THOUGH the magazines this month are somewhat more readable than last, they have not yet recovered from the General Elec- tion. The Nineteenth Century is, perhaps, the dullest. It
would be very dull indeed but for an article by Mr. Goldwin Smith, entitled "The Moral of the Late Crisis." The name, however, has little to do with the subject-matter, except as far as the first few pages are concerned. After these a fresh tarn is given to our thoughts, and the writer plunges into a controversy with Sir Henry Maine on the general question of democracy. Nothing written by Mr. Goldwin Smith is likely to be without much that is of weight and substance, and much that is striking and brilliant. But though these qualities are present in a high degree, there is also present that spirit of pessimistic paradox which so often defaces his work. Ho is not satisfied with the results of the late contest, he is not satisfied with the Constitu- tion, and he is still less satisfied with Sir Henry Maine's diagnosis of democracy. Ordinary men might fancy that these two Constitutional critics were at one ; but it is not so. Mr.
Goldwin Smith borrows Sir Henry Maine's cudgel, and with it belabours the English form of government; but then, instead of returning it quietly to its owner, he breaks it across his knee.
This is what government in England has come to
The country has no longer anything worthy of the name of a Government ; that is the momentous fact which every crisis of peril will place in a more glaring light. Extreme Radicals do not want the country to have a Government ; they only want it to have an organ of indefinite revolution in a House of Commons elected by universal suffrage. But for the rest of the nation the hour of reflection has arrived. All power, both legislative and executive, is now vested in an assembly far too large for deliberation or for unity of action, distracted by faction, and growing daily more unruly and tumultuous, the new rules having had no more effect than new rules usually have when the root of the evil is left untouched. And this assembly is elected by a method purely demagogic, which imparts its character to every function of government. Diplomacy itself is now demagogism. The vacillations in Egypt, which have cost the nation so dear in blood, in money, and in reputation, seem to have arisen not so much from the indecision of the Government itself as from its endeavours to keep in unison with the shifting moods of the people. After all, what else can a demagogic executive do ? It can hope for no support against any gust of unpopulatity from a Parliament as demagogic as itself."
The passages in which Mr. Goldwin Smith shows that democracy is not what Sir Henry Maine and Mr. Scherer think it- " merely a form of government "—are too long to quote in fall. He certainly exposes the weakness of their arguments by his remark,—" The cardinal principle of democracy is equality, not of wealth, intellect, or influence, but of status in the community and right to consideration,—equality, in short, as the negation of privilege." A few years ago such a remark would have seemed too trite for comment, the veriest commonplace of Con- stitutional disquisition. Of late, however, men's minds have been so bewildered by the hair-splitting of pedantic and sophistical critics, that the simplest observations have con- stantly to be taken in order to determine and correct our political bearings. It is good to be reminded that though the timidity of a doctrinaire may be shocked by the excesses of Jacobinism, popular government, in the history of its evolution, has something to show besides the Committee of Public Safety. Mr. Andrew Lang writes on "Egyptian Divine Myths." The subject is one of the very greatest interest, and one which we have no doubt Mr. Lang is well qualified to deal with, and yet he has not contrived to make a readable article. An essay of this kind requires above everything careful writing. There ought not to be sentences like the following :—" We are acquainted with no race of men who were not more or less religious long before we first encounter them in actual ex- perience or in history." This is, of course, a very gratifying fact, and we are extremely pleased to learn it. Yet the idiom in which the information is conveyed is, if we may be allowed to say so, very much more suited to the transactions of a learned society, than to pages intended to be read by idle men of the world, who are notoriously and foolishly sensi- tive to the possibilities of comprehension in a sentence. Mr. Arnold-Forster concludes the pages of the September number with "Our Superstition about Constantinople." The article is sensibly written throughout, and elaborates the principle to which we have ourselves already given expression, —Russia at Constantinople may be bad for Austria, bad for the small States of the Balkans, bad for Greece ; but it is not in any sense specially bad for England.
