« VorigeDoorgaan »
quarrel with the people of America, but The second Prince of Peace, at quarrel with them never were. These
The great unborn defender of the Faith, and a thousand other foolish things she
Who will avenge me of mine enemies
He comes and my star rises." did in order to surround by a brazen wall an English Variant that, as yet, was as And now, what was the measure of suc“ aerial” in bis essence as Queen Mary's cess won by this method of slandering the own imaginary babe.
mother country, and robbing her at the But, as I have said, there is nothing in same time? It set working a mischief in the world so short-sighted as selfishness America itself, which is as yet only in the ungoverned by conscience - nothing in bud.
bud. It is one of the causes which are the world so sure to defeat itself in the hopelessly dividing the cultivated class of end. If it is humorous to think that the America from the most prejudiced and selfish stealing of Corsica, which (poison- narrow-minded class in the civilized world ing the blood of France with Napoleon) - America's illiterate mob. For, while led on to the corruptions of the Napoleonic the whole of the masses, and the larger courts, and thence to a sterility that is portion of the bourgeois class, lacking the withdrawing her from her place in the opportunity of enlightenment which their forefront of the world—if it is humorous
superiors possess, continue to accept the to think that it was the selfishness of a fantastic falsehoods they imbibed at dominant party in England that lost her school, the better classes soon begin to the American colonies—what shall we say study our contemporary literature with of the selfish desire of America to build
intelligent eyes, and becoine filled with an around her imaginary offspring a wall of irresistible longing to visit the country brass by cheating the devil while the devil which produced it.
which produced it. This fact is, of was cheating her? The same smartness course, fatal to the architecture of the which compelled her to go on squeezing brazen wall the mob demands. The between the lips of her own children the hearty, smiling personage standing on sour and poisonous whey conveyed in her this side of the "Atlantic ferry” with school-books impelled her also to go on open arms to receive the American vis. despoiling her slandered mother of all the itor, is none other than the hateful Johp rich milk she could supply. While the Bull depicted in the school-books. No school-books told the children that Eng- sooner does an American reach London land was a poor effete little old island, than he finds that his mere nationality acts filled by rogues whom even Providence as a charm—acts as a letter of introduccould only prevent being mischievous by tion into the best society where he is fitted providing that they should also be fools,
to more. There are certain American she carefully stole her own mother's writers, I believe, who enlarge upon what Tennyson, Dickens, Thackeray, Reade, they call “Anglo-mania” in America, Trollope, Besant, Hardy, Black, and the but, clearly, the mania of loving-kindness rest, whose every rich and noble word between the two countries is all on one gave the lie to every slanderous word that side of the Atlantic. In London it is betthe school-books contained. She took it ter to be an American than an Englishfor granted, as Margaret Fuller well put man. Nothing is more common than to it, that, “because the United States find as a postscript appended to an inviprinted and read more books, magazines, tation to a dinner or a garden-party the and newspapers than all the rest of the persuasive words, “Some interesting world, they had really, therefore, a liter. Americans are expected." ature. She took it for granted that the Fascinating as is the personality of Mr. literary genius of Great Britain “ darting Lowell, he did not exaggerate in the its rays," as De Tocquevile says, " into smallest degree when he atfirmed that the the forests of the New World,” conld cordiality of his reception here was due foster a literature that was other than
to the fact of his being an American alBritish, and went on, like Tennyson's most more than to the fact of his being Mary, with her maternal peans about a Mr. Lowell. babe that had not as yet even a sooterkin's But what about the poor homespun valexistence :
garian left on the other side of the water ? “ He hath awaked ! he hath awaked !
What about him who has never had an He stirs within the darkness !... opportunity of unlearning the sonr hatred
of the Britisher, which is considered to of Washington ; and lastly for the poor be a necessary part of American patriot- defrauded Variant who, being now fully ism ? He does not understand all this. born, demanded to be fed and fostered How should he? He looks with suspicion upon sprouts from his native soil. For upon every prominent personage whose although the raw, untutored and untravmovements in England are recorded in elled American may be guided by merthe American newspapers, much cenary motives in most things, he has still Chinainan looks upon any rumors that one sentiment or rather passion that reach his village concerning any plenipo- hatred of England which he imbibed at tentiary foregathering with the outer bar- school. barian in Europe.
