THE Magazines for February are so full of good papers, that we must make our account of them unusually brief. In the Nineteenth Century, Lord Sherbrooke takes advantage of the paralysis of Parliament to address to his old Tory friends a singularly incisive and not very lengthy " I told you so." The degradation of Parlia- ment, he thinks, is a direct consequence of the lowering of the suffrage, which he holds to have been entirely unnecessary. The Government of the country is now entrusted to the numerical
majority, and Members, accustomed to see force usurp the place of reason, "apply mechanical hindrances to arrest the progress of unwelcome legislation." There is no remedy for the lowering of
the suffrage, but there is for the arrest of business ; and Con- servative Members ought, in honour and decency, to assist in applying it. If the Government do not prevail, after making their present effort, obstruction will, as it were, be legalised by the positive refusal of the House to apply it to any adequate remedy. " It is a duel d, outrance from which it is impossible that both combatants can return alive." Either disorder must end, or violence must prevail. M. Reinach, a close follower of M. Gambetta, endeavours to justify his demand for the revision of the French Constitution, but as he only refers to the proposals for a modification of the Senate, and nobody in this country much objects to them, his paper rather lacks inter- est for Englishmen. He brings out the fact, however, that M.
Gambetta's scheme of electing one delegate for every 500 electors, instead of one delegate for every commune, would impart to the Senate a distinctly more democratic tone. The immense effect of that clause, which so greatly enlarges the influence of the urban communes, has been a little missed. Mrs. Kingsford repeats once more the well-worn but true argument that it is from anatomy, not vivisection, that surgeons have acquired their knowledge; and Mr. F. B. Thurber, of the New York Chamber of Commerce, once more points out the evil results of a Protectionist tariff. His special point is the way in which a high tariff manufactures great capitalists, who assist one another :—
" Instead of observing the common duty of common carriers to charge all shippers alike for like service, and fix a reasonable maximum quantity beyond which they will not carry cheaper for any shipper, the railways habitually discriminate unjustly between shippers, and always in the direction of making the rich richer, and the poor poorer. The Standard Oil Company is a case in point ; it was first made possible by railroad discriminations in its favour ; it has now practically broken down competition in a staple third in magnitude among our national exports ; and an article in the Atlantic Monthly recently estimated that it had doubled the wholesale price of petroleum oil, and that the profits of the company were one million dollars per month."
Mr. Thurber foresees danger from this cause, and so do we, but we do not understand his political economy. He says the " natural law " of trade tends to distribute wealth, instead of concentrating it in the bands of a privileged class. If he means that a privileged class of traders is forbidden by the natural laws of trade, we agree with him ; but if he means that the tendency of trade is to forbid gigantic aggregations of capital,
England ... 247,100,000 £108,150,000 Scotland ... ... 3,060,000 16,090,000 Ireland ... ... 4,450,000 7,220,000
This has not arisen from aggregation, for taking the rich to be persons who leave more than £5,000, the middle-class to be those who leave from £1,000 to £5,000, and the workers all the re- mainder, he finds as follows :—
—Number of Families --.,
... 86,833 222,500 Middle-class ...
... 782,100 1,824,400 Working-class...
... 4,341,067 4,629,100
It is a remarkable deduction from the official returns that Scot- land is now the richest country in the world for its population. The total wealth was :— we disagree. Trade, left to itself, tends to fall into the hands of the big man, who can sell a better article, offer more choice,.
and -take a less price than his smaller rival. Mr. Stewart was not enriched by privileges, and once enriched, no little mercer could afford to compete with him. Mr. Thurber is of opinion that in America, as well as England, the capitalist does not give the labourer a large enough share of the produce. The Rev. Dr. Wright argues, with a good deal of force, that the account of the Deluge found in the Babylonian libraries is later than the account in Genesis, and may, therefore, have been taken from it ;
Karl Blind pours out a new invective against Prince Bismarck, this time from the solid standing-ground of the Royal Rescript ; and Admiral Lord Dansany publishes the now well-known opinions of Sir Garnet Wolseley against the Channel Tunnel. Is it not, however, a dangerous exaggeration to say that 150,000 men, once safely landed in Britain, must conquer the country P With the Volunteers suddenly swelling the ranks of the Regular battalions, Ireland temporarily stripped of troops, and a good General, we ought to be able to face that force.
