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

Author: Various

Release date: December 20, 2016 [eBook #53772]

Language: English

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



Eclectic Magazine

New Series.
Vol. XLI., No. 5.
MAY, 1885. Old Series complete
in 63 vols.




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

With respect to the two principal questions which interest mankind in its complex—that is, in its political and social—existence, the orbit in which the historical period preceding our own revolved, as far as politics are concerned, circled round what we may term the State, although this does not precisely correspond to our present conception of the word; and socially it re3volved round an absolute system of proprietorship, together with the rights and duties which were to a varying extent attached to it, and which included a relative and practically obsolete exercise of charitable customs.

That which was called a State was not always a combination which had, in accordance with the modern conception, the public welfare as its sole and supreme object, but it generally depended on certain rights which had their origin in facts of extreme antiquity. These combinations were of two kinds. The most usual, which was indeed almost universal in Europe, was the monarchy, in which a given family governed and represented the interests of a more or less extensive number of peoples, which in virtue of ancient rights, of conquests, of treaties, or in any other way belonged to her. In a few rare instances these4 monarchies were elective, and the rulers, who were elected by a college, a caste, or in some other manner, found themselves in the same conditions as hereditary sovereigns. The least common, but not the least important and successful, form of government was that of the communities which governed themselves. But even this form relied for its existence on the same elements as the monarchies—that is, on rights, conquests, and treaties, or similar reasons—on which alone the political state of Europe was based up to the year 1815.

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

Throughout this protracted period, of which the beginning is confounded with that of European civilisation, a certain progress did, however, take place in the conditions of European society, which advanced from the capitulations of Charles the Great to the English Great Charter, from arbitrary decrees to the statutes of the republic of Florence, and finally, to the legislative acts of Joseph the Second in Austria, of Leopold in Tuscany, Charles the Third in the kingdom of Naples, and of all the contemporary governments which uttered their last word on such progress as was possible to politicians of that period, and which consisted in adapting as far as possible the inflexible exigencies of ancient rights to the necessities of modern facts, and in inducing those who governed by divine right to consider the interests of the people. But this was only up to a certain point, and the relative5 conditions of the governors and the governed did not cease to be the basis of European policy.

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

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

Nor was it otherwise with social questions. The conception that every man might do what he pleased with his own, and might transmit it to others both before and after his death, was more or less present in the constitution of all civil societies. But this system deprived of the enjoyments of life all those who were unable to acquire property for themselves, and to whom no one could or would transmit it. In one word, in this system there were no official disposi6tions for the poor, who nevertheless constitute the eternal problem of human society. In fact, money enough for the permanent and complete relief of the poor could not be found, nor the mode of useful legislation on this subject. But an appeal beneath the beneficent influence of Christianity was made to the most refined sentiments of humanity, and created duties which, however imperfectly fulfilled, were imperious, and relied on a divine sanction. In this way charity provided for the variable and indefinite needs which exist in all human societies, from the richest and most fortunate to the poorest and most unhappy, and did so with the buoyant and indefinite force inspired by sentiment, which contrasts strongly with similar laws and provisions enacted by the State.

The modern phase of thought does not venture openly to attack socially property, as politically it has attacked divine right, because it has not known what to substitute in its place. It was less difficult to sustain universal suffrage, which met with fewer obstacles in its translation into fact than communism or socialism. There has therefore been no direct attack on property, but for a long while circuitous means have been taken to undermine its rights. By the destruction of the feudal system, the bonds which connected property with the exercise of political power were burst asunder, and another blow was struck at its stability by the abolition of the rights of eldest sons, and of all the other privileges belonging to it, according to ancient usage. Later, legitimate successions and those of intestate persons have been regulated, and thus the disintegration has been gradually prepared. Finally, the laws of taxation for purposes of the State or of public welfare have further confiscated a large portion of private property. Hence it may be said that on great part of the Continent property of every kind—rural, urban, movable, or immovable—has become a merchandise, great part of which is administered by trustees for the benefit of the State, while the rest is subject to a number of laws, contracts, and combinations which cause it to pass from one person to another with the utmost rapidity, so that its enjoyment may be7 extended to as large a number as possible, since the mode of distributing it to all has not yet been discovered.

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

We do not, however, assert that the inexhaustible source of human kindness with which God has mercifully endowed our nature does not still find means of doing good, and great good. Institutions, which are for the most part beneficent, abound on every side, and supply the place of the ancient foundations which have disappeared. But the conception and its mode of execution are different and do not correspond with the old usage. Everything is done according to rule in modern philanthropy. There are free municipal schools in which instruction is given to those who do or do not desire it. There are hospitals in which a definite number of patients afflicted by certain diseases are collected, and if the number is exceeded or the symptoms are not the same, they are left to die until a hospital is founded which is intended for such cases. If a man is in want of bread he receives a garment, because the institution which might help him only provides clothes; and if a whole family is dying of hunger they will receive a mattress if directed to an institution which only supplies beds. The liberal charity which is personal and intelligent, and which corresponds to the infinite variety and combinations of human necessities, lingers, thank God! in the hearts of the beneficent, but its form is discredited and its means are abridged. The great mass of the funds which were devoted to charity is now diverted into the official and semi-official channels of8 modern philanthropy. In my opinion, the relief which is now given does good without remedying the evil, since a dinner for to-day is always welcome, but it will not prevent a man from dying of hunger next week, or of cold if he has not wherewithal to cover himself; while a loaf or a cloak given at a propitious moment may save the life of a man or of a whole family. So it may be said that the place of charity has been taken by the struggle for existence, only modified by administrative philanthropy.

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

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


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

Since the country (patria), in the limited sense of the word, had disappeared—that is, the political unity which was represented by the dynasty or flag or even simply a steeple, the early symbol of the old societies—the sentiment of association took its concrete form in a fresh combination, more in harmony with the democratic tendencies of our times. It assumed the widest possible basis—to constitute a society which should unite all common interests,9 and should be governed in conformity with these. It is, indeed, not surprising that men who speak the same language, inhabit the same zone, who are alike in their customs and dispositions, who are, in short, what is now called a nation, should present all these characteristics, and should therefore become the new political unit both of the present and the future, thus replacing the earlier units formed by heredity or conquests without respect to the interests of all the component elements.

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

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

The production of these nationalities has, however, been accompanied by all the defects of the system which preceded them. They have brought with them all the rancours of ancient Europe. The rancours of Francis I. and of Charles V. have been transmuted into the deadly enmity which exists between French and Germans. The testament of Frederic II. has led to the pro10gramme of the German people, and the ambitious projects of Catherine II. have issued in the aspirations of the Slave race. So though the new era which began with nationality indicates a real progress in the internal constitution of the different States, and in the fundamental reasons for their several governments; still with respect to their international relations to universal justice and to general peace, in a word, with respect to the progress of the human race in morals, we find ourselves—to make use of the metaphor we employed at first—in a fresh spiral, equally limited in space, in which there is a relative progress, but it has only a slight influence on the general progress of humanity. And, to turn from abstract principles to the concrete limits of politics, the present state of things is not promising nor hopeful for the peace of Europe.

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

We must, however, leave the speculative side of the question to philosophers, since what concerns us in the interests of this same civilisation is to examine the practical results of the situation in Europe in its political aspect, with which we are at this moment occupied. Brief11ly, we wish to ascertain what is now the political situation of Europe, in consequence and in presence of the new basis on which European rights are established.

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

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

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

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

France and Spain are the countries which have least to ask in the way of expansion; the former because her territory was acquired before the enunciation of the principle was formulated, the latter because of her limited proportions, unless, following the interpretations of Russia, she should entertain the ambition, which up to this time is scarcely12 perceptible if it exists at all, of acquiring the whole Iberian peninsula.

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

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

The German nation must absorb a few more States in order to constitute itself into a political unity, but since the most important would shake to its foundations the Austro-Hungarian empire, this last annexation will be deferred as long as possible. The fraction of Germans which remains to be absorbed into the empire would only augment the number of its constituents by some millions, and its territory by some provinces; meanwhile in its present condition it fulfils the mission of a colony detached from the parent nation, impressed with the same char13acteristics, and adhering to the same interests, and thus constituting a weighty instrument for carrying out the national views throughout the Austro-Hungarian empire, which, amidst the conflict of the different nationalities of which it consists, is clearly and irresistibly impelled towards that which is the nearest, the most energetic, and the most powerful. This state of things is too favorable to Germany to allow her to hasten to exchange her independent colonies in Austria into faithful subjects of the German Emperor. There remain other tendencies to assimilation on the side of Russia and of Switzerland. The first are so problematical that they may be regarded as a pretext rather than a claim. The second have not, up to this time, acquired any appearance of probability, since Switzerland has had the privilege of constituting an artificial and political nationality out of such as are truly geographical and ethnographical, and has gallantly resisted any encroachment, so that on this side also any assimilation must be regarded as immature. We must not, however, forget the homogeneity of race, if Germany should be for any cause impelled to approach or to cross the Alps. In such a case the effects of this homogeneity must make themselves felt.

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

Since, therefore, we are considering the subject from the political point of view, as it now exists, we shall only regard those tendencies which actually demand satisfaction, and which, therefore, constitute an element and a factor of contemporary politics. The more important tendencies may be reduced to few, intense in character, and wielding mighty forces. The others may be con14sidered as depending by those which are greater and stronger, only differing in degree of intensity and power. They generally take an intermediate place, and receive their satisfaction second-hand, according to their position on the right or wrong side in the great conflict of interests. They usually follow the fortune of the conquered or conquering leaders.

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

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

Russia would have overcome the first15 obstacle, in spite of the tenacity of the Ottoman policy and the bravery of the army, if it were not complicated by the second. The great and moribund empire of Turkey has still vitality enough to respond to the affectionate care of the more or less interested physicians who take charge of her.

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

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

From 1870 onwards, a new and very important actor appeared on the Oriental stage. Austria, repulsed by the different nationalities—by Italy in 1859,16 by Germany in 1866—for the very reason that she was the only European State which did not rely on nationality, that exclusive and jealous factor of modern politics, has been obliged to depend on one of those already in existence, and also to create for herself a scope and office which might justify her own existence. She has found these two objects fulfilled by the Oriental question.

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

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

Consequently, Russia finds in the German nationality upon her western frontier a much more serious and permanent barrier than that which was raised by17 the political combinations of 1855. Her development in the East is opposed, as well as the expansion of her influence in Europe, which is still more important. We see these two great nationalities fatally opposed to each other by their most vital necessities, and in the objects they most ardently desire. The wise and prudent combinations of the statesmen of these two great countries are applied to smooth difficulties and distract attention from these fatal conditions; and owing to the calm temperament of these nations, and to the discipline still maintained by their Governments, they have been successful up to a certain point. The ancient alliance of the three emperors has, however, already become that of two. On the one side there is a true and serious alliance established between the two houses of Germany and Austria; on the other, a close, warm, and probably sincere friendship between the houses of Germany and Russia. But none such can be firmly established between the three; and as for the two most numerous and powerful nationalities of Europe, they may (and the God of Peace will reward them for it) dissimulate, soften, temporise—do everything in their power to avert too rapid or too violent a collision of the important interests of their subjects, but they cannot change the nature of things. The two great nationalities, Slav and German, are essentially rivals, both in geographical position and in their political aims.

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

This nationality, like all those of recent origin, desires to feel itself secure. On the one side there is an instinctive fear of the possible conflagrations to which the influence of their powerful neighbor may give rise; on the other, it cannot lose sight of the strong antagonism between Germany and France which dates from 1870. It will for a long period be difficult to overcome this antagonism, since it is founded on the great frontier interests which have been contested on both sides. As long as France is deprived of her traditional frontier she will never feel herself secure, and if it were surrendered by Germany, she would lose all the fruits of her loss and bloodshed in 1870. Even if it were18 only a contest for influence and supremacy, it is not in the French nature to submit to defeat without feeling from time to time the desire for revenge. This impulse alone in so excitable a nation is enough to keep Germany watchful in this direction. Certainly such an occurrence is not at present either certain or threatening, but it is always possible that their two formidable neighbors may combine, and this would re-act also on the different nationalities which compose the Austro-Hungarian empire. It is this danger which keeps the German nation in an indefinite and indefinable state of uneasiness, to her own economical ruin, as well as to that of all the European States which are compelled to imitate her.

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

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

It was readily believed that the opportunity of securing predominance in Europe, for which Germany had been so elaborately prepared, and which a chance unlikely to occur twice in the lifetime of peoples so liberally offered her, would not be let slip by the German Government. The war with France has been justly called a Punic War, or a deadly strife for supremacy in Europe. And therefore the second Punic War was looked for in a period in which it should not be possible for Russia to intervene. According to the plan by which the Roman Horatius fought with his rivals one by one, it seemed that the19 dominion, if not of the world, at any rate of Europe, was secured to Germany.

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

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

The mountain did not, however, bring forth a mouse but a canard, for such it must appear to our calmer judgment, in the unexpected rumor of a Franco-German alliance. We are not now in a position to examine the reasons of this abortive birth. It only concerns us to show that when the hypothesis of this solution was overthrown by the power so ably and opportunely exerted, the question was reproduced to the German nation in its integrity. Placed between and in collision with the interests of two great nationalities, the one consisting of nearly sixty and the other of forty million inhabitants, Germany was still uneasy and insecure. Her people are, however, strictly disciplined, trained for conflict, and of a naturally brave temperament, and all means have been used to develop this quality in them. We know that when men conscious of strength are uncomfortable or of evil humor they soon try to mend their condition, and that they expend their wrath on some thing or person20 until they have regained security and calmness. This constitutes one of the most serious questions now presented to Europe, and whence issues much of the uncertainty and dangers which menace its peace.

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

The sudden transition from a state of mortal war to that of an alliance might have been contemplated in the political exigencies of the times of Cardinal Richelieu—that is, when foreign politics were of a kind of sacerdotalism, only transacted by Cabinets, on which public opinion exercised little or no21 influence. But it is difficult to believe, in the present state and exigencies of public opinion, and especially in France, that it would be easy or possible to stifle in a diplomatic combination, however able and useful, the memories of Metz and Sedan, the loss of the Rhine Provinces and the occupation of Paris.

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

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

The people of Germany are very poor, owing to the natural conditions of the soil and climate, poor also owing to compulsory military service, to which, however, they willingly submit for the sake of their national existence. If a strong people does not long tolerate an uneasy condition, neither can it tolerate poverty. One which is strong and poor is a dangerous neighbor to richer peoples. Now, from whatever side we cross the German frontier, we are struck by the prosperity and riches of the neigh22boring nations, whether agricultural, manufacturing, or mercantile. The only advertisement posted up in every German village is the name of the company, battalion, and regiment to which it belongs, instead of the numerous advertisements which we find in similar villages of Belgium, France, and Holland, announcing transactions of trade, commerce, and manufactures. When we see the poor and humble villages which are thus classified, we might say that the German nation is merely encamped in the midst of Europe.

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

We have thus briefly indicated the tendencies of two among the principal nationalities. France comes next in importance, and since she is in fact the most ancient, so that her customs and interests are firmly welded in spite of23 all her misfortunes, she need not greatly concern herself about the fact of her existence. It would be difficult to make any breach in the unity of France, since the traces of her ancient divisions no longer exist. Her external borders may be enlarged or restricted wherever the popular characteristics are less marked, or even ambiguous, so that their affections and interests may oscillate towards neighborly nations. But the great nucleus of the people has no fear of being other than it is, and this is not now the source of agitation in France. It is precisely because she has long been secure in the enjoyment and free exercise of all her faculties as a nation that her tendencies are more clearly and explicitly displayed.

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

The present Government, instinctively conscious of this state of things, and not feeling strong enough to make war on its more powerful neighbors lest it should be ruined in its turn, has invented a diversion by transposing the problem—waging war in Asia and Africa, and carrying fire and flames into all parts of the world which could offer no resistance. The first idea of this policy must be ascribed to Louis Philippe, who owed the tranquillity of the early years of his reign to the conquest of Algeria. Other European nations have undertaken colonisation or conquest of distant lands with reference to their material prosperity, but conquest has24 been the primary object of France. Economic views take a secondary place, out of proportion with the scale of the enterprise, and are, indeed, rather a pretext. This constitutional restlessness of France, which is only arrested by force, has long constituted one of the gravest perils which threaten the peace of Europe.

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

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

We have reserved England to the last, because her political condition as it concerns her nationality is altogether distinct from those with which we have been hitherto occupied. If by nationality we mean homogeneous characteristics of race, a similarity in language, religion, and customs, the Anglo-Saxon nationality extends beyond the United Kingdom into both hemispheres. If, on the other hand, we regard the United Kingdom as an actual political unit, we find that it is composed of different races, in which are included the English, Scotch, and Irish, which have nothing in common with each other but their official language. And yet, while the English nation has for good reasons never posed, morally speaking, as the champion of nationalities, she presides over the most cultured, numerous, and energetic nationality in the world. But the Anglo-Saxon nationality does not25 need nor desire, and indeed is unable, to be a political unit. It may be said that the Anglo-Saxon race has passed through the historical period of a nationality without observing it. It has advanced beyond this period to attain to the ideal of a civilisation forming whole parts of the world, in which only one language is spoken, in which we find the same customs, interests, and religion, or, at any rate, the faculty of accepting, each man for himself, what seems good to him, without allowing this diversity to produce, either in theory or practice, a distinction which has any political efficacy.

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

This fact gives to the English people, which represents that nationality in Europe, an exceptional power and authority. The English people may become decadent as an European Power, but as a nationality it will be unmenaced, since it does not represent a limited political unit, but the half of the world. If the German nationality should ever be baffled in the political combination made since 1870, she would lose her political importance in the world. But if Britain were attacked and conquered, the Anglo-Saxon nationality would still remain the greatest political power in the universe. Hence this nationality or race is exalted above all the narrow sentiments which underlie the policy of the different European States; but England herself as a State and political unit is jealous of the power which has26 in less than two centuries produced the miraculous development of the Anglo-Saxon race to its present extent; but if this jealousy is shown by the legitimate defence of a greatness achieved by what was, comparatively speaking, a handful of men from a remote island in the Atlantic, it does not express itself in the palpitations of a whole people struggling for their existence, which is the case with continental nations.

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


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

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

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

Yet we do not believe that we should lose confidence in progress, and repudi28ate it in order to revert to the old state of things, nor yet that the principles and ideas of which we have spoken are not really progressive. Progress is a law of humanity which, if it were not, as it undoubtedly is, beneficial, must be fatal to it; and it is certainly a mark of progress that community of language, customs, and tendencies is regarded as a reason for political union rather than certain arbitrary or fortuitous combinations of successions, treaties, conquests, and the like. Above all, it is well to have substituted the right of good government for that which is merely arbitrary. We must again regard as progressive some of the modifications introduced in the laws relating to property. I say some of them, since it was perhaps dangerous to shake prematurely the foundations of the systems by which it has been ordered up to this time, when those which are to replace them are still imperfect and untried.

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

Besides, and in the meantime as a compensation, our gentler customs, a real progress in the education of sentiments and general culture, greatly neutralise the effect of this violent state of things. After the Russian has made a long tirade on the future of the Slav race, he sets out for the Rhine or Paris, and forgets the mystical and obscure visions of Holy Russia in the genuine pleasures of civilisation. When the German lays aside his deadly arms in order to re-enter civic life, his prejudices against the Latin race often fade before the amenity of a Frenchman and the glorious sun of Italy. Undoubtedly the multiplicity, the facility and gentleness of intercourse produced by modern civilisation, are of great efficacy in paralysing the effects of national antagonism and of social hatreds, but our watchfulness must not therefore relax. But, notwithstanding all these considerations, we persist in believing that until European opinion is modified on these important subjects, European policy must always take account of them, constantly on the watch lest she should be surprised by wars and unforeseen catastrophes,29 which would compromise the long and laborious work of her refined civilisation.

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

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

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

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

But precisely because European civilisation is so elaborate and complex, it30 would be an error to suppose that catastrophic causes are needed in order seriously to affect the conditions of our comparative civility. Feudal and tyrannical wars took place in barren lands, amid rude castles and squalid villages; those which are national and social must be fought out amidst gardens and the monuments of art and manufacture. The last wars recorded by history had Lombardy and Champagne as their theatre, or were fought in the streets of Paris. Any of the tendencies indicated by us in the foregoing considerations which should terminate in a conflict would take place under analogous conditions and in the same degree of civilisation which, while it might mitigate the modes of warfare, must make its effects more grievous. And the same ambition to possess distant countries which are more or less civilised may also be equally full of danger to commerce, international relations, the peace of Europe, and the interests of civilisation.

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



Amongst the many sagacious sayings of the patient and profound thinkers of Germany, not the least noteworthy was Schelling’s affirmation that the phenomena of instinct are some of the most important of all phenomena, and capable of serving as a very touch-stone whereby the value of competing theories of the universe may be effectually tested. His prescience has been justified by our experience. The greatest scientific event of the present time is the wide acceptance of the theory of evolution, and its use as a weapon of offence and defence. It is used both against the belief that intelligent purpose is, as it were, incarnate in the living world about us, and also in favor of a merely mechanical theory of nature. Now it would be difficult to find a more searching test of that theory’s truth than is supplied by a careful study of instinct. The essence of that view of nature which is associated with the name of Professor Haeckel,1 a negation of the doctrine of32 final causes and an assertion of what he calls “Dysteleology,” that is, the doctrine of the purposelessness of the organs and organisms which people a purposeless planet. That doctrine may be called the gospel of the irrationality of the universe, and it is a doctrine to which a proof of the real existence of such a thing as “instinct” must necessarily be fatal. Instinct has been defined2 as a “special internal impulse, urging animals to the performance of certain actions which are useful to them or to their kind, but the use of which they do not themselves perceive, and their performance of which is a necessary consequence of their being placed in certain circumstances.” Such an impulse is always understood to be the result of sensations: actions which take place in response to unfelt stimuli being referred, not to instinct, but to what is termed reflex action. In such action it is commonly supposed that the mechanism of a living body occasions a prompt responsive muscular movement upon the occurrence of some unfelt stimulation of the nervous system. The nervous system, or total mass of nerve-stuff—which is technically called “nerve-tissue”—in the body of an33 animal, such as a beast, bird, reptile, or fish, is composed of two parts or divisions. One of these divisions consists of a voluminous and continuous mass—the brain and spinal cord (or spinal marrow), which form what is called the central part of the nervous system. The second division consists of a multitude of white threads or cords—the nerves, which form what is called the peripheral part of the nervous system. Of these nerves one set proceed forth from the central part of the nervous system to the different muscles, which they can cause to contract by a peculiar action they exert upon them, thus producing motion. Another set of nerves proceed inwards, from the skin to the central part of the nervous system, and by their peculiar action give rise to various sensations, according as different influences or stimulations are brought to bear upon the skin at, or in the vicinity of, their peripheral extremities. Under ordinary circumstances, different stimulations of the surface of the body convey an influence inwards, which produces sensation, and give rise to an outwardly proceeding influence to the muscles, resulting in definite and appropriate motions.

There are cases in which responsive actions take place under very abnormal conditions—as after a rupture of part of a man’s spinal cord, or the removal of the whole brain in lower animals, such as the frog. A man so injured may have utterly lost the power of feeling any stimulation—pricking, cutting, or burning—of his legs and feet, the injury preventing the conveyance upwards to the brain of the influence necessary to ordinary sensation, and stopping short at the spinal cord below the point of injury. Nevertheless, such a man may execute movements in response to stimuli just as if he did feel, and often in an exaggerated manner. He will withdraw his foot if tickled with a feather just as if he felt the tickling, which he is utterly incapable of feeling. Similarly a decapitated frog will make with his hind legs the most appropriate movements to remove any irritating object applied to the hinder part of its body. Such action is termed “reflex action,” on the supposition that the influence conveyed inwards by nerves going from34 the skin to the spinal cord is reflected back from that cord to the muscles by the other set of nerves without any intervention of sensation. This action of the frog may be carried to a very singular extreme. At the breeding season the male frog tightly grasps the female behind her arms, and to enable him the more securely to maintain his hold, a warty prominence is then developed on the inner side of each of his hands. Now if such a male frog be taken, and not only decapitated, but the whole hinder part of the body removed also, so that nothing remains but the fragment of the trunk from which the two arms with their nerves proceed, and if under these circumstances the warty prominences be touched, the two arms will immediately close together like a spring, thus affording a most perfect example of reflex action. It has been objected by the late Mr. G. H. Lewes and others that we cannot be sure but that the spinal cord itself “feels.” But there is often an ambiguity in the use of the term “to feel.” By it we ordinarily mean a “modification of consciousness;” but experiences such as those just adverted to, and others in ourselves to which I shall next advert, show clearly that surrounding agents may act upon our sense organs without the intervention of anything like consciousness, and yet produce effects otherwise similar to those which occur when they do arouse consciousness. Without, then, entering into any discussion as to whether “sentiency” may or may not be attributed to the spinal cord, it seems evident that some definite term is required to denote such affections or modifications of living beings as those just referred to. Inasmuch as they are affections of creatures possessing a nervous system, which is the essential organ of sensation, and as they resemble sensation in their causes and effects though feeling itself may be absent, they may be provisionally distinguished as “unfelt sensations.” Such are some of the actions with which instinct is contrasted, because, unlike instinct, they are not carried on by the aid of felt sensations, the highest of such insentient action being reflex action.

There are also a number of actions which constantly recur in ourselves,35 which more or less nearly approximate to reflex action. Thus the respiratory movements, the various muscular motions by the aid of which we breathe, are ordinarily performed by us without advertence, though we can, if we will, perform them with self-conscious deliberation. It is well also to note that when our mind is entirely directed upon some external object, or when we are almost in a state of somnolent unconsciousness, we have but a vague feeling of our existence—a feeling resulting from the unobserved synthesis of our sensations of all orders and degrees. This unintellectual sense of “self” may be conveniently distinguished from intellectual consciousness as “consentience.” We may also, as everybody knows, suddenly recollect sights or sounds which were quite unnoticed at the time we experienced them; yet our very recollection of them proves that they must, nevertheless, have affected our sensorium. Such unnoticed modifications of our sense organs may also be provisionally included in the category of those actions of the lower animals, before provisionally denominated “unfelt sensations.” It is not, however, with such inferior activities as reflex and other insentient actions that instinct is commonly contrasted, but with “reason.” Now “reasonable,” “consciously intelligent”conduct is understood by all men to mean conduct in which there is a more or less wise adaptation of means to ends—a conscious, deliberate adaptation, not one due to accident only. No one would call an act done blindly a reasonable or intelligent action on the part of him who did it, however fortunate might be its result. Instinctive actions, then, hold a middle place between (1) those which are rational, or truly intelligent, and (2) those in which sensation has no place. But a great variety of actions of different kinds occupy this intermediate position, and we must next proceed to separate off from the others, such actions as may be deemed truly instinctive.

M. Albert Lemoine, who has written the best treatise3 known to us on36 instinct and habit, distinguishes instinctive actions as those which are neither due to mechanical or chemical causes, nor to intelligence, experience, or will. They are actions which take place with a general fixity and precision, are generally present in all the individuals of each species, and can be perfectly performed the very first time their action is called for, so that they cannot be due to habit. Instinct, he very truly says, is more than a want and less than a desire. Instinct is a certain felt internal stimulus to definite actions which has its foundation in a certain sense of want, but is not definite feeling of want of the particular end to be attained. Were that recognised, it would not be instinct, but desire. It is but a vague craving to exercise certain activities the exercise of which conduces to useful or needful, but unforeseen, end. Instinct often sets in motion organs quite different from those which feel the prick of want, and which do not (experience apart) seem to have relation with it. Hunger does not stimulate to action the organs of digestion which suffer from it, but excites the limbs and jaws to perform acts by which food may be obtained and eaten. In examining into instinct, we must be careful not to omit the consideration of it as it exists in man, since we can know no creature so well as we can, by the help of language and reflection, know ourselves and our own species. Nevertheless, it may be well to begin by calling attention to certain apparently undeniable cases of instinct in other animals, since in them instinct is much more apparent and complex than in man, in whom it is indeed reduced to a minimum. It might naturally be expected to be so reduced in him—if it is a power serving to bridge over the gulf which exists between such almost mechanical action as reflex action, and true intelligence—since in man acts of intelligence, or habits originated through intelligence, come so constantly into play. But before enumerating cases of animal instinct, a word should be said as to one character which M. Lemoine attributes to instinctive action, namely, “consciousness,” This term is an exceedingly ambiguous one, as it is often referred, not only to our distinct37 intellectual perception of our own being and acts, but also to every state of feeling however rudimentary it may be. I would therefore avoid the use of so equivocal a term, while fully admitting that no sensation in any animal is possible without some subjective psychical state analogous to what I have before denominated “consentience.” Now, as to the lower animals: birds unquestionably possess instinctive powers. Chickens, two minutes after they have left the egg,4 will follow with their eyes the movements of crawling insects, and peck at them, judging distance and direction with almost infallible accuracy. They will instinctively appreciate sounds, readily running towards an invisible hen hidden in a box, when they hear her “call.” Some young birds, also, have an innate, instinctive horror of the sight of a hawk and of the sound of its voice. Swallows, titmice, tomtits, and wrens, after having been confined from birth, are capable of flying successfully at once, when liberated, on their wings having attained the necessary growth to render flight possible. The Duke of Argyll5 relates some very interesting particulars about the instincts of birds, especially of the water ousel, the merganser, and the wild duck. Even as to the class of beasts I find recorded:6 “Five young polecats were found comfortably embedded in dry withered grass; and in a side hole, of proper dimensions for such a larder, were forty frogs and two toads, all alive, but merely capable of sprawling a little. On examination the whole number, toads and all, proved to have been purposely and dexterously bitten through the brain.” Evidently the parent polecat had thus provided the young with food which could be kept perfectly fresh, because alive, and yet was rendered quite unable to escape. This singular instinct is like others which are yet more fully developed amongst insects—a class of animals the instincts of which are so numerous, wonderful, and notorious that it will be, probably, enough to refer to one or38 two examples. The female carpenter bee, in order to protect her eggs, excavates, in some piece of wood, a series of chambers, in special order with a view to a peculiar mode of exit for her young: but the young mother can have no conscious knowledge of the series of actions subsequently to ensue. The female of the wasp, sphex, affords another well-known but very remarkable example of a complex instinct closely related to that already mentioned in the case of the polecat. The female wasp has to provide fresh, living animal food for her progeny, which, when it quits its egg, quits it in the form of an almost helpless grub, utterly unable to catch, retain, or kill an active, struggling prey. Accordingly the mother insect has only to provide and place beside her eggs suitable living prey, but so to treat it that it may be a helpless, unresisting victim. That victim may be a mere caterpillar, or it may be a great, powerful grasshopper, or even that most fierce, active, and rapacious of insect tyrants, a fell and venomous spider. Whichever it may be, the wasp adroitly stings it at the spot which induces, or in the several spots which induce, complete paralysis as to motion, let us hope as to sensation also. This done, the wasp entombs the helpless being with its own egg, and leaves it for the support of the future grub. Another species feeds her young one from time to time with fresh food, visiting at suitable intervals the nest she has made and carefully covered and concealed with earth, which she removes and replaces, as far as necessary, at each visit. If the opening be made ready for her, this, instead of helping her to get at her young, altogether puzzles her, and she no longer seems to recognise her young, thus showing how thoroughly “instinctive” her proceedings are. Other instances of instinct, such as those of the stag-beetle and emperor moth, I will refer to presently. But most wonderful, perhaps, of all are the instincts of social insects, such as bees, where there are not only males and females, but a large population of practically neuter insects, the special instincts and peculiarities of which have of course to be transmitted, not directly by an antecedent set of neuter animals, but by39 females, the instincts and peculiarities of which are very different from those of the neutral portion of their progeny.

The instincts we have hitherto noticed, and, I may say briefly, the instincts of animals generally, are destined to subserve two functions, (1) the preservation and, mainly, the nutrition, of the individual, and (2) the reproduction of the species. Armed with the facts we have now noticed, let us turn to consider instinct as it displays itself in ourselves. As one example, there is the instinct action by which an infant first sucks the nipple, and then swallows the thence-extracted nourishment with which its mouth is filled. This action must be reckoned as instinctive, because it is done directly after birth, when there has been no time for learning to perform the action; it is one absolutely necessary for the life of the infant; it is an action which is definite and precise, similarly performed by all the individuals of the species, though effected by a very complex mechanism, and is effected prior to experience. Yet it is not as mechanical as reflex action, for not only sensation, but consentience, accompanies the act. Thus sucking in man is an instinctive action, while spitting, on the other hand, is an art. The latter is not necessary to life, and the power of performing it is slowly acquired by experience, as are also our powers of walking and feeding ourselves. But the action of sucking in an adult human being is of course not instinctive; and because the child learns to walk, it by no means follows that the insect learns to fly. It is thus plain that actions may be instinctive in one animal and not in another; or at one period of life in the same animal and not at another. In a child, however, sucking, deglutition, inspiration, and expiration are instinctive actions, as are also those by which the products of excretion are removed from the body. The second class of instincts, those which ensure the continuance of the race, show themselves of course, only much later. Yet, long before the little girl can represent to herself future tributes to her charms, she seeks to decorate her tiny body with the arts of infant coquetry. Still less does she look forward to the pains and pleasures of40 maternity when she begins to caress and chastise, to soothe and cherish, her first doll, and fondly presses it to that region whence her future offspring will draw its nourishment. Again, when the lapse of a few years having made her a young woman and the boy a youth, they first feel the influence of love, however ignorant they may be of the physiology of their race, they will none the less, circumstances permitting, be surely impelled towards the performance of very definite actions. In the more refined individuals of the highest races of mankind, the material, merely animal, consummation of sexual love is most certainly far from being the one great end distinctly looked forward to by each pair of lovers. Yet every incident of affectionate intercourse, every tender glance, every contact of hand or lip, infallibly leads on towards the one useful end, indispensable to the race, which nature has in view. Such actions fully merit to be called “instinctive.” Indeed the act of generation is ministered to in nature by the most manifold, imperious, general, and inexplicable of all the instincts, and its instinctive character is the most strongly marked of all. It has emphatically for its origin a rigorously determined and precise want, partly painful, partly pleasurable—a mixture of a feeling of privation with a sense of power. Its end is unknown to the agent, or if known is disregarded, and in almost all animals it demands the concurrent and reciprocal action of two diverse organisms. If anyone would deny that it is instinctive in man, I would advise him to study the sad phenomena connected therewith which may be observed in our asylums for the insane.

There are other human actions which are sometimes reckoned as instinctive, such as guarding the eye against injury by suddenly closing the eyelids. This action, however, appears to be an acquired art, though the habitual act of winking to keep clean the surface of the eye may be instinctive. Some other actions, however, not generally regarded as instinctive, I should be disposed so to regard. Such are the first active exercises of the senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling (the first “looking,” the first “listening,” etc.)41 which the child performs at the very beginning of its learning to perform them. It would seem, then, as if no one could deny the existence of such a thing as instinct, and yet it has been denied, not only in recent times, but centuries ago. Thus Montaigne sought to explain instinct as but a form of intelligence, while Descartes taught that it was but mechanism. Condillac regarded it as the result of individual experience, and Lemarck considered it to be merely “habit” which had become hereditary. In our own day Darwin has sought to explain it as partly the result of accidental variations of activity, which variations have become naturally selected, and partly the result of intelligent, purposive action which has become habitual and inherited. Let us consider these attempts at explanation seriatim. First as to mechanism: This is an hypothesis no one at present entertains, as everyone now credits animals with sensitivity. Moreover, instincts are not absolutely invariable, but are modifiable according to the degree of “intelligence” which animals possess. They cannot, therefore, be due merely to a mechanism. The attempt to explain “Instinct” by mere “reflex action” is equivalent to an attempt to explain a phenomenon by omitting its most striking characteristic. In “reflex action” we have a sudden response to a stimulus, which response is more or less purposive as regards the time of its occurrence, but has no reference to future events to occur long after the faintest waves of the stimulating action have died out. The very essence of “instinct,” however, is to provide for a more or less distant future, often, as we have seen, the future of another generation. It is essentially telic, and directed to a future unforeseen, but generally useful, end. This explanation, then, is fundamentally and necessarily inadequate. It is like an explanation of the building of a house, by “bricks, mortar, bricklayers, and hodmen,” with the omission of all reference to any influence governing their motions and directing them towards a common and predetermined end which is not theirs. But though we cannot explain “instinct” by “reflex action,” there is none the less a certain obvious42 affinity between these two forms of animal activity, and it is in part my object to point out the nature of this very affinity.

Next we may pass in review the two hypotheses that instinct is but (1) a form of intelligence, or (2) individual experience. As to the first, I have already given instances of unquestionably instinctive actions performed by birds as soon as they quit the eggshell, and it would be but waste of time to argue against the view that the human infant is guided by intelligent purpose and conscious foresight in his very first acts of sucking, swallowing, and defecation. Actual intelligence, therefore, is a radically insufficient explanation, as also, for the very same reasons, is Condillac’s hypothesis as to individual experience. About “lapsed intelligence” I will speak later on. Lemarck’s hypothesis, that instinct is but inherited habit, is one which is much more worthy of careful consideration than any we have yet considered. For it may be admitted at once that habits may be inherited. There are many instances of such inheritance in human beings, and as regards the lower animals, the barking of dogs may be taken as an instance of a habit thus perpetuated. In fact “habit,” when inherited, so simulates instinct, that their confusion is far from surprising. There is, however, this radical difference between them: “habit” enables an agent to repeat with facility and precision an act which has been done before, but “instinct” determines with precision the first performance of such act. Referring instinct to habit, but temporarily relieves the difficulty of those who object to instinct, by putting it a step back. It is impossible to believe that any of the progenitors of an infant of to-day first acquired, during his or her lifetime, the habit of sucking, or that the habits of neuter insects thus arose. But after all, if we could explain “instinct” by “habit,” should we thereby make the phenomena less mysterious? “Habit” is due to an internal spontaneity of living things. A living thing no doubt requires some internal solicitation, in order that it should move, but when it does move that movement is its own. All living organisms tend to act. With them ac43tion is not only their nature, ’tis a want; and, within limits, their powers and energies increase with action, and diminish and finally perish through repose. The power of generating any “habits,” lies in the very first act of the kind an organism performs, and it is only the first act which owes nothing to habit. If such were not the case, an act might be performed a thousand times and yet not generate habit. It is this mysterious internal active tendency which distinguishes all living organisms from inorganic bodies. The latter tend simply to persist as they are, and have no relations with the past or the future. They have, therefore, no relations with time at all—for the actual present ever evades us. Organisms, on the other hand, which are permanently more or less changed, through habit, by every new motion and sensation, have their future prepared by their past, and thus, as it were, at every present moment they live both in the past and in the future, a mode of existence which attains its fullest development in the highest living organism—man, the creature looking before and after! Thus those who would do away with mystery in nature would gain little by explaining instinct through habit, though, as we have seen, the phenomena presented to us by the human infant and by neuter insects absolutely bar any such explanation. Moreover, the attempt to explain “instinct” through “inheritance” is a contradiction, since “inheritance” supposes something already obtained, otherwise it could not be transmitted. So far, then, from “hereditary transmission” explaining “instinct,” instinct, in whatever remote ancestor it first arose, must have been a violation of the law of hereditary transmission.

