THE Fortitightly Review is unusually political, and a little dull. Mr. F. Harrison sends a paper on George Eliot, the effect of which, though probably not the intention, is depreciatory, the leading thought being that her philosophy over-weighted her art, without itself rising to the highest level ; and Mr. Schutz Wilson has a criticism on " Tasso ;" but most of the essays are upon " Land," the " Empire," and India. Mr. C. A. Fyffe repeats his now well-known views upon tenure, fighting strenuously for the " three F's,"—fixity of tenure, fair rent, and free sale,—though he carefully limits fixity as fixity only against capricious eviction. He denies the extent of landlords' improvements as compared with the rental they receive, and is sceptical as to the possibility of a registration so complete as to make land as saleable as Consols. His argument as to fixity and fair rent is sound, if contract is to be abolished ; but he assumes that this is likely with too much readiness, and as regards improvements, he seems to us unfair. He assumes that the landlord is only entitled to interest on his money. Why ? The improvement may be one which has cheaply doubled the letting-value, the landlord having expended brains as well as money. Why should he not be paid for them ? This really might happen in the case of a wise scheme of drainage, and still more readily in the case of an overdrained farm, when an improvement—stopping the drains—might cost a few shillings and double the crop. The real question, however, when once the land is enfranchised, is the wisdom of interfering with free contract. Lord Stanley of Alderley, who criticises Mr. Fyffe very freely, is apparently anxious to keep-up the present system as it stands, even contending for entail and settlement, a subject hardly worth discussing. The country has agreed to their abolition, and so practically does Lord Stanley ; for he praises the Acts, like Lord Cairns's, which increase the power of selling settled land, and are nothing but steps towards the abolition of settlement. He is entirely against small holdings, on the ground that the actual cultivator cannot do the selling part of the business so well ; but that objection is not found serious in other countries, where the peasant is found to be
both a thrifty and a clever bargainer. Mr. J. A. Farrer and Mr. Arthur Mills contribute two valuable papers upon Imperial Federation, to which both of them are strongly opposed. Mr Farrer doubts altogether whether the Colonies are worth the immense expenditure which their complete defence would entail, and argues that friendship is a better tie than any political link ; while Mr. Mills disbelieves in the willingness of the great Colonies to surrender any of their privileges, pointing out that, even if they are represented in Parliament, such representation will overbear local freedom.
He does not believe that the Colonies will help us to fight dangers arising from a policy over which they have no control, and maintains that they are better protected now by the Mother country, which charges them nothing, than they would be by a Federation, which must charge them much. Mr. Wilfrid Blunt concludes his papers on India by a general scheme which is briefly an imperfect application of Mr. Bright's plan of splitting India into separate colonies. Mr. Blunt also would make of India a series of Ceylons, with elected Councils, but would still have an Imperial Army and a Viceroy, who, within the limits of his authority, should be even stronger than at present. The scheme is one which ultimately will have to be thought-out ; but we confess we think, with Mr. Bright, if so radical a change is ever to be made, the central power had better be in London, and form part of the Government of the whole Empire. Independence without complete responsibility is only mischievous ; and the necessity of convincing first the Indian Government, and then the Government at home, takes much of the energy of a Provincial Governor out of him. It will be long, however, before the scheme is tried. Mr. Escott shows his impartiality by publishing Sir Lepel Griffin's attack upon Mr. Blunt in the same number ; but we do not see why the latter should be called "an Indian Thersites." W by " Thersites ?" Mr. Blunt is certainly no reviler, and not servile ; and, indeed, about India, has been unusually moderate and reasonable. We cannot agree with his opinions, but they are not half so distant from those of his opponents as the ideas of partisans usually are. Irishmen, for example, are twice as wide apart ; yet they, till lately, could discuss without calling each other names.
Sir Lepel Griffin writes ably, but he is too bitter, and fires-off tremendous paradoxes, such as that light taxation de moralises Indian peasants, without sufficient explanation. There is a meaning in what he says, as the curious case of Pegu fully showed ; but to ordinary English readers, his blunt statement reads like oppressive nonsense. The following is really curious : —" So far from the few civilians of humble origin being less popular with the natives, as Mr. Blunt pretends, my experience as Chief Secretary to a Government having necessary and intimate knowledge of the character and reputation of every civilian in the province, is to an exactly contrary effect. They were among the most zealous and devoted workers ; and, as might be imagined, exceedingly liked by the people, with whom they were in full sympathy." It is certain that the lowly-born civilians rise fast in India, and the reason is probably the one Sir L. Griffin assigns—superior devotion to work. We rather doubt if the native perceives much difference, he judging his rulers by other things than manners, even if any great difference of manners now exists. The Fortnightly publishes the usual paper on Home and Foreign Affairs, which contains among other things a statement of great importance at this moment :—
" A consideration of the military position of the Russian and Indian Governments will at once show that England is at any-rate better prepared for the initial' stages of an Asian struggle. At the present moment the Anglo-Indian forces in the Quetta district, including the Zhob Valley column, number at least 20,000 effective men with thirty-two guns, behind whom there are the 6,000 men of the Scinde garrison, and the possibility of hurrying up men from Kurrachee. It is very unlikely that the troops at General Komaroffs disposal are numerically stronger than the Quetta divisions. Moreover, though Askabad is nearly 140 miles nearer Herat than Quetta, it has no railway communication with the distant Caspian, while the Quetta railway is nearly finished, and will unite with the Indus lines."
