lowered into the grave, that of Abelard was for an instant
reanimated, so tradition affirms, and he opened his arms to receive
her.—_National Review._



THE UNITY OF THE EMPIRE.

BY THE MARQUIS OF LORNE.


Lord Beaconsfield called the English an enthusiastic people, and there
is some danger that we may hastily infer that if our fit of enthusiasm
for new schemes of Imperial Federation be not at once caught up by the
colonies, a permanent union with them is impossible. It must be “either
a closer union or disintegration,” say some. But let us not be too
hasty in assuming that sudden developments are necessary.

If Mr. Goschen will allow us to say so, “after all” it is no bad
thing that the Federation League should have been formed, although
it may produce just now more “fads” than federation. The formation
of the Society shows that men’s minds are alive to the value of the
colonies. It is to be hoped that there will be less said of drawing
“the bonds between us and our children closer,” and more of confirming
their position where satisfactory, and of securing their commercial
aims. The position of a listening and helpful friend should be ours,
rather than that of a dictatorial parent. Where colonists have spoken
of federation, they have often meant reciprocity in trade. Where
Englishmen have spoken of it, they have often meant only colonial
contribution to common defence. Our long-established trade has taught
us that defence means defence of trade-interests, wherever they lead.
Our sons’ minds have been more set on creating industries at home,
and they have hardly begun to think of wars which come from opening
new markets. Although the different lines of thought lead to the same
conclusion, namely, organised union for common interests, we may be
somewhat premature in laying down plans for Imperial co-operation. They
who have as yet spoken of these plans are, for the most part, British
politicians. It is, however, significant that the Prime Minister of
Canada was present at a meeting of the “Imperial Federation League,”
and gave a general promise of Canadian aid in any “wars of defence.”
It remains to be seen how far Canada would be willing to impose a
permanent charge on her Treasury for other than home defence. As yet
she has had too much to do in developing public works to attain to
more than the maintenance, in a poorly organised and badly officered
condition, of a force of about 20,000, out of a nominal roll of 40,000
militia, whose fine physique and great individual intelligence make
them worth a great deal more than their small numbers imply. She has
shown that she looks to England to do armed marine duty for her,
and she is not desirous to garrison her one important fortress near
her Atlantic coaling stations—namely, Halifax. But she is showing
her knowledge of her inadequate military condition, and is training
officers and is voting larger sums for the annual drilling of the
militia. Her population, expanding over vast surfaces, is being
strengthened both for civil and military cohesion by a thorough railway
system; but she will need all the consciousness her best men have, that
defence means preparation and organisation, if she wishes to inspire
respect for her ever-increasing and ever more vulnerable possessions.
One of her statesmen, formerly her High Commissioner to England, has
suggested that a tonnage duty, levied on all ships sailing under the
British flag, be devoted to fortification of coaling stations. It is to
be feared that the shipowning provinces of the Dominion would object to
this excellent proposal, although it might meet with the approval of
those who are less directly interested in marine property, and would be
an indirect tax which might commend itself to inland provinces and to
some of the Australian colonies.

If Canada, then, has but recently shown striking aptitude to realise
the conditions necessary for adequate defence, how does it stand with
Australia and the Cape? The Cape Government’s past attitude may be
described in few words: “Be always taking what you can, and seeking how
you can get more; our contribution towards necessary expenses being
one corps of Rangers.” With Australia it is different. She has shown
a natural desire to prevent her neighborhood from being garrisoned by
convicts or the forces of warlike States, and she has been quite ready
to pay handsomely for any English assistance she requires. Some of her
colonies have exhibited a most spirited desire to share the expenses of
maritime as well as land defence, and have even offered their vessels
for offensive operations. The excitement attending the outbreak of
war, with the sympathy for the mother-country, may be depended on to
produce offers of assistance whenever England needs them. It is the
permanent contribution for a common policy in the piping times of peace
which presents more difficulty. Her division into several colonies,
often showing a good deal of jealousy of one another, has prevented
any combined scheme of national defence; but she, like Canada, may be
relied upon to slowly improve her opportunities. The spirit is willing,
but the stress is weak. She has not known the pinch of danger. Until
a Customs Union exists throughout her continent, and railways bind
her together, she will not be able to do justice to the patriotism so
conspicuous among her people, or take the place due to herself in the
Imperial union of States.

There is always a minority among all English-speaking peoples who deem
military expenditure so much waste, a mere thing of vanity, of fuss
and feathers. There is in the colonies a certain minority who, as with
us, deem patriotism to mean anxiety for the welfare of those only who
may for the time have identical ideas as to trade, or who may reside
within easy distance of certain centres, geographical or manufacturing.
Their ideas are not to be left out of account, for they embody one of
the most powerful of human sentiments—namely, the imagination (for it
is not the reality) of immediate interest. It is important to show
such parties that anything proposed to be done is devised not only
for Australian, or Canadian, or British purposes, but for mutual and
general good. We adopt free trade because we think it suits us. The
colonies have no direct taxes, and have a high revenue tariff because
they think such arrangements suit them. It does not follow that we
need not care for them because they are not free traders. In giving us
more favored treatment than they give to foreigners, and in taking far
more of our goods than they take of foreign goods, they yield to us
more than we yield to them, for we treat them and foreigners equally.
Our gain from their affections and trade connection far outweighs
the cost of the navy we keep to protect the ships which carry the
commerce. But in asking them to look to their own defence we exercise
a legitimate moral influence, which is not for British interests only,
but for theirs also. We must not ask too much or more than their
legislatures will freely sanction. There has been no sign as yet that
Colonial Parliaments desire to shirk the legitimate expenses of common
defence. They have much to do with their money, but will listen to any
reasonable representation for the general weal. It is probable that
maritime war, except as regards shore-torpedoes, can be best and most
cheaply undertaken by the British Navy, while it may be reasonable to
ask the colony requiring the service of the ships for any special duty
affecting their coasts to contribute to the expense of maintenance
during the time they are so engaged. War is becoming a common danger
for all parts of the empire. It is so in a greater degree, the more
the colonies develop, and possess, or are connected with, great areas
around the original settlements. Any hostile force would in the Pacific
attack at once the Australasian cities and the valuable coaling
stations of Vancouver, thus injuring at once Australia and Canada. It
is the same in case of war with Russia. These colonies have, therefore,
a right to have their wishes consulted, to be informed of all that is
passing that may lead to war, and in case of the non-observance of that
consideration which should be shown by the Imperial Executive, would
acquire a right to refuse supplies and declare neutrality. The only way
to reduce the danger of temptation to such action is to admit them
in some form into Imperial Councils. It should not be possible that a
Secretary of State can settle payment to America for alleged outrages
by New England fishermen, without consulting Canada and Newfoundland,
and then expect these colonies to pay the damage assessed without their
knowledge. It should not be possible for Downing Street to negotiate
with France about the abrogation of her fishing rights in Newfoundland,
without informing Canada of what is contemplated. It should not be
possible for British Ministers to propose that France be given islands
in the Pacific in lieu of rights in Newfoundland, without consulting
Australia. If we take powers of attorney, it should be by express
commission.

In commercial matters we have ceased to assume the power of attorney.
It is a mark of the great change which has been wrought by the growth
of our so-called dependencies that Lord Grey, who twenty years ago
specially claimed for the mother-country the right of directing the
fiscal policy of the colonies, should be the first to propose the
immediate adoption of the suggestion, made at the Colonial Institute in
1884, to have a “council of envoys.” The Board of Advice he proposes is
nothing else. It would be a Committee of Privy Council holding regular
meetings, and able to advise, check, and direct the Secretary of State.
It would advise the consummation of different commercial bargains
made for the advantage of different parts of the Empire with foreign
nations. Made under the auspices of England, these would always give
to England the most favored nation treatment. But they would not be
made on England’s basis of free trade, and hence the dislike of some
among us to the proposal. The council or board would further agree
how best to defend the interests created by such treaties. It cannot
be too strongly stated that the making of such separate treaties is
no new thing. Since the appointment by Canada of a High Commissioner
to represent her in England, she has had the fullest latitude given
to her to send her envoy to make separate bargains with Spain and
France, the English ambassador acting as introducer and coadjutor
in the negotiations undertaken by the Canadian. This was a great and
new departure at the time, but it marked a recognition by England of
actual facts, which will grow clearer and clearer to the eyes of all
men every year. The situation of our Empire is an entirely new one.
Nothing like it has ever existed since the world began. There is no
precedent for it. Our union with our sons must be strengthened, not by
tying them to our commercial programme, but by helping them to realise
that which they desire to adopt. The partners in the Imperial firm
must pursue each his own line to benefit himself, and so raise the
reputation of the partnership as being composed of men of wealth and
enterprise. In affairs affecting the standing and credit of the whole
number, or of several, they may meet the senior in consultation, and,
as each represents important property, a new policy is not likely to
be adopted lightly, nor will any project calculated to enhance profits
lack good backing. The statesmen in Canada, who have been in office
since this new departure has been fully inaugurated, are perfectly
satisfied with the position of their country in this most important
of all matters. The leader of the Opposition, before he knew of this
freedom given to the Canadian envoy, spoke of his countrymen as “the
subjects of subjects,” for that was indeed the position in which the
old British policy placed them, and it was one which could not survive
an increase in their own power. “We want,” said Sir John MacDonald last
month at Montreal—“we want no independence in this country, except the
independence that we have at this moment. What country in the world is
more independent than we are? We have perfect independence; we have
a Sovereign who allows us to do as we please. We have an Imperial
Government that casts on ourselves the responsibilities as well as
the privileges of self-government. We may govern ourselves as we
please; we may misgovern ourselves as we please. We put a tax on the
industries of our fellow subjects in England, Ireland, and Scotland.
If we are attacked, if our shores are assailed, the mighty powers
of England on land and sea are used in our defence.” And under this
so-called “protection” government the tariff against English goods is
one-half less than that imposed against us by the Americans; and the
merchandise bought from us is immense in quantity, Australia taking
even more proportionately than does Canada. Australia, probably owing
to the want of a common tariff, has not as yet shown a wish to have her
representatives put on the same footing as that secured, by Canada’s
desire, to her envoy. The Sydney Convention, indeed, rather gave the
Agents General to understand that they were not sent in any way as
quasi-ambassadors. This alone shows the unreadiness to undertake common
action and to push common interests, for there is no strong central
government having any definite will and policy which it is necessary
to have explained and illustrated and pushed by personal conference
and contact with the Home authority in Downing Street. I fear that the
Cobden Club have more tribulation in store, for it is highly probable
that all Australia will have a common high revenue tariff. Then will
come, as has already come in British North America, the desire to push
a national commercial policy in alliance with England.

The work, then, of any friends of Imperial Union should be first to
ascertain the desires of the colonists. If any special scheme be
thought good here, it should be submitted to the colonial governments
by the Association before it is pressed on the public for acceptance.
We can form, as it has been suggested, a vigilance committee in
Parliament at home to take cognisance of anything affecting the
colonies, and this we can do without consulting anybody but the men
who may desire to serve. But it is difficult to believe that any
Australian or other administration can have been consulted and can have
given a favorable reply to such proposals as the following, namely:—1.
The proportional representation in one unwieldy Parliament of the
colonies. The House of Commons has too much to do now, and hardly
attends to Indian affairs. It is not to be imagined that colonial
M.P.’s would like to be constantly out-voted by a British majority,
nor is it conceivable that, when the colonial population is larger
than ours, England would submit to be out-voted by the colonies. Mere
difficulties of personal attendance would make the scheme hard of
execution, and its unpopularity makes it impossible.

2. Nomination to the House of Lords of prominent politicians from
distant parts of the Empire. It may be sufficient to ask what
politician, having good influence in his native Parliament, would leave
it to sit in a House which has little weight even in England, and less
in deciding Imperial issues? And if any man chose a seat in the House
of Peers in preference to a place in his own Parliament, how could he
be considered a representative of the Government in power in his own
country? If he be not that, he would have no right to speak in the
name of his own country, nor could his vote bind her action. If not a
prominent man, his acceptance of such a nomination would only excite
ridicule. Who would be a Viscount Wagga-Wagga or Marquis of Massa
Wippi? A man elected to sit in the present House of Lords would only be
one voter in an assembly of several hundred, and would have no special
weight.

3. Conference of Trades Unions. This would be useful as indicating
where the unemployed or well-provided emigrants had best direct their
steps. It may be safely assumed that the workmen of towns where high
wages may be had would not invite others to come and thus depress the
standard of the remuneration earned by labor.

4. A council like that of the German “Reich.” This would be more
easily accepted than the sending of a contingent to either House of
Parliament, but it has not been discussed.

Other suggestions might be mentioned which all partake too much of
the fault of looking at Federation as a means of making more powerful
the British vote in a general union, and in not being endorsed by
colonial voices. We should make vocal their desires rather than press
upon them our own. The idea of a Board of Advice, composed of their
representatives, has the merit of giving them opportunity of speech
and of knowledge. It would not “draw closer the bonds” so much as
prevent any strain on those which exist. Do not let us do anything
“behind the backs” of those whom our action in their behalf may touch,
however indirectly. Let no Minister in a colonial Parliament be
able to say, “We are threatened with this or that in consequence of
Imperial action; but it was not until the danger had been incurred
that we knew there was any likelihood that it would arise.” We need
have no misgiving that the colonies would be unreasonable in their
fears, or averse to incur the danger if fully informed, any more than
we apprehend from an English House of Commons repudiation of the
responsibility of the Executive charged with the responsibility of
war or peace. But the danger of repudiation becomes less, the more
those affected by the determination are taken into confidence. The
revival in some form of a Committee of the Privy Council, to advise
“on trade and the plantations,” would be the most certain method of
giving for the present knowledge and voice to the combined colonial
representatives. If the colonial Governments do not care for this,
the “question falls” for the time, and we may patiently await the
demand, taking care in the meantime to fully inform each individual
representative of our rising “auxiliary kingdoms” of what is passing,
and granting them free access to all persons and papers they desire to
see, if these may be shown to Parliament. It has been objected that
delay would be caused by any council. If the council be small, this is
not likely, because telegraphic communication makes Australia as near
to the Colonial Office as is Victoria Street. The time, if there be any
delay, may be well spent in avoiding future misunderstanding. There
is hardly any conjuncture where a Secretary of State must act with
lightning rapidity in colonial affairs; but, if the necessity arose,
the British Government must, as they do now, take the responsibility.
It is also said against the plan that in most cases the members of
the council whose countries are not affected by the business would
only sit twirling their thumbs. This objection applies to all boards,
councils, and Parliaments, and is an argument for autocracy. It is
also alleged that the Indian Council Board is an analogy, and has been
proved a nuisance. But the Indian councillors represent only their own
opinions, and these often formed on past experience, whereas the men
on the Privy Council Board of Advice would represent those whose voices
would be potent factors in deciding questions submitted, because they
are the mouthpieces of living nations and of living policy. A minute
drawn up by Australia, dissenting from a given policy, would not be
looked at so lightly as is a minute by an Indian councillor who may
object to an addition to a salt tax. We should therefore consult with
the colonial cabinets, and ask them if they do not think that we can
obtain, by regular and recognised conference with their envoys, more
intimate knowledge of the desires of their people; further opportunity
for them to bring their wishes directly to the notice of England and of
brother colonists; a better chance for them to combine to further the
views of one of their number, or to declare against any impracticable
project; less danger that any imprudent course shall be entered on by
any one colony without consultation with others and with Britain; a
time of discussion for any schemes for joint defence—in short, less
isolation, and consequently greater strength for any policy taken
up with forethought. The Secretary of State would be supported in
adopting any given line by knowing he had the Empire at his back, or,
by finding himself alone, would know when to advise withdrawal. But
it is a question whether the day for any such plan is yet come. It is
only yesterday that Canada became a Pacific Power. It is only to-day
that the Australians are being united by railroads, and they are still
sundered in fiscal policy. The Cape has not yet become possessed of a
people sufficiently powerful to make themselves felt. In any case let
the colonies speak out, and we can wait, for “all’s well” at present
with the loyal sentiments of our scattered brethren.

During this last fortnight they have again proved that they are heart
and hand with us in time of trouble. Let us, if they desire it, make
their voices be heard in council. They have told us that their cannon
shall speak for us in the field.—_Nineteenth Century._



ODD QUARTERS.

BY FREDERICK BOYLE.


My record of campaigns and outlandish travel includes in its barest
shape, Borneo, Upper Egypt, Central America, the Cape, the West Coast
of Africa, the Danubian Principalities, Afghanistan, India, Turkey,
Greece, Egypt a third time; were I to count the episodes, it would
swell into a geographic catalogue. In such journeying I have found many
odd billets, a few of which I purpose to sketch just as they occur to
mind in writing, without story or connection. But, so far as may be, I
shall avoid those scenes which have been made familiar to the public
through historic events, and through the descriptions furnished by my
own “Special” fraternity.

No eccentricity of fortune surprises me now, though it brings vastly
more discomfort for the time than in earlier days; and my recollections
grow weaker proportionately. However strange one’s quarters, however
distressed or frightened one may be, an abiding consciousness dwells
in the soul that one has seen and done and gone through the same
experience already. The power of observation is not dulled, nor the
sense of fun, still less that of alarm; but the circumstances do not
seem worth remembering particularly. If one reflects more, one feels
less. After his first visit to the Antipodes, so to speak, a boy has
stories inexhaustible of anecdote, remark, and adventure; but from each
succeeding journey he brings back shorter and drier reports, until
a trip to the moon would seem hardly worth telling at length: after
stating the facts, he has done. Last week I entertained a confrère
just returned from El Teb and Tamasi; we have served together in
divers parts, and the public, I understand, has been interested in our
stories; but all through the evening not fifty words were exchanged
touching on matters personal in his late vicissitudes. It seems less
and less worth while to dwell upon impressions and to carry them away,
the more impressions one gathers. This is not the common belief. We
read of men in novels, who having been everywhere and done everything,
are always ready with a tale of adventure that thrills the heroine. I
will venture to say that such a personage has not been far into terra
incognita, nor has served in many wars, unless, of course, he is a
professional talker.

Thus it happens that a man’s earliest memories of travel are the
strongest, though they be insignificant compared with others he might
have collected on the same ground at a later date. I have a hundred
cabinet pictures of Egypt as I knew it, an idle boy, but not one worth
sketching from the late campaign. That was a very big business;—one
recorded the facts, stored them for use, and forgot the incidents.
It is only by an effort that I recall scenes therein quite otherwise
impressive than that unforgotten experience of Esné by night, which
struck me twenty-one years ago, and still remains fresh of color. At
that time the banished sisterhood of Almeh, Ghawazee, dancing and
singing women, still dwelt at the spot assigned them—or many did. We
had seen a performance in going up, and had ordered something more
special for our return. An old negress who kept what one may describe
as the box office, in a vile mud hut, assured us with conviction that
the best dancer and the loveliest woman in those parts would attend at
nightfall. A respectable Arab addressed us returning to the dabeah, and
asked permission to go with our party. In the evening he followed to a
hut, somewhat larger but not less vile than the box office. The only
lights were set on the mud floor, one by each of the musicians, who
squatted there smoking _hasheesh_ to nerve them for special exertions.
In a line across the back, their faces hardly to be distinguished,
sat the Ghawazee, arrayed in silks and muslins of the brightest hue,
the coins that decked their heads twinkling and faintly jingling as
they moved restlessly. The police-officer sat beside us, on one of our
chairs, in snowy uniform and gold belt. Everybody smoked, including
specially the candles, and the spiral cloud from every mouth had a
curious effect so long as it was visible.

The band struck up, with voice and instrument—a metallic hum, a nasal
scream, a twang of strings so loose that they seemed to take their note
from the wood itself, a dull beat of tomtoms. Presently a Ghawazee
arose. You have all read descriptions of the performance, but it must
be seen in its natural habitat, as here, to keep any sort of interest.
I have never beheld it, that I recollect, in the pitiless glow of gas,
when, no doubt, it is grotesque. But in that dim and ruddy twilight,
the long robes and full trousers of the Ghawazee, quivering to the
tremulous movement of her limbs, have sudden strange effects of sheen
and shadow. The arms out-curved, with small castanets betwixt the
index and the thumb, the head thrown back, the closed eyelashes, the
white teeth gleaming, have significance and charm also in that misty
air, though they seem prurient affectation under strong light. But the
entertainment is monotonous. Before our programme was half through, we
called for the _prima ballerina_, and she came forward—a good-looking
woman, helmeted with coins—put out her small bare foot, the toes
turned up, rounded her arms, and tinkled her castanets with the air
of a mistress. At the instant our guest sprang by and seized her,
shouting—the musicians tumbled this way and that—the candles upset—a
woman took fire—the police-officer bawled—and we were a struggling
mass in the doorway! The dragoman afterwards explained that this man’s
son had married the dancer, on an understanding, of course, that she
dropped her profession. He heard that the box-keeper had tempted her,
with her husband’s consent, to perform for our benefit, and hence the
interruption.

A series of earthquakes alarmed Nicaragua in January, 1866, and the
municipality of the capital asked us to explore Mombacho, an ancient
crater from which the disturbance was supposed to come. My companion
and I rode out, with guides, and at nightfall reached Dirioma, an
Indian village. A superb avenue of organo cactus leads to that secluded
settlement; the trunks, ten feet high, looked like fluted pillars of
marble in the pale glow of starlight. Dirioma is much the same now,
probably, as the Conquistadores found it, a marvel of color, softness,
and grace of form. Each dwelling, framed of bamboos and sticks, like a
bird-cage, stands in its own compound; the road runs straight and broad
and smooth in front; palms droop over the cactus hedge, black against
the night sky as ostrich plumes, and behind them lies a dusky mass of
foliage, gleaming red in the glow of the hearth. All day and all night
the place is still, for Indian children, if they play, are silent.

Our billet assigned was such a hut, hung round with hollow logs used as
beehives; in dismounting we upset one, but the insects were familiar
with disasters of the sort, and they took it kindly. We asked about
“Carib Stones,” as usual—all antiquities are called Carib Stones in
Nicaragua—and the guide led us into another compound, where a very old
man crouched beside an enormous fire, with three or four Indians about
him. When our inquiries were explained, with difficulty, the veteran
brightened and began talking like a machine. Some feathers of the
quetzal bird lay beside him; these he snatched up, waved, and shook
to emphasise his statements. We could understand very little of the
patois, more than half Indian; but the naked old man’s shadow played
grotesquely on the lattice wall behind, the brandished plumes flashed
emerald and sapphire, the elders sat round like wrinkled effigies
in bronze, their small eyes fixed upon us with never a wink. The
ancient hero did not tell much—he spoke of the golden temple which, as
everybody knows, is hid somewhere in the neighboring woods; but gave
no precise information. Afterwards we learned that this was a lineal
descendant of the old caciques of Dirioma, who gave four thousand axes
of gold—or whatever the number may have been—to Gil Gonzalez de Avila.
Though he worked as a slave before the emancipation, the Indians revere
and obey him to such degree that a Secretary of State thought worth
while to ask of us what his remarks had been.

Many odd quarters we knew on the West Coast, where men and
circumstances have a character all their own. Quisa recurs to my mind
just now; I could not tell why, for we saw places as strange under
more exciting conditions. This is the first town, or was, within the
Ashanti realm proper. It looked almost civilized to us, marching from
the coast—for refinement is comparative—and decidedly picturesque.
Quisa might be called a town, its ways streets, its dwellings cottages
of unusual form. A row of fine shade-trees in the middle of the chief
thoroughfare had earthen benches at their feet, where the elders sat
for council and gossip. The king’s house stood at the intersection
of the main streets. It had not the alcove or box in the outer wall,
so conspicuous in the architecture of Coomassie, but the façade,
of polished stucco, was broken by niches, and moulded arabesques,
two inches in relief, covered it all over. What they represented or
signified we could not make out with confidence, so thoroughly had
the style been “conventionalized” by generations of artists; but in
the original idea they were human figures probably, engaged in war
and ceremonies of state. The wall was colored in Venetian red, with a
pleasing gloss upon it, and it stretched twenty yards or so on either
side the doorway. This was a Moorish arch, of wood, the same in type as
those we are familiar with at Sydenham, and gaily painted. Inside and
out all was clean and perfect.

Through this doorway a passage, smoothly coated with chunam, and tinted
red, opened into the _cour d’honneur_. On the right hand, just inside
the door, stood a fetich niche, very like an exaggerated font for holy
water. It contained the usual medley of rubbish—bones and sticks and
teeth and roots and tangles of string; a lot of eggshells also, pierced
and tied together. Opposite to this niche was a hollow in the wall, two
steps above the ground, just long enough and broad enough for a man
to lie; the quarters, doubtless, of a slave who kept the door. What I
have termed the _cour d’honneur_ was a small quadrangle, unroofed, with
alcoves much like boxes at a theatre on three of its sides. The middle
one, that fronting the entrance, occupied the full breadth of the wall,
saving a doorway that led through to the next court; the others were
smaller. These boxes stood on a level, perhaps five feet above the
floor of the yard. They had no way in from the back, but access was
gained by steps from below, and the parapet, of mud and chunam, was
cut away at that point. Wooden columns and arches, of Moorish design
and color, marked the king’s box—that in the middle. They had hangings
apparently, for pegs were there, and I found a silk “cloth” on the
ground.

It was not difficult, with our experience, to refill this courtyard
with the pride and pomp and circumstance of Quisa royalty. There sat
the king on his earthen bench, wrapped in a spotless robe of cotton,
home-spun, and home-dyed in graceful patterns. His sandals, with a
golden sole and little, solid, golden figures for ornament, rested
on a patchwork carpet of silk. His arms were bare, but loaded with
bracelets; some of the costly Aggry bead, some a bristling string
of nuggets unworked. Arab charms, wrapped in small leather cases,
sewn with gold, encircled his wrists and elbows and knees, and they
dangled from the arch above. On the floor at either hand crouched a
page, one holding his pipe, silver-bound, one his drinking calabash,
mounted in gold and carved. Behind these favorites squatted the bearer
of the toddy jar, Dutch earthenware, set in silver, and the drinking
calabash, carved and bound in gold; of the silver-mounted stool and
gun, the silver spittoon, and knives with silver hafts in a belt of
leopard-skin—in short, the retinue essential to his majesty’s comfort.
Nearest of all stood the executioner, with his four-handled sword of
office, looking like a toy-stool of gold with a clumsy blade thrust
through the seat. The royal councillors sat upon the cross-benches, and
the smaller alcoves were occupied by wives and slaves, handsome enough,
many of them, their lips full but not thick, their noses straight,
their skins brown with a shade of gold. A mass of ornaments, in bullion
or filagree, decked the long wool of these ladies, combed to all manner
of fantastic shapes: eccentricity has no bounds in dealing with that
stiff and elastic material, which grows to a surprising length amongst
Ashantis and Fantis. I have seen it drawn out, kinkles and all,
eighteen inches from the skull, and thus remain stark on end, until the
lady had time to get it arranged in, for instance, the exact similitude
of a pine-apple, divided into lozenges, with a neat curl in the centre
of each.

So the king of Quisa sat to display his magnificence daily, and to
administer justice. It is the inclination of us superior beings to
imagine that “off with his head,” is the monotonous refrain of every
judgment pronounced by negro royalty. The notion is gathered perhaps
rather from burlesques and comic songs than from inquiry, and I suspect
that shrewd comment and patient debate were often heard in that pretty
court. The general effect of it, even empty, astonished us all, from
Sir Garnet to Tommy Atkins. But we showed our emotion in various ways.
I entered with two young doctors, who had their billet at the palace.
After going through and surveying it in silence, one of them hurriedly
unpacked a trunk, produced his everlasting banjo, and sang an air of
the day: “You know it all depends upon the way in which it’s done!”
This exercise finished, he was equal to discussion.

A natural halting-place, as one may say, at the end of the first march
from Jellalabad is the castle of a great Ghilzai chief, whose name I
forget. He had been an active enemy in the late war; but for reasons
unknown the political department long refused to let us take possession
of this building, which is called Rosarbad, though it was empty; nor
would they even permit us to encamp in the fields and groves about it.
Accordingly a very small post was established on a bleak hillside in
the neighborhood, a spot so stony and barren that pegs would not hold
in the soil. Two nights I passed there are scored in the blackest of
chalk among my experiences of mere wretchedness; for a gale was always
blowing and tents were always collapsing: if one’s own escaped, the
yelling and roaring of other sufferers made life almost as miserable.
As for the horses, they enjoyed a battle scarcely interrupted, and the
squealing all night, with the shouting of furious troopers, banished
sleep. A detachment which had three weeks’ duty at that outpost
lost a quarter of its strength by invaliding, the result of sheer
fatigue. When I add that a night attack was always probable, and often
threatened, the least fanciful of readers may conceive that existence
at Boulé camp was not happy.

It was an aggravation and a mockery for these unfortunates to see the
great tower of Rosarbad above the cypresses and planes but a thousand
yards away, to know that it was confiscated by the laws of war, and
that no human being dwelt in those comfortable quarters. The state of
things became unbearable at last, the Politicals were overruled, and
when I came down country from Gandamuck I found the castle occupied.
It was late in the month of April. Quitting the barren, rocky highway,
we rode across a bridge, rough but neat, through a screen of trees,
and found ourselves in a landscape thoroughly and charmingly English.
The crops were strange, no doubt, but they looked familiar. The
stalwart peasantry who toiled there had dark faces and outlandish
dress; but, buried to the waist in green, stooping above their work,
they passed, at a glance, for English husbandmen. And the trees that
bordered these pleasant fields, full-leaved, deepshadowed, resembled
our native elm. Even the atmosphere was English, the still golden haze
of a midsummer evening. We pulled up, each struck with thoughts not
lightly to be breathed. The foreign landscape, the parched hills and
dusty road behind, were all shut out. One might fondly dream for an
instant that war and exile had come to an end, that these ruddy turrets
peeping above the trees marked the ancient, hospitable home where we
were eagerly expected. Our orderly looked and stared, and gazed and
muttered—the stupid exclamation does not signify; it was meant to
suggest wonder and delight and feeling beyond an honest trooper’s power
of expression.

Envious fancy had done its utmost among those poor fellows camped at
Boulé, in picturing the spot they were forbidden to approach. But it
surpassed anticipation. I am not going to describe the scene, for I
made no sketch, and some who will read this did, whilst every one who
halted there keeps a recollection of Rosarbad. Nothing like it did
we see in any part of Afghanistan. Though built of mud, its lofty
walls, brand new, had almost the sharpness of granite, and they were
thick enough to stand some pounding of solid shot. Frosts have tried
them now, doubtless, rains have channeled them, the battlements are
ruinous, and not one right angle remains; but it was mighty handsome
in our day, looking like a feudal fortress, with a gate-tower almost
majestic overlooking a grove of cypresses on the other side the moat:
so dense was the foliage of this copse that daylight could not pierce
it. A miscellaneous throng of bunniahs had converted its twilight
arcades into a bazaar, hanging bright cottons from trunk to trunk,
and establishing booths full of cheap glitter. Sowars and sepoys,
in flowing, picturesque undress, strolled hand in hand through the
chiaroscuro. Giant Pathans prowled up and down, all beard and eyes
and dirt, gazing with rapt, vulture-like expression at the luxury
displayed. Sometimes a yell arose, a sound of scuffling, a rush
of frightened traders and of sepoys to the rescue; then from the
struggling mass a prisoner was dragged, and perhaps a groaning comrade
was borne to the gate.

Within the portcullis and the vaulted approach lay a garden, actually
a garden, bordered on one side by the durbar hall, on another by a
row of small latticed chambers. In the hall, which was raised several
feet above the level, stood an enormous tub, into which a column of
water fell by a shoot. It was forced to the upper story, and thence
descended. Of all surprises that befell a visitor to Rosarbad, none
equalled this. A soothing cataract, a shower-bath, and a fish-pond all
in one make a convenience for the drawing-room hardly known in Europe.
After the first enthusiasm, however, certain disadvantages betrayed
themselves. The middle of the hall was a quagmire, and if in the zeal
of admiration one approached too near, the mud held one fast while
the shower wet one through. But this made part of the day’s fun. The
officers of the little garrison cherished their odd quarters, and they
applied their leisure to gardening, with such success that visitors
were sometimes presented with a rose. I need scarcely say that the
name of the castle has no connection with botany. The Pathan seems
to be acquainted with five flowers only—jasmine, rose, chrysanthemum,
iris, and narcissus. Painful to an enthusiast is the most successful of
Oriental gardens. Though they bear a mass of flowers so that Peshawur,
for instance, has an air laden with scents, the individual bloom is
mean and the tree pitiful.

In contrast to the glories of Rosarbad, I recall a billet on the
other side of Afghanistan. We had been snowed up in the Kojak pass—a
miserable time, and when a thaw released us I pushed on with a comrade
towards Quetta—a ride to try one’s good humor; for with the thaw
came rain, which made that bare desert as slippery as ice—a peculiar
condition dreaded under the name of ‘put.’ We got off the track somehow
beyond Abdallah Karez, and very glad were we to find an empty village,
where a Baboo go-master was posted to collect stores of forage and
grain. He had three sepoys to protect him—a guard much less formidable
than a score of Pathan dogs, left by their masters, I suppose, which
fed upon the carcasses of camels lying all around. This Baboo was
an ingenious man. The mud huts had been dismantled perhaps; anyhow,
they were roofless and badly gapped. In the long frost our go-master
had a bad time; the thermometer below zero at night, or always close
upon it, and no better protection than a tent for his southern limbs.
Moreover, there was some chance that the enemy might swoop down, or
he thought so. Superstition loses its awful power in the extremity
of wretchedness. The Baboo, who was forbidden to touch a dead insect
or even to look at it, employed sepoys and muleteers, and anyone he
could catch, in building a fortification of dead camels all round his
store-house; and he lived therein, shuddering with remorse, but warm
and secure. While the frost lasted it was mighty comfortable, but the
thaw had reduced that Baboo to sore distress. His wall was decaying
visibly under conditions which I need not suggest, and to enter the
enclosure needed more heroism and more cotton wool than the average
mortal is provided with. A camel’s is a heavy and unwieldy carcass when
frozen hard: a regiment of scavengers could not have cleared away those
scores of bodies when loosed by the thaw. The Government stores were
protected after a fashion hitherto thought peculiar to Chinese warfare,
by “stink-pot” torpedos in effect, and neither friend nor foe dared
approach. I do not know the end of that story. If it is the traveller’s
privilege to see queer incidents, it is too often his ill-luck to miss
the explanation and the catastrophe.

