THE December number of Blackwood's Magazine is exceedingly bright. "An Uncrowned King" is full of vigorous sketches, both of people and incidents ; and Lady Gregory's reminis- cences of "Eothen" and his contemporaries will interest all who remember Kinglake, or Chenery, or the events on which the former passed his caustic or kindly comments. Under which head shall we include his description of Mr. Gladstone as "a good man in the worst sense of the term," or one who was really conscientious, though his "conscientious motives were always like jackals, the lion's providers," or his summing-up of General Gordon as a "sagacious fanatic," or Lady Gregory's own judgment of Kinglake's style as that of a man "whose words crystallised into epigram as they touched the air." We rather wonder, by the way, what Mr. Chenery exactly meant when he said of a friend that "he could not think much of him since he found he had a habit of binding his Bradshaws." Did he see in the habit a sign of meanness, of the man who can let nothing that is his perish, or of one who could not distinguish one book from another? The trick, by the way, is commoner than Mr. Chenery knew. We have repeatedly known men who through life would bind the most trumpery magazine, or even newspaper, to the despair of wives who had to find room for that "litter in print."—The
paper on "The Peasant-Life of South Russia" is thin, but marked by keen and appreciative observation and many facts. One would hardly expect to find that a pre- duminant quality among the peasant women of South Russia is shyness : "The peasant women are very quiet and shy. I noticed that my friend always talked to them quite softly and gently at first, by which they gained confidence, and after- wards would with pleasing smiles and pretty little gestures carry on an animated conversation. And this shyness extends not only towards strangers and those of higher rank, but to all men, insomuch that during an evening, in the course of
which one saw many peasant dances, the women danced with the men on only one occasion (the melitza). They preferred to dance singly or in pairs, as did the men." That would have pleased Mr. Spurgeon, and may be not a result of shy-
ness, but a survival of Oriental feeling.
We cannot profess to admire or even to understand the "Ballad of the Dead Mother," by the authoress of "A Village
Tragedy," in the Fortnightly Review. There are all the words in it which are used to produce weird effects, but after reading
it twice we fail to have even a distant glimpse of its meaning. Indeed, but for the reputation of the writer, we should pro- nounce it a ghastly farrago of words.—The paper on "Lord Salisbury, from a French Point of View," by Augustin Filon, does not make either the Premier or the situation more clear to us ; and we doubt the suggestion that in Turkey Lord Salisbury,
from a feeling of amour-propre, is defending the Treaty of Berlin. This, however, is an acute bit of criticism :— "He owed his chance in 1877 above all to Lord Beaconsfield's confidence in him—a confidence which at first sight is scarcely less strange, especially when one thinks of how he had abandoned Lord Beaconsfield on the battle-field of the Reform Bill in 1867, and had quite recently thwarted him a propos of the Public Worship Regulation Bill. Nothing—not even the denial of both the parties interested, only one of whom could speak now, and he will certainly never speak—nothing, I say, will persuade me that up to 1878 Lord Salisbury did not feel a secret contempt for Lord Beaconsfield, and that on his side Lord Beaconsfield had not a secret tenderness for Lord Salisbury. Lord Salisbury could not accept without a struggle a policy consisting of a series of theatrical coups and compromises, devoid of either conviction or- principle. As for the man himself, he could only watch the cir- cumvolutions of that marvellous parvenu, an artist nature grafted on to a Semitic stock, with an amused and disdainful curiosity ; he could not let himself be hypnotised by the great hypnotist, like Lord Derby. But consider the value which Lord Beaconsfield would attach to the conquest of Lord Salisbury ! He was the most precious member of that aristocracy, which was the object of Lord Beaconsfield's life-long passion, and the hardest to subjugate, while both the difficulty and the pleasures of conquest were redoubled by the fact that in Lord Salisbury the mocking asperity of the philosopher was combined with the proud reserve of the grand seigneur. This is why his appearance in his Berlin apotheosis with Lord Salisbury as his supporter was not the least real of Lord Beaconsfield's triumphs."
