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Title: The Contemporary Review, Volume 36, October 1879

Author: Various

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Language: English

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OCTOBER, 1879.
India and Afghanistan. By Lieut.-Colonel R. D. Osborn 193
Critical Idealism in France. By Paul Janet 212
On the Moral Limits of Beneficial Commerce. By Francis W. Newman 232
The Myths of the Sea and the River of Death. By C. F. Keary 243
Mr. Macvey Napier and the Edinburgh Reviewers. By Matthew Browne 263
The Supreme God in the Indo-European Mythology. By James Darmesteter 274
Lazarus Appeals to Dives. By Henry J. Miller 290
The Forms and Colours of Living Creatures. By Professor St. George Mivart 313
Contemporary Life and Thought in Turkey. By an Eastern Statesman 334
Contemporary Books:—
I. History and Literature of the East, under the Direction of Professor E. H. Palmer 350
II. Classical Literature, under the Direction of Rev. Prebendary J. Davies 359
III. Essays, Novels, Poetry, &c. under the Direction of Matthew Browne 366

[Pg 193]


When the news arrived that Major Cavagnari and his companions had fallen victims to the fury of the Kabul populace, the Daily Telegraph “called aloud, before Heaven, for a punishment which should ring from end to end of the Continent of Asia.” It is a pity that so much fine and eloquent indignation should be expended on the Afghans instead of those who are truly responsible for the catastrophe which has evoked it. If ever there was a future event which might be predicted with absolute certainty, it was that Major Cavagnari and his companions would perish precisely as they have done. Twice, within forty years, have we invaded Afghanistan, although on both occasions we have frankly avowed that with the inhabitants of the country we had no cause of quarrel whatever. Nevertheless, we carried fire and sword wherever we went, cutting down their fruit trees, burning their villages, and leaving their women and children shelterless under a winter sky. What could we expect as the fruit of such acts, except that our victims—knowing, as we did, that they were revengeful, passionate, and too ignorant to forecast the consequences of their actions—should retaliate in kind the moment that they had the opportunity? The first invasion of Afghanistan is now known by general consent as “the iniquitous war;” but it is open to question if even that war was so elaborately contrived, or so long laboured for as this—the first act of which has terminated in the slaughter of Major Cavagnari and his escort.

The circumstances which preceded it are briefly these. For eighteen months Lord Lytton had attempted, by alternate threats and cajolery, to prevail upon the Ameer Shere Ali to make a surrender of his independence, and become a vassal of the Indian Empire. These attempts [Pg 194] having failed, war was declared against him on the pretence that he had insulted us before all Asia by declining to receive a “friendly” mission sent by the Indian Government. This mission was not friendly. It was notorious throughout India that it would go to Kabul charged with an ultimatum which offered the Ameer the choice of war, or the sacrifice of his independence. But even this mission the Ameer never refused to receive—nay, it is certain that he would have received it if the opportunity had been given to him, so great was the value he attached to English friendship. But what the Government of India desired was not the reception of the mission, but a pretext for making war upon the Ameer. It knew that the policy which it meditated in Afghanistan would so completely destroy the sovereignty of the Ameer, that it was impossible he should agree to it. At the same time, it was impossible to declare war against an independent prince, simply because he declined to divest himself of his independence. The war must, somehow or another, be made to appear as if it were due to some act of the Ameer. Consequently, almost from the hour in which the announcement was made that the mission was to start, the Ameer was plied with insults and menaces which, if they were not intended to drive him to some act of overt hostility, had no purpose at all. And when these proved unavailing, Lord Lytton directed Sir Neville Chamberlain to attempt to force his way through the Khyber Pass, without waiting for the permission of the Ameer. In the most courteous manner the Afghan officer, in command at the Khyber, intimated to the mission that, without the sanction of his master, it was impossible to allow it to proceed; and this refusal was instantly telegraphed to England as a deliberate insult which must be wiped out in blood. From first to last, so far as his conduct towards us is concerned, the Ameer was absolutely blameless. During his entire reign his consistent endeavour had been to draw closer the ties of amity between himself and us. The Russian mission had forced its way to Kabul, despite of all his endeavours to hinder its advance; and there can be no question that but for the previous action of Lord Lytton that mission would never have come to Afghanistan. But eighteen months before that occurrence Lord Lytton had withdrawn our Native Agent from the Court of the Ameer. This had been done as a mark of displeasure, and a proof that no alliance of any kind existed between the two States. This proceeding Lord Lytton followed up by the occupation of Quetta, although he was well aware that such an occupation would be interpreted—and rightly—by the Ameer, as a menace to his independence, and the harbinger of war. So it came about that when the Russian mission knocked for admission at the doors of his capital, the Ameer found himself on the one side threatened by Russia, and on the other abandoned and threatened by Lord Lytton. Lord Lytton, in point of fact, is as directly responsible for the entry of the Russian mission to Kabul as he is for the dispatch of his own.

But if Lord Lytton’s treatment of the Ameer was cruel and [Pg 195] ungenerous, criminal, at least to an equal extent, was his treatment of the people over whom he ruled. At that time there was an appalling amount of suffering all over India. The country had been ravaged by a series of famines. In the Punjab prices were abnormally high. The North-West Provinces were still unrecovered from a dearth, during which the Government of India had exhibited a rapacity and indifference to human suffering which would, with difficulty, be credited in England. Terrible as is the mortality resulting from a famine in India, the death-roll represents but a tenth part of the suffering which such visitations inflict. For every human being that dies, ten are left, without money and without physical strength, to struggle feebly for existence on the margin of the grave. They cannot give a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage. They may reckon themselves fortunate if their enfeebled powers can earn just sufficient to keep body and soul together. For all these wretched beings—and last year in Upper India they numbered many millions—the smallest rise of price in the necessities of life means death from hunger. A war, therefore, with the enormous rise of prices which it would immediately produce, was nothing less than a sentence of torture and death passed upon tens of thousands of our own subjects. Undeterred, however, by the warnings of experience, deaf to considerations of humanity and justice, the Government of India started on its wild-goose chase after a “Scientific Frontier.” The victims whom it trampled to death in this mad chase have never been numbered—they never can be numbered. The Afghans who died in defence of their village homes form but a hundredth part of them. The residue was composed of our own mute and uncomplaining subjects.

A war thus wantonly commenced resulted in a failure as ignominious as it deserved. Long before the Treaty of Gundamuck the ambitious policy of the Government had become an object of contempt and ridicule all over India. It was known that Lord Lytton and his advisers were at their wit’s end to discover something which might be made to do duty as a “Scientific Frontier,” and so bring a misjudged enterprise to a conclusion. But it is the peculiarity of our Ministers to believe that they can arrest the inexorable sequence of cause and effect by a dexterous manipulation of the faculty of speech. Lord Beaconsfield appears to have imparted to his colleagues his own belief in the omnipotence of phrases to remove mountains, and make rough places smooth. So the Treaty of Gundamuck was no sooner signed than Ministers and Ministerial journals raised a great hymn of triumph over the wondrous things which they had wrought in Afghanistan. The one solid national advantage to be derived from the sacrifice of Cavagnari and his comrades, is that this method of treating facts will have to be laid aside. Lord Lytton is not likely to appeal again to his “carefully verified facts” as a proof that he is a much wiser man than Lord Lawrence. Lord Cranbrook will not again express his conviction that the “objections (to an English Resident) expressed by Shere Ali [Pg 196] will be shown to have been without substantial foundation.” Yakoub Khan and his five attendants are all that remain of that “strong, friendly, and independent Afghanistan” which Mr. Stanhope informed the House of Commons had been created by the war. The anguished cry of the Daily Telegraph “for a punishment which shall ring from end to end of the Continent of Asia” is the latest expression of the “results incalculably beneficial to the two countries” which, according to Lord Lytton, were to flow from the Peace of Gundamuck.

A failure in policy more signal and more complete than this it is impossible to imagine. But it is to be noted that the Ministerial journals are doing their utmost to save the “Scientific Frontier” from the destruction which has overtaken the projects of the Ministry. And so long as a belief in this Frontier is cherished anywhere, the return to a safe and rational policy is obstructed. In the following pages, therefore, I shall, firstly, endeavour to show that the (so-called) “Scientific Frontier” is as purely fictitious as the “strong, friendly, and independent Afghanistan” which we were told had been created out of chaos by means of the war. And, secondly, I shall discuss the various lines of conduct which lie open to us, when we have occupied Kabul, in order to determine which is best fitted to ensure the stability of our Indian Empire and the contentment of its inhabitants.

The Scientific Frontier.

In all the discussions on this Frontier question, a very obvious, but all-important, fact has been persistently forgotten. It is that British rule in India is a rule based upon military supremacy; and that, therefore, our Indian army—English as well as native—is primarily a garrison, having its duties upon the places where it is quartered. We could not withdraw our troops from any part of India without incurring the risk of an outbreak in the districts thus denuded. The “Punjab Frontier Force” has always been a force distinct from the “Army of India,” and recognized as having special duties of its own. So far as I know, in the discussions on a “Scientific Frontier” no reference has been made to the above circumstance. The Indian army has been spoken of as if it were so much fighting power, which we were free to concentrate at any point we pleased. And to this oversight is due the hallucination that an improved frontier would enable us to diminish the strength of the Indian garrison (properly so called). The fact is, that before this last war we had almost the very frontier which our situation in India required. If the authority of the Ameer had extended up to the boundaries of our Empire, troubles between the two States must have occurred, resulting inevitably in the extinction of the weaker. The evil of such an extension of territory no one denies; we should not only have had to hold Afghanistan with a strong garrison—certainly not less than twenty thousand men—but we should have been compelled to maintain a frontier force, to guard against [Pg 197] aggression from without, either from Russia or Persia. Forty thousand men would have been needed for this double duty, in addition to the pre-existing garrison of India. But by a piece of supreme good fortune the authority of the Ameer did not begin where ours left off. Between us and him were interposed the tribes which dwell in the hills along our North-Western frontier. These tribes acknowledged allegiance neither to him nor to us. Broken up and divided amongst themselves, the worst they could inflict upon us was an occasional raid into our territories; and these we could repress without having to call the Ameer to an account for the lawlessness of his subjects. A few regiments of horse and foot were all that we needed for the defence of our frontier; while as against foreign invasion we possessed a frontier that needed no defence at all. That frontier consisted of the foodless deserts and inaccessible hills of Afghanistan. These were impenetrable to an invader, so long as we retained the friendship and the confidence of the people who dwell among them. Consequently, to quote the language of Sir Henry Rawlinson, “our main object has ever been, since the date of Lord Auckland’s famous Simla Manifesto of 1838, to obtain the establishment of a strong, friendly, and independent Power on the North-Western frontier of India, without, however, accepting any crushing liabilities in return.” We all know the manner in which Lord Auckland set about obtaining the “strong, friendly, and independent Power,” and the “crushing liabilities” we had to accept in consequence. Tutored by experience, we adopted a wiser and more righteous policy, which was producing admirable results.

The difficulty of establishing a stable friendship with Afghanistan arises from the character of the people. It is the habitation, not of a nation, but of a collection of tribes, and the nominal ruler of Afghanistan is never more than the ruler of a party which, for the time, chances to be strongest. Consequently there never existed an authority, recognized as legitimate throughout the country, with which we could enter into diplomatic relations. At the same time, their divided condition crippled the Afghans for all offensive purposes. We had, therefore, nothing to fear in the way of unprovoked aggression, and our obvious policy was to win the confidence of these wild tribes and their chiefs, by carefully abstaining from encroachments on their independence. Such, in fact, has been the policy which every Governor-General has pursued in the interval which divides the “plundering and blundering” of Lord Auckland from the like achievements of Lord Lytton. And it had been attended with the greater success, because under the firm guidance of two remarkable men, Afghanistan had progressed considerably towards the status of an organized kingdom. Shere Ali had diligently trod in the footsteps of his father, the Dost, and it is in these terms that the Government of India describes the rule and policy of the Ameer in the year 1876:

[Pg 198]

“Those officers of our Government who are best acquainted with the affairs of Afghanistan, and the character of the Ameer and his people, consider that the hypothesis that the Ameer may be intimidated or corrupted by Russia (even supposing there was any probability of such an attempt being made) is opposed to his personal character and to the feelings and traditions of his race, and that any attempt to intrigue with factions in Afghanistan, opposed to the Ameer, would defeat itself, and afford the Ameer the strongest motive for at once disclosing to us such proceedings. Whatever may be the discontent created in Afghanistan by taxation, conscription, and other unpopular measures, there can be no question that the power of the Ameer Shere Ali Khan has been consolidated throughout Afghanistan in a manner unknown since the days of Dost Mahomed, and that the officers entrusted with the administration have shown extraordinary loyalty and devotion to the Ameer’s cause. It was probably the knowledge of the Ameer’s strength that kept the people aloof from Yakoub Khan, in spite of his popularity. At all events, Herat fell to the Ameer without a blow. The rebellion in Salpoora in the extreme West was soon extinguished. The disturbances in Budukshan in the North were speedily suppressed. Nowhere has intrigue or rebellion been able to make head in the Ameer’s dominions. Even the Char Eimak and the Hazara tribes are learning to appreciate the advantages of a firm rule.... But what we wish specially to repeat is that, from the date of the Umballa Durbar to the present time, the Ameer has unreservedly accepted and acted upon our advice to maintain a peaceful attitude towards his neighbours. We have no reason to believe that his views are changed.”

This “strong, friendly, and independent Power”—this edifice of order and increasing stability—the British Government deliberately destroyed in the insane expectation of finding a “Scientific Frontier” hidden somewhere in the ruins. It is difficult to conceive of an action more impolitic or more cruel. In a month the labours of forty years were obliterated, old hatreds rekindled, and the wounds of 1838, which the wise and gentle treatment of former Viceroys had almost healed, were opened afresh.

We come next to the inquiry as to what this “Scientific Frontier” is, in order to obtain which this act of vandalism was perpetrated. This is a question involved in some obscurity. The Times is the great champion of the “Scientific Frontier,” but in its columns, as also in Ministerial speeches, it changes colour like a chameleon. Sometimes it is called the “possession of the three highways leading to India,” thereby rendering the Empire “invulnerable.” At other times it is recommended to us because it protects the trade through the Bolan Pass, and enables us to threaten Kabul. The fact is that the (so-called) “Scientific Frontier”—meaning thereby the frontier we acquired by the Treaty of Gundamuck—is a make-believe, an imposture. It is not the “Scientific Frontier” in pursuit of which we “hunted the Ameer to death” and reduced his territories to a condition of anarchy.

Those who have followed the history of the war with attention will remember that in September of last year the Calcutta correspondent of the Times was smitten with a really marvellous admiration for Lord Lytton. “India,” he wrote, “is fortunate in the possession at the present time of a Viceroy specially gifted with broad statesmanlike views, the result partly of most vigilant and profound study, partly of the application of great natural intellectual capacity to the close cultivation [Pg 199] of political science and the highest order of statecraft.” Here we have the portrait of the lion painted by himself; and it is not surprising that this superb creature should have regarded with considerable scorn the policy of his predecessors who never claimed to be “specially gifted” for the exercise of “the highest order of statecraft.” “The present measure,” the correspondent went on to say, “for the despatch of a mission to Kabul forms but a single move in an extensive concerted scheme for the protection of India, which is the outcome of a long-devised and elaborately worked-out system of defensive policy.” Here we have a fine example of the “puff preliminary.” In the issue of the Times for the 10th September this “extensive concerted scheme for the protection of India” is detailed at length, and is there plainly set forth as intended for a barrier against Russia:—

“The Indian Government are most anxious to avoid adopting any policy which would bear even the semblance of hostility towards Russia, but the extreme probability of a collision sooner or later cannot be overlooked. It is necessary, therefore, to provide for a strong defensive position to guard against eventualities. From this point of view it is indispensable that we should possess a commanding influence over the triangle of territory formed on the map by Kabul, Ghuznee, and Jellalabad, together with power over the Hindoo Khosh.... This triangle we may hope to command with Afghan concurrence if the Ameer is friendly. The strongest frontier line which could be adopted would be along the Hindoo Khosh, from Pamir to Bamian, thence to the south by the Helmund, Girishk, and Kandahar, to the Arabian Sea. It is possible, therefore, that by friendly negotiations some such defensive boundary may be adopted.”

Such were the moderate designs entertained by the Indian Government when they dispatched what they called a “friendly mission” to the Court of the Ameer. If Lord Lytton imagined that “friendly negotiations” would obtain these tremendous concessions from the Ameer, it would show that a training in “the highest order of statecraft” does not preserve even a “specially gifted” Viceroy from the credulousness of an infant. But his acts show that he entertained no such belief. He felt, as every one must feel who reads the extract I have made, that demands such as these must be preceded by a war. Hence the menacing letters addressed to the Ameer; hence the rude and insulting manner in which Sir Neville Chamberlain was ordered to attempt an entrance into Afghanistan without awaiting the permission of the Ameer; and hence, finally, the monstrous fiction of a deliberate “insult” inflicted upon us, when, in point of fact, we had been the “insulters” all along. The obvious intention throughout was to obtain a pretext for declaring war, because without a war the “Scientific Frontier” was manifestly unattainable. Lastly, when war had been determined upon, the same “official” correspondent came forward in the Times to make known the objects of the impending campaign. “We have,” he wrote, “been driven into what will probably be a costly war entirely against our will, and all our endeavours to avoid it. The occasion, therefore, will now be seized to secure for ourselves the various passes piercing the mountain ranges along the whole frontier from the Khyber to the Bolan; and [Pg 200] further strategic measures will be adopted to dominate entirely the Suleiman range and the Hindoo Khosh.”

It is impossible not to admire the hardihood of this remarkable correspondent when he alleges that the war was “entirely against our will, and all our endeavours to avoid it.” But this is not the matter with which I am at present concerned. The official character of these communications will be denied by no one, and they make it clear that the “Scientific Frontier” was intended as a barrier against Russia, and would have made the Hindoo Khosh the external boundary of the Indian Empire. Such a frontier is manifestly the dream of a military specialist, to whose mental vision the Indian Empire, with all its diverse interests, has no existence except as a frontier to be defended against the Russians. And it illustrates the ignorance and precipitate folly which has plunged us in our present difficulties that a project so wild should have been seriously entertained. To have carried it out the subjugation of Afghanistan would have been an indispensable preliminary, and then the civilizing of it, by means of a system of roads and strong garrisons throughout the country; the entire cost of these vast operations being defrayed by a country already taxed to the last point of endurance, heavily burdened with an increasing debt, and ravaged by periodical famines. Such, however, was the “Scientific Frontier” for which a “specially gifted Viceroy,” trained in “the highest order of political statecraft,” declared war against the Ameer. But the frontier which we obtained at the close of the war, and which Ministers and Ministerial journals would have us believe is the genuine article which they wanted from the beginning, is not only not this frontier, but it has not the smallest resemblance to it.

The new frontier does not differ from the old except in three particulars. We hold the Khyber Pass as far as Lundi Kotal, and we have acquired the right to quarter troops in the Kurram Valley and the Valley of Peshin. Of these the Kurram Valley is a mere cul-de-sac, leading nowhere. But I will not ask of my readers to accept of my judgment on this matter. Among the best known advocates for a forward and aggressive policy in Afghanistan is Dr. Bellew. An accomplished linguist and an experienced traveller, he accompanied Colonel Lumsden’s mission to Kandahar in 1857; he was also a member of the mission entrusted with the settlement of the Seistan boundary question, and no man living is better acquainted with the geography and people of Afghanistan. I believe it will not be denied that Lord Lytton, during the recent war, trusted largely in his knowledge and suggestions. He has thus expressed himself on the policy of occupying the Kurram Valley:—

“The Kurram Valley would involve the addition of about one hundred and fifty miles of hill frontage to our border, and would bring us into contact with the independent Orakzais, Zaimukhts, Toris, Cabul-Khel, Waziris, and others, against whose hostility and inroads here, as in other parts of the border, we should have to protect our territory. By its possession, as we are now situated, we should be committed to the defence of a long narrow strip of land, a perfect [Pg 201] cul-de-sac in the hills, hemmed in by a number of turbulent robber-tribes, who are under no control, and acknowledge no authority. In ordinary times its acquisition would add to the serious difficulties of our position. In times of trouble or disturbance on the border, its possession would prove a positive source of weakness, a dead weight upon our free action. In it we should run the risk of being hemmed in by our foes in the overhanging hills around, of being cut off from our communications with the garrison of Kohat, by the Orakzais on the one side, by the Waziris on the other. These are the disadvantages of the step. In return what advantages should we derive? Not one. With Kurram in our possession we certainly could not flank either the Khyber or the Goleri Pass, because between it and the one, intervenes the impassable snowy range of Sufed Koh; and between it and the other, intervenes the vast routeless hilly tract of the Waziris. From Kurram we could neither command Kabul nor Ghazni, because the route to either is by a several days’ march, over stupendous hills and tortuous defiles, in comparison with which the historical Khyber and Bolan Passes, or even the less widely-known Goleri Pass, are as king’s highways.”

This, I think, is sufficient to dispose of the Kurram Valley. If the old frontier has been rendered “invulnerable,” it is not the acquisition of the Kurram Valley which has made it so. There remains the Peshin Valley. This valley is an open tract of country lying almost midway on the line of march between Quetta and Kandahar, but nearer to the former than the latter. Three easy marches from Quetta suffice to place a traveller in the centre of it. It cannot accurately be described as an extension of our frontier, because it is dissevered from it by more than two hundred miles of difficult country. Between the valley and British territory, the lands of the Khan of Khelat are interposed in one direction, and numerous robber-tribes—Kakers, Murrees, Bhoogtees—in another. Until the valley is securely linked to the Indus by a railway from Sukkur to the Bolan Pass—a costly work, which could not be executed in less than seven years—it will be impossible to quarter more than a few thousand men in it—and these for six months of the year will be as completely detached from their base of supply and reinforcement in India, as if a tract of empty space ran between them. So far from ensuring any increased security to India by our premature occupation of this valley, we have only enhanced the chances of a hostile collision with the rulers and people of Afghanistan. We were already in military occupation of Quetta, and until easy and rapid communication had been established between Quetta and the Indus, nothing was to be gained by a yet further advance from our base. As a barrier against Russia this frontier is without meaning, and no better proof of this fact could be adduced than Sir Henry Rawlinson’s commentary upon its merits in the Article on the “Results of the Afghan War” which recently appeared in the Nineteenth Century:—

“The Afghan settlement is a very good settlement as far as it goes, but it is not immaculate—it is not complete. To yield us its full measure of defence, the Treaty must be supplemented by all legitimate precautions and supports. Persia must be detached from Russia coûte que coûte. Russia herself must not be left in any uncertainty as to our intentions. She must be made to understand ... that she will not be permitted unopposed to establish herself in strength ... even at Abiverd, nor to commence intrigues against the British power in India. [Pg 202] She might indeed be warned that, if necessary, we were prepared in self-defence to support the Turcomans—with whom she has no legitimate quarrel—with arms or money, or even to turn the tables on her by encouraging the efforts of the Uzbegs to recover their liberty.... It would be almost fatuity at such a moment to withdraw our garrison from Candahar.... Yacub Khan must be made to see that it is as much for his interest as our own to hold an efficient body of troops in such a position that, on the approach of danger ... they might, with military alacrity, occupy Herat as an auxiliary garrison.”

And what is implied in detaching Persia from Russia he explains in another part of his Essay.

“If Russia, as there is strong reason to believe, is now pushing on to Merv or Sarakhs ... with the ultimate hope of occupying Herat, then it might very possibly be a sound policy to extend to Persia the provisions of the Asia Minor Protectorate, or even to support her actively in vindicating her rights upon the frontier of Khorassán.”

From all which it would appear that our “Scientific Frontier” is simply good for nothing until it has been supplemented by an offensive and defensive alliance with the barbarian enemies of Russia all over the world. In order to ensure the safety of India, we must protect not only our own “Scientific Frontier,” but we must guarantee the Sultan all his Asiatic possessions; we must be ready at any moment to fight for the “integrity and independence” of Persia; we must be prepared to march our troops to Herat, and to show a front against the Russians on the Oxus; we must provide the Tekeh-Turcomans with arms and money, and assist the Uzbegs in their attempts to recover their liberty. Such are the “legitimate precautions and supports” which are requisite to render the new frontier immaculate and complete. But if with a “Scientific Frontier” we remain liable to such tremendous demands as these, it passes imagination to conjecture in what respect we could have been worse off when our frontier was “haphazard.”

The Circumstances of the Peace.

I shall next endeavour to show the circumstances which compelled the Indian Government to acquiesce in a peace which thus left the avowed object of the war unfulfilled. The preparations for the invasion of Afghanistan were on a scale corresponding to the magnitude of the enterprise as explained by the “official” correspondent of the Times. Troops were set in motion for the North-West frontier from garrisons in the extreme south of India. Men were sent from England to man heavy gun batteries. In addition to the troops under General Roberts, no less than three columns were formed to invade Afghanistan viâ Sukkur and the Bolan, and the same number to advance through the Khyber. The force which marched to Kandahar was supplied with four heavy gun batteries, and a fifth was sent up subsequently, although, except upon the supposition that permanent entrenched camps were to be formed in Afghanistan, these heavy guns were simply an encumbrance and a source of danger. But the campaign had barely commenced before the Government became aware that [Pg 203] it had utterly miscalculated its cost and difficulty. It is easy enough for an army to enter Afghanistan; it is next to impossible for it to subsist when it has got there. It is easy enough to scatter the Afghans when collected in battle array; it is next to impossible to subjugate them because they never are so collected. From these causes our raid into Afghanistan was but little removed from an ignominious failure. If we had not made peace we should have been compelled to evacuate the country from the enormous costliness of retaining troops in it. Under such circumstances, a peace was needed too urgently to allow the Government to stand out for any extraordinary concessions. They took what they could get, which proved to be, as we have seen, the right to place garrisons in the two valleys of Kurram and Peshin. But having gone to war in search of a “Scientific Frontier,” no alternative was left to them except to frankly confess that they had not found it; or to affirm that these two valleys constituted it.

We come now to the causes of our failure. These are all-important, and ought to dissipate for ever the fear of an invasion of India by Russia or any other Power. The plan of the campaign required that Afghanistan should be invaded from three points; but the most important operation was understood to be the advance of General Stewart upon Kandahar. As soon as hostilities appeared inevitable, a small force under General Biddulph had been sent forward to secure Quetta against a sudden attack. General Stewart followed later on, and the two columns numbered upon paper about 20,000 men, with 60 guns. Meanwhile, a third column was ordered to assemble at Sukkur in support, and placed under the command of General Primrose. These extensive preparations were supposed to indicate the determination of the Indian Government to push on as far as Herat. The distance which had to be traversed between Sukkur and Kandahar is, roughly speaking, about four hundred miles, but the country presents extraordinary difficulties. From Sukkur to Jacobabad extends a level tract which, during the rains, is flooded to a depth of seven feet. Between Jacobabad and Dadur—a town situated at the entrance of the Bolan Pass—extends the Sinde desert. Any large force marching across this desert would have to take with them, not only food and forage, but water, for only at intervals of fifteen or twenty miles is the parched and barren soil pierced by a few brackish springs, which just suffice for the needs of the hamlets which have sprung up around them. For six months of the year this desert is literally impassable. A hot wind sweeps across it, which is fatal to man and beast. Only once did the Indian Government venture to send troops across it after this “blast of death” (as the natives call it) had begun to blow. This was in the last Afghan war. Some hundreds of native troops were sent as an escort in charge of supplies, and in four days one hundred Sepoys perished, three hundred camp followers, and (I think) nine officers out of fourteen. Beyond Dadur is the Bolan Pass. This Pass is about eighty miles in length; [Pg 204] regular road there is none; what purports to be a road is merely the bed of a stream, which, during the rainy weather, is filled from bank to bank with a volume of rushing water. Neither food nor forage is obtainable in the Pass, and even the camels, when starting from Dadur, had to carry a seven days’ supply of food for themselves. Between Quetta and Kandahar the country is open, but neither is food procurable for a large force, nor forage for the horses and camels. From first to last General Stewart’s troops were almost wholly fed from India. The winter, luckily, was one of unprecedented mildness. But for this, in place of a march upon Kandahar, a terrible catastrophe could hardly have been averted. In ordinary seasons the snows fall heavily in and around Quetta early in November, and the cold is intense. The Bolan Pass is swept from end to end by hurricanes of wind and rain and snow. At the very time when these storms usually occur we had a dozen regiments and batteries straggling along the whole length of the Bolan Pass. Last year, however, there was neither snow nor hurricane, and our troops got through the Pass in safety. There was no opposition offered to our advance on Kandahar, but, from the want of food and the hardships which had to be endured, no less than twenty thousand camels perished upon the march. This mortality decided the campaign. When General Stewart reached Kandahar the situation was as follows:—The magazines at Quetta were nearly empty. Four months’ food was collected at Sukkur, but awaited carriage for its transport to Quetta. The third column under General Primrose was assembling on the Indus, and needed ten thousand camels to enable it to advance. To supply all these wants there were at Sukkur about 1600 camels. In order to lessen the pressure on the Commissariat, General Stewart divided his forces, despatching one column to hunt for supplies in the direction of Giriskh, and sending another with the same object to Khelat-i-Ghilzie. These movements caused the death from cold and hunger of a large additional number of camels, and demonstrated that there was not food in that part of Afghanistan sufficient for a force so large as that collected at Kandahar. Sinde, meanwhile, had been swept so bare of camels that it was impossible to collect a sufficient number for the carriage of food to Quetta before the hot weather had set in, and the march across the desert was barred by “the blast of death.” Immediate action was necessary if General Stewart’s troops were not to starve; and eight thousand men returned to India, reducing the garrison left at Kandahar to four thousand. This number, it was trusted, the Commissariat would be able to feed during the hot weather. But even this small force was so scantily supplied with carriage that it could not have moved, in a body, for fifty miles in any direction. It was, so to speak, nailed to the spot on which it was encamped. This want of food, far more than the physical difficulties of the country, is and always will be the insuperable obstacle to carrying on extensive military operations in Afghanistan. The people [Pg 205] obtain no more from the soil than just suffices for their own wants; and for days together an invading army has to pass over huge wastes with hardly a trace of human habitation, and consequently destitute of food.

Not a little amusing was the revulsion of feeling caused throughout India by the lame and impotent conclusion of the advance on Kandahar. It was a demonstration of the impossibility of an invasion which convinced those who were most reluctant to be convinced. If when we had all India from which to draw our supplies, and with no enemy to oppose us, our utmost efforts had merely sufficed to place four thousand men in Kandahar, and leave them there, isolated and defenceless, it was chimerical to suppose that the Russians could march for double that distance an army capable of attempting the conquest of India. “Kandahar,” writes a military correspondent to the Pioneer—the official journal of India—“is acknowledged to be a mistake, and it is hoped that a British army will never again be dispatched in that direction; it is a mere waste of men, money, and means, and an unsuitable line for either attack or defence.”

And the Pioneer, the very purpose of whose existence is to preach the infallibility of the Indian Government, thus endorses the remarks of its correspondent: “The theories about Kandahar are by this time exploded; indeed, there are many critics who have refused to adopt them from the very beginning; believing against General Hamley, that the main road into Afghanistan, whether we march as defenders of the Kabul Ameer or as avengers, must lie past Peshawur and Jelalabad.”

The failure on the Kandahar side placed the Indian Government in an extremely difficult position. An advance on Herat was plainly out of the question; even one on Ghuznee was beyond the power of General Stewart and his troops. Elsewhere the aspect of affairs was hardly less cheering. The expedition in the Kurram Valley had resulted in the somewhat ignominious retreat out of Khost. We had about 15,000 men holding the line from the Khyber to Jelalabad; but in effecting this, 14,000 camels had perished, and several of the regiments had been more than decimated from sickness and exposure. We had not subjugated a rood of territory on which our troops were not actually encamped. The main strength of the Ameer’s army was untouched, while all along our Trans-Indus frontier the hill tribes were in a state of dangerous unrest. The hot weather was coming on apace, when cholera and typhoid fever would be added to the number of our enemies. Thirty thousand troops had been set in motion, the garrisons in the interior of India dangerously weakened; three millions of money expended; and this was all that had been achieved. If now Yakoub Khan refused to come to terms, what was to be done? General Brown might be ordered to force his way from Jelalabad to Kabul, but what was he to do when he got there? The cost in money would be certainly heavy—the cost in men, not improbably, heavy also. And if, on our arrival at his capital, Yakoub Khan retired to either Balkh or [Pg 206] Herat, we were powerless to follow him. Yakoub Khan, in fact, had the game in his hands. We had shot our bolt and failed. He had simply to decline to make peace, and keep out of our reach. We should then have been compelled either to evacuate the country, or to occupy it with the certainty that a little later on we should be compelled to withdraw, when the drain on the finances of India became too heavy to endure. Sir Henry Rawlinson rightly says, that a very small force can march from one end of Afghanistan to another; but a very large force is requisite permanently to hold it. The tribal divisions which hinder unity of resistance hinder also the achievement of any decisive victory. Each tribe is an independent centre of life, which requires a separate operation for its extinction.

Such was the dilemma in which the Government found themselves involved. It was almost equally disastrous either to withdraw or to advance. If the troops were withdrawn, they would return burdened with the ignominy of failure. If they advanced, it would be into a tangle of military and political embarrassments, the issue of which it was impossible to foresee. There was only one way of escape possible, and that was to relinquish the ambitious projects from which the war originated, and acquiesce in any settlement which the adversary would agree to. The result was the Treaty with Yakoub Khan—a Treaty which I have no hesitation in saying has placed in peril the existence of our Indian Empire.

It is, indeed, impossible to account for the infatuation or the obstinacy which caused the Indian Government to stipulate for the reception of an undefended British Envoy at the Court of a prince in the position of Yakoub Khan. It would have been so easy to have introduced a clause in the Treaty, to the effect that as soon as Yakoub Khan’s authority was firmly established an English Envoy should be accredited to Kabul. This would have saved the political consistency of the Government without exposing the Indian Empire to the tremendous strain and peril of a second Afghan expedition. There was absolutely nothing to be gained, either in India or England, by immediately forcing an English Envoy on the luckless Yakoub; while it enormously enhanced the difficulties with which he had to cope. Nevertheless, in the face of historic precedents, in defiance of multiplied warnings, Lord Lytton deliberately resolved to reproduce, for the edification of Asia, the tragedy of Shah Soojah and Sir William Nacnaghten, the only difference being that on this occasion the principal parts were played by Yakoub Khan and Major Cavagnari. The fact is that from first to last in this bad business the chief agents were moving in a world of their own imagining. They appear to have persuaded themselves that they had but to refuse to see facts, and the facts would vanish. They had but to publish in the Times that Lord Lytton was a “Viceroy specially gifted,” and forthwith he would become what he was described to be. They had but to assert that the Afghans had no objection to the presence of a British Envoy at Kabul, and immediately their objections [Pg 207] would disappear. The mischief is done now past recall. Hardly even in 1857 was our Indian Empire in a position of greater peril than it is now. The persistent opposition between official acts and official language which has been the distinguishing characteristic of Lord Lytton’s administration has created an universal disbelief in the sincerity of our speech and the equity of our intentions. In the circle which surrounds the Viceroy, it seems, indeed, to have become an accepted maxim that it is a matter of indifference whether or not the natives are heartily loyal to our rule. And Sir Alexander Arbuthnot, in his Minute on the Repeal of the Cotton Duties, notes the fact as “a grave political danger.” It is a maxim which could not have been formulated except by the agents of a Government who felt that they had forfeited, past hope of recovery, the confidence of those they were set to rule over. Of the alienation itself there can be no question. The loyalty of the native has, probably, never been at a lower ebb since 1857. And any reverse in Afghanistan might kindle a flame that would spread from one end of India to the other.

But there is nothing to be gained by anticipating greater difficulties than already beset us. I will assume that no additional complications occur—that General Roberts has succeeded without much difficulty in the occupation of Kabul—that General Stewart has possession of Kandahar, and that all we have to determine is what to do with Afghanistan now we have got it. There are but three courses of conduct possible—withdrawal from the country altogether, a return to the arrangements formulated in the Treaty of Gundamuck, or annexation. I will consider the last first.


Nobody, so far as I know, desires to annex Afghanistan. But there are, I apprehend, but few who are aware of what is involved in “the annexation of Afghanistan,” and the danger is that we may drift almost unwillingly into annexation, to discover the full consequences only when too late. Everybody is agreed that India cannot defray the costs. This is set down by the supporters of Government at a sum of five millions annually. I believe it would be much larger; but we will assume that five millions is a correct estimate. By no possibility could we screw this additional sum from the people of India. Already the expenses of the administration increase at a far quicker rate than the revenues which have to meet them. The costs of governing Afghanistan, therefore, would have to be defrayed from the English Exchequer. But assuming this to be arranged, the pecuniary difficulty is the smallest which has to be encountered. To garrison the interior and frontier of Afghanistan we should require not less than forty thousand men—one-half of whom would have to be English soldiers. For, until the interior of Afghanistan is completely opened out by roads which can be traversed throughout the year, the garrisons holding the country would have to be sufficiently strong to be independent of reserves and supports during the winter. And if we attempted to hold Balkh and [Pg 208] Herat, twenty thousand English soldiers would not suffice. Now where are these English soldiers to come from? An addition of at least forty thousand men to our regular army would be required in order to supply them. But the English part of our Afghanistan garrison does not present so insuperable a difficulty as the native. It would not be safe, at least for many years, to organize our native garrison from the Afghans themselves. The regiments would have to be recruited in India specially for this service—but out of what races? The natives of the Southern parts of India have not the physique capable of enduring the severities of an Afghanistan winter. The Sikhs or Hindoos of Upper India would certainly not enlist in a service which carried them so far from their homes into the midst of an alien people and an alien faith. The only recruits we should obtain in large numbers would be Muhammadans. The danger, then, is obvious. In India the fierce fanaticism of the Moslem creed is mitigated by its contact with the milder tenets of Hindooism; but remove an Indian Moslem to Afghanistan, and he would very soon become inspired by the religious zeal of his co-religionists around him. We should be exposed to the risk, perpetually, of our native garrison combining with the people of the country to expel the infidel intruders from the land, and restore the supremacy of the Prophet. But even these dangers dwindle into insignificance when we contemplate the main result of an annexation of Afghanistan. That result would be that the hills and deserts of Afghanistan would no longer extend between the Russian Power and our own. We should have given to Russia the power to interfere directly in the internal concerns of India.

I have never supposed Russia to have any sinister designs upon India. After much reading I have failed to discover any proof of such designs. Those who suspect Russia obtain their evidence by a very simple process. They reject as incredible the objects assigned by the Russian Government as guiding its policy, and substitute their own fixed preconception in place of them. I believe that neither Russia nor any other Power would accept of India as a free gift. I cannot imagine a rational statesman coveting for his country so burdensome and unprofitable a responsibility. But that a Russian Government should ever attempt the invasion and conquest of India is to me beyond the power of belief. What Mr. Cobden wrote in 1835 appears to me as convincing at this day as it was then.

“China,” he wrote, “affords the best answer to those who argue that Russia meditates hostile views towards our Indian possessions. China is separated from Russia by an imaginary boundary only; and that country is universally supposed to contain a vast deposit of riches well worthy of the spoiler’s notice. Besides, it has not enjoyed the ‘benefit’ of being civilized by English or other Christian conquerors—an additional reason for expecting to find a wealthy Pagan community, waiting, like unwrought mines, the labours of some Russian Warren Hastings. Why, then, does not the Czar invade the Chinese Empire, which is his next neighbour, and contains an unravaged soil, rather than contemplate, as the alarmist writers and speakers predict he does, marching three thousand miles over regions of burning deserts and ranges of snowy mountains to Hindostan, where he would find that Clive and Wellesley had preceded him?”

[Pg 209] Apart, however, from the question of motives, it is not possible to march an army from Herat to the Indus. And we must always bear in mind that even if the Russian army reached the Indus, their real work, instead of being over, would only then commence. With that vast extent of hill and desert behind them they would have before them some sixty thousand British troops in an entrenched position. Even a victory would leave the invader begirt about with dangers and difficulty; a defeat would be his utter annihilation. Not a soldier of the army of invasion would return to tell the tale. It is impossible to divine where or how Russia could raise the money for so gigantic an enterprise; and if the money was forthcoming it is not credible that any Government should fling it away on such a hopeless undertaking. In assuming that Russia will refrain from an attack upon India, there is no need to credit either the Government or the people with more than that ordinary common sense which hinders men and nations from attempting to achieve the impossible.

The danger to India arises not from the existence of any Russian designs against our Empire, but from the belief that such exist. This belief will, so to speak, hybernate for a season; then all at once we find it in full activity, and creating a panic in every heart of which it takes possession. These are the critical moments for the well-being and security of our Indian Empire. In such a period of panic we rushed into the disastrous war in Afghanistan in 1838. Under the influence of like feelings we involved ourselves in the inglorious raid the first act of which has just terminated. On both occasions we have been guilty of assailing a Prince whose only desire was to form an intimate alliance with us. On both occasions we have carried fire and sword among a people with whom we frankly avowed that we had no assignable cause of quarrel. But so long as Afghanistan extended between us and the Russian dominions in Asia it was physically impossible to declare war against Russia. In our unreasoning panic we fell upon the Ameer and his people, because there was no one else to attack. But if we make the Hindoo Khosh our military frontier, then Russia, by assembling a few thousand men upon the Oxus, can, whenever she pleases, agitate India from one end to the other. She will not need to attack. The menace will be sufficient. For we must remember that the undisputed supremacy of British rule in India depends, in the main, upon two conditions, both of which are destroyed if we annex Afghanistan. The one is, that no heavier burden be laid upon the people than they are willing to bear; and the other, the absence of any hope of deliverance. The cost of maintaining our supremacy in Afghanistan will make the burden of our rule utterly intolerable alike to our native soldiers and our civil population; the assembling of a Russian army on the frontiers of Afghanistan will provide the hope of deliverance. The hazards and uncertainties of the situation would keep the natives in a state of perpetual unrest. The ambitious and the disaffected would [Pg 210] engage in intrigue and conspiracy; trade would languish; the internal development of the country be abruptly arrested; and the Empire would assuredly be wrested from our hands on the occasion of the first European war in which we became involved.

The Treaty of Gundamuck.

Annexation being impossible, is it wise, or is it practicable, to return to the provisions of the Treaty of Gundamuck? It is neither wise nor possible, for the simple reason that this Treaty was based upon a fiction. It was grounded upon the utterly false assumption that there existed in Afghanistan a central authority, acknowledged as legitimate by all the people of Afghanistan, with whom we could establish permanent diplomatic relations. There is no such authority. Instances have been adduced of attacks made upon European Embassies in other Oriental countries, and the argument has been put forward, that as, notwithstanding such outbreaks, diplomatic relations have been maintained with Turkey and Persia, there is no reason to conclude from the fate of Major Cavagnari that they are impossible in Afghanistan. The cases are not parallel. The Ameer of Kabul has no such authority in his capital or throughout his dominions as the Sultan or the Shah. It is possible, though not very probable, that a British Envoy might reside in Kabul without being murdered, but the measure of his utility would depend upon the fluctuating fortunes of the Ameer to whom he was accredited. The only way to obviate this would be to place a force at the disposal of the Envoy, sufficient to put down all insurrectionary movements against the Ameer. But if we undertook this duty, we should become responsible for the character of the civil administration. We could not punish the victims of a cruel or rapacious Ameer, without at the same time cutting off at their source the cruelty and rapacity, by the deposition of an unworthy ruler. And thus, in a very brief time, we should find that virtually we had annexed the country. Facts are stubborn things, and it is worse than useless to fight against them. Those who contend that the murder of Major Cavagnari ought not to be allowed to overturn what they term the “settled policy” of the Ministry, are bound to show in what way this “settled policy” can be carried out. How do they propose to obtain an Ameer towards whom all the sections of the Afghans shall practise a loyal obedience? And if no such Ameer can be obtained, with whom or with what are we to establish diplomatic relations?

The Policy of Withdrawal.

There remains the policy of withdrawal. The surest barrier against foreign aggression in India is to be obtained in the contentment and prosperity of the people. A people thus situated are prompt to repel invasion, and secret intrigue is deprived of the conditions essential to its success. But in order that the people of India should be prosperous and contented, it is absolutely necessary that the financial burdens they have to carry—and especially the military charges—should not [Pg 211] be enhanced. It is not possible to advance our military frontier—even to the extent of the (so-called) “Scientific Frontier”—without an enormous enhancement of our military expenditure. And all military expenditure is unprofitable, in the sense that it takes so much from the tax-payer and brings him no material equivalent. Consequently, whatever else this forward policy accomplishes, it cannot fail to impoverish the people and stimulate their discontent. Moreover, the incidents of the war have demonstrated that an invasion of India from Central Asia is physically impossible. We started from the Indus, firmly resolved to march to Herat, if necessary; but when we had reached Kandahar, we found it impossible to advance further. It would be equally impossible for a Russian army to march from Herat to the Indus. There is, therefore, no such reason for a change of frontier as was alleged in justification of the war.

In all probability there is not even a Tory in England who does not in his heart approve of a policy of withdrawal; but there are, he would say, difficulties in the way. There are. After all the glowing eulogies they have pronounced upon themselves, it will not be pleasant or easy for Ministers to transfer these eulogies to their opponents. It will be extremely disagreeable for a “specially gifted Viceroy” to have to confess that his chiefest gift was a gigantic capacity for blundering. But if India is to be preserved to the nation, there is no escape from this unpleasant alternative. Either Ministers must acknowledge an error that is now patent to all the world, or India must be saddled with the heavy costs and the incalculable risks of an annexation of Afghanistan. These risks, it must be remembered, are not transitory, but enduring; and if we accept them, we must be prepared for a doom of absolute effacement in the politics of Europe. The argument which will be urged against withdrawing from Afghanistan is, of course, the old familiar one—the loss of prestige. This is an argument impossible to refute because the exact worth of prestige is an unknown quantity, as to which no two people are agreed. But whatever be its value, to rush upon ruin and destruction in order to preserve our prestige is an act of insanity. It is as if a man should commit suicide in order to preserve his reputation for courage. When we retired from Afghanistan in 1842, we frankly confessed the mistake we had committed, and I am not aware that any evil resulted from the confession. The wrongs that we had done left behind them a legacy of evil, but not the confession of those wrongs. And so it is now. The frontier policy of Lord Lytton has ruined our reputation for justice, truthfulness, and generosity, and the stain of that policy must cling to us for ever. We shall not conceal or efface it by laying a crushing burden upon our native subjects and upon future generations of Englishmen, in order to evade the humiliation of a confession. On the contrary, we make what reparation is still in our power when, in the interests of both, we refuse to annex Afghanistan.

Robert D. Osborn,

[Pg 212]


La Science positive et la Métaphysique. Par Louis Liard, Professeur à la Faculté des Lettres de Bordeaux. (Ouvrage couronné par l’Institut de France.) Paris, 1879.

For some years past there has been observable in France, outside of and in opposition to Positivism, a growing movement in favour of idealism in general, and of the critical idealism of Kant in particular. This philosophy, which had previously found very few adherents in our country, has now begun to make its way into our teaching and our Universities. Berkeley and Kant have been the subjects of special works, and an attempt has been made to translate and reproduce their ideas by harmonizing them with the principal doctrines of spiritualism. We have here a movement full of promise and well deserving of attention.[1] Among the different productions affording some notion of this philosophical tendency, we make choice—as being both the most recent and the most complete—of a remarkable work, distinguished and crowned by the French Institute, Positive Science and Metaphysic, by a young and learned professor of Bordeaux, M. Louis Liard.

To begin with, M. Liard’s work is well composed, its plan being simple, severe, and lucid. It divides itself into three parts. The first is devoted to determining the nature and limits of positive sciences—that is, of the sciences properly so called—and to showing that they cannot pretend to abolish or replace metaphysics. In this portion of his book the author discusses the three forms of the experimental philosophy of our day, namely—Positivism, the philosophy of association, and that of evolution.

In the second part, the author examines what he calls Criticism—that is to say, the philosophy of Kant. The preceding discussion having demonstrated that the human mind is incapable of departing from [Pg 213] certain forms, certain laws, without which experience itself would be impossible,—the author now resolves these into five fundamentals: space, time, substance, cause, the Absolute. But are these forms or laws of the mind the laws of things as well? Have they an objective authority? We know that metaphysics hang upon the solution of this question. We know, too, what is the solution given by Kant to this great problem. In recognizing the necessary existence of these forms as laws of the mind he disputes their external reality; hence he only admits critical, not real and dogmatic metaphysic. Now, as regards this point the author of the book under our notice, instead of dissenting from Criticism as he had done from Positivism, appears on the contrary to accept it by its own name, and to admire and endorse its conclusions. He seems to grant or even to affirm that if Positivism is wrong, Criticism is right, and that, strictly speaking, metaphysic is not a science.

And yet if metaphysic were not a science in the strict sense of the word—that is to say, in the sense of objective sciences—would it follow that it was nothing, or nothing more than criticism itself? By no means: our author does not stop at that apparent solution; metaphysic according to him has an object that criticism has not reached, has not shaken; metaphysic has its own proper function, in which criticism can never take its place. Only instead of founding it on the object, we must found it on the subject. The mind must turn away from the external world and re-enter itself. It is there that, without need of forms or categories of which criticism has demonstrated the fallacy, the subject grasps itself not only in its phenomena but in its being, and determines itself in conformity to an end. This end is goodness: and this is the only notion we can form to ourselves of the Absolute. Thus, metaphysic is not the science of the object, but that of the subject; or if the name of science be still withheld, it is at least the study of the subject, and it is founded on and completed by morality. Thus, the author ends by an evolution very similar to that of Kant, but with certain differences which it will be our part to point out.

These constitute the three parts of the work. We will now take them up in succession.


Let us first of all consider the characteristics of positive science. It has for its object the conversion of facts into laws, or in other words the resolving the composite into the simple, the particular into the universal, the contingent into the necessary. But let us observe with our author that we are only dealing here with a relative simplicity, a partial universality, a conditional necessity. None of these characters present themselves in a really absolute manner. The simple is invariably composed of several terms; the universal only applies itself to a certain class of phenomena; the necessary is so only with relation to the consequences of a law, but the law itself always remains contingent. Thus, no [Pg 214] positive science can ever attain to the absolute. It is the same with methods. These methods are induction and deduction. Now, however precise these processes be, however marvellous the sequence and interdependence of the propositions they discover and demonstrate, their data are never more than particular and contingent facts; consequences, then, can only be proportioned to those data. Hence it is certain that the positive sciences cannot go beyond a relative universality or necessity. It may seem as though we ought to make an exception in favour of mathematics. But by a subtle discussion which it would be difficult to give summarily, the author shows that they too come under the same law, whence it follows that the domain of positive science properly so-called is contained within the relative.

From this consideration there has sprung up in our day a philosophy that reduces all sciences without exception to the knowledge of relation, and by so doing has declared all metaphysics impossible: and this philosophy is called Positivism. “Any proposition,” says Auguste Comte, “which is not finally reducible to the simple enunciation of a particular or general fact, is incapable of holding a real or intelligible meaning.” “There is nothing absolute,” says the same philosopher, “if it be not this very proposition that there is nothing absolute.” As to the proof of this proposition, it lies, according to the school in question, in the celebrated law which reduces all progress of the human mind in all orders of research to three phases: the theological phase, in which facts are explained by causes and supernatural agents; the metaphysical, in which they are explained by abstract and ontological entities; and, finally, the positive, in which phenomena are verified by experience and referred to their laws—that is to say, to constant and always verifiable relations of coincidence and succession.

Our author, having expounded this doctrine with much precision, proceeds to criticize it with equal sagacity. He points out what is illusory in this law of the three states; shows that it confuses metaphysic with scholasticism; and proves, finally, that, in aiming at merging mind in knowledge, and subordinating, as he says, the subjective to the objective, Positivism does not understand what it is speaking of, since all knowledge is ultimately referable to facts of consciousness—that is to say, to something subjective, which is in effect, as Descartes has pointed out, the only order of absolutely certain truths. Besides which, let positive science, or rather the positive philosophy, in the name of positive facts, proscribe metaphysic as it will, is it not evident that the fundamental conceptions of all science—number, atom, force, matter, cause, law—are metaphysical conceptions? Is it not evident that all science whatever is impossible without a certain number of principles or notions,—in a word, of intellectual laws, which even govern experience itself? As yet the positive school has not answered the learned demonstration of Kant on the necessity of the à priori principle, or rather it has ignored it. It has made no addition to [Pg 215] that old empiricism which the school of Leibnitz and of Kant had refuted.

But since the Positivism of Auguste Comte, too little versed in metaphysical knowledge to discuss it authoritatively, there have arisen two important schools, the one of association, the other of evolution. The former has endeavoured to base experience on an experimental and positive law; the latter has generalized this law, and made of it a particular case of a more general law embracing the whole of Nature—namely, the law of evolution.

The doctrine of association may be referred to the fundamental law that all ideas rising simultaneously or successively in the human mind, tend invariably to recall each other in the same order; this is what is called association of ideas. When any two ideas have thus been constantly associated without ever being separated (as, for instance, form and colour), they unite indissolubly and thus become necessary laws. Now, of all these necessary connections, the most universal is this: no phenomenon ever appears without having been preceded by some other phenomenon, which is always the same under the same circumstances. This law is that of causality, which is both the supreme principle and, at the same time, the result of all experience. To this doctrine of J. S. Mill and Alexander Bain our author opposes the two following objections:—1st, How does it explain the generalization? 2nd, How does it explain the necessity of the laws of the understanding? On the first point the English School appeals to a law that it calls the law of similarity or faculty of identifying the like in the different. But this is indeed, strictly speaking, a fact of association? Should not association, properly understood, be reduced to the law of contiguity—that is to say, to the fact of our ideas only becoming associated through relations of time? To admit the faculty of recognizing similarity in diversity, what is this but to admit mind, intelligence—something, in short, which is other than a simple external association? As to the second point, can we reduce the rational necessity that Kant and Leibnitz have laid down as the criterion of à priori principles to a pure necessity of habit—that is to say, to the automatic expectation of the future inscribed on the past? Where is the scientific guarantee in this hypothesis? Why should Nature bend to our habits? “Who can assure us that we do not dream in thinking of the future, and that the next sensation may not interrupt our dream by an unforeseen shock?” We see how far-reaching this doubt is; it affects not only metaphysic but science as well.

