3 APRIL 1880, Page 22


PERHAPS the best, certainly the most interesting, paper in the Magazines of this month is one signed "Golden Horn," and called " Backsheesh," in Macmillan, describing the writer's experience of an effort to obtain a " concession " at Constanti- nople. He succeeded, he is not embittered, and he has no par- ticular scruples, or rather he has a theory that it is as fair to bribe Turks into doing good to their country as to bribe children to take jalap ; but his clear, easy narrative will probably do the Turkish Government more harm than a dozen speeches in denunciation. He found it necessary to bribe every person in the Departments he approached, from the deaf mutes who watched the ante-rooms and the lieutenants who guarded them, up to the Grand Vizier himself. He paid a go- between, a Greek ; he paid the clerks ; he paid the Minister; he paid the Council of State ; he paid the Armenians, who had bought up the Opposition in the Council of State ; he paid the Sultan's favourite ; he paid everybody, except one fanatic old Moslem, who for a moment superseded the pliant Minister, and who was inaccessible to bribery, though rather than miss a chance of the Grand Vizierate he allowed himself to be persuaded by a bribed favourite. The negotia- tions, narrated with admirable good-humour, occupied eight months, after which "Golden Horn," having spent 220,000, ob- tained the concession, which, after all, did not turn out very profitable. He evidently thinks his story evidence that the Government of Turkey is hopeless, and so it is ; but we rather suspect that if he tried to obtain a large con- tract in any country except France and Germany, he would see reason to question whether his experience was quite exceptional. Besides his fanatic Moslem, one other man behaved well, and this was the bribed Minister. In one of the incessant changes in Turkey he was turned out of ofRce, after taking 22,000—actually left on his sofa in gold—but in- trigued himself back again, and was so entirely " honourable " that he remembered his bribe ; and on receiving a promise of 25,000 more when the concession should be signed, he fought for it like a man. The story should be carefully read by every one who wishes to understand the Government which we have guar- anteed in its Asiatic posssesions, and which Lord Beaconsfield professes to expect to reform. There is also in Macmillan a very charming little sketch of the late Professor Sedgwick, by the Bishop of Carlisle, which leaves on our mind one strong doubt. The Professor was one of those men who make a deep impression upon all with whom they come in contact, a man of bright and keen intellect, a natural orator, and full of a sense of duty, who did a great deal of miscella- neous work, but was he not mentally a little indolent ? We do not otherwise understand how he left so little for posterity, or why he remained "stationary," as he said, in mathematics, or why his lectures on his special subject, geology, added so little to positive knowledge. There must have been, in spite of his high powers, a certain carelessness in his mind, or this very curious story could never have been recorded of him :—

"He used to tell a story concerning one of his lectures, which was amusing as he told it, and will perhaps bear reproduction. He was lecturing upon a fossil elephant, and observed, much to his surprise and vexation, that his class constantly lost their gravity ; whenever he referred to his elephant, the whole class smiled and tittered ; it looked like intentional disrespect, the existence of which he could, however, scarcely believe ; so he continued his lecture to the conclusion, and then said to a friend, What could possess my class to-day ? They did nothing but laugh." Don't you know?' was the reply ; whenever you referred to the fossil elephant, you invariably called it a whale.' The professor confessed that the reiteration of this whale,' of which, however, he was totally unconscious, even when the secret was revealed to him, was too much for the gravity of the most sober class."

There are curious facts in Mr. A. Wilson's account of the City Parochial Charities, and his statement that if half the total sum now wasted-2100,000 a year—could be diverted to educa- tion, it would supersede the necessity of a rate within the City,. is a striking one, though we should not ourselves advocate exactly that disposition of the money. Endowments should be used to secure better education, not that primary instruction which the living ratepayers and the parents ought to pay for.

