The Project Gutenberg eBook of Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, January 1885

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, January 1885

Author: Various

Release date: August 21, 2016 [eBook #52866]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Paul Marshall and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at



Engd. by J. T. Gage, New York.


The cover image was created by the transcriber, and is in the public domain.





[Pg i]



Agnosticism and the Religion of Humanity, Last Words about.  
 By Herbert Spencer Nineteenth Century  127
America, A Word More About.  
 By Matthew Arnold Nineteenth Century  433
American Audience, The.  
 By Henry Irving Fortnightly Review  475
Ancient Organs of Public Opinion.  
 By Prof. R. C. Jebb. Fortnightly Review  107
Arnold’s Lay Sermon, Mr. Spectator  259
Art, A Few Notes on Persian. Chambers’s Journal  396
Authors as Suppressors of their Books.  
 By W. H. Olding, LL.B. Gentleman’s Magazine  262
Automatic Writing, or the Rationale of Planchette.  
 By Frederick W. H. Myers Contemporary Review  547

Bank of England, The.

 By Henry May Fortnightly Review  679
Behind the Scenes.  
 By F. C. Burnand Fortnightly Review  408
Big Animals Cornhill Magazine  778
Bismarck’s Character, Prince Temple Bar  386
 By G. P. Macdonell Macmillan’s Magazine  703
Bygone Celebrities and Literary Recollections.  
 By Charles Mackay Gentleman’s Magazine  29
Bygone Celebrities and Literary Recollections.  
 By Charles Mackay, LL.D. Gentleman’s Magazine  165

Camorra, The.
Saturday Review 
Coleridge as a Spiritual Thinker.  
 By Principal Tulloch. Fortnightly Review  305
Comparative Study of Ghost Stories, The.  
 By Andrew Lang Nineteenth Century  805
Comment on Christmas, A.  
 By Matthew Arnold Contemporary Review  836
Concerning Eyes.  
 By William H. Hudson Gentleman’s Magazine  772
Corneille, Le Bonhomme.  
 By Henry M. Trollope Gentleman’s Magazine  359
Curiosities of the Bank of England Chambers’s Journal  245

Day of Storm, A

The Spectator 

De Banana Cornhill Magazine  529
Della Crusca and Anna Matilda: An Episode in English Literature.  
 By Armine T. Kent National Review  336
Democratic Victory in America, The.  
 By William Henry Hurlburt Nineteenth Century  183
Dickens at Home, Charles.  
With Especial Reference to His Relations with Children.  
 By his eldest daughter Cornhill Magazine  362
Dress, How Should We? The New German Theories on Clothing.  
 By Dora de Blaquière Good Words  273
Duelling, French.  
 By H. R. Haweis Belgravia  222

Economic Effect of War.


Electricity and Gas, The Future of Chambers’s Journal  81
Elliot, The Life of George.  
 By John Morley Macmillan’s Magazine  506
Emile De Laveleye Contemporary Review  205
Englishmen and Foreigners Cornhill Magazine  215
Exploration in a New Direction The Spectator  689

Faithless World, A.

 By Frances Power Cobbe Contemporary Review  145
Folk-lore for Sweethearts.  
 By Rev. M. G. Watkins, M. A. Belgravia  491
Food and Feeding Cornhill Magazine  155
Foreign Literature Notes 143, 284, 426, 571, 717
French Drama upon Abelard, A.  
 By a Conceptualist National Review  633

General Gordon and the Slave Trade

Contemporary Review 

German Abroad, The.  
 By C. E. Dawkins National Review  811
 By Prof. J. R. Seeley Contemporary Review  16
Go to the Ant. Cornhill Magazine  416

Hittites, The.

 By Isaac Taylor British Quarterly Review  545
How Insects Breathe.  
 By Theodore Wood Good Words  401
In the Norwegian Mountains.  
 By Oscar Frederik, King of Sweden and Norway Temple Bar  521
Interesting Words, Some. Chambers’s Journal  826
Irish Humor, The Decay of. The Spectator  383

Jews, The Health and Longevity of the.

 By P. Kirkpatrick Picard, M.D., M.R.C.S. Leisure Hour  540
Johnson, Samuel.  
 By Edmund Gosse Fortnightly Review  178


All the Year Round 

804[Pg ii]

Literary Notices:

 The Correspondence and Diaries of John Wilson Croker, 136—The Story of My Life, 139—Our Great Benefactors, 141—Life of Mary Woolstonecraft, 141—Principles of Political Economy, 142—A Review of the Holy Bible, 142—The Young Folks’ Josephus, 142. True, and Other Stories, 281—Noble Blood, 281—Prince Saroni’s Wife and the Pearl-shell Necklace, 281—Dr. Grattan, 281—The Old-Fashioned Fairy Book, 281—Katherine, 281—White Feathers, 281—Egypt and Babylon, from Sacred and Profane Sources, 282—The Hundred Greatest Men: Portraits of the Hundred Greatest Men in History, 283— Eve’s Daughters; or, Common-Sense for Maid, Wife and Mother, 283—A Review of the Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, 283— The Elements of Moral Science, Theoretical and Practical, 284—Episodes of My Second Life, 423—A Historical Reference Book, 424—Bermuda: An Idyll of the Summer Islands, 425—Elements of Zoology, 425—The Reality of Religion, 425—The Enchiridion of Wit: The Best Specimens of English Conversational Wit, 426—The Dictionary of English History, 568—Personal Traits of British Authors, 569—Italy from the Fall of Napoleon I. in 1815, to the Death of Victor Emanuel in 1878, 569—Harriet Martineau (Famous Women Series), 570—Weird Tales by E. T. W. Hoffman, 571— Jelly-Fish, Star-Fish and Sea Urchins, 712—Origin of Cultivated Plants, 713—The Adventures of Timias Terrystone, 714—The Secret of Death, 716— Greater London: A Narrative of Its History, Its People, and Its Places, 717—Russia Under the Tzars, 851—The French Revolution, 853—Louis Pasteur: His Life and Labors, 855—A Grammar of the English Language in a Series of Letters, 855—At the Sign of the Lyre, 856—Working People and their Employers, 856.  

M. Jules Ferry and his Friends

Temple Bar 

Macpherson’s Love Story.  
 By C. H. D. Stocker Leisure Hour  790
Man in Blue, The.  
 By R. Davey Merry England  277
Master, A Very Old Cornhill Magazine  601
Master in Islam on the Present Crisis, A.  
Interview with Sheikh Djamal-ud-din Al Husseiny Al Afghany.  
  Pall Mall Gazette  849


 Heligoland as a Strategical Island How the Coldstreams got their Motto Women as Cashiers The House of Lords: Can it be Reformed? A Revolving Library A Child’s Metaphors Has England a School of Musical Composition? Booty in War Sir Henry Bessemer Some Personal Recollections of George Sand The American Senate Shakespeare and Balzac The Dread of Old Age A True Critic An Aerial Ride The Condition of Schleswig Chinese Notions of Immortality An Approaching Star Germans and Russians in Persia Learning to Ride A Tragic Barring-Out Intelligence in Cats The Migration of Birds, 858 Oriental Flower Lore What’s in a Name? Historic Finance The Three Unities A Sunday-school Scholar A Mahdi of the Last Century  

Montagu, Mrs

Temple Bar 

Mountain Observatories Edinburgh Review   1
Mythology in New Apparel, Old.  
 By J. Theodore Bent Macmillan’s Magazine  662

New England Village, Three Glimpses of a

Blackwood’s Magazine 

Nihilist, A Female.  
 By Stepniak Cornhill Magazine  38

Odd Quarters.

 By Frederick Boyle Belgravia  648
Organic Nature’s Riddle.  
 By St. George Mivart Fortnightly Review  591
Organic Nature’s Riddle.  
 By St. George Mivart Fortnightly Review  763
Organization of Democracy, The.  
 By Goldwin Smith Contemporary Magazine  609
Outwitted: A Tale of the Abruzzi Belgravia  667

Peking, The Summer Palace.

 By C. F. Gordon Cumming. Belgravia  373
Pierre’s Motto: A Chacun Selon son Travail.  
A Talk in a Parisian Workshop About the Unequal Distribution of Wealth  
  Leisure Hour  405
Beyond the Haze. A Winter Ramble Reverie. Cornhill Magazine  84
Lord Tennyson. By Paul H. Hayne   520
On an Old Song. By W. E. H. Lecky Macmillan’s Magazine  474
Ronsard: On the Choice of His Tomb. By J. P. M. Blackwood’s Magazine  202
Poetry of Tennyson, The.  
 By Roden Noel Contemporary Review  459
Political Situation of Europe, The.  
 By F. Nobili-Vitelleschi, Senator of Italy Nineteenth Century  577
Popular English, Notes on.  
 By the late Isaac Todhunter. Macmillan’s Magazine  561
Portrait, The. A Story of the Seen and the Unseen. Blackwood’s Magazine  315

Quandong’s Secret, The

Chambers’s Journal 


Rebellion of 1798, An Actor in the.

 Letitia McClintock. Belgravia  173
Review of the Year.  
 By Frederic Harrison Fortnightly Review  445
Romance of a Greek Statue, A.  
 By J. Theodore Bent Gentleman’s Magazine  499
“Romeo and Juliet,” The Local Color of.  
 By William Archer Gentleman’s Magazine  67
Russian Advance in Central Asia, The.  
 By Major-General Sir Henry Rawlinson, K.C.B Nineteenth Century  721
Russian Philosopher on English Politics, A Blackwood’s Magazine  692
Rye House Plot, The.  
 By Alexander Charles Ewald Gentleman’s Magazine  249

Sand, George

Temple Bar 

Savage, The.  
 By Prof. F. Max Müller Nineteenth Century  243
Siberia to Switzerland, From. The Story of an Escape.  
 By William Westfall Contemporary Review  289
Sir William Siemens.  
 By William Lant Carpenter Gentleman’s Magazine  621
Sir Tristram de Lyonesse.  
 By E. M. Smith Merry England  656
Smith, William and Shakespeare, William Saturday Review  70
Some Sicilian Customs.  
 By E. Lynn Linton Temple Bar  73
Social Science on the Stage.  
 By H. Sutherland Edwards Fortnightly Review  830
State versus the Man, The.  
 By Emile de Laveleye Contemporary Review  732
Stimulants and Narcotics.  
 By Percy Greg Contemporary Review  479


Cornhill Magazine 

Trappists, Among the. A Glimpse of Life at Le Port Du Salut.  
 By Surgeon-General H. L. Cowen Good Words  53
True Story of Wat Tyler, The. By S. G. G.   748
Turkish Proverbs, Some The Spectator  787
Turning Air into Water All the Year Round  536

Unity of the Empire, The.

 By the Marquis of Lorne Nineteenth Century  643

Vivisection, Scientific versus Bucolic.

 By James Cotter Morison Fortnightly Review  558

When Shall We Lose Our Pole-Star?

Chambers’s Journal 

Würzburg and Vienna. Scraps from a Diary.  
 By Emile De Laveleye Contemporary Review  95
Würzburg and Vienna. Scraps from a Diary.  
 By John Wycliffe: His Life and Work Blackwood’s Magazine  224



New Series.   JANUARY, 1885.   Old Series complete
Vol. XLI., No. 1. in 63 vols.

[Pg 1]


On October 1st, 1876, one of the millionaires of the New World died at San Francisco. Although owning a no more euphonious name than James Lick, he had contrived to secure a future for it. He had founded and endowed the first great astronomical establishment planted on the heights, between the stars and the sea. How he came by his love of science we have no means of knowing. Born obscurely at Fredericksburg, in Pennsylvania, August 25th, 1796, he amassed some 30,000 dollars by commerce in South America, and in 1847 transferred them and himself to a village which had just exchanged its name of Yerba Buena for that of San Francisco, situate on a long, sandy strip of land between the Pacific and a great bay. In the hillocks and gullies of that wind-blown barrier he invested his dollars, and never did virgin soil yield a richer harvest. The gold-fever broke out in the spring of 1848. The unremembered cluster of wooden houses, with no trouble or tumult of population in their midst, nestling round a tranquil creek under a climate which, but for a touch of sea-fog, might rival that of the Garden of the Hesperides, became all at once a centre of attraction to the outcast and adventurous from every part of the world. Wealth poured in; trade sprang up; a population of six hundred increased to a quarter of a million; hotels, villas, public edifices, places of business spread, mile after mile, along the bay; building-ground rose to a fabulous price, and James Lick found himself one of the richest men in the United States.

Thus he got his money; we have now to see how he spent it. Already the munificent benefactor of the learned institutions of California, he in 1874 formally set aside a sum of two million dollars for various public purposes, philanthropic, patriotic, and scientific. Of these two millions 700,000 were appropriated to the erection of a telescope [Pg 2] “superior to, and more powerful than any ever yet made.” But this, he felt instinctively, was not enough. Even in astronomy, although most likely unable to distinguish the Pole-star from the Dog-star, this “pioneer citizen” could read the signs of the times. It was no longer instruments that were wanted; it was the opportunity of employing them. Telescopes of vast power and exquisite perfection had ceased to be a rarity; but their use seemed all but hopelessly impeded by the very conditions of existence on the surface of the earth.

The air we breathe is in truth the worst enemy of the astronomer’s observations. It is their enemy in two ways. Part of the sight which brings its wonderful, evanescent messages across inconceivable depths of space, it stops; and what it does not stop, it shatters. And this even when it is most transparent and seemingly still; when mist-veils are withdrawn, and no clouds curtain the sky. Moreover, the evil grows with the power of the instrument. Atmospheric troubles are magnified neither more nor less than the objects viewed across them. Thus, Lord Rosse’s giant reflector possesses—nominally—a magnifying power of 6,000; that is to say, it can reduce the apparent distances of the heavenly bodies to 1/6000 their actual amount. The moon, for example, which is in reality separated from the earth’s surface by an interval of about 234,000 miles, is shown as if removed only thirty-nine miles. Unfortunately, however, in theory only. Professor Newcomb compares the sight obtained under such circumstances to a glimpse through several yards of running water, and doubts whether our satellite has ever been seen to such advantage as it would be if brought—substantially, not merely optically—within 500 miles of the unassisted eye.[1]

Must, then, all the growing triumphs of the optician’s skill be counteracted by this plague of moving air? Can nothing be done to get rid of, or render it less obnoxious? Or is this an ultimate barrier, set up by Nature herself, to stop the way of astronomical progress? Much depends upon the answer—more than can, in a few words, be easily made to appear; but there is fortunately reason to believe that it will, on the whole, prove favorable to human ingenuity, and the rapid advance of human knowledge on the noblest subject with which it is or ever can be conversant.

The one obvious way of meeting atmospheric impediments is to leave part of the impeding atmosphere behind; and this the rugged shell of our planet offers ample means of doing. Whether the advantages derived from increased altitudes will outweigh the practical difficulties attending such a system of observation when conducted on a great scale, has yet to be decided. The experiment, however, is now about to be tried simultaneously in several parts of the globe.

By far the most considerable of these experiments is that of the “Lick Observatory.” Its founder was from the first determined that the powers of his great telescope should, as little as possible, be fettered by the hostility of the elements. The choice of its local habitation was, accordingly, a matter of grave deliberation to him for some time previous to his death. Although close upon his eightieth year, he himself spent a night upon the summit of Mount St. Helena with a view to testing its astronomical capabilities, and a site already secured in the Sierra Nevada was abandoned on the ground of climatic disqualifications. Finally, one of the culminating peaks of the Coast Range, elevated 4,440 feet above the sea, was fixed upon. Situated about fifty miles south-east of San Francisco, Mount Hamilton lies far enough inland to escape the sea-fog, which only on the rarest occasions drifts upward to its triple crest. All through the summer the sky above it is limpid and cloudless; and though winter storms are frequent, their raging is not without highly available lucid intervals. As to the essential point—the quality of telescopic vision—the testimony of Mr. S. W. Burnham is in the highest degree encouraging. This well-known observer spent two months on the mountain in the autumn of 1879, and concluded, as the result of his experience during that time—with the full concurrence of Professor Newcomb—that, “it is the finest observing [Pg 3] location in the United States.” Out of sixty nights he found forty-two as nearly perfect as nights can well be, seven of medium quality, and only eleven cloudy or foggy;[2] his stay, nevertheless, embraced the first half of October, by no means considered to belong to the choice part of the season. Nor was his trip barren of discovery. A list of forty-two new double stars gave an earnest of what may be expected from systematic work in such an unrivalled situation. Most of these are objects which never rise high enough in the sky to be examined with any profit through the grosser atmosphere of the plains east of the Rocky Mountains; some are well-known stars, not before seen clearly enough for the discernment of their composite character; yet Mr. Burnham used the lesser of two telescopes—a 6-inch and an 18-inch achromatic—with which he had been accustomed to observe at Chicago.

The largest refracting telescope as yet actually completed has a light-gathering surface 27 inches in diameter. This is the great Vienna equatorial, admirably turned out by Mr. Grubb, of Dublin, in 1880, but still awaiting the commencement of its exploring career. It will, however, soon be surpassed by the Pulkowa telescope, ordered more than four years ago on behalf of the Russian Government from Alvan Clark and Sons, of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. Still further will it be surpassed by the coming “Lick Refractor.” It is safe to predict that the optical championship of the world is, at least for the next few years, secured to this gigantic instrument, the completion of which may be looked for in the immediate future. It will have a clear aperture of three feet. A disc of flint-glass for the object-lens, 38·18 inches across, and 170 kilogrammes in weight, was cast at the establishment of M. Feil, in Paris, early in 1882. Four days were spent and eight tons of coal consumed in the casting of this vast mass of flawless crystal; it took a calendar month to cool, and cost 2,000l.[3] It may be regarded as the highest triumph so far achieved in the art of optical glass-making.

A refracting telescope three feet in aperture collects rather more light than a speculum of four feet.[4] In this quality, then, the Lick instrument will have—besides the Rosse leviathan, which, for many reasons, may be considered to be out of the running—but one rival. And over this rival—the 48-inch reflector of the Melbourne observatory—it will have all the advantages of agility and robustness (so to speak) which its system of construction affords; while the exquisite definition for which Alvan Clark is famous will, presumably, not be absent.

Already preparations are being made for its reception at Mount Hamilton. The scabrous summit of “Observatory Peak” has been smoothed down to a suitable equality of surface by the removal of 40,000 tons of hard trap rock. Preliminary operations for the erection of a dome, 75 feet in diameter, to serve as its shelter, are in progress. The water-supply has been provided for by the excavation of great cisterns. Buildings are rapidly being pushed forward from designs prepared by Professors Holden and Newcomb. Most of the subsidiary instruments have for some time been in their places, constituting in themselves an equipment of no mean order. With their aid Professor Holden and Mr. Burnham observed the transit of Mercury of November 7th, 1881, and Professor Todd obtained, December 6th, 1882, a series of 147 photographs (of which seventy-one were of the highest excellence) recording the progress of Venus across the face of the sun.

We are informed that a great hotel will eventually add the inducement of material well-being to those of astronomical interest and enchanting scenery. No more delightful summer resort can well be imagined. The road to the summit, of which the construction formed the subject of a species of treaty between Mr. Lick and the county of Santa Clara in [Pg 4] 1875, traverses from San José a distance, as a bird flies, of less than thirteen miles, but doubled by the windings necessary in order to secure moderate gradients. So successfully has this been accomplished, that a horse drawing a light waggon can reach the observatory buildings without breaking his trot.[5] As the ascending track draws its coils closer and closer round the mountain, the view becomes at every turn more varied and more extensive. On one side the tumultuous coast ranges, stooping gradually to the shore, magnificently clad with forests of pine and red cedar; the island-studded bay of San Francisco, and, farther south, a shining glimpse of the Pacific; on the other, the thronging pinnacles of the Sierras—granite needles, lava-topped bastions—fire-rent, water-worn; right underneath, the rich valleys of Santa Clara and San Joaquim, and, 175 miles away to the north (when the sapphire of the sky is purest), the snowy cone of Mount Shasta.

Thus, there seems some reason to apprehend that Mount Hamilton, with its monster telescope, may become one of the show places of the New World. Absit omen! Such a desecration would effectually mar one of the fairest prospects opened in our time before astronomy. The true votaries of Urania will then be driven to seek sanctuary in some less accessible and less inviting spot. Indeed, the present needs of science are by no means met by an elevation above the sea of four thousand and odd feet, even under the most translucent sky in the world. Already observing stations are recommended at four times that altitude, and the ambition of the new species of climbing astronomers seems unlikely to be satisfied until he can no longer find wherewith to fill his lungs (for even an astronomer must breathe), or whereon to plant his instruments.

This ambition is no casual caprice. It has grown out of the growing exigencies of celestial observation.

From the time that Lord Rosse’s great reflector was pointed to the sky in February, 1845, it began to be distinctly felt that instrumental power had outrun its opportunities. To the sounding of further depths of space it came to be understood that Atlantic mists and tremulous light formed an obstacle far more serious than any mere optical or mechanical difficulties. The late Mr. Lassell was the first to act on this new idea. Towards the close of 1852 he transported his beautiful 24-inch Newtonian to Malta, and, in 1859-60, constructed, for service there, one of four times its light capacity. Yet the chief results of several years’ continuous observation under rarely favorable conditions were, in his own words, “rather negative than positive.”[6] He dispelled the “ghosts” of four Uranian moons which had, by glimpses, haunted the usually unerring vision of the elder Herschel, and showed that our acquaintance with the satellite families of Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune must, for the present at any rate, be regarded as complete; but the discoveries by which his name is chiefly remembered were made in the murky air of Lancashire.

The celebrated expedition to the Peak of Teneriffe, carried out in the summer of 1856 by the present Astronomer Royal for Scotland, was an experiment made with the express object of ascertaining “how much astronomical observation can be benefited by eliminating the lower third or fourth part of the atmosphere.”[7] So striking were the advantages of which it seemed to hold out the promise, that we count with surprise the many years suffered to elapse before any adequate attempt was made to realize them.[8] Professor Piazzi Smyth made his principal station at Guajara, 8,903 feet above the sea, close to the rim of the ancient crater from which the actual peak rises to a further height of more than 3,000 feet. There he found that his equatorial (five feet in focal length) showed stars fainter by four magnitudes than at Edinburgh. On the Calton Hill the companion of Alpha Lyræ (eleventh magnitude) could never, under any circumstances, be made out. [Pg 5] At Guajara it was an easy object twenty-five degrees from the zenith; and stars of the fourteenth magnitude were discernible. Now, according to the usual estimate, a step downwards from one magnitude to another means a decrease of lustre in the proportion of two to five. A star of the fourteenth order of brightness sends us accordingly only 1/39th as much light as an average one of the tenth order. So that, in Professor Smyth’s judgment, the grasp of his instrument was virtually multiplied thirty-nine times by getting rid of the lowest quarter of the atmosphere.[9] In other words (since light falls off in intensity as the square of the distance of its source increases), the range of vision was more than sextupled, further depths of space being penetrated to an extent probably to be measured by thousands of billions of miles!

This vast augmentation of telescopic compass was due as much to the increased tranquillity as to the increased transparency of the air. The stars hardly seemed to twinkle at all. Their rays, instead of being broken and scattered by continual changes of refractive power in the atmospheric layers through which their path lay, travelled with relatively little disturbance, and thus produced a far more vivid and concentrated impression upon the eye. Their images in the telescope, with a magnifying power of 150, showed no longer the “amorphous figures” seen at Edinburgh, but such minute, sharply-defined discs as gladden the eyes of an astronomer, and seem, in Professor Smyth’s phrase, to “provoke” (as the “cocked-hat” appearance surely baffles) “the application of a wire-micrometer” for the purposes of measurement.[10]

The lustre of the milky way and zodiacal light at this elevated station was indescribable, and Jupiter shone with extraordinary splendor. Nevertheless, not even the most fugitive glimpse of any of his satellites was to be had without optical aid.[11] This was possibly attributable to the prevalent “dust-haze”, which must have caused a diffusion of light in the neighborhood of the planet more than sufficient to blot from sight such faint objects. The same cause completely neutralized the darkening of the sky usually attendant upon ascents into the more ethereal regions, and surrounded the sun with an intense glare of reflected light. For reasons presently to be explained, this circumstance alone would render the Peak of Teneriffe wholly unfit to be the site of a modern observatory.

Within the last thirty years a remarkable change, long in preparation,[12] has conspicuously affected the methods and aims of astronomy; or, rather, beside the old astronomy—the astronomy of Laplace, of Bessel, of Airy, Adams, and Leverrier—has grown up a younger science, vigorous, inspiring, seductive, revolutionary, walking with hurried or halting footsteps along paths far removed from the staid courses of its predecessor. This new science concerns itself with the nature of the heavenly bodies; the elder regarded exclusively their movements. The aim of the one is description, of the other prediction. This younger science inquires what sun, moon, stars, and nebulæ are made of, what stores of heat they possess, what changes are in progress within their substance, what vicissitudes they have undergone or are likely to undergo. The elder has attained its object when the theory of celestial motions shows no discrepancy with fact—when the calculus can be brought to agree perfectly with the telescope—when the coursers of the heavens come strictly up to time, and their observed places square to a hair’s-breadth with their predicted places. [Pg 6]

It is evident that very different modes of investigation must be employed to further such different objects; in fact, the invention of novel modes of investigation has had a prime share in bringing about the change in question. Geometrical astronomy, or the astronomy of position, seeks above all to measure with exactness, and is thus more fundamentally interested in the accurate division and accurate centering of circles than in the development of optical appliances. Descriptive astronomy, on the other hand, seeks as the first condition of its existence to see clearly and fully. It has no “method of least squares” for making the best of bad observations—no process for eliminating errors by their multiplication in opposite directions; it is wholly dependent for its data on the quantity and quality of the rays focussed by its telescopes, sifted by its spectroscopes, or printed in its photographic cameras. Therefore, the loss and disturbance suffered by those rays in traversing our atmosphere constitute an obstacle to progress far more serious now than when the exact determination of places was the primary and all-important task of an astronomical observer. This obstacle, which no ingenuity can avail to remove, may be reduced to less formidable dimensions. It may be diminished or partially evaded by anticipating the most detrimental part of the atmospheric transit—by carrying our instruments upwards into a finer air—by meeting the light upon the mountains.

The study of the sun’s composition, and of the nature of the stupendous processes by which his ample outflow of light and heat is kept up and diffused through surrounding space, has in our time separated, it might be said, into a science apart. Its pursuit is, at any rate, far too arduous to be conducted with less than a man’s whole energies; while the questions which it has addressed itself to answer are the fundamental problems of the new physical astronomy. There is, however, but one opinion as to the expediency of carrying on solar investigations at higher altitudes than have hitherto been more than temporarily available.

The spectroscope and the camera are now the chief engines of solar research. Mere telescopic observation, though always an indispensable adjunct, may be considered to have sunk into a secondary position. But the spectroscope and the camera, still more than the telescope, lie at the mercy of atmospheric vapors and undulations. The late Professor Henry Draper, of New York, an adept in the art of celestial photography, stated in 1877 that two years, during which he had photographed the moon at his observatory on the Hudson on every moonlit night, yielded only three when the air was still enough to give good results, nor even then without some unsteadiness; and Bond, of Cambridge (U. S.) informed him that he had watched in vain, through no less than seventeen years for a faultless condition of our troublesome environing medium.[13] Tranquillity is the first requisite for a successful astronomical photograph. The hour generally chosen for employing the sun as his own limner is, for this reason, in the early morning, before the newly emerged beams have had time to set the air in commotion, and so blur the marvellous details of his surface-structure. By this means a better definition is secured but at the expense of transparency. Both are, at the sea-level, hardly ever combined. A certain amount of haziness is the price usually paid for exceptional stillness, so that it not unfrequently happens that astronomers see best in a fog, as on the night of November 15th, 1850, when the elder Bond discovered the “dusky ring” of Saturn, although at the time no star below the fourth magnitude could be made out with the naked eye. Now on well-chosen mountain stations, a union of these unhappy divorced conditions is at certain times to be met with, opportunities being thus afforded with tolerable certainty and no great rarity, which an astronomer on the plains might think himself fortunate in securing once or twice in a lifetime.

For spectroscopic observations at the edge of the sun, on the contrary, the sine quâ non is translucency. During the great “Indian eclipse” of August 18th, 1868, the variously colored lines were, by the aid of prismatic analysis, first described, which reveal the chemical [Pg 7] constitution of the flamelike “prominences,” forming an ever-varying, but rarely absent, feature of the solar surroundings. Immediately afterwards, M. Janssen, at Guntoor, and Mr. Norman Lockyer, in England, independently realised a method of bringing them into view without the co-operation of the eclipsing moon. This was done by fanning out with a powerfully dispersive spectroscope the diffused radiance near the sun, until it became sufficiently attenuated to permit the delicate flame-lines to appear upon its rainbow-tinted background. This mischievous radiance—which it is the chief merit of a solar eclipse to abolish during some brief moments—is due to the action of the atmosphere, and chiefly of the watery vapors contained in it. Were our earth stripped of its “cloud of all-sustaining air,” and presented, like its satellite, bare to space, the sky would appear perfectly black up to the very rim of the sun’s disc—a state of things of all others (vital necessities apart) the most desirable to spectroscopists. The best approach to its attainment is made by mounting a few thousand feet above the earth’s surface. In the drier and purer air of the mountains, “glare” notably diminishes, and the tell-tale prominence-lines are thus more easily disengaged from the effacing lustre in which they hang, as it were suspended.

The Peak of Teneriffe, as we have seen, offers a marked exception to this rule, the impalpable dust diffused through the air giving, even at its summit, precisely the same kind of detailed reflection as aqueous vapors at lower levels. It is accordingly destitute of one of the chief qualifications for serving as a point of vantage to observers of the new type.

The changes in the spectra of chromosphere and prominences (for they are parts of a single appendage) present a subject of unsurpassed interest to the student of solar physics. There, if anywhere, will be found the key to the secret to the sun’s internal economy; in them, if at all, the real condition of matter in the unimaginable abysses of heat covered up by the relatively cool photosphere, whose radiations could, nevertheless, vivify 2,300,000,000 globes like ours, will reveal itself; revealing, at the same time, something more than we know of the nature of the so-called “elementary” substances, hitherto tortured, with little result, in terrestrial laboratories.

The chromosphere and prominences might be figuratively described as an ocean and clouds of tranquil incandescence, agitated and intermingled with waterspouts, tornadoes, and geysers of raging fire. Certain kinds of light are at all times emitted by them, showing that certain kinds of matter (as, for instance, hydrogen and “helium”[14]) form invariable constituents of their substance. Of these unfailing lines Professor Young counts eleven.[15] But a vastly greater number appear only occasionally, and, it would seem, capriciously, under the stress of eruptive action from the interior. And precisely this it is which lends them such significance; for of what is going on there, they have doubtless much to tell, were their message only legible by us. It has not as yet proved so; but the characters in which it is written are being earnestly scrutinised and compared, with a view to their eventual decipherment. The prodigious advantages afforded by high altitudes for this kind of work were illustrated by the brilliant results of Professor Young’s observations in the Rocky Mountains during the summer of 1872. By the diligent labor of several years he had, at that time, constructed a list of one hundred and three distinct lines occasionally visible in the spectrum of the chromosphere. In seventy-two days, at Sherman (8,335 feet above the sea), it was extended to 273. Yet the weather was exceptionally cloudy, and the spot (a station on the Union Pacific Railway, in the Territory of Wyoming) not perhaps the best that might have been chosen for an “astronomical reconnaissance.”[16]

A totally different kind of solar research is that in aid of which the Mount Whitney expedition was organized in 1881. Professor S. P. [Pg 8] Langley, director of the Alleghany observatory in Pennsylvania, has long been engaged in the detailed study of the radiations emitted by the sun; inventing, for the purpose of its prosecution, the “bolometer,”[17] an instrument twenty times as sensitive to changes of temperature as the thermopile. But the solar spectrum as it is exhibited at the surface of the earth, is a very different thing from the solar spectrum as it would appear could it be formed of sunbeams, so to speak, fresh from space, unmodified by atmospheric action. For not only does our air deprive each ray of a considerable share of its energy (the total loss may be taken at 20 to 25 per cent. when the sky is clear and the sun in the zenith), but it deals unequally with them, robbing some more than others, and thus materially altering their relative importance. Now it was Professor Langley’s object to reconstruct the original state of things, and he saw that this could be done most effectually by means of simultaneous observations at the summit and base of a high mountain. For the effect upon each separate ray of transmission through a known proportion of the atmosphere being (with the aid of the bolometer) once ascertained, a very simple calculation would suffice to eliminate the remaining effects, and thus virtually secure an extra-atmospheric post of observation.

The honor of rendering this important service to science was adjudged to the highest summit in the United States. The Sierra Nevada culminates in a granite pile, rising, somewhat in the form of a gigantic helmet, fronting eastwards, to a height of 14,887 feet. Mount Whitney is thus entitled to rank as the Mount Blanc of its own continent. In order to reach it, a railway journey of 3,400 miles, from Pittsburg to San Francisco, and from San Francisco to Caliente, was a brief and easy preliminary. The real difficulty began with a march of 120 miles across the arid and glaring Inyo desert, the thermometer standing at 110° in the shade (if shade there were to be found.) Towards the end of July 1881, the party reached the settlement of Lone Pine at the foot of the Sierras, where a camp for low-level observations was pitched (at a height, it is true, of close upon 4,000 feet), and the needful instruments were unpacked and adjusted. Close overhead, as it appeared, but in reality sixteen miles distant, towered the gaunt, and rifted, and seemingly inaccessible pinnacle which was the ultimate goal of their long journey. The illusion of nearness produced by the extraordinary transparency of the air was dispelled when, on examination with a telescope, what had worn the aspect of patches of moss, proved to be extensive forests.

The ascent of such a mountain with a train of mules bearing a delicate and precious freight of scientific apparatus, was a perhaps unexampled enterprise. It was, however, accomplished without the occurrence, though at the frequent and imminent risk, of disaster, after a toilsome climb of seven or eight days through an unexplored and, to less resolute adventurers, impassable waste of rocks, gullies, and precipices. Finally a site was chosen for the upper station on a swampy ledge, 13,000 feet above the sea; and there, notwithstanding extreme discomforts from bitter cold, fierce sunshine, high winds, and, worst of all, “mountain sickness,” with its intolerable attendant debility, observations were determinedly carried on, in combination with those at Lone Pine, and others daily made on the highest crest of the mountain, until September 11. They were well worth the cost. By their means a real extension was given to knowledge, and a satisfactory definiteness introduced into subjects previously involved in very wide uncertainty.

Contrary to the received opinion, it now appeared that the weight of atmospheric absorption falls upon the upper or blue end of the [Pg 9] spectrum, and that the obstacles to the transmission of light waves through the air diminish as their length increases, and their refrangibility consequently diminishes. A yellow tinge is thus imparted to the solar rays by the imperfectly transparent medium through which we see them. And, since the sun possesses an atmosphere of its own, exercising an unequal or “selective” absorption of the same character, it follows that, if both these dusky-red veils were withdrawn, the true color of the photosphere would show as a very distinct blue[18]—not merely bluish, but a real azure just tinted with green, like the hue of a mountain lake fed with a glacier stream. Moreover, the further consequence ensues, that the sun is hotter than had been supposed. For the higher the temperature of a glowing body, the more copiously it emits rays from the violet end of the spectrum. The blueness of its light is, in fact, a measure of the intensity of its incandescence. Professor Langley has not yet ventured (that we are aware of) on an estimate of what is called the “effective temperature” of the sun—the temperature, that is, which it would be necessary to attribute to the surface of the radiating power of lamp-black to enable it to send us just the quantity of heat that the sun does actually send us. Indeed, the present state of knowledge still leaves an important hiatus—only to be filled by more or less probable guessing in the reasoning by which inferences on this subject must be formed; while the startling discrepancies between the figures adopted by different, and equally respectable, authorities sufficiently show that none are entitled to any confidence. The amount of heat received in a given interval of time by the earth from the sun is, however, another matter, and one falling well within the scope of observation. This Professor Langley’s experiments (when completely worked out) will, by their unequalled precision, enable him to determine with some approach to finality. Pouillet valued the “solar constant” at 1·7 “calories”; in other works, had calculated that, our atmosphere being supposed removed, vertical sunbeams would have power to heat in each minute of time, by one degree centigrade, 1·7 gramme of water for each square centimetre of the earth’s surface. This estimate was raised by Crova to 2·3, and by Violle in 1877 to 2·5;[19] Professor Langley’s new data bring it up (approximately as yet) to three calories per square centimetre per minute. This result alone would, by its supreme importance to meteorology, amply repay the labors of the Mount Whitney expedition.

Still more unexpected is the answer supplied to the question: Were the earth wholly denuded of its aëriform covering, what would be the temperature of its surface? We are informed in reply that it would be at the outside 50 degrees of Fahrenheit below zero, or 82 of frost. So that mercury would remain solid even when exposed to the rays—undiminished by atmospheric absorption—of a tropical sun at noon.[20] The paradoxical aspect of this conclusion—a perfectly legitimate and reliable one—disappears when it is remembered that under the imagined circumstances there would be absolutely nothing to hinder radiation into the frigid depths of space, and that the solar rays would, consequently, find abundant employment in maintaining a difference of 189 degrees[21] between the temperature of the mercury and that of its environment. What we may with perfect accuracy call the clothing function of our atmosphere is thus vividly brought home to us; for it protects the teeming surface of our planet against the cold of space exactly in the same way as, and much more effectually than, a lady’s sealskin mantle keeps her warm in frosty weather. That is to say, it impedes radiation. Or, again, to borrow another comparison, the gaseous envelope we [Pg 10] breathe in (and chiefly the watery part of it) may be literally described as a “trap for sunbeams.” It permits their entrance (exacting, it is true, a heavy toll), but almost totally bars their exit. It is now easy to understand why it is that on the airless moon no vapors rise to soften the hard shadow-outlines of craters or ridges throughout the fierce blaze of the long lunar day. In immediate contact with space (if we may be allowed the expression) water, should such a substance exist on our enigmatical satellite, must remain frozen, though exposed for endless æons of time to direct sunshine.

Amongst the most noteworthy results of Professor Langley’s observations in the Sierra Nevada was the enormous extension given by them to the solar spectrum in the invisible region below the red. The first to make any detailed acquaintance with their obscure beams was Captain Abney, whose success in obtaining a substance—the so-called “blue bromide” of silver—sensitive to their chemical action, enabled him to derive photographic impressions from rays possessing the relatively great wave-length of 1,200 millionths of a millimetre. This, be it noted, approaches very closely to the theoretical limit set by Cauchy to that end of the spectrum. The information was accordingly received with no small surprise that the bolometer showed entirely unmistakable heating effects from vibrations of the wave-length 2,800. The “dark continent” of the solar spectrum was thus demonstrated to cover an expanse nearly eight times that of the bright or visible part.[22] And in this newly discovered region lie three-fifths of the entire energy received from the sun—three-fifths of the vital force imparted to our planet for keeping its atmosphere and ocean in circulation, its streams rippling and running, its forests growing, its grain ripening. Throughout this wide range of vibrations the modifying power of our atmosphere is little felt. It is, indeed, interrupted by great gaps produced by absorption somewhere; but since they show no signs of diminution at high altitudes, they are obviously due to an extra-terrestrial cause. Here a tempting field of inquiry lies open to scientific explorers.

On one other point, earlier ideas have had to give way to better grounded ones derived from this fruitful series of investigation. Professor Langley has effected a redistribution of energy in the solar spectrum. The maximum of heat was placed by former inquirers in the obscure tract of the infra-red; he has promoted it to a position in the orange approximately coincident with the point of greatest luminous intensity. The triple curve, denoting by its three distinct summits the supposed places in the spectrum of the several maxima of heat, light, and “actinism,” must now finally disappear from our text-books, and with it the last vestige of belief in a corresponding threefold distinction of qualities in the solar radiations. From one end to the other of the whole gamut of them, there is but one kind of difference—that of wave-length, or frequency in vibration; and there is but one curve by which the rays of the spectrum can properly be represented—that of energy, or the power of doing work on material particles. What the effect of that work may be, depends upon the special properties of such material particles, not upon any recondite faculty in the radiations.

These brilliant results of a month’s bivouac encourage the most sanguine anticipation as to the harvest of new truths to be gathered by a steady and well-organized pursuance of the same plan of operations. It must, however, be remembered that the scheme completed on Mount Whitney had been carefully designed, and in its preliminary parts executed at Alleghany. The interrogatory was already prepared; it only remained to register replies, and deduce conclusions. Nature seldom volunteers information: usually it has to be extracted from her by skilful cross-examination. The main secret of finding her a good witness consists in having a clear idea beforehand what it is one wants to find out. No opportunities of seeing will avail those who know not what to look for. Thus, not the crowd of casual observers, but the few who consistently and systematically think, will profit by the [Pg 11] effort now being made to rid the astronomer of a small fraction of his terrestrial impediments. It is, nevertheless, admitted on all hands that no step can at present be taken at all comparable in its abundant promise of increased astronomical knowledge to that of providing suitably elevated sites for the exquisite instruments constructed by modern opticians.

Europe has not remained behind America in this significant movement. An observatory on Mount Etna, at once astronomical, meteorological, and seismological, was nominally completed in the summer of 1882, and will doubtless before long begin to give proof of efficiency in its threefold capacity. The situation is magnificent. Etna has long been famous for the amplitude of the horizon commanded from it and the serenity of its encompassing skies favors celestial no less than terrestrial vision. Professor Langley, who made a stay of twenty days upon the mountain in 1879-80, with the object of reducing to strict measurement the advantages promised by it, came to the conclusion that the “seeing” there is better than that in England (judging from data given by Mr. Webb) in the proportion of three to two—that is to say, a telescope of two inches aperture on Etna would show as much as one of three in England. Yet the circumstances attending his visit were of the least favorable kind. He was unable to find a suitable shelter higher up than Casa del Bosco, an isolated hut within the forest belt (as its name imports), at considerably less than half the elevation of the new observatory; the imperfect mounting of his telescope rendered observation all but impossible within a range of 30 degrees from the zenith, thus excluding the most serene portion of the sky; moreover, his arrival was delayed until December 25th, when the weather was thoroughly broken, high winds were incessantly troublesome, and only five nights out of seventeen proved astronomically available. It is, accordingly, reassuring to learn that while, with the naked eye, at ordinary levels, he could see but six Pleiades, with glimpses of a seventh and eighth, on Etna he steadily distinguished nine even before the moon had set;[23] and that the telescopic definition though not uniformly good, was on December 31st such as he had never before seen on the sun, “least of all with a blue sky;”[24] the “rice-grain” structure came out beautifully under a power of 212; and for the spectroscopic examination of prominences, the fainter orange light of their helium constituent served almost equally well with the strong radiance of the crimson ray of hydrogen (C)—a test of transparency which those accustomed to such studies will appreciate.

The Etnean observatory is the most elevated building in Europe. It stands at a height above the sea of 9,655 ft., or 1,483 ft. above the monastery of the Great St. Bernard. Its walls enclose the well-known “Casa Inglese,” where travellers were accustomed to spend the night before undertaking the final ascent of the cone, and occupy a site believed secure from the incursions of lava. Astronomical work is designed to be carried on there from June to September. For the Merz equatorial, 35 centimetres (13·8 inches) in aperture, which is facile primus of its instrumental equipment, a duplicate mounting has been provided at Catania, whither it will be removed during the winter months. The primary aim of the establishment is the study of the sun. Its great desirability for this purpose formed the theme of the representations from Signor Tacchini (then director of the observatory of Palermo, now of that of the Collegio Romano), which determined the Italian government upon trying the experiment. But we hear with pleasure that stellar spectroscopy will also come in for a large share of attention. The privilege of observation from the summit of Etna will not be enjoyed exclusively by the local staff. The Municipality of Catania who have borne their share in the expense of the undertaking, generously propose to give it somewhat of an international character, by providing accommodation for any foreign astronomers who may desire to enjoy a respite from the hampering conditions of low-level star-gazing. We cannot doubt that such exceptional facilities will be turned to the best account. [Pg 12]

Eight years have now passed since General de Nansonty, aided by the engineer Vaussenat, established himself for the winter on the top of the Pic du Midi. Zeal for the promotion of weather-knowledge was the impelling motive of this adventure, which included, amongst other rude incidents, a snow-siege of little less than six months. It resulted in crowning one of the highest crests of the Pyrenees with a permanent meteorological observatory opened for work in 1881. It is now designed to render the station available for astronomical purposes as well.

The important tasks in progress at the Paris observatory have of late been singularly impeded by bad weather. During the latter half of 1882 scarcely four or five good nights per month were secured, and in December these were reduced to two.[25] Moreover, M. Thollon, who, according to his custom, arrived from Nice in June for the summer’s work, returned thither in September without having found the opportunity of making one single spectroscopic observation. Yet within easy and immediate reach was a post, already in scientific occupation, where as General de Nansonty reported, ordinary print was legible by the radiance of the milky way and zodiacal light alone, and fifteen or sixteen Pleiades could be counted with the naked eye. At length Admiral Mouchez, the energetic director of the Paris observatory, convinced of the urgent need of an adjunct establishment under less sulky skies, issued to MM. Thollon and Trépied a commission of inquiry into telescopic possibilities on the Pic du Midi. Their stay lasted from August 17th, to September 22d, 1883, and their experiences were summarised in a note (preliminary to a detailed report) published in the “Comptes Rendus” for October 16th, glowing with a certain technical enthusiasm difficult to be conveyed to those who have never strained their eyes to catch the vanishing gleam of a “chromospheric line” through a “milky” sky, and dim and tremulous air. The definition, they declared, was simply marvellous. Not even in Upper Egypt had they seen anything like it. The sun stood out, clean-cut and vivid, on a dark blue sky, and so slight were the traces of diffusion, that, for observations at his edge the conditions approached those of a total eclipse. These advantages are forcibly illustrated by the statement that, instead of eight lines ordinarily visible in the entire spectrum of the chromosphere, more than thirty revealed themselves in the orange and green parts of it alone (Dto. F)! A fact still more remarkable is that prominences were actually seen, and their forms distinguished, though foreshortened and faint, on the very disc of the sun itself—and this not merely by such glimmering views as had previously, at especially favorable moments, tantalised the sight of Young and Tacchini, but steadily and with certainty. We are further told that, on the mornings of September 19th and 20th, Venus was discerned, without aid from glasses, within two degrees of the sun.

These extraordinary facilities of vision disappeared, indeed, as, with the advance of day, the slopes of the mountain became heated and set the thin air quivering; but were reproduced at night in the tranquil splendor of moon and stars.

The expediency of using such opportunities was obvious; and it has accordingly been determined to erect a good equatorial in this tempting situation, elevated 9,375 feet above the troubles of the nether air. The expense incurred will be trifling; no special staff will be needed; the post will simply constitute a dependency of the Paris establishment, where astronomers thrown out of work by the malice of the elements may find a refuge from enforced idleness, as well as, possibly, unlooked-for openings to distinction.

We must now ask our readers to accompany us in one more brief flight across the Atlantic. After a successful observation of the late transit of Venus at Jamaica, Dr. Copeland, the chief astronomer of Lord Crawford’s observatory at Dun Echt, took advantage of the railway which now crosses the Western Andes at an elevation of 14,666 feet, to make a [Pg 13] high-level tour of exploration in the interests of science. Some of the results communicated by him to the British Association at Southport last year, and published, with more detail, in the astronomical journal “Copernicus,” are extremely suggestive. At La Paz, in Bolivia, 12,050 feet above the sea, a naked-eye sketch of the immemorially familiar star-groups in Taurus, made in full moonlight, showed seventeen Hyades (two more than are given in Argelander’s “Uranometria Nova”) and ten Pleiades. Now ordinary eyes under ordinary circumstances see six, or at most seven, stars in the latter cluster. Hipparchus censured Aratus—who took his facts on trust from Eudoxus—for stating the lesser number, on the ground that, in serene weather, and in the absence of the moon, a seventh was discernible.[26] On the other hand, several of the ancients reckoned nine Pleiades, and we are assured that Moestlin, the worthy preceptor of Kepler, was able to detect, under the little propitious skies of Wurtemberg, no less than fourteen.[27] An instance of keensightedness but slightly inferior is afforded by a contemporary American observer: Mr. Henry Carvil Lewis, of Germantown, Pennsylvania, frequently perceives twelve of this interesting sidereal community.[28] The number of Pleiades counted is, then, without some acquaintance with the observer’s ordinary range of sight, a quite indeterminate criterion of atmospheric clearness; although we readily admit that Dr. Copeland’s detection of ten in the very front of a full moon gives an exalted idea of visual possibilities at La Paz.

During the season of tempestades—from the middle of December to the end of March—the weather in the Andes is simply abominable. Mr. Whymper describes everything as “bottled up in mist” after one brief bright hour in the early morning, and complains, writing from Quito, March 18th, 1880,[29] that his exertions had been left unrewarded by a single view from any one of the giant peaks scaled by him. Dr. Copeland adds a lamentable account—doubly lamentable to an astronomer in search of improved definition—of thunderstorms, torrential rains merging into snow or hail, overcast nocturnal skies, and “visible exhalations” from the drenched pampas. At Puno, however, towards the end of March, he succeeded in making some valuable observations, notwithstanding the detention—as contraband of war, apparently—of a large part of his apparatus. Puno is the terminal station on the Andes railway, and is situated at an altitude of 12,540 feet.

Here he not only discovered, with a 6-inch achromatic, mounted as need prescribed, several very close stellar pairs, of which Sir John Herschel’s 18 inch speculum had given him no intelligence; but in a few nights’ “sweeping” with a very small Vogel’s spectroscope, he just doubled the known number of a restricted, but particularly interesting, class of stars—if stars indeed they be. For while in the telescope they exhibit the ordinary stellar appearance of lucid points, they disclose, under the compulsion of prismatic analysis, the characteristic marks of a gaseous constitution; that is to say, the principal part of their light is concentrated in a few bright lines. The only valid distinction at present recognisable by us between stars and “nebulæ” is thus, if not wholly abolished, at least rendered of a purely conventional character. We may agree to limit the term “nebulæ” to bodies of a certain chemical constitution; but we cannot limit the doings of Nature, or insist on the maintenance of an arbitrary line of demarcation. From the keen rays of Vega to the undefined lustre of the curdling wisps of cosmical fog clinging round the sword-hilt of Orion, the distance is indeed enormous. But so it is from a horse to an oak tree; yet when we descend to volvoxes and diatoms, it is impossible to pronounce off-hand in which of the two great provinces of the kingdom of life we are treading. It would now seem that the celestial spaces have also their volvoxes and diatoms—“limiting instances,” as Bacon termed such—bodies that share the characters, and hang on the borders of two orders of creation. [Pg 14]

In 1867, MM. Wolf and Rayet, of Paris, discovered that three yellow stars in the Swan, of about the eighth magnitude possessed the notable peculiarity of a bright-line spectrum. It was found by Raspighi and Le Sueur to be shared by one of the second order of brightness in Argo (γ Argûs), and Professor Pickering, of Harvard, reinforced the species, in 1880-81, with two further specimens. Dr. Copeland’s necessarily discursive operations on the shores of Lake Titicaca raised the number of its members at once from six to eleven or twelve. Now the smaller “planetary” nebulæ—so named by Sir William Herschel from the planet-like discs presented by the first-known and most conspicuous amongst them—are likewise only distinguished from minute stars by their spectra. Their light, when analysed with a prism, instead of running out into a parti-colored line, gathers itself into one or more bright dots. The position on the prismatic scale of those dots, alone serves to mark them off from the Wolf-Rayet family of stars. Hence the obvious inference that both nebulæ and stars (of this type) are bodies similar in character, but dissimilar in constitution—that they agree in the general plan of their structure, but differ in the particular quality of the substances glowing in the vast, incandescent atmospheres which display their characteristic bright lines in our almost infinitely remote spectroscopes. Indeed, the fundamental identity of the two species are virtually demonstrated, by the “migrations” (to use a Baconian phrase) of the “new star” of 1876, which, as its original conflagration died out, passed through the stages, successively, of a Wolf-Rayet or nebular star (if we may be permitted to coin the term), and of a planetary nebula. So that not all the stars in space are suns—at least, not in the sense given to the word by our domestic experience in the solar system.

The investigation of these objects possesses extraordinary interest. As an index to the true nature of the relation undoubtedly subsisting between the lucid orbs and the “shining fluid” which equally form part of the sidereal system, their hybrid character renders them of peculiar value. Their distribution—so far restricted to the Milky Way and its borders—may perhaps afford a clue to the organisation of, and processes of change in that stupendous collection of worlds. At present, speculation would be premature; what we want are facts—facts regarding the distances of these anomalous objects—whether or not they fall within the range of the methods of measurement at present available; facts regarding their apparent motions; facts regarding the specific differences of the light emitted by them: its analogies with that of other bodies; its possible variations in amount or kind. The accumulation of any sufficient information on these points will demand with every external aid, the patient labor of years; under average conditions at the earth’s surface, it can scarcely be considered as practically feasible. The facility of Dr. Copeland’s discoveries sufficiently sets off the prerogatives, in this respect, of elevated stations; it is not too much to say that this purpose—were it solely in view—would fully justify the demand for their establishment.

Towards one other subject which we might easily be tempted to dwell upon, we will barely glance. Most of our readers have heard something of Dr. Huggins’s new method of photographing the corona. Its importance consists in the prospect which it seems to offer for substituting for scanty and hurried researches during the brief moments of total eclipse, a leisurely and continuous study of that remarkable solar appendage. The method may be described as a differential one. It depends for its success on the superior intensity of coronal to ordinary sunlight in the extreme violet region. And since it happens that chloride of silver is sensitive to those rays only in which the corona is strongest, the coronal form disengages itself photographically, from the obliterating splendor which effectually shrouds it visually, by the superior vigor of its impression upon a chloride of silver film.

Now if this ingenious mode of procedure is to be rendered of any practical avail, advantage must, above all, be taken of the finer air of the mountains. This for two reasons. First, because the glare which, as it were, smothers the delicate structure we want to obtain records of, is there at a minimum; secondly, because the violet rays by which [Pg 15] it impresses itself upon the “photographic retina”[30] are there at a maximum. These, as Professor Langley’s experiments show, suffer far more from atmospheric ravages than their less refrangible companions in the spectrum; the gain thus to them, relatively to the general gain, grows with every yard of ascent; the proportion, in other words, of short and quick vibrations in the light received becomes exalted as we press upwards—a fact brought into especial prominence by Dr. Copeland’s solar observations at Vincocaya, 14,360 feet above the sea-level. Indeed, for all the operations of celestial photography, the advantages of great altitudes can hardly be exaggerated; and celestial photography is gradually assuming an importance which its first tentative efforts, thirty-four years ago, gave little reason to expect.

Thus, in three leading departments of modern astronomy—solar physics, stellar spectroscopy, and the wide field of photography—the aid of mountain observatories may be pronounced indispensable; while in all there is scarcely a doubt that it will prove eminently useful. There are, indeed, difficulties and drawbacks to their maintenance. The choice of a site, in the first place, is a matter requiring the most careful deliberation. Not all elevated points are available for the purpose. Some act persistently as vapor-condensers, and seldom doff their sullen cap of clouds. From any mountain in the United Kingdom, for instance, it would be folly to expect an astronomical benefit. On Ben Nevis, the chief amongst them, a meteorological observatory has recently been established with the best auguries of success; but it would indeed be a sanguine star-gazer who should expect improved telescopic opportunities from its misty summit.

Even in more favored climates, storms commonly prevail on the heights during several months of the year, and vehement winds give more or less annoyance at all seasons; the direct sunbeams sear the skin like a hot iron; the chill air congeals the blood. Dr. Copeland records that at Vincocaya, one afternoon in June, the black bulb thermometer exposed to solar radiation stood at 199°.1 of Fahrenheit—actually 13° above the boiling-point of water in that lofty spot—while the dry bulb was coated with ice! Still more formidable than these external discomforts is the effect on the human frame itself of transportation into a considerably rarer medium than that for existence in which it was constituted. The head aches; the pulse throbs; every inspiration is a gasp for breath; exertion becomes intolerable. Mr. Whymper’s example seems to show that these extreme symptoms disappear with the resolute endurance of them, and that the system gradually becomes inured to its altered circumstances. But the probationary course is a severe one; and even though life flow back to its accustomed channels, labor must always be painfully impeded by a diminution of the vital supply. And the minor but very sensible inconveniences caused by the difficulty of cooking with water that boils twenty or thirty degrees (according to the height) below 212°, by the reluctance of fires to burn, and of tobacco to keep alight, and we complete a sufficiently deterrent list of the penalties attendant on literal compliance with the magnanimous motto, Altiora petimus.

That they will, nevertheless, not prove deterrent we may safely predict. Enthusiasm for science will assuredly overbear all difficulties that are not impossibilities. Dr. Copeland, taking all into account, ventures to recommend the occupation during the most favorable season—say from October to December—of an “extra-elevated station” 18,500 ft. above the sea, more than one promising site for which might be found in the vicinity of Lake Titicaca. For a permanent mountain observatory, however, he believes that 12,500 ft. would be the outside limit of practical usefulness. It is probable, indeed, that the Rocky Mountains will anticipate the Andes in lending the aid of their broad shoulders to lift astronomers towards the stars. Already a meteorological post has been established on Pike’s Peak in Colorado, at an altitude of 14,151 ft. Telescopic vision there is said to be of rare excellence; we shall be surprised if its benefits be not ere long rendered available. [Pg 16]

After all, the present strait of optical astronomy is but the inevitable consequence of its astonishing progress. While instruments remained feeble and imperfect, atmospheric troubles were comparatively little felt; they became intolerable when all other obstacles to a vast increase in the range of distinct vision were removed. The arrival of that stage in the history of the telescope, when the advantages to be derived from its further development should be completely neutralised by the more and more sensibly felt disadvantages of our situation on an air-encompassed globe, was only a question of time. The point was a fixed one: it could be reached later only by a more sluggish advance. Both the difficulty and its remedy were foreseen 167 years ago by the greatest of astronomers and opticians.

“If the theory of making telescopes,” Sir Isaac Newton wrote in 1717,[31] “could at length be fully brought into practice, yet there would be certain bounds beyond which telescopes could not perform. For the air through which we look upon the stars is in a perpetual tremor as may be seen by the tremulous motion of shadows cast from high towers, and by the twinkling of the fixed stars. The only remedy is a most serene and quiet air, such as may perhaps be found on the tops of the highest mountains above the grosser clouds.”

Edinburgh Review.




The highest rank in literature belongs to those who combine the properly poetical with philosophical qualities, and crown both with a certain robust sincerity and common sense. The sovereign poet must be not merely a singer, but also a sage; to passion and music he must add large ideas; he must extend in width as well as in height; but, besides this, he must be no dreamer or fanatic, and must be rooted as firmly in the hard earth as he spreads widely and mounts freely towards the sky. Goethe, as we have described him, satisfies these conditions, and as much can be said of no other man of the modern world but Dante and Shakspeare.

Of this trio each is complete in all the three dimensions. Each feels deeply, each knows and sees clearly, and each has a stout grasp of reality. This completeness is what gives them their universal fame, and makes them interesting in all times and places. Each, however, is less complete in some directions than in others. Dante though no fanatic, yet is less rational than so great a man should have been. Shakspeare wants academic knowledge. Goethe, too, has his defects, but this is rather the place for dwelling on his peculiar merits. In respect of influence upon the world, he has for the present the advantage of being the latest, and therefore the least obsolete and exhausted, of the three. But he is also essentially much more of a teacher than his two predecessors. Alone among them he has a system, a theory of life, which he has thought and worked out for himself.

From Shakspeare, no doubt, the world may learn, and has learnt, much, yet he professed so little to be a teacher, that he has often been represented as almost without personality, as a mere undisturbed mirror, in which all Nature reflects itself. Something like a century passed before it was perceived that his works deserved to be in a serious sense studied. Dante was to his countrymen a great example and source of inspiration, but hardly, perhaps, a great teacher. On the other hand, Goethe was first to his own nation, and has since been to the whole world, what he describes his own Chiron, “the noble pedagogue,”[32] a teacher and wise counsellor on all the most important subjects. To [Pg 17] students in almost every department of literature and art, to unsettled spirits needing advice for the conduct of life, to the age itself in a great transition, he offers his word of weighty counsel, and is an acknowledged authority on a greater number of subjects than any other man. It is the great point of distinction between him and Shakspeare that he is so seriously didactic. Like Shakspeare myriad-minded, he has nothing of that ironic indifference, that irresponsibility, which has been often attributed to Shakspeare. He is, indeed, strangely indifferent on many points, which other teachers count important; but the lessons which he himself considers important, he teaches over and over again with all the seriousness of one who is a teacher by vocation. And, as I have said, when we look at his teaching as a whole, we find that it has unity, that, taken together, it makes a system, not, indeed in the academic sense, but in the sense that a great principle or view of life is the root from which all the special precepts proceed. This has, indeed, been questioned. Friedrich Schlegel made it a complaint against Goethe, that he had “no centre;” but a centre he has; only the variety of his subjects and styles is so great, and he abandons himself to each in turn so completely, that in his works, as in Nature itself, the unity is much less obvious than the multiplicity. Now that we have formed some estimate of the magnitude of his influence, and have also distinguished the stages by which his genius was developed, and his influence in Germany and the world diffused, it remains to examine his genius itself, the peculiar way of thinking, and the fundamental ideas through which he influenced the world.