The Contemporary has several interesting papers, though none of them rise to any very high level. Mr. Seebolim's reminiscences of Mr. W. E. Forster's early career give incidentally a good deal of interesting information as to the kind of topics exer- cising men's minds in Yorkshire forty years ago. Mr. Freeman is nowhere more at home than in historical, architectural essay- writing. In "Perigueux and Caliors " he gives a picturesque account of the churches and houses in two old Ganlish towns. Mr. Freeman does not attempt eloquent descriptions. There is little ornament for ornament's sake in his writing. Yet notwithstanding, his careful elaboration of detail, his truth of local colouring, and his power of historical illustration serve to produce a more vivid result than many of the highly coloured and sensational pictures of places which the imitators—at a great distance—of Mr. Symonds and Mr. Ruskin often inflict upon us in the magazines. The two articles dealing with public rights, "Footpath Preservation" and "Commons, Parks, and Open Spaces," are not more than commonplace restatements of well-known facts and arguments. Mr. Graham writes on Mr. Swinburne's poetry, but does not write either very well or very wisely. Some of his strictures are just, no doubt, but such adverse criticism of Mr. Swinburne is comparatively easy. Mr. Graham seems to miss the importance of Mr. Swinbarne's development of the English measures. The other articles in the Contemporary do not call for any special notice.
The Fortnightly Review appears this month with Mr. Frank Harris's name on its front page. To judge from the present instance, the magazine will be conducted on much the same principles as those adopted by Mr. Escott. "The Belfast Riots, by Our Special Commissioner," may possibly be a development in a new direction. The first two pages of the number are devoted to an explanation by Colonel Hope of the withdrawal of his article exposing alleged fraud and corruption on the part of the Ordnance Department. The article has now been placed in the hands of the Secretary for War, together with a statutory declaration by Colonel Hope of the truth of its contents. The declaration, as Colonel Hope points out, makes his statements liable to become the ground of an action for perjury, which action he is prepared to sustain. Colonel Hope's contention is a very grave one, and apparently made in perfect good faith. It certainly deserves the minutest investigation, though whether that investigation should be public or private is a very difficult question. We are quite willing to agree with the concluding words of the editor's note,—" The matter, however, could scarcely be in better bands than those of a practical and able business-man like Mr. W. H. Smith." Mr. Freeman's "Prospects of Home-rule," like all his writing on this subject, as far as we can judge, seems to show no very determined conviction in favour of Parnellism, but is rather a careful and academic attempt to deal with the philosophy of the subject. To use his own words, his is not an argument for the details, or even main principle of the scheme, but an attempt to distinguish and compare the various suggestions for solving the Irish
Question ; though, no doubt, as far as concerns Mr. Gladstone's proposals, a sympathetic attempt. We notice with pleasure the honesty of conviction which induces Mr. Freeman to condemn the notion that the Tories should be encouraged by the Liberals to go in for a Separatist policy. No good to the country can come of such tactics. Surely the Home-rulers should feel that if the Union is to be repealed, it should be after an honest
conversion of the country, not by the fraudulent tactics of political faction. Mr. Symonds's "Some Notes on Fletcher's Yalentinian," show the writer's fine feeling for dramatic litera-
ture. The general remarks on Beaumont and Fletcher's art are well worth the attention of students of the Elizabethan drama, while the story of the play is told with admirable clearness. All who have read and delighted in Fletcher's magnificent tragedy, where the lust, the cruelty, the horror, and the mysterious divinity that hedged even the weakest and most worthless of the Cwsars are evoked upon the scene by the spell the poet knew so well how to cast, will take pleasure in Mr. Symonds's masterly analysis of the motives
of the play. Few will be found not to agree in his condemna- tion of the way in which Fletcher has in the end spoiled and wasted his magnificent tragic opportunity. The Editor's "Home and Foreign Affairs" contains the usual 2% S117116. of political events; but if Mr. Harris is to restore to the Fortnightly the distinction it gained from Mr. Morley's contributions under this
head, he must improve very much on the present specimen.
