REVIEWING the magazines when the first of the month falls on a Saturday is like writing an account of a battle before half the forces come into action. We may take desultory peeps at the skirmishers, and praise the accuracy of their fire, we may notice the awkward plunges of the General's horse, as indicative of the perturbed state of mind of the rider, and his certainty, so fully
borne out by subsequent facts, that he will get into a mess after, all. Bat we oannot• form any idea of the whole. And if we are to believe Mr. Dicey's able letter to this month's Macmillan, we should probably know just as little if we were writing after the battle. Instead of pursuing the comparison, we will begin our task with the article which has furnished this hint and the magazine from which the article is taken.
We do not mean to be unjust to Mr. Henry Kingsley's story when we call Mr. Dicey's account of the " Campaign in Germany " the most remarkable paper in this month's Macmillan. It is in our opinion none the less remarkable that it deals chiefly with results, and avoids those details on which special correspondents and military commissioners are more apt to dwell. Mr. Dicey takes the view we quoted last month from Colonel Hawley, that the war was not decided by the needle gun, but he gives one fact which is new as well as conclusive. "In the first place, a very- considerable portion of the Prussian army, as I can vouch from personal observation, was not armed with breech-loaders, but with old-fashioned muzzle-loading muskets ; in the second place, in many of the engagements, in all of which the Prussians proved victorious, the musket, whether breech-loading or muzzle-loading, played a very insignificant share." Another fact noticed by Mr. Dicey, and one which partly accounts for the Austrian defeat, is that the Prussians never did what they were expected to do. They defied tradition, and they won. They staked their whole chance upon one throw, and did not stop to consider what was to be done if that throw went against them. Prudent players hedge after mak- - ing a grand stake, and forget that if they must have either success or failure it is useless risking the one to avert the other. Mr. -Dicey deals severely with Benedek, who, he says, " had an immense reputation before the war, based on as small evidence as that of any commander I ever heard of, not excepting General McClellan or poor Lord Raglan." But the strongest argument brought up against Benedek is that the Prussian Generals were not men of genius. "Even in the Prussian camp," saps Mr. Dicey, "where respect for all constituted authorities is carried to an exaggerated degree, complaints were rife as to the extent to which the rights of royalty interfered with the efficient conduct of military affairs. The experience of all nations has shown that royal princes are seldom, if ever, good commanders-in-chief, and I believe the present cam- paign has been no exception to ordinary rule." Mr. H. Kingsley's instalment of Sikote of Sikotes is marked by the well known characteristics of that impulsive and vigorous writer ; parts of it are more entertaining than usual. But we cannot quite appreciate the portrait of Mrs. Sugden, and old Silcote is vaguely contradic- tory. We should be glad to know if, while penning the passage about the selfishness of children, Mr. Kingsley never thought of the similar reflection in Vanity Fair. We should like to ask Mr. Trollope if, in making Doodles tell Archie Clavering that he was going it, he never thought of the similar remark in David Copper- field. Of the further contents of Macmillan we need only speak of Mr. Morley's " Social Responsibilities," for we defy any one to understand " Women and Criticism," and the paper called " From the Lip of Loch Etive " ends most significantly by the•writer
stepping physically into a creek after doing the same morally. Mr. Morley's paper is on the workhouse question, and is devoted rather unnecessarily to a defence of the Guardians. Surely no one whose opinions on the workhouses are worth anything abused the guardians personally as being stingy and mean. Any picture of the ordinary guardian was meant, not to hurt his feelings, but to show the public how incompetent such a man must be to perform such duties. Still, though Mr. Morley goes out of .his way to prove himself more just and more profound than all other writers, there is much in his article from which these blemishes should not divert our attention. Once get beyond the illogical comparison of the young lady, sympathizing but not helping, with the-guardian, neither sympathizing nor helping—Mr. Morley forgetting that the guardian neglects the plain duties imposed upon and accepted by him, and that it is not his sympathy which is demanded, but the bare performance of his duty—and you find much food for thought, and many plain wants put justly and forcibly. Here is a truth which cannot be brought too often before the public :—