A scene I cherish with especial tenderness is that passed at Changhi,
behind Singapore. A Malay fishing village lay beneath our bungalow,
upon a broad and snowy beach. In barbarous regions of the North men
live underground, but these dwellings were suspended in the sunny air
amongst plumes of cocoanut and betel; behind them rose the shadowy
jungle. There was no cultivated land in sight, for the Malay finds his
harvest and his garden in the sea. The smooth sand below high-water
mark was a parterre of sponges, green and red, and purple blue,
intermixed with coral. Old-fashioned people in Europe cherish certain
round masses of limestone, daintily fluted, and put them under a glass
case for ornament. Imagine their beauty in the spot where nature places
them, every lip and hollow on the cream-white surface traced out in
vividest pencilling of green, with the seaflowers of sponge around them.

But after the first impulse of delight, one almost comes to overlook
this charming foreground; for beneath the water lies a tangle and a
maze of all things lovely for shape and color and growth and motion.
Coral takes a hundred flowery forms, weeds branch like trees or wave
like serpents, sponges are cups of amethyst and ruby. When waves lie
still, one sees just as clearly into the depths below as into the air
above, and almost as far, as it seems. The vegetation is gigantic in
its loveliness. There are coral growths shaped like an Egyptian lily
and as white, but three feet in diameter, wherein a mermaid might take
her bath. Others break into a thicket, each twig covered with snowy
rosettes which bear a morsel of green velvet in their bosoms. Others
are great round hillocks diapered with emerald, with here and there a
bush of scarlet thorn springing from their sides. Through and over the
garden, long silvery weeds tremble and quiver in a net. Small fish
as quick as humming-birds, and almost as gay, dart to and fro. Water
snakes float past in coils like Indian enamel of every shade, in red
and brown and yellow and purple. I am grateful that fate allowed me
three weeks of life at Changhi.

But I have dwelt also, too long, with those northern people referred
to who burrow in the earth, and with those southerners, not half long
enough, who inhabit the trees. Not to be forgotten are our quarters
before Plevna, in the compound of a Bulgar farm-house. The floor of its
single room lay perhaps two feet beneath the soil, and one entered by
a steep incline—that is to say, the inhabitants entered. The ends of
the roof descended just so low as to give room for a foot-square window
at the level of the earth; but on the incline mentioned, it rose. One
of my comrades in this hostelry was poor MacGahan, who lay on his back
and sang the whole day through when at home. He had laid some hay upon
the “stoop” beside the entrance, and from amongst it his bright eyes
watched and his voice resounded. I lived in a waggon. One day the
gudewife interviewed my dragoman. She expressed her belief that it was
MacGahan’s songs that brought the rain, which, indeed, was perennial.
She clung to her point with vehemence. Her husband arrived, and so
did some Cossacks. They listened with great interest for a while,
understanding not a word, and then, with a happy impulse, hustled the
Bulgar head first into his den. The motive of this proceeding lay
beyond our comprehension, and theirs also, no doubt; but the Cossack is
an irresponsible being. When we laughed they roared, crinkling their
jolly, ugly faces until the eyes vanished altogether. I gave them a
drink, but not a many-bladed knife, which was lost to human sight in
that hour.

The dirtiest experience to which mankind may be subjected is a
campaign; but when Russ meets Turk on Bulgarian fields you have a
conjuncture of men and circumstances not to be realised elsewhere. The
country was sodden at that time, the camps mid-leg deep in puddled
clay. General Zortoff, who had the command, occupied a hut much like
ours, a couple of hundred yards away; but we always mounted to pay a
call, for the space round head-quarters was an actual bog. Officers
waiting on the general sat perched upon fences round his yard, in a
manner very drolly miserable. The staff had their office in a cowshed
which had not been cleaned for years.

A month in a Dyak house is another pleasing recollection. For that
space of time, barring nights camped out, my quarters lay besides
the council fire. A hoop of human heads hung above it, within arm’s
length of my own. Ugly were they as valued—precious ugly, one might
say with literal truth—but the ghosts never visited my dreams. All
the inhabitants of a Dyak village dwell under one roof, more than a
thousand feet in length sometimes. The whole building stands twenty
to sixty feet in air on massive posts. Every family has its single
apartment side by side, the chief’s in the middle, and every door opens
on a clear, sheltered space running from end to end, which we call
the inner verandah, for there is a second beyond the eave. Opposite
the chief’s door lie the big stones of the council hearth, the heads,
belonging to the clan, strung on hoops, and details of common property.
That month spent with savages, living their life, noting the thousand
small events of every day, about which the most thoughtful of men would
hardly think of asking speculative questions—the experience of that
time taught me much that has been useful since: for the naked barbarian
and the æsthetic philosopher are one. He who knows by practice the
instincts of human nature understands a thousand mysteries inscrutable
to one who has only its acquired customs to guide him.

Pleasant was the teaching. Fog alone was visible from the top of the
ladder when the house began to stir—a sea of mist from which arose,
with no trunks perceptible, the crowns of fruit trees and feathered
crests of palms. First the married men turned out, and then the
bachelors appeared from their separate quarter; shivering under his
bark blanket, each cut a plug of betel and chewed it. Then graceful
girls came out with long shovel baskets, some leisurely and composed,
others bustling; these had not winnowed the paddy over night, and
certain of the youths knew why. After a while the housewife opened her
door, and in that defiant voice which belongs to hard-working mothers
everywhere, summoned her family to breakfast. When they reappeared the
fog was lifting, the sky dappled like an opal. Cheered by the growing
warmth men moved briskly, arranging their tools and arms and gear. The
young women and maidens followed, a pleasing bevy, with loads strapped
to their backs, and all the villagers descended to the lower earth.

Only the chief and his old councillors remained—sitting over their
eternal fire, chewing their eternal betel—the grandames, and the sick.
Towards sunset the laboring folk returned, and the males sat to chew
and gossip, but the girls had still their hardest work to do. Presently
all the house resounded with the thud of pestles, and the air was
filled with husks from the pounded rice. A silence of interest and
hunger followed whilst the meal was cooking, and then the pleasure of
the day began. For the elders it was only talk, always the same, as far
as I could gather, of bad times and good times, and the prospect of the
year; seldom personal, and never gossiping, at the chief’s fire, where
all heads of families assembled. No one paid attention to the youth or
to the maidens, so soon as their household duties were complete. By
this time darkness had quite fallen, and there was no light excepting
the low fires. Shoulders glossy as brown silk were faintly luminous
in the twilight, as we looked down the house; from time to time a
fire shot out, revealing the seated group around, lively enough, but
subdued. Shadows stalked from hearth to hearth, tinkling and sparkling
in brazen finery, and vanished with the gloom;—then the whispered
chatter of girls, the smothered merriment, became more loud, with
expostulations and mirthful appeals for help. A very pleasant scene;
but I loved also to awake at midnight, and observe that different
picture. The councillors, taking no exercise, never turned in; all
the night through they maundered, and dozed, and coughed, and chewed
betel. Above them the teeth of the weazened “heads” glimmered through
the smoke. A labyrinth of posts and beams was faintly outlined in their
rear. Now and again a young form passed stealthily, for in the hours
of darkness courtship is seriously pursued. Beneath the cave I caught a
glimpse of azure sky, and palm fronds gleaming in the moonlight. Of all
the odd quarters I have known this is still the dearest to memory.

Once upon a time I lost myself in the veldt, somewhere by the Vaal
river. Leaving Pniel in a “spider cart,” with a mulatto groom, I
inspected the wet-diggings as far as Gong-Gong, and then got off
the track. They told me that to go wrong would be impossible, with
an Africander to steer my course, but I contrived to do it. Some
philosophers would have you think that every savage has an instinctive
mastery of woodcraft, but experience leads me to think that fools are
almost as common in Barbarie as in Christendom. We lost ourselves, and
wandered two days, heading direct for the Atlantic—and for nothing else
in particular, besides the Namaqualand desert. Settlements are very few
in that veldt, and the only one we came across was Jantje’s kraal on
the second evening;—Jantje has since rebelled, and is now an outlaw, I
believe. It had some forty huts on the top of a mound, encompassed by
raging brooks;—for the sky had been little better than a sieve since
we started. There was no sign of life, but a swelling roar of voices
directed me to a wooden church, which I entered. All the population
were there, and the vehemence of their devotions was deafening. A fat
man hurried up, not ceasing to howl with the rest—his mouth opened from
ear to ear and nose to chin. He took my arm, and led me out like a
stray dog, whilst the congregation bellowed and stared without a pause.
So many white lips—and teeth—fixed on me, in a gathering darkness that
obscured the black faces, had an effect indescribably gruesome and
absurd.

Outside the church this personage turned to resume his place, singing
all the time as loud as he could bawl. My groom coming up arrested
certain demands of explanation, which began to take a serious form,
but no help could be got from Jantje’s people. We annexed an empty
hut and camped there supperless, wet through. My first experience of
tompans was made that night. This curious insect dwells in deserted
Kaffir buildings and nowhere else, I believe. He is armed after the
best and newest suggestions of science for naval equipment—his vital
parts and locomotive machinery protected by the cuirass, his artillery,
of great weight and superior rifling, on the Moncrieff system, swift
to attack and agile to retreat. You cannot crush him with any weapon
less ponderous than a hammer; to ignore a beast as large and as flat as
a threepenny bit is impossible, and moral influence seems to be quite
ineffective. To sing hymns and cultivate tompans was the only visible
employment of Jantje’s kraal. I cannot affect to regret that its
inhabitants have been scattered to the winds. Wherever they have fled
they have found an opportunity to study better manners.

But I was going to recall the odd quarters at Jacobsdaal which brought
this adventure to a fitting close. We had no treaty of extradition with
the Free State at that time—I do not know that we have one now. All
sorts of criminals took refuge at Jacobsdaal, a tiny but prosperous
settlement lying just across the frontier. During my absence a gust
of indignation had swept over the Diamond Fields, and all the guilty,
the suspected, and the alarmed had fled. The landlady of the best
“Accommodation House” declared to me, almost with tears, that her
dwelling, hitherto inveterate in virtue, was become a rendezvous of
malefactors. She advised me to try the other shop for once, since even
thieves would not go there by choice—naturally. I did so, and found
the guests sitting down. In the place of honor was a canteen man,
badly wanted by the New Rush police. I also recognized an acquaintance
accused of cheating at cards in the “Pig and Whistle;” another who had
been lately described to the magistrate as “tremendous delirious;” an
American gentleman whom the police had vainly besought to render an
account to his partners. One of these latter, in attendance on his
fugitive associate, identified for me a man charged with murder, and
two common thieves. The conversation was most polite. The chairman’s
suasive tones in proposing a “leetle mutton” were as good as testimony
to character. He had a trick of cocking the old smoking-cap upon his
head before every observation, as if to point it with knowingness. The
extreme propriety with which he guided the conversation so overawed
the thieves that they were too hoarse to talk. My poor “tremendous”
friend yielded to the same wholesome influence, and addressed everyone
in the third person as “the honorable gentleman on my right,” or left,
or opposite. As for the manslaughterer, he showed warm philanthropy,
arguing with vehemence that black people have as good rights as
white, and better in their own country. Circumstances made this topic
embarrassing to the chairman. He cocked his smoking-cap from side to
side, imploring everyone to take some more of everything. After supper
he made a little speech, ending with a toast—“Home, lads, mothers and
dads.” The company drank it with deep emotion.—_Belgravia._



SIR TRISTRAM DE LYONESSE.

BY E. M. SMITH.


The ancient adage that “there is no new thing under the sun,” has been
recently applied by a popular writer of fiction to the romantic stories
of the day. But surely nowhere are the words of the Preacher more
abundantly illustrated than in the realm of narrative poetry. With whom
did “The Canterbury Tales,” “The Fairy Queen,”“The Idylls of the King,”
originate? Certainly not with Chaucer, Spenser, or Tennyson. The hidden
sources of those delightful rivers of song lie far away, so far that
few care to trace them. The same, or nearly the same, story is handed
down from one man to another, till at last some master-mind catches
its true significance, tells it for once as it was never told before,
and links his name with it through all the ages. Sometimes though more
rarely, different capabilities of the same story will strike more than
one master-mind, and then the comparisons are full of interest, and
bring out into sharp relief the idiosyncrasies of each narrator. It has
been so with portions of the “Iliad,” of the “Nibelungen Lied,” and of
our own “Morte D’Arthur.” It is so still with the story of Sir Tristram
de Lyonesse, who, of all King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table,
seems to have gone the farthest and fared the best. Rarely indeed has
the homage of poets so far apart in time, and varying so widely in
spirit and conception, been tendered so persistently to one object.
Arthur may pass away in peace to the cool valley of Avilion, Launcelot
to his grave in Joyous Guard, Galahad to the Blessed Vision which last
he saw with mortal eyes in the city of Estorause; but Tristram is of
the earth, earthy, and on the earth he abides. Twelve centuries have
not quenched the ardor of his love for fair Iseult, nor traced one
wrinkle on his brow.

Briefly, the legend of his life is this: Sir Tristram de Lyonesse as
his first great exploit slew Sir Marhaus, the deadly foe of his uncle,
King Mark, but was by him so desperately wounded that he sailed to
Ireland under the name of Tamtris, to be cured of his wound by the
surgical arts of the Queen of Ireland, sister to Sir Marhaus, and
mother of the beautiful Princess Iseult. On his return to Cornwall he
described the Princess in words so glowing that King Mark resolved to
marry her, and sent his nephew back to escort her over the sea. Fearful
lest all should not go well, the Queen gave to her daughter’s faithful
maid, Bragwaine, a magic potion, which the bride was to drink on the
night of her marriage with King Mark, to ensure their mutual love.
Unwittingly, however, Tristram and Iseult drank of it together on board
the vessel; and, all their lives, it wrought them woe and misery, until
at length they died together, and were buried side by side. The facts
are always much the same—but the hero alters so completely as to change
the whole aspect of the story, and make the interpretation put upon it
different in every age.

When we first meet with him among the Welsh bards of the sixth century,
he is simply Drystan, or Trystan, the Tumultuous; his name has not
already doomed him to that _triste_ existence, which grows consistently
more and more tragic throughout the later records of his life. He
is the son, not of King Meliodas, but of Talwz; his lady is Essylt;
his uncle, Mark Meirzion; and the chief points in his character are
curiously brought out by his association with Greidial and Gwgon, as
one of the three heralds of Britain; with Gwair and Cai, the diademed
princes; with Call and Pryderi, the mighty swineherds; with Gwair and
Eiddillig, the stubborn chiefs; with Caswallan and Cynon, the faithful
lovers. Heraldry, obstinacy, fidelity—no very promising material for a
hero nowadays; but then the lines on which a poet worked were simpler.

For three years this tumultuous being withdrew from Arthur’s Court in
disgust at the issue of one of his quarrels, and the King, with almost
incredible folly, instead of rejoicing at the deliverance, sent after
him twenty-eight warriors in succession, all of whom Trystan overthrew.
At last, Gwalzmai with the Golden Tongue (the Gawaine of later days)
tried his fortune, accosting the fierce chieftain in these words:

    Tumultuous is the wave naturally
    When the sea is its base:
    Who art thou, warrior incomprehensible?

To which Trystan Ossianically replies:

    Tumultuous be a wave and a thunderstorm:
    While they be tumultuous in their course,
    In the day of conflict I am Trystan.

Finally the Golden-tongued prevails, and they return together.

Our next glimpse of him is in the kingdom of the _trouvères_
and _troubadours_, with whom he is a great favorite. The famous
Mademoiselle Marie, in her translation, the “Lai Dee Chevrefoil,”
written about the middle of the twelfth century, sings of a pretty
episode in his love, which none of her successors have improved upon,
and which most of them have omitted. There are allusions to him in
Chrestien de Troyes, who wrote before the year 1191, and in the works
of a poetical king of Navarre, about 1226. The date of the Auchinleck
MS., “Sir Tristram,” which Scott raised such a tempest by ascribing
to Thomas the Rhymer of Ercildoune, is said to be 1330. It is written
in a curious and very effective metre; the short abrupt line of two
syllables falling regularly near the end of each stanza reins in the
full swing of the rest with great force and directness. The poem is
full of life and vigor, and there are touches of naïf insight here and
there in strange contrast with the rough, matter-of-fact tone of the
whole. Many and quaint are the adventures of the hero, especially when
he kills a dragon in Ireland for the sake of Iseult, that “brid bright,
as blood upon snoweing,” and her mother cures him of the pain caused by
its poisonous tongue, with treacle; or when, having overcome a terrible
“geaunt” in Brittany, he requires him to adorn the walls of his castle
with “images” of Iseult and Bragwaine, the beauty of which so astounds
his young brother-in-law, evidently a novice in works of art, that he
straightway falls backward and breaks his head!

This poem, or another much like it, was celebrated both at home and
abroad, where “Thomas of Britain” was henceforth quoted as the great
authority on the subject. About the same time lived Raoul de Beauvais,
who also made it his study; Rusticien de Puise, whose work is in
prose; and the authors of two metrical fragments in French, from one
of which Scott completed the Auchinleck MS., though its end had not
been unearthed when he became its editor. The translation, which
carried the name of Tristram northward as far as Iceland, is still
kept in the library at Copenhagen; and G. de le Flamma tells us that
when the tomb of a Lombard king was opened in 1339, there was found
inscribed on his sword, “This was the sword of Sir Tristram, who killed
Amoroyt of Ireland.” Seghart von Bamberg wrote of him in 1403, and also
Eylhard von Habergen. Of the same period is the Romance by Gotfried of
Strasburg, who died in the midst of his work, leaving it to be finished
in a less poetical spirit by Ulrich von Turheim and Heinrich von
Vribert.

Our own Geoffrey of Monmouth was the first to draw Sir Tristram into
the magic circle of Arthur’s knights, in whose good company he has ever
since remained. Lady Juliana Berners mentions him as the inventor of
“venery” or terms of hunting; and his name occurs in “The Temple of
Glass,” and in Gower, who states that he fell by King Mark’s own hand,
a tradition followed only by Sir Thomas Malory and Tennyson. In the
“Orlando Furioso” we hear of the “Rocca di Tristano,” and Ariosto and
Boiardo drew from his legend, old even then, their fountains of love
and hatred. Dante places him next to Paris among the lovers flitting
by like cranes in his “Inferno.” In 1485 Sir Thomas Malory, himself a
knight, published his noble “Morte D’Arthur,” in which Tristram is one
of the most striking figures; and it is remarkable that although he
never seems to have thought there was anything to condemn greatly in
the nephew’s conduct, he palliates it by defaming the uncle as much as
possible—a moral concession not to be found in either of the earlier
romances, which he must have consulted for his work. But we will not
multiply references, lest the reader should be fain to cry with the
author of “Sir Hain and Dame Anieuse,”

    Or pues tu chanter de Tristan,
    Ou de plus longue, se tu sez.

The theme was getting wearisome. Le Seigneur Luce du château de Gast
had exhausted it in his prose Romance (where, for the first time,
Palamides, the Paynim lover of Iseult, and Dinadan, the foolish,
knight, appear); and, besides this, there was a “Romance of Meliodas,”
Tristram’s father, and afterwards a “Romance of Ysaie le Triste,” his
son; so that all the details of his private life were nearly as well
known as those of Mr. Carlyle’s to the present generation. “Ysaie le
Triste” appeared in 1522; and in 1554, when no imagination, however
vivid, could possibly add a single exploit to those which had been
recounted already, Jean Maugin took a new departure, and turned the
whole thing into an allegory, in which Sir Tristram became the type of
Christian chivalry. His queer attempt is justly ridiculed by Scott;
but it is not altogether without interest, as the first indication of
the symbolic spirit in which modern poets have treated the legend—with
the exception of Scott himself, whose beautiful Conclusion and
Ballad are pure imitations of the mediæval spirit as well as of the
mediæval form, and have nothing modern about them. Towards the end of
the sixteenth century the taste for chivalrous romance died out in
Europe—or rather fell asleep—and the name of Tristram was no more heard
for more than two hundred years, except in a glowing stanza or two of
Spenser’s “Fairy Queen.” Then came the revival of Scott and Southey to
prepare the way, and lastly that signal triumph of the ancient story
in our own day, when four of the greatest living poets singled it out
for illustration, and it became a living power again in the hands of
Wagner, Tennyson, Swinburne, and Matthew Arnold. But its power is of
a different kind, for a change has come over the spirit of the dream,
since it was first dreamed long ago among the Welsh mountains.

Accordingly Tristram, once the mere sport of existing circumstances,
becomes a highly responsible person with correctly oppressive notions
of duty. He has grown old along with the rest of the world; he rides
no more light-hearted through the forest, sails no more gaily across
the sea, forgetful of all but life and its deliciousness, woos no more
whom he would. Nor, in the modern versions, does he die merrily, as he
died in the “Morte D’Arthur” and in the “Book of Howth,” “harping afore
his lady La Belle Isoud.”Wagner, to whom one might have fancied, _à
priori_, that such an exit for his tenor would have been most welcome,
sentences him to lingering death of a wound given him by the traitor
Melot; Tennyson fells him with a blow of King Mark’s from behind; in
Matthew Arnold he dies naturally; in Swinburne the false words of
Iseult Les Blanches Mains finish the work of sickness. His love, his
death, are all-important now; whereas of old the first was but an
interesting episode in the life of a man who was second only to Sir
Launcelot at a tourney, and the last so insignificant as to be disposed
of in a single sentence. We hear nothing now of the Castle of Maidens,
or of Lonazep; nothing of the wife of Sir Segwarides, or of other fair
ladies; nothing at all of that great crisis in his life when he met Sir
Launcelot at the peron, “and either wounded other wonderly sore, that
the blood ran out upon the grass.”

Of course there may be a reason for this in the fact that we look upon
Tristram as a hero by himself, and therefore have no need to illustrate
his inferiority to Launcelot, and to Launcelot only, in love and in
war. But where are ye now, Sir Palamides, Sir Bruno, and Sir Elias?
Your very names have a forgotten sound.

    The knights’ bones are dust,
    And their good swords rust,
    Their souls are with the saints, I trust.

But he who wishes to find any record of their doings with Sir Tristram
must search through the length and breadth of Malory’s twenty-one books
ere he find it. Nor is there any trace in the modern poems of the sweet
old story, how after that “deep draughts of death” had taken the Lady
Elizabeth, Tristram’s mother, and his father, King Maliodas, had “let
call him Tristram, the sorrowful-born child,” and had actually, for
love of her, “endured seven years without a wife,” he married a wicked
lady, who tried to poison Tristram; and how she was condemned to death
for the attempt, and he rescued her from his father’s wrath, and made
them accorded, and how she “loved him ever after, and gave Tristram
many great gifts.”

All these things, which relieved the sombre hues of the picture have
faded into dimness. The martial glory of Tristram has passed away;
nothing but tragedy remains—the sin, the sorrow, the inexplicable
fate which linked two separated lives together. Long ago it was a bit
of witchcraft pure and simple; now the magic drink has become the
symbol of mystery and doom, and what not. Like Paolo and Francesca da
Rimini, the guilty souls are hurried round and round without a moment’s
respite by the whirlwind of their passion, in that wonderful opera
which the most devoted followers of Wagner esteem his masterpiece of
blended poetry and music. The fierce, dark, rapturous rejoicing of
love on the very edge of death lights it up with a lurid glare, which
makes everything else look pale and fanciful by comparison; it has no
parallel in art, even among Wagner’s other works, nor can any one
desire that it should have. The great difficulties which stand in the
way of its representation may prevent it from ever becoming popular
in the sense in which “Lohengrin” and “Tannhäuser” are popular; but
those who have had the good fortune to hear it will not easily forget
its unique and terrible power. It is strange that Wagner should have
made King Mark an ideal uncle, tender and forgiving to the last degree,
and so full of self-denial that had he but known of the fatal drink
in time, he would have resigned his bride to his nephew with the best
grace in the world. Dramatically the action loses by this change; the
sympathies of the audience are baffled and divided; do what we will,
the conduct of the hero seems mean and treacherous, and his death
more arbitrary than it need have been, since Melot, the traitor who
gives him his mortal wound, had far less reason to hate him than had
the injured bridegroom. Indeed, it is difficult to see what Wagner
himself thought that he gained by this amendment, unless that tragedy
itself becomes more tragic by the needless suffering inflicted on a
high and noble soul, ready to sacrifice its dearest hopes rather than
undergo the agony of seeing another’s virtue tempted beyond endurance.
There is also one dire offence against good taste, worthy of Wagner’s
earliest models (and of Shakespeare in “King Lear”,) in the scene where
Tristram tears the bandage from his wounds. But if the hero fares
rather badly, until we forgive him for the sake of his death-cry,
“Liebe!” the heroine has never in the course of her long life found
such an interpreter. She has lost, indeed, her old, light-hearted
innocence; but she has lost it to become one of the grandest and most
original creations in the whole range of the drama. She surpasses even
the bounds of passion; the very _fury_ of love is upon her, from the
moment when, foreseeing that she can no longer live without him, she
resolves to make Tristram drink with her of the death-drink, and the
charm begins to work, to the moment when she falls dead besides his
body. The magic only reveals what shame forbade her to confess. The key
to her whole character lies in her answer to Bragwaine’s entreaty that
she will not give the signal for Tristram’s approach by extinguishing
the torch in the window of her tower in King Mark’s palace—

    Und wär ’es meines Lebens Licht,
    Lachend es zu löschen
    Zag ’ich nicht.

Wagner showed his wisdom when he left her alone in her glory, and made
no attempt to introduce that other Iseult of Brittany, who certainly
interferes with any conception of Tristram as the most faithful of
lovers. “And for because that Sir Tristram had such cheer and riches,
and all other pleasures that he had, almost he had forsaken La Beale
Isoud. And so upon a time Sir Tristram agreed to wed Isoud les Blanches
Mains. And at the last they were wedded, and solemnly held their
marriage,” But this is far too natural and unheroic for the nineteenth
century; and poor Iseult the Second fares ill at the hands of our
poets—excepting Matthew Arnold who, with unwonted chivalry, has taken
up the cause of this distressed damsel (this “snowdrop by the sea,”
whose own brother forsook her for her namesake), and made of her one
of those meek, motherly, sweet little women, who are ready to forgive
any one they love anything; and who, too weak either to make or mar the
lives with which they come in contact, yet hold their own by the power
of that clinging, lasting devotedness, which is all their innocent
natures let them know of passion. Very sweet is his picture of her,
standing in her gorgeous robes by the chimney-piece with the firelight
flickering on her white face and her white hands, and her jewelled
clasp, ready to vanish gracefully the moment her rival enters; and it
is with a gentle feeling of regret that we lose sight of her at last,
wandering on the seashore with her children, while she tells them
the old story of Merlin and Vivien to beguile the weary hours of her
widowhood. Here and here only the pure, white-handed maiden-wife bears
away the palm from the old Iseult of Tristram’s dreams, with

            Her proud, dark eyes,
    And her petulant, quick replies;

and we rather resent her intrusion than welcome her, when she comes
back to nurse him, very repentant indeed, like a sort of queenly
Sister of Mercy. His dying request is also a great innovation:

    Close mine eyes, then seek the princess Iseult;
    Speak her fair, she is of royal blood!
    Say, I charged her, that thou stay beside me—
    She will grant it; she is kind and good.

The hero of “the last tournament” is a very different being. Of all
those who have told the story, Tennyson alone seems to have looked
upon Tristram as thoroughly base and unworthy. Such a knight as this,
so rough, licentious, and wanting in courtesy, could never have been
Launcelot’s second; and indeed Tennyson lays no stress whatever on the
strong friendship which existed between them—so strong that neither
would ever wittingly harm any relation or friend of the other. As
Wagner has made the legend a symbol of that strife between man, his
passions, and his circumstances, which is the complex motive of our
latest tragedy,—as Matthew Arnold has drawn from it the lesson, that
quiet and neglected lives often do more to make the world lovely than
great and brilliant ones (a lesson which chivalry would never have
found there),—so Tennyson has made it a symbol of that degradation of
the whole nature, which follows the conscious surrender of the spirit
to the flesh, and has drawn from it the lesson that the very happiness
of partners in guilt is tainted with bitterness and turns to ashes
in their mouths. Nowhere else is there such a sharp contrast implied
between Launcelot, the sinner who repented and was given time for
repentance, and Tristram, the sinner who repented not and was cut off
in the midst of his sin. There is a great gulf between them, across
which they do not even join their hands.

Iseult stands in much the same relation to Guinevere; she is coarser,
more ironical, free from any feeling of remorse; but she surpasses
Tristram as Launcelot surpasses Guinevere, in “faith unfaithful,” and
one has a strong compassion for her in her lonely home, looking out
over the wild sea, with that stealthy spy of a husband, dogging her
every footstep. How full of compressed, dramatic force the last lines
are!

    He rose, he turn’d, then, flinging round her neck,
    Claspt it; and cried “Thine Order, O my Queen!”
    But while he bow’d to kiss the jewel’d throat,
    Out of the dark, just as the lips had touch’d,
    Behind him rose a shadow and a shriek—
    “Mark’s way,” said Mark, and clove him through the brain.

Not so has Swinburne read the character. His Tristram of Lyonesse is
once more the free, open-handed, light-hearted hero, or rather he
would be if he had not inevitably contracted some of the _Zeit-Geist_,
its weariness, its languor, its power of analysis. His gaiety is not
spontaneous—his song is as labored as if he had had to send it up for
an examination; his love is over-heavy with its own sweetness. The
long-drawn, honied lines drag on and on through pages of description,
till we almost long for a rough, dissonant note to break the eternal,
soft, alliterative hissing and kissing. But Iseult bears the wealth
of jewelled epithets lavished upon her, and it is easy enough to
understand them when we are under the spell of her fascination, or
when she is finely contrasted with the cruel, cold-blooded Iseult of
Brittany, who in her jealous anger kills her husband, by telling him
that the sails of the ship which is bringing his love to him are black
instead of white, so that he thinks she has refused to come:

    And fain he would have raised himself and seen
    And spoken, but strong death struck sheer between,
    And darkness closed as iron round his head,
    And smitten through the heart lay Tristan dead.

So there he lies. But he may yet be born again, and fight, and love,
and die, for who knows what shall be in the days to come, or to what
ancient songs the houses of our children’s children may echo? It may be
there is yet a further interpretation of the riddle, the outlines of
which we cannot even guess; and that the two Iseults may come to like
each other. Things even more strange than this have happened. It was
said that out of Tristram’s grave there grew an eglantine, which turned
itself around Iseult’s; and although it was cut three times by order of
the king, the eglantine was ever fair and fresh. By this time it has
grown into a mighty tree, and, for all we know, it has not done growing
yet.—_Merry England._



OLD MYTHOLOGY IN NEW APPAREL.

BY J. THEODORE BENT.

We are generally accustomed to consider mythology as a bygone episode
of _juventus mundi_; it may seem at first sight strange to realize that
what we have read of in Homer exists to-day. But so it is, and the
following facts collected during lengthened tours in remote corners of
Greece will prove, I hope, that the mystic beings of classical Greece
are present now, when the world is supposed to be growing old. All
my instances are from the islands of the Ægean Sea, the Cyclades and
the Sporades, where communication with the outer world has never been
great, and over which the various waves of Goths, Italians, Turks,
which in a measure destroyed the identity of continental Greece, had,
comparatively speaking, slight influence, and that only in the towns
near the coast, whereas up in the mountains of Naxos, Amorgos, &c.,
pure Greek blood still flows.

Here the mythology of their ancestors is deeply ingrained in the
inhabitants, both in the ritual of their Church, and in their manners
and customs; the ritual, indeed, of the Eastern Church is but an
intellectual adaptation under Christian guidance of the problems
propounded by the later philosophers to the popular doctrines of
polytheism.

I was in the island of Keos, or Zia, one of the Cyclades, when the idea
of forming this collection struck me, and it was on the occasion of
being told that here St. Artemidos is considered as the patron saint of
weakly children. The church dedicated to this saint is some little way
from the town on the hill slopes; thither a mother will take a child
afflicted by any mysterious wasting, “struck by the Nereids,” as they
say; she then strips off its clothes, and puts on new ones blessed by
the priest, leaving the old ones as a perquisite for the church; and
then if perchance the child grows strong, she will thank St. Artemidos
for the blessing vouchsafed, unconscious that she is perpetuating the
archaic worship of Artemis. The Ionian idea of the fructifying and
nourishing properties of the Ephesian Artemis has been transferred to
her Christian namesake.

About these Nereids, too, we hear much in modern Greece, and they have
the properties of many of our mythological friends, those of Keos, for
example, are supposed to live on cliffs and in trees; if a man sleeps
under the shadow of a cliff or tree, and is taken with a cold sweat,
they say “the goddess of the tree has injured him,” and accordingly
to appease her they spread on the place a clean white cloth, and put
on it new-made bread, a plate with honey, another with sweetmeats, a
bottle of good wine, a knife and fork and an empty glass, an unburnt
candle, and an incense pot; an old woman utters some mystic words, and
then all go away, “that the Nereids may eat and the sufferer regain his
health.” We have here a ceremony very like that anciently performed at
Athens to appease the Eumenides when a banquet was laid near the caves
they were supposed to haunt, of which honey and milk were the necessary
ingredients.

The Nereids in many cases correspond to the nymphs of antiquity; they
preside over healing streams, and they wash in them at night when the
waters sleep, and no one at that time dares to approach for fear of
becoming frenzied (νυμφόληπτος).

The cloak of Phœbus Apollo has fallen on the prophet Elias. As of
old temples on all the highest hills of the islands are dedicated to
the sun-god; the reason is obvious. Ἡλιος, the sun deity
(the _h_ not being aspirated), at once suggested Elias to the easily
accommodating divines, and to all intents and purposes the prophet
supplies the place of the sun-god of antiquity. Prophet Elias has power
over rain; in times of drought people assemble in crowds in his church
to pray for rain, and in this he has the attribute of ὄμβριος
or ὑέτιος Ζεῦς. When it thunders they say the prophet is
driving in his chariot in pursuit of demons.