Never, perhaps, was a more unfortunate formula invented than when, at a moment of reaction against his ascendancy, it occurred to some one to assert that Goethe had talent but not genius. No doubt the talent is there; perhaps no work in literature exhibits a mastery of so many literary styles as “Faust.” From the sublime lyric of the prologue, which astonished Shelley, we pass through scenes in which the problems of human character are dealt with, scenes in which the supernatural is brought surprisingly near to real life, scenes of humble life startlingly vivid, grotesque scenes of devilry, scenes of overwhelming pathos; then, in the second part, we find an incomparable revival of the Greek drama, and, at the close, a Dantesque vision of the Christian heaven. Such versatility in a single work is unrivalled; and the versatility of which Goethe’s writings, as a whole, gives evidence is much greater still. But to represent him, on this account, as a sort of mocking-bird, or ready imitator, is not merely unjust. Even if we give this representation a flattering turn, and describe him as a being almost superior to humanity, capable of entering fully into all that men think and feel, but holding himself independent of it all, such a being as is described (where, I suppose, Goethe is pointed at) in the Palace of Art, again, I say, it is not merely unjust. Not merely Goethe was not such a being, but we may express it more strongly and say: such a being is precisely what Goethe was not. He had, no doubt, a great power of entering into foreign literatures; he was, no doubt, indifferent to many controversies which in England, when we began to lead him, still raged hotly. But these were characteristic qualities, not of Goethe personally, but of Germany in the age of Goethe. A sort of cosmopolitan characterlessness marked the nation, so that Lessing could say in Goethe’s youth that the character of the Germans was to have no character. Goethe could not but share in the infirmity, but his peculiarity was that from the beginning he felt it as an infirmity, and struggled to overcome it. That unbounded intolerance, that readiness to allow everything and appreciate every one, which was so marked in the Germans of that time that it is clearly perceptible in their political history, and contributed to their humiliation by Napoleon, is just what is satirized in the delineation of Wilhelm Meister. Jarno says to Wilhelm, “I am glad to see you out of temper; it would be better still if you could be for once thoroughly angry.” This sentiment was often in Goethe’s mouth; so far was he from priding himself upon serene universal impartiality. Crabbe Robinson heard him say what an annoyance he felt it to appreciate everything equally and to be able to hate [Pg 18] nothing. He flattered himself at that time that he had a real aversion. “I hate,” he said, “everything Oriental” (“Eigentlich hasse ich alles Orientalische”). He goes further in the “West-östlicher Divan,” where, in enumerating the qualities a poet ought to have, he lays it down as indispensable that he should hate many things (“Dann zuletzt ist unerlässlich dass der Dichter manches hasse”). True, no doubt that he found it difficult to hate. An infinite good nature was born in him, and, besides this, he grew up in a society in which all established opinions had been shaken, so that for a rational man it was really difficult to determine what deserved hatred or love. What is wholly untrue in that view of him, which was so fashionable forty years ago—“I sit apart holding no form of creed, but contemplating all”—is that this tolerance was the intentional result of cold pride or self-sufficiency. He does not seem to me to have been either proud or unsympathetic, and among the many things of which he might boast, certainly he would not have included a want of definite opinions—he, who was never tired of rebuking the Germans for their vagueness, and who admired young Englishmen expressly because they seemed to know their own minds, even when they had little mind to know. Distinctness, character, is what he admires, what through life he struggles for, what he and Schiller alike chide the Germans for wanting. But he cannot attain it by a short cut. Narrowness is impossible to him, not only because his mind is large, but because the German public in their good-natured tolerance have made themselves familiar with such vast variety of ideas. He cannot be a John Bull, however much he may admire John Bull, because he does not live in an island. To have distinct views he must make a resolute act of choice, since all ideas have been laid before him, all are familiar to the society in which he lives. This perplexity, this difficulty of choosing what was good out of such a heap of opinions, he often expresses: “The people to be sure are not accustomed to what is best, but then they are so terribly well-read!”[33] But it is just the struggle he makes for distinctness that is admirable in him. The breadth, the tolerance, he has in common with his German contemporaries; what he has to himself is the resolute determination to arrive at clearness.

Nevertheless, he may seem indifferent even to those whose minds are less contracted than was the English mind half a century ago, for this reason, that his aim, though not less serious than that of others, is not quite the same. He seldom takes a side in the controversies of the time. You do not find him weighing the claims of Protestantism and Catholicism, nor following with eager interest the dispute between orthodoxy and rationalism. Again when all intellectual Germany is divided between the new philosophy of Kant and the old system, and later, when varieties show themselves in the new philosophy, when Fichte and Schelling succeed to the vogue of Kant, Goethe remains undisturbed by all these changes of opinion. He is almost as little affected by political controversy. The French Revolution irritates him, but not so much because it is opposed to his convictions as because it creates disturbance. Even the War of Liberation cannot rouse him. Was he not then a quietest? Did he not hold himself aloof, whether in a proud feeling of superiority or in mere Epicurean indifference, from all the interests and passions of humanity? If this were the case, or nearly the case, Goethe would have no claim to rank in the first class of literature. He might pass for a prodigy of literary expertness and versatility, but he would attract no lasting interest. Such quietism in a man upon whom the eyes of a whole nation were bent, could never be compared to the quietism of Shakspeare, who belonged to the uninfluential classes, and to whom no one looked for guidance.

But in truth the quietism of Goethe was the effect not of indifference or of selfishness, but of preoccupation. He had prescribed to himself in early life a task, and he declined to be drawn aside from it by the controversies of the time. It was a task worthy of the powers of the greatest man; it appeared to him, when he devoted himself to it, more useful and necessary than the special undertakings of theologian or [Pg 19] philosopher. At the outset he might fairly claim to be the only earnest man in Germany, and might regard the partisans alike of Church and University as triflers in comparison with himself. The French Revolution changed the appearance of things. He could not deny that the political questions opened by that convulsion were of the greatest importance. But he was now forty years old, and the work of his life had begun so early, had been planned with so much care and prosecuted with so much method, that he was less able than many men might have been to make a new beginning at forty. Hence he was merely disturbed by the change which inspired so many others, and to the end of his life continued to look back upon the twenty odd years between the Seven Years’ War and the Revolution as a golden time, as in a peculiar sense his own time.[34] The new events disturbed him in his habits without actually forcing him to form new habits; he found himself able, though with less comfort, to lead the same sort of life as before; and so he passed into the Napoleonic period and arrived in time at the year of liberation, 1813. Then, indeed, his quietism became shocking, and he felt it so himself; but it was now really too late to abandon a road on which he had travelled so long, and which he had honestly selected as the best.

What, then, was this task to which Goethe had so early devoted himself, and which seemed to him too important to be postponed even to the exigencies of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods? It was that task about which, since Goethe’s time, so much has been said—self-culture. “From my boyhood,” says Wilhelm, speaking evidently for Goethe himself, “it has been my wish and purpose to develop completely all that is in me.” Elsewhere he says, “to make my own existence harmonious.” Here is the refined form of selfishness of which Goethe has been so often accused. And undoubtedly the phrase is one which will bear a selfish interpretation, just as a Christian may be selfish when he devotes himself to the salvation of his soul. But in the one case, as in the other, it is before all things evident that the task undertaken is very serious, and that the man who undertakes it must be of a very serious disposition. When, as in Goethe’s case it is self-planned and self-imposed, such an undertaking is comparable to those great practical experiments in the conduct of life which were made by the early Greek philosophers. Right or wrong, such an experiment can only be imagined by an original man, and can only be carried into effect by a man of very steadfast will. But we may add that it is no more necessary to give a selfish interpretation to this formula than to the other formulæ by which philosophers have tried to describe the object of a moral life. A harmonious existence does not necessarily mean an existence passed in selfish enjoyment. Nor is the pursuit of it necessarily selfish, since the best way to procure a harmonious existence for others is to find out by an experiment practised on oneself in what a harmonious existence consists, and by what methods it may be attained. For the present, at least, let us content ourselves with remarking that Goethe, who knew his own mind as well as most people, considered himself to carry disinterestedness almost to an extreme. What especially struck him in Spinoza, he says, was the boundless unselfishness that shone out of such sentences as this, “He who loves God must not require that God should love him again.” “For,” he continues, “to be unselfish in everything, especially in love and friendship, was my highest pleasure, my maxim, my discipline, so that that petulant sentence written latter, ‘If I love you, what does that matter to you?’ came from my very heart.”

However this may be, when a man, so richly gifted otherwise, displays the rarest of all manly qualities—viz., the power and persistent will to make his life systematic, and place all his action under the control of a principle freely and freshly conceived, he rises at once into the highest class of men. It is the strenuous energy with which Goethe enters into the battle of life, and fights there for a victory into [Pg 20] which others may enter, that makes him great, that makes him the teacher of these later ages, and not some foppish pretension of being above it all, of seeing through it and despising it. But just because he conceived the problem in his own manner, and not precisely as it is conceived by the recognized authorities on the conduct of life, he could take little interest in the controversies which those authorities held among themselves, and therefore passed for indifferent to the problem itself. He did not admit that the question was to form an opinion as to the conditions of the life after death, though he himself hoped for such a future life, for he wanted rather rightly to understand and to deal with the present life; nor did he want what is called in the schools a philosophy, remarking probably that the most approved professors of philosophy lived after all much in the same way as other people. It seemed to him that he was more earnest than either the theologians or the philosophers, just because he disregarded their disputes and grappled directly with the question which they under various pretexts evaded—how to make existence satisfactory.

He grasps it in the rough unceremonious manner of one who means business, and also in the manner which Rousseau had made fashionable. We have desires given us by God or Nature, convertible terms to him; these desires are meant to receive satisfaction, for the world is not a stupid place, and the Maker of the world is not stupid. This notion that human life is not a stupid affair, and that the fault must be ours if it seems so, that for everything wrong there must be a remedy,[35] is a sort of fundamental axiom with him, as it is with most moral reformers. Even when he has death before his mind he still protests. “‘He is no more!’ Ridiculous! Why ‘no more?’ ‘It is all over.’ What can be the meaning of that? Then it might as well never have existed. Give me rather an eternal void.” And this way of thinking brings him at once, or so he thinks, into direct conflict with the reigning system of morality, which is founded not on the satisfaction, but on the mortification of desire. He declares war against the doctrine of self-denial or abstinence. “Abstain, abstain!—that is the eternal song that rings in every ear. In the morning I awake in horror, and am tempted to shed bitter tears at the sight of day, which in its course will not gratify one wish, not one single wish.” So speaks Faust, and Goethe ratifies it in his own person, when he complains that, “we are not allowed to develop what we have in us, and are denied what is necessary to supply our deficiencies; robbed of what we have won by labor or has been allowed us by kindness, and find ourselves compelled, before we can form a clear opinion about it to give up our personality, at first in instalments, but at last completely; also that we are expected to make a more delighted face over the cup the more bitter it tastes, lest the unconcerned spectator should be affronted by any thing like a grimace.” He adds that this system is grounded on the maxim that “All is vanity,” a maxim which characteristically he pronounces false and blasphemous. That “all is not vanity” is indeed almost the substance of Goethe’s philosophy. “His faith,” so he tells the Houri who, at the gate of Paradise, requires him to prove his orthodoxy, “has always been that the world, whichever way it rolls, is a thing to love, a thing to be thankful for.”[36]

This doctrine again, is not in itself or necessarily a doctrine of selfishness, though it may easily be represented so. It may be true that all virtue requires self-denial; but for that very reason we may easily conceive a system of senseless and aimless self-denial setting itself up in the place of virtue. It is not every kind of self-denial that Goethe has in view, but the particular kind by which he has found himself hampered. His indignation is not moved when he sees absistence practised in order to attain some great end; it is the abstinence which leads to nothing and aims at nothing that provokes him. He has given [Pg 21] two striking dramatic pictures of it. There is Faust, who cannot tolerate the emptiness of his secluded life; but does it appear that he rebels against it simply because it brings no pleasure to himself, even though it confers benefit upon others and upon the world? The burden of his complaint is that his abstinence does no good to anybody, that the studies for which he foregoes pleasure lead to no real knowledge; and expressly to make this clear, Goethe introduces the story of the plague, which Faust and his father had tried to cure by a drug, which did infinitely more harm than the plague itself. The other picture is that of Brother Martin in “Götz,” the young monk who envies Götz his life so full of movement and emotion, while he is himself miserable under the restraint of his vows. Here, again, the complaint is that no good comes of such abstinence. The life of self-denial is conceived as an utter stagnation, unhealthy even from a moral point of view. It is contrasted with a life not of luxury, but of strenuous energy, at once wholesome and useful to the world.

So far, then, Goethe’s position is identical with that which Protestants take up against monasticism, when they maintain that powers were given to be used, desires implanted in order that they might be satisfied. He does not, any more than they, assert that when some great end is in view it may not be nobler to mortify the desire than to indulge it. But he applies the principle more consistently, and to a greater number of cases than they had applied it. Not against celibacy or useless self-torture only, but against all omission to satisfy desire, against all sluggishness or apathy in enjoyment—understood always that no special end is to be gained by the self-denial—he protests. In his poem, called the “General Confession” (“Generalbeichte”) he calls his followers to repent of the sin of having often let slip an opportunity of enjoyment, and makes them solemnly resolve not to be guilty of such sins in future. Here, at least, the reader may say, selfishness is openly preached; and perhaps this is the interpretation most commonly put upon the poem. Yet it is certainly unjust to pervert in this way an intentional paradox, and, in fact, in that very poem Goethe introduces the most elevated utterance of his philosophy; for the vow which the penitents are required to take is that they will “wean themselves from half-measures and live resolutely in the Whole, in the Good, and the Beautiful!” Goethe, in short, holds, as many other philosophers have done, that an elevated morality may be based on the idea of pleasure not less than on the idea of duty.

This principle, not new in itself, led to very new and important results when it was taken up not by a mere reasoner but by a man of the most various gifts and of the greatest energy. By “pleasure” or “satisfaction of desire” is usually meant something obvious, something passive, merely a supply of agreeable sensations to each of the five senses. In Goethe’s mouth the word takes quite a different meaning. He cannot conceive pleasure without energetic action, and the most necessary of all pleasures to him is that of imaginative creation. The desires, again, for which he claims satisfaction—what are they? Chief among them is the desire to enter into the secret of the universe, to recognize “what it is which holds the world together within.” Such desires as these might be satisfied, such pleasures enjoyed, without any very culpable self-indulgence. And existence would be satisfactory, or, as he calls it, harmonious, if it offered continually and habitually food for desire so understood, which is almost the same thing as capacity. But there are hindrances. The chief of these is the supposition of self denial. Of course every practical man knows that self-denial of a certain kind must be constantly practised in life. The small object must be foregone for the sake of the greater, the immediate pleasure for the sake of the remote, nay, the personal pleasure for the sake of the pleasure which is generous and sympathetic. But the timid superstition which sets up self-denial, divorced from all rational ends, as a thing good and right in itself, which makes us afraid of enjoyment as such, this is the chief hindrance, and against this Goethe launches his chief work “Faust. [Pg 22]” There is another hindrance, less obvious and needing to be dealt with in another way, which Goethe therefore attacks usually in prose rather than in poetry.

Man, as Goethe conceives him, is essentially active. The happiness he seeks is not passive enjoyment, but an occupation, a pursuit adapted to his inborn capacities. It follows that a principal condition of happiness is a just self-knowledge. He will be happy, who knows what he wants and what he can do. Here again Goethe gives importance to a doctrine which in itself is obvious enough by the persistent energy with which he applies it. He has been himself bewildered by the multiplicity of his own tastes and aptitudes. He has wanted to do everything in turn, and he has found himself capable to a certain extent of doing everything. Hence the question—What is my true vocation? has been to him exceptionally difficult. In studying it he has become aware of the numberless illusions and misconceptions which hide from most men the true nature of their own aptitudes, and therefore the path of their happiness. He finds that the circumstances of childhood, and especially our system of education, which “excites wishes, instead of awakening tastes,” have the effect of creating a multitude of unreal ambitions, deceptive impulses and semblances of aptitudes. He finds that most men have been more or less misled by these illusions, have more or less mistaken their true vocation, and therefore missed their true happiness. On this subject he has collected a vast mass of observations, and, in fact, added a new chapter to practical morality. This is the subject of “Wilhelm Meister,” not the most attractive nor the most perfect, but perhaps the most characteristic, of Goethe’s works and, as it were, the text-book of the Goethian philosophy. It is said not to be widely popular in Germany. Most English readers lay it down bewildered, wondering what Goethe’s admirers can see in it so extraordinary, and astonished at the indifference to what we have agreed to call morality—that is, the part of morality that concerns the relations of the sexes—which reigns throughout it. I shall touch on this latter point later. Meanwhile, let me remark, that few books have had a deeper influence upon modern literature than this famous novel. It is the first important instance of a novel which deals principally and on a large scale with opinions or views of life. How Wilhelm mistook his vocation, and how this mistake led to many others; how a secret society, the Society of the Tower, taught a doctrine on the subject of vocations, and of the method by which men are to be assisted in discovering their true vocations; how Wilhelm is assisted and by what stages he arrives at clearness—this is the subject of a long and elaborate narrative. It is throughout most seriously instructive; it is seldom very amusing; and we may add that the moral of the story is not brought out with very convincing distinctness. But it has been the model upon which the novel of the present day is formed. Written twenty years before the Waverley Novels, which are in the opposite extreme, since they make no serious attempt to teach anything and dwell upon everything which Goethe disregards, adventure, surprise, costume, it began to produce its effect among us when the influence of the Waverley Novel was exhausted. The idea now prevalent, which gives to the novel a practical as well as an artistic side, the idea which prompts us, when we wish to preach any kind of social or moral reform, to write a novel about it, seems to have made way chiefly through Goethe’s authority.

But the substance of “Wilhelm Meister” is even more important than the form. It presents the whole subject of morality under a new light, and as in this respect it is only the fullest of a number of utterances to the same effect made by Goethe, it can never be fully appreciated when it is considered by itself, but must be judged in the closest connection with his other works and with his life. Every attempt to treat such a subject as morality in an original manner has something alarming about it. Such attempts ought to be laid only before minds strong enough to consider them calmly, and yet of necessity they come to the knowledge of “the weak brethren,” who are frightened or unsettled by them. Moreover, such attempts are always likely to be one-sided. As it is usually an intense perception of something [Pg 23] overlooked into the orthodox morality that prompts them, the innovator is apt to be hurried into the opposite extreme, and to overlook in his turn what the orthodox morality has taught rightly. Goethe laid himself open to the charge of immorality. “Wilhelm Meister” was received with horror by the religious world; it was, if I remember right, publicly burnt by Count Stolberg. In England, Wordsworth spoke of it with disgust, and it still remains the book which chiefly justifies the profound distrust and aversion with which Goethe has been and is regarded among those who are Christian either in the dogmatic or in the larger sense. Not unnaturally it must be confessed.

But I do seriously submit that Christians should learn to be less timid than they are. In their absorbing anxiety for “the weaker brethren” they often seem to run the risk of becoming “weak brethren” themselves. We ought not to come to the consideration of moral questions under the influence of panic and nervous fright. It is true that few books seem at first sight more directly opposed than “Wilhelm Meister” to that practical Christianity which we love to think of as beyond controversy, that spirit which, as it breathes from almost all Christian churches and sects alike, strikes us as undoubtedly the essential part of religion. At first sight the book seems secular, heathenish in an extraordinary degree. Let us, then, if we will, warn young people away from it; but let us ask ourselves at the same time how a man so gifted, so serious and also so good natured—for there is no appearance of rancor in the book, which even contains a picture, tenderly and pleasingly drawn, of Christian pietism—could come to take a view so different from that commonly accepted of questions about which we are all so anxious. Such a course may lead us to see mistakes made by modern Christianity, which may have led Goethe also into mistakes by reaction; whereas the other course, of simply averting our eyes in horror, can lead to no good.

We may distinguish between the positive and the negative part of this moral scheme. All that “Wilhelm Meister” contains on the subject of vocations seems valuable, and the prominence which he gives to the subject is immensely important. In considering how human life should be ordered, Goethe begins with the fact that each man has an occupation, which fills most of his time. It seems to him, therefore, the principal problem to secure that this occupation should be not only worthy, but suited to the capacity of the individual and pursued in a serious spirit. What can be more simple and obvious? And yet, if we reflect, we shall see that moralists have not usually taken this simple view, and that in the accepted morality this whole class of questions is little considered. Duties to this person and to that, to men, to women, to dependents, to the poor, to the State—these are considered; but the greatest of all duties, that of choosing one’s occupation rightly, is overlooked. And yet it is the greatest of duties, because on it depend the usefulness and effectiveness of the man’s life considered as a whole, and, at the same time, his own peace of mind, or, as Goethe calls it, his inward harmony. Nevertheless, it is so much overlooked that in ordinary views of life all moral interest is, as it were, concentrated upon the hours of leisure. The occupation is treated as a matter of course, a necessary routine about which little can be said. True life is regarded as beginning when work is over. In work men may no doubt be honest or dishonest, energetic or slothful, persevering or desultory, successful or unsuccessful, but that is all; it is only in leisure that they can be interesting, highly moral, amiable, poetical. Such a view of life is, to say the least, unfortunate. It surrenders to deadness and dulness more than half of our existence.

In primitive times, when the main business of life was war, this was otherwise. Then men gave their hearts to the pursuit to which they gave their time. What was most important was also most interesting, and the poet when he sang of war sang of business too. Hence came the inimitable fire and life of Homeric and Shakspearian poetry. But when war gave place to industry, it seemed that this grand unity of human life is gone. Business, the important half of life, became unpoetical, [Pg 24] from the higher point of view uninteresting—for how could the imagination dwell on the labors of the office or the factory?—and all higher interest was confined to that part of life in which energy is relaxed. Goethe’s peculiar realism at once prompts and enables him to introduce a reform here. He denies that business is uninteresting, and maintains that the fault is in our own narrowness and in our slavery to a poetical tradition. It is the distinction of “Wilhelm Meister” that it is actually a novel about business, not merely a realistic novel venturing to approach the edge of that slough of dulness which is supposed to be at the centre of all our lives, but actually a novel about business as such, an attempt to show that the occupation to which a man gives his life is a matter not only for serious thought, but that it is a matter also for philosophy and poetry. That such a novel must at first sight appear tame and dull is obvious; it undertakes to create the taste by which it can be enjoyed, and will be condemned at once by all who are not disposed to give it a serious trial. But the question it raises is the fundamental question of modern life. Comprehensive and practical at once, Goethe’s mind has found out that root of bitterness which is at the bottom of all the uneasy social agitations of the nineteenth century. We live in the industrial ages, and he has asked the question whether industry must of necessity be a form of slavery, or whether it can be glorified and made into a source of moral health and happiness.

It is commonly said that “Wilhelm Meister,” seems to make Art the one object of life; but this is not Goethe’s intention. He was himself an artist, and, as the work is in a great degree autobiographical, art naturally comes into the foreground, and the book becomes especially interesting to artists, but the real subject of it is vocations in general. In the later books, indeed, art drops into the background, and we have a view of feminine vocations. The “Beautiful Soul” represents the pietistic view of life; then Therese appears in contrast, representing the economic or utilitarian view; finally, Natalie hits the golden mean, being practical like Therese but less utilitarian, and, ideal like her aunt, the pietist, but less introspective. On the whole, then, the lesson of the book is that we should give unity to our lives by devoting them with hearty enthusiasm to some pursuit, and that the pursuit is assigned to us by Nature through the capacities she has given us. It is thus that Goethe substitutes for the idea of pleasure that of the satisfaction of special inborn aptitudes different in each individual. His system treats every man as a genius, for it regards every man as having his own unique individuality, for which it claims the same sort of tender consideration that is conceded to genius. But in laying down such rules Goethe thinks first of himself. He has spent long years in trying to make out his own vocation. He has had an opportunity of living almost every kind of life in turn. It was not till he returned from Italy that he felt himself to have arrived at clearness. What was Goethe’s vocation? Or, since happiness consists in faithful obedience to a natural vocation, what was Goethe’s happiness? His happiness is a kind of religion, a perpetual rapt contemplation, a beatific vision. The object of this contemplation is Nature, the laws or order of the Universe to which we belong. Of such contemplation he recognizes two kinds, one of which he calls Art and the other Science. He was in the habit of thinking that in Art and Science taken together he possessed an equivalent for what other men call their religion. Thus, in 1817, on the occasion of the tercentenary of the Reformation, he writes a poem in which he expresses his devout resolution of showing his Protestantism, as ever, by Art and Science.[37] It was because his view of Art was so realistic, that he was able thus to regard Art as a sort of twin-sister of Science. But the principle involved in this twofold contemplation of Nature is the very principle of religion itself, and in one sense it is true that no man was ever more deliberately and consciously religious than Goethe. No man asserted more emphatically that the energy of action ought to be accompanied by the energy of feeling. It is the consistent principle of [Pg 25] his life that the whole man ought to act together, and he pushes it so far that he seems to forbid all division of labor in science. This is the position taken up in “Faust” which perhaps is seldom rightly understood. Science, according to “Faust,” must not be dry analysis pursued at a desk in a close room; it must be direct wondering contemplation of Nature. The secrets of the world must disclose themselves to a loving gaze, not to dry thinking (trocknes Sinnen), man must converse with Nature “as one spirit with another,” “look into her breast as into the bosom of a friend.” How we should not study is conveyed to us by the picture of Wagner, who is treated with so much contempt. He is simply the ordinary man of science, perhaps we may think the modest practical investigator, of the class to which the advance of science is mainly due. But Goethe has no mercy on him—why? Because his nature is divided, because his feelings do not keep pace with his thoughts, because his attention is concentrated upon single points. Such a man is to Goethe “the dry creeper,” “the most pitiable of all the sons of earth.”

Thus it is, then, that Art and Science taken together, the living, loving, worshipping contemplation of Nature, out of which comes the knowledge of Nature, are to Goethe religion. But is not such a religion wholly different from religion as commonly understood, wholly different from Christianity?

It was, indeed, very different from such Christianity as he found professed around him. In his youth Goethe was acquainted with several eminently religious persons, Fräulein von Klettenberg, the Frankfurt friend of his family, Jung Stilling, and Lavater. He listened to these not only with his unfailing good humor, but at times with more conviction than “Dichtung und Wahrheit” would lead us to suppose. In some of his early letters he himself adopts pietistic language. But as his own peculiar ideas developed themselves, they separated him more and more from the religious world of his time. At the time of his Italian journey and for some years afterwards, we find him speaking of Christianity not merely with indifference, but with a good deal of bitterness. This hostility took rather a peculiar form. As the whole disposition of his mind leads him towards religion, as he can no more help being religious than he can help being a poet, he does not reject religion but changes his religion. He becomes, or tries to become, a heathen in the positive sense of the word; for the description of Goethe as the Great Heathen is not a mere epithet thrown at him by his adversaries. He provoked and almost claimed it in his sketch of Winckelmann, where, after enthusiastic praise of the ancients and of Winckelmann as an interpreter of the ancient world, he inserted a chapter entitled, “Heidnisches,” which begins thus: “This picture of the antique spirit, absorbed in this world and its good things, leads us directly to the reflection that such excellences are only compatible with a heathenish way of thinking. The self-confidence, the attention to the present, the pure worship of the gods as ancestors, the admiration of them, as it were, only as works of art, the submission to an irresistible fate, the future hope also confined to this world, since it rests on the preciousness of posthumous fame; all this belongs so necessarily together, makes such an indivisible whole, creates a condition of human life intended by Nature herself, that we become conscious, alike at the height of enjoyment, and in the depth of sacrifice and even of ruin, of an indestructible health.” Clearly when he wrote this (about 1804) Goethe wished and intended to pass for a heathen. And, indeed, the antique attracts him scarcely at all from the historical side—he is no republican, no lover of liberty—but almost exclusively because it offers a religion which is to him the religion of health and joy.

Is it, then, true that Christianity is a system of morbid and melancholy introspectiveness, sacrificing all the freshness and glory of the present life to an awful future? He makes this assumption, and had almost a right to make it, since the Christianity of his time had almost exclusively this character. He was, however, himself half aware that there was all the difference in the world between the Christianity of his time and original Christianity or Christianity as it might be. And even at the time of his greatest bitterness he drops expressions [Pg 26] which show that he does not altogether relinquish his interest in Christianity, but keeps open for himself the alternative of appearing as a reformer rather than an assailant of it. In the third period and the old age his tone is a good deal more conciliating than in the passage above quoted. In the Autobiography he appears, on the whole, as a Christian, and even makes faint attempts here and there to write in a style that Christians may find edifying. He tells us expressly that he had little sympathy with the Encyclopædists, and, in a passage of the “West-östlicher Divan,” he declares with real warmth that he “has taken into his heart the glorious image of our sacred books, and, as the Lord’s image was impressed on St. Veronica’s cloth, he refreshes himself in the stillness of the breast in spite of all negation and hindrance with the inspiring vision of faith.” Again, when in the “Wanderjahre” he grapples constructively, but somewhat too late, with the problems of the nineteenth century, we find him assuming a reformed Christianity[38] as the religion of the future.

May we then regard Goethe as one who in reality only opposed the corruptions of Christianity even when he seemed to oppose Christianity itself? Certainly other worldliness does not now appear, at least in England, as a necessary part of Christianity. Surely that contrast between the healthy spirit of antiquity and the morbidness of Christianity, which was like a fixed idea in the mind of Goethe’s generation, need not trouble us now. Those sweeping generalizations belonged to the infancy of the historical sciences. Mediævalism does not now seem identical with Christianity. The sombre aspect of our religion is clearing away. Christian self-denial now appears not as the aimless, fruitless mortification of desire which Goethe detested, but as the heroic strenuousness which he practiced. The world which Christians renounce now appears to be, not the universe nor the present life, but only conventionalism and tyrannous fashion. With such a religion, Goethe’s philosophy is sufficiently in harmony. According to these definitions the spirit even of “Wilhelm Meister” is not secular. Even his avowal of heathenism comes to wear a different aspect, when we find him writing thus of the religion of the old Testament: “Among all heathen religions, for to this class belongs that of Israel as much as any, this one has great points of superiority,” &c. (he mentions particularly its “excellent collection of sacred books”). So that, after all, Goethe may only have been a heathen as the prophet Isaiah was a heathen!

Thus hindrance after hindrance to our regarding Goethe as a great prophet of the higher life and of the true religion disappears. There remains one which is not so easily removed. What surprises the English reader in “Wilhelm Meister” is not merely the prominence given to Art, or the serious devotion to things present and to the present life, but also the extraordinary levity with which it treats the relations of men and women. The book might, in fact, be called thoroughly immoral, if the use of that word which is common among us were justifiable. More correctly speaking, it is immoral throughout on one point; immoral, in Goethe’s peculiar, inimitable, good-natured manner. The levity is the more startling in a book otherwise so remarkably grave. Every subject but one is discussed with seriousness; in parts the solemnity of the writer’s wisdom becomes quite oppressive; but on the relations of men and women he speaks in a thoroughly worldly tone. Just where most moralists grow serious, he becomes wholly libertine, indifferent, and secular. There is nothing in this novel of the homely domestic morality of the Teutonic races; a French tone pervades it, and this tone is more or less perceptible in the other writings of Goethe, especially those of the second period, with the exception of “Hermann und Dorothea.” On this subject, the great and wise thinker descends to a lower level; he seems incapable of regarding it with seriousness; or if he does treat it seriously, as in the Elective Affinities, he startles us still more by a certain crude audacity. [Pg 27]

It seems possible to trace how Goethe fell into this extraordinary moral heresy. Starting from the idea of the satisfaction of desire, and with a strong prejudice against all systems of self-denial, he perceived, further, that chastity is the favorite virtue of mediævalism, that it is peculiarly Catholic and monastic. Then, as his mind turned more and more to the antique, he found himself in a world of primitive morals, where the woman is half a slave. He found that in the ancient world friendship is more and love less than in the modern—to this point, too, Winckelmann had called his attention—and, since he had adopted it as a principle that the ancients were healthy-minded and that the moderns are morbid, he jumped to the conclusion that the sentimental view of love is but a modern illusion. He accustomed his imagination to the lower kind of love which we meet with in classical poetry, the love of Achilles for Briseis, of Ajax for Tecmessa. In his early pamphlet against Wieland (“Götter, Helden und Wieland,” 1773), we find him already upon this train of reasoning, and his conclusions are announced with the most unceremonious plainness. How seriously they were adopted may be seen from the “Roman Elegies,” written fifteen years later. Among the many reactions which the eighteenth century witnessed against the spirit of Christianity, scarcely any is so startling and remarkable as that which comes to light in these poems. Here the woman has sunk again to her ancient level, and we find ourselves once more among the Hetaeræ of old Greek cities. After reading these wonderful poems, if we go through the list of Goethe’s female characters we shall note how many among them belong to the class of Hetaeræ—Clärchen. Marianne, Philine, Gretchen, the Bayadere. And if we turn to his life, we find the man, who shrank more than once from a worthy marriage, taking a Tecmessa to his tent. The woman who became at last his wife was spoken of by him in a letter to the Frau von Stein, as “that poor creature.” She is the very beauty celebrated in the “Roman Elegies.”

This strange moral theory could not but have strange consequences. Love, as Goethe knows it, is very tender, and has a lyric note as fresh as that of a song-bird; but it passes away like the songs of spring. In his Autobiography, one love-passage succeeds another, each is charmingly described, but each comes speedily to an end. How far in each case he was to blame is matter of controversy. But he seems to betray a way of thinking about women such as might be natural to an Oriental Sultan. “I was in that agreeable phase,” he writes, “when a new passion had begun to spring up in me before the old one had quite disappeared.” About Friederika he blames himself without reserve, and uses strong expressions of contrition; but he forgets the matter strangely soon. In his distress of mind he says he found riding, and especially skating, bring much relief. This reminds us of the famous letter to the Frau von Stein about coffee. He is always ready in a moment to shake off the deepest impressions and to receive new ones; and he never looks back. A curious insensibility, which seems imitated from the apparent insensibility of Nature herself, shows itself in his works by the side of the deepest pathos. Faust never once mentions Gretchen again, after that terrible prison scene; her remembrance does not seem to trouble him; she seems entirely forgotten, until, just at the end, among the penitents who surround the Mater Gloriosa, there appears one who has borne the name of Gretchen. In like manner—this shocked Schiller—when Mignon dies she seems instantly forgotten, and the business of the novel scarcely pauses for a moment.

We are also to remember that Goethe was a man of the old régime. If he who had such an instinctive comprehension of feminine character, at the same time treats women in this Oriental fashion, we are to remember that he lived in a country of despotic Courts, and also that he was entirely outside the movement of reform. Had he entered into the reforming movement of his age, he might have striven to elevate women, as he might have heralded and welcomed some of the ideas of 1789, and the nationality movements of 1808 and 1813. He certainly felt at times that all was not right in the status of women (“Der Frauen Schicksal ist beklagenswerth”), and how narrowly confined was their happiness (“Wie enggebunden ist des Weibes Glück,”), as he certainly felt how [Pg 28] miserable was the political conditions of Germany. Nevertheless he did not take the path either of social or of political reform. He worked in another region, a deeper region. He was a reformer on the great scale in literature, art, education, that is, in culture, but he was not a reformer of institutions. And as he did not look forward to a change in institutions, his views and his very morality rested on the assumption of a state of society in many respects miserably bad.

But the effect of this aberration upon Goethe’s character as a teacher and upon his influence has been most disastrous. And inevitably, for as it has been the practice in the Christian world to lay all the stress of morality upon that very virtue which Goethe almost entirely repudiates, he appears not only to be no moralist but an enemy of morality. And as he once brought a devil upon the stage, we identify him with his own Mephistopheles, though, in fact, the tone of cold irony is not by any means congenial to him. He has the reputation of a being awfully wise, who has experienced all feelings good and bad, but has survived them, and from whose writings there rises a cold unwholesome exhalation, the odor of moral decay. It is thought that he offers culture, art, manifold intellectual enjoyment, but at the price of virtue, faith, patriotism.

If I have taken a just view, the good and bad characteristics of his writings stand in a different relation. It is not morality itself that he regards with indifference, but one important section of morality. And he is an indifferentist here, partly because he is a man formed in the last years of the old régime, partly because he is borne too far on the tide of reaction against Catholic and monastic ideas. Nevertheless, he remains a moralist; and in his positive teaching he is one of the greatest moral teachers the world has ever seen. In his life he displayed some of the greatest and most precious virtues, a nobly conscientious use of great powers, a firm disregard of popularity, an admirable capacity for the highest kind of friendship. His view of life and literature is, in general, not ironical and not enervating, but sincere, manly, and hopeful. And his view of morality and religion, if we consider it calmly and not in that spirit of agonized timidity which reigns in the religious world, will perhaps appear to be not now very dangerous where it is wrong, and full of fresh instruction where it is right. The drift of the nineteenth century, the progress of those reforms in which Goethe took so little interest, have tended uniformly to the elevation of woman, so that it seems now scarcely credible that at the end of the last century great thinkers can seriously have preferred to contemplate her in the half servile condition in which classical poetry exhibits her. On this point at least the world is not likely to become pagan again. On the other hand Carlyle himself scarcely exaggerated the greatness of Goethe as a prophet of new truth alike in morals and in religion. Just at the moment when the supernaturalist theory, standing alone, seemed to have exhausted its influence, and to be involving religion in its own decline, Goethe stood forth as a rapt adorer of the God in Nature.[39] Naturalism in his hands appeared to be no dull system of platitudes, no empty delusive survival of an exploded belief, but a system as definite and important as Science, as rich and glorious as Art. Morality in his hands appeared no longer morbid, unnaturally solemn, unwholesomely pathetic, but robust, cheerful, healthy, a twin-sister of happiness. In his hands also morality and religion appeared inseparably united, different aspects of that free energy, which in him was genius, and in every one who is capable of it resembles genius. Lastly, his bearing towards Christianity, when he had receded from the exaggerations of his second period, was better, so long as it seemed hopeless to purge Christianity of its other-worldliness, than that of the zealots on either side. He entered into no clerical or anti-clerical controversies; but, while he spoke his mind with great frankness, did not forget to distinguish between clericalism and true Christianity, cherished no insane ambition of destroying the Church or founding a new religion,[40] and counselled us in founding our future society to make Christianity a principal element in its religion, and not to neglect the “excellent collection of sacred books” left us by the Hebrews.—Contemporary Review.

[Pg 29]



I. Daniel O’Connell—Serjeant Talfourd—Robert Carruthers.

The three gentlemen whose names appear at the head of this chapter of my reminiscences, breakfasted together at the table of Mr. Rogers, along with our host and myself, in the summer of 1845. They were all remarkable and agreeable men, and played a part more or less distinguished in the social life of the time. Mr. O’Connell called himself, and was called by his friends, the Liberator, but was virtually the Dictator, or uncrowned king, of the Irish people. Serjeant, afterwards Judge, Talfourd, was an eminent lawyer—a very eloquent speaker, and a poet of some renown. Mr. Robert Carruthers was the editor of the Inverness Courier, a paper of much literary influence; a man of varied acquirements and extensive reading, particularly familiar with the literature and history of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and more especially with the writings of Pope, his contemporaries and predecessors. Whenever Mr. Macaulay, while engaged on the “History of England,” which, unfortunately, he did not live to complete, was in doubt about an incident, personal or national, that occurred during the reigns of James II., William and Mary, or Queen Anne, and was too busy to investigate for himself, he had only to appeal for information to Mr. Carruthers, and the information was at once supplied from the abundant stores of that gentleman’s memory. I was well acquainted with all of these notables, but had never before met the three together.

Mr. O’Connell had long passed his prime in 1845—being then in his 70th year—but appeared to be in full bodily and mental vigor, and in the height of his power, popularity, and influence. He had for years been extravagantly praised by one half of the nation and as extravagantly blamed and denounced by the other, and his support had been so absolutely necessary to the existence of the Whig and Liberal Ministry in England, that when this support seemed to be of doubtful continuance, or any indications of his present lukewarmness or future opposition were apparent, the baits of power, place, or high professional promotion were constantly dangled before his eyes, to keep him true to the cause to which he had never promised allegiance, but to which he had always adhered with more or less of zeal and consistency. For upwards of a quarter of a century his name figured more frequently in the leading columns of all the most prominent journals of London and the provinces than that of any statesman or public character of the time. As he jocularly but truly said of himself, he was the best abused man in the country; but though he did not choose to confess it, he was, at the same time, the most belauded. He was a man of a fine personal presence, of a burly and stalwart build, with quick glancing eyes full of wit, humor and of what may be called “rollicking” fun; and of a homely, persuasive, and telling eloquence, that no man of his day could be truly said to have equalled. The speeches of his great contemporary and countryman, Richard Lalor Shiel, were more elegant, scholarly, and ambitious; but they were above the heads of the commonalty, and often failed of their effect by being “caviare to the general,” and sometimes tired or “bored” those who could understand and even appreciate them, by their great length and too obvious straining after effect. No exception of the kind could be taken to the speeches of Daniel—or, as he was affectionately called, “Dan” O’Connell. They were all clear as [Pg 30] day, logical as a mathematical demonstration, and warm as midsummer. If he had many of the faults he had all the virtues of his Celtic countrymen, and even in his strongest denunciations of his political opponents there was always a touch of humor that forced a laugh or a smile from the persons he attacked. He once, in Parliament, spoke of the great Duke of Wellington as “a stunted corporal with two left legs,” and the Duke of Wellington, who was said to be proud of his legs, remarking to Lucas, the artist who had painted his portrait, pointing to his legs—without taking notice of the facial likeness—“those are my legs,” had sense enough to laugh. The description, however, was not quite original, inasmuch as Pope, more than a hundred years previously, had applied the same epithet to Lintot the bookseller. Daniel O’Connell could excite at will the laughter or the indignation of the multitude, and was not in reality an ill-tempered or an ill-conditioned man, though he often appeared to be so when it suited his purpose. But though choleric he was never malicious.

On this occasion the conversation was almost entirely literary. O’Connell’s voice was peculiarly sweet and musical, and in the recitation of poetry, of which he had a keen and critical appreciation, it was impossible to excel, and difficult to equal him, in either comic or pathetic passages. The manner in which he declaimed “The Minstrel Boy to the War Has Gone,” “The Last Rose of Summer,” and other favorite songs of Thomas Moore was perfect, and had almost as pleasant an effect upon the hearer’s mind as if they had been sung by a well-trained singer. He was, in short, a delightful companion, and fascinated every society in which he felt himself sufficiently at ease to be induced to give free play to his wit, his humor, his imagination, and his wonderful power of mimicry.

Though seemingly at this time in the full high noon of his power and popularity, his influence was in reality on the wane, and circumstances over which he had no control, and which he had done nothing to produce, were at work to divert from his person and his cause the attention and the love of the Irish people. The first symptoms of the mysterious disease in the potato, which was unfortunately the chief food of the Irish millions, began to make themselves apparent, and to divert the attention of the Irish from political to more urgent questions of life and death. The too probable consequences of this great calamity tended necessarily to diminish the rent or tribute collected from the needy as well as the prosperous to recompense the “Liberator” for the sacrifices he had made in relinquishing the practice of his profession to devote his time, talent, and energies entirely to the parliamentary service of the people. Added to this, a race of younger and more impulsive men, fired by his example, had arisen to agitate the question of the Repeal of the Union on which he had set his heart, and scorning, in their impatience, the peaceful and legal methods which he employed, did their best to goad the impulsive people into open rebellion. Foremost among these were Mr. Smith O’Brien, whose futile treason came to an inglorious collapse in a cabbage garden; and next, the members of the party of Young Ireland, and the gifted poets of the “Nation,” among whom were Mr. D’Arcy McGee, and Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, whose tuneful violence was far more agreeable to the youthful agitators of the new generation than the more prudent strategy of O’Connell. The potato disease and the fearful famine that followed on its devastating track, which sent at least a million of people to the United States and two millions into untimely graves in Ireland, preyed upon the spirit of the great agitator, impaired his health, and ultimately led to his death of a broken heart, at Genoa, in 1847, in the 72nd year of his age. He was, at the time, on a pilgrimage to Rome to crave the blessing of the Pope, but was not destined to reach the, to him, “holy city,” the capital of his faith. His heart, however, was embalmed and taken to Rome, and his corpse conveyed to his native country for interment. I little thought on that joyous morning of 1845, when we sat seriously merry and intellectually sportive at the social board of Mr. Rogers in St. James’s Place, that the end was so near, and that the light which [Pg 31] shone so brilliantly was so speedily to be extinguished, and the sceptre of democratic authority to be so shattered that none could take it up when it fell from the hands which had so long wielded it.

The second of the guests this morning was also an orator, not celebrated for his power over crowds, but highly distinguished in the Senate and the Forum. Serjeant Talfourd did not speak often in Parliament or at public meetings, but when he did he was listened to with pleasure and attention. The scenes of his triumphs were the law courts, and especially the Court of Common Pleas, where he was the leading practitioner. He was noted among the members of the Bar and the attorneys for his power over the minds of jurymen, and his winning ways of extorting a favorable verdict for the client who was fortunate enough to have him for an advocate. He had room enough in his head both for law and literature—the law for his profit and his worldly advancement, and literature for the charm and consolation of his life. He was well known too, and highly esteemed by the leading literary men of his time, and took especial interest in the laws affecting artistic, musical, and literary copyright. He was largely instrumental in extending the previously allotted term of twenty-eight years to forty-two years, and for seven years after the death of the artist, composer, or author. This measure put considerable and well-deserved profits into the pockets of the heirs of Sir Walter Scott, and was said at the time to have been specially devised and enacted for that purpose and for that only. This, however, was an error which Serjeant Talfourd emphatically contradicted whenever it was hinted or asserted. It had, incidentally, that effect, which no one was churlish and ungrateful enough to grudge or lament, but was advocated in the interest of all men of letters, and of literature itself in its widest extent, and if it erred at all, only erred on the side of undue restriction to so short a period as forty-two years. It ought to have been extended to the third generation of the benefactors of their country, and probably will be so extended at a future time, when the rights of authors will be as strictly protected—and will be thought of at least as much importance—as the right of landlords to their acres; of butchers, bakers, and tailors to be paid for their commodities; or those of doctors and lawyers to be paid for their time and talents.

Mr. Charles Dickens dedicated to Serjeant Talfourd the “Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club”—the early work by which his great fame was established—in grateful acknowledgment of the Serjeant’s services to the cause of all men of genius, in the enactment of the new law of copyright. “Many a fevered head,” he said, “and palsied hand will gather new vigor in the hour of sickness and distress, from your exalted exertions; many a widowed mother and orphaned child, who would otherwise reap nothing from the fame of departed genius but its too pregnant legacy of sorrow and suffering, will bear in their altered condition higher testimony to the value of your labors than the most lavish encomiums from lip or pen could ever afford.”

Serjeant Talfourd was raised to the Bench in 1848, being then in his fifty-third year. This promotion had the natural consequence of removing him from the House of Commons. He was a singularly amiable man—of gentle, almost feminine character—of delicate health and fragile form. He possessed little or none of the staid or stern gravity popularly associated with the idea of a judge, and looked more like the poet that he undoubtedly was, than the busy lawyer or magistrate. He died suddenly in the year 1854, under circumstances peculiarly sad and pathetic. After attending Divine Service on Sunday, the 11th March, in the Assize town of Stafford, apparently in his usual health, he took his seat on the bench on the following morning, and proceeded to address the grand jury on the state of the calendar. It contained a list of more than one hundred prisoners, an unusually large number of whom were charged with atrocious offences, many of which were to be directly traced to intemperance. He took occasion, in the course of his remarks, to comment upon the growing estrangement in England between the upper and lower classes of society, and the want of interest and sympathy exhibited between the former and the latter, which he [Pg 32] regarded as of evil augury for the future peace and prosperity of the country. While uttering these words he became flushed and excited—his speech became thick and incoherent, and he suddenly fell forward with his face on the desk at which he was sitting. He was removed at once to his lodgings in the immediate vicinity of the court, but life was found to be extinct on his arrival. Thus perished a singularly able and estimable man, universally beloved by his contemporaries.

Mr. Carruthers, who resided in the little town of Inverness, sometimes called by its inhabitants the “Capital of the Highlands,” was often blamed by his intimate friends for hiding his great abilities in so small a sphere, and not launching boldly forth upon the great sea of London, which they considered a more suitable arena for the exercise of his talents and the acquirement of fame and fortune by the pursuits of literature. But he was not to be persuaded. He loved quiet; he loved the grand and solemn scenery of his beautiful native country, and perhaps if all the truth were told, he preferred to be a great man in a provincial town, than a comparatively small one in a mighty metropolis. In Inverness he shone as a star of the first magnitude. In London, though his light might have been as great, it might have failed to attract equal recognition. In addition to all these considerations, the atmosphere of great cities did not agree with his health, and the fine, free, fresh invigorating air of the sea and the mountains was necessary to his physical well-being. This he enjoyed to the full in Inverness. The editing of the weekly journal, which supplied him with even greater pecuniary results than were necessary to supply the moderate wants of himself and his household, left him abundant leisure for other and congenial work. He soon made his mark in literature, and became noted not only for the vigor and elegance of his style, but for his remarkable accuracy of statement, even in the minutest details of his literary and historical work. He edited, with copious and accurate notes, an edition of Pope, and of Johnson and Boswell’s “Tour to the Hebrides,” and greatly added to the value of those interesting books by notes descriptive and anecdotical of all the places and persons mentioned in them. He also contributed largely to the valuable “Cyclopædia of English Literature” edited by Messrs. Chambers, of Edinburgh; besides contributing essays and criticisms to many popular serials and reviews, published in London and Edinburgh. He was one of the most admirable story tellers of his time, or indeed of any time, had a most retentive and abundantly furnished memory, and never missed the point of a joke, or overlaid it with inappropriate or unnecessary words or phrases. His fund of Scottish anecdotes—brimful of wit and humor—was apparently inexhaustible, and his stories followed each other with such rapidity as to suggest to the mind of the listener the beautiful lines of Samuel Rogers:

Couched in the hidden chambers of the brain Our thoughts are linked by many a hidden chain, Awake but one, and lo! what myriads rise, Each stamps its image as the other flies.

The good things for which Mr. Carruthers was famous were not derived from books, but from actual intercourse with men, and if collected, would have formed a finer and more diverting repertory of Scottish wit and humor, than has ever been given to the world. He was often urged to prepare them for publication, and as often promised to undertake the work, but always postponed it until he had more leisure than he possessed at the time of promising. But that day unfortunately never came. If it had come, the now celebrated work of Dean Ramsay on the same subject would have been eclipsed, or altogether superseded in the literary market.

His local knowledge, and the fascination of his conversation were so great, that every person of any note in the literary or political world who visited Inverness, came armed with a letter of introduction to Mr. Carruthers, or made themselves known to him during their stay in the Highlands. The first time that I travelled so far North, through the magnificent chain of freshwater lochs that are connected with each other by the Caledonian Canal, a leading citizen of Inverness, who was a fellow-passenger on the trip, seeing I was a stranger, took the pains [Pg 33] to point out to me all the objects of interest on the way, and to name the mountains, the straths, the glens, and the waterfalls on either side. On our arrival at Inverness, he directed my attention to several mountains and eminences visible from the boat when nearing the pier. “That,” said he, “is Ben Wyvis, the highest mountain in Ross-shire; that is ‘Tom-na-hurich,’ or the hill of the fairies; that is Craig Phadrig, once a vitrified fort of the original Celtic inhabitants; and that,” pointing to a gentleman in the foremost rank of the spectators on the landing-place, “is Mr. Carruthers, the editor of the Courier!”

Mr. Carruthers used to relate with much glee that he escorted the great Sir Robert Peel to the battle-field of Culloden, and pointed out to him the graves of the highland warriors who had been slain in that fatal encounter. Seeing a shepherd watching his flocks feeding on the scant herbage of the Moor, he stepped aside to inform the man of the celebrity of his companion. The information fell upon inattentive ears. “Did you never hear of Sir Robert Peel?” inquired Mr. Carruthers. “Never dud!” (did), replied the shepherd. “Is it possible you never heard of him. He was once Prime Minister of England.” “Well!” replied the shepherd, “he seems to be a very respectable man!”

On another occasion, he escorted Mr. Serjeant Talfourd and his friend Mr. John Forster, who was also the intimate friend of Mr. Charles Dickens, over the same scene, and was fond of telling the story that the same or some other shepherd shouted suddenly to another of the same occupation at a short distance on the Moor, “Ian! Ian!” Serjeant Talfourd, who was the author of the once celebrated tragedy of “Ion,”—with a bland smile of triumph or satisfaction on his face, turned to Mr. Forster, laid his hand upon his breast, and said, “Forster, this is fame.” He did not know that Ian was the Gaelic for John, and that the man was merely calling to his friend by his Christian name.

Among the odd experiences of the little town in which he passed his days, Mr. Carruthers related that a gentleman, who had made a large fortune in India, retired to pass the evening of his life in his native place. Finding the time hanging heavy on his hands, and being of an active mind, he established a newspaper, sometime about the year 1840. He grew tired of it after two or three years, and discontinued it in a day without a word of notice or explanation. With equal suddenness he resumed its publication in 1850, and addressed his readers, in his first editorial, “Since the publication of our last paper, nothing of importance has occurred in the political world.” Nothing had occurred of more importance than the French Revolution of 1848—the dethronement and flight of King Louis Philippe—and convulsions in almost every country in Europe, Great Britain excepted.

Mr. Carruthers, who had received the degree of Doctor of Laws a few years previously, died in 1878, full of years and honors, regretted and esteemed by all the North of Scotland, and by a wide circle of friends and admirers in every part of the world where English literature is appreciated; and Scotsmen retain a fond affection for their native country, and the men whose lives and genius reflect honor upon it.

II. Patric Park, Sculptor.

I am glad to be able in these pages to render tribute, however feeble, to one of the great but unappreciated geniuses of his time; a man of powerful intellect as well as powerful frame, a true artist of heroic mould and thought, who dwarfed the poor pigmies of the day in which his lot was cast by conceptions too grand to find a market: Patric Park, sculptor, who concealed under a somewhat rude and rough exterior as tender a heart as ever beat in a human bosom. Had he been an ancient Greek, his name might have become immortal. Had he been a modern Frenchman, the art in which he excelled would have brought him not only bread, but fortune. But as he was only a portrayer of the heroic in the very prosaic country in which his lot was cast, it was as much as he could do to pay his way by the scanty rewards of an art which few people appreciated, or even understood, and to waste upon the marble [Pg 34] busts of rich men, who had a fancy for that style of portraiture, the talents, or rather the genius, which, had encouragement come, might have produced epics in stone to have rivalled the masterpieces of antiquity.

Patrick, or, as he usually signed himself, Patric, Park was born in Glasgow in 1809, and I made his acquaintance in the Morning Chronicle office in 1842, when he was in the prime of his early manhood. He sent a letter to the editor to request the insertion of a modest paragraph in reference to a work of his which had found a tardy purchaser in Stirling, where it was destined to adorn the beautiful public cemetery of the city. The paragraph was inserted not as he wrote it, but with a kindly addition in praise of his work and of his genius. He came to the office next day to know the writer’s name. And when the writer avowed himself, a friendship sprung up between the two, which suffered no abatement during the too short life of the grateful man of genius, who, for the first time, had been publicly recognized by the humble pen of one who could command, in artistic and literary matters, the columns of a powerful journal. Park’s nature was broad and bold, and scorned conventionalities and false pretence. George Outram, a lawyer and editor of a Glasgow newspaper, author of several humorous songs and lyrics upon the odds and ends of legal practice, among which the “Annuity” survives in perennial youth in Edinburgh and Glasgow society, and brother of the gallant Sir James Outram, of Indian fame, used to say of Park, that he liked him because he was not smooth and conventional. “There is not in the world,” he said to me on one occasion, “another man with so many delightful corners in his character as Park. We are all of us much too smooth and rounded off. Give me Park and genuine nature, and all the more corners the better.”

Park had a very loud voice, and sang Scotch songs perhaps with more vehemence than many people would admire, but with a hearty appreciation that was pleasant to witness. It is related that a deputation of Glasgow bailies came up to London, with Lord Provost Lumsden at their head, in reference to the Loch Katrine Water Bill, for the supply of Glasgow with pure water, which was then before Parliament, and that they invited their distinguished townsman to dine with them at the Victoria Hotel, Euston Square. After dinner Park was called upon for a song, and as there was nobody in the dining-room but one old gentleman, who, according to the waiter, was very deaf, Park consented to sing, and sang in his very best style the triumphant Jacobite ballad of “Hey, Johnnie Cope, are ye wauking yet,” till, as one of the bailies said, “he made the rafters ring, and might have been heard at St. Paul’s.” The deaf gentleman, as soon as the song was concluded, is reported to have made his way to the table, and apologising for addressing a company of strangers, to have turned to Park and said, with extraordinary fervor and emotion, “May God Almighty bless you, sir, and pour his choicest blessings upon your head! For thirty years I have been stone deaf and have not heard the sound of the human voice. But I heard your song, every word of it; God bless you!”

Upon one occasion, when we were travelling together in the Western Highlands, the captain of one of the Hutcheson steamers was exceedingly courteous and attentive to his passengers, and took great pains to point out to those who were making this delightful journey for the first time all the picturesque objects on the route. At one of the landing-places the young Earl of Durham was taken on board, with his servants, and from that moment the captain had neither eyes nor ears for any other person in the vessel. He lavished the most obsequious and fulsome attention upon his lordship, and when Park asked him a question, cut him short with a snappish reply. Park was disgusted, and expressed his opinion of the captain in a manner more forcible than polite. As there was a break in the navigation in consequence of some repairs that were being effected in one of the locks, the passengers had to disembark and proceed by omnibus to another steamer that awaited their arrival at Loch Lochy. Park mounted on the box by the side of the driver, and was immediately addressed by the captain, “Come down out of that, you sir! That seat’s reserved for his lordship!” Park’s anger flashed forth like an electric spark, “And who are you, sir, that [Pg 35] you dare address a gentleman in that manner?”

“I am the captain of the boat, sir, and I order you to come down out of that.”

“Captain, be hanged!” said Park, “the coachman might as well call himself a captain as you. The only difference between you is, that he is the driver of a land omnibus and that you are the driver of an aquatic omnibus.” The young Earl laughed, and quietly took his place in the interior of the vehicle, leaving Park in undisputed possession of the box-seat.

His contempt for toadyism in all its shapes and manifestations was extreme. There was an engineer of some repute in his day, with whom he had often come into contact, and whom he especially disliked for his slavish subservience to rank and title. The engineer meeting Park on board of the boat, said, “Mr. Park, I wish you not to talk about me! I am told that you said, I was not worth a damn! Is it true?” “Well,” replied Park, “it may be; but if I said so I underrated you. I think you are worth two damns, and I damn you twice!”

On another occasion, when attending a soirée at Lady Byron’s, he was so annoyed at finding no other refreshment than tea, which he did not care for, and very weak port wine negus, which he detested as an unmanly and unheroic drink, that he took his departure, resolved to go in search of some stronger potation. The footman in the hall, addressing him deferentially in search of a “tip,” said, “Shall I call your carriage, my lord?” “I’m not a lord,” said Park, in a voice like that of a stentor. “I beg pardon, sir, shall I call your carriage?” “I have not got a carriage! Give me my walking stick! And now,” he added, slipping a shilling into the man’s hand, “can you tell me of any decent public-house in the neighborhood where I can get a glass of brandy-and-water? The very smell of her ladyship’s negus is enough to make one sick.”

Park resided for a year or two in Edinburgh, and procured several commissions for the busts of legal and other notabilities, and, what was in a higher degree in accordance with his tastes, for some life-size statues of characters in the poems and novels of Sir Walter Scott, to complete the Scott monument in Princes Street. He also executed, without a commission, a gigantic model for a statue of Sir William Wallace, for whose name and fame he had the most enthusiastic veneration, with the idea that the patriotic feelings of the Scottish nation would be so far excited by his work as to justify an appeal to the public to set it up in bronze or marble (he preferred bronze,) on the Calton Hill, amid other monuments to the memory of illustrious Scotsmen. But the deeds of Wallace were too far back in the haze of bygone ages to excite much contemporary interest. The model was a noble work, eighteen feet high, and wholly nude. Some of his friends suggested to him that a little drapery would be more in accordance with Scottish ideas, than a figure so nude that it dispensed even with the customary fig-leaf. Park revolted at the notion of the fig-leaf, “a cowardly, indecent subterfuge,” he said. “To the pure all things are pure, as St. Paul says. There is nothing impure in nature, but only in the mind of man. Rather than put on the fig-leaf I would dash the model to pieces.” “But the drapery?” said a friend, the late Alexander Russel of the Scotsman. “What I have done I have done, and I will not spoil my design. Wallace was once a man, and if he had lived in the last century and I had to model his statue, I would have draped it or put it in armor as if he had been the Duke of Marlborough or Prince Eugene. But the memory of Wallace is scarcely the memory of a man but of a demigod. Wallace is a myth; and as a myth he does not require clothes.” “Very true,” said Russel, “but you are anxious to procure the public support and the public guineas, and you’ll never get them for a naked giant.” “Then I’ll smash the model,” said the indignant and dispirited artist. And he did so, and a beautiful work was lost to the world for ever.

At the time of our first acquaintance Park was somewhat smitten by the charms of a beautiful young woman in Greenock, the daughter of one of his oldest and best friends. The lady had no knowledge of art, and [Pg 36] scarcely knew what was meant by the word sculptor. She asked him one day whether he cut marble chimney-pieces? This was too much. He was désillusionné and humiliated, and the amatory flame flickered out, no more to be relighted.

Park and I and three or four friends were once together on the top of Ben Lomond, on a fine clear day in August. The weather was lovely, but oppressively hot, and the fatigue of climbing was great, but not excessive. At the summit, so pure was the atmosphere that looking eastward we could distinctly see Arthur’s Seat, overlooking Edinburgh, and the Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth, twenty miles beyond. Looking westward, we could distinctly see Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde. Thus the eye surveyed the whole diameter of Scotland. By a strange effect of atmosphere the peak of Goatfell in Arran, separated optically from the mountain by a belt of thick white cloud, seemed to be preternaturally raised to a height of at least 20,000 feet above the sea. I pointed it out to Park. “Nonsense!” he said. “Why Goatfell would be higher than the Himalayas if your notion were correct.” “But I know the shape of the peak,” I replied; “I have been on the top of Goatfell at least half-a-dozen times, and would swear to it, as to the nose on your face.” And as we were speaking the white cloud was dissipated, and the Himalayan peak seemed to descend slowly and take its place on the body of Goatfell, from which it had appeared to have been dissevered. “Well,” he said, “things are not what they seem, and I maintain that it was as high as the Himalayas or Chimborazo while the appearance lasted.”

The mountain at this time shone in pale rose-like glow, and Park, inspired by the grandeur of the scene, preached us a very eloquent little sermon, addressing himself to the sun, on the inherent dignity and beauty of sun-worship as practised by the modern Parsees and the ancient Druids. He concluded by a lament that his own art was powerless to represent or personify the grand forces of nature as the Greeks had attempted to do. “The Apollo Belvidere,” he said, “is the representative of a beautiful young man. But it is not Apollo. Art can represent Venus—the perfection of female beauty, and Mars—the perfection of manly vigor; but Apollo; no! Yet I think I would have tried Apollo myself if I had lived in Athens two thousand years ago.”

