6 OCTOBER 1866, Page 21


Mu. E. DICEY'S paper on "The New Germany" in Macmillan is perhaps the most immediately interesting of any in this month's magazines. His points may, however, be very briefly stated. He thinks that Prussia will slowly but very certainly make her dominion conterthinous with Germany, and will completely Prus- sianize the Empire. He thinks also that the internal resistance to that process will be very slight. Even in Hanover, where the population do not at all events actively desire to be Prussian, "there is not the slightest evidence to show that they are pre- pared to make any sacrifices in order to give effect to their predilections. They do not cease to be German ; they are not brought under foreign rule ; they retain all their freedom and rights ; the utmost they have to complain of is that their wishes have not been consulted as to a change in their internal adminis- tration. As members of an individual State they may have been ill used, but as members of the 'great German community they have no grievance to allege." They will reconcile themselves, and even now, as against France, they could be trusted implicitly. Mr. Dicey evidently thinks well of the futureof German freedom, founding his hope mainly, it would seem, upon the rapid rise of the trading class, but for the present he is inclined to believe the Kings will continue to rule. In England, he says, there are three Estates, all co-equal, and the Constitution is worked and workable "only upon an unexpressed understanding that, if the three Estates cannot agree, the House of Lords and the Crown must ultimately give way to the House of Commons ; and this under- standing is due to a consideration, whether sound or unsound, that, if it come to a contest, the nation would support the Parlia-

ment in preference to either Peers or Sovereign." In Prussia there are also three Estates, but the Crown is the strongest, for the nation would in a contest support it against the others, from a conviction that it is, on the whole, intending to rule well. As for a voluntary renunciation of power by the King or the Crown Prince, Mr. Dicey tells a little and very apposite story :— " In the days of 1848, the Hessians sent a deputation to the Elector to ask for a constitution. The disreputable old despot heard the petition, and asked the spokesman what he was. A brewer,' was the answer. ' Brewers shan't govern.' This was all the reply that the deputation received. The Hessians have changed their dynasty, and have got an honest, upright Sovereign, in the place of one of the most ill conditioned royal gentlemen who ever sat upon a throne. But I suspect the new ruler is as resolved in his heart as the old that brewers shan't govern.' " The second German paper, " Reminiscences of Vienna," is pleasant and gossipy, but with little of novelty in it, and no in- formation, and only this one anecdote, short enough to be ex- tracted. It illustrates the depth of social demarcations in Vienna, demarcations as strong now as they ever were, though plebeians have contrived to rise high both in the bureaus and in the army. Neither Bach nor Benedek, however, proved successful enough to be used as arguments against aristocratic prejudice :—

"The artists' chief place of assemblage was at the Baroness Escheles'. The Baron had married a lady of high rank, being himself only an ennobled banker and a millionaire,' and it was a fact that his wife could only go to see her sisters in a strictly private way by the back- stairs from the date of her marriage. Gentlemen of good family went to her house,—ladies, of course, never ; and, strangest fact of all, when these gentlemen met the Baroness in the street, they did not bow to her. They only knew her en cachette. Another great banker and mil- lionaire, G—, was honoured by several of the leading members of society dining with him, of course men only, from time to time. One of them said one day after a particularly good dinner, Really, G you must come and taste my Moselle one of these days.'—' No, no ; I know my place too well,' replied the banker. I have heard this story told several times by excellent Viennese people, to prove how thoroughly independent in spirit was their favourite G---.'

The third, " An Austrian Country House," is of the same kind, but leaves an impression that country life in Austria, if you are very rich, slightly artistic, with a turn for manufactures and pleasant relations with the peasantry, must be a very agreeable one. But then the dark side of things is not often very visible to a guest in a great house, who does not understand the language, and has not ceased to perceive the contrast between Continental simplicity, and directness, and English pretentiousness and for- mality. Much simplicity of habit, too, is possible in countries where larceny is either opposed to the habits of the people or prevented by extreme severity of punishment. Nobody knows how much the tendency to seclusion in English country life is due to the certainty that unless the park is surrounded by a paling the trees will be hacked and the deer driven, that unless the garden is surrounded by a wall there will not even be apples left for the owner.