" It is the shirking of this plain social duty, of having clear-sighted convictions of some sort on social subjects, which keeps all the most terrible questions of to-day—pauperism, prostitution, profound and wide-spread indigence—open and unsettled, and, worst of all in no fair way for being settled. This may be only too easily illustrated. Among the host of remedies which are before the world, economic, political, religious, or semi-religious, there is one, and one only on which every- body is agreed as an element in the renovation of things. There is nobody, who thinks that the world might be made better than it is, who does not also think that education is at least one essential element in the new scheme. Politicians, economists, moralists, divines—all the world vow that education, at all events, is one of the things needfuL There was a time when people were not ashamed to argue against schemes for popular education, that 'to extend instruction would be to. multiply the crime of forgery.' But I suppose the stupidest person in the country would now allow that learning to write does not necessarily involve learning to be willing to steal, and that, on the whole, in spite of the perils which may thus attend the process, the education of its citizens is the prime safeguard, as it is the first duty, of the State. Yet the wretched, pinched, botched system of national education that, after years of toil and perseverance, has at length got a place among us, is e sufficient proof of the small momentum of even a universal opinion, when it is not held with warmth and enthusiasm. We think that education is a useful thing, but only as we might think it in a dream. We do not grasp, as a truth that affects ourselves, the fact that education means less crime, less vice, lass helplessness, less pauperism, less brutishness, and more of everything that makes society tranquil, pros- perous, and wise. If this were grasped as we grasp other truths in our waking moments, the tide of public opinion would speedily rise high enough to demolish, with an irresistible sweep, the crowd of puny but still effective obstacles which sectarian prejudices, and vicious religious prejudices, and official prejudices so blindly and perversely interpose. It is the duty of every citizen of public spirit to help to add something to the momentum. Instead of well meaning but intemperate abuse of guardians, who are men of narrow lights and many pinching cares, let the majestic beast make its wrath felt by bishops and deans, and Roman Catholic priests, and Dissenting ministers, and politicians with small minds in great places, and all other orders of men who, with the best intentions in the world, vigilantly take care that the English poor shall have as few chances as possible of emerging from their barbarous and degradino. ignorance. Men with accurate memories and a good judg- ment, and interested in the subject, do not hesitate to say that the prospects of a great movement in national education were brighter thirty and twenty years ago than they are at the present moment. When we contrast this wretched history with the vigour and activity with which the colony of Victoria for instance has set to work, has resolutely pre- vented denominational differences from blocking the way against a great system of national education, and has denied to parents the preposterous right of pleasing themselves whether their children shall grow up in darkness or enlightenment, there is something unspeakably humbling and exasperating in our own sluggishness."
In the Cornhill we miss those distinctive papers which have given rise to separate discussion, and the present number is below the late average. Miss Thackeray indeed continues her story with her own genius and originality, tinged with a slight reflection from that of her father. Is not there a flavour of both in the following?
"It seems strange to us commonplace, common-sense Protestant people, in these days of common-place and common sense, living in the rough and ready world of iron, of progress, of matter of fact, to hear of passionate revival and romance and abstract speculation, to be told of the dffierent experiences of living beings now existing together. While the still women go gliding along their convent passages to the sound of the prayer-bells, with their long veils hanging between them and'the coarse, hard world of every day, the vulgar, careworn toilers, the charwomen and factory hands of life are at their unceasing toil, amid squalor and grime and oaths and cruel denseness ; the hard-worked mothers of sickly children are slaving, day after day, in common lodging-houses, feeding on hard fare, scraps and ends from the butchers' shops, or refuse and broken victuals from some rich neighbour's kitchen ; while others, again, warmed and fed in the body, weary and starving mentally, are struggling through passionate sorrow and privation Are work and suffering the litanies of some lives, one wonders ? are patience and pain and humiliation the fasts and penances of others ? No veils hang between the hard, brazed faces and the world ; no convent bars enclose them other than the starting, ill built brick walls of their shabby homes. and lodging-places. But who shall say that the struggles, the pangs, prayers. outcries of all these women, differently expressed and experi- enced though they are, do not go up together in one common utterance to that place where there is pity for the sorrowful and compassion for the weary ?"
