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

Author: Various

Release date: October 5, 2016 [eBook #53212]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Les Galloway and the Online
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Transcriber’s note: table of contents added by the transcriber.



Eclectic Magazine

New Series.
Vol. XLI., No. 4.
APRIL, 1885. Old Series complete
in 63 vols.



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

It is now a long while since I read M. de Tocqueville’s famous work on Democracy in America. I have the highest respect for M. de Tocqueville;3 but my remembrance of his book is that it deals too much in abstractions for my taste, and that it is written, moreover, in a style which many French writers adopt, but which I find trying—a style cut into short paragraphs and wearing an air of rigorous scientific deduction without the reality. Very likely, however, I do M. de Tocqueville injustice. My debility in high speculation is well known, and I mean to attempt his book on Democracy again when I have seen America once more, and when years may have brought to me, perhaps, more of the philosophic mind. Meanwhile, however, it will be evident how serious a matter I think it to write a worthy book about the United States, when I am not entirely satisfied with even M. de Tocqueville’s.

But before I went to America, and when I had no expectation of ever going4 there, I published, under the title of “A Word about America,” not indeed a book, but a few modest remarks on what I thought civilisation in the United States might probably be like. I had before me a Boston newspaper-article which said that if I ever visited America I should find there such and such things; and taking this article for my text I observed, that from all I had read and all I could judge, I should for my part expect to find there rather such and such other things, which I mentioned. I said that of aristocracy, as we know it here, I should expect to find, of course, in the United States the total absence; that our lower class I should expect to find absent in a great degree, while my old familiar friend, the middle class, I should expect to find in full possession of the land. And then betaking myself to those playful phrases which a little relieve, perhaps, the tedium of grave disquisitions of this sort, I said that I imagined one would just have in America our Philistines, with our aristocracy quite left out and our populace very nearly.

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

My friend was a true prophet. When I saw the United States I recognised that the general account which I had hazarded of them was, indeed, not erroneous, but that it required to have something added to supplement it. I should not like either my friends in America or my countrymen here at home to think that my “Word about America” gave my full and final thoughts respecting the people of the United States. The new and modifying impressions brought by experience I shall communi5cate, as I did my original expectations, with all good faith, and as simply and plainly as possible. Perhaps when I have yet again visited America, have seen the great West, and have had a second reading of M. de Tocqueville’s classical work on Democracy, my mind may be enlarged and my present impressions still further modified by new ideas. If so, I promise to make my confession duly; not indeed to make it, even then, in a book about America, but to make it in a brief “Last Word” on that great subject—a word, like its predecessors, of open-hearted and free conversation with the readers of this Review.

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

Sir Henry Maine, in an admirable essay which, though not signed, betrays him for its author by its rare and characteristic qualities of mind and style—Sir Henry Maine in the Quarterly Review adopts and often reiterates a phrase of M. Scherer, to the effect that “Democracy is only a form of government.” He holds up to ridicule a sentence of Mr. Bancroft’s History, in which the American democracy is told that its ascent to power “proceeded as uniformly and majestically as the laws of being and was as certain as the decrees of eternity.” Let us be willing to give Sir Henry Maine his way, and to allow no magnificent claim of this kind on behalf of the American democracy. Let us treat as not more solid the assertion in the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal, are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Let us concede that these natural6 rights are a figment; that chance and circumstance, as much as deliberate foresight and design, have brought the United States into their present condition, that moreover the British rule which they threw off was not the rule of oppressors and tyrants which declaimers suppose, and that the merit of the Americans was not that of oppressed men rising against tyrants, but rather of sensible young people getting rid of stupid and overweening guardians who misunderstood and mismanaged them.

All this let us concede, if we will; but in conceding it let us not lose sight of the really important point, which is this: that their institutions do in fact suit the people of the United States so well, and that from this suitableness they do derive so much actual benefit. As one watches the play of their institutions, the image suggests itself to one’s mind of a man in a suit of clothes which fits him to perfection, leaving all his movements unimpeded and easy. It is loose where it ought to be loose, and it sits close where its sitting close is an advantage. The central government of the United States keeps in its own hands those functions which, if the nation is to have real unity, ought to be kept there; those functions it takes to itself and no others. The State governments and the municipal governments provide people with the fullest liberty of managing their own affairs, and afford, besides, a constant and invaluable school of practical experience. This wonderful suit of clothes, again (to recur to our image), is found also to adapt itself naturally to the wearer’s growth, and to admit of all enlargements as they successively arise. I speak of the state of things since the suppression of slavery, of the state of things which meets a spectator’s eye at the present time in America. There are points in which the institutions of the United States may call forth criticism. One observer may think that it would be well if the President’s term of office were longer, if his ministers sate in Congress or must possess the confidence of Congress. Another observer may say that the marriage laws for the whole nation ought to be fixed by Congress, and not to vary at the will of the legislatures of the several States. I myself was much struck with the incon7venience of not allowing a man to sit in Congress except for his own district; a man like Wendell Phillips was thus excluded, because Boston would not return him. It is as if Mr. Bright could have no other constituency open to him if Rochdale would not send him to Parliament. But all these are really questions of machinery (to use my own term), and ought not so to engage our attention as to prevent our seeing that the capital fact as to the institutions of the United States is this: their suitableness to the American people and their natural and easy working. If we are not to be allowed to say, with Mr. Beecher, that this people has “a genius for the organisation of States,” then at all events we must admit that in its own organisation it has enjoyed the most signal good fortune.

Yes; what is called, in the jargon of the publicists, the political problem and the social problem, the people of the United States does appear to me to have solved, or Fortune has solved it for them, with undeniable success. Against invasion and conquest from without they are impregnably strong. As to domestic concerns, the first thing to remember is, that the people over there is at bottom the same people as ourselves, a people with a strong sense for conduct. But there is said to be great corruption among their politicians and in the public service, in municipal administration, and in the administration of justice. Sir Lepel Griffin would lead us to think that the administration of justice, in particular, is so thoroughly corrupt, that a man with a lawsuit has only to provide his lawyer with the necessary funds for bribing the officials, and he can make sure of winning his suit. The Americans themselves use such strong language in describing the corruption prevalent amongst them that they cannot be surprised if strangers believe them. For myself, I had heard and read so much to the discredit of American political life, how all the best men kept aloof from it, and those who gave themselves to it were unworthy, that I ended by supposing that the thing must actually be so, and the good Americans must be looked for elsewhere than in politics. Then I had the pleasure of dining with Mr. Bancroft in Washington; and how8ever he may, in Sir Henry Maine’s opinion, overlaud the pre-established harmony of American democracy, he had at any rate invited to meet me half a dozen politicians whom in England we should pronounce to be members of Parliament of the highest class, in bearing, manners, tone of feeling, intelligence, information. I discovered that in truth the practice, so common in America, of calling a politician “a thief,” does not mean so very much more than is meant in England when we have heard Lord Beaconsfield called “a liar” and Mr. Gladstone “a madman.” It means, that the speaker disagrees with the politician in question and dislikes him. Not that I assent, on the other hand, to the thick-and-thin American patriots, who will tell you that there is no more corruption in the politics and administration of the United States than in those of England. I believe there is more, and that the tone of both is lower there; and this from a cause on which I shall have to touch hereafter. But the corruption is exaggerated; it is not the wide and deep disease it is often represented; it is such that the good elements in the nation may, and I believe will, perfectly work it off; and even now the truth of what I have been saying as to the suitableness and successful working of American institutions is not really in the least affected by it.

Furthermore, American society is not in danger from revolution. Here, again, I do not mean that the United States are exempt from the operation of every one of the causes—such a cause as the division between rich and poor, for instance—which may lead to revolution. But I mean that comparatively with the old countries of Europe they are free from the danger of revolution; and I believe that the good elements in them will make a way for them to escape out of what they really have of this danger also, to escape in the future as well as now—the future for which some observers announce this danger as so certain and so formidable. Lord Macaulay predicted that the United States must come in time to just the same state of things which we witness in England; that the cities would fill up and the lands become occupied, and then, he said, the division between rich and poor would9 establish itself on the same scale as with us, and be just as embarrassing. He forgot that the United States are without what certainly fixes and accentuates the division between rich and poor—the distinction of classes. Not only have they not the distinction between noble and bourgeois, between aristocracy and middle class; they have not even the distinction between bourgeois and peasant or artisan, between middle and lower class. They have nothing to create it and compel their recognition of it. Their domestic service is done for them by Irish, Germans, Swedes, Negroes. Outside domestic service, within the range of conditions which an American may in fact be called upon to traverse, he passes easily from one sort of occupation to another, from poverty to riches, and from riches to poverty. No one of his possible occupations appears degrading to him or makes him lose caste; and poverty itself appears to him as inconvenient and disagreeable rather than as humiliating. When the immigrant from Europe strikes root in his new home, he becomes as the American.

It may be said that the Americans, when they attained their independence, had not the elements for a division into classes, and that they deserve no praise for not having invented one. But I am not now contending that they deserve praise for their institutions, I am saying how well their institutions work. Considering, indeed, how rife are distinctions of rank and class in the world, how prone men in general are to adopt them, how much the Americans themselves, beyond doubt, are capable of feeling their attraction, it shows, I think, at least strong good sense in the Americans to have forborne from all attempt to invent them at the outset, and to have escaped or resisted any fancy for inventing them since. But evidently the United States constituted themselves, not amid the circumstances of a feudal age, but in a modern age; not under the conditions of an epoch favorable to subordination, but under those of an epoch of expansion. Their institutions did but comply with the form and pressure of the circumstances and conditions then present. A feudal age, an epoch of war, defence, and concentration, needs centres of power and property, and it10 reinforces property by joining distinctions of rank and class with it. Property becomes more honorable, more solid. And in feudal ages this is well, for its changing hands easily would be a source of weakness. But in ages of expansion, where men are bent that every one shall have his chance, the more readily property changes hands the better. The envy with which its holder is regarded diminishes, society is safer. I think whatever may be said of the worship of the almighty dollar in America, it is indubitable that rich men are regarded there with less envy and hatred than rich men are in Europe. Why is this? Because their condition is less fixed, because government and legislation do not take them more seriously than other people, make grandees of them, aid them to found families and endure. With us, the chief holders of property are grandees already, and every rich man aspires to become a grandee if possible. And therefore an English country-gentleman regards himself as part of the system of nature; government and legislation have invited him so to do. If the price of wheat falls so low that his means of expenditure are greatly reduced, he tells you that if this lasts he cannot possibly go on as a country-gentleman; and every well-bred person amongst us looks sympathising and shocked. An American would say: “Why should he?” The Conservative newspapers are fond of giving us, as an argument for the game-laws, the plea that without them a country-gentleman could not be induced to live on his estate. An American would say: “What does it matter?” Perhaps to an English ear this will sound brutal; but the point is that the American does not take his rich man so seriously as we do ours, does not make him into a grandee; the thing, if proposed to him, would strike him as an absurdity. I suspect that Mr. Winans himself, the American millionaire who adds deer-forest to deer-forest, and will not suffer a cottier to keep a pet lamb, regards his own performance as a colossal stroke of American humor, illustrating the absurdities of the British system of property and privilege. Ask Mr. Winans if he would promote the introduction of the British game-laws into the United States, and he would tell you11 with a merry laugh that the idea is ridiculous, and that these British follies are for home consumption.

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

A people homogeneous, a people which had to constitute itself in a modern age, an epoch of expansion, and which has12 given to itself institutions entirely fitted for such an age and epoch, and which suit it perfectly—a people not in danger of war from without, not in danger of revolution from within—such is the people of the United States. The political and social problem, then, we must surely allow that they solve successfully. There remains, I know, the human problem also; the solution of that too has to be considered; but I shall come to that hereafter. My point at present is, that politically and socially the United States are a community living in a natural condition, and conscious of living in a natural condition. And being in this healthy case, and having this healthy consciousness, the community there uses its understanding with the soundness of health; it in general sees its political and social concerns straight, and sees them clear. So that when Sir Henry Maine and M. Scherer tell us that democracy is “merely a form of government,” we may observe to them that it is in the United States a form of government in which the community feels itself in a natural condition and at ease; in which, consequently, it sees things straight and sees them clear.

More than half one’s interest in watching the English people of the United States comes, of course, from the bearing of what one finds there upon things at home, amongst us English people ourselves in these islands. I have frankly recorded what struck me and came as most new to me in the condition of the English race in the United States. I had said beforehand, indeed, that I supposed the American Philistine was a livelier sort of Philistine than ours, because he had not that pressure of the Barbarians to stunt and distort him which befalls his English brother here. But I did not foresee how far his superior liveliness and naturalness of condition, in the absence of that pressure, would carry the American Philistine. I still use my old name Philistine, because it does in fact seem to me as yet to suit the bulk of the community over there, as it suits the strong central body of the community here. But in my mouth the name is hardly a reproach, so clearly do I see the Philistine’s necessity, so willingly I own his merits, so much I find of him in myself. The American Philistine,13 however, is certainly far more different from his English brother than I had beforehand supposed. And on that difference we English of the old country may with great profit turn our regards for awhile, and I am now going to speak of it.

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

Let us not, therefore, speak of foreign affairs; it is needless, because the thing I wish to show is so manifest there to everybody. But we will consider matters at home. Let us take the present state of the House of Commons. Can anything be more confused, more unnatural? That assembly has got into a condition utterly embarrassed, and seems14 impotent to bring itself right. The members of the House themselves may find entertainment in the personal incidents which such a state of confusion is sure to bring forth abundantly, and excitement in the opportunities thus often afforded for the display of Mr. Gladstone’s wonderful powers. But to any judicious Englishman outside the House the spectacle is simply an afflicting and humiliating one; the sense aroused by it is not a sense of delight at Mr. Gladstone’s tireless powers, it is rather a sense of disgust at their having to be so exercised. Every day the House of Commons does not sit judicious people feel relief, every day that it sits they are oppressed with apprehension. Instead of being an edifying influence, as such an assembly ought to be, the House of Commons is at present an influence which does harm; it sets an example which rebukes and corrects none of the nation’s faults, but rather encourages them. The best thing to be done at present, perhaps, is to avert one’s eyes from the House of Commons as much as possible; if one keeps on constantly watching it welter in its baneful confusion, one is likely to fall into the fulminating style of the wrathful Hebrew prophets, and to call it “an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse.”

Well, then, our greatest institution, the House of Commons, we cannot say is at present working, like the American institutions, easily and successfully. Suppose we now pass to Ireland. I will not ask if our institutions work easily and successfully in Ireland; to ask such a question would be too bitter, too cruel a mockery. Those hateful cases which have been tried in the Dublin Courts this last year suggest the dark and ill-omened word which applies to the whole state of Ireland—anti-natural. Anti-natural, anti-nature—that is the word which rises irresistibly in my mind as I survey Ireland. Everything is unnatural there—the proceedings of the English who rule, the proceedings of the Irish who resist. But it is with the working of our English institutions there that I am now concerned. It is unnatural that Ireland should be governed by Lord Spencer and Mr. Campbell Bannerman—as unnatural as for Scotland to be governed by Lord Cranbrook and Mr.15 Healy. It is unnatural that Ireland should be governed under a Crimes Act. But there is necessity, replies the Government. Well, then, if there is such evil necessity, it is unnatural that the Irish newspapers should be free to write as they write and the Irish members to speak as they speak—free to inflame and further exasperate a seditious people’s mind, and to promote the continuance of the evil necessity. A necessity for the Crimes Act is a necessity for absolute government. By our patchwork proceedings we set up, indeed, a make-believe of Ireland’s being constitutionally governed. But it is not constitutionally governed; nobody supposes it to be constitutionally governed, except, perhaps, that born swallower of all clap-trap, the British Philistine. The Irish themselves, the all-important personages in this case, are not taken in; our make-believe does not produce in them the very least gratitude, the very least softening. At the same time it adds an hundred fold to the difficulties of an absolute government.

The working of our institutions being thus awry, is the working of our thoughts upon them more smooth and natural? I imagine to myself an American, his own institutions and his habits of thought being such as we have seen, listening to us as we talk politics and discuss the strained state of things over here. “Certainly these men have considerable difficulties,” he would say; “but they never look at them straight, they do not think straight.” Who does not admire the fine qualities of Lord Spencer?—and I, for my part, am quite ready to admit that he may require for a given period not only the present Crimes Act, but even yet more stringent powers of repression. For a given period, yes!—but afterwards? Has Lord Spencer any clear vision of the great, the profound changes still to be wrought before a stable and prosperous society can arise in Ireland? Has he even any ideal for the future there, beyond that of a time when he can go to visit Lord Kenmare, or any other great landlord who is his friend, and find all the tenants punctually paying their rents, prosperous and deferential, and society in Ireland settling quietly down again upon the old basis? And he might as well hope to16 see Strongbow come to life again! Which of us does not esteem and like Mr. Trevelyan, and rejoice in the high promise of his career? And how all his friends applauded when he turned upon the exasperating and insulting Irish members, and told them that he was “an English gentleman”! Yet, if one thinks of it, Mr. Trevelyan was thus telling the Irish members simply that he was just that which Ireland does not want, and which can do her no good. England, to be sure, has given Ireland plenty of her worst, but she has also given her not scantily of her best. Ireland has had no insufficient supply of the English gentleman, with his honesty, personal courage, high bearing, good intentions, and limited vision; what she wants is statesmen with just the qualities which the typical English gentleman has not—flexibility, openness of mind, a free and large view of things.

Everywhere we shall find in our thinking a sort of warp inclining it aside of the real mark, and thus depriving it of value. The common run of peers who write to the Times about reform of the House of Lords one would not much expect, perhaps, to “understand the signs of this time.” But even the Duke of Argyll, delivering his mind about the land-question in Scotland, is like one seeing, thinking, and speaking in some other planet than ours. A man of even Mr. John Morley’s gifts is provoked with the House of Lords, and straightway he declares himself against the existence of a Second Chamber at all; although—if there be such a thing as demonstration in politics—the working of the American Senate demonstrates a well-composed Second Chamber to be the very need and safeguard of a modern democracy. What a singular twist, again, in a man of Mr. Frederic Harrison’s intellectual power, not, perhaps, to have in the exuberance of youthful energy weighted himself for the race of life by taking up a grotesque old French pedant upon his shoulders, but to have insisted, in middle age, in taking up the Protestant Dissenters too; and now, when he is becoming elderly, it seems as if nothing would serve him but he must add the Peace Society to his load! How perverse, yet again, in Mr. Herbert Spencer, at the very moment when past17 neglects and present needs are driving men to co-operation, to making the community act for the public good in its collective and corporate character of the State, how perverse to seize this occasion for promulgating the extremest doctrine of individualism; and not only to drag this dead horse along the public road himself, but to induce Mr. Auberon Herbert to devote his days to flogging it!

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

The Angra Pequeña business has lately called forth from all sides many and harsh animadversions upon Lord Granville, who is charged with the direction of our foreign affairs. I shall not swell the chorus of complainers. Nothing has happened but what was to be expected. Long ago I remarked that it is not Lord Granville himself who determines our foreign policy and shapes the declarations of Government concerning it, but a power behind Lord Granville. He and his colleagues would call it the power of public opinion. It is really the opinion of that great ruling class amongst us on which Liberal Governments have hitherto had to depend for support—the Philistines or middle class.18 It is not, I repeat, with Lord Granville in his natural state and force that a foreign Government has to deal; it is with Lord Granville waiting in devout expectation to see how the cat will jump—and that cat the British Philistine! When Prince Bismarck deals with Lord Granville, he finds that he is not dealing mind to mind with an intelligent equal, but that he is dealing with a tumult of likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, stock-jobbing intrigues, missionary interests, quidnuncs, newspapers—dealing, in short, with ignorance behind his intelligent equal. Yet ignorant as our Philistine middle class may be, its volitions on foreign affairs would have more intelligibility and consistency if uttered through a spokesman of their own class. Coming through a nobleman like Lord Granville, who has neither the thoughts, habits, nor ideals of the middle class, and yet wishes to act as proctor for it, they have every disadvantage. He cannot even do justice to the Philistine mind, such as it is, for which he is spokesman; he apprehends it uncertainly and expounds it ineffectively. And so with the house and lineage of Murdstone thundering at him (and these, again, through Lord Derby as their interpreter) from the Cape, and the inexorable Prince Bismarck thundering at him from Berlin, the thing naturally ends by Lord Granville at last wringing his adroit hands and ejaculating disconsolately: “It is a misunderstanding altogether!” Even yet more to be pitied, perhaps, was the hard case of Lord Kimberley after the Majuba Hill disaster. Who can ever forget him, poor man, studying the faces of the representatives of the dissenting interest and exclaiming: “A sudden thought strikes me! May we not be incurring the sin of blood-guiltiness?” To this has come the tradition of Lord Somers, the Whig oligarchy of 1688, and all Lord Macaulay’s Pantheon.

I said that a source of strength to America, in political and social concerns, was the homogeneous character of American society. An American statesman speaks with more effect the mind of his fellow-citizens from his being in sympathy with it, understanding and sharing it. Certainly one must admit that if, in our country of classes, the Philistine middle class is really the in19spirer of our foreign policy, that policy would at least be expounded more forcibly if it had a Philistine for its spokesman. Yet I think the true moral to be drawn is rather, perhaps, this: that our foreign policy would be improved if our whole society were homogeneous.

As to the confusion in the House of Commons, what, apart from defective rules of procedure, are its causes? First and foremost, no doubt, the temper and action of the Irish members. But putting this cause of confusion out of view for a moment, every one can see that the House of Commons is far too large, and that it undertakes a quantity of business which belongs more properly to local assemblies. The confusion from these causes is one which is constantly increasing, because, as the country becomes fuller and more awakened, business multiplies, and more and more members of the House are inclined to take part in it. Is not the cure for this found in a course like that followed in America, in having a much less numerous House of Commons, and in making over a large part of its business to local assemblies, elected, as the House of Commons itself will henceforth be elected, by household suffrage? I have often said that we seem to me to need at present, in England, three things in especial: more equality, education for the middle classes, and a thorough municipal system. A system of local assemblies is but the natural complement of a thorough municipal system. Wholes neither too large nor too small, not necessarily of equal population by any means, but with characters rendering them in themselves fairly homogeneous and coherent, are the fit units for choosing these local assemblies. Such units occur immediately to one’s mind in the provinces of Ireland, the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, Wales north and south, groups of English counties such as present themselves in the circuits of the judges or under the names of East Anglia or the Midlands. No one will suppose me guilty of the pedantry of here laying out definitive districts; I do but indicate such units as may enable the reader to conceive the kind of basis required for the local assemblies of which I am speaking. The business of these districts would be more advantageously done in20 assemblies of the kind; they would form a useful school for the increasing number of aspirants to public life, and the House of Commons would be relieved.

The strain in Ireland would be relieved too, and by natural and safe means. Irishmen are to be found, who, in desperation at the present state of their country, cry out for making Ireland independent and separate, with a national Parliament in Dublin, with her own foreign office and diplomacy, her own army and navy, her own tariff, coinage and currency. This is manifestly impracticable. But here again let us look at what is done by people who in politics think straight and see clear; let us observe what is done in the United States. The Government at Washington reserves matters of imperial concern, matters such as those just enumerated, which cannot be relinquished without relinquishing the unity of the empire. Neither does it allow one great South to be constituted, or one great West, with a Southern Parliament, or a Western. Provinces that are too large are broken up, as Virginia has been broken up. But the several States are nevertheless real and important wholes, each with its own legislature; and to each the control, within its own borders, of all except imperial concerns is freely committed. The United States Government intervenes only to keep order in the last resort. Let us suppose a similar plan applied in Ireland. There are four provinces there, forming four natural wholes—or perhaps (if it should seem expedient to put Munster and Connaught together) three. The Parliament of the empire would still be in London, and Ireland would send members to it. But at the same time each Irish province would have its own legislature, and the control of its own real affairs. The British landlord would no longer determine the dealings with land in an Irish province, nor the British Protestant the dealings with church and education. Apart from imperial concerns, or from disorder such as to render military intervention necessary, the government in London would leave Ireland to manage itself. Lord Spencer and Mr. Campbell Bannerman would come back to England. Dublin Castle21 would be the State House of Leinster. Land-questions, game-laws, police, church, education, would be regulated by the people and legislature of Leinster for Leinster, of Ulster for Ulster, of Munster and Connaught for Munster and Connaught. The same with the like matters in England and Scotland. The local legislatures would regulate them.

But there is more. Everybody who watches the working of our institutions perceives what strain and friction is caused in it at present, by our having a Second Chamber composed almost entirely of great landowners, and representing the feelings and interests of the class of landowners almost exclusively. No one, certainly, under the condition of a modern age and our actual life, would ever think of devising such a Chamber. But we will allow ourselves to do more than merely state this truism, we will allow ourselves to ask what sort of Second Chamber people who thought straight and saw clear would, under the conditions of a modern age and of our actual life, naturally make. And we find, from the experience of the United States, that such provincial legislatures as we have just now seen to be the natural remedy for the confusion in the House of Commons, the natural remedy for the confusion in Ireland, have the further great merit besides of giving us the best basis possible for a modern Second Chamber. The United States Senate is perhaps, of all the institutions of that country, the most happily devised, the most successful in its working. The legislature of each State of the Union elects two senators to the Second Chamber of the national Congress at Washington. The senators are the Lords—if we like to keep, as it is surely best to keep, for designating the members of the Second Chamber, the title to which we have been for so many ages habituated. Each of the provincial legislatures of Great Britain and Ireland would elect members to the House of Lords. The colonial legislatures also would elect members to it; and thus we should be complying in the most simple and yet the most signal way possible with the present desire of both this country and the colonies for a closer union together, for some representation of the colonies in the Imperial22 Parliament. Probably it would be found expedient to transfer to the Second Chamber the representatives of the Universities. But no scheme for a Second Chamber will at the present day be found solid unless it stands on a genuine basis of election and representation. All schemes for forming a Second Chamber through nomination, whether by the Crown or by any other voice, of picked noblemen, great officials, leading merchants and bankers, eminent men of letters and science, are fantastic. Probably they would not give us by any means a good Second Chamber. But certainly they would not satisfy the country or possess its confidence, and therefore they would be found futile and unworkable.

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

An aristocratical society like ours is often said to be the society from which artists and men of letters have most to gain. But an institution is to be judged, not by what one can oneself gain from it, but by the ideal which it sets up. And aristocracy—if I may once more23 repeat words which, however often repeated, have still a value from their truth—aristocracy now sets up in our country a false ideal, which materialises our upper class, vulgarises our middle class, brutalises our lower class. It misleads the young, makes the worldly more worldly, the limited more limited, the stationary more stationary. Even to the imaginative, whom Lord John Manners thinks its sure friend, it is more a hindrance than a help. Johnson says well: “Whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings.” But what is a Duke of Norfolk or an Earl Warwick, dressed in broadcloth and tweed, and going about his business or pleasure in hansom cabs and railways like the rest of us? Imagination herself would entreat him to take himself out of the way, and to leave us to the Norfolks and Warwicks of history.

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

But aristocracy is in little danger. “I suppose, sir,” a dissenting minister said to me the other day, “you found, when you were in America, that they envied us there our great aristocracy.” It was his sincere belief that they did, and such probably is the sincere belief of our middle class in general; or at any rate, that if the Americans do not envy us this possession, they ought to. And my friend, one of the great Liberal party which has now, I suppose, pretty nearly run down its deceased wife’s sister, poor thing, has his hand and heart full, so far as politics are concerned, of the question of church disestablishment. He is24 eager to set to work at a change which, even if it were desirable (and I think it is not,) is yet off the line of those reforms which are really pressing.

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

One man there is, whom above all others I would fain have seen in Parliament during the last ten years, and beheld established in influence there at this juncture—Mr. Goldwin Smith. I do not say that he was not too embittered against the Church; in my opinion he was. But with singular lucidity and penetration he saw what great reforms were needed in other directions,25 and the order of relative importance in which reforms stood. Such were his character, style, and faculties, that alone perhaps among men of his insight he was capable of getting his ideas weighed and entertained by men in power; while amid all favor and under all temptations he was certain to have still remained true to his insight, “unshaken, unseduced, unterrified.” I think of him as a real power for good in Parliament at this time, had he by now become, as he might have become, one of the leaders there. His absence from the scene, his retirement in Canada, is a loss to his friends, but a still greater loss to his country.

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

Conveyed somehow, however, they certainly should be, and in this disquisition I have tried to deal with them.26 But the political and social problem, as the thinkers call it, must not so occupy us as to make us forget the human problem. The problems are connected together, but they are not identical. Our political and social confusions I admit; what Parliament is at this moment, I see and deplore. Yet nowhere but in England even now, not in France, not in Germany, not in America, could there be found public men of that quality—so capable of fair dealing, of trusting one another, keeping their word to one another—as to make possible such a settlement of the Franchise and Seat Bills as that which we have lately seen. Plato says with most profound truth: “The man who would think to good purpose must be able to take many things into his view together.” How homogeneous American society is, I have done my best to declare; how smoothly and naturally the institutions of the United States work, how clearly, in some most important respects, the Americans see, how straight they think. Yet Sir Lepel Griffin says that there is no country calling itself civilised where one would not rather live than in America, except Russia. In politics I do not much trust Sir Lepel Griffin. I hope that he administers in India some district where a pro27found insight into the being and working of institutions is not requisite. But, I suppose, of the tastes of himself and of that large class of Englishmen whom Mr. Charles Sumner has taught us to call the class of gentlemen, he is no untrustworthy reporter. And an Englishman of this class would rather live in France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, than in the United States, in spite of our community of race and speech with them! This means that, in the opinion of men of that class, the human problem at least is not well solved in the United States, whatever the political and social problem may be. And to the human problem in the United States we ought certainly to turn our attention, especially when we find taken such an objection as this; and some day, though not now, we will do so, and try to see what the objection comes to. I have given hostages to the United States, I am bound to them by the memory of great, untiring, and most attaching kindness. I should not like to have to own them to be of all countries calling themselves civilised, except Russia, the country where one would least like to live.—Nineteenth Century.



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

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

I make no great store of all this. The religious confidence in Humanity will not come about, I think, like the belief in the Gospel, or in the Church, or in any of the countless Protestant persuasions, by the formation of a small sect29 of believers, gradually inducing men to join some exclusive congregation. The trust in Humanity is an ineradicable part of modern civilisation: nay, it is the very motive power and saving quality of modern civilisation, and that even where it is encumbered by a conscious belief in God and Christ, in Gospel and salvation, or where it is disguised by an atheistical rejection of all religious reverence whatever. Positivists are not a sect. Positivism is not merely a new mode of worship. It is of small moment to us how numerous are the congregations who meet to-day to acknowledge Humanity in words. The best men and women of all creeds and all races acknowledge Humanity in their lives. For the full realisation of our hopes we must look to the improvement of civilisation; not to the extension of a sect. Let us shun all sects and everything belonging to them.

I shall say but little, therefore, of the growth of Positivist congregations. Where they are perfectly spontaneous and natural; where they are doing a real work in education; where they give solid comfort and support to the lives of those who form them, they are useful and living things, giving hope and sign of something better. But I see evil in them if they are artificial and premature; if they spring out of the incurable tendency of our age toward sects; if they are mere imitations of Christian congregations; and, above all, if their members look upon them as adequate types of a regenerated society. The religion of Humanity, by its nature, is incapable of being narrowed down to the limits of a few hundreds of scattered believers and to casual gatherings of men and women divided in life and activity. And that for the same reason that civilisation or patriotism could not possibly be the privilege of a few scattered individuals. Where two or three are gathered together, there the Gospel may be duly presented, and God and Christ adequately worshipped. It is not so with Humanity. The service of Humanity needs Humanity. The only Church of Humanity is a healthy and cultured human society. It is the very business of Humanity to free us from all individualist religion, from all self-contained worship of the isolated believer. And30 though the idea of Humanity is able to strengthen the individual soul as profoundly as the idea of Christ, yet the idea of Humanity, the service of Humanity, the honoring of Humanity, are only fully realised in the living organism of a humane society of men.

For this reason I look on a Positivist community rather as a germ of what is to come, one which may easily degenerate into a hindrance to true life in Humanity. The utmost that we can do now as an isolated knot of scattered believers is so immeasurably short of what may be done by a united nation, familiar from generation to generation with the sense of duty to Humanity, saturated from infancy with the consciousness of Humanity, and with all the resources of an organised public opinion, and a disciplined body of teachers, poets, and artists, to secure its convictions and express its emotions, that I am always dreading lest our puny attempts in the movement be stereotyped as adequate. Our English, Protestant habits are continually prompting us to look for salvation to sects, societies, self-sufficing congregations of zealous, but possibly self-righteous reformers. The egotistic spirit of the Gospel is constantly inclining us to look for a healthier religious ideal to some new religious exercises, to be performed in secret by the individual believer, in the silence of his chamber or in some little congregation of fellow-believers. Positivism comes, not to add another to these congregations, but to free us from the temper of mind which creates them. It comes to show us that religion is not to be found within any four walls, or in the secret yearnings of any heart, but in the right systematic development of an entire human society. Until there is a profound diffusion of the spirit of Humanity throughout the mass of some entire human society, some definite section of modern civilisation, there can be no religion of Humanity in any adequate degree; there can be no full worship of Humanity; there can be no true Positivist life till there be an organic Positivist community to live such a life. Let us beware how we imagine, that where two or three are gathered together there is a Positivist Church. There may be a synagogue of Positivist pharisees, it may31 be; but the sense of our vast human fellowship—which lies at the root of Positivist morality; the reality of Positivist religion, which means a high and humane life in the world; the glory of Positivist worship, which means the noblest expression of human feeling in art—all these things are not possible in any exclusive and meagre synagogue whatever, and are very much retarded by the premature formation of synagogues.

I look, as I say always, to the leavening of opinion generally; to the attitude of mind with which the world around us confronts Positivism and understands, or feels interest in Positivism. And here, and not in the formation of new congregations, I find the grounds for unbounded hope. Within a very few years, and notably within the year just ended, there has been a striking change of tone in the way in which the thoughtful public looks at Positivism. It has entirely passed out of the stage of silence and contempt. It occupies a place in the public interest, not equal yet to its importance in the future; but far in excess, I fear, of anything which its living exponents can justify in the present. The thoughtful public and the religious spirits acknowledge in it a genuine religious force. Candid Christians see that it has much which calls out their sympathy. But apart from that, the period of misunderstanding and of ridicule is passed for Positivism for ever. Serious people are beginning now to say that there is nothing in Positivism so extravagant, nothing so mischievous as they used to think. Many of them are beginning to see that it bears witness to valuable truths which have been hitherto neglected. They are coming to feel that in certain central problems of the modern world, such as the possibility of preserving the religious sentiment, in defending the bases of spiritual and temporal authority, in explaining the science of history, in the institution of property, in the future relations of men and women, employers and employed, government and people, teachers and learners, in all of these, Positivism holds up a ray of steady light in the chaos of opinion. They are asking themselves, the truly conservative and truly religious natures, if, after all, society may not be32 destined to be regenerated in some such ideal lines as Positivism shadows forth:—

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

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

In the history of any great truth we generally find three stages of public opinion regarding it. The first, of unthinking hostility; the second, of minimising its novelty; the third, of adopting it as an obvious truism. Men say first, “Nothing more grotesque and mischievous was ever propounded!” Then they say, “Now that it has entirely changed its front, there is nothing to be afraid of, and not much that is new!” And in the third stage they say, “We have held this all our lives, and it is a mere commonplace of modern thought.” Positivism has now passed out of the first stage. Men have ceased to think of it as grotesque or mischievous. They have now passed into the second stage, and say,33 “Now that it is showing itself as mere common-sense, it is little more than a re-statement of what reasonable men have long thought, and what good men have long aimed at.” Quite so, only there has been no change of front, no abandoning of anything, and no modification of any essential principle. We have only made it clear that the original prejudices we had to meet were founded in haste, misconception, and mere caricature. We have shown that Positivism is just as truly scientific as it is religious; that it has as much aversion to priestcraft, ritualism, and ceremony, as any Protestant sectary: and as deep an aversion to sects as the Pope of Rome or the President of the Royal Society. Positivism itself is as loyal to every genuine result of modern science as the Royal Society itself. The idea that any reasonable Positivist undervalues the real triumphs of science, or could dream of minimising any solid conclusion of science, or of limiting the progress of science, or would pit any unproven assertion of any man, be he Comte, or an entire Ecumenical Council of Comtists, so to speak, against any single proven conclusion of human research, this, I say, is too laughable to be seriously imputed to any Positivist.

If Auguste Comte had ever used language which could fairly be so understood, I will not stop to inquire. I do not believe he has. But if I were shown fifty such passages, they would not weigh with me a grain against the entire basis and genius of Positivism itself; which is that human life shall henceforward be based on a footing of solid demonstration alone. If enthusiastic Positivists, more Comtist than Comte, ever gave countenance to such an extravagance, I can only say that they no more represent Positivism than General Booth’s brass band represents Christianity. If words of Auguste Comte have been understood to mean that the religion of Humanity can be summed up in the repetition of phrases, or can be summed up in anything less than a moral and scientific education of man’s complex nature, I can only treat it as a caricature unworthy of notice. This hall is the centre in this country where the Positivist scheme is presented in its entirety, under the immediate direction of Comte’s successor. And speaking in his name and in the34 name of our English committee, I claim it as an essential purpose of our existence as an organised body, to promote a sound scientific education, so as to abolish the barrier which now separates school and Church; to cultivate individual training in all true knowledge, and the assertion of individual energy of character and brain; to promote independence quite as much as association; personal responsibility, quite as much as social discipline; and free public opinion, in all things spiritual and material alike, quite as much as organised guidance by trained leaders. Whatever makes light of these, whatever is indifferent to scientific education, whatever tends to blind and slavish surrender of the judgment and the will, whatever clings to mysticism, formalism, and priestcraft, such belongs not to Positivism, to Auguste Comte, or to humanity rightly regarded and honored. The first condition of the religion of Humanity is human nature and common sense.

Whilst Positivism has been making good its ground within the area of scientific philosophy, scientific metaphysics has been exhibiting the signal weakness of its position on the side of religion. To those who have once entered into the scientific world of belief in positive knowledge there is no choice between a belief in nothing at all and a belief in the future of human civilisation, between Agnosticism and Humanity. Agnosticism is therefore for the present the rival and antagonist of Positivism outside the orthodox fold. I say for the present, because by the nature of the case Agnosticism is a mere raft or jurymast for shipwrecked believers, a halting-place, and temporary passage from one belief to another belief. The idea that the deepest issues of life and of thought can be permanently referred to any negation; that cultivated beings can feel proud of summing up their religious belief in the formula, that they “know nothing” this is too absurd to endure. Agnosticism is a milder form of the Voltairean hatred of religion that was current in the last century; but it is quite as passing a phase. For the moment, it is the fashion of the emancipated Christian to save all trouble by professing himself an Agnostic. But he is more or less ashamed of it. He knows it is a subter35fuge. It is no real answer. It is only an excuse for refusing to answer a troublesome question. The Agnostic knows that he will have to give a better answer some day; he finds earnest men clamoring for an answer. He is getting uneasy that they will not take “Don’t know” for an answer. He is himself too full still of theology and metaphysics to follow our practice, which is to leave the theological conundrum alone, and to proclaim regard for the human race as an adequate solution of the human problem. And in the meantime he staves off questions by making his own ignorance—his own ignorance!—the foundation of a creed.

