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

Author: Various

Release date: February 6, 2017 [eBook #54117]

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.

[Pg 1]



Eclectic Magazine

New Series.
Vol. XLI., No. 6.
JUNE, 1885. Old Series complete
in 63 vols.



It is easier to write about the Russian advance at the present day than it was a few years back. The ground has been cleared of much of the rubbish which formerly encumbered it. Not long ago the apologists of Russia were wont to compare the progress of her arms in Central Asia with the progress of our own in India. We were warned of a certain law of nature which impelled civilisation to advance on barbarism, and were asked to hail with sympathy, rather than view with suspicion, the extension of a Power which, as it swept on in its resistless course, diffused the blessings of order, of knowledge, and of commerce over a vast region hitherto sunk in a savagery of the worst description. But public opinion is now somewhat changed. No one questions that Russia is entitled to great credit for the civilising influence that has attended her progress, for the large benefits she has conferred upon humanity in her career of conquest through Central Asia. By crushing the Turcoman raiders, indeed, and by abolishing the slave markets of Khiva and Bokhara, she has restored peace and prosperity to districts which were groaning in misery, and has earned the gratitude of thousands of terror-stricken families. Whatever may happen in the future, she has gained imperishable glory in the past by her victories of peace along the desolated frontier of Khorassan; but here the register of her good deeds must end. To suppose that she launched her forces across the Caspian in 1869 and engaged in Central Asian warfare with a view to these beneficent results, is to ignore the whole spirit and character of her policy. Fortunately there is now no room for misconception. Her soldiers and states3men have recently laid bare her springs of action with a plainness that is almost cynical, but at the same time with a fulness of detail that must carry conviction to all unprejudiced minds. It was during the Crimean war, we are told, that Russia first realised her false position in regard to England. In her schemes of aggrandisement in Europe she was liable to be met and thwarted at every turn by British alliances and British influence; and when engaged in war she was open to our attack in every quarter, in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azof, the Baltic, or the coast of Georgia, without any possibility of retaliation. If she was to develop in due course, as had so often been predicted, into the leading Power of the world, it was thus absolutely necessary that the inequality complained of should be redressed. Some weak point in our armor must be discovered. Some means must be found to shatter the palladium of our insular security. Hence there arose the idea of creating a great Oriental satrapy, under Russian administration, which should envelop the north-west frontier of our Indian Empire, and from which, as occasion might arise, pressure could be exerted, or, if necessary, armed demonstrations might issue, which would neutralise British opposition in Europe, and would place our policy on the Bosphorus or elsewhere in subordination to her own. In former times, as is well known, elaborate schemes have been discussed at St. Petersburg for the actual invasion of India, and, if we may judge from the utterances of the Moscow press and the fervid letters of certain Russian generals, the same exalted ideas still prevail in many military circles; but assuredly no such extravagance has been apparent in the careful plan of trans-Caspian operations hitherto adopted by the Russian Government, which has, on the contrary, been of the soberest and most practical character.

The end in view has been simply to arrive by gradual accretion of territory at the frontier of India. In pursuance of this object Russia has incurred expense without any immediate prospect of return, to an extent which has filled economists with dismay; fifty millions sterling, at least, having been expended by her in Central Asia during the last4 twenty-five years. Native rights at the same time have been mercilessly trampled on, and, above all, diplomacy has pushed its privilege of deception far beyond the bounds hitherto recognised as legitimate; but success, which condones all such irregularities, has rewarded her efforts, and the crisis has now arrived, almost sooner than was expected.

A brief summary of the salient points which have marked the persistent advance of Russia in Central Asia seems to be all that is required at present. For the first ten years following on the Crimean war her generals, having crossed the Kirghiz steppes from Orenburg, were gradually feeling their way along the valley of the Jaxartes. Creeping up the river, and taking fort after fort and city after city, they everywhere defeated the rabble soldiery of the Uzbegs, and finally, in 1867, planted the Russian flag on the famous citadel of Samarcand, adjoining the mausoleum of Timúr. Here, according to prearranged design, the progress of the Russian arms was arrested, pending the approach of co-operating columns from the Caspian; but, in the meantime, the neighboring Khanate of Bokhara, hitherto the most important of the Central Asian States, was brought completely under control, and the influence of Russia was fully and firmly established on the Oxus. To the westward a still more important series of operations was now commenced. In 1869 the first Russian detachments crossed the Caspian, and boldly invaded the country of the Turcomans. Had such an expedition been carried out in Europe, it would have been stigmatised as piracy, for there was absolutely no provocation on the part of the tribesmen, nor even was the formality observed of declaring war. Coercive measures, without further warning and with varying success, were directed against the tribes of the neighborhood. Gradually the sphere of action was extended. Khiva was reduced in 1873, and then the Tekkehs, the principal tribe of the Turcoman confederacy, who inhabited the steppe from Kizil-Arvat to Merv, were seriously attacked. The western division of this tribe, called the Akhals, made a stout resistance, on one occasion in 1879 beating off the regular troops led by Lomakin, and seriously imperil5ling the whole Russian position. Ultimately, however, in 1880, the renowned Scoboleff, greatly assisted by the Persian chiefs of Kuchán and Bujnoord, who furnished carriage and supplies from the adjacent frontier of Khorassan, penetrated to the heart of the Akhal country and took their stronghold, Geok Tepeh, by storm. All active opposition then collapsed, and in due course conciliation, combined with intimidation, being skilfully employed against the Eastern Tekkehs, who were demoralised by the subjugation of their brethren in Akhal, and who applied for support in vain both to Persia and to Cabul, Merv—“the Queen of the East,” as she has been called—surrendered to Russia in February, 1884, and the first act of the great Central Asia drama, after twenty-five years of sustained and energetic action, was brought to a successful close. It is needless to say that during this long and desperate struggle to reach and occupy Merv there were many phases which tended to distract public attention from the main object in view. To many persons who followed the Russian proceedings with an observant and even friendly eye—for the atrocities committed by the Turcomans had excited general indignation against them—the explanation which most commended itself was, that as Russia had already established an important government in Turkestan very imperfectly supplied with the means of communication with the Wolga, she found it indispensable to supplement the northern line with a more direct and assured route to the west, which route should traverse the Turcoman steppe viâ Merv and Askabad, and should thus connect Tashkend and Samarcand with the Caspian. And it is quite possible that consideration of this nature—which from a strategical point of view were perfectly sound and proper—may have had some weight in determining the course of events, combined, as they naturally were, with a full appreciation of the advantages in respect to prestige and military power which must accrue from the creation of a new empire in Central Asia; but I must adhere to my view that neither strategy, nor lust of conquest, nor military glory, nor any of the thousand and one motives which in matters of peace and war or6dinarily actuate nations, was the governing principle in directing the Russian advance into Central Asia. That principle was, I believe, an intense desire to reach the threshold of India, not for the purpose of direct or immediate attack, but with a view to political pressure on Great Britain, with which Power she would thus, for the first time, be brought in territorial contact.

With this conviction strong on my mind, and with a lively sense of the inconvenience to India of Russian contiguity, is it surprising that I should feel constrained to put the following questions? Ought we to have remained passive while the meshes were thus being woven round us? Ought we not rather to have impeded by all the means at our command the passage of the Russian columns from the Caspian to Merv? There were many such means available. We might have persuaded Persia, whose jealousy was already excited by the movement of the Russian columns along her frontier, to interdict that supply of grain and transport animals from Khorassan which was indispensable to a successful advance. We might have furnished the Tekkehs of Akhal with arms and money to resist the invaders. We might have warned the Russian Government in plain but forcible language that her occupation of Merv would infallibly lead to war. It is impossible, indeed, to acquit ourselves of shortcoming in this respect. It is impossible to avoid the conviction that, by a want of firmness in action as in language, the crisis which now threatens us has been unduly accelerated. I have no wish to reopen old sores, or to revive the acrimonious strife of 1881, when the questions of the evacuation of Candahar and the abandonment of the Quetta railway were debated with the keenness of political disagreement, embittered by the virulence of party feeling; nor, indeed, although strongly advocating at the time the retention of the Western Afghan capital, and believing as I still do that Russia was mainly encouraged to advance on Merv by our retirement from Candahar, am I at all insensible to the solid advantages which resulted from the adoption by the Government of the day of an opposite course of action. I freely admit three distinct sources of gain. Firstly,7 the considerable expense of maintaining an independent government in Candahar for the last four years has been saved to the public treasury; secondly, we have avoided local friction with the Dúrání population, which might have seriously hampered us under present circumstances; and, thirdly, we have succeeded during the interval in maintaining friendly relations with the Amir of Cabul, a result which, according to the best authorities—I refer especially to Sir Lepel Griffin’s statement on this head—would have been impossible had he been subjected to the constant sense of humiliation, as well as to the pecuniary loss, occasioned by the dismemberment of his kingdom and the continued presence of a British garrison at Candahar. Yet, admitting the value of such results, I cannot but think them a poor compensation for the cramped position, both military and political, in which we now find ourselves. At any rate, if we were at present established in strength at Candahar as we were in 1881, with the railway completed to that town from Sibi, and with a small detachment occupying Girishk on the Helmend, the improvement in our military position would be at least equivalent to an additional force of 20,000 men in line should hostilities really supervene with Russia, whilst the relations we should have been able to establish during the interval with the Hazáreh and Parsiwán section of the population—relations which must in the future constitute our chief element of strength in the country—would have rendered us almost indifferent to the jealousy and opposition of the Afghans.

Having thus disposed of all preliminary matter, I now take up the frontier question, from which arises our present acute misunderstanding with Russia. Oriental states have notoriously elastic and fluctuating frontiers, and Afghanistan is no exception to the general rule. At different periods, indeed, since the institution of the kingdom of Cabul by Ahmed Shah in 1747, the Afghan power has extended on one side to Cashmire, on another to Deregez in Khorassan, while to the south it has stretched into Beluchistan and even to the frontiers of Sinde. More frequently of late years it has been circumscribed within much narrower dimensions, and has moreover8 been disintegrated and broken up into three distinct chiefships. The normal condition of the kingdom may be considered to be such as it presented on Shir Ali Khan’s accession to power in 1868, Herat and Candahar being united to Cabul, and the seat of government being established at the eastern capital. It was shortly after this, in 1872, that, on the invitation of Russia, who had already brought Bokhara under her influence, and was exercising a tutelary direction of her affairs, we undertook, in the interests of Shir Ali Khan, to specify the northern districts over which we considered that he was entitled to claim jurisdiction, the object being thus to define a frontier between the Afghans and Uzbegs, which should obviate in the future all risk of collision or misunderstanding. As Russia at that time had no relations whatever with the Turcomans of Merv, it is not very obvious why it should have been thought necessary to protract the Afghan frontier beyond the Bokhara limit to the west of the Oxus. Perhaps the object especially was to protect the Afghan-Uzbeg states of Andekhúd and Mymeneh, which in the time of Dost Mohammed Khan had been subject to Bokhara. Perhaps Russia already contemplated the absorption of Merv, and foresaw that all territory outside of the Afghan boundary would naturally fall into her own hands. At any rate, the memorandum of 1872, better known as the Granville-Gortchakoff arrangement, after defining the Bokhara frontier as far as Khjoa Saleh on the Oxus, went on to name, as districts to be included in Shir Ali’s dominions, “Akcheh, Sir-i-Púl, Mymeneh, Shilbergán, and Andekhúd, the latter of which would be the extreme Afghan possession to the north-west, the desert beyond belonging to independent tribes of Turcomans;” and further: “The Western Afghan frontier between the dependencies of Herat and those of the Persian province of Khorassan is well known and need not be defined.” Now, however much it may be regretted that this memorandum, which was evidently drawn up as a mere basis for negotiation, and not as a formal declaration of territorial rights, was not more explicit in defining the trace of the line, and especially in marking the points at which it would cross the Murgháb and9 abut on the Heri-rúd, it did at any rate establish two main points of geographical interest. In the first place, it clearly distinguished between the independent Turcoman desert to the north and the Afghan hilly country to the south; and in the second place it naturally, and as a matter of course, assigned to Afghanistan the “dependencies of Herat” to the west of the Murgháb, which dependencies again were divided, it was said, from Persian territory by the “well-known” boundary of the Heri-rúd.

The terms of this agreement were in February 1873 formally accepted by Russia; and, faulty and irregular as the document is from a diplomatic point of view, it has quieted all frontier agitation between the Oxus and Heri-rúd for the last ten years, and would have served the same purpose for another ten years in advance but for the unfortunate intrusion of Russia into the controversy as a sequel to her conquest of Merv.

Russia first reintroduced a discussion on the frontier early in 1882, suggesting, in the interests of peace and order, that the arrangement of 1872-3 should, in respect to the western portion of the line, be complemented by some formal demarcation, determined by actual survey of the country; but as the Tekkehs were then independent, and there seemed to be no advantage in encouraging Russia to absorb their territory up to the line of demarcation, the proposal for a joint commission of delimitation was received by us at the time with some coldness. Two years later, in February 1884, affairs having much advanced in the interim, negotiations were resumed, and in due course (July 1884) commission ad hoc was appointed, General Lumsden being nominated by the British Government, and General Zelenoi by the Russian, with instructions to meet at Serakhs in the following October.

Now, it is quite evident that in the earlier stages of these frontier discussions the Russian Foreign Office understood the provisions of the 1872-3 arrangement, which were held to govern the later negotiation, in their natural and common-sense acceptation. The principle of a distinction between plain and hill was fully recognised, and the phrase “dependencies of Herat” was held necessarily to include the province of10 Badgheis, a tract which extended from the Paropamisus range to Serakhs, and which had been a dependency of Herat from the time of the Arab conquest. The line on which the commissioners were to be engaged is thus everywhere spoken of by M. de Giers and M. Zinovieff in the preliminary negotiations as a direct line from Khoja Saleh to Serakhs, or to the neighborhood of Serakhs, and there is no hint of any deflection of the line to the south. After the annexation of Merv, however, and especially after M. Lessar had perambulated Badgheis and made a careful study of the valleys of the Kushk and Murgháb rivers, larger views appear to have dawned upon the Russian authorities. Geographical and ethnological conditions were then invented that had never been thought of before. It was discovered that the Paropamisus range was the true natural boundary of Herat to the north, that the district of Badgheis, which lay beyond the range, had been absolved from its allegiance to Herat by efflux of time, Afghan jurisdiction having been suspended during the Turcoman raids which had desolated the district for above fifty years; above all, it was asserted that the Saryk Turcomans who dwelt at Penj-deh and in the valley of the Kushk, well within the Afghan border, must be registered as Russian subjects, because another detachment of the same tribe, who dwelt at Yolatan, beyond the desert and near Merv, had proffered their allegiance to the Czar. Questions of principle of such grave moment, it was further stated, required to be settled by the two European Governments before the commissioners could enter on their duties, and General Zelenoi was accordingly, without further explanation or apology, sent to rusticate at Teflis, regardless of the public convenience or of the respect due to his colleague, who had been waiting for him for four months on the Murgháb with an escort of 500 men and a large gathering of attendants and camp-followers.

The abrupt and discourteous manner in which Russia gave effect to her altered views, by withdrawing her commissioner, was not calculated to improve the prospect of an amicable settlement. Other graver matters, too, soon supervened. Before General Lumsden had arrived at11 the Heri-rúd, Russia had pushed forward a patrol to Púl-i-Khatún, about fifty miles south of Serakhs, thus occupying one of the points on which the Commission would have had to adjudicate; and subsequently she extended her advance still further into the “debateable” land, placing a strong post at Ak Robát, in the very centre of Badgheis, so as to cut off from the Afghans a famous salt lake which supplies the whole country with salt as far as Meshed and Askabad, and was thus a valuable source of revenue; and also taking possession of the pass and ruined fort of Zulficár, fifty miles south of Púl-i-Khatún, where one of the favorite tracks of the old Turcoman raiders crossed the Heri-rúd, and where an Afghan picket was already stationed. This last aggression, which was later sought to be justified by Russia on the ground of retaliation for an unauthorised Afghan advance on the Murgháb, brought the outposts of the two nations into immediate contact, and would certainly at the time have caused a collision but for General Lumsden’s urgent remonstrances. On the Murgháb, too, affairs were equally critical. As long ago as 1883, before the appointment of a frontier commission was ever thought of, the Amir of Cabul, alarmed by the Russian proceedings at Merv, had established a strong military post at Bala Murgháb, in the Jamshídí country,[1] and about fifty miles short of the Saryk settlement at Penj-deh. This was a purely military precaution, with no political significance, and could give offence to no one. In March of the following year, however, the situation was a good deal altered. Owing to a visit from M. Lessar, who came from Merv for the express purpose of testing the fidelity of the Saryk Turcomans to the Amir of Cabul, and who12 was generally regarded as the forerunner of a Russian advance, so much alarm was created in the neighborhood that application was made to the commandant at Bala Murgháb to send a detachment of his troops to Penj-deh for the protection of the Saryk tribesmen; and it was fortunate that this requisition was complied with, for otherwise the chances are that the Afghans would have lost the place, as the Russians were actually preparing to attack it.

The importance of this incident of the Afghan occupation of Penj-deh has been a good deal exaggerated by Russian partisans, who claim that the “debateable” land reserved for the adjudication of the commissioners was thus first invaded by the Afghans; but in reality, as will be presently explained in detail, no question had ever been raised in the country as to Penj-deh being outside the jurisdiction of Herat, previous to M. Lessar’s visit in March 1884, and the Cabul commander at Bala Murgháb, in ignorance of the appointment of a commission in Europe to consider any such question, naturally and properly supposed that he was merely carrying out an arrangement of internal police in strengthening his northern outpost. As it afterwards turned out, however, Russia attached the greatest importance to this obscure position of Penj-deh. Colonel Alikhanoff, indeed, always preferring action to negotiation, made an attempt to seize it with a detachment from Merv a few months after its occupation by the Afghans, and only desisted when he found that he must fight for its possession. There have been since repeated demonstrations of attack from the northward, and at the present moment it is the point where a collision between Russians and Afghans is most to be apprehended, the Saryks of Yolatan under Russian orders holding Púl-i-Khishti on the Kushk river, while the Saryks of Penj-deh under Afghan orders hold the neighboring position of Ak Tepeh, within half a mile’s distance, at the junction of the Kushk and Murgháb, and peace being only kept between the rival parties by the presence of our assistant commissioner, Colonel Ridgeway, who has been directed by Sir P. Lumsden to watch the frontier with an escort of fifty lancers, as long as he can with safety remain.


It must now be noted, that while local proceedings of this grave character have been taking place on the Murgháb, diplomacy in Europe has not been idle. When Russia decided not to send her commissioner to the frontier pending our acceptance of the new principles which were to govern the negotiation, she proposed for our consideration a zone of arbitration within the limits of which the boundary line was to be drawn. Negotiations on this subject are still proceeding, but no definite arrangement has been yet arrived at.

It must be patent to all the world that if Russia were pursuing a really honest policy, and were not striving to make a bargain especially favorable to her own interests, she would leave the delimitation commission to decide, according to evidence obtained on the spot, what was meant in the arrangement of 1872-3 by drawing a distinction between the Afghan hilly district and the Turcoman desert, as well as what extent of territory ought to be fairly included within “the dependencies of Herat.” On these points, which constitute the real difficulties of the situation, I now propose to make a few general remarks, repeating the arguments in favor of the Afghan claims which I have already submitted to the public in another place.2

Firstly, then, in regard to what is meant by the dependencies of Herat, the district between the Murgháb and Heri-rúd is known by the name of Badgheis, not, as has been fancifully suggested, from any traditional connection with the mythical Bacchus, but rather, as is stated in the Bundehesh, that curious repository of ancient Aryan legends from the tribe of Vad-keshan, who were probably a subdivision of the Hiyátheleh or Ephthalities, and who, according to Beladheri, were first established in the district, in direct dependency on Herat, by the Sassanian king Firoz in the fifth century A.D. Badgheis, from its rich and abundant pasturage and its sylvan character, soon became the favorite appanage of Herat, and the two names have been bracketed in all history and geography ever since, the Lord of the Eastern Marches being called, under the Sassanians, the Marzabán of Herat14 and Badgheis, and the district in question having followed the fate of the capital in all subsequent revolutions. The geographers, Istakhrí, Ibn Haucal, Mokadassi, Edrisi, and their followers to the time of the Mongol conquest, all describe Badgheis as the most valuable portion of the Herat territory. Although indifferently supplied with running streams, and being thus deficient in irrigated lands, particularly in the northern part of the district, it was on the whole well peopled, wells and kahrízes (or underground aqueducts) supplying the wants of the inhabitants. Again, in the southern and eastern portions of Badgheis, including the northern slopes of the Paropamisus range and the valley of the Kushk river, the natural beauties of the district became proverbial. The author of the Heft Aklím describes this part of Badgheis as a flower-garden of delights, and adds that it contains a thousand valleys full of trees and streams, each of which would abundantly supply an army not only with encamping ground but with grass and water, and fuel and fodder, and all the necessaries of life. He also alludes to the strong hill forts in the Kaitú range, Naraitú and others, of which our officers have lately seen the remains, and thus illustrates the famous passage in the Bundehesh which records that “Afrasiáb of Tur (the eponym of the Hiyátheleh) used Bakesir of Badgheis (Baghshúrde of the Arabs; now called Kileh Maúr) as a stronghold and made his residence within it, and a myriad towns and villages were erected on its pleasant and prosperous territory,” The geographers enumerate some ten or twelve considerable towns, which continued to flourish till the time of the Suffaveans, the capital being Dehistán (probably modern Gulran or Gurlan), which must have been founded by the Dahæ when they accompanied the kindred tribe of Tokhari or Hiyátheleh in their original immigration.

The boundaries of Badgheis seem to have fluctuated according to the power of the neighboring states, and it is not always easy to verify the notices of the geographers, owing to the disappearance of the old names. Still, it is important to note that Hafiz Abrú, who was a minister of Herat under Shah Rúkh, states15 categorically that Badgheis was bounded on the west by the Persian districts of Jam and Serakhs, thus proving that, at any rate at that period, the district extended northward up to the confines of the desert. To the east Badgheis was frequently made to include Merv-er-Rúd (Ak Tepeh), Penj-deh, Baghshúr (Kileh Maúr), Baún or Bavan (Kara Tepeh), and the entire valley of the Kushk river, while to the south it was separated from the plain of Herat, as at present, by a range of hills (now called Barkhút), the prolongation of the great Paropamisus. Such being the concurrent testimony of all writers as to the configuration of the country in antiquity, and Badgheis being so intimately connected with Herat as is the Campagna with Rome, it is difficult to understand on what grounds it can now be excluded from Afghan territory as indicated in the memorandum of 1872. The argument that neither Dost Mohammed Khan, nor Shir Ali Khan, nor even Abdur Rahman Khan until quite lately, exercised any effective jurisdiction in the district, or held it in military subjection, is certainly of no value; for this condition of recent possession, which at one time did really govern the distribution, was specially excluded from consideration in determining claims to Afghan nationality by Prince Gortchakoff’s letter of the 19th of December, 1872; and it would be a monstrous aggravation of the original outrage if the Turcomans, who had rendered Badgheis uninhabitable for fifty years, were, in virtue of their forcible interruption of Afghan government, to become themselves the legal owners of the country.

With regard again to the claims of Russia to inherit through the Saryk Turcomans, a portion of whom have lately become her subjects, the pretension is still more preposterous, since her outposts were not within 500 miles of the disputed territory when in 1872 the dependencies of Herat were adjudged to Afghanistan. It must be acknowledged that Badgheis has for the last fifty years been swept and harried by the Turcoman raiders till not a vestige of habitation has been left in the district. The land, especially along the Heri-rúd, is utterly desolate; but who will pretend that violence and outrage of this exceptional character has obliterated the rights16 of Herat to resume possession of the country on the re-establishment of order and security? In real truth Herat has never abandoned her hold de jure upon Badgheis. The towers along the southern hills, which Macgregor remarked in 1875, were intended to protect the immediate plain of Herat from the further incursions of the Tekkeh savages, who suddenly swept down like a hurricane from the north whenever an opportunity offered, not to serve as landmarks for the Afghan territorial border; they were strictly works of internal defence, and as such have no analogy with the line of border towers along the course of the Heri-rúd, which at an earlier period had been erected by Kilich Khan, an officer of Shah Zamán’s, with a view to resist invasion from Persia, and the ruins of which are still to be seen in a scattered line, extending from Kohsán to Garmáb in the vicinity of Púl-i-Khatún. Practically, and in so far as the safety of Herat is concerned, it can make no great difference if the Russian outposts are stationed at Púl-i-Khatún, or Zulficár, or at Kohsán. Herat would be equally open to attack from any of these points, and must rely for protection on its own means of defence; but it must be remembered that this is not a mere strategical question: on the contrary we are dealing with the rights and property of an independent sovereign as the guardian of his interests, and have no sort of authority to override the one or alienate the other on grounds of geographical or political convenience. Badgheis is unquestionably Afghan territory. Rescripts are still extant, addressed to the inhabitants by the Suddozye kings of Cabul. In 1873 Shir Ali Khan specifically named Badgheis, in his negotiations with Lord Northbrook, as an Afghan district which was likely to be overrun by the Turcomans if these tribes were expelled from Merv by the Russian arms. Again, in the famous memorandum of 1872, I have a certain knowledge that the phrase, “dependency of Herat,” was specially intended to cover Badgheis, and finally the assessment of the district is actually borne on the Herat register at the present day.

And now with regard to the other point at issue between Russia and ourselves—the dependency of Penj-deh,17 which, being situated on the Murgháb, just before the river issues from the hills, should belong geographically to Afghanistan, and which, moreover, is at least forty miles south of a direct line drawn from Serakhs to Khoja Seleh on the Oxus—a brief summary of its history would seem to be required. In antiquity Penj-deh was a mere suburb of the great city of Merver-Rúd, now marked by the ruins of Ak-tepeh. Formed, according to the geographer Yacút, of five separate villages (whence the name) on the river Murgháb, which had been gradually consolidated into a single township under Malik Shah, it was at the time of Yacút’s visit, in A.H. 617, one of the most flourishing places in Khorassan. Shortly afterwards it was ruined by the Mongols, and a second time it was devastated by Timour, but under his successors, and especially during the reigns of Shah Rúkh and Sultan Hussein Mirza, it again rose to a state of great prosperity, and ever since, except during some brief intervals of foreign dominion, it has remained in close dependency on Herat. When Ahmed Shah Abdalli, on the death of Nadir in 1747, established the kingdom of Cabul, the Kushk and Murgháb valleys were held by Eymák tribes, Hazárehs, Fírozkohís, and Jamshídís, who cultivated the lower lands along the rivers and pastured their flocks over the downs of Badgheis, unmixed with either Afghans or Turcomans, but paying revenue to Herat in common with all the other tribes who inhabited the ranges of the Paropamisus.

The earliest Turcoman intruders into the valley were Ersári, from the Oxus. These nomads first appeared in about 1825, and were shortly followed by Salors from Yolatan, and somewhat later by detached parties of Saryks from Merv, all the new visitors, however, acknowledging the jurisdiction of the local Jamshídí or Hazáreh chief, and paying their dues to the Afghan ruler of Herat. In 1858 a further dislocation occurred; the Ersáris, who never liked the Murgháb, returned to the Oxus, while the Salors and Saryks, retreating before the Tekkehs of Merv, took their places at Penj-deh. Later still the Salors crossed over to the Heri-rúd, leaving the Saryks alone in possession of the lands on the Murgháb and Kushk, where they remain in the18 same condition of squatters on Afghan lands to the present day. During all this long period, that is from the first appearance of the Ersáris at Penj-deh, an annual tax has been levied on the Turcoman cultivators and shepherds, either by the local Eymák chiefs—lords of the soil, and themselves accountable to Herat—or by an officer specially deputed for the purpose by the Afghan Governor of Herat. The names of the naibs, or deputy governors, who have thus acted in command of the district are all well known, and in many cases the individuals are still living to attest their employment at Penj-deh under the Afghans. In fact, no question was ever raised as to the Afghan right to Penj-deh, or as to the political condition of the Saryks, until after the Russian occupation of Merv. The Saryks were Turcoman tribesmen renting Afghan lands, and during their tenancy accounted as Afghan subjects, precisely as other divisions of the great Turcoman community who were settled temporarily in Persia, in Khiva, and in Bokhara, during their sojourn paid tribute to, and acknowledged the jurisdiction of, those States. If the Saryks of their own free will desired to quit their Afghan lands at Penj-deh and in Badgheis and migrate to their former pastures, which have passed under the rule of Russia, the Afghans could not properly interfere to prevent them; nor, indeed, with a view to avoiding friction on the frontier, is it at all clear that an arrangement of this nature might not be to the advantage of the Herat Government. But it was wholly indefensible that Russia, on the broad principle of ethnographical unity, should, as she recently did, demand as a right the registration of the Saryks as Russian subjects, and should require the transfer of the lands which they occupied to Russian jurisdiction. A frontier, too, is now boldly claimed, assigning to Russia Penj-deh, with all the adjacent lands on the Murgháb and Kuskh, and troops are moved up the river from Merv to support the claim, at the imminent risk of provoking collision and thus initiating war.

It remains now to consider the prospect before us in regard to this momentous alternative of peace or war. To those who, like myself, have watched19 the cautious and consistent proceedings of Russia in Central Asia since the close of the Crimean war, with a growing presentiment of evil, but still not without a certain admiration of such determined policy and a warm approval in many cases of the results, the immediate future presents no special features of mystery or alarm. The occupation of Merv and the incorporation in the Russian Empire of the vast hordes who roam the steppes from the Caspian to the Oxus was but the crowning act of a long series of costly but tentative enterprises, all leading up to the same much-desired consummation. The threshold of India was reached. Russian Turcomania was now conterminous with British Afghanistan, and it only remained to give effect to the situation in the manner most conducive to Russian interests. It must be understood, then, that in all the recent discussions between London and St. Petersburg regarding lines of frontier, work of the Commission, relations with the tribes, &c., Russia, in prosecution of those interests, has been guided by three distinct considerations, all aiming at the strengthening of her position in view to future pressure upon England. Firstly, she requires the best strategical base available for immediate demonstration against Herat. As far as actual attack is concerned, her power would be as formidable if launched from Serakhs or Merv as if she had already advanced half-way to Herat and were encamped at Zulficár and Chemen-i-bíd; but in respect to a passive but continued pressure, no doubt her best position would be on the northern skirts of the hills which divide Badgheis from Herat, and in full command of the upper valley of the Kushk. Hence her desire to possess a boundary line from Zulficár on the Heri-rúd by Chemen-i-bíd to Meruchek on the Murgháb, and hence the persistency with which she clings to this line, even at the risk of actual conflict. Secondly, she requires the full command of the Murgháb and Kushk valleys, not only because the most direct, and by far the most commodious, road to Herat from her northern base, the Caspian and Askabad, leads by Merv and Penj-deh, but also because Penj-deh dominates the communication between Herat and Afghan Turkestan, and would be20 thus of the greatest strategical importance in the event of war between Russia and Cabul. Hence the insistence with which she clings to Penj-deh and the boldness she has shown in enveloping the place with her troops, hoping, as it would seem, to redeem Alikhanoff’s former failure to obtain peaceful possession by now provoking a disturbance between the Saryks and Afghans which shall justify her own forcible interposition. And, thirdly, in regard to the Saryks of Penj-deh, it should be clearly understood that it is not the tribesmen that Russia principally cares about, but the lands which they occupy. She is tempting them, no doubt, to declare in her favor by every means in her power, and she ostentatiously displays before them the bait that she has now occupied Badgheis as far as Ak Robát, and thus commands the Salt Lake and the pastures which they have hitherto enjoyed as Afghan tenants; but if the Afghans were to resume occupation of Badgheis, and the Saryks were to offer, nevertheless, to migrate to Merv or the Tejend, it is doubtful whether she would receive them. The whole controversy, indeed, may be regarded as a sham, or at best a means to an end, the possession of Penj-deh being the real object aimed at, on account of its affording such a convenient basis for threatening, or even for attacking, Herat.

The measures which Russia has taken to carry out the above objects are of a very grave significance. Although it is known that we have already recognised the validity of the Afghan claim to Badgheis and Penj-deh, and are, moreover, pledged to support by our arms the Amir of Cabul, Abdur Rahman Khan, in the event of an unprovoked aggression on his territory by a foreign enemy, she has, on the mere ground apparently that she contests his claim to these districts, advanced her troops as far as Zulficár, Ak Robát, and Púl-i-Khishti. She has, in fact, as matters stand at present, superseded the work of the commission. She has arbitrarily drawn up a line of frontier deciding all the moot points of jurisdiction in her own favor; and by her military dispositions she has given evidence that she intends to uphold this territorial distribution by force of arms. We have in the meantime done all that was pos21sible with honor to avert hostilities. We have refused to abandon the hope of a settlement of the frontier dispute through the agency of the delimitation commission, and we have in various ways stretched conciliation to the utmost, merely requiring that no further advance shall be made into the debateable land by the pickets or patrols on either side, pending negotiation. Although no formal arrangement to this effect has been agreed to, orders have been issued to the Russian commanders on the spot, and a sort of truce of a very temporary character has been thus established; but what is to be the outcome of this strained position of affairs? The truce cannot be prolonged indefinitely, and in the meantime any chance collision between Cossack and Afghan patrols may set the whole country in a blaze, for considerable reinforcements are said to be marching on Penj-deh both from Merv and from Herat, and there is much exasperation of feeling upon either side.

It is, of course, well understood that neither Russia nor England is desirous of entering on a war at the present time, and if the quarrel were really what it is ostensibly, it might be safely assumed that a recourse to arms would be impossible. To suppose, indeed, that two mighty nations like Russia and England would enter on a serious conflict, which would cost millions of money and entail the sacrifice of thousands of lives, upon a paltry squabble regarding a few hundred square miles of barren desert or a few hundreds of savage Turcomans, would be a simple absurdity. But the fact is that there are far graver interests in the background. Russia, in pursuance of her original design of demonstration against India, will certainly strain every nerve and encounter very serious risks in order to obtain a frontier suitable to her purpose. She desires to secure a strong and permanent position at the foot of the Barkhút hills, not perhaps with a view to undertaking the siege of Herat, for if such were her object the route up the Kushk valley would offer a more convenient mode of approach, but especially in order to increase her prestige among the Turcomans and Persians, and, if possible, to overawe the Afghans, while at the same time she would exert a severe and continuous pressure upon22 India. This pressure undoubtedly would be very inconvenient to us, entailing, as it would, the necessity of a constant preparedness for war, and we should be fully justified in seeking to protect ourselves against it by every means at our command. Already, for defensive purposes, we have created a strong and friendly government in Afghanistan, and we have undertaken to give it our cordial support. If, therefore, Russia continues to maintain the positions which she has usurped far within the Afghan limits, and thus permanently violates the integrity of the country, resisting all negotiation, and even thwarting our efforts through the commission to effect a compromise, there would seem to be no alternative but a resort to arms. The Afghans are quite aware of this, and are prepared to bear the brunt of the attack. The Amir, with very brief preparation, could probably put 100,000 men into the field, and supported with an auxiliary British army, which India, it may be confidently assumed, is ready to supply, would prove at least as formidable an antagonist as Omar Pasha or Shamil. Fortunately there is already a small British force under Sir P. Lumsden in the immediate vicinity of Herat, which in conjunction with the garrison of the city would be sufficient, it is thought, to protect the place from a Russian coup de main, pending the arrival of British reinforcements; and it must be borne in mind that if once the die were cast and Russian supremacy were fairly challenged by us in Central Asia, we might be joined by unexpected allies. The Turcomans and Uzbegs, though cowed at present, are not subdued. Persia is incensed at her spoliation by Russia of the slopes of the Attock and the canals and rice-grounds of old Serakhs, besides being much alarmed at the gradual envelopment by Russian arms of her rich and warlike province of Khorassan; and even Turkey would not be indisposed to strike another blow on behalf of her ravished provinces, if there were the faintest prospect of success. To the possibility of European complications I need not allude, but it is hardly to be doubted that in any general débâcle the balance would be against Russia and in favor of England.

But it is just possible that at the23 eleventh hour Russia may listen to the voice of reason and moderation, and may by timely concession render the resumption of the work of the commission possible. In that case war, immediate war, might be avoided. It must not, however, for a moment be imagined that, unless forced by severe military disaster, Russia would really abandon the great object of threatening India, in pursuit of which she has already sacrificed so much treasure and spilt so much of the best blood of her army. All that we should gain would be a respite. With her attention riveted on Herat, which would henceforward become the centrepiece of the Asiatic political tableau, Russia might be content to withdraw from her present aggressive attitude, and bide her time at Merv and Serakhs. Our own proceedings must in any case mainly depend on the issue of the interview which is about to take place between the Viceroy of India and the Amir of Cabul. If, as there is every reason to anticipate, a complete understanding should be arrived at between the two authorities, the further demonstration against India would be met and checked. The defences of Herat, under British superintendence, would rapidly assume the dimensions and completeness befitting the importance of the position as the frontier fortress of Afghanistan and the “key of India;” and an auxiliary British garrison might even, if the Amir required its co-operation, be furnished from India, so as to enable him to show a bold front to his enemies, or, in case of need, to beat off attack from the north. Under such circumstances the24 situation would very closely resemble that which I ventured to foreshadow in 1874—the only difference, indeed, being that whereas I then proposed, much to the dismay of the peace party both in England and in India, to lease Herat and Candahar of the Amir of Cabul, so as to enable Great Britain to negotiate direct with the Russian Government, in the present case the normal arrangement of territory would remain unchanged, and England would merely appear in relation to Herat as the Amir’s ally and representative. The passage will be found in England and Russia in the East, second edition, 1875, p. 378, and is as follows: “What this occupation [of Herat] might lead to, it is impossible to say. Russia might recoil from contact with us, or we might mutually retire to a convenient distance from each other, or in our respective positions at Merv and Herat—Russia being able to draw on her European resources through the Oxus and the Caspian, while a railway through Candahar connected our advanced garrison with the Indus—we might lay the foundation of that limitary relationship along the whole line of frontier, which, although unsuited to the present state of affairs in Central Asia, must inevitably be the ultimate condition of our joint dominion in the East.”

P. S. It should be well understood that this article has been drawn up on the writer’s personal responsibility, and does not in any way commit the Government to the opinions or line of action which it advocates.—H. C. R.—Nineteenth Century.




A Criticism of Mr. Herbert Spencer.

“La nature est l’injustice même.”—Renan.

Four articles of Mr. Herbert Spencer’s which appeared in the Contemporary Review, have recently been reprinted together, and form now a work which Mr. Spencer has entitled “The Man versus The State.” This little volume merits the most attentive study, because in it the great sociological question of our day is treated in the most masterly manner. The individualist theory was, I think, never expounded better or with stronger arguments based on first principles, or supported by so great a number of clearly analyzed and admirably grouped facts. These pages are also full of important truths and of26 lessons, from whence both nations and governments may derive great benefit. Mr. Spencer’s deductions are so concise and forcible that one feels oneself drawn, against one’s will, to accept his conclusions; and yet, the more I have thought on the subject, the more convinced have I become that these conclusions are not in the true interest of humanity. Mr. Herbert Spencer’s object is to prove the error and danger of State socialism, or, in other words, the error and danger of that system which consists in appropriating State, or communal, revenues to the purpose of establishing greater equality among men.

The eminent philosopher’s statement, that in most civilized countries governments are more and more adopting this course, is indisputable. In England Parliament is taking the lead; in Germany Prince Bismarck, in spite of Parliament; and elsewhere either Parliament or town councils are doing the same thing. Mr. Spencer considers that this effort for the improvement of the condition of the working-classes, which is being everywhere made, with greater or less energy, is a violation of natural laws, which will not fail to bring its own punishment on nations, thus misguided by a blind philanthropy. I believe, on the contrary, that this effort, taken as a whole, and setting aside certain mistaken measures, is not only in strict accordance with the spirit of Christianity, but is also in conformity with the true principles of politics and of political economy.

Let us first consider a preliminary question, on which I accept Mr. Spencer’s views, but for different reasons from his: On what are individual rights founded, and what are the limits of State power? Mr. Spencer refutes with pitiless logic the opinions of those who, with Bentham, maintain that individual rights are State concessions, or who, like Matthew Arnold, deny the existence of natural rights. The absurdity of Bentham’s system is palpably evident. Who creates the government? The people, says he. So the government, thus created, creates rights, and then, having created rights, it confers them on the separate members of the sovereign people, by which it was itself created. The real truth is, that government defines and sanctions rights, and employs27 the public strength to enforce their being respected, but the rights themselves existed before.

Referring to the history of all primitive civilization, Mr. Herbert Spencer proves to Mr. Matthew Arnold that in familial and tribal communities there existed certain customs, which conferred recognized and respected rights, before ever any superior authority which could be designated by the name of State had been formed. Only, I think Mr. Herbert Spencer is wrong in making use of the term “natural rights.” This expression was an invention of the French philosophers of the eighteenth century, and it is still employed in Germany by a certain school of philosophers as Naturrecht. Sir Henry Maine’s clever and just criticism of this expression in his book “Ancient Law” should warn us all of the vague and equivocal meaning it conceals. The jurists and philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries attached two very different significations to the term “natural rights.” They sometimes applied it to the condition of primitive societies, in which their optimism led them to dream of a reign of justice, liberty, and equality, and at other times they made use of it when speaking of the totality of rights which should be possessed by every individual, by reason of his manhood. These two conceptions are equally erroneous. In primitive societies, in spite of certain customs which are the embryo of rights, might reign supreme, as among animals, and the best armed annihilate their weaker neighbors. Certainly, one would look in vain there for a model of a political constitution or code suitable to a civilized people. Neither can it be maintained that the “Rights of man,” as proclaimed by the American and French Revolutions, belong to each individual, only because he forms part of the human species. The limit of rights which may be claimed by any one individual must depend upon his aptitudes for making good use of them. The same civil code and the same political institutions will not equally suit a savage tribe and a civilized nation. If the granting of the suffrage to all were likely to lead a people to anarchy or to despotism, it could not be called a natural right, for suicide is not a right.


If one analyze completely the expression “natural rights,” one finds that it is really not sense. Xavier de Maistre, annoyed by the constant appeals to nature which are to be found in all the writings of the eighteenth century, said, very wittily: “Nature, who and what is this woman?” Nature is subject to certain laws, which are invariable; as, for instance, the law of gravitation. We may call these “laws of nature,” but in human institutions, which are ever varying, nothing of the sort can exist. This superior and ideal right, which is invoked for the purpose of condemning existing laws, and claiming their reform or suppression, should rather be called rational right—that is to say, right in conformity with reason.

In every country, and at all times, an order of things may be conceived—civil, political, penal and administrative laws—which would best conform to the general interest, and be the most favorable to the well-being and progress of the nation. This order of things is not the existing one. If it were, one might say, with the optimists, that all is for the best in the best of possible worlds, and a demand for any amelioration would be a rebellion against natural laws, and an absurdity. But this order of things may be caught sight of by reason, and defined with more or less accuracy by science; hence its name of rational order. If I ask for free trade in France, for a better division of property in England, and for greater liberty in Russia, I do so in the name of this rational order, as I believe that these changes would increase men’s happiness.

This theory permits of our tracing a limit between individual liberty and State power.

Mr. Herbert Spencer proves very clearly that there are certain things which no man would ever choose to abandon to State power; his religious convictions, for instance. On the other hand, all would agree that the State should accept the charge of protecting frontiers and punishing theft and murder, that is to say, the maintaining of peace and security at home and abroad; only here, like most Englishmen, Mr. Herbert Spencer invokes human will. Find out, he says, on the one hand, what the great majority of mankind29 would choose to reserve to an individual sphere of action, and, on the other, what they would consent to abandon to State decisions, and you will then be able to fix the limit of the power of public authority.

I cannot myself admit that human will is the source of rights. Until quite recently, in all lands, slavery was considered a necessary and legitimate institution. But did this unanimous opinion make it any more a right? Certainly not. It is in direct opposition to the order of things which would be best for the general welfare; it cannot, therefore, be a right.

Until the sixteenth century, with the exception of a few Anabaptists who were burnt at the stake, all believed that the State ought to punish heretics and atheists. But this general opinion did not suffice to justify the intolerance then practised. The following line of argument, I think, would be most in keeping with individual interests, and, consequently, with the interests of society in general: A certain portion of men’s acts ought not to be in any way subject to sovereign authority, be it republican or monarchical. But what is to be the boundary of this inviolable domain of individual activity? The will of the majority, or even of the entire population, is not competent to trace it, for history has proved but too often how gross have been the errors committed in such instances. This limit can, therefore, only be fixed by science, which, at each fresh progress in civilization, can discover and proclaim aloud where State power should cease to interfere. Sociological science, for instance, announces that liberty of conscience should always be respected as man’s most sacred possession, and because religious advancement is only to be achieved at this price; that true property, or, in other words, the fruit of personal labor, must not be tampered with, or labor would be discouraged and production would diminish; that criminals must not go unpunished, but that justice be strictly impartial, so that the innocent be not punished with the guilty.

It would not be at all impossible to draw up a formula of these essential rights, which M. Thiers called necessary liberties, and which are already inscribed30 in the constitutions of America, England, France, Belgium, Holland, and all other free nations. It is sometimes very difficult to know where to set bounds to individual liberty, in the interests of public order and of the well-being of others; and it is true, of course, that either the king, the assembly, or the people enacts the requisite laws, but if science has clearly demonstrated a given fact it imposes itself. When certain truths have been frequently and clearly explained, they come to be respected. The evidence of them forms the general opinion, and this engenders laws.

To be brief, I agree with Mr. Herbert Spencer that, contrary to Rousseau’s doctrine, State power ought to be limited, and that a domain should be reserved to individual liberty which should be always respected; but the limits of this domain should be fixed, not by the people, but by reason and science, keeping in view what is best for the public welfare.

This brings me to the principal question I desire to treat. I am of opinion that the State should make use of its legitimate powers of action for the establishment of greater equality among men, in proportion to their personal merits, and I believe that this would be in conformity, not only with its mission properly speaking, but also with rational rights, with the progress of humanity; in a word, with all the rights and all the interests invoked by Mr. Herbert Spencer.

I will briefly resume the motives given by Mr. Herbert Spencer to show that any wish to improve the condition of the working-classes by law, or by the action of public power, so as to bring about a greater degree of equality among men, would be to run against the stream of history, and a violation of natural laws. There are, he says, two types of social organization, broadly distinguishable as the “militant” and the “industrial” type. The first of these is characterized by the régime of status, the second by the régime of contract. The latter has become general among modern nations, especially in England and America, whereas the militant type was almost universal formerly. These two types may be defined as the system of compulsory co-operation. The31 typical structure of the one may be seen in an army formed of conscripts, in which each unit must fulfil commands under pain of death, and receives, in exchange for his services, food and clothing; while the typical structure of the other may be seen in a body of workers who agree freely to exchange specified services at a given price, and who are at liberty to separate at will. So long as States are in constant war against each other, governments must perforce be on a military footing, as in antiquity. Personal defence, then, being society’s great object, it must necessarily give absolute obedience to a chief, as in an army. It is absolutely impossible to unite the blessings of freedom and justice at home with the habitual commission of acts of violence and brutality abroad.

Thanks to the almost insensible progress of civilization and to gradual liberal reforms, the ancient militant State was little by little despoiled of its arbitrary powers, the circle of its interventions grew narrower and narrower, and men became free economically, as well as politically. We were advancing rapidly towards an industrial régime of free contract. But, recently, the Liberals in all countries have adopted an entirely opposite course. Instead of restricting the powers of the State, they are extending them, and this leads to socialism, the ideal of which is to give to government the direction of all social activity. Men imagine that, by thus acting, they are consulting the interests of the working-classes. They believe that a remedy may be found for the sufferings which result from the present order of things, and that it is the State’s mission to discover and apply that remedy. By thus acting they simply increase the evils they would fain cure, and prepare the way for a universal bondage, which awaits us all—the Coming Slavery. Be the authority exercised by king, assembly, or people, I am none the less a slave if I am forced to obey in all things, and to give up to others the net produce of my labor. Contemporary progressism not only runs against the stream of history, by carrying us back to despotic organizations of the militant system, but it also violates natural laws, and thus prepares the degeneration of humanity. In family life the gratuitous32 parental aid must be great in proportion as the young one is of little worth either to itself or to others, and benefits received must be inversely as the power or ability of the receiver.

“Throughout the rest of its life each adult gets benefit in proportion to merit, reward in proportion to desert, merit and desert being understood as ability to fulfil all the requirements of life. Placed in competition with members of its own species, and in antagonism with members of other species, it dwindles and gets killed off, or thrives and propagates, according as it is ill-endowed or well-endowed. If the benefits received by each individual were proportionate to its inferiority, if, as a consequence, multiplication of the inferior was furthered and multiplication of the superior hindered, progressive degradation would result, and eventually the degenerated species would fail to hold its ground in presence of antagonistic species and competing species.” (Page 65.)

“The poverty of the incapable, the distress that comes upon the imprudent, the starvation of the idle, and the shouldering aside of the weak by the strong, which leave so many ‘in shallows and in miseries,’ are the decrees of a large, far-seeing benevolence.” (Page 67.)

When the State, guided by a wrongly inspired philanthropy, prevents the application of this wise law, instead of diminishing suffering it increases it. “It tends to fill the world with those to whom life will bring most pain, and tends to keep out of it those to whom life will bring most pleasure. It inflicts positive misery, and prevents positive happiness.” (“Social Statics,” p. 381, edit. 1851.)

The law that Mr. Herbert Spencer desires society to adopt is simply Darwin’s law—“the survival of the fittest.” Mr. Spencer expresses his astonishment that at the present day, more than at any other period of the world’s history, everything is done to favor the survival of the unfittest, when, at the same time, the truth as revealed by Darwin, is admitted and accepted by an ever-growing number of educated and influential people!

I have endeavored to give a brief sketch of the line of argument followed by Mr. Herbert Spencer. We will now see what reply can be made to it. I think one chief point ought not to have escaped the eminent writer. It is this: If the application of the Darwinian law to the government of societies be really justifiable, is it not strange that public opinion, not only in England, but in all33 other countries, is so strenuously opposed to it, at an epoch which is becoming more and more enlightened, and when sociological studies are pursued with so much interest? If the intervention of public power for the improvement of the condition of the working-classes be a contradiction of history, and a return to ancient militant society, how is it that the country in which the new industrial organization is the most developed—that is to say, England—is also the country where State intervention is the most rapidly increasing, and where opinion is at the same time pressing for these powers of interference to be still further extended? There is no other land in which the effort to succor outcasts and the needy poor occupies so large a portion of the time and means of the well-to-do and of the public exchequer; there is nowhere else to be found a poor-law which grants assistance to even able-bodied men; nowhere else would it ever have been even suggested to attack free contract, and consequently the very first principles of proprietorship, as the Irish Land Bill has done; and nowhere else would a Minister have dared to draw up a programme of reforms such as those announced by Mr. Chamberlain at the Liberal Reform Club at Ipswich (Jan. 14, 1885). On the Continent all this would be looked upon as rank socialism. If, then, as a country becomes more civilized and enlightened it shows more inclination to return to what Mr. Herbert Spencer calls militant organization, and to violate the Darwinian law applied to human society, may we not be led to conclude that this so-called retrogression is really progress? This conclusion would very easily explain what Mr. Herbert Spencer designates as the “wheeling round” of the Liberal party with which he so eloquently reproaches them.

Why did the Liberals formerly do their utmost to restrict State power? Because this power was then exercised in the interests of the upper classes and to the detriment of the lower. To mention but one example: When, in former times, it was desired to fix a scale of prices and wages, it was with a view to preventing their being raised, while, to-day, there is a clamor for a lessening of hours of labor with increased remu34neration. Why do Liberals now wish to add to the power and authority of the State? To be able to ameliorate the intellectual, moral, and material condition of a greater number of citizens. There is no inconsistency in their programme; the object in view, which is the great aim of all civilization, has been always the same—to assure to each individual liberty and well-being in proportion to his merit and activity!

I think that the great fundamental error of Mr. Herbert Spencer’s system, which is so generally accepted at the present day, consists in the belief that if State power were but sufficiently reduced to narrow it to the circle traced by orthodox economists, the Darwinian law and the survival of the fittest would naturally follow without difficulty. Mr. Spencer has simply borrowed from old-fashioned political economy without submitting to the fire of his inexorable criticism, the superficial and false notion that, if the laissez-faire and free contract régime were proclaimed, the so-called natural laws would govern the social order. He forgets that all individual activity is accomplished under the empire of laws, which enact as to ownership, hereditary succession, mutual obligations, trade and industry, political institutions and administrations, besides a multitude of laws referring to material interests, banking organizations, money, credit, colonies, army, navy, railways, &c.

For natural laws, and especially the law of the survival of the fittest, to become established, it would be necessary to annihilate the immense existing edifice of legislation, and to return to the wild state of society when primitive men lived, in all probability, much as do animals, with no possessions, no successions, no protection of the weak by the State.

Those who, with Mr. Spencer and Haeckel and other Conservative evolutionists, are anxious to see the law of the survival of the fittest and of natural selection adopted in human society, do not realize that the animal kingdom and social organization are two such totally different domains that the same law, applied to each, would produce wholly opposite effects. Mr. Herbert Spencer gives an admirable description of the35 manner in which natural selection is accomplished among animals:—

“Their carnivorous enemies not only remove from herbivorous herds individuals past their prime, but also weed out the sickly, the malformed, and the least fleet and powerful. By the aid of which purifying process, as well as by the fighting so universal in the pairing season, all vitiation of the race through the multiplication of its inferior samples is prevented, and the maintenance of a constitution completely adapted to surrounding conditions, and therefore most productive of happiness, is ensured.”

This is the ideal order of things which, we are told, ought to prevail in human societies, but everything in our present organization (which economists, and even Mr. Spencer himself, admit, however, to be natural) is wholly opposed to any such conditions. An old and sickly lion captured a gazelle; his younger and stronger brother arrives, snatches away his prize, and lives to perpetuate the species; the old one dies in the struggle, or is starved to death. Such is the beneficent law of the “survival of the fittest,” It was thus among barbarian tribes. But could such a law exist in our present social order? Certainly not! The rich man, feebly constituted and sickly, protected by the law, enjoys his wealth, marries and has offspring, and if an Apollo of herculean strength attempted to take from him his possessions, or his wife, he would be thrown into prison, and were he to attempt to practise the Darwinian law of selection, he would certainly run a fair risk of the gallows, for this law may be briefly expressed as follows: Room for the mighty, for might is right. It will be objected that in industrial societies the quality the most deserving of recompense, and which indeed receives the most frequent reward, is not the talent of killing one’s fellow-man, but an aptitude for labor and producing. But at the present time is this really so? Stuart Mill says that from the top to the bottom of the social ladder remuneration lessens as the work accomplished increases. I admit that this statement may be somewhat exaggerated, but, I think, no one will deny that it contains a large amount of truth. Let us but cast our eyes around us, and we see everywhere those who do nothing living in ease and even opulence, while the workers who have36 the hardest labor to perform, who toil from night to morning in mines, or unhealthy workshops, or on the sea in tempests, in constant danger of death, are paid, in exchange for all these hardships, a salary hardly sufficient for their means of subsistence, and which, just now, has become smaller and smaller, in consequence of the ever-recurring strikes, and the necessary closing of so many factories, mines, &c., owing to the long-continued depression of trade. What rapid fortunes have been made by stock-broking manœuvres, by trickeries in supplying goods, by sending unseaworthy vessels to sea to become the coffins of their crews! Do not such sights as these urge the partisans of progress to demand the State’s interference in favor of the classes who receive so inadequate a payment for their labors?

The economists of the old school promised that, if the laissez-faire and free contract régime were proclaimed, justice would reign universally; but when people saw that these fine promises were not realized, they had recourse to public power for the obtaining of those results which the much-boasted “liberty” had not secured.

The system of accumulating wealth and hereditary succession alone would suffice to prevent the Darwinian law ever gaining a footing in civilized communities. Among animals, the survival of the fittest takes place quite naturally, because, as generations succeed each other, each one must create his own position according to his strength and abilities; and in this way the purifying process, which Mr. Herbert Spencer so extols, is effected. A similar system was generally prevalent among barbarians; but, at the present day, traces of it may be seen only in instances of “self-made men;” it disappears in their children, who, even if they inherit their parents’ talents and capacities, are brought up, as a rule, in so much ease and luxury that the germs of such talents are destroyed. Their lot in life is assured to them, so why need they exert themselves? Thus they fail to cultivate the qualities and tastes they may have inherited from their parents, and they and their descendants become in all points inferior to their ancestors who secured to them, by labor and industry, the priv37ileged position they hold. Hence the proverb, A père économe fils prodigue (To a thrifty father, a spendthrift son).

It follows, therefore, that those who wish to see the law of natural selection, by the transmission of hereditary aptitudes, established amongst us should begin by demanding the abolition of hereditary succession.

Among animals, the vitiation of the race through the multiplication of its inferior samples is prevented “by the fighting so universal in the pairing season.” In the social order the accumulation and hereditary transmission of wealth effectually impede the process of perfecting the race. In Greece after the athletic sports, or in those fortunate and chimerical days of which the Troubadours sang, “the most beautiful was sometimes given as a prize to the most valiant;” but, in our prosaic age, rank and fortune too often triumph over beauty, strength, and health. In the animal world, the destiny of each one is decided by its personal qualities. In society, a man attains a high position, or marries a beautiful woman, because he is of high birth, or wealthy, although he may be ugly, lazy, and extravagant. The permanent army and the navy would also have to be destroyed, before the Darwinian law could triumph. Conscription on the Continent and enlistment in England (to a less degree) condemn many of the strongest and most warlike men to enforced celibacy; and, as they are subjected to exceptional dangers in the way of hazardous expeditions and wars, the death-rate is far higher amongst them than it would be under ordinary circumstances. In pre-historic times, or in a general way, such men would certainly have begotten offspring, as being the strongest and most apt to survive; in our societies, they are decimated or condemned to celibacy.

Having borrowed from orthodox political economy the notion that it would suffice to put a check on inopportune State intervention for the reign of justice to become established, Mr. Herbert Spencer proceeds to demonstrate that the legislators who enacted the poor-law, and all recent and present law-makers38 “who have made regulations which have brought into being a permanent body of tramps, who ramble from union to union, and which maintain a constant supply of felons by sending back convicts into society under such conditions that they are almost compelled again to commit crimes,” are alone responsible for the sufferings of the working-classes. But may we not blame law-makers, or, rather, our own social order, for measures more fatal in their results than either of these—for instance, the law which concentrates all property into the hands of a few owners? Some years ago, Mr. Herbert Spencer wrote some lines on this subject which are the most severe indictment against the present social order that has ever fallen from the pen of a really competent writer:—

“Given a race of beings having like claims to pursue the objects of their desires—given a world adapted to the gratification of those desires—a world into which such beings are similarly born, and it unavoidably follows that they have equal rights to the use of this world. For if each of them ‘has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other,’ then each of them is free to use the earth for the satisfaction of his wants, provided he allows all others the same liberty. And, conversely, it is manifest that no one or part of them may use the earth in such a way as to prevent the rest from similarly using it, seeing that to do this is to assume greater freedom than the rest, and, consequently, to break the law. Equity, therefore, does not permit property in land. On examination, all existing titles to such property turn out to be invalid; those founded on reclamation inclusive. It appears that not even an equal apportionment of the earth amongst its inhabitants could generate a legitimate proprietorship. We find that, if pushed to its ultimate consequences, a claim to exclusive possession of the soil involves a land-owning despotism. We further find that such a claim is constantly denied by the enactments of our legislature. And we find, lastly, that the theory of the co-heirship of all men to the soil is consistent with the highest civilization; and that, however difficult it may be to embody that theory in fact, equity sternly commands it to be done.”

“By-and-by, men may learn that to deprive others of their rights to the use of the earth is to commit a crime inferior only in wickedness to the crime of taking away their lives or personal liberties.” (“Social Statics,” chap. ix.)