To pass on to another analogy. There is a curious parallel between St.
Anarguris, the patron saint in some parts of flocks and herds, and
the god Pan of ancient days. On the island of Thermià (Κύθνος) I saw a
church dedicated to St. Anarguris built over the mouth of a cavern, as
the protecting saint of the place, instead of Pan, the ancient god of
grottos. But a still more marked instance of the continuation of Pan
worship occurs to-day on Keos at the little church of St. Anarguris,
at a remote hamlet called 'στὸ μακρινὸ. Whenever an ox is ailing they
take it to this church and pray for its recovery; if the cock crows
when they start, or they hear the voice of a man or the grunt of a pig,
there is every hope that the animal will be cured; but on the contrary,
if they hear a cat, a dog, or a woman, it is looked upon as an evil
omen. When at the church of St. Anarguris they solemnly register a vow
that if the ox recovers they will present it to the saint when its days
of work are over; accordingly, every year on the 1st of July, the day
on which they celebrate the feast of St. Anarguris, numbers of aged
oxen may be seen on the road to this church, where they are slaughtered
on the threshold and the flesh distributed amongst the poor.

St. Nicholas, again, is the lineal descendant of Poseidon; he is the
sailor’s god. Wherever in ancient times there existed a temple to the
honor of Poseidon we now find an insignificant white-washed edifice
dedicated to St. Nicholas. This is especially noticeable at Tenos,
where was in antiquity the famous shrine and feast of Poseidon. On this
island the chief town is now called St. Nicholas, and hither yearly
assemble to worship thousands of Greeks from all parts of the world
before a miracle-working shrine. Modern priestcraft, in short, has
cleverly arranged that Tenos should be the modern Delos where the topic
of independent panhellenism can be freely discussed.

Everything nautical has to do with St. Nicholas; in Mykenos a little
church built on a rock out in the harbor is dedicated to him; another
on the sea shore at Paros is dedicated to Ἅγιος Νικόλαος Θαλασσίτης;
his picture, or εἰκὼν is painted on the inside of crabs’ backs, which
are gilded outside and worshipped. In nautical songs St. Nicholas is
always alluded to as the inventor of the rudder, and is represented
as seated at the helm, whilst Christ sits at the prow and the Virgin
in the middle. In a storm sailors call on him for assistance, as the
ancients did on the Dioscouri, whom they thought to have power to allay
storms direct from Poseidon himself.

We always find St. Dionysius as the successor of Dionysos in the
Christian ritual. The island of Naxos was a chief centre of the worship
of the wine-loving god in antiquity; and a fable about St. Dionysius,
still told in the islands and on the mainland, clearly points to the
continuity of the myth. It is as follows:—

St. Dionysius was on his way one day from his monastery on Mount
Olympus to Naxos, and he sat down to rest during the heat of the day.
Close to him he saw a pretty plant which he wished to take with him,
and, lest it should wither by the way, he put it into the leg bone of
a bird, and to his surprise at his next halting-place he found it had
sprouted; so, accordingly, he put it into the leg bone of a lion, and
the same thing occurred; finally, he put it into the leg of an ass, and
in reaching Naxos he found the plant so rooted in the bones that he
planted them altogether. And up came a vine, from the fruit of which he
made the first wine, a little of which made the saint sing like a bird,
a little more made him strong as a lion, and yet a little more made him
as foolish as an ass.

At Melos they have a curious feast which recalls a Bacchic revelry.
Every landowner who wishes to plant a vineyard calls together, on
a certain day, fifty or more men, when church is over; to these he
gives a spade apiece, and slaughters some goats and fills skins with
wine. Then they all start off together to their work, preceded by a
standard-bearer holding a white banner. In the field they eat the food,
drink the wine, and plant the vineyard, all in the space of one day,
and return home again, most of them in a decided state of intoxication.
This is followed by a dance and further revelry in front of the church,
which doubtless the village priest will hallow with his presence. The
Greeks, taken as a whole, are a sober race, but on certain occasions
and festivals it is almost a religious duty to drink heavily. In the
island of Paros there actually exists a church dedicated to the
drunken St. George, whose feast-day is on the 3rd of November. The
priest thereof, in answer to my inquiries about this strange name,
remarked that the 3rd of November is the anniversary of St. George’s
burial, and then the inhabitants usually tap their new-made wine and
get drunk; but why they should on such a solemn occasion speak of Ἅγιος
ΓἍοργιος μεθύστης I could not divine, unless we take into account the
hereditary tendency of the Greeks to deify passions.

A curious instance of the survival of the mythical Titans I met at
Chios, at the southern point of which island exists a colossal white
rock; this the natives told me was a stone which Samson had once hurled
against God, and it had fallen here. But of all the myths of antiquity
which exist to-day none is more marked than the belief in Charon, the
Styx, and Hades. In Thermià they believe that in Charon’s infernal
kingdom are lamps which represent the life of men, and when each man’s
lamp is extinguished for want of oil he will die.

A Greek peasant looks upon death quite differently from what a peasant
of the western world is taught to believe. To him it is the end of all
joy and gladness; the songs over his body (myriologues) speak of the
black earth, the end of light and brilliancy. A popular Klephtic song
on the death of Zedros, when read by the side of Sophocles’ description
of the death of Ajax, shows how curiously alike are the ideas of
death as painted in the two poems. Charon is still believed to be a
white-haired old man with long and fearful nails, and in myriologues or
lamentations, which are still of every-day occurrence in the islands,
you actually hear of Charon’s caïque. He is now spoken of as Charos.
I had been told that, in some parts of Greece they still put money on
the mouth of a deceased person to pay the passage (ναὗλον). I sought in
vain for instances of it in the islands; but one day, whilst attending
a child’s funeral in a mountain village of Naxos, I saw a wax cross put
on the childs’ mouth by the priest, and on inquiry I was told it was
the ναὗλον, _i.e._, freight money—so completely has the Eastern Church
incorporated into itself the ancient ideas.

In a popular song I have heard Charon spoken of as a “bird like unto
a black swallow,” which compares curiously with the passage in the
twenty-second _Odyssey_, where Athena is represented as sitting on the
roof of the palace at Ithaca like a swallow, on the day of vengeance
for Penelope’s suitors.

It will be apparent from the above remarks that at the time of the
change of religion from paganism to Christianity, names were given
to saints to supply wants felt by the abandonment of polytheism.
There are many instances of this. For example, St. Eleutherius is
the saint called upon by women in childbirth to deliver them; deaf
people are recommended to consult St. Jacob (Ἄκουφος as he is called,
κουφος—deaf), and in Lesbos I was told that St. Therapon could heal all
manner of diseases. In the same way young married people who wish for a
numerous progeny chose St. Polycarp as their patron saint, so that they
may have many teeth in their house, as the saying goes (πολὺ 'δοντια
'στὸ σπίτι).

St. Charalambos is, however, the Æsculapius of modern days. He used
to hold jurisdiction over the plague, and is represented as a hideous
wizard, trampling under foot a serpent with smoke issuing out of its
mouth; and in fever-stricken, marshy districts St. Charalambos still
reigns supreme. In many places it is the custom on the outbreak of
a pestilence for forty women to make a garment in one day, which is
hung up in the saint’s church. For instance, at Zephyria, the mediæval
capital of the island of Melos, which was abandoned altogether about
twenty years ago as unfit to live in, I visited the ruins, and in the
centre of them saw still standing the church of St. Charalambos, and
an old man, who happened to be picking his olives there at the time,
told me the history of the desolation, and the methods they used to
resort to when he was young to rid the place of disease; how they used
to bury heifers whole; and how they used to fasten up illnesses in
a cauldron—that is to say, they wrote down the names of the various
maladies on paper, and boiled them in a cauldron with some money and
a cock in front of the shrine of the modern Æsculapius. But in vain;
the town had to be abandoned, for it had been cursed by a priest, and
never could hope to recover salubrity.

It is a very common custom for Greek peasants to pass the night in a
church of St. Charalambos with a view to cure an ailment; at festivals
too, near miraculous _eikons_, such as the one at Tenos, the invalids
pass whole nights in the church, reminding one forcibly of that
ridiculous scene in Aristophanes (Plut. vv. 655) when the priests
stole the food from the invalids who were asleep in the temple of
Æsculapius, and we can easily see in this custom a mild form of the
ancient ἐγκοίμησις when the sick folks lay down in the skin of a newly
killed ram in the churches, and in this luxurious couch awaited the
inspiration of the divinity.

The quackeries and incantations common in Greece to-day as specifics
for certain diseases are many of them very quaint, being long rhymes
and formulas mixing up Christ, the Virgin, and saints with magic words
and signs which savour of heathendom. It is the old women only who are
supposed to know them, and they are very shy of producing them before
a foreign unbeliever. They are just like those women who in ancient
Athens practised quackery and secret cures, which were zealously
guarded and kept up as specialities in families. Curiously enough these
old women in Greece who profess to cure diseases will tell you, arguing
from the analogy of plants, that all diseases are worms, which consume
the body, and that they are generated by the wrath of the gods. They
have arrived at the bacillus theory by much straighter reckoning than
our physicians.

On the day of the commemoration of the dead I was in a small village
in Amorgos, and there witnessed the quaint ceremony of κόλλυβα. Every
house on this occasion sends to the church a plate of boiled corn;
tottering old women with one foot in the grave generally bring it,
and pour the contents into a large basket placed before the high
altar whilst the service is going on, and then into the mass of corn
they stick a candle, and if the family is especially grand they have
separate plates with sesame seeds, or adorned with patterns of raisins
and almonds. After the service is over the boiled corn and other
delicacies are distributed amongst the poor outside the church. These
offerings are very suggestive of the ancient idea of Demeter and her
daughter.

We will now consider another branch of mythology—the fickle goddesses,
the Fates (Μοῖρα), whose workings in modern Greece are looked upon with
as much superstition as of old. On the island of Sikinos I attended
an interesting ceremony called the μοίρισμα of a child, which happens
a year after its birth. All the friends and relatives are gathered
together to a feast. A tray is brought out, and on it are put various
objects—a pen, money, tools, an egg, &c., and whichever the infant
first touches with its hands is held to be the indication of the μοῖρα
as to the most suitable career to be chosen for it. The meaning of the
first-mentioned articles is obvious. The demarch of Sikinos told me
that his son had touched a pen, consequently he had been sent to the
university at Athens, and had there distinguished himself, but the
meaning of the egg is not quite so clear, and the egg is the horror
of all parents, for if the child touches it he will be fitted for no
calling in life—he will be a good-for-nothing, a mere duck’s egg, so to
speak, in society.

Some ceremony such as this must have been the one alluded to by
Apollodorus when he tells us that seven days after the birth of
Meleager the Fates told the horologue of the child, and the torch was
lighted on the hearth. In some places still the seventh day is chosen
as the one for this important ceremony, and it is called ἑφτὰ. When
it is dark and the lamps lighted a table is put in the middle of the
house, a basin full of honey in the centre of the table, and all round
quantities of food. Numerous oil lamps are then lighted; one dedicated
to Christ, another to the Virgin, another to the Baptist, and so forth.
A symbol of faith is then read and deep silence prevails, and the saint
whose lamp is first extinguished is chosen as the protector of the
infant. At this moment they say the Fates come in and “κάλομοιραζουσι”
the child, and take some of the food from the table.

The Fates are in some places supposed to write on the forehead of a
man his destiny. Pimples on the nose and forehead are called γραψίματα
τῶν Μοίρων. The decrees of the Fates are unalterable. According to
various legends, attempts have been made to change them, but without
avail. Only once, a girl of Naxos, so I was told, up in a mountain
village, who was excessively ugly, managed to learn from a magician
where the Fates lived, and that if she could get them to eat salt they
would go blind and change her fate. She contrived to bring this about,
and became lovely, married a prince, but had no children; “showing,”
continued the legend by way of moral, “that the Fates never consent to
a person being altogether happy.”

This changing from ugliness to beauty is a common subject for legends
and beliefs. The first woman to see a child after birth must be
lovely, so as to impart to it her beauty, and the first man must be of
great strength, so as to impart his vigor. This reminds one of one of
Herodotus’s stories (vi. 61), when he seriously tells us of the change
of an ugly child into the fairest woman of Sparta by her nurse taking
her daily to the temple of the heroine Helen to pray. One day the
heroine met the nurse and predicted that the child would become fair,
which accordingly, says Herodotus, came to pass.

In Melos the Fates are greatly consulted in matrimonial concerns. The
25th of November, St. Catharine’s day, is considered the most suitable,
and St. Catharine is accordingly prayed to by unmarried maidens to
intercede on their behalf. On the vigil of her feast they make cakes
with a good deal of salt in, which they eat before going to bed. As
a natural result of eating so much salt and thinking about matrimony
their dreams often take the turn of water and a kindly man offering
them to drink. If this is so they are sure to marry that man.

Many of our mythological personages and legends have their parallel
to-day. There are the Lamiæ, for instance, evil-working women who
live in desert places, ill-formed like their ancestors, daughters of
Belus and Sibyl; utterly unfit are they for household duties, for
they cannot sweep, so an untidy woman to-day is said to have made the
sweepings of a Lamia (Τῆς Λαμίας τὰ σαρώματα); they cannot bake, for
they put bread into the oven before heating it; they have dogs and
horses, but give bones to their horses and straw to their dogs. They
are very gluttonous, so much so that in Byzantine and modern Greek
the verb λαμιώνω is used to express over-eating. They have a special
predilection for baby’s flesh, and a Greek mother of to-day will
frighten her child by saying that a Lamia will come if it is naughty,
just as was said to naughty children in ancient days; for the legend
used to run that Zeus loved Lamia too well, untidy though she was,
and Hera, out of jealousy, killed her children, whereat Lamia was so
grieved that she took to eating the children of others. Some Lamiæ
are like the Sirens, and by taking the form of lovely nymphs, beguile
luckless men to their destruction; for example, an ecclesiastical
legend, savoring strongly of Boccaccio, tells us how a Lamia charmed a
monk as he sat by the side of a lake one evening; dawn came, and the
monk was seen no more, but some children swore to having seen his hoary
beard floating on the waters of the lake.

Dragons are common now in every weird place, especially where those
large stoned Hellenic walls are standing, and stories like those of
Perseus, the Centaurs, the Cyclops, &c., are common among the peasants
who speak of these old remains as Τοῦ Δράκου τὸ σπίτι, the Dragon’s
house. In one fable we have the exact story of Ulysses and Polyphemus.
One Spanos is the traveller, ὁ Δράκος is Polyphemus, and the facts are
the same.

The witches (στρίγλαι) of modern folk-lore are supposed to be over a
hundred, and to be able to turn into birds at will like the harpies
of old; they love the flesh of unbaptised babies, and for this reason
children wear charms, as they do also against the evil eye (βασκανεῖα).
My host on the island of Pholygandros most solemnly told me how a
person with the evil eye could wither a fruit-tree by admiring it, and
on my looking sceptical, he quoted several instances which had come
under his immediate notice. This is the ὀφθαλμὸς βάσκανος of antiquity,
the god Fascinus of Latin mythology, whom Pliny tells us was worshipped
so strangely by the Vestal Virgins.

I witnessed a very sad case on the island of Kimolos of a sailor who,
in a storm, as he rounded the dreaded Cape Malea on his return home,
had been struck, as they told me, by that mysterious ghost-demon the
Τελώνια; he was kept in the village church all day, and had been in
there all night, whilst his relatives were praying vehemently around
him for the return of his shattered intellect. This τελώνια is a
species of electricity, and appears during storms on the mastheads,
which the Greek sailors personify as birds of evil omen, which settle
on the masts with a view to destroy the ship and drown the sailors.
They have words expressly for exorcising this phantom, and sometimes
they try to drive it away by beating brass or shooting. In Italy this
is called the fire of St. Elmo, and is evidently the same idea which in
ancient times was connected with the Dioscouri.

From these points it will be easily seen how much that is old lives
to-day. In manners and customs and daily life the peasant Greeks
reproduce even more that can be identified as ancient, but this is
apart from my present subject.—_Macmillan’s Magazine._



OUTWITTED.

A TALE OF THE ABRUZZI.

I.

It was a warm afternoon in April, and the sun was blazing hotly down
upon the wooded heights of the Abruzzi and upon the marble cliff
against which nestles the little village of Palenella.

The blue-green aloes were unfurling their sharp-pointed leaves in the
clefts and crannies of the rocks above, and every now and then the wild
roses sent a pink shower fluttering down to the flat roofs below, where
maize and wheat were spread out to dry in the sun.

Lucia Ceprano was sitting at the door of her gray stone cottage this
hot afternoon, busily engaged in peeling and splitting willow rods
preparatory to mending a certain dilapidated old basket which lay on
the ground beside her.

The stony village street was silent, and not a creature was visible but
herself, except, indeed, a few fowls which were promenading in the sun,
and some little black pigs which lay sleeping with outstretched legs in
sundry dusty hollows.

The fact was, that the whole population of Palenella was gone to take
part in a procession in the little town of Palene. Not a creature had
stayed at home but Lucia Ceprano; and no one now was surprised at this
or anything else she took it into her head to do, for the villagers had
made up their minds that she was “cracked.”

Lucia had refused the wealthiest young men in the district; Lucia
owned property, yet she worked as hard as if she were poor; Lucia did
not dance the tarantella, was not merry, would not have a lover, and
never beat her mule, even when he was as obstinate as only a mule can
be!

Such was the indictment against her; and in an out-of-the-way village
like Palenella, where every one was about five hundred years behind the
outside world, any one of these eccentricities would have been quite
enough to make people call her crazy.

Then again, though she certainly was beautiful, it was in a very
different style from her neighbors; indeed, she was of quite a
different type from what one usually sees anywhere in the whole
district, as far South as Naples.

The women in these parts are small, agile, and graceful, with pretty
little dark brown faces, small, sharp noses, pouting lips, and wild
curly hair, almost entirely covering their low foreheads. They are
light-hearted creatures, laughing and chattering the whole day long;
and in character they are an odd mixture of carelessness, shrewdness,
passion, cunning, and narrow-mindedness.

Lucia, on the other hand, was well grown and stately-looking; her face
was oval, and she had smooth black hair and wonderful deep brown,
tranquil eyes, which seemed to look thoughtfully at everything; and
her mouth, though well-formed and full-lipped, was firmly closed; she
moved about in a dignified, deliberate way, and she was reckoned the
most unsociable girl in the village, for she never spoke a word more
than was actually necessary.

The very fact of her being so unlike other village girls, however,
caused Lucia to be quite the rage at one time. All the young men for
miles round were crazy about her, and she had as many offers as there
were Sundays in the year; for she had other attractions besides her
beauty. Every one knew that besides the very tolerable property in
Palenella, which was all her own and quite unencumbered, Lucia also
possessed 10,000 lire, or something over 400_l._, in the national bank
of Rome, so that for these parts she was a considerable heiress.

Lucia allowed her suitors to say their say without interruption, and
then raising those calm, wonderful eyes, and looking steadily at them
for the space of a second, she announced that she had no intention of
marrying.

Things had gone on in this way from Lucia’s fifteenth birthday for five
years; every Sunday and holiday some one made her an offer, and every
Sunday and holiday some one was refused, until she gave up answering
at all, and merely waved her lovers off with a gesture of her hand,
neither more nor less than contemptuous.

The young men had taken offence at her behavior at last, and now
revenged themselves by pronouncing her cracked, and leaving her to
herself. All but one of them at least did so, and he was the son of a
wealthy farmer, Pietro Antonio by name, who lived higher up among the
mountains. Pietro was not so easily to be got rid of as the rest, and,
do what she would, he followed her everywhere, lying in wait for her
at the fêtes and processions, watching for her at church and market,
and persecuting her to such an extent, now with pretty speeches and
entreaties, and now with angry threats, that at last Lucia gave up
going to the fêtes, and did not even venture to church except in the
late evening, when she could do so unobserved.

For Pietro was a wild, passionate youth, with something of the savage
about him, and as Lucia disliked him even more than her other suitors,
she had determined to stay at home this afternoon for fear she should
meet him at Palene and be exposed to his vehement importunities.

She had therefore been alone for some hours; but now she heard a
distant sound of voices, laughing and chattering. The villagers were
coming back, and were climbing the rocky pathway which led to their
homes, and soon the little street was all alive again.

At the first sound of their approach, Lucia had retreated into the
cottage, and set about warming up the polenta for her mother; and as
she stood in the large kitchen, with the blaze from the fire lighting
up her grave, madonna-like face, this personage came in.

She was an old, grey-haired woman, but there was an almost wild glare
in her small, sharp eyes, as she glanced angrily at the girl.

“What a shame it is!” she cried, pulling off her red silk neck-kerchief
and kicking away a chair. “The idea of my being the only woman to
have an unmarried daughter! Here I am pointed at by every one! I’m
the mother of the ‘crazy girl,’ forsooth, and I can’t show my face
anywhere!”

“Bah!”said Lucia, without looking up from the fire; “where can’t you
show your face?”

“Why, neither in the village nor in the whole country round,”returned
the old woman, passionately.

“Don’t you trouble yourself about any of their gossip, mother; and
don’t force me to marry, for I can’t take any of the young men about
here,” said Lucia, calmly.

“Forced you will be, sooner or later,” returned her mother. “One of
them will cut off your hair, and then you know you must marry him,
whether you like it or not,” she added dolefully.

“Shame on the men here, then!” exclaimed Lucia, with flaming eyes.
“Shame on any man who forces a woman to marry him by such means! lying
in wait to cut off her hair, and then making a show of it in the
village until the poor thing is obliged to marry the thief, or she will
be forever disgraced and never get another husband! Shame on men who
win their wives in this fashion!”

“Ah, well! it has been the taming of a good many obstinate girls for
all that, and they are happy enough now. Look at Emilia Mantori and
Teresina,”continued the mother; “they held out for a couple of years,
and then one fine day they lost their plaits! They came back from the
fields with their hair cut short; the boys hooted them down the street,
and three weeks later there were two merry weddings, and now it is all
as right as can be!”

“I hope that will never be my fate, mother,”said Lucia; “never!” and
she clenched her brown hand with its long, shapely fingers, while all
the blood left her lips. “If people behave like brigands, they may
expect to be treated like brigands. Any one who lays a finger on my
hair will have to look out for himself, as all the ruffians about here
know full well, and so they keep their distance.”

“Our lads are not ruffians; they may be a little wild, but there are
some good fellows among them.”

“I don’t know a single one, then, and I won’t marry a soul here. If
ever I am married, it shall not be to a man who will beat me and make
me work just as if I were a mule; and you know very well that is what
all the men do here in the Abruzzi, so why do you go on complaining
and fault-finding? I tell you what will be the end of it, if you go on
scolding and worrying, you will drive me away, and I shall go to Rome
and open some sort of little shop—”

“And leave your mother here in poverty and misery!”

“You are not poor, mother, for you can stay here as long as you live,
and there is quite enough to keep you well, without your having to work
hard. Besides, I don’t want to leave you at all, as long as you don’t
want to force me into a marriage I hate!”

“Very well, I won’t, then,”said the old woman. “Stay as you are, since
you will have your own way.”

By this time the sun was almost setting, and a flood of red-gold light
was pouring in through the open door; the mountains were all bathed
in purple vapor, and the still warm evening air was fragrant with the
scent of roses, geraniums, and lavender.

The mother and daughter had eaten their supper in silence, and Lucia
had just risen to take away the things, when a shadow fell across the
threshold, and on Lucia’s looking up, a bold voice said, “Good evening,
signorina.”

The speaker was a fine young man wearing a blue velvet jacket,
high-crowned hat, and a large woollen scarf, which was knotted round
his waist, and he was looking passionately at Lucia with his piercing,
coal-black eyes.

“Do you want to see my mother?” asked Lucia, in anything but an
encouraging manner.

“No; I want to see you, signorina,” answered the young man, with much
polite suavity, taking off his hat as he spoke.

“If you are come to say the same as before, Pietro Antonio, you may
spare yourself the trouble,” said Lucia, clearly and firmly.

“Then you won’t let me come into your house, Lucia Ceprano?” asked the
young man, with a sudden contraction of his thin-lipped mouth, and a
look in his eyes not unlike that of an enraged tiger.

“The door is open, you can come in,” said Lucia, calmly, “and you can
talk to my mother if you like;” and with that she left the room by the
back-door, and went out into the little garden which was fenced round
with aloe bushes.

Meantime Pietro stepped into the cottage, and throwing his hat upon the
table, sat down opposite the old woman, saying, “You don’t seem to have
made much progress, Mother Ceprano.”

“You can see for yourself,”said she, in a low voice.

“Then she will soon be off to Rome, and you will have to work like the
rest,” said the young man, without any apparent malice, “for everything
here belongs to her. It was her father’s property, I know, and settled
on her.”

“She will let me have it,”said the old woman, dejectedly.

“But she won’t go on doing all the work for you! She works for you both
now; and then there’s the interest of her money; of course she will
want that for herself when she is in Rome,” continued the young man,
casting a sharp sidelong glance at the old woman as he spoke. “Yes,
your comfortable, easy-going life will be quite at an end, mother,
unless—but perhaps she is going to take you with her?” inquired Pietro,
in a tone of much sympathy.

“I’m sure I don’t know; but she was saying only this very day again
that go she would, and I believe she will.”

“Ah!”returned the young man, his lips working with suppressed passion,
“then you will just have to hire a couple of strong women to do your
field work—that’s all!”

“You know very well there’s not land enough to keep three
people,”retorted the mother, angrily.

“Then keep the girl!” said Pietro, lightly.

“Keep her! keep her! it’s easy talking; pray, can _you_ keep her,
Pietro Antonio?”

“Yes, I can, if you will help me,” said the young man, softly.

He rose from his seat, and going to the back-door, peered out into the
garden. But Lucia was not there. No doubt, thought he to himself, she
had gone out somewhere to avoid the chance of encountering him again.
At all events, she was safe out of the way; and closing the door again,
he drew his chair nearer to the old woman, and said in a low tone,
“Look here, mother, I can force her to stay here. She wouldn’t be the
first girl who found herself obliged to marry the man who wanted her!
You know what I mean; and though it would be a real pity to spoil her
hair, such beautiful hair as it is, too—still—”

“And what if she were to stab you, Pietro? You don’t know what she is,”
and the old woman looked uneasily at the floor.

“It will be your business to take care that she can’t do anything of
the kind. Take her knife away when she is asleep, hide me in the garden
and let me in when it is all safe. When she wakes up again the plait
will be mine, and then we shall be all right.”

“She will turn me out of the house when she knows, and I shall be worse
off than ever,”returned Mother Ceprano, anxiously.

“I shall be there to look after you, shan’t I? and won’t it all be
for her own happiness? You know I am the richest fellow in the whole
district, and there isn’t another girl who would refuse me. You know
yourself she couldn’t make a better match, and her refusing me is
nothing but a whim; and if you give way to her, she will end by being
an old maid herself, and making you into a common working woman—so
there!”

“Yes, I know that; it’s all true enough, and it would be a real
blessing for us all—for you and me and herself—if she would have you;
but I say you don’t know her, Pietro, you don’t know her, and I am
certain some mischief will come of it.”

“Bah! that’s all talk—a woman indeed—that _would_ be a new idea,” said
Pietro, with a contemptuous laugh. “I’ll soon tame her! The prouder
and wilder they are to begin with, the tamer and more gentle they are
afterwards. When I carry her plait through the streets—and that’s what
I will do if she makes any more fuss—she will follow me like a lamb,
see if she won’t! There has never been a girl in these parts yet who
has been disgraced in this way without being thankful to marry the only
man who could give her back her good name.”

“Ay,”interposed the mother, in a frightened tone, “but then she is not
like other girls. You are strong and clever, and thought a great deal
of, and you are the chief man in the place for miles round; but where
is the good of all that if she hates you, and perhaps does you some
injury, and turns me out of doors?”

“She _doesn’t_ hate me, it’s only her childish pride; I know all about
that, and it does not trouble me a bit,”returned Pietro, coolly. “You
know I have promised to settle so much a year upon you if she marries
me, and I will engage that you shall stay here and have the use of the
cottage and the land rent-free, and be able to keep a servant. There!
So now, please to make up your mind at once, mother. Will you or won’t
you? yes or no?”

“I can’t—I daren’t.”

“Then be poor, as poor as the poorest in the place! Work is wholesome;
those who work long, live long! Good-bye, Mother Ceprano,” said the
young man, scornfully, moving to the door as he spoke.

“Stay!” cried the old woman, hoarsely. “I’ll do it.”

“When?”asked Pietro, still standing in the doorway.

“I will send you a message when I think there is a good chance. I shall
only say that I want you to come and speak to me, and then you can come
about eleven o’clock that night.”

“Well, then, it’s settled, mind. Be careful, don’t gossip, and, above
all, keep your word.”

“I shall keep my word,” said old Mother Ceprano, gloomily, as she
accompanied Pietro to the door; and as she went back into the now dark
kitchen, she muttered, “She can’t make a better match; he is rich, very
rich, and he is looked up to, and he is handsome, and there are others
worse than he. She will be all right, and what he says is quite true;
it is only a whim.”


II.

Early the next morning, before her mother was astir, Lucia was up and
busy in the yard; and after fetching the mule from his stable and
loading him with a couple of large flat baskets full of onions, she
mounted him herself, and trotted off towards Palene.

Lucia’s dress was like that of the other peasant women, and consisted
of a red silk kerchief tied closely over the head; another of yellow,
which covered her shoulders, was crossed over her chest and tied
behind; and a green woollen gown. Her beautiful black hair was smoothly
braided in one long thick plait, which hung down her back. So far there
was nothing remarkable about her costume; but she also wore what was
peculiar to herself, a leather belt with a metal sheath and a large
gardening knife stuck in it. She kept her hand almost constantly upon
this weapon, a circumstance which gave her a rather savage Amazon-like
appearance, strangely at variance with her calm madonna face, and
smooth hair.

But as the mule jogged on through the fresh morning air, and Lucia
watched the golden sunlight playing on the rocks above and the fields
below, her thoughts were anything but savage, for she was saying to
herself, “Who would think that human beings could be so wicked when
one sees how beautiful and peaceful, and happy everything is? They
don’t notice it, for they are like animals still; they live like wild
beasts. It is different in towns; it is better even in Palene, but how
very different it must be in Rome, or Florence, or Naples! There, so I
have read, people are good and gentle, and forgiving. They don’t love
like wolves and hate like tigers. I know just one man myself, but then
he is a foreigner, and they would be certain to kill him if I married
him. Couldn’t we escape to Rome?” pursued the maiden thoughtfully,
bending her body down over the mule. “But no,” she went on, “they would
find him out even in Rome, and one fine day he would be found dead and
I should have murdered him.”

The mule, finding that his mistress was not paying any heed to him,
now stood quite still and put down his head to crop a few mouthfuls of
grass. But this roused Lucia from her dreams, and taking hold of the
reins and uttering a loud “Aia!” she put him to a quicker pace, and in
a few minutes more they had reached the end of their journey.

The little town of Palene consists of three narrow streets, a small
market-place, a municipal building, and a tolerably large and handsome
church. Facing the market-place are two houses rather superior to the
rest, which are painted pink and blue, and have bright green blinds.
One of the two, at the time of which we are writing, was a shop kept
by a man named Lugeno, who called himself a “general-dealer, barber,
coffee-house and tavern keeper.” In front of the shop stood a table
and four chairs, while baskets of fruit and vegetables stood about the
entrance, and over the door hung half-a-dozen cages containing canary
birds.

The owner of this miscellaneous business, Don Ernano Lugeno, was
standing at his shop-door enjoying the fine spring air, and comfortably
smoking a short meerschaum, as Lucia came up on her mule. Now people
in Palene do not smoke meerschaums, so this circumstance alone was
enough to suggest the idea of his being a foreigner, and the impression
was only confirmed by a glance at the man’s face and figure. With
his broad shoulders, yellow hair, fresh complexion, golden beard,
and bright, deep-blue eyes, Don Lugeno was the perfect type of the
northern giant, in spite of his Italian name. In truth his real
name was Hermann Lütgens, and he was a native of Pomerania, but
some accident had brought him to Italy when a boy, and there he had
remained ever since. He was now about thirty, and for the last ten
years he had been in business at Palene; but in spite of the numerous
strings to his bow, already mentioned, he did not get on very well,
and in fact, made but a very poor living. Yet he was very industrious,
and in addition to selling green-grocery, singing-birds, coffee and
wine, he repaired watches, mended tables and chairs, put in window
panes and painted beautiful sign-boards; so that he was looked upon
as quite indispensable in all times of need, and was highly popular
with everybody for his cheerful, obliging temper, and not less for his
moderate charges. Still Don Lugeno did not prosper, and the reason was
that he had one darling passion; he was an ardent sportsman, and every
now and then he would disappear for two or three days into the woods,
quite forgetting his business and his customers; and when at length he
came home looking dishevelled and half wild, he seldom brought with him
more than a lean hare, a small marten, or a miserable quail. In spite
of his small success, however, Don Lugeno could not break himself of
his love of sport, and it was this which kept him a poor man.

Still, in spite of his poverty, all the women in the place, whether
old or young, had a very kind feeling for Don Ernano, as he was called
(all the people in the place being usually known by their Christian
names), and, if he had been so inclined, he might several times have
made such a match as would have raised him at once to a position of
ease and comfort. But he was not inclined to give up his liberty, or
so it seemed, and the men liked him all the better, for being, as they
believed, a woman-hater.