The National Review prints from the pen of Mrs. Lynu Linton a paper of flouts, jeers, hacks, and slashes on the ques- tion of woman's rights. Much of it is exaggerated, much put over-strongly ; but in the main, the arguments in "The Future Supremacy of Women" are not only sound, but extremely well expressed. They gain force, too, in coining from a lady so dis- tinguished in letters as Mrs. Lynton, and so little like that oppressed slave of man which the unenfranchised woman is
represented to be. This is the writer's opinion of the Parisian femme de commerce:—
"Surely it is a pleasant, a natural, and in its degree a wholesome, thing for men to worship women ; but the cult is dangerous when carried to excess. A little of it humanises society and softens the asperities of men ; a great deal corrupts both. When women become supreme in power and influence, like the Parisian femme de commerce, or the Parisian grande dame, they are equally mischievous as regards the best virtues of society and men. In the former case they keep the shop and send away the children. And keeping the shop means keeping the man. Neither Jules nor Jack loves work per Se; and if he can be kept like a gentleman in idleneso, he prefers his leisure to labour. As Madame, on her side, prefers the quasi-publicity and excitement of life behind the counter to the claustral monotony of her own four walls, he indulges her desire, gives her her head, and profits
Mr. Clermont Daniell's paper on "Bimetallism "is by no means an adequate statement of this most important subject. Readers will gather a notion of the wisdom of the writer from his pro- posals in regard to India. As far as we can understand, for there is some ambiguity in the statement of the proposition, India should adopt a gold currency. The best way of answering this is to point out that it is proposing to multiply the national indebtedness by five. Mr. Hoare, in a letter to the Times of Monday last, has put the case very well. He shows how the present appreciation of gold has, in truth, raised the National Debt from 700 millions to 1,050 millions, and how a further appreciation of gold by the adoption of a gold currency in India might reasonably be expected to raise it to 3,500 millions. But Mr. Daniell seems to think that if India had a gold standard, gold would somehow be set free, not still more restricted. "Our Glorious Constitution," by "X.," is not a very valuable contri- bution to the history of our institutions. Every one who passes nowadays runs his penknife into our walls, and pronounces against them. Some say that they are utterly unsound, and must come down ; some " that a little comp° " is all that is re- quired; some that there are no foundations ; but all say that the building needs repair. "X." has his suggestions this month, "Z." will have his next month, and so the game goes on. Let us hope the master of the house will be wiser than was poor Mr. Briggs, and will steadily refuse to have the house brought about his ears under the name of repairs. Lady Bloomfield's " Episode in History" is a well-written and entertaining description of the great fire at the ball at the Austrian Embassy in Paris, during the marriage fetes of Marie Louise and the Emperor. "The Future of Ireland" is a fairly reasonable article, but calls for no special notice.
In the tourists' season, rescued, however, in the dullest weeks of it by the Bulgarian see-saw revolution, the general reader can bear a good deal of description of tours and trips. If he is, or has been, doing anything in either the greater or the less of those departments of travel, he takes record of the kind as
a personal compliment ; and if he has not, although there may be a sting of envy in his pleasure, he likes to read about other people's deeds of locomotion. For this reason Blackwood is more attractive than usual, with its two pleasant a propos, "From a Hill-top," by an unnamed writer, and "A Tour upon
Wheels," by Mr. Oscar Browning. There is a very amateurish affectation in writing of the Chit,teau Gaillard as "the favourite child of Richard Cceur de Lion." The author seems to know nothing of the importance of Soissons in later times than those of the Sire de Coney. The hill from whose " top " the unnamed writer surveys a fair scene, which he describes with vigour and without affectation, is not named ; but it is enough to know that it is situate five hundred miles north of London and thirty miles south of Lochnagar. No.1 of a series of papers on "The Scotland of Mary Stuart" is the most interesting paper in Blackwood. It treats of William Maitland, of Lethingtou, whom Queen Elizabeth praised as "the flower of the wits of Scotland," and incidentally of his brother John, a less estimable, but perhaps a more striking personage. The political article is hardly at all abusive, but it is platitudinarian in the extreme. Major-General MacMahon, on what he calls Lord Rosebery's surrender to China, and unequivocal admission of the Celestial Empire's claim to suzerainty, is not very convincing ; and a heavy article on "The National Survey" affords plenty of information on a subject which is hardly of general attractiveness.
