SOME PAPERS IN THE MAGAZINES.
THE Laureate's song, on the " Defence of Lucknow," in the Nineteenth Century, will hardly add to his reputation, but we do not think that it will detract from it. The last verse, which should be a climax, is distinctly poor, both in thought and ex,- pression ; but the song is full of felicitous expressions, and con- tains this extremely stirring and vigorous passage ;- " Ever the mine and assault, our sallies, their lying alarms.
Bugles and drums in the darkness, and shootings and soundings to arms,
Ever the labour of fifty that had to be done by five, Ever the marvel among us that one should be left alive, Ever the day with its traitorous death from the loopholes around, Ever the night with its coffinless corpse to be laid is the ground, Heat like the mouth of a hell, or a deluge of cataract skies, Stench of old offal decaying, and infinite torment of flies, Thoughts of the breezes of May blowing over an English field, Cholera, scurvy, and fever, the wound that would not be heal'd, Lopping away of the limb by the pitiful-pitiless knife,— Torture and trouble in vain,—for it never could save us a life, Valour of delicate women who tended the hospital bed, Horror of women in travail among the dying and dead, Grief for our perishing children, and never a moment for grief, Toil and ineffable weariness, faltering hopes of relief."
Earl Grey gives us his plan for the government of South Africa, which is to leave Cape Colony as at present, but reduce the other colonies of South Africa to Territories, ultimately con- trolled by the Governor of the Cape, and to manage the natives through a legalisation and regulation of the power of their chiefs. The paper is sensible and authoritative, as coming from Earl Grey, but not very striking or original. Mr. Dicey gives a detailed and interesting account of recent proceedings in Egypt, in which he attributes to the Khedive a policy of baffling the European " Ministers," but believes that he has been mastered, and that the Joint Protectorate is now secure. He gives us, however, no reason to believe that the Protectorate will be one whit better than the Government it supersedes, and does not appear to see that the first condition of good government in Egypt is that the financiers who are pillaging it shall cease to have any influence whatever over its destinies ; and that no sound administration is possible while an unwilling Sovereign is compelled to take orders from two European clerks, -whose real mission is to introduce as much reform as may make bondholders secure. If the French financiers could once " un- load," we should hear no more of plans for regenerating Egypt. Mr. Huxley sends a paper on " Sensation and the Sensiferous Organs," in which he seems to revel in showing how very little there is that we can be certain about. In explaining sensation, the materialist may be right, or the idealist, or even the theolo- gian, but each has to make an assumption which is entirely be- yond proof :—" All that we know about motion is that it is a name for certain changes in the relations of our visual, tactile, and muscular sensations ; and all that we know about matter is that it is the hypothetical substance of physical phenomena,— the assumption of the existence of which is as pure a piece of metaphysical speculation as that of the substance of mind." Mr. Huxley bids us, therefore, " make a desert of the Un- knowable, and the divine Astrasa of philosophic peace will commence her blessed reign." We will not say that is nonsense, for there may he meaning in it which we do not perceive,—but is'nt it very like it ? Suppose astro- nomers give up speculating about Space, will they therefore cease from quarrelling as to the distance of the earth from the sun P Lord Zouche complains, with great brevity and some force, that young Peers and unknown Peers are virtually ex- cluded from taking part in the business of the House of Lords, Government distinctly snubbing them as meddlesome inter- lopers, but gives no reason whatever why they submit to be snubbed. Let them vote against Government steadily till they
get decent treatment, and we venture to say snubbing will very soon stop. What makes a young Peer anxious to do his duty so
much more gelatinous than anybody else P The most readable paper, perhaps, in the number, after Mrs. Barrington's essay on " Art," noticed. elsewhere, is the review of Count Tolstoy's novels, in which Mr. Ralston displays his usual faculty for retelling a long story pleasantly ; but literary men will turn with-most in- terest to Mr. Froude's reply to the attack which Mr. Freeman has kept up on him for nearly twenty years. Mr. Froude dis- plays a really admirable command of temper, and great felicity in gentle retort—for example, Mr. Freeman once called Mr. Froude his "victim," on which Mr. Fronde remarks, "Just so, victims are generally innocent and helpless "—but does not do much to settle the more important of the subjects in dispute. He shows, we think, conclusively that he does take trouble over his work, and give time to it, which Mr. Freeman had denied ; and he does remove most of the personal aspersions thrown on him by his antagonist, particularly that of his using the Simancas Archives as a useful mine in which nobody can follow him ; but he does not, that we see, dispose of Mr. Freeman's grand charge against him,—that of habitual inaccuracy as to facts. He