Whether, however, he really was the inveterate woman-hater he was
supposed to be might reasonably have been doubted by any one who had
chanced to observe how instantly his face lighted up when Lucia and
her mule turned the corner into the market-place. They were coming to
him, of course, for Lucia supplied his shop with vegetables, and had
done so for years. He had known her and dealt with her ever since her
childhood, and now that she was a woman, and a beautiful woman into
the bargain, it had more than once crossed his mind that, if he could
afford to marry, there was no one in the whole neighborhood whom he
should like so well to call his wife as Lucia Ceprano. Well as he knew
her, however, he was far too shy, and far too humble to hint at such
an idea, for Lucia was an heiress—a great heiress for those parts,
and he—how could he have the face to ask her to marry a poor man like
himself, when she might have the choice of all the young men for miles
round? Still, though he drove the thought away as often as it rose, it
only returned again, and each time, somehow, it looked more fascinating
than before. If only he were better off, if only he could get away from
Palene to some more civilised place and ask Lucia to go with him, he
felt as if he could do anything, even give up his sporting tastes, and
settle down steadily. But it was of no use thinking of such a thing;
for even if all the other difficulties were disposed of, what right
had he to suppose that she cared a straw about him, except as a good
customer for her garden produce? No, the idea must be put away; and to
assist him in getting rid of it, Don Ernano went out for two or three
days’ shooting, and when he came back he was poorer, and his home
looked more desolate than ever, and the first thought which entered his
mind, as he crossed the threshold, was, “How different it would be if
Lucia were here to see after things!”

Altogether, therefore, the poor Don’s expeditions were not very
successful, and on this particular morning he was feeling a little
dejected in spite of his cheerful looks. But the mule stopped at the
shop, and as Lucia sprang lightly down, he went forward with a smiling
greeting to help her unfasten the heavy baskets.

“Are you quite well, Don Ernano?” asked Lucia, looking up at him with
her deep brown eyes. Then, as the giant blushed and turned away to hide
his confusion, she added, quickly, for she pitied him for his shyness,
“Here are the onions you wanted; beautiful large ones, aren’t they? but
can you use so many?”

Don Ernano had apparently not quite recovered his composure, for he
pulled his ear for a moment or two without speaking, and then said
slowly, “I could use them all, certainly, but—well—the fact is,
signorina, I haven’t much ready money just now.”

“Ah! I know,”said Lucia, calmly; “Don Ernano has been out shooting
again.”

“The signorina knows?”said Don Ernano, looking at the beautiful girl in
amazement.

“Yes, I know, and I have been thinking why it is that you don’t get
rich,” pursued Lucia, without a trace of coquetry in her manner. “You
are clever and handy, you don’t gamble and you don’t drink; why, you
might be the foremost man in the town, and yet you don’t get a step
farther. I have come to the conclusion that it is the shooting which is
at the bottom of it.”

Don Ernano gazed more and more earnestly at the girl as she spoke, and
the sympathy which he read in her face went to his very heart. But he
only pulled his ear again, and said rather sheepishly, “The signorina
may be right, but it is the only pleasure I have in the world. What am
I to do? It is so dreary at home, and sometimes I get bored almost to
death.”

“Ah! you ought to marry, Don Ernano,”said Lucia, simply, still busying
herself with the onions. “If you had a wife you would have a real home
and some one to work for.”

“Yes,”returned the light-haired giant, “marry! it is easy to say, but
who would have me, a penniless foreigner? I have thought about it now
and then; but it is a hard matter for a man like me to get a good wife.”

“I should not think that,”said Lucia, reflectively, looking at him
again as she spoke, for they were old acquaintances these two, and on
intimate terms—“I should not think that. You see I have known you ever
since I was a little girl, and I know you are good and clever. I dare
say, the truth is you like your liberty.”

“Maybe,”returned Don Ernano; and then with sudden gravity he added,
“but maybe also the right one has not yet come my way.”

“Ah! then you are fastidious; I understand. Now, Don Ernano, what sort
of wife do you want, I wonder? I am quite curious to know.”

“What sort?” repeated the Don, again pulling at his ear, and then
adding, in a low tone, “Well, one like yourself, signorina.”

“Me! you are joking!”returned Lucia, with an attempt at a laugh; “why,
I am only a small farmer’s daughter.”

“My father was less than a small farmer. He was an iron-worker, and
emigrated first to Austria and then to Italy; so you see you are above
me, even if I were not as poor as a rat. And as you are so far above
me, there is no harm in my saying that a wife like you is just what
would suit me, eh?”

“Don Ernano, can you make any use of the onions?” interrupted Lucia, in
a frightened tone, without venturing to raise her eyes from the ground.

“Certainly, signorina, if you don’t mind leaving them and letting me
settle with you at the end of the month.”

“I’ll trust you,”replied Lucia, hurriedly emptying the baskets; and
with a hasty “good-bye,” she reseated herself on the mule and trotted
off again to Palenella, leaving Don Ernano half afraid that he had
managed to offend her.


III.

As soon as Lucia was well out of the little town, she seemed suddenly
to discover that she had plenty of time to spare, for she let the
mule walk on as slowly as he pleased, while she herself gazed at the
golden hedge of broom which bordered the road, as if she were intent on
counting its million blossoms.

Travelling at this pace, it was noon before she reached the village;
but instead of receiving her with reproaches for her long absence, as
would usually have been the case, her mother spoke so pleasantly, that
in spite of her absence of mind, Lucia could not help being struck by
it.

She knew how obstinately bent her mother was on getting her married,
and she began to feel suspicious and alarmed. “Pietro was here a long
time yesterday,” she suddenly thought to herself; “there is something
in the wind, no doubt.” And when evening came, without saying a word to
any one, Lucia dragged her bed from its place beside her mother’s in
the large kitchen, and put it in a little store-room, with a heavy iron
door and a grated window.

“Is it possible she can have overheard what we were saying?” thought
the old woman, as she watched her daughter’s proceedings in silent
dread. But no, that was out of the question, Lucia had spent nearly
the whole time of Pietro’s visit in the church, for she herself had
met her there later. “It is only another of her whims,” she went on,
trying to comfort herself, “and it will be easy to spoil the lock of
the door some night before she goes to bed. Pietro Antonio shall not
be thwarted, if I can help it.” And having thus made up her mind, she
too went to bed; but she was still much perturbed about Lucia’s odd
behavior, and she began to fear that the girl would suddenly take
herself off to Rome and so escape out of her clutches. The more she
thought of it, the more eager she grew to bring about the marriage with
Pietro without any further loss of time. “To-morrow she will be hard at
work all day,” mused the old woman; “she will be tired out and sleep
soundly. I don’t know that there is likely to be a better opportunity.”

All through the night Lucia’s mother lay wide awake, tossing to and fro
and revolving her cruel plans in her mind. Early in the morning she
sent the previously agreed message to Pietro Antonio, and when evening
came she put a stone in the lock of the door, and thought she had made
all safe.

Lucia went to her room that night tired out with her day’s work, as her
mother had expected; but she was not too tired to notice that there was
something amiss with the door. She tried it over and over again, but it
was all in vain, the lock would not act, and she gave it up in despair.

She guessed at once what it meant, and for a moment she stood still,
trembling and almost gasping for breath; but in another moment she had
recovered herself, and made up her mind what to do.

She put out the lamp and laid down on the bed just as she was, without
undressing; but after lying there quite still for about an hour
she rose again, slipped quietly out to the stable, fetched a great
wood-cutter’s axe, and hurried noiselessly back to her chamber.

Once more she lay down, keeping her eyes wide open, listening with all
her might, and hardly daring to breathe.

Presently she heard the sound of whispering, then there was a light
step in the yard, and in the house.

One bright ray of moonlight shone through the grated window and made a
pattern of black and white bars on one patch of the stone floor, but
otherwise the room was quite dark, and Lucia now got up and stationed
herself in the darkest corner of the room. But all remained quite quiet
for nearly another hour, every moment of which seemed a century to the
poor girl.

At the end of this time, a faint light appeared through the crack of
the door, which was gently pushed open, and then appeared her mother
holding a lamp and followed by Pietro Antonio, who had a large pair of
vine-shears in his hand.

As they entered, Lucia suddenly advanced from her corner with the axe
uplifted. “Come here, you coward, if you dare,” she cried to the young
man, who stood there speechless, motionless, and as white as death from
surprise and fright.

He looked at the pale-faced girl, looked at the uplifted axe and her
strong arms, and slowly moved away without uttering a word, followed by
the old woman, who was shaking all over to such a degree that she could
hardly stand, while her teeth chattered loud enough to be heard.

They were gone! and all was still again; but Lucia spent the rest of
the night sitting on the bed-side, with her beautiful head resting
against the hard cold stone wall, without venturing to close her
eyes. In the morning she neither spoke to her mother nor prepared the
breakfast as was her custom, and kept her mouth more tightly closed
than ever.

When she had washed and dressed, and plaited her hair more carefully
than usual, she brought out the mule, saddled and bridled him; but to
her mother’s immense astonishment, instead of proceeding to load him
with vegetables, she just mounted and rode away in the direction of
Palene.

The mule trotted along merrily and quickly, but as it was still very
early, Lucia stopped him after a while and allowed him to graze, while
she got down and lay on the grass, resting her weary head on her hand
and gazing into the distance with her large brown eyes. Little by
little her pale face brightened, and began to lose the hard look it had
worn since the previous night. She even began to smile a little and
looked almost happy. At last some pleasant thought seemed to strike
her, for she actually laughed and blushed, and then getting up and
calling her mule, she went on her way.

In little more than half an hour she was again standing before Don
Ernano’s shop in the market-place.

“Ah, signorina, you are early indeed to-day,” he began; then glancing
at the unloaded mule, he went on, “you want the onions back, no doubt?
I was afraid Mother Ceprano——”

“I did not come about that,”replied Lucia abruptly, with an odd shy
smile. “I came to-day to ask your services as hair-dresser; you cut and
dress hair, I know. Will you be so good as to cut off my hair?”

“What, signorina!”cried the horrified barber, “cut off your beautiful
hair! No, you don’t mean it, I couldn’t have the heart!”

“Are you a barber, Don Ernano?” asked Lucia with the gravity and
firmness peculiar to her.

“Yes, it is on the sign-board, and I cut anybody’s hair when I am
asked, but—but—do you want to sell your beautiful plait?” he asked,
with quite a sad expression in his kind eyes.

“No, I don’t want to sell it, but I want it cut off, and I have come to
ask you to do it for me,” answered Lucia firmly and decidedly.

“Must I really?” said Don Ernano, feeling a little cast down by the
girl’s energetic tone and manner.

“Yes—you must—if you will,” was her rather odd answer, and therewith
she hurried into the shop.

“If you knew how it grieved me!” began the barber again. “Is it a vow,
signorina?”

“Something of the sort, but it is more than that to me,”was the short
answer.

“Then you have quite made up your mind?” he ventured to ask once more.

“Will you do it or will you not, Don Ernano?” asked Lucia as if she
were much offended and would leave the shop.

“Well—if it really must be done—please to sit down, signorina,” said
the barber, moving reluctantly to the cupboard in which he kept his
implements.

Just at this moment two men came into the shop, and said with a sly
glance at his fair customer, “You’re engaged, Don Ernano?”

“At your service in a moment, gentlemen,” he answered; then bending
over Lucia and taking her great plait, which was almost as thick as her
arm, in his hand, he said in a low tone, “You will have just a little
bit left?”

“No, cut it off close,”answered Lucia in a whisper.

Don Ernano gently put her head in the right position; and Lucia,
looking calmly and cheerfully into the little glass before her,
could see with what a dismal countenance the light-haired giant went
about his task, which was no such easy one, and took some minutes to
accomplish. It was done at last, however, and the barber held the
severed plait in his hands, his face wearing a very troubled expression.

“Good morning, gentlemen,” said Lucia, rising and bowing to the two
men; “good morning, Don Ernano!” and before he had recovered from his
astonishment, Lucia was out of the shop and trotting away on her mule,
leaving him to look after her and shake his head in perplexity, while
he still held the beautifully plaited tail of hair in his hands.

“A very pretty customer, signor!” said his visitors, who had not heard
all that had passed.

“A lovely girl,” answered Don Ernano thoughtfully, “but strange, very
strange, I can’t make her out.”

“Have you bought the plait?”they asked.

The barber shook his head gravely.

“What then?” they asked with curiosity.

“I don’t know,” was the short answer, as the barber made hurried
preparations for shaving his customers.

He was anything but nervous in a general way, but to-day his hand
trembled so much that he would certainly have performed his duties very
clumsily if he had not made a great effort to recover his self-command.

“What does it mean?” he muttered, when he found himself once more
alone. “What am I to do with it? I wonder whether it is a vow; I know
the women about here do make strange vows sometimes; but she is so
clever and sensible and not at all superstitious.”

Don Ernano thought over the affair for some time, but as he could
not arrive at any conclusion, he locked the plait of hair up in his
cupboard, and spent the next few hours in a rather uncomfortable state
of mind, feeling that he was involved against his will in a matter
which he did not understand.


IV.

Lucia reached Palenella again about midday, and rode into the village
holding in her hand the kerchief she usually wore on her head, a
circumstance which of itself would have been enough to attract
attention, since uncovered heads were rarely seen in the village. But,
as the absence of the kerchief revealed the fact that her heavy plait
had disappeared leaving only a short, stubbly stump to show where once
it had been, it was not many minutes before the whole village was
exclaiming, “Lucia’s hair has been cut off!”

The news had spread like wild fire even before Lucia reached her own
door, and was speedily confirmed, if confirmation were needed, by the
fearful outburst of weeping and wailing with which Mother Ceprano
received her disfigured daughter.

The old woman wrung her hands, tore her hair, uttered maledictions,
screamed and howled so wildly that she was heard even in the
farthermost houses, and the whole population speedily collected round
the house.

Lucia had not yet dismounted, and there she now sat on the mule,
looking perfectly calm and collected, while the children danced round
her mocking and jeering, and the men and women whispered and gazed in
astonishment.

It must be confessed that the villagers’ first feeling was one of
hearty satisfaction in the proud Lucia’s humiliation. But they quite
expected to see some young man appear waving the plait in triumph, and
when they found this did not happen, their gratification gave way to
wrath and indignation against the unknown person who had done the deed.
The pride of the whole community was hurt, and wild voices were heard
shouting, “Whoever it was he shall not go unpunished! A girl of our
village—he has insulted us all, every one—he shall make it good or pay
for it with his life!”

The men doubled their fists and raised their arms, uttering savage
threats and imprecations, as they pressed round Lucia who sat like
a statue, watching the growing excitement and tumult with intense
interest.

“Who was it? who did it?” they shouted to her from all sides. “Do you
know him? Who has dared to insult you and all of us? You _must_ say who
it is!” were the cries uttered in various tones by a hundred angry men
and women.

“He must marry you, he must, or he shall die! Who was it? who?”

“A man in Palene,”answered Lucia in a clear voice.

“Palene? he shall die if he won’t do his duty. But what is his name?”

“Don Ernano!”

“What, he? a foreigner! the light-haired man! the sportsman!” cried
several voices.

“It’s all the same,” screamed others, “it’s just the same. It would
make no difference if he were a townsman—he shall die if he won’t do
you justice and restore you to honor; yes, he shall die by our hands,”
cried all, old and young, with angry, flashing eyes.

“He must give the village satisfaction at once,” cried one who had
taken the lead; “I will go to him now. Take your knives, my men, and
say who’ll go with me?”

“I! I!”cried at least twenty voices and a number of men separated from
the rest and started off at a rapid pace along the road to Palene.

Lucia now dismounted, led the mule into his stable and retreated to her
dismal little room out of her mother’s way. Here she sat down quite
exhausted on the only chair it contained, and drew a deep breath.

“Now no one can kill him for marrying me, for they will make him,” she
said softly to herself, “and he won’t refuse. He likes me, I’m sure of
that now, and Pietro Antonio won’t dare to touch him, for he would have
the whole village against him.”

It was about an hour after all this commotion that the first of the
Palenella peasants entered Don Ernano’s wineshop and called for a
tumbler of wine. In a few seconds more another came in, and then a
third, and before the barber knew where he was, his room was filled
with peasants, all of whom carried knives in their gay-colored sashes,
and looked very menacing.

Don Lugeno, though peaceably disposed, was a brave man enough, but he
could not help feeling somewhat aghast on the present occasion, for
there was evidently something strange about his visitors.

“Don Ernano,” began the spokesman, “you have cut off the plait of one
of our girls—eh? is it so?”

“Yes!”returned the barber with some embarrassment, but without the
slightest suspicion of what was meant, or what the question boded.

“Have you the plait?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Then please to show it to us.”

The barber went and fetched it from the cupboard and held it up,
saying, “Here it is.”

“You know the girl?”they inquired further.

“Yes, it is Lucia Ceprano; I have known her a long time.”

“Good! Will you marry her?”inquired the leader suddenly stepping up to
the barber.

“_Marry_—Lucia Ceprano?” exclaimed Don Ernano quite taken a-back.

“Will you?” and a dozen large knives flashed into the air, while in an
instant the men had closed the entrance into the shop, surrounded the
terrified owner and driven him into a corner.

“Yes or no?” said they in suppressed tones.

Lugeno looked from one to the other and tried to collect himself. He
saw plainly enough that it was no laughing matter, for the men were
looking at him with an expression of deadly hatred in their eyes, and
they looked so sullen and determined that he felt he had never before
been so immediately face to face with death. He could hardly breathe,
but he struggled to say, “Only tell me——”

“Still, man,”whispered the ringleader; “no shirking, and no unnecessary
words. Answer me; will you marry Lucia Ceprano of Palenella, whose
plait you have cut off, or not? Say you will, now, this instant,
without any humbug, or in two minutes you are a dead man, as sure as we
all stand here!”

A gleam of joy and relief came into Don Ernano’s eyes; he breathed more
freely, and wiping his forehead, said with a smile, “Why, of course I
will, my men, with all my heart, if she will have me.”

“She must!”was the rejoinder, spoken in tones of as much determination
as before. “Then you swear, here before us, to marry Lucia, as soon as
possible, at all events within the month, and you will be married in
our church, by our priest?”

“I swear it,”said the barber with great alacrity.

“That’s well; and you have acted wisely, master, let me tell you, for
you would not have left your shop alive otherwise!”

Thereupon the men put up their knives, ordered some wine, each
separately drank to the health of the still bewildered Don Ernano, bade
him a polite farewell, and returned to the village. The evening was not
far advanced when they reached Palenella, and going straight to Mother
Ceprano’s house, they found her still lamenting and vituperating the
rascal who had done the evil deed, while Lucia was sitting contentedly
at the table eating her supper with a good appetite.

“We have good news for you, Lucia,” cried a dozen voices; “he’ll marry
you. He has solemnly sworn to marry you within the month. You may be
quite easy about it, for he will do all that is right by you, and he
will give us satisfaction. He is a clever man, much respected, and as
good as anyone in the village.”

“Thank you, my friends, I am quite satisfied. You have done me a good
turn and I’ll never forget it,”said Lucia, looking positively radiant
with happiness.

That night the village was a long time in settling down to its usual
state of quietness; for the men felt they had achieved a grand victory
and could do no less than celebrate it, little guessing, of course,
that they had been outwitted by a girl, and that so far from being the
victors they had actually been defeated, and had had their own weapons
turned against them.

Meanwhile, in spite of her happiness, Lucia was feeling a little
uneasy as to the way in which Don Lugeno might view her conduct, and
very early in the morning she was in the shop again. So early was she,
indeed, that he did not hear her enter, as he was busy with his coffee
in the kitchen.

“Don Ernano,” began Lucia in a humble, tremulous tone, “can you forgive
me?”

The barber turned round like a flash of lightning.

“Lucia! Lucia!” he exclaimed joyously; “but, my dear girl, do for
mercy’s sake tell me what it all means. Is it true? Am I really to
marry you?”

“Do you mind very much, signore? I thought—I fancied—”said poor Lucia,
trembling, and panting for breath.

“Mind! Ah, signorina, it is not that; I am only too happy to think I am
to have such a dear, good, beautiful wife,” said Lugeno consolingly,
and his manner was so hearty as to leave no room for doubt as to his
sincerity. “My dearest girl, don’t cry; this happiness has come upon me
like a—like a thunder-bolt. You’re the very wife I should have chosen
above all others; but I don’t understand what has happened, or how it
has all come about. Why, I have been forced to accept happiness such
as I dared not even dream of at the point of twenty knives! How is it,
dear signorina? And why did you make me cut off your plait?”

Don Ernano spoke so kindly and pleasantly that Lucia had soon dried her
tears, and now looking up at him with a beaming face, she said, “I
will tell you all about it, Don Ernano. You see I was obliged to do as
I did, or you could not have married me without incurring the vengeance
of that wicked Pietro who is very angry at my refusing him. Now you are
under the protection of the whole village, and he will take good care
not to come in your way.”

Then Lucia went on to tell her lover all the ins and outs of the
affair, and how, after Pietro’s attempt two nights ago, she had made up
her mind to get him to cut off her hair rather than let anyone else do
so.

“And now will you forgive me?” she asked in a gentle, shame faced tone.

“Forgive? I’ll thank you with all my heart, you dear, brave, clever
girl. I declare you are wiser and cleverer than the wisest lawyer,” and
drawing the tall, handsome village maiden to him, he gave her a long
kiss, which was cordially returned.

“What a pity about your beautiful hair! I wish it were grown again,”
said he, tenderly stroking his bride’s close-cropped head.

“Well, you are a hair-dresser, so you must see what you can do,” said
Lucia; “but I have made a good exchange. Where is the girl who would
not sacrifice the finest head of hair for a good husband, especially,”
she added shyly, “when the lover himself cut it off?”

While Lucia and Don Ernano were thus pleasantly engaged, there had been
a great disturbance at Palenella. Pietro Antonio, having just heard all
that had happened, had hurried to the village in a furious passion.
First he poured out his wrath on the peasants for their stupidity, and
then tried to set them against the barber, whom he had always hated,
and now of course detested more than ever. He told the peasants that he
was a crafty rascal, that he and the girl understood one another, and
had acted in concert, and that he only wanted her money.

But he soon found that this would not do. The villagers had no mind to
be robbed of their triumph, and were quite certain they understood the
matter better than he did, and they used such forcible arguments to
convince Pietro of the justice of their views, that he retired to his
bed for a fortnight, and after that, not only gave Palenella a very
wide berth, but soon left the district and went to Naples.

Mother Ceprano behaved in a most amiable and polite manner to her
future son-in-law, who, by Lucia’s advice, determined to let the little
property at Palenella and allow his mother-in-law the rent of it for
her life. Also he made up his mind to sell his business in Palene and
have a nice barber’s shop and small _café_ in Rome, where he and Lucia
would do their utmost to please their customers.

Three weeks later the marriage was celebrated with much firing of guns
and rockets in the presence not only of the whole village, but of most
of the inhabitants of the town of Palene, and there was every reason to
hope that it would prove a happy one, in spite of the strange way in
which bride and bridegroom had been brought together.—_Belgravia._



THE BANK OF ENGLAND.

BY HENRY MAY.

The simple definition of banking is money-dealing. A banker properly
so called is but a tradesman engaged in buying and selling money,
that symbol of wealth which in all civilised countries facilitates or
renders possible the exchange of commodities, which are wealth itself.
A banker produces nothing, nor does he, except in a most indirect
manner, add anything to the wealth of the country. His business is
the collection and distribution of that general representative of
merchandise, money, much in the same way as an ordinary shopkeeper
collects and distributes the special articles of his individual
trade. Joint-stock banks, then, are but co-operative distributing
associations formed for the purpose of fighting against some real or
fancied oppression, and of competing, to the supposed advantage of
the public, with private enterprise. They are formed for the purpose
of competing with private bankers whose business they appear to be
gradually absorbing, possibly by a sort of process of the survival of
the fittest. In this way the origin, in 1694, of the Bank of England,
the parent joint-stock bank of the kingdom, and the largest and most
important money-dealing institution in the world, may be traced to the
combination of the Government, merchants, traders, and the general
public to oppose the exactions, usury, and financial tyranny of the
goldsmiths and stock-jobbers of the period. A very limited acquaintance
with pamphlets published at the time of the Great Revolution will
show that the Bank of England was the natural outcome of necessity,
a necessity which guaranteed its success if honestly and prudently
managed. Through its means the foundation of a safe paper currency was
secured, the national credit maintained, and the system of usury and
extortion prevalent throughout the country undermined—at the expense,
it is true, of many so-called bankers, stock-jobbers, and goldsmiths,
but to the great gain of the nation, its commerce, and the general
public. Of the originator of the Bank of England—Mr. W. Paterson,
who remained a director only for a year or two—we know really very
little, except that he was equally the founder of the ill-fated Darien
Expedition of 1698, that he was an able, honorable, and enthusiastic
man, and that he died in Scotland, where, “pitied, respected, but
neglected,” he lived for many years.

The original capital of the Bank was £1,200,000, which was subscribed
in a few days. The whole of this amount was, as a condition of
the charter, lent to the Government at eight per cent., the Bank
being allowed an additional £4,000 a year for the management of
the Government accounts. The necessary capital for carrying on the
banking business appears to have been obtained from the public by the
issue of bank bills, termed by some flippant writers of the period
“Speed’s notes,” from the name of the first chief cashier. These
bills were evidently a sort of “deposit receipt,” bearing interest at
the rate of twopence per cent. per diem, or at the rate of three per
cent. per annum, and they appear to have given sore offence to the
goldsmiths. The Bank of England commenced business in the Mercers’
Hall, Cheapside, where the first “General Court of Proprietors” was
held. But after a few months, this situation being found inconvenient,
an agreement was made with the Grocers’ Company (which appears to have
been in difficulties) for the use of their hall in Princes Street. The
original working staff of the Bank consisted of fifty-four clerks,
whose united salaries amounted to the modest sum of £4,340 a year,
averaging a little more than £80 a year each. The chief cashier (Mr.
T. Speed), the chief accountant, and the secretary received £250 a
year each, and one clerk is scheduled in the pay-sheet as working
“gratis.” Addison, in No. 3 of the _Spectator_, gives us the following
pleasant little glimpse of the Bank at work in 1710: “In one of my late
rambles, or rather speculations, I looked into the great hall where
the Bank is kept, and was not a little pleased to see the directors,
secretaries, and clerks, with all the other members of that wealthy
corporation, ranged in their several stations, according to the parts
they act in that just and regular economy.” From which it would seem
that the Bank dignitaries of old had a firm belief in the virtues of
the “master’s eye,” scorned bank parlors and private rooms, and were
content to work with their servants _coram populo_—a good, homely,
old-fashioned practice, no doubt, but one scarcely adapted to modern
banking requirements. Bank of England directors in those days, however,
had a good deal more to do with mere clerical duties than they have at
present. They by no means shirked the most practical responsibilities
of office, for we find that at that period, and for many years
afterwards, even the warrants for the payments of dividends were signed
by two of their body.

It was not until after the Bank had existed some forty years that the
directors found the business so completely outgrow the accommodation
afforded by the Grocers’ Hall as to necessitate a separate building
of its own. The foundation of the present building was laid in 1732
on the site of the residence of Sir John Houblon, the first governor
of the Bank, and business was commenced in the new premises in 1734.
The edifice was greatly enlarged between the years 1770 and 1786,
and was completed, pretty much as it now stands, in 1786, an Act
having been procured in 1780 to enable the directors to purchase the
adjoining church, land, and parsonage—in fact the whole parish—of St.
Christopher le Stocks, to the rector of which non-existent parish the
Bank pay £400 a year to this day. The drawing office now stands on the
site of the old church, the garden being the churchyard. In 1800, when
Princes Street was widened, the present wall-screen round the Bank was
erected by Sir John Soane giving a uniform appearance to the exterior
of the building. There is much in the architectural interior of the
Bank which is well worthy of admiration; for instance the quadrangle
called the bullion-yard, in Lothbury, the garden, rotunda, and court
rooms, &c. The long prison-like stone-colored passages and offices
devoted to public business, however, are singularly cold and cheerless,
owing chiefly to some apparent, yet unaccountable, objection of the
authorities to employ color as a decorative auxiliary; possibly from a
fixed but mistaken idea that color is antagonistic to cleanliness and
brightness to business.

Although the necessities of the State contributed to the establishment
of the Bank of England, they were, at intervals of every few years,
compelled, after making a feeble resistance, to purchase the
continuance of their privileges on exceedingly onerous terms. The
history of the seven renewals of the charter between 1694 and 1800, and
of the accordance of permission to increase the capital of the Bank, is
one continuous record of State exactions. The Bank, as a condition of
State patronage, were on each successive occasion forced to increase
their loans to the Government at low rates of interest or without any
interest whatever, three millions sterling being lent for six years
without interest in 1800. Interest on previous loans was reduced,
exchequer bills were cancelled, and on one occasion a free gift of
£110,000 was made to the State. As a consequence the Government debt
to the Bank increased at a rapid rate, till it amounted at last to
upwards of fourteen and a half millions sterling, or rather more than
the whole capital of the Corporation. In 1833 the Government paid off
one-fourth of this debt in reduced annuities, and thereby reduced it
to £11,015,100, at which amount it now stands. While Ministry after
Ministry thus accurately tested the pliability of the “Governor and
Company,” and relentlessly preyed on their fears as to the continuance
of their monopoly, it is pleasant to read of the intense feeling of
loyalty which actuated the directors in all their dealings with the
State. When, after the Rebellion of 1715, the Government proposed to
reduce the interest on the National Debt from six to five per cent.,
the Bank testified to their desire to assist the measure by at once
agreeing to accept the lower rate, and to provide money to pay off
those creditors who declined to submit to the reduction. Again, when
a further reduction in the interest on part of the National Debt was
proposed in 1750, the Bank at once assented, and arranged to find a
sum of money to pay off the dissentients. The passive attitude lately
assumed by the Bank directors towards the conversion scheme of the
present Chancellor of the Exchequer contrasts somewhat unfavorably
with the loyal attachment of the Bank to the State in olden times.
The transactions of the Bank of England with Government for a period
of one hundred and twenty years ending with 1816 are but a series of
loans and advances by the Bank in anticipation of the revenue, or of
payments of treasury bills drawn by the Government agents abroad. These
large advances and payments were entirely independent of the permanent
loan made to the Government by the Bank, and were supposed to be but
temporary assistance rendered to the State in times of sore need, to
be repaid periodically as the revenue was collected. But repayment
was not made. Again and again did the Governor and Company represent
to the Ministers that they were unable to continue to increase the
floating debt without endangering the safety of the Bank. Coaxed and
bullied in turn (especially by Pitt), they allowed their loyalty to
outrun their prudence, and yielded more or less gracefully time
after time, till at last in 1797 they were compelled to suspend cash
payments, entirely through their exertions to aid the Government.
Undoubtedly the exclusive privileges which the Bank in the infancy of
banking enjoyed were in some sense a _quid pro quo_ for their services
to the State, and the fear of losing their charter may have been a
strong incentive to loyalty. The subsequent gradual enfranchisement
of banking by the various enactments between 1826 and 1858 and the
enormous progress which banking has since made throughout the country,
have, however, considerably lessened the value of these privileges, and
from a mere proprietor’s point of view it is quite possible that the
Bank of England might profitably forego their charter altogether, now
that they are in no fear of losing it, and, so far as pure banking is
concerned, they no longer enjoy a monopoly. These considerations may
have tempered the loyalty of the directors, and may account for the
very independent fashion in which they nowadays approach the Government
for the transaction of business upon which, in the olden time, they
were accustomed to enter with fear and trembling.

The establishment of branches by the Bank of England in 1826 was
a direct consequence of the great panic of 1825, caused, as the
Government alleged, by reckless speculation encouraged and fostered
by private banks, and by the overissue of country bank notes. In
a correspondence with the Bank, the Government expressed their
determination to “improve the circulation of the country paper,” and,
after paying the Bank the complement of saying, “We believe that much
of the prosperity of the country is to be attributed to the general
wisdom, justice, and fairness of the dealings of the Bank,” suggested
that the Bank of England should establish branches of their own in
different parts of the country, and should, moreover, yield part of
their exclusive privilege of joint-stock banking by permitting the
formation of banks with more than six partners, except in or within
sixty-five miles of the metropolis. After a vain attempt to obtain
some compensation for the concession of their monopoly for joint-stock
banking the Bank yielded on both points, and an Act was passed
authorising the establishment of Bank of England branches and the
formation of country joint-stock banks. The circulation of one and two
pound notes was also prohibited by this Act.

The Bank charter was again renewed in 1833, when Bank of England
notes were first made a legal tender, and the usury laws repealed so
far as they affected three months’ bills. The most important clause
in this charter, however, was that which legalised the establishment
of joint-stock banks in and within sixty-five miles of London. This
led to the establishment of the London and Westminster Bank in 1834,
the first of those numerous metropolitan joint-stock banks which
now so extensively and beneficially administer to the commercial
wants of the country. Up to about this time it had been universally
considered that the Bank of England enjoyed the exclusive privilege of
joint-stock banking within the above radius, but now the astonishing
discovery was made that this was not so, and in fact never had been
so; and this discovery was confirmed by the law officers of the Crown.
The directors protested, but resistance was useless. The Bank lost
its supposed privilege, though it is very questionable whether the
Government behaved quite straightforwardly in the matter. This Act,
together with one or two subsequent banking Acts, thus completely
enfranchised banking, and abolished a monopoly which was, after all,
obstructive both to financial and commercial progress. The abolishment
of any monopoly is invariably but a question of education and time,
and, in accordance with the doctrine of experience, it does not appear
that the Bank have really lost anything by the competition engendered
by the enfranchisement of joint-stock banking, while commerce and the
community have undoubtedly gained enormously.

We come now to Sir Robert Peel’s famous Bank Charter Act of 1844,
entitled “An Act to regulate the issue of Bank Notes, and for giving
to the Governor and Company of the Bank of England certain privileges
for a limited period.” It confirms the curtailed privileges of the
Bank for eleven years, subject afterwards to redemption on twelve
months’ notice being given and the repayment of the debt due by the
Government to the Bank. A clause in the subsequent National Debt Act
of 1870, however, provides that the Bank of England shall continue
to be a corporation until all the public Funds shall be redeemed by
Parliament, thus practically granting it a lease in perpetuity. The Act
of 1844—to some of the special provisions of which I shall presently
refer—practically regulates the whole banking system of the country,
and at the present time governs the Bank of England in the conduct of
their business. In accordance with its provisions, the issue of Bank of
England notes was first kept distinct from the banking business proper
by the creation of the “Issue Department” and the “Banking Department,”
with which probably most of my readers are perfectly familiar, at
least by name. Besides these Issue and Banking Departments, there is
in the Bank a third most important department, devoted to what is
generally, though somewhat inaccurately, termed “the management of the
National Debt.” In their capacity of bankers to the State the governor
and company of the Bank of England have always acted as the financial
agents of the Government for distributing, and paying the dividends on,
the funded debt, as well as for the performance of other book-keeping
duties in connection therewith. Of late years the Bank have undertaken
similar duties for the Indian and several Colonial Governments, for
the Metropolitan Board of Works, and for various corporations and
municipalities. The considerable portion of the Bank premises devoted
to this agency business is now generally spoken of by financial and
banking writers as “The Department for the Management of the National
Debt”—an imposing title doubtless, which says a good deal more than
it means, and one, for aught I know, adopted nowadays by the Bank
themselves; but, possibly influenced by the recollections of days long
gone by, I confess my partiality for the old familiar title of “Stock
Offices.”

