11 DECEMBER 1880, Page 20


THE Magazines, of course, are full of Ireland. The Nineteenth Century, for example, has no less than three papers, one by Mr. Justin McCarthy, clear in style and moderate in tone, but not

very original ; one by Lord Lifford, an old Peer, of high character as a landlord, which is a cry of despair, an announce- ment that he gives up a life-long effort, and accepts the "three F's," not as just or wise, but as the Irish people's demand; and a third, by Miss Charlotte O'Brien, which every one should read. It is a considerable contribution to the subject, needing only, though needing sorely, a few figures. Miss O'Brien's subject is "the poor man," the landless agriculturist who stays in Ireland as a labourer, and whom she thoroughly knows. She declares that the best labourers in Ireland emigrate, that the worst stay, marry, and live as they can—that is, in a corner of a hut, on the man's labour and the woman's begging around the country, a trade which, the people being Catholic, never quite fails. He can sink no lower, and has the strength which the man at the bottom of society always has, and he has awaked to the conviction that now is his time to act :—

" They fully realise that in the present settlement of the land question is their time,—it is now or never, with them. Their experi- ence of the farming classes leads them to expect in them harsher masters than in the landlords. They see that the upshot of the more complete hold of the farmers on the land will be that not unfrequently the landlords will leave Ireland, and with the landlords will go the beet wages, the best houses, and the most considerate employers. The labourers are not unwilling that the farmers should receive a better security than heretofore, but they dread them as masters. They have already been forced to feel in many places that the pre- sent agitation is more likely to injure than to help them, and they are inclined to Bay, 'Let us stand by the landlords.' Their notion is, that where the landlord is unable to recover rents or let land through the action of the Land League, he should hand the disputed lands to a kind of commune of labourers, and let them fight the Land League. They say, if the landlords did this, the Land League would be dead in six months. It has been done in one instance, with the result that the labourers openly defied the Land League when it tried to put back the evicted tenant. It is the old story of king and people versus the nobles, This card might now be played with success by the land- lords ; but if they cease to have power, then the labourers must deal with the farmers alone."

Miss O'Brien fully believes that if the great settlement does not provide for this class, there will at once be a social war of the worst kind,—a war with murder for its weapon. She beseeches the State, therefore, to " reserve " one acre in every twenty for the labourer, let it to him at a fair rent, and permit him to buy, when he will. He would buy, with help from American kinsfolk, and would cultivate and labour and save till he could buy more patches, and so gradually acquire the five acres which make an Irish cottier independent. He would then be content, whereas he is now a dangerous member of society. This is a noteworthy feature in the Irish land question too often forgotten, though we believe it has not escaped the Government, which will deal with the subject in dealing with waste lands. Miss O'Brien, however, should have given. a calculation as to the number of labourers who are

not tenants in posse, and her reason for believing that, once able to settle on the soil, they will not multiply like the flies, till famine comes again. She says herself that they must marry early, in order that they may be active men when the children come ; that they have "long families," running up sometimes to fourteen; and that they dread emigration, holding Ireland, which to the rest of the world seems so unhappy a place, to be the one place to live in. "I'd rather be a lamp-

post in Ireland than President in Canada," writes one home- sick emigrant. This is the most instructive paper in the num- ber, though there is material for much thought in Mr. Plimsoll's strange, wandering, superstitions, and yet suggestive paper, on "Explosions in Collieries,"—a paper interesting as a study of him, as well as of his subject. He is always the same, as simple as a child, as philanthropic as a Sister of Mercy, and yet with a singular keenness of observation. He calls on the chemists to invent a plan for showing the descent of fire-damp into a mine, and on owners to make in every colliery a "sump "—the local term for a hole for waste water—in the roof. The gas would rise into that, and thence ascend by a pipe into the open air. He fancies this could be done without ruinous expense, and the suggestion is worth considering, though we are not going to endorse either his use of texts, or his strange opinion that there must be a way of getting rid of the damp, because if not, God

is " responsible " for miners' deaths. Does Mr. Plimsoll know of a cure for earthquakes P Earl Grey's article on "South Africa" suggests the policy of forming a Sepoy army

for the defence of South Africa, paying for it out of the Customs duties, which should be levied at all the ports by her Majesty's Treasury, the surplus being divided among the Colonies rateably. The remaining charge of defence must fall, for the most part, upon the Queen's Government. Bat will the

