THE Contemporary Review is full of good papers, the best, perhaps, being Mr. James Runciman's account of the Mission among the fishermen. It will, if we are not mistaken, bring hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pounds to one of the most rational as well as most successful of the civilising agencies supported by the religious public. The Mission, with its nine
splendid, well-found smacks, carries medical help and reli- gious teaching to the twelve thousand fishermen of the North Sea, and they welcome both with hearty cordiality. The Mission has made two great fishing-towns civilised, the women in particular being eager helpers ; it has changed hundreds of ruffians into decent, God-fearing folk, sometimes with a passion of worship in them ; and it has softened and improved the whole fishing population, who, unlike some of those to whom Missions are addressed, are worthy of the efforts made for them. They are among the bravest, most laborious, and most suffering of the population, and when softened, reveal characters sometimes of the noblest kind :-
" As to what are called the conversions, I can say nothing in the theological way, but I judge by the results which I have seen. I am as impartial as an ancient Roman about religious systems and sects, but I know that good is good, and I know that a sober, gentle, courteous fellow, who prays with passionate self-humilia- tion, who is tender to wife and children, who never offers to return evil for evil, and who takes pride in being a gentle and law- abiding citizen, is better than a muscular beast who is only proud of his strength. Now, I could run round the fleets and pick out at least three hundred men who were one something more than inoffensive ne'er-do-wells—they were active and offensive black- guards. These fellows do not ever cant ; they have become civilised men, and if their religious exercises do become demon- strative, what of that ? They are good in all relations of life ; they are fine workmen ; and, if they cry for pardon and pity, who shall blame them ? If I sneered at one of them, I should never get rid of my sense of shame during life ; it would be a crime against humanity. You must rouse strong emotions in order to bring forth the deeper nature of rude and ignorant men ; their ideas are all rather crude, and you cannot teach them subtleties. If by any means you can make them good instead of bad, sober • instead of bestial, kindly instead of brutal, then really I, for one, do not much care about the means which you use."
What the Mission now needs is two hospital cruisers, 25 per cent. of the fishermen receiving injuries or suffering diseases in the course of the year requiring hospital treatment. We do not remember ever to have read an account of mission work better than Mr. Runciman's; it gives so complete a picture, and is so free of any pumped-up feeling.—Mr. Lang's defence of Mr. Rider Haggard, though needless, is a fine piece of easily
written criticism, praise which we can hardly give to Mr. Barrie's eulogy of " George Meredith "—a string chiefly of specimen
epigrams—and Principal Donaldson's account of " Women in Ancient Rome" is full of material for thought. He doubts the hostile view of their general character, and suggests that we confuse the Court ladies with the majority of their day. We know most about the wives and mothers of the Emperors, whose minds, like those of the Caesars, were overbalanced by the " unique exaltation 'of their position," and who in the Julian House had probably a positive trace of insanity. Principal Donaldson admits, however, the extreme reluctance of Roman patricians to marry, which must have arisen, in some degree at least, from dread of the women they found among their equals.—Mr. Gallenga, in " France and Italy," confirms the belief that the two countries hate one another hard, and explains the brusque tone adopted by Signor Crispi as the result of the national conviction that France is implacable, and that nothing can now be gained in controversy by the old submissiveness.—M. Yves Guyot draws a terrible picture of French finance, about which he says he is not pessimist. The total French expendi- ture for 1889 will, however, he admits, be £142,372,000, of which no less than £21,942,000 will be borrowed money, although the permanent funded debt costs £29,661,800 a year, and the total sum to be provided for the year for dividends, life annuities, and sums repayable at fixed dates, is 251,667,054.
M. Guyot may well conclude that "a severe financial policy is the duty of France."—Mr. Haldane's paper on " The Liberal Creed" is studiously moderate ; but he inclines to the belief that the State, while avoiding Socialism, should tax the rich through death-duties and imposts on unearned increment, and distribute the means thus provided so as to make the lot of the poor more nearly that of the middle class. He offers no definite programme, but believes the Liberal leaders should formulate a policy on this basis, and not devote themselves so exclusively to the Irish Question. We are glad to see that he believes a policy of injustice will never be long popular among English workmen, and wishes his friends to clear themselves of all complicity with Socialism.