could not, of course, dispose of the whole indict- ment in a magazine, but in the points he touches he hardly makes much of a case. He seems to think it, for instance, monstrous to suppose that the murderers of Beckett escaped because the clergy claimed the right of trying offenders against their Order, even if laymen. They must have been liable to the King's justice. Why, if they were liable to the Church's jurisdiction, as Mr. Freeman contends they were ? We thought the whole idea of that age was that the haute justice, the initiatory right of avenging oneself, was a most important privilege, enabling one to be sure that enough punishment was given, and' that the Church claimed this as sternly as any other authority. The thing exists now. No Court would willingly hand over to an impartial tribunal the power of punishing for contempt, nor, if it did not exercise it, would anybody else take up its quarrel. We congratulate Mr. Froude, however, upon a paper which, whether it clears him of literary charges or not, will definitely raise the public impression of his personal char- acter. Of Mr. Wallace's curious speculation on " Reciprocity," we can only express our hearty wish that great naturalists, like great art-critics, would leave political economy alone. Mr. Wallace's proposal to answer a hostile tariff by taxing precisely the same things when coming from the hostile country would not work at all, as he will see, if he will only imagine France taxing English alpacas. Are we to tax French alpacas, which do not come here, and leave French wine untaxed P What would France care P Or how could we distinguish 'French alpacas sent through Belgium, under Belgian names, from Belgian alpacas P The Fortnightly l2eview commences with Mr. F. Harrison's pleasant essay on the " Choice of Books," and the necessity of discrimination in reading, if we would not cumber our brains •
with mere surplusage, and the value of confining ourselves to the admittedly great in literature. It is very pleasant reading, and usually very just, though it wants one important rider. Man has a capacity which Mr. Harrison should remember, a capacity of a very useful kind, and that is a capacity for for- getting. The moderns read a great deal of rubbish, but it does not overload their minds, because it does not go into them. There may be waste of time in reading poor fiction—though to some men the reading of poor books is a greater relief than idleness—but there is no overloading, for the book is forgotten ere it is closed. Mr. Mill's chapters on " Socialism " are ended, and though they will not be found, as a whole, to clear the popular conception of Socialism very much, still less to indicate whether Socialism is or is not possible, they deserve to be carefully read. They are full of wise thoughts, carefully ex- pressed ; as, for instance, in this pregnant remark upon the amount of concord that may be expected in Communistic societies,—" There will still be rivalry for reputation, and for personal power. W hen selfish ambition is excluded from the field in which, with most men, it chiefly exercises itself, that of riches and pecuniary interest, it would betake itself with greater intensity to the domain still open to it, and we may expect that the struggles for pre-eminence and for influence in the manage- ment would be of great bitterness, when the personal passions, diverted from their ordinary channel, are driven to seek their principal gratification in that other direction." The editor, in his further remarks on the Zulu war, descends to too much de- tail, as if he wished rather to convict Sir Bartle Frere of inaccu- racy—which is easily done—than to denounce his policy ; but the paper on " Burma," by General Fytche, should be care- fully studied. It is a very quiet and unpretentious statement of facts, by a first-class expert in the subject, and shows how improbable it is that the King will attack us, how greatly annexation is to be deprecated, and how easy it would be in the event of necessity to raise one of the Burmese Princes in our hands, preferentially " the Lembeng," who is of royal blood on both sides, to the throne, as a subordinate and friendly ally. The paper is very much better than Mr. Forbes's, in the lc id- teenth Century, who writes more easily, but knows only the out- side of his subject. Sir George Campbell finishes his very able paper on "Black and White in the Southern States," in which he gives a number of very curious facts, some of them quite new to us. He states, for instance, that the " mean whites" of the South, without slaves, never cared heartily for the war, and that their passive opposition by desertions was one reason why it ended as it did; and that while legal differences between white and black have been abolished, and blacks can use the railway carriages, caste feeling has hardened itself, and driven the races farther apart than ever. No white will inter- marry, eat with, or worship with a black, on any pretence what- ever, any more than a Brahmin with a Sudra ; and any white person with a taint of black blood, however remote, is accounted a black. Sir G. Campbell, accustomed to see the caste system in full work, does not account this an evil, and forgets, we think, that while the Sudra is content, approving the system as divine, the black is discontent, considering his exclusion insultingly unfair. The Negro's first foible is his vanity.