In the conduct of their business, then, the Bank of England perform
three distinct and important functions—that of financial agents,
that of issuers of notes under the control of the State, and that
of Government and general bankers. The duties involved in these
functions are discharged, severally, towards the State and the various
governments and corporations for whom they are agents; towards the
general public, from or to whom they buy or sell notes and gold; and
towards the Government and customers for whom they act as ordinary
bankers. I will consider briefly the system by which these three
functions are discharged. The offices comprised in the department for
the management of the National Debt are the various stock offices in
which are kept the stock ledgers and the transfer books, the Dividend
Office, the Cheque Office, the Unclaimed Dividend Office, the Power
of Attorney Office, and the Will or Register Office. The nature of
the business transacted in these different offices is sufficiently
indicated by their names, with the exception of the Cheque Office,
which, on the _lucus a non lucendo_ principle, is probably so called
because it has nothing whatever to do with “cheques,” but is devoted,
for the most part, to the purpose of checking the amounts and totals
of the dividend warrants paid by the “Dividend Pay Office,” an office
which belongs to the Banking Department. Some idea of the amount
of work done in the various Stock Offices may be gathered from the
circumstance that they employ the services of some 450 clerks. Nearly
2,000 books are in constant use in some ten or twelve rooms. The
dividend warrants on the funded debt alone number about half a million
a year, and are, when paid, sent to Somerset House for verification,
together with a duplicate copy of the dividend book. As a remuneration
for its services in connection with the National Debt, the Bank is paid
a commission of £300 per million on the first six hundred millions of
the amount and £150 per million on the remainder. Since the funded debt
is now altogether about £628,500,000, the Bank receives on this account
about £184,000 per annum, a remuneration which cannot be considered
excessive.

The extreme accuracy and dispatch with which the clerical labor
involved in the business of the Stock Offices is performed, is almost
marvellous, and reflects the highest credit on the administrative
machinery of the Bank. Every possible expedient is resorted to for
the purpose of facilitating the work and guarding against error, even
to the free employment of the Bank’s printing-office and the use of
the stereotype process in the preparation of the dividend books in
duplicate. It is worth mentioning that all the old stock ledgers,
transfer books, vouchers, and documents connected with the various
stocks which have been created since the establishment of the Bank are
carefully preserved and systematically arranged for ready reference in
the Stock Office Library under the charge of a librarian, whose duties,
however, though involving great responsibility, are more monotonous
than onerous.

The “Issue Department” of the Bank of England is the outcome of
the determination expressed by the Government in 1844 “to regulate
the issue of bank notes.” The experience of former years, more
particularly that of 1825, had fully demonstrated how undesirable, and
even dangerous, it was to leave the circulation of bank notes to the
uncontrolled discretion of country bankers, and though there can be no
reason to doubt that the Bank of England had hitherto used the power
which they possessed of expanding or contracting their circulation
at will with great judgment, and substantially to the benefit of the
mercantile community, it was thought desirable that the control of
the whole circulation in the country should be practically vested in
the State, and be governed by some sound financial principle. The
theoretical basis of the Act of 1844 is the principle that bank notes
should not be mere symbols of credit—simple I O U’s, as it were, which
are a confession of a want of cash—but of actual “ear-marked” gold;
of ready money, which alone regulates, or should regulate, the extent
of the commerce of the country. The soundness of this principle is
doubted by many financial authorities on the ground that it checks
the proper expansion of trade and in times of crisis has failed
in practice. I cannot, however, here discuss the large subject of
currency, but must accept the law as I find it, merely stating that
in my opinion it affords the only safe basis upon which any sound
currency can be regulated. To carry out this law effectually, then, it
was obviously necessary that the Government should create or select
some establishment from which bank notes might be issued, and in which
the gold that these notes represented should be set apart or stored.
As the State Bank, the Bank of England was naturally entrusted with
these functions. Hence the creation of the “Issue Department.” But in
order to afford some elasticity to the circulation, and to deal gently
with the “vested interests” of the Bank of England and country bankers
alike, the Act provides that no banks of issue shall be permitted
other than those in existence in May, 1844, and that an average of
the note circulation of these banks shall be taken, which shall in
future be the maximum circulation allowed to them. This maximum
was subsequently fixed at about eight and three-quarter millions.
Provisions are also made by which, on certain terms, issuing banks may
cede their privilege of issue to the Bank or forfeit them altogether
in case of bankruptcy or certain changes in the constitution of their
partnerships. The total amount of these “lapsed issues” since 1844 is
about two and three-quarter millions, leaving the present authorized
maximum circulation of the country banks at about six millions. No
stipulation is made that any proportion of this circulation shall
be based upon gold. This matter is left entirely to the judgment of
the bankers themselves, whose discretion, however, there seems no
reason to question, since from the weekly returns supplied to the
Government in conformity with the Act, it appears that not more than
one-half the notes of the maximum issue are in actual circulation.
With regard to the Bank of England, permission is accorded to the
Issue Department to issue notes to the amount of fourteen millions
upon securities—including the £11,015,100 due by the Government to
the Bank—to be set apart for the purpose of guarantee. The Bank is
furthermore permitted to increase the amount of notes issued on
securities to the extent of two-thirds of the lapsed issues of country
banks. The extra issue thus acquired is now £1,750,000, which brings up
the total amount of issue on securities to £15,750,000, inclusive of
the Government debt. Any further issue of notes must be represented by
an equal amount of bullion or gold coin transferred to the separate
vaults of the Issue Department, but one-fourth of the amount so
transferred may consist of silver bullion.

The Bank are required to furnish the Government with a weekly report
of the accounts of the Issue and Banking departments. This report,
which is popularly called “The Bank Return,” is published each
Thursday afternoon, and is copied in the morning newspapers of Friday,
together with the comments and deductions, more or less speculative
and intelligent, of the different City editors. The Bank Return, so
far as it regards the Issue department, is simplicity itself. Let the
reader put one of them before him. On the one side he will find the
total amount of notes issued, and on the other the bases of the issue,
divided into the “Government debt,” the “other securities” (which
together make up the total of £15,750,000, above mentioned), “gold coin
and bullion,” and “silver bullion,” if there be any, which is very
seldom the case. The simple term “bullion” signifies gold bullion, or
gold in bars, which the Bank are compelled to receive from any person
tendering it, in exchange for notes, at the rate of £3 17s. 9d. per
ounce of 22 parts out of 24 of pure gold.

It is evident that the amount of bank notes issued varies in exact
proportion to the amount of gold in the Issue Department, the issue
against the Government debt and other securities being invariable.
Roughly speaking, the contraction or expansion of the circulation
indicates a corresponding curtailment or increase in commercial
facilities or requirements. Hence the Issue Department return becomes
an important guide to the operations of bankers, brokers, and financial
firms, by whom it is carefully watched, since the increase or
diminution of the stock of gold may be said respectively to be a signal
of safety or danger. The receipts or withdrawals of gold in any large
quantity by or from the Bank are of two kinds, inland and foreign.
The former for the most part occur at certain regular periods of the
year, such as the harvest season, Scotch “term-time,” &c. They exercise
but a very modified and temporary influence on the money market, for
the laws by which they are governed are very fairly understood and
recognised, and the amount of gold _actually in the kingdom_ remains
unaltered. It is far different, however, with the demand or supply of
gold from foreign countries, the importance of which to the financial
world is so great that the amount of gold received or delivered by
the Bank on foreign account is by them made known day by day, and
is duly chronicled in the City articles of the morning papers. The
exports and imports of gold (which practically, regulate the note
issue) are governed by the state of the foreign exchanges, which are
probably a mystery to many of my readers, but which up to a certain
point may be readily understood. Approaching the subject as tenderly
and in as elementary a manner as possible, I will at once simplify
matters by saying that, with a few exceptions (such as regard India,
Russia, China, &c.), the foreign rates of exchange represent the
amount of money in its own currency (be it paper or gold) that the
specified financial centre of each country is willing to give for a
pound sterling on London. They vary almost daily, and are indications
either of indebtedness or of the abundance or scarcity of money, and
are described as favorable or unfavorable to this country according
to whether they are high or low. A rate of exchange is an indication
of indebtedness, according to the position of the balance of trade or
indebtedness between the country fixing it and England. When in any
given country this indebtedness is in favor of England, it is obvious
that in that country bills on London for the purpose of remittance will
be in demand, and will fetch more money; consequently the rate at which
they will be purchased rises. When the balance of trade is against
England, it is equally evident that bills on London are not so much
wanted, and the price of them—that is the rate of exchange—consequently
falls.

But I have said that a rate of exchange may be an indication of
abundance or scarcity of money in the country quoting it; and it is
often so in this manner. Let us suppose that there is no balance of
trade to settle between a given country and England, but that the
rate, of discount, or value of money, in the former is, say, three per
cent., while in England it is, say, four per cent. It follows that
_primâ facie_ it is more profitable to send surplus money to England
for employment than to keep it at home. In the absence of trade bills
a demand for drafts transferring money to London sets in, and the rate
of exchange rises. Let us now reverse this condition of things. Suppose
money to be dearer in a given country than in England; it is evident
in that case that capitalists here would find it more profitable to
employ their money in that country than at home, and that the foreign
rate of exchange would consequently fall. I have spoken hitherto of
remittances by bills or drafts only, but it is obvious that a scarcity
of these vehicles for the transfer of money may so drive up the rate
of exchange that it becomes more profitable to send gold. When this
point is reached the foreign rate of exchange is said to stand at “gold
point.” If I have made myself clearly understood, the reader will now
see how the rate of discount by attracting or repelling money affects
the movement of gold in the Bank of England, and why, when the Bank
desire to either simply protect their stock of gold or their “reserve,”
and so prevent any contraction of the note issue, or to attract gold
from abroad and so expand the circulation, or increase the “reserve,”
they raise the official rate of discount step by step until the desired
end is accomplished; or why, when the stock of gold is large and the
note issue may with safety be contracted, they facilitate the trade of
the country by lowering their minimum rate, at the risk of gold being
required for export. He will, too, gain some slight idea of how the
world’s stock of gold is moved about from country to country at the
call of commerce, and how true it is that the trade of any country is,
or ought to be, regulated solely by its supply of gold, or ready money.

The offices comprised in the Issue Department of the Bank are the Hall,
the Bullion Office, and the Gold-weighing Room. In the Hall, notes
and gold are exchanged by the public one for the other, and notes are
exchanged for other notes of a higher or lower denomination. In the
Bullion Office bar-gold is bought at the rate of £3 17s. 9d. per ounce,
or exchanged for sovereigns at the rate of £3 17s. 10½d. per ounce,
at which rate bullion is also sold. Nearly all the imports of gold and
silver to this country are taken to the Bank of England for delivery
to the consignees. The duties connected with these consignments are
undertaken by the Bullion Office, where small charges are made for
weighing, packing, and collecting freight, &c. In the Gold-weighing
Room gold coin is weighed automatically, at the rate of about 2,000
pieces an hour each, by about a dozen beautiful little machines worked
by an atmospheric engine. Bank notes are not re-issued after having
been once paid, and in the Bank Note Office registers are kept in
which are recorded the dates of issue and return to the Bank of each
respective note. The particulars of the payment of any note can be
ascertained by a reference to the Bank Note Library, where the paid and
cancelled notes are kept for seven years, after which they are burnt
on the Bank premises. For the privilege of issuing the £15,750,000
against securities, and for exemption from stamp duty, the Bank pay
an annual sum of about £200,000, together with any profit which they
may derive from the notes issued against gold to the Government. The
paper on which bank notes are printed is manufactured expressly for the
Bank of England at Laverstock in Hampshire, but the dies from which
the water-mark is made, as well as the plates from which the notes are
printed, are made at the Bank. The notes are all printed at the Bank’s
own printing-office under the care of the printing superintendent,
the quantity of notes required from time to time being regulated by
the chief cashier, who is responsible for their safe custody as soon
as, by a second process of printing, the numbers and dates have been
filled in for the purpose of issue. The average number of bank notes
paid and cancelled each day is more than 40,000, and no less than
80,000,000 cancelled notes may be found as a rule, stored and sorted
for reference, in the Bank Note Library. The Bank of England also
undertakes the printing of “rupee paper” for the Indian Government.

The “Banking Department” of the Bank of England is the separation of
the ordinary banking business from the business of financial agency
and issuing notes. In a speech on the renewal of the Bank charter
in 1844 Sir Robert Peel said, “With respect to the banking business
of the Bank, I propose that it should be governed on precisely the
same principles as would regulate any other body dealing with Bank
of England notes.” The Bank Act of 1844, then, does not touch the
management of the Banking Department in any way beyond requiring that
a weekly statement of its assets and liabilities shall be published.
This statement—which forms part of the “Bank Return”—may be thus
analysed. On the left hand side are the liabilities, divided into the
liability towards the proprietors of the Bank as shown by the amounts
of “Proprietors’ Capital” and “Rest” (which latter is practically an
addition to the capital); the liability to the Government, as shown by
the amount of “Public Deposits,” which are the balances of different
Government accounts; the liability to the customers as shown by the
amount of the “Other Deposits,” which are the sum of the balances of
the current or “drawing” accounts; and the liability to the holders
of the Bank’s acceptances as shown by the amount of “Seven-day and
other Bills” in circulation. On the other side of the statement are
the assets by which these liabilities are represented, divided into
“Government Securities,” which show the amount of the banking capital
invested in Government securities; the “Other Securities,” which show
the amount of other investments made by the Bank; and, separately, the
“notes” and “gold and silver coin,” which show the amount of cash in
hand for the current purposes of the Banking Department. This sum of
notes and gold and silver coin forms, so to speak, the cash assets of
the Bank, and the proportion which it bears to the current liabilities
disclosed by the public and other deposits and seven-day bills is
called the proportion of reserve to liabilities, and is always a matter
of great interest, and often of great anxiety, to the City on Thursdays.

The question of the proportion which these cash assets should bear
to liabilities is one of extreme importance to a prudent banker.
It is generally considered that it should be about one-third, but
a proportion of reserve to liabilities of only 33 per cent. in the
Bank Return would create considerable anxiety, while in an ordinary
joint-stock bank’s accounts it would, I fancy, be abnormally great,
far greater than that disclosed by the half-yearly accounts submitted
to the shareholders, which may naturally be supposed to represent the
financial position in the most favorable light. The publication of the
weekly Bank Return is so useful and important to commerce, banking,
and finance that it is to be regretted that the law which calls for it
is not extended to all joint-stock if not to private banks. We might
then hope to see an end put to that faulty system of banking which
in good times, in order to pay extraordinary dividends, encourages
over-trading by giving every possible facility to speculation, and,
when a reaction comes, suddenly cuts off all “accommodation,” calls in
all resources, and drives its customers to the Bank of England, in the
hope of obtaining that ready money which it is no longer willing itself
to supply. The Bank of England, through their Banking Department,
undertake duties merely towards their own customers and the Government.
Their banking business is conducted for the most part (in theory, at
all events) on the same lines as any other banking institution. It is
unreasonable, therefore, to suppose that it is any part of their duty,
in times of panic or crisis, to find ready money for a public shunted
over to them by its own bankers, who from an inordinate desire to pay
large dividends have placed themselves in a position of inability or
unwillingness to find it themselves. And yet some such theory as this
is advanced by many well-known writers on banking and finance. Bankers,
probably knowing the weak points in their system, become sadly selfish,
and are quick to take fright at the first signs of a panic, which they
often do much to increase. The suspension of the Bank Act is to them
the only true solution of the difficulties caused by over-trading,
over-speculation, and inflation of general business. At their earnest
entreaty—not at the solicitation of the Bank of England—has the Act
been thrice suspended: not, as subsequent events proved, because any
suspension of the Act was really necessary, but because bankers
hesitated to do their duty to their customers, except under the shelter
of its protecting wing. Nothing can be more erroneous, or, indeed,
more mischievous, than the doctrine that it is the duty of the Bank
of England to keep the “reserve” of the whole country, simply on the
ground that, for Clearing House purposes, it suits the convenience of
bankers to entrust them with large balances, and because they act as
agents for the Government in automatically regulating the note issue of
the kingdom.

The business of the Banking Department—which, except as regards the
magnitude of its transactions, and the current accounts of other
bankers and of the Government, differs but little from that of any
other London banks—is carried on chiefly in the Private Drawing
Office, the Public Drawing Office, the Discount Office, and the Bill
and Post Bill Offices. Besides these offices there are the Dividend
Pay Office, devoted to the cash payment of dividends, and the Chief
Cashier’s Office, where advances on securities and the various public
loans are initiated, and to which is attached the private room of the
chief cashier, which for the most part corresponds with the manager’s
room in any ordinary bank. In the Private Drawing Office are kept the
private accounts of the general customers of the Bank, a separate
counter being reserved for the exclusive convenience of bankers. It is
a popular error to suppose that the conditions of keeping an account
with the Bank of England differ in any essential particular from those
of most of the other banks. A satisfactory introduction will enable any
one to open an account, and no restriction is placed upon the amount
of balance to be kept, except that if it does not prove remunerative
to the Bank a charge is made in proportion to the amount of trouble
and expense involved. Roughly speaking, a remunerative balance in
ordinary cases is considered to be an average balance throughout the
year of one pound for each cheque drawn. Thus if a customer draws two
hundred cheques in a year and keeps an average balance of £200 his
account is probably considered remunerative. Cheques may be drawn on
the Bank of any amount however small, though there was, I believe,
many years ago, a sort of understanding that customers should not draw
cheques for an amount under five pounds. The Public Drawing Office, as
its name implies, is devoted to the custody of the drawing accounts
of the Government and various public companies and institutions. The
Discount Office is charged with the reception of all bills offered for
discount by parties who have opened discount accounts with the Bank.
These bills are submitted to a committee of directors (sitting daily
for the purpose) who decide upon the amount of accommodation to be
granted and the rate of discount to be charged. The net proceeds of
the bills discounted are then passed to the credit of the customer’s
account, while the bills themselves are entrusted to the care of
the Bill Office, which occupies itself with the duty of sorting and
arranging them (together with bills belonging to customers) so that
they may be duly presented for payment at maturity. In the Post Bill
Office the Bank issue to the public their acceptances at seven or sixty
days’ sight, technically called “Bank post bills,” for any required
amount, in even or uneven sums. The amount of business transacted in
this office has considerably diminished of late years, owing to similar
facilities being granted by bankers generally throughout the country.
The Bank of England have nine country branches, which keep separate
accounts for the Issue and Banking departments, and the particulars of
each day’s transactions, together with the balance sheets, are posted
nightly to the Branch Banks Office in London, through which office
all the correspondence and business transactions connected with the
branches are carried on. There is also one branch in London at the
West-End.

The economy of the Bank of England is controlled by the Governor, the
Deputy-Governor, and twenty-four Directors. The clerical machinery
is divided into the “Cash side” and the “Accountant’s side.” The
former, under the practical charge of the chief cashier, comprises the
transaction of all business where actual cash is concerned, together
with the necessary book-keeping which it involves; the latter, under
the charge of the chief accountant, takes cognizance of all matters
of pure book-keeping where no actual cash is concerned, such as those
which relate to the National Debt accounts, the registration of Bank
notes, and so on. In olden times these divisions were kept much more
distinct than they are at present. There was formerly a certain
antagonism between the two “chiefs” which, however, has long since
disappeared, and they now live together in a state of remarkable
harmony, without even fighting over the question of precedence
which the chief accountant is supposed to claim—mainly, I fancy, on
alphabetical grounds, because A comes before C. The supervision of each
office on both “sides” of the Bank, is intrusted to a principal and
deputy-principal, who are accountable in the first place to the chief
cashier or chief accountant, as the case may be, and afterwards to a
committee of directors. The secretary is a separate officer of the
Bank. He stands midway, as it were, between the two “sides,” having
certain relations with each. He nurses the charter, and sees that its
forms and ceremonies are complied with; he records the proceedings of
the courts, summons and attends all committees, and “picks up their
bits.” He waits upon the governors, and does odd literary jobs, stops
notes, puts the candidates for clerkship through their preliminary
examination, collects income-tax, and grants orders to view the Bank,
&c. His duties, in short, are as multifarious as those of the General
Post Office, and it is satisfactory to think that they are as equally
well performed by the present incumbent and his staff.

The total number of employés all told in the Bank is about 1,100, and
the salary list, including pensions, is about £300,000 per annum. There
is an excellent library and reading-room in the Bank, to which the
directors have liberally contributed both money and books. There are
also a Widows’ Fund and Guarantee Society, a Life Insurance Company, a
Volunteer Company, and a Club, or dining room, where clerks can dine
cheaply and well, connected with the Bank, which owe very much of their
prosperity to the liberality and kind consideration of the directors.
The governors and directors of the Bank divide between them £14,000 per
annum. Of this the governors receive £1,000 each and the directors
£500 each. Beyond the status which their position gives them, they
derive no benefit from their office, while they tax themselves most
liberally by their contributions towards the welfare of their clerks.
The governor and deputy-governor remain in office for two years only,
and this short tenure of office is, with considerable reason, thought
to be detrimental to the efficient and consistent administration of
the functions of government. The great blot of the system seems to
be the want of continuity of policy which is engendered. A governor,
let us say, is an enlightened financier; for two years his policy
is paramount; but his successor then comes, and perhaps reverses
everything, and the onus of the change, so far as the Bank customers
are concerned, is left to be borne by the permanent officers of the
Bank, who have perhaps never been consulted in the matter, or whose
opinions, based on the experience of many years, may be ruthlessly
ignored. The two years’ system undoubtedly has its advantages in the
constant introduction of new blood, it also strengthens the governors
from above and below the chair. The directors below the chair give the
governor a loyal and hearty support, because they feel that one day
their own turn may come, while those above the chair, having passed
through the ordeal, know the value of their colleagues’ support. But
the result of this is nevertheless the institution of a sort of
one-man power, which is well enough when there is a Hubbard, Hodgson,
or Crawford in the chair, or if there is a Baring, Hambro, Rothschild,
or Goschen to follow, but which may have its disadvantages.

I have thus traced the rise, sketched the progress, and dwelt briefly
on the present position of the Bank of England. In spite of the gradual
abolition of their monopoly, in spite of the curtailment of their
exclusive privileges, and in spite of all consequent competition, the
“governor and company” have never failed to lead the van of the banking
progress of the kingdom, and to maintain their proud position as the
first banking institution in the world. Bill-brokers may occasionally
grumble at the late revival of an old rule restricting the periods
of advances to six weeks before dividend time, and customers may
occasionally smile or fume at the traces of red-tapeism which still
linger in the establishment; but no one can look back, as I do, over
a period of forty years, without fully appreciating the value of the
important and beneficial changes and improvements which have lately
been effected in every department of the Bank for the purpose of
facilitating the transaction of business and studying the convenience
of the public, or without feeling an increased veneration and respect
for “the old lady in Threadneedle Street.”—_Fortnightly Review._



EXPLORATION IN A NEW DIRECTION.


One great temptation to the exploration of the world is rapidly
passing away. There is little to be found that will gratify the love
of the marvellous. Of an absolutely new land there is now no lingering
hope. We know enough of the ocean to be sure that there exists no
undiscovered continent, no unsuspected peninsula—unless it be in the
Antarctic circle—and no island large enough to be either of value or
of interest. It is not, it is true, many years since Saghalien, which
was supposed to be a peninsula, was discovered to be an island; a new
island near Spitzbergen was found the other day; and there may be an
unnamed islet or two in the North Pacific still awaiting visitors; or a
rock in the Indian Ocean, as forgotten by all mankind as that strange
British dependency, the Chagos group—a series of hill-tops just peering
above the water—is by nearly all Englishmen; but such discoveries can
only be classed as rectifications of detail in geography. They neither
arouse imagination nor stimulate enterprise, as the old discoveries
did; nor can there be many more of them. The coasts of the world and
its oceans have been surveyed by the persistent energy of half-a-dozen
Governments, who have gone on with their work unnoticed for more
than a century; and the water-system of the little planet has been
thoroughly explored. The survey of the land is less complete; but it is
advancing, as the Scotchman said of Sunday, “with fearful regularity.”
What with England, Germany, France, Portugal, the African Association,
Mr. Thomson, Mr. Johnston, and the merchants hunting for bargains, we
shall soon be in possession of a perfect map of Africa; and are already
tolerably certain that no unknown race exists, and that there is no
considerable space in which we are likely to find either new animals,
or a new flora of any but scientific importance. The kind of delight
which woke among men when the first giraffe was caught, or the first
kangaroo was exactly sketched, is not, we fear, a delight reserved
for this generation. There is just a faint hope of such a “find” when
we get fairly inside New Guinea; but it is only faint. There may be a
buried city somewhere in the back of Peru, as interesting as the ruined
city in Cambodia, and Yucatan might repay much more patient searching
than it has received; while there are spaces in Thibet unknown to white
men, and a province or two outside Afghanistan which even Russians have
not visited. Indeed, if rumor does not lie, they discovered a village
a few weeks ago which no official had seen for eighty years, and where
the people were entirely self-governing; but the story looks a little
mythical, and the people thus discovered were still only Russians.
Brazil has not been thoroughly searched, but knowledge of its contents
accumulates at Rio, and its less-visited provinces are known to be
almost blank; and now Mr. im Thurn, with his patient courage, jumping
upwards from rock to rock and tree to tree, has revealed the mystery of
Roraima, the secret mountain-top in Guiana which a correspondent of our
own first set the world agog to discover. It is a plateau, twelve miles
by four, entirely bare of trees, with no animals upon its surface,
which is full of small lakes, and with nothing to repay the explorer
except the consciousness of victory, a magnificent prospect, and a few
orchids which fashionable gardeners will hardly prize. There is no clan
living up there isolated from mankind for a few thousand years; and
the wonderful animals of which the Indians talked, and which should, if
the fear of man is not instinctive, but only a result of centuries of
distrust, have trotted up to Mr. im Thurn saying, “Come, sketch me,”
existed only in the wild imaginations of men who honestly believe that
all dreams are real, and who cannot completely dissociate their own
thoughts from the subjects of their thoughts—the possible explanation
of many a rare old legend. So disappears one more though remote hope
of scientific excitement. There are not many Roraimas in the world;
and when some bold gold-seeker has traversed Eastern Peru, and some
adventurous Frenchman, with muskets for sale, has forced his way up
among the Shans behind Laos, and the African land-grabbers have met, as
they will meet, and the first Australian has killed the first German in
the centre of New Guinea, there will be little left for the explorer,
who now shakes his head over the wonderful dream we heard a missionary
recount thirty-five years ago,—that in the depths of Australia we
might yet discover a buried town, and evidences of a civilisation
which had rotted-down till its survivor was only an aborigine who had
forgotten fire. How that discovery would delight the Duke of Argyll,
giving him the victory in his life-long defence of the possibility of
utter degeneracy! But we fear that the pleasure—which, as hard-headed
thinker, he well deserves—is not reserved for him.

       *       *       *       *       *

We fancy exploration, to become again thoroughly interesting, must be
directed towards things, rather than places; the whole world being
searched for things of value, and especially new dyes, new fibres, and
new foods. We have always thought that there was nearly as much to
interest men in Mr. Fortune’s hunt of years for the green indigo—which
undoubtedly exists, though he failed to find it—as in any exploration
of a new island. The delight of the American who has just discovered
a cotton-plant six times as fruitful as the old variety, must be very
keen, and not altogether tainted by the reflection—though that is
unavoidable—that in such a plant there must be dollars. Just imagine
what that man would do for mankind who found a new and vigorous
potato, different from the plant which now grows in Ireland, and which
is, according to a writer in the _Cornhill_, being propagated by
cuttings, which is a single undivided plant, liable to inherit, through
all its millions of apparently separate existences, the weaknesses of
the original tuber, and liable also to exhaustion, as of old age. It
has no children; only a power, so to speak, of having bits of its flesh
cut off and planted. It is never renewed from seeds, and so, by all
the analogies of Nature, will perish; though the banana, which also
is never renewed—and, indeed, in one variety, has become seedless—has
lasted ages. It is quite possible that there are only two bananas in
the world. Or imagine a new and successful cereal,—a real one in the
true silica armor, with a head twice as heavy, and grains twice as
nutritious, as those of wheat. Why should wheat be the final source
of bread? Man got saccharine matter from all sorts of things—grapes,
honey, and fruits—from the earliest times; but he was old in the world,
and had passed through many civilisations, before he discovered the
cane and crushed the beet, and so got his present boundless store
of sugar. A cereal as fruitful as wheat and as hardy as rye would
change the face of Northern Europe; while one which could flourish on
exhausted soil or in a damp climate, might affect the distribution of
mankind. The direct gain of mankind from such a discovery might be
counted by hundreds of millions; and we know of no law of Nature which
should prevent it, and of no guarantee that the cultivating races have
exhausted search. They most of them, in the early ages, when they
longed for substitutes for fish, and meat, and berries, must have
clutched the first edible grass they could find without much hunting
for better. Farmers will smile, but there may be grains they never
saw. Mincing Lane thinks it knows all about tea, and, no doubt, does
know a good deal; but Mr. Alexander Hosie, of the Chinese Consular
service, has eaten and drank a tea which needs no sugar. At least, in
the fascinating Report which he has presented to Sir H. Parkes, and
which has just been published by Parliament to teach travellers how to
observe, while recording the result of his hunt after white tree-wax,
he says:—“I come now to the last class of tea, the discovery of Mr.
Baber. If my memory is not at fault, he was regaled by a priest on
Mount Olmei with tea possessing both the flavor of milk and sugar. It
may have been in the very temple on the mountain-side in which I am
now writing that Mr. Baber was agreeably surprised. At anyrate, I am
sipping an infusion which is without doubt sweet, and which is declared
by the priest to be brewed from a naturally-prepared tea-leaf. It is
a large dark-brown leaf, and is very sweet when chewed. The people at
the bottom of the mountain, whom I first questioned regarding this tea,
asserted that the leaves were sweet because they were first steeped
in molasses; but the balance of evidence, as I have since found from
extensive inquiry, is against any such artificial preparation. The tree
is said to grow in only one gorge in the mountain, whence the leaves
are brought for sale.” What will Mincing Lane give for a shipload
of that tea, the very existence of which, till drunk and eaten, the
dealers would have regarded as a solemn joke? Men are wise about
silk-culture in Italy and Southern France; but they do not know, as
the Chinese told Mr. Hosie, that the mulberry-leaf is too strong food
for baby-silkworms, and that the wretched little insect, if you want
plenty of silk, should be fed-up in earliest infancy on the leaves of
a silkworm thorn-tree, fifteen feet high, unknown to Europeans, though
Mr. Hosie found it everywhere in Szechuen, growing by the road-sides,
and as hardy as the thorns, of which it is a variety, usually are.
How much difference in annual cash-earnings would the importation of
that thorn make in Lombardy? Why should not the Governments, which
so steadily map-out the seas, even combining to do it, institute a
patient and exhaustive search for new grasses able to produce flour,
and new vegetables fit for eating? They might not produce many Mr.
Hosies, who, if the Members of Parliament read his Report, will very
soon find himself as well-known in London as any popular author; but
they also might. The men like Mr. Fortune and Mr. Hosie, the men
whose observation nothing escapes, are not rare among botanists, and
would need but little encouragement to carry on for years a persistent
inquiry which, if carefully limited to defined objects, would almost
certainly produce some considerable result. The work, it will be said,
is one for Societies; but it seems a pity to waste the great resource
which Governments possess in the wide distribution of their agencies,
and in their power of carrying-on their inquiries without reference
to time. There will be a Legation at Pekin and Lima, and Jeddo, and
Teheran, a hundred years hence; and one official inquirer who records
everything, and is replaced when he departs, and is always protected
and treated with civility, can, in that space of time, accumulate
much knowledge, and will cost but little money. It is organised and
protracted inquiry, not a mere spasmodic effort, that we want to see,
and that will benefit mankind. Let the Societies hunt for their rare
orchids, and plants with lovely blooms, and all manner of scientific
novelties, and let the Governments promote the search for prosaic
things which the ordinary inquirer will neglect. We shall find no
new edible animal, we fear, unless it be some variety of goat which
can be bred into fatness, and made to yield sweet meat—kid properly
cooked, that is, roasted to death, is better than most mutton—but a new
cereal is clearly a possibility, and might be worth all the botanical
discoveries made since the settlers in Virginia sent home the potato.
The late Mr. Bagehot, who was always dropping witty wisdom, used to
say that the wildest speculator he ever heard of was the first man who
dropped grain into the earth and waited till it grew up, and to regret
that his name, like that of the discoverer of fire, and of the first
man who mastered a horse, was for ever lost. We think we may venture to
say that the name of the man who next discovers a cereal of true value
will not be.—_The Spectator._



A RUSSIAN PHILOSOPHER ON ENGLISH POLITICS.