Has Mr. Herbert Spencer changed his opinions as to the proprietorship of the soil since these lines were written? Not at all, for, in the chapter entitled “The Coming Slavery,” he writes that “the movement for land-nationalization is aiming at a system of land-tenure equitable in the abstract.” But if society, in depriving numbers of persons39 of their right of co-heirship of the soil, has “committed a crime inferior only in wickedness to the crime of taking away their lives or personal liberties,” ought it not, in common justice, to endeavor to repair the injury done? The help given by public assistance compensates very feebly for the advantages they are deprived of. In his important book, “La Propriété Sociale,” M. Alfred Fouillée, examining the question from another standpoint, very accurately calls this assistance “la justice reparative.” The numerous and admirable charitable organizations which exist in England, the keen emotion and deep commiseration manifested when the little pamphlet, “The Bitter Cry of Outcast London,” was first published, the growing preoccupation of Government with the condition of the working-classes, must be attributed, in the first instance certainly to Christian feeling, but also, in a great measure, to a clearer perception of certain ill-defined rights possessed by those who have been kept deprived of national or rather communal co-heirship. Mr. Herbert Spencer has expressed this idea so closely and eloquently that I hope I may be allowed to quote the passage:—

“We must not overlook the fact that, erroneous as are these poor-law and communist theories, these assertions of a man’s right to maintenance and of his right to have work provided for him, they are nevertheless nearly related to a truth. They are unsuccessful efforts to express the fact that whoso is born on this planet of ours thereby obtains some interest in it—may not be summarily dismissed again—may not have his existence ignored by those in possession. In other words, they are attempts to embody that thought which finds its legitimate utterance in the law: All men have equal rights to the use of the earth.... After getting from under the grosser injustice of slavery, men could not help beginning in course of time to feel what a monstrous thing it was that nine people out of ten should live in the world on sufferance, not having even standing room save by allowance of those who claim the earth’s surface.” (“Social Statics,” p. 345.)

When one reads through that substantial essay, “The Man versus The State,” it appears as if the principal or, indeed, the sole aim of State socialism were the extension of public assistance and increased succor for the unworthy, whereas the reality is quite the reverse of this! Scientific socialism seeks, first of all, the means of so raising the work40ing-classes that they may be better able to maintain themselves and, consequently, to dispense with the help of others; and, secondly, it seeks to find what laws are the most in conformity with absolute justice, and with that admirable precept, “Benefit in proportion to merit, reward in proportion to desert.” In the speech delivered by Mr. Shaw Lefevre, last year (1884), as President of the Congress of Social Science, at its opening meeting at Birmingham, he traced, in most striking language, all the good that State intervention had effected in England of late years: Greater justice enforced in the relations between man and man, children better educated and better prepared to become useful and self-supporting members of the community, the farmer better guaranteed against the exaggerated or unjust demands of the proprietor, greater facilities for saving offered, health ensured to future generations by the hours of labor being limited, the lives of miners further safeguarded, so that there are less frequent appeals to public assistance, and, as a practical result of this last measure, the mortality in mines fallen in the last three years to 22·1 per thousand, as compared to 27·2 per thousand during the ten previous years—a decrease of 20 per cent.! One fact is sufficient to show the great progress due to this State legislation: in an ever-increasing population, crime is rapidly and greatly diminishing.

Suppose that, through making better laws, men arrive gradually at the condition of the Norwegian peasantry, or at an organization similar to that existing in the agricultural cantons of Switzerland; that is to say, that each family living in the country has a plot of ground to cultivate and a house to live in: in this case every one is allowed to enjoy the full fruit of his labor, and receives reward in proportion to his activity and industry, which is certainly the very ideal of justice—cuique suum.

The true instinct of humanity has ever so understood social organization that property is the indispensable basis of the family, and a necessary condition of freedom. To prevent any one individual from being deprived of a share in the soil, which was in primitive ages considered to be the collective property of the tribe, it was subjected to periodical41 divisions; these, indeed, still take place in the Swiss Allmend, in some Scottish townships, in the greater part of Java, and in the Russian Mir.

If such a régime as this were established, there would be no more “tramps wandering from union to union,” In such a state of society as this, not in such as ours, the supreme law which ought to govern all economic relations might be realized. Mr. Herbert Spencer admirably defines this law in the following passage:—

“I suppose a dictum on which the current creed and the creed of science are at one may be considered to have as high an authority as can be found. Well, the command, If any would not work, neither should he eat, is simply a Christian enunciation of that universal law of nature under which life has reached its present height, the law that a creature not energetic enough to maintain itself must die; the sole difference being, that the law which in one case is to be artificially enforced is in the other case a natural necessity.”

This passage ought to be transcribed at the commencement of every treatise on social science as the supreme aim of all sociological research; only the delusion, borrowed from the old political economy, which consists in the belief that this dictum of science and Christianity is in practice in our midst, ought to be suppressed.

Is it not a fact that, everywhere, those who can prove by authentic documents that, for centuries past, their ancestors have thriven in idleness are the richest, the most powerful, the most sought after? Only at some future date will this dictum of science and Christianity be brought to bear on our social organization, and our descendants will then establish an order of things which will create economic responsibility, and ensure to each the integral enjoyment of the produce of his labor. The difficult but necessary work of sociology is to endeavor to discover what this organization should be, and to prepare its advent. Mr. Shaw Lefevre’s speech shows very clearly the road that ought to be taken.

Mr. Herbert Spencer thinks, however, that this road would lead us directly to a condition of universal slavery. The State would gradually monopolize all industrial enterprises, beginning with the railways and tele42graphs as it has already done in Germany and Belgium, then some other industries as in France, then mines, and finally, after the nationalization of land, it would also take up agricultural enterprise. The freedom enjoyed by a citizen must be measured, he says, not by the nature of the government under which he lives, but by the small number of laws to which he is subject. The essential characteristic of the slave is that he is forced to work for another’s benefit. The degree of his slavery varies according to the greater or smaller extent to which effort is compulsorily expended for the benefit of another, instead of for self-benefit; in the régime which is approaching, man will have to work for the State, and to give up to it the largest portion of his produce. What matters it that the master under whose command he labors is not an individual, but society? Thus argues Mr. Herbert Spencer.

In my opinion, the State will never arrive at a monopoly of all industries, for the very simple reason that such a system would never answer. It is possible that some day a social organization such as Mr. Albert Schäffle, formerly Finance Minister in Austria, has explained, may grow up, in which all branches of production are placed in the hands of co-operative societies. But, be that as it may, men would be no more slaves in workshops belonging to the State than in those of merchants or manufacturers of the present day. Mr. Herbert Spencer can every easily assure himself of this fact. Let him visit the State collieries at Saarbruck, or inspect the Belgian railways, and interrogate all the officials and workmen employed; he will find that, from the highest to the lowest, they are quite as free, quite as contented with their lot, as those engaged in any private industry. There is even far more guarantee against arbitrary measures, so that their real freedom is greater than elsewhere. The proof of this is the fact that posts in any industries belonging to the State are always sought for by the best workmen. If the degree of man’s slavery varies according to the ratio between that which he is forced to yield up and that which he is allowed to retain, then it must be ad43mitted that the majority of workmen and small farmers are certainly slaves now, for they have very little or no property, and, as their condition almost entirely depends on the hard law of competition, they can only retain for themselves the mere necessaries of life! Are the Italian contadini, whose sad lot I depicted in my “Lettres d’Italie,” free? They are reduced to live entirely on bad maize, which subjects them to that terrible scourge, the pellagra. What sad truth is contained in their reply to the Minister who advised them not to emigrate!—

“What do you mean by the nation? Do you refer to the most miserable of the inhabitants of the land? If so, we are indeed the nation. Look at our pale and emaciated faces, our bodies worn our with over-fatigue and insufficient food. We sow and reap corn, but never taste white bread; we cultivate the vine, but a drop of wine never touches our lips. We raise cattle, but never eat meat; we are covered with rags, we live in wretched hovels; in winter we suffer from the cold, and both winter and summer from the pangs of hunger. Can a land which does not provide its inhabitants, who are willing to work, with sufficient to live upon, be considered by them as a fatherland?”

The Flemish agricultural laborer, who earns less than a shilling a-day, and the small farmer, whose rack-rent absorbs the entire net profits; the Highland crofters, who have been deprived of the communal land, the sacred inheritance of primitive times, where they could at least raise a few head of cattle; the Egyptian fellahs, whose very life-blood is drained by European creditors—in a word, all the wretched beings all over the world where the soil is owned by non-workers, and who labor for insufficient remuneration; can they, any of them, be called free? It is just possible that, if the State were to become the universal industry director (which, in my opinion, is an impossible hypothesis), their condition would not be improved; but at all events it could not be worse than it is now.

I do not believe that “liberty must be surrendered in proportion as the material welfare is cared for.” On the contrary, a certain degree of well-being is a necessary condition of liberty. It is a mockery to call a man free who, by labor, cannot secure to himself the necessaries of existence, or to whom labor is impossible because he possesses44 nothing of his own, and no one will employ him!

Compare the life of the soldier with that of the hired workman either in a mine or a factory. The first is the type of the serf in “The Coming Slavery,” and the second the type of the independent man in an industrial organization under the free contract régime. Which of the two possesses the most real liberty? The soldier, when his daily duties are accomplished, may read, walk, or enjoy himself in accordance with his tastes; the workman, when he returns home worn out with fatigue after eleven or twelve hours’ hard labor, too often finds no other recreation than the gin-palace. The laborer at his task must always, and all day long, obey the foreman or overseer, whether he be employed by a private individual, by the State, or by a co-operative society.

“Hitherto,” says Mr. Herbert Spencer, “you have been free to spend your earnings in any way which pleases you; hereafter you shall not be free to spend it, but it will be spent for the general benefit.” The important point, he adds, is the amount taken from me, not the hand that takes it. But if what is taken from my revenue is employed to make a public park which I am free to enter whenever I feel inclined, to build public baths where I may bathe in summer or winter, to open libraries for my recreation and instruction, clubs where I may spend my evenings, and schools where my children may receive an education which will enable them to make their own way in the world; to build healthy houses, let at a low rent, which save me the cruel necessity of living in slums, where the soul and the body are alike degraded; if all this be done, would the result be the same as if this sum were taken by some private Crœsus to spend on his personal pleasures and caprices? In the course of last summer, while in Switzerland and Baden, I visited several villages where each family is supplied, from forests belonging to the commune, with wood for building purposes and for fuel; also with pasturage for their cattle, and with a small plot of ground on which to grow potatoes, fruit, and vegetables. In addition to this, the wages of all public servants are paid for from the communal revenue, so that45 there is no local taxation whatever.3 Suppose that these woods and meadows, and this land, all belonged to a landed proprietor, instead of to the commune; he would go and lavish the revenue in large capitals or in travelling. What an immense difference this would make to the inhabitants! To appreciate this, it suffices merely to compare the condition of the Highland crofters, the free citizens of one of the richest countries in the world, and whose race has ever been laborious, with that of the population of these villages, hidden away in the Alpine cantons of Switzerland or in the gorges of the Black Forest. If, in the Highland villages of Scotland, rentals had been, as in these happy communes of Switzerland and Baden, partly reserved for the inhabitants, and partly employed in objects of general utility, how very different would have been the lot of these poor people! Had they but been allowed to keep for themselves the sea-weed and the kelp which the sea brings them, how far better off would they have been than they now are, as is admirably proved in Mr. Blackie’s interesting book, “The Scottish Highlanders.”

A similar remark may also be applied to politics. What matters it, says Mr. Herbert Spencer, that I myself contribute to make laws if these laws deprive me of my liberty? He mentions ancient Greece as an example to startle us at the46 notion of our coming state of slavery. He writes: “In ancient Greece the accepted principle was, that the citizen belonged neither to himself nor to his family, but to his city—the city being, with the Greek, equivalent to the community. And this doctrine, proper to a state of constant warfare, is one which socialism unawares re-introduces into a state intended to be purely industrial.” It is perfectly certain that the régime of ancient Greek cities, which was founded on slavery, cannot be suitable to modern society, which is based on a system of labor. But we must not allow ourselves to forget what Greece was, nor all we owe to that Greek civilization, which, Mr. Herbert Spencer says, the “coming slavery” threatens to re-introduce amongst us. Not only philosophy, literature, and arts flourished as they have never done in any other age, but the political system so stamped characters with individuality that the illustrious men of Greece are types of human greatness, whose deeds and sayings will be engraven on the memory of men so long as the world lasts. If the “coming slavery” gives us such men as Pisistratus, Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, Lycurgus, Sophocles, Thucydides, Epaminondas, Aristides, or Pericles, we shall, I think, have no cause to complain! But how is it that Greece produced such a bevy of great men? By her democratic institutions, combined with a marvellous system of education, which developed simultaneously the faculties of the mind and the body.

The German army, in spite of its iron discipline, arrives at results somewhat similar, though in a less degree. A rough peasant joins a regiment; he is taught to walk properly, to swim, and to shift for himself; his education is made more complete, and he becomes a man of independent character, better fitted to survive in the struggle for life. If the authorities in towns levy heavy taxes, and employ the money in improving the condition of the inhabitants and in forming those who need forming, even more than in the German army, and after the fashion of the ancient Greeks, will not the generations yet to come be better able to earn their own livelihood, and to maintain an honorable position, than if they had been allowed47 to pass their childhood in the gutters? Hr. Herbert Spencer reasons falsely when he says, “What matters it that I make the laws if these laws deprive me of my liberty?” Laws which tax me to degrade and rob me are odious, but laws which deprive me of what I have for my own good and for the further development of my faculties are well-meaning, as is the constraint imposed on his children by a wise father for their instruction or correction. Besides, to contribute to make laws elevates a man’s character. As Stuart Mill has proved, this is indeed one of the great advantages of an extension of the suffrage. A man called upon to vote is naturally raised from the sphere of personal to that of general interests. He will read, discuss, and endeavor to obtain information. Others will argue with him, try to change his opinions, and he will himself realize that he has a certain importance of his own, that he has a word to say in the direction of public affairs. The elevating influence of this sentiment over French, and still more over Swiss, citizens is remarkable.

It is perfectly true that, for political and social reforms to be productive of fruits, the society into which they are introduced must be in a sufficiently advanced condition to be able to understand and apply them, but it must not be forgotten that improved institutions make better men.

Go to Norway; crimes are hardly known there. In the country people never close their doors at night, locks and bolts are scarcely known, and there are no robberies; probably, first, because the people are moral and religious, but certainly, also, because property is very equally divided. None live in opulence and none in absolute beggary, and certainly misery and degradation, which often results from misery, are the causes of the great majority of crimes.

The rich financier, Helvetius, wrote, very truly, that, if every citizen were an owner of property, the general tone of the nation would be conservative, but if the majority have nothing, robbery then becomes the general aim. (“De l’Homme,” sect. vi. chap. vii.)

In conclusion, let us try to go to the root of the matter. Two systems are suggested as cures for the evils under48 which society is suffering. On the one hand, it may be said, in accordance with the doctrines of Christianity and socialism, that these evils are the consequences of men’s perversity and selfishness, and that it behoves charity and fraternity to remedy them. We must do our best to assist our unfortunate brethren. But how? By trying, Christ tells us, to imitate God’s Kingdom, where “the last shall be first and the first last;”—or by “having all things in common,” say the Apostles in all the ardor of primitive Christianity, and later on certain religious communities;—or by the giving of alms and other charitable acts, says the Christianity of the middle ages;—while socialism maintains that this may be affected by reforms in the laws regulating the division of property. On the other hand, political economy and evolutionary sociology teach us that these miseries are the inevitable and beneficent consequences of natural laws; that these laws, being necessary conditions of progress, any endeavor to do away with them would be to disturb the order of nature and delay the dawn of better things. By “the weeding out of the sickly and infirm,” and the survival of the fittest, the process of amelioration of species in the animal kingdom is accomplished. The law of natural selection should be allowed free and ample scope in human society. “Society is not a manufacture, but a growth.” Might is really right, for it is to the general interest that the mighty should triumph and perpetuate the race. Thus argues what is now called Science.

In a book entitled “The True History of Joshua Davidson,” the author places ideal Christianity and contemporary society face to face, and shows very clearly the opposition which exists between the doctrines of would-be science and those of the Gospel:—


“If the dogmas of political economy are really exact, if the laws of the struggle for life and the survival of the fittest must really be applied to human society, as well as to plants and animals, then let us at once admit that Christianity, which gives assistance to the poor and needy, and which stretches out a hand to the sinner, is a mere folly; and let us at once abandon a belief which influences neither our political institutions nor our social arrangements, and which ought not to influence them. If Christ was right, then our present Christianity is wrong, and if sociology really contains scientific truth, then Jesus of Nazareth spoke and acted in vain, or rather He rebelled against the immutable laws of nature.” (Tauchnitz edition, p. 252.)

Mr. William Graham, in his “Creed of Science” (p. 278), writes as follows:—

“This great and far-reaching controversy, the most important in the history of our species, which is probably as old as human society itself, and certainly as old as the ‘Republic’ of Plato, in which it is discussed, or as Christianity, which began with a communistic form of society, had yet only within the past half-century come to be felt as a controversy involving real and living issues of a momentous character, and not utopias only remotely bordering upon the possible.”

I think it may be proved that this so-called “doctrine of science” is contrary to facts, and is, consequently, not scientific; whereas the creed of Christianity is in keeping with both present facts and ideal humanity.

Darwin borrowed his ideal of the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest from Malthus, from whom he also drew his theories of evolution and of transformism; but no naturalist ever dreamt of applying either of these laws to human society. It has been reserved to sociology to attempt this, because it has accepted, blindfolded, from the hands of economists, this most erroneous principle: that society is governed by natural laws, and that it suffices to give them free scope for the greatest possible happiness and prosperity to reign. It is manifestly true that, as human society is comprehended in what we call Nature, it must obey her laws; but the laws and institutions, in all their different forms, which decree as to the acquisition and transmission of property or possessions, and hereditary succession, in a word, all civil and penal laws, emanate from men’s will, and from the decisions of legislators; and if experience, or a higher conception of justice, shows us that these laws are bad, or in any way lacking, we are free to change them. As far as the Darwinian laws are concerned, it would be perfectly impossible to apply them to existing society without more radically destroying all established institutions than the most avowed Nihilist would wish to do.

If it be really advisable that the law of the “survival of the fittest” should50 be established amongst us, the first step to be taken would be the abolition of all laws which punish theft and murder. Animals provide themselves with food by physical activity and the use of their muscles. Among men, in consequence of successive institutions, such as slavery, servitude, and revenue, numbers of people now live in plenty on their income, and do nothing at all. If Mr. Herbert Spencer is really desirous to see the supreme principle, “reward in proportion to desert,” in force amongst us, he must obtain, first of all, the suppression of the existing regulations as to property. In the animal world, the destiny of each is decided by its aptitudes. Among ourselves, the destiny of each is determined by the advantages obtained or inherited from parents, and the heir to, or owner of, a large estate is sure to be well received everywhere. We see then, that before Darwinian laws can become established, family succession must be abolished. Animals, like plants, obey the instincts of nature, and reproduce themselves rapidly; but incessant carnage prevents their too excessive multiplication! As men become more civilized, peace becomes more general; they talk of their fellow-men as their brothers, and some philosophers even dream—the madmen!—of arbitration supplanting war! The equilibrium between the births and the deaths is thus upset! To balance it again, let us glorify battles, and exclaim, with General Moltke, that the idea of suppressing them is a mischievous utopia; let us impose silence on those dangerous fanatics who repeat incessantly, “Peace on earth, good-will towards men.”

In the very heart of nature reigns seeming injustice; or, as M. Renan puts it more strongly, nature is the embodiment of injustice. A falling stone crushes both the honest man and the scamp! A bird goes out to find food for its young, and after long search is returning to its nest with its well-earned gains, when an eagle, the despot of the air, swoops down and steals the food; we think this iniquitous and odious, and would not tolerate such an instance amongst us. Vigorous Cain kills gentle Abel. Right and justice protest. They should not do so, for it is the mere putting in practice51 “of the purifying process by which nature weeds out the least powerful and prevents the vitiation of the race by the multiplication of its inferior samples.” Helvetius admirably defines, for its condemnation, this Darwinian law which Herbert Spencer would have society accept:—

“The savage says to those who are weaker than himself: Look up to the skies and you see the eagle swooping down on the dove; cast your eyes on the earth and you see the lion tearing to pieces the stag or the antelope; while in the depths of the ocean small fishes are destroyed by sharks. The whole of nature announces that the weak must be the prey of the strong. Strength is a gift of the gods. Through it I become possessor of all it is in my power to capture.” (“De l’Homme,” iv. 8.)

The constant effort of moralists and legislators has been to replace the reign of might by a reign of justice. As Bacon says, In societate aut vis aut lex viget. The object is to subject men’s actions more and more to the empire of the law, and that the law should be more and more in conformity with equity. Society has ever been, and still is, to a great extent, too much a reflection of nature. Violations of justice are numerous, and, if these are to be put a stop to, we must oppose ourselves still more to the laws of nature, instead of contemplating their re-establishment.

This is why Christianity, which is an ardent aspiration after justice, is in real accordance with true science. In the book of Job the problem is tragically proposed. The unjust are equally happy with the just, and, as in nature, the strong live at the cost of the weak. Right protests against this, and the voice of the poor is raised against their oppressors. Listen. What deep thought is contained in the following passage!—“Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them” (Job xxi. 7-9). “Some remove land-marks; they violently take away flocks and feed thereof. They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry; which make oil within their walls, and tread their wine-presses, and suffer thirst” (Job xxiv. 2, 10, 11).

The prophets of Israel raised an elo52quent protest against the evils then reigning in society, and announced that a time should come when justice would be established upon the earth. These hopes of a Messiah were expressed in such precise terms that they may serve as a programme of the reforms which yet remain to be accomplished. “He shall judge the poor of the people, He shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains” (Psalm lxxii. 4, 13, 16). “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah xxxii. 17). “Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies, and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast labored; but they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the Lord; and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of My holiness” (Isaiah lxii. 8, 9). In the New Jerusalem “there shall be no more sorrow nor crying,” “They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of My people, and Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isaiah lxv. 21, 22).

The prophet thus raises his voice in favor of the poor, in the name of justice, not of charity and mercy. “The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of His people and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What mean ye that ye beat My people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts” (Isaiah iii. 14, 15). “Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth” (Isaiah v. 8). In the future society property will be ensured to all, and every one will “sit under his vine and under his fig-tree” (Micah iv. 4).

The ideal of the prophets comprehends, then, in the first place, the triumph of justice, which will bring liberty to the oppressed, consolation to the outcast, and the produce of their labors to53 the workers; and secondly, and chiefly, it will bring the glorification and domination of the elect people—Israel.

The ideal of the Gospel makes less of this second consideration of national grandeur and pre-eminence, and places in the foreground the radical transformation of the social order. The Gospel is the “good tidings of great joy,” the Εὐαγγέλιον, carried to the poor, the approach of the Kingdom of God—that is to say, of the reign of justice. “The last shall be first;” therefore the pretended “natural order” will be reversed!

Who will possess the earth? Not the mightiest, as in the animal creation, and as Darwinian laws decree; not the rich, “for it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” Lazarus is received into Abraham’s bosom, while Dives is cast into the place of torment, “where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The first of biological precepts, the one respecting the survival of the fittest, as it immolates others for personal benefit, is essentially selfish, which is a vice incessantly reprobated in the New Testament. “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians ii. 4). The chief of all Christian virtues is charity; it is the very essence of the Gospel. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (St. Matthew vi. 33).

How very true is the economic doctrine that, with equitable laws, each should enjoy the integral produce of his labor, and that, were this the case, personal activity would attain its highest degree. Nothing is more adverse to the prosperity of a nation than unjust laws; and this is precisely what the prophets and Christ teach us.

If Darwinian laws were applied to human society, the utility of history, considered as a moral lesson for both kings and people, would be destroyed. The history of man might then be looked upon as a mere zoological strife between nations, and a simple lengthening out of natural history. What moral instruction can possibly be drawn from the study of the animal world, where the strong devour or destroy the weak. No54 spectacle could be more odious or more demoralizing!

The incomparable sublimity of the Gospel, which is, alas! only too often misinterpreted, consists in an ardent longing for perfection, in that aspiration for an ideal of justice which urged Jesus and His earliest disciples to condemn the world as it then was. Thence sprang the hatred of evil in its many various forms, the desire for better things, for reforms and progress! Why do Mahometans stand still in the march of civilization, while Christian countries advance ever more and more rapidly? Because the first are resigned to evil, whereas the second combat and endeavor to extirpate it. The stoicism—the elevated character of which can hardly be sufficiently admired—the austerity, and purity of such ancients as Marcus Aurelius, nevertheless, bowed before absolute facts, looking upon them as the inevitable results of the actual and natural order of things. Like modern evolutionists, they glorified the laws of nature, considering them perfect. Their optimism led them so far as to adore the cosmos as a divinity. “All that thou wilt, O Cosmos,” says Marcus Aurelius, “is my will; nothing is too early or too late for me, if it be at the hour thou decidest upon. My fruit is such as thy seasons bring, O Nature! From thee comes all. Thou art all. All go towards thee. If the gods be essentially good and just, they must have permitted nothing, in the arrangement of the world, contrary to right and justice.” What a contrast between this serene satisfaction and the complaints of Job, of the prophets, and of Christ Himself! The true Christian, in direct opposition to stoics and to Mr. Herbert Spencer, holds that the world is completely infected with evil; he avoids it carefully, and lives in the hope of a general cataclysm, which will reduce our globe to ashes, and make place for a new and purified heaven and earth! The belief of stoics and of evolutionary sociologists logically advocates inaction, for it respects the present order of things as attributable to natural laws. The Christian’s belief leads him to ardently desire reform and progress, but also, when he is deceived and reduced to despair, it occasionally culminates in revolutionary violence and in Nihilism.


Not only Jesus, but all great religious reformers, such as Buddha, Mahomet, Luther, and the great philosophers, especially Socrates and Plato, and the great law-givers, from Solon and Lycurgus to the legislators of the French Revolution—all the elect of humanity, in fact—are struck with the evils under which our race is forced to suffer, and have imagined and revealed an ideal social order more in conformity with the ideal of justice; and in their writings they place this Utopia in contrast with the existing order. The more Christianity becomes despoiled of dogmas, and the more the ideas of moral and social reform, contained in Christ’s teachings, are brought forward as the chief aim, the more Mr. Herbert Spencer’s principles will be shunned and avoided. In the splendid development of Roman law, which lasted fifteen hundred years, a similar evolution took place. In the beginning, in the laws of the twelve tables, many traces of the hard law in favor of the mighty may be found. This is symbolized by the lance (quir), which gave its name to the quiritarian right. The father was allowed to sell or destroy his children, as they were his possession. He had absolute power over his slaves, who were his “things”. The creditor might throw his debtor in prison, or even cause him to be cut in pieces—in partes secanto. The wife was entirely in her husband’s power—in manu. Little by little, as centuries rolled on, eminent lawgivers succeeded each other, and gradual changes were made, so that, finally, just and humanitarian principles penetrated the entire Roman code, and the Darwinian law, which glorifies might, gave place to the Christian law, which extols justice.

This movement will most assuredly continue, in spite of all the abuse it may receive from Mr. Herbert Spencer, and from others who think as he does. It is a result of the advance of civilization from the commencement of Christianity, and even from the time of the prophets of Israel. It will manifest itself, not as it did in the middle ages, by works of mercy, but, under the control of economic science, by the intervention of the State in favor of the disinherited, and by measures such as Mr. Shaw Lefevre approves of, so that each and all should56 be placed in a position to be able to command reward in proportion to the amount of useful labor accomplished.

Darwinian laws, generally admitted in the domain of natural history and in the animal kingdom, will never be applied to human societies, until the sentiments of charity and justice, which Christianity engraves on our hearts, are completely eradicated.—Contemporary Review.

BY S. G. G.


One of the most noteworthy objects in the great pageant that passed through the crowds of London on the 10th of last November was an effigy of Wat Tyler, upon a lofty platform, lying prostrate, as if slain, at the feet of Walworth, the Mayor, who stood with drawn sword beside the seeming corpse. The suggestion was that of hero and miscreant—rebellion defeated—the City saved! Many there were in the line of procession who showed, by unexpected hisses and groans, that they did not so read history; and it seems worth while to ask, especially while the greatest contemporary of the Mayor and the Tyler is freshly brought to our remembrance by the Wycliffe quincentenary commemoration, what that scene in Smithfield really meant and what was its issue.

In reading the old chronicles we have to remember the fable of the Lion and the Man. Monks like Knighton of Leicester, and Walsingham of St. Albans, or courtiers like Jean Froissart, with great simplicity betray their bias, and we must often “read between the lines.” It is useful also to recollect that the distinction between a rebellion and a revolution turns very much upon the fact of success. Had Wat Tyler won the day, and secured the charter which seemed so nearly within the people’s reach, his name would have come down to us in better company than that of Jack Cade and other vulgar insurgents and rioters. A second Magna Charta would have become memorable in English history, and its chief promoter might have been known to posterity as Sir Walter Tyler, or perhaps the Earl of Kent.

We all know the story of the poll-tax—that intolerable impost4 which58 followed the “glorious wars” and the sumptuous extravagance of Edward III., and which awakened such bitter resistance in the early days of Richard II. The monkish historians themselves tell us how harshly and brutally the tax was levied, especially by one John Legg, the farmer of the tax for Essex and Kent; and if this part of the history stood alone we might pause before we wholly condemned the hasty blow by which the Dartford bricklayer or “tiler” avenged the insulted modesty of his child.5 Why should we give all our admiration to William Tell—with his second arrow for the heart of Gessler had his first sped too fatally6—and not recognise in this man of Kent also the honorable indignation of an outraged father? But this may pass, as it is plainly impossible that the great insurrection could have been wholly due to such a cause. Sixty thousand men from Kent, Essex, Sussex, Bedford, would never have been roused to revolt even by the news of this Dartford tragedy. The deed, no doubt, gave impulse to the movement; but the causes of disaffection had been at work long before the levy of the poll-tax; and the “peasant revolt” becomes most deeply interesting, as well as important, when regarded as the first passionate claim of59 the “lower classes” in England for freedom and their rights as men.

The courtly Froissart informs us that there was in the county of Kent7 “a crazy priest,” one John Ball, who had long been testifying against the serfdom in which the peasantry were held, “Why,” he asked, “should we be slaves? Are we not all descended from Adam and Eve? By what title do our masters hold us in bondage?” Froissart declares that Ball preached absolute communism, but there is no evidence that he went beyond the vigorous assertion of the equal right of all to freedom. “Every Sunday after mass,” writes the chronicler, “as the people came out of church, he would preach to them in the market-place (he had been excommunicated), and assemble a crowd round him ... and he was much beloved by the people.” As a consequence “the evil-disposed in these districts began to rise, saying they were too severely oppressed, that at the beginning of the world there were no slaves, and that no one ought to be treated as such, unless he had committed treason against his lord, as Lucifer had done against God; but they had done no such thing, for they were neither angels nor spirits, but men, formed after the same likeness with their lords, who treated them as beasts. This they would no longer bear, but had determined to be free, and if they labored or did any other work for their lords they would be paid for it.”

Such words of the “crazy priest” and his “evil-disposed” hearers seem to us reasonable enough. Their chief fault, perhaps, is that they belong to the nineteenth century, rather than to the fourteenth. Never was a man more emphatically before his time than this same John Ball. The usual result followed. For these and the like “foolish words” he was arrested and imprisoned by Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury. But those words could not die, although the first attempt to realise them in deed was—like many a first effort for justice, truth and freedom—premature and a little blind.


At the beginning of 1831, then, John Ball was lying in the archbishop’s prison at Maidstone. Yet it was not in Kent that the rising actually began. Five thousand men of Essex, according to Walsingham, took the first step to revolt. The monkish chronicler makes merry with their equipment. “Sticks, rusty swords, hatchets, smoke-dried bows the color of old ivory, some with but an arrow apiece, and many arrows with but one feather!” “Think of this ragged regiment,” he contemptuously writes, “aspiring to become masters of the realm!”

Placards and flysheets of a quaint and grotesque rather than of an inflammatory character, called upon the people to assert their rights. Knighton of Leicester gives some remarkable specimens, transcribed from the old black-letter manuscripts, purporting to be issued by “Jack the Miller,” “Jack the Carter,” “Jack Trueman,” and “Jack Straw.”8 For the most part they are written in a kind of doggerel rhyme, as in the Miller’s appeal: “With right and with might; with skill and with will; let might help right, and skill before will; and might before right, then goeth our mill aright.” “In the rude jingle of these lines,” writes the late Mr. Green,61 “began for England the literature of political controversy. They are the first predecessors of the pamphlets of Milton and Burke. Rough as they are, they express clearly enough the mingled passions which met in the revolt of the peasants; their longing for a right rule, for plain and simple justice; the scorn of the immorality of the nobles, and the infamy of the Court; their resentment at the perversion of the law to the cause of oppression.”

A leader of this motley band was one Baker, of Fobbing, in Essex, of whom a story is told similar to that of the Dartford Tyler. The Essex men sent messengers to Kent, and a great company, doubtless of John Ball’s hearers, speedily assembled. They roamed the country. Broke open the archbishop’s prison at Maidstone, and liberated the popular champion. They stopped several companies of Canterbury pilgrims on their way to the shrine of Becket, not to maltreat or to pillage them, but to impose an oath “to be loyal to King Richard, to accept no king of the name of John”—a clause aimed at the deservedly hated John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster—“and, for the rest, to stir up their fellow-citizens to resist all taxes except the ‘fifteenths,’ which their fathers and predecessors had acknowledged and paid.” Wat Tyler of Maidstone—a different person evidently from the man who had slain the tax-collector at Dartford—was chosen as their leader. Hollinshed, after Walsingham, describes him as “a verie craftie fellow and indued with much wit9 (if he had well applied it).”

A march upon London was now planned, for the purpose of meeting King Richard face to face, and demanding a redress of the people’s grievances. Sir John Newton, one of the king’s knights, was led, by persuasion or force, to act as envoy for the insurgents. The king shut himself up in the Tower of his Court, but was invited to meet the peasant army, now mustered at Blackheath. Perhaps had he done so, much that followed might have been avoided; but the messengers sent to reconnoitre dissuaded him. His majesty had taken boat and had descended the Thames to Rotherhithe, a detachment from Blackheath having come to the riverside to meet him. At this point Richard was advised by Sudbury the archbishop, and Robert Hales the treasurer, to hold no parley. “Have nothing to do,” they said,62 “with a set of shoeless ribalds.” For a little time, the royal lad—he was but sixteen—was rowed up and down the river in his barge, pitiably irresolute; but at last he returned to the Tower, and an advance upon the City was resolved upon by the peasant army, after a sermon by Ball, on Blackheath, from the text—

“When Adam dalf and Eve span,
Wo was thanne a gentilman?”

The mayor and aldermen were for shutting the City gates, but the mass of the citizens effectually protested against excluding those whom they owned as “friends and neighbors.” The gates were accordingly left open all night, and an immense multitude went in and out, as yet comparatively orderly, and certainly honest. They stole nothing, not even food; everything they took they paid for at a fair price; any robber amongst them they put to death on the spot. As far as in them lay, these rude undisciplined masses wished to make fair war on those whom they regarded as their oppressors.10 The Duke of Lancaster was the first object of their animosity. His sumptuous palace in the Savoy was ruthlessly destroyed, but the chronicler is careful to relate that the rioters did not appropriate the spoils. His jewels and other valuables he flung into the river, and one man detected in secreting a silver cup was thrown in after it. The records of the kingdom and other State papers were burned, the peasantry in some dim confused way connecting these documents with the oppressions to which they had been subject. Other acts of violence followed, notably the destruction of great part of the Temple, of which Robert Hales was Master. The insurgents, to whom drink had been63 freely served by many of the citizens, soon became infuriated and uncontrollable. A wild, half-drunken mob raged through the City, and deplorable excesses were committed.

In this way the Thursday was passed—Corpus Christi Day, June 13, 1381. The City was panic stricken. Walworth, the mayor, proposed, according to Froissart, that an onslaught should be made upon the insurgents during the night, when many of them, lying in drunken sleep, could easily be killed “like flies.” But the atrocious counsel was rejected, and on the Friday morning the king came to parley, chiefly, as it appears, with the Essex contingent, gathered at Mile End, “in a fair meadow,” writes Froissart, “where in the summer time people go to amuse themselves.” The interview was a peaceful one. Nothing could be more simple and reasonable than the demand of the people: “We wish that thou wouldst make us free forever, us, our heirs, and our lands, and that we should no longer be called slaves, nor held in bondage.” Richard II. at once acceded to the petition, promised four things: first, that they and their children after them should be free; secondly that they should not be attached to the soil for service, but should be at liberty to rent lands of their own at a moderate fixed price; thirdly, that they should have access, free of toll, to all markets and fairs, cities, burghs, and mercantile towns, to buy and sell; and, fourthly, that they should be forgiven for the present insurrection. The king further prepared to send letters to every town confirming these articles of agreement. Two persons from each locality were to remain to carry back these precious documents; “thirty secretaries” were instantly set to work; and the multitude cheerfully dispersed.

But the men of Kent had meanwhile enacted a terrible scene at the Tower. Taking forcible possession of the place and frightening the six hundred yeomen on guard almost out of their wits in a way which the chroniclers graphically describe, they sought out the archbishop and treasurer who had called them “shoeless ribalds,” with Richard Lyons the merchant, chief commissioner for levying the poll-tax, and John Legg, the man who had taken the most promi64nent part in the collection of the impot, also two of Legg’s satellites and an obnoxious friar. These men they beheaded, carrying their heads on long pikes through the streets of London. It was a terrible revenge, and must have steeled the hearts of well-meaning citizens at once against the movement. The King’s mother (the Princess Joan, widow of the Black Prince) was in the Tower, half dead with terror. Some of the insurgents had penetrated into her room and thrust their swords into the mattress of her bed in search for the “traitors,” but beyond the murder of the archbishop and his companions they seemed to have committed no outrage. The princess herself, on being recognised, was treated with honor, and was conveyed to the Wardrobe, Carter Lane, in the vicinity of Blackfriars, where the king found her when his business at Mile End was done—a royal day’s work that might have been one of the best and brightest in the annals of England!

The next morning Richard heard mass in Westminster Abbey, and, on his return with sixty knights, encountered Wat Tyler and his men in Smithfield “before the Abbey of St. Bartholomew.” As it appears, Tyler had some further demands to make, not being altogether satisfied with the charter of Mile End.11 Sir John Newton rode up to invite him to approach the king. According to some accounts the knight was received insolently. “I shall come,” said Tyler, “when I please. If you are in a hurry you can go back to your master now!” Another narrator tells us that Wat began to abuse Sir John Newton for coming to him on horseback, being met with the courteous reply, “You are mounted, why should not I be so likewise?” In a third chronicle we read that Tyler was approaching Richard covered, and was ordered by Walworth, the mayor, to remove his cap, but roughly refused. There was, at any rate, a brief dialogue between Richard II. and the peasant leader, in which the latter insisted on the immediate issue of65 letters of manumission to all, and added his new demand, to the effect that “all warrens, waters, parks, and woods should be common, so that the poor as well as the rich might freely fish in all waters, hunt the deer in forests and parks, and the hare in the field.” This cry for the repeal of the game and forest laws went to the heart of one of the chief grievances of the people. What reply the king gave is not recorded, nor is it easy to disentangle from the conflicting accounts any clear details. One chronicler says that Tyler came too near the king’s horse, as if intending some mischief against his majesty; others that he was simply insolent, tossing his dagger from hand to hand as he parleyed; others that blows were actually interchanged between Wat and Sir John Newton. This much at any rate is clear, that the Mayor Walworth—John Walworth, as Knighton calls him; William, as in the other authorities—aimed a sudden blow at the bold demagogue, who fell at once from his horse, and was dispatched by one of the king’s squires, named Sandwich or Cavendish.

With Wat Tyler died also the insurrection, and the hopes of English liberty for many a dreary year. “As he fell from his horse to the earth,” writes Walsingham, “he first gave hope to the English soldiery, who had been half dead, that the Commons could be resisted.” There was, no doubt, a touch of chivalry in the first words of the young king, “Follow me!” he cried to the people infuriated by their leader’s assassination; “I will be your captain!” They were startled, and obeyed, the king preceding them to Islington, where he was met by a large body of soldiers. There was no conflict, and the multitude slowly dispersed, being threatened with death if found in the streets after nightfall.

As soon as the king was safe it was found that his pledges had meant nothing. The promises of enfranchisement, the “letters” about which the “thirty secretaries” had been busy all the night of that memorable fourteenth of June, were treated as void. “Villeins you are,” said the king, when asked by the men of Essex to confirm his promises,66 “and villeins you shall remain. You shall remain in bondage, not such as you have hitherto been subjected to, but incomparably viler. For so long as we live and rule by God’s grace over this kingdom, we shall use our sense, our strength and our property, so to treat you that your slavery may be an example to posterity, and that those who live now and hereafter, who may be like you, may always have before their eyes, and as it were in a glass, your misery and reasons for cursing you, and the fear of doing things like those which you have done.” In the spirit of this royal message, commissions were sent into the country to bring those who had taken part in the insurrection to condign punishment. John Ball, the preacher, Jack Straw with the Millers, Truemans, and a host of others, were mercilessly put to death; and in that terrible autumn the scaffold and the gallows had no fewer than seven thousand victims!12 Nothing could more clearly show the panic into which this wild rough outcry for freedom had thrown the constituted authorities in Church and State. One good result, however, of the insurrection was in the vanishing of the poll-tax. Of that impost, at least, we do not hear again. And more—the people had learned their power, a lesson which in the darkest times was never forgotten.

We believe in freedom now. Almost all that John Ball and Wat Tyler demanded is the heritage of every Englishman. They might have sought it, perhaps, by “constitutional methods.” Yet we must remember their times. They did but imitate in their rough way during those three days of terror the course which their masters pursued for more than three hundred years! The stroke that laid Wat Tyler low—and made Richard II., that worthless lad, the master of the situation—whatever it was, was not a blow for liberty!

Some partisan writers have associated the teachings of John Ball with the principles maintained by Wycliffe, especially in his treatise “On Dominion.” The dates, however, are against this. Ball is said to have been a preacher for more than twenty years before the insurrection. This carries us back to about 1360, an earlier date than we can assign67 to Wycliffe’s treatise, or to his institution of “Poor Preachers.” In fact, the chronicler Knighton takes a diametrically opposite view, and regards Ball as a forerunner of Wycliffe—the John the Baptist to this false Messiah! In his fervid imagination the Leicester canon sees the apocalyptic visions fulfilled—the catastrophe of the last days! Such events can mean nothing else than the end of the world! “Much has happened since then,” and the signs of the times may perhaps be read as fallaciously by seers of to-day. There can, however, be no doubt that before the insurrection, Ball had been an adherent of Wycliffe. The demand for spiritual freedom fell in, at least, with the thoughts and impulses that had prompted the serfs of their wild irregular cry for social and political rights.

“In memory of Sir William Walworth’s valor,” writes Thomas Fuller in68 his “Church History of Great Britain,” “the arms of London, formerly a plain cross, were augmented by the addition of a dagger, to make the coat in all points complete.” This is still a popular mistake. That dagger, or short sword, has nothing whatever to do with Walworth, or Tyler, or Richard II., or any of the personages, good or evil, of that era. In fact, it was a relic or “survival” of the sword in the hand of the Apostle Paul, formerly engraven on the City seal.13 St. Paul anciently figured as patron saint of London, and when in Reformation times his effigy disappeared from the City arms his sword remained. We know that in Christian art, from about the tenth century, the sword was a familiar symbol of St. Paul, the primary intention no doubt being to denote the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.



The history of the Republic up to this time has been such a course of surprises, that any forecast as to the future must be made with a large reckoning for accidents; but this much may be said, that the Republic owes its present appearance of stability to the want of commanding talents among her ruling men. The outlook could not have been so peaceful had Gambetta been alive. Gambetta had a vast ambition, and a leonine, roaring energy, which provoked furious opposition. The men who have parted his influence among them may be as ambitious as he was; but they are so for personal objects, and as there is nothing great in their characters or their policy, nothing imperious in their manner, nothing stirring or seducing in their eloquence, they are less feared than the man who wished to be a master, and said so. Nobody could denounce M. Jules Ferry as aspiring to become a dictator; yet during the past year he has held more effective power than was ever wielded by Gambetta. He is a faithful party-servant who has been allowed to exercise authority, because his employers have felt that they could dismiss him at a moment’s notice. We bear more from a humble, useful domestic, than from a self-asserting master. Louis XIV., who broke the tyranny of Mazarin, and could not brook the arrogance of Fouquet, submitted to the management of the quiet, astute Colbert.

In his novel “Numa Roumestan,” written while Gambetta was alive, Alphonse Daudet showed “the North being conquered by the South,” that is, the blustering, bragging, blarneying blagueurs of Provence and Gascony enthralling the democracy with their charlatanism, and seizing upon all the public offices. Sardou had worked out the same idea in “Rabagas;” but it must be noticed that the holders of the four most important posts in France at this moment—the four Presidents, of the Republic, of the Senate, of the Chamber of Deputies, and of the Cabinet—are conspicuously exempt from the usual attributes of demagogues. They are cold-headed men, plain of speech, dry in manner; they are not Southerners, and, in fact, they are by no means representative of the French as a nation.


M. Grévy comes from the Jura, on the borders of Switzerland, a department which has for the last half century been more advanced in public instruction than all the others, and where the bourgeoisie are something like the Scotch in their puritanism.

M. le Royer, President of the Senate, a hard, sententious little man, with solemn eyes peering through gold-rimmed spectacles, and a voice like the drone of a Lenten preacher—M. le Royer is a Genevan Protestant, whose father became French by naturalisation. M. Brisson was born and educated at Bourges, in the old province of Berry. He is a trim, mathematically-minded lawyer and logician, creaseless in his morals as in his dress, one of those Frenchmen to whom all the levities of French life—light literature, music, gossip, and even cuisine—are distasteful. M. Jules Ferry is a Lorrainer, born in the mountainous Vosges; and, like M. le Royer, a Protestant—at least so far as he confesses to any religion at all.

A nation must be turned upside down before a man like M. Jules Ferry can become Prime Minister. It makes one smile to think that the French have demolished three dynasties, and that countless thousands of enthusiastic revolutionists have let themselves be shot behind barricades, in order that the country may now be ruled by a Cabinet containing three second-rate journalists, and three barristers who have no names at the Bar. “No more revolutions: I have become a Minister,” wrote the late M. Garnier Pagēs to his constituents in 1848.14 M. Ferry, to do him justice, did not conclude that progress reached its zenith on the day when he took Cabinet office; he has rather shown modest thankfulness at his own elevation, while feeling privately, no doubt, some astonishment. Now that he has been in place some time, the astonishment must have worn off, for he has learnt to know men, and to perceive that circumstances do more for most successful rulers than these accomplish for themselves. An inexperienced man at the helm soon gets accustomed to see the big ship obey71 the propulsion of his rudder, and if he be steering in calm weather, he may do as well as the skilled pilot. M. Ferry became Prime Minister faute de mieux, and he may remain so (with occasional displacements) crainte de pire. The course of French Republicanism is always downward, and the constant preoccupation of men’s minds under that happy régime, is the fear of worse.

Jules Ferry owed the beginning of his political fortune to his luck in writing for a newspaper which had a witty editor. Just twenty years ago (1865), being then thirty-three years old, he joined the staff of the Temps, and after contributing leaders for three years, undertook in 1868 a series of papers attacking the administration of Baron Haussmann as Prefect of the Seine. Baron Haussmann had rebuilt Paris and made it a city unique in the world for beauty and sanitation. M. Ferry could not have performed such a task, but he was able to criticise the Prefect’s work, to array long columns of figures showing how much it had cost, and to ask whether it would not have been far better if all these millions had been given to the poor. Baron Haussmann sent communiques to the Temps impugning the accuracy of M. Ferry’s figures; but the journalist of course stuck to his multiplication, and, as spirited opposition always made a man popular under the Empire, the Vosgian’s articles obtained more success than is usual with statistical essays. It was proposed that they should be rebound in pamphlet form and circulated among Parisian householders in view of the general election of 1869. M. Neffzer, editor of the Temps, then suggested that the pamphlet should be called, “Les Comptes Fantastiques d’Haussmann.”15

The title took, and Jules Ferry got the reputation of being a comical fellow. Resolving to make the most of this character while it lasted, he came forward as a candidate for Paris at the elections of 1869—calling himself a Radical for this purpose. He was no more Radical than comical, but if he had not taken up extreme views he could have offered no reason for oppos72ing the moderate Liberal (M. Guéroult, editor of the Opinion Nationale), who was the sitting member of the sixth Parisian ward. M. Ferry defeated his brother-journalist; and in the following year, when the Empire collapsed at Sedan, he became ex-officio a member of the Government of National Defence. It will be remembered that this Government was composed of the nine members for Paris, because M. Grévy and some other leading Republicans refused to accept power unless it were lawfully conferred upon them by a national assembly.

M. Ferry was of course installed in Baron Haussmann’s post; but during the siege of Paris he was very nearly lynched by some of those excellent working-men who had formerly hailed him as a friend and brother. On the 31st October, 1870, an insurrection broke out in the beleaguered city, and a vigorous attempt was made to overthrow the Government. M. Ferry fell into the hands of the insurgents, and for six mortal hours these rude men subjected him to every species of indignity. They pulled his luxuriant black whiskers, they taunted him with eating white bread and beefsteak, while his proletarian brethren had to content themselves with rations of brown bread and horseflesh, and when dinner-time came they offered him his choice between a grilled rat and some cold boiled dog. Happily the Breton Mobiles were at hand and delivered him; but from that day M. Ferry’s Radicalism perceptibly cooled, and when the Communal rebellion occurred, he took good care not to let himself be kidnapped again by the once-idolised working-man. Decamping to Versailles he remained there throughout the second siege, and did not return to take possession of his post as Prefect of the Seine until the rebellion had been crushed. It was on this occasion that alighting from his brougham near the still-smouldering Hôtel de Ville, and seeing a convoy of Communist prisoners pass, he shook his nicely-gloved fist and exclaimed: “Ah! tas de canaille!

The exclamation was pardonable, for these Communists had shot M. Ferry’s friend and former Secretary, Gustave Chaudey, and the new-fledged Prefect must have imagined bullets whistling by his own sleek ears as he looked at them.73 However, M. Ferry’s vindictiveness went no further than words, for he exerted himself charitably to save some old journalistic comrades who had taken the wrong side during the civil war. He is believed to have secreted several of these in his private lodgings and to have covered them with his official protection while the police were hunting for them. What is more, he honorably connived at the escape of one of his vilest detractors, Félix Pyat. This charming person, always the first to preach sedition and regicide, and the first to fly in the hour of danger, had been unable to get clear away from Paris when the Commune fell. He took refuge in a convent, where the nuns harbored him for six weeks, though these poor women were quite aware that he was the Pyat who had been clamoring for the demolition of churches and the shooting of hostages. Jules Ferry happened to hear of Pyat’s whereabouts, but instead of delivering up the wretched men to a court-martial, he caused a passport to be privately given him.

Good nature abounds in M. Ferry’s character, and this quality, in combination with perseverance and a quiet talent for picking up other people’s ideas, has been the secret of his success. During the last years of the Empire while he wrote for the Temps, he was a daily frequenter of the Café de Madrid, and there he was appreciated as an attentive listener to no matter whose stories. He had then, as he has now, a face such as is only to be seen on the shoulders of old-fashioned French barristers and Belgravian footmen. The judges of the Second Empire did not allow avocats to wear beards, so M. Ferry shaved his upper lip and chin, but his whiskers were of stupendous size. Add to these a Roman nose, a fine forehead, shrewd playful eyes, a well shaped smiling mouth, and a certain plumpness of girth which removed him altogether out of the category of those lean men whom Shakespeare thought dangerous. He always shook men’s hands with a hearty grip; he could laugh loud and long even when not amused; if conversation flagged he could light it up suddenly with a few crackling jokes, but he generally preferred to sit silent, smoking penny cigars (for he was not rich), sipping absinthe,74 and taking mental notes of what was being said around him. Now and then, especially if a talker appealed to him, he would nod approval with a grave closing of the eyes, which is the supreme politeness in the art of listening.

He never squandered his knowledge in small talk, so that his public speeches always took his most intimate friends aback. Gambetta once said to him: “You are the most secretive of chatter-boxes,”16 the truth being that Ferry used commonplace ideas in private intercourse, just as some men keep half-pence for beggars. To stake gold in conversational games over a café table was more than his intellectual means could afford. A blagueur himself in a small way, he knew the destructive power of that light chaff which can be thrown upon a good idea while it has the bloom of novelty on it. Then he was not combative. Gambetta, a millionaire in talents, could scatter his best thoughts broadcast without ever impoverishing himself. At the Café Procope, at Brébant’s, and in the dining-room of his friend, Clément Laurier, he would pound his fists on the table and thunder out long passages of the speeches which he intended to deliver, and this without caring whether political opponents heard him. “You are showing your hand,” Laurier17 and the still more prudent Arthur Ranc used to say. But Gambetta could win without hiding his trumps, or he could win without trumps.


Ferry always went into political action with his powder dry, chose his ground carefully and picked out an antagonist whom he was sure to worst. Gambetta would rush at the strongest enemy, Ferry fired at the weakest; but this system had the advantage of leaving him after every combat victorious and unwounded. It was a great triumph to him, when, coming back among his friends, he heard their self-astonished bravos as they slapped him on the back. There is much slapping on the back in French political assemblies. Many a time has Gambetta’s broad hand descended upon Ferry’s stalwart shoulders with the shout, ”C’est bien fait, mon petit!

The two were capital friends from the first, and remained so till nearly the end. It was not till within two years of Gambetta’s death, that the chief began to find his protégé a little too independent. Mutinous Ferry never was, but a time arrived when, from one cause and another, he found himself second in influence to Gambetta among the Republican party. He was but Addington to Gambetta’s Pitt: nevertheless he got tired of hearing people say that he was only allowed to hold office as a stopgap; and with a proper dignity he resented Gambetta’s pretensions to act as occult Prime Minister without assuming the responsibilities of the premiership. Gambetta, as we know, wanted to become President of the Republic, or else Prime Minister with a secure majority to be obtained by scrutin de liste. Until he could compass one or other of these ends, he preferred to play the Agamemnon sitting in the Presidential chair of the Chamber of Deputies. M. de Freycinet and M. Ferry each humored this whim so long as it was possible, and indeed nothing could have been more amicably subservient than M. Ferry’s conduct while Prime Minister in 1881. He not only dispensed his patronage by Gambetta’s directions, but framed all Government measures according to the Dictator’s tastes, and even agreed to the performance of little Parliamentary comedies, in which Gambetta pretended to attack the Cabinet in order to dispel the notion that M. Ferry was not a free agent. This state of things, however, could not continue after the general election of 1881, when a strong Republican majority was returned—not to support the Ferry Cabinet, but to set up something better. Gambetta forgot that in putting on the gloves with his friend Ferry, simply pour amuser la galerie, he was apt to give knock-down blows which made Ferry look small. The cautious Lorrainer felt that he had had enough of these sparring-matches, and he had the sharpness to see that if76 he accepted a portfolio in the “Grand Ministère,” which Gambetta formed in November 1881, he would confirm the general opinion that throughout his premiership he had only been the great man’s puppet. For all this, it was a very brave thing he did in refusing to sit in Gambetta’s Cabinet. Gambetta was deeply offended and doubtless as much surprised as Richelieu would have been if Brother Joseph had declined to “act any longer with him for the present.” Happily the Dictator could not punish Brother Jules as the Cardinal would have chastised Brother Joseph.

He sent twice to Ferry to offer him a portfolio, wrote to him once, and ended by proposing to get him elected life-senator and President of the Upper House. But when all these favors were declined with thanks, he shrugged his shoulders and exclaimed: “Mais c’est absurde!” meaning that his friend Ferry had come to think a little too much of himself.

Two months after this the “Grand Ministère” had fallen. Jules Ferry had given the Scrutin de Liste Bill his vote, but he had refrained from exerting any influence on behalf of the Cabinet. “C’est un coup de Ferry!” ejaculated Gambetta, when the numbers of the division were announced,18 and upon somebody’s remarking that Ferry had voted aright, “Bah, you should have seen him in the smoking-room,” growled the angry chief. “But he was speaking up loudly for you in the smoking-room.” “The song is in the tune,” answered Gambetta, “and Jules was singing flat.”19

The fact is that the fate of the Scrutin Bill had turned wholly on the question as to whether Gambetta could be trusted. The measure establishing election by caucus would have placed absolute power in his hands for years, and the Left Centre were naturally afraid of this prospect, which was tantamount to the destruction of regular Parliamentary government. But before committing themselves to a coalition with Radicals and Monarchists, many of these moder77ate Liberals came and sounded Ferry. He would only answer that he was sure Gambetta meant well, and so forth; but of course this was not enough, and the Moderates marched over to M. Clémenceau. The day after this vote M. Ferry was back in office with the portfolio of Public Instruction, and thirteen months later he was Prime Minister once more, but this time under conditions very different from those which had chequered his first Administration. Gambetta was dead, three Cabinets had been overthrown within eight months, and M. Ferry was actually able to make a favor of accepting a post in which M. de Freycinet, M. Duclerc and M. Fallières had wretchedly failed. Things had come to such a pass that if M. Ferry had objected to form a Government, M. Grévy would have resigned.

Thus M. Ferry was truly on a certain day the Deus ex machinâ. His advance to a position so powerful can only be explained by comparing him to the winner of an obstacle race. Nine years ago, any politician contemplating the possibility of Gambetta’s death, would have named at least six Republicans now living as more likely than M. Ferry to succeed him as leader of the party. He would have named Jules Simon, Léon Say, William Waddington, Charles de Freycinet, Challemel-Lacour, or Eugène Clémenceau; and supposing all these runners had started with M. Ferry over a flat course, it may be questioned, to keep up the racing metaphor, whether Ferry would have been so much as placed. But in an obstacle race, one man comes to grief at the “hanging-tub,” one at the crawling, another at the water-jump, and the winner is often the man who, having scrambled through every thing in a haphazard fashion, comes in alone—all the others having dropped off.

No man ever spoilt a fine chance so sadly as Jules Simon—the first to “drop off”—and this all for want of a little spirit at the right moment. The author of many learned and entertaining works on political economy, a bright scholar, charming causeur, persuasive debater, a man of handsome face and lordly bearing, infinitely respectable in his private life, full of diplomatic tact and78 with a genuine aptitude for administration—M. Simon had all the qualifications of a party-leader. Under the Empire he was an Orleanist, but he let himself be converted to Republicanism by M. Thiers after the war, and he was the only Minister whom Thiers trusted to the extent of never meddling with the business of his department. He was Minister of Public Instruction and Worship for more than two years, and acquitted himself of his functions in a manner to please both Catholics and Freethinkers, cardinals and vivisecting professors. He was perhaps a little too unctuous in his phrases; he had a suspicious facility for weeping, and he scattered compliments and promises about him, as a beadle sprinkles holy water in a May-day procession. But these are the little arts of diplomacy: M. Simon could be quite firm in dismissing a Bonapartist professor, even while shedding tears over the poor man’s appeal to be suffered to earn his bread in peace; and when he was sent as High Commissioner of the Government to visit the pontoons and prisons in which Coummunists were confined, all his tender pity for political offenders in general (he recognised many of his quondam electors in bonds) did not prevent him from investigating each individual case with unemotional acumen. He had power to liberate whom he pleased, but he used it sparingly. At Brest he was much pained by the rudeness of a prisoner to whom he had said kindly: “Why are you here, my friend?” “For having too much studied your books,“ was the sniggering answer.20 He had another disagreeable shock at the prison of Versailles, where Louise Michel called him ”Vieux farceur.

But Jules Simon rendered some very great service to the Republican cause. The office-holders of to-day often talk as if they had founded the Republic—which shows that they have defective memories. The Comte de Chambord was the real “Father of the Republic,” as even Senator Wallon must acknowl79edge in his meditative moments.21 If the Bourbon prince had been anything better than a Quaker, Monarchy would have been restored after the Commune—in fact, during the five years that followed the civil war, the Republic merely lived under respite of a death-sentence, so to say, until its enemies agreed as to how it should be exterminated. But they could not agree, and Jules Simon was in a large measure the cause of this. He went about among the Orleanists, coaxing over this one and that one to the idea that Republicanism was the only practical thing for the moment. His favorite argument was this, that Socialists and other such people could be put down much more summarily by a Republican Government than by a King. Under a Bourbon Sovereign, Liberals and Socialists would make common cause, and there would inevitably be another revolution before long; but if the Orleanists would only take the Republic under their patronage they might rule the country according to their doctrines, just as the English Whigs had long ruled England, keeping their Radical tail in subjection. With these words, Jules Simon wiled away many; and the trophies of success thickened upon him. He was elected to the French Academy; in 1875 he was nominated a life-senator, and in 1876, some months after the first general election under the new Constitution, he became Prime Minister.