Now as to “lapsed intelligence:” This hypothesis assumes that a conscious deliberate, discriminating faculty must have once been exercised by wasps, bees, ants, and other much more lowly animals, in the performance of all those actions which are now instinctive. But could the adult female insect be supposed to foresee the future needs of her progeny, often so totally different from her own wants? It would surely be too much to ask us to believe that she could distinctly recollect all her past experi44ence as a chrysalis and as a grub from the moment she first quitted the egg. Can we suppose that the generative acts of male insects, such as bees, could have been due to deliberate and rational choice, when every such act is necessarily fatal to him who performs it?

Nevertheless, persuaded as I am that “lapsed intelligence” will not explain “instinct” generally, I should be the last to deny that certain apparently instinctive actions may be so explained, and I fully admit that intelligent action in ourselves does tend to become practically though not really instinctive. It is, moreover, very fortunate for us that such is the case, as thereby we are saved great mental friction. Our intellect has first to be laboriously applied to learn what afterwards becomes almost automatic, as the actions of reading, writing, etc. Sensations and bodily actions having been duly kneaded together, the intellect becomes free to withdraw and apply itself to other work—fresh conquests of mere animality—leaving the organism to carry on automatically the new faculties thus acquired. Were it not for this power which we have of withdrawing our attention, our intellect would be absorbed and wasted in the merest routine work, instead of being set free to appropriate and render practically instinctive, a continually wider and more important range of deliberate purposive actions. We come now to the sixth and last attempt to explain instinct, namely, Mr. Darwin’s attempt. He has recognised the futility of seeking to explain many instinctive actions in any of the modes we have yet considered, and he has proposed, as before said, to explain such residual instinctive phenomena by the play of natural selection, i.e. of the destructive forces of nature upon small, accidental abnormalities of action on the part of individuals of a species; such abnormalities, when favorable to the existence of the individual, being preserved and perpetuated by the destruction of the other individuals of the same species who adhered to their ancestral tendencies. But this proposed explanation is not an explanation of the origin of instincts, but only of the changes and transformations of instincts already acquired. But putting back the date or modifying the form45 of the original instinct, in no way alters the essential nature of instincts or diminishes its mystery. Let us look at one or two strong cases of instinct, and see if it is credible that they should be due to mere accidental, haphazard, minute changes in habits already acquired. In the first place, there is the wonderful instinct of the duck, which feigns to have an injured wing, in order to entice a dog away from the pursuit of her ducklings. Is it conceivable that such an act was first done by pure accident, and that the descendants of her who so acted, having inherited the tendency, have been alone selected and preserved? Again, there is the case of the wasp, sphex, which stings spiders, caterpillars, and grasshoppers exactly in the spot, or spots, where their nervous ganglia lie, and so paralyses them. Even the strongest advocate of the intelligence of insects would not affirm that the mother sphex has a knowledge of the comparative anatomy of the nervous system of these very diversely formed insects. According to the doctrine of natural selection, either an ancestral wasp must have accidentally stung them each in the right places, and so our sphex of to-day is the naturally selected descendant of a line of insects which inherited this lucky tendency to sting different insects differently, but always in the exact situation of their nervous ganglia; or else the young of the ancestral sphex originally fed on dead food, but the offspring of some individuals who happened to sting their prey so as to paralyse but not kill them, were better nourished and so the habit grew. But the incredible supposition that the ancestor should accidentally have acquired the habit of stinging different insects differently, but always in the right spot, is not eliminated by the latter hypothesis.

There is, again, the case of neuter insects and the highly complex instincts of insects living in communities, such as bees, ants, and termites. The Darwinian theory has the great advantage of only needing for its support the suggestion of some possible utility in each case; and as all structures and functions in nature have their utility, the task is not a difficult one for an ingenious, patient, and accomplished thinker. Yet Mr. Darwin, with all his ingenuity,46 patience, and accomplishments, has been unable to suggest a rational explanation for the accidental origin of these insect communities with their marvellously complex instincts. I will confine myself to one more instance of a highly noteworthy instinct, which no one has in any way succeeded in explaining. The instance I refer to is that by which an animal, when an enemy approaches, lies quite quiescent and apparently helpless, an action often spoken of as “shamming death.” To evade the force of this remarkable case of instinct, it has been objected that the disposition of the limbs adopted by insects which thus act, is not the same as that which the limbs assume when such insects are really dead, and that all species are not when thus acting equally quiescent. The first observation, however, does not concern the matter really at issue. The remarkable thing is not that a helpless insect should assume the position of its own dead, but that such a creature, instead of trying to escape, should adopt a mode of procedure utterly hopeless unless the enemy’s attention is thereby effectually eluded. It is impossible that this instinct could have been gradually gained by the elimination of all those individuals who did not practice it, for if the quiescence, whether absolutely complete or not, were not sufficient at once to make the creature elude observation, its destruction would be only the more fully insured by such ineffectual quiescence. The same argument applies to birds which seem to feign lameness or other injury. Yet even if we could account for these cases, which as a fact are as yet entirely unaccounted for, it would not do away with the need of recognising the real existence and peculiar nature of instinct. It would not do so on account both of man’s highest and of man’s lowest instinctive powers. To speak first of the former: as instinct, such as we have hitherto discovered, is the appointed bridge between mere organic and intellectual animal life, so there is in man a further development of instinct, peculiar to him, and serving to bridge over the gulf between mere intelligent animal faculty and distinctly human reflective intellectual activity. Such special intellectual in47stinct is that which impels man to the external manifestation by voice or gesture of the mental abstractions which his intellect spontaneously forms, and which are not formed by the lower animals, which give no evidence of this power of abstraction. Language could never have been deliberately invented nor have arisen by a mere accidental individual variation, for vocal and gesture signs are essentially conventional, and require more or less comprehension on the part of those to whom they are addressed as well as on the part of those who use them. Analogous considerations apply to the first beginnings of what cannot be reckoned as merely instinctive activities, but the origins of which must have been akin to instincts. I refer to the beginnings of literature, art, science and politics, which were never deliberately invented. Even men who supposed they were inventing and constructing a certain new order of things with full purpose and much intelligence, have really been all the time so dominated by influences beyond their consciousness, that they really evolved something very different from what they supposed or intended. This fact has been most instructively shown by De Tocqueville and Taine with respect to the men who promoted and carried through the great French Revolution. So much, then, for man’s highest instinctive powers: but our argument has no need to refer to them, for a consideration of man’s lowest instinctive powers alone suffices to show that they cannot be due to “natural selection,” even when aided by “lapsed intelligence.” Can it be for a moment seriously maintained that such actions of the infant as those of the sucking, deglutition, and defecation, or the sexual instincts of later life, ever arose through the accidental conservation of haphazard variations of habit in ancestral animals? If it cannot be maintained, as I am confident it cannot, then it is absolutely impossible successfully to evade the difficulty of the existence of instinct. However far we may put back the beginnings of instinct, the question as to its origin (with its subsequent modifications) ever returns, and indeed with increased importunity. How did the first sentient creatures obtain and swal48low their food? How did they first come to fecundate their ova or suitably to deposit them? How did they first effect such movements as might be necessary for their respiratory processes? Wherever such phenomena first manifested themselves in sentient organisms, we are compelled therein to recognise the manifest presence of instinct—the appointed means (as before said) of bridging over the interval between the purely vegetative functions and the intelligent activities of sentient animal life. “Natural selection” is manifestly impotent to account for the existence of such a faculty as that of “instinct.” We have already seen that the hypothesis of “lapsed intelligence” is also impotent to account for it. Thus the most recently attempted explanation falls altogether to the ground. Nevertheless the theory of evolution renders it necessary to assume that as new species of animals were from time to time evolved, so also were new and appropriate instincts. How then are we to account for the origin of such new instincts? That a certain mystery attends such origin cannot be denied, but a parallel mystery attends all other kinds of vital phenomena. What can be more mysterious than the purely organic functions of animals? Though not truly instinctive, they are full of unconscious purpose, and so are akin to instinct. Our nutrition is a process of self-generation by which the various bodies which constitute our food become transformed into our own substance. This process is effected by what is called assimilation, by which process the ultimate substance, or parenchyma, of our own body and of the bodies transforms part of what is immediately external to it, into the parenchyma itself. Again, the process of secretion is, as it were, parallel to the process of alimentation or nutrition. In secretion, the body extracts from the blood new substances (the secretions) which do not exist as such within it. In nutrition, the body extracts from the blood new substances (the various tissues) which do not exist as such within it. The blood is not the only source of our nutrition, since it has the power of replenishing itself. Thus the living particles which form the ultimate substance of our body exercise a certain49 power of choice with respect to the contents of the fluids which come in contact with them. Such particles are not passive bodies; they are active living agents, and their action no one has yet really explained. Here, then, are a set of activities which, if duly pondered over, will be found to be fully as mysterious and inexplicable in their unconscious teleology as any phenomena of instinct as ordinarily understood. But there is another class of organic vital actions which also seem to have a decided affinity both to reflex action and to instinct, though they are not to be regarded as actual instances of either of these faculties. The actions I refer to are those which bring about the repair of injuries and the reproduction of lost parts. They are like reflex action inasmuch as they take place in perfect unconsciousness and without the will having any power over them. They are like instinct inasmuch as they are directed towards a useful and unforeseen end. In the process of healing and repair of a wounded part of the body, a fluid, perfectly structureless substance, is secreted, or poured forth, from the parts about the wound. In this substance, cells arise and become abundant; so that the substance, at first structureless, becomes what is called cellular tissue. Then, by degrees, this structure transforms itself into vessels, tendons, nerves, bone, and membrane—into some or all of such parts—according to the circumstances of the case. In a case of broken bone, the two broken ends of the bone soften, the sharp edges thus disappearing. Then a soft substance is secreted, and this becomes at first gelatinous, often afterwards cartilaginous, and, finally, osseous or bony. But not only do these different kinds of substance—these distinct tissues—thus arise and develop themselves in this neutral or, as it is called, “undifferentiated” substance, but very complex structures, appropriately formed and nicely adjusted for the performance of complex functions, may also be developed. We see this in the production of admirably formed joints in parts which were at first devoid of anything of the kind. I may quote, as an example, the case of a railway guard, whose arm had been so injured that he had been compelled to50 have the elbow with its joint cut out, but who afterwards developed a new joint almost as good as the old one. In the uninjured condition the outer bone of the lower arm—the radius—ends above in a smooth-surfaced cup, which plays against part of the lower end of the bone of the upper arm, or humerus, while its side also plays against the side of the other bone of the lower arm, the ulna, with the interposition of a cartilaginous surface. The radius and ulna are united to the humerus by dense and strong membranes or ligaments, which pass between it and them, anteriorly, posteriorly, and on each side, and are attached to projecting processes, one on each side of the humerus. Such was the condition of the parts which were removed by the surgeon. Nine years after the operation the patient died, and Mr. Syme had the opportunity of dissecting the arm, which in the meantime had served the poor man perfectly well, he having been in the habit of swinging himself by it from one carriage to another, while the train was in motion, quite as easily and securely as with the other arm. On examination, Mr. Syme found that the amputated end of the radius had formed a fresh polished surface, and played both on the humerus and the ulna, a material something like cartilage being interposed. The ends of the bones of the forearm were locked in by two processes projecting downwards from the humerus, and also strong lateral and still stronger anterior and posterior ligaments again bound them fast to the last-named bone.7 It would be easy to bring forward a number of more or less similar cases. The amount of reproduction of lost parts which may take place in many of the lower animals is astonishing. Thus the tails of lizards, if broken off, will grow again, and the limbs of newts will be reproduced, with their bones, muscles, blood-vessels, and nerves. Even the eye and the lower jaw have been seen to be reproduced in the last-named animals. If certain worms be cut in two, each half will become a perfect animal, the head producing a new tail, and the tail a new head; and a worm called a nais has51 been cut into as many as twenty-five parts with a like result. But the most remarkable animal for its power of repairing injuries is the fresh-water hydra, almost any fragment of which will, under favorable circumstances, grow into a new and entire fresh animal. It is also a notorious and very noteworthy fact that, in both man and the lower animals, the processes of repair take place the more readily the younger the age of the injured individual may be. But these unconscious but practically teleological processes of repair, are often preceded by actions which everyone would call instinctive.

There is yet another class of organic vital actions to which I must advert, which are at once utterly unconscious, while the fact that they are directed to a distinct end is indisputable; in fact they are purposive in the very highest degree that any unconscious actions can be purposive. They are the actions of true reproduction, and they come before us naturally here, since a consideration of the process of remedial reproduction in the individual, naturally leads us on to the consideration of the reproduction of the species itself. In the cases of the frog and the butterfly, everyone knows that the creature which comes forth from the egg is very different from the parent. Animals, in fact, mostly attain their adult condition by passing through a series of development changes; only as a rule that series is not abruptly interrupted by plainly marked pauses, as it is in the frog and butterfly, and, therefore, such changes, instead of being obvious, are only to be detected with difficulty and through patient research. Almost every animal thus goes through a series of very remarkable changes during its individual process of development or, as it is called,52 during its “ontogeny.” This process, in its perfect unconsciousness, is like reflex action, but it is far more wonderful, since in the earliest stages even nerve-tissue is absent and has itself to be formed. In the accuracy of its direction towards a useful end, it is the very counterpart of the most developed instinct; nor, if the impulses by which adult individuals are led to seek and to perform those processes which give rise to the embryo, are to be called instinctive, is it easy to see how the analogical use of the term “instinctive” can be refused to that impulse by which each developing embryo is led to go through those processes which give rise to the adult. The action of each organism during its individual development may be compared, and has evidently much affinity with, the processes of nutrition and the repair and reproduction of parts lost through some injury. These processes of nutrition and repair have also evidently a close relation to reflex action and reflex action has also a close affinity to instinctive action. Instead, however, of explaining “instinct” by “reflex action,” I would rather explain reflex action, processes of nutrition, processes of repair, processes of individual development, by instinct—using this term in a wide analogical sense. For we know the wonderful action and nature of instinct as it exists in our own human activity, standing, as it were, at the head of the various unconsciously intelligent vital processes. These processes seem to me to be all diverse manifestations of what is fundamentally one kind of activity. Of these manifestations, instinctive action is the best type, because by it we can, to a certain extent, understand the others, whereas none of the others enable us to understand instinct.—Fortnightly Review.



The work of art which lies before me is old, unquestionably old; a good deal older, in fact, than Archbishop Ussher (who invented all out of his own archiepiscopal head the date commonly assigned for the creation of the world) would by any means have been ready to admit. It is a bas-relief by an old master, considerably more antique in origin than the most archaic gem or intaglio in the Museo Borbonico at Naples, the mildly decorous Louvre in Paris, or the eminently respectable British Museum, which is the glory of our own smoky London in the spectacled eyes of German professors, all put together. When Assyrian54 sculptors carved in fresh white alabaster the flowing curls of Sennacherib’s hair, just like a modern coachman’s wig, this work of primæval art was already hoary with the rime of ages. When Memphian artists were busy in the morning twilight of time with the towering coiffure of Ramses or Sesostris, this far more ancient relic of plastic handicraft was lying, already fossil and forgotten, beneath the concreted floor of a cave in the Dordogne. If we were to divide the period for which we possess authentic records of man’s abode upon this oblate spheroid into ten epochs—an epoch being a good high-sounding word which doesn’t commit one to any definite chronology in particular—then it is probable that all known art, from the Egyptian onward, would fall into the tenth of the epochs thus loosely demarcated, while my old French bas-relief would fall into the first. To put the date quite succinctly, I should say it was most likely about 244,000 years before the creation of Adam according to Ussher.

The work of the old master is lightly incised on reindeer horn, and represents two horses, of a very early and heavy type, following one another, with heads stretched forward, as if sniffing the air suspiciously in search of enemies. The horses would certainly excite unfavorable comment at Newmarket. Their “points” are undoubtedly coarse and clumsy: their heads are big, thick, stupid, and ungainly; their manes are bushy and ill-defined; their legs are distinctly feeble and spindle-shaped; their tails more closely resemble the tail of the domestic pig than that of the noble animal beloved with a love passing the love of women by the English aristocracy. Nevertheless there is little (if any) reason to doubt that my very old master did, on the whole, accurately represent the ancestral steed of his own exceedingly remote period. There were once horses even as is the horse of the prehistoric Dordognian artist. Such clumsy, big-headed brutes, dun in hue and striped down the back like modern donkeys, did actually once roam over the low plains where Paris now stands, and browse off lush grass and tall water-plants around the quays of Bordeaux and Lyons. Not only do the bones of the contemporary horses, dug up in caves, prove this, but55 quite recently the Russian traveller Prjevalsky (whose name is so much easier to spell than to pronounce) has discovered a similar living horse, which drags on an obscure existence somewhere in the high table-lands of Central Asia. Prjevalsky’s horse (you see, as I have only to write the word, without uttering it, I don’t mind how often or how intrepidly I use it) is so singularly like the clumsy brutes that sat, or rather stood, for their portraits to my old master that we can’t do better than begin by describing him in propria persona.

The horse family of the present day is divided, like most other families, into two factions, which may be described for variety’s sake as those of the true horses and the donkeys, these latter including also the zebras, quaggas, and various other unfamiliar creatures whose names, in very choice Latin, are only known to the more diligent visitors at the Sunday Zoo. Now everybody must have noticed that the chief broad distinction between these two great groups consists in the feathering of the tail. The domestic donkey, with his near congeners, the zebra and co., have smooth short-haired tails, ending in a single bunch or fly-whisk of long hairs collected together in a tufted bundle at the extreme tip. The horse, on the other hand, besides having horny patches or callosities on both fore and hind legs, while the donkeys have them on the fore legs only, has a hairy tail, in which the long hairs are almost equally distributed from top to bottom, thus giving it its peculiarly bushy and brushy appearance. But Prjevalsky’s horse, as one would naturally expect from an early intermediate form, stands halfway in this respect between the two groups, and acts the thankless part of a family mediator; for it has most of its long tail-hairs collected in a final flourish, like the donkey, but several of them spring from the middle distance, as in the genuine Arab, though never from the very top, thus showing an approach to the true horsey habit without actually attaining that final pinnacle of equine glory. So far as one can make out from the somewhat rude handicraft of my prehistoric Phidias the horse of the quaternary epoch had much the same caudal peculiarity; his tail was bushy, but only in the lower half.56 He was still in the intermediate stage between horse and donkey, a natural mule still struggling up aspiringly toward perfect horsehood. In all other matters the two creatures—the cave man’s horse and Prjevalsky’s—closely agree. Both display large heads, thick necks, coarse manes, and a general disregard of “points” which would strike disgust and dismay into the stout breasts of Messrs. Tattersall. In fact over a T.Y.C. it may be confidently asserted, in the pure Saxon of the sporting papers, that Prjevalsky’s and the cave man’s lot wouldn’t be in it. Nevertheless a candid critic would be forced to admit that, in spite of clumsiness, they both mean staying.

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

The work of art was dug up from under the firm concreted floor of a cave in the Dordogne. That cave was once inhabited by the nameless artist himself, his wife, and family. It had been previously tenanted by various other early families, as well as by bears, who seem57 to have lived there in the intervals between the different human occupiers. Probably the bears ejected the men, and the men in turn ejected the bears, by the summary process of eating one another up. In any case the freehold of the cave was at last settled upon our early French artist. But the date of his occupancy is by no means recent; for since he lived there the long cold spell known as the Great Ice Age, or Glacial Epoch, has swept over the whole of Northern Europe, and swept before it the shivering descendants of my poor prehistoric old master. Now, how long ago was the Great Ice Age? As a rule, if you ask a geologist for a definite date, you will find him very chary of giving you a distinct answer. He knows that chalk is older than the London clay, and the oolite than the chalk, and the red marl than the oolite; and he knows also that each of them took a very long time indeed to lay down, but exactly how long he has no notion. If you say to him, “Is it a million years since the chalk was deposited?” he will answer, like the old lady of Prague, whose ideas were excessively vague, “Perhaps,” If you suggest five millions, he will answer oracularly once more, “Perhaps;” and if you go on to twenty millions, “Perhaps,” with a broad smile, is still the only confession of faith that torture will wring out of him. But in the matter of the Glacial Epoch, a comparatively late and almost historical event, geologists have broken through their usual reserve on this chronological question and condescended to give us a numerical determination. And here is how Dr. Croll gets at it.

Every now and again, geological evidence goes to show us, a long cold spell occurs in a northern or southern hemisphere. During these long cold spells the ice cap at the poles increases largely, till it spreads over a great part of what are now the temperate regions of the globe, and makes ice a mere drug in the market as far south as Covent Garden or the Halles at Paris. During the greatest extension of this ice sheet in the last glacial epoch, in fact, all England except a small south-western corner (about Torquay and Bournemouth) was completely covered by one enormous mass of glaciers, as is still the58 case with almost the whole of Greenland. The ice sheet, grinding slowly over the hills and rocks, smoothed and polished and striated their surfaces in many places till they resembled the roches moutonnées similarly ground down in our own day by the moving ice rivers of Chamouni and Grindelwald. Now, since these great glaciations have occurred at various intervals in the world’s past history, they must depend upon some frequently recurring cause. Such a cause, therefore, Dr. Croll began ingeniously to hunt about for.

He found it at last in the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit. This world of ours, though usually steady enough in its movements, is at times decidedly eccentric. Not that I mean to impute to our old and exceedingly respectable planet any occasional aberrations of intellect, or still less of morals (such as might be expected from Mars and Venus); the word is here to be accepted strictly in its scientific or Pickwickian sense as implying merely an irregularity of movement, a slight wobbling out of the established path, a deviation from exact circularity. Owing to a combination of astronomical revolutions, the precession of the equinoxes and the motion of the aphelion (I am not going to explain them here; the names alone will be quite sufficient for most people; they will take the rest on trust)—owing to the combination of these profoundly interesting causes, I say, there occur certain periods in the world’s life when for a very long time together (10,500 years, to be quite precise) the northern hemisphere is warmer than the southern, or vice versa. Now Dr. Croll has calculated that about 250,000 years ago this eccentricity of the earth’s orbit was at its highest, so that a cycle of recurring cold and warm epochs in either hemisphere alternately then set in; and such cold spells it was that produced the Great Ice Age in Northern Europe. They went on till about 80,000 years ago, when they stopped short for the present, leaving the climate of Britain and the neighboring continent with its existing inconvenient Laodicean temperature. And, as there are good reasons for believing that my old master and his contemporaries lived just before the greatest cold of the Glacial Epoch, and59 that his immediate descendants, with the animals on which they feasted, were driven out of Europe, or out of existence, by the slow approach of the enormous ice sheet, we may, I think, fairly conclude that his date was somewhere about B.C. 248,000. In any case we must at least admit, with Mr. Andrew Lang, the laureate of the twenty-five thousandth century, that

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

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


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

Was he black? That we don’t certainly know, but all analogy would lead one to answer positively, Yes. White men seem, on the whole, to be a very recent and novel improvement on the original evolutionary pattern. At any rate he was distinctly hairy, like the Ainos, or aborigines of Japan, in our own day, of whom Miss Isabella Bird has drawn so startling and sensational a61 picture. Several of the pre-Glacial sketches show us lank and gawky savages with the body covered with long scratches, answering exactly to the scratches which represent the hanging hair of the mammoth, and suggesting that man then still retained his old original hairy covering. The few skulls and other fragments of skeletons now preserved to us also indicate that our old master and his contemporaries much resembled in shape and build the Australian black fellows, though their foreheads were lower and more receding, while their front teeth still projected in huge fangs, faintly recalling the immense canines of the male gorilla. Quite apart from any theoretical considerations as to our probable descent (or ascent) from Mr. Darwin’s hypothetical “hairy arboreal quadrumanous ancestor,” whose existence may or may not be really true, there can be no doubt that the actual historical remains set before us pre-Glacial man as evidently approaching in several important respects the higher monkeys.

It is interesting to note too that while the Men of the Time still retained (to be frankly evolutionary) many traces of the old monkey-like progenitor, the horses which our old master has so cleverly delineated for us on his scrap of horn similarly retained many traces of the earlier united horse-and-donkey ancestor. Professor Huxley has admirably reconstructed for us the pedigree of the horse, beginning with a little creature from the Eocene beds of New Mexico, with five toes to each hind foot, and ending with the modern horse, whose hoof is now practically reduced to a single and solid-nailed toe. Intermediate stages show us an Upper Eocene animal as big as a fox, with four toes on his front feet and three behind; a Miocene kind as big as a sheep, with only three toes on the front foot, the two outer of which are smaller than the big middle one; and finally a Pliocene form, as big as a donkey, with one stout middle toe, the real hoof, flanked by two smaller ones, too short by far to reach the ground. In our own horse these lateral toes have become reduced to what are known by veterinaries as splint bones, combined with the canon in a single solidly morticed piece.62 But in the pre-Glacial horses the splint bones still generally remained quite distinct, thus pointing back to the still earlier period when they existed as two separate and independent side toes in the ancestral quadruped. In a few cave specimens, however, the splints are found united with the canons in a single piece, while conversely horses are sometimes, though very rarely, born at the present day with three-toed feet, exactly resembling those of their half-forgotten ancestor the Pliocene hipparion.

The reason why we know so much about the horses of the cave period is, I am bound to admit, simply and solely because the man of the period ate them. Hippophagy has always been popular in France; it was practised by pre-Glacial man in the caves of Périgord, and revived with immense enthusiasm by the gourmets of the Boulevards after the siege of Paris and the hunger of the Commune. The cave men hunted and killed the wild horse of their own times, and one of the best of their remaining works of art represents a naked hunter attacking two horses, while a huge snake winds itself unperceived behind close to his heel. In this rough prehistoric sketch one seems to catch some faint antique foreshadowing of the rude humor of the “Petit Journal pour Rire.” Some archæologists even believe that the horse was domesticated by the cave men as a source of food, and argue that the familiarity with its form shown in the drawings could only have been acquired by people who knew the animal in its domesticated state; they declare that the cave man was obviously horsey. But all the indications seem to me to show that tame animals were quite unknown in the age of the cave men. The mammoth certainly was never domesticated; yet there is a famous sketch of the huge beast upon a piece of his own ivory, discovered in the cave of La Madelaine by Messrs. Lartet and Christy, and engraved a hundred times in works on archæology, which forms one of the finest existing relics of pre-Glacial art. In another sketch, less well known, but not unworthy of admiration, the early artist has given us with a few rapid but admirable strokes his own reminiscence of the effect produced upon him by the sudden onslaught of the hairy brute,63 tusks erect and mouth wide open, a perfect glimpse of elephantine fury. It forms a capital example of early impressionism, respectfully recommended to the favorable attention of Mr. J. M. Whistler.

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

I have spoken of our old master more than once under this rather question-begging style and title of primitive man. In reality, however, the very facts which I have here been detailing serve themselves to show how extremely far our hero was from being truly primitive. You can’t speak of a distinguished artist, who draws the portraits of extinct animals with grace and accuracy, as in any proper sense primordial. Grant that our good troglodytes were indeed light-hearted cannibals; nevertheless they could design far better than the modern Esquimaux or Polynesians, and carve64 far better than the civilized being who is now calmly discoursing about their personal peculiarities in his own study. Between the cave men of the pre-Glacial age and the hypothetical hairy quadrumanous ancestor aforesaid there must have intervened innumerable generations of gradually improving intermediate forms. The old master, when he first makes his bow to us, naked and not ashamed, in his Swiss or French grotto, flint scalpel in hand and necklet of bear’s teeth dropping loosely on his hairy bosom, is nevertheless in all essentials a completely evolved human being, with a whole past of slowly acquired culture lying dimly and mysteriously behind him. Already he had invented the bow with its flint-tipped arrow, the neatly chipped javelin-head, the bone harpoon, the barbed fish-hook, the axe, the lance, the dagger, and the needle. Already he had learnt how to decorate his implements with artistic skill, and to carve the handles of his knives with the figures of animals. I have no doubt that he even knew how to brew and to distil; and he was probably acquainted with the noble art of cookery as applied to the persons of his human fellow creatures. Such a personage cannot reasonably be called primitive; cannibalism, as somebody has rightly remarked, is the first step on the road to civilisation.

No, if we want to get at genuine, unadulterated primitive man we must go much further back in time than the mere trifle of 250,000 years, with which Dr. Croll and the cosmic astronomers so generously provide us for pre-Glacial humanity. We must turn away to the immeasurably earlier fire-split flints which the Abbé Bourgeois—undaunted mortal!—ventured to discover among the Miocene strata of the calcaire de Beauce. Those flints, if of human origin at all, were fashioned by some naked and still more hairy creature who might fairly claim to be considered as genuinely primitive. So rude are they that, though evidently artificial, one distinguished archæologist will not admit they can be in any way human; he will have it that they were really the handiwork of the great European anthropoid ape of that early period. This, however, is nothing more than very delicate hair-splitting; for what does it matter65 whether you call the animal that fashioned these exceedingly rough and fire-marked implements a man-like ape or an ape-like human being? The fact remains quite unaltered, whichever name you choose to give to it. When you have got to a monkey who can light a fire and proceed to manufacture himself a convenient implement, you may be sure that man, noble man, with all his glorious and admirable faculties—cannibal or otherwise—is lurking somewhere very close just round the corner. The more we examine the work of our old master, in fact, the more does the conviction force itself upon us that he was very far indeed from being primitive—that we must push back the early history of our race not for 250,000 winters alone, but perhaps for two or three million years into the dim past of Tertiary ages.

But if pre-Glacial man is thus separated from the origin of the race by a very long interval indeed, it is none the less true that he is separated from our own time by the intervention of a vast blank space, the space occupied by the coming on and passing away of the Glacial Epoch. A great gap cuts him off from what we may consider as the relatively modern age of the mound-builders, whose grassy barrows still cap the summits of our southern chalk downs. When the great ice sheet drove away palæolithic man—the man of the caves and the unwrought flint axes—from Northern Europe, he was still nothing more than a naked savage in the hunting stage, divinely gifted for art, indeed, but armed only with roughly chipped stone implements, and wholly ignorant of taming animals or of the very rudiments of agriculture. He knew nothing of the use of metals—aurum irrepertum spernere fortior—and he had not even learnt how to grind and polish his rude stone tomahawks to a finished edge. He couldn’t make himself a bowl of sun-baked pottery, and if he had discovered the almost universal art of manufacturing an intoxicating liquor from grain or berries (for, as Byron, with too great anthropological truth, justly remarks, “man, being reasonable, must get drunk”) he at least drank his aboriginal beer or toddy from the capacious horn of a slaughtered aurochs.66 That was the kind of human being who alone inhabited France and England during the later pre-Glacial period.

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

On the table where I write there lie two paper weights, preserving from the fate of the sibylline leaves the sheets of foolscap to which this article is now being committed. One of them is a very rude flint hatchet, produced by merely chipping off flakes from its side by dexterous blows, and utterly unpolished or unground in any way. It belongs to67 the age of the very old master (or possibly even to a slightly earlier epoch), and it was sent me from Ightham, in Kent, by that indefatigable unearther of prehistoric memorials, Mr. Benjamin Harrison. That flint, which now serves me in the office of a paper weight, is far ruder, simpler, and more ineffective than any weapon or implement at present in use among the lowest savages. Yet with it, I doubt not, some naked black fellow by the banks of the Thames has hunted the mammoth among unbroken forests two hundred thousand years ago and more; with it he has faced the angry cave bear and the original and only genuine British lion (for everybody knows that the existing mongrel heraldic beast is nothing better than a bastard modification of the leopard of the Plantagenets). Nay, I have very little doubt in my own mind that with it some æsthetic ancestor has brained and cut up for use his next-door neighbor in the nearest cavern, and then carved upon his well-picked bones an interesting sketch of the entire performance. The Du Mauriers of that remote age, in fact, habitually drew their society pictures upon the personal remains of the mammoth or the man whom they wished to caricature in deathless bone-cuts. The other paper weight is a polished neolithic tomahawk, belonging to the period of the mound-builders, who succeeded the Glacial Epoch, and it measures the distance between the two levels of civilisation with great accuracy. It is the military weapon of a trained barbaric warrior as opposed to the universal implement and utensil of a rude, solitary, savage hunter. Yet how curious it is that even in the midst of this “so-called nineteenth century,” which perpetually proclaims itself an age of progress, men should still prefer to believe themselves inferior to their original ancestors, instead of being superior to them! The idea that man has risen is considered base, degrading, and positively wicked; the idea that he has fallen is considered to be immensely inspiring, ennobling, and beautiful. For myself, I have somehow always preferred the boast of the Homeric Glaucus that we indeed maintain ourselves to be much better men that ever were our fathers.—Cornhill Magazine.




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

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

The electorate, that is to say, the government—at least the body by which the government is appointed and its policy is determined—is undergoing reconstruction on the largest scale. Yet we look in vain, even in the speeches of the great statesman who is the author of these measures, for any forecast of their practical effect, of the influence which they will have on the character of government, or of the sort of policy which they will produce. Able and impressive as the speeches may be, there is little in them but philanthropy and arithmetic, neither of which is politics. The effect of the Redistribution Bill especially is evidently a matter of the merest conjecture. Lord Salisbury thinks that it will act in one way, and70 Mr. Chamberlain that it will act in another. The first considers it favorable to aristocratic reaction, the second considers it favorable to authoritative democracy. The Bill is a leap in the dark. In any case less important than that of a reconstruction of the national institutions, safe experiments would probably precede sweeping change. A new mode of paving would be tried first in one or two streets; a new mode of cultivation would be tried first in one or two fields. But if you proposed to try the Redistribution Bill in one or two specimen districts, a chorus of scornful reprobation would arise from all parties, sects, and ambitions. Nor would any voices be louder than those of some who are foremost in hailing the advent of political science, and preaching the necessity of a scientific method in all things. This is not a deliberation on the amendment of national institutions; it is a battle of parties. Each party is seeking not so much to improve the government as to make it the instrument of particular theories or passions. But this surely is what a government, an executive government at least, ought not to be. A government ought to be the impartial guardian for the whole nation of law, order, property, personal rights, and the public safety; while opinion is left to shape itself by discussion, reach maturity, and at length impress itself on legislation. This whole movement is pre-eminently the work of party, and inspired by its passions. Reform in 1832 was really national; the nation earnestly desired liberation from a corrupt oligarchy. But the subsequent suffrage agitations have been mainly set on foot by the politicians for the purposes of their party war.

Democracy has come. By all reflecting men its advent seems to be acknowledged, by most it is welcomed as bringing, so far as we can see or so far as experience, though chequered, informs us, an increase of happiness to the masses of mankind, and therefore, in the highest sense, to all. But it requires to be organized and regulated; otherwise the71 end will be anarchy and, as the inevitable consequence of anarchy, a relapse into a government of force. Republics, as we have more than once seen, are capable of suicide. The people is no more divine than kings, though its divinity was proclaimed by the Maratists; it is capable of governing itself as wrongly as any king can govern it. The ignorance, the passions, the self-interest, not only of particular classes, but of all of us alike, need to be controlled, as far as institutions can control them, and eliminated from the Councils of the State. The Americans, as was said before, have tried to organize and regulate democracy. The framers of the American Constitution—no veil of illusion being spread before their eyes by the surviving forms and names of an old monarchy—saw the problem which destiny had set before them. It was not such a problem as would be presented to them by the America of the present day, with its New York and its Chicago, its flood of foreign immigrants, and its enfranchised negroes; far less is it such a problem as Great Britain, with the populace of its great cities, its host of Radical and Secularist artisans, its uninstructed millions of farm laborers, and its disaffected Irishry presents to the British statesman. They had to deal only with the Puritan freeholders of New England and the planters of the South. Still they saw the necessity of providing a solution, and a solution they produced—one not in all respects correct, even in its day (for the mode adopted of electing the President was a fatal error), yet effective as well as deliberate, and such as has sufficed, notwithstanding the great increase of the strain upon the machinery, to shelter civilization and avert anarchy. They instituted an executive government invested with actual power and existing independently of parties in Congress, a real though suspensive veto, a Senate elected on a Conservative principle, a written constitution in the keeping of a Supreme Court, by which all powers and jurisdictions are strictly defined and limited, and which can be amended only with the deliberate consent of the nation at large. Besides, as was said before, the Federal system itself, by localizing questions and breaking the72 sweep of agitation, has a highly Conservative effect. These safeguards, with the political qualities of the Anglo-Americans and the Germans, prevent a catastrophe which without them would certainly come. But England has nothing like them. She has nothing but an “ancient throne,” now stripped of the last vestige of political power, and an aristocracy which is evidently doomed, and, by its struggles to retain its obsolete privilege, stimulates revolution. The only Conservative institution which is really effective is the non-payment of Members of Parliament; and this Democracy has already marked for abolition.

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

Down to this time the political history of England has been a long revolution, of which the Whig or Liberal party in its successive phases has been the organ, and by which, after many oscillations and vicissitudes, supreme power has been drawn from the Crown and the aristocracy to the Commons. The destructive part of the process is now all73 but complete, only a small remnant of precarious power being retained by the House of Lords. The constructive part remains to be performed. The task of British statesmen at the present day is, in effect, to found a Democratic Government. The ground has been cleared for the new edifice, but the edifice has yet to be built. Its foundations have hardly yet been laid.

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

Nor has the doctrine of spiritual equality been without its effect in consoling the lowly for their inferiority of rank. Hereafter scientific conviction,74 derived from the study of the social organism, may supply the place of religious impressions as a motive for acquiescence in things as they are. At present it is the destructive process of science that has almost exclusively taken place in the mind of the Radical proletarian. Believing now that this world is all, he naturally desires to grasp his full share of its good things without delay. His sensibility having been quickened with his intelligence, he feels inferiority as well as privation, and is impelled by social envy as well as by desire. His education has advanced just far enough to enable him to imbibe theories which coincide with his wishes. If he cannot understand the fine reasonings of Mr. George, he can understand the confiscation, and he thinks that so much fine reasoning must make the confiscation moral. Communism and semi-communism are rife; there is a tendency to them even at the Universities, and in other high places. Perhaps the loss of faith in the Church leads some to see an indemnity for it in a communistic polity. If there is not in England, as there is in Germany, a strong Socialistic party, there appears to be a growing disposition to make a Socialistic use of the suffrage. There is certainly in many quarters an exaggerated idea of the powers and duties of the fictitious being styled the State. One conspicuous candidate for the succession to the leadership, at all events, is evidently holding out hopes of a Socialistic system of high taxation for the benefit of those who produce least, and he appears inclined to head a crusade against the property of all landowners, and of all owners of houses in towns. Nor is he without rivals in this quest of popularity on the Tory side. The ball of agrarianism which has been set rolling by recent legislation in Ireland, rolls on, and its course is not likely to stop in Skye. All this may be working for good. The writer of this paper, at all events, has no inclination to take the despondent view. But surely there is enough to warn statesmen that they must exercise forecast, that they must try, while they can, to secure to the nation a stable and rational government; that they must not hastily divorce power from intelligence and responsibility; that they must75 not plunge the country headlong into unorganized and unregulated democracy. If this Parliament comes to an end without having created any conservative safeguards, while it has instituted a suffrage destined evidently soon to be universal, the reins will have been thrown on the necks of the horses, and the last leverage of Conservatism will be gone. M. Taine has just shown us whither horses with the reins upon their necks may run, and what wreck they may make of their own hopes. It is true that great resignation, and even apathy, has been sometimes shown by the masses in times of suffering from dearth. No doubt the masses move slowly; but you incite them to move when you thrust into their hand the vote and send among them people to teach them that by a violent use of it they can raise themselves to the level of the rich. Able and powerful men of the ruling class itself are now, either from philanthropy or from party motives, doing their utmost to pave the way for a Socialistic revolution.