Whatsoever was generous or even apFrom this he proceeds to look with sus- proached generosity in the Bill had to be picion upon the cultivated class to which carefully neutralized before it bad the rethe prominent personage belongs. And notest chance of passing, and now it is a when we remember that it is this very monument of the meanness and the greed homespun vulgarian of America under of a people who ought to be great—a whose feet the neck of American culture monument only less colossal and only less lies, we may well fear that mischief looms grotesque than the astounding McKinley
Act itself. One of the fruits of America's ill-ad- There was once a certain Irishman-a vised attitude toward England is to be patriot, I believe-named Patrick Hogan, seen in the nature of the Copyright Act who, on being warned that his sow would itself. That the leading men in Ameri- certainly devour her litter as soon as they can letters, beaded by Mr. Lowell, Mr. were born, said, “ Faix, an' if she does Stedman, Mr. Winter, Mr. Moncure Con- eat 'em, I'll jis lock her up in a sty by way, and others, were guided by the mo- herself.” George Borrow told me this tives of scholars and gentlemen in all they story during a delightful ramble, sniffing said and did with regard to this Act, no the while, as was his wont, the summer one can doubt who has the privilege of a wind as it drew the honey-scents from the personal acquaintance with them. But gorse-flowers of Wimbledon Common. alas ! our friend the “ American patriot” * And," said he, in his quaint Norfolk could not be made to unlearn his lesson accent, although Pat, the moment she that to despoil England as well as to hate had et up
the pegs, locked away her, is America's sacred duty.
in another sty, he did not succeed in sav-. To suppose that a Copyright Bill such ing one. as these eminent and high-minded writers Are the Americans a little late—a cen. wanted had a chance of passing, was to tury too late, say—in passing an Act to. display a noble Quixotism into which but protect their literature ? Would not the very few English authors ever passed. July after the birth of the Republic have.
To proclaim that the Bill was intended been a better date for such an Act to be-. to do justice to the British author, who gin its work than the July of 1891 ? In, for generations has been despoiled, was treating of America as the great modern, alas for these gentlemen La very poor architect of brazen walls, will history bave way of recommending it to a people to draw the same lesson from the Copyreared on American traditions. In order right Act as she draws from the famous to insure its passing in any form, it was plot of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay to necessary that the class that is playing build their brazen wall around England by ducks and drakes not only with the honor cheating the devil ? While the two magiof America, but with her very existence cians lay dozing and dreaming of success, as a civilized community, should be told the Brazen llead, by whose means alone that the Bill was a protective measure ; tbe wall could be built, exclaimed Time first for the working printers, paper- ix ;' then after a while, “ Time was ;” makers, and binders of America ; sec- then, “ Time is past;" and finally, hurlondly for the master printers, paper- ing itself on the floor of the cell in a noise makers, and binders of America ; thirdly of thunder and a smell of sulphur, ruined for the poor defrauded authors of Ameri- the necromancers' plot altogether. By ca, whose genius has been swamped by making men forget that in all human matcruel English invaders ever since the days ters there are the same three periods,
NEW SERIES. — VOL, LIV., No. 1. 7
the devil generally contrives to win the whether or not this would have been the game.
case, I for one-I, who among Americans If, in the beginning of their Republic, number some of my dearest friends-do the Americans bad leen less smart—if not and cannot regret it ; do not and canthey had dealt like honorable gentlemen not regret that English poetry is hencewith English writers, thereby protecting forth forever to be strengthened and entheir own literary growths as they are at riched by American genius, and that no last by this Act trying to protect them, American can write poetry without being, what effect would this have had upon the for the time that he is occupied with his planting and fostering of the national liter- art, as truly an Englishman as I am. ature they crave ! Suppose that the young So full is America of every kind of American had been developed, not only Anglo-Saxon force, so full of literary as by means of numberless “vegetables in well as mechanical genias, that I believe season, but also by the sprouts and the great English writers of the twentieth flowers of America's own literary growth ; century may well be born on American suppose that, at the founding of the Re- soil ; for I dissent entirely from the Ameripublic, a rigid Copyright Act had been con lexicographer, Mr. J. R. Bartlett, passed, not only in order to do justice to when he says that “there is in the best England, but also in order to save their authors and speakers of Great Britain a own markets from being destroyed by variety in the choice of expression, a corthat same injustice, would this act of hon- rectness in the use of the particles, and esty have so protected the literary growths an idiomatic vigor and raciness of style to of America that they would have furnished which few American writers or none can Europe not only with indigenous “ pork” attain,” though he tells us that “the mentioned by Mr. Walt Whitman, but ripest scholars in America'' share his also with the indigenous poetry that a views upon the point. And this I know, century of effort has not enabled them to that should it actually occur that the leadproduce ?
ing English writers of the twentieth cenIf it is the fact that the protective tury are born upon American soil, the power of such an Act operating upon the greeting they will receive in the old home intellectual forces of the community dur- is foreshadowed as truly as pleasantly in ing its most plastic stages of growth would the cordial reception that has already been have given America a literature which given to writers like Washington Irving, could properly have been called Anieri- Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar can, if it would really have turned a colo Poe, Longfellow, Prescott, J. R. Lowell, nial poetry into a national one-then the Motley, Stedman, Wendell Holmes, Monstory of America is but another illustra- cure Conway, and the rest. — Fortnightly tion of the great truth that nothing is Review. strong but justice and fair dealing. But
BY PROFESSOR HUXLEY.
