Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

ploughman; the princess and the swineherd, determined by chance association. A girl, &c. And the fathers who stand out against too, has more character to come out than the ruin of their girls by means of estimable she has shown in her girlhood. Though she men of inferior condition, and with not sets sooner than men, she does not set unalenough to live on, are stony-hearted and terably, and marriage and maternity bring cruel, while the daughters who take to cold out the depths of her nature as nothing else poison in the back-garden, if they cannot can. It is only common sense, then, to compass a secret honeymoon or an open marry her to a man whose character is alflight, have all the sympathy and none of ready somewhat formed, rather than to one the censure. The cruel parent is the favour- who is still fluid and floating. It is all very ite whipping-boy of poetry and fiction; well to talk of fighting the battle of life and yet which is likely to be the better guide together, and welding together by time. -reason or passion? experience or igno- Many a man has been ruined by these derance? calculation or impulse? the matu- testable metaphors. The theory, partly rity which can judge, or the youth which can true and partly pretty, is good enough in its only feel? There would be no hesitation in degree; and, so far as the welding goes, we any other case than that of love, but the weld together in almost all things by time. love instinct is generally considered to be We wear our shoe till we wear it into shape superior to every other consideration, and and it ceases to pinch us; but in the proto be obeyed as a divine voice, no matter at cess we go through a vast deal of pain, what cost or consequence. and are liable to make corns that will last long after the shoe itself fits easily. We do not advocate the French system of marrying off our girls according to our own ideas of suitableness, and without consulting them; but we do not the less think that, of all fatal social mistakes, mésalliances are the most fatal, and, in the case of women, to be avoided and prevented at any cost short of a broken heart or a premature death. And even death sometimes would be better than the life-long misery, the enduring shame and humiliation, of certain mésalliances.

The ideal of life, according to some, is founded on early marriages. But men are slower in the final setting of their character than women, and one never knows how a young fellow of twenty or so will turn out. If he is devout now, he may be an infidel at forty; if, under home influences, he is temperate and pure, when these are withdrawn he may become a rake of the fastest kind. His temper, morals, business power, ability to resist temptation, all are as yet inchoate and undefined; nothing is sure; and the girl's fancy that makes him perfect in proportion to his good looks, is a mere instinct

more every night." And so they did, until Manager Death gave their favourite an engagement which took him a long way from Paris.

VOICES run in families quite as much as do eyes, mouths, noses, chins, tempers, capacities, complexions, hands, feet, and legs. Resemblance of thorax is transmitted from sire to son, with other congenital likenesses, and notably with the constitution that bespeaks average length of life. Sorrowful experience will often connect MANY are the good things reported to have the well-remembered quality of "a voice that is been said by the late Lord Alvanley, but I don't still" with the visible signs of declining health. remember to have seen in print the following. The music of the tone, like the flush on the Crockford, on retiring from the management of cheek, was mortal; the very life of the voice, the Club in St. James's Street, where gambling the clear, bell-like ring, was the ring of death. was carried on openly for many years and large There is now and then a strange witching in sums lost nightly, gave a farewell dinner to his these doomed voices; and it is very painful to patrons, at which he took the opportunity of exthink that the mirth-moving accents of pro- patiating on the good use which he had made of fessed drolls have often owed their irresistible the wealth which he had accumulated at their fun to disease. A certain French comedian may expense. He told them that he had considered be said actually to have died of his comic voice. it as a trust. "Often had he fed the hungry " The physicians told him that the exertion of (his suppers free to all the habitués were unexspeaking would certainly hasten the climax of ceptionable), "many were the naked whom he his malady; but to the very last he persisted in had clothed;" then he paused for an instant, saying, "I can't help it; you really must let and Lord Alvanley finished the sentence for him, me go on acting; the people laugh more and" and the rich he sent empty away.”

From The Saturday Review.
MR. BRIGHT.

prophecies which, as many of his adversaries were aware, involved only questions of time. It was as certain that the constituency would sooner or later receive overwhelming additions, as that the Assyrian hordes swarming round the Northern desert would overflow into Samaria and Judæa; but the prophet who has distinctly announced the coming event may not unreasonably remind his disciples of his just prognostications. It was a more thankless, though sometimes a not less patriotic, task to oppose, with the statesmen of Lord Palmerston's school, an inert resistance to doubtful changes. In almost all his later speeches Mr. Bright good-humouredly rallies his opponents on the beneficial or harmless results of measures which they had formerly resisted. The truth is that since the repeal of the Corn-law, which was only by accident a political transaction, no organic legislation will have taken effect until the Reform Bill comes into operation. The transfer of the Indian Government from the Company to the Crown has produced few of the good or evil results which were respectively foretold by Mr. Bright and by the supporters of the old system. The projects of alterations in landed tenure, and in Irish and Indian administration, which are contained in the two volumes of collected speeches, have scarcely been taken into consideration by Parliament.