Of all the calamities that ever befell the human race, the greatest was the French Revolution. Wide, happily, is the difference between the France of a century ago and the England of the present day. In the case of England there is no Versailles, no deficit, no gulf between the aristocracy and the middle classes; while there is diffused intelligence instead of a night of political ignorance in which all sorts of spectres stalked, general habits of self-government in place of a paralyzing centralization, and a political character, as we may flatter ourselves, stronger and sounder than was that of the French. Still there are some points of similarity, especially the dangerous conjunction of social or agrarian with political revolution. In England, as in the France of the eighteenth century, scepticism has gained the minds of the ruling class; with their convictions their nerve is shaken, and it is difficult to see who would stop the avalanche if once it should begin to slide. Nor is there wanting a sybaritic Jacobinism which ominously reminds us of the Palais Royal. Pleasure-hunting and frivolity, athletic and of other kinds, appear to have reached a great height, and to pub76lic questions a sort of careless fatalism seems to prevail. No doubt there is still plenty of force and of seriousness in the country; but something like a convulsion may be needed to bring them to the front. The masses in France, though galled by the burdens of feudal lordship were not, properly speaking, Socialistic. Socialism proper can hardly be said to have shown its head before the conspiracy of Babœuf; and the nation was still at the core monarchical and Catholic, as was proved by the ease with which both monarchy and Church were restored by Napoleon. Should the manufacturing and maritime supremacy of England be still more severely challenged and continue to decline, an amount of suffering might be produced among her people hardly less than was, in reality, that of the people in France. If Socialistic legislation commences in earnest, and, as the inevitable consequence, property begins to shrink from circulation and investment, stoppage of industry and dearth of bread cannot fail to ensue, and we know what the effects of these would be in the middle of a Socialistic revolution. Much ought to be risked, if there were real hope of equalizing, by any political action, the human lot. But who seriously believes this to be possible? Who does not know that the things which we deplore and are slowly mending will only be made worse by convulsions?

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

In a reform of the House of Lords it is difficult to feel any confidence. The hereditary principle seems to be thoroughly dead. In the Middle Ages it had a root in the faith and in the igno77rance of mankind; it had its temporary uses, and at the same time it had its correctives. A mediæval lord was obliged to exert himself that his lordship might not be taken by another. A mediæval king was obliged to exert himself if he wished to keep his crown upon his head. Now, except in the rare cases of men moulded of Nature’s finest clay, with whom nobility acts really as an obligation, hereditary rank and wealth kill duty in the cradle. It is found impossible to get a decent attendance in the House of Lords. In answer to Lord Rosebery’s appeal, a Peer says that he will be happy to attend if the nation will re-enact the Corn Laws, so as to enable him to keep a house in town. To indulge a mere whim, the hereditary wearers of the crown refuse to visit Ireland, and thus fling away the affections of the Irish people. The historical cause has been tried during this controversy and the issue is not doubtful. We have seen how the House of Lords, since it assumed its present character, which it did under the second Tudor, has worked. That it has acted as a court of mature wisdom, revising on grounds of impartial statesmanship the rash decisions of the popular House, is as complete a fable as its Norman pedigree. It has simply opposed the selfish resistance of a privileged order to change of every kind. Could it have its way, not only Rotten Boroughs and Sinecurism, but the old Criminal Code, Religious Intolerance, Arbitrary Imprisonment, the Censorship of the Press, the Paper Duty, even Slavery and the Slave Trade, would still be cumbering the earth; or, rather, long ago, the nation would have been compelled to choose between political death and revolution. To fear, on questions which caused national excitement, the House of Lords has at last given way; but not to reason and justice. A multitude of minor reforms it has strangled, by its obstructiveness, altogether. The only great measure of change which this organ of mature wisdom ever readily passed was the Franchise Bill of 1867, which was described by its own author as a leap in the dark, and had been devised with the view of swamping progressive intelligence in a flood of ignorance and beer. Nor has obstruction been the only sin of that78 order of which the House of Lords is the organ; it has given to the general policy of England a class bias; it stimulated the crusade against the French Revolution, and unlike the crusading Barons of the Middle Ages, it stayed at home revelling in high rents and in a mass of sinecures, of which it sacrificed not one penny, while the people bled and starved in a cause which was not theirs. It has fostered militarism generally as a diversion from domestic reform. On economic questions the legislation of the Lords has been mere landlordism. As mere landlords they have acted, from the day on which they sold the national religion to the Pope for a quiet title to the Church lands, to the day on which they passed the Arrears Bill, after showing their sense of its character, in order that they might recover some of their back rents. If twice in the course of their long history they have been for a moment on the side of freedom, fear for their Church lands, combined with jealousy of ecclesiastical favorites, was the cause. The period of their most complete ascendency, in the last century, was the epoch of political corruption; and the conduct of the House at the time of the railway mania, when it formed a Ring in the landlord interest, was, to say the least, not a proof that hereditary wealth lifts its possessor above commercial motives. Many histories are darker than that of the House of Lords; few are less heroic; and the facts are now deeply imprinted on the minds of the people. Faith in the “noble blood” of the scapegrace son of a law lord, once dissipated, is not likely to return. The hereditary wealth itself, which is the real basis of aristocratic influence, and without which the Peerage would be a thing of shreds and patches, is reduced by agricultural depression, and will be greatly broken up by the abolition of primogeniture and entail,—a change which is sure to come, for it will be found that the only antidote to agrarian communism is the free acquisition of land. The hereditary principle is dead, and can serve England or civilized humanity no more. Introduced into, or retained in, any Senate, it will carry with it the seeds of death. As soon as it obeys, as obey it certainly will, its79 obstructive instinct, the cry against it will be renewed. It will not become less odious by becoming weaker. If the life element which it is proposed to introduce remains antagonistic to the hereditary element, the tribunal of mature wisdom will be divided against itself and fresh conflicts will ensue. If it is assimilated, you will have the House of Lords over again, and more odious than ever, since the life element will be regarded as having apostatized and betrayed its trust.

Yet the whole theory of a Second Chamber as a necessary part of Parliamentary institutions appears to have no other origin nor any sounder basis than a mistaken view of the nature of the House of Lords, which all the world has supposed to be a Senate, when in fact it was an estate of the feudal realm, representing not a higher grade of deliberative wisdom but simply the special interest of the great landowners. The only valid argument in favor of the retention of the House of Lords is, in fact, the difficulty which the Bicamerists find in devising anything to be put in its place. Nomination is a total failure; the nominated Senate of Canada is a legislative cypher, the debates of which are not even reported, and the places in it are a mere addition to the bribery fund of the party leader. If both Chambers are elective, as in Victoria, the result is a collision and a deadlock, out of which, in the case of sovereign assemblies, there would be no colonial officer or governor to point a way. Co-option in any form, or election by an order, would give us the oligarchy over again, perhaps in a worse shape than ever, since the members would have to cultivate the good graces of a privileged and reactionary electorate. Not only as to the mode in which their Senate is to be elected are the Bicamerists at fault; they are equally at fault as to the special materials of which it is to be composed. If age or wealth is to be the qualification, impotence or odium will be the result. If the wisest are to have their seats in the Senate, the popular House will be deprived of its best leaders. Supreme power must centre somewhere; it will centre in that body which most directly represents the national will. Let the assembly, then, which is the seat of su80preme power, be the seat of collective wisdom. Concentrate in it, as far as possible, all the best available elements, those of a conservative character as well as the rest. Frankly recognize its authority, and invest it at the same time with a full measure of responsibility. Notoriously the existence of a Senate diminishes the sense of responsibility in the popular chamber, and diminishes it out of proportion to the control really exercised; for a Senate soon gets tired of incurring the unpopularity of rejection. This surely is a more rational and hopeful plan than that of abandoning the seat of supreme power to popular impulse, and affixing by way of safeguard an artificial regulator to its side. Checks and balances belong to mechanics, not to politics; in mechanics you can apportion force, in politics force cannot be apportioned, though nominal authority may. That there are good and useful elements in the House of Lords, especially among the new creations, nobody doubts. Let them be transferred, with any social influence which in these democratic times may adhere to them, to a sphere where they can act with effect. At present they are ostracized by seclusion, as is clearly perceived by some Radicals, who on that ground deprecate a reform of the House of Lords. Let Lord Salisbury go to the Commons and Lord Hartington stay there. The Lords are warned by their partisans against imitating the foolish abdication of the French aristocracy in the famous holocaust of feudal titles. To that it may come, if they do not take care. But this is an earlier stage of the revolution, and the day of grace has not yet expired. Let the Lords do that which the French aristocracy ought to have done, and by doing which they might have averted the catastrophe. Let them at once go over frankly to the Tiers Etat, and strengthen by their accession the conservative forces in the national assembly. Convulsive efforts to retain an obnoxious privilege only inflame the revolutionary spirit, and at the same time make it still more desperately difficult for rational statesmanship to deal with the situation. Tory democracy is apparently a plea for founding aristocracy on demagogism, and for stemming Socialism by heading it and81 combining it with a foreign policy of violence. Can the House of Lords be so blind as not to see in what such a course must end? What has been the end of other attempts of privilege to save itself by an alliance with extreme Radicalism against moderate reform?

Not in a Second Chamber, patched up or newly created, but in a well-regulated franchise and a rational mode of election, are effectual securities for the permanent ascendancy of national reason over passion in the legislature to be found. The electorate has been dealt with by successive reformers in the belief that its functions, and therefore the necessary qualifications for it, have remained unchanged. But its functions have been greatly changed, and have become infinitely more important and difficult than they originally were. Instead of merely choosing delegates to give his assent to taxation, the elector is now called upon to choose a ruler, and, at the same time, virtually to decide upon the general policy of the country. This is beyond the capacity of any ordinary voter. Everybody knows what happens, and until an immense progress shall have been made in popular education, must happen—how the intelligent elector, even supposing him to escape bribery and all other corrupt influences, votes at best for the Blue or Yellow ticket, and too often votes not even for the Blue or Yellow ticket, but with reference to some merely local or personal question, some fancy or antipathy, leaving the broad interests of the country and the qualifications essential to a legislator altogether out of sight. The author of “Round My House” tells us how opinion among the French peasantry in certain districts was swept by an angry fancy about a reduction in the value of a coin. What chance would Chatham or Peel, representing a great national policy, have stood against the lowest demagogue if he had been on the unpopular side of the question about the Cider Tax or Wood’s halfpence? An ordinary citizen, occupied in trade or manual labor, has not the leisure, if he had the knowledge and capacity, to study the complex questions put before him. Yet there are reformers who desire to set Hodge to choose not only out of the worthies of his own neighbor82hood, but out of all the notabilities of the country, among whom the largest vote would probably be polled by the Tichborne Claimant. From selfishness the poor are at least as free as the rich; they would vote at least as well if they knew how; but the knowledge is to them unattainable. In no sphere but that of politics does anybody propose to thrust upon people power of which it is manifestly impossible that they should make an intelligent use. Not only is it manifestly impossible that the people should make an intelligent use of the power of direct election to the governing assembly and of determining its policy: it is morally impossible that they should really make use of it at all. They are unorganized, and, though they live in the same district, unconnected as a rule with each other: they have no means of taking counsel together for the selection of a member. The selection must therefore be made for them by some self-constituted agency. That agency is the Caucus, into the hands of whose managers and masters the representation, styled popular, really falls.

Both the party organizations in England are now adopting the system, and thus confiscating the suffrage which they profess by legislation to bestow. One of them at least already has the Boss, and both of them will soon have the complete machine, with a host of professional politicians, recruited from the class which prefers place-hunting to honest trades. Government, in a word, will fall into the hands of irresponsible intriguers, and will be dominated in ever-increasing measure by Knavery and corruption. Nor is there any assignable remedy for the evil; the wire-pullers and professional politicians alone can give their time to the elections, and therefore it is hardly possible to organize the means of casting off their yoke. Attending “primaries” is often preached as the duty of the patriotic citizen; but the patriotic citizen who does attend the primary finds everything arranged by the wire-pullers beforehand and himself impotent and a laughing-stock. This will not appear in the first flush of a revolutionary movement, while the present leaders retain their ascendancy, but it will appear as soon as the revolution settles down. Public education, it is83 true, has been introduced in England; but it has always existed in the United States, and it has not saved that country from the Boss. To save the country from the Boss is now the highest aim of the best citizens; but they will hardly succeed without a constitutional change.

American reformers, if they want to go to the root of the evil, have a light to guide their efforts in the successful working of their Senate, which, being elected indirectly, through the State Legislatures, is a body of remarkable ability, and possesses the general confidence of the nation; while the House of Representatives, elected directly by the people, that is, by the wire-puller, who usurps the functions of the people, presents a most unfavorable contrast. Those who have sat in both say the difference between the two political atmospheres is immense. Rid the Senate of Party, and it would be about as good a governing body as any nation could reasonably desire. Indirect elections through local councils is the plan which seems to promise the best central legislature; and it takes from the primary elector nothing which at present is really his. Ordinary knowledge and intelligence ought to suffice to enable a man to choose from among his neighbors those who are fittest to manage his local affairs. But the local councillors would be a comparatively picked body; they might reasonably be expected to give their minds to the central election; they would not be too many for concert; and they would exercise their power as a trust under the eyes of the people. As permanent bodies they could not, like the College of Presidential Electors, be reduced to the mere bearers of a mandate. A high trust, by adding to the importance and dignity of local councils, would be likely to draw into them better men. Through such an organization, apparently, opinion might freely and quietly flow from the people to the depository of power. Local and social influences would no doubt be strong; but they are more wholesome than that of the Boss, and, as was said before, it is easier to enlarge the parochial than to make the wire-puller honest. Parochialism, however, has been pretty well broken up by the press and the telegraph. Hardly anybody can84 now live in intellectual isolation. The Caucus itself, so far as it works fairly, is a tribute to the principle of indirect election.

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

Like the mode of election, the qualification for the franchise has never undergone any rational consideration with reference to the changed status and duties of the elector, who, instead of being really a subject, is now a participant in sovereign power. Nothing has been thought of the property qualification, which by successive agitations has been reduced to the vanishing point, and the next time anybody wants to raise the political wind will finally disappear. The broader the basis of electoral institutions can safely be made the better, and with indirect instead of direct election to the central legislature, it would be safe to make it very broad. Still some qualifications are necessary, even for the primary elector; nor, if the writer may trust his own observation, is there any indisposition on the part of the intelligent working-classes to look at the matter in that light. A common education is now placed within everybody’s reach by the help of the State, and it entails corresponding obligations. A mode of ascertaining that the elector could read and write, or at least read, by means of a certificate or test, might surely be devised. Personal application for registration would also be a fair requirement, since a man would hardly be fit to share the sovereign power who did not care enough about his vote to ask for it; and it would probably act as a useful criterion, self-applied. With the full powers of a citizen should also go, in reason, the full duties—liability to serve on juries, to assist in the enforcement of the law, to take part, if called upon, in the defence of the country.85 There is a vague notion that all human beings, or all who pay taxes (which, directly or indirectly, everybody does), have a natural right to a vote, and this is carried so far that votes are about to be given to a multitude of Irish who openly profess themselves the enemies of the State, and announce that they will use the votes for its destruction. Perhaps this Irish experiment may help to bring us all to reason, and convince us that nobody has a right to the means of doing mischief to himself and his fellows, or to anything but that form of government which is practically the best for all.

Considering how our morality and happiness depend on the maintenance of right relations between the sexes, it is surely a proof of the desperate recklessness of party that the Conservative leaders should be willing to fling female character and ultimately the home into the political caldron for the sake of gaining the female vote. Their calculation may prove unfounded; at least on this continent the women of Conservative temperament seem to stay at home, while the revolutionary Megæra mounts the platform and, brandishing her torch among the Anarchists of Chicago, bids the poor trust in dynamite instead of trusting in God. That gentleness and purity will come with woman into public life is certainly not the decisive verdict of experience, so far as experience has gone. It rather seems that her gentleness and purity depended on her absence from the political arena. Will the government be improved by being made feminine? That is the question to be answered in the common interest of both sexes. The male nature, though not higher, is the more practical. Men, as a rule, alone are brought into daily contact with the world of action by the varied experiences and exigencies of which the balance of political character is formed. Men alone can be said to be fully responsible. Unless sentiment should undergo a total change, a female Member of Parliament or office-holder could not be called to account like a man. In this rough world how will a nation prosper which is swayed by the emotions of its women? The sexes may be co-equal, and yet, having different natures, they may have different parts86 to play in the community as they certainly have in the family. Laws have been made by man, because law, to take effect, must have force behind it, and the force of the community is male. If women made such laws as some of them threaten to make in the interest of their sex, men would refuse to execute the law. If women voted a war for some object of female enthusiasm, as the French women would for the defence of the Pope, men would refuse to march. The authority of government would then fall. A woman cannot support the police or take part in the defence of the country. Women are not a class with separate interests of its own, but a sex, the political interests of which are identical with those of their husbands and brothers. Their property is not of a special kind, nor can it be alleged to have suffered any wrong by general legislation. Assuredly general legislation has of late not been unfavorable to woman. Perhaps they get more from the chivalry of male legislation than they would get if, armed with political power, they were fighting for themselves. To the argument that property held by them is unrepresented, the answer is that no property is represented in any hands beyond the minimum required for a qualification in each case. This is a small hardship compared with the practical exclusion from voting of all our sailors, the flower of our industry, and of a large number of those employed by commerce in the work of distribution. Woman, if she has her disabilities, has also her privileges, which, with the general guardianship of affection, the majority of the sex would probably be unwilling to renounce for the sake of gratifying the ambition of a few. Conservatives especially may be expected to consider the effects likely to be produced on female character and on domestic life by the introduction of women into politics and the general revolution in the relations between the sexes of which that measure is an integral part. Female aspirations begin to take a new turn. An American apostle of woman’s rights told us plainly the other day that she considered maternity a poor aim for a woman’s ambition. Nature answers by dooming the race to decay.


A stable, though responsible, executive, invested with a reasonable amount of authority, commanding the general confidence of the people, and capable of exercising forecast and governing on a plan, especially with regard to foreign affairs, is a necessity of civilized life. How is it to be secured for the future to England? Have reforming statesmen asked themselves that momentous question, or has the necessity of answering it been hidden from their eyes by the illusion which surrounds the “ancient throne?” What basis has Government at present but party? Is not that crisis crumbling to pieces? Is not the Liberal party in the House of Commons split up into discordant sections and held together solely by the authority of a leader in his seventy-fifth year and without any visible heir of his power? Have not the Irish entirely severed themselves from it and taken up a position which renders a reunion with them hopeless? Is not even the Tory party, though as a party of reaction less exposed to disintegration than a party of progress, went by divergent tendencies towards Conservatism on one side and Tory democracy on the other? Is not everybody at a loss to conceive how, after next election, and when the number of Parnellites shall have been increased, a party broad and strong enough to support a government is to be formed? The disintegration is not confined to England; it extends to all countries in which Parliamentary institutions prevail. It is extending now to the United States, where the reforming Republicans voted in the Presidential election; and the other day the Liberal party in Belgium suddenly split in two. The consequences everywhere are the fatal instability and weakness of government, the only exception being Germany, where Bismarck holds himself above party, governs on a principle really monarchical, and makes up a majority from any quarter that he can? France, with her Chamber full of Sectionalism, cabal and unruly ambition, lives always on the brink of administrative anarchy: industry and commerce never knowing whether next day they will have the shelter of a government over their heads. The Executive in the United States stands on an independent88 though elective footing; if it depended for its existence from day to day on the factions of Congress, chaos would soon come. Is there any prospect of a return to party union and solidity? As intellects grow more active, idiosyncracies more pronounced, ambitions more numerous and keen, is it likely that divergences will become fewer and that patient submission to party discipline will increase? Is not the tendency everywhere the opposite way? What permanent claim has party on the allegiance of a moral being? What is it but a soft name for faction, the bane of States? Why should a good citizen surrender his conscience to it? Why should good citizens for ever divide themselves into two hostile camps, and wage political war against each other? Is an unpatriotic and anti-social principle to be accepted as the last word of politics? The supply of organic questions cannot be inexhaustible. When it is exhausted and divisions of principle have disappeared, on what ground of reason or moral motive are parties to rest? Must they not thenceforth become factions pure and simple? Have they not become factions pure and simple, whenever organic questions have ceased to be at issue? Party has been the organ by which in England the Long Revolution has been conducted to its issue, and power has been gradually wrested from the Crown and transferred to the Commons. Hence the belief, shared by the whole of Europe, that party was inseparable from Parliamentary institutions, and that in no other way could free government be carried on. If free government can be carried on in no other way, the prospect is dark, for party is apparently doomed, alike by morality and by the growing tendencies of the age. But there is obviously one other way at least in which free government can be carried on. Instead of making office the prize of a perpetual faction fight, the members of the Executive Council of State may be regularly elected by the Members of the Legislature for a term certain, under such a system with regard to the rotation of vacancies as may at once secure sufficient harmony between the two bodies and a sufficient continuity in the executive government. The responsibility of89 the Executive for the decisions of the Legislature, and its obligation to resign upon every Legislative defeat, which is a mere accident of English history and devoid of rational foundation, would then cease. The Legislature and the Executive would be at liberty each to do its own work. The Executive would be national, and would receive the general support of the community instead of being an object of organized hostility to half of it; it would be stable instead of being as it is now throughout Europe ephemeral as well as weak. Responsibility on the part of its members instead of being diminished would be increased. It would become individual, whereas now it is only collective, the whole Cabinet and the party majority being bound to support each Minister whatever may be his failure in duty. Personal aptitude might be considered in the elections to the offices, whereas at present little can be considered beyond the necessity of providing for all the leaders, and a good financier or Minister of Marine would not be turned out because he was in the minority on a Franchise Bill.

The nations have been so much engaged in taking authority out of bad hands, that they have forgotten that it is a good and necessary thing in itself. Government has become dangerously weak. The greater part of its energy is now expended, not in the work of administration, but in preserving its own existence. Not only is it exposed to the incessant attacks of an Opposition whose business is to traduce and harass it, but it is now hardly able to sustain itself against the irresponsible power of the press, wielded nobody knows by whom, but often under secret influences, which are a great and growing danger in all communities. To keep the popular favor, which is to them the breath of life, the members of the Cabinet have to be always on the stump, reserving to themselves little time for rest or reflection, and the stump orator is rapidly superseding the statesman. This vacillation of policy on the Egyptian question, the consequences of which all have been deploring, has not been so much that of the Government as that of the nation itself worrying and distracting the Government through the press. A country with an Empire and a world-wide diplo90macy cannot afford to have an Executive, the policy of which is always shifting with the wind of opinion, and which can exercise no forecast, because it is not sure of its existence for an hour. In India, the danger is not so much from native disaffection as from British agitation, which the Company managed to exclude, but which, since India has been driven into the vortex of British politics, a party Government has no power to control. Those who are as far as is the writer of this paper from being Imperialists, must see, nevertheless, that while the Empire exists it creates a special necessity for a strong and undemagogic Government, and that on any hypothesis, a disruption, or general dissolution from a collapse of the central authority, is not the thing to be desired. The Radicals themselves are saying that what the country now wants is a strong government, by which, however, people often mean a government strongly imbued with their own ideas.

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

There is another point which, while time for consideration remains to them, British statesmen will surely do well to consider. It would seem paradoxical to say that England, the parent of constitutional government, has no constitution; but it will be admitted at once that she has no legal constitution, at least that her legal constitution is not actual. Actually she has nothing but a balance of power, or rather the power no longer balanced of the House of91 Commons, which if the Crown attempted to govern would stop the supplies, and if the Lords attempted to vote would force the Crown to coerce them by a swamping creation, or incite the people to terrify them into submission. The term “Constitutional,” though it seems full of mysterious and august meaning, has never really denoted anything but the limit of practical force. If it has been unconstitutional for the Lords to amend a money Bill, but constitutional for them to reject a Bill respecting a tax, as in the noted case of the paper duty, the reason was that the rejection was final, whereas the amended Bill would go back to the Commons, who would throw it out. But while the Commons have annihilated the power of the Crown, and reduced that of the Lords almost to a cipher, they remain themselves liable to dissolution at the will of the party leader into whose hands that prerogative has come, and who can thus suspend at any moment the existence of the supreme government, reduce its members to private citizens, and, if they resist, deal with them as common rioters through the police. In the ordinary course of things the existence of the supreme government is suspended, and an interregnum ensues, whenever the regular Parliamentary term expires. This is hardly the sort of ship with which it is wise to put out on the wide waters of democracy. England, like other nations under the elective system, needs a written constitution, defining all powers and duties, guarding against any usurpation, and entrusted to the keeping of a court of law. Traditions and understandings, which may be maintained and serve their purpose so long as the government is in the hands of a family group of statesmen walking in the ancestral paths, will not command the same respect in a far different order of things. The written constitution is the political Bible of the United States, and without it all would soon be usurpation and confusion. A written constitution in no way interferes with the freedom of development which is the supposed privilege of the unwritten. It only provides that development shall proceed in the way of regular and92 legal amendment, and not in that of violent collision and intimidation by street parades. The system of constitutional amendment works perfectly well in the United States. The power might be safely reposed in the people at large. Men who are not competent to vote on the complex question of the general policy of the country, and at the same time on the merits of the candidate, are competent to vote on a single question submitted by itself, and with regard to which, moreover, there is little danger of corruption or illicit influence. But the nation at large ought, by petition sufficiently signed or in some other way, to have the power of initiating constitutional amendments or compelling their submission by the Government as well as of rejecting them when submitted. Elective rulers, once installed in power, are no more willing to part with it than kings. Such a body as the American House of Representatives, though it might become a sheer political nuisance, would never take the first step in reform. There ought to be a power of enforcing change, when the necessity for it has become apparent to the nation, without having recourse to a violent revolution, or even to intimidation such as is being used in default of a better means to wrest the veto from the House of Lords.

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




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

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

Charles William Siemens was born at Lenthe in Hanover on April 4, 1823, and was one among many of a family eminent for their scientific knowledge and practical skill. The possession of such unusual talents by a whole family is rarer, perhaps, in the intellectual life of England than in that of Germany; at any rate, in the absence of definite statistics such as those compiled with so much care by Mr. Francis Galton, the general impression is that such is the case. It is not difficult to discern in the scientific95 career of the Brothers Siemens some prominent characteristics of their race; and in the life of Sir William, the sympathy of the German mind for general principles, and the tenacity with which it clings to them, are well illustrated, and stand out in strongly-marked contrast to the usual indifference of the average English mind to theoretic conclusions, as opposed to so-called practical ones. It would be well-nigh impossible to find among Englishmen one instance in which an inventor has been so confident of the possible utility of a few grand general principles, that he has worked out from them several great inventions; and that he felt himself justified in this confidence after years of hard work is evidenced by his own saying that “the farther we advance, the more thoroughly do we approach the indications of pure science in our practical results.”

William Siemens received his early educational training at Lübeck, and in the course of it the stimulus afforded to excellence of workmanship by the German guild system made an early and lasting impression upon his mind, for he repeatedly referred to it in after life. From Lübeck he went to the Polytechnical School at Magdeburg, where he studied physical science with apparatus of the most primitive kind, and under great disadvantages, as compared with the facilities of our modern laboratories. After this he studied at Göttingen University, where, under Wöhler and Himly, he first got that insight into chemical laws which laid the foundation of his metallurgical knowledge, and here began to develop in him that wonderful thirst for discovery, which abundant success never quenched. Here, also, occurred what he has himself described as “the determining incident of his life.” Mr. Elkington, of Birmingham, utilising the discoveries of Davy, Faraday, and Jacobi, had devised the first practical application of that form of energy which we now call the electric current, and in 1842 he established a practical process of electro-plating. In the following year, as the result of his96 own and his brother Werner’s work, William Siemens presented himself before Mr. Elkington with an improvement in his process, which was adopted. This is the first on the list of inventions on the diagram behind me. Speaking of his first landing in London he says:

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

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

About this time the researches of97 Joule, Carnot, and Mayer upon the relations between heat and mechanical work were attracting much attention among scientific men, and at the age of twenty-three, William Siemens adopted the hypothesis now known as the dynamical theory of heat. More than once I have drawn attention to the exact numerical relation between units of heat and units of work established by Joule, viz., that 772 foot-pounds of work is required to generate heat enough to raise the temperature of 1 lb. of water 1° Fah., and I have pointed out here and elsewhere that this was the first well-authenticated example of that grandest of modern generalisations, the doctrine of the Conservation of Energy, the truth of which is constantly receiving new illustrations.

With a mind thoroughly pervaded by this important principle, Siemens applied himself to the study of steam and caloric engines, and saw at once that there was an enormous difference between the theoretical and the actual power gained from the heat developed by the combustion of a given quantity of coal, and hence that there was a very large margin for improvement. He at once determined to try to utilise some of this wasted heat, and he conceived the idea (to which I invite your particular attention) of making a regenerator, or an accumulator, which should retain or store a limited quantity of heat, and be capable of yielding it up again when required for the performance of any work. In the factory of Mr. John Hicks, of Bolton, he first constructed an engine on this plan; the saving in fuel was great, but it was attended by mechanical difficulties which at that time he was unable to solve. The Society of Arts, however, recognised the value of the principle by awarding him a gold medal in 1850. Three years afterwards, his paper “On the Conversion of Heat into Mechanical Effect,” before the Institution of Civil Engineers, gained him the Telford premium (awarded only once in five years) and the medal of the Institution. In 1856 he gave a lecture upon his engine at the Royal Institution, considered as the result of ten years’ experimental work, and as the first practical application of the mechanical theory of heat; he then indicated the economic considerations which en98couraged him to persevere in his experiments, pointing out that the total national expenditure for steam-coal alone amounted to eight millions sterling per year, of which at least two-thirds might be saved!

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

The furnace consists essentially of three parts; (1) the gas producer, which converts the solid coal into gaseous fuel; (2) the regenerators, usually four in number, which are filled with fire-brick piled in such a way as to break up into many parts a current of air or gas99 passing through them; (3) the furnace proper, where the combustion is actually accomplished. In using the furnace, the gaseous fuel and air are conducted through one pair of regenerators to the combustion chamber; the heated gases from this, on their way to the chimney, pass through the other pair of regenerators, heating them in their passage. In the course of, say, one hour, the currents are reversed, so that the comparatively cold gas and air pass over these heated regenerators before entering the furnace, and rob them of their heat. While this is going on, the first pair of regenerators is being heated again, and thus, by working them in alternate pairs, nearly all the heat, which would otherwise have escaped unused into the chimney, is utilised.

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

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

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

This all-important national question, the waste of fuel, which in modern phraseology may be truly called the waste of energy, was constantly before the mind of Sir William Siemens, who lost no opportunity, in his public utterances, of impressing his hearers, and that still wider circle which he reached through the medium of the press, with a sense of the weighty consequences which it involved. In an address at Liverpool in 1872, as President of the Institution100 of Mechanical Engineers, he estimated the total coal consumption of this country at one hundred and twenty million tons, which at 10s. per ton amounted to sixty millions sterling. He strongly asserted that one-half of this might be saved by the general adoption of improved appliances which were within the range of actual knowledge; and he went on to speak of outside speculations, which would lead to the expectation of accomplishing these ends with one-eighth or even one-tenth of the actual expenditure. In 1873 he delivered a famous lecture on Fuel to the operative classes at Bradford, on behalf of the British Association, in which he illustrated how fuel should be used by three examples, typical of the three great branches of consumption: a, the production of steam power; b, the domestic hearth; c, the metallurgical furnace. In connection with the last point he mentioned that the Sheffield pot steel-melting furnace only utilised one-seventieth part of the theoretical heat developed in the combustion, and contrasted with it his own furnace for melting steel. In discussing the question of the duration of our coal supply, he indicated what should be our national aim in the following suggestive and inspiring passage:

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

One of the direct results of this lecture, which was read and warmly commended by some of the most eminent101 men of the time, was that Dr. Siemens was consulted by Mr. Mundella in reference to parliamentary action by the Board of Trade in regard to the coal question.

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

One of the most important applications of the regenerative furnace has been to the manufacture of steel, and he soon perceived that it was necessary for himself to solve the various difficulties which others regarded as practically insuperable. “Having,” he says, “been so often disappointed by the indifference of manufacturers and the antagonism of their workmen, I determined in 1865 to erect experimental or ‘sample steel works’ of my own at Birmingham, for the purpose of maturing the details of these processes, before inviting manufacturers to adopt them.” The success of experiments in 1867-68, in making steel rails, brought about the formation of the Landore Siemens Steel Co., whose works were opened in 1874. When Dr. Siemens was knighted, the employés of this company embodied their congratulations in an address, and had prepared for him a very beautiful model of a steel furnace in ivory and silver; the presentation of these was prevented by his premature death, but the address stated that “the quantity of steel made here to the end of last year on your process was upwards of 400,000 tons!” In the ten years ending in102 1882, the annual production of open-hearth steel in the United Kingdom increased from 77,500 tons to 436,000 tons. During an action in the Superior Courts of the United States, it was stated that the inventor had received a million dollars in royalties, the annual saving in that country by his process being 3¾ millions of dollars! These statements refer mainly, I believe, to the conversion of cast or wrought iron into steel, either by the “direct” process of acting on pig-iron with iron ore in an open hearth, or by the “scrap process” (Siemens-Martin) of melting wrought-iron and steel scrap in a bath of pig-metal. Both of these require the preliminary treatment of the blast furnace, and in speaking of them in 1873, Dr. Siemens said that “however satisfactory these results might appear, I have never considered them in the light of final achievements. On the contrary, I have always looked upon the direct conversion of iron and steel from the ore, without the intervention of blast furnaces and the refinery, as the great object to be attained.” How far he succeeded in this may be gathered from the fact that in a paper read on April 29, 1883, before the Iron and Steel Institute, on the “Manufacture of Iron and Steel by the Direct Process,” he showed how to produce 15 cwt. of wrought iron direct from the ore in three hours, with a consumption of 25 cwt. of coal per ton of metal, which is one-half the quantity previously required for the production of a ton of pig-iron only, in the blast furnace! The long and costly experiments which ended in the realisation of his views extended over twenty-five years; and it is worthy of note that he told the Parliamentary Committee on Patents that he would not have continued them if the English patent law had not insured such a period of protection as would repay him for his labor.

Great, however, as the economic results of the gas-producer have been, its inventor looked forward to still more remarkable applications of it. In 1882 he told the British Association, in his presidential address, that he thought103 “the time is not far distant when both rich and poor will largely resort to gas as the most convenient, the cleanest, and the cheapest of heating agents, and when raw coal will be seen only at the colliery or the gas-works. In all cases where the town to be supplied is within, say, thirty miles of the colliery, the gas-works may with advantage be planted at the mouth, or, still better, at the bottom of the pit, whereby all haulage of fuel would be avoided, and the gas, in its ascent from the bottom of the colliery, would acquire an onward pressure sufficient probably to impel it to its destination. The possibility of transporting combustible gas through pipes for such a distance has been proved at Pittsburg, where natural gas from the oil district is used in large quantities.” It may be well to point out here that as a step towards this, it was a favorite project of his—practically carried out in some places—to divide the gaseous products of the ordinary distillation of coal into two, the middle portions being illuminating gas of 18 to 20 candle power instead of 16, and the first and last portions, which under this system may be largely increased, being heating gas; such gas he expected to see sold at 1s. per 1,000 cubic feet. The obvious and only practicable objection to the plan is the necessity for doubling all the mains and service-pipes. That we shall eventually burn gaseous fuel on the domestic hearth, as we have lately learnt to do on the metallurgical, I have not the smallest doubt; it is a mere question of the time necessary for the education of the public mind upon the question; the apter the pupil, the more speedy will be the desired result. Let it be thoroughly understood by every one that the soot which hangs in a pall over London in a single day is equivalent to at least fifty tons of coal, and then there will be no difficulty in seeing that the true and the only remedy for our London fogs, with all their attendant ills, is—gaseous fuel. May we not hope that, though Sir William Siemens has gone from among us, the great movement for smoke abatement, in which he so earnestly labored during the last three years of his life, may have full effect?

If I have dwelt thus long upon this particular branch of my subject, it is because I know of no other which so well illustrates two points in Sir William Siemens’ character which I have alluded to at the outset: his unwavering devo104tion to general principles and their consequences, and his ardent desire to promote the practical welfare of mankind. There is, however, as the late Professor Rolleston remarked to him, no subject which more impresses the minds even of persons who are laymen as regards science, than the history of Telegraphy (and I may perhaps be permitted to add, of Electrical Engineering generally), now so inseparably connected with his name. The University of Göttingen, at which he studied, was the cradle, if not the birthplace, of the electric telegraph in 1833. Shortly after, Sir Charles Wheatstone in England, and Mr. Morse in the United States, were simultaneously working at the same problem, and each claimed the honor of having solved it.

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

The Messrs. Siemens were also pioneers in submarine telegraphy, the first cable covered with gutta-percha having been laid across the Rhine by Dr. Werner Siemens in 1847. The invention of105 the machine for coating the conducting wire with the insulating material, gutta-percha, or india rubber, is entirely due to Dr. William Siemens, who also subsequently designed the steamship Faraday for the special work of laying and repairing submarine cables. This unique vessel was launched on Feb. 16, 1874, and when she was completed, Dr. Siemens invited all his scientific friends to inspect her, and challenged them to suggest any improvements in her arrangements. She was first used in laying the Direct United States Cable, which is above 3,000 miles in length. In this connection I may perhaps be permitted to relate a very characteristic anecdote. When Dr. Siemens took a contract for a cable, the electrical tests of which were specified, it was his invariable habit to give out to the works a considerably higher test, which every section of the cable had to pass, or be rejected in toto. In the case of this cable, probably during manipulation on board ship, a minute piece of wire penetrated the insulating material, bringing down the electrical test to a point below the “works” test, but still decidedly above the contract test. The discovery was not made until so late that to cut out the faulty piece involved a delay of some days in the middle of the Atlantic, but Dr. Siemens insisted upon its being done; after this, stormy weather came on, and the cable had to be cut and buoyed, while the Faraday had to winter on the American side, and resume operations next spring. The money loss involved amounted, I am told, to more than £30,000. Perhaps the most remarkable of the later feats was the fulfilment of a contract with the Compagnie Française du Telegraphe de Paris à New York, who ordered a cable 3,000 miles long from the Messrs. Siemens in March, 1879, and it was handed over to them in perfect working order in September of the same year! There are now nearly 90,000 miles of submarine cable at work, costing about £32,000,000, and a fleet of thirty-two ships are employed in laying, watching, and repairing these cables, of which there are now eleven across the Atlantic alone.

In connection with the subject of telegraphy, and as an instance of the versatility of Dr. Siemens’s inventive powers,106 I may point out that in 1876 he brought out the pneumatic postal telegraph tube, by which, as is pretty generally known, written messages are blown or sucked through tubes on various metropolitan routes, instead of being transmitted electrically. About the same time, also, he constructed his ingenious bathometer, for ascertaining the depth of the sea at any given point, without the tedious operation of sounding; and some years previously he worked out his electrical thermometer or pyrometer, enabling the observer to read the temperature (whenever he desired) at any distant and inaccessible point, such as the top of a mountain, the bottom of the sea, the air between the layers of a cable, or the interior of a furnace.