The Duke of Argyll, in the Contemporary, attributes the whole of the agricultural depression to bad seasons, showing clearly that through them all prices have ranged above the average.
He still puts his trust wholly in high farming and ranch capital, and seems to forget that with our present tenure nobody will risk much capital in soil he does not own. Mr. Proust, who- grew continuous white crops on heavy clay, owned the clay. Who is going in these days to repeat that experiment, when he may be dismissed from his farm for not touching his hat to his landlord P The Duke, we notice, says nothing of what we believe to be one cause, at least, of the pre- sent depression, the growing dislike of men with capital to an uncertain trade which yields a low average profit, no grand chances, and no social status. The labourer who be- comes a tenant-farmer rises, but has no capital ; the gentle- man with a few acres who turns tenant-farmer with sufficient capital, falls. Mr. W. S. Lilly gives a melancholy description of the advance of free-thought on the Continent, where he main- tains Liberalism and Atheism are becoming convertible terms. He makes some frightful quotations from the " Little Catechism of a Free-thinker," now circulated all over France, and which formally deposes God; but he does not in any way deal with the grand questions whether the union of Liberalism and atheism be not due to the union of religion with tyranny, and whether atheism can, by its very nature, be anything but a passing phenomenon. Catholics always seem to us to forget not only that if God exists he will go on ruling, but that one of the innate instincts of humanity is belief in the supernatural.
They reason like philanthropists, who, seeing a high estimate formed of celibacy, should dread therefrom the extinction of the- human race. " O. K." declares boldly that the Servian crisis is the result of an Austrian attempt to detach Servia from the Orthodox Church, which is resented by all Slays of the Greek faith, and will, if persisted in, lead Austria to her doom. We doubt very much if "Austria "—that is, the Hapsburgs—care very greatly about creeds; but, undoubtedly, if all Orthodox Slays are as fierce against her as " O. K.," she stands in very great danger. Mr. 31'1111011 publishes some very remarkable statistics, taken chiefly from the records of the Probate Office, about the remarkable rise in the wealth of the middle-class in the British Islands. He finds that the amount of property on which succession or
probate duty was paid was :— .---Amount proved.—.,
1840. 1877 Average per inhabitant. 1840. 1877.
England... ... 3,820 ... 6,552 £210 ... £262 Scotland 196 ... 970 81 ... 277
... 308 ... 438
In Prance, the average is computed at £213 per head of the inhabitants, or, say, £1,000 per family. By far the best article, however, in the number is Mr. Goldwin Smith's argument that Agnosticism has as yet formulated no basis for morality which
average men find strong. The reasoning is familiar to readers of the Spectator, but Mr. Goldwin Smith writes with singular force, and quotes American arguments seldom heard in Europe. There is a quotation in particular from Dr. Van Buren Dens- low, author of Modern Thinkers, which every one interested in the controversy should study. Dr. Denslow boldly attacks all laws of morality, even the one against lying, as the result of efforts by the strong to keep the advantages they have acquired in the struggle for existence. We do not understand him, from this quotation, to deny their value, but to utterly deny their inherent righteousness :— " It is generally believed to be moral to tell the truth, and immoral to lie. And yet it would be difficult to prove that nature prefers the true to the false. Everywhere she makes the false impression first, and only after years, or thousands of years, do we become able to detect her in her lies. . . . . . Nature endows almost every animal with the faculty of deceit, in order to aid it in escaping from the brute force of its superiors. Why, then, should not man be endowed with the faculty of lying, when it is to his interest to appear wise concern- ing matters of which he is ignorant ? Lying is often a refuge to the weak, a stepping-stone to power, a ground of reverence toward those who live by getting credit for knowing what they do not know. No one doubts that it is right for the maternal partridge to feign lame. nese, a broken wing or leg, in order to conceal her young in flight, by causing the pursuer to suppose he can more easily catch her than her offspring. From whence, then, in nature, do we derive the fact that a human being may not properly tell an untruth with the same motive ?"