Mr. G. H. D. Gossip's account of the relations between England and Venezuela is not pleasant reading, for it is difficult for him who reads not to foresee war in the end. It comes to this, that the United States insists that any question
of frontier raised against a European Power by an American Power shall be settled by arbitration, or they will apply the Monroe doctrine and declare war. Where is the justice of that, or how could a first-class Power, if really wronged, endure so lordly a pretension? If, as we understand Mr_ Gossip to affirm, the Monroe doctrine, as interpreted by the subsequent Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, binds Europe not to.
"occupy " any portion of Central or South American territory, it in effect permits all Powers in that vast region to insult or wrong any European Power without granting redress. Many cases might be suggested in which such redress could only be obtained by a temporary occupation of territory. Such a pretension is utterly untenable, unless the United States, assuming a Protectorate, binds itself to compel the protected. States to do justice to all the world.—In a very quiet and sensible paper, Mr. W. Rathbone suggests an explana- tion of the recent defeat of the Liberal party. He believes that it was due mainly to the selfishness of the factions which formed groups to advance their separate ideas, and so for the time destroyed government by party. The Welsh Liberals were especially responsible for the disaster :—
"Instead of realising and availing themselves of the strength of this position, and assisting the Government by showing their confidence in the precedence avowedly assigned to the Welsh measure of Disestablishment, they began to pass resolutions implying want of confidence, and threatening to take a disloyal course, if they did not receive all sorts of pledges, which the Government might find it impossible to carry out. They thus set an example, fatally followed by other groups, of a make- believe of disloyalty and threatened secession, to which I do not believe they ever intended to give effect ; indeed, the result proved that, except in the case of a very few extremists, they certainly did not. They, however, knocked the bottom out of the Liberal Party by this unwise course, for they justified the asser- tion of their opponents, which gradually came to be believed in the country, that the Liberal party had no cohesion, but were ready to split up as soon as the Government resisted the pressure of any extremists in their ranks. I am satisfied, on the con- trary, that, had the Government put their foot down at once against the dictation of groups, the groups would not have forced on defeat in the House, and their own annihilation in the con- stituencies, by insisting on taking, in every difficulty, the reins out of their leaders' hands. By careful preparation and deter- mined steering I believe the late Government could have carried most of their measures through the House."
There was only one exception to this possibility. No Ministry can carry a Liquor Bill without devoting a whole Session to it, and then the Bill must have been very carefully thought out. As to "Home-rule all round," Mr. Rathbone says "the Scotch are, and I trust the Welsh in future will be, too sensible to wish to dissolve partnership with the capitalist partner,"—a pregnant sentence.—" Corea and the
Siberian Railway" gives the reader some idea of Vladivostock, but it is much too snippety and disconnected to leave a definite impression. The following paragraph, however, gives a clear impression of the governing idea of the Russians in building their Trans-Siberian Railway :— "The Russians have been struck by the fact 'that the prosperity of Canada and its productive activity have grown, and continue to grow, with a rapidity which appears to us (Russians) miracu- lous, and by us inimitable, just from the date of the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans.' (I quote from an official report in Russian.) In 1889 they deputed two engineers to observe the Canadian line and its conditions and results. Attention in Russia was drawn to the facts that Canada, a country then of 4,000,000 people had, by its own resources, without any pecuniary help from outside, connected the two oceans by an iron road 4,500 versts (3,000 miles) long, over very difficult and expensive ground for building, in the short time of four years ; that the energetic population of Canada, 3,600,000 in 1871, and only increased to 4,300,000 in 1881, had leached 5,000,000 a year or two after the first through train passed Winnipeg in 1886; that the quantity of grain carried in Canada had increased from 303,571 tons in 1886 to 500,000 tons in 1888; that in places without population there had arisen seven new towns, such as Vancouver, founded only in 1886, and holding n,Ipoo inhabitants in 1891. It was made known to Russia that 'compared with thoso of the Canadian Railway, the technical conditions of the building of the Siberian Railway were incom- parably more favourable, and that the cost of tLe latter should not be even 65 per cent, of the cost of the Canadian Pacific."