The Nineteenth. Century is a little dull—for we have little genuine interest in Prince Kropotkin's sketch of "The Indus- trial Village of the Future," in which the same men are to do agricultural labour and factory labour, so partially incapaci- tating themselves for both—or, rather, it would be, but for a very able though bitter paper on " The Reign of the Nouvelles Couches' in France," by Frederick Marshall. Mr. Marshall
holds that the village tribunes are slowly ousting the gentle- men in France, and that one result is the deficiency of men competent to govern of which all Frenchmen complain :-
" The French proclaim all this most vigorously, and foreigners agree entirely with their view ; only, when the French go on to say—as they generally do—that the non-appearance of superior men in France is caused by the non-existence of any superior men at all, we cease to follow them. The conviction of moat strangers is that, though it may be a fact that, as the French complain, there is not one man in France who is capable of being a chief, the cause lies less in the insufficiency of men than in the nature of the situation, which renders it impossible, both morally and materially, that, even if such a man existed, he could force his way out of the crowd and struggle to the top. The jealousies, the suspicions, the clamours against superiority of every kind, and the almost savage hate with which• it is regarded, the determination to drag down, but never to lift up, and to recognise merit for no other purpose than to extirpate it, which are, as we see in France, the natural products of democracy in action, create towering barriers in the way of every one who tries to reach the front; and though it has been proved, in France itself, at other periods and under other political conditions, that such obstacles as these can be swept away by a true combatant, it seems most unlikely that any combatant, however strong, could, as things stand now, assemble in his hands the weapons of success."
Ability in France is, in fact, stifled by too much criticism. That is, we believe, true, with one marked reserve. The French may fix on a competent favourite who is also a genuine Republican. The deluge of criticism is felt here also, but it has not shaken, say, Scotch faith in Mr. Gladstone, and the French peasantry are more inclined than the Scotch to hero-worship. Mr. Marshall, we see, believes that M. Jules Ferry is the strongest man in France, and that the main charge against him, his management in Tonquin, is absurd ; and again we must coincide, with another grave reserve. Does it not show incompetence of some sort, when a man who has successfully fought his way to the top is so bitterly hated by those whom it is his interest as well as his duty to conciliate? The hatred may be temporary, of course; but we should like to know more clearly how it was incurred,—for, of course, it was only released, not created, by
the momentary defeat in Tonquin.—Mr. Wemyss Reid continues his argument as to the reasons for Mr. Forster's resignation in 1882, which were, briefly, that he held himself bound not to release Mr. Parnell until he had "reasonable ground for assurance that he would not endeavour in any manner to intimidate persons from doing what they have a legal right to do,—as, for instance, in paying rents or
other debts, in applying to the Land Court, and generally in dealing with such persons as they think fit." Mr. Gladstone having, however, received permission from the Queen to dis- close proceedings in the Cabinet relative to this affair, opinion must be suspended until his statement appears.—The number contains an extraordinary paper by M. H. Dziewicki, a writer who considers " possession " in the old sense quite possible, if not probable, and therefore holds the Catholic practice of exorcism to be reasonable. The whole rests, in his mind, upon the postulate of a personal Devil,—a postulate which has been silently dismissed from the faith of many believing Protestants after singularly little discussion, and within the lifetime of one generation. M. Dziewicki's illus- tration of true possession is not, we think, a particularly good one :—
" I knew a case in which the principal characters of possession, as understood by the Church, were very evidently marked. Father F—a, well known among the Jesuits•for his piety and devotion, resided at the Scholasticate ' of Vats, near Le Puy (Haute-Loire). One day this man, whose greatest joy had always been to pray and meditate, suddenly experienced a most extraordinary feeling— something that rendered any action of religion impossible to him. He could not enter the chapel ; an unknown force braced his knees when he wished to pray ; if he tried to utter a pious ejacu- lation, foul words of blasphemy fell from his lips. Visited by the other Fathers, he spoke to none of them : yet his mental faculties were not impaired by this extraordinary change. During nine years, if I remember right, he never celebrated mass, nor con- fessed, nor went to communion, nor, in short, held any communi- cation either with God or man. But he read through more than two hundred quarto volumes—Migne's collection of the Latin Fathers ; and he subsequently testified to having felt extremely pained when, sitting thus reading in the library, he overheard one Father say to another : Do you think he can understand ?' This state ended as abruptly as it came. On the eve of the Immaculate Conception, Father F —s went quietly down to confess, said mass the next day, and joined the com- munity as if nothing had happened."
Father F—s being overmastered by an external force, his condition was, of course, to the extent of that force, sinless. But why should an evil spirit, on the hypothesis, trouble him- self to produce a sinless condition P—Of the two grand con- clusions at which Sir J. C. R. Colomb arrives in his paper on " The Naval Manceuvres," one is disheartening and one en- couraging to the ill-informed public. The first is thus stated : —" The parallel between the conditions under which these experimental operations were carried on and the actual con-
ditions in the event of a war with France alone brings out the humiliating truth that at any moment during the progress of such a war the adverse intervention of a third Power possessing a relatively inconsiderable war-navy would abruptly terminate for us all reasonable hope of preserving our maritime position." And the second thus :—" At no period, either during the first or the second phase of the manoeuvres, did such circumstances arise as would have made any attempt at a military invasion
of Great Britain come within the bounds of reasonable pro- bability, no matter what amount of military forces may be credited to the supposed enemy."