The best paper in the Cornhill, apart from the stories, is on " Naval Men," which it is, we fancy, quite safe to attribute to Mr. Hannay. At least, if the author of Singleton Fontenoy did not write it, there is some one else alive who might have written Singleton Fontenoy, which is an advantage to the world. By the way, why on earth does Mr. Hannay leave off writing novels ? Marryatt is dead, and Chamier, and except himself we do not remember a man who can write a decent sea story, not to men- tion that nobody else seems to have an idea that the modern naval officer is very much like the modern English gentleman of any kind, just as little professional and just as much aware of the general movement of the world. This is the main point of " Naval Men :"— " The typical captain of the new state of things has as yet to take his permanent shape. He is in the course of his development into a new species, being a quite different animal from the old, bluff-mannered, free-spoken, weather-beaten man of Stopford and Napier's generation. The service is, so to speak, in rather a chaotic state at present,—pass- ing into the condition of a new world, but a world whose denizens cannot be described in advance. Formerly, there was a certain defi- nite sort of character belonging to all captains, in spite of the racy individualism of each, and in spite of the fact that every great admiral formed a school of captains of his own. The strictly modern captain has a dash of the artilleryman and engineer officer in him, and wants the nautical freshness and pungency which we can remember (some- times in ludicrous, sometimes in serious shapes) among his predecessors. He is a sharp, active man, with far more scientific knowledge than they, but (as yet) with less flavour of character and individuality about him. Like the admiral as distinct from the historic admiral, he is mach more a man of the world, and in much more familiar connection with modern ideas than the captains he was bred under. Culture, as we have said, was never the strong point of the navy, though Collingwood, who was the model of a naval gentleman, wrote a better style than nine-tenths of our professed authors. But the captain's cabin has always a modern library at all events, containing some of the best English authors, and the fashionable histories, poems, and novels of the day ; and to this library, if the captain be a good fellow, with a sense of the responsi- bilities of his position, the youngsters are allowed access. In summer time, the captain's suite of cabins in a large ship makes a very pleasant residence even for ladies, and where the ,position admits of it as in vessels employed in harbour at home, you will find the domestic life there as elegant on a modest scale as that of a villa. There are pianos, pictures, flowers, and pleasant nicknacks, while the sea breeze stirs the silk curtains of the ports, and cools the atmosphere more delightfully than any air from meadow or hill. A cockney who had taken his notions of existing naval society from the novels of Marryatt and Chamier, and who supposes that the evening winds up on board with one of Dibdin's songs and a 'can of flip,' would be surprised to find how much a dinner in this agreeable region resembled a dinner at Richmond or in London. The naval man of these days, ceasing to be

the salt' of other times, has rather a tendency to run into the other extreme, and to be a chilly and polished swell. Edmond About has observed the same thing of the officers of the French marine. The French Navy is, indeed, more in favour with good families in France than the army ; and good American families, we believe, show the same predilection for their service."

