5 APRIL 1862, Page 23


TEE Magazines for this month are unusually good. Fraser contains one paper so excellent, and in a literary sense so valuable, that we have endeavoured to answer it in a separate article. Blacks000d has a contribution on "Political Tragedies in Japan," which is a real addition to our knowledge of the political life of the empire, and Macmillan publishes the first contribution from a special correspon- dent in America, who has eyes, and the faculty of using them on the questions upon which Englishmen need enlightenment. The Corn- hill has a curious sketch of the inner life of an hospital, which, if not very new, still brings those great institutions and their manage- ment-home to the public mind, and an article on the Brain full of rare thought and power, contrasting most strangely in both with the dis- eased rubbish called "First Beginnings," an article apparently written to puff Dr. Winslow, and by one who believes, like that individual, that the world ought to be turned into an asylum, with the Doctor for Pope, and keepers for an administration. We cannot imagine a worse danger for a nervous, fanciful man, whose stomach is out of order, and who wants a breath of fresh air, than to read one of these evil discourses full of exaggerated facts, and of theories any first-class physician who knows that the stomach causes most of the minor brain diseases would dismiss with contempt. We have no patience with the men who trade on the fear all city bred and dyspeptic people entertain of the most terrible of human calamities, and still less with magazines which drag their unwholesome views out of the medical circle to which they ought to be restricted. Lord Chelms- ford has put the bridle on these men in courts of justice, and it is high time it were done in literature also. We turn willingly to pleasanter matter. The "Chronicles of Carlingford " are, we see, attributed to George Eliot, and few others could have produced such a picture of the lower side of dissentingsociety, or described it with such an admixture of appre- ciation and scorn. There is a description of a tea-meeting in a schoolroom in this number which is as good as anything in "Silas Marner," except, perhaps, the seene in the alehouse, and the contrast between Mr. Vincent, the educated, enthusiastic non- conformist, -writhing under his own refinement, and the Reverend Mr. Raffles, of Shoebury, the popular and humorous dissenter, who "exa- mined all the preparations, tasted the cake, and pricked his fingers with the garlands," is in a style worthy of the artist who created Mrs. Poyser to prove that humour is not a faculty beyond the femi- nine range. There is something deeper than humour in the account she gives of the minister's sermon, the startling discourse uttered to the roomful of cheerful and happy people, which "made shivers of emotion run through the astonished audience," and which the young minister felt to be unreal, even while it was doing good. There are very few authors, indeed, in our literature, who would venture to place a minister in the pulpit, talking, as he knows and the reader knows, deliberately for effect, like an artist rather than a divine, yet never weakening his hold over the reader's respect and sympathy. We shall have to review the Chronicles as a whole, and are half afraid that incidents are preparing a little too melodramatic ; but we would recommend all who love strong, sound writing, and subtle thought, ornamenting a tale as full of human interest as any Currer Believer penned, to lay aside their reasonable distaste for serials, and keep well up with the" Chronicles of Carlingford." The paper on political tragedies in Japan is a valuable addition to our knowledge of that little-understood empire. The present situation, one of extreme danger for the prosperity of Japan, has, it appears, been produced entirely by the admission of Europeans. There are, it appears, three royal families—those of Kewsew, Owari, and Meto —from among whom the temporal Emperor may he selected. Hitherto, the election of the twenty-four great families has always been chosen from the first-named; but of late the Prince of Meto has shown himself ambitious of the dignity. The treaty admitting Europeans gave him this opportunity, and he accordingly created a vacancy by assassinating the Tycoon. The family of Kewsew, however, were too powerful, and its next repre- sentative was elected only to be poisoned by the same agency. Again the family raised its last surviving male, a child, to the throne, and with him a prince entitled to the hereditary regency. This noble, a powerful and able prince, was assassinated at the gates of the palace, but this outrage roused the Government into action. The twenty-four ordered Ilito to rip himself up, and on his disobedience ordered him to be slain. The order was executed, but the dying noble, calling his followers round him, made them swear to avenoo his death by a general massacre, and it was in pursuance of this vow that the Legation was attacked by his followers. Since that event the Government seems to have been embarrassed as to the course to pursue. Several of the great nobles approve, it would seem, a policy of conciliation, for the Legation has not been spin attacked, but the persons of its members are strictlyed, all means of information are as far as possible prohibited, and the Embassy exists subject to one permanent clanger. The malcontents, already so powerful, that at the time of the attack on the Legation new guards were required for the members of the Government itself, may invoke the Mutat), and there is little doubt, says the writer, that if the only true sainted and sovereign Lord of Japan inclined to their- views the Government would yield, and at once adopt any measnre the party hostile to foreigners may suggest. He hopes for a different conclusion, for such a gradual amelioration of Japanese ideas as may permit a class to arise too warmly interested in the trade to be attacked by the feudal nobles. It is much more likely that Europe will follow its motive in the East, that the Government, nearly over- borne, will, by an alliance with Europe, suddenly obtain irresistible power, and use it to break up all powers but its own. With a capital on the coast, it cannot hope to defeat the maritime powers. Sir L. Bulwer's papers on "Life, Literature, and Manners," still strike us as among his least successful efforts. They are too much like Mr. Tupper in prose. They are full of such sentences as these : "The desire of excellence is the neces- sary attribute of those who excel." "We work little for a thing unless we wish for it." To "the aspirants to moral good the vox populi is not the vox Dei." "Old age has a beauty of its own, even in the physical form, and the Moral Beautiful gradually becomes venerable without ever losing its bloom." "To moral excellence there are two rewards * * one in the conscience, one far out of reach beyond the stars." "Impudence has no elasticity." Excel- lent sentences all of them, but belonging rather to copy slip literature than to the author of "Paul Clifford," and "Pelham." A curiously thoughtful review of Mr. Lever's writings, and a spitefully Southern article on the prospects of America, are both worth reading, though we cannot imagine on what grounds the writer of the latter calls Mr. E. M. Stanton a presumptuous fanatic; he is a Union Democrat, though probably convinced, like most Americans, that the Union and slavery are incompatible. Fraser contains, besides Sir C. Lewis's paper, an excellent review of all recent schemes for reforming the incidence of the income- tax. The writer's argument for reducing the burden on industrial incomes is not the popular one, that workers must save, while pro- perty-holders need not, but the fact that the income tax took the place of taxes the incidence of which was of a different kind. That tax falls on the gross receipts, while the indirect taxes for which it was substituted fell only upon expenditure. The "reserves" which are annually made were not taxed then, and ought, therefore, not to be taxed now. The effort to redress this injustice must, of course, be somewhat arbitrary, but the writer inclines to Mr. Hubbard's pro- posal, to tax industrial incomes one-third less than incomes derived from property, a reduction which, in a rough but imperfect way, would exempt industrial savings. The article is not very original, but it contains a valuable synopsis of the opinions of our best financiers on one of the most difficult problems in taxation. "Notes from Numidia" are in the style now so familiar to as all, easily written descriptions of the surface of things in Algeria, as they appeared to an Englishman little familiar with the East. They are pleasant enough to read, but shallow and careless ; and the history of "Mental Epidemics" con- tains little not known to all who have given the slightest attention to the subject. The writer makes no attempt to explain why a purely ntryous derangement should be as "catching" as a fever, or to account for cases such as the epidemic of suicide which once raged in Seinde, with which nervous derangement has obviously nothing to do. May it not be that the tendency to imitate is a separate and powerful instinct in us as in the monkeys, which it requires an un- conscious effort of will to control, and which under certain morbid conditions becomes ungovernable? A strong man gating long at a pal- sied patient, will find it requires an effort to keep his own head from shaking, though his nerves were never in better trim. Children always catch any remarkable trick, solely, to all appearance, from the uncontrollable wish to imitate. The sketch of "Arthur Hugh Clough" is kindly, but not a little vague. One does not get much idea ofa man from hearing that he "-lived his poem," or of his opinions from learning that he usually kept them to himself, and that, whatever they were, they only produced a larger tolerance for opponents.