Probably the most prominent idea associated in the public mind with the name of Siemens is that of electric lighting, and perhaps electric tram and railroads. As I have more than once pointed out in this room, the dynamo-machine, by which mechanical energy is converted into that form of energy known as electricity (which may be used both for lighting and for the transmission of power), is derived from a principle discovered by Faraday in 1831. Sir William Siemens’ devotion to this, and the important practical consequences which he deduced from it, constitute another example of that mental characteristic to which I have already alluded. Faraday’s discovery, briefly described, was that when a bar magnet was suddenly inserted into a coil of wire, or when a wire was suddenly moved through a magnetic field, a momentary current of electricity was developed in the wire. Although this current is exceedingly small and brief, it is capable of unlimited multiplication by mechanical arrangements of a simple kind. One means for accomplishing this multiplication was the Siemens armature of 1857, which consisted, at first, of a piece of iron with wire wound round it longitudinally, not transversely, the whole to be rotated between the poles of a powerful magnet; in its present form it is one of the most powerful and perfect things of its kind, and the evolution of the Siemens armature, as we now have it, from the rudimentary type of a quarter of a century ago, has been characterised by Sir W.107 Thomson as one of the most beautiful products of inventive genius, and more like the growth of a flower than to almost anything else in the way of mechanism made by man.

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

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

In the development of appliances for the production of the electric light Sir William Siemens took a leading part, and, as is well known, his firm has been facile princeps at all the important electrical exhibitions. But while ever zealous to promote its progress, he never took a partisan view of its utility, candidly admitting that gas must continue to be the poor man’s friend. In 1882108 he told the Society of Arts that “Electricity must win the day as the light of luxury, but gas will find an ever-increasing application for the more humble purposes of diffusing light.”

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

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

Some photographs, which he kindly allowed me to take, represent the difference between three kinds of corn grown under ordinary conditions, and the same corn, under the same conditions, with the added stimulus of the electric light from sunset to sunrise. He came to the conclusion that, although periodic darkness evidently favors growth in the sense of elongating the stalks of plants, the continuous stimulus of light was favorable to a healthy development at a greatly accelerated pace, through all the109 stages of the annual life of the plant, from the early leaf to the ripened fruit.

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

In March, 1877, Dr. Siemens startled the world, in his address to the Iron and Steel Institute, by his proposal to transmit to distant points some of the energy of the Falls of Niagara. As I have before explained in this room, the electrical transmission of energy depends upon the fact that a dynamo-machine may be used either to convert mechanical into electrical energy, or to effect the reverse change. Hence to transmit power in this way, two dynamo-machines, connected by a metallic conducting rod, or cable, are necessary; the first, at the water-fall or other source of power, produces the electrical energy, which, in its turn, is reconverted into mechanical power by the second dynamo at the other end of the line. In his own grounds at Tunbridge Wells he made numerous experiments in this subject, distributing the power from a central steam-engine over various parts of his farm, there to perform different functions. The most interesting practical examples, as yet, are to be seen in the electric railroads erected and worked by Siemens Brothers in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, &c., and in the Electric Tramroad at Portrush. The special interest of this line lies in the fact that it was the first real application to railroads of “waste energy,” inasmuch as the cars are propelled by the power of a water-fall eight miles off! The last occasion on which I had the privilege of meeting Sir William Siemens was when, honored by his invitation, I was present at the opening of this line in September 28, 1883. On that occasion, which, half-a-century hence, will be as memorable as the opening of the Stockton and Darlington railroad, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland recognised the fact that this was an entirely new departure in the development110 of the resources of Ireland, and Sir William Siemens, in a most characteristic speech, admitted that, had he known the difficulties before him, he should have thought twice before he said “Yes” to Dr. Traill’s question as to whether the proposed line could be worked electrically, but that, having said “Yes,” he was determined to carry out the project. As illustrating the character of the man, I may here quote the saying common in his workshops, that as soon as any particular problem had been given up by everybody as a bad job, it had only to be taken to Dr. Siemens for him to suggest half-a-dozen ways of solving it, two of which would be complicated and impracticable, two difficult, and two perfectly satisfactory.

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

One Man’s Intellect.

Siemens telegraph wires gird the earth, and the Siemens cable steamer Faraday is continually engaged in laying new ones. By the Siemens method has been solved the problem of fishing out from the stormy ocean, from a depth comparable to that of the vale of Chamounix, the ends of a broken cable. Electrical resistance is measured by the Siemens mercury unit. “Siemens” is written on water meters, and Russian and German revenue officers are assisted by Siemens apparatus in levying their assessments. The Siemens process for silvering and gilding, and the Siemens anastatic printing, mark stages in the development of these branches of industry. Siemens differential regulators control the action of the steam-engines that forge the English arms at Woolwich, and that of the chronographs on which the transits of the stars are marked at Greenwich. The Siemens cast111steel works and glasshouses, with their regenerative furnaces, are admired by all artisans. The Siemens electric light shines in assembly-rooms and public places, and the Siemens gas light competes with it, while the Siemens electro-culture in greenhouses bids defiance to our long winter nights. The Siemens electric railway is destined to rule in cities and tunnels. The Siemens electric furnace, melting three pounds of platinum in twenty minutes, was the wonder of the Paris Exposition, which might well have been called an exposition of Siemens apparatus and productions, so prominent were they there.

Almost alone among all these results, his theory of the “Conservation of Solar Energy” dealt with a question not affecting, or at least not immediately affecting, human welfare. A great authority has characterised this as “one of the highest and most brilliant flights that the scientific imagination has ever made.” While astronomers quietly accepted the conclusion that the sun is cooling down, and will become at some distant but calculable epoch a mere cinder hung in space, he endeavored to show that energy can no more be lost in the solar system than it is in the laboratory or the factory. Sir William Siemens’s theory assumed that the interplanetary spaces are filled with an exceedingly thin or rare atmosphere of the compounds of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, such for example as aqueous vapor and hydro-carbons. In this atmosphere the sun is revolving with a velocity four times that of the earth, and hence the solar atmosphere at his equator is thrown out to an enormous distance from his surface. One consequence of this is a perpetual indraught, at the poles of the sun, of the surrounding atmosphere. Thus the sun is everlastingly being fed, and everlastingly sending out its light and heat, which thus recuperate themselves: in this way the solar energy, which is sometimes assumed to be lost in the empty void of interstellar space, really acts upon the rare vapors therein, and converts the universe into a kind of vast regenerative furnace! Had the author of this ingenious theory lived but a few years longer, he would doubtless have labored to strengthen it with further observations and arguments. As it is, it must remain as a daring and original suggestion, the effort of a keen and sagacious mind to bring to fresh subjects the ex112perience and the knowledge accumulated by work of quite a different kind. It is more scientific to believe, with him, that there is some restorative and conservative agency at work, than to suppose that the universe is gradually cooling down into a ball of slag, were it only because his theory does not require an effort of creation at once tremendous and futile. It leaves us free to avoid contemplating a time when the solar system was not, and another when it will cease to be.

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

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

He urged the prime importance of the teaching of science being included113 in the curriculum of every school, and of an adequate supply of trained teachers, as well as of properly equipped laboratories of all kinds, wherein to train them. Replying to the proverb, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” he said: “A little knowledge is an excellent thing, only it must be understood that this little is fundamental knowledge,” and he endorsed Lord Brougham’s pithy saying, “Try to know something about everything, and everything about something.”

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

In conclusion, let me try, with the aid of private letters and papers which it has been my privilege to peruse, to bring before you some of the personal characteristics of the man whose life-work we have been considering. Of his extraordinary perseverance in overcoming obstacles I have already spoken, and it has been well remarked that, to a mind and body requiring almost perpetual exercise, these difficulties supplied only a wholesome quantity of resistance. In the two valuable qualities of tenacity and pliancy of intellect he has perhaps never been surpassed. Suppleness and nimbleness of mind are rarely allied with that persistent “grip,” which, without them, is not unlikely to degenerate into obstinacy. In Sir William Siemens these qualities were happily balanced. His talents were the admiration of his contemporaries, and his memory will ever be respected and honored by all, friends and rivals alike; for the facility with which he applied his114 powers to the solution of the most difficult problems was equalled by the modesty with which he presented the successful result of his efforts. An eminent engineer said of him, “With all his great work, no envious word was ever mixed!” At the time when he received his honorary degree from the University of Oxford, a distinguished Oxonian wrote: “I believe an alumnus more distinguished by great ability, and by a high and honorable determination to use it for the good of his fellowmen, and to help forward man’s law of existence, ‘Subdue the earth and have dominion over it,’ never received a degree from the University of Oxford.” Of the other distinctions heaped upon him, it was often said that the Society rather than Dr. Siemens was honored; and when he was knighted, a well-known man of science, writing to congratulate him, said: “At the same time I feel that the ennobling of three such men as yourself, Abel, and Playfair confers more honor on the order of knighthood than even it does on science.”

The fame of Sir William Siemens was world-wide, as it deserved to be; but those who knew him best will be the most ready to acknowledge that the qualities of his heart were no less conspicuous than those of his intellect. Hear what his pupils and assistants said of him:—“How my dear old master will be missed, and what a gap in many walks of life will be unfilled!” “There are many younger members of our profession who will look elsewhere in vain for such genial uniform kindness and sympathy as his invariably was.”“The seven years I spent in his service were the happiest in my life.” “It was the loss of the kindest and best friend I ever had, and I have not known such sorrow since the loss of my older brother. The keenest incentive I had in my new work was the desire of showing him that his kindly recommendation was justified by the event.”In acknowledging the gift from Lady Siemens of some objects of remembrance, one writes:115 “They, as visible objects on which his eyes must have rested frequently, will, I feel certain, when I shall look at them, tend to encourage me in overcoming difficulties, of which there exist always plenty for those who wish to contribute their share, however small, to the progress of things of this world. It is this example which Sir William Siemens has given to all the world, which will, I believe, be the most beneficial for future generations, and for those who are wise enough to follow it.”

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

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

Many testified to his great benevolence. The German Athenæum wrote: “If the world of science has lost in your late husband one of its brightest stars, the poor, the striving student, as well as the struggling artist, have lost a liberal benefactor and a patron; and on hearing of his sad and but too early death, many will have exclaimed, ‘We ne’er shall look upon his like again!’” An eminent man spoke of him as one “whose life has been spent in an unselfish and unceasing devotion to God’s creatures.” Many of the letters which I have read convey the thoughts of some of his friends on hearing of his death, in language such as this:116 “We all felt struck down; realising how much poorer his loss had left the world, leaving us as he did when full of the vigor of his endless interests, and brightening all around him, not only by his genius and high intellect, but by his marvellous benevolence and tender consideration, so full was he of kind feeling and thought for others. He was in a high degree the possessor of those sweet domestic virtues which, while so simple and unostentatious, were so spontaneous and charming. What an eminently well-rounded life was his! Our children will always remember how he was held up to them as a man almost without an equal.” A confidential servant, who had lived in his family many years, wrote of him as the most Christ-like man she had ever met; and that he always reminded her of the Arab prince who asked the recording angel, when writing in his book the names of those who loved the Lord, to write him as one who loved his fellowmen; the angel wrote and carried the book to heaven, bringing it back again to show; and when the prince looked, lo, his name led all the rest!

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

One who had exceptional opportunities of knowing him wrote:117 “His characteristic of intensity in whatever he was engaged in was remarkable. Even in his relaxations he entered into them with his whole heart; indeed, it did one good to hear his ringing laugh when witnessing some amusing play—the face lit up with well-nigh childlike pleasure—no trace of the weariness which had been visible after a long day of work of such varied kinds, all demanding his most serious attention, involving often momentous world-wide results. As a travelling companion he was indeed the light and happiness of those who had the privilege to be with him. Everything that could lessen fatigue, or add to the enjoyment and interest of the journey, was thought of, and tenderly carried out, and the knowledge of the pleasure he was giving was his sweet reward. Young people and children clustered round him, and he spared no trouble to explain simply and clearly any question they asked him.”

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

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




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

But though he walked homeward with that sense of dissatisfaction which is generally experienced by persons of education and sensibility after a visit to the modern theatre, the play continued to haunt him. With its subject he must have been already thoroughly familiar, for are not Eloisa and Abelard the most celebrated lovers in history? But though at college he had been distinguished by the elegance of his lyrics, De Rémusat had attained the meridian of life without acquiring, or even attempting to acquire, a distinct reputation as a man of letters. Like most of the aspiring spirits of his time, he had betaken himself to political journalism, trusting that it would conduct to parliamentary honors, and obtain for him a share in the direction of affairs of State. At first a somewhat docile pupil of Guizot, by the time the famous Globe was started he had shaken himself entirely free from the influence of that doctrinaire statesman, and he shortly became one of its most indefati120gable contributors. How successfully he had employed his pen may be surmised from the fact that his name appears in the list of signatures to the famous Protest against the Ordonnances of Polignac, which caused the Revolution of July. The first Parliament summoned after the accession of Louis Philippe found him, at the age of thirty-three, Member for Muret a constituency in the Haute Garonne which he continued to represent till the Revolution of 1848. Justifiably ambitious of power, that he might advance the cause of Constitutional Government, he abstained from associating his reputation with non-political compositions; and this sternly practical resolve seemed, through long persistence, at length to have weaned him from all interest in the more subtle workings of the intellect.

But there is something stronger than the resolves of the most resolute man, and that is innate disposition, or natural bent, which, try to rid himself of it as he may, tamen usque recurret. De Rémusat flattered himself that, in strenuously devoting his faculties to political journalism, in writing leading articles on the current topics of the hour, in examining Parliamentary Bills, and in composing Legislative Reports, he had stifled in himself the original taint of an evil passion for literature. That accidental visit to the Ambigu-Comique, the representation of that inferior and distorted play, stirred in him afresh his native passion. He could not get rid of the figure of that strange personage, at once exalted philosopher and frensied lover, belonging unquestionably to history, yet made, it would seem, expressly for the purposes of romance. On the very morrow of that eventful evening, he might have been seen in the library of the Chamber of Deputies, asking for the volume that contained the correspondence of Abelard and Eloisa. The chamber was not sitting, for it was vacation time; and he carried the book with him to Lafitte, in the Haute Garonne, where he had recently established his household gods. He perused it without121 delay or intermission; for the man who, taking up the correspondence of the separated lovers of the Paraclete, could lay it down unfinished, may rest assured that he has little genuine interest in the more romantic workings of human nature. But on the 6th of September the Ministry of Casimir-Périer was overthrown, and Count Molé was summoned to form a Cabinet. His Minister of the Interior was M. Gasparin, and De Rémusat was appointed Under-Secretary of State for the same department. Had the career of the new Ministry been a protracted one, it is possible that time would have divorced his attention from Abelard and mediæval philosophy. But in less than a twelvemonth Molé’s Cabinet was overthrown, and the liberated Under-Secretary buried himself once more in the passions and dialectics of the twelfth century. He spent much of the winter of 1837 in studying the period in which the Gallic Socrates—Gallorum Socrates, it was the pleasure of Abelard’s followers to designate him—had lived, triumphed, and suffered; and in the course of the summer of the following year a “Philosophical Drama” on the subject was completed. For nearly forty years it lay in manuscript in the author’s drawer, though he occasionally permitted himself the indulgence of reading portions of it in the intellectual salons of Paris which he frequented. Its success in those select but critical circles was considerable; and it was probably the encouragement thus extended to him that led to his writing Abélard, sa Vie, sa Philosophie, et sa Theologie, the best account extant of the great Conceptualist, his metaphysics, and his fate.

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


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

These scruples, at least in the case of De Rémusat, seem excessive. The French bourgeoisie have never had that rooted antipathy to men of genius which is characteristic of the middle class in England; and it certainly would not have taken the better part of fifty years to convince them that the author of Vivian Grey had in him the stuff of a practical and hard-headed statesman. Moreover, a philosophical drama, by the very sobriety of its title, protects its author against the charge of excessive literary levity. Finally, the political career of the author of Abélard, though not devoid of distinction, was hardly of that commanding sort which might console some men, at its close, for the sacrifice of more congenial tastes and more enduring fame. He became Minister of the Interior, for a brief period, in Thiers’ Cabinet of 1840, and after the Revolution of 1848 he remained a member of the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies. But the Coup d’état practically put an end to his political prospects. It is true he reappeared, for a short interval, as the fides Achates of Thiers during that statesman’s brief tenure of power after the Franco-German War. But he was too advanced in years, and too completely overshadowed by his conspicuous friend, who concentrated all business and all distinction in his own person, to add anything to his former reputation as a politician. His son observes that, in withholding the publication of his drama upon Abélard, he perhaps remembered one of the most touching observa123tions of his hero, “Dieu punit en moi la présomption des lettrés.” I read the moral of De Rémusat’s life differently. The penalty attached to the presumption of men-of-letters he undoubtedly escaped. It was the politician whom Heaven punished, for presuming to think that a man can arrange and map out his career irrespectively of the gifts with which it has endowed him, or that it is permissible, in deference to the prejudices of the vulgar, to protect one’s brow against the imperishable bays of the poet, lest they should be denied the tinsel and quickly-fading wreaths of the popular politician. He lived, we will trust, to estimate the relative value of things more wisely, though he might have learnt, while studying the fate of Abélard, that notoriety, which is the nearest approach to fame to be secured by a politician, is “fantastic, fickle, fierce, and vain.” But if he learned the lesson, he learned it in long years of exclusion from worthless power. He returned to his books when universal suffrage, allied with despotism, brought forth that atrocious bastard, Imperial Democracy; and he found in pursuits, his native passion for which he had once been half ashamed to own, something more than compensation for the loss of personal rivalries and sterile debates.

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

Changeant de but et de travail, je m’occupai alors de mieux connaître l’Abélard de la réalité, d’apprendre sa vie, de pénétrer ses écrits, d’approfondir ses doctrines; et voilà comme s’est fait le livre que je soumets en ce moment au jugement du public. Destiné à servir d’accompagnement et presque de compensation à une tentative hasardeuse, il paraît seul aujour d’hui. Des illusions téméraires sont à demi dissipées; une sage voix que je voudrais124 écouter toujours, me conseille de renoncer aux fictions passionnées et de dire tristement adieu à la muse qui les inspire.

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

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

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

Shortly after quitting Nantes by the post-road that conducts to Poitiers, the traveller passes, before reaching Clisson, a village consisting of one long street, which, if he thinks it worth while to inquire, he will be told is called Le Pallet. No one, however, will concern himself to add that behind the unpretending but venerable church which stands on a slight elevation to the left, above the last cottages in the place, are to be seen some all but submerged walls, and here and there the choked vestiges of an ancient moat. These are all that remain of the castle of Le Pallet, which was levelled with the ground more than four centuries125 and a half ago, in the course of the wars that succeeded the attack directed by Marguerite de Clisson against John V., Duke of Brittany. Hard by is an insignificant stream, known as the Sanguèze, and which evidently owes its name, like the Italian Sanguinetto that flows into the Lake of Thrasymene, to the blood of battle that is recorded to have once dyed its waters.

In 1079, the Castle of Le Pallet stood intact on its little eminence; and in that year, though on what day of the calendar cannot be said, the famous dialectician, Pierre Abélard, was born within its walls. His father, its lord, was called Bérenger; his mother’s name was Lucie. This much may be asserted, with every probability that it is true; but these bare facts are about all that tradition has preserved, or literary industry unearthed. Bérenger, though inured, like everyone in his position in those warlike times, to the exercise of arms, manifested a predilection for letters rarely encountered in his class, and is said to have intentionally inspired his sons with a love for philosophical studies, not easily reconciled with the performance of knightly duties. There were, at least, three other sons of the marriage, Raoul, Porcaire, and Dagobert, and a daughter, Dényse; and if we may trust the testimony of the first of the Letters which compose the famous correspondence of Eloisa and Abelard, into all Bérenger’s sons alike was inculcated the notion that distinction in knowledge is a worthier object of ambition than the trophies of war. Pierre manifested a much readier disposition than his brothers to accept the paternal estimate of the relative value of courage and culture; and though he was the eldest-born, he waived his rights of inheritance in order more freely to pursue the path indicated by his parent. The story is a strange, not to say an incredible one, for times when the sword was the only true badge of honor; and we are driven to conclude either that Abelard sought to remove from himself the stigma which he would have incurred by such a choice, had he not surrounded it with the halo of filial duty, or that his biographers were determined that dramatic completeness should attend his character from the very outset of his career. His own words are126 that he deliberately abandoned the court of Mars in order to shelter himself in the lap of Minerva. Probably the only conclusion that can safely be drawn from all the statements respecting his selection is, that he developed at an early age extraordinary talents for the acquisition of learning and the conduct of philosophical discussion, and that he was freely permitted to indulge his bent by parents who had no interest in thwarting him.

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

But what was that which Abelard wished to learn and that Roscelin, or any teacher, or, as we should say, Professor of the period, had to communicate? And how was the knowledge, which some sought to impart and many to acquire, conserved? Universities had not yet been called into being; and no great centres of recognized learning drew to themselves the youth or crystallized the opinions of an entire nation. In their stead, and operating as yet as127 sole substitute, were Episcopal Schools, under the immediate protection and supervision of the Archbishop or Bishop of the diocese; and it depended almost as much on the ambition of a Prelate as upon the importance of his See, whether his School acquired a wide renown, or remained the obscure head-quarters of local instruction. Deriving his faculties from the Bishop, there presided over each Episcopal School a clerical lecturer, or “scholastic”; and all those who attended his classes, or course, were termed his scholars. The success of his teaching and the number of his followers necessarily shed lustre on his episcopal superior and upon the province in which the latter resided; and the emulation which burned among the more intelligent and aspiring members of the Episcopate, in their endeavors to secure for their respective schools Masters of erudition and eloquence, was almost an exact anticipation of the spirit of honorable rivalry that subsists among the Governing Bodies of modern German Universities. Those who favor the doctrine that there is nothing new under the sun, will perhaps be disposed to look backward rather than forward for a parallel to the influence of the Scholastics of the Middle Ages. Hippias, Prodikos, Gorgias, and other less famous men, whose names have been preserved to us by Plato, passed from city to city in ancient Greece, teaching and disputing. Some, we are told, amassed considerable fortunes; while one and all gathered about them the restless brains of their generation, who carried through the land the fame of their doctrines and the brilliance of their rhetoric.

De Rémusat’s drama opens in the cloister of Nôtre-Dame, where a number of scholars are assembled to hear a lecture by Guillaume de Champeaux. The master has not yet arrived; and the first scene is passed in what the undergraduates of the nineteenth century call chaff. Finally, the great lecturer makes his appearance; the scholars crowd around him, and he proceeds to expound his thesis of the reality of Universals, or the substantiality of abstract ideas. In a word, he is the champion of Realism as opposed to Nominalism, and maintains, for example, that Man exists as really and es128sentially as any individual man, and that Humanity is not a mere name or intellectual abstraction, but just as much an entity as a building composed of so many stones. At the end of his discourse he says, “Are you all satisfied, or is anyone present harassed by doubt? If so, let him speak, and I will answer him.”

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

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

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

His words are received with acclamation; and the overthrow of Anselme de129 Laon, in spite of his friendship with Saint Bernard, is as complete as the dethronement of Guillaume de Champeaux. In an incredibly short space of time, Abelard has seen the fulfilment of his most ambitious dreams, and he finds himself surrounded by a band of scholars who regard him as the oracle of his age. Yet in the midst of these astounding triumphs, he experiences “a mixture of impatience and weakness, of ardor and weariness,” and thus soliloquizes:—

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

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

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

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

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

He arrives, and the lesson begins. She is all attention. But Abelard wanders from the theme. He would fain, he says, tear himself from the crowd, and study with her.130 “We would read, we would work together—or rather, for what avails this study that consumes the soul—we would enjoy tranquillity, long walks, a bright sun, a beautiful country, a boat upon the river, or the fire-side, even as we are now. Should we not be happy?” Her answers do not satisfy him, for they are modest and measured. “You do not understand me,” he exclaims, with impatience, and she begs to be forgiven for being so inapt a scholar. No, it is not that. They resume the lesson, but this time it is the Heroides of Ovid that lie before them. Together they read Hero to Leander, and Leander to Hero, those two exquisite Love Letters, which will always make Ovid a contemporary. “Galeotto fu il libro e chi lo scrisse,” says Dante, in that unmatched description of the Tempo de’ dolci sospiri, and Di dubbiosi desiri; and what happened to Francesca dà Polenta and Paolo Malatesta when reading

Di Lancilotto, come amor lo strinse,

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

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

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

C’est l’histoire singulière
A se raconter le soir,
Du maître et l’ecolière,
De l’amour et du savoir.
Fillettes, fillettes,
Trop lire est mauvais.
Cueillez des violettes
Au prè Saint-Gervais.

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

Tenez, voilà votre fiancé.
Heloise (se jetant sur son amant).
Mon mari!
Son mari! Je suis perdu.

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

Viens, allons-nous-en, quittons le siècle, fuyons ce pays, la France, le monde chrétien. Chez les infidèles nous trouverons plus de132 repos, nous serons plus ignorés, nous vivrons plus heureux. Cherchons la retraite la plus profonde, la plus lointaine, la plus perdue; cachons à tous notre vie et notre bonheur.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fifth Act, entitled “La Mort,” is passed in the Convent of Cluny, where Abelard is a sort of ecclesiastical prisoner under the supervision of Saint Bernard. His one sole desire is to make a pilgrimage to Rome, to explain his doctrines to the Pope, and to get the ban of heresy removed from his teaching. But he is broken in health, and troubled in brain. His mind wanders. In sleep he murmurs the name of Eloisa. His sole consolation is the faithful attachment of a former133 pupil, who brings him ever and anon news of her who is living and praying at Paracleta. At last he expires; and the drama closes with the tolling of the convent bell.

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

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

It is to no man-of-letters, recent or134 remote, neither to Bussy-Rabutin nor to Colardeau, neither to Pope nor to De Rémusat, but to the famous Correspondence of the pathetic pair, that we must turn if we are to understand either their character or their story. The first letter is written by Abelard, not to Eloisa, but to “a Friend,” and relates the leading incidents of his life. Nowhere, it has often been remarked, does a man so thoroughly, because so unconsciously, betray the secret of his disposition as in his letters. Raconter mon histoire is, to this day, a favorite occupation with Frenchmen; and Abelard is garrulous about his own merits, his own grief, his own successes. He speaks contemptuously of William of Champeaux, and with just as little respect of Anselm of Laon. It was, however, customary in the Middle Ages for controversialists to treat each other with scant courtesy; the flattering consideration which people who sneer at each other in private nowadays exhibit towards each other in public not having yet come into fashion. It is when Abelard narrates how he made the acquaintance of Eloisa that we get the full measure of his fundamentally coarse and selfish nature. Fancy a man writing of a woman who had loved him, and loved him as Eloisa loved Abelard, that she was per faciem non infima, or, as we should say in English, “not bad-looking”! Fancy his being able to remember, let alone to describe without intolerable shame, that, having heard of her accomplishments, he deliberately planned to win her affections, adding that he felt sure this would be easy, because “tanti quippe tunc nominis eram, et juventutis et formæ gratia præeminebam, ut quamcunque feminarum nostro dignarer amore nullam vererer repulsam,” that he was so celebrated, so young, and so good-looking, that he had no fear of being repulsed by any woman whom he honored with his love! The repugnance inspired by such language would be great, even if he had afterwards appreciated the prize he had begun by coveting so basely. It is not easy to forgive Saint Augustine for his conduct towards the mother of Deodatus. But he, at least, describes the passions of his youth with sincere humility and profound remorse; whilst Abelard recalls without a pang135 the colloquies and correspondence he planned in order to influence Eloisa. In the same spirit he narrates the tender, passionate passages that ensued. He is equally ignoble when Fulbert discovers their attachment. He excuses himself by reminding her uncle “quanta ruina summos quoque viros ab ipso statim humani generis exordio mulieres dejecerint,” how many of the greatest men, from the beginning of time, have been ruined by the seductions of women. By way of compensation, he tells us that he offered to marry Eloisa on condition that their union should be kept secret, ne famæ detrimentum caperem, lest, forsooth, his fame should suffer detriment. If, instead of hiring a couple of bravos Fulbert had taken him by the heels and flung him into the Seine, one’s sense of justice would have been better satisfied.

Turn we a moment from the composed reminiscences of this circumspect dialectician, to the woman per faciem non infima, whose heart he had broken and whose life he had ruined. In obedience to his wish she had taken the veil, and writes to him from the Convent of the Paraclete, made over to her by him, and of which she was now the Lady Abbess. She has read his letter “To a friend,” of which she says, with unconscious irony, that though it was composed to soothe that friend’s sorrows, it is full of the sorrows of the writer himself. She finds this the most natural thing in the world; and all she asks is that to her, too, he will write, and that he will instruct her, who gave herself entirely to him, how to direct those who have given themselves entirely to God. She reminds him, not reproachfully, but in order to convince him that she has need of him still, that at a word from him she had completed her own ruin, and that, though he was the only object of her love, she had promptly taken the veil at his bidding, “ut te tam corporis mei quam animi unicum possessorum ostenderem,” in order to show that she belonged to him, and to him alone, body, heart, and soul. “God is my witness,” she goes on, “that in loving you I loved yourself only, not anything you could give or bring me.” Then, going to the utmost limit and horizon of feminine love and self-sacrifice, she adds:136 “Et si uxoris nomen sanctius ac validus videtur, dulcius mihi semper extitit amicæ vocabulum; aut, si non indigneris, concubinæ vel scorti; ut, quo me videlicet pro te amplius humiliarem, ampliorem apud te consequerer gratiam, et sic etiam excellentiæ tuæ gloriam minus læderem.” How completely Pope has falsified this sentiment in his famous paraphrase! His Epistle of Eloisa to Abelard is, no doubt, an admirable composition; but it is unfair to Eloisa, since its main note is passion, not self-sacrifice, and self-sacrifice was the beginning, middle, and end of her love for Abelard. Once only she reproaches him. He had made her take the religious habit before assuming it himself. Why? Did he doubt her? She is overwhelmed with grief at the thought; for does he not know that she would have gladly either preceded or followed him into the jaws of hell? Nay, she must perforce have done so, for her heart was not hers, but his. Why, then, does he not write and console her? Was it concupiscence, rather than affection, that made them one? For her part, she has no difficulty in answering the question. “Dum tecum carnali fruerer voluptate, utrum id amore vel libidine agerem incertum pluribus habebatur.” Can they, she asks, be in any doubt now? “Nunc enim finis indicat quo id inchoaverrim principio.” The end surely shows by what motive she was impelled at the beginning. Everything she has given up—himself, the world, pleasure, and freedom; reserving to herself nothing but the luxury of still executing his will. Of a truth, it was so; and reading this extraordinary correspondence, anyone who is curious on the subject may discover for himself the eternal distinction between

Short-memoried lust and long-remembering love.

With an utter unconsciousness of his own baseness, Abelard recalls the arguments employed by Eloisa to dissuade him from the marriage insisted on by him solely from dread of the anger of Fulbert and the reproaches of the world. She invoked, he tells us, the name of every writer, Pagan and Christian, in whose pages are portrayed the drawbacks and disadvantages domestic life presents to a man of genius and ambition. Cicero, Theophrastus, St. Paul,137 St. Jerome, all are pressed into the service to prove that a man cannot attend both to a wife and to philosophy. “Where is he,” she asks, “that, wishing to dedicate himself to meditations upon the Scriptures or upon philosophy, can put up with the cries of the nursery, the songs of the nurse that lulls a babe to sleep, the perpetual coming and going of domestics?” Rich men can sometimes avoid these interruptions and inconveniences; but philosophers are never rich, and she cites Seneca to convince him that she would be a chain round his neck, a tether to his feet. The title of lover would be more honorable and more safe for him; and as for her, she cares not what she is called, so long as he loves her. Her sole ambition is to retain his affection by tenderness, and not by worldly ties. Finding him unconvinced—for Abelard well knew that such arguments would have no weight with Fulbert—she declared, with sobs and tears, that it was the one step to be taken if they wanted to destroy their happiness and to prepare for themselves a sorrow as profound and lasting as their love. After recalling this outburst of tender desperation, he observes, with the fine tranquillity of a truly critical spirit, that Eloisa thereby demonstrated, as the whole world has since acknowledged, that she was endowed with the gift of prophecy!

In order to understand and appreciate what some persons will perhaps consider the perverse and even unfeminine expostulations of Eloisa, it must be remembered that, in the twelfth century, marriage was supposed to disqualify a man for a career of distinction. The celibacy of the clergy, for which Hildebrand had battled so unremittingly, was now definitively established, and all who aspired to employment in or about the precincts of the Church had to sanction, by their practice, the slur thus passed upon women. When Abelard first met Eloisa he was not an ecclesiastic. But he was saturated with ecclesiastic ideas; and if he was to pursue his study and exposition of Theology, he could do so only under episcopal protection, which would never have entrusted the defence of spiritual truths to one who had openly contracted a carnal union. It is easy to perceive what immense value Abelard attached to the138 recognition of his powers, and to the establishment of his fame; nor is there any difficulty in surmising that he often expatiated to Eloisa on a theme so interesting to them both. It has been said—

Man dreams of fame, but woman wakes to love.

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

Yet, in some sort, Abelard expiated his faults. I fail to see in him the passionate champion of free thought, which De Rémusat and others sometimes appear disposed to represent him, or it would be more easy to extend to him the indulgence which, for that reason, has to be yielded to a tortuous egotist like Voltaire, or to a cold-hearted sentimentalist like Rousseau. As far as I can see, he entertained certain metaphysical opinions, which, whether sound or otherwise, are not of the smallest practical importance, and upon which the dignity and happiness of mankind in no degree turn. Accused of heresy, he was condemned; and the condemnation was peculiarly wounding to his vanity. But he made his peace with the Church, and in one of the latest of his letters to Eloisa is particularly anxious to convince her that he has done so. No doubt it was not easy to battle with the strongly-organized Theology of the times; but if anyone should ask what Abelard was to do when accused of heresy, the answer might be that of the mother of Horatius, who, when asked,139 “Que voulez vous qu’il fasse contre trois?” replied: “Qu’il mourût!” Eloisa had died a thousand times over for his sake. Could he not die once for his precious Universals and his tenets on the Trinity, if he really thought them true, and so very important!

No; the only hold he has upon our indulgence is that time and suffering at length awakened in his heart a tardy tenderness for Eloisa, and inspired him with something like an appreciation of her unrivalled goodness. He handed over to her his refuge of the Paraclete; and when she wrote to him for comfort, for counsel, for spiritual explanations, he did not withhold them. He could not be so blind, or so unmindful of the past, as not to read between the lines, and not to perceive that under the exposition of the difficulties she was experiencing in directing the community of which she had become the head, there still palpitated the recollection of the earliest instruction she had received at his hands. Then he expounded Ovid. Now he comments on the Scriptures. But the master was the same, and the same the pupil; and over and over again the Abbess of the Paraclete recalls the niece of Fulbert. We feel that she almost140 invents doubts, that she multiplies scruples, and that she entangles herself in perplexities, in order that he may solve them. In a word, she is as unchangeably in love with him as ever. He is measured and circumspect in his replies; but a certain vein of spiritual tenderness underlies them, and we feel that his nature has grown nobler, and his heart is, at last, less pre-occupied with self. Perhaps he had discerned now, when it was too late, the value of a woman’s love, and the worthlessness of worldly notoriety. Before he died, he begged that his body might be carried to the Paraclete. Thither, accordingly, it was secretly transported and lovingly interred by her who, as the Chronicle of Tours says, “était veritablement son amie.”

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



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

If Mr. Goschen will allow us to say so, “after all” it is no bad thing that the Federation League should have been formed, although it may produce just now more “fads” than federation. The formation of the Society shows that men’s minds are alive to the value of the colonies. It is to be hoped that there will be less said of drawing “the bonds between us and our children closer,” and more of confirming their position where satisfactory, and of securing their commercial aims. The position of a listening and helpful friend should be ours, rather than that of a dictatorial parent. Where colonists have spoken of federation, they have often meant reciprocity in trade. Where Englishmen have spoken of it, they have often meant only colonial contribution to common defence. Our long-established trade has taught us that defence means defence of trade-interests, wherever they lead. Our sons’ minds have been more set on creating industries at home, and they have hardly begun to think of wars which come from opening new markets. Although the different lines of thought lead to the same conclusion, namely,142 organised union for common interests, we may be somewhat premature in laying down plans for Imperial co-operation. They who have as yet spoken of these plans are, for the most part, British politicians. It is, however, significant that the Prime Minister of Canada was present at a meeting of the “Imperial Federation League,” and gave a general promise of Canadian aid in any “wars of defence.” It remains to be seen how far Canada would be willing to impose a permanent charge on her Treasury for other than home defence. As yet she has had too much to do in developing public works to attain to more than the maintenance, in a poorly organised and badly officered condition, of a force of about 20,000, out of a nominal roll of 40,000 militia, whose fine physique and great individual intelligence make them worth a great deal more than their small numbers imply. She has shown that she looks to England to do armed marine duty for her, and she is not desirous to garrison her one important fortress near her Atlantic coaling stations—namely, Halifax. But she is showing her knowledge of her inadequate military condition, and is training officers and is voting larger sums for the annual drilling of the militia. Her population, expanding over vast surfaces, is being strengthened both for civil and military cohesion by a thorough railway system; but she will need all the consciousness her best men have, that defence means preparation and organisation, if she wishes to inspire respect for her ever-increasing and ever more vulnerable possessions. One of her statesmen, formerly her High Commissioner to England, has suggested that a tonnage duty, levied on all ships sailing under the British flag, be devoted to fortification of coaling stations. It is to be feared that the shipowning provinces of the Dominion would object to this excellent proposal, although it might meet with the approval of those who are less directly interested in marine property, and would be an indirect tax which might commend itself to inland provinces and to some of the Australian colonies.

If Canada, then, has but recently shown striking aptitude to realise the conditions necessary for adequate de143fence, how does it stand with Australia and the Cape? The Cape Government’s past attitude may be described in few words: “Be always taking what you can, and seeking how you can get more; our contribution towards necessary expenses being one corps of Rangers.” With Australia it is different. She has shown a natural desire to prevent her neighborhood from being garrisoned by convicts or the forces of warlike States, and she has been quite ready to pay handsomely for any English assistance she requires. Some of her colonies have exhibited a most spirited desire to share the expenses of maritime as well as land defence, and have even offered their vessels for offensive operations. The excitement attending the outbreak of war, with the sympathy for the mother-country, may be depended on to produce offers of assistance whenever England needs them. It is the permanent contribution for a common policy in the piping times of peace which presents more difficulty. Her division into several colonies, often showing a good deal of jealousy of one another, has prevented any combined scheme of national defence; but she, like Canada, may be relied upon to slowly improve her opportunities. The spirit is willing, but the stress is weak. She has not known the pinch of danger. Until a Customs Union exists throughout her continent, and railways bind her together, she will not be able to do justice to the patriotism so conspicuous among her people, or take the place due to herself in the Imperial union of States.