Some thousands of years ago, there was from destruction. Hasisadra awoke, and a city in Mesopotamia called Surippak. at once acted upon the warning. A strong One night a strange dreain came to a decked ship was built and her sides were dweller' therein, whose name, if rightly re- paid, inside and out, with the mineral ported, was Hasisadra. The dream fore- pitch, or bitumen, with which the country told the speedy coming of a great flood ; abounded ; the vessel's seaworthiness was and it warned Hasisadra to lose no time tested, the cargo was stowed away, and a in building a ship, in which, when notice trusty pilot or steersman appointed. was given, he, his family and friends, with The promised signal arrived. Wife and their
domestic animals and a collection of friends embarked; Hasisadra, following, the wild creatures and seed of plants of the prudently “shut the door, land, might take refuge and be rescued should say, put on the hatches; and Nes
Hea, the pilot, was left alone on deck to though it is quite as proper, and indeed do his best for the ship. Thereupon a necessary, to act no less respectfully hurricane began to rage ; rain fell in tor- toward ourselves ; and, before professing rents ; the subterranean waters burst to put implicit faith in it, to inquire what forth ; a deluge swept over the land, and claim it bas to be regarded as a serious acthe wind lashed it into waves sky high ; count of an historical event. heaven and earth became mingled in cha- It is of no use to appeal to contempootic gloom. For six days and seven nights rary history, although the annals of Babythe gale raged, but the good ship held out lonia, no less than those of Egypt, go until, on the seventh day, the storm lulled. much further back than 2000 B.C. AII Hasisadra ventured on deck; and, seeing that can be said is, that the former are nothing but a waste of waters strewed with hardly consistent with the supposition that floating corpses and wreck, wept over the any catastrophe, competent to destroy all destruction of his land and people. Far the population, has befallen the land since away, the mountains of Nizir were visible ;' civilization began, and that the latter are the ship was steered for them and ran notoriously silent about deluges. In such aground upon the higher land. Yet an- a case as this, however, the silence of hisother seven days passed by. On the sev- tory does not leave the inquirer wholly at enth, Hasisadra sent forth a dove, which fault. Natural science has something to found no resting place and returned ; then say when the phenomena of nature are in he liberated a swallow, which also came question. Natural science may be able to back ; finally, a raven was let loose, and show, from the nature of the country, that sagacious bird, when it found that either that such an event as that described the waters had abated, came near the ship, in the story is impossible, or at any rate but refused to return to it. Upon this, highly improbable; or, on the other hand, Hasisadra liberated the rest of the wild that it is consonant with probability. In animals, which immediately dispersed in the former case the narrative must be susall directions, while he, with his family pected or rejected ; in the latter, no such and friends, ascending a mountain hard summary verdict can be given : on the by, offered sacrifices upon its summit to contrary, it must be admitted that the the gods.
story may be true. And then, if certain
strangely prevalent canons of criticism are The story thus given in summary ab- accepted, and if the evidence that an event stract, told in an ancient Semitic dialect, might have happened is to be accepted as is inscribed in cuneiform characters upon proof that it did happen, Assyriologists a tablet of burnt clay. Many thousands will be at liberty to congratulate one anof such tablets, collected by Assurbanipal, other on the confirmation by modern sciKing of Assyria in the middle of the sev- ence' of the authority of their ancient enth century B.C., were stored in the books. library of his palace at Nineveh ; and, It will be interesting, therefore, to inthough in a sadly broken and mutilated quire how far the physical structure and condition, they have yielded a marvellous the other conditions of the region in which amount of information to the patient and Surippak was situated are compatible with sagacious labor which modern scholars such a flood as is described in the Assyrian have bestowed upon them. Among the record. multitude of documents of various kinds, The scene of Hasisadra's adventure is this narrative of Hasisadra's adventure has laid in the broad valley, six or seven hunbeen found in a tolerably complete state. dred miles long, and hardly anywhere less But Assyriologists agree that it is only a than a hundred miles in width, which is copy of a much more ancient work ; and traversed by the lower courses of the rivers there are weighty reasons for believing Euphrates and Tigris, and which is comthat the story of Hasisadra's flood was monly known as the “Euphrates valley." well known in Mesopotamia before the Rising, at the one end, into a hill country, year 2000 B.C.