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


I turn now, as is our custom, to review the work of the year under its three-fold heads of Cult, Education, Politics. You will see that I avoid the word Worship, because worship is so often misunderstood; and because it wholly fails to convey the meaning of the Positivist cultus, or stimulus of the noblest emotions of man. Worship is in no way a translation of Comte’s word culte. In French we can talk of the culte des mères, or the culte des morts, or the culte des enfants, or the culte de l’Art. We cannot in English talk of worshipping our mothers, or worshipping our dead friends, or worshipping children, or worshipping art; or, if we use the words, we do not mean the same thing. Comte has suffered deeply by being crudely36 translated into English phrases, by people who did not see that the same phrase in English means something different. Now his culte de l’Humanité does not mean what Englishmen understand by the worship of Humanity: i.e., they are apt to fancy, kneeling down and praying to Humanity, or singing a hymn to Humanity. By culte de l’Humanité is meant, deepening our sense of gratitude and regard for the human race and its living or dead organs. And everything which does this is cult, though it may not be what we call in English worship. So service is a word I avoid; because the service of Humanity consists in the thousand ways in which we fulfil our social duties, and not in uttering exclamations which may or may not lead to anything in conduct, and which we have no reason to suppose are heard by any one, or affect any one outside the room where they are uttered. The commemoration of a great man such as William the Silent or Corneille is cult, though we do not worship him; the solemn delight in a piece of music in such a spirit is cult, though it is not worship, or service, in the modern English sense of these words. The ceremony of interring a dead friend, or naming a child is cult, though we do not worship our dead friend, nor do we worship the baby when brought for presentation. Cult, as we understand it, is a process that concerns the person or persons who worship, not the being worshipped. Whatever stimulates the sense of social duty and kindles the noblest emotions, whether by a mere historical lecture, or a grand piece of music, or by a solemn act, or by some expression of emotion—this is cult.

In the same way, I avoid the word religion, to signify any special department or any one side of our Positivist life. Religion is not a part of life, but a harmonious and true living of our lives; not the mere expression of feeling, but the right convergence of feeling and thought into pure action. Some of our people seem to use the word “religion,” in the theological sense, to mean the formal expression of a sentiment of devotion. This is a mere distortion of Comte’s language, and essentially unworthy of the broad spirit of Positivism. The full meaning of culte, as Comte em37ployed it, is every act by which man expresses and every means by which he kindles the sense of reverence, duty, love, or resignation. In that sense, and in that sense only, do I now employ cult, which is obviously a somewhat inadequate English phrase.

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

On the 28th of last month we held a commemoration of the great musician, Beethoven, in all respects like that which we had given two years ago for Mozart. Our friend Professor Henry Holmes and his admirable quartet again performed two of those immortal pieces, and our friend, Mr. Vernon Lushington, again gave us one of those beautiful discourses38 on the glorious art to which he and his have devoted so much of their lives. These occasions, which are a real creation of Positivism, I deeply enjoy. They are neither concert nor lecture, nor service specially, but all three together, and much more. It is the one mode in which at present the religion of the future can put forth its yearnings for a sacred art worthy to compare with the highest types of Christian art. We meet not to listen to a musical display—not to hear the history of the musician’s life—not to commemorate his career by any formal ceremony; but we mingle with our words of gratitude, and honor and affection for the artist, the worthy rehearsing of his consummate ideas in a spirit of devotion for him and the glorious company of whom he is one of the most splendid chiefs.

Last night, as the year closed, we met as before to dwell on the past, on the departing year that was being laid to rest in the incalculable catacombs of time, and on the infinite myriads of human beings by whom those catacombs are peopled; and with music and with voice we sought to attune our spirits to the true meanings of the hour. The year has been to many of us one of cruel anxieties, of sad memories and irreparable loss. In Mr. Cutler we have lost a most sincere and valued brother. As we stood round his open grave, there was but one feeling in our gathered mourners—a sense of loss that could ill be borne, honor to his gentle and upright career, sympathy with those whom he had left. The occasion will long be remembered, perhaps, as the first on which our body has ever been called on to take part in a purely Positivist burial service. Did any one present feel that the religion of Humanity is without its power to dignify, to consecrate, and to console in the presence of death? I speak not for others, but for myself. And, for my part, when I remember the pathetic chant of our friends at the grave, the reality of their reverend sorrow, the consolatory sense of resignation and hope with which we laid our brother in his peaceful bed, I feel the conviction that in this supreme office, the great test of religious power, the faith in Humanity will surpass the faith in the fictions—in beauty, in pathos, in39 courage, and in consolation, even as it so manifestly surpasses them in reality.

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

We have this past year also carried out another series of commemorations, long familiar to our friends in France, but which are a real creation of Positivist belief. I mean those Pilgrimages or religious visits to the scenes of the lives of our great men. This is a real revival of a noble mediæval and Oriental practice, but wholly without superstitious40 taint, and entirely in the current of modern scientific thought. We go in a body to some spot where one of our immortal countrymen lived or died, and there, full of the beauty of the scene on which he used to gaze, and of the genius loci by which he was inspired, we listen to a simple discourse on his life and work. In this way we visited the homes or the graves of Bacon, of Harvey, of Milton, of Penn, of Cromwell, and of our William of Orange. What may not the art of the future produce for us in this most fruitful mode, when in place of the idle picnics and holidays of vacant sightseers, in place of the formal celebration of some prayer-book saint, we shall gather in a spirit of real religion and honor round the birthplace, the home, it may be the grave, of some poet, thinker, or ruler; and amidst all the inspiration of Nature and of the sacred memories of the soil, shall fill our hearts with the joy in beauty and profound veneration of the mighty Dead?


In our Sunday meetings, which have been regularly continued excepting during the four summer months, we have continued our plan of dealing alike with the religious, the social, and the intellectual sides of the Positivist view of life and duty. The Housing of the Poor, Art, Biology, Socialism, our social Duties, the Memory of the Dead, the Positivist grounds of Morality, and our Practical Duties in Life, formed the subject of one series. Since our re-opening in the autumn, we have had courses on the Bible, on the religious value of the modern poets, and on the true basis of social equality. Amongst the features of special interest in these series of discourses is that one course was given by a former Unitarian minister who, after a life of successful preaching in the least dogmatic of all the Christian Churches, has been slowly reduced to the conviction that the reality of Humanity is a more substantial basis for religion to rest on than the hypothesis of God, and that the great scheme of human morality is a nobler Gospel to preach than the artificial ideal of a subjective Christ. I would in particular note the series of admirable lectures on the Bible, by Dr. Bridges, which combined41 the results of the latest learning on this intricate mass of ancient writings with the sympathetic and yet impartial judgment with which Positivists adopt into their sacred literature the most famous and most familiar of all the religious books of mankind. And again I would note that beautiful series of discourses by Mr. Vernon Lushington on the great religious poets of the modern world:—Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron, Wordsworth and Shelley. When we have them side by side, we shall have before us a new measure of the sound, sympathetic, and universal spirit of Positivist belief. It is only those who are strangers to it and to us who can wonder how we come to put the Bible and the poets in equal places of honor as alike the great organs of true religious feeling.

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

The publications of the year have been first and chiefly, The Testament and Letters of Auguste Comte, a work long looked for, the publication of which has been long delayed by various causes. In the next place I would call attention42 to the new and popular edition of International Policy, a work of combined essays which we put forward in 1866, nearly twenty years ago. Our object in that work was to state and apply to the leading international problems in turn the great principles of social morality on which it is the mission of Positivism to show that the politics of nations can only securely repose. In an epoch which is still tending, we are daily assured, to the old passion for national self-assertion, it is significant that the Positivist school alone can resolutely maintain and fearlessly repeat its dictates of morality and justice, whilst all the Churches, all the political parties, and all the so-called organs of opinion, which are really the creatures of parties and cliques, find various pretexts for abandoning them altogether. How few are the political schools around us who could venture to republish after twenty years, their political programmes of 1866, their political doctrines and practical solutions of the tangled international problems, and who could not find in 1885 a principle which they had discarded, or a proposal which to-day they are ashamed to have made twenty years ago.

Besides these books, the only separate publications of our body are the affecting address of Mr. Ellis On the due Commemoration of the Dead. The Positivist Society has met throughout the year for the discussion of the social and political questions of the day. The most public manifestation of its activity has been the part that it took in the third centenary of the great hero of national independence, William, Prince of Orange, called the Silent. The noble and weighty address in which Mr. Beesly expressed to the Dutch Committee at Delft the honor in which we held that immortal memory, has deeply touched, we are told, those to whom it was addressed. And it is significant that from this hall, dedicated to peace, to the Republic, to the people, and to Humanity, there was sent forth the one voice from the entire British race in honor to the great prince, the soldier, the diplomatist the secret, subtle, and haughty chief, who, three hundred years ago, created the Dutch nation. We have learned here to care little for a purely insular43 patriotism. The great creators of nations are our forefathers and our countrymen. Protestant or Catholic are nothing to us, so long as either prepared the way for a broader faith. In our abhorrence of war we have learned to honor the chief who fought desperately for the solid bases of peace. In our zeal for the people, for public opinion, for simplicity of life, and for truthfulness and openness in word as in conduct, we have not forgotten the relative duty of those who in darker, fiercer, ruder times than ours used the weapons of their age in the spirit of duty, and to the saving of those precious elements where-out the future of a better Humanity shall be formed.


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

I am far from pretending that general principles of this kind entitle us to pass a judgment on the complex questions of current politics, or that all Positivists who recognize these principles are bound to judge current politics in precisely the same way. There is in Positivism a deep vein of true Conservatism; as there44 is also an unquenchable yearning for a social revolution of a just and peaceful kind. But no one of these tendencies impel us, I think, to march under the banner either of Mr. Gladstone or Lord Salisbury. As Republicans on principle, we desire the end of all hereditary institutions. As believers in public opinion, we desire to see opinion represented in the most complete way, and without class distinctions. As men who favor efficiency and concentration in government, we support whatever may promise to relieve us of the scandalous deadlock to which Parliamentary government has long been reduced. It may be permitted to those who are wholly detached from party interests to express a lively satisfaction that the long electoral struggle is happily got out of the way, and that a great stride has been taken towards a government at once energetic and popular, without regarding the hobbies about the representation of women and the representation of inorganic minorities.

It is on a far wider field that our great political interests are absorbed. There is everywhere a revival of the spirit of national aggrandisement and imperial ambition. Under the now avowed lead of the great German dictator, the nations of Europe are running a race to extend their borders by conquest and annexation amongst the weak and uncivilised. There is to-day a scramble for Africa, as there was formerly a scramble for Asia; and the scramble in Asia, or in Polynesia, is only less urgent for the moment, in that the rivalry is just now keenest in Africa. But in Asia, in Africa, in Polynesia, the strong nations of Europe are struggling to found Empires by violence, fraud, or aggression. Three distinct wars are being waged in the East; and in Africa alone our soldiers and our Government are asserting the rule of the sword in the North, on the East, in the centre, on the South, and on the West at the same time. Five years ago, we were told that for England at least there was to be some lull in this career of blood and ambition. It was only, we see, a party cry, a device to upset a government. There has been no lull, no pause in the scramble for empire. The empire swells year by year; year by year fresh wars break45 out; year by year the burden of empire increases whether Disraeli or Gladstone, Liberal or Conservative, are the actual wielders of power. The agents of the aggression, the critics, have changed sides; the Jingoes of yesterday are the grumblers of to-day; and the peaceful patriots of yesterday are the Jingoes of to-day. The empire and its appendages are even vaster in 1885 than in 1880; its responsibilities are greater; its risks and perplexities deeper; its enemies stronger and more threatening. And in the midst of this crisis, those who condemn this policy are fewer; their protests come few and faint. The Christian sects can see nothing unrighteous in Mr. Gladstone; the Liberal caucuses stifle any murmur of discontent, and force those who spoke out against Zulu, Afghan, and Trans-Vaal wars to justify, by the tyrant’s plea of necessity, the massacre of Egyptian fellahs and the extermination of Arab patriots. They who mouthed most loudly about Jingoism are now the foremost in their appeals to national vanity. And the parasites of the parasites of our great Liberal statesman can make such hubbub, in his utter absence of a policy, that they drive him by sheer clamor from one adventure into another. For nearly four years now we have continuously protested against the policy pursued in Egypt. Year after year we have told Mr. Gladstone that it was blackening his whole career and covering our country with shame. There is a monotony about our protests. But, when there is a monotony in evil-doing, there must alike be monotony in remonstrance. We complain that the blood and treasure of this nation should be used in order to flay the peasantry of the Nile, in the interests of usurers and speculators. We complain that we practically annex a people whom we will not govern and cannot benefit. We are boldly for what in the slang of the day is called “scuttling” out of Egypt. We think the robber and the oppressor should scuttle as quickly as possible, that he is certain to scuttle some day. We complain of massacring an innocent people merely to give our traders and money-dealers larger or safer markets. We complain of all the campaigns and battles as wanton, useless, and unjust massacres. We especially condemn the46 war in the Soudan as wanton and unjust even in the avowal of the very ministers who are urging it. The defender of Khartoum is a man of heroic qualities and beautiful nature; but the cause of civilisation is not served by launching amongst savages a sort of Pentateuch knight errant. And we seriously complain that the policy of a great country in a great issue of right and wrong should be determined by schoolboy shouting over the feats of our English Garibaldi.

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

It may well be that Mr. Gladstone, and most of those who follow him in office, are of all our public men those who have least liking for these wars, annexations, and oppressive dealings with the weak. They may have less liking for them it may be, but they are the men who do these things. They are responsible. The blood lies on their doorstep. The guilt hangs on their fame. The corruption of the national conscience is their doing. The page of history will write their names and their deeds in letters of gore and of flame. It is mockery, even in the most servile parliamentary drudge, to repeat to us that the wrong lies at the door of the Opposition, foreign intriguers, international engagements, untoward circumstances. Keep these threadbare pretexts to defend the next official blunder amidst the cheers of a party mob. The English people will have none of such stale equivocation. The ministers who massacred thousands at Tel-el-Kebir, at Alexandria, at Teb, at Tamasi, who are sinking millions of our people’s hard-won savings in the sands of Africa, in order to slaughter a brave race whom they themselves declare to be heroes and patriots fighting for freedom; and who47 after three years of this bloodshed, ruin, and waste, have nothing to show for it—nothing, except the utter chaos of a fine country, the extreme misery of an innocent people, and all Europe glowering at us in menace and hate—the men who have done this are responsible. When they fail to annex some trumpery bit of coast, the failure is naturally set down to blundering, not to conscience. History, their country, their own conscience will make them answer for it. The headlong plunge of our State, already over-burdened with the needs and dangers of a heterogeneous empire, the consuming rage for national extension, which the passion for money, markets, careers, breeds in a people where moral and religious principles are loosened and conflicting, this is the great evil of our time. It is to stem this that statesmen should address themselves. It is to fan this, or to do its bidding, that our actual statesmen contend. Mr. Gladstone in his heart may loathe the task to which he is set and the uses to which he lends his splendid powers. But there are some situations where weakness before powerful clamor works national ruin more readily even than ambition itself. How petty to our descendants will our squabbles in the parliamentary game appear, when history shall tell them that Gladstone waged far more wars than Disraeli; that he slaughtered more hecatombs of innocent people; that he oppressed more nations, embroiled us worse with foreign nations; left the empire of a far more unwieldy size, more exposed and on more rotten foundations; and that Mr. Gladstone did all this not because it seemed to him wise or just, but for the same reason (in truth) that his great rival acted, viz., that it gave him unquestioned ascendency in his party and with those whose opinion he sought.

I have not hesitated to speak out my mind of the policy condemned, not in personal hostility or irritation, however much I respect the great qualities of Mr. Gladstone himself, however little I desire to see him displaced by his rivals. No one will venture to believe that I speak in the interest of party, or have any quarrel with my own countrymen. All that I have said in condemnation of the African policy of England I would say in condemnation of the48 Chinese policy in France. I would say it all the more because, for the reasons on which I will not now enlarge, our brethren in France have said so little, and that little with so broken a voice. It is a weakness to our common cause that so little has been said in France. But I rejoice to see that in the new number of our Review, our director, M. Laffitte, has spoken emphatically against all disturbance of the status quo, and the policy of founding colonial empires. It behooves us all the more to speak out plainly here. There is the same situation in France as in England. A ministry whom the majority trust, and whom the military and trading class can bend to do their will; a thirst in the rich to extend the empire; a thirst in the adventurers for careers to be won; a thirst in the journalists for material wherewith to pamper the national vanity. There, too, are in the East backward peoples to be trampled on, a confused tangle of pretexts and opportunities, a Parliamentary majority to be secured, and a crowd of interests to be bribed. In the case of M. Ferry, we can see all the weakness, all the helpless vacillations, all the danger of his game; its cynical injustice, its laughable pretexts and excuses, its deliberate violation of the real interests of the nation, the formidable risks that he is preparing for his country, and the ruin which is as certain to follow it. In Mr. Gladstone’s case there are national and party slaves for the conscience of the boldest critic.

The year, too, has witnessed a new form of the spread-eagle tendency in the revival of one of our periodical scares about the strength of the navy. About once in every ten or twenty years a knot of shipbuilders, journalists, seamen, and gunners, contrive to stir up a panic, and to force the nation into a great increase of its military expenditure. I am not going to discuss the truth about the Navy, or whether it be equal or not to the requirements of the Service. I look at this in a new way: I take up very different ground. I say that the service, to which we are now called on to make the navy equal, is a service that we ought not to undertake. The requirements demanded are wholly incompatible with the true interests of our nation. They are opposed to the real conditions of49 civilisation. They will be in a very few years, even if they are not now, beyond the power of this people to meet. The claim to a maritime supremacy, in the sense that this country is permanently to remain undisputed mistress of all seas, always able and ready to overwhelm any possible combination of any foreign Powers, this claim in itself is a ridiculous anachronism. Whether the British fleet is now able to overpower the combined fleets of Europe, or even of several Powers in Europe, I do not know. Even if it be now able, such is the progress of events, the ambition of our neighbors, and the actual conditions of modern war, that it is physically impossible that such a supremacy can be permanently maintained. To maintain it, even for another generation, would involve the subjection of England to a military tyranny such as exists for the moment in Germany, to a crushing taxation and conscription, of which we have had no experience. We should have to spend, not twenty-five, but fifty millions a year on our army and navy if we intend to be really masters in every sea, and to make the entire British empire one continuous Malta and Gibraltar. And even that, or a hundred millions a year, would not suffice in the future for the inevitable growth of foreign powers and the constant growth of our own empire. To guarantee the permanent supremacy of the seas, we shall need some Bismarck to crush our free people into the vice of his military autocracy and universal conscription.

“Rule Britannia,” or England’s exclusive dominion of the seas, is a temporary (in my opinion, an unfortunate) episode in our history. To brag about it and fight for it is the part of a bad citizen; to maintain it would be a crime against the human race. To have founded, not an empire, but a scattered congeries of possessions in all parts of the world by conquest, intrigue, or arbitrary seizure, is a blot upon our history; to perpetuate it is a burdensome inheritance to bequeath to our children. To ask that this inorganic heap of possessions shall be perpetually extended, made absolutely secure against all comers, and guarded by a fleet which is always ready to meet the world in arms—this is a programme which it is the50 duty of every good citizen to stamp out. Whilst this savage policy is in vogue, the very conditions of national morality, of peace, of true industrial civilisation are wanting. The first condition of healthy national progress is to have broken for ever with this national buccaneering. The commerce, the property of Englishmen on the seas must protect itself, like that of other nations, by just, prudent, and civilised bearing, and not by an exclusive dominion which other great nations do very well without. The commerce and the honor of Americans are safe all over the world, though their navy is not one-tenth of ours. And Germany can speak with us face to face on every ocean, though she can hardly put a first-rate ship in array of battle. To talk big about refusing to trust the greatness of England to the sufferance of her neighbors is mere clap-trap. It is the phrase of Mexican or Californian desperadoes when they fill their pockets with revolvers and bowie-knives. All but two or three of the greatest nations are obliged, at all times, to trust their existence to the sufferance of their stronger neighbors. And they are just as safe, and quite as proud, and more civilised than their great neighbors in consequence. Human society, whether national or international, only begins when social morality has taken the place of individual violence. Society, for men or nations, cannot be based on the revolver and bowie-knife principle.

We repudiate, then, with our whole souls the code of buccaneer patriotism. True statesmen are bound to check, not to promote, the expansion of England; to provide for the peaceful disintegration of the heterogeneous empire, the permanence of which is as incapable of being justified in policy as of being materially defended in arms. These aggressions and annexations and protectorates, these wanton wars amongst savages are at once blunders and crimes, pouring out by millions what good government and thrift at home save by thousands, degrading the present generation and deeply wronging the next. We want no fleet greater than that of our greatest neighbors, and the claim to absolute dominion at sea must be put away like the claim to the kingdom of France or exclusive right to the British51 Channel. We can afford to smile at the charge that we are degenerate Britons or wanting in patriotism. Patriotism to us is a deep and working desire for the good name of England, for the justice and goodness of her policy, for the real enlightenment and well-being of her sons, and for her front place in humanity and civilisation. We smile at the vaporing of men to whom patriotism means a good cry, and several extra editions.

It may seem for the moment that doctrines such as ours are out of credit, and that there is little hope of their ever obtaining the mastery. We are told that to-day not a voice is raised to oppose the doctrines of spoliation. It is true that, owing to the hubbub of party politics, to the servility of the Christian Churches, and the low morality of the press, these national acts of rapacity have passed as yet with but small challenge. But at any rate here our voice has never wavered, nor have considerations of men, parties, or majorities led us to temporise with our principles. We speak out plainly—not more plainly than Mr. Gladstone and his followers on platform and in press spoke out once—and we shall go on to speak out plainly, whether we are many or whether we are few, whether the opinion of the hour is with us or not. But I am not despondent. Nor do I doubt the speedy triumph of our stronger morality. I see with what weather cock rapidity the noisiest of the Anti-Jingoes can change their tone. The tribe of Cleon, and the Sausage-seller are the same in every age. I will not believe that the policy of a great nation can be long dictated by firms of advertising touts, who will puff the new soap, a comic singer, and an imperial war in the same page; who are equally at home in the partition of Africa or a penny dreadful. Nations are not seriously led by the arts which make village bumpkins crowd to the show of the fat girl and the woolly pig. In the rapid degradation of the press to the lower American standard we may see an escape from its mischief. The age is one of democracy. We have just taken a great stride towards universal suffrage and the government of the people. In really republican societies, where power rests on universal suffrage, as in France, and in America, the power of the press52 is reduced to a very low ebb. The power of journalism is essentially one of town life and small balanced parties. Its influence evaporates where power is held by the millions, and government appeals directly to vast masses of voters spread over immense areas. Cleon and the Sausage-seller can do little when republican institutions are firmly rooted over the length and breadth of a great country.

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

There is, too, another side to this matter. If these burdens are to be thrust on the national purse, and (should the buccaneers have their way) if the permanent war expenditure must be doubled, and little wars at ten and twenty millions each are inevitable as well, then in all fairness the classes who make these wars and profit by them must pay for them. We have taken a great stride towards democracy, and two of the first taxes with which the new democracy will deal are the income-tax and the land-tax. The entire revision of taxation is growing inevitable. It is a just and sound principle that the main burden of taxation shall be thrown on the rich, and we have yet to see how the new democracy will work out that just principle. A graduated income-tax is a certain result of the movement. The steady pressure against customs duties and the steady decline in habits of drink53ing must combine to force the taxation of the future more and more on income and on land. A rapid rise in the scale of taxing incomes, until we reach the point where great fortunes cease to be rapidly accumulated, would check the wasteful expenditure on war more than any consideration of justice. Even a China merchant would hardly promote an opium war when he found himself taxed ten or twenty per cent. on his income.

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

One of the cardinal facts of our immediate generation is the sudden revival of Socialism and Communism. It was not crushed, as we thought, in 1848; it was not extinguished in 1871. The new Republic in France is uneasy with it. The military autocracy of Germany is honeycombed with it. Society is almost dissolved by it in Russia. It is rife in America, in Italy, in Denmark, in Austria. Let no man delude himself that Socialism has no footing here. I tell them (and I venture to say that I know) Socialism within the last few years has made some progress here. It will assuredly make progress still. With the aspirations and social aims of Socialism we have much in common, little as we are Communists and firmly as we support the institution of private property. But if Socialism is in the ascendant, if54 the new democracy is exceedingly likely to pass through a wave of Socialist tendency, are these the men, and is this the epoch to foster a policy of imperial aggression? With the antipathy felt by Socialists for all forms of national selfishness, with their hatred of war, and their noble aspirations after the brotherhood of races and nations, we as Positivists are wholly at one. Let us join hands, then, with Socialists, with Democrats, with Humanitarians, and reformers of every school, who repudiate a policy of national oppression; and together let us appeal to the new democracy from the old plutocracy to arrest our nation in its career of blood, and to lift this guilty burden from the conscience of our children for ever.

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




It is perhaps difficult for men of middle age to estimate Tennyson aright. For we who love poetry were brought up, as it were, at his feet, and he cast the magic of his fascination over our youth. We have gone away, we have travelled in other lands, absorbed in other preoccupations, often revolving problems different from those concerning which we took counsel with him; and we hear new voices, claiming authority, who aver that our old master has been superseded, that he has no message for a new generation, that his voice is no longer a talisman of power. Then we return to the country of our early love, and what shall our report be? Each one must answer for himself; but my report will be entirely loyal to those early and dear impressions. I am of those who believe that Tennyson has still a message for the world. Men become impatient with hearing Aristides so often called just, but is that the fault of Aristides? They are impatient also with a reputation, which necessarily is what all great reputations must so largely be—the empty echo of living voices from blank walls. “Now again”—not the people, but certain critics—“call it but a weed.” Yet how strange these fashions in poetry are! I well remember Lord Broughton, Byron’s friend, expressing to me, when I was a boy, his astonishment that the bust of Tennyson by Woolner should have been thought worthy of a place near that of Lord Byron in Trinity College, Cambridge. “Lord Byron was a great poet; but Mr. Tennyson, though he had written pretty verses,” and so on. For one thing, the men of that generation deemed Tennyson terribly obscure. “In Memoriam,” it was held, nobody could possibly understand. The poet, being original, had to make his own public. Men nurtured on Scott and Byron could not understand him. Now we hear no more of his obscurity. Moreover, he spoke as the mouthpiece of his own time. Doubts, aspirations, visions unfamiliar to the aging, breathed melodiously through him. Again, how contemptuously do Broad-church psychologists like George57 Macdonald, and writers for the Spectator, as well as literary persons belonging to what I may term the finikin school, on the other hand, now talk of our equally great poet Byron. How detestable must the North be, if the South be so admirable! But while Tennyson spoke to me in youth, Byron spoke to me in boyhood, and I still love both.

Whatever may have to be discounted from the popularity of Tennyson on account of fashion and a well-known name, or on account of his harmony with the (more or less provincial) ideas of the large majority of Englishmen, his popularity is a fact of real benefit to the public, and highly creditable to them at the same time. The establishment of his name in popular favor is but very partially accounted for by the circumstance that, when he won his spurs, he was among younger singers the only serious champion in the field, since, if I mistake not, he was at one time a less “popular” poet than Mr. Robert Montgomery. Vox populi is not always vox Dei, but it may be so accidentally, and then the people reap benefit from their happy blunder. The great poet who won the laurel before Tennyson has never been “popular” at all, and Tennyson is the only true English poet who has pleased the “public” since Byron, Walter Scott, Tom Moore, and Mrs. Hemans. But he had to conquer their suffrages, for his utterance, whatever he may have owed to Keats, was original, and his substance the outcome of an opulent and profound personality. These were serious obstacles to success, for he neither went “deep” into “the general heart” like Burns, nor appealed to superficial sentiments in easy language like Scott, Moore, and Byron. In his earliest volume indeed there was a preponderance of manner over matter; it was characterized by a certain dainty prettiness of style, that scarcely gave promise of the high spiritual vision and rich complexity of human insight to which he has since attained, though it did manifest a delicate feeling for nature in association with human moods, an58 extraordinarily subtle sensibility of all senses, and a luscious pictorial power. Not Endymion had been more luxuriant. All was steeped in golden languors. There were faults in plenty, and of course the critics, faithful to the instincts of their kind, were jubilant to nose them. To adapt Coleridge’s funny verses, not “the Church of St. Geryon,” nor the legendary Rhine, but the “stinks and stenches” of Kölntown do such offal-feeders love to enumerate, and distinguish. But the poet in his verses on “Musty Christopher” gave one of these people a Roland for his Oliver. Stuart Mill, as Mr. Mathews, in his lately published and very instructive lecture on Tennyson, points out, was the one critic in a million who remembered Pope’s precept,

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

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

But really it is well for us, the poet’s elect lovers, to remember that he once had faults, however few he may now retain; for the perverse generation who dance not when the poet pipes to them, nor mourn when he weeps, have turned upon Tennyson with the cry that he “is all fault who has no fault at all”—they would have us regard him as a kind of Andrea del Sarto, a “blameless” artistic “monster, “a poet of unimpeachable technical skill, but keeping a certain dead level of moderate merit. It is as well to be reminded that this at all events is false. The dawn of his young art was beautiful; but the artist had all the generous faults of youthful genius—excess, vision confused with gorgeous color and predominant sense, too palpable artifice of diction, indistinctness of articulation in the outline, intricately-woven cross-lights flooding the canvas, defect of living interest; while Coleridge said that he began to write poetry without an ear for metre. Neither Adeline, Madeline, nor Eleanore are living portraits, though Eleanore is gorgeously painted. “The Ode to Memory” has isolated images of rare beauty, but it is kaleidoscopic in effect; the fancy is59 playing with loose foam-wreaths, rather than the imagination “taking things by the heart.” But our great poet has gone beyond these. He has himself rejected twenty-six out of the fifty-eight poems published in his first volume; while some of those even in the second have been altogether rewritten. Such defects are eminently present in the lately republished poem written in youth, “The Lover’s Tale,” though this too has been altered. As a storehouse of fine imagery, metaphor, and deftly moulded phrase, of blank verse also whose sonorous rhythm must surely be a fabric of adult architecture, the piece can hardly be surpassed; but the tale as tale lingers and lapses, overweighted with the too gorgeous trappings under which it so laboriously moves. And such expression as the following, though not un-Shakspearian, is hardly quarried from the soundest material in Shakspeare—for, after all, Shakspeare was a euphuist now and then—

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

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

Mr. G. Brimley was the first, I believe, to point out the distinctive peculiarity of Lord Tennyson’s treatment of landscape. It is treated by him dramatically; that is to say, the details of it are selected so as to be interpretative of the particular mood or emotion he wishes to represent. Thus in the two Marianas, they are painted with the minute distinctness appropriate to the morbid and sickening observation of the lonely woman, whose attention is dis60tracted by no cares, pleasures, or satisfied affections. That is a pregnant remark, a key to unlock a good deal of Tennyson’s work with. Byron and Shelley, though they are carried out of themselves in contemplating Nature, do not, I think, often take her as interpreter of moods alien to their own. In Wordsworth’s “Excursion,” it is true, Margaret’s lonely grief is thus delineated though the neglect of her garden and the surroundings of her cottage; yet this is not so characteristic a note of his nature-poetry. In the “Miller’s Daughter” and the “Gardener’s Daughter” the lovers would be little indeed without the associated scene so germane to the incidents narrated, both as congenial setting of the picture for a spectator, and as vitally fused with the emotion of the lovers; while never was more lovely landscape-painting of the gentle order than in the “Gardener’s Daughter.” Lessing, who says that poetry ought never to be pictorial, would, I suppose, much object to Tennyson’s; but to me, I confess, this mellow, lucid, luminous word-painting of his is entirely delightful. It refutes the criticism that words cannot convey a picture by perfectly conveying it. Solvitur ambulando; the Gardener’s Daughter standing by her rose-bush, “a sight to make an old man young,” remaining in our vision to confound all crabbed pedants with pet theories.

In his second volume, indeed, the poet’s art was well mastered, for here we find the “Lotos-eaters,” “Œnone,” “The Palace of Art,” “A Dream of Fair Women,” the tender “May-Queen,” and the “Lady of Shalott.” Perhaps the first four of these are among the very finest works of Tennyson. In the mouth of the love-lorn nymph Œnone he places the complaint concerning Paris into which there enters so much delightful picture of the scenery around Mount Ida, and of those fair immortals who came to be judged by the beardless apple-arbiter. How deliciously flows the verse!—though probably it flows still more entrancingly in the “Lotos-eaters,” wandering there like clouds of fragrant incense, or some slow heavy honey, or a rare amber unguent poured out. How wonderfully harmonious with the dream-mood of the dreamers61 are phrase, image, and measure! But we need not quote the lovely choric song wherein occur the lines—

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

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

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

where we feel also the poet’s remarkable faculty of making word and rhythm an echo and auxiliary of the sense. Not only have we the three cæsuras respectively after “fall,” and “pause” and “fall,” but the length, and soft amplitude of the vowel sounds with liquid consonants aid in the realization of the picture, reminding of Milton’s beautiful “From morn to noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve, a summer’s day.” The same faculty is notable in the rippling lilt of the charming little “Brook” song, and indeed everywhere. In the “Dream of Fair Women” we have a series of cabinet portraits, presenting a situation of human interest with a few animating touches, but still chiefly through suggestive surroundings. There occurs the magnificent phrase of Cleopatra: “We drank the Lybian sun to sleep, and lit lamps which outburned Canopus.” The force of expression could be carried no further than throughout this poem, and by “expression” of course I do not mean pretty words, or power-words for there own sweet sake, for these, expressing nothing, whatever else they may be, are not “expression;” but I mean the forcible or felicitous presentment of thought, image, feeling, or incident,62 through pregnant and beautiful language in harmony with them; though the subtle and indirect suggestion of language is unquestionably an element to be taken into account by poetry. The “Palace of Art” is perhaps equal to the former poem for lucid splendor of description, in this instance pointing a moral, allegorizing a truth. Scornful pride, intellectual arrogance, selfish absorption in æsthetic enjoyment, is imaged forth in this vision of the queen’s world-reflecting palace, and its various treasures—the end being a sense of unendurable isolation, engendering madness, but at last repentance, and reconcilement with the scouted commonalty of mankind.

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

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

The “Morte d’Arthur” affords a striking instance of this peculiarly Tennysonian method. That is another of the very finest pieces. Such poetry may suggest labor, but not more than does the poetry of Virgil or Milton. Every word is the right word, and each in the right place. Sir H. Taylor indeed warns poets against “wanting to make every word beautiful.” And yet here it must be owned that the result of such an effort is successful, so delicate has become the artistic tact of this poet in his maturity.1 For, good expression being63 the happy adaptation of language to meaning, it follows that sometimes good expression will be perfectly simple, even ordinary in character, and sometimes it will be ornate, elaborate, dignified. He who can thus vary his language is the best verbal artist, and Tennyson can thus vary it. In this poem, the “Morte d’Arthur,” too, we have “deep-chested music.” Except in some of Wordsworth and Shelley, or in the magnificent “Hyperion” of Keats, we have had no such stately, sonorous organ-music in English verse since Milton as in this poem, or in “Tithonus,” “Ulysses,” “Lucretius,” and “Guinevere.” From the majestic overture,

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

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

But this very picturesqueness of treatment has been urged against Tennyson as a fault in his narrative pieces generally, from its alleged over-luxuriance, and tendency to absorb, rather than enhance, the higher human interest of character and action. However this be (and I think it is an objection that does apply, for instance, to “The Princess”), here in this poem picturesqueness must be counted as a merit, because congenial to the semi-mythical, ideal, and parabolic nature of Arthurian legend, full of portent and supernatural suggestion. Such Ossianic hero-forms are nearly as much akin to the elements as to man. And the same answer holds largely in the case of the other Arthurian Idylls. It has been noted how well-chosen is the epithet “water” applied to a lake in the lines, “On one side lay the ocean, and on one Lay a great water, and the moon was full.” Why is this so happy? For as a rule the concrete rather than the abstract is poetical, because the former brings with it an image, and the former involves no vision. But now in the night all Sir Bedevere could observe, or care to observe, was that there was “some great water.” We do not—he did not—want to know exactly what it was. Other thoughts, other cares, preoccupy him and us. Again, of dying Arthur we are told that “all his greaves and caisses were dashed with drops of onset.” “Onset” is a very generic64 term, poetic because removed from all vulgar associations of common parlance, and vaguely suggestive not only of war’s pomp and circumstance, but of high deeds also, and heroic hearts, since onset belongs to mettle and daring; the word for vast and shadowy connotation is akin to Milton’s grand abstraction, “Far off His coming shone” or Shelley’s, “Where the Earthquake Demon taught her young Ruin.”

It has been noted also how cunningly Tennyson can gild and furbish up the most commonplace detail—as when he calls Arthur’s mustache “the knightly growth that fringed his lips,” or condescends to glorify a pigeon-pie, or paints the clown’s astonishment by this detail, “the brawny spearman let his cheek Bulge with the unswallowed piece, and turning stared;” or thus characterizes a pun, “and took the word, and play’d upon it, and made it of two colors.” This kind of ingenuity, indeed, belongs rather to talent than to genius; it is exercised in cold blood; but talent may be a valuable auxiliary of genius, perfecting skill in the technical departments of art. Yet such a gift is not without danger to the possessor. It may tempt him to make his work too much like a delicate mosaic of costly stone, too hard and unblended, from excessive elaboration of detail. One may even prefer to art thus highly wrought a more glowing and careless strain, that lifts us off our feet, and carries us away as on a more rapid, if more turbid torrent of inspiration, such as we find in Byron, Shelley, or Victor Hugo. Here you are compelled to pause at every step, and admire the design of the costly tesselated pavement under your feet. Perhaps there is a jewelled glitter, a Pre-Raphaelite or Japanese minuteness of finish here and there in Tennyson, that takes away from the feeling of aërial perspective and remote distance, leaving little to the imagination; not suggesting and whetting the appetite, but rather satiating it; his loving observation of minute particulars is so faithful, his knowledge of what others, even men of science, have observed so accurate, his fancy so nimble in the detection of similitudes. But every master has his own manner, and his reverent disciples would be sorry if he could be without it. We65 love the little idiosyncracies of our friends.

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

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

I feel myself a somewhat similar incongruity in the poet’s treatment of his more homely, modern, half-humorous themes, such as the introduction to the “Morte d’Arthur,” and66 “Will Waterproof;” not at all in the humorous poems, like the “Northern Farmer,” which are all of a piece, and perfect in their own vein. In this introduction we have “The host and I sat round the wassail bowl, then half-way ebb’d;” but this metaphorical style is not (fortunately) sustained, and so, as good luck would have it, a metaphor not being ready to hand, we have the honester and homelier line, “Till I tired out with cutting eights that day upon the pond;” yet this homespun hardly agrees with the above stage-king’s costume. And so again I often venture to wish that the Poet-Laureate would not say “flowed” when he only means “said.” Still, this may be hypercriticism. For I did not personally agree with the critic who objected to Enoch Arden’s fish-basket being called “ocean-smelling osier.” There is no doubt, however, that “Stokes, and Nokes, and Vokes” have exaggerated the poet’s manner, till the “murex fished up” by Keats and Tennyson has become one universal flare of purple. Beautiful as some of Mr. Rossetti’s work is, his expression in the sonnets surely became obscure from over-involution, and excessive fioriture of diction. But then Rossetti’s style is no doubt formed considerably upon that of the Italian poets. One is glad, however, that, this time, at all events, the right man has “got the porridge!”

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

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

Here the anapest instead of the iambic in the last place happily imitates the sword Excalibur’s own gyration in the air. Then what admirable wisdom does the legend, opening out into parable, disclose toward the end! When Sir Bedevere laments the passing away of the Round Table, and Arthur’s noble peerage, gone down in doubt, distrust, treachery, and blood, after that last great battle in the West, when, amid the death-white mist, “confusion fell even upon Arthur,” and “friend slew friend, now knowing whom he slew,” how67 grandly comes the answer of Arthur from the mystic barge, that bears him from the visible world to “some far island valley of Avilion,” “The old order changeth, yielding place to new, and God fulfils Himself in many ways, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world!” The new commencement of this poem, called in the idyls “The Passing of Arthur,” is well worthy of the conclusion. How weirdly expressive is that last battle in the mist of those hours of spiritual perplexity, which overcloud even strongest natures and firmest faith, overshadowing whole communities, when we know not friend from foe, the holiest hope seems doomed to disappointment, all the great aim and work of life have failed; even loyalty to the highest is no more; the fair polity built laboriously by some god-like spirit dissolves, and “all his realm reels back into the beast;” while men “falling down in death” look up to heaven only to find cloud, and the great-voiced ocean, as it were Destiny without love and without mind, with voice of days of old and days to be, shakes the world, wastes the narrow kingdom, yea, beats upon the faces of our dead! The world-sorrow pierces here through the strain of a poet usually calm and contented. Yet “Arthur shall come again, aye, twice as fair;” for the spirit of man is young immortally.