There are a few sentences moreover which bring into strong relief the belief entertained by many whites in Corea and China, that commercially Japan would prove herself far more exclusive than Russia, and as a manufacturer a far more
dangerous rival.—To those who are interested in the con- troversy we would recommend Canon MacColl's answer to
Mr. Justice Ameer Ali. It is a model of writing of the old controversial type with its unhesitating exposures, its fear- lessness in statement, and, we fear we must add, in its savagery of denunciation. Luther would have admired it
very much ; but, though we admit the provocation, modern taste tends to prefer a rather gentler style of rejoinder. The Canon hits his opponent with a flail.
The Contemporary Review begins with a highly suggestive and most readable unsigned article on the future of the world in 1920, only a quarter of a century hence, and therefore
within the period which men of forty-five hope to see. The writer points out that by that year the English-speaking
peoples will number at their present rate of increase 180 millions, ruling 500 millions of dark subjects, and owning, exclusive of Polar regions, about one-third of the surface of the planet. The Slays will be nearly 200 mil- lions, owning a fourth of the earth's surface ; and the Chinese will be 500 millions. There will be no other great Powers, for the Germans, even if they attract the Austrian-
Germans, will be only 80 millions, and the French will be less than 40 millions, and there are no other equally energetic races. He thinks that the English-speaking races tend to a federation in which England, weakened by decline as a manufacturing State, will not possess the hegemony, and maintains that we ought at once to find means for a permanent alliance with Russia, which is the only other advancing white nation, and to foster the canal across Central America, which will prevent an injurious shifting of
the pivot of trade. It is a spirited paper, and provokes thought ; but we should like to ask the writer a question or
two. Why does he think that people of the same race must cling together even in federal unity P The experience of. the world is that unless threatened by some common and grave danger they tend to divide, as the Greeks did the moment they ceased to fear the Persians. Why does he think that numbers are so certain a source of power,—an assertion which does not square with the recorded facts of history ; and why does he assume that the amazing increase of the Saxon and Slav populations may not suddenly stop P The English were Anglo-Saxon before they began to multiply so fast; and the Jewish people, which is peculiarly healthy, and lives in all climates, has taken sixteen hundred years to double its numbers. It is, in truth, of very little use to prophesy ; but
this startling paper is for all that worth reading.—We do not know the name of Mr. Norman Hapgood—he is an American—but his criticism of Mr. Arthur Balfour, "as seen
from a distance," is subtle, and on points, we believe, accurate. He thinks him evidently one of the sincerest of men, who never professes convictions he does not feel, and lets you fully perceive his doubts. He praises his intellect while under- rating his style, and decides that his books are "original, lucid, subtle, and rather thin" :—
"It is in practical activity that his strength lies. His import- ance is neither in literature nor in philosophy, but in the fields from which his tastes seemed at one time furthest removed. He has the power of dealing with the complex facts, guided partly by general theories, partly by instinct ; a power more interesting in him than in most statesmen, because there are few successful men of action who understand the instincts on which they act as well as Mr. Balfour understands his. He puts into practical politics a subtler, broader, more complicated intelligence than is usually found there, a thorough scepticism combined with thorough earnestness. His beliefs and his doubts alike strengthen him in this branch of his activity, though they are not beliefs and doubts that form a great style or a great philosophy. He is an object of uncommon interest to many to-clay, not because he is remarkable as a writer, a philosopher, an aristocrat, or a dilettante, but because he has become strong in political action, with no loss of his less practical interests. It is a rather singular figure that rises out of his books—a character of much fineness and force, with general, broad fairness mixed with some strong prejudices, a mind without exuberant powers, though with rare keenness, interested always, and never excited. It is a mind of logic primarily, with little passion or sense of form. It is probably altogether a combination that exists seldom, if ever, outside of England, where the power of action has more often than else- where been combined with the temperament that looks out on the world as a panorama."