Mr. Trollope is not quite at his ease in the " Claverings." Now and then he reminds us of his old self, that is, of a former story. At other times he is treading on new ground, and then his old ease forsakes him. With all the faults of the Belton Estate, we noticed in it an increase of dramatic power, and Mr. Trollope does not wish to abandon what he has added to his territory. But here he is hard where he ought to be bold. Both Sir Hugh's. interview with Harry and that of Archie Clavering with "the Russian Spy " are marred by discordant touches. And Mr. Trollope's reflections are too much after the event to be duly impressive. We hardly know what to say of the curious story called " Granny Leatham's Revenge," which is almost a confes- sion of belief in witchcraft and judgments. The subject is the cattle plague ; a crippled old grandam hobbling out at night to drive a diseased cow on the land of a farmer to whom she wished a mischief, and the plague recoiling on the cattle of her own widowed daughter. Papers such as those on " Breech-Loaders " and the " Education of the Working Classes," by a Working Man, are necessary corollaries to the war and the Reform move- ment; while Mr. Swinburne's poem on " Cleopatra " will be looked for eagerly by those who wished to buy his book when they heard it was withdrawn. It will disappoint them, which is the great. thing in its favour. The article on " Breech-Loaders" compares. the Prussian gun with those produced in England, and joins in the general censure of the former, while it gives a full description of 1I Mid explanatory illustratibna. Here is a handy aceorint of the-needle gun for future reference :— " We would say a few words respecting the Prussian breech-loading arm,- of which all Europe has lately heard so much, and to which wo have made frequent reference,. The barrel is closed by a sliding plunger or bolt, which can be pushed forward against the barrel, or withdrawn for the admission of the cartridge. In the former position it is secured by turning it, with the assistance of a small knob or lever, a quarter circle to the right, on the principle of a common door bolt. The plunger is hollow, its front end forming, when the arm is shut, a sort of cap to the back end of the barrel—the two being coned to correspond one with the other. The long steel needle from which the gun derives its name, and by which the explosion of the charge is effected, works in the hollow bolt, being driven forward by mean§ of a spiral spring. The spring and noodle are set, and the needle, so to . speak; cocked by means of a trigger. The action of the trigger like- wise releases the needle, which is shot forward into a patch of detonating composition in the centre of the cartridge. The ammunition consists of an egg-shaped bullet, its case imbedded in a papier macho sabot. In the hinder part of the sabot is the fulminate; and behind this again, in a thin paper case which is choked over the apex of the Mid, is the powder. The needle glut and its ammunition have been familiar to us for years, and the minutest details of its construction and of that of the cartridge, including the pretended secret respecting the nature and preparation of the detonating composition, are well known to us, and an estimate of the value of the system has long been formed."
The best paper in the Argosy in the sense of giving most amuse- ment to the reviewer is Mr. Alexander Smith's account of Mr.
Sydney Dobell. About Mr. Dobell himself we learn that his mental constitution is high, solitary, disdainful. His genius is of an ascetic and fakir kind. He stands apart from his fellows, and
wraps himself up in the mantle of his own thoughts. Indeed he seems to his friend to be too persistently dignified. He thinks a poem should go forth as the proclamation of a king ; adverse critics he regards as rebels against lawful authority, and would probably have them executed forthwith. These are more interest- ing facts than that Mr. Alexander Smith finds as noble passages in the "Roman" as in "Hellas;" as intricate searching of dark bosoms and moods in Balder as in the Cenci ; lyrics in " England in Time of War" which will mate with the " Sensitive Plant" and the " Sky- lark." Two of the grandest things in Mr. Dobell are that as other men under the influence of strong emotion look like all their progeni- tossmcmibined, so Mr. Dobell in his finer passages looks like himself ; and that on the approach of 'the ordinary and common-place Mr. Dobell retires into the unpierced depths of his nature, where no one can follow him. Mr. Alexander Smith finely compares Mr. Dobell performing this evolution to the Red Indian, but we are strongly reminded of the bounding brother's taking a lighted torch and jumping down his own throat. No doubt when Mr. Dobell next takes his torch and plunges into the unpierced depths of his nature he will carry this panegyric with him, and digest it somewhere in those recesses. And we hope he will not blush inwardly to find it • seriously stated that for intellectual force, poetic insight, and vitality he may claim to be ranked pari passu with Tennyson and Browning. Perhaps all three characteristics—the force to take the plunge, the insight given by the plunge, and the vitality shown in recovering from the plunge—are even more significant of Mr. Dobell than of either of the other poets.