Who, moreover, has moulded for us phrases of more transcendent dignity, of more felicitous grace and import, phrases, epithets, and lines that have already become memorable household words? More magnificent expression I cannot conceive than that of such poems as “Lucretius,” “Tithonus,” “Ulysses.” These all for versification, language, luminous picture, harmony of structure have never been surpassed. What pregnant brevity, weight, and majesty of expression in the lines where Lucretius characterizes the death of his namesake Lucretia, ending “and from it sprang the commonwealth, which breaks, as I am breaking now!” What masterly power in poetically embodying a materialistic philosophy, congenial to modern science, yet in absolute dramatic keeping with the actual thought of the Roman poet! And at the same time, what tremendous grasp of the terrible68 conflict of passion with reason, two natures in one, significant for all epochs! In “Tithonus” and “Ulysses” we find embodiments in high-born verse and illustrious phrase of ideal moods, adventurous peril-affronting Enterprise contemptuously tolerant of tame household virtues in “Ulysses,” and the bane of a burdensome immortality, become incapable even of love, in “Tithonus.” Any personification more exquisite than that of Aurora in the latter were inconceivable.

M. Taine, in his Litterature Anglaise, represents Tennyson as an idyllic poet (a charming one), comfortably settled among his rhododendrons on an English lawn, and viewing the world through the somewhat insular medium of a prosperous, domestic and virtuous member of the English comfortable classes, as also of a man of letters who has fully succeeded. Again, either M. Taine, M. Scherer, or some other writer in the Revue des deux Mondes, pictures him, like his own Lady of Shalott, viewing life not as it really is, but reflected in the magic mirror of his own recluse fantasy. Now, whatever measure of truth there may formerly have been in such conceptions, they have assuredly now proved quite one-sided and inadequate. We have only to remember “Maud,” the stormier poems of the “Idylls,” “Lucretius,” “Rizpah,” the “Vision of Sin.” The recent poem “Rizpah” perhaps marks the high-water mark of the Laureate’s genius, and proves henceforward beyond all dispute his wide range, his command over the deeper-toned and stormier themes of human music, as well as over the gentler and more serene. It proves also that the venerable master’s hand has not lost its cunning, rather that he has been even growing until now, having become more profoundly sympathetic with the world of action, and the common growth of human sorrows. “Rizpah” is certainly one of the strongest, most intensely felt, and graphically realized dramatic poems in the language; its pathos is almost overwhelming. There is nothing more tragic in Œdipus, Antigone, or Lear. And what a strong Saxon homespun language has the veteran poet found for these terrible lamentations of half-demented agony,69 “My Baby! the bones that had sucked me, the bones that had laughed and had cried, Theirs! O no! They are mine not theirs—they had moved in my side.” Then the heart-gripping phrase breaking forth ever and anon in the imaginative metaphorical utterance of wild emotion, to which the sons and daughters of the people are often moved, eloquent beyond all eloquence, white-hot from the heart! “Dust to dust low down! let us hide! but they set him so high, that all the ships of the world could stare at him passing by.” In this last book of ballads the style bears the same relation to the earlier and daintier that the style of “Samson Agonistes” bears to that of “Comus.” “The Revenge” is equally masculine, simple, and sinewy in appropriate strength of expression, a most spirited rendering of a heroic naval action—worthy of a place, as is also the grand ode on the death of Wellington, beside the war odes of Campbell, the “Agincourt” of Drayton, and the “Rule Britannia” of Thomson. The irregular metre of the “Ballad of the Fleet” is most remarkable as a vehicle of the sense, resonant with din of battle, full-voiced with rising and bursting storm toward the close, like the equally spirited concluding scenes of “Harold,” that depict the battle of Senlac. The dramatic characterizations in “Harold” and “Queen Mary” are excellent—Mary, Harold, the Conqueror, the Confessor, Pole, Edith, Stigand, and other subordinate sketches, being striking and successful portraits; while “Harold” is full also of incident and action—a really memorable modern play; but the main motive of “Queen Mary” fails in tragic dignity and interest, though there is about it a certain grim subdued pathos, as of still life, and there are some notable scenes. Tennyson is admirably dramatic in the portrayal of individual moods, of men or women in certain given situations. His plays are fine, and of real historic interest, but not nearly so remarkable as the dramatic poems I have named, as the earlier “St. Simeon Stylites,” “Ulysses,” “Tithonus,” or as the “Northern Farmer,” “Cobblers,” and “Village Wife,” among his later works. These last are perfectly marvellous in their fidelity and humorous photographic realism. That the poet of “Œnone,” “The Lotus-eaters,” and70 the Arthur cycle should have done these also is wonderful. The humor of them is delightful, and the rough homely diction perfect. One wishes indeed that the “dramatic fragments” collected by Lamb, like gold-dust out of the rather dreary sand-expanse of Elizabethan playwrights, were so little fragmentary as these. Tennyson’s short dramatic poems are quintessential; in a brief glimpse he contrives to reveal the whole man or woman. You would know the old “Northern Farmer,” with his reproach to “God Amoighty” for not “letting him aloan,” and the odious farmer of the new style, with his “Proputty! Proputty!” wherever you met them. But “Dora,” the “Grand-mother,” “Lady Clare,” “Edward Gray,” “Lord of Burleigh,” had long since proved that Tennyson had more than one style at command; that he was master not only of a flamboyant, a Corinthian, but also of a sweet, simple, limpid English, worthy of Goldsmith or Cowper at their best.

Reverting, however, to the question of Tennyson’s ability to fathom the darker recesses of our nature, what shall be said of the “Vision of Sin?” For myself I can only avow that, whenever I read it, I feel as if some horrible gray fungus of the grave were growing over my heart, and over all the world around me. As for passion, I know few more profoundly passionate poems than “Love and Duty.” It paints with glowing concentrated power the conflict of duty with yearning passionate love, stronger than death. The “Sisters,” and “Fatima,” too, are fiercely passionate, as also is “Maud.” I should be surprised to hear that a lover could read “Maud,” and not feel the spring and mid-noon of passionate affection in it to the very core of him, so profoundly felt and gloriously expressed is it by the poet. Much of its power, again, is derived from that peculiarly Tennysonian ability to make Nature herself reflect, redouble, and interpret the human feeling. That is the power also of such supreme lyrics as “Break, break!” and “In the Valley of Cauterets;” of such chaste and consummate rendering of a noble woman’s self-sacrifice as “Godiva,” wherein “shameless gargoyles” stare, but71 “the still air scarcely breathes for fear;” and likewise of “Come into the garden, Maud,” an invocation that palpitates with rapture of young love, in which the sweet choir of flowers bear their part, and sing antiphony. The same feeling pervades the delicious passage commencing, “Is that enchanted moon?” and “Go not, happy day.” All this may be what Mr. Ruskin condemns as “pathetic” fallacy, but it is inevitable and right. For “in our life doth nature live, ours is her wedding garment, ours her shroud.” The same Divine Spirit pervades man and nature; she, like ourselves, has her transient moods, as well as her tranquil immovable deeps. In her, too, is a passing as well as an eternal, while we apprehend either according to our own capacity, together with the emotional bias that dominates us at the moment. The vital and permanent in us holds the vital and permanent in her, while the temporary in us mirrors the transitory in her. I cannot think indeed that the more troubled and jarring moods of disharmony and fury are touched with quite the same degree of mastery in “Maud” as are the sunnier and happier. Tennyson hitherto had basked by preference in the brighter regions of his art, and the turbid Byronic vein appeared rather unexpectedly in him. The tame, sleek, daintily-feeding gourmêts of criticism yelped indeed their displeasure at these “hysterics,” as they termed the “Sturm und Drang” elements that appeared in “Maud,” especially since the poet dared appropriately to body these forth in somewhat harsh, abrupt language, and irregular metres. Such elements, in truth, hardly seemed so congenial to him as to Byron or Hugo. Yet they were welcome, as proving that our chief poet was not altogether irresponsive to the terrible social problems around him, to the corruptions, and ever-festering vices of the body politic, to the doubt, denial, and grim symptoms of upheaval at his very doors. For on the whole some of us had felt that the Poet-Laureate was almost too well contented with the general framework of things, with the prescriptive rights of long-unchallenged rule, and hoar comfortable custom, especially in England, as though these were in very deed divine, and no72 subterranean thunder were ever heard, even in this favored isle, threatening Church and State, and the very fabric of society. But the temper of his class and time spoke through him. Did not all men rejoice greatly when Prince Albert opened the Exhibition of 1851; when Cobden and the Manchester school won the battle of free-trade; when steam-engines and the electric telegraph were invented; when Wordsworth’s “glorious time” came, and the Revised Code passed into law; when science first told her enchanting fairy tales? Yet the Millennium tarries, and there is an exceeding “bitter cry.”

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

The same principle on which I have throughout insisted as the key to most73 of Tennyson’s best poetry is the key also to the moving tale “Enoch Arden,” where the tropical island around the solitary shipwrecked mariner is gorgeously depicted, the picture being as full-Venetian, and resplendent in color, as those of the “Day-Dream” and “Arabian Nights.” But the conclusion of the tale is profoundly moving and pathetic, and relates a noble act of self-renouncement. Parts of “Aylmer’s Field,” too, are powerful.

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

I cannot at all assent to the criticism74 passed upon the Idylls by Mr. John Morley, who has indeed, as it appears to me, somewhat imperilled his critical reputation by the observation that they are “such little pictures as might adorn a lady’s school.” When we think of “Guinevere,” “Vivien,” the “Holy Grail,” the “Passing of Arthur,” this dictum seems to lack point and penetration. Indeed, had it proceeded only from some rhyming criticaster, alternating with the feeble puncture of his sting the worrying iteration of his own doleful drone, it might have been passed over as simply an impertinence.2 But while the poem is in part purely a fairy romance tinctured with humanity, Tennyson has certainly intended to treat the subject in part also as a grave spiritual parable. Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Elaine, Galahad, Vivien, are types, gracious or hateful. My own feeling, therefore, would rather be that there is too much human nature in the Idylls, than that there is too little; or at any rate that, while Arthur remains a mighty Shadow, whose coming and going are attended with supernatural portents, a worthy symbol of the Spirit of divine humanity, Vivien, for instance, is a too real and unlovely harlot, too gross and veritably breathing, to be in proportionate harmony with the general design. Lancelot and Guinevere, again, being far fuller of life and color than Arthur, the situation between these three, as invented, or at least as recast from the old legends in his own fashion by the poet, does not seem artistically felicitous, if regarded as a representation of an actual occurrence in human life. But so vivid and human are many of the stories that we can hardly fail so to regard them. And if the common facts of life are made the vehicle of a parable, they must not be distorted. It is chiefly, I think, because Arthur and Merlin are only seen, as it were, through the luminous haze appropriate to romance and myth, that the main motive of the epic, the loves of Lancelot and Guinevere, appears scarcely strong enough to bear the weight of momentous consequence imposed on it,75 which is no less than the retributive ruin of Arthur’s commonwealth. Now, if Art elects to appeal to ethical instinct, as great, human, undegraded Art continually must, she is even more bound, in pursuance of her own proper end, to satisfy the demand for moral beauty, than to gratify the taste for beauty intellectual or æsthetic. And of course, while you might flatter a poetaster, you would only insult a poet by refusing to consider what he says, and only professing a concern for how he says it. Therefore if the poet choose to lay all the blame of the dissolution and failure of Arthur’s polity upon the illicit loves of Lancelot and Guinevere, it seems to me that he committed a serious error in his invention of the early circumstances of their meeting; nothing of the kind being discoverable either in Mallory, or the old chronicle of Merlin. Great stress, no doubt, is laid by Sir Thomas Mallory on this illicit love as the fruitful source of much calamity; but then Mallory relates that Arthur had met and loved Guinevere long before he asked for her in marriage; whereas, according to Tennyson, he sent Lancelot to meet the betrothed maiden, and she, never having seen Arthur, loved Lancelot, as Lancelot Guinevere, at first sight. That circumstance, gratuitously invented, surely makes the degree of the lovers’ guilt a problem somewhat needlessly difficult to determine, if it was intended to brand their guilt as heinous enough to deserve the ruin of a realm, and the failure of Arthur’s humane life-purpose. Guinevere, seeing Lancelot before Arthur, and recognizing in him (as the sweet and pure Elaine, remember, did after her), the type of all that is noble and knightly in man, loves the messenger, and continues to love him after she has met her destined husband, whom she judges (and the reader of the Idylls can hardly fail to coincide with her judgment) somewhat cold, colorless, and aloof, however impeccable and grave; a kind of moral phantom, or imaginative symbol of the conscience, whom Guinevere, as typifying the human soul, ought indeed to love best (“not Lancelot, nor another”), but whom, as a particular living man, Arthur, one quite fails to see why Guinevere, a living woman with her own idiosyncracies, should be bound to76 love rather than Lancelot. For if Guinevere, as woman, ought to love “the highest” man “when she sees him,” it does not appear why that obligation should not equally bind all the women of her Court also! If the whole burden of the catastrophe was to be laid upon the conception of a punishment deserved by the great guilt of particular persons, that guilt ought certainly to have been so described as to appear heinous and inexcusable to all beyond question. The story need not have been thus moralized; but the Poet-Laureate chose to emphasize the breach of a definite moral obligation as unpardonable, and pregnant with evil issues. That being so, I submit that the moral sense is left hesitating and bewildered, rather than satisfied and acquiescent, which interferes with a thorough enjoyment of the work even as art. The sacrament of marriage is high and holy; yet we feel disposed to demand whether here it may not be rather the letter and mere convention than the spirit of constant affection and true marriage that is magnified. And if so, though popularity with the English public may be secured by this vindication of their domestic ideal, higher interests are hardly so well subserved. Doubtless the treachery to husband and friend on the part of the lovers was black and detestable. Doubtless their indulged love was far from innocent. But then why invent so complicated a problem, and yet write as if it were perfectly simple and easy of solution? What I complain of is, that this love has a certain air of grievous fatality and excuse about it, while yet the poet treats it as mere unmitigated guilt, fully justifying all the disaster entailed thereby, not only on the sinners themselves, but on the State, and the cause of human welfare. Nor can we feel quite sure, as the subject is here envisaged, that, justice apart, it is quite according to probability for the knowledge of this constant illicit affection to engender a universal infidelity of the Round Table Knights to vows which not only their lips, as in the case of Guinevere, but also their hearts have sworn; infidelity to their own true affection, and disloyalty to their own genuine aspiration after the fulfilment of chivalrous duty in championing the oppressed—all because77 a rich-natured woman like Guinevere proves faithful to her affection for a rich kindred humanity in Lancelot! How this comes about is at any rate not sufficiently explained in the poet’s narrative; and if so, he must be held to have failed both as artist and as ethical teacher, which in these Idylls he has certainly aspired to be. Then comes the further question, not altogether an easy one to answer, whether it is really true that even widespread sexual excess inevitably entails deterioration in other respects, a lowered standard of integrity and honor? The chivalry of the Middle Ages was sans peur, but seldom sans reproche. History, on being interrogated, gives an answer ambiguous as a Greek oracle. Was England, for instance, less great under the Regency than under Cromwell? But at all events, the old legends make the process of disintegration in Arthur’s kingdom much clearer than it is made by Tennyson. In Mallory, for instance, Arthur is by no means the sinless being depicted by Tennyson. Rightly or wrongly, he is resolved to punish Guinevere for her infidelity by burning, and Lancelot is equally resolved to rescue her, which accordingly he does from the very stake, carrying her off with him to his castle of Joyous Gard. Then Arthur and Sir Gawain make war upon him; and thus, the great knightly heads of the Round Table at variance; the fellowship is inevitably dissolved, for Modred takes advantage of their dissension to seize upon the throne. But in the old legends, who is Modred? The son of Arthur and his sister. According to them, assuredly the origin of the doom or curse upon the kingdom is the unwitting incest, yet deliberate adultery of Arthur, or perhaps the still earlier and deeply-dyed sin of his father, Uther. Yet, Mr. Swinburne’s contention, that Lord Tennyson should have emphasized the sin of Arthur as responsible for the doom that came upon himself and his kingdom, although plausible, appears to me hardly to meet all the exigencies of the case. Mr. Hutton says in reply that then the supernatural elements of the story could have found no place in the poem; no strange portents could have been described as accompanying the birth and death of Arthur. A Greek tragedian,78 he adds, would never have dreamt of surrounding Œdipus with such portents. But surely the latter remark demonstrates the unsoundness of the former. Has Mr. Hutton forgotten what is perhaps one of the sublimest scenes in any literature, the supernatural passing of this very deeply-dyed sinner Œdipus to his divine repose at Colonos, in the grove of those very ladies of divine vengeance, by whose awful ministry he had been at length assoiled of sin? the mysterious stairs; Antigone and Ismene expectant above; he “shading his eyes before a sight intolerable;” after drinking to the dregs the cup of sin and sorrow, rapt from the world, even he, to be tutelary deity of that land? Neither Elijah nor Moses was a sinless man; yet Moses, after enduring righteous punishment, was not, for God took him, and angels buried him; it was he who led Israel out of Egypt, communed with Jehovah on Sinai; he appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. But I would suggest that the poet might have represented suffering and disappointment, not as penalty apportioned to particular transgressions, rather as integral elements in that mysterious destiny which determines the lot of man in his present condition of defect, moral, physical, and intellectual, involved in his “Hamartia,” or failure to realize that fulness of being which yet ideally belongs to him as divine. Both these ideas—the idea of Doom or destiny, and that of Nemesis on account of voluntary transgression—are alike present in due equipoise in the great conceptions of Greek drama, as Mr. J. A. Symonds has conclusively proved in his brilliant, philosophic and poetic work on the Greek poetry, against the more one-sided contention of Schlegel. I feel throughout Shakspeare this same idea of mystic inevitable destiny dominating the lives of men: you may call it, if you please, the will of God. Yet if it dooms us to error, ignorance, and crime, at all events this will cannot resemble the wills of men as they appear to us now. Othello expiates his foolish credulity, and jealous readiness to suspect her who had given him no cause to doubt her love. But there was the old fool Brabantio, and the devil Iago; there were his race, his temperament, his circum79stances in general, and the circumstances of the hour,—all these were toils woven about him by Fate. Now, if the idea of Destiny be the more accentuated (and a tragedian surely should make us feel both this, and the free-will of man), then, as it seems to me, in the interests of Art, which loves life and harmony, not pure pain, loss, discord, or negation, there ought to be a purifying or idealizing process manifest in the ordeal to which the victims are subjected, if not for the protagonists, at all events for some of those concerned in the action. We must at least be permitted to behold the spectacle of constancy and fortitude, or devotion, as we do in Desdemona, Cordelia, Antigone, Iphigenia, Romeo and Juliet. But the ethical element of free-will is almost exclusively accentuated by Tennyson; and in such a case we desire to be fully persuaded that the “poetical justice” dealt out by the poet is really and radically justice, not a mere provincial or conventional semblance thereof.

Yet if you confine your attention to the individual Idylls themselves, they are undoubtedly most beautiful models of sinewy strength, touched to consummate grace. There can be nothing more exquisite than the tender flower-like humanity of dear Elaine, nor more perfect in pathetic dignity than the Idyll of Guinevere. Vivien is very powerful; but, as I said, the courtesan appears to me too coarsely and graphically realized for perfect keeping with the general tone of this faëry epic. The “Holy Grail” is a wonderful creation in the realm of the supernatural; all instinct with high spiritual significance, though some of the invention in this, as in the other Idylls, belongs to Sir Thomas Mallory. The adventures of the knights, notably of Galahad, Percivale, and Lancelot, in their quest for the Grail, are splendidly described. What, again, can be nobler than the parting of Arthur and Guinevere at Almesbury, where the King forgives and blesses her, she grovelling repentant before him, the gleaming “dragon of the great Pendragonship” making a vaporous halo in the night, as Arthur leaves her, “moving ghost-like to his doom?” Here the scenic element blends incorporate with the human, but assuredly does not overpower it, as has been pre80tended. Then how excellent dramatically are the subordinate figures of the little nun at Almesbury, and the rustic old monk, with whom Percivale converses in the Holy Grail; while, if we were to notice such similes (Homeric in their elaboration, though modern in their minute fidelity to nature) as that in Enid, which concerns the man startling the fish in clear water by holding up “a shining hand against the sun,” or the happy comparison of standing muscle on an arm to a brook “running too vehemently” over a stone “to break upon it,” our task would be interminable. The Arthur Idylls are full too of elevating exemplars for the conduct of life, of such chivalrous traits as courage, generosity, courtesy, forbearance, consecration, devotion of life for loyalty and love, service of the weak and oppressed; abounding also with excellent gnomic sayings inculcating these virtues. What admirable and delightful ladies are Enid, Elaine, Guinevere! Of the Laureate’s longer works, this poem and “In Memoriam” are his greatest, though both of these are composed of many brief song-flights.

It may not be unprofitable to inquire what idea Tennyson probably intended to symbolize by the “Holy Grail,” and the quest for it. Is it that of mere supernatural portent? Certainly not. The whole treatment suggests far more. I used to think it signified the mystical blood of Christ, the spirit of self-devotion, or, as Mallory defines it, “the secret of Jesus.” But it scarcely seems possible that Tennyson means precisely that, for then his ideal man Arthur would not discourage the quest. Does it not rather stand for that secret of the higher life as sought in any form of supernatural religion, involving acts of worship or asceticism, and religious contemplation? Yet Arthur deprecates not the religious life as such—rather that life in so far as it is not the auxiliary of human service. It is while pursuing the quest that Percivale (in the “Holy Grail”) finds all common life, even the most sacred relations of it, as well as the most ordinary and vulgar, turn to dust when he touches them; and to a religious fanatic that is indeed the issue—this life is less than dust to him; he exists for the future and81 “supernatural” only; his soul is already in another region than this homely work-a-day world of ours; and because it is another, he is only too ready to think it must be higher. What to him are our politics, our bewilderments, our fair humanities, our art and science, or schemes of social amelioration? Less than nothing. What he has to do is to save first his own soul, and then some few souls of others, if he can. But while, as Arthur himself complained, such an one waits for the beatific vision, or follows “wandering fires” of superstition, how often, for men with strength to right the wronged, will “the chance of noble deeds come and go unchallenged!” Arthur even dares to call the Holy Grail “a sign to maim this order which I made.” “Many of you, yea most, return no more.” But, as the Queen laments, “this madness has come on us for our sins.” Percivale turns monk, Galahad passes away to the spiritual city, Sir Bors meets Lancelot riding madly all abroad, and shouting, “Stay me not; I have been the sluggard, and I ride apace, for now there is a lion in the path!” Lancelot rides on the quest in order that, through the vision of the Grail, the sin of which his conscience accuses him may be rooted out of his heart. And so it was partly the sin—the infidelity to their vows—that had crept in amongst the knights, which drove the best of them to expiation, to religious fervors, whereby their sin might be purged, thus completing the disintegration of that holy human brotherhood, which had been welded together by Arthur for activities of righteous and loving endeavor after human welfare. Magnificent is the picture of the terrible, difficult quest of Lancelot, whose ineradicable sin hinders him from full enjoyment of the spiritual vision after which he longs. Nor will Arthur unduly discourage those who have thus in mortal peril half attained. “Blessed are Bors, Lancelot, and Percivale, for these have seen according to their sight.” Into his mouth the poet also puts some beautiful lines on prayer. More indeed may be wrought for the world by the silent spiritual life, by the truth-seeking student, by the beauty-loving artist, than is commonly believed. In worshipping the ideal they bless men. Arthur rebukes Gawain for light infidel profanity,82 born only of blind contented immersion in the slime of sense; while for the others, there was little indeed of the true religious spirit in their quest. “They followed but the leader’s bell, for one hath seen, and all the blind will see.” With them it is mere fashion, and hollow lip-service, or superstitious fear; a very devil-worship indeed, standing to them too often in the place of justice, mercy, and plain human duty. Nay, what terrible crimes have been committed against humanity in the name of this very religion! Even Percivale only attained to spiritual vision through the vision of Galahad, whose power of strong faith came upon him, for he lacked humility, a heavenly virtue too often lacking in the unco guid, as likewise in those raised above their fellows through any uncommon gifts, whether of body or mind. In the old legends, the sin of Lancelot himself is represented as consisting quite as much in personal ambition, over-self-confidence, and pride on the score of his prowess, as in his adultery with the Queen. Yet the “pure religion and undefiled” of Galahad and St. Agnes had been long since celebrated by our poet in two of his loveliest poems. But these sweet children were not left long to battle for goodness and truth upon the earth; heaven was waiting for them; though, while he remained, Galahad, who saw the vision because he was pure in heart, “rode shattering evil customs everywhere” in the strength of that purity and that vision. Arthur, however, avers he could not himself have joined in the quest, because his mission was to mould and guard his kingdom, although, that done, “let visions come and welcome;” nay, to him the common earth and air are all vision; and yet he knows himself no vision, nor God, nor the divine man. To the spiritual, indeed, all is religious, sacred, sacramental, for they look through the appearance to the reality, half hidden and half revealed under it. This avowal reminds me of Wordsworth’s grand passage in the “Ode on Immortality” concerning “creatures moving about in worlds not realized.” But for men not so far advanced revelations of the Holy Grail, sacramental observances, and stated acts of worship, are indeed of highest import and utility.83 Yet good, straightforward, modest Sir Bors, who is not over-anxious about the vision, to him it is for a moment vouchsafed, though Lancelot and Percivale attain to it with difficulty, and selfish, superstitious worldlings, with their worse than profitless head-knowledge, bad hearts, hollow worship of Convention and the Dead Letter, get no inkling of it at all. This wholesome conviction I trace through many of the Laureate’s writings. Stylites is not intended to be a flattering, though it is certainly a veracious portrait of the sanctimonious, self-depreciating, yet self-worshipping ascetic. The same feeling runs through “Queen Mary;” and Harold, the honest warrior of unpretending virtue, is well contrasted with the devout, yet un-English and only half-kingly confessor, upon whose piety Stigand passes no very complimentary remarks. So that the recent play which Lord Queensberry objected to surprises me; for in “Despair” it is theological caricature of the divine character which is made responsible for the catastrophe quite as much as Agnosticism, a mere reaction from false belief. Besides, has not Tennyson sung “There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds,” and “Power was with him in the night, which makes the darkness and the light, and dwells not in the light alone”?

Turning now to the philosophical and elegiac poetry of Tennyson, one would pronounce the poet to be in the best sense a religious mystic of deep insight, though fully alive to the claims of activity, culture, science, and art. It would not be easy to find more striking philosophical poetry than the lines on “Will,” the “Higher Pantheism,” “Wages,” “Flower in the Crannied Wall,” the “Two Voices,” and especially “In Memoriam.” As to “Wages,” it is surely true that Virtue, even if she seek no rest (and that is a hard saying), does seek the “wages of going on and still to be.” An able writer in “To-day” objects to this doctrine. And of course an Agnostic may be, often is, a much more human person—larger, kinder, sounder—than a believer. But the truth is, the very feeling that Love and Virtue are noblest and best involves the implicit intuition of their permanence, however the understanding may doubt or deny.84 Again, I find myself thoroughly at one with the profound teaching of the “Higher Pantheism,” As for “In Memoriam,” where is the elegiac poetry equal to it in our language? Gravely the solemn verse confronts problems which, mournful or ghastly, yet with some far-away light in their eyes, look us men of this generation in the face, visiting us with dread misgiving or pathetic hope. From the conference, from the agony, from the battle, Faith emerges, aged, maimed, and scarred, yet triumphing and serene. Like every greater poet, Tennyson wears the prophet’s mantle, as he wears the singer’s bay. Mourners will ever thank him for such words as, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all;” and, “Let love clasp grief, lest both be drowned;” and, “Our wills are ours, we know not how; our wills are ours, to make them Thine;” as for the lines that distinguish Wisdom and Knowledge, commending Wisdom as mistress, and Knowledge but as handmaid. Every mourner has his favorite section or particular chapel of the temple-poem, where he prefers to kneel for worship of the Invisible. Yes, for into the furnace men may be cast bound and come forth free, having found for companion One whose form was like the Son of God. Our poet’s conclusion may be foolish and superstitious, as some would now persuade us; but if he errs, it is in good company, for he errs with him who sang, “In la sua voluntade e nostra pace” and with Him who prayed, “Father, not My will, but Thine.”

The range, then, of this poet in all the achievements of his long life is vast—lyrical, dramatic,3 narrative, allegoric,85 philosophical. Even strong and barbed satire is not wanting, as in “Sea-Dreams,” the fierce verses to Bulwer, “The Spiteful Letter.” Of the most varied measures he is master, as of the richest and most copious vocabulary. Only in the sonnet form, perhaps, does his genius not move with so royal a port, so assured a superiority over all rivals. I have seen sonnets even by other living English writers that appeared to me more striking; notably, fine sonnets by Mr. J. A. Symonds, Mr. Theodore Watts, Mrs. Pfeiffer, Miss Blind. But surely Tennyson must have written very little indifferent poetry when you think of the fuss made by his detractors over the rather poor verses beginning “I stood on a tower in the wet,” and the somewhat insignificant series entitled “The Window.” For “The Victim” appears to me exceedingly good. Talk of daintiness and prettiness! Yes; but it is the lambent, water-waved damascening on a Saladin’s blade; it is the rich enchasement on a Cœur de Lion’s armor. Amid the soul-subduing spaces, and tall forested piers of that cathedral by Rhine, there are long jewelled flames for window, and embalmed kings lie shrined in gold, with gems all over it like eyes. While Tennyson must loyally be recognized as the Arthur or Lancelot of modern English verse, even by those among us who believe that their own work in poetry cannot fairly be damned as “minor,” while he need fear the enthronement of no younger rival near him, the poetic standard he has established is in all respects so high that poets who love their art must needs glory in such a leader and such an example, though pretenders may verily be shamed into silence, and Marsyas cease henceforward to contend with Apollo.—Contemporary Review.



Little snatch of ancient song
What has made thee live so long?
Flying on thy wings of rhyme
Lightly down the depths of time,
Telling nothing strange or rare,
Scarce a thought or image there,
Nothing but the old, old tale
Of a hapless lover’s wail;
Offspring of some idle hour,
Whence has come thy lasting power?
By what turn of rhythm or phrase,
By what subtle, careless grace
Can thy music charm our ears
After full three hundred years?
Little song, since thou wert born
In the Reformation morn,
How much great has past away,
Shattered or by slow decay!
Stately piles in ruins crumbled,
Lordly houses lost or humbled.
Thrones and realms in darkness hurled,
Noble flags forever furled,
Wisest schemes by statesmen spun,
Time has seen them one by one
Like the leaves of autumn fall—
A little song outlives them all.
There were mighty scholars then
With the slow, laborious pen
Piling up their works of learning,
Men of solid, deep discerning,
Widely famous as they taught
Systems of connected thought,
Destined for all future ages;
Now the cobweb binds their pages,
All unread their volumes lie
Mouldering so peaceably,
Coffined thoughts of coffined men.
Never more to stir again
In the passion and the strife,
In the fleeting forms of life;
All their force and meaning gone
As the stream of thought flows on.
Art thou weary, little song,
Flying through the world so long?
Canst thou on thy fairy pinions
Cleave the future’s dark dominions?
And with music soft and clear
Charm the yet unfashioned ear,
Mingling with the things unborn
When perchance another morn
Great as that which gave thee birth
Dawns upon the changing earth?
It may be so, for all around
With a heavy crashing sound
Like the ice of polar seas
Melting in the summer breeze,
Signs of change are gathering fast,
Nations breaking with their past.
The pulse of thought is beating quicker,
The lamp of faith begins to flicker,
The ancient reverence decays
With forms and types of other days;
And old beliefs grow faint and few
As knowledge moulds the world anew,
And scatters far and wide the seeds
Of other hopes and other creeds;
And all in vain we seek to trace
The fortunes of the coming race,
Some with fear and some with hope,
None can cast its horoscope.
Vap’rous lamp or rising star,
Many a light is seen afar,
And dim shapeless figures loom
All around us in the gloom—
Forces that may rise and reign
As the old ideals wane.
Landmarks of the human mind,
One by one are left behind,
And a subtle change is wrought
In the mould and cast of thought,
Modes of reasoning pass away,
Types of beauty lose their sway,
Creeds and causes that have made
Many noble lives, must fade;
And the words that thrilled of old
Now seem hueless, dead, and cold;
Fancy’s rainbow tints are flying,
Thoughts, like men, are slowly dying;
All things perish, and the strongest
Often do not last the longest;
The stately ship is seen no more,
The fragile skiff attains the shore;
And while the great and wise decay,
And all their trophies pass away,
Some sudden thought, some careless rhyme
Still floats above the wrecks of time.
Macmillan’s Magazine.


What is the difference between an English and an American audience? That is a question which has frequently been put to me, and which I have always found it difficult to answer. The points of dissimilarity are simply those arising88 from people of a common origin living under conditions often widely different. It is, therefore, only possible for me to indicate such traits in the bearing of the American playgoer as have come under my own personal notice, and impressed me with a sense of unfamiliarity.

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

By the enactments of the various States regulating the structure and conduct of places of amusement, full provision for the comfort and safety of89 the audience is insisted on. It is directed that the back of the auditorium should open by adequate doors directly upon the main passage or vestibule, and that through the centre of the floor should run an aisle right down to the orchestra rail. Thus the floor of the house is easy of access and exit, is generally of large expanse, and capable of containing half, or more than half, of the entire audience. It is usually divided into two parts—the orchestra or parquet, and the orchestra or parquet circle—the latter being a zone running around the former and covered by the projection of the first gallery. The floor of an American theatre is, as a rule, on a more inclined plane than is customary in English theatres, and there is a good view of the stage from every part. Outside the parquet circle, and within the inner wall of the building, is usually a wide passage where many persons can stand. Thus in most houses there is a great elasticity in the holding power, which at times adds not a little to the managerial success. I cannot but think that in several respects we have much to learn from our American cousins in the construction and arrangement of the auditorium of the theatre; on the other hand, they might study with advantage our equipment behind the proscenium.

It is perhaps due to the sentiment and tradition of personal equality in the nation, that the entire stream often turns to one portion of the house, in a way somewhat odd to those accustomed as we are in England to the separating force of social grades. To the great majority of persons, only one part of the theatre is eminently eligible, and other portions are mainly sought when the floor is occupied. The very willingness with which the public acquiesce in certain discomforts or annoyances attendant on visiting the theatre, would seem to show that the drama is an integral portion of their daily life. It cannot be denied by any one cognizant of the working of American theatres that there are certain facts or customs which must discount enjoyment. Before a visitor is in a position to settle comfortably to the reception of a play, he must, as a rule, experience many inconveniences. In the first place he has in some States to submit to the exactions of the ticket90 speculator or “scalper,” who, through defective State laws, is generally able to buy tickets in bulk, and to retail them at an exorbitant rate. I have known of instances where tickets of the full value of three dollars were paid for by the public at the average rate of ten or twelve dollars. Then, through the high price of labor, which in most American institutions causes employers to so dispose of their forces as to minimize service, the attendance in the front of the house is, I am told, often inadequate. Were it not for the orderly disposition and habit of the public, trained by the custom of equal rights to stand, and move en queue, it would not be possible to admit and seat the audience in the interval between the opening of the doors and the commencement of the performance. Thus the public are somewhat “hustled,” and from one cause or another too often reach their seats after having endured much annoyance with a patient submission which speaks volumes for their law-abiding nature; but which must sorely disturb that reposeful spirit which the actor may consider essential to a due enjoyment of the play.

Once in his seat the American playgoer does not, as a rule, leave it until the performance is at an end. The percentage of persons who move about during the entr’acte is, when compared with that in England, exceedingly small, and sinks into complete insignificance when contrasted with the exodus to the foyer customary in continental theatres. In the equipment of the American theatre there is one omission which will surprise us at home—that of the bar, or refreshment room. In not a single theatre that I can call to mind in America have I found provision made for drinking. It is not by any means that the average playgoer is a teetotaler, but that, if he wishes or needs to drink during the evening, he does it as he does during the hours of his working life, and not as a necessary concomitant to the enjoyment of his leisure hours. Two other things are noticeable: first, that the audiences are sometimes very unpunctual, and to suit the audiences the managers sometimes delay beginning. The audience depend on this delay, and the consequence frequently is, that a first act is entirely disturbed by their entry; sec91ondly, that, after the play, it is a custom, in a degree unknown in any European capital, to adjourn to various restaurants for supper.

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

I have dwelt on the external condition of the American audiences in order to explain the condition antecedent to the actor’s appearance. The differences between various audiences are so minute92 that some such insight seems necessary to enable one to recognise and understand them. An actor in the ordinary course of his work can only partially at best realise such differences as there may be, much less attempt to state them explicitly. His first experience before a strange audience is the discovery whether or not he is en rapport with them. This, however, he can most surely feel, though he cannot always give a reason for the feeling. As there is, in the occurrences of daily life, a conveyance other than by words of meaning, of sentiment, or of understanding between different individuals, so there is a carriage of mutual understanding or reciprocity of sentiment between the stage and the auditorium. The emotion which an actor may feel, or which his art may empower him successfully to simulate, can be conveyed over the floats in some way which neither actor nor audience may be able to explain; and the reciprocation of such emotion can be as surely manifested by the audience by more subtle and unconscious ways than overt applause or otherwise. It must be remembered that the opportunities which I have had of observing audiences have been almost entirely from my own stage. Little facility of wider observation is afforded to a man who plays seven performances each week and fills up most of the blank mornings with rehearsal or travel. I only put forward what I feel or believe. Such belief is based on the opportunities I have had of observation or of following out the experience of others.

The dominant characteristic of the American audience seems to be impartiality. They do not sit in judgment, resenting as positive offences lack of power to convey meanings or divergence of interpretation of particular character or scene. I understand that when they do not like a performance they simply go away, so that at the close of the evening the silence of a deserted house gives to the management a verdict more potent than audible condemnation. This does not apply to questions of morals, which can be, and are, as quickly judged here as elsewhere. On this subject I give entirely the evidence of others, for it has been my good fortune to see our audiences seated till the93 final falling of the curtain. Again, there is a kindly feeling on the part of the audience towards the actor as an individual, especially if he be not a complete stranger, which is, I presume, a part of that recognition of individuality which is so striking a characteristic in American life and customs. Many an actor draws habitually a portion of his audience, not in consequence of artistic merit, not from capacity to arouse or excite emotion, but simply because there is something in his personality which they like. This spirit forcibly reminds me of the story told of the manager of one of the old “Circuits,” who gave as a reason for the continued engagement of an impossibly bad actor, that “he was kind to his mother.” The thorough enjoyment of the audience is another point to be noticed. Not only are they quick to understand and appreciate, but there seems to be a genuine pleasure in the expression of approval. American audiences are not surpassed in quickness and completeness of comprehension by any that I have yet seen, and no actor need fear to make his strongest or his most subtle effort, for such is sure to receive instant and full acknowledgment at their hands.

There is little more than this to be said of the American audience. But short though the record is, the impression upon the player himself is profound and abiding. To describe what one sees and hears over the footlights is infinitely easier than to convey an idea of the mental disposition and feeling of the spectators. The house is ample and comfortable, and the audience is well-disposed to be pleased. Ladies and gentlemen alike are mostly in morning dress, distinguished in appearance, and guided in every respect by a refined decorum. The sight is generally picturesque. Even in winter flowers abound, and the majority of ladies have bouquets either carried in the hand or fastened on the shoulder or corsage. At matinée performances especially, where the larger proportion of the audience is composed of ladies, the effect is not less pleasing to the olfactory senses than to the eye. Courteous, patient, enthusiastic, the American audience is worthy of any effort which the actor94 can make on its behalf, and he who has had experience of them would be an untrustworthy chronicler if he failed, or even hesitated, to bear witness to their intelligence, their taste and their generosity.—Fortnightly Review.