“‘A living dog is better than a dead lion.’”

“True,” said Park, “I am a living dog, Phidias is a dead lion. I have to model the unintellectual faces of rich cheesemongers, or grocers, or iron masters, and put dignity into them, if I can, which is difficult. And when I add the dignity, they complain of the bad likeness, so that I often think I’d rather be a cheesemonger than a sculptor.”

I called at Park’s studio one morning, and was informed that he every minute expected a visit from the great General Sir Charles James Napier—for whose character and achievements he had the highest admiration. He considered him by far the greatest soldier of modern times—and had prevailed upon the general to sit to him for his bust. Park asked me to stay and be introduced to him, and nothing loth, I readily consented. I had not long to wait. The general had a nose like the beak of an eagle—larger and more conspicuous on his leonine and intellectual face than that of the Duke of Wellington, whose nose was familiar in the purlieus of the Horse Guards. It procured for him the title of “conkey” from the street urchins, and I recognised him at a glance as soon as he entered. On his taking the seat for Park to model his face in clay, the sculptor asked him not to think of too many things at a time, but to keep his mind fixed on one subject. The general did his best to comply with the request, with the result that his face soon assumed a fixed and sleepy expression, without a trace of intellectual animation. Park suddenly startled him by inquiring, “Is it true, general, that you gave way—retreated in fact—at the battle of ——?” (naming the place, which I have forgotten). The general’s eyes flashed sudden fire, and he was about to reply indignantly when Park quietly remarked, plying his modelling tool on the face at the time, [Pg 37] “That’ll do, general, the expression is admirable!” The general saw through the manœuvre, and laughed heartily.

The general’s statue in Trafalgar Square is an admirable likeness. Park was much disappointed at not receiving the commission to execute it.

Park modelled a bust of myself, for which he would not accept payment. He found it a very difficult task to perform. I had to sit to him at least fifty times before he could please himself with his work. On one occasion he lost all patience, and swearing lustily, more suo, dashed the clay into a shapeless mass with his fist. “D—n you,” he said, “why don’t you keep to one face? You seem to have fifty faces in a minute, and all different! I never but once had another face that gave me half the trouble.”

“And whose was the other?” I inquired.

“Sir Charles Barry’s” (architect of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster). “He drove me to despair with his sudden changes of expression. He was a very Proteus as far as his face was concerned, and you’re another. Why don’t you keep thinking of one thing while I am modelling, or why can’t you retain one expression for at least five minutes?”

It was not till fully three months after this outburst that he took courage to begin again, growling and grumbling at his work, but determining, he said, not to be beaten either by Sir Charles or myself. “Poets and architects, and painters and musicians, and novelists,” he said, “are all difficult subjects for the sculptor. Give me the face of a soldier,” he added, “such a face as that of the Emperor Napoleon. There is no mistake about that; or, better still, that of Sir Charles James Napier! If there is not very much immortal soul, so called, in the faces of such men, there is a very great deal of body.”

Park was commissioned by the late Duke of Hamilton to model a bust of Napoleon III., and produced, perhaps the very finest of all the fine portrait-busts which ever proceeded from his chisel. The Emperor impressed Park in the most favorable manner, and he always spoke of him in terms of enthusiastic admiration, as well for the innate heroism as for the tenderness of his character. “All true heroes,” he said, “are tender-hearted; and the man who can fight most bravely has always the readiest drop of moisture in his eye when a noble deed is mentioned or a chord of human sympathy is touched.” The bust of Napoleon was lost in the wreck of the vessel that conveyed it from Dover to Calais, but the Duke of Hamilton commissioned the sculptor to execute a second copy from the clay model, which duly reached its destination.

Patric Park died before he was fifty, and when, to all appearance, there were many happy and prosperous years before him, when having surmounted his early difficulties, he might have looked forward to the design and completion of the many noble works to which he pined to devote his mature energies, after emancipation from the slavery of what he called “busting” the effigies of “cheesemongers.” He had been for some months in Manchester, plying his vocation among the rich notabilities of that prosperous city, when one day, emerging from a carriage at the railway station, he observed a porter with a huge basket of ice upon his head, staggering under the load and ready to fall. Park rushed forward to the man’s assistance, prevented him from falling, steadied the load upon his head by a great muscular exertion, and suddenly found his mouth full of blood. He had broken a blood-vessel; and stretching forth his hand, took a lump of ice from the basket, and held it in his mouth to stop the bleeding. He proceeded to the nearest chemist’s shop for advice and relief, and was forthwith conveyed to his hotel delirious. A neighboring doctor was called in, Park beseeching him for brandy. The brandy was refused. A telegram was sent to his own physician in London. He came down by the next train, and expressed a strong opinion on seeing the body and learning all the facts, that the brandy ought to have been given. But he arrived too late. The noble, the generous, the gifted Park was no more, and an attached young wife and hundreds of friends, amongst whom the writer of these words was one of the most attached, were “left lamenting.”—Gentleman’s Magazine.

(To be concluded.)

[Pg 38]




On the 27th of July, in the year 1878, the little town of Talutorovsk, in Western Siberia, was profoundly excited by a painful event. A political prisoner, named Olga Liubatovitch, it was said had miserably put an end to her days. She was universally loved and esteemed, and her violent death therefore produced a most mournful impression throughout the town, and the Ispravnik or chief of the police, was secretly accused of having driven the poor young girl, by his unjust persecutions, to take away her life.

Olga was sent to Talutorovsk, some months after the trial known as that of the “fifty” of Moscow, in which she was condemned to nine years’ hard labor for Socialist propagandism, a punishment afterwards commuted into banishment for life. Unprovided with any means whatever of existence, for her father, a poor engineer with a large family, could send her nothing, Olga succeeded, by indefatigable industry, in establishing herself in a certain position. Although but little skilled in female labor, she endeavored to live by her needle, and became the milliner of the semi-civilized ladies of the town, who went into raptures over her work. These fair dames were firmly convinced—it is impossible to know why—that the elegance of a dress depends above all things upon the number of its pockets. The more pockets there were, the more fashionable the dress. Olga never displayed the slightest disinclination to satisfy this singular taste. She put pockets upon pockets, upon the body, upon the skirts, upon the underskirts; before, behind, everywhere. The married ladies and the young girls were as proud as peacocks, and were convinced that they were dressed like the most fashionable Parisian, and, though they were less profuse with their money than with their praises, yet in that country, where living costs so little, it was easy to make two ends meet. Later on, Olga had an occupation more congenial to her habits. Before entering the manufactories and workshops as a sempstress in order to carry on the Socialist propaganda, she had studied medicine for some years at Zurich, and she could not now do less than lend her assistance in certain cases of illness. This soon gave her a reputation, and at the request of the citizens, the police accorded to her the permission to fill the post of apothecary and phlebotomist, as the former occupant of that post, owing to habitual drunkenness, was fit for nothing. Not unfrequently she even took the place of the district doctor, a worthy man who, owing to old age and a partiality for brandy, was in such a state that he could not venture upon delicate operations, because his hands shook. She acted for him also in many serious cases baffling his antediluvian knowledge. Some of her cures were considered miraculous; among others, that of the district judge, whom, by determined treatment, she had saved after a violent attack of delirium tremens, a malady common to almost all men in that wild country.

In a word, Olga was in great favor with the peaceful citizens of Talutorovsk. The hatred of the police towards her was all the greater for that reason. Her proud and independent disposition would not permit her to submit to the stupid and humiliating exigencies of the representatives of the Government. Those representatives, barbarous and overbearing as they were, considered every attempt to defend personal dignity a want of respect toward themselves—nay, a provocation, and neglected no occasion of taking their revenge. There was always a latent war between Olga and her guardians, a war of the weak, bound hand and foot, against the strong, armed at all points; for the police have almost arbitrary power over the political prisoners who are under their surveillance. In this very unequal struggle, however, Olga did not always come off the worst, as often happens in the case of those [Pg 39] who, proud, daring, and fearing nothing, are always ready to risk everything for the merest trifle. One of these conflicts, which lasted four days and kept the whole of the little town in a state of excitement by its dramatic incidents, was so singular that it deserves to be related.

Olga had sent from her parents a parcel of books, which, in her position, was a gift indeed. She went to the Ispravnik to get them, but met with an unforeseen obstacle. Among the books sent to her was a translation of the “Sociology” of Herbert Spencer, and the Ispravnik mistook it for a work on Socialism, and would not on any account give it up to her. In vain Olga pointed out to him that the incriminated book had been published at St. Petersburg with the license of the Censorship; that sociology and socialism were very different things, etc. The Ispravnik was stubborn. The discussion grew warm. Olga could not restrain some sharp remarks upon the gross ignorance of her opponent, and ended by telling him that his precautions were utterly useless, as she had at home a dozen books like that of Herbert Spencer.

“Oh! you have books like this at home, have you?” exclaimed the Ispravnik. “Very well; we’ll come and search the house this very day.”

“No,” exclaimed Olga, in a fury; “you will do nothing of the kind; you have no right, and if you dare to come I will defend myself.”

With these words she left the place, thoroughly enraged.

War was declared, and the rumor spread throughout the town, and everywhere excited a kind of timorous curiosity.

Directly Olga reached her home she shut herself up and barricaded the door. The Ispravnik, on his side, prepared for the attack. He mustered a band of policemen, with some poniatye, or citizen-witnesses, and sent them to the enemy’s house.

Finding the entrance closed and the door barricaded, the valorous army began to knock energetically, and ordered the inmate to open.

“I will not open the door,” replied the voice of Olga within.

“Open, in the name of the law.”

“I will not open the door. Break it in! I will defend myself.”

At this explicit declaration the band became perplexed. A council of war was held. “We must break open the door,” they all said. But as all these valiant folks had families, wives, and children whom they did not wish to leave orphans, no one cared to face the bullets of this mad-woman, whom they knew to be capable of anything. Each urged his neighbor onward, but no one cared to go forward himself.

Recourse was had to diplomacy.

“Open the door, miss.”

No reply.

“Please to open the door, or you will repent it.”

“I will not open the door,” replied the firm voice of the besieged.

What was to be done? A messenger was sent to the Ispravnik to inform him that Olga Liubatovitch had shut herself up in her house, had pointed a pistol at them, and had threatened to blow out the brains of the first who entered.

The Ispravnik, considering that the task of leadership would fall to him as supreme chief (and he also had a family), did not care to undertake the perilous enterprise. His army, seeing itself thus abandoned by its leader, was in dismay; it lost courage; demoralisation set in, and after a few more diplomatic attempts, which led to nothing, it beat a disgraceful retreat. A select corps of observation remained, however, near the enemy’s citadel, intrenched behind the hedges of the adjoining kitchen-gardens. It was hoped that the enemy, elated by the victory in this first encounter, would make a sortie, and then would be easily taken, in flank and rear, surrounded, and defeated.

But the enemy displayed as much prudence as firmness. Perceiving the manœuvres of her adversaries, Olga divined their object, and did not issue from the house all that day, or the day after, or even on the third day. The house was provided with provisions and water, and Olga was evidently prepared to sustain a long siege.

It was clear that if no one would risk his life, which naturally no one was disposed to risk, nothing could be done save to reduce her by hunger. But who, in that case, could tell how long the scandal of this [Pg 40] flagrant rebellion would last? And then, who could guarantee that this Fury would not commit suicide instead of surrendering? And then, what complaints, what reprimands from superiors!

In this perplexity, the Ispravnik resolved to select the least among many evils, and on the fourth day he raised the siege.

Thus ended the little drama of July 1878, known in Siberia as the “Siege of Olga Liubatovitch.” The best of the joke was, however, that she had no arms of a more warlike character than a pen-knife and some kitchen utensils. She herself had not the slightest idea what would have happened had they stormed her house, but that she would have defended herself in some way or other is quite certain.

The Ispravnik might have made her pay for her rebellion by several years of confinement, but how could he confess to his superiors the cowardice of himself and his subordinates? He preferred, therefore, to leave her in peace. But he chafed in secret, for he saw that the partisans of the young Socialist—and they were far from few—ridiculed himself and his men behind their backs. He determined to vindicate his offended dignity at all cost, and, being of a stubborn disposition, he carried out his resolve in the following manner.

A fortnight after the famous siege, he sent a message to Olga to come to his office at eight o’clock in the morning. She went. She waited an hour; two hours; but no one came to explain what she was wanted for. She began to lose patience, and declared that she would go away. But the official in attendance told her that she must not go; that she must wait; such were the orders of the Ispravnik. She waited until eleven o’clock. No one came. At last a subaltern appeared, and Olga addressed herself to him and asked what she was wanted for. The man replied that he did not know, that the Ispravnik would tell her when he came in. He could not say, however, when the Ispravnik would arrive.

“In that case,” said Olga, “I should prefer to return some other time.”

But the police officer declared that she must continue to wait in the antechamber of the office, for such were the orders of the Ispravnik. There could be no doubt that all this was a disgraceful attempt to provoke her, and Olga, who was of a very irascible disposition, replied with some observations not of the most respectful character, and not particularly flattering to the Ispravnik or his deputy.

“Oh! that’s how you treat the representatives of the Government in the exercise of their functions, is it?” exclaimed the deputy, as though prepared for this. And he immediately called in another policeman as a witness, and drew up a statement of the charge against her.

Olga went away. But proceedings were taken against her before the district judge, the very man whom she had cured of delirium tremens, who sentenced her to three days’ solitary confinement. It was confinement in a dark, fetid hole, full of filth and vermin.

Merely in entering it, she was overcome with disgust. When she was released, she seemed to have passed through a serious illness. It was not, however, the physical sufferings she had undergone so much as the humiliation she had endured which chafed her proud disposition.

From that time she became gloomy, taciturn, abrupt. She spent whole days shut up in her room, without seeing anybody, or wandered away from the town into the neighboring wood, and avoided people. She was evidently planning something. Among the worthy citizens of Talutorovsk, who had a compassionate feeling towards her, some said one thing, some another, but no one foresaw such a tragic ending as that of which rumors ran on July 27.

In the morning the landlady entered her room and found it empty. The bed, undisturbed, clearly showed that she had not slept in it. She had disappeared. The first idea which flashed through the mind of the old dame was that Olga had escaped, and she ran in all haste to inform the Ispravnik, fearing that any delay would be considered as a proof of complicity.

The Ispravnik did not lose a moment. Olga Liubatovitch being one of the most seriously compromised women, he feared the severest censure, [Pg 41] perhaps even dismissal, for his want of vigilance. He immediately hastened to the spot in order to discover if possible the direction the fugitive had taken. But directly he entered the room he found upon the table two letters signed and sealed, one addressed to the authorities, the other to the sister of Olga, Vera Liubatovitch, who had also been banished to another Siberian town. These letters were immediately opened by the Ispravnik, and they revealed the mournful fact that the young girl had not taken to flight, but had committed suicide. In the letter addressed to the authorities she said, in a few lines, that she died by her own hand, and begged that nobody might be blamed. To her sister she wrote more fully, explaining that her life of continuous annoyance, of inactivity, and of gradual wasting away, which is the life of a political prisoner in Siberia, had become hateful to her, that she could no longer endure it, and preferred to drown herself in the Tobol. She finished by affectionately begging her sister to forgive her for the grief she might cause her and her friends and companions in misfortune.

Without wasting a moment, the Ispravnik hastened to the Tobol, and there he found the confirmation of the revelation of Olga. Parts of her dress dangled upon the bushes, under which lay her bonnet, lapped by the rippling water. Some peasants said that on the previous day they had seen the young girl wandering on the bank with a gloomy and melancholy aspect, looking fixedly at the turbid waters of the river. The Ispravnik, through whose hands all the correspondence passed of the political prisoners banished to his district, recalled certain expressions and remarks that had struck him in the last letters of Olga Liubatovitch, the meaning of which now became clear.

There could no longer be any doubt. The Ispravnik sent for all the fishermen near, and began to drag the river with poles, casting in nets to recover the body. This, however, led to nothing. Nor was it surprising: the broad river was so rapid that in a single night it must have carried a body away—who knows how many leagues? For three days the Ispravnik continued his efforts, and stubbornly endeavored to make the river surrender its prey. But at last, after having worn out all his people and broken several nets against the stones and old trunks which the river mocked him with, he had to give up the attempt as unavailing.


The body of Olga, her heart within it throbbing with joy and uncertainty, had meanwhile been hurried away, not by the yellow waters of the Tobol, but by a vehicle drawn by two horses galloping at full speed.

Having made arrangements with a young rustic whom, in her visits to the neighboring cottages in a medical capacity, she had succeeded in converting to Socialism, Olga disposed everything so as to make it be believed that she had drowned herself, and on the night fixed secretly left her house and proceeded to the neighboring forest, where, at a place agreed upon, her young disciple was awaiting her. The night was dark. Beneath the thick foliage of that virgin forest nothing could be seen, nothing could be heard but the hootings of the owls, and sometimes, brought from afar, the howling of the wolves, which infest the whole of Siberia.

As an indispensable precaution, the meeting-place was fixed at a distance of about three miles, in the interior of the forest. Olga had to traverse this distance in utter darkness, guided only by the stars, which occasionally pierced through the dense foliage. She was not afraid, however, of the wild beasts, or of the highwaymen and vagrants who are always prowling round the towns in Siberia. It was the cemetery-keeper’s dog she was afraid of. The cemeteries are always well looked after in that country, for among the horrible crimes committed by the scum of the convicts one of the most common is that of disinterring and robbing the newly buried dead. Now the keeper of the cemetery of Talutorovsk was not to be trifled with; his dog still less so. It was a mastiff, as big as a calf, ferocious and vigilant, and could hear the approach of any one a quarter of a mile off. Meanwhile the road passed close to the cottage of the solitary keeper. It was precisely for the purpose of avoiding it that Olga, instead of [Pg 42] following the road, had plunged into the forest, notwithstanding the great danger of losing her way.

Stumbling at every step against the roots and old fallen trunks, pricked by the thorny bushes, her face lashed by boughs elastic as though moved by springs, she kept on for two hours with extreme fatigue, sustained only by the hope that she would shortly reach the place of meeting, which could not be far off. At last indeed, the darkness began to diminish somewhat and the trees to become thinner, and a moment afterwards she entered upon open ground. She suddenly stopped, looked around, her blood freezing with terror, and recognised the keeper’s cottage. She had lost her way in the forest, and, after so many windings, had gone straight to the point she wished to avoid.

Her first impulse was to run away as fast as her remaining strength would enable her, but a moment afterwards a thought flashed through her mind which restrained her. No sound came from the cottage; all was silent. What could this indicate but the absence of the occupant? She stood still and listened, holding her breath. In the cottage not a sound could be heard, but in another direction she heard, in the silence of the night, the distant barking of a dog, which seemed, however, to be approaching nearer. Evidently the keeper had gone out, but at any moment might return, and his terrible dog was perhaps running in front of him, as though in search of prey. Fortunately from the keeper’s house to the place of appointment there was a path which the fugitive had no need to avoid, and she set off and ran as fast as the fear of being seized and bitten by the ferocious animal would allow her. The barking, indeed, drew nearer, but so dense was the forest that not even a dog could penetrate it. Olga soon succeeded in reaching the open ground, breathless, harassed by the fear of being followed and the doubt that she might not find any one at the place of appointment. Great was her delight when she saw in the darkness the expected vehicle, and recognised the young peasant.

To leap into the vehicle and to hurry away was the work of an instant. In rather more than five hours of hard driving they reached Tumen, a town of about 18,000 inhabitants, fifty miles distant from Talutorovsk. A few hundred yards from the outskirts the vehicle turned into a dark lane and very quietly approached a house where it was evidently expected. In a window on the first floor a light was lit, and the figure of a man appeared. Then the window was opened, and the man, having recognised the young girl, exchanged a few words in a low tone with the peasant who was acting as driver. The latter, without a word, rose from his seat, took the young girl in his arms, for she was small and light, and passed her on like a baby into the robust hands of the man, who introduced her into his room. It was the simplest and safest means of entering unobserved. To have opened the door at such an unusual hour would have awakened people, and caused gossip.

The peasant went his way, wishing the young girl all success, and Olga was at last able to take a few hours rest. Her first step had succeeded. All difficulties were far indeed, however, from being overcome; for in Siberia it is not so much walls and keepers as immeasurable distance which is the real gaoler.

In this area, twice as large as all Europe, and with a total population only twice that of the English capital, towns and villages are only imperceptible points, separated by immense deserts absolutely uninhabitable, in which if any one ventured he would die of hunger, or be devoured by wolves. The fugitive thus has no choice, and must take one of the few routes which connect the towns with the rest of the world. Pursuit is therefore extremely easy, and thus, while the number of the fugitives from the best-guarded prisons and mines amounts to hundreds among the political prisoners, and to thousands among the common offenders, those who succeed in overcoming all difficulties and in escaping from Siberia itself may be counted on the fingers.

There are two means of effecting an escape. The first, which is very hazardous, is that of profiting, in order to get a good start, by the first few days, when the police furiously scour their own district only, without giving information of the escape to the great centres, in [Pg 43] the hope, which is often realised, of informing their superiors of the escape and capture of the prisoner at the same time. In the most favorable cases, however, the fugitive gains only three or four days of time, while the entire journey lasts many weeks, and sometimes many months. With the telegraph established along all the principal lines of communication, and even with mere horse patrols, the police have no difficulty whatever in making up for lost time, and exceptional cleverness or good fortune is necessary in order to keep out of their clutches. But this method, as being the simplest and comparatively easy, as it requires few preparations and but little external assistance, is adopted by the immense majority of the fugitives, and it is precisely for this reason that ninety-nine per cent. of them only succeed in reaching a distance of one or two hundred miles from the place of their confinement.

Travelling being so dangerous, the second mode is much more safe—that of remaining hidden in some place of concealment, carefully prepared beforehand, in the province itself, for one, two, three, six months, until the police, after having carried on the chase so long in vain, come to the conclusion that the fugitive must be beyond the frontiers of Siberia, and slacken or entirely cease their vigilance. This was the plan followed in the famous escape of Lopatin, who remained more than a month at Irkutsk, and of Debagorio Mokrievitch, who spent more than a year in various places in Siberia before undertaking his journey to Russia.

Olga Liubatovitch did not wish, however, to have recourse to the latter expedient, and selected the former. It was a leap in the dark. But she built her hopes upon the success of the little stratagem of her supposed suicide, and the very day after her arrival at Tumen she set out towards Europe by the postal and caravan road to Moscow.

To journey by post in Russia, a travelling passport (podorojna) must be obtained, signed by the governor. Olga certainly had none, and could not lose time in procuring one. She had, therefore, to find somebody in possession of this indispensable document whom she could accompany. As luck would have it, a certain Soluzeff, who had rendered himself famous a few years before by certain forgeries and malversations on a grand scale, had been pardoned by the Emperor and was returning to Russia. He willingly accepted the company of a pretty countrywoman, as Olga represented herself to him to be, who was desirous of going to Kazan, where her husband was lying seriously ill, and consented to pay her share of the travelling expenses. But here another trouble arose. This Soluzeff, being on very good terms with the gendarmes and the police, a whole army of them accompanied him to the post-station. Now Olga had begun her revolutionary career at sixteen, she was arrested for the first time at seventeen, and during the seven years of that career had been in eleven prisons, and had passed some few months in that of Tumen itself. It was little short of a miracle that no one recognised the celebrated Liubatovitch in the humble travelling companion of their common friend.

At last, however, the vehicle set out amid the shouts and cheers of the company. Olga breathed more freely. Her tribulations were not, however, at an end.

I need not relate the various incidents of her long journey. Her companion worried her. He was a man whom long indulgence in luxury had rendered effeminate, and at every station said he was utterly worn out, and stopped to rest himself and take some tea with biscuits, preserves, and sweets, an abundance of which he carried with him. Olga, who was in agonies, as her deception might be found out at any moment, and telegrams describing her be sent to all the post-stations of the line, had to display much cunning and firmness to keep this poltroon moving on without arousing suspicions respecting herself. When, however, near the frontier of European Russia, she was within an ace of betraying herself. Soluzeff declared that he was incapable of going any farther, that he was thoroughly knocked up by this feverish hurry-skurry, and must stop a few days to recover himself. Olga had some thought of disclosing everything, hoping to obtain from his generosity what she [Pg 44] could not obtain from his sluggish selfishness. There is no telling what might have happened if a certain instinct, which never left Olga even when she was most excited, had not preserved her from this very dangerous step.

A greater danger awaited her at Kazan. No sooner had she arrived than she hastened away to take her ticket by the first steamboat going up the Volga towards Nijni-Novgorod. Soluzeff, who said he was going south, would take the opposite direction. Great, therefore, was her surprise and bewilderment when she saw her travelling companion upon the same steamer. She did everything she could to avoid him, but in vain. Soluzeff recognised her, and, advancing towards her, exclaimed in a loud voice:—

“What! you here? Why, you told me your husband was lying ill in the Kazan Hospital.”

Some of the passengers turned round and looked, and among them the gendarme who was upon the boat. The danger was serious. But Olga, without losing her self-possession, at once invented a complete explanation of the unexpected change in her itinerary. Soluzeff took it all in, as did the gendarme who was listening.

At Moscow she was well known, having spent several months in its various prisons. Not caring to go to the central station, which is always full of gendarmes on duty, she was compelled to walk several leagues, to economise her small stock of money, and take the train at a small station, passing the night in the open air.

Many were the perils from which, thanks to her cleverness, she escaped. But her greatest troubles awaited her in the city she so ardently desired to reach, St. Petersburg.

When a Nihilist, after a rather long absence, suddenly reaches some city without previously conferring with those who have been there recently, his position is a very singular one. Although he may know he is in the midst of friends and old companions in arms, he is absolutely incapable of finding any of them. Being “illegal” people, or outlaws, they live with false passports, and are frequently compelled to change their names and their places of abode. To inquire for them under their old names is not to be thought of, for these continuous changes are not made for mere amusement, but from the necessity, constantly recurring, of escaping from some imminent danger, more or less grave. To go to the old residence of a Nihilist and ask for him under his old name would be voluntarily putting one’s head into the lion’s mouth.

Under such circumstances, a Nihilist is put to no end of trouble, and has to wander hither and thither in order to find his friends. He applies to old acquaintances among people who are “legal” and peaceful—that is to say, officials, business men, barristers, doctors, etc., who form an intermediate class, unconsciously connecting the most active Nihilists with those who take the least interest in public affairs. In this class there are people of all ranks. Some secretly aid the Nihilists more or less energetically. Others receive them into their houses, simply as friends, without having any “serious” business with them. Others, again, see them only casually, but know from whom more or less accurate information is to be obtained; and so on. All these people being unconnected with the movement, or almost so, run little risk of being arrested, and living as they do “legally”—that is to say, under their own names—they are easy to be found, and supply the Ariadne’s thread which enables any one to penetrate into the Nihilist labyrinth who has not had time, or who has been unable, to obtain the addresses of the affiliated.

Having reached St. Petersburg, Olga Liubatovitch was precisely in this position. But to find the clue in such cases is easy only to those who, having long resided in the city, have many connections in society. Olga had never stayed more than a few days in the capital. Her acquaintances among “legal” people were very few in number, and then she had reached St. Petersburg in the month of August, when every one of position is out of town. With only sixty kopecks in her pocket, for in her great haste she had been unable to obtain a sufficient sum of money, she dragged her limbs from one extremity of the capital to the other. She might have dropped in the street from sheer exhaustion, and been taken [Pg 45] up by the police as a mere vagabond, had not the idea occurred to her to call upon a distant relative whom she knew to be in St. Petersburg. She was an old maid, who affectionately welcomed her to the house, although, at the mere sight of Olga, her hair stood on end. She remained there two days; but the fear of the poor lady was so extreme that Olga did not care to stay longer. Supplied with a couple of roubles, she recommenced her pilgrimage, and at last met a barrister who, as luck would have it, had come up that day from the country on business.

From that moment all her tribulations ended. The barrister, who had known her previously, placed his house at her disposal, and immediately communicated the news of her arrival to some friends of his among the affiliated. The next day the good news spread throughout all St. Petersburg of the safe arrival of Olga Liubatovitch.

She was immediately supplied with money and a passport, and taken to a safe place of concealment, secure against police scrutiny.


It was at St. Petersburg that I first met her.

It was not at a “business” gathering, but one of mere pleasure, in a family. With the “legal” and the “illegal” there must have been about fifteen persons. Among those present were some literary men. One of them was a singular example of an “illegal” man, much sought for at one time, who, living for six or seven years with false passports, almost succeeded in legalising himself, as a valuable and well-known contributor to various newspapers. There was a barrister who, after having defended others in several political trials, at last found himself in the prisoner’s dock. There was a young man of eighteen in gold lace and military epaulettes, who was the son of one of the most furious persecutors of the Revolutionary party. There was an official of about fifty, the head of a department in one of the ministries, who, for five years running, was our Keeper of the Seals—who kept, that is to say, a large chest full to the brim of seals, false marks, stamps, etc., manufactured by his niece, a charming young lady, very clever in draughtsmanship and engraving. It was a very mixed company, and strange for any one not accustomed to the singular habits of the Palmyra of the North.

With the freedom characteristic of all Russian gatherings, especially those of the Nihilists, every one did as he liked and talked with those who pleased him. The company was split up into various groups, and the murmur of voice filled the room and frequently rose above the exclamations and laughter.

Having saluted the hosts and shaken hands with some friends, I joined one of these little groups.

I had no difficulty in recognising Olga Liubatovitch, for the portraits of the principal prisoners in the trial of the “fifty,” of whom she was one of the most distinguished figures, circulated by thousands, and were in every hand.

She was seated at the end of the sofa, and, with her head bent, was slowly sipping a cup of tea. Her thick black hair, of which she had an abundance, hung over her shoulders, the ends touching the bottom of the sofa. When she rose it almost reached to her knees. The color of her face, a golden brown, like that of the Spaniards, proclaimed her Southern origin, her father and grandfather having been political refugees from Montenegro who had settled in Russia. There was nothing Russian, in fact, in any feature of her face. With her large and black eyebrows, shaped like a sickle as though she kept them always raised, there was something haughty and daring about her, which struck one at first sight, and gave her the appearance of the women belonging to her native land. From her new country she had derived, however, a pair of blue eyes, which always appeared half-closed by their long lashes, and cast flitting shadows upon her soft cheeks when she moved her eyelids, and a lithe, delicate, and rather slim figure, which somewhat relieved the severe and rigid expression of her face. She had, too, a certain unconscious charm, slightly statuesque, which is often met with among women from the South. [Pg 46]

Gazing at this stately face, to which a regular nose with wide nostrils gave a somewhat aquiline shape, I thought that this was precisely what Olga Liubatovitch ought to be as I had pictured her from the account of her adventures. But on a sudden she smiled, and I no longer recognised her. She smiled, not only with the full vermilion lips of a brunette, but also with her blue eyes, with her rounded cheeks, with every muscle of her face, which was suddenly lit up and irradiated like that of a child.

When she laughed heartily she closed her eyes, bashfully bent her head, and covered her mouth with her hand or her arm, exactly as our shy country lasses do. On a sudden, however, she composed herself, and her face darkened and became gloomy, serious, almost stern, as before.

I had a great desire to hear her voice, in order to learn whether it corresponded with either of the two natures revealed by these sudden changes. But I had no opportunity of gratifying this desire. Olga did not open her mouth the whole evening. Her taciturnity did not proceed from indifference, for she listened attentively to the conversation, and her veiled eyes were turned from side to side. It did not seem, either, to arise from restraint. It was due rather to the absence of any motive for speaking. She seemed to be quite content to listen and reflect, and her serious mouth appeared to defy all attempts to open it.

It was not until some days afterwards, when I met her alone on certain “business,” that I heard her voice, veiled like her eyes, and it was only after many months’ acquaintance that I was able to understand her disposition, the originality of which consisted in its union of two opposite characteristics. She was a child in her candor, bordering on simplicity, in the purity of her mind, and in the modesty which displayed itself even in familiar intercourse and gave to her sentiments a peculiar and charming delicacy. But at the same time this child astounded the toughest veterans by her determination, her ability and coolness in the face of danger, and especially by her ardent and steadfast strength of will, which, recognising no obstacles, made her sometimes attempt impossibilities.

To see this young girl, so simple, so quiet, and so modest, who became burning red, bashfully covered her face with both hands, and hurried away upon hearing some poetry dedicated to her by some former disciple—to see this young girl, I say, it was difficult to believe that she was an escaped convict, familiar with condemnations, prisons, trials, escapes, and adventures of every kind. It was only necessary, however, to see her for once at work to believe instantly in everything. She was transformed, displaying a certain natural and spontaneous instinct which was something between the cunning of a fox and the skill of a warrior. This outward simplicity and candor served her then like the shield of Mambrino, and enabled her to issue unscathed from perils in which many men, considered able, would unquestionably have lost their lives.

One day the police, while making a search, really had her in their grasp. A friend, distancing the gendarmes by a few moments, had merely only time to rush breathless up the stairs, dash into the room where she was, and exclaim, “Save yourself! the police!” when the police were already surrounding the house. Olga had not even time to put on her bonnet. Just as she was, she rushed to the back stairs, and hurried down at full speed. Fortunately the street door was not yet guarded by the gendarmes, and she was able to enter a little shop on the ground floor. She had only twenty kopecks in her pockets, having been unable, in her haste, to get any money. But this did not trouble her. For fifteen kopecks she bought a cotton handkerchief, and fastened it round her head in the style adopted by coquettish servant-girls. With the five kopecks remaining she bought some nuts, and left the shop eating them, in such a quiet and innocent manner that the detachment of police, which meanwhile had advanced and surrounded the house on that side, let her pass without even asking her who she was, although the description of her was well known, for her photograph had been distributed to all the agents, and the police have always strict orders to let no one who may arouse the slightest suspicion leave a house which they have surrounded. This was not the only time that she slipped [Pg 47] like an eel through the fingers of the police. She was inexhaustible in expedients, in stratagems, and in cunning, which she always had at her command at such times; and with all this she maintained her serious and severe aspect, so that she seemed utterly incapable of lending herself to deceit or stimulation. Perhaps she did not think, but acted upon instinct rather than reflection, and that was why she could meet every danger with the lightning-like rapidity of a fencer who parries a thrust.


The romance of her life commenced during her stay in St. Petersburg after her escape. She was one of the so-called “Amazons,” and was one of the most fanatical. She ardently preached against love and advocated celibacy, holding that with so many young men and young girls of the present day love was a clog upon revolutionary activity. She kept her vow for several years, but was vanquished by the invincible. There was at that time in St. Petersburg a certain Nicholas Morosoff, a young poet and brave fellow, handsome, and fascinating as his poetic dreams. He was of a graceful figure, tall as a young pine-tree, with a fine head, an abundance of curly hair, and a pair of chestnut eyes, which soothed, like a whisper of love, and sent forth glances that shone like diamonds in the dark whenever a touch of enthusiasm moved him.

The bold “Amazon” and the young poet met, and their fate was decided. I will not tell of the delirium and transports through which they passed. Their love was like some delicate and sensitive plant, which must not be rudely touched. It was a spontaneous and irresistible feeling. They did not perceive it until they were madly enamoured of each other. They became husband and wife. It was said of them that when they were together inexorable Fate had no heart to touch them, and that its cruel hand became a paternal one, which warded off the blows that threatened them. And, indeed, all their misfortunes happened to them when they were apart.

This was the incident which did much to give rise to the saying.

In November 1879, Olga fell into the hands of the police. It should be explained that when these succeed in arresting a Nihilist they always leave in the apartments of the captured person a few men to take into custody any one who may come to see that person. In our language, this is called a trap. Owing to the Russian habit of arranging everything at home and not in the cafés, as in Europe, the Nihilists are often compelled to go to each other houses, and thus these traps become fatal. In order to diminish the risk, safety signals are generally placed in the windows, and are taken away at the first sound of the police. But, owing to the negligence of the Nihilists themselves, accustomed as they are to danger, and so occupied that they sometimes have not time to eat a mouthful all day long, the absence of these signals is often disregarded, or attributed to some combination of circumstances—the difficulty, or perhaps the topographical impossibility, of placing signals in many apartments in such a manner that they can be seen from a distance. This measure of public security frequently, therefore, does not answer its purpose, and a good half of all the Nihilists who have fallen into the hands of the Government have been caught in these very traps.

A precisely similar misfortune happened to Olga, and the worst of it was that it was in the house of Alexander Kviatkovsky, one of the Terrorist leaders, where the police found a perfect magazine of dynamite, bombs, and similar things, together with a plan of the Winter Palace, which, after the explosion there, led to his capital conviction. As may readily be believed, the police would regard with anything but favorable eyes every one who came to the house of such a man.

Directly she entered, Olga was immediately seized by two policemen, in order to prevent her from defending herself. She, however, displayed not the slightest desire to do so. She feined surprise, astonishment, and invented there and then the story that she had come to see some dressmakers (who had, in fact, their names on a door-plate below, and occupied the upper floor) for the purpose of ordering something, but had mistaken the door; that she did not know what they wanted with [Pg 48] her, and wished to return to her husband, etc.; the usual subterfuges to which the police are accustomed to turn a deaf ear. But Olga played her part so well that the pristav, or head of the police of the district, was really inclined to believe her. He told her that anyhow, if she did not wish to be immediately taken to prison, she must give her name and conduct him to her own house. Olga gave the first name which came into her mind, which naturally enough was not that under which she was residing in the capital, but as to her place of residence she declared, with every demonstration of profound despair, that she could not, and would not, take him there or say where it was. The pristav insisted, and, upon her reiterated refusal, observed to the poor simple thing that her obstinacy was not only prejudicial to her, but even useless, as, knowing her name, he would have no difficulty in sending some one to the Adressni Stol and obtaining her address. Struck by this unanswerable argument, Olga said she would take him to her house.

No sooner had she descended into the street, accompanied by the pristav and some of his subalterns, than Olga met a friend, Madame Maria A., who was going to Kviatkovsky’s, where a meeting of Terrorists had actually been fixed for that very day. It was to this chance meeting that the Terrorists owed their escape from the very grave danger which threatened them; for the windows of Kviatkovsky’s rooms were so placed that it was impossible to see any signals there from the street.

Naturally enough the two friends made no sign to indicate that they were acquainted with each other, but Madame Maria A., on seeing Olga with the police, ran in all haste to inform her friends of the arrest of their companion, about which there could be no doubt.

The first to be warned was Nicholas Morosoff, as the police in a short time would undoubtedly go to his house and make the customary search. Olga felt certain that this was precisely what her friend would do, and therefore her sole object now was to delay her custodians so as to give Morosoff time to “clear” his rooms (that is to say, destroy or take away papers and everything compromising), and to get away himself. It was this that she was anxious about, for he had been accused by the traitor Goldenberg of having taken part in the mining work connected with the Moscow attempt, and by the Russian law was liable to the penalty of death.

Greatly emboldened by this lucky meeting with her friend, Olga, without saying a word, conducted the police to the Ismailovsky Polk, one of the quarters of the town most remote from the place of her arrest, which was in the Nevsky district. They found the street and the house indicated to them. They entered and summoned the dvornik (doorkeeper), who has to be present at every search made. Then came the inevitable explanation. The dvornik said that he did not know the lady, and that she did not lodge in that house.

Upon hearing this statement, Olga covered her face with her hands, and again gave way to despair. She sobbingly admitted that she had deceived them from fear of her husband, who was very harsh, that she had not given her real name and address, and wound up by begging them to let her go home.

“What’s the use of all this, madam?” exclaimed the pristav. “Don’t you see that you are doing yourself harm by these tricks? I’ll forgive you this time, because of your inexperience, but take care you don’t do it again, and lead us at once to your house, or otherwise you will repent it.”

After much hesitation, Olga, resolved to obey the injunctions of the pristav. She gave her name, and said she lived in one of the lines of the Vasili Ostrov.

It took an hour to reach the place. At last they arrived at the house indicated. Here precisely the same scene with the dvornik was repeated. Then the pristav lost all patience, and wanted to take her away to prison at once, without making a search in her house. Upon hearing the pristav’s harsh announcement, Olga flung herself into an arm-chair and had a violent attack of hysterics. They fetched some water and sprinkled her face with it to revive her. When she had somewhat recovered, the pristav ordered her to rise and go at once to the prison of the district. Her hysterical attack recommenced. But the [Pg 49] pristav would stand no more nonsense, and told her to get up, or otherwise he would have her taken away in a cab by main force.

The despair of the poor lady was now at its height.

“Listen!” she exclaimed. “I will tell you everything now.”

And she began the story of her life and marriage. She was the daughter of a rustic, and she named the province and the village. Up to the age of sixteen she remained with her father and looked after the sheep. But one day an engineer, her future husband, who was at work upon a branch line of railway, came to stop in the house. He fell in love with her, took her to town, placed her with his aunt, and had teachers to educate her, as she was illiterate and knew nothing. Then he married her, and they lived very happily together for four years; but he had since become discontented, rough, irritable, and she feared that he loved her no longer; but she loved him as much as ever, as she owed everything to him, and could not be ungrateful. Then she said that he would be dreadfully angry with her, and would perhaps drive her away if she went to the house in charge of the police; that it would be a scandal; that he would think she had stolen something; and so on.

All this, and much more of the same kind, with endless details and repetitions, did Olga narrate; interrupting her story from time to time by sighs, exclamations, and tears. She wept in very truth, and her tears fell copiously, as she assured me when she laughingly described this scene to me afterwards. I thought at the time that she would have made a very good actress.

The pristav, though impatient, continued to listen. He was vexed at the idea of returning with empty hands, and he hoped this time at all events her story would lead to something. Then, too, he had not the slightest suspicion, and would have taken his oath that the woman he had arrested was a poor simple creature, who had fallen into his hands without having done anything whatever, as so frequently happens in Russia, where houses are searched on the slightest suspicion. When Olga had finished her story the pristav began to console her. He said that her husband would certainly pardon her when he heard her explanation; that the same thing might happen to any one; and so on. Olga resisted for a while, and asked the pristav to promise that he would assure her husband she had done nothing wrong; and more to the same effect. The pristav promised everything, in order to bring the matter to an end, and this time Olga proceeded towards her real residence. She had gained three hours and a half; for her arrest took place at about two o’clock, and she did not reach her own home until about half-past five. She had no doubt that Morosoff had got away, and after having “cleared” the rooms had thrice as much time as he required for the operation.

Having ascended the stairs, accompanied by the dvorniks and the police, she rang the bell. The door opened and the party entered, first the antechamber, then the sitting-room. There a terrible surprise awaited her. Morosoff in person was seated at a table, in his dressing gown, with a pencil in his hand and a pen in his ear. Olga fell into hysterics. This time they were real, not simulated.

How was it that he had remained in the house?

The lady previously mentioned had not failed to hasten at once and inform Morosoff, whom she found at home with three or four friends. At the announcement of the arrest of Olga they all had but one idea—that of remaining where they were, of arming themselves, and of awaiting her arrival, in order to rescue her by main force. But Morosoff energetically opposed this proposal. He said, and rightly said, that it presented more dangers than advantages, for the police being in numbers and reinforced by the dvorniks of the house, who are all a species of police agents of inferior grade, the attempt at the best would result in the liberation of one person at the cost of several others. His view prevailed, and the plan, which was more generous than prudent, was abandoned. The rooms were at once “cleared” with the utmost rapidity, so that the fate of the person arrested, which was sure to be a hard one and was now inevitable, should not be rendered more grievous. When [Pg 50] all was ready and they were about to leave, Morosoff staggered his friends by acquainting them with the plan he had thought of. He would remain in the house alone and await the arrival of the police. They thought he had lost his senses; for everybody knew, and no one better than himself, that, with the terrible accusation hanging over his head, if once arrested it would be all over with him. But he said he hoped it would not come to that—nay, he expected to get clear off with Olga, and in any case would share her fate. They would escape or perish together. His friends heard him announce this determination with mingled feelings of grief, astonishment, and admiration. Neither entreaties nor remonstrances could shake his determination. He was firm, and remained at home after saying farewell to his friends, who took leave of him as of a man on the point of death.

He had drawn up his plan, which by the suggestion of some mysterious instinct perfectly harmonised with that of Olga, although they had never in any way arranged the matter. He also had determined to feign innocence, and had arranged everything in such a manner as to make it seem as though he were the most peaceful of citizens. As he lived under the false passport of an engineer, he covered his table with a heap of plans of various dimensions, and, having put on his dressing-gown and slippers, set diligently to work to copy one, while waiting the arrival of his unwelcome guests.

It was in this guise and engaged in this innocent occupation that he was surprised by the police. The scene which followed may easily be imagined. Olga flung her arms round his neck, and poured forth a stream of broken words, exclamations, excuses, and complaints of these men who had arrested her because she wished to call upon her milliner. In the midst, however, of these exclamations, she whispered in his ear, “Have you not been warned?”

“Yes,” he replied in the same manner, everything is in order. “Don’t be alarmed.”

Meanwhile he played the part of an affectionate husband mortified by this scandal. After a little scolding and then a little consolation, he turned to the pristav and asked him for an explanation, as he could not quite understand what had happened from the disconnected words of his wife. The pristav politely told the whole story. The engineer appeared greatly surprised and grieved, and could not refrain from somewhat bitterly censuring his wife for her unpardonable imprudence. The pristav, who was evidently reassured by the aspect of the husband and of the whole household, declared nevertheless that he must make a search.

“I hope you will excuse me, sir,” he added, “but I am obliged to do it; it is my duty.”

“I willingly submit to the law,” nobly replied the engineer.

Thereupon he pointed to the room, so as to indicate that the pristav was free to search it thoroughly, and having lit a candle with his own hand, for at that hour in St. Petersburg it was already dark, he quietly opened the door of the adjoining room, which was his own little place.

The search was made. Certainly not a single scrap of paper was found, written or printed, which smelt of Nihilism.

“By rights I ought to take the lady to prison,” said the pristav, when he had finished his search, “especially as her previous behavior was anything but what it ought to have been; but I won’t do that. I will simply keep you under arrest here until your passports have been verified. You see, sir,” he added, “we police officers are not quite so bad as the Nihilists make us out.”

“There are always honest men in every occupation,” replied the engineer with a gracious bow.

More compliments of the same kind, which I need not repeat, were exchanged between them, and the pristav went away with most of his men, well impressed with such a polite and pleasant reception. He left, however, a guard in the kitchen, with strict injunctions not to lose sight of the host and hostess, until further orders.

Morosoff and Olga were alone. The first act of the comedy they had improvised had met with complete success. But the storm was far from having blown over. The verification of their passports would show that [Pg 51] they were false. The inevitable consequence would be a warrant for their arrest, which might be issued at any moment if the verification were made by means of the telegraph. The sentinel, rigid, motionless, with his sword by his side and his revolver in his belt, was seated in the kitchen, which was at the back, exactly opposite the outer door, so that it was impossible to approach the door without being seen by him. For several hours they racked their brains and discussed, in a low voice, various plans of escape. To free themselves by main force was not to be thought of. No arms had been left in the place, for they had been purposely taken away. Yet without weapons, how could they grapple with this big sturdy fellow, armed as he was? They hoped that as the hours passed on he would fall asleep. But this hope was not realised. When, at about half-past ten, Morosoff, under the pretext of going into his little room, which was used for various domestic purposes, passed near the kitchen, he saw the man still at his post, with his eyes wide open, attentive and vigilant as at first. Yet when Morosoff returned Olga would have declared that the way was quite clear and that they had nothing to do but to leave, so beaming were his eyes. He had, in fact, found what he wanted—a plan simple and safe. The little room opened into the small corridor which served as a sort of antechamber, and its door flanked that of the kitchen. In returning to the sitting-room, Morosoff observed that when the door of the little room was wide open, it completely shut out the view of the kitchen, and consequently hid from the policeman the outer door, and also that of the sitting-room. It would be possible, therefore, at a given moment, to pass through the antechamber without being seen by the sentinel. But this could not be done unless some one came and opened the door of the little room. Neither Olga nor Morosoff could do this, for if, under some pretext, they opened it, they would of course have to leave it open. This would immediately arouse suspicion, and the policeman would run after them and catch them perhaps before they had descended the staircase. Could they trust the landlady? The temptation to do so was great. If she consented to assist them, success might be considered certain. But if she refused! Who could guarantee that, from fear of being punished as an accomplice, she would not go and reveal everything to the police? Of course she did not suspect in the least what kind of people her lodgers were.

Nothing, therefore, was said to her, but they hoped nevertheless to have her unconscious assistance, and it was upon that Morosoff had based his plan. About eleven o’clock she went into the little room, where the pump was placed, to get the water to fill the kitchen cistern for next day’s consumption. As the room was very small, she generally left one of the two pails in the corridor, while she filled the other with water, and, of course, was thus obliged to leave the door open. Everything thus depended upon the position in which she placed her pail. An inch or two on one side or the other would decide their fate; for it was only when the door of the little room was wide open that it shut out the view of the kitchen and concealed the end of the antechamber. If not wide open, part of the outer door could be seen. There remained half an hour before the decisive moment, which both employed in preparing for flight. Their wraps were hanging up in the wardrobe in the antechamber. They had, therefore, to put on what they had with them in the sitting-room. Morosoff put on a light summer overcoat. Olga threw over her shoulders a woollen scarf, to protect her somewhat from the cold. In order to deaden as much as possible the sounds of their hasty footsteps, which might arouse the attention of the sentinel in the profound silence of the night, both of them put on their goloshes, which, being elastic, made but little noise. They had to put them on next to their stockings, although it was not particularly agreeable at that season, for they were in their slippers, their shoes having been purposely sent into the kitchen to be cleaned for the following day, in order to remove all suspicion respecting their intentions.

Everything being prepared, they remained in readiness, listening to every sound made by the landlady. At last came the clanging of the empty pails. She went to the little room, threw open the door, and [Pg 52] began her work. The moment had arrived. Morosoff cast a hasty glance. Oh, horror! The empty pail scarcely projected beyond the threshold, and the door was at a very acute angle, so that even from the door of the sitting-room where they were part of the interior of the kitchen could be seen. He turned towards Olga, who was standing behind him holding her breath, and made an energetic sign in the negative. A few minutes passed, which seemed like hours. The pumping ceased; the pail was full. She was about to place it on the floor. Both stretched their necks and advanced a step, being unable to control the anxiety of their suspense. This time the heavy pail banged against the door and forced it back on its hinges, a stream of water being spilt. The view of the kitchen was completely shut out, but another disaster had occurred. Overbalanced by the heavy weight, the landlady had come half out into the corridor. “She has seen us,” whispered Morosoff, falling back pale as death. “No,” replied Olga, excitedly; and she was right. The landlady disappeared into the little room, and a moment afterwards recommenced her clattering work.

Without losing a moment, without even turning round, Morosoff gave the signal to his companion by a firm grip of the hand, and both issued forth, hastily passed through the corridor, softly opened the door, and found themselves upon the landing of the staircase. With cautious steps they descended, and were in the street, ill clad but very light of heart. A quarter of an hour afterwards they were in a house where they were being anxiously awaited by their friends, who welcomed them with a joy more easy to imagine than to describe.

In their own abode their flight was not discovered until late in the morning, when the landlady came to do the room.

Such was the adventure, narrated exactly as it happened, which contributed, as I have said, to give rise to the saying that these two were invincible when together. When the police became aware of the escape of the supposed engineer and his wife, they saw at once that they had been outwitted. The pristav, who had been so thoroughly taken in, had a terrible time of it, and proceeded with the utmost eagerness to make investigations somewhat behindhand. The verification of the passports of course showed that they were false. The two fugitives were therefore “illegal” people, but the police wished to know, at all events, who they were, and to discover this was not very difficult, for both had already been in the hands of the police, who, therefore, were in possession of their photographs. The landlady and the dvornik recognised them among a hundred shown to them by the gendarmes. A comparison with the description of them, also preserved in the archives of the gendarmerie, left no doubt of their identity. It was in this manner the police found out what big fish they had stupidly allowed to escape from their net, as may be seen by reading the report of the trial of Sciriaeff and his companions. With extreme but somewhat tardy zeal, the gendarmes ransacked every place in search of them. They had their trouble for nothing. A Nihilist who thoroughly determines to conceal himself can never be found. He falls into the hands of the police only when he returns to active life.

When the search for them began to relax, Olga and Morosoff quitted their place of concealment and resumed their positions in the ranks. Some months afterwards they went abroad in order to legitimatise their union, so that if some day they were arrested it might be recognised by the police. They crossed the frontier of Roumania unmolested, stopped there some time, and having arranged their private affairs went to reside for awhile at Geneva, where Morosoff wished to finish a work of some length upon the Russian revolutionary movement. Here, Olga gave birth to a daughter, and for awhile it seemed that all the strength of her ardent and exceptional disposition would concentrate itself in maternal love. She did not appear to care for anything. She seemed even to forget her husband in her exclusive devotion to the little one. There was something almost wild in the intensity of her love.

Four months passed, and Morosoff, obeying the call of duty, chafing at inactivity, and eager for the struggle, returned to Russia. Olga could not follow him with her baby at the breast, and, oppressed by a mournful presentiment, allowed him to depart alone.

A fortnight after he was arrested.

On hearing this terrible news, Olga did not swoon, she did not wring her hands, she did not even shed a single tear. She stifled her grief. A single, irresistible, and supreme idea pervaded her—to fly to him; to save him at all costs; by money, by craft, by the dagger, by poison, even at the risk of her own life, so that she could but save him.

And the child? That poor little weak and delicate creature, who needed all her maternal care to support its feeble life? What could she do with the poor innocent babe, already almost an orphan?

She could not take it with her. She must leave it behind.

Terrible was the night which the poor mother passed with her child before setting out. Who can depict the indescribable anguish of her heart, with the horrible alternative placed before her of forsaking her child to save the man she loved, or of forsaking him to save the little one. On the one side was maternal feeling; on the other her ideal, her convictions, her devotion to the cause which he steadfastly served.

She did not hesitate for a moment. She must go.

On the morning of the day fixed she took leave of all her friends, shut herself up alone with her child, and remained with it for some minutes [Pg 53] to bid it farewell. When she issued forth, her face was pale as death and wet with tears.

She set out. She moved heaven and earth to save her husband. Twenty times she was within an ace of being arrested. But it was impossible for her efforts to avail. As implicated in the attempt against the life of the Emperor, he was confined in the fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul; and there is no escape from there. She did not relax her efforts, but stubbornly and doggedly continued them, and all this while was in agony if she did not constantly hear about her child. If the letters were delayed a day or two, her anguish could not be restrained. The child was ever present in her mind. One day she took compassion on a little puppy, still blind, which she found upon a heap of rubbish, where it had been thrown. “My friends laugh at me,” she wrote, “but I love it because its little feeble cries remind me of those of my child.”

Meanwhile the child died. For a whole month no one had the courage to tell the sad news. But at last the silence had to be broken.

Olga herself was arrested a few weeks afterwards.

Such is the story, the true story, of Olga Liubatovitch. Of Olga Liubatovitch, do I say? No—of hundreds and hundreds of others. I should not have related it had it not been so.—Cornhill Magazine.



The monastic order of Trappists—a branch of the Cistercian—possesses monasteries in many parts of Europe, one, composed of German brethren, being in Turkey. Some of these establishments are agricultural or industrial associations; others are reformatories for juvenile delinquents; while some have been instituted for effecting works that might be dangerous to health and life, such as draining marshy lands where the fatal malaria broods.

The Monastery of La Trappe le Port du Salut, the subject of the present description, stands near the village of Entrammes, at Port Raingeard, on the river Mayenne, on the borders of Maine, Anjou, and Brittany. Its site has been most picturesquely chosen in a charming nook, where the stream having rapidly passed through some rocky cliffs suddenly expands, and flows slowly through rich pasture-lands. With its church, [Pg 54] farms, water-mill, cattle-sheds, gardens, and orchards, the whole settlement looks like a hamlet surrounded with an enclosure (clôture) marking the limits of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction. A narrow passage between two high walls leads to the entrance-gate, bearing the inscription, “Hic est Portus Salutis,”—“Here is the haven of safety.” A long chain with an iron cross for a handle being pulled and a bell rung, a porter opens a wicket, bows his head down to his knees—the obligatory salutation of the Trappist—and in silence awaits the ringer’s interrogation. The latter may have come simply from curiosity, or he may be a traveller seeking for shelter and hospitality, a beggar asking alms, or even a wrong-doer in search of an asylum; he may be rich or poor, Christian, Jew, or Mohammedan—no matter! the porter at once grants admittance, conducts him to the guests’ reception-room, and summons the hostelier.

A monk in white robes appears, his head shaven with the exception of a ring of hair. He bows as did the porter. If the visitor only contemplates a stay of a few hours no formality is gone through; a meal and refreshments are offered, and he is conducted over the monastery. But if he proposes to sleep there, the monk, whose rules are to consider that every guest has been guided to the place by our Lord Himself, says, “I must worship in your person Jesus Christ, suffering and asking hospitality; pray do not heed what I am about to do.” He then falls prostrate on the ground, and so remains for a short time, in silent devotion. After this he leads the way to an adjoining room, and requests the visitor to write his name in a book, open here, as elsewhere in France, for the inspection of the police. The entry made, the father hostelier (as he is called) reads from “The Imitation of Jesus Christ” the first passage that attracts his eye. In the case of our informant it was “I come to you, my son, because you have called me.” But whatever the text may be, he adds, “Let these words form the subject of your meditations during your stay at La Trappe.”

The Communauté is the name of the monks’ private buildings, where no strangers are permitted to penetrate, except by special permission and accompanied by a father. Here perpetual silence is prescribed, save during the times of religious service, and the visitor is warned that in his tour around the domicile he is to kneel, pray, and make the sign of the cross when and where he sees his companion do so. This proceeding would at first sight seem to exclude from the monastery all non-Roman Catholics. The member of any religious communion, however, is welcome, provided he pays a certain deference to the rules, and as the Trappist guide walks in advance, and never turns round to observe how his guest is engaged, all derelictions in minor matters are purposely allowed to escape his notice. Were it otherwise, he would at once retrace his steps, lead the way to the entrance-door, show the visitor out, and without uttering a single word, bow and leave him there.

The church is a part of the Communauté, and is plain in architecture and simple in ornamentation. Here it is that each Trappist is brought to die. Whenever any monk is in the throes of death, an assistant of the hospital runs about the monastery striking with a stick on a board. At that well-known summons the brethren flock to the church, where their dying brother has been already laid on ashes strewn on the stones in the shape of a cross, and covered with a bundle of straw. A solemn joy lights up every face, and the Trappist passes away amid the thanksgiving of his companions who envy his happiness. It is the finis coronat opus of his life-work.

The Trappist must always be ready for the grave, and as he is to be buried in his religious vestments, so he is bound to sleep in those same vestments, even to the extent of keeping his shoes on. The dormitory is common to all, the abbot included. The beds are made of quilted straw, as hard as a board, and are separated by a wooden partition, without doors, reaching more than half way to the ceiling. There is not the least distinction of accommodation. The Superior rests not more luxuriously than the brethren, because equality rules here as elsewhere in the monastery. For La Trappe is a republic governed by a Chapter, the abbot being only the executive for all temporal affairs, [Pg 55] and wielding absolute power in spiritual matters alone. But although he holds authority from the see of Rome, yet he is elected by the brethren, who may if they choose elevate the humblest official of the monastery. There are no menial occupations, as the world esteems them, inside the religious houses of the order. The commonest duties may be performed by inmates of the highest social rank.

The Chapter House answers the double purpose of a hall for meetings and of a reading-room. The Chapter assembles daily at 5 a.m.—the fathers in their white gowns, the brethren in their brown ones—in order to discuss any matter, temporal or spiritual, interesting to the general community. When the secular business of the day has been gone through the abbot says, “Let us speak concerning our rules,” implying that any derelictions which may have occurred during the past twenty-four hours are to be considered. Then all the monks in succession, as they may have occasion, accuse themselves of any neglect, even the most trivial. One may say, “Reverend Father,” addressing the abbot, “I accidentally dropped my tools when working;” another, “I did not bow low enough when Brother Joseph passed me;” a third, “I saw that Brother Antony carried a load that was too heavy, and I did not assist him.” These and such like self-accusations may seem puerile, but they lead up to the preservation of some of the essential precepts of the order, unremitting attention while at labor, deferential demeanor and Christian courtesy towards brethren.

But if any brother may have omitted to mention derelictions of which he himself was not aware it then devolves upon his companions, with the view of maintaining rules, on the observance of which the happiness of all is concerned, to state to the abbot what those faults may have been. For instance, one will say, “When Brother Simeon comes to the Chapter he sometimes forgets to make the sign for the brethren who stood up on his arrival to sit down again, and yesterday Brother Peter remained standing for one hour, until another brother came in and made the sign to be seated.” Thus warned Brother Simeon rises and kisses the informant, thanking him in this way for kindly reproving him. These accusations are considered by the brethren as showing their zeal for reciprocal improvement.

The Trappist is bound to make the abbot acquainted at once with everything that occurs within the precinct of the monastery, and minutiæ of the most trifling and sometimes even ludicrous nature must be reported without delay. To the same ear, and in private, must also be communicated those confessions in which personal feelings—even against himself—are concerned. To quote a single instance. It once so happened that a brother of Le Port du Salut took a dislike to Dom. H. M., the abbot, and came to tell him of it.

“Reverend Father, I am very unhappy.”

“Why so, brother?”

“Reverend Father, I cannot bear the sight of you.”

“Why so?”

“I do not know; but when I see you I feel hatred towards you, and it destroys my peace of mind.”

“It is a temptation as bad, but not worse, than any other,” replied the abbot; “bear it patiently; do not heed it; and whenever you feel it again come at once and tell me, and especially warn me if I say or do anything that displeases you.”