Temple Bar, in addition to two novels, which of course are meant to be the feature of the month, has an account of the Fenian invasion of Canada, by a. writer who saw the comic side of the thing from the first, and was never converted to seriousness. How the invasion began by a lieutenant and six men being sent across the boundary to observe the country and come back mounted, with one best horse for the colonel, and how it ended with the carrying away of things which did not accompany the Fenians into Canada, though accompanying them out of it, we leave our readers to learn from the magazine.
It is appropriate that the skirmishing should end with the Fenians, for here are the heavy troops coming up in the shape of Fraser. Not that Fraser is heavy this month, for it is a good number, but we need not say that it is more solid fare than its shilling contemporaries. The first article, on "Recent Movements in the Church of England," is devoted to ritualism, which it analyzes fully and freely, but with a too unvarying gravity. Is there not a chance that ritualism may be a monomania of people who are sound and zealous on other points, but who, like the man who corresponded with a princess in cherry-juice, lose their heads as soon as green silk is waved before them? The writer in Fraser feels the indignation of a sensible, practical man when he is asked to receive some story on the evidence of a madman. But is not his indignation rather out of place? Would it not be better if he laughed a little more heartily ? He must have great command of his muscles not to laugh at the exorcisms practised at the Holy Communion under the sanction of the Directorium Anglivanum. We cannot see the shift of 'such' papay- as " the Exposition of Arcaehon," and " the Poet of Middle.aged men "—meaning Horace. Nor do we welcome with very much enthusiasm the return of " A. K. II. B. " to his first. home. But we must say a word on Mr. Chadwick's contri- bution to the question of the sick poor, coming as it does from the sole surviving member of the Commission of 1831. We might give more than a word to Mr. Cartwright's paper on the reconstruction of Germany, with its admirable sketches of poli- tical characters—Baron Bengt especially—and its careful separa- tion of what is accidental, temporary, local, from what is essential and listing. But we must confine ourselves to quoting a few anec- dotes from a gossiping paper on Washington, which is full of them. A curious remark of Jefferson Davis is the first on which we stum- ble. It was proposed to have the walls of the capitol decorated: with an allegorical representation of the different sections of the Union. In one sketch New England was represented by symbols of education and manufactures ; the West by prairies, ploughs, and steamers ; the South by an Arcadian scene with a negro in the• midst sleeping on a bale of cotton. Mr. Davis, who was one of the commission, made a single comment on the picture, " What becomes of the South when that negro wakes up ?" We turn over a few pages, and light on an Indian who came to Washington about. some treaty, was tricked out in a civilized dress and sent back to his tribe with a whisky bottle in each pocket. The tribe " watched his new style of behaviour with silent wonder for a day or two and then quietly killed him." From the Indian's whisky bottle we go on to Daniel Webster under the influence of more refined potations. At a public dinner where Webster was to speak, he had to be prompted by a friend, and on his making a pause, the- friend behind insinuated " national debt." Webster at once fired up, " And, gentlemen, there's the national debt—it should be paid ; yes, gentlemen, it should be paid, and d---d if it shan't be I'll pay it myself ! How much is it ?" And as he made this. query with drunken seriousness of a gentleman near him, taking out his pocket-book, which was always notoriously empty, the absurdity was too much for the audience. Another of his speeches. is reported in full, and as it is very brief we will do it the hie- compliment :—" Men of Rochester, I am glad to see you ; and I. am glad to see your noble city. Gentlemen, I saw your falls, which I am told are one hundred and fifty feet high. That is a. very interesting fact. Gentlemen, Rome had her Caesar, her Scipio, her Brutus, but Rome in her proudest days had never a, waterfall a hundred and fifty feet high ! Gentlemen, Greece had her Pericles, her Demosthenes, and her Socrates, but Greece in her palmiest days NEVER had a waterfall a hundred and fifty feet. high ! Men of Rochester, go on. No people ever lost their liberties who had a waterfall one hundred and fifty feet high !" Blackwood has come up like Blucher at Waterloo, not in time for the battle, but to take part in pursuing the enemy. Our only consolation is that we could construct the contents from our internal consciousness after seeing the headings of the articles.. And this is doubly true on the present occasion, as the flying enemy is the late Government.