4 MARCH 1871, Page 22


Fraser, amid many other good papers, has two distinctive essays on Chinese subjects, which may attract even ordinary readers. One, said to be written by a Chinese literate, and translated for the magazine, professes to give honestly the Chinese idea of the Western men. It reads true. Many of the most extraordinary charges brought against us are devoutly believed by many classes of Hindoos, who are much more familiar with Europeans than the Chinese are, while the explanation of our religious motives is thoroughly characteristic of a people who have not yet attained to the idea of benevolence. The literate describes the Christian doctrine, "love your enemies," as a malevolent invention devised to enable Christians to avoid the retribution they deserve at Chinese hands. He attributes the rumoured fancy of Europeans for children's eyes entirely to the practice of dissection, which out- rages Chinese ideas, just as it used to do the ideas of Hindoos, and for nearly the same reason ; and reports a belief, quite credible in itself, that chloroform is administered in our hos- pitals by the Western doctors, out of their stupid ap- proval of amputations. He inveighs, too, against the competi- tion of Europeans with native merchants, against the habit of selling passes to native dealers for native goods, thus enabling them to evade the transit duties—this was the cause of Meer Cossim's rebellion in Bengal—and against our trade principle caveat emptor, which strikes every Asiatic as a legalization of fraud, as indeed itis. His principle is an implied warranty, and he punishes the sale of articles not up to sample as a crime. The literate animadverts also on the exceeding blusterousness of Europeans, on our refusal to execute Europeans for murder—a refusal resulting partly from the reluctance to trust Consuls with power of life and death—on our neglect of torture to extract the truth, and on our bankruptcy laws, which he considers an elaborate device for the protection of swindlers. He declares truly enough that the coolie traffic is a slave trade, accuses the Chinese compradores of using their employers' privileges to oppress the people—a very probable charge—and laments the indifference of the Government to Army reform and the pacification of the provinces, which would together quite prevent the landing of foreign armies. It is a most instructive paper, and so is another on the personnel of the Chinese Administration,—the six " Boards " which transact the business of the Empire. Of these six, the one which most concerns Europeans is the Foreign Office, at the head of which is Prince Kung, uncle of the present Emperor, while the soul of it is Waiseang, a man aged with work, with anxiety, and with the fatigue of resistance to the anti-foreign party, who are gradually sapping his power. The head of this party is Wo, the Emperor's preceptor, and his feelings may be gathered from a memorial which he presented in February, 1867, against the introduction of the literature of Europe The petitioner is not aware what may be the opinion of the Tsungli Yamen, but his own view is that foreigners are the enemies of China, and that though apparently they treat with us on amicable terms, yet in their hearts they are anything but friendly, being full of every kind of devilish craft and deceit. The petitioner is continually wishing to eat their flesh and sleep on their skin' (i.e, to make a mattress of it), and thus to satisfy his long-founded hatred. How is it that the members of the Tsungli Yamen, so far from wishing to wipe out their shame and gratify their vengeance, on the contrary take the greatest pains to beseech them to instruct us ?"

And still more perfectly from a very important passage in his protest against the Burlingame Mission :—

" 1. The Yemen remark that the amicable relations with foreigners are now of some standing. How is it they do not reflect that the ven- geance of his late Majesty still remains unwreaked, and the hatred of the common people still unfulfilled? Until this is accomplished where is the propriety of the word relations,' or how can we employ the expression ' amicable ' ? Snch marked and intentional introduction of the words amicable relations' is all very well when face to face with the barbarian ; but where is the object of acknowledging it among ourselves ? "

The writer thinks well of Chung How, the ambassador now coming among us, as a statesman of the highest class, who has much more energy than the mass of Chinese ; but he is not

inclined to exonerate him from complicity in the Tientsin massacre. There is a capital paper for the lovers of light reading in this number of Fraser, nominally on Thomas Ingoldsby, really

on any one of his time about whom a good story can be told. .