There is always a minority among all English-speaking peoples who deem military expenditure so much waste, a mere thing of vanity, of fuss and feathers. There is in the colonies a certain minority who, as with us, deem patriotism to mean anxiety for the welfare of those only who may for the time have identical ideas as to trade, or who may reside within easy distance of certain centres, geographical or manufacturing. Their ideas are not to be left out of account, for they embody one of the most powerful of human sentiments—namely, the imagination (for it is not the reality) of immediate interest. It is important to show such parties that anything proposed to be done is devised not only for144 Australian, or Canadian, or British purposes, but for mutual and general good. We adopt free trade because we think it suits us. The colonies have no direct taxes, and have a high revenue tariff because they think such arrangements suit them. It does not follow that we need not care for them because they are not free traders. In giving us more favored treatment than they give to foreigners, and in taking far more of our goods than they take of foreign goods, they yield to us more than we yield to them, for we treat them and foreigners equally. Our gain from their affections and trade connection far outweighs the cost of the navy we keep to protect the ships which carry the commerce. But in asking them to look to their own defence we exercise a legitimate moral influence, which is not for British interests only, but for theirs also. We must not ask too much or more than their legislatures will freely sanction. There has been no sign as yet that Colonial Parliaments desire to shirk the legitimate expenses of common defence. They have much to do with their money, but will listen to any reasonable representation for the general weal. It is probable that maritime war, except as regards shore-torpedoes, can be best and most cheaply undertaken by the British Navy, while it may be reasonable to ask the colony requiring the service of the ships for any special duty affecting their coasts to contribute to the expense of maintenance during the time they are so engaged. War is becoming a common danger for all parts of the empire. It is so in a greater degree, the more the colonies develop, and possess, or are connected with, great areas around the original settlements. Any hostile force would in the Pacific attack at once the Australasian cities and the valuable coaling stations of Vancouver, thus injuring at once Australia and Canada. It is the same in case of war with Russia. These colonies have, therefore, a right to have their wishes consulted, to be informed of all that is passing that may lead to war, and in case of the non-observance of that consideration which should be shown by the Imperial Executive, would acquire a right to refuse supplies and declare neutrality. The only way to reduce the danger of temptation to such145 action is to admit them in some form into Imperial Councils. It should not be possible that a Secretary of State can settle payment to America for alleged outrages by New England fishermen, without consulting Canada and Newfoundland, and then expect these colonies to pay the damage assessed without their knowledge. It should not be possible for Downing Street to negotiate with France about the abrogation of her fishing rights in Newfoundland, without informing Canada of what is contemplated. It should not be possible for British Ministers to propose that France be given islands in the Pacific in lieu of rights in Newfoundland, without consulting Australia. If we take powers of attorney, it should be by express commission.

In commercial matters we have ceased to assume the power of attorney. It is a mark of the great change which has been wrought by the growth of our so-called dependencies that Lord Grey, who twenty years ago specially claimed for the mother-country the right of directing the fiscal policy of the colonies, should be the first to propose the immediate adoption of the suggestion, made at the Colonial Institute in 1884, to have a “council of envoys.” The Board of Advice he proposes is nothing else. It would be a Committee of Privy Council holding regular meetings, and able to advise, check, and direct the Secretary of State. It would advise the consummation of different commercial bargains made for the advantage of different parts of the Empire with foreign nations. Made under the auspices of England, these would always give to England the most favored nation treatment. But they would not be made on England’s basis of free trade, and hence the dislike of some among us to the proposal. The council or board would further agree how best to defend the interests created by such treaties. It cannot be too strongly stated that the making of such separate treaties is no new thing. Since the appointment by Canada of a High Commissioner to represent her in England, she has had the fullest latitude given to her to send her envoy to make separate bargains with Spain and France, the English ambassador acting as introducer and coadjutor146 in the negotiations undertaken by the Canadian. This was a great and new departure at the time, but it marked a recognition by England of actual facts, which will grow clearer and clearer to the eyes of all men every year. The situation of our Empire is an entirely new one. Nothing like it has ever existed since the world began. There is no precedent for it. Our union with our sons must be strengthened, not by tying them to our commercial programme, but by helping them to realise that which they desire to adopt. The partners in the Imperial firm must pursue each his own line to benefit himself, and so raise the reputation of the partnership as being composed of men of wealth and enterprise. In affairs affecting the standing and credit of the whole number, or of several, they may meet the senior in consultation, and, as each represents important property, a new policy is not likely to be adopted lightly, nor will any project calculated to enhance profits lack good backing. The statesmen in Canada, who have been in office since this new departure has been fully inaugurated, are perfectly satisfied with the position of their country in this most important of all matters. The leader of the Opposition, before he knew of this freedom given to the Canadian envoy, spoke of his countrymen as “the subjects of subjects,” for that was indeed the position in which the old British policy placed them, and it was one which could not survive an increase in their own power. “We want,” said Sir John MacDonald last month at Montreal—“we want no independence in this country, except the independence that we have at this moment. What country in the world is more independent than we are? We have perfect independence; we have a Sovereign who allows us to do as we please. We have an Imperial Government that casts on ourselves the responsibilities as well as the privileges of self-government. We may govern ourselves as we please; we may misgovern ourselves as we please. We put a tax on the industries of our fellow subjects in England, Ireland, and Scotland. If we are attacked, if our shores are assailed, the mighty powers of England on land and sea are used in our defence.” And under this so-called “protection” gov147ernment the tariff against English goods is one-half less than that imposed against us by the Americans; and the merchandise bought from us is immense in quantity, Australia taking even more proportionately than does Canada. Australia, probably owing to the want of a common tariff, has not as yet shown a wish to have her representatives put on the same footing as that secured, by Canada’s desire, to her envoy. The Sydney Convention, indeed, rather gave the Agents General to understand that they were not sent in any way as quasi-ambassadors. This alone shows the unreadiness to undertake common action and to push common interests, for there is no strong central government having any definite will and policy which it is necessary to have explained and illustrated and pushed by personal conference and contact with the Home authority in Downing Street. I fear that the Cobden Club have more tribulation in store, for it is highly probable that all Australia will have a common high revenue tariff. Then will come, as has already come in British North America, the desire to push a national commercial policy in alliance with England.

The work, then, of any friends of Imperial Union should be first to ascertain the desires of the colonists. If any special scheme be thought good here, it should be submitted to the colonial governments by the Association before it is pressed on the public for acceptance. We can form, as it has been suggested, a vigilance committee in Parliament at home to take cognisance of anything affecting the colonies, and this we can do without consulting anybody but the men who may desire to serve. But it is difficult to believe that any Australian or other administration can have been consulted and can have given a favorable reply to such proposals as the following, namely:—1. The proportional representation in one unwieldy Parliament of the colonies. The House of Commons has too much to do now, and hardly attends to Indian affairs. It is not to be imagined that colonial M.P.’s would like to be constantly out-voted by a British majority, nor is it conceivable that, when the colonial population is larger than ours, England would submit to be out-voted by the colonies. Mere difficulties148 of personal attendance would make the scheme hard of execution, and its unpopularity makes it impossible.

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

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

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

Other suggestions might be mentioned which all partake too much of the fault of looking at Federation as a means of making more powerful the British vote in a general union, and in not being endorsed by colonial voices. We should make vocal their desires rather than press upon them our own. The idea of a Board of Advice, composed of their representatives, has the merit of giving them opportunity of speech and of knowledge. It would not “draw closer the bonds” so much as prevent any strain on those which exist. Do not let us do anything “behind the backs” of those whom our action in their behalf may touch, however indirect149ly. Let no Minister in a colonial Parliament be able to say, “We are threatened with this or that in consequence of Imperial action; but it was not until the danger had been incurred that we knew there was any likelihood that it would arise.” We need have no misgiving that the colonies would be unreasonable in their fears, or averse to incur the danger if fully informed, any more than we apprehend from an English House of Commons repudiation of the responsibility of the Executive charged with the responsibility of war or peace. But the danger of repudiation becomes less, the more those affected by the determination are taken into confidence. The revival in some form of a Committee of the Privy Council, to advise “on trade and the plantations,” would be the most certain method of giving for the present knowledge and voice to the combined colonial representatives. If the colonial Governments do not care for this, the “question falls” for the time, and we may patiently await the demand, taking care in the meantime to fully inform each individual representative of our rising “auxiliary kingdoms” of what is passing, and granting them free access to all persons and papers they desire to see, if these may be shown to Parliament. It has been objected that delay would be caused by any council. If the council be small, this is not likely, because telegraphic communication makes Australia as near to the Colonial Office as is Victoria Street. The time, if there be any delay, may be well spent in avoiding future misunderstanding. There is hardly any conjuncture where a Secretary of State must act with lightning rapidity in colonial affairs; but, if the necessity arose, the British Government must, as they do now, take the responsibility. It is also said against the plan that in most cases the members of the council whose countries are not affected by the business would only sit twirling their thumbs. This objection applies to all boards, councils, and Parliaments, and is an argument for autocracy. It is also alleged that the Indian Council Board is an analogy, and has been proved a nuisance. But the Indian councillors represent only their own opinions, and these often formed on past experience, where150as the men on the Privy Council Board of Advice would represent those whose voices would be potent factors in deciding questions submitted, because they are the mouthpieces of living nations and of living policy. A minute drawn up by Australia, dissenting from a given policy, would not be looked at so lightly as is a minute by an Indian councillor who may object to an addition to a salt tax. We should therefore consult with the colonial cabinets, and ask them if they do not think that we can obtain, by regular and recognised conference with their envoys, more intimate knowledge of the desires of their people; further opportunity for them to bring their wishes directly to the notice of England and of brother colonists; a better chance for them to combine to further the views of one of their number, or to declare against any impracticable project; less danger that any imprudent course shall be entered on by any one colony without consultation with others and with Britain; a time of discussion for any schemes for joint defence—in short, less151 isolation, and consequently greater strength for any policy taken up with forethought. The Secretary of State would be supported in adopting any given line by knowing he had the Empire at his back, or, by finding himself alone, would know when to advise withdrawal. But it is a question whether the day for any such plan is yet come. It is only yesterday that Canada became a Pacific Power. It is only to-day that the Australians are being united by railroads, and they are still sundered in fiscal policy. The Cape has not yet become possessed of a people sufficiently powerful to make themselves felt. In any case let the colonies speak out, and we can wait, for “all’s well” at present with the loyal sentiments of our scattered brethren.

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



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

No eccentricity of fortune surprises me now, though it brings vastly more discomfort for the time than in earlier days; and my recollections grow weaker proportionately. However strange one’s quarters, however distressed or frightened one may be, an abiding consciousness dwells in the soul that one has seen and done and gone through the same experience already. The power of observation is not dulled, nor the sense of fun, still less that of alarm; but the circumstances do not seem worth remembering particularly. If one reflects more, one feels less. After his first visit to the Antipodes, so to speak, a boy has stories inexhaustible of anecdote, remark, and adventure; but from each succeeding journey he brings back shorter and drier reports, until a trip to the moon would seem hardly worth telling at length: after stating the facts, he has done. Last week I entertained a confrère just returned from El Teb and Tamasi; we have served together in divers parts, and the public, I understand, has been interested in our stories; but all through the evening not fifty words were exchanged touching on matters personal in his late153 vicissitudes. It seems less and less worth while to dwell upon impressions and to carry them away, the more impressions one gathers. This is not the common belief. We read of men in novels, who having been everywhere and done everything, are always ready with a tale of adventure that thrills the heroine. I will venture to say that such a personage has not been far into terra incognita, nor has served in many wars, unless, of course, he is a professional talker.

Thus it happens that a man’s earliest memories of travel are the strongest, though they be insignificant compared with others he might have collected on the same ground at a later date. I have a hundred cabinet pictures of Egypt as I knew it, an idle boy, but not one worth sketching from the late campaign. That was a very big business;—one recorded the facts, stored them for use, and forgot the incidents. It is only by an effort that I recall scenes therein quite otherwise impressive than that unforgotten experience of Esné by night, which struck me twenty-one years ago, and still remains fresh of color. At that time the banished sisterhood of Almeh, Ghawazee, dancing and singing women, still dwelt at the spot assigned them—or many did. We had seen a performance in going up, and had ordered something more special for our return. An old negress who kept what one may describe as the box office, in a vile mud hut, assured us with conviction that the best dancer and the loveliest woman in those parts would attend at nightfall. A respectable Arab addressed us returning to the dabeah, and asked permission to go with our party. In the evening he followed to a hut, somewhat larger but not less vile than the box office. The only lights were set on the mud floor, one by each of the musicians, who squatted there smoking hasheesh to nerve them for special exertions. In a line across the back, their faces hardly to be distinguished, sat the Ghawazee, arrayed in silks and muslins of the brightest hue, the coins that decked their heads twinkling and faintly jingling as they moved restlessly. The police-officer sat beside us, on one of our chairs, in snowy uniform and gold belt. Everybody smoked, including specially154 the candles, and the spiral cloud from every mouth had a curious effect so long as it was visible.

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

A series of earthquakes alarmed Nicaragua in January, 1866, and the municipality of the capital asked us to explore Mombacho, an ancient crater from which the disturbance was supposed to come. My companion and I rode out, with guides, and at nightfall reached Dirioma, an Indian village. A superb avenue of organo cactus leads to that secluded settlement; the trunks, ten feet high, looked like fluted pillars of marble in the pale glow of starlight. Dirioma155 is much the same now, probably, as the Conquistadores found it, a marvel of color, softness, and grace of form. Each dwelling, framed of bamboos and sticks, like a bird-cage, stands in its own compound; the road runs straight and broad and smooth in front; palms droop over the cactus hedge, black against the night sky as ostrich plumes, and behind them lies a dusky mass of foliage, gleaming red in the glow of the hearth. All day and all night the place is still, for Indian children, if they play, are silent.

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

Many odd quarters we knew on the West Coast, where men and circumstances have a character all their own. Quisa recurs to my mind just now;156 I could not tell why, for we saw places as strange under more exciting conditions. This is the first town, or was, within the Ashanti realm proper. It looked almost civilized to us, marching from the coast—for refinement is comparative—and decidedly picturesque. Quisa might be called a town, its ways streets, its dwellings cottages of unusual form. A row of fine shade-trees in the middle of the chief thoroughfare had earthen benches at their feet, where the elders sat for council and gossip. The king’s house stood at the intersection of the main streets. It had not the alcove or box in the outer wall, so conspicuous in the architecture of Coomassie, but the façade, of polished stucco, was broken by niches, and moulded arabesques, two inches in relief, covered it all over. What they represented or signified we could not make out with confidence, so thoroughly had the style been “conventionalized” by generations of artists; but in the original idea they were human figures probably, engaged in war and ceremonies of state. The wall was colored in Venetian red, with a pleasing gloss upon it, and it stretched twenty yards or so on either side the doorway. This was a Moorish arch, of wood, the same in type as those we are familiar with at Sydenham, and gaily painted. Inside and out all was clean and perfect.

Through this doorway a passage, smoothly coated with chunam, and tinted red, opened into the cour d’honneur. On the right hand, just inside the door, stood a fetich niche, very like an exaggerated font for holy water. It contained the usual medley of rubbish—bones and sticks and teeth and roots and tangles of string; a lot of eggshells also, pierced and tied together. Opposite to this niche was a hollow in the wall, two steps above the ground, just long enough and broad enough for a man to lie; the quarters, doubtless, of a slave who kept the door. What I have termed the cour d’honneur was a small quadrangle, unroofed, with alcoves much like boxes at a theatre on three of its sides. The middle one, that fronting the entrance, occupied the full breadth of the wall, saving a doorway that led through to the next court; the others were smaller. These boxes stood on a level, perhaps157 five feet above the floor of the yard. They had no way in from the back, but access was gained by steps from below, and the parapet, of mud and chunam, was cut away at that point. Wooden columns and arches, of Moorish design and color, marked the king’s box—that in the middle. They had hangings apparently, for pegs were there, and I found a silk “cloth” on the ground.

It was not difficult, with our experience, to refill this courtyard with the pride and pomp and circumstance of Quisa royalty. There sat the king on his earthen bench, wrapped in a spotless robe of cotton, home-spun, and home-dyed in graceful patterns. His sandals, with a golden sole and little, solid, golden figures for ornament, rested on a patchwork carpet of silk. His arms were bare, but loaded with bracelets; some of the costly Aggry bead, some a bristling string of nuggets unworked. Arab charms, wrapped in small leather cases, sewn with gold, encircled his wrists and elbows and knees, and they dangled from the arch above. On the floor at either hand crouched a page, one holding his pipe, silver-bound, one his drinking calabash, mounted in gold and carved. Behind these favorites squatted the bearer of the toddy jar, Dutch earthenware, set in silver, and the drinking calabash, carved and bound in gold; of the silver-mounted stool and gun, the silver spittoon, and knives with silver hafts in a belt of leopard-skin—in short, the retinue essential to his majesty’s comfort. Nearest of all stood the executioner, with his four-handled sword of office, looking like a toy-stool of gold with a clumsy blade thrust through the seat. The royal councillors sat upon the cross-benches, and the smaller alcoves were occupied by wives and slaves, handsome enough, many of them, their lips full but not thick, their noses straight, their skins brown with a shade of gold. A mass of ornaments, in bullion or filagree, decked the long wool of these ladies, combed to all manner of fantastic shapes: eccentricity has no bounds in dealing with that stiff and elastic material, which grows to a surprising length amongst Ashantis and Fantis. I have seen it drawn out, kinkles and all,158 eighteen inches from the skull, and thus remain stark on end, until the lady had time to get it arranged in, for instance, the exact similitude of a pine-apple, divided into lozenges, with a neat curl in the centre of each.

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

A natural halting-place, as one may say, at the end of the first march from Jellalabad is the castle of a great Ghilzai chief, whose name I forget. He had been an active enemy in the late war; but for reasons unknown the political department long refused to let us take possession of this building, which is called Rosarbad, though it was empty; nor would they even permit us to encamp in the fields and groves about it. Accordingly a very small post was established on a bleak hillside in the neighborhood, a spot so stony and barren that pegs would not hold in the soil. Two nights I passed there are scored in the blackest of chalk among my experiences of mere wretchedness; for a gale was always blowing and tents were always collapsing: if one’s own escaped, the yelling and roaring of other sufferers made life almost as miserable. As for the horses, they enjoyed a battle scarcely interrupted, and the squealing all night, with the shouting of furious troopers, banished sleep. A detachment which had three weeks’ duty at that outpost lost a quarter of its strength by invaliding, the re159sult of sheer fatigue. When I add that a night attack was always probable, and often threatened, the least fanciful of readers may conceive that existence at Boulé camp was not happy.

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

Envious fancy had done its utmost among those poor fellows camped at Boulé, in picturing the spot they were forbidden to approach. But it surpassed anticipation. I am not going to describe the scene, for I made no sketch, and some who will read this did, whilst every one who halted there keeps a recollection of Rosarbad. Nothing like it did we see in any part of Afghanistan. Though160 built of mud, its lofty walls, brand new, had almost the sharpness of granite, and they were thick enough to stand some pounding of solid shot. Frosts have tried them now, doubtless, rains have channeled them, the battlements are ruinous, and not one right angle remains; but it was mighty handsome in our day, looking like a feudal fortress, with a gate-tower almost majestic overlooking a grove of cypresses on the other side the moat: so dense was the foliage of this copse that daylight could not pierce it. A miscellaneous throng of bunniahs had converted its twilight arcades into a bazaar, hanging bright cottons from trunk to trunk, and establishing booths full of cheap glitter. Sowars and sepoys, in flowing, picturesque undress, strolled hand in hand through the chiaroscuro. Giant Pathans prowled up and down, all beard and eyes and dirt, gazing with rapt, vulture-like expression at the luxury displayed. Sometimes a yell arose, a sound of scuffling, a rush of frightened traders and of sepoys to the rescue; then from the struggling mass a prisoner was dragged, and perhaps a groaning comrade was borne to the gate.

Within the portcullis and the vaulted approach lay a garden, actually a garden, bordered on one side by the durbar hall, on another by a row of small latticed chambers. In the hall, which was raised several feet above the level, stood an enormous tub, into which a column of water fell by a shoot. It was forced to the upper story, and thence descended. Of all surprises that befell a visitor to Rosarbad, none equalled this. A soothing cataract, a shower-bath, and a fish-pond all in one make a convenience for the drawing-room hardly known in Europe. After the first enthusiasm, however, certain disadvantages betrayed themselves. The middle of the hall was a quagmire, and if in the zeal of admiration one approached too near, the mud held one fast while the shower wet one through. But this made part of the day’s fun. The officers of the little garrison cherished their odd quarters, and they applied their leisure to gardening, with such success that visitors were sometimes presented with a rose. I need scarcely say that the name of the castle has no connection with botany. The Pathan161 seems to be acquainted with five flowers only—jasmine, rose, chrysanthemum, iris, and narcissus. Painful to an enthusiast is the most successful of Oriental gardens. Though they bear a mass of flowers so that Peshawur, for instance, has an air laden with scents, the individual bloom is mean and the tree pitiful.

In contrast to the glories of Rosarbad, I recall a billet on the other side of Afghanistan. We had been snowed up in the Kojak pass—a miserable time, and when a thaw released us I pushed on with a comrade towards Quetta—a ride to try one’s good humor; for with the thaw came rain, which made that bare desert as slippery as ice—a peculiar condition dreaded under the name of ‘put.’ We got off the track somehow beyond Abdallah Karez, and very glad were we to find an empty village, where a Baboo go-master was posted to collect stores of forage and grain. He had three sepoys to protect him—a guard much less formidable than a score of Pathan dogs, left by their masters, I suppose, which fed upon the carcasses of camels lying all around. This Baboo was an ingenious man. The mud huts had been dismantled perhaps; anyhow, they were roofless and badly gapped. In the long frost our go-master had a bad time; the thermometer below zero at night, or always close upon it, and no better protection than a tent for his southern limbs. Moreover, there was some chance that the enemy might swoop down, or he thought so. Superstition loses its awful power in the extremity of wretchedness. The Baboo, who was forbidden to touch a dead insect or even to look at it, employed sepoys and muleteers, and anyone he could catch, in building a fortification of dead camels all round his store-house; and he lived therein, shuddering with remorse, but warm and secure. While the frost lasted it was mighty comfortable, but the thaw had reduced that Baboo to sore distress. His wall was decaying visibly under conditions which I need not suggest, and to enter the enclosure needed more heroism and more cotton wool than the average mortal is provided with. A camel’s is a heavy and unwieldy carcass when frozen hard: a regiment of scavengers could not have cleared away those scores of bodies when loosed by the thaw.162 The Government stores were protected after a fashion hitherto thought peculiar to Chinese warfare, by “stink-pot” torpedos in effect, and neither friend nor foe dared approach. I do not know the end of that story. If it is the traveller’s privilege to see queer incidents, it is too often his ill-luck to miss the explanation and the catastrophe.

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

But after the first impulse of delight, one almost comes to overlook this charming foreground; for beneath the water lies a tangle and a maze of all things lovely for shape and color and growth and motion. Coral takes a hundred flowery forms, weeds branch like trees or wave like serpents, sponges are cups of amethyst and ruby. When waves lie still, one sees just as clearly into the depths below as into the air above, and almost as far, as it seems. The vegetation is gigantic in its loveliness. There are coral growths shaped like an Egyptian lily and as white, but three feet in diameter, wherein a mermaid might take her bath. Others break into a thicket, each twig covered with snowy rosettes which bear a morsel of green velvet in their bosoms. Others are great round hillocks diapered with emerald, with here and there a bush of scarlet thorn springing from their sides. Through and over the garden, long silvery weeds tremble and quiver in a net. Small fish163 as quick as humming-birds, and almost as gay, dart to and fro. Water snakes float past in coils like Indian enamel of every shade, in red and brown and yellow and purple. I am grateful that fate allowed me three weeks of life at Changhi.

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

The dirtiest experience to which mankind may be subjected is a campaign; but when Russ meets Turk on Bulgarian fields you have a conjuncture of men and circumstances not to be realised elsewhere. The country was sodden at that time, the camps mid-leg deep in puddled clay. General Zortoff, who had the command, occupied a hut much like ours, a couple of hundred yards away; but we always mounted to pay a call,164 for the space round head-quarters was an actual bog. Officers waiting on the general sat perched upon fences round his yard, in a manner very drolly miserable. The staff had their office in a cowshed which had not been cleaned for years.

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

Pleasant was the teaching. Fog alone was visible from the top of the ladder when the house began to stir—a sea of mist from which arose, with no trunks perceptible, the crowns of fruit trees and feathered crests of palms. First the married men turned out, and then the bachelors appeared from their separate quarter; shivering under his bark blanket, each cut a plug of betel and chewed it. Then graceful girls came out with long shovel baskets, some leisurely and composed, others bustling; these had not winnowed the paddy over night, and certain of the youths knew why. After165 a while the housewife opened her door, and in that defiant voice which belongs to hard-working mothers everywhere, summoned her family to breakfast. When they reappeared the fog was lifting, the sky dappled like an opal. Cheered by the growing warmth men moved briskly, arranging their tools and arms and gear. The young women and maidens followed, a pleasing bevy, with loads strapped to their backs, and all the villagers descended to the lower earth.

Only the chief and his old councillors remained—sitting over their eternal fire, chewing their eternal betel—the grandames, and the sick. Towards sunset the laboring folk returned, and the males sat to chew and gossip, but the girls had still their hardest work to do. Presently all the house resounded with the thud of pestles, and the air was filled with husks from the pounded rice. A silence of interest and hunger followed whilst the meal was cooking, and then the pleasure of the day began. For the elders it was only talk, always the same, as far as I could gather, of bad times and good times, and the prospect of the year; seldom personal, and never gossiping, at the chief’s fire, where all heads of families assembled. No one paid attention to the youth or to the maidens, so soon as their household duties were complete. By this time darkness had quite fallen, and there was no light excepting the low fires. Shoulders glossy as brown silk were faintly luminous in the twilight, as we looked down the house; from time to time a fire shot out, revealing the seated group around, lively enough, but subdued. Shadows stalked from hearth to hearth, tinkling and sparkling in brazen finery, and vanished with the gloom;—then the whispered chatter of girls, the smothered merriment, became more loud, with expostulations and mirthful appeals for help. A very pleasant scene; but I loved also to awake at midnight, and observe that different picture. The councillors, taking no exercise, never turned in; all the night through they maundered, and dozed, and coughed, and chewed betel. Above them the teeth of the weazened “heads” glimmered through the smoke. A labyrinth of posts and beams was faintly outlined in their rear. Now and again a young form passed stealthily, for in the166 hours of darkness courtship is seriously pursued. Beneath the cave I caught a glimpse of azure sky, and palm fronds gleaming in the moonlight. Of all the odd quarters I have known this is still the dearest to memory.

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

Outside the church this personage turned to resume his place, singing all the time as loud as he could bawl. My groom coming up arrested certain demands of explanation, which began to take a serious form, but no help could be got from Jantje’s people. We annexed an empty hut and camped there supperless, wet through. My first experience of tompans was made that night.167 This curious insect dwells in deserted Kaffir buildings and nowhere else, I believe. He is armed after the best and newest suggestions of science for naval equipment—his vital parts and locomotive machinery protected by the cuirass, his artillery, of great weight and superior rifling, on the Moncrieff system, swift to attack and agile to retreat. You cannot crush him with any weapon less ponderous than a hammer; to ignore a beast as large and as flat as a threepenny bit is impossible, and moral influence seems to be quite ineffective. To sing hymns and cultivate tompans was the only visible employment of Jantje’s kraal. I cannot affect to regret that its inhabitants have been scattered to the winds. Wherever they have fled they have found an opportunity to study better manners.

But I was going to recall the odd quarters at Jacobsdaal which brought this adventure to a fitting close. We had no treaty of extradition with the Free State at that time—I do not know that we have one now. All sorts of criminals took refuge at Jacobsdaal, a tiny but prosperous settlement lying just across the frontier. During my absence a gust of indignation had swept over the Diamond Fields, and all the guilty, the suspected, and the alarmed had fled. The landlady of the best “Accommodation House” declared to me, almost with tears, that her dwelling, hitherto inveterate in virtue, was become a rendezvous of malefactors. She advised me to try the other shop for once, since even thieves would not go there by choice—naturally. I did so, and found the guests sitting down. In168 the place of honor was a canteen man, badly wanted by the New Rush police. I also recognized an acquaintance accused of cheating at cards in the “Pig and Whistle;” another who had been lately described to the magistrate as “tremendous delirious;” an American gentleman whom the police had vainly besought to render an account to his partners. One of these latter, in attendance on his fugitive associate, identified for me a man charged with murder, and two common thieves. The conversation was most polite. The chairman’s suasive tones in proposing a “leetle mutton” were as good as testimony to character. He had a trick of cocking the old smoking-cap upon his head before every observation, as if to point it with knowingness. The extreme propriety with which he guided the conversation so overawed the thieves that they were too hoarse to talk. My poor “tremendous” friend yielded to the same wholesome influence, and addressed everyone in the third person as “the honorable gentleman on my right,” or left, or opposite. As for the manslaughterer, he showed warm philanthropy, arguing with vehemence that black people have as good rights as white, and better in their own country. Circumstances made this topic embarrassing to the chairman. He cocked his smoking-cap from side to side, imploring everyone to take some more of everything. After supper he made a little speech, ending with a toast—“Home, lads, mothers and dads.” The company drank it with deep emotion.—Belgravia.



The ancient adage that “there is no new thing under the sun,” has been recently applied by a popular writer of fiction to the romantic stories of the day. But surely nowhere are the words of the Preacher more abundantly illustrated than in the realm of narrative poetry. With whom did “The Canterbury Tales,” “The Fairy Queen,”“The Idylls of the King,” originate? Certainly not with Chaucer, Spenser, or Tennyson. The hidden sources of those delightful rivers of song lie far away, so far that few care to trace them. The same, or nearly the same, story is handed down from one man to another, till at last some master-mind catches its true significance, tells it for once as it170 was never told before, and links his name with it through all the ages. Sometimes though more rarely, different capabilities of the same story will strike more than one master-mind, and then the comparisons are full of interest, and bring out into sharp relief the idiosyncrasies of each narrator. It has been so with portions of the “Iliad,” of the “Nibelungen Lied,” and of our own “Morte D’Arthur.” It is so still with the story of Sir Tristram de Lyonesse, who, of all King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, seems to have gone the farthest and fared the best. Rarely indeed has the homage of poets so far apart in time, and varying so widely in spirit and conception, been tendered so persistently to one object. Arthur may pass away in peace to the cool valley of Avilion, Launcelot to his grave in Joyous Guard, Galahad to the Blessed Vision which last he saw with mortal eyes in the city of Estorause; but Tristram is of the earth, earthy, and on the earth he abides. Twelve centuries have not quenched the ardor of his love for fair Iseult, nor traced one wrinkle on his brow.

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


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

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

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

To which Trystan Ossianically replies:

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

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

Our next glimpse of him is in the kingdom of the trouvères and troubadours, with whom he is a great favorite. The famous Mademoiselle Marie, in her translation, the “Lai Dee Chevrefoil,” written about the middle of the twelfth century, sings of a pretty episode in his love, which none of her successors have improved upon, and which most of them have omitted. There are allusions to him in Chrestien de Troyes, who wrote before the year 1191, and in the works of a poetical king of Navarre, about 1226. The date of the Auchinleck MS., “Sir Tristram,” which Scott raised such172 a tempest by ascribing to Thomas the Rhymer of Ercildoune, is said to be 1330. It is written in a curious and very effective metre; the short abrupt line of two syllables falling regularly near the end of each stanza reins in the full swing of the rest with great force and directness. The poem is full of life and vigor, and there are touches of naïf insight here and there in strange contrast with the rough, matter-of-fact tone of the whole. Many and quaint are the adventures of the hero, especially when he kills a dragon in Ireland for the sake of Iseult, that “brid bright, as blood upon snoweing,” and her mother cures him of the pain caused by its poisonous tongue, with treacle; or when, having overcome a terrible “geaunt” in Brittany, he requires him to adorn the walls of his castle with “images” of Iseult and Bragwaine, the beauty of which so astounds his young brother-in-law, evidently a novice in works of art, that he straightway falls backward and breaks his head!

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

Our own Geoffrey of Monmouth was the first to draw Sir Tristram into the magic circle of Arthur’s knights, in whose good company he has ever since remain173ed. Lady Juliana Berners mentions him as the inventor of “venery” or terms of hunting; and his name occurs in “The Temple of Glass,” and in Gower, who states that he fell by King Mark’s own hand, a tradition followed only by Sir Thomas Malory and Tennyson. In the “Orlando Furioso” we hear of the “Rocca di Tristano,” and Ariosto and Boiardo drew from his legend, old even then, their fountains of love and hatred. Dante places him next to Paris among the lovers flitting by like cranes in his “Inferno.” In 1485 Sir Thomas Malory, himself a knight, published his noble “Morte D’Arthur,” in which Tristram is one of the most striking figures; and it is remarkable that although he never seems to have thought there was anything to condemn greatly in the nephew’s conduct, he palliates it by defaming the uncle as much as possible—a moral concession not to be found in either of the earlier romances, which he must have consulted for his work. But we will not multiply references, lest the reader should be fain to cry with the author of “Sir Hain and Dame Anieuse,”

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

The theme was getting wearisome. Le Seigneur Luce du château de Gast had exhausted it in his prose Romance (where, for the first time, Palamides, the Paynim lover of Iseult, and Dinadan, the foolish, knight, appear); and, besides this, there was a “Romance of Meliodas,” Tristram’s father, and afterwards a “Romance of Ysaie le Triste,” his son; so that all the details of his private life were nearly as well known as those of Mr. Carlyle’s to the present generation. “Ysaie le Triste” appeared in 1522; and in 1554, when no imagination, however vivid, could possibly add a single exploit to those which had been recounted already, Jean Maugin took a new departure, and turned the whole thing into an allegory, in which Sir Tristram became the type of Christian chivalry. His queer attempt is justly ridiculed by Scott; but it is not altogether without interest, as the first indication of the symbolic spirit in which modern poets have treated the legend—with the exception of Scott himself,174 whose beautiful Conclusion and Ballad are pure imitations of the mediæval spirit as well as of the mediæval form, and have nothing modern about them. Towards the end of the sixteenth century the taste for chivalrous romance died out in Europe—or rather fell asleep—and the name of Tristram was no more heard for more than two hundred years, except in a glowing stanza or two of Spenser’s “Fairy Queen.” Then came the revival of Scott and Southey to prepare the way, and lastly that signal triumph of the ancient story in our own day, when four of the greatest living poets singled it out for illustration, and it became a living power again in the hands of Wagner, Tennyson, Swinburne, and Matthew Arnold. But its power is of a different kind, for a change has come over the spirit of the dream, since it was first dreamed long ago among the Welsh mountains.

Accordingly Tristram, once the mere sport of existing circumstances, becomes a highly responsible person with correctly oppressive notions of duty. He has grown old along with the rest of the world; he rides no more light-hearted through the forest, sails no more gaily across the sea, forgetful of all but life and its deliciousness, woos no more whom he would. Nor, in the modern versions, does he die merrily, as he died in the “Morte D’Arthur” and in the “Book of Howth,” “harping afore his lady La Belle Isoud.”Wagner, to whom one might have fancied, à priori, that such an exit for his tenor would have been most welcome, sentences him to lingering death of a wound given him by the traitor Melot; Tennyson fells him with a blow of King Mark’s from behind; in Matthew Arnold he dies naturally; in Swinburne the false words of Iseult Les Blanches Mains finish the work of sickness. His love, his death, are all-important now; whereas of old the first was but an interesting episode in the life of a man who was second only to Sir Launcelot at a tourney, and the last so insignificant as to be disposed of in a single sentence. We hear nothing now of the Castle of Maidens, or of Lonazep; nothing of the wife of Sir Segwarides, or of other fair ladies; nothing at all of that great crisis in his life when he met Sir Launcelot at175 the peron, “and either wounded other wonderly sore, that the blood ran out upon the grass.”

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

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

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

All these things, which relieved the sombre hues of the picture have faded into dimness. The martial glory of Tristram has passed away; nothing but tragedy remains—the sin, the sorrow, the inexplicable fate which linked two separated lives together. Long ago it was a bit of witchcraft pure and simple; now the magic drink has become the symbol of mystery and doom, and what not. Like Paolo and Francesca da Rimini, the guilty souls are hurried round and round without a moment’s respite by the whirlwind of their passion, in that wonderful opera which the most devoted followers of Wagner esteem his masterpiece of blended poetry and music. The fierce, dark, rapturous rejoicing of love on the very edge of death lights it up with a lurid glare, which makes everything else look pale and fanciful by comparison; it has no parallel in art, even among Wagne176r’s other works, nor can any one desire that it should have. The great difficulties which stand in the way of its representation may prevent it from ever becoming popular in the sense in which “Lohengrin” and “Tannhäuser” are popular; but those who have had the good fortune to hear it will not easily forget its unique and terrible power. It is strange that Wagner should have made King Mark an ideal uncle, tender and forgiving to the last degree, and so full of self-denial that had he but known of the fatal drink in time, he would have resigned his bride to his nephew with the best grace in the world. Dramatically the action loses by this change; the sympathies of the audience are baffled and divided; do what we will, the conduct of the hero seems mean and treacherous, and his death more arbitrary than it need have been, since Melot, the traitor who gives him his mortal wound, had far less reason to hate him than had the injured bridegroom. Indeed, it is difficult to see what Wagner himself thought that he gained by this amendment, unless that tragedy itself becomes more tragic by the needless suffering inflicted on a high and noble soul, ready to sacrifice its dearest hopes rather than undergo the agony of seeing another’s virtue tempted beyond endurance. There is also one dire offence against good taste, worthy of Wagner’s earliest models (and of Shakespeare in “King Lear”,) in the scene where Tristram tears the bandage from his wounds. But if the hero fares rather badly, until we forgive him for the sake of his death-cry, “Liebe!” the heroine has never in the course of her long life found such an interpreter. She has lost, indeed, her old, light-hearted innocence; but she has lost it to become one of the grandest and most original creations in the whole range of the drama. She surpasses even the bounds of passion; the very fury of love is upon her, from the moment when, foreseeing that she can no longer live without him, she resolves to make Tristram drink with her of the death-drink, and the charm begins to work, to the moment when she falls dead besides his body. The magic only reveals what shame forbade her to confess. The key to her whole character lies in her answer to Bragwaine’s entreaty that she will177 not give the signal for Tristram’s approach by extinguishing the torch in the window of her tower in King Mark’s palace—

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

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

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

and we rather resent her intrusion than welcome her, when she comes back to nurse him, very repentant indeed, like a178 sort of queenly Sister of Mercy. His dying request is also a great innovation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

I was in the island of Keos, or Zia, one of the Cyclades, when the idea of forming this collection struck me, and it was on the occasion of being told that here St. Artemidos is considered as the patron saint of weakly children. The church dedicated to this saint is some little way from the town on the hill slopes; thither a mother will take a child afflicted by any mysterious wasting, “struck by the Nereids,” as they say; she then strips off its clothes, and puts on new ones blessed by the priest, leaving the old ones as a perquisite for the church; and then if perchance the child grows strong, she will thank St. Artemidos for the blessing vouchsafed, unconscious that she is perpetuating the archaic worship of Artemis. The Ionian idea of the fructifying and nourishing properties of the Ephesian Artemis has182 been transferred to her Christian namesake.