He kept his post for about eight months, and then one memorable morning he allowed Marshal Mac Mahon to dismiss him from it like a lacquey. The Spaniards, by way of expressing their disbelief in the consistency of courage at all times and in all circumstances, are accustomed to say that a man was brave “on a certain day.” One may assert then, without any imputation on M. Simon’s general valor, that on the 16th May, 1877, he showed an utter want of pluck. The reason for this appears to have been that he was out of health at the time—worn out by two or three sleepless nights, and disgusted with the worries of office. He had gone to bed80 on the 15th May without any suspicion that the Marshal President intended to dismiss him and his Liberal Cabinet, and he was therefore astounded when, as he was dressing, a messenger brought him a letter in which the Marshal cavalierly told him that, as he had been unable to manage the Republican majority, he must make way for stronger men.

Now it was quite true that the Republicans under Gambetta had behaved very factiously towards Jules Simon. Parties were so divided in the Lower House that no Minister could govern, and it was manifest that the only way out of the death-lock would be through a dissolution. But M. Simon was cashiered at the instigation of a Royalist Palace Cabal, who wanted the next elections to be held under the auspices of a Reactionary Cabinet, and he should have had the boldness to denounce this intrigue. Instead of doing that he sat down in his dressing-gown, it is said, and wrote a tame, self-exculpatory letter to the Marshal. He did not see that Mac Mahon had played into his hands by enabling him to take his stand as champion of the entire Republican party. A few brave words of defiance to the Cabal, a dignified reproof to the Marshal himself, and an appeal to the whole nation to rouse itself for a grand battle at the polls, this is what Jules Simon’s letter should have contained, and an epistle couched in these terms would have made him immensely popular.

But the ejected Premier’s abject, doleful apology appearing in the papers on the same day as the Marshal’s letter, spread consternation and disgust through the Republican party. It was a whine at the moment when a trumpet blast was expected. Simon had missed the opportunity of being great. The Republicans were ashamed of him, and spurned him with a positive yell of execration. In the course of the morning he hurried to M. Thiers’s house, and began in a lachrymose style to descant upon his wrongs, saying that he had never been the Marshal’s effective adviser, that the Duc de Broglie had all along been guiding Mac Mahon, &c. “Why on earth didn’t you say that in your letter?” screamed Thiers; and the lugubrious M. Barthélemy St. Hilaire, lifting up81 his long arms in woe, repeated like his chief, “Why was not that said in the letter?”

Why indeed? If Jules Simon had shown spirit he would have been accounted the foremost man of the Republican party after Thiers’s death, and he might eventually have been President of the Republic in place of M. Grévy. As it was, the Republicans, after their victory at the general election of 1877,22 refused to rank him as one of their number, and he has ever since been in the humiliating position of a pariah. His speeches in the Senate are always applauded, but not by the Republicans. It has become the fashion among his former allies to speak of him as a renegade, and facetious party-newspapers have not scrupled to play practical jokes upon him. One of these pleasantries was rather funny. A paper announced that M. Simon had inherited a large sum of money, and that, in the excess of his philanthropy, he had taken to distributing twenty ‘napoleons’ every morning among the first five score beggars (being true Republicans) who knocked at his door. For days the Place de la Madeleine, where the unhappy statesman lived was infested by hordes of vagabonds, howling “Vive la République,” and the police found it difficult to disperse these believers in M. Simon’s munificence.

M. Léon Say has been mentioned among the politicians who once seemed destined to do great things. He may do some of these things yet, for he has not lost the confidence of his party, but he is such a rider of hobbies, that he can never be expected to fall into the swing trot of any party cavalcade, even though he be suffered to caper at its head. He has been Prefect of the82 Seine, Minister of Finance, Ambassador to London, and President of the Senate. He is a jovial man, with a plump waist, face and moustache, not quite sixty, the proprietor of the Journal des Débats, a millionaire, and the highest French authority on finance. He writes as well as he speaks, and he speaks like a clever book. The Bourse has so much confidence in him that this return to the Ministry of Finance would at any time make the funds rise, and for this reason every Premier has been anxious to have him in the Cabinet. If M. Say would only confine himself to finance as M. Cochéry does to postal matters,23 he might abide comfortably in office for years; but he is a political Sybarite who chafes at rose leaves. He has no sooner accepted a post than he begins to see reasons for throwing it up. Hours are wasted at every change of Cabinet in trying to persuade M. Say to join this or that combination; but either his Free Trade principles stand in the way, or he cannot sit with so and so, or he insists upon having such and such a man to be his colleague. The curious thing is that, while in opposition, M. Say takes immense trouble to get the offer of one of those places, which he rejects when they have been given him. He is not the dog biting at shadows, but the dog who snatches substantial bones, and then turns up his nose at them.

Very different is M. de Freycinet, who has neither snatched at the bones of office, nor surrendered them willingly when they fell in his way. How came this able and active politician to fail so egregiously as Prime Minister? About his talents there is no dispute, and he entered public life under Gambetta’s special and most admiring patronage. A distinguished civil engineer, he was almost unknown to the political world, when, at the senatorial elections of 1876, Gambetta brought him forward as candidate for Paris. De Freycinet was elected, and all of a sudden he got talked of as the coming man—that is, the man who was to be Gambetta’s factotum. He had dedicated a book on military tactics, with some academical compliments to his patrons; and it was83 remembered that he had been Gambetta’s military secretary and adviser during the war. He was supposed to be full of new ideas about army reorganisation, railway management, tax-assessment, and colonial extension. The first time he spoke in the Senate there was a hush of curiosity, and though he delivered himself in a small, piping voice, the lucidity of his reasoning, and his business-like exposition of statistics, produced a favorable impression. He was not much cheered, for applause would have drowned his voice. “Nous n’applaudissions pas pour mieux écouter,” said Léon Say politely to him.

Unfortunately, De Freycinet too soon forgot that Gambetta had singled him out as an assistant and not as a rival. He did fairly well as Minister of Public Works in M. Waddington’s Cabinet, but the rapid using up of men in parliamentary warfare forced him out of his turn into the front rank. His total and often amusing ignorance of foreign countries made him unfit for the post of Foreign Secretary, whilst his want of suppleness rendered him incapable of managing a party by means of easy social intercourse with its most prominent members. He is a politician of self-asserting conscientiousness, with a smileless face, a distant manner, and a captious tone of saying, or rather speaking, “no” to every proposal which he does not approve on a first hearing. At the Quai d’Orsay he always seemed to Ambassadors to be in a hurry; but, though he would draw out his watch two or three times in ten minutes and repeat, “Venons au fait,” he generally wasted half the time in every interview by telling his hearers that which he did not mean to do, “because my conscience forbids it.” At the time when the rewards for the Exhibition of 1878 were distributed, he told an English attaché that as the French Government had allotted 150 crosses of the Legion of Honor to exhibitors, he thought that the Queen of England would do a popular thing by awarding “twenty Garters.” When the constitution of the Order of the Garter was explained to him, he said: “Ah well, then twenty Victoria crosses.” He once remarked to Lord Lyons that he was afraid it was only an antiquated insular prejudice which prevented the84 English from adopting the French decimal system of coinage; and he maintained in the hearing of Prince Orloff, the Russian Ambassador, that “every Russian peasant speaks French.”

Respecting M. de Freycinet’s trick of pulling out his watch, a droll story is told. M. Tirard, now Minister of Finance, who made his fortune in the jewelry trade, once gave his colleague a gold watch as a New Year’s present, the reason of this gift being that De Freycinet had lately lost a watch. Next time the Foreign Secretary pulled out his timepiece in the Senate, a facetious member observed in a stage whisper: “He wants to make sure that Tirard’s present isn’t pinchbeck.” “I am sure it is not,” answered the unjocular Freycinet, turning round quite gravely in his place; “you are quite mistaken in ascribing any such suspicions to me, sir.”

De Freycinet and Gambetta soon quarrelled, because the former as Prime Minister wanted to follow out a policy of his own or else compel Gambetta to take the reins. “I’ll be coachman or passenger,” he said with his love of logical arrangements: “but I won’t sit on the box and let you drive from the inside.” He had to resign, and the next time he came to office, after the fall of the “Grand Ministère,” it was as Gambetta’s declared opponent. But Gambetta at once set himself to show that, although he had been unable himself to command a majority, no Cabinet could live without his support, and M. de Freycinet was made the first victim of this demonstration. He was overthrown on the Egyptian question, and as M. Ferry did not care to be bowled over in the same style, the veteran M. Duclerc was asked to form an emergency Cabinet. But this gentleman and his successor M. Fallières, nick-named “le Gambetta blond,” were mere nonentities.

M. Duclerc’s Cabinet was called the Long Vacation Ministry, because it was too obviously predestined to collapse at the first contact with Parliament. M. Fallières’s Administration lasted but ten days, owing to the excessive modesty of its chief in recognising that he had been placed on a pinnacle too high for his nerves. On the strength of his sobriquet85 —though his only resemblance to Gambetta consisted in his being fat and hearty—he had been giving himself some airs as a pretender to office, but his sudden accession to the Premiership in the trying period that followed Gambetta’s death, made him so giddy that he was smitten with gastric derangement and had to pen a resignation in his bedroom. It was then that Jules Ferry, laughing quietly in his sleeve at the discomfiture of his various competitors, came back to the helm as already described.

We have said nothing about M. Waddington and M. Challemel-Lacour, who were once thought superior to him in their prospects because M. Jules Ferry has really always had advantages over these two rivals. M. Challemel-Lacour, who is now shelved, has been a much over-rated man, and M. Waddington is an Englishman. If it had not been for M. Waddington’s nationality, which has estranged him a little from French thought and made the French people somewhat suspicious of him, his talents would possibly have enabled him to keep the leadership of the Moderate Republicans; but then it has to be borne in mind that if he were not English—a Rugbeian, a Cantab, a scholar and athlete—his talents would not be what they are. M. Waddington may remain a valued servant of the Republic and hold all sorts of high posts except the highest; but the greatest destinies perhaps await Eugène Clémenceau—the sixth on our list of men who were once preferred to M. Ferry, as “favorites” for the first place.

M. Clémenceau is another of those Northerners whose ascendency disproves M. Daudet’s theory. He is a Breton, a doctor by profession, a keen, cold man with a cutting tongue, and something of military peremptoriness in his manner. He began his political career by opening a free dispensary in the Montmartre quarter of Paris, and giving advice gratis to the poor on politics as well as medicine. He was elected mayor for one of the wards of Paris during the siege, and performed his administrative business splendidly, at a time when almost all the other mayors were blundering. He and Gambetta hated each other so thoroughly that it is a wonder they never came to duelling. The Breton Doctor, who loathes “gush,” despised86 the Southerner’s rhodomontade; and Gambetta used to bound and roar like a stung lion at the contemptuous thrusts which Clémenceau made at him both from the tribune and from the columns of his newspaper, the Justice. This paper is not pleasant reading, for its editor appears always to write as if he meant to provoke his enemies into personal quarrels. He is a brilliant swordsman, most dangerous because left-handed, and a capital shot with pistols. Even the doughty Paul de Cassagnac once declined a meeting with him.

M. Clémenceau has been patiently biding his time—which does not mean that he has been spending his time to good purpose, for he has attacked every Government during the last eight years with an utter disregard of the dangers which might accrue to the Republic through the continual overthrow of Ministries. This must lead one to doubt whether there is not more of personal ambition than of public spirit in his tactics, for the only alternative would be to suppose him stupid, and that he certainly is not. He has now transferred to Jules Ferry the scorn which he formerly poured upon Gambetta, and the two men must be regarded as exponents of two completely antagonistic schools of Republicanism. Jules Ferry used not to be an Opportunist, but in succeeding to the leadership of Gambetta’s party, he has had to take up its programme—colonial extension, little wars for glory, Protection, temporisation in Home affairs, and in particular as regards the relations between Church and State. M. Clémenceau, on the contrary, is a Free-trader, non-interventionist, decentraliser and disestablisher. He is more in harmony with the Manchester school than any other French politician. That huge system of administrative centralisation, which Napoleon created, is to him abhorrent, and he is a partisan of local self-government on the largest scale. He is fond of relating how a certain village mayor, receiving in 1852 a copy of the new Imperial Constitution with orders to post it up, wrote to M. de Morny, saying that he had done as requested, and would be happy to post up as many more Constitutions as might be sent him thereafter.

M. Clémenceau’s Church policy may87 be summed up in the word Destruction; he goes much further than a mere abrogation of the Concordat. He looks to the day when Notre-Dame shall be a museum, and the Madeleine a scientific institute. He holds that the Republic should repudiate the Catholic Church and treat all ecclesiastical buildings as State property. He would not object to a Gallican Church being afterwards constituted, nor forbid members of that communion from buying back some of the churches if they could afford to do so; but he would apply to Roman Catholics the law against secret societies, and absolutely prohibit French priests, under pain of banishment, to acknowledge the authority of Rome. When people arguing with him about this scheme, remark that “persecution never succeeds,” he answers: “Nonsense, it is half-hearted persecution that does not succeed. Protestantism was thoroughly well stamped out of Spain, and Romanism out of England. I should not expect to get rid of our French Romanists within a few years—two or three generations would be required to complete the extirpation. But if the work is to be done fully, it must be commenced with vigor.”

M. Clémenceau will never do much when he comes to office, because he wants the power of moving masses. He has already been yelled at in Montmartre as a backslider because he has refused to espouse the economic fallacies of the Socialists. The multitude is not to be swayed by pure reason, and no man can be a successful revolutionist unless he have a dash of the fanatic about him. Events are nevertheless preparing to bring M. Clémenceau to the Premiership, and this consummation will be important because it will involve the incursion of an entirely new set of men into all the public offices. M. Clémenceau’s influence comes, not from his doctrines, but simply from his combativeness which has made him the captain of a fine hungry host of young men who see no chance of turning the Opportunists out of their snug places under Government except by banding together as a new party.

If M. Ferry could bring the China and Tonquin wars to a brilliant ending, could manage to create a Budget surplus, reduce taxation, relieve the military bur88dens of the country, and put an end to the agricultural and commercial stagnation—he might become a People’s man for some years. Indeed he might consolidate his popularity by carrying out half of the programme just sketched. The least success on his part in war or diplomacy would be inflated by his Opportunist supporters into a great triumph, because it is indispensable for the existence of a party that its leader should be a man of reputation. Political ideas must be incarnated in a man before democratic electorates can understand them. Gambetta’s death took the Opportunists by surprise, and they were not prepared with a man to put in his place. “Jouons au Ferry,” said M. Arthur Ranc, and M. Ferry had the great luck of coming to power just at the moment when the Opportunists had begun to perceive that there must be no more overthrowing of Cabinets for some time.—Temple Bar.




A thoroughly mechanical conception of nature is the scientific ideal of a very large and a very influential school of thinkers.24 and the goal towards which they strive. In so striving they follow the lead of the earliest of modern philosophers, Descartes, who would probably have felt no small satisfaction could he have foreseen that the doctrine of animal automatism would be so eloquently advocated in the nineteenth century, as well as that of a mechanical evolution of new species of animals and plants.

Evidently the last-mentioned conception was necessary to render the mechanical theory complete. As long as men believed in the action of any mysterious intelligence hidden in nature, and working through it in specific evolution towards foreseen and intended ends, a90 mechanical conception of nature was obviously impossible. But no less impossible was the acceptance of such a mechanical hypothesis as long as any belief remained in the existence, in individual animals, of an innate and mysterious instinctive power directing their actions in ways beneficial to them or to their race, yet unintended and unforeseen by the creatures which performed those actions. A denial of the existence of any true “instinct,” as well as of any unmechanical action in specific evolution, was then necessary for the maintenance of the mechanical theory, and accordingly such denials have been confidently made, as we have already seen.

While, however, this current of thought has been gaining in volume and velocity, another contrary current has no less made itself manifest, and amongst its exponents Edward Von Hartmann25 is an eloquent advocate of the manifest action of intelligence in nature, and of what may thus be called an “intellectual” as opposed to a “mechanical” conception of the universe. He lays much stress upon instinct, and is as earnest in asserting its distinct existence and nature, as are the mechanicians in denying its existence.

As was said at the beginning of the former article, the great interest just now of the study of instinct, lies in its bearings on the Darwinian hypothesis, or rather on the philosophy therewith91 connected. Let us then proceed to examine whether or not the analogies before pointed out between instinct and other forms of vital activity can be carried further. Let us especially examine whether the consideration of instinct in the widest sense of that term, throws any glimmerings of light upon that most recondite and still most mysterious process, the genesis of new species.

We may be encouraged to hope that such a result is possible from the words of one of those twin biologists who on the same night put forth their independently-arrived-at views as to what we are all agreed to regard as at least an important factor in the origin of species. No less a person than Mr. Wallace has written the following significant words:—

“No thoughtful person can contemplate without amazement the phenomena presented by the development of animals. We see the most diverse forms—a mollusk, a frog, and a mammal—arising from apparently identical primitive cells, and progressing for a time by very similar initial changes, but thereafter each pursuing its highly complex and often circuitous course of development with unerring certainty, by means of laws and forces of which we are totally ignorant. It is surely a not improbable supposition that the unknown power which determines and regulates this marvellous process may also determine the initiation of these more important changes of structure, and those developments of new parts and organs which characterise the successive stages of the evolutions of animal forms.”

These words advocate and confirm what I have elsewhere antecedently urged. Many influences doubtless may come into play in the origin of new species; but let us look a little narrowly at certain influences which must come into play therein, and the action of which no man can deny.

One of these influences (which no one has more richly illustrated than has the late Mr. Darwin) is that of heredity; but what is heredity?

In the first place it is obviously a property, not of new individuals, not of offspring, but of parental forms. As every one knows, it is the innate tendency which each organism possesses to reproduce its like. If any living creat92ure, x, was self-impregnating and the outcome of a long line of self-impregnating predecessors, all existing in the midst of one uniform and continuously unvarying environment, then x would produce offspring completely like itself. This fundamental biological law of reproduction may be compared with the physical first law of motion, according to which any body in motion will continue to move on uniformly at the same rate and in the same direction until some other force or motion is impressed upon it.

The fact that new individual organisms arise from both a paternal and a maternal influence, and from a line of ancestors every one of which had a similar bifold origin, modifies this first law of heredity only so far as to produce a more or less complex compound of hereditary reproductive tendencies in every individual, the effect of which must be analogous to that mechanical law of the composition of forces resulting in the production of a new creature resembling its immediate and more remote progenitors in varying degrees, according to (1) the amount of force springing from each ancestral strain, and (2) the compatibility or incompatibility26 of the prevailing tendencies, resulting in an intensification, perpetuation, modification, or neutralisation of ancestral characters, as the case may be.

All such action is but “heredity” acting in one or other mode; but there is another and fundamentally different action which has to be considered, and that is the action of the environment upon nascent organisms—an action exercised either directly upon them, or indirectly upon them through its direct action upon their parents. That such actions produce unmistakable effects is notorious. It will be, I think, sufficient here to advert to such cases as the well-known brood-mare covered by a quagga, and the peculiar effects of a well-bred bitch being lined by a mongrel. These show how an action exercised upon the female parent (but with no direct action on the immediate offspring) may act indirectly upon her subsequent progeny.

As a rule, modifications accidentally93 or artificially induced in parents are not transmitted to their offspring, as is well shown by the need of the repetition of circumcision, and of pressure of Indian children’s heads and Chinese girls’ feet, in each generation. Yet there is good evidence that such changes are occasionally inherited. The epileptic offspring of injured guinea-pigs is a case often referred to. Haëckel speaks of a bull which had lost its tail by accident, and which begot entirely tailless calves. With respect to cats,27 I am indebted to Mr. John Birkett for the knowledge of an instance in which a female with an injured tail produced some stump-tailed kittens in two litters.

There is evidence that certain variations are more apt to be inherited than others. Amongst those very apt to be inherited are skin affections, affections of the nervous system and of the generative organs, e.g. hypospadias and absence of the uterus. The last case is one especially interesting, because it can only be propagated indirectly.

Changes in the environment notoriously produce changes in certain cases, even in adults. The modifications which may result from the action of unusual agencies on the embryo have been well shown by M. C. Dareste.28 As has been already remarked, processes of repair take place the more readily the younger the age of the subject. Similarly, it is probable that the action of the environment generally acts more promptly and intensely on the embryo than in the older young. That the same organism will sometimes assume very different forms has been observed by Professor Lankester in the case of Bacterium rufescens.29

The effects of changed conditions is often very striking. Ficus stipulata grown on a wall has small, thin leaves, and clings to the surface like a large moss or a miniature ivy. Planted out,94 it forms a shrub, with large, coarse, leathery leaves.

Mr. Wallace has pointed out some of the curious direct effects of external conditions on organisms. He tells us30 that in the small island of Amboina the butterflies (twelve species, of nine different genera) are larger than those of any of the more considerable islands about it, and that this is an effect probably due to some local influence. In Celebes a whole series of butterflies are not only of a larger size, but have the same peculiar form of wing. The Duke of York’s Island seems, he tells us, to have a tendency to make birds and insects white, or at least pale, and the Philippines to develop metallic colors; while the Moluccas and New Guinea seem to favor blackness and redness in parrots and pigeons. Species of butterflies which in India are provided with a tail to the wing, begin to lose that appendage in the islands, and retain no trace of it on the borders of the Pacific. The Æneas group of papilios never have tails in the equatorial region of the Amazon Valley, but gradually acquire tails, in many cases, as they range towards the northern and southern tropics. Mr. Gould says that birds are more highly colored under a clear atmosphere than in islands or on coasts—a condition which also seems to affect insects, while it is notorious that many shore plants have fleshy leaves. We need but refer to the English oysters mentioned by Costa, which, when transported to the Mediterranean, grew rapidly like the true Mediterranean oyster, and to the twenty different kinds of American trees said by Mr. Meehan to differ in the same manner from their nearest American allies, as well as to the dogs, cats, and rabbits which have been proved to undergo modifications directly induced by climatic change. But still more strange and striking changes have been recorded as due to external conditions. Thus it is said31 that certain branchiopodous creatures of the crab and lobster class (certain crustacea) have been changed from the form characteristic of one genus (Artemia salina) into that of quite95 another (Branchipus), by having been introduced in large numbers by accident into very salt water. The latter form is not only larger than the former, but has an additional abdominal segment and a differently formed tail. Such changes tell strongly in favor of the existence in creatures of positive, innate tendencies to change in definite directions under special conditions.

It is also obvious that the very same influences (e.g. amounts of light, heat, moisture, &c.) will produce different effects in different species, as also that the nature of some species is more stubborn and less prone to variation than that of others. Such, for example, is the case with the ass, the guinea-fowl, and the goose, as compared with the dog, the horse, the domestic fowl, and the pigeon. Thus both the amount and the kind of variability differ in different races, and such constitutional capacities or incapacities tend to be inherited by their derivative forms, and so every kind of animal must have its own inherent powers of modifiability or resistance, so that no organism or race of organisms can vary in an absolutely indefinite manner; and if so, then unlimited variability must be a thing absolutely impossible.

The foregoing considerations tend to show that every variation is a function32 of “heredity” and “external influence”—i.e. is the result of the reaction of the special nature of each organism upon the stimuli of its environment.

In addition to the action of heredity and the action of the environment, there is also a peculiar kind of action due to an internal force which has brought about so many interesting cases of what is called “serial and lateral homology” which cannot be due to descent, but which demonstrate the existence of an intra-organic activity, the laws of which have yet to be investigated. Comparative anatomy, pathology, and teratology combine to point out the action of this internal force.

“Lateral homology” refers to the production of similar structures on either side of the body, as in the similarity of our right and left hands and feet. “Serial homology” refers to the pro96duction of similar structures one behind the other, as in the series of similar segments in the body of a worm or a centipede, and the similar series of limbs in the latter animal.

These tendencies to lateral and serial repetition show themselves in ways which cannot be accounted for by inheritance from ancestral forms, but loudly proclaim the presence and action of some internal force tending to produce such homologous repetitions in organisms in different animals.

Thus even in ourselves, when we compare our leg and foot with our arm and hand, we find that they have homologous features which cannot be accounted for as being inheritances from supposed ancestral animals. Our extremities resemble each other in the texture of the skin, the shape of the nails, and other points, and these resemblances are not due to external conditions, but exist in spite of them; and comparative anatomy reveals to us countless similar examples in the animal kingdom. Limbs can hardly be more unlike in form and position than are the arms and legs of birds, and yet we meet with breeds of fowls and pigeons the feet of which are furnished with what are called “boots,” that is, with long feathers which grow on the side of the foot, serially corresponding with that of the hand, which grow the feathers of the wing.

Again, in disease, and in cases of monstrosity or congenital malformation, nothing is more common than to find precisely similarly diseased conditions, or similar abnormalities of structure, affecting serially or laterally homologous parts, such as corresponding parts of the two arms or two legs, or of the right (or left) arm and hand and leg and foot respectively.

Altogether it seems then to be undeniable that the characters and the variations of species33 are due to the combined action of internal and external97 agencies acting in a direct, positive, and constructive manner.

It is obvious, however, that no character very prejudicial to a species could ever be established, owing to the perpetual action of all the destructive forces of nature which destructive forces, considered as one whole, have been personified under the name “natural selection.”

Its action, of course, is, and must be, destructive and negative. The evolution of a new species is as necessarily a process which is constructive and positive, and, as all must admit, is one due to those variations upon which natural selection acts. Variation, which thus lies at the origin of every new species, is (as we have seen) the reaction of the nature of the varying animal upon all the multitudinous agencies which environ it. Thus “the nature of the animal” must be taken as the cause, “the environment” being the stimulus which sets that cause in action, and “natural selection” the agency which restrains it within the bounds of physiological propriety.

We may compare the production of a new species to the production of a statue. We have (1) the marble material responding to the matter of the organism; (2) the intelligent active force of the sculptor, directing his arm, responding to the psychic nature of the organism, which reacts according to law as surely as in the case of reflex action in healing, or in any other vital action; (3) the various conceptions of the artist, which stimulate him to model, responding to the environing agencies which evoke variation; and (4) the blows of the smiting chisel, corresponding to the action of natural selection. No one would call the mere blows of the chisel—apart from both the active force of the artist and the ideal conceptions which direct that force—the cause of the production of the statue. They are a cause—they help to produce it and are absolutely necessary for its production. They are a material cause, but not the primary cause. This distinction runs through all spheres of activity. Thus the inadequacy of “natural selection” to explain the origin of species runs parallel with its inadequacy to explain the origin of instinct, as before pointed out.


The formal discoverer of a new fossil is the naturalist who first sees it with an instructed eye, appreciates and describes it, not the laborer who accidentally uncovers but ignores it, and who cannot be accounted to be, any more than the spade he handles, other than a mere material cause of its discovery. So we must regard the sum of the destructive agencies of nature, as a material cause of the origin of new species, their formal cause being the reaction of the nature of their parent organisms upon the sum of the multitudinous influences of their environment. This kind of action of “the organism”—this formal cause—has been compared by Mr. Alfred Wallace, and by me, with the action of the organism in its embryonic development; and this, I have further urged, is to be likened to the processes of repair and reproduction of parts of the individual after injury, and this, again, to reflex action, and, finally, this last to instinct as manifested in ourselves and in other animals also.

The phenomena, then, exhibited in the various processes which have been passed in review—nutrition, growth, repair, reflex action, instinct, the evolution of the individual and of the species—will, I think, abundantly serve to convince him who carefully considers them, that a mechanical conception of nature is inadequate and untenable. For it cannot be denied that in all these various natural processes, performed by creatures devoid of self-conscious intellect, there is somehow and somewhere a latent rationality, by the imminent existence of which their various admirably calculated activities are alone explicable. We are compelled to admit that the merely animal and vegetable worlds which we regard as irrational, possess a certain rationality. This innate mysterious rationality blindly executes the most elaborately contrived actions in order to effect necessary or useful ends not consciously in view. We have here to consider the question, “How is this blind rationality, this practical but unconscious intelligence, explicable?”

Edward Von Hartmann, the eloquent prophet of the unconscious intelligence of nature, teaches us that such intelligence is the attribute of the very animals and plants themselves.

But can we limit the manifesta99tions of intelligence and quasi-instinctive purpose to the organic world? By no means. The phenomena of crystallisation, the repair in due form of the broken angle of a crystal, the inherent tendencies of chemical substances to combine in definite proportions, and other laws of the inorganic world, speak to us of unconscious intelligence and volition latent in it also.

A perception of this truth has led to the conception of the universal presence of true intelligence, as it were in a rudimentary form, throughout the whole material universe—the universal diffusion of what the late Professor Clifford called “mind-stuff” in every particle of matter.

Such a belief can, however, be entertained only by those who neglect to note the differences of objects presented to the senses, attending solely to their resemblances, and describing them by inadequate and misleading terms. The habit of perverting language in this manner, has been lately well spoken of as using intellectual false coin. By such an abuse of language and disregard of points of unlikeness, all diversities may easily be reduced to identity. Against such abuse the scientific biologist must energetically protest. The expression “life” refers to definite phenomena which are not found but in animals and plants. The crystal is not really alive, because it does not undergo the cycle of changes characteristic of life. It does not sustain itself by alimentation, reproduce its kind, and die. Anyone choosing to stretch terms may say that molecules of inorganic matter live, because molecules exist. But in that case we shall have to create a new term to denote what we now call life. We might as well say a lamp-post “feels” because we can make an impression on it, or that crystals “calculate” because of their geometrical proportions, or that oxygen “lusts” after that which it rusts. As the late Mr. G. H. Lewes has said:100 “We deny that a crystal has sensibility; we deny it on the ground that crystals exhibit no more signs of sensibility than plants exhibit signs of civilisation, and we deny it on the ground that among the conditions of sensibility there are some positively known to us, and these are demonstrably absent from the crystal. We have full evidence that it is only special kinds of molecular change that exhibit the special signs called sentient; we have as good evidence that only special aggregations of molecules are vital, and that sensibility never appears except in a living organism, disappearing with the vital activities, as we know that banks and trades-unions are specifically human institutions.”

The considerations which are here applied to vital activity, may be paralleled by others applied to intelligence. They will show us that however profoundly rational may be that world which is commonly spoken of as irrational, yet that its rationality is not truly the attribute of the various animals which perform such admirably calculated actions, but truly belongs to what is the ultimate and common cause of them all, and to that only.

There is, indeed, a logic in mere “feeling,” there is a logic even in insentient nature; but that logic is not the logic of the crystal nor of the brute; its true position must be sought elsewhere. It is in them, but it is not of them.

However, let us patiently consider a little this hypothesis of an innate, unconscious intelligence as the cause of the various strictly, or analogically, instinctive actions of animals.

It is in the first place plain that no intelligence could exist so as to adjust “means” to “ends,” except by the aid of memory; and “memory” has therefore been freely attributed even to the lower animals. Let us see, then, what the term “memory” really denotes. Now we cannot be said to remember anything unless we are conscious that what is again made present to our mind has been present to our mind before. An image might recur to our imagination a hundred times, but if at each recurrence it was for us something altogether new and unconnected with the past, we could not be said to remember it. It would rather be an example of extreme “forgetfulness” than of “memory.” In “memory,” then, there are and must be two distinct elements. The first is the reproduction before the mind of what has been before the mind previously, and the second element is the rec101ognition of what is so reproduced as being connected with the past.

There is yet a further distinction which may be drawn between acts of true recollection.

We are all aware that every now and then we direct our attention to try and recall something which we know we have for the moment forgotten, and which we instantly recognise when we have recalled it. But besides this voluntary memory we are sometimes startled by the flashing into consciousness of something we had forgotten, and which we were so far from trying to recollect that we were thinking of something entirely different.

There are, then, two kinds of true memory—one in which the will intervenes, and which may be spoken of as recollection, and the other in which it does not, and which may be termed reminiscence. Neither of these can exist in a creature destitute of true self-consciousness. There are, however, two other kinds of repeated action which take place even in ourselves, and which should be carefully distinguished.

The first of these are practically automatic actions, which are repeated unconsciously after having been learned, as in walking, reading, speaking, and often in playing some musical instrument. In a certain vague and improper sense we may be said—having learned how to do these things—to recollect how to do them; but unless the mind recognises the past in the present while performing them they are not instances of memory, but merely a form of habit in which consciousness may or may not intervene.

The second class of repeated actions just referred to are, on the other hand, those in which consciousness cannot be made to intervene, and are mere acts of organic habit. Thus a man wrecked on an island inhabited by savages, and long dwelling there, may at first have the due action of his digestive organs impeded by the unwonted food on which he may have to live. After a little while, however, the evil diminishes, and in time his organism may have “learnt” how to correspond perfectly with the new conditions. Then with each fresh meal the alimentary canal and glands must practically “recognise” a return of the102 recently obtained experience, and repeat its freshly acquired power of healthy response thereto. Can “memory” be properly predicated of such actions of the alimentary glands? It can be so predicated only by a perversion of language. It is not memory, because not only is it divorced from consciousness as it occurs, but it cannot anyhow be made present to consciousness. Again, a boy at school has had a kick at football, which has left a deep scar on his leg. That boy, now become an old man, still bears the same scar, though all his tissues have been again and again transformed in the course of seventy years. Can the constant reproduction of the mark, in any reasonable sense, be said to be an act of, or due to, memory? Evidently it cannot, and neither can it be reasonably predicated of any of the actions of plants or of the lowest animals.

As, then, “memory” cannot be predicated, except by an abuse of language, of the lower forms of life, it would appear that neither intelligence nor rationality can truly exist in them, so as to preside over all those actions of nutrition, repair, reproduction, and instinct which we have examined and distinguished.

Nevertheless, Hartmann and his followers do not on this account hesitate to ascribe true intelligence to unconscious nature, and though such ascription may seem too absurd to deserve serious consideration, it would nevertheless be a great mistake to despise such opinions. For, as Mr. Lewes truly says,34 “As there are many truths which cease to be appreciated because they are never disputed,” so there are many errors which are best exposed by allowing them to run to a head. Mr. Butler, who carries this hypothesis of unconscious intelligence to its last consequences, asks,35 “What is to know how to do a thing?” His answer is, “Surely, to do it.” And he represents how, when many things have been perfectly learnt, they may be performed unconsciously. In a very amusing chapter on “Conscious and unconscious knowers,” he says,103 “Whenever we find people knowing they know this or that ... they do not yet know it perfectly.” In another place he says,36 “We say of the chicken that it knows how to run about as soon as it is hatched ... but had it no knowledge before it was hatched? It grew eyes, feathers, and bones; yet we say it knew nothing about all this.... What, then, does it know? Whatever it knows so well as to be unconscious of knowing it. Knowledge dwells on the confines of uncertainty. When we are very certain we do not know that we know. When we will very strongly, we do not know that we will.”

Now the fact is that there is great ambiguity in the use of the word know. Just as before with the term memory, so also here, certain distinctions must be drawn if we would think coherently.

A. To “know,” in the highest sense which we give to the word, is to be aware (by a reflex act) that we really have a certain given perception. It is a voluntary, intelligent, self-conscious act, parallel to that kind of memory which we before distinguished as “recollection.”

B. We also say we “know” when we do not use a reflex act, but yet have a true perception—a perception accompanied by consciousness—as when we teach, and in most of our ordinary intellectual acts.

C. When we so “know” a thing that it can be done with perfect unconsciousness, we cannot be said to “know” it intellectually, although in doing that thing our nervous and motor mechanism acts (in response to sensational stimuli) as perfectly as, or more perfectly than, in our conscious activity. The “knowledge” which accompanies such “unconscious action” is improperly so called, except in so far as we may be able to direct our minds to its perception, and so render it worthy of the name—as we have seen we may direct attention to our unconscious reminiscences, and so make them conscious ones. In the same way then in which we have already distinguished such acts of memory (while unconscious) as sensuous memory, so we may distinguish such acts of apprehension (while uncon104scious) as sensuous cognition. By it we can understand, to a certain extent, what may be the “knowledge” or “sensuous cognition” of mere animals.

D. Besides the above three kinds of apprehensions, we may distinguish others which can be only very remotely, if at all, compared with knowledge, since they can never, by any effort, be brought within the sphere of consciousness. Such are the actions of our organism by which it responds to impressions in an orderly and appropriate but unfelt manner—the intimate actions of our visceral organs, which can be modified, within limits, according to the influence brought to bear on them, as we may see in the oarsman’s hand, the blacksmith’s arm, and the ballet-dancer’s leg.

If such actions could be spoken of as in any sense apprehensive, they would have to be spoken of as “organic cognitions,” but they may be best distinguished as “organic response” or “organic correspondence.”

That the inorganic world, no less than the organic, is instinct with reason, and that we find in it objective conditions which correspond with our subjective conceptions, is perfectly true; but when once the profound difference between mere organic habit and intellectual memory is apprehended, there will be little difficulty in recognising the yet greater difference between “organic correspondence” and the faithfulness of inorganic matter to the laws of its being.

That the absence of consciousness in actions which are perfectly performed, does not make such actions into acts of “perfect knowledge,” is demonstrated by every calculating machine. No sane person can say that such a machine “possesses” knowledge, though it is true that it “exhibits” it. Similarly we must refuse to apply the terms “memory” and “intelligence” to the merely organic activity of animals and plants.

The assertion that in the vegetal and lowest animal forms of life there is an innate but unconscious intelligence, is an assertion which contains an inherent contradiction, and is therefore fundamentally irrational. Anyone who says that blind actions (in which no end is perceived or intended) are truly intelligent ones, abuses language. The meaning of words is due to convention, and105 anyone who calls such actions truly intelligent, divides himself from the rest of mankind by refusing to speak their language.

What experience have we which can justify such a conception as that of “unconscious intelligence?” We are indeed aware of a multitude of actions which are evidently the outcome of intelligence, but which (like the analogous action of a calculating machine) are performed by creatures really unconscious, though they may possess consentience. But consciousness is the accompaniment of all those actions which we know to be intellectual and rational. Our experience then contradicts the hypothesis of the existence of any such thing as “unconscious intelligence.” Such a thing is indeed no true concept, for it is incapable not only of being imagined but also of being really conceived of. It resembles such unmeaning expressions as “a square pentagon” or a “pitch-dark luminosity.”

Nevertheless, our experience is in favor of the existence of an intelligence which can implant in and elicit from unconscious bodies activities which are intelligent in appearance and result. Thus we can construct calculating machines and train animals to perform many actions which have a delusive semblance of rationality.

“Truly intelligent action” we know as being intelligent and rational in its foresight, and therefore as necessarily conscious in the very principle of its being.

“Unconsciously intelligent action,” improperly called “intelligent” or “wise,” is that which is intelligent and wise only as to its results, and not in the innermost principle of the creatures (whether living or mere machines) which perform such action. To speak technically, we have “formal” and “material” intelligence, as we have “formal” and “material” vice and virtue.37 We have already distinguished between the “formal” and the merely106 “material” discoverer of a new fossil, and this distinction is one which it is most important to bear in mind. It is the failure to apprehend this distinction which is the root of a vast number of modern philosophical errors, and the error which consists in asserting the reality of “unconscious intelligence” is one of them.

In fact “intelligence” exists very truly, in a certain sense, in the admirably directed actions blindly performed by living beings. It is not, however, “formally” in them, but exists formally in their ultimate cause. Nevertheless that intelligence is so implanted within them that it truly exists in them “materially” though it is not “formally” in them.

We have here, then, the answer to the question, “What is the rationality of the irrational?” It is a rationality which is very really, though not materially, present in the irrational world, while it is formally present in that world’s cause and origin.

To every Theist this answer will be a satisfactory one. To him who is not a Theist there is no really satisfactory answer possible. This is a question not of theology but of pure reason antecedent to all theology. To reason, and to reason only, I appeal when I affirm that the existence of a constant, pervading, sustaining, directing, and all-controlling but unfathomable Intelligence which is not the intelligence of irrational creatures themselves, is the supreme truth which nature eloquently proclaims to him who with unprejudiced reason and loving sympathy will carefully consider her ways. He can hardly fail to discover, immanent in the material universe, “an action the results of which harmonize with man’s reason; an action which is orderly, and disaccords with blind chance, or ‘a fortuitous concurrence of atoms,’ but which ever eludes his grasp, and which acts in modes different from those by which we should attempt to accomplish similar ends.”38 For myself, I am bound humbly to confess that the more I study nature the more I am convinced that in the action of this all-pervading but inscrutable and107 unimaginable intelligence, of which self-conscious human rationality is the utterly inadequate image, though the image attainable by us, is to be sought the sole possible explanation of the mysterious but undeniable presence in nature of a rationality in that which is in itself irrational.—Fortnightly Review.



White, crimson, emerald green, shining golden yellow, are amongst the colors seen in the eyes of birds. In owls, herons, cormorants, and many other tribes, the brightly-tinted eye is incomparably the finest feature and chief glory. It fixes the attention at once, appearing like a splendid gem, for which the airy bird-body with its graceful curves and soft tints forms an appropriate setting. When the eye closes in death, the bird, except to the naturalist, becomes a mere bundle of dead feathers: crystal globes may be put into the empty sockets, and a bold life-imitating attitude given to the stuffed specimen; but the vitreous orbs shoot forth no life-like flames, the “passion and the fire whose fountains are within” have vanished, and the best work of the taxidermist, who has given a life to his bastard art, produces in the mind only sensations of irritation and disgust. In museums, where limited space stands in the way of any abortive attempts at copying nature too closely, the stuffer’s work is endurable because useful; but in a drawing-room, who does not close his eyes or turn aside to avoid seeing a case of stuffed birds—those unlovely mementoes of death in their gay plumes? who does not shudder, albeit not with fear, to see the wild cat, filled with straw, yawning horribly, and trying to frighten the spectator with its crockery glare? I shall never forget the first sight I had of the late Mr. Gould’s collection of humming-birds (now in the National Museum), shown to me by the naturalist himself, who evidently took considerable pride in the work of his hands. I had just left tropical nature behind me across the Atlantic, and the unexpected meeting with a transcript of it in a dusty room in Bedford Square gave me quite a shock. Those pellets of dead feathers, which had long ceased to sparkle and shine, stuck with wires—not invisible—over blossom109ing cloth and tinsel bushes, how melancholy they made me feel!

Considering the bright color and great splendor of some eyes, particularly in birds, it seems probable that in these cases the organ has a twofold use: first and chiefly, to see; secondly, to intimidate an adversary with those luminous mirrors, in which all the dangerous fury of a creature brought to bay is best depicted. Throughout nature the dark eye predominates; and there is certainly a great depth of fierceness in the dark eye of a bird of prey; but its effect is less than that produced by the vividly-colored eye, or even of the white eye of some raptorial species, as, for instance, of the Asturina pucherani. Violent emotions are associated in our minds—possibly, also, in the minds of other species—with certain colors. Bright red seems the appropriate hue of anger: the poet Herbert even calls the rose “angrie and brave” on account of its hue: and the red or orange certainly expresses resentment better than the dark eye. Even a very slight spontaneous variation in the coloring of the irides might give an advantage to an individual for natural selection to act on; for we can see in almost any living creature that not only in its perpetual metaphorical struggle for existence is its life safeguarded in many ways; but when protective resemblances, flight, and instincts of concealment all fail, and it is compelled to engage in a real struggle with a living adversary, it is provided for such occasions with another set of defences. Language and attitudes of defiance come into play; feathers or hairs are erected; beaks snap and strike, or teeth are gnashed, and the mouth foams or spits; the body puffs out; wings are waved or feet stamped on the ground, and many other gestures of rage are practised. It is not possible to believe that the color110ing of the crystal globes, towards which an opponent’s sight is first directed, and which most vividly exhibit the raging emotions within, can have been entirely neglected as a means of defence by the principle of selection in nature. For all these reasons I believe the bright-colored eye is an improvement on the dark eye.

Man has been very little improved in this direction, the dark eye, except in the north of Europe, having been, until recent times, almost or quite universal. The blue eye does not seem to have any advantage for man in a state of nature, being mild where fierceness of expression is required; it is almost unknown amongst the inferior creatures; and only on the supposition that the appearance of the eye is less important to man’s welfare than it is to that of other species can we account for its survival in a branch of the human race. Little, however, as the human eye has changed, assuming it to have been dark originally, there is a great deal of spontaneous variation in individuals, light hazel and blue-grey being apparently the most variable. I have found curiously marked and spotted eyes not uncommon; in some instances the spots being so black, round, and large as to produce the appearance of eyes with clusters of pupils on them. I have known one person with large brown spots on light blue-grey eyes, whose children all inherited the peculiarity; also another with reddish hazel irides thickly marked with fine characters resembling Greek letters. This person was an Argentine of Spanish blood, and was called by his neighbors ojos escritos, or written eyes. It struck me as a very curious circumstance that these eyes, both in their ground color and the form and disposition of the markings traced on them, were precisely like the eyes of a common species of grebe, Podiceps rollandi. But we look in vain amongst men for the splendid crimson, flaming yellow, or startling white orbs which would have made the dark-skinned brave inspired by violent emotions a being terrible to see. Nature has neglected man in this respect, and it is to remedy the omission that he stains his face with bright pigments and crowns his head with eagles’ barred plumes.

Bright-colored eyes in many species are probably due, like ornaments and111 gaudy plumage, to sexual selection. The quality of shining in the dark, however, possessed by many nocturnal and semi-nocturnal species, has always, I believe, a hostile purpose. When found in inoffensive species, as, for instance, in the lemurs, it can only be attributed to mimicry, and this would be a parallel case with butterflies mimicking the brilliant “warning colors” of other species on which birds do not prey. Cats amongst mammals, and owls amongst birds, have been most highly favored; but to the owls the palm must be given. The feline eyes, as of a puma or wild cat, blazing with wrath, are wonderful to see; sometimes the sight of them affects one like an electric shock; but for intense brilliance and quick changes, the dark orbs kindling with the startling suddenness of a cloud illuminated by flashes of lightning, the yellow globes of the owl are unparalleled. Some readers might think my language exaggerated. Descriptions of bright sunsets and of storms with thunder and lightning would, no doubt, sound extravagant to one who had never witnessed these phenomena. Those only who spend years “conversing with wild animals in desert places,” to quote Azara’s words, know that, as with the atmosphere, so with animal life, there are special moments; and that a creature presenting a very sorry appearance dead in a museum, or living in captivity, may, when hard pressed and fighting for life in its own fastness, be sublimed by its fury into a weird and terrible object.

Nature has many surprises for those who wait on her: one of the greatest she ever favored me with was the sight of a wounded Magellanic eagle-owl I shot on the Rio Negro in Patagonia. The haunt of this bird was an island in the river, overgrown with giant grasses and tall willows, leafless now, for it was in the middle of winter. Here I sought for and found him waiting on his perch for the sun to set. He eyed me so calmly when I aimed my gun, I scarcely had the heart to pull the trigger. He had reigned there so long, the feudal tyrant of that remote wilderness? Many a water-rat, stealing like a shadow along the margin between the deep stream and the giant rushes, he had snatched away to death; many a spotted wild pigeon112 had woke on its perch at night with his cruel crooked talons piercing its flesh; and beyond the valley on the bushy uplands many a crested tinamou had been slain on her nest and her beautiful glossy dark green eggs left to grow pale in the sun and wind, the little lives that were in them dead because of their mother’s death. But I wanted that bird badly, and hardened my heart: the “demoniacal laughter” with which he had so often answered the rushing sound of the swift black river at eventide would be heard no more. I fired: he swerved on his perch, remained suspended for a few moments, then slowly fluttered down. Behind the spot where he had fallen was a great mass of tangled dark-green grass, out of which rose the tall, slender boles of the trees; overhead through the fretwork of leafless twigs the sky was flushed with tender roseate tints, for the sun had now gone down and the surface of the earth was in shadow. There, in such a scene, and with the wintry quiet of the desert over it all, I found my victim stung by his wounds to fury and prepared for the last supreme effort. Even in repose he is a big eagle-like bird: now his appearance was quite altered, and in the dim, uncertain light he looked gigantic in size—a monster of strange form and terrible aspect. Each particular feather stood out on end, the tawny barred tail spread out like a fan, the immense tiger-colored wings wide open and rigid, so that as the bird, that had clutched the grass with his great feathered claws, swayed his body slowly from side to side—just as a snake about to strike sways its head, or as an angry watchful cat moves its tail—first the tip of one, then of the other wing touched the ground. The black horns stood erect, while in the centre of the wheel-shaped head the beak snapped incessantly, producing a sound resembling the clicking of a sewing-machine. This was a suitable setting for the pair of magnificent furious eyes, on which I gazed with a kind of fascination, not unmixed with fear when I remembered the agony of pain suffered on former occasions from sharp, crooked talons driven into me to the bone. The irides were of a bright orange color, but every time I attempted to approach the bird they kindled into great globes of quivering113 yellow flame, the black pupils being surrounded by a scintillating crimson light which threw out minute yellow sparks into the air. When I retired from the bird this preternatural fiery aspect would instantly vanish.

The dragon eyes of that Magellanic owl haunt me till now, and when I remember them, the bird’s death still weighs on my conscience, albeit by killing it I bestowed on it that dusty immortality which is the portion of stuffed specimens in a museum.

The question as to the cause of this fiery scintillating appearance is, doubtless, one very hard to answer, but it will force itself on the mind. When experimenting on the bird, I particularly noticed that every time I retired the nictitating membrane would immediately cover the eyes and obscure them for some time, as they will when an owl is confronted with strong sunlight; and this gave me the impression that the fiery, flashing appearance was accompanied with, or followed by, a burning or smarting sensation. I will here quote a very suggestive passage from a letter on this subject written to me by a gentleman of great attainments in science: “Eyes certainly do shine in the dark—some eyes, e.g. those of cats and owls; and the scintillation you speak of is probably another form of the phenomenon. It probably depends upon some extra-sensibility of the retina analogous to what exists in the molecular constitution of sulphide of calcium and other phosphorescent substances. The difficulty is in the scintillation. We know that light of this character has its source in the heat vibrations of molecules at the temperature of incandescence, and the electric light is no exception to the rule. A possible explanation is that supra-sensitive retinæ in times of excitement become increasedly phosphorescent, and the same excitement causes a change in the curvature of the lens, so that the light is focussed, and pro tanto brightened into sparks. Seeing how little we know of natural forces, it may be that what we call light in such a case is eye speaking to eye—an emanation from the window of one brain into the window of another.”

The theory here suggested that the fiery appearance is only another form of114 the phosphorescent light found in some eyes, if correct, would go far towards disposing of all those cases one hears and reads about—some historical ones—of human eyes flashing fire and blazing with wrath. Probably all such descriptions are merely poetic exaggerations. One would not look for these fiery eyes amongst the peaceful children of civilization, who, when they make war, do so without anger, and kill their enemies by machinery, without even seeing them; but amongst savage or semi-savage men, carnivorous in their diet, fierce in disposition, and extremely violent in their passions. It is precisely amongst people of this description that I have lived a great deal. I have often seen them frenzied with excitement, their faces white as ashes, hair erect, and eyes dropping great tears of rage, but I have never seen anything in them even approaching to that fiery appearance described in the owl.

Nature has done comparatively little for the human eye, not only in denying it the terrifying splendors found in some other species, but also in the minor merit of beauty; yet here, when we consider how much sexual selection concerns itself with the eye, a great deal might have been expected. When going about the world one cannot help thinking that the various races and tribes of men, differing in the color of their skins and in the climates and conditions they live in, ought to have differently colored eyes. In Brazil, I was greatly struck with the magnificent appearance of many of the negro women I saw there: well-formed, tall, majestic creatures, often appropriately clothed in loose white gowns and white turban-like headdresses; while on their round polished blue-black arms they wore silver armlets. It seemed to me that the pale golden irides, as in the intensely black tyrant-bird Lichenops, would have given a finishing glory to these sable beauties, completing their strange unique loveliness. Again, in that exquisite type of female beauty which we see in the white girl with a slight infusion of negro blood, giving the graceful frizzle to the hair, the purple-red hue to the lips, and the dusky terra-cotta tinge to the skin, an eye more suitable than the dark dull brown would have been the intense orange115 brown seen in the lemur’s eye. For many very dark-skinned tribes nothing more beautiful than the ruby-red iris could be imagined; while sea-green eyes would have best suited dusky-pale Polynesians and languid peaceful tribes like that one described in Tennyson’s poem:—

And round about the keel with faces pale,
Dark faces pale against that rosy flame,
The mild-eyed melancholy Lotos-eaters came.

Since we cannot have the eyes we should like best to have, let us consider those that nature has given us. The incomparable beauty of the “emerald eye” has been greatly praised by the poets, particularly by those of Spain. Emerald eyes, if they only existed, would certainly be beautiful beyond all others, especially if set off with dark or black hair and that dim pensive creamy pallor of the skin frequently seen in warm climates, and which is more beautiful than the rosy complexion prevalent in northern regions, though not so lasting. But either they do not exist or else I have been very unfortunate, for after long seeking I am compelled to confess that never yet have I been gratified by the sight of emerald eyes. I have seen eyes called green, that is, eyes with a greenish tinge or light in them, but they were not the eyes I sought. One can easily forgive the poets their misleading descriptions, since they are not trustworthy guides, and very often, like Humpty Dumpty in “Through the Looking Glass,” make words do “extra work.” For sober fact one is accustomed to look to men of science; yet, strange to say, while these complain that we—the unscientific ones—are without any settled and correct ideas about the color of our own eyes, they have endorsed the poet’s fable, and have even taken considerable pains to persuade the world of its truth. Dr. Paul Broca is their greatest authority. In his “Manual for Anthropologists” he divides human eyes into four distinct types—orange, green, blue, grey; and these four again into five varieties each. The symmetry of such a classification suggests at once that it is an arbitrary one. Why orange, for instance? Light hazel, clay color, red, dull brown, cannot properly be called orange; but the division requires the five supposed varieties of the dark pig116mented eye to be grouped under one name, and because there is yellow pigment in some dark eyes they are all called orange. Again, to make the five grey varieties the lightest grey is made so light that only when placed on a sheet of white paper does it show grey at all: but there is always some color in the human skin, so that Broca’s eye would appear absolutely white by contrast—a thing unheard of in nature. Then we have green, beginning with the palest sage green, and up through grass green and emerald green, to the deepest sea green and the green of the holly leaf. Do such eyes exist in nature? In theory they do. The blue eye is blue, and the grey grey, because in such eyes there is no yellow or brown pigment on the outer surface of the iris to prevent the dark purple pigment—the uvea—on the inner surface from being seen through the membrane, which has different degrees of opacity, making the eye appear grey, light or dark blue, or purple, as the case may be. When yellow pigment is deposited in small quantity on the outer membrane, then it should, according to the theory, blend with the inner blue and make green. Unfortunately for the anthropologists, it doesn’t. It only gives in some cases the greenish variable tinge I have mentioned, but nothing approaching to the decided greens of Broca’s tables. Given an eye with the right degree of translucency in the membrane and a very thin deposit of yellow pigment spread equally over the surface; the result would be a perfectly green iris. Nature, however, does not proceed quite in this way. The yellow pigment varies greatly in hue; it is muddy yellow, brown, or earthy color, and it never spreads itself uniformly over the surface, but occurs in patches grouped about the pupil and spreads in dull rays or lines and spots, so that the eye which science says “ought to be called green” is usually a very dull blue-grey or brownish-blue, or clay color, and in some rare instances shows a changeable greenish hue.

In the remarks accompanying the report of the Anthropomentric Committee of the British Association for 1881 and 1883, it is said that green eyes are more common than the tables indicate, and that eyes that should properly be called117 green, owing to the popular prejudice against that term, have been recorded as grey or some other color.

Does any such prejudice exist? or is it necessary to go about with the open manual in our hands to know a green eye when we see one? No doubt the “popular prejudice” is supposed to have its origin in Shakespeare’s description of jealousy as a green-eyed monster; but if Shakespeare has any great weight with the popular mind the prejudice ought to be the other way, since he is one of those who sing the splendors of the green eye.

Thus, in Romeo and Juliet:—

The eagle, madam,
Hath not so green, so quick, so fair an eye
As Paris hath.

The lines are, however, nonsense, as green-eyed eagles have no existence; and perhaps the question of the popular prejudice is not worth arguing about.

If we could leave out the mixed or neutral eyes, which are in a transitional state—blue eyes with some dark pigment obscuring their blueness, and making them quite unclassifiable, as no two pairs of eyes are found alike—then all eyes might be divided into two great natural orders, those with and those without pigment on the outer surface of the membrane. They could not be called light and dark eyes, since many hazel eyes are really lighter than purple and dark grey eyes. They might, however, be simply called brown and blue eyes, for in all eyes with the outer pigment there is brown, or something scarcely distinguishable from brown; and all eyes without pigment, even the purest greys, have some blueness.

Brown eyes express animal passions rather than intellect, and the higher moral feelings. They are frequently equalled in their own peculiar kind of eloquence by the brown or dark eyes in civilised dogs. In animals there is, in fact, often an exaggerated eloquence of expression. To judge from their eyes, caged cats and eagles in the Zoological Gardens are all furred and feathered Bonnivards. Even in the most intellectual of men the brown eye speaks more of the heart than of the head. In the inferior creatures the black eye is always keen and cunning or else soft and mild, as in fawns, doves, aquatic birds, etc.;118 and it is remarkable that in man also the black eye—dark brown iris with large pupil—generally has one or the other of these predominant expressions. Of course, in highly-civilised communities, individual exceptions are extremely numerous. Spanish and negro women have wonderfully soft and loving eyes, while the cunning weasel-like eye is common everywhere, especially amongst Asiatics. In high-caste Orientals the keen, cunning look has been refined and exalted to an expression of marvellous subtlety—the finest expression of which the black eye is capable.

The blue eye—all blues and greys being here included—is, par excellence, the eye of intellectual man; that outer warm-colored pigment hanging like a cloud, as it were, over the brain absorbs its most spiritual emanations, so that only when it is quite blown away are we able to look into the soul, forgetting man’s kinship with the brutes. When one is unaccustomed to it from always living with dark-eyed races, the blue eye seems like an anomaly in nature, if not a positive blunder; for its power of expressing the lower and commonest instincts and passions of our race is comparatively limited; and in cases where the higher faculties are undeveloped it seems vacant and meaningless. Add to this that the ethereal blue color is associated in the mind with atmospheric phenomena rather than with solid matter, inorganic or animal. It is the hue of the void, expressionless sky; of shadows on far-off hill and cloud; of water under certain conditions of the atmosphere, and of the unsubstantial summer haze,

Whose margin fades
Forever and forever as I move.

In organic nature we only find the hue sparsely used in the quickly-perishing flowers of some frail plants; while a few living things of free and buoyant motions, like birds and butterflies, have been touched on the wings with the celestial tint only to make them more aërial in appearance. Only in man, removed from the gross materialism of nature, and in whom has been developed the highest faculties of the mind, do we see the full beauty and significance of the blue eye—the eye, that is, without the interposing cloud of dark pigment119 covering it. In the recently-published biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author says of him: “His eyes were large, dark blue, brilliant, and full of varied expression. Bayard Taylor used to say that they were the only eyes he ever knew to flash fire.... While he was yet at college, an old gypsy woman, meeting him suddenly in a woodland path, gazed at him and asked, ‘Are you a man or an angel?’” Mrs. Hawthorne says in one of her letters quoted in the book: “The flame of his eyes consumed compliment, cant, sham, and falsehood; while the most wretched sinners—so many of whom came to confess to him—met in his glance such a pity and sympathy that they ceased to be afraid of God and began to return to him.... I never dared gaze at him, even I, unless his lids were down.”

I think we have, most of us, seen eyes like these—eyes which one rather avoids meeting, because when met one is startled by the sight of a naked human soul brought so near. One person, at least, I have known to whom the above description would apply in every particular; a man whose intellectual and moral nature was of the highest order, and who perished at the age of thirty, a martyr, like the late Dr. Rabbeth, in the cause of science and humanity.

How very strange, then, that savage man should have been endowed with this eye unsuited to express the instincts and passions of savages, but able to express that intelligent and high moral feeling which a humane civilisation was, long ages after, to develop in his torpid brain! A fact like this seems to fit in with that flattering, fascinating, ingenious hypothesis invented by Mr. Wallace to account for facts which, according to the theory of natural selection, ought not to exist. But, alas! that beautiful hypothesis fails to convince. Even the most degraded races existing on the earth possess a language and the social state, religion, a moral code, laws, and a species of civilisation; so that there is a great gulf between them and the highest ape that lives in the woods. And as far back as we can go this has been the condition of the human race, the real primitive man having left no writing on the rocks. In the far dim past he still appears, naked, standing erect, and with a brain120 “larger than it need be,” according to the theory; so that of the oldest pre-historic skull yet discovered Professor Huxley is able to say that it is a skull which might have contained the brains of a philosopher or of a savage. We can only conclude that we are divided by a very thin partition from those we call savages in our pride; and that if man has continued on the earth, changing but little, for so vast a period of time, the reason is, that while the goddess Elaboration has held him by one hand, endeavoring ever to lead him onwards, the other hand has been clasped by Degeneration, which may be personified as a beauteous and guileful nymph whose fascinations have had as much weight with him as the wisdom of the goddess.—Gentleman’s Magazine.