"Three Weeks in New York," in Macmillan, gives a somewhat dubious account of the American capital. There is, says E. D., but little appearance of poverty, and no "mob," that bugbear of most English writers upon American cities. The order maintained is perfect, and there is in all the incidents of external life a thorough fusion of classes to which we are not accustomed in England. Even when talking of the war the people maintain an equanimity and coldness strangely at variance with the tone of their journals, and inshort New York seems to the observer as orderly as an English city. But then it is just as dull. There are no sights to be seen, the business element is ail-

pervading, and everybody seems to know all about his neighbour's business, and to talk of it as he would in an English country town. The sketch leaves the impression that sameness is the distinguishing feature of New York, extending from the streets which are all alike, and the houses which are tiresome from their similarity to each other, to the people themselves. That is the result which might be expected in a society where the political equality is real, where there is very little abject poverty, and where the people are educated in absolutely free schools, which enforce no test of admission, except decent dress. We notice that the teachers in'all classes, except two or three of the highest boys' classes, are women—an arrangement which might be adopted with exceeding advantage in England, where really well- trained women might be obtained at half the cost of the semi-educated masters now so common. The children remain much longer than in England, the girls staying from seven to seventeen, and the boys from seven to fifteen, after which the ablest of their number are drafted off to the Free Academy. These letters are a new feature in the magazine, and promise to be a popular one. The rest of the number, "Ravenshoe" always excepted-, is a little too much of the "padding" order, though the article on "Passing Events" is marked by thought and acumen. The writer points out one feature in the position of Rattazzi almost forgotten in England. He is a deadly foe of the Church, being the Minister who, in 1854, proposed the bills for secularizing the monasteries and punishing clerical sedition. There is no fear of a compromise between him and the Papacy, and if he yields at all, it will be to French influence. The Cornhill announces the retirement of Mr. Thackeray, attri- buted by himself to disgust with his editorial duties. "To say No has often cost him a morning's peace and a day's work." He, how- ever, continues his "Round-about Papers," and will shortly com- mence a story upon which he has been engaged for years. Mr. Thackeray's editorship has been, on the whole, a successful one, but we are not quite certain that writers of the first class make the best editors for magazines. Their taste is apt to be too fine, to run too much to caviare and olives, and things which ordinary mortals can't eat. There is a flavour of "gentlemanliness" running through all our magazines just at present which we can only describe by saying it is the exact tone old Christopher North would have sneered at, and which the mass of the public will never fully appreciate. The physiological papers in the Cornhill, for example, have been simply beyond praise, but we very much doubt whether ten per cent, of its readers so much as cut the leaves. The true magazine editor should be, we suspect, a man whose mind is a sounding-board, which rever- berates to the slightest whisper of public feeling, who possesses above all things sympathy, and can tell to a shade the popular value of an article he may be quite incompetent to criticize. We have noticed the paper on the Brain, and the public is indebted to its writer for pointing out a truth too often forgotten—that man, to secure perfect health, wants mental exercise. "The perfect health i of a man s not the same as that of an ox, or a horse. The prepon- derating capacity of his nervous part demands a corresponding life." The opposite idea that rest is always good for the brain, has become a sort of faith, and men who work hard are taxed as if they were guilty of gradual suicide. So they are if the work is unwilling, but most great philosophers have been long-lived men, and English Ministers of State seem to enjoy the vital energy we. ascribe to antediluvians.