« AnteriorContinuar »
at all events, worthy of serious discussion, and might be made practicable. National insurance would unquestionably be an immense advance upon the existing poor-la w system in England; and the promoters of the plan are certainly actuated by the noblest motives of philanthropy and patriotism.
Mr. Ruskin continues his strangely discursive papers on “Fiction: Fair and Foul.” In the present one he deals with Byron; but it is impossible to gather his true estimate of Byron from the maze of incoherent words here patched together.
Mr. W. S. Blunt, who knows more about Arabia, its people, and its products, than any other Englishman living, writes on the “ Thoroughbred Horse: English and Arabian.” He proposes the restoration to the English turf of races for horses of purely Arabian blood. Such a race has not been run there for the last hundred years. The article is essentially one for sporting men, giving as it does a great deal of fresh information at first hand on the subject of the Arab breed of horses.
Mr. Fitzedward Hall undertakes to cross swords with those precisians in the English language, who, like the late William Cullen Bryant, the American poet, are averse to the introduction of new phrases of doubtful lingual propriety. The article reads like a chapter out of a voluminous work on Etymology; but it bespeaks a large knowledge of the subject.
The Earl of Dunraven gives us another of his delightful sketches of life in the Far West. This time he is in Colorado, which is a splendid region in the Rocky Mountains, with scenery that is at once varied, beautiful, grand, and even magnificent; crystal streams of exquisite purity; and a climate unsurpassed in the world for refreshing the wearied mind and unstrung frame. There is noble sport to be had there, and Lord Dunraven gives a very spirited account of his prowess amongst the wild deer.
Mr. Edward Dicey writes on “Egyptian Liquidation," telling the story of the commission appointed some time since by the English and French Governments to investigate the financial affairs of the country of the Pharaohs. The benefits accruing from the labours of that commission are very great, and chief amongst them was the forced deposition of the late Khedive, whose rapacity and tyranny fairly distanced all precedent. Egypt is now, in fact, in the hands of the Western money-lenders, and therefore there is some chance of decent government for its long-oppressed people.
The old topic of animal magnetism is revived by Mr. J. G. Romanes, under its new name of Hypnotism. The article is based on a recent German work on the subject. Forty years ago, Dr. Braid published a book on the subject, "which, curiously enough, anticipated nearly all that this new German work has to tell, although Mr. Romanes claims for its author that he records his own original experiences.
Mr. John Payne rehabilitates the reputation of François Villon, the old French poet of evil memory. It is a strange life, that of the brilliant but profligate rhymer, and it is graphically told here. The central incident in it—the fatal quarrel between Villon and Philippe Chermoyeis narrated in full detail. It led to Villon's becoming a burglar and an outlaw, his arrest, trial, condemnation, and sentence to death. He escaped through court favour, however, but was banished, lived wildly and wickedly, and died—or rather perished-miserably at thirty. Still, Villon was a marvellous poet, for his time; if not quite so great a poet as Mr. Payne would fain make out.
A concluding paper, the “Burials Bills and Disestablishment,” may be passed over unread, even though the question is learnedly argued by the Rev. Dr. Barry.
THE CONTEMPORARY REVIEW. The Duke of Argyll gives us the first instalment of his work on the “Unity of Nature,” which is designed as a sequel to his “ Reign of Law." In this preliminary chapter he defines and illustrates his theme. The article is a most masterly one, ably written, and evincing a painstaking mastery of the most recent discoveries in modern science. No reader who desires to keep up with the march of intelligence can afford to pass it by. So far as the definition of a true unity in Nature goes, the assertion of a real Universe, the reasoning is conclusive; and the conception set forth is magnificent.
Heine's life and writings are critically estimated by Mr. Charles Grant, in a paper which shows thorough literary skill. As is here claimed for him, Heine was a perfect literary artist, and a second Goethe as to intellectual capacity. But his writings are not translatable into English, and still less into French; although, if ever there was a German Frenchman, or a French German, it was Heinrich Heine. Mr. Grant is an enthusiast, and a most competent literary judge; and, therefore, his paper is well worth a careful perusal.
“What is to be the future of Canada ?” is the question asked, and answered, by Mr. George Anderson, M.P. The opinion given is that Canada is gradually drifting towards a severance from Great Britain, and consequent union with the United States. But Mr. Anderson does not put his case very forcibly; and he is not a practised journalist. Probably, an editor in Quebec or Montreal would show cause on the other side to more conclusive purpose.
Mr. François Lenormant concludes his exceedingly erudite, and unreadable, essay on the “Eleusinian Mysteries." The style is so wondrously learned, that it is next to impossible to glean what the theory advanced really is; but, apparently, Mr. Lenormant is bent upon resolving the greatest mysteries of antiquity into simple mythological fables. If so, the explanation simply explains away the mysteries. It is another case of great learning and immense labour lavished in pure waste.