“The Atlantosaurus,” said I, pointing affectionately with a wave of my left hand to all that was immortal of that extinct reptile, “is estimated to have had a total length of one hundred feet, and was probably the very biggest lizard that ever lived, even in Western America, where his earthly remains were first disinhumed by an enthusiastic explorer,”

“Yes, yes,” my friend answered abstractedly. “Of course, of course; things were all so very big in those days, you know, my dear fellow.”

“Excuse me,” I replied with polite incredulity; “I really don’t know to what particular period of time the phrase ‘in those days’ may be supposed precisely to refer.”

My friend shuffled inside his coat a little uneasily. (I will admit that I was taking a mean advantage of him. The professorial lecture in private life, especially when followed by a strict examination, is quite undeniably a most intolerable nuisance.) “Well,” he said, in a crusty voice, after a moment’s hesitation, “I mean, you know, in geological times ... well, there, my dear fellow, things used all to be so very big in those days, usedn’t they?”

I took compassion upon him and let him off easily. “You’ve had enough of the museum,” I said with magnanimous self-denial. “The Atlantosaurus has broken the camel’s back. Let’s go and have a quiet cigarette in the park outside.”

But if you suppose, reader, that I am going to carry my forbearance so far as to let you, too, off the remainder of that geological disquisition, you are certainly very much mistaken. A discourse which122 would be quite unpardonable in social intercourse may be freely admitted in the privacy of print; because, you see, while you can’t easily tell a man that his conversation bores you (though some people just avoid doing so by an infinitesimal fraction), you can shut up a book whenever you like, without the very faintest or remotest risk of hurting the authors delicate susceptibilities.

The subject of my discourse naturally divides itself, like the conventional sermon, into two heads—the precise date of “geological times,” and the exact bigness of the animals that lived in them. And I may as well begin by announcing my general conclusion at the very outset; first, that “those days” never existed at all; and secondly, that the animals which now inhabit this particular planet are, on the whole, about as big, taken in the lump, as any previous contemporary fauna that ever lived at any one time together upon its changeful surface. I know that to announce this sad conclusion is to break down one more universal and cherished belief: everybody considers that “geological animals” were ever so much bigger than their modern representatives; but the interests of truth should always be paramount, and if the trade of an iconoclast is a somewhat cruel one, it is at least a necessary function in a world so ludicrously overstocked with popular delusions as this erring planet.

What, then, is the ordinary idea of “geological time” in the minds of people like my good friend who refused to discuss with me the exact antiquity of the Atlantosaurian? They think of it all as immediate and contemporaneous,123 a vast panorama of innumerable ages being all crammed for them on to a single mental sheet, in which the dodo and the moa hob-an’-nob amicably with the pterodactyl and the ammonite; in which the tertiary megatherium goes cheek by jowl with the secondary deinosaurs and the primary trilobites; in which the huge herbivores of the Paris Basin are supposed to have browsed beneath the gigantic club-mosses of the Carboniferous period, and to have been successfully hunted by the great marine lizards and flying dragons of the Jurassic Epoch. Such a picture is really just as absurd, or, to speak more correctly, a thousand times absurder, than if one were to speak of those grand old times when Homer and Virgil smoked their pipes together in the Mermaid Tavern, while Shakespere and Molière, crowned with summer roses, sipped their Falernian at their ease beneath the whispering palmwoods of the Nevsky Prospect, and discussed the details of the play they were to produce to-morrow in the crowded Colosseum, on the occasion of Napoleon’s reception at Memphis by his victorious brother emperors, Ramses and Sardanapalus. This is not, as the inexperienced reader may at first sight imagine, a literal transcript from one of the glowing descriptions that crowd the beautiful pages of Ouida; it is a faint attempt to parallel in the brief moment of historical time the glaring anachronisms perpetually committed as regards the vast laps of geological chronology even by well-informed and intelligent people.

We must remember, then, that in dealing with geological time we are dealing with a positively awe-inspiring and unimaginable series of æons, each of which occupied its own enormous and incalculable epoch, and each of which saw the dawn, the rise, the culmination, and the downfall of innumerable types of plant and animal. On the cosmic clock, by whose pendulum alone we can faintly measure the dim ages behind us, the brief lapse of historical time, from the earliest of Egyptian dynasties to the events narrated in this evening’s Pall Mall, is less than a second, less than a unit, less than the smallest item by which we can possibly guide our blind calculations. To a geologist the temples of Karnak and the New Law Courts would124 be absolutely contemporaneous; he has no means by which he could discriminate in date between a scarabæus of Thothmes, a denarius of Antonine, and a bronze farthing of her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria. Competent authorities have shown good grounds for believing that the Glacial Epoch ended about 80,000 years ago; and everything that has happened since the Glacial Epoch is, from the geological point of view, described as “recent.” A shell embedded in a clay cliff sixty or seventy thousand years ago, while short and swarthy Mongoloids still dwelt undisturbed in Britain, ages before the irruption of the “Ancient Britons” of our inadequate school-books, is, in the eyes of geologists generally, still regarded as purely modern.

But behind that indivisible moment of recent time, that eighty thousand years which coincides in part with the fraction of a single swing of the cosmical pendulum, there lie hours, and days, and weeks, and months, and years, and centuries, and ages of an infinite, an illimitable, an inconceivable past, whose vast divisions unfold themselves slowly, one beyond the other, to our aching vision in the half-deciphered pages of the geological record. Before the Glacial Epoch there comes the Pliocene, immeasurably longer than the whole expanse of recent time; and before that again the still longer Miocene, and then the Eocene, immeasurably longer than all the others put together. These three make up in their sum the Tertiary period, which entire period can hardly have occupied more time in its passage than a single division of the Secondary, such as the Cretaceous, or the Oolite, or the Triassic; and the Secondary period, once more, though itself of positively appalling duration, seems but a patch (to use the expressive modernism) upon the unthinkable and unrealisable vastness of the endless successive Primary æons. So that in the end we can only say, like Michael Scott’s mystic head, “Time was, Time is, Time will be.” The time we know affords us no measure at all for even the nearest and briefest epochs of the time we know not; and the time we know not seems to demand still vaster and more inexpressible figures as we pry back curi125ously, with wondering eyes, into its dimmest and earliest recesses.

These efforts to realise the unrealisable make one’s head swim; let us hark back once more from cosmical time to the puny bigness of our earthly animals, living or extinct.

If we look at the whole of our existing fauna, marine and terrestrial, we shall soon see that we could bring together at the present moment a very goodly collection of extant monsters, most parlous monsters, too, each about as fairly big in its own kind as almost anything that has ever preceded it. Every age has its own spécialité in the way of bigness; in one epoch it is the lizards that take suddenly to developing overgrown creatures, the monarchs of creation in their little day; in another, it is the fishes that blossom out unexpectedly into Titanic proportions; in a third, it is the sloths or the proboscideans that wax fat and kick with gigantic members; in a fourth, it may be the birds or the men that are destined to evolve with future ages into veritable rocs or purely realistic Gargantuas or Brobdingnagians. The present period is most undoubtedly the period of the cetaceans; and the future geologist who goes hunting for dry bones among the ooze of the Atlantic, now known to us only by the scanty dredgings of our “Alerts” and “Challengers,” but then upheaved into snow-clad Alps or vine-covered Apennines, will doubtless stand aghast at the huge skeletons of our whales and our razor-backs, and will mutter to himself in awe-struck astonishment, in the exact words of my friend at South Kensington, “Things used all to be so very big in those days, usedn’t they?”

Now, the fact as to the comparative size of our own cetaceans and of “geological” animals is just this. The Atlantosaurus of the Western American Jurassic beds, a great erect lizard, is the very largest creature ever known to have inhabited this sublunary sphere. His entire length is supposed to have reached about a hundred feet (for no complete skeleton has ever been discovered), while in stature he appears to have stood some thirty feet high, or over. In any case, he was undoubtedly a very big animal indeed, for his thigh-bone alone meas126ures eight feet, or two feet taller than that glory of contemporary civilisation, a British Grenadier. This, of course, implies a very decent total of height and size; but our own sperm whale frequently attains a good length of seventy feet, while the rorquals often run up to eighty, ninety, and even a hundred feet. We are thus fairly entitled to say that we have at least one species of animal now living which, occasionally at any rate, equals in size the very biggest and most colossal form known inferentially to geological science. Indeed, when we consider the extraordinary compactness and rotundity of the modern cetaceans, as compared with the tall limbs and straggling skeleton of the huge Jurassic deinosaurs, I am inclined to believe that the tonnage of a decent modern rorqual must positively exceed that of the gigantic Atlantosaurus, the great lizard of the west, in propria persona. I doubt, in short, whether even the solid thigh-bone of the deinosaur could ever have supported the prodigious weight of a full-grown family razor-back whale. The mental picture of these unwieldy monsters hopping casually about, like Alice’s Gryphon in Tenniel’s famous sketch, or like that still more parlous brute, the chortling Jabberwock, must be left to the vivid imagination of the courteous reader, who may fill in the details for himself as well as he is able.

If we turn from the particular comparison of selected specimens (always an unfair method of judging) to the general aspect of our contemporary fauna, I venture confidently to claim for our own existing human period as fine a collection of big animals as any other ever exhibited on this planet by any one single rival epoch. Of course, if you are going to lump all the extinct monsters and horrors into one imaginary unified fauna, regardless of anachronisms, I have nothing more to say to you; I will candidly admit that there were more great men in all previous generations put together, from Homer to Dickens, from Agamemnon to Wellington, than there are now existing in this last quarter of our really very respectable nineteenth century. But if you compare honestly age with age, one at a time, I fearlessly maintain that, so far from there being any falling off in the average127 bigness of things generally in these latter days, there are more big things now living than there ever were in any one single epoch, even of much longer duration than the “recent” period.

I suppose we may fairly say, from the evidence before us, that there have been two Augustan Ages of big animals in the history of our earth—the Jurassic period, which was the zenith of the reptilian type, and the Pliocene, which was the zenith of the colossal terrestrial tertiary mammals. I say on purpose, “from the evidence before us,” because, as I shall go on to explain hereafter, I do not myself believe that any one age has much surpassed another in the general size of its fauna, since the Permian Epoch at least; and where we do not get geological evidence of the existence of big animals in any particular deposit, we may take it for granted, I think, that that deposit was laid down under conditions unfavorable to the preservation of the remains of large species. For example, the sediment now being accumulated at the bottom of the Caspian cannot possibly contain the bones of any creature much larger than the Caspian seal, because there are no big species there swimming; and yet that fact does not negative the existence in other places of whales, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, and hippopotami. Nevertheless, we can only go upon the facts before us; and if we compare our existing fauna with the fauna of Jurassic and Pliocene times, we shall at any rate be putting it to the test of the severest competition that lies within our power under the actual circumstances.

In the Jurassic age there were undoubtedly a great many very big reptiles. “A monstrous eft was of old the lord and master of earth. For him did his high sun flame and his river billowing ran, And he felt himself in his pride to be nature’s crowning race.” There was the ichthyosaurus, a fishlike marine lizard, familiar to us all from a thousand reconstructions, with his long thin body, his strong flippers, his stumpy neck, and his huge pair of staring goggle eyes. The ichthyosaurus was certainly a most unpleasant creature to meet alone in a narrow strait on a dark night; but if it comes to actual measurement, the very biggest ichthyosaurian skeleton ever un128earthed does not exceed twenty-five feet from snout to tail. Now, this is an extremely decent size for a reptile, as reptiles go; for the crocodile and alligator, the two biggest existing lizards, seldom attain an extreme length of sixteen feet. But there are other reptiles now living that easily beat the ichthyosaurus, such, for example, as the larger pythons or rock snakes, which not infrequently reach to thirty feet, and measure round the waist as much as a London alderman of the noblest proportions. Of course, other Jurassic saurians easily beat this simple record. Our British Megalosaurus only extended twenty-five feet in length, and carried weight not exceeding three tons; but his rival Ceteosaurus stood ten feet high, and measured fifty feet from the tip of his snout to the end of his tail; while the dimensions of Titanosaurus may be briefly described as sixty feet by thirty, and those of Atlantosaurus as one hundred by thirty-two. Viewed as reptiles, we have certainly nothing at all to come up to these; but our cetaceans, as a group, show an assemblage of species which could very favorably compete with the whole lot of Jurassic saurians at any cattle show. Indeed, if it came to tonnage, I believe a good blubbery right whale could easily give points to any deinosaur that ever moved upon oolitic continents.

The great mammals of the Pliocene age, again, such as the deinotherium and the mastodon, were also, in their way, very big things in livestock; but they scarcely exceeded the modern elephant, and by no means came near the modern whales. A few colossal ruminants of the same period could have held their own well against our existing giraffes, elks, and buffaloes; but taking the group as a group, I don’t think there is any reason to believe that it beat in general aspect the living fauna of this present age.

For few people ever really remember how very many big animals we still possess. We have the Indian and the African elephant, the hippopotamus, the various rhinoceroses, the walrus, the giraffe, the elk, the bison, the musk ox, the dromedary, and the camel. Big marine animals are generally in all ages bigger than their biggest terrestrial rivals, and most people lump all our big129 existing cetaceans under the common and ridiculous title of whales, which makes this vast and varied assortment of gigantic species seem all reducible to a common form. As a matter of fact, however, there are several dozen colossal marine animals now sporting and spouting in all oceans, as distinct from one another as the camel is from the ox, or the elephant from the hippopotamus. Our New Zealand Berardius easily beats the ichthyosaurus; our sperm whale is more than a match for any Jurassic European deinosaur; our rorqual, one hundred feet long, just equals the dimensions of the gigantic American Atlantosaurus himself. Besides these exceptional monsters, our bottle-heads reach to forty feet, our California whales to forty-four, our hump-backs to fifty, and our razor-backs to sixty or seventy. True fish generally fall far short of these enormous dimensions, but some of the larger sharks attain almost equal size with the biggest cetaceans. The common blue shark, with his twenty-five feet of solid rapacity, would have proved a tough antagonist, I venture to believe, for the best bred enaliosaurian that ever munched a lias ammonite. I would back our modern Carcharodon, who grows to forty feet, against any plesiosaurus that ever swam the Jurassic sea. As for Rhinodon, a gigantic shark of the Indian Ocean, he has been actually measured to a length of fifty feet, and is stated often to attain seventy. I will stake my reputation upon it that he would have cleared the secondary seas of their great saurians in less than a century. When we come to add to these enormous marine and terrestrial creatures such other examples as the great snakes, the gigantic cuttle-fish, the grampuses, and manatees, and sea-lions, and sunfish, I am quite prepared fearlessly to challenge any other age that ever existed to enter the lists against our own colossal forms of animal life.

Again, it is a point worth noting that a great many of the very big animals which people have in their minds when they talk vaguely about everything having been so very much bigger “in those days” have become extinct within a very late period, and are often, from the geological point of view, quite recent.


For example, there is our friend the mammoth. I suppose no animal is more frequently present to the mind of the non-geological speaker, when he talks indefinitely about the great extinct monsters, than the familiar figure of that huge-tusked, hairy northern elephant. Yet the mammoth, chronologically speaking, is but a thing of yesterday. He was hunted here in England by men whose descendants are probably still living—at least so Professor Boyd Dawkins solemnly assures us; while in Siberia his frozen body, flesh and all, is found so very fresh that the wolves devour it, without raising any unnecessary question as to its fitness for lupine food. The Glacial Epoch is the yesterday of geological time, and it was the Glacial Epoch that finally killed off the last mammoth. Then, again, there is his neighbor, the mastodon. That big tertiary proboscidean did not live quite long enough, it is true, to be hunted by the cavemen of the Pleistocene age, but he survived at any rate as long as the Pliocene—our day before yesterday—and he often fell very likely before the fire-split flint weapons of the Abbé Bourgeois’ Miocene men. The period that separates him from our own day is as nothing compared with the vast and immeasurable interval that separates him from the huge marine saurians of the Jurassic world. To compare the relative lapses of time with human chronology, the mastodon stands to our own fauna as Beau Brummel stands to the modern masher, while the saurians stand to it as the Egyptian and Assyrian warriors stand to Lord Wolseley and the followers of the Mahdi.

Once more, take the gigantic moa of New Zealand, that enormous bird who was to the ostrich as the giraffe is to the antelope; a monstrous emu, as far surpassing the ostriches of to-day as the ostriches surpass all the other fowls of the air. Yet the moa, though now extinct, is in the strictest sense quite modern, a contemporary very likely of Queen Elizabeth or Queen Anne, exterminated by the Maoris only a very little time before the first white settlements in the great southern archipelago. It is even doubtful whether the moa did not live down to the days of the earliest colonists, for remains of Maori encampments are still131 discovered, with the ashes of the fire-place even now unscattered, and the close-gnawed bones of the gigantic bird lying in the very spot where the natives left them after their destructive feasts. So, too, with the big sharks. Our modern carcharodon, who runs (as I have before noted) to forty feet in length, is a very respectable monster indeed, as times go; and his huge snapping teeth, which measure nearly two inches long by one and a half broad, would disdain to make two bites of the able-bodied British seaman. But the naturalists of the “Challenger” expedition dredged up in numbers from the ooze of the Pacific similar teeth, five inches long by four wide, so that the sharks to which they originally belonged must, by parity of reasoning, have measured nearly a hundred feet in length. This, no doubt, beats our biggest existing shark, the rhinodon, by some thirty feet. Still, the ooze of the Pacific is a quite recent or almost modern deposit, which is even now being accumulated on the sea bottom, and there would be really nothing astonishing in the discovery that some representatives of these colossal carcharodons are to this day swimming about at their lordly leisure among the coral reefs of the South Sea Islands. That very cautious naturalist, Dr. Günther, of the British Museum, contents himself indeed by merely saying: “As we have no record of living individuals of that bulk having been observed, the gigantic species to which these teeth belonged must probably have become extinct within a comparatively recent period.”

If these things are so, the question naturally suggests itself: Why should certain types of animals have attained their greatest size at certain different epochs, and been replaced at others by equally big animals of wholly unlike sorts? The answer, I believe, is simply this: Because there is not room and food in the world at any one time for more than a certain relatively small number of gigantic species. Each great group of animals has had successively its rise, its zenith, its decadence, and its dotage; each at the period of its highest development has produced a considerable number of colossal forms; each has been supplanted in due time by132 higher groups of totally different structure, which have killed off their predecessors, not indeed by actual stress of battle, but by irresistible competition for food and prey. The great saurians were thus succeeded by the great mammals, just as the great mammals are themselves in turn being ousted, from the land at least, by the human species.

Let us look briefly at the succession of big animals in the world, so far as we can follow it from the mutilated and fragmentary record of the geological remains.

The very earliest existing fossils would lead us to believe, what is otherwise quite probable; that life on our planet began with very small forms—that it passed at first through a baby stage. The animals of the Cambrian period are almost all small mollusks, star-fishes, sponges, and other simple, primitive types of life. There were as yet no vertebrates of any sort, not even fishes, far less amphibians, reptiles, birds, or mammals. The veritable giants of the Cambrian world were the crustaceans, and especially the trilobites, which, nevertheless, hardly exceeded in size a good big modern lobster. The biggest trilobite is some two feet long; and though we cannot by any means say that this was really the largest form of animal life then existing, owing to the extremely broken nature of the geological record, we have at least no evidence that anything bigger as yet moved upon the face of the waters. The trilobites, which were a sort of triple-tailed crabs (to speak very popularly), began in the Cambrian Epoch, attained their culminating point in the Silurian, wandered in the Devonian, and died out utterly in the Carboniferous seas.

It is in the second great epoch, the Silurian, that the cuttle-fish tribe, still fairly represented by the nautilus, the argonaut, the squid, and the octopus, first began to make their appearance upon this or any other stage. The cuttle-fishes are among the most developed of invertebrate animals; they are rapid swimmers; they have large and powerful eyes; and they can easily enfold their prey (teste Victor Hugo) in their long and slimy sucker-clad arms. With these natural advantages to back them up, it is not surprising that the cuttle133 family rapidly made their mark in the world. They were by far the most advanced thinkers and actors of their own age, and they rose almost at once to be the dominant creatures of the primæval ocean in which they swam. There were as yet no saurians or whales to dispute the dominion with these rapacious cephalopods, and so the cuttle family had things for the time all their own way. Before the end of the Silurian epoch, according to that accurate census-taker, M. Barrande, they had blossomed forth into no less than 1,622 distinct species. For a single family to develop so enormous a variety of separate forms, all presumably derived from a single common ancestor, argues, of course, an immense success in life; and it also argues a vast lapse of time during which the different species were gradually demarcated from one another.

Some of the ammonites, which belonged to this cuttle-fish group, soon attained a very considerable size; but a shell known as the orthoceras (I wish my subject didn’t compel me to use such very long words, but I am not personally answerable, thank heaven, for the vagaries of modern scientific nomenclature) grew to a bigger size than that of any other fossil mollusk, sometimes measuring as much as six feet in total length. At what date the gigantic cuttles of the present day first began to make their appearance it would be hard to say, for their shell-less bodies are so soft that they could leave hardly anything behind in a fossil state; but the largest known cuttle, measured by Mr. Gabriel, of Newfoundland, was eighty feet in length, including the long arms.

These cuttles are the only invertebrates at all in the running so far as colossal size is concerned, and it will be observed that here the largest modern specimen immeasurably beats the largest fossil form of the same type. I do not say that there were not fossil forms quite as big as the gigantic calamaries of our own time—on the contrary, I believe there were; but if we go by the record alone we must confess that, in the matter of invertebrates at least, the balance of size is all in favor of our own period.

The vertebrates first make their appearance, in the shape of fishes, towards the close of the Silurian period, the sec134ond of the great geological epochs. The earliest fish appear to have been small, elongated, eel-like creatures, closely resembling the lampreys in structure; but they rapidly developed in size and variety, and soon became the ruling race in the waters of the ocean, where they maintained their supremacy till the rise of the great secondary saurians. Even then, in spite of the severe competition thus introduced, and still later, in spite of the struggle for life against the huge modern cetaceans (the true monarchs of the recent seas), the sharks continued to hold their own as producers of gigantic forms; and at the present day their largest types probably rank second only to the whales in the whole range of animated nature. There seems no reason to doubt that modern fish, as a whole, quite equal in size the piscine fauna of any previous geological age.

It is somewhat different with the next great vertebrate group, the amphibians, represented in our own world only by the frogs, the toads, the newts, and the axolotls. Here we must certainly with shame confess that the amphibians of old greatly surpassed their degenerate descendants in our modern waters. The Japanese salamander, by far the biggest among our existing newts, never exceeds a yard in length from snout to tail; whereas some of the labyrinthodonts (forgive me once more) of the Carboniferous epoch must have reached at least seven or eight feet from stem to stern. But the reason of this falling off is not far to seek. When the adventurous newts and frogs of that remote period first dropped their gills and hopped about inquiringly on the dry land, under the shadow of the ancient tree-ferns and club-mosses, they were the only terrestrial vertebrates then existing, and they had the field (or, rather, the forest) all to themselves. For a while, therefore, like all dominant races for the time being, they blossomed forth at their ease into relatively gigantic forms. Frogs as big as donkeys, and efts as long as crocodiles, luxuriated to their hearts’ content in the marshy lowlands, and lorded it freely over the small creatures which they found in undisturbed possession of the Carboniferous isles. But as ages passed away, and new improvements were slowly invented and patented135 by survival of the fittest in the offices of nature, their own more advanced and developed descendants, the reptiles and mammals, got the upper hand with them, and soon lived them down in the struggle for life, so that this essentially intermediate form is now almost entirely restricted to its one adapted seat, the pools and ditches that dry up in summer.

The reptiles, again, are a class in which the biggest modern forms are simply nowhere beside the gigantic extinct species. First appearing on the earth at the very close of the vast primary periods—in the Permian age—they attained in secondary times the most colossal proportions, and have certainly never since been exceeded in size by any later forms of life in whatever direction. But one must remember that during the heyday of the great saurians, there were as yet no birds and no mammals. The place now filled in the ocean by the whales and grampuses, as well as the place now filled in the great continents by the elephants, the rhinoceroses, the hippopotami, and the other big quadrupeds, was then filled exclusively by huge reptiles, of the sort rendered familiar to us all by the restored effigies on the little island in the Crystal Palace grounds. Every dog has his day, and the reptiles had their day in the secondary period. The forms into which they developed were certainly every whit as large as any ever seen on the surface of this planet, but not, as I have already shown, appreciably larger than those of the biggest cetaceans known to science in our own time.

During the very period, however, when enaliosaurians and pterodactyls were playing such pranks before high heaven as might have made contemporary angels weep, if they took any notice of saurian morality, a small race of unobserved little prowlers was growing up in the dense shades of the neighboring forests which was destined at last to oust the huge reptiles from their empire over earth, and to become in the fulness of time the exclusively dominant type of the whole planet. In the trias we get the first remains of mammalian life in the shape of tiny rat-like animals, marsupial in type, and closely related to the banded ant-eaters of New South Wales at the present day. Throughout the136 long lapse of the secondary ages, across the lias, the oolite, the wealden, and the chalk, we find the mammalian race slowly developing into opossums and kangaroos, such as still inhabit the isolated and antiquated continent of Australia. Gathering strength all the time for the coming contest, increasing constantly in size of brain and keenness of intelligence, the true mammals were able at last, towards the close of the secondary ages, to enter the lists boldly against the gigantic saurians. With the dawn of the tertiary period, the reign of the reptiles begins to wane, and the reign of the mammals to set in at last in real earnest. In place of the ichthyosaurus we get the huge cetaceans; in place of the dinosaurs we get the mammoth and the mastodon; in place of the dominant reptile groups we get the first precursors of man himself.

The history of the great birds has been somewhat more singular. Unlike the other main vertebrate classes, the birds (as if on purpose to contradict the proverb) seem never yet to have had their day. Unfortunately for them, or at least for their chance of producing colossal species, their evolution went on side by side, apparently, with that of the still more intelligent and more powerful mammals; so that wherever the mammalian type had once firmly established itself, the birds were compelled to limit their aspirations to a very modest and humble standard. Terrestrial mammals, however, cannot cross the sea; so in isolated regions such as New Zealand and Madagascar, the birds had things all their own way. In New Zealand, there are no indigenous quadrupeds at all; and there the huge moa attained to dimensions almost equalling those of the giraffe. In Madagascar, the mammalian life was small and of low grade, so the gigantic æpyornis became the very biggest of all known birds. At the same time, these big species acquired their immense size at the cost of the distinctive birdlike habit of flight. A flying moa is almost an impossible conception; even the ostriches compete practically with the zebras and antelopes rather than with the eagles, the condors, or the albatrosses. In like manner, when a pigeon found its way to Mauritius, it developed into the practically wingless137 dodo; while in the northern penguins, on their icy perches, the forelimbs have been gradually modified into swimming organs exactly analogous to the flippers of the seal.

Are the great animals now passing away and leaving no representatives of their greatness to future ages? On land at least that is very probable. Man, diminutive man, who, if he walked on all fours, would be no bigger than a silly sheep, and who only partially disguises his native smallness by his acquired habit of walking erect on what ought to be his hind legs—man has upset the whole balanced economy of nature, and is everywhere expelling and exterminating before him the great herbivores, his predecessors. He needs for his corn and his bananas the fruitful plains which were once laid down in prairie or scrub-wood. Hence it seems not unlikely that the elephant, the hippopotamus, the rhinoceros, and the buffalo must go. But we are still a long way off from that final consummation, even on dry land; while as for the water, it appears highly probable that there are as good fish still in the sea as ever came out of it. Whether man himself, now become the sole dominant animal of our poor old planet, will ever develop into Titanic proportions, seems far more problematical. The race is now no longer to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. Brain counts for more than muscle, and138 mind has gained the final victory over mere matter. Goliath of Gath has shrunk into insignificance before the Gatling gun; as in the fairy tales of old, it is cunning little Jack with his clever devices who wins the day against the heavy, clumsy, muddle-headed giants. Nowadays it is our “Minotaurs” and “Warriors” that are the real leviathans and behemoths of the great deep; our Krupps and Armstrongs are the fire-breathing krakens of the latter-day seas. Instead of developing individually into huge proportions, the human race tends rather to aggregate into vast empires, which compete with one another by means of huge armaments, and invent mitrailleuses and torpedoes of incredible ferocity for their mutual destruction. The dragons of the prime that tore each other in their slime have yielded place to eighty-ton guns and armor-plated turret-ships. Those are the genuine lineal representatives on our modern seas of the secondary saurians. Let us hope that some coming geologist of the dim future, finding the fossil remains of the sunken “Captain,” or the plated scales of the “Comte de Grasse,” firmly embedded in the upheaved ooze of the existing Atlantic, may shake his head in solemn deprecation at the horrid sight, and thank heaven that such hideous carnivorous creatures no longer exist in his own day.—Cornhill Magazine.



‘Twas a day of storm, for the giant Atlantic, rolling in pride,
Drawn by the full moon, driven by the fierce wind, tide upon tide.
Flooded our poor little Channel. A hundred anxious eyes
Were watching a breach new broken—when suddenly some one cries,
“A boat coming in!”—and, rounding the pierhead that hid her before.
There, sure enough, was a stranger smack, head straight for the shore.
How will she land, where each wave is a mountain? Too late for how!
Run up a flag there to show her the right place! She must land now!
She is close—with a rush on the galloping wavetop—a stand,
As the water sinks from beneath her—her nose just touches the land.
And then (as rude hands, sacking a city, greedy of prey,
Toss, in some littered chamber, a child’s toy lightly away),
A great wave rose from behind, and lifting her, towered, and broke,
And flung her headlong, down on the hard beach, close to the folk.
Crash!... But ’tis only her bowsprit gone—she is saved somehow
And a cheer broke out, for a hundred hands have hold of her now.
And they say ’twas her bowsprit saved her, or she must have gone over then;
Her bowsprit it was that saved her; and little they think, those men,
Of one weak woman that prayed, as she watched them tempest-driven!
They say ’twas her bowsprit saved her! I say, ’twas that prayer, and Heaven!
The Spectator.



If the Turk has been qualified as “unspeakable,” he is very far from being inarticulate. Strange as it may seem to those who have formed their opinion of him from hearsay, it is not the less true that he is commonly a good conversationalist, and can say well and pointedly what he has got to say, with a wealth of illustration in anecdote, quotation, and proverb. The latter form commends itself especially to the sententious Turkish mind. The synthetic form of the language, too, secures brevity and conciseness, and opportunities are afforded for those constant assonances or rhyming-vowels which are so dear to the Oriental.

On looking over a note-book containing several hundred Turkish proverbs, taken down in the course of reading and conversation, or borrowed from a collection made at the Oriental Academy at Vienna, the writer has amused himself by grouping them roughly under certain heads, so as to illustrate some aspects of the national character and surroundings.

But first it may be interesting to remark how many well-known English and other European proverbs have their exact counterpart in Turkish. How far are these to be accounted for by contact with, or conquest of, Indo-European races? Or has it been a case of “les beaux esprits se rencontrent”? For instance, we find “You should not look a gift-horse in the mouth,” in exactly the same words, as well as “He that is born to be hanged will never be drowned,” the Turkish version having the advantage of being expressed in two words! The change of words is but slight in “Troubled waters suit the fisher,” “One flower does not make summer,” and “The robe does not make the dervish;” while in Turkey it is not pot that says to kettle, but negro to142 negro, that his face is black. We are disposed to prefer “The nail saved the shoe, the shoe the horse, the horse the man, the man the kingdom,” to our somewhat lumbering “For want of a nail the shoe was lost,” &c. “Wake not the sleeping dog,” has as a corollary “Step not on the sleeping serpent;” and we are warned that there is “No rose without a thorn, nor love without a rival.”

One instance in which our proverbial wisdom is opposed to the Turkish is to be found in the expression “to kill two birds with one stone.” The attempt to do this is condemned by sundry proverbs such as “One arrow does not bring down two birds,” and “You cannot knock down nine walnuts with one stone.”

Often we are reminded of Scriptural proverbs and aphorisms. “Nothing unheard of in the world” sounds Solomonian enough; while “Out with the eye that profits me not,” “The negro does not whiten with washing,” and “That which thou sowest, that also shalt thou reap,” are strikingly like New Testament teaching. Again and again we find expressed in other words lessons of charity, considerateness, and justice, that would not be unworthy of a Christian teacher, as, “The stranger’s prayer is heard;” “The heart’s testimony is stronger than a thousand witnesses;” “Among the blind, close your eyes;” “In truth is right;” “Justice is half religion;” “Neighbor’s right, God’s right.”

The heading under which, perhaps, the largest number of proverbs can be grouped, is that of opportune speech and silence. If the Turk, as has been said, talks well, he also knows how to hold his tongue. He looks down with the greatest contempt on the idle chatterer, and does not even think that143 good-manners require him to make small-talk when he has nothing to say. In fact, when on a visit to a well-bred Turk, with whom you have no common subjects of interest to discuss, after exhausting those suggested by politeness—his health, your own, that of your family, the weather, and the water (a most interesting topic in the East)—you may safely fall back upon that golden silence which their proverb, like ours, rates above silver speech. Hear his comments on the chatterer:—“There is no ass but brays;” “The dog barks, the caravan passes;” “Fool is he who alone talks, and is his only listener;” “The fool wears his heart on his tongue, the wise man keeps his tongue in his heart;” and “Many words, an unsound heart.” He warns us of the mischief of evil-speaking,—“The knife’s wound heals, the tongue’s never;” “The tongue slays more than the sword;” and “The tongue is boneless, but it breaks bones.” Again, he feels keenly the danger of free speech under a corrupt and despotic rule; while he extols honesty and good-faith, and generally condemns lying. The latter is condoned in certain cases, for “Some lies are better than truth,” and we may “Lie, but with measure.” The suppressio veri is even strongly recommended, for is not the “truth-teller banished out of nine cities?” while “He who holds his tongue saves his head,” and “There is no better answer than this, ‘I know not, I saw not.’”

But to turn to something pleasanter, we will quote a few sayings still familiar in our Turk’s mouth, which have survived the corruption of the Palace and official Kings, and seem still to breathe the hardy and independent spirit of the old days, when courage and enterprise were the only passports to the highest places in a conquering empire. Then it could be said that “The horse is to him who mounts, the sword to him who girds it on,” “The brave man’s word is a coat of mail,” “Fortune is not far from the brave man’s head,” “The hero is known on the battle-field,” and “Fear not to-morrow’s mischance.” Who but a conquering race could have produced such a proverb as “Power on my head, or the raven on my corpse;” and who can fail to hear a true ring in144 “Peasant erect is taller than noble on bended knee,” or “I am the slave of him who regards me; the king of him who disregards me?”

Almsgiving is creditable, for “The hand which gives is above that which takes;” and it offers temporal advantages as well as spiritual. In this world “No one cuts the hand that gives,” and “What thou givest that shalt thou take with thee” [to the next]. But beware of accepting alms or favors if you would keep your self-respect, and “Accept the largess of thy friend as if thou wert an enemy.”

Great is the power of wealth; “Even the mountains fear the rich man.” It covers a multitude of failings, and averts many ills. “If a man’s money is white, no matter if his face be black.” “The knife cuts not hand of gold.” But then the disadvantages and dangers of it in a land where empty treasuries are filled by the suppression of a few rich men, and the confiscation of their property! Truly the vacuus viator has the better part where brigands swarm. “Not even a thousand men in armor can strip a naked man.” Our Turk is a man of few wants,—pilaff, coffee, and tobacco are enough for him, and so he will rest contented in the “Health that is better than fortune,” sagely reflecting that “A big head has a big ache,” that “He who has many vineyards has many cares,” and congratulating himself if he can say, “My money is little, my head without strife.” He is not likely to make a fortune in business, being destitute of the enterprise, as well as of the sharpness and hardness, necessary to success. “The bazaar knows neither father nor mother,” and our easy-going friend has a great regard for these domestic ties. Besides, his religion forbids him either to speculate or to put out money at interest, although he sometimes avoids this prohibition by the clumsy expedient of a fictitious sale, or a “present” taken by the lender.

It is a pity that his rulers should not have profited by his experiences of debt. “Poor without debts is better than Prince,” “A thousand cares do not pay one debt,” and “Creditors have better memories than debtors,” are explicit enough, but, perhaps, were not supposed to apply to Government loans.


We find some sound advice on the subject of friendship. Do not expect your friend to be a paragon,—“Who seeks a faultless friend, rests friendless.” But when you have found him, keep him,—“Old friend, old bath,” you will do better to change neither; and if he is “a true friend, he is better than a relation.” On the other hand, avoid the British error of underrating your foe; he is always dangerous. “Water sleeps, the enemy wakes,” and “Be thine enemy an ant, see in him an elephant,” for “A thousand friends are few, one foe many.”

The references to woman are as ungallant as they are unjust. She is to be treated as a child, and as such contemptuously pardoned for her shortcomings. “You should lecture neither child nor woman;” it would be waste of time. Her intelligence, too, is underrated, “her hair is long, her wits short!” It is she who as a mother “makes the house, and mars it,” and she is classed with good wine as “a sweet poison.” But it must be admitted that in this want of gallantry the Turk is far surpassed by the Persian, who says “The dog is faithful, woman never.”

The lover is regarded as a lunatic, unfit for the society of his fellows. “If you are in love, fly to the mountains,” for “Lover and king brook no companion.” He is “blind,” and distance is nothing to him; for him, “Bagdad is not far,” and the only cures for his malady are “travel and patience.”

A word of advice to those about to marry. “Marry below you, but do not marry your daughter above you;” and “Choose cloth by its edge, and a wife by her mother.” It is natural that we should find many references to that submission which is at the root of Islam. Sometimes we find the idea without reference to the Deity, as in the cases, “When fate comes the eye of wisdom is blind,” “No one eats another’s destined portion,” and “What will come, will come, willy nilly;” but more often he is directly invoked. His will is fate, “Whom he slays not, man slays not,” “Who calls on Him is not abandoned,” “He delays, but neglects not,” provides for the helpless and “builds the blind bird’s nest;” and so we should address ourselves to Him,146 “asking God for what we want, not his servant.” If you apply to the latter, you may be disappointed. Even the minister of religion is chary of his assistance. “Food from the Imam’s house, tears from the dead man’s eye,”—you are as likely to get one as the other. Sometimes, too, we meet with a small touch of scepticism, as when we are told, “First tie-up your donkey, then recommend him to God;” and sometimes a cry of black despair, “Happiest he who dies in the cradle.”

Let us conclude this hasty sketch with a few miscellaneous proverbs, remarkable for point or picturesqueness. “The fish stinks from the head” is often quoted in these days of Ottoman decay, in allusion to the bad example which comes from above. We have heard the incapacity for action which is engendered in Turkish rulers by the enforced seclusion of their youth commented on with “Who stays at home, loses his cap in the crowd.” The difficulties of equality,—“You are master, and I am master; who will groom the horse?” On an impostor,—“The empty sack won’t stand upright.” “Qui trop embrasse, mal étreint,” is rendered by “Two water-melons won’t fit under one arm.” “Old brooms are thrown on the roof,” may be taken to apply to the promotion of superannuated fogies. Your hangers-on profit by your success,—“When you climb a tree your shoes go up too.” The higher you are the worse you fall, for “There is a cure for him who falls from horse or donkey-back, but a pick-axe (to dig his grave) for him who falls from a camel.” Let us hope that this proverb, in its literal sense, may never be justified in the persons of our gallant Camel Corps in the Soudan. Three proverbs on the donkey, exemplifying—the useful guest, “They asked the donkey to the wedding, water or wood was wanting;” the power of hope, “Die not, my donkey; summer is coming and clover will grow;” and the folly of exposing oneself to needless criticism, “Don’t cut your donkey’s tail in public; some will say, ‘It is too long;’ others, ‘It is too short.’” And, lastly, as an instance in which the jingle of the original may be reproduced in English,—“The mannerly man learns manners of the mannerless.”—The Spectator.




It was on a summer Sunday morning that the story began—or let me rather say, that I take up the story, for who shall mark the real beginning of those events that mightily color and disturb, and even turn the course of our lives?

In the early sunshine, while the dew was still heavy on the grass, Ian Macpherson had been away three miles up the valley with a dying shepherd. Following the course of the broad, brawling, shallow Riach river; now clambering along steep slate-colored banks of shifting flakes and chips of stone, that looked as if they had swept in avalanches down the abrupt hillside; now springing with the sure, agile step of a born Highlander from one boulder to another as he crossed a streamlet or took a short cut across a bend of the river; now walking quickly over narrow, level reaches of meadow-ground, or amongst springy heather under the birches that overhung the broken gravel banks above the water,—his whole heart was overflowing with that exultation which breathes in the very early hours of morning when the days are long. The earth in that hour was very Paradise, not for anything it had given or ever could give him, but because it was so beautiful, and in its glorious undesecrated solitude seemed still fresh from the hand of God.

The home of the dying man was a mere hovel of peat-sods covered with moss-grown thatch, built on one of those fertile reaches of soil brought down and left here and there in these wild Scotch valleys by floods of long ago. It stood just above the river—all too perilously near in time of storm and flood, you would have thought—and round it towered the rugged hills, echoing unceasingly the murmur of the water and the wind—a murmur, at least, in summer. In winter many a wild storm raged up there, darkening the air with heavy snow and sleet, bowing and breaking and uprooting whole tracts of pines and larch; raving down the shrouded peaks and narrow, dim ravines, and making to tremble the little peat hut and the stout hearts within. And then, when the149 storm was spent, would be a silence as of death; snowy steeps and glittering peaks rising up on all sides motionless against a motionless sky, and down below the dark water creeping slow and quiet under masses of ice.

Macpherson could see it all in memory even as he stepped across the summer flowers, for the poor shepherds in the lone huts scattered here and there in the long valley needed him in winter as well as in summer, in foul weather no less than in fair. But to-day, as he grew accustomed to the half-light in the hut, and the wan face of the dying man became clearer in the shadow of the berth in the wall where he was lying, the minister saw well enough that he would know no more an earthly winter, nor ever see the snow come down upon the hills again. There was only one window in the hut, a single unmovable pane a foot square, let into the sod wall at one end, and rendered even less useful by a strip of rag pinned across it by way of a blind. Most of the light came in dusty beams down the wide chimney, slanting across the background of smoke-blackened wall and rafter, and lying in patches on the uneven mud floor.

As the day was warm the minister set the door wide open, and the dim, dying eyes looked out wistfully at the sunny summer weather and the beautiful wooded slopes where the foot of the opposite hill came down to the river. But he was tired now; all this was passing from him, and his eyes came back to Ian Macpherson’s face, where, as he dimly felt, dwelt something that could not pass away—something that death itself would have no power to disturb or change. Light kindled faintly on his rugged, wasted features when Macpherson came and took the toil-worn hand—so powerless now—in his, for in the young minister’s life this poor shepherd had seen and understood what no words could have brought home to him—the reality and power of love. He knew that Macpherson counted not his life his own, nor any of the things that he possessed.150 Year by year he had felt the subtle influence deepening, and had seen the spirit burning clearer in the eyes, so that to meet him—to the ignorant, simple shepherd—was like meeting an angel. In Macpherson he saw and knew a man in the very prime of manhood, clever, as those said who knew best, and with the world before him; who yet could let the world go by; who sought no preferment, whose whole life and soul and energy were devoted to his people without a thought for himself, and who had ever a kind word and a happy smile for one and all.

These poor people could perhaps not have explained what their young minister was to them; what he really was beyond what they saw they could never know; and yet they did feel that he had sacrificed himself for their sake in staying there, that this sacrifice was no grudging martyrdom, but a glad free-will offering to the Lord he loved and to them. It shed more light upon their hearts than a thousand sermons; it had power to draw aside for them now and again the gross veil of material aims, and to give them as in a mirror a glimpse of eternal love.

This dying man could believe in the great love of the Lord who died for him when he had seen its living power in his minister’s life; and, though the comparison is but as of a spark to the sun itself, the selfless brotherhood of one whom he knew very far above him in ways which he could not understand brought home to him the brotherhood of Christ. With his hand in Macpherson’s, listening with fast-closing ears to his earnest words, following his childlike, simple prayers, it seemed as if earth and its soul-chains of sin and sorrow faded and fell away; as if the gates of heaven opened wide and wider, and the light shone out more and more perfect, till at last the call came down, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord;” and then the spirit went up out of the darkness and ignorance and poverty of the hard shepherd life, and Macpherson was kneeling alone on the mud floor in the dim hovel beside the dead.

An hour later the solitary bell of the kirk on the wooded knoll overlooking Loch Riach was ringing thin and clear across lake and meadow for morning151 prayer, and Macpherson hurried up the steep footpath that wound upwards to the kirk between Scotch firs from the flat grass land about the water.

A group of strangers stood at the kirkyard gate, a young fellow of two or three-and-twenty, a lady who looked about the same age, tall and very fair, and a lad in an Eton jacket with a top hat and broad white collar. No doubt they belonged to the English family who had been expected at the villa near the railway station and the store—the only villa within half a dozen miles.

Macpherson, with the courtesy that is natural to even the shyest Highlander, lifted his hat to them as a matter of course, and would have passed on, but the young man stepped forward and asked if they might go into the church, and whether it mattered where they sat.

“Oh! There’s only too much room,” he said, when he understood what they wanted, which was not all at once, for the Gaelic was his native tongue and his ears were utterly unfamiliar with English as spoken by English people. He led the way through long rank grass and nettles, across sunken graves and flat tombstones where the inscriptions were worn away, more, surely, by wild winter storms than by church-going feet, for there was no trace of any path from the gate to the door.

“Rummiest hole ’t ever I saw, Lily,” poor Macpherson heard the boy say in an undertone, as he ushered the strangers into as curious a place of worship as perhaps this nineteenth century can show.

The floor was all uneven and rudely paved with round cobble stones, glistening and dark with perpetual damp; a gallery, sagging rather alarmingly towards the middle, ran across either end; on the front panel of the eastern one was branded in irregular characters,

I. M. Fecit. Aug. 17, 1771,”

and these were certainly the very newest part of the interior. Along under the north wall was a row of little wooden pews, some with broken doors, others with no doors at all; their flooring consisted merely of earth, with a few rough planks thrown down here and there to help to keep the feet of the congregation more or less dry. The once whitewashed walls were stained and152 blotted with great seas of green and red mould, and the atmosphere was as that of a subterranean dungeon—chill, damp, and smelling of ancient decay. Macpherson opened a pew for them, and they took their places while he walked, just as he was, up the crazy pulpit stair, hung his hat on a nail above him, and knelt down. There were two women in one of the rickety galleries, and not more than half a dozen people in the pews below: a farmer’s daughter in very gay attire, two or three laboring men in ill-fitting suits of Sunday black; a keeper in his master’s former shooting-coat and knickerbockers, and a couple of shepherds in kilt and plaid.

The bell ceased, and the bell-ringer, sexton, precentor, beadle—whatever he was—having made the rope fast where it hung on the gable outside, came in and took his place at the desk under the pulpit, and the Psalm was given out—

“I to the hills will lift mine eyes,
From whence doth come mine aid,
My safety cometh from the Lord,
Who heav’n and earth hath made.”

But the only person who attempted to sing was the factotum at the clerk’s desk, and he rendered the entire Psalm alone from beginning to end, in slow, loud, wavering, twangy tones that took small account of a semi-tone higher or lower, and left the tune, when he had finished, still a matter of conjecture to the uninitiated.

As the service proceeded a few more people came in, dropped into pews here and there, and stared at the unwonted sight of a lovely English face and fresh London millinery. But when Macpherson rose, and gave out his text, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” reading it twice or thrice in his curious foreign accent, every eye was fixed upon his face, and each man placed his arms on the table or shelf in front of him and bent forward to listen.

It was a thin, plain face, with a low, broad brow, high cheekbones and irregular features, that showed against the dull light-blue of the old pulpit; but the dark eyes lit up with intense eagerness as he leaned forward to preach in his fashion the old, oft-repeated lesson, and every line of the slight, wiry figure153 was instinct with energy and life. His sermon was short, and his language strong and simple—so simple that to at least one listener it had the force almost of a new revelation. The hearers could not know what that simplicity cost him, though some of them might have remembered a time when they could not understand him; there was nothing to tell how each plain, homely phrase came out victorious over eloquent words and symbolic imagery and high intellectual reasonings that were always thronging there within him; nothing to reveal how hard he was trying to live in them and out of himself, that he might realise their need, and feel how the message he so burned to deliver might best wake echoes in those poor dull hearts that were so slow to respond.

Very earnestly he set forth the nothingness of all the things that “grossly close us in” and bar the way that leads to life. Passionately he pleaded for the great single purpose that opens and makes plain that way and guides unerringly the feet that find it.

The fair English lady, looking up at that young earnest face, and then beyond it, where through the window she could see red fir boughs stirring against the summer sky, wondered at the courage that could face this mere handful of listeners and feel as enthusiastic and speak with as much energy as though thousands hung upon his words. To other than Gaelic ears that voice, too, had a special charm with its undertone of pathos, its plaintive echo of “old, unhappy, far-off things,” the melancholy of a dying language and a race that is being fast merged and lost in the self-asserting, irreverent Saxon, akin to that sorrow on the wind across the moors and among the lonesome hills, even when it comes whispering down the wild warm corries, or blows cool off the sunny summits on a summer day, carrying a sound of tears.

At the evening service the young Englishman was there alone, and on his homeward way Macpherson wondered whether he ought to call at the villa. For the next day or two, however, he knew he would have no time, for there was fever at a little farm on the lower boundary of the parish, and in the poor cottages belonging to it, and as often as154 other work would allow Macpherson was there comforting, nursing, helping, and always bringing with him some welcome trifle that the sufferers could not afford; a few eggs, a lemon or two, a little tea, two or three bottles of seltzer-water—anything his kind heart could suggest and his ready hand procure. Visits like these sometimes occupied his whole afternoon, so that he did not come home till the shadows of the hills darkened all the valley.

The sun had disappeared behind the rugged granite steeps to westward, though the eastern summits could see it still and glowed rose-red against the evening sky when Macpherson reached the Manse after Monday’s work. The door stood wide and showed a vista of boarded, carpetless passage sprinkled with sand, carpetless stairs opposite the entrance, and a door on either hand; merely looking in, it gave one the impression that whoever kept the house had good intentions, but fell lamentably short in carrying them out. Perhaps, however, it had ceased to strike the master’s eye, for he hung up his hat in the passage with quite a sigh of relief, turned to the door on the left with a smile of content on his face, and went into his study.

There, a good deal to his astonishment, stood the young Englishman of yesterday, holding out a cordial hand and introducing himself with an apology as Robert Echalaz.

“I have been making your acquaintance through the names of your books,” said he, with a smile. “The—the maid”—he hesitated a moment before venturing to apply this title to the grimy child who had admitted him—“the maid told me, as far as I could make out what she said, that you would be home soon, so I took the liberty of waiting here.”

Macpherson assured him that he was very welcome, and fetched in another chair out of the adjacent kitchen to add force to his words.

Then young Echalaz came straight to his point. His brother, he said, was bent on getting some fishing, and they thought that probably Mr. Macpherson, if he could not help them himself, might at any rate be able to direct them to some one who could.


“And I was glad of so plausible an excuse for getting to know you,” added the young fellow, with a frank smile. “I—I am preparing for holy orders, and”—he hesitated—“well, I don’t know—but I should very much like to have some talks with you.”

Macpherson’s face lit up with pleasure at this.

“I am afraid I shall disappoint you if you expect to learn anything from me,” he said, and his quaint accent struck the young Englishman afresh. Nevertheless, the two talked there for an hour before it even occurred to them that time was passing, and Echalaz jumped up and declared he ought to have been at home before now.

“And the fishing?” suggested Macpherson.

The fishing had been quite forgotten, but it was very soon settled, and Macpherson after some debate promised to meet the two brothers on the following Thursday. He accompanied his new acquaintance down the path to the gate, thinking it would be pleasant to be able to offer him hospitality of some sort, but afraid that dry oatcake would hardly be attractive, even with the addition—supposing that boiling water could be produced within reasonable time—of tea that this well-to-do young Englishman might possibly not think good. Poor Macpherson dismissed his hospitable inclinations with regret that made his grasp of the other’s hand all the warmer when they parted.

When Macpherson arrived at the villa at the appointed hour he found Tom waiting at the gate.

“Mother wants you to come in and see her,” said the boy, shaking hands, and Macpherson followed him into the house to the drawing-room, where Mrs. Echalaz—a pretty, faded, delicate-looking woman—lay on the sofa beside the open window. She turned her head languidly towards him, and held out a slim white hand.

“Ah, Mr. Macpherson, it is so good of you to devote yourself to my boy,” she said, conventionally. “I am sure he is very grateful; are you not, Tom?”

Tom murmured something about “awfully jolly,” and suggested that they should start at once.

Mrs. Echalaz, however, first asked156 many questions, as to the distance, the river, and the possibility of danger to her son, who was evidently the spoiled pet of the family.

Macpherson assured her that she need not be alarmed, and promised at all events to do his best to take care of Tom; and then, instead of Robert, when he was expected, Lily came in equipped for a walk, and Mrs. Echalaz said, “Ah, yes, my daughter, Mr. Macpherson. I’m sorry to say Robert is not well. He reads too hard, I am sure; he is not fit to go, and so I am sending Lily instead. I can’t let Tom”—she changed the expression of the thought in her heart—“Tom would be quite too much for you alone,” she said. “I always send one of them with him—not,” she added, betraying herself still more to Macpherson’s quick perceptions, “not that I doubt your care; I am sure you will not let any harm befall him.”

But her last words, far from being expressive of any such assurance, sounded like a reiterated appeal to him to guard her darling.

Macpherson said he would be very careful, and at length the three were allowed to depart.

Tom lost no time in handing over all his encumbrances to his sister, and before they had walked through the wood at the back of the villa he was away after butterflies, leaving Lily and Macpherson to carry the rods and tackle, the fishing-basket, and the lunch. It was a great relief to the young minister to find that the English girl was neither shy nor self-conscious, but ready to talk with the same pleasant frankness and cordiality that had so struck him in the elder brother.

She watched Tom’s retreating figure with an indulgent smile for a minute, and then turned to her companion. “May I ask you a great many questions, Mr. Macpherson?” she said, with natural directness.

“Surely,” answered he, readily; “and I hope I may be able to answer some of them.”

“I want to tell Robert,” she explained, with a smile.157 “After we had been to your little kirk on Sunday we both wanted very much to know you. He is to take holy orders, and he and I think a great deal about the work to which he will be called. Your life, now, must be something utterly different from anything we have ever seen or imagined before.”

“Is it?” he said. “Only because such primitive conditions exist perhaps no longer in England. I suppose a time is drawing nearer that will sweep away what lingers here.”

“Well, but—” Lily hesitated an instant. “May I be quite frank?” she put in, deprecatingly. “How is it that you are in such a place?”

He did not know the drift of this question, and looked puzzled.

“Why should I not be?” he asked, diffidently.

The girl glanced expressively to north and south, down and up the lonely valley.

“One might say, speaking roughly,” she said, “that there are no people here,”

Macpherson too looked up the valley, and saw, far off, the hut where that poor shepherd had died, and thoughts of that Sunday morning brought the light into his face.

“That would be ’speaking roughly,’” he said, with a gentleness that made her feel ashamed at first, and then anxious to justify herself.

“But is your congregation always so small?” she asked.

“That was about the average on Sunday,” he answered, and added, with a sigh, as if the fact were one he tried to forget, “It is small. My predecessor, I’m afraid, was unpopular, and latterly very old and feeble, and could not keep them together. A few have come back to me, but only a few.”

“Then why do you stay here?” said Lily, impetuously. “Robert told me about your books, and—and the house—the Manse—so poor and bare. He says you must be far above your work. Indeed, we knew it from your sermon on Sunday.”

He looked distressed.

“Do you think they will not have understood me?” he asked, with eager anxiety. “Was it difficult—obscure—beyond the mark?”

“Oh, no, no!” said Lily, astonished at his way of looking at it; “a child must have understood every word. I158 can’t quite explain how it struck me and Robert too; it was so short and so complete, and the words so simple that one wondered at their intense force; and yet—yet—”

He looked anxiously at her. “Don’t be afraid to find fault, Miss Echalaz,” he said, earnestly; “I shall be so thankful to you—”

“Fault!” she interrupted; “oh, you don’t understand me! I never heard anything that went so straight from heart to heart as those words of yours. When we came out I turned to Robert, and he turned to me, and we both said, ‘Well?’ and then Robert asked me what was the secret of such power, but I couldn’t tell. And he thought a long time as we went home, about what you had said, and what he would have said in your place, which none of them would have listened to or understood.”

Lily smiled rather sadly and broke off, for she remembered how Robert had said to her at last that Macpherson “walked with God,” and that that was the secret of his power. She could not well repeat her brother’s words, but she knew that they were true, and wanted to acknowledge to Macpherson the debt that both felt they owed to him.

“Ah! Mr. Macpherson,” she said, earnestly, “you made us both ashamed. We were eager to begin teaching, and we suddenly found we had everything still to learn. Robert says he sees now that nothing, absolutely nothing, can be done by a man who has not begun with himself.”

Macpherson looked up with keen sympathy, divining at once a fellow-struggler, for this was beaten ground to him, sorely familiar.

“That is true enough,” he said; “and yet we all begin at the outside, and are always returning to it again.”

Lily sighed.

“Yes,” she said, “and looking downward from ourselves instead of up to our ideal—to God. One seems to be always beginning, only beginning, over and over again.”

“Perhaps,” said Macpherson thoughtfully159—“perhaps we need a whole life of beginning to show us what we are, and to teach us that the good that is done is all of God.”

“But don’t you feel yourself thrown away on such a miserable little congregation?” Lily went on, recurring to her first idea. “Would you not like a large parish?—a city audience?”

His eyes kindled.

“Once,” he said, “I wished for a larger field, and, as you say, an audience; and I thought myself thrown away. I looked on this as a mere stepping-stone to preferment; it was quite too paltry for my enthusiasm; I could not make myself intelligible to my few people, my sermons flew quite over their heads; I was disappointed and miserable. I wanted to bring a sacrifice, you understand, Miss Echalaz, but it was to be of my own choosing—such as Cain’s. And when I felt that God did not require it of me, I was angry and hurt, just, you know, as Cain was. And then one day a poor shepherd said to me, humbly and simply, ‘You are too clever for the like of us.’ That was lightning across thick darkness, Miss Echalaz. I understood, by God’s mercy, what I had known without understanding all along; it was obedience that He required; no sacrifice but the laying down of my will before His. And now,” he said, sadly—“now I wish I could throw myself away, if it were but for one man.”

“But you won’t stay here always?” Lily suggested.

“Ah! I don’t know,” he answered, with a smile. “We are soldiers; we go where we are sent; but I know now that it is good for us—for me at least—to work in a field where no glory can be reaped. If there were a prize within reach one might be in danger of looking away from the Master who calls us to follow only Him.”

Lily walked on in thoughtful silence.

Meanwhile Tom had strayed far from the track, plunging knee-deep through heather and green cranberry scrub after butterflies, and alarming the oyster-catchers, which flew whistling and circling overhead, “tiring the echoes with unvaried cries,” and grouse, which went whirring and clamoring away up among the big grey boulders on the mountainside. The two sat down to wait for him.

“Every sight and sound here has a personality for me,” Macpherson said, looking across the valley, where along the brow of a scarped hollow lay white160 wreaths of snow, and a little cloud above it hung about the mountain-top, clinging as if it would fain wander no more across the pathless heaven.

“That little cloud, see how it clings—heaven-born though it is—to the barren earth. If it lingers there it must dissolve in rain and fall into that cold hollow which never sees the sun.”

Even as he spoke the cloudlet stirred, detached itself, and stole slowly away into the blue air.

“Ay!” he said to himself, with expressive intonation as he watched it; and then, bending his head while he held a piece of heather ungathered in his hand, he listened a minute. “Hark!” he said, raising his eyes with a dreamy smile. “Do you hear it?”

Far through the stillness of the sultry summer air came the murmur of water falling down its stony channel.

“It is the burn yonder—that green streak between the hills—tumbling down among the ferns. I used to fancy it mourned to leave its native fountains, and flowery sheltering banks, and the solitude of these mighty hills; but now it seems to me it feels a great destiny drawing it irresistibly onward, down to the forests below, through moor and meadow, to exchange the mountain echoes and the wild birds’ cry for the shriek and rattle of railways and the din of busy towns; to hurry onward, though it lose its early sweetness and receive many a foul stain as it goes to join the ocean, the mighty heart which draws it to itself, reaching which at last all its impurity shall be purged away.”