Colonies consent to a standing army of natives who might mutiny ? Mr. Raikes's suggestion for the prevention of Obstruction does not strike us as peculiarly happy, but this is new and important. The American House, it appears, has now adopted a plan for expediting discussion in Committee :— "The plan which is stated to have been tried at Washington is one by which the House fixes by anticipation the day on which the Com- mittee is to report a Bill that has been referred to them. This arrangement, providing, let us say, for example, a space not exceed- ing four days for the consideration in Committee of the details of a particular measure of some importance, renders it necessary, when a certain 'measurable distance' only intervenes before the appointed end of the discussion, that the Chairman should put the remaining Clauses and the amendments to them, of which notice has been given, without debate, so that the judgment of the Committee may be pronounced before the space allotted for its labours has terminated. Few will be found to regard such procedure as perfectly satisfac- tory; but happily, the mere fact that it was possible would greatly tend to obviate the occurrence of circumstances calling it into play. Those whose one object is the obstruction of public business, and who protract indefinitely a particular discussion, not with the view of amending a particular Bill, but with the intention to bring about a Parliamentary deadlock, would have no object in useless prolonga- tion of debates not intrinsically interesting to them, when the real end of their prolixity was not to be compassed."

This is very near the cloture, and not, that we can see, superior to it in any way.

The Fortnightly Review, with the exception of Mr. Herbert Spencer's essay on political organisation, the drift of which is

that, as organisation becomes more complex, it tends to harden and becomes conservative of itself, is rather deficient in strictly original matter. Even those, however, who disagree with him

will read with pleasure the Rector of Lincoln's lecture on "Industrial Shortcomings," which, in his judgment, may be summed up thus :—We have abandoned the system of indoor apprenticeship, and have not found a substitute for it. He evidently doubts whether the "technical school" will supply one, saying the demand for technical education has come from the masters, and not the men. He has, however, no alternative suggestion, and, we conceive, rather despairs of the British workman until he becomes more cultivated, asking this quaint question :—" What pleasure can a man take in watching the everlasting performance of a single operation by the engine which he is tending ? What must be the aspect of the soul of a man who for forty years has clone nothing but watch the moment when silver has reached the degree of fusion which precedes vaporisation, who is blind to all else, but receives a fat salary for being able to see that one object ?" The man thinks, we imagine, sometimes, while he is waiting. Weaving was monotonous, and so is cobbling ; but loom and last have both given us inventors, preachers, and scholars. Mr. Brodrick's paper on "The Two Houses of Parliament" has excited some attention, and deserves reading, but it does not interest us much. We do not believe that important business will be sent first to the Lords, and do not see that, as regards business, there is much friction between the Houses. They work well enough when they choose, the real question being whether a House of Peers will consent, on questions of caste interest, to submit to a Democratic House of Commons, or will bring on a struggle.