Colonel Osborne writes in his own trenchani style of the “ Last Phase of Afghan War.” As usual, the paper takes the shape of a terrible impeachment of the Indian Government, both past and present. The Afghans are represented as a “brave and high-spirited people, who are merely fighting for that freedom which every Englishman, worthy of the name, values as his greatest privilege. The English, of course, are merciless marauders and invaders. Colonel Osborne does not take sufficient account of the wholesale murder of Sir Louis Cavagnari and his suite, as a warrant for the hostile march of General Roberts into Afghanistan. But he always writes spiritedly, and wrathfully.
A delightful paper on the “Sonnet in England,” by Mr. J. A. Noble, follows. It is one of those contributions that book-lovers tear out of a miscellaneous magazine and preserve. Mr. Noble writes lovingly, and with a full knowledge of a topic that never cloys on the literary taste. The basis of the article is a book entitled “Å Treasury of English Sonnets,” by Mr. D. M. Main, recently published in Manchester. Sir Thomas Wyat it was who first “acclimatised” the sonnet in England; and what a glorious treasury of these poetic gems has been since gathered together! Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Keats, Shelley, and Leigh Hunt, with many more. What jewels of price“ infinite riches in a little room”--they have bequeathed to posterity! An appreciation of the sonnet-literature of England is a test of any man's intellectual culture.
Professor S. W. Thompson discusses the subject of “ Apprenticeship,” which institution is fast falling to decay in England. The new conditions of artisan labour have out-grown the old institution. A thoroughly new system is urgently needed; and Professor Thompson believes that the English masters must go to France to find their model for it.
Chief Justice Gorrie, of Fiji, gives a most enthusiastically-written account of that new island-colony. He writes with rapture of its scenery, its extent, and natural resources, breaking out into poetry as he proceeds; and he predicts for it a great future, when Englishmen come to know what magnificent possibilities it presents to enterprise. This may be, but there has been a stumble or two at the threshold.
The “ Eastern Statesman” writes again on the impending crisis in Turkey. There is no hope : the Turk is perishing, and must die. He is perishing of incurable internal disease. The Western Powers, even if they combined to save him, could not save him from his inevitable fate. But at least they can take measures for the preservation of the subject Christian provinces of the Turkish empire. This they are bound to do in the interests of common humanity.
Professor Geddes briefly maintains, in reply to Professor Stuart Blackie, his belief in several Homers.
THE FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW. Criticising the critics is but barren work at best; but criticising the critics of the critics is quite intolerable. Therefore Mr. Grant Allen's paper on “The Ways of Orthodox Critics” may be passed without a word of comment. Some resolute devourer of printed paper may be able to read it, but he is to be pitied if he does. Why editors accept and print such contributions as this one passes all comprehension.
Mr. J. H. Nelson gives some account of the manner in which justice is administered in the courts at Madras—a topic in which Australian readers cannot possibly take any interest.
“Mental Imagery” is a theme taken up by Mr. Francis Galton. The faculty of visualising objects mentally is fairly vivid, but incomplete, in Englishmen ; it is higher in females than in men; the Bushmen of South Africa possess it in a high degree; it is a natural gift, and has a tendency to be inherited; other savage races besides the Bushmen possess it in some degree; and it is varied in quality in different individuals. This faculty of visualising mentally is capable of cultivation, and ought to be cultivated in children. Such are Mr. Galton's deductions from a large collection of tabulated personal experiences. But, the truth is, all such generalising is baseless, inasmuch as the power of realising objects in the mind alone varies immensely in the same individual in different states of the brain. In fever, for example, the objects mentally imagined are as distinct as the real objects; and then, what approach can be made towards a scientific explanation of the phenomena of dreaming?
Mr. R. H. Patterson reviews the history, social and commercial, of California. There is nothing to an Australian reader that is new in the paper. Mr. Patterson thinks that the Chinese invasion is likely to overrun the whole world of the Pacific, and to change the fortunes even of the United States.
Mr. J. D. Lewis argues that the idea of a “Visible Church” is not Christian, at least in the sense in which Anglicans hold that doctrine. The argument is logically and learnedly sustained, but is rather dry reading
The French people have recently adopted as their day of national festival the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille. Apropos to this occasion, Mr. Augustus Čraven translates from a MS. a narrative of the incidents attending the event of 1789, written by M. Louis Guillaume Pitra, one of the Representatives of the People. It is very graphically written, stirring, and exultant in tone, and is the most notable article in a singularly meagre number of this Review.
Sir Arthur Hobhouse contributes some reflections on the “Afghan Imbroglio," and falls foul of Sir Henry Rawlinson, Sir Bartle Frere, and the Indian Government. This writer, in fact, takes the same bitterly hostile view of Indian affairs that is taken by Colonel Osborne and Mr. Hyndman.
The editor's summary of Home and Foreign Affairs is, as usual, lucidly written, and is strongly defensive of the Gladstone Ministry and their policy.
The political article is given the place of honour in the September number, contrary to wont. It is smartly written, and the drift of it is an exposure of Mr. Gladstone's inconsistency, and a laudation of the House of Lords for rejecting Mr. Forster's Irish Tenants' Compensation Bill.