He was looking into the far horizon, where rank on rank of faint and fainter hills mingled with the clouds and blue sky, and seemed lost in thoughts beyond the words he had been speaking.

Lily’s glance rested on his spiritual face, and presently she sighed.

“My lot, I’m afraid,” she said, “is cast in that same city turmoil—we live in London, you know. It will be hard to go back to that artificial, crowded, stifling atmosphere after this.” Glancing up and round them at the wide moorland and the hills, “Here the soul lies open to all the winds of heaven; there—ah! one can soon forget there is a heaven at all.”


“Hullo!” cried Tom’s voice, some little way behind them; and presently he came up flushed and very much out of breath, and flung himself down in the heather at their feet. “I should like to climb up and touch that snow,” he remarked, after only one minute’s prostrate inaction, resting on his elbows with his chin in his hands and his feet waving slowly about. “I shouldn’t fancy your living in winter, sir,” he went on, looking up at Macpherson, “but perhaps you just shut yourself up with your books, like a dormouse, till the snow clears off?”

“I can’t do that,” said Macpherson, simply. “I have been up this valley sometimes in snow so deep that the three miles took over three hours to walk, and once before I could come back there was such a blinding storm that I had to spend the night in that little black hut—you can just see it, to the right, far up the valley. It is not always safe to go alone, but I generally do because I know almost every stone and tree.”

Tom cross-questioned a little about these winter expeditions, and then voted for refreshments; but Lily laughed at him, and proposed that they should do a little more of the day’s work first, and then the three rose and set forward, Tom engrossing the minister’s attention with a host of such far-fetched and extraordinary questions as only a schoolboy can possibly propound and care to have answered.

When at last they reached the river, after looking about and choosing a place for lunch, Tom condescended to relieve his sister of his own paraphernalia, told her she might “turn out the grub” because he required the basket, and coolly recommended her to mount guard over everything till they came back.

“Are you not going to fish, Miss Echalaz?” asked Macpherson, becoming aware that it was proposed to leave her alone, and not altogether happy at the idea.

“Oh! she’s only chaperon,” cried Tom, impatient to be off, and Lily held up a cloud of white knitting which she said would keep her quiet as long as they liked to be away. Tom uttered an urgent “Oh, sir—please—she really is all right,” Macpherson turned away,162 and then the two went obliquely down the bank with their rods, and were soon lost to sight.

All was silence but the babbling of the water among the rocks, and the faint summer air playing in the tassels of the birches, and all above the glowing brown and purple moor the heat twinkled and trembled aromatic of thyme and bog myrtle and juniper.

Lily clambered down the bank and found a shady nook fringed about with stunted birch and ferns, and there she resigned herself to knitting and to thronging thoughts suggested by what the young minister had said.

Macpherson, meanwhile, and Tom had established themselves to their entire satisfaction on two large boulders in mid stream, and abandoned themselves to the “sport” of waiting for the fishes.

Tom, conscious at first of Macpherson’s experienced eye, contrived to be very patient for half an hour; but then he could no longer help thinking that the fishes were obstinate, or the spot unfavorable, or the sun too hot and bright, or the air too still, or the fly—probably the fly was not the right kind; at any rate, a change of position must no longer be deferred. By judicious tacking from boulder to boulder, and then across a low shingle island where stunted alder scrub made a shelter for the oyster-catchers, and tufts of saxifrage and stonecrop grew, he arrived at a more likely place, and tried again. Still it was evident that the fishes did not see the matter from his point of view. He very soon wearied of his new position and cast about for a better. He saw a big round boulder out in the very middle of the broadest part of the stream, and was seized with all a boy’s longing to be on it, sport or no sport. To long for a thing, with Tom Echalaz, was as a rule to attain it rather sooner than later, and he at once began making his way out with plenty of pluck and very little caution, and finally landed with his rod, much wetter than he cared to notice, and tried again. He turned presently, when even this new delight was beginning to pall, to see what Macpherson was doing. Then he fancied he heard thunder, and stood motionless to listen. His eyes were fixed on the brown laughing water, flowing so softly163 over the stones below, that caught the sun and shadow through it and looked like broken gold amongst the soft brown of the bottom; the pebbly clatter of the shallow waterfall beyond was in his ears. This was the moment, the sight, the sound that remained indelibly fixed in his memory afterwards—the sultry stillness, and the slumbrous babble and murmur that only made it seem more still. Surely there was a curious sound far off up the valley.

“It is thunder,” he said softly to himself, and looked up at the cloudless sky. “How—really—it does sound awfully queer.”

He glanced up stream to see what had become of his companion, and called out, “I say, isn’t that thunder?”

Macpherson, who also was in the middle of the stream, to Tom’s astonishment was in the act of throwing off his coat, and shouted almost before Tom had spoken,

“To the bank—the bank, for your life! At once!” and even careless, unobservant Tom saw his face look white as death against the dark background of rock and river.

Young Echalaz, although alarmed, was by no means the man to move without sufficient cause shown, and rather naturally looked about him for his danger before doing what he was told, even when Macpherson shouted again.

Yet the first far-off sound, the shouts and the delay, were all embraced in a few seconds. Then suddenly the boy realised that it was not thunder—this fearful, awesome wail and roar that was drawing nearer. He turned in terror, towards the bank, and heard Macpherson call out, “Can you swim?”

“No,” Tom shouted, but his voice was lost in the wild tumult of rushing water, the river rose to his waist, the spate was upon them. Bewildered, but not losing all his natural courage, the boy made an effort to plant the thick end of his rod down into the bottom to steady himself, but the next instant the water was about his shoulders, he lost his footing and was swept away upon the flood. Exactly what happened then, or how long it was that he felt himself rolling over, whirling helplessly along with the mighty current, choking and struggling, deafened by the thunder of164 the water, fighting desperately for his life, Tom never could make out, but he remembered feeling at last that he was beaten, that his earthly career was “about played out,” as he himself expressed it; then there was a moment’s vivid anguish of death, and keen memories of things done and left undone in the long ago that he must now “let alone for ever,” and then a pause, a stoppage, energy coming back—he was caught and entangled by the fishing-basket that hung about his shoulders, and then a strong arm held him fast and he heard Macpherson’s voice saying bravely, “Hold on—you’re all safe, thank God!” and in another minute he was dragged on to the bank.

“I’m all right!” he gasped, plucking up his spirits as he got his eyes open and pushed his dripping hair off his face, and then he sat up and laughed at the figure his preserver presented kneeling there in his shirt-sleeves, soaked and streaming with water. “What will the mater say?” he exclaimed, delighted with his adventure. “Let’s go and show ourselves to Lily.”

Macpherson sprang to his feet and looked along the bank down stream.

“Where is your sister?” he faltered, dashing the water from his eyes; and then, without waiting for an answer, he was away like an arrow from the bow, running beside the river as hard as man can run. Tom set off running too, and presently saw Macpherson, now far ahead, plunge into the flood.

A dead tree, bleached by last winter’s storms, went sweeping past him, checked now and again by projecting rocks or overhanging boughs, and then driven on once more by the overwhelming force of the water. For an instant the boy threw himself upon the ground sobbing loud in agonising dread, and then again he struggled to his feet, choked down his sobs, and ran on at his utmost speed.

Not very far down the river turned at a sharp angle towards the nearer bank, and a few old alders leaned out between the rocks. As Tom drew near enough to distinguish one object from another amongst the foam and swirling water, he gave a glad shout, “Hold on! hold on!” and in another two minutes, holding by the alders, he was clambering165 down towards the edge of the water, where Macpherson had caught a bough with one hand and with the other supported Lily, who was clinging to his shoulder.

“Give her your hand,” said Macpherson, rather faintly. “I can do nothing.”

“Can you give me your hand, Lily?” panted the boy, leaning down. “Can you climb a bit?”

“Oh! save us, Tom! I can’t let go,” Lily gasped, helpless with terror.

“There’s no footing,” said Macpherson, desperately.

Tom laid himself carefully along the trunk, and reaching down, succeeded in taking firmly hold of Lily’s hand. Macpherson at the same moment exerted his flagging strength to lift her a little towards the friendly boughs.

“Be brave,” he said, detaching her clinging hands.

Tom pulled valiantly, and in another minute she was safe; only half out of the water it is true, and trembling with cold and fright, but still able to hold on, and with Tom’s help climb up on to dry land.

“Thank God!” Macpherson uttered, and added, “Is she hurt?” but before either could answer they heard a crashing noise and a cry, and steadying themselves to look downwards, saw the dead tree, which had been caught somewhere higher up and detained a little while, go swinging round the curve with its roots tossing in the air, and Macpherson—? Macpherson was gone, and the lower boughs, where he and Lily had been clinging, were all broken and torn away.

Two hours later Mrs. Echalaz was brought to the verge of hysterics at the sight of her daughter, wet from head to foot, her face scratched and bruised, her long wet hair hanging tangled about her shoulders, without hat or gloves, and alone, hurrying towards the house.

Before Lily could explain what had happened Tom too appeared, wet and pale, and choking with sobs, followed at a little distance by two red-bearded, red-haired keepers, wet through also, moving slowly, and carrying between them Macpherson, without coat or hat, his head fallen back, his face white and still,166 his arms hanging limply down, water trickling from his clothes and hair.

“I knew it! I said so!” screamed Mrs. Echalaz, clasping Tom in her arms. “Never, never will I trust you out of my sight again!”

Tom broke away, crying bitterly.

“Oh, mother, don’t! He’s dead!”

“Dead!” shrieked poor Mrs. Echalaz; “and they’re bringing him into this house?”

She was rushing out into the passage, but Robert, who had already helped to bring Macpherson in, met her, and led her quietly back.

“You put these two to bed,” said he, “and I will take care of him, mother. The men say he may come round,” and he hurried away to do all that the keeper’s experience suggested and send at once for a doctor.

The keeper, whose name, in common with most of the population of that district, was also Macpherson, told Robert how this very thing had happened only two years before to the young laird and his own son, who were both very nearly drowned, and explained that an unusual amount of rain must have fallen up in the hills, some sudden and violent downpour, to occasion the spate.

It was long before they dared cease to doubt of Macpherson’s recovery, and when at last he really began to mend, the process was slow and tedious.

As soon as her terrors for Tom were appeased by finding that he was not a whit the worse for his wetting, Mrs. Echalaz took so kindly to the young fellow, who certainly owed his whole misfortune to them, that she waited on him and nursed him as patiently and tenderly as his own mother could have done.

“I could not have believed it was so pleasant to be ill,” he said to her, with a grateful smile, one day when, helped by Robert and Tom, he had come into the sitting-room for the first time; “I shall be spoiled for going back to work.”

They all protested that he need not think of work yet, as he could not so much as walk alone; and many a pleasant day went by in that little sitting-room, where half-drawn blinds made a cool dimness, and an unfamiliar perfume dwelt in the air—attar of roses, perhaps; something quite different, at any rate, from the odor of plain—very plain167— cookery and peat smoke to which he was accustomed at the Manse.

The room was like fairyland, with its hundred costly trifles, china ornaments, scraps of Oriental work, curious fans and other nicknacks, photographs and books littered about in prettily-regulated disorder.

Lying there, weak and weary, his eyes dwelt upon it all with vague, unspeculating wonder and faint content. Mrs. Echalaz and Lily too were always so lovely to look at, “a gude sicht for sair een,” their faces so refined, voices so low and gentle, hands so delicately fair; their dress, too, was wonderful and beautiful, like a part of themselves. He felt himself under a deepening spell in their midst; he had never seen things like the things he saw here, nor women like these women.

As for Lily, he was ashamed at all she did for him, but too helpless to protest.

Once, when she saw that he hardly knew how to suffer so much kindness at her hands, she said, rather sadly,

“Except for me, you need not be lying here at all,” and after that he could only hold his tongue, and try to take everything graciously, owning to himself that the least he could do was this; and not owning what he perhaps scarcely knew, that all this kindness would lose its charm if she were no longer the minister. But the more the charm grew upon him the more shy and silent he became with her; and, perversely, the more he longed to see her, or at least to know that she was near, the less dared he raise his eyes or speak a word. And then he felt beyond all hiding that, to part and see her no more would be the bitterest pain he could ever know—such pain as a man must carry to his grave. He knew that he was sorry to be getting strong, and so drawing near the hour he dreaded; and then, because he felt such utter reluctance to return to his old life—the life he would feel to be so desperately lonely henceforth—he resolved to go at once.

That very day he spoke to Mrs. Echalaz alone, when the evening twilight made it easier to say what he knew she would oppose with the pretty tyranny which they all exercised upon him, and which his natural shyness made it very hard for him to resist.


“As if I should listen to such nonsense,” said Mrs. Echalaz, just as he had felt that she would. “You are not going for at least a week.”

His thin, brown hand twitched nervously on the arm of his chair.

“You are very kind,” he said, huskily—“much too kind; but I must go. Please do not urge me to stay—you don’t know how hard you make it to me.”

Mrs. Echalaz laid her pretty jewelled fingers on his restless hand.

“Now tell me why you must go,” she said, kindly; “and if it is a good reason I will allow it.”

He hesitated long enough for her to divine that his answer, when it came, was an evasion.

“I know it is my duty,” he said, looking down. “I shall do wrong to stay here—doing nothing.” The last two words he added rather hastily, after an instant’s embarrassment.

“So you will not tell me?” said Mrs. Echalaz, reproachfully.

He raised his eyes, doubting, to her face, with a strong impulse to tell her all; then he smiled faintly.

“Do you not think duty the highest possible reason?” he asked, resolving to keep silence.

Mrs. Echalaz looked at him.

“I think I could tell you a nearer one,” she said, with a gentle pressure of her hand on his, that told him she read his very heart; and then she added, with grave kindness, “Then I suppose we must let duty carry the day. We shall miss you dreadfully.”

Macpherson raised her hand with reverent affection to his lips, but he could not say a word.

When the rest came home from their walk he was gone.

Privately Mrs. Echalaz told Robert what had passed, and what she construed it to mean.

“Well, why not?” was his comment.

“Why not!” echoed his mother, raising hands and eyes. “Of course I like him. I never met a man to whom I would sooner have trusted Lily’s happiness, but of course it’s impossible.”

“Why?” asked Robert, simply.

“My dear boy!” exclaimed Mrs. Echalaz,169 “you know he has nothing. And think of the connection! Preposterous!”

“A fig for the connection!” rejoined Robert, coolly; “and as for money, Lily has quite enough, I suppose. Ask her.”

“Oh, you’re perfectly ridiculous!” cried his mother, with a vehemence that convinced him she was already wavering in her own mind, and he said no more.

Meanwhile Macpherson went home, and the first thing that recalled him unmistakably to common earth was the sight of his one servant, a ragged, barefooted, scantily clad, unkempt lassie of eleven or so, who opened the door to him with exceedingly dirty hands, a grin of cheerful welcome on her broad unwashed face. It was like waking from a sunny dream to find oneself lying in the dark; rain beating on the window, the gusty night wind shaking the door; and to feel the thrill of some sharp pain—pain that makes a loneliness for flesh and spirit such as no human heart may share, but is known to God alone.

He nodded to the child, and going past her into his study, shut the door behind him. The sand slipped and grated under his feet, the smell of peat-smoke and cookery was unabated. He sat down at his table, where in that long past other life of his he had spent so many busy happy hours, and hid his face on his folded arms, trying to let the influence and memory of the last weeks go by; trying hard to put it away and brace himself to the old work again.

The girl tapped at the door and said his tea was ready, and he went into the smoky kitchen and sat down before a rather smeary cup and plate, a pile of singed oatcakes, and a small teapot, but the food stuck in his throat. He could not touch it, and by way of getting to work at once he went away to visit a poor family half a mile off. On his way home he found his strength exhausted. He could hardly drag himself along, and even when at last in sight of his own door he leaned against the low kirkyard wall and wondered whether he could reach it, while his tired eyes dwelt listlessly on the lovely evening landscape. The grey birches leaned motionless down over the mossy knolls, and the dark ranks of larch and fir by the loch looked down into their dark glassy shadows in the deep water. The great hills are growing dim through the mist of evening,170 the clouds have crept away, and all the sky shines with a faint rosy glow through the veil of rising vapor; the long grass in the hollows there beside the lake and all the folded flowers in yonder meadows are drinking in the gracious dew. Far through the stillness comes the voice of many waters—of the river leaping down the rocks. Through Macpherson’s fancy comes a vision of it sparkling in the glory of a summer day, of himself too walking there, fenced about with daylight and companionship, plovers calling and crying overhead, flowers glowing under foot, merry gnats dancing in the yellow gleams under the alder boughs, light and shadow flying over the fields and flickering among the pools and waterfalls. But now the ghostly mist creeps on and folds it all out of sight, and he is alone.

Mournfully, and yet with what deep longing, it brings to his heart thoughts of that dim night that shall be when the day is past to come no more; of the many morrows that shall dawn and set with their sun and shadow, the many evenings with their tender mist and dew, when he will have nor part nor lot in the beautiful earth save a narrow grave he knows not where. Oh, life, swifter than a weaver’s shuttle! vanishing as a dream! Shall he not bear its utmost burden to the end?

Strength and patience came to him beside those quiet graves. Feeling forward into the future he could divine a coming hour when he would be fain to ask a harder trial, longer probation, ere he see the face of the Master he has followed with such faltering feet; that he may suffer a little more for the dear sake of Him whom he has loved so unworthily, ere the day for suffering go by for evermore.

The next day, having made up his mind to avoid the villa entirely, he sent Mrs. Echalaz a basket of water-lilies from the loch, with a message to the effect that he hoped his long arrears of work might be his excuse for not coming in person.

He only longed now to hear that they were gone, and went in daily fear of meeting some of them. He thought and hoped that his fever of unrest might pass into dull pain when she was gone, a pain he might be able to bear more quietly,171 and in time, perhaps, ignore. Hard work was the only anodyne; but he was not very fit yet for all he tried to do, and the sore trouble of his heart weighed down his spirit and sapped his energy in spite of his best efforts, so that even to himself he grew changed and strange.

He was coming home one evening through the birch wood above the loch, about a week after he had left the villa, with weary, lagging steps, and his eyes upon the ground, when the consciousness of another presence, though he heard no sound, made him look up to find himself face to face with Lily standing alone on the narrow path just in front of him. She had been sitting there under the trees and had just risen to her feet; her hands were full of white scented orchis, her hat lay on the ground, and the evening sunlight fell on her fair hair and showed him that her face was paler than when he saw it last—paler and almost, he thought, a little sad. He forgot how his behavior might appear to her; his one idea was to escape, that she might never guess the fatal shipwreck he had made.

His eyes fell directly, and with a few inarticulate words he lifted his hat and stood aside to let her pass. But Lily did not move. Perhaps if he had not looked so very ill, and something more than ill, she might have lacked courage to disregard his gesture; as it was, pity held her there.

“Mr. Macpherson,” she said, in a low, grieved voice, “am I to pass by without a word?”

He could not speak. It was like the last glimpse of light to the prisoner condemned to life-long darkness to have her standing there. How was he to bid her go?

“What have we done?” Lily asked. “What has happened?”

Macpherson looked up, pale and agitated. “I am not ungrateful,” he said, barely able to control his voice. “Oh, don’t think that, Miss Echalaz.”

“I can’t think that,” said Lily, simply; “but something is wrong if, after all that has happened, you try to treat me as an utter stranger.”

He felt she was hurt, and looked up melted, penitent, ready to give himself any pain, undergo any humiliation, to heal the wound he had made.


“Miss Echalaz,” he said, “I wanted to spare you—and myself too—I—I am blind and bewildered—I have been very selfish—perhaps it is wrong now to tell you—I don’t know—I can’t tell—” he stopped, and there was a moment’s absolute silence covering wild confusion and conflict in his heart, and then he looked up and the words came, he knew not how, steady and clear, “I love you, Miss Echalaz.” They were scarcely spoken before he was condemning himself again. “Oh! Laugh at me—” He laughed too as he spoke, not knowing what he did till he saw her face change and the tears start from her eyes.

“Does it seem to you a thing for laughter?” she asked, passionately. “Have you judged me a woman to laugh at the love of the noblest man I know? To hold it so very cheap that you need not even tell me—”

“How could I tell you?” he broke out. “What could I offer in exchange for all I would ask you to lay down? Could I ask you to come and live in this wilderness in the barest poverty, where half the year is winter, where there is no—no society, nothing but work and hardship and loneliness?”

“If those were all you had to offer, you were right,” Lily answered, tremulously. “You yourself do not live that life for nothing. There is something that so far outweighs all those things that you count them as naught.”

“Oh, I love my people!” said Mac173pherson at once, and even as he uttered the word it told him what she meant. “My love was such a poor thing to offer,” he faltered humbly, “and I have nothing else.”

The tears brimmed over in Lily’s eyes. “And would you take anything else in exchange?” she said—“would money do instead, or rank, or any other thing?”

“Oh, no, no, no!” he exclaimed, impetuously; “only love, and only yours! Can love—such love as mine—outweigh all the rest?” His voice failed, and as he raised his earnest, searching eyes to her face, the last words came in a hoarse whisper, “Oh, is it enough for me to dare offer you that alone?”

Lily crossed the narrow pathway that divided them, letting all her flowers fall at their feet, and laid her hands in his.

“Would you really have let me go away without telling me?” she asked, bravely, while the rosy color deepened in her cheeks. “Less than love, for you and me, is nothing; and more than love there cannot be;” and then she was fain to hide her face and fast-falling tears upon his breast. “Oh, if only I were less unworthy!”

Macpherson trembled as he drew her to him. “God bless you, darling!” he murmured, brokenly; and again and again, thinking over the past, she heard him whisper, “Thank God! thank God!”—Leisure Hour.



This may be to some of our readers a startling question; for most of us have had that star pointed out to us many years; and perhaps those who directed our eyes to it little thought that there would ever be any other pole-star. It is well known that if the northern extremity of the axis of our earth were lengthened until it met the imaginary sphere of the heavens, it would come very near to our present pole-star, hence called Polaris; and if, for any cause, the direction of that axis were materially altered, that star would no longer be a true index of the north. We now propose to show that such a change of the direction of the earth’s axis is continually taking place; and that the terrestrial axis when thus lengthened describes a cone, the apex of which is the centre of the earth; and the circumference of the base of the cone is a circle described amongst the stars. When the axis has described one-half of its course, the angle between the two positions it occupies at the beginning and at the middle of the rotation is about forty-seven degrees. And thus the extremity of the axis will successively come near to other stars than our present pole-star; and in about twelve thousand years it will have as the Polaris the very conspicu175ous star Vega, or α in the constellation Lyra.

We now proceed to explain the reason of this movement of the earth’s axis. It is well known that the earth is not a perfect sphere, but is flattened at the poles, being what astronomers call an oblate spheroid. Now, the sun’s attraction upon such a spheroidal body is not quite the same as it would be upon a perfect sphere. When the sun is at either equinox—that is, just over the equator—the attraction exercised upon our earth is the same as if that body were spherical; but when the sun is at or near the upper tropic, its action upon the terrestrial matter which bulges at the equator has a tendency to pull that matter towards the ecliptic, and to make the axis of the earth approach to a vertical to the ecliptic. The same influence is at work when the sun is near the lower tropic. And if this influence were not counteracted, the effect would be to cause the ecliptic and equator ultimately to coincide; and our annual succession of seasons would be done away with. But as no such catastrophe is threatening us, and the inclination of the ecliptic to the equator remains about twenty-three and a half degrees, there must be some force which neutralises the above tendency: this is the rotation of the earth on its own axis. No one but a good mathematician could a priori tell the exact effect of these two forces combined. But any one may see how rotation may effect the motion of a body acted on by another force, by observing how a pegtop is kept upright by the rotation, whilst it falls as the rotation ceases. The influence of this rotation to keep a body from falling may be noticed by any one who carefully observes a spinning coin when about to fall. While the coin spins rapidly, its uppermost part appears as a point. As it falls, the point becomes a small circle, increasing as the rotation slackens. But if the coin be very closely watched, when beginning to fall, it will be seen that the small circle is for a moment diminished, showing that the coin had partially recovered its upright position. This recovery is entirely due to the rotation. Similarly, a bicycle is kept from falling by its horizontal motion; and a conical bullet, which has gained a great176 rapidity of rotation from a rifled barrel, keeps the direction of its axis without deflection to the right or left. And thus we find that the present position of the earth’s axis with respect to the ecliptic is not altered; but the two forces acting upon the earth cause the axis to rotate, as above described, so that the north pole describes a circle in the heavens. But as the period of this rotation is very great, it was not easy to detect such a result, except after a long period of observation. It was discovered thus. The point where the ecliptic and equator cut is called the first point of the constellation Aries, one of the well-known twelve signs of the zodiac. From this point all celestial measurements are made eastwards. Each star of importance has had its distance east of that point—called its right ascension—recorded. In the course of time, the tables of these numbers so recorded appeared to be erroneous; but the error was so regular, and all in one direction, that it was conjectured that the point from which these right ascensions were reckoned had itself shifted its place. And so it proved; and if any one looks at a celestial globe, he will see that Aries no longer occupies the position where the equinox is, but is somewhat to the east, or right, because the point of intersection of the ecliptic and equator has slipped back. But as the sun appears to take a shorter time to come back to the equinox than to arrive at the same stars, which were once close to that point of intersection, this slow retrograde motion is termed the precession of the equinoxes. The distance on the equator caused by this retrograde motion would, if not otherwise modified, be 50″·41 annually. But the attraction of the planets on each other produces a very small motion of the equinox in the other direction; and so the resulting precession is about 50″·1 annually. If we divide the three hundred and sixty degrees in every circle by the above small quantity, we shall find that the period of the revolution of the earth’s axis is twenty-five thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight years.

Of course the moon has an influence on the extra mass at the earth’s equator, as the sun has, similar in kind, but far less in quantity. This influence would cause the earth’s axis to describe very177 small cones of the same nature as the large cone above described; and the period of every rotation would be about nineteen years. The effect of this second or lunar influence is to cause the earth’s axis to dip a little towards the equator, and then to resume its position; and this nodding motion is termed nutation, from the Latin word nuto, to178 nod. Thus the axis of the earth describes a cone not of uniform surface, but as it were fluted, and completes its majestic round in nearly twenty-six thousand years, pointing to a various succession of stars which will in their turns be honored by future astronomers as the pole-stars of their respective generations.—Chambers’s Journal.



A pictured face, in frame of gold,
Large, tender eyes, and forehead bold,
And firm, unflinching mouth;
A face that tells of mingled birth—
The calmness of the northern earth,
The passion of the south!
The one face in the world to me,
The face I never more shall see
Until God’s kingdom come!
Oh, tender eyes! oh, firm strong lips!
What comfort in my life’s eclipse?
What succor? Ye are dumb!
I brought the blossoms of the Spring
To deck my true love’s offering
While he was far away:
With rose’s bloom, with pansy’s grace
I wreathed the well-beloved face;
I have no flowers to-day.
But laurel, laurel for my brave
My hero lying in his grave
Upon that foreign sod!
He passed amid the crash of guns,
Beyond the farthest sun of suns,
A kingly soul, to God!
He died upon the battlefield,
He knew not, he, to fly nor yield,
Bold Britain’s worthy son!
And I will wreathe his laurel crown,
Although the bitter tears run down—
I was his chosen one.
He loved his country, so did I;
He parted forth to do or die,
And I—I let him go;
Oh dear, dear land! we gave thee all,
God bless the banner, and the pall,
God help the mourner’s woe!
I hear the bells ring loud and sweet,
I hear the shouting in the street,
For joy of victory;
The very children cease their play,
To babble of the victor’s bay,
And pennons flutter free.
I hear the vivas long and loud,
As they ride onward through the crowd,
His comrades bold and brave;
The shouts of triumph rend the air,
Oh, he must hear them lying there,
My hero in his grave!
I do not grudge thee, darling mine!
I, the last daughter of a line
Whose warrior blood ran free
Upon the battlefields of old;
Thou wast not mine to have and hold,
The land hath need of thee.
I do not grudge thee; I shall smile,
Beloved, in a little while,
And glory in thy name;
I hold love’s laurel in my hand,
But take thou from the grateful land
Thy wreath of deathless fame!
All the Year Round.



We seem to need a name for a new branch of the science of Man, the Comparative Study of Ghost Stories. Neither sciology, from σκιά, nor idolology, from εἴδωλον, appears a very convenient term, and as the science is yet in its infancy, perhaps it may go unnamed, for the time, like a colt before it has won its maiden race. But, though nameless, the researches which I wish to introduce are by no means lacking in curious interest. It may be objected that the comparative study of ghost stories is already well known, and practised by two very different sets of inquirers, anthropologists and the Society for Psychical Research; but neither Mr. Tylor and Mr. Herbert Spencer nor “those about” Mr. Gurney and Mr. Myers work, as it seems to me, exactly on the topics and in the manner which I wish to indicate. Mr. Herbert Spencer, as we all know, traces religion to the belief in and worship of the ghosts of ancestors. Mr. Tylor, again, has learnedly examined the probable origin of the belief in ghosts, deriving that belief from the phenomena of dreams, of fainting, of shadows, of visions induced by hunger or by narcotics, and of death. To state Mr. Tylor’s theory briefly, and by way of an example, men reasoned themselves into a theory of ghosts after the manner of Achilles in the Iliad (xxiii. 70-110). The unburied Patroclus appeared to his friend in a dream, and passed away, “And Achilles sprang up marvelling, and smote his hands together, and spake a word of woe: ‘Ay me, there remaineth then even in the house of Hades a spirit and phantom of the dead, albeit the life be not anywise therein; for all night long hath the spirit of hapless Patroclus stood over me, wailing and making moan, and charged me everything that I should do, and wondrous like his living self it seemed.’”

Here we find Achilles in the moment of inferring from his dream the actual existence of a spirit surviving the death of the body. No doubt a belief in ghosts might well have been developed by early thinkers, as Mr. Tylor holds,182 out of arguments like these of Achilles. It is certain, too, that many of the social and religious institutions of savages (if writers in the English language are to be allowed the use of that word) have been based on the opinion that the spirits of the dead are still active among the living. All this branch of the subject has been exhaustively treated by Mr. Tylor in his Primitive Culture. But I do not observe that Mr. Tylor has paid very much attention to what we may call the actual ghost stories of savages—that is, the more or less well-authenticated cases in which savages have seen the ordinary ghost of modern society. Here, for the purposes of clearness, I will discriminate certain kinds of ghost stories, all of them current among races as low as the Australians, and lower than the Fijians, all of them current, too, in contemporary European civilisation. First, let us place the well-known savage belief that the spirits of the dead reappear in the form of the lower animals often of that animal which is the totem or ancestral friend and guardian of the kinship. This kind of ghost story one seldom or never hears in drawing-rooms, but it is the prevalent and fashionable kind among the peasantry for example, in Shropshire. In the second class, we may reckon the more or less professional ghosts that appear obedient to the medium’s or conjurer’s command at séances. These spirits, which come “when you do call them,” behave in much the same manner, and perform the same sorts of antics or miracles, in Australian gunyehs, in Maori pahs, and at the exhibition of Mr. Sludge, or of the esoteric Buddhists. Thirdly, we arrange the non-professional ghost, which does not come at the magician’s call, but appears unexpected, and apparently irresponsible. This sort also haunts houses and forests; other members of the species manifest themselves at the moment of death, or become visible for the purpose of warning friends of their own approaching decease. Such phenomena as a sudden flash of supernatural light, or the presence of a white bird, or other ghostly creatures prophesying death, may perhaps be allotted to this class of apparitions.

These things are as well known to contemporary savages as they were to the183 classical people of Lucian’s day, or as they are, doubtless, to the secretaries of the Society for Psychical Research. Once more, we ought to notice the “well-authenticated” modern ghost story, which on examination proves to be really a parallel to the William Tell myth, and to recur in many ages, always attached to different names, and provided with fresh properties. To look into these ghost stories cannot be wholly idle. Apparently there is either some internal groundwork of fact at the bottom of a belief which savages share with Fellows of the Royal Society, or liability to certain recurring hallucinations must be inherited by civilised man from his untutored ancestors, or the mythopœic faculty, to use no harder term, is common to all stages of culture. As to habits of hasty inference and false reasoning, these, of course, were bequeathed to us by our pre-scientific parents, and these, with our own vain hopes and foolish fears, afford the stuff for most ghosts and ghost stories. The whole topic, in the meanwhile, has only been touched at either end, so to speak. The anthropologists have established their own theory of the origin of a belief in ghosts, without asking whether the actual appearance of apparitions may not have helped to start or confirm that belief. The friends of psychical research have collected modern stories of the actual appearance of apparitions without paying much attention, as far as I am aware, to their parallels among the most backward races, or to their mediæval and classical variants.

It is not necessary to occupy much space with the savage and modern ghosts of men that reappear in the guise of the lower animals. Among savages, who believe themselves to be descended from beasts, nothing can be more natural than the hypothesis that the souls revert to bestial shapes. The Zulus say their ancestors were serpents, and in harmless serpents they recognise the dead friend or kinsman returning to the family kraal. The Indian tribes of North-Western America claim descent from various creatures, and under the shape of these creatures their dead reappear. The lack of distinction, in the savage mind, between man and beast makes ghost stories of this species natu184ral among savages. But it is curious, in Miss Burne’s volume on Shropshire Folk-Lore, to find that almost all the Shropshire ghosts, even of known persons recently deceased, display themselves in the form of beasts, while ghosts in human guise are comparatively rare exceptions. Thus (p. 111) the wicked squire of Bagley, after his death, came as a monstrous and savage bull. He was “laid” in church, where he cracked the walls by the vigor of his resistance. “There are believers in this story who affirm that, were the stone to be loosened, the bull would come forth again by many degrees worse than he was at the first.” “It is not an invariable rule that ghosts should take the form of animals.... A road near Hodnet is haunted by the ghost of a farmer who, for no known reason, comes again with a horse’s head,” like the Phigalian Demeter! The ghost (limited) of seven illegitimate children came as a cat! A man drowned in the Birmingham and Liverpool Canal appears (p. 107) as a monkey; and so on. So common, in France, are human ghosts in bestial form, that M. D’Assier has invented a Darwinian way of accounting for the phenomena. M. D’Assier, a Positivist, is a believer in ghosts, but not in the immortality of the soul. He suggests that the human revenants in the guise of sheep, cows, and shadowy creatures may be accounted for by a kind of Atavism, or “throwing back,” on the side of the spirit to the lower animal forms out of which humanity was developed!

The chief or only interest of these bogies in bestial shape lies in the proof they afford of the tenacity of tradition. It is impossible to imagine the amount of evidence capable of proving that what seems a bull is really the ghost of a wicked squire, as people think in Shropshire. But the prevalence of a superstition like this demonstrates that ideas originally conceived by savages, and natural or inevitable in the savage mental condition, may survive in the rustic peoples of the most civilised nations.

The second class of ghost stories, tales of what we may call “professional” spirits that come and go at the sorcerer’s command, need not detain us long. This branch of the subject has been examined by the anthropologists. Mr. Tylor185 has provided many examples of the savage séance, the Shaman or medicine man bound and tied in a darkened room, and then released by the spirits whose voices are heard chattering around him. “Suppose a wild North American Indian looking on at a spirit séance in London. As to the presence of disembodied spirits manifesting themselves by raps, noises, voices, and other physical actions, the savage would be perfectly at home in the proceedings, for such things are part and parcel of his recognised system of nature.” I doubt if any modern medium could quite rival the following feat of an Australian Birraark or sorcerer, as vouched for by one of the Tatungolung tribe. “The fires were allowed to go down,” the Birraark began his invocation. At intervals he uttered the cry, Coo’ee! “At length a distant reply was heard, and shortly afterwards the sound as of persons jumping on the ground in succession. This was supposed to be the spirit Baukan followed by the ghosts. A voice was then heard in the gloom asking in a strange intonation, “What is wanted?” Questions were put by the Birraark, and replies given. At the termination of the séance, the spirit voices said, “We are going.” Finally the Birraark was found in the top of an almost inaccessible tree, apparently asleep. It was alleged that the ghosts had transported him there at their departure.39 If as good a séance could be given in Hyde Park, and if Mr. Sludge could be found at the close in the top of one of the Scotch pines in Kensington Gardens, we might admit that the civilised is on a level with savage spiritualism. Yet even this séance was very much less impressive than what the author of Old New Zealand witnessed in a Maori pah, when the spirit of a dead native friend of his own was present and “manifested” rarely.

The curious coincidences between savage and civilised “spiritualism” have still to be explained. Mr. Tylor says that “the ethnographic view” finds “modern spiritualism to be in great measure a direct revival from the regions of savage philosophy and peasant folk-lore.” But in a really comparative study of the topic, this theory would need to186 be proved by historical facts. Let us grant that Eskimo and Australian spiritualism are a savage imposture. Let us grant that peasants, little advanced from the savage intellectual condition, retained a good deal of savage spiritualism. To complete the proof it would be necessary to adduce many examples of peasant séances, to show that these were nearly identical with savage séances, and then to demonstrate that the introducers of the civilised modern séance had been in touch with the savage or peasant performances. For the better explanation of the facts, the Psychical Society might send missionaries to investigate and test the exhibitions of Australian Birraarks, and Maori Tohungas, and Eskimo Angekoks. Mr. Im Thurm, in Guiana, has made experiments in Peayism, or local magic, but felt no more than a drowsy mesmeric sensation, and a headache, after the treatment. While those things are neglected, psychical research is remiss in attention to her elevating task.

In the third class of ghosts we propose to place those which are independent of the invocations of the sorcerer, which come and go, or stay, at their own will. As to “haunted houses,” savages, who have no houses, are naturally not much troubled by them. It is easy to leave one gungeh or bark shelter for another; and this is generally done after a death among the Australians. Races with more permanent habitations have other ways of exorcising the haunters—by feeding the ghosts, for example, at their graves, so that they are comfortable there, and do not wish to emerge. Two curious instances of haunted forests may be given here. To one I have already referred in a little volume, Custom and Myth, recently published. Mrs. Edwards, in Macmillan’s Magazine, printed a paper called “The Mystery of the Pezazi.” To be brief, the mystery lay in the constant disturbing sounds of nocturnal tree-felling near a bungalow in Ceylon, where examination proved that no trees had been felled. Mrs. Edwards, her husband, and their servants were on several occasions disturbed by these sounds, which were unmistakable and distinct. The Cingalese attribute the noises to a Pezazi or spirit. I find a description of precisely the same disturb187ances in Sahagun’s account of the superstitions of the Aztecs. Brother Sahagun was one of the earliest Spanish missionaries in Mexico, and his account of Aztec notions is most intelligently written. In Mexico, too, “the Midnight Axe” is supposed to be a phenomenon produced by woodland spectres. A critic in the Athenæum suggested that the fact of the noise, attested by English witnesses in Ceylon who knew not Sahagun, was matter for the Psychical Society. Perhaps some physical examination would be more likely to discover the actual origin of the sounds of tree-felling. I was not aware, however, till Mr. Leslie Stephen pointed it out, that the Galapagos Islands, “suthard of the line,” were haunted by the Midnight Axe. De Quincey, who certainly had not heard the Ceylon story, and who probably would have mentioned Sahagun’s had he known it, describes the effect produced by the Midnight Axe on the nerves of his brother, Pink:—

So it was, and attested by generations of sea-vagabonds, that every night, duly as the sun went down and the twilight began to prevail, a sound arose—audible to other islands and to every ship lying quietly at anchor in that neighborhood—of a woodcutter’s axe.... The close of the story was that after, I suppose, ten or twelve minutes of hacking and hewing, a horrid crash was heard, announcing that the tree, if tree it were, that never yet was made visible to daylight search, had yielded to the old woodman’s persecution.... The woodcutter’s axe began to intermit about the earliest approach of dawn, and, as light strengthened, it ceased entirely, after poor Pink’s ghostly panic grew insupportable.40

I offer no explanation of the Midnight Axe, which appears (to superstitious minds) to be produced by the Poltergeist of the forests.

A much more romantic instance, savage and civilised, of a haunted woodland may perhaps be regarded as a superstition transmitted by French settlers to the natives of New Caledonia. The authority for the following anecdote is my friend and kinsman, Mr. J. J. Atkinson, of Viewfield, Noumea, New Caledonia.

Mr. Atkinson has lived for twenty years remote from books, and in the company of savage men. He informs me that a friendly Kaneka came to visit188 him one day, and seemed unusually loth to go. After one affectionate farewell he came back and took another, and then a third, till Mr. Atkinson asked him why he was so demonstrative. The native then replied that this would be their last meeting; that in a day or two he would be dead. As he seemed in perfect health, the Englishman rallied him on his fears. But he very gravely explained that he had met in the woods one whom he took for the girl of his heart. It was not till too late that he recognised the woman for a forest-haunting spirit. To have to do with these is death in three days, and their caresses are mortal. As he said, so it happened, for the unlucky fellow shortly afterwards died. I do not think my informant had ever heard of Le Sieur Nann and the Korrigan, the well-known Breton folk-song of the knight who met the forest fairy, and died in three days. A version of the ballad is printed by De la Villemarque, Barzaz-Breiz (i. 41). Variants exist in Swedish, French, and even in a Lowland Scotch version, sung by children in a kind of dancing game. In this case, what we want to know is whether the Kaneka belief is native, or borrowed from the French. That there really exist fair and deadly women of the woods perhaps the most imaginative student will decline to believe. Among savages men often sicken, and even die, because they consider themselves bewitched, and the luckless Kaneka must have been the victim of a dream or hallucination reacting on the nervous system. But that does not account for the existence of the superstition.

The ghosts which at present excite most interest are ghosts beheld at the moment of their owner’s decease by persons at a distance from the scene of death. Thus Baronius relates how “that eximious Platonist, Marsilius Ficinus,” appeared at the hour of his death on a white horse to Michael Mercatus, and rode away, crying “O Michael, Michael, vera, vera sunt illa,” that is, the doctrine of a future life is true. Lord Brougham was similarly favored. Among savages I have not encountered more than one example, and that rather sketchy, of a warning conveyed to a man by a ghost as to the death of a friend. The tale is in FitzRoy’s Voyage189 of the ‘Adventurer’ and the ‘Beagle’ (ii. 118). Jemmy Button was a young Fuegian whom his uncle had sold to the ‘Beagle’ for a few buttons.

While at sea, on board the “Beagle,” about the middle of the year 1842, he said one morning to Mr. Byno, that in the night some man came to the side of his hammock, and whispered in his ear that his father was dead. Mr. Byno tried to laugh him out of the idea, but ineffectually. He fully believed that such was the case, and maintained his opinion up to the time of finding his relations in Beagle Channel, when, I regret to say, he found that his father had died some months previously.

Another kind of ghost, again, that of a dead relative who comes to warn a man of his own approaching decease, appears to be quite common among savages. In his interesting account of the Kurnai, an Australian tribe, Mr. Howitt writes:—

Mr. C. J. Du Vé, a gentleman of much experience with the Aborigines, tells me that, in the year 1860, a Maneroo black fellow died while with him. The day before he died, having been ill for some time, he said that, in the night, his father, his father’s friend, and a female spirit he could not recognize, had come to him, and said that he would die next day, and that they would wait for him.

To this statement the Rev. Lorimer Fison appends a note which ought to interest psychical inquirers. “I could give many similar instances which have come within my own knowledge among the Fijians, and, strange to say, the dying man, in all these cases, kept his appointment with the ghosts to the very day.” A civilised example recorded by Henry More is printed in the Remains of the late Dr. Symonds. In that narrative a young lady was wakened by a bright light in her bedroom. Her dead mother appeared to her, exactly as the father of the Maneroo black fellow did, and warned her that she was to die on the following midnight. The girl made all her preparations, and, with Fijian punctuality, “kept her appointment with the ghosts to the very day.” The peculiarity of More’s tale seems to be the brilliance of the light which attended the presence of the supernatural. This strange fire is widely diffused in folk-lore. If we look at the Eskimo we find them convinced that the Inue, or powerful spirits,190 “generally have the appearance of a fire or bright light, and to see them is very dangerous ... partly as foreshadowing the death of a relation.”41 In the story repeated by More, not a kinsman of the visionary, but the visionary herself was in danger. In the Odyssey, when Athene was mystically present as Odysseus and Telemachus were moving the weapons out of the hall (xix. 21-50), Telemachus exclaims, “Father, surely a great marvel is this I behold! Meseemeth that the walls of the hall, and the fair spaces between the pillars, and the beams of pine, and the columns that run aloft are bright as it were with flaming fire. Verily some god is within of them that hold the wide heaven.” Odysseus answers, “Lo, this is the wont of the gods that possess Olympus.” Again, in Theocritus, when Hera sends the snakes to attack the infant Heracles, a mysterious flame shines forth, φάος δ’ ἀνἀ οἶκον ἐτύχθη.42 The same phenomenon occurs in the saga of Burnt Njal when Gunnar sings within his tomb. Philosophers may dispute whether any objective fact lies at the bottom of this belief, or whether a savage superstition has survived into Greek epic and idyll, and into modern ghost stories. Into Scotch legend, too, this faith in a mysterious and ominous fire found its way—

Seemed all on fire that chapel proud,
Where Roslin’s chiefs uncoffined lie,
Each baron, for a sable shroud,
Sheathed in his iron panoply.

Scott derives the idea from the tomb fires of the Sagas, but we have shown the wide diffusion of the belief.

By way of ending this brief sketch of the comparative study of ghost stories, an example may be given of the recurrent tale which is told of different people in different ages and countries. Just as the anecdote of William Tell and the Apple occurs in various times, and among widely severed races, so, in a minor degree, does the famous Beresford ghost story present itself in mythical fashion. The Beresford tale is told at great length by Dr. F. G. Lee, in his Glimpses of the Supernatural. As usual, Dr. Lee does not give the names of his informants, nor trace the channels through which the legend reached them. But he calls191 his version of the myth “an authentic record” (p. 51). To be brief, Lord Tyrone and Miss Blank were orphans, educated in the same house “in the principles of Deism.” When they were about fourteen years of age their preceptor died, and their new guardians tried to “persuade them to embrace revealed religion.” The boy and girl, however, stuck to Deism. But they made a compact that he or she who died first should appear to the survivor “to declare what religion was most approved by the Supreme Being.” Miss Blank married Sir Martin Beresford. One day she appeared at breakfast with a pale face, and a black band round her wrist. Long afterwards, on her death-bed, she explained that this band covered shrunken sinews. The ghost of Lord Tyrone, at the hour of his death, had appeared to her, had prophesied (correctly) her future, and had touched her wrist by way of a sign.

He struck my wrist; his hand was as cold as marble; in a moment the sinews shrank up, every nerve withered.... I bound a piece of black ribbon round my wrist. The black ribbon was formerly in the possession of Lady Betty Cobb, who, during her long life, was ever ready to attest the truth of this narration, as are, to the present hour, the whole of the Tyrone and Beresford families.

Nothing would induce me to dispute the accuracy of a report vouched for by Lady Betty Cobb and all the Tyrones and Beresfords. But I must be permitted to point out that Lord Tyrone merely did what many ghosts had done before in that matter of touching Lady Beresford’s wrist. Thus, according to Henry More “one” (bogie) “took a relation of Melanchthon’s by the hand, and so scorched her that she bore the mark of it to her dying day.” Before Melanchthon the anecdote was “improved” by Eudes de Shirton in a sermon (Mémoires de l’Académie des Inscriptions, 1877). According to Eudes, a certain clerk, Serlon, made with a friend the covenant which Miss Blank made with Lord Tyrone. The survivor was to bring news of the next world. Well, the friend died, and punctually appeared to Serlon, “in a parchment cloak, covered with the finest writing in the world.” Being asked how he fared, he said that this cloak, a punishment for his love of Logic, weighed heavier than lead, and scorched like the shirt of Nessus. Then192 he held out his hand, and let fall a drop which burned Serlon to the bone—

And ever more that Master wore
A covering on his wrist.

Before Eudes de Shirton (1081-1153) William of Malmesbury knew this anecdote, which he dates about 1060-1063, and localises in Nantes. His characters are “two clerks,” an Epicurean and a Platonist, who made the usual contract that the first to die should appear to the survivor, and state whether Plato’s ideas or Epicurus his atoms were the correct reply to the conundrum of the universe. The visit was to be paid within thirty days of the death. One of the philosophical pair was killed, a month passed, no news of him came. Then, when the other expected nothing less, and was busy with some ordinary matter, the dead man suddenly stood before him. The spectre explained that he had been unable to keep his appointment earlier; and, stretching out his hand, let fall three burning drops of blood, which branded, not the wrist, but the brow of the psychical inquirer. The anecdote recurs later, and is attached by certain commentators on Dante to one Siger de Brabant. Now this legend may be true about Lady Beresford, or about William of Malmesbury’s two clerks, or about Siger de Brabant, or about Serlon; but the same facts of a compact, the punct193ual appearance of the survivor, and the physical sign which he gave, can scarcely have occurred more than once. I am inclined, therefore, to believe that the narrative vouched for by two noble families is accurate, and that the tales of William of Malmesbury, Henry More, Eudes de Shirton, and Siger de Brabant are myths—

Or such refraction of events
As often rises ere they rise.

Though this sketch of a new comparative science does not perhaps prove or disprove any psychical or mythological theory, it demonstrates that there is a good deal of human nature in man. From the Eskimo, Fuegians, Fijians, and Kurnai, to Homer, Henry More, Theocritus, and Lady Betty Cobb, we mortals are “all in a tale,” and share coincident beliefs or delusions. What the value of the coincidence of testimony may be, how far it attests facts, how far it merely indicates the survival of savage conceptions, Mr. Tylor and Mr. Edmund Gurney may be left to decide. Readers of the Philopseudes of Lucian will remember how the Samosatene settled the inquiries of the psychical researches of his age, and in that dialogue there are abundant materials for the comparative student of ghost stories.—Nineteenth Century.




The present movement in Germany towards colonial expansion promises to set in its right place the part played by her people in the settlement of the earth. This has been hitherto under-estimated, as Germany has established no colonies of her own, and up to the present century her colonial activity has been intermittent. But the colonizing instinct has, since the earliest times, been innate in the German character. For centuries the history of civilization in North Germany is the history of the gradual conquest of the Eastern Provinces from the Wends, and of the patient reclamation of the soil. By their superior persistence and industry the Teutonic settlers pushed back in turn the various Sclavic populations whose irruptions had once thrust them to the west. Under different conditions the struggle continues at the present day, and German thrift and discipline even now gain ground in the Baltic provinces of Russia. This expansion of Germany to the east was followed by the rise of the great Hanseatic commerce. Nor can there be much doubt that, if the towns of the Hansa had retained their commercial pre-eminence, and if the steady increase of195 German population had been left unhindered, German enterprize in due time would have claimed its share in the allotment of the New World. But at the decisive epoch the heaviest calamity she ever experienced, and one that influenced the whole of her succeeding history and retarded her development, fell upon Germany.

The religious troubles of the sixteenth century drew to a head in the great religious war. When the Peace of Westphalia was signed, and the storm which had raged through the length and breadth of the land for nearly thirty years, was at last spent, Germany was left desolate and exhausted. Her fields lay untilled, her forests had been wasted with fire, her commerce dislocated, while something like two-thirds of her population had perished. So appalling did the want of men and labor seem at the time that even the Catholic Church, according to some historians, sanctioned marriage among its priests. From that time to the beginning of this century, Germany practically retires from the field of colonial and commercial activity; for, whatever may be the last motives which impel the emigrant to leave his home, the necessary condition of successful colonization in the modern world is the presence of a redundant population at home. Moreover, the policy of the petty Governments into which the country was broken up, was now uniformly directed to attracting and then restricting labor. This was absolutely necessary in the first place for the actual cultivation of the soil. In 1768 the humanitarian Emperor, Joseph II., issued a warning to the princes of the Holy Roman Empire against allowing the migration of their subjects for this reason. With the rise of political ambitions an additional motive was supplied. In Prussia and elsewhere the serfs contributed exclusively the rank and file of the armies, which were officered by the nobility, while the commercial classes were exempted from military service.

After a long interval German population began to recover itself in the last century. But the process was gradual, and it received a heavy blow from the Seven Years’ War, and again from the protracted Napoleonic struggle. During the eighteenth century the only con196siderable emigration was Catharine the Second’s great importation of German peasants into Southern Russia. And in connection with this appears for the first time that deep-rooted aversion to paying the blood-tax of conscription, which became an article of faith with the Menonite sect, and removed it wholesale from the Dantzig region.


After the Treaty of Paris the enormous reproductive vigor of the German race soon reasserted itself, and the surplus population began to swarm off in ever-larger numbers. The stream of emigration, which had begun to dribble into New York before the close of last century, where the son of a Baden butcher had already established the future fortunes of the Astors, assumed its present volume and importance about 1820. Since that time it has kept roughly proportionate to the growth of population, increasing temporarily when wars and rumors of war have been in the air, and subsiding, as they disappeared, to its normal limits. Taking the last sixty years from 1822, the total number of German immigrants into North America was something over three millions, and the last decade has contributed a million alone. They have increased and multiplied in the land of their adoption, and the United States contain to-day some seven million citizens in all of German origin, who, according to many observers, are destined to become the predominant element in the new community. It has certainly pervaded the whole organization of society. German names are to be found among the leading merchants, the great financiers, and, to a minor extent, among the politicians, and if they occur less frequently than might be expected, it must be remembered that a regular process of converting German into English names, according to their signification, was instituted in the New York of last century.

The German settler, as a rule, makes a less enterprising pioneer than the British. He is averse to giving hostages to fortune, and trusts rather to patient industry along the beaten tracks. But where the English or Scotch American has pushed to the West or founded a197 new mining-camp, the less adventurous Teuton follows, and, with his genius for plodding industry, not unfrequently reaps the fruits of the others’ daring. Accordingly the mass of the German Americans may be found within the more settled Eastern and Central States. A large proportion go to recruit the territorial democracy, and an almost equally large number find employment in the mines, on roads and railways, and in the engineering sheds. The female immigrants do something to supply the general want of domestic servants, and the ubiquitous German Kellner is almost as well known in New York as in Dresden or Vienna. A small residue, again, which has carried into the New World the impracticable ideas and habits which made residence in the Fatherland impossible, sink into the discontented urban populations among which Socialistic ideas are germinating freely.

Vast as their powers of assimilation are, the United States, however, do not absorb all the redundant population of Germany. Though no longer imported and settled in large bodies by improving Empresses as an example of thrift, the peasants still find their way across the Russian frontier. The Czar now counts nearly three quarters of a million subjects of German origin, chiefly of the Bauer class, and they supply the best agricultural labor in his dominions. But, unlike their brethren in the more congenial atmosphere of America, they refuse to throw off their Deutschthum, and remain in unyielding opposition to their unsympathetic environment

Among the steppes of New Russia, or along the flat banks of the shallow Volga, the traveller will come upon more than one cluster of villages with high-pitched roofs, bearing the familiar names of Weimar, Strasburg, Mannheim, &c. which witness to the existence of a secret Heimweh, æternum sub pectore volnus. Considerable agricultural colonies have similarly grown up unnoticed in South America. In Rio Grande do Sul and the adjacent provinces, German settlers have rendered their territory the garden of Brazil; have given the landscape a new character with their Lutheran churches, and are wealthy and numerous enough to support five German newspapers.


Far away, also, under less clement skies, their perseverance has reclaimed a prosperous domain amid the swamps of the Dobrudscha. The Menonite settlement which lately passed under the Roumanian Government numbers 100,000 souls. The beginnings of smaller settlements, again, are noticeable in Syria and Thessaly, intent on bringing under cultivation long-desolate tracts.

In England and in other populous countries the position of the German settler is naturally different. The immigration into England began with the political refugees of 1848, and developed its present character and proportions much later. At this moment the German element in England is probably under-estimated at 250,000. It is concentrated in the large towns. The metropolis alone is credited with 100,000 German adults, and its German population suffices to support four newspapers, while a daily average importation of 12,500 journals keep it in touch with the Fatherland. Manchester and Liverpool can boast another 30,000 between them, engaged in commerce and finance. Indeed, according to a common saying, half the members of the Stock Exchange are now Germans, and this very exaggeration indicates the position they have acquired in the world of Capel Court. The majority, however, are rather to be found in the lower walks of commercial life.

The German clerk has become a conspicuous feature in the city, and tends to bring down still lower the scanty salaries of the class to which he belongs. There are eating-houses in the neighborhood of Mark Lane where the mid-day visitor might fancy himself transported into Hamburg, so general are the guttural interjections around him. Germans throng, again, into several industries, while in the East-end there is a large but by no means prosperous body of tailors, whom Professor Bryce found it prudent, for electoral purposes, to address in their own tongue.

Even into France the intruding German has found his way. He has engrossed several branches of trade into his hands, has come to be the principal maker of the elegant articles du Paris, and from time to time provokes an outburst of indignant chauvinism. Accord199ing to consular reports, exclusive of citizens of German descent, the Republic shelters and maintains 80,000 subjects of the Hohenzollerns. His presence is also felt in Italy, Hungary, and the Austrian Slav States. The same qualities win him a foothold everywhere; he works harder, lives cheaper, and asks less than the native. He threatens, indeed, in these respects, to become to other Europeans what the Chinese have become to the American.

Not content with the necessarily rough estimates of the number of German-descended settlers abroad, the Imperial Government last year set on foot a careful statistical inquiry into the number of expatriated German-born subjects. The returns are as yet incomplete, and do not embrace Russia or Asia. But they are significant as showing the direction this vast emigration takes. Out of nearly two and a half millions of German-born subjects in other lands, America contains 1,900,000, France and Switzerland respectively about 80,000, and England 40,000.

It could hardly be expected that Germany, animated by a proud consciousness of her newly-won national existence, should look upon this expatriation of her children with equanimity. There are many things in the position of their brethren abroad which are only too galling to the pride of the arbiters of Europe. Hardest of all, perhaps, for the German patriot to bear is the spectacle of his countrymen easily surrendering their Deutschthum, putting on another nationality like a cloak, and becoming oblivious of the common home. According to Hartmann’s dismal lamentations, the German emigrant is distinguished above all others by the ease with which he effects this change.

Certainly in America and Australia his complaint holds good. The vulgar system of transforming German into English names has already been remarked, and in the second generation the immigrant is entirely American, ostentatiously affecting to “schbick de Inglisch only,” Elsewhere the process of transition does not go on so readily. In Russia the German settler exemplifies the fundamental antagonism of Slav and Teuton, and retains a sense of his origin and inherent superiority among his more200 indolent neighbors. But in Russia the Bauer is contributing to the wealth, not only of a rival, but perhaps of a hostile nationality. He labors again, even in Brazil, under religious and civil disabilities; in the Dobrudscha the German villages were harried by Circassians in the late war, and now the Roumanian Government seeks to plant its own husbandmen on the lands reclaimed by German industry. In other European countries the emigrant is forced to win a difficult footing by undertaking the most toilsome and unremunerative labor. He is, indeed, reduced into being a hewer of wood and drawer of water for alien peoples.

Apart from these sentimental motives there are urgent political and economical reasons why the demand for a greater Germany, for a German exit to carry off this surplus population, should now be made. A military empire depends upon its supply of recruits, and according to Bismarck’s somewhat paradoxical theory, the emigrants are drawn from among the most capable and energetic citizens. This continual drain of military strength can hardly be looked upon without apprehension.

Again the economical loss to Germany by this outgoing of productive labor is tremendous. It has been calculated at an annual sum of £15,000,000, and for the last fifty years to amount to a capital sum of £700,000,000. These figures are probably pitched too high, but the substantial fact remains the same.


At the same time the vital necessity of relieving Germany by an annual Auswanderung is now fully recognized. The necessity becomes daily more urgent. In Germany the birth-rate per mille has advanced to 38; in Great Britain it stands at 35, giving a yearly increase in population for the two countries of 600,000 and 400,000 respectively. Hence every walk of life is congested in the Empire, and in the lower strata of society the struggle for existence has become almost internecine. The artizans have no accumulated resources to fall back upon as in England, and the pressure of the agricultural class upon the soil, for all its thrift and economy,201 is fearfully severe. The struggle tells chiefly, of course, upon life in its weaker stages, and the returns of infant mortality indicate how desperate it has become, how shrunken is the margin between production and consumption, and what the terrible remedy is which Nature is constrained to supply. In populous tracts in the heart of the Empire the rate of infant mortality reaches 40, and even 45, per mille. In corresponding English districts it does not rise above 20.