About five-and-twenty years ago, I happened to be engaged in the
service of my country in a distant part of the world. The duties
which devolved upon me threw me into a daily contact with a Russian
officer similarly employed. Notwithstanding the conflicting interests
which we severally represented, and the somewhat delicate and often
strained relations resulting therefrom, we had not been long in each
other’s society without becoming sensible of a personal sympathy too
powerful to be resisted, and which soon ripened into an intimacy which
lasted for many years; indeed we were thrown so exclusively upon our
own resources, deprived as we were of all other society, that we must
probably soon either have become bitter enemies or fast friends. A
certain similarity of taste, I had almost said of aspiration, forced
upon us the latter alternative; and it was probably due to this that
we were enabled to bring the special duties upon which we were engaged
to a successful conclusion, whereby we earned the approval of our
respective Governments,—represented in his case by a decoration, and
in mine by a curt complimentary despatch; for in those days C.B.’s and
C.M.G.’s were not flung about with the lavish profusion which has since
so largely depreciated their value. It was a relief, when the labors
of the day were over—which had taxed all our powers of ingenuity and
forbearance, and we had fatigued our brains by inventing compromises
and devising solutions which should satisfy the susceptibilities of
our respective Governments—to jump on our horses and take a sharp
dash across country, just by way of clearing our brains of diplomatic
cobwebs. Generally we played at follow-my-leader, and we took it in
turns to be leader; for we were both young, and had, in fact, been
weighted with responsibilities beyond our years, which made us rush
into a reaction that consisted in an active endeavor to break our necks
every afternoon with all the keener zest,—to the intense astonishment
of the natives of the uncivilised region to which we had been
temporarily banished. Then, as we jogged slowly home, we would fall
into those discussions, on social, religious, psychological, and moral
problems, by which our souls were vexed, which lasted through dinner,
and often far into the night. I found in my companion an earnestness,
depth, and originality of sentiment which were most remarkable in one
so young, the more especially as I had not supposed that his training
and early associations had been of a character to develop that side
of his nature; possibly the very restraints to which he had been
subjected had stimulated his instincts for independent thought and
speculation. Knowing English, French, and German almost as well as
his mother-tongue, he had read extensively and greedily in all three
languages; and, owing to certain family circumstances, he had spent
the most part of his life away from his native land, applying himself,
with an acuteness and a faculty of observation extraordinary in one so
young, to a study of the political institutions, social conditions,
and national characteristics of the different European countries in
which he had lived. So precocious did his intelligence appear to me
in this respect, that I soon came to consider myself in some degree a
sort of disciple; and I have always been conscious that his influence
during the nine months that we were together affected my own subsequent
views of life, and indeed to some extent moulded my future. In the
course of these discussions he unburdened himself to me on all subjects
as fully as he would have done to a brother—indeed, considering who
his brother was, far more freely; and did not shrink from commenting
upon the social and political condition of his own country, and from
giving vent to opinions which would probably have consigned him to
the mines of Siberia for life had he been known to entertain them.
The confidence which he thus displayed towards me only served to bind
us more closely together, though I was ever haunted by the fear that
the day might come when he might misplace it, with consequences which
might be fatal to himself. As he was absolutely devoid of all personal
ambition, this would be of little moment, if it only resulted in the
abrupt termination of his career, which, from his natural independence
of character, I anticipated could not long be postponed. It occurred
even sooner than I expected. Within six months of my parting from him,
I received a letter in which he told me he had fallen into disgrace,
and was going to live in Italy. The exigencies of my own service
had taken me to a very different part of the world; but we kept up,
nevertheless, an active correspondence for some years, during which
he occasionally sent me notes of a book he was writing, in letters
which continued to exhibit more and more the results of his extensive
reading and profound faculty of observation, philosophic speculation
and generalisation. Suddenly, about fifteen years ago, and without a
word of warning, these ceased. All my letters remained unanswered; and
when, some time afterwards, I found myself in Rome, and inquired at the
address to which I had sent them, it was only to learn that the present
proprietors of the house were comparatively new people, and had never
heard of him. Meantime I had myself retired from the service, and being
of a wandering and unsettled disposition, had only returned to my own
country for a few months at a time. I had lived too long in summer
climes, and under less conventional restraints, to be happy in it; but
one of my constant regrets was that I had never thought of providing
my Russian friend with a permanent address, so that in case of his
ever being able or willing to communicate with me again, he might know
where to find me. Meanwhile I could only account for his silence by
the painful supposition that he had in some manner incurred the severe
displeasure of his Government, and was languishing in that distant
semi-arctic region which is hermetically sealed to all communication
with the outside world.

My delight may easily be imagined, therefore, when scarce two
months ago, chancing to be a passenger on board a steamer in the
Mediterranean, I found myself seated the first day at dinner next to
a man, the tones of whose voice I thought I recognised, though I was
for a moment puzzled by the alteration in his general appearance,
and who turned out to be my long-lost friend, upon whom, as I looked
at the furrows on his countenance, I saw that something more than
time—though it had extended over twenty-five years—had worked a change.
This same interval had, doubtless, done something for me; so we both
looked at each other for a moment in hesitation before permitting
the joy of mutual recognition to burst forth. We soon found, on
comparing notes, that we had been longing to find each other, and
that nothing now prevented our pitching our tent together on the
sunny Mediterranean shore, in the hope and belief that we should find
that the companionship which had suited us so well twenty-five years
previously, would only be rendered more full of interest and profit
by the experiences which we had undergone since that period; nor had
we conversed an hour before we became convinced that, however much we
might have changed in outward appearance, our affection for each other,
and our human sympathies generally, had undergone no alteration. It
is therefore in a villa surrounded by orange-groves, with terraces
overlooking the sea, built curiously into the fissures of impending
rock, that I am writing this; or, to be more strictly accurate, I
should say it is in a summer-house attached to the villa, fifty feet
beneath which the sea is rippling in ceaseless murmur, while my friend,
stretched on a Persian rug in the shade formed by the angle of the wall
with the overhanging rock, here covered with a creeping jasmine, heavy
with blossom, is watching the smoke of his cigarette, and listening
while I read to him passages here and there of the notes which I had
taken of our last night’s conversation. It had been suggested by the
arrival of letters and newspapers from England, and it occurred to me
that the remarks of my friend as a calm and unprejudiced observer upon
the present political, social, and moral condition of my own country,
possessed a value which justified me in asking his permission to be
allowed to publish them, the more so as he had just returned from
spending some months in London; and he was of far too liberal and
philosophical a temperament and cosmopolitan training and sympathy
to be influenced by national prejudice; while, had he ever been once
biassed by it, the treatment he had undergone at the hands of his own
Government would have long since effectually removed it.

“I will introduce you to the public by telling the story of our
previous acquaintance, just as it occurred,” I observed. This the
reader will remark that I have already done; but I did not read my
introduction to my friend, as I knew he would have raised strong
objections to the complimentary passages. “Now tell me what I am to
call you?”

“Ivan is safe, simple, and not far from the truth, unless you prefer
a pair of initials like my well-known countrywoman O. K. It has
amused me to observe,” he added, with a smile, “as I have watched the
performances, social, literary, and political, how much more easy it
is for a woman to understand the genius of a man than the genius of a
nation.”

“Perhaps that is because the nation is composed of women as well as of
men,”I replied.

“After all, it comes to pretty much the same thing,” said Ivan;
“for the genius that he understood well enough to beguile, seems to
apprehend equally well the genius of the nation he governs, or he could
not have beguiled it in the sense she desired. The whole incident
serves to illustrate the mystery of woman’s true sphere of influence,
so little understood by the women themselves who agitate for their
rights.”

“I am not disposed to admit,”I answered, “that the incident in
question proves your case; for I know none of your own countrymen, to
say nothing of the women, who understand the genius of the English
people, for to do so implies an apprehension of the genius of their
institutions, and it is the incapacity of foreigners generally to
appreciate these which causes them to regard our domestic policy in the
light of an unfathomable mystery which it is hopeless to attempt to
penetrate, and our foreign policy as a delusion and a snare.”

“When your Government gets into difficulties,”said Ivan, “it certainly
goes to work to get out of them in a way exactly the opposite to
that which other European Governments, and especially we in Russia,
are in the habit of pursuing. Foreign policy is with us the great
safety-valve by which the bubbling passions of the country find a
vent, and our central authority takes refuge from its troubles in
foreign wars and schemes of territorial aggrandisement; your Government
pursues a diametrically opposite system, and considers, apparently,
that its best chance of safety lies in stirring up domestic broils,
and exciting the people to fever-heat of political passion among
themselves. In other words, while our statesmen believe that they can
best secure their own positions and avert the perils arising from
mis-government by distracting public attention from internal affairs
and rushing into dangers abroad, yours hope to escape the consequences
of their blunders abroad by promoting revolutionary tendencies at
home. It would be curious to analyse the causes which have resulted
in such opposite political methods, the more especially as both, in
their different ways, are equally prejudicial to the highest national
interests, and, from a philosophical point of view, would furnish a
most interesting political and sociological study. As it is, my own
country produces upon me the effect of a dashing young woman, still
intoxicated with her youthful conquests and greedy for more, while she
refuses to admit that a gnawing disease is preying upon her vitals,
still less to apply any remedies to it; in yours, on the other hand, I
seem to see an old woman in her dotage, who makes blatant and canting
profession of that virtue which her age and feebleness have imposed
upon her as a necessity, while she paints, and rouges, and pampers
herself with luxury, and fritters away the little strength and energy
she still possesses in absorbing herself with domestic details and the
quarrels of her servants, and leaves her vast estates to take care
of themselves. Considering the dangers with which both countries are
menaced, the great difference which I observed between the Governments
of the two countries is, that in one, government takes the form of
active insanity—in the other, of drivelling imbecility. After all,
there is always more hope for a young lunatic than an old idiot. We may
pull through all right yet, but we shall have a very rough time to pass
through first.”

“And you think that we are too far gone ever to do so,”I remarked,
rather discouraged by the gloomy view he took of the present condition
and future prospects of my native country.”

“I don’t altogether say that. It is not with countries as with
individuals; the latter always pass from their second childhood into
their graves. But for nations, who can say that there is not reserved a
second youth? though history does not record an instance of any nation
having ever attained to it. The process is probably a slow one; but in
these days of rapid development, to say nothing of evolution, we cannot
be sure even of that.”

“Still,”I pursued, a little nettled at the severity of his judgment in
regard to my own country,—I did not care what he said about Russia,
of which I was in no position to judge,—“I should like to know upon
what grounds you base your opinion that England is an old idiot. The
expression, I think, is scarcely parliamentary.”

“In using the term to which you object,” said Ivan,—“which, after
reading the language recently used in debate in your House of Commons,
I maintain is strictly parliamentary,—I was not so much alluding
to England as to its Government; and I will endeavor to explain to
you the reasons which lead me to think that the expression is not
misapplied. There are at the present day, including the population
of the United States, between eighty and ninety millions of people
who owe their origin to the British Isles; who speak the English
language as their mother-tongue; who possess in a more or less degree
the national characteristics of the race from which they have sprung;
who exercise an influence over a greater area of the surface of the
earth than that of any other race upon it; who directly control over
250 millions of people not of their own race, and indirectly control
many millions more; whose commercial relations are more extensive than
those of all the other nations of the world put together; whose wealth
is unrivalled; whose political institutions have hitherto served as
a model, as they have been the envy of less favored peoples; and who
may be said, without fear of contradiction, to lead the van of the
world’s civilisation. It is difficult, when we spread a map out before
us, to realise that so small a dot as Great Britain appears upon it,
should have given birth to these stupendous forces; and one is led to
examine into the processes by which so marvellous a position has been
achieved in the world’s history as that which these small islands must
occupy, even though that position seems now about to be destroyed by
what appears to an outsider to be a combination of national decrepitude
and administrative impotence,—for it is only when a nation has itself
lost its vigor, that it tolerates imbecility on the part of its rulers.
The greatness of England has been built up, not on the conquests
of its neighbors, or of nations equally civilised with itself, as
we have seen occur in the cases of other great empires, but in the
comparatively easy subjugation of barbarous peoples; in the occupation
and colonisation of countries sparingly inhabited by savage races; in
the material development of vast tracts of the earth’s surface; in the
creation of new markets, of new sources alike of supply and of demand;
and in the energetic and profitable employment of capital in all the
regions of the earth. This was possible, and possible only because
her adventurous sons who went forth into wild and distant regions to
occupy, to develop, and to create, always felt that they had behind
them a motherland whose proud boast it was that she ruled the waves,
and a nation and Government so thoroughly animated by their own daring
and adventurous spirit, that they knew that none were too humble or
insignificant to be watched over and protected; nay, more, they were
encouraged in hardy enterprises, and often assisted to carry them out.

“During the last two or three years, the circumstances of my life,
into which it is not necessary for me now to enter, have forced me
not merely to circumnavigate the globe, but especially to visit those
British possessions, and those seaboards of lands still relative
if barbarous, upon which your countrymen are so thickly dotted as
merchants or settlers, and where British subjects of foreign race
abound, who carry on their avocations under that British protection
which used to be a reality, but is now only a name. Familiar as I
have been with Englishmen from my youth, I found a spirit of bitter
discontent rife, which, even among your grumbling race, was altogether
a new feature in their conversation, especially with a foreigner. Many
were making arrangements to close up their business and abandon the
commerce in which they were engaged; some, and this was especially the
case among the British subjects of foreign race, were taking steps
to change their nationality. In some of the colonies the language
held sounded to my Russian ears little short of high treason; while
I often heard Englishmen in the society of foreigners say that they
were ashamed to call themselves Englishmen—a sentiment which I do not
remember ever having heard one of your countrymen give vent to in my
youth.

“I only mention these as illustrations of the fact which was forcibly
impressed upon me during my travels, that the influence of England
was waning, not in Europe, where it _has_ waned, but where it might
be recovered by a vigorous stroke of policy,—but in Asia, Africa, and
America—in those continents from which she derives her position and her
wealth. The waning of British influence in Europe means, comparatively,
nothing, so far as British commerce is concerned. The waning of that
influence in the three other continents means national decay. It has
not been by her great wars, her European campaigns, that England has
achieved greatness, but by her little ones in those distant countries
which your Government seems ready to retire from, bag and baggage, at
the first word of a new-comer; and yet one would suppose that nothing
could be clearer to a people not in its dotage than this, that if they
do not protect their merchants, the latter will not be able to compete
with those who are protected. If you desire proof of this, look at the
increasing substitution of German for English houses of commerce all
over the world; and if commerce languishes, food becomes dearer for
those very classes who cry out against those little wars which, when
wisely turned to account have proved your best national investments,
and have been the indirect means of giving food and employment to your
starving millions. I see that there is some talk of a committee being
appointed to inquire into the causes of the depression of trade. Those
causes are not very far to seek; or rather, in another sense, they are
very far to seek. You must travel from China to Peru to find them, and
they will stare you in the face. I have been watching, while you are
squabbling over your Franchise and your Redistribution Bills, how your
trade is slipping from you. So you go on fiddling on the two strings of
your electoral fiddle, while Rome is burning. One would have supposed
that England was old enough by this time to have discovered that it
would not improve her voters to give them another shuffle; that she had
experience enough to know that electors were like playing cards, the
more you shuffle them the dirtier they get. With the interests of the
empire at stake, certainly in two if not in three continents, you play
the ostrich, and bury your heads in parish politics—parish politics of
the most pestilent and useless description.

“Do you want to know why trade languishes? It is summed up in a short
sentence: Want of confidence on the part of the trader; it cramps his
enterprise, damps his ardor, spoils his temper, and crushes all the
manliness out of him. The commercial stability of England was not built
up by a lot of unprotected females, which is the condition the British
merchant abroad is rapidly being reduced to by the neglect and apathy
and indifference to his interests of his Government. He is perfectly
well aware in every port there is a consul, that he is considered a
nuisance by that functionary, who knows that in the degree in which he
prevents his complaints from reaching the department which is supposed
to direct the foreign policy of England, he will be considered capable
and efficient. No longer does he feel himself to be the _Civis Romanus_
of old days. His sugar plantations may be destroyed in Madagascar,
his commercial interests may be imperilled in China, he may be robbed
and insulted in Turkey; but he is gradually being taught, by bitter
experience, that it is hopeless to look to diplomatic interference
for redress. Meanwhile the British taxpayer continues to pay for that
expensive luxury whose function it is supposed to be to protect those
commercial interests abroad upon which the prosperity and wealth of
Great Britain depends. In like manner the ties between the mother
country and her colonies are weakened by her persistent shrinking from
the responsibilities and obligations which the welfare and security of
those colonies involve. She sacrifices ruthlessly that prestige upon
the maintenance of which the safety, and in some cases the allegiance,
of her subjects depends. She deludes unhappy colonists into making
investments and settlements in half-civilised States upon the faith
of treaties, which she ignominiously shrinks from enforcing at the
first appearance of danger, and calmly leaves her savage allies to be
slaughtered and her colonists to be plundered, as in the case of South
Africa; or she makes transparent display of her timidity and weakness,
as has been conspicuously the case in her relations with her Australian
possessions; or retreats from the protection of her natural frontiers,
as she has lately done in India. And all this is in pursuance of a
theory of political economy incomprehensible to the unprejudiced
observer like myself, that it is cheaper and more advantageous to
the national prosperity to sacrifice the commercial interests of the
country than to incur the risks and expense of protecting them. The
only explanation one can give of an infatuation so incredible, of a
policy so short-sighted and so fraught with disaster, is, that it is
based on ignorance—ignorance of the present injury that it is working,
and ignorance of the dangers to which it is giving birth. There can be
no surer way of precipitating the crisis which England seeks to avoid,
and which, when it comes, must involve the utter ruin of her trade,
than the invitation which her craven attitude offers to her covetous
and unscrupulous neighbors, whether they be civilised or uncivilised,
to encroach to their own profit, until at last the veil which is now
before the eyes of the public in England will be torn away, and they
will find themselves suddenly called upon to abandon the parochial
details over which they have been wrangling, for sterner work. It will
be too late then to regret the penny-wise and pound-foolish policy
which plunged them into the mess: the only question they will have to
consider is, whether it is not too late to get out of it.”

“I am a good deal surprised,”I remarked, after having listened to
the unflattering utterances of my friend with some dissatisfaction,
“that you entirely ignore all other considerations than those of mere
policy and expediency. Granting, as you say, that the present policy of
England imperils its commercial ascendency, are no other considerations
to be allowed to guide the policy of a nation than those connected
with its pocket? Have we no moral duties to perform, no example to
set, no principles to maintain? Or are we ever to remain a nation
of shopkeepers, fighting unscrupulously for markets; grabbing the
territory of savages, under the pretext of civilising them, which is
usually accomplished by the process of extermination; and jostling all
other comers out of the markets of the world by fair means or foul?
Because these means served us some centuries ago, and because, if you
will, our national greatness is built upon them, does it follow that
we should cling to them in these more enlightened days? If the moral
instinct of the people of England begins to revolt against them, even
to the prejudice of the national purse, do our money-bags constitute
a sufficient reason why we should remain in the Cimmerian darkness
and brutality of the middle ages? Of all men you were the last whom I
expected to hear confound moral progress with political imbecility.”

“Nay,”returned Ivan, “I should be the first to congratulate you on a
policy of moral progress, if, in that pursued at present by England,
I could discover it. What moral progress is there in a policy which
has resulted in the slaughter of thousands of unhappy Arabs in Egypt
and the Eastern Soudan? Where does moral progress show itself in the
expedition which has worked its weary way into the heart of Africa, to
fight against the naked savages there? Where is the moral progress of
a policy which has necessitated another military expedition to South
Africa, and new annexations of territory there? What moral progress
have you achieved in Turkey, where you are bound by treaty to institute
reforms in that part of the empire over which you are supposed by the
same treaty to exercise a protectorate, the very existence of which,
under the policy of moral progress, it has been found convenient to
ignore, because it involves responsibilities towards an oppressed and
suffering people, whose oppression and whose sufferings it would now be
expensive and troublesome to recognise, though political capital enough
is made out of them when the exigencies of your local party warfare
demand it? The question is, in what does real moral progress consist?
Certainly not in the blatant profession of moral platitudes—the
abstract truth of which everybody recognizes—when they are accompanied
by a practice which gives them the lie direct. There can be nothing
more demoralising to the moral welfare of a nation than a policy which
is in flagrant contradiction to its lofty moral pretensions. Not only
does it degrade the national conscience, but it renders that conscience
an object of derision and contempt among foreign nations. To be logical
and consistent, the politician ‘who is in trouble about his soul’ must
follow one of two courses,—either he must recognise the fact that
national egotism, like individual egotism, is a vice which admits of no
compromise, and that the duty of his country is to love other countries
better than itself; that the love of money, and therefore the making
of it, is the root of all evil; that when the nation is metaphorically
asked for its cloak, it should give its coat also—and when smitten on
one cheek, should turn the other to the smiter;—when he is reluctantly
convinced that, however desirable this higher law might be, and however
indisputable its morality, it is, under the existing conditions of
humanity, impracticable, then he has no alternative but to base the
national policy upon the exactly opposite principle, which is that
which governs the policy of all other nations, and assume that his duty
consists in protecting the interests of his own country against those
of rival countries, which are all engaged in an incessant competitive
warfare against each other; and he will find, by experience, that any
attempt to compromise with the opposite or altruistic principle will
inevitably lead to disaster, for it will involve that hesitation and
weakness in the conduct of affairs which will encourage those rivals
to overt acts of offence and encroachment that must ultimately lead to
bloody wars in defence of those national interests which a policy of
vacillation and of moral inconsistency will have imperilled. Sooner or
later, it is certain that the force of events will rip off the thin
veneering of cant which had served to delude the ignorant masses, and
to conceal either the stupidity or the insincerity of its professors. I
say stupidity, for there can be little doubt that among those who guide
the destinies of the nation are many who honestly share the belief with
the public they help to mislead, that to shrink from responsibilities,
to temporise in the face of danger, to make sacrifices and concessions
in order to conciliate, will avert catastrophes instead of
precipitating them; while there are others to whose common-sense it
would be an insult to make any such assumption.”

“But these others,”I observed, “may, without any insult to their
common-sense, be supposed to entertain the opinion that the possessions
of the British empire are sufficiently extended and difficult to
protect, to render any further annexation of territory, or acquisition
of responsibility, undesirable.”

“Doubtless; and in this I agree with them. Indeed, the incapacity
they have shown to protect what they have got, is the best reason
they could assign for being unwilling to have more; but it does not
touch the question of the principle upon which England’s policy should
be based in her dealings with foreign nations, and with her own
colonial possessions; in other words, what are the most economical
and at the same time the most moral methods of self-preservation? I
put economy before morality, because, whatever may be the professions
of Governments in practice, as a consideration, it always precedes
it. If bloodguiltiness was not always attended with so much expense,
people’s consciences would be far less sensitive on the subject. Hence
it happens that highly moral financiers are apt to regard things as
wicked in the degree in which they are costly, while they are too
short-sighted as statesmen to perceive that a prompt expenditure is
often the best way of saving a far heavier amount, which must be
the result of the delay—or, in homely phraseology, that a stitch in
time saves nine. The most economical and the most moral method of
self-preservation, then, will be found in consolidating, protecting,
and extending the commercial position and moral influence of the great
English-speaking people in all quarters of the globe. At this moment,
though surrounded by enemies who envy and hate her, there is no country
more safe from attack than Germany, because she is governed by a
statesman who never shirks responsibility, cowers before danger, or,
in moments of difficulty, takes refuge in compromise or concession.
It is not England, with her horror of war, that has, during the last
decade, been the Power which has prevented a European war, otherwise
inevitable, from breaking forth; the statesman to whom the peace of
Europe has been due, upon whom that peace now depends, and who is
therefore doing the most for the moral progress of Europe, is exactly
that statesman who never indulges in moral platitudes, and whom his
worst enemy cannot accuse of hypocrisy. No one will pretend that peace
is not more conducive to economy and moral progress than war; but to
secure it, a great military position and a great national prestige
are alike indispensable. England has, or should have, the first naval
position in the world, and, until lately, her national prestige was
second to none. These advantages confer on her great responsibilities;
to part with them is to diminish her powers of usefulness in the
world, and her mission of civilising it. As the champion of civil and
religious liberty, she owes a duty to humanity, which it would be a
crime alike in the eyes of God and man for her to relinquish, even
though it may cost blood and treasure to maintain it,—for the amount
expended to maintain it would be as nothing compared to the sacrifices
of both life and money which the abandonment of this duty would entail
upon the world. I speak feelingly, for I cannot conceive a greater
disaster befall the human race, than to see the place of England
usurped by the nation of which I have the honor of being a humble
member,”here Ivan smiled bitterly. “So absorbed are you in your own
vestry quarrels, that you either forget or are ignorant of the place
you occupy in the regard of millions, who see in England the apostle
of free thought, free speech, free institutions. Your standard, which
we look up to as the flag of liberty, and which should be nailed to
the mast, we watch you with dismay lowering to every piratical craft,
while the crew are fighting about a distribution of provisions, and the
pilot seems to prefer running his ship on the rocks to boldly facing
the enemy’s cruisers. Nothing strikes us members of the oppressed and
suppressed races as more anomalous and incomprehensible, than the
fact that the party in England which are most ready to compromise the
honor of that flag, and to haul it down on the least provocation, are
precisely that party who are most loud-tongued in their profession
of sympathy for those races to whom it is the banner on which their
hopes are fixed—the symbol in their eyes of progress, civilisation,
and political freedom. Hence it is that all those among us who are
not absolute anarchists, find ourselves unconsciously withdrawing our
sympathies from that political party in your country, who, while they
style themselves the party of progress and of advanced thought, are in
reality compromising the cause which I feel sure they honestly cherish
and believe in, by destroying the prestige and lowering the influence
of the one European Power which is its great representative—and, to our
own great wonderment, are beginning rather to pin our hopes for the
future upon those whom we have hitherto considered reactionary, because
they called themselves Conservative and aristocratic, but who, in this
crisis of the fortunes of their country, resist a policy calculated to
impair its supremacy. Thus, on a higher principle than that appealed to
by the political moralists who direct the helm of State, may the best
interests of morality be reconciled with those of their own country;
for it is by maintaining the supremacy of England that the principle
which is identified with her institutions, her traditions, and the
aspirations of her people, can be best secured in the interests of
that universal society of which she forms part, and towards which she
undoubtedly has moral obligations and responsibilities. The party
which seeks to evade them, whether upon specious theories started by
_doctrinaires_ ignorant of international conditions, or upon penny-wise
and pound-foolish grounds of economy, are in reality the party of
reaction; for they are the best allies of reactionists, and are playing
into their hands, as no people have better reason for knowing than the
Russians, who have observed with dismay the sympathy of your Prime
Minister with ‘the divine figure of the North,’ as he has styled our
ruler, and his methods of government; while from our point of view, the
party of progress in England, let them call themselves Conservative
if they so please, are those who, true to the grand traditions of the
country, are determined to keep it in the van of freedom, not merely
because its wealth and prosperity are due to that absolute civil and
political liberty which imposed no check upon individual enterprise or
achievement, but because with the preservation of its greatness are
bound up the most cherished interests of the human race.”

“Come, Ivan,”I said, laughing, “you have wound up with a peroration as
much too flattering to my country as you were too uncomplimentary at
the start. For an ‘old idiot,’ you have ended by giving her a pretty
good character.”

“Not at all,”he rejoined; “I ended by describing her splendid position
and advantages. I called her an old idiot for either being unconscious
of them, or throwing them away consciously. And I ventured to add a
word of encouragement to those who are struggling to prevent these
being thrown away, and to assure them that, in their resistance to the
short-sighted and fatuous policy of their present rulers, they have
the cordial sympathy of philosophic Liberals like myself (I am not
now speaking of Socialists and Nihilists, whose lands are against all
parties) all over Europe. One of your own most eminent philosophers,
himself a Liberal, has recently written a book, in which he has shown
the danger by which the true principle of liberty is threatened from
the reactionary tendencies of the democratic autocracy. I merely wish
to assure you that we in Europe are fully alive to this danger, and
dread as much the despotism which springs from the divine right of
mobs, as from that of kings. There is to my mind as little of God in
the _vox populi_ as in an Imperial ukase; and our only safety between
these two extremes, which I should rather be disposed to call infernal
than divine, lies in the common-sense, patriotism, and virtue of those
statesmen, politicians, and lawyers who, holding a middle course
between them, as being both equally dangerous to the principles of
true liberty, endeavor not merely to preserve the institutions of
that country which is the home of liberty, but, by maintaining its
supremacy, enable it to resist attacks from whatever quarter.”

“I have lived too much out of England for the greater part of my
life,”I remarked, “to be much of a party man; still, from early
and family association, my sympathies rather incline towards that
party which now control its policy, though I admit they have shown
but indifferent foresight, skill, or judgment in grappling with the
difficulties which they had to confront. Still it is only fair to
them to remember that these were left them as a heritage by their
predecessors; and that if they have blundered somewhat in the effort to
set matters right—conspicuously in Egypt, for example—it was not they
who set matters wrong in the first instance in that country.”

“That I entirely deny,”responded Ivan, “as I think I can prove to
you in a very few words. But before doing so, allow me to express my
surprise at your admission that, because you were a Liberal in the
days of Lord Palmerston, who was pre-eminently the representative of
the policy which I have advocated as being that which should animate
a British statesman, your sympathies should extend to those who,
while they wear the old party livery, have entirely departed from
the old party lines. His mantle has indeed fallen upon them, but
they have so completely turned it inside out that it is no longer
recognisable. In the days when a party existed which called itself
‘Liberal-Conservative,’ there was no violent political issues at home
to check the current of a domestic legislation which was ever steadily
progressive; while in foreign affairs the Government of the day,
whether it was Conservative or Liberal, followed the well-established
traditions of British policy abroad, which, if it had incurred the
jealousy of European Powers, at all events commanded their admiration
and respect. The utterly inconsistent and perplexing attitude which
England has now assumed, so entirely at variance with the principles
by which her foreign policy was formerly governed, must of necessity
deprive her of all sympathy abroad, for she has proved herself totally
untrustworthy as an ally—while all true Liberals must deplore the
agitation which has resulted from a domestic legislation that has a
tendency unnecessarily to exacerbate party feeling, and drive people
into violently opposite extremes. Nothing is more fatal to all real
progress than a wild and unreasoning rush in the direction in which it
is supposed to lie, because the inevitable consequence is a reaction
most probably equally unreasoning. Moreover, these violent swings
of the political pendulum must always be attended with the greatest
possible danger. A Conservative triumph which is purchased at the
price of acts of folly, rashness, or weakness, perpetrated by their
opponents, is paid for by the country, and is but a sorry bargain.
It is not under such violently disturbing influences that sound and
healthy Liberal progress is made. And all history proves that the
liberty which is born in convulsions invariably degenerates into a
license which culminates in a tyranny.

“And now one word in reply to your allusion to the present position of
matters in Egypt, and more especially with regard to that legacy of
disasters which the present Government maintain they have inherited
from the policy of Lord Beaconsfield, and which, with characteristic
weakness, they constantly invoke as an excuse for their own
shortcomings. When the Anglo-French _condominium_ was established
in Egypt—which is regarded as the _fons et origo mali_—an _entente
cordiale_, which was rapidly ripening into an alliance, had been formed
between Germany, Austria, and England, in which, to a certain extent,
Italy was included, and upon which Turkey depended for her existence;
it formed, therefore, a combination of European Powers which controlled
Europe, and was in a position to dictate, especially to Prussia and
France, both weakened as those two Powers were by recent wars, and
by internal dangers and dissensions—both being, moreover, the only
Powers in Europe whose interests clashed with those of England in the
East, and whose policy, therefore, it was the interest of England
narrowly to watch, and, if need be, to control. The faculty for doing
this had been wisely secured to her by the European combination in
which she had entered, above alluded to. Under these circumstances
she had nothing to fear in Egypt from an association with France in
the dual control. Practically it became a single control; for, with
Germany and Austria at her back, England could dictate her own policy
in Egypt, and, in the event of its not suiting her French associate,
could even dare to enforce it without the slightest fear of the peace
of Europe being endangered thereby. Her political supremacy in Egypt
was, in fact, guaranteed to her by Germany and Austria, who had no
reason to regard it with jealousy, while they obtained in return
that commanding position which England’s adhesion to their alliance
secured them in Europe. So far, then, from having succeeded to a
heritage of difficulty, the present Government succeeded to one of
absolute security. But the whole aspect of the political chessboard was
changed when the new player, who took over the game in the middle of
it, removed the piece which gave check to king and queen, and which,
if it was not moved away, rendered final victory a certainty. Lord
Beaconsfield’s policy in Egypt turned upon the Anglo-Germanic-Austrian
Alliance. When, after his fall from office, this was rudely ruptured
by insulting expressions of antipathy to Austria on the part of his
successor, the effect of which, subsequent expressions of apology were
inadequate to efface—by a strongly marked coldness towards Germany,
and a no less marked _rapprochement_ towards France—the latter
Power, relieved from the dread of the European combination, which
had up to that moment held her quiescent in Egypt, jumped up like a
jack-in-the-box, and favored us with that series of intrigues which
gave us Arabi, and the evils that followed in his train. Meantime,
utterly isolated in Europe by that rupture with the most powerful
friends in it, with which the policy of Lord Beaconsfield had provided
you, you found yourselves betrayed and deserted by the ally you had
chosen instead of them; while every concession you made to that ally,
and every attempt at conciliation, only plunged you deeper in the mire,
in which you have since been left to flounder alone, a laughing-stock
and object of derision to all Europe, and more especially to those
Powers who might have proved your salvation, but who have since entered
into other European combinations from which England is excluded, and
which may prove in the highest degree dangerous to her. No assertion,
therefore, can be more utterly false in fact than the statement that
the heritage to which this Government succeeded was one of trouble.
So far from it, the policy of their predecessors had left them in a
position of commanding strength; and to lay the misfortunes which
have since arisen at the door of those who had taken such precautions
that they could never arise, is as though a general who should take
over the command of an army placed strategically in an impregnable
position, should abandon that position altogether, and after being
defeated in the open field, find fault with the nature of the defences
he had abandoned. But,” added Ivan, with a yawn, stretching himself,
looking at his watch, and going to the open window, “you will think
that I have degenerated from the philosophical spectator into the keen
party politician. This I was compelled to be during my recent visit
to London, where you are nothing if you are not partisan. The flavor
of Piccadilly clings to me still: how much more delicious are the
odorous night airs of these southern climes! Look up at those stars,
my old friend, before you go to bed, and thank them that you have been
spared the cares and the ambitions of the Treasury bench.”—_Blackwood’s
Magazine._



BLACKSTONE.

BY G. P. MACDONELL.