This is a poor munber of the Contemporary ; it is a little too heavy, and contains no paper of separate interest or excellence. Dr. Littledale, on the " Studies of the English Clergy," is in- structive, but that is all. Mr. Ellice Hopkins's essay on " Car- nivorous Plants " tells us all the well-known facts, and without any attempt to draw conclusions for which science is not yet prepared. What is certain is that there are plants, as there are animals, to whose health the destruction of things with life, the consumption of the higher organisation by the lower, seems to be essential; and it is probable, though not yet proved, that the flesh-eating plants are many. Mr. Hopkins tells us the story well and suggestively, but his reflections are rather trite. There is little use in defending Nature from the charge of being cruel, because Drosera eat flies, but are un- conscious of the cruelty ; when cats eat mice, and enjoy a little preliminary torture. Until we know the object of the existence of things, it is useless to talk of " gratuitous and purposeless pain," or to believe that it presents an insoluble problem. It is not one whit more difficult of comprehension than the existence of congenital idiots, or the fact that sense may be suspended by a blow and revived by trepanning. TVhere, as O. W. Holmes has so frequently said, is the essential being, during that period ? We wish the naturalists would tell us their fads, and not be so in- dined to draw, or to warn us against, precipitate conclusions.
We wish it, however, in vain, as we wish the economists would keep cool, and not expend eloquence over such a question as bi-metallisation. Mr. Stephen Williamson may be right, though we think him wrong, in believing that the cause of the present
distress is the demonetisation of silver—as if the use of the Centigrade instead of the Fahrenheit could alter the climate— but what can be the advantage of stating that in this style?— "But where can an adequate remedy for all this mischief and evil be found ? Our reply is : Restore again to its proper place the metal that has been dethroned. Let it have a joint sway with gold in a fixed and determinate proportion, established on a broader and surer basis than ever before. In other words, rehabilitate silver to the rank of money,' in conjunction with gold, in Europe, Asia, and America. Let England, France, the States of the Latin Union, the United States of America, and India adopt the bi-metallic money system, by solemn international covenant, and the difficulty is solved. The con- gealed life-blood will again dissolve, and flow through the arteries of commerce. The lost par of exchange with silver-using countries will be established more effectively than ever before. India will be rescued from impending bankruptcy. The sun of prosperity, now greatly obscured, will shine again on the face of the earth. And the sum of human happiness, so far as material comfort is concerned, will again be greatly augmented."
" The Disenclosure of the ` Anglican Paddock,' " by Mr. J. R. Pretyman, is rather the expression of a wish than the exposition of a plan, the writer being evidently of opinion that if the for- mularies of the Church could but be widened in an Evangelical sense, the Orthodox or Trinitarian Dissenters might come in. They might, but he should read the history of the three Pres- byterian Churches of Scotland, which do not differ in doctrine by a hair's-breadth, to see the depth of a rift between Churches, when once it has been established. " Contemporary Life and Thought in Russia " is as poor as usual, explaining nothing, and, least of all, Nihilist assassinations ; and we cannot appre- ciate Mr. Buchanan's " Isandtila," from which, nevertheless, we quote the best verse :-
" Then our soldiers look in one another's eyes
Less in terror than in wondering surmise, And a cold breath of despair Seems to chill the golden air, When a voice of thunder cries : Men, prepare!!