Macmillan has its tribute to the tourist season also, and as it is paid through the medium of an essay on "the city of the Sextian waters, the cherished dwelling-place of King Rene," written by Mr. Freeman, it is of course learned without being prosy or pedantic. Such of the" cure "-seekers at Aix as have not a rooted objection to knowing anything at all about the former history of the place of their sojourn, cannot do better than master the facts contained in these eight packed pages. "An t migre on Ireland in 1796 "is to be recommended to all who are capable of bringing an unprejudiced mind to bear on one side of the burn- ing question of the day ; for the emigro of a century ago might have published his book last week withoutloss of apropos; and his desire to have it explained to him how it is "that for centuries the English should have been content to know less of many parts of Ireland than they do of Otaheite," would be as reasonable and as fully justified. The magazine is pleasantly brightened up by a smart article on "Hero-Worship," a doctrine which is working, according to the writer, " great mischief all round us in society." Here we have it explained that Napoleon became "unquestionably great" because "during his whole life he never thought twice about suppressing any moral impulse which could not be made to serve his personal ambition,"—in other words, "just because he was a low man ;" and then the writer goes on to protest against the bullying beatifications of his own particular pets by Mr. Carlyle—whom he pleasantly mentions as "a person of whom we have lately heard quite enough "—as follows :—
"One proof of the irrationality of Hero-worship is found in the worshipper's inability to describe his hero in clear and satisfactory terms. There are few literary achievements to be compared with Carlyle's 'Cromwell,' few books in any language which exhibit so wonderful a combination of industrious accuracy and poetic power. But does it enable us to understand Cromwell ? Surely not. Carlyle is justly chargeable with the superqciality which he himself charged on Scott. He gives us a lifelike presentment of his hero, his clothes, his outer man, the country in which he lived. But when he comes to the inner man, his purposes and motives, we find ourselves in con- tact not with a man, but with a cloudy portent of Energy, Veracity, and other abstractions spelt with capital letters. The roll of the devout biographer's style, broken only by ejaculations of praise, becomes at last positively wearisome ; you pat down the volume and look round impatiently for some historian who has not bound himself by a religious obligation to admire every act of Oliver, Lord Protector. Perhaps you find solace in Mozley's essay, the work of a High Churchman, who thought it right to be less than fair to the great Puritan ; but at the same time, the work of a critio who sets out to describe a man, and not a false god. Mozley gives you at least some measure of the man he describes ; Carlyle gives you none, and would probably have throttled you had you asked him to measure Cromwell by the standards which apply to other men."
One wonders that the writer of this charming paper has not referred to Macaulay's William of Orange as a striking instance of the temptations of hero-worship. It hardly seems to ns to be worth any one's while to criticise many of the criticisms of Mr.
Swinburne, whose praise and censure are alike hysterical and unconvincing. We should have thought the printing of such an assertion as that the person must be "either cancerous with malevolence or paralytic with stupidity," who does not think as he does concerning Lord Tennyson's "Rizpah," would have secured immunity from serious consideration ; but it seems we were wrong ; and we do not regret our error, seeing that a very amusing writer handles the Randolph Churchill of literature in diverting style in Macmillan. The whole paper is admirable ; so good-humonredly contemptuous, and so masterly in its exasperating " pooh-pooh !" But we think the writer puts the case of "those carping creatures called critics" a little too strongly when he declares that "they have agreed to forget The Leper,' and they have read 'Bothwell." They may have done the former, just as one deliberately forgets a bad smell; but have they done the latter ? The editor of Macmillan has nobly declined to recognise the dull season at all. "Capping Verses" is very pleasant reading. It ends with a little bit about Silias Helices which makes the reader leave off with a sadden laugh, —surely the triumph of a magazine article. "I know no more about Silins," says the writer, "than the fact revealed to us by Downey, that there are five lines in his seventeen books which begin with the letter x.' Stay, I am wrong, one thing more I do know of him : in Mr. Trevelyan's admirable biography of Lord Macaulay, I came upon that omnivorous reader's opinion of him thus tersely in his diary Silius Italian is a conceited ass.' And I have no doubt that Lord Macaulay was perfectly right." Even the pace de rgsistance, "Homer and Recent Archasology," is not tough but taking ; and an article on Paul Louis Courier must not be left without commendation for its comprehensive crispness.
Miss Veley's gem-like story, "A Garden of Memories," comes to an end in the English Illustrated Magazine. This is an excellent number ; the inevitable bit of travel is "A Septem- ber Day in the Valley of the Arno," and it makes one want to go there. The "Chase" is a delightful article ; the illustrations are from drawings by Mr. Hugh Thomson, and they remind us every now and then, by a comic horse -or dog, of the touch of the vanished hand of Caldecott. "Dogs of the Chase" is more serious, but equally well-written and well-illustrated.
There is nothing of special note in Corn hill.