The common belief that Trappists never speak is altogether erroneous. They do speak at stated times and under certain conditions, and they make use besides of most expressive signs, each of which is symbolical. Thus joining the fingers of both hands at a right angle, imitating as it does the roof of a house, means house; touching the forehead signifies the abbot; the chin, a stranger; the heart, a brother; the eyes, to sleep, and so on with some hundreds of like signs invented by Abbé de Rance, the founder of the order. Trappists converse in this manner with amazing rapidity, and may be heard laughing heartily at the comicality of a story told entirely by signs. Strange to say there is no austere gloom about the Trappist. His face invariably bears the stamp of serenity, often that of half-subdued gaiety. The life he leads is nevertheless a very hard one. No fire is [Pg 56] allowed in the winter except in the chauffoir or stove-room, and there the monks are permitted during excessive cold weather to come in for fifteen minutes only, the man nearest the stove yielding his place to the new-comer. The chauffoir and the hospital are the only artificially heated apartments in the building.

The Trappist takes but one meal and a slight refection per day. He is the strictest of all vegetarians, for he is not allowed to partake of any other food except milk and cheese. From the 14th of September to the Saturday in Passion week, he must not even touch milk. Vegetables cooked in water, with a little salt, together with some cider apples, pears and almonds, being all that is permitted him, and during that long period he takes food but once daily. The diet is not precisely the same in all monasteries, certain modifications being authorised, according to the produce of the monastic lands. Thus at Le Port du Salut they brew and drink beer and at other places where wine is made they use that in very limited quantities, largely diluted with water.

Trappists wait in turn at table upon their brethren. No one, not even the abbot, is to ask for anything for himself, but each monk is bound to see that those seated on either side of him get everything they are entitled to, and to give notice of any omission by giving a slight tap upon the table and pointing with the finger to the neglected brother.

Any monk arriving in the refectory after grace prostrates himself in the middle of the room and remains there until the abbot knocks with a small hammer and thus liberates him. A graver punishment is inflicted now and again at the conclusion of dinner. The culprit, so called, lies flat on the stones across the doorway, and each brother and guest is compelled to step over him as he makes his exit. I say guest advisedly, for it is the privilege of all who receive hospitality at La Trappe to dine once—not oftener—in the monks’ refectory. During meals one of the Brotherhood reads aloud, in accordance with Cistercian practice.

The dinner at Le Port du Salut consists generally of vegetable soup, salad without oil, whole-meal bread, cheese, and a modicum of light beer. Though the cooking is of the plainest description the quality of the vegetables is excellent, and the cheese has become quite famous. The meal never lasts longer than twenty minutes, and when over, all remaining scraps are distributed to the poor assembled at the gate. Six hundred pounds weight of bread and several casks of soup are also distributed weekly, besides what the abbot may send to any sick person in the vicinity.

The ailing Trappist is allowed to indulge in what is called Le Soulagement, viz. two eggs taken early in the morning. In cases of very severe illness, and when under medical treatment in the hospital, animal food may be used; but the attachment to rules is so great that the authority of the Superiors has frequently to be exercised in order to enforce the doctor’s prescription. In the words of Father Martin, the attendant of the hospital, “When a Trappist consents to eat meat, he is at death’s very door.”

The cemetery is surrounded on all sides by the buildings of the Communauté, so that from every window the monks may see their last resting place. The graves are indicated by a slight rising of the grass and by a cross bearing the saint’s name assumed by the brother on his profession. Nothing else is recorded save his age and the date of his death. Threescore years and ten seem to be the minimum of life at La Trappe, and astonishing as this longevity may appear primâ facie, it is more so when one considers that the vocation of most postulants has been determined by a desire to separate themselves from a world, in which they had previously lost their peace of soul and their bodily health.

Under the regularity of monastic life, its labor, its tranquillity, and either despite the severity of the diet or in virtue of it, it is wonderful how soon the dejected and feeble become restored to health. Out of fifteen novices, statistics show that only one remains to be what is called a profès, the other fourteen leaving the monastery before the expiration of two years. A touching custom may be here mentioned. Trappists are told in their Chapter meeting, “Brethren, one of us has lost a father (or any other relation); let us pray for the departed soul.” But none know the name of the bereft brother. [Pg 57]

After having taken vows as a profès the Trappist holds a co-proprietorship in the buildings and lands of the association and must live and die in the monastery. Death is his goal and best hope. In order to remind him of it, a grave is always ready in the cemetery; but the belief is altogether erroneous that each Trappist digs his own grave. When the earth yawning for the dead has been filled, another pit is opened by any one ordered for the task. Each Trappist then comes and prays at the side of this grave which may be his own. Neither do Trappists when they meet each other say, “Brother, we must die,” as is also generally accredited to them. This is, we think, the salute of the disciples of Bruno at La Grande Chartreuse.

The farm buildings of Le Port du Salut are many and various, including sheds for cattle, a corn-mill, and looms for the manufacture of the woollen and cotton clothing the monks wear. There is much land, outside, as well as inside the walls of the precinct, which the monks cultivate, and they may be often seen in their full robes, despite the heat of the summer, working steadfastly in the fields, and the abbot harder than any of them.

During the twenty-four hours of an ordinary working day the Trappist is thus employed. He rises generally at two a.m., but on feast days at midnight or at one o’clock in the morning according to the importance of the festival. He immediately goes to church, which is shrouded in darkness, except the light that glimmers from the small lamps perpetually burning before the altar as in all Roman Catholic churches. The first service continues until three o’clock; at that hour and with the last words of the hymn all the monks prostrate themselves on the stones and remain in silent meditation during thirty minutes. The nave is then lighted, and the chants are resumed until five a.m., when masses commence. The number of hours given to liturgic offices is, on an average, seven per day. Singing, but in a peculiar way, forms a part of the worship. All the musical notes are long and of equal duration, and this because the Trappist must sing hymns “for the love of God, and not for his own delectation.” Moreover, he must exert his voice to its utmost, and this being prolonged at intervals during seven hours per diem proves a greater fatigue than even manual labor.

The distribution of the labor takes place every day under the superintendence of the abbot, the prior, and the cellérier, the last named official having the care of all the temporalities of the place, and being permitted, like the Superior, to hold intercourse with the outer world. The cellérier stands indeed in the same relation to the monastery as does a supercargo to a ship.

Labor is regular or occasional. To the first the brethren are definitely appointed, and their work is every day the same; the latter, which is mainly agricultural, is alloted by the Superior according to age, physical condition, and aptitude, but it is imperative that every monk must participate in manual labor. Even a guest may, if he pleases, claim, what is considered as a privilege, three hours of work a day.

After dinner the Trappist gives one hour to rest, but the maximum never exceeds seven hours, and on feast days is materially reduced by earlier rising. The mid-day siesta over, labor continues until a quarter to five o’clock, which is the hour of refection. Then comes the last religious office of the day, the “Salve Regina,” at which guests as well as brethren are expected to assist. The last word of the hymn at this service is the last word of the day. It is called “The Time of the Great Silence.” Monks and guests then leave the church, smothering the sound of their footsteps as much as possible, and noiselessly retire to their respective resting places; lights are put out, except in case of special permission of the abbot, and a death-like quiet and gloom reigns everywhere throughout the habitation.

The life of guests at Le Port du Salut differs from that of a Trappist. There is a parlor common to all, with a fire burning in it during winter, but each one sleeps in a separate cell, and has three meals a day; he may eat eggs from Easter until September, and have his vegetables cooked with butter. Last, though not least, his wants are [Pg 58] attended to, and his cell swept and cleaned by the father and the brother of the hostelerie, who are also at liberty to hold conversation with him.

A guest may stay in the monastery for three days without giving any particulars of himself, for fourteen days if he chooses to disclose who and what he is, and for as much as three months if his circumstances seem to need it. After that time, if he be poor, he may be sent away to another monastery at the cost of the senders; but the abbot is free to extend a guest’s visit to any duration.

Trappists are most useful citizens. They perform, per head, more labor than any farmer; they expend upon their own maintenance the very minimum necessary to support existence; they undertake at the cost of their lives works of great public utility, such as the draining of the extensive marshes of Les Dombes, in the south of France, and of La Metidja, at Staouëli, near Algiers, which they are converting into fruitful fields. As horticulturists, agriculturists, dairymen, millers, and breeders of cattle they are unrivalled; for men whose faith is that to work is to pray, cannot fail to excel those with whom work is, if even necessary, a tiresome obligation. Lastly, in all new establishments, the Trappist only considers his monastery founded when a dead brother has taken possession of the land and lies buried in the first open grave.

Such is the real life of the Trappists. It is apparently a happy one; and it is with feelings of deep regret and of friendly remembrance that the departing guest, as he reaches a turning of the road, and sees the steeple of the monastery of Le Port du Salut disappear, stands for a moment to cast a last look upon that peaceful abode ere he wends his way again into the wide, wide world.—Good Words.


The subject of thunderbolts is a very fascinating one, and all the more so because there are no such things in existence at all as thunderbolts of any sort. Like the snakes of Iceland, their whole history might, from the positive point of view at least, be summed up in the simple statement of their utter nonentity. But does that do away in the least, I should like to know, with their intrinsic interest and importance? Not a bit of it. It only adds to the mystery and charm of the whole subject. Does any one feel as keenly interested in any real living cobra or anaconda as in the non-existent great sea-serpent? Are ghosts and vampires less attractive objects of popular study than cats and donkeys? Can the present King of Abyssinia, interviewed by our own correspondent, equal the romantic charm of Prester John, or the butcher in the next street rival the personality of Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne, Baronet? No, the real fact is this: if there were thunderbolts, the question of their nature and action would be a wholly dull, scientific, and priggish one; it is their unreality alone that invests them with all the mysterious weirdness of pure fiction. Lightning, now, is a common thing that one reads about wearily in the books on electricity, a mere ordinary matter of positive and negative, density and potential, to be measured in ohms (whatever they may be), and partially imitated with Leyden jars and red sealing-wax apparatus. Why, did not Benjamin Franklin, a fat old gentleman in ill-fitting small clothes, bring it down from the clouds with a simple door-key, somewhere near Philadelphia? and does not Mr. Robert Scott (of the Meteorological Office) calmly predict its probable occurrence within the next twenty-four hours in his daily report, as published regularly in the morning papers? This is lightning, mere vulgar lightning, a simple result of electrical conditions in the upper atmosphere, inconveniently connected with algebraical formulas in x, y, z, with horrid symbols interspersed in Greek letters. But the real thunderbolts of Jove, the weapons that the angry Zeus, or Thor, or Indra hurls down upon the head of the trembling malefactor—how infinitely grander, more fearsome, and more mysterious! [Pg 59]

And yet even nowadays, I believe, there are a large number of well-informed people, who have passed the sixth standard, taken prizes at the Oxford Local, and attended the dullest lectures of the Society for University Extension, but who nevertheless in some vague and dim corner of their consciousness retain somehow a lingering faith in the existence of thunderbolts. They have not yet grasped in its entirety the simple truth that lightning is the reality of which thunderbolts are the mythical or fanciful or verbal representation. We all of us know now that lightning is a mere flash of electric light and heat; that it has no solid existence or core of any sort; in short, that it is dynamical rather than material, a state or movement rather than a body or thing. To be sure, local newspapers still talk with much show of learning about the “electric fluid” which did such remarkable damage last week upon the slated steeple of Peddington Torpida church; but the well-crammed schoolboy of the present day has long since learned that the electric fluid is an exploded fallacy, and that the lightning which pulled the ten slates off the steeple in question was nothing more in its real nature than a very big immaterial spark. However, the word thunderbolt has survived to us from the days when people still believed that the thing which did the damage during a thunderstorm was really and truly a gigantic white-hot bolt or arrow; and as there is a natural tendency in human nature to fit an existence to every word, people even now continue to imagine that there must be actually something or other somewhere called a thunderbolt. They don’t figure this thing to themselves as being identical with the lightning; on the contrary, they seem to regard it as something infinitely rarer, more terrible, and more mystic; but they firmly hold that thunderbolts do exist in real life, and even sometimes assert that they themselves have positively seen them.

But if seeing is believing, it is equally true, as all who have looked into the phenomena of spiritualism and “psychical research” (modern English for ghost-hunting), know too well that believing is seeing also. The origin of the faith in thunderbolts must be looked for (like the origin of the faith in ghosts and “psychical phenomena”) far back in the history of our race. The noble savage, at that early period when wild in woods he ran, naturally noticed the existence of thunder and lightning, because thunder and lightning are things that forcibly obtrude themselves upon the attention of the observer, however little he may by nature be scientifically inclined. Indeed, the noble savage, sleeping naked on the bare ground, in tropical countries where thunder occurs almost every night on an average, was sure to be pretty often awaked from his peaceful slumbers by the torrents of rain that habitually accompany thunderstorms in the happy realms of everlasting dog-days. Primitive man was thereupon compelled to do a little philosophising on his own account as to the cause and origin of the rumbling and flashing which he saw so constantly around him. Naturally enough, he concluded that the sound must be the voice of somebody; and that the fiery shaft, whose effects he sometimes noted upon trees, animals, and his fellow-man, must be the somebody’s arrow. It is immaterial from this point of view whether, as the scientific anthropologists hold, he was led to his conception of these supernatural personages from his prior belief in ghosts and spirits, or whether, as Professor Max Müller will have it, he felt a deep yearning in his primitive savage breast toward the Infinite and the Unknowable (which he would doubtless have spelt like the professor, with a capital initial, had he been acquainted with the intricacies of the yet uninvented alphabet); but this much at least is pretty certain, that he looked upon the thunder and the lightning as in some sense the voice and the arrows of an aërial god.

Now, this idea about the arrows is itself very significant of the mental attitude of primitive man, and of the way that mental attitude has colored all subsequent thinking and superstition upon this very subject. Curiously enough, to the present day the conception of the thunderbolt is essentially one of a bolt—that is to say, an arrow, or at least an arrowhead. All existing thunderbolts (and there are plenty of them lying about casually in country houses and local [Pg 60] museums) are more or less arrow-like in shape and appearance; some of them, indeed, as we shall see by-and-by, are the actual stone arrow heads of primitive man himself in person. Of course the noble savage was himself in the constant habit of shooting at animals and enemies with a bow and arrow. When, then, he tried to figure to himself the angry god, seated in the stormclouds, who spoke with such a loud rumbling voice, and killed those who displeased him, with his fiery darts, he naturally thought of him as using in his cloudy home the familiar bow and arrow of this nether planet. To us nowadays, if we were to begin forming the idea for ourselves all over again de novo, it would be far more natural to think of the thunder as the noise of a big gun, of the lightning as the flash of the powder, and of the supposed “bolt” as a shell or bullet. There is really a ridiculous resemblance between a thunderstorm and a discharge of artillery. But the old conception derived from so many generations of primitive men has held its own against such mere modern devices as gunpowder and rifle balls; and none of the objects commonly shown as thunderbolts are ever round: they are distinguished, whatever their origin, by the common peculiarity that they more or less closely resemble a dart or arrowhead.

Let us begin, then, by clearly disembarrassing our minds of any lingering belief in the existence of thunderbolts. There are absolutely no such things known to science. The two real phenomena that underlie the fable are simply thunder and lightning. A thunderstorm is merely a series of electrical discharges between one cloud and another, or between clouds and the earth; and these discharges manifest themselves to our senses under two forms—to the eye as lightning, to the ear as thunder. All that passes in each case is a huge spark—a commotion, not a material object. It is in principle just like the spark from an electrical machine; but while the most powerful machine of human construction will only send a spark for three feet, the enormous electrical apparatus provided for us by nature will send one for four, five, or even ten miles. Though lightning when it touches the earth always seems to us to come from the clouds to the ground, it is by no means certain that the real course may not at least occasionally be in the opposite direction. All we know is that sometimes there is an instantaneous discharge between one cloud and another, and sometimes an instantaneous discharge between a cloud and the earth.

But this idea of a mere passage of highly concentrated energy from one point to another was far too abstract, of course, for primitive man, and is far too abstract even now for nine out of ten of our fellow-creatures. Those who don’t still believe in the bodily thunderbolt, a fearsome aërial weapon which buries itself deep in the bosom of the earth, look upon lightning as at least an embodiment of the electric fluid, a long spout or line of molten fire, which is usually conceived of as striking the ground and then proceeding to hide itself under the roots of a tree or beneath the foundations of a tottering house. Primitive man naturally took to the grosser and more material conception. He figured to himself the thunderbolt as a barbed arrowhead; and the forked zigzag character of the visible flash, as it darts rapidly from point to point, seemed almost inevitably to suggest to him the barbs, as one sees them represented on all the Greek and Roman gems, in the red right hand of the angry Jupiter.

The thunderbolt being thus an accepted fact, it followed naturally that whenever any dart-like object of unknown origin was dug up out of the ground, it was at once set down as being a thunderbolt; and, on the other hand, the frequent occurrence of such dart-like objects, precisely where one might expect to find them in accordance with the theory, necessarily strengthened the belief itself. So commonly are thunderbolts picked up to the present day that to disbelieve in them seems to many country people a piece of ridiculous and stubborn scepticism. Why, they’ve ploughed up dozens of them themselves in their time, and just about the very place where the thunderbolt struck the old elm-tree two years ago, too.

The most favorite form of thunderbolt is the polished stone hatchet or “celt” of the newer stone age men. I have never heard the very rude [Pg 61] chipped and unpolished axes of the older drift men or cave men described as thunderbolts: they are too rough and shapeless ever to attract attention from any except professed archæologists. Indeed, the wicked have been known to scoff at them freely as mere accidental lumps of broken flint, and to deride the notion of their being due in any way to deliberate human handicraft. These are the sort of people who would regard a grand piano as a fortuitous concourse of atoms. But the shapely stone hatchet of the later neolithic farmer and herdsman is usually a beautifully polished wedge-shaped piece of solid greenstone; and its edge has been ground to such a delicate smoothness that it seems rather like a bit of nature’s exquisite workmanship than a simple relic of prehistoric man. There is something very fascinating about the naïf belief that the neolithic axe is a genuine unadulterated thunderbolt. You dig it up in the ground exactly where you would expect a thunderbolt (if there were such things) to be. It is heavy, smooth, well shaped, and neatly pointed at one end. If it could really descend in a red-hot state from the depths of the sky, launched forth like a cannon-ball by some fierce discharge of heavenly artillery, it would certainly prove a very formidable weapon indeed; and one could easily imagine it scoring the bark of some aged oak, or tearing off the tiles from a projecting turret, exactly as the lightning is so well known to do in this prosaic workaday world of ours. In short, there is really nothing on earth against the theory of the stone axe being a true thunderbolt, except the fact that it unfortunately happens to be a neolithic hatchet.

But the course of reasoning by which we discover the true nature of the stone axe is not one that would in any case appeal strongly to the fancy or the intelligence of the British farmer. It is no use telling him that whenever one opens a barrow of the stone age one is pretty sure to find a neolithic axe and a few broken pieces of pottery beside the mouldering skeleton of the old nameless chief who lies there buried. The British farmer will doubtless stolidly retort that thunderbolts often strike the tops of hills, which are just the places where barrows and tumuli (tumps, he calls them) most do congregate; and that as to the skeleton, isn’t it just as likely that the man was killed by the thunderbolt as that the thunderbolt was made by a man? Ay, and a sight likelier, too.

All the world over, this simple and easy belief, that the buried stone axe is a thunderbolt, exists among Europeans and savages alike. In the West of England, the laborers will tell you that the thunder-axes they dig up fell from the sky. In Brittany, says Mr. Tylor, the old man who mends umbrellas at Carnac, beside the mysterious stone avenues of that great French Stonehenge, inquires on his rounds for pierres de tonnerre, which of course are found with suspicious frequency in the immediate neighborhood of prehistoric remains. In the Chinese Encyclopædia we are told that the “lightning stones” have sometimes the shape of a hatchet, sometimes that of a knife, and sometimes that of a mallet. And then, by a curious misapprehension, the sapient author of that work goes on to observe that these lightning stones are used by the wandering Mongols instead of copper and steel. It never seems to have struck his celestial intelligence that the Mongols made the lightning stones instead of digging them up out of the earth. So deeply had the idea of the thunderbolt buried itself in the recesses of his soul, that though a neighboring people were still actually manufacturing stone axes almost under his very eyes, he reversed mentally the entire process, and supposed they dug up the thunderbolts which he saw them using, and employed them as common hatchets. This is one of the finest instances on record of the popular figure which grammarians call the hysteron proteron, and ordinary folk describe as putting the cart before the horse. Just so, while in some parts of Brazil the Indians are still laboriously polishing their stone hatchets, in other parts the planters are digging up the precisely similar stone hatchets of earlier generations, and religiously preserving them in their houses as undoubted thunderbolts. I have myself had pressed upon my attention as genuine lightning stones, in the West Indies, the exquisitely polished greenstone tomahawks of the [Pg 62] old Carib marauders. But then, in this matter, I am pretty much in the position of that philosophic sceptic who, when he was asked by a lady whether he believed in ghosts, answered wisely, “No, madam, I have seen by far too many of them.”

One of the finest accounts ever given of the nature of thunderbolts is that mentioned by Adrianus Tollius in his edition of “Boethius on Gems.” He gives illustrations of some neolithic axes and hammers, and then proceeds to state that in the opinion of philosophers they are generated in the sky by a fulgureous exhalation (whatever that may look like) conglobed in a cloud by a circumfixed humor, and baked hard, as it were, by intense heat. The weapon, it seems, then becomes pointed by the damp mixed with it flying from the dry part, and leaving the other end denser; while the exhalations press it so hard that it breaks out through the cloud, and makes thunder and lightning. A very lucid explanation certainly, but rendered a little difficult of apprehension by the effort necessary for realising in a mental picture the conglobation of a fulgureous exhalation by a circumfixed humor.

One would like to see a drawing of the process, though the sketch would probably much resemble the picture of a muchness, so admirably described by the mock turtle. The excellent Tollius himself, however, while demurring on the whole to this hypothesis of the philosophers, bases his objection mainly on the ground that if this were so, then it is odd that thunderbolts are not round, but wedge-shaped, and that they have holes in them, and those holes not equal throughout, but widest at the ends. As a matter of fact Tollius has here hit the right nail on the head quite accidentally; for the holes are really there, of course, to receive the haft of the axe or hammer. But if they were truly thunderbolts, and if the bolts were shafted, then the holes would have been lengthwise as in an arrowhead, not crosswise, as in an axe or hammer. Which is a complete reductio ad absurdum of the philosophic opinion.

Some of the cerauniæ, says Pliny, are like hatchets. He would have been nearer the mark if he had said “are hatchets” outright. But this aperçu, which was to Pliny merely a stray suggestion, became to the northern peoples a firm article of belief, and caused them to represent to themselves their god Thor or Thunor as armed, not with a bolt, but with an axe or hammer. Etymologically Thor, Thunor, and thunder are the self-same word; but while the southern races looked upon Zeus or Indra as wielding his forked darts in his red right hand, the northern races looked upon the Thunder-god as hurling down an angry hammer from his seat in the clouds. There can be but little doubt that the very notion of Thor’s hammer itself was derived from the shape of the supposed thunderbolt, which the Scandinavians and Teutons rightly saw at once to be an axe or mallet, not an arrowhead. The “fiery axe” of Thunor is a common metaphor in Anglo-Saxon poetry. Thus, Thor’s hammer is itself merely the picture which our northern ancestors formed to themselves, by compounding the idea of thunder and lightning with the idea of the polished stone hatchets they dug up among the fields and meadows.

Flint arrowheads of the stone age are less often taken for thunderbolts, no doubt because they are so much smaller that they look quite too insignificant for the weapons of an angry god. They are more frequently described as fairy-darts or fairy-bolts. Still, I have known even arrowheads regarded as thunderbolts and preserved superstitiously under that belief. In Finland, stone arrows are universally so viewed; and the rainbow is looked upon as the bow of Tiermes, the thunder-god, who shoots with it the guilty sorcerers.

But why should thunderbolts, whether stone axes or flint arrowheads, be preserved, not merely as curiosities, but from motives of superstition? The reason is a simple one. Everybody knows that in all magical ceremonies it is necessary to have something belonging to the person you wish to conjure against, in order to make your spells effectual. A bone, be it but a joint of the little finger, is sufficient to raise the ghost to which it once belonged; cuttings of hair or clippings of nails are enough to put their owner magically in your power; and that is the reason why, if you are a prudent person, you will always burn [Pg 63] all such off-castings of your body, lest haply an enemy should get hold of them, and cast the evil eye upon you with their potent aid. In the same way, if you can lay hands upon anything that once belonged to an elf, such as a fairy-bolt or flint arrowhead, you can get its former possessor to do anything you wish by simply rubbing it and calling upon him to appear. This is the secret of half the charms and amulets in existence, most of which are real old arrowheads, or carnelians cut in the same shape, which has now mostly degenerated from the barb to the conventional heart, and been mistakenly associated with the idea of love. This is the secret, too, of all the rings, lamps, gems, and boxes, possession of which gives a man power over fairies, spirits, gnomes, and genii. All magic proceeds upon the prime belief that you must possess something belonging to the person you wish to control, constrain, or injure. And, failing anything else, you must at least have a wax image of him, which you call by his name, and use as his substitute in your incantations.

On this primitive principle, possession of a thunderbolt gives you some sort of hold, as it were, over the thunder-god himself in person. If you keep a thunderbolt in your house it will never be struck by lightning. In Shetland, stone axes are religiously preserved in every cottage as a cheap and simple substitute for lightning-rods. In Cornwall the stone hatchets and arrowheads not only guard the house from thunder, but also act as magical barometers, changing color with the changes of the weather, as if in sympathy with the temper of the thunder-god. In Germany, the house where a thunderbolt is kept is safe from the storm; and the bolt itself begins to sweat on the approach of lightning-clouds. Nay, so potent is the protection afforded by a thunderbolt that where the lightning has once struck it never strikes again; the bolt already buried in the soil seems to preserve the surrounding place from the anger of the deity. Old and pagan in their nature as are these beliefs, they yet survive so thoroughly into Christian times that I have seen a stone hatchet built into the steeple of a church to protect it from lightning. Indeed, steeples have always of course attracted the electric discharge to a singular degree by their height and tapering form, especially before the introduction of lightning-rods; and it was a sore trial of faith to mediæval reasoners to understand why heaven should hurl its angry darts so often against the towers of its very own churches. In the Abruzzi the flint axe has actually been Christianised into St. Paul’s arrows—saetti de San Paolo. Families hand down the miraculous stone from father to son as a precious legacy; and mothers hang them on their children’s necks side by side with medals of saints and madonnas, which themselves are hardly so prized as the stones that fall from heaven.

Another and very different form of thunderbolt is the belemnite, a common English fossil often preserved in houses in the west country with the same superstitious reverence as the neolithic hatchets. The very form of the belemnite at once suggests the notion of a dart or lance-head, which has gained for it its scientific name. At the present day, when all our girls go to Girton and enter for the classical tripos, I need hardly translate the word belemnite “for the benefit of the ladies,” as people used to do in the dark and unemancipated eighteenth century; but as our boys have left off learning Greek just as their sisters are beginning to act the “Antigone” at private theatricals, I may perhaps be pardoned if I explain, “for the benefit of the gentlemen,” that the word is practically equivalent to javelin-fossil. The belemnites are the internal shells of a sort of cuttle-fish which swam about in enormous numbers in the seas whose sediment forms our modern lias, oolite, and gault. A great many different species are known and have acquired charming names in very doubtful Attic at the hands of profoundly learned geological investigators, but almost all are equally good representatives of the mythical thunderbolt. The finest specimens are long, thick, cylindrical, and gradually tapering, with a hole at one end as if on purpose to receive the shaft. Sometimes they have petrified into iron pyrites or copper compounds, shining like gold, and then they make very noble thunderbolts indeed, heavy as lead, and capable of doing profound [Pg 64] mischief if properly directed. At other times they have crystallised in transparent spar, and then they form very beautiful objects, as smooth and polished as the best lapidary could possibly make them. Belemnites are generally found in immense numbers together, especially in the marlstone quarries of the Midlands, and in the lias cliffs of Dorsetshire. Yet the quarrymen who find them never seem to have their faith shaken in the least by the enormous quantities of thunderbolts that would appear to have struck a single spot with such extraordinary frequency. This little fact also tells rather hardly against the theory that the lightning never falls twice upon the same place.

Only the largest and heaviest belemnites are known as thunder stones; the smaller ones are more commonly described as agate pencils. In Shakespeare’s country their connection with thunder is well known, so that in all probability a belemnite is the original of the beautiful lines in “Cymbeline”—

Fear no more the lightning flash, Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone,

where the distinction between the lightning and the thunderbolt is particularly well indicated. In every part of Europe belemnites and stone hatchets are alike regarded as thunderbolts; so that we have the curious result that people confuse under a single name a natural fossil of immense antiquity and a human product of comparatively recent but still prehistoric date. Indeed, I have had two thunderbolts shown me at once, one of which was a large belemnite and the other a modern Indian tomahawk. Curiously enough, English sailors still call the nearest surviving relatives of the belemnites, the squids or calamaries of the Atlantic, by the appropriate name of sea-arrows.

Many other natural or artificial objects have added their tittle to the belief in thunderbolts. In the Himalayas, for example, where awful thunderstorms are always occurring as common objects of the country, the torrents which follow them tear out of the loose soil fossil bones and tusks and teeth, which are universally looked upon as lightning-stones. The nodules of pyrites, often picked up on beaches, with their false appearance of having been melted by intense heat, pass muster easily with children and sailor folk for the genuine thunderbolts. But the grand upholder of the belief, the one true undeniable reality which has kept alive the thunderbolt even in a wicked and sceptical age, is beyond all question the occasional falling of meteoric stones. Your meteor is an incontrovertible fact; there is no getting over him; in the British Museum itself you will find him duly classified and labelled and catalogued. Here, surely, we have the ultimate substratum of the thunderbolt myth. To be sure, meteors have no kind of natural connection with thunderstorms; they may fall anywhere and at any time; but to object thus is to be hypercritical. A stone that falls from heaven, no matter how or when, is quite good enough to be considered as a thunderbolt.

Meteors, indeed, might very easily be confounded with lightning, especially by people who already have the full-blown conception of a thunderbolt floating about vaguely in their brains. The meteor leaps upon the earth suddenly with a rushing noise; it is usually red-hot when it falls, by friction against the air; it is mostly composed of native iron and other heavy metallic bodies; and it does its best to bury itself in the ground in the most orthodox and respectable manner. The man who sees this parlous monster come whizzing through the clouds from planetary space, making a fiery track like a great dragon as it moves rapidly across the sky, and finally ploughing its way into the earth in his own back garden, may well be excused for regarding it as a fine specimen of the true antique thunderbolt. The same virtues which belong to the buried stone are in some other places claimed for meteoric iron, small pieces of which are worn as charms, specially useful in protecting the wearer against thunder, lightning, and evil incantations. In many cases miraculous images have been hewn out of the stones that have fallen from heaven; and in others the meteorite itself is carefully preserved or worshipped as the actual representative of god or goddess, saint or madonna. The image that fell down from Jupiter may itself have been a mass of meteoric iron. [Pg 65]

Both meteorites and stone hatchets, as well as all other forms of thunderbolt, are in excellent repute as amulets, not only against lightning, but against the evil eye generally. In Italy they protect the owner from thunder, epidemics, and cattle disease, the last two of which are well known to be caused by witchcraft; while Prospero in the “Tempest” is a surviving proof how thunderstorms, too, can be magically produced. The tongues of sheep-bells ought to be made of meteoric iron or of elf-bolts, in order to insure the animals against foot-and-mouth disease or death by storm. Built into walls or placed on the threshold of stables, thunderbolts are capital preventives of fire or other damage, though not perhaps in this respect quite equal to a rusty horseshoe from a prehistoric battle-field. Thrown into a well they purify the water; and boiled in the drink of diseased sheep they render a cure positively certain. In Cornwall thunderbolts are a sovereign remedy for rheumatism; and in the popular pharmacopœia of Ireland they have been employed with success for ophthalmia, pleurisy, and many other painful diseases. If finely powdered and swallowed piecemeal, they render the person who swallows them invulnerable for the rest of his lifetime. But they cannot conscientiously be recommended for dyspepsia and other forms of indigestion.

As if on purpose to confuse our already very vague ideas about thunderbolts, there is one special kind of lightning which really seems intentionally to simulate a meteorite, and that is the kind known as fireballs or (more scientifically) globular lightning. A fireball generally appears as a sphere of light, sometimes only as big as a Dutch cheese, sometimes as large as three feet in diameter. It moves along very slowly and demurely through the air, remaining visible for a whole minute or two together; and in the end it generally bursts up with great violence, as if it were a London railway station being experimented upon by Irish patriots. At Milan one day a fireball of this description walked down one of the streets so slowly that a small crowd walked after it admiringly, to see where it was going. It made straight for a church steeple, after the common but sacrilegious fashion of all lightning, struck the gilded cross on the topmost pinnacle, and then immediately vanished, like a Virgilian apparition, into thin air.

A few years ago, too, Dr. Tripe was watching a very severe thunderstorm, when he saw a fireball come quietly gliding up to him, apparently rising from the earth rather than falling towards it. Instead of running away, like a practical man, the intrepid doctor held his ground quietly and observed the fiery monster with scientific nonchalance. After continuing its course for some time in a peaceful and regular fashion, however, without attempting to assault him, it finally darted off at a tangent in another direction, and turned apparently into forked lightning. A fireball, noticed among the Glendowan Mountains in Donegal, behaved even more eccentrically, as might be expected from its Irish antecedents. It first skirted the earth in a leisurely way for several hundred yards like a cannon-ball; then it struck the ground, ricochetted, and once more bounded along for another short spell; after which it disappeared in the boggy soil, as if it were completely finished and done for. But in another moment it rose again, nothing daunted, with Celtic irrepressibility, several yards away, pursued its ghostly course across a running stream (which shows, at least, there could have been no witchcraft in it), and finally ran to earth for good in the opposite bank, leaving a round hole in the sloping peat at the spot where it buried itself. Where it first struck, it cut up the peat as if with a knife, and made a broad deep trench which remained afterwards as a witness of its eccentric conduct. If the person who observed it had been of a superstitious turn of mind, we should have had here one of the finest and most terrifying ghost stories on the entire record, which would have made an exceptionally splendid show in the Transactions of the Society for Psychical Research. Unfortunately, however, he was only a man of science, ungifted with the precious dower of poetical imagination; so he stupidly called it a remarkable fireball, measured the ground carefully like a common engineer, and sent an account of the phenomenon [Pg 66] to that far more prosaic periodical, the “Quarterly Journal of the Meteorological Society.” Another splendid apparition thrown away recklessly, forever!

There is a curious form of electrical discharge, somewhat similar to the fireball but on a smaller scale, which may be regarded as the exact opposite of the thunderbolt, inasmuch as it is always quite harmless. This is St. Elmo’s fire, a brush of lambent light, which plays around the masts of ships and the tops of trees, when clouds are low and tension great. It is, in fact, the equivalent in nature of the brush discharge from an electric machine. The Greeks and Romans looked upon this lambent display as a sign of the presence of Castor and Pollux, “fratres Helenæ, lucida sidera,” and held that its appearance was an omen of safety, as everybody who has read the “Lays of Ancient Rome” must surely remember. The modern name, St. Elmo’s fire, is itself a curiously twisted and perversely Christianized reminiscence of the great twin brethren; for St. Elmo it’s merely a corruption of Helena, made masculine and canonised by the grateful sailors. It was as Helen’s brothers that they best knew the Dioscuri in the good old days of the upper empire; and when the new religion forbade them any longer to worship those vain heathen deities, they managed to hand over the flames at the masthead to an imaginary St. Elmo, whose protection stood them in just as good stead as that of the original alternate immortals.

Finally, the effects of lightning itself are sometimes such as to produce upon the mind of an impartial but unscientific beholder the firm idea that a bodily thunderbolt must necessarily have descended from heaven. In sand or rock, where lightning has struck, it often forms long hollow tubes, known to the calmly discriminating geological intelligence as fulgurites, and looking for all the world like gigantic drills such as quarrymen make for putting in a blast. They are produced, of course, by the melting of the rock under the terrific heat of the electric spark; and they grow narrower and narrower as they descend till they finally disappear. But to a casual observer, they irresistibly suggest the notion that a material weapon has struck the ground, and buried itself at the bottom of the hole. The summit of Little Ararat, that weather-beaten and many-fabled peak (where an enterprising journalist not long ago discovered the remains of Noah’s Ark), has been riddled through and through by frequent lightnings, till the rock is now a mere honeycombed mass of drills and tubes, like an old target at the end of a long day’s constant rifle practice. Pieces of the red trachyte from the summit, a foot long, have been brought to Europe, perforated all over with these natural bullet marks, each of them lined with black glass, due to the fusion of the rock by the passage of the spark. Specimens of such thunder-drilled rock may be seen in most geological museums. On some which Humboldt collected from a peak in Mexico, the fused slag from the wall of the tube has overflowed on to the surrounding surface, thus conclusively proving (if proof were necessary) that the holes are due to melting heat alone, and not to the passage of any solid thunderbolt.

But it was the introduction and general employment of lightning-rods that dealt a final deathblow to the thunderbolt theory. A lightning-conductor consists essentially of a long piece of metal, pointed at the end, whose business it is, not so much (as most people imagine) to carry off the flash of lightning harmlessly, should it happen to strike the house to which the conductor is attached, but rather to prevent the occurrence of a flash at all, by gradually and gently drawing off the electricity as fast as it gathers, before it has had time to collect in sufficient force for a destructive discharge. It resembles in effect an overflow pipe, which drains off the surplus water of a pond as soon as it runs in, in such a manner as to prevent the possibility of an inundation, which might occur if the water were allowed to collect in force behind a dam or embankment. It is a floodgate, not a moat: it carries away the electricity of the air quietly to the ground, without allowing it to gather in sufficient amount to produce a flash of lightning. It might thus be better called a lightning-preventor than a lightning-conductor: it conducts electricity, but it prevents lightning. At first, all lightning-rods [Pg 67] used to be made with knobs on the top, and then the electricity used to collect at the surface until the electric force was sufficient to cause a spark. In those happy days, you had the pleasure of seeing that the lightning was actually being drawn off from your neighborhood piecemeal. Knobs, it was held, must be the best things, because you could incontestably see the sparks striking them with your own eyes. But as time went on, electricians discovered that if you fixed a fine metal point to the conductor of an electric machine it was impossible to get up any appreciable charge, because the electricity kept always leaking out by means of the point. Then it was seen that if you made your lightning-rods pointed at the end, you would be able in the same way to dissipate your electricity before it ever had time to come to a head in the shape of lightning. From that moment the thunderbolt was safely dead and buried. It was urged, indeed, that the attempt thus to rob Heaven of its thunders was wicked and impious: but the common-sense of mankind refused to believe that absolute omnipotence could be sensibly defied by twenty yards of cylindrical iron tubing. Thenceforth the thunderbolt ceased to exist, save in poetry, country houses, and the most rural circles; even the electric fluid was generally relegated to the provincial press, where it still keeps company harmoniously with caloric, the devouring element, nature’s abhorrence of a vacuum, and many other like philosophical fossils: while lightning itself, shorn of its former glories, could no longer wage impious war against cathedral towers, but was compelled to restrict itself to blasting a solitary rider now and again in the open fields, or drilling more holes in the already crumbling summit of Mount Ararat. Yet it will be a thousand years more, in all probability, before the last thunderbolt ceases to be shown as a curiosity here and there to marvelling visitors, and takes its proper place in some village museum as a belemnite, a meteoric stone, or a polished axe head of our neolithic ancestors. Even then, no doubt, the original bolt will still survive as a recognised property in the stock-in-trade of every well-equipped poet.-Cornhill Magazine.



“Romeo and Juliet” affords a good illustration of the fallacy which lies at the root of the Shakespearologists’ panegyrics of the poet’s “local color.” We are told that every touch and tint is correctly and vividly Italian. Schlegel, Coleridge, and Philarète Chasles have sought to concentrate in impassioned word-pictures the coloring at once of “Romeo and Juliet” and of Italy. What Shakespeare designed to paint, in vivid but perfectly general hues, was an ideal land of love, a land of moonlight and nightingales, a land to which he had certainly travelled, perhaps before leaving the banks of the Avon. It happens that Italy, of all countries in the material world, most closely resembles this fairyland of the youthful fantasy. If we must place it on the earth at all, we place it there. Therefore did Shakespeare willingly accept the Italian names for scene and characters provided in his original; and, therefore, our scenic artists very properly draw their inspiration from Italian orange groves and Italian palaces. But it is a fundamental error to regard Romeo and Juliet as specifically Italians, or their country as Italy and nothing but Italy. Their pure-humanity is of no race, their Italy has no latitude or longitude. Shakespeare could not if he would, and would not if he could, have given it the minutely accurate local color of which we hear so much.

Could not if he would, for even the most devout believers in his visit to Italy place it after the date of “Romeo and Juliet” and before that of “The Merchant of Venice.” Now, to maintain that the poet evolved Italian local color out of his inner consciousness is merely a piece of [Pg 68] the supernaturalism which infects Shakespearology. Schiller, by diligent study and conversations with Goethe, grasped the cruder local colors of Switzerland, but Shakespeare had no means or opportunity for such study, and no Goethe to aid him. By lifelong love two modern Englishmen have attempted to construct an Italy in their imagination; Rossetti quite successfully, Mr. Shorthouse more or less so. Shakespeare had neither the motives nor the means for attempting any such feat.

But further, had Shakespeare known Italy as well as Mr. Browning, he would still have refrained from loading “Romeo and Juliet” with local color. His audience did not want it, could not understand it, would have been bewildered by it. The very youth of Juliet (“she is not fourteen”) proves, it is said, that the poet thought of her as an early-developed Italian girl. Now, the physiological observation here implied is in itself questionable, and, had it conflicted with their pre-conceptions as to the due period of first love in girls, would have been incomprehensible, if not repellent, to an Elizabethan audience. We, though taught to regard it as “local color,” are, by our social conventions, so accustomed to place the marriageable age later, that in our imagination we always add three or four years to Juliet’s fourteen; and on the stage the addition is generally made in so many words. But the social conventions of Shakespeare’s time tended in precisely the opposite direction. Anne, daughter of Sir Peter Warburton, was only twelve when, in 1539, she was married to Sir Edward Fitton. In Porter’s “Angrie Women of Abington,” published in 1599, some five years after the probable date of “Romeo and Juliet,” it is explicitly stated that fifteen was the ordinary age at which girls married. That was the age of Lady Jane Grey at her marriage: the wife of Sir Simon d’Ewes was even younger; and a little research could easily supply a hundred other cases. In Johnson’s “Crowne Garland of Goulden Roses” (1612) a girl who is single at twenty expresses her despair of ever being married. Thus we find that this renowned proof of Juliet’s Italian nature resolves itself into a familiar trait of English social habit in the sixteenth century. Had it been otherwise, it would have been a fault and not a merit in a play which addressed itself, not to an ethnological society, but to a popular audience.

A touch which may possibly have conveyed to Shakespeare’s audience a peculiarly Italian impression, is Lady Capulet’s suggestion that Romeo should be poisoned. In the sixteenth century poisoning was commonly known in England as “the Italian crime,” and was probably connected with Italy in the popular mind as are macaroni and organ-grinders at the present day. But poison is part of the stock-in-trade of the tragic dramatist, and plays a prominent part in the two most distinctly northern of the poet’s works, “Hamlet” and “Lear,” Again, the Apothecary’s speech,—

Such mortal drugs I have; but Mantua’s law Is death to any he that utters them,

is held up as a peculiarly Italian touch, no such law appearing in the English statute-book of the time. The fact is that Shakespeare found the idea in Brooke’s “Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet,” and used it simply to heighten the terror of the situation.

The insult of “biting the thumb” is said, rather doubtfully, to be characteristically Italian; but what can be more English than the cry for “clubs, bills, and partisans” which immediately follows it? Lord Campbell, indeed, seeks to prove Shakespeare’s minute knowledge of English law by the frequent and accurate references to it in this opening scene. The “grove of sycamore” under which Romeo is described as wandering, is said to be of unmistakably Italian growth; why, then, does Schlegel, though one of the originators of the local-color theory, seek to make it still more Italian by translating it “Kastanienhain”? Had Shakespeare possessed either the will or the ability to transport his hearers into specifically Italian scenes, would he have confined himself to mentioning one tree, which is neither peculiar to Italy nor a particularly prominent feature in Italian landscapes? Where are the oranges and olives, the poplar, the cypress, and the laurel? Where are [Pg 69] the rushing Adige and the gleaming Alps? Where is the allusion to the Amphitheatre, which could scarcely have been wanting had the poet known or cared anything about Verona except as the capital of his mythic love-land? It might as well be argued that he intended the local color to be peculiarly English because he makes Capulet call Paris an “Earl.”

The truth is that when the reader’s imagination is heated to a certain point, the colors which subtle associations have implanted in it flush out of their own accord, with no stronger stimulus from the poet than is involved in the mere mention of a name. There is a strict analogy in the Elizabethan theatre. Given poetry and acting which powerfully excited the feelings, and the placard bearing the name of “Agincourt” made all the glaring incongruities vanish, and conjured up in the mind of each hearer such a picture of the tented field as his individual imagination had room for. So it is with the Italy of “Romeo and Juliet.” Our fancy being quickened by the mere glow of the poetry, the very name “Verona” places before us a vivid picture composed of all sorts of reminiscences of art, literature, and travel. The pulsing life of the two lovers—types of pure-humanity as general as ever poet fashioned—easily puts on a southern physiognomy with their Italian names. The might of a name has power to cloak even openly incongruous details. It is only on reflection, for instance, that we recognize in Mercutio a most un-Italian and distinctly Teutonic figure, an “angelsächsisch-treuherzig” humorist, as Kreyssig truly says, who is even made to ridicule Italian manners and phrases with the true Englishman’s provincial intolerance. Thus all of us, in reading “Romeo and Juliet,” are haunted by visions of Italy, whose origin the commentators strive to find in individual touches of local color and costume, instead of in the powerful stimulus given to all sorts of latent associations by the whole force of the poet’s genius. Even apart from travel, pictures and descriptions which do actually aim at local color have made us far more familiar with Italy than any Elizabethan audience can possibly have been. It is scarcely paradoxical to maintain that the least imaginative among us gives to the love-land of “Romeo and Juliet” far more accurately Italian hues than it wore in the imagination of Shakespeare himself. In the same way I, for my part, never read Marlowe’s “Jew of Malta” without forming a vivid picture of the narrow, sultry stairways of Valetta (which I have never seen), conjured up, not certainly by any individual touches of description in the text, but by the mere imaginative vigor of the whole presentation. Conversely, too, a work of small vitality, a second-rate French tragedy for instance, may be full of accurate local and historical allusion, and may yet transport us no whither beyond the cheerless steppes of frigid alexandrines. There is an art, and a high art, to which definite local color is essential, but Shakespeare’s is of another order. If we want a masterpiece of strictly Italian coloring we must go, not to “Romeo and Juliet,” but to Alfred de Musset’s “Lorenzaccio.”

Shakespeare, in short, presents us with so much, or so little, of the Italian manners depicted in Brooke and Paynter as would be readily comprehensible to his audience. The fact, too, that the whole love-poetry of the period was influenced by Cisalpine models gave to the forms of expression in certain portions of his work a slightly Italian turn. For the rest, he imbued the great erotic myth with the warmest human life, and left it to create an atmosphere and scenery of its own in the imagination of the beholder. No atmosphere or scenery can be more appropriate than those of an Italian summer, and therefore it is right that our scenic artists should strain their resources to reproduce its warm luxuriance of color. “For now these hot days is the mad blood stirring,” says Benvolio, and if we choose to call this hot air a scirocco, why not? But Shakespeare knew nothing of scirocco or tramontana; he knew that warmth is the life-element of passion, and made summer in the air harmonise with summer in the blood. That is the whole secret of his “local color.”—Gentleman’s Magazine. [Pg 70]


In the year 1856 Lord Ellesmere, then President of the Shakspeare Society, received one day a little pamphlet bearing the at that time astounding title, “Was Lord Bacon the author of Shakspeare’s Plays?” The writer’s name was Smith. Mr. William Henry Smith, of 76 Harley Street, writer on Shakspeare, is the style he goes by in the Catalogue of the British Museum, to distinguish him from others of the name, whose works fill no less than eight volumes of that Catalogue, and have a special index all to themselves, thereby nobly confirming the truth of our Mr. Smith’s answer to some irreverent critics who had jested on his patronym, that it was “a name which some wise and many worthy men have borne—which though not unique, is perfectly genteel.” What Lord Ellesmere, either in his presidential or merely human capacity, thought of the pamphlet, we do not know; but Lord Palmerston (who had passed the threescore years then) is said to have declared himself convinced by it, though he is also said to have added that he cared not a jot who the author of the plays might have been provided he was an Englishman. By some of the critics poor Mr. Smith was very roughly handled, and what seems to have galled him most was an insinuation by Nathaniel Hawthorne (then at Liverpool as American Consul) that he had merely taken for his own the ideas of Miss Delia Bacon, whose book was not published till the year after Mr. Smith’s pamphlet, but of whose speculation some rumors had before that come “across the Atlantic wave.” This Mr. Smith (in his next publication, Bacon and Shakspeare; an Inquiry touching Players, Playhouses, and Play-writers in the Days of Elizabeth, 1857) most emphatically denied. He had never heard the name of Miss Bacon till he saw it in a review of his pamphlet: he could not for a long while find what or where she had written, and when he did so the alleged insinuation seemed to him too preposterous to be worth notice. Out of courtesy to Mr. Hawthorne, however, he made his denial public; Mr. Hawthorne returned the courtesy of acceptance, and so this part of the great Baconian controversy slept in peace. In 1866 appeared in New York, a book called The Authorship of Shakspeare, the work of a Mr. Nathaniel Holmes, which so enchanted Mr. Smith that he vowed “Providence had provided exactly the champion the cause required,” and that for him it remained only “to retire to the rear of this unexpected American contingent,” and to “make himself useful in the commissariat department.” This American book had, among its other striking merits, this unique one—of being such that no man could possibly quarrel with it. “If argument,” says Mr, Smith, “is ever to outweigh preconception and prejudice, the preponderance can only be in one direction”—perhaps the only judgment ever formulated by mortal man which it would be literally impossible to traverse. In this rearward position Mr. Smith modestly abode for eighteen years; but now—“now that the triumph seems so near at hand, we cannot resist coming to the front to congratulate those that have fought the battle upon their success, and, we candidly own, to show ourselves as a veteran who has survived the campaign, and is ready to give an honest account of the stores which still remain on his hands.” This congratulation and these stores may be read and seen in another little pamphlet just published by Mr. Smith, and to be bought at Mr. Skeffington’s shop in Piccadilly.

It is in no spirit of cavil or disparagement that we overhaul those stores, but solely out of curiosity. We have read Mr. Smith’s last pamphlet, and read again his two earlier ones, with the most lively interest and amusement. Indeed, we have never for our part, been able to see the necessity for that “lyric fury” into which some of Mr. Smith’s opponents have lashed themselves. His theory has amused thousands of readers—readers of Bacon (both Francis and Delia), of Shakspeare, and of Mr. Smith; it has harmed nobody; it has added fresh lustre to the memories of two great men. Surely, then, we should do ill to be angry, and to be angry with one so courteous and good-humored as Mr. Smith would be a twofold impossibility. Moreover, we have always felt that there was a great deal to be said for the theory that Francis Bacon wrote the plays printed under the name of William Shakspeare, just as there is a great deal to be said for the converse of the theory, or for any other speculation with which the restless mind of man chooses for the moment to concern itself. After a certain lapse of years there can be no proof positive, no mathematical proof, that any man did or did not write anything. The mere fact of a work having gone for any length of time under such or such a name proves nothing; that the manuscript is confessedly in a particular man’s handwriting, or the undisputed receipt of a manuscript from a particular man, really, when one comes to consider it, proves nothing, so far as authorship is concerned. Take the excellent ballad of “Kafoozleum,” for instance. That, like Shakspeare’s plays, was known and popular before it was printed; like those, it was printed anonymously; no manuscript of it is known to exist; the authorship is unknown. A hundred years hence who will be able to prove it was not written by Lord Tennyson, let us say? One line in it runs “A sound there falls from ruined walls.” Why should not some speculative Smith a hundred years hence point to this line as proof conclusive that it must be the work of him who wrote, “The splendor falls on castle walls”? The parallel would be at least incomparably closer than any of those as yet found in the undisputed writings of Bacon and the alleged writings of Shakspeare. Let this be, however; we are not now concerned with any attempt to destroy Mr. Smith’s theory, for which, we repeat, we still feel, as we have always felt, there is very much to be said—very much to be said, of course, on both sides; the puzzle is how very little Mr. Smith, and those about him, have found to say on their side.

And, in truth, little as Mr. Smith had found to say in 1856-57 he has found still less to add now in 1884. His “stores” are still very scanty. He has, indeed, satisfied himself (he had “an intuitive idea” of it in 1856) that Shakspeare could neither read nor write, beyond [Pg 71] scrawling most illegibly his own name (the reading he passes by), and curiously enough on the evidence, or rather hypothesis, of another Smith one William James! But, of course, as no scrap of Shakspeare’s handwriting is known to exist beyond six signatures, all tolerably like each other, this hypothesis cannot stand for very much. Yet really this is the only fresh “fact” Mr. Smith has added to his stores in all these seven-and-twenty years. He recapitulates his old “facts” and, we must add, some of his old blunders, when he says “there is no record of his having been in any way connected with literature until the year 1600,” forgetful of the mention of Shakspeare’s name as author of The Rape of Lucrece in the prelude to Willobie’s Avisa (1594), the marginal reference to the same work in Clarke’s Polimanteia (1595), and the long catalogue of the works then attributed to Shakspeare, as well as the very high praise given to him and them in Meres’s Palladis Tamia, 1598. The allusions in Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit and Chettle’s Kind-Harts Dreame we put by as hypotheses merely; but how curious it is to find the champions of this theory so strangely ignorant, or careless of facts familiar, we will not say to every student of Shakspeare’s writings, because the word student in connexion with those works has come to have a rather distasteful sound in these Alexandrian days, but to every one who has ever had any curiosity about the man to whom these marvellous works are commonly attributed. Nor is this knowledge within the reach only of those who have money, leisure, or learning. Any one who is able to procure a ticket of admission to the Reading-Room of the British Museum may get it at first hand for himself; numberless books exist any one of which at the cost of a few shillings will furnish him with it at second-hand. We remember to have been much struck last year, when turning over the leaves of Mrs. Pott’s edition of the Promus, with many proofs of the same ignorance of what one may call the very alphabet of the subject. Coleridge, as we all know now blundered much in the same way in his lectures on Shakspeare; but our knowledge both of the poet and his times has very greatly [Pg 72] increased since Coleridge lectured. Mr. Smith and Mrs. Pott cannot now soothe themselves with the thought that it is better to err with Coleridge than to shine with Mr. Halliwell-Phillips or Mr. Furnivall; they have only themselves to blame if the world declines to take seriously a theory which its champions have been at so little serious pains to examine and support.

The well-known passage in the Sonnets (Bacon’s or Shakspeare’s)

And almost thence my nature is subdued To what it works in, like the dyer’s hand,

receives curious confirmation from Mr. Smith’s writings. He has studied Bacon’s works so closely and long that he has insensibly infected himself with some of that great man’s peculiarities. It is the vice, says Bacon, in the Novum Organum, of high and discursive intellects to attach too much importance to slight resemblances, a vice which leads men to catch at shadows instead of substances. Mr. Smith quotes this saying; yet how must this vice have got possession of his intellect when he drew up that list of “Parallel passages, and peculiar phrases, from Bacon and Shakspeare,” which may be read in his Bacon and Shakspeare! Take one instance only:—In the Life of Henry VII. occurs this passage: “As his victory gave him the knee, so his purposed marriage with the Lady Elizabeth gave him the heart, so that both knee and heart did truly bow before him”; in Richard II. is this line, “Show heaven the humbled heart and not the knee”; and in Hamlet this, “And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee.” Is it possible that Mr. Smith would seriously have us draw any inference from the fact that in these three passages the word “knee” occurs and in two of them the word “heart”? Really, he might as well insist that, because Mr. Swinburne has written “Cry aloud; for the old world is broken” and because Mr. Arnold has declared himself to be “Wandering between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born,” the author of Dolores and the author of the Stanzas from the Grand Chartreuse must be one and the same man! Again, Macaulay has noticed how, contrary to general custom, the later writings of Bacon are far superior to the earlier ones in richness of illustration. It is the same with Mr. Smith. His first pamphlet, though direct and lucid enough, was singularly free from all illustration or ornament of any kind. His next contains passages of wonderful richness and imagination. Bacon, he says, is like an orange-tree, “where we may observe the bud, the blossom, and the fruit in every stage of ripeness, all exhibited in one plant at the same time.” And he goes on in a strain of splendid eloquence:—“The stentorian orator in the City Forum, who, restoring his voice with the luscious fruit, continues his harangue to the applauding multitude, little reflects, that the delicate blossom which grew by its side, and was gathered at the same time, decorates the fair brow of the fainting bride in the far-off village church.” Never surely before has the familiar fruit of domestic life been so poetized since “Bon Gaultier” wrote of the subjects of the Moorish tyrant how they would fain have sympathized with his Christian prisoner:—

But they feared the grizzly despot and his myrmidons in steel, So their sympathy descended in the fruitage of Seville.

We cannot conclude without offering to Mr. Smith, in all humility, a little theory of our own, vague as yet and unsubstantial, but worth, we do venture to think, his consideration or the consideration of anybody who is in want of a theory to sport with. This is, that these plays, or at any rate a considerable number of them, were really and truly written by Walter Raleigh. We have not as yet had time to examine this theory very closely, or (like Mr. Smith with his) to find very much evidence in support of it. But of what we have done in that direction we freely make him a present. The following plays were all produced after the year 1603, the year when Raleigh was sent to the Tower for his alleged share in the Cobham plot:—Othello, Measure for Measure, Lear, Pericles, Antony and Cleopatra, Macbeth, Cymbeline, Winter’s Tale, Tempest, Henry VIII., Taming of the Shrew. It has been allowed on Mr. Smith’s side that Bacon, amid all his variety of business, both public and private, must have been very hard put to it to find the mere time to write the plays. No man of that age could have had at that time [Pg 73] so much leisure on his hands as Raleigh. But that is not all. In the ninth chapter of his Instructions to his Son, on the inconveniences arising from the immoderate use of wine, is a passage which might almost be described as a paraphrase of Cassio’s famous discourse on the same subject. Nor is this all. Raleigh had been in the Tower before, in 1592, on a rather delicate matter, in which Mistress Throckmorton, afterward Lady Raleigh, had a share. The injustice of his second imprisonment would naturally recall the first to his mind, equally or still more unjust as he probably thought. To the second he would hardly dare to allude; but what was more likely than that he should find a sort of melancholy pleasure in recalling the first? Now, if Mr. Smith will turn to the second scene of the first act of Measure for Measure (first acted in December 1604, and written therefore in the first year of Raleigh’s imprisonment), he will find an allusion to the unfortunate cause of his first disgrace obvious to the dullest comprehension. The apparently no less obvious allusion in Twelfth Night to Cole’s brutality at Raleigh’s trial cannot, unfortunately, stand, as we know for certain from John Manningham’s Diary that the comedy was played in the Middle Temple Hall in the previous year. But from such evidence as we have given (and, did time and space serve we could add to it) we think a very good case could be made out for Raleigh, and we commend the making of it to Mr. Smith, who seems to have plenty of time to spare on such matters. At any rate if he will not have Shakspeare for the author of these plays, he must really now begin to think of getting some other Simon Pure than Bacon, if within a quarter of a century and more he has been able to find no better warranty for his theory than that he has given us. But we must entreat him to be a little more careful of poor Raleigh, if he discard our suggestion, than he has been of poor Shakspeare, the only evidence of whose existence he has declared to be the date of his death! But perhaps he is only following Plutarch, whom Bacon praises for saying “Surely I had rather a great deal men should say there was no such man at all as Plutarch, than that they should say there was one Plutarch that would eat his children as soon as they were born.”—Saturday Review.



Naturally the most important events of human life are birth, marriage, death. Hence we find among all peoples who have emerged from primitive barbarism, ceremonies and customs special to these three supreme circumstances. These ceremonies and customs are of most picturesque observance and most quaint significance in the middle term of civilization;—amongst those who are neither savages not yet blocked out into fair form, nor educated gentlefolk smoothed down to the dead level of European civilization; but who are still in that quasi-mythical and fetichistic state, when usages have a superstitious meaning beyond their social importance, and charms, signs, omens, and incantations abound as the ornamental flourishes to the endorsement of the law.

We will take for our book of reference no certain Sicilian customs,[41] one of Dr. Pitrè’s exhaustive cycle. We could not have a better guide. Dr. Pitrè has devoted twenty good years of his life, health, and fortune to collecting and preserving the records of all the popular superstitions, habits, legends and customs of Sicily. Some of these are already things of the past; others are swiftly vanishing; others again are in full vigor. Dr. Pitrè’s work is valuable enough now; in a short time it will be priceless to students and ethnologists who care to trace likenesses and track to sources, and who are not content with the mere surface of things without delving down to causes and meanings.

[Pg 74]

All women, the world over, who expect to become mothers, are curious as to the sex of the unborn child; and every old wife has a bundle of unfailing signs and omens which determine the question out of hand without leaving room for doubt. In Sicily these signs are as follows—among others of dubious modesty, which it is as well to leave in obscurity. If you suddenly ask an expectant mother: “What is the matter with your hand?” and she holds up or turns out the palm of her right hand, her child will be a boy. If she holds up her left hand or turns out the back of her right, it will be a girl. If she strews salt before the threshold, the sex of the first person who enters in at the door determines that of the unborn—a man for a boy, a woman for a girl. If she goes to draw water from the well, and throws a few drops over her shoulder without looking back, the sex of the first person who passes, after the performance of this “sortilegio,” in like manner determines the sex of the child. After the first child, the line in which the hair grows at the nape of the neck of the preceding is an unfailing sign of that which is coming after. If it grows in a peak it presages a boy, if straight a girl. This is also one of the infallible signs in India. If the woman sees an ugly or a deformed creature, and does not say in an audible voice: “Diu ca lu fici”—God has made it—she will produce a monster. If she repeats the charm, devoutly as she ought, she has saved her child from deformity.