The best paper in Blackwood, perhaps the best serious paper in

any magazine of this month, is the one on the "British Navy," which we cordially recommend to any of those grumblers who affirm that the British Fleet has no existence. The writer is cool, impartial, and well informed ; he gives what is so hard to remember —the description of every ironclad he mentions ; and his paper leaves on the mind of the reader an impression of minute know- ledge of his subject. He is of opinion that our broadside iron- clads—the Warrior and Black Prince excepted—cannot carry sufficiently heavy armour to resist modern guns ; but believes that they will suffice to protect our trade, and that we are now at last on the right track. Our guns are magnificent ; we have, or shall have immediately, fifteen ironclads of the true or turret system, and fifteen more of the broadside kind, besides smaller vessels, so that, in the event of war, our armament

would reach 51 ironclads, 41 of which are above 2,000 tons,—a fleet entirely without parallel in the world. The writer's only doubt about the class he dislikes, when reduced to plain words, is whether their armour is thick enough ; but it is as thick as that of any fleet likely to fight it, and ships being equal, a naval battle depends on the constancy of the men,—a quality in which British seamen are not likely to be deficient, though even their courage sometimes fails. The following story has been often told, but can never be told too often, when men are half doubt- ing whether all this expense merely "to keep out the shells "is really called for :—" The effect of a large shell bursting in a con- fined space is demoralizing to the bravest crew. We have heard

from an eyewitness that in the attack on the Sebastopol forts, the explosion of a shell between decks, with the material ruin which it scattered round, so unnerved a large part of the men on board one of our finest two-deckers, that the unwounded dropped over the side into a steamship lashed alongside. . . . In the fight be- tween the Weehawken, U.S. monitor, with one 15-inch gun, against the Confederate broadside ironclad Atlanta, out of five shots that struck the Atlanta, one laid low forty and another dis- abled seventeen of her men. Yet the 440-pounder of the 15-inch gun was a less terrible projectile than that which is fired from the 12-inch gun of our own Navy. There are limits to human courage ; and although, amongst the chances of a naval fight, with every object moving and the gun-platform rolling up and down, it might well happen that an ill-protected vessel might

escape a vital wound, yet it is contrary to reason to suppose that an ironclad like the Hercules could be effectively fought, if her battery were even once in each half-hour penetrated by even a 9-inch shell." "Fair to See" goes on pleasantly, but there is a want of liveliness and go about much of the padding in Blackwood which we regret to perceive, —a lack of that charm of high spirits, displayed in a kind of literary rollick, which we greatly miss. We do not know that it is peculiar to Blackwood. There is a kind of depression creeping over all our Magazines, if not over our entire periodical literature ; but it is more noticeable in Blackwood, from the contrast with its usual vigorous joviality and dash. The review of "King's Translation

of the 'Metamorphoses" has a trace of it, but the series called "More Roba di Roma" is nearly unreadable from sheer dulness of tone. The sketches may be accurate, original, or anything else, but even to readers with genuine interest in the history of Middle-Age Rome they are unmistakably tiresome.

The Fortnightly has a fault this month of the gravest kind. It is a little too good. Editors expect people to skip ; but we suspect the majority of those who buy magazines think skipping waste of money, and for any one who really reads to get through papers like Mazzini's on "Italy and the Republic," and Professor Tyndall's "From Portsmouth to Oran," being his account of the expedition to observe the Solar Eclipse; and Sir A. Grant on "The Nature and Origin of Moral Ideas," is a very serious task,

quite equal, we should say, to the study of any moderately-sized history. We have not attempted all of them, preferring to enjoy what seems to us Mr. Leslie Stephen's subtly accurate analysis of De Quincey's style, the style which, as women say of a rich silk dress, would stand alone, and of its specialty, a certain unique power of conveying the impression of the almost infinite :—

"It may be enough to notice that most of his brilliant performances are variations on the same theme. He appeals to our terror of the infinite, to the shrinking of the human mind before astronomical dis- tances and geological periods of time. He paints vast perspectives, opening in long succession, till we grow dizzy in the contemplation. The cadence of his style suggests sounds echoing each other, and growing

gradually fainter, till they die away into infinite distance. Two great characteristics, he tells us, of his opium dreams were, a deep-seated melancholy, and an exaggeration of the things of space and time. Nightly he descended 'into chasms and sunless abysses, depths below depths, from which it seemed hopeless that he could ever re-ascend.' He saw buildings and landscapes in proportions so vast as the human eye is not fitted to receive.' He seemed to live ninety or a hundred years in a night, and even to pass through periods far beyond the limits of human existence. Melancholy and an awe-stricken sense of the vast and vague are the emotions which he communicates with the greatest power ; though the melancholy is too dreamy to deserve th) name of passion, and the terror of the infinite is not explicitly connected with any religions emotion. It is a proof of the fineness of his taste, that he scarcely ever falls into bombast; we tremble at his audacity in accamu- lating gorgeous phrases ; but we confess that he is justified by the result."