As to the philosophy of evolution, we know that, with regard to the origin of the principles of thought, it consists in linking the experience of present generations to that of generations past; in substituting secular for individual experience—in a word, in filling up by the accumulation of ages on ages the interval existing between particular and contingent facts and the universality of principles. This hypothesis is always at bottom no other than that of the tabula rasa, only it is no [Pg 216] longer the individual who is this tabula rasa, since each one has, by heredity, received a pre-formed intelligence. Nevertheless, under pain of contradicting the hypothesis, we are forced to admit that there was a first subject who, prior to the action of the object, must have been this tabula rasa. But here the objections of Leibnitz reappear. What can a pure, abstract, and unmodified subject be? And again, before any meeting of subject with object, we have to admit a pure object having nothing subjective, just as the subject had nothing objective. What shall we affirm of this pure object? Let us divest it if you will of colour, heat, sound; must we not at least conceive it as extended, as existing in time, conceive it, that is, according to the necessary forms that are supposed to be suppressed? For to say that it has been capable of existing without having anything in common with these forms, and that out of this unknown and nameless condition have arisen, by way of transformation, the notions of which we treat, were to admit that something can come out of nothing. We must therefore acknowledge that universal notions do at least exist as germs at the origin of evolution. It is not evolution that has created them, evolution has only developed them, and be they ever so attenuated, they still remain conditions without which nothing can be thought.

Such is the gist of the first part of M. Liard’s book, and we have nothing to add to it but our approbation. We can but admire the skilful analysis with which it begins, and the vigorous discussion accompanying that analysis. The three stages traversed by the experimental philosophy of our days—namely, Positivism, the Associative Philosophy, and that of Evolution—are competently and precisely summed up. The discussion is cogent, solid, and could not be further developed without injury to the unity of the work. No doubt it requires close attention to follow it; but it is lucid and well sustained. Whatever the difficulty metaphysic may encounter in constituting itself a science, and getting recognized as such, it has been established that empiricism is not a tenable position, since it has been found necessary to pass from positivism to association, from association to evolution; while evolution itself still supposed some pre-formation. One thing is certain, intelligence invariably contains a something that does not come from without—namely, intelligence itself.


The criticism of Positivism has taught us that there is no knowledge possible without à priori elements—that is to say, without laws inherent in thought, which impose themselves upon phenomena, so as to constitute veritable knowledge. This is the system of Kant, and thus that system avoids not only empiricism, but scepticism as well, though commonly confounded with it. For without necessary laws phenomena only form an arbitrary succession, entirely dependent upon the organization of the individual; we have no longer anything but [Pg 217] individual sensations. In the Kantian philosophy, however, the individual is subjected to laws that are superior to himself; these are the laws of human thought, and even, perhaps, of all thought whatever. These laws impose themselves on each one of us in a necessary and universal manner, and by so doing communicate to phenomena an objective reality in this sense at least, that they are for individuals veritable objects; and thus it is that mathematical truths are objects to the intellect, even supposing they should be nowhere realized in any existence independent of thought.

But are these laws of thought anything else than laws of thought? Do they really attain to objective reality—to things in themselves. Kant has denied that they do, and our author, in following in his steps, agrees, or seems to agree, with the “Kritik” of Kant.

Let us then resolve the fundamental laws of the human intellect into five principal concepts: these are, space and time, forms of sensibility, substance and cause, laws of external experience, and, lastly, the Absolute, the final and supreme condition of all knowledge. Now, according to Kant and our author, these notions, at least the four first, are at the same time necessary as subjective conditions of thought, and contradictory so soon as we seek to realize them outside of thought.

For example, that space and time are found by implication in every internal or external representation, that they are not the result of abstraction and generalization, this has been firmly established by Kant; for the elements from which some have sought to derive them already imply them. But, at the same time, they are only internal conditions, of which the objects are unrealizable outside of ourselves, and the reason of this is given by M. Liard, as follows:—Space and time have three essential characteristics, they are homogeneous, continuous, and unlimited. Now, if we seek to make of space and time things in themselves we may doubtless conceive them as homogeneous and continuous, but not as unlimited, for no actual magnitude is unlimited; all magnitude is expressed in numbers, and numbers are necessarily finite, an infinite number involving a contradiction.

We will not enter into a question here mooted by the author, leading to what Leibnitz calls the labyrinth of the continued (Labyrinthus continui), or of invisibles; we will content ourselves with pointing out that the reason here given is not by any means in conformity with the ideas of Kant—indeed, that it contradicts them. In fact, our author here applies to the two forms of sensibility the objection that Kant raised only about real things and the sensible world. The world, indeed, being composed of parts, can only be conceived as infinite by adding these parts to each other, and by thus supposing the actual reality of an infinite number. But it is not so with space, which, not being composed of parts, is consequently not representable by numbers. “There is only one single space, there is only one single time,” says Kant. The notion of space is therefore not formed by the infinite addition of small [Pg 218] portions of space and time. These are unities, not numbers. Hence illimitableness is given with the very intuition. “Space,” says Kant, “is represented as a given infinite magnitude,” als eine gegebene unendliche Quantität. Now, so soon as the infinite is given, instead of being made by a mental addition, it seems to us that the above difficulty vanishes.

Let us pass to the notion of substance and to that of cause. These two notions are necessary to render possible the connection of phenomena in the human mind. Our perceptions are, in fact, diverse; if they were only diverse, and had no unity, there would be no passage from one phenomenon to another; consciousness would arise and disappear with each phenomenon, to arise and die anew with the next, and so on. But then there would be no thought, for in order that thought should exist there must be at least two different things presented to the unity of consciousness. In other terms, we should be incapable of perceiving a changing thing without something that was changeless. Hence this is a necessary condition of knowledge. Now, let us see whether this condition can be rendered objective. According to our author it cannot, for if we subtract from surrounding things all the phenomena that fall under the domain of the senses, what remains? Nothing. Common-sense, indeed, believes in substance, but does not mean thereby an abstract and metaphysical entity, it means the whole of what strikes the senses; when the phenomenon is opposed to substance nothing is meant but that a new phenomenon has just added itself to preceding ones. Wood burns; here wood is the substance, combustion the phenomenon. This is how common-sense understands the matter; but if we separate from the idea of wood all that characterizes it as wood, nothing remains but a pure abstraction, of which common-sense takes no account, and has never so much as thought. Our author further combats the idea of substance by appealing to the metaphysical difficulties that it suggests. Is there only one substance, or are there several? Either hypothesis is equally difficult to sustain. In other words, substance is nothing more than that law in virtue of which the mind connects phenomena in one and the same act of thought.

Here, again, we are obliged to say that the preceding arguments against the objectivity of the notion of substance are, in our opinion, far from conclusive. In the first place, it seems to us a false philosophical method to exclude an object from the human mind because it suggests difficulties that we are incapable of solving. Every object must be presented to us as existing before we can judge of the possibility of that object. Perhaps we do not possess the means of solving all the questions which the existence of an object may suggest, but this is no reason why it should not exist. The existence of things cannot be subordinated to the limits of our understanding; it is this very principle which seems to us soundest of all in the “Kritik” of Kant. Even should we be for ever incapable of knowing whether there is one substance or whether there are many, even should we be for ever doomed [Pg 219] to doubt as to this point, it would not follow that the existence of one or of many substances were thereby done away with. Moreover, the criticism of our author goes much further than the imperilling the objectivity of substance; it really bears against the very notion itself. If, in fact, every phenomenon being withdrawn, nothing remains any longer in my mind, it is not merely objective substance that vanishes, it is the notion itself. What, indeed, is a notion which, analyzed, comes to naught? And what is this necessary law which is a nonentity? Our author tells us that if we remove all the accidents there remains “nothing perceptible to the senses.” This is mere tautology, for it is too evident that nothing sensible ought to remain in the notion, all sensible accidents having been withdrawn; but what does remain is that without which phenomena could not be connected. And this is no empty concept, for how should an empty concept have any uniting power? And, lastly, when the author, correcting himself, as we think, says that the notion of substance reduces itself to what he calls a “fundamental phenomenon,” he does nothing but change the word, and in reality reverts to what we call substance. For in what sense does anything fundamental—that is to say, that to which other phenomena ultimately reduce themselves, and which cannot be reduced to any other—still preserve the name of phenomenon? All this, therefore, is but admitting under one name what has been denied under another.

The criticism of the notion of cause is quite similar to that of the notion of substance. It is a notion necessary to the mind, for just as without substance there can be no mental connection between simultaneous phenomena, in the same way without cause there can be no connection between successive phenomena. Causality is the necessary law that connects each phenomenon with its anterior conditions. Without this law there could be no science, no induction, no experience. It cannot, consequently, be derived from experience, since it is the very condition of it. But do we seek to render cause objective as well as substance? If so, we must understand it in a different sense. Cause is no longer merely a phenomenon anterior to another, the antecedent of a consequent. It is something quite different, it is force, the active power, that initiates the movement, and of which we find the type in our own consciousness. Hence, to render cause objective is nothing less than to spiritualize the universe, to suppose everywhere causes similar to ours—it is a kind of universal Fetichism. And, further, we fall into the same difficulties as we did with regard to substance. Is there only one cause or many causes? Lastly, causation thus understood is of no use whatever to science, for science has no need at all of metaphysical forces, that which is necessary to science, and employed by it under the name of force, being a measurable quantity which it disengages from phenomena and from experience.

On this new ground the difficulty that confronts critical idealism is the same as that affecting the notion of substance. It lies in defending [Pg 220] the position against empiricism, from which are borrowed all the arguments against the reality of the cause, while attempting, nevertheless, to preserve the notion of it. How succeed in retaining as an à priori law what empiricism declares to be only an acquired habit? How explain a law of mind imposing a determined order on external phenomena? How can the entirely subjective need of relation determine phenomena to produce themselves in the order desired by our intelligence? The thunder rolls: my mind, in virtue of an innate law, insists on this phenomenon being connected with a certain totality of antecedent phenomena—namely, heat, the formation of clouds charged with electricity of different kinds, the meeting of these clouds, and the combination of the two electricities, &c. How and why have these phenomena produced themselves in order to satisfy my mind? Our author somewhere reproaches the partisans of innate ideas with supposing ideas on one side and phenomena on the other. How can he exonerate Kant’s system from this objection? No philosopher ever insisted more than he on the opposition between matter and form, the former being, as he says, “given à posteriori,” the latter ready prepared à priori in the mind. No philosopher, not even Leibnitz, has more radically separated sensibility which is passive from the understanding whose principle is spontaneity. How do these two opposite principles happen to agree? Even were it pointed out that our senses themselves are innate, since our sensations are but the manifestation of the specific activity of each one of them—light, of the optic nerve, sound, of the acoustic—it still remains certain that our sensations are only subjective as regards their content and not as regards their origin; they arise in virtue of causes to us unknown. How should understanding, by aid of a purely mental law, and in order to its own satisfaction, evoke sensible phenomena from nothingness, and if it had such a power, it could only be in virtue of an active force, that is, of a veritable causality? You say that you require relation, without which there could be no knowledge. And why must there be knowledge because you feel the need of it? And why should there not be in the understanding a need of unity and relation that sensibility does not satisfy? To say that the mind at the same time that it thinks the law produces phenomena conformable to that law, is to make the mind itself the cause in the objective and metaphysical sense of the word—is no other than that universal spiritualism that the author began by refuting. We are therefore very far from admitting his criticism of the principles of causality. Let us go on to the notion of the absolute.

M. Liard begins very properly by pointing out the confusion too often made between the notion of the infinite and that of the absolute. He says that the infinite can only be strictly understood in the mathematical sense, but that hence, as Leibnitz has said, the true infinite is the absolute. He admits the existence in the mind of the notion of the absolute in so far as it is inseparable from that of the relative. The [Pg 221] Scotch philosopher, Hamilton, had endeavoured to suppress this notion, and had reproached Kant for not having completely exorcised the phantom of the absolute,[2] and for having retained it in the character of idea while contesting its objective existence. It is remarkable that on this point, so decisive for metaphysics, Hamilton should have been opposed and refuted by the more modern English philosophers, who often pass for having pushed the critical and negative spirit further than he, when, indeed, on this point it is just the contrary. Herbert Spencer especially is one whom it is interesting to consult here. He maintains against Hamilton the notion of the absolute as positive, not negative, “as the correlative notion of the relative, as the substratum of all thoughts”—I quote verbally—“as the most important element of our knowledge.”[3] He also maintains in opposition to Hamilton that the affirmation of the absolute is “a knowledge and not a belief.” Only according to him this object that underlies all our thoughts is absolutely indeterminable by us. We know that it is, not what it is. It is the incomprehensible, the unknowable.

M. Liard seems to us substantially to admit all these conclusions. “Existence by others,” he says, “is not to be understood without self-existence.” “Without the spur of the notion of the absolute, how comprehend the obstinate persistence of the human mind in transcending the limits of the relative? Is not this a proof that the relative is not sufficient to itself?” It is one thing to affirm the absolute, another to determine its nature. Even granting that we be powerless to speak as to the essence of the absolute, and that it can never be for us other than the indeterminable and unknowable, “is it nothing to be assured of the existence of an unknowable? At all events religious beliefs might in default of scientific certainty find in an irremovable basis this conviction.”

We see therefore that our author agrees with Mr. Herbert Spencer in granting the existence of the absolute; he does not seem to reduce it, as Kant does, to a mere idea. He confines himself to saying that it cannot be determined. He shows that none of the notions that have been previously examined can fill up the concept of the absolute. Neither space, nor time, nor substance, nor cause, nor the totality of phenomena, can be raised to the notion of absolute. It is therefore indeterminable. Now, as the absolute is the proper object of metaphysics, it follows that metaphysics lack an object, having nothing to say thereon. Hence it is self-condemned, and consequently metaphysics is not a science.

Such is the conclusion of the second part. The first appeared to raise us above phenomena by establishing the necessity of thought and of its fundamental law. But the second confines us within the domains of thought, and forbids us to go beyond. There is, indeed, a science of [Pg 222] thought, but this science is criticism, not metaphysics. Have we, then, only escaped from positivism to fall into the abyss of scepticism?

Before explaining in what manner the author has endeavoured to escape from this abyss, there is room for an important remark on the previous discussion as to the notion of the absolute. Scepticism on this point may assume three forms. Either, first, we do not even possess the notion of it, our notion is entirely negative,—the absolute is the non-relative, is indeed the relative with a negation: such is the view of Sir W. Hamilton. Or else, secondly, we have the notion of the absolute, of being in itself and by itself, of the superlatively real being, ens realissimum, as Kant expresses it, but it is only a notion, we cannot affirm the existence: this is Kant’s doctrine. Or, thirdly, we have indeed a positive notion of the absolute, and we necessarily affirm its existence, only we are unable to determine its nature: this is the conclusion arrived at by Herbert Spencer. Now, of these three doctrines the two first alone, in our opinion, belong to what may be called criticism. The third is manifestly a return to dogmatism. The more or less of determination in the notion of the absolute is only the second problem of metaphysic; the first is the existence of that absolute. And, moreover, the doctrine of the divine incomprehensibility has always been maintained by the greatest metaphysicians as well as the greatest theologians. All mystics incline to it. There may therefore be room for debate as to the more or less approximative character of our concepts of the absolute. That any of these are adequate, or absolutely adequate, is what no philosopher has ever thought himself obliged to maintain. No doubt, to define the absolute as the unknowable, is to express the doctrine under a very rigorous form, but one could hardly refuse to allow the absolute to be the incomprehensible.

Consequently, then, if the author, as appears to be the case from the passages we have quoted, thinks with Mr. Herbert Spencer that the notion of the absolute corresponds to an existence, and if he contents himself with maintaining its indeterminability, we may, if we like, consider this to be a singularly attenuated metaphysic, but we are not entitled to deny that it amounts to a departure from criticism and a return to metaphysic. If, on the other hand, criticism does at least suppose one fundamental datum,—thought, namely, and with the thought the thinking,—we are still forced to grant to Descartes, and consequently to metaphysic, the existence of the thinking subject; and hence that science which our author declares not to be one would be found already in possession of the claim by the single fact of what he has called the criticism of two fundamental postulates: I think, I am—I think the absolute, the absolute is. And is this then nothing?

We are therefore of opinion that M. Liard ought to have concluded the second part of his work as he did the first—that is to say, that he ought to have shown the insufficiency of criticism as he did that of positivism. To our mind, criticism supposes metaphysic, as positivism [Pg 223] supposes criticism. Metaphysic contains the reason of criticism, as criticism does that of positivism. Instead, then, of saying that metaphysic is not a science, we should rather call it the culminating point of science. But in place of following this natural order, which is, indeed, only his own method, our author has preferred to prove criticism right in the second part of his book, and metaphysic right in the third, by a sort of saltus, not contained in what goes before. He has chosen to appear nearer to Kant than he really is; has chosen to carry on his own evolution in Kant’s manner, and to rebuild on different bases what he had demolished; but we shall see that this evolution is in reality quite different from that of Kant, and that his justification of criticism is only apparent, or at least if he defends it, this is really only in order subsequently to undermine it.


Kant’s evolution, which makes dogmatism to result from scepticism, was an entirely moral evolution, substituting for speculative the authority of practical reason. The evolution we have now to deal with is of a quite different character; it consists in passing from objective to subjective knowledge, from the object to the subject. Even if all that has been just said on the side of criticism were true, there is at least invariably one existence that remains untouched by it: this existence is that of the thinking subject, and this existence is incontestable. What appears to us as a circle to the circumference are objects, in the centre is the subject. We do not confound ourselves with our sensations, we distinguish between them and ourselves. Can, then, this consciousness of the thinking subject be no more than the transformation of external events? No; for all exterior events reduce themselves to one—i.e., motion; and all interior events to one—i.e., thought. There is no transition or transformation possible between one of these phenomena and the other. “We acknowledge,” says a distinguished savant, Professor Tyndall, “that a definite thought and a molecular action of the brain occur simultaneously, but we do not possess the essential organ, nor even a rudiment of the organ we should require in order to pass by reasoning from the one to the other.” Thus, then, the subject exists and is not reducible to the object. Shall we say that this subject is nothing more than a sum of phenomena? But what adds up these phenomena? A common bond is needed. Have we any consciousness of such a bond? “Yes,” replies our author, “we call internal states of consciousness, past, present, or possible; we attribute them to ourselves, we say that they take place within us. What does this mean if the ego to which we refer them is only their succession? How comprehend the continuity of consciousness?” In a word, our author admits absolutely that the ego has a consciousness of its own being, as distinct from its sensations and from external objects. “It is,” he says, “an activity constantly modified, but yet always one, [Pg 224] which dominating its states refers them to the unity of one same consciousness.”

Here, then, we have, without possibility of mistake, the fundamental doctrine of the spiritualistic philosophy of Descartes, Leibnitz, Maine de Biran, and Jouffroy. By laying down this principle the author believes himself enabled to reinstate that metaphysic which criticism had condemned. We, for our part, have no doubt of this; but we fail to see how the author can at the same time hold this principle and the Kantian principle of idealism. The “Kritik” of Kant bears upon the subject as well as the object; according to it both the one and the other are unknowable and incomprehensible noumena. The human mind is but a complex compound of sensations and categories, the unity of which is reached by the same process as the unity of external objects. No doubt Kant is, indeed, obliged to concede something to the ego, the cogito as he calls it; but he does not very clearly say what it is; it is not a substance, not a category, not a result. “It is,” says he, “the vehicle of all categories.” What can be more vague? The metaphor shows both how little disposed Kant was to assign its due part to the ego—how vague and uncertain he left it, and at the same time how he was forced to take it into account. The ego, the active, continuous, self-conscious ego, is the rock ahead to Kant’s philosophy. For how dispute the consciousness of substance and of cause, when one admits “a continuous activity dominating all states of consciousness and reducing them to unity?”

What, then, is substance, according to our author? It is, he says, something that does not change considered as the necessary condition of that which changes. What is cause? Is it not the power of initiating any given movement? Now, this same consciousness which gives us the ego as a continuous activity, does it not in so doing give it us as the condition of phenomena and as the productive cause of movement in voluntary efforts? Consequently, to grant that the ego knows itself as ego, and as activity, is in point of fact to restore the notions of cause and substance which had been done away with. At most all that has been gained from criticism is the difficulty of comprehending substance and cause without objective, that is, material form. Its results, then, amount only to the incomprehensibility of matter. But the cause of metaphysic is not to be confounded with that of matter; metaphysic is not tied to the existence of materialism; and were it even led in self-defence to deny the very existence of matter altogether, one does not see that such a negation need cost it much. Descartes did not hesitate to place the existence of bodies in doubt, in order to save the existence of spirit. Malebranche did not believe that the existence of bodies could be proved except by revelation. Leibnitz did not think that bodies were more than phenomena, the reality of which was spiritual. There is, then, no common cause between the interests of metaphysic, or of what Kant calls dogmatism, and the question of material objectivity, which may be left [Pg 225] open without compromising the fundamental basis of things. How, then, can our author appear to assign the victory to criticism while in reality depriving it of its chief support by restoring to the ego the immediate consciousness of itself as a being, one, active, permanent, and continuous? Kant may have played this game, because, in effect, outside of criticism, he only admits moral reasons for reinstating dogmatism. But although our author follows him too on that ground, he nevertheless enters in point of fact upon an entirely different path when he invokes immediate consciousness as a guarantee of the existence and activity of the mind. These are not moral and practical, but metaphysical reasons. Metaphysic, then, independently of morality, has its own proper foundation, which, far from being affected by criticism, is the very foundation of criticism itself. This foundation once admitted, are we entitled to declare metaphysic no science? We hold that we are not. Doubtless, if by science be meant an absolutely adequate knowledge of the object, such as mathematics affords, metaphysic cannot pretend to such knowledge; but we have here only a question of degree. The perfection of a science is not the same thing as its existence. A science is what it is by reason of the difficulties its objects present, and the imperfections of its method; but it is science none the less if it possesses a given object and a solid foundation. Now, such a foundation is admitted by our author when he admits the intuition of the ego by itself; and hence it is no longer a mere question of words to refuse the name of science to the series of deductions that may be drawn from a principle which has been admitted valid.

If our author grants the foundation of metaphysics by adhering to the Cartesian principle of the immediate knowledge of the mind by itself, he at the same time acknowledges its most elevated term by defending the existence of an absolute perfection, a supreme type of spirituality. “If in ourselves,” he says, “relatively perfect ideas realize themselves in virtue of their relative perfection, why should not the total perfection from whence they are derived exist? There is nothing contradictory in such an absolute.” Is not this to admit the doctrine of the perfect being as the Cartesian School has constantly expressed it? but is it enough to say that the total perfection may exist, enough to inquire why it should not exist? Should we not go further, and say with Bossuet, “On the contrary, perfection is the reason of being.” Here we are forced to allow, in the views, or at all events in the expressions of our author, a fluctuation and uncertainty which now impel him towards the critical, and now towards the metaphysical position, without his arriving at a sufficiently decided conclusion. “The absolute,” he says, “would then be the ideal of moral perfection. But by such a definition do we not compromise its reality?” To which doubt he replies that the “true reality is precisely the ideal.” Now, this is an equivocal and obscure reply, demanding explanation. No doubt the reality claimed for the perfect being is not a sensible and material [Pg 226] reality. But there is another than material reality—there is a spiritual, such as is manifested to us in the reality of consciousness, in the immediate activity and intuition of our being. We may, indeed, style this sort of existence ideal, in opposition to material existence; but the expression is incorrect, for that which, properly speaking, is an ideal existence is one merely represented to the mind when thinking of something that no longer exists, does not yet exist, nor ever will exist. Now, the question is, whether the moral absolute, of which we have just had the definition given, belongs to the first or to the second of these ideals; whether it exists for itself, or only for us, in so far as we think it, and while we think it. For a mode of existence like this, dependent on our own thought, is very far from being the supreme reality; it is only a modal and subjective reality. Thus our author, we see, expresses himself too uncertainly. Nevertheless, his own principles sufficiently authorized him to declare himself with more precision. Indeed, we have seen, on the one hand, that he, with Mr. Herbert Spencer, affirms the existence of the absolute; and, on the other hand, that he acknowledges the concept of total perfection to be in nowise contradictory. Granting so much, must not absolute perfection be the reason of the existence of the absolute, as relative perfection is the reason of the existence of the relative? If, however, any choose to call that supreme perfection the Idea, with Hegel—as Plato calls it the Good, Aristotle the pure Act, Descartes the Infinitely Perfect Being—we have nothing to object, so long as it be clearly understood that the idea shall signify the identity of the thought and the being, and not merely a subjective conception of the human mind.

To sum up: it results from what has been already said, that spite of his powers of thought, the author has not been able to escape a certain fluctuation between criticism and spiritualism, and has only arrived at a contradictory compromise between the two conceptions. From criticism he borrows the ideality of the notions of space, time, substance, cause, and the idea of a moral absolute founded on purely moral motives. From spiritualism he borrows the existence of the absolute as the necessary correlative of the relative, and the consciousness of the subject which perceives itself in its continuity as the cause of its phenomena; and, finally, the idea of a total perfection, which may, without involving any contradiction, have the reason of its existence in itself. These two orders of conception are not so closely connected as they should be; too much is conceded to criticism, too little to metaphysic; and M. Liard inclines overmuch to give to morality the exorbitant privilege of deciding between the two.


But is this equivalent to saying that we blame our author for his enterprise, and for the attempt he has made to reconcile criticism with dogmatism? By no means; for we are inclined to believe that this is [Pg 227] the very aim that all metaphysic should set before itself at the present day. How, indeed, could we possibly admit that so powerful, so lofty an intellectual effort as that initiated by Kant, which under the name of criticism, of subjective or objective idealism, or even of positivism, has but been the development of his primary thought; that so prodigious a mental movement as this should be absolutely void of meaning, and destined to leave no trace in science? How believe that since the days of Descartes the human intellect has gone mad? Would not this be to express ourselves in the same way as those who, including Descartes himself in this condemnation, have maintained that since St. Thomas the whole course of human thought has been only one long error? Can there be anything more contrary to the laws of the human mind than this hypothesis of absolute truth discovered once for all, leaving no room beside it for anything but error? And besides, what more did Kant do than, under the form of a system (a defective form, no doubt, but hitherto the only one known to philosophy)—what more, we ask, did he than develop and render prominent what had been implicitly contained in the teaching of all preceding metaphysicians? Had not they all assigned a share in human consciousness to the subjective and relative, and very often a larger share than we are led to think, if we only regard their conclusions? Has there, for example, been since the days of Plato a single metaphysician who has denied the knowledge of the senses to be relative, and has the full scope and bearing of this principle been accurately measured? Can that be denied which has been scientifically demonstrated, which Descartes already affirmed, i.e., that light and sound—Nature’s two great languages—are only the products of our physical organization, and that outside of the eye that sees, and the ear that hears, there is nothing external to us but a series of vibrations and undulations, which are neither luminous nor sonorous? Reduced to itself, without the presence of men or animals, matter is merely darkness and silence! What sort of matter may this be, and how little resembling the one we know? But is not, it may be said, the reality of that matter attested at least by resistance, by impact? The reality—yes; but is the very nature of the external thing, as it is in itself, manifested thereby? What is impact, what is resistance, if not a mode of our sensations? To be assured of this, we have but to turn to all that metaphysicians teach us as to the nature of God. All agree in saying that God has no sensations. If God be cognizant of matter, as is indubitable, it follows that He does not know it through sensations similar to ours. The argumentum baculinum which appears so convincing to Sganarelle, would be powerless with regard to a pure spirit, still more an infinite spirit. Now is not this as much as to say that impact is the mode of action bodies exercise on each other, and by which sentient beings are made aware of their existence, but that it is a mode purely relative to the sensibility of finite beings? Say that, we at least admit with Descartes the reality of extension. But what is the [Pg 228] real size of the extended things by which we are surrounded, and which according to the shape of our lenses we see enlarged, diminished, or even distorted in a thousand ways? Were it to please God, as Leibnitz has said, to collect the immensity of worlds into a walnut-shell, while preserving the proportion of objects, we should never find it out; and such diminution might be carried on infinitely, without ever reaching any term of smallness. ‘We grant it,’ will be the reply—‘all sensible knowledge is relative; Plato, Malebranche, Leibnitz, have sufficiently told us this; but above the senses there is the understanding, which alone is made for truth. Our senses give us the appearance of things, our understanding makes us see them as they are in themselves.’ Nothing more true, and this is the basis of metaphysics. But the question is, to what point the understanding is separated and separable from sensibility, and reciprocally, to what point sensibility enters into the understanding. Is there anything in us which can really be called understanding pure? Understanding—yes; but pure—no! Man cannot think without images, says Aristotle; this alone demonstrates that our understanding is always obliged to sensibilize its most abstract concepts. Moreover, between pure concepts and the data of sensibility there is still a debatable and obscure region—that, namely, of space and time. And here it is that Kant has made his mark ineffaceably. It is by so doing that he renovated metaphysics. He believed, thought, that both these domains belonged to sensibility and not to intelligence, that they too were only modes of representation—that is to say, modes purely relative to the nature of our mind. On this point also traditional metaphysics came to his support, at least as regards time. For is it not said by all schools whatever that God is not in time, that He is an eternal Now, that past and future are nothing to Him? Is it not this conception which is constantly appealed to as affording the solution of the conflict between divine prescience and human liberty? Now to affirm that God is not in time, and that He sees all portions of time in one sole and eternal present, is not this as much as to say that time is only the mode of representation of finite beings with regard to themselves; that, consequently, it is an image belonging to their finitude, but not to what they are in themselves, since God, who must see them as they are, sees them in an absolutely and radically different manner? Let us add another difference between the human and divine intelligence, pointed out by Bossuet, when he said, “We see things because they are, but they are because God sees them.” Therefore in God intelligence is anterior to things, in us posterior. Now, though we can, through artistic creation, form some idea of an intelligence anterior to things, the analogy is, after all, a coarse one, since in us creative imagination only deals with materials borrowed from without. Hence it follows that our intelligence is but a very imperfect image of the divine. Now, as the latter alone can be the type of veritable intelligence, we can only attribute to ourselves a relative intelligence, subordinated to the conditions of the creature. But [Pg 229] does not this amount precisely to saying that we only see things in a subjective and human manner, and that, consequently, we do not know them as they are in themselves? Let us go further still; let us raise ourselves to conceptions of the perfect being, the divine being. Here, too, all metaphysicians agree in acknowledging that we have only an entirely relative view of the Divinity. Is there one who admits that we can, without anthropomorphism, understand literally all the attributes that we impute to the Deity? Has not God Himself defined Himself in Scripture as Deus absconditus, and does not the doctrine of mysteries in every great religion imply that the true essence of the Deity is unknown to us, and that, consequently, the philosophic doctrine of the attributes of God is a purely human conception, by which we strive to represent to ourselves the unrepresentable, and to bring within the grasp of our sensibility and our imagination the august and sublime notion that confounds all created substance?

This is what we are taught by all metaphysic doctrine whatever, and not only by that of Kant, Plato, St. Augustine, St. Thomas, Descartes, Malebranche, Leibnitz, Fénelon: all alike teach us that the senses are but a confused and relative knowledge, that space and time are modes of finite existence, that God can only be conceived of by analogy, and not in His essence. Are such conceptions as these very different from those of Kant? And if he has taken them up again under another form, if by isolating he has exaggerated them, his is the merit of having brought them into prominence, of reminding us of them, and forcing us to assign them a more important place in our doctrines. Despite the warnings of the greatest minds, and of all great minds, are we not ceaselessly tempted to yield to the automatic instinct which makes us believe things to be as we see them, makes us suppose the existence of a matter, solid, coloured, sonorous, cold, or hot, such as the senses acquaint us with; makes us believe in an absolute space and time, with which we no longer know how to deal when we think of the true Absolute; makes us conceive of this true Absolute or Goodness as of a species of great man, that we strip of a body, without even reflecting whether we have really the power of representing to ourselves anything absolutely incorporeal? It is against this vulgar current dogmatism, which philosophy has so much trouble in getting rid of, that not only Kant, but every metaphysician, protests. Kant only expounded, under a rigorous and systematic form, all the critical portion of previous metaphysics. To us it seems impossible—with more or less reservation, and without insisting at present too rigidly on the share of the relative and subjective in human knowledge—impossible, we say, not to allow this share, and consequently, in a certain measure, not to give in our adherence to transcendental criticism and idealism. There is, however, as we have seen above, something which escapes from this relativity of all human knowledge: it is the very fact of knowing. This fact has in itself something absolute. I know not whence it comes, I cannot [Pg 230] explain it; I marvel that a being should be met with in whom at one time or other what we call knowledge has appeared; but this fact cannot exist without being known by the knower. All knowledge supposes, then, a subject that knows itself—that is to say, who is internally present to himself. Here knowledge comes from within, not from without. Whatever is objective can only appear to me, and is consequently a phenomenon. I only see its outside, and it is only in relation to myself that I can grasp even that outside. But the conscious ego sees itself from within. Shall we say that it appears to itself? I am willing to say so, but as it appears to itself that appearance is a reality, for the form that I give it is my own form. In order that it should become me, I must be me. Every other object has to be given in the first instance before it is perceived; in order that I should see a house, a house must be there. It is not so with the ego. For if at the moment it is given me it is not already me, how is it to become so? How shall I know it as such? And if it be already me, it is already perceived as such. Hence it follows that the external thing may be represented without being, as happens in sleep, while I cannot think without thinking myself, or think myself without existing. All subjectivism, all relativism, all criticism, therefore, are baffled in presence of the ego.

It is from this solid and immovable foundation laid by Descartes at the entrance of science that we may set out to extend the sphere of our knowledge. Everything, it is said, is relative. What matter if that relative be connected by precise and fixed relations with the unknown, if that which is given be a strictly faithful projection of that which is thought? For instance, we do not know the souls of other men in themselves, we have never seen a soul such as it is in itself; those even which are dearest to us are unknown like the rest. But if we suppose all the signs by which they manifest themselves to be sincere, is it not to know them truly and in the only way intelligible to us, to hear their voices, and understand their words, and interpret their actions? No doubt nothing external to ourselves can be known internally by us; but if the exterior be the expression of the interior, is not the one the equivalent of the other? And to ask more would amount to asking to be more than man. Science teaches us that all appearances have a fixed and precise relation to reality. The visible apparent sky is strictly what it ought to be to express the real sky. The deeper our knowledge of things goes, the more we see the perfect conformity of the apparent to the real, the more faithfully do phenomena translate noumena. Are we not, therefore, justified in supposing that these relative noumena, which are still no more than appearances, could be translated in their turn, if only we had the key to them, into other noumena of which they are the form and image? I may say the same about the anthropomorphic representations of Deity. I admit that the Absolute is in its essence above all human representations. But these representations, [Pg 231] when we disengage them as much as possible from all sensible elements, are none the less the true expression of that incomprehensible essence in so far as it appears to a human consciousness. If not God in Himself, it is God in relation to me; and it is with only this last that we have to do so long as we are but men.

We do not, therefore, consider it impossible to assign to the critical element its part in metaphysic without denying the objective reality of knowledge. We think that the famous old distinction between being and phenomena, the intelligible and the sensible, still endures, despite the “Kritik” of Kant; or rather, this very “Kritik” itself is, in our eyes, only a hyperbolical but striking manner of expressing this great truth.

Paul Janet.


[1] We already endeavoured to make this philosophy known at its earliest appearance, by an article that appeared in the Revue des Deux Mondes of the 19th October, 1873, under the title, “A New Phase of Spiritualism.” We are now dealing with the most recent form of this new school.

[2] Hamilton’s “Discussions: Cousin, Schelling.”

[3] Herbert Spencer’s “First Principles,” First Part p. 18.

[Pg 232]


When a Professor of Political Economy was first established in the University of Oxford, a controversy presently arose in the academical common rooms concerning the just meaning of the phrase. Among elder and conservative men, the most active-minded insisted that it ought to receive the full width of meaning attached to it by Aristotle in his Treatise on Economy, which, with him, was essentially the economy of the State—that is, in pure Greek, political economy, although this epithet is not annexed to his title. By this interpretation, the science naturally and necessarily became implicated with moral considerations, which never can be excluded from the statesman’s view. But the actual students and professors of the new science—eminently Mr. Nassau Senior and Dr. Whately, shortly afterwards Archbishop of Dublin—naturally feared that by such an interpretation political economy would become confounded with politics; would, indeed, cease to be a science; and by so great an enlargement of its area, would fail to receive that special and definite cultivation which Adam Smith had bestowed on it, as the theory of national wealth. Whately indeed, to avoid this inconvenient extension of the sense, proposed to call the topic, not political economy, but Catallactics—that is, the science of exchanges. Excellent in many respects as the last title was, it might have seemed to exclude the whole doctrine of taxation, and still more decisively all discussion of Malthus’s theory of population, which belongs to politics or to morals, not at all to the doctrine of exchange. In the end, the economists ruled that their science does not at all teach what ought to be, but simply what is, what goes on, and will go on, as an inevitable result of individuals holding exchangeable right in definite articles. Thus they seemed to have driven moral considerations out of their science, as much as out of gardening or medicine. To call their [Pg 233] political economy, on that account, heartless (as so many have done) may seem ridiculous; but this form of attack on it arose from a perception or belief that its professors were claiming for it an imperative force, while disclaiming morality, and were assuming that it was a sufficient and supreme rule for political action.

Of late it has been maintained on a special ground that moral considerations cannot wholly be excluded from political economy. Dr. W. B. Hodgson, first holder of a new chair in Edinburgh as Professor of Mercantile Economy, has urged that, in so far as morality or immorality in individuals affects wealth and the markets, we do not exhaust the discussion on exchanges while we neglect this consideration. Perhaps indeed no one, in discussing taxation, has omitted to consider what taxes lead to fraudulent evasion or to smuggling; but economists hitherto, with great unanimity, have resolved that, in their character of economists, they will not notice moral evils from an opium trade, or from sale of deadly weapons and ammunition, or from traffic in intoxicants; nor can one in general discover from their writings that they know vice to be wasteful, or national expenditure on needless and foolish objects undesirable. They have a right to select what topics they will treat, and what they will not treat. They have a right to say: “Such and such considerations belong to morals, not to our political economy.” But, on the one hand, if they are resolved that their science shall be as unmoral as engineering or navigation, they must not claim for it any decisive weight in State-politics; on the other hand, the topics which they neglect need, so much the more urgently, to be treated by others, especially since we have no professors of practical morals, and (for more reasons than one) questions of the market are not thought suitable to the pulpit.

That an exchange of one thing for another does, on the whole, please both parties to the exchange, is evidently testified by the fact that each acts voluntarily; hence, the inference is too lightly made that each is benefited by the transaction. Not only so, but from an increasing magnitude of exchanges increase of wealth is inferred, without any reference to the nature of the things exchanged. In a rough estimate, this reasoning has, no doubt, a primâ facie weight, for we may not dictate to the tastes of others, nor assume that tastes which are not ours are therefore silly. Yet, evidently things which perish in the using quickly cease to be wealth, and things which are not likely to be approved continuously cannot long command the same high price. No article could fetch a price at all if it were not intended to be enjoyed, used, or consumed; the final purchase is called expenditure, and all expenditure is liable to moral judgment, approving or censuring. When we censure expenditure, not merely because it is excessive, but because it is essentially foolish or evil, we necessarily deplore and deprecate the traffic which feeds it—the traffic which it encourages; hence, some vicious trades are even forbidden by law. Short of this, [Pg 234] there is necessarily a large margin of trades which law does not, and perhaps cannot successfully, forbid, which nevertheless may be justly regretted, censured, and, as far as may be, discountenanced. Economists are not here blamed if they (disowning moral considerations) do nothing of the kind; but they must not be allowed to blind us to the fact that some trades, not forbidden by law, are so far from promoting wealth and weal as to be gravely pernicious. To rejoice in their magnitude, to announce it triumphantly as a proof of national prosperity, is something worse than a mistake.

No reader, it is believed, will complain that the last sentence is mysterious or obscure. Our manufacturers of cotton and woollen have of late loudly deplored the falling off of their home trade, while the consumption of intoxicating drink continues to increase. They believe that if the labouring classes spent less on the brewer and distiller, they would spend more on the clothier. The most fanatical devotee of alcohol cannot deny that too much of it is drunk, in face of the long-continued avowal of the judges that drink is by far the greatest cause of crime—drink, short of evident and provable drunkenness. Indeed, it is not from those who are outright drunk, but from those who have been drinking, that the worst and most numerous outrages come, while the foot and the eye are steady, though the brain and the passions are perverted. To boast and rejoice in the magnitude of the drink traffic, legal as it undoubtedly is, has no moral defence. The topic is here adduced, not in order to push that argument further, but in order to insist that the mere increase of a trade does not in itself denote an increase of wealth; is not in itself necessarily a thing to be applauded either by the economist or by the moralist. In each case we must look into detail, and consider whether this or that prosperous trade, like a huge weed in a garden, dwarfs or kills other growths, which, but for it, might thrive.

An avowed ardent disciple of Mr. Cobden—a gentleman in some eminence of place and rank—has recently dissuaded taxes on wine and tobacco for the sake of revenue, not on the ground which one might expect—viz., that a Government ought not to base a revenue on what may chance to be public vice, but on the ground that “the grower of wine in France and of tobacco in America” can reasonably refuse to trade with us, if “we will not accept payment in the only coin which he has to offer—namely, in his wine or his tobacco.”[4] As if we were not competent to reply: “Of wine and tobacco we quickly get more than enough. Preserve your grapes in sawdust, or make them into raisins, and you will not find our people averse to enjoy them, nor will you encounter any unreasonable duty from our Custom-houses. As to tobacco, surely the rich land which alone can raise it, can raise no end of other products which we are certain to value.” This well-informed writer, in his whole argument, seems to account wine the only [Pg 235] food-product which we receive from France (to silks and elegant articles he once slightly alludes); but he cannot be ignorant that the solid food which France sends us in eggs, cheese, butter, vegetables, chickens, and dry fruit is enormous; she would in ordinary years send us wheat, did not America, Russia, and Australia make it needless. To speak of wine as the only coin of France is a wonderful straining of argument. But the reason for quoting it here is to illustrate how completely the School of Cobden wishes the State to ignore moral considerations in trade. Yet the State deserves no reverence, if it be not moral. Laws and enactments, framed by minds reckless of morality, are apt to be, on the one side unjust and oppressive, on the other eminently corrupting. A State which gains revenue from a vicious trade, such as gambling and debauchery, demoralizes its people so effectually as to deserve reprobation rather than reverence. According to the ancients, the lawgiver begins to civilize society and to earn veneration by establishing marriage and sanctifying the family. Are we to say, “We have changed all that now; let the Church care for morality: it is no concern of the State?” Who first taught such sentiment as wise policy, it is not easy to say; but it certainly has, in practice, if not in theory, attained a deadly currency. It never was the doctrine of Adam Smith. It is obviously a sure road to ruin, if its development be unopposed.

A legislator, of course, ought not to guide his enactments by the morality of any one school. If, in Greek fashion, we were to set up an Epimenides, a Solon, a Lycurgus, as plenipotentiary to start us in a new course, there might be some little danger of one-sided and conceited morals; yet not much, even so; for a very one-sided or very stupid man would hardly be elected: every lawgiver wishes his new institutions to be permanent, and is sure to have some regard to the friction which they would encounter in working. But where the legislation must have sanction, not from one man, but from a thousand men, of whom six hundred are elected from different circles of mixed ranks, from diverse localities, where forms and schools of religion, based on variety of thought, prevail, it is evidently impossible that in the laws collectively approved any moral ideas should dominate, except those which are common to all who are morally cultivated. To dread moral considerations in the debates of an English Parliament, lest the morality prevailing in its laws become one-sided and arbitrary, pedantic and ascetic, is so baseless, so wanting in good sense, as scarcely to seem sincere. When people tell us, “We shall be liable to have laws against dancing and cardplaying, or laws compelling us to go to church, if we insist that legislation ought to study for the public virtue,” they not only make themselves ridiculous, they even force us to suspect that they fear lest vice be repressed in ways inconvenient to the vicious. So much is premised, lest it be imagined or pretended that in pointing at moral limits to beneficial commerce any morality is desired less broad than [Pg 236] that which all noble and well-reputed schools accept—the morals of mankind. At the same time, what is here advanced is intended to bear less immediately on law than on the general tenor of public opinion and practical writing.

Many economists write, as assuming that it is a step forward in civilization when a barbarous people learns artificial wants. If a New Zealander, instead of being satisfied with a mat for his back, which, made by himself, will last him for years, betakes himself to an English coat, which he must buy with a price,—which indeed less effectually shields him from wet, and sooner wears out,—he does that which is convenient to the English trader, but to him is a very doubtful gain: perhaps rather he brings on himself colds, cough, and consumption. If a thousand Maoris did the same, the commerce might figure in a Maori budget, and a Maori economist might point to the new trade as a step forward in national prosperity. The Zulus, as described by Englishmen who have travelled in Zululand or lived in the midst of them in Natal, are an upright, generous, faithful, honest race; and strange to say, Englishmen, who have such experience of them, are found to corroborate the utterance of Cetewayo, “A Zulu trained by a missionary is a Zulu spoiled”—that is, when trained in our habits they lose their national virtues. How can this be? why should it be? Apparently, because from us they learn artificial wants. While an apron suffices a Zulu for clothing, and a very simple hut for shelter, he can in many ways afford to be hospitable and generous. A man with very few wants has all the feelings of superfluity and wealth while surrounded by possessions so slender that we count him very poor: and when with an amount of toil which to his hardihood is not at all severe, he can always calculate on providing for himself and family all that their simple habits need, he is not deterred from present generosity by studying for his own future. But if he learn to covet and count necessary a number of articles which require from him threefold labour, he feels himself no longer rich, but poor; then, instead of giving small favours gratuitously, he claims to be paid for everything; instead of being princely, he becomes mercenary and stingy. If he imitate the dress, he is liable to envy the wealth of the Englishman, and in schemes of laying up for the future he easily becomes avaricious, perhaps fraudulent. Such are the steps by which one may justly calculate that some or many barbarians degenerate from the normal goodness of their fellows. The artificial wants which they learn when housed with our missionaries, or imbibe from the crafty allurements of traders, are not (primâ facie) a benefit at all, do not conduce to independence, to the sense of wealth, nor to the practice of virtue. They are simply a convenience to the European trader. If a Maori or Zulu chief frown upon such trade, which judgment does he deserve—to be scolded as barbarous, or to be praised as sagacious? With them, perhaps also with us, to account but few things necessary is a foundation for many virtues. Our economists often reverse the picture. [Pg 237]

No stress is here laid on the fact that the historical saints of Christendom thought it an excellence to be satisfied with a minimum of external appliances for the comfort of the body. So much of arbitrary opinion may be imputed reasonably to them, and so much of fancy and credulity to their biographers, that it does not occur to the present writer to account their practices or principles any support to his argument. But the case of Socrates, and many other Greek philosophers, is different, and much to the point. With them, high thought, cheap feeding, and mean circumstantials frequently went together; and perhaps even those philosophers, who were somewhat mercenary and rich, would vehemently have renounced the idea that it is a good thing to acquire habits and tastes which make necessary to us things previously needless. But there is danger of drawing the reader’s thoughts into a new channel by this allusion to Greek philosophers when an argument of national economy is chiefly intended, not of personal virtues. As it is better for an individual to be satisfied with supplies that are sufficient, close at hand, and easy of attainment, than to have fastidious tastes which cannot be supplied without considerable effort and labour, so it is better for a nation to have a taste for its native products, so far as our lower wants are concerned. If we can get all that the health and strength of the body needs from our own soil, and with small expenditure, this is better for us than to be enslaved to artificial tastes, which multiply labours for mere bodily supply. To fix ideas, let me illustrate the principle here contained by discussing those popular beverages, tea and coffee.

Tea undoubtedly, as superseding beer, cider, and wine, has wrought much benefit to England, even if it have been (when heavily taxed) dearer than our native intoxicants. When taken with little food, in strong and frequent cups, it may often have weakened the nerves; but it does not, like alcohol, pervert the brain and inflame the mind, thus leading to folly, vice, and crime. The present writer is, and always has been, a tea drinker; nor have the many assaults on this beverage which have been sent to him shaken his belief that, taken in moderation, it has no evil comparable to its good. The present argument does not aim to prove that tea is in itself bad, only that the too-exclusive addiction to it has hurtfully excluded the trial of native beverages, which are perhaps better, certainly cheaper, and far more accessible.

Rigid enemies of alcoholic drink often assure us, in poetical and ecstatic language, that water is the only reasonable and right drink for man, as for other animals; but the water which they recommend and describe as gushing and sparkling in mountain rills does not come to the hearth and home of every mountain dweller, much less is it attainable by the inhabitants of cities or boggy plains. The hardy beasts of the field, if they can get the water pure, manage to endure its coldness in all seasons; so perhaps might we, if we could recover robustness of the stomach without losing any advantage of a developed [Pg 238] brain. That such recovery is impossible is not here asserted, but simply that, under the existing circumstances, the water (through its impurities or its coldness) often needs to be cooked, to be warmed, to have then some taste superadded which shall overcome mawkishness. When this is conceded, the question arises, will no native botany suffice? Are we of necessity driven to import tea from China or Assam? Such are the wonderful and deep harmonies of Nature that in each long-inhabited country the constitution of animals becomes adapted to its plants as well as to its climate, and finds among them not only its food, but its remedies for disease. Native herbs are often found more health-restoring than pretentious foreign drugs; nor is it extravagant to imagine that native leaves and berries might adapt themselves as well to the palate of Englishmen as tea and coffee, and better to their stomachs, if, instead of buying from the foreigner, we had duly studied our home resources. In the case of coffee, it curiously happens that there are persons among us who prefer what is called dandelion coffee to the coffee of Arabia; and that the preference is sincere seems proved by the accident that the dandelion thus prepared is dearer than the best Mocha. Nor does this dearness weigh against our argument. Twenty years ago brown bread was charged by bakers as fancy bread; ten years ago lentils were double their present price; in each case because the demand was so uncertain. The price of dandelion would quickly come down if it were in large and daily request. As substitutes for tea many leaves may be named which will not be called simply medicinal, prominently those of the sweet bay, the peach, and the black currant. If we were by any cause cut off from tropical markets, some combination would soon be discovered which carried off public preference; and when a national taste in it had once been established, every good purpose would have been attained without the foreign article. Should we not in that case moralize with wonder over the vast apparatus of great ships, which had been built, and manned, and stored, and sent to sea, with loss of sailors’ lives, entailing widowhood and orphanhood, for no better reason than to bring back leaves, for which adequate substitutes abound at home? This argument undertakes not to prove, but to illustrate. It is not specially confined to the case of tea or coffee. It does not make positive assertion that we can now change the English taste, nor does it urge a transition which would be violent, if at all sudden. It merely points to reasonable probabilities, as showing that a vast trade with a distant country to gratify an artificial want, if it prove how much we can afford to spend without being ruined, yet does not at all prove that we enrich ourselves by the exchange. At the same time, so great is the facility for making drinks, that we might assume higher ground and press our argument farther. The deliciousness of Oriental sherbet is no matter of doubt or controversy. Its basis is simply barley-water; to flavour it, the foreigner, of course, uses some of his own fruits, but we have plenty of substitutes at hand, at least while sugar abounds to us. It may be warmed, if necessary: so little [Pg 239] need we depend on the Chinese. Besides, some among us are satisfied with, and warmly applaud, the drink prepared from simple oatmeal. If we all had this taste, we should nationally be richer.

It may be retorted, “Did you not name Sugar? Do you advocate making sugar of beetroot?” But no general renunciation of foreign commerce is for a moment here suggested as expedient. While we can bring sugar made from cane, and save our lands for other uses than beetroot, we presume this commerce to conduce to wealth. Not but that we may suspect the cheapness of sugar to conspire with other causes in slackening our zeal for Honey. Bees do not occupy and use up arable land. An abundance of cottage gardens and little rockeries satisfy them. Their depredations do not lessen the sweetness of flowers, nor the savour of herbs. They add to our wealth, at very small expense. They greatly add to the fertilization of plants. By all means let us get from the foreigner what we need; only let us not therefore neglect and forget our native resources.

In other and greater matters a like topic recurs. When the controversy against the Corn Laws was at its height, the advocates of repeal were taunted with wishing to explode native wheat. They replied, “Wheat is now largely sown in England where the climate or soil is unfavourable; in such fields only, the culture will be discouraged; where it can be produced and ripened with greater certainty it will still be grown, and the price will no longer be forced up; the lands less suited to wheat may well yield, either some other grain in rotation, or other needful crop.” Valid as this reply seemed, grand and glorious as are the results of opening our ports to foreign corn, the retrospect of thirty years nevertheless suggests new lines of thought. Want of food in Ireland when the potato crop failed was the argument which converted Sir Robert Peel; but the desire of selling cotton and woollen fabrics, or hardware, to those whose “chief coin” was wheat, gave an earlier impetus to the Anti-Corn Law League. Cobden and his associates were in the right, and performed well the task of the day; but the existing state of our agriculture is now discerned to be highly unsatisfactory. Every year widens and deepens the conviction that our laws of Land Tenure are fundamentally wrong; indeed, they are diverse from those of all the world; if they are not signally better than those of all other nations, they are gravely and lamentably worse; and the idea now presents itself, that the temporary relief given to us by the free importation of wheat has proved a buttress to an evil system of land laws, and has blinded us to the essential evils contingent on a perpetual increasing ratio of the population in great towns to that of the rustic districts. Much wealthier, no doubt, we are, and our poorer classes are less hard-worked. To dwell on the drawbacks through higher expectations, artificial wants, higher prices of coal, bricks, and houses—not to mention worse matters—might lead into too long digression. But, to bring out the idea here pointed at, we may speculate as to the results which must have followed, if no foreign markets had been [Pg 240] able to give us permanent supplies of necessary food. Suppose that barely we had been able in 1847 to save from starvation as many poor Irishmen as we did save, but that in succeeding years the United Kingdom had been cast on its own resources for grain and cattle; will any one maintain that by a proper use of the land we could not have fed our own population?