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

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

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

To pass on to another analogy. There is a curious parallel between St. Anarguris, the patron saint in some parts of183 flocks and herds, and the god Pan of ancient days. On the island of Thermià (Κύθνος) I saw a church dedicated to St. Anarguris built over the mouth of a cavern, as the protecting saint of the place, instead of Pan, the ancient god of grottos. But a still more marked instance of the continuation of Pan worship occurs to-day on Keos at the little church of St. Anarguris, at a remote hamlet called 'στὸ μακρινὸ. Whenever an ox is ailing they take it to this church and pray for its recovery; if the cock crows when they start, or they hear the voice of a man or the grunt of a pig, there is every hope that the animal will be cured; but on the contrary, if they hear a cat, a dog, or a woman, it is looked upon as an evil omen. When at the church of St. Anarguris they solemnly register a vow that if the ox recovers they will present it to the saint when its days of work are over; accordingly, every year on the 1st of July, the day on which they celebrate the feast of St. Anarguris, numbers of aged oxen may be seen on the road to this church, where they are slaughtered on the threshold and the flesh distributed amongst the poor.

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

Everything nautical has to do with St. Nicholas; in Mykenos a little church built on a rock out in the harbor is dedicated to him; another on the sea shore at Paros is dedicated to Ἅγιος Νικόλαος Θαλασσίτης; his picture, or εἰκὼν is painted on the inside of crabs’ backs, which are gilded outside and worshipped. In nautical songs St. Nicholas is always alluded to as the inventor of the rudder, and is represented as seated at the helm,184 whilst Christ sits at the prow and the Virgin in the middle. In a storm sailors call on him for assistance, as the ancients did on the Dioscouri, whom they thought to have power to allay storms direct from Poseidon himself.

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

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

At Melos they have a curious feast which recalls a Bacchic revelry. Every landowner who wishes to plant a vineyard calls together, on a certain day, fifty or more men, when church is over; to these he gives a spade apiece, and slaughters some goats and fills skins with wine. Then they all start off together to their work, preceded by a standard-bearer holding a white banner. In the field they eat the food, drink the wine, and plant the vineyard, all in the space of one day, and return home again, most of them in a decided state of intoxication. This is followed by a dance and further revelry in front of the church, which doubtless the village priest will hallow with his presence. The Greeks, taken as a whole, are a sober race, but on certain occasions and festivals it is almost a religious duty to drink heavily. In the island of Paros there actually exists a church dedicated185 to the drunken St. George, whose feast-day is on the 3rd of November. The priest thereof, in answer to my inquiries about this strange name, remarked that the 3rd of November is the anniversary of St. George’s burial, and then the inhabitants usually tap their new-made wine and get drunk; but why they should on such a solemn occasion speak of Ἅγιος ΓἍοργιος μεθύστης I could not divine, unless we take into account the hereditary tendency of the Greeks to deify passions.

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

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

In a popular song I have heard Cha186ron spoken of as a “bird like unto a black swallow,” which compares curiously with the passage in the twenty-second Odyssey, where Athena is represented as sitting on the roof of the palace at Ithaca like a swallow, on the day of vengeance for Penelope’s suitors.

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

St. Charalambos is, however, the Æsculapius of modern days. He used to hold jurisdiction over the plague, and is represented as a hideous wizard, trampling under foot a serpent with smoke issuing out of its mouth; and in fever-stricken, marshy districts St. Charalambos still reigns supreme. In many places it is the custom on the outbreak of a pestilence for forty women to make a garment in one day, which is hung up in the saint’s church. For instance, at Zephyria, the mediæval capital of the island of Melos, which was abandoned altogether about twenty years ago as unfit to live in, I visited the ruins, and in the centre of them saw still standing the church of St. Charalambos, and an old man, who happened to be picking his olives there at the time, told me the history of the desolation, and the methods they used to resort to when he was young to rid the place of disease; how they used to bury heifers whole; and how they used to fasten up illnesses in a cauldron—that is to say, they wrote down the names of the various maladies on paper, and boiled them in a cauldron with some money and a cock in front of the shrine of the modern Æsculapius. But in vain; the town had to be abandoned, for it had been cursed by a priest,187 and never could hope to recover salubrity.

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

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

On the day of the commemoration of the dead I was in a small village in Amorgos, and there witnessed the quaint ceremony of κόλλυβα. Every house on this occasion sends to the church a plate of boiled corn; tottering old women with one foot in the grave generally bring it, and pour the contents into a large basket placed before the high altar whilst the service is going on, and then into the mass of corn they stick a candle, and if the family is especially grand they have separate plates with sesame seeds, or adorned with patterns of raisins and almonds. After the service is over the boiled corn and other delicacies are distributed amongst the poor outside the188 church. These offerings are very suggestive of the ancient idea of Demeter and her daughter.

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

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

The Fates are in some places supposed to write on the forehead of a man his destiny. Pimples on the nose and forehead are called γραψίματα τῶν Μοίρων.189 The decrees of the Fates are unalterable. According to various legends, attempts have been made to change them, but without avail. Only once, a girl of Naxos, so I was told, up in a mountain village, who was excessively ugly, managed to learn from a magician where the Fates lived, and that if she could get them to eat salt they would go blind and change her fate. She contrived to bring this about, and became lovely, married a prince, but had no children; “showing,” continued the legend by way of moral, “that the Fates never consent to a person being altogether happy.”

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

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

Many of our mythological personages and legends have their parallel to-day. There are the Lamiæ, for instance, evil-working women who live in desert places, ill-formed like their ancestors, daughters of Belus and Sibyl; utterly unfit are they for household duties, for they cannot sweep, so an untidy woman to-day is said to have made the sweepings of a Lamia (Τῆς Λαμίας τὰ σαρώματα); they cannot bake, for they put bread into the oven before heating it; they have dogs and horses, but give bones to their190 horses and straw to their dogs. They are very gluttonous, so much so that in Byzantine and modern Greek the verb λαμιώνω is used to express over-eating. They have a special predilection for baby’s flesh, and a Greek mother of to-day will frighten her child by saying that a Lamia will come if it is naughty, just as was said to naughty children in ancient days; for the legend used to run that Zeus loved Lamia too well, untidy though she was, and Hera, out of jealousy, killed her children, whereat Lamia was so grieved that she took to eating the children of others. Some Lamiæ are like the Sirens, and by taking the form of lovely nymphs, beguile luckless men to their destruction; for example, an ecclesiastical legend, savoring strongly of Boccaccio, tells us how a Lamia charmed a monk as he sat by the side of a lake one evening; dawn came, and the monk was seen no more, but some children swore to having seen his hoary beard floating on the waters of the lake.

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

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

I witnessed a very sad case on the island of Kimolos of a sailor who, in a191 storm, as he rounded the dreaded Cape Malea on his return home, had been struck, as they told me, by that mysterious ghost-demon the Τελώνια; he was kept in the village church all day, and had been in there all night, whilst his relatives were praying vehemently around him for the return of his shattered intellect. This τελώνια is a species of electricity, and appears during storms on the mastheads, which the Greek sailors personify as birds of evil omen, which settle on the masts with a view to destroy the ship and drown the sailors. They have words expressly for exorcising this phantom, and sometimes they try to drive it away by beating brass or shooting. In Italy this is called the fire of St. Elmo, and is evidently the same idea which in ancient times was connected with the Dioscouri.

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




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

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

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

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

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

Lucia had refused the wealthiest young193 men in the district; Lucia owned property, yet she worked as hard as if she were poor; Lucia did not dance the tarantella, was not merry, would not have a lover, and never beat her mule, even when he was as obstinate as only a mule can be!

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

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

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

Lucia, on the other hand, was well grown and stately-looking; her face was oval, and she had smooth black hair and wonderful deep brown, tranquil eyes, which seemed to look thoughtfully at everything; and her mouth, though well-formed and full-lipped, was firmly194 closed; she moved about in a dignified, deliberate way, and she was reckoned the most unsociable girl in the village, for she never spoke a word more than was actually necessary.

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

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

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

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

For Pietro was a wild, passionate youth, with something of the savage about him, and as Lucia disliked him even more than her other suitors, she195 had determined to stay at home this afternoon for fear she should meet him at Palene and be exposed to his vehement importunities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ah, well! it has been the taming of196 a good many obstinate girls for all that, and they are happy enough now. Look at Emilia Mantori and Teresina,”continued the mother; “they held out for a couple of years, and then one fine day they lost their plaits! They came back from the fields with their hair cut short; the boys hooted them down the street, and three weeks later there were two merry weddings, and now it is all as right as can be!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mother and daughter had eaten197 their supper in silence, and Lucia had just risen to take away the things, when a shadow fell across the threshold, and on Lucia’s looking up, a bold voice said, “Good evening, signorina.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But she won’t go on doing all the work for you! She works for you both now; and then there’s the interest of her money; of course she will want that for herself when she is in Rome,” continued the young man, casting a sharp sidelong glance at the old woman as he spoke.198 “Yes, your comfortable, easy-going life will be quite at an end, mother, unless—but perhaps she is going to take you with her?” inquired Pietro, in a tone of much sympathy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

“I can’t—I daren’t.”

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

But as the mule jogged on through the fresh morning air, and Lucia watched the golden sunlight playing on the rocks above and the fields below, her thoughts were anything but savage, for she was saying to herself,201 “Who would think that human beings could be so wicked when one sees how beautiful and peaceful, and happy everything is? They don’t notice it, for they are like animals still; they live like wild beasts. It is different in towns; it is better even in Palene, but how very different it must be in Rome, or Florence, or Naples! There, so I have read, people are good and gentle, and forgiving. They don’t love like wolves and hate like tigers. I know just one man myself, but then he is a foreigner, and they would be certain to kill him if I married him. Couldn’t we escape to Rome?” pursued the maiden thoughtfully, bending her body down over the mule. “But no,” she went on, “they would find him out even in Rome, and one fine day he would be found dead and I should have murdered him.”

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

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

The owner of this miscellaneous business, Don Ernano Lugeno, was standing at his shop-door enjoying the fine spring air, and comfortably smoking a short meerschaum, as Lucia came up on her mule. Now people in Palene do not smoke meerschaums, so this circumstance alone was enough to suggest the idea of his being a foreigner, and the impression was only confirmed by a glance at the man’s face and figure. With his broad shoulders, yellow hair, fresh complexion, golden beard, and202 bright, deep-blue eyes, Don Lugeno was the perfect type of the northern giant, in spite of his Italian name. In truth his real name was Hermann Lütgens, and he was a native of Pomerania, but some accident had brought him to Italy when a boy, and there he had remained ever since. He was now about thirty, and for the last ten years he had been in business at Palene; but in spite of the numerous strings to his bow, already mentioned, he did not get on very well, and in fact, made but a very poor living. Yet he was very industrious, and in addition to selling green-grocery, singing-birds, coffee and wine, he repaired watches, mended tables and chairs, put in window panes and painted beautiful sign-boards; so that he was looked upon as quite indispensable in all times of need, and was highly popular with everybody for his cheerful, obliging temper, and not less for his moderate charges. Still Don Lugeno did not prosper, and the reason was that he had one darling passion; he was an ardent sportsman, and every now and then he would disappear for two or three days into the woods, quite forgetting his business and his customers; and when at length he came home looking dishevelled and half wild, he seldom brought with him more than a lean hare, a small marten, or a miserable quail. In spite of his small success, however, Don Lugeno could not break himself of his love of sport, and it was this which kept him a poor man.

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

Whether, however, he really was the inveterate woman-hater he was supposed to be might reasonably have been doubted by any one who had chanced to observe how instantly his face lighted up when Lucia and her mule turned the corner into the market-place. They203 were coming to him, of course, for Lucia supplied his shop with vegetables, and had done so for years. He had known her and dealt with her ever since her childhood, and now that she was a woman, and a beautiful woman into the bargain, it had more than once crossed his mind that, if he could afford to marry, there was no one in the whole neighborhood whom he should like so well to call his wife as Lucia Ceprano. Well as he knew her, however, he was far too shy, and far too humble to hint at such an idea, for Lucia was an heiress—a great heiress for those parts, and he—how could he have the face to ask her to marry a poor man like himself, when she might have the choice of all the young men for miles round? Still, though he drove the thought away as often as it rose, it only returned again, and each time, somehow, it looked more fascinating than before. If only he were better off, if only he could get away from Palene to some more civilised place and ask Lucia to go with him, he felt as if he could do anything, even give up his sporting tastes, and settle down steadily. But it was of no use thinking of such a thing; for even if all the other difficulties were disposed of, what right had he to suppose that she cared a straw about him, except as a good customer for her garden produce? No, the idea must be put away; and to assist him in getting rid of it, Don Ernano went out for two or three days’ shooting, and when he came back he was poorer, and his home looked more desolate than ever, and the first thought which entered his mind, as he crossed the threshold, was, “How different it would be if Lucia were here to see after things!”

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

“Are you quite well, Don Ernano?” asked Lucia, looking up at him with her deep brown eyes. Then, as the giant blushed and turned away to hide his confusion, she added, quickly, for204 she pitied him for his shyness, “Here are the onions you wanted; beautiful large ones, aren’t they? but can you use so many?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Maybe,”returned Don Ernano;205 and then with sudden gravity he added, “but maybe also the right one has not yet come my way.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

She knew how obstinately bent her mother was on getting her married, and she began to feel suspicious and alarmed.206 “Pietro was here a long time yesterday,” she suddenly thought to herself; “there is something in the wind, no doubt.” And when evening came, without saying a word to any one, Lucia dragged her bed from its place beside her mother’s in the large kitchen, and put it in a little store-room, with a heavy iron door and a grated window.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When she had washed and dressed, and plaited her hair more carefully than usual, she brought out the mule, saddled and bridled him; but to her mothe208r’s immense astonishment, instead of proceeding to load him with vegetables, she just mounted and rode away in the direction of Palene.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Have you bought the plait?”they asked.

The barber shook his head gravely.


“What then?” they asked with curiosity.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Lucia had not yet dismounted, and there she now sat on the mule, looking perfectly calm and collected, while211 the children danced round her mocking and jeering, and the men and women whispered and gazed in astonishment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Don Ernano!”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

“Have you the plait?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Then please to show it to us.”

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

“You know the girl?”they inquired further.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We have good news for you, Lucia,” cried a dozen voices;214 “he’ll marry you. He has solemnly sworn to marry you within the month. You may be quite easy about it, for he will do all that is right by you, and he will give us satisfaction. He is a clever man, much respected, and as good as anyone in the village.”

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

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

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

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

The barber turned round like a flash of lightning.

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

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

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

Don Ernano spoke so kindly and pleasantly that Lucia had soon dried her tears, and now looking up at him with a beaming face, she said,215 “I will tell you all about it, Don Ernano. You see I was obliged to do as I did, or you could not have married me without incurring the vengeance of that wicked Pietro who is very angry at my refusing him. Now you are under the protection of the whole village, and he will take good care not to come in your way.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



The simple definition of banking is money-dealing. A banker properly so called is but a tradesman engaged in buying and selling money, that symbol of wealth which in all civilised countries facilitates or renders possible the exchange of commodities, which are wealth itself. A banker produces nothing, nor does he, except in a most indirect manner, add anything to the wealth of the country. His business is the collection and distribution of that general representative of merchandise, money, much in the same way as an ordinary shopkeeper collects and distributes the special articles of his individual trade. Joint-stock banks, then, are but co-operative distributing associations formed for the purpose of fighting against some real or fancied oppression, and of competing, to the supposed advantage of the public, with private enterprise. They are formed for the purpose of competing with private bankers whose business they appear to be gradually absorbing, possibly by a sort of process of the survival of the fittest. In this way the origin, in 1694, of the Bank of England, the parent joint-stock bank of the kingdom, and the largest and most important money-dealing institution in the world, may be traced to the combination of the Government, merchants, traders, and the general public to oppose the exactions, usury, and financial tyranny of the goldsmiths and stock-jobbers of the period. A very limited acquaintance with pamphlets published at the time of the Great Revolution will show that the Bank of England was the natural outcome of218 necessity, a necessity which guaranteed its success if honestly and prudently managed. Through its means the foundation of a safe paper currency was secured, the national credit maintained, and the system of usury and extortion prevalent throughout the country undermined—at the expense, it is true, of many so-called bankers, stock-jobbers, and goldsmiths, but to the great gain of the nation, its commerce, and the general public. Of the originator of the Bank of England—Mr. W. Paterson, who remained a director only for a year or two—we know really very little, except that he was equally the founder of the ill-fated Darien Expedition of 1698, that he was an able, honorable, and enthusiastic man, and that he died in Scotland, where, “pitied, respected, but neglected,” he lived for many years.

The original capital of the Bank was £1,200,000, which was subscribed in a few days. The whole of this amount was, as a condition of the charter, lent to the Government at eight per cent., the Bank being allowed an additional £4,000 a year for the management of the Government accounts. The necessary capital for carrying on the banking business appears to have been obtained from the public by the issue of bank bills, termed by some flippant writers of the period “Speed’s notes,” from the name of the first chief cashier. These bills were evidently a sort of “deposit receipt,” bearing interest at the rate of twopence per cent. per diem, or at the rate of three per cent. per annum, and they appear to have given sore offence219 to the goldsmiths. The Bank of England commenced business in the Mercers’ Hall, Cheapside, where the first “General Court of Proprietors” was held. But after a few months, this situation being found inconvenient, an agreement was made with the Grocers’ Company (which appears to have been in difficulties) for the use of their hall in Princes Street. The original working staff of the Bank consisted of fifty-four clerks, whose united salaries amounted to the modest sum of £4,340 a year, averaging a little more than £80 a year each. The chief cashier (Mr. T. Speed), the chief accountant, and the secretary received £250 a year each, and one clerk is scheduled in the pay-sheet as working “gratis.” Addison, in No. 3 of the Spectator, gives us the following pleasant little glimpse of the Bank at work in 1710: “In one of my late rambles, or rather speculations, I looked into the great hall where the Bank is kept, and was not a little pleased to see the directors, secretaries, and clerks, with all the other members of that wealthy corporation, ranged in their several stations, according to the parts they act in that just and regular economy.” From which it would seem that the Bank dignitaries of old had a firm belief in the virtues of the “master’s eye,” scorned bank parlors and private rooms, and were content to work with their servants coram populo—a good, homely, old-fashioned practice, no doubt, but one scarcely adapted to modern banking requirements. Bank of England directors in those days, however, had a good deal more to do with mere clerical duties than they have at present. They by no means shirked the most practical responsibilities of office, for we find that at that period, and for many years afterwards, even the warrants for the payments of dividends were signed by two of their body.

It was not until after the Bank had existed some forty years that the directors found the business so completely outgrow the accommodation afforded by the Grocers’ Hall as to necessitate a separate building of its own. The foundation of the present building was laid in 1732 on the site of the residence of Sir John Houblon, the first governor of the Bank, and220 business was commenced in the new premises in 1734. The edifice was greatly enlarged between the years 1770 and 1786, and was completed, pretty much as it now stands, in 1786, an Act having been procured in 1780 to enable the directors to purchase the adjoining church, land, and parsonage—in fact the whole parish—of St. Christopher le Stocks, to the rector of which non-existent parish the Bank pay £400 a year to this day. The drawing office now stands on the site of the old church, the garden being the churchyard. In 1800, when Princes Street was widened, the present wall-screen round the Bank was erected by Sir John Soane giving a uniform appearance to the exterior of the building. There is much in the architectural interior of the Bank which is well worthy of admiration; for instance the quadrangle called the bullion-yard, in Lothbury, the garden, rotunda, and court rooms, &c. The long prison-like stone-colored passages and offices devoted to public business, however, are singularly cold and cheerless, owing chiefly to some apparent, yet unaccountable, objection of the authorities to employ color as a decorative auxiliary; possibly from a fixed but mistaken idea that color is antagonistic to cleanliness and brightness to business.

Although the necessities of the State contributed to the establishment of the Bank of England, they were, at intervals of every few years, compelled, after making a feeble resistance, to purchase the continuance of their privileges on exceedingly onerous terms. The history of the seven renewals of the charter between 1694 and 1800, and of the accordance of permission to increase the capital of the Bank, is one continuous record of State exactions. The Bank, as a condition of State patronage, were on each successive occasion forced to increase their loans to the Government at low rates of interest or without any interest whatever, three millions sterling being lent for six years without interest in 1800. Interest on previous loans was reduced, exchequer bills were cancelled, and on one occasion a free gift of £110,000 was made to the State. As a consequence the Government debt to the Bank increased at a rapid rate, till it221 amounted at last to upwards of fourteen and a half millions sterling, or rather more than the whole capital of the Corporation. In 1833 the Government paid off one-fourth of this debt in reduced annuities, and thereby reduced it to £11,015,100, at which amount it now stands. While Ministry after Ministry thus accurately tested the pliability of the “Governor and Company,” and relentlessly preyed on their fears as to the continuance of their monopoly, it is pleasant to read of the intense feeling of loyalty which actuated the directors in all their dealings with the State. When, after the Rebellion of 1715, the Government proposed to reduce the interest on the National Debt from six to five per cent., the Bank testified to their desire to assist the measure by at once agreeing to accept the lower rate, and to provide money to pay off those creditors who declined to submit to the reduction. Again, when a further reduction in the interest on part of the National Debt was proposed in 1750, the Bank at once assented, and arranged to find a sum of money to pay off the dissentients. The passive attitude lately assumed by the Bank directors towards the conversion scheme of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer contrasts somewhat unfavorably with the loyal attachment of the Bank to the State in olden times. The transactions of the Bank of England with Government for a period of one hundred and twenty years ending with 1816 are but a series of loans and advances by the Bank in anticipation of the revenue, or of payments of treasury bills drawn by the Government agents abroad. These large advances and payments were entirely independent of the permanent loan made to the Government by the Bank, and were supposed to be but temporary assistance rendered to the State in times of sore need, to be repaid periodically as the revenue was collected. But repayment was not made. Again and again did the Governor and Company represent to the Ministers that they were unable to continue to increase the floating debt without endangering the safety of the Bank. Coaxed and bullied in turn (especially by Pitt), they allowed their loyalty to outrun their prudence, and yielded more or less gracefully time222 after time, till at last in 1797 they were compelled to suspend cash payments, entirely through their exertions to aid the Government. Undoubtedly the exclusive privileges which the Bank in the infancy of banking enjoyed were in some sense a quid pro quo for their services to the State, and the fear of losing their charter may have been a strong incentive to loyalty. The subsequent gradual enfranchisement of banking by the various enactments between 1826 and 1858 and the enormous progress which banking has since made throughout the country, have, however, considerably lessened the value of these privileges, and from a mere proprietor’s point of view it is quite possible that the Bank of England might profitably forego their charter altogether, now that they are in no fear of losing it, and, so far as pure banking is concerned, they no longer enjoy a monopoly. These considerations may have tempered the loyalty of the directors, and may account for the very independent fashion in which they nowadays approach the Government for the transaction of business upon which, in the olden time, they were accustomed to enter with fear and trembling.

The establishment of branches by the Bank of England in 1826 was a direct consequence of the great panic of 1825, caused, as the Government alleged, by reckless speculation encouraged and fostered by private banks, and by the overissue of country bank notes. In a correspondence with the Bank, the Government expressed their determination to “improve the circulation of the country paper,” and, after paying the Bank the complement of saying, “We believe that much of the prosperity of the country is to be attributed to the general wisdom, justice, and fairness of the dealings of the Bank,” suggested that the Bank of England should establish branches of their own in different parts of the country, and should, moreover, yield part of their exclusive privilege of joint-stock banking by permitting the formation of banks with more than six partners, except in or within sixty-five miles of the metropolis. After a vain attempt to obtain some compensation for the concession of their monopoly for joint-stock banking the223 Bank yielded on both points, and an Act was passed authorising the establishment of Bank of England branches and the formation of country joint-stock banks. The circulation of one and two pound notes was also prohibited by this Act.

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

We come now to Sir Robert Peel’s famous Bank Charter Act of 1844, entitled “An Act to regulate the issue of Bank Notes, and for giving to the Governor and Company of the Bank of England certain privileges for a limited period.” It confirms the curtailed privileges of the Bank for eleven years, subject afterwards to redemption on twelve224 months’ notice being given and the repayment of the debt due by the Government to the Bank. A clause in the subsequent National Debt Act of 1870, however, provides that the Bank of England shall continue to be a corporation until all the public Funds shall be redeemed by Parliament, thus practically granting it a lease in perpetuity. The Act of 1844—to some of the special provisions of which I shall presently refer—practically regulates the whole banking system of the country, and at the present time governs the Bank of England in the conduct of their business. In accordance with its provisions, the issue of Bank of England notes was first kept distinct from the banking business proper by the creation of the “Issue Department” and the “Banking Department,” with which probably most of my readers are perfectly familiar, at least by name. Besides these Issue and Banking Departments, there is in the Bank a third most important department, devoted to what is generally, though somewhat inaccurately, termed “the management of the National Debt.” In their capacity of bankers to the State the governor and company of the Bank of England have always acted as the financial agents of the Government for distributing, and paying the dividends on, the funded debt, as well as for the performance of other book-keeping duties in connection therewith. Of late years the Bank have undertaken similar duties for the Indian and several Colonial Governments, for the Metropolitan Board of Works, and for various corporations and municipalities. The considerable portion of the Bank premises devoted to this agency business is now generally spoken of by financial and banking writers as “The Department for the Management of the National Debt”—an imposing title doubtless, which says a good deal more than it means, and one, for aught I know, adopted nowadays by the Bank themselves; but, possibly influenced by the recollections of days long gone by, I confess my partiality for the old familiar title of “Stock Offices.”

In the conduct of their business, then, the Bank of England perform three distinct and important functions—that of financial agents, that of issuers of notes225 under the control of the State, and that of Government and general bankers. The duties involved in these functions are discharged, severally, towards the State and the various governments and corporations for whom they are agents; towards the general public, from or to whom they buy or sell notes and gold; and towards the Government and customers for whom they act as ordinary bankers. I will consider briefly the system by which these three functions are discharged. The offices comprised in the department for the management of the National Debt are the various stock offices in which are kept the stock ledgers and the transfer books, the Dividend Office, the Cheque Office, the Unclaimed Dividend Office, the Power of Attorney Office, and the Will or Register Office. The nature of the business transacted in these different offices is sufficiently indicated by their names, with the exception of the Cheque Office, which, on the lucus a non lucendo principle, is probably so called because it has nothing whatever to do with “cheques,” but is devoted, for the most part, to the purpose of checking the amounts and totals of the dividend warrants paid by the “Dividend Pay Office,” an office which belongs to the Banking Department. Some idea of the amount of work done in the various Stock Offices may be gathered from the circumstance that they employ the services of some 450 clerks. Nearly 2,000 books are in constant use in some ten or twelve rooms. The dividend warrants on the funded debt alone number about half a million a year, and are, when paid, sent to Somerset House for verification, together with a duplicate copy of the dividend book. As a remuneration for its services in connection with the National Debt, the Bank is paid a commission of £300 per million on the first six hundred millions of the amount and £150 per million on the remainder. Since the funded debt is now altogether about £628,500,000, the Bank receives on this account about £184,000 per annum, a remuneration which cannot be considered excessive.

The extreme accuracy and dispatch with which the clerical labor involved in the business of the Stock Offices is performed, is almost marvellous, and reflects the highest credit on the adminis226trative machinery of the Bank. Every possible expedient is resorted to for the purpose of facilitating the work and guarding against error, even to the free employment of the Bank’s printing-office and the use of the stereotype process in the preparation of the dividend books in duplicate. It is worth mentioning that all the old stock ledgers, transfer books, vouchers, and documents connected with the various stocks which have been created since the establishment of the Bank are carefully preserved and systematically arranged for ready reference in the Stock Office Library under the charge of a librarian, whose duties, however, though involving great responsibility, are more monotonous than onerous.

The “Issue Department” of the Bank of England is the outcome of the determination expressed by the Government in 1844 “to regulate the issue of bank notes.” The experience of former years, more particularly that of 1825, had fully demonstrated how undesirable, and even dangerous, it was to leave the circulation of bank notes to the uncontrolled discretion of country bankers, and though there can be no reason to doubt that the Bank of England had hitherto used the power which they possessed of expanding or contracting their circulation at will with great judgment, and substantially to the benefit of the mercantile community, it was thought desirable that the control of the whole circulation in the country should be practically vested in the State, and be governed by some sound financial principle. The theoretical basis of the Act of 1844 is the principle that bank notes should not be mere symbols of credit—simple I O U’s, as it were, which are a confession of a want of cash—but of actual “ear-marked” gold; of ready money, which alone regulates, or should regulate, the extent of the commerce of the country. The soundness of this principle is doubted by many financial authorities on the ground that it checks the proper expansion of trade and in times of crisis has failed in practice. I cannot, however, here discuss the large subject of currency, but must accept the law as I find it, merely stating that in my opinion it affords the only safe basis upon which any sound currency can be regulated. To carry out this law effectually, then, it was obviously neces227sary that the Government should create or select some establishment from which bank notes might be issued, and in which the gold that these notes represented should be set apart or stored. As the State Bank, the Bank of England was naturally entrusted with these functions. Hence the creation of the “Issue Department.” But in order to afford some elasticity to the circulation, and to deal gently with the “vested interests” of the Bank of England and country bankers alike, the Act provides that no banks of issue shall be permitted other than those in existence in May, 1844, and that an average of the note circulation of these banks shall be taken, which shall in future be the maximum circulation allowed to them. This maximum was subsequently fixed at about eight and three-quarter millions. Provisions are also made by which, on certain terms, issuing banks may cede their privilege of issue to the Bank or forfeit them altogether in case of bankruptcy or certain changes in the constitution of their partnerships. The total amount of these “lapsed issues” since 1844 is about two and three-quarter millions, leaving the present authorized maximum circulation of the country banks at about six millions. No stipulation is made that any proportion of this circulation shall be based upon gold. This matter is left entirely to the judgment of the bankers themselves, whose discretion, however, there seems no reason to question, since from the weekly returns supplied to the Government in conformity with the Act, it appears that not more than one-half the notes of the maximum issue are in actual circulation. With regard to the Bank of England, permission is accorded to the Issue Department to issue notes to the amount of fourteen millions upon securities—including the £11,015,100 due by the Government to the Bank—to be set apart for the purpose of guarantee. The Bank is furthermore permitted to increase the amount of notes issued on securities to the extent of two-thirds of the lapsed issues of country banks. The extra issue thus acquired is now £1,750,000, which brings up the total amount of issue on securities to £15,750,000, inclusive of the Government debt. Any further issue of notes must be represented by an equal amount of bullion or gold228 coin transferred to the separate vaults of the Issue Department, but one-fourth of the amount so transferred may consist of silver bullion.

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

It is evident that the amount of bank notes issued varies in exact proportion to the amount of gold in the Issue Department, the issue against the Government debt and other securities being invariable. Roughly speaking, the contraction or expansion of the circulation indicates a corresponding curtailment or increase in commercial facilities or requirements. Hence the Issue Department return becomes an important guide to the operations of bankers, brokers, and financial firms, by whom it is carefully watched, since the increase or diminution of the stock of gold may be said respectively to be a signal of safety or danger. The receipts or withdrawals of gold in any large quantity by or from the Bank are of two kinds, inland and foreign. The former for the most part occur at certain regular periods of the year, such as the harvest season, Scotch “term-time,” &c. They exercise but a very modified and temporary influence on the money market, for the laws by which they are governed are very fairly229 understood and recognised, and the amount of gold actually in the kingdom remains unaltered. It is far different, however, with the demand or supply of gold from foreign countries, the importance of which to the financial world is so great that the amount of gold received or delivered by the Bank on foreign account is by them made known day by day, and is duly chronicled in the City articles of the morning papers. The exports and imports of gold (which practically, regulate the note issue) are governed by the state of the foreign exchanges, which are probably a mystery to many of my readers, but which up to a certain point may be readily understood. Approaching the subject as tenderly and in as elementary a manner as possible, I will at once simplify matters by saying that, with a few exceptions (such as regard India, Russia, China, &c.), the foreign rates of exchange represent the amount of money in its own currency (be it paper or gold) that the specified financial centre of each country is willing to give for a pound sterling on London. They vary almost daily, and are indications either of indebtedness or of the abundance or scarcity of money, and are described as favorable or unfavorable to this country according to whether they are high or low. A rate of exchange is an indication of indebtedness, according to the position of the balance of trade or indebtedness between the country fixing it and England. When in any given country this indebtedness is in favor of England, it is obvious that in that country bills on London for the purpose of remittance will be in demand, and will fetch more money; consequently the rate at which they will be purchased rises. When the balance of trade is against England, it is equally evident that bills on London are not so much wanted, and the price of them—that is the rate of exchange—consequently falls.

But I have said that a rate of exchange may be an indication of abundance or scarcity of money in the country quoting it; and it is often so in this manner. Let us suppose that there is no balance of trade to settle between a given country and England, but that the rate, of discount, or value of money, in the former is, say, three per cent., while230 in England it is, say, four per cent. It follows that primâ facie it is more profitable to send surplus money to England for employment than to keep it at home. In the absence of trade bills a demand for drafts transferring money to London sets in, and the rate of exchange rises. Let us now reverse this condition of things. Suppose money to be dearer in a given country than in England; it is evident in that case that capitalists here would find it more profitable to employ their money in that country than at home, and that the foreign rate of exchange would consequently fall. I have spoken hitherto of remittances by bills or drafts only, but it is obvious that a scarcity of these vehicles for the transfer of money may so drive up the rate of exchange that it becomes more profitable to send gold. When this point is reached the foreign rate of exchange is said to stand at “gold point.” If I have made myself clearly understood, the reader will now see how the rate of discount by attracting or repelling money affects the movement of gold in the Bank of England, and why, when the Bank desire to either simply protect their stock of gold or their “reserve,” and so prevent any contraction of the note issue, or to attract gold from abroad and so expand the circulation, or increase the “reserve,” they raise the official rate of discount step by step until the desired end is accomplished; or why, when the stock of gold is large and the note issue may with safety be contracted, they facilitate the trade of the country by lowering their minimum rate, at the risk of gold being required for export. He will, too, gain some slight idea of how the world’s stock of gold is moved about from country to country at the call of commerce, and how true it is that the trade of any country is, or ought to be, regulated solely by its supply of gold, or ready money.

The offices comprised in the Issue Department of the Bank are the Hall, the Bullion Office, and the Gold-weighing Room. In the Hall, notes and gold are exchanged by the public one for the other, and notes are exchanged for other notes of a higher or lower denomination. In the Bullion Office bar-gold is bought at the rate of £3 17s. 9d. per ounce, or exchanged for sovereigns at231 the rate of £3 17s. 10-1/2d. per ounce, at which rate bullion is also sold. Nearly all the imports of gold and silver to this country are taken to the Bank of England for delivery to the consignees. The duties connected with these consignments are undertaken by the Bullion Office, where small charges are made for weighing, packing, and collecting freight, &c. In the Gold-weighing Room gold coin is weighed automatically, at the rate of about 2,000 pieces an hour each, by about a dozen beautiful little machines worked by an atmospheric engine. Bank notes are not re-issued after having been once paid, and in the Bank Note Office registers are kept in which are recorded the dates of issue and return to the Bank of each respective note. The particulars of the payment of any note can be ascertained by a reference to the Bank Note Library, where the paid and cancelled notes are kept for seven years, after which they are burnt on the Bank premises. For the privilege of issuing the £15,750,000 against securities, and for exemption from stamp duty, the Bank pay an annual sum of about £200,000, together with any profit which they may derive from the notes issued against gold to the Government. The paper on which bank notes are printed is manufactured expressly for the Bank of England at Laverstock in Hampshire, but the dies from which the water-mark is made, as well as the plates from which the notes are printed, are made at the Bank. The notes are all printed at the Bank’s own printing-office under the care of the printing superintendent, the quantity of notes required from time to time being regulated by the chief cashier, who is responsible for their safe custody as soon as, by a second process of printing, the numbers and dates have been filled in for the purpose of issue. The average number of bank notes paid and cancelled each day is more than 40,000, and no less than 80,000,000 cancelled notes may be found as a rule, stored and sorted for reference, in the Bank Note Library. The Bank of England also undertakes the printing of “rupee paper” for the Indian Government.

The “Banking Department” of the Bank of England is the separation of the ordinary banking business from the232 business of financial agency and issuing notes. In a speech on the renewal of the Bank charter in 1844 Sir Robert Peel said, “With respect to the banking business of the Bank, I propose that it should be governed on precisely the same principles as would regulate any other body dealing with Bank of England notes.” The Bank Act of 1844, then, does not touch the management of the Banking Department in any way beyond requiring that a weekly statement of its assets and liabilities shall be published. This statement—which forms part of the “Bank Return”—may be thus analysed. On the left hand side are the liabilities, divided into the liability towards the proprietors of the Bank as shown by the amounts of “Proprietors’ Capital” and “Rest” (which latter is practically an addition to the capital); the liability to the Government, as shown by the amount of “Public Deposits,” which are the balances of different Government accounts; the liability to the customers as shown by the amount of the “Other Deposits,” which are the sum of the balances of the current or “drawing” accounts; and the liability to the holders of the Bank’s acceptances as shown by the amount of “Seven-day and other Bills” in circulation. On the other side of the statement are the assets by which these liabilities are represented, divided into “Government Securities,” which show the amount of the banking capital invested in Government securities; the “Other Securities,” which show the amount of other investments made by the Bank; and, separately, the “notes” and “gold and silver coin,” which show the amount of cash in hand for the current purposes of the Banking Department. This sum of notes and gold and silver coin forms, so to speak, the cash assets of the Bank, and the proportion which it bears to the current liabilities disclosed by the public and other deposits and seven-day bills is called the proportion of reserve to liabilities, and is always a matter of great interest, and often of great anxiety, to the City on Thursdays.

The question of the proportion which these cash assets should bear to liabilities is one of extreme importance to a prudent banker. It is generally considered that it should be about one-third,233 but a proportion of reserve to liabilities of only 33 per cent. in the Bank Return would create considerable anxiety, while in an ordinary joint-stock bank’s accounts it would, I fancy, be abnormally great, far greater than that disclosed by the half-yearly accounts submitted to the shareholders, which may naturally be supposed to represent the financial position in the most favorable light. The publication of the weekly Bank Return is so useful and important to commerce, banking, and finance that it is to be regretted that the law which calls for it is not extended to all joint-stock if not to private banks. We might then hope to see an end put to that faulty system of banking which in good times, in order to pay extraordinary dividends, encourages over-trading by giving every possible facility to speculation, and, when a reaction comes, suddenly cuts off all “accommodation,” calls in all resources, and drives its customers to the Bank of England, in the hope of obtaining that ready money which it is no longer willing itself to supply. The Bank of England, through their Banking Department, undertake duties merely towards their own customers and the Government. Their banking business is conducted for the most part (in theory, at all events) on the same lines as any other banking institution. It is unreasonable, therefore, to suppose that it is any part of their duty, in times of panic or crisis, to find ready money for a public shunted over to them by its own bankers, who from an inordinate desire to pay large dividends have placed themselves in a position of inability or unwillingness to find it themselves. And yet some such theory as this is advanced by many well-known writers on banking and finance. Bankers, probably knowing the weak points in their system, become sadly selfish, and are quick to take fright at the first signs of a panic, which they often do much to increase. The suspension of the Bank Act is to them the only true solution of the difficulties caused by over-trading, over-speculation, and inflation of general business. At their earnest entreaty—not at the solicitation of the Bank of England—has the Act been thrice suspended: not, as subsequent events proved, because any suspension of the Act was really234 necessary, but because bankers hesitated to do their duty to their customers, except under the shelter of its protecting wing. Nothing can be more erroneous, or, indeed, more mischievous, than the doctrine that it is the duty of the Bank of England to keep the “reserve” of the whole country, simply on the ground that, for Clearing House purposes, it suits the convenience of bankers to entrust them with large balances, and because they act as agents for the Government in automatically regulating the note issue of the kingdom.