The patron saint of expectant mothers in Sicily is S. Francisco di Paola. To secure his intervention in their behalf they go to church every Friday to pray specially to him. The first time they go they are blessed by putting on the cord or girdle proper to this saint; by receiving, before their own offering, two blessed beans, a few blessed wafers, and a small wax taper, also blessed, round which is twisted a slip of paper whereon is printed—“Ora pro nobis Sancte Pater Francisce di Paola.” The cord is worn during the time of pregnancy; the candle is lighted during the pains of childbirth, when heavenly interposition is necessary; and the beans and wafers are eaten as an act of devotion which results in all manner of good to both mother and child.

In country places pregnant women who believe in the knowledge of the midwife rather than in the science of the doctor, are still bled at stated times, generally on the “even” months. Dr. Pitrè knew personally one woman who had been bled the incredible number of two hundred and thirteen times during her pregnancy. She had moreover heart disease; and she offered herself as a wet-nurse.

The quarter in which the moon chances to be at the time of birth has great influence on the future character and career of the new-born. So have special days and months. All children born in March, which is the “mad” month of Italy (“Marzo è pazzo”), are predisposed to insanity. Woe to the female child who has the ill-luck to be born on a cloudy, stormy, rainy day! She must infallibly become an ugly woman. Woe to the boy who is born with the new moon! He will become a “loup garou,” and he will be recognized by his inordinately long nails. But well is it for the child who first sees the light of day on a Friday—unlike ourselves, with whom “Friday’s child is sour and sad”—or who is born on St. Paul’s night. He will be bright, strong, bold and cheerful. He will be able to handle venomous snakes with impunity for his own part, and to cure by licking those who have been bitten. He will be able to control lunatics and to discover things secret and hidden; and he will be a chatterbox.

More things go to make a successful or unsuccessful “time” in Sicily than we recognize in England. A woman in her hour of trial is held and hindered as much as was ever poor Alcmena, when Lucina sat crosslegged before her gate, if a woman “in disgrazia di Dio”—that is, leading an immoral life—either in secret or openly, enters the room. The best counter-agent then is to invoke very loudly Santa Leocarda, the Dea Partula of Catholicism. If she be not sufficiently powerful, and things are still delayed, then all the other saints, the Madonna, and finally God himself, are appealed to with profound faith in a speedy release. In one place the church bells are rung; on which all the women within earshot repeat an Ave. In another, the silver chain of La Madonna della [Pg 75] Catena is the surest obstetrician; and science and the doctor have no power over the mind of the suffering woman where this has all. To this day is believed the story of a poor mother who, when her pain had begun, hurried off to the church to pray to the Madonna della Catena for aid. When she returned home, the Holy Virgin herself assisted her, and not only brought her child into the world, but also gave her bread, clothes and jewels.

If the child be born weak or dying, and the need is therefore imminent, the midwife baptizes it. For which reason she must never be one who is deaf and dumb—nor one who stutters or stammers. Before baptism no one must kiss a new-born infant, seeing that it is still a pagan; which thing would therefore be a sin. In Modica the new-born child is no longer under the protection of the Madonna, but under that of certain mysterious beings called “Le Padrone della Casa.” To ensure this protection the oldest of the women present lays on the table, or the clothes chest, nine black beans in the form of a wedge—repeating between her teeth a doggerel charm, which will prevent “Le Padrone della Casa” from harming the babe or its mother. Others, instead of black beans, put their trust in a reel or winder with two little bits of cane fastened to it crosswise, which they lay on the bed, and which also is certain to prevent all evil handling by these viewless forms. At Marsala, the night after that following the birth, the windows of the room where the infant lies are shut close, a pinch of salt is strewn behind the door, and the light is left burning, so that a certain malignant spirit called ’Nserra may not enter to hurt the new-born. In other places they hide in the woman’s bed—generally under the pillow—a key, or a small ball, or a clove of garlic, or the mother’s thimble, or scissors, all or any of which does the same good office of exorcism as the pinch of salt, and the light left burning. For the first drink, a whole partridge, beak and feet, is put into a pint of water, which is then boiled down to a cupful, and given to the woman as the best restorative art and science can devise. When she is allowed to eat solids she has a chicken, of which she is careful to give the neck to her husband. Were she herself to eat it, her child’s neck would be undeniably weak.

When taken to the church to be baptized, the infant, if a boy, is carried on the right arm—if a girl, on the left. In the church the father proper effaces himself as of no account in the proceedings; and the godfather carries off all the honors. The more pompous ceremonial at baptism occurs only at the birth of the first son. The Sicilian proverb has it: “The first son is born a baron.”

Immediately after the baptism Sicilian Albanians dance a special dance; and when they go home they throw out roasted peas to the people. Hence: “When shall we have the peas?” is used as a periphrasis for: “When does she expect her confinement?” The water in which the “chrism,” or christening cup is washed, is accounted holy, because of the sacred oil which it has touched. It is flung out on to a hedge, so that no foot of man may tread the soil which has received it. Also the water in which the child is first washed is treated as a thing apart. It is thrown on to the highway, if the babe be a boy; under the bed, or the oven, or in some other part of the house, if it be a girl;—the one signifying that a man must fare forth, the other that a woman must bide within.

When the child “grows two days in one,” and “smiles to the angels?” it is under the guardianship of certain other viewless, formless and mysterious creatures, who seem to be vagabonds and open-air doubles of the “Padrone della Casa.” These are “Le Donne di fuori.” The mother asks permission of these “Donne,” before she lifts the child from the cradle. “In the name of God,” she says, as she takes it up, “with your permission, my ladies.” These “Donne di fuori,” are not always to be relied on, for now they do, and now they do not, protect the little one. It is all a matter of caprice and humor; but certainly no mother who loved her child would omit this courteous entreaty to the, “Donne” who are supposed to have had the creature in their keeping while she was absent, and it was sleeping.

Not everyone in Sicily can marry according to his desire and the apparent fitness of things; for there are old feuds between parish and [Pg 76] parish, as bitter as were ever those of Guelf and Ghibelline in times past; and the devotees of one saint will have as little to say to the devotees of another as will Jew and Gentile, True Believer and Giaour. In early times this local rivalry was, naturally, more pronounced than it is at present; but even now in Modica it is extremely rare if a San Giorgioaro marries a Sampietrana, or vice versâ—each considering the other as of a different and heretical religion. A marriage made not long ago between two people of these several parishes turned out ill solely on the religious question, the husband and wife not agreeing to differ, but each wanting to convert the other from the false to the true faith, and indignant because of ill-success. Just lately, says Dr. Pitrè, a Syracusan girl, whose patron saint was Saint Philip, and who was betrothed to a young man of the confraternity of the Santo Spirito, sent all adrift because, a few days before the marriage was to take place, she went to see her lover, lying ill in bed, and found hanging to the pillow a picture of the objectionable Santo Spirito. Whereat, furious and enraged she snatched down the picture, tore it into a thousand pieces which she trampled under foot, and then and there made it a sine quâ non that her husband-elect should substitute for this a picture of Saint Philip. This the young man refused to do; and the marriage was broken off.

Here in Sicily, as elsewhere, the seafaring population have little or nothing to say to the landsfolk by way of marriage; holding themselves more moral, more industrious, and in every way superior to those who live by the harvests of the earth or by the quick returns and easy profits of trade. But there is much more than this. The daughter of a small landed proprietor will not be given to the master of men in any kind of business, nor will the son of the former be suffered to marry the daughter of the latter. A peasant farmer, without sixpence, would not let his girl marry a well-to-do shepherd. A workman or rather a day laborer—“bracciante”—would not be received into the family of a muleteer, nor he again into one where the head was the keeper of swine or of cattle. The husbandman who can prune vines disdains the man who cannot dig, let him be what he will; the cow-herd disdains the ox-herd, and he again the man who looks after the calves. The shepherd is above the goat-herd; and so on, down to the most microscopic differences, surpassing even those of caste-ridden India.

When conditions, however, are equal, and there are no overt objections to the desired marriage, the mother of the young man takes the thing in hand. She knows that her son wants to marry, because he is sullen, silent, rude, contradictious and fault-finding; because last Saturday night he hitched up the ass to the hook in the house wall, instead of stabling it as he ought, and himself passed the night out of doors; or because—in one place in Sicily—he sat on the chest, stamped his feet and kicked his heels, so that his parents, hearing the noise, might know that he was disturbed in his mind, and wanted to marry so soon as convenient. Then the mother knows what is before her, and accepts her duties as a good woman should.

She dresses herself a little smartly and goes to the house of the Nina or Rosa with whom her son has fallen in love, to see what the girl is like when at home, and to find out the amount of dower likely to be given with her. She hides under her shawl a weaver’s comb, which, as soon as she is seated, she brings out, asking the girl’s mother if she can lend her one like it? This latter answers that she will look for one, and will do all she can to meet her visitor’s wishes. She then sends the daughter into another room, and the two begin the serious business of means and dowry.

In olden times the girl who did not know how to weave the thread she had already spun had small chance of finding a husband, how great soever her charms or virtues. Power looms and cheap cloth have changed all this and substituted a more generalized kind of industriousness; but, all the same, she must be industrious—or have the wit to appear so—else the maternal envoy will have none of her; but leaving the house hurriedly, crosses herself and repeats thrice the Sicilian word for “Renounced.” In Modica the young man’s mother sets a broom against [Pg 77] the girl’s house-door at night which does the same as the weaver’s comb elsewhere; and, if all other things suit, the young people are betrothed the following Saturday. And after they are betrothed the girl’s mother goes to a church at some distance from her own home, where she stands behind the door, and, according to the words said by the first persons who pass through, foretells the happiness or the unhappiness of the marriage set on foot.

The inventory of the girl’s possessions—chiefly house and body-linen—is made by a public writer, and always begins with an invocation to “Gesù, Maria, Giuseppe”—the Holy Family. It is sent to the bridegroom-elect wrapped in a handkerchief. If considered satisfactory, it is kept; if insufficient, it is returned. If accepted as sufficient, there is a solemn conclave of the parents and kinsfolk of the two houses. The girl is seated in the middle of the room. Her future mother-in-law, or the nearest married kinswoman of the bridegroom if she be dead, takes down and then plaits and dresses her hair—all people who have been to Italy know what a universal office of maternal care is this of dressing the girl’s hair;—slips the engaged ring on her finger; puts a comb in her head; gives her a silk-handkerchief, and kisses her. After this the girl rises, kisses the hands of her future father-and mother-in-law, and seats herself afresh, between her own kinsfolk on her left, and those of her “promesso sposo,” on her right. In some places is added to these manifestations a bit of flame-colored ribbon (“color rosso-fuoco; colore obbligato”), which the future mother-in-law plaits into the girl’s tresses while combing her hair, and which this latter never puts off till the day of the wedding. Formerly a “promessa sposa” wore a broad linen band across her brow and down her face, tied under her chin with a purple ribbon.

On her side the girl’s mother gives the future son-in-law a scapulary of the Madonna del Carmine, fastened to a long blue ribbon. When the formal kiss of betrothal is given between the young people, the guests break out into “Evvivas!” and the wine and feasting begin. Formerly a “promessa sposa” shaved off one or both of her eyebrows. But this custom was inconvenient. If anything happened to prevent the marriage it spoilt all chances for the future.

Gifts from the man to the woman are de rigueur—a survival of the old mode of barter or purchase. These gifts are generally of jewelry; but sometimes the pair exchange useful presents of body-linen, &c. At Easter the man gives the woman either a luscious sweet called “cassata,” or a “peccorella di pasta reale,” that is a lamb couchant made of almond paste, crowned with a tinsel crown, carrying a flag, and colored after nature. At the Feast of St. Peter—the 29th of July; not the same as Saints Peter and Paul—he gives keys made of flour and honey, or of almonds, or of caramel. On the 2nd of November—the day off All Souls’—he takes her sweet brown cakes with a white mortuary figure raised in high relief, as a child, or a man, or a death’s head and cross bones, or a well-defined set of ribs to symbolize a skeleton, according to the nearest relative she may have lost. But in Mazarra no one who loved his bride would give her aught in the likeness of a cat, as this would presage her speedy death. Biscuits for St. Martin’s day; gingerbread in true lovers’ knots, tough and tasteless, and sugar bambini for Christmas; huge hearts, of a rather coarse imitation of mincemeat, and sugared over, for the Feast of the Annunciation; on the day of Saints Cosmo and Damian, medlars, quinces and the saints themselves done in honey and sugar—and so on;—these are the little courtesies of the betrothal which no man who respected himself, or desired the love of her who was to be his wife, would dream of neglecting.

During the time of betrothal, how long so ever it may last, the young people are never suffered to be one moment alone, nor to say anything to each other which all the world does not hear. The man may go once a week to the girl’s house; where he seats himself at the corner of the room opposite to that where she is sitting; but he may not touch her hand nor speak to her below his breath. In the country, when they cannot marry for yet awhile, they engage themselves from year to year. But they are always kept apart and rigorously watched. [Pg 78]

Formerly marriages were somewhat earlier than now. Now they are delayed until the young fellow has served his three years in the army. They used to be most general when he was twenty and she eighteen; and a proverb says that at eighteen a girl either marries or dies. The church did not sanction marriages earlier than these several ages, save in exceptional cases; and any one who assisted at the marriage of a girl below the age of eighteen, without the consent of her parents and guardians, was imprisoned for life and forfeited all he had. This law, however, was frequently broken in remote places, and especially about Palermo, where “the marriages of Monreale” have passed into a proverb. When a young girl, say of sixteen, marries and has a good childbirth, they say, “She has been to Monreale.”

May and August are unlucky months in which to be married. September and the following three months are the most propitious. The prejudice against May dates from old classic times; while June was considered as fit by the Romans as it is now by the Palermitans. Up to the end of the sixteenth century the day of days was St. John the Baptist’s. Two days in the week are unlucky for marriage—Tuesday and Friday:

“Nè di Venere nè di Marte Non si sposa nè si parte.”

Sunday is the best day of all; especially in country places, where it is evidently the most convenient.

If the bride or one of the bridal party slips by the way, if the ring or one of the candles on the altar falls in church, the young couple may look out for sorrow. If two sisters are married on the same day, ill will fare the younger. If one candle shines with less brilliancy than the other, or one of the kneeling spouses rises before the other, that one whose candle has not burnt as it should, or the one who has risen before the partner, will die first or die soon.

In Piano de’ Greci—the Greek Colony about twelve miles from Palermo—the young husband keeps his Phrygian cap on his head in church, as a sign that he too is now the head of a new family; and in olden times the bride used to come into church on horseback. In one place, Salaparuta, the bride enters in at the small door and goes out by the large; and she must perforce pass beneath the campanile, else she has not been married properly. In the Sicilian-Albanian colonies, after the wedding-rings—of gold for the man, of silver for the woman, as marking her inferior condition—have been placed on their fingers and the wedding crowns on their heads, the officiating priest puts a white veil on himself. He then steeps some bread in a glass of wine, and gives the young couple to eat three times; after which, invoking the name of the Lord, he dashes the glass to the ground. Then they all dance a certain dance, decorous, not to say lugubrious, consisting properly of only three turns made round and round as a kind of waltz, guided by the priest, with the accompaniment of two hymns, one to the Prophet Isaiah, and the other—Absit omen—to the Holy Martyrs. After the dance comes the Holy Kiss. The priest kisses the husband only, and he all the men and his bride. She kisses only all the women.

On their return from church “confetti” are thrown in the way before the newly-married couple; or if not, then boxes of sweetmeats—like the dragées of a French christening—are afterwards given to the parents and kinsfolk. In one place they throw dried peas, beans, almonds and corn—this last is the sign of plenty. Or they vary these with vegetables, bread and corn and salt mixed; or with corn and nuts; or “dolci” made of wheaten flour and honey. In Syracuse they throw salt and wheat—the former the symbol of wisdom, the latter of plenty. The Romans used to throw corn at their wedding feasts; and the nut-throwing of Sicily dates from the times when young Caius or Julius flung to his former companions those “nuces juglandes,” as a sign that he was no longer a boy ready to play as formerly with them all. In Avola, the nearest neighbor goes up to the bride with an apron full of orange leaves, which she flings in her face, saying, “Continence and boy-children!” then strews the remainder before the house-door. To this ceremony is added another as significant—breaking two hen’s eggs at the feet of the “sposi.” At one place they sprinkle the threshold with wine before entering. Another custom at Avola, as sacred as our wedding-cake, is to give each of the guests a spoonful of “ammilata, [Pg 79]” almonds pounded up with honey. At Piano de’ Greci, and in the other Sicilian-Greek colonies, the mother-in-law stands at the door of the house waiting for her daughter-in-law to give her a spoonful of honey as soon as she enters, to which are added “ciambelle”—small cakes in the form of a ring. The bride’s house is adorned with flowers, but it is a bad omen if two bits of wire get put by chance crosswise.

At dinner the bridegroom leaves the bride to go to his own home, but he returns in the middle of the meal to finish it with his bride; which seems a daft-like custom, serving no good purpose beyond the waste of time. They are very particular as to who shall sit on the right and who on the left of the bride, when, gayly dressed and set under a looking-glass, she sits like a doll to receive the congratulations of her friends. The first day of these receptions all the invitations are given by the mother of the bride; the second they are given by the mother of the bridegroom. There is good store of maccheroni and the like; and at Modica a plate is set to receive the contributions of the guests—like our Penny Weddings in the North. Some give money, some jewelry, etc., and the amount raised is generally of sufficient worth in view of the condition of the high contracting parties. In the evening they dance, when the “sposo” or “zitu,” cap in hand, makes a profound bow to the bride or “zita,” who rises joyously and dances “di tutta lena.” After a few turns the “zitu” makes another profound bow and sits down; when the bride dances once round the room alone, then selects first one partner then another. “Non prigari zita pr’ abballari.” Songs and dances finished, the mother-in-law accompanies the bride to the bride-chamber. In default of her, this time-honored office devolves on the bridegroom’s married sister or otherwise nearest relation. This is de rigueur; and there was an ugly affray at Palermo not so long ago on this very matter, which ended in the wounding and imprisonment of the bridegroom and his kinsfolk. Often all sorts of rude practical jokes are played, especially on old people or second marriages; some of which are horribly unseemly, and all are inconvenient. The bride stays eight days in the house receiving visits, and having a “good time” generally; after which she goes to church dressed all in white. In the marriage contract it is specified to what festas and amusements the husband shall take her during the year; and in olden times was added the number of dishes she was to have at her meals, the number of dresses she was to be allowed during the year, down to the most minute arrangements for her comfort and consideration.

Now comes the last scene of all—the last rites sacred to the shuffling off this mortal coil, which close the trilogy of life.

Among old Sicilian rules was one which enjoined, after three days’ illness, the Viaticum. This is eloquent enough of the rapidity with which Death snatched his victims when once he had laid his hand on their heads. The most common prognostications of death are: the midnight howling of a dog; the hooting of an owl; the crowing of a hen at midnight; to dream of dead friends or kinsfolk; to sweep the house at night; or to make a new opening of any kind in an inhabited house. Boys are of evil omen when they accompany the Viaticum, but as they always do accompany it, it would seem as if no one who has once received the Last Sacraments has a chance of recovery. He has not much; but it does at times happen that he breaks the bonds of death already woven round him and comes out with renewed life and vigor. Death is expected at midnight or at the first hours of the morning or at mid-day. If delayed, something supernatural is suspected. Had the dying man when in health burnt the yoke of a plough? Is there an unwashed linen-thread in his mattress? Perhaps he once, like care, killed a cat. If he delays his dying, the friends must call out his name in seven Litanies, or at least put his clothes out of doors. In any case he dies because the doctor has misunderstood his case and given him a wrong medicine; else Saints Cosmo and Damian, Saints Francisco and Paolo, would have saved him. When he dies the women raise the death-howl and let loose their hair about their shoulders. All his good qualities are enumerated and his bad ones are forgotten. He is dressed in white, and after he is [Pg 80] dressed his shroud is sewn tight. This pious work gains indulgences for those who perform it; and the very needle is preserved as a sacred possession. Sometimes, however, it is left in the grave-clothes to be buried with the corpse. In certain places the women are buried in their wedding-dress, which they have kept all these years to serve as their shroud. Seated or in bed the corpse is always laid out feet foremost to the door, and for this reason no one in Sicily makes a bed with the head to the window and the feet to the door. It would be a bad omen. About the corpse-bed stand lighted candles, or, however poor the family, at least one little oil lamp. The hired mourners, “repulatrici,” were once so numerous and costly as to demand legislative interference and municipal regulation. To this day they tear their hair and throw it in handfuls on the corpse; and the sisters who lament their brothers—rustic Antigones and Electras—exhale their sorrows in sweet and mournful songs.

In past ages a piece of money was put into the mouth of the corpse—a survival of the fare which Charon was bound to receive. A virgin has a palm branch and a crown in her coffin; a child a garland of flowers. It is the worst possible omen for a bridal procession to meet a funeral. It has to be averted by making the “horns”—or “le fiche” (thrusting the thumb between the first two fingers) or by putting a pomegranate before the door or in the window. At Piano de’ Greci certain little loaves or bread-cakes in the form of a cross are given to the poor on the day of a death. In Giacosa, behind the funeral procession comes an ass laden with food, which, after the burial, is distributed either here in the open or under cover in some house. The Sicilian-Albanians do not sit on chairs during the first days of mourning, but on the dead man’s mattress. In some houses all is thrown into intentional confusion—turned upside down, to mark the presence of death. Others put out the mattress to show that the invalid is dead; others again remake the bed as for marriage, placing on it the crucifix which the sick man had held in his hand when dying. Woe to those who let the candle go out while burning at the foot of the bed! On the first day of mourning, there is one only of these corpse-lights; on the second day two; on the third three. Men and women sit round—the men covered up in their cloaks with a black ribbon round their throats—the women with their black mantles drawn close over the head, all in deep mourning. For the first nine days, friends, also in strict mourning, throng the house to pay their formal visits of condolence. The mourners do not speak nor look up, but sit there like statues, and talk of the dead in solemn phrases and with bated breath, but entering into the minute and sometimes most immodest details. The mourning lasts one or two years for parents, husband or wife, and brothers and sisters; six months for grandparents, and uncles and aunts; three months for a cousin.

Babies are buried in white with a red ribbon as a sash, or disposed over the body in the form of a cross. They lie in a basket on the table with wax candles set round, and their faces are covered with a fine veil. They are covered with flowers, and on the little head is also a garland of flowers. No one must weep for the death of an infant. It would be an offence against God, who had compassion on the little creature and took it to make of it an angel in Paradise before it had learned to sin. The announcement of its death is received with a cry of “Glory and Paradise!” and in some places the joybells are rung as for a festa. When taken to the Campo Santo, it is accompanied with music and singing.

The soul of the dead is to be seen as a butterfly, a dove, an angel. The soul of a murdered man hovers about the cross raised to his memory on the place of his murder; the soul of one righteously executed by the law, remains on earth to frighten the timid; the soul of the suicide goes plumb to hell, “casal-diavolo,” unless the poor wretch repents at the supreme moment. Judas is condemned to hover always over the “tamarix Gallica,” on which he hanged himself, and which still bears his name; children go to the stars; while certain women believe that their souls will go up the “stairs of St. Japicu di Galizia,” which plain people call the Milky Way.

These are the most striking and picturesque of the customs and usages collected by Dr. Pitrè in his exhaustive and instructive little book. What remains is either too purely local, or too little differenced to be of interest to people not of the place. Also have been omitted a few unimportant details of a certain “breadth” and naturalistic simplicity which would not bear translating into English.—Temple Bar.

[Pg 81]


More than eighty years ago, Davy first produced and exhibited the arc-light to an admiring and dazzled audience at the Royal Institution; and forty years later, at the same place, Faraday, by means of his memorable experiments in electro-dynamics, laid down the laws on which the modern dynamo-electric machine is founded. Though known at the beginning of the century, the electric light remained little more than a scientific curiosity until within the last ten years, during which period the dynamo-electric machine has been brought to its present perfection, and electric lighting on a large and economical scale thus rendered possible. The first practical incandescent lamps were produced only seven years ago, though the idea of lighting by incandescence dates back some forty years or more; but all attempts to manufacture an efficient lamp were rendered futile by the impossibility of obtaining a perfect vacuum. The year 1881 will long be remembered as that in which electric lighting by incandescence was first shown to be possible and practicable.

The future history of the world will doubtless be founded more or less on the history of scientific progress. No branch of science at present rivals in interest that of electricity, and at no time in the history of the world has any branch of science made so great or so rapid progress as electrical science during the past five years.

And now it may be asked, where are the evidences of this wonderful progress, at least in that branch of electricity which is the subject of the present paper? Quite recently, the wonders of the electric light were in the mouths of every one; while at present, little or nothing is heard about it except in professional quarters. Is the electric light a failure, and are all the hopes that have been placed on it to end in nothing? Assuredly not. The explanation of the present lull in electric lighting is not far to seek; it is due almost solely and entirely to speculation. The reins, so to say, had been taken from the hands of engineers and men of science; the stock-jobbers had mounted the chariot, and the mad gallop that followed has ended in ruin and collapse. Many will remember the electric-light mania several years ago, and the panic that took place among those holding gas shares. The public knew little or nothing about electricity, and consequently nothing was too startling or too ridiculous to be believed. Then came a time of wild excitement and reckless speculation, inevitably followed by a time of depression and ruination. Commercial enterprise was brought to a stand-still; real investors lost all confidence; capital was diverted elsewhere; the innocent suffered, and are still suffering; and the electric light suffered all the blame. The government was forced to step in for the protection of the public; and the result of their legislation is the Electric Lighting Act which authorizes the Board of Trade to grant licenses to Companies and local authorities to supply electricity under certain conditions. These conditions have reference chiefly to the limits of compulsory and permissive supply, the securing of a regular and efficient supply, the safety of the public, the limitation of prices to be charged, and regulations as to inspection and inquiry.

That the electric light has not proved a failure may be gleaned from a rough survey of what has been done during the past two years, in spite of unmerited depression and depreciation. In this country, permanent installations have been established at several theatres in London and the provinces; the Royal Courts of Justice, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the Bank of England, and other well-known buildings; while numerous railway stations, hotels, clubs, [Pg 82] factories, and private mansions throughout the country, have also adopted the new light either entirely or in part. In addition to this, over forty steamships have been fitted with the electric light during the past year; and the Holborn Viaduct, with its shops and buildings, has been lighted without interruption for the past two years. On the continent, in addition to a large number of factories, private houses and public buildings, numerous theatres at Paris, Munich, Stuttgart, Brunn, Vienna, Berlin, Prague and Milan have been electrically lighted. In New York, an installation of ten thousand lights has been successfully running for the last year or two. Any one wishing to see the electric light to advantage and its suitability to interior decoration, should visit the Holborn Restaurant. This building, with its finely decorated rooms, its architectural beauties, and ornamental designs in the renaissance style, when viewed by the electric light, is without doubt one of the chief sights of London.

The electric light in the form of the well-known powerful and dazzling arc-light is the favorite illuminant for lighting harbors, railway stations, docks, public works, and other large spaces. But it is to the incandescent lamp that one must look par excellence for the “light of the future.” It has been satisfactorily established that lighting by incandescence is as cheap as lighting by gas, provided that it be carried out on an extensive scale.

Very contradictory statements have from time to time been published as to the relative cost of lighting by electricity and gas; and a few remarks on the subject, without entering into detailed figures, will explain much of this discrepancy. These remarks will refer to electric lighting by incandescence.

In the first place, the lighting may be effected in one of three ways—(1) by primary batteries; (2) by dynamo-machines; or (3) by a combination of dynamo machines and secondary batteries. The expense of working with primary batteries is altogether prohibitory, except in the case of very small installations; while secondary batteries have not yet been made a practical success; so that the second method mentioned above is the only one at present in the field. In the second place, a distinction must be made between isolated installations and a general system of lighting from central stations. Up to the present time, nearly all the lighting by electricity has been effected by isolated installations. If every man requiring one hundred or even several hundred lights were to set up his own gas-works and supply himself from them, the cost of lighting by gas would be enormously increased. Hence it is manifestly unfair to compare the cost of electric light obtained from isolated installations with gas obtained from gas-works supplying many thousands of lights; yet this is being constantly done. Central stations supplying at least, say, ten thousand lights, and gas-works on an equal scale, must be compared in order to arrive at a true estimate of the relative cost of electricity and gas. Several such extended installations are now being erected in London and elsewhere. With improved generating apparatus, and above all, with improved lamps, it is confidently anticipated that the electric light will eventually be cheaper than gas. Even if dearer than gas, it will be largely used for lighting dwelling-houses, theatres, concert halls, museums, libraries, churches, shops, showrooms, factories, and ships; while perhaps gas may long hold its own as the poor man’s friend, since it affords him warmth as well as light.

The incandescent light is entirely free from the products of combustion which heat and vitiate the air; it enables us to see pictures and flowers as by daylight; it supports plants instead of poisoning them, and enables many industries to be carried on by night as well as by day. Add to this an almost perfect immunity from danger of fire and no fear of explosion. When it is realized that a gas flame gives out seventeen times as much heat as an incandescent lamp of equal light-giving power, and that an ordinary gas flame vitiates the air as much as the breathing of ten persons, some idea may be formed of the advantage of the electric light from a sanitary point of view. To this may be added absence of injury to books, walls and ceilings. Visitors to the Savoy Theatre in London will doubtless have seen the [Pg 83] adaptability of this light for places of public amusement and it is now possible to sit out a play in a cool and pleasant atmosphere without incurring a severe headache. To theatrical managers the light offers in addition unusual facilities for producing spectacular effects, such as the employment of green, red, and white lamps to represent night, morning, and daylight. The freedom from weariness and lassitude after spending an evening in an electrically lighted apartment must be experienced in order to be appreciated. The electric light very readily adapts itself to the interior fittings and decorations of houses and public buildings, and it can be placed in positions where gas could not be used on account of the danger of fire. The old lines of gas-fittings should be avoided as far as possible, and the lights placed singly where required and not “bunched” together. For the lighting of mines, electricity must stand unrivalled, though little has as yet been done in this direction. Its speedy adoption either voluntarily or by Act of Parliament, with the employment of lime cartridges instead of blasting by gunpowder, will in the future render explosions in mines almost an impossibility. In some cases, gas may yet for some time compete with the electric light both in brilliancy and economy; for the electric light has spurred on the gas Companies to the improved lighting of many of our public streets and places.

With the general introduction of electricity for the purpose of lighting comes the introduction of electricity for the production of power; for the same current entering by the same conductors can be used for the production of light or of power, or of both. The same plant at the central stations will supply power by day and light by night, with evident economy. Electricity will thus be used for driving sewing-machines, grinding, mixing, brushing, cleaning, and many other domestic purposes. In many trades requiring the application of power for driving light machinery for short periods, electricity will be of the greatest value, and artisans will have an ever ready source of power at their command in their own homes.

Is electricity to supersede gas altogether? By no means, for gas is destined to play a more important part in the future than it has done in the past. Following close upon the revolution in the production of light comes a revolution in the production of heat for purposes of warming and cooking, and for the production of power. Gas in the future will be largely used not necessarily as an illuminant, but as a fuel and a power producer. When gas is burned in an ordinary gas flame, ninety-five per cent. of the gas is consumed in producing heat, and the remaining five per cent. only in producing light. Gas is far more efficient than raw coal as a heating agent; and it is also far cheaper to turn coal into gas and use the gas in a gas-engine, than to burn the coal directly under the boiler of a steam-engine; for gas-engines are far more economical than steam-engines. Bearing these facts in mind it cannot but be seen that the time is not far distant when, both by rich and poor, gas will be used as the cheapest, most cleanly, and most convenient means for heating and cooking, and raw coal need not enter our houses; also that gas-engines must sooner or later supersede steam-engines, and gas thus be used for driving the machine that produces the electricity. In the case of towns distant not more than, say, fifty miles from a coal-field, the gas-works could with advantage be placed at the colliery, the gas being conveyed to its destination in pipes. Thus, coal need no longer be seen, except at the colliery and the gas-works. With the substitution of gas for coal, as a fuel, will end the present abominable and wasteful production of smoke. When smoke, “blacks,” and noxious gases are thus done away with, life in our most populous towns may become a real pleasure. Trees, grass, and flowers will flourish, and architecture be seen in all its beauty. Personal comfort will be greatly enhanced by the absence of smuts, “pea-soup” fogs, and noxious fumes; and monuments, public buildings, and pictures saved from premature destruction.

The present method of open fires is dirty, troublesome, wasteful, and extravagant. With the introduction of gas as a heating agent, there will be no more carting about of coals and ashes, and no more troublesome lighting of fires with wood, paper, and matches. No more [Pg 84] coal-scuttles, no more smoky chimneys, no more chimney sweeps! On the other hand, the old open coal fire is cheerful, “pokable,” and conducive to ventilation; while the Englishman loves to stand in front of it and toast himself. All this, however, may still be secured in the gas stoves of the future, as any one could easily have satisfied himself at the recent Smoke Abatement Exhibition in London. The gas stove of the future must be an open radiating stove, and not a closed stove, which warms the air by conduction and convection chiefly, and renders the air of a room dry and uncomfortable.

It has been frequently pointed out that our coal-fields are not inexhaustible; but they doubtless contain a sufficient supply for hundreds of years to come. Long before the supply is likely to run short, other sources of nature will be largely drawn upon. These are the winds, waterfalls, tides, and the motion of the waves. The two former have to some extent been utilized; but little or nothing has been done or attempted with the latter. Before these can be to any extent made use of, means must be devised for storing energy in the form of electricity; a problem which is now being vigorously attacked, but as yet without much practical success. That electricity has a great future before it cannot for a moment be doubted.—Chambers’s Journal.



The road was straight, the afternoon was gray, The frost hung listening in the silent air; On either hand the rimy fields were bare; Beneath my feet unrolled the long, white way, Drear as my heart, and brightened by no ray From the wide winter sun, whose disc reclined In distant copper sullenness behind The broken network of the western hedge— A crimson blot upon the fading day.
Three travellers went before me—one alone— Then two together, who their fingers nursed Deep in their pockets; and I watched the first Lapse in the curtain the slow haze had thrown Across the vista which had been my own. Next vanished the chill comrades, blotted out Like him they followed, but I did not doubt That there beyond the haze the travellers Walked in the fashion that my sight had known.
Only “beyond the haze;” oh, sweet belief! That this is also Death; that those we’ve kissed Between our sobs, are just “beyond the mist;” An easy thought to juggle with to grief! The gulf seems measureless, and Death a thief. Can we, who were so high, and are so low, So clothed in love, who now in tatters go, Echo serenely, “Just beyond the haze,” And of a sudden find a trite relief? Cornhill Magazine.

[Pg 85]


Matthew Robinson, of West Layton in Yorkshire, married when he was eighteen, and before he was forty found himself father of a numerous family—seven sons and two daughters. His wife, whose maiden name was Drake, had inherited property in Cambridgeshire, and this seems to have been the cause of their settling at Cambridge about the year 1727. They may also have been induced to do so from the fact that Dr. Conyers Middleton, Mrs. Robinson’s step-father, held the office of Public Librarian there. Conyers Middleton became subsequently celebrated by his “Life of Cicero”; but at this time he was chiefly known as the malignant enemy of the learned Bentley, Master of Trinity College, and as the author of various polemical tracts and treatises.

Middleton took an interest in the grandchildren of his deceased wife. His favorite among them was his god-daughter Elizabeth, the elder of the two girls. When first he saw her she was not quite eight years old. He was at once struck by her precocious intelligence, and undertook to begin her education. Her power of attention, and strength of memory, were tested in the following way. He kept her with him while conversing with visitors on subjects far beyond her grasp, and expected her both to listen, and to give him afterwards some account of what had passed. The exercise was a severe one, but his little pupil profited by it. Guided by him, she made her first steps in Latin, her knowledge of which, in after-life, was an inexhaustible source of pleasure. She often regretted that she had not learnt Greek as well.

A favorite amusement of the young Robinsons was that of playing at Parliament, their gentle mother sitting by and obligingly acting as Speaker, a title which her children habitually used when mentioning her among themselves. Often, when dispute waxed too warm, had she to interfere, and restore order among the senators, of whom Elizabeth was not the least eloquent.

Wimpole Hall, now the home of the Yorkes, was, in the early part of last century, inhabited by Lord Oxford.[42] In 1731, Mrs. Robinson went from Cambridge to pay a visit there, taking her daughter Elizabeth with her. Lord and Lady Oxford had an only child and heiress, Lady Margaret Harley, who, a few years later, became Duchess of Portland. Lady Margaret was eighteen, and Elizabeth Robinson eleven. In spite of the difference in their ages, they became friends at once. Lady Margaret was immensely diverted by Elizabeth’s liveliness of mind, and restlessness of body, and—being addicted to dispensing nicknames—called her Fidget. Elizabeth was doubtless flattered by the notice the other accorded her. On getting back to Cambridge, she sat down to write a letter to her new friend, but had difficulty in finding something to say. One can imagine her chewing the feather of her pen, and rolling her eyes, in the agony of composition. At last she began:

“This Cambridge is the dullest place: it neither affords anything entertaining nor ridiculous enough to put into a letter. Were it half so difficult to find something to say as something to write, what a melancholy set of people should we be who love prating!”

Letter-writing soon ceased to cause her the slightest effort. This was well, for she was cut off for a period from all but epistolary intercourse with Lady Margaret, owing to her father’s settling at a place he owned in Kent, Mount Morris, near Hythe. Had Mr. Robinson followed his inclination, he would have preferred living in London, for he much appreciated the society of his fellow-men. But prudence forbade this. Though comfortably off, he was not wealthy, and already his elder sons were treading on his heels. He fell to repining at times, declaring that living in the country was simply sleeping with his eyes open. His daughter Elizabeth (evidently now an authority in the household) would rally him sharply when he spoke so, and we learn from one of her letters that she had taken to putting saffron in his tea to [Pg 86] enliven his spirits. His temper, for all that, continued most uncertain. Once, after promising to take her to the Canterbury Races, and the festivities which followed them, he changed his mind suddenly, and decided on remaining at home. Keenly disappointed was Elizabeth, who was so eager about dancing, that she fancied she had at some time or other been bitten by the tarantula. But philosophy came to her aid, and she confessed that writing a long letter to her dear duchess, was a more rational pleasure than “jumping and cutting capers.”

Her health was not altogether satisfactory. An affection of the hip-joint was the cause of her being ordered to Bath in 1740. Neither the place itself, nor the lounging life led by the bathers, were much to her taste. It amused her, though, to comment satirically on the people she saw. Who, one wonders, were the good folks thus turned inside out?—

“There is one family here that affect sense. Their stock is indeed so low that, if they laid out much, they would be in danger of becoming bankrupt; but, according to their present economy, it will last them their lives. And everybody commends them—for who will not praise what they do not envy? To commend what they admire, is above the capacity of the generality.”

On leaving Bath, she spent some weeks with the Duke and Duchess of Portland, at their grand house in Whitehall. During her visit she was ordered by the doctor to enter on a fresh course of baths—this time at Marylebone—and thither she used to proceed every morning in the ducal coach. The duchess accompanied her on the first occasion, and was “frightened out of her wits” at the intrepidity with which she plunged in. Lord Dupplin, who was given to rhyming, actually found material for an ode in the account he received of Miss Fidget’s aquatic feats.

The following year, Mr. Robinson’s younger daughter, Sarah, caught the smallpox. Elizabeth who, besides being rather delicate, had a considerable share of beauty to lose, was at once removed by her parents from Mount Morris, and sent to lodge in the house of a gentleman farmer living a few miles off—a certain Mr. Smith of Hayton. By most young women, familiar, as was she, with the delights of Ranelagh, Vauxhall, and Marylebone Gardens, the life at Hayton would have been thought supremely dull; but Elizabeth had a mind too well stored to find time hang heavy. “I am not sorry,” she writes, “to be without the appurtenances of equipage for a while, that I may know how much of my happiness depends upon myself, and how much comes from the things about me.” Mr. Smith who enjoyed an income of four hundred a year, she describes as a busy, anxious person, very silent, and disposed to be niggardly. Mrs. Smith was a good sort of body, excellent at making cheeses and syllabubs. The two Miss Smiths were worthy damsels, yet hardly interesting to the pupil of Conyers Middleton. The house was as clean as a new pin; it contained much worm-eaten panelling and antique furniture, well rubbed and polished. The room assigned to Elizabeth was spacious though dark, owing to the masses of ivy veiling the windows. Here she reigned undisturbed; a big clock on the staircase-landing struck the hours with solemn regularity. From without came the cawing of rooks, and the grating noise of a rusty weathercock fixed in the stump of an old oak-tree. She wrote of course to the Duchess of Portland apologising for addressing her grace on paper “ungilded and unadorned.” To Miss Donnellan,[43] another favored correspondent, whose acquaintance she had made at Bath, she gives the following account of herself and her surroundings:

“I am forced to go back to former ages for my companions; Cicero and Plutarch’s heroes are my only company. I cannot extract the least grain of entertainment out of the good family I am with; my best friends among the living are a colony of rooks who have settled themselves in a grove by my window. They wake me early in the morning, for which I am obliged to them for some hours of reading, and some moments of reflection, of which they are the subject. I have not yet discovered the form of their government, but I imagine it is democratical. There seems an equality of power and property, and a wonderful agreement of opinion. I am apt to fancy them wise for the same reason I have thought some men and some books so, because they are solemn, and because I do not understand them. If I continue here long, I shall grow a good naturalist. I have applied myself to nursing chickens, and have been forming the manners of a young calf, but I find it a very dull scholar.”

[Pg 87] At last, Sarah Robinson was pronounced convalescent; and the sisters, who were devoted to one another, were permitted to have an interview, in the open air, at a distance of six feet apart. Soon after, all fear of infection being gone, Elizabeth bid adieu to Hayton and its inmates (not forgetting the rook republic) and returned home.

Miss Robinson was not of a susceptible nature. There is reason to believe that, during her stay in London, she had several sighing swains at her feet. There is mention too, in one of her letters, of a certain clownish squire, a visitor at Hayton, who complimented her “with all the force of rural gallantry.” But this gentleman she could only liken to a calf, and his attentions were received with polite indifference. Indeed, on the subject of marriage, she had decided opinions.

“When I marry,” was her written declaration, “I do not intend to enlist entirely under the banner of Cupid or Plutus, but take prudent consideration, and decent inclination, for my advisers. I like a coach and six extremely; but a strong apprehension of repentance would not suffer me to accept it from many that possess it.”

A suitor of an approved type soon presented himself. In the person of Edward Montagu, Esquire, the main requirements seemed combined. He was of good birth, being a grandson of the first Lord Sandwich: he was rich, and had prospects of increased wealth some day. He had a place in Yorkshire, another in Berkshire, and a house in town. He represented Huntingdon in Parliament. Au reste, he was a courteous gentleman, grave in aspect and demeanor, and some thirty years her senior. It may be added that he was a mathematician of distinction, happiest when alone pursuing his studies.

In August 1742, being then twenty-two, Elizabeth Robinson became Mrs. Montagu. It was not without a flutter of anxiety that she took even this prudent step, but the sequel showed that she had chosen wisely. A more generous, indulgent husband she could not have found. “He has no desire of power but to do good,” was her report, after some experience of his temper, “and no use of it but to make happy.” She suffered a heavy bereavement, two years afterwards, in the loss of an infant boy, her only child. This affected her health, and we hear of frequent visits paid by her to Tunbridge Wells to drink the waters. Here is a picture of the folks she encountered on the Pantiles:

“Tunbridge seems the parliament of the world, where every country and every rank has its representative; we have Jews of every tribe, and Christian people of all nations and conditions. Next to some German, whose noble blood might entitle him to be Grand Master of Malta, sits a pin-maker’s wife from Smock Alley; pickpockets, who are come to the top of their profession, play with noble dukes at brag.”

The letters of Mrs. Montagu have been compared with those of her kinswoman by marriage, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, to the disadvantage of the latter. Of the two, Lady Mary is the livelier and wittier on paper, but her writings are disfigured by a coarseness which, with the other’s taste, she might have avoided. Mrs. Montagu is seen at her best when addressing intimate friends. Her style is then easy and natural, and the good things that drop from her pen are worth picking up; but it is another affair when she writes to a stranger, especially one whom she intends to dazzle with her learning. She then drags in gods and goddesses to adorn her pages, uses metaphor to straining, and moralises at wearisome length.

The Montagus, though living in perfect harmony, afforded each other little companionship. When at Sandleford, their favorite residence near Newbury, in Berkshire, Mr. Montagu was all day long shut up in his study. His wife was thrown on her own resources for amusement. With country neighbors often stupid, and oftener rough, she had nothing in common. It is just possible that she felt the winged fiend Ennui hovering over her. Some remarks addressed to a correspondent on the necessity of occupation give that impression:

“It is better to pass one’s life à faire des riens, qu’ à rien faire. Do but do something; the application to it will make it appear important, and the being the doer of it laudable, so that one is sure to be pleased one’s self. To please others is a task so difficult, one may never attain it, and perhaps not so necessary that one is obliged to attempt it.”

[Pg 88] To please others was no such difficult task for her, and she must have known it. Cultivated society was the element in which she was made to move. She was always glad when the time arrived to get into her postchaise, and roll over the fifty-six miles that lay between Sandleford and her house in Hill Street, Berkeley Square. This habitation was at once stately and convenient; one room was furnished in the Chinese style: the walls were lively with pagodas, willow-trees, and simpering celestials. Here she collected around her the witty and the wise. Her salon quickly became the fashion. We find her on one occasion apologizing to a lady for not answering her letter, and explaining that, on the previous day, “the Chinese room was filled by a succession of people from eleven in the morning till eleven at night.” She is said to have introduced the custom—which did not however take permanent root—of giving mid-day breakfasts. Madame du Boccage, a lady of eminence in the French literary world, who happened to be in England in 1750, gives a description of one of them in a letter to her sister Madame Duperron. It appears that bread-and-butter, cakes hot and cold, biscuits of every shape and flavor, formed the solid portion of the feast. Tea, coffee, and chocolate were the beverages provided. The hostess, wearing a white apron, and a straw hat (like those with which porcelain shepherdesses are crowned), stood at the table pouring out the tea. Madame du Boccage was much impressed by the fine table-linen, the gleaming cups and saucers, and the excellence of the tea, which in those days cost about sixteen shillings a pound. But especially did she admire the lady of the house, who deserved, she considered, “to be served at the table of the gods.“

Mrs. Montagu had, all her life, been a student of Shakespeare, and an ardent admirer of his works. Her indignation may be imagined therefore when Voltaire dared to condemn what he was pleased to call les farces monstrueuses of the bard of Avon.[44] It was contended by Voltaire that Corneille was immeasurably superior to Shakespeare as a dramatist, inasmuch as the latter set at nought Aristotle’s unities of time and place, and otherwise violated accepted rules of dramatic composition. That the vigor and freedom which characterise Shakespeare’s genius should be depreciated, and the stilted artificialities of the French school held up to admiration, was more than Mrs. Montagu could stand. She thus denounces the philosopher of Ferney, and his opinions, in a letter to Gilbert West:

“Foolish coxcomb! Rules can no more make a poet than receipts a cook. There must be taste, there must be skill. Oh, that we were as sure our fleets and armies could drive the French out of America as that our poets and tragedians can drive them out of Parnassus. I hate to see these tame creatures, taught to pace by art, attack fancy’s sweetest child.”

There was nothing for it but to enter the lists herself, and measure swords with the assailant. She accordingly set to work at her “Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespeare,” and very well she acquitted herself of the task. Her essay, though heavy, did credit to her taste and erudition. It was published in 1769, and had no small success. From first to last, six editions appeared. She treated Voltaire in it with surprising forbearance; yet he is said to have been extremely nettled at his sovereign dictum being called in question—and by a woman too! This was not her only literary performance. To the “Dialogues of the Dead,” of which her friend Lord Lyttleton was the author, she contributed three, the brightest being that in which Mercury and Mrs. Modish are made to converse. Mrs. Modish is a typical woman of fashion of the day. Mercury summons her to cross the Styx with him, and she—surprised and unprepared—pleads in excuse divers trumpery engagements (balls, plays, card-assemblies, and the like), to meet which she neglects all her home duties. As several fine ladies tossed their heads on reading the dialogue, and declared the Modish utterances to be “abominably satirical,” we may presume that the cap fitted.

In 1770, Mrs. Montagu had completely established her empire in the world of literature. A list of the remarkable people who assembled beneath her roof would fill a page. She was on terms of friendly intimacy with Johnson, Goldsmith, Burke, Hume, Reynolds, Walpole, [Pg 89] Garrick, Dr. Burney, Dr. Young, Bishop Percy, Lords Lyttleton, Bath, Monboddo, and a host more. Of the other sex may be named Mesdames Carter, Chapone, Barbauld, Boscawen, Thrale, Vesey, Ord, and Miss Burney. Dr. Doran, in his memoir of Mrs. Montagu, explains how her parties, and those given by Mrs. Vesey and Mrs. Ord, came to be called Bluestocking Assemblies. It seems that Mr. Benjamin Stillingfleet, who was always a welcome guest at them, wore stockings of a bluish grey; and this peculiarity was fixed upon, by those disposed to deride such gatherings, as affording a good stamp wherewith to brand them. A Bluestocking Club never existed. There was a Literary Club, of which Sir Joshua Reynolds and Dr. Johnson were the promoters, and to this the so-called bluestockings of both sexes belonged.

It was in 1774 that Hannah More was first introduced to Mrs. Montagu. Hannah was the daughter of a schoolmaster in Gloucestershire, and had come up to town at the invitation of Garrick. Her ambition from her earliest childhood had been to mix in intellectual society, and win for herself, if possible, a place therein. This she succeeded in doing with a swiftness that will surprise those who have tried to read the plays and ballads by which she made her name. Her cleverness, sound sense, and fresh enthusiasm, attracted the “female Mecænas of Hill Street” (so she styles Mrs. Montagu), who invited her to dinner, Johnson, Reynolds, and Mrs. Boscawen, being of the party.

“I feel myself a worm,” she tells her sister, “the more a worm from the consequence which was given me by mixing with such a society. Mrs. Montagu received me with the most encouraging kindness. She is not only the finest genius, but the finest lady I ever saw. Her countenance is the most animated in the world—the sprightly vivacity of fifteen, with the judgment and experience of a Nestor. But I fear she is hastening to decay very fast; her spirits are so active that they must soon wear out the little frail receptacle that holds them.”

Cards were discountenanced in Hill Street. After dinner, the company, augmented by fresh arrivals, divided itself into little groups, and much animated conversation went on. The hostess was especially brilliant, holding her own in a brisk argument against four clever men. Hannah was amused at observing how “the fine ladies and pretty gentlemen” who could only talk twaddle, herded together.

Mrs. Montagu was generally happy in her friendships, which she made with caution, and only abandoned for good reason. It is hard to say what first caused a breach between her and Johnson, who sometimes smothered her with compliments, and as often, in chatting with Boswell, spoke of her with harshness and disrespect. She, it is stated, once pronounced his “Rasselas” an opiate, and the remark of course was not allowed to lie where it fell. In return, he fastened on her “Essay on Shakespeare,” declaring that there was not one sentence of true criticism in the whole book. There is reason to suppose also that he was jealous of the respectful deference she showed to Garrick and Lyttleton. He certainly caused her pain later on, by the sneers he bestowed on the latter (then dead) in his “Lives of the Poets.” He had shown her the manuscript of the Life in question, and the expressions in it which offended her she had marked for omission. He, however, thought fit to disregard her wishes, and sent it to press as originally written. On opening the book, and finding her idol alluded to as “poor Lyttleton,” and accused of vanity and a cringing fear of criticism, she was naturally incensed. As it was not convenient to seek out the offender in Bolt Court, she asked him to dinner, and he had the temerity to go. The repast over, he attempted to engage her in conversation, but her icy manner repelled him. Retiring discomfited, he seated himself next General Paoli, to whom he remarked, “Mrs. Montagu, sir, has dropped me. Now, sir, there are people whom one should like very well to drop, but would not wish to be dropped by.” After this, open war was declared on both sides. Malicious onlookers, for sport’s sake, fomented the disagreement. Foremost among these was Horace Walpole. He relates with infinite glee that, at a bluestocking assembly at Lady Lucan’s, “Mrs. Montagu and Johnson kept at different ends of the chamber, and set up altar against altar.” Johnson had many reasons [Pg 90] for feeling grateful to Mrs. Montagu; it is therefore satisfactory to know that, at the time of his death, he and she were on cordial terms again.

Not only could she dispute with the learned, and frolic with the fashionable, in town; but at Sandleford Mrs. Montagu kept the farm accounts, and rattled away glibly about agriculture. Then again at Denton, her husband’s place in Northumberland, where he owned extensive coal-mines, it was she, not he, who visited the pits with the overseer, and discussed the prospects of trade. Her husband’s apathy to what went on around him, and disinclination to move, irritated her, as is evident from the slightly petulant remarks she lets drop thereupon in her letters. She lost all patience with her brother William, the clergyman, who preferred a life of easy retirement to going ahead in his profession. “He leads,” she writes, “a life of such privacy and seriousness as looks to the beholders like wisdom; but for my part, no life of inaction deserves that name.” In 1774, her husband’s health was visibly failing. He scarcely left the house, sought his bed at five o’clock in the evening, and did not leave it till near noon. He died the following year, bequeathing all his property, real and personal, to his widow. She, after an interval of seclusion at Sandleford, proceeded to the North, and busied herself in visiting her coal-mines, and feasting her tenants on a liberal scale. Her colliery people she blew out with boiled beef and rice-pudding. “It is very pleasant,” she remarks, “to see how the poor things cram themselves, and the expense is not great. We buy rice cheap, and skimmed milk and coarse beef serve the occasion.” Having projected various schemes of charity and usefulness among her vassals in Northumberland, she proceeded to Yorkshire, and with the state of affairs on her property there she was equally pleased. A prolonged drought, it is true, had this summer burnt the country to a brown crust; not a blade of grass was visible; cattle had to be driven miles to water. Yet her tenants asked no indulgence nor favor, but paid their rents like men, hoping philosophically that the next season would be better.

The following year, she was moving in a different scene. She was in Paris, where her reputation as a bel esprit of the first rank was established. The doors of the greatest houses were thrown open to receive her, and she was hurried hither and thither in a manner bewildering.

Voltaire was prevented by age and decrepitude from appearing in public; but he heard of her arrival, and took the opportunity of addressing a letter to the Academy renewing his attack on Shakespeare. She was present when this letter (intended as a crushing response to her essay) was read. The meeting over, the president observed to her apologetically, “I fear, Madam, you must be annoyed at what you have just heard.” She at once answered, “I, sir! Not at all. I am not one of M. Voltaire’s friends!”

She had already named as her heir her nephew Matthew Robinson (the younger of the two sons of her third brother Morris), who assumed, by royal licence, the surname and arms of Montagu. In young Matthew, now a boy of fourteen, her hopes and affections were accordingly centred. His education was her first care. She sent him to Harrow, where he did dwell. In the holidays, she had him taught to ride and to dance, the latter exercise being essential, in her opinion, for giving young people a graceful deportment. She was indeed shocked at observing, on one of her later visits to Tunbridge Wells, that owing to there being a camp hard by at Coxheath, young ladies had adopted a military air, strutting about with their arms akimbo, humming marches, and refusing to figure in the courtly minuet.

When he was seventeen, Matthew Montagu was entered at Trinity College, Cambridge. Here again, without doing anything remarkable, he acquitted himself creditably, and never got into a single scrape. While he was thus progressing, his aunt was preparing to leave her residence in Hill Street, and move into a far finer mansion which she had purchased in Portman Square. This edifice, considerably altered and modernised, fills up the north-west angle of the square. It is conspicuous for its size, and the spacious enclosure surrounding it. Much building and [Pg 91] decorating had to be got through before the fortunate owner could migrate thither. In the following extract from a letter written at the time, she proves herself a sharp woman of business:

“My new house is almost ready. I propose to move all my furniture from Hill Street thither, and to let my house unfurnished till a good purchaser offers. Then, should I get a bad tenant, I can seize his goods for rent; and such security becomes necessary in these extravagant times.”

Meantime, extensive improvements were being carried on at Sandleford. Within the house, various Gothicisms, in imitation of Strawberry Hill, were contrived. Without, what with widening of streams, levelling of mounds, planting in and planting out, our good lady’s purse-strings were kept perpetually untied. Yet she managed to keep well within her income. The celebrated landscape-gardener, “Capability” Brown, superintended matters.

“He adapts his scheme,” she says, “to the character of the place and my purse. We shall not erect temples to heathen gods, build proud bridges over humble rivulets, or do any of the marvellous things suggested by caprice, and indulged by the wantonness of wealth.”

The winter of 1782 found Mrs. Montagu established at her palace, for so her foreign friends called it, in Portman Square. Everything about it delighted her—the healthy open situation, the space and the magnificence. We hear of one room with pillars of old Italian green marble, and a ceiling painted by Angelica Kauffmann. At a later date, she further adorned it with those wondrous feather hangings, to form which, feathers were sought from every quarter, all kinds being acceptable, from the flaring plumage of the peacock and the parrot to the dingier garb of our native birds. It was with reference to this feathering of her London nest that the poet Cowper wrote:

“The birds put off their every hue, To dress a room for Montagu.”

When Matthew Montagu left Cambridge, there was a talk of his making the grand tour. His aunt, however, decided that the atmosphere of home was less likely to be corrupting. The scheme was therefore abandoned, and he was sent forth instead into London society. The impression he made was such as to satisfy her. She was of course anxious that, if he did marry, he should exercise judgment in his choice. When therefore he fixed his affections on a charming girl with fifty thousand pounds, she could raise no objections. He entered Parliament as member for Bossiney,[45] and in 1787 he seconded the Address to the Throne in a maiden speech which appears to have attracted some attention; members of both Houses called to congratulate his aunt upon his successful start in public life: “indeed, for several mornings,” says she, “I had a levée like a Minister.”

In process of time a grand-nephew made his appearance, and then Mrs. Montagu’s cup of joy seemed to be full. From this point her life flowed smoothly onward to its close. Death had made sad havoc among those who had assembled around her once, yet the gaps were quickly filled. She entertained more splendidly than ever. Her parties differed from the old gatherings in Hill Street. Royalty honored her with its presence. Titles, stars, and decorations abounded: she herself had never been more sparkling: yet the witty aroma being more diffused, smelt fainter. While welcoming the rich, she did not forget the poor. Every May Day, the courtyard before her house was thronged by a multitude of chimney-sweeps, with faces washed for the occasion, and for these a banquet of roast beef and plum pudding was provided.

It surprised her friends that one so fragile in appearance, who looked as though a breath of wind might blow her away, should be equal to the fatigues of a worldly existence. Hannah More, when first she knew her, had described her as “hastening to insensible decay by a slow but sure hectic.” Twenty years after, on one of her brief visits to town, she found her hectic patient (aged seventy-six) “well, bright, and in full song,” The excitement afforded by mixing with the giddy world had long since wearied and sickened the worthy Hannah, but to the mistress of Montagu House it had become a necessity. Without it she would have moped. She resigned her sceptre gradually and reluctantly. Sir Nathaniel Wraxall alludes in a rather malicious tone to the splendor of [Pg 92] her attire, when in extreme old age, and especially to the quantity of diamonds that flashed on head, neck, arms, and fingers. “I used to think,” he says, “that these glittering appendages of opulence sometimes helped to dazzle the disputant whom her arguments might not always convince, or her literary reputation intimidate.” At length failing strength obliged her to retire from a scene in which she had long shone the brightest star, and we hear of her less and less. She died in 1800, aged eighty.

The gap left by her in society has never been exactly filled—except possibly by Lady Blessington, who was a far shallower person than her predecessor, with sympathies less exclusively literary. The kindness Mrs. Montagu showed to struggling authors, and the assistance she lent them in time of need, are pleasant to remember. It was to her influence in a great measure, that Beattie owed the success of his “Minstrel,” and Hannah More that of her windy play “Percy.” She condescended to notice the humblest efforts—like those, for instance, of Mrs. Yearsley, the ungrateful milk-woman of Bristol, in whose poetical effusions she discovered a surprising “force of imagination and harmony of numbers.”

The literary salon, properly so called, appears to be a thing of the past. Society is now too large, and time too precious, to admit of its revival. Besides, workers in literature appeal to a discerning public, and not to individual patrons and patronesses, for support. Even if such a revival were possible, a leader like Mrs. Montagu could hardly be found. It was Johnson himself who said of her:

“She exerts more mind in conversation than any person I ever met with; she displays such powers of ratiocination, such radiations of intellectual excellence, as are amazing.”

This is strong praise, and it agrees with the opinions of others hardly less celebrated. There are few, it would seem, at the present day, of whom the same could, with truth, be said.—Temple Bar.


In an article in the Fortnightly Review for the month of October,[46] under the heading of “The Future of the Soudan,” grave charges are made against General Gordon.

It is alleged in that article that General Gordon’s proclamation at Khartoum, of the 18th or 19th of February last, will have a very injurious effect upon the condition of thousands of unhappy negroes from the upper regions of the Nile, who are, or will become, slaves. That General Gordon has undone by his own hands the work he devoted years of his life to accomplish. That his proclamation to the slaveholders showed that he was inclined to temporize with an injustice, and that the English Government have confirmed the right of man to sell man. It is further asserted that the issue of the proclamation secured General Gordon’s safe arrival at Khartoum.

The writer advocates the total abolition of slavery in Egypt at once, without any compensation. He is of opinion that General Gordon should not have accepted a commission from the Khedive. He thinks that if an equitable administration, under the British Government, cannot be established, it would be better to abandon the Soudan absolutely, and leave the native chiefs to themselves, even at the risk of there being a period of anarchy; but further on he says there is no reason why we should allow the Soudan to sink into barbarism. And then he goes on to assume that some form of government might be established, separate from Egypt, and that the railway from Suakim to Berber ought to be made, if we wish to keep open the road to Khartoum, and our access to the heart of Africa. The writer considers that the garrisons of Kassala and Sennaar should have been relieved through Abyssinia, and that General Gordon was most unwisely empowered to settle the nomination of the future native administration of the country, in place of frankly withdrawing from the Soudan, and leaving the tribes to settle their [Pg 93] government among themselves. The writer then makes a direct charge against General Gordon to the effect that he, in a proclamation of February 26, said he had been compelled to send for British troops, who were then on the road, and would arrive in a few days. In conclusion, the writer of the article states that the despatch of the present expedition is a sufficient proof that General Gordon overrated his powers.