If any one is of that opinion, let him consider the phenomena of French agriculture. A century ago France seemed unable to feed her inhabitants. Thousands of the population died of starvation, even the king’s own servants. Misery among the peasants and the poorer classes in towns was universal. No one imagined that the country could afford to export food, or had any idea of its vast capacity of production. Her climate is not now superior to what it was; her area is somewhat enlarged by the sagacious plantings on dunes of sand; the soil is improved by a century’s tillage; the produce is more valuable, because the peasants have been taught many secrets of fruit culture. Most important of all, millions of peasants are owners of small freeholds. The “magic of property” has made them industrious, saving and ever vigilant to increase and improve the crops. We in England censure and deplore the compulsion on a French parent to divide his petty freehold and his gains equally among his children. If this be a grave evil, yet so much the more remarkable are the marvellous results of the union in one man of landlord, farmer, and labourer: for we see that by the universal and untiring industry which this fact elicits, not only were the great extravagances of the Second Empire and its wars sustained, but, in spite of the scarcely calculable losses of the Franco-German war, the fine of two hundred and fifty millions sterling, which France had to pay, was paid within four or five years, while a larger army than ever was raised and maintained. No one can dispute that the unexampled buoyancy of French finance is due mainly to the sound conditions of French landed tenure. Ireland, Scotland, and England all await a similar development, and never can be satisfied without it: but we have postponed the day of necessary reform by buying our food of almost every kind, in dangerous amount, from foreign countries, while our own arable land goes back into grass and pasture.

And what reply does the Right Hon. John Bright make, when addressed with a claim of reformed landed tenure? His name is here adduced for honour, as an eminent type of the Cobden School; but the habitual reply is, “Good! we are in favour of Free Trade in land:” as though Free Trade were in itself a charm which can scare away all evils; as though the existing freedom to accumulate land to any extent by purchase were not one of our greatest mischiefs. Men cannot live in the air. Land for a dwelling is as essential as air and water. Land is very limited in quantity, especially land conveniently situated, with favourable conditions. Land primitively belongs to a nation, and no man naturally has any right to more of it than he can himself cultivate and use. Large landed estates are a vast power, social and political. [Pg 241] Their possession was originally in England an official trust, coupled with political duties and customary dues in payment: but without right of ejectment while those dues were paid. The commercial idea of land is a perversion and abuse. Those who fancy that the abolition of entails and primogeniture and whatever makes conveyances expensive, will bring about the desirable reform, boast that their remedy will hoist up the market price of land; in other words, it would make an effective purchase by the State more and more difficult, more and more burdensome to the community. Nay, it might even delay the necessary reform, until the patience of a nation under a landlord Parliament broke down, and such a revolution followed as that of France under Louis XVI. As there is a moral limit to the magnitude of beneficial commerce with the foreigner, much more is there a moral limit to the beneficial magnitude of landed estates. Happily some despots are philanthropic; yet we are not in love with despotism. Some great landowners are philanthropic: higher honour be to them! but we must calculate that very many will covet power over all who reside on the estate, and will use the power not always kindly; or will employ it as a political engine to win state-offices and salaries for their families; others, more directly and unblushingly mercenary, will think chiefly how to raise rent, and will forbid both crops and inhabitants, if wealthy lovers of occasional sport outbid ordinary farmers. If from mere pride and love of the romantic a landlord make his estate a wilderness, the nation still suffers the damage. Its population is cooped into towns or driven into exile, its markets are starved, its military force is lowered. While the Cobden School pertinaciously connives at these great evils, and juggles with the phrase “Free Trade” as if land were an article which ought to be on the same footing as moveables, they are playing into the hands of their nominal adversaries.

The first measure which we need is not one which shall facilitate the purchase of new and new estates by the over-wealthy, who, if they are not gamblers or otherwise vicious, often know not what to do with their vast incomes; but much rather a measure which shall set a maximum area for estates. The mildest thing to do is, not in the first instance to pass any new Act, but only a resolution or Vote of the Commons, declaring that it is against the public interest for any individual to possess more than a thousand acres of rustic land, or more than five acres of town land; and that whoever bequeaths to one person more than the above-named, ought to be subjected to a heavy and special land tax. In the same direction we need other special votes of the House, to the effect—that by legislation, by purchase, and by taxation the recovery of the national soil for the nation from year to year ought to be systematically pursued, wherever now held in large masses by bodies of men or by individuals; and that in order to give to cultivators the full results of their own industry, it is expedient that the State, out of its own present or future domains, carve out numerous small farms to be held under it as by copyright tenure, not subject to rise of rent. [Pg 242] Space does not permit further detail, or reply to objections; but the idea intended is to work in the direction of virtual freeholds, ever increasing in number, which cannot be bought out of the hands of the cultivators by tempting prices from the rich, because they are legally State property, and destined to remain as areas of small culture. By buying up from time to time the lands possessed by large charities, by legacy taxes directed to discourage bequests of land in great mass, and by direct purchases of land or rather by taking the legacy tax in land itself, the State would beneficently in the course of many generations undo the injustices and frauds of the past.

Land is so far from being a desirable object of unlimited commerce (called by the Cobden School Free Trade), that, especially under the modern interpretation which makes the lord (or chief man) owner of the land, the most jealous limitations ought to be imposed on it by the State. So long, indeed, as a man holds no more of it than one family can cultivate, jealousy is needless; for the holder (especially if he pay a quit-rent for it) is sure to cultivate it, and cannot offend by excluding population. Town land ought, as soon as possible, to become town property; and, meanwhile, as early as possible, all town building to be subjected to a public veto for sanitary reasons. To make away into mercenary hands, as an article of trade, the whole solid area on which a nation lives, is astonishing as an idea of statesmanship. There is another matter connected with land as to which the State may justly feel great jealousy—namely, as to the consumption and exportation of material which cannot be reproduced. It is said that Sicily, under the Romans first, was largely deteriorated by the perpetual exportation of corn, exhausting even very fertile soil. Ireland in the past may have suffered by the constant sending out of cattle and pigs, with no back-current of commerce to restore all that their bones and flesh took out of the earth. Virginia and other States of the American Union largely ruined their soil by unceasing exportation of tobacco and other products. But to come closer home, no crops of coal can be grown in England and Wales. We reap where we have not sown, where we cannot sow. We export in enormous mass what we cannot reproduce. We allow individuals to become, out and out, proprietors of the national coal, and then sanction their unlimited exportation of it, with the high probability that this may cripple industry in the near future of England. This surely is a commerce, the benefit of which is very doubtful even in a cosmopolitan view. It may seem better to stimulate other nations to search for coal on their own soil than to use up what we cannot replace. And as for some other articles of immense commerce, as tobacco, it may seem doubtful which nation loses more by it—the importers or the exporters. Surely in all these cases the quality of the things bought and sold must be considered carefully, before we regard the magnitude of any trade a national benefit or a source of national wealth.

F. W. Newman.


[4] “Reciprocity,” by Sir Louis Mallet, C.B., 1879: Printed for the Cobden Club.

[Pg 243]


At the present time, when theologians and those who have most aptitude for such discussions are arguing “in thoughts more elevate” of the soul’s future life, and its rewards and punishments therein, the pre-historic student is tempted to let his thoughts wander backwards over a different aspect of the same subject, in an effort to link again the chain of belief concerning heaven and hell, which joins this present with a long-forgotten past. The difficulty which we feel in uniting ourselves in thought with past ages, arises surely more often from the imperfection of our sympathies than from the deficiency of our positive knowledge. So many questions which were once new have long been settled, so many experiments have been tried, such experiences have been lived through since then; it is so impossible that the earlier conditions of life and society should return; and we cannot bring ourselves to make the effort of imagination necessary to place us in harmony with bygone times. But there are some few questions which seem as far from settlement now as they ever were; one of these is the question concerning the destiny of man after death, the character of his journey into that undiscovered country, and the sort of life he will lead when there.

“A riddle which one shrinks
To challenge from the scornful sphinx.”

Some would dissuade us from the continuance of these (so they say) unfruitful speculations; but it is very certain that man must change his nature before they will lose their fascination for him; and until he does so, he cannot read without sympathy the guesses which past generations of men have made towards the solution of the same problems. For them, indeed, these solutions have lost their interest, as ours will soon do for us. Whatever lot that new condition may hold in store, eternal [Pg 244] pleasure or eternal pain, they have tried it now; whatever scene the dark curtain hides, they have passed behind it. This is very certain: as that we soon must. But so long as we remain here upon this upper earth, we must be something above or below humanity if we refuse ever to let our thoughts wander toward the changes and chances of another life.

Not, indeed, that questions of this sort have ever had for the majority of men in one age, or for the collective mass of human kind, an all-absorbing interest. If we choose to look closely into the matter, and to test men’s opinion as it is displayed in their actions (the only real opinion), we shall at first perhaps be struck by the slight belief which they possess in a future state. For it is slight compared to their “notional assent,” that which they think they believe concerning it. With the majority, faith upon this point is at best but shadowy, of an otiose character suitable for soothing the lots of others, and sometimes, alas! called into requisition to relieve us from the stings of conscience on account of the pain which our own misconduct or neglect has introduced therein. And as it is with us, so, save under exceptional conditions, it has always been with men in the full vigour and enjoyment of life. There have been times when one aspect of the future—its terror—has been realized with an intensity, and has exercised an influence upon life and conduct, such as is unknown in our days. But these times have not been ordinary ones, and we are apt, I think, even to over-estimate the force of faith during the Middle Ages. That term, “dark ages,” overrides our fancy; “we can never hear mention of them without an accompanying feeling as though a palpable obscure had dimmed the face of things, and that our ancestors wandered to and fro groping.”[5] But, then, neither have the most light-hearted and sceptical of people been able to shut their eyes utterly to the warnings of death. We are wont to think of the Greeks as of just such a light-hearted, and in a fashion sceptical, temperament, and to contrast the spirit of Hellas with the spirit of mediæval Europe. Scarcely any thought of death, or of judgment after death, disturbs the serenity of Greek art, such as it has come down to us. Thanatos is not to be found;[6] even the tombs are adorned with representations of war and of the chase, or with figures of the dancing Hours. And yet Greek art was not without its darker side. It had, like mediæval poetry, its Dante—Polygnotus, namely—who adorned the pilgrims’ house at Delphi with frescoes representing the judgment and the tortures of the damned,—a Greek Campo Santo. He would have given us a different impression of the Greek mind in presence of the fact of mortality, and shown us how easily we are led to exaggerate the divergence in thought between different nations and different times.

So we find as far back as we can test the belief of men, certain theories touching the fate of the soul after death, which represent, in [Pg 245] the germ at least, the prevalent opinions of our own day; and out of some of which these opinions have sprung. First among these, probably in point of time, stands the purely sceptical theory which takes its rise from the earliest efforts of language to give expression to the unseen. Casting about for a name for the essential part of man, the life or soul of him, language finds at first that it has no suitable word, and then supplies its want by using the breath—the ψυχη, spiritus—in this sense. Like the vital spark itself, the breath is seen to depart when the man dies. Whither has it gone? The purely negative, the purely sceptical answer would be, “It has disappeared.” The answer actually given in most religious creeds is, “It has gone to the unseen place,” or the concealed place; as the Greeks said, to Hades (Ἀ-ίδης); or, as our Northern ancestors said, to Hel.[7] Thus, out of pure negation we have the beginning of a myth: the spirit becomes something definite, and the place it has gone to is partly realized. The unseen place is underground, gained by a dark valley which stretches there from the upper earth. Enough of the old belief remains to keep this home of the dead itself dark and shadowy and lifeless. “The senseless dead, the simulacra of mortals,” as Homer says. And we remember how even a hero like Achilles “would rather be on earth and serve for hire to a man of mean estate, than rule a king among the dead.”

The same thought is expressed by the Hebrew poet,[8]

“Sheol shall not praise thee, Jehovah,
The dead shall not celebrate thee;
They that go down unto the pit shall not hope for thy truth;
The living, the living, shall praise thee, as I do this day.”

No people have held up this destructive side of death, this negative theory of a future, with sharper outline than the Greeks and Hebrews. What a contrast to the teaching of modern religions is that line, “They that go down unto the pit shall not hope for thy truth!” Other people have found themselves unable to rest at this point; they have endowed their place with a personality, but, still strongly impressed with its horrors, this personality is grim and fearful. Even with the Greeks, Hades is a person, not a place; with the Teutons, Hel has gone through the same transformation: and a thousand other images of horror to be met with in different creeds, devouring dragons, dogs who, like Cerberus, threaten those who are journeying to the underground kingdom, can be shown by their names to have sprung from merely negative images of death, the unseen, the coverer, the concealer, the cave of night.

In contrast therefore with all these myths stand those which, after death, send the soul upon a journey to some paradise, believed generally to lie in the west. If these first are myths of hell, the second series may be fairly described as myths of heaven. Nor can it be certainly proved that the more cheerful view of the other world is of a later [Pg 246] growth in time than the first which seems so primitive. We see indications of it in the interments of old stone-age grave mounds. While among historical people the older Hebrews are the exponents of the gloomier Sheol, the most hopeful picture of the soul’s future finds expression in the ritual service of the Egyptians. There we have a complete history of the dead man’s journey across the Nile and through the twilight region of Apap, king of the desert, until at last it reaches the home of the sun. And, to come nearer home, among all those peoples with whom we are allied in blood, the Indo-European family of nations, we shall find the evidences of a double belief, the belief in death as of a dim underground place or as a devouring monster, and the contrasting faith in death as a journey undertaken to reach a new country where everything is better and happier than upon earth.

This is the myth of an earthly paradise, not, like our heaven, disconnected altogether from the world, but a distant land lying somewhere in the west, and forming part of the imaginary geography of those times: so the belief is, more than others, a realistic one, mingling with the daily experience of men and influencing deeply their daily life. The necessary portal of death is even sometimes lost sight of altogether, as when in the Middle Ages we find men undertaking more than one expedition in search of the earthly paradise, and when we find the current belief that in certain weathers was visible from the west coast of Ireland that happy island to which St. Brandon and his disciples had been carried when they left this world. For this reason, though the notion of the western paradise is essentially the same for all the human race, its local colouring constantly varies, changing with the geographical position of each people: if they change their homes and advance, as they will probably do, towards the land of promise, it moves away before them, as the rainbow moves from us. The Egyptians had their myth of the soul’s journey, drawing all its distinctive features from the special character of their land, chiefly from the commanding influence which a great neighbouring desert exercised upon their imagination. But for our ancestors, the parents of the Indo-European races, the place of the desert was supplied by the sea.

The most probable conjecture has fixed the cradle of our race in that corner of land which lies westward the steep range of the Beloot Tagh mountains, an off-shoot of the Himalayas, and northward from the high barren land of Cabul. This country, the ancient Bactriana, is the most habitable district to be found anywhere in Central Asia. There the hills stretch out in gentle slopes towards the west, and enclose fertile valleys, whose innumerable streams, fed by the mountains east and south, all go to swell the waters of the Oxus, now called the Jihon. Farther north lies another fruitful country, watered by the Jaxartes, separated from the first by a range of hills much inferior to those which divide both lands from Yarkand and Cashgar on the east, and from Cabul on the south. Both the great rivers empty themselves [Pg 247] into the Sea of Aral, between which and the Caspian, sharply cutting off the fertile country from that sea, stretches the Khiva desert, a barren land affording a scanty nourishment to the herds of wandering Turkic tribes. There is good reason to believe, however, that this desert did not always exist, but that in times not extraordinarily remote the Caspian Sea, joined to the Sea of Aral, extended over a much larger area than it at present covers: it is known even now to be sinking steadily within its banks. With such a contraction of the great sea the desert would grow by a double process, by the laying bare its sandy bed and by the withdrawal of a neighbouring supply of moisture from the dry land. So it may well have been that the fruitful territory wherein in remotest ages were settled our Aryan ancestors, stretched so far west as to border upon a large inland Asiatic sea. It has even been conjectured that the turning of so much fertile land into desert was the proximate cause of those migrations which sent the greater part of the Aryan races westward—to people, at last, all the countries of Europe. The root which is common to the European languages for the names of the sea, means, in the Indian and Iranian languages, a desert: how can we account for this fact better than by supposing that after the European nations had left their early home, their brethren, who remained behind and who long afterwards separated into the people of India and Persia, came to know as a desert the district which their fathers had once known as the sea?

Thus, these ancient Aryans stood with their backs toward the mountains and their faces toward the sea. All their prospect, all their future, seemed to be that way; when their migrations began they were undertaken in that direction—towards the west. Most important of all in the formation of a creed, their sun-god, or sun-hero,[9] was seen by many of them quenching his beams in the waters; the home of the sun is always likewise the home of souls. What more natural, nay, what so necessary, as that the Aryan paradise should lie westward beyond the sea? It has been said just now that the Indian word for desert corresponds etymologically with the European word for sea: that word must have been, in the old Aryan, something like mara, from which we get the Persian mĕru, desert, the Latin mare, the Teutonic (German and English) meer. But from identically the same root we likewise get the Sanksrit and the Zend (old Persian) mara, death, the Latin mors, the old Norse mordh, the German mord, our murder, all signifying originally the same thing.[10] What, then, does this imply? The word which the old Aryans used for sea they used likewise for death. How would this be possible, unless this, their first sea, were likewise the sea of death, the necessary stage upon the road to paradise?

It might have been expected that such a connection of ideas would have endowed the sea with an entirely terrible character, precluding any [Pg 248] attempt to explore its solitudes, or the lands which lay beyond. It has been already said that as a matter of experience we find that the earthly paradise often comes to be realized so vividly that men lose the fear which should attach to any attempt at finding it. They were not religious, heavenward-looking men who, in Mr. Morris’s poem, set out in quest of the happy land; and no doubt the bard has been guided by a true instinct, and that of all those mediæval mariners who were lost in their search after St. Brandon’s isle, none knew that they had found what they were seeking—Death. The Greeks eagerly cherished delusions of the same kind; and long before they had summoned up courage sufficient to navigate the Mediterranean they had invented the myths of their western islands of the blest, to which yellow-haired Rhadamanthus was taken when expelled from Crete by his brother Minos, or of those gardens kept by the daughters of the west,[11] where decay and death could not enter. It is likely enough that for the Aryans their western sea did long retain its more fearful meaning, a death; but that they at last gained courage to look upon it only as the road[12] to the land of which they had long been dreaming.

How much more weighty a position the sea takes in men’s thoughts than is warranted by their real familiarity with it! Into the mass of sedentary lives—the vast majority—it enters but seldom as an experience, provided a man live only a few miles inland. And yet of all countries which possess a sea-board, how full is the literature of reference to this one phenomenon of physical nature! The sun and the moon, and all the heavenly bodies, the familiar sights and sounds of land, are the property of all; and yet allusions to these are not more common in literature than allusions to the sea: one might fancy that man was amphibious, with a power of actually living upon, and not only by, the water. Charles Lamb acutely penetrates the cause of a certain disappointment we all feel at the sight of the sea for the first time. We go with the expectation of seeing all the sea at once, the commensurate antagonist of the earth. All that we have gathered from narratives of wandering seamen, what we have gained from true voyages, and what we cherish as credulously from romances and poetry, come crowding their images, and exacting strange tributes from expectation. Thus we are imbued with thoughts of the sea before we have had any sight of it ourselves, merely by the sea’s great influence acting through the total experience of humanity. “We think of the great deep and of those who go down unto it: of its thousand isles, and of the vast continents it washes; of its receiving the mighty Plata, or Orellana, into its bosom, without disturbance or sense of augmentation; of Biscay swells and the mariner—

“For many a day and many a dreadful night,
Incessant labouring round the stormy cape;

[Pg 249] of fatal rocks and the ‘still-vexed Bermoothes;’ of great whirlpools and the water-spout; of sunken ships and sumless treasures swallowed up in the unrestoring depths.” We must not narrow the influence of the sea in mythology within the compass of man’s mere experience of it. Few among the Aryans lived by the Caspian shore; but the Sea of Death appears in one form or another in the religious belief of all the Aryan people. The tradition of the sea, its real wonders, and greater fancied terrors, must have passed from one to another, from the few who lived within sight and sound of the waters to others quite beyond its horizon, to whom it was not visible even as a faint silvery line.

It is natural that, in early myths, no accurate distinction should have been drawn between the sea and rivers with which the Aryans were familiar. The Caspian was imagined a broad river bounding the habitable earth, the origin of the Oceanus of the Greeks; and the sea of death is, in its earliest form, a river of death. All after-forms of mythical geography, moreover, such as we find among Indians, Greeks, or Norsemen, are but graftings upon this central idea. As the Aryans changed their homes, the new experiences gradually blotted out the old. The Greek transferred his thoughts about the Caspian to the Mediterranean, and when his geography extended, the Oceanus was pushed farther and farther away, until the later Euhemerist geographers came to confound it with the Atlantic. Thus it is but by accident that we give to ocean the meaning which it now bears. The first ocean was the mythical river which flowed round the earth, and the real physical forerunner of the myth was not the Atlantic or any of our oceans, but the Caspian Sea as it stretched before the eyes of the ancient Aryan folk.

The Norseman, especially the Icelander,[13] lived so close to the ocean, that the older myth was forgotten beside the aspect of nature so familiar to him. In the middle of his earth stood a high mountain, on which was a strong city, Asgaard, the house of the Æsir or gods. Below Asgaard lay the green and fruitful earth, man’s home. Then outside flowed or lay the great mid-earth ocean, just like the Greek ocean in character, despite all differences of climate and country. At other times the mid-earth sea is personified as a devouring monster, Jörmungandr (“great monster”), the name of the mid-gaard serpent who lies at the bottom of the encircling sea, shaking the earth when he moves.[14] Beyond, lies the ice-bound land of giants—Jötunheim, giant’s home—dark like the Cimmerian land, and peopled with beings as weird and terrible as the Cyclops or the Gorgons.

Gradually the myths of the river of death and the sea of death from being one became two. The second was confined to those nations who lived upon the sea-shore, and lost in great part its early shape; but neither Indians, Greeks, nor Norsemen forgot the myth of the mortal [Pg 250] river. The Indian retained it singly; for when his turn for wandering came, he passed over the eastern mountains and reached a land where no sea was any longer to be seen or heard of. In the mythical language of the Vedas, the mortal river is called Vaiterani; it lies “across the dreadful path to the house of Yama,”[15] the god of Hell.

From the belief in the river of death no doubt arose also the practice of committing the dead to the care of the sacred Ganges; for just as the Hindus kindle a funeral fire in the boat which bears the dead down this visible stream of death, so used the Norsemen to place their hero’s body in his ship, and then having lighted it send it drifting out seawards with the tide. In conjunction with that thought of the other world which placed the final resting-place in a dark kingdom underground, the river is seen in Greek mythology transferred to Hades; but it is multiplied into four, which have all grown out of one, inasmuch as they were feigned to flow out of the upper-earth river Oceanus:—

“Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
Sad Acheron, of sorrow, black and deep;
Cocytus named of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.”

These pictures are not quite in character with the Hellenic thought about the future state. But it is certain that the more gloomy images of death are preserved in connection with the rivers of Hades, with Hades itself, and all that it contains. So it is with the northern Styx, Gjöll,[16] as it is called in the Eddas. This, too, is an underground stream lying, like the Indian, on the road to the gates of death.

Thus a separation arises between the sea and the river myths. If we wish for something more cheerful than the pictures of Styx and Gjöll and Vaiterani, we must look, for the tales of an earthly paradise which sprang up when men had lost their first terror of the sea, but had not lost the beliefs to which their earliest thoughts about that sea gave birth.

Such beliefs are those which lie enshrined in the Odyssey. This poem is full of images of death, but they are not self-conscious ones, only mythical expressions first applied to the passage of the soul from life, and then made literal and physical by their transference to the unexplored western sea. What the Caspian may have been to the ancient Aryan, such was the Mediterranean to the Greek. The Ægean was his home-like water; there he might pass from island to island without losing sight of land; and he soon learnt to trust himself to its care, and to know its currents and its winds. Long before he had navigated beyond Cape Malea, all the coasts of the Ægean had become parts of his familiar world: outside this was the region of the unknown. The Iliad tells us what the early Greeks thought about the first. Myths may have mingled with the legend of the fall of Troy, but the story in Homer is essentially [Pg 251] realistic, rationalistic even. The very powers of the immortals and their doings seem petty and limited. The Odyssey, on the other hand, is the product of the Greek imagination working in fields unturned by experience, free from any guiding impulse of knowledge; and here step in those monstrous shapes and strange adventures which differ altogether from the probable events of the Iliad. We feel at once that we are in a new world, a world not so much of supernatural beings as of magic; lands of glamour and illusion, most like the giant-land of the Norsemen; for we are getting towards the twilight regions of the earth and the borders of Hades.

Some writers have attempted to explain the Odyssey as nothing more than a myth of the sun’s course through heaven. But surely there is too much solidity about the story, too thorough an atmosphere of belief around it, to suit a tale relating such airy unrealities as those. The Greeks who first sung the ballads must have been thinking of a real journey upon this solid earth. But it is easy to see how many images and notions which had first been applied only to the sun-god would creep into such a history as that of Odysseus. Undoubtedly the sun-myth had first pointed out the home of the dead as lying in the west; and nothing is more natural than that a people whose thoughts and hopes carried them in the track of the wandering sun should, when they came to construct an epos of travel, make the imaginary journey lie the same way. They would interweave in the story such truths—or such sailors’ yarns—as Phœnician mariners or adventurous Greeks brought home from the distant waters, with many images which had been first made of the sun’s heavenly voyage, and others which had been first applied to death. Their geography would, indeed, be mythical; for they could have no accurate notions of the lands which they spoke of; but it would not be without a kernel of reality. Justin and Augustine may look upon the garden of the Hesperides or the garden of Alcinoüs as a reminiscence of Paradise; Strabo may assign them an exact position on the coast of Libya; and both may be right. The myth of the two gardens—the Hebrew and the Greek paradises—sprang up in obedience to an identical faculty of belief, and therefore the two stories are in origin the same. But each myth supported itself upon so much of reality as it could lay hold of: and it is likely enough that the famous golden apples which Hercules was sent to fetch owed their origin to the first oranges brought by Phœnician merchantmen to Greece.

Besides some such slender thread of reality, the adventures of Odysseus are built upon what men’s imagination told them might lie in the western seas. Now in reality there was only one thing which at the bottom of their hearts they believed actually did lie there—namely, death; and beyond that, the home of the departed. Therefore their stories of adventure in the Mediterranean do all, upon a minute inspection, resolve themselves into a variety of mythical ways of describing death; and upon this as a dark background the varied colours of the tale are painted. It [Pg 252] need take away no jot of our pleasure in the brilliant picture to acknowledge this. Nay, it gather adds to it, for behind the graceful air of the poem, sung as a poem only, we hear a deeper note telling of the passionate, obstinate questionings of futurity which belonged not more to Greece three thousand years ago than they now belong to us.

Any one acquainted with the genesis of myth would at once be disposed to see in the Odyssey the combination of two different legends; for one series of adventures comes as a tale told during the course of the second. We first see our hero on the island of Calypso, the sea-nymph; and when Hermes has brought from the gods the command for his release, he is carried thence by storms to the land of the Phæaceans. There Nausicaa finds him and brings him to her father Alcinoüs, by whom he is hospitably entertained, and at last sent back to Ithaca, his home. This forms one complete legend, the simplest and probably the first, because into it is woven the account of Odysseus’ earlier adventures. In the halls of Alcinoüs the wanderer tells what happened to him before he reached the cave of Calypso, and in this narrative we follow him to the island of the Lotus-eaters, to the island of the Cyclops, thence to the house of Circe, and from there to the very borders of hell itself. And we guess that we have here got hold of a later amplified legend built up out of the earlier myth. We find just such changes as this in Norse mythology; a story told in a few lines by the elder Edda, is expanded into an elaborate history in the younger. Looking again more closely at the Odyssey, we discover that many circumstances in the expanded tale bear close resemblance to one or other of the adventures in the shorter category. Take, for instance, the life with Calypso and with Circe. Both Calypso and Circe are nymphs, enchantresses; each lives alone upon her island: with each Odysseus passes a term of years, living with her as her husband, longing all the while to return to his own wife and his own home, and yet unable to do so: from each Hermes is the deliverer. What if Calypso and Circe both repeat in reality the same myth; and what if Odysseus’ other great adventure, the voyage to the Phæaceans, have likewise its counterpart in the expanded story? The question of the real identity or difference of the two stories can only be decided when we have seen how much significance there is in the points of their apparent likeness.

Who is Calypso? Her name bespeaks her nature not ambiguously. It is from καλύπτειν, to cover or conceal. She is the shrouder, or the shrouded place, answering exactly therefore to Hel, which, as has before been said, comes from the verb helja, “to hide.” How, then, can Calypso be anything else than death, as she dwells there in her cave, by the shores of the sea? How can Odysseus’ life with her, his sleep in her cave, be anything else than an image of dying? The gods have determined that the hero shall not remain in this mortal sleep for ever; so Hermes is sent to command Calypso to let Odysseus go. Hermes is the god whose mission it is to lead souls down to the realm [Pg 253] of Hades—the psychopomp, as in this office he is called. But sometimes he may come upon an opposite message, to restore men to life; the staff which closes the eyes of men may likewise open them when asleep. On such a task he comes—

“Wind-like beneath, the immortal golden sandals
Bare up his flight o’er the limitless earth and the sea;
And in his hand that magic wand he carried,
Wherewith the eyes of men he closes in slumber,
Or wakens from sleeping.”

He comes like the breath of morning awakening the world, to rouse our hero from the embrace of death; and the whole scene is beautifully attuned to an image of returning life. Therefore the interference of Hermes between Odysseus and Calypso is full of significance. We accordingly meet the same episode in the Circe tale. That this last is a later widening of the first story appears from many things; chiefly in this, that there is more moral in the history; for the truest myth is content to follow the actual workings of nature, without attempting to adorn a story with extraneous incident, or to convert its simplicity into the complexities of allegory. That turning the companions into swine was a punishment for luxury—that points the moral; the original Circe, we may be sure, only touched her lovers with her sleepy magic rod. It was the same wand with the “slepy yerde”[17] of Hermes, and she used it not wantonly but only because all whom she embraces must fall into the unwakeful slumber. If Circe’s name does not reveal her nature so nakedly as Calypso’s does, this is but consistent with the fact of her later creation. Nevertheless, we easily recognise by it death in one of its many types—a ravenous animal or bird, a hawk or wolf.[18]

When Odysseus is freed from the fatal embrace of Calypso, he is not at once restored to the common earth, but from his descent into hell goes heavenwards, or at least to the happy islands of the blessed. The land of the Phæaceans, Scheria, can scarcely be anything else than this Paradise, to which, according to one myth, Rhadamanthus fled from his brother Minos when he reigned in Crete. The Phæaceans, too, have had dealings with “yellow-haired Rhadamanthus,” whom they carried back in their swift barques to Eubœa. The name of their island is merely land, shore;[19] perhaps at first only the farther coast of the sea of death.

“Far away do we live at the end of the watery plain,
Nor before now have we ever had dealings with other mortals;
But now there comes some luckless wanderer hither.
Him it is right that we help; for all men, fellows and strangers,
Come from Zeus; in his sight the smallest gift is pleasing.”[20]

They live close to the gods, and in familiar converse with them. It is a place where decay and death cannot enter. In the [Pg 254] gardens of Alcinoüs flowers and fruit do not grow old and disappear; winter does not succeed to summer; all is one continuous round of blossoming and bearing fruit; in one part of the garden the trees are all abloom; in another they are heavy with clusters. There it is, as in that wizard’s tower of Middle-Age legend it only seemed to be—

“That from one window men beheld the spring,
And from another saw the summer glow,
And from a third the fruited vines arow.”[21]

In name the Phæaceans appear as beings of the twilight—φαίαξ, strengthened from φαιός, dusky, dim. Their most wondrous possessions are their ships, which know the thoughts of men, and sail swifter than a bird or than thought. “No pilots have they, no rudders, no oarsmen, which other ships have, for they themselves know the thoughts and minds of men. The rich fields they know, and the cities among all men, and swiftly pass over the crests of the sea, shrouded in mist and gloom.”[22] Yet the Phæaceans themselves live remote from human habitation, unused to strangers. It would seem, therefore, that the ships travel alone on their dark voyages. For what purpose? It is not difficult to guess. Their part is to carry the souls of dead men over to the land of Paradise.[23] We can imagine them sailing in every human sea; calling at every port, familiar with every city, though in their shroud of darkness they are unseen by men. They know all the rich lands, for every land has its tribute to pay to the ships of death. They are the exact counterparts of the “grim ferryman which poets write of;” only that the last plies his business in the ancient underground Hades, while the Phæacean mariners are really believed to be inhabitants of the upper earth; albeit they can pass from this life to the other.

Their business with Odysseus is to bring him back to the common world of Greece—to beloved Ithaca. He has passed to the cave of Hel, and emerged from it to visit the land of Paradise; now he returns, that his adventures may be sung in the homes of Greece. How could men ever tell tales of that strange country, if it really were a shore from which no traveller returned? Accordingly, this traveller is laid to sleep in the black barque of the Phæaceans, “a sweet sleep, unwakeful, nearest like to death; and as arose the one brightest star to herald the morning, the sea-troubled ship touched the shore.”[24] Thus end the adventures of the wanderer; and, as far as regards the belief concerning the sea of death, this is all his adventures can tell us. His doings with the Cyclops, with the Lotus-eaters, have their relationship with the same belief; but they scarcely bring in any new elements; they only change the method of their treatment and symbolize them in a new way. Hades is more distinctly treated of in the second series; and this is enough to show us that the mortal character of the whole journey has been lost sight of more completely than in the first myths; so we noticed before, [Pg 255] that the significance of Calypso’s name is half forgotten when her part is assigned to Circe. The journey to Hades from Circe’s island, Ææa, tallies exactly with the journey to Scheria from the island of Calypso; only, for the island of the blest is substituted the underground home of souls; and when Odysseus addresses there his companion, Elpenor, whom he had but a little while ago left dead on Circe’s island, and asks him how he could have come under the dark west more quickly on foot than Odysseus did sailing in a black ship, we see that the meaning of the ocean journey is forgotten, and that a sort of confusion has arisen between the Hades under men’s feet, to which the souls of the dead descend, and the Hades at the end of the journey lying far away. This part, then, is not significant of the Greek belief concerning an earthly Paradise. The learned Welcker, who first showed how these Phæacean ships were the carriers of souls,[25] wishes also to connect the myth with some non-Hellenic source. He supposes it to have been gathered from the Teutons. But surely we are not obliged to go so far, unless we are prepared to consider Charon non-Hellenic also; and no one can really pretend that. For the Phæacean myth is in many ways truer than the myth of Charon and Styx. Styx is but the earth-river (or sea), Oceanus, transferred to beneath the earth; and the story of the ferryman is a compromise between the two creeds—that of the under-world and that of the western paradise beyond sea; while the myth of the Phæaceans is a simple expression of the last. The connection which we find between Greek and German in these beliefs is derivable only from their common ancestry—not from a contact in later days. Certainly these legends have their close counterparts in Norse mythology; the two series only require to be stripped of local colouring, and some unessential details, to display very clearly their common brotherhood. How curious, for instance, is it to see that Calypso corresponds literally in name with the Northern goddess of the dead, Hel! Another myth, the story of the burning of Baldur, repeats the same images of death which we trace in the legend of Odysseus.

Baldur is quite evidently the sun-god. Less of a hero, more of a god, than Odysseus, he is nevertheless mortal—as, indeed, all the Norse gods are—and falls pierced by the hand of his own brother, Hödur. Then his corpse is placed upon his ship, Hringhorn, and sent out upon this, as on a pyre, drifting into the ocean. We can imagine how to the Norsemen upon their stormy seas, the image of the sun dying red upon the western waters recalled the story of Baldur’s burning ship. The Viking imitated his god in this, and when his time came ordered his funeral fire to be lighted in like manner upon a ship and himself to be set sailing, as Baldur was. After this we are brought in the myth to the underground kingdom of Hel, and there the goddess entertains Baldur, as Calypso entertained Odysseus, making ready her best to do him honour, and seating him in the highest place in her hall. Then the gods take [Pg 256] counsel how Baldur is to be brought back again, and one of them, Hermödr,[26] the messenger, like Hermes, is sent to beg Hel to let Baldur out of Helheim. Fate and death are more powerful in northern lands than they are in Greece. The gods cannot command that this Calypso should let her prisoner go; and alas! they do not even obtain an answer to their prayer save on conditions which they are unable to fulfil. Hel will set Baldur free, if all things, both living and dead, weep for him; but if one thing refuses to weep, then he must remain in the under-world. Thereupon the gods sent messengers over the whole earth, commanding all things, living and lifeless, to weep Baldur out of Helheim; all things freely complied with the request, both men and stones, and trees and metals; until as the messengers were returning, deeming that their mission was accomplished, they met an old witch sitting in a cave, and she refused to weep, saying, “Let Hel keep her own.”[27] This old witch is Calypso or Circe in another guise. Her name is Thokk, that is, darkness (dökkr).

The Teutonic people had many myths and stories about the carrying the dead across the sea. We have signalized the belief in such a passage as the origin of those countless mediæval legends of the earthly Paradise: doubtless it is the parent of the modern superstition that ghosts will not cross the running water. Side by side with the story of the Phæaceans we may place the superstition which Procopius records touching our own island. The Byzantine historian of Justinian seems to have had but vague ideas of the position of Britain, which, by the tide of Teutonic invasion across the Rhine, had long been cut off from intercourse with the Empire. These Easterns were careless and ignorant of the remote West. So Procopius speaks of Britannia as lying opposite to Spain; and then he mentions another island, Brittia—evidently in reality our island—which faces the northern coast of Gaul, and of this he tells the following strange story:—There is, he declares, an island called Brittia, which lies in the Northern Seas. It is separated into two divisions by a wall;[28] and on one side of this wall the air is healthy and the land fertile and pleasant, and all things most apt for human habitation. But on the other side the air is so noxious that no one can breathe in it for an hour: it is given up to serpents and poisonous animals and plants. Yet not entirely; for this is the home of the dead. Then he goes on to relate how the fishermen who inhabit the coast opposite this part of Brittia have to perform the strange duty of carrying the souls across the strait. Each does his office in rotation; when the man’s night has come he is awoke by a knocking at his door, but when he opens it, sees no one. He goes down to the shore, and finds there strange vessels, which, though empty to mortal eyes, lie deep in the water as though weighed down by some [Pg 257] freight. Stepping in, each fisherman takes his rudder, and then by an unfelt wind the vessels are wafted in one night across the channel, a distance which, with oar and sail, they could usually scarce accomplish in eight. Arrived at the opposite side—our coast—the fishermen heard names called over and voices answering in rota, and they felt the boats becoming light. Then, when all the ghosts were landed, they were carried back to Gaul. We may picture them returning to the habitable world in the first glow of morning, or with the one bright morning star which shone on Odysseus landing at Ithaca.

So much for the myth of the sea, or river, of death. A most important change was wrought in belief when the custom of burning the dead was introduced. It would seem that our Aryan ancestors were the beginners of this rite. Whence it arose we cannot say; but if the God of Fire was a prominent divinity, the thought of committing the dead into his charge seems a simple and natural one. Among the Aryan people the only deep traces of fire-worship are to be seen in the Vedic and Iranian religions,[29] while the fire-burial survived in all: but the former may well have held a prominent place in their older creed. Or—and this is far from unlikely—the custom of fire-burial may have arisen out of the sun myth, just as the belief in the soul’s journey after death was suggested by watching the sun’s journey to the west. The two great fire-funerals mentioned in Greek and Teutonic mythology are the funerals of sun-gods. Heracles burning on Mount Œta, on the western coast of the Ægean, may have been first thought of by Greeks who saw the sun setting in fire over that sea; and Baldur’s bale on the ship Hringhorn is evidently the Norse edition of the same story, his blazing ship the blaze in the sky, as the sun sinks into the water. Burning the dead never seems to have been a universal practice; rather a special honour paid to kings and heroes. But then we must remember that immortality itself was not, in ancient belief, granted to all men indiscriminately, only to the greatest.

We see at once that with the use of fire-burial many of the old beliefs had to be given up; all those, for instance, which depended upon the preservation of the bodily remains. Of old time men had buried treasures with the corpse in the expectation that they would be of some kind of use to it; the body itself was at first imagined to descend to the under-world or to travel the western journey to the home of the sun. But now the body is visibly consumed upon the funeral pile, where, too, are placed, by a curious survival of old custom, the precious things which would formerly have been buried with it in the ground. The body and these things have been consumed, are gone; where have they gone? Have they perished utterly, and is there nothing more left than the earliest belief of an Ἀ-ίδης—a nowhere; is nothing true of all those myths of the soul passing away to a home of bliss? Instead of giving [Pg 258] up this faith, the Aryan people have only spiritualized it, robbed it of the too literal and earthly clothing which in earlier times it wore. The thought which had once identified the life with the breath comes again into force, or, if some material representation is still wished for, we have the smoke of the funeral pyre, which rises heavenwards like an ascending soul. In this spirit we find in long after years, in the description of the funeral fire of Beowulf the Goth, it is said that the soul of the hero wand to wolcum, “curled to the clouds,” imaging the smoke which was curling up from his pyre. There is even a curious analogy between the words for smoke and soul in the Aryan languages, showing how closely the two ideas were once allied. From a primitive root dhu, which means to shake or blow, we get both the Sanskrit root dhuma, smoke, and the Greek θυμός, the immaterial part of man, his thought or soul. Θυμός is not a mere abstraction like our word mind, but that which could live when the body was killed or wasted to death by disease.[30]

Evidently, therefore, even the inanimate things, the weapons and treasures which are burnt with the dead, survive in a land of essences for the use of the liberated soul. To the question, Where does man’s essence go to when it rises from the funeral fire? the answer, if the wish alone urged the thought, would be “To the gods.” But with the majority of burying people the belief in future union with the gods was not strongly insisted upon. The islands of the blest are certainly not to be confounded with Olympus; although the Phæaceans claim to live very near the gods.[31] Yet with the use of burning, and among the Aryan people, the hope gains a measure of strength. The gods of the Aryan were, before everything, gods of the air. As the soul and the smoke mounted upwards, “curled to the clouds,” the belief of its having gone to join the gods—chief god, Dyâus, the air—was impressed more vividly upon his mind. And as the notion of the western journey to the home of the sun was not abandoned, a natural compromise would be to send the soul upwards to the path of the sun, and make its voyage a voyage in heaven, led by the sun or by the wind. But his path still lay westward; the home of the dead ancestors lay beyond the western boundary; there was still an Oceanus to be crossed, and a dark Cimmerian land to be passed through.

The heavenly path taken by the soul becomes, in the eye of mortals, a bridge spanning the celestial arch, and carrying them over the river of death; and men would soon begin asking themselves where lay this heavenly road. Night is necessarily associated with thoughts of death—“Death, and his brother Sleep”—and of the other world. The heavens wear a more awful aspect than by day. The sun has forsaken us, and [Pg 259] is himself buried beneath the earth; and a million dwellers in the upper regions, who were before unseen, now appear to sight—the stars, who in so many mythologies are associated with souls. Among the stars we see a bright, yet misty, bow bent overhead: can this be other than the destined bridge of souls? The ancient Indians called this road gods’-path, because besides that it was the way for souls to God, it was also the way from gods to men. They also called it the cow-path—gôpatha, meaning possibly cloud-path—from which it is likely we derive our name for it, “the Milky-way.” The Low-German name for the Milky-way is kau-pati.e., kuh-pfad, cow-path. But in their hymns the Indians oftenest speak of it as the path of Yama, the way to the house of Yama, the god of the dead:—

“A narrow path, an ancient one, stretches there, a path untrodden by men, a path I know of:

“On it the wise who have known Brahma ascend to the world Svarga, when they have received their dismissal,” sings a Sanskrit poet.[32]

Another (R. V. i. 38. 5) prays the Maruts, the gods of the wind, not to let him wander on the path of Yama, or, when he does so—that is, when his time shall come—to keep him that he fall not into the hands of Nirrtis, the Queen of Naraka (Tartarus). In another place we find as guardians of the bridge two dogs, the dogs of Yama, and the dead man is committed to their care:—

“Give him, O king Yama, to the two dogs, the watchers, the four-eyed guardians of the path, guardians of men: grant him safety and freedom from pain.”

Thus stands out in its complete development the myth of the Bridge of Souls: a narrow path spanning the arch of heaven, passing over the dwelling of Nirrtis, the Queen of Tartarus (perhaps not clearly distinguishable from the river of death), and reaching at last the country of the wise Pitris, the “fathers” of the tribe, who have gone to heaven before, and who since their death have not ceased to keep watch over the descendants of their race. This road is guarded by two dogs, the dogs of Yama, both wardens of the bridge and likewise psychopomps, or leaders of the soul up the strait road.

This was essentially an Indian myth—or perhaps an Indian and Iranian—and took the place of the myth of the sea journey, as it was conceived by Greeks and Germans. The Indians and Iranians had never a sea of death, so they could not have such ferrymen as the Phæaceans, or legends such as the voyages of Odysseus and the burning of Baldur. In the place of them, and with their mortal river, they adopted this Bridge of Souls. The guardians are manifold in their nature; for their names show them related both to Cerberus, who guards Hades, and to Hermes, who leads the souls of the dead below; and, so far as we can gather from the Vedas, these dogs of Yama [Pg 260] discharged both offices, sometimes keeping the bridge and sometimes conducting souls along it. “Give him,” says the prayer, “O Yama, to the two dogs.” No doubt their terrors were for the wicked only, and they are thus apt images of death:—

“Death comes to set thee free;
Oh, meet him cheerily
As thy true friend.”[33]

Still, as we see from their appearance, the dreadful aspect of death predominates. In like forms, as dogs or wolves, they return time out of mind in Norse mythology and in Middle-Age legend.

It has been said that this myth of the Bridge of Souls was essentially Indian and Iranian (old Persian). It is often most difficult to ascertain what were the ancient Persian beliefs: but in this case the myth has been handed down to us from the Persians through the Arabs, a people possessing of right no part or lot in its construction. It is generally acknowledged that Mohammed took from the Persians that famous bridge so vividly described in the Korân.[34] Es-Sirât is the bridge’s name. It is finer than a hair and sharper than the edge of a sword, and is, besides, guarded with thorns and briars along all its length. Nevertheless, when, at the last day, the good Muslim comes to cross it, a light will shine upon him from heaven, and he will be snatched across like lightning or like the wind; but when the wicked man or the unbeliever approaches, the light will be hidden, and, from the extreme narrowness of the bridge and likewise becoming entangled in the thorns, he will fall headlong into the abyss of fire that is beneath. This is the fragment of our old Aryan mythology which the Mohammedan has taken to himself to form an image of hell and of punishment after death. It is significant that from the Persians should have been inherited the most gloomy myth concerning the Bridge of Souls. For from the same source we (Christians) gain our fearfullest notions of the Devil.

The bridge cannot be always the Milky-way. In at least one Sanskrit hymn we learn—

“Upon it, they say, there are colours, white, and blue, and brown, and gold, and red.

“And this path Brahma knows, and he who has known Brahma shall take it; he who is pure and glorious.”

Here the singer is evidently describing the rainbow. Now in the Norse cosmology the rainbow had the same name as the Indian patha-devayano, gods’-path. The Eddas call it As-bru, the bridge of the Æsir, or gods. Its other name, Bifröst, the trembling mile, it may even have inherited from the Milky-way, for that, when we look at it, seems to be always trembling. Asbru or Bifröst, then, is the bridge whereby the gods descend to earth. One end of it reaches to the famous Urdar fount, where sit the weird sisters three—the Nornir, or fates. “Near the fountain which is under the ash stands a very fair house, out of [Pg 261] which come three maidens, named Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld (Past, Present, Future). These maidens assign the lifetime of men, and are called Norns.”[35] To their stream the gods ride every day along Bifröst to take counsel. For in the Norse creed the gods know not the hidden things of the future, nor have power to ward them off. Fate and death, the Twilight of the Gods, lies ahead for them also, as these things lie ahead of mortals.

It is possible that a trace of the rainbow bridge is to be seen in the Greek myth of the asphodel meadows, which are a part of the infernal regions. But no other trace of the Bridge of Souls—if this be one—is to be found throughout the range of Hellenic mythology.

The Eddas have nothing to say of the Milky-way. But we have clear evidence that it was considered by the German people a path for the dead. Indeed, in the scanty legends which survive, we can trace the characteristic features of the Indian myth of the bridge guarded by Yama’s dogs, and the souls led along it by the wind-god. The wind-god of the north is the father of gods, none less than Odin himself; and this is why Odin is described as riding with his Valkyriur to the battle-fields, to choose from the dead the heroes who shall go with him to Valhöll, the hall of the chosen. It is because, as the wind-god, he collects the breath of the departed. Odin and Freyja (Air and Earth) divide the slain, says one legend—that is, the bodies go to earth, the breath goes to heaven. Now, in the Middle Ages, when Odin-worship had been overthrown, the gods of Asgaard descended to Helheim; from being deities they were turned into fiends. Odin still pursued his office as leader of the souls; but now he was huntsman of hell. One of the commonest appearances of this fiend, therefore, is as a huntsman—called the Wild Huntsman. He is heard by the peasants of the wild mountain districts at this day. He is companioned by two dogs, and his chase goes on along the Milky-way all the year through, save during the twelve nights which follow Christmas. During that time he hunts on earth, and the peasant will do well to keep his door well-barred at night. If he does not, one of the hell-hounds will rush in and lie down in the ashes of the hearth. No power will move him during the ensuing year, and for all that time there will be trouble in the house. When the hunt comes round again he will rise from his couch and rush forth, wildly howling, to join his master.

A gentler legend is that which we find preserved in a charming poem of the Swede, Torpelius, called “The Winter Street”—another of the names for the Milky-way. With this, in the form in which it has been rendered into English,[36] we may end our list of legends connected with the Sea of Death or the Bridge of Souls. The story is of two lovers:—

[Pg 262] “Her name Salami was, his Zulamyth;
And each so loved, each other loved. Thus runs the tender myth:
“That once on earth they lived, and, loving there,
Were wrenched apart by night, and sorrow, and despair;
And when death came at last, with white wings given,
Condemned to live apart, each reached a separate heaven.

“Yet loving still upon the azure height,
Across unmeasured ways of splendour, gleaming bright,
With worlds on worlds that spread and glowed and burned,
Each unto each, with love that knew no limit, longing turned.
“Zulamyth half consumed, until he willed
Out of his strength one night a bridge of light to build
Across the waste—and lo! from her far sun,
A bridge of light from orb to orb Salami had begun.
“A thousand years they built, still on, with faith,
Immeasurable, quenchless, so my legend saith,
Until the winter street of light—a bridge
Above heaven’s highest vault swung clear, remotest ridge from ridge.
“Fear seized the Cherubim; to God they spake—
‘See what amongst thy works, Almighty, these can make!’
God smiled, and smiling, lit the spheres with joy—
‘What in my world love builds,’ he said, ‘shall I, shall Love itself destroy?’”

C. F. Keary.


[5] Elia.

[6] Unless indeed we are to except a figure upon the Ephesian drum (Artemisium) now in the British Museum, which some have imagined to represent Thanatos.

[7] Hel is from the Icl. helja “to conceal.”

[8] Isaiah xxxviii. 18, 19; cf. also Genesis xxxvii. 35; 1 Samuel xxviii. 19. Sheol is misrendered “grave” in our version. It means the place of the dead, not of bodies only.

[9] The fact that the sun dies every day militates against his claim to the rank of a god: otherwise he would probably always receive the greatest meed of worship. As it is, he is often worshipped rather as a hero or demigod than a true immortal.

[10] Fick. “Verg. Wörterbuch der I.-G. Sp.” s.v. mara.

[11] Hesperides. They are, however, called the daughters of Night by Hesiod and others.

[12] Πόντος is from the same root as the Skr. patha, a path, pfad, &c. One might suppose from this that the Greeks were the first adventurers upon the deep waters. While the other Aryan folks called the sea “a death,” they called it a “road.”

[13] There can be no doubt that the cosmology of the Eddas is to some extent infected by the source from which we derive it. The picture of earth, with its mountain Asgard and its surrounding sea, is nearly exactly the picture of Iceland.

[14] So Poseidôn, the god of the sea, is the earth-shaker; earthquakes being apparently attributed to the water under the earth.

[15] Weber in Chambr., 1020.

[16] “The sounding,” from gialla, to sound (yell).

[17] Chaucer.

[18] Κίρκος (whence Κίρκη) is given as both hawk and wolf in L. & S. It is most likely from a root krik, meaning to make a grating sound, and therefore probably applied originally to the bird (cf. our nightjar). The Latin quercus seems to be from the same root—from its rustling? We may compare Circe with Charôn, which means “an eagle.”

[19] From σχερός.

[20] Od. vi. 204, sqq.

[21] “Earthly Paradise.”

[22] Od. viii. 562.

[23] Justin Martyr identifies the gardens of Alcinoüs with Paradise. “Cohort. ad Græc.” xxix.

[24] Od. xiii. 79, 88.

[25] “Rheinisches Museum für Philologie,” vol. i. N.S. p. 219. Die Homerische Phäaken.

[26] Hermödr (heer-muth, kriegsmuth) was originally one of the names of Odin, and therefore originally the wind. We easily see the connection between the rushing wind, and the battle’s rage. Hermes is likewise the wind, and means “the rusher” (ὁρμάω, and cf. Sârameyas of the Vedas).

[27] Edda Snorra, Dæmisaga, 49.

[28] Procopius, Bel. Goth. iv. The wall identifies the island with Britain.

[29] The Iranian religion, as it has come down to us, is the historical one founded by Zarathustra, who swept away most of the traces of the old Aryan faith. There is difficulty, therefore, in obtaining the evidence of a belief which was shared by the old Persians.


κὰδ’ δ’ ἔπεσ’ ἐν κόνιῃσι μακὼν, ἀπὸ δ’ ἔπτατο θυμός.—Od. x. 163.
οὔτε τίς, οὖν μόι νοῦσος ἐπήλυθεν, ἥτε μάλιστα
τηκεδόνι στυγερῇ μελέων ἐξείλετο θυμόν.—Od. xi. 200.

[31] We are here speaking of beliefs which sprang originally from the days of burial in the earth. Of these were all that class which included the journey of the soul.

[32] Vrhadâranayaka. Ed. Pol. iii 4-7.

[33] Fouque.

[34] Sale’s Koran, Introd. p. 91. The Persian bridge was called Chinvat.