For the last twenty-five years individual thinkers have proclaimed the importance of organizing German colonies to carry off this surplus population regularly, of preventing its absorption into foreign peoples, and of utilizing it for the common weal. For years their exhortations remained like the voice of one crying in the wilderness. The country was engaged in consolidating its national existence; a superficial glance revealed the fact that the more desirable spaces of the earth’s surface were filled up, and the official classes looked upon the proposal askance. Proud of the great work its industry and intelligence had already achieved, the Beamtenstand was confident of its ability to solve the newer problems by re-adjusting the relations of labor and capital, and by modifying the social organization.

The task has proved more formidable than was anticipated, and the attitude of the Socialists has disabused the bureaucracy of its confidence. In opposition even to the enticing schemes of the Iron Chancellor they show themselves determined to insist on their own inadmissible scheme of social re-construction. Nor do they manifest more favor towards the colonial panacea; some of their leaders, indeed, have denounced it in the bitterest terms, both as impracticable and as an ignis fatuus likely to lead the nation astray from the true path of salvation. On the other hand, the commercial classes are warm in its support, and German conservatism generally hopes for the effect which a Greater Germany may possibly exercise in diverting the imagination of the working classes from internal Utopias.

But the difficulties in the way of establishing transmarine agricultural colonies, and this is the central aim of German202 aspirations, are very great. Germany has to make up the lee-way of two centuries, to recover the start which England obtained while she was torn and exhausted by recurring war. The suitable zones of the world are apparently already occupied, and neither the acquisition of islands in the Pacific, nor placing barren coasts or fever-swamps in Africa under the Imperial ægis, will serve her purpose. Popular aspirations, indeed, point to a South African Empire, incorporating the Transvaal and Cape Colony at our expense, and influential papers do not hesitate to air these aspirations. But neither these suggestions nor the more practicable demand for a Germany in South America have yet received the imprimatur of responsible politicians.


A like necessity for making up lost lee-way dominates the simultaneous movement towards commercial extension. Germany entered the commercial arena long after England had covered the globe with the network of her shipping routes and her credit system. To reduce the advantage gained, and to bring up their own lines to a level, a subvention is to be paid out of the national revenues. An examination of the four subsidized lines originally proposed, to China, Australia, Bombay, and South Africa, shows that they were meant to compete directly with existing English routes. In the same way the projected Transmarine Bank is to contend with the ubiquitous English banking and credit organization, of which the Germans are forced to avail themselves. Indeed, the Cologne Gazette has lately computed that by the use of English carrying ships, and by the payment of bank commissions, &c., Germany contributes a tax of £25,000 a day to the wealth of this country.

Handicapped, however, as German commerce has been, it has lately made great strides over-seas, thanks to its distinguishing qualities of thrift and industry. German competition is felt severely in the Far East, and has cut down profits at Hongkong to a minimum. And though the bulk of the foreign trade of China remains with the English, the coasting trade is rapidly pass203ing into German hands. In South America they have secured a still larger share of her trade; their agents are active in the Pacific; and, besides the new territory of Lüderitzland, more than sixty factories have recently been established along the African coast, from Sierra Leone to Ambriz, while German influence had apparently gained a temporary advantage in Zanzibar. The demand for new markets is the more urgent now in Germany because the largest of her previous markets, Russia, is being closed against her. Not content with having sheltered themselves already behind an almost prohibitive tariff, the Moscow manufacturers, alarmed at the success with which their German rivals have transferred their plant into Russian Poland, in spite of the difficulties and expense, now clamor for a Customs line to be drawn between the Polish provinces and inner Russia.

The loud demand for new markets is not, however, really so urgent, or sustained by such pressing causes, as the cry for colonial settlements. It may be doubted whether Germany’s penurious soil possesses in itself sufficient mineral and other resources ever to allow her to contend with this country as the great manufacturer of the raw products of the world.

It is rather England who must seek new outlets for her commerce, as her old markets are exhausted or shared among new competitors, while the amount of human energy she supplies, and its more than proportionate productiveness, steadily increase, owing to acquired skill and improved machinery. Germany’s first need, on the other hand, is for habitable and agricultural colonies, where her surplus population may be planted, and may not be lost to her. There is, therefore, no immediate cause of hostile rivalry; and German expansion, with its orderly and commercial instinct, may be regarded as a valuable influence in the spread of civilization.


In discussing German movements, however, it is impossible, at the present time, to omit reckoning with the views204 of the great statesman who controls her destinies. Prince Bismarck has been variously represented as reluctantly putting himself at the head of a colonial agitation which he really deprecates, and as using it merely in order to discomfit domestic opponents, or to make foreign Governments feel his weight abroad. No doubt these last two reasons have had some effect in shaping the Chancellor’s actual policy. But Prince Bismarck appears to have needed no prompting for appreciating the necessity of colonial expansion, and to have given it his serious reflection long before the present Colonization Society met at Eisenach. In the days of the North German Confederacy, the rising Minister lent all his influence to the proposals of the firm of Godeffroys Bros. for the annexation of the Samoa group. A scheme was drawn up, dividing the land among military settlers, grants of arms were made from the Royal Arsenals, and the Hertha the first continental iron-clad which steamed through the Suez Canal, was despatched to give a vigorous support. Before the last arrangements, however, were completed, the Franco-German war intervened, with the internal consolidation and the diplomatic struggles which succeeded it.

But Prince Bismarck had not abandoned his early ideas; he was waiting till the time was ripe. In 1875 he made a tentative effort, without success, to wring a guarantee from the Reichstag for a new South Sea Company. Next year he was pressed to give his support to a proposed railway from Pretoria to the sea. He refused, but in private made the following significant statement to the intermediate agent:—

“The colonial question is one I have studied for years. I am convinced Germany cannot go on for ever without colonies, but as yet I fail to perceive deep traces of such a movement in the country.” Those deep traces have now been revealed, and it remains to be seen whether the Iron Chancellor will not be able, in spite of the apparently insuperable objects in his way, to give practical effect to the aspirations of the German nation, and to his own earnest conviction.—National Review.




On the 8th June, 1876, George Sand, the great French novelist, died at her château of Nohant in Berri. The strong right hand that for forty years had been used in the service of her countrymen, sometimes to delight, sometimes to admonish, had dropped the pen in death; the noble heart that, with all its faults and all its deviations from the strict line of social conventionality, had yet ever sided with the weak against the strong, the oppressed against the oppressor, had ceased to beat, and even in the frivolous, heartless capital where she had lived, men went about knowing they had sustained an irreparable loss and that a blank had been made in their lives that would never be filled.

She was the last of that illustrious fraternity of chosen spirits that flourished fifty years ago in France, of whom Victor Hugo is the sole survivor. Lamartine, Théophile Gautier, Michelet, Alfred de Musset, Balzac, George Sand, were the names that then resounded in the literary world of Paris, while now Emile Zola and Alexandre Dumas fils are its principal adornments. George Sand and Balzac’s novels form as it were the connecting link between the world of romance of the eighteenth century and our own. She has carried the idealism of Jean Jacques’ “Nouvelle Héloïse,” and the poetry of Chateaubriand’s “Renée” into our prosaic nineteenth century, while Balzac presented to his contemporaries as vivid reflections of life as any to be found in the pages of “Manon Lescaut” or “Gil Blas.” The authoress of “Indiana” is the high-priestess of the romantic school; the author of “Le Père Goriot” the exponent of the realistic.

“Love must be idealised in fiction,” she says in the “Histoire de ma Vie.” “We must give it all the force, and all the aspirations we have felt ourselves, besides all the pain we have seen and suffered. Under no circumstances must it ever be debased; it must triumph or die, and we must not be afraid to invest it with an importance in life, which lifts it altogether above ordinary sentiments.”

Balzac, her fellow-worker, used to say:207 “You seek men as they ought to be; I take them as they are. I idealise and exaggerate their vices; you their virtues.”

By further study of her life and correspondence, we shall know how true this observation is, and how this striving after ideal perfection not only influenced her literary work, but caused so much of that eccentricity and rebellion against social laws which shocked her contemporaries and has made her name a by-word in the mouths of those who could not appreciate her genius, or realise the tenderness and nobility of soul that were hidden under her unfeminine exterior.

The publication of her letters (looked forward to with so much impatience) has recently taken place, and the veil has been still further torn from those domestic relations well known to have been unhappy. Were they written by any one but the authoress of “Elle et Lui,” we should have regretted their appearance as indiscreet, and wanting in loyalty towards one no longer able to protest against the secrets of her life being dragged forth to amuse the crowd. A frequent charge however brought against George Sand is the want of delicacy she has shown in taking the world into her confidence. “Charity towards others, dignity towards myself, sincerity before God,” is the motto prefixed to the “Histoire de ma Vie.” She certainly is both charitable and sincere, but we must agree with her enemies in thinking it an open question whether, so far as concerns herself, she has observed a dignified reserve. Indeed, on various occasions she defiantly proclaimed, “That all hypocrisy was distasteful to her, and that it would have been the recognition of those acts as irregularities which were but the legitimate exercise of her liberty, had she been ashamed of them or endeavored to keep them secret.”

The autobiography was unfortunately revised and corrected in 1869, and considerably spoilt in the process. These letters are the more interesting, therefore, as throwing sudden lights on varying moods, and showing the rejection of many heterodox opinions at first, which were afterwards accepted without hesitation.


“La vie ressemble bien plutôt à un roman, qu’un roman à la vie,” she says, and certainly no heroine of one of her own romances could be more interesting as a study than she is, with her gentleness and “bavardages de mère” one moment, and her violent casting off of all domestic duties the next. Touching appeals are made to Jules Boucoiran, the tutor, to tell her whether her children ever mention her name, and directly after there is the following exultant declaration:

“Ainsi, à l’heure qu’il est, à une lieue d’ici, quatre mille bêtes me croient à genoux dans le sac, et dans la cendre, pleurant mes péchés comme Madeleine. Le réveil sera terrible. Le lendemain de ma victoire, je jette ma béquille, je passe au galop de mon cheval aux quatre coins de la ville.”

The first letter of the “Correspondence” is written in 1812, when Mademoiselle Aurore Dupin was a happy child of eight, living at her ancestral home, the old château of Nohant.

Already she is insubordinate and high-spirited, delighted at being able to deceive her grandmother by carrying on a secret correspondence with her mother, and hiding the letters behind the portrait of the old Dupin in the entrance-hall. “Que j’ai de regret de ne pouvoir te dire adieu. Tu vois combien j’ai de chagrin de te quitter. Adieu; pense à moi, et sois que je ne t’oublierai point.—Ta Fille. Tu mettras la réponse derrière le portrait du vieux Dupin.”

The last letter of the first volume is dated “La Châtre, 1836,” when what she herself called the crisis of the “sixth lustrum” was over. The celebrated voyage to Venice with Alfred de Musset had already been made, the romance of “Elle et Lui” had been lived through and written—the immortal passion which has been told and sung by both sides for the benefit of the world, and which has now become a part of the poetry of the nineteenth century, was already a thing of the past; and she had come to the point, as she writes to her friend Madame d’Agoult, of finding her greatest happiness in a state of being where she neither thinks nor feels.209 “You, perhaps, are too happy and too young to envy the lot of those shining white stones which lie so cold, so calm, so dead, under the light of the moon. I always salute them as I pass along the road in my solitary midnight ride.” This volume comprises, therefore, all the most eventful periods of her life, and whatever has since been published is only of secondary interest.

George Sand was born in Paris in 1804. She was descended on her father’s side from Maurice de Saxe, natural son of Augustus II., King of Poland. Her father died in 1808, and she was brought up at the château of Nohant close to La Châtre in Berri. She lived there until she was thirteen, passing her days in the open air, sometimes wandering through the woods and fields, with the peasant children of the neighboring village, or more often sitting alone, under some great tree, listening to the murmur of the river close by, and the whisper of the wind amidst the leaves. Here she learnt that kindness and simplicity of manner which always characterised her, and here she contracted that love for communion with Nature which in her wildest and most despairing moments never forsook her.

“Ah, that I could live amidst the calm of mountain solitudes,” she exclaims, “morally and materially above the region of storms! There to pass long hours in contemplation of the starry heavens, listening to the mysterious sounds of nature, possessing all that is grandest in creation united with the possession of myself.”

At twelve she began to write, composing long stories about a hero to whom, under the name of Corambe, she raised an altar of stones and moss in the corner of the garden. For years she remained faithful to Corambe and cherished the project of constructing a poem or romance to celebrate his illustrious exploits.

At thirteen, her mother and grandmother, unable to agree upon the subject of her education, determined to send her to a convent in Paris.

“Conceive,” one of her biographers says, “the sadness of this wild bird shut up in the cage of the English Augustines in the ‘Rue des Fossés-Saint-Victor.’ She wept tears of bitter regret for the cool depths of woods, the sunny mornings, and dim quiet evenings of her home.”

Comfort was soon found however in her work, and in the schoolgirl friend210ships that she formed, some of which lasted her lifetime.

In 1820, when sixteen, she returned to Nohant. Her grandmother died in the following year; and then, although often suffering from her mother’s irritable and capricious temper, she seems to have enjoyed perfect liberty: riding, walking, and reading; devouring everything that came into her hands, from Thomas à Kempis to Jean Jacques Rousseau. On one occasion, kneeling before the altar in the chapel, she was seized with a paroxysm of devotion and talked of becoming a nun. To this succeeded complete emancipation in her religious opinions, and a refusal even to conform to the observances of her Church. A quarrel with her confessor accomplished the separation from orthodoxy. She became a deist, and remained so for the rest of her life, making art her religion, and passing through all the phases of pessimism and Saint-Simonianism that prevailed in her day.

In 1822, to escape the solicitations of her mother, she consented to marry Monsieur Dudevant, son of one of the barons of the Empire.

She describes in her autobiography how one evening, when sitting outside Tortoni’s eating ices after the theatre, she heard a friend (Madame Duplessis) say to her husband: “See, there is Casimir!” Whereupon a slight, elegant young man of military bearing came up to salute them. Her fate was sealed from that day. They were married in September 1822, she being only eighteen. After paying a few visits they returned to live at Nohant. The letters begin consecutively after the birth of her first child, and are written at odd times, and from different places—sometimes in the middle of the night, while all the household were asleep, the lightning flashing and the thunder rolling; sometimes in a garret overlooking a narrow little street of the town of Châtre, at six o’clock in the morning, the nightingales singing outside and the scent of a lilac-tree pervading the air; sometimes at her grandmother’s old bureau in the hall at Nohant, with all her family round her.

The portion of the “Correspondence” which will take readers most by surprise is that describing the first years of her married life. There is no desire here211 “to lose her identity in the great conscience of humanity!” her heart seems perfectly satisfied bending over her cradle, and her mind entirely occupied with the “concrete duties” of manufacturing soothing syrups and amusing her children.

“My son is splendidly fat and fresh,” she writes to her mother. “He has a bright complexion and determined expression, which I must say is borne out by his character. He has six teeth which he uses with great vigor, and he stands beautifully on his feet, though too young to run alone.”

Casimir is mentioned now and then, and always with a certain amount of affection. She is evidently attached to him through the children, and relates how fond he is of her and them.

“Our dear papa,” she says, “is very much
taken up with his harvest. He has adopted a
mode of threshing out his corn, which accomplishes
in three weeks what used to occupy five
or six. He works very hard all day, and is off
rake in hand at daybreak. We women sit on
the heaps of corn reading and working for
hours together.”

She describes a carnival at Nohant in 1826, four years after her marriage, when she sits up three nights a week dancing, “Obligations which have to be accepted in life.” Obligations which seem to be grateful enough to her, although she only amuses herself by the light of three candles, with an orchestra composed of a hurdy-gurdy and bagpipes.

Certain disturbing elements seem however, as the year goes on, to agitate the domestic barometer. They make a journey to Bordeaux, and there the society, although not brilliant, is more attractive than that of Nohant—the prospect of returning to the “three candles and the hurdy-gurdy” seems to frighten her—and she complains of Casimir’s want of “intellectual” energy: “Paresseux de l’esprit, et enragé des jambes.”

“Cold, wet, nothing keeps him at home; whenever he comes in it is either to eat or to snore.” In writing about some commissions which her mother has executed for her in Paris, she says: “Casimir asks me to express his gratitude; it is a sentiment which we can still feel in common.” Rustic duties pall upon her, her appetite and health fail, she is reduced to “looking at the stars, instead of sleeping.” “My existence212 is passed in a complete state of mental solitude surrounded by unsympathetic, commonplace people, some of whom deface their lives by coarse inebriety.” She here alludes to her brother, Hippolyte, who destroyed his own and his wife’s happiness by his drunken habits.

The only event that brightened her sadness was the arrival of a young tutor for her children, M. Jules Boucoiran, who always, as she says, remained her devoted friend and ally.

She thus whimsically relates an incident small in itself, but one that made an impression on her owing to the existing circumstances:

“I was living in what used to be my grandmother’s boudoir, because there was only one door, and no one could come in unless I liked. My two children sleep in the room next to me. The boudoir was so small that I could hardly fit into it with all my books. I therefore slept in a hammock, and wrote at an old bureau, which I used in company with a cricket, who seeing me so often had become perfectly tame. It lived on my wafers, which I purposely chose white for fear of poisoning it. After eating its meal on my paper as I wrote, it always went and sang in its favorite drawer. One evening, not hearing it move, I searched everywhere, but the only remains I found of my poor friend were his hind legs. He never told me that he went out for a walk every day, and the maid had crushed him when shutting the window. I buried him in a datura flower, which I kept for some time as a sacred relic. I could not get rid of a strange foreboding that with the song of this little cricket my domestic happiness had fled for ever.”

Meantime the artistic leaven was working within her. On one of her flying visits to Paris she entered the Louvre and felt singularly “taken possession of” by the beautiful pictures around her.

“I returned,” she says, “again and again, arriving early in the morning and going away late in the evening. I was transported into another world, and was haunted day and night by the grand figures created by genius. The past and present were revealed to me, I became classical and romantic at the same time, without understanding the struggle between the two that agitated the artistic world. I seemed to have acquired a treasure, the existence of which I had never been aware of. My spirit expanded, and when I left the gallery I walked through the streets as in a dream.”

After this awakening of her intellectual nature she returned to Nohant, more determined than ever to escape from her wretched life, and to save her children from influences that might destroy213 them in the future. Her first object was to endeavor to make money enough to procure the means of existence. She tried everything, translating, drawing, needlework, and at last discovered that she could earn an humble pittance by painting flowers on wooden boxes. To this pursuit she devoted herself for some time, believing it to be the only trade for which she was fitted.

Meantime her domestic affairs came to a crisis sooner than she expected. The cause is thus related to Jules Boucoiran:

“You know my home life, and how intolerable it is! You yourself have often been astonished to see me raise my head the day after I had been crushed to the earth. But there is a term to everything. Events latterly have hastened the resolution which otherwise I should not have been strong enough to take. No one suspects anything; there has been no open quarrel. When seeking for something in my husband’s desk I found a packet addressed to myself. On it were written these words: ‘To be opened after my death.’ I opened it however at once. What did I find? imprecations, anathemas, insulting accusations, and the word ‘perversity.’”

This discovery, she tells him, decided her to come to an arrangement with her husband at once, by which she was to live the greater part of the year in Paris with her children, spending a month or two of the summer at Nohant. There were, no doubt, faults on both sides. She herself confesses in her autobiography “that she was no saint, and was often unjust, impetuous in her resolves, too hasty in her judgments.” Wherever there are strong feelings and desires there must be discord at times.

“Happy he who plants cabbages,” says she. “He has one foot on the earth, and the other is only raised off it the height of the spade. Unfortunately for me, I fear if I did plant cabbages I should ask for a logical justification for my activity, and some reason for the necessity of planting cabbages.”

Hers is not a nature that must be judged coldly. What right have we to say that she was to clip the wings of her genius, pass her years in the service of conventionality, and never seek the full development of her artistic nature? When she left the home of her childhood with pilgrim’s staff and scrip to start along the thorny path that led to the shrine of art, she was not actuated by any weak and wayward desire of change,214 but by the vehement and passionate desire to give forth to the world what was locked within her breast.

The beginning of her life in Paris was one of considerable poverty and privation. She lived au cinquième in a lodging, which cost her a yearly rent of £12; she had no servant, and got in her food from an eating-house close by for the sum of two francs a day. Her washing and needlework she did herself. Notwithstanding this rigid economy, it was impossible to keep within the limits of her husband’s allowance of £10 a year, especially as far as her dress was concerned.

After some hesitation therefore she took the resolution, which caused so much scandal then and afterwards, of adopting male attire.

“My thin boots wore out in a few days,” she tells us in the autobiography. “I forgot to hold up my dress, and covered my petticoats with mud. My bonnets were spoilt one after another by the rain. I generally returned from the expeditions I took, dirty, weary, and cold. Whereas my young men acquaintances—some of whom had been the companions of my childhood in Berri—had none of these inconveniences to submit to. I therefore had a long gray cloth coat made with a waistcoat and trousers to match. When this costume was completed by a gray felt hat and a loose woollen cravat, no one could have guessed that I was not a young student in my first year. My boots were my particular delight. I should like to have gone to bed with them. On their little iron heels I wandered from one end of Paris to the other; no one took any notice of me, or suspected my disguise.”

George Sand was twenty-seven years of age at this time. Without being beautiful she was striking and sympathetic-looking. Sainte-Beuve thus describes his first interview with her:

“I saw, as I entered the room, a young woman with expressive eyes and a fine open brow, surrounded by black hair, cut rather short. She was quiet and composed in manner, speaking little herself, but listening attentively to all I had to say.”

In an engraving of Calmatta’s from a picture done by Ary Scheffer, we see that her features were large but regular, her eyes magnificent, and her face distinguished by an expression of strength and calm that was very remarkable. Her hair, dressed in long bandeaux, increases this expression of peace so belied by the audacity of her genius.

She began her life of independence215 with very fixed opinions on abstract ideas, but with complete ignorance, so far as material necessities were concerned:

“I know nothing about the world, and have no prejudices on the subject of society, to which the more I see of it, the less I desire to belong. I do not think I can reform it, I do not interest myself enough about it to wish to do so. This reserve and laziness is perhaps a mistake, but it is the inevitable result of a life of isolation and solitude. I have a basis of ‘nonchalance’ and apathy in my disposition which, without any effort on my part, keeps me attached to a sedentary life, or, as my friends would call it, ‘an animal one.’”

A great many of these friends were so shocked at her eccentric proceedings, that she made up her mind to withdraw voluntarily from intercourse with them, leaving them the option of continuing it if they liked.

“What right had I to be angry with them, if they gave me up? How could I expect them to understand my aims or my desires? Did they know? Did I know myself, when burning my vessels, whether I had any talent, any perseverance?

“I never told any one my real intentions; and whenever I talked of becoming an authoress, it was in joke, making fun of the idea, and of myself.”

Still her destiny urged her forward, and she was more than ever resolved, in spite of the difficulty, to follow a literary career:

“My life is restricted here, but I feel that I now have an object. I am devoted to one task, and indeed to one passion. The love of writing is a violent, almost an indestructible one; when once it has taken possession of an unfortunate brain it never leaves it again.... I have had no success: my work has been found unnatural by people whose opinion I have asked.... Better known names must take precedence of mine, that is only fair: patience, patience.... Meantime I must live on. I am not above any work. I write even articles for Figaro. I wish you knew what that meant; but at least they pay me seven francs a column; and with that I can eat, drink, and go to the play, which is an opportunity for me to make the most useful and amusing observations.

“If one wishes to write, one must see everything, know everything, laugh at everything. Ah, ma foi, vive la vie d’artiste! notre devise est liberté.”

She thus describes her mornings spent in the editorial offices of the Figaro:


“I was not very industrious, I must confess, but then I understood nothing of the work. Delatouche would give me a subject, and a piece of foolscap paper, telling me not to exceed certain limits. I often scribbled over ten pages which I threw in the fire, and on which I had not written one word of sense. My colleagues were full of intelligence, energy, and facility. I listened, was much amused, but did no good work, and at the end of the month received an average of twelve francs fifty centimes, and am not sure I was not overpaid at that.”

She writes to M. Boucoiran:

“People blame me because I write for the Figaro. I do not care much what they say. I must live, and am proud enough of earning my bread myself. The Figaro is a means as well as another. I must pass through the apprenticeship of journalism. I know it is often disagreeable; but one need never dirty one’s hands with anything unworthy. Seven francs a column is not much to earn, but it is most important to get a good footing in a newspaper office.”

She painted the most vivid portraits of the various eminent men whose aid she sought, and who invariably tried to dissuade her from embarking on a literary career. Balzac, when she first knew him, lived in an “entresol” in the Rue de Cassini.

“I was introduced to him as a person greatly struck by his talent, which indeed was true, for although at that time he had not yet produced his ‘chefs-d’œuvre,’ I had admired his original manner of looking at things, and felt that he had a great future before him. Every one knows how satisfied he was with himself, a satisfaction which was so well justified that one forgave him for it. He loved to talk of his works, to describe them beforehand, and to read little bits of them aloud. Naïve and good-hearted, he asked advice of children, and then only made use of it as an argument to prove how right he was himself.

“One evening when we had dined with him in some eccentric manner on boiled beef, melon and iced champagne, he went and put on a beautiful new dressing-gown, which he showed off with the delight of a young girl. We could not dissuade him from going out in this costume to accompany us as far as the entrance to the Luxembourg. There was not a breath of wind, and he carried a lighted candle in his hand, talking continuously of four Arab horses, which he never owned, but which he firmly believed for some time were in his possession. He would have gone with us to the other end of Paris, had we permitted it.

“My employer Delatouche was not nearly so pleasant. He also talked continuously about himself, and read aloud his novels with more discretion than Balzac, but with still more complacency. Woe betide you if you moved the furniture, stirred the fire, or even sneezed while he was thus occupied. He would stop immediately to ask you, with polite solicitude, if you had a cold, or an attack of nerves, and pretending to forget the book he had been reading, he obliged you to beg and pray before he would open it again. He never217 could accept the idea of growing old with resignation, and always said: ‘I am not fifty, but twice twenty-five years of age.’ He had plenty of critical discernment, and his observations often kept me from affectations and peculiarities of style—the great stumbling-block of all young authors. Although he gave me good advice, he put what seemed to me insurmountable difficulties in my way. ‘Beware of imitation,’ he said, ‘make use of your own powers, read in your own heart, and in the life you see around you, and then record your impressions.... You are too absolute in your sentiments. Your character is too strong. You neither know the world, nor individuals, your brain is empty! Your works may be charming, but they are quite wanting in common sense. You must write them all over again.’ I perfectly agreed with him and went away, making up my mind to keep to the painting of tea-caddies and cigarette cases.”

At last “Indiana” was begun, aimlessly, and with no hope of success.

“I resolutely,” she says in the “Histoire de ma Vie,” “put all precept and example out of my mind, and neither sought in others, nor in my own individuality, a type or character. Of course it has been said that Indiana was me, and her history mine. She was nothing of the kind. I have drawn many different female personations, but I think when the world reads this confession of my impressions and reflections, it will see that none of them are intended for my own portrait. I am too elevated in my views to see a heroine of romance in my mirror. I never found myself handsome enough nor amiable enough to be either poetic or interesting; it would have seemed to me as impossible to dramatise my life, as to embellish my person.”

“Indiana” was signed for the first time by her nom de plume George Sand.

Her former romance, “Rose et Blanche,” had been written in collaboration with M. Jules Sandeau. It appeared under the name of Jules Sand. When “Indiana” was finished Delatouche, who undertook to publish it, advised its authoress to change the name of Jules to George. She did so, and henceforth in literature and society was known by no other name but George Sand.

“Indiana” was a genuine success, and made a considerable stir in Paris. The imperfections of its construction were forgiven for the eloquence of its passion and the beauty of its style; and the only words on every one’s lips for some days after its appearance, were, “Have you read ‘Indiana’? You must read ‘Indiana.’”

Even her severe friend Delatouche was stirred out of his critical frame of218 mind. She describes his clambering up to her garret, and finding a copy of “Indiana” lying on the table.

“He took it up, and opened it contemptuously. I wished to keep him from the subject and spoke about other things, but he would read on, and kept calling out at each page: ‘Come, it is a copy! Nothing but a copy of Balzac.’ I had neither sought nor avoided an imitation of the great novelist’s style, and felt that although the book had been written under his influence, it was unjust to say it was a copy. I let him carry away the volume, hoping he would rescind his judgment. Next morning on awaking I received the following letter:

“‘George,—I beg your pardon; I am at your feet. Forgive the insulting observations I made last night. Forgive all that I have said to you for the last six months. I have spent the night reading your book. Ah, my child! How proud I am of you!’”

The following extract from one of her letters written after the publication of “Indiana” shows how modest she remained in the midst of her success:

“The popularity of my book frightens me. Up to this moment I have worked inconsequently, convinced that anything I produced would pass unnoticed. Fate has ordained otherwise. I must try to justify the undeserved admiration of which I am the object.

“Curiously enough, it seems as if half the pleasure of my profession were gone. I had always thought the word inspiration very ambitious, and only to be employed when referring to genius of the highest order. I would never dare to use it when speaking of myself without protesting against the exaggeration of a term which is only sanctioned by an incontestable success. We must find a word, however, which will not make modest people blush, and will express that ‘grace’ which descends more or less intensely on all heads in earnest about their work. There is no artist, however humble, who has not his moments of inspiration, and perhaps the heavenly liquor is as precious in an earthenware vessel as in a golden one. Only one keeps it pure and clear, while the other transmutes it or breaks itself. Let us accept the word as it is therefore, and take it for granted that from my pen it means nothing presumptuous.

“When beginning to write ‘Indiana,’ I felt an unaccustomed and strong emotion, unlike anything I had ever experienced in my former efforts at composition; it was more painful than agreeable. I wrote spontaneously, never thinking of the social problem on which I was touching. I was not Saint-Simonian, I never have been, although I have had great sympathy with some of the ideas and for some of the members of the fraternity; but I did not know them at that time, and was uninfluenced by their tenets. The only feeling I had was a horror of ignorant tyranny.”

In spite of her literary success the year219 1833 was one of the most unhappy of George Sand’s life. We know the lines addressed to her by Mrs. Browning:

“True genius, but true woman! dost deny The woman’s nature with a manly scorn, And break away the gauds and armlets worn By weaker women in captivity? Ah, vain denial! That revolted cry Is sobbed in by a woman’s voice forlorn,— Thy woman’s hair, my sister! all unshorn, Floats back dishevelled, strength in agony, Disproving thy man’s name: And while before The world thou burnest in a poet-fire, We see thy woman’s heart beat evermore Through the large flame.”

“I ought to be able to enjoy this independence bought at so dear a price,” she writes to her friend M. François Rollinat, “but I am no longer able to do so. My heart has become twenty years older, and nothing in life seems bright or gay. I can never feel anything acutely again, either sorrow or joy. I have gone through everything and rounded the cape; not like those easy-going nabobs who repose in silken hammocks under the cedarwood ceilings of their palaces, but like those poor pilots who, crushed by fatigue, and burnt by the sun, come to anchor, not daring to expose their fragile bark to the stormy seas. Formerly they led a happy life, full of adventure and love. They long to begin it again, but their vessel is dismasted, and the cargo lost.”

Alas! the “fragile bark” was tempted once more to put to sea, this time freighted with the rich cargo of all the love and all the hope of her passionate woman’s heart.

In the “Histoire de ma Vie” she touches very slightly on the episode of her journey to Venice with Alfred de Musset, and in the “Correspondence” we only read the following significant words, written to M. Jules Boucoiran from Venice on April 6, 1834:

“Alfred has left for Paris. I shall remain here some time. We have separated, for months, perhaps for ever. God knows what will become of me now. I feel still, however, full of strength to live, work, and endure.”

He suffered more than she. After lying six weeks in a brain fever hovering between life and death, he returned to his family broken down in health and spirits—“I bring you,” he writes to his brother, “a sick body, a grieving soul, and a bleeding heart, but one that still loves you.”

He declared later, when the anguish had passed, that,


“In spite of its sadness, it was the happiest period of my life. I have never told you all the story. It would be worth something if I wrote it down; but what is the use? My mistress was dark, she had large eyes! I loved her, and she forsook me. I wept and sorrowed for four months; is not that enough?”

The year that followed their separation was a momentous one in both their literary careers. He produced the “Nuit de Mai,” the “Nuit de Décembre” and the “Confessions d’un Enfant du Siècle;” while she wrote “Jacques” and “Consuelo.”

Her letters are the fittest commentary on her life and mode of thought at this time. She thus addresses M. Jules Boucoiran:

“You make serious accusations against me. You reproach me for my many frivolous friendships and affections. I never undertake to justify statements made about my character. I can explain facts and actions, but blunders of the intelligence, errors of the heart, never! I have too just an opinion of merit in general to think much of my individual worth; indeed I have neither reverence nor affection for myself, the field is therefore open to those who malign me; and I am ready to laugh with them, if they appeal to my philosophy; but when it is a question of affection, when it is the sufferings of friendship which you wish to express, you are wrong. If we have discovered great faults in those we love we must take counsel with ourselves, and see whether we can still continue to care for them. The wisest course is to give them up, the most generous to remain their friends, but for that generosity to be complete there must be no reproaches, no dragging up of events long past.”

The following is written to M. Adolphe Gueroult:

“Your letter is as good and true as your heart; but I send you back this page of it, which is absurd and quite out of place. No one must write in such terms to me. If you criticise my costume, let it be on other grounds. It is really better you should not interfere at all. Read the parts I have underlined, they are astoundingly impertinent. I don’t think you were quite responsible when you wrote them. I am not angry and am not less attached to you, but I must beg you not to be so foolish again. It does not suit you....

“My friends will respect me just as much, I hope, in a coat as in a dress. I do not go out in male habiliments without a stick, so do not be afraid ... and be assured I do not aspire to the dignity of a man. It seems to me too ridiculous a position to be preferable to the servitude of a woman. I only wish to possess to-day, and for ever, that delightful and complete independence which you seem to imagine is your prerogative alone. You can tell your friends and acquaintances that it is absolutely useless to attempt to presume on my attire or my black eyes, for I do not allow any impertinence, however I may be dressed.”

She became Republican, almost Com221munistic in her views, founded a paper, the Cause du Peuple, and contributed to another, the Commune de Paris.

“It seems to me,” she writes to her son, “that the earth belongs to God, who made it and has given it to man as a haven of refuge. It cannot therefore be His intention that some should suffer from repletion, while others die of hunger. All that any one can say on the subject will not prevent me from feeling miserable and angry when I see a beggar man moaning at a rich man’s door.

“If I say all this to you, however, you must not repeat it or show my letter. You know your father’s opinions are different. You must listen to him with respect, but your conscience is free, and you can choose between his ideas and mine. I will teach you many things if you and I ever live together. If we are not fated to enjoy this happiness (the greatest I can imagine, and the only thing that would make me wish to stop on earth), you will pray God for me, and from the bosom of death, if anything remains of me in the Universe, my spirit will watch over you.”

After the June massacres, she retired, sad and disappointed, to Nohant, where, surrounded by her children and grandchildren, she reigned as père et mère de famille, respected and loved by all. The eccentricities of her youth were forgiven for the sake of her genius and generosity of heart. She was hospitable and simple, allowing her son and his wife to manage the household and property, making her guests, however, feel that she was the controlling spirit of the house. Here—all the struggles of life over—she devoted herself to literature, and produced the best works of her life: “La Petite Fadette,” “La Mare au Diable,” and “François le Chiampi.” George Sand had none of the brilliancy and repartee in general conversation one would have expected, and as the years went on she became more silent and reserved.

Her greatest happiness was to sit in her arm-chair smoking cigarettes. Often, when her friends thought she was absorbed in her own meditations, she would put in a word that proved she had been listening to everything. The word spoken, she would relapse again into silence. It was only when she sat down to her desk that she became eloquent, and the expressions that halted on her lips rushed abundantly from her pen. Her characters grew beneath her hand, and she went on writing, with that perfect style which is like the222 rhythmic cadence of a great river—“Large, calm, and regular.” George Sand worked all night long after all her guests were in bed, sometimes remaining up until five o’clock in the morning. She generally sat down to the old bureau in the hall at Nohant, with pen, ink, and foolscap paper sewn together, and began, without notes or a settled scheme of any kind.

“You wish to write,” she says to her lovely young friend, the Comtesse d’Agoult. “Then do so by all means. You are young, in the full force of your intelligence and powers. Write quickly and don’t think too much. If you reflect, you will cease to have any particular bent, and will write from habit. Work while you have genius, while the gods dictate to you. I think you will have a great success, and may you be spared the thorns which surround the blessed flowers of the crown of glory. Why should the thorns pierce your flesh? You have not wandered through the desert.”

When death came, she met it simply and bravely, like the great soul that she was. “Laissez la verdure” were the last words she spoke. No one at first understood what she meant, and thought she was delirious, but afterwards they remembered that she had always expressed a dislike to slabs and crosses on the graves of those she loved, so they left a mound of grass to mark her resting-place.

As we read the works of the two great female novelists of the century, George Eliot and George Sand, a comparison inevitably suggests itself to our minds. They both had the same passionate sympathy with the trials and sufferings of humanity, the same love and reverence for all that was weak and lowly. No intellectual aristocracy existed for them; they loved the crowd, and tried to influence the crowd. It is curious they should both have made the same observation, the one on hearing Liszt, the other on hearing Mendelssohn play: “Had I any genius, that is the form I should have wished to take, for then I could have spoken to all my fellow-men.” George Sand was ever seeking ideal perfection, and in that search often lost the right road and223 “wandered in the desert.” George Eliot accepted life with that calm resignation that was part of her nature; she was more restrained and less passionate than her French sister. The one, while at school, reproaches herself for her coldness and inability to feel any enthusiasm about the prayer-meetings in vogue among her companions. The other cast herself on her knees one day in a fit of devotion, and for weeks declared that she would become a nun.

There is as much divergence in the artistic work they produced as in their characters. George Sand, without having the perfection of construction and finish that distinguish George Eliot, far surpasses her in the delineation of her female characters. George Eliot never described a woman of genius, while George Sand has written Consuelo and the Comtesse Rudolstadt, both of them types of the femme artiste, with all her weakness and all her greatness.

In the painting of human love, also, the French novelist is infinitely stronger than the English one. We linger with absorbing interest over the suffering and passion of Indiana and Valentine, while we yawn over the conversations between Dorothea and Will Ladislaw, or Deronda and Myra. George Eliot herself has said, “That for eloquence and depth of feeling no man approaches George Sand.”

We have seen a photograph done of George Sand shortly before she died. The face is massive, but lit up by the wonderful eyes through which the soul still shines. An expression of tenderness and gentle philosophy hovers round the lips, and we feel almost as though they would break into a smile as we gaze. She became latterly like one of those grand old trees of her own “Vallée Noire,” lopped and maimed by the storms and struggles of life, but ever to the last putting forth tender shoots and expanding into fresh foliage, through which the soft winds of heaven whisper, making music in the ears of those weary wayfarers who pause to rest beneath their shade.—Temple Bar.



One of the most interesting results of the study of language is the elucidation which it affords of the history of mankind. In the larger sphere of comparative philology, important discoveries regarding the relations of various races have been made. In some cases a common origin has been proved for the widely dissimilar languages of different nations; in others, the influence of one people upon its less civilised neighbors is clearly shown. If, on the other hand, we confine our inquiries to our own language, the historical associations which it presents are no less interesting. The successive races which predominated in the early days of the history of Great Britain, have each left its impress upon our language, in which Celtic, Latin, Saxon, Danish, and Norman elements are strangely intermingled. Even now, our commercial intercourse with the inhabitants of every quarter of the globe is ever enriching our vocabulary with borrowed terms and phrases. Hence, it is hardly to be wondered that such a composite language affords an ample field for research. We may trace in it the gradual progress of civilisation, and follow the changes of national ideas and feelings, the elevation of some words, the debasement of many others. We may recognise the half-forgotten names of men once famous for their characters and achievements, and of places once renowned for their produce and manufactures. Finally, we may recall states of society which have long since passed away, and find in modern phrases vestiges of the manners and customs of other days.

It is to these records of the minor details of life that we would briefly call attention, as an investigation possessing the double interest of investing with greater reality the history of the past, and of throwing a new light on the bearing of words otherwise inexplicable. This class of words has undoubtedly been increased by startling derivations, due more to the imagination and ingenuity of their inventors, than to any certain foundation in fact. But even those which are universally recognised form a considerable category, from which we may select a few of the more interesting specimens.

We would first remind our readers of the derivations of two words applied to a peculiar form of wealth—the substantive fee and the adjective pecuniary, which, though so widely different in form, recall to us the same idea through the vehicle of different languages. They are both taken from words—the one Saxon, the other Latin—signifying “cattle,” and thus take us back to the times when flocks and herds were the chief property of our ancestors, the evidence as well as the source of their wealth. It is curious how, from this first signification, the words came to be considered applicable to wealth of any kind, and have now become almost limited in meaning to property in the form of money. To the same days of primitive simplicity we may also undoubtedly attribute the word rivals, when the pastoral dwellers by the same stream (Latin rivus) would not unfrequently be brought into unfriendly competition with each other. Some words and expressions are derived from the time when but few persons could boast of what we should consider the most elementary education. The word signature, for example, had a more literal application in the days when the art of writing was known but to a few monks and scholars, and when kings and barons, no less than their humbler followers, affixed their cross or sign to any document requiring their assent. Again, when we speak of abstruse calculations, we make unthinking reference to the primitive method of counting by means of pebbles (calculi), resorted to by the Romans.

It is remarkable how many of the terms relating to books and the external materials of literature refer primarily to the simple materials made use of by our ancestors to preserve their thoughts and the records of their lives. In book itself, it is generally acknowledged we have a proof of how a primitive race, generally believed to have been the Goths, employed the durable wood of the boc or beech-tree on which to inscribe their records. Library and kindred words in225 our own and other modern languages indicate the use of the liber or inner bark of a tree as a writing material; while code, from caudex, the trunk of a tree, points to the wooden tablets smeared with wax on which the ancients originally wrote. The thin wooden leaves or tablets were not like the volumina, rolled within one another, but, like those of our books, lay over one another. The stilus, or iron-pointed implement used for writing on these tablets, has its modern form in our style, which has come to be applied less to the manner of writing than to the mode of expression. Hence its significance has been extended so as to apply to arts other than that of composition. As advancing civilisation brought to the Western world the art of making a writing material from strips of the inner rind of the Egyptian papyrus glued together transversely, the word paper was introduced, to be applied as time went on to textures made of various substances. The Greek name of the same plant (byblos) gives us a word used with reference to books in the composite forms of bibliographer, bibliomania, and so forth. It is worthy of remark that in England, as well as in France, Germany, and other European countries, the simple form of this Greek word for book, our Bible, has come to be restricted to One Book, to the exclusion of all others. From scheda, a Latin word for a strip of papyrus rind, has also descended our schedule.

The transition from tablets to paper as a writing material has also a monument in volume, which, in spite of its significance as a roll of paper, is applied to the neatly folded books which have taken the place of that cumbrous form of literature. More than one instance of a similar retention of a word the actual signification of which is completely obsolete, might easily be adduced. The word indenture refers to an ancient precaution against forgery resorted to in the case of important contracts. The duplicate documents, of which each party retained one, were irregularly indented in precisely the same manner, so that upon comparison they might exactly tally. A vignette portrait has also lost the accompaniment which alone made the name appropriate, namely, the vine-leaves and tendrils which in the sixteenth226 and seventeenth centuries usually formed its ornamental border. The directions in the English Prayer-book, again, are still known as rubrics (Latin ruber, red), although it is now the exception rather than the rule to see them printed as originally, in red letters. Once more, we apply without any sense of incongruity the name of pen (from Latin penna, a feather) to all those modern appliances which rival, if they have not yet superseded, the quill, to which alone the word is really appropriate.

Several words come down to us derived from customs connected with election to public offices. The word candidate (from Latin candidus, white), is one of these. It was customary among the Romans for any suitor for office to appear in a peculiar dress denoting his position. His toga was loose, so that he might show the people the scars of the wounds received in the cause of the commonwealth, and artificially whitened in token of fidelity and humility. Again, ambition—a word of which the significance has been widened to embrace the most overpowering of all the passions of the human heart—refers primarily to the practice of these same candidates of repairing to the forum and other places of public resort, and their “going round” (Latin ambientes) among the people, endeavoring to ingratiate themselves by friendly words and greetings. From the ancient practice of secret voting by means of “balls,” we have the word ballot, which is erroneously applied to all secret voting, even when, as in the case of our parliamentary elections, voting-papers, and not balls, are employed. Nor must we omit another word of similar origin—that is, ostracism. This word signified among the Greeks the temporary banishment which might be inflicted by six thousand votes of the Athenian people upon any person suspected of designs against the liberty of the state. The name arose from the votes being recorded upon a bit of burnt clay or an earthenware tile shaped like a shell (Gr. ostrakon, a shell). It is closely allied to the Greek ostreon, or Latin ostrea, an oyster. A somewhat similar practice existed among the Syracusans, where it went by the name of petalism, from the leaf (Gr. petalon) on which the name of the offender was227 written. With the caprice of language, this word has entirely passed away, while the Athenian custom gives us a word expressive of social exclusion.

It has been said that there is hardly an institution of ancient times which has not some memorial in our language. The sacrifices of Greeks and Romans are commemorated in the word immolate, from the habit of throwing meal (Latin mola) upon the head of the victim. The word contemplate was probably used originally of the augurs who frequented the temples of the gods, temple meaning originally “a place cut off,” and hence “reserved,” Our word funeral is borrowed from a Latin word of similar signification, which in its turn is connected with fumus, smoke, thus giving us an allusion to the ancient habit of burning the bodies of the dead. Another word connected with the rites accorded to the dead—that is, dirge—is of Christian origin. It is a contraction of the first word of the antiphon in the office for the dead, taken from the eighth verse of the fifth Psalm: “Dirge, Dominus meus,” etc. (“Lead or direct me, O Lord,” etc.). From a Roman law-term of Greek origin we have the word paraphernalia, signifying strictly those articles of personal property, besides her jointure, which were at the disposal of a woman after the death of her husband.

From a detail of Roman military life we trace the derivation of the word subsidy, originally applied only to assistance in arms, but generalised to signify help of any kind, especially pecuniary aid. Salary meant originally “salt-money,” or money given to the soldiers for salt. With the inconsistency frequently found in language, the name survived after money had taken the place of such rations. Strictly speaking, the word stipend is liable to the same etymological objection, since the meaning of the word is a certain quantity of small coins estimated by weight.

The derivation of the word tragedy has been a fruitful field of controversy. It is undoubtedly the case that this class of drama was originally of anything but a mournful and pathetic character, and was a remnant of the winter festival in honor of the god Dionysus. The word is coined from the Greek tragos, a goat; but various reasons have been assigned228 for this connection. Some assert that a goat was the prize awarded to the best extempore poem in honor of the god; others, that the first actors were dressed like satyrs, in goat-skins. A more likely explanation is that a goat was sacrificed at the singing of the song.

It is curious to remark how many names applied to persons, in allusion either to their characters or occupations, can be traced to some custom of other days. The very word person is an example of this class of derivatives. It was first applied to the masks which it was customary for actors to wear. These covered the whole head, with an opening for the mouth, that the voice might sound through (Latin personare). The transition was easy from the disguise of the actor to the character which he represented, and the word was ultimately extended beyond the scenic language to denote the human being who has a part to play in the world. Sycophant is compounded of two Greek words (sycon, phantēs), signifying literally a “fig-shewer,” that is, one who brings figs to light by shaking the tree. It has been conjectured, also, that “fig-shewer” perhaps referred to one who informed against persons exporting figs from Attica, or plundering sacred fig-trees. Sycophant meant originally a common informer, and hence a slanderer; but it was never used in the modern sense of a flatterer. Another word of somewhat similar meaning, parasite, sprung from no such contemptible trade. The original bearers of the name were a class of priests who probably had their meals in common (Latin parasiteo, to sit beside). But very early with the Greeks the term came to be applied to one who lives at the expense of the great, gaining this position by adulation and servility. Also of Greek origin is pedagogue (paidagōgos), signifying, first, rather the slave who conducted the child’s steps to the place of instruction, than, as now, the master who guides his mind in the way of knowledge. In later times, a chancellor gained his name from the place which it was customary for him to occupy near the lattice-work screen (cancellus) which fenced off the judgment-seat from the body of the court. The same Latin derivation gives us the chancel of a church, from the fact of its being229 screened off, and what is more remarkable, the verb to cancel, that is, to strike out anything which is written by making cross-lines over it.

Several of the names of different trades will at once occur to our readers. Thus, a stationer is one who had a “station” or stand in the market-place for the sale of books, in order to attract the passers-by as customers. An upholsterer, originally upholdster, was, it would seem, an auctioneer, who “held up” his wares in order to show them off. The double -er in this word is superfluous, as in poulter-er. A haberdasher was so called from his selling a stuff called hapertas in old French, which is supposed to be from a Scandinavian word meaning pedlars’ wares, from the haversack in which they were carried.

Two military terms have curious origins. Sentinel has been traced through Italian to the Latin sentina, the hold of a ship, and is thus equivalent to the Latin sentinator, the man who pumps bilge-water out of a ship. It is curious to mark how the name of a naval official of whom constant vigilance was required has been wholly transferred to a post requiring equal watchfulness in the sister service. The other term to which we would call attention is hussar, a Hungarian word signifying “twentieth.” In explanation of this derivation, it is related that when Matthias Corvinus ascended the Hungarian throne in 1458, the dread of imminent foreign invasion caused him to command an immediate levy of troops. The cavalry he raised by a decree ordering that one man should be enrolled out of “twenty” in every village, who should provide among themselves for his subsistence and pay.

We may pass now to some words of the same nature of less honorable significance. Assassin remains in our language as the dread memorial of the domination of an odious sect in Palestine which flourished in the thirteenth century, the Hashishin (drinkers of hashish, an intoxicating drink or decoction of the Cannabis indica, a kind of hemp). The “Old Man of the Mountain” roused his followers’ spirits by help of this drink, and sent them to stab his enemies, especially the leading Crusaders. The emissaries of this body waged for two hundred years a treacherous warfare230 alike against Jew, Christian, and orthodox Mohammedan. Among the distinguished men who fell victims to their murderous daggers were the Marquis of Monteferrat in 1192, Louis of Bavaria in 1213, and the Kahn of Tartary some forty years later. The buccaneers, who at a later date were hardly less dreaded, derived their name from the boucan or gridiron on which the original settlers at Hayti were accustomed to broil or smoke for future consumption the flesh of the animals they had killed for their skins. The word is said to be Caribbean, and to mean “a place where meat is smoke-dried.”

Some of the contemptuous terms in our language have been attributed to remarkable origins. In scamp, we have a deserter from the field of battle (Latin ex, and campus), a parallel word to decamp; and in scoundrel, “a loathsome fellow,” “one to scunner or be disgusted at.” The old word scunner, still used as a term of strong dislike in Lowland Scotch, meant also “to shrink through fear,” so that scunner-el is equivalent to one who shrinks, a coward. Poltroon is “one who lies in bed,” instead of bestirring himself.

Several words have passed from a literal to a figurative sense, and have thus become much wider in signification. Thus, villain originally meant merely a farm-servant; pagan, a dweller in a village; knave, a boy; idiot, a private person; heathen, a dweller on a heath; gazette, a small coin; and brat, a rag or clout, especially a child’s bib or apron. Treacle meant an antidote against the bites of serpents; intoxicate, to drug or poison; coward, a bob-tailed hare; and butcher, a slaughterer merely of he-goats. Brand and stigmatise still mean to mark with infamy, although the practical significance of the words is now chiefly a matter of history. Under the Romans, a slave who had proved dishonest, or had attempted to run away from his master, was branded with the three letters F U R, a thief or rascal; while it may not be generally known that in England the custom of branding the cheek of a felon with an F was only abolished by statute some sixty years ago.

These examples of a class of words denoting traces of customs of other days, might easily be largely multiplied; but231 enough has been said to remind our readers of one aspect of the historical value of our language—that is, the impress of the thoughts and practices of past generations stamped upon the words which are used in the familiar intercourse of life.—Chambers’s Journal.



It is certainly not necessary that to every play, as to every fable, a moral easily deducible from it should be attached; though every play that presents a true picture of life must almost as a matter of course teach some lesson. Othello is the drama of jealousy, Macbeth the drama of ambition, Romeo and Juliet the drama of passionate love; but it was not to show the danger of jealousy, of ambition, or of passionate love, that these dramas were written. A picture of the “green-eyed monster,” in all its hideousness, occurs in the first; a reflection on the futility of “vaulting ambition” in the second; and a warning of the “violent ends” produced by “violent delights” in the third. The moral purpose of the play, supposing such a purpose to exist, is not, however, in either case made obvious. In numbers of the most successful plays of modern France, on the other hand, we find a moral thesis adopted beforehand and deliberately worked out by dramatic means. This moral thesis does not necessarily embody a high moral notion. It may be, and often is, paradoxical in character. The one thing essential is that it shall assert a principle, and present a case of as dramatic a character as possible in illustration of it. The moral which, as before remarked, belongs to every incident in life, is not always an evident one; nor in the finest works of art does the moral ever lie conspicuously on the surface. But if a vivacious comedy or a dramatic play is specially intended to teach or rather to prove something, it is as well that there should be no mistake about it; and in these cases the audience is generally informed in the first act of what in the succeeding acts the author proposes to demonstrate. A French drama of incidents has often no moral beyond the familiar—not to say vulgar—one that233 virtue prospers and vice does not; and though each of Victor Hugo’s dramas teaches some special lesson it might sometimes be difficult, but for the preface, to discover it. Numbers of French dramas, however, deal not only with the facts of life but also in an explicit manner with its theories, and though often immoral are constructed on what may be called a moral basis.

In that edifying work, the Pink Dominos, for instance, the complicated and certainly very ingenious intrigue which forms the substance of the piece has its origin in an argument between two ladies, one a thorough Parisian, the other a simple-minded and rather backward provincial, as to the true nature and appropriate treatment of husbands. A husband, according to the Parisian lady, is never perfect; and the wise wife is she who pardons his “slight slips ’gainst bonos mores,” and, to avoid driving him to humiliating subterfuges and denials, pretends even not to see them. In the long run a husband will be grateful to such a wife, and she may be sure in a general way of his fidelity and affection; whereas to a wife too vigilant and too implacable he will be obliged to behave with a duplicity which, reacting upon his own sensitive nature, will make him despise himself and detest her.

A good many modern French plays are in fact pamphlets in dramatic form; and some of them have suffered as works of art from having been too evidently written with a purpose. The dramatist who wishes to prove the truth of a proposition put forward by himself will of course make his characters act as it is necessary they should act in order to give the desired result. He must not violate probability in too flagrant a manner, and his play will scarcely succeed if the dénouement seems altogether unnatural; but even while observing these234 conditions he may, and usually does, so mould his personages as to make them quite exceptional; though it is with these exceptional personages that he works towards establishing his general rule. The interesting thing, however, in connection with the moral and philosophical plays of modern France is not any lesson that they teach, but the fact that such plays exist, showing as it does that the theatre in France is much more than a place of amusement. It is a place of discussion, in which every question that agitates society is treated, and often in several different pieces from several different points of view. Absurdities of the day (such as those of æstheticism) are satirised no doubt on our own stage. But the social questions dealt with on the French stage are often of a far graver character than any connected with dress. This was the case even with M. Sardou’s Famille Benoiton, notoriously a costume piece, and dependent in a large measure for its success on its amusing exaggerations of the exaggerated costumes of the day. But it was more than that. It touched upon many other follies akin to that of exaggeration in dress; and was really a stage echo of M. Dupin’s celebrated pamphlet on Le Luxe effréné des Femmes. M. Sardou’s exhilarating picture of the unbridled luxury of women called for no reply, and in fact admitted of none. His eloquent apostrophe to white muslin, “O sainte mousseline,” was criticised in the press on economical grounds, the work of “getting up” a muslin dress being neither so simple nor so inexpensive as M. Sardou had imagined. But admitting the existence of the evils that he attacked it was impossible to defend them. Similarly when, in the lively days of 1848, La Propriété c’est le Vol was brought out, and the serpent of Eden was presented on the stage with the hat and spectacles and the very physiognomy of M. Proudhon, it was not likely that any dramatist would take the part of the Socialist and seek to represent individualism as ridiculous. The “right to labor” is asserted in this same piece by a dentist without patients, who insists as a matter of principle on pulling out the teeth of the first person he meets. This again could be met by no counter-presentation from a socialistic point of view, nor would the Government have235 permitted it; for despite the article in the Constitution of 1830, declaring that “the censorship is abolished and cannot be re-established,” it has never been found possible to dispense in France with stage censorship, which, temporarily set aside as a result of some revolutionary movement, has always been re-established before long. So necessary, indeed, had it become under the second French Republic, to restrain the Aristophanic tendencies of the newly emancipated dramatists, that the censorship went to extremes, and not content with prohibiting political subjects interfered with social subjects also. Thus it was under the second French Republic that the younger Dumas’ sympathetic picture of the woman who has gone astray (La Traviata, as she is considerately called in the Italian version of the play) was objected to by the censorship, nor was it until the Empire that La Dame aux Camélias could be brought out.

It would probably be a mistake to see in this piece any deliberate attempt to raise up the fallen woman. The play was only a dramatic version of a novel by the same author for which the subject had been furnished by the life and death of a certain Marie Duplessis—whose story Dickens, becoming acquainted with it during a visit to Paris, had at one time proposed to treat. La Dame aux Camélias was in any case destined to achieve such popularity that for a time the class to which the heroine belongs became invested with unusual interest. Vice by being represented as consumptive lost all its grossness; but no sooner had the play attained its maximum of success than the discovery was made that it rested on a wrong moral basis. It “rehabilitated the courtesan;” and M. Théodore Barrière, assisted by the inevitable collaborateur, undertook to set matters right by exhibiting that objectionable personage in her true colors. The outcome of this undertaking was Les Filles de Marbre: too fine a name for them according to Théophile Gautier, who preferred as a substitute Les Filles de Platre. Instead of dying of love, complicated by phthisis, with claims to forgiveness based on her having “loved much,” the leading lady of M. Barrière’s piece reduced her lover to poverty and despair,236 unconsciously ruined his talent, and consciously insulted him when she could no longer extort money from him. The God this young woman avowedly worshipped was not love but gold. She was without pity, without remorse; nor did the author think fit to place in contrast with her a more amiable specimen of depravity—even as Dumas has placed side by side with his tender-hearted Marguerite Gauthier, the selfish and ignoble Prudence. Marco, the chief of the Girls of Marble, is doubtless a much more common character in the world than Marguerite Gauthier; and Balzac, who knew the world, had anticipated in only one of his characters—the unfortunate Coralie—all the best points in Marguerite Gauthier, whereas he had anticipated in half-a-dozen different characters, from Madame de Marneffe downward, the worst points in Marco. But though Marco may have been a good deal truer to nature than Marguerite Gauthier she was far less interesting; and the picture of a fallen woman saved by an access of genuine feeling was much more agreeable than that of a degraded one dragging to his destruction a miserably weak man.

The Girls of Marble seemed, however, to M. Léon Laya too hard, too cold; and to show that women might lead irregular lives, and yet be kind and generous, he wrote Les Cœurs d’Or. Here two young women, attached by anti-matrimonial ties to two young men, find that they are preventing them from making suitable marriages in a decent sphere of life. The young men know what, in a worldly point of view, they ought to do, but are restrained by good feeling and the remembrance of past affection from doing it. The young women, however, resolve to sacrifice themselves. They take the initiative in breaking off the connection, and by doing so prove that they have “hearts of gold.” This sentimental piece, written in the style called “honnête,” did not meet with anything like the success of the highly emotional Dame aux Camélias, or of the cynical Filles de Marbre; nor did it close the stage discussion as to the goodness or badness of a particular class of women—a discussion which, indeed, might have been carried on for an indefinite time, seeing237 that the class in question comprises a great number of different specimens, from Cleopatra—that “reine entretenue,” as Heine called her—to the Esther of Balzac’s Splendeurs et Misères d’une Courtisane.