Among all the signal inventions, discoveries, and improvements of the age, social and material, scientific and mechanical, few, perhaps, are fraught with graver possibilities for good and evil than the great achievement of recent medicine—the development, if it should not more properly be called the discovery, of anæsthetics. Steam has revolutionized mechanics; the locomotive, the steam-hammer, and the power-loom, the creation of the railway and the factory system, have essentially modified social as well as material civilization; and it is possible at least that electric lights and motors, telegraphs and telephones, may produce yet greater consequences. This last century has been signalized by greater mechanical achievements than the whole historic period since the discovery of iron. But in obvious, immediate influence on human happiness, it is quite conceivable that the discovery of chloroform, ether, and other anæsthetics—the diffusion of chloral, opium, and other narcotics, putting them within the reach of every individual, at the command of men and women, almost of children, independently of medical advice or sanction—may be, for a time at least, more important than those inventions which have changed the fundamental conditions of industry, or those which may yet change them once more. It is difficult for the rising generation to realize that state of medicine, and especially of surgery, which old men can well remember; when every operation, from the extraction of a bad tooth to the removal of a limb, must be performed upon patients in full possession of their senses. In those days the horror with which men and women, uninfluenced by scientific enthusiasm, now regard the alleged tortures of vivisection was hardly possible. Thousands of human beings had yearly to undergo—every man, woman,96 and child might have to undergo—agonies quite as terrible as any that the most ardent advocate of the rights of animals, the most vivid imagination excited by fear for dearly loved dumb companions, ascribes to the vivisector’s knife. It may well be doubted whether the highest brutes are capable of suffering any pain comparable with that of hardy soldiers or seamen—much less with that of sensitive, nervous men, and delicate women—when the surgeon’s blade cut through living, often inflamed tissues, generally rendered infinitely more sensitive by previous disease or injury, while the brain was fully, intensely conscious; every nerve quivering with even exaggerated sensibility. The brutes, at any rate, are spared the long agony of anticipation, and at least half the tortures of memory. They may fear for a few minutes; our fathers and mothers lay in terror for hours and days, nay, persons of vivid imagination must have suffered acutely through half a lifetime, in the expectation that, soon or late, their only choice might lie between excruciating temporary torture and a death of lingering hopeless anguish. No gift of God, perhaps, has been so precious, no effort of human intellect has done more to lessen human suffering and fear, to take from life much of its darkest evil and horror, than anæsthesia as developed during the last fifty years. True that in the case of severe operations it is as yet beyond the power of medicine to give complete relief. If spared the torture of the operation, the patient has yet to endure the cruel smart that the knife leaves behind. But the relief of previous terror, of the awful, unspeakable, and, to those who never felt it, almost inconceivable agony endured while the flesh was carved, and the bone sawn, have disappeared from the sick room and the hospital.


Narcotics should be carefully distinguished from anæsthetics. Their use is different, not in degree only, but in character and purpose. Their legitimate object is two-fold: primarily, in a limited number of cases, to relieve or mitigate pain temporarily or permanently incurable; but secondarily and principally to cure what to a large and constantly increasing class in every civilized country is among the severest trials attendant on sickness, over-work, or nervous excitement—that loss of sleep which is a terrible affliction in itself, and aggravates, much more than inexperience would suppose, every form of suffering with which it is connected. Nature mercifully intended that prolonged intolerable pain should of itself bring the relief of sleep or swooning; and primitive races like the Red Indian, living in the open air, with dull imagination and insensible nerves, still find such relief. The victims of Mohawk and Huron tortures have been known, during a brief intermission of agony, to sleep at the stake till fire was used to awaken them. But among the many drawbacks of civilized life must be counted the tendency of artificial conditions to defeat some of Nature’s most merciful provisions. The nerves of civilized men are too sensitive, the brains developed by hereditary culture and constant exercise are too restless, to obtain from sleep that relief in pain, especially prolonged pain, that nature apparently intended. Many of us, even in sleep, are keenly sensitive to suffering, at least to chronic as distinguished from acute pain, to dull protracted pangs like those of rheumatism, ear-ache, or tooth-ache. A little sharper pain, and sleep becomes impossible. The sufferer is not only deprived of the respite that slumber should afford, but insomnia itself enhances his sensibility, besides adding a new and terrible torment of its own. Artificial prevention of sleep was notoriously among the most cruel and the most certainly mortal of mediæval or barbaric tortures. The sensations of one who has not slept for several nights, beginning with a restless, unnatural, constantly increasing consciousness of the brain, its existence and its action, passing by degrees into an acute, unendurably distressing irritation of that organ—generally uncon98scious or insensible, probably because its habitual sensibility would be intolerable—are indescribable, unimaginable by those who have not felt them; and seem to be proportionate to the activity of the intellect, the susceptibility of nerve and vitality of temperament—the capacity for pain and pleasure. In a word, the finer the physical and nervous character, the more terrible the torment of sleeplessness. A little more and the patient is confronted with one of the most frightful forms of pain and terror, the consciousness of incipient insanity. But long before reaching this stage, sleeplessness exaggerates pain and weakens the power of endurance, quickens the sensibility of the nerves, enfeebles the will, exacerbates the temper, produces a physical and nervous irritability which to an observer unacquainted with the cause seems irrational, unaccountable, extravagant, even frantic, but which afflicts the patient incomparably more than those, however near and however sensitive, on whom it is vented. Drugs, then, which enable the physician in most cases to check insomnia at an early stage—to secure, for example, in a case of chronic pain, six or seven hours of complete repose out of the twenty-four, to arrest a mischief which leads by the shortest and most painful route directly to insanity—are simply invaluable.

It may seem a paradox, it is a truism, to say that in their value lies their peril. Because they have such power for good, because the suffering they relieve is in its lighter forms so common, because neuralgia and sleeplessness are ailments as familiar to the present generation as gout, rheumatism, catarrh to our grandfathers, therefore the medicines which immediately relieve sleeplessness and neuralgic pain are among the most dangerous possessions, the most subtle temptations, of civilized and especially of intellectual life. Every one of these drugs has, besides its immediate and beneficial effect, other and injurious tendencies. The relief which it gives is purchased at a certain price; and in every instance the relief is lessened or rendered uncertain, the mischievous influence is enhanced and aggravated by repetition; till, when the use has become habitual, it has become pure abuse, when the99 drug has become a necessity of life it has lost the greater part if not the whole of its value, and serves only to satisfy the need which itself alone has created. Contrary to popular tradition, we believe that of popular narcotics opium is on the whole, if the most seductive, the least injurious; chloral, which at first passed for being almost harmless, is probably the most noxious of all, having both chemical and vital effects which approach if they do not amount to blood-poisoning. It is said (we do not affirm with what truth) that the subsequent administration of half a teaspoonful of a common alkali operates as an antidote to some of these specific effects. The bromide of potash, another favorite, especially with women, is less, perhaps, a narcotic proper than a sedative. It is said not to produce sleep directly, like chloral or opium, by stupefaction, but at least in small doses simply to allay the nervous irritability which is often the sole cause of sleeplessness. But in larger quantities and in its ultimate effects it is scarcely less to be dreaded than chloral. It has been recommended as a potent, indeed a specific and the only specific, remedy for sea-sickness. But the state to which, as its advocate allows, the patient must be reduced, a state of complete nervous subjection to the power of the drug, seems worse than the disease, save in its most cruel and dangerous forms. Such points, however, may be left to the chemist, the physician, or the physiologist; our purpose is rather to indicate briefly the social aspects of the subject, the social causes, conditions, and consequences of that narcotism which is, if not yet a prevalent, certainly a rapidly-spreading habit.

The desire or craving for stimulants in the most general sense of the word—for drugs acting upon the nerves whether as excitant or sedative agents—is an almost if not absolutely universal human appetite; so general, so early developed, that we might almost call it an instinct. Alcohol, of course, is the most popular, under ordinary circumstances the most seductive, and by far the most widely diffused of all stimulant substances. From the Euphrates to the Straits of Dover, the vine has been from the earliest ages second only100 to corn in popular estimation; wine, next to bread, the most prized and most universal article of human food. The connection between Ceres and Bacchus is found in almost every language as in the social life of every nation, from the warlike Assyrian monarchy, the stable hierocratic despotism of Egypt, to the modern French Republic and German Empire. Corn itself has furnished stimulant second in popularity to wine alone; the spirit which delighted the fiercer, sterner races of Northern Europe—Swede, Norwegian, and Dane, St. Olaf, and Harold Hardrada, as their descendants of to-day; and the ale of our own Saxon and Scandinavian ancestry, which neither spirit, cider, nor Spanish wine has superseded among ourselves. The vine, again, seems to have been native to America; but the civilized or semi-civilized races of the southern and central part of the Western Continent had other more popular and more peculiar stimulants, also for the most part alcoholic. The palm, again, has furnished to African and Asiatic tribes a spirit not less potent or less noxious, not less popular and probably not less primitive, than whiskey or beer. But where alcohol has been unknown, among races to whose habits and temperament it was alien, or in climates where so powerful an excitant produced effects too palpably alarming to be tolerated by rulers or law-givers royal or priestly, other and milder stimulants or sedatives are found in equally universal use. Till the white man introduced among them his own destructive beverages, till the “fire-water” spread demoralization and disease, tobacco was the favorite indulgence of the Red Indian of North America, and very probably of that mighty race which preceded them and seems to have disappeared before they came upon the scene—the Mound-builders, whose gigantic works bear testimony to the existence of an agriculture scarcely less advanced or less prolific, a despotism probably not less absolute than that of Egypt. Coffee has for ages been almost equally dear to the Arabs; tea has been to China all that wine is and was to Europe, probably from a still earlier period, and has taken hold on the Northern, as coffee and tobacco upon the Southern,101 branches of the Tartar race. Opium, or drugs resembling opium in character, have been found as well suited to the temper, as delightful to the taste, of the quieter and more passive Oriental races as wine to the Aryan and Semitic nations. The Malays, the Vikings of the East Indies, found in bhang a drug the most exciting and maddening in its effects of any known to civilized or uncivilized man; a substitute for opium or haschisch bearing much the same relation to those sedatives as brandy or whiskey to the light wines of Southern Europe.

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

It seems, however, that the natural craving, especially among women, or102 men not subject to the fiercer excitements of war, hunting, and open air life in general, is not for the stronger but for the milder stimulants. Ale was the favorite beverage of England, light wine of Southern Europe, till the Saracen invasion, the crusades, and finally the extension of commerce, familiarised the Western Aryans with the non-intoxicant stimulants of the East, and the discovery of America introduced tobacco. But the use of tea and coffee is not less, we might say, is more distinctly artificial than that of beer or wine. The taste for tobacco, as its confinement in so many countries and to so great an extent to one sex proves, is the most artificial of all.

It is plain, both from the climates and the character of the races among whom the sedative drugs or slightly-stimulant beverages have first and most widely taken root, that the preference for sedatives or gentle excitants is not accidental, but to a large extent dependent upon the temperament and habits of races or nations. Alcohol suits the higher, more energetic, active, militant races; and the fiercer and more militant the temper or habits, the stronger the intoxicant employed. It is not improbable that the first and strongest incitement to the use of alcohol, as of bhang, was the desire for that which a very unfair and ungenerous national taunt describes as Dutch courage. No race, probably, except their nearest kinsmen of England, was ever less dependent on the artificial boldness produced by stimulants than the stubborn soldiers and seamen of Holland. The beer-loving Teutons have never been, like the wine-drinkers of France, Italy, and Spain, a military, or even, like the Scandinavians, a thoroughly martial race. They will fight: none, Scandinavians, Soudanese, and Turks perhaps excepted, fight better or more stubbornly. It may well be that the adventurous, enterprising spirit of Englishmen and Scotchmen, displayed at sea rather than on land, and in semi-pacific quite as much as in warlike enterprise, is derived in large measure from the strong Scandinavian element in our national blood. The tea-drinking Chinamen, the Oriental lovers of haschisch and opium, have mostly been103 industrious rather than energetic, agricultural or pastoral rather than predatory. The coffee-drinking Arabs were not, till the days of Mahomet, a specially warlike race. Bandits or guerillas they were perforce; like every people which inhabits a country whose mountains or deserts afford a safe refuge to robbers but promise no reward to peaceful industry. No race, no class living in the open air, save in the warmer climates, no people given to energetic muscular labor or devoted to war, would be prompt to abandon alcohol in any of its forms for its milder Oriental equivalents. Tea and coffee were introduced at a time when manufactures and in-door-life were gaining ground in Western Europe and found favor first, as is still the case, with the indoor-living sex. It is still among indoor workers that they are most in vogue. But if, as seems likely, alcohol was first adopted by the warriors of savage or semi-savage races as an inspiring or hardening force, it early lost this character with the introduction of strict military discipline on the one hand or of chivalry on the other. Neither the trained soldier of the phalanx and the legion, nor the knight with whom reckless but also intelligent courage was a point of honor, could find any help in intoxication, partial or total; nay, he soon found that while the first excitement of alcohol was fatal to discipline, its subsequent effects were almost as injurious to the persevering, steadfast kind of courage in which he put his pride. Wine or brandy, then, came to be the indulgence of peace and triumph, not of war; wassail followed on victory, sobriety was necessary till the victory was won. But still it has always been on the sterner, fiercer, more energetic races that alcohol, and especially the stronger forms of alcohol, retained their hold. It is to the passive, quiet, reflective temperaments—national or individual, peculiar to classes or to crafts—that tea or coffee, opium or haschisch, substances that calm rather than excite the nerves, have always proved strongly and often dangerously attractive.

Now it may be urged with plausibility, and perhaps with truth, that civilization and intellectual culture, the exchange of out-door for in-door life, the influences104 that have rendered intelligence and dexterity of more practical value than corporeal strength, tend in some sense and in some measure to Orientalize the most advanced European races. We are not, perhaps, less daring or less enterprising than our fathers; but there is a large and ever increasing class to which strenuous physical exertion is neither habitual nor agreeable. We are unquestionably becoming sedentary; we work much more with our brains, much less with our muscles, than heretofore. With this change has come a decided change of feeling and tastes. We shrink from the fierce excitement, the violent moral stimulants that delighted ruder and less sensitive races and generations. The gladiatorial shows of Rome, the savage sports and public punishments of the Middle Ages, would be simply revolting to the great majority of almost every European nation of to-day; not primarily because as thoughtful Christians we deem them wicked, but because, instinctively, as sensitive men and women in whom imagination and sympathy are strong, we shudder at them as brutal. Prize-fights, bear-baiting, bull-fights have become too rough, too coarse, but above all too exciting; the hideous tragedies of old have ceased to suit the taste at least of our cultivated classes. In one word, our nerves are far too sensitive to crave for strong and violent excitement, moral or physical; it is painful rather than pleasurable. The sobriety of the educated classes is due much less to moral than to social causes. It is not that strong wines and spirits are so much more injurious to us than to our grandsires, nor that we have learned in fifty years to think intoxication sinful; rather we have come to despise it, and to dislike its means, because we have ceased to feel or understand the craving for such violent stimulation, because not merely the reaction but the excitement itself gives more pain than pleasure.

In the case of our American kinsmen climate has very much to do with the matter. A dry, keen, exhilarating air as well as an intense nervous sensibility renders powerful alcoholic stimulants unnecessary, over-exciting, unpleasant as well as injurious. Partly from temperament, a temperament which in itself must be105 largely the result of climate, partly from the direct influence of their drier, keener atmosphere, American women feel no need of alcohol; American men who do indulge in it, rather as a relief from brain excitement than as an excitant itself, suffer far more than we do from the indulgence. The number of drunkards or hard-drinkers in the older States is, we believe, very much smaller than in England, even at the present day. But the proportion of lunatics made by drink seems to be much larger. In America alone teetotalism has been the serious object of social and legislative coercion. The Maine Liquor Law failed; but it is enforced in garrisons and colleges, while in many States social feeling and sectarian discipline forbid wine and spirits to women and clergymen, and habitual indulgence therein, however moderate, is hardly compatible with a high reputation for religious principle or strict morality. But this case, like that of the early Mahometans, is the case of a people whose climate is unsuited to alcohol; whose very atmosphere is a stimulant.

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

It seems, then, not unnatural or improbable that, as tea and coffee have so largely taken the place of beer or light wine as beverages, so narcotics should take the place of stronger alcoholic stimulants. That this has been the case in certain quarters is well known to physicians, and to most of those who have that experience of life in virtue of which it is said, “every man of forty must be a physician or a fool.” Nay, it is difficult to read the newspapers and remain ignorant or doubtful of the fact. We read weekly of men and women poisoned by an over-dose of some favorite sedative, burnt to death, or otherwise fatally injured while insensible from self-administered ether or chloroform.106 For one fatal case that finds its way into the newspapers there are, of course, twenty fatal in a different sense—fatal, not to life, but to life’s use and happiness—that are never known beyond the family circle, into which they have introduced unspeakable and often almost unlimited sorrow and evil; unlimited, for no one can be sure, few can reasonably hope, that the mischief will be confined to the individual victim of a dangerous craving. That the children of drunkards are often pre-disposed to insanity is notorious; that the children of habitual opium-eaters or narcotists inherit an unmistakable taint, whether in a diseased brain, in diseased cravings, or simply in a will too weak to resist temptation of any kind, is less notorious but equally certain. Of these secondary victims of chloral or opium there are not as yet many; but many fathers and mothers—fathers, perhaps, who for the sake of wives and children have overtaxed their brains till nothing but either the rest which circumstances and family claims forbid, or drugs, will give them the sleep necessary to the continuance of their work; mothers, too commonly, who begin by neglecting their children in the pursuit of pleasure, to end by poisoning their unborn offspring in the struggle to escape the consequences of that pursuit—are preparing untold misery and mischief for a future generation. Happily, narcotism is not the temptation of the young or energetic. It is later in life, when the effect of years of brain excitement of whatever nature begins to tell, and generally after the period in which the greater number of children are born, that men and women give way to this peculiar temptation of the present age.

The immediate danger to themselves is sufficiently alarming, if only it were ever realized in time. The narcotist keeps chloroform or chloral always at hand, forgetful or ignorant that one sure effect of the first dose is to produce a semi-stupor more dangerous than actual somnolence. In that semi-stupor the patient is aware, or fancies that the dose has failed. The pain that has induced a lady to hold a chloroformed handkerchief under her nostrils returns while her will and her judgment are half paralysed. She takes the bottle from the table be107side her bed, intending to pour an additional supply on the handkerchief. The unsteady hand perhaps spills a quantity on the sheet, perhaps sinks with the unstoppered bottle under her nostrils; and in a few moments she has inhaled enough utterly to stupefy if not to kill. The vapor, moreover, is inflammable; perhaps it catches the candle by her side; and she is burnt to death while powerless to move. The sleepless brain-worker also feels that his usual dose of chloral has failed to bring sleep; he is not aware how completely it has stupefied the brain, to which it has not given rest. His judgment is gone, so is his steadiness of hand; and, whether intentionally or not, at any rate unconsciously, so far as reasoning and judgment are concerned, he pours out a second and too often a fatal dose. Any one who knows how great is the stupefying power of these drugs, how often they produce a sort of moral coma without paralysing the lower functions of animal or even of mental life, would, one might suppose, at least take care to be in bed before the drug takes effect, and if possible to put it out of reach till next morning. But experience shows how seldom even this obvious and essential precaution is taken.

The cases that end in a death terrible to the family, but probably involving little or no suffering to the victim himself, are by no means the worst. A life poisoned, paralysed, rendered worthless for all the uses of intellectual, rational, we might almost say of human existence, is worse for the sufferer himself and for all around him than a quick and painless death; and for one such death there must be twenty if not a hundred instances of this worst death in life. In nine cases out of ten, probably, the narcotist has been entangled almost insensibly, but incurably, without intention and almost without consciousness of danger. With alcohol this could hardly be the case. No woman, at any rate, could reach the point at which secret indulgence in wine or spirits became a habit and a necessity without warnings, evidences of excess palpable to herself if not to others, that should have terrified and shamed her into self-control, while self-control was yet possible. The hold that opium and other narcotics ac108quire is at once swifter, more gradual, less revolting and incomparably stronger than that of alcohol. The first indulgence is in some sense legitimate; is almost enforced, either by acute pain or by chronic insomnia. The latter is perhaps the more dangerous. The pain, if it last for weeks, forces recourse to the doctor before the habit has become incurable. Sleeplessness is a more persistent, and to most people a much less alarming thing; and it is moreover one with which the doctors can seldom deal save through the very agents of mischief. Neuralgia, relieved for a time by chloroform or morphia, may be cured by quinine; sleeplessness admits of hardly any cure but such complete change of life as is rarely possible, at least to its working victims. And the narcotist habit once formed, neither pain nor sleeplessness is all that its renunciation would involve. The drunkard, it must be remembered, gets drunk, as a rule, but occasionally. Save in the last stages of dipsomania, he can do, if not without drink, yet without intoxicating quantities of drink, for days together. The narcotist who attempts to go for a whole day without his accustomed dose, suffers in twenty-four hours far more cruelly than the drunkard deprived of alcohol in as many days. The effect upon the stomach and other organs, upon the nerves as well as on the brain, is one of indescribable, unspeakable discomfort amounting to torture; a disorder of the digestive system more trying than sea-sickness, a disorganization of the nerves which after some hours of unspeakable misery culminates in convulsive twitchings, in mental and physical distress, simply indescribable to those who have not felt it. Where attempts have been made forcibly and suddenly to withhold the accustomed sedative, they have not unfrequently ended within a few days in madness or death. In other cases the victim has sought and obtained relief by efforts and through hardships which, in his or her best days, would have seemed impossible or unendurable. One woman thus restrained escaped in a déshabille from her bed-room on a winter night of Arctic severity; ran for miles through the snow, and was fortunate enough to find a chemist who knew something of109 the fearful effect of such privation, and had the sense and courage to give in adequate quantity the poison that had now become the first necessary of life. In a word, narcotics, one and all, are, to those who have once fallen under their power, tyrants whose hold can hardly ever be shaken off, which punish rebellion with the rack, and with all those devices of torture which mediæval and ecclesiastical cruelty found even more terrible than the rack itself; while the most absolute submission is rewarded with sufferings only less unendurable than the punishment of revolt. De Quincey’s dreams under the influence of opium were to the tortures of resistance what the highest circle of purgatory may be to the lowest pit of the Inferno. But any reader who knows what nightmare is would think such tortures of the imagination, so vividly realized by a consciousness apparently intensified rather than impaired by slumber, a sufficient penalty for almost any human sin.

Chloral, bromide of potash, chloroform, henbane, and their various combinations and substitutes are, however, by their very natures medicines and no more. They are taken in the first instance as such; at worst as medicinal equivalents for a quantity of alcohol which women are afraid to take or unable to obtain, much more commonly as medicines originally useful, mischievous only because the system has been accustomed to depend on and cannot dispense with them. Their effects at best are negatively, not actively, pleasurable. They relieve pain or insomnia, or the craving which they themselves have created; but their victims would, if they could, gladly be released from their tyranny. Their character, moreover, is if not immediately yet very rapidly perceptible. Very few can have used them for six months without becoming more or less alarmed by the consequences. The minority, for whom they are mere substitutes for alcohol, resort to them only when the system has already been poisoned, the habits incurably vitiated. With opium the case is different. In those which may be called its native countries, it is not a medicine but a stimulant or sedative, used for the most part in much greater moderation but in the same manner as wine or spirits110 among ourselves; as an indulgence pleasurable and innocent, if not actually desirable in itself. It suits the climates and temperaments to which the heating, exciting influence of alcohol is wholly unsuitable. It is, moreover, incompatible with the free use of the latter, a thing which may be said in some sense of most narcotics. Taken up by persons not yet addicted to intemperance, chloral and similar drugs operate to discourage the use, or at least the free use, of wine or spirits by intensifying their effect to a serious and generally an unpleasant degree. But it does not appear that they act, like opium, to indispose the system for alcohol. To the opium-eater, as a rule, the exciting stimulus of alcohol, counteracting the quiet, dreamy influence of his favorite drug, is decidedly obnoxious; the action of chloral much more resembles that of the more stupefying and powerful spirits. A drunkard desirous to abandon his favorite vice, and reckless or incredulous of the possibility that the remedy may be worse than the disease, would probably find in opium the most powerful and effectual assistance and support to which he could have recourse. It has moreover a strong tendency to diminish the appetite for food, so much so that both in the East and in Europe severe privation tends to encourage and diffuse its use.

Its peculiar danger, however, lies in the nature of the pleasure, and the remoteness of the pain and mischief which attend its use. Its effect on different constitutions and at different periods of life is exceedingly different. As De Quincey remarks, it is not essentially and primarily narcotic. It does not necessarily, immediately, or always produce sleep. Some fortunate temperaments reject it in all forms whatever. With these it produces immediate or speedy nausea, and consequent repugnance. But its most universal effect is the diffusion of comfort, quiet, calm, conscious repose, a general sensation of physical and mental ease throughout the system; not followed necessarily or generally by acute reaction, or even by depression. De Quincey’s earlier experience accords with that of most of those to whom opium is in some sense suited, to whom alone it is likely to become a111 dangerous temptation. Used once in a fortnight, or even once a week, it gives several hours of placid enjoyment, and if taken with some mild aperient and followed next morning by a cup of strong coffee, it generally gives a quiet night’s rest, entailing no further penalty than a certain not unpleasant lassitude on the morrow. A working-man, for instance, might take it every Saturday night for twenty years without other effect than a decided aversion to the public-house on Sunday, if he could but resist the temptation to take it oftener. Again, till it loses its power by constant use it is in many cases the surest and pleasantest of all anæsthetics; it relieves all neuralgic pains, tooth-ache and ear-ache for example, and puts, especially in combination with brandy, a quick and sure if by no means a wholesome check on the milder forms of diarrhœa.

In this connection one danger peculiar to itself deserves especial notice. Other narcotics are seldom given or sold save under their own names; and if administered in combination, in quack medicine or unexplained prescriptions, their effect betrays itself. Opium forms the basis of innumerable remedies and very effective remedies, sold under titles altogether reassuring and misleading. Nearly all soothing-syrups and powders for example—“mother’s blessings” and infant’s curses—are really opiates. These are known or suspected by most well-informed people. What is less generally known is that nine in ten of the popular remedies for catarrh, bronchitis, cough, cold and asthma are also opiates. So powerful indeed is the effect of opium upon the lining membrane of the lungs and air passages, so difficult is it to find an effective substitute, that the efficacy, at least the certain and rapid efficacy, of any specific remedy for cold whose exact nature is not known affords strong ground for suspecting the presence of opium. Many chemists are culpably, almost criminally, reckless; and not a few culpably ignorant in this matter. An experienced man bought from a fashionable West-end shop a box of cough lozenges, pleasant to the taste and relieving a severe cough with wonderful rapidity. Familiar with the influence of opium on the stomach and spirits, he was sure before he had suck112ed half-a-dozen of the lozenges that he had taken a dose powerful enough to affect his accustomed system, and strong enough to poison a child, and do serious harm to a sensitive adult. Yet the lozenges were sold without warning or indication of their character; few people would have taken any special precaution to keep them out of the way of children, and the box, falling into the hands of a heedless or disobedient child, might have poisoned a whole nursery.

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

After the use of a fortnight or a month—especially when used legitimately to relieve pain and not to procure pleasure—the entire abandonment of opium may be easily accomplished in the course of two or three days. The pain or the disease it is used to overcome carries off, so to speak, or diverts113 in great measure the injurious influence of the drug; as a person suffering from diarrhœa, snakebite, or other cause of intense lowering of physical and nervous power, may take with impunity a dose of brandy which in health would certainly intoxicate him. But after six months’ or a year’s daily use or abuse, only the strongest and sternest resolution can overcome or shake off the tyranny of opium, and then only at a price of suffering and misery, of physical and mental torture such as only those who have known it can conceive.

It would be as foolish to depreciate the value as to underrate the danger of this, the most powerful and in many respects the safest of anæsthetics. Nothing else can do what opium can to relieve chronic, persistent, incurable nervous pain, to give sleep when sleeplessness is produced by suffering. The more potent anæsthetics, like chloroform, are applicable only to brief intense tortures, whose period can be foreseen or determined—to produce insensibility during an operation, or to mitigate the pangs of child-birth. Opium can relieve incurable chronic pain that would otherwise render life intolerable, and perhaps drive the sufferer to suicide; and this, if moderation be observed, and the necessary correctives employed, without impairing, as other narcotics would, the intellectual faculties. It is, moreover, as aforesaid, the quickest and surest cure for bronchial affections of every kind, and might not impossibly, as De Quincey thought, if used in time and with sufficient decision, prolong a life otherwise doomed, if it could not actually cure phthisis or consumption after the formation of tubercle has once begun. But its legitimate use is limited to three cases. It can relieve temporary neuralgic pain when cure would be slow, or while awaiting a curative operation. One peculiarity of neuralgic pain is its tendency to perpetuate itself. The nerves continue to thrill and throb because worn out by pain. Give them, through whatever agency, a brief period of rest, and it may well happen that, the temporary cause removed, the pain will not return. Secondly, opium is the one anæsthetic agency available to mitigate incurable and intolerable suffering. Not only can it render endurable a life that114 must otherwise be one continuous torture, till torture hastens death; but it may in many cases render that life serviceable as well as endurable. De Quincey gives the instance of a surgeon, suffering under incurable disease of an intolerably painful kind, who owed the power of steady professional work for more than twenty years to the constant use of opium in enormous quantities. Finally, when a working life draws near its natural close, when old age is harassed by the nervous consequences of protracted over-work or over-strain such as is often almost inseparable from the anxieties of business—the severe taxation of the mental powers by professional or literary labor—opium, given habitually in small quantities and under careful medical direction, often does what wine effects with less certainty and safety; gives rest and repose, calms an irritability of nerve and temper more trying to the patient himself than to those around him, and renders the last decade of a useful and honorable life much more comfortable, and no wit less useful or honorable, than it might otherwise have been.

But except as a relief in incurable disease, or in that most incurable of all diseases, old age, the continual or prolonged use of opium is always dangerous and nearly always fatal. It impairs the will; not infrequently it exercises a directly, visibly, unmistakably deteriorating influence upon the moral nature. There is nothing strange in this to those who know how an accidental injury to the skull may impair or pervert the moral no less than the intellectual powers. That moral is hardly a less common or less distinctive disease than mental insanity, that the conscience as well as the intellect of the drunkard is distorted and weakened, no physiologist doubts. Opium has a similar power, but exerts it with characteristic slowness of action. The demoralization of the narcotist is not, like that of the drunkard, rapid, violent, and palpable; but gradual, insidious, perceptible only to close observers or near and intimate friends. In nine cases out of ten, moreover, opium ultimately and certainly poisons the whole vital system. The patient loses physical and mental energy, courage, and enterprise; shrinks115 from exertion of every kind, dreads the labor of a walk, the trouble of writing a letter, dreads still more intensely any effort that calls for moral courage, flinches from a scene, a quarrel, a social or domestic conflict, becomes at last selfish, shameless, weak, useless, miserable to the last degree.

But this, like every other effect of opium, is in some measure uncertain; and hence arises one of its subtlest dangers. De Quincey would seem to have been less susceptible than most men to the worst influences of his favorite drug, seeing what work, excellent in quality as well as considerable in quantity he achieved after he had become a confirmed opium-eater. It took, no doubt, a tenfold greater amount of opium to reduce him to intellectual impotence than would suffice to destroy the minds of nine brain-workers in ten. But his own story clearly reveals how completely the enormous doses to which he had recourse at last overpowered a mind exceptionally energetic, and a temperament exceptionally capable of assimilating, perhaps, rather than resisting the power of opium. Here and there we find a constitution upon which it exerts few or none of its characteristic effects. As a few cannot take it at all, so a few can take it with apparent impunity. With them it will relieve pain and will not paralyse the nerves, will quell excitement without affecting mental energy; nay, while leaving physical activity little more impaired than age and temperament alone might have impaired it. Here and there we may find a confirmed opium-eater capable of taking and enjoying active exercise—a fairly fearless rider, a lover of nature tempted by taste, or it may be by restlessness, to walks beyond his muscular strength; with vivid imagination well under his own control; in whom even the will seems but little weakened, whose dread of pain and flinching from danger are not more marked after twenty years spent under the influence of opium than when they first drove him to its use. Such cases are, of course, wholly exceptional; but their very existence is a danger to others, misleads them into the idea that they may dally with the tempter, may profit by its pleasure-giving and pain-quelling powers without116 falling under its yoke, or may fall under that yoke and find it a light one. I doubt, however, whether the most fortunate of its victims would encourage the latter idea; whether there be any opium-eater who would not give a limb never to have known what opium can do to spare suffering, to give strength for protracted exertion, if he had never known what slavery to its influence means.

Dread of pain, dislike of excitement and worry, impatience of suffering and discomfort, of irritation, and sleeplessness, are all strong and increasingly-marked characteristics of our highly artificial life and perhaps almost overstrained civilization. Nature knows no influence that can relieve worry, mitigate pain, charm away restlessness, discomfort, and even sleeplessness, as opium can. Alcohol is at once too stupefying and too exciting for the tastes and temperaments that belong to cultivated natures and highly-developed brains. Beer suits the sluggish laborer, or the energetic navvy when his work is done, and his system, like that of a Scandinavian Viking or Scythian warrior in his hours of repose, craves first exhilaration and then stupid, thoughtless contentment. Wine suits less active and more passionate races, to whom excitement is an unmixed pleasure; brandy those who crave for stronger excitement to stimulate less susceptible nerves. But the physical stimulants of our fathers and grandfathers, as the moral excitements of remoter times, are far too violent for our generation. Champagne has succeeded port and sherry as the favorite wine of those who can afford it, being the lightest of all; and time was, not so long ago, when medical men were accused of recommending champagne with somewhat careless facility to those whose nerves, worn out by unhealthy pursuit of pleasure, by unnatural hours and unwholesome excitement, might have been effectually though more gradually restored by a change which to most of them at least was possible; by life in the country rather than in London, by the fresh air of the early morning instead of that of midnight in over-heated gas-lighted rooms and a poisoned atmosphere. There is a danger lest, as even champagne has proved too much of a117 stimulant and too little of a sedative, narcotics should take its place. The doctors will hardly recommend opium, but their patients, obliged for one reason or another to forego wine, might be driven upon it.

As aforesaid, the craving for stimulation or tranquillization of the brain—in one word, for that whole class of nerve-agents to which tea, opium, and brandy alike belong—is so universal, has so prevailed in all ages, races and climates, that it must be considered, if not originally natural, yet as by this time an ingrained, all but ineradicable, human appetite. To baffle such an appetite by any coercive means, by domestic, social or legislative penalties, has ever proved impossible. Deprive it of its gratification in one form, and it is impelled or forced to find a substitute; and finds it, as all strong human cravings have ever found some kind of satisfaction. And here lies one of the worst, most certain and yet least considered dangers of the legislation eagerly demanded by a constantly increasing party. Maine liquor laws, prohibition, local option, every measure that threatens to deprive of their favorite stimulant those who are not willing or have not the resolve to abandon it, would probably fail in their primary object. If they succeeded in that, they would, in a majority of instances, force the drinker, not to be content with water or even with tea, but to find a subtler substitute of lesser bulk, more easily obtained and concealed. Opium is the most obvious, and, among sedatives powerful enough to be substituted for wine or spirits, the least mischievous resource. And opium, once adopted as a substitute for alcohol, would take hold with far greater tenacity, and its use would spread with terrible rapidity, because its evil influence is so subtle, so slowly perceptible; and because, if used in moderation and with fitting precautions, its worst effects may not be felt for many years; because women could use it without detection, and men without alarm or discredit. This peril is one of which wiser men than Sir Wilfrid Lawson will not make light, but which too many comparatively rational advocates of total abstinence seem to have totally overlooked. Without underrating the frightful evils of in118toxication, its baneful influence upon the individual, upon large classes, and upon the country as a whole, no one who knows them both can doubt that narcotism is the more dangerous and more destructive habit. The opiatist will not brawl in the street, will not beat his wife or maltreat his children; but he is rendered as a rule, even more rapidly and certainly than the drunkard, a useless member of society, a worthless citizen, an indifferent husband, helpless as the bread-winner, impotent as the master and ruler of a household. And opium, to the same temperaments and to many others, is quite as seductive as alcohol; far more poisonous, and incomparably more difficult to shake off when once its tyranny has been established. To forbid it, as some have proposed to forbid the sale or manufacture of beer, wine, and spirits, is impossible; to exclude it from the country is out of the question; its legitimate uses are too important, and no restrictions whatever can put it out of the reach of those who desire it. Silks, spirits, tobacco were smuggled as long as it paid to smuggle them; opium, an article of incomparably less bulk and incomparably greater value, would bring still larger profit to the importer; while the customer would not merely be attracted by cheapness or fashion, but impelled by the most imperious and irresistible of acquired cravings. Any man could smuggle through any barriers enough to satisfy his appetite for a year, enough to poison a whole battalion. That opium can become the favorite indulgence with numerous classes, and apparently with a whole people, the experience of more than one Eastern nation clearly shows. As the Oriental tea and coffee have to so large an extent superseded beer as the daily drink of men as well as women and children, so opium is calculated under favoring circumstances to replace wine and spirits as a stimulant. It might well do so even while the competition was open. Every penalty placed on the use of wine or brandy is a premium on that of opium.

De Quincey is not the only opium-eater who has given his experience to the world. It is evident that the practice is spreading in America, and the records published by its victims are as119 terrible as the worst descriptions of the drunkard’s misery or even as the horrors of delirium tremens. It is noteworthy, however, how little any of these seem to know of other experiences than their own—for instance, of the numerous forms and methods in which the drug can be and is administered. Opium—the solidified juice of the poppy—is the natural product from which laudanum, the spirituous tincture of opium, and all the various forms of morphia, which may be called the chemical extract, the essential principle of opium, are obtained. Morphia, again, is sold by chemists and exhibited by doctors in many forms, the principal of which are the acetate, the sulphate and the muriate of morphia—the substance itself combined with acetic, sulphuric, or hydrochloric acid. Of these last the muriate is, we believe, the safest, the acetate and in a lesser degree the sulphate having more of the pleasurable, sedative, seductive influence of opium in proportion to their pain-quelling power. They act, in some way, more powerfully upon the spirits while exerting the same anæsthetic influence, and the injurious effects of each dose are more marked and less easily counteracted. Laudanum, containing proof spirit as well as morphine, and through the proof spirit diffusing the narcotic influence more rapidly and affecting the brain more quickly and decidedly, is perhaps the worst vehicle through which the essential drug can be taken. Again, morphine, in its liquid forms can be injected under the skin; as solid opium it can be smoked or eaten, as morphia it can be swallowed or injected. Of all modes of administration—speaking, of course, of the self-administered abuse, not of the strict medical use of the drug—subcutaneous injection is the worst. It acts the most speedily and apparently the most pleasurably; it passes off the most rapidly, and tempts,120 therefore the most frequent, re-application. Apart, moreover, from the poisonous influence itself, this mode of application has injurious effects of its own; produces callosities and sores of a painful and revolting character. Smoking seems to be the most stupefying manner in which solid opium can be consumed, the one which acts most powerfully and injuriously upon the brain. But opium-smoking is hardly likely to take a strong hold on English or European taste. A piece of opium no larger than a pea, chopped up and mixed with a large bowlful of tobacco, produces on the veteran tobacco-smoker a nauseating effect powerfully recalling that of the first pipe of his boyhood; while its flavor is incomparably more disagreeable to the palate accustomed to the best havanas or the worst shag or bird’s-eye than these were to the unvitiated taste. It is probable that the Englishman who makes his first acquaintance with opium in this form will be revolted rather than tempted, unless indeed the pipe be used to relieve a pain so intolerable that the nauseousness of the remedy is disregarded. Morphia in all its forms, liquid or solid, has a thoroughly unpleasant bitterness, but neither the nauseous taste of the pipe nor the intensely disgusting flavor of laudanum, a flavor so revolting to the unaccustomed palate that only when largely diluted by water can it possibly be swallowed. On the whole, the muriate, dissolved in a quantity of water large enough to render each drop the equivalent of a drop of laudanum, is probably the safest, and should be swallowed rather than injected. But rather than swallow even this, a wise man, unless more confident in his own constancy and self-command than wise men are wont to be, had better endure any temporary pain that nature may inflict or any remedial operation that surgery can offer.—Contemporary Review.