[35] See Edda den Eldra, Grimnismâl 44, and Edda Snorra, D. 15. That Bifröst did not tremble through weakness we may gather from the fact that it is the “best of bridges,” “the strongest of all bridges” (Simrock, D.M. 28), and that it will only be broken at the day of judgment.

[36] By E. Keary: Evening Hours, vol. iii.

[Pg 263]


Selection from the Correspondence of the late Macvey Napier, Esq. Edited by his son, Macvey Napier. London: Macmillan & Co.

Mr. Macvey Napier, who succeeded Francis Jeffrey in the editorship of the great Whig Review, had, of course, a perfect right to preserve the letters which are published in this volume, and to study them in private as much as he pleased. Indeed, for anything that appears to the contrary in the “Introduction” by his son, the present Mr. Macvey Napier, they may have been bequeathed by the original recipient with instructions that they should some day be published. An edition, privately circulated a short time ago, led to “representations that a correspondence of so much interest ought to be made more accessible,” and the present volume is the result; but it might be maintained that the writers of such letters would, if they could have been consulted, have objected to their publication; and that to send them forth to the world in all their nakedness was, at all events, not a delicate or magnanimous thing to do. “Much might be said on both sides.” Paley, in his chapter on the original character of the Christian Morality, remarked that though a thousand cases might be supposed in which the use of the golden rule might mislead a person, it was impossible in fact to light on such a case. That was a hazardous observation, for the truth is that when we once get beyond elementary conditions of being and doing, we find human beings differ so very widely, and in such utterly incalculable ways, that it is in vain to poll the monitor in the breast on questions that do in fact arise daily—five hundred in a thousand will vote one way, and five hundred in another. “How would you like it yourself?” is a question that elicits the most discordant replies. I have a very positive feeling that I should have left many of these letters in the portfolio, or put them into the fire; but when I look about me for a standard which I could take in my hand to Mr. Napier, I am baffled—he might produce one of his own [Pg 264] that would silence me on the spot. And when one has taken up a book to comment upon it with as little reserve as may be, it seems idle, if not Irish, to begin by saying that the most amusing or most fertile things in it ought never to have seen the light.

This point may recur before we have done; and in the meantime it should be remarked that nothing very momentous, either to the honour or the disgrace of human nature in general, or literary human nature in particular, can be extracted from this correspondence. A late essayist used to tell a true anecdote of a distinguished statesman who had lived many years and seen as many changes as Ulysses. A friend asked him something like this: “Well, now, you have had a great deal to do with mankind, and you have outlived the heats and prejudices of youth; what do you think of men in general?” And the veteran replied: “Oh, I like them—very good fellows; but”—and here we shall mollify his language a little—“but condemnably vain, you know.” And really that is about the worst thing you can find it in your heart to say of literary men after running through these letters—“very good fellows, but very vain, you know.”

Another point which lies less near the surface, and has at least the look of novelty, would perhaps be this. It is the most frequent and most voluminous of the writers who unconsciously tell us the most about themselves; and who, with the pleasing exception of Jeffrey, show us the most of their unamiable sides. But there is comfort for impulsive people in the fact that it is not always the most self-controlled and inoffensive of the writers who win upon us. The Brougham-Macaulay feud runs sprawling through these pages till we are tired of it; and some of poor Brougham’s letters are downright venomous. But the total absence of disguise and the blundering boyish inconsistency disarm us. Taking the letters one by one, the moral superiority is with Macaulay on Brougham as against Brougham on Macaulay, but taking the correspondence in the lump, it is something like Charles Surface against Joseph Surface, in another line—only, of course, there is no hypocrisy. While you come to feel for Brougham in his spluttering rages, you feel also that Macaulay, in his too-admirable self-continence, can do very well without your compassion, whatever he may have to complain of. It is easy to discern that Brougham honestly believed in his own superiority to the young rival who outshone him, and yet that he was inwardly tormented. Macaulay’s forbearance was of the kind qui coûte si peu au gens heureux. The editor, Mr. Napier, was, we may conjecture, the greatest sufferer of the three. Much was owed to Brougham as a man of enormous intellectual force; to which, apart from his past services, great respect was due: but Macaulay was by far the best writer, and (to employ a bull which is common enough) incomparably the most attractive contributor. The strength of his hold upon the Review and its editor is apparent on every tenth page of the book, and comes out forcibly enough in a letter from Sir James Stephen [Pg 265] to Mr. Napier. Mr. Napier had written to Sir James, expressing some delicate surprise that no article from his pen had reached the Review for a long time. Sir James excuses himself in this fashion:—

“I know that many of your contributors must be importunate for a place; that you must be fencing and compromising at a weary rate; that there are many interests of the passing day which you could not overlook; and that we should all have growled like so many fasting bears if denied the regular return of the Macaulay diet, to which we have been so long accustomed.”

Sir James was an exceedingly busy man, and he was not professedly a man of letters like Macaulay; but we may, if we like, read between the lines in these excuses and find a little pique there, as well as a just sense of an editor’s difficulties.

Another point which lies broadly and prominently upon the surface in these letters is a very unpleasant one. It is scarcely credible how much dull conceit and sheer ignorant arbitrariness there often is in the minds of able and cultivated men. It does not seem even to occur to them that their own range may be limited, and their judgments upon many (or even a few) topics not worth ink or breath. It should hardly be offensive to an ordinary man to be told, or at least to find it tacitly assumed, that he could not have invented fluxions, painted like Rembrandt, or sung like Pindar. Why, then, should it be difficult for any cultivated specialist, of more than ordinary faculties, to make the reflection that he must be deficient in some direction or other? Yet we find in practice that it is not only difficult, but impossible, in the majority of cases. Mr. Napier seems to have invited, or at all events not to have repelled, free criticisms on his Review from the contributors in general, and the outcome is little short of appalling. If ever there was an able man it was Mr. Senior, yet these are the terms in which he allows himself to speak of an article on Christopher North—or rather of Christopher North himself:—“The article on Christopher North is my abomination. I think him one of the very worst of the clever bad writers who infest modern literature; full of bombast, affectation, conceit, in short, of all the vitia, tristia, as well as dulcia. I had almost as soon try to read Carlyle or Coleridge.” Now Mr. Senior was, of course, entitled to dislike Christopher North, and there is plenty to be said against him in the way of criticism; but the charge of “affectation” is foolish, and the whole passage pitched in the most detestable of all literary key-notes. John Wilson was a man of genius, whose personal likings and rampant animal spirits led him most mournfully astray. He was wanting also in love of truth for its own sake; but he was as much superior to Mr. Senior as Shakspeare was to him. And the addition about Carlyle or Coleridge—or Coleridge!—is just the gratuitous insolence of one-eyed dulness. There is enough and to spare of blame ready in any balanced mind for either of these great writers, but they can do without the admiration of wooden-headed prigs, however able. The point, however, is that it never dawns upon [Pg 266] the mind of even so clever and cultivated a man as Mr. Senior, that his head may have gaps in it.

Another instance to the same purport may be selected from a letter from Mr. Edwin Atherstone, the poet—for it would perhaps be hard and grudging to deny him the title, since he found an audience, and I have a vague recollection of having once read verses of his about Nineveh or Babylon which had in them power of the picturesque-meditative order. Now, this is the way in which Mr. Edwin Atherstone speaks of Dr. Thomas Brown, the metaphysician:—“For myself, I know not a writer, with the exception of Shakspeare, Milton, Homer, and Scott, from whom I have derived such high delight as from Dr. Brown.”

Was ever such a category put on paper before? It is as if a man should say his favourite musical instruments were the organ, the harp, the trumpet, the violin, and the sewing-machine. Brown was one of the most readable of metaphysicians; he made some acute hits, and he wrote elegant verses; but his position in Mr. Atherstone’s list is as inexplicably quaint as that of “Burke, commonly called the Sublime,” in the epitaph on the lady who “painted in water-colours,” and “was first cousin to Lady Jones.”

The worst examples of all, however, come from the letters of Francis Jeffrey himself. Jeffrey has been underrated, and he was a most amiable man; but some of the verdicts he thought fit to pronounce upon articles in the Edinburgh, when edited by Mr. Napier, are saugrenus. In one case he is about suggesting a contributor, to deal with a certain topic, and is so polite as to say that the name of Mr. John Stuart Mill had struck him:—“I once thought of John Mill, but there are reasons against him too, independent of his great unreadable book and its elaborate demonstrations of axioms and truisms.”

There might be weighty “reasons against” Mr. Mill, but what his “Logic” could have to do with the question is not clear. It never seems to have crossed Jeffrey’s mind that he might be totally disqualified for forming an opinion of a book like that; and, having called it “unreadable” (though to a reader with any natural bent towards such matters it is deeply interesting), he actually puts forward the fact that Mill had written it as a reason against his being entrusted with the treatment of a political topic in a Whig Review. Editors are human, and the editorial position is a very troublesome one. An editor may lose his head, as an overworked wine-taster may lose his palate. In a word, allowances must be made; but, after a disclosure or two like this, it is difficult not to conclude that the Review owed no more of its success to its former editor than it might have owed to any intelligent clerk. But we cannot let Jeffrey go yet. The following passage relates to an article on Victor Cousin:—

“Cousin I pronounce beyond all doubt the most unreadable thing that ever appeared in the Review. The only chance is, that gentle readers may take it to [Pg 267] be very profound, and conclude that the fault is in their want of understanding. But I am not disposed to agree with them. It is ten times more mystical than anything my friend Carlyle ever wrote, and not half so agreeably written. It is nothing to the purpose that he does not agree with the worst part of the mysticism, for he affects to understand it, and to explain it, and to think it very ingenious and respectable, and it is mere gibberish. He may possibly be a clever man. There are even indications of that in his paper, but he is not a very clever man, nor of much power; and beyond all question he is not a good writer on such subjects. If you ever admit such a disquisition again, order your operator to instance and illustrate all his propositions by cases or examples, and to reason and explain with reference to these. This is a sure test of sheer nonsense, and moreover an infinite resource for the explication of obscure truth, if there be any such thing.”

Now, the writer of the article in question was Sir William Hamilton. “He may possibly be a clever man, but beyond all question he is not a good writer on such subjects.” So much for Jeffrey.

“Nec sibi cœnarum quivis temere arroget artem,
Non prius exacta tenui ratione saporum.”

Poor Mr. Carlyle is again dragged in, and Sir William is pronounced “ten times more mystical” than he—“mystical” in italics. When a writer, using the word mystical opprobriously, prints it in italics, it is usually safe to decide that he knows nothing of metaphysics. The concluding sentences are instructive examples of editorial self-confidence: “If ever you admit such a disquisition again, order your operator to” do so-and-so. Thus, the treatment of Mill and Hamilton being equally ignorant and inept, there is no escape for the ex-editor. Both verdicts were after the too-celebrated “this-will-never-do” manner, and that is all.

In the communications from literary men there are some fine instances of just self-consciousness. Tom Campbell writes, with great warmth and alertness, to promise an article upon a new work about the Nerves; but shortly afterwards writes again, candidly confessing that he had found, upon looking again at the work, that his aptitude for scientific detail was not great enough to enable him to do justice to the subject. A letter from William Hazlitt is so striking, both for its truthfulness and its clear-headedness, as to deserve quoting in full. He had been written to by Mr. Napier for some contributions to the Encyclopædia Britannica, and he replies, from his well-known retreat at Winterslow Hut, in these terms:—

“I am sorry to be obliged, from want of health and a number of other engagements, which I am little able to perform, to decline the flattering offer you make me. I am also afraid that I should not be able to do the article in question, or yourself, justice, for I am not only without books, but without knowledge of what books are necessary to be consulted on the subject. To get up an article in a Review on any subject of general literature is quite as much as I can do without exposing myself. The object of an Encyclopædia is, I take it, to condense and combine all the facts relating to a subject, and all the theories of any consequence already known or advanced. Now, where the business of such a work ends, is just where I begin—that is, I might perhaps throw in an idle speculation or two of my own, not contained in former accounts of the subject, [Pg 268] and which would have very little pretensions to rank as scientific. I know something about Congreve, but nothing at all of Aristophanes, and yet I conceive that the writer of an article on the Drama ought to be as well acquainted with the one as the other.”

The honesty of this is quite refreshing. There is one more letter, of a similar order, which deserves to be signalized. In August, 1843, Macaulay, being pressed for more frequent contributions, writes from the Albany that he can promise, at the very utmost, no more than two articles in a year:—

“I ought to give my whole leisure to my History; and I fear that if I suffer myself to be diverted from that design as I have done, I shall, like poor Mackintosh, leave behind me the character of a man who would have done something if he had concentrated his powers instead of frittering them away. There are people who can carry on twenty works at a time. Southey would write the history of Brazil before breakfast, an ode after breakfast, then the history of the Peninsular War till dinner, and an article for the Quarterly Review in the evening. But I am of a different temper. I never write so as to please myself until my subject has for the time driven away every other out of my head. When I turn from one work to another a great deal of time is lost in the mere transition. I must not go on dawdling and reproaching myself all my life.”

There is something melancholy in this, admirable as it is. Macaulay had begun to watch the shadow on the dial too closely to permit him to do much miscellaneous work with an easy mind. There is an important lesson for men of letters in the sentence,—“When I turn from one work to another, a great deal of time is lost in the mere transition.” Here lies the great difference between serious literary work and that of ordinary business, where the mind is solicited by one thing after another in rapid succession. In the first case, time and energy have to be expended in evolving from within a fresh impulse for every topic. The most readable writings of Southey are those which he produced fragment by fragment, on topics for which little renewal of impulse was required. To write a great poem in scraps, all by the clock, was a task which only a very conceited and rather wooden man would have attempted; and the result we know, though there are fine things in Southey’s longer poems. A powerful passage by Cardinal Newman on the difficulties of literary work is almost too well known to bear quoting, but a living poet, Mrs. Augusta Webster, has put the case so fairly that Macaulay’s shade—which is, of course, a shade that reads everything—may be gratified by seeing in a handy way a few of her sentences:—

“Occupations of study, scientific research, literary production—of brain-work of any kind that is carried on in the worker’s private home with no visible reminder of customer or client—are taken to be such as can lightly be done at one time as well as another, and resumed after no matter what interruptions, like a lady’s embroidery, which she can take up again at the very stitch she left her needle in. Professions of this sort not only admit, but in many instances require, considerable variation in the amount of daily time directly bestowed on them,—directly, for the true student is not at his work only when he is ostensibly employed, but whenever and wherever he may have his head to himself,—and there is no measure of visible quantity for the more or less results of [Pg 269] application.... The literary man probably fares the worst of all. He is not merely not protected by the manual part of his processes, but it is his danger. It is so easy—what anybody can do at any time!... Of course the simple fact is that it is more difficult for this class of persons to practise their vocations under the drawback of perpetual breaks, actual and (what comes to nearly the same thing) expected, than it is for ‘business men.’ Let the attention of the solicitor, for instance, busied on the points of an intricate case, be perforce diverted to another matter, there is lost from that case just the time diverted, and a little extra to allow for the mind which returns to any interrupted course of thought, never returning to it exactly at the point at which it was forced to leave it. But there are the recorded facts; the direct conclusions to be drawn remain unaltered; nothing has disappeared, nothing has lost its identity. But suppose, let us say, a dramatist, devising his crisis after hours, perhaps days, of gradual growth, to the moment when he sees it before him as a reality.... Force his attention away, and he has lost, not merely the time he needed to complete a spell of works, with something over for the difficulty of resuming, but the power of resuming. All has faded into a haze; and the fruit of days, may be, has been thrown away at the ripening, for such moments do not come twice.”

There are but few of Mr. Napier’s own letters in this volume, so that we have only indirect means of measuring his idea of his editorial rights or duties as against contributors. There is one case in which Macaulay complains strongly of certain excisions, and there is another in which he defends certain phrases of his own which appear to have offended the taste of Mr. Napier, who found them undignified, if not slightly vulgar. He submits of course—all the mutilated ones submit—and he says he submits “willingly;” but all the while we can too plainly see the wry faces he is making. Mr. Napier was, apparently, a purist in the matter of style; but there is something almost grotesque in the spectacle of a man of his quality correcting Macaulay. It reminds one of cet imbécile Buloz.[37] The case of Leigh Hunt was very different, for he sometimes went to the extreme verge of decorum—quarterly review decorum, that is—and beyond it. But we may safely conclude that Macaulay knew much better than his editor how to turn a sentence, or when the use of a French locution was desirable for ends of literary effect. Upon this subject of imported phrases Mr. Napier was, it seems, very punctilious, for with Mr. G. H. Lewes he must have had a brisk correspondence about it. Mr. Lewes, who was then a young writer, anxious to get his feet well planted, submits, with every possible expression of acquiescence, one might almost say, of abject agreement; but it is easy to see that his compliance was forced. Macaulay in his discussion of this little matter with Napier, easily and decisively lays down the true guiding principle:—“The first rule of all writing,—that rule to which every other rule is subordinate,—is that the words used by the writer shall be such as most fully and precisely convey his meaning to the great body of his readers. All considerations about the purity and dignity of style ought to bend to this consideration.”

[Pg 270]

This, indeed, exhausts the subject; and leaves the editor only one question to solve—namely, whether the writer whom he employs has presumably a meaning fit to be conveyed to the readers of his periodical. Upon that point he must use his own judgment; but it was idle for a man like Mr. Napier to criticize the phrasing of a man like Macaulay, who had ten thousand times his reading. For it is upon the “reading” that the matter very largely turns. The force of a quotation or a phrase imported from a foreign tongue depends, not upon the bare meaning of the words, but upon the suggestiveness of certain associations. This does not necessarily imply that the precise context is recalled, or certain hackneyed trifles from Lucretius and Horace, and a score of such chips in porridge, would be indecent. If it be said that all this implies that an editor should be omniscient, or at lowest an omnivorous reader, the reply is, that it certainly does—unless the principle adopted in the conduct of the periodical be the more recent one of choosing contributors largely on account of their names, and then leaving them to answer for their own sins, if any. One thing is clear, that if a man like Jeffrey—or like Napier—could be shown the number of blunders he made in mutilating the writings of his contributors, he would feel very much humiliated. Thackeray complains very bitterly of the suppression of some of his touches of humour, and his sufferings at the hands of a critic like Mr. Napier (able man as he was) must have been terrible indeed.

The system recently adopted of having every article signed, has not yielded the results which were predicted or expected by those who so long struggled to get it introduced. It has led to “starring” more outrageous and more audacious than any that was ever seen upon the stage, and to mischief far more serious. The worst of these is the substitution of a spurious sort of authority for the natural influence or weight of the writing, even upon some of the most important topics which can engage the human mind. The opinion, for example, of a versatile politician, or traveller, or physicist, on a question of religion or morals may be of no more value than that of the first man you meet on passing into the streets. But it will attract attention in proportion to the notoriety of the author, and though wise men may know that it is weak or foolish, they may wait a long while for the chance of saying so from any pulpit worth preaching in, because the platforms are pre-engaged; and also because, the “organs of opinion” being bound to live by keeping up a succession of attractive names in their pages, it will not do to offend the owners of such names. One other result of the recent system (not everywhere and always, of course, but generally and most frequently) is a want of freshness in periodical literature. This evil our American friends manage to escape; only they are much bolder than we are, and do not stand in terror of the charge of levity. But, as a rule, writers who are fit for starring purposes lose freshness in a very short time; and then they do a still farther mischief [Pg 271] by striking that key-note of second-hand thought which is so prevalent, or at least so common in even our better literature.

It is amusing enough to recall the superstition of secrecy which inspired the policy of the first Edinburgh Reviewers. Lord Jeffrey has told us how the conspirators, Brougham, Sydney Smith, Horner, and himself, used to meet by night in the back room of a printing-office, and steal to their work by winding paths and back stairs, like assassins. This was folly, though not inexcusably without rational ground or motive, and one cannot resist the belief that the more modern plan will work well some day, if it does not now. But the difference in the results is not so great as might have been hoped for. Men of letters do not now openly insult each other for differences of opinion in politics or theology; but it is not any variation of mechanism which has made the change, and, though less brutality of phrasing is now permitted, it would be difficult to surpass in bitterness or unfairness some of the signed and accredited criticism of our own day. On the whole, it comes to this,—you can get no more out of given moral conditions than there is in them. If public writers are clique-ish (a word to disturb Mr. Napier in his grave, and certainly an ugly one) and unjust to each other, it is because you cannot change the spots of the leopard. A man who loves the truth will employ his pen conscientiously and kindly, whether he writes anonymously or otherwise. To this it may be added that there is something extremely quaint in one thing that we may see taking place every week—the greater part of our newspaper writing is still unsigned, and, considering what a hastily got-up miscellany a newspaper necessarily is, it can hardly be otherwise. A column of reviews in a newspaper is sometimes the work of as many hands as there are books reviewed in it. But it might certainly have been expected beforehand that reviewers who write without signature should be both careful and moderate in attacking writers who sign, and who, presumably, take more time over their work than contributors to newspapers can generally do. Yet the newspaper columns in which quarterly and monthly periodicals are reviewed are “too often” (we must round the corner with the help of that commonplace) models of flippancy and dogmatism.

On the whole, it is not from any mechanical changes of method that we must expect improvement in Review literature. Of course, in largeness, fulness, richness, and versatility the Review-writing of to-day is immeasurably superior to that of the days when Macaulay and Brougham fought for precedence in the Edinburgh. But so is the literature reviewed—one is a big “rolling miscellany,” and so is the other. It does not seem to some of us that, other things being made equal, the literature of our modern Reviews (using the word widely) is either superior or inferior to that of the Edinburgh, for example. The growth, however, of literature generally in force, colour, range, and effectiveness, is something astounding. We note this, or rather it overwhelms us, in [Pg 272] turning over such a book as the Memoirs of Harriet Martineau; and there is more than the insolence of new-fangled tastes in putting such a question as—where would Campbell’s “Pleasures of Hope” be if it were published to-morrow? One day when Brougham had just left (for London) a country-house where he had been staying, Rogers, who was a fellow-guest with him, made some such remark as this—“In that post-chaise went away this morning, Bacon, Newton, Demosthenes, and Solon.” It is not recorded that Rogers meant this as a joke; but where would Brougham be after a little manipulation by Mr. Jevons or Mr. Goldwin Smith? It would be tiresome to dwell upon this, and wrong to suggest that the men were smaller because the outlook was less; but this view, if anything, helps us to see the direction in which one of our best hopes for literature must lie—namely, in its ever-increasing volume. There will always be hostile camps, and there will always be warriors of low morale, but as each camp enlarges, the average pain of those who suffer from injustice or neglect will be lessened. And this observation is by no means addressed to mere questions of reviewing in the minor sense, but rather to literature in the mass as representing the culture of the time.

Since the time when Jeffrey ruled the Edinburgh Review, and even since the death of Mr. Napier, “the advertising element,” and commercial elements in general, have played a great and new part, an increasing part, too, in the fortunes, and thus in regulating the quality and tendency, of current literature. One result of this state of things is an ever-increasing tendency to compromise in the expression of opinion. In spite of the spirit of tolerance of which we hear so much, there was perhaps never a time in which the expression of opinion was so much emasculated in the higher periodical literature, or in which so much trickery of accommodated phraseology was going forward. This will last for a long time yet—as long as periodical literature is a matter of commercial speculation. It is an evil omen that the greatest amount of freedom now displayed is in political and scientific discussion. It is difficult to see where the remedy is to come from in discussions of another kind. Probably we shall have a lesson by the cataclysmic method before very long. There is in this volume a letter from Brougham to Napier, in which Brougham is very angry about an indirect disclosure of Romilly’s heterodoxy, and he goes off at a tangent to express a doubt whether Macaulay was any better than Romilly, but is very anxious that conventional conformity should be strictly maintained in the Review, even to the length of concealing from the general reader as far as possible such facts as that a man so good and “religious” as Romilly could be a disbeliever in this, that, or the other. We have now got beyond that; the accredited policy is in a vague way to trump the cards of the dangerous people, and then nobody shows his hand fairly and freely. Meanwhile, everybody feels uneasy, from a latent sense of insincerity; and, when once the excitement is off, the natural perception that out of nothing nothing can come, [Pg 273] reassumes its sway. The game cannot go on in this way for ever, though no one can foresee by what accident the lights will be blown out, the tables thrown over, and the stakes roughly dealt with at last.

A great difference, as might be expected, arises from the incredible widening of what might be called the constituencies of opinion. Political articles of the “inspired” order do not count as they did, or were supposed to do, in the days of “Coningsby” even, much less as they did a decade or two sooner. The effective currents of thought are far too numerous and far too massive to be guided—nay, too numerous and too massive for even the most conceited of propagandists or prophets to fancy he could calculate them. What sort of figure as a publicist or “inspired” political writer would a man like Croker cut at this end of the century? It must have been a dolorous day for such as he when they first felt sure the tides were coming up which were to sweep them and their works into oblivion, or at least into limbo, and make successors to their function impossible in future. We do not affirm that the present phase of change is for the best; no theory of progress will justify statements of that kind. In fact, things are quite bad enough; but some security against certain evils there must be, in the fact that these are days in which it is difficult to hide a wrong, or an error, which has an immediate sinister bearing upon ends cherished by any school of opinion. Who on earth would now think of calling the Times the Thunderer? Just when middle-aged men of to-day were babies it was thought finely argumentative, if not conclusive, to call the London University “Stinkomalee”—in the interest of Church and King; but the “hard hitting” of our own time is done in other fashion. Even if the Marquis of Salisbury were to edit a paper he would not be able to make much out of Titus Oates. But the allusion to that episode in another sphere of action may remind us of the late Lord Derby, who might almost be called the last of the old school of politicians. The mere mention of his name seems to flash light upon the gulf we have traversed since the days when the world was divided between a Whig organ and a Tory organ.

Simultaneously with the incalculable increase of devotion to science, we have had an increase of devotion to ends held to be practical, and this has largely governed our literature. The subject now barely hinted at is well worth extended treatment. It is, however, no more than the truth that there has been recently a great diminution of speculative enthusiasm of all kinds, with a largely increased tendency to make things pleasant for all parties. Convenience, in fact, becomes more and more the governing factor of life; this tells upon our better literature; and until the wind sets again from the old quarters—as it certainly will some day—we shall feel the want of certain elements of freshness, individuality, and moral impulse which touch us more closely than we at first recognize in reading the old Edinburgh Reviewers.

Matthew Browne.


[37] One, at least, of the contributors whom Buloz tortured (Georges Sand wrote that she wished him “au diable” ten times a day, only he held her purse-strings) used to date his letters in this style:—“A vingt-cinq lieues de cet imbécile Buloz.

[Pg 274]


Comparative Mythology.[38]

Towards the end of the last century the men of letters of Europe were astonished to hear that in Asia, on the banks of the Ganges, a more ancient and richer language had been found than that of Homer. It offered in its words and forms striking analogies with the languages of Rome and Athens. Interest once roused, systematic comparisons were made, and comparative grammar was founded. The sphere of comparisons widened and the group of Aryan languages was established.

It was thus ascertained that the languages of the Romans, of the Greeks, of the Gauls, of the Germans, of the Lithuanians, and of the Slavs in Europe, of the Hindoos and Persians in Asia, are made out of the same materials and cast in the same mould; that they are only varieties of one primitive type. The precise laws which regulated the formation of each of these varieties were discovered, so that it is both possible to proceed from one of these languages to the other, and to trace all of them to the original type whence they come, to the lost type which they reproduce. This lost type, the source of all the idioms of nearly the whole of Europe and of a third of Asia, science has reconstructed: with an almost absolute certainty, it has described the grammar, drawn up the lexicon of that language, of which no direct echo remains, not the fragment of an inscription on a broken stone, of that language of which the life and the death are pre-historic, and which was spoken at a period when there were as yet neither Romans, nor Hindoos, nor Greeks, nor Persians, nor Germans, nor Celts, and when the ancestors of all those nations were still wandering as one tribe, one knows not where, one knows not when.

[Pg 275]

Closely following comparative grammar, almost at the same time rose up comparative mythology, and with the ancient words awoke the gods that they had sung, the beliefs that they had fostered. It was recognized that if the Indo-Europeans spoke essentially the same language, they also worshipped essentially the same gods and believed in the same things. As comparative grammar, on hearing the sister-tongues, caught up the echo of the mother, whose voice they repeat, so comparative mythology, in its turn, on looking at the sister religions, has tried to see through them the original image which they reflect. As the one restored the words and forms of the language which lived on the lips of the Aryans at the moment of the breaking up of the Aryan unity, the other endeavoured to restore the gods and beliefs which lived in their souls at the moment when, with the unity of the race, the identity of language and belief passed away. This restoration of the pre-historic gods and of the pre-historic beliefs is the final object of comparative mythology, just as the reconstruction of words and forms is the final object of comparative grammar. The object was analogous and so was the method. It is the comparative method, which by comparing kindred divinities and kindred beliefs, finds the original divinity and the original belief which gave birth to them, and which are reproduced in them. To sketch the picture of the original mythology, it is sufficient to separate from the various derivative mythologies the essential characteristics common to them. Every characteristic common to the secondary religions will be legitimately referred to the primitive one, whenever it is essential—that is to say neither borrowed from one of the kindred religions nor due to an identical, but quite independent development. If, for instance, the various Indo-European mythologies agree in naming the gods Daiva, “the shining ones,” it follows that in the primitive mythology, in the religion of the period of unity, they were known already as beings of light and called thus. It is a great deal easier to admit that the seven derived religions have faithfully repeated what has been handed down to them from their common source, than to imagine that once separated they have created the same conception, each one on its side, and have clothed it with the same expression: the former hypothesis is a simple and natural induction: the second is in reality made up of seven hypotheses, and implies seven chances agreeing together, seven miracles.

Our object in the following pages is to give a sketch of one of the chapters of the Aryan mythology. We try to show that the religion of the Indo-European unity recognized a Supreme God, and we try to find the most ancient form and the earliest origin of that conception among the Aryans, and to follow out the transformations it has undergone in the course of ages.

The Supreme God: Zeus, Jupiter, Varuna, Ahura Mazda.

The Aryan Gods are not organized as a Republic: they have a king. There is over the gods a Supreme God. [Pg 276]

Four of the Aryan mythologies have preserved a clear and precise notion of this conception: they are those of Greece, of Italy, of ancient India, and of ancient Persia. This Supreme God is called Zeus in Greece, Jupiter in Italy, Varuna in ancient India, Ahura Mazda in ancient Persia. Let us then listen to Zeus, to Jupiter, to Varuna, and to Ahura Mazda each in his turn.

Zeus and Jupiter.[39]—About three centuries before our era a Greek poet thus addressed Zeus:—

“Oh! Thou most glorious of immortals, whose names are many, for ever Almighty, Zeus, Thou who rulest nature, directing all things according to a law, hail! To Thee all this universe moving round the earth yields obedience, following whither thou leadest, and submits itself to Thy rule.... So great in Thy nature, King Supreme above all things, no work is achieved without Thee, neither on the earth, nor in the celestial regions of ether, nor on the sea, but those which the wicked accomplish in their folly.”

This is the Zeus of the philosophers, of the Stoics, of Cleanthes: but he was already the Zeus of the ancient poets. Powerful, omniscient, and just is the god of Æschylus, as that of Cleanthes: he is the king of kings, the blessed of the blessed, the sovereign power among all powers, the only one who is free among the gods, who is the master of the mightiest, who is subservient to no one’s rule; above whom no one sits, no one to whom from below he looks with awe; every word of his is absolute; he is the God of deep thoughts, whose heart has dark and hidden ways, impenetrable to the eye, and no scheme formed within his mind has ever miscarried. Finally, he is the Father of Justice, Dike, “the terrible virgin who breathes out on crime anger and death,” it is he who from hell raises vengeance with its slow chastisement against the bold wayward mortal. Terpander proclaims in Zeus the essence of all things, the god who rules over everything. Archilochus sings Zeus father, as the God who rules the heavens, who watches the guilty and unjust actions of men, who administers chastisements to monsters, the God who created heaven and earth. The old man of Ascra knows that Zeus is the father of gods and of men, that his eye sees and comprehends all things and reaches all that he wishes. In short, as far back as the Greek Pantheon appears in the light of history, even from Homer, Zeus towers above the nation of gods which surrounds him. He himself proclaims, and the other gods proclaim after him, that, unrivalled in power and strength, he is the greatest of all; the gods, at his behest, silently bow down before him; he would hurl into the gloomy depths of Tartarus whomsoever should dare to disobey him: he would hurl him down into the uttermost depths of the subterranean abyss: alone against them all, he would master them. Should they let fall from the sky a golden chain on which all the gods and goddesses might be suspended, they still would be powerless, however hard they might strain to drag him from the heavens to the earth; and if it pleased him, he could draw them up even with the earth, even with the sea, [Pg 277] and he would then fix the chain on the ridge of Olympus, and suspend on it the whole universe; so much is he above mankind, above the gods. Not only is he the most powerful, but also he is the wisest—the μητιέτης; he is all wisdom and he is likewise all justice. It is from him that the judges of the sons of the Achæans have received their laws: very good, very great, he holds learned conversations with Themis (the law) who sits at his side; prayers are his daughters, whom he avenges for all the insults of the wicked.

Thus, power, wisdom, justice, belonged from all time to Zeus, to the Zeus of Homer as well as to the Zeus of Cleanthes; to the Zeus of the poets as to him of the philosophers, in the remotest period of paganism as at the approach of the religion of Christ. A providential god rules the Pantheon of the Hellenes.

What Zeus is in Greece, Jupiter is in Italy: the God who is above all the gods. The identity of the two deities is so striking that the ancients themselves, forestalling comparative mythology, recognized it from the very first. He is the God, great and good amongst them all: Jupiter, optimus, maximus.

Varuna.—The most ancient of the religions of India, which the Vedas have made known to us, has also a Zeus, whose name is Varuna.[40]

“Truly admirable for grandeur are the works of Him who has separated the two worlds and fixed their vast extent: of Him who has set in motion the high and sublime firmament, who has spread out the heavens above and the earth beneath.

“These heavens and this earth which reach so far, flowing with milk, so beautiful in form, it is by the law of Varuna that they remain fixed, facing each other, immortal beings with fertile seed.

“This Asura,[41] who is acquainted with all things, has propped up these heavens, he has fixed the boundaries of the earth. He is enthroned above all the worlds, universal king; all the laws of the world are the laws of Varuna.

“In the bottomless abyss the king Varuna has lifted up the summit of the celestial tree.[42] It is the king Varuna who has traced out to the sun the broad path he is to follow: to footless creatures he has given feet so that they may run.

“Those stars, which illumine the night, where were they during the day? Infallible are the laws of Varuna: the moon kindles itself and walks through the night.

“Varuna has traced out paths for the sun: he has thrown forwards the fluctuating torrent of rivers. He has dug out the wide and rapid beds where the waves of the days, let loose, unroll themselves in their order.

“He has put strength into the horse, milk into the cow, intellect into the heart, Agni[43] into the waters, the sun in the sky, soma[44] into the stone.

“The wind is thy breath, O Varuna! which roars in the atmosphere, like the ox in the meadow. Between this earth and the sublime heaven above, all things, O Varuna, are of thy creation.”

There is an order in nature, there is a law, a habit, a rule, a Rita. [Pg 278] This law, this Rita, it is Varuna who has established it. He is the god of the Rita, the god of Order, the guardian of the Rita; he is the god of efficient and stable laws; in him rest as in a rock the fixed immovable laws.

Organizer of the world, he is its master. He is the first of the Asuras, “of the lords;” he is the Asura, “the Lord;” he is the sovereign of the whole world, the king of all beings, the universal king, the independent king; no one amongst the gods dares to infringe his laws; “it is thou, Varuna, who art the king of all.”

As he has omnipotence, he has omniscience too, he is “the Lord who knows all things,” the Asura viçva-vedas. He is the sage who has supreme wisdom, in whom all sciences have their centre; when the poet wishes to praise the learning of a god, he compares it to that of Varuna. “He knows the place of the birds which fly in the air, he knows the ships which are sailing on the ocean, he knows the twelve months and what they will bring forth, he knows every creature that is born. He knows the path of the sublime wind in the heights, he knows who sits at the sacrifice. The God of stable laws, Varuna, has taken his place in his palace to be the universal king, the god with the wondrous intellect. Hence, following in his mind all these marvels, he looks around him at what has happened and what will happen.”

As he is the universal witness, he is also the universal judge, the infallible judge whom nothing escapes: none can deceive him, and from above he sees the evil done below and strikes it: he has sevenfold bands to clasp thrice round the liar by the upper, by the middle, and by the lower part of the body. The man, smitten by misfortune, implores his pity, and feels that he has sinned, and that the hand which strikes is also the hand that punishes:

“I ask Thee, O Varuna, because I wish to know my fault:

“I come to Thee, to question Thee who knowest all things. All the sages, with one voice, said to me, Varuna is angry with thee.

“What great crime have I committed, O Varuna, that thou shouldst want to kill thy friend, thy bard. Tell me, O Lord, O infallible one, and I will then lay my homage at thy feet.

“Free me from the bonds of my crime, do not sever the thread of the prayer that I am weaving, do not deliver me over to the deaths that, at thy dictate, O Asura, strike him who has committed a crime: send me not into the gloomy regions far from the light.

“Let me pay the penalty of my faults; but let me not suffer, O King, for the crime of others; there are so many days that have not dawned yet! Let them dawn for us also, O Varuna!”

Such is the supreme God of the Vedic religion, an organizing God, almighty, omniscient, and moral. The following is a Vedic hymn which sums up with singular force the essential attributes of the God:—

“He who from on high rules this world sees every thing as if it were before him. That which two men, seated side by side are plotting, is heard by king Varuna, himself the third. [Pg 279]

“This earth belongs to the king Varuna, and this sky, these two sublime worlds with their remote limits; the two seas[45] are the belly of Varuna, and he rests also even in this small pool of water.

“He who should leap over the sky and beyond it, would not escape the king Varuna: he has his spies, the spies of the heavens, who go through the world; he has his thousand eyes which look on the earth.

“The king Varuna sees everything, all that which is between the two worlds and beyond them: he reckons the winking of the eye of all creatures:

“The world is in his hand like the dice in the hand of the gamester.

“Let thy sevenfold bands, O Varuna, let thy bands of wrath which are thrice linked together, let them enfold the man with a lying tongue, let them leave free the man with a truthful tongue!”

Ahura Mazda.[46]—Ancient Persia opposes to Zeus, to Jupiter, to Varuna, her Ormazd or Ahura Mazda.[47] “It is through me,” he said to his prophet, Zoroaster, “that the firmament, with its distant boundaries, hewn from the sparkling ruby, subsists without pillars to rest upon; it is through me that the earth, through me that the sun, the moon, and the stars take their radiant course through the atmosphere; it was I who formed the seeds in such a manner that, when sown in the earth, they should grow, spring up, and appear on the surface; it was I who traced their veins in every species of plants, who in all beings put the fire of life which does not consume them; it is I who in the maternal womb produce the new-born child, who form the limbs, the skin, the nails, the blood, the feet, the ears; it was I who gave the water feet to run; it was I who made the clouds, which carry the water to the world,” &c. This development, taken from a recent book of the Ghebers, the Bundahish, is to be found entire, in the very first words of their oldest and holiest book, the Avesta: “I proclaim and worship Ahura Mazda, the Creator.” As far as history can be traced, he was already what he is now. Near the ruins of the ancient Ecbatana, the traveller may read, on the red granite of the mountain of Alvand, these words, which were engraved by the hand of Darius, the king of kings, nearly five centuries before the birth of Christ:—

“A powerful God is Aurâmazda!
’Twas he who made this earth here below!
’Twas he who made that heaven above!
’Twas he who made man!”

This God, who made the world, rules it. He is the sovereign of the universe, the Ahura,[48] “the Lord.” “He is a powerful god,” exclaims Xerxes; “he is the greatest of all the gods.” It is to his favour that Darius, inscribing upon the rock of Behistun the narrative of his nineteen victories, ascribes both his elevation and his triumphs. It is to his supreme care that he confides Persia: “This country of Persia, which Aurâmazda has given me, this beautiful country, beautiful in horses, beautiful in men, by the grace of Aurâmazda, and through [Pg 280] me, king Darayavus, has nothing to fear from any enemy. May Aurâmazda and the gods of the nation bring me their help! May Aurâmazda protect this country from hostile armies, from barrenness and evil! May this country never be invaded by the stranger, nor by hostile armies, nor by barrenness, nor by evil! This is the favour which I implore from Aurâmazda and the gods of the nation!”

This world which he has organized is a work of intelligence; by his wisdom it began, and by his wisdom it will end. He is the mind which knows all things, and it is to him that the sage appeals in order to penetrate the mysteries of the world.

“Reveal to me the truth, O Ahura! What was the beginning of the good creation?

“Who is the father, who, at the beginning of time, begat Order?

“Who has traced for the sun and the stars the paths that they must follow?

“Who makes the moon increase and decrease?

“O Ahura! I would learn those mysteries and many more!

“Who has fixed the earth and the immovable stars to establish them firmly, so that they might not fall? Who has fixed the waters and the trees?

“Who has directed the rapid course of the wind and of the clouds? What skilful artist has made the light and the darkness?

“What skilful workman has made sleep and wakefulness? Through whom have we dawn, noon, and night? From whom do they learn the law which is traced out for them? Who endeared the son to his father so that he should train him? Those are the things that I wish to ask Thee, O Mazda, O beneficent Spirit, O Creator of all things!”

In his omniscience are embraced all human actions. He watches over all things, and is far-seeing, and never sleeping. He is the infallible one; “it is impossible to deceive him, the Ahura, who knows all things.” He sees man, and judges and chastises him, if he has not followed his law, for from him comes the law of man, as well as the law of the world; from him comes the science supreme among all other sciences, that of duty, the knowledge of those things we ought to think, say, and do, and of those things we ought neither to think, nor say, nor do. To the man who has prayed well, thought, spoken, and acted well, he opens his resplendent paradise; he opens hell to him who has not prayed and who has thought, spoken, and done evil.

The Supreme God, the God of Heaven.

Thus the Aryans of Greece, of Italy, of India, and of Persia agree in giving the highest place in their Pantheon to a supreme God who rules the world and who has founded order, a God sovereign, omniscient, and moral. Has this identical conception been formed in each of these cases by four independent creations, or is it a common inheritance from the Indo-European religion, and did the Aryan ancestors of the Greeks, of the Latins, of the Hindoos, and of the Persians already know a supreme God, an organizing, a sovereign, an omniscient, a moral God?

Although the latter hypothesis is more simple and more probable than the former, it cannot, however, be taken at once as certain; [Pg 281] because an abstract and logical conception of this kind may very well have developed itself at the same time among several nations, in an identical and independent manner. To whomsoever looks upon it at any time and in any place, the world can reveal the existence of a Supreme maker: Socrates is not the disciple of the psalmist; yet the heavens reveal to him, as to the Hebrew poet, the glory of the Lord. But if it be found that the abstract conception is closely connected with a naturalistic and material conception, and that the latter is identical in the four religions, as it is known, on the other hand, that these four religions have a common past, the hypothesis that this abstract conception is a heritage of this past, and not a creation of the present, may rise to a certainty.

Now, these Gods who organize the world, rule it and watch over it; this Zeus, this Jupiter, this Varuna, this Ahura Mazda are not the personifications of a simple abstract conception; they emerge from a former naturalism, from which they are not yet quite detached; they commenced by being gods of the heavens.

Zeus and Jupiter have never ceased to be gods of the heavens, and to be conscious of it. When the world was shared among the gods, “Zeus received the boundless sky in the ether and the clouds for his share.” It is as the God of heaven that sometimes he shines luminous, calm, and pure, enthroned in the ethereal splendour, and that sometimes he becomes gloomy and gathers clouds (νεφεληγερέτης), causing the rain to fall from heaven (ὄμβριος, ὑέτιος), hurling upon the earth the eddy of fierce winds, drawing forth the hurricane from the summit of the ether, brandishing the lightning and the thunderbolt (κεραύνιος, ἀστραπαῖος). This is why the thunderbolt is his weapon, his attribute, “the thunderbolt with its never-tiring foot,” which he hurls in the heights; why he rolls on a resounding chariot, brandishing in his hand the fiery trident, or dashing it on the wings of the eagle, or on Pegasus, the aërial steed of the lightning. This is why he is the husband of Dêmêter, “the mother Earth,” whom he impregnates with his torrents of rain; this is why he sent forth, from his brow according to some, from his belly according to others, from the clouds according to the Cretan legend, Athênê, the resplendent goddess with the penetrating glance, who came forth, shaking golden weapons, with a cry which made heaven and earth resound, as she is the incarnation of the stormy light which breaks forth from the brow of heaven, from the belly of heaven, from the bosom of the cloud, filling space with its splendour and with the crash of its stormy birth. Lastly, the very name of Zeus (genitive Dios, formerly Divos) is, in conformity with the laws of Greek phonetics, the literal representative of the Sanscrit Dyaus, heaven (genitive Divas), and the union of Ζεὺς πατήρ with Δημήτηρ is the exact counterpart of the Vedic union of Dyaus pitar with Prithivî mâtar, of the Heaven-Father with Earth-Mother. The word Ζεύς is an ancient synonym of Οὐρανός, which became obsolete as a common noun; still, in a certain number of [Pg 282] expressions, it retains something of its former meaning. Thus it is, when the Earth prays Zeus to let rain fall upon her; when the Athenian in praying exclaims: “O dear Zeus, rain thou on the field of the Athenians and on the plains”—“Zeus has rained the whole night,” says Homer: ὕε Ζεὺς πάννυχος. In all these expressions Zeus may be literally translated as a common noun, sky.

Jupiter, identical with Zeus in his functions, is identical with him in his material attributes.

The word Jûpiter, or better Jup-piter, is for Jus-piter, composed of pater and of Jus, the Latin contraction of the Sanscrit Dyaus, of the Greek Ζεύς: Juppiter is then the exact equivalent of Ζεὺς πατήρ, and the word has even preserved more strongly than Zeus the sense of its early meaning; sub Jove signifies “under the heavens;” the hunter awaits the marsian boar, heedless of the cold or snow, sub Jove frigido, “under the cold Jupiter, under the cold sky.” Dyaus is also in Latin, as it is in Sanscrit, the name of the brilliant sky: “Behold,” exclaims old Ennius, “above thy head this luminous space which all invoke under the name of Jupiter:”

“Aspice hoc sublime candens quem invocant omnes Jovem.”

Varuna, like his European brethren, has been, and is yet, a material god, and a material god of the same kind, a god of heaven. This is why the sun is his eye, why the sun, “the beautiful bird which flies in the firmament,” is “his golden-winged messenger;”[49] why the celestial rivers flow in the hollow of his mouth, as in the hollow of a reed; why everywhere visible, by turns full of light and of darkness, by turns he infolds himself in the night, and irradiates the dawns, and by turns clothes himself in the white garments and in the black ones. Like Zeus, and from the same cause, he gathers together the clouds, he turns the sack that contains the rains, and lets it loose upside down on the two worlds; he inundates the heaven and the earth, he clothes the mountains with a watery garb, and his blood-red eyes unceasingly furrow the watery dwelling with their twinkling flashes. As Zeus is the father of Athênê, he is the father of Atharvan, “the Fire-God,” of Bhrigu, “the Thunderer”—that is to say, of Agni, of the lightning. Agni himself is brought forth “from his belly in the waters,” like a male Athênê. Finally, like Zeus, like Jupiter, he bears in his very name the expression of what he is; and the Sanscrit Varuna is the exact phonetic representative of Οὐρανός, sky.

In fine, the sovereign god of Persia, notwithstanding the character of profound abstraction which he has acquired and which is reflected in his name Ahura Mazda, “the omniscient Lord,” can himself be recognized as a god of the heavens. The ancient formulæ of the litanies still show that he is luminous and corporeal; they invoke the creator Ahura Mazda, resplendent, very great, very beautiful, corporeally beautiful; [Pg 283] white, luminous, seen from afar; they invoke the entire body of Ahura Mazda, the body of Ahura which is the greatest of bodies; they say that the sun is his eye, and that the sky is the garment embroidered with stars with which he arrays himself; lastly, the most abstract of the Aryan gods has preserved a trait which shows him more closely tied than the others to the material world from which they have freed themselves; he is called “the most solid of the gods,” because “he has for clothing the very solid stone of the sky.” Like Varuna, like Zeus, the lightning is in his hands, “the molten brass which he causes to flow down on the two worlds;” like them he is the father of the god of lightning, Atar. Lastly, the most ancient historical evidence confirms the inductions of mythology, as at the very time when the Achæmenian kings proclaim the sovereignty of Aurâmazda, Herodotus wrote: “The Persians offer up sacrifices to Zeus,[50] going up on the highest summit of the mountains, as they call Zeus the entire orb of the sky.”

Thus the supreme gods of the four great religions of Greece, of Italy, of India, and of Persia, are at the same time, or have begun by being gods of the skies. By the side of these four, Svarogu, the god of the ancient pagan Slavs, should no doubt equally be placed. Like Zeus, like Jupiter, like Varuna, like Ahura Mazda, he is the master of the universe, the gods are his children, and it is from him that they have received their functions; like them he is the god of the heavens, he is the thunderer, and like them he is the father of the Fire, Svarojitchi, “the son of heaven.”[51]

His Origin.[52]

How did the god of the heavens become the organizing god, the supreme God, the moral God? How was the abstract conception grafted on the naturalistic conception? What is the connection between his material attribute and his abstract function? The Vedas give the solution of this problem.

As far as the eye can reach, it can never reach beyond the sky; whatever is, is under the immense vault; all that which is born and dies, is born and dies within its bounds. Now, whatever takes place in it, takes place according to an immutable law. The dawn has never failed to appear at her appointed place in the morning, never forgotten where she is to appear again, nor the moment at which she is to reanimate the world. Darkness and light know their appointed hour, and always at the desired moment “the black One has given way to the white.” Linked together by the same chain in the endless path open before them, they follow their way onwards, the two immortals, directed by a God, absorbing each other’s tints. The two fertile sisters do not clash with one another; they never stop, dissimilar in form, but alike in spirit. Thus run the days with their suns, the nights with [Pg 284] their stars, season following season. The sky has always in regular course ushered in by turn the day and the night. The moon has always lit up at the fixed hour. The stars have always known where they should go during the day. The rivers have always flowed into the one ocean without making it full.

This universal order is either the motion of the heavens, or it is the action of the God of heaven, according as we think of the body or the soul, and view in the heavens the thing or the God. Thus, in the Rig-Veda, to say “everything is in Varuna”—that is, “in the heavens”—and to say “everything is through Varuna”—that is, “through the heaven-God”—are one and the same thing; and in these formulæ of the Veda, so clear in their uncertainty, theism is ever found side by side with unconscious pantheism, of which it is only an expression. “The three heavens and the three earths rest in Varuna,” says a poet, and immediately afterwards, giving personality to his God: “It is the skilful king Varuna who makes this golden disc shine in heaven.” The wind which whistles in the atmosphere is his breath, and all that exists from one world to the other was created by him. “From the king Varuna come this earth below, and yonder heaven, too, these two worlds with remote limits; the two seas are the belly of Varuna, and he rests also even in the small pool of water.”

This pantheistic theism, which makes no clear distinction between the God of heaven and the universe over which he rules, or which is comprised in him, penetrates Jupiter as well as Varuna. The Latin poets offer the equivalent of the vacillating formulæ of Vedism. “The mortals,” says Lucretius, explaining the origin of the idea of God, “the mortals saw the regular motions of the heavens and the various seasons of the year succeed each other in a fixed order, without being able to discover the causes. They had, therefore, no other alternative than to attribute all to the gods, who made everything go according to their will, and it was in the sky that they placed the seat and domain of the gods, because it is there that may be seen revolve the night and the noon, the day and the gloomy planets of the night; the nocturnal lights wandering in the sky, and the flying flames, the clouds, the sun, the rain, the snow, the winds, the thunderbolts, the hail, the sudden convulsions, and the great threatening rumblings.”[53]

This view of the heavens as the universal centre of the movements [Pg 285] of Nature might just as well have led to pantheism as to theism. The line of the poet: “Juppiter est quodcunque vides, quocunque moveris”—“Jupiter is everything that thou seest, everywhere that thou movest”—does not refer only to the Jupiter of the metaphysicians of the Porch; it also expresses one of the aspects of the Jupiter of primitive mythology. It was not by a deviation from his earlier nature that Zeus was confounded with Pan; he was Pan by birth; and if the epopee and the drama show us only a personal Zeus, it is because by their very nature they could and should see him only under this aspect, and had nothing to obtain from the impersonal Zeus, although in this form he was as old as in the other. And the Orphic theologian is not quite unfaithful to the earlier tradition of religion, when he sings of the universal Zeus:—

“Zeus was the first, Zeus is the last, Zeus the thunderer;
Zeus is the head, Zeus is the middle; it is by Zeus that all things are made;
Zeus is the male, Zeus is the immortal female;
Zeus is the base of both the earth and the starry sky;
Zeus is the breath of the winds, Zeus is the jet of the unconquerable flame;
Zeus is the root of the sea, Zeus is the sun and the moon....
The whole of this universe is stretched out within the great body of Zeus.”

In the same manner, although Persia has in general preserved the personality of her Supreme god, yet she suffers him, especially in the sects, to become confounded with the Infinity of matter through which he first revealed himself to the mind of his worshippers. After having invoked the heavens as the body of Ahura Mazda, the most beautiful of bodies, she placed above Ahura himself, and before him, the luminous space, where he manifests himself, what the theologians called “the Infinite light,” and then by a new and higher abstraction declared Space[54] to have been at the beginning of the world. Between this wholly metaphysical principle and the naturalistic principle of the primitive religion, there is only the distance of two abstractions: Space is only the bare form of the luminous Infinite, and the luminous Infinite, again, is an abstraction from the Infinite and luminous sky, which was identical with Ahura.

Thus, accordingly as the heavens were considered as the seat or as the cause of things, the god of the heavens became the matter of the world or the demiurge of the world. From the period of Aryan unity, he was without doubt the one and the other in turn; but it is probable that the theistic conception was more clearly defined than the other, as it is so in the derived mythologies; it has besides deeper roots in the human heart and human nature, which in every movement and in every phenomenon sees a Living Cause, a Personality.