Then arose the question—suggested, no doubt, by M. Laya’s Cœurs d’Or—whether a woman really possessing a heart of gold ought to be abandoned whenever it suited the convenience or the caprice of her lover to get rid of her. M. Léon Gozlan took one view of the matter and M. Emile Augier the other; the former developing his ideas on the subject in a single act, the latter in a full-sized drama. In Léon Gozlan’s charming little piece, La Fin du Roman, ou Comment on se débarrasse d’une Maîtresse, a young man is represented as so hopelessly attached to a young woman whom he has omitted to marry, that his friends, as “men of the world,” think it necessary to speak to him on the subject. The attachment has lasted a considerable time, and it is explained to him that it will be mere weakness on his part to allow it to continue any longer. He is invited to join a travelling party to Italy, and is mockingly told that he will want to bring his mistress with him. He repels the taunt, and, in response to the suggestion of one of his friends, makes a bet on the subject. The separation having been decided on, a division of household effects takes place. Difficulties arise about the appropriation of certain objects to which a sentimental interest belongs, and which each, from regard for the other, wishes to retain. A favorite dog is disputed for; and when it is arranged that he shall be the property of the one he goes to most willingly, the faithful animal hesitates between the two, and maintains an attitude of strict but friendly neutrality. Lastly, there is a child’s miniature which neither will consent to part with; and thus, little by little, the impossibility of the separation is made manifest. The young man takes the young woman with him to Italy. But he wins his bet all the same, for he is accompanied not by his mistress but by his wife.

As a counterpart to this work, in which an immoral situation is rectified by the simplest means, may be taken M. Emile Augier’s Mariage d’Olympe, in238 which a similar situation is, by similar means, made to yield terrible and tragic results. Only M. Augier’s young woman happens to be not at all the same sort of person as M. Gozlan’s young woman; so that whereas to abandon the one would have been culpable and foolish, to introduce the other into decent society was reckless and criminal.

Dumas showed before long a disposition to turn, not against his own views, but of views supposed to be his. Whatever allowances might be made for a woman in the position of Marguerite Gauthier, a real wife ought not, according to his very original idea, to deceive her husband. He exhibited, in Diane de Lys, a lady who took this liberty, and who was shot in consequence by her justly indignant spouse.

M. Dumas’ Fils Naturel, in which a father disavows his son, until at last the young man finds himself in such a position that he can in his turn disavow his father, gave rise to a good many pieces on the same subject. The half-a-dozen or dozen plays in which it is shown that irregular relations between men and women are likely to have awkward consequences, are, as studies of social problems, scarcely worth dwelling upon. Every one knows that (as in La Fiammina) the son of a prima donna who has misconducted herself may find difficulties in his way when he proposes to marry a girl whose parents are eminently respectable; and we need no sensational dramatist to teach us (as in Coralie), that an officer whose mother has amassed a large fortune by the most shameful means may, in spite of his personal merits, meet with slights and indignities.

M. Emile Augier’s Gendre de M. Poirier started the son-in-law as a dramatic subject. In this comedy, one of the best of modern times, a rich bourgeois has married his daughter to a penniless aristocrat, who directs the household in such a sumptuous style that the father-in-law finds himself in a fair way of being ruined. To this a sort of counterpart was furnished by M. Augier himself in Un Beau Mariage; which, while sparing fathers-in-law, exposes the thoughtlessness of some mothers-in-law who expect their daughters’ husbands, not only to take charge of their affairs, but to accompany them to evening par239ties and balls. This to a serious-minded young man would doubtless be a great trial; and in M. Augier’s comedy the end of the matter is that the husband leaves the house of his rich mother-in-law, and, followed at a very dramatic crisis by his wife, supports himself by the exercise of his talents as a chemist, mechanician, and inventor. The mother-in-law, even when she possesses the advantage of being rich, is not a popular character on the French stage; nor, apparently, on the Spanish stage either. There is, at all events, a modern Spanish comedy, called The Meadow Coat (the rough coat, that is to say, of the untrained, unclipped horse), in which, as in Un Beau Mariage, a rustic husband who rises early meets, on coming down in the morning, his wife and mother returning from a late ball. In M. Augier’s corresponding scene the husband has been reading and writing all night when the two ladies in their ball dresses suddenly burst upon his solitude.

Le Gendre de M. Poirier, too, was the progenitor, or at least the caller-into-existence, of another son-in-law piece called Les Petites Mains, in which a son-in-law of fashionable tastes and habits, but without money of his own, is harshly treated by a father-in-law, who insists upon his adopting some occupation, and who ultimately, by dint of persecution and misrepresentation, separates him from his wife and forces him to become clerk and touter to a house agent. The moral of this amusing little comedy is not quite apparent to the unspectacled eye. The semi-burlesque proposition on which it rests is, however, to the effect that men with large hands are intended by nature to make money, and men with small hands to spend it. The piece belongs in any case to the son-in-law series, in which, by its entertaining qualities, it may claim to hold an honorable place.

The latest social subject dealt with by French dramatists has been the fertile one of divorce, which M. Sardou has treated both seriously and comically. Before Odette and Divorçons, he had, however, written the less known Daniel Rochat, which ends with a divorce in Switzerland, the divorced persons being of course citizens of the Helvetian Re240public; and though the main subject of Daniel Rochat is the union, followed immediately afterwards by the separation, of two persons who are prevented from living together as husband and wife by incompatibility of religious convictions, it may all the same be classed with M. Sardou’s other divorce pieces. The author lets it be seen that the mistake made by Daniel Rochat can easily be remedied in Switzerland, a country, where divorce is easy; whereas it would have been without remedy in France, where divorce was at that time impossible. The case, however, though an effective one for the dramatist—at least for such a dramatist as M. Sardou—is of too exceptional a character to merit attention from the dramatic moralist or legist.

The practice of treating subjects of the day in dramatic form is one which, from a purely artistic point of view, cannot be commended. The process involves almost necessarily forced motives and distorted characters. Works, too, produced on this system must, from the nature of the case, be of ephemeral interest. Who, for instance, now that France, like England, Germany, and the United States, has a law of divorce, can care for pieces in which the interest turns upon the iniquity of treating as indissoluble every contract, to whatever painful consequences it may have led, which has once been signed in presence of Monsieur le Maire? In Shakespeare and Molière so little are affairs of the day touched upon (without ever being made the subject of an entire work) that a reader might find it difficult to determine from internal evidence at what period either of these writers lived. The characteristic talk of Les Précieuses is about the only indication in the case of Molière of the time to which the piece belongs. There is scarcely a work, on the other hand, from the pen of M. Sardou (who may be taken as the representative comedy writer of modern France) which does not bear the impress and color of the time, and which (especially in the case of his later pieces) does not in a very direct manner reproduce the incidents or reflect the ideas of the life around him. If immediate and striking success with a Paris audience be the author’s aim, it must be admitted that241 M. Sardou’s method is more effective than that of his predecessor, Scribe, whose comedies are masterpieces of ingenuity, but are for the most part independent of place and time. Many of Scribe’s pieces have been quite as successful in England as in France. This cannot be said of any of Sardou’s plays, with the solitary exception of “Les Pattes de Mouche,” one of his earliest works, written at a time when Scribe was still his model. But so far as Paris at the present moment is concerned, M. Sardou hits the mark, and hits it harder than ever Scribe did.

The stage in France would be used for the discussion of political as well as social questions, did the censorship permit it. Of this we had a sign in M. Sardou’s Rabagas, produced soon after the Commune, in various pieces brought out during the revolutionary days of 1848, and in Les Cosaques, which, after being previously rejected by the censorship, was authorised for representation just before the outbreak of the Crimean war, when, as a matter of policy, antagonism to Russia was encouraged and stimulated by the Government. As a rule, however, no performance likely to call forth manifestations of political feeling, or to give offence to a friendly State, or to its people, is allowed. M. Sardou’s L’oncle Sam was objected to as calculated to hurt the feelings of the Americans; and the authors of a little piece called L’Etrangère—not to be confounded with the five-act comedy of the same name—were required to change it because (as set forth in a document which figures among the Papiers secrets de l’Empire) numbers of foreigners visit Paris and might be annoyed at seeing the leading character of the very objectionable little piece put forward as a typical lady from abroad! All social questions of the day have, however, for the last thirty years been left freely to the dramatist to treat as he may think fit. Or it may be that such questions have always been left to him, and that it is only during the last quarter of a century or so that he has thought fit to occupy himself with them.

The true character of women who have none was the first theme to be treated controversially, with examples in lieu of arguments; then the desira242bility of getting married in certain cases where the marriage ceremony had been dispensed with; then, in due time, the rights of natural children and their compromising effect in connection with mothers proposing to lead a new life. The son-in-law question—of such slight interest to Englishmen—had meantime sprung up; and the quiet, studious son-in-law, bullied by his wife’s mother; the fashionably extravagant son-in-law, devouring the substance of his wife’s father; the idle but well-meaning son-in-law, misunderstood by every one, were turn by turn exhibited. Finally, the divorce question produced a whole crop of pieces, serious and comic; and it may be that the treatment of this question by a succession of dramatists, who dwelt on the misery and disgrace resulting from marriages practically dissolved, but legally indissoluble, had some effect in hastening the adoption of M. Naquet’s Bill. The cruel position of a husband chained to a disreputable wife, and unable to set himself free, has been shown in one of M. Sardou’s most effective pieces, which, thirty years ago, when England also was without a divorce law, would have been as effective in England as in France. But it was difficult for English audiences to realise the situation; and now that continued wedlock between husbands and wives who hate one another is no longer enforced by law, the difficulty for French audiences may soon be equally great. With the passing of M. Naquet’s Divorce Bill such pieces as the Odette of M. Sardou, the Diane de Lys of M. Alexandre Dumas the younger, and the Fiammina of M. Mario Uchard lost all significance. When the pressure of the matrimonial knot has become quite unbearable it is now no longer necessary either that the wife should retire to a convent or that the husband should be shot. The difficulty is solved by the simpler, though less dramatic, means of a divorce. It is matter of publicity that immediately after M. Naquet’s Bill became law the author of La Fiammina took precisely this view of his own matrimonial trouble.

There has been a recent instance, too, in Germany, of a subject of the day—this time a serious one—being dealt with by a dramatist. Die Gräfin Lea, a play by Herr Rudolf Lindau, contains243 a striking exhibition of that prejudice against everything Jewish, to which in Germany the high-sounding name of anti-Semiticism has been given. In a very ingenious succession of scenes he shows that the widow, who by reason not only of her Jewish faith, but also of her low origin, is deemed by her husband’s relatives unworthy to succeed to his nobiliary estate, is an excellent and charming woman, who would not be out of place even in the very highest position. The tribunal before which the case is brought takes just this view of the matter, and the Countess Lea triumphs. But the dramatists argument in favor of the Jews is somewhat weak; and he leaves us to suppose that if the Countess Lea had been an ill-bred, commonplace Jewess, instead of a Jewess of great refinement, the court might equitably have given judgment against her. A reply to Herr Lindau’s piece, such as in France it would certainly have elicited, might easily have been written. But in Germany, as in England and all countries except France, the stage has not enough hold upon society to cause social questions to be often discussed in stage pieces. In France, on the other hand, the public takes such an interest in the theatre that the “boards” are almost to them what the platform is to the English and the Americans.

The production of a whole series of pieces on one particular subject of debate implies a continuous attention on the part of the intelligent public such as no stage but that of Paris—and the Paris stage only in modern times—seems ever to have enjoyed. Until the end of the last century the French dramatist was poorly paid, and as dramatist had little offered to him in the way of distinction beyond the hollow applause of the public. It was not until Beaumarchais obtained the decree fixing the remuneration to dramatic authors at so much per cent. on the gross receipts that writers of all kinds, and of every degree of eminence, began to occupy themselves with the stage; and it was not until all the best literary talent in the country had thus been attracted to the drama that the French Academy opened its doors to dramatists as such. Victor Hugo was a poet first and a dramatist afterwards. The elder Dumas was244 a dramatist first and a novelist afterwards—and he was never admitted to the Academy at all. The election of Scribe, a dramatist, and virtually nothing else, was quite an event. Since that time, however, the entry of a highly successful dramatist of long-established reputation into the Academy has come to be looked upon as a matter of course. The last dramatist elected as such was a very admirable farce writer, M. Labiche, author of Un Chapeau de Paille d’Italie, Le Voyage de M. Perrichon, Les Petites Mains, and other similar pieces, full of humor, but without the least academical pretensions.—Fortnightly Review.



It is a long time since I quoted Bishop Wilson, but he is full of excellent things, and one of his apophthegms came into my mind the other day as I read an angry and unreasonable expostulation addressed to myself. Bishop Wilson’s apophthegm is this: Truth provokes those whom it does not convert. “Miracles,” I was angrily reproached for saying, “do not happen, and more and more of us are becoming convinced that they do not happen; nevertheless, what is really best and most valuable in the Bible is independent of miracles. For the sake of this I constantly read the Bible myself, and I advise others to read it also.” One would have thought that at a time when the French newspapers are attributing all our failures and misfortunes to our habit of reading the Bible, and when our own Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal is protesting that the golden rule is a delusion and a snare for practical men, the friends of the old religion of Christendom would have had a kindly feeling towards any one—whether he admitted miracles or not—who maintained that the root of the matter for all of us was in the Bible, and that to the use of the Bible we should still cling. But no; Truth provokes those whom it does not convert; so angry are some good people at being told that miracles do not happen, that if we say this, they cannot bear to have us using the Bible at all, or recommending the Bible. Either take it and recommend it with its miracles, they say, or else leave it alone, and let its enemies find confronting them none but orthodox defenders of it like ourselves!

The success of these orthodox champions is not commensurate with their246 zeal; and so, in spite of all rebuke, I find myself, as a lover of the Bible, perpetually tempted to substitute for their line of defence a different method, however it may provoke them. Christmas comes round again, and brings the most beautiful and beloved festival of the Christian year. What is Christmas, and what does it say to us? Our French friends will reply that Christmas is an exploded legend, and says to us nothing at all. The Guardian, on the other hand, lays it down that Christmas commemorates the miracle of the Incarnation, and that the Incarnation is the fundamental truth for Christians. Which is right, the Guardian or our French friends? Or are neither the one nor the other of them right, and is the truth about Christmas something quite different from what either of them imagine? The inquiry is profitable; and I kept Christmas, this last winter, by following it.

Who can ever lose out of his memory the roll and march of those magnificent words of prophecy, which, ever since we can remember, we have heard read in church on Christmas-day, and have been taught to regard as the grand and wonderful prediction of “the miracle of the Incarnation?” “The Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, until he shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.” We all know the orthodox interpretation. Im247manuel is Jesus Christ, to be born of the Virgin Mary; the meaning of the name Immanuel, God with us, signifies the union of the divine nature and ours in Christ, God and man in one Person. “Butter and honey shall he eat”—the Christ shall be very man, he shall have a true human body, he shall be sustained, while he is growing up, with that ordinary nourishment wherewith human children are wont to be fed. And the sign that the promised birth of Immanuel, God and man in one Person, from the womb of a virgin, shall really happen, is this: the two kings of Syria and Israel who are now, in the eighth century before Christ, threatening the kingdom of Judah, shall be overthrown, and their country devastated. “For before the child shall know”—before this promised coming of Jesus Christ, and as a sign to guarantee it, the kings of Syria and Israel shall be conquered and overthrown. And conquered and overthrown they presently were.

But then comes the turn of criticism. The study of history, and of all documents on which history is based, is diligently prosecuted; a number of learned, patient, impartial investigators read and examine the prophets. It becomes apparent what the prophets really mean to say. It becomes certain that in the famous words read on Christmas-day the prophet Isaiah was not meaning to speak of Jesus Christ to be born more than seven centuries later. It becomes certain that his Immanuel is a prince of Judah to be born in a year or two’s time. It becomes certain that there is no question at all of a child miraculously conceived and born of a virgin; what the prophet says is that a young woman, a damsel, at that moment unmarried, shall have time, before certain things happen, to be married and to bear a son, who shall be called Immanuel. There is no question in the name Immanuel of a union of the human and divine natures, of God and man in one Person. “God present with his people and protecting them” is what the prophet means the name to signify. In “Butter and honey shall he eat,” there is no question of the Christ’s being very man, with a true human body. What the prophet intends to say is, that when the prince Immanuel, presently to be248 born, reaches adult age, agriculture shall have ceased in the desolated realm of Judah; the land, overrun by enemies, shall have returned to a wild state, the inhabitants shall live on the produce of their herds and on wild honey. But before this comes to pass, before the visitation of God’s wrath upon the kingdom of Judah, and while the prince Immanuel is still but a little child, not as yet able to discern betwixt good and evil, “to refuse the evil and choose the good,” the present enemies of Judah, the kings of Syria and Israel, shall be overthrown and their land made desolate. Finally, this overthrow and desolation are not, with the prophet, the sign and guarantee of Immanuel’s coming. Immanuel is himself intended as a sign; all the rest is accompaniment of this sign, not proof of it.

This, the true and sure sense of those noble words of prophecy which we hear read on Christmas-day, is obscured by slight errors in the received translation, and comes out clearer when the errors are corrected:

“The Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the damsel shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Milk-curd and honey shall he eat, when he shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good.

For before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land shall be forsaken, whose two kings make thee afraid.”

Syria and Israel shall be made desolate in Immanuel’s infancy, says the prophet; but the chastisement and desolation of Judah also shall follow later, by the time Immanuel is a youth. Further yet, however, Isaiah carries his prophecy of Immanuel and of the events of his life. In his manhood, the prophet continues, Immanuel, the promised child of the royal house of David, shall reign in righteousness over a restored, far-spreading, prosperous, and peaceful kingdom of the chosen people. “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom.” This completion of the prophecy, too, we hear read in church on Christmas-day. Naturally, the received and erroneous interpretation, which finds, as we have seen, in the first part of the prophecy “the miracle of the Incarnation,” governs our understanding of the249 latter part also. But in the latter part, as well as in the former, the prophet undoubtedly has in view, not a scion of the house of David to be born and to reign seven centuries later, but a scion of the house of David to be born immediately; a scion who in his youth should see Judah afflicted, in his manhood should reign over it restored and triumphant.

Well, then, the “miracle of the Incarnation,” the preternatural conception and birth of Jesus Christ, which the Church celebrates at Christmas, and which is, says the Guardian, the fundamental truth for Christians, gets no support at all from the famous prophecy which is commonly supposed to announce it. Need I add that it gets no support at all from any single word of Jesus Christ himself, from any single word in the letters of Paul, Peter, James, or John? The miraculous conception and birth of Jesus is a legend, a lovely and attractive legend, which soon formed itself, naturally and irresistibly, around the origin of the Saviour; a legend which by the end of the first century had established itself, and which passed into two out of the four Gospel narratives that in the century following acquired canonicity. In the same way, a precisely similar legend formed itself around the origin of Plato, although to the popular imagination Plato was an object incomparably less fitted to offer stimulus. The father of Plato, said the Athenian story, was upon his marriage warned by Apollo in a dream that his wife, Perictiona, was about to bring forth a babe divinely conceived, and that he was to live apart from her until the child had been born. Among the students of philosophy, who were Plato’s disciples, this story, although authorized by his family, languished and died. Had Plato founded a popular religion the case would have been very different. Then the legend would have survived and thriven; and for Plato, too, there would have certainly been a world-famous “miracle of the Incarnation” investing his origin. But Plato, as Bossuet says, formed fewer disciples than Paul formed churches. It was these churches, this multitude, it was the popular masses with their receptivity, with their native tendencies of mind, heart, and soul,250 which made the future of the Christian legend of the miracle of the Incarnation.

But because the story of the miracle of the Incarnation is a legend, and because two of the canonical Gospels propound the legend seriously, basing it upon an evidently fantastic use of the words of prophecy, and because the festival of Christmas adopts and consecrates this legend, are we to cast the Gospels aside, and cast the celebration of Christmas aside; or else to give up our common sense, and to say that things are not what they are, and that Isaiah really predicted the preternatural conception and birth of Jesus Christ, and that the miracle of the Incarnation really happened as the Guardian supposes, and that Christians, in commemorating it, commemorates a solid fact of history, and a fact which is the fundamental truth for Christians? By no means. The solid fact of history marked by Christmas is the birth of Jesus, the miraculous circumstances with which that birth is invested and presented are legendary. The solid fact in itself, the birth of Jesus with its inexhaustible train of consequences, its “unspeakable riches,” is foundation enough, and more than enough, for the Christmas festival; yet even the legend and miracle investing the fact, and now almost inseparable from it, have, moreover, their virtue of symbol.

Symbol is a dangerous word, and we ought to be very cautious in employing it. People have a difficulty in owning that a thing is unhistorical, and often they try to get out of the difficulty by saying that the thing is symbolical. Thus they think to save the credit of whoever delivered the thing in question, as if he had himself intended to deliver it as symbolical and figurative, not as historical. They save it, however, at the expense of truth. In very many cases, undoubtedly, when this shift of symbol is resorted to for saving the credit of a narrator of legend, the narrator had not himself the least notion that what he propounded was figure, but fully imagined himself to be propounding historical fact. The Gospel narrators of the miracle of the Incarnation were in this position of mind; they did not in the least imagine themselves to be speaking symbolically. Neverthe251less, a thing may have important value as symbol, although its utterer never told or meant it symbolically. Let us see how this is so with the Christian legend of the Incarnation.

In times and among minds where science is not a power, and where the preternatural is daily and familiarly admitted, the pureness and elevation of a great teacher strike powerfully the popular imagination, and the natural, simple, reverential explanation of his superiority is at once that he was born of a virgin. Such a legend is the people’s genuine translation for the fact of his unique pureness. In his birth, as well as in his life and teaching, this chosen one has been pure; has been unlike other men, and above them. Signal and splendid is the pureness of Plato; noble his serene faith, that “the conclusion has long been reached that dissoluteness is to be condemned, in that it brings about the aggrandisement of the lower side in our nature, and the defeat of the higher.” And this lofty pureness of Plato impressed the imagination of his contemporaries, and evoked the legend of his having been born of a virgin. But Plato was, as I have already said, a philosopher, not the founder of a religion; his personality survived, but for the intellect mainly, not the affections and imagination. It influenced and affected the few, not the many—not the masses which love and foster legend. On the figure of Jesus also the stamp of a pureness unique and divine was seen to dwell. The remark has often been made that the pre-eminent, the winning, the irresistible Christian virtues, were charity and chastity. Perhaps the chastity was an even more winning virtue than the charity; it offered to the Pagan world, at any rate, relief from a more oppressive, a more consuming, a more intolerable bondage. Chief among the beatitudes shone this pair: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, and, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God; and of these two, the second blessing may have been even the greater boon. Jesus, then, the bringer of this precious blessing, Jesus, the high exemplar and ideal of pureness, was born of a virgin. And what Jesus brought was not a philosophy, but a religion;252 he gave not to the few, but to the masses, to the very recipients whom the tender legend of his being born of the gracious Virgin, and laid in the humble manger, would suit best; who might most surely be trusted to seize upon it, not to let it go, to delight in it and magnify it for ever.

So the legend of the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus, like the legend of the miraculous conception and birth of Plato, is the popular homage to a high ideal of pureness, it is the multitude’s way of expressing for this its reverence. Of such reverence the legend is a genuine symbol. But the importance of the symbol is proportional to the scale on which it acts. And even when it acts on a very large scale, still its virtue will depend on these two things further: the worth of the idea to which it does homage, and the extent to which its recipients have succeeded in penetrating through the form of the legend to this idea.

And first, then, as to the innate truth and worth of that idea of pureness to which the legend of the miracle of the Incarnation does homage. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God, says Jesus. God hath not called us to impureness, but unto holiness, adds his apostle. Perhaps there is no doctrine of Christianity which is exposed to more trial amongst us now, certainly there is none which will be exposed, so far as from present appearances one can judge, to more trial in the immediate future, than this. Let us return to nature, is a rising and spreading cry again now, as it was at the Renascence. And the Christian pureness has so much which seems to contradict nature, and which is menaced by the growing desire and determination to return to nature! The virtue has suffered more than most virtues in the hands of hypocrites; and with hypocrites and hypocrisy, as a power in English life, there is an increasing impatience. But the virtue has been mishandled, also, by the sincere; by the sincere, but who are at the same time over-rigid, formal, sour, narrow-minded; and these, too, are by no means in the ascendant among us just now. Evidently, again, it has been mishandled by many of the so-called saints, and by the asceticism of the253 Catholic Church; for these have so managed things, very often, as to turn and rivet the thoughts upon the very matter from which pureness would avert them and get them clear, and have to that extent served to endanger and impair the virtue rather than forward it. Then, too, with the growing sense that gaiety and pleasure are legitimate demands of nature, that they add to life and to our sum of force instead of, as strict people have been wont to say, taking from it—with this growing sense comes also the multiplication everywhere of the means of gaiety and pleasure, the spectacle ever more prominent of them and catching the eye more constantly, an ever larger number of applicants pressing forward to share in them. All this solicits the senses, makes them bold, eager and stirring. At the same time the force of old sanctions of self-restraint diminishes and gives way. The belief in a magnified and non-natural man, out of our sight, but proved by miracles to exist and to be all-powerful, who by his commands has imposed on us the obligation of self-restraint, and who will punish us after death in endless fire if we disobey, will reward us in Paradise if we submit—this belief is rapidly and irrecoverably losing its hold on men’s minds. If pureness or any other virtue is still to subsist, it must subsist nowadays not by authority of this kind enforcing it in defiance of nature, but because nature herself turns out to be really for it.

Mr. Traill has reminded us, in the interesting volume on Coleridge which he has recently published, how Coleridge’s disciple, Mr. Green, devoted the last years of his life to elaborating, in a work entitled “Spiritual Philosophy: founded on the Teaching of the late Samuel Taylor Coleridge,” the great Coleridgian position “that Christianity, rightly understood, is identical with the highest philosophy, and that, apart from all question of historical evidence, the essential doctrines of Christianity are necessary and eternal truths of reason—truths which man, by the vouchsafed light of nature and without aid from documents or tradition, may always and everywhere discover for himself.” We shall not find this position established or much elucidated in254 “Spiritual Philosophy,” We shall not find it established or much elucidated in the works of Coleridge’s immediate disciples. It was a position of extreme novelty to take at that time. Firmly to occupy it, resolutely to establish it, required great boldness and great lucidity. Coleridge’s position made demands upon his disciples which at that time it was almost impossible they should fulfil; it embarrassed them, forced them into vagueness and obscurity. The most eminent and popular among them, Mr. Maurice, seems never quite to have himself known what he himself meant, and perhaps never really quite wished to know. But neither did the master, as I have already said, establish his own position; there were obstacles in his own character, as well as in his circumstances, in the time. Nevertheless it is rightly called the great Coleridgian position. It is at the bottom of all Coleridge’s thinking and teaching; it is true; it is deeply important; and by virtue of it Coleridge takes rank, so far as English thought is concerned, as an initiator and founder. The “great Coleridgian position,” that apart from all question of the evidence for miracles, and of the historical quality of the Gospel narratives, the essential matters of Christianity are necessary and eternal facts of nature or truths of reason, is henceforth the key to the whole defence of Christianity. When a Christian virtue is presented to us as obligatory, the first thing, therefore, to be asked is whether our need of it is a fact of nature.

Here the appeal is to experience and testimony. His own experience may in the end be the surest teacher for every man; but meanwhile, to confirm or deny his instinctive anticipations and to start him on his way, testimony as to the experience of others, general experience, is of the most serious weight and value. We have had the testimony of Plato to the necessity of pureness, that virtue on which Christianity lays so much stress. Here is yet another testimony out of the same Greek world—a world so alien to the world in which Christianity arose; here is the testimony of Sophocles.255 “Oh that my lot might lead me in the path of holy pureness of thought and deed, the path which august laws ordain, laws which in the highest heaven had their birth;... the power of God is mighty in them, and groweth not old.” That is the testimony of the poet Sophocles. Coming down to our own times, we have again a like testimony from the greatest poet of our times, Goethe; a testimony the more important, because Goethe, like Sophocles, was in his own life what the world calls by no means a purist. “May the idea of pureness” says Goethe, “extending itself even to the very morsel which I take into my mouth, become ever clearer and more luminous within me!” But let us consult the testimony not only of people far over our heads, such as great poets and sages; let us have the testimony of people living, as the common phrase is, in the world, and living there on an every-day footing. And let us choose a world the least favorable to purists possible, the most given to laxity—and where indeed by this time the reign of the great goddess Lubricity seems, as I have often said, to be almost established—the world of Paris. Two famous women of that world of Paris in the seventeenth century, two women not altogether unlike in spirit, Ninon de l’Enclos and Mme. de Sévigné, offer, in respect to the virtue with which we are now occupied, the most striking contrast possible. Both had, in the highest degree, freedom of spirit and of speech, boldness, gaiety lucidity. Mme. de Sévigné, married to a worthless husband, then a widow, beautiful, witty, charming, of extraordinary freedom, easy and broad in her judgments, fond of enjoyment, not seriously religious; Mme. de Sévigné, living in a society where almost everybody had a lover, never took one. The French commentators upon this incomparable woman are puzzled by this. But really the truth is, that not from what is called high moral principle, not from religion, but from sheer elementary soundness of nature and by virtue of her perfect lucidity, she revolted from the sort of life so common all round her, was drawn towards regularity, felt antipathy to blemish and disorder. Ninon, on the other hand, with a like freedom of mind, a like boldness and breadth in her judgments, a like gaiety and love of enjoyment, took a different turn, and her irregular life was the talk of her century. But that lucidity, which even all through256 her irregular life was her charm, made her say at the end of it: “All the world tells me that I have less cause to speak ill of time than other people. However that may be, could anybody have proposed to me beforehand the life I have had, I would have hanged myself.” That, I say, is the testimony of the most lucid children of this world, as the testimony of Plato, Sophocles and Goethe is the testimony of the loftiest spirits, to the natural obligation and necessity of the essentially Christian virtue of pureness. So when legend represents the founder of Christianity and great exemplar of this virtue as born of a virgin, thus doing homage to pureness, it does homage to what has natural worth and necessity.

But we have further to ask to what extent the recipients of the legend showed themselves afterwards capable, while firmly believing the legend and delighting in it, of penetrating to that virtue which it honored, and of showing their sense that accompanying the legend went the glorification of that virtue. Here the Collects of the Church which have come down to us from Catholic antiquity—from the times when all legend was most unhesitatingly received, most fondly loved, most delighted in for its own sake—are the best testimony. Jesus was manifested, says one of the Epiphany Collects, “to make us the sons of God and heirs of eternal life,” and we, having this hope, are to “purify ourselves even as he is pure.” And the Collect for Christmas-day itself—that very day on which the miracle of the Incarnation is commemorated, and on which we might expect the legend’s miraculous side to be altogether dominant—firmly seizes the homage to pureness and renovation which is at the heart of the legend, and holds it steadily before us all Christmas-time. “Almighty God,” so the Collect runs, “who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure Virgin, grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit.” The miracle is amply and impressively stated, but the stress is laid upon the work of regeneration and inward renewal, whereby we are to be made sons257 of God, like to that supreme Son whose pureness was expressed through his being born of a pure Virgin. It is as, in celebrating at Easter the miracle of the Resurrection, the Church, following here St. Paul, seizes and elevates in the Collect for Easter Eve that great “secret of Jesus” which underlies the whole miraculous legend of the Resurrection, and which only through materializing itself in that legend could arrive at the general heart of mankind.

It is so manifest that there is that true and grand and profound doctrine of the necrosis, of “dying to re-live,” underlying all which is legendary in the presentation of the death and resurrection of Jesus by our Gospels, it is so manifest that St. Paul seized upon the doctrine and elevated it, and that the Church has retained it,—that one can find no difficulty, when the festival of Easter is celebrated, in fixing one’s thoughts upon the doctrine as a centre, and in receiving all the miraculous story as poetry naturally investing this and doing homage to it. And there is hardly a fast or a festival of the Christian year in which the underlying truth, the beneficent and forwarding idea, clothed with legend and miracle because mankind could only appropriate it by materializing it in legend and miracle, is not apparent. Trinity Sunday is an exception, but then Trinity Sunday does not really deal with Gospel story and miracle, it deals with speculation by theologians on the divine nature. Perhaps, considering the results of their speculation, we ought now rather to keep Trinity Sunday as a day of penitence for the aberrations of theological dogmatists. It is, however, in itself admissible and right enough that in the Christian year one day should be given to considering the aspects by which the human mind can in any degree apprehend God. But Trinity Sunday is, as I have said, an exception. For the most part, in the days and seasons which the Church observes, there is commemoration of some matter declared in Scripture, and combined and clothed more or less with miracle. Yet how near to us, under the accompanying investment of legend, does the animating and fructifying idea lie!—in Lent, with the miracle of the temptation, the idea of self-conquest258 and self-control; in Whitsuntide, with the miracle of the tongues of fire, the idea of the spirit and of inspiration.

What Christmas primarily commemorates is the birthday of Jesus—Jesus, the bringer to the world of the new dispensation contained in his method and secret, and in his temper of epieikeia, or sweet reasonableness, for applying them. But the religion of Christendom has in fact made the prominent thing in Christmas a miracle, a legend; the miracle of the Incarnation, as it is called, the legend of Jesus having been born of the Virgin. And to those who cannot bring themselves to receive miracle and legend as fact, what Christmas, under this popularly established aspect of it, can have to say, what significance it can contain, may at first seem doubtful. Christmas might as first appear to be the one great festival which is concerned wholly with mere miracle, which fixes our attention upon a miracle and nothing else. But when we come to look closer, we find that even in the case of Christmas the thing is not so. That on which Christmas even in its popular acceptation, fixes our attention, is that to which the popular instinct, in attributing to Jesus his miraculous Incarnation, in believing him born of a pure Virgin, did homage—pureness. And this, to which the popular instinct thus did homage, was an essential characteristic of Jesus and an essential virtue of Christianity, the obligation of which, though apt to be questioned and discredited in the world, is at the same time nevertheless a necessary fact of nature and eternal truth of reason. And fondly as the Church has cherished and displayed the Christmas miracle, this, the true significance of the miraculous legend for religion, has never been unknown to her, never wholly lost out of sight. As times goes on, as legend and miracle are less taken seriously as matters of fact, this worth of the Christmas legend as symbol will more and more come into view. The legend will still be loved, but as poetry—as poetry endeared by the associations of some two thousand years; religious thought will rest upon that which the legend symbolizes.

It is a mistake to suppose that rules for conduct and recommendations of259 virtue, presented in a correct scientific statement, or in a new rhetorical statement from which old errors are excluded, can have anything like the effect on mankind of old rules and recommendations to which they have been long, accustomed, and with which their feelings and affections have become intertwined. Pedants always suppose that they can, but that this mistake should be so commonly made proves only how many of us have a mixture of the pedant in our composition. A correct scientific statement of rules of virtue has upon the great majority of mankind simply no effect at all. A new rhetorical statement of them, appealing, like the old familiar deliverances of Christianity, to the heart and imagination, can have the effect which those deliverances had, only when they proceed from a religious genius equal to that from which those proceeded. To state the requirement is to declare the impossibility of its being satisfied. The superlative pedantry of Comte is shown in his vainly imagining that he could satisfy it; the comparative pedantry of his disciples is shown by the degree in which they adopt their master’s vain imagination.

The really essential ideas of Christianity have a truth, depth, necessity, and scope, far beyond anything that either the adherents of popular Christianity, or its impugners, at present suppose. Jesus himself, as I have remarked elsewhere, is even the better fitted to stand as the central figure of a religion, because his reporters so evidently fail to comprehend him fully and to report him adequately. Being so evidently great and yet so uncomprehended, and being now inevitably so to remain for ever, he thus comes to stand before us as what the philosophers call an absolute. We cannot apply to him the tests which we can apply to other phenomena, we cannot get behind him and above him, cannot command him. But even were Jesus less of an absolute, less fitted to stand as the central figure of a religion, than he is, even were the constitutive and essential ideas of Christianity less pregnant, profound and far-reaching than they are, still the personage of Jesus, and the Christian rules of conduct and recommendations of virtue, being of that indisputable significance260 and worth that in any fair view which can be taken of them they are, would have a value and a substantiality for religious purposes which no new constructions can possibly have. No new constructions in religion can now hope to found a common way, hold aloft a common truth, unite men in a common life. And yet how true it is, in regard to mankind, conduct and course, that, as the “Imitation” says so admirably, “Without a way there is no going, without a truth no knowing, without a life no living.” Sine viâ non itur, sine veritate non cognoscitur, sine vitâ non vivitur. The way, truth, and life have been found in Christianity, and will not now be found outside of it. Instead of making vain and pedantic endeavors to invent them outside of it, what we have to do is to help, so far as we can, towards their continuing to be found inside of it by honest and sane people, who would be glad to find them there if they can accomplish it without playing tricks with their understanding; to help them to accomplish this, and to remove obstacles out of the way of their doing so.

Far from having anything to gain by being timid and reticent, or else vague and rhetorical in treating of the miraculous element in the Bible, he who would help men will probably now do most good by treating this element with entire unreserve. Let him frankly say, that miracle narrated in the Bible is as legendary as miracle narrated anywhere else and not more to be taken as having actually happened. If he calls it symbolical, let him be careful to mark that the narrators did not mean it for symbol, but delivered it as having actually happened, and in so delivering it were mistaken. Let him say that we can still use it as poetry, and that in so using it we use it better than those who used it as matter of fact; but let him not leave in any uncertainty the point that it is as poetry that we do use it. Let no difficulties be slurred over or eluded. Undoubtedly a period of transition in religious belief, such as the period in which we are now living, presents many grave difficulties. Undoubtedly the reliance on miracles is not lost without some danger; but the thing to consider is that it must be lost, and that the danger must be met, and, as it can be,261 counteracted. If men say, as some men are likely enough to say, that they altogether give up Christian miracles and cannot do otherwise, but that then they give up Christian morals too, the answer is, that they do this at their own risk and peril; that they need not do it, that they are wrong in doing it, and will have to rue their error. But for my part, I prefer at present to say this simply and barely, not to give any rhetorical development to it. Springs of interest for the emotions and feelings this reality possesses in abundance, and hereafter these springs may and will most beneficially be used by the clergy and teachers of religion, who are the best persons to turn them to account. As they have habitually and powerfully used the springs of emotion contained in the Christian legend, so they will with time come to use the springs of emotion contained in the reality. But there has been so much vagueness, and so much rhetoric, and so much license of affirmation, and so much treatment of what cannot be known as if it were well known, and of what is poetry and legend as if it were essential solid fact, and of what is investment and dress of the matter as if it were the heart of the matter, that for the present, and when we are just at the commencement of a new departure, I prefer, I say, to put forward a plain, strict statement of the essential facts and truths consecrated by the Christian legend, and to confine myself to doing this. We make a mistake if we think that even those facts and truths can now produce their full effect upon men when exhibited in such a naked statement, and separately from the poetry and legend with which they are combined, and to which men have been accustomed for centuries. Nevertheless, the important thing at the present moment is not to enlarge upon the effect which the essential facts and truths gain from being still used in that combination, but after indicating this point, and insisting on it, to pass on to show what the essential facts and truths are.

Therefore, when we are asked: What really is Christmas, and what does it celebrate? we answer, the birthday of Jesus. What is the miracle of the Incarnation? A homage to the virtue of pureness, and to the manifestation of262 this virtue in Jesus. What is Lent, and the miracle of the temptation? A homage to the virtue of self-control and to the manifestation of this virtue in Jesus. What does Easter celebrate? Jesus victorious over death by dying. By dying how? Dying to re-live. To re-live in Paradise, in another world? No, in this. What, then, is the kingdom of God? The ideal society of the future. Then what is immortality? To live in the eternal order, which never dies. What is salvation by Jesus Christ? The attainment of this immortality. Through what means? Through means of the method and the secret and the temper of Jesus.

Experience of the saving results of the method and secret and temper of Jesus, imperfectly even as this method and secret and temper have been extricated and employed hitherto, makes the strength of that wonderful Book in which, with an immense vehicle of legend and miracle, the new dispensation of Jesus and the old dispensation which led up to it are exhibited, and brought to mankind’s knowledge; makes the strength of the Bible, and of the religion and churches which the Bible has called into being. We may remark that what makes the attraction of a church is always what is consonant in it to the method and secret and temper of Jesus, and productive, therefore, of the saving results which flow from these. The attraction of the Catholic Church is unity, of the Protestant sects, conscience, of the Church of England, abuses reformed but unity saved. I speak of that which, in each of these cases, is the promise apparently held out; I do not say that the promise is made good. That which makes the weakness and danger of a church, again, is just that in it which is not consonant to the line of Jesus. Thus the danger of the Catholic Church is its obscurantism, of the Protestant sects their contentiousness, of the Church of England, its deference to station and property. I said the other day, in the East-end of London, that, ever since the appearance of Christianity, the prince of this world is judged. The Guardian was disquieted and alarmed at my saying this. I will urge nothing in answer, except that this deference to the susceptibilities of station263 and property, which has been too characteristic of the Church of England in the past—a deference so signally at variance with the line of Jesus—is at the same time just what now makes the Church of England’s weakness and main danger.

As time goes on, it will be more and more manifest that salvation does really depend on consonance to the line of Jesus, and that this experience, and nothing miraculous or preternatural, is what establishes the truth and necessity of Christianity. The experience proceeds on a large scale, and therefore slowly. But even now, and imperfectly, moreover, as the line of Jesus has been followed hitherto, it can be seen that those nations are the soundest which have the most seriously concerned themselves with it and have most endeavored to follow it. Societies are saved by following it, broken up by not following it; and as the experience of this continually proceeds, the proofs of Christianity are continually accumulating and growing stronger. The thing goes on quite independently of our wishes, and whether we will or no. Our French friends seem perfectly and scornfully incredulous as to the cogency of the beatitude which pronounces blessing on the pure in heart; they would not for a moment admit that nations perish through the service of the great goddess Lubricity. On the contrary, many of them maintain this service to be the most natural and reasonable thing in the world. Yet really this service broke up the great Roman Empire in the past, and is capable, it will be found, of breaking up any number of societies.

Or let us consider that other great beatitude and its fortunes, the beatitude recommending the Christian virtue of charity. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Many people do not even understand what it is which this beatitude means to bless; they think it recommends humbleness of spirit. Ferdinand Baur, whose exegesis of texts from the Gospels is more valuable than his criticism of the mode in which the Gospels were composed, has well pointed out that the persons here blest are not those who are humble-spirited, but those who are in the intention and bent264 of their spirit—in mind, as we say, and not in profession merely—indifferent to riches. Such persons, whether they possess riches or not, really regard riches as something foreign to them, something not their own, and are thus, in the phrase of another text where our received translation is misleading, faithful as regards riches. “If ye have not been faithful in that which is foreign to you, who will give you that which is your own?” The fidelity consists in having conquered the temptation to treat that for which men desire riches, private possession and personal enjoyment, as things vital to us and to be desired. Wherever there is cupidity, there the blessing of the Gospel cannot rest. The actual poor may altogether fail to be objects of the blessing; the actual rich may be objects of it in the highest degree. Nay, the surest of means to restore and perpetuate the reign of the selfish rich, if at any time it have been interrupted, is cupidity, envy, and hatred in the poor. And this again is a witness to the infallibility of the line of Jesus. We must come, both rich and poor, to prefer the common good, the interest of “the body of Christ”—to use the Gospel phrase—the body of Christ of which we are members, to private possession and personal enjoyment.

This is Christian charity, and how rare, how very rare it is, we all know. In this practical country of ours, where possessing property and estate is so loved, and losing them so hated, the opposition to it is almost as strong as that to Christian purity in France. The Saturday Review is in general respectful to religion, intelligent and decorous, in matters of literary and scientific criticism reasonable. But let it imagine property and privilege threatened, and instantly what a change! There seems to rise before one’s mind’s eye a sort of vision of an elderly demoniac, surrounded by a troop of younger demoniacs of whom he is the owner and guide, all of them suddenly foaming at the mouth and crying out horribly. The attachment to property and privilege is so strong, the fear of losing them so agitating. But the line of Jesus perpetually tends to establish itself, as I have said, independently of our wishes, and265 whether we will or no. And undoubtedly the line of Jesus is: “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” In other words: “How hardly shall those who cling to private possessions and personal enjoyment, who have not brought themselves to regard property and riches as foreign and indifferent to them, who have not annulled self, and placed their happiness in the common good, make part of the ideal society of the future!”

The legend of Christmas is a homage to the Christian virtue of pureness, and Christmas, with its miracle of the Incarnation, should turn our thoughts to the certainty of this virtue’s final victory, against all difficulties. And with the victory of this virtue let us associate the victory of its great fellow-virtue of Christian charity, a victory equally difficult but equally certain. The difficulties are undeniable, but here the signs of the times point far more to the emergence and progress of the virtue than to its depression. Who cannot see that the idea of the common good is acquiring amongst us, at the present day, a force altogether new? that, for instance, in cases where, in the framing of laws and in the interpretation of them by tribunals, regard to property and privilege used to be, one may say, paramount, and the idea of the common good hardly considered at all, things are now tending quite the other way; the pretensions of property and privilege are severely scrutinized, the claims of the common good entertained with favor. An acceleration of progress in the spread of ideas of this266 kind, a decline of vitality in institutions where the opposite ideas were paramount, marks the close of a period. Jesus announced for his own period such a close; a close necessitated by the emergence of the new, the decay of the old. He announced it with the turbid figures familiar through prophecy to his hearers’ imagination figures of stupendous physical miracle, a break-up of nature, God coming to judgment. But he did not announce under these figures, as our Bibles make him announce, the end of the world; he announced “the end of the age,” “the close of the period.” That close came, as he had foretold; and a like “end of the age” is imminent wherever a certain stage is reached in the conflict between the line of Jesus and the facts of the period through which it takes its passage. Sometimes we may almost be inclined to augur that from some such “end of the age” we ourselves are not far now; that through dissolution—dissolution peaceful if we have virtue enough, violent if we are vicious, but still dissolution—we and our own age have to pass, according to the eternal law which makes dissolution the condition of renovation. The price demanded, by the inexorable conditions on which the kingdom of God is offered, for the mistakes of our past, for the attainment of our future, this price may perhaps be required sooner than we suppose, required even of us ourselves who are living now; “verily I say unto you, it shall be required of this generation.”—Contemporary Review.



War is, of course, economically, purely destructive. The men employed produce nothing; the engines prepared are useless, except for killing; the money expended is most of it consumed on objects which can yield no direct return. Enormous quantities of food are wasted in transport, domestic animals are used-up in unproductive labor, and the men slain are necessarily among the strongest in the nation. Nevertheless, the economic loss of war is often not felt for a time; and it is probable that in the war supposed to be coming with Russia this will be the case to an unusual degree. Almost all the possessing classes, to begin with, will at first feel as if the war had made them less poor. Those of them who are lucky enough always to save, find all investments cheaper, which is to them as if their money had directly increased in power. Only six weeks ago you could not buy a solid security to pay quite four per cent., and to-day there are twenty to choose among. The possessing classes have268 been suffering from the fall in prices, and the fall in prices will cease. Already the owners of land are relieved of apprehension by a rise in the price of wheat which may be taken as equivalent in effect to a five-shilling protective duty; and the farmers, possibly misled by the tradition of former wars, look forward to a rise of at least double that. As the American supply will not be affected, and the Indian supply will be as good as ever, and every rise in price draws new supplies, they may possibly be disappointed; but imagination is a factor in trade, as in all other things governed by human minds, and the prices of things to eat will undoubtedly stiffen. The mere increase in the cost of sea-carriage will secure that; and this increase will be considerable, for a Government at war draws heavily on the surplus shipping for transport; and while freight rises, so also do rates of insurance and competent seamen’s wages. Large as the seafaring class is, the demand made on it in war-time by a great Power sensibly diminishes it, and so increases the value of the remaining seamen. All sea-borne goods must rise perceptibly in price, and so, though the reason is not so apparent, do all metals; and owing to the law which tends to equalise all profits, so in smaller proportion do all other vendible things. The phenomenon called by housewives “dearness” appears at once; and as the possessing and trading classes, distributors excepted, fret under cheapness, this is for the time a satisfaction to them. Landlords, shipowners, planters abroad, farmers at home, mineowners, and manufacturers with large stocks, classes which greatly influence opinion, deem themselves to be, and in some instances are, decidedly better-off. Nor are the distributing classes at first injured. Much of the enormous expenditure of war goes into their pockets; war is recognised as full excuse for heavier prices; and the demand from the well-to-do which so often makes the difference between profit and loss increases rather than diminishes. The currency, too, tends to become inflated by the issue of Government paper, not in the form of bank-notes, but of obligations of all kinds, signed by a firm—the Government—known to be solvent, and269 passing in large transactions from hand to hand, and inflation always produces the appearance of prosperity. The enormous mass of expense, again, based on borrowed money,—that is, practically, on future earnings,—swells the volume of available money in circulation, and enlarges, sometimes enormously, the profits of certain men, e.g., army contractors, who immediately spend on their own objects till the veins of the community seem full of blood. Even wages rise, and especially the wages of the poorest class, the half-skilled laborers. It is often supposed that this is not the case; but the truth would seem to be that the withdrawal of laborers from production caused by war, falling as it does, not on the whole people, but on a limited section of them,—namely, those who are at once poor, specially able-bodied, and under thirty-five,—greatly diminishes the total supply, and at once raises wages. This is thoroughly recognised on the Continent, where mobilisation affects such a huge mass of men, and even in England the numbers taken away are very serious. In a war of two years at least 100,000 men will require to be replaced, another 100,000 will be hired for garrison duty of all kinds, and a further contingent of unknown numbers will be employed in dockyards, transport services, and the endless forms of hard labor necessary to send armies to the field. If we remember that the half-skilled laborers are only a division of the people, and that agricultural laborers, in particular, upon whom much of the pressure falls, are only 600,000, we shall see that war seriously reduces the available supply of hands, and so sends up one class of wages. In truth, in the beginning of a war in a country not liable to invasion, and not harassed from the first by financial distress, it is difficult to see what class—unless it be soldiers’ wives—suffers economically from the very beginning, and does not rather feel as if it were prospering. Something of this is, no doubt, imaginary, and due to the bustle and interest created by war, and the sense it causes of a necessity for harder work; but most of it has a true economic source. The expenditure is greater, the competition is less, and one new career, rapidly consuming men, has been opened to the270 discontented. There is more room for those who are not engaged, and more to get, and they therefore feel well-off. So strong is this impression, that in countries where the well-off classes govern—as was the case in England’s war with Napoleon—war is often protracted by their reluctance to lose the advantages which they think, often with reason, they are enjoying, though at the expense of the whole community.

It is by degrees that the economic effect of war comes to be felt, through the agency, usually, of taxation. No nation can throw away perhaps two years’ revenue in one on unproductive effort without becoming gradually poorer,—that is, without having less to spend in giving good wages to great multitudes of men. Suppose a war to cost fifty millions a year—and the American war cost £120,000,000—though much of that is spent in wages, the whole is loss, for even the wages are paid, from the economic point of view, for doing nothing. In the best case, that of a country which is annually heaping-up a reserve in the shape of savings, this reserve must be diminished to an appreciable degree; and the effect, pro tanto, is as if the community were making less profit, or were fractionally less industrious, or were more addicted to consumable luxuries like tobacco or wine. If the process continues long, or the war is excessively expensive, all saving-power is consumed, and the community sinks gradually to the position of a man who is living from hand to mouth, and making nothing to provide against the future. The process, of course, may be slow; it may be retarded, as in England in the Great War, by the sudden rise of new and profitable industries, and it may be diminished in its effect by thrift; but it is inevitable. No nation could expend a second year’s revenue on war continuously for a century without being beggared; and each separate year must of necessity involve some approach towards beggary. Borrowing distributes the loss over future years; but it does not diminish the loss itself, which is positive, and not to be diminished by any financial arrangement. Borrowing involves taxation, and the effect of taxation in the gross is to impoverish. It is often271 said, for instance, that England could borrow a hundred millions, and then pay for it by a twopenny tax on sugar; and that, as a financial statement, is correct. But then this also is correct, that the three and a half millions a year raised to pay for a loan of that amount expended in a past war, means a loss equivalent to an obligation to keep 100,000 unskilled laborers at £35 a year each in idleness for ever. An unskilled laborer does not earn more than that; and that, therefore, is one expression of what the community gives away through such a tax, without real benefit to its producing-power. It is true that three and a half millions is not an amount sufficient to hurt England; but it is a fresh burden on England, and it begins to fall just when it is hardest, that is, when war expenditure and consequent borrowing ceases. It is on the top of the loss of the great customer who has been throwing away, say, £100,000,000 a year, that the new taxation comes, and is, therefore, often so cruelly felt. We have been told, on high financial authority—that of the late Mr. James Wilson—that after Waterloo, when the era of war ended, and the war expenditure ceased, the people found that just when their mighty customer, the Government, ceased to buy everything, and prices suddenly sank, everybody was paying seven-and-sixpence in the pound of his earnings to the State. The reaction was terrible; every man felt nearly ruined, and for at least four years a spirit of economic dishonesty spread among the people, till the ominous words, “the sponge,” began to be uttered aloud. As it happened, the distress did not matter. An enormous development of industry, the result of new inventions and mechanical appliances, rapidly made England rich again; and, followed as it was by a new system of communication, rebuilt the national fortune; but the economic danger for a few years was terrible. Nothing like that is likely to occur again; but still, a great war will touch every household with its consequences before it is done. A shilling income-tax will be felt even by the rich, and will directly deplete the reservoir out of which those who provide the comforts of life are paid. Duties on edible luxuries or necessaries will be felt by the272 poor in proportion to their poverty, and this the more because they will come on the back of the general “dearness,” especially of eatables, which is the inevitable consequence of war. When the war stops, therefore, there will be distress, great or little, in proportion to the expenditure; but, great or little, equally inevitable, not to be kept-off by any financial arrangement. It may be rendered short, of course, or even innocuous, by other causes, such as a sudden discovery of a new and cheaper motor which, by reducing the energy to be expended on producing a result, positively adds to the national force, and, therefore, to the national producing-power, or by the opening-up of new channels of industry; but, apart from these, there is no avoiding the economic consequence of war. War is waste; the nation pays for the waste by taxation, and, therefore, every individual in the nation must, pro tanto, suffer. The particular war may be right, or unavoidable, or purely self-defensive, but one of its consequences must be this; and it is never wise to conceal what inevitably must happen.—Spectator.

Interview with Sheikh Djamal-ud-dîn Al-Hûsseiny Al-Afghany.273

Various references have been made of late to a mysterious sheikh who from his lodgings in Paris is believed to hold the strings of the Nationalist movement in Egypt and the religious revolt in the Soudan. We have received the following account of this interesting personage from a correspondent who called on him the other day in Paris:—

Sheikh Djamal-ud-dîn Al-Hûsseiny, for such is his full name and title, was born in Cabul in the year 1837, of a noble and renowned family in Afghanistan called the Seiyidists de Connoire (descendant of the prophet Mahommed). He began the study of Arabic when eight years old, and afterwards he devoted himself to the study of Mahommedan theology and philosophy. When the Mutiny broke out in India he left Cabul and went to that country, travelling through all parts of India, after which he visited Mecca, returning to Afghanistan by Baghdâd and Persia. Sheikh Djamal-ud-dîn joined Abd-ur-rahman Khan, the present ruler of Afghanistan, when civil war broke out between them and Sher Ali Khan. Abd-ur-rahman having been defeated by Sher Ali, Sheikh Djamal-ud-dîn fled to Constantinople, and at this place he was courted by the leading savants and learned men of that city, his literary fame already having attained considerable renown throughout the East. Soon after his arrival in Constantinople he274 was unanimously elected a member of the Court of Public Instruction. While at Constantinople his spirit blazed into fury at the spectacle of the bad and corrupt administration of the Turks. He delivered lectures and wrote against it in vehement terms, which resulted in his expulsion from Turkey in the year 1871. He thereupon went to Egypt, where he had long been famous for his remarkable knowledge of Arabic, Islamic law, and all branches of philosophy. Hence many of the best men in Egypt and the Soudan flocked around him, and he had several pupils whom he instructed in all branches of Oriental learning. Amongst these pupils of his by far the most notable was Mahammed Ahmad, the Mahdi. At Cairo he attacked Ismail Pasha, denouncing him as the cause of the ruin of Egypt. In short he was one of the principal instruments that caused Ismail’s downfall. When the present Khedive came to the throne he likewise preached in public assemblies against him as the agent of foreign intervention, and consequently in 1880 he was exiled from Egypt. All his possessions, such as his library and papers, were seized at Tewfik’s command by the Egyptian Government. From Egypt he again visited India, remaining there three years, and then two years ago he came over to Paris, in which city he still resides.

His abode is a modest hotel near the275 Boulevards, where he has apartments modestly furnished. In his habits Sheikh Djamal-ud-dîn is very regular. Rising early in the morning, he enters his sitting room, and peruses the newspapers, smoking his Turkish tobacco in an English pipe. Close by him he generally keeps his Koran, and several Arabic, Persian, Turkish books and pamphlets are scattered about his room, as well as a number of the leading French and English newspapers. Here we may mention that he published for a time an Arabic paper called Al-Urwat-ul-Wuthka, Le Lien Indissoluble, which had an enormous circulation in the East. Sheikh Djamal-ud-dîn has a majestic and commanding presence (as may be seen from the accompanying portrait), and a face of remarkable intelligence. He keeps his head uncovered indoors, contrary to Oriental custom. It has already been mentioned in the papers that Sheikh Djamal-ud-dîn has had and has a sort of communication with the Mahdi. He describes him to be a very intelligent person, well versed in Moslem theology and history. In stature he is of moderate size, rather thin, but muscular and wiry. He grows a small beard, and his color is bronze but by no means black, and he possesses a sedate, pious look. In his early age the Mahdi was remarkable for great religious principle, and was always very abstemious and kindly disposed to the weak and poor. Before he acquired his present position as Mahdi he believed that he felt some sort of inspiration, and certainly now believes himself to be the Mahdi expected by all Islam, nor, in his old master’s opinion, does he do this as a mere political pretext.

The following is a transcript of the notes of the interview between our representative and the Sheikh:—

What does the word Mahdi convey to Mahommedans; in what position does it place them, and what is the effect produced on them?—Mahommedans believe, according to Islamic tradition, that at the end of time there will appear a Mahdi, who will be recognized by certain indications, and his mission is to exalt Islam throughout the world. Consequently the Mahdi’s mission is one of great importance, and its effect on Mahommedans is very great. He who276 studies the history of Islam will find that many Moslem empires were formed through a Mahdi’s mission.

Is it possible for the present Mahdi to be successful in his enterprise and to be followed by all or a large portion of the Mahommedans?—This matter is but like all others of the sort, and considering the present bad condition of the Moslems, should the Mahdi gain two or three more successes, he would certainly be followed by nearly all the Mahommedans.

Do you think it possible to crush his influence?—Yes, if they do not fight him in his own country, thus forcing him, so to speak, to fight and defend it; and also if they leave the defence of other countries to the Mahommedans themselves. The best method of crushing a religious rising, to my mind, is to allow co-religionists to do it.

As the Sheikh is not merely the tutor of the Mahdi, but also a Cabulee savant and old partisan of Abd-ur-rahman, the conversation turned on the Afghan question.

What is your opinion of the Russian advance?—This is a matter of great complication, requiring for its solution the greatest consideration, for there is no doubt that on the one hand a war between two such great Powers as England and Russia must, besides the enormous loss of life, cause great losses to all the world, and cause great future complications. Further, it would not end in a short time. On the other hand, should Russia come to amicable terms at present with England through the mediation of Germany, or by the means of friendly relations between the present British Cabinet and that of Russia, the result would be more disadvantageous to England, inasmuch as the Russian policy and intentions respecting their advance in India cannot be doubted or misunderstood by politicians. Therefore, should an amicable arrangement and understanding be arrived at at present, Russia will have more time and be better able to arrange her affairs and complete her preparations. They could cause a railway to be made from Exeus to the frontier of Afghanistan. Further, they would be enabled to remove any ill-feeling that may exist between them and the tribes of Turcomans, and try to gain the277 friendship of the tribes of Djamshîdé and Hûzarah, who are situated near Herat, as well as the Uzbaks, who dwell in Balkh, who are all different in race, particularly the Hûzarah, who differ in religion, they being Shîhists. It would not be difficult for Russia to gain these tribes, as they are not on very friendly terms with the Afghans. After this Russia would try and gain the Afghans to their side by promising them the Punjaub. Russian promises would have greater effect than all the means England can bring to bear, inasmuch as Russian character is more akin to the Oriental than any other. Further, the Russians would by intrigue try to incite Indian hostility towards English, promising them self-government should Russia succeed.