Blackstone has now been dead more than a century, but neither lawyers
nor laymen have yet made up their minds whether he was an intellectual
giant, or only a second-rate man of letters, with a little learning
and a pretty style, who acquired popularity because he flattered the
English constitution. His friends have pitched high their eulogy.
Sir William Jones, speaking to the freeholders of Middlesex, who had
little reason to love Blackstone, called him the pride of England,
and in a grave legal treatise referred to the _Commentaries_ as the
most correct and beautiful outline that ever was exhibited of any
human science. Hargrave, fresh from annotating Coke upon Littleton,
described him as an almost second Hale, and that as it were in the very
presence of Hale, in a volume of tracts half filled with Hale’s legal
lore. “To me,” said Mr. Justice Coleridge, the nephew of the poet, and
one of Blackstone’s many editors, “the _Commentaries_ appear in the
light of a national property, which all should be anxious to improve
to the uttermost, and which no one of proper feeling will meddle with
inconsiderately.” And a distinguished German jurist, exaggerating
only a little, has said that Englishmen regard the _Commentaries_ as
“_ein juristisches Evangelium_.” The history of the work is in itself
remarkable. If we except the Institutes of Justinian, and the _De
Jure Belli ac Pacis_ of Grotius, perhaps no law book has been oftener
printed. Not to speak of the many adaptations, more or less close,
or of the many abridgments of the _Commentaries_ (one of these was
“intended for the use of young persons, and comprised in a series of
letters from a father to his daughter,”) they have, in their original
form, gone through more than twenty complete editions in England since
the publication of the first volume in 1765. Nor has the homage of
parody—in the shape of a “Comic Blackstone”—been wanting to place them
among the classics. In America they have attained at least an equal
fame. In the speech on Conciliation, delivered in 1775, Burke said
that he had heard from an eminent bookseller that nearly as many copies
had been sold there as here. Two years later, one of the five members
appointed to frame the laws of Virginia seriously proposed that, with
suitable modifications, the _Commentaries_ should be taken as their
text. There is reason to believe that they are now held in higher
esteem in America than among ourselves. The American editions, already
nearly as numerous as the English, still continue to multiply,[9] while
forty years have passed since we have had an English Blackstone with
an unmutilated text. His own countrymen are now content to know him
through the medium of condensed and often lifeless versions, though
it is not so far back since, for those who aspired to the amount of
legal knowledge which a gentleman should possess, Blackstone was the
very voice of the law. If on many sides Blackstone received the meed
of excessive praise, his critics, it must be allowed, did not spare
him. They have not been many, but they have spoken so emphatically,
and, within certain limits, so unanswerably, that they have aroused
suspicion whether, after all, Blackstone may not have been a charlatan.
He was naturally regarded with distrust by lawyers of the rigid
school, who felt that legal learning was gone if such primers as the
_Commentaries_ were to displace the venerable Coke. The book was not
many years old before the phrase “Blackstone lawyers” came to be
used as synonymous with smatterers in law. But such criticism had a
professional ring, and perhaps in the end did the assailed author more
good than harm.

 [9] A second edition of Professor Cooley’s _Blackstone_ was published
 in Chicago last year.

If nowadays the name of Blackstone is held in diminished respect, the
fact is mainly due to the contempt poured upon him by Bentham and
Austin. They mercilessly exposed his shallow and confused philosophy.
Bentham, reviewing one by one his opinions on government, maintained
that they were not so much false as wholly meaningless; and Austin
declared that neither in the general conception, nor in the detail of
his book, is there a single particle of original and discriminating
thought. It is tainted throughout, said the one, with hostility to
reform; it was popular, said the other, because it “truckled to the
sinister interests and mischievous prejudices of power.” Austin found
nothing to praise even in its style, which, though fitted to tickle the
ear, seemed to him effeminate, rhetorical, and prattling, and not in
keeping with the dignity of the subject.

So long as his admirers could see no defects in his work, and his
critics were blind to its merits, judgments of Blackstone kept moving
along parallel lines, and never met. Standing at this distance of time,
when the _Commentaries_ have long lost the glitter of novelty, when we
have not Bentham’s cause for anger, and when nobody retains a belief in
the infallibility of Austin, it should be possible to treat Blackstone
more fairly than either his friends or his enemies have done. There are
signs that a juster estimate is now being formed, and the clearest of
these is the testimony of one who must know by his own experience what
were the difficulties which Blackstone surmounted. Sir James Stephen
admits that he was neither a profound nor an accurate thinker, that
he is often led to speak of English law in terms of absurd praise,
and that his arrangement of the subject is imperfect. But “the fact
still remains,” he says, “that Blackstone first rescued the law of
England from chaos. He did, and did exceedingly well, for the end of
the eighteenth century, what Coke tried to do, and did exceedingly ill,
about 150 years before; that is to say, he gave an account of the law
as a whole, capable of being studied, not only without disgust, but
with interest and profit.... A better work of the kind has not yet been
written, and, with all its defects, the literary skill, with which a
problem of extraordinary difficulty has been dealt with is astonishing.”

Few authors ever had a clearer field. Long before his day, indeed, the
immense growth of the law had been regarded as a heavy burden. Lawyers
groaned, just as they groan now, over the increasing accumulation
of statutes and reports. And yet Coke upon Littleton remained the
beginner’s chief guide. Coke called his work the _Institutes of the
Laws of England_; but, whatever its other merits, it lacks every
quality which the title would suggest. It is unsystematic, undigested;
it makes no pretence of leading its reader from principles to rules;
and it spares him the details of no curious anomaly. It is like an
overgrown treatise on the subjunctive mood. The need had long been
felt for a better work; and the broad outlines had been sketched by
Hale in his admirable _Analysis of the Civil Part of the Law_, which
Blackstone followed in every essential feature. Some treatises too had
appeared written with a purely educational purpose. Of these the most
successful, long recommended as an elementary text-book for students,
was the _Institutes_ of Wood, a Buckinghamshire clergyman. It was a
praiseworthy attempt to present the law in a methodical form, but it
lacked literary merit, and had all the dulness of an epitome. It is
memorable only as the book which the _Commentaries_ displaced.

Blackstone saw his opportunity. Perhaps no one else in his time
combined in the same degree the qualities which the work required;
nor was there any one so capable of writing a law-book, which could
be read with interest by educated laymen, and at the same time be
accepted as almost authoritative by practising lawyers. Blackstone’s
training enabled him to gain the ear of both; for he was not only a
lawyer, but a man of letters. His love of literature developed early,
and along with it a desire to win literary fame. He does not seem to
have read widely, but the pleasure which in his school days he derived
from Shakespeare and Milton, Pope and Addison, was dulled neither by
advancing years nor by the absorbing demands of the law. “The notes
which he gave me on Shakespeare,” said Malone, who used them in his
edition, “show him to have been a man of excellent taste and accuracy,
and a good critic.” He was something of a poet himself; but the
“Lawyer’s Farewell to his Muse,” the “Lawyer’s Prayer,” and the “Elegy
on the Death of the Prince of Wales,” though they have occasionally
been unearthed as curiosities, have long been swept away with other
rubbish of the kind. The following lines, which are his best, and in
which we feel the very spirit of the _Commentaries_, will not tempt
further even the most diligent seeker after neglected poets. Their
historical audacity would amaze Professor Freeman.

    ‘Oh, let me pierce the secret shade
    Where dwells the venerable maid!
    There humbly mark, with rev’rent awe,
    The guardian of Britannia’s Law,
    Unfold with joy her sacred page
    (Th’ united boast of many an age,
    Where mix’d yet uniform appears
    The wisdom of a thousand years)...
    Observe how parts with parts unite
    In one harmonious rule of right;
    See countless wheels distinctly tend
    By various laws to one great end;
    While mighty Alfred’s piercing soul
    Pervades and animates the whole.’

The Pope who was lost in Blackstone we can as easily spare as the
Ovid who was lost in Murray. Yet it was from that love of literature
to which his poetical compositions bear witness, perhaps in some
degree also from the enforced measure and restraint of verse, that he
acquired a style, which though it has not the freshness and variety of
Addison’s, its most direct model, has the same singular clearness and
almost the same ease and flow. By education, not by accident, did he
come to deserve Bentham’s one compliment that he it was who first, of
all institutional writers, taught jurisprudence to speak the language
of the scholar and the gentleman.

Beyond keeping up a certain interest in architecture, on which in early
youth he is said to have composed a treatise, Blackstone seldom allowed
himself to be diverted from a persevering and varied study of law. He
divided his time between Westminster and Oxford, and long remained
undecided whether he should finally settle in the law-courts or among
his books. While, with hardly any practice of his own, he was training
himself with unusual diligence, as his reports of cases testify, in the
practical part of his profession, he had it clearly before him that
law is not to be mastered by any one who neglects its history. “In my
apprehension,” he said, when he was a student, “the learning out of
use is as necessary as that of every day’s practice;” and he carried
out this belief by making the _Commentaries_ as much a history as an
exposition. Even more plainly than in his great work we can see in his
edition of _Magna Charta and the Charter of the Forest_ how unflagging
were his zeal and patience, and how minute his investigations. His
knowledge of general history may have been superficial, as Hallam said
it was; he may have had old-fashioned notions about Alfred the Great,
even though he does warn his readers against the tendency to ascribe
all imaginable things to that king; yet the _Commentaries_ contain
what, on the whole, is still the best history written in English of
English law.

The plan of the book had long been in his mind; he was indirectly
led to carry it out through an attempt of the Duke of Newcastle to
corrupt him. Lord Mansfield (then Mr. Murray) recommended him to the
chair of civil law at Oxford, which was vacant in 1756, but he lost
the appointment, according to report, because he was not hearty enough
in promising the duke support “whenever anything in the political
hemisphere is agitated in the university.” Murray, hearing of his
disappointment, advised him to lecture on his own account upon English
law. He took the advice; the novelty of the lectures and their ability
made them successful; and when the Vinerian chair of common law was
founded in 1758 he was appointed the first professor. Making hardly
any change in form, arrangement, or mode of treatment, as appears from
his notes which are still extant written in the neatest of hands, he
expanded the lectures into the _Commentaries_. But while he never
deviated from his original plan, his store of knowledge grew steadily
throughout the fourteen years which elapsed between his first private
lectures and the appearance of his work. When the question of _ex
officio_ informations was debated in the House of Lords in 1812, Lord
Ellenborough spoke of him as follows:—“Blackstone, when he compiled
his lectures, was comparatively an ignorant man; he was merely a
fellow of All Souls’ College, moderately skilled in the law! His true
and solid knowledge was acquired afterwards. He grew learned as he
proceeded with his work. It might be said of him, at the time he was
composing his book, that it was not so much his learning that made the
book, as it was the book that made him learned.” The _Commentaries_
were not, however, the work of a merely book-learned man; besides
his attendance in the courts as a spectator, Blackstone had enjoyed
several years of good practice before the first volume appeared; but
Ellenborough’s opinion is substantially sound. It is indeed one of
the striking facts about Blackstone that while as years went on his
mind gained little in breadth, and his fundamental ideas underwent no
change, he was able, by simple hard work and with abilities not by any
means the highest, to make himself at length one of the really learned
lawyers of his time. Several names might be mentioned which on special
lines of law stand far above his; but there was no one who rivalled
him in that extent of general knowledge which an institutional writer
must possess. The _Commentaries_ have won the peculiar distinction
of being quoted and of carrying weight in every political discussion
which raises questions of constitutional importance, and also of being
cited in our courts (though under protest from some rigid judges) as
only a little lower than that small group among our law-books which
have an inherent, and not merely a reflected, authority. We should do
Blackstone grievous wrong if from his popularity we assumed that his
knowledge was superficial.

Thus, both as lawyer and as man of letters, he was peculiarly fitted
for his work. Written with less literary skill, the _Commentaries_
would long ago have been forgotten; if his learning had been more
minute he would never have written them at all. A work which, partly
through favoring circumstances, but mainly through its merits, has
effected a real revolution in legal studies, is not to be dismissed by
saying that its philosophy is weak, and that it is hostile to reform.

There is certainly no profound nor much original thought in
Blackstone’s four volumes. Nobody was ever made better able to
comprehend a difficulty in English law by means of the notions on laws
in general to be found in that famous chapter, which, as Sir Henry
Maine puts it, may almost be said to have made Bentham and Austin into
jurists by virtue of sheer repulsion. They lead to nothing, and explain
nothing. They are rather the obeisances made by a polite professor to
his subject, or a lawyer’s invocation of his muse, than the necessary
foundations of a system. Blackstone repeats the venerable doctrine that
human laws depend on the law of nature and the law of revelation, and
that no laws are valid which conflict with these; but he never dares
to apply it to any rule of English law. And when he comes to speak
of parliament and monarchy, he has forgotten that odd proof of the
perfection of the British constitution, with its divine combination
of power, wisdom, and goodness, of which Bentham made such easy fun.
He does not so much as pretend to be original. He is so dependent on
others that he adopts not only their opinions but even their language,
and by no means always does he let us know that he is quoting. He
does not refer to Locke when he is stating, practically in Locke’s
words, the theory of the right of society to inflict punishment;
he never mentions the name of Burlamaqui, who was his guide, most
faithfully followed, in the analysis of laws in general; and he fails
to acknowledge half his obligations to Montesquieu.[10] Indeed, the
free use he makes of Montesquieu’s famous chapter on the English
constitution would be appalling, did we not remember that he was only
following a professional custom of appropriation, which legal authors
have not yet wholly abandoned. There is, in fact, scarcely a single
sentence of that chapter which has not, somewhere or other, found its
way into the _Commentaries_; and, as often as not, the Commentator
leaves us to infer that the reflections are his own.

 [10] Blackstone does not seem to have read either Burlamaqui or
 Montesquieu in French. He invariably uses the words of Nugent’s
 translations, which had then been recently published.

In estimating the value of Blackstone’s work, however, we should not
make too much of the fact that his general theories are either weak or
borrowed. The truth is that when we have got rid of them we have not
touched the substance of the work itself; his exposition of English
law remains unaffected, whether they be true or false. Moreover,
these same theories of his have a considerable indirect interest; for
as they afford us an opportunity of observing how, at a turning-point
in the history of modern thought, certain important ideas acted
upon an intellect, which, from its very want of independence and
courage, all the better reflected the common opinions of the time. His
philosophy exhibits the doctrine of the social contract in a state of
decay, and enables us to watch the English mind preparing itself for
utilitarianism.

Blackstone refuses to accept the social contract in its naked form; he
ridicules the notion of individuals meeting together on a large plain
to choose the tallest man present as their governor; and he traces the
growth of society upwards from the family living a pastoral life to the
settled agricultural community. His conception of social development
comes as near the current modern theories as that of any thinker of his
century, save Mandeville. But the social contract was too tempting to
be altogether abandoned. He speaks of it as a tacit agreement between
governor and governed, of protection on the one side and submission
on the other, and from this implied agreement he draws conclusions as
freely as if it were a historical fact. Stating Locke’s theory without
any qualification, he bases upon the contract (for he recurs to the
word) the right of society to punish crime. The laws under which
thieves suffer were made, he tells us, with their own consent. So he
says that the oath of allegiance is nothing more than a declaration
in words of what was before implied in law. And he justifies the
Revolution on the ground that King James had endeavored to subvert the
constitution by breaking the original contract. Believer as he is in
the law of nature, Blackstone is more than half a utilitarian. True,
he has based all law on both the natural and the revealed law; but by
a fortunate coincidence everything that tends to man’s happiness is
in accordance with the former. Except where the revealed law applies,
the actual rule of life is that man should pursue his own true and
substantial happiness. “This,” he says, “is the foundation of what
we call ethics or natural law.” Throughout the whole of his work
his tests are purely those of utility, and with his broad principles
of unbending orthodoxy he mingles theories, some of which the most
thoroughgoing utilitarian would think too bluntly stated. Repudiating
the notion of atonement or expiation, he maintains that punishment is
only a precaution against future offences. He treats property as an
adventitious right, unknown in the natural state; and to the amazement
of some of his editors he has the courage to face the logical result,
that theft is punished, not by any natural right, but only because it
is detrimental to society. It is a _malum prohibitum_, not a _malum
in se_. He goes so far as to say that where the law prohibits certain
acts under pecuniary penalties, the prohibition does not make the
transgression a moral offence, or sin, and that the only obligation in
conscience is to submit to the penalty. He affirms as a thing beyond
doubt that human laws have no concern with private vices. And he
professes to defend the measures which placed Catholics and Dissenters
under disabilities, not upon theological grounds, but simply because
all dissent is subversive of civil government. We may be sure that
Blackstone would not have spoken as he did if he had believed that
average men in his time would consider his doctrines offensive; and
taking him as an index of contemporary opinion, we can see that the
field was ready for Bentham.

Blackstone’s hostility to reform has a special interest. There
is, perhaps, no better example to be found in our literature of
the typical Englishman, who loves his country, who considers its
constitution the best constitution, its laws the best laws, and the
liberty which its citizens enjoy the completest liberty which the
world has known. He was conservative by circumstances and profession,
as well as by temperament. His opinions were formed at a time when
men lived politically at a lower level than they ever did before or
have done since. No bold reforming spirit could have grown up in the
Jacobite unrest of half a century, with the Whigs, to all appearance,
permanently seated in power, and desirous of showing that the party
of the Revolution was capable of moderation. There was no party of
progress. No clear line of principle divided Whigs from Tories; so
that it became a plausible thesis that they had exchanged positions.
There were, in short, no great ideals in the air, which could stimulate
to movement such a sluggish man as Blackstone. Perhaps some of his
conservatism was due to his profession. The instances are probably
rare of an English lawyer, with either extensive practice or great
learning, who, on questions of personal liberty, whether of religion or
of speech or of trade, has stood far in advance of the average opinion
of his age. The profession tends to foster conservatism. The habit of
deciding by precedents and usage is not to be shaken off when the mind
turns from law to politics; and the men who declared that the common
law is the perfection of reason, and who thought that it savored of
profanity to speak disrespectfully of common recoveries, could not be
expected to doubt the excellence of the British constitution or the
necessity of Catholic disabilities. Something, too, must be allowed for
the influence of a training which both narrows the scope of reasoning,
and within the narrower limits makes it close and unbroken. A mind so
schooled will naturally shrink from the gaps in evidence which the
innovator must boldly face and overstep. May we not in the same way
explain the alleged conservatism of men of science?

The main theme of Blackstone’s teaching is that of contentment with
a constitution which to him seemed as nearly perfect as any work of
man can be. “Of a constitution,” he says, “so wisely contrived, so
strongly raised, and so highly finished, it is hard to speak with
that praise which is justly and severely its due: the thorough and
attentive contemplation of it will furnish its best panegyric. It has
all the elements of stability; for by a graduated scale of dignity
from the peasant to the prince, it rises like a pyramid from a broad
foundation, diminishing to a point as it rises. It is this ascending
and contracting proportion” he says, with the law of gravitation in
his mind, “that adds stability to any government.” “All of us have it
in our choice,”these are Blackstone’s words, “to do everything that
a good man would desire to do; and are restrained from nothing, but
what would be pernicious either to ourselves or our fellow-citizens.”
He does not, however, mean us to accept this statement too literally.
He allows that the constitution has faults—“lest we should be tempted
to think it of more than human structure”—and he is careful to tell us
what he means when he says that this or that institution is perfect.
As the expounder and historian of English law, he uses words of higher
praise than he would do if he wrote as a politician. He feels that he
is dealing with the spirit of laws, and that it is not his business to
consider every change of circumstances which may have impaired their
efficiency. To point out each defect, or to suggest ways of amendment,
would, moreover, have been alien from the purpose of a work in which
he sought to interpret the laws and to teach respect for them; and
therefore he does not guard himself against exaggeration, sharing the
opinion of Burke, that we only lessen the authority of the constitution
if we circulate among the people a notion that it is not so perfect
as it might be, before we are sure of mending it. He has in his mind
the idea of a theoretical perfection not incompatible with practical
injustice. In a well-known passage he says that _by the law_ as it
stood in the time of Charles II., “the people had as large a portion
of real liberty as is consistent with a state of society,” naming the
year 1679 as the point of time at which he would fix what he calls
the _theoretical_ perfection of our public law; and yet he observes
that “the years which immediately followed it were times of great
_practical_ oppression.”[11] This is in substance the view of Burke
when he says that the machine is well enough for the purpose, provided
the materials were sound. Indeed there is scarcely one of Blackstone’s
thoughts on politics and government which may not be paralleled
in the writings and speeches of Burke. They were agreed that our
representative system was practically perfect; that religious dissent
is subversive of civil government; and that the people were bound by
their original contract to a scheme of government fundamentally and
inviolably fixed on king, lords, and commons. Burke was among the first
to read and admire the _Commentaries_; and had Blackstone lived ten
years longer he would have read the _Reflections on the Revolution in
France_, and applauded every word. We might describe him, in fact, as a
Burke with the genius left out.

 [11] This is Fox’s comment on the passage:—“How vain, then, how idle,
 how presumptuous is the opinion that laws can do everything! and how
 weak and pernicious the maxim founded upon it, that measures, not men,
 are to be attended to!”

Over Blackstone’s mind the antiquity of the constitution exercised a
potent spell. The retrospective imagination, as it has been called,
made him regard with reverence institutions that reach back to a time
whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. The parliament
and the monarchy, the sheriff, the corner, and trial by jury, seemed
to be less the work of man’s hands than to partake of the dignity and
immutability of the laws of nature; and the sense of trivial anomalies
was lots in the veneration which he felt for a system of laws embodying
in unbroken continuity the wisdom of a thousand years. It is not an
unworthy emotion. There are few, let us hope, who have never been
stirred by reflecting on the growth of that English liberty, which
finds splendid voice in the prose of Milton, and whose presence, with
“its gallery of portraits, its monumental inscriptions, its records,
evidences, and titles,” glows in every line of Burke. On its practical
side the emotion may be healthy or may be baneful. We call him the
crudest of politicians who never reflects that our laws have grown with
the people, that they contain the experience of a nation, and are not
the paper schemes of clever theorists, and that they are surrounded
by traditions which no convulsion ever swept away and which give them
half their strength. It is this that a greater lawyer than Blackstone
meant when he said that time is the wisest thing in the inferior world.
But to timid natures antiquity becomes the proof, and not merely the
evidences of excellence; so that the mind is led to make a severance
between the past and the present, and while respecting the constitution
as a thing of gradual growth to forget that the growth continues.
Blackstone’s whole nature was affected by this illusion of distance. It
distorted alike his historical beliefs and his practical judgments. It
made him maintain, as Bolingbroke did, that our liberties are but the
restoration of the ancient constitution of which our Saxon forefathers
were deprived by the policy and force of the Normans. To Montesquieu’s
opinion that as Rome, Sparta, and Carthage lost their liberties, so
those of England must in time perish, it made him give the naïve reply
that Rome, Sparta, and Carthage, at the time when their liberties
were lost, were strangers to trial by jury. It made him spend all his
ingenuity in defending the rule of descent which excluded kinsmen of
the half-blood. And it was the chief cause of the contempt which,
like Coke, he had for statute law. Though he never ventures to say
so in plain terms, as his predecessors did with something more than
rhetorical belief, yet at heart he is convinced that the common law is
the perfection of reason.

Yet to represent Blackstone’s mind as absolutely stationary would
be unjust; for now and again he puts forward a gentle suggestion of
improvement. He draws attention to defects in the system of trial
by jury, and makes several excellent proposals for its amendment.
He even anticipates the legislation of our own day when he points
out that our laws are faulty in not constraining parents to bestow a
proper education on their children. He recognises the possibility of
a change in political representation, which would admit the people to
a somewhat larger share; and it is doubtless on the strength of that
mild admission that Major Cartwright included him in the list of men
conversant with public affairs who had expressed themselves in favor
either of a fair representation or of short parliaments. The criminal
law seemed to him very far from perfect. Within his own lifetime it
had been made a capital crime to break down the mound of a fish-pond
whereby any fish should escape, or to cut down a cherry-tree in an
orchard. These laws would never have been passed, he says, with a
confidence which it is not easy to share, if, as was usual with private
bills in his days, public bills had been first referred to some of
the learned judges for their consideration. It was still felony
without benefit of clergy to be seen for one month in the company of
the persons called Egyptians. He believed that this would not have
continued, if a committee were appointed at least once in a hundred
years to revise the criminal law—a proposal which his friend Daines
Barrington made about the same time and worked out in some detail.

His conservatism, or, to give it the harsher name, his hostility to
reform, was in great part due to timidity and insufficient knowledge
of the world. He was a shy and reserved man, whose life was divided
between one kind of narrowness at Westminster, and another kind of
narrowness at Oxford. He was shut off from the real life of England.
Among his books, which taught him that the state should foster trade,
he could know only by hearsay of the new industrial movement then
beginning to transform the country, and destined soon to sweep away the
absurdities which he upheld, such as the innumerable attempts to fix
the rate of wages, the navigation laws, and the statute of Charles II.,
commanding the people to bury their dead in wool. The very fact that
he does not suggest a compromise between restriction of trade and its
freedom, leads one to infer that he had never seriously thought about
the question. Only with regard to apprenticeship does he mention that
a doubt could exist, and then he refrains from giving a clear opinion.
Amid the Toryism of Oxford, where he had seen students expelled for
Methodists, Blackstone was hardly likely to understand what toleration,
much less what religious freedom, meant. He deprecated persecution,
once indeed he uses with unwonted energy the phrase “dæmon of
persecution,”[12] but it is rather under the impulse of a mild humanity
than from any trust in the people or any large love of liberty.
When a strong protest was raised by Dr. Priestley and Dr. Furneaux
against his account of the laws relating to Protestant Dissenters,
whom almost in so many words he called dangerous citizens, he seems
to have been quite surprised at the attack. He wrote a pamphlet in
reply to Priestley, explaining that his aim had been to expound the
law not justify it, which was not quite accurate, and declaring that
he was all for tolerance; and he went so far as to expunge the most
obnoxious sentence, and to give in subsequent editions a fuller and
somewhat fairer account of the law. Even in its final form the passage
is not worthy of one who was speaking from a position of really high
authority, which should have induced judicial calmness. “They have
made him sophisticate,” said Bentham, referring to Priestley’s and
Furneaux’s attack; “they have made him even expunge; but all the
doctors in the world, I doubt, would not bring him to confession.”
Yet it is not so much utter illiberality of nature that the passage
suggests as simple inexperience, and his fixed belief that truth must
always be a compromise. He was but echoing the opinion commonly held by
churchmen in his time, an opinion which he had never tested by contact
with the people.

 [12] He is referring, however, to persecution on the Continent and by
 the Pope.

He had an opportunity of gaining experience as a politician, but
in the House of Commons he learned nothing, and succeeded only in
tarnishing his legal reputation. He entered it in 1762, and sat first
for the rotten borough of Hindon, and afterwards for Westbury till
1770. For the first six years his name scarcely ever occurs in the
debates. The only fact, indeed, known of this part of his political
life, is a proposal which he made when the repeal of the Stamp Act was
carried, that “it should not be of force in any colony where any votes,
resolves, or acts had passed derogatory to the honor or authority
of Parliament, until such votes, etc., were erased or taken off the
records,” The second stage of the Wilkes case, after the elections
of 1768, raised him to an unfortunate notoriety. Every circumstance
combined to make Blackstone the most bitter of Wilkes’s opponents. He
had committed himself to strong opinions on the absolute supremacy
of Parliament; he was solicitor-general to the Queen; he was shocked
at Wilkes’s blasphemy; and Lord Mansfield had been maligned. He
had only one moment of merely formal hesitation. When De Grey, the
Attorney-General moved that the comments on Lord Weymouth’s letter were
an insolent, scandalous, and seditious libel, Blackstone argued that
the courts were open, and that the House of Commons was not the place
to try the question. The other acts of the persecution had his complete
approval. He himself took the lead in moving that the charge against
Lord Mansfield was “an audacious aspersion on the said Chief Justice;”
he advocated the expulsion of Wilkes; he supported the motion which
declared that Wilkes being expelled was incapable of sitting in the
existing Parliament; and he delivered an able speech, in which he put
forth all his strength, in favor of the validity of Colonel Luttrell’s
election. He was rash enough in that speech to give it as his firm and
unbiassed opinion that the law and custom of Parliament on a matter of
privilege is part of the common law, that the House had acted according
to that law and custom, and that Wilkes was therefore disqualified by
common law from sitting as a member of Parliament. He paid heavily for
his “firm and unbiassed opinion.” In the _Commentaries_ he had given
what was, no doubt, intended to be a complete list of the causes of
disqualification; and none of them applied to Wilkes. Twice during
the remainder of the debate, first by Mr. Seymour and afterwards by
Grenville, “the gentle shepherd,” was this passage effectively turned
against him. “It is well known,” according to Junius, “that there was
a pause of some minutes in the House, from a general expectation that
the doctor would say something in his own defence; but it seems, his
faculties were too much overpowered to think of those subtleties and
refinements which have since occurred to him.” A paper war ensued in
which Junius, Sir W. Jones, Dr. Johnson, and Blackstone himself took
part. In an anonymous pamphlet, betraying its author, as Junius said,
by “its personal interests, personal resentments, and above all that
wounded spirit, unaccustomed to reproach, and, I hope, not frequently
conscious of deserving it,” Blackstone clung tenaciously and almost
angrily to his opinion, which he stated even more emphatically than he
had done in the House of Commons. There he expressly refrained from
saying whether expulsion necessarily involves incapacity; in his reply
to “the writer in the public press, who subscribes himself Junius,”
he said as expressly that incapacity is the necessary consequence of
expulsion. He retracted nothing. Sincere, no doubt, in his belief
that it was Wilkes the blasphemer, not Wilkes the demagogue, whom he
had helped to expel and incapacitate, he still held that the House of
Commons had acted not only legally but wisely. He gave a pledge of his
conviction by repairing the omission in his book. In its subsequent
editions appears, as if it were a well settled rule, the statement that
if a person is made a peer or elected to serve in the House of Commons,
the respective Houses of Parliament may upon complaint of any crime in
such person, and proof thereof, adjudge him disabled and incapable to
sit as a member. His earlier statement of the law, however, was not
forgotten, and “the first edition of Dr. Blackstone’s _Commentaries
on the Laws of England_” is said to have become a toast at Opposition
banquets. Nobody has now any doubt that Blackstone was in the wrong,
confounding, as was pointed out at the time, the independence of the
several parts of the legislature with the authority of the whole.
His tenacity and the prestige of his name gave him the support of
his party; but before long, had he lived, he would have suffered the
mortification of seeing the House of Commons expunge from its journals
all the declarations, orders, and resolutions respecting the election
of John Wilkes, Esquire, as “subversive of the rights of the whole body
of the electors of this kingdom.”

Having failed as a politician, he was made a judge. He sat on the bench
from 1770 till his death in 1780, and he left behind him the reputation
of having striven to administer justice with scrupulous care. He was
certainly not a great judge. He was cursed with indecision; he was
diffident of his own opinion, and never strenuous in supporting it; and
in consequence, if we can trust Malone’s account of him, “there were
more new trials granted in causes which came before him on circuit than
were granted on the decisions of any other judge who sat at Westminster
in his time.” The habit of mind which in private life produced in him
almost a mania for punctuality made him as a judge a strict observer of
forms; and he would not have consented, even if he had been able, to
make and modify law as did his contemporary, Lord Mansfield. The time
was pre-eminently favorable for earning a great judicial reputation;
the law, impeded by fictions, formalities, and obsolete statutes,
lagged behind a nation whose commerce had increased more than tenfold
within living memory; and public opinion would have dealt leniently
with a judge who shaped the old rules to satisfy the new needs. But
Blackstone had not the courage for such work; and, save for the case of
_Perrin_ v. _Blake_, one might well tell the legal history of the ten
years which he spent on the bench and never mention his name. _Perrin_
v. _Blake_ is too technical to be here described; enough to say that it
maintained inviolate the venerable rule in Shelley’s case, with which
Lord Mansfield had been profanely tampering. The case excited great
interest in the profession, partly from its own importance and partly
from some personal controversies to which it gave rise. Lord Campbell,
indeed, writing more than seventy years after it had been decided, says
that when conversation flags amongst lawyers the mention of _Perrin_ v.
_Blake_ never fails to cause excitement and loquacity!

The politician and the judge are forgotten now, and only the
commentator remains. But his life was consistent throughout. He had a
reverence for authority and a respect for formalities; his mind turned
more readily to apology than to criticism; and destitute of ideals
he lived in a narrow groove, contented with himself and the world.
When he and Serjeant Nares were calling for the expulsion of Wilkes
because he was a blasphemer, Burke described their arguments as “solid,
substantial, roast-beef reasoning.” The phrase paints to the life the
worshipper of the constitution, who staked the fate of England upon
trial by jury.—_Macmillan’s Magazine._



LITERARY NOTICES.


 JELLY-FISH, STAR-FISH AND SEA-URCHINS (International Scientific
 Series). BEING A RESEARCH INTO PRIMITIVE NERVOUS SYSTEMS. By G. J.
 Romanes, M.A., LL.D., F.R.S., etc. New York: _D. Appleton & Co._

Mr. G. J. Romanes, one of the most distinguished of living English
scientists, and a worthy follower in the track of Darwin, has given
the world in his study of the lowest forms of animal life a book of
great interest to the general reader who is interested in scientific
matter. At first glance the line of research followed might not seem
particularly engaging except to the professional student, but one
hardly dips into the book without finding his attention aroused and
stimulated. The poetic enthusiasm with which Mr. Romanes introduces the
subject quickly finds a response in the mind of the reader. He writes:

“Among the most beautiful, as well as the most common, of the marine
animals which are to be met with upon our coasts, are the jelly-fish
and the star-fish. Scarcely anyone is so devoid of the instincts either
of the artist or of the naturalist as not to have watched these animals
with blended emotions of the æsthetic and the scientific—feeling the
beauty while wondering at the organization. How many of us who live
for most of the year in the fog and dust of large towns enjoy with the
greater zest our summer’s holiday at the seaside? And in the memories
of most of us is there not associated with the picture of breaking
waves and sea-birds floating indifferently in the blue sky, or on the
water still more blue, the thoughts of many a ramble among the weedy
rocks and living pools, where, for the time being, we all become
naturalists, and where those who least know what they are likely to
find in their search are most likely to approach the keen happiness of
childhood? If so, the image of the red sea-stars bespangling a mile
of shining sand, or decorating the darkness of a thousand grottoes,
must be joined with the image, no less vivid, of those crystal globes,
pulsating with life and gleaming with all the colors of the rainbow,
which are perhaps the most strange, and certainly in my estimation the
most delicately lovely creatures in the world.