The number of the Fortnighdly is by no means a good one. It contains the very excellent paper on Austria in the Balkans,. by Mr. Arthur Evans, which we condensed last week, and which should be attentively read by every one interested in politics ; and an admirable account, by Mr. Giffen, of Mr. Bagehot's position as an economist,—a paper unusually readable, as well as thoughtful ; but the remainder of the articles are, to speak frankly, dull. Mr. Pater spoils for us the value of his criticism on "The Marbles of Agina," by falling into a style which we can only describe as thoughtful affectation. Sentences of this kind, we suppose, please somebody, but to us they are almost meaningless :—

"It is this centifrugal tendency which Plato is desirous to cure, by maintaining over against it, the Dorian influence of a severe simplifi- cation everywhere, in society, in culture, in the very physical nature of man. An enemy everywhere to variegation, to what is cunning or myriad-minded,' he sets himself, in mythology, in music, in poetry, in every kind of art, to enforce the ideal of a sort of Parmenidean abstractness and calm. This exaggerattd ideal of Plato's is, how- ever, only the exaggeration of that salutary European tendency,, which, finding human mind the most absolutely real and precious thing in the world, enforces everywhere the impress of its sanity, its profound reflections upon things as they really are, its sense of pro- portion. It is the centripetal tendency, which links individuals to each other, states to states, one period of organic growth to another, under the reign of a composed, rational, self-conscious order, in the universal light of the understanding."

Mr. Standish O'Grady's paper on the Irish peasant deserves reading for its originality, but he will fail entirely to convince his readers. His belief is that the Irish peasant is ruined by his easy-going ways, and that what he needs is, not more security, but harsher landlords, who will extort the full rack-rent, and so compel him to be more penurious and industrious. Low rents, Mr. O'Grady says, invariably demoralise Irishmen. The answer to that is, that an Irishman is a human being, and that in all human beings the sense of property developes industry. Mr. O'Grady might as well argue that the peasantry would. work harder, if their whole produce above a bare maintenance were taken from them. That there is a point up to which the necessity of paying rent and taxes acts as whip, we admit ;

but all experience shows that there is also a point at which exactions kill hope, and therefore industry. We do not

know if Mr. O'Grady means this following sentence to be an argument against peasant proprietorship, but it will certainly not be accepted as such in England :—" The type of character which peasant proprietorship will produce is the very reverse of Irish. It will be cold, prudent, far-seeing, awake to every chance of gain ; it will be hard-hearted, and above all things exceedingly laborious. Without these qualities—and more than these, a genius or peculiar aptitude for agriculture—existence will be impossible for the Irish farmer, a stern eradication of every other type of character will take place, and the typical Irish peasant of the present day will become a historical curiosity." The prophecy is, we believe, correct; but English- men pardon the faults and vices of that type of character much sooner than those of the existing Irish tenant.

In the Nineteenth Century, under the heading, "The Docility of an Imperial' Parliament," Mr. Lowe con- tributes his speech to the electoral campaign ; but we do not know that there is anything very original in it, and he makes a little too much of Lord Beaconsfield's "tawdry rhetoric." Lord Beaconsfield uses tawdriness for his own pur- poses, but he can be simple to nakedness when it pleases him, and the style of his manifesto deserves condemnation rather as a trick than as an affectation. There is much more thought in Mr. F. Seebohm's paper on "Imperialism and Socialism," in which the essayist endeavours with great skill to prove that true Democracy, which, as he thinks, has its root in Christian teaching, is utterly opposed to Imperialism, which, again, always tends to produce, as its shadow, Socialism. He main- tains that,—

"The real effective power of modern democracy had its well-head in a soul whose humility instinctively claimed brotherhood with the poor and the heavily burdened, whose refinement of feeling and tenderness for human nature surpassed that even of modern woman- hood. It was no mere sentimental feeling, but a deep and lasting power, able, as a matter of fact in history, to enforce itself on others, and thus, by sowing a seed in the human heart the growth of which not even empires could stop, to turn the civilisation of the leading races of the next 2,000 years into a new channel. It is not in the history of dogmas, or in the history of rival Churches with their rival theologies, but in the history of the Christian spirit, that the secret will be found of the reason why modern civilisation is called Christian, or why Christian civilisation is identified with the true development of modern democracy. At this very moment, when the hold of rival theologies on men's minds is most loosened, the Christian spirit is achieving its highest political victory."

Many readers will condemn that as a sentimental sermon, but it is literally true, even if we do not believe Christianity to be divine ; as is also Mr. Seebohm's assertion that this Christian democracy is subordinated under the present Government to a democracy of a Pagan type, which, unless we adopt a Conscrip- tion, must be as unreal as it is bad. Students of politics should read Mr. Seebohm's paper, and they will, we think, regret, with us, that he should not have entered the House of Commons at this election. Lieutenant-General Sir John Adye, in an article .on the "Native Armies of India," contends for the true prin. ciple,—the utilisation instead of the suppression of the Native officer, with all his accustomed force and knowledge of his sub- ject; but he is far too brief, and he does not face the question which, after all, must soon be settled,—whether a native should ever command a regiment. We believe he would hold, with us, that certain regiments should be left exclusively to native officers, but he does not say so, and without a decision upon this point, opinion in this country can never be formed. The right of the • native to rise to the top follows directly from the principle underlying these sentences of Sir Thomas Munro, which General Adye quotes with admiration :—