This god of the heavens, having organized the world, is all wisdom; he is the skilled artisan who has regulated the motion of the worlds. His wisdom is infinite, for of all those mysteries which man tries in [Pg 286] vain to fathom he has the key, he is the author. But it is not only as the Creator of the world that he is omniscient: he knows all things, because, being all light, he sees all things. In the naturalistic psychology of the Aryans, to see and to know, light and knowledge, eye and thought, are synonymous terms. With the Hindoos, Varuna is omniscient because he is the Infinite light; because the sun is his eye; because from the height of his palace with its pillars of red brass, his white looks command the world; because under the golden mantle that covers him, his thousands, his myriads of spies, active and untiring agents, sunbeams during the day, stars during the night, search out for him all that which exists from one world to the other, with eyes that never sleep, never blink. And in the same way, if Zeus is the all-seeing, the πανόπτης, it is because his eye is the sun, this universal witness, the infallible spy of both gods and men (Θεῶν σκοπὸν ἠδὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν). The light knows the truth, it is all truth; truth is the great virtue which the god of heaven claims; and lying is the great crime which he punishes. In Homer, the Greek taking an oath, raises his eyes towards the expanse of heaven and calls Zeus and the sun to witness; in Persia, the god of heaven resembles in body the light, and in soul the truth: Aryan morality came down from heaven in a ray of light.

His Destiny.

Thus, the Indo-European religion knew a supreme God, and this God was the God of the heavens. He has organized the world and rules it, because, as he is the heaven, all is in him, and all passes within him, according to his law; he is omniscient and moral, because, being luminous, he sees all things and all hearts.

This God was named by the various names of the sky—Dyaus, Varana, Svar, which, according to the requirements of the thought, described either the object or the person, the heavens or the God. Later on, each language made a choice, and fixed the proper name of the God on one of these words; by which its ancient value as a common noun was lost or rendered doubtful: thus, in Greek Dyaus became the name of the heaven-god (Zeus) and Varana (Οὐρανός) was the name of the heavens, as a thing; in Sanscrit Dyaus or Svar was the material heavens; the heaven-god was Varana (later changed into Varuna); the Slavs fixed on the word Svar, by means of a derivative, Svarogu, the idea of the celestial god; the Romans made the same choice as the Greeks with their Jup-piter, and set aside the other names of the heavens; lastly, Persia described the god by one of his abstract epithets, the Lord, Ahura, and obliterated the external traces of his former naturalistic character.

This god, who reigned at the time of the breaking up of the religion of Aryan unity, was carried away, with the various religions which sprang up from it, to the various regions where chance brought the Aryan migrations. Of the five religions over which he ruled, three [Pg 287] remained faithful to him to the last, and only forsook him at the moment when they themselves perished;—they are those of the Greeks, of the Romans, and of the Slavs, with whom Zeus, Juppiter, and Svarogu preserved the titles and attributes of the Supreme god of the Aryans, as long as the national religion lasted. They succumbed to Christ; “Heaven-father” gave way to the “Father who is in Heaven.”

India, on the contrary, very soon forgot that god for whose origin and formation, however, she accounts much better than any other Aryan religion does; and it was not a foreign god who dethroned him—a god from without—but a native god, a god of his own family, Indra, the hero of the tempest.

In fact, the supreme god of the Aryans was not a god of unity; the Asura, the Lord, was not the Lord in the same sense as Adonai. There were by the side of him, within himself, a number of gods, acting of their own accord, and often of independent origin. The wind, the rain, the thunder; the fire under its three forms—the sun in the heavens, the lightning in the cloud, the terrestrial fire on the altar; the prayer under its two forms—the human prayer, which ascends from the altar to heaven, and the heavenly prayer, which resounds in the din of the storm, on the lips of a divine priest, and descends from the heights with the torrents of libations poured from the cup of heaven, all the forces of nature, both concrete and abstract, appealing at once to the eye and to the imagination of man, were instantly deified. If the god of the heavens, greater in time and space, always present and everywhere present, easily rose to the supreme rank, carried there by his double Infinity, yet others, with a less continuous, but more dramatic action, revealing themselves by sudden, unexpected events, maintained their ancient independence, and religious development might lead to their usurping the power of the king of the heavens. Already during the middle of the Vedic period, Indra, the noisy god of the storm, ascends the summit of the Pantheon, and eclipses his majestic rival by the din of his resounding splendour.

He is the favourite hero of the Vedic Rishis; they do not tire of telling how he strikes with his bolt the serpent of the cloud, which enfolds the light and the waters; how he shatters the cavern of Cambara, how he delivers the captive Auroras and cows, who will shed torrents of light and milk on the earth. It is he who makes the sun come out again; it is he who makes the world, annihilated during the night, reappear; it is he who recreates it, he who creates it. In a whole series of hymns he ascends to the side of Varuna, and shares the empire with him; at last he mounts above him, and becomes the Universal King:—

“He, who, as soon as he was born, a god of thought, has surpassed the gods by the power of his intellect, he whose trembling made the two worlds quake by the power of his strength—O man, it is Indra! [Pg 288]

“He, who has firmly established the tottering earth and arrested the quivering mountains; he who has fixed the extent of the wide-stretching atmosphere, and who has propped up the sky,—O man, it is Indra!

“He, who, after slaying the serpent, unpenned the seven rivers; who brought forth the cows from their hiding-place in the cavern; he, who, by the clashing of the two stones, has engendered Agni,—O man, it is Indra!

“He, who made all these great things; he, who struck down the demon race, driving it to concealment; he, who, like a fortunate gamester who wins at play, carries off the wealth of the impious,—O man, it is Indra!

“He, who gives life to both rich and poor, and to the priest his singer who implores him; the god with beautiful lips; the protecting god who brings the stones together to press out the soma,—O man, it is Indra!

“He, who has in his hands the herds of horses and cows, the cities and the chariots of war; he, who has created the Sun and the dawn; he, who rules the waters,—O man, it is Indra!

“He, who is invoked by the two contending armies, by the enemies facing each other, either triumphant or beaten; he, whom, when they meet in the struggle on the same chariot, during the onslaught, they invoke against each other,—O man, it is Indra!

“He, who discovered Çambara in the mountains where he had been hidden forty years; he, who killed the serpent in his full strength, who struck him dead on the body of Dânu,[55]—O man, it is Indra!

“Heaven and earth bow down before him; when he shakes, the mountains tremble; the drinker of soma, look at him! bearing the bolt in his arm, the bolt in his hand,—O man, it is Indra!”

But the usurper does not enjoy his triumph long; in the heat of his victory he is already stung to the heart, mortally wounded by a new and mystic power which is growing at his side, the power of prayer, of sacrifice, of worship, of Brahma, whose reign begins to dawn towards the end of the Vedic period, and which is still in existence.

What Indra did in India during an historical period, Perkun and Odin did in a pre-historical period, the one among the Lithuanians, the other among the Germans. Perkun and Odin are the Indras of these two nations, and have each dethroned the god of the heavens. Perkun was the god of the thunder with the Lithuanian pagans, and one can recognize in him a twin brother of the Hindoo Parjanya, one of the forms of the god of the storm in Vedic mythology. This king of the Lithuanian Pantheon is a king of recent date; what proves it is that the Slavs, so closely related to the Lithuanians in their beliefs, as well as in their language, and who also knew the god Perkun, have still as their Supreme god the Supreme god of the ancient Aryan religion, the god of the heavens, Svarogu.

The same revolution took place in Germany, but in a more remote period. The god of the heavens has vanished; he is replaced by the god of the stormy atmosphere, Odin, or Wuotan, the Vâta of India, the warrior god who is heard in the din of the tempest, leading his dishevelled bands of warriors, or letting loose on a celestial quarry the howling packs of the wild chase.

Thus did the Greeks, the Romans, and the Slavs allow their god to be [Pg 289] vanquished by a foreign god; the Germans, the Lithuanians, and the Hindoos themselves forsook him for an inferior creation. Only in one single nation he finds worshippers faithful to the last. They are not numerous, but they have not allowed their belief to be encroached upon either by time or by man. We mean the few thousands of Ghebers or Parsis, who, during the great political and religious shipwreck of Persia, fleeing before the victorious sword of the Prophet, kept from Islam the treasure of their old belief, and who to this day, in the year 1879 of the Christian era, in the fire temples in Bombay, offer up sacrifices to the very same god who was sung by the unknown ancestors of the Aryan race at a time which eludes the grasp of history.

James Darmesteter.


[38] Cf. Max Müller: “Lectures on the Science of Language,” and “Lectures on the Science of Religion;” Michel Bréal, “Mélanges de Mythologie et de Linguistique.”

[39] Maury, “Histoire des Religions de la Grèce;” Preller, “Griechische Mythologie.”

[40] See Muir, “Sanscrit Texts,” v. 58; Max Müller, “Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion,” p. 284.

[41] “This Lord.”

[42] The cloud often compared to a tree branching out in the sky.

[43] The fire (Ignis) which is born in the waters of heaven in the form of lightning.

[44] A sacred plant whose sap is offered to the gods. It is pressed between two stones to extract the sacred liquor.

[45] The sea of the earth and the sea of the clouds.

[46] See J. Darmesteter, “Ormazd et Ahriman,” §§ 18-59.

[47] Ormazd is the modern name, contracted from the ancient Ahura Mazda.

[48] Which is the same word as the Sanskrit Asura.

[49] The sun is also the bird of Zeus (Æschylus, the Suppliants).

[50] That is to say “to their Supreme God.”

[51] G. Klek, “Einleitung in die Slavische Literatur-Geschichte.”

[52] “Ormazd et Ahriman,” §§ 62, sq.


Praeterea, coeli rationes ordine certo
Et varia annorum cernebant tempora vorti;
Nec poterant quibus id fieret cognoscere causis.
Ergo perfugium sibi habebant omnia Diveis
Tradere, et ollorum nutu facere omnia flecti.
In cœloque Deum sedes et templa locarunt,
Per cœlum volvi quia nox et luna videtur,
Luna, dies, et nox et noctis signa severa,
Noctivagaeque faces cœli, flammaeque volantes,
Nubila, sol, imbres, nix, ventei, fulmina, grando,
Et rapidei fremitus, et murmura magna minarum.—v. 1187.

[54] In other systems, having regard to the eternity of the God and no longer to his immensity, boundless Time became the first principle (Zarvan Akarana).

[55] His mother.

[Pg 290]


The elaborate schemes which have been propounded in attempts to solve the much-vexed riddle how best and most effectually to ameliorate the condition of the working-classes—such as Owenism, Fourierism, and such like—have had their inception in the minds of philanthropists outside and above our circle. They have been conceived for the most part with a genuine feeling of the immense importance of this, the most burning and momentous question of modern days, and illumined in many cases with deep philosophic insight; yet, as it is almost impossible for any but a born proletarian to understand the needs, the wants and the daily lives of the proletarian, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the absence of this special knowledge may have contributed somewhat to the unworkableness of the various systems proposed. Beyond this, however, it strikes me that most of them contained a fatal flaw, inherent in their constitutions. They were too ambitious, aimed at too much, and were altogether of so revolutionary and subversive a character as to alarm the great majority of those whose goodwill must be obtained before it can be possible to reduce any theory to experiment on a sufficiently extended scale to enable an unprejudiced observer to pronounce decisively on the result accomplished.

Were it not that the accident of my having been thrown by birth and association amongst the very poorest of the poor (“but indifferent honest”) community of a large city may enable me to supplement to some extent the ideas enunciated by benevolent theorists belonging to the upper strata of society, I should not have the temerity to seek to pass out of the region of the “eternal silences.” Moreover, I do not announce a new and perfect evangel to be ushered in by loud flourish of trumpets. I aim at nothing more ambitious than to be allowed to [Pg 291] offer a few hints as to the direction which I conceive future gospels of humanity must take in order to be of practical utility.

Having thus endeavoured to justify myself for rushing in where sometimes “angels fear to tread,” I have no intention of apologizing for the crudeness of my ideas, or my lack of grace in literary composition. Taking into consideration the small amount of elementary education drilled into me at a charity school for a brief period of my very juvenile days, and the continued absence of any duly qualified instructor since, “all that goes without saying.”

One more egotistical, or egoistical, remark, and I proceed. I am in no sense a specialist. I am neither a Good Templar nor a Convivial Toper; neither a disciple of Nihilism, nor any other school of advanced thought (so called), nor a bigoted sectarian. I am a private in neither the ranks of bovine Toryism nor of rabid Radicalism; but I write simply as one of that common ruck of ordinary practical working men, which in reality forms the great staple of our plebiscite, although certain very noisy and turbulent minorities may possibly have led to a contrary inference.

In the erection of my little structure, I, like all other architects, require a good foundation as the basis of operations; and in the present case the foundation required is simply a desire on the part of those bipeds who stand erect on pedestals for an increased knowledge of their fellows who crawl and kneel and lie in a thousand and one contorted postures on the miry clay. Enlarged knowledge will bring enlarged sympathy for each other on the part of high and low alike. As matters now stand, those above us never really see us in undress. When they come across us we are either too slavishly sycophantic or too ruggedly independent,—both being masks donned for the occasion,—and not in any sense our natural selves; and I have a dim kind of suspicion that on the few occasions when gentlemen voluntarily come forward and try to make us believe that they are taking us into their confidence—on the hustings, say, for instance—some disguise of the same kind may be adopted, and that the features we then see are not altogether the real ones. If I am right in this assumption, how is it possible for either class to have anything like a competent knowledge of the other? Indeed, I do not think I should be far wrong in saying that the manners and customs of the Fijian Islanders and other aborigines of distant lands are better known generally to the upper ten thousand than those of the lower native millions; and, of course, the converse holds equally good. Domestic servants, perhaps, may be said to form exceptions to this latter rule, seeing that they often have peeps into the innermost arcana; but as they are for the most part—the male portion of them at all events—more utterly inexplicable beings than their masters, the general fund of information is not much increased through that channel. Flunkeydom is much more insufferable and incomprehensible to the general run of us than swelldom itself. [Pg 292]

Granted, however, the desire for a better acquaintance with their humbler brethren on the part of our aristocracy and plutocracy (for this, like all other good things, must descend from above), it will be found that, as a mutual understanding of each other’s peculiarities is increased, the rich man (in this paper, as in an Act of Parliament, words denoting persons of the masculine gender shall be construed as including persons of the feminine gender also) will bestow a little less careful thought and attention on—shall I say partridges?—and more on his fellow-man; and the bitter class-prejudice which undoubtedly exists among the needy against the prosperous and well-fed will gradually die out. Then, and then only, will a new and brighter era dawn on “poor humanity;” and, I may say, that I hold optimist views with reference to this consummation. I think I observe a growing acknowledgment of the claims of humble folk in the literature of the day; and as literature is universally regarded as an outcome of the prevalent tone of feeling, I look upon this as a good omen.

Having worked myself into this happy frame of mind, I am emboldened to request that consideration may be given to a few examples of the ideas which, “in the stillness of the night,” and otherwise, have intruded themselves upon me—ideas embryonic and unformed, I doubt not, but genuine as far as they go. From the multitude of these shadowy phantoms which have now for a long time past oppressed me, I select those which strike me as having special reference to the improvement of our poor populations in four of the salient matters of life—viz., in health, pocket, mind, and amusements; and these I will deal with seriatim.


This, amongst all sublunary blessings, is undoubtedly the one of paramount importance, and, seeing how things now stand with us, it is imperative that it should be the question to receive earliest attention.

I think it is the Rev. Harry Jones who, in one of his warm-hearted essays, liken as rotten, worn-out, filthy habitation to a lump of putrid carrion, exhaling poison all around, and which should be as remorselessly cut out from amongst the dwellings of human beings as a fly-blown spot is cut out from a carcass. This simile, perhaps, is not a very savoury one, but it possesses a much greater merit, that of being absolutely true—slightly vulgar, but astonishingly correct. I could illustrate its verity by many pertinent instances which have come within my own experience, but I feel that this is not the place to do so. What then is the remedy? Obviously to re-enact the present “Artizans’ Dwellings Improvement Act” as a compulsory statute, and not as an optional one. Let the squalid, crazy, tumble-down rookeries which exist in every town in the kingdom be ruthlessly demolished, care, of course, being taken that suitable dwellings are cotemporaneously built on better sanitary principles for those whom it will be necessary to evict in order to carry out such improvements. And I would suggest, [Pg 293] as a branch of the pervading idea which forms the centre and core of my suggestions (of which more anon), that the Municipal Corporations of our cities and towns should be themselves in their official capacity the landlords of such new and improved dwellings, and should employ their own tradesmen to build them. And, furthermore, that in the erection of whatever new cottages may be found necessary for the purpose indicated, the latter-day style of running them up all alike, as uniform as so many squares of glass in a sash, should be abandoned, and a little variety of style, if only in trifling particulars, introduced. Human nature, even the human nature of the uneducated poor, rebels against this painful monotony, and grows intensely weary of over-much regularity, which, if a virtue at all, is one of so starched and rigid a character, that it takes a considerable amount of resolution, and a far higher degree of culture than we can lay claim to, to enable us to fall in love with it. To our uninstructed eyes, diversity of form is much more pleasing than undeviating rectangularity.

Again, the most painstaking care must be taken that these substituted domiciles be properly and thoroughly drained. Unhappily, although this is a truism and a self-evident proposition, it is, through carelessness or indifference, frequently neglected—a fact too sadly attested by the ravages of fever from time to time in our outlying districts, where, twenty years ago, the bricklayer and hodman had not arrived upon the scene. To obviate this it is absolutely necessary that the most skilled science should be employed, and the most searching local legislation strictly enforced, to secure the carrying out of approved sewerage and drainage systems.

Furthermore, I would suggest that no horse or cattle slaughterer, tallow-melter, manure-merchant, tanner, or other person plying any of the trades known as noisome or offensive, should be allowed to continue such trades without a special licence, and that by the terms of such licence they should be prohibited, under heavy penalties, from carrying on their businesses outside the limits of a certain area to be expressly set aside for that purpose, at such a distance from the centre of every town as may be judged desirable by the sanitary authorities. Within this area pig-styes and fowl-houses should be erected, and no swine, ducks, or geese be permitted to be kept outside its boundary. An inspector should be appointed specially for this quarter of the town, who should direct all his energies to seeing that the best principles of ventilation, smoke-consumption, drainage, use of disinfectants, &c. &c., are adopted throughout his domain; and all ill-conditioned recusants against the decrees of the local senate should be mulcted in heavy damages. On the part of the senate itself there must be no apathy, no supineness, no dilettanteism, but a stern, vigorous determination stringently and impartially to enforce prompt obedience to its edicts.

No doubt this would be somewhat of a hardship upon certain individuals, on the score of inconvenience and increased cost of production; [Pg 294] but I doubt not they would take care to indemnify themselves. Even were it otherwise, however, the aggregate gain in so important a matter as the public health must swamp all minor considerations. Private interests must inevitably be sacrificed in the advancement of the general weal. All the Mrs. Partingtons that ever existed, with all their mops (whether such mops are called monopolies, vested rights, or what not), must perforce recede before the rising tide of the ocean of civilization.

Having well drained our streets and habitations, and consecrated a quartier for the purposes last mentioned, the next step must be to increase the number of our iron hospitals; and, disregarding sentimentality, immediately to isolate and put in quarantine all persons suffering from infectious diseases. Firmly grasp this nettle the moment it crops up, and without a shadow of doubt you will reduce to a minimum the high rate of mortality at present existing in our overcrowded cities through a total neglect of proper precaution. All textile fabrics, bedding, books, &c., which have come in contact with the patient, to be consumed by fire. Even Vandalism is excusable, nay, commendable, in certain circumstances.

Finally, on this branch of the subject, I submit for the consideration of municipalities the following recommendations:—

1. Preserve or procure open spaces, sufficient to form recreation grounds for your communities—say an acre for every thousand inhabitants. Regard this to be quite as imperative a necessity as the acquisition of further land to add to the cemeteries in which you inter the bodies of those who have “gone over to the majority.” Let the quick share your care and attention on equal terms with the dead in the matter of requisite space and accommodation.

2. Cause your common lodging-houses and your still worse haunts to be under the most vigilant supervision; and that constantly, and not fitfully and spasmodically. The more severe and restrictive your regulations are with reference to these matters the better it will be for all decent, quiet citizens.

3. Provide every householder within your jurisdiction with a filter, to insure to him and his the opportunity of enjoying water free from organic and other impurities.

4. Furnish him also with two boxes, varying in size according to the dimensions of his domicile: one to form a receptacle for dust, cinders, old rags, broken bottles, and what is generically known as “dry dirt;” and the other for decayed vegetables, the entrails of fish, and that kind of refuse that we rather uneuphoniously call “muck.” Such boxes to be taken away once a week and empty ones left in their stead. As a corollary to this, forbid him, under penalties, to continue his present practice of pitching derelicts into the street, as the readiest means of being quit of them; and make him responsible for the cleanliness of his doorsteps and the pavement in front of his dwelling. [Pg 295]

5. Send round carts of chloride of lime, at short intervals during warm or “muggy” weather, and direct a bucketful to be delivered to every housewife, to remove stenches from sinks, water-closets, &c.

6. Erect a furnace in some convenient locality, to serve the same purpose as that known as the “Queen’s tobacco-pipe” at the London Docks does or did—i.e., to reduce to ashes all infected or condemned articles.

The foregoing list of recommendations might be extended indefinitely; but perhaps the above will be sufficient to begin with.

There are, no doubt, two objections at least which may be raised against the adoption of any scheme founded on these hints: first, one on the score of increased expenditure; secondly, one condemning increased centralization. With regard to the former, my answer is that health, especially the health of the aggregate mass of the body politic, cannot possibly be bought too dear; and that nothing really is so costly to any community as pestilence and death. As to the latter, I have no other defence to urge than my firm conviction that, much as it is railed against, centralization is as nearly an unmixed good as it is possible for anything in this sublunary (and marvellously complex) sphere to be. Everybody knows how inadequate the very best isolated efforts are to exterminate any widespread evil; and even organizations which are independent of, and do not radiate from or gravitate to, a common centre, frequently cross each other’s paths, and to some extent defeat each other’s purposes; occasioning a great waste of wholesome energy, which, well directed, might achieve marvellous results. As cosmos is greater than chaos—as a well-spliced rope is stronger than its separate strands—so is centralization and cohesion greater and stronger than individualism and segregation.


Many a vigorous arm has applied the axe to that dense and matted jungle, the indigence of the lower orders; but little more has been accomplished than the blunting of the hatchet and the exhaustion of the pioneer who wielded it.

This being the case, it would be the height of folly for me, with my far feebler frame and my puny weapon, to attempt to do more than to peer cautiously around the deep shades, and try to find out, as a dweller within those murky woods, if here a little path and there a little opening, into which a gleam of sunlight penetrates at times, be not discoverable, half hidden, perchance, by clumps of brushwood, which it will cost but little trouble to clear away. I shall therefore restrict myself to indicating such of these openings as I see, or fancy I see, from whence operations might, according to my notion, be directed towards the demolition of portions at all events of this swart and gloomy forest.

One of the largest of these clearings is undoubtedly, I think, Co-operation, of which there are two kinds—viz., combinations between masters and men in the shape of limited partnerships, a per-centage on [Pg 296] profits, &c.; and combinations amongst the wage-earners themselves for certain specified purposes.

With regard to the first named, I am rather inclined to doubt the probability of its ever becoming an important factor in the sum of human progress, on account of the unlikelihood of its being generally adopted either in the near or distant future, and I am still more sceptical as to its efficacy as a panacea, even if it were universally reduced to practice, especially in these days of commercial disasters.

Coming, then, to the other mode of co-operation—associations of manual workers—this also divides itself into two branches, having two distinct objects—namely, the receipt of higher wages for labour performed, and the obtaining greater value in commodities in the disbursement of such wages. Both these are, no doubt, laudable aspirations; and, although at the first glance they may appear incompatible with, if not altogether antagonistic to, each other,—inasmuch as increased remuneration to the producer means an increase in the price of the thing produced,—yet it will be seen, on mature reflection, that as a very large proportion of operatives are employed in the manufacture of articles of luxury, of which they are not consumers or purchasers, so much of the increase in the price of such articles as finds its way into the pockets of the artificer in the shape of added wages is a net gain to that portion of the labouring classes, and will inevitably exude from such portion to the benefit of the whole, in the same manner as what may be called in contradistinction their normal earnings.

I should like to say one word about combinations of workmen in this place, which may be distasteful to unqualified panegyrists of the system: such combinations should invariably be in accordance with our recognized code of morals, and they must be in obedience to the ordinary laws of Nature; and it is to be feared that these desiderata to perfection in co-operation have at times been lost sight of in the past. I am compelled to blush for my order when I find them seizing the opportunity of their employers being under a heavy time-contract for the execution of important public or other works to organize a strike: this is clearly an infraction of all the ethics of morality. Neither can I appreciate their sense of the fitness of things when I hear them laying it down as a sound axiom that wages should be equalized, so that the stupid, idle, or inferior workman should be on a par with the skilled and industrious one. This is a blunder against one of the most immutable of Nature’s laws—that of variety and infinite gradation; the suggestion implies a yearning after the utterly unattainable, which it is astonishing men of otherwise sound judgment should seriously entertain for one moment. As a comrade of mine pithily observed, not long since, when we were discussing the possibility of devising a scheme by which all men should receive the same amount of remuneration for their labour, and, when received, be enabled to make it go equally far—“You might as well try to make men all o’ one height.” [Pg 297]

Remove these excrescences from our combinations, and when it is found we can be practical as well as earnest, co-operation will have acquired a new vigour, and will be able to accomplish greater results. The main citadel will be none the less impregnable because our forces are not scattered abroad in various directions, in the vain endeavour to strengthen totally indefensible frontiers.

But, after all, it is from the other branch of co-operation—the co-operative store system—that the greatest advantages may be expected to accrue. This is growing into favour yearly, still growing (despite recent diatribes in the newspapers), and is extending its ramifications into quite primitive districts. The knowledge that this is an undoubted fact should afford gratification to the well-wishers of the poor.

Yet this gratification is subject to some modification when it is seen that this, not the least important birth of the nineteenth century, though growing and bearing within itself the germs of almost infinite possibilities, is at present of too tiny dimensions to grapple with that colossal ogre—the wasteful expenditure of the impecunious. It is Hercules indeed, but Hercules still in swaddling clothes before the strangling of the serpent. The amount of dealings at these stores by the class to whom they are calculated to prove the greatest boon, when compared with dealings by this same class with very retail shopkeepers and at other places where the practice of paying “through the nose” (pardon the vulgarity) so extensively prevails, will be found to be almost infinitesimal. The question therefore arises, may it not be possible to replace these pine torches by Edisonian lights, so as to eliminate from wider tracts the thick darkness enwrapping the minds of the sons and daughters of toil as to what constitutes their true interests? It appears to me that there is one way of rendering this feasible, which I deferentially submit for consideration. It may be quite impracticable; and, if practicable, may contain such flaws as to be futile. If so, on defects being pointed out which I am not able, unassisted, to discover, I can only say I am open to conviction. I have no desire to be charged with an ineradicable attachment to that peculiar feat of horsemanship known as “riding a hobby to death.” My plan is simply this: first, let every town of say over 10,000 inhabitants possess an internal government complete in itself, with plenary administrative powers; let groups of villages, in such numbers as may be determined on (the present Poor-Law Union Divisions might be taken as a basis), form cordons round themselves in like manner, and with the like objects; let every care be taken to select the very best men of every social grade to form the local senate, and let the members of which it is composed be paid for their services out of the public (local) funds, be subject to re-election at short intervals, and be required to give good accounts of their stewardship. Further, let it be clearly understood that the only condition on which a man could hope to be enrolled in this representative band, or, being enrolled, [Pg 298] expect to be allowed to continue his official existence, would be his distinct and unquestioning recognition of personal responsibility, as far as is humanly possible, for, and his unwavering resolution to secure, the well-being of all his constituents, physically, pecuniarily, mentally, and morally.

These preliminaries being supposed to be satisfactorily settled, such incorporation or assembly of chosen ones might (always supposing my views happened to find favour in their sight) open as many co-operative stores—so many for each trade—as would be sufficient to supply the needs of the entire community, selecting competent men from each trade to manage the different departments, and paying them by an agreed salary in the same manner as rate collectors and relieving officers are paid. A certain specified per-centage to be added to the prime cost of the various articles to defray the estimated expenses of management, advertising, rent (if necessary, though it would be better if the local legislators were also the landlords), wear and tear, depreciation in stock, and miscellaneous expenses for the year; and sales to be made to the consumer for cash only. The urban or rural chancellor of the exchequer would, in his annual budget, soon learn to adjust the amount of his tax (for so the per-centage may be considered), over and above the original cost price, according to the probable exigencies of the ensuing year, by the light afforded by the transactions of the preceding one.

Seeing how many millions of pounds are annually disbursed for the barest sustenance and most absolute necessaries of life by the poor of the three kingdoms, from most of whom exorbitant rates of profit are wrung,—for the fact need not be expatiated on here that the more indigent the purchaser, and the more his penury drives him to live from hand-to-mouth, the less value he receives for his money, to say nothing of the further irruptions made into his income by the only partially-slain “truck system,” or by the payment of interest to the accommodating successors of the Lombards, whose golden balls proclaim them to serve the honourable office of jackal-purveyors to the lions of the gin-palaces,—seeing this, I say, shall I be stigmatized as a dreamer, a half-crazy Utopian, if I anticipate magnificent results to follow from fair trial of a scheme designed to stem the frightful torrent of improvidence at present obtaining amongst the working classes, and to enable them to occupy the new position of being participators in the benefits of a sound commercial undertaking?

Here, however, as elsewhere, there are tares amongst the wheat—if, indeed, it be wheat. An awkward inquiry obtrudes itself unbidden. What is to become of the thousands of deserving folks, too old for the most part to begin life de novo, who have earned a tolerably honest livelihood as small shopkeepers, and who would probably find themselves, under the system just recommended, “improved off the face of the earth?” Partially the difficulty might be met by the employment of the most active or most experienced of them in the borough stores. A little more might be accomplished in this direction also by giving some [Pg 299] of them appointments to the numerous new offices it will be found necessary to create if our municipal authorities ever do wake up and bestir themselves, and aspire to becoming something more suitable to the spirit of the age than mere assemblies for palaver. But when all this is done, there will still be the residuum, and that residuum composed almost exclusively of the feeble, the aged, the halt, the lame, and the blind, who will be more or less thrown upon their own resources. For these, the only gleam of light I can discern is the fact that a remnant of their old customers will not find out all at once the error of their ways, and will go on in their accustomed grooves for some time after the centralized co-operative store shall have become un fait accompli, and so their decline into pauperism will be slow and gradual. Heaven only knows how some of these small shopkeepers contrive to exist even now by vending pennyworths and halfpennyworths of this, that, and the other; it can only be by imposing extravagant profits on the article vended. One cannot help thinking that their case can hardly very well be worse than it is, in any event. But be this as it may, care for their particular interests must not be permitted to dominate over due consideration for those of the vast aggregate mass forming the rest of our clientèle, innumerable as “leaves in Vallambrosa,”—and, like other and greater folks, superfluous retailers must submit to be sacrificed for the benefit of the common weal.

It is impossible to deal even in the most cursory manner with this “pocket” question without just glancing at the important bearing which the question of temperance must exercise upon it. To place a further spending power in the hands of an incurably intemperate populace would obviously mean only to increase and intensify the vice of intemperance. While deprecating any intention of making this paper the vehicle for a furious tirade against drunkenness, I feel bound to say in passing that, little as I love total abstinence, I regard it as a much lesser evil than the unrestrained indulgence of dipsomania; and if any man feels that he is so much a slave to his degraded appetite that he cannot keep up a nodding acquaintance with John Barleycorn without wallowing under his influence in the mud of inebriety, I respect that man for signing the pledge. My optimist instincts, however, buoy me up again on this subject also, for I sincerely believe that, high authority for the assertion though there be, mankind are not mostly fools; and that when they have begun to realize the fact that they have a choice as to the kind of investment they may obtain for their money, the great majority of them will be looking out for some more substantial advantage than the questionable luxury of seeking temporary oblivion from carking cares and the grisly spectre of hopeless indigence. It may, I think, be relied on with certainty that an improvement in the pecuniary circumstances of the poor would beget increased self-respect, and self-respect would proclaim drunkenness unfashionable, and that now vigorous and lusty giant would ere long find himself as decrepit and [Pg 300] infirm as Bunyan’s Giant Pope. Those of us who have read of the bacchanalian orgies of the great no further back than the days of the Regency of George IV., and contrast it with the sobriety which is said to prevail amongst them in our days, cannot be accused of being groundlessly sanguine if we augur the percolation downwards of this stream of moderation under happier auspices, and that, too, in no remote future.

A third means of lightening the strain upon our ouvriers is to multiply the facilities for emigration. I would even go so far as to say that I think an International Emigration and Immigration League between all the civilized nations of the world, for the purpose of drafting overplus populations into thinly inhabited districts, would be rather a good thing than otherwise, the inconveniences attending differences of language, manners, and so forth, being quite surmountable; whereas the difficulties attendant upon the possession of more hands to labour than there is work to perform, and consequently more hungry stomachs than there is food to fill, is altogether insurmountable. With regard to the affliction of mal du pays, from which undoubtedly many of the expatriated would suffer at intervals, that would be found to be a much more tolerable burden to bear, combined with a sufficiency of victuals and clothing, than the pangs of starvation or semi-starvation even on one’s “native heather.”

But as it is no part of my programme to move too fast, or too far at once, I do not insist upon any international arrangement of the kind I have hinted at during, say, the present decade. I do, however, earnestly entreat all whom it may concern to try their best to place the matter of Emigration on a proper footing. I unhesitatingly maintain that whilst Great Britain possesses untold thousands of acres of virgin soil, and practically unlimited untried possibilities, in her numerous colonies, this our “sea-girt isle” ought not to suffer from a plethora of willing workers. The existing facilities held out to our overcrowded populations to induce them to venture upon “fresh fields and pastures new” might be multiplied a hundred-fold.

Surely it ought to be part of the fundamental policy of a State—especially of a State whose real governing body is elected by household suffrage—to take the most active measures for insuring the weal of all its citizens: the humblest as well as the highest. Does not this, indeed, form the very quintessential attribute of good government? Has it not been rightly said that a State represents the totality of all the individuals composing it? I assume these are sound political axioms; and if I am right in this assumption, may I not suggest, as the most certain way of attaining the desired end, that our Representative Government should formally acknowledge our claims upon them by appointing a Minister for “the Condition of the People,” with a seat in the Cabinet? The next step would be easy, for when once the whole surroundings were fairly brought within the range of vision, the vital importance of Emigration as [Pg 301] a principal means of amelioration would be recognized; and it would be discovered that an able Secretary for Emigration would prove an invaluable auxiliary in the effective working of the department.

It would be necessary, I apprehend, to select for this latter office a man eminent as well for good temper as for a capacious intellect, as the multiplicity of the functions he would have to perform would render such office by no means a sinecure; and the involved and complex matters he would have to deal with might, at times, go far in the direction of ruffling the serenest imperturbability.

The eye of fancy depicts him in the active performance of his multifarious duties, surrounded by numerous painstaking subordinates, some of whom bear to him huge tomes, containing a full alphabetical list (compiled from the census returns and other sources) of the populations, industries, and assessments of the United Kingdom, divided into areas of certain dimensions, showing the age, sex, occupation, and earnings or incomings of every person; the number of houses (with their rentals or estimated yearly value), workshops, or other business establishments of every kind, specifying how many hands are employed in each and the amount of wages paid; and also showing the number of persons in receipt of out-door relief, and approximate number of vagrants in each district. Other attentive satellites open before him the various domesday books, containing reports by competent surveyors as to the quantity, and the latent riches or irredeemable poverty, of uncultivated lands throughout those vast dominions of ours on which the sun never sets; with copious notes by skilled mercantile men and geographers, pointing out the places where commodious ports might be formed, railways constructed, or manufactories erected. Our much-worried Secretary, whose heart is in his work, compares notes, and directs some of his chief clerks to prepare digests of, for instance, the information contained in pp. 420 to 446 of the 17th volume of the first set of books, and pp. 97 to 104 of the 32nd volume of the second set, ready for his consideration on the day but one following. He then takes up similar digests, which have previously been prepared in like manner, and sees clearly that one hundred artisan families of various specified trades, full particulars of which are before him, may, with advantage to all parties, be transplanted, passage free, from the blind alleys of Flintchester to the new settlement of Hornihand in Australasia, with the authorities of which place the usual arrangement will be made to assist them on their début, and lend them a helping hand until they get fairly settled down. Day after day this kind of thing goes on throughout the year, except for some two months during the late summer and autumn vacation, when the hard-worked Secretary and his staff are enjoying a well-earned holiday.

The more I ruminate on this matter of Emigration the more I am convinced that it is indispensable; it should run on wider lines, and cover a far more extended area than is possible under anything short of Governmental intervention. Seeing the utter inutility and inefficacy of isolated [Pg 302] exertions to deal with the mighty problems which our complex civilization presents for solution, I should, on behalf of myself and my class, hail with joy the prospect of State interference in our interests. Sneers may continue to be directed against, and witty sarcasms levelled at, a “Paternal Government,” “infringement of that liberty of the subject which is the inherent privilege and birthright of every Briton,” and other like cuckoo-cries. But meantime we starve; we increase and multiply in obedience to the law of Nature, and our opportunities of earning subsistence do not increase and multiply in a corresponding ratio. And without by any means desiring to steep my pen in midnight blackness in order to portray possible portentous consequences, yet it is a proposition not to be controverted that the ever-increasing preponderance of born toilers over any quantity of remunerative toil which can by any possibility be created within the limits of Great Britain proper must inevitably cause such consequences to be calamitous. For some time past the dark shadow of over-population has been looming on the horizon of “Merrie England,” at first no bigger than a man’s hand, but later advancing nearer and still more near and assuming colossal proportions; and the time cannot be far distant when it will obstinately refuse to be ignored any longer, even by the most unreflective, but will assert itself in a manner little to be desired. How, then, to avert this evil? How to postpone the advent of the fateful day? Are not these queries of vital interest to all ranks of society? I for one feel them to be so: hence the above gropings after gleams of daylight in the midst of the gathering shades. I do not pretend to aver that I have found the sunshine, that I have discovered an absolute cure for all the ills that “flesh is heir to.” Too well I know what mistakes and blunders are interwoven in the best-devised schemes of human origin. Nevertheless, I hold that the free expression and ventilation of opinions, even though they may be erroneous, is often eventually productive of good, by serving to dispel vagueness of thought and loose generalization, and solidifying the abstract into the concrete; until which process has been accomplished no thing soever can be dealt with satisfactorily. Therefore, as a firm disbeliever in the Malthusian philosophy, as also in the recommendations for checking the increase of population more recently scattered broadcast amongst us, and being deeply impressed with the imperative necessity of confronting the difficulty at once—now, in these days when the heavens above us appear to be hardening into brass, and the earth beneath us to be corrugating into iron—I have requested the Editor of this Review to afford me the opportunity of giving publicity to my views.

Closely allied to this division of my paper, if not actually of it, is the subject of Charity. Here, again, what a lamentable waste of vital force, what an invertebrate entity crying aloud to be overhauled, remodelled, jointed, and braced! Contrast the grand sum total yearly given in charity with the paucity of definite results attained—the well-worn [Pg 303] comparison of the Nasmyth hammer and the nut instantaneously recurs to one’s mind. Except when subscriptions are raised for some specific object outside the usual round altogether, how little there is to show for the expenditure! Why is this so? And what is the remedy? Obviously, I opine, the cause is individualism, isolation, caprice,—and as obviously, I ween, the only cure is combination, organization, system. Where we have now hundreds of little benevolent societies, with their honorary secretaries and treasurers and fussy committees, each neutralizing the others, let us have two or three established on a broad basis, with a central committee who, when the “sinews of war” are collected in one focus, will be strong enough to enter on paths at present untrodden, and wise enough to understand that almost innumerable differentiations in the nature of gifts will be necessary to cope successfully with the almost illimitable diversities in the nature of requirements, and who will insist on being invested with discretionary powers in matters of occasional aids and supplemental benevolences. Then it will be no longer possible for the shameless pauper, flaunting his rags and sores in the marketplace, or the whining sycophantic hypocrite, to monopolize the coals of one society, the blankets of a second, the soup of a third, and so on ad infinitum, not seldom exchanged for means of procuring beer to give additional zest to the utterance of the sentiment—“What fools these gentlefolks be.” The most searching inquiries would be instituted, and perchance succour afforded to those to whom it would prove an inestimable boon, but who, from constitutional timidity or mauvaise honte, now starve and drop and die in silence, overlooked by almoners who take the first miserable-looking object who comes to hand, the most self-asserting or the most “’umble,” and straightway pour out the contents of their cornucopias upon shams, making a miserable travesty of the sacred name of Charity.


It is refreshing to know that so far as this branch of the subject is concerned, our governors, having by the force of circumstances been compelled to realize the fact of our existence, and our claim to be considered as veritably part and parcel of the body politic, with rights of common citizenship, have further, within the last few years, by the passing of the Compulsory Education Act, shown themselves possessed of political sagacity, by thus taking steps to insure that our descendants, when their turn comes to exercise and enjoy the civil privileges now granted to them, shall at least have a ploughed and manured soil in which to sow the seeds of love for law and order with some chance of due fructification, instead of the rough, hibbly-hobbly cinder-heap of their forefathers, which acknowledged no fertilizing influence but gross bribery, and partially justified the political ostracism and exclusion of its owners from all share in electoral privileges.

All hail, then, to the School Board system as a great step in the right direction. Undeniably true as are some of the accusations brought [Pg 304] against it, alleging that many blunders and useless extravagances, and much disregard for the susceptibilities of well-meaning but mistaken opponents, have marked its progress onward in too many instances; yet as the general idea is laudable and eminently conducive to promoting the highest interests of the entire population, and as in the nature of things it may be expected that greater experience will bring greater wisdom, and the faults charged against the movement gradually become “small by degrees and beautifully less,” let us heartily wish it God-speed.

Yet, why does the good work stop here? Why should not provision be made for building upon the foundation thus laid? Why should totally unformed intelligences be the only ones to profit by this guardian care, and why should they be led a little way on the road and then left to flounder along by themselves, and lose themselves in interminable mazes? Why, in short, should education be confined to children, and not extended to adults?

It is true that the University Extension Scheme, as now carried out in many of our larger provincial towns to a very, very limited and only faintly appreciable extent, tends to show that the wind is just beginning to blow in this direction also. Something, however, much more comprehensive is needed. The masses are not reached, as will be patent to any one who will take the trouble to attend any of the courses of lectures delivered in connection with this extension system. The neophytes seeking initiation into this or that special branch of learning will be found to be composed principally of what we call “better class” people, with a sprinkling of pupil teachers and sucking governesses.

Nor is this the fault of the masses themselves, as may perhaps be conjectured; the mere circumstance of the prices charged for admission in itself forming an insuperable barrier to the great majority having any part or lot in the matter, to say nothing of the fact that the whole apparatus is professedly set in motion for the benefit of the middle-class public solely.

But however inadequate this minute increase in the volume of the fertilizing waters of Literature and Science may be for the mighty task of irrigating the parched and arid desert which stretches out in measureless extent before us, yet I am fain to regard it as a favourable omen—as a symptomatic indication that the “fountains of the great deeps” of human ignorance are beginning to be broken up, and that the tide is rising which, when it has reached its full height, will disseminate the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge far and wide over the landscape so that the lowly equally with the high-born may pluck and eat thereof. The monster Cerberus has received a buffet on one of its three heads, and the Hesperidean Gardens may ere long, I am sanguine enough to hope, be entered by any thirsty passer-by without fear of molestation.

All this, however, is dreamy, unsubstantial verbiage. That it is not also mere chimerical nonsense, which will not bear the strain of practical application, I will attempt to show—always supposing as a [Pg 305] necessary preliminary, as in all the hypothetical propositions throughout this paper, that that portion of the community who are nursed in the lap of fortune are imbued with sympathetic feelings towards the less favoured sharers of their common humanity, and do not object to take a little trouble and bear a little charge by way of displaying their fellow-feeling.

Grant this premiss, and what follows, or something better, may easily be rendered an accomplished fact.

The first step will be the formation of a council or committee, after the manner before suggested, save that in this case we shall want an infusion of men of culture who at the same time shall be good workers and good philanthropists (a rare combination, but not an impossible one, I venture to think, notwithstanding the seductions a life of Sybaritic ease and delicate refinement specially offers to the scholar), in every considerable town or group of villages throughout the length and breadth of the land, with power over the district purse-strings, and with no superior authority except the Minister or Secretary of State for Education at Whitehall—for, of course, such a functionary will in those happy times be quite as much a necessity as a Master of the Buckhounds—who alone will have power to veto their proceedings and issue general rules for their guidance.

If I had the ear of this all-important official, I should whisper to him that in my view the best mode of enlightening the working classes would be to take possession of three already-existing institutions, and enlarge their dimensions so as to make of them real forces, distinctly visible, instead of the hole-and-corner obscure trivialities they are now. These three institutions are—1st, Free Libraries; 2nd, Lecture Halls; 3rd, Class Rooms.

1. To Free Libraries I have accorded the first place, because in all probability it is there that the beneficial results will be more immediately apparent, and the advantages offered will, in the first instance, be most considerably made use of. The major portion of the huge and unwieldy mass to be operated on would fly off at a tangent from the exactness and method necessarily incident to formal lectures, and in a still greater degree to class-work. It must first be left to itself to sprawl and struggle at its own free-will; the restraining chain must not be too soon brought into view; gradually and insensibly the quickening influence must be brought to bear; the change from density to clear-headedness, from sluggish inertness to mental activity, will not be effected in a moment; not all at once will the spiritual part of the long-benighted assert its claim to an equality with the animal part; desultory reading only will impart a love for reading; odd waifs and strays of information picked up just anyhow will alone create the desire for the acquisition of further knowledge, and by imperceptible degrees the naturally well-regulated mind will reject vagueness and demand exactness; having reached which stage it will be fit to undergo the further regimen prescribed. A good starting-point, however, will have been gained when our operatives generally are imbued with a genuine love of books and obtain a [Pg 306] somewhat varied, if superficial, knowledge anent the salient features of English literature.

These words, “English literature,” are used advisedly; for while I would have every town of over 5000 inhabitants possessed of a Free Library (varying in size according to the population), and every village have its book-loan society, it would be well to insist on the greatest and best of our own writers being well represented upon the shelves of every institution of this character before venturing on translations either of the ancient classics or modern foreign authors, even of European reputation. Homer, Thucydides, Æschylus, Plato, Virgil, and the rest, as well as Dante, Cervantes, Goethe, and the innumerable host of Continental immortals, can very well wait a bit. We want to inspire British operatives with a love of letters. In endeavouring to effect this, shall we not give the foremost place to the productions of British genius? We have to form a taste. Is it not desirable that, to begin with at all events, this should be a national taste? But is not this the very way, it may be asked, to foster insular prejudices, narrowness, and bigotry? I reply, not necessarily, as many of our ablest littérateurs have not hesitated to attack the various abuses, follies, and weaknesses which crop up in these islands from time to time—some hurling denunciations at them aglow with all the fervour of passion and intellect; others piercing them with the sharp spear of satire; and others yet again calmly but pitilessly holding them up to contempt in a train of close reasoning. Many, too, in addition to lashing the vices peculiar to their native country, have, in terms of generous eloquence, eulogized the virtues of our neighbours. Therefore, the man who is disposed to wrap himself up in a mantle of national self-glorification and self-righteousness will not find that the hierarchs of our national literature are at all times compliant enough to fasten the clasp for him.

But I have a further answer—i.e., independently altogether of the question whether the perusal of English works solely will or will not have a tendency to nip the growing flower of cosmopolitanism in the bud, the one essential point in training the English subject to think is to train him to think in his own vernacular—to show him of what mighty things his mother-tongue is capable, and to satisfy him that

“Age cannot weary, nor custom stale
Its infinite variety;”

and that if ever he, individually, wants to raise up his voice and make himself heard on any subject that interests him or his fellows, he must not fritter away his attention on more distant objects, but concentrate his gaze on those which immediately surround him.

This view may appear somewhat contradictory to the one expressed when dealing with the subject of Emigration; but really it is not so. The leaving behind the special spot of earth where one drew one’s first breath, played as a boy, saw his first sweetheart, and grew up to manhood, the parting from old friends and long-familiar objects, may and [Pg 307] does entail a severe struggle, and inflict many a bitter pang; but it is unavoidable, and so must be submitted to. It is otherwise with home ideas, habits, modes of thought, literature. These will serve to mitigate the poignancy of separation from one’s native land, will intertwine themselves more closely round one’s affections by reason of that very separation, and be the means of causing miniature Englands to arise in far-off regions, and in various degrees of latitude and longitude. While releasing as cheerfully as may be what we must let go, let us hug more closely still that which we can retain.

To return: In a well-equipped Free Library no standard British author should be conspicuous by his absence. The poets, from Chaucer and Gower to Tennyson and Browning; the dramatists, from Marlowe and Shakspeare to W. S. Gilbert and Tom Taylor; the modern historians, from Hume and Gibbon to Froude and Freeman; the modern theologians, from Hooker and Jeremy Taylor to Canon Farrar and the Dean of Westminster; the modern essayists, from the projectors of the Tatler and Spectator to the contributors to the current Reviews and Magazines; the philosophers, the leaders in all departments of science, should be there; the best writers of prose fiction, also, from Fielding and Goldsmith to Trollope and George Eliot, should be well represented. The most profound and the most volatile will alike find sufficient to occupy their attention here for some time. The “Anglican paddock” (to misapply a now well-known term) will afford plenty of grazing ground to cattle of moderate appetites for a considerable period; and when it is exhausted, why, then, there are toothsome grasses in endless profusion to be cropped over the boundary fence.

2. With reference to Lecture Halls, these ought to be nearly as plentiful as churches both in town and country, and can with proper management be made to serve two ends—the carrying forward the work begun at the Free Library, and the rousing from torpidity those whom even that useful institution would fail to reach; for as many would only be led to attend the lecture through the library, so there are many with whom the contrary would hold good, as many a dormant, beer-sodden soul would consent to be carried off for an hour or two to a lecture hall who could never be persuaded to sit down in cold blood to the perusal of a book, although such book might be written in the most fascinating and brilliant style imaginable: the unused eyes would soon begin to ache, the palsied brain soon begin to numb; whereas the speaker, if a good one, and his heart in his subject, would contrive to rivet the man’s attention, despite of himself, by the magnetism of enthusiasm, and he would carry away with him some sort of idea—muddled and distorted probably, but still an idea—of what it was all about.

Penny Readings interspersed with music have been very much derided by our erudite critics, I think without sufficient cause. These really harmless, if not very high-class gatherings, blending together the ingredients of a certain kind of instruction and of entertainment, were [Pg 308] doubtlessly called forth by a genuine desire to familiarize the lower orders of the people with some of the more dramatic passages in our literature, and to render visible to them a higher intellectual standard than the tap-room and the music-hall had made them acquainted with. It was a happy thought to mingle singing and playing with the readings. The introduction of these not only served to take off a possible monotony which might otherwise have been felt, but added attractions really elevating in their influence, the status and general surroundings of the auditory being taken into consideration. There is no need to pry too curiously into the petty vanities which prompted this elocutionist or that vocalist to make an appearance in public, nor to speculate too closely upon the disproportion between the ludicrous extravagance of the efforts often made by incompetent aspirants to obtain fame, and the very modest modicum and evanescent character of that article vouchsafed in return. All this is nothing to the purpose. The simple query is,—Have these things, known as “Penny Readings,” in ever so slight a degree, fulfilled the object of their existence as that object is generally understood? If an affirmative answer can be given (as I certainly believe it can) to that question, then are they entitled to honest praise, and not to supercilious contempt.

However, having deposited my little offering at this humble shrine as I passed by, I am free to confess that if we never get any further than this on the road towards the mental improvement of the million, the march of intellect will be a very short march indeed. But it will not—it cannot stop here. The universal law of progress forbids the idea; and in some form or another the irresistible impetus to advance will be felt and obeyed.

Meantime, no better means, so far as I see, appearing for the moment to be available, I fall back upon my pet project of lectures, to be delivered every night (Sundays excepted) from the middle of September to the middle of May in every year, in every one of the multitudinous halls built for the purpose, by men or women well versed in the several subjects upon which they discourse.

Failing the possibility of procuring a sufficient number of lecturers who could spare the time necessary to compose original matter for the purpose, it would be by no means a bad plan, I think, to employ good and experienced hands to condense and compress standard works on different subjects into such a compass as to occupy two or three evenings, and hand these digests over to practised elocutionists to be read. Take history, for example. Prescott’s “Conquests of Mexico and Peru,” Motley’s “Rise of the Dutch Republic,” Irving’s “Conquest of Granada,” Carlyle’s “French Revolution,” or Hepworth Dixon’s “Her Majesty’s Tower,” are peculiarly well adapted to undergo this process. The absorbing interest of the incidents described could not fail to engage the attention of the audience; and I cannot help thinking that the offended manes of such of the above-named great ones as have departed from amongst us would be appeased when it was represented [Pg 309] to them that this mutilation of their invaluable legacies to posterity had been conducted with due reverence, and solely for the purpose of introducing them to a far wider (and, perchance, not less appreciative) audience than even their exalted talents could otherwise have commanded. As to the still-living ones, perhaps before taking the liberty suggested with their literary offspring, it might be courteous to ask their permission, and I feel confident they would not be churlish enough to withhold it. I may be reminded that there would still be publishers and owners of copyright to be dealt with; but I leave suggestions as to the best means of negotiating with these awful entities to persons of greater experience than myself.

Obviously this lecture-hall business, like most of my other theories, necessarily involves considerable expenditure; but if anything is to be done, opulence must feel for indigence not only in heart but in pocket.

3. A thorough and unstinted employment of the means above indicated will accomplish much towards the emancipation of our helots from that thraldom of ignorance which gives to the more galling thraldom of caste its sole raison d’être. But there is yet one thing needed, the utilization of knowledge acquired, and this can only be attained by dint of laborious and unintermitting class-work. The sacred flame may be kindled in the breast by desultory and omnivorous reading, but the light emitted is as uncertain as that of a wandering marsh-fire—it wants focussing to be of any use to its possessor or his species. And it is in the class, under the guidance of a gifted and genial teacher, that this operation can best be performed. It is here that the finishing touch must be applied; here the rounding-off take place; here the heterogeneous be brought into homogeneity, and the discordant be reduced to harmony and system.