The business of the Banking Department—which, except as regards the magnitude of its transactions, and the current accounts of other bankers and of the Government, differs but little from that of any other London banks—is carried on chiefly in the Private Drawing Office, the Public Drawing Office, the Discount Office, and the Bill and Post Bill Offices. Besides these offices there are the Dividend Pay Office, devoted to the cash payment of dividends, and the Chief Cashier’s Office, where advances on securities and the various public loans are initiated, and to which is attached the private room of the chief cashier, which for the most part corresponds with the manager’s room in any ordinary bank. In the Private Drawing Office are kept the private accounts of the general customers of the Bank, a separate counter being reserved for the exclusive convenience of bankers. It is a popular error to suppose that the conditions of keeping an account with the Bank of England differ in any essential particular from those of most of the other banks. A satisfactory introduction will enable any one to open an account, and no restriction is placed upon the amount of balance to be kept, except that if it does not prove remunerative to the Bank a charge is made in proportion to the amount of trouble and expense involved. Roughly speaking, a remunerative balance in ordinary cases is considered to be an average balance throughout the year of one pound for each cheque drawn. Thus if a customer draws two hundred cheques in a year and keeps an average balance of £200 his account is probably considered remunerative. Cheques may be drawn on the Bank of any amount however small,235 though there was, I believe, many years ago, a sort of understanding that customers should not draw cheques for an amount under five pounds. The Public Drawing Office, as its name implies, is devoted to the custody of the drawing accounts of the Government and various public companies and institutions. The Discount Office is charged with the reception of all bills offered for discount by parties who have opened discount accounts with the Bank. These bills are submitted to a committee of directors (sitting daily for the purpose) who decide upon the amount of accommodation to be granted and the rate of discount to be charged. The net proceeds of the bills discounted are then passed to the credit of the customer’s account, while the bills themselves are entrusted to the care of the Bill Office, which occupies itself with the duty of sorting and arranging them (together with bills belonging to customers) so that they may be duly presented for payment at maturity. In the Post Bill Office the Bank issue to the public their acceptances at seven or sixty days’ sight, technically called “Bank post bills,” for any required amount, in even or uneven sums. The amount of business transacted in this office has considerably diminished of late years, owing to similar facilities being granted by bankers generally throughout the country. The Bank of England have nine country branches, which keep separate accounts for the Issue and Banking departments, and the particulars of each day’s transactions, together with the balance sheets, are posted nightly to the Branch Banks Office in London, through which office all the correspondence and business transactions connected with the branches are carried on. There is also one branch in London at the West-End.

The economy of the Bank of England is controlled by the Governor, the Deputy-Governor, and twenty-four Directors. The clerical machinery is divided into the “Cash side” and the “Accountant’s side.” The former, under the practical charge of the chief cashier, comprises the transaction of all business where actual cash is concerned, together with the necessary book-keeping which it involves; the latter, under the charge of the chief accountant, takes236 cognizance of all matters of pure book-keeping where no actual cash is concerned, such as those which relate to the National Debt accounts, the registration of Bank notes, and so on. In olden times these divisions were kept much more distinct than they are at present. There was formerly a certain antagonism between the two “chiefs” which, however, has long since disappeared, and they now live together in a state of remarkable harmony, without even fighting over the question of precedence which the chief accountant is supposed to claim—mainly, I fancy, on alphabetical grounds, because A comes before C. The supervision of each office on both “sides” of the Bank, is intrusted to a principal and deputy-principal, who are accountable in the first place to the chief cashier or chief accountant, as the case may be, and afterwards to a committee of directors. The secretary is a separate officer of the Bank. He stands midway, as it were, between the two “sides,” having certain relations with each. He nurses the charter, and sees that its forms and ceremonies are complied with; he records the proceedings of the courts, summons and attends all committees, and “picks up their bits.” He waits upon the governors, and does odd literary jobs, stops notes, puts the candidates for clerkship through their preliminary examination, collects income-tax, and grants orders to view the Bank, &c. His duties, in short, are as multifarious as those of the General Post Office, and it is satisfactory to think that they are as equally well performed by the present incumbent and his staff.

The total number of employés all told in the Bank is about 1,100, and the salary list, including pensions, is about £300,000 per annum. There is an excellent library and reading-room in the Bank, to which the directors have liberally contributed both money and books. There are also a Widows’ Fund and Guarantee Society, a Life Insurance Company, a Volunteer Company, and a Club, or dining room, where clerks can dine cheaply and well, connected with the Bank, which owe very much of their prosperity to the liberality and kind consideration of the directors. The governors and directors of the Bank divide between them £14,000 per an237num. Of this the governors receive £1,000 each and the directors £500 each. Beyond the status which their position gives them, they derive no benefit from their office, while they tax themselves most liberally by their contributions towards the welfare of their clerks. The governor and deputy-governor remain in office for two years only, and this short tenure of office is, with considerable reason, thought to be detrimental to the efficient and consistent administration of the functions of government. The great blot of the system seems to be the want of continuity of policy which is engendered. A governor, let us say, is an enlightened financier; for two years his policy is paramount; but his successor then comes, and perhaps reverses everything, and the onus of the change, so far as the Bank customers are concerned, is left to be borne by the permanent officers of the Bank, who have perhaps never been consulted in the matter, or whose opinions, based on the experience of many years, may be ruthlessly ignored. The two years’ system undoubtedly has its advantages in the constant introduction of new blood, it also strengthens the governors from above and below the chair. The directors below the chair give the governor a loyal and hearty support, because they feel that one day their own turn may come, while those above the chair, having passed through the ordeal, know the value of their colleagues’ support. But the result of this238 is nevertheless the institution of a sort of one-man power, which is well enough when there is a Hubbard, Hodgson, or Crawford in the chair, or if there is a Baring, Hambro, Rothschild, or Goschen to follow, but which may have its disadvantages.

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



One great temptation to the exploration of the world is rapidly passing away. There is little to be found that will gratify the love of the marvellous. Of an absolutely new land there is now no lingering hope. We know enough of the ocean to be sure that there exists no undiscovered continent, no unsuspected peninsula—unless it be in the Antarctic circle—and no island large enough to be either of value or of interest. It is not, it is true, many years since Saghalien, which was supposed to be a peninsula, was discovered to be an island; a new island near Spitzbergen was found the other day; and there may be an unnamed islet or two in the North Pacific still awaiting visitors; or a rock in the Indian Ocean, as forgotten by all mankind as that strange British dependency, the Chagos group—a series of hill-tops just peering above the water—is by nearly all Englishmen; but such discoveries can only be classed as rectifications of detail in geography. They neither arouse imagination nor stimulate enterprise, as the old discoveries did; nor can there be many more of them. The coasts of the world and its oceans have been surveyed by the persistent energy of240 half-a-dozen Governments, who have gone on with their work unnoticed for more than a century; and the water-system of the little planet has been thoroughly explored. The survey of the land is less complete; but it is advancing, as the Scotchman said of Sunday, “with fearful regularity.” What with England, Germany, France, Portugal, the African Association, Mr. Thomson, Mr. Johnston, and the merchants hunting for bargains, we shall soon be in possession of a perfect map of Africa; and are already tolerably certain that no unknown race exists, and that there is no considerable space in which we are likely to find either new animals, or a new flora of any but scientific importance. The kind of delight which woke among men when the first giraffe was caught, or the first kangaroo was exactly sketched, is not, we fear, a delight reserved for this generation. There is just a faint hope of such a “find” when we get fairly inside New Guinea; but it is only faint. There may be a buried city somewhere in the back of Peru, as interesting as the ruined city in Cambodia, and Yucatan might repay much more patient searching than it has received; while there are spaces in Thibet unknown to white men, and a province or two outside Afghanistan which even Russians have not visited. Indeed, if rumor does not lie, they discovered a village a few weeks ago which no official had seen for eighty years, and where the people were entirely self-governing; but the story looks a little mythical, and the people thus discovered were still only Russians. Brazil has not been thoroughly searched, but knowledge of its contents accumulates at Rio, and its less-visited provinces are known to be almost blank; and now Mr. im Thurn, with his patient courage, jumping upwards from rock to rock and tree to tree, has revealed the mystery of Roraima, the secret mountain-top in Guiana which a correspondent of our own first set the world agog to discover. It is a plateau, twelve miles by four, entirely bare of trees, with no animals upon its surface, which is full of small lakes, and with nothing to repay the explorer except the consciousness of victory, a magnificent prospect, and a few orchids which fashionable gardeners will hardly prize. There is no clan living up241 there isolated from mankind for a few thousand years; and the wonderful animals of which the Indians talked, and which should, if the fear of man is not instinctive, but only a result of centuries of distrust, have trotted up to Mr. im Thurn saying, “Come, sketch me,” existed only in the wild imaginations of men who honestly believe that all dreams are real, and who cannot completely dissociate their own thoughts from the subjects of their thoughts—the possible explanation of many a rare old legend. So disappears one more though remote hope of scientific excitement. There are not many Roraimas in the world; and when some bold gold-seeker has traversed Eastern Peru, and some adventurous Frenchman, with muskets for sale, has forced his way up among the Shans behind Laos, and the African land-grabbers have met, as they will meet, and the first Australian has killed the first German in the centre of New Guinea, there will be little left for the explorer, who now shakes his head over the wonderful dream we heard a missionary recount thirty-five years ago,—that in the depths of Australia we might yet discover a buried town, and evidences of a civilisation which had rotted-down till its survivor was only an aborigine who had forgotten fire. How that discovery would delight the Duke of Argyll, giving him the victory in his life-long defence of the possibility of utter degeneracy! But we fear that the pleasure—which, as hard-headed thinker, he well deserves—is not reserved for him.

We fancy exploration, to become again thoroughly interesting, must be directed towards things, rather than places; the whole world being searched for things of value, and especially new dyes, new fibres, and new foods. We have always thought that there was nearly as much to interest men in Mr. Fortune’s hunt of years for the green indigo—which undoubtedly exists, though he failed to find it—as in any exploration of a new island. The delight of the American who has just discovered a cotton-plant six times as fruitful as the old variety, must be very keen, and not altogether tainted by the reflection—though that is unavoidable—that in such a plant there must be dollars. Just imagine what that242 man would do for mankind who found a new and vigorous potato, different from the plant which now grows in Ireland, and which is, according to a writer in the Cornhill, being propagated by cuttings, which is a single undivided plant, liable to inherit, through all its millions of apparently separate existences, the weaknesses of the original tuber, and liable also to exhaustion, as of old age. It has no children; only a power, so to speak, of having bits of its flesh cut off and planted. It is never renewed from seeds, and so, by all the analogies of Nature, will perish; though the banana, which also is never renewed—and, indeed, in one variety, has become seedless—has lasted ages. It is quite possible that there are only two bananas in the world. Or imagine a new and successful cereal,—a real one in the true silica armor, with a head twice as heavy, and grains twice as nutritious, as those of wheat. Why should wheat be the final source of bread? Man got saccharine matter from all sorts of things—grapes, honey, and fruits—from the earliest times; but he was old in the world, and had passed through many civilisations, before he discovered the cane and crushed the beet, and so got his present boundless store of sugar. A cereal as fruitful as wheat and as hardy as rye would change the face of Northern Europe; while one which could flourish on exhausted soil or in a damp climate, might affect the distribution of mankind. The direct gain of mankind from such a discovery might be counted by hundreds of millions; and we know of no law of Nature which should prevent it, and of no guarantee that the cultivating races have exhausted search. They most of them, in the early ages, when they longed for substitutes for fish, and meat, and berries, must have clutched the first edible grass they could find without much hunting for better. Farmers will smile, but there may be grains they never saw. Mincing Lane thinks it knows all about tea, and, no doubt, does know a good deal; but Mr. Alexander Hosie, of the Chinese Consular service, has eaten and drank a tea which needs no sugar. At least, in the fascinating Report which he has presented to Sir H. Parkes, and which has just been published by Parliament to243 teach travellers how to observe, while recording the result of his hunt after white tree-wax, he says:—“I come now to the last class of tea, the discovery of Mr. Baber. If my memory is not at fault, he was regaled by a priest on Mount Olmei with tea possessing both the flavor of milk and sugar. It may have been in the very temple on the mountain-side in which I am now writing that Mr. Baber was agreeably surprised. At anyrate, I am sipping an infusion which is without doubt sweet, and which is declared by the priest to be brewed from a naturally-prepared tea-leaf. It is a large dark-brown leaf, and is very sweet when chewed. The people at the bottom of the mountain, whom I first questioned regarding this tea, asserted that the leaves were sweet because they were first steeped in molasses; but the balance of evidence, as I have since found from extensive inquiry, is against any such artificial preparation. The tree is said to grow in only one gorge in the mountain, whence the leaves are brought for sale.” What will Mincing Lane give for a shipload of that tea, the very existence of which, till drunk and eaten, the dealers would have regarded as a solemn joke? Men are wise about silk-culture in Italy and Southern France; but they do not know, as the Chinese told Mr. Hosie, that the mulberry-leaf is too strong food for baby-silkworms, and that the wretched little insect, if you want plenty of silk, should be fed-up in earliest infancy on the leaves of a silkworm thorn-tree, fifteen feet high, unknown to Europeans, though Mr. Hosie found it everywhere in Szechuen, growing by the road-sides, and as hardy as the thorns, of which it is a variety, usually are. How much difference in annual cash-earnings would the importation of that thorn make in Lombardy? Why should not the Governments, which so steadily map-out the seas, even combining to do it, institute a patient and exhaustive search for new grasses able to produce flour, and new vegetables fit for eating? They might not produce many Mr. Hosies, who, if the Members of Parliament read his Report, will very soon find himself as well-known in London as any popular author; but they also might. The men like Mr. Fortune and Mr. Hosie, the men whose244 observation nothing escapes, are not rare among botanists, and would need but little encouragement to carry on for years a persistent inquiry which, if carefully limited to defined objects, would almost certainly produce some considerable result. The work, it will be said, is one for Societies; but it seems a pity to waste the great resource which Governments possess in the wide distribution of their agencies, and in their power of carrying-on their inquiries without reference to time. There will be a Legation at Pekin and Lima, and Jeddo, and Teheran, a hundred years hence; and one official inquirer who records everything, and is replaced when he departs, and is always protected and treated with civility, can, in that space of time, accumulate much knowledge, and will cost but little money. It is organised and protracted inquiry, not a mere spasmodic effort, that we want to see, and that will benefit mankind. Let the Societies hunt for their rare orchids, and plants with lovely blooms, and all245 manner of scientific novelties, and let the Governments promote the search for prosaic things which the ordinary inquirer will neglect. We shall find no new edible animal, we fear, unless it be some variety of goat which can be bred into fatness, and made to yield sweet meat—kid properly cooked, that is, roasted to death, is better than most mutton—but a new cereal is clearly a possibility, and might be worth all the botanical discoveries made since the settlers in Virginia sent home the potato. The late Mr. Bagehot, who was always dropping witty wisdom, used to say that the wildest speculator he ever heard of was the first man who dropped grain into the earth and waited till it grew up, and to regret that his name, like that of the discoverer of fire, and of the first man who mastered a horse, was for ever lost. We think we may venture to say that the name of the man who next discovers a cereal of true value will not be.—The Spectator.



About five-and-twenty years ago, I happened to be engaged in the service of my country in a distant part of the world. The duties which devolved upon me threw me into a daily contact with a Russian officer similarly employed. Notwithstanding the conflicting interests which we severally represented, and the somewhat delicate and often strained relations resulting therefrom, we had not been long in each other’s society without becoming sensible of a personal sympathy too powerful to be resisted, and which soon ripened into an intimacy which lasted for many years; indeed we were thrown so exclusively upon our own resources, deprived as we were of all other society, that we must probably soon either have become bitter enemies or fast friends. A certain similarity of taste, I had almost said of aspiration, forced upon us the latter alternative; and it was probably due to this that we were enabled to bring the special duties upon which we were engaged to a successful conclusion, whereby we earned the approval of our respective Governments,—represented in his case by a decoration, and in mine by a curt complimentary despatch; for in those days C.B.’s and C.M.G.’s were not flung about with the lavish profusion which has since so largely depreciated their value. It was a relief, when the labors of the day were over—which had taxed all our powers of ingenuity and forbearance, and we had fatigued our brains by inventing compromises and devising solutions which should satisfy the susceptibilities of our respective Governments—to jump on our horses and take a sharp dash across country, just by way of clearing our brains of diplomatic cobwebs. Generally we played at follow-my-leader, and we took it in turns to be leader; for we were both young, and had, in fact, been weighted with responsibilities beyond our years, which made us rush into a reaction that consisted in an active endeavor to break our necks every afternoon with all the keener zest,—to the intense astonishment of the natives of the uncivilised region to which we had been temporarily banished.247 Then, as we jogged slowly home, we would fall into those discussions, on social, religious, psychological, and moral problems, by which our souls were vexed, which lasted through dinner, and often far into the night. I found in my companion an earnestness, depth, and originality of sentiment which were most remarkable in one so young, the more especially as I had not supposed that his training and early associations had been of a character to develop that side of his nature; possibly the very restraints to which he had been subjected had stimulated his instincts for independent thought and speculation. Knowing English, French, and German almost as well as his mother-tongue, he had read extensively and greedily in all three languages; and, owing to certain family circumstances, he had spent the most part of his life away from his native land, applying himself, with an acuteness and a faculty of observation extraordinary in one so young, to a study of the political institutions, social conditions, and national characteristics of the different European countries in which he had lived. So precocious did his intelligence appear to me in this respect, that I soon came to consider myself in some degree a sort of disciple; and I have always been conscious that his influence during the nine months that we were together affected my own subsequent views of life, and indeed to some extent moulded my future. In the course of these discussions he unburdened himself to me on all subjects as fully as he would have done to a brother—indeed, considering who his brother was, far more freely; and did not shrink from commenting upon the social and political condition of his own country, and from giving vent to opinions which would probably have consigned him to the mines of Siberia for life had he been known to entertain them. The confidence which he thus displayed towards me only served to bind us more closely together, though I was ever haunted by the fear that the day might come when he might misplace it, with consequences which might be fatal to himself. As he was absolutely devoid of all personal ambition, this would be of little moment, if it only resulted in the abrupt termination of his career, which, from248 his natural independence of character, I anticipated could not long be postponed. It occurred even sooner than I expected. Within six months of my parting from him, I received a letter in which he told me he had fallen into disgrace, and was going to live in Italy. The exigencies of my own service had taken me to a very different part of the world; but we kept up, nevertheless, an active correspondence for some years, during which he occasionally sent me notes of a book he was writing, in letters which continued to exhibit more and more the results of his extensive reading and profound faculty of observation, philosophic speculation and generalisation. Suddenly, about fifteen years ago, and without a word of warning, these ceased. All my letters remained unanswered; and when, some time afterwards, I found myself in Rome, and inquired at the address to which I had sent them, it was only to learn that the present proprietors of the house were comparatively new people, and had never heard of him. Meantime I had myself retired from the service, and being of a wandering and unsettled disposition, had only returned to my own country for a few months at a time. I had lived too long in summer climes, and under less conventional restraints, to be happy in it; but one of my constant regrets was that I had never thought of providing my Russian friend with a permanent address, so that in case of his ever being able or willing to communicate with me again, he might know where to find me. Meanwhile I could only account for his silence by the painful supposition that he had in some manner incurred the severe displeasure of his Government, and was languishing in that distant semi-arctic region which is hermetically sealed to all communication with the outside world.

My delight may easily be imagined, therefore, when scarce two months ago, chancing to be a passenger on board a steamer in the Mediterranean, I found myself seated the first day at dinner next to a man, the tones of whose voice I thought I recognised, though I was for a moment puzzled by the alteration in his general appearance, and who turned out to be my long-lost friend, upon whom, as I looked at the furrows on his249 countenance, I saw that something more than time—though it had extended over twenty-five years—had worked a change. This same interval had, doubtless, done something for me; so we both looked at each other for a moment in hesitation before permitting the joy of mutual recognition to burst forth. We soon found, on comparing notes, that we had been longing to find each other, and that nothing now prevented our pitching our tent together on the sunny Mediterranean shore, in the hope and belief that we should find that the companionship which had suited us so well twenty-five years previously, would only be rendered more full of interest and profit by the experiences which we had undergone since that period; nor had we conversed an hour before we became convinced that, however much we might have changed in outward appearance, our affection for each other, and our human sympathies generally, had undergone no alteration. It is therefore in a villa surrounded by orange-groves, with terraces overlooking the sea, built curiously into the fissures of impending rock, that I am writing this; or, to be more strictly accurate, I should say it is in a summer-house attached to the villa, fifty feet beneath which the sea is rippling in ceaseless murmur, while my friend, stretched on a Persian rug in the shade formed by the angle of the wall with the overhanging rock, here covered with a creeping jasmine, heavy with blossom, is watching the smoke of his cigarette, and listening while I read to him passages here and there of the notes which I had taken of our last night’s conversation. It had been suggested by the arrival of letters and newspapers from England, and it occurred to me that the remarks of my friend as a calm and unprejudiced observer upon the present political, social, and moral condition of my own country, possessed a value which justified me in asking his permission to be allowed to publish them, the more so as he had just returned from spending some months in London; and he was of far too liberal and philosophical a temperament and cosmopolitan training and sympathy to be influenced by national prejudice; while, had he ever been once biassed by it, the treatment he had undergone at250 the hands of his own Government would have long since effectually removed it.

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

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

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

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

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

“When your Government gets into difficulties,”said Ivan,251 “it certainly goes to work to get out of them in a way exactly the opposite to that which other European Governments, and especially we in Russia, are in the habit of pursuing. Foreign policy is with us the great safety-valve by which the bubbling passions of the country find a vent, and our central authority takes refuge from its troubles in foreign wars and schemes of territorial aggrandisement; your Government pursues a diametrically opposite system, and considers, apparently, that its best chance of safety lies in stirring up domestic broils, and exciting the people to fever-heat of political passion among themselves. In other words, while our statesmen believe that they can best secure their own positions and avert the perils arising from mis-government by distracting public attention from internal affairs and rushing into dangers abroad, yours hope to escape the consequences of their blunders abroad by promoting revolutionary tendencies at home. It would be curious to analyse the causes which have resulted in such opposite political methods, the more especially as both, in their different ways, are equally prejudicial to the highest national interests, and, from a philosophical point of view, would furnish a most interesting political and sociological study. As it is, my own country produces upon me the effect of a dashing young woman, still intoxicated with her youthful conquests and greedy for more, while she refuses to admit that a gnawing disease is preying upon her vitals, still less to apply any remedies to it; in yours, on the other hand, I seem to see an old woman in her dotage, who makes blatant and canting profession of that virtue which her age and feebleness have imposed upon her as a necessity, while she paints, and rouges, and pampers herself with luxury, and fritters away the little strength and energy she still possesses in absorbing herself with domestic details and the quarrels of her servants, and leaves her vast estates to take care of themselves. Considering the dangers with which both countries are menaced, the great difference which I observed between the Governments of the two countries is, that in one, government takes the form of active insanity—in the other, of drivelling imbecility. After all, there is always more hope for a young lunatic than an old idiot. We may pull through all right yet, but we shall have a very rough time to pass through first.”

“And you think that we are too far gone ever to do so,”I remarked, rather252 discouraged by the gloomy view he took of the present condition and future prospects of my native country.”

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

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

“In using the term to which you object,” said Ivan,—“which, after reading the language recently used in debate in your House of Commons, I maintain is strictly parliamentary,—I was not so much alluding to England as to its Government; and I will endeavor to explain to you the reasons which lead me to think that the expression is not misapplied. There are at the present day, including the population of the United States, between eighty and ninety millions of people who owe their origin to the British Isles; who speak the English language as their mother-tongue; who possess in a more or less degree the national characteristics of the race from which they have sprung; who exercise an influence over a greater area of the surface of the earth than that of any other race upon it; who directly control over 250 millions of people not of their own race, and indirectly control many millions more; whose commercial relations are more extensive than those of all the other nations of the world put together; whose wealth is unrivalled; whose political institutions have hitherto served as a model, as they have been the envy of less favored peoples; and who may be said, without fear of contradiction, to lead the van of the world’s civilisation. It is difficult, when we spread a map out before us, to253 realise that so small a dot as Great Britain appears upon it, should have given birth to these stupendous forces; and one is led to examine into the processes by which so marvellous a position has been achieved in the world’s history as that which these small islands must occupy, even though that position seems now about to be destroyed by what appears to an outsider to be a combination of national decrepitude and administrative impotence,—for it is only when a nation has itself lost its vigor, that it tolerates imbecility on the part of its rulers. The greatness of England has been built up, not on the conquests of its neighbors, or of nations equally civilised with itself, as we have seen occur in the cases of other great empires, but in the comparatively easy subjugation of barbarous peoples; in the occupation and colonisation of countries sparingly inhabited by savage races; in the material development of vast tracts of the earth’s surface; in the creation of new markets, of new sources alike of supply and of demand; and in the energetic and profitable employment of capital in all the regions of the earth. This was possible, and possible only because her adventurous sons who went forth into wild and distant regions to occupy, to develop, and to create, always felt that they had behind them a motherland whose proud boast it was that she ruled the waves, and a nation and Government so thoroughly animated by their own daring and adventurous spirit, that they knew that none were too humble or insignificant to be watched over and protected; nay, more, they were encouraged in hardy enterprises, and often assisted to carry them out.

“During the last two or three years, the circumstances of my life, into which it is not necessary for me now to enter, have forced me not merely to circumnavigate the globe, but especially to visit those British possessions, and those seaboards of lands still relative if barbarous, upon which your countrymen are so thickly dotted as merchants or settlers, and where British subjects of foreign race abound, who carry on their avocations under that British protection which used to be a reality, but is now only a name. Familiar as I have been with Englishmen from my youth, I254 found a spirit of bitter discontent rife, which, even among your grumbling race, was altogether a new feature in their conversation, especially with a foreigner. Many were making arrangements to close up their business and abandon the commerce in which they were engaged; some, and this was especially the case among the British subjects of foreign race, were taking steps to change their nationality. In some of the colonies the language held sounded to my Russian ears little short of high treason; while I often heard Englishmen in the society of foreigners say that they were ashamed to call themselves Englishmen—a sentiment which I do not remember ever having heard one of your countrymen give vent to in my youth.

“I only mention these as illustrations of the fact which was forcibly impressed upon me during my travels, that the influence of England was waning, not in Europe, where it has waned, but where it might be recovered by a vigorous stroke of policy,—but in Asia, Africa, and America—in those continents from which she derives her position and her wealth. The waning of British influence in Europe means, comparatively, nothing, so far as British commerce is concerned. The waning of that influence in the three other continents means national decay. It has not been by her great wars, her European campaigns, that England has achieved greatness, but by her little ones in those distant countries which your Government seems ready to retire from, bag and baggage, at the first word of a new-comer; and yet one would suppose that nothing could be clearer to a people not in its dotage than this, that if they do not protect their merchants, the latter will not be able to compete with those who are protected. If you desire proof of this, look at the increasing substitution of German for English houses of commerce all over the world; and if commerce languishes, food becomes dearer for those very classes who cry out against those little wars which, when wisely turned to account have proved your best national investments, and have been the indirect means of giving food and employment to your starving millions. I see that there is some talk of255 a committee being appointed to inquire into the causes of the depression of trade. Those causes are not very far to seek; or rather, in another sense, they are very far to seek. You must travel from China to Peru to find them, and they will stare you in the face. I have been watching, while you are squabbling over your Franchise and your Redistribution Bills, how your trade is slipping from you. So you go on fiddling on the two strings of your electoral fiddle, while Rome is burning. One would have supposed that England was old enough by this time to have discovered that it would not improve her voters to give them another shuffle; that she had experience enough to know that electors were like playing cards, the more you shuffle them the dirtier they get. With the interests of the empire at stake, certainly in two if not in three continents, you play the ostrich, and bury your heads in parish politics—parish politics of the most pestilent and useless description. 256

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

“I am a good deal surprised,”I remarked, after having listened to the unflattering utterances of my friend with some dissatisfaction, “that you entirely ignore all other considerations than those of mere policy and expediency. Granting, as you say, that the present policy of England imperils its commercial ascendency, are no other considerations to be allowed to guide the policy of a nation than those connected with its pocket? Have we no moral duties to perform, no example to set, no principles to maintain? Or are we ever to remain a nation of shopkeepers, fighting unscrupulously for markets; grabbing the territory of savages, under the pretext of civilising them, which is usually accomplished by the process of extermination; and jostling all other comers out of the markets of the world by fair means or foul? Because these means served us some centuries ago, and because, if you will, our national greatness is built upon them, does it follow that we should cling to them in these more enlightened days? If the moral instinct of the people of England begins to revolt against them, even to the prejudice of the national purse, do our money-bags constitute a sufficient reason why we should remain in the Cimmerian darkness and brutality of the middle ages? Of all men you were the last whom I expected to hear confound moral progress with political imbecility.” 259

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

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

“Doubtless; and in this I agree with them. Indeed, the incapacity they have shown to protect what they have got, is the best reason they could assign for being unwilling to have more; but it does not touch the question of the principle upon which England’s policy should be based in her dealings with foreign nations, and with her own colonial possessions; in other words, what are the most economical and at the same time the most moral methods of self-preservation? I put economy before morality, because, whatever may be the professions of Governments in practice, as a consideration, it always precedes it. If bloodguiltiness was not always attended with so much expense, people’s consciences would be far less sensitive on the subject. Hence it happens that highly moral financiers are apt260 to regard things as wicked in the degree in which they are costly, while they are too short-sighted as statesmen to perceive that a prompt expenditure is often the best way of saving a far heavier amount, which must be the result of the delay—or, in homely phraseology, that a stitch in time saves nine. The most economical and the most moral method of self-preservation, then, will be found in consolidating, protecting, and extending the commercial position and moral influence of the great English-speaking people in all quarters of the globe. At this moment, though surrounded by enemies who envy and hate her, there is no country more safe from attack than Germany, because she is governed by a statesman who never shirks responsibility, cowers before danger, or, in moments of difficulty, takes refuge in compromise or concession. It is not England, with her horror of war, that has, during the last decade, been the Power which has prevented a European war, otherwise inevitable, from breaking forth; the statesman to whom the peace of Europe has been due, upon whom that peace now depends, and who is therefore doing the most for the moral progress of Europe, is exactly that statesman who never indulges in moral platitudes, and whom his worst enemy cannot accuse of hypocrisy. No one will pretend that peace is not more conducive to economy and moral progress than war; but to secure it, a great military position and a great national prestige are alike indispensable. England has, or should have, the first naval position in the world, and, until lately, her national prestige was second to none. These advantages confer on her great responsibilities; to part with them is to diminish her powers of usefulness in the world, and her mission of civilising it. As the champion of civil and religious liberty, she owes a duty to humanity, which it would be a crime alike in the eyes of God and man for her to relinquish, even though it may cost blood and treasure to maintain it,—for the amount expended to maintain it would be as nothing compared to the sacrifices of both life and money which the abandonment of this duty would entail upon the world. I speak feelingly, for I cannot conceive a greater disaster be261fall the human race, than to see the place of England usurped by the nation of which I have the honor of being a humble member,”here Ivan smiled bitterly.262 “So absorbed are you in your own vestry quarrels, that you either forget or are ignorant of the place you occupy in the regard of millions, who see in England the apostle of free thought, free speech, free institutions. Your standard, which we look up to as the flag of liberty, and which should be nailed to the mast, we watch you with dismay lowering to every piratical craft, while the crew are fighting about a distribution of provisions, and the pilot seems to prefer running his ship on the rocks to boldly facing the enemy’s cruisers. Nothing strikes us members of the oppressed and suppressed races as more anomalous and incomprehensible, than the fact that the party in England which are most ready to compromise the honor of that flag, and to haul it down on the least provocation, are precisely that party who are most loud-tongued in their profession of sympathy for those races to whom it is the banner on which their hopes are fixed—the symbol in their eyes of progress, civilisation, and political freedom. Hence it is that all those among us who are not absolute anarchists, find ourselves unconsciously withdrawing our sympathies from that political party in your country, who, while they style themselves the party of progress and of advanced thought, are in reality compromising the cause which I feel sure they honestly cherish and believe in, by destroying the prestige and lowering the influence of the one European Power which is its great representative—and, to our own great wonderment, are beginning rather to pin our hopes for the future upon those whom we have hitherto considered reactionary, because they called themselves Conservative and aristocratic, but who, in this crisis of the fortunes of their country, resist a policy calculated to impair its supremacy. Thus, on a higher principle than that appealed to by the political moralists who direct the helm of State, may the best interests of morality be reconciled with those of their own country; for it is by maintaining the supremacy of England that the principle which is identified with her institutions, her traditions, and the aspirations of her people, can be best secured in the interests of that universal society of which she forms part, and towards which she undoubtedly has moral obligations and responsibilities. The party which seeks to evade them, whether upon specious theories started by doctrinaires ignorant of international conditions, or upon penny-wise and pound-foolish grounds of economy, are in reality the party of reaction; for they are the best allies of reactionists, and are playing into their hands, as no people have better reason for knowing than the Russians, who have observed with dismay the sympathy of your Prime Minister with ‘the divine figure of the North,’ as he has styled our ruler, and his methods of government; while from our point of view, the party of progress in England, let them call themselves Conservative if they so please, are those who, true to the grand traditions of the country, are determined to keep it in the van of freedom, not merely because its wealth and prosperity are due to that absolute civil and political liberty which imposed no check upon individual enterprise or achievement, but because with the preservation of its greatness are bound up the most cherished interests of the human race.”

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

“Not at all,”he rejoined;263 “I ended by describing her splendid position and advantages. I called her an old idiot for either being unconscious of them, or throwing them away consciously. And I ventured to add a word of encouragement to those who are struggling to prevent these being thrown away, and to assure them that, in their resistance to the short-sighted and fatuous policy of their present rulers, they have the cordial sympathy of philosophic Liberals like myself (I am not now speaking of Socialists and Nihilists, whose lands are against all parties) all over Europe. One of your own most eminent philosophers, himself a Liberal, has recently written a book, in which he has shown the danger by which the true principle of liberty is threatened from the reactionary tendencies of the democratic autocracy. I merely wish to assure you that we in Europe are fully alive to this danger, and dread as much the despotism which springs from the divine right of mobs, as from that of kings. There is to my mind as little of God in the vox populi as in an Imperial ukase; and our only safety between these two extremes, which I should rather be disposed to call infernal than divine, lies in the common-sense, patriotism, and virtue of those statesmen, politicians, and lawyers who, holding a middle course between them, as being both equally dangerous to the principles of true liberty, endeavor not merely to preserve the institutions of that country which is the home of liberty, but, by maintaining its supremacy, enable it to resist attacks from whatever quarter.”

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

“That I entirely deny,”responded Ivan, “as I think I can prove to you in a very few words. But before doing so, allow me to express my surprise at your admission that, because you were a Liberal in the days of Lord Palmerston, who was pre-eminently the representative of the policy which I have advocated as being that which should animate a British statesman, your sympathies should extend to those who, while they wear the old party livery, have entirely departed from the old party lines. His mantle has indeed fallen upon them, but they have so completely turned it inside out that it is no longer recognisable. In the days when a party existed264 which called itself ‘Liberal-Conservative,’ there was no violent political issues at home to check the current of a domestic legislation which was ever steadily progressive; while in foreign affairs the Government of the day, whether it was Conservative or Liberal, followed the well-established traditions of British policy abroad, which, if it had incurred the jealousy of European Powers, at all events commanded their admiration and respect. The utterly inconsistent and perplexing attitude which England has now assumed, so entirely at variance with the principles by which her foreign policy was formerly governed, must of necessity deprive her of all sympathy abroad, for she has proved herself totally untrustworthy as an ally—while all true Liberals must deplore the agitation which has resulted from a domestic legislation that has a tendency unnecessarily to exacerbate party feeling, and drive people into violently opposite extremes. Nothing is more fatal to all real progress than a wild and unreasoning rush in the direction in which it is supposed to lie, because the inevitable consequence is a reaction most probably equally unreasoning. Moreover, these violent swings of the political pendulum must always be attended with the greatest possible danger. A Conservative triumph which is purchased at the price of acts of folly, rashness, or weakness, perpetrated by their opponents, is paid for by the country, and is but a sorry bargain. It is not under such violently disturbing influences that sound and healthy Liberal progress is made. And all history proves that the liberty which is born in convulsions invariably degenerates into a license which culminates in a tyranny. 266

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




Blackstone has now been dead more than a century, but neither lawyers nor laymen have yet made up their minds whether he was an intellectual giant, or only a second-rate man of letters, with a little learning and a pretty style, who acquired popularity because he flattered the English constitution. His friends have pitched high their eulogy. Sir William Jones, speaking to the freeholders of Middlesex, who had little reason to love Blackstone, called him the pride of England, and in a grave legal treatise referred to the Commentaries as the most correct and beautiful outline that ever was exhibited of any human science. Hargrave, fresh from annotating Coke upon Littleton, described him as an almost second Hale, and that as it were in the very presence of Hale, in a volume of tracts half filled with Hale’s legal lore. “To me,” said Mr. Justice Coleridge, the nephew of the poet, and one of Blackstone’s many editors, “the Commentaries appear in the light of a national property, which all should be anxious to improve to the uttermost, and which no one of proper feeling will meddle with inconsiderately.” And a distinguished German jurist, exaggerating only a little, has said that Englishmen regard the Commentaries as “ein juristisches Evangelium.” The history of the work is in itself remarkable. If we except the Institutes of Justinian, and the De Jure Belli ac Pacis of Grotius, perhaps no law book has been oftener printed. Not to speak of the many adaptations, more or less close, or of the many abridgments of the Commentaries (one of these was “intended for the use of young persons, and comprised in a series of letters from a father to his daughter,”) they have, in their original form, gone through more than twenty complete editions in England since the publication of the first volume in 1765. Nor has the homage of parody—in the shape of a “Comic Blackstone”—been wanting to place them among the classics. In America they have attained at least an equal fame. In the speech on Conciliation, delivered269 in 1775, Burke said that he had heard from an eminent bookseller that nearly as many copies had been sold there as here. Two years later, one of the five members appointed to frame the laws of Virginia seriously proposed that, with suitable modifications, the Commentaries should be taken as their text. There is reason to believe that they are now held in higher esteem in America than among ourselves. The American editions, already nearly as numerous as the English, still continue to multiply,9 while forty years have passed since we have had an English Blackstone with an unmutilated text. His own countrymen are now content to know him through the medium of condensed and often lifeless versions, though it is not so far back since, for those who aspired to the amount of legal knowledge which a gentleman should possess, Blackstone was the very voice of the law. If on many sides Blackstone received the meed of excessive praise, his critics, it must be allowed, did not spare him. They have not been many, but they have spoken so emphatically, and, within certain limits, so unanswerably, that they have aroused suspicion whether, after all, Blackstone may not have been a charlatan. He was naturally regarded with distrust by lawyers of the rigid school, who felt that legal learning was gone if such primers as the Commentaries were to displace the venerable Coke. The book was not many years old before the phrase “Blackstone lawyers” came to be used as synonymous with smatterers in law. But such criticism had a professional ring, and perhaps in the end did the assailed author more good than harm.