The best paper in the Fortnightly, and much the most valuable in the Magazines, is Sir Alfred Lyall's, on the " Rela- tions of Religion to Asiatic States." It is, we presume, the first of a series, as its illustrations are taken exclusively from China. Sir Alfred Lyall's general point is that in Asia the spiritual and temporal headship of society are still bound up together, though the headship sometimes takes strange forms, as in China, where the Emperor is not only the tolerant ruler of three creeds, but is the chief intercessor with Heaven for all of them. Confucianism, a philosophic but negative creed, Buddhism, in its Mongolian form—that is, a form admitting of incarnations—and Taoaism, a form of nature worship, divide the Empire :— " Mr. Edkins, in his book on religion in China, tells us that we have there these three great national systems working together in harmony. Three modes of worship, he says, and three philosophies, have for ages been interacting on each other. They are found side by side not only in the same locality, but in the belief of the same indi- viduals, for it is a common thing that the same person should con- form to all three modes of worship ; and the Government willingly follows the same impartial practice."
It might have been expected that the religions would have become fused, as Catholicism and Protestantism once seemed likely to become fused, while England for a moment became Adiaphorist ; but it has not been so, and the three religions remain entirely distinct, a federation of creeds united only in . the person of the Emperor, who himself leads in the worship of ancestors prescribed by Confucius, arranges and controls the Buddhist incarnations, and by decree promotes or dignifies with new titles the Taonists spirit deities :—" The God of War, whose department may have increased in importance in these days of great armaments, was judiciously raised, by a decree of the last Emperor but one, to the same rank with Confucius, who had before occupied the first place in the State pantheon." Sir Alfred Lyall inclines to believe that among the Chinese there
lives a latent pantheism which sees divinity in all things, and therefore can tolerate, and even, so to speak, believe in many
anodes of worship; but we should suspect, also, a profound and conscious scepticism in the ruling class, and among the people an idea that nobody was quite certain, and that it was just as well to be on the right side. The later Romans were deeply under this impression, and worshipped indifferently according to the old Roman faith, the Egyptian faith, and the " Imperial faith," which was really a worship of Rome incar- nate in the Emperor :-
" Whether the Chinese nation is naturally, or by reason of the teachings of Confucius and the higher Buddhism, more inclined to connect religion with morals than elsewhere in Eastern Asia, or whether the Chinese Government, which has undoubtedly realised the enormous value of outward morality to an administration, has really succeeded, by persistent supervision, in maintaining in all ex- ternal worships a general show of morality and propriety, it is hardly safe to conjecture. But all observers appear to agree that in China the public practices and the acknowledged principles of religion are decent and ethically tolerable, which is more than can be said for all rites and doctrines in adjacent countries."
Mr. Carnegie's rather amusing paper, "As Others See Us," is intended, we imagine, to contrast the calm of political America
with the unrest of political England, and unconsciously exag- gerates the former; but the stand-point is so novel, that his reflections have a startling effect. Englishmen do not think of themselves as habitually discontented with their institutions,
and yet they are altering, or desiring to alter, almost all Sir H. Maine, on " The King and his Successor," is, we think, less original than usual, possibly because his subject has been more discussed,
but he makes some curious observations on the Salic law. He has an idea that the strong grip which that law took of France was in part the result of a striking peculiarity in the history of
the Capet family. They have lasted 900 years without any break in direct male descent, though the occupancy of the throne has passed from branch to branch; and "rare and striking as is this peculiarity in the family history of the Capetians, that house presented in the fourteenth century a phenomenon which is still rarer and still more impressive. The Kings sprung from Hugh Capet succeeded one another, son to father or brother to brother, for more than 300 years. Through all this time there was no occasion to call in a remote collateral, an uncle, or great-uncle, or a cousin." Does Sir Henry Maine, by the way, doubt that the Princes of the Captivity were of the House of David P It seems unlikely that both the Jews and Domitian should have made such a blunder, and if they did not, that was a far older family without descent through females.
Is there any evidence, again, to set against the Hindoo belief that the dynasty of Oodeypore, though constantly recruited by adoption, adopts only descendants of the founder of the line ? In a paper of quite exceptional eloquence and ability, which should be read by every one who desires to understand the question, Lord Coleridge announces his conver- sion to the doctrine of the total prohibition of vivisection, on the ground of its demoralising influence. He dreads a slow process of elevation to the Continental standard, when a physician may be an " artist in vivisection :"—
" Some time since I met in society a very eminent man, a man of very high character, and for whom, in common with most men, I have a very great respect. He is certainly not an habitual vivisector, but I believe he has occasionally vivisected. I left his company shocked and disturbed to a degree difficult to express ; not from any particular thing he said, or any particular experiment he described, for he said little on the subject, and I think described nothing ; but from the assumption that underlay his conversation, that we had no duties to the lower creatures when science was in question, and that the animal world was to a man of science like clay to the potter, or marble to the sculptor, to be crushed or carved at his will with no more reference to pain in animals than if they were clay or marble. Yet this was a most gifted man, a man, but for the taint of vivi- section, every way admirable, but a man whom that taint had made (I feel sure in his case, owing to the blessed inconsistency of humanity, to the animal world only) cruel and heartless."