The Contemporary is the best magazine this month. We noticed the Duke of Argyll's paper last week, and there are at least four more of the most readable, if not of the first-rate kind. Nothing can be better than "Village Life in New Eng- land," by "A Non-resident American," with its account of a Massachusetts township, all roads and wooden houses, with its population of 5,000, no rich —that is, no one with £20,000, and few with £5,000—and only fifty-nine poor; without a liquor-shop or a beer-garden, but with 500 newspapers arriving every morn- ing, a town library of 3,000 volumes supported by a tax on dogs, and six schools, with eleven teachers, costing £1,000. Society is changing, and changing for the worse, but the dominant tone of the village is still the old Puritan one, and most of the people own their own houses, which conduces to independence. The writer, however, should have explained a little how the people live. They are all in- dustrious in some way—he mentions that—but agriculture, the old basis of prosperity, seems dead, for the farms around are abandoned, you can buy one for less than the price of its build- ings, many of the farmers have moved their houses bodily into the village, and the forest-land has increased on the arable by 25 per cent. The poor soil of New England cannot compete with the West in growing corn, and unless it can be used for fruit or vegetables, it is gradually abandoned. The paper, though far too short and thin, is most pleasant to read, and wakes, as we fancy the place described must wake, a certain sense of calm. Dr. Knighton gives us a sketchy and indecisive, but interesting account of Young Bengal, "the Athenians of India," who are cultivated, but believe in dream-lore ; liberal, but given to drink ; ready to follow religions teachers, but prone to make of the educated a caste as intolerant as ever Brahmins were. Lady Verney's "Autumn Ramble" in Bavaria is delightful reading, though she has rather a notion that she is exploring an unknown region, and though we should not take her opinion on the comparative prosperity of labourers and peasants. Does Lady Verney think independence worthless, or why does she omit that factor in the calculation ? She should try twelve hours' work a day for somebody else's benefit. Professor Bouamy Price gives us, in the raciest of English and with his heart evidently in his work, all the old arguments in favour of the House of Lords, which he considers a bulwark against the sudden and fitful action of the democracy. He defends the hereditary principle, as the cause of the strength of the Lords, and as in- vesting the resisting House with the impersonality of a caste. "Elected Peers," he says, would be paralysed by individual criticism, about which a caste does not care. That is a good argument, and a new one, and though we do not agree with the drift of the essay, holding that the Lords act rather as the dam in the stream, which tarns it into a danger- ous flood, we can recommend Mr. Price's paper to any Conservative in want of an argument or two. The insti- tution is safe enough, not on account of argument, but because every Englishman hopes to be a. Peer, and be labelled out from his fellows ; but still its defenders like to think they think, and this essay will help them. "Nihilism in Russia" is dull ; and Mr. T. P. O'Connor's defence of the Land League, though it ought, to be carefully read, as showing what can be said on that side, ignores facts a little too contemptuously. Whatever the achievements of the Land League, and it has certainly com- pelled the English people to study the land question as it

never was studied before, it is rather too much to say its objects have been accomplished by "a practically peaceful revo- lution, and by constitutional agitation." It is an Irish kind of peace, when it takes cavalry to " carry " Captain Boycott's turnips, and the constitutionalness of the agitation must be settled before the Courts. The evidence that this particular uprising is mild compared with previous uprisings is, however, complete. Sir Rutherford Alcock endorses Colonel Gordon's opinion as to the immense force of China, if it is wisely directed, and if the Government moves the capital from Pekiu, which is too near the sea, back to Nankin, the true centre of the national life. Sir Rutherford's grand dread is lest Russia should obtain such a footing in Pekin that she should dominate the Court and obtain control of the Army. Then,—

" If it were a question of our enmity or that of China, there is hardly a tribe or State east of the Caspian that would not rather pro- voke our hostility than that of a Power which has permanently domi- nated, with an unbroken tradition of a thousand years, and which, when once set in motion, advances like an all-consuming prairie fire or tidal wave, swallowing up all in its path. They may take months or years, but still they come ; and a Chinese army once on foot in- evitably reaches the farthest limit in the end, and sweeps away- dynasties and populations, utterly destroying and exterminating alk living in its course, and then filling up the places of the dead with new swarms of their own irrepressible numbers ! If Russia at Pekin could inherit such traditions and prestige as this, she might swallow up all the rest of Asia north of the Indian frontier, for there is no Power great or small of native race that would stand up against the perennial flow and devastating march of the armies of China. What has been rightly styled their terribly persistency and endless numbers,' numerous as the sands, and pitiless as the sea, which leaves nothing alive where it passes, is indelibly written on the tablets of the Asiatic mind, since the days of Ghenghis Khan and his no lees ruthless descendants and joint-heirs in the Chinese Empire."

Mrs. Oliphant, in the Cornhill, concludes her very depress-

ing story of "My Faithful Johnny," with some curious reflec- tions about the inutility of self-sacrifice ; and a writer—surely Mr. James—gives us a story, "Mrs. Van Steen," which would

make an excellent comedy, Mrs. Van Steen herself being just such a hint for a new character as Robertson would have loved to seize. The "padding," however, is a little dull, as it is apt to be in the Corn lull, when the subject is not literary.