All this, however, requires time, so that if Russia should hurry herself into war at present she would be acting against her interests, which would show the greatest ignorance; but I do not278 think she would be so foolish seeing what she would risk in a war just now. In short, unless Russia retreats back to the Caspian Sea leaving Turcoman and Buckharah, there cannot be perfect safety for England in India. Although the retreat of Russia so far is difficult, yet in the future it would be more so. It is, however, possible, and this by weakening her power in Europe; or by England uniting with the Afghans, Persia, and Turkey, and forcing Russia to withdraw as above stated; and for England to withdraw from the Soudan leaving it to Mahommedans to arrange their internal affairs. Egypt can undoubtedly improve herself and repair, slowly but surely, the damages done. This, however, I fear the present Government will not do, inasmuch as they slight the Mahommedans, and that Russia will supersede them in the matter and in gaining Moslem sympathy, time will show and prove.—Pall Mall Gazette.



Russia Under the Tzars. By Stepniak. Rendered into English by William Westall. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

This is the second contribution of the author to an understanding of the social and political conditions which make the Russia of to-day the reproach and horror of modern civilization; and it is a successful attempt to throw light on the true relations of the revolutionary movement known to us as Nihilism to those conditions. The first book “Underground Russia,” was a comparatively slight work, treating the salient facts of Russian bureauocracy from the standpoint of the dramatic story-teller, and assuming that the world was fully acquainted with the national causes which have led to the dreadful outcrop of repeated assassination as the logical and necessary outcome. In the present work Stepniak surveys the field from the point of view of the philosophical historian and essayist, and reviews elaborately all of the antecedent conditions and the present complexity of evils, which have laid such cruel responsibilities on the would-be reformer. Allowing for that margin of exaggeration and warmth of coloring which are inseparable from the attitude of the enthusiast, it remains clear that the author has framed an overwhelming indictment against the Government of Russia, as a blot on modern civilization so black and evil, as to justify the abhorrence of all who have a just regard for the rights of man. Even the most austere moralist is tempted to admit, in view of such facts, that there may arise conditions where “killing is no murder.” Stepniak has written much in the English newspapers and reviews on the real causes of Russian Nihilism, and the woful facts of imperialism and bureauocracy, which have called forth such a drastic and bloody remedy, if that can be called a remedy which is still vainly struggling with the accumulated weight of centuries of governmental crime. In the book under notice he sums up in a consecutive whole what he had previously stated in fragments.

Beginning with the old Russia, which antedated the founding of the present Romanoff dynasty, under which all the previous elements and tendencies toward misgovernment have become crystallized, he states some very remarkable facts in the political history of his native land which are not known to the general reader. One of the sources of discouragement to the observer of Russian affairs has been the dread that there was nothing in the280 traditions and training of the people to serve as a foundation for a more just and liberal form of government and an establishment of social order, once revolution had wrought its work in overthrowing the present imperialism. Stepniak dissipates this notion very effectively, and throws a new light on the elements entering into the problem. Previous to the time of Ruric, the various principalities now making up Imperial Russia were governed on a democratic principle even more complete than that which inspired the republics of Italy in their brightest days. The people of each literally determined their own laws and alliances by open council, in which the utmost freedom of debate occurred and the meanest citizen had a voice. True, princes were at the head of these governments, but they were purely electoral, and were so completely at the mercy of the people that they could be dislodged at any time. They were merely military chiefs, with no voice in the making of the laws and with no fixed time of holding position, merely servants of the people with vastly less power and responsibility than are possessed by any one of the higher officials who rule under a representative system. These democracies, though turbulent, disorderly, and quarrelsome, served effectively for several centuries as the medium for the promotion of a high degree of prosperity; and several of them, notably that of great Novgorod, became leading commercial marts of Europe. The tradition is still faintly preserved in the grand annual fair, to which traders flock from all quarters of the East. Internal wars and the tremendous pressure of the Tartar hordes which afterward overran Russia in large part, tended to consolidate these democracies under one ruler. It would be beyond our purpose to trace even in outline the steps by which the haughty autocracy of Tzardom was finally fastened on the country, but it is a singular fact that in the mir, or system of village communes, which exists side by side with imperialism in Russia, we have to-day a survival in an humble form of the old Sclav democracies. Stepniak finds in this a hopeful basis for building up free and successful government, when revolution shall have thrown off the incubus of the Romanoffs and the bureaucratic system, of which this dynasty is both the creator and the slave.

The picture which the author gives of life in Russia could hardly be painted in darker colors. No man’s house is safe from domiciliary visits, and the least word of indignation or protest is likely to cause one to be thrown into281 a prison to rot, or to be exiled for life to the mines of Siberia. Even if found guiltless in court he may be sent into exile by the order of the chief of police. This dread official seems to have almost absolute power. Even a man against whom no charge has been made may be banished to a distant province and compelled to live under police supervision. Any anonymous denunciation is considered sufficient for the police tribunals to act on, and the accused has not even the privilege of confronting his accuser. The action of this terrible and implacable power has paralyzed all healthy intellectual life in Russia, and men who dare to think, either quit Russia, as did Turguenieff, or enroll themselves in the ranks of the revolutionists to plot and work in secrecy like moles, biding their time for open and resolute action. The culmination of the crime of imperialism against the life of the empire is found in its dealing with education in all its branches, from the universities down to the most primitive schools. Under the management of Count Tolstoi—the most base and unscrupulous of the imperial advisers—the universities are watched and governed by manchards, who now usurp the place of once learned professors, and discipline is enforced by the prick of the bayonet and the crack of the Cossack whip. Every student is watched as closely as the condemned wretch on the eve of execution, and no social intercourse is allowed. History, science, and literature are sedulously discouraged as studies, because they are “dangerous” guides, and the dead bones of Latin and Greek taught in the most pedagogic fashion are regarded as the only proper food. Even primary schools are watched by spies and soldiers, and babies are made to feel the weight of the police lash. Everywhere is found the iron, inflexible hand of official power, and bureauocracy crushes out the life of the land. The press, both in the provinces and in the great centres, has been completely extinguished, and only those papers which slavishly reflect the opinions of the Government are allowed to exist. Reviews and magazines are placed under an equally rigorous surveillance, and Count Tolstoi’s Index Purgatorius puts a ban on the printing or sale of every book calculated to stimulate thought or arouse ambition. All that is worthy in science, art, and literature is tabooed, and prurient French novels are nearly the only foreign books permitted an unrestricted circulation. The Greek Church is thoroughly allied with the Government, and a tool more useful282 in a country where the majority of the ecclesiastics are knaves and parasites, and the majority of the people, ignorant and superstitious, can hardly be imagined. It is in the hands of this power that all the primary schools have been transformed under the present régime, and the results can easily be imagined.

While officialdom thus crushes the life out of the nation, it is honeycombed through and through with corruption and dishonesty. Bribery, theft, mendacity, and malversation of office rot every branch of the public service, and the imperial treasury is robbed as unscrupulously as the people are trodden under foot. Gigantic peculations are continually being discovered, and yet are permitted to go unpunished. Stepniak asserts that if Russia were plunged into a war to-day, she would find herself in a condition similar to that which made French armies so utterly unable to cope with the forces of Germany in the last conflict. The examples of public spoliation carried on by officials high in the confidence of the Emperor, cited by our author, are such as have hardly a parallel in Europe. It has come to be a by-word in Russia that the ordinary vulgar criminal, however flagrant his offence, is leniently dealt with. It is only against the political offender that the severe terrors of the law are invoked.

It would be difficult to find, at least in recent history, any record which matches the plain recital of the wrongs and villainies perpetrated under Russian imperialism. It is against this system that Nihilism is struggling, impotently in appearance, but always earnestly, persistently, intelligently. However the mind may revolt from certain phases of Nihilism and condemn some of its methods, it is impossible that, on the whole, intelligent minds should not sympathize with it and regard its success as the only hope of national salvation. Stepniak intimates that the time of terrorism, the era of assassination has passed. The propaganda of liberty has been pushed with great success in the ranks of the army, and at least a quarter of the commissioned officers below the rank of colonel, including many of the bravest and most skilful men in the service, are affiliated to Nihilism. Russia cannot remain for many years in her present condition. The mills of the gods, though grinding slowly, are grinding exceedingly fine. If the statements made by our author are true, the power to make an open and armed revolt effective is being forged and tempered rapidly. We believe that at least nine-tenths of men of Anglo283Saxon race will give that revolt a God-speed when the time does come. Stepniak’s book, which is singularly free from harsh invective and sounding adjectives, is terrible by the weight of its simple, direct, and, we believe on the whole, accurate statements. It certainly throws a light on Russian affairs such as the reader can obtain, probably, from no other contemporary work.

The French Revolution. By Hippolyte Adolph Taine, D.C.L. Oxon, Author of “A History of English Literature,” “Notes on England,” etc. Translated by John Durand. In three volumes. Vol. III. New York: Henry Holt & Company.

This is the concluding volume of Taine’s history of the French Revolution, and in vividness of presentation, charm of style, and clearness of statement it surpasses even its predecessors. The views of M. Taine in regard to the causes of the French Revolution, and his characterizations of the men who rose to the top during its fierce and bloody progress, have been severely criticised. Nearly every historian of the period is borne along by a strong partisan bias. It seems impossible for the writer to enter on this troubled and tempestuous period to keep himself aloof from the agitations which swell the events and motives he depicts. So all historians of the period are at odds with each other. M. Taine is more severe and sweeping in his condemnation of the men that guided the revolution than most of his rivals. Perhaps no better explanation of the view and attitude of the author can be given than that found in his eloquent and striking preface, which we give entire:

“‘In Egypt,’ says Clement of Alexandria, ‘the sanctuaries of the temples are shaded by curtains of golden tissue. But on going farther into the interior in quest of the statue, a priest of grave aspect, advancing to meet you and chanting a hymn in the Egyptian tongue, slightly raises a veil to show you the god. And what do you behold? A crocodile, or some indigenous serpent, or other dangerous animal, the Egyptian god being a brute rolling about on a purple carpet.’

“We need not visit Egypt or go so far back in history to encounter crocodile worship, as this can be readily found in France at the end of the last century. Unfortunately, a hundred years is too long an interval, too far away, for an imaginative retrospect of the past. At the present time, standing where we do and regarding the horizon behind us, we see only284 forms which the intervening atmosphere embellishes, shimmering contours which each spectator may interpret in his own fashion; no distinct, animated figure, but merely a mass of moving points, forming and dissolving in the midst of picturesque architecture. I was anxious to have a nearer view of these vague points, and, accordingly, transported myself back to the last half of the eighteenth century, where I have been living with them for twelve years, and, like Clement of Alexandria, examining, first, the temple, and next the god. A passing glance at these is not sufficient; a step further must be taken to comprehend the theology on which this cult is founded. This one, explained by a very specious theology, like most others, is composed of dogmas called the principles of 1789; they were proclaimed, indeed, at that date, having been previously formulated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the well-known sovereignty of the people, the rights of man, and the social contract. Once adopted, their practical results unfolded themselves naturally; in three years the crocodile brought by these dogmas into the sanctuary installed himself there on the purple carpet behind the golden veil; in effect, he was intended for the place on account of the energy of his jaws and the capacity of his stomach; he became a god through his qualities as a destructive brute and man-eater. Comprehending this, the rites which consecrate him and the pomp which surrounds him need not give us any further concern. We can observe him, like any ordinary animal, and study his various attitudes, as he lies in wait for his prey, springs upon it, tears it to pieces, swallows it, and digests it. I have studied the details of his structure, the play of his organs, his habits, his mode of living, his instincts, his faculties, and his appetites. Specimens abounded. I have handled thousands of them, and have dissected hundreds of every species and variety, always preserving the most valuable and characteristic examples, but for lack of room I have been compelled to let many of them go because my collection was too large. Those that I was able to bring back with me will be found here, and, among others, about twenty individuals of different dimensions, which—a difficult undertaking—I have kept alive with great pains. At all events, they are intact and perfect, and particularly the three largest. These seem to me, of their kind, truly remarkable, and those in which the divinity of the day might well incarnate himself. The bills of butchers, as well as housekeeping accounts,285 authentic and regularly kept, throw sufficient light on the cost of this cult. We can estimate about how much the sacred crocodiles consumed in ten years; we know their bills of fare daily, their favorite morsels. Naturally, the god selected the fattest victims, but his voracity was so great that he likewise bolted down, and blindly, the lean ones, and in much greater number than the fattest. Moreover, by virtue of his instincts, and an unfailing effect of the situation, he ate his equals once or twice a year, except when they succeeded in eating him. This cult certainly is instructive, at least to historians and men of pure science. If any believers in it still remain I do not aim to convert them; one cannot argue with a devotee on matters of faith. This volume, accordingly, like the others that have gone before it, is written solely for amateurs of moral zoology, for naturalists of the understanding, for seekers of truth, of texts, and of proofs—for these alone and not for the public, whose mind is made up and which has its own opinion on the Revolution. This opinion began to be formed between 1825 and 1830, after the retirement or withdrawal of eye-witnesses. When they disappeared it was easy to convince a credulous public that crocodiles were philanthropists; that many possessed genius; that they scarcely ate others than the guilty, and that if they sometimes ate too many it was unconsciously and in spite of themselves, or through devotion and self-sacrifice for the common good.”

The volume is divided into the following sections: “Establishment of the Revolutionary Government;” “The Jacobin Programme;” “The Governors;” “The Governed;” “The End of the Revolutionary Government.” The author gives a luminous picture of the facts and conditions which preceded the Reign of Terror. In reading these brilliant pages we are carried along so swiftly that it is hard to realize at first the enormous research and weighing of authorities, which we soon recognize by glancing at the foot-notes. The various elements entering into the situation were complex, but they are unravelled with great dexterity and presented with no less clearness. When we come to those pages which deal with the Reign of Terror proper, M. Taine rises to his most graphic and picturesque power. His description and characterization of Danton, Marat, Robespierre, Hebert, St. Just, and the other bloodhounds that led the pack, are masterpieces. Carlyle, whose account of the French Revolution is a lurid and magnificent286 prose poem, does not give a more powerful and vivid realistic picture, while the present author without doubt has by far the advantage in the accuracy of his statements, the reliability of his facts, the judicial weight of his opinions. It may be unquestioningly stated that among recent historical books there is none worthy to be ranked in interest and importance with this study of one of the most remarkable periods in the world’s history by M. Taine.

Louis Pasteur: His Life and Labors. By his Son-in-law. Translated from the French by John Durand. New York: D. Appleton & Co.

The career of M. Pasteur is one of those which rank among the greatest in the value of the results which he has obtained. Starting as a great chemist, he went on, step by step, making great discoveries in the line of his work, till he finally proved absolutely the germ theory of disease, which, prior to his investigations and experiments, had been merely an hypothesis. The great crowning work of his life, however, has been the establishment of the fact that vaccination, as discovered by Jenner is not an isolated truth, but one of a class of similar truths, which could be utilized to the incalculable blessing of the world; in other words, that it is possible in the case of a great many diseases to make the system proof against contagion by inoculation with an attenuated virus of the same nature. He has been splendidly successful in the cases of splenic fever and of hydrophobia, and all the analogies indicate that this is only the beginning of a much wider extension of the same principle. Pasteur’s conclusions are now accepted by the whole scientific, and a host of ardent and ingenious disciples are working along the same line of experiment and investigation. The beneficent results are likely to be of such a character as to revolutionize the whole treatment of disease. Before Pasteur had reached the culmination of his great career, he had saved millions of francs per annum to France by his discovery of the means to cure diseases in vines, and the method of saving silk-worms from the parasitic ailment which threatened the whole silk culture of France. But in absolutely demonstrating, starting from the germ theory of disease as a basis, that disease could be guarded against, at least in certain cases, by inoculation with attenuated virus, he has opened the way probably for results the greatness of which we do not yet appreciate. Like Dr. Robert Koch, of Berlin, he has been ex287perimenting with cholera, but, unlike Dr. Koch, he denies that the cholera germ, or bacillus, has yet been found. Investigators are, however, on the road to the truth, and we confidently anticipate that the goal will be reached not only in cholera, but many other diseases. If so Pasteur’s name will shine primus inter pares among those who most contributed to such a beneficent revolution in the methods, of grappling with the most fatal forms of disease and death. The story of Pasteur’s life, of his methods of work, of his progress from discovery to discovery, is told by his admiring disciple and son-in-law in a very fresh and attractive style, unencumbered by technical terms and with a peculiarly French vivacity and grace of touch. There is a very interesting summary of the results of Pasteur’s work written by no less an authority than Professor John Tyndall, who does ample justice to the genius and ability of his great French contemporary. Pasteur is now only sixty-two years of age, and as his health has lately been re-established, the world may expect still more important discoveries than any which he has yet made.

A Grammar of the English Language in a Series of Letters. Intended for the Use of Schools and of Young Persons, etc., but more especially for the Use of Soldiers, Sailors, Apprentices, and of Ploughboys. By William Cobbett. With Notes by Robert Waters. New York: A. S. Barnes & Co.

Next to Lindley Murray (and he is rather a name, clarum et venerabile nomen, than an authority) no work in the English language on grammar is more famous than this of Cobbett. The book is written with great charm of style, and is cast in the form of familiar letters, being addressed to his son. It is the only grammar in the world, probably, which can be read with pleasure by a casual person picking it up for an hour’s recreation. Its methods and principles of teaching have been widely commended by the most experienced grammarians and instructors. The book is so well known as not to need any special words from us in praise or criticism. We find an amusing sentence on the title-page which is not without significance. After the general statement of the title of the book we find these, “to which are added six lessons intended to prevent statesmen from using false grammar and from writing in an awkward manner.” There is no doubt that some such special department is needed, but it is dubious whether the aforesaid statesmen288 could be made to realize the fact. The notes which are added by the editor, Mr. Waters, are suggestive and useful, and written in an easy and engaging style, modelled somewhat after that of Cobbett himself.

At the Sign of the Lyre. By Austin Dobson. New York: Henry Holt & Co.

This collection of vers de société by Austin Dobson will be pleasantly received by the poets many admire. The kind of verse in which he has made his reputation is not the highest, but it has been carried to great perfection in recent years; and among the group of verse-makers no one has plucked more brilliant laurels than Austin Dobson. He has the true touch of his craft, and no one can unite sparkle and grace more deftly with that flavor of satire and substance of good sense, which, after all, are essential to the best vers de société. There are a few poems of a more serious character, which are also excellent in their way.

Working People and their Employers. By Rev. Washington Gladden. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.

The author of this work is extensively known as one of the most sprightly and spirited writers and authors we have among us. He grapples here with one of the difficult and vital problems of the times. He is, however, at home with his theme. He says: “The greater part of my life has been spent among working people, in working with them, or in working for them.” Sure of his “audience,” he uses plain and forcible words, both to employers and employés. The questions discussed by him so sensibly and practically, are among the most important and pressing involved in what is called “The Labor Question,” The book ought to have a wide circulation. It cannot fail to do good.


A French party in Mauritius have started a new journal, called Madagascar. The name indicates its object—it is to promote the annexation to France of the great African island.

A curious discovery has recently been made in the records of the Calcutta High Court which may serve to throw additional light on the history of the time of Clive. Some of the papers relating to the trial of Nandkumar have been unearthed, and among them is the judgment, with a long note appended in some old system of stenography, giving what purport to289 be the true reasons for the lightness of the punishment inflicted. A lithographic copy of the note is to be sent to England for decipherment.

Mr. Swinburne’s new tragedy, “Marino Faliero,” is dedicated to Aurelio Saffi, the Italian patriot. This will indicate that the striking chapter of Venetian history upon which the drama is based has been treated in some measure politically. The chronicle, however, has been faithfully followed as to incidents.

Mr. J. A. Symonds is engaged upon the sequel to his Renaissance in Italy. This book will deal with the period between 1530 and 1600. Mr. Symonds proposes to treat of the changes effected in Italian politics, society, and culture by the Spanish ascendancy and the Catholic revival. He will probably call the book Italy and the Council of Trent.

Herr W. Friedrich, of Leipzig, will publish shortly a history of Russian literature, by Alexander von Reinhold, forming vol. vii. of the series, “Geschichte der Weltlitteraturen im Einzeldarstellungen.” The prospectus, issued by the publishers, claims that the book will far surpass in completeness and accuracy all previous works on this subject.

A droll incident occurred recently at Scotland Yard, London. Mr. Charles Gibbon, the novelist, has a friend there who is an inspector of the detective department, and to whom he is indebted for valuable instruction in the details of criminal procedure. In recognition of this service he forwarded to his friend a copy of the book just published entitled “A Hard Knot,” one of the principal characters in which is a detective. The parcel was done up in brown paper and delivered late in the evening by the Parcels Delivery Company, This was the information forwarded to Mr. Gibbon on the following day:

“Inspector —— was on duty here last night, and it is usual for the officer to turn in about 11.30 P.M. But having received the parcel, he informed me this morning that he was unable to sleep—wondering if it contained dynamite and every minute was to be his last. After turning over and over in bed, he at length got up and examined his bugbear carefully. Then, seeing your name on it, he felt satisfied, went to bed, and slept.”

Professor Blackie is not the only eccentric master the young men of Edinburgh University have had over them. Professor Christison—whose son became eminent in the Edinburgh Medical School—once having caught a290 student winking in his Latin class ordered him to stand up, and spoke as follows: “No smirking, no smiling, and above all, no tipping of the wink; for such things are hurtful to yourselves, baneful to the republic, and will bring down the gray hairs of your parents with sorrow to the grave. Hum! by the way, that’s a very pretty sentence; turn it into Latin, sir.”

The World of London has conspicuously suggested Mr. Lowell for the Merton Professorship of English Language and Literature at Oxford.

A fine monument has been erected at Ormiston, East Lothian, to the memory of Dr. Robert Moffat, the famous missionary to Africa.

Some interesting autographs were recently sold at auction in London. The original autograph copy of Lord Byron’s “Fare thee well! and if forever,” fetched $85; the originals of Burns’s “Tam O’Shanter” and “Lament of Mary, Queen of Scots” together fetched $760; one of Lord Chesterfield’s letters to his son, $15; thirteen letters of Dean Swift, from $38 to $85 each, and one of Charles Lamb, from Paris, $65.

The commission intrusted with the publication of the correspondence of Peter the Great has collected up to now 8,000 letters and other documents, among which are the copy-books used by the emperor when a child, and one letter written to his mother in 1688 from Pereyslavl, giving her an account of the work of rigging the ships then in course of construction on the lake of that name. It is stated that these documents will be printed with as little delay as possible.

The remainder of the famous Salamanca collections are now being dispersed at Madrid. The library was formed mainly by Señor Gayangos, and was rich in works of chivalry and early editions of “Don Quixote.” Most of the rarest books had already found a resting-place on the shelves of Señor Cánovas del Castillo and other collectors. The portion now sold, for which a bookseller gave 700l., comprised general works with a sprinkling of rarities. One of these, a work but little known by Boccaccio, entitled “Caida de Príncipes,” translated into Spanish in the sixteenth century, led to a lively competition; a reprint of this work is promised shortly. When the last of these volumes shall have been sold, nothing will remain of the treasures acquired at great cost by that prince of financiers the late Marquis of Salamanca. 291

The Marquis of Lorne’s volume on “Imperial Federation,” is announced for immediate publication in England.

Othmar” is the title of Ouida’s forthcoming story. The scene is laid in Russia and the novel is said to be full of dramatic incident.

A little girl—the granddaughter of the Rev. Cazneau Palfrey—said to her mother the other day: “Mamma, I feel so strangely when I read Hawthorne, it seems as if I was reading through a veil.” Of course this was a Boston babe.

Prince William, eldest son of the Crown Prince of Germany, is about to publish a book on “The Wars of Cæsar in the Light of Modern Strategy.”

The immediate publication of the MS. diary of Shakespeare’s cousin, the Town Clerk of Stratford-on-Avon, is announced. The volume will consist of autotypes of the folio pages of the MS., a transcript by experts of the British Museum, an introduction by Dr. Ingleby, and an appendix of documents illustrative of the diary, and some of them never before printed. The diary extends from 1613 to 1616—the years of Shakespeare’s residence at Stratford previous to his death on the 5th of May (April 23 O. S.) of the latter year. From beginning to end it is a record of the attempts made to enclose, and of the resistance offered to the enclosure, of the common fields of Stratford, in which Shakespeare was interested, not only as a freeholder, but also as the owner of a moiety of the tithes.

Among the brilliant young Englishwomen, who are making a name in contemporary literature, is Miss Violet Paget, the Vernon Lee whose “Miss Brown” has caused some scandal among the London pre-Raphaelites. She lives on the terreno of No. 5 Via Garibaldi, Florence, and is not quite twenty-four years of age. She is a brilliant talker, and if sometimes sophistical, is never without a clever reason for her sometimes extreme and startling opinions. Her reading is astounding in its extent and variety; her memory more remarkable still. Some of the most striking essays, which have appeared in the English magazines and reviews during the last five years, on Italian art, history, and literature have been from her pen. Her time is greatly taken up with the care of her half-brother, Eugene Hamilton, the poet. The fate of this brilliant young man is a very sad one. He was in the Government service during the Siege of Paris and at the Geneva Alabama Claims Confer292ence and was so overworked that he brought on a disease of the spine which has buried him in what Heine calls a “mattress grave.” Miss Paget’s mornings are devoted to riding with her brother, and whatever time she has for individual work is in the night or between the return from this drive and four in the afternoon, when her brother’s callers begin to arrive. Miss Paget is a great admirer of Henry James, is an omnivorous reader, an illogical but often wonderfully intuitive exponent of mediævalism, and a deadly enemy of the æsthetic movement.

The Royal Spanish Academy has published in the Madrid Gazette the conditions of a literary competition of considerable interest, to those at least conversant with Spanish literature. The temptation, in the shape of profit as well as of honor, should develop latent talent if it exists. The Academy proposes to give the successful author a gold medal, about 120l. in money, and 500 copies of the book. The first competition is for the best biographical and critical study upon Tirso de Molina; the second for a romancero upon the lines of the “Romancero del Cid,” the subject being Don Jaime el Conquistador, the volume to contain not fewer than twenty nor more than fifty romances. The manuscripts of the romancero must be furnished not later than March, 1886, and the Tirso, March, 1887.

The translation of the “Mahâbhârata” published at Calcutta by Protap Chandra Roy, and distributed gratuitously, is not only progressing regularly, but begins to excite more and more interest among the people of India. Several Indian princes have contributed largely toward the funds necessary for carrying on this enormous work, more particularly the Maharajah of Cashmere, the Nawab Khayeh Abdul Gani Bahadoor, the generous Maharanee Swarnamayee, the Guikwar of Baroda, the Maharajah of Travancore, etc. More funds, however, were wanted, and it is pleasant to hear that Babu Govinda Lal Roy, a rich zemindar of Rungpore, has on the occasion of his daughter’s marriage undertaken to bear all the expenses of the English translation of one of the largest books of the “Mahâbhârata,” the “Vana Parva,” or Forest Book.

A work so rare that its existence might have been doubted has lately found its way from Persia to the British Museum. The historian Hamdullah Mustaufi says, in his preface to the “Guzidah,” that he was engaged upon the composition of a rhymed chronicle of293 the Muslim world, which would consist when completed of no less than 75,000 verses. That voluminous work, which, for all we knew, had never been seen or heard of since, has been found. To Mr. Sidney Churchill, of Teheran, belongs the credit of having discovered it in private hands at Shiraz, and secured it, not without a long and severe struggle with the owner, for the national library. It is entitled “Zafar Namah,” and forms a bulky and closely written quarto, richly ornamented with frontispiece and gilt headings, and dated Shiraz, 807, i.e., 1405 of our era. It contains the author’s nom de guerre, Mustaufi, and comprises, according to the epilogue, the precise number of verses announced beforehand, viz., 75,000. Of these the first 25,000 are devoted to the Arabs, i.e., to Mohammed and his successors down to the fall of the Califate of Bagdad; the next 20,000 to the Persians, or to the dynasties of Iran from the Saffaris to the Karakhitais of Kerman; and the last 30,000 to the Moghols. This last section, the largest and most valuable, beginning with the origin of the house of Genghizkhan, treats very fully of the foundation of the Moghol empire of Hulagu, and of his successors in Persia down to Abu Sa’id Bahadur Khan, the last of the dynasty, under whom the author lived. The history is brought down to the time of composition, A.H. 735, A.D. 1334, just one year before Abu Sa’id’s death.


The Migrations of Birds.—Among all the migrants the swallow has, perhaps, attracted most attention in all ages and countries. It arrives in Sussex villages with remarkable punctuality; none of the migrants perform their journeys more rapidly than the swallows and their congeners. A swift with young ones, or during migration, covers from 1500 to 2000 miles a day. It begins business feeding its young about three o’clock A.M., and continues it till nine P.M. At that season, therefore, the swift spends nearly eighteen hours upon the wing, and it has been computed that at the ordinary rate of travelling of this very fast bird it would circumnavigate the globe in about fourteen days. At a push, if it were making forced flights, the swift would probably keep on the wing, with very brief intervals of rest, during fourteen days. The speed of the whole tribe is marvellous, and seems the more so when compared294 with that of the swiftest of animals that depend for their progressive powers on legs, however many legs they may be furnished with. The hare is swift, yet in Turner’s well-known picture of rain, steam, and speed the hare’s fate is sealed; she will be run over and crushed by the engine rushing in her wake. The swiftest animals would soon break down at forty miles an hour, which the swallow unconsciously accomplishes, merrily twittering all the while. All the swallow tribe are found in every part of Great Britain, including Shetland, except the swift, which is not found in those islands. Dr. Saxby, author of “Birds of Shetland,” says that one day a poor fellow, a cripple, who happened at the time to be exceedingly ill off and in want of food, came to him with a swallow in his hand. The doctor ordered the man some dinner. It seems he had opened his door, restless and half famished, when in flew the swallow and brought him, so to speak, a dinner. “After this,” said the poor fellow, “folk need na tell me that the Lord does na answer prayer.” The swallow can hardly be inelegant. When it walks, however, it does so with particularly short steps, assisted by the wings, and in accomplishing any journey longer than a few inches it spreads its wings and takes flight. It twitters both on the wing and on the nest, and a more incessant, cheerful, amiable, happy little song no other musician has ever executed. Much has been said of that “inexplicable longing” and “incomprehensible presentiment of coming events” which occasion birds to migrate from certain districts before the food supplies begin to fail. Quails, woodcocks, snipes, and many other birds, it is said, are in the finest condition at the time of commencing their migration, while none of them are emaciated at that season, so that the pinch of hunger, it is argued, cannot have yet affected them. But it should be remembered that fat as well as lean birds may feel that pinch, and that birds are very fast-living creatures, full of life, movement, and alertness, quick to observe, to feel, and to act. In the rapid digestion of their food they are assisted by a special organ which grinds down such items as grain, gravel, nails, or needles, swallowed in mistake or from caprice or curiosity, with astonishing facility. They prefer feeding nearly all day, and when fully crammed they sometimes become as plump as ortolans, or as well-fed quails, whose skin bursts when they fall to the gun. But when the appetite is urgent, obesity does not by any means preclude hunger. Twelve hour295s’ fast and snow and a change of wind are very urgent facts in the lives of these quick creatures in the autumn of the year, and then begins that sudden migration which the lighthouse-keepers have observed. It is impossible to imagine creatures more practical and full of action and freer from “presentiments” than birds, engaged as they are from day to day snatching their food at Nature’s board. Perhaps we may compare them to the guests of Macbeth, since all goes well so long as the ghost abstains from making his appearance; but very suddenly sometimes, in the case of the northern birds, the spectre of hunger puts them to flight. Fat or lean, they must go on the instant, and that is why they arrive pell-mell upon our coast; but, as the country to be cleared of its birds of summer is extensive, and the distances of the journeys various, they naturally arrive at intervals. The migrations of birds are world-wide. The birds of North America make corresponding movements to those of Northern Europe, travelling in a north-easterly and south-westerly direction and at the same seasons. The countries of the Gulf of Mexico form the chief retreat of the North American migrants, especially Mexico itself, with its three zones and great variety of climate. But some of them go as far as the West Indies and New Granada. A great number winter in the Southern States. Their method of migration is the same as that which has been described elsewhere. They follow the routes marked out by nature. The kinds of birds are in many cases the same, or they are at least American representatives of the same families that form the migrants of the Old World. They travel southwards in the autumn and return again in spring. The migrants of the southern hemisphere are constrained by their situation to reverse the direction of their periodic movements, flying northwards to escape the rigor of winter and returning south in spring. From March to September some of the most inhospitable regions of the south are quite deserted; even the wingless penguins quit their native shores of Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands after the breeding season and swim to milder regions, while many of the birds which have bred in Patagonia and Southern Chili depart on the approach of winter. The same rules, according to Gould, govern the movements of birds in Australia, where several species migrate in summer to the southern portion of the Continent and to Tasmania to breed.—Edinburgh Review.


Oriental Flower Lore.—During a residence of some years in the East, I have had abundant opportunities of studying the folk lore of the people inhabiting the vast empire of China, the Malay Peninsula, and the adjoining lands, and I have found their lore to be of the profoundest interest and importance. The facts which I shall now submit to the reader have not been culled at second-hand from the writings of travellers or stay-at-home translators, but were gleaned from the lips and homes of the people themselves, or during my personal residence in the East, where I had every opportunity of verifying the results of my investigations. As being the most familiar to Europeans, we will begin with the use of the Orange, a plant which, by reason of its bearing fruits and flowers at the same time, and during the greater part of the year, has been taken as the symbol of fertility andprosperity. In China the word for a “generation” is tai; in Japan the same word means both “generation” and “orange.” Now see the way in which the language of flowers and fruits speaks out in the East. When the new year arrives the Japanese adorn their houses with branches of orange, plum, bamboo, and pine, each of which being placed over the entrance, has a symbolic meaning. The orange, called dai-dai, represents the idea of perpetuity, or the wish that there may be dai-dai—“generation on generation”—to keep up the family name. The bamboo signifies constancy, as it is a wood which never changes its color; the pine-tree symbolises perpetual joy; while the plum-tree, blossoming in cold weather, encourages man to rejoice in time of trouble, and hope for better days. In China there are many kinds of oranges, one of which is known in Canton as kat. Hundreds of years before Christ this name was in use in China, as we know from its mention in the classic writings of that land. In Fuchan this word takes the form of kek, and in other parts of the empire it will be pronounced somewhat differently still, but whether it be kat, or kek, or kih, the syllable has a lucky meaning. Consequently, when the New Year arrives, the people procure large quantities of these oranges, in order that they may be able to express to their friends who call to see them their wish that good luck may attend them during the coming year. This they do by handing them an orange, and the lads who at this season pay a number of visits to their relatives and friends come off well, as it would be considered both mean and improper to297 send away a guest without such a token of good-will. There is in bloom at this important season a sweet little Daffodil (Narcissus Tazetta), which is a great favorite with the people, and sells by thousands in Canton and other large cities. It bears the name of Shui sin fá, or “water fairy-flower,” and is cultivated in pots and stands of ornamental design filled with pebbles and water. A list of fairy flowers, or such as are by name and tradition in China associated with these “spirites of small folks.” The tree pæony, or montan, and the chrysanthemum, the chimonanthess, and other winter flowering plants, are also much sought after at this time, and each has its meaning. The costliness of the former has led to its being designated by the Cantonese as “the rich man’s flower,” while the chrysanthemum is such a favorite in Japan as to give its name to one of their great festivals. I must not here omit to mention the Citron, famous for the curious fruit it bears. This fruit, the peel of which is employed among ourselves in a candied form for flavoring certain confectioneries at Christmas, grows in a very strange fashion. Though it belongs to the orange and lemon family, yet one variety has fruits of monstrous shapes, very nearly resembling in form the hand of Buddah, with two of the fingers bent in a novel manner, as represented in the paintings and figures of that divinity. On this account the fruits bear the name of Fu-shan, or “Buddah’s hand.” This peculiarity, arising from the carpels or divisions of the fruit being more or less separated from each other and covered with a common rind, has led to the custom of placing it in porcelain and other costly dishes before the household gods, or on the altars in the temples at this particular season. It should be noted that while some fruits are specially agreeable to the gods, others are regarded as altogether unfit for their use. Sometimes the fruit is tabooed because of its smell, while its color, time and place of growth, shape and use, all have weight in coming to a decision. In Penang, some years ago, I had the opportunity of attending an important festival at the little shrine near the famous waterfall, at the time of the new year, and I then observed that bananas and cocoa-nuts were the most acceptable offerings, and as the devotees came and presented them at the temple, the priest would cleave the nut in two and divide the bunch of plantains, returning half to the worshipper, and retaining half as the temple perquisite.—Time.


What’s in a Name?—When we are told that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” the fact appears to be self-evident. Yet there was a time when there was something in a name. We have abundant evidence from the history of the ancients, and from observations of savage tribes, to show that they believed in some inseparable and mysterious connection between a name and the object bearing it, which has given rise to a remarkable series of superstitions, some of which have left traces even amongst ourselves. The Jews believed that the name of a child would have a great influence in shaping its career; and we have a remarkable instance of this sort of superstition in quite a different quarter of the world. Catlin, the historian of the Canadian Indians, tells us that when he was among the Mohawks, an old chief, by way of paying him a great compliment, insisted on conferring upon him his own name, Cayendorongue. “He had been,” Catlin explains, “a noted warrior; and told me that now I had a right to assume to myself all the acts of valor he had performed, and that now my name would echo from hill to hill over all the Five Nations.” A well-known writer points out that the Indians of British Columbia have a strange prejudice against telling their own names, and his observation is confirmed by travellers all over the world. In many tribes, if the indiscreet question is asked them, they will nudge their neighbor and get him to answer for them. The mention of a name by the unwary has sometimes been followed by unpleasant results. We are told, for instance, by Mr. Blackhouse, of a native lady of Van Diemen’s Land who stoned an English gentleman for having, in his ignorance of Tasmanian etiquette, casually mentioned the name of one of her sons. Nothing will induce a Hindu woman to mention the name of her husband; in alluding to him she uses a variety of descriptive epithets, such as “the master,” etc., but avoids his name with a scrupulous care. To such an extent is this superstition carried among some savage tribes that the real names of children are concealed from their birth upwards, and they are known by fictitious names until their death. The fear of witchcraft probably is the explanation of all those superstitions. If a name gets known to a sorcerer, he can use it as a handle wherewith to work his spells upon the bearer. When the Romans laid siege to a town, they set about at once to discover the name of its tutelary deity, so that they might coax the god into surrendering his charge. In order to prevent their receiving299 the same treatment at the hands of their enemies, they carefully concealed the name of the tutelary deity of Rome, and are said to have killed Valerius Soranus for divulging it. Reluctance to mention names reaches its height in the case of dangerous or mysterious agencies. In Borneo the natives avoid naming the small-pox. In Germany the hare must not be named, or the rye-crop will be destroyed; and to mention the name of this innocent animal at sea, is, or was, reckoned by the Aberdeenshire fishermen an act of impiety, the punishment of which could be averted only by some mysterious charm. The Laplanders never mention the name of the bear, but prefer to speak of him as “the old man with the fur-coat.” The motive here appears to be a fear that by naming the dreaded object his actual presence will be evoked; and this idea is preserved in one of our commonest sayings. Even if the object of terror does not actually appear, he will at least listen when he hears his name; and if anything unpleasant is said of him he is likely to resent it. Hence, in order to avoid even the semblance of reproach, his very name is made flattering. This phenomenon, generally termed euphemism, is of very common occurrence. The Greeks, for example, called the Furies the “Well-disposed ones;” and the wicked fairy Puck was christened “Robin Goodfellow,” by the English peasantry. The modern Greeks euphemise the name of vinegar into “the sweet one.” Were its real name to be mentioned, all the wine in the house would turn sour. We have an example of the converse of the principle of euphemism work in the case of mothers among the savage tribes of Tonquin giving their children hideous names in order to frighten away evil spirits from molesting them. It is, however, in the case of the most dreaded and most mysterious of all our enemies—Death—that the superstition becomes most apparent. “The very name of Death,” says Montaigne, “strikes terror into people, and makes them cross themselves.” Even the unsuperstitious have a vague reluctance to mentioning this dreaded name. Rather than say, “If Mr. So-and-so should die,” we say, “If anything should happen to Mr. So-and-so.” The Romans preferred the expression “He has lived” to “He is dead.” “M. Thiers a vécu” was the form in which that statesman’s death was announced; not “M. Thiers est mort.” The same reluctance is noticeable in mentioning the names of persons who are dead. A writer on the Shetland Isles tells us that no persuasion will induce a widow to mention her dead husband’s name.300 When we do happen to allude to a deceased friend by name, we often add some such expression as “Rest his soul!” by way of antidote to our rashness; and this expression seems to have been used by the Romans in the same way. As might be expected, we find this carried to a great extreme among savages. In some tribes, when a man dies who bore the name of some common object—“fire,” for instance—the name for fire must be altered in consequence; and as proper names among savages are almost invariably the names of common objects, the rapid change that takes place in the language and the inconvenience resulting therefrom may be imagined. Civilization has indeed made enormous progress from this cumbersome superstition to our own philosophy, which can ask with haughty indifference, “What’s in a name?”—Chambers’s Journal.

Historic Finance.—The first tithe on movables was granted, or enacted, by papal authority, in 1188, for the Second Crusade. From 1334 subsidies of a fifteenth on goods in general, and a tenth from tenants of the royal demesne, became the principal form of direct taxation. Poll taxes (so-called), varying according to rank, were levied in 1377 and 1380, and on other occasions, the maximum being 60 groats, the minimum 1 groat (4d.) for man and wife. Children under 16 were exempt; and hence the outrage which gave the immediate occasion of Wat Tyler’s insurrection. “A fifteenth and tenth,” however, speedily came to mean a fixed sum of about £38,000, gradually sinking with the decay of particular towns to £32,000, levied by a fixed assessment on each shire and borough. A tax thus limited became, with the growth of national wealth and needs, ridiculously inadequate. A new land tax of 5 per cent. was granted in 1404, and a graduated income tax in 1435. But the customs on wool and hides exported and 2s. per ton on wine imported, with a general poundage of 6d. ad valorem on other exports and imports, were the only permanent and regular revenue of the Crown, and during the War of the Roses almost the sole addition to the yield of the royal estates. This hereditary revenue, however, sufficed for the ordinary expenses both of the State and the household. The great popularity of Edward IV. with the citizens, especially of London, enabled him to raise considerable benevolences, a practice which, forbidden by act of Parliament on the accession of Richard III., was resumed and carried to an often oppressive extent by Henry301 VIII. and his children. The old fifteenths and tenths were still granted from time to time, but under the Tudors were accompanied by subsidies in the nature of an income tax of 4s. on the rental of lands and 2s. 8d. on the total value of goods—yielding about £80,000. Each subsidy was accompanied by a clerical grant of 6s. in the pound of annual value, worth about £20,000. The last grant made to Elizabeth was of four subsidies and eight fifteenths and tenths, amounting in all perhaps to £640,000.—The Saturday Review.

The Three Unities.—As we have said, the groundwork of “The Cid” is wholly Spanish, but the beautiful poetry of many of the lines is wholly Corneille’s. And had Corneille been allowed to follow his own instincts, and write his play as his spirit moved him, it would probably be free from many of its absurdities. He was bound to observe the laws of “the three unities,” which the French pedants of those days thought necessary to make incumbent upon every one who wrote for the stage. These ignorantly learned men imagined that Aristotle on his own authority had promulgated laws to be observed in the composition of a dramatic poem, and that they should be always binding. The events in every play were to be comprised within 24 hours, the scene could not be changed, and in the play there should be only one interest or one line of action. These laws were as the sword of Damocles held over the heads of the French dramatists as they sat at their work. Richelieu had lent his voice in favor of the edict, and they dreaded being found guilty of insubordination. The authority of Aristotle was too high to be questioned, and because the Greek writers had so written they must be followed. The great Condé expressed himself as being terribly bored by a tragedy by the Abbé d’Aubignac. A friend of the author tried to excuse the play, saying that it was written exactly after the precepts of Aristotle. Condé replied: “I am charmed that the Abbé d’Aubignac should have followed Aristotle so carefully, but I cannot forgive Aristotle for having made the Abbé d’Aubignac write such a detestable tragedy!”—All the Year Round.

A Sunday-School Scholar.—Here is the pith of a talented youngster’s paper on the “Good Samaritan:” “A certing man went down from jerslam to jeriker, and he fell among thieves and the thorns sprang up and choaked him—whereupon he gave tuppins to302 the host, and praid take care on him and put him hon his hone hass. And he past by on the other side.” This and the following are not, as might be supposed, American exaggerations, but authenticated instances of examiners’ experiences. The last specimen is in answer to the question, “Who was Moses?” “He lived in a hark maid of bullrushes, and he kept a golden calf and worshipt braizen snakes, and he het nothin but qwhales and manner for forty years. He was kart by the air while riding under a bow of a tree and he was killed by his son Abslon as he was hanging from the bow. His end was peace.”—Chambers’s Journal.

A Mahdi of the Last Century.—It is interesting to look back a hundred years and trace the career of a former Mahdi, the Prophet Mansour, the Sheikh Oghan-Oolō, who burst on the Eastern world in 1785 as the Apostle of Mahomet, and went forth conquering and to conquer till Constantinople sought his alliance, and Russia armed herself cap-à-pied to resist his advance. It was early in March, at the commencement of the Ramadan, that a solitary horseman rode into Amadie, a town of Kourdistan, wearing the green turban which marked him as a descendant of Mahomet, a white woollen garment girt about the hips with a leathern girdle, and a pair of yellow sandals. His imposing stature, dignified manners, flashing yet melancholy eyes, vast forehead, and magnificent black beard showed him to be a king among men; and the rigor of his fast, combined with the fervor of his perpetual prayers in the mosque which he never quitted, proved him in the eyes of the faithful to be a saint of the finest water. When Ramadan was over the new Prophet assumed the post of authority in the mosque which had witnessed his prayers and vigils, and proclaimed the twenty-four articles of a reformed creed. The majority of them were drawn from the Koran, others from the Mosaic statutes, some few were of Pagan origin, and the final item was the Christian maxim, “Thou shalt love the Lord with all thine heart, and thy neighbor as thyself.” This evangel was not, however, accepted with as much readiness as might have been anticipated. It was necessary to make a bold stroke and secure the wavering allegiance of the people of Amadie, so the Prophet declared that Mahomet, in his inscrutable wisdom, had chosen them to carry the new law to the Gentiles, and that to them would belong the exclusive right to punish impenitent sinners with the weapons he was303 about to send them. A few days later four men arrived from Sinope escorting a quantity of arms and ammunition of European manufacture. These worthies were all of different nationalities, one being Tabet Habib, a Persian merchant and money-lender of Scutari, another a Frenchman named Cléophe Thévenot, a third Camillo Rutigliano, a Neapolitan, and the fourth a German, or probably a Jew, called Samuel Goldemberg. The arms were at once distributed among the most enthusiastic converts, who, however, numbered less than a hundred. On April 20 the little band marched from Amadie to Taku, where the Prophet summoned the inhabitants, explained his mission, and read the new code of regulations. Those who gave in their allegiance were enrolled and armed, while the recalcitrants were put to the sword. The Prophet now found himself at the head of several thousand troops, undisciplined it is true, but amenable to the orders of such a ruling spirit as himself. They were approaching Bitlis, a fortified city containing about twenty thousand souls, defended by a fortress perched on an inaccessible rock, and garrisoned by five hundred Turkish troops. The Pasha in charge determined to show fight, so he summoned the citizens to the ramparts and confided the fortress to the soldiers. It was all in vain, for the invading army took Bitlis by assault, and the Prophet, by way of example, impaled the poor Pasha, his officers, and the chief men of the place, and delivered the city over to the tender mercies of his soldiers for three days and three nights. The army next marched to Mush, where the terrified Aga opened his gates, and the Prophet assured the inhabitants that no harm should befall them if they supplied his troops with fresh provisions, and all the young men between twenty and thirty enrolled themselves under his banners. The Prophet had a keen eye as a military tactician, for Erzeroum is the centre from which the caravan routes to Van, Trebizond, Tiflis, and Siwas, diverge. The conqueror turned northwards, taking possession of half a dozen towns as he went along, and at length sat down before the fortress of Akhalzik, which was then pretty much as it is now, a strongly fortified city on the Turco-Russian frontier, containing about 30,000 inhabitants and a Turkish garrison 5,000 strong. The Pasha and his troops defended themselves bravely, but after spending ten days in trenches before the walls, the Prophet ordered an assault, and Akhalzik fell as Bitlis had done at the outset. The Pasha and his officers were impaled, those who submitted were allowed to swell the conquering hosts, the impeni304tent and stubborn was massacred, and the city burned and sacked. As the troops stood shouting over the smoking ruins, they hailed their chief as “Mansour,” or the Victor, and by that name he is principally known to history. Recruits began to come in apace from all the neighboring provinces, and Mansour saw himself at the head of 40,000 men, poorly armed but ready for anything; so he marched straight on Erzeroum, the gates of which were open to him. The booty he always reserved for himself on entering a city was the right to choose all the most beautiful women as slaves; but he did it only to save them from the horrors that would otherwise have awaited them, and the shame of exposure in the bazaar. He neither loved nor trusted women, and had flung all passions save ambition behind him. If the Prophet Mansour had chosen at this moment to turn his arms against Constantinople, there is no doubt that he would have succeeded, and if he had become master of the Porte, it is probable that the “sick man” would never have troubled the councils of Europe. But instead of invading Turkey, he became its ally against Russia, apparently on the understanding that he was to be recognised as undisputed sovereign of all the countries he could rescue from the grasp of the Northern Bear. Kars fell into his hands after a bombardment of six hours. This secured his line of retreat, and he led his men over the mountains to Tiflis, where Heraclius, King of Georgia, awaited him on the marshy plain of Kours with an army of 50,000, 10,000 of whom were tried Russian troops, sent to his aid by Catherine. The opposing hosts were equal as to numbers; the tide of battle rose and fell for three long days, and Heraclius was totally defeated. Twenty-two thousand of his men were slain, and 10,000 taken prisoners and sold as slaves at Constantinople. Mansour took possession of the royal palace, abandoning the city of Tiflis to his soldiers, and in a letter written from thence he for the first time used the signature of Sheikh Oghan-Oolō. Turkey now began to see that her ally might very easily become her master, and endeavored to undermine his influence. He was perfectly aware of all her little intrigues, and when a courteous ambassador was sent to him, reproached him with the treason and perfidy of the Porte, and thundered forth a threat to go himself to Constantinople for an answer to the charge. In less than a month all preparations were made, and, assembling his large army, Mansour read to them a proclamation from Mahomet, commanding him to annihilate305 the Osmanlis and place a faithful prince on the throne of Constantinople. As the Prophet was quite aware that if he took Constantinople he would have to deal with the united strength of France, Austria, and Russia, he thereupon concluded an offensive and defensive alliance with the Sheikh-ul-Islam, and promised to turn his arms against Russia. From that moment fortune forsook Mansour. He returned to the Caucasus, and endeavored to raise the Lesghiens Tartars, and had a victorious engagement with the Russian general Apraxin, who had to retreat to Kashgar. Gradually the tribes and nations fell away from him, and gave in their allegiance to Catherine, and at last Mansour was closely besieged by General Gadowitz in Anapa, on the Black Sea. He refused to capitulate, and the Russian troops carried the town and fortress by assault. At the head of the long line of prisoners who defiled past the conqueror walked the Prophet, a noble and dignified figure even in his fall. Gadowitz himself presented Mansour to the Empress, who treated him with the respect due to a brave and gallant foe. She received him with every mark of honor, gave him an annual pension of about £4,000, and assigned to him a residence in the little town of Solowetz, on the Black Sea. There he entered a convent of Armenian monks, wrote his memoirs, and corresponded with his family until his death in 1798. This eighteenth century Mahdi thus ended his days in obscurity, and when but little past his prime. He no doubt died of ennui and disappointment, for adventure had been as the bread of life to his soul from babyhood. The most curious part of his story remains to be told. He was neither Sheikh nor Prophet, not even a Mussulman, and least of all an Oriental. His name was Jean Baptiste Boetti, and he was the son of an Italian notary, destined for the medical profession, which did not please him, and he ultimately became a Dominican monk. Little or nothing of all this would have been known had not Boetti, when figuring as the Prophet Mansour, been weak enough to write his own autobiography piecemeal at dead of night. He kept the manuscript in his jewel casket, but one day his chancellor, one of the three Europeans who were in his confidence, eloped with a lovely Georgian girl and the casket. On reaching Constantinople, this individual sold the papers to the representative of the King of Sardinia, and they were recently discovered by Professor Ottino, of Turin, among the archives of Piedmont.—Time.


[1] Bala Murgháb, where Sir P. Lumsden and his party have passed the winter, is apparently built on the site of the old city of Abshín, which was the capital of the Shárs of Gharshistan, a line of princes of great celebrity in Oriental history. The family was of Persian descent, and reigned in Gharshistan (the upper valley of the Murgháb) for nearly two centuries during the Samanide and Ghaznevide dynasties, the Shar Abu Nasar, who was defeated by Mahomud and died in captivity at Ghazni in A.H. 406, being one of the most learned men of his time.

2 See Pall Mall Gazette, March 2, 1885.

3 I may mention as an example, the township of Freudenstadt, at the foot of the Kniebis, in Baden. Not a single farthing of taxation has been paid since its foundation in 1557. The commune possesses about 5000 acres of pine forest and meadow land, worth about £10,000 sterling. The 1,420 inhabitants have each as much wood for their building purposes and firing as they wish for, and each one can send out to pasture, during the summer, his cattle, which he feeds during the winter months. The schools, church, thoroughfares, and fountains are all well cared for, and every year considerable improvements are made. 100,000 marks were employed in 1883 for the establishment in the village, of a distribution of water, with iron pipes. A hospital has been built, and a pavilion in the market-place, where a band plays on fête-days. Each year a distribution of the surplus revenue is made amongst the families, and they each obtain from 50 to 60 marks, or shillings, and more still when an extraordinary quantity of timber has been sold. In 1882, 80,000 marks were distributed amongst the 1,420 villagers. What a favored country, is it not?

4 A shilling a head from every person above fourteen years old.

5 Tyler, “being at work in the same town tyling of an house, when he heard” of the insult offered to his daughter, “caught his lathing staff in his hand and ran reaking home; when reasoning with the collector who made him so bold, the collector answered with stout words and strake at the tylar; whereupon the tylar, avoiding the blow, smote the collector with the lathing staff that the brains flew out of his head. Wherethrough great noise arose in the street, and the poor people being glad, every one prepared to support the said John Tylar.”—Stowe’s “Chronicle.”

6 Some will say that this is legend; but the illustration nevertheless may stand.

7 Other authorities make Essex the chief scene of Ball’s ministrations. See “Lives of English Popular Leaders,” 2nd Series, by C.E. Maurice, 1875.

8 The contemporary poet, Gower, has described one aspect of the rebellion in some Latin verses which amusingly indicate the names most common among the populace:—

Watte vocat, cui Thome venit, neque Symme retardat,
Bette que, Gibbe simul, Hykke venire jubet,
Colle furit, quem Gibbe juvat, nocumenta parantes,
Cum quibus ad damnum Wille coire vovet,
Grigge rapit, dum Davve strepit, comes est quibus Hobbe,
Larkin et in medio non minor esse putat,
Hudde ferit, quos Judde terit, dum Tebbe juvatur,
Jakke domos virosque vellit, et ense necat.

Some of the chroniclers represent “Jack Straw” as only an alias of Wat Tyler, but they were evidently two different persons.

9 “Vir versutus et magno sensu præditus.”—Walsingham, i. 463.

10 “It was said that the insurgents as they went along were killing all the lawyers and jurymen; that every criminal who feared punishment for his offences had joined himself to them; that masters of grammar-schools had been compelled to forswear their profession, and that even the possession of an inkhorn was dangerous to its owner. Most of the rumors were, no doubt, the mere inventions of the excited imaginations of the chroniclers or their informants. The orderly conduct of the army of Tyler when it was first admitted into London, and the definiteness of the demands which formed the basis of the charter granted by Richard, make the atrocities and absurdities of these acts alike improbable.”—C. E. Maurice, p. 164.

11 It is possible that some of the points above mentioned were among these reserved demands. If so, the king conceded them to Tyler, verbally, before the catastrophe. But this is uncertain. The concessions are enumerated in Rymer’s “Fœdera,” vol. vii. p. 317.

12 Green’s “History of the English People,” vol. 1. p. 475.

13 For this information we are indebted to Mr. Overall, the courteous Librarian of the Guildhall Library.

14 “L’ère des révolutions est fermée! Je suis devenu Ministre, et le peuple entier entre au pouvoir avec moi.”

15 A play upon the title of “Contes Fantastiques d’Hoffmann”—a book which is popular in France.

16 “Tu es le plus cachotier des bavards.“

17 Clément Laurier used to be Gambetta’s chief political henchman. During the war he was sent to London to negotiate the Morgan Loan. But the Commune sickened him of Republicanism and he joined the Royalist ranks. He died in 1878, being then one of the Deputies for the Indre. His change of politics never impaired his private relations with Gambetta.

18 The Scrutin de Liste Bill was rejected in the Chamber of Deputies on the 27th January, 1882, by 282 to 227.

19 “Le ton fait la chanson, et Jules chantait faux.”

20 “L’Ouvrier,” “L’Ouvriére,” “L’Ouvrier de huit ans,” “Le Travail,” “La Peine de Mort,” &c., works couched in the purest philanthropy and which remind the working-man of all his grievances against society.

21 M. Wallon was the mover of the resolution: “that the Government of France be a Republic.” It was carried in the National Assembly, 1875, by a majority of one vote.

22 There were mistakes all round in that 15th May business. The Conservatives should have allowed the Republicans a little more rope. If the Simon Cabinet had been overthrown by a vote of the Left, and if another Liberal Administration had been put up to meet with the same fate—then would have been the time to dissolve the Lower House. But the Royalists were too impatient. They called for a national condemnation of Republicanism before the nation had grown tired of Republican dissensions. The 16th May was the making of Gambetta as a leader, for up to that time he had only been a free lance—“un fou furieux,” as Thiers called him. He stepped into the place which ought to have been Simon’s.

23 M. Cochéry has been Minister of Posts and Telegraph under six successive Administrations.

24 Thus Kirchenoff has said (Prorectoratsrede, Heidelberg, 1865), “The highest object at which the natural sciences are constrained to aim is the reduction of all the phenomena of nature to mechanics;” and Helmholtz has declared (Populaer Wissenschaft liche Vorträge, 1869), “The aim of the natural sciences is to resolve themselves into mechanics.” Wundt observes (Lehrbuch der Physiologie des Menschen), “The problem of physiology is a reduction of vital phenomena to general physical laws, and ultimately to the fundamental laws of mechanics;” while Haëckel tells us (Freie Wissenschaft und freie Lehre) that “all natural phenomena without exception, from the motions of the celestial bodies to the growth of plants and the consciousness of men ... are ultimately to be reduced to atomic mechanics.”

25 In his work on The Unconscious, a translation of which has been lately published by Messrs. Trübner & Co.

26 Mr. Darwin tells us that two topknotted canaries produce bald offspring, due probably to some conflicting actions analogous to the interference of light.

27 See The Cat (John Murray, 1881), p. 7.

28 See Archives de Zool. expér. vol. ii. p. 414 vol. v. p. 174, vol. vi. p. 31; also Ann. des Sci. Nat. 4 séries, Zoologie, vol. iii. p. 119, vol. xv. p. 1, vol. xvii. p. 243; and his work Recherches sur la production artificielle des Monstruositées ou essais de Tératogénie expérimentale.

29 See Quarterly Journal of Micros. Soc., New Series, (1873), vol. xiii. p. 408, and vol. xvi. (1876) p. 27.

30 Tropical Nature, pp. 254-259.

31 Nature, 1576, June 8, p. 133. Schmankevitsch at Odessa.

32 In the mathematical sense of the word.

33 The existence of internal force must be allowed. We cannot conceive of a universe consisting of atoms acted on indeed by external forces, but having no internal power of response to such actions. Even in such conceptions as those of “physiological units” and “gemmules” we have (as the late Mr. G. H. Lewes remarked) given as an explanation that very power the existence of which in larger organisms had itself to be explained.

34 Problems of Life and Mind, ii. iii. iv. of Third Series, p. 85.

35 Life and Habit, p. 55.

36 Unconscious Memory, p. 30.

37 Thus a man wishing to aid another, but who by miscalculation causes his death, does an action which is “materially” homicidal, though “formally” his action is a virtuous one. Similarly a man may be “materially” a bigamist but not “formally,” as when he has married a second wife being honestly convinced that his first wife was dead.

38 Lessons from Nature, ch. xii. p. 374. John Murray, 1876.

39 Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 254.

40 Autobiographic Sketches, p. 337.

41 Rink, Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo, p. 43.

42 “And all the house showed clear as in the light of dawn.”—Theoc. xix. 30-40, ed. Ahrens.

Transcriber's Notes

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