We can see no original argument in Dr. Carpenter's answering paper, which seems to us mainly a r&hauffi of the old propo- sition that as we inflict pain for other useful purposes we may
inflict it to obtain more knowledge. We might as well argue that as we execute murderers to prevent murder, therefore we might vivisect them, to prevent murder, and in addition to ac- quire knowledge. The argument, like the old disciplinary argu- ment for slavery, entirely ignores one great side of the question, the gradual effect upon the operator.
Blackwood has little, except an account of "Electric Pro-
gress," written from the point of view of a believer, who seri- ously hopes that a new force has been discovered, which, since it is capable of storage, may alter the whole future of man's labour (electricity enough to work a sewing machine may
even now be delivered' at your door as readily as milk) ; and a really wonderful paper, called " Ireland's Fate—Britain's Warn- ing." The writer considers Ireland ruined by the Land Act, economically and morally, and England certain to undergo the same fate, unless,—unless, of course, Britain puts away the Liberal Government. Of the sort of ecatacy of apparently honest fear in which this article has been written, we can give no adequate account, but the following will give some faint idea of it. After saying that it took Mr. Gladstone but eighteen months to "ruin Ireland," which, whatever the fate of a class,
is unusually prosperous, he proceeds :—
" owners of property are, no doubt, sufficiently alarmed ; but alarm will not help them : it is more likely to incapacitate them. Action, prompt and vigorous, is what they must resort to, if they would avert from themselves revolutionary horrors. It will be too late after projects of laws shall have been announced for making over
half of their means to the tenants of their lands, or the workmen in their factories. When once confiscation shall have been definitely conceded by Ministers, the appetites of those who are to share the plunder will be quickened to a degree in which all sense of jastioe, all moderation, all chance of compromise, will be hopelessly lost. Let the scramble bat begin, and it will never stop until that dreadful day when, everything having been overturned—blood having flowed like water, wealth having been dissipated, and democracy having rushed to such excesses that it must be saved from itself, and that a few embers may survive to found a new nation—some Napoleon may be entreated to point his cannon on the uproarious residue, and make them leave off to throttle each other, when there shall be nothing left but the pleasure of the strife as an incentive to murder."
Consols are above par.
The Warden of Merton College, though free from these wild
alarms, writes in Fraser a fierce attack on tenant-right, which he considers plunder; and the author of the paper on the " Cloture" lends himself to the already-disproved prophecy that neither Mr. Gladstone nor Mr. Bright would propose such a measure, " degrading the House of Commons, as it would, to the level of a Continental Chamber." His dread of this measure is evidently based upon the dream that the Cloture would enable an accidentally democratic Ministry and Parliament to pass
subversive measures while opinion was still against them. The writer forgets that though this course might be open to Tories, who could possibly in that way raise the Suffrage or establish a Test Oath, it is not open to Liberals, the Lords being only too delighted to force an appeal to the people whenever the popular vote promises to be in their favour. There is a
story, called " Lord of All," in this month's Fraser, by Mrs. Herbert Martin, which has in it, we think, slight and thin as it is, much promise. There is scarcely enough of it to judge from, but the writer has the secret of producing an
atmosphere of reality.
Mr. Julian Hawthorne's novel in Macmillan, "The Fool of Fortune," improves with every chapter ; and there is a paper
of some interest on the recent discovery of royal mummies at Thebes, written by an observer, whose account makes us wish most heartily that nothing more may ever be discovered in Egypt until the country has passed into the hands of a civilised people. It appears to be quite possible that the wretched little Museum at Boulac, where mummies are stored like coffins in an undertaker's workshop, will be swept away by some high Nile, and then we shall have disturbed arrangements which have lasted 3,000 years to no purpose whatever. Why cannot the
coffins be examined in situ, in the cemeteries which the Kings thought world never be disturbed?