which gradually passes into the Alpine No doubt, then, we are in presence of heights of Armenia ; and, at the other, a narrative which has all the authority dipping beneath the shallow waters of the which antiquity can confer; and it is head of the Persian Gulf, which continues proper to deal respectfully with it, even in the same direction, from northwest to southeast, for some eight hundred miles masses of sun-dried and burnt bricks, the further, the floor of the valley presents a remains of which, in the shape of huge gradual slope, from eight hundred feet artificial mounds, still testify to both the above the sea level to the depths of the magnitude and the industry of the popusouthern end of the Persian Gulf. The lation thousands of years ago.
Good boundary between sea and land, formed cement is plentiful, while the bitumen by the extremest mudflats of the delta of which wells from the rocks at Hit and the two rivers, is but vaguely defined ; elsewhere, not only answers the same purand, year by year, it advances seaward. pose, but is used to this day, as it was in On the northeastern side, the western Hasisadra's time, to pay the inside and frontier "ranges of Persia rise abruptly to the outside of boats. great heights ; on the southwestern side, In the broad lower course of the a more gradual ascent leads to a table-land Euphrates the stream rarely acquires of less elevation, which, very broad in the velocity of more than three miles an hour, south, where it is occupied by the deserts' while the lower Tigris attains double that of Arabia and of Southern Syria, narrows, rate in times of flood. The water of both northward, into the highlands of Palestine, great rivers is mainly derived from the and is continued by the ranges of the Leb- northern and eastern highlands in Armenia anon, the Antilebanon, and the Taurus, and in Kurdistan, and stands at its lowest into the highlands of Armenia.
level in early autumn and in January. But The wide and gently inclined plain, thus when the snows accumulated in the upper enclosed between the gulf and the high- basins of the great rivers, during the winlands, on each side and at its upper ex- ter, melt under the hot sunshine of spring, tremity, is distinguishable into two regions they rapidly rise,* and at length overflow of very different character, one of which their banks, covering the alluvial plain lies north, and the other south of the par with a vast inland sea, interrupted only by allel of Hit on the Euphrates. Except in the higher ridges and hummocks which the immediate vicinity of the river, the form islands in a seemingly boundless exnorthern division is stony and scantily cov
panse of water. ered with vegetation, except in spring. In the occurrence of these annual inun-' Over the southern division, on the con- dations lies one of several resemblances betrary, spreads a deep alluvial soil, in which tween the valley of the Euphrates and that even a pebble is rare ; and which, though, of the Nile. But there are important under the existing misrule, mainly a waste differences. The time of the annual flood of marsh and wilderness, needs only intelli- is reversed, the Nile being highest in gent attention to become, as it was of old, autumn and winter, and lowest in spring the granary of western Asia. Except in and early summer. The periodical overthe extreme south, the rainfall is small and flows of the Nile, regulated by the great the air dry. The heat in summer is in- lake basins in the south, are usually tense, while bitterly cold northern blasts punctual in arrival, gradual in growth, and sweep the plain in winter. Whirlwinds beneficial in operation. No lakes are inare not uncommon ; and, in the intervals terposed between the mountain torrents of of the periodical inundations, the fine, the upper basins of the Tigris and the dry, powdery soil is swept even by mod. Euphrates and their lower courses. Hence erate breezes into stifling clouds, or rather heavy rain, or an unusually rapid thaw in fogs, of dust. Low inequalities, elevations the uplauds, gives rise to the sudden irruphere and depressions there, diversify the tion of a vast volume of water which not surface of the alluvial region. The latter even the rapid Tigris, still less its more are occupied by enormous marshes, while sluggish companion, can carry off in time the former support the permanent dwell- to prevent violent and dangerous overflows. ings of the present scanty and miserable Without an elaborate system of canalizapopulation.
tion, providing an escape for such sudden In antiquity, so long as the canalization of the country was properly carried out, * In May 1849 the Tigris at Bagdad rose 221 the fertility of the alluvial plain enabled feet-5 feet above its usual rise--and nearly great and prosperous nations to have their swept away the town. In 1831 a similarly
exceptional flood did immense damage, de. home in the Euphrates valley. Its abun- stroying 7000 houses. See Loftus, Chaldea and daut clay furnished the materials for the Susiana, p. 7.