As marriage and death are the chief events in human life, an enormous mass of popular beliefs has in all nations crystallised round them. Perhaps the sterner and more gloomy character of Kelts, Saxons, and Northmen generally122 found vent in the greater prominence they have given to omens of death, second-sight, ghosts, and the like; whereas the lighter and sunnier disposition of Southern Europe has delighted more in love-spells, methods of divining a future partner, the whole pomp and circumstance attending Venus and her doves. The writhing of the wryneck so graphically portrayed in Theocritus, or the spells of the lover in his Latin imitator, with their refrain—

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

may thus be profitably compared with the darker superstitions of St. Mark’s Eve, the Baal fires, and compacts with the evil one, which so constantly recur throughout the Northern mythologies. But there are times and festivities when the serious Northern temperament relaxes; and any one who has the least acquaintance with the wealth of folk-lore which recent years have shown the natives of Great Britain that they possess, well knows that the times of courtship and marriage are two occasions when this lighter vein of our composite nature is conspicuous. The collection of these old-world beliefs amongst our peasantry did not begin a moment too soon. Day by day the remnants of them are fast fading from the national memory. The disenchanting wand of the modern schoolmaster, the rationalistic influences of the press, the Procrustes-like system of standards in our parish schools—these act like the breath of morn or the crowing of a cock upon ghosts, and at once put charms, spells, and the like to flight. Before the nation assumes the sober hues of pure reason and unpitying logic, in lieu of the picturesque scraps of folk-lore and old-wifish beliefs in which imagination was wont to clothe it, no office can be more grateful to posterity than for enthusiastic inquirers to search out and put on record these notes of fairy music which our villagers used to listen to with such content. By way of giving a sample of their linked sweetnesses long drawn out through so many generations of country dwellers—of which the echoes still vibrate, especially in the north and west123 of the country—it is our purpose to quote something of the legendary lore connected with love and marriage. This must interest everybody. Even the most determined old bachelor probably fell once, at least, in love to enable him to discover the hollowness of the passion; and as for the other sex, they may very conveniently, if illogically, be classed here as they used to be at the Oxford Commemoration, the married, the unmarried, and those who wish to be married. Some of these spells and charms possess associations for each of these divisions, and we are consequently sure of the suffrages of the fair sex.

Folk-lore, like Venus herself, has indeed specially flung her cestus over “the palmer in love’s eye.” She has more charms to soothe his melancholy than were ever prescribed by Burton. She is not above dabbling in spells and the unholy mysteries of the black art to inform him who shall be his partner for life. When sleep at length seals his eyes, she waits at his bedside next morning to tell him the meaning of his dreams. And most certainly the weaker sex has not been forgotten by folk-lore, which, in proportion to their easier powers of belief, provides them with infinite store of solace and prediction. Milkmaids, country lasses, and secluded dwellers in whitewashed farm or thick-walled ancestral grange are her particular charge. The Juliets and Amandas of higher rank already possess enough nurses, confidantes, and bosom friends, to say nothing of the poets and novelists. Perhaps it would be well for them if they never resorted to more dangerous mentors than do their rustic sisters when they listen to old wives’ wisdom at the chimney corner. Yet an exception must be made in favor of some lovers of rank, when we recall the ludicrously simple wooing of Mr. Carteret and Lady Jemima Montagu, and how mightily they were indebted to the good offices of the more skilled Samuel Pepys, who literally taught them when they ought to take each other’s hand, “make these and these compliments,” and the like; “he being the most awkerd man I ever met with in my life as to that business,” as the garrulous diarist adds. For ourselves, we do not profess to be love casuists, and the profusion of receipts124 which the subject possesses is so remarkable that we shall be unable to preserve much order in our prescriptions. Like those little books which possess wisdom for all who look within them, we can only promise our readers a peep into a budget fresh from fairy-land, and each may select what spell he or she chooses. Autolycus himself did not open a pack stuffed with greater attractions for his customers, especially for the fair sex.

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

Perhaps your affections are still disengaged, but you wish to bestow them on one who will return like for like. In this case there are plenty of wishing-chairs, wishing-gates, and so forth, scattered through the country. A wish breathed near them, and kept secret, will sooner or later have its fulfilment. But there is no need to travel to the Lake country or to Finchale Priory, near Durham (where is a wishing-chair); if you see a piece of old iron or a horseshoe on your path, take it up, spit on it, and throw it over your left shoulder,125 framing a wish at the same time. Keep this wish a secret, and it will come to pass in due time. If you meet a piebald horse, nothing can be more lucky; utter your wish, and whatever it may be you will have it before the week be out. In Cleveland, the following method of divining whether a girl will be married or not is resorted to. Take a tumbler of water from a stream which runs southward; borrow the wedding-ring of some gudewife and suspend it by a hair of your head over the glass of water, holding the hair between the finger and thumb. If the ring hit against the side of the glass, the holder will die an old maid; if it turn quickly round, she will be married once; if slowly, twice. Should the ring strike the side of the glass more than three times after the holder has pronounced the name of her lover, there will be a lengthy courtship and nothing more; “she will be courted to dead,” as they say in Lincolnshire; if less frequently, the affair will be broken off, and if there is no striking at all it will never come on.6 Or if you look at the first new moon of the year through a silk handkerchief which has never been washed, as many moons as you see through it (the threads multiplying the vision), so many years must pass before your marriage. Would you ascertain the color of your future husband’s hair? Follow the practice of the German girls. Between the hours of eleven and twelve at night on St. Andrew’s Eve a maiden must stand at the house door, take hold of the latch, and say three times, “Gentle love, if thou lovest me, show thyself,” She must then open the door quickly, and make a rapid grasp through it into the darkness, when she will find in her hand a lock of her future husband’s hair. The “Universal Fortune-teller” prescribes a still more fearsome receipt for obtaining an actual sight of him. The girl must take a willow branch in her left hand, and, without being observed, slip out of the house and run three times round it, whispering the while, “He that is to be my goodman, come and grip the end of it.” During the third circuit the like126ness of the future husband will appear and grasp the other end of the wand. Would any one conciliate a lover’s affections? There is a charm of much simplicity, and yet of such potency that it will even reconcile man and wife. Inside a frog is a certain crooked bone, which when cleaned and dried over the fire on St. John’s Eve, and then ground fine and given in food to the lover, will at once win his love for the administerer.7 A timely hint may here be given to any one going courting: be sure when leaving home to spit in your right shoe would you speed in your wooing. If you accidentally put on your left stocking, too, inside out, nothing but good luck can ensue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green, being sacred to the fairies, is a most unlucky hue. The “little folk” will undoubtedly resent the insult should any one dress in their color. Mr. Henderson10 has known mothers in the south of England absolutely forbid it to their daughters, and avoid it in the furniture of their houses. Peter Bell’s sixth wife could not have been more inauspiciously dressed when she—

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

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

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

In all ages and all parts of our island maidens have resorted to omens drawn from flowers respecting their sweethearts. Holly, ribwort, plantain, black centaury, yarrow, and a multitude more possess a great reputation in love matters. The lover must generally sleep on some one of these and repeat a charm,128 when pleasant dreams and faithful indications of a suitor will follow. “The last summer, on the day of St. John the Baptist, 1694,” says Aubrey, “I accidentally was walking in the pasture behind Montague House; it was twelve o’clock. I saw there about two or three and twenty young women, most of them well habited, on their knees very busy, as if they had been weeding. I could not presently learn what the matter was; at last a young man told me that they were looking for a coal under the root of a plantain, to put under their head that night, and they should dream who would be their husbands. It was to be sought for that day and hour.”12

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

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

And a character in “Cupid’s Whirligig” (1616) says, “I could find in my heart to pray nine times to the moone, and fast three St. Agnes’s Eves, so that I might bee sure to have him to my husband.” Aubrey gives two receipts to the ladies for that eve, which may still be useful. Take a row of pins and pull out every one, one after another, saying a Paternoster, and sticking a pin in your sleeve, and you will dream of him you shall marry. Again,129 “you must lie in another country, and knit the left garter about the right-legged stocking (let the other garter and stocking alone), and as you rehearse these following verses, at every comma knit a knot:—

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

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

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

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

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

Brand, who helps us to this quotation, gives an amusing extract from the Connoisseur to the same effect. “Last Friday was Valentine’s Day, and the night before I got five bay leaves, and pinned four of them to the four corners of my pillow, and the fifth to the middle; and then, if I dreamt of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married before the year was out. But to make it more sure, I boiled an egg hard, and took out the yolk and filled it with salt, and when I went to bed, eat it, shell and all, without speaking or drinking after it. We also wrote our lovers’ names upon bits of paper, and rolled them up in clay, and put them into water, and the first that rose up was to be our Valentine. Would you think it? Mr. Blossom was my man. I lay abed and shut my eyes all the morning till he came to our house; for I would not have seen another man before him for all the world.” The moon, “the lady moon,” has frequently been called into council about husbands from the time when she first lost her own heart to130 Endymion, the beautiful shepherd of Mount Latmos. Go out when the first new moon of the year first appears, and standing over the spars of a gate or stile, look on the moon and repeat as follows:—

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

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

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

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

Some of the most famous divinations about marriage are practised with hazel-nuts on Allhallowe’en. In Indo-European tradition the hazel was sacred to love; and when Loki in the form of a falcon rescued Idhunn, the goddess of youthful life, from the power of the frost-giants, he carried her off in his beak in the shape of a hazel-nut.15 So in Denmark, as in ancient Rome, nuts131 are scattered at a marriage. In northern divinations on Allhallowe’en nuts are placed on the bars of a grate by pairs, which have first been named after a pair of lovers, and according to the result, their combustion, explosion, and the like, the wise divine the fortune of the lovers. Graydon has beautifully versified this superstition:—

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

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

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


In Scotland on Shrove Tuesday a national dish called “crowdie,” composed of oatmeal and water with milk, is largely consumed, and lovers can always tell their chances of being married by putting into the porringer a ring. The finder of this in his or her portion will without fail be married sooner than any one else in the company. Onions, curiously enough, figure in many superstitions connected with marriage—why, we have no idea. It might be ungallantly suggested that it is from their supposed virtue to produce tears, or from wearing many faces, as it were, under one hood. While speaking of these unsavory vegetables, we are reminded of a passage in Luther’s “Table Talk”: “Upon the eve of Christmas Day the women run about and strike a swinish hour” (whatever this may mean): “if a great hog grunts, it decides that the future husband will be an old man; if a small one, a young man,”18 The orpine is another magical plant in love incantations. It must be used on Midsummer Eve, and is useful to inform a maiden whether her lover is true or false. It must be stuck up in her room, and the desired information is obtained by watching whether it bends to the right or the left. Hemp-seed, sown on that evening, also possesses marvellous efficacy. One of the young ladies mentioned above, who sewed bay leaves on her pillow, and had the felicity of seeing Mr. Blossom in consequence, writes, “The same night, exactly at twelve o’clock, I planted hemp-seed in our back yard, and said to myself, ‘Hemp seed I sow, hemp-seed I hoe, and he that is my true love come after me and mow!’ Will you believe it? I looked back and saw him behind me, as plain as eyes could see him.” And she adds, as another wrinkle to her sex, “Our maid Betty tells me that if I go backwards, without speaking a word, into the garden upon Midsummer Eve, and gather a rose and keep it in a clean sheet of paper without looking at it till Christmas Day, it will be as fresh as in June; and if I then stick it in my bosom, he that is to be my husband will come and take it out.” Whatever be the virtue of Betty’s recipe, it would at all events teach a lover pa133tience. Mr. Henderson supplies two timely cautions from Border folk-lore. A girl can “scarcely do a worse thing than boil a dish-clout in her crock.” She will be sure, in consequence, to lose all her lovers, or, in Scotch phrase, “boil all her lads awa’;” “and in Durham it is believed that if you put milk in your tea before sugar, you lose your sweetheart,”19 We may add that unless a girl fasts on St. Catherine’s Day (Nov. 25) she will never have a good husband. Nothing can be luckier for either bachelor or girl than to be placed inadvertently at some social gathering between a man and his wife. The person so seated will be married before the year is out.

Song, play, and sonnet20 have diffused far and wide the custom of blowing off the petals of a flower, saying the while, “He loves me—loves me not.” When this important business has been settled in the affirmative a hint may be useful for the lover going courting. If he meets a hare, he must at once turn back. Nothing can well be more unlucky. Witches are found of that shape, and he will certainly be crossed in love. Experts say that after the next meal has been eaten the evil influence is expended, and the lover can again hie forth in safety. In making presents to each other the happy pair must remember on no account to give each other a knife or a pair of scissors. Such a present effectually cuts love asunder. Take care, too, not to fall in love with one the initial of whose surname is the same as yours. It is quite certain that the union of such cannot be happy. This love-secret has been reduced into rhyme for the benefit of treacherous memories:—

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

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

These directions and cautions must surely have brought our pair of happy lovers to the wedding-day. Even yet they are not safe from malign influences,134 but folk-lore does not forget their welfare. If the bride has been courted by other sweethearts than the one she has now definitely chosen, there is a fear lest the discarded suitors should entertain unkindly feelings towards her. To obviate all unpleasant consequences from this, the bride must wear a sixpence in her left shoe until she is “kirked,” say the Scotch. And on her return home, if a horse stands looking at her through a gateway, or even lingers along the road leading to her new home, it is a very bad omen for her future happiness.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

But he answered—

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

In truth, the best divination for lovers is a ready smile, and the most potent charms a maiden can possess are reticence and patience. And so to end (with quaint old Burton22), “Let them take this of Aristænetus (that so marry) for their comfort: ‘After many troubles and cares, the marriages of lovers are more sweet and pleasant.’ As we commonly conclude a comedy with a wedding and shaking of hands, let’s shut up our discourse and end all with an epithalamium. Let the Muses sing, the Graces dance, not at their weddings only, but all their dayes long; so couple their hearts that no irksomeness or anger ever befall them: let him never call her other name than my joye, my light; or she call him otherwise than sweetheart.”—Belgravia.




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

Sikinos is perhaps the most unattainable corner of Europe, being nothing but a barren harborless rock in the middle of the Ægean sea, possessing as a fleet one caique, which occasionally goes to a neighboring island where the steamer stops, to see if there are any communications from the outer world, and four rotten fishing boats, which seldom venture more than a hundred yards from the shore. The fifteen hundred inhabitants of this rock lead a monotonous life in two villages, one of which is two hundred years old, fortified and dirty, and called the “Kastro,” or the “camp”; the other is modern, and about five minutes’ walk from the camp, and is called “the other place”; so nomenclature in Sikinos is simple enough. The inhabitants are descended from certain refugees who, two hundred years ago, fled from Crete during a revolution, and built the138 fortified village up on the hillside out of the reach of pirates, and remained isolated from the world ever since. Before they came, Sikinos had been uninhabited since the days of the ancient Greeks. The only two men in the place who have travelled—that is to say, who have been as far as Athens—are the Demarch, who is the chief legislator of the island, and looked up to as quite a man of the world, and Nikola, the muleteer.

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

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

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

“Can Pygmalion have married Galatea after all?” I remarked for the moment, forgetting the ignorance of my friends on such topics, but a Greek139 never admits that he does not understand, and Nikola replied, “No; her name is Kallirhoe, and she was the priest’s daughter.”

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

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

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

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

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

“We worked every day in the year except feast-days, starting early with our ploughs, our hoes, and our pruning hooks, according to the season, and returning late, driving our bullocks and our mules before us.” An islander’s tools are simple enough—his plough is so light that he can carry it over his shoulders as he drives the bullocks to their work. It merely scratches the back of the land, making no deep furrows; and when the work is far from the village the husbandman starts from140 home very early, and seldom returns till dusk.

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

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


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

Some explanation is here necessary. At Sikinos, as in other remote corners of Greece, they still keep up a custom called προξενία. The man does not propose in person, but sends an old female relative to seek the girl’s hand from her parents; this old woman must have on one stocking white and the other red or brown. “Your stockings of two colors make me think that we shall have an offer,” sings an island poem. Nikola’s mother went thus garbed, but returned with a sorrowful face. “I was made to eat gruel,” said he, using the common expression in these parts for a refusal, “and nobody ate more than I did. Next day Papa Manoulas called at our house. My heart stood still as he came in, and then bubbled over like a seething wine vat when he asked to speak to me alone. ‘You are a good fellow, Kola,’ he began. ‘Kallirhoe loves you, and I wish to see you happy;’ and I had fallen on his neck and kissed him on both cheeks before he could say, ‘Wait a bit, young man; before you marry her you must142 get together just a little money; I will be content with 1,000 drachmas (£40). When you have that to offer in return for Kallirhoe’s dower you shall be married,’ ‘A thousand drachmas!’ muttered I. ‘May the God of the ravens help me!’” (an expression denoting impossibility), “and I burst into tears.”

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

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

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

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

In a tiny little caique
Forth in my folly one night
To the sea of love I wandered,
Where the land was nowhere in sight.
O my star! O my brilliant star!
Have pity on my youth,
Desert me not, oh! leave me not
Alone in the sea of love!
O my star! O my brilliant star!
I have met you on my path.
Dost thou bid me not tarry near thee?
Are thy feelings not of love?
Lo! suddenly about me fell
The darkness of that night,
And the sea rolled in mountains around me,
And the land was nowhere in sight.

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

“About two months after these events,” began Nikola with renewed vigor, “my father ordered me to clear away a heap of stones which occupied a corner of a little terrace-vineyard we owned on a slope near the church of Episcopì.23 We always thought the stones had been put there to support the earth from falling from the terrace above, but it lately had occurred to my father that it was only a heap of loose stones which had been cleared off the field and thrown there when the vineyard was made, and the removal of which would add several square feet to the small holding. Next morning I started about an hour before the Panagía (Madonna) had opened the gates of the East,24 with a mule and panniers to remove the stones. I worked hard enough when I got there, for the morning was cold, and I was beginning to find that the harder I worked the less time I had for thought. Stone after stone was removed, pannier-load after pannier-load was emptied down the cliff,144 and fell rattling amongst the brushwood and rousing the partridges and crows as they fell. After a couple of hours’ work the mound was rapidly disappearing, when I came across something white projecting upwards. I looked at it closely; it was a marble foot. More stones were removed, and disclosed a marble leg, two legs, a body, an arm; a head and another arm, which had been broken off by the weight of the stones, lay close by. Though I was somewhat astonished at this discovery, yet I did not suppose it to be of any value. I had heard of things of this kind being found before. My father had an ugly bit of marble which came out of a neighboring tomb. However, I did not throw it over the cliff with the other stones, but I put it on one side and went on again with my work.

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


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

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

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

“Never was a poor fellow in such perplexity as I was,” continued Nikola, “the possessor of a marble woman whose value I could not learn, and about whom I did not care one straw, whilst I yearned after a woman whose value I knew to be a thousand drachmas, and whom I could not buy. My hope, too, was rendered more acute by the vague idea that perhaps my treasure might prove to be as valuable as Kallirhoe, and I smiled to think of the folly of the man who would be likely to prefer the cold marble statue to my plump, warm146 Kallirhoe. But they tell me that you cold Northerners have hearts of marble, so I prayed to the Panagía and all the saints to send some one who would take the statue away, and give me enough money to buy Kallirhoe.

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

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

“My statue had been in her grave nearly a year,” laughed Nikola, “and after the way of the world she was nearly forgotten, when one day a caique put in to Sikinos, and two foreign effendi—Franks, I believe—came up to the town; they were the first that had visited our rock since the German who had opened the graves on the hillside,147 and had carried off a lot of gold and precious things. So we all stared at them very hard, and gathered in crowds around the Demarch’s door to get a glimpse at them as they sat at table. I was one of the crowd, and as I looked at them I thought of my buried statue, and my hope flickered again.

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

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

“That evening I told my father some of those lies which hurt nobody, and are therefore harmless, as the priests say. I told him I had acquired a great knowledge of stones that day, that I knew where priceless minerals were to be found; I drew on my imagination about possible hidden stores of gold and silver in our rocky Sikinos. I saw that I had touched the right chord, for though he always told us hard-working lads that an olive with a kernel gives a boot to a man, yet I felt sure that his inmost ideas soared higher, and that he was, like the rest of the Sikiniotes, deeply imbued with the idea that mineral treasures, if148 only they could be found, would give a man more than boots.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

“She was a great weight to carry all by myself, but at last I got her into the store, and deposited her in her new coffin, wedged her in, and cast a last, almost affectionate look at this marble representation of life, which had been so constantly in my thoughts for months and months, and finally I proceeded to bury her with specimens, covering her so well that not a vestige of marble150 could be seen for three inches below the surface. What a weight the box was! I could not lift it myself, but the deed was done, so I nailed the lid on tightly, and deposited what was over of my specimens in the hole where the statue had been reposing, and then I lay down on the floor to rest, not daring to go out again or leave my treasure. I thought it never would be morning; every hour of the night I looked out to see if there was any fear of a change of wind, but it blew quietly and steadily from the north; it was quite clear that we should be able to make Ios next morning without any difficulty.

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

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

“The bustle of the journey hardly gave me a moment for thought. I was very ill crossing over in the caique to Ios, during which time my cowardice came over me again, and I wondered if Kallirhoe was worth all the trouble I was taking; but I was lost in astonishment at the steamer—so astonished that I had no time to be sick, so I was able to eat some olives that evening, and as I lay on my mattress on the steamer’s deck as we hurried on towards the151 Piræus, I pondered over what I should do on reaching land.

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

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

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

“‘What have you there?’

“‘Δείγματα (specimens),’ I replied.

“‘Specimens of what?’

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

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

“‘Stones!’ said one official.

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


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

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

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

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



The illustrious woman who is the subject of these volumes makes a remark to her publisher which is at least as relevant now as it was then. Can nothing be done, she asks, by dispassionate criticism towards the reform of our national habits in the matter of literary biography? “Is it anything short of odious that as soon as a man is dead his desk should be raked, and every insignificant memorandum which he never meant for the public be printed for the gossiping amusement of people too idle to read his books?” Autobiography, she says, at least saves a man or a woman that the world is curious about, from the publication of a string of mistakes called Memoirs. Even to autobiography, however, she confesses her deep repugnance unless it can be written so as to involve neither self154glorification nor impeachment of others—a condition, by the way, with which hardly any, save Mill’s, can be said to comply. “I like,” she proceeds, “that He being dead yet speaketh should have quite another meaning than that” (iii. 226, 297, 307). She shows the same fastidious apprehension still more clearly in another way. “I have destroyed almost all my friends’ letters to me,” she says, “because they were only intended for my eyes, and could only fall into the hands of persons who knew little of the writers, if I allowed them to remain till after my death. In proportion as I love every form of piety—which is venerating love—I hate hard curiosity; and, unhappily, my experience has impressed me with the sense that hard curiosity is the more common temper of mind” (ii. 286). There is probably little difference among us in respect of such experience as that.

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

This is but an ungracious prelude to some remarks upon a book, which must be pronounced a striking success. There will be very little dispute as to the fact that the editor of these memorials of George Eliot has done his work with excellent taste, judgment, and sense. He found no autobiography nor fragment of one, but he has skilfully shaped a kind of autobiography by a plan which,155 so far as we know, he is justified in calling new, and which leaves her life to write itself in extracts from her letters and journals. With the least possible obtrusion from the biographer, the original pieces are formed into a connected whole “that combines a narrative of day to day life with the play of light and shade which only letters written in serious moods can give.” The idea is a good one, and Mr. Cross deserves great credit for it. We may hope that its success will encourage imitators. Certainly there are drawbacks. We miss the animation of mixed narrative. There is, too, a touch of monotony in listening for so long to the voice of a single speaker addressing others who are silent behind a screen. But Mr. Cross could not we think, have devised a better way of dealing with his material: it is simple, modest, and effective.

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

As a mere letter-writer, George Eliot will not rank among the famous masters of what is usually considered es156pecially a woman’s art. She was too busy in serious work to have leisure for that most delightful way of wasting time. Besides that, she had by nature none of that fluency, rapidity, abandonment, pleasant volubility, which make letters amusing, captivating, or piquant. What Mr. Cross says of her as the mistress of a salon, is true of her for the most part as a correspondent:—“Playing around many disconnected subjects, in talk, neither interested nor amused her much. She took things too seriously, and seldom found the effort of entertaining compensated by the gain” (iii. 335). There is the outpouring of ardent feeling for her friends, sobering down, as life goes on, into a crooning kindliness, affectionate and honest, but often tinged with considerable self-consciousness. It was said of some one that his epigrams did honor to his heart; in the reverse direction we occasionally feel that George Eliot’s effusive playfulness does honor to her head. It lacks simplicity and verve. Even in an invitation to dinner, the words imply a grave sense of responsibility on both sides, and sense of responsibility is fatal to the charm of familiar correspondence.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

This is not much better, however, than trifling. I dare say that if a lively Frenchman could have watched the inspired Pythia on the sublime tripod, he would have cried, Elle s’écoute quand elle parle. When everything of that kind has been said, we have the profound satisfaction, which is not quite158 a matter of course in the history of literature, of finding, after all that the woman and the writer were one. The life does not belie the books, nor private conduct stultify public profession. We close the third volume of the biography, as we have so often closed the third volume of her novels, feeling to the very core that in spite of a style that the French call alambiqué, in spite of tiresome double and treble distillations of phraseology, in spite of fatiguing moralities, gravities, and ponderosities, we have still been in communion with a high and commanding intellect, and a great nature. We are vexed by pedantries that recall the précieuses of the Hôtel Rambouillet, but we know that she had the soul of the most heroic women in history. We crave more of the Olympian serenity that makes action natural and repose refreshing, but we cannot miss the edification of a life marked by indefatigable labor after generous purposes, by an unsparing struggle for duty, and by steadfast and devout fellowship with lofty thoughts.

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

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

To many, the relation, which was the most important event in George Eliot’s life, will seem one of those irretrievable errors which reduce all talk of duty to a mockery. It is inevitable that this should be so, and those who disregard a social law have little right to complain. Men and women whom in every other respect it would be monstrous to call bad, have taken this particular law into their own hands before now, and com159mitted themselves to conduct of which “magnanimity owes no account to prudence.” But if they had sense and knew what they were about, they have braced themselves to endure the disapproval of a majority fortunately more prudential than themselves. The world is busy, and its instruments are clumsy. It cannot know all the facts; it has neither time nor material for unravelling all the complexities of motive, or for distinguishing mere libertinage from grave and deliberate moral misjudgment; it is protecting itself as much as it is condemning the offenders. On all this, then, we need have neither sophistry nor cant. But those who seek something deeper than a verdict for the honest working purpose of leaving cards and inviting to dinner, may feel, as has been observed by a contemporary writer, that men and women are more fairly judged, if judge them we must, by the way in which they bear the burden of an error, than by the decision that laid the burden on their lives. Some idea of this kind was in her own mind when she wrote to her most intimate friend in 1857, “If I live five years longer, the positive result of my existence on the side of truth and goodness will outweigh the small negative good that would have consisted in my not doing anything to shock others” (i. 461). This urgent desire to balance the moral account may have had something to do with that laborious sense of responsibility which weighed so heavily on her soul, and had so equivocal an effect upon her art. Whatever else is to be said of this particular union, nobody can deny that the picture on which it left a mark was an exhibition of extraordinary self-denial, energy, and persistency in the cultivation and the use of great gifts and powers for what their possessor believed to be the highest objects for society and mankind.

A more perfect companionship, one on a higher intellectual level, or of more sustained mental activity, is nowhere recorded. Lewes’s mercurial temperament contributed as much as the powerful mind of his consort to prevent their seclusion from degenerating into an owlish stagnation. To the very last (1878) he retained his extraordinary buoyancy.160 “Nothing but death could quench that bright flame. Even on his worst days he had always a good story to tell; and I remember on one occasion in the drawing-room at Witley, between two bouts of pain, he sang through with great brio, though without much voice, the greater portion of the tenor part in the Barber of Seville, George Eliot playing his accompaniment, and both of them thoroughly enjoying the fun” (iii. 334). All this gaiety, his inexhaustible vivacity, the facility of his transitions from brilliant levity to a keen seriousness, the readiness of his mental response, and the wide range of intellectual accomplishments that were much more than superficial, made him a source of incessant and varied stimulation. Even those, and there were some, who thought that his gaiety bordered on flippancy, that his genial self-content often came near to shockingly bad taste, and that his reminiscences of poor Mr. Fitzball and the green-room and all the rest of the Bohemia in which he had once dwelt, too racy for his company, still found it hard to resist the alert intelligence with which he rose to every good topic, and the extraordinary heartiness and spontaneity with which the wholesome spring of human laughter was touched in him.

Lewes had plenty of egotism, not to give it a more unamiable name, but it never mastered his intellectual sincerity. George Eliot describes him as one of the few human beings she has known who will, in the heat of an argument, see, and straightway confess, that he is in the wrong, instead of trying to shift his ground or use any other device of vanity. “The intense happiness of our union,” she wrote to a friend, “is derived in a high degree from the perfect freedom with which we each follow and declare our own impressions. In this respect I know no man so great as he—that difference of opinion rouses no egotistic irritation in him, and that he is ready to admit that another argument is the stronger, the moment his intellect recognises it” (ii. 279). This will sound very easy to the dispassionate reader, because it is so obviously just and proper, but if the dispassionate reader ever tries, he may find the virtue not so easy as it looks. Finally, and above all, we can never forget in Lewes’s case161 how much true elevation and stability of character was implied in the unceasing reverence, gratitude, and devotion with which for five-and-twenty years he treated her to whom he owed all his happiness, and who most truly, in his own words (ii. 76), had made his life a new birth.

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

The benefits that George Eliot gained from her exclusive companionship with a man of lively talents were not without some compensating drawbacks. The keen stimulation and incessant strain, unrelieved by variety of daily intercourse, and never diversified by partici162pation in the external activities of the world, tended to bring about a loaded, over-conscious, over-anxious state of mind, which was not only not wholesome in itself, but was inconsistent with the full freshness and strength of artistic work. The presence of the real world in his life has, in all but one or two cases, been one element of the novelist’s highest success in the world of imaginative creation. George Eliot had no greater favorite than Scott, and when a series of little books upon English men of letters was planned, she said that she thought that writer among us the happiest to whom it should fall to deal with Scott. But Scott lived full in the life of his fellow-men. Even of Wordsworth, her other favorite, though he was not a creative artist, we may say that he daily saturated himself in those natural elements and effects, which were the material, the suggestion, and the sustaining inspiration of his consoling and fortifying poetry. George Eliot did not live in the midst of her material, but aloof from it and outside of it. Heaven forbid that this should seem to be said by way of censure. Both her health and other considerations made all approach to busy sociability in any of its shapes both unwelcome and impossible. But in considering the relation of her manner of life to her work, her creations, her meditations, one cannot but see that when compared with some writers of her own sex and age, she is constantly bookish, artificial, and mannered. She is this because she fed her art too exclusively, first on the memories of her youth, and next from books, pictures, statues, instead of from the living model, as seen in its actual motion. It is direct calls and personal claims from without that make fiction alive. Jane Austen bore her part in the little world of the parlor that she described. The writer of Sylvia’s Lovers, whose work George Eliot appreciated with unaffected generosity (i. 305), was the mother of children, and was surrounded by the wholesome actualities of the family. The authors of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights passed their days in one long succession of wild, stormy, squalid, anxious, and miserable scenes—almost as romantic, as poetic, and as tragic, to use George Elio163t’s words, as their own stories. George Sand eagerly shared, even to the pitch of passionate tumult and disorder, in the emotions, the aspirations, the ardor, the great conflicts and controversies of her time. In every one of these, their daily closeness to the real life of the world has given a vitality to their work which we hardly expect that even the next generation will find in more than one or two of the romances of George Eliot. It may even come to pass that their position will be to hers as that of Fielding is to Richardson in our own day.

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

The influence of her reserved fashion of daily life was heightened by the literary exclusiveness which of set purpose she imposed upon herself. “The less an author hears about himself,” she says, in one place, “the better.” “It is my rule, very strictly observed, not to read the criticisms on my writings. For years I have found this abstinence necessary to preserve me from that discouragement as an artist, which ill-judged praise, no less than ill-judged blame, tends to produce in us.” George Eliot pushed this repugnance to criticism beyond the personal reaction of it upon the artist, and more than disparaged its utility, even in the most competent and highly trained hands. She finds that the diseased spot in the literary culture of our time is touched with the finest point by the saying of La Bruyère, that164 “the pleasure of criticism robs us of the pleasure of being keenly moved by very fine things” (iii. 327). “It seems to me,” she writes (ii. 412), “much better to read a man’s own writings, than to read what others say about him, especially when the man is first-rate and the others third-rate. As Goethe said long ago about Spinoza, ‘I always preferred to learn from the man himself what he thought, rather than to hear from some one else what he ought to have thought.’” As if the scholar will not always be glad to do both, to study his author and not to refuse the help of the rightly prepared commentator; as if even Goethe himself would not have been all the better acquainted with Spinoza, if he could have read Mr. Pollock’s book upon him. But on this question Mr. Arnold has fought a brilliant battle, and to him George Eliot’s heresies may well be left.

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

Hence, delightful and inspiring as it is to read this story of diligent and dis165criminating cultivation, of accurate truth and real erudition and beauty, not vaguely but methodically interpreted, one has some of the sensations of the moral and intellectual hothouse. Mental hygiene is apt to lead to mental valetudinarianism. “The ignorant journalist” may be left to the torment which George Eliot wished that she could inflict on one of those literary slovens whose manuscripts bring even the most philosophic editor to the point of exasperation: “I should like to stick red-hot skewers through the writer, whose style is as sprawling as his handwriting.” By all means. But much that even the most sympathetic reader finds repellent in George Eliot’s later work might perhaps never have been, if Mr. Lewes had not practised with more than Russian rigor a censorship of the press and the post office which kept every disagreeable whisper scrupulously from her ear. To slop every draft with sandbags, screens, and curtains, and to limit one’s exercise to a drive in a well-warmed brougham with the windows drawn up, may save a few annoying colds in the head, but the end of the process will be the manufacture of an invalid.

Whatever view we may take of the precise connection between what she read, or abstained from reading, and what she wrote, no studious man or woman can look without admiration and envy on the breadth, variety, seriousness, and energy, with which she set herself her tasks and executed them. She says in one of her letters, “there is something more piteous almost than soapless poverty in the application of feminine incapacity to literature” (ii. 16). Nobody has ever taken the responsibilities of literature more ardently in earnest. She was accustomed to read aloud to Mr. Lewes three hours a day, and her private reading, except when she was engaged in the actual stress of composition, must have filled as many more. His extraordinary alacrity and her brooding intensity of mind, prevented these hours from being that leisurely process in slippers and easy chair which passes with many for the practice of literary cultivation. Much of her reading was for the direct purposes of her own work. The young166 lady who begins to write historic novels out of her own head will find something much to her advantage if she will refer to the list of books read by George Eliot during the latter half of 1861, when she was meditating Romola (ii. 325). Apart from immediate needs and uses, no student of our time has known better the solace, the delight, the guidance that abide in great writings. Nobody who did not share the scholars enthusiasm could have described the blind scholar in his library in the adorable fifth chapter of Romola; and we feel that she must have copied out with keen gusto of her own those words of Petrarch which she puts into old Bardo’s mouth—“Libri medullitus delectant, colloquuntur, consulunt, et viva quadam nobis atque arguta familiaritate junguntur.”

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

George Eliot’s means of access to books were very full. She knew French, German, Italian, and Spanish accurately. Greek and Latin, Mr. Cross tells us, she could read with thorough delight to herself; though after the appalling specimen of Mill’s juvenile Latinity that Mr. Bain has disinterred, the fas167tidious collegian may be sceptical of the scholarship of prodigies. Hebrew was her favorite study to the end of her days. People commonly supposed that she had been inoculated with an artificial taste for science by her companion. We now learn that she took a decided interest in natural science long before she made Mr. Lewes’s acquaintance, and many of the roundabout pedantries that displeased people in her latest writings, and were set down to his account, appeared in her composition before she had ever exchanged a word with him.

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

Over few lives have the clouds of mental dejection hung in such heavy168 unmoving banks. Nearly every chapter is strewn with melancholy words. “I cannot help thinking more of your illness than of the pleasure in prospect—according to my foolish nature, which is always prone to live in past pain.” The same sentiment is the mournful refrain that runs through all. Her first resounding triumph, the success of Adam Bede, instead of buoyancy and exultation, only adds a fresh sense of the weight upon her future life. “The self-questioning whether my nature will be able to meet the heavy demands upon it, both of personal duty and intellectual production—presses upon me almost continually in a way that prevents me even from tasting the quiet joy I might have in the work done. I feel no regret that the fame, as such, brings no pleasure; but it is a grief to me that I do not constantly feel strong in thankfulness that my past life has vindicated its uses.”

Romola seems to have been composed in constant gloom. “I remember my wife telling me, at Witley,” says Mr. Cross, “how cruelly she had suffered at Dorking from working under a leaden weight at this time. The writing of Romola ploughed into her more than any of her other books. She told me she could put her finger on it as marking a well-defined transition in her life. In her own words, ‘I began it a young woman—I finished it an old woman.’” She calls upon herself to make “greater efforts against indolence and the despondency that comes from too egoistic a dread of failure.” “This is the last entry I mean to make in my old book in which I wrote for the first time at Geneva in 1849. What moments of despair I passed through after that—despair that life would ever be made precious to me by the consciousness that I lived to some good purpose! It was that sort of despair that sucked away the sap of half the hours which might have been filled by energetic youthful activity; and the same demon tries to get hold of me again whenever an old work is dismissed, and a new one is being meditated” (ii. 307). One day the entry is: “Horrible scepticism about all things paralysing my mind. Shall I ever be good for anything again? Ever do anything again?” On another,169 she describes herself to a trusted friend as “a mind morbidly desponding, and a consciousness tending more and more to consist in memories of error and imperfection rather than in a strengthening sense of achievement.” We have to turn to such books as Bunyan’s Grace Abounding to find any parallel to such wretchedness.

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

That from this central gloom a shadow should spread to her work was unavoidable. It would be rash to compare George Eliot with Tacitus, with Dante, with Pascal. A novelist—for as a poet, after trying hard to think otherwise, most of us find her magnificent but unreadable—as a novelist bound by the conditions of her art to deal in a thousand trivialities of human character and situation, she has none of their severity of form. But she alone of moderns has their note of sharp-cut melancholy, of sombre rumination, of brief disdain. Living in a time when humanity has been raised, whether formally or informally, into a religion, she draws a painted curtain of pity before the tragic scene. Still the attentive ear catches from time to time the accents of an unrelenting voice, that proves her kindred with those three mighty spirits and stern monitors of men. In George Eliot, a reader with a conscience may be reminded of the saying that when a man opens Tacitus he puts himself in the confessional. She was no vague dreamer over the folly and the weakness of men, and the cruelty and blindness of destiny. Hers is not the dejection of the poet who “could lie down like a tired child, And weep away this life of care,” as Shelley at Naples; nor is it the despairing mis170ery that moved Cowper in the awful verses of the Castaway. It was not such self-pity as wrung from Burns the cry to life, “Thou art a galling load, Along, a rough, a weary road, To wretches such as I;” nor such general sense of the woes of the race as made Keats think of the world as a place where men sit and hear each other groan, “Where but to think is to be full of sorrow, And leaden-eyed despairs.” She was as far removed from the plangent reverie of Rousseau as from the savage truculence of Swift. Intellectual training had given her the spirit of order and proportion, of definiteness and measure, and this marks her alike from the great sentimentalists and the sweeping satirists. “Pity and fairness,” as she beautifully says (iii. 317), “are two little words which, carried out, would embrace the utmost delicacies of the moral life.” But hers is not seldom the severe fairness of the judge, and the pity that may go with putting on the black cap after a conviction for high treason. In the midst of many an easy flowing page, the reader is surprised by some bitter aside, some judgment of intense and concentrated irony with the flash of a blade in it, some biting sentence where lurks the stern disdain and the anger of Tacitus, and Dante, and Pascal. Souls like these are not born for happiness.