If nowadays the name of Blackstone is held in diminished respect, the fact is mainly due to the contempt poured upon him by Bentham and Austin. They mercilessly exposed his shallow and confused philosophy. Bentham, reviewing one by one his opinions on government,270 maintained that they were not so much false as wholly meaningless; and Austin declared that neither in the general conception, nor in the detail of his book, is there a single particle of original and discriminating thought. It is tainted throughout, said the one, with hostility to reform; it was popular, said the other, because it “truckled to the sinister interests and mischievous prejudices of power.” Austin found nothing to praise even in its style, which, though fitted to tickle the ear, seemed to him effeminate, rhetorical, and prattling, and not in keeping with the dignity of the subject.

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

Few authors ever had a clearer field. Long before his day, indeed, the immense growth of the law had been regarded as a heavy burden. Lawyers271 groaned, just as they groan now, over the increasing accumulation of statutes and reports. And yet Coke upon Littleton remained the beginner’s chief guide. Coke called his work the Institutes of the Laws of England; but, whatever its other merits, it lacks every quality which the title would suggest. It is unsystematic, undigested; it makes no pretence of leading its reader from principles to rules; and it spares him the details of no curious anomaly. It is like an overgrown treatise on the subjunctive mood. The need had long been felt for a better work; and the broad outlines had been sketched by Hale in his admirable Analysis of the Civil Part of the Law, which Blackstone followed in every essential feature. Some treatises too had appeared written with a purely educational purpose. Of these the most successful, long recommended as an elementary text-book for students, was the Institutes of Wood, a Buckinghamshire clergyman. It was a praiseworthy attempt to present the law in a methodical form, but it lacked literary merit, and had all the dulness of an epitome. It is memorable only as the book which the Commentaries displaced.

Blackstone saw his opportunity. Perhaps no one else in his time combined in the same degree the qualities which the work required; nor was there any one so capable of writing a law-book, which could be read with interest by educated laymen, and at the same time be accepted as almost authoritative by practising lawyers. Blackstone’s training enabled him to gain the ear of both; for he was not only a lawyer, but a man of letters. His love of literature developed early, and along with it a desire to win literary fame. He does not seem to have read widely, but the pleasure which in his school days he derived from Shakespeare and Milton, Pope and Addison, was dulled neither by advancing years nor by the absorbing demands of the law. “The notes which he gave me on Shakespeare,” said Malone, who used them in his edition, “show him to have been a man of excellent taste and accuracy, and a good critic.” He was something of a poet himself; but the “Lawyer’s Farewell to his Muse,” the “Lawyer’s Prayer,” and the272 “Elegy on the Death of the Prince of Wales,” though they have occasionally been unearthed as curiosities, have long been swept away with other rubbish of the kind. The following lines, which are his best, and in which we feel the very spirit of the Commentaries, will not tempt further even the most diligent seeker after neglected poets. Their historical audacity would amaze Professor Freeman.

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

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

Beyond keeping up a certain interest in architecture, on which in early youth he is said to have composed a treatise, Blackstone seldom allowed himself to be diverted from a persevering and varied study of law. He divided his time between Westminster and Oxford, and long remained undecided whether he should finally settle in the law-courts or among his books. While, with hardly any practice of his own, he was training himself with unusual diligence, as his reports of cases testify, in the practical part of his profession, he had it clearly before him that law is not to be mastered by any one who neglects its history. “In my apprehension,” he said, when he was a student,273 “the learning out of use is as necessary as that of every day’s practice;” and he carried out this belief by making the Commentaries as much a history as an exposition. Even more plainly than in his great work we can see in his edition of Magna Charta and the Charter of the Forest how unflagging were his zeal and patience, and how minute his investigations. His knowledge of general history may have been superficial, as Hallam said it was; he may have had old-fashioned notions about Alfred the Great, even though he does warn his readers against the tendency to ascribe all imaginable things to that king; yet the Commentaries contain what, on the whole, is still the best history written in English of English law.

The plan of the book had long been in his mind; he was indirectly led to carry it out through an attempt of the Duke of Newcastle to corrupt him. Lord Mansfield (then Mr. Murray) recommended him to the chair of civil law at Oxford, which was vacant in 1756, but he lost the appointment, according to report, because he was not hearty enough in promising the duke support “whenever anything in the political hemisphere is agitated in the university.” Murray, hearing of his disappointment, advised him to lecture on his own account upon English law. He took the advice; the novelty of the lectures and their ability made them successful; and when the Vinerian chair of common law was founded in 1758 he was appointed the first professor. Making hardly any change in form, arrangement, or mode of treatment, as appears from his notes which are still extant written in the neatest of hands, he expanded the lectures into the Commentaries. But while he never deviated from his original plan, his store of knowledge grew steadily throughout the fourteen years which elapsed between his first private lectures and the appearance of his work. When the question of ex officio informations was debated in the House of Lords in 1812, Lord Ellenborough spoke of him as follows:274—“Blackstone, when he compiled his lectures, was comparatively an ignorant man; he was merely a fellow of All Souls’ College, moderately skilled in the law! His true and solid knowledge was acquired afterwards. He grew learned as he proceeded with his work. It might be said of him, at the time he was composing his book, that it was not so much his learning that made the book, as it was the book that made him learned.” The Commentaries were not, however, the work of a merely book-learned man; besides his attendance in the courts as a spectator, Blackstone had enjoyed several years of good practice before the first volume appeared; but Ellenborough’s opinion is substantially sound. It is indeed one of the striking facts about Blackstone that while as years went on his mind gained little in breadth, and his fundamental ideas underwent no change, he was able, by simple hard work and with abilities not by any means the highest, to make himself at length one of the really learned lawyers of his time. Several names might be mentioned which on special lines of law stand far above his; but there was no one who rivalled him in that extent of general knowledge which an institutional writer must possess. The Commentaries have won the peculiar distinction of being quoted and of carrying weight in every political discussion which raises questions of constitutional importance, and also of being cited in our courts (though under protest from some rigid judges) as only a little lower than that small group among our law-books which have an inherent, and not merely a reflected, authority. We should do Blackstone grievous wrong if from his popularity we assumed that his knowledge was superficial.

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

There is certainly no profound nor much original thought in Blackstone’s four volumes. Nobody was ever made better able to comprehend a difficulty in English law by means of the notions on laws in general to be found in that famous chapter, which, as Sir Henry Maine275 puts it, may almost be said to have made Bentham and Austin into jurists by virtue of sheer repulsion. They lead to nothing, and explain nothing. They are rather the obeisances made by a polite professor to his subject, or a lawyer’s invocation of his muse, than the necessary foundations of a system. Blackstone repeats the venerable doctrine that human laws depend on the law of nature and the law of revelation, and that no laws are valid which conflict with these; but he never dares to apply it to any rule of English law. And when he comes to speak of parliament and monarchy, he has forgotten that odd proof of the perfection of the British constitution, with its divine combination of power, wisdom, and goodness, of which Bentham made such easy fun. He does not so much as pretend to be original. He is so dependent on others that he adopts not only their opinions but even their language, and by no means always does he let us know that he is quoting. He does not refer to Locke when he is stating, practically in Locke’s words, the theory of the right of society to inflict punishment; he never mentions the name of Burlamaqui, who was his guide, most faithfully followed, in the analysis of laws in general; and he fails to acknowledge half his obligations to Montesquieu.10 Indeed, the free use he makes of Montesquieu’s famous chapter on the English constitution would be appalling, did we not remember that he was only following a professional custom of appropriation, which legal authors have not yet wholly abandoned. There is, in fact, scarcely a single sentence of that chapter which has not, somewhere or other, found its way into the Commentaries; and, as often as not, the Commentator leaves us to infer that the reflections are his own.

In estimating the value of Blackstone’s work, however, we should not make too much of the fact that his general theories are either weak or borrowed. The truth is that when we have got rid of them we have not touched the substance of the work itself; his exposition of English law remains unaffected, whether they be276 true or false. Moreover, these same theories of his have a considerable indirect interest; for as they afford us an opportunity of observing how, at a turning-point in the history of modern thought, certain important ideas acted upon an intellect, which, from its very want of independence and courage, all the better reflected the common opinions of the time. His philosophy exhibits the doctrine of the social contract in a state of decay, and enables us to watch the English mind preparing itself for utilitarianism.

Blackstone refuses to accept the social contract in its naked form; he ridicules the notion of individuals meeting together on a large plain to choose the tallest man present as their governor; and he traces the growth of society upwards from the family living a pastoral life to the settled agricultural community. His conception of social development comes as near the current modern theories as that of any thinker of his century, save Mandeville. But the social contract was too tempting to be altogether abandoned. He speaks of it as a tacit agreement between governor and governed, of protection on the one side and submission on the other, and from this implied agreement he draws conclusions as freely as if it were a historical fact. Stating Locke’s theory without any qualification, he bases upon the contract (for he recurs to the word) the right of society to punish crime. The laws under which thieves suffer were made, he tells us, with their own consent. So he says that the oath of allegiance is nothing more than a declaration in words of what was before implied in law. And he justifies the Revolution on the ground that King James had endeavored to subvert the constitution by breaking the original contract. Believer as he is in the law of nature, Blackstone is more than half a utilitarian. True, he has based all law on both the natural and the revealed law; but by a fortunate coincidence everything that tends to man’s happiness is in accordance with the former. Except where the revealed law applies, the actual rule of life is that man should pursue his own true and substantial happiness. “This,” he says, “is the foundation of what we call ethics or natural law.” Throughout277 the whole of his work his tests are purely those of utility, and with his broad principles of unbending orthodoxy he mingles theories, some of which the most thoroughgoing utilitarian would think too bluntly stated. Repudiating the notion of atonement or expiation, he maintains that punishment is only a precaution against future offences. He treats property as an adventitious right, unknown in the natural state; and to the amazement of some of his editors he has the courage to face the logical result, that theft is punished, not by any natural right, but only because it is detrimental to society. It is a malum prohibitum, not a malum in se. He goes so far as to say that where the law prohibits certain acts under pecuniary penalties, the prohibition does not make the transgression a moral offence, or sin, and that the only obligation in conscience is to submit to the penalty. He affirms as a thing beyond doubt that human laws have no concern with private vices. And he professes to defend the measures which placed Catholics and Dissenters under disabilities, not upon theological grounds, but simply because all dissent is subversive of civil government. We may be sure that Blackstone would not have spoken as he did if he had believed that average men in his time would consider his doctrines offensive; and taking him as an index of contemporary opinion, we can see that the field was ready for Bentham.

Blackstone’s hostility to reform has a special interest. There is, perhaps, no better example to be found in our literature of the typical Englishman, who loves his country, who considers its constitution the best constitution, its laws the best laws, and the liberty which its citizens enjoy the completest liberty which the world has known. He was conservative by circumstances and profession, as well as by temperament. His opinions were formed at a time when men lived politically at a lower level than they ever did before or have done since. No bold reforming spirit could have grown up in the Jacobite unrest of half a century, with the Whigs, to all appearance, permanently seated in power, and desirous of showing that the party of the Revolution was capable of moderation. There was no party of278 progress. No clear line of principle divided Whigs from Tories; so that it became a plausible thesis that they had exchanged positions. There were, in short, no great ideals in the air, which could stimulate to movement such a sluggish man as Blackstone. Perhaps some of his conservatism was due to his profession. The instances are probably rare of an English lawyer, with either extensive practice or great learning, who, on questions of personal liberty, whether of religion or of speech or of trade, has stood far in advance of the average opinion of his age. The profession tends to foster conservatism. The habit of deciding by precedents and usage is not to be shaken off when the mind turns from law to politics; and the men who declared that the common law is the perfection of reason, and who thought that it savored of profanity to speak disrespectfully of common recoveries, could not be expected to doubt the excellence of the British constitution or the necessity of Catholic disabilities. Something, too, must be allowed for the influence of a training which both narrows the scope of reasoning, and within the narrower limits makes it close and unbroken. A mind so schooled will naturally shrink from the gaps in evidence which the innovator must boldly face and overstep. May we not in the same way explain the alleged conservatism of men of science?

The main theme of Blackstone’s teaching is that of contentment with a constitution which to him seemed as nearly perfect as any work of man can be. “Of a constitution,” he says, “so wisely contrived, so strongly raised, and so highly finished, it is hard to speak with that praise which is justly and severely its due: the thorough and attentive contemplation of it will furnish its best panegyric. It has all the elements of stability; for by a graduated scale of dignity from the peasant to the prince, it rises like a pyramid from a broad foundation, diminishing to a point as it rises. It is this ascending and contracting proportion” he says, with the law of gravitation in his mind, “that adds stability to any government.” “All of us have it in our choice,”these are Blackstone’s words,279 “to do everything that a good man would desire to do; and are restrained from nothing, but what would be pernicious either to ourselves or our fellow-citizens.” He does not, however, mean us to accept this statement too literally. He allows that the constitution has faults—“lest we should be tempted to think it of more than human structure”—and he is careful to tell us what he means when he says that this or that institution is perfect. As the expounder and historian of English law, he uses words of higher praise than he would do if he wrote as a politician. He feels that he is dealing with the spirit of laws, and that it is not his business to consider every change of circumstances which may have impaired their efficiency. To point out each defect, or to suggest ways of amendment, would, moreover, have been alien from the purpose of a work in which he sought to interpret the laws and to teach respect for them; and therefore he does not guard himself against exaggeration, sharing the opinion of Burke, that we only lessen the authority of the constitution if we circulate among the people a notion that it is not so perfect as it might be, before we are sure of mending it. He has in his mind the idea of a theoretical perfection not incompatible with practical injustice. In a well-known passage he says that by the law as it stood in the time of Charles II., “the people had as large a portion of real liberty as is consistent with a state of society,” naming the year 1679 as the point of time at which he would fix what he calls the theoretical perfection of our public law; and yet he observes that “the years which immediately followed it were times of great practical oppression.”11 This is in substance the view of Burke when he says that the machine is well enough for the purpose, provided the materials were sound. Indeed there is scarcely one of Blackstone’s thoughts on politics and government which may not be paralleled in the writings and speeches of Burke. They were agreed that our representative system was practically perfect; that religious dissent is subversive of civil government; and 280that the people were bound by their original contract to a scheme of government fundamentally and inviolably fixed on king, lords, and commons. Burke was among the first to read and admire the Commentaries; and had Blackstone lived ten years longer he would have read the Reflections on the Revolution in France, and applauded every word. We might describe him, in fact, as a Burke with the genius left out.

Over Blackstone’s mind the antiquity of the constitution exercised a potent spell. The retrospective imagination, as it has been called, made him regard with reverence institutions that reach back to a time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. The parliament and the monarchy, the sheriff, the corner, and trial by jury, seemed to be less the work of man’s hands than to partake of the dignity and immutability of the laws of nature; and the sense of trivial anomalies was lots in the veneration which he felt for a system of laws embodying in unbroken continuity the wisdom of a thousand years. It is not an unworthy emotion. There are few, let us hope, who have never been stirred by reflecting on the growth of that English liberty, which finds splendid voice in the prose of Milton, and whose presence, with “its gallery of portraits, its monumental inscriptions, its records, evidences, and titles,” glows in every line of Burke. On its practical side the emotion may be healthy or may be baneful. We call him the crudest of politicians who never reflects that our laws have grown with the people, that they contain the experience of a nation, and are not the paper schemes of clever theorists, and that they are surrounded by traditions which no convulsion ever swept away and which give them half their strength. It is this that a greater lawyer than Blackstone meant when he said that time is the wisest thing in the inferior world. But to timid natures antiquity becomes the proof, and not merely the evidences of excellence; so that the mind is led to make a severance between the past and the present, and while respecting the constitution as a thing of gradual growth to forget that the growth continues. Blackstone’s whole nature was affected by this illusion of distance. It distorted alike his281 historical beliefs and his practical judgments. It made him maintain, as Bolingbroke did, that our liberties are but the restoration of the ancient constitution of which our Saxon forefathers were deprived by the policy and force of the Normans. To Montesquieu’s opinion that as Rome, Sparta, and Carthage lost their liberties, so those of England must in time perish, it made him give the naïve reply that Rome, Sparta, and Carthage, at the time when their liberties were lost, were strangers to trial by jury. It made him spend all his ingenuity in defending the rule of descent which excluded kinsmen of the half-blood. And it was the chief cause of the contempt which, like Coke, he had for statute law. Though he never ventures to say so in plain terms, as his predecessors did with something more than rhetorical belief, yet at heart he is convinced that the common law is the perfection of reason.

Yet to represent Blackstone’s mind as absolutely stationary would be unjust; for now and again he puts forward a gentle suggestion of improvement. He draws attention to defects in the system of trial by jury, and makes several excellent proposals for its amendment. He even anticipates the legislation of our own day when he points out that our laws are faulty in not constraining parents to bestow a proper education on their children. He recognises the possibility of a change in political representation, which would admit the people to a somewhat larger share; and it is doubtless on the strength of that mild admission that Major Cartwright included him in the list of men conversant with public affairs who had expressed themselves in favor either of a fair representation or of short parliaments. The criminal law seemed to him very far from perfect. Within his own lifetime it had been made a capital crime to break down the mound of a fish-pond whereby any fish should escape, or to cut down a cherry-tree in an orchard. These laws would never have been passed, he says, with a confidence which it is not easy to share, if, as was usual with private bills in his days, public bills had been first referred to some of the learned judges for their consideration. It was still felony without benefit of282 clergy to be seen for one month in the company of the persons called Egyptians. He believed that this would not have continued, if a committee were appointed at least once in a hundred years to revise the criminal law—a proposal which his friend Daines Barrington made about the same time and worked out in some detail.

His conservatism, or, to give it the harsher name, his hostility to reform, was in great part due to timidity and insufficient knowledge of the world. He was a shy and reserved man, whose life was divided between one kind of narrowness at Westminster, and another kind of narrowness at Oxford. He was shut off from the real life of England. Among his books, which taught him that the state should foster trade, he could know only by hearsay of the new industrial movement then beginning to transform the country, and destined soon to sweep away the absurdities which he upheld, such as the innumerable attempts to fix the rate of wages, the navigation laws, and the statute of Charles II., commanding the people to bury their dead in wool. The very fact that he does not suggest a compromise between restriction of trade and its freedom, leads one to infer that he had never seriously thought about the question. Only with regard to apprenticeship does he mention that a doubt could exist, and then he refrains from giving a clear opinion. Amid the Toryism of Oxford, where he had seen students expelled for Methodists, Blackstone was hardly likely to understand what toleration, much less what religious freedom, meant. He deprecated persecution, once indeed he uses with unwonted energy the phrase “dæmon of persecution,”12 but it is rather under the impulse of a mild humanity than from any trust in the people or any large love of liberty. When a strong protest was raised by Dr. Priestley and Dr. Furneaux against his account of the laws relating to Protestant Dissenters, whom almost in so many words he called dangerous citizens, he seems to have been quite surprised at the attack. He wrote a pamphlet in reply to Priestley, explaining that his aim 283had been to expound the law not justify it, which was not quite accurate, and declaring that he was all for tolerance; and he went so far as to expunge the most obnoxious sentence, and to give in subsequent editions a fuller and somewhat fairer account of the law. Even in its final form the passage is not worthy of one who was speaking from a position of really high authority, which should have induced judicial calmness. “They have made him sophisticate,” said Bentham, referring to Priestley’s and Furneaux’s attack; “they have made him even expunge; but all the doctors in the world, I doubt, would not bring him to confession.” Yet it is not so much utter illiberality of nature that the passage suggests as simple inexperience, and his fixed belief that truth must always be a compromise. He was but echoing the opinion commonly held by churchmen in his time, an opinion which he had never tested by contact with the people.

He had an opportunity of gaining experience as a politician, but in the House of Commons he learned nothing, and succeeded only in tarnishing his legal reputation. He entered it in 1762, and sat first for the rotten borough of Hindon, and afterwards for Westbury till 1770. For the first six years his name scarcely ever occurs in the debates. The only fact, indeed, known of this part of his political life, is a proposal which he made when the repeal of the Stamp Act was carried, that “it should not be of force in any colony where any votes, resolves, or acts had passed derogatory to the honor or authority of Parliament, until such votes, etc., were erased or taken off the records,” The second stage of the Wilkes case, after the elections of 1768, raised him to an unfortunate notoriety. Every circumstance combined to make Blackstone the most bitter of Wilkes’s opponents. He had committed himself to strong opinions on the absolute supremacy of Parliament; he was solicitor-general to the Queen; he was shocked at Wilkes’s blasphemy; and Lord Mansfield had been maligned. He had only one moment of merely formal hesitation. When De Grey, the Attorney-General moved that the comments on Lord Weymouth’s letter were an insolent, scandalous, and seditious libel, Blackstone argued that284 the courts were open, and that the House of Commons was not the place to try the question. The other acts of the persecution had his complete approval. He himself took the lead in moving that the charge against Lord Mansfield was “an audacious aspersion on the said Chief Justice;” he advocated the expulsion of Wilkes; he supported the motion which declared that Wilkes being expelled was incapable of sitting in the existing Parliament; and he delivered an able speech, in which he put forth all his strength, in favor of the validity of Colonel Luttrell’s election. He was rash enough in that speech to give it as his firm and unbiassed opinion that the law and custom of Parliament on a matter of privilege is part of the common law, that the House had acted according to that law and custom, and that Wilkes was therefore disqualified by common law from sitting as a member of Parliament. He paid heavily for his “firm and unbiassed opinion.” In the Commentaries he had given what was, no doubt, intended to be a complete list of the causes of disqualification; and none of them applied to Wilkes. Twice during the remainder of the debate, first by Mr. Seymour and afterwards by Grenville, “the gentle shepherd,” was this passage effectively turned against him. “It is well known,” according to Junius, “that there was a pause of some minutes in the House, from a general expectation that the doctor would say something in his own defence; but it seems, his faculties were too much overpowered to think of those subtleties and refinements which have since occurred to him.” A paper war ensued in which Junius, Sir W. Jones, Dr. Johnson, and Blackstone himself took part. In an anonymous pamphlet, betraying its author, as Junius said, by “its personal interests, personal resentments, and above all that wounded spirit, unaccustomed to reproach, and, I hope, not frequently conscious of deserving it,” Blackstone clung tenaciously and almost angrily to his opinion, which he stated even more emphatically than he had done in the House of Commons. There he expressly refrained from saying whether expulsion necessarily involves incapacity; in his reply to285 “the writer in the public press, who subscribes himself Junius,” he said as expressly that incapacity is the necessary consequence of expulsion. He retracted nothing. Sincere, no doubt, in his belief that it was Wilkes the blasphemer, not Wilkes the demagogue, whom he had helped to expel and incapacitate, he still held that the House of Commons had acted not only legally but wisely. He gave a pledge of his conviction by repairing the omission in his book. In its subsequent editions appears, as if it were a well settled rule, the statement that if a person is made a peer or elected to serve in the House of Commons, the respective Houses of Parliament may upon complaint of any crime in such person, and proof thereof, adjudge him disabled and incapable to sit as a member. His earlier statement of the law, however, was not forgotten, and “the first edition of Dr. Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England” is said to have become a toast at Opposition banquets. Nobody has now any doubt that Blackstone was in the wrong, confounding, as was pointed out at the time, the independence of the several parts of the legislature with the authority of the whole. His tenacity and the prestige of his name gave him the support of his party; but before long, had he lived, he would have suffered the mortification of seeing the House of Commons expunge from its journals all the declarations, orders, and resolutions respecting the election of John Wilkes, Esquire, as “subversive of the rights of the whole body of the electors of this kingdom.”

Having failed as a politician, he was made a judge. He sat on the bench from 1770 till his death in 1780, and he left behind him the reputation of having striven to administer justice with scrupulous care. He was certainly not a great judge. He was cursed with indecision; he was diffident of his own opinion, and never strenuous in supporting it; and in consequence, if we can trust Malone’s account of him, “there were more new trials granted in causes which came before him on circuit than were granted on the decisions of any other judge who sat at Westminster in his time.” The habit of mind which in private life produced in him almost a mania for punctuality made him as a judge a strict observer of forms; and286 he would not have consented, even if he had been able, to make and modify law as did his contemporary, Lord Mansfield. The time was pre-eminently favorable for earning a great judicial reputation; the law, impeded by fictions, formalities, and obsolete statutes, lagged behind a nation whose commerce had increased more than tenfold within living memory; and public opinion would have dealt leniently with a judge who shaped the old rules to satisfy the new needs. But Blackstone had not the courage for such work; and, save for the case of Perrin v. Blake, one might well tell the legal history of the ten years which he spent on the bench and never mention his name. Perrin v. Blake is too technical to be here described; enough to say that it maintained inviolate the venerable rule in Shelley’s case, with which Lord Mansfield had been profanely tampering. The case excited great interest in the profession, partly from its own importance and partly from some per287sonal controversies to which it gave rise. Lord Campbell, indeed, writing more than seventy years after it had been decided, says that when conversation flags amongst lawyers the mention of Perrin v. Blake never fails to cause excitement and loquacity!

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



Jelly-Fish, Star-Fish and Sea-Urchins (International Scientific Series). Being a Research into Primitive Nervous Systems. By G. J. Romanes, M.A., LL.D., F.R.S., etc. New York: D. Appleton & Co.

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

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


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

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


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

Origin of Cultivated Plants (International Scientific Series). By Alphonse de Candolle, Foreign Associate Academie of Sciences, Institute of France, Foreign Member of the Royal Societies of London, Edinburgh and Dublin, etc., etc. New York: D. Appleton & Co.

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

Some plants cultivated for more than two291 thousand years are not now known in a spontaneous state. This can be accounted for on one of these two hypotheses; either these plants, since history has begun, have changed so entirely in form in their wild as well as in their cultivated condition that they are no longer recognized as belonging to the same species, or they are extinct species. In case they are extinct, this extinction must have taken place of course during the short period (scientifically speaking) of a few hundred centuries, on continents where they might have spread, and under circumstances which are commonly considered unvarying. This shows how the history of cultivated plants is allied to the most important problems of the general history of organized beings. The study of plants by our author is divided into those cultivated for their subterranean parts, such as roots, tubercles or bulbs; those cultivated for their stems or leaves; those cultivated for their flowers or for the organs which envelop them; those cultivated for their fruits, and those cultivated for their seeds. In the process of investigation we readily observe that De Candolle, who appears a master of the tools of research in every branch of study, has not only used botanical resources, but those of history and of travel, of archæology, pæleontology, and of philology. The wealth of learning lavished by the author on his work is sometimes almost bewildering. One of the most striking results of the author’s researches is that certain species are extinct or are fast becoming extinct since the historical epoch, and that not on small islands, but on vast continents without any great modifications of climate. M. De Candolle tells us that in the history of cultivated plants he has noticed no trace of communication between the peoples of the old and new worlds before the discovery of America by Columbus. The Scandinavians, who had pushed their excursions as far as the north of the United States, and the Basques of the Middle Ages, who followed whales perhaps as far as America, do not seem to have transported a single species. Neither has the Gulf Stream produced any effect. Between America and Asia, two transports of useful plants, perhaps, took place, the one by man (the batata, or sweet potato), the other by the agency of man or of the sea (the cocoanut palm).

The Adventures of Timias Terrystone. A Novel. By O. B. Bunce. New York: D. Appleton & Co.

Mr. Bunce, the author of several charmingly292 written works of the essay character, among which may be mentioned “Bachelor Bluff,” “My House an Ideal,”etc., again challenges the critical attention of the intelligent reading public, in a form this time which will command wider interest—the novel. The “Adventures of Timias Terrystone” is in no sense a romance; it is not a story of action, or in the least melodramatic; it is not in any wide or deep sense a novel of character, though the personages have well-marked individualities and act consistently with them. So far as the actual life depicted is concerned, the story glides pleasantly over the surface of things, not professing or caring to deal with the more deep and startling issues of life, but touching the facts of every-day happening with a light and graceful hand, and showing a very keen sensibility to the fresh and lovely aspects of youth. The hero is a young artist who, being a waif, did not know his own parentage, and being brought up in a very unconventional way, disdains even at the last, when he discovers his ancestry, all pride of birth and family. The adventures of the youthful painter, though chiefly of an amatory character, as his great personal beauty and freshness of character appear to exercise a great charm over the other sex, are manifold, and both interesting and amusing, he being a more refined and purer Gil Blas. But we doubt whether the main interest will be found in the mere story, though novel-readers will not go amiss of genuine enjoyment in this way. In the mouth of one of the characters, a bluff, easy-going, wandering Bohemian, our author places a great number of keen, incisive, critical, or eloquent observations, as the case may be. These thoughts are so full of pith that they can hardly fail to be widely quoted, and our readers will not have to draw on their good nature to pardon us if we give them some of these well-spiced plums:293 “A man who goes through the world with his eyes open learns something at every step; but one who immerses himself in a library simply converts himself into a catalogue.... What are reading and writing, anyway, but a prejudice of society? Do men get more character, more self-reliance, greater capacity for dealing with the problems of life, by filtering through the brain the dreams of the poets and the philosophers? I tell you that when our boys should be scouring through the woods, rolling down-hill, scaling the mountains, making themselves splendid young Apollos, we shut them up in a deadly school-room, which soon drives the color out of their cheeks, vigor out of their limbs, pluck out of their hearts, and snap out of their brains. Civilization is a bundle of absurdities—it is worse, it is a upas-tree, that is fast poisoning the race.”

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


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

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

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

“‘Of women?’ asked Mary, smiling.

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

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

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

We appeal to our readers if these quotations do not inspire an appetite for more. For our part, we have rarely found more mellow, yet295 pungent wisdom put in more agreeable form. Certainly the Bohemian, Philip, reminds us very strongly of another personage, considerably in the mouths of the reading public not very long since, Bachelor Bluff.

The Secret of Death. From the Sanscrit. With some Selected Poems. By Edwin Arnold, M.A., author of “The Light of Asia,” “Pearls of the Faith,”“Indian Idylls,” etc. Boston: Roberts Brothers.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The other poems in the volume are of a297 lighter character. Among those specially noticeable are the three Hindu songs, the pastoral poem, “Neucia,” translated from the Italian of the great Florentine ruler, Lorenzo de Medici, who, if he destroyed the liberties of his city, raised it to its highest place in literary and art glory, as also in commercial and political power; “The Epic of the Lion;” “The Wreck of the Northern Belle;”and “Amadis of Gaul to Don Quixote de La Mancha,” The latter, which is from the Spanish, is a little gem:

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

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

Greater London: A Narrative of Its History, Its People, and Its Places. By Edward Walford, M.A., joint Author of “Old and New London.” Illustrated with Numerous Engravings. Vol. II. London, Paris, and New York: Cassell & Co., Limited.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Count Paul Vasali,” whose lively sketches of Viennese society in the Nouvelle Revue have just been completed, announces that he intends shortly to commence a similar series on society in London.


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

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

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

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

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

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

The French edition of Mr. H. M. Stanley’s book on the Congo, which, as recently announced, is to be published in Brussels, will,300 we are informed, be translated by Mr. Gerard Harry, one of the editors of the Independance belge and of the Mouvement géographique.

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

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

In a recent number of Deutsche Rundschau Herr Herzog gives a vivid sketch of modern progress in an article on “Die Einwirkungen der modernen Verkehrsmittel auf die Culturentwicklung.” His general conclusion is that the discovery of railways and the electric telegraph has tended to democratise society and substitute practical materialism for any moral ideal of life. Only when commerce has become truly world-wide, and national interests have ceased to jar and conflict, must we look for a world-state in which ideal ends again will meet with due recognition. Freiherr von Lilicronen, in a paper301 on “Die Kunst der Conversation,” undertakes the defence of German “Ernst” against French “esprit” as a basis for social life. An English bystander is probably inclined to suggest a happy blending of the two. Dr. H. Hüffer publishes some hitherto unprinted letters of Heine to his friend Johann Hermann Detmold. They are the scanty records of a friendship of thirty years, and are of great importance for Heine’s biography, especially as regards his life in Paris and his relations to his wife.

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


Learning to Ride.—Six half-hour rides on six successive days will do infinitely more towards moulding the muscles to the equestrian form than three lessons of two hours each, with an interval of a day between. When the services of a competent teacher cannot be had, the next best aid is that of a good model to imitate: not a soldier, although some of the very finest horsemen are found among cavalry officers, because a soldier has to follow rules which do not affect a civilian; not a huntsman, because to the best huntsmen the horse is only a machine, and one hand is always occupied with the horn or the whip; but from watching a clever colt-breaker or accomplished professional steeplechase rider very useful lessons may be learned. It may safely be assumed that any man of forty, not disqualified by physical defeats or oppressed with excessive corpulence, may, with patience,302 perseverance, and pluck, without rashness, learn how to ride and how to enjoy riding any well-broken horse, without looking ridiculous, after from fifty to sixty well arranged rides, within the space of three months. But it is a sort of exercise that cannot be taken up and abandoned for a long interval with impunity. Even practised horsemen suffer severely after a certain time of life, if, after a long cessation from horse exercise, they attempt the feats of their youth; feverishness, indigestion, a fluttering heart, a disordered liver, remind them that for long days the man requires preparation as much as the horse. A great deal of the comfort of riding depends on proper garments for the lower limbs. Theoretically, there is no riding-dress so comfortable as well-made breeches and boots either of the modern cavalry or the plain “butcher pattern.” The next best substitute is a pair of leather overalls, fastened at the sides by buttons, not with springs. But those whose age and position would make boots for riding in a town objectionable must pay attention to their trousers. The material for riding-trousers should be thick woollen, and may be dark—there are some very nice partly-elastic materials in dark colors—they must be constructed by a real trouser-maker, who will make you sit down when he measures you, and they must be worn with straps whether straps are in fashion or not. Wellington boots are the best with trousers; shoes are quite out of the question. Trousers without straps, slipping up the leg of a timid horseman, are an acute form of unnecessary misery, which was the fashion for many years up to 1877, when straps again appeared on the trousers of the more correct riders in Rotten Row.—Illustrated Book of the Horse.

A Tragic Barring-out.—In the inner part of Riddell’s Close stands the house of Bailie John Macmorran, whose tragic death made a great stir at its time, threw the city into painful excitement, and tarnished the reputation of the famous old High School. The conduct of the scholars there had been bad and turbulent for some years, but it reached a climax on September 15th, 1595. On a week’s holiday being refused, the boys were so exasperated, being chiefly “gentilmane’s bairnes,” that they formed a compact for vengeance in the true spirit of the age; and, armed with swords and pistols, took possession at midnight of the ancient school in the Blackfriars Gardens, and declining to admit the masters or anyone303 else, made preparation to stand a siege, setting all authority at defiance. The doors were not only shut but barricaded and strongly guarded within; all attempts to storm the boy-garrison proved impracticable, and all efforts at reconciliation were unavailing. The Town Council lost patience, and sent Bailie John Macmorran, one of the wealthiest merchants in the city (though he had begun life as a servant to the Regent Morton), with a posse of city officers, to enforce the peace. On their appearance in the school-yard the boys became simply outrageous, and mocked them as “buttery carles,” daring anyone to approach at his peril. “To the point likely to be first attacked,” says Steven, in his history of the school, “they were observed to throng in a highly excited state, and each seemed to vie with his fellow in threatening instant death to the man who should forcibly attempt to displace them. William Sinclair, son of the Chancellor of Caithness, had taken a conspicuous share in this barring out, and he now appeared foremost, encouraging his confederates,” and stood at a window overlooking one of the entrances which the Bailie ordered the officers to force, by using a long beam as a battering-ram, and he had nearly accomplished his perilous purpose, when a ball in the forehead from Sinclair’s pistol slew him on the spot, and he fell on his back. Panic-stricken, the boys surrendered. Some effected their escape, and others, including Sinclair and the sons of Murray of Springiedale, and Pringle of Whitebank, were thrown into prison. Macmorran’s family were too rich to be bribed, and clamored that they would have blood for blood. On the other hand, “friends threatened death to all the people of Edinburgh if they did the child any harm, saying they were not wise who meddled with scholars, especially gentlemen’s sons,” and Lord Sinclair, as chief of the family to which the young culprit belonged, moved boldly in his behalf, and procured the intercession of King James with the magistrates, and in the end all the accused got free, including the slayer of the Bailie, who lived to become Sir William Sinclair of Mey, in 1631, and the husband of Catherine Ross, of Balnagowan, and from them the present Earls of Caithness are descended.—Old and New Edinburgh.

Intelligence in Cats.—Cats are like oysters, in that no one is neutral about them; everyone is, explicitly or implicitly, friendly or hostile to them. And they are like chil304dren in their power of discovering, by a rapid and sure instinct, who likes them and who does not. It is difficult to win their affection; and it is easy to forfeit what it is hard to win. But when given, their love, although less demonstrative, is more delicate and beautiful than that of a dog. Who that is on really intimate terms with a cat has not watched its dismay at the signs of packing up and leaving home? We ourselves have known a cat who would recognise his master’s footstep after a three months’ absence, and come out to meet him in the hall, with tail erect, and purring all over as if to the very verge of bursting. And another cat we know, who comes up every morning between six and seven o’clock to wake his master, sits on the bed, and very gently feels first one eyelid and then the other with his paw. When an eye opens, but not till then, the cat sets up a loud purr, like the prayer of a fire-worshipper to the rising sun. Those who say lightly that cats care only for places, and not for persons, should go to the Cat Show at the Crystal Palace, where they may see recognitions between cat and owner that will cure them of so shallow an opinion. When we were last there, one striking instance fell in our way. Cats greatly dislike these exhibitions; a cat, as a rule, is like Queen Vashti, unwilling to be shown, even to the nobles, at the pleasure of an Ahasuerus. Shy, sensitive, wayward, and independent, a cat resents being placed upon a cushion in a wire cage, and exposed to the unintelligent criticism, to say nothing of the fingers of a mob of sightseers. One very eminent cat, belonging to the Masters’ Common Room at Christ Church, Oxford, whose size and beauty have on several occasions entailed on him the hard necessity of attending a cat show, takes, it is said, three days to recover from the sense of humiliation and disgust which he feels, whether he gets a prize or not. On the occasion to which we refer, a row of distinguished cats were sitting, each on his cushion, with their backs turned to the sightseers, while their faces, when from time to time visible, were expressive of the deepest gloom and disgust. Presently two little girls pushed through the crowd to the cage of one of the largest of these cats, crying, “There’s ‘Dick’!” Instantly the great cat turned round, his face transfigured with joy, purred loudly, and endeavored to scratch open the front of the cage, that he might rejoin his little friends, who were with difficulty persuaded to leave him at the show.—Spectator.


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

2 See Todd’s Cyclopædia of Anatomy and Physiology, vol. iii. p. 3.

3 L’Habitude et l’Instinct. Baillière. Paris. 1875.

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

5 The Unity of Nature, chap. iii.

6 See Magazine of Natural History, vol. iv. p. 206.

7 See Mr. Timothy Holmes’s System of Surgery, 3rd edit. vol. iii. p. 746.

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

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

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

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

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

Transcriber's Notes

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