—Mr. Demetrius Boulger's paper on "The New Situation
in the Far East" rather burdens the imagination, for he wants us by degrees to conquer South-Western and Southern
China, leaving Northern China to Russia, with whom the Chinese themselves will co-operate. There is truth in Mr. Boulger's view, but he looks a little too far ahead, and rather
shocks people who like ourselves think that the British Empire is already overstrained.—Mr. Irandam contributes to this number one of his anecdotic papers on French affairs. He mentions that M Bourgeois' surprising offer of the Foreign Office to M. Berthelot was justified by precedent, for M. Ferry had made the same offer ; but be has not much to say in defence of the appointment, except that M. Berthelot is "a many-sided creature." He tells one story of him, however, which if correct does not say much for his judgment. He refused M. Ferry's offer, says Mr. Yandam, "because he did not agree with M. Ferry's views on the Tonquin expedition. History had taught him that it was in those regions that the Portuguese suffered the defeats which finally led to their decline as a colonising power." Portugal failed in the East simply from want of fighting strength,—precisely the want which M. Berthelot would not attribute to France. His real objection probably was that he saw little value in a dependency like Tonquin,—an opinion which, if he remains Foreign Secretary, it may be worth while to remember.—We wish Mr. Theodore Bent, acute observer and bright writer as he is, would adhere to the ordinary routine in his accounts of places, giving us the history first and the descriptions afterwards. We gather from him, however, that Muscat, on which he writes an essay, has fallen from its high importance as a place of trade, and that its owner, Imam Feysul, of the Saeed dynasty, which also holds Zalizibar, now rules only the city and about fifty miles inland; the rest of the once large and powerful State of Oman having escaped his hands. The harbour of Muscat is pretty and ranch alive, but the city is gloomy and poor, the principal residence being that of the British Political Agent, who is the real ruler. Muscat is fairly well-governed under British advice; but the British are disliked by the Arabs on account of their opposition to the Slave-trade. The inhabitants mostly belong to the Ibadhieh sect, which is considered heretical by the orthodox Mussulmans, and are far from strict in religious observances. The country around is rich where there is water, and sterile where there is none, though the soil still produces the grape which the Portuguese called the Muscatel, and carried to plant in their own land. The place is a good deal valued by the British Government, because without it their dominance in the Persian Gulf might be seriously threatened.
There is a rather striking article in the National Beview by Mr. Arthur Shadwell on the decline of drunkenness. He maintains that this vice has declined in the last sixty years more than in the previous six centuries, and produces evidence to justify his statement. In London the number of "drunks" was in 1833 and 1894 as follows :—
Cases of Prepertion of ropelatirn. drunkennew. CESEB to populaticn.
1833 1,550,000 38,440 1 to 40 1804 5,633,806 25,903 1 to 216 The number of drink-shops has fallen in nearly equal propor- tion, the total Lumber in 1876 being just one-third of what it was forty years before, and there having been a further re- duction since. The average number of their customers has also been reduced from 2,700 to 1,500. The scenes of furious debauchery in the streets, described in 1834 to a Committee of the House of Commons, have almost disappeared ; while the aharacter of the publicans has been greatly altered, and Ule number engaged in the trade has declined as follows :-
Publieen; per LOCO.
1831 13,897,187 57,664 41 1891 29,001,018 63,678 2.3 These are cheering facts, the only drawback to them being that years of prosperity—like 1876, for instance—are also years of debauch, showing that the taste for indulgence is rather restrained than eradicated, and that cheap liquor might again revive it.