Yes, but how many of our corps d'arm& are white men ?
Sir Richard Temple, in the Contemporary, argues strongly that Indian opinion will expect us to defeat the Mandi, and punish those who betrayed us at Khartoum. We agree more or less ; but Government had better think of general principles than paralyse itself by trying to attend to English opinion, and foreign opinion, and Indian opinion, all of which are radically different. Mr. Goldwin Smith discusses the " Organisation of Democracy with his usual vivacity, but with, we think, an unconscious bias from his American experiences. He would, to begin with, have a written Constitution, and an Executive Council formally elected by the Legislature, for a term, say, of two years, while the Legislature itself should be elected indirectly by local Councils. That is not a bad plan of Government, in the abstract ; but as a contribution to English politics, it is entirely useless. The English people is utterly unprepared even for a written Constitution, while an irremovable Executive would seem to it a mere oppression. There are plenty of faults in Parliamentary government, but it is easier to correct them than to abolish its vital principle, and with it every political idea which the English have acquired from their long history. If party really dies away, and if men become incapable of acting together, and if Administrations are inces santly changed, it may be necessary to devise a different machinery of Government ; but none of these things have happened yet, and Governments are, if anything, only too stable. They can, if they have a majority, last always for six years, which is longer than the Presidential period. Mrs. or Miss "Blanche Leppington," a name unknown to us, sends a most pleasant paper on " Arniel's Journal," which seems to have a strong attraction for all refined and thoughtful women, more, perhaps, than it has for men, who resent a certain want of incisiveness. This, however, is a very profound and true critiism :—
" Aug. 15, 1871.—Read for the second time Renan's 'Life of desne,' 16th popular edition. The characteristic thing in this analysis of Christianity is that sin does not appear in it at all. Now if there is anything which explains the success of the Good News among men, it is that it offered deliverance from sin—salvation. It certainly would have been more appropriate to explain a religion religiously,
and not to evade the very centre of the subject.. This Christ in white marble' is not He who made the strength of the martyrs.
The author is wanting in moral seriousness, and confounds mere nobility of character with sanctity. He approaches a pathetic subject with artistic sympathy ; but his conscience does not appear
to be interested in the question There is a vestige of seminarist subtlety in Renan ; he strangles with consecrated cord."
The fault of Arnie], so far as we can judge him from these extracts, is a tendency to confuse meditation on himself with meditation on man. It is very marked in this passage :—
" It seems to me that, with the decline of my active powers, I am becoming more and more pure spirit ; everything grows transparent
to me : I see the type, the essence, the meaning All personal experiences are so many pretexts for meditation, so many facts to generalize, so many realities to reduce to ideas. Life is a document
to interpret The thinker is perpetually depersonalising himself; if he consents to experience or to act, it is in order to understand ; if he wills, it is in order to know Will. Sweet as it is to him to be loved—nothing else so sweet—he seems to himself, even here, to be rather the occasion than the object of the phenomenon. He contemplates the spectacle of love, and it remains to him a spectacle. His very body hardly seems to him his own ; the vital whirl that goes on within him seems lent him for the moment, in. order that he may be sensible of the cosmic vibrations To my consciousness, time does not exist ; all the partitions which make life a palace of many chambers fall away ; I am reduced to the primitive uni-cellular
condition I feel my faculties themselves reabsorbed into the substance they individualised."
That, fine as it is, is too completely an individual experience. Mr. Clark Russell's paper on the "Shipping Commission Viewed from the Forecastle," should be read by all who wish to understand what the sailors' grievances really are. His idea is that the sailor is still grievously oppressed by the law, especially in the means used to force him on board when he has discovered that the ship is not safe, or that for any other reason be would be unhappy on board. He is offered an alternative of going on board or submitting to six weeks' imprisonment, a practice not employed against any other kind of labourer. Mr. Russell is supported by Mr. Chamberlain in this statement ; but is it strictly true ? It is true in words, no doubt ; but we take it seamen are understood when they have once entered to be under discipline as well as under engagements, and force would be equally employed against a soldier or sailor in the Queen's service. The law seems cruel, and is occasionally most cruelly worked ; but in its absence a merchantman might be left stranded in any distant port, all the sailors taking service with other ships. Perfect liberty to depart is as inconsistent with the safety of a mercantile marine, as perfect liberty to strike. Mr. Russell who pleads for the sailor with his well-known pictorial force, alleges that good treatment will always keep sailors ; but he, no doubt, remembers when entire fleets lay in Australian ports unable to move, the crews having all gone off gold-hunting. We do not see much of interest in the account of the " Native Faiths in the Hima laya," except the statement that the Brahmans are gradually converting the hillmen, and the evidence that the latter have a notion of a true God, to whom they set-up no image, but who, they say, sees everything, and, unlike subordinate deities, is always beneficent. The usual offerings too this supreme God are the fruits of the earth, but sometimes a goat is sacrificed.