This is not the occasion for an elaborate discussion of George Eliot’s place in the mental history of her time, but her biography shows that she travelled along the road that was trodden by not a few in her day. She started from that fervid evangelicalism which has made the base of many a powerful character in this century, from Cardinal Newman downwards. Then with curious rapidity she threw it all off, and embraced with equal zeal the rather harsh and crude negations which were then associated with the Westminster Review. The second stage did not last much longer than the first. “Religious and moral sympathy with the historical life of man,” she said (ii. 363), “is the larger half of culture;” and this sympathy, which was the fruit of her culture, had by the time she was thirty become the new seed of a positive faith and a semi-conservative creed. Here is a passage from a letter171 of 1862 (she had translated Strauss, we may remind ourselves, in 1845, and Feuerbach in 1854):—

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

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

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

These volumes contain many passages in the same sense—as, of course, her172 books contain them too. She was a constant reader of the Bible, and the Imitatio was never far from her hand. “She particularly enjoyed reading aloud some of the finest chapters of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and St. Paul’s Epistles. The Bible and our elder English poets best suited the organ-like tones of her voice, which required for their full effect a certain solemnity and majesty of rhythm.” She once expressed to a younger friend, who shared her opinions, her sense of the loss which they had in being unable to practise the old ordinances of family prayer. “I hope,” she says, “we are well out of that phase in which the most philosophic view of the past was held to be a smiling survey of human folly, and when the wisest man was supposed to be one who could sympathise with no age but the age to come” (ii. 308).

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

The romantic movement was then upon its fall. The great Oxford movement, which besides its purely ecclesiastical effects, had linked English religion once more to human history, and which was itself one of the unexpected out-comes of the romantic movement, had spent its original force, and no longer interested the stronger minds among the rising generation. The hour had sounded for the scientific movement. In 1859, was published the Origin of Species, undoubtedly the most far-reaching agency176 of the time, supported as it was by a volume of new knowledge which came pouring in from many sides. The same period saw the important speculations of Mr. Spencer, whose influence on George Eliot had from their first acquaintance been of a very decisive kind. Two years after the Origin of Species came Maine’s Ancient Law, and that was followed by the accumulations of Mr. Tylor and others, exhibiting order and fixed correlation among great sets of facts which had hitherto lain in that cheerful chaos of general knowledge which has been called general ignorance. The excitement was immense. Evolution, development, heredity, adaptation, variety, survival, natural selection, were so many patent pass-keys that were to open every chamber.

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

This scientific quality of her work may be considered to have stood in the way of her own aim. That the nobler emotions roused by her writings tend to “make mankind desire the social right,” is not to be doubted; that we are not sure that she imparts peculiar energy to177 the desire. What she kindles is not a very strenuous, aggressive, and operative desire. The sense of the iron limitations that are set to improvement in present and future by inexorable forces of the past, is stronger in her than any intrepid resolution to press on to whatever improvement may chance to be within reach if we only make the attempt. In energy, in inspiration, in the kindling of living faith in social effort, George Sand, not to speak of Mazzini, takes a far higher place.

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

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


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

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

There is a passage in Coleridge’s Friend which seems to represent the outcome of George Eliot’s teaching on most, and not the worst, of her readers:—“The tangle of delusions,” says Coleridge,179 “which stifled and distorted the growing tree of our well-being has been torn away; the parasite weeds that fed on its very roots have been plucked up with a salutary violence. To us there remain only quiet duties, the constant care, the gradual improvement, the cautious and unhazardous labors of the industrious though contented gardener—to prune, to strengthen, to engraft, and one by one to remove from its leaves and fresh shoots the slug and the caterpillar.” Coleridge goes further than George Eliot, when he adds the exhortation—“Far be it from us to undervalue with light and senseless detraction the conscientious hardihood of our predecessors, or even to condemn in them that vehemence to which the blessings it won for us leave us now neither temptation nor pretext.”

George Eliot disliked vehemence more and more as her work advanced. The word “crudity,” so frequently on her lips, stood for all that was objectionable and distasteful. The conservatism of an artistic moral nature was shocked by the seeming peril to which priceless moral elements of human character were exposed by the energumens of progress. Their impatient hopes for the present appeared to her rather unscientific; their disregard of the past, very irreverent and impious. Mill had the same feeling when he disgusted his father by standing up for Wordsworth, on the ground that Wordsworth was helping to keep alive in human nature elements which utilitarians and innovators would need when their present and particular work was done. Mill, being free from the exaltations that make the artist, kept a truer balance. His famous pair of essays on Bentham and Coleridge were published (for the first time, so far as our generation was concerned) in the same year as Adam Bede, and I can vividly remember how the “Coleridge” first awoke in many of us, who were then youths at Oxford, that sense of truth having many mansions, and that desire and power of sympathy with the past, with the positive bases of the social fabric, and with the value of Permanence in States, which form the reputable side of all conservatisms. This sentiment and conviction never took richer or more mature form than in the best work of George Eliot, and her stories lighted up with a fervid glow the truths that minds of another type had just brought to the surface. It was this180 that made her a great moral force at that epoch, especially for all who were capable by intellectual training of standing at her point of view. We even, as I have said, tried hard to love her poetry, but the effort has ended less in love than in a very distant homage to the majestic in intention and the sonorous in execution. In fiction, too, as the years go by, we begin to crave more fancy, illusion, enchantment, than the quality of her genius allowed. But the loftiness of her character is abiding, and it passes nobly through the ordeal of an honest biography. “For the lessons,” says the fine critic already quoted,181 “most imperatively needed by the mass of men, the lessons of deliberate kindness, of careful truth, of unwavering endeavor,—for these plain themes one could not ask a more convincing teacher than she whom we are commemorating now. Everything in her aspect and presence was in keeping with the bent of her soul. The deeply-lined face, the too marked and massive features, were united with an air of delicate refinement, which in one way was the more impressive because it seemed to proceed so entirely from within. Nay, the inward beauty would sometimes quite transform the external harshness; there would be moments when the thin hands that entwined themselves in their eagerness, the earnest figure that bowed forward to speak and hear, the deep gaze moving from one face to another with a grave appeal,—all these seemed the transparent symbols that showed the presence of a wise, benignant soul.” As a wise, benignant soul George Eliot will still remain for all right-judging men and women.—Macmillan’s Magazine.




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


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


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




Translated, with His Majesty’s permission, by Carl Siewers.

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

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

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

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

Now the road lies through rapid moun185tain streams, where the roaring waterfall may in an instant sweep man and beast into a yawning abyss below, and now across a precipice, where the lake divides the mountains, and death lurks a yard to your left. Again across the steepest slopes, where Nature appears to have amused herself by tossing masses of jagged, tottering rocks in heaps, and where no ordinary horse’s hoof would find a safe hold. But if you only watch these brave and sagacious little animals, how carefully they consider the slightest movement and measure the smallest step, they will inspire you with the greatest confidence, and you will continue your journey on their back without the slightest fear, along the wildest path, on the edge of the most awe-inspiring abyss. And should one of these excellent cobs stumble, which happened once or twice during our ride, it is only on comparatively safe ground, where probably the horse does not consider much attention is required.

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

The morning had dawned rather dull, which in these altitudes means that we had been enveloped in a thick damp186 mist; but the gusts from the snow-fields soon chase the heavy clouds away, and seem to sweep them into a heap round the crests of the lofty mountains. At last a streak of blue appears overhead, and through the rent clouds a faint sunbeam shoots across the high plateau, one stronger and more intense follows, a second and third. It’s clearing!

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

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

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


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

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

Never before had I experienced such a sensation, not even during a terrific storm in the Atlantic Ocean, or on beholding the desert of Sahara from the pyramid of Cheops. In the latter case, I am in the vicinity of a populated district and an extensive town, and need only turn round to see Cairo’s minarets and citadel in the distance; and again at sea, the ship is a support to the eye, and I am surrounded by many people, who all participate in the very work which engages myself; I seem to a certain extent to carry my home with me. Whilst here, on the other hand, I am, as it were, torn away from everything dear to me—a speck of dust on the enormous snowdrift—and I feel my own impotence more keenly as the Nature facing me becomes grander and more gigantic, and whose forces may from inaction in an instant be called into play, bringing destruction on the fatigued wanderer. But we did not encounter them, and it is indeed an exception that any danger is incurred. With provisions for a couple of days, sure and reso188lute guides, enduring horses, and particularly bold courage and good temper, all will go well. As regards good temper, this is a gift of welcome and gratitude: presents from the mountains to the rare traveller who finds his way up here.

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

These sagacious and enduring Klöf horses are certainly worth attention.

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

Life in the mountains, and the daily intimate acquaintance with the giant forces of Nature, seem to create something corresponding in the character of the simple dwellers among the high valleys of Norway. As a type I may mention an old reindeer-hunter, whom we met in the mountains. Seventy winters had snown on his venerable locks, serving only however to ornament his proudly-borne head. Leaning on his rough but unerring rifle, motionless as a statue, he appears before us on a hill at some distance. Silent and solemn is his greeting as we pass, and we see him still yonder, motionless as the rocks, which soon hide him from our view. Thus he has to spend many a weary hour, even days, in order to earn his scanty living. To me it seemed a hard189 lot, but he is content—he knows no better, the world has not tempted him to discontent.

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

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

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

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

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

Anything more grand, more impressive than the view from the last eminence, the Ocsar’s Houg, before we begin to descend, it is impossible to imagine! Before us loom the three Skagastölstinder, almost the loftiest peaks in the Scandinavian peninsula. More than seven thousand feet they raise their crests above the level of the sea, and they stand yonder as clearly defined as if within rifle-shot, whilst190 they are at least half a day’s journey distant. To their base no human being has ever penetrated, their top has never been trodden by man.

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

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

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

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

We had, in fact, no choice. We were bound to proceed by this road and no191 other, unless we desired to return all the way to Guldbrandsdalen, miss all our nicely-arranged trips around the Sogne and Nœrö fjords, and disappoint the steamer waiting for us with our carriage and traps. And above all, what an ignominious retreat! No; such a thought did not for a moment enter our head. Therefore come what may, forward!

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

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

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

I have therefore no choice but to lay down my pen, and I do so with a call on you, my reader, to undertake this journey and experience for yourself its192 indescribable impressions; and if you do, I feel confident you will not find my description exaggerated.

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

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



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

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

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

So it had been with Francis Drury,194 ever seeking after fortune in the wild places of the world; in quest, so often in vain, of a phantasmal Eldorado—lured on, ever on, by visions of what the unknown contained. Ghauts wild and rocky had re-echoed the report of his rifle; his footsteps had fallen lightly on the pavements of the ruined cities of Montezuma, sombre and stately as the primeval forest which hid them; and his skiff had cleft the bright Southern rivers that Waterton loved so well to explore, but gone farther than ever the naturalist, adventurous and daring as he too was, had ever been. At length, as he laughingly told his friend, fortune had, on the diamond fields of Klipdrift, smiled upon him, with a measured smile, ‘twas true, but still a smile; and now, after an absence of some years, he had taken the opportune chance of a passage in the Decatur, and was off home to see his mother and sister, from whom he had not heard for nearly two years.

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

A strong friendship between these two was the result of but a few days’ intimacy, during which time, however, as they were the only passengers, they naturally saw a great deal of each other; so it came to pass that Leslie heard all about his friend’s sister, golden-haired Margaret Drury; and often, as in the middle watches he paced the deck alone, he conjured up visions to himself, smiling the while, of what this girl, of whom her brother spoke so lovingly and proud195ly, and in whom he had such steadfast faith as a woman amongst women, could be like.

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

The unfortunate man was speedily ascertained to be nothing but a mass of fractures and terrible bruises, such as no human frame under any circumstances could have survived; and well the sufferer knew it; for in a brief interval of consciousness, in a moment’s respite from awful agony, he managed to draw something from around his neck, which handing to his friend in the semi-darkness of the little cabin, whilst above them the gale roared, and shrieked, officers and men shouted and swore, and the timbers of the old Decatur groaned and creaked like sentient things—he whispered, so low that the other had to bend down close to the poor disfigured face to hear it, “For Mother and Maggie; I was going to tell you about—it, and—Good-bye!” and then with one196 convulsive shudder, and with the dark-blue eyes still gazing imploringly up into those of his friend, his spirit took its flight.

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

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

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

So spake the present tenant of “Acacia Cottage, St. Kilda.” in response to Leslie’s inquiries at the address, to obtain which he had overhauled the effecs197 of the dead man, finding it at the commencement of a two-year-old letter from his mother, directed to “Algoa Bay;” finding, besides, some receipts of diamonds sold at Cape Town, and a letter of credit on a Melbourne bank for five hundred pounds; probably, so Leslie thought to himself, that “measured smile” of which the poor fellow had laughingly spoken to him in the earlier days of their brief companionship.

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

Kaloola was one of the prettiest pastoral homesteads in the north-western districts of Victoria; and its owner, as one evening he sat in the broad veranda, and saw on every side, far as the eye could reach, land and stock all calling him master, felt that the years that had passed since the old Decatur dropped her anchor in Port Phillip had not passed away altogether in vain; and although ominous wrinkles began to appear about the corners of John Leslie’s eyes, and gray hairs about his temples, the man’s heart was fresh and unseared as when, on a certain day twelve long years ago, he had shed bitter tears over the ocean grave of his friend. Vainly throughout these latter years had he endeavored to find some traces of the Drurys. The deposit in the Bank of Australasia had remained untouched, and had by now swollen to a very respectable sum indeed. Advertisements in nearly every metropolitan and provincial newspaper were equally without result; even “private inquiry” agents, employed at no small cost, confessed themselves at fault. Many a hard fight with fortune had John Leslie encountered before he achieved success; but through it all, good times and bad, he had never forgotten the dying bequest left to him on that dark and stormy morning in the198 Southern Ocean; and now, as rising and going to his desk he took out the Quandong stone, and turning it over and over, as though trying once again to finish those last dying words left unfinished so many years ago, his thoughts fled back along memory’s unforgotten vale, and a strong presentiment seemed to impel him not to leave the trinket behind, for the successful squatter was on the eve of a trip to “the Old Country,” and this was his last day at Kaloola; so, detaching the stone from its chain, he screwed it securely to his watch-guard, and in a few hours more had bidden adieu to Kaloola for some time to come.

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

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

He had not been in his room many minutes before there came a knock at the door; and, scarcely waiting for an199swer, in darted a very red-faced, very stout, and apparently very flurried old gentleman, who, setting his gold eyeglasses firmly on his nose, at once began: “Er—ah, Mr. Leslie, I believe? Got your number from the porter, you see—great rascal, by the way, that porter; always looks as if he wanted something, you know—then the visitors’ book, and so. Yes; it’s all right so far. There’s the thing now!”—glancing at the old Quandong stone which still hung at Leslie’s watch-chain. “I”—he went on—”that is, my name is Raby, Colonel Raby, and—— Dear me, yes; must apologise, ought to have done that at first, for intrusion, and all that kind of thing; but really, you see”—— And here the old gentleman paused, fairly for want of breath, his purple cheeks expanding and contracting, whilst, instead of words, he emitted a series of little puffs; and John, whilst asking him to take a seat, entertained rather strong doubts of his visitor’s sanity.

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

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

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

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

“My niece, sir,” replied the colonel, rather ruffled at being cut short, “is known as Miss Margaret Drury; and if you will only have the kindness to convince her as to the utter absurdity of an idea which she somehow entertains that200 that affair, charm, trinket, or whatever you may call it, once belonged to a brother of hers, I shall be extremely obliged to you, for really”—relapsing again—“when the women once get hold of a fad of the kind, a man’s peace is clean gone, sir, I do assure you.”

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

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

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

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

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

It was little wonder that Leslie’s inquiries and advertisements had been ineffectual, for about the time Drury had received his last letter from home, the bank in which was the widow’s modest201 capital failed, and mother and daughter were suddenly plunged into poverty dire and complete. In this strait they wrote to Colonel Raby, Mrs. Drury’s brother, who, to do him justice, behaved nobly, bringing them from Australia to England, and accepting them as part and parcel of his home without the slightest delay. Mrs. Drury had now been dead some years; and though letter after letter had been addressed to Francis Drury at the Cape, they had invariably returned with the discouraging indorsement, “Not to be found,” The Rabys, it seemed, save for a brief interval yearly, lived a very retired kind of life on the Yorkshire wolds; still, Margaret Drury had caused many and persistent inquiries to be made as to the fate of her brother, but, till that eventful even202ing on the Marine Parade, without being able to obtain the slightest clue.

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

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

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

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



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

Let it not for a moment be supposed, however, that I wish to treat the useful and ornamental banana with intentional disrespect. On the contrary, I cherish for it—at a distance—feelings of the highest esteem and admiration. We are so parochial in our views, taking us as a species, that I dare say very few English people really know how immensely useful a plant is the common banana. To most of us it envisages itself merely as a curious tropical fruit, largely imported at Covent Garden, and a capital thing to stick on one of the tall dessert-dishes when you give a dinner-party, because it looks delightfully foreign, and just serves to balance the pine-apple at the opposite end of the hospitable mahogany. Perhaps such innocent readers will be surprised to learn that bananas and plantains supply the principal food-stuff of a far larger fraction of the human race than that which is supported by wheaten bread. They form the veri204table staff of life to the inhabitants of both eastern and western tropics. What the potato is to the degenerate descendant of Celtic kings; what the oat is to the kilted Highlandman; what rice is to the Bengalee, and Indian corn to the American negro, that is the muse of sages (I translate literally from the immortal Swede) to African savages and Brazilian slaves. Humboldt calculated that an acre of bananas would supply a greater quantity of solid food to hungry humanity than could possibly be extracted from the same extent of cultivated ground by any other known plant. So you see the question is no small one: to sing the praise of this Linnæan muse is a task well worthy of the Pierian muses.

Do you know the outer look and aspect of the banana plant? If not, then you have never voyaged to those delusive tropics. Tropical vegetation, as ordinarily understood by poets and painters, consists entirely of the coco-nut palm and the banana bush. Do you wish to paint a beautiful picture of a rich ambrosial tropical island à la Tennyson—a summer-isle of Eden lying in dark purple spheres of sea?—then you introduce a group of coco-nuts, whispering in odorous heights of even, in the very foreground of your pretty sketch, just to let your public understand at a glance that these are the delicious poetical tropics. Do you desire to create an ideal paradise, à la Bernardin de St. Pierre, where idyllic Virginies die of pure modesty rather than appear before the eyes of their beloved but unwedded Pauls in a lace-bedraped peignoir?—then you strike the keynote by sticking in the middle distance a hut or cottage, overshadowed by the broad and graceful foliage of the picturesque banana. (“Hut” is a poor and chilly word for these glowing descriptions, far inferior to the pretty and high-sounding original chaumière.) That is how we do the tropics when we want to work upon the emotions of the reader. But it is all a delicate theatrical illusion; a trick of art meant to deceive and impose upon the unwary who have never been there, and would like to think it all genuine. In reality, nine times out of ten, you might cast your eyes casually around you in any tropical valley, and if there205 didn’t happen to be a native cottage with a coco-nut grove and a banana patch anywhere in the neighborhood, you would see nothing in the way of vegetation which you mightn’t see at home any day in Europe. But what painter would ever venture to paint the tropics without the palm trees? He might just as well try to paint the desert without the camels, or to represent St. Sebastian without a sheaf of arrows sticking unperceived in the calm centre of his unruffled bosom, to mark and emphasise his Sebastianic personality.

Still, I will frankly admit that the banana itself, with its practically almost identical relation, the plantain, is a real bit of tropical foliage. I confess to a settled prejudice against the tropics generally, but I allow the sunsets, the coco-nuts, and the bananas. The true stem creeps underground, and sends up each year an upright branch, thickly covered with majestic broad green leaves, somewhat like those of the canna cultivated in our gardens as “Indian shot,” but far larger, nobler, and handsomer. They sometimes measure from six to ten feet in length, and their thick midrib and strongly marked diverging veins give them a very lordly and graceful appearance. But they are apt in practice to suffer much from the fury of the tropical storms. The wind rips the leaves up between the veins as far as the midrib in tangled tatters; so that after a good hurricane they look more like coco-nut palm leaves than like single broad masses of foliage as they ought properly to do. This, of course, is the effect of a gentle and balmy hurricane—a mere capful of wind that tears and tatters them. After a really bad storm (one of the sort when you tie ropes round your wooden house to prevent its falling bodily to pieces, I mean) the bananas are all actually blown down, and the crop for that season utterly destroyed. The apparent stem, being merely composed of the overlapping and sheathing leaf-stalks, has naturally very little stability; and the soft succulent trunk accordingly gives way forthwith at the slightest onslaught. This liability to be blown down in high winds forms the weak point of the plantain, viewed as a food-stuff crop. In the South Sea Islands, where206 there is little shelter, the poor Fijian, in cannibal days, often lost his one means of subsistence from this cause, and was compelled to satisfy the pangs of hunger on the plump persons of his immediate relatives. But since the introduction of Christianity, and of a dwarf stout wind-proof variety of banana, his condition in this respect, I am glad to say, has been greatly ameliorated.

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

This is the proper appearance of the original and natural banana, before it has been taken in hand and cultivated by tropical man. When cut across the middle, it ought to show three rows of seeds, interspersed with pulp, and faintly preserving some dim memory of the dividing wall which once separated them. In practice, however, the banana differs widely from this theoretical ideal, as practice often207 will differ from theory; for it has been so long cultivated and selected by man—being probably one of the very oldest, if not actually quite the oldest, of domesticated plants—that it has all but lost the original habit of producing seeds. This is a common effect of cultivation on fruits, and it is of course deliberately aimed at by horticulturists, as the seeds are generally a nuisance, regarded from the point of view of the eater, and their absence improves the fruit, as long as one can manage to get along somehow without them. In the pretty little Tangierine oranges (so ingeniously corrupted by fruiterers into mandarins), the seeds have almost been cultivated out; in the best pine-apples, and in the small grapes known in the dried state as currants, they have quite disappeared; while in some varieties of pears they survive only in the form of shrivelled, barren, and useless pippins. But the banana, more than any other plant we know of, has managed for many centuries to do without seeds altogether. The cultivated sort, especially in America, is quite seedless, and the plants are propagated entirely by suckers.

Still, you can never wholly circumvent nature. Expel her with a pitchfork, tamen usque recurrit. Now nature has settled that the right way to propagate plants is by means of seedlings. Strictly speaking, indeed, it is the only way; the other modes of growth from bulbs or cuttings are not really propagation, but mere reduplication by splitting, as when you chop a worm in two, and a couple of worms wriggle off contentedly forthwith in either direction. Just so when you divide a plant by cuttings, suckers, slips, or runners: the two apparent plants thus produced are in the last resort only separate parts of the same individual—one and indivisible, like the French Republic. Seedlings are absolutely distinct individuals; they are the product of the pollen of one plant and the ovules of another, and they start afresh in life with some chance of being fairly free from the hereditary taints or personal failings of either parent. But cuttings or suckers are only the same old plant over and over again in fresh circumstances, trans208planted as it were, but not truly renovated or rejuvenescent. That is the real reason why our potatoes are now all going to—well, the same place as the army has been going ever since the earliest memories of the oldest officer in the whole service. We have gone on growing potatoes over and over again from the tubers alone, and hardly ever from seed, till the whole constitution of the potato kind has become permanently enfeebled by old age and dotage. The eyes (as farmers call them) are only buds or underground branches; and to plant potatoes as we usually do is nothing more than to multiply the apparent scions by fission. Odd as it may sound to say so, all the potato vines in a whole field are often, from the strict biological point of view, parts of a single much-divided individual. It is just as though one were to go on cutting up a single worm, time after time, as soon as he grew again, till at last the one original creature had multiplied into a whole colony of apparently distinct individuals. Yet, if the first worm happened to have the gout or the rheumatism (metaphorically speaking), all the other worms into which his compound personality had been divided would doubtless suffer from the same complaints throughout the whole of their joint lifetimes.

The banana, however, has very long resisted the inevitable tendency to degeneration in plants thus artificially and unhealthily propagated. Potatoes have only been in cultivation for a few hundred years; and yet the potato constitution has become so far enfeebled by the practice of growing from the tuber that the plants now fall an easy prey to potato fungus, Colorado beetles, and a thousand other persistent enemies. It is just the same with the vine—propagated too long by layers or cuttings, its health has failed entirely, and it can no longer resist the ravages of the phylloxera or the slow attacks of the vine-disease fungus. But the banana, though of very ancient and positively immemorial antiquity as a cultivated plant, seems somehow gifted with an extraordinary power of holding its own in spite of long-continued unnatural propagation. For thousands of years it has been grown in Asia in the seedless condition, and yet it springs as heartily as209 ever still from the underground suckers. Nevertheless, there must in the end be some natural limit to this wonderful power of reproduction, or rather of longevity; for, in the strictest sense, the banana bushes that now grow in the negro gardens of Trinidad and Demerara are part and parcel of the very same plants which grew and bore fruit a thousand years ago in the native compounds of the Malay Archipelago.

In fact, I think there can be but little doubt that the banana is the very oldest product of human tillage. Man, we must remember, is essentially by origin a tropical animal, and wild tropical fruits must necessarily have formed his earliest food-stuffs. It was among them of course that his first experiments in primitive agriculture would be tried; the little insignificant seeds and berries of cold northern regions would only very slowly be added to his limited stock in husbandry, as circumstances pushed some few outlying colonies northward and ever northward toward the chillier unoccupied regions. Now, of all tropical fruits, the banana is certainly the one that best repays cultivation. It has been calculated that the same area which will produce thirty-three pounds of wheat or ninety-nine pounds of potatoes will produce 4,400 pounds of plantains or bananas. The cultivation of the various varieties in India, China, and the Malay Archipelago dates, says De Candolle, “from an epoch impossible to realise.” Its diffusion, as that great but very oracular authority remarks, may go back to a period “contemporary with or even anterior to that of the human races.” What this remarkably illogical sentence may mean I am at a loss to comprehend; perhaps M. de Candolle supposes that the banana was originally cultivated by pre-human gorillas; perhaps he merely intends to say that before men began to separate they sent special messengers on in front of them to diffuse the banana in the different countries they were about to visit. Even legend retains some trace of the extreme antiquity of the species as a cultivated fruit, for Adam and Eve are said to have reclined under the shadow of its branches, whence Linnæus gave to the sort known as the plantain the Latin name of Musa paradisiaca. If a plant210 was cultivated in Eden by the grand old gardener and his wife, as Lord Tennyson democratically styled them (before his elevation to the peerage), we may fairly conclude that it possesses a very respectable antiquity indeed.

The wild banana is a native of the Malay region, according to De Candolle, who has produced by far the most learned and unreadable work on the origin of domestic plants ever yet written. (Please don’t give me undue credit for having heroically read it through out of pure love of science: I was one of its unfortunate reviewers.) The wild form produces seed, and grows in Cochin China, the Philippines, Ceylon, and Khasia. Like most other large tropical fruits, it no doubt owes its original development to the selective action of monkeys, hornbills, parrots, and other big fruit-eaters; and it shares with all fruits of similar origin one curious tropical peculiarity. Most northern berries, like the strawberry, the raspberry, the currant, and the blackberry, developed by the selective action of small northern birds, can be popped at once into the mouth and eaten whole; they have no tough outer rind or defensive covering of any sort. But big tropical fruits, which lay themselves out for the service of large birds or monkeys, have always hard outer coats, because they could only be injured by smaller animals, who would eat the pulp without helping in the dispersion of the useful seeds, the one object really held in view by the mother plant. Often, as in the case of the orange, the rind even contains a bitter, nauseous, or pungent juice, while at times, as in the pine-apple, the prickly pear, the sweet-sop, and the cherimoyer, the entire fruit is covered with sharp projections, stinging hairs, or knobby protuberances, on purpose to warn off the unauthorised depredator. It was this line of defence that gave the banana in the first instance its thick yellow skin; and looking at the matter from the epicure’s point of view, one may say roughly that all tropical fruits have to be skinned before they can be eaten. They are all adapted for being cut up with a knife and fork, or dug out with a spoon, on a civilised dessert-plate. As for that most delicious of Indian fruits, the mango, it has been211 well said that the only proper way to eat it is over a tub of water, with a couple of towels hanging gracefully across the side.

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

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

Though by origin a Malayan plant, there can be little doubt that the banana had already reached the mainland of America and the West India Islands long before the voyage of Columbus. When Pizarro disembarked upon the coast of Peru on his desolating expedition, the212 mild-eyed, melancholy, doomed Peruvians flocked down to the shore and offered him bananas in a lordly dish. Beds composed of banana leaves have been discovered in the tombs of the Incas, of date anterior, of course, to the Spanish conquest. How did they get there? Well, it is clearly an absurd mistake to suppose that Columbus discovered America; as Artemus Ward pertinently remarked, the noble Red Indian had obviously discovered it long before him. There had been intercourse of old, too, between Asia and the Western Continent; the elephant-headed god of Mexico, the debased traces of Buddhism in the Aztec religion, the singular coincidences between India and Peru, all seem to show that a stream of communication, however faint, once existed between the Asiatic and American worlds. Garcilaso himself, the half-Indian historian of Peru, says that the banana was well known in his native country before the conquest, and that the Indians say “its origin is Ethiopia.” In some strange way or other, then, long before Columbus set foot upon the low sandbank of Cat’s Island, the banana had been transported from Africa or India to the Western hemisphere.

If it were a plant propagated by seed, one would suppose that it was carried across by wind or waves, wafted on the feet of birds, or accidentally introduced in the crannies of drift timber. So the coco-nut made the tour of the world ages before either of the famous Cooks—the Captain or the excursion agent—had rendered the same feat easy and practicable; and so, too, a number of American plants have fixed their home in the tarns of the Hebrides or among the lonely bogs of Western Galway. But the banana must have been carried by man, because it is unknown in the wild state in the Western Continent; and, as it is practically seedless, it can only have been transported entire, in the form of a root or sucker. An exactly similar proof of ancient intercourse between the two worlds is afforded us by the sweet potato, a plant of undoubted American origin, which was nevertheless naturalised in China as early as the first centuries of the Christian era. Now that we all know how the Scandinavians of the eleventh century went to213 Massachusetts, which they called Vine-land, and how the Mexican empire had some knowledge of Acadian astronomy, people are beginning to discover that Columbus himself was after all an egregious humbug.

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

Besides its main use as an article of food, the banana serves incidentally to supply a valuable fibre, obtained from the stem, and employed for weaving into textile fabrics and making paper. Several kinds of the plantain tribe are cultivated for this purpose exclusively, the best known among them being the so-called manilla hemp, a plant largely grown in the Philippine Islands. Many of the finest Indian shawls are woven from banana stems, and much of the rope that we use in our houses comes from the same singular origin. I know nothing more strikingly illustrative of the extreme complexity of our modern civilisation than the way in which we thus every day employ articles of exotic manufacture in our ordinary life without ever for a moment suspecting or in214quiring into their true nature. What lady knows when she puts on her delicate wrapper, from Liberty’s or from Swan and Edgar’s, that the material from which it is woven is a Malayan plantain stalk? Who ever thinks that the glycerine for our chapped hands comes from Travancore coco-nuts, and that the pure butter supplied us from the farm in the country is colored yellow with Jamaican annatto? We break a tooth, as Mr. Herbert Spencer has pointed out, because the grape-curers of Zante are not careful enough about excluding small stones from their stock of currants; and we suffer from indigestion because the Cape wine-grower has doctored his light Burgundies with Brazilian logwood and white rum, to make them taste like Portuguese port. Take merely this very question of dessert, and how intensely complicated it really is. The West Indian bananas keep company with sweet St. Michaels from the Azores, and with Spanish cobnuts from Barcelona. Dried fruits from Metz, figs from Smyrna, and dates from Tunis lie side by side on our table with Brazil nuts and guava jelly and damson cheese and almonds and raisins. We forget where everything comes from nowadays, in our general consciousness that they all come from the Queen Victoria Street Stores, and any real knowledge of common objects is rendered every day more and more impossible by the bewildering complexity and variety, every day increasing, of the common objects themselves, their substitutes, adulterates, and spurious imitations. Why, you probably never heard of manilla hemp before, until this very minute, and yet you have been familiarly using it all your lifetime, while 400,000 hundredweights of that useful article are annually imported into this country alone. It is an interesting study to take any day a list of market quotations, and ask oneself about every material quoted, what it is and what they do with it.

For example, can you honestly pretend that you really understand the use and importance of that valuable object of everyday demand, fustic? I remember an ill-used telegraph clerk in a tropical colony once complaining to me that English cable operators were so disgracefully ignorant about this important215 staple as invariably to substitute for its name the word “justice” in all telegrams which originally referred to it. Have you any clear and definite notions as to the prime origin and final destination of a thing called jute, in whose sole manufacture the whole great and flourishing town of Dundee lives and moves and has its being? What is turmeric? Whence do we obtain vanilla? How many commercial products are yielded by the orchids? How many totally distinct plants in different countries afford the totally distinct starches lumped together in grocers’ lists under the absurd name of arrowroot? When you ask for sago do you really see that you get it? and how many entirely different objects described as sago are known to commerce? Define the use of partridge canes and cohune oil. What objects are generally manufactured from tucum? Would it surprise you to learn that English door-handles are commonly made out of coquilla nuts? that your wife’s buttons are turned from the indurated fruit of the Tagua palm? and that the knobs of umbrellas grew originally in the remote depths of Guatemalan forests? Are you aware that a plant called manioc supplies the starchy food of about one-half the population of tropical America? These are the sort of inquiries with which a new edition of “Mangnall’s Questions” would have to be filled; and as to answering them—why, even the pupil-teachers in a London Board School (who represent, I suppose, the highest attainable level of human knowledge) would often find themselves completely nonplussed. The fact is, tropical trade has opened out so rapidly and so wonderfully that nobody knows much about the chief articles of tropical growth; we go on using them in an uninquiring spirit of childlike faith, much as the Jamaica negroes go on using articles of European manufacture about whose origin they are so ridiculously ignorant that one young woman once asked me whether it was really true that cotton handkerchiefs were dug up out of the ground over in England. Some dim confusion between coal or iron and Manchester piece-goods seemed to have taken firm possession of her infantile imagination.

That is why I have thought that a216 treatise De Banana might not, perhaps, be wholly without its usefulness to the English magazine-reading world. After all, a food-stuff which supports hundreds of millions among our beloved tropical fellow-creatures ought to be very dear to the heart of a nation which governs (and annually kills) more black people, taken in the mass, than all the other European powers put together. We have introduced the blessings of British rule—the good and well-paid missionary, the Remington rifle, the red-cotton pocket-handkerchief, and the use of “the liquor called rum”—into so many remote corners of the tropical world that it is high time we should begin in return to learn somewhat about fetishes and fustic, Jamaica and jaggery, bananas and Buddhism. We know too little still about our colonies and dependencies. “Cape Breton an island!” cried King George’s Minister, the Duke217 of Newcastle, in the well-known story, “Cape Breton an island! Why, so it is! God bless my soul! I must go and tell the King that Cape Breton’s an island.” That was a hundred years ago; but only the other day the Board of Trade placarded all our towns and villages with a flaming notice to the effect that the Colorado beetle had made its appearance at “a town in Canada called Ontario,” and might soon be expected to arrive at Liverpool by Cunard steamer. The right honorables and other high mightinesses who put forth the notice in question were evidently unaware that Ontario is a province as big as England, including in its borders Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, London, Hamilton, and other large and flourishing towns. Apparently, in spite of competitive examinations, the schoolmaster is still abroad in the Government offices.—Cornhill Magazine.



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

Less than two hundred and fifty years ago, no one knew anything about gas of any kind. Pascal was among the first who guessed that air was “matter” like other things, and therefore pressed on the earth’s surface with a weight proportioned to its height. Torricelli had made a similar guess two years before, in 1645. But Pascal proved that these guesses were true by carrying a barometer to the top of the Puy de Dôme near Clermont. Three years after, Otto von Guerecke invented the air-pump, and showed at Magdeburg his grand experiment—eight horses pulling each way, unable to detach the two hemispheres of a big globe out of which the air had been pumped. Then Mariotte in France, and Boyle in England, formulated the “Law,” which the French call Mariotte’s, the English Boyle’s, that gases are compressible, and that their bulk diminishes in proportion to the pressure. But electricity with its wonders threw pneumatics into the background; and, till Faraday, nothing was done in the way of verifying Boyle’s Law except by Van Marum, a Haarlem chemist, who, happening to try whether the Law applied to gaseous ammonia, was astonished to find that under a pressure of six atmospheres that gas was suddenly changed219 into a colorless liquid. On Van Marum’s experiment Lavoisier based his famous generalisation that all bodies will take any of the three forms, solid, fluid, gaseous, according to the temperature to which they are subjected—i.e., that the densest rock is only a solidified vapor, and the lightest gas only a vaporised solid. Nothing came of it, however, till that wonderful bookbinder’s apprentice, Faraday, happened to read Mrs. Marcet’s Conversations while he was stitching it for binding, and thereby had his mind opened; and, managing to hear some of Sir H. Davy’s lectures, wrote such a good digest of them, accompanied by such a touching letter—”Do free me from a trade that I hate, and let me be your bottle-washer”—that the good-hearted Cornishman took the poor blacksmith’s son, then twenty-one years old, after eight years of book-stitching, and made him his assistant, “keeping him in his place,” nevertheless, which, for an assistant in those days, meant feeding with the servants, except by special invitation.

This was in 1823, and next year Faraday had liquefied chlorine, and soon did the same for a dozen more gases, among them protoxide of nitrogen, to liquefy which, at a temperature of fifty degrees Fahrenheit, was needed a pressure of sixty atmospheres—sixty times the pressure of the air—i.e., nine hundred pounds on every square inch. Why, the strongest boilers, with all their thickness of iron, their rivets, their careful hammering of every plate to guard against weak places, are only calculated to stand about ten atmospheres; no wonder then that Faraday, with nothing but thick glass tubes, had thirteen explosions, and that a fellow-experimenter was killed while repeating one of his experiments. However, he gave out his “Law,” that any gas may be liquefied if you put pressure enough on it. That “if” would have left matters much where they were had not Bussy, in 1824, argued: “Liquid is the middle state between gaseous and solid. Cold turns liquids into solids; therefore, probably cold will turn gases into liquids.” He proved this for sulphurous acid, by simply plunging a bottle of it in salt and ice; and it is by combining the two, cold and pressure, that all subsequent220 results have been attained. How to produce cold, then, became the problem; and one way is by making steam. You cannot get steam without borrowing heat from something. Water boils at two hundred and twelve degrees Fahrenheit, and then you may go on heating and heating till one thousand degrees more heat have been absorbed before steam is formed. The thermometer, meanwhile, never rises above two hundred and twelve degrees, all this extra heat becoming what is called latent, and is probably employed in keeping asunder the particles which when closer together form water. The greater the expansive force, the more heat becomes latent or used up in this way. This explains the paradox that, while the steam from a kettle-spout scalds you, you may put your hand with impunity into the jet discharged from a high-pressure engine. The high-pressure steam, expanding rapidly when it gets out of confinement, uses up all its heat (makes it all “latent”) in keeping its particles distinct. It is the same with all other vapors: in expanding they absorb heat, and, therefore, produce cold; and, therefore, as many substances turn into steam at far lower temperatures than water does, this principle of “latent heat,” invented by Black, and, after long rejection, accepted by chemists, has been very helpful in the liquefying of gases by producing cold.