Field-Marshal Sir Lintorn Simmons, who occupies the post of honour in the Nineteenth Century, evidently thinks that the Duke of Cambridge has received bard measure from public opinion. He points out that although the Duke has frequently opposed reforms, he has, when they have been ordered, always loyally accepted them ; and that if they have succeeded, which we do not understand Sir Lintorn to deny, they owe their suc- cess in part, at all events, to the Duke's temperate way of working them. There is truth in that, and also in the remark that the Duke managed to get along with nineteen successive Secretaries of State, most of them very ignorant of the Army. We shall probably not know the exact truth about the War Office until the memoirs of this reign are written ; but it is quite possible that the Duke lost in the opinion of the public owing to his Royal birth as he gained in the opinion of the profession. The history of the House of Hanover has given Englishmen a prejudice against Royal Dukes in office, which is often unfair.—Mr. Redmond does not believe in "Killing Home-rule by Kindness," but be is willing to accept kindness, and he makes the following noteworthy admission The statement that Home-rule is dead is an absurdity ; but the Irish people are sensible enough to see that, owing to the cowardice and stupidity of their leaders, the chance of imme- diate success has disappeared, and will not revive until some other Parnell appears to drill and organise the national forces and lead them back to sound lines of policy. Meantime they are quite willing to give the fairest possible field to Mr. Balfour's experiment." Is it not possible that Ireland may have to await another Mr. Parnell for another generation or two ? Mr. Red- mond, as he looks in the mirror, thinks other wise ; but we are all tempted to misread our own capacities.—Sir Lepel Griffin gives a bright sketch of Kashmir, with its Mahommedan working population and governing caste of sixty thousand Brahmins, and brings out very strongly the agricultural capa- bilities of the valley; but we doubt if he is wise in advising English capitalists to settle there. Sericulture might pay a few speculators, but we distrust both hop-growing and vini- culture. Who is to buy the hops ? And though the grapes are beautiful, experience seems to show that it takes a quarter of a century to develop grapes so that they will yield a wine suitable to the European palate. No doubt if a grower could make decent champagne, he would find a splendid market in India; but he might do better in either California or Sydney, and not feel so much an exile. For all that, this is a capital paper to read, and a pleasant one, though the writer is a great deal too merciful to Maharaja Runbeer Singh. He knew perfectly well that his people were being skinned alive.—No one of the three short papers on the Eastern question impresses us as nutritive, though Professor Geffcken's statement that the root of oppression in Turkey is the policy of farming out the taxes instead of collecting them direct by officials, as is now done in all Western countries, is suggestive. Even in India we dare not farm out taxes, and the practice was one cause of the economic ruin of France just before the Revolution. The Turkish fisc, however, will never be improved until it is in European hands, the Armenians making rather worse farmers-general than the Osmanli.— We have noticed elsewhere Mr. Morley's fine criticism on Matthew Arnold; and there is a lively paper on doctors by Dr. J. Burney Yeo. He seems to think there are a good many humbugs among doctors in this country, and he makes serious charges against those of France. It is remarkable if his view is true, a point about which we have no opinion to offer, that in France a doctor is constantly found to be the most popular of candidates for the Chamber. We thought the great charge against French doctors was callousness.—Mr. Frederic Harrison appears in an unusual character as a lecturer upon art—or is that our ignorance P- but all who admire Ruskin, and all who remember what was forty-five years ago, will read with pleasure the brilliant appreciation of the great art critic which Mr. Harrison has headed "Unto this Last." The following is a bit of clear light :—" The influence of Ruskin has been part of the great romantic, historical, catholic, and poetic revival of which Scott, Carlyle, Coleridge, Freeman, Newman, and Tennyson in our own country have been leading spirits within the last two generations in England. There is no need to compare him with any one of these as a source of original intellectual force. He owns Scott and Carlyle as his masters, and he might vehemently repudiate certain of the others altogether. His work has been to put this romantic, historical, and genuine sympathy inspired by Scott, Wordsworth, and Carlyle into a new understanding of the arts of form."