If these things are so, the problems which present themselves to be resolved are:—Given certain millions of untrained intellects in crying need of class tuition scattered over certain thousands of square miles in unequal proportions—how to provide sufficient building accommodation to meet the exigencies of the case? and given an uncertain but confessedly immense mass of torpidity and stagnation—how to infuse the necessary leaven into it to quicken it and arouse its latent forces?

I answer as to the first proposition—Require the architects of the multitudinous lecture halls aforesaid to submit plans to you, which shall comprise sections not only of the main building but of three or four adjuncts thereto suitable for class-rooms, after the style of the chapels nestling under the wings of our old cathedrals, or the annexes thrown out at convenient angles from our modern industrial exhibitions for the display of specialities. These would add comparatively little to the original cost of the structure, and save a great deal of time and trouble in hunting up eligible sites, and, when found, negotiating terms of purchase. As to the second proposition, make a liberal distribution of prizes part of your system, so liberal that not only proficiency would be [Pg 310] certain of obtaining a reward, but plodding and persevering mediocrity also. Constant attendance, combined with such written answers to questions as evinced that the pupil was making an effort, should, however imperfectly the answers were framed, insure the possession of a prize at the end of every session. With such materials to work upon, a free use of stimulants to exertion must form no inconsiderable part of the programme.

Again, no charge whatever must be made for admission to the classes. Indeed, the entire domain of adult poor education must be as free as United Italy—free from the Alps of the library to the Adriatic of the class-room.

Lastly, no restriction should be made as to the age or sex of the scholar. I am of opinion that no greater incentive to emulation can be offered to either man or woman than the consciousness that they are associated with co-workers or competitors of the opposite sex.

It would be travelling out of the record were I ever so faintly to attempt to enter into details as to the mode in which class-teaching could most advantageously be conducted, or to endeavour to shadow forth what I conceive to be the regulations best adapted for the purpose. No general rules would be found competent to meet ever-varying special conditions. All this must inevitably be left to conform itself to the peculiarities of the respective groups of the taught and the idiosyncrasies of the individual teachers.


On this last, but not least, division of the subject, I need not dilate at very great length. Much has been written with reference to it of late with which I cordially agree.

No one can help being sensible of the melancholy fact that the tendency of many of our so-called entertainments is debasing and degrading in the last degree. It is difficult to imagine anything much more demoralizing in every aspect—anything which appears to be more utterly without redeeming features—than our music-halls. Dances, which are simply unnatural contortions on the part of the male performers, and indelicate exhibitions on the part of the female ones; songs, which are utterly idiotic and meaningless, except when their meaning is indecency, sounding the very lowest depths of imbecility, and having no literary merit save double entendres of the most vulgar description; the whole taking place in an atmosphere redolent with the fumes of beer, gin, and tobacco,—such is the pabulum provided for our delectation through this particular medium. Much the same poisonous mixture is administered at our tea-gardens and other places where we most do congregate. Is it a marvel, then, that our young men waste their strength in drunkenness, and our young women stray from the narrow path? Is it wonderful that when you respectables meet us abroad on Bank Holidays, or Derby or Boat Race days, we comport ourselves in ruffianly fashion, and greet the ears of your dames and damsels with expressions which it is not good for them to hear? [Pg 311]

Ultra-exclusives! those of you who are most deeply impressed with the desirability of keeping us in our proper places, and are offended if we pass “between the wind and your nobility,” to you most of all do I address myself, and take the liberty of saying that on you rests the onus of providing better and more healthy recreations for us; for needs must that at times the most fastidious of you will find yourselves in the midst of us, and it will interest you even more deeply than others that we should not sink into unmitigated and universal rascaldom, the only natural goal at which the pursuit of such pleasures as those above-named is likely to land us. Give us attractions of a less baneful character, and wean us from these cesspools of infamy. To you it is specially important that this matter should receive attention. Do not, however, seek to do the work half-way; do not attempt to take away the means of recreation we have—evil as they are—until substitutes are furnished; it will not be convenient to you that the people should have too much time to brood; it will be safer for you that we should be mercurial rather than that we should be morose; in one mood or the other, however you may strive to ignore us, we shall continue to exist in tangible form and be distinctly visible to your perceptions.

I like not threats or innuendoes, however, and say no more concerning this matter.

Time was when holy-days were frequent, when gorgeous pageants feasted the eyes of our forefathers—times of Maypoles and morrice-dancers, of roasted oxen and sheep, of conduits running with wine and milk: I say not I wish these to return. Much I fear that all was not pure, pastoral, Arcadian simplicity amidst these poetic scenes, fascinating as they are to the imagination. I doubt not the taint of vice was there, and the ghastly presence of misery and sorrow, and I do not regret them—let them go.

What, then, do I suggest? Aware of the risk I run in having it imputed to me that my suggestions have already been too numerous, I will, with brevity, venture yet one more.

Repetition is vexatious; notwithstanding which, unification is imperative, and committees must again be called into requisition.

Cricket-clubs, quoit-clubs, bowling-clubs, even skittle-clubs ad libitum, in summer; ballad concerts, dramatic performances, &c., in winter, under the same auspices. Membership extended to all comers, fee payable one shilling per annum in monthly instalments; the expulsion or suspension for a longer or shorter term—according to the more or less heinous nature of the offence—of any member for bad language, intoxication, or other misbehaviour; the gradual unbending of the rich and the cultured, and their condescending to grace the sports with their occasional presence, thereby infusing a spirit of refinement into them; the prohibition of betting or over-drinking,—these are, shortly and imperfectly stated, the remedies I would suggest.

To conclude the whole matter. We, the industrious poor of this [Pg 312] realm—the hard-working classes—are in pressing need of help now, in this present time. This, I believe, is confessed on all hands, diverse and contradictory as the theories how such help could best be given may be. The question at issue is not whether ameliorations are desirable or the contrary, but in what manner to bring them about, and how to be certain that it is bread which is bestowed, and not a stone.

I do not claim to have solved this enigma, or to have invented a millennium. I simply assert my belief that some of my propositions may contain germs capable of being nurtured into hopeful possibilities.

As I have selected four principal points in which improvements are required—health, pocket, mind, and amusements—so have I striven to indicate four principal modes which I think best calculated to attain the desired end, and which for the most part must come from without our borders—namely, sympathy, earnestness, money, and centralized organization—all being essential; the last-named especially being so, for it may be regarded as an irrefragable verity that every movement to be really efficacious must be national, and not parochial.

I look for many objections on both sides of the temperate zone, on the waters of which alone I elect to voyage. The frigid will aver that I expect too much, that my notions are Utopian and chimerical to the last degree, and the nostrums prescribed empirical and baneful; that it is not to be supposed sensible people will take all this trouble, and rush into such reckless expenditure in a project so visionary. To such my only answer is,—Where the return is to be great the investment must be great also. The torrid, on the other hand, will say I am not sufficiently thorough; that the only means of elevating the poor is by lugging the wealthy down to their level, abrogating dignities, distributing riches, abolishing ownership in lands and corporeal hereditaments. To these my reply will be,—Evil will the day be which shall dawn on such devil’s-sabbath employments as these. Levelling upwards is laudable; levelling downwards is execrable. I would in nowise interfere with the least of these institutions. The overthrow of dynasties will not advantage us, nor will a general scramble conduce to our lasting welfare. I am a sceptic as to the benefits to be derived from revolution, although professing myself a warm admirer of reformation, as I understand the word—re-formation.

Neither do I anticipate that the time will ever come, under the best devised systems, when poverty will altogether cease out of the land. Evil will there be, and good also, while the world stands. This, however, should be no excuse for indifferentism in the work of lessening the sum-total of the evil, and increasing the sum-total of the good.

And so Lazarus unmoors his fragile boat, and launches it, unmanned and untended, on the bosom of the stream,—to meet its fate.

Henry J. Miller.

[Pg 313]


In the Essay on Animals and Plants, which appeared in the September Number of this Review, the names were given of the principal groups in which the prodigious multitude of living creatures (existing or known to have existed) have been classified by naturalists. It was therein also indicated that these various groups, and all the subdivisions of such groups, are distinguished one from another by variations in the forms and structures of the creatures which compose them. This fact alone would prove that very many differences in form must exist; but, indeed, a very slight knowledge and a very cursory examination of animals and plants would suffice to show this even to any one who knew nothing of the scope or nature of biological classification. In truth, to the non-scientific observer who feels an interest in living things, the difficulty may seem to be rather how to find general resemblances than how to detect differences between creatures which seem so totally diverse as do humming birds from whales, bees from buffaloes, or the numerous African herds of antelopes from the grasses on which they feed.

Nevertheless it was pointed out in the second Essay of this series[56] that all living creatures do agree to a certain extent in the form and structure of their bodies, inasmuch as their bodies are always bounded by curved lines and surfaces, while, if we divide the body of any animal or plant its structure may always be seen to be heterogeneous—that is to say, composed of different substances, even the simplest showing a variety of minute particles (granules) variously distributed throughout its interior. It has also been pointed out[57] that all living creatures agree in beginning life in the form of a small rounded mass of protoplasm. But all animals and plants further agree in that each kind has its own proper [Pg 314] size, shape, structure, and colour, and each (as we shall hereafter see) shows a positive unity in its fundamental constitution, co-existing with the heterogeneity above referred to.

But though each kind has its own proper size, shape, structure, and colour, yet these vary more or less in different individuals, and the degrees of variability are different in different kinds both of animals and plants.

As to size, although most living creatures have certain limits which they rarely exceed or fall below, yet many organisms vary greatly in this respect. Thus, that familiar weed, the common centaury (Erythræa centaurium), may vary in height—according to the soil and other external conditions—from half an inch to five feet.

As to figure and structure there is more constancy, and the amount of variation which may in these respects be found between different individuals of the same animal species, is generally but slight. In plants and in plant-like animals much greater differences exist as to external configuration; but even in them the internal structure of each species varies but little.

Colour is a character which some readers may be disposed to regard as extremely inconstant. We are familiar with many differently coloured varieties of our cultivated flowers; and white blackbirds, and black leopards are not very uncommon objects. Nevertheless, colour is really a character of much constancy, and is one not only constantly present in different individuals of one kind of plant or animal, but is one constantly present in particular groups of kinds.

Thus, for example, all the English plants of the dandelion order which have opposite leaves, have yellow flowers, with the single exception of the eupatory (Eupatorium cannabinum), and whole groups of butterflies are respectively characterized as being blue, or white, or yellow.

We have seen that the life of every living being is accompanied by, and may be described as, a series of adjustments of action and structure to external conditions which surround it. Accordingly we may expect to find that the sizes, shapes, structures, and colours of living beings bear relations, which are in very many cases obvious, to their external circumstances, as directly favouring their nutrition, reproduction, or preservation from external injury.

Every living creature must be either fixed (like a rooted tree), or capable of spontaneously moving, or of being passively drifted from place to place, and must have a structure and figure suitable to one or other of these conditions.

Again, every living creature, whether free or fixed, is either a terrestrial, an aquatic, or an aërial organism; and it may be fitted to live in any two, or even in all three of these conditions—as, for example, is the swan. If terrestrial, it may inhabit the surface of the earth only, or it may occasionally or habitually dwell beneath it. The structure, forms, and even colours of organisms are in most cases plainly adapted to their modes of life in the above respects. [Pg 315]

Thus, any living creature, which is fixed to the surface of the earth, must either adhere to it by having one side or portion of its body spread out and adjusted to irregularities in the supporting surface, or else by sending prolongations of its substance into the substance of the supporting body, as a plant sends its roots into the soil. Such prolongations, moreover, must (in order to hold fast) either sink deeply or else expand, at a slight depth, into a rounded or discoidal mass, or into radiating processes whereby the whole structure may be securely anchored.

This special modification of form, again, may or may not be accompanied by certain further modifications of structure, according as such rooting parts are to serve, as mere holdfasts, simply for attachment, or (as in most plants) for the absorption of food also.

Another modification is also correlated with these conditions. We have seen[58] that an interchange of gases takes place between each organism and its surrounding medium. But such interchange cannot take place in the subterranean part of the body, and a corresponding difference of structure between such subterranean part and other parts must therefore obtain.

Again, as to colour, we find differences which are evidently related to the different degrees in which different parts of a living body are exposed to the influence of light. Such contrasts notoriously exist, not only between the green parts of plants above the soil and the lighter coloured roots, but between the foliage of a plant which is exposed to sun light and another of the same kind kept in a dark cellar. Many animals which live in permanent darkness are colourless, as, e.g., the Proteus;[59] but yet this is not an invariable rule, some, as the mole, being of a dark colour.

The forms of organisms are evidently often directly related to surrounding influences. A plant or plant-like animal fixed to the soil may be so fixed that light, air, food, friends and enemies can have access equally on all sides or not. Thus, a tree so placed that light and air are excluded on one side, will not grow freely towards that side, but only in directions from whence light and air have access. A coral reef increases much more rapidly towards the open sea (the waves of which bring in food and facilitate gaseous interchange) than towards an adjacent shore.

The mere contiguity of parts will often affect the form of organisms. Thus, in many flowers parts which are adjacent become dwarfed, while others which are freely exposed become fully developed, as we see in the flowers of many Umbelliferæ, or plants of the parsley, fennel, and hemlock order.

The shapes of flowers bear relation (as we shall see later) to their need for attracting insects which by their visits effect the development of seed, and for repelling others the access of which would be hurtful.

The avoidance of enemies may be so effected by an organism that [Pg 316] their access may be made impossible save in one direction, the extent of vulnerable surface even in that direction being minimized. We have an example of such a condition in those worms which live in calcareous tubes, and which are some of those called “tubicolous annelids.”[60]

Again, the medium in which an organism lives—whether aërial or aqueous—has an important relation with its form. A delicate seaweed, the beautifully radiating form of which is a just object of admiration as long as it is supported by its denser natural medium (the sea water), collapses into an amorphous mass when withdrawn thence into the thin air. Obviously a much greater rigidity and strength of structure is needed to support an aërial organism than an aquatic one, unless the former can support itself on other solid structures, such as rocks or trees. In the latter case the form attained may be very elongated and slender, as in the many creeping and climbing plants, which are so often furnished with processes for grasping (tendrils) to aid them in their mode of life.

An aërial fixed organism, if it does not rise from the surface of the earth, cannot spread itself very far without developing other points of support—without rooting again. This re-rooting is a familiar phenomenon in many plants, as, e.g., the strawberry. But even a shrub like the common bramble (which is not itself prostrate, but which sends out extraordinarily prolonged branches) is aided by such a process. The ends of its long branches apply themselves to the ground and begin to pierce its surface, the incipient leaves of its terminal bud becoming metamorphosed into roots.

An aquatic fixed organism, however, may extend to a very great length, freely floating without effecting any such fresh attachment. Thus the seaweed Laminaria digitata[61] will spread over a circle 12 feet in diameter, while L. longicornis grows in the form of an elongated riband, from 8 to 12 feet in length and 2 or 3 feet wide. The giant form Macrocystis (with a much more subdivided outline) may extend to the extraordinary length of 700 feet.

The conditions under which needful gaseous interchange can be effected and food obtained by different living creatures, govern in various other ways the forms of their bodies.

Thus, if it is helpful to the life of a creature to submit as large a surface of its body as possible to the influence of light, or to the action of air or water, then for this purpose its body must be expanded and its expanded parts divided and subdivided as they extend in different directions. It is for this reason that trees branch, and that their branches and twigs divide and subdivide as they do. It is for this reason also that their branches do not grow out one above another in precisely the same direction, but, on the contrary, grow in such a manner that each one may overshadow those immediately beneath as [Pg 317] little as may be. Similarly and for the same reason leaves are developed mostly in an alternating fashion, so that each may be able to expose its green surface to the light and air as much as possible.

Plant-like animals which grow up in an arborescent manner from a fixed base do not generally branch in so regularly alternating a mode as do plants, and in some cases their successive branches may even be regularly superimposed. This is due to their not requiring, as plants do, that their surface should be very extensively exposed to light, neither their gaseous interchange nor their nutrition being impaired by such superposition. The water which carries to them both the nutritious particles on which they feed and the gases they respire, will act with nearly or quite the same efficiency in either arrangement of their parts.

If the exigences of life require any organism to retain much fluid within it, this circumstance may lead to its assumption of a dilated more or less globular form, as in the melon cactus, and, to a less degree, in the leaves of the common stonecrop.

But the conditions under which alone certain fixed organisms can obtain their food may govern also their internal structure. Thus, we shall see that in plants which feed by absorbing matters through their roots, an internal arrangement has to be effected for distributing material thus obtained, and conveying it upwards through the stem. So, again, many fixed animals need a greater supply of food and gases than they can obtain from the water which bathes or may reach them without effort on their parts. Such animals may be provided with special internal structures, which cause currents of water to flow towards them, and very often to penetrate within them, as in the shell Mya or the razor shell.[62]

Fixed subterranean creatures are rare, but such do exist, as, for example, the truffle (Tuber cibarium). Surrounding influences must in such instances be alike on all sides, while the imbedded position of such organisms render superfluous the development of any elongated process for the purpose of fixing them. Such creatures, then, have a spheroidal figure, and neither internally nor externally are their structures developed in special directions.[63]

The fixed organisms which are the most aërial in their habits are attached to elevated objects, such as trees, and necessarily have a portion of their frame set apart to fix them to the object which supports them. The most conspicuous creatures of this kind are, perhaps, the plants termed “Epiphytes,” on account of this habit. Amongst them may be mentioned the beautiful orchids called “air plants,” and the familiar mistletoe. Other vegetable organisms—the multitude of creeping [Pg 318] plants—rear themselves to great heights by the aid of their more robust brothers, but they can hardly be reckoned as aërial organisms.[64]

The colours which plants display have sometimes a singular relation to the mountain elevations or geographical positions they inhabit, but these considerations will be aptly treated of in the relations borne by living creatures to physical conditions and to one another.

Living creatures which are capable of moving or being freely moved about, present us with similar but more marked differences.

Certain aquatic creatures drift passively about (borne by streams or currents) with no permanent relation between any fixed portion of their bodies and the medium which transports them. Such creatures being equally acted on on all sides by surrounding agencies might be expected (like the subterranean truffle) to exhibit a spheroidal figure, with only one kind of surface upon their whole exterior. This is just what we find to be the case in a variety of more or less minute organisms, such, e.g. as Myxastrum radians and Magosphæra planula.[65]

The former of these consists, at one stage of its existence, of a small globular mass of protoplasm, from the whole periphery of which a multitude of fine pseudopodia radiate. When about to reproduce, the creature retracts its pseudopodia, and forms around its exterior a structureless coat or cyst, an action which takes place frequently in lowly organisms, and is called their process of encystment. The contents of the cyst then divides into separate bodies, which escape by the rupture of the cyst. Each of these bodies is enclosed in a silicious case with an aperture at one end, whence its contained protoplasm issues, and, having so issued, assumes a spherical shape.

Magosphæra is another small creature which goes through a remarkable series of changes, the greater number of which exemplify the ball-like shape of body alike on all sides.

Wherever the surface of the body is covered by pseudopodia, those processes, inasmuch as they have a power of spontaneous movement, enable the creatures possessing them slightly to aid or to resist the drifting action of the water in which they float.

But a living organism may be devoid of any definite shape whatever, as in Protamœba,[66] which consists of a mere particle of protoplasm, from which irregular-shaped processes of unequal size are irregularly protruded in every direction, so that the form of the creature may be said to be quite indeterminate.

[Pg 319] The bodies of almost all organisms have, however, more or less definite forms, which may be all classed under seven morphological categories.

(1). The simplest form of all exemplifies spherical symmetry, and is that which we have seen in the truffle, the radiolarian, the volvox, Myxastrum and Magosphæra. In this spherical form any number of axes drawn through the creature in any direction are equal.

(2). The next organic form is one in which the body sphere is more or less elongated at its poles, the latter being equal and similar. In such an organism we have one axis longer than any one of the others and central, while from this axis symmetrical radii can be drawn in all directions. This form may be said to exemplify equipolar symmetry, and such is found in some radiolarians, in some small parasites (Gregarinida),[67] and others.

(3). The next morphological category may be spoken of as unipolar symmetry. Bodies which exemplify it are like those included in the last category, save that the two poles of the body are not alike.

Instances of this symmetry are to be sought in creatures which have one end of their body fixed, or which always or mostly move with the same end of the body in front, and thus have their two extremities in more or less constantly different relations to surrounding influences.

The lowest worms and sponges may serve as examples of this symmetry in its simplest expression. As also may the curious compound tunicary called Pyrosoma.[68] In all such creatures the body does not extend out in the form of lateral prolongations.

But in many others it does send out processes on all sides, and in various directions, as in most trees and all plants which have a definite axis of growth, so that unipolar symmetry is the predominant symmetry in the vegetable kingdom.

(4). But unipolar symmetry with diverging outgrowths leads us to the next category which may be called radial symmetry. Under this head are included the forms of such creatures as possess unipolar bodies from which equal and corresponding outgrowths radiate in different directions.

We have examples of this in the starfishes, in the sea anemones, and in such plants as the melon cactus. But the outgrowths may project in only four directions, each being at right angles with the two neighbouring outgrowths. We thus get a crucial form of radiation, in which the body may be described as having one main axis (in the direction of motion) crossed by two other shorter but equal axes at right angles to it and to each other.

We have an example of this in Tetraplatia volitans,[69] an aquatic creature with an elongated body, which presents four distinguishable [Pg 320] longitudinal surfaces, of which each opposite and corresponding pair is hardly distinguishable from one another.

(5). This form leads us directly to that kind of symmetry which is predominant in the animal kingdom and which is called bilateral symmetry. Forms of this kind exhibit four aspects which may be distinguished as right and left, dorsal and ventral. The body here presents a long axis (in the direction of motion) crossed by two shorter axes at right angles to it and to each other. Of these shorter axes, one connects the dorsal and ventral surfaces, while the other connects the lateral (right and left) surfaces, and these two axes may be, and generally are, unequal. All worms, insects, mollusks, fishes, birds, reptiles, and beasts, are examples of creatures with bilateral symmetry. The dorsal and ventral aspects of the body generally differ in correspondence with the different relations to surrounding conditions which they usually bear, as notably in snakes and creatures which glide with their bellies applied to the surface of the ground.

(6). The last kind of symmetry which here needs notice is that termed serial symmetry. In the creatures which exhibit it we have a body which is not only almost always bilaterally symmetrical but which is made up of a succession of similar parts, forming a series along its main or longitudinal axis. Insects, crabs, lobsters, and other allied forms give us examples of serial symmetry, but this is perhaps best seen in such animals as thousand legs and hundred legs—millipedes and centipedes.

Besides the fundamental distinctions which depend upon the kind of symmetry governing the form of any living being, other subordinate differences exist respectively related to the conditions under which the various activities necessary for life have to be carried on. Such activities are the needful gaseous interchange, the processes of reproduction, and the acquisition of food. Thus, the most intimate relation exists between the form of the body and the manner in which locomotion has to be effected, whether by the whole body or by processes projecting from it. If the latter, then whether by paddling or jumping; if by the whole body, then whether by lateral or vertical bendings of that body.

Thus, we see that fishes, which swim by lateral flexure of the body, have the tail expanded vertically; while in porpoises, which require vertical flexions (to come rapidly to the surface to breathe), the tail is expanded horizontally. On the other hand, creatures which swim not by either kind of body flexure, but by a paddling action only, have the tail shortened, as we see in swans and turtles. Further details of this kind will be more appropriately treated of in an Essay devoted exclusively to the consideration of the forms of animals.

There are a multitude of aquatic creatures which cannot be properly spoken of as either “fixed” or “mobile,” for they are in fact both. They are creatures which move about by the help of others, being themselves fixed to other creatures which are actively locomotive. [Pg 321]

Thus, sea-snails, lobsters, fishes, whales, and even ships, bear about with them sometimes lowly-organized plants; but often other animals, permanently fixed to and growing parasitically upon them and having the shape of their body suited to their peculiar situation.

Often such parasites form flattened encrustations on their involuntary hosts—as is the case with the acorn shells or sessile barnacles.[70] Others have elongated bodies, which stream through the water with the motions of the creatures carrying them. We see this in confervoid growths, also in ordinary barnacles, and in certain modified crab-like creatures, such as Lerneocera.[71]

These creatures fix themselves to their movable supports by means similar to those by which other creatures secure themselves to stationary supports. Thus, some of these do so by means of expanded disks, which fit accurately to the supporting surface, while certain parasites fix themselves by means of ingrowing prolongations or root-like processes, as in the Rhizocephala.[72] Others, again, adhere by the intervention of hooks and suckers, and this is especially the case with such as fix themselves internally and live perpetually bathed (as the tape-worms[73] do) in the nutritious fluids contained within the bowels of the creatures they infest.

Terrestrial mobile organisms can, of course, only be moved by their own efforts, or by the efforts of other organisms.

The simplest terrestrial locomotion is like that of the aquatic Amœba[74] primitiva, and is performed by land Amœbæ; and the curious plant Myxomycetes[75] also moves in a substantially similar manner. This very curious organism consists of a net-work of protoplasmic threads, which spread over decaying leaves and stems. The threads exhibit streams of granules flowing within them, and they give out processes like pseudopodia, while the whole complex mass can slowly creep over a supporting surface, which it thus slowly flows over by its branching processes.

Other lowly plants propel themselves by means of a pair of filamentary protoplasmic threads, which vibrate actively, and are therefore called vibratile cilia. As an example may be mentioned the Protococcus[76] nivalis, the little spheroidal alga, which abounds on Alpine summits and in Arctic regions.

As in aquatic, so in terrestrial organisms, external form is intimately related to modes of motion. Thus, locomotion may be effected by undulations of the whole body, as often in serpents and terrestrial vermiform animals. It may, on the contrary, be effected by the action of levers projecting from the surface of the body, i.e., by limbs, and these may be multitudinous and minute, as in hundred legs and thousand legs, or few and large, as in beasts. Moreover, the motions may be movements of pulling or of pushing, or by combinations of these, or by [Pg 322] jumps, which may be effected in various manners, the consideration of which will find a fitting place in an Essay devoted to “Motion.”

Again, terrestrial, like aquatic, organisms often involuntarily carry about with them other living creatures which have fixed themselves to their bodies. Thus, the fruits, or seeds, of many plants (as, e.g., those of the common Agrimony, Agrimonia eupatoria) are beset with hooks or bristles which readily adhere to the coats of passing animals, and so gain a greater diffusion than they could otherwise obtain. A very remarkable form of the kind is Martynia proboscidea (called Testa di Quaglia by the Italians), which has a pair of curved and pointed processes like the tusks of an elephant, which are several inches long. It is notorious for adhering to clothes, &c. Other noteworthy plants are Uncaria procumbeus, or the grapple plant of South Africa and Harpagophytum,[77] the fruit of which is provided with hooked processes. Those of Harpagophytum spread out in all directions, and are of different lengths, with sharp hooks, variously turned, so that its power of clinging is extreme. The seed, with all its processes, is so large as to fill the hand when grasped. It is said to cause the death of the lion. Having adhered to that beast’s skin, the irritation produced and the impossibility of getting it off at last induces the lion to bite it, and once in his mouth he cannot remove it, and so the animal dies miserably.

Some animals fix themselves much as these seeds of plants do. Amongst them are the parasites known as tics which fix themselves with great tenacity by the appendages of their mouths. Other parasites—like the itch insect[78] and forms allied to it—have hooked processes and stiff, hard bristles, which are at once very irritating and very adherent. Creatures are also carried about inside others, as is the case with the seeds of many plants. These are disseminated by birds which have swallowed but have not digested such seeds, and in an analogous manner the great tape-worm group becomes also widely diffused.

Moving subterranean organisms, inasmuch as they must penetrate through a dense and highly-resisting substance, must evidently either have forms which offer little resistance—reducing friction to a minimum—or must be provided with special means of penetrating such substance. Evidently the least resisting form is presented by a body much elongated, rounded, and more or less attenuated at the advancing end, which end has to effect the requisite penetration. This is the form of the earth-worm—a form which is approximated to by a variety of creatures which have not the least affinity of nature with it, but only more or less resemble it as regards its dwelling-place and mode of locomotion.

[Pg 323] Such, for example, are the curious serpents called Typhlops,[79] and such are the legless lizards[80] (Anguis), and such, again, are the simpler vermiform animals allied to frogs, called Cæciliæ.[81]

In order to burrow quickly and easily by means of processes of the body, it is evidently a necessary condition that the earth should be rapidly removed by the powerful action of parts situated towards the body’s anterior end. The similarity of effect of similar conditions in creatures which are most widely divergent in nature is exemplified by the mole and the mole-cricket, which are each provided with a strong and broadened-out pair of anterior digging-limbs.

Living creatures may be sustained in the air for a longer or shorter time at one or another stage of their existence. The reproductive particles of the lowest forms of animals and plants are so excessively minute that they float in the air with the greatest ease, without needing any complication of structure—their spheroidal form harmonizing with the equal action upon them of influences on all sides of them. Reproductive parts which, though less minute than these, are still very small, may also be diffused by floating in the atmosphere. Such are the pollen grains of those trees which are fertilized merely by the action of the winds, such as the hazel, poplar, birch, and of lowly plants, as the grasses. It is by the wind that the pollen grains of these plants are accidentally brought into contact with the appropriate surfaces for their reception. Conspicuous in the spring of the year are the clouds of yellow dust, pollen grains, given off by fir trees, which are plants also wind-fertilized. But here we find a slight complication; for to facilitate the dispersion of such particles the outer coat of each of their pollen grains is produced into a short wing-like process on each side, and these processes help at once to sustain it in the air, and to aid its propulsion by offering more surface to the force of the aërial currents.

Very much more conspicuous are the wing-like expansions of many seeds—such, for example, as those of the maple. These expansions serve to diffuse the seeds which bear them, as do also the delicate cottony filaments which surround the seeds of a variety of plants of widely different natures and affinities, as some kinds of spider float through the air by the aid of the delicate filaments which they send forth to serve as an aërial float. Familiar to every one is the delicate little parachute-like structure of radiating filaments on the seeds of such plants as the dandelion—which seeds most children have at some time helped to diffuse by blowing.

Aërial progress by actual effort is effected by a limited group of organisms, and only in certain cases (bats, birds, and insects) does it take the form of true flight in creatures now existing. In other creatures, such as so-called flying fishes, squirrels, opossums, and the little flying [Pg 324] dragon, the more or less prolonged aërial sustentation is effected by expansions of skin, which act as parachutes in ways be later described in detail.

True flight seems to need a definite mechanism of one kind—namely, a mechanism which shall give rapid and reiterated blows to the air from a point towards the dorsal side, and head end of the body, by structures of considerable superficial extent, and capable of rapid and delicate inclinations of surface. Such structures must be light and therefore delicate, and yet possess very considerable strength to resist the strain of the body’s prolonged sustentation, and to effect its occasionally very rapid progress, as in the swift and in dragon-flies. These conditions which we find fulfilled in all existing flying organisms were also fulfilled organisms which have for ages passed away from the surface of this by planet, such as the extinct flying reptiles called Pterosauria or Pterodactyles.[82]

In all such rapidly flying creatures the form of the body is necessarily modified so as to throw the centre of gravity where it may be best sustained. It is this which packs what are practically a bird’s teeth in its belly, and thickens so greatly the muscles on its breast which are formed in such a way as to serve both the usual purposes of breast-muscles, and also that which is effected in most cases by muscles of the back, which in birds are very greatly diminished in volume and extent.

But there are living creatures which have relations with two media; which, though they are aquatic, yet by the help of the air rise and float, so as to be partly bathed in the atmosphere; while others carry down a portion of that atmosphere below the surface of water, so as to be sub-aqueously aërial. Examples of the last-mentioned condition are afforded by such spiders as have the habit of enclosing a bubble of air within the meshes of their self-woven network, and going down with it, being thus able there to maintain themselves as in a diving-bell. The reverse condition obtains in such plants as Valisneria,[83] which secrete air within expanded bladder-like receptacles, and, thus aided, rise to the surface and float. Another example is that of certain polyp animals, such as the Portuguese man of war, which also rise and swim upon the surface of the sea by the aid of floats in the form of bladders, which are also filled with air by means of their own life processes. The same also is the case in many seaweeds.

Thus, these multitudinous forms of living creatures, both animals and plants, are reducible to certain categories in harmony with their modes of life, and the relations existing between them and all surrounding influences. We may see that, without compliance with certain of such laws, their existence would be impossible, and we see that there is a general [Pg 325] correspondence between their shape and structure on the one hand, and their environment (that is, the totality of all surrounding agencies and influences) on the other. Are we to consider that such influences are the causes of their form and structure? Obviously the biological facts before us, as yet, are insufficient to enable us to give a satisfactory answer to this question. It will for the present be enough to bear in mind that by some writers the environment is deemed the one and sufficient cause of all the characters of living creatures. But as yet we have not even seen what is the environment. Evidently physical influences—the earth, sea, or air, light, heat, and motion—do not exhaust it. One important factor would be omitted if we neglected to note the share taken in the environment of each living creature by a multitude of other living creatures which are in various ways related to it. This question must occupy us later.

But by the forms of living creatures is not meant merely their external form. Some general notion then should here at starting be obtained of their internal form—that is, of their essential structure.

The minutest and probably the simplest forms of living creatures (whether plant or animal) are such as are presented by Bacteria,[84] the yeast-plant and Protoccus. Bacteria are those minute creatures the mode of origin of which in sealed infusions has been so much of late disputed, but the activity of which in promoting the decomposition of dead substances is undisputed. A bacterium is a particle of protoplasmic matter, either spheroidal or oblong, or like a short rod, or shaped like a corkscrew, and bacteria may also be in the form of a short chain of spheroids, or of oblong particles, or of rods united in a zigzag manner.

Their breadth may vary from the 1/30000 to 1/10000 of an inch. They may also assume quite another appearance, by surrounding themselves with a gelatinous envelope, which condition is called their zooglæa state of existence.

They may be readily obtained by making some hay tea, and keeping it for a day or two, when they will be found to abound in the scum which forms on the surface, and to be in active motion. In the corkscrew form, Spirillum volitans, each end of the body is produced into a minute hair-like process or cilium, and it is by the lashings of these cilia that the minute organism moves about.

Other as simple but larger organisms may consist of a minute mass of semi-fluid protoplasm, containing granules, as we find to be the case in the plant Vaucheria,[85] and many other Algæ, and in the animal Amœba primitiva.[86]

An organism of this simplest kind or a fragment of a higher organism which presents this simplest condition is called a cell.[87] Very generally [Pg 326] such cell has within it a more or less distinctly marked generally denser and spheroidal body called a nucleus, within which, again, other minute spots may appear called nucleoli.

Even in this simplest of all possible conditions of life a slight difference appears between its most external film and its inner substance—just as a cup of broth left to stand will form for itself a filmy outermost layer. This incipient difference between what is inner and what is outer is one which is constantly maintained in all higher organisms, as we shall soon see abundantly. But the distinction into outer and inner is, as has been said, shown in a much more marked way in the constituent units, or cells, which build up the bodies of plants generally; for these consist of an inner part of protoplasm, enclosed in a distinct external cellulose envelope or cell-wall. As has also been shown, many of the lowest animals take on occasionally the encysted condition when they also consist of a particle of bioplasm enclosed in a distinct cell-wall or cyst, though one not made of cellulose.

The protoplasmic contents of the cell may attract watery fluid thus forming clearer spaces or vacuoles within it, and these may become so extended that the protoplasm may be reduced to a thin layer lining the cell wall, thread-like processes or remnants of protoplasm often passing across the cell from one part of the protoplasmic lining to another. A cell, almost always a nucleated cell, is the original form of every living creature without exception; and a great number of small, and some considerably sized living beings, never get beyond this unicellular condition, however much their cell may become enlarged or complicated in shape. Such creatures form the lowest of all animals and plants; but the overwhelming majority of living creatures are formed of aggregations of cells which cohere and fuse together in various ways. As an example of a unicellular and typically cellular living creature we may take the yeast plant (Saccharomyces cerevisiæ), which consists of a particle of bioplasm enclosed in a cell-wall of cellulose, the whole being globular or oval in shape, and generally about 1/3000 of an inch in diameter. Within its bioplasm a clear space or vacuole may often be distinguished. Often these organisms appear with a more complicated outline, due to the growth of new saccharomycetes from its outer wall, and the budding forth of others again from the side of such protruding processes, all of which ultimately become detached as independent saccharomycetes, though they often continue adherent for a long time, forming strings or other temporary aggregations of such organisms.

In Protococcus we meet with one of the lowest order. Its colour is green, which, as in all other higher plants also, is due to the presence in its [Pg 327] protoplasm of a colouring matter called chlorophyll, either diffused or aggregated in certain denser granules of protoplasmic substance. Protococcus may be smaller or much larger than the yeast plant, it is spheroidal, and its protoplasm is enclosed in a tough case of cellulose, which, however, it may not nearly fill, while the long cilia may protrude through it and propel the whole organism by their reiterated lashings.

It has been already said that a vegetable may temporarily exist as a particle of bioplasm without any cell-wall, and such is the case with Protococcus, the cellular envelope of which occasionally disappears. More remarkable still is the form already referred to under the name Myxomycetes,[88] which, for part of its existence, is the form of an indefinitely-shaped, naked protoplasmic mass.[89]

Living creatures which consist of a single cell may present, nevertheless, a considerable complication of structure. Thus, an organism as simple as the amœba primitiva, before noticed, may have the power of forming, or, as it is technically called, secreting, from its own substance and its surrounding medium a most complex supporting skeleton of calcareous or silicious nature. It may have its outer envelope so markedly differentiated from its inner as to require a distinct designation as exosarc, while it may give rise in its interior not only to a nucleus and nucleolus, but to two regularly formed cavities with the power of rythmical pulsation, and one definite portion of its external wall may be perforated to form a permanent mouth instead of as in such forms as Amœba, any part serving indifferently as a mouth and every portion having similar functions without differentiation. All these and other complications of structure may arise by direct growth and transubstantiation of the single cell into the various physically and chemically different parts.

Again, a living creature which is fixed may so extend itself as to simulate stem, roots, and branches, and yet remain essentially simple, consisting merely of one greatly enlarged and complicated cell.

Thus, a unicellular plant may take on a great complexity of form while still remaining purely unicellular. It may assume the form of a stem with roots and leaves. An example of such we may see in the genus Caulerpa,[90] which, although unicellular, simulates in its outline the fern called Blechnum.

[Pg 328] The next grade of structural complication in living creatures is produced by the lowly plants, such as Protococcus, which multiply by spontaneous self-division or fission. This process may take place repeatedly and at the same time incompletely, in this way producing an apparently compound organism. Thus, we have the second grade of structural complication in living creatures—namely, the aggregation of cells into a loosely joined mass.

Other simple forms are those presented by the minute organisms Diatoms and Desmids, the former enclosed in silicious cases, and some presenting the only exception to the general law that organic bodies are bounded by curved lines and surfaces.

Wonderful is the minute ornamentation presented by the surfaces of these microscopic plants. Some of them cohere by imperfect division in the second grade of structural complication just described; they may form longitudinal series of cells, or they may be arranged round a common centre.

One of the best examples of this secondary grade of complication is presented by the spherically aggregated cells of Volvox.[91] These present us with a good example of the way in which the shape of the individual cells may spontaneously alter, to suit the mode of their aggregation. Originally spherical, the adjacent sides of these cells become flattened, and thus the cells acquire a polygonal figure.

Other instances of the coherence of the cells of unicellular organisms into indefinite and inconstant aggregations is presented by some radiolarians, individuals which cohere into what are called colonies.

From such incomplete aggregation, the next step is to definite and stable aggregations, in which the life of the constituent parts is more or less plainly subservient to, and dominated by, the life of the whole. Such we find in all but the lowest Fungi,[92] and Algæ, in sponges,[93] and Hydræ, and also in all higher organisms. In such permanent aggregations, the dominant life of the whole is shown partly in greater constancy of external form and partly in the setting apart of separate portions of the whole, either for the nourishment of the entire creature or for the reproduction of fresh individuals, or for effecting gaseous interchange, or (in animals) for ministering to feeling and locomotion.

Thus, the overwhelming majority of living creatures are, as has been said, formed of aggregation of cells, which cohere or fuse together in various ways—and not only of aggregation of cells but of aggregation of aggregations of cells or “tissues.” Each tissue is a structure formed by the aggregation, or by aggregation and metamorphoses, of certain sets of cells. Thus, every higher plant or animal is made of an inconceivable multitude of cells, together with tissues which are not cellular, but which have originated by metamorphosis of cells, and every such higher plant or animal at first consists entirely of an aggregate of plainly [Pg 329] distinct cells; and, first of all, of one single cell only, whence its whole structure, however complex, has originally sprung, though generally not until it has had at least a portion of another cell mixed with it.

This transformation of cells, at first all alike, into distinct orders of cells or tissues, whence different organs with different functions arise, is characteristic of all living creatures above those which each consist throughout life of one cell only.

We have seen that unicellular organisms may unite into a cylindrical or spheroidal colony, as in some Radiolaria, or into a spheroid of closely-adjusted cells, forming one layer, as in Volvox. But however large or complex such aggregation may be, it never forms sets of united cells or tissues. The whole of these lower creatures, therefore, may be spoken of as unicellular organisms; as though they may consist of many cells, those cells retain their individuality. Such creatures are all the lowest animals—those called Hypozoa[94] or Protozoa, and also the lowest cryptogamic[95] plants.

All other animals and all the higher plants are multicellular. The description of one animal (which is placed as it were on the boundary between the multicellular and the unicellular division), the little parasitic worm Dicyema,[96] must for the present be postponed, as its significance could not yet be understood.

Before leaving the consideration of the forms of living creatures, a further distinction should be made clear—that is to say, a distinction in the nature of resemblances which may exist between various parts.

There are two different relations which may exist between a part or organ in one animal or plant, and another part or organ in another animal or plant. One of these relations is called analogy and the other homology, and it is very desirable to bear clearly in mind the distinction which exists between these two relations.

Analogy refers to the use to which any part or organ is put—that is, it refers to its function.

Thus, the flower of the daisy is, as we shall see, analogous to that of the buttercup. The spathe of an arum is analogous to the corolla of the dead nettle (for both serve to shelter the essential parts of the flower).

The foot of a horse is analogous to the foot of a man, and the shell of a tortoise to the shell of an armadillo; for the two former serve for support and locomotion, while the latter two are solid protecting envelopes to the body. So also the flying organ or wing of a bat is analogous to the flying organ or wing of a beetle.

Homology refers to essential similarity in position compared with all the other parts or organs of the body, and must be considered apart from function.

Thus, as we shall see in the next Essay a single floret of the daisy is [Pg 330] homologous with the whole flower of the buttercup. The spathe of an arum is the homologue of any bract,[97] however insignificant in size and apparently devoid of function. The foot of a horse is homologous (as we shall see later) to the middle toe only of man, while the shell of the tortoise is in part homologous with the shell of the armadillo and in part with the ribs of the latter animal.

There is no relation of homology, however remote, between the wings of a bat and of a beetle, and these two animals (as will shortly appear) have the parts and organs of their bodies so fundamentally different, that it is doubtful whether any definite relations of homology can be established between them.

A special term has been devoted to signify a resemblance between two parts in two different animals and plants, which resemblance has been induced by or is directly related to their common needs, and the similarity of external influences. This term is “homoplasy,” and structures which may thus be supposed to have grown alike in obedience to the influence of similar external causes acting on similar innate powers have been called Homoplasts.

Such, then, are the more general conditions as to structure and figure which living creatures present, and (as has been said) with great differences as to the amount of possible variation, most kinds have a definite limit as to size. It remains only to make general observations on the colours of living creatures.

But a few years ago, hardly any few general remarks of really scientific interest and value could have been made respecting the varied hues and markings which organisms present. No rational relation was even suspected to exist between the colours of plants and the busy insect life which swarms about their blossoms or about the varied colours of birds, and the details of their habits and modes of existence.

It was known, of course, that Arctic foxes and hares became white in winter, and that each benefited by its change, and suffered from the change of the other; the snow tint which enabled the hare to escape also facilitating the unobserved approach of the fox. It was also known that many desert animals were of the colour of the sandy plain they wandered over, and that tree-snakes and tree-frogs were often green. But it seemed incredible that the varied shades or bright adornments of the living world should each and all be governed by rigid laws, generally connected with the welfare of the organisms so furnished. Here, if anywhere, the reign of utilitarianism in Nature appeared to be at an end, and creative fancy to have full play, regardless but of the harmony and beauty thus revealed to appreciating eyes. The labours and fruitful thoughts of Bates and Wallace have, however, opened up a wide field for most interesting inquiry. They have made it evident that in many instances the most direct utility accompanies colour both in animals and [Pg 331] plants. The colours of flowers serve to attract insects and birds, by the visits of which they are fertilized or their fertility is greatly augmented. It is this relation between attractiveness and insect fertilization which explains the absence of colour from the flowers of plants which are fertilized only by the wind, such as the fir trees before-mentioned, oaks, beeches, nettles, sedges, and many others. It also explains the conspicuousness of the flowers of many oceanic islands, such as those of the Galapagos archipelago. But it also explains, as Mr. Wallace has pointed out, the remarkable beauty of Alpine flowers, by their need of attracting insects from a distance, the conspicuous patches of bright colour serving thus to attract wandering butterflies upwards from the valleys.

But more remarkable still is the explanation given to the semblance borne by the colours of some creatures to those of others of quite a different kind, as of some moths to bees, and some harmless flies to wasps. For now it is clear that by this mimicry they escape the attacks of many enemies, who avoid such apparently dangerous forms. On the other hand, the bright liveries of such offensive creatures are highly useful to the wearers, for such tints act as a warning to enemies, and so save them from their being pounced on by creatures which might fatally wound them, though unable to swallow them. But the beautiful liveries of such powerful predatory kinds as tigers and leopards do not serve as warnings. They serve their wearers, however, none the less, though it is by aiding their concealment, and so allowing their prey to approach them unsuspectingly to fatal nearness. For the vertical stripes of the tiger resemble the vertical shadows of the grasses of the jungle amongst which it lurks, as the scattered spots of the leopard agree with the scattered spots of shadow amongst the foliage of trees on the boughs of which it lies in wait. But to say more on this head would be to anticipate remarks to come, when the relations of living beings to one another are under consideration, and the subject is too extensive to be here treated in full. Moreover, it must be noted that such relations do not by any means serve to explain all the phenomena of organic colour. Direct action is in some curious way exerted upon many organisms, by surrounding tints, and similarly different geographical districts and varieties of locality affect directly the colour of both animals and plants, but these questions will be fully treated of under the head of the relations of animals to the physical world. Suffice it here to note that the phenomena of colour no less than the phenomena of form are in harmony with (whether or not the result of) the active agencies of all environing conditions. But colour of some kind is a universal attribute of all material things. Though apparently most irregularly distributed through the world of life, yet order underlies the seeming confusion. Of certain large groups certain tints are characteristic, as has already been remarked with respect to the great order to which the dandelion belongs. But the same remark may be made of various others, as, for example, of the order Cruciferæ (to which the wallflower and turnip belong), the flowers of which are generally [Pg 332] white, pink, or yellow, while the gentians, again, are noteworthy for exhibiting pure colours.

But the colours which predominate in the whole mass of living creatures of all kinds are tints of green, brown, or reddish-yellow. Bright colours, such as blue, scarlet, crimson, gold, or silver are exceptional, and the colour blue is especially rare. The borrowed radiance of the inorganic world, in the form of metallic brightness, is especially a characteristic of those living gems, the humming birds; but not a few other animals also exhibit it. Thus, of birds more or less gifted with metallic radiance, though in a less degree than humming birds, may be mentioned the sunbirds, the trogons, and the beautiful family of pheasants; and many insects and many fishes shine with metallic tints.

Brightness of this kind (though the leaves of a few plants have a coppery lustre) is unknown in the world of plants, in which shades of green are overwhelmingly predominant, and are universally present, except in a few exceptional forms, notably the fungi.[98]

Various aquatic animals belonging to very different groups agree in possessing a perfectly glass-like transparency. Amongst them are fish which live in the ocean; for example, the Teleostean[99] fish (Leptocephalus), also mollusca of all kinds, including even perfectly transparent cuttle fishes.[100] There are also glass-like crustaceans,[101] and also planarians[102] and sea anemones.[103] Plants, however, never present this character, although by it they might, as well as animals, escape being preyed upon.

Most fishes which inhabit the deep sea are of a dull black colour, though some are white, and the majority of all deep-sea animals, considered as a whole, are more or less decidedly coloured, many brightly so.[104]

Luminosity is a character of many lowly animals, and it is the presence of minute creatures possessing this character which so often causes the spray dashed from the prow of an advancing ship to appear like a shower of sparks, while glowing bodies traverse the water beneath its surface. Many insects, such as fire-flies and glow-worms, are notoriously luminous. In the vegetable world, however, this character is very rarely present, being only so in certain fungi, some of which exhibit a wonderful luminosity. Humboldt relates that he found this to be especially splendid in mines.

As like phenomena of colour characterize certain groups of living creatures, so also like phenomena of colour may characterize certain geographical regions being common to creatures of very different kinds which inhabit such regions, as we shall hereafter see. The brightest of [Pg 333] living things, the humming birds, have their true home in the equatorial region of America, to which continent they are exclusively confined. But it is in the equatorial region of the whole earth that we find the most brilliant birds of other kinds, the most brightly coloured reptiles and fishes, the largest and many of the loveliest butterflies, moths and beetles, the most beautiful orchids, the largest of all flowers and of all clusters of flowers.

But neither the temperate, nor even the Arctic nor Antarctic climes are denied the glory of bright tints in the long days of their brief, but sometimes fervid, summer. Indeed, the golden burst of gorse and glow of heather in our temperate zone have, in their way, an unequal charm; while every here and there Arctic lands and Alpine heights exhibit beauties of colour which are hardly elsewhere presented by the field of animated nature to the eye of man.

St. George Mivart.


[56] Contemporary Review for July, 1879, p. 678.

[57] Loc. cit., p. 704.

[58] Contemporary Review for July, 1879, p. 703.

[59] Ibid. for September, 1879, p. 27.

[60] Contemporary Review, September, 1879, pp. 33 and 43.

[61] One of the Melanospermeæ; Ibid. p. 36.

[62] Creatures belonging to the class Lammellibranchiata; see Contemporary Review, September, 1879, pp. 30 and 43.

[63] The truffle may be generally regarded rather as the fruit of a plant than as an entire plant, and yet in some of the group the rest of the plant (which is called the Mycelium) is quite rudimentary, or even absent.

[64] There are climbers in Brazil, the roots of which, descending around the trunk of the tree supporting them, clasp the latter with such a deadly embrace that it dies and decays. In the meantime, the descending roots (having become fixed in the ground) swell and meet so as to form a new and irregularly-shaped trunk of solid wood, which has thus (by an inverted process) grown downwards instead of upwards. There are other such creepers in the East which have a wide-spreading downward growth (see Wallace’s “Malay Archipelago,” vol. i. p. 131).

[65] Creatures belonging to the group Rhizopoda; see Contemporary Review for September, 1879, pp. 35 and 43.

[66] One of the lowest of the Rhizopoda; Ibid. p. 36.

[67] A class of Hypozoa; see Contemporary Review for September, 1879, pp. 35 and 43.

[68] Ibid. pp. 31 and 43.

[69] Ibid. p. 35, and Archiv für Mikroskop. Anatomie, vol. xv. Heft 3, plate xx.

[70] See Contemporary Review, September, 1879, p. 31.

[71] One of the Copepoda; see loc. cit., p. 31.

[72] See loc. cit., p. 31.

[73] Of the class Cestoidea; see loc. cit., pp. 34 and 43.

[74] Loc. cit., p. 36.

[75] Loc. cit., p. 37.

[76] Loc. cit., p. 36.

[77] All these three plants belong to the Dicotyledonous order Sesameæ, which would come between the Lobiatæ and the Orobanchaceæ of the list given on p. 42 in the Contemporary Review for September, 1879. This order contains the Sesamum orientale, the seeds of which yield sesamum or gingilie oil, principally used in the manufacture of soap. 58,940 tons of these seeds were imported into France in 1855.

[78] This and the tics belong to the class Arachnida; see Contemporary Review, September, 1879, pp. 32 and 43.

[79] For the Typhlopsidæ, see Contemporary Review, September, 1879, p. 26.

[80] Loc. cit., p. 24.

[81] Belonging to the class Ophiomorpha; see loc. cit., pp. 27 and 43.

[82] See Contemporary Review, September, 1879, p. 25.

[83] Valisneria spiralis: these are distinct male and female flowers. The male flowers are on short stalks, which break and allow their flowers to rise to the surface and there float, scattering their pollen. The female flowers grow on long coiled stalks, which uncoil and allow them to rise to the surface to be fertilized, after which the stalks recoil and withdraw them again below. This is a monocotyledonous plant of the order Hydrocharideæ.

[84] See Contemporary Review, September, 1879, p. 37.

[85] Loc. cit., p. 37.

[86] Loc. cit., p. 36.

[87] There is an ambiguity in the use of the word “cell.” By some writers it is only used to denote a particle of protoplasm with a nucleus (whether or not it is enclosed in a “cell-wall”), while such a particle without a nucleus is called by them a Cytod. By others it is used to denote any particle of protoplasm enclosed in a cell-wall, and by others, again, as denoting any distinct particle of protoplasm with or without a nucleus, and with or without a cell-wall. It is in this widest sense that it is here proposed to use the term “cell,” distinguishing, where needful, those with a nucleus or envelope as “a nucleated” or “a walled” cell.

As yet the two natures and functions of the nucleus and nucleolus are by no means cleared up. The nucleus often appears to contain a complexity of fibrils, transitory aggregations of which have been supposed to cause the appearance of nucleoli. The apparently simplest protoplasm is probably of really very complex, most minute structure.

[88] Contemporary Review, September, 1879, p. 37.

[89] Here reference may be made to the name Bathybius, which was given by Professor Huxley to a material found at the sea bottom, of great extent and indefinite shape, and which was supposed by him to be the remains of a mass of once living protoplasm, but which there is much reason now to suppose was really but inorganic material. Reference is here made to this, because some persons seem to imagine that if Bathybius were a lowly animal some important speculative consequences would follow. But this is an utter mistake. It is generally admitted already that there are living structureless protoplasmic organisms of no definite shape, and of which detached particles can live and grow. It would make no real difference whatever to the known facts of life if a creature of the kind should be found as large as the Pacific Ocean, with its portions exceptionally detachable and its shape irregular in the extreme.