Now what are the facts?

According to the terms of the Convention[47] between the British and Egyptian Governments for the suppression of the slave trade, dated August 4, 1877, it was agreed that slave-hunting should cease, and that any persons engaged therein should be treated as murderers, and it was further arranged that after certain dates—viz., August 4, 1884, in lower Egypt, and August 4, 1889, in the Soudan, all trafficking in slaves between family and family, should be illegal, and be punished with imprisonment. It was further resolved that a special ordinance should be published throughout the land of Egypt, in order to prepare the people for the change determined upon.

General Gordon, during the time that he was Governor-General of the Soudan, rigidly adhered to this Convention, and annually published a proclamation to the effect that the sale of slaves between family and family would determine in 1889. In Lower Egypt, where, by the terms of the Convention, the sale of slaves has already become illegal, no such proclamations have been promulgated, nor have any steps whatever been taken to put the terms of the Convention into force. Although General Gordon faithfully carried out the provisions of this article of the Convention, he was adverse to the conditions. He saw that they could not be carried out; and suggested that the only effectual way of abolishing slavery would be the following:—

1. The registration of all existing slaves.
2. Registers to be kept in each Government office of the names of slaves and their owners, with a description of each.
3. Every slave not registered within six months from a certain date to be free.
4. All slaves born after a certain date to be free.

And he suggested that the Convention should be cancelled, and that the foregoing proposals should take its place.

Prior to General Gordon’s arrival in the Soudan in February last, it was rumored throughout that country by the emissaries of the Mahdi, that General Gordon would proclaim the freedom of all slaves, which form seven-eighths of the population of that province. In order to counteract this baneful influence, General Gordon, on his arrival at Khartoum, issued the proclamation[48] complained of. What are its terms? It simply tells the people what they are by law entitled to—viz., “That whoever has slaves shall have full right to their services, and full control over them, and that no one shall interfere with their property.” General Gordon had no power to cancel the Convention and abolish slavery. What he did was in accordance with a solemn convention entered into by the Governments of Great Britain and Egypt, and in no way referred to the making of new slaves, and still less to slave-hunting, against which nefarious traffic, as is well known, all his energies have been exercised.

It is not the case that the issue of the proclamation procured the safe arrival of General Gordon at Khartoum. The proclamation was not issued until after his arrival at Berber—most probably not until after his arrival at Khartoum itself.

With regard to the total abolition of slavery, without compensation, at once—the writer can hardly have considered the question. For a powerful nation like Great Britain to confiscate the personal property of a people, with whom slavery dates from the time of the Pharaohs, would be as impolitic as it would be unjust. We have no right, human or divine, to so deal with property that is not our own. We did not dare to act in this manner when we gave our slaves their freedom, we began by proposing a loan of £15,000,000, and we ended by a gift of £20,000,000.

With respect to General Gordon’s commission as Governor-General which is objected to—how could he have derived any power without it? The number of Egyptian employés and troops could be counted by thousands, [Pg 94] each province being under the government of an Egyptian Pasha. How could he have issued any orders unless he derived his authority from the firman of the Khedive.

The writer advocates the evacuation of the Soudan upon any terms, even if such withdrawal would result in anarchy—always provided that Great Britain is not prepared to exercise a protectorate over it—and then he goes on to recommend the construction of the Suakim and Berber railway under any circumstances, with the view of opening the road to Khartoum, and giving us access to the heart of Africa. He seems to consider that the people of the Soudan would, after a time of anarchy, form good governments. It is asserted, on the contrary, that the country, at present a productive one, would revert into barbarism, and, after a scene of murder, rapine, and plunder, would become the resort of slave-hunters,[49] who would carry on raids into all the surrounding provinces.

The writer does not say where the money is to come from for the construction of the railway, or how it is to be maintained. When he speaks of the garrisons of Sennaar and Kassala being withdrawn through Abyssinia, he apparently forgets the extreme hatred that exists between the natives of the Soudan and the Abyssinians. He seems to have forgotten the thousands of people whom General Gordon was sent to remove. Putting on one side the Egyptian garrisons in the Bahr-el-Gazelle, and at the equator, and other places, Colonel Coetlogen states[50] that the people to be removed from Khartoum and Sennaar alone consists of from 40,000 to 50,000 persons, and is of opinion that the evacuation would take two years to carry out, and could only be carried out at great risk, and with much bloodshed.

It is very difficult to explain the meaning of the proclamation of February 26,[51] wherein General Gordon speaks of having sent for British troops who would in a few days be in Khartoum. It would seem as if the proclamation had been promulgated under some misapprehension or misunderstanding open to explanation. General Gordon is not an Arabic scholar, and his interpreter may have inserted words that he did not use. Again, General Gordon may have intended to allude to Graham’s force proceeding to Suakim,[52] since the proclamation is addressed to the inhabitants of the Soudan generally, of which Suakim is an integral part; or he may refer to the 200 Indian troops that on the same day (February 26) he requests[53] may be sent to Wadi-Halfa.

As this incident has nothing to do with the future of the Soudan, nor with the slave proclamation, it would seem quite unnecessary for the writer of the article in the Fortnightly Review to go out of his way to charge General Gordon, an absent officer, with having proclaimed an untruth.

As to the statement that “the dispatch of the present expedition is a sufficient proof that General Gordon overrates his powers,” it is not to be believed that the people of England will endorse any such unfair statement. On the contrary, they will be of opinion that General Gordon’s prestige has never stood so high as it does at this time. It has certainly carried him through the perils of a terrible ordeal out of which it seems probable that he and his companions will emerge with undiminished reputation. Few persons will ever know the fearful anxiety which he has undergone during this time of trial—not on account of himself, but on account of those who were with him, and for whose lives he considered himself responsible. General Gordon never asked for any expedition to Khartoum. After Graham’s victories, he requested that two squadrons of British cavalry should be sent to Berber, and 200 men to Wadi-Halfa. He himself remarked, he made these requests solely on account of the moral effect they would produce if acceded to.

It is difficult to know for what purpose the present expedition is sent, except it be to carry out the evacuation of this fertile country. It is to be hoped, however, in the interests of humanity, that the country may be retained under Egyptian rule, the more especially as Khartoum is as essential to Egypt as our frontier position at Quetta is to India. Under Egyptian rule it returned a surplus revenue of over £100,000.

The question of Zebehr requires no comment, and it is too long a subject to go into.

In conclusion, it may be observed that, while General Gordon would perhaps deprecate any notice being taken of the article referred to, yet in his absence his friends do not consider it should be allowed to pass unobserved.—Contemporary Review.

[Pg 95]



Going to Vienna to collect books and documents, with the intention of studying the results of Bosnia’s occupation by Austro-Hungary, I take the Rhine route, and stop two days at Würzburg to see Ludwig Noiré and have a talk on Schopenhauer. The Vater Rhein is now changed beyond recognition: quantum mutatus ab illo. How different all is to when I visited it for the first time, years ago on foot, stopping at the stages mentioned in Victor Hugo’s “Rhin,” which had just appeared. All those grand peeps of Nature to be got on the old river, as it forced its majestic way through barriers of riven rocks and volcanic upheavals, have now almost wholly disappeared. The wine-grower has planted his vineyards even in the most secluded nooks, and built stone terraces where the rocks were too steep for cultivation. All along the banks, these giant staircases climb to the summits of peaks and ravines. The vines have stormed the position, and their aspect is uniform. The Burgs, built on heaps of lava, “the Maus” and “the Katze,” those sombre retreats of the Burgraves of old, now covered with the green leaves of the vine, have lost their former wild aspect. The Lorelei manufactures white wine, and the syren no longer intoxicates sailors with the songs of her harp, but with the juice of the grape. There is nothing here now to inspire Victor Hugo’s “Burgraves,” or Heine’s

“Ich weiss nicht was soll es bedeuten, Dass ich so traurig bin; Ein Märchen aus alten Zeiten, Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.”

Below, engineering skill has dammed in the waters of the river, and the basaltic blocks form a black wall with white lines between the stones. Black and white! Even the old God of the Rhine has adopted the Prussian colors. Embankments have been constructed at the wide points of the river, for the purpose of increasing its depth, and of reconquering meadows, by the slow but natural process of raising the level by mud deposits. Between Mannheim and Cologne, the current has gained ten hours, and the dangers of navigation of legendary celebrity have disappeared. All along the embankments immense white figures inform navigators at what distance from them it is safe to pass. On each bank, too, runs a railway, and on the river itself pass steamers of every shape, form, and description—steamers with three decks, for tourists, as in the United States, little pleasure-boats, iron barges from Rotterdam, steam-tugs worked by paddle or screw, and dredgers of various proportions; all these hundreds of chimneys vomit a continuance of black smoke, which darkens the whole atmosphere. The carriage roads are in admirable order; not a rut is visible, and they are lined with fruit-trees, and with the same black and white basaltic blocks as the river. The Prussian colors again; but the aim is to point out the road for carriages on dark nights. When the way turns either to the right or the left, the trees on each side of it are painted white, so as to be distinctly visible. I have never anywhere seen a great river so thoroughly tamed, subdued, and utilized, so completely bent to man’s necessities. The free Rhine of Arminius and of the Burgraves is as well [Pg 96] disciplined as any grenadier of Brandenburg, The economist and the engineer admire, but painters and poets bewail.

Buffon, in a page published in every “Cours de Littérature,” sings a hosanna to cultivated Nature, and appears unable to find words strong enough to express his horror of Nature in its savage state, “brute” Nature as he calls it. At the present day, our impression is precisely the reverse of this. We seek on almost inaccessible summits, in the region of eternal snow, and in the very heart of hitherto unexplored continents, a spot where man has not yet penetrated, and where we may behold Nature in her inviolate virginity. We are stifled by civilization, wearied out with books, newspapers, reviews, and periodicals, letters to write and to read; railway travelling, the post, the telegraph, and the telephone, devour time and completely mince up one’s life; any solitude for fruitful reflection is quite out of the question. Shall I find it, at least, among the fir-trees of the Carpathians, or beneath the shade of the old oaks of the Balkans? Industry is spoiling and soiling our planet. Chemical produce poisons the water, the dross from different works and factories covers the country, quarries split up the picturesque slopes of valleys, black coal smoke dulls the verdant foliage and the azure of the sky, the drainage of large cities turns our rivers into sewers, whence emerge the germs of typhus. The useful destroys the beautiful; and this is so general as at times to bring tears to the eyes. Have not the Italians on the lovely Isle of Sta. Heléna, near to the public gardens in Venice, erected works for the building of engines, and replaced the ruins of a fourth-century church by chimneys, whose opaque smoke, produced by the detestable bituminous coal of the Saar, would soon leave a sooty trace on the pink marble of the Doge’s palace and on the mosaics of St. Mark, just as we see them on St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, so ugly covered with sticky streaks. It is true that the produce of this industrial activity becomes condensed in revenue, which enriches many families, and adds considerably to the list of the bourgeois population inhabiting the capital. Here, on the banks of the Rhine, these revenues are represented by villas and castles, whose pseudo-Greek or Gothic architecture peeps out from among masses of exotic trees and plants in the most sought-after positions, near to Bonn, Godesberg, St. Goar or Bingen. Look! there is an immense feudal castle, beside which Stolzenfels, the Empress Augusta’s favorite residence, would be a mere shooting box. This immense assemblage of turrets, galleries, roofs, and terraces must have cost at least £80,000. Has it sprung from coal or from Bessemer steel? It is situated just below the noble ruin of Drachenfels. Will not the dragon watching over the Niebelungen treasure in Nifelheim’s den, avenge this impertinent challenge of modern plutocracy?

All that I see on my way up the Rhine leads me to reflect on the special characteristics of Prussian administration. The works which have so marvellously “domesticated” the river as to make it a type of what Pascal calls “un chemin qui marche,” have taken between thirty and forty years, and have been carried out continuously, systematically and scientifically. In her public works, as in her military preparations, Prussia has succeeded in uniting two qualities which are only too often lacking—a spirit of consistency, and the love of progress. The desire to be as near as possible to perfection is apparent in the most minute details. Not unfrequently consistency, and a too close following of traditions, leads to routine which rejects innovations. Great strength is attained, and the chances of success are considerably increased if, while one aim is kept always in view, the best means to attain it are selected and applied without delay.

I have remarked, when speaking of parliamentary administration, that a lack of consistency was one reason of the feebleness of democracies. This should be guarded against as soon as it becomes apparent, or inferiority will ensue. A few trifling facts will show that the Prussians are as great lovers of useful novelties and of practical improvement as the Americans. On the Rhine, at the ferries the old ferry-boats have been replaced by little steamers, which are constantly [Pg 97] crossing the river from one side to the other. At the railway stations, I notice that the trucks for luggage are made of steel, and are lighter and stronger than any I have seen elsewhere. The system for warming the railway compartments is also more perfected. Heated pipes run under the seats of the carriages, and the passengers can regulate the temperature by turning a needle on a disc from Kalt (cold) to Warm or vice-versâ. At the summit of the tower of the Town Hall of Berlin the different flagstaffs for the flags hoisted on the fête days are ranged in order. Outside the highest gallery iron rings have been fitted all round in which to fix the staffs, each of which has a number corresponding to the same number on the ring it is to fit into. In this manner both rapidity and regularity are insured. Order and foresight are safe means to an end.

I intended going to see at Stuttgart a former member of the Austrian Cabinet, Albert Schüffle, who now devotes all his time to the study of social questions, and has published some very well-known works—among others, “Capitalismus und Socialismus,” and “Bau und Leben des Socialen Körpers” (“Construction and Life of the Social Body”), books which place him at the extreme left of Professorial Socialism. Unfortunately, he is at the baths in the Black Forest. But I stop at Würzburg to meet Ludwig Noiré, a philosopher and philologist, who has deigned to study political economy. The sight of the socialistic pass to which democratic tendencies are leading modern society, induces many philosophers to turn their attention to social questions. This is the case in France with Jules Simon, Paul Janet, Taine, Renouvier; in England with Herbert Spencer, William Graham, and even with that æstheticist of pre-Raphaelite art, Ruskin.

I hold that political economy should go hand in hand with philosophy, religion, and especially with morality; but as I cannot myself rise to these elevated spheres of thought, I am only too happy when a philosopher throws me out a bit of cord by which I may pull myself a little higher, above our workaday world. Ludwig Noiré has written a book, which is exactly what I needed in this respect, and which I hope to be able to speak of at greater length a little later. It is entitled “Das Werkzeug” (“The Tool”). It shows the truth of Franklin’s saying: Man is a tool-making creature. Noiré says that the origin of tools dates from the origin of Reason and Language. At the commencement, as far back as one can conceive, man was forced to act on matter to obtain food. This action on Nature for the purpose of satisfying wants is labor. As men were living together in families and in tribes, labor was carried on in common. A person making a muscular effort very naturally pronounces certain sounds in connection with the effort he is making. These sounds, repeated and heard by the entire group, were after a time understood to signify the action of which they were the spontaneous accompaniment. Thus was language born from natural activity in view of supplying imperious needs, and the verb representing the action preceded all their words. The effort to procure the necessary and useful develops the reasoning powers, and tools soon became necessary. Wherever traces of prehistoric men are found, there is also to be found the flint implement. Thus reason, language, labor, and implements, all manifestations of an intelligence capable of progress, appeared almost simultaneously.

Noiré has developed this theory fully in another book, entitled, “Ursprung der Sprache” (“Origin of Speech”). When it was published, Max Müller stated in the Contemporary Review, that, although he considered this system too exclusive, yet it was far superior to either the onomatopœia or the interjection theory, and that it was certainly the best and the most probable one brought forward at present. I can but bow before this appreciation.

Noiré is a fanatical Kantian, and an enthusiastic admirer of Schopenhauer. He has succeeded in forming a committee for the purpose of erecting a statue in honor of the modern Heraclites. The committee, he says, must be international, for if as a writer Schopenhauer be German, as a philosopher he belongs to the entire world, and he asked me to join it. “I am exceedingly flattered by the proposal,” said I; “but I offer two objections.” In the first place, a humble economist has [Pg 98] not the right to place his name side by side with such as are already on the list. Secondly, being an incurable disciple of Platonism, I fear that Schopenhauer did not remain in the Cartesian line of spiritualism. I feel persuaded that two notions, which, it appears, are at the present day very old-fashioned—I speak of a belief in God and in the soul’s immortality—should form the basis of all social science. He who believes in nothing but matter cannot rise to a notion of what ‘ought to be’—i. e., to an ideal of right and justice. This ideal can only be conceived as a divine order of things imposing itself morally on mankind. The ‘Revue Philosophique’ of October, 1882, says, ‘Positive Science, as understood at the present day, considers not what should be, but only what is. It searches merely the formula of facts. All idea of obligation, or of imperative prohibition, is completely foreign to its code. Such a creed is a death-stroke to all notion of duty. I believe that faith in a future life is indispensable for the accomplishment of good works. Materialism weakens the moral sense, and naturally leads to general decay.’

“Yes,” replied Noiré, “this is just the problem. How, side by side with the dire necessities of Nature, or with Divine omnipotence, can there be place for human personality and liberty? Nobody, neither Christian nor Naturalist, has yet been able satisfactorily to answer this. Hence has sprung, on the one hand, the predestination of the Calvinists and Luther’s De servo arbitrio, and, on the other, determinism and materialism. Kant is the first mortal who fearlessly studied this problem and studied it satisfactorily. He plunged into the abyss, like the diver of Schiller, and returned, having vanquished the monsters he found there, and holding in his hand the golden cup from which henceforward Humanity may drink the Divine beverage of Truth. As nothing can be of greater interest to us than the solution of this problem, so our gratitude, be it ever so considerable, can never possibly equal the service rendered by this really prodigious effort of the human mind. Kant has provided us with the only arm which can combat materialism. It is full time we should make use of it, for this detestable doctrine is everywhere undermining the foundations of human society. I venerate the memory of Schopenhauer, because he has inspired the truths revealed by Kant with more real life and penetrating vigor. Schopenhauer is not well known in either France or England. Some of his works have been translated, but no one has really understood him thoroughly, because to understand a philosopher it is necessary not only to admire but to be passionately attached to him. ‘The folly of the Cross’ is an admirable expression.

“Schopenhauer maintains that the will is the great source of all; it means both personality and liberty. We are here at once planted at the antipodes of naturalistic determinism. Free intelligence creates matter. Spiritus in nobis qui viget, ille facit. God is the great ideal. He does not make us move, but moves Himself in us. The more we appropriate to ourselves this Ideal, the freer we become; we are the reasonable and conscious authors of our actions, and liberty consists in this. Schopenhauer’s moral law is precisely that of Christianity—a law of abnegation, of resignation and asceticism. What Christians call Charity, he designates as ‘Pity.’ He exhorts his followers to struggle against self-will; not to let their eyes dwell on the passing delusions of the outside world, but to seek their soul’s peace by sacrificing all pursuits and interests which should fix their attentions solely on the changing scenes of this life. Are not these also the Gospel principles? Must they be rejected because Buddha also preached them? ‘The sovereign proof of the truth of my doctrines,’ says Schopenhauer, ‘is the number of Christian persons who have abandoned all their earthly treasure, position and riches, and have embraced voluntary poverty, devoting themselves wholly to the service of the poor and the sick and needy, undaunted in their work of charity by the most frightful wounds, the most revolting complaints. Their happiness consists in self-abnegation, in their indifference to the pleasures of this life, in their living faith, in the immortality of their being, and in a future of endless bliss.’ [Pg 99]

“The chief aim of Kant’s metaphysics,” proceeds Noiré, “is to fix a limit to the circle that can be embraced by man’s reason. ‘We resemble,’ he says, ‘fish in a pond, who can see, just to the edge of the water, the banks that imprison them, but are perfectly ignorant of all that is beyond.’ Schopenhauer goes farther than Kant. ‘True,’ he says, ‘we can only see the world from outside, and as a phenomenon, but there is one little loophole left open to us by which we can get a peep at substantial realities, and this loophole is each individual “Myself,” revealed to us as “Will,” which gives us the key to the “Transcendent.” You say, dear colleague, that you are incurably Platonic; are you not then aware Schopenhauer constantly refers to the ‘divine’ Plato, and to the incomparable, the prodigious, der erstaunliche Kant. His great merit is to have defended idealism against all the wild beasts which Dante met with in the dark forest, nella selva oscura’ into which he had strayed—materialism and sensualism, and their worthy offspring selfishness and bestiality. Nothing can be more false or dangerous than physics without metaphysics, and yet this truth proclaimed at the present day by great men merely provokes a laugh. The notion of duty is based on metaphysics. Nothing in Nature teaches it, and physics are silent on the subject. Nature is pitiless; brute force triumphs there. The better armed destroys and devours his less favored brother. Where then is right and justice? Materialists adopt as their motto the words which Frenchmen falsely accuse our Chancellor of having uttered, ‘Might is Right.’ Schopenhauer’s ‘Pity,’ Christian ‘Charity,’ the philosopher’s and jurist’s ‘Justice,’ are diametrically opposed to instinct and the voice of Nature, which urge us to sacrifice everything to the satisfaction of animal appetites. Read the eloquent conclusion of the book of Lange, ‘Geschichte des Materialismus.’ If materialism be not vanquished while it is yet time, all the law courts, prisons, bayonets and grape-shot in the world will not suffice to prevent the downfall of the social edifice. This pernicious doctrine must be banished from the brains of learned men, where it now reigns supreme. It has started from thence, and has gradually obtained a hold on the public mind. It is the duty of true philosophy to save the world.”

“But,” I replied, “Schopenhauer’s philosophy will never be comprehended but by a small minority; for myself, I humbly confess I have never read but fragments translated.”

“It is a pity you have never perused the original,” answered Noiré, “the style is exceedingly clear and simple. He is one of our best writers. He has exposed the most abstruse problems in the best possible terms. No one has more thoroughly justified the truth of what our Jean Paul said of Plato, Bacon and Leibnitz, the most learned reflection need not exclude a brilliant setting to show it off in relief, any more than a learned brain excludes a fine forehead and a fine face. Unfortunately, M. de Hartmann, who popularized Schopenhauer, has too frequently rendered his ideas unintelligible by his Hegelian Jargon. Schopenhauer could not endure Hegelianism. Like an Iconoclast, he smashed to shivers its idols with a heavy club. He approved of violent expressions, and indulged in very strong terms. So, for instance, he liked what he calls die göttliche Grobheit, ‘divine coarseness.’ At the same time, he praises elegance and good manners, and even, strange to say, has translated a little manual on ‘The Way to Behave in Society,’ ‘El Oraculo Manual,’ published in 1658, by the Jesuit, Baltasar Gracian. ‘There was a time,’ he writes, ‘when Germany’s three great sophists, Fichte, Schelling, and especially Hegel, that seller of senselessness, der freche unsinnige Schmierer, that impertinent scribbler, imagined they would appear learned by becoming obscure. This shameless humbug succeeded in winning the adulations of the multitude. He reigned at the Universities, where his style was imitated. Hegelianism became a religion, and a most intolerant one. Whosoever was not Hegelian was suspected even by the Prussian State. All these good gentlemen were in quest of the Absolute, and pretended that they had found it, and brought it home in their carpet-bags.’

“Kant maintainedthat human reason can only grasp the relative. ‘Error,’ cry in chorus Hegel, Schelling, Jacobi and Schleiermacher, and tutti quanti. [Pg 100] ‘The Absolute! Why, I know it intimately; it has no secrets from me,’ and the different universities became the scenes of revolutions of the Absolute which stirred all Germany. If it were proposed to attempt to recall these illustrious maniacs to their right reason, the question was asked, ‘Do you adequately comprehend the Absolute?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then hold your tongue; you are a bad Christian and a dangerous subject. Beware of the stronghold.’ The unfortunate Beneke was so startled by this treatment that he went mad and drowned himself. Finally these great authorities quarrelled between themselves. They informed each other that they knew nothing of the Absolute. A quarrel on this subject was very often deadly. These battles resemble the discussion at Toledo between the Rabbi and the Monk in Heine’s ‘Romancero.’ After they had both lengthily discussed and quarrelled, the king said to the queen: ‘Which of the two do you think is right?’ ‘I think,’ replied the queen, ‘that they both smell equally unpleasantly.’

“This nebulous system of the Hegelian Absolute-seekers, reminding one of Nephclokokkygia, ‘the town in the clouds,’ in Aristophanes’ ‘Birds,’ has become a proverb with our French neighbors, who very rightly are fond of clearness. When anything seems to them unintelligible, they dub it as German metaphysics. Cousin did his best to clarify all this indigestible stuff, and serve it up in a palatable form. But in so doing he lost, not his Latin, but his German and his French. I am sure you never understood that ‘pure Being’ was identical with ‘no Being.’ Do you recollect Grimm’s story, ‘The Emperor’s Robe?’ A tailor condemned to death promised, in order to obtain his pardon, to make the Emperor the finest robe ever seen. He stitched, and stitched, and stitched ceaselessly, and finally announced that the robe was ready, but that it was invisible to all, save to wise people. All the servants, officers, and chamberlains of the court came to examine this work of art with the ministers and high dignitaries, and one and all pronounced it magnificent. On the coronation day the Emperor is supposed to put on the costume, and rides through the town in procession. The streets and windows are crowded; no one will admit that he has less wisdom than his neighbor, and all repeat; ‘How magnificent! Was ever anything seen so lovely?’ At last a little child calls out, ‘But the Emperor is naked,’ and it was then admitted that the robe had never existed, and the tailor was hanged.

“Schopenhauer is the child revealing the misery, or rather the non-existence of Hegelianism, and his writings were consequently unappreciated for upwards of thirty years. The first edition of his most important work found its way to the grocer’s shop and thence to the rubbish heap. It is our duty to-day to make amends for such injustice, and to render him the honor which is his due; his pessimism need not stay you. ‘The world,’ he says, ‘is full of evil, and all suffer here below. Man’s will is by nature perverse.’ Is not this doctrine the very essence of Christianity? Ingemui tomnis creatura. He maintains that our natural will is selfish and bad, but that, by an effort over itself, it may become purified and rise above its natural state to a state of grace, of holiness, of which the Church speaks, δευτἑρος πλὁυς. This is the deliverance, the Redemption, for which pious souls long, and it is to be attained by an indifference to and condemnation of the world and of self. Spernere mundum, spernere se, spernere se sperni.[54]

Before leaving Würzburg I visit the Palace, formerly the residence of the Prince-Bishops, and also several churches. The Palace, die Residenz, is immense, and seems the more so when one reflects that it was destined to ornament the chief town of a small bishopric. Built [Pg 101] between the years 1720 and 1744, after the plan of the palace of Versailles, it is very nearly as large. There is not such another staircase to be found anywhere. This, and the hall which precedes it, occupy the entire width of the building and a third of its length, and the effect is really of imperial magnificence. The trains of crowds of cassocked prelates and fine ladies could sweep here with ease. The cut stone balustrades are ornamented with statues. There is a suite of 350 reception-rooms—all for show, none for use. A certain number of these were decorated at the time of the French Empire. How mean the paintings on the ceilings, the pseudo-classic walls, and the mahogany furniture with brass ornaments, appear when compared to the apartments completed at the beginning of the eighteenth century, where the “chicorée” ornamentation exhibits all its seductions. I have never seen, all over Europe, anything in this style so perfect or better preserved. The curtains are in material of the period, and the chairs, sofas, and arm-chairs are covered to match. Each room is of a dominant color. There is a green one with metallic shades, like the wings of a Brazilian beetle. The broché silk on the furniture is to correspond. The effect is magical. In another, splendid Gobelin tapestry, after Lebrun, represents the triumph and the clemency of Alexander. Another, again, is all mirrors, even to the door-panels, but groups of flowers in oil-painting on the glass temper the excessive brilliancy. The stoves are really marvels of inventive genius and good taste, all in white and gold Saxony china. The blacksmith’s art never produced anything finer than the immense wrought-iron gates which enclose the pleasure-grounds, with their terraces, lawns, grass-plots, fountains, and rustic retreats. This princely residence, which has been almost invariably vacant since the suppression of episcopal sovereignty, has remained perfectly intact. It has been deteriorated neither by popular insurrections nor by changes in taste. What finished models of the style of the Regency architects and furniture makers could find here to copy from!

The contemplation of all these grandeurs suggests two questions to my mind. Where did these Sovereigns of tiny States find the money to furnish themselves with splendors and luxuries which Louis XIV. might have envied? My colleague, George Schanz, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Würzburg, informs me that these bishops had scarcely any troops to maintain. “Make,” he says, “builders, joiners, upholsterers, and carpenters of all our soldiers all over the land at the present day, and Germany might soon be covered with such palaces.”

Second question: How could these bishops, disciples of Him “who had not where to lay His head,” spend the money raised by taxation of the poor, on pomps and luxury worthy of a Darius or a Heliogabalus? Had they not read the Gospel condemnation of Dives, and the commentaries of the Church’s Fathers? Was the Christian doctrine of humility and of charity, even to voluntary property, only understood in monasteries and convents? Those grandees of the Church must have been completely blinded by the mistaken sophism which leads to the belief that extravagance and waste benefits the working man, the real producer. This unfortunate error is only too harmful at the present day.

During the eighteenth century the majority of the churches of Würzburg were completely spoilt by being ornamented in that Louis XV. style, suited only to the interior of palaces. As Boileau says, “ce ne sont que festons, ce ne sont qu’astragales,” gothic arches disappear beneath garlands of flowers, clouds with angel’s draperies in relief and interlacings of “chicorée,” the whole in plaster and covered with gilding. The altars are frequently entirely gilt. It is a perfect profusion of make-believe riches. In the towns the façades of some houses here and there are finished examples of this florid architecture. Doubtless the radiance of Versailles magnificence urged Germany to decorate her monuments and dwellings “à la Française,” even after the Sun there had set.

From my windows, which look out on to the square before the palace, I see a battalion of troops march past to exercise. Even the guards at Berlin could not march more automatically. The legs and the left arm move exactly together, while the guns are held precisely at the same [Pg 102] angle by each soldier. Their steel barrels form a perfectly straight line as they glisten in the sunshine. The ranks of soldiers are absolutely rectilinear. The whole move in a body as if they were fastened on to a rail. It is perfection. What care and pains must have been bestowed before such a result could be attained! The Bavarians have naturally done their very best to equal and even to surpass the Prussians. They do not choose to be esteemed any longer as mere beer-drinkers, heavy, and somewhat dense. I wonder if this exceedingly severe drill, so effective on parade, is of use on a battle-field of the present day, where it is usual to disperse to attack. I am not competent to answer this question, but it is certain that rigid discipline accustoms the soldier to order and obedience; two very necessary virtues, especially in a democratic age. Obedience is still more wanted when the iron hand of despotism gives place to the authority of magistrates and laws. The mission of schools and military service is to teach this lesson to the citizens of Republics. The more the chief power loosens its hold, the more should free man bend at once to the exigencies necessary for the maintenance of order in the State. If this be not so, anarchy will result, and a return to despotism is then inevitable, for anarchy cannot be tolerated.

In the evening the sound of bugles is heard. It is the retreat sounding for the garrison troops. It is a melancholy farewell to the day passing away, and, religious, like a call to rest, from the night, which is fast falling. Alas! how sad it is to think that these trumpets thus harmoniously sounding the curfew will one day give the signal for battle and bloodshed! Men are still as savage as wild beasts, and with less motive, for they no longer devour their slaughtered enemy. I am a member of at least four societies whose object is to preach peace and recommend arbitration. No one listens to us. Even free nations prefer to fight. I admit perfectly that when the security or the existence of a country is at stake, it is impossible to have recourse to arbitration, although its decisions would be at least as just as those of violence and chance; but there are cases which I call “Jenkins’s ears,” since reading Carlyle’s “Frederic the Great.”[55] In such as these, where the question is one of amour propre, of obstinacy, and frequently, I may say, also, of stupidity, arbitration might often prevent conflicts.

But if man is still hard on his fellow, he has become more tender towards animals. He has forbidden their being uselessly tortured. I take note of a touching example of this. I walk up to the Citadel, whence there is a splendid view over all Franconia. I cross the bridge over the Maine. In a street where the quaint pinions of the houses and gaudy sign-posts over the doors would delight the eye of a painter, I see a sort of sentry-box, on which is written in large characters, Theirschutz-Verein (“Society for the Protection of Animals”). A horse is standing there. Why? To be at the disposal of waggoners with a heavy load who are going up the slope to the bridge, and thus to prevent them ill-treating their horses. This seems to me far more ingenious and efficacious than the infliction of a fine.

Würzburg is not an industrial town. There appears to be no special reason why the population and the wealth of the city should increase rapidly, and yet the old town is surrounded with fine new quarters, fashionable squares, pretty walks and fine wide streets, handsome [Pg 103] houses and villas. Here, as elsewhere, that singular phenomenon of our age, the immense increase in the number of well-to-do families, is distinctly apparent. If this continue in the same proportions, the “masses” of the future will not be composed of those who live on wages and salaries, but of those living on profit, interest, or revenue. Revolutions will become impossible, for the established order of things would have more protectors than assailants. These countless comfortable residences, these edifices of all kinds which spring up in every direction, with their luxurious and opulent appointments, all this wealth and well-being, is the result of the employment of machinery. Machinery increases production and economizes labor, and as the wages of labor have not diminished, the number of those who could live without working has increased.

Würzburg possesses an ancient University. It is a very old sixteenth-century building, situated in the centre of the town. As they recently did me the honor to confer on me the degree of Doctor honoris causa, I wished to see the Rector to offer him my thanks, but I had not the good fortune to meet him. On the Boulevard, special institutes have been constructed for each separate science, for chemistry, physics, and physiology. Immense sums have been spent in Germany to add a number of those separate institutes to the different Universities. The eminent professor of chemistry at Bonn, M. Kekulé, recently took me over the building constructed for his branch of science. With its Greek columns, and its palatial façade, it is considerably more extensive than the whole of the old University. The subsoil devoted to experimental and metallurgical chemistry resembles immense works or foundries. The professor’s apartments are far more sumptuous than those of the first authorities. Neither the Governor, the Bishop, nor even the General himself, can boast of anything to be compared with them. In the drawing-rooms and dancing saloons the whole town might be assembled. This Institute has cost more than a million francs. In Germany it is very rightly considered that a professor who has experiments to make ought to live in the same building where are the laboratories and lecture-rooms. It is only thus that he is able to follow analyses which need his supervision, at times even at night. Comparative anatomy and physiology have also each their palace. Several professors of natural sciences complain that it is really an excess. They say they are crushed by the extent and complications of their appurtenances, and especially by the cares and responsibilities they involve; nevertheless, if exaggeration there be, it is on the right side. Bacon’s motto, “Knowledge is Power,” becomes truer every day. The proper application of science is the chief source of wealth, and, consequently, of power. Nations, do you wish to be powerful and rich? Then encourage to the utmost your learned men.

I stop a day en route to revisit Nuremberg, the Pompeii of the Middle Ages. I will not speak of its many interesting churches, houses, towers, of the Woolding Chamber, nor of the terrible Iron Virgin, covered inside with spikes, like Regulus’ barrel, which, in closing, pierced its victim through and through, and opened to drop the corpse into the torrent roaring a hundred feet below. Nothing gives a more vivid idea of the refined cruelty of these dark ages. But I have no wish to encroach upon Baedeker’s prerogative. A word only as to what I see before the cathedral. I observe there a small Gothic monument, which reminds me of the Roman column of Igel, on the Mosel, near Trèves. It has a niche on each of the four sides, under glass. In the first niche is a thermometer, in the second an hygrometer, in the third a barometer, and in the fourth the day’s telegrams from the observatory, and the meteorological maps. These instruments are enormous, from four to five feet in height at least, so that the figures may be large enough to be clearly legible. I have seen similar monuments in several German towns, and in Switzerland, at Geneva, in the gardens near the Rhone, at Vevey, close to the landing-stage, and at Neuchatel, on the promenade near the lake. It would be excellent if all towns would adopt them. I take every opportunity of urging this. Their cost is but trifling. A perfectly plain one can be made for £40, something more elegant might cost £80 or £100; they are a source of [Pg 104] amusement and a means of instructing the people, and a daily lesson in physics for all classes. The laboring man learns there far better than he would do at school the practical use of these instruments, which are most useful for agricultural purposes and for sanitary precautions.

Towards midnight I go on foot to the railway station, to take the express to Vienna. The old castle throws a black shadow over the town, the roofs of which seem to whiten in the silvery moonlight. This, I say to myself, is the birthplace of the Hohenzollern family. What a change has taken place in its destiny since its name first appeared in history, in 1170, when Conrad of Hohenzollern was made Burgraaf of Nuremberg! One of his descendants, Frederick, first Elector, left this town in 1412 to take possession of Brandenburg, which the spendthrift Emperor Sigismund had sold him for 400,000 florins of Hungarian gold. He had already borrowed half this sum from Frederick, who was as economical as the ant, and had even mortgaged the electorate as security. Being unable to repay his debt, and in want of more money to defray the costs of an expedition to Spain, he very willingly yielded up this inhospitable northern “Mark,” the sands of the “Marquis of Brandenburg,” which Voltaire so turned into ridicule. The Emperor could not suppose that from this petty Burgrave would spring a future wearer of the imperial crown. Economy is a small virtue made up of small privations, but which makes much of little—Molti pochi fanno un assai—“Mony a pickle maks a mickle,” as the Scotch say. Though far too often forgotten or ignored by rulers, it is nevertheless even more necessary for nations than for individuals.

A short June night is soon passed in a sleeping car. I wake up and find myself in Austria. I perceive it at once from the delicious coffee and cream which is served me in a glass, by a fair young girl in a pink print dress and with bare arms. It very nearly equals in quality that of the Posthof at Carlsbad. We are very soon in view of the Danube, but the railway does not keep alongside it. Whatever the well-known waltz, “The Blue Danube,” may say to the contrary, the river is not blue at all. Its waters are yellow-green, like the Rhine, but how infinitely more picturesque is the “Donau!” No vineyards, no factories, and very few steamers. I saw but one, making its way with difficulty against the rapid current. The hills on either side are covered with forests and green meadows, and the branches of the willow trees sweep the water. The farm-houses, very far apart, have a rustic and mountain-like appearance. There is very little movement, very little trade; the peasant is still the chief producer of riches. On this lovely summer morning the sweet repose of this peaceful existence seduces and penetrates me. How delightful it would be to live quietly here, near these pine forests, and these beautiful meadows, where the cattle are at pasture! But on the other side of the river where there is no railway! There are several reasons for this great contrast between the Rhine and the Danube. The Rhine flows towards Holland and England, two markets that have been well established for upwards of three hundred years, and ready to pay a high price for all the river brings them. The Danube flows towards the Black Sea, where the population is exceedingly poor, and can scarcely afford to purchase what we should call here the necessaries of life. The produce of Hungary, even live cattle, is taken westward by rail to London. The transport by water is too long. Secondly, coal, the indispensable fuel of all modern industry, is cheaper on the Rhine than anywhere else. And thirdly, the Rhine, ever since the Roman conquest and at the earliest period of the Middle Ages, has been a centre of civilization, whereas that portion of the Danube the most valuable for traffic was, until yesterday, in the hands of the Turks.

At the Amstett Station I purchased the Vienna Neue Freie Presse, which is, I think, with the Pester Lloyd, the best edited and the pleasantest paper to read in the German language. The Kölnische Zeitung is exceedingly well-informed, and the Allgemeine Zeitung is also as complete and interesting as possible; but it is a terrible pell-mell of subjects, a dreadful muddle, where, for instance, many little paragraphs from France or Paris are disseminated haphazard in [Pg 105] the six sheets. I would rather read three Times’ than one Kölnische, in spite of the respect with which that paper inspires me. I have scarcely unfolded my Neue Freie Presse than I find myself in the very heart of the struggle of nationalities, just as I was sixteen years previously, only that the strife is no longer, as it then was, between Magyars and Germans. The Deak dual compromise created a modus vivendi, which is still in force. The dispute is now between Tchecks and Germans on the one hand, and between Magyars and Croatians on the other. The Minister Taaffe has decided to dissolve the Bohemian Parliament and there will be fresh elections. The national and feudal Tchecks banding together will overthrow the Germans, who will no longer possess more than a third of the votes in the Diet. The Freie Presse is perfectly disconsolate at this, and foresees the most terrible disasters in consequence: if not the end of the world, at least the upset of the monarchy. On account of these warnings, the numbers are seized by Government order three or four times a month, even although it be the organ of the Austrian “bourgeoisie.” It is Liberal, but very moderate, like the Débats and the Temps in France. After two or three months have elapsed, the numbers seized are returned to the editor, only fit for the waste-paper basket. These confiscations (for they are, in fact, nothing more nor less, although effected through the Administration) are absolutely contrary to the law, as is proved by the reiterated acquittals. Their constant recurrence reminds one of the worst periods of the French Empire. Applied to a newspaper that defends Austrian interests with so much skill as the Freie Presse, they are more than surprising. If my friend, Eugène Pelletan, were aware of this he would no longer claim for France “liberty as in Austria,” for which saying he suffered at the time three months’ imprisonment. It is said that the influence of the Tchecks dictates these confiscations, and this alone is sufficient to show the violence of the enmity between the races. The Viennese with whom I travel declare that this enmity is far less bitter than it was fifteen years ago. At that period, I tell them, I travelled across the country without meeting a single Austrian. I met with Magyars, Croatians, Saxons, Tchecks, Tyrolians, Poles, Ruthenians, Dalmatians, but never with Austrians. The common country was ignored, the race was all in all. At the present day, my fellow-travellers tell me this is very much subdued. You will find plenty of excellent Austrians, they say, to-day amongst the Magyars, and to-morrow amongst the Tchecks.

The reader will permit a short digression here touching this nationality question. You meet with it everywhere in the dual Empire. It is the great preoccupation of the present, and it will be in fact the chief agent in determining the future of the population of the banks of the Danube and the Balkan peninsula. You Englishmen cannot well understand the full force of this feeling which is so strong in Eastern countries. England is for you your country, for which you live and for which, if needs, you die. This love of country is a religion which survives even when all other faith or religion has ceased to exist. It is the same in France. M. Thiers who, as a rule, so thoroughly grasped situations, never realized the immense force of these aspirations of races, which completely rearranged, before his eyes, the map of Europe on the nationality footing. Cavour and Bismarck were, however, well aware of this, and knew how to take advantage of this sentiment, in creating the unity of Italy and of Germany.

One evening, Jules Simon took me to call on M. Thiers, in rue St. Honoré, who asked me to explain the Flemish movement in Belgium. I did so, and he seemed to consider the question as most unimportant, quite childish in fact, and very much behind the age. He was at once both right and wrong. He was right because true union is one of minds, not of blood. Christ’s saying is here admirably applicable: “Whosoever shall do the will of God the same is my brother and sister and mother” (St. Mark iii. 35).

I grant that mixed nationalities which, without consideration of diversity of language and race, rest, as in Switzerland, on an identity of historical reminiscences, of civilization and liberty, are of a superior order; they are types and forerunners of the final fusion when [Pg 106] all mankind will be but one great family, or rather a federation. But M. Thiers, being idealistic, like a true son of the French Revolution, was wrong in not taking into account things as they actually are, and the exigencies of the transitory situation.

This awakening of nationalities is the inevitable outcome of the development of democracy, of the press, and of literary culture. An autocrat may govern twenty different peoples without in the least troubling himself as to their language or race; but if once assemblies be introduced, everything is changed. Speech governs. Then what language is to be spoken? That of the people of course. Will you educate the young? It must be done in their mother tongue. Is justice to be administered? You cannot judge a man in a foreign language. You wish to represent him in Parliament and ask for his votes; the least he can claim in return is that he may understand what you say. And thus by degrees the language of the multitude gains ground and is adopted in Parliament, law-courts, and schools of every degree. In Finland, for instance, the struggle is between the Swedes, who form the well-to-do classes and live in the towns on the coast, and the rural population who are Finns. When visiting the country with the son of the eminent linguist, Castrén, who died while in Asia seeking out the origin of the Finn language, I found that the latter was more spoken than Swedish, even in the suburbs of large towns such as Abö and Helsingfors. All official inscriptions are in the two languages. The instruction in the communal schools is almost entirely in the Finn tongue. There are Finn gymnasiums, and even at the University, lectures in this language. There is also a national theatre, where I heard “Martha” sung in Finn. In Gallicia, Polish has completely replaced German; but the Ruthenians have also put in a claim for their idiom. In Bohemia the Tcheck dialect triumphs so completely that German is in danger of being wholly cast aside. At the opening of the Bohemian Diet, the Governor made a speech in Tcheck and one in German. At Prague a Tcheck University has recently been opened next to the German one. The clergy, the feudals, and the population are strongly in favor of this national movement. The Archbishop of Prague, the Prince of Schwarzenberg, although himself a German, appoints none but Tcheck priests, even in the North of Bohemia where Germans dominate.

It is certain that in countries where two races are thus intermingled, this growing feeling must occasion endless dissensions, and almost insurmountable difficulties. It is a disadvantage to speak the idiom of a small number, for it is a cause of isolation. It would certainly be far better if but three or four languages were spoken in Europe, and better still if but one were generally adopted; but, until this acme of unity be attained, every free people called upon to establish self-government, will claim rights for its mother tongue, and will try to unite itself with those who speak it, unless the nation be already fully satisfied with its mixed but historical nationality like Switzerland and Belgium. Austria and the Balkan peninsula are now agitated with these claims for the use of the national tongue, and with aspirations for the formation of States based on the ethnic groups.

As we near Vienna the train runs through the most lovely country. A succession of small valleys, with little streamlets rippling through them, and on either side green lawns between the hills covered with woods, chiefly firs and oaks. One might imagine oneself in Styria or in Upper Bavaria. Soon, however, houses make their appearance, often charming châlets buried in creeping plants, “Gloire de Dijon” roses, or jessamine and clematis. These become more and more frequent, and, near the suburban stations, there are quite little hamlets of villas. I know of no capital with such beautiful suburbs, save perhaps Stockholm. Nothing could be more delightful than Baden, Möoling, Brühl, Schönbrun, and all those little rustic nooks south of Vienna, on the road to the Sömering.—Contemporary Review.

[Pg 107]



During several weeks in the early part of this year, the attention of the English public was fixed with intense anxiety on the fortunes of one man, who had undertaken a perilous mission in the service of his country. When the Egyptian difficulty was at its worst, General Gordon had started for Khartoum, to aid the Government, by his personal influence, in the policy of rescuing the garrisons and retiring from the Soudan. The journey, while it reflected fresh honor on him, necessarily imposed a grave responsibility on those who had sanctioned it. Any moment might bring the news of his death. If such news came, it was generally thought and said, the Ministry would fall. In a country with the temperament of England, the mere existence of such a belief set one thinking. A year ago, Gordon’s name, though familiar to the well-informed classes, would not have acted like a spell on the nation. But a popular biography of him which had appeared had given occasion for much writing in the newspapers. A short time had sufficed to make the broad facts of his career known throughout the length and breadth of the land. People knew that he had welded a loose Chinese rabble into an army which saved the reigning dynasty of China; that, alone of Christians, he is named in the prayers of Mecca; that he does not care for personal rewards; that he is fearless of death; and that he trusts in God. To impress these facts on the popular imagination had been the work of a few weeks; to concentrate the force of popular opinion, if he had been sacrificed, would have been the work of a few hours. Seldom, perhaps, has anything illustrated more vividly that great and distinctive condition of modern existence in free countries,—the double power wielded by the newspaper press, at once as the ubiquitous instructor and as the rapid interpreter of a national mind. It was natural at such a time, for one whose pursuits suggested the comparison, to look from the modern to the ancient world, and to attempt some estimate of the interval which separates them in this striking and important respect. In the ancient civilisations, were there any agencies which exercised a power analogous in kind, though not comparable in degree, to that of the modern press? To begin with, we feel at once that the despotic monarchies of the ancient East will not detain us long. For them, national opinion normally meant the opinion of the king. We know the general manner of record which is found graven on stone, in connection with the images or symbols of those monarchs. As doctors seem still to differ a good deal about the precise translation of so many of those texts, it might be rash to quote any, but this is the sort of style which seems to prevail among the royal authors: “He came up with chariots. He said that he was my first cousin. He lied. I impaled him. I am Artakhshatrá. I flayed his uncles, his brothers, and his cousins. I am the king, the son of Daryavush. I crucified two thousand of the principal inhabitants. I am the shining one, the great and the good.” From the monarchical East, we turn with more curiosity to Greece and Rome. There, at least, there was a life of public opinion. Apart from institutions, which are crystallised opinion, were there any living, non-official voices in which this public opinion could be heard?

The Homeric poems are not only the oldest monuments of Greek literature, but also the earliest documents of the Greek race. Out of the twilight of the prehistoric past, a new people, a new type of mind, are suddenly disclosed in a medium of pellucid clearness. Like Athene [Pg 108] springing adult and full-armed from the head of Zeus, this new race, when Homer reveals it, has already attained to a mature consciousness of itself, and is already equipped with the aptitudes which are to distinguish it throughout its later history. The genius of the Homeric Greek has essentially the same traits which recur in the ripest age of the Greek republics,—even as Achilles and Ulysses are personal ideals which never lost their hold on the nation. This very fact points the contrast between two aspects of Homeric life—the political, and the social. In Homeric politics, public opinion has no proper place. The king, with his council of nobles and elders, can alone originate or discuss measures. The popular assembly has no active existence. But the framework of Homeric monarchy contains a social life in which public opinion is constantly alert. Its activity, indeed, could scarcely be greater under the freest form of government. And we see that this activity has its spring in distinctive and permanent attributes of the Hellenic race. It arises from quickness of perception and readiness of speech. The Homeric Greek feels keenly, observes shrewdly, and hastens to communicate his thoughts. An undertone of popular comment pervades the Homeric poems, and is rendered more impressive by the dramatic form in which it is usually couched. The average man, who represents public feeling, is expressed by the Greek indefinite pronoun, τις. “Thus would a man speak, with a glance at his neighbor,” is the regular Homeric formula. We hear opinion in the making. This spokesman of popular sentiment is constantly introduced at critical moments: for the sake of brevity we may call him by his Greek name Tis. When the fight is raging over the corpse of Patroclus, Tis remarks to his friends that they will be disgraced for ever if they allow the Trojans to carry off the body;—better die on the spot. Hector, in proposing a truce to Ajax, suggests that they should exchange gifts, and imagines what Tis will say: Tis will approve of it as a graceful courtesy between chivalrous opponents. Menelaus considers that another hero, Antilochus, has beaten him in a chariot race by unfair means; but thinks it necessary to take precautions against Tis imagining that he has brought this complaint in the hope of prevailing by the influence of his rank. This is perhaps one of the most remarkable Homeric compliments to the penetration and to the influence of Tis. When the sounds of music and dancing, as at a marriage feast, are heard in the house of Odysseus in Ithaca, Tis is listening outside; and he blamed Penelope for her fancied hardness of heart, “because she had not had the courage to keep the great house of her gentle lord steadfastly till he should come home.” Tis is not always the mouthpiece of such elevated sentiments. With a frank truth to life and nature, Homer depicts Tis as indulging in an ignoble joy by stabbing the corpse of his once-dreaded foe, Hector, and remarking that he is safer to handle now than when he was burning the ships. In the Odyssey, when the maiden Nausicaa is conducting Odysseus to the city of her father Alcinous, we catch glimpses of a Tis who nearly approaches the character of Mrs. Grundy, with an element of spiteful gossip added. The fidelity with which Tis reflects public opinion is further seen in the circumstance that his solicitude for the rights of man is not strong enough to counteract his natural disposition to exalt over the fallen. Thersites was a commoner who presumed to speak his mind among his betters,—when one of them, Odysseus, dealt him a smart blow on the back, and caused him to resume his seat in tears. Tis laughed for joy, saying in effect that it served Thersites right, and that he probably would not do it again. The Tory sentiment of this passage makes it appropriate to quote the version of it by the late Lord Derby:—

“The Greeks, despite their anger, laughed aloud, And one to other said, ‘Good faith, of all The many works Ulysses well hath done, Wise in the council, foremost in the fight, He ne’er hath done a better, than when now He makes this scurril babbler hold his peace. Methinks his headstrong spirit will not soon Lead him again to vilify the kings.’”

Here it might be said that Tis figures as the earliest authentic example of a being whose existence has sometimes been doubted by [Pg 109] British anthropologists, the Conservative working-man. But, if we would be just to Tis in his larger Homeric aspects, we must allow that his sympathies are usually generous, and his utterances often edifying. As to the feeling with which Tis was regarded, Homer has a word for it which is hard to translate: he calls it aidos. This aidos—the sense of reverence or shame—is always relative to a standard of public opinion, i.e. to the opinion formed by the collective sayings of Tis; as, on the other hand, the listening to an inner voice, the obedience to what we call a moral sense, is Homerically called nemesis. And just as Tis is sometimes merely the voice of smug respectability, so aidos is sometimes conventional in a low way. When Diomedes is going by night to spy out the Trojan camp, several heroes offer to go with him, but only one can be chosen. Agamemnon tells him that he must not yield to aidos, and take the man of highest station rather than the man of highest merit: where aidos appears as in direct conflict with nemesis. But more often these two principles are found acting in harmony,—recommending the same course of conduct from two different points of view. There is a signal example of this in the Odyssey, which is also noteworthy on another ground, viz., as the only episode in the Homeric poems which involves a direct and formal appeal from established right of might to the corrective agency of public opinion. The suitors of Penelope have intruded themselves into the house of her absent lord, and are wasting his substance by riotous living. Her son Telemachus convenes the men of Ithaca in public assembly, and calls on them to stop this cruel wrong. He appeals to nemesis, to aidos, and to fear of the gods. “Resent it in your own hearts; and have regard to others, neighboring folk who dwell around,—and tremble ye at the wrath of the gods.” The appeal fails. The public opinion exists, but it has not the power, or the courage, to act.

After the age which gave birth to the great epics, an interval elapses before we again catch the distinct echoes of a popular voice. Our Homeric friend Tis is silent. Or, rather, to be more exact, Tis ceases to speak in his old character, as the nameless representative of the multitude, and begins to speak in a new quality. The individual mind now commences to express itself in forms of poetry which are essentially personal, interpreting the belief and feelings of the poet himself. Tis emerges from the dim crowd, and appears as Tyrtaeus, summoning the Spartans, in stirring elegy, to hear his counsels; or as Sappho, uttering her passion in immortal lyrics; or as Pindar, weaving his thoughts into those magnificent odes which glorify the heroes and the athletes of Greece. It is a capital distinction of classical Greek literature that, when its history is viewed as a whole, we do not find it falling into a series of artificial chapters, determined by imitation of models which were in fashion at this or that epoch. Greek literature is original, not derivative; we trace in it the course of a natural growth; we hear in it the spontaneous utterance of Greek life from generation to generation. The place of Pindar in this development has one aspect of peculiar interest. There is a sense in which he may be said to stand midway between Homeric epos and Athenian drama.[57] His poetical activity belongs to the years which immediately preceded and followed the invasions of Greece by the hosts of Persia. A great danger had drawn the members of the Hellenic family closer together; a signal deliverance had left them animated by the memory of deeds which seemed to attest the legends of Agamemnon and Achilles; warmed by a more vivid faith in those gods who had been present with them through the time of trial; comforted by a new stability of freedom; cheered by a sense of Hellenic energies which could expand securely from the Danube to the Nile, from the Euxine to the Atlantic; exalted in thought and fancy by the desire to embody their joy and hope in the most beautiful forms which language and music, marble, ivory, and gold could furnish for the honor of the gods, and for the delight of men who, [Pg 110] through the heroes, claimed a divine descent. The Greek mind, stirred to its centre by the victorious efforts which had repelled the barbarian, could no longer be satisfied by epic narratives of the past. It longed to see the heroes moving; to hear them speaking; to throw back upon their world the vivifying light of contemporary reflection. In a word, the spirit of drama had descended upon Hellas; and already it breathes in Pindar, the poet of the games. Olympia, with its temples, its statues, and its living athletes, corresponded to the essence of Greek drama—action idealised by art and consecrated by religion. Pindar, the last of the great lyric poets, is the lyric exponent of an impulse which received mature expression from Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.

The community which Athenian drama addressed was precisely in the mood which best enables a dramatist to exert political and moral force. There was much in its temper that might remind us of Elizabethan England; but I would venture to illustrate it here by words borrowed from the England of a later time. The greatest plea in the English language for the liberty of the press—or perhaps we should rather say, for the freedom of the mind—belongs to the close of that year which saw the hopes of the Parliamentarians, in their struggle with the Royalists, raised to an assurance of final success by the crushing defeat of Rupert. An enthusiastic confidence in the large destinies opening before the English people already fired the mind of the poet who was to end his days, like Samson

“Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves, Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke.”

Then, in 1644, Milton, thinking of the victory of Marston Moor, was rather like Aeschylus raising his dramatic paean for the victory of Salamis; and the glowing language in which he describes the new alertness of his country’s spirit might fitly be applied to the Athens for which the great dramatists wrote. “As in a body, when the blood is fresh, the spirits pure and vigorous not only to vital but to rational faculties and those in the acutest and the pertest operations of wit and suttlety, it argues in what good plight and constitution the body is, so when the cherfulnesse of the people is so sprightly up, as that it has not only wherewith to guard well its own freedom and safety but to spare, and to bestow upon the solidest and sublimest points of controversie and new invention, it betok’ns us not degenerated, nor drooping to a fatall decay, but casting off the old and wrincl’d skin of corruption to outlive these pangs and wax young again, entring the glorious waies of Truth and prosperous vertue destin’d to become great and honourable in these latter ages. Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant Nation rousing herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks. Methinks I see her as an Eagle muing her mighty youth, and kindling her undazl’d eyes as the full mid-day beam, purging and unscaling her long abused sight at the fountain it self of heav’nly radiance.”

In estimating the influence of Athenian drama on public opinion, we must, first of all, remember the fact which makes the essential difference between the position of the dramatist—viewed in this light—and that of the epic poet. The epic poet gave expression to a mass of popular belief and feeling in an age when they had as yet no direct organ of utterance. But in the Athens of the dramatists the popular assembly was the constitutional organ of public opinion. Every Athenian citizen was, as such, a member of that assembly. The influence of the Athenian dramatist was thus so far analogous to that of the modern journalist, that it was brought to bear on men capable of giving practical effect to their sentiments. A newspaper publishes an article intended to influence the voters in a parliamentary division, or the constituents whom they represent. An Athenian dramatist had for his hearers, in the theatre of Dionysus, many thousands of the men who, the next day might be called upon to decide a question of policy in the assembly, or to try, in a law-court, one of those cases in which the properly legal issues were often involved with considerations of a social or moral kind. Even Tragedy, in its loftiest and severest form, might be the instrument, in a skilful hand, of inculcating views or tendencies which the poet advocated—nay, even of urging or opposing a [Pg 111] particular measure. Thus, in his Furies, Aeschylus finds occasion to encourage his fellow-citizens in their claim to a disputed possession in the Troad, and utters a powerful protest against the proposal to curtail the powers of the Areopagus. He becomes, for the moment, the mouthpiece of a party opposed to such reform. In verses like the following, every one can recognize a ring as directly political as that of any leading article or pamphlet. “In this place”—says the Athene of Aeschylus—that is, on the hill of Ares, the seat of the court menaced with reform—

“Awe kin to dread shall stay the citizens From sinning in the darkness or the light, While their own voices do not change the laws ... Between unruliness and rule by one I bid my people reverence a mean, Not banish all things fearful from the State. For, with no fear before him, who is just? In such a righteous dread, in such an awe, Ye shall possess a bulwark of the land, A safeguard of the city, not possess’d By Scythia or the places of the south. This court, majestic, incorruptible, Instant in anger, over those who sleep The sleepless watcher of my land, I set.”

Again, there are at least two tragedies of Euripides—the Heracleidae and the Supplices—in which the strain of allusion to the politics of the Peloponnesian War is unmistakable. It is needless to dwell on the larger sense in which Euripides everywhere makes drama the vehicle of teachings—political, social, moral—which could nowhere have received such effective publicity as in the theatre. Nowadays, they would have been found in the pages of a newspaper or a magazine accepted as the organ of a party or a school. In the days of Voltaire, journalism, as free countries now understand it, had no more existence than in the days of Euripides; and, as a recent historian of French literature remarks, it has been thought that the tragedies of Voltaire owed their popularity chiefly to the adroit manner in which the author made them opportunities for insinuating the popular opinions of the time.[58] We must not forget that peculiar feature of Greek drama, the Chorus, who may be regarded as a lineal descendant of the Homeric Tis. The interest of the Chorus, in this connection, does not depend so much on the maxims that it uttered as on the fact that it constituted a visible link between the audience and the drama, bringing the average spectator into easier sympathy with the action, and thereby predisposing him to seize any significance which it might have for the life of the day. I have so far dwelt on this aspect of Athenian Tragedy, because we might be rather apt to regard it as a form of art altogether detached from contemporary interests, and to overlook the powerful influence—not the less powerful because usually indirect—which it must undoubtedly have exercised in expressing and moulding public sentiment.