Though no human help be by, We are here our strength to try, Yea, to keep the camp, or die in Isandula! ' " By the way, why does Mr. Buchanan call the Zulus, because they kept on charging, " tigers, and not human-hearted things ?" That would be a just epithet for their mode of treating the wounded and dead, but not for their dealing with living foes, which, if they were Englishmen, we should think admirable. It seems to us unpoetical, as well as absurd, to call a Zulu charge a " massacre," and an English charge " brilliant,"—but that is what we always do.
The best paper in Macmillan is Mr. Wilson's, on reciprocity and the best remedy for the present industrial distress. Mr. Wilson draws a sad picture of the position of the British farmer, showing that the American exporter can sell wheat here at 35s. a quarter, less than the price it costs farmers here to grow it, yet obtain a profit of 5s. a quarter, thus rendering English competition quite impossible. Meat also of fine quality can be imported at 5H. a lb., leaving a good profit, a rate with which the English farmer cannot for long compete. It comes to this, therefore,--that English agriculture under present conditions cannot go on, and Mr. Wilson boldly declares that radical change is indispensable. He would "set the land free," apparently by making every owner the absolute freeholder, by extirpating game as vermin, and by placing such heavy taxes on land as would tempt the sale of all acres not yielding revenue. He is not, however, distinct enough as to his plans, and gives too many hints that he would go, in some way unde- fined, even farther than this. There is a paper on the " Royal Family of Egypt," which may be consulted with advantage for facts, but which is written in the spirit indicated in the title. The Khedive is not a King, but a Pasha with a separate title, and his family are no more royal than they are imperial ; while, by Mahommedan law, they possess no rights to the hereditary Pashalic whatever. The succession was altered by a mere decree of the Sultan, which being opposed to the whole spirit and letter of the Cheri or Sacred Code, possesses no binding force whatever. The writer thinks Tewfik Pasha, on the whole, the most eligible candidate out of the army of sons and nephews possessed by the Khedive, but leaves on the reader's mind the impression that he is a narrow-minded bigot. None of the " Princes " seem to be strong men, Hassan, the soldier, being probably the strongest, for although he failed decidedly in the Turkish war, it is not yet certain that the failure was not deliberate.
The Cornhill has a fine paper upon Cobbett, by some one who understands that to the last Cobbett remained a peasant, full of liking for the old rural, semi-feudal system, and of hatred for the " new men ;" an essay on Ulrich von Lichtenstein, " the Don Quixote of Germany," which is no doubt interesting, only all the pages which contain it except one have been left out of our copy of the magazine,—a bad blunder in binding ; and the only good song we have yet seen on Isandlana, by Sir H. Doyle,—a song iu praise of Major Steuart Smith, who before dying spiked his gun :—
" Happier than his brave comrades then, He kept a clear, unwavering will ;
They could but fight and fall like men, But he worked hard for England still : His last sad strokes rang firm and true, And his whole heart was filled with one
Proud thought to sweeten death,—he knew That he had spiked the gun."
The new magazine, Time, edited by Mr. Edmund Yates, is not, as yet, of much value,-by far the most striking paper being Mr. Archibald Forbes' deadly, and we must say, ferocious, attack upon Lord Lytton. He confirms very strongly the statement in the Spectator that the Viceroy did order an inva- sion of Afghanistan before he sent the ultimatum, and with no preparations at all, and was only restrained by urgent orders from home. And he hints, in italics, that the Viceroy acted throughout in communication with the Queen, over the heads of her Ministers, sending home on one occasion a telegram so- long that it cost eleven hundred rupees,—that is, consisted of more than six hundred words. He describes, in very strong language, the position of India in September,—as unprepared for war " as a turtle turned on its back," and declares that the ultimatum was merely a device to gain time.