[90] Contemporary Review, September, 1879, p. 37.

[91] Contemporary Review, September, 1879, p. 36.

[92] Loc. cit., pp. 37 and 43.

[93] Loc. cit., p. 34.

[94] Contemporary Review, September, 1879, pp. 35 and 43.

[95] For explanation of this application of this term see loc. cit., p. 38.

[96] Loc. cit., p. 35.

[97] A kind of leaf the nature of which as well as of spathes, florets, and flowers, will be explained in the next Essay.

[98] Contemporary Review, loc. cit., pp. 37 and 43.

[99] Teleostean fishes are generally bony, but the bones are represented by cartilages in Leptocephalus. As to teleosteans, see Contemporary Review, September, 1879, p. 27.

[100] Ibid., loc. cit., p. 30.

[101] Ibid., loc. cit., pp. 31 and 43.

[102] Ibid., loc. cit., pp. 33 and 43.

[103] Ibid., loc. cit., p. 34. As examples of transparent sea anemones, Nautactis and its allies, belonging to the Actinozoa, may be mentioned.

[104] See Moseley’s “Challenger,” p. 592.

[Pg 334]


Constantinople, Sept. 9th, 1879.

Three months have elapsed since my last letter, and were it not for the suffering people we might treat of the history of the Turkish Government during these months as so many acts in a comedy; but human suffering is never ridiculous, and those who live in the midst of it find nothing amusing in the obstinate stupidity which causes it. It is not pleasant to live among the ruins of a crumbling Empire, however picturesque these ruins may appear at a distance, and however much it may be for the interest of foreign politicians to leave them undisturbed. Whatever may be the course of contemporary thought in England, where the fate of Turkey has unfortunately become a party question, the people of Turkey can only think of it as it affects their own interests, and they desire above all things that the people of England, without distinction of party, should understand their condition as it is. This is a reasonable desire, whether anything can be done for them or not; and these letters are intended to represent contemporary life and thought in Turkey.

The Fall of Khaireddin Pacha.

Khaireddin Pacha commenced life as a Circassian slave in Tunis. He came to Constantinople last year as an exiled Prime Minister of the Bey, but possessed of immense wealth which he had accumulated while in office, and with a high reputation for learning, skill as an administrator, and devotion to the faith of Islam. He was well received by the Sultan, who often consulted him in regard to political affairs; and finally, through the influence of France and England, he was appointed Grand Vizier. But he made no friends among the Turkish Pachas, and had no party in the country. Even the most liberal of the governing class regarded him as an interloper, who had neither the ability nor the experience necessary to fit him for the place which he had secured by [Pg 335] European influence. He reciprocated their distrust, and spoke of them freely as a band of bandits. He was too good a Mussulman to attempt to build up a party among the Christians. He depended simply upon his personal influence over the Sultan and the support of the French and English Ambassadors. He succeeded in exiling all the ex-Grand Viziers, but he had still more dangerous enemies among his own colleagues, who thwarted him at every step, worked upon the fears of the Sultan, and brought the affairs of the Government to a dead-lock. He finally proposed to the Sultan a plan of Government which, under the name of reform, involved an abdication of his supreme power in favour of the Grand Vizier. This was supported by all the influence of France, England, and Austria, but opposed by the Ulema and almost the whole governing class. It led to a formal decision on the part of the Ulema, which is of far greater importance than the fall of the Grand Vizier which was the first result of it. It declared that the Sultan ruled the Empire as Caliph, that he was bound by the Sheriat or sacred law, and that he could not delegate his authority to another. Under this decision there can be no such thing as civil government in Turkey. Civil law can never take the place of the Sheriat, and the emancipation of the Christian subjects of the Porte is an impossibility. The Ulema admit the necessity of administrative reform, and recognize the fact that the Empire is in peril; but it must be a return to ancient customs, and not a recognition of the principles of European civilization. They are in favour of limiting the power of the Sultan, but it must be limited by an extension of the influence of the Ulema. This triumph of the Ulema is the one important feature of the Ministerial crisis. As Khaireddin had no party, there are few who regret his fall. As few had any faith in the influence of English moral suasion applied to the Sultan by Sir A. H. Layard, there are few who are disappointed at its failure; but it may be well to note that Sir A. H. Layard and Khaireddin Pacha have both attempted to control the Turkish Government by their personal influence over the Sultan, and have both been defeated by the stronger influence of palace intrigue. There are no doubt certain advantages in maintaining intimate personal relations with an absolute sovereign, but, in fact, no sovereign is so absolute that he cannot be to a great extent controlled by his Ministers; and the Ambassador who is intimate with the Sultan, and seeks to control his actions, is certain to excite the jealousy and opposition of the Ministers and the palace. Even with the Sultan himself, he is obliged to assume a very different tone from that which he would use in dealing with a Minister. He may smile, but he cannot frown—he may suggest, but he cannot threaten—he may persuade, but he cannot dictate—he may secure a promise, but he cannot exact its fulfilment. In the present case he has certainly failed to keep his own protégé in office, and, what is more important, he has failed to secure any modifications in the system of government. [Pg 336]

The Ulema who have triumphed in this conflict are the most powerful, compact, and thoroughly organized body in Turkey. They represent all the wealthy and influential Turkish families. They monopolize the two great departments of law and religion, and the revenues of the higher orders of the hierarchy are immense. Those who are not fanatics by nature or conviction are so by profession, and their idea of reform is a return to the good old days of the Caliph of Bagdad. The Sultan is afraid of them, and he has reason to be so. When the crisis came it was much easier and safer for him to yield to them than to follow the counsels of Sir A. H. Layard, or to abdicate in favour of Khaireddin Pacha. He could invite the former to dinner oftener than ever, and give the latter a pension. He had nothing to fear from either.

The office of Grand Vizier was abolished for the second time within two years, and a Prime Minister appointed who could be trusted to do nothing; and it is a curious fact that this office is now abolished for the sake of increasing the power of the Sultan, while it was given up two years ago for the purpose of limiting his authority and strengthening that of the Ministry. It was Achmet Vefik Pacha, the most determined and independent man in Turkey, who was then appointed Prime Minister. It is Arifi Pacha, a man who never had an idea of his own, who is now selected to fill the place; while men of strong will and reactionary proclivities like Osman Pacha and Said Pacha continue to hold their places as Ministers of War and Justice.

Sultan Murad.

It must not be supposed that all the Turks are satisfied with this triumph of the Ulema, and the rule of Osman Pacha. Those who are out of office are, of course, dissatisfied. But beyond this there is a strong party at Constantinople which favours a radical change in the Government as the only hope of saving the Empire from destruction. They would limit the power of the Sultan by a genuine Constitution, and a Representative Assembly; but they believe that this can never be accomplished under the present Sultan. The fate of Mithad Pacha is always before their eyes. Their plan is to dethrone Hamid and reinstate Murad, whose liberal views are well known, and whose health is such that he could not resist radical measures even if he did not favour them. I have no means of knowing the real strength of this party, or exactly who are its leaders, nor do I know anything more of the health of Sultan Murad than the fact that his partisans declare that he is quite as sane and strong as his brother. But there is such a party, and it is confident of ultimate success. Of course, it is not supported by the British Ambassador, as Mithad Pacha was in the overthrow of Sultan Abd-ul-Aziz; but it may have other foreign influence behind it, and it would, no doubt, result in the immediate recall of Mithad Pacha to the capital. As I am constitutionally a Conservative and opposed to [Pg 337] revolution, I have not much sympathy with this movement; but I have no doubt that, if Turkey is to be left to herself to work out her own destiny, there is more to be hoped from a Representative Assembly than from any other possible modification of the Government. Mithad Pacha’s Parliament was a surprise to the world, and not least to those who devised it. His Constitution was a fraud designed to deceive Europe. The members of his Assembly were selected by the Government, its acts were ignored. It was finally disbanded, and many of its members were imprisoned. But in spite of all this it demonstrated the fact that there was material in Turkey for an independent Assembly, which would be qualified by a little experience to control the Government, and would favour radical reforms in the administration. The governing class at Constantinople is hopelessly corrupt and effete, but men came up to this Assembly from the interior, who might in time have supplanted the present rulers, and infused new life into the administration. Those who now favour an Independent Parliament believe that the present Sultan will never consent to it, and therefore propose to reinstate Murad; but it is possible that if English moral suasion were turned in this direction, it might meet with more success than it has obtained thus far. The Ulema would probably oppose it, although they accepted it as part of the plan of Mithad Pacha. Circumstances have changed, and their experience of the last Assembly was not satisfactory.

There is no reason to suppose that Sultan Murad himself has any part in this plan, or any knowledge of it. He is kept a close prisoner, and guarded from all outside influences with the greatest care, but his name is powerful, for his misfortunes and the well-known amiability of his character have roused the sympathy of the common people in his behalf. They are inclined to regard him as their rightful sovereign, and to believe that he might save them from their present misery. They may be mistaken, but all the world sympathizes with their kindly feeling towards this unhappy prince, whose mind gave way under the burden of responsibility which was suddenly forced upon him, and the shock which he experienced at the death of his uncle and his Ministers, who was himself deposed before he had regained his faculties, and who, for no fault of his own, is doomed to spend his life as a prisoner of State.

The Progress of Reform.

We are officially assured that the change in the Ministry will in no way impede the progress of reform, which has already been carried out in the Department of Justice, and which is soon to be applied to the civil administration. The plan has already been elaborated. It has been sent to the Valis for their approval, and will soon be submitted to the Eastern Roumelia Commission, after which it will be considered by the Sultan and, if approved by him, will be proclaimed in the form of a new Hatt. It professes to be a plan for a reorganization of the [Pg 338] Vilayets, on the principle of decentralization and local self-government. It does not seem to excite much interest in any quarter, probably for the reason that all this exists already on paper, and that if Aali Pacha could not execute the elaborate scheme, which he proclaimed when the Vilayets were organized, there is not much probability that the new Hatt will be any more effective. The people of Turkey have no faith in paper reforms. They are issued as easily as paper money, and are as easily repudiated; they are like leading articles in the daily papers—they are written, read, and forgotten, alike by the author and the reader, within the twenty-four hours. There is an old proverb current among the Turks which says, “The decrees of the Sultan last three days—the day they are made, the day they are kept, and the day they are forgotten.” If the proverb were a new one, the second day would be omitted.

The reforms which have been completed by Said Pacha, the Minister of Justice, are not of a nature to encourage the hopes of the people. A large number of new officials have been appointed, but they are of the same class as those already in office. Indeed, there seems to have been a special purpose in these appointments of making it known to the people that no change was to be expected in the method of administering the law. Only seventeen out of one hundred and eighty-three of these new officials are Christians, and the Turkish papers take pains to declare that it is absurd to suppose that Christians are competent to hold these offices. This is the result of the demand of Lord Salisbury that the Courts of the Empire should be reorganized under European control. They will continue to be what they have been, and it will be but a small consolation to the suffering people of Turkey to know that they have been condemned in strong terms by the British Government. The worst feature of the case is that the law offers no man any protection against arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. A man may be thrown into prison and kept there for years without any trial or any knowledge of the charges brought against him. Such cases are very common. Or he may he beaten by the police, or chained in a dungeon, on the most frivolous charge. I knew a case the other day of a Greek who was severely beaten because he requested a police officer to arrest a Turk who was plundering his shop in broad day. All this was done in the presence of a European gentleman, too. There are several Armenians in prison now in Constantinople whose only offence was the wearing of hats in place of the fez. At the same time, crimes of every description are committed with impunity without any apparent effort on the part of the authorities to discover the perpetrators. Almost in sight of Constantinople, and under the immediate jurisdiction of the capital, is a district where for months the peaceful inhabitants of Adabazar have been plundered and murdered by the Circassians. They have appealed again and again to Constantinople for protection. They have tried to interest the Ambassadors in their behalf. They sent a deputation to the Grand Vizier. He had no time to see them, but [Pg 339] turned them over to another official who requested them to present him in writing a statement of the reforms which they thought were needed in the Empire! A few hundred soldiers, or even one determined man sent from Constantinople, would have restored order; but nothing could be done. Five men were murdered while the deputation was in this city. The whole Turkish coast of the Black Sea is infested with brigands who plunder at will. They are well known, but no one thinks of arresting or punishing them. Travellers are only secure when they are provided with a safe-conduct from the leaders. The Reports of the new Consuls in Asia Minor acknowledge a state of things which is almost too bad to be believed. There is no security in the administration of the law for person, property, or life, and there seems to be no prospect of any improvement. Some more radical reform is needed than the appointment of one hundred and sixty-six new Turkish judges.

A scheme of financial reform has also been projected, and the foreign Embassies have been invited to nominate a certain number of persons as inspectors to superintend the collection of the revenue; but this is nothing new. The Imperial Ottoman Bank has nominally held this position for many years, and at times has exercised some control, no doubt with advantage to the Government. A new system of taxation, carried out under the control of honest and responsible Europeans, would increase the revenue of the Government without adding to the burdens of the people; but the place where reform is most needed is in the expenditure rather than the collection of the revenue. The present scheme does not command confidence in Constantinople in regard to the collection of the taxes, and it offers no security for the control of the expenses of the Government. The truth is that the whole financial system is hopelessly corrupt, and, however it may be patched or mended, it will be rotten still. There is no hope for the Turkish Government until it is ready to put its finances into the hands of competent Europeans who shall have absolute control over everything connected with expenditure as well as collection; and I am sorry to say that there seems to be no present prospect of any such arrangement. The enormous expenditure of the Palace is unlimited and uncontrolled, and the Sultan will not submit to any control. Financial reform must begin there, or it will amount to nothing. The present Sultan before he came to the throne was known to be a very careful and economical man, and no doubt he would be glad to be so now, but he has not the courage to break with the traditions of the past—give up his thousands of slaves, women, and palace officials, and live like a European sovereign rather than an Oriental despot. So long as he maintains the present system he must have money, no matter who starves for want of it; and he must continue to take money, on his personal order, from whatever department of the Government may be so happy as to have any in its treasury. [Pg 340]

The Government is bankrupt; its revenues are not half enough to meet its current expenses; its army is starving; its civil service forced to live on plunder; its income mortgaged for years in advance to secure loans on which it is paying thirty or forty per cent. interest in one form or another; but still no one would dare to suggest to the Sultan the possibility of his reducing his own expenses to a sum equal to that expended by the Queen of England. Thus far all talk of financial reform is prompted by the desire to borrow more money in Europe to meet the present wants of the Government. These difficulties once surmounted, everything would go on as before. It is no friendship to Turkey to lend her money, until such time as the Sultan and his Ministers are ready for a real reform, beginning at the Palace, and conducted under the control of Europeans appointed and supported by their own Governments. But there is no prospect of any such arrangement.

The Turks do not appreciate the dangers which beset them. They see that the country is in an unsettled state, and they feel the want of money; but the evils of which the people complain are nothing new. They exist now in an aggravated form, on account of the war and the confusion which has reigned for several years at Constantinople; but the Turks see no reason why they should not be reduced to a normal state, and be quietly endured for centuries to come, as they have been for centuries past. Their attention is directed exclusively to their foreign relations, and whatever is said or done about reform is intended solely to conciliate public opinion in Europe. Could the rulers here be brought face to face with a really independent Representative Assembly, freely chosen by the people, they would be made to think less of Europe and more of Turkey. They would see that their rule has become well-nigh intolerable, even to the Mussulman population of the Empire. Then there would be some hope of genuine administration and financial reform. It is even possible that the Christian element in such an Assembly might be strong enough to secure, in time, the emancipation of the non-Mussulman population—and it should never be forgotten that this must come in some form. England does not insist upon it now, but she will, and so will all Europe. It would be far better for Turkey if it could be brought about by the Christians themselves; but if it is not, it will be forced upon the Turks by direct European intervention, or possibly by the overthrow of the Empire.

The Egyptian Crisis.

The affairs of Egypt have been so fully discussed in England that it is unnecessary for me to do more than to indicate the course of thought on this subject at Constantinople. At the outset, the Sultan and his Ministers sympathized with the Khedive. They feared that European intervention at Cairo would pave the way for a similar intervention here; and when he appealed to the Sultan he had reason to expect his support. But the Turks thought they saw their opportunity [Pg 341] to regain their hold on Egypt, and the Khedive was summarily removed. The Turkish papers here did not hesitate to rejoice over it as a “new conquest of Egypt,” and it is still believed here that this view of the subject was encouraged by England, that it was the purpose of Lord Beaconsfield to escape from the embarrassing demands of France by restoring Egypt to the control of the Sultan.

But when the Turks found that they had been misled or mistaken, and that Egypt was less than ever under their control, they regretted the steps which had been taken, and began once more to sympathize with the Khedive whom they had deposed. He was very liberal in his expenditure of money at Constantinople, and always found it for his interest to maintain a host of retainers here; but the new Khedive will have no money to spend here, and will need agents in Paris and London rather than in Constantinople. The tribute-money no longer comes here, but is paid to bondholders in England and France. There is no hope of putting any more Turks into lucrative offices in Egypt. In short, the connection of that country with Turkey is no longer anything more than nominal, and the Turks feel their disappointment very keenly. They have now but one hope left. They understand very well the difficulties which must arise from a joint protectorate by France and England, and hope that the mutual jealousies of these Powers may throw Egypt once more into the hands of Turkey. The tone of the French press, even of so cautious and conservative a periodical as the Revue des Deux Mondes, gives them some ground for this hope; but the Khedive lost his throne by giving too much importance to this mutual jealousy, which manifested itself much more plainly in Egypt than it did in Europe; and it is to be hoped that the Turks will be equally disappointed. Every one in the East regards the present situation as impracticable and temporary, but it may result in the independence of Egypt under a general European protectorate, or in a further division of the Ottoman Empire by the annexation of Egypt to England and Syria to France. The opportunity of annexing Egypt without compensation to France was lost when England refused to listen to the suggestions of Germany three years ago, because, as Lord Derby is reported to have said, it would have shocked the moral sense of the world.

The Greek Question.

The Greek Question is not a simple one. Very few questions connected with the East are simple. The aspirations of the kingdom of Greece are natural. Her appeal to Europe was justifiable, and there can be no question of the advantage which it would be to Greece, and to the populations of Epirus, Thessaly, and Crete, if these provinces were annexed to the kingdom. If this were all, they would be annexed, and all the world would rejoice. It is to be regretted that the Congress of Berlin did not shut its eyes to other considerations and settle it [Pg 342] off-hand in this way; but they did not, and no Power now exists which can do so.

These provinces belong to Turkey, and she cannot see that it is for her interest to give them up. Greece cannot possibly offer her anything in return for them, and, as against Turkey, she has no claim upon them. The Congress of Berlin advised Turkey to arrange, by friendly negotiation, for the cession of a part of them; but there is really no ground upon which a negotiation can be based. Turkey is ready to yield something out of respect to Europe, but she naturally wishes to give up as little as possible. Then there are other Powers interested. Austria and Italy, but especially the former, have their own views of the destiny of European Turkey, and their own plans of aggrandizement. Albania and Macedonia have to be considered. England, France, and Russia, also, are looking forward to the future, and questioning how the settlement of this question will affect their plans for the final solution of the Eastern Question. Here is room for intrigues without end, and complications without limit.

The Greeks are indignant, especially against England and Austria; and their papers here have used some very disagreeable language. They are now solemnly protesting against the right of Sir A. H. Layard and Count Zichy to take a short vacation, so long as this question remains unsettled. Some of them seem to believe that Osman Pacha really contemplates a reconquest of Greece itself, and that England might consent to it. All this is absurd; but there can be no doubt about the fact that England and Austria have thus far opposed the claims of Greece, and that Austria and Turkey have, each in her own way, contributed to excite discontent in Albania, and keep up a state of anarchy in Macedonia. A leading paper in Vienna, ten days ago, openly declared that it was the intention of Austria to push on to Salonica, after taking possession of Novi Bazaar. She certainly has very little sympathy with Greece, and if this question is to be settled at all she will keep the Greeks as far from Salonica as possible.

The Turkish papers are allowed to discuss this question with perfect freedom, and one of the most moderate, the Djeridei-Havadis, says:—

“If the Hellenic Kingdom is desirous of avoiding a war with the Albanians, it ought to follow the line of conduct proposed by the Porte. If it acts in opposition to it, a war will follow which can only result in ruin, as has happened before. If the Porte had only to satisfy Greece, it is probable that it would show itself yielding, but the Imperial Government cannot, with a light heart, provoke a conflict and see the blood of its subjects poured out, for the Albanians have decided to defend their country, arms in hand. It is astonishing that Europe, in seconding the demands of Greece, completely forgets the rights of the Albanians.”

The Commission appointed to settle this question is now in session at Constantinople, and some arrangement may be made, but the current opinion in the city, among both Greeks and Turks, is that neither party will yield anything. Another meeting is to be held to-morrow; and if [Pg 343] the Greeks are ready to give up Janina, a settlement is possible—in spite of the Albanians. The impression is that they will not fight, although the Greeks in Thessaly and Epirus have roused their hostility, and have failed to do anything to conciliate them in past years. They have an honest fear of being Hellenized by force, and although they have little sympathy for the Turkish Government, and are constantly quarrelling among themselves, they still have a strong national pride, and they may take up arms in good earnest. If they do, it will be a serious matter for Greece.

The Principality of Bulgaria.

Bulgaria is enjoying a brief period of comparative repose. The Russians have left the country. The Prince has assumed the reins of Government. The people are busy with their harvests, and, except in certain districts where the disbanded soldiers of the Turkish army have taken to brigandage, there is peace and quiet everywhere, and there is no reason to fear anything more disquieting than the excitement of a general election.

The Principality has a great advantage over Eastern Roumelia, in that it has secured its independence, and can work out its destiny by itself, without any interference on the part of the Turks or of an European Commission; but both Prince and people are without experience, and there are no popular leaders who have any practical knowledge of government. The people are jealous of their newly-acquired rights, and naturally opinionated and disputatious. The coming elections will no doubt cause great political excitement, and the new Assembly will not be very easily managed, or be likely to win the admiration of Europe by its wisdom. It should be remembered, however, that this lack of experience is the misfortune and not the fault of the Bulgarians, and that Europe has not dealt with them in a way to win their confidence and command their respect. It has left them with a grievance which they can never forget for a moment, which must influence all their political action, and which forces them to maintain intimate relations with Russia, which is not a country where they can learn political wisdom, although it has given them a Constitution which is a model of liberality. There was nothing in the Russian administration of the province which was adapted to prepare them for such a Constitution, or teach them how to conduct a free and liberal government. Prince and people have to begin everything for themselves. Indeed, they are probably worse off than they would have been if there had been no civil administration attempted in the province by the Russians. An army of occupation of any country is unfitted for the organization of civil government. This was attempted on a grand scale in the Southern States of America after the civil war, and under exceptionally favourable circumstances, but all these civil governments, established and fostered by military force, were unsatisfactory while they continued, and disappeared when the army was withdrawn. If this was a work which could not be accomplished by the [Pg 344] United States, and by an army which was made up chiefly of civilians, it is not strange that, with all possible goodwill, the Czar of Russia failed to establish a satisfactory civil administration in Bulgaria. He gave them as good a Prince as was to be found in the German market, and as liberal a Constitution as any in Europe. He maintained order and protected all classes as long as his soldiers remained in the country; but the whole administration was necessarily Russian in its spirit and methods, and altogether unlike what it ought to be under the new Constitution. The Bulgarians who were trained under it will have to unlearn much that they have learned, and begin anew, or they will fail to satisfy the people. All this is the misfortune rather than the fault of the nation, and it has a right to expect that Europe will be patient and friendly, while it gains by experience the wisdom which no nation has ever acquired in any other way.

Prince Alexander is young, and as inexperienced as his people, but those who know him best have confidence in his good sense, and he is said to be not unlike the late Prince Albert in character. He will need all his good qualities to attain success; and if successful, he will certainly deserve to be ranked with the Prince Consort and King Leopold. His work certainly involves more self-denial than either of theirs, and not less tact and good sense. He was no doubt elected through the influence of Russia; but he is no mere creature of the Czar, and has no desire to act as a Russian agent. On the contrary, he is heartily in sympathy with the liberal ideas of the West, and anxious to secure the goodwill of England. Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Palgrave, the English Consul-General, this does not seem to the Bulgarians so hopeless a task as it once did.

The Prince was received by his people with the greatest enthusiasm. No sovereign was ever more heartily welcomed, and each stage of his journey was a new triumph. He probably appreciated this all the more from the fact that his visit to Constantinople was made as disagreeable as possible. He was first refused permission to come at all, on the pretence that his life would be in danger. This plea was too absurd to deceive any one, but it might have caused serious difficulty if he had not appealed to the Great Powers, and at the same time manifested a disposition to conciliate the Porte by proposing to limit his stay at Constantinople to a visit of a few hours. He arrived in the Bosphorus in the morning, and left in the afternoon. He was received by the Sultan, but was told that owing to the pressure of business his Firman was not ready, and could not be delivered to him. No Bulgarian was allowed to approach him, and no boat allowed to go out to his steamer. Large bodies of troops were stationed along his route and about the Russian Embassy, and he was treated very much like a prisoner of State. It is not easy to understand why this farce was played by the Turks, or what they expected to gain by it. They probably refused the permission in the first place with the intention of treating him as an ordinary [Pg 345] Turkish Vali, and sending his Firman to be read in public at Tirnova by a Turkish official; but after the failure of this plan there was no obvious reason for treating him as they did at Constantinople. Some have supposed that it was intended as a studied insult to the Prince, others that it was an elaborate practical joke played upon the Russian Embassy, which had at one time suggested that it was unnecessary for the Prince to come to Constantinople, as other vassal Princes had always done. But whatever may have been the motive which prompted this singular treatment, it only served to make the reception of the Prince the next day at Varna more impressive, and to give more importance to the wild enthusiasm of his new subjects, who could not have received him with greater joy if he had himself just delivered them from the hated rule of the Turks. He was inaugurated at Tirnova, the ancient capital, and then went at once to Sofia, the new seat of government. His first difficulty was the choice of a Ministry. Two parties had already been developed in the Constitutional Assembly which adopted the Constitution and elected the Prince. They grew out of a difference of opinion in regard to religious liberty, freedom of the press, the right of association, with other similar questions, and at once assumed the names, Conservative and Liberal. The Conservative party included the clergy of the Bulgarian Church, and some of the best educated and most enlightened Bulgarians, who felt that too much liberty was a dangerous thing for a people brought so suddenly from bondage to freedom—who feared that the country would be flooded with Nihilism, Socialism, and all other isms. The Liberal party, however, had a large majority in the Assembly, and was led with considerable skill by two or three experienced politicians, who were wise enough to avoid extreme measures. When the Prince arrived, he attempted to form a Ministry which should include the leaders of both these parties; but for some reason the majority of those selected were Conservatives, and the Liberals declined to serve with them, so that he has a Conservative Ministry, with the probability that the new Assembly will have a strong Liberal majority. This is an unfortunate beginning, as the party conflict which is likely to ensue will probably weaken the influence of some of the best men in the nation, who are really Liberal in their views, but who fear that absolute liberty will degenerate into license and sap the foundations of religion and morality. They do not think that the people are ready for “a free Church in a free State.” They fail to see that the influence of the Church can only be strengthened by educating the clergy and reviving their spiritual life. The Bulgarians are naturally a religious people; but, both while they were under the Greek Patriarch, and since they have received their independence, their Church has been an essentially political organization. It needs now to be spiritualized. The best men of both parties acknowledge this; but, as in all other countries, there is a difference of opinion as to how far it should be defended and supported by the State. [Pg 346]

I have said that this division of parties was an unfortunate beginning for this new State, but after all it is far better that there should be real living questions before the people than that politics should degenerate into a new struggle for office. The very discussion of these questions will tend to educate the people and revive the Church, and it will probably be found that when a new Liberal Ministry is formed the responsibilities of office will make it as conservative in most respects as the present Government. The Prince has the confidence of all the people, and will no doubt accept the result of the coming elections as a Constitutional sovereign, and then direct the attention of the people to other questions of the utmost importance concerning the organization of the various departments of the Government. No doubt serious difficulties will be encountered and mistakes will be made, but the spirit of the people is good. They desire good order, peace, and quiet, and they will make every effort to secure it. They merit the sympathy and goodwill of all civilized nations, and especially of those who believe in free government and liberal institutions.

Eastern Roumelia.

The condition of affairs in Eastern Roumelia is much less hopeful, as the difficulties encountered in the organization of the Government are very much greater and more numerous. North of the Balkans they are only such as might be experienced by any new Representative Government in any civilized country, but in the nondescript province of Roumelia the people are suffering from evils inflicted upon them by the Congress of Berlin. Everything is unsettled. No one knows who rules the country, or what is the form of government. It seems to be for the interest of certain parties to prolong this state of things and introduce as much disorder as possible. The people are kept in a constant state of excitement, and no one knows what to expect from one day to another. The Congress of Berlin is primarily responsible for this, and no doubt it was for the interest of Austria to keep up a state of anarchy and confusion in European Turkey. It was her plan to absorb the European provinces herself, and the way must be kept open to Salonica and if possible to Constantinople. It is believed here that England went to Berlin with a secret agreement to support these pretensions of Austria, but no one sees exactly how England is to profit by this arrangement. It is certain that no one in Turkey gained anything by the division of Bulgaria, but the evils which have resulted would have been much less if in addition to this division the Congress had not devised the extraordinary scheme of giving different forms of Government to the two Bulgarias. This plan, of course, insured the permanent discontent of the whole Bulgarian nation, but, worse than this, it made the impression upon the Turks and Greeks that the arrangement for Eastern Roumelia was only a temporary one, and that by skilful agitation they might overturn it. They have not failed to [Pg 347] improve this opportunity. The Phanariote and Roumelian Greeks are doing everything in their power to create disturbance and cause difficulty in Eastern Roumelia. An unceasing torrent of abuse is poured out upon the Bulgarians by the Greek papers and their French organ the Phare du Bosphore. They are full of false statements and misrepresentations of every kind, and a portion of the Greeks in the province act in full sympathy with these papers. Free Greece does not sympathize with this crusade, and an attempt was made a few weeks since to induce the Greeks here to come to an understanding with the Bulgarian Church, by withdrawing the excommunication and arranging for harmonious co-operation. It is understood that the Patriarch was in favour of this, but the Greek papers here opposed it with a violence which was incomprehensible to the uninitiated. They declared that “the maintenance of the schism was the only hope of Hellenism,” and appealed to the Porte to prevent by force a reconciliation “which would inevitably result in the union of Greeks and Bulgarians to drive out the Turks and divide the country between them,” This opposition on the part of the Phanariotes prevented the execution of the plan.

The Turks also are doing what they can to create disturbance in the province, and find some excuse for occupying it with their army. This was, of course, to be expected, and is in some degree excusable. They naturally wish to regain possession of this rich province, and they feel that they have cause of complaint against the Bulgarians, who do not receive the returning refugees with much cordiality. There are real difficulties on both sides which cannot fail to give rise to serious trouble. It is a pity that the whole arrangement could not have been left to a really impartial Commission, free to act on principles of equity and common sense. The difficulties are such as these, for example. There are many towns where the Bulgarian quarter was burned by the Turks. When the Turks fled and the Bulgarians returned, they occupied the Turkish houses, and they are now naturally disinclined to give them up to the refugees and camp in the fields. Again, there are many cases where the Bulgarians were deprived of their lands in the most iniquitous manner some years ago, under the pretence of a new law in regard to title-deeds. These lands were seized by rich Turks, who fled during the war, but now come back to claim them. The Bulgarians have the original titles and the Turks new ones. To whom do the lands rightly belong?

There are other cases where Turks return who are known to have taken part in the massacres. There has been a general amnesty, but it can hardly be expected that these persons will be well received. These are only a few of the many difficulties connected with the return of the refugees which irritate the Turks and the Bulgarians both; and in some cases both parties merit our sympathy.

In addition to these deliberate attempts to make trouble on the part of the Turks, Greeks, and also of some few hot-headed Bulgarians who [Pg 348] are foolish enough to suppose that a disturbance might hasten their union with the Principality, the confusion in the Government is a source of constant trouble. No one knows what the Government is. The Porte claims supreme authority, and sends peremptory orders to the Pacha. The Pacha naturally considers himself the head of the Government. The European Commission claims the right to exercise control whenever it sees fit. The Consuls assume the right to intrigue or to dictate in the name of their respective Governments. The Administrative Council, a majority of which is Bulgarian, considers itself to be responsible for the administration, and there is a Constitution of hundreds of articles which is theoretically the law of the land. A National Assembly is soon to be added to the list. The militia have been under the command of a Levantine Frenchman, who was not responsible to the Governor, and who does not appear to have had a single qualification for his office. Happily he has just been replaced by a better man.

Having inflicted all this confusion upon Eastern Roumelia, the European Powers are complaining that the people do not know how to govern themselves! Perhaps they do not, but as yet they have had no opportunity to make the experiment. If peace and quiet is ever to be restored to this unhappy province, the Government must be simplified and consolidated; it must be left to manage its own affairs, and to make the best it can of the elaborate Constitution which Europe has conferred upon it. Alecko Pacha is not a great man, but he was the best man available for his position, and he is a man who is much more likely to throw up his office in disgust at the trouble which it gives him than to lend himself to any scheme for resisting the will of Europe. He ought to be encouraged and supported. The Bulgarians, who constitute the majority of the population, are discontented at the arbitrary action which separated them from the Principality, but they are satisfied that they have nothing to gain from any present agitation of this question, and they only desire to be left to govern themselves in accordance with the decision of Europe, and to be assured that they will not be turned over again to the tender mercies of the Turkish Government. The fear of this is universal, and it is this fear which keeps them in a state of constant excitement. It is not without reason. A large Turkish army is camped on their borders. The Porte is seeking some excuse for entering the province. Certain European representatives at Philippopolis are always threatening this, and the people believe that they are intriguing to bring it about. Everything is in confusion and uncertainty in regard to the Government, and nothing seems settled. There can be no peace and quiet in a country which is in constant fear of invasion, and something ought to be done to remove this fear from Eastern Roumelia. The Turkish army should certainly be removed, and the Porte should be warned to let Alecko Pacha alone and allow him to organize his Government as best he can. If this [Pg 349] source of fear and irritation were removed, the Bulgarians would accept the situation and make the best of it. It would be for their interest to do so, and an industrious, thrifty population is always quick to see what is for its interest.

The gymnastic clubs, which were originally formed for another purpose, are now kept up and supported by sober, conservative men, simply from this fear of a Turkish invasion. If the fear were removed these associations would be dissolved at once, as they ought to be; for Bulgarian merchants are not in the habit of spending money for anything which is not essential to their well-being. These clubs are not revolutionary, but they might become a source of disorder if they were made permanent.

It is not probable that the European Powers will allow any invasion of the country; but the Turks have always in hand the pretence of sending troops to occupy the Balkans, and this fact to some extent justifies the fears of the Bulgarians. If there were danger of another Russian invasion, the Turks would be fully justified in occupying the passes at once, and there is nothing in Eastern Roumelia to prevent or even delay such an occupation; but under present circumstances, when there is nothing to be feared from Russia—when peace and quiet is the thing of all others to be desired—the occupation of the Balkans would be a crime.

An Eastern Statesman.

[Pg 350]



(Under the Direction of Professor E. H. Palmer.)

Colonel Malleson certainly did well to claim permission to rewrite Sir John Kaye’s last volume (History of the Indian Mutiny, by Colonel Malleson, Vol. I., London: W. H. Allen & Co.), and comparison of the two may afford to the historian of the future valuable aid in interpreting the volumes yet to come. A great part of the present must be held to be the work of the virulent pamphleteer and violent partisan rather than of the historian; and if the quotations of, and references to, the Red Pamphlet indicate relations between Colonel Malleson and its author, the publishers cannot be held to have exercised a wise discretion in their choice.

The task of the reviewer of such a book is unusually heavy. Book for book, almost chapter for chapter, it is intended to replace Sir John Kaye’s work, and the reviewer therefore needs to study the two carefully, and to compare them minutely. Colonel Malleson, no doubt, had access to Sir John Kaye’s materials, but within a certain field seems to have been unable to see the other side of any question. To arm, to leave Sepoys armed, is simply to detain European troops to watch them; it is nothing that to disarm them is to drive them, and all their connections, wild with terror as sheep marked for the slaughter; yet he cannot be ignorant of the cases in which a few bad men committed a regiment, and how whole regiments “went” in terror of their masters’ vengeful distrust.[105] In saying, as he does so confidently, that by enrolling the Calcutta Volunteers on their first offer, on 20th May, Lord Canning would have set free half a European regiment, Colonel Malleson must have been thinking of what the Volunteers might have been fit to do had they been enrolled and drilled six months before,—provided they had been willing to take the day-work of garrison duty, and to think more of the State than of the house and furniture at Ballygunj: the real profit of the enrolment was the confidence and cheerfulness organization gave to the Europeans themselves. And—to take a more important instance—the “Gagging Act” was an insolent expression of distrust of Englishmen, an attempt to prevent their opinions reaching England in print. For distrust of their discretion English editors had given cause enough, and for influencing English opinion, as Indian newspapers may be said to be unknown in England in their original sheets, a letter from the editor of the Friend of India to any English paper would have been as sure of English readers, and of as much weight with them, as if it had been set up in the damp printing-house at Serampore.

Colonel Malleson quotes from the “Red Pamphlet,” as Sir John Kaye had done before him, a smart description of “Panic Sunday.” From Colonel Cavanagh’s [Pg 351] report it seems pretty clear that the higher classes—the “society”—of Calcutta were not among the refugees in the fort, and as Secretaries to Government and Members of Council may be counted on the fingers, it would be as well if the historian would name the fugitives before death takes all who could answer the charge. We have had access to the diary of a young civilian, then a guest of the Member of Council who lived furthest from Government House, away in Alipore, beyond the house of the Lieutenant-Governor and the great jail of Alipore and the lines of the native regiment which was the great terror of Calcutta: on that Sunday, host and guest went to the Cathedral twice as usual, and after the evening service the guest returned home, while the host drove to Calcutta to call on some cousins; as the cousins had driven to Alipore, and the visitors at both houses waited a while those households at least were afoot till a later hour than usual, and at last went to bed as usual without closing an extra door.

The second chapter closes with an impassioned peroration, wherein the removal of Mr. William Tayler from his post at Patna is likened to the judicial murder of Lally, and the starvation of Dupleix. It is clear enough, from Colonel Malleson’s account, that Mr. Tayler liked to carry out his own plans too well to risk interference by over-frankness to his superiors. In the face of an enemy such concealment may be as mischievous as disobedience, and Sir John Kaye reminds us that at an earlier date confidence in Mr. Tayler’s judgment had been shaken; and his report of his message to his district officers, the report which immediately preceded, and probably led to, his suspension, says nothing of the clause which sets the treasure above anything save human life. Under any circumstances Mr. Tayler’s defence is not helped by sharp censures on Mr. Money, or by blindness to the fact that the best intelligence made a march to Patna seem more perilous than the far longer one through a jungle country to Calcutta. Wise after the event, indeed, we may see that Mr. Tayler’s forecast was sounder than Mr. Halliday’s; but the Lieutenant-Governor, and Lord Canning too, could only act on the circumstances known to them, and Mr. Tayler was replaced by an officer of yet higher rank in the official hierarchy, and probably forestalled renewed promotion by resigning the Service as soon as he could get a pension. But why were not his services rewarded? asks Colonel Malleson, ready with the hard word “intrigue.” But who were the sharers in the intrigue, and who was to profit by it? Men whom Lord Canning sharply rebuked and degraded were yet recommended by him for honour, and no courteous letter from Mr. Talbot can do away with the fact that the Viceroy, writing when all heat of strife was over and all facts known, yet did not obtain for Mr. Tayler any distinction.

On one point, however, we are bound to protest against Sir John Kaye’s harsh judgment: to him the arrest of the Wahabi leaders was a scandalous breach of the usages of war. But they were unquestionably subjects of the British Crown, and the question surely is—would they have resisted arrest by ordinary process or not? If not, they had to thank Mr. Tayler for courteous consideration in arresting them himself, and detaining them in honourable captivity; in resisting they would have been guilty of that rebellion against their sovereign in which there was too good reason to believe them sharers.

On the many points whereon both authors are in substantial accord it would be waste of space to touch, and we pass to the other important episode in which Colonel Malleson traverses Sir John Kaye’s judgment, and here our verdict is with the later author: in treating of Durand’s conduct at Indore, Colonel Malleson seems to have risen above the region of personal feeling, if not of personal knowledge; so that while his full and vivid narrative shows plainly the difficulties, political and strategical, of Durand’s position and also of his retreat, he shows as clearly that it is no simple case of Durand versus Holkar, but one in which each may be commended without loss of credit to the other.

So much space has been of necessity devoted to the chief points on which the two authors are at variance, that none is left for the transactions which Colonel Malleson’s changed arrangement brings into the present volume, though Kaye had intended for them a place in some later one. His work in the new field makes us only the more regret that he did not bring to his task the unbiassed mind of a man who had never known the author of the Red Pamphlet or Mr. William Tayler. But we would, in a concluding word, beg him to revise his Indian spelling; to a man who has once felt the charm of a fancy rule the claims of established usage go for nothing, but at all events he may be decently consistent; why does Colonel Malleson double so many letters which in Urdu are single, and why does he spell the name of the ancient and famous, if now obscure, town of Jaunpore as though it were “the City of Life”? [Pg 352]

Captain Low’s History of the Indian Navy (2 vols., London: Bentley & Son) has long been reproachfully demanding notice; it is easy to say something about such a work, not easy to treat it worthily. A man could hardly put together 1100 pages of small type without recording many noteworthy facts, but all matters of interest might have been packed in much smaller compass, and so packed would have found more readers and a more favourable verdict.

The two volumes trace the rise and fall of the Navy from its germ in the “ten grabs and galivats” taken up for the defence of the factory and shipping of Surat in 1615, through the period of its glory when its ships bore the Company’s flag alongside of the Royal Navy on many hard-fought days, through its decline, when they carried mails or transported troops with rare enjoyment of a brush, to its abolition in our own time, when, less fortunate than its sister service, it fell a victim to mutiny and disorders in which it had no share.

The first period in its history ends with the year 1759, when, with the capture of Gheriah, and the destruction of Angria’s power, piracy as a business of State came to an end, and when the ruin of the Seedee, and the substitution of the Company as High Admiral of the Mogul Empire, placed the local Marine first among the maritime powers of India. Its first serious service was in the operations which broke the power of the Portuguese in the Gulf, and in 1622 reduced Ormuz from an emporium of proverbial wealth and magnificence to its normal condition of a poor barren island, and for many years the Portuguese found it as much occupation as the pirates who might well have been its first concern. No doubt the captains of well-armed India-men, whose crews were borrowed for service on grabs and galivats, looked down on the latter as a sort of coastguard, but the aid of such light craft was invaluable against the shoals of small vessels which beset new-comers fore and aft, pouring down crowds of well-armed men from their long overhanging prows. For in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the shores of the Indian Ocean swarmed with pirates, kept down indeed by the Portuguese in the heyday of their power, but making head again till, by the middle of the seventeenth century, according to Italian travellers, they feared none but Dutch and English, and these only for a pestilent practice of firing the magazine rather than surrender. Yet to the Mogul governor of Surat probably the pirate of home growth was less objectionable than the intrusive trader; and indeed the Nuwab was not without excuse if he regarded the European as a more powerful pirate, seeing that some commanders took by force goods which the native owner would not sell, others ransacked ships not said to belong to the Mogul’s ports, the mutinous crews of others became open pirates; and lastly, we find Captain Kidd, and other heroes of the black flag, practising their vocation in these seas. The native pirate, the European rival, and the professional rover, kept the local marine pretty well employed, but it is not always easy to distinguish between the services of this body and the Company’s armed trading ships.

Of more interest to the Mogul Government than foreign trade were the vessels in which Mahomedan pilgrims of all ranks sailed to Arabian and Persian shrines, and for their benefit it came to terms with the Seedee, better known to us as the Hubshi of Jinjirah, the boldest of the pirates, giving him a large allowance and high rank to secure his convoy. The Company made more than one attempt to supplant him, and indeed furnished ships to guard the Mocha-Jeddah fleet in 1698, but the Seedee kept his office till 1759; in the general decay of the central power he first neglected, then openly defied, the Governor of Surat, and instead of protecting trade became its chief oppressor; till at last, in 1759, after much negotiation, the Nuwab induced the Bombay Government to intervene, and as a reward obtained for the Company the Seedee’s office. What direct profit the Company derived from the appointment Captain Low does not tell us; the omission can hardly be the consequence of the lamented destruction of papers which followed the sale of the old India House, for he records that in 1694 the Seedee’s subsidy amounted to four lacs, no doubt considerably bettered by presents, and in 1735 the money allowance was but a lac and a half: the revenues of the districts and customs assigned to the Company went to support the Surat squadron, but the fees of office granted to the officer who was its deputy amounted, to near a lac of rupees a year; it is well to remember that the holder’s gross pay was but Rs.1,000 a year, that the Governor of Bombay had but some £500, and that till near the end of the century private trade was allowed: no one, however, was permitted to enjoy this great prize for a second year. Whatever were the profits to the Company, the Nuwab could see that it did more for its wages than the Seedee, for in the next nine years the Surat squadron destroyed near a hundred pirate vessels of the Gulfs of Cutch and Cambay.

After another seventy years the Bombay Marine became in name what, as the only [Pg 353] local armed fleet, it had long been in fact—the Indian Navy. Wherever round the basin of the Indian Ocean there had been fighting in those years, the vessels of the Bombay Marine had borne the British flag with honour, though the services of officers and crews, both afloat and ashore, had been too sparingly recognised. And in those years was commenced the series of surveys which are still the chief authorities for the navigation of the Eastern seas, and have given the names of Rennie, Moresby, Haines, and Taylor a permanent place in history. But men who entered the Bombay Marine were still serving efficiently when the Indian Navy was abolished, in the belief that ships of the Royal Navy would carry on the police of the seas as efficiently, but at less annual cost, and that other arrangements might be made for the business of inland navigation and transport; the necessity for recurrent shore surveys seems not to have been foreseen, though already a special department has been created and placed under a retired officer of the Indian Navy. It is impossible not to admit that, through its want of influential friends, the Service was treated unjustly. The guarantee of “Colonel Sykes’s clause” has, through repeated agitation, been made so effectual for officers of the Indian Army that men of forty have retired as full colonels, because all their regimental seniors had joined the Staff Corps, while the officers of the Indian Navy were forced to retire without appeal on something like the pension of their rank. But they must have felt a grim satisfaction in knowing that they had outlived the piracy which had been the scourge of Western India and the first cause of the creation of the force; their last serious service was in administering a final pounding to their old enemies the Waghers, the last survivors of the flourishing pirate communities of Kattyawar.

Besides surveys of the Eastern seas, European nations trading with India are indebted to the Indian Navy for the opening up of the Overland Route, and so, indirectly, for the construction of the Suez Canal. Without steam, indeed, the Red Sea could never have become a highway of commerce, while with its extended use that great canal could not for ever be closed; but the Hugh Lindsay of the Indian Navy, the first steamer constructed in the East, which, after thirty years of service, was still staunch enough for work as a tug at Kurachi, was the first steamer to appear on its waters, making the voyage to and from Suez in 1830, under the command of Captain John Lindsay. The expense of the voyage, however, was so great that, after seven trips, the Court bade the Government of Bombay only repeat it in case of emergency, and it was reserved for Lieutenant Waghorn, also of the Indian Navy, by sacrifice of his private fortune and professional prospects and ten years’ unceasing labour, to prove that communication with India through the Red Sea was not only a luxury of State, but a profitable commercial enterprise. From his labours all have profited save himself and his family, and the only public acknowledgment of his services is a bust in the Canal Garden at Suez.

With some labour, caused by the want of an index, many notices of interest might be quarried from Captain Low’s pages. The early history of Bombay, the antecedents of the rulers of Muscat and Zanzibar, the settlement at Aden, the true story of Perim, the achievements of the Sepoy Marines, who are now represented by two regular regiments of the Bombay Army, all invite notice, but our space is exhausted. Yet we must find room to mention the self-denial of Commodore Hayes, who, rather than embroil the Company with China, released two junks captured in running the blockade from Batavia with Dutch property, and so sacrificed his large share of £600,000 lawful prize; and the gallantry of Midshipman Denton, who, unable to board a proa, lashed her bowsprit to the taffrail of his gunboat, and so continued his course, fighting her all the time. And for contrast with the experience of the Bay of Bengal, where we believe that the full pressure of a great cyclone has never been recorded, as the anemometers have broken with a pressure of sixty pounds, we may note that, in the cyclone of November, 1854, so famous at Bombay, the pressure did not exceed thirty-five pounds to the square foot: with such a storm as that which raged in Calcutta in October, 1864, the whole native town of Bombay would come down like a house of cards. We are sorry not to have been able to notice Captain Low’s labours more favourably; particular points which we had noted for objection we will pass over in silence.

Captain Richard Burton is facile princeps of modern travellers. There scarcely any part of the world which he has not visited, and wherever he goes he seems to have the history, geography, and ethnology of the country at his fingers’ ends. His last important contribution to geographical science is the account of his visit to the Land of Midian, whither he went, commissioned by the ex-Khedive [Pg 354] of Egypt, in search of the gold mines of which the ancient Arab geographer and others speak. The results of his expeditions are published in two works: The Gold-Mines of Midian and the Ruined Midianite Cities (London: C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1878) and The Land of Midian (Revisited), 2 vols., issued by the same publishers during the present year. Having received an invitation from the ex-Viceroy, Captain Burton proceeded to Cairo in March, 1877, where an expedition was organized for the purpose of exploring the auriferous region. The author’s comparison of the Cairo of the present time with the city as he knew it in his old pilgrim days, and as it is described in Lane’s “Modern Egyptians,” forms, although only incidental, a very interesting portion of the book. The chapter on Suez also is a good specimen of Captain Burton’s style, and contains at once a topographical sketch, an archæological and historical description, and a chatty and amusing account of the modern city, its society, and surroundings. Midian, called nowadays by its inhabitants, as by the mediæval Arabic geographers, Arz Maydan, the Land of Midian, is that part of Arabia which occupies the east coast of the Gulf of Akabah, and extends some two degrees further to the south. The borders are somewhat difficult to ascertain, and it is probable that the ancient Midianites, like some of the larger and more powerful Bedawin tribes of the present day, wandered far and wide, and that their limits shrunk or extended according to their numbers, or the resisting power of their neighbours. The ancient history of the land is told by Captain Burton in a most exhaustive manner, the Biblical accounts being supplemented by copious references to Greek, Latin, Jewish, and Arabic writers of all ages. The quantity of gold, silver, and other metals mentioned in Numbers xxxi. 22, as being produced by Midian, was curiously borne out by the results of the expedition. A lengthy and learned notice is also given of the Nabathæans, whose former rock-cut capital, Petræa, is still one of the marvels of Arabia; whose king, or ethnarch, Aretas (in Arabic, El Hareth), is mentioned in the New Testament; and whose rule embraced so large a portion of Syria and Arabia, and extended late into Christian times.

The discovery that gold existed in Midian was in the first place due to Haji Wali, familiar to the readers of Captain Burton’s “Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina” as the companion of the author in the caravanserai at Cairo while preparing for the journey to Hejjaz. The old Haji was once returning from a visit to Mecca, when halting by the shore of the Gulf of Akabah he scooped up a handful of granitic sand which sparkled in the bed of the wady and took it with him to Alexandria. There he took his specimen to an assayer, and, although the glitter which had attracted him proved only to be produced by the presence of mica, his sand when smelted in a crucible yielded a comparatively large portion of pure gold. The information of the discovery was not received with encouragement by the official to whom Haji Wali communicated it, and the latter ceased to think more of the subject. The assayer, however, set out for the new Eldorado and lost his life, probably murdered by the Bedawin. Captain Barton believes that the secret of the gold has never been really lost, and that the washing of sand has always been clandestinely carried on. Be that as it may, Captain Burton, believing the Haji’s story, endeavoured to recommend his discovery to the notice of the Egyptian authorities, who pooh-pooh’d the whole thing, and merely remarked that gold was becoming too common. For nearly a quarter of a century Captain Burton kept the secret to himself, but at length he again sought out his old friend Haji Wali, obtained from him more exact information as to the locality, and carried him off with the expedition, the means for organizing which Ismail Pasha furnished. The results of the expedition, which was only a pioneer one, were sufficient to corroborate all that the Haji had said, and to confirm Captain Burton’s own prognostications drawn from the ancient sources which his extensive learning enabled him to consult. The adventures of the party fill the remainder of the first of his two books and form extremely pleasant reading.

The second of the two books contains somewhat less antiquarian research, but more practical information than the first. It is a record of the second expedition (also equipped at the expense of the Egyptian Government by order of the ex-Khedive), and is full of pleasant travel-talk and adventure. Setting out from Cairo in a sickly season and under the most unfavourable circumstances—the resources of the country being drained by distress at home and the Turkish-Russian war abroad—they at length got under way once more for the desert, not without encountering hair-breadth escapes from the bursting of some of the tubes of the engine of their steamer. Once landed, the initial difficulties of desert travel had to be encountered. “It had been reported,” says Captain Burton, “that I was the happy possessor of £22,000, mostly to be spent in El-Muwaylah. The unsettled Arabs plunder and [Pg 355] slay; the settled Arabs slander and cheat.” These, however, were soon smoothed over by the commander’s tact and firmness, the rival claims of two tribes to act as escort were disposed of, and the work of the expedition then began.

The first march, through Madyan proper (North Midian), occupied fifty-four days. The country was essentially a mining district, and very rich in mineral wealth, though, strange to say, it had not been much worked by the ancients. The first expedition found free gold in the basalt, but the researches of the second yielded none. The second march, through South Midian, lasted eighteen days. Its principal object was to ascertain the depth from east to west of the quartz formations, and to explore the virgin region towards the east. Here, however, they were stopped by the exactions and turbulent conduct of the Maazeh, who tried to pick quarrels with their Huweitat guides, and made it impossible for Captain Burton to proceed without such loss of time and other inconveniences as must have sacrificed the other and more important objects of the expedition. The last journey was through the southern portion of Midian, and lasted twenty-four days. This part of the country has been systematically worked in former times, and it is here that the gold and silver mines are placed by the mediæval Arab geographers.