" It is from men who either hold, or are eligible to public office, that natives take their character ; where no such men exist, there can be no energy in any other class of the community. The effect of this state of things is observable in all the British provinces, whose inhabitants are certainly the most abject race in India. No eleva- tion of character can be expected among men who, in the military sine, cannot attain to any rank above that of a subadar, where they are as mach below an ensign as an ensign is below the commander-in- chief, and who in the civil line can hope for nothing beyond some petty judicial or revenue office, in which they may by corrupt means make up for their slender salary. The consequence, therefore, of the 'conquest of India by the British arms would be, in place of raising, to debase the whole people. There is, perhaps, no example of any conquest in whioh the natives have been so completely excluded from all share of the government of their country as in British India."

Mr. Grant Duff repeats once more his view of England's true policy in Turkey, which is, briefly, either to assist in establish- ing a Christian Sultan, or to make of Constantinople a free city under the protection of all Europe. And there are tNN o charming papers for the general reader—one by Dr. W. B.

Carpenter, on the "Deep Sea and its Contents," which is mainly a demonstration that the true ocean-floor has not been affected by change within any geologically recent period, and that the floor is flat ; and another, called " Days in the Woods," by the Earl of Dunraveu. We did not think Lord Dunraven could write so well, but his little touch-and-go sketches of his Indians and their supersti- tions and their ways are truly admirable. He should do some- thing a great deal better than he has done, and the something should be in the way of observation of half-savage or wholly savage mankind. We do not know that this has been said before :—" There are three inventions which the ingenuity of man seems to be unable to improve upon, and two of them are the works of savages, namely, the violin, snow-shoes, and birch- bark canoes." Lord Dunraven might have added the boome- rang, which is certainly savage and still puzzles the mathe- maticians; and the bow, which has been rediscovered by a dozen tribes, and has never been seriously improved. It must be observed, however, that, as regards the Red Indian, the question whether he is a savage or a man who has lost a high civilisa- tion is not quite settled yet. Hochelaga, ancient Montreal, was hardly built by those we call savages ; nor, we may suspect from analogy, did savages invent the general Indian creed. There is not enough fear in it.

We have nothing to say of Blackwood, except that "Beata" interests us greatly, and that the political articles are growing weaker and more reactionary ; or of Fraser, except that Miss Zimmern's sketch of Keller, the Swiss novelist, will extend the knowledge of most English critics, who certainly are not aware that a novelist so original as he who described Seldwyla (typical Swiss town) ever existed; and so pass on to that huge repertory, the Contemporary _Review, which also is a little dull. We are totally unable to give the faintest opinion about M. Lenormant's paper on antediluvian genealogies, because we can neither read nor understand it ; and "The Outlook in Europe," by" Scrutator," though full of shrewd touches, brings to us no conviction ; while we are unable to care for Mr. Francis Newman's argument, that a man has a right to take interest for his money in certain cases ; but there are good papers also. The one on "The Armenian Question," condensed elsewhere, is alone worth the price of the magazine. The Rev. M. Kaufmann throws a flood of "white light" on Socialism and its ultimate ideas ; and we, at least, have been keenly interested in Dr. Karl Hillebrand's vitriolic review of Prince Metternich's "Memoirs." He thinks the great Austrian statesman was a very great liar, especially when he spoke of himself ; and that latterly, when he wrote his autobiography, he could see nothing except through a sort of gray mist. He is too savage, and does not allow enough for self-deception, but lie is very amusing.

In the Corsi/ ill, there is a new short story, called "Mrs. Austin," which has roused in us an unusual feeling, a sense of puzzlement as to what its end can be; an account, inter- esting just now, of "The Regicides of this Century,"—in which, by the way, the writer assumes that the Italians meant to kill Napoleon III., a theory we distrust ; and a study of Burton's "Anatomy of Melancholy," that strange lumber- room of learning and humour, which is not quite equal to the average of such studies in the CorithUl. They are usually admirable, but we lay this down with a sense that it has not come home to us, and that a great deal remains to be written about Burton, especially as to the extent and nature of his half- humouristic credulity.