The simplest ice-machine is a hermetically-sealed bottle connected with an air-pump. Exhaust the air, and the water begins to boil and to grow cold. As the air is drawn off, the water begins to freeze; and if—by an ingenious device—the steam that it generates is absorbed into a reservoir of sulphuric acid, or any other substance which has a great affinity for watery vapor, a good quantity of ice is obtained. This is the practical use of liquefying gases; naturally, they all boil at temperatures much below that of the air, in which they exist in the vaporised state that follows after boiling. Take, therefore, your liquefied gas; let it boil and give off its steam. This steam, absorbing by its expansion all the surrounding heat, may be used to make ice, to cool beer-cellars, to keep meat fresh all the way from New Zealand, or—as has been largely done at221 Suez—to cool the air in tropical countries. Put pressure enough on your gas to turn it into a liquid state, at the same time carrying away by a stream of water the heat that it gives off in liquefying. Let this liquid gas into a “refrigerator,” where it boils and steams, and draws out the heat; and then by a sucking-pump drive it again into the compressor, and let the same process go on ad infinitum, no fresh material being needed, nothing, in fact, but the working of the pump. Sulphurous acid is a favorite gas, ammonia is another; and—besides the above practical uses—they have been employed in a number of startling experiments.

Perhaps the strangest of these is getting a bar of ice out of a red-hot platinum crucible. The object of using platinum is simply to resist the intense heat of the furnace in which the crucible is placed. Pour in sulphurous acid and then fill up with water. The cold raised by vaporising the acid is so intense that the water will freeze into a solid mass. Indeed, the temperature sometimes goes down to more than eighty degrees below freezing. A still more striking experiment is that resulting from the liquefying of nitrous oxide—protoxide of nitrogen, or laughing-gas. This gas needs, as was said, great pressure to liquefy it at an ordinary temperature. At freezing point only a pressure of thirty atmospheres is needed to liquefy it. It then boils if exposed to the air, radiating cold—or, rather, absorbing heat—till it falls to a temperature low enough to freeze mercury. But it still, wonderful to say, retains the property which, alone of all the gases, it shares with oxygen—of increasing combustion. A match that is almost extinguished burns up again quite brightly when thrust into a bag of ordinary laughing-gas; while a bit of charcoal, with scarcely a spark left in it, glows to the intensest white heat when brought in contact with this same gas in its liquid form, so that you have the charcoal at, say, two thousand degrees Fahrenheit, and the gas at some one hundred and fifty degrees below zero. Carbonic acid gas is just the opposite of nitrous oxide, in that it quenches fire and destroys life; but, when liquefied, it develops a like intense cold. Liquefy it and collect it under222 pressure, in strong cast-iron vessels, and then suddenly open a tap and allow the vapor to escape. In expanding, it grows so cold—or, strictly speaking, absorbs, makes latent, so much heat—that it produces a temperature low enough to turn it into fog and then into frozen fog, or snow. This snow can be gathered in iron vessels, and mixed with either it forms the strongest freezing mixture known, turning mercury into something like lead, so that you can beat the frozen metal with wooden mallets and can mould it into medals and such-like.

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

One result, at any rate, was established—that there is no law of compression like that named after Boyle or Mariotte, but that every gas behaves in a way of its own, without reference to any of the others, each having its own “critical point” of temperature, at which, under a certain pressure, it is neither liquid nor gaseous, but on the border-land between the two, and will remain in this condition so long as the temperature re223mains the same. Hence, air being just in this state of gaseo-liquid, the first step towards liquefying it must be to lower its temperature, and so get rid of its vapor by increasing its density. The plan adopted, both by Cailletet in Paris, and by Raoul Pictet (heir of a great scientific name) in Geneva, was to lower the temperature by letting off high-pressure steam. This had been so successful in the case of carbonic acid gas as to turn the vapor into snow; and in 1877 Cailletet pumped oxygen into a glass tube, until the pressure was equal to three hundred atmospheres. He then cooled it to four degrees Fahrenheit below zero, and, opening a valve, let out a jet of gaseous vapor, which, while expanding, caused intense cold, lowering the temperature some three hundred degrees, and turning the jet of vapor into fog. Here, then, was a partial liquefaction, and the same was effected in the case of nitrogen. Pictet did much the same thing. Having set up at Geneva a great ice-works (his refrigerating agency being sulphurous acid in a boiling state), he had all the necessary apparatus, and was able to subject oxygen to a pressure of three hundred and twenty atmospheres, and by means of carbonic acid boiling in vacuo, to cool the vessel containing it down to more than two hundred degrees Fahrenheit below zero. He could not watch the condition in which the gas was; but it was probably liquefied, for, when a valve was suddenly opened, it began to bubble furiously, and rushed out in the form of steam. Pictet thought he had also succeeded in liquefying hydrogen, the foggy vapor of the jet being of a steely grey color; for hydrogen has long been suspected to be a metal, of which water is an oxide, and hydrochloric acid a chloride. Nay, some solid fragments came out with the jet of vapor, and fell like small shot on the floor, and at first the sanguine experimenter thought he had actually solidified the lightest of all known substances. This, however, was a mistake; it was some portion of his apparatus which had got melted. Neither had the liquefaction of oxygen or nitrogen been actually witnessed, though the result had been seen in the jet of foggy vapor.

Cailletet was on the point of trying224 his experiment over again in vacuo, so as to get a lower temperature, when the telegrams from Wroblewski showed that the Pole had got the start of him. Along with a colleague, Obszewski, Cailletet’s disloyal pupil set ethylene boiling in vacuo, and so brought the temperature down to two hundred and seventy degrees Fahrenheit below zero. This was the lowest point yet reached, and it was enough to turn oxygen into a liquid a little less dense than water, having its “critical point” at about one hundred and sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit below zero. A few days after, nitrogen was liquefied by the same pair of experimenters, under greater atmospheric pressure at a somewhat higher temperature.

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

The French savans are not content with saying this. They are very indignant at Wroblewski stealing Cailletet’s crown just as it was going to be placed on the Frenchman’s head. It was sharp practice, for all that a scientific discoverer has to look to is the fame which he wins among men. The Academy took no notice of the interloping Poles, but awarded to Cailletet the Lacaze Prize, their secretary, M. Dumas, then lying sick at Cannes, expressing their opinion in the last letter he ever wrote. “It is Cailletet’s apparatus,” says M. Dumas, “which enabled the others to do what he was on the point of accomplishing. He, therefore, deserves the credit of invention; the others are merely clever and successful manipulators. What has been done is a great fact in the history of science, and it will link the name of Cailletet with those of Lavoisier and Faraday,” So far M. Dumas, who might, one fancies, have said something for Pictet, only a fortnight behind Cailletet in the experiment which practically liquefied oxygen. His case is quite different from Wroblewski’s, for he and Cailletet had been working quite independently, just as225 Leverrier and Adams had been when both discovered the new planet Neptune. Such coincidences so often happen when the minds of men are turned to the same subject. Well, the scientific world is satisfied now that the elements of air can be liquefied; but I want to see the air itself liquefied, as what it is—a mechanical, not a chemical compound. For from such liquefaction, one foresees a great many useful results. You might carry your air about with you to the bottom of mines or up in balloons; you might even, perhaps, store up enough by-and-by to last for a voyage to the moon.—All the Year Round.



In these days, when sanitation claims a large share of attention, and when questions relating to the public health are canvassed and discussed on all sides, it may be of service to ask what lessons are to be learned from the diet, habits, and customs of the Jews. It is not generally known that their health and longevity are superior to those of other races, a fact which has been noted by careful observers from early times in this and other countries. An experiment, extending over thousands of years, has been made as to the sanitary value of certain laws in the Mosaic code. The test has been applied in the most rigid way, and if it had failed at any period in their eventful history, their name alone, like that of the Assyrian and Babylonian, would have remained to testify to their existence as a nation. The three deadly enemies of mankind—war, famine, and pestilence—have at times been let loose upon them. They have stood firm as a rock against the crushing power of oppression, when exercised at the call of political or religious antipathy. They have been pursued with relentless persecution, from city to city, and from one country to another, in the name of our holy religion. Restricted as to their trade, singled out to bear the burden of special taxation, confined in the most miserable and unhealthy quarters of the towns where they were permitted to dwell, living in the constant fear of robbery without redress, of violence without succor, of poverty without relief, of assaults against their persons, honor, and religion without hope of protection; in spite of woe after woe coming upon them, like the227 waves of a pitiless sea, they have not been broken to pieces and swallowed up, leaving not a wreck behind. No other race has had the fiery trials that they have gone through, yet, like the three Hebrew youths in the furnace, the smell of fire is not found on them. To-day their bodily vigor is unequalled, and their moral and mental qualities are unsurpassed.

How has it happened that, after being compassed about for centuries with so many troubles, they have at the present time all the requisites that go to form a great nation, and are, in numbers, energy, and resources, on a level with their forefathers in the grandest period of their history? It is not enough to say that all this has come to pass according to the will of God, and that their continued existence is owing to His intervention on their behalf. No doubt it is a miracle in the sense that it is contrary to all human experience, for no other nation has lived through such perilous times of hardship and privation. But as it was in the wilderness so it has been in all their wanderings down the stream of time; the miracle was supplemented by the use of means, without which God’s purpose regarding them would have failed. The blessing of long life and health, promised to them by the mouth of Moses, has not been withheld. Several texts might be quoted, but one will suffice. In Deuteronomy iv. 40, we read,228 “Thou shall keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever.” With a promise so rich with blessing, conditional on their obedience, they have through all the ages been monuments of God’s faithfulness, and are to this day in the enjoyment of its advantages.

The following statistics, for which I am indebted to the kindness of Dr. A. Cohen, who has collected them from different sources, will serve to prove their superiority in respect of health and longevity. In the town of Fürth, according to Mayer, the average duration of life amongst the Christians was 26 years, and amongst the Jews 37 years. During the first five years of childhood the Christian death-rate was 14 per cent. and the Jewish was 10 per cent. The same proportion of deaths, it is said, exists in London. Neufville has found that in Frankfort the Jews live eleven years longer than the Christians, and that of those who reach the age of 70 years 13 are Christians and 27 are Jews. In Prussia, from 1822 to 1840, it has been ascertained that the Jewish population increased by 3-1/2 per cent. more than the Christian, there being 1 birth in 28 of the Jews to 1 in 25 of the Christians, and 1 death in 40 of the Jews to 1 in 34 of the Christians.

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

Their unusual freedom from disease of particular kinds has been often noticed, and amounts nearly to immunity from certain prevalent maladies, such as those of the scrofulous and tuberculous type, which are answerable for about a fifth of the total mortality. Their com229parative safety in the midst of destructive epidemics has often been the subject of comment, and was formerly used as evidence against them, on the malicious charge of disseminating disease. At the present day, and in consonance with the spirit of the age, the matter has come within the scope of the scientific inquirer, with the view of ascertaining the cause of this exceptional condition.

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


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

Before the slain animal is pronounced kosher, or fit for food, a careful search is made by experts for any evidence of disease. These men have to satisfy the Shechita Board, which takes cognisance of these matters, that they have a competent knowledge of morbid structures before being authorised to affix the official seal, without which no meat is considered wholesome. That this practice is far from being unnecessary may be gathered from the fact that in a recent half-yearly report presented to the board the following particulars occur:—Oxen slain, 12,473, kosher, 7,649; calves slain, 2,146, kosher, 1,569; sheep slain, 23,022, kosher, 14,580. These numbers show that out of 37 beasts slain 14 were rejected as unsound, and not allowed to be eaten by the Jew. The less-favored Christian, not being under such dietary restrictions, would have no hesitation in buying and consuming this condemned meat. It is even alleged that a larger proportion of diseased ani231mals than is here stated is exposed for sale in the Metropolitan Meat Market, and used as food by purchasers of all classes. Whether this be so or not, the fact remains that the Jewish portion of the community have the sole benefit of arrangements specially designed for the maintenance of health. This state of things demands urgent attention, and has surely a claim prior to many other subjects which occupy the time of our legislators.

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

Modern science has discovered in the circulation of diseased animals microscopic organisms of different forms, each characteristic of some particular disease. They are parasitic in their nature, growing and multiplying in the living being, though they are capable of preserving their vitality outside the body. Some, like the bacillus, which is supposed to cause tuberculosis, may even be dried without losing their vital properties, and on entering the system be able to produce the disease proper to them. Others will develop in dead organic substances, but increase more abundantly in living structures. They are very plentiful in the atmosphere of certain localities, and settling on exposed wounded surfaces, or finding their way into the lungs and effecting a lodgment in the blood and tissues, they generate, each after its kind, specific infective diseases. When the blood becomes impregnated by any special organism, a drop may suffice to propagate the disease by inoculation in another animal. The mode of entrance of these morbid germs may be by inhalation, by inoculation, and by the ingestion of poisonous particles with the food. Any person living in unhygienic circumstances, and whose system is from any cause in a condition suited for the reception of these organisms, cannot safely eat meat which may contain them in the blood. In the splenic fever of cattle, for in232stance, which is communicable to man, these germs are exceedingly numerous, and the same may be said of the other specific febrile diseases. Eventually there is a deposit of morbid material in the tissues, where the process of development goes on till a great change in the once healthy structures is effected.

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

The examination of the carcass is also necessary with the view of determining the sound or unsound condition of the meat. At one time it was doubted that the complaints from which animals suffer could be communicated by eating their flesh, but the evidence of eminent authorities has definitely settled the question. Such bovine diseases as the several varieties of anthrax, the foot and mouth disease, and especially tuberculosis, are now believed to be transmissible through ingested meat. It has been proved that the pig fed with tuberculous flesh becomes itself tuberculous, and the inference is fair that man might acquire the disease if subjected to the same ordeal. This last disease is very common amongst animals, and is now recognised as identical with that which is so fatal to the human race. It is considered highly probable that the widespread mortality caused by this malady is due in a great degree to the consumption of the milk and meat of tuberculous animals. That the milk supply should be contaminated is a very serious affair for the young, who are chiefly fed on it. The regular inspection of all dairies by skilled officials is imperatively necessary233 to ward off a terrible and growing evil; just as a similar inspection of slaughter-houses is demanded in the interests of the meat-eating portion of the community.

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

Another point that may be mentioned is the provision made by the Jewish Board of Guardians for the indigent poor. It has been said that no known Jew is allowed to die in a workhouse. When poverty, or sickness involving the234 loss of his livelihood, occurs, charity steps in and bestows the help which places him above want, and tides him over his bodily or pecuniary distress. The mother is also seasonably provided with medical and other comforts when her pressing need is greatest. In this way they are saved from the diseases incidental to lack of food, and after an attack of illness are sooner restored to health than the majority of the poor, who linger on in a state of convalescence little better than the ailment itself, and often sink into permanent bad health from the scanty supply of the necessary nourishment which their exhausted frames require.

In enumerating the causes which have made the Jewish people so strong and vigorous, particular mention must be made of their observance of the Sabbath. This day was appointed for the double purpose of securing a set portion of time for the worship of God, and of affording rest to the body wearied with its six days’ labors. The secularising of this holy day in the history of the French nation has demonstrated the need of a day of rest and the wisdom of its institution by a merciful Creator, even before there was a man to till the ground. Obedience to this primeval law, renewed amid the thunders of Sinai, and repeated on many subsequent occasions by Moses and the prophets, is still held by the Jews to be as strictly binding on them as any other religious obligation. Of the physical blessings derivable from keeping the Sabbath day they have had the benefit for many long centuries when other nations were sunk in heathenism and ignorant of the divine ordinance made to lighten their labors and recruit their strength. In Christian countries where the Sunday is kept sacred, or observed as a holiday, another day of rest in addition to their own Sabbath is obtained, thus fortifying them against the crushing toil and nervous strain of modern life. The loss accruing from this enforced abstinence from business worries is more than counter-balanced by the gain in nerve power with which periodical cessation from any harassing employment is compensated. This is doubtless one of the factors which have helped to invigorate both mind and body, and to develop in235 them those high qualities for which they are justly distinguished.

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

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


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



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

To these marvellous reconstructions238 another of hardly less interest and importance must now be added. The most notable archæological achievement of the last ten years has been the recovery and installation of the Hittite Empire as one of the earliest and most powerful of the great Oriental monarchies. Dr. Wright, in the opportune volume whose title stands at the head of this notice, has established a claim to have rescued from probable destruction some of the most important Hittite inscriptions; to have been the first to suggest the Hittite origin of the inscribed stones from Hamath whose discovery in 1872 excited so much speculation; and has now added to our obligations by placing before the world in a convenient form nearly the whole of the available materials bearing on the question of Hittite history and civilization.

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

Till within the last twenty years all239 men had been used to think of the Hittites as an obscure Canaanitish tribe, of much the same importance as the Hivites or the Perizzites, with whom it was the custom to class them. It is true that if read between the lines, as we are now able to read it, the Biblical narrative indicated that while other Canaanitish tribes were of small power and importance, and were soon exterminated or absorbed into the Hebrew nationality, the Hittites stood on altogether another footing. The Hittites are the first and the last of these tribes to appear on the scene. As early as the time of Abraham we find them lords of the soil at Hebron; and in the time of Solomon, and even of Elisha, they are a mighty people, inhabiting a region to the north of Palestine, and distinguished by the possession of numerous war chariots, then the chief sign of military power. Though we are now able to perceive that this is the true signification of the references to them in the old Testament, yet it was from the newly recovered monuments of Egypt and Assyria that the facts were actually gleaned, and it was shown that for more than a thousand years the Hittite power was comparable to that of Assyria and Egypt.

It is only by slow degrees that this result has been established. The first light came from Abusimbel, in Nubia, midway between the first and second cataracts of the Nile, where Rameses II., the most magnificent of the Egyptian kings, at a time when the Hebrews were still toiling in Egyptian bondage, caused a vast precipice of rock to be carved into a stupendous temple-cave, to whose walls he committed the annals of his reign and the records of his distant campaigns. On one of the walls of this temple is pictured a splendid battle scene, occupying a space of 57 feet by 24, and containing upwards of 1100 figures. This represents, as we learn from the hieroglyphic explanation, the great battle of Kadesh, fought with the “vile people of the Kheta”—a battle which also forms the theme of the poem of Pentaur, the oldest epic in the world, still extant in a papyrus now preserved in the British Museum. In spite of the grandiloquent boasts of these records, we gather that the battle was indecisive; that Rameses had to retire240 from the siege of Kadesh, narrowly escaping with his life; the campaign being ended by the conclusion of a treaty on equal terms with the King of the Kheta—a treaty which was followed a year later, by the espousal by Rameses of a daughter of the hostile king.

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

It seemed strange that no monuments should have been discovered belonging to a people powerful enough to withstand for twelve centuries the assaults of Egypt and Assyria. At last, in 1872, certain inscriptions from Hamath on the Orontes, in a hieroglyphic picture-writing of a hitherto unknown character, were published in Burton and Drake’s “Unexplored Syria.” Dr. Wright, in 1874, published an article in “The British and Foreign Evangelical Review,” suggesting that these monuments were in reality records of the Hittite race. This conjecture, though much ridiculed241 at the time, has gradually fought its way to universal acceptance, mainly owing to the skilful advocacy of Professor Sayce, who, in ignorance of Dr. Wright’s suggestion, arrived independently at the same conclusion, and shortly afterwards identified a monument at Karabel, near Ephesus, described by Herodotus as a figure of Sesostris, as the effigy of a Hittite king. Subsequent discoveries of Hittite monuments in other parts of Asia Minor, taken in conjunction with the Biblical notices, and the Egyptian and Assyrian records, prove that at some remote period a great Hittite empire must have extended from Hebron to the Black Sea, and from the Euphrates to the Ægean; while it is now generally admitted that, to some extent, the art, the science, and the religion of prehistoric Greece must have been derived ultimately from Babylon, having been transmitted, first to the Hittite city of Carchemish, and thence to Lydia, through the Hittite realm in Asia Minor. It is now believed by many scholars of repute that the Ephesian Artemis must be identified with the great Hittite goddess Atargatis, and ultimately with the Babylonian Istar; that the Niobe of Homer, whose effigy may still be seen on Mount Sipylus, near Smyrna, was an image of Atargatis, whose armed priestesses gave rise to the Greek legend of the Amazons, a nation of female warriors; that the Euboic silver stand242ard was based upon the mina of Carchemish; and that in all probability the characters found on Trojan whorls by Schliemann, as well as certain anomalous letters in the Lycian alphabet, and even the mysterious Cypriote syllabary itself were simply cursive forms descended from the Hittite hieroglyphs used in the inscriptions on the pseudo-Niobe and the pseudo-Sesostris in Lydia, and pictured on the stones obtained by Dr. Wright from Hamath, and by Mr. George Smith from Carchemish.

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

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



Among all the changes which are taking place in our conceptions of various parts of the universe, there is none more profound, or at first sight more disquieting, than the change which, at the touch of Science, is stealing over our conception of ourselves. For each of us seems to be no longer a sovereign state but a federal union; the kingdom of our mind is insensibly dissolving into a republic. Instead of the ens rationale of the schoolmen, protected from irreverent treatment by its metaphysical abstraction; instead of Descartes’ impalpable soul, seated bravely in its pineal gland, and ruling from that tiny fortress body and brain alike, we have physiologist and psychologist uniting in pulling us to pieces,—in analyzing into their sensory elements our loftiest ideas,—in tracing the diseases of memory, volition, intelligence, which gradually distort us past recognition,—in showing how one may become in a moment a different person altogether, by passing through a fit of somnambulism, or receiving a smart blow on the head. Our past self, with its stores of registered experience, continually revived in memory, seems to be held to resemble a too self-conscious phonograph, which should enjoy an agreeable sense of mental effort as its244 handle turned, and should preface its inevitable repetitions by some triumphant allusion to its own acumen. Our present self, this inward medley of sensations and desires, is likened to that mass of creeping things which is termed an “animal colony,”—a myriad rudimentary consciousnesses, which acquire a sort of corporate unity because one end of the amalgam has to go first and find the way.

Or one may say that the old view started from the sane mind as the normal, permanent, definite entity from which insanity was the unaccountable aberration; while in the new view it is rather sanity which needs to be accounted for; since the moral and physical being of each of us is built up from incoördination and incoherence, and the microcosm of man is but a micro-chaos held in some semblance of order by a lax and swaying hand, the wild team which a Phaeton is driving, and which must needs soon plunge into the sea. Theories like this are naturally distasteful to those who care for the dignity of man. And such readers may perhaps turn aside in impatience when I say that much of this paper will be occupied by some reasons for my belief that this analysis of human consciousness must be carried further still; that we must face the idea of concurrent streams of being, flowing alongside but unmingled within us, and with either of which our active consciousness may, under appropriate circumstances, be identified. Many people have heard, for instance, of Dr. Azam’s patient, Félida X., who passes at irregular intervals from one apparent personality into another, memory and character changing suddenly as she enters her first or her second state of being. Such cases as hers I believe to be but extreme examples of an alternation which is capable of being evoked in all of us, and which in some slight measure is going on in us every day. Our cerebral focus (to use a metaphor) often shifts slightly, and is capable of shifting far. Or let me compare my active consciousness to a steam-tug, and the ideas and memories which I summon into the field of attention to the barges which the tug tows after it. Then the concurrent streams of my being are like Arve and Rhone, contiguous but245 hardly mingling their blue and yellow waves. I tug my barges down the Rhone, my consciousness is a blue consciousness, but the tail barge swings into the Arve and back again, and brings traces of the potential yellow consciousness back into the blue. In Félida’s case tug and barges and all swerve suddenly from one stream into the other; the blue consciousness becomes the yellow in a moment and altogether. Transitions may be varied in a hundred ways, and it may happen that the life-streams mix together, and that there is a memory of all.

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

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

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


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

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

Automatic writing in its simplest form is merely a variety of the tricks of unconscious action to which, in excited moments, we are all of us prone. The surplus nervous energy escapes along some habitual channel—movements of the hand, for instance, are continued or initiated; and among such hand-movements—drumming of tunes, piano-playing, drawing, and the like—writing naturally holds a prominent place. There247 is incipient graphic automatism when the nervous student scribbles Greek words on the margin of the paper on which he is striving to produce a copy of iambics. If the paper be suddenly withdrawn he will have no notion what he has written. And more, the words written will sometimes be imaginary words, which have needed some faint unconscious choice in order to preserve a look of real words in their arrangement of letters. A complete graphic automatism is seen in various morbid states. A man attacked by a slight epileptiform seizure while in the act of writing will sometimes continue to write a few sentences unconsciously, which, although probably nonsensical, will often be correct in spelling and grammar. Again, in the case of certain cerebral troubles, the patient will write the wrong word—say, “table” for “chair;”—or at least some meaningless sequence of letters, in which, however, each letter is properly formed. In each of these cases, therefore, there is graphic automatism. And they incidentally show that to write words in a sudden state of unconsciousness, or to write words against one’s will, is not necessarily a proof that any intelligence is at work besides one’s own.

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

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

My friend Mr. A., who is much interested in mental problems, has practised introspection with assiduity and care. He finds that if he fixes his attention on some given word, and then allows his hand to rest laxly in the writing attitude, his hand presently writes the word without any conscious volition248 of his own; the sensation being as though the hand were moved by some power other than himself. This happens whether his eyes are open or shut, so that the gaze is not necessary to fix the attention. If he wills not to write, he can remove his hand and avert the action. But if he chooses a movement simpler than writing, for instance, if he holds out his open hand and strongly imagines that it will close, a kind of spasm ensues, and the hand closes, even though he exert all his voluntary force to keep it open.

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

First we have to find an automatic writer. Perhaps one person in a hundred possesses this tendency; that is, if he sits for half an hour on a dozen evenings, amid quiet surroundings and in an expectant frame of mind, with his249 hand on pencil or planchette, he will begin to write words which he has not consciously thought of. But if he sees the words as he writes them he will unavoidably guess at what is coming, and spoil the spontaneous flow. Some persons can avoid this by reading a book while they write, and so keeping eyes and thoughts away from the message.29 Another plan is to use a planchette; which is no occult instrument, but simply a thin piece of board supported on two castors, and on a third leg consisting of a pencil which just touches the paper. A planchette has two advantages over the ordinary pencil; namely, that a slighter impulse will start it, and that it is easier to write (or rather scrawl) without seeing or feeling what you are writing. These precautions, of course, are for the operator’s own satisfaction; they are no proof to other people that he is not writing the words intentionally. That can only be proved to others if he writes facts demonstrably unknown to his conscious self; as in the telepathic cases to which we shall come further on. But as yet I am only giving fresh examples of a kind of mental action which physiology already recognizes: examples, moreover, which any reader who will take the requisite trouble can probably reproduce, either in his own person or in the person of some trusted friend.

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


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

Now this case suggests several curious analogies. First, there is an analogy with those cases of double consciousness where the patient in the “second state” has to learn to write anew. He learns more rapidly than he learnt as a child, because the necessary adjustments do already exist in his brain, although he cannot use them in the normal manner. So here, too, the hidden other self was learning to write, but learnt more rapidly than a child learns, inasmuch as the process was now but the transference of an organized memory from one stream of the inner being to another. But, secondly, we must observe (and now I am referring to many other cases besides the case cited) that the hidden self does not learn to write just as a child learns, but rather by passing through the stages first of atactic, then of amnemonic agraphy. That is to say, first, the pencil scrawls vaguely, like the patient who cannot form a single letter; then it writes the wrong letters or the wrong words, like the patient who writes blunderingly, or chooses the letters JICMNOS for James Simmonds, JASPENOS for James Pascoe, &c.; ultimately it writes correctly, though very likely (as here, and in a case of Dr. Macnish’s) the handwriting of the secondary self30 (if I may suggest a needed term) is different from the handwriting of the primary.

Once more: the constant repetition of the same word (which I have seen to continue with automatic writers even for months) is more characteristic of aphasia than of agraphy. And we may just remark in passing that vocal automatism presents the same analysis with morbid aphasia which graphic automatism presents with morbid agraphy. When the enthusiasts in Irving’s church first yelled vaguely, then shouted some meaningless words many hundred times, and then251 gave a “trance-address,” their secondary self (I may suggest) was attaining articulate speech through just the stages through which an aphasic patient will sometimes pass.31 The parallel is at least a curious one; and if the theory which traces the automatic speech of aphasic patients to the right (or less-used) cerebral hemisphere be confirmed, a singular light might be thrown on the locus of the second self.

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

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

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


“‘What is it,’ said Mr. A., ‘that now moves my pen?’ Religion. ‘What is religion?’ Worship. Here arose a difficulty. Although I did not expect either of these answers, yet, when the first few letters had been written, I expected the remainder of the word. This might vitiate the result. But now, as if the intelligent wished to prove by the manner of answering, that the answer could be due to it alone, and in no part to mere expediency, my next question received a singular reply. ‘Worship of what?’ Wbwbwbwb. ‘What is the meaning of wb?’ Win, buy. ‘What?’ Knowledge. On the second day the first question was—‘What is man?’ Flise. My pen was at first very violently agitated, which had not been the case on the first day. It was quite a minute before it wrote as above. On the analogy of wb I proceeded: ‘What does F stand for?’ Fesi. ‘L?’ ‘;Le.’ ‘I?’ ‘;Ivy.’ ‘S?’ Sir. ‘E?’ Eye. ‘Is Fesi le ivy, sir, eye, an anagram?’ Yes. ‘How many words in the answer?’ Four.

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

“‘What is man?’ Tefi, Hasl, Esble, Lies. ‘Is this an anagram?’ Yes. ‘How many words in the answer?’ Five. ‘Must I interpret it myself?’ Try. Presently I got out, Life is the less able. Next I tried the previous anagram, and at last obtained Every life is yes.”

Other anagrams also were given, as wfvs yoitet (Testify! vow!); ieb; iov ogf wle (I go, vow belief!); and in reply to the question, “How shall I believe?” neb 16 vbliy ev 86 e earf ee (Believe by fear even! 1866). How unlikely it is that all this was due to mere accident may be seen by any one who will take letters (the vowels and consonants roughly proportioned to the frequency of their actual use), and try to make up a series of handfuls completely into words possessing any grammatical coherence or intelligible meaning. Now in Mr. A.’s case all the professed anagrams were real anagrams (with one error of i for e); some of the sentences were real answers to the questions; and not even the absurdest sentences were wholly meaningless. In the two first given, for instance, Mr. A. was inclined to trace a reference to books lately read; the second sentence alluding to such doctrines as that “Death solves mysteries which life cannot unlock;” the first to Spinoza’s tenet that all existence is affirmation of the Deity. We seem therefore to see the secondary self struggling to express abstract thought253 with much the same kind of incoherence with which we have elsewhere seen it struggle to express some concrete symbol. To revert to our former parallel, we may say that “Every life is yes” bears something the same relation to a thought of Spinoza’s which the letters JICMNOS bear to the name James Simmonds.

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

In Mr. A.’s case, however, some persons might think that the proof of an independent intelligence went much further than this; for his hand wrote anagrams which his waking brain took an hour or more to unriddle. And certainly there could hardly be a clearer proof that the answers did not pass through the writer’s primary consciousness; that they proceeded, if from himself at all, from a secondary self such as254 I have been describing. But further than this we surely need not go. The answers contain no unknown facts, no new materials, and there seems no reason à priori why the dream-self should not puzzle the waking self; why its fantastic combinations of old elements of memory should not need some pains to unravel. I may perhaps be permitted to quote in illustration a recent dream of my own, to which I doubt not that some of my readers can supply parallel instances. I dreamt that I saw written in gold on a chapel wall some Greek hexameters, which, I was told, were the work of an eminent living scholar. I gazed at them with much respect, but dim comprehension, and succeeded in carrying back into waking memory the bulk of one line:—ὁ μὲν κατὰ γᾶν θαλερὸν κύσε δακνόμενον πῦρ. On waking, it needed some little thought to show me that κατὰ γᾶν was a solecism for ὑπὸ γᾶν, revived from early boyhood, and that the line meant: “He indeed beneath the earth embraced the ever-burning, biting fire.” Further reflection reminded me that I had lately been asked to apply to the Professor in question for an inscription to be placed over the tomb of a common acquaintance. The matter had dropped, and I had not thought of it again. But here, I cannot doubt, was my inner self’s prevision of that unwritten epitaph; although the drift of it certainly showed less tact and fine feeling than my scholarly friend would have exhibited on such an occasion.

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

But we have not yet done with Mr. A.’s experiences. Yielding to the suggestion that these anagrams were the work of some intelligence without him, he placed himself in the mental attitude255 of colloquy with some unknown being. Note the result:

“Who art thou? Clelia. Thou art a woman? Yes. Hast thou ever lived upon the earth? No. Wilt thou? Yes. When? Six years. Wherefore dost thou speak with me? E if Clelia el.

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

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

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


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

“On the fourth day,” says Mr. A., “I began my questioning in the same exalted mood, but to my surprise did not get the same answer. ‘Wherefore,’ I asked, ‘dost thou speak with me?’ (The answer was a wavy line, denoting repetition, and meaning.—‘Wherefore dost thou speak with me?’) ‘Do I answer myself?’ Yes. ‘Is Clelia here?’ No. ‘Who is it, then, now here?’ Nobody. ‘Does Clelia exist?’ No. ‘With whom did I speak yesterday?’ No one. ‘Do souls exist in another world?’ Mb. ‘What does mb mean? ’May be.

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

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

I might mention many other strange varieties of graphic automatism; as reversed script, so written as to be read in a mirror;32 alternating styles of handwriting, symbolic arabesque, and the like. But I must hasten on to the object towards which I am mainly tending, which is to show, not so much the influence exercised by a man’s own mind on itself as the influence exercised by one man’s mind on another’s. We have been watching, so to say, the psychic wave as it washed up deep-sea products on the open shore. But the interest will be keener still if we find that wave washing up the products of some far-off clime; if we discover that there has been a profound current with no surface257 trace—a current propagated by an unimagined impulse, and obeying laws as yet unknown.

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

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

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

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

In accordance with analogy, there258fore, we may expect to find that automatic writing—this new glimpse into our deep-sea world—will afford us some fresh proof of currents which set obscurely towards us from the depths of minds other than our own. And we find, I believe, that this is so. Had space permitted it, I should have liked to detail some transitional cases, to have shown by what gradual steps we discover that it is not always one man’s intelligence alone which is concerned in the message given, that an infusion of facts known to some spectator only may mingle in the general tenor which the writer’s mind supplies. Especially I should have wished to describe some attempts at this kind of thought-transference attended with only slight or partial success. For the mind justly hesitates to give credence to a palmary group of experiments unless it has been prepared for them by following some series of gradual suggestions and approximate endeavor.

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

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

“Being desirous,” says the first entry in Mr. Newnham’s note-book, “of investigating accurately the phenomena of ‘planchette,’ myself and my wife have agreed to carry out a series of systematic experiments, in order to259 ascertain the conditions under which the instrument is able to work. To this end the following rules are strictly observed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

“The subject was resumed on a later day.

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

“(119) Whose spirit? Wife’s brain.

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

“(190) Why are you not always influenced by what I think? Wife knows sometimes what you think. (191) How does wife know it? When her brain is excited, and has not been much tried before. (192) But by what means are my thoughts conveyed to her brain? Electrobiology. (193) What is electrobiology? No one knows. (194) But do not you know? No, wife does not know.

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

Mr. Newnham obtained some curious results by questioning “planchette”, on Masonic archæology—a subject which he had long studied, but of which Mrs. Newnham knew nothing. It is to be observed, moreover, that throughout the261 experiments Mrs. Newnham “was quite unable to follow the motions of the planchette. Often she only touched it with a single finger; but even with all her fingers resting on the board she never had the slightest idea of what words were being traced out,” In this case, therefore, we have Mrs. Newnham ignorant at once of all three points:—of what was the question asked; of what the true answer would have been; and of what answer was actually being written. Under these circumstances the answer showed a mixture—

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

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

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

I give an example:—

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

In this place, however, it will be enough to say that the real cause for surprise would have been if our secondary self had not exhibited a character in some way different from that which we recognize as our own. Whatever other factors may enter into a man’s character, two of the most important are undoubtedly his store of memories and his cænesthesia, or the sum of the obscure sensations of his whole physical structure. When either of these is suddenly altered, character changes too—a change for an example of which we need scarcely look further than our recollection of the moral obliquities and incoherences of an ordinary dream. Our personality may be dyed throughout with the same color, but the apparent tint will vary with the contexture of each absorptive element within. And not graphic automatism only, but other263 forms of muscular and vocal automatism must be examined and compared before we can form even an empirical conception of that hidden agency, which is ourselves, though we know it not. In the meantime I shall, I think, be held to have shown that, in the vast majority of cases where spiritualists are prone to refer automatic writing to some unseen intelligence, there is really no valid ground for such an ascription. I am, indeed, aware that some cases of a different kind are alleged to exist—cases where automatic writing has communicated facts demonstrably not known to the writer or to any one present. How far these cases can satisfy the very rigorous scrutiny to which they ought obviously to be subjected is a question which I may perhaps find some other opportunity of discussing.

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

Startling as this conclusion is, it will not be novel to those who have followed the cognate experiments on other forms of thought-transference detailed in the “Proceedings” of the Society for Psychical Research.33 And be it noted that264 our formula, “Mind can influence mind independently of the recognized organs of sense,” has been again and again foreshadowed by illustrious thinkers in the past. It is, for instance, but a more generalized expression of Cuvier’s dictum, “that a communication can under certain circumstances be established between the nervous systems of two persons.” Such communication, indeed, like other mental phenomena, may be presumed to have a neural as well as a psychical aspect; and if we prefer to use the word mind rather than brain, it is because the mental side is that which primarily presents itself for investigation, and in such a matter it is well to avoid even the semblance of theory until we have established fact.

Before concluding, let us return for a moment to the popular apprehensions to which my opening paragraphs referred. Has not some reason been shown for thinking that these fears were premature? that they sprang from too ready an assumption that all the discoveries of psycho-physics would reveal us as smaller and more explicable things, and that the analysis of man’s personality would end265 in analysing man away? It is not, on the other hand, at least possible that this analysis may reveal also faculties of unlooked-for range, and powers which our conscious self was not aware of possessing? A generation ago there were many who resented the supposition that man had sprung from the ape. But on reflection most of us have discerned that this repugnance came rather from pride than wisdom; and that with the race, as with the individual, there is more true hope for him who has risen by education from the beggar-boy than for him who has fallen by transgression from the prince. And now once more it seems possible that a more searching analysis of our mental constitution may reveal to us not a straitened and materialized, but a developing and expanding view of the “powers that lie folded up in man.” Our best hope, perhaps, should be drawn from our potentialities rather than our perfections; and the doubt whether we are our full selves already may suggest that our true subjective unity may wait to be realized elsewhere.—Contemporary Review.



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

It is evident that the first and most important point to be decided, is: “What is the just and moral attitude of man towards the lower animals?” or to put the question in another form: “What are the rights of animals as against man?” Till these questions are answered with some approach to definiteness, we clearly shall float about in vague generalities. Formerly, animals had no rights; they have very few now in some parts of the East. Man exercised his power and cruelty upon them with little or no blame from the mass of his fellows. The improved sentiment in this respect is one of the best proofs of progress that we have to show. Cruelty to animals is not only punished by law, but reprobated, we may believe—in spite of occasional brutalities—by general public opinion. The267 point on which precision is required is, how far this reformed sentiment is to extend? Does it allow us to use animals (even to the extent of eating them) for our own purposes, on the condition of treating them well on the whole, of not inflicting upon them unnecessary pain; or should it logically lead to complete abstention from meddling with them at all, from interfering with their liberty, from making them work for us, and supplying by their bodies a chief article of our food? Only the extreme sect of vegetarians maintains this latter view, and with vegetarians we are not for the moment concerned; and I am not aware that even vegetarians oppose the labor of animals for the uses of man. Now, what I would wish to point out is, that if we do allow the use of animals by man, it is a practical impossibility to prevent the occasional, or even the frequent infliction of great pain and suffering upon them, at times amounting to cruelty; that if the infliction of cruelty is a valid argument against the practice of vivisection, it is a valid argument against a number of other practices, which nevertheless go unchallenged. The general public has a right to ask the opponents of vivisection why they are so peremptory in denouncing one, and relatively a small form of cruelty, while they are silent and passive in reference to other and much more common forms. We want to know the reason of what appears a very great and palpable inconsistency. We could understand people who said, “You have no more right to enslave, kill, and eat animals than men; à fortiori, you may not vivisect them.” But it is not easy to see how those who do not object, apparently, to the numberless cruel usages to which the domesticated animals are inevitably subjected by our enslavement of them, yet pass these all by and fix their eyes exclusively on one minute form of cruelty, singling that out for exclusive obloquy and reprobation. Miss Cobbe (Times, Jan. 6) says, “The whole practice (of vivisection) starts from a wrong view of the use of the lower animals, and of their relations to us.” That may be very true, but I question if Miss Cobbe had sufficiently considered the number of “practices” which her principles should lead her to pronounce268 as equally starting from a wrong view of the use of the lower animals, and of their relation to us.