The new captain is probably just as efficient as the old, indeed, if we do not mistake Mr. Hannay, he tends to be rather more so, it being impossible to command a huge iron-clad steamer without a great deal more knowledge than was formerly considered either necessary or useful. By the way, we wish the writer of this paper had explained the increased sense of responsibility which seems to us mere outsiders to have come over the Navy, and to exercise a rather benumbing effect. Is it entirely the immense value of each ship, or is there a change in the tone adopted at head-quarters to any man who runs risk, or is it that the educated captain perceives risks, we do not mean risks to his person, more than his uneducated predecessor did? Anyhow, dash is waning, and it was a very useful quality. A paper on " Presentiments " is curious, from the evident belief of its author that there are two kinds, the true presentiment, which has in it something of the supernatural ; and the false, which is the result of unconscious physical or mental action. He admits the difficulty of distinguishing them, but thinks that when distinguished the true sort are very inexplicable. His perfect example, however, though interesting, does not strike US as complete :- "A young lawyer, who had chambers in the Temple, had a nodding acquaintance with an old gentleman living on the same staircase. The old man was a wealthy old bachelor, and had a place in the country, to which he went for a week every Easter. His servants had charge of the place while he was away—an old married couple who had lived with him for twenty-seven years, and were types of the fine old English domestic. One Easter Tuesday the young lawyer was astonished to find the old gentleman on his Temple staircase, and made some remark about it. The old man asked him into his room and said he had received a fearful shock. He had gone down as usual to his country place, had been received with intense cordiality, had found his dinner cooked to perfection, and everything as it had been from the beginning. When the cloth was removed his faithful butler put his bottle of port on the table, and made the customary inquiries about master's health, toped master was not fatigued by the journey, had enjoyed his cutlet, and so on. The old gentleman was left alone, his hand was on the neck of the bottle of port, when it suddenly flashed across his mind, 'Here I am, a lonely old man ; no one cares for me ; there is no one near to help me if anything should happen to me. What if my old servant and his wife have been cheating and robbing me all the time ? What if they want to get rid of me, and have poisoned this bottle of wine ? ' The idea took hold of him so strongly that he could not touch his port. When the man came in again he said he did not feel well, would have a cup of tea ; no, he would have a glass of water and go to bed. In the morning he rang his bell, and no one answered. He got up, found his way downstairs ; the house was empty, his two faithful old servants had vanished. And when he came to look further he found that his cellar, which ought to have contained two or three thousand pounds' worth of wine, was empty, and the bottle they had brought him last night was poisoned."

The presentiment was nothing more than a train of reflections such as constantly present themselves to any man accustomed to a cynical observation of the difference between the appearance of things and their reality. The only wonderful circumstance was the intensity of the impression, which produced not only action, but a bit of acting. Some men habitually think on speaking to any one, " I wonder what that man is really thinking?" and generally follow up the idea by imagining the thought most op- posed to the friend's apparent humour or conversation.

Fraser is wonderfully dull this month—scarcely a notable paper in it. The " Notes on Florence " are of a very ordinary-kind, Mulock's paper " On Living in Perspective" is an oft re- peated protest against extravagance, and that sort of egotism which displays itself in the exaggeration of one particular duty, and the " Education of Girls" has almost passed out of the list of possible subjects of discussion. There are fools and will be fools who think women should not be educated, but they will hardly read, much less be convinced by, a paper stuffed with authorities and written very much as ladies' sermons would be written, had we a female order of preachers.

Blackwood, too, would be heavy, but for Cornelius O'Dowd's chap- ter on the new disease, which he calls " Boritis," and the effect of which he thus describes, " The pestilence I complain of works so secretly and insidiously, that it actually permeates your system be- fore you detect any change in your circulation or influence on your digestion. A general drowsiness is the first symptom, increasing to an intense desire to turn your face to the wall ; frequent sighing and depression follow—dashed by brief paroxysms, in which you would like to strangle somebody; these are, however, soon succeeded by complete prostration, and then you may be said to have it !" He suggests that every man afflicted should have a big B labelled on his forehead, become an acknowledged Bore, and thus enable mankind to shun him as afflicted with a contagious disease. O'Dowd is inclined to think that Irishmen when they are bores are the worst, but be does not know. He lives away from the land of Philistines, and never met the only perfect bore—the bore philanthropic, the wretch who has an idea which he thinks will regenerate mankind and make him famous, and who insists on making you endorse his ridiculous exaggerations. The man is: perfectly honest and means well, but his talk is as the dropping of water, his demands are shamelessly impudent, his mind has got into a rut out of which nothing but kicking would expel him. "Like to strangle somebody," forsooth 1 Let O'Dowd just turn editor for a week, and let one of these wretches fasten on him, and if the strangling does not pass from a wish into an action we mistake the Irish character and O'Dowd's.