The story of “Dr. Wortle's School” is continued, through exactly the same kind of social complications that are to be found, scarcely without a variation, in all Mr. Anthony Trollope's recent novels. Of course, "the Bishop" is the central figure in the imbroglio, and there is a great flutter amongst the quiet people who live in the close hard-by the cathedral.
A biographical sketch of Sir James Outram, the “Bayard of the East," is done in Blackwood's best style, and is based on Major-General Goldsmid's life of the Indian hero. Outram was one of that constellation of bright military stars which shine for ever in the sky of Briton's Indian empire, and one of England's greatest soldiers. His life was that of a knight of the age of chivalry, sans peur et sans reproche.
“A Week at Athens” is written by a scholarly and observant traveller. It was his first visit, and he writes with all the enthusiasm of a youthful Oxford graduate, out for his holiday. He lingers fondly over the superb remains of old Greek art, describing and moralising the while; and makes excursions to Kolonos, Marathon, and the Tomb of Themistocles. “Go to Athens, and behold for yourself its glories and its marvels!" is his parting advice to all cultured Englishmen.
A capital short story of the real stamp, entitled “A Lasting Memory,” will be eagerly read, of course, by everybody who takes up the number.
“Bush-life in Queensland” has reached its tenth instalment, and without flagging in the least degree. Every line of the narrative impresses one with the conviction that these sketches are written on the spot, by a first-class writer, and are true to actual life in every detail. Queensland readers must recognise the originals at once. One of the chapters gives an account of an expedition with the black troopers, most graphically recounted.
A sharply critical pen deals with a batch of new novels, and gives some incisive strokes to Miss Broughton, Mr. Blackmore, and Mr. George Meredith. The latter gentleman's literary affectations are something quite phenomenal, even in modern fiction; and yet he has his little circle of admirers.
Under its new editor, Fraser is trying hard to regain its ancient prestige, but hardly, as it seems, successfully. President Tulloch is a good Scotch theologian of a certain school, but he does not rank high in the army of general literature.
Mr. Andrew Lang embodies in a sketch entitled “ The Romance of the first Radical,” some of the primitive traditions and practices of the Australian aborigines, as well as some political irony.
A biographical sketch of Alexander Russel, prince of Scotch journalists, and for many years editor of the Scotsman newspaper, is well worth reading. Russel was a man of the Christopher North type, a great angler and salmon hunter, a jolly fellow, and a powerful penman. He made the Scotsman for Scotland what Captain Sterling made the Times for England and the civilised world. He wrote much, and always well; his information was extensive and varied. The article abounds in good anecdotes, quite fresh and racy, even though they are Scotch. An old crabbed Aberdonian, for example, on first seeing St. Paul's Cathedral, candidly owned that it “made a clean fule o' the Kirk o' Fittie.” A Scotch bailie, on first seeing the Pyramids, simply inquired, “What idiot biggit thae things?” An Irish colonel wrote in an inn-album, “I stopped here by mere chance, and would recommend everybody to do the same." A clerical friend, to Russel's question whether he was an angler, replied that he was only a fisher of men. “Then,” retorted Russel, “ I am afraid you don't make much of it; for I looked into your creel on Sunday, and there was very little in it.”
Mr. Blackmore concludes his clever story of “Mary Anerley,"_like all his novels, at once delightful, disappointing, and sadly overweighted in style, but to the last degree racy. The “Maid of Sker” is a masterpiece.
Nr. Grant Allen writes like a lawyer on “Landowning and Copyright.” Being an Irish Liberal, Mr. Allen holds that there must be absolute ownership recognised in books, or works of art, but not in land; absolute, that is to say, in the sense of inalienable, and beyond the control of the State.
Miss Betham-Edwards gives a very pleasant account of an autumn spent in the Côte d'Or, in France, which is a great sporting country; where there is neither poverty nor beggary; where vines and fruit and flowers abound; where several families of relatives live under the same roof, to the great promotion of domestic affection and household economy; and where there are to be had no end of charming rural excursions.
The “Sugar Question” is dealt with by Mr. G. Baden Powell, who argues that the cultivation of beetroot for sugar, not a protective bounty, is the best means of reviving the perished industry of sugar-refining in England.
An agreeable literary article on the “Characters” of Sir Thomas Overbury, a fine old English writer, is contributed by Mr. James Purves. It is a capital essay for the Retrospective Review that ought to be still in existence.
“Calladon" is the title of a weird, mystic, allegorical story from the pen of Mr. Julian Hawthorne. The key to the allegory appears to be the relations of Soul, Mind, and Sense to the universe without. Nathaniel Hawthorne would have relished it greatly, and might have written it.
An article on the results of the late general election in the old country, which cost the candidates two millions sterling, is obsolete for Australian readers. A second political article sums up the results of the session of Parliament just concluded.
Sir George W. Cox discusses the Indian Question, condemning strongly the Afglian war, the Indian policy of the Beaconsfield Government, and the administration of Lord Lytton.