But we must now turn to that other form of Athenian drama in which the resemblance to the power of the modern press is much more direct and striking—that which is known as the Old Comedy of Athens. Mr. Browning, in his Apology of Aristophanes, makes the great comic poet indicate the narrow limits to the influence of Tragedy on opinion. The passage is witty; and though, as I venture to think, it considerably underrates the effect of Tragedy in this direction, at least it well marks the contrast between the modes in which the two forms of drama wrought. When we think of the analogy between Aristophanes and the modern political journalist, one of the first things that strikes us is the high and earnest view which Aristophanes took of his own calling. He had gone through every stage of a laborious training before he presumed to come before the Athenian public. He had seen his predecessors fail, or fall from favor. So in the Peace, he claims that he has banished the old vulgar tomfoolery from the stage, and raised his art “like an edifice stately and grand.” He saw clearly the enormous force which this literary engine, Comedy, might wield. He resolved that, in his hands, it should be directed to more elevated and more important aims. Instead of merely continuing the traditions of scurrilous buffoonery, in which virulent personality was often the only point, he would bring his wit to bear on larger aspects of politics and society. [Pg 112]

But, while his wit and style had the stamp of bold originality, Aristophanes is not the champion of original ideas. Rather his position depends essentially on the fact that he represents a large body of commonplace public opinion. He represents the great “stupid party,” to use a name which the English Tories have borne not without pride, and glories to represent it; the stupid party, who are not wiser than their forefathers; who fail to understand how the tongue can swear, and the soul remain unsworn; who sigh for the old days when the plain seafaring citizen knew only to ask for his barley-cake, and to cry “pull away;” who believe in the old-fashioned virtues, and worship the ancient gods. He describes himself as the champion of the people, doing battle for them, like a second Hercules, against superhuman monsters. The demagogues, whom he lashes, try to represent him as slandering the country to foreigners; but he is the country’s best friend. Athenians are hasty, fickle and vain. He has taught them not to be gulled by flattery. He has taught them to respect the rights and redress the wrong of their subjects. The envoys who bring the tribute from the island long to see him. The King of Persia, he says, asked two questions about the combatants in the Peloponnesian War. Which side had the strongest navy? and which side had Aristophanes? Thirlwall, in his History of Greece, denies that Aristophanic Comedy produced any serious effect. “We have no reason,” he says, “to believe that it ever turned the course of public affairs, or determined the bias of the public mind, or even that it considerably affected the credit and fortunes of an obnoxious individual.” Grote’s opinion is much the same, except that he is disposed to credit Comedy with a greater influence on the reputations of particular men. The question is much of the same nature as might be raised concerning the precise effect of political writing in newspapers, or of literary reviews. The effect is one which it is impossible to measure accurately, but which may nevertheless be both wide and deep.

In the first place, we must dismiss the notion that Comedy could make no serious impression because the occasion was a sportive festival. The feelings of Athenians at Comedy were not merely those of a modern audience at a burlesque or a pantomime. Comedy, like Tragedy, was still the worship of Dionysus. Precisely in those comedies which most daringly ridicule the gods—such as the Birds and the Frogs—we find also serious expressions of a religious sense, illustrating what might be called the principle of compensatory reverence. Again, the power of the Old Athenian Comedy is not to be gauged by any influence which it exercised, or sought, over special situations or definite projects. Indeed, it rarely attempted this. Almost the only extant instance occurs in the Frogs of Aristophanes, where he urges that a general amnesty should be granted to all citizens who had been implicated in the Revolution of the Four Hundred. In such a sense, it may be granted, Comedy might do little; but its real power operated in a totally different way. When a large body of people has common opinions or feelings, these are intensified in each individual by the demonstration that so many others share them. A public meeting tends in itself to quicken enthusiasm for a party or a cause, be the oratory never so flat and the sentiments never so trite. Aristophanes gave the most brilliant expression to a whole range of thought and feeling with which thousands of minds were in general sympathy. Can it be doubted that he contributed powerfully to strengthen the prejudice against everything that he regarded as dangerous innovation? Or, again, can it be doubted that he did much to give his fellow-citizens a more vivid insight into the arts of unscrupulous demagogues? The cajolers of the people, as depicted in the comedy of the Knights, are drawn in strong colors, but with fine strokes also: while the character of Demus, the People—their supposed dupe—is drawn with a tact which no satirist or political journalist has ever surpassed. If I have to stake the political power of Aristophanes on the evidence of one short passage, it should be that dialogue in which the Knights deplore the dotage of Demus, and Demus tells them that, while he seems to doze, he always has one eye open (vv. 1111-1150). [Pg 113]

When a change of Ministry occurs in England, no one would undertake to say exactly what share in that result is attributable to journalistic repetition and suggestion—to the cumulative impression wrought on the public mind, through weeks, months, and years, by the Conservative or the Liberal press. And he would be a bold man who presumed to say how little or how much the Old Comedy may have to do with the phenomena of oligarchic reaction in the latter part of the Peloponnesian War, or with the stimulation of all those sentiments which have their record in the death of Socrates. The confused travesty of Socrates in the Clouds corresponds, in its general features, with the confused prepossessions of which he was afterwards the victim. In this case, as in others, Comedy was not the origin, but the organ, of a popular opinion. It did not create the prepossessions; but it strengthened them by the simple process of reflecting them in an exaggerated form. Briefly, Aristophanic Comedy had many of the characteristics of vehement party journalism, but was directed either against persons, on the one hand, or against general principles and tendencies on the other—not against measures. Its most obvious strength lay in brilliant originality of form; but its political and social effect depended essentially on its representative value. It was the great ancient analogue of journalism which seems to lead opinion by skilfully mirroring it—unsparing in attack, masterly in all the sources of style, but careful, where positive propositions are concerned, to keep within the limits of safe and accepted generalities.

Just as the Old Comedy was losing its freedom of utterance, a new agency began to appear, which invites comparison with journalism of a calmer and more thoughtful type. Rhetoric, of which we already feel the presence in Athenian drama, had now become a developed art. Skill analogous to that of the modern journalist was often required, for purposes of speaking, by the citizen of a Greek republic.[59] He might desire to urge his views in a public assembly where the standard of speaking was high and the audience critical. He might be compelled to defend his fortunes, or even his life, before a popular jury of many hundreds, when the result would depend in no small measure on oratorical dexterity. Already a class of men existed who composed speeches for private persons to deliver in law-courts. The new art was naturally enlisted in the service of any party politics. A skilful writer now felt that there was a way of producing an effect which would be less transient than that of a speech in the assembly. From the end of the fifth century b.c. we begin to meet with a species of composition which may best be described as a political pamphlet.

The paper on the Athenian polity, which has come down under Xenophon’s name, is an aristocratic manifesto against the democracy, which might have appeared in an ancient Quarterly Review. The paper on the Revenues of Athens, belonging to the middle of the fourth century b.c., is a similar article in favor of peace and the commercial interests. Many of the extant pieces of the orator Isocrates, in the fourth century b.c., though couched in the form of speeches, were meant to be read, not spoken, and are in reality highly finished political pamphlets. More, perhaps, than any other writer of antiquity, Isocrates resembles a journalist who is deeply impressed with the dignity and responsibility of his calling; who spares no pains to make his work really good; and who has constantly before his mind the feeling that his audience is wider, and his power greater, than if he was actually addressing a public assembly on the same theme. His articles—as we may fitly call them—are usually intended to have a definite effect at a particular moment. He wishes to make Athens and Sparta combine at once in an expedition to Asia. He wishes to strike in with a telling argument for peace at the moment when negotiations are pending between Athens and her allies. He desires to strengthen the hands of the party, at Athens and at Sparta, who refuse to recognize the restoration of Messene by the power of Thebes. In this last case, we know that a pamphlet on the other side was [Pg 114] written by the rhetorician Alcidamas. Here then is an example of literary controversy on contemporary public affairs.

Nor is it merely in regard to the political questions of the day that Isocrates performs the part of a journalist. He deals also with the social life of Athens. He expresses the feeling with which men of the old school observed a deterioration of manners connected, in their views, with the decay of Conservative elements in the democracy. He shows us the throngs of needy citizens, eagerly casting lots outside the law-courts for the privilege of employment as paid jurymen—while at the same time they are hiring mercenary troops to fight their battles abroad. He pictures the lavish display which characterized the festivals of the improvident city—where the amusement of the public had now become a primary art of statesmanship—when men might be seen blazing in gold spangled robes, who had been shivering through the winter in rags. He brings before us the young men of a degenerate Athens—no longer engaged in vigorous exercises of mind and body, in hunting or athletics; no longer crossing the market-place with downcast eyes, or showing marks of deference to their elders—but passing their hours in the society of gamesters and flute-players, or lazily cooling their wine in the fountain by the Ilissus. He is, in brief, a voice of public opinion on all the chief matters which come within the province of the publicist. In order that such a writer should have an influence similar to that of a newspaper, it was enough that copies of his writings should be sufficiently multiplied to leaven the conversation of the market-place and of private society. Every possessor of a copy was a centre from which the ideas would reach the members of his own circle. And there is good evidence that, in the fourth century b.c., the circulation of popular writings throughout the Hellenic world was both wide and rapid. The copying industry, in the Greece of that age, doubtless fell far short of the dimensions to which the labor of cultivated slaves (the literati) afterwards raised it at Rome—where we hear of Augustus, for instance, confiscating no fewer than two thousand copies of a single work—the psuedo-Sibylline books. But it was still amply sufficient to warrant a general comparison, in the sense just defined, between the influence of such a writer as Isocrates, and that of a modern journalist.

We have hitherto spoken only of the written rhetoric, in which the form of a speech was merely a literary fiction, like that adopted—in imitation of Isocrates—by Milton, when he chose to couch his Areopagitica in the form of a speech addressed to the Lords and Commons of England. But in passing, we should note that the actually spoken rhetoric of antiquity—especially of Greece—bore a certain analogy to the more elaborate efforts of journalism. This depends on the fact that ancient usage fully recognised, and generally expected, careful premeditation; while the speaker, conscious of the demand for excellence of form, usually aimed at investing his speech with permanent literary value. Demosthenes and Cicero are both witnesses to this: Cicero, doubtless, piqued himself on a faculty of extemporising at need, but probably trusted little to it on great occasions; while with Demosthenes it was the rule, we are told, never to speak without preparation. Take the oration delivered by Lysias at the Olympian festival, where he is exhorting the assembled Greeks to unite against the common foes of Hellas in Sicily and in Persia. Here the orator is essentially an organ of patriotic opinion, and his highly-wrought address is a finished leading-article, for which the author sought the largest publicity.

In turning from Greece to Rome, we are prepared to find literature holding a different relation towards public opinion. The Greek temperament with its quick play of thought and fancy, had an instinctive craving to make the sympathy of thoughts continually felt in words, and to accompany action with a running comment of speech. The Roman, as we find him during Rome’s earlier career of conquest, was usually content to feel that his action was in conformity with some principle which he had expressed once for all in an institution or a statute. His respect for authority, and his moral earnestness—in a word his political and social gravity—rendered him independent of the [Pg 115] solace which the lively Greek derived from a demonstrated community of feeling. Rome, strong in arms, severe, persistent, offering to people after people the choice of submission or subjugation; Rome, the head of the Latin name, the capital of Italy, the queen of the Mediterranean, the empress of a pacified, because disarmed, world; Rome, who never deemed a war done until conquest had been riveted by law which should be the iron bond of peace,—this idea was the true inspiration of the Roman; and, as the literature was matured, it was this which added order to strength, and majesty to order, in the genius of the Roman tongue. It is especially curious to observe the fate which Comedy experienced when it first appeared at Rome, and endeavored to assume something of the political significance which its parent, Greek Comedy, had possessed at Athens. The poet Naevius appeared just after the first Punic War. He was a champion of popular liberties against the domination of the Senate; and, in his plays, he treated some of the Senatorian chiefs with satire of a quality which, to judge from the extant specimens, was exceedingly mild. “Who had so quickly ruined the commonwealth?” was a query put in one of his comedies; and the reply was, “New speakers came forward—foolish young men.” In another piece, he alluded to the applauses bestowed on him as proving that he was a true interpreter of the public mind, and deprecated any great man interfering with him. A very slave in one of his comedies, he added, was better off than a Roman citizen nowadays. Contrast these remarks with the indescribable insults which Aristophanes had boldly heaped on the Athenian demagogues. Mild as Naevius was, however, he was not mild enough for the “foolish young men.” Having ventured to observe that the accession of certain nobles of high office was due to a decree of fate, he was promptly imprisoned; he was afterwards banished; and he died in exile. This seems to have been the first and last attempt of Roman Comedy to serve as an organ of popular opinion. The Roman reverence for authority was outraged by the idea of a public man being presented in a comic light on the boards of a theatre. On the other hand, Roman feeling allowed a public man to be attacked, in speaking or in writing, with almost any degree of personal violence, provided that the purpose was seriously moral. Hence the personal criticism of statesmen, which at Athens had belonged to Comedy, passed at Rome into another kind of composition. It became an element of Satire.

The name of Satire comes, as is well known, from the lanx satura, the platter filled with first-fruits of various sorts, which was an annual thank-offering to Ceres and Bacchus. “Satire” meant a medley, or miscellany, and the first characteristic of Roman satire was that the author wrote in an easy, familiar way about any and every subject that was of interest to himself and his readers. As Juvenal says,—

“Men’s hopes, men’s fear—their fond, their fretful dream— Their joys, their fuss—that medley is my theme.”

Politics, literature, philosophy, society—every topic of public or private concern—belonged to the Satura, so long as the treatment was popular. Among all the forms of Roman literature, Satire stands out with a twofold distinction. First, it is genuinely national. Next, it is the only one which has a continuous development, extending from the vigorous age of the Commonwealth into the second century of the Empire. Satire is pre-eminently the Roman literary organ of public opinion. The tone of the Roman satirist is always that of an ordinary Roman citizen, who is frankly speaking his mind to his fellow-citizens. An easy, confidential manner in literature—as of one friend unbosoming himself to another—seems to have been peculiarly congenial to the ancient Italian taste. We may remember how the poet Ennius introduced into his epic a picture of the intimate converse between himself and the Roman general Servilius Geminus—a picture not unworthy of a special war-correspondent attached to head-quarters. Then Satire profited by the Italian gift for shrewd portraiture of manners. Take, for instance, the picture of a coquette, drawn some twenty centuries ago by Naevius: [Pg 116]

“Like one playing at ball in a ring, she tosses about from one to another, and is at home with all. To one she nods, to another she winks; she makes love to one, clings to another.... To one she gives a ring to look at, to another blows a kiss; with one she sings, with another corresponds by signs.”[60]

The man who first established Satire as an outspoken review of Roman life was essentially a slashing journalist. This was Lucilius, who lived in the latter years of the second century b.c. He attacked the high-born statesmen, who, as he put it, “thought that they could blunder with impunity, and keep criticism at a distance by their rank.” On the other hand, he did not spare plebeian offenders. As one of his successors says, “he bit deep into the town of his day, and broke his jawtooth on them.” Literature and society also came under his censures. He lashes the new affectation of Greek manners and speech, the passion for quibbling rhetoric, the extravagance of the gluttons and the avarice of the misers. Even the Roman ladies of the time do not wholly escape. He criticises the variations of their toilettes. “When she is with you, anything is good enough; when visitors are expected, all the resources of the wardrobe are taxed,” The writings of this trenchant publicist formed the great standing example of free speech for later Roman times. Horace eschews politics; indeed, when he wrote, political criticism had become as futile as it was perilous; but he is evidently anxious to impress on the Roman public that he is true to the old tradition of satire by fearlessly lashing folly and vice. Persius, who died at the age of twenty-eight in the reign of Nero, made Roman Satire a voice of public opinion in a brave and a pure sense. Horace had been an accomplished Epicurean, who found his public among easy-going, cultivated men of the world. Persius spoke chiefly to minds of a graver cast: he summoned Roman citizens to possess themselves of a moral and intellectual freedom which no Cæsar could crush, the freedom given by the Stoic philosophy,—that philosophy which had moulded the jurisprudence of the Republic, and was now the refuge of thoughtful minds under the despotism of the Empire. Then we have once more a slashing publicist in Juvenal, who is national and popular in a broader sense than Horace or Persius. His fierce indignation is turned against the alien intruders, the scum of Greece and Asia, who are making Rome a foreign city, and robbing Roman citizens of their bread. He denounces the imported vices which are effacing the old Roman character. He is the last of the Roman satirists, and in much he resembles the first.

It may be noted that each of the three satirists of the Empire—Horace, Persius, Juvenal—gives us a dialogue between himself and an imaginary friend, who remonstrates with him for his rashness in imitating Lucilius, the outspoken satirist of the Republic. Horace, replies, in effect, “Never mind, I’m not afraid—Augustus will stand by me as Scipio and Laelius stood by Lucilius;” but, in fact, Horace never strikes like Lucilius; he keeps us smiling while he probes our faults; “he gains his entrance, and plays about the heart;” his censures even when keen, show cautious tact. Persius replies: “You need not read me if you do not like: but the joke is too good; I must tell some one that Midas has the ears of an ass.” When Juvenal is warned, we catch quite a different tone in the answer. After painting the Rome of his day, he says (I venture to give a version of my own):—

“Nought worse remains: the men of coming times Can but renew our lusts, repeat our crimes. Vice holds the dizzy summit: spread thy sail, Indignant Muse, and drive before the gale! But who shall find, or whence—I hear thee ask— An inspiration level with the task? Whence that frank courage of an elder Rome, When Satire, fearless, sent the arrow home? ‘Whom am I bound,’ she then could cry, ‘to spare? If high-placed guilt forgive not, do I care?’ Paint now the prompter of a Nero’s rage— The torments of a Christian were thy wage,— Pinned to the stake, in blazing pitch to stand, Or, on the hook that dragg’d thee, plough the sand.... [Pg 117]

No danger will attend thee if thou tell How to Aeneas warlike Turnus fell; No spite resents Achilles’ fateful day, Or Hylas, with his urn, the Naiads’ prey; But when Lucilius, all his soul afire, Bared his good sword and wreak’d his generous ire, Flush’d cheeks bewrayed the secrets lock’d within, And chill hearts shivered with their conscious sin. Hence wrath and tears. Ere trumpets sound, debate: Warriors, once armed, repent of war too late. ‘Then shall plain speech be tried on those whose clay Rests by the Latin or Flaminian Way.’”

He did indeed try the plainest of speech, not only on dead tyrants and their ministers, but on the society of his own time. The elder Disraeli remarks that Richard Steele meant the Tatler to deal with three provinces—manners, letters, and politics; and that, as to politics, “it remained for the chaster genius of Addison to banish this disagreeable topic from his elegant pages.” Horace was in this respect the Addison of Satire under the Empire. In Juvenal, the Italian medley once more exhibits, though with necessary modifications, the larger and more vigorous spirit of its early prime. The poetical epistle, which in Horace is so near to Satire, usually differed from it in having less of the chatty miscellaneous character, and in being rather applied to continuous didactic exposition. The prose epistle, which was often meant for publication even when formally private, also contributed not only to express, but to mould, public opinion. Epigrams and lampoons might happen to be vehicles of a general feeling; but they differ from the forms of literature here considered in being essentially personal, like the satirical poetry of early Greece.

There is yet another agency, common to Greece and Rome, at which we must glance—the Oracles. Often, of course, they had a most important part in directing public opinion at critical moments; but this was not all. There were occasions on which an oracle became, in a strict sense, the organ of a political party. Thus the noble Athenian family of the Alcmaeonidae bribed the Delphian priests to make the oracle an organ of public opinion in favor of freeing Athens from Peisistratus. Accordingly, whenever Spartans came to consult the god on any subject whatever, this topic was always worked into the response. Apollo, in short, kept up a series of most urgent leading articles; and at last the Spartans were roused to action. Then, when Cleomenes, one of the two Spartan kings, wished to have his colleague Demaratus deposed, he made friends with an influential man at Delphi; the influential man bribed the priestess; and the oracle declared that Demaratus was not of the blood royal. In this case, the fraud was found out; the priestess was deposed; and when Cleomenes died mad, men said that this was the hand of Apollo. When the Persians were about to invade Greece, the Delphic oracle took the line of advising the Greeks to submit. The Athenians sent to ask what they should do, and the oracle said, “Fly to the ends of the earth.” The Athenians protested that they would not leave the temple until they got a more comfortable answer. Hereupon an influential Delphian advised them to assume the garb of suppliants; and this time Apollo told them to trust to their wooden walls. Herodotus mentions between seventy and eighty oracles (I believe) of one sort or another, and less than half of these contain predictions. The predictions usually belong to one of two classes; first, those obviously founded on secret information or on a shrewd guess; and, secondly, those in which the oracle had absolutely no ideas on the subject, and took refuge in vagueness.

Any one who reads the column of Answers to Correspondents in a prudently conducted journal will recognize the principal types of oracle. In truth, the Delphic oracle bore a strong resemblance to a serious newspaper managed by a cautious editorial committee with no principles in particular. In editing an oracle, it was then, as it still is, of primary importance not to make bad mistakes. The Delphian editors were not infallible; but, when a blunder had been made, they often showed considerable resource. Thus, when Croesus had been utterly ruined, he begged his conqueror to grant him one luxury—to allow him to send to Delphi, and ask Apollo whether it was his usual practice to treat his benefactors in this way. Apollo replied that, in point of [Pg 118] fact, he had done everything he could; he had personally requested the Fates to put off the affair for a generation; but they would only grant a delay of three years. Instead of showing annoyance, Croesus ought to be grateful for having been ruined three years later than he ought to have been. There are Irish landlords who would see a parable in these things. Sometimes we can see that Apollo himself is slightly irritated, as an editor might be by a wrong-headed or impertinent querist. Some African colonists had been pestering Apollo about their local troubles and his own former predictions; and the response from Delphi begins with the sarcastic remark, “I admire your wisdom if you know Africa better than I do,” The normal tendency of the Delphic oracle was to discourage rash enterprise, and to inculcate maxims of orthodox piety and moderation. The people of Cnidos wanted to make their peninsula an island by digging a canal, but found it very hard work; and the oracle told them that if Zeus had meant the peninsula to be an island, he would have made it an island—which reminds one of some of the arguments against the Channel Tunnel. In one special direction, however, Delphi gave a real impulse to Hellenic progress. It was a powerful promoter of colonization: for instance, the first Greek settlements in Corsica and on the coast of Africa were directly due to Delphic oracles. We even find the oracle designating individuals for work abroad; as when it nominated a man of Mantinea to reform the constitution of Cyrene. In Scotland we are wont to take a keen interest in everything that bears on colonial careers for young men; and one day a Greek class had been reading about the Delphic oracle telling some Thracians to choose as their king the first man who should ask them to dinner. Miltiades had this privilege, and forthwith got the Thracian appointment. “Do you think,” a thoughtful student asked, “that there could have been any collusion?”

A brief mention is due to those Roman publications which, in form, came nearest to our newspapers—the official gazettes. Julius Caesar, when consul in 59 b.c., first caused the transactions of the Senate (Acta Senatus) to be regularly published; before his time, there had been only an occasional publication of its decrees. Augustus stopped the issue of this Senatorial Gazette, though the minutes continued to be regularly kept, at first by senators of the Emperor’s choice, afterwards by a secretary specially appointed. Further, Julius Caesar instituted a regular official gazette of general news, the Acta diurna, which continued under the Empire. There was an official editor; the gazette was exhibited daily in public, and copied by scribes, who sold it to their customers; the original copy was afterwards laid up in the public archives, where it could be consulted. This gazette contained announcements or decrees by the Government, notices relating to the magistrature and the law-courts, and other matters of public interest; also a register of births, marriages, and deaths, and occasionally other advertisements concerning private families. This gazette had a wide circulation. Tacitus, for example, says that a certain event could not be hidden from the army, because the legionaries throughout the provinces had read it in the gazette. But it was simply a bald record of facts; there was no comment. Cicero, writing from Asia, complains that a private correspondent at Rome has sent him only such news as appears in a gazette—about matches of gladiators and adjournment of courts—and has given him no political intelligence.

The Gentleman’s Magazine for 1740 contains a short and quaint paper by Dr. Johnson, in which he transcribes some supposed fragments of a Roman gazette for the year 168 b.c. These were first published in 1615, and in 1692 were defended by Dodwell, but are now recognized as fifteenth-century forgeries. We have no genuine fragments of the Roman gazettes. None the less, Johnson’s comparison of them with the English newspapers of 1740 may well suggest a reflection. The Roman gazette under the Empire did not give the transactions of the Senate, any more than it admitted political comment. In the newspapers of Johnson’s time, the parliamentary reports were still very irregular and imperfect; while criticism of public men was fain to take the disguise, however thin, of allegory. Thus the Gentleman’s Magazine regaled its [Pg 119] readers, from month to month, with “Proceedings and Debates in the Senate of Lilliput.” It was when the House of Commons had ceased to represent the public opinion of the country, that this opinion became resolved to have an outlet in the press. Parliament having ceased to discharge its proper function, the press became the popular court of appeal. The battle for a free press, in the full modern sense, was fought out between 1764 and 1771—beginning in 1764 with the persecution of Wilkes for attacking Bute in the North Briton, and ending with the successful resistance, in 1771, to the proclamation by which the Commons had forbidden the publication of their debates. Six printers, who had infringed it, were summoned to the bar of the House; five obeyed; and the messenger of the House was sent to arrest the sixth. The Lord Mayor of London sent the messenger to prison. The House of Commons sent the Lord Mayor to the Tower. But he was followed by cheering crowds. He was released at the next prorogation; and the day on which he left the Tower marked the end of the last attempt to silence the press. The next few years saw the beginning of the first English journals which exercised a great political and social power. The Times dates from 1788. Thus a period memorable for Americans has something of analogous significance for their kinsmen in England. For the English people, also, those years contained a Declaration of Independence; they brought us a title-deed of freedom greater, perhaps, than the barons of the thirteenth century extorted from John—the charter of a complete freedom in the daily utterance of public opinion.

The attempt here has been to indicate some of the partial equivalents for such an utterance which may be traced in classical literature. A student of antiquity must always in one sense, resemble the wistful Florentine who, with Virgil for his guide, explored the threefold realm beyond the grave. His converse is with the few, the spirits signal for good or for evil in their time; the shades of the great soldiers pass before him,—he can scan them closely, and imagine how each bore himself in the hour of defeat or victory on earth; he can know the counsels of statesmen, and even share the meditations of their leisure; the poets and the philosophers are present: but around and beyond these are the nameless nations of the dead, the multitudes who passed through the ancient world and left no memorial. With these dim populations he can hold no direct communion; it is much as if at times the great movements which agitated them are descried by him as the surging of a shadowy crowd, or if the accents of their anguish or triumph are borne from afar as the sound of many waters. So much the more, those few clear voices which still come from the past are never more significant than when they interpret the popular mind of their generation. The modern development of representative institutions has invested the collective sentiment of communities with power of a kind to which antiquity can furnish no proper parallel. But this fact cannot dispense the student of history from listening for the echoes of the market-place. And such attention cannot fail to quicken our sense of the inestimable gain which has accrued to modern life through journalism. It is easy to forget the magnitude of a benefit when its operation has become regular and familiar. The influence of the press may sometimes be abused; its tone may sometimes be objectionable. But take these three things—quickness in seeking and supplying information,—continual vigilance of comment,—electric sympathy of social feeling: where in the ancient world do we find these things as national characteristics, except in so far as they were gifts of nature to the small community of ancient Athens—gifts to which her best literature owes so much of its incomparable freshness and of its imperishable charm? It is mainly due to the agency of the press that these things are now found throughout the world,—these, which, in all lands where man has risen above barbarism, are the surest safeguards of civilization and the ultimate pledges of constitutional freedom.—Fortnightly Review.

[Pg 120]


Does the reader chance to know that bit of England round about Haslemere, but an hour and a half’s journey from the heart of London, where three counties meet, and the traveller may see at a glance, from many a hill-top, the most rich and beautiful parts of Sussex, the wildest and most picturesque of Surrey and Hampshire? At his feet lies spread the weald of Sussex, whilst the dark wooded promontories and long purple ridges of Blackdown, Marley, and Ironhill curve round or jut out into this broad sea of fertility, and the distant South Downs close the view with wavy outline and fluted sides, bare of everything save fine turf, nibbling sheep, and the shadows of the clouds. Turning round, Surrey culminates, as it were, in Hind Head, with triple summit—no mere hill, but a miniature mountain in bold individuality of form. And when he climbs this vantage-ground, Hampshire lies unfolded before him as well as Surrey; Wolmer Forest—forest no longer, but brown moorland; ranges of chalk hills, conspicuous among them one with a white scar on its dark flank, which hides Selborne amid its trees; solemn distances seen against the sunset sky, clothed with a deep purple bloom, which haunt the memory like a strain of noble music.

No less beautiful and strikingly similar in general character is that part of Western Massachusetts wherein stands our New England village—Northampton—village in size and rural aspect, though the capital of Hampshire county. But the New England valley has one advantage over the weald of Sussex in its broad and beautiful river, with Indian name, Connecticut—Quonnektacut, the long river—which winds through it. Mount Holyoke and Mount Tom, the Sugar Loaf and the Pelham range are its Blackdown, Marley, Hind Head, and South Downs. These hills are a couple of hundred feet or so higher than their English prototypes, ranging from 1000 to 1300 feet above the sea, and their old ribs are of harder and more ancient stuff than the chalk and greensand of the South Downs and Surrey hills; witness the granite or rather gneiss boulders scattered broadcast over the land, sometimes in rugged upright masses, looking like some grey ruin, sometimes in small rounded fragments, bestrewing the uplands like a flock of sheep, and more rarely the black and still harder blocks of trap. In the museum at Amherst, just over the river, are preserved slabs with the famous bird-tracks—colossal footprints two feet long, found in the trias of this part of the Connecticut valley—all tending to prove that the sun shone down upon dry land here for some ages whilst the mother-country was still mostly a waste of waters; and that, geologically speaking, and so far as these parts at any rate are concerned, New England is old, and old England new, by comparison. Broad, fertile, level meadows border the river, and the hills are richly clothed with chestnut, birch, hemlock (somewhat like the yew in aspect), hickory (a kind of walnut), beech, oak, etc. It is hard to say whether the likeness or the unlikeness to an English landscape strikes the traveller more. There is the all-pervading difference of a dry and brilliant atmosphere, which modifies both form and color, substituting the sharp-edged and definite for the vague and rounded in distant objects, and brilliancy and distinctness of hue for depth and softness. Apart, too, from the brilliant and searching light, the leaves are absolutely of a lighter green, and grow in a less dense and solid mass; the foliage looks more feathery, the tree more spiral. Especially is this so with the American oak, which has neither the dome-like head, the sturdiness of bough, nor the dark bluish-green foliage of the English oak. If it be spring-time, no gorse is to be seen with golden blossom set among matted thorns, perfuming the sunshine; but everywhere abounding masses of the delicate pink-clustered, odorless, warlike kalmia, called there laurel, and growing to the full size of our laurels; and more shyly hidden, the lovely azalea or swamp-pink, as the country people call it. Instead of the daisy, the delicate little Housatonia, like Venus’ looking-glass but growing singly, stars the ground; and for fragrance we must stoop down and seek the pale pink clusters of the trailing arbutus or May-flower, which richly reward the seeker. In July we miss the splendid purpling of the hills with heather blossom; but the pink spikes of the hardhack abound; gay lilies, lady’s earrings, blue-fringed gentians, glowing cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis), with slender petals of a deeper crimson than the salvia, and a host more new friends, or old friends with new ways grown democratic as befits them, scatter their beauty freely by the wayside and the margins of the brooks, instead of setting up as exclusives of the garden.

Nor are the differences less marked in the aspect of the cultivated land. The fertile valley has perhaps a look of greater breadth from not being intersected with hedges and having few fences of any kind, one crop growing beside another, and one owner’s beside another’s, like different beds in a nursery-garden. But the effect of these large undivided fields is to dwarf the appearance of the crops themselves. The patches of tall tasselled Indian corn, the white-blossomed buckwheat, and large-leaved tobacco, look diminutive. No haystacks, no wheat-ricks are to be seen; only here and there a lonely, prison-like tobacco barn or drying-house, full of narrow loopholes to let in air without light. Everything else is housed in the big barn that adjoins the farmhouse, which stands, not amid its own fields, but on the outskirts of the nearest town or village. Of wheat little is grown; of root-crops still less, for sheep-farming is not in favor. Tobacco, with its large, glossy dark leaves, like those of the mangel-wurzel, thrives well on the rich alluvial soil of the Connecticut valley; but, fluctuating as it is in value, exhaustive of the soil, and easily damaged by weather, the great gains of one year are often more than counterbalanced by the losses of the next. The Indian corn remains long upon the ground in autumn after it is cut, to ripen in stooks, much as beans do with us; and then come to light the pumpkins which were sown amongst it, and now lie basking and glowing in the sun like giant oranges. Glowing, too, in the splendid sunshine, are the [Pg 121] apple-orchards, laden with fruit half as large and quite as red as full-blown peonies. Never, even in the vale of Evesham or Herefordshire, have I seen any so beautiful.

As to the living creatures—feathered, four legged, or no-legged—there are some conspicuous differences which it does not take a naturalist to discover. Ten to one, indeed, if we come upon a rattlesnake; but a few are still left in snug corners of Mount Holyoke and Mount Tom, as anxious to avoid us as we them. The lively little chipmunk, diminutive first cousin to the squirrel, with black stripe along the back, is sure to make our acquaintance, for his kind seems as multitudinous as the rabbit with us, and is a worse foe to the farmer, because he has more audacity and a taste for the kernels of things, instead of merely the leaves. Strange new sounds greet the ear from katydid “working her chromatic reed”; from bull-frog with deep low, almost a roar; from grasshoppers and locusts, whose loud brassy whirr resounds all through the sunny hours with such persistency it seems at last a very part of the hot sunshine. The chirp of our grasshoppers is the mere ghost of a sound in comparison. At night fireflies glance in and out of the darkness; and, if we remain under the trees, mosquitoes soon make us unpleasantly aware of their existence. As to the birds, the flame-colored oriole, the delicately shaped blue-bird, flit by now and then as flashes of surprise and delight from the south; the rose-breasted grossbeak has a sweet note; the robin, not round as a ball and fierce and saucy, but grown tall, and slim, and mild—his breast not so red, his song not so sweet, his eye not so bright—is there. He is indeed a robin only in name,—really a species of thrush. A cheerful twittering, chirping, whistling, the tuning of the orchestra, a short sweet snatch or two of song I heard; but the steady, long-sustained outpour of rich melody from throats never weary, the chorus trilling joyously, with which our woods and hedgerows resound in spring and early summer, I listened for in vain. Perhaps the pathlessness of the woods and hills prevented my penetrating to the secluded haunts of the sweetest singers, such as the hermit-thrush, and [Pg 122] I speak only of New England. Remembering what John Burroughs has said on the subject, I will not venture to generalize the comparison.


About two hundred and forty years ago, towards the close of Cromwell’s life, and thirty-four years after the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, the Boston and Plymouth Settlement found itself vigorous enough to send out offshoots; and having heard from the Dutch settlers of New York of this rich and well-watered valley discovered by them in 1614, the General Court appointed John Pynchon, Elizur Holyoke, and Samuel Chapin of Springfield, settled seventeen years before, to negotiate with the Indians for that tract of land called Nonotuck, where now stand six small towns and villages, chief and first built of which was Northampton. The price paid was a hundred fathoms of wampum (equal to about £20), ten coats, some small gifts, and the ploughing up of sixteen acres on the east side of the river. Wampum (Indian for white) consisted of strings of beads made of white shells and suckauhock black or blue money, of black or purple shells. Both were used for more purposes than trading with the Indians, coin being scarce. Eight white and four black beads were worth a penny; and a man as often took out a string of beads as a purse to pay an innkeeper or a ferryman, or to balance a trading account.

But Nonotuck was paid for with a good deal besides the wampum and the ploughing. For a hundred and twenty-four years there was almost incessant warfare with the Indians. Treacherous ambuscades lay in wait for the trader on his journey, stealthy dark-skinned assassins for the solitary husbandman, and not a few of these fertile fields were watered by the blood of its first tillers. He carried his weapons with him to his work and to the meeting-house, and expressed his gratitude for hair-breadth escapes, Puritan fashion, by the pious names he gave his children. Preserved Clapp, Submit Grout, Comfort Domo, Thankful Medad, are names that figure in the records of this and the neighboring villages; where we read also that one Praise-Ever Turner, and his servant Uzackaby Shakspeare, were killed by the Indians. Within sight of Northampton it was, just over the river, in the sister settlement of Hadley,—that beautiful old village, with street eighteen rods wide, set with a double avenue of superb elms, greensward in the middle and a road on either side, looking more like the entrance to a fine park than a village street,—here it was that a “deliverance” occurred, long believed by the people to have been miraculous. One Sunday, when nearly the whole scant population was gathered for worship in the meeting-house, a large body of Indians fell upon them, and, what with the panic and the want of a leader, all seemed lost, when a majestic, venerable figure, dressed in a strange rich garb, fully armed, appeared suddenly in their midst, assumed the command, rallied their scattered numbers, and led them on to victory; then vanished as suddenly as he had appeared, no man knew where or whence.[61] No man but one—Mr. Russell, the minister. This venerable apparition was Goffe, once a general in Cromwell’s army, and, like Whalley his companion in exile, one of the judges who condemned Charles to death, now forced, even in that far land, to hide for his life, since an active quest was maintained, in obedience to the Home Government for both Goffe and Whalley. For twelve years did good Mr. Russell shelter them, unknown to all but his own family. Whalley died in his house; but Goffe subsequently disappeared, and the rest of his career is unknown.

Altogether the hardy band found ample scope for carrying into practice the noble maxim of the Pilgrim Fathers rehearsed at Leyden: “All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courages.” In order to secure protection from Indians and wolves, the little community built its dwellings, not each isolated on its own farm-lands, but side by side, so as to form at once the main street; each house having its “home lot” or strip of “interval,” as the rich meadow-land stretching down to the river was called, and its “wood-lot” on the hillside. [Pg 123] Having chosen her “select men to direct all the fundamental affairs of the town, to prevent anything which they judge shall be of damage, and to order anything which shall be for the good of the town; to hear complaints, arbitrate controversies, lay out highways, see to the scouring of ditches, the killing of wolves, and the training of children,” Northampton proceeded at once to build herself a meeting-house “of sawen timber 26 feet long and 18 feet wide,” for the sum of £14 sterling, to be paid in work or corn. There was no clock in the settlement; so the worshippers were called together, sometimes by a large cow-bell, sometimes by drum, and finally by trumpet, for the blowing of which Jedediah Strong had a salary of eighteen shillings a year. There was no minister for some years; and more finding in themselves a vocation for preaching than for listening, or at any rate for criticising than for meekly imbibing, disputes arose, the General Court was appealed to, and its decision enforced that the service should consist, besides praying and singing, of “the reading aloud of known godly and orthodox books;” and for those who failed to obey with seemly decorum the summons of Mr. Jedediah Strong’s trumpet, severe was the chastisement. Joe Leonard and Sam Harmon, for instance, “who were seen to whip and whisk one another with a stick before the meeting-house door,” were fined five shillings; and Daniel, “for idle watching about and not coming to the ordinances of the Lord,” was adjudged worthy of stripes to the number “of five, well laid on.” In 1672 the town voted that there be some sticks set up in the “meeting-house, with fit persons placed near, to use them as occasion shall require, to keep the youth from disorder.” Which staves were fitted with a hare’s foot at one end and his tail at the other; the former to give a hard rap to misbehaving boys, the latter a gentle reminder to sleeping women.

Something besides repression was done, however, for the benefit of the youth of Northampton. The first school was started in 1663,—the master to receive £6 a year and his charges for tuition. Bridges were built and roads made by calling out every man to labor according to his estate; and those who did not labor paid in grain at the rate of half-a-crown a-day for exemption. For more than sixty years Northampton had no doctor, only a “bone-setter”: on the whole, a lucky circumstance, perhaps, considering what were the remedies then chiefly in vogue. Sylvester Judd, from whose “History of Hadley,” and also from Dr. Holland’s “History of Western Massachusetts,” the foregoing details have been gathered, gives a curious list, taken from medical prescriptions of the time:—the fat of a wild cat, blood of a goat, of an ass, of a white pigeon taken from under the wing, the tongue and lungs of a fox, liver of an eel and of a wolf, horns of a bug (beetle), teeth of a sea-horse, bone from the heart of a stag, the left foot of a tortoise, &c.

After the Indian and the French and Indian wars were over, there was but a short interval of rest before the War of Independence began. The long rugged battle with the savage and the wilderness had done its work well in training men for the struggle which was to sunder all bonds, and convert the colony into a new nation, master of its own destiny. Northampton was not the scene of any battles; but bore its part in furnishing some brave and leading men, and money, or money’s worth, to the army. After the war was over, came a time of depression and disorganization in public affairs and in trade, which culminated hereabouts in what is known as Shays’ Rebellion, so named from its leader; but it was soon quelled, and peace and prosperity settled down upon Northampton and upon the whole land.


If we lift a corner of the veil of time at the opening of the present century, we find our handful of settlers become a population of 4000,—there was no immigration in those days to swell the numbers by thousands and tens of thousands at a blow,—and possessed of resources for their social and intellectual welfare pretty much on a par with those of an English country town at that date of the same size: a little behind still in material comforts and luxuries, a little ahead in the amount of mental activity and the spirit of progress generated partly by more complete self-dependence, by the great and stirring times men had just passed through, and by hereditary influence from the parent stock, which was the pick of Old England in these qualities. [Pg 124]

The spirit of fellowship thrives where all are fellow-workers. There comes, it would seem, a happy transition time between the struggles, privations, isolation of the pioneers, and the wealth, luxury, and poverty (grim skeleton in the cupboard of advancing prosperity), when there yet remains a good measure of that sense of neighborship necessarily developed, when no man is independent of the free help and good-will of others, no man is born with a silver spoon in his mouth,—a time, in short, when sociability is and “society” is not, and those to whom the lines have fallen in pleasant places can stretch out a friendly hand to the less fortunate without suspicion of condescension or patronage.

For sample, we will take a single group, the door of whose hospitable house has been set open for us by the privately printed memoirs of Mrs Anne Jean Lyman. The inmates are a judge, his wife, and a large family of children of all ages, for he has been twice married. The judge is a genuine product of the soil, his family having for at least three generations back been settled in Northampton. His wife, who is from the neighborhood of Boston, of Scotch ancestry on one side, and on the other descended from Anne Hutchinson (the eloquent woman-preacher, who, banished for heterodoxy from their settlement by the Pilgrim Fathers, was killed by the Indians in 1643), may be taken as a good but typical instance of the New England woman of that day—capable, practical, aspiring, intellectual, friendly above all.

There are no stirring adventures, no record of any achievements of genius in these memoirs, but the unpretending pages reflect a clear image of two fine characters, well adjusted to the social conditions amid which they lived. Both had beauty and dignity of person, warm sympathies, good brains, abundant energy, and a spirit of hospitality which made their home the focus where the worth and intellect of the village were wont to gather and to shine brightest and warmest. Northampton has now its row of thriving stores, to which the people from neighboring villages flock on market-days, making a cheerful bustle. The elms, planted by the pioneers on either side the street, from the boughs of one of which Jonathan Edwards had preached to the Indians, now spread a goodly shade. A four-horse stage from Boston, ninety miles distant, comes in every evening with bugle horn sounding gaily. The driver is the personal friend of the whole town, for his tenacious memory never lets slip a single message or commission—save on one memorable occasion, when he forgot to bring back his wife who had been visiting in Boston, and so furnished the village with a long-enduring joke. The social judge, when he hears the horn, takes his hat and with alert step and cheerful face, glowing in the evening light, hastens to Warner’s Tavern where the coach draws up, to welcome the arrivals and bring any friend who may be among them to his own home—and any stranger too, who seems in ill-health or sorrow, and not likely to be made comfortable at an inn. When the judge and his wife go yearly to Boston, a throng of neighbors flock into the library overnight, where the packing goes on, not only to take an affectionate leave, but to bring parcels of every size and commissions of every variety,—a pattern with request to bring back dresses for a family of five; and “could they go to the orphan asylum and see if a good child of ten could be bound out till she was eighteen? and if so, bring her back.” One requests them to call and see a sick mother at Sudbury, another a sick sister at Ware. Finally, a little boy, with bundle as large as himself, asks “if this would be too big to carry to grandmother?” “I’ll carry anything short of a cooking-stove,” says the kind lady; and wherever the stage stops to change horses, she runs round to hunt up the sick friend or deliver the parcel.

Here is a picture, in brief, of a day of home-life at a later period when the children are mostly grown up and the judge has retired from the Bench. It is the grey dawn of a summer’s day, and the mother is already up and doing, while the rest of her large family, all but the husband, are still asleep. Dressed in short skirt and white sacque, [Pg 125] she goes with broom and duster to her parlor and dining-room, opens wide the windows to the sweet morning air and the song of the birds, and puts all in order. At six o’clock she calls up her two maids, puts on her morning-dress and white cap, takes the large work-basket that always stands handy in the corner—for she mends not only for the family but for the maids and the hired man—and works till breakfast, when often fifteen or twenty cheerful souls assemble round the table. After which, with help of children and grandchildren, the dishes are swiftly washed, the table cleared, and husband and wife are then wont to take their seat at the front door, that they may greet the passer-by or send messages to neighbors: she with the work-basket and the book that always lay handy under the work—some essay, poem, history, novel (for she is an omnivorous reader, and her letters intelligently discuss current literary topics)—or with the peas and beans to shell and string for dinner; he with the newspaper. Among the passers-by with whom they chat come, at certain seasons of the year, the judges of the Supreme Court and other notable men,—Baron Renné, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Emerson, too, while he was yet a young unknown Unitarian minister. Seldom does the large family sit down to dinner without guests, for any one who drops in is asked to stay, or some wearied-looking passer-by is pressed to step in. In the afternoon the mother’s chosen seat is at the window of the west parlor looking towards the hills, and then the young people flock around while she reads aloud through the long summer afternoons. All must share in her enjoyment, and often is the wayfarer, some “good neighbor” or “intellectual starveling,” beckoned in “just to hear this rich passage we are reading—it won’t take long.” If she finds any with a strong desire for knowledge, she never rests till the means to supply the want are found, and more than one youth of promise afterwards fulfilled owed his first good chance in life to this wise, generous-hearted woman.


Northampton to-day carries her two hundred and thirty odd years lightly, and, save for the lofty and venerable elms, looks as young as the youngest of towns. How, indeed, can anything but the trees ever look old in America, since the atmosphere does not furnish old Time with moisture enough to write the record of his flight in grey tones and weather stains, and lichens, and worn and crumbling edges? Hawthorne’s “old manse” at Concord was the only ancient-looking house I saw. Either it had never been painted, or the paint was all worn off, and so the wooden walls had taken a silver-grey color, and, with its picturesque situation close to the Concord river and by the side of the field in which was fought the first battle in the War of Independence, it well deserves the honor and renown that have settled on it, both as associated with Emerson’s ancestors, his own early days, and with Hawthorne’s romance. But in general the yearly fresh coat of paint is a sort of new birth to the old houses, which makes them indistinguishable from modern ones, wood being still the material used in country-places for detached houses. But step inside some one or two of these pretty modest-looking cottages, under the shade of the Northampton elms, and you will find the low ceiling, the massive beams, small doors and windows, corner cupboards, and queer ups and downs along the passages, which tell that they were put up by hands long since mouldered in the grave, and make you feel as if you were at home again in some old Essex village.

Socially, the little town may be regarded as a kind of Cranford—but Cranford with a difference. There is the same preponderance of maiden ladies and widows—for what should the men do there? New England farming is a very slow and unprofitable affair compared with farming in the West, and there are no manufactures of any importance. There are the same tea-parties, with a solitary beau in the centre, “like the one white flower in the middle of a nosegay;” the same modest goodness, kindliness, refinement, making the best of limited means and of restricted interests. But even under these conditions the spirit of enterprise and of public spirit lurks in an American Cranford, and [Pg 126] strikes out boldly in some direction or other. What would Miss Jenkyns have said to the notion of a college which should embody the most advanced ideas for giving young women precisely the same educational opportunities as young men? She would justly have felt that it was enough to make Dr. Johnson turn in his grave. Yet such a scheme has been realized by one of the maiden ladies of Northampton or its immediate neighborhood, in Smith College—a really noble institution; where, also, the experiment is being tried of housing the students, not in one large building, but in a cluster of pretty-looking, moderate-sized homes, standing amid lawn and garden, where they are allowed, under certain restrictions, to enter into and receive the society of the village, so that their lives may not be a too monotonous routine and “grind.”

Another maiden lady has achieved a still more remarkable success, for she had no wealth of her own to enable her to carry out her idea—which was, to perfect and to introduce on a large scale the method, devised in Spain some hundred years ago, developed by Heinicke, a German, by Bell of Edinburgh, and by his son, in a system of “visible speech,”—for enabling the deaf and dumb to speak, not with the fingers but the voice, dumb no longer, and to hear with the eyes, so to speak, by reading the movements of the lips. Miss Harriet Rogers, who had never witnessed this method in operation, began by teaching a few pupils privately till her success induced a generous inhabitant of Northampton, Mr. Clarke, to come forward with £10,000 to found a Deaf and Dumb Institution, of which her little school formed the nucleus, and her unwearied devotion and special gifts the animating soul. Step into a class-room in one of these cheerful looking houses, surrounded by gay flower borders and well-kept lawns, standing on a hill just outside the town,—for here, too, the plan of a group of buildings has been adopted. About twenty children, boys and girls, are ranged, their faces eagerly looking towards a lady who stands on a raised platform. Her presence conveys a sense of that gentle yet resistless power which springs from a firm will, combined with a rich measure of sympathy and affection. She raises her hand a little way, and then moves it slowly along in a horizontal direction. The children open their mouths and utter a deep sustained tone, a plaintive, minor, wild, yet not unmusical sound. She raises it a little higher, and again moves it slowly along. The children immediately raise the pitch of their voices and sustain a higher tone. Again the voices, following the hand, sustain a yet higher, almost a shrill note. Then the hand waves up and down rapidly, and the tones faithfully follow its lead in swift transition, till they seem lost in a maze of varying inflexions; but always the voices are obedient to the waving hand. The teacher then makes a round O with thumb and forefinger, gradually parting them like the opening of the mouth. This is the sign for crescendo and diminuendo. The voices begin softly, swell into a great volume of sound, then die away again, still with those peculiar plaintive tones; yet much do the children seem to enjoy the exercise, though, to most of them, remember, the room is all the while soundless as the grave. They learn to vary the pitch of their voices partly by feeling with the hand the vibrations of the throat and chest,—quick and in the throat for high tones, slow and in the chest for low ones—partly by help of Bell’s written signs, which represent the position peculiar to each sound of the various organs of speech—throat, tongue, lips, back of the mouth, &c. This was a class of beginners chiefly learning to develop and control their hitherto unused voices. Inexhaustible is the patience, wonderful the tact employed by Miss Rogers and her able assistants in the far more difficult task of teaching actual speech. A small percentage of the children will prove too slow and blunt of perception ever to master it, and will have to be sent where the old finger alphabet is still the method in use. Some, on the other hand, will succeed so brilliantly that it will be impossible for a stranger to detect that they were once deaf-mutes,—that they seize your words with their eyes, not with their ears, and have never heard the sound of human speech, though they can speak. And the great bulk will return to [Pg 127] their homes capable of understanding in the main what is going on around them, and of making themselves intelligible to their friends without recourse to signs.

Our actual Cranford over the sea, then, has a considerable advantage over the Cranford of romance, in that her heroines do not wait for the (in fiction) inevitable, faithful, long-absent, mysteriously-returning-at-the-right-moment lover to redeem their lives from triviality, and renew their faded bloom. And, in the present state of the world’s affairs, what is more needed than the single woman who succeeds in making her life worth living, honorably independent, and of value to others? Through such will certainly be given new scope and impetus to the development of woman generally, and in the long run, therefore, good results for all.

Among the solid achievements of Northampton must also be mentioned an excellent free library, with spacious airy reading-room, such as any city might be proud of. There is also a State lunatic asylum, with large farm attached, which not only supplies the most restorative occupation for those of the inmates who are capable of work, but defrays all the expenses of the institution, with an occasional surplus for improvements.

If I were asked what, after some years spent in America, impressed me most unexpectedly, I should say of the people, as of the New England landscape, So like! yet so different! I speak, of course, not of superficial differences, but of mental physiognomy and temperament. Given new conditions of climate, soil, space, with their subtle, slow, yet deep and sure modifying influences,—new qualities to the pleasures of life, new qualities to its pains and struggles, new social and political conditions, new mixing of old races, different antecedents, the primitive wrestle with nature by a people not primitive but inheriting the habits and characteristics of advanced civilization,—and how can there but result the shaping of a new race out of old world stock, a fresh instrument in the great orchestra of humanity? Indicate these differences, these traits! says the impatient reader. They are too subtle for words, like the perfume of flowers, the flavor of fruit,—too much intermingled with individual qualities also, at any rate for mere descriptive words, though no doubt in time the imaginative literature of America will creatively embody them.

One lesson whoever has lived in, not merely travelled through America, must learn perforce. It is that the swift steamers, bringing a succession of more or less keen observers, the telegrams and newspapers, which we fondly imagine annihilate space and make us fully cognizant of the character and affairs of our far-off kindred are by no means such wonder-workers. In spite of newspapers, and telegrams, and travellers, and a common language and ancestry, we are full of misconceptions about each other. Nay, I found the actual condition of my own country drift slowly out of intelligible sight after a year or two’s absence. Even if every word uttered and printed were true, that which gives them their significance cannot be so transmitted; whilst the great forces that are shaping and building up a people’s life and character work silently beneath the surface, so that truly may it be said of a nation, as of an individual, “The heart knoweth its own bitterness, and a stranger intermeddleth not with its joy.” Save by the help of vital literature—in that, at last, the souls of the nations speak to one another.—Blackwood’s Magazine.



Those who expected from Mr. Harrison an interesting rejoinder to my reply, will not be disappointed. Those who looked for points skilfully made, which either are, or seem to be, telling, will be fully satisfied. Those who sought pleasure from witnessing a display of [Pg 128] literary power, will close his article gratified with the hour they have spent over it. Those only will be not altogether contented who supposed that my outspoken criticism of Mr. Harrison’s statements and views, would excite him to an unusual display of that trenchant style for which he is famous; since he has, for the most part, continued the discussion with calmness. After saying thus much it may seem that some apology is needed for continuing a controversy of which many, if not most, readers, have by this time become weary. But gladly as I would leave the matter where it stands, alike to save my own time and others’ attention, there are sundry motives which forbid me. Partly my excuse must be the profound importance and perennial interest of the questions raised. Partly I am prompted by the consideration that it is a pity to cease just when a few more pages will make clear sundry of the issues, and leave readers in a better position for deciding. Partly it seems to me wrong to leave grave misunderstandings unrectified. And partly I am reluctant on personal grounds to pass by some of Mr. Harrison’s statements unnoticed.

One of these statements, indeed, it would be imperative on me to notice, since it reflects on me in a serious way. Speaking of the Descriptive Sociology, which contains a large part (though by no means all) of the evidence used in the Principles of Sociology, and referring to the compilers who, under my superintendence, selected the materials forming that work, Mr. Harrison says:—

Of course these intelligent gentlemen had little difficulty in clipping from hundreds of books about foreign races sentences which seem to support Mr. Spencer’s doctrines. The whole proceeding is too much like that of a famous lawyer who wrote a law book, and then gave it to his pupils to find the “cases” which supported his law.

Had Mr. Harrison observed the dates, he would have seen that since the compilation of the Descriptive Sociology was commenced in 1867 and the writing of the Principles of Sociology in 1874, the parallel he draws is not altogether applicable: the fact being that the Descriptive Sociology was commenced seven years in advance for the purpose (as stated in the preface) of obtaining adequate materials for generalizations: sundry of which, I may remark in passing, have been quite at variance with my pre-conceptions.[62] I think that on consideration, Mr. Harrison will regret having made so grave an insinuation without very good warrant; and he has no warrant. Charity would almost lead one to suppose that he was not fully conscious of its implications when he wrote the above passage; for he practically cancels them immediately afterwards. He says:—“But of course one can find in this medley of tables almost any view. And I find facts which make for my view as often as any other.” How this last statement consists with the insinuation that what Mr. Harrison calls a “medley” of tables contains evidence vitiated by special selection of facts, it is difficult to understand. If the purpose was to justify a foregone conclusion, how does it happen that there are (according to Mr. Harrison) as many facts which make against it as there are facts which make for it?

The question here incidentally raised concerns the primitive religious idea. Which is the original belief, fetichism or the ghost-theory? The answer should profoundly interest all who care to understand the course of human thought; and I shall therefore not apologize for pursuing the question a little further.

Having had them counted, I find that in those four parts of the Descriptive Sociology which give accounts of the uncivilized races, there are 697 extracts which refer to the ghost-theory: illustrating the belief in a wandering double which goes away during sleep, or fainting, or other form of insensibility, and deserts the body for a longer period at death,—a double which can enter into and possess other persons, causing disease, epilepsy, insanity, etc., which gives rise to ideas of spirits, demons, etc., and which originates propitiation and worship of ghosts. On the other hand there are 87 extracts which refer to the worship of inanimate objects or belief in [Pg 129] their supernatural powers. Now even did these 87 extracts support Mr. Harrison’s view, this ratio of 8 to 1 would hardly justify his statement that the facts “make for my [his] view as often as any other.” But these 87 extracts do not make for his view. To get proof that the inanimate objects are worshipped for themselves simply, instances must be found in which such objects are worshipped among peoples who have no ghost-theory; for wherever the ghost-theory exists it comes into play and originates those supernatural powers which certain objects are supposed to have. When by unrelated tribes scattered all over the world, we find it held that the souls of the dead are supposed to haunt the neighboring forests—when we learn that the Karen thinks “the spirits of the departed dead crowd around him;”[63] that the Society Islanders imagined spirits “surrounded them night and day watching every action;”[64] that the Nicobar people annually compel “all the bad spirits to leave the dwelling;”[65] that an Arab never throws anything away without asking forgiveness of the Efrits he may strike;[66] and that the Jews thought it was because of the multitudes of spirits in synagogues that “the dress of the Rabbins become so soon old and torn through their rubbing;”[67] when we find the accompanying belief to be that ghosts or spirits are capable of going into, and emerging from, solid bodies in general, as well as the bodies of the quick and the dead; it becomes obvious that the presence of one of these spirits swarming around, and capable of injuring or benefiting living persons, becomes a sufficient reason for propitiating an object it is assumed to have entered: the most trivial peculiarity sufficing to suggest possession—such possession being, indeed, in some cases conceived as universal, as by the Eskimo, who think every object is ruled by “its or his, inuk, which word signifies “man,” and also owner or inhabitant.”[68] Such being the case, there can be no proof that the worship of the objects themselves was primordial, unless it is found to exist where the ghost-theory has not arisen; and I know no instance showing that it does so. But while those facts given in the Descriptive Sociology which imply worship of inanimate objects, or ascription of supernatural powers to them, fail to support Mr. Harrison’s view, because always accompanied by the ghost-theory, sundry of them directly negative his view. There is the fact that an echo is regarded as the voice of the fetich; there is the fact that the inhabiting spirit of the fetich is supposed to “enjoy the savory smell” of meat roasted before it; and there is the fact that the fetich is supposed to die and may be revived. Further, there is the summarized statement made by Beecham, an observer of fetichism in the region where it is supposed to be specially exemplified, who says that:—

The fetiches are believed to be spiritual, intelligent beings, who make the remarkable objects of nature their residence, or enter occasionally into the images and other artificial representations, which have been duly consecrated by certain ceremonies.... They believe that these fetiches are of both sexes, and that they require food.

These statements are perfectly in harmony with the conclusion that fetichism is a development of the ghost-theory, and altogether incongruous with the interpretation of fetichism which Mr. Harrison accepts from Comte.

Already I have named the fact that Dr. Tylor, who has probably read more books about uncivilized peoples than any Englishman living or dead, has concluded that fetichism is a form of spirit-worship, and that (to give quotations relevant to the present issue)

To class an object as a fetish, demands explicit statement that a spirit is considered as embodied in it or acting through it or communicating by it.[69]

... A further stretch of imagination enables the lower races to associate the souls of the dead with mere objects.[70]

... The spirits which enter or otherwise attach themselves to objects may be human souls. Indeed, one of the most natural cases of the fetish-theory is when a soul inhabits or haunts the relics of its former body.[71]

[Pg 130] Here I may add an opinion to like effect which Dr. Tylor quotes from the late Prof. Waitz, also an erudite anthropologist. He says:—

“According to his [the negro’s] view, a spirit dwells or can dwell in every sensible object, and often a very great and mighty one in an insignificant thing. This spirit he does not consider as bound fast and unchangeably to the corporeal thing it dwells in, but it has only its usual or principal abode in it.”[72]

Space permitting I might add evidence furnished by Sir Alfred Lyall, who, in his valuable papers published in the Fortnightly Review years ago on religion in India, has given the results of observations made there. Writing to me from the North-West provinces under date August 1, in reference to the controversy between Mr. Harrison and myself, he incloses copies of a letter and accompanying memorandum from the magistrate of Gorakhpur, in verification of the doctrine that ghost-worship is the “chief source and origin” of religion. Not, indeed, that I should hope by additional evidences to convince Mr. Harrison. When I point to the high authority of Dr. Tylor as on the side of the ghost-theory, Mr. Harrison says—“If Dr. Tylor has finally adopted it, I am sorry.” And now I suppose that when I cite these further high authorities on the same side, he will simply say again “I am sorry,” and continue to believe as before.

In respect of the fetichism distinguishable as nature-worship, Mr. Harrison relies much on the Chinese. He says:—

The case of China is decisive. There we have a religion of vast antiquity and extent, perfectly clear and well ascertained. It rests entirely on worship of Heaven, and Earth, and objects of Nature, regarded as organized beings, and not as the abode of human spirits.

Had I sought for a case of “a religion of vast antiquity and extent, perfectly clear and well ascertained,” which illustrates origin from the ghost-theory, I should have chosen that of China; where the State-religion continues down to the present day to be an elaborate ancestor-worship, where each man’s chief thought in life is to secure the due making of sacrifices to his ghost after death, and where the failure of a first wife to bear a son who shall make these sacrifices, is held a legitimate reason for taking a second. But Mr. Harrison would, I suppose, say that I had selected facts to fit my hypothesis. I therefore give him, instead, the testimony of a bystander. Count D’Alviella has published a brochure concerning these questions on which Mr. Harrison and I disagree.[73] In it he says on page 15:—

La thèse de M. Harrison, au contraire,—que l’homme aurait commencé par l’adoration d’objets matériels “franchement regardés comme tels,”—nous paraît absolument contraire au raisonnement et à l’observation. Il cite, à titre d’exemple, l’antique religion de la Chine, “entièrement basée sur la vénération de la Terre, du Ciel et des Ancêtres, considérés objectivement et non comme la residence d’êtres immatériels.” [This sentence is from Mr, Harrison’s first article, not from his second.] C’est là jouer de malheur, car, sans même insister sur ce que peuvent être des Ancêtres “considérés objectivement,” il se trouve précisément que la religion de l’ancien empire Chinois est le type le plus parfait de l’animisme organise et qu’elle regarde même les objets matériels, dont elle fait ses dieux, comme la manifestation inséparable, l’enveloppe ou même le corps d’esprits invisibles. [Here in a note Count D’Alviella refers to authorities, notamment Tiele, Manuel de l’Histoire des Religions, traduit par M. Maurice Vernes, Liv. II, et dans la Revue de l’Histoire des Religions, la Religion de l’ancien empire Chinois par M. Julius Happel (t. IV. no. 6).]