Blackwood offers us this month three unusually good papers. We recently challenged Mr. T. E. Kebbel to tells us what be really thought of the English agricultural labourer, and he
tells us in a full and most pleasant essay. We fear it is a little too optimistic. He thinks he can prove that the peasant with his family often earns £60 a year, that his receipts are slowly increasing, and that the purchasing-power of his money has been decidedly enlarged. His home, too, is being im- proved, and, of course, his status as a freeman and a voter. He is not, therefore, inherently hostile either to landlord or clergyman, and does not even hate the farmer, whose bard position in a time of low prices he quite understands. Nevertheless, he feels the village to be "a poor place," and life to be duller than of old—which last, says Mr. Kebbel, is true—and if active and unencumbered, the attractions of the city draw him steadily. The best labourers are therefore departing, while the refuse remain, to be in all probability the subjects of fiery incitements from dema- gogues who tell them they ought to have the land. That account we believe to be accurate, with certain additions. The residuum are worse-off, at least in Southern England, than Mr. Kebbel will admit. They are much more conscious of discontent than he perceives, and they are much more desirous to have " chances " introduced into their lives from somewhere, the kind of chance being the opportunity of getting a little land very cheap. Unless they migrate, other hope they have none, and they cling to this with a pertinacity increased by a class whom Mr. Kebbel does not men- tion,—their wives, who feel the want of silver wages with a perfectly new keenness, and are far more bitter at the excessive economy they have to practise than the labourers themselves. They want to dress better, in short, and to see their children better-off. It is the mothers who persuade the boys to try any career rather than live without hope of ever rising to better—that is, to more comfortable- things.—Madame Blaze de Bury's account of the growing antagonism between Paris and provinces is, though a little too discursive, a most suggestive paper, though we do not believe that an Executive Government can ever be made movable ; and the story, "Ant Diabolns ant Nihil : the True Story of a Hallucination," with which Blackwood begins is dis- tinctly original. It is too weird for our taste, and the writer, if he is relating a fiction, affirms that it is a fact too often, while if he believes it to be a fact, he should pro- duce more evidence ; but his account of Satan during his appearance at the seance, and his influence, and the ecstasy of pain amounting to pleasure which he develops in his worshippers, is, so far as our reading extends, absoutely new, and in the highest degree imaginative. We do not recom- mend it to our readers, for we cannot rid ourselves of an impression of blasphemy in it ; but we have no hesitation in saying what our readers who have not read it will deem absurd, that the conception, if self-generated, and not the product of some extraordinary illusion at a spiritualistic séance, is almost as lofty as Milton's.
We do not see that Dr. G. H. Savage, in his essay on "Homicidal Mania," in the Fortnightly Review, tells us much that is new. His experience comes only to this,—that men suffering from two or three forms of mental disease, epilepsy being one, often develop the desire to kill, sometimes in an acute form. What we want to know rather, is whether blood-thirst, the passion of murder, ever visits the perfectly sane. Dr. Savage, however, records one case to us perfectly new, that of an Indian officer, besieged during the Mutiny, who agreed to kill his wife rather than let her be captured by sepoys. They were relieved, but the strain had overturned his mind, and his wife was never safe, though every one else was ; and after her death the husband recovered full mental health. Must there not have been some concealed hatred of the wife P—Mr.
H. H. Johnston, in his paper on East Africa, shows that the new province will produce all semi-tropical things, and that our new subjects will work fairly well, while the ferocious Masai are taking to earning money; but he lets a quaint humour get the better of him. Preserve the elephant if you will, though we fear the world will be the better of his absence ; but it is too much to ask us to protect the lion and the tiger for the sake of natural history. We doubt the assertion that in India death from tigers is a usual euphuism for murder. Death by snake-bite often is, but the marks of a tiger are too unmistakable.—Mr. Henry James's hostile review of the journal of the brothers De Goncourt is eminently readable ; but what in the world has happened to his style P We can pick out half-a-dozen sentences which are at first sight hardly intelligible. Here is one :-
" For persons interested in questions of literature, of art, of form, in the general question of the observation of life for an artistic purpose, the appeal and solicitation of Edmond and Jules de Goncourt were not simple and soothing; their manner, their temper, their elaborate effort and conscious system suggested a quick solution of the problems that seem to hum in our ears as we read, almost as little as their curious, uncomfortable style, with its multiplied touches and pictorial verbosity, evoked as a general thing an immediate vision of the objects to which it made such sacrifices of the synthetic and the rhythmic."
The National Review has nothing in it of special interest, unless it be an exhaustive analysis of the evidence taken before
the Commission on Sweating. The paper is remarkable for the earnestness, and even fury, with which the writer protests against the unfair attacks made by the witnesses against individual firms, attacks which were circulated for two months before those assailed were permitted to put in their crushing replies. The grievance was a very serious one, and though we do not believe it either expedient or possible to restrict the privilege of Parliament, we think some member of the Com- mission might have cross-examined. They do it when evidence is tendered which interests great parties.