It is clear that the anti-vivisectionists are resolute in refusing the challenge repeatedly made to them, either to denounce the cruelties of sport or to hold their peace about the cruelties of vivisection. One sees the shrewdness but hardly the consistency or the courage of their policy in this respect. Sport is a time-honored institution, the amusement of the “fine old English gentleman,” most respectable, conservative, and connected with the landed interest; hostility to it shows that you are a low radical fellow, quite remote from the feeling of good society. Sport is therefore let alone. The lingering agony and death of the wounded birds, the anguish of the coursed hare, the misery of the hunted fox, even when not aggravated by the veritable auto da fé of smoking or burning him out if he has taken to earth, the abominable cruelty of rabbit traps; these forms of cruelty and “torture,” inasmuch as their sole object is the amusement of our idle classes, do not move the indignant compassion of the anti-vivisectionist. The sportsman may steal a horse when the biologist may not look over a hedge. The constant cruelty to horses by ill-fitting harness, over-loading, and over-driving must distress every human mind. A tight collar which presses on the windpipe and makes breathing a repeated pain must in its daily and hourly accumulation produce an amount of suffering which few vivisectionists could equal if they tried. Look at the forelegs of cab horses, especially of the four-wheelers on night service, and mark their knees “over,” as it is called, which means seriously diseased joint, probably never moved without pain. The efforts of horses to keep their feet in “greasy” weather on the wood pavement are horrible to witness. To such a nervous animal as the horse the fear of falling is a very painful emotion; yet hundreds of omnibuses tear along at express speed every morning and evening, with loads which only the pluck of the animals enables them to draw, and not a step of the journey between the City and the West End is probably made without the presence of this painful emotion. Every269 day, in some part of the route, a horse falls. Then occurs one of the most repulsive incidents of the London streets, the gaping crowd of idlers, through which is heard the unfailing prescription to “sit on his head,” promptly carried out by some officious rough, who has no scruples as to the “relations of the lower animals to us.” Again, in war the sufferings and consumption of animals is simply frightful. Field-officers—some of whom, it appears, are opposed to vivisection—are generally rather proud, or they used to be, of having horses “shot under them.” But this cannot occur without considerable torture to the horses. The number of camels which slipped and “split up” in the Afghan war has been variously stated between ten and fifteen thousand. In either case animal suffering must have been on a colossal scale. Now the point one would like to see cleared up is, why this almost boundless field of animal suffering is ignored and the relatively minute amount of it produced in the dissecting-rooms of biologists so loudly denounced.

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

With regard to cattle, sheep, and pigs, the object of the operation is to270 hasten growth, to increase size, and to improve the flavor of the meat. The mutton, beef, and pork on which we feed are, with rare exceptions, the flesh of animals who have been submitted to the painful operation in question. In the case of the female pig the corresponding operation is particularly severe; while as to fowls, the pain inflicted was so excruciating in the opinion of an illustrious young physiologist, whom science still mourns, that he on principle abstained from eating the flesh of the capon.

Now there is no doubt that here we have vivisection in its most extensive and harsh form. More animals are subjected to it in one year than have been vivisected by biologists in half-a-century. It need not be said that anæsthetics are not used, and if they were or could be they would not assuage the suffering which follows the operation. It will surely be only prudent for the opponents of scientific vivisection to inform us why they are passive and silent with regard to bucolic vivisection. They declare that knowledge obtained by the torture of animals is impure, unholy, and vitiated at its source, and they reject it with many expressions of scorn. What do they say to their daily food which is obtained by the same means? They live by the results of vivisection on the largest scale—the food they eat—and they spend a good portion of their lives thus sustained in denouncing vivisection on the smallest scale because it only produces knowledge. It is true that they are not particular to conceal their suspicion that the knowledge claimed to be derived from vivisection is an imposture and a sham. Do they not, by the inconsistencies here briefly alluded to, their hostility to alleged knowledge, and their devotion to very substantial beef and mutton, the one and the other the products of vivisection, expose themselves to a suspicion better founded than that which they allow themselves to express? They question the value of vivisection, may not the single-mindedness of their hostility to it be questioned with better ground? Biology is now the frontier science exposed for obvious reasons to the odium theologicum in a marked degree. The havoc it has made among271 cherished religious opinions amply accounts for the dislike which it excites. But it is difficult to attack. On the other hand, an outcry that its methods are cruel, immoral, and revolting may serve as a useful diversion, and even give it a welcome check. The Puritans, it was remarked, objected to bear-baiting, not because it hurt the bear, but because it pleased the men. May we not say that vivisection is opposed, not because it is painful to animals, but because it tends to the advancement of science?

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



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

One of the most obvious peculiarities at present to be noticed is the use of the word if when there is nothing really conditional in the sentence. Thus we read: “If the Prussian plan of operations was faulty the movements of the Crown Prince’s army were in a high degree excellent.” The writer does not really mean what his words seem to imply, that the excellence was contingent on the fault: he simply means to make two independent statements. As another example we have: “Yet he never founded a family; if his two daughters carried his name and blood into the families of the Herreras and the Zuñigos, his two sons died before him.” Here again the two events which are connected by the conditional if are really quite independent. Other examples follow:273 “If it be true that Paris is an American’s paradise, symptoms are not wanting that there are Parisians who cast a longing look towards the institutions of the United States.” “If M. Stanilas Julien has taken up his position in the Celestial Empire, M. Léon de Rosny seems to have selected the neighboring country of Japan for his own special province.” “But those who are much engaged in public affairs cannot always be honest, and if this is not an excuse, it is at least a fact.” “But if a Cambridge man was to be appointed, Mr.—— is a ripe scholar and a good parish priest, and I rejoice that a place very dear to me should have fallen into such good hands.”

Other examples, differing in some respects from those already given, concur in exhibiting a strange use of the word if. Thus we read: “If the late rumors of dissension in the Cabinet had been well founded, the retirement of half his colleagues would not have weakened Mr. Gladstone’s hold on the House of Commons.” The conditional proposition intended is probably this: if half his colleagues were to retire, Mr. Gladstone’s hold on the House of Commons would not be weakened. “If a big book is a big evil, the Bijou Gazetteer of the World ought to stand at the summit of excellence. It is the tiniest geographical directory we have ever seen.” This is quite illogical: if a big book is a big evil, it does not follow that a little book is a great good. “If in the main I have adhered to the English version, it has been from the conviction that our translators were in the right.” It is rather difficult to see what is the precise274 opinion here expressed as to our translators; whether an absolute or contingent approval is intended. “If you think it worth your while to inspect the school from the outside, that is for yourself to decide upon.” The decision is not contingent on the thinking it worth while: they are identical. For the last example we take this: “... but if it does not retard his return to office it can hardly accelerate it.” The meaning is, “This speech cannot accelerate and may retard Mr. Disraeli’s return to office.” The triple occurrence of it is very awkward.

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

A very favorite practice is that of changing a word where there is no corresponding change of meaning. Take the following example from a voluminous historian:—“Huge pinnacles of bare rock shoot up into the azure firmament, and forests overspread their sides, in which the scarlet rhododendrons sixty feet in height are surmounted by trees two hundred feet in elevation.” In a passage of this kind it may be of little consequence whether a word is retained or changed; but for any purpose where precision is valuable it is nearly as bad to use two words in one sense as one word in two senses. Let us take some other examples. We read in the usual275 channels of information that “Mr. Gladstone has issued invitations for a full-dress Parliamentary dinner, and Lord Granville has issued invitations for a full-dress Parliamentary banquet.” Again we read: “The Government proposes to divide the occupiers of land into four categories;” and almost immediately after we have “the second class comprehends ...”: so that we see the grand word category merely stands for class. Again: “This morning the Czar drove alone through the Thiergarten, and on his return received Field-Marshals Wrangel and Moltke, as well as many other general officers, and then gave audience to numerous visitors. Towards noon the Emperor Alexander, accompanied by the Russian Grand Dukes, paid a visit....” “Mr. Ayrton, according to Nature, has accepted Dr. Hooker’s explanation of the letter to Mr. Gladstone’s secretary, at which the First Commissioner of Works took umbrage, so that the dispute is at an end.” I may remark that Mr. Ayrton is identical with the First Commissioner of Works. A writer recently in a sketch of travels spoke of a “Turkish gentleman with his innumerable wives,” and soon after said that she “never saw him address any of his multifarious wives.” One of the illustrated periodicals gave a picture of an event in recent French history, entitled, “The National Guards Firing on the People.” Here the change from national to people slightly conceals the strange contradiction of guardians firing on those whom they ought to guard.

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

A class of examples may be found in which there is an obvious incongruity between two of the words which occur. Thus, “We are more than doubtful;” that is, we are more than full of doubts: this is obviously impossible. Then we276 read of “a man of more than doubtful sanity.” Again we read of “a more than questionable statement”: this is I suppose a very harsh elliptical construction for such a sentence as “a statement to which we might apply an epithet more condemnatory than questionable.” So also we read “a more unobjectionable character.” Again: “Let the Second Chamber be composed of elected members, and their utility will be more than halved.” To take the half of anything is to perform a definite operation, which is not susceptible of more or less. Again: “The singular and almost excessive impartiality and power of appreciation.” It is impossible to conceive of excessive impartiality. Other recent examples of these impossible combinations are, “more faultless,” “less indisputable.” “The high antiquity of the narrative cannot reasonably be doubted, and almost as little its ultimate Apostolic origin.” The ultimate origin, that is the last beginning, of anything seems a contradiction. The common phrase bad health seems of the same character; it is almost equivalent to unsound soundness or to unprosperous prosperity. In a passage already quoted, we read that the Czar “gave audience to numerous visitors,” and in a similar manner a very distinguished lecturer speaks of making experiments “visible to a large audience.” It would seem from the last instance that our language wants a word to denote a mass of people collected not so much to hear an address as to see what are called experiments. Perhaps if our savage forefathers had enjoyed the advantages of courses of scientific lectures, the vocabulary would be supplied with the missing word.

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


Ignore is a very popular and a very bad word. As there is no good authority for it, the meaning is naturally uncertain. It seems to fluctuate between wilfully concealing something and unintentionally omitting something, and this vagueness renders it a convenient tool for an unscrupulous orator or writer.

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

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

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

The word mistaken is curious as being constantly used in a sense directly contrary to that which, according to its formation, it ought to have. Thus: “He is often mistaken, but never trivial and insipid.” “He is often mistaken” ought to mean that other people often mistake him; just as “he is often misunderstood” means that people often misunderstand him. But the writer of the above sentence intends to say that “He often makes mistakes.” It would be well if we could get rid of this anomalous use of the word mistaken. I suppose that wrong or erroneous would278 always suffice. But I must admit that good writers do employ mistaken in the sense which seems contrary to analogy; for example, Dugald Stewart does so, and also a distinguished leading philosopher whose style shows decided traces of Dugald Stewart’s influence.

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

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

One or two of our popular writers on scientific subjects are fond of frequently introducing the word bizarre; surely some English equivalent might be substituted with advantage. The author of an anonymous academical paper a few years since was discovered by a slight peculiarity—namely, the use of the word ones, if there be such a word: this occurred in certain productions to which the author had affixed his name, and so279 the same phenomenon in the unacknowledged paper betrayed the origin which had been concealed.

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

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

The examples of confusion of metaphor ascribed to the late Lord Castlereagh are so absurd that it might have been thought impossible to rival them. Nevertheless the following, though in somewhat quieter style, seems to me to approach very nearly to the best of those that were spoken by Castlereagh or forged for him by Mackintosh. A recent Cabinet Minister described the error of an Indian official in these words: “He remained too long under the influence of the views which he had imbibed from the Board.” To imbibe a view seems strange, but to imbibe anything from a Board must be very difficult. I may observe that the phrase of Castlereagh’s which is now best known,280 seems to suffer from misquotation: we usually have, “an ignorant impatience of taxation”; but the original form appears to have been, “an ignorant impatience of the relaxation of taxation.”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

To digress for a moment, I may observe that this line gives a good illustration of the process by which what is called Latin verse is often constructed. Every person sees that the line is formed out of Shakespeare’s “after life’s fitful fever he sleeps well.” The ingenuity of the transference may be admired, but it seems to me that it is easy to give more than a due amount of admiration;282 and, as the instance shows, the adaptation may issue in something bordering on the absurd. As an example in Latin versification, take the following. Every one who has not quite forgotten his schoolboy days remembers the line in Virgil ending with non imitabile fulmen. A good scholar, prematurely lost to his college and university, having for an exercise to translate into Latin the passage in Milton relating to the moon’s peerless light finished a line with non imitabile lumen. One can hardly wonder at the tendency to overvalue such felicitous appropriation.

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

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

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

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

Pronouns, which are troublesome to all writers of English, are especially embarrassing to the authors of prospectuses and advertisements. A wine company283 return thanks to their friends, “and, at the same time, they would assure them that it is their constant study not only to find improvements for their convenience....” Observe how the pronouns oscillate in their application between the company and their friends.

In selecting titles of books there is room for improvement. Thus, a Quarterly Journal is not uncommon; the words strictly are suggestive of a Quarterly Daily publication. I remember, some years since, observing a notice that a certain obscure society proposed to celebrate its triennial anniversary.

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

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

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

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

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

“The style is the man” is frequently284 attributed to Buffon, although it has been pointed out that Buffon said something very different; namely, that “the style is of the man,” that is, “the style proceeds from the man.” It is some satisfaction to find that Frenchmen themselves do not leave us the monopoly of this error; it will be found in Arago; see his Works, vol. iii. p. 560. A common proverb frequently quoted is, “The exception proves the rule;” and it seems universally assumed that proves here means establishes or demonstrates. It is perhaps more likely that proves here means tests or tries, as in the injunction, “Prove all things.” [The proverb in full runs: Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis.]

The words nihil tetigit quod non ornavit are perpetually offered as a supposed quotation from Dr. Johnson’s epitaph on Goldsmith. Johnson wrote—

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

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

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

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

There is a story, resting on no good authority, that Plato testified to the importance of geometry by writing over his door, “Let no one enter who is not a geometer.” The first word is often given incorrectly, when the Greek words285 are quoted, the wrong form of the negative being taken. I was surprised to see this blunder about two years since in a weekly review of very high pretensions.

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

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

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

The Times, commenting on the slovenly composition of the Queen’s Speeches to Parliament, proposed the cause of the fact as a fit subject for the investigation of our professional thinkers. The phrase suggests a delicate reproof to those who assume for themselves the title of thinker, implying that any person may engage in this occupation just as he might, if he pleased, become a dentist, or a stock-broker, or a civil engineer. The word thinker is very common as a name of respect in the works of a modern dis286tinguished philosopher. I am afraid, however, that it is employed by him principally as synonymous with a Comtist.

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

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



The Dictionary of English History. Edited by Sidney S. Low, B. A., late Scholar of Balliol College, Oxford, Lecturer on Modern History, King’s College, London; and F. S. Pulling, M. A., late Professor of Modern History, Yorkshire College, Leeds. New York: Cassell & Company, Limited.

The first thought that suggests itself upon taking up Messrs. Cassell & Company’s “Dictionary of English History” is “why was this important work not done long ago?” The want of such a book of reference is not a new one but has been long felt by students and amateurs of history. Indeed there is hardly a man or woman who has not at some time or other felt the need of furbishing up his or her historical knowledge at short notice. One may hunt the pages of a history by the hour and not find the date or incident he wants to know about. The editors of this stout volume, Sidney J. Low, B.A. and F. S. Pulling, M.A., have made the successful attempt to give a convenient handbook on the whole subject of English history and to make it useful rather than exhaustive. The present work is not an encyclopædia, and the editors are aware that many things are omitted from it which might have been included, had its limits been wider, and its aim more ambitious. To produce a book which should give, as concisely as possible, just the information, biographical, bibliographical, chronological, and constitutional, that the reader of English history is likely to want is what has been here attempted. The needs of modern readers have been kept in view. Practical convenience has guided them in the somewhat arbitrary selection that they have been compelled to make, and their plan had been chosen with great care and after many experiments. It should be said that though the book is called a Dictionary of Eng288lish History that the historical events of Scotland, Ireland and Wales are included. The contributors for special articles, have been selected from among the best-known historical writers in England, and no pains have been spared to make this book complete in the field it has aimed to cover.

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

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


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

Personal Traits of British Authors. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lamb, Hazlitt, Leigh Hunt, Procter. Edited by Edward T. Mason. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Ibid. Byron, Shelley, Moore, Rogers, Keats, Southey, Landor.

Ibid. Scott, Hogg, Campbell, Chalmers, Wilson, De Quincey, Jeffrey.

Mr. Mason, the compiler of these volumes, has a keen sense of that taste which exists in all people (and certainly it is a kind of curiosity not without its redeeming side) which prompts a hearty appetite for personal gossip about appearance, habits, social traits, methods of work and thought concerning distinguished men. Yet there is another side to the question, however interesting such information may be. This is specially in gossip about authors. The literary worker puts the best part of himself in his writings. Here all the noble impulses of his nature find an outlet, and in many cases he thinks it sufficient to give this field for his higher traits, and puts his lower ones alone into action. No man is a hero to his valet. A too near acquaintance, and that is just what the editor of these volumes seeks to give us, is always disillusioning. The conception which the author gives of himself in his books is often sadly sullied and belittled, when we come to know the solid body within the photosphere of glory, which his genius radiates. Yet it is as well that we should know the real man as well as what is commonly known as the ideal man. It enables us to guard against those specious enthusiasms, which may be dangerously aroused by the brilliant sophistries of poetry or rhetoric.290 Knowing the actual lives and habits of great men is like an Ithuriel spear, often, when we study teachings by its test. But putting aside the desirability of knowing intimately the lives of great authors on the score of literature or morals, it cannot be denied that such information is of a fascinating sort. Mr. Mason has gathered these personal descriptions and criticisms from all sorts of sources. Literary contemporaries, accounts of friends and enemies, the confessions of authors themselves, family records, biographies, magazine articles, books of reminiscence—in a word every kind of material has been freely used. Authors are shown in a kaleidoscopic light from a great variety of stand-points, and we have the slurs and sneers of enemies as well as the loving admiration of friends. Descriptions are pointed with racy and pungent anecdotes, and it is but just to say that we have not found a dull line in these volumes. Mr. Mason has performed his work with excellent editorial taste. There is a brief and well-written notice appended to the chapter on each author, and a literary chronology, the latter of which will be found very useful for handy reference. These racy volumes ought to find a wide public, and we think, aside from their charm for the general reader, the literary man will find here a well-filled treasury of convenient anecdote and illustration, which, in many cases, will save him the toil of weary search. In these days of many books, such works have a special use which should not be ignored.

Italy from the Fall of Napoleon I. in 1815, to the Death of Victor Emmanuel in 1878. By John Webb Probyn. New York: Cassell & Company, Limited.

“Italy from the Fall of Napoleon I., in 1815, to the Death of Victor Emanuel, in 1878,” by John Webb Probyn, is just ready from the press of Cassell & Company. In noticing this important work we can do no better than to quote from the author’s preface. “The purpose of this volume,” writes Mr. Probyn,291 “is to give a concise account of the chief causes and events which have transformed Italy from a divided into a united country. A detailed history of this important epoch would fill volumes, and will not be written for some time to come. Yet it is desirable that all who are interested in the important events of our time should be able to obtain some connected account of so striking a transformation as that which was effected in Italy between the years 1815 and 1878. It has been with the object of giving such an account that this volume has been written.” Mr. Probyn lived in Italy among the Italians while this struggle was going on, and he writes from a close knowledge of his subject.

Harriet Martineau (Famous Women Series). By Mrs. F. Fenwick Miller. Boston: Roberts Brothers.

The distinguished woman who forms the subject of this biography is less known and read in America than she should be, and it is to be hoped that this concise, lucid and well-written account of her life and work will awaken interest in one whose literary labors will merit perusal and study. Miss Martineau was one of the precursors of that movement for the larger life and mental liberty of her sex, which to-day has assumed formidable proportions, and indulged, we need hardly say, many strange vagaries. Miss Martineau began to write at an early age and soon began to impress herself on the public mind, though it was for a long time suspected that she was a man. The whole tone of her mind and intellectual sympathies was eminently masculine, though on the emotional and moral side of her nature she was intensely feminine. An early love disappointment, as has been the case with not a few literary women, shut her out from that circle of wifehood and motherhood in which she would have been far more happy than she was ordained to be by fate. Yet the world would have been a loser, so true is it that it is often by virtue of those conditions which sacrifice happiness that the most precious fruits of life are bestowed on the world. It would be interesting to follow the literary career of Miss Martineau, if space permitted, as her life was not only rich in its own results but interwoven with the most aggressive, keen and significant literary life of her age. To the world at large Miss Martineau, who had a philosophical mind of the highest order, is best known as the translator of Comte, of whose system she was an enthusiastic advocate. Her translation of Comte’s ponderous “Positive Philosophy,” published in French in six volumes, which she condensed into three volumes of lucid and forcible English, is not merely a masterpiece of translation, but a monument of acumen. So well was her work done, that Comte himself adapted it for his students’ use, discarding his own edition. So it came to pass that Comte’s own work fell out of use, and that his complete teachings became accessible only to his countrymen through a retranslation of Miss Martineau’s original translation and292 adaptation. Remarkable as were her philosophical powers, her work in the domain of imagination, though always hinging on a serious purpose, was of a superior sort. A keen and successful student of political economy, she wrote a series of remarkable tales, based on various perplexing problems in this line of thought and research. In addition to these, her pathetic and humorous tales are full of charm, and distinguished by a style equally charming and forcible. She might have been a great novelist had not her fondness for philosophical studies become the passion of her life. She was an indefatigable contributor to newspapers and magazines on a great variety of subjects, though she generally wrote anonymously. It was for this reason that her literary labors, which were arduous in the extreme, were comparatively ill-paid, and that life, even in her old age, was no easy struggle for her. The work, among her voluminous writings, on which her fame will probably rest as on a corner-stone, is “A History of the Thirty Years Peace.” This is a history of her own time, pungent, full of powerful color, though often sombre, impartial yet searching, characterized by the sternest love of truth, and couched in a literary style of great force and clearness. She showed the rare power of discussing events which were almost contemporary, as calmly as if she were surveying a remote period of antiquity. The Athenæum said of this book on its publication: “The principles which she enunciates are based on eternal truths, and evolved with a logical precision that admits rhetorical ornament without becoming obscure or confused.” Another remarkable work was “Eastern Life,” the fruit of research in the East. In this she made a bold and masterly attack on the dogmatic beliefs of Christianity. The end and object of her reasoning in this work is: That men have ever constructed the Image of a Ruler of the Universe out of their own minds; that all successive ideas about the Supreme Being have originated from within and been modified by the surrounding circumstances; and that all theologies, therefore, are baseless productions of the human imagination and have no essential connection with those great religious ideas and emotions by which men are constrained to live nobly, to do justly, and to love what they see to be the true and right. The publication of this book raised a storm of opprobrium, for England was then far more illiberal than now. Yet it is a singular fact that, in spite of her free-thinking, Harriet293 Martineau had as her intimate friends and warm admirers some of the most pious and sincere clergymen of the age. She died in 1876 at the age of seventy-four, after a life of exemplary goodness and brilliant intellectual activity, honored and loved by all who knew her, even by those who dissented most widely from her beliefs. She was among those who ploughed up the mental soil of her time most successfully, and few, either men or women, have written with more force, sincerity and suggestiveness on the great serious questions of life.

Weird Tales by E. T. W. Hoffman. New Translation from the German, with a Biographical Memoir, by J. T. Beally, B.A. In two volumes. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

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

Hoffman, who was well born, though not of noble family, received an excellent education. He studied at Königsburg University, where he matriculated as a student of jurisprudence, and seems to have made enough proficiency in this branch of knowledge to have justified the various civil appointments which he from time to time received during his strange and stormy life, only to forfeit them by acts of mad folly or neglect. He was by turns actor, musician, painter, litterateur, civil magistrate and tramp. Gifted with brilliant and versatile talents, there was probably never a man more totally unbalanced and at the mercy of every wind of passion and caprice that blew. Had he possessed a self-directing purpose, a steady ideal to which he devoted himself, it is not improbable that his genius might have raised him to a leading place in German literature. Yet perhaps his talents294 and tastes were too versatile for any very great achievement, even under more favorable conditions. As matters stand he is known to the world by his short tales, in which he uses freely the machinery of fantasy and horror, though he never revolts the taste, even in his wildest moods. Yet some of his best stories are entirely free from this element of the strained and unnatural, and show that it was through no lack of native strength and robustness of mind, that he selected at other times the most abnormal and perverse developments of action and character as the warp of his literary textures. Hoffman’s stories are interesting from their ingenuity, a certain naïve simplicity combined with an audacious handling of impossible or improbable circumstances, and a charming under-current of pathos and humor, which bubbles up through the crust at the most unexpected turns. We should hardly regard these stories as a model for the modern writer, yet there is a quality about them which far more artistic stories might lack. It is singular to narrate that some of his most agreeable and objective stories, where he completely escapes from morbid imaginings, are those he wrote when dying by inches in great agony, for he, too, like Heine—a much greater and subtler genius—lay on a mattrass grave, though for months and not for years. The stories collected in the volumes under notice contain those which are recognized by critics as his best, and will repay perusal as being excellent representations of a school of fiction which is now at its ebb-tide, though how soon it will come again to the fore it is impossible to prophecy, as mode and vogue in literary taste go through the same eternal cycle, as do almost all other mundane things.


Paul Ivanovich Ogorodnikof, who died last month at the age of fifty-eight, was destined for the army, but, being accused of participation in political disturbances, was confined in the fortress of Modlin. After his release he obtained employment in the Railway Administration, whereby he was enabled to amass a sum sufficient to cover the cost of a journey through Russia, Germany, France, England, and North America, of which he published an account. He was subsequently appointed correspondent of the Imperial Geographical Society in North-East Persia, and on his return home he devoted his exclusive attention to295 literature. His most interesting works, perhaps, are “Travels in Persia and her Caspian Provinces,” 1868, “Sketches in Persia,” 1868, and “The Land of the Sun,” 1881. But he was the author of various other works and numerous contributions to periodical literature, and in 1882 his “Diary of a Captive” was published in the Istorichesky Vyestnik.

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

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

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

One of the late General Gordon’s minor contributions to literature is a brief memoir of Zebehr Pasha, which he drew up for the in296formation of the Soudanese. General Gordon caused the memoir to be translated into Arabic, and we believe that copies of it are still in existence. It was written during the General’s first administration of the Soudan.

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

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

The festival at Capua in commemoration of the bi-centenary of the birth of the distinguished antiquary and philologist, Alessio Simmaco Mazzocchi, which should have been held last autumn, but was postponed on account of the cholera, was celebrated on January 25. The meeting in the Museo Campano was attended by a large number of visitors from the neigh297boring towns and from Naples, and speeches were delivered by the Prefect (Commendatore Winspeare), Prof. F. Barnabei, and several others.

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

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

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

It is understood that the late Henry G. Bohn’s collection of Art books, though comparatively few in number—said to be less than 800—forms a perfectly unique library of reference, and in many languages. We hear that it includes splendidly bound folio editions of engravings from the great masters in almost every known European gallery. Mr. Bohn’s general private library—a substantial but by no means extensive one considering his colossal dealings with books—is not likely to be298 sold. It may not be generally known that he lent nearly 1,400 volumes to the Crystal Palace Exhibition some years ago, and lost them all in the fire there.

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

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

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

Edward Odyniec, the Polish poet and journalist, and friend of Mickiewicz, died in Warsaw on January 15. He was born in 1804, and was educated at the University of Wilna, where he was a member of the celebrated society of the Philareti. His period of poetic activity falls chiefly in the time of the romantic movement in Poland. His odes and occasional poems were printed in 1825-28, and many of them have been translated into German and Bohemian. His translations from Byron, Moore, and Walter Scott are greatly admired299 in Poland. He also published several dramas on historical subjects. Odyniec was editor, first of the Kuryer Wilanski, and afterwards of the Kuryer Warszawski, and was highly esteemed as a political writer. He was personally very popular in Warsaw, and his funeral was attended by many thousands of people.

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


An Aerial Ride.—The recent ascents, first at Berlin, then at Baden, of Herr Lattemann, who is the inventor and constructor of an entirely novel miniature balloon, “Rotateur,” are remarkable, if foolhardy, performances. The intrepid aëronaut rises in the air merely suspended to a balloon by four ropes to a height of 4,000 feet. The Rotateur has the form of a cylinder, with semi-spherical ends and a horizontal axis. It holds about 9,300 cubic feet of ordinary gas, just enough to lift the weight of a man, without car, anchor, or other apparatus, about 4,000 feet. The balloon may be revolved round its horizontal axis by two cords attached at the periphery of the cylinder. The aëronaut is able by these cords to turn the valve, placed below, through which the gas is taken in and allowed to escape, when desired, round either the sides or to the top. This circular hole, as soon as the balloon is filled, is stretched out by a thick cane to such an extent longitudinally as to close it almost entirely, only leaving a narrow slit, through which, it is asserted, no gas can escape. If the aëronaut desires to let off the gas, he turns the cylinder balloon round its axis by manipulating the cords, the opening is moved to the side or top, and the cane removed by sharply pulling the cord attached to it, so that the opening becomes circular again, and allows the gas to escape. This is the new valve arrangement300 —the egg of Columbus—patented by Herr Lattemann. For up to the present time the valve was the Achilles heel of the balloon, because it was placed at the top, sometimes failing to act, at others not closing air-tight. Herr Lattemann in his ascents wears a strong leather belt, through the rings of which two ropes are drawn, and by which he fastens himself to the right and left of the balloon net. He thus hangs suspended as in a swing. Two other ropes, attached to the balloon, and passing through other rings in his belt, end in stirrups, into which the aërial rider places his feet. At his earlier ascents Herr Lattemann used a saddle, which he has now discarded, preferring to stand free in the stirrups. As soon as the aëronaut has balanced himself in his ropes, the signal “Off!” is given, and the balloon sails away. Herr Lattemann has hitherto been entirely successful in his ascents, which last about half an hour.

The Condition of Schleswig.—A graphic description is given in an article written by a correspondent of the Times in Copenhagen of the treatment to which the Danish inhabitants of Schleswig are subjected by the Germans. All the efforts of the authorities governing the duchy tend to the goal of crushing, and, if possible, exterminating the Danish language and Danish sentiment. The Danes in Schleswig cling with characteristic toughness to their language and to the old traditions of their race; they hate the Germans; they groan under the foreign yoke of suppression. Resisting all temptations and all menaces from Berlin, they still turn their regards and their love toward the Danish King and the Danish people, and they swear to hold out, even for generations, until the glorious day comes, as it is sure to come in the fulness of time, when the German chains shall be broken. It would be a very trifling sacrifice for Prussia, that has made such enormous gains and risen to the highest Power in Europe, to give those 200,000 or 250,000 Danish Schleswigers back to Denmark, the land of their predilection. The northern part of Schleswig is of no political or strategical importance to Prussia, and the proof of this is that the fortifications in Alsen and at Düppel are being levelled to the ground. Several instances of these petty persecutions are given by the correspondent. The names of towns and villages have been Germanized; railway guards are not permitted to speak Danish; in the public schools primers and songs and plays are to be in German, and the301 children are punished if they speak among themselves their maternal language; history is arranged so as to glorify Germany and disparage Denmark; the Danish colors of red and white are absolutely prohibited; in short, from the cradle to the grave, the Danish Schleswiger is submitted to a process of eradicating his original nature and dressing him up in a garb which he hates and detests. This petty war is carried on day after day under the sullen resistance and open protests of the Schleswigers, and proves a constant source of hatred and animosity between two nations destined by nature to be friends and allies. Of late the Prussian functionaries in Schleswig have entered upon a system of positive persecution that passes all bounds. Last summer several excursions of ladies and girls from the Danish districts in Schleswig were arranged to different places, one to the west coast of Jutland, another to Copenhagen; they came in flocks of two or three hundred, were hospitably entertained, enjoyed the sights and the liberty to avow their Danish sentiments, and then they returned to their bondage. Such of them as did not carefully hide the red and white favors or diminutive flags had to pay amends for their carelessness. But the great bulk of them could not be reached by the law, for, in spite of all, it has not yet been made a crime in Schleswig to travel beyond the frontier. With characteristic ingeniousness, the Prussian functionaries then hit upon a new plan, and visited the sins of the women and girls upon their husbands, fathers, or brothers. If these turned out to have, after the cession, optated for Denmark, and to be consequently Danish citizens only sojourning in Schleswig, they were peremptorily shown the door and ordered to leave the duchy within 48 hours or some few days. An edict authorizes any police-master to expel any foreign subject that may prove “troublesome” (lästig), and this term is a very elastic one. If the male relatives were Prussian subjects no law could be alleged against them, but among these such as filled public charges, particularly teachers and schoolmasters, have been summarily dismissed. In this way, farmers, small traders, artisans, dentists, school teachers, and so forth, whose wives or sisters or daughters did take part in the excursion trips, have been mercilessly driven away and deprived of their means of living. New cases of such expulsions are recorded every day. A system of the most petty persecution is at the same time enforced against those who cannot be turned out.


Chinese Notions of Immortality.—A writer in a recent issue of the North China Herald discusses the early Chinese notions of immortality. In the most ancient times ancestral worship was maintained on the ground that the souls of the dead exist after this life. The present is a part only of human existence, and men continue to be after death what they have become before it. Hence the honors accorded to men of rank in their lifetime were continued to them after their death. In the earliest utterances of Chinese national thought on this subject we find that duality which has remained the prominent feature in Chinese thinking ever since. The present life is light; the future is darkness. What the shadow is to the substance, the soul is to the body; what vapor is to water, breath is to man. By the process of cooling steam may again become water, and the transformations of animals teach us that beings inferior to man may live after death. Ancient Chinese then believed that as there is male and female principle in all nature, a day and a night as inseparable from each thing in the universe as from the universe itself, so it is with man. In the course of ages and in the vicissitudes of religious ideas, men came to believe more definitely in the possibility of communications with supernatural beings. In the twelfth century before the Christian era it was a distinct belief that the thoughts of the sages were to them a revelation from above. The “Book of Odes” frequently uses the expression “God spoke to them,” and one sage is represented after death “moving up and down in the presence of God in heaven.” A few centuries subsequently we find for the first time great men transferred in the popular imagination to the sky, it being believed that their souls took up their abode in certain constellations. This was due to the fact that the ideas of immortality had taken a new shape, and that the philosophy of the times regarded the stars of heaven as the pure essences of the grosser things belonging to this world. The pure is heavenly and the gross earthly, and therefore that which is purest on earth ascends to the regions of the stars. At the same time hermits and other ascetics began to be credited with the power of acquiring extraordinary longevity, and the stork became the animal which the Immortals preferred to ride above all others. The idea of plants which confer immunity from death soon sprang up. The fungus known as Polyporus lucidus was taken to be the most efficacious of all plants in guard303ing man from death, and 3,000 ounces of silver have been asked for a single specimen. Its red color was among the circumstances which gave it its reputation, for at this time the five colors of Babylonian astrology had been accepted as indications of good and evil fortune. This connection of a red color with the notion of immortality through the medium of good and bad luck, led to the adoption of cinnabar as the philosopher’s stone, and thus to the construction of the whole system of alchemy.

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

An Approaching Star.—One of the most beautiful of all stars in the heavens is Arcturus, in the constellation Boötes. In January last the Astronomer Royal communicated to the Royal Astronomical Society a tabulated statement of the results of the observations made at Greenwich during 1883 in applying the method of Dr. Huggins for measuring the approach and recession of the so-called fixed stars in direct line. Nearly 200 of these observations are thus recorded, twenty-one of which were devoted to Arcturus, and were made from March 30 to August 24. The result shows that this brilliant scintillating star is moving rapidly towards us with a velocity of more than fifty miles per second (the mean of the twenty-one observations is 50.78). This amounts to about 2,000 miles per minute, 180,000 per hour, 4,320,000 miles per day. Will this approach continue, or will the star presently appear stationary and then recede? If the motion is orbital the latter will occur. There is, however, nothing in the rates observed to indicate any such orbital motion, and as the observations extended over five months this has some weight. Still it may be travelling in a mighty orbit of many years’ duration, the bending of which may in time be indicated by a retardation of the rate of approach, then by no perceptible movement either towards or away from us, and this followed by a recession equal to its previous approach. If, on the other hand, the 4,500,000 of miles per day continue, the star must become visibly brighter to posterity, in304 spite of the enormous magnitude of cosmical distances. Our 81-ton guns drive forth their projectiles with a maximum velocity of 1,400 feet per second. Arcturus is approaching us with a speed that is 200 times greater than this. It thus moves over a distance equal to that between the earth and the sun in twenty-one days. Our present distance from Arcturus is estimated at 1,622,000 times this. Therefore, if the star continues to approach us at the same rate as measured last year, it will have completed the whole of its journey towards us in 93,000 years.—Gentleman’s Magazine.

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


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

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

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

4 See Virgil, Ecl. viii.

5 Napier’s Scotch Folk-lore, p. 95.

6 The Folk-lore of the Northern Counties and the Border, by W. Henderson, pp. 106, 114. Ed. 1879.

7 Napier, p. 89.

8 Ibid. p. 130.

9 Henderson, Border Folk-lore, p. 35.

10 Henderson, Border Folk-lore, p. 35.

11 Ibid. p. 35.

12 Miscellanies, p. 131. Ed. 1857.

13 Brand’s Pop. Antiqs. i. p. 21.

14 Border Folk-lore, pp. 114, 172, 207.

15 Kelly’s Indo-European Folk-lore, p. 132.

16 Brand, vol. i. p. 210.

17 Kelly, p. 301.

18 Brand, i. 292.

19 Henderson, p. 116.

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

21 Cockayne’s Saxon Leechdoms, &c. (Rolls series), vol. ii. p. 343.

22 Anatomy of Melancholy, Part III. section 2.

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

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

25 George Eliot’s Life. By J. W. Cross. Three volumes. Blackwood and Sons. 1885.

26 The Empire of the Hittites. By William Wright, B.A., D.D. James Nisbet and Co.

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

28 In a paper on “The Stages of Hypnotism” in Mind for October 1884, Mr. E. Gurney, describes an experiment where this persistent influence of an impressed idea could in a certain sense, be detected in the muscular system. “A boy’s arm being flexed” (and the boy having been told that he cannot extend it), “he is offered a sovereign to extend it. He struggles till he is red in the face; but all the while his triceps is remaining quite flaccid, or if some rigidity appears in it, the effect is at once counteracted by an equal rigidity in the biceps. The idea of the impossibility of extension—i.e., the idea of continued flexion—is thus acting itself out, even when wholly rejected from the mind.”

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

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

31 It is worth noticing in this connection that in one case of Brown-Séquard’s an aphasic patient talked in his sleep.

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

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

Transcriber’s Notes

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

The following corrections have been made:

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