Throughout Midian, ruined towns, villages, mining stations, and smelting furnaces were found, testifying to the former mining industry of the country, and described by Captain Burton in his usual graphic and careful style.

That Midian abounds in mineral wealth, and that gold and silver may be found in plenty there, is clear both from the documentary evidence of the author and from the testimony of the physical and geological features of the country. The very first reconnaissance showed a formation exactly reproducing “the conditions which Australia shows, and which produced the huge ‘welcome nugget’ of Ballarat.” The country also closely resembles the known gold-working sites of Ancient Egypt, but with filons of larger size. Some of these “Ophirs of Egypt Proper” yielded the treasury of Ramses the Great the enormous sum of £90,000,000 a year, as hieroglyphic inscriptions tell us. Herodotus, too, tells us of the immense wealth in the precious metals possessed by some of the Pharaohs. The modern Bedawins have legends of “gold pieces, square as well as round, bearing, by way of inscription, ‘prayers’ to the Apostle of Allah,” which Captain Burton suspects to be “the Tibr, or ‘pure gold-dust,’ washed from the sands and cast probably in rude moulds.” The close proximity to the sea and the facilities of the country for transport, it being “prepared by Nature to receive a tramway,” remove half the difficulties of working.

That the specimens brought back by Captain Burton’s expedition did not actually yield a larger proportion of the precious metals is in all probability due to the fact that they had no expert with them, and did not, therefore, sufficiently seek for and select stone from the auriferous rocks, but brought away much that the ancients had rejected, or left as unworkable. He is, however, convinced, as the impartial reader of his work must also be, that the gold land of Midian is still a fine field for commercial enterprise, which would soon restore to it the advantages which all ancient authorities declare that it once possessed.

“The Land of Midian” attracted another explorer besides Captain Burton—namely, the late Dr. Beke, an account of whose labours has been given to the world by his widow in a bulky volume on the subject. His object was to discover the “true Mount Sinai,” which he identified with a certain Jebel Barguir, otherwise the “Mountain of Light,” on the Eastern shore of the Gulf of Akaba, and in which he fancied he saw the “volcano,” the existence of which he had previously conjectured in his pamphlet, “Mount Sinai a Volcano.” To make this theory accord with the Scriptural account, he had not only to shift the scene of the Law-giving from the Sinaitic Peninsula to the other side of the Gulf, but he was obliged to find another Mizraim than Egypt, and boldly sacrificed hieroglyphic, Biblical, and classic testimony, as well as that of tradition, to his own hypothesis. In confirmation of his theory, he found indications that the Mountain of Light was regarded as a holy place, and discovered ancient inscriptions near the summit, of which he brought copies home in triumph. Unfortunately, however, the name Barguir turns out to be his own corruption of Bakir, a well-known Mohammedan name, and, in the present instance, that of the petty Arab saint whose tomb gives the only sanctity the mountain may possess, while the proper name of the mountain is Jebel el Yitm; the inscriptions are only the ordinary Nabathæan graffiti and Arab-tribe marks, which are so common all over Arabia Petræa; and lastly, there is no volcano at all. The volume is interesting, as it contains much topographical information about a country the ancient history and [Pg 356] future prospects of which render it of the highest importance; but as a contribution to the literature of the much-vexed question of the Exodus the late Dr. Beke’s work is absolutely useless. Whether the so-called Peninsula of Sinai is really the scene of the early portion of that drama, the recent Egyptian researches of Dr. Brugsch Bey have rendered very doubtful; but wherever Mount Sinai has ultimately to be placed, it is not that discovered by Dr. Beke.

As Mrs. Burton supplemented the “Unexplored Syria” of her husband and the late C. F. Tyrwhitt Drake with her own more personal but none the less interesting “Inner Life of Syria,” so she has now embodied her own impression of the various localities which she and Captain Burton have visited during the last few years in a pleasant book entitled, A. E. I.: Arabia, Egypt, and India (London: W. Mullan & Son, 1879). Mrs. Burton’s pages are eminently readable, her powers of observation are keen, and her descriptions always fresh and vivid. If the spots she writes about have been often before depicted by pen and pencil, she yet finds something new to say, and some interesting and little-known historical incident to narrate, concerning them. The latter part of the book, containing a history and description of the old Portuguese settlement of Goa, and a minutely-detailed account of the life and works of St. Francis Xavier, the Apostle of the Indies, will be new to most readers and read with interest by all. The book is one which may be taken up at any moment with the certainty of finding something to amuse, instruct, or furnish food for earnest thought.

Egypt to Palestine, by S. C. Bartlett, though bearing the name and address of a London publisher (Sampson Low, Marston, & Co.) on the title-page, is evidently the production of an American firm, the name of which, indeed, appears on some of the maps. The book is well got up, and as a description of the localities, their antiquities and history, is equal to the average of such publications. It is, however, entirely composed of materials collected from the works of other authors, taken often without acknowledgment, and is profusely illustrated by pictures and maps copied from other works, the sources of which are never acknowledged at all. The only passages at all original in the work are those which describe Mr. Bartlett’s own journey, the highest interest of which consists in an occasional enumeration of the hymns he and his companions sang to the Arabs (cf. p. 193), and which would have much the same effect on the Tiyahah as the performances of the howling dervishes have upon an American tourist.

Sir Lewis Pelly has published, in two handsome volumes, a literal translation of the text of the Miracle Play of Hasan and Husein (London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1879), as performed throughout India and Persia during the month of Mohurram, by the Shiah Mohammedans. The progress of Islam in its early days was so rapid that, in a short time, it had overwhelmed Persia, Egypt, Syria, and a large portion of the rest of the Byzantine Empire in its tide of conquest. The death of Mohammed naturally brought forward rival claimants to the supreme authority, and the dispute ultimately resolved itself into one between Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet, and representative of the Hashimi clan, and Moawiyeh, the representative of the Ommayeh family, between whom and the Hashimis an old feud existed, originating in their rival claims to be the hereditary guardians of the Kaabeh Temple at Mecca. These two parties offered an obvious rallying point for the two opposing factions in El Islam, the conquered Persians and the conquering Arabs, the former of whom resisted the traditional ceremonial law with which their Semitic co-religionists would have trammelled them. The consequence was that the Aryan faction rallied round Ali, and the Arabs round Moawiyeh. The latter proved the stronger party, and were known as Sunnis, followers of the Sunnah or traditional law, while the adherents of the former were designated Shiahs or Sectarians, and thus originated the first great schism in Mohammedanism. The struggles of Ali’s party for supremacy, his own murder, and the subsequent massacre of his sons, Hasan and Husein, who lost their lives under circumstances of peculiar atrocity, are the incidents on which the drama is founded, and the memory of which has kept alive the rancorous ill-feeling between the two sects. In the play itself the historical element is largely mixed with the marvellous and legendary, and the dramatic unities are wholly neglected; but it nevertheless exhibits enough of the real facts to give it an intense living interest, while the antiquated language and strange incidents that are introduced carry us back to the remotest times. An admirable introduction contains a notice by Dr. [Pg 357] Birdwood, C.S.I., of the origin of the Shiah schism, and of the ceremonies with which the Mohurram festival is celebrated throughout India and Persia; and Mr. A. N. Wollaston, of the India Office, has both edited the text and illustrated it with some concise and appropriate notes.

Dr. Charles Riew has just issued the first volume of his Catalogue of the Persian MSS. in the British Museum (London: 1879), containing Christian and Mohammedan Theology, and the works on History and Geography of which the Museum has a large and important collection. Amongst these are the Jámi ut tawárikh, written in the seventh—eighth centuries of the Hejra, and comprising the histories of all the principal Turkish and Mongol dynasties; the Táríkh i Rashídí, a history of the Khans of Mogolistan and of the Amirs of Kashgar; and the Zafar Namah, the earliest authentic history of Timur, written by his order in 1404 A.D. A brief but complete analysis of each manuscript is given, enabling scholars to refer at once and without difficulty to any portion of the histories without the labour of looking through an often voluminous manuscript. The value of such a scholar-like production as this Catalogue is cannot be over-estimated; it has, in fact, placed within reach of the student of history most important and authentic works, the very existence of which was unknown except to a few Orientalists. The second volume is already complete in MS., and will be shortly published. We shall look forward to it with great interest, as the British Museum possesses a magnificent collection of Persian poetical and other works.

A Pahlavi Dictionary, by Dastur Jamaspji Minocheherji Jamasp Asana, of which the first two volumes have just appeared (London: Trübner and Co., 1879), supplies a want long felt by students of the old Persian speech. Pahlavi is the name applied to the old Persian tongue, and more particularly to that phase of it which was spoken during the reigns of the Sassanian kings. It is of great interest to the philologist, inasmuch as it contains a large admixture of Semitic words, derived, however, from a different source than the Arabic element in modern Persian, and appears to be akin to the Assyrian. It is sometimes called Huzvaresh, though this word seems to be more properly applied to a particular method of reading, by which, when a Semitic word occurs in the text, the priest reads the Aryan equivalent, just as we in English say “pounds, shillings, and pence” when we meet with the signs £ s. d., and read “namely,” though we write and print “videlicet” or “viz.” Dastur Jamaspji Asana interprets the word Huzvaresh to mean the “language of Assyria,” a suggestion which, if correct, throws some light on the origin of the language. The etymology of the word Pahlavi has been the subject of much discussion, but the latest as well as the most reasonable conjecture is that of Dr. Haug (followed by the author of this Dictionary), that it is identical with Parthva, the Parthia of the classical writers; that most warlike and important nation having given its name to the language, just as the province of Pars has given the name to the language of modern Iran. The great difficulty in compiling such a dictionary as the present, apart from the unsatisfactory nature of the available texts, is that the alphabet is so very vague and confused. The language contains a very great number of sounds which the alphabet, borrowed from the Semitic, is incapable of expressing; the same letter, therefore, is often used for different sounds, and combinations of the various letters again often express simple sounds. This makes the arrangement very difficult, but the author of this work has adopted the only safe method, that of arranging the words according to the alphabetical order of the letters rather than in order of sounds. A table, in which the various combinations of the letters are explained, also much simplifies reference. The author has in all cases followed the traditional reading and interpretation of words, leaving to the more critical scholars of Europe the task of investigating them from a scientific point of view.

Dr. Haug’s Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings, and Religion of the Parsis (Trübner’s Oriental Series, 1878) is another most important contribution to comparative theology and philology. The nature of the doctrines of Zoroaster and the rites and ceremonies of the Magians had for centuries exercised the uninitiated. The earliest mention of them occurs in the Prophet Jeremiah (xxxix. 3), who speaks of the rab mag (chief of the Magi) as forming part of the retinue of Nebuchadnezzar at his entry into Jerusalem; Ezekiel calls the Persian king Cyrus (who professed the religion of the Magi) the “anointed of the Lord;” the New Testament speaks of Magi from the East—translated “wise men” in our version—as the [Pg 358] first to pay homage to our Lord; and the old Persian language has supplied, through the New Testament also, the name Paradise, which is universally employed to represent heaven throughout the civilized world. Herodotus also mentions them, and testifies to the purity of their worship and their morals, and other Greek as well as Latin writers have treated at more or less length on the subject of the Magi. But these scattered and incomplete notices were all that scholars had until Hyde, the celebrated Oxford scholar, in 1700, collected all the ancient sources of information into a volume Historia religionis veterum Persarum eorumque Magorum. The original texts of the Zend Avesta, &c., however, of which some manuscripts had been brought to Europe, were still sealed books, and the Parsi priests in India and Persia strictly refrained from affording any information upon their contents. At length, in 1754, Anquetil Duperron, an enterprising Frenchman, undertook a journey to India with the express intention of procuring manuscripts and learning the Zend language, in both of which purposes he succeeded, and published ten years later the first known translation of the Zend Avesta. His work was by many scholars, Sir William Jones and Richardson, the Persian lexicographer, amongst the number, regarded as worthless, Richardson maintaining that the texts themselves were forgeries, while Sir William Jones endeavoured to prove that Anquetil had been the victim of priestly fraud and deception. Nearly a century later Eugene Burnouf, an eminent French Sanscrit scholar, proved his countryman’s work to be genuine, corrected many of his faults, and placed the study on a sounder scientific basis. Others, especially German and Scandinavian savants, followed in the same path, forming, however, different schools of interpretation, until at last Dr. Martin Haug brought order into the confusion, and succeeded in bringing the study of Zend within the limits of exact philological science. The foundation of all these studies must of course necessarily be the traditional interpretation handed down by the Parsi priests, but this would have been comparatively useless without the investigation of European scholars. Many of the Avesta texts are furnished with Pahlavi translations and comments, but the Pahlavi itself was but imperfectly understood, and the whole subject was for a long time in hopeless confusion; the reader may, however, take up Dr. Haug’s Essays with the full assurance that he has the most trustworthy account of the Parsis, their Scriptures, history, and religious rites, that can be now ascertained. Anything like a résumé of such a work would be out of place here, but we can cordially recommend it as, with all its recondite erudition, a most readable book.

Mr. Bernard Quaritch, of Piccadilly, has published a romance in modern Arabic, entitled, The Autobiography of the Constantinople Story-teller, edited by Mr. J. Catafago, a well-known Arabic scholar, and said to be the work of an Englishman, Colonel Rous. It is principally as a curiosity of literature that it will be read, as it does not narrate any very novel or original adventures, and the style is very simple and unpretending. It, however, contains some clear and concise descriptions of many localities in the East which are but little known to the ordinary reader, and will be welcome to the student of Arabic as an easy text-book of the language.

Professor James Sanua, late of Cairo, is an enthusiastic politician and an original satirist. We have just received thirty numbers of an Arabic comic paper, written, illustrated, and published by him in Paris, and directed against the ex-Khedive of Egypt, whose misgovernment he mercilessly exposes, and whose deposition it was his avowed object to bring about. The editor, a native of Egypt, and a Copt by religion, was for many years engaged in tuition in some of the highest families of Cairo. Possessing a keen sense of humour and a great mastery over the Arabic language, he used to pass his evenings in improvising a sort of dramatic entertainment, in which he himself sustained all the characters, and in which he satirized the social foibles of his fellow-countrymen. The originality of his séances soon attracted large audiences, and amongst the visitors and admirers were the Khedive and the princes of his family. The opportunity was too good to be lost, and Professor Sanua passed from mere social topics, and administered sound and severe castigations to his august visitor for his misgovernment and oppression of the fellaheen. This boldness drew down upon him the displeasure of Ismail Pasha, and Abu Naddára Zerka (the Father of Blue Spectacles), as he was nicknamed, found it convenient to withdraw to Paris, where he published his paper. It is written for the most part in the vulgar Egyptian dialect, and contains articles upon, and illustrations of, the principal events of the latter part of the reign of the deposed prince. The pictures, which are rude, but full of force, are explained in [Pg 359] a French introduction, which is prefixed to the collected thirty numbers, and form a very interesting and curious record of modern Egyptian history.

A new paper, literary and political, has just been advertised at Constantinople. It is to be written in the Arabic language, and edited by M. G. Dellal, a native of Aleppo, and an accomplished Arabic scholar and poet. Modern Arabic literature is exceedingly plentiful at the present time, and Beyrout has long been a centre of activity. Sheikh Nasyf el Yazji, who died some few years ago, gave a great impulse to the study of Arabic by his “Majma‘ el Bahrain,” a book in imitation of the “Macamat” of Harírí, and containing in a small compass more information on the Arabs of the classical period, their customs, histories, proverbs, &c., than perhaps any other work. Dr. Butrus Bustani, of the same town, earned for himself a lasting name by his Arabic lexicon, “Muhít el Muhít,” which has not only a native but a European reputation; and the same eminent scholar has established a press, from which have emanated many standard Arabic works, and numerous translations of valuable European works on science and history. A magazine entitled El Jinán, “The Garden of Paradise,” is also published there fortnightly, and contains, besides political articles and general news, a great deal of interesting miscellaneous information. The last important publication of the “Matba‘ al Maarif,” or “Scientific Press,” as it is called, is an Encyclopædia in the Arabic language, on the plan of the European Conversation-lexicons.


[105] The Sixth was never heard of after the massacre of its officers; a dozen men were enough for that work, and there are those still living who believe that the per-centage of traitors in its ranks was small. At Benares, too, the mess-guard held the mess-premises against all comers till the station was quiet, and then through sheer terror marched off without plunder.


(Under the Direction of the Rev. Prebendary J. Davies, M.A.)

One of the most useful volumes for classical students which has seen the light this year is the solid collection of Specimens of Roman Literature, illustrative of Roman Thought and Style, edited by Messrs. Cruttwell and Banton, of Bradfield College, and published by C. Griffin and Co. Mr. Cruttwell is creditably known for his compendious History of Roman Literature, and it is a happy afterthought of himself and his composition-master to supplement that manual by the present collection of extracts from Latin prose and poetry, designed as models for composition, samples to be learnt by rote, and exercises in unseen translation. The work contains above 900 passages, illustrative (1) of Roman thought in the fields of religion, philosophy, art, and letters; and (2) of Roman style, from the earliest date to the times of the Antonines. Edited of necessity, by reason of their bulk, sans note or comment, these selections are availably grouped in a preliminary synopsis, happily headed with descriptive and apposite English titles, and further adapted to English reference by an index of authors classed in their periods, and another of subjects and titles of passages. It is hard to conceive a completer or handier repertory of specimens of Latin thought and style, and it is but fair to add that no small proportion of the contents is comparatively novel and unhackneyed, a boon at the same time to the exhausted composition tutor and to the acquisition-seeking, wideawake pupil. For example, among descriptions selected in illustration of style, we come upon passages from Ennius, Pacuvius, and Accius, preserved in Cicero’s De Divinatione and De Naturâ Deorum, followed by epigrams of those elder poets, Valerius Œdituus, Porcius Licinus, and Quintus Lutatius Catulus, embalmed in the antiquarian pages of Aulus Gellius. The literature of Roman agriculture is represented (§§ 31-4) by specimens of Varro de Re Rusticâ, directing how to choose the best oxen for draught, or slaves for farm work; how to make a duck-pond, or prepare a snail-bed; as well as of Columella and, of course, Virgil. Pliny’s natural history is taxed largely for characteristic contributions: the letters of his nephew, as well as of Seneca and Cicero, for epistolary style, as well as for philosophy, religious views, and the like. Lucretius and Catullus are excellently represented: as in the field of Roman drama are Plautus and Terence, with fragments of elder playwrights. Nor is scant justice done to the purely Roman field of satire, as is seen in apt extracts from Horace, Juvenal, and Persius, whilst a happy selection is made of [Pg 360] producible specimens of Petronius. Even Roman parody is not overlooked, nor yet an insight into Roman gastronomy. In fact, we know not where to turn for defaults in the presence of such assiduous and various compilations. Here and there may be detected careless printers’ errors, such as Tar for Ter. (the abbreviation of Terence); and it would have been neater to head the hortatory or suasory orations, illustrated in pp. 567-8, §§ 73-5, with an English title, rather than to describe each in mingled and maimed speech as “a suasoria” (i.e., “suasoria oratio.”) But the work is so calculated to be useful to scholars and editors that we must trust its value will be enhanced in future editions by the most careful revision.

A volume of somewhat kindred use and purpose, though of additional value as suggestive of a standard of translation indisputably sound and high, is the collection of Translations, by Professor Jebb, Mr. Jackson, and Mr. Currey, of Trinity, Cambridge, published by Deighton, Bell, & Co., Cambridge, and George Bell & Sons, London, just a year ago. Its usefulness is enhanced by a fourfold applicability to the wants of translators into Greek and Latin, and out of those languages into English, whether in prose or poetry. The samples are, of course, limited considerably by the area of the field they cover, but they will be admitted to be amply sufficient for models and patterns, and no tiro, or even advanced student, can fail to be benefited by the variety, excellent choice, scholarly handling, brief but seasonable annotation, and general accommodation to student-use, of the selections which form the four divisions of this practical manual. The rule of “Ne quid nimis” has been sufficiently respected to forbid tedious reiteration of types of the same style, so that in Greek verse into English only three examples of Theocritus occur, one a sweet piece of idyllic description, a second illustrative of the mimes of Sophron, a third breathing the Alexandrian tone of poetic stimulus to the halting liberality of the would-be literary Ptolemies. The proportion of extracts from Homer and the dramatists is scarcely larger, and rather guides the reader to form a criterion of style for himself than helps him to be armed beforehand for passages which may be set in this or that examination. In translation the canon of accuracy and fidelity is tendered in preference to that of liveliness and effect, though it cannot be said that Messrs. Jebb and Jackson’s translations from Plautus and Terence, or those of Jebb and Currey from Martial, Juvenal, and Ausonius, are deficient in the life and spirit suggested by the originals. As much may be said without controversy for the prose models in either language; nor is it to be lightly regarded that the aim of the editors has been to help classical students to train themselves in preparation for examination. Not to be prolix in notice of a volume which may be referred to again and again in our examination of texts and school-books to follow in our chronicle, it may be admissible to quote in Latin and English some six lines of Professor Jebb’s translation from the Phormio (pp. 140-1) as a type of the neatness and spirit of the average of these translations. Phormio is explaining how, with all his ebullitions, he has never been indicted for assault:—

“Quia non rete accipitri tenditur neque miluo,
Qui male faciunt nobis: illis qui nihil faciunt tenditur;
Quia enim in illis fructus est, in illis opera luditur.
Aliis aliunde est periclum unde aliquid abradi potest:
Mihi sciunt nihil esse. Dices, ducent damnatum domum:
Alere nolunt hominem edacem: et sapiunt, meâ quidem sententia,
Pro maleficio si beneficium summum nolunt reddere.”—Phorm., act. ii. 2.

“Because we do not spread nets for hawks and kites that do us harm; the net is spread for the harmless birds. The fact is, pigeons may be plucked: hawks and kites mock our pains. Various dangers beset people who can be pilfered—I am known to have nothing. You will say, ‘They will get a writ of habeas corpus.’ They would rather not keep a large eater: and I certainly think they are right to decline requiting a bad turn with a signal favour.”

From a summary notice of these two volumes of wider range and scope, it is an easy leap to such noteworthy classical translations and texts of the year or season as lie on our table for review. Of the former we note with satisfaction a new and very readable version of The Letters of the Younger Pliny, literally translated by John Delaware Lewis, M.A. (London: Trubner & Co., 1879), whose version of Juvenal’s Satires some years back was accurate, lively, and well-achieved. In approaching another author of the silver age, well deserving of a more modern English transcript than [Pg 361] those of Melmoth and Lord Orrery, Mr. Lewis has been minded to present this pleasantest of gossips, and most cultured of letter-writers, in a guise as little as possible encumbered with notes or excursions, and in such wise that the volume is admirably adapted for the library table, whether the object be comparison with the Latin text, or refreshment of the memory, anent this or that sentiment of the many-sided and voluminous man of law and letters. Under the conviction that enough has been done to present Pliny himself to his readers in the volumes by Church and Brodribb (in the Ancient Classics), and by Pritchard and Bernard, as well as the notices of life and letters by W. S. Teuffel and English bibliographers, Mr. Lewis has confined himself to the briefest of introductions, and been content to bestow most pains on apt and parallel English counterparts to the expressions and idioms of the Latin. Thus the task undertaken has been made to assume an easy, unaffected form, at the same time that it is calculated to stand close examination by the criterion of the Latin text. A good specimen both of the gossiping author and his latest translator might be cited from Book II. 6 to Avitus, in which is described the triple-graded dinner given by a shabby, purse-proud host (α) to himself and his intimates, (β) to his lesser friends, (γ) to his freedmen at the same board, but of fare graduated according to degree. Pliny tells his correspondent that he demurred to this procedure to his next neighbour at table, and propounded his own practice on this wise: “I invite people to dine, not to be invidiously ticketed, and I treat as my entire equals in all respects those whom I have already made my equals by inviting them at my table.” And this equality, for the time being, he extended to his freedmen, on the sensible point of view that they were then his guests, not his freedmen. In the same book (letter 15) occurs a letter of Pliny to Valerianus, brief enough for quotation, and yet expressing with lively brevity more than one home truth for those who realize Horace’s sketch, “O si angulus iste proximus accedat.” “How,” he asks, “does your old Marsian property treat you? And your new purchase? Are you pleased with the estate now that it is your own? Indeed, nothing is so agreeable when you have once got it, as it was when you longed to have it. As for me, the farms which I inherited from my mother treat me but so-so: yet they delight me as coming from my mother; and besides, long endurance has hardened me: constant growling comes to this at last, that one is ashamed to growl.” Next but one to this letter comes one of those charming descriptions which are, par excellence, Pliny’s chefs d’œuvre, minutely detailing the features and attractions of his villas. These constitute to the young student so many loci classici, by no means to be overlooked in preparation for facing the test-paper of a scholarship examination, and it is sound counsel to candidates for such to avail themselves of a translation like Mr. Lewis’s for general purposes, taking such letters as the one alluded to (II. xvii.) for special study and comparison with its original. Here, as elsewhere, Mr. Lewis adds pertinent and sensible notelets in cases of difficulty; but it is only fair to say à propos of the, as he would seem to imply in his preface, long-since shelved translation of Melmoth, that in Bohn’s Classical Library (George Bell & Sons) will be found a revision and correction of The Letters of Caius Plinius Cœcilius Secundus, as translated by Melmoth, annotated and otherwise accommodated to modern reading by the Rev. F. C. T. Bosanquet, B.A., of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, which will be found in all respects excellently suited for the need of the current reader. Whilst here and there the style of Melmoth strikes us as forgetting itself for a brief space, where the modern editor has felt bound to interpose a more literal rendering, and in such cases it is simpler to refer to the uniform translation of Lewis, it is certainly a real boon to have the notes of Bosanquet’s Melmoth’s Pliny to consult, whether they represent the explanatory and illustrative labour of Melmoth, and his literary or antiquarian contemporaries, or the careful supplementary illustrations of his accommodator to modern eyes. So much explanation is due to one of the best recent volumes of Bohn’s Classical Series (1878).

The feeling is more mixed with which we touch upon Mr. T. Hart Davies’s Translation of Catullus into English Verse (London: C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1879), the author of which is a quondam Oxonian in the Indian Civil Service. Fully persuaded that Catullus is very untranslatable, and that the subtle charm of his dainty versification evaporates, it is evidence alike of Mr. Hart Davies’s courage and culture that, afar from classical libraries, he has recreated his mind and tastes with the reproduction of one of the most genuine classical poets; given us anew the touching songs to Lesbia, and the unequalled nuptial songs (lxi. and lxii.); and rendered with more or less [Pg 362] success the pictorial epic, in petto, of the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, and the pathetic allusions to an early-lost brother in the poem to Hortalus. He deserves, too, the praise of having read carefully the recent literature of the subject, and guaged with creditable acuteness and discrimination the lucubrations of Professor R. Ellis, the criticisms of Mr. Munro, and the critical essays of Schwabe, Heyse, and Couat. He hesitates, however, it would seem, to accept Munro’s well-sustained rehabilitation of Cæsar and Mamurra (à propos of Poem xxix. on Cæsar), and in two or three passages seems to us to err in point of prolixity, which is as foreign as can be conceived to the style of his original, as well as, in one or two places, in misconception of his sense. In either aspect, he cannot be regarded as competing (which indeed he does not aspire to do) with Theodore Martin: but we cannot honestly say that we regard his version of the Atys as an improvement in readableness on that of one of the ablest of critics, but most puzzling and hopeless of verse-translators, Professor Robinson Ellis. Indeed, it is a question whether he has imported any improvement into the rendering of his Galliambics by adopting the Tennysonian rather than the Catullian rhythm and measure. Mr. Hart Davies is mostly happy in his shorter versions. The invitation to Cæcilius is bright and brisk (p. 33): there is a touching sadness in the lines to Cornificius (p. 35). The stanzas to the poet’s self on the “Coming of Spring” (p. 43) breathe much of the tiptoe of expectation and love of adventure infused into the original lines. And as a neat sample of the translator’s muse may be quoted the transcript of the “Lines to Sirmio,” adequately executed, and endorsed with some of the original pathos and picturesqueness—

“Sirmio, fairest of all isles that be,
Or all peninsulas that ocean laves,
Whether around them roll the mighty sea,
Or a lake’s placid waves.
Thee with what joy, what rapture do I view,
Returned from Thynia and Bithynia’s plain!
I scarce can credit that the bliss is true
Thee to behold again.
Oh! what more blessed is than labours past!
In weary wanderings abroad we roam,
Then spent with toil we come again at last,
Seeking our rest at home.
This for our toils the sole reward is found,
Hail, lovely Sirmio, and thou Lydian mere!
And now, my home, let all thy laughter sound,
Now is thy master here.”

Mr. Hart Davies’s temporary exile has obviously the solace of scholarship.

If a wide divergence from the beaten track into fresh fields and pastures new be a merit, as it must be to jaded schoolmasters, if not to school-boys, some praise should be accorded to Mr. Heitland, a Fellow and Lecturer of St. John’s, Cambridge, and his coadjutor, Mr. Raven, for having furnished the Pitt Press Series with so good an edition of that part of the History of Quintus Curtius, which relates to the Indian expedition of Alexander the Great. The subject, author, and hero are to modern readers novel and unhackneyed: and there is that suspicion of imperfect knowledge attaching to all three which sets the mind on the qui vive to acquire what is knowable about them. For such an undertaking no better guides could be needed. An introduction primes the student with the needful information (α) as to Curtius and his book; (β) as to Alexander’s career; while Appendix D (187-9) supplements from Mr. Talboy Wheeler’s “History of India from the Earliest Ages” the general and current information as to the plan of his Indian campaign. Anent the date and authorship of Curtius’s history, it is shown to be the work of Q. Curtius Rufus, a rhetorician of the reign of Claudius, and referable to the silver age of Latin literature. His transparent imitation of Livy has suggested the not improbable supposition that he may have been even that historian’s pupil, nor is it an impertinent criticism of the editors’ that in common with that master Curtius seems to ignore the “high aims and farsightedness which give its grandeur to Alexander’s character.” The string of notable usages in Curtius’s style, given in pp. 14-15, exhibits more than one palpable Livianism; and the use of poetical language bespeaks his attentive study of Virgil. Tiros will be comforted by hearing that “if Curtius is less pleasant to read than Livy, he is also less difficult.” The criticisms of the editors on the grounds of his historical value at the revival period are interesting [Pg 363] and perspicuous, and the special interest of the particular portion of history adopted as a specimen of the author needs no apology in a country where the reigning sovereign has the collateral title of Empress of India. Six chapters of the eighth Book bring the reader through the country west of the Indus to the bank of that river, its passage, and the ensuing battle on the eastern bank, with the defeat of the army of Porus; whilst the ninth Book embraces Alexander’s advance through the Punjab, his operations in descending the Jhelam and Chenab, his descent of the Indus, and exploration of its mouth, with an account also of the homeward march; and the least that can be said of Messrs. Heitland and Raven’s editorial work, whether critical or explanatory, is, that no difficulty of text is overlooked or imperfectly handled, no discrepancy, as comparing Curtius with parallel authorities, ignored. A test-passage, wherein to prove this statement, may be taken in the fourteenth chapter of the eighth Book, the battle between Alexander and Porus, which is described with unflagging care and zeal from first to last, the situations and details being compared, and, where possible, reconciled with Arrian, the poetical phrases characteristic of Curtius pointed out and illustrated, and the unusual words, e.g., copidas (“choppers” like a Goorka knife, the κοπὶς from the same root as κόπτω), clearly though succinctly explained. On Alexander’s order to Cœnus in §§ 15 of the battle chapter, “ipse dextrum move et turbatis signa infer” (advance the right wing, &c.), an excellent note, for which Mr. Heitland undertakes the sole responsibility, accredits him, in our judgment, as a most sound historical commentator, by the exhaustiveness wherewith he reconciles Arrian and Curtius’s view of Alexander’s position and movements, and those of Cœnus. The former with the main body took the Indian horse in flank, before they could change their front, and enabled Cœnus to fall on what had been their front but was now their disordered flank: and as to the difficulty in the way of this explanation, that according to Arrian the war-chariots were in front of the Indian horse, it is justly deemed easier to conceive Cœnus eluding these clumsy adversaries, than Alexander expecting him to see from the Macedonian left the right moment for his own charge, and then wheel round the whole Indian army, and execute his orders opportunely. With the same lucidity is the whole narrative commented on: and every geographical, historical, or military difficulty investigated, with a commendable eye both to ancient and modern references and authorities. Equally interesting, too, will be found the elucidations of questions of style, such as in viii. §§ 10, where “igni alita sepulchra” reveals a certainly post-Augustan but doubtfully Ciceronian form; or as in viii. 14 §§ 41 the use of “malum” (plague take you) borrowed interjectionally from the comic poets and, as is shown in the notes ad loc., from Cicero De Off. ii. §§ 53. Students, however, must search this volume minutely to understand aright the helps it affords to their just estimate of Quintus Curtius Rufus as a rhetorical moralist and historian, worthy of perusal in the wake of Livy and of Seneca. Maps, indices, and list of names, are given, which will be found of service.

For our next topic of criticism recourse must be had to Ciceronian Latin, and to the famous speech of Rome’s greatest orator, which is generally reckoned the first of his public and political orations. Called in the MSS. the speech “De imperio Gnæi Pompeii” “apud Quirites” it is better known as the oration pro lege Maniliâ, and because there is no compendious school edition of this speech, apart from others of the same orator in the hands of English school-boys, Professor Wilkins, of Owens College, has judiciously undertaken to prepare an edition of it, with the cognizance, sanction, and assistance of Karl Halm, of Munich, and his smaller edition for English students. The English professor’s name is a sufficient earnest of his work’s thoroughness, and though it might be matter of doubt whether his historical introduction of over forty pages is not unnecessarily circumstantial (we note that in Chambers’ preface to the same oration in the “Ciceronis Selectæ Orationes,” 1849, of their Educational Course, it is limited to two), it must be admitted that a complete preliminary summary has the result of shortening afterwork by admitting of copious references to it in the notes in place of explanation. Such is certainly the case with Mr. Wilkins’s present task (M. Tullii Ciceronis De Imperio Gnœi Pompeii Oratio ad Quirites, by A. S. Wilkins, M.A., Professor of Latin in the Owens College, Manchester. London: Macmillan & Co., 1879), where the introduction traces consecutively the career and campaigns and varying fortunes of Mithridates, during over twenty years, through his struggles with Lucullus, and his easy resistance to Acilius Glabrio, down to the period when the tribune Manilius proposed a Bill to commit the conduct and consummation of the war to the then favourite of fortune, Pompey the [Pg 364] Great. Against this Bill were arrayed the Moderate Republicans, and the talents of the orator Hortensius, whilst on behalf of it spoke Julius Cæsar, either with an eye to a future precedent in his own case, or perhaps to create a reaction. It is probable, however, that the masterly eloquence of Cicero in defence of the Bill, and his exhaustive demonstration of Pompey’s fitness for the supreme command against Mithridates, were the causes of the general and irresistible acceptance of the Manilian proposal. As Mr. Wilkins notes at the close of his introduction, this speech contains the best example from antiquity of the regular arrangement of a speech of the deliberate class, while the third section of the argument presents a model of demonstrative oratory scarcely paralleled in the days of the Republic, except in the funeral orations. As has been already remarked, the fulness of Professor Wilkins’s introduction tends to disencumber his commentary and its notes of digressive and indirect matter; and the result is highly favourable to the due mastery of the sense and gist of the oration by the patient student. Every passage has its critical difficulties explained; every uncommon construction or use of a word is noted; every antithesis is pointed out by the observant editor. In the first class may be instanced the use in c. ii. of vectigalibus in the masculine gender for tributaries, which has its parallel in § 45; in the third the contrast in c. iii., between “In Asiæ luce h.e,” “in the foreground of Asia,” lux being used of what is present to the eyes of all, and open to extensive commerce, as opposed to “Ponti latebris,” as the hiding-place of Mithridates is termed just before. In the same chapter there is an antithesis, as is well shown in the description of past generals having carried off insignia victoriæ, non victoriam, “only triumphs, not a victory;” and as a sample of other notes dealing with fiscal duties and such like, we may notice those in c. vi., on “ubertate agrorum” “magnitudine pastionis,” and the sources of revenue farmed by the “publicani.” In the same passage scriptura is the “rent for pasturage,” and custodiis (§ 16) = “coastguard posts, to prevent vessel unloading unless at the emporia where there were custom-houses.” For publicanis omissis, a despaired-of reading in c. vii. § 18, the editor adopts the conjecture publicanorum bonis or fortunis amissis; and indeed seldom fails in the likeliest cure for a corrupt word or text. Incidentally he is rich in rules for orthography, as where on “tot milibus” he cites Lachmann (Lucret. i. 313) for the use of the single l where a long i is followed by a short one in the next syllable; nor does he fail to note any memorable change of construction, e.g., where in c. xiii. in the sentence, “Hiemis enim non avaritiæ perfagium majores nostri in sociorum atque amicorum tectis esse voluerunt,” we have a change from the objective to the subjective genitive, “a refuge from the winter, not for avarice.” But enough has been said to signify the merit of this handbook; and we must deal more briefly with such other Latin volumes as are still on our list.

Among these perhaps Mr. Reid’s Lælius (M. Tullii Ciceronis Lælius de Amicitia, by James S. Reid, M.L.: Cambridge University Press, 1879) is the most notable, an edition based mainly on Seyffert’s elaborate edition, yet evidently strengthened by seasonable comparison with the best German editions. Mr. Reid disowns acquaintance with any English edition of the Lælius, having only heard of that of Mr. Arthur Sidgwick, when his own was far advanced through the press. The object and purpose of the edition is twofold, viz. (1) elucidation of the subject-matter and comparison of the editor’s own conclusions touching it with those of other editing scholars; and (2) a thorough elucidation of the Latinity of the dialogue, a task to which all who are cognizant of his edition of Cicero’s speeches for Archias and for Balbus will admit his eminent fitness. A fourfold introduction summarises the salient points of Cicero, as a writer of philosophy; the scope of this treatise on “Friendship:” the structure, personages, and other circumstances of the dialogue, and a quasi-dramatic analysis of the same. It will be found that Cicero, whilst having no sympathy with the Epicurean philosophy of his day, sided mainly with the Peripatetics, though inclining in a few points of detail to the Stoics. An instructive disquisition on the sources of the dialogue opens out various clues to inquiring students, and suggests particularly minuter testing of the question how far Cicero directly imitated Plato’s Lysis, which is perhaps more probable than that he used for it the Nicomachean Ethics, although, in form, beyond a doubt the Lælius is more Aristotelian than Platonic. The “mitis sapientia Læli” in the dialogue stands out in contrast with the genial learning of Mucius Scævola and the severer cultivation of Gaius Fannius. An interesting passage in the dialogue is that in which Lælius states a question relating to friendship, in which he was to some extent at issue with Scipio, viz., the difficulty of friendship enduring a whole lifetime. Scipio held the negative view, [Pg 365] and Lælius demurred to it, and in c. x., xi., &c., the occurrences which tend to break off friendship are enumerated. In the tenth chapter are to be found two or three very apt elucidations of the text, such as that on the construction of “contentione condicionis,” and the sense of condicio (not “conditio”) in § 34, but one note (16) on “optimis quibusque” stands out as a sample of exhaustive criticism. The argument of Lælius is that there is no greater curse in friendships than, in the run of men, the desire of money; in the best, the desire of honour and glory: “in optimis quibusque honoris certamen et gloria.” Let us see how Mr. Reid examines this last clause, which he compares with the sentiment, “optimus quisque gloria maxime ducitur,” in the oration for Archias. The best authors, it is shown, use only the neuter plural of quisque, and that with a superlative; Cic. Fam. vii. 33, where we have “literas longissimas quasque,” being exceptional, because literæ, “an epistle,” has no singular. Mr. Reid instances, indeed, from the De Officiis ii. 75, “Leges et proximæ quæque duriores,” but only to propose an emendation to a senseless reading, viz., “Leges, et proxima quæque”—i.e., “laws, and harsher each of them than its predecessor.” In the present case, he adds, “quibusque” may be used for ἑκάστοις in the sense of “each set of people,” or the plural may be due merely to assimilation with “plerisque.” In a note on the difficult passage, p. 41, “et minime tum quidem Gaius frater, nunc idem acerrimus,” Mr. Reid, rightly, it should seem, adopts the interpretation of Madvig, Opusc., 2, 281, that minime qualifies acer to be supplied from “acerrimus.” This sample of interpretational tact must suffice from a copious inventory; and with reference to helpful elucidation of matter and illustration of proper names, quotations, adagia, and what not, it need only be said that it is in this edition always sound and seasonable.

For the same employers, the Syndics of the Pitt Press, Mr. A. G. Peskett, M.A., of Magdalen College, has carefully edited the fourth and fifth books of Cæsar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War, Gai Juli Cæsaris De Bello Gallico Commentariorum, IV. V. (Cambridge University Press, 1879), with a helpful commentary derived from study of German and English editors, and speculations on the topographical, geographical, and astronomical problems involved in Cæsar’s account. These books, it will be remembered, contain inter alia the description of Cæsar’s Bridge over the Rhine, his preparations for invading Britain, his first somewhat abortive attempts, and then, after a winter in Italy and Illyricum, his maturer arrangements, and landing—not without damage to his fleet—on the shore of Britain. The second of these campaigns embraces the narrative of the treachery of Ambiorix and the utter defeat of the Romans, v. 36-7. In the fourth book, one of the most interesting problems is the construction of Cæsar’s Rhine Bridge, c. 17; whether Cæsar’s method of strengthening the four bearing piles with their transverse beams was (as Kraner and Heller practically agree) by four fibulæ at each junction of the beam with the piles (eight in all), or, as Cohausen believes, by two fibulæ at each end, one serving instead of cross-piece c, in fig. 1, for the beam to rest upon. Napoleon’s view of the fibulaæ, given in fig. 4, p. 63, is far less tenable, and the most reasonable view is that of Heller. In c. 36, Book V., note, we have good examples of the actual words of Ambiorix to Titurius, as they may be gathered from the oratio obliqua in which the historian casts them. In c. 37, it should seem that the reading lapsi has less likelihood, though better authority, than “elapsi,” and Napoleon’s identification of the site of the battle is shown to be accurate, in a note discussing the topography of Tongres, the Geer, and the village of Lowaige. From a cursory examination of this edition of two interesting books of Cæsar’s Gallic War we should be disposed to congratulate the young student of intelligence, into whose hands a volume at once so helpful and so lucid may fall. There remains on our list only one Latin volume, the third part of Professor Mayor’s Juvenal for Schools, containing Satires X. and XI. But this, as well as a batch of recent editions of Greek plays and Greek authors, such as Xenophon, Lucian, &c., must be postponed until another time. [Pg 366]


(Under the Direction of Matthew Browne.)

In referring to two more of Messrs. Macmillan and Co.’s English Men of Letters we shall reproduce, reckless of the charge of “damnable iteration,” the charge we have made before. Here is Burke, by Mr. John Morley, and Hume, by Professor Huxley, each volume containing over two hundred close pages; and most admirable volumes they are. But let us turn again to the prospectus and note its language: “These Short Books are addressed to the general public with a view both of stirring and satisfying an interest in literature and its great topics in the minds of those who have to run as they read.” This language is both wide and careful; the old metaphor may be read more or less loosely, of course; and it may be said that those who care much for Burke and Hume must be provided for in the series, and that the writers who deal with them have treated their topics as pleasantly as may be. We do not deny this, and the little volumes are substantial additions to the literature of the day. But they are not for readers who have to run with their books in their hand.

Mr. John Morley’s estimate of Burke is known to us all, and it is what might be expected. As a philosophical politician, and as a speculative writer in general, Burke, of course, pleases Mr. Morley by the positive tendencies of his mind. We are pleased to see that he assigns its due rank to the too often underrated Inquiry about the Sublime and Beautiful. But Mr. Morley has perhaps the fault which Sterne told his friend the Count belonged especially to the French; he is “too serious.” Of course, Burke is a great man, and one must not cut jokes in a memoir of him—at least one must not if one can’t. But it is quite certain Sydney Smith would have done it; and there are many ways in which a page may be lit up. Well worth notice, as an amusing touch, was that passage in the Inquiry in which Burke speaks deprecatingly of Bunyan, because he did not write like Virgil, and though the present work “is biographical rather than critical,” we miss a number of amusing anecdotes. This may be the result of literary fastidiousness on Mr. Morley’s part, but, if so, we submit that the fastidiousness is carried too far. There is a little story that some one (we forget the name at the moment) who had lost largely by investing in some West Indian property, alleged that he had been induced to invest by Burke’s glowing descriptions of the country, and that Burke replied, “Ods boddikins! must one swear to the truth of a song?”—or in very similar language. Now this is really illustrative. We can by no means agree with Mr. Morley that Burke was free from the vicious tendencies of the rhetorician, not to say the rhetorical Celt. He had the Celtic leaning towards forlorn hopes, and the Celtic want of truthfulness. Of course, the Dr. Richard Price, who is so contemptuously treated in the “Reflections,” was a much smaller man than Burke, but he had more love of truth and more capacity of adhering to principle in his little finger than Burke had in his whole nature. Mr. John Morley does his friendly and ingeniously reticent best for him; but students who reject the “positive” method (except as an auxiliary or a check) will persist in thinking that the painful tangles of the great man’s life, and the blind alleys and other faults of his writings, were the result of his deficiency on the side of truthfulness. It will be doing anything but injustice to Burke, Mr. Morley, or the reader, if we call particular attention to p. 173 and so on to p. 177 inclusive. They give a bird’s-eye view of the most important part of the subject; they contain instructive comparisons between Burke, Sir Thomas More, and Turgot: and they seem to us to contain large proof in small compass of what Mr. Morley will of course not admit—namely, Burke’s want of love for the truth, and his incapacity for abstract speculation.

As a reasoned account of the life and writings of the subject of the book, Professor Huxley’s Hume is one of the very best of the series—we were going to pronounce it the best, but remembered in good time that we had not seen them all. In any case it is excellent. It does not seem to us that Hume’s “Description of the Will” is grammatically open to the criticism on p. 181. But comment like this would be useless unless we gave the reader an opportunity of judging. This is Hume’s “description of the Will,” as quoted by Professor Huxley:—

“Of all the immediate effects of pain and pleasure there is none more remarkable than the will; and though, properly speaking, it be not comprehended among the passions, yet as the full understanding of its nature and properties is necessary to the explanation of them, we shall here make it the subject of our inquiry. I desire it may be observed that, [Pg 367] by the will, I mean nothing but the internal impression we feel and are conscious of, when we knowingly give rise to any new motion of our body, or new perception of our mind. This impression, like the preceding ones of pride and humility, love and hatred, it is impossible to define, and needless to describe any further.”—(ii. p. 150.)

And this is Professor Huxley’s comment:—

“This description of a volition may be criticized on various grounds. More especially does it seem defective in restricting the term “will” to that feeling which arises when we act, or appear to act, as causes: for one may will to strike, without striking; or to think of something which we have forgotten.”

But is not this met by the last six of the words which Professor Huxley has italicised? They are certainly very wide, and one might ask, in addition, what word of absolute “restriction” is employed by Hume in this passage? He indicates what he means by the word “Will,” by saying that it is what we are conscious of upon certain occasions, and this gives a clue to the quality of the sensation; but it was obvious, and did not need saying, that the quality of the sensation might remain, though its complete outcome were baulked.

In presenting and criticizing Hume’s views upon such topics as Theism, Immortality and Miracles, Necessary Truth, &c., Professor Huxley is, so far as we have discovered, both accurate and candid. It is only necessary to suggest that the reader should keep his eyes open—for there is really not one new word to be written upon these matters.

It is not often that you are told what a man died of. You are put off with some such phrase as “a painful malady,” or a “family complaint.” Yet, it is often just what we desire to know, because the illness from which a man suffers stands in direct relation to his power of work and his capacity of endurance. Consumption, except in its later stage, is not usually painful. Nor does it necessarily make work difficult. The same may be said of maladies which come on paroxysmally, and leave those blessed intervals of ease of which Paley, himself a sufferer, writes with such unaccustomed tenderness. In the Gibbon of this series, Mr. Morison slurred over the very curious, perhaps unexampled fact, that Gibbon had long concealed a bad hernia and had done nothing for it. It finally killed him, but that with his amazing corpulence he could live a long time with a serious rupture, and keep his general health and his placidity, is very interesting. Professor Huxley tells us point-blank what Hume died of, and it is quite as well for biographers to be specific in such matters. We may just inquire, in passing, where the Professor got his “solid certainty of waking bliss”? It seems pedantic to notice every trifle of this sort, but if small errors in quotation were, so to speak, nipped in the bud, many logomachics would be saved. How much discussion, in pulpits and out of them, has been wasted upon the supposition that Pope wrote that “an honest man’s the noblest work of God.” Whereas Pope wrote “noble,” and it was Burns, in the “Cotter’s Saturday Night,” who started the error. Now “solid” is as good sense as “sober,” but the latter is what suits the verse best, and it is what Milton made Comus say.

The “run” upon Dante continues. Here is Dante: Six Sermons, by Philip H. Wicksteed, M.A. (C. Kegan Paul & Co.) “In allowing,” says Mr. Wicksteed—

“the publication of this little volume, my only thought is to let it take its chance with other fugitive productions of the pulpit that appeal to the press as a means of widening the possible area rather than extending the period over which the preacher’s voice may extend; and my only justification is the hope that it may here and there reach hands to which no more adequate treatment of the subject was likely to find its way.”

The sermons were delivered first at Little Portland Street Chapel, where Mr. Wicksteed succeeded Dr. Martineau, and afterwards at the Free Christian Church at Croydon, where the Rev. Rodolph R. Suffield formerly preached, but where the Rev. E. M. Geldart is now (we believe) the minister. The book contains only about 160 pages, and gives a very readable and complete account both of Dante and his poetry. The style is that of the pulpit, iterative, florid, and full of amplifications; but that was natural. It is a serious matter, however, that the author keeps up his strain of eulogy from end to end at a pitch which has an almost falsetto sound with it. It seems hardly fair to leave unnoticed the charges of artificiality and worse which have been abundantly made against Dante and his poetry, especially as this book is intended for popular use; and it is a pity that Mr. Wicksteed should go out of his way to settle difficult questions in this off-hand way:—

[Pg 368]

“It is often held and taught, that a strong and definite didactic purpose must inevitably be fatal to the highest forms of art, must clip the wings of poetic imagination, distort the symmetry of poetic sympathy, and substitute hard and angular contrasts for the melting grace of those curved lines of beauty which pass one into the other. Had Dante never lived, I know not where we should turn for the decisive refutation of this thought; but in Dante it is the very combination said to be impossible that inspires and enthrals us. A perfect artist guided in the exercise of his art by an unflagging intensity of moral purpose; a prophet, submitting his inspirations”—

and so forth, in the same strained and insistent key. But no wise critic has ever said that “a strong and definite didactic purpose must inevitably be fatal to the highest forms of art.” What is maintained on that side of the debate is that the “purpose” must not be permitted to shape the poem; that the poem itself must be moulded upon lines of beauty and not of “moral purpose”—though the “moral purpose” may be immanent in the work. But who is bound to take Mr. Wicksteed’s word for the statement that Dante’s great poem is not the very strongest confirmation in all literature of the truth that a controlling and interfering moral purpose injures a poem, Milton’s “Paradise Lost” being the next strongest?

A well-known, and also imperfectly known, “nook in the Apennines” is the Republic of San Marino, about which there is a good deal of information in A Freak of Freedom; or, The Republic of San Marino, by J. Theodore Bent (Longman, Green & Co.) It appears to be partly the record of a visit paid by the author to the spot in 1877, and is illustrated by fifteen woodcuts from the author’s own drawings, to say nothing of a map. Mr. Bent was presented with the freedom of the Republic, and we do not know that any one, except another citizen of it, or some near neighbour, could criticize his little book to much advantage. But we trust he will permit us to remark that he might have made his work more amusing and instructive. There is a good deal about the place in Addison, and this is referred to (among other interesting matters) in an article in Knight’s “Penny Magazine” for May 31st, 1834. But, though we have not time to make references, we have a strong impression that there are many descriptions, new and old, of San Marino, which it would have been refreshing to quote. We know, however, of no work which gives so much information as Mr. Bent’s.

It might be the subject of a very plausible doubt whether French novels of a high order ought to be translated into English, since those who are really capable of understanding and enjoying them will be certain to understand French, and since, moreover, the finest qualities of the writing must disappear in the process of translation. Then, with regard to French novels of a much lower class, they are not worth the trouble of turning into English; are more likely in themselves to do harm than good; and their reproduction in our language cannot tend to encourage “native talent.” We have before us, from Messrs. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, The Cat and Battledore, and other Tales, by Honoré de Balzac, translated into English by Philip Kent, B.A. (3 vols.) Perhaps it was not a bad idea to give the merely English reader some chance of appreciating the extraordinary qualities of the author of “Le Père Goriot,” “Le Peau de Chagrin,” and “La Recherche de l’Absolu” (neither of which is, the general reader may be told, in this collection): but Balzac is not a writer with a soul in him, and the experiment need not be carried any further. Those who know nothing of Balzac, and who read novels simply for excitement, will be glad of these three volumes, and the glimpse they give of an unique writer; but to studious readers Balzac’s novels have an interest which is mainly psychological. The preface (here translated) to the “Comédie Humaine” is a strange presumptuous medley, which raises, like all the author’s most characteristic works, the question of perfect sanity—a question which Mr. Leslie Stephen once opened very acutely, and dismissed too curtly. To have read through a story of Balzac’s is to have passed through one of those wonderfully vivid dreams which leave you puzzled and lost at the moment of awaking. It seems to be generally admitted that his writings do not tend to make his readers “immoral” in the usual sense of the adjective, but there is something ineffably droll in his patronage of “Christianity, especially Catholic Christianity,” and that defence of his own writings which the reader may amuse himself by studying in the preface. He is not only conservative, he is monarchical, and objects to representative Government, if it “hands us over to the rule of the masses.” But what chiefly concerns those who buy novels, or send for them to the libraries, is the quality of the stories, and they may depend upon getting a full measure of excitement, with some instruction, out of “La Maison du Chat qui pelote” and the companion stories.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Contemporary Review, Volume 36,
October 1879, by Various


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