The Nineteenth Century is also a little dull. Mr. Forster continues his papers on Imperial Federation, but the present one seems to us to tell directly against his proposals. He praises warmly the offers made by the Australian Colonies to send troops to the Soudan, and the efforts of the Cape Colonists to assist Sir. C. Warren in Bechuanaland. " We have thus," he says, "the most encouraging evidence that these Colonies have no wish for separation." That is true; but if the present system—or the unwritten law of Federation, as Lord Bury calls it—produces so mach loyalty, surely it must be a satisfactory one. No law could be stronger in theory ; and if it works well, why can we not let it alone ? That seems to us a stronger argument than all those which Lord Bury so patiently marshals, and which are mainly valuable because he had once arrived at Mr. Forster's conclusions. He now thinks that the Imperial union exists, that it is as firm as it can be made, and that any attempt to tamper with it would only end in weakening it. We agree with him, with the exception that we would give the Agents-General a distinctly higher position as Envoys from the Colonies, as well as Agents for their business affairs. Lord Bury maintains that his is the general view of Colonists ; and adds that, as yet, every scheme involving more government from the centre has ended in independence. Sir E. Hamley, in his " Volunteers in Time of Need," really discusses a plan of defending England, and especially London, in case of an invasion, and must be left to the criticism of soldiers, the ordinary reader only remarking that Sir Edward's judgment is, on the whole, exceedingly favourable to the Volunteers, though they still lack all the apparatus which would be needful in time of war, and have never seen the plan of defence which is being slowly but carefully elaborated. Lord Napier and Ettrick defends the conclusions of the Crofters' Commission of which he was chairman, and which were in substance that the crofters should have a legal claim against the landlord for the concession of a common pasture, which must belong to the whole township. He maintains that the demands of the township on the landlord would never be larger or more oppressive than those of large tenant-farmers now are, and that in return there would not be the same necessity for remissions. He is opposed to fixity of tenure, but would grant each township an improving lease of thirty-one years. The influence of his Indian experience has evidently been great with Lord Napier, and his plan, though benevolent, would tend greatly to stereotype the crofter position. Prince Kropotkin sends an interesting sketch of the present condition .of Finland, which he maintains is still as anti-Russian as ever, though the nobles are loyal and the 70,000 soldiers contributed by the State are unusually efficient. He adds that the Swedish party grows feebler, and that the Finns now hope one day to form a State by themselves, with its own aspirations, own language, and own organisation. He affirms that both Russians and Germans in Finland become rapidly Finnicised, and that the patriotism of the people, as is usual in poor and feeble countries, is of the most intense kind. He produces strong evidence of the rapid progress of Finland in material resources, and especially in the development of a commercial marine, which in 1880 included 1,857 ships, with an aggregate of 288,000 tons. A considerable part of all Russian commerce is, in fact, conducted under the Finnish flag. The credit of the State, too, is excellent, Finland raising money at 41 per cent., while Russia pays more than 6 per cent. and Sweden 4 per cent. Mr. Balmer sends a carious proposal, or rather speculation, about " Whispering Machines." As we have got the phonograph, be does not see why we should not have books read out to us by machinery, and so get rid of eye-disease and perhaps of the necessity for spelling. As the phonograph can only utter its report once, the process would be rather costly, and the majority of men would rather run any moderate risk of myopia, which it has long since been shown does not come from over-straining of the eyes—watchmakers never suffering from it—than be talked to death. We suppose the editor of the Nineteenth Century was attracted by the whimsicalness of the paper, but it is a little below the standard of the magazine. Lord Acton sends a noteworthy essay on
George Eliot, much too full of an erudition so vast, that it sometimes overweights the essayist's critical faculty, but with Any suggestive passages. This is one. Lord Acton thinks that part of the lofty tone of George Eliot's novels about marriage was due
to the peculiarities of her personal position. She had translated Fenerbach and Strauss, and edited the Westminster• Review :— "Fenerbaeh thought it affectation to turn away from immodest scenes, and asserted that enjoyment is a duty. Strauss sneered at the text which laid down the law of Christian chastity. The Westminster Review praised a wife who had procured a mistress for her husband. Rousseau thought Sophie all the better for her sin. With these writers George Eliot had been associated. Her admiration for Rousseau, for Shelley, for Jacques, tho most ignominious of George Sand's stories, her description of the indissolubility of marriage as a diabolical law, indicate that her opinions did not always keep the elevated level of her early religion and her later philosophy."
It is most probable that with the disappearance of her faith, George Eliot's intellectual respect for morality as an absolute law declined ; but that she recovered it by a process of thought.
Neither Blackwood nor Macmillan has anything striking this month ; but the former has no less than fo ur political articles, all directed against Liberalism, and so rapidly do events march that the Review of the Month in Macmillan already sounds a little passee. We note, however, with interest, a statement that in Russia discontent is rising to a great height, that there are whispers of Palace conspiracies, and that the Court may seek in external action relief from an intolerable internal situation. The Czar, the Editor hints, is considered in Russia a " nullity," the one character which it is not safe for the Russian Czar to bear.