Mr. Stephen might have quoted by far the best evidence of the accuracy of this criticism, the " dream " in the article on Lord base's telescope, a short passage in which the capacity of English prose for conveying the organ-swell of the highest poetry, for expressing grandeur in softest melody, is, we conceive, better demonstrated than in almost any passage in our language. We can do no more than point to Mazzini's somewhat dreamy argu- ment in favour of a Republic in Italy, but we have a certain pleasure in quoting his religious creed. The old man speaks plainly out in this, and will, we suspect, startle the Continental Reds, with whose theories English ignorance has so long confounded him. More must be added to this creed, but up to its limits it is as noble a one as a preacher ever framed :—

"I believe in God: In a providential law, prefixed by him to life : A law, not of fall, expiation, and redemption through grace of past or present intermediates between God and man; but of indefinite progress, founded upon and measured by our own efforts : In the unity of life ; miscon- ceived by the philosophy of the last two centuries: In the unity of the law; both as regards the collective and individual manifestations of life: In the immortality of the Ego; which is but the application of the law of progress (irrefutably revealed by the combined evidence of historical tradition, the aspirations of the human soul, and the discoveries of science) to the individual manifestation of life : In free-will; without which responsibility, conscience, and the power of deserving progress, are impossible: In the association,—successive and ever increasing,— of all the human faculties and powers ; as the solo method of progress, at once individual and collective : In the unity of the human race and moral equality of all the children of God; without distinction of sex, -colour, or position, and never to be interrupted save by crime: And therefore: In the sacred, inexorable, dominant idea of duty, as the one sole rule of life ;—duty, embracing for each, according to his sphere and power, alike the family, the fatherland, and humanity: the family, altar of the fatherland ; the fatherland, sanctuary of humanity ; humanity, portion of the universe and temple erected to God, who creates it that it may gravitate towards him ;—duty, which commands us to promote the progress of others, in order to achieve our own, and our own, in order to benefit others ;—duty, without which no right can exist, and which creates the one pure, sacred, and efficacious virtue, Sacrifice ; halo that crowns and sanctifies the human soul."

We must not criticize the Contemporary this week, for reasons, though Mr. Ludlow's eloquent diatribe on the necessity of the reconstitution of England is well worth study, as is the equally eloquent cry on behalf of France signed by Professor Dowden. We pass on to the principal shilling monthlies, the Conthill, with its vigorous ballad by Robert Browning, noticed else- where, the clever paper on "English Christian names," the pleasant story of "Lady Isabella," and the able though trite argument in favour of teaching English to the Hindoos, as we have taught it to the Scotch Highlanders, the native Irish, and the sailors of half the world ; and St. Paulo, with Trollope's story, still one of the best he has written ; and Mr. Austin Dobson's capital little satire, "A Virtuoso"—quite a gem in its way—a little poem Pops might have written, if Pope could ever have been so smilingly sardonic. It would not be fair to quote it entire, and we will not spoil it by an extract ; but Mr. Austin Dobson, whoever he may be, will yet occupy a distinct place in English literature. And an we turn to Macmillan, with its more serious matter,—Canon Kingsley's theory as to "The Natural Theology of the Future," which is apparently to be a spiritualized materiiilism ; and Professor Seeley's dream of a "United States of

Europe," in which the Federal Power alone shall have permission to raise troops :—

"I infer that we shall never abolish war in Europe unless we can make up our minds to take up a completely new citizenship. We must cease to be mere Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans, and must begin to take as much pride in calling ourselves Europeans. Europe must have a constitution, as well as the States that compose it. There must be a European Legislature and Executive as strong and as important as those that meet and act at Washington. Nor will all this succeed unless the discrepancies of language, race, culture, and religion can be so far overcome, that by slow degrees the members of the new State may come to value their new citizenship as much, and at last more, than their old ; so that when any great trial comes, when State membership draws one way, and Federal membership another, they may, as the Americans did in their trial, deliberately prefer the Union to the State."

There is to be a Federal Parliament, whose members would not understand each other's tongues, and a Federal Army, whose legions would probably spring at one another's throats. It is fortunate for Professor Seeley's reputation that he anticipates criticism by saying his scheme will seem to most men insufferably fanciful, and that he looks to its success from some universal popular movement, —headed, we presume, by Berliners and Parisians. It may come, of course. We can conceive such a plan being adopted under threats of insurrection from the Workmen's International Society, but its principle will be the abolition of armies, the suppression of artilleries, the ostracism of Generals, not the concentration of all power into the bands of a tribunal to which one nation will in 1930 send a majority of representatives. A universal monarchy might be endurable, as individualism among nations has been, but universal monarchy concealed under universal suffrage would speedily make Europe uninhabitable.