Whether Mr. Harrison’s opinion is or is not changed by this array of counter-opinion, he may at any rate be led somewhat to qualify his original statement that “Nothing is more certain than that man everywhere started with a simple lead worship of natural objects.”

I pass now to Mr. Harrison’s endeavor to rebut my assertion that he had demolished a simulacrum and not the reality.

I pointed out that he had inverted my meaning by representing as negative that which I regarded as positive. What I have everywhere referred to as the All-Being, he named the All-Nothingness. What answer does he make when I show that my position is exactly the reverse of that alleged? He says that while I am “dealing with transcendental conceptions, intelligible only to certain trained metaphysicians,” he is “dealing with religion as it affects the lives of men and women in [Pg 131] the world;” that “to ordinary men and women, an unknowable and inconceivable Reality is practically an Unreality;” and that thus all he meant to say was that the “Everlasting Yes” of the “evolutionist,” “is in effect on the public a mere Everlasting No,” (p. 354). Now compare these passages in his last article with the following passages in his first article:—“One would like to know how much of the Evolutionist’s day is consecrated to seeking the Unknowable in a devout way, and what the religious exercises might be. How does the man of science approach the All-Nothingness” (p. 502)? Thus we see that what was at first represented as the unfitness of the creed considered as offered to the select is now represented as its unfitness considered as offered to the masses. What were originally the “Evolutionist” and the “man of science” are now changed into “ordinary men and women” and “the public;” and what was originally called the All-Nothingness has become an “inconceivable Reality.” The statement which was to be justified is not justified but something else is justified in its stead.

Thus is it, too, with the paragraph in which Mr. Harrison seeks to disprove my assertion that he had exactly transposed the doctrines of Dean Mansel and myself, respecting our consciousness of that which transcends perception. He quotes his original words, which were “there is a gulf which separates even his all-negative deity from Mr. Spencer’s impersonal, unconscious, unthinkable Energy.” And he then goes on to say “I was speaking of Mansel’s Theology, not of his Ontology. I said “deity,” not the Absolute.” Very well; now let us see what this implies. Mansel, as I was perfectly well aware, supplements his ontological nihilism with a theological realism. That which in his ontological argument he represents as a mere “negation of conceivability,” he subsequently re-asserts on grounds of faith, and clothes with the ordinarily-ascribed divine attributes. Which of these did I suppose Mr. Harrison meant by “all-negative deity”? I was compelled to conclude he meant that which in the ontological argument was said to be a “negation of conceivability.” How could I suppose that by “all-negative deity” Mr. Harrison meant the deity which Dean Mansel as a matter of “duty” rehabilitates and worships in his official capacity as priest. It was a considerable stretch of courage on the part of Mr. Harrison to call the deity of the established church an “all-negative deity.” Yet in seeking to escape from the charge of misrepresenting me he inevitably does this by implication.

In his second article Mr. Harrison does not simply ascribe to me ideas which are wholly unlike those my words express, but he ascribes to me ideas I have intentionally excluded. When justifying my use of the word “proceed,” as the most colorless word I could find to indicate the relation between the knowable manifestations present to perception and the Unknowable Reality which transcends perception, I incidentally mentioned, as showing that I wished to avoid those theological implications which Mr. Harrison said were suggested, that the words originally written were “created and sustained;” and that though in the sense in which I used them the meanings of these words did not exceed my thought, I had erased them because “the ideas” associated with these words might mislead. Yet Mr. Harrison speaks of these erased words as though I had finally adopted them, and saddles me with the ordinary connotations. If Mr. Harrison defends himself by quoting my words to the effect that the Inscrutable Existence manifested through phenomena “stands towards our general conception of things in substantially the same relation as does the Creative Power asserted by Theology;” then I point to all my arguments as clearly meaning that when the attributes and the mode of operation ordinarily ascribed to “that which lies beyond the sphere of sense” cease to be ascribed, “that which lies beyond the sphere of sense” will bear the same relation as before to that which lies within it, in so far that it will occupy the same relative position in the totality of our consciousness: no assertion being made concerning the mode of connexion of the one with the other. Surely when I have deliberately avoided the word “create” to express the connexion between noumenal cause and the phenomenal effect, because it might suggest the ordinary idea of a creating power separate from [Pg 132] the created thing, Mr. Harrison was not justified in basing arguments against me on the assumption that I had used it.

But the course in so many cases pursued by him of fathering upon me ideas incongruous with those I have expressed, and making me responsible for the resulting absurdities, is exhibited in the most extreme degree, by the way in which he has built up for me a system of beliefs and practices. In his first article occur such passages as—“seeking the Unknowable in a devout way” (p. 502); can anyone “hope anything of the Unknowable or find consolation therein?” (p. 503); and to a grieving mother he represents me as replying to assuage her grief, “Think on the Unknowable” (p. 503). Similarly in his second article he writes “to tell them that they are to worship this Unknowable is equivalent to telling them to worship nothing” (p. 357); “the worship of the Unknowable is abhorrent to every instinct of genuine religion” (p. 360); “praying to the Unknowable at home” (p. 376); and having in these and kindred ways fashioned for me the observances of a religion which he represents me as “proposing,” he calls it “one of the most gigantic paradoxes in the history of thought” (p. 355). So effectually has Mr. Harrison impressed everybody by these expressions and assertions, that I read in a newspaper—“Mr. Spencer speaks of the ‘absurdities of the Comtean religion,’ but what about his own peculiar cult?”

Now the whole of this is a fabric framed out of Mr. Harrison’s imaginations. I have nowhere “proposed” any object of religion.” I have nowhere suggested that anyone should “worship this Unknowable.” No line of mine gives ground for inquiring how the Unknowable is to be sought “in a devout way,” or for asking what are “the religious exercises;” nor have I suggested that anyone may find “consolation therein.” Observe the facts. At the close of my article “Religion; a Retrospect and Prospect,” I pointed out to “those who think that science is dissipating religious beliefs and sentiments” that whatever of mystery is taken from the old interpretation is added to the new;” increase rather than diminution being the result. I said that in perpetually extending our knowledge of the Universe, concrete science “enlarges the sphere for religious sentiment;” and that progressing knowledge is “accompanied by an increasing capacity for wonder.” And in my second article, in further explanation, I have represented my thesis to be “that whatever components of this [the religious] sentiment disappear, there must ever survive those which are appropriate to the consciousness of a Mystery that cannot be fathomed and a Power that is omnipresent.” This is the sole thing for which I am responsible. I have advocated nothing; I have proposed no worship; I have said nothing about “devotion,” or “prayer,” or “religious exercises,” or “hope,” or “consolation.” I have simply affirmed the permanence of certain components in the consciousness which “is concerned with that which lies beyond the sphere of sense.” If Mr. Harrison says that this surviving sentiment is inadequate for what he thinks the purposes of religion, I simply reply—I have said nothing about its adequacy or inadequacy. The assertion that the emotions of awe and wonder form but a fragment of religion, leaves me altogether unconcerned: I have said nothing to the contrary. If Mr. Harrison sees well to describe the emotions of awe and wonder as “some rags of religious sentiment surviving” (p. 358), it is not incumbent on me to disprove the fitness of his expression. I am responsible for nothing whatever beyond the statement that these emotions will survive. If he shows this conclusion to be erroneous, then indeed he touches me. This, however, he does not attempt. Recognizing though he does that this is all I have asserted, and even exclaiming “is that all!” (p. 358) he nevertheless continues to father upon me a number of ideas quoted above, which I have neither expressed nor implied, and asks readers to observe how grotesque is the fabric formed of them.

I enter now on that portion of Mr. Harrison’s last article to which is specially applicable its title “Agnostic Metaphysics.” In this he recalls sundry of the insuperable difficulties set forth by Dean Mansel, in his Bampton Lectures, as arising when we attempt to [Pg 133] frame any conception of that which lies beyond the realm of sense. Accepting, as I did, Hamilton’s general arguments, which Mansel applied to theological conceptions, I contended in First Principles that their arguments are valid, only on condition that that which transcends the relative is regarded not as negative, but as positive; and that the relative itself becomes unthinkable as such in the absence of a postulated non-relative. Criticisms on my reasoning allied to those made by Mr. Harrison, have been made before, and have before been answered by me. To an able metaphysician, the Rev. James Martineau, I made a reply which I may be excused here for reproducing, as I cannot improve upon it:—

Always implying terms in relation, thought implies that both terms shall be more or less defined; and as fast as one of them becomes indefinite, the relation also becomes indefinite, and thought becomes indistinct. Take the case of magnitudes. I think of an inch; I think of a foot; and having tolerably-definite ideas of the two, I have a tolerably-definite idea of the relation between them. I substitute for the foot a mile; and being able to represent a mile much less definitely, I cannot so definitely think of the relation between an inch and a mile—cannot distinguish it in thought from the relation between an inch and two miles, as clearly as I can distinguish in thought the relation between an inch and one foot from the relation between an inch and two feet. And now if I endeavor to think of the relation between an inch and the 240,000 miles from here to the Moon, or the relation between an inch and the 92,000,000 miles from here to the Sun, I find that while these distances, practically inconceivable, have become little more than numbers to which I frame no answering ideas, so, too, has the relation between an inch and either of them become practically inconceivable. Now this partial failure in the process of forming thought relations, which happens even with finite magnitudes when one of them is immense, passes into complete failure when one of them cannot be brought within any limits. The relation itself becomes unrepresentable at the same time that one of its terms becomes unrepresentable. Nevertheless, in this case it is to be observed that the almost-blank form of relation preserves a certain qualitative character. It is still distinguishable as belonging to the consciousness of extensions, not to the consciousnesses of forces or durations; and in so far remains a vaguely-identifiable relation. But now suppose we ask what happens when one term of the relation has not simply magnitude having no known limits, and duration of which neither beginning nor end is cognizable, but is also an existence not to be defined? In other words, what must happen if one term of the relation is not only quantitatively but also qualitatively unrepresentable? Clearly in this case the relation does not simply cease to be thinkable except as a relation of a certain class, but it lapses completely. When one of the terms becomes wholly unknowable, the law of thought can no longer be conformed to; both because one term cannot be present, and because relation itself cannot be framed.... In brief then, to Mr. Martineau’s objection I reply, that the insoluble difficulties he indicates arise here, as elsewhere, when thought is applied to that which transcends the sphere of thought; and that just as when we try to pass beyond phenomenal manifestations to the Ultimate Reality manifested, we have to symbolize it out of such materials as the phenomenal manifestations give us; so we have simultaneously to symbolize the connexion between this Ultimate Reality and its manifestations, as somehow allied to the connexions among the phenomenal manifestations themselves. The truth Mr. Martineau’s criticism adumbrates, is that the law of thought fails where the elements of thought fail; and this is a conclusion quite conformable to the general view I defend. Still holding the validity of my argument against Hamilton and Mansel, that in pursuance of their own principle the Relative is not at all thinkable as such, unless in contradiction to some existence posited, however vaguely, as the other term of a relation, conceived however indefinitely; it is consistent on my part to hold that in this effort which thought inevitably makes to pass beyond its sphere, not only does the product of thought become a dim symbol of a product, but the process of thought becomes a dim symbol of a process; and hence any predicament inferable from the law of thought cannot be asserted.[74]

Thus then criticisms like this of Mr. Martineau, often recurring in one shape or other, and now again made by Mr. Harrison, do not show the invalidity of my argument, but once more show the imbecility of human intelligence when brought to bear on the ultimate question. Phenomenon without noumenon is unthinkable; and yet noumenon cannot be thought of in the true sense of thinking. We are at once obliged to be conscious of a reality behind appearance, and yet can neither bring this consciousness of reality into any shape, nor can bring into any shape, its connexion with appearance. The forms of our thought, moulded on experiences of phenomena, as well as the connotations of our words formed to express the relations of phenomena, involve us in contradictions when we try to think of that which is beyond phenomena; [Pg 134] and yet the existence of that which is beyond phenomena is a necessary datum alike of our thoughts and our words. We have no choice but to accept a formless consciousness of the inscrutable.

I cannot treat with fulness the many remaining issues. To Mr. Harrison’s statement that it was uncandid in me to implicate him with the absurdities of the Comtean belief and ritual, notwithstanding his public utterances, I reply that whereas ten years ago I was led to think he gave but a qualified adhesion to Comte’s religious doctrine, such public utterances of his as I have read of late years, fervid in their eloquence, persuaded me that he had become a much warmer adherent. On his summary mode of dealing with my criticism of the Comtean creed some comment is called for. He remarks that there are “good reasons for declining to discuss with Mr. Spencer the writings of Comte;” and names, as the first, “that he knows [I know] nothing whatever about them” (p. 365). Now as Mr. Harrison is fully aware that thirty years ago I reviewed the English version of those parts of the Positive Philosophy which treat of Mathematics, Astronomy and Physics; and as he has referred to the pamphlet in which, ten years later, I quoted a number of passages from the original to signalize my grounds of dissent from Comte’s system; I am somewhat surprised by this statement, and by the still more emphatic statement that to me “the writings of Comte are, if not the Absolute Unknowable, at any rate the Absolute Unknown” (p. 365). Doubtless these assertions are effective; but like many effective assertions they do not sufficiently recognize the facts. The remaining statements in this division of Mr. Harrison’s argument, I pass over: not because answers equally adequate with those I have thus far given do not exist, but because I cannot give them without entering upon personal questions which I prefer to avoid.

On the closing part of “Agnostic Metaphysics” containing Mr. Harrison’s own version of the Religion of Humanity, I have at remark, as I find others remarking, that it amounts, if not to an abandonment of his original position, still to an entire change of front. Anxious, as he has professed himself, to retain the “magnificent word, Religion” (p. 504), it now appears that when “the Religion of Humanity” is spoken of, the usual connotations of the word are to be in a large measure dropped: to give it these connotations is “to foist in theological ideas where none are suggested by us” (p. 369). While, in his first article, one of the objections raised to the “neo-theisms” as well as “the Unknowable,” was that there is offered “no relation whatever between worshipper and worshipped” (p. 505) (an objection tacitly implying that Mr. Harrison’s religion supplies this relation), it now appears that humanity is not to be worshipped in any ordinary sense; but that by worship is simply meant “intelligent love and respect for our human brotherhood,” and that “in plain words, the Religion of Humanity means recognising your duty to your fellow-man on human grounds” (p. 369). Certainly this is much less than what I and others supposed to be included in Mr. Harrison’s version of the Religion of Humanity. If he preaches nothing more than an ecstatic philanthropy, few will object; but most will say that his name for it conveyed to them a much wider meaning. Passing over all this, however, I am concerned chiefly to point out another extreme misrepresentation made by Mr. Harrison when discussing my criticism of Comte’s assertion that “veneration and gratitude” are due to the Great Being Humanity. After showing why I conceive “veneration and gratitude” are not due to Humanity, I supposed an opponent to exclaim (putting the passage within quotation marks) “But surely ‘veneration and gratitude’ are due somewhere,” since civilized society, with all its products “must be credited to some agency or other.” [This apostrophe, imagined as coming from a disciple of Comte, Mr. Harrison, on p. 373, actually represents as made in my own person!] To this apostrophe I have replied (p. 22) that “if ‘veneration and gratitude’ are due at all, they are due to that Ultimate Cause from which Humanity, individually and as a whole, in common with all other things has proceeded.” Whereupon Mr. Harrison [Pg 135] changes my hypothetical statement into an actual statement. He drops the “if,” and represents me as positively affirming that “veneration and gratitude” are due somewhere: saying that Mr. Spencer “lavishes his ‘veneration and gratitude,’ called out by the sum of human civilization, upon his Unknowable and Inconceivable Postulate” (p. 373). I should have thought that even the most ordinary reader, much more Mr. Harrison, would have seen that the argument is entirely an argument ad hominem. I deliberately and carefully guarded myself by the “if” against the ascription to me of any opinion, one way or the other: being perfectly conscious that much is to be said for and against. The optimist will unhesitatingly affirm that veneration and gratitude are due; while by the pessimist it will be contended that they are not due. One who dwells exclusively on what Emerson calls “the saccharine” principle in things, as illustrated for example in the adaptation of living beings to their conditions—the becoming callous to pains that have to be borne, and the acquirement of liking for labors that are necessary—may think there are good reasons for veneration and gratitude. Contrariwise, these sentiments may be thought inappropriate by one who contemplates the fact that there are some thirty species of parasites which prey upon man, possessing elaborate appliances for maintaining their hold on or within his body, and having enormous degrees of fertility proportionate to the small individual chances their germs have of getting into him and torturing him. Either view may be supported by masses of evidence; and knowing this I studiously avoided complicating the issue by taking either side. As anyone may see who refers back, my sole purpose was that of showing the absurdity of thinking that “veneration and gratitude” are due to the product and not to the producer. Yet, Mr. Harrison having changed my proposition “if they are due, etc.” into the proposition “they are due, etc.,” laughs over the contradictions in my views which he deduces, and to which he time after time recurs, commenting on my “astonishing perversity.”

In this division of Mr. Harrison’s article occur five other cases in which, after his manner, propositions are made to appear untenable or ludicrous; though anyone who refers to them as expressed by me will find them neither the one nor the other. But to show all this would take much trouble to small purpose. Indeed, I must here close the discussion, so far as my own desistence enables me. It is a wearisome and profitless business, this of continually going back on the record, now to show that the ideas ascribed to me are not the ideas I expressed, and now to show that the statements my opponent defends are not the statements he originally made. A controversy always opens side issues. Each new issue becomes the parent of further ones. The original questions become obscured in a swarm of collateral questions; and energies, in my case ill-spared, are wasted to little purpose.

Before closing, however, let me again point out that nothing has been said which calls for change of the views expressed in my first article.

Setting out with the statement that “unlike the ordinary consciousness, the religious consciousness is concerned with that which lies beyond the sphere of sense,” I went on to show that the rise of this consciousness begins among primitive men with the belief in a double belonging to each individual, which, capable of wandering away from him during life, becomes his ghost or spirit after death; and that from this idea of a being eventually distinguished as supernatural, there develop, in course of time, the ideas of supernatural beings of all orders up to the highest. Mr. Harrison has alleged that the primitive religion is not belief in, and propitiation of, the ghost, but is worship of “physical objects treated frankly as physical objects” (p. 498). That he has disproved the one view and proved the other, no one will, I think, assert. Contrariwise, he has given occasion for me to cite weighty authorities against him.

Next it was contended that in the assemblage of supernatural beings thus originating in each tribe, some, derived from chiefs, were superior to others; and that, as the compounding and recompounding of [Pg 136] tribes gave origin to societies having social grades and rulers of different orders, there resulted that conception of a hierarchy of ghosts or gods which polytheism shows us. Further it was argued that while, with the growth of civilization and knowledge, the minor supernatural agents became merged in the major supernatural agent, this single great supernatural agent, gradually losing the anthropomorphic attributes at first ascribed, has come in our days to retain but few of them; and, eventually losing these, will then merge into a consciousness of an Omnipresent Power to which no attributes can be ascribed. This proposition has not been contested.

In pursuance of the belief that the religious consciousness naturally arising, and thus gradually transformed, will not disappear wholly, but that “however much changed it must continue to exist,” it was argued that the sentiments which had grown up around the conception of a personal God, though modified when that conception was modified into the conception of a Power which cannot be known or conceived, would not be destroyed. It was held that there would survive, and might even increase, the sentiments of wonder and awe in presence of a Universe of which the origin and nature, meaning and destiny, can neither be known nor imagined; or that, to quote a statement afterwards employed, there must survive those emotions “which are appropriate to the consciousness of a Mystery that cannot be fathomed and a Power that is omnipresent.” This proposition has not been disproved; nor, indeed, has any attempt been made to disprove it.

Instead of assaults on these propositions to which alone I am committed, there have been assaults on various propositions gratuitously attached to them; and then the incongruities evolved have been represented as incongruities for which I am responsible.

I end by pointing out as I pointed out before, that “while the things I have said have not been disproved, the things which have been disproved are things I have not said.”—Nineteenth Century.


The Correspondence and Diaries of John Wilson Croker, Secretary to the Admiralty from 1809 to 1830; a Founder and for Many Years a Chief Contributor to the Quarterly Review; and the Political, Literary or Personal Associate of Nearly All the Leading Characters in the Life of his Time. Edited by Louis J. Jennings. With portrait. Two volumes. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

John Wilson Croker was one of the most noted men of his day, not perhaps to the world at large, but to those who knew him in the important relations he bore to the many distinguished personages of his era. He knew everybody worth knowing; he was often in the secret councils of the great; he had an official position of great confidence; he was a literary man of brilliant ability which he, however, sometimes used unscrupulously; he was the principal power in one of the great English reviews, which fifty years ago were formidable agencies in making and unmaking men and opinions. These things make his reminiscences highly fascinating. He takes us into the best company, Wellington, Canning, Lyndhurst, Peel, Lord Ashburton, Lord Aberdeen, Sir James Graham, Guizot, Metternich, Sir Walter Scott, Isaac D’Israeli, Lockhart, Madame de Staël and innumerable others of similar celebrity. It need hardly be said that personal information, anecdotes and gossip about such people, who filled a large place in the public eye and mind, are all very fascinating. So we find, on opening these thick volumes anywhere, a mine of the deepest interest, and one can hardly go astray in turning over the pages. There can be no doubt that aside from the personal interest of these reminiscences, they constitute material of the richest character to the early history of our century. The only way properly to represent the value of such a work, is to give extracts from it indicating its quality, and this we shall propose to do. Among the things to which we shall first call attention, are the conversations with the Duke of Wellington, taken down as they occurred. The Iron Duke expressed the following opinion of his great antagonist, Napoleon, whom it seems he thoroughly despised as a man, however much he admitted his military genius: “I never was a believer in him, and I always thought that in the long-run we should overturn him. He never seemed himself at his ease, and even in the boldest things he did there was always a mixture of apprehension and meanness. I used to call him Jonathan Wild the Great, and at each new coup he made I used to cry out ‘Well done, Jonathan,’ to the great scandal of some of my hearers. But, the truth was, he had no more care about what was right or wrong, just or unjust, honorable or dishonorable, than Jonathan, though his great abilities, and the great stakes he played for, threw the knavery into the shade.” Again, he tells the following of Napoleon: “Buonaparte’s mind was, in its details, low and ungentlemanlike. I suppose the narrowness of his early prospects and habits stuck to him; what we understand by gentlemanlike feelings he knew nothing at all about; I’ll give you a curious instance.

“I have a beautiful little watch, made by Breguet, at Paris, with a map of Spain most admirably enamelled on the case. Sir Edward Paget bought it at Paris, and gave it to me. What do you think the history of this watch was—at least the history that Breguet told Paget, and Paget told me? Buonaparte had ordered it as a present to his brother, the King of Spain, but when he heard of the battle of Vittoria—he was then at Dresden in the midst of all the preparations and negotiations of the armistice, and one would think sufficiently busy with other matters—when he heard of the battle of Vittoria, I say, he remembered the watch he had ordered for one whom he saw would never be King of Spain, and with whom he was angry for the loss of the battle, and he wrote from Dresden to countermand the watch, and if it should be ready, to forbid its being sent. The best apology one can make for this strange littleness is, that he was offended with Joseph; but even in that case, a gentleman would not have taken the moment when the poor devil had lost his châteaux en Espagne, to take away his watch also.”

In a letter to Croker, the duke tells the story of the truth of his order to the Household troops at Waterloo, “Up, Guards, and at ’em,” so often quoted as the mot d’ordre of that famous charge which finally decided the day: “I certainly did not draw my sword. I may have ordered, and I dare say I did order, the charge of the cavalry, and pointed out its direction; but I did not charge as a common trooper. [Pg 137]

“I have at all times been in the habit of covering as much as possible the troops exposed to the fire of cannon. I place them behind the top of the rising ground, and make them sit and lie down, the better to cover them from the fire.

“After the fire of the enemy’s cannon, the enemy’s troops may have advanced, or a favorable opportunity of attacking might have arrived. What I must have said, and possibly did say was, Stand up, Guards! and then gave the commanding officers the order to attack.

“My common practice in a defensive position was to attack the enemy at the very moment at which he was about to attack our troops.”

Of Madame De Staël, of whom he saw much in London, he has many interesting anecdotes. He enlarges on her facial ugliness, redeemed by an eye of extraordinary brilliancy and meaning, her egotistic eloquence, her dazzling coruscations of wit, and her mannishness with a good deal of vigor. On the whole, Croker was not a great admirer of this brilliant woman, and declares that some of her most pungent sayings were audacious plagiarisms. He writes: “Moore in his lately published ‘Life of Sheridan,’ has recorded the laborious care with which he prepared his bons-mots. Madame de Staël condescended to do the same. The first time I ever saw her was at dinner at Lord Liverpool’s at Coombe Wood. Sir James Mackintosh was to have been her guide, and they lost their way, and went to Addiscombe and some other places by mistake, and when they got at last to Coombe Wood they were again bewildered, and obliged to get out and walk in the dark, and through the mire up the road through the wood. They arrived consequently two hours too late and strange draggled figures, she exclaiming by way of apology, ‘Coombe par ci, Coombe par là; nous avons été par tous les Coombes de l’Angleterre.’ During dinner she talked incessantly but admirably, but several of her apparently spontaneous mots were borrowed or prepared. For instance, speaking of the relative states of England and the Continent at that period, the high notion we had formed of the danger to the world from Buonaparte’s despotism, and the high opinion the Continent had formed of the riches, strength, and spirit of England; she insisted that these opinions were both just, and added with an elegant élan, ‘Les étrangers sont la postérité contemporaine.’ This striking expression I have since found in the journal of Camille Desmoulins.” [Pg 138]

Several very funny stories were told him by Sir Walter Scott, as among the traditions of Dr. Johnson’s visit to Scotland, and certainly they well establish the reputation of this great man as a rude and unsocial bear, except when he chose to be otherwise: “At Glasgow, Johnson had a meeting with Smith (Adam Smith), which terminated strangely. John Millar used to report that Smith, obviously much discomposed, came into a party who were playing at cards. The Doctor’s appearance suspended the amusement, for as all knew he was to meet Johnson that evening, every one was curious to hear what had passed. Adam Smith, whose temper seemed much ruffled, answered only at first, ‘He is a brute! he is a brute!’ Upon closer examination it appeared that Dr. Johnson no sooner saw Smith than he brought forward a charge against him for something in his famous letter on the death of Hume. Smith said he had vindicated the truth of the statement. ‘And what did the Doctor say?’ was the universal query: ‘Why, he said—he said—’ said Smith, with the deepest impression of resentment, ‘he said—“You lie!”’ ‘And what did you reply?’ ‘I said, “You are a————!”’ On such terms did these two great moralists meet and part, and such was the classic dialogue betwixt them.

“Johnson’s rudeness possibly arose from his retaining till late in life the habits of a pedagogue, who is a man among boys and a boy among men, and having the bad taste to think it more striking to leap over the little differences and courtesies which form the turnpike gates in society, and which fly open on payment of a trifling tribute. The auld Dominie hung vilely about him, and was visible whenever he was the coaxed man of the company—a sad symptom of a parvenu. A lady who was still handsome in the decline of years, and must have been exquisitely beautiful when she was eighteen, dined in company with Johnson, and was placed beside him at table with no little awe of her neighbor. He then always drank lemonade, and the lady of the house desired Miss S——h to acquaint him there was some on the sideboard. He made no answer except an indistinct growl. ‘Speak louder, Miss S——h, the Doctor is deaf.’ Another attempt, with as little success. ‘You do not speak loud enough yet, my dear Miss S——h.’ The lady then ventured to raise her voice as high as misses of eighteen may venture in the company of old doctors, and her description of the reply was that she heard an internal grumbling like Etna before explosion, which rolled up his mouth, and there formed itself into the distinct words, ‘When I want any, I’ll ask for it,’ which were the only words she heard him speak during the day. Even the sirup food of flattery was rudely repelled if not cooked to his mind. I was told that a gentleman called Pot, or some such name, was introduced to him as a particular admirer of his. The Doctor growled and took no further notice. ‘He admires in especial your “Irene” as the finest tragedy of modern times,’ to which the Doctor replied, ‘If Pot says so, Pot lies!’ and relapsed into his reverie.”

Croker was in Paris during the days after Waterloo, just subsequent to the accession of the Bourbon dynasty, and he is full of anecdotes of the people he met there, among others Talleyrand and Fouché.

July 17th.—We dined yesterday at Castlereagh’s with, besides the Embassy, Talleyrand, Fouché, Marshal Gouvion St. Cyr, and the Baron de Vitrolles, Lords Cathcart, Clancarty, Stewart, and Clive, and two ladies, the Princesse de Vaudemont, a fat, ugly old woman, and a Mademoiselle Chasse, her friend, a pretty young one. At so quiet a dinner you may judge there was not much interesting conversation, and accordingly I have not often been at a dinner of which I had less to tell. The wonder was to find ourselves at table with Fouché, who, to be sure, looks very like what one would naturally suppose him to be—a sly old rogue; but I think he seems to feel a passion of which I did not expect to find him capable; I mean shame, for he looks conscious and embarrassed. He is a man about 5ft. 7in. high, very thin, with a grey head, cropped and powdered, and a very acute expression of countenance. Talleyrand, on the other hand, is fattish for a Frenchman; his ankles are weak and his feet deformed, and he totters about in a strange way. His face is not at all expressive, except it be of a kind of drunken stupor; in fact, he looks altogether like an old fuddled, lame, village schoolmaster, and his voice is deep and hoarse. I should suspect that at the Congress his most natural employment would be keeping the unruly boys in order. We dined very late—that is, for Paris, for we were not at table till half-past six.”

Macaulay hated Croker bitterly, on account of the latter’s severe critiques on him in The Quarterly, and in no way was any love lost between the two men. This personal quarrel is described in an amusing way. Croker, by the way, was just as bitterly hated by Disraeli: though [Pg 139] the former had been a highly esteemed friend of Disraeli the elder, author of the “Curiosities of Literature.” Among the amenities of the Macaulay squabble we have the following:

“Macaulay, as it clearly appears from his own letters, was irritated beyond measure by Croker; he grew to ‘detest’ him. Then he began casting about for some means of revenge. This would seem incredible if he had not, almost in so many words, revealed the secret. In July, 1831, he wrote thus: ‘That impudent, leering Croker congratulated the House on the proof which I had given of my readiness. He was afraid, he said, that I had been silent so long on account of the many allusions which had been made to Calne. Now that I had risen again he hoped that they should hear me often. See whether I do not dust that valet’s jacket for him in the next number of the Blue and Yellow. I detest him more than cold boiled veal.’ From that time forth he waited impatiently for his opportunity to settle his account with Mr. Croker.

“In the previous month of March he had been looking out eagerly for the publication of the ‘Boswell.’ ‘I will certainly review Croker’s “Boswell” when it comes out,’ he wrote to Mr. Napier. He was on the watch for it, not with the object of doing justice to the book, but of ‘dusting the jacket’ of the author. But as his letters had not yet betrayed his malice to the world, he gravely began the dusting process by remarking, ‘This work has greatly disappointed us.’ What did he hope for, when he took it up, but precisely such a ‘disappointment?’ ‘Croker,’ he wrote, ‘looks across the House of Commons at me with a leer of hatred, which I repay with a gracious smile of pity.’ He had cultivated his animosity of Croker until it became a morbid passion. Yet it is conceivable that he did not intend posterity to see him in the picture drawn by his own hand, spending his time in the House of Commons straining his eyes to see if there was a ‘leer’ on Croker’s countenance, and returning it with gracious smiles of pity.”

Among the budget of anecdotes so profusely strewn through the book, the following may be given at random. The following is from a letter of Lady Ashburton to Croker, and reflects severely on one of the suave defects of Sir Robert Peel, then recently returned from office: “I must tell you an anecdote of Sir Bobby. If you read the list of people congregated to see his pictures, you will have seen there, not only all the artists, drawing-masters, men of science, but reporters and writers for journals. Thackeray, who furnishes the wit for ‘Punch,’ told Milnes that the ex-Minister came up to him and said, with the blandest smile: ‘Mr. Thackeray, I am rejoiced to see you. I have read with delight every line you ever wrote,’ Thackeray would have been better pleased if the compliment had not included all his works; so, to turn the subject, he observed that it must be a great gratification to live surrounded by such interesting objects of art. Sir R. replied: ‘I can assure you that it does not afford me the same satisfaction as finding myself in such society as yours!!!’ This seeking popularity by fulsome praise will not succeed.”

Here we have a capital French story:

“Old Languet, the celebrated Curé of St. Sulpice, was remarkable and disagreeable for the importunity with which he solicited subscriptions for finishing his church, which is not yet finished. One day at supper, where Cardinal de Fleury was, he happened to say that he had seen his Eminence’s portrait at some painter’s. The old Cardinal, who was stingy in private as well as economical in public expenditure, was glad to raise a laugh at the troublesome old curé, and replied, ‘I dare swear, then, you asked it (the picture) to subscribe;’ ‘Oh, no, my Lord,’ said Languet, ‘it was too like!’”

The richness of the following situation could hardly be paralleled:

“Every one knows the story of a gentleman’s asking Lord North who ‘that frightful woman was?’ and his lordship’s answering, that is my wife. The other, to repair his blunder, said I did not mean her, but that monster next to her. ‘Oh,’ said Lord North, ‘that monster is my daughter.’ With this story Frederick Robinson, in his usual absent enthusiastic way, was one day entertaining a lady whom he sat next to at dinner, and lo! the lady was Lady Charlotte Lindsay—the monster in question.”

These chance excerpts (and just as good things lie scattered on every page, so as to make a veritable embarras des richesses), indicate the character of the book, and how amply it will repay, both for pleasure and instruction, the reader who sits down to peruse it. Few works of recent times are so compact and meaty in just those qualities which make a work valuable alike for reference and continuous perusal.

The Story of My Life. By J. Marion Sims, M.D., L.L.D.. Edited by his son, H. Marion Sims, M.D. New York: D. Appleton & Co.

[Pg 140] The great name of Dr. Marion Sims in gynæcology, or the treatment of women’s diseases, has never been equalled in the same line in America, and the story of his life related in language of the plainest homespun is quite a fascinating record. Dr. Sims has several titles to fame, which we think will secure the perpetuity of his name in the annals of surgery and medicine. These are: his treatment and care of vesico-vaginal fistula, a most loathsome disease, before deemed incurable; his invention of the speculum; his exposition of the true pathology and method of treatment of trismus nascentium, or the lockjaw of infants; and the fact that he was the founder and organizer of “The Woman’s Hospital, of the State of New York,” the first institution ever endowed exclusively for the treatment of women’s diseases.

J. Marion Sims was a native of Alabama, and was educated academically in the Charleston College. His account of his early struggles for an education (for though born of a well-to-do family, money was not over plenty in his father’s home), is very entertaining, and the anecdotes of his juvenile life among a people full of idiosyncracies, are marked by humor and point. His medical education was completed at Jefferson College, Philadelphia, an institution which, ranking very high to-day, had no rival in the country half a century since. It is to be observed that Dr. Sims has a very graphic and simple method of telling his story, showing a genuine mastery of the fundamental idea of good writing, though he is always without pretence, and takes occasion from time to time to deplore his own faults as a literary worker. Yet no contributions to medical literature, aside from their intrinsic value have been more admired than his for their simple, clear force, and luminous treatment. After practising for several years as a country doctor, our great embryo surgeon moved to the city of Montgomery and began to devote himself more exclusively to operative surgery, the branch in which his talents so palpably ran. It was at Montgomery that he became specially interested in women’s diseases, and began to experiment on methods of treating one of the most loathsome and hitherto incurable diseases, which afflict woman, vesico-vaginal fistula, a trouble so often produced by childbirth. Dr. Sims practised on slave women, and turned his house and yard into a veritable hospital, spending a large part of his income in his enthusiastic devotion to the great discovery on the track of which he was moving. At last, he perfected the method of the operation, and made peculiar instruments for it. What had been impossible, he now performed with almost unerring certainty, and rarely lost a case. This became heralded abroad, and the name of Dr. Sims was discussed in New York and Philadelphia, as one who had made one of the most extraordinary discoveries in operative surgery.

His own health had been bad for years; and, as a Southern climate did not agree with him, he went to New York to live in 1852. Though at first he had a hard struggle, he fought his way with the same rugged pertinacity which he had previously shown. He was assailed with the bitterest professional jealousies, but, nothing daunted him, and he finally succeeded in founding his woman’s hospital, through the help of the wealthy and generous women of New York. His great discovery was attempted to be stolen from him by his envious rivals, but he had no trouble in establishing his right to the glory. He overbore all the opposition made against him, and settled his own reputation as one of the greatest surgeons of this or any age. In 1861, when the war broke out, Dr. Sims, who was strong in his secession sympathies, determined to take his family to Europe, so bitter was the feeling against him in New York. He went to Paris, and in a very short time his remarkable and original method of treating vesico-vaginal fistula, by means of silver sutures, gave him a European reputation, and honors were showered on him from all sides. The great surgeons of Europe freely credited him with the glory of having struck out an entirely new and splendid path in surgery, and his operations in the leading hospitals of Paris, London, Brussels and Berlin, were always brilliant ovations, always attended by the most prominent men in the profession, and a swarm of enthusiastic students. He also secured a very lucrative private practice, and performed cures which were heralded as phenomenal in medical books and journals. At different times he was the physician of the Empress of the French, of the Queen of England, and of other royal and distinguished personages. Patients came to him from the most distant quarters, and though a large portion of his time was given to hospital practice, his fees were very large and lucrative. His fame was now established on a secure basis, and the greatest men in Europe [Pg 141] freely acknowledged in Dr. Sims their peer. Though the most seductive offers were made to him, to settle permanently both in London and Paris, his heart was among his own countrymen. So at the close of the war he returned to New York. His most important work thenceforward was in connection with the Woman’s Hospital, though he treated innumerable private cases among the wealthy classes. The memoir proper ends with his Parisian career, and the rest of Dr. Sims’s life is told in the preface. He died in 1883, and so indomitable was his professional devotion, that he took notes and memoranda of his own disease up to a brief period before death. The life of Dr. Sims, while interesting to the general reader, will be found peculiarly valuable and attractive by professional men. A large portion of the book is given to a detailed description of the various steps which he took in experimenting on vesico-vaginal fistula, and of the difficulties which he so patiently and at last so triumphantly surmounted. In addition to his professional greatness, Dr. Sims was greatly beloved for the virtues of his private life. He was in the latter years a most sincere and devout Christian, and succeeded in avoiding that taint of scepticism, which so often shows itself in the medical fraternity.

Our Great Benefactors. Short Biographies of the Men and Women most Eminent in Literature, Science, Philosophy, Philanthropy, Art, etc. Edited by Samuel Adams Drake, Author of “New England Legends and Folk-Lore,” etc. With Nearly One Hundred Portraits Emblematically Embellished. Boston: Roberts Brothers.

This volume of something over five hundred pages, is very briefly, but yet truthfully, summed up in its title. The biographies are short and well written, and the author knows how to be graphic and picturesque without being in the least diffuse. He has selected the great leading personages in the arts of peace, who have exemplified human progress among the English speaking races, and given short sketches of them in chronological order. Boys will be specially interested in such a volume, and find in it both amusement and benefit. History has been defined as “philosophy teaching by example.” If this is the case with history, it is still more true of biography, for the concrete flesh and blood facts are brought much nearer home to the imagination than can be possible in history. The sketches vary from five to fifteen pages long, and are completely given, omitting no essential fact in the career, or essential trait in the character of those treated. The book is beautifully embellished with portraits.

Life of Mary Woolstonecraft. By Elizabeth Robins Pennell. Boston: Roberts Brothers.

This last volume in the “Famous Women” Series is one of much interest. The wife of William Godwin (the author of “Political Justice,” “Caleb Williams,” “St. Leon,” and other books distinguished in their day) and the mother of the wife of the poet Shelley, her life was one of singular intellectual significance and full of pathetic personal romance. Mary Woolstonecraft was born and bred under conditions which fostered great mental and moral independence. She chafed under the restraints of her sex, and was one of the first to embody in her life and theories that protest against the position of comparative inequality in her sex, which has of recent years been the battle-cry of a very considerable body of both men and women. It is only just to say, however, that very few of her successors have carried the doctrine of personal rights so far as she did; for it is a fact beyond dispute that she lived openly as the mistress of two men successively, Gilbert Imlay an American, and William Godwin. The latter she married only to legalize the birth of the child which she expected soon to bring into the world, and whose birth was at the price of the mother’s life. While her social errors are to be deplored, even those most downright in condemning such departures from the established order of things, when they look into all the circumstances of her life are disposed to palliate them. Certainly it must be admitted that, in spite of her deviation from that path which society so rigidly and properly exacts from woman, Mary Woolstonecraft was a person of singularly noble and pure instincts. We cannot go into the full explanation of this paradox, and only hope that many will read the full account of her life, if for no other reason, to find an illustration of the fact that a sinner may sometimes be as noble and upright as the saint, and that doctrinarianism in morals as well as in politics, finds many an exception to the truth of its logic. Mary Woolstonecraft worked enthusiastically for the elevation of her sex, nor did she ever seek to enforce as a rule to be followed, that freedom of action which she conceived to be justified by her own case. The earlier part of her life was singularly stormy and tragic, and when her lover, Imlay, whom she [Pg 142] looked on as her husband, deserted her, she attempted to commit suicide. When, at last, she met Godwin, her spirit had recovered from the shock she had received, she was recognized as an intellectual force in England, and her society was sought for and valued by many of the worthiest and most distinguished people in England. Her connection with Godwin, which was finally consecrated by marriage, was one of great personal and intellectual happiness. Her labors for the rights of woman, her fine appeals for national education, and her many tractates on not a few social, political, and moral questions, are marked by acuteness, breadth, and eloquence of statement. The author, Mrs. Pennell, has performed her labor with a nice and discriminating touch. While she does not pass lightly over the errors of her heroine, she recognizes what was peculiar in her position, and how a woman of her views could deliberately act in such a manner without essentially falling from her high pedestal as a pure woman. The author has given the world an interesting book not unworthy of the series, and one that happily illustrates the fact that two and two may make five and not four, though it would not do for the world to figure out its arithmetic on this principle.

Principles of Political Economy. By John Stuart Mill. Arranged with Critical, Bibliographical and Explanatory Notes, and A Sketch of the History of Political Economy, by J. Laurence McLaughlin, Ph.D., Ass’t. Professor of Political Economy in Harvard University. A Text-Book for Colleges. New York: D. Appleton & Co.

The views of John Stuart Mill, one of the clearest and strongest thinkers on this and kindred subjects, of our century, on political economy, have been so often discussed in all manner of forms, from elaborate disquisitions to newspaper articles, that it is not needed now to enter into any explanation of the differences which distinguished him from the rest of his brother philosophers. The object of the present edition is to add to the body of Mill’s opinion the results of later thinking, which do not militate against his views; with such illustrations as fit the Mill system better for American students, by turning their attention to the facts peculiar to this country. Mill’s two volumes have been abridged into one, and while their lucidity is not impaired, the system is put into a much more compact and readable form, care being taken to avoid technicality and abstractness. Prof. McLaughlin’s own notes and additions (inserted into the body of the text in smaller type) are printed in smaller type so as to be readily distinguished. This compact arrangement of Mill’s economical philosophy will attract many readers, who were frightened by the large and complete edition.

A Review of the Holy Bible. Containing the Old and New Testaments. By Edward B. Latch. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co.

Whether this work will be regarded as throwing any light on the sacred Scriptures, depends on the credulity of the reader, and his pious sympathies. After a casual perusal of the work, it is difficult to see any good end it serves, except so far as all exegetical comment may be of value. The number of such books is already legion, and their multiplication is a weariness to the flesh. The comments made by Mr. Leach, whom we judge by implication to be a layman, are such as any good orthodox preacher might make from his pulpit or in the prayer-meeting room. While they are not distinguished by any noticeable freshness and originality, they are soundly stated, accurate orthodoxy. We fancy that many a poor pious soul in the depths of country farm-houses will get spiritual refreshment, and certainly she will not be likely to find much to clash with her prejudices.

The Young Folks’ Josephus. The Antiquities of the Jews and the Jewish Wars. Simplified by William Shepard. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co.

Every year sees more of that sort of emasculation of standard historians, annalists and others, adapted to make their matter not only cleanly, but easily within the childish grasp. While there are many reasons to deplore the necessity of doing this on the same principle that one hates to see any noble work mutilated even of its faults, there is enough advantage to justify it perhaps. The author has simplified and condensed the history of the Jews by their great annalist with taste and good judgment, by no means as easy a task as it looks. We get all the stories of a special interest very neatly told, properly arranged in chronological order, and put in sufficiently simple language to meet the intelligence of youngsters. The work is handsomely illustrated, beautifully printed, and altogether a creditable piece of typography and binding. It will make a nice holiday book for reading boys and girls, and we fancy that this is the special reason for its being. [Pg 143]


Japanese newspaper enterprise is making rapid progress. It is stated that no less than three vernacular newspapers published at Tokio and one at Kobe have sent special correspondents to report the events of the war in China.

From various quarters of the world reports are received of the operations of the Society for Propagating the French Language, which receives the full support of the Government and officials of the Republic. It is doing its work in some places where English would be expected to be maintained. For the promotion of our language no effort is made, as an attempt of the Society of St. George met with no practical result. It is true that the growth of population is adding to the hundred millions of the English-speaking races, but there are many regions where the language is neglected.

The event in literary circles in Constantinople is the appearance of the second volume of the history of Turkey by Ahmed Jevdet Pasha. How many years he has been engaged on this work we do not know, but at all events a quarter of a century, and as he has been busy in high office throughout the time his perseverance is the more remarkable. He was among the first of the Ulema to acquire European languages, which he did for the express purpose of this work. He has also co-operated actively in promoting the local school of history.

At the last meeting but one of the New Shakspeare Society, Mr. Ewald Flügel, of Leipsic, read some early eighteenth-century German opinions on Shakspere which amused his hearers. They were from the works of his great-grandfather Mencke, a celebrated professor of his day, who was also the ancestor of Prince Bismarck’s wife. In 1700 Mencke declared that “Certainly Dryden was the most excellent of English poets; in every kind of poetry, but especially as a writer of tragedies. In tragedy he was neither inferior to the French Corneille nor the English Shakspere; and the latter he the more excelled inasmuch as he (Dryden) was more versed in literature.” In 1702, Mencke reported Dryden’s opinion that Shakspere was inferior to Ben Jonson, if not in genius, yet certainly in art and finish, though Hales thought Shakspere superior to every poet, then living or dead. In 1725, Mencke quoted Richard Carew’s opinion (in Camden’s Remaines, 1614) that Catullus had found his equal in Shakspere and Marlowe [Barlovius; Carew’s “Barlow”]; and in his dictionary, 1733, Mencke gave the following notice of Shakspere, “William Shakspere, an English dramatist, was born at Stratford in 1654, was badly educated, and did not understand Latin; nevertheless, he became a great poet. His genius was comical, but he could be very serious, too; was excellent in tragedies, and had many subtle and interesting controversies with Ben Jonson; but no one was any the better for all these. He died at Stratford in 1616, April 23, 53 years old. His comedies and tragedies—and many did he write—have been printed together in six parts in 1709 at London, and are very much appreciated.”

There are now in London two societies for philosophical discussion—the Aristotelian and the Philosophical. The latter society was founded last winter under the chairmanship of Mr. J. S. Stuart-Glennie. Green’s Prolegomena to Ethics having been the general subject of discussion during the year, the chairman brought the first year to a close last month with a valedictory address on “The Criteria of Truth.” It is proposed to continue the discussion of this subject in taking up Mr. Herbert Spencer’s Psychology, and beginning with Part VII., “General Analysis.” The society meets at Dr. Williams’s Library at eight o’clock on the fourth Thursday of every month from October to July.

Mr. H. C. Maxwell Lyte is now so far advanced with the history of the University of Oxford, upon which he has been engaged for some years, that an instalment of it, tracing the growth of the University from the earliest times to the revival of learning, is likely to be published by Messrs. Macmillan & Co. early in the coming year. This volume will be complete in itself, and accordingly provided with an index of its own.

The Cercle de la Librairie at Paris intends to open an exhibition of the designs of Gustave Doré for the illustration of books. Many noted French firms—Hachette, Mame, Jouvet, Hetzel, and Calmann Lévy—will contribute, and so will Le Journal pour Rire, the Monde Illustré, &c. Foreign publishers are also invited to take part.

At the opening of the winter season of the Arts Club in Manchester, Mr. J. H. Nodal stated that more books were written and published in Manchester than anywhere else in the kingdom, with the exception of London and Edinburgh, and that he believed that Manchester as a music-publishing centre came next to London.

[Pg 144]


Heligoland as a Strategical Island.—Regarded from a strategical point of view, the situation of Heligoland, only a few miles off from the mouths of the Elbe and Weser rivers, and commanding the sea entrance to the important trade centres of Bremen and Hamburg, is of considerable importance. Although any hostile differences between England and Germany are not very probable, in military circles in Germany an agitation has been going on for some years to ensure its possession by that country, as a necessary part of the coast defence of the empire; and this suggestion has been powerfully supported by Vice-Admiral Henck in the German Review, vol. ii. 1882. It has been proposed to purchase the island from England, but a great many object to the cost of the purchase, and the expense of the fortifications. Some, indeed, go further than the military strategists, and say that the abolition of the Heligoland Constitution in 1868 was illegitimate, because it was in violation of old rights and explicit assurances; destitute of well-grounded justification, because its ostensible objects could have been more successfully attained by other means; inadequate, because it failed to secure in any considerable degree the results which it proposed to seek. It must be here mentioned that a very good reason against any cession, voluntary or by sale, of the island to Germany, is the probability of the misconstruction of such an act by France, who, liable at any moment to a war with that country, would see in England handing over Heligoland to her possible foe, for the purpose of being formed into a marine fortress to defend the mouths of the Elbe and the Weser, or into a naval depôt, an aid to Germany in defence against that which France possesses, next to England, the most powerful means of attacking, namely, her preponderance in naval power. England and Germany are not likely to be embroiled in war, England and France are too closely connected all over the world to wish to be so. If Germany and France unfortunately come to blows again, England can exercise the benevolent neutrality of 1870, and proudly, firmly, but calmly, remain in possession of her distant island.—Army and Navy Magazine.

How the Coldstreams got their Motto.—The Coldstreams were raised in the year 1650, in the little town near Berwick-on-Tweed from whence the regiment takes its name. Their first colonel was the renowned George Monk (afterwards Duke of Albemarle), a General in the Parliamentary army and an Admiral of the fleet. It is owing to this latter fact that a small Union Jack is permitted to be borne on the Queen’s color of the regiment, a proud distinction enjoyed by no other corps in the service. In the year 1660 brave Monk and his gallant Coldstreamers materially assisted in the happy restoration of the English monarchy, and to perform this patriotic and eminently loyal act they marched from Berwick-on-Tweed to London, meeting with a warm and enthusiastic greeting from the inhabitants of the towns and villages through which they passed. After the Restoration was accomplished the troops were paraded on Tower Hill for the purpose of taking the oath of allegiance to the King, and among those present were the three noble regiments that form the subject of this brief history. Having grounded their arms in token of submission to the new régime, they were at once commanded to take them up again as the First, Second and Third Regiments of Foot Guards. The First and Third Regiments obeyed, but the Coldstreamers stood firm, and their muskets remained upon the ground. “Why does your regiment hesitate?” inquired the King of General Monk. “May it please your Majesty,” said the stern old soldier, “my Coldstreamers are your Majesty’s devoted soldiers, but after the important service they have rendered your Highness they decline to take up arms as second to any other regiment in your Majesty’s service!” “They are right,” said the King, “and they shall be ‘second to none.’ Let them take up their arms as my Coldstream regiment of Foot Guards.” Monk rode back to his regiment and communicated to it the King’s decision. It had a magical effect. The arms were instantly raised amid frantic cries of “Long live the King!” Since this event the motto of the regiment has been Nulli Secundus, which is borne in gold letters upon its colors beneath the star and garter of the Royal House. There also appear upon its colors the names of “Lincelles,” “Egypt” (with the Sphinx), “Talavera,” “Barrosa,” “Peninsula,” “Waterloo,” “Alma,” “Inkerman,” and “Sevastopol.” In the year 1850 this regiment held its jubilee banquet to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of its birth.—London Society.


[1] Popular Astronomy, p. 145.

[2] The Observatory, No. 43, p. 613.

[3] Nature, vol. xxv. p. 537.

[4] Silvered glass is considerably more reflective than speculum-metal, and Mr. Common’s 36-inch mirror can be but slightly inferior in luminous capacity to the Lick objective. It is, however, devoted almost exclusively to celestial photography, in which it has done splendid service. The Paris 4-foot mirror bent under its own weight when placed in the tube in 1875, and has not since been remounted.

[5] E. Holden, “The Lick Observatory,” Nature, vol. xxv. p. 298.

[6] Monthly Notices, R. Astr. Soc. vol. xiv. p. 133 (1854).

[7] Phil. Trans. vol. cxlviii. p. 455.

[8] Captain Jacob unfortunately died August 16, 1862, when about to assume the direction of a hill observatory at Poonah.

[9] The height of the mercury at Guajara is 21·7 to 22 inches.

[10] Phil. Trans. vol. cxlviii. p. 477.

[11] We are told that three American observers in the Rocky Mountains, belonging to the Eclipse Expedition of 1878, easily saw Jupiter’s satellites night after night with the naked eye. That their discernment is possible, even under comparatively disadvantageous circumstances is rendered certain by the well-authenticated instance (related by Humboldt, “Cosmos,” vol. iii. p. 66, Otte’s trans.) of a tailor named Schön, who died at Breslau in 1837. This man habitually perceived the first and third, but never could see the second or fourth Jovian moons.

[12] Sir W. Herschel’s great undertakings, Bessel remarks (“Populäre Vorlesungen,” p. 15), “were directed rather towards a physical description of the heavens, than to astronomy proper.”

[13] Am. Jour. of Science, vol. xiii. p. 89.

[14] The characteristic orange line (D3) of this unknown substance, has recently been identified by Professor Palmieri in the spectrum of lava from Vesuvius—a highly interesting discovery, if verified.

[15] The Sun, p. 193.

[16] R. D. Cutts, “Bulletin of the Philosophical Society of Washington,” vol. i. p. 70.

[17] This instrument may be described as an electric balance of the utmost conceivable delicacy. The principle of its construction is that the conducting power of metals is diminished by raising their temperature. Thus, if heat be applied to one only of the wires forming a circuit in which a galvanometer is included, the movement of the needle instantly betrays the disturbance of the electrical equilibrium. The conducting wires or “balance arms” of the bolometer are platinum strips 1/120th of an inch wide and 1/25000 of an inch thick, constituting metallic antennæ sensitive to the chill even of the fine dark lines in the solar spectrum, or to changes of temperature estimated at 1/100000 of a degree Centigrade.

[18] Defined by the tint of the second hydrogen-line, the bright reversal of Fraunhofer’s F. The sun would also seem—adopting a medium estimate—three or four times as brilliant as he now does.

[19] Annales de Chimie et de Physique, t. x. p. 360.

[20] S. P. Langley, “Nature,” vol. xxvi. p. 316.

[21] Sir J. Herschel’s estimate of the “temperature of space” was 239°F.; Pouillet’s 224°F. below zero. Both are almost certainly much too high. See Taylor, “Bull. Phil. Soc. Washington,” vol. ii. p. 73; and Croll, “Nature,” vol. xxi, p. 521.

[22] This is true only of the “normal spectrum,” formed by reflection from a “grating” on the principle of interference. In the spectrum produced by refraction, the red rays are huddled together by the distorting effect of the prism through which they are transmitted.

[23] Am. Jour. of Science, vol. xx. p. 36.

[24] Am. Jour. of Science, vol. xx. p. 41.

[25] Report of the Paris Observatory, “Astronomical Register,” Oct. 1883; and “Observatory,” No. 75.

[26] Hipp. ad Phaenomena, lib. i. cap. xiv.

[27] Cosmos, vol. iii. p. 272 note.

[28] Am. Jour. of Science, vol. xx. p. 437.

[29] Nature, vol. xxiii. p. 19.

[30] An expression used by Mr. Warren de la Rue.

[31] Optice, p. 107 (2nd ed. 1719.) “Author’s Monitio” dated July 16, 1717.

[32] “Der grosse Mann, der edle Pedagog, Der, sich zum Ruhm, ein Heldenvolk erzogen.”

[33] “Zwar sind sie an das Beste nicht gewöhnt, Allein sie haben schrecklich viel gelesen.”


“Zwanzig Jahre liess sich gehn Und genoss was mir beschieden; Eine Reihe völlig schön Wie die Zeit der Barmeciden.” West. Div.

[35] “Sicherlich es muss das Beste Irgendwo zu finden sein.”


“Dass die Welt, wie sie auch kreise, Liebevoll und dankbar sei.”


“Will ich in Kunst und Wissenschaft, Wie immer, protestiren.”

[38] “An diese Religion halten wir fest, aber auf eine eigene Weise.”


“Was kann der Mensch im Leben mehr gewinnen, Als dass ihm Gott-Natur sich offenbare?”

[40] “Von der Société St. Simonien bitte Dich fern zu halten;” so he writes to Carlyle.

[41] “Usi Natalizi, Nuziali e Funebri del Popolo Siciliano descritti da G. Pitrè.”

[42] Edward, second Earl. His father, Robert Harley, first Earl, was Treasurer under Queen Anne.

[43] The friend and correspondent of Dean Swift, Mrs. Delany, and other people of note in her day.

[44] This criticism was passed in reference to the comic scenes in “Henry IV.” and “Henry V.”

[45] A Cornish borough, now disfranchised.

[46] See Eclectic Magazine for December, 1884.

[47] Egypt, No. 1, 1878.

[48] Egypt, No. 9, 1884.

[49] See Egypt, No. 12, p, 132-133.

[50] Times, September 12.

[51] See Egypt, No. 12, p. 226.

[52] Egypt, No. 8, 6.

[53] Ibid., No. 12, 169.

[54] I learn that the Committee has now been formed for the purpose of raising a statue to the memory of Schopenhauer. The following is a list of members:—Ernest Rénan; Max Müller of Oxford; Brahmane Ragot Rampal Sing; Von Benningsen, formerly President of the German Reichstag; Rudolf von Thering, the celebrated Romanist of Göttingen; Gyldea, the astronomer from Stockholm; Funger, President of the Imperial Court (Reichsgericht) of Vienna; Wilhelm Gentz of Berlin; Otto Böhtlingk of the Imperial Academy of Russia; Karl Hillebrand of Florence; Francis Bowen, Professor at Harvard College in the United States; Professor Rudolf Leuckart of Leipzig; Hans von Wolzogen of Bayreuth; Professor F. Zarncke of Leipzig; Ludwig Noiré of Mayence; and Emile de Laveleye of Liège.

[55] On April 20, 1731, the English vessel Rebecca, Captain Jenkins, is visited by the coast-guards of Havanna, who accuse the captain of smuggling military goods. They find none on board, but they ill-treat him by hanging him first to the yard and fastening the cabin boy to his feet. The rope breaks, however, and they then proceed to cut off one of his ears, telling him to take it to his king. Jenkins returns to London and claims vengeance. Pope writes verses about his ear, but England did not choose to quarrel with Spain just then, and all is apparently forgotten. Eight years after, some insults offered by the Spaniards to English vessels brought up again the topic of Jenkins’s ear. He had preserved it in wadding. The sailors went about London wearing the inscription “ear for ear” on their hats. The large merchants and shipowners espoused their cause. William Pitt and the nation in general desire war with Spain, and Walpole is forced to declare it. The consequences are but too well-known. Bloodshed all over the world on land and sea. Jenkins’s ear is indeed avenged. If the English people were poetical, says Carlyle, this ear would have become a constellation like Berenice’s crown.

[56] The writer of these pages had the honor of delivering the annual Oration in the Sanders Theatre of Harvard University, under the auspices of the Φ. Β. Κ. Society, on June 26, 1884. The following paper is the substance of the address then spoken, with such modifications as appeared appropriate to the present form of publication.

[57] In an essay on “Pindar” in the Journal of Hellenic Studies (vol. iii.), from which some points are repeated in this paragraph, I have worked this out more in detail.

[58] Saintsbury’s Short History of French Literature, p. 405.

[59] In the Attic Orators, vol. ii. p. 42, I pointed out this analogy.

[60] Professor Sellar’s rendering, Roman Poets of the Republic, p. 55.

[61] Sir Walter Scott, Fenimore Cooper, Miss Sedgwick, and Hawthorne in his story of “The Gray Champion,” have all made use of this striking incident.

[62] Elsewhere Mr. Harrison contemptuously refers to the Descriptive Sociology as “a pile of clippings made to order.” While I have been writing, the original directions to compilers have been found by my present secretary, Mr. James Bridge; and he has drawn my attention to one of the “orders.” It says that all works are “to be read not with a view to any particular class of facts but with a view to all classes of facts.”

[63] Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal, xxiv. part ii., p. 196.

[64] Ellis, Polynesian Researches, vol. i. p. 525.

[65] Journ. As. Soc. of Ben., xv. pp. 348-49.

[66] Bastian, Mensch, ii. 109, 113.

[67] Supernatural Religion, 2nd ed., vol. i. p. 12.

[68] Dr. Henry Rink, Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo, p. 37.

[69] Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii. p. 133.

[70] Ibid. p. 139.

[71] Ibid. p. 137.

[72] Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii. p. 144.

[73] Harrison contre Spencer sur la Valeur Religieuse de L’Inconnaissable, par le Cte. Goblet D’Alviella. Paris, Ernest Leroux.

[74] Essays, vol. iii. pp. 293-6.

Transcriber Notes:

Only references within this volume are hyperlinked.

Uncertain or antiquated spellings or ancient words were not corrected.

Errors in punctuation and inconsistent hyphenation were not corrected unless otherwise noted.

Typographical errors have been silently corrected but other variations in spelling and punctuation remain unaltered.