“It is with these two kinds of creatures that the present work is
concerned, and, if it seems almost impious to lay the ‘forced fingers
rude’ of science upon living things of such exquisite beauty, let it be
remembered that our human nature is not so much out of joint that the
rational desire to know is incompatible with the emotional impulse to
admire. Speaking for myself, I can testify that my admiration of the
extreme beauty of these animals has been greatly enhanced—or rather I
should say that this extreme beauty has been, so to speak, revealed—by
the continuous and close observation which many of my experiments
required: both with the unassisted eye and with the microscope
numberless points of detail, unnoticed before, became familiar to the
mind; the forms as a whole were impressed upon the memory; and, by
constantly watching their movements and changes of appearance, I have
grown, like an artist studying a face or a landscape, to appreciate a
fulness of beauty, the esse of which is only rendered possible by the
_percipi_ of such attention as is demanded by scientific research.
Moreover, association, if not the sole creator, is at least a most
important factor of the beautiful; and therefore the sight of one
of these animals is now much more to me, in the respects which we
are considering, than it can be to anyone in whose memory it is not
connected with many days of that purest form of enjoyment which can
only be experienced in the pursuit of science.”

No matter how interesting investigation into any set of natural
phenomena may be, probably none is more attractive than a study of
primitive nervous systems. Alike in the survey of the whole of the
animal kingdom and in the study of the development of any individual
form there are certain broad truths evident. First among these may be
mentioned the significant fact that the nervous system of all animals
originates from some of the cells of that layer of the body which was
originally the outermost. This is the lesson taught by nature that the
prime necessity of living organisms is a knowledge of the outer world,
and that the most sensitive and important system of organs primarily
stands in a direct relation to the outer world. The investigations of
Leuckart, Haeckel, Oscar and Richard Hertwig, and Prof. Schafer fully
established the fact as to the origin of nerve fibres and sense-cells
from the outer layer of the body, and as to the primitively diffused
disposition of the central nervous system. This was first observed of
the jelly-fish, but subsequent investigation proved it also to be the
case with star-fish, sea-urchins and all the forms of echinoderms.
Haeckel, in 1860, showed that the eyes of the star-fishes are nothing
more than elongated epithelial cells provided with pigments, and
throughout life quite superficial in position.

Though Mr. Romanes gives a succinct account of the authentic
conclusions reached by other students in this line of scientific
research, his book is mostly devoted to his own investigations.
He makes a great many curious observations as to the habits and
characteristics of the classes of animals of which he treats, beside
giving a very complete account of their physiology and morphology. The
work is fully illustrated with cuts, and though it may seem at first to
bristle with technical matter, the reader will speedily find himself
interested in the studies and conclusions of the author.


 ORIGIN OF CULTIVATED PLANTS (International Scientific Series).
 By Alphonse de Candolle, Foreign Associate Academie of Sciences,
 Institute of France, Foreign Member of the Royal Societies of London,
 Edinburgh and Dublin, etc., etc. New York: _D. Appleton & Co._

M. De Candolle’s “Origin of Cultivated Plants” (No. 48 of the
International Scientific Series) is a work calculated certainly to
arouse the attention of agriculturists, botanists, and others aside
from those interested in the dawnings of civilization from the
historical or philosophical standpoint. The labors of both father and
son in this field have made the name of De Candolle distinguished in
science as worthy successors of Linnæus, and thirty years’ labor in
the field of geographical botany have wrought results of the most
important kind. There are few plants which are not adequately discussed
in this book in spite of the fact that, owing to the great number of
varieties which long cultivation has produced, and the remoteness of
time when they were first reclaimed from nature, great difficulties
are offered to any correct history of their origin. The author combats
the erroneous opinions promulgated so widely by Linnæus, who, in spite
of his greatness, oftentimes took things too much on trust. Many of
these mistakes dated back to the times of the Greeks and Romans,
and certainly it was time that some adequate hand should attempt a
correction. The data of correction have been drawn from data of varied
character, some of which is quite recent and even unpublished, and all
of which has been sifted as men sift evidence in historical research.
The author claims that, in spite of all the difficulties in his way,
he has been able to determine the origin of almost all the species,
sometimes with absolute certainty, sometimes with a very high degree of
probability.

Some plants cultivated for more than two thousand years are not now
known in a spontaneous state. This can be accounted for on one of
these two hypotheses; either these plants, since history has begun,
have changed so entirely in form in their wild as well as in their
cultivated condition that they are no longer recognized as belonging
to the same species, or they are extinct species. In case they are
extinct, this extinction must have taken place of course during the
short period (scientifically speaking) of a few hundred centuries,
on continents where they might have spread, and under circumstances
which are commonly considered unvarying. This shows how the history
of cultivated plants is allied to the most important problems of the
general history of organized beings. The study of plants by our author
is divided into those cultivated for their subterranean parts, such as
roots, tubercles or bulbs; those cultivated for their stems or leaves;
those cultivated for their flowers or for the organs which envelop
them; those cultivated for their fruits, and those cultivated for
their seeds. In the process of investigation we readily observe that
De Candolle, who appears a master of the tools of research in every
branch of study, has not only used botanical resources, but those of
history and of travel, of archæology, pæleontology, and of philology.
The wealth of learning lavished by the author on his work is sometimes
almost bewildering. One of the most striking results of the author’s
researches is that certain species are extinct or are fast becoming
extinct since the historical epoch, and that not on small islands,
but on vast continents without any great modifications of climate.
M. De Candolle tells us that in the history of cultivated plants he
has noticed no trace of communication between the peoples of the
old and new worlds before the discovery of America by Columbus. The
Scandinavians, who had pushed their excursions as far as the north of
the United States, and the Basques of the Middle Ages, who followed
whales perhaps as far as America, do not seem to have transported
a single species. Neither has the Gulf Stream produced any effect.
Between America and Asia, two transports of useful plants, perhaps,
took place, the one by man (the batata, or sweet potato), the other by
the agency of man or of the sea (the cocoanut palm).


 THE ADVENTURES OF TIMIAS TERRYSTONE. A Novel. By O. B. Bunce. New
 York: _D. Appleton & Co._

Mr. Bunce, the author of several charmingly written works of the
essay character, among which may be mentioned “Bachelor Bluff,” “My
House an Ideal,”etc., again challenges the critical attention of the
intelligent reading public, in a form this time which will command
wider interest—the novel. The “Adventures of Timias Terrystone”
is in no sense a romance; it is not a story of action, or in the
least melodramatic; it is not in any wide or deep sense a novel of
character, though the personages have well-marked individualities and
act consistently with them. So far as the actual life depicted is
concerned, the story glides pleasantly over the surface of things, not
professing or caring to deal with the more deep and startling issues
of life, but touching the facts of every-day happening with a light
and graceful hand, and showing a very keen sensibility to the fresh
and lovely aspects of youth. The hero is a young artist who, being a
waif, did not know his own parentage, and being brought up in a very
unconventional way, disdains even at the last, when he discovers his
ancestry, all pride of birth and family. The adventures of the youthful
painter, though chiefly of an amatory character, as his great personal
beauty and freshness of character appear to exercise a great charm
over the other sex, are manifold, and both interesting and amusing,
he being a more refined and purer Gil Blas. But we doubt whether the
main interest will be found in the mere story, though novel-readers
will not go amiss of genuine enjoyment in this way. In the mouth of
one of the characters, a bluff, easy-going, wandering Bohemian, our
author places a great number of keen, incisive, critical, or eloquent
observations, as the case may be. These thoughts are so full of pith
that they can hardly fail to be widely quoted, and our readers will not
have to draw on their good nature to pardon us if we give them some of
these well-spiced plums: “A man who goes through the world with his
eyes open learns something at every step; but one who immerses himself
in a library simply converts himself into a catalogue.... What are
reading and writing, anyway, but a prejudice of society? Do men get
more character, more self-reliance, greater capacity for dealing with
the problems of life, by filtering through the brain the dreams of the
poets and the philosophers? I tell you that when our boys should be
scouring through the woods, rolling down-hill, scaling the mountains,
making themselves splendid young Apollos, we shut them up in a deadly
school-room, which soon drives the color out of their cheeks, vigor
out of their limbs, pluck out of their hearts, and snap out of their
brains. Civilization is a bundle of absurdities—it is worse, it is a
upas-tree, that is fast poisoning the race.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“‘Men fall in love, they say, with beauty, with goodness, with
gentleness, with intellectual qualities, with a sweet voice, with a
smile, with an agreeable manner, with a lovable disposition, with many
ascertainable and measurable things, and yet we find them continually
falling in love with women who are not beautiful, nor good, nor wise,
nor gentle, nor possessing any ascertainable or measurable thing.
You’ll find a hundred reasons given for falling in love, or being in
love, and rarely the right reason—which is commonly simply because
a man cannot help it.... The philosophy of the thing is just here—a
woman’s eye glances, or her lips smile, or her neck is white and well
turned, or she has a pretty hand, or she flutters a fan gracefully,
or she looks sympathetic, or she beckons, or some other trifle as
light as gossamer, as valueless as a mote in the sun, as much without
significance as the fall of a leaf, and the man is subdued, and
immediately he begins to declare that the woman is lovely, when she
is not; that she is gentle and good, when anyone can see the shrew
in her eye; that she is wise and capable, when she is as perverse as
a donkey, and as empty as an abandoned shell on the seashore; and so
goes on manufacturing qualities and attributes for her out of air. To
satisfy his judgment he creates an ideal, and tries with all his might
to persuade himself there are good reasons for his passion—and so there
are, but they are not written down in the catalogue of attractions. He
is in love because a mysterious force of nature has touched him. The
woman may be unbeautiful, heartless, selfish, cruel, untrue, coarse,
frivolous, empty, but if the magic of nature—something of the magic, I
suspect, that Puck used on the eyes of Titania—touches him, he sees not
one of these things in their true aspect. Yes, the Titanias that have
fallen in love with men crowned with donkey-heads, and the men that
have fallen in love with serpents, thinking them doves, are many—and
all because of a diabolism, or a mystic fury in nature that delights
in bringing incongruous elements together for the sake of a dance of
delirium.’”

       *       *       *       *       *

“‘The reason why the world is as bad as it is, is because it has been
lectured so much. Denunciation has never improved the morals of the
world since the days of Jeremiah to the present hour. Many men are
better for reading Emerson—none are better for reading Carlyle; in
fact, the influence of your picturesque scold like Carlyle is to make
fault-finding look like a virtue, and make people imagine that, if they
are only vehement enough in denouncing other people’s sins, they will
thereby clear their skirts of their own. It is the vice of a certain
kind of piety that it is forever plunged into the deepest concern about
other people’s iniquities. Your devout Catholic goes to church to
confess his sins; your acrimonious Puritan goes to church to confess
other people’s sins.’”

       *       *       *       *       *

“‘And too often their own virtues,’ said Mary.

“‘Let us not imitate the censorious spirit in judging of him, for
there is a great deal of good in his class, but believe firmly
that denunciation cures nothing. There ought to be organized an
anti-scolding league.’

“‘Of women?’ asked Mary, smiling.

“‘I am compelled to confess,’ said Philip, that the number of Jeremiahs
in the world has been—excessive! And all the time your sex is so full
of gentleness and sympathy! Perhaps the abominable doings of the
men have been too much for their patience, and that we deserve the
rating we get. But while we deserve it, that is not the way to reform
us—we will succumb to your kindly words much sooner than to your
objurgations.’...

“‘If there were not a censorious and fault-finding Mrs. Grundy, one
very important restraint on people would be removed,’ remarked young
Studley.

“‘See how old notions survive!’ exclaimed Philip. ‘The world must be
driven and whipped, in order that it may be tractable and proper. Hang
a thief, and you will stop stealing; drown a scold, and you will stop
scolding; storm at a child, and he will grow up virtuous! But, you
see, no body of people has ever tried my plan, and hence you know how
the old whip and penalty method has worked, but you do not know how
the moral and sympathetic dispensary plan will operate. For my part, I
believe in human nature, and I am convinced that a plan that works well
in a narrow circle would obey the same laws in a larger circle. But
shall there not be a truce to philosophy?’”

We appeal to our readers if these quotations do not inspire an appetite
for more. For our part, we have rarely found more mellow, yet pungent
wisdom put in more agreeable form. Certainly the Bohemian, Philip,
reminds us very strongly of another personage, considerably in the
mouths of the reading public not very long since, Bachelor Bluff.


 THE SECRET OF DEATH. FROM THE SANSCRIT. WITH SOME SELECTED POEMS. By
 Edwin Arnold, M.A., author of “The Light of Asia,” “Pearls of the
 Faith,”“Indian Idylls,” etc. Boston: _Roberts Brothers_.

The leading poem, from which this collection takes its title, is an
adaptation from the first three books of a celebrated Sanscrit poem,
the “Katha Upanishad.” The scene as described at the beginning of the
poem is in a temple beside the river Moota Moola, near the city of
Poona, and here a Brahmin priest and an English Sahib read together
from the manuscript, the learned Brahmin commenting as his English
pupil recites from the poem. The thread of motive may be briefly
described: Gautama for love of heaven gave all he had to the poor.
He had given all, and at last gave his son, Nachikêtas, to Yama, the
God of Death, the last gift he had remaining. The youth, who had been
trained in the highest holiness, went humbly to the abode of Yama, the
King of Death, where he remained three days before the god came. When
at last Yama came, he found that a holy Brahmin had waited for him
three days, and to atone for this he promised him three wishes before
he should die. Nachikêtas asked for three things: that his father
should be comforted for his loss; that he should reach the abodes of
heaven without first passing through the purgation of hell. Then he
asks the third boon of Yama:

    “‘There is this doubt,’ young Nachikêtas said:
    ‘Thou dost give peace—is that peace Nothingness?
    Some say that after death the soul still lives,
    Personal, conscious; some say, Nay, it ends!
    Fain would I know which of these twain be true,
    By thee enlightened. Be my third boon this.’
    Then Yama answered, ‘This was asked of old,
    Even by the gods! This is a subtle thing,
    Not to be told, hard to be understood!
    Ask me some other boon: I may not grant!
    Choose wiser, Nachikêtas; force me not
    To quit this debt—release me from my bond!’
    Then, still again spake Nachikêtas: ‘Ay!
    The gods have asked this question; but, O Death!
    Albeit thou sayest it is a subtle thing,
    Not to be told, hard to be understood,
    Yet know I none can answer like to thee,
    And no boon like to this abides to ask.
    I crave this boon!’”

Yama tries to evade the fulfilment of this request. He will give the
petitioner any and all things, but this he would not answer, if he
could help.

    “‘Choose,’ spake he, ‘sons and grandsons, who shall, thrive
    A hundred years: choose for them countless herds—
    Elephants, horses, gold! Carve out thy lands
    In kingdoms for them. Nay, or be thyself
    A king again on earth, reigning as long
    As life shall satisfy. And, further, add
    Unto these gifts whatever else thou wilt.
    Health, wisdom, happiness—the rule of the world,
    And I will fill the cup of thy desires!
    Whatso is hard to gain and dear to keep
    In the eyes of men, ask it of me, and have!
    Beautiful, fond companions, fair as those
    That ride the cars of Indra, singing sweet
    To instruments of heavenly melody,
    Lovelier than mortal eye hath gazed upon:
    Have these, have heaven within their clinging arms!
    I give them—I give all; save this one thing;
    Ask not of Death what cometh after death!’”

At last, in compliance with persistent solicitation, the dread god
yields, and in his answer is contained the highest and subtlest
teaching of Indian philosophy. A short passage will sufficiently
indicate its character, for it is impossible within any brief compass
to clearly elucidate the mysteries placed in Yama’s mouth:

    “‘If he that slayeth thinks “I slay;” if he
    Whom he doth slay, thinks “I am slain,”—then both
    Know not aright! That which was life in each
    Cannot be slain, nor slay!
                              “‘The untouched Soul,
    Greater than all the worlds [because the worlds
    By it subsist]; smaller than subtleties
    Of things minutest; last of ultimates,
    Sits in the hollow heart of all that lives!
    Whoso hath laid aside desire and fear,
    His senses mastered, and his spirit still,
    Sees in the quiet light of verity
    Eternal, safe, majestical—HIS SOUL!
        “‘Resting, it ranges everywhere! asleep,
    It roams the world, unsleeping! Who, save I,
    Know that divinest spirit, as it is,
    Glad beyond joy, existing outside life?
        “‘Beholding it in bodies bodiless,
    Amid impermanency permanent,
    Embracing all things, yet i’ the midst of all,
    The mind, enlightened, casts its grief away!
        “‘It is not to be known by knowledge! man
    Wotteth it not by wisdom! learning vast
    Halts short of it! Only by soul itself
    Is soul perceived—when the Soul wills it so!
    There shines no light save its own light to show
    Itself unto itself!
                             “‘None compasseth
    Its joy who is not wholly ceased from sin,
    Who dwells not self-controlled, self-centred—calm,
    Lord of himself! It is not gotten else!
    Brahm hath it not to give!’”

It need hardly be said that such a poem as this, though not of a
character to be enjoyed by those who read verse simply for its sensuous
charm or its dramatic and narrative pictures, will yield fruit for
interesting reflection to more thoughtful minds.

The other poems in the volume are of a lighter character. Among those
specially noticeable are the three Hindu songs, the pastoral poem,
“Neucia,” translated from the Italian of the great Florentine ruler,
Lorenzo de Medici, who, if he destroyed the liberties of his city,
raised it to its highest place in literary and art glory, as also in
commercial and political power; “The Epic of the Lion;” “The Wreck of
the Northern Belle;”and “Amadis of Gaul to Don Quixote de La Mancha,”
The latter, which is from the Spanish, is a little gem:

    “Thou who did’st imitate the mournful manner
      Of my most lonely and despised Life,
    And—leaving joy for suffering and strife—
      Upon the bare hillside did’st pitch thy banner!
    Thou whose unshamed eyes with tears oft ran over—
      Salt dripping tears—when giving up all proper
    Vessels of use, silver and tin and copper,
      Thou atest earth’s herbs on the earth, a woful dinner—
    Rest thou content, Sir Knight! Ever and ever,
      Or at the least whilst through the hemispheres
    Golden Apollo drives his glittering mares—
      Famous and praised shall be thy high endeavor!
    Thy land of birth the glory of all nations,
      Thy chroniclers the crown of reputation.”

The volume, on the whole, very well sustains Edwin Arnold’s growing
reputation as one of the first half dozen of the contemporary English
poets.


 GREATER LONDON: A NARRATIVE OF ITS HISTORY, ITS PEOPLE, AND ITS
 PLACES. By Edward Walford, M.A., joint Author of “Old and New London.”
 Illustrated with Numerous Engravings. Vol. II. London, Paris, and New
 York: _Cassell & Co., Limited_.

Mr. Walford’s reputation needs no exploitation in the line of work
which he has followed, just as good wine needs no bush. He has
done much to embalm the literary and historic glory of London and
its environs in the past, and the present volume, which completes
“Greater London,” is no less interesting than its predecessors. All
the celebrated and interesting spots in the vicinity of London, their
traditions, history, personal and literary associations, etc., are
described not only as a labor of love, but with a wealth of knowledge
in detail. It is not easy to characterize the mass of information
given, it covers so wide and varied a field. Certainly the reader of
English history will find that he is helped very materially to a vivid
realization of the great personages and events which have made the
record of England’s past so dramatic and fascinating. Such books as
these are not merely interesting in themselves, but throw a flood of
light on the mind of the reader.


FOREIGN LITERARY NOTES.

THE Abbé Liszt is engaged on the fourth volume of his Memoirs. The
work is expected to fill six volumes. The first volume is to appear
immediately.

THE authorities of the Imperial Library of St. Petersburg intend to
bring out a palæographical series, containing specimens of their most
important Greek, Latin, Slavonic, French, and other manuscripts.

M. RENAN’S health has improved, but his projected tour in Palestine
is postponed on account of the disturbed condition of the East. His
lectures at the Collège de France on the Old Testament are attended by
persons of both sexes and listened to with much interest.

A PRAISEWORTHY step has been taken by the Edinburgh Town Council in
resolving to place memorial tablets on all spots of historical interest
in the city. The first place to receive this mark of attention is the
site in Chambers Street (formerly College Wynd) of the house where Sir
Walter Scott was born; and it has also been decided to erect a memorial
stone over the grave of the novelist’s father in Greyfriars’ Churchyard.

THE Senate of Hamburg has made a gift of 1,000 marks to Herr Karl
Theodor Gædertz, the author of _Geschichte des Niederdeutschen
Schauspiels_, in acknowledgment of the value of his work in the
illustration of the literary history of Hamburg. The present was made
through the Hanseatic Minister in Berlin, where Herr Gædertz resides.

A BIOGRAPHY of the late Richard Lepsius is in preparation by his pupil
and friend Prof. G. Ebers. The author has had the diaries, letters, and
other papers of Lepsius placed at his disposal for this purpose.

THE successor of the lamented Prof. Lepsius at the Royal Library at
Berlin is not yet appointed. We are glad to learn that the post will
not be filled by a great name only, but by a specialist. This is,
in fact, greatly needed, as the Berlin library is one of the least
accessible in Europe to scholars in general. Books are given out but
twice a day, and then only if they have been asked for the previous day.

“COUNT PAUL VASALI,” whose lively sketches of Viennese society in the
_Nouvelle Revue_ have just been completed, announces that he intends
shortly to commence a similar series on society in London.

A COLLECTION of unpublished letters of the Countess of Albany is being
prepared for the press by Prof. Camillo Antona-Traversi. It is stated
that these letters far exceed in interest all the specimens hitherto
printed of the correspondence of the Countess.

SAYS the _Athenæum_. The Trustees of Cornell University have invited
Mr. Eugene Schuyler to give a course of lectures on the diplomatic
and consular service of the United States. The course is to be in
connection with the Department of History and Political Science. It is
hoped that these new lectures, by supplementing those already given in
the university in connexion with international law and history, will
aid in training men to compete for positions in the service when a
proper reform shall be made in the matter of appointments.

THE study of palæography is receiving increased attention just now
in Italy. A short time since a palæographical school was founded at
Naples, under the direction of the learned archivist, Dr. A. Miola.
More recently the Pope has established at the Vatican a similar
institution, which he has placed under the management of Father Carini.

THE _Revue Politique et Littéraire_ states that the MS. of two
unpublished tales by Perrault has just been discovered. The titles are
“La Fée des Perles” and “Le Petit Homme de Bois.” It is added that the
MS. will be offered to the Bibliothèque nationale.

A CORRESPONDENT writes from Paris that M. Victor Hugo seemed strong and
well on his birthday, though troubled with deafness. He expressed his
gratification at the Laureate’s sonnet, which made a deep impression on
him at the time of its publication, and which he has not forgotten.

THE correspondent of the _Academy_, M. Lambros, has found in a MS.
of the fourteenth century, belonging to the Ministry of Education at
Athens, a collection, in form of a dialogue, from the works of Menander
and Philistion. Boissonade printed a similar one from a Paris MS. to
be found in Meineke, “Fragm. Com. Græc.,” iv. 335 ff. That consists,
however, of only fifty-four verses, while the Athens one contains 350.
The MS. also contains a collection of 415 maxims from Menander, each
consisting of a single line.

THE French edition of Mr. H. M. Stanley’s book on the Congo, which,
as recently announced, is to be published in Brussels, will, we are
informed, be translated by Mr. Gerard Harry, one of the editors of the
_Independance belge_ and of the _Mouvement géographique_.

MR. R. L. STEVENSON’S second series of “New Arabian Nights” will be
called, not “The Man in the Sealskin Coat,” as at first announced, but
“The Dynamiter.” Its purpose is comic. It consists of a “Prologue”
and an “Epilogue,” both in the Cigar Divan (in Rupert Street) to
which, as readers of the first series may remember, the chance of
revolution relegated Prince Florizel of Bohemia; of a certain number
of “adventures;” and of a set of subsidiary stories, “The Fair Cuban,”
“The Brown Box,”“The Destroying Angel,” and “The Superfluous Mansion.”
It will be published almost at once, we believe.

DR. LUDWIG GEIGER has begun a new journal which promises to be of great
literary importance, _Vierteljahrsschrift für Kultur und Litteratur
der Renaissance_. (Leipzig: Seeman.) In the first number the editor
contributes a very thorough study of the life and writings of Publio
Fausto Andrelini, of Forli, who taught in Paris from 1489 to 1518,
and did much to quicken the impulse of humanism in France. Herr Grimm
examines Vasari’s authority for the statement that Michelangelo
finished four statues of captives for the tomb of Julius II. He
comes to the conclusion that Vasari was mistaken, and that only two,
now in the Louvre, were really his work. Herr Zupitza criticises
“Three Middle-English versions of Boccaccio’s story of Ghismonda and
Guiscardo”—one by Banister, a second by Walter, and a third anonymous.
Besides these articles are published unprinted letters of Guarino and
Reuchlin. This new quarterly journal has every prospect of filling a
decided need in literature, and bringing to light much new material for
literary history.

IN a recent number of _Deutsche Rundschau_ Herr Herzog gives a vivid
sketch of modern progress in an article on “Die Einwirkungen der
modernen Verkehrsmittel auf die Culturentwicklung.” His general
conclusion is that the discovery of railways and the electric telegraph
has tended to democratise society and substitute practical materialism
for any moral ideal of life. Only when commerce has become truly
world-wide, and national interests have ceased to jar and conflict,
must we look for a world-state in which ideal ends again will meet with
due recognition. Freiherr von Lilicronen, in a paper on “Die Kunst
der Conversation,” undertakes the defence of German “Ernst” against
French “esprit” as a basis for social life. An English bystander is
probably inclined to suggest a happy blending of the two. Dr. H. Hüffer
publishes some hitherto unprinted letters of Heine to his friend Johann
Hermann Detmold. They are the scanty records of a friendship of thirty
years, and are of great importance for Heine’s biography, especially as
regards his life in Paris and his relations to his wife.

IN an exhaustive paper recently read before the Académie des
Inscriptions (_La Donation de Hugues, Marquis de Toscane, au Saint
Sépulcre, et les etablissements latins de Jérusalem au Xe siècle_),
M. Riant reminds us how little is known of the history of Palestine
previous to the time of the Crusades from the Latin side, although much
has been done of late years to elucidate its history in connection with
the Greek Church. He makes the re-examination of an important grant of
property by the Duke of Tuscany, in A.D. 993, to the Holy Sepulchre
and St. Maria Latina the occasion for a sketch of the Latin occupation
from the end of the sixth to the end of the eleventh centuries, showing
especially the nature of Charlemagne’s protectorate of the holy places.
The document itself he subjects to a searching criticism, calling up,
while so doing, a most striking figure in the Abbé Guarin, of Cuxa (one
of the grantees), an eloquent ecclesiastic of great influence in both
France and Italy, and a wide traveller.



MISCELLANY.


LEARNING TO RIDE.—Six half-hour rides on six successive days will
do infinitely more towards moulding the muscles to the equestrian
form than three lessons of two hours each, with an interval of a day
between. When the services of a competent teacher cannot be had, the
next best aid is that of a good model to imitate: not a soldier,
although some of the very finest horsemen are found among cavalry
officers, because a soldier has to follow rules which do not affect
a civilian; not a huntsman, because to the best huntsmen the horse
is only a machine, and one hand is always occupied with the horn or
the whip; but from watching a clever colt-breaker or accomplished
professional steeplechase rider very useful lessons may be learned.
It may safely be assumed that any man of forty, not disqualified by
physical defeats or oppressed with excessive corpulence, may, with
patience, perseverance, and pluck, without rashness, learn how to
ride and how to enjoy riding any well-broken horse, without looking
ridiculous, after from fifty to sixty well arranged rides, within
the space of three months. But it is a sort of exercise that cannot
be taken up and abandoned for a long interval with impunity. Even
practised horsemen suffer severely after a certain time of life, if,
after a long cessation from horse exercise, they attempt the feats
of their youth; feverishness, indigestion, a fluttering heart, a
disordered liver, remind them that for long days the man requires
preparation as much as the horse. A great deal of the comfort of riding
depends on proper garments for the lower limbs. Theoretically, there is
no riding-dress so comfortable as well-made breeches and boots either
of the modern cavalry or the plain “butcher pattern.” The next best
substitute is a pair of leather overalls, fastened at the sides by
buttons, not with springs. But those whose age and position would make
boots for riding in a town objectionable must pay attention to their
trousers. The material for riding-trousers should be thick woollen, and
may be dark—there are some very nice partly-elastic materials in dark
colors—they must be constructed by a real trouser-maker, who will make
you sit down when he measures you, and they must be worn with straps
whether straps are in fashion or not. Wellington boots are the best
with trousers; shoes are quite out of the question. Trousers without
straps, slipping up the leg of a timid horseman, are an acute form of
unnecessary misery, which was the fashion for many years up to 1877,
when straps again appeared on the trousers of the more correct riders
in Rotten Row.—_Illustrated Book of the Horse._

       *       *       *       *       *

A TRAGIC BARRING-OUT.—In the inner part of Riddell’s Close stands the
house of Bailie John Macmorran, whose tragic death made a great stir
at its time, threw the city into painful excitement, and tarnished the
reputation of the famous old High School. The conduct of the scholars
there had been bad and turbulent for some years, but it reached a
climax on September 15th, 1595. On a week’s holiday being refused, the
boys were so exasperated, being chiefly “gentilmane’s bairnes,” that
they formed a compact for vengeance in the true spirit of the age;
and, armed with swords and pistols, took possession at midnight of the
ancient school in the Blackfriars Gardens, and declining to admit the
masters or anyone else, made preparation to stand a siege, setting all
authority at defiance. The doors were not only shut but barricaded and
strongly guarded within; all attempts to storm the boy-garrison proved
impracticable, and all efforts at reconciliation were unavailing. The
Town Council lost patience, and sent Bailie John Macmorran, one of the
wealthiest merchants in the city (though he had begun life as a servant
to the Regent Morton), with a posse of city officers, to enforce the
peace. On their appearance in the school-yard the boys became simply
outrageous, and mocked them as “buttery carles,” daring anyone to
approach at his peril. “To the point likely to be first attacked,”
says Steven, in his history of the school, “they were observed to
throng in a highly excited state, and each seemed to vie with his
fellow in threatening instant death to the man who should forcibly
attempt to displace them. William Sinclair, son of the Chancellor of
Caithness, had taken a conspicuous share in this barring out, and he
now appeared foremost, encouraging his confederates,” and stood at a
window overlooking one of the entrances which the Bailie ordered the
officers to force, by using a long beam as a battering-ram, and he had
nearly accomplished his perilous purpose, when a ball in the forehead
from Sinclair’s pistol slew him on the spot, and he fell on his back.
Panic-stricken, the boys surrendered. Some effected their escape, and
others, including Sinclair and the sons of Murray of Springiedale,
and Pringle of Whitebank, were thrown into prison. Macmorran’s family
were too rich to be bribed, and clamored that they would have blood
for blood. On the other hand, “friends threatened death to all the
people of Edinburgh if they did the child any harm, saying they were
not wise who meddled with scholars, especially _gentlemen’s sons_,”
and Lord Sinclair, as chief of the family to which the young culprit
belonged, moved boldly in his behalf, and procured the intercession
of King James with the magistrates, and in the end all the accused
got free, including the slayer of the Bailie, who lived to become
Sir William Sinclair of Mey, in 1631, and the husband of Catherine
Ross, of Balnagowan, and from them the present Earls of Caithness are
descended.—_Old and New Edinburgh._

       *       *       *       *       *

INTELLIGENCE IN CATS.—Cats are like oysters, in that no one is neutral
about them; everyone is, explicitly or implicitly, friendly or hostile
to them. And they are like children in their power of discovering,
by a rapid and sure instinct, who likes them and who does not. It is
difficult to win their affection; and it is easy to forfeit what it is
hard to win. But when given, their love, although less demonstrative,
is more delicate and beautiful than that of a dog. Who that is on
really intimate terms with a cat has not watched its dismay at the
signs of packing up and leaving home? We ourselves have known a cat who
would recognise his master’s footstep after a three months’ absence,
and come out to meet him in the hall, with tail erect, and purring all
over as if to the very verge of bursting. And another cat we know,
who comes up every morning between six and seven o’clock to wake his
master, sits on the bed, and very gently feels first one eyelid and
then the other with his paw. When an eye opens, but not till then,
the cat sets up a loud purr, like the prayer of a fire-worshipper to
the rising sun. Those who say lightly that cats care only for places,
and not for persons, should go to the Cat Show at the Crystal Palace,
where they may see recognitions between cat and owner that will cure
them of so shallow an opinion. When we were last there, one striking
instance fell in our way. Cats greatly dislike these exhibitions; a
cat, as a rule, is like Queen Vashti, unwilling to be shown, even to
the nobles, at the pleasure of an Ahasuerus. Shy, sensitive, wayward,
and independent, a cat resents being placed upon a cushion in a wire
cage, and exposed to the unintelligent criticism, to say nothing of
the fingers of a mob of sightseers. One very eminent cat, belonging
to the Masters’ Common Room at Christ Church, Oxford, whose size and
beauty have on several occasions entailed on him the hard necessity
of attending a cat show, takes, it is said, three days to recover
from the sense of humiliation and disgust which he feels, whether
he gets a prize or not. On the occasion to which we refer, a row of
distinguished cats were sitting, each on his cushion, with their backs
turned to the sightseers, while their faces, when from time to time
visible, were expressive of the deepest gloom and disgust. Presently
two little girls pushed through the crowd to the cage of one of the
largest of these cats, crying, “There’s ‘Dick’!” Instantly the great
cat turned round, his face transfigured with joy, purred loudly, and
endeavored to scratch open the front of the cage, that he might rejoin
his little friends, who were with difficulty persuaded to leave him at
the show.—_Spectator._

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. All other
spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.

Italics are represented thus _italic_.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, Volume XLI, No. 5, May 1885" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home