MR. BRIGHT's speeches, a collection of which has just been edited by Professor Rogers, would well deserve republication as specimens of eloquent composition, even if they were not also part of the history of the time. In a period of incessant change, tending always in the same direction, a great orator profoundly convinced of the truth of the doctrines which are from day to day passing into practice occupies an enviable position. Although no politician can be less liable than Mr. Bright to the imputation of wishing to swim with the stream, he has from the beginning of his career, with rare interruptions of casual eddies, enjoyed the advantage of moving with an irresistible current. The Corn-law was already doomed when he began to assail it, and it has long been evident that the present generation would witness a democratic change in the Constitution. The ulterior measures which Mr. Bright has long advocated will probably be adopted in rapid succession by Parliaments which are more likely to escape from the control of their leader than to oppose an obstinate resistance to his demands for progress. With the solitary exception of the Crimean war no political event has for twenty years brought Mr. Bright's political course into collision with any popular prejudices. It is an ele- It would be difficult to overpraise the ment of his singular felicity that he has literary and rhetorical merits of Mr. Bright's had one opportunity, and no more, of ex- speeches. Without exception they are hibiting his self-relying independence. Not models of clear and persuasive statement, exempt from the violence and harshness of and, unlike the desultory arguments of the demagogue, he may at least boast that ordinary speakers, they are invariably cast he has not shrunk from denouncing general in a single and symmetrical mould. The enthusiasm when it seemed to him to be uniform care bestowed on the perorations, founded on error. At other times he has though it almost tends to mannerism, adds had the multitude at his back, although he greatly to the effect on the understanding has often been one of a small minority in and on the ear of orations which always the House of Commons. A chief virtue in- rise to a climax. The want of training in herent in the outgoing Constitution was the the study of the ancient languages which balance of forces which existed between Mr. Bright has sometimes regretted, alcustomary or official authority and reserved though it must have deprived a congenial physical force. It has been Mr. Bright's mind of much intellectual pleasure, has function during the greater part of his life not impaired the classical purity of his to advocate, in a Parliament representing style. His happy quotations, his occathe educated and middle classes, the sup- sional use of quaint archaic phrases, and, posed interests and wishes of the bulk of above all, the graceful vigour of his ordinary the population. No living man has done language, prove that Mr. Bright has masso much to accelerate the admission of his tered the resources of his mother tongue. clients to the direct exercise of political His reading, whether it has been extensive power. Among many claims to the confi- or limited, has been that of a scholar; and dence of his followers, Mr. Bright may an orator who knows English as Demosurge undeviating consistency in the prose- thenes knew Greek has little reason to cution of definite purposes which are even covet, for purposes of expression, the sunow not fully attained. Like a Hebrew perfluous accomplishments of more versatile seer, he may also cite the fulfilment of students. As in other pursuits, oratorical

sionate economists as a chimera. His most considerable achievement has been the reform of the representative system, to which no other politician has contributed so largely. His arguments, while the question was still unsettled, tended to extreme democracy, although it is believed that Mr. Disraeli's Bill, as it was finally passed, ex

or

success tends to reproduce and extend itself by the conscious freedom which belongs to the finished artists, and also by the deference which follows upon general recognition. A beginner, however eloquent, could not safely have attempted to thrill the House of Commons by apostrophizing, in the height of the Crimean war, the figurative personation of slaughter. "It seems ceeded his wishes as well as his expectaas if the Angel of Death was abroad-Itions. For several years he had reiterated almost hear the beating of his wings." It the complaint that five or six millions of was perhaps in still bolder reliance on his grown-up men were excluded from the sufpowers and on his just reputation that he frage, as if for the purpose of inferring that once took the House into his confidence by the redress of the grievance must be cospeaking of the pleasure with which he went extensive with the limits of disfranchisehome to find five or six little children ment. It appears to have been Mr. playing on his hearth." Even when he Bright's real opinion that the constituency now and then descends to broad vernacular ought to be increased, but that it should humour Mr. Bright is never coarse. To still bear a select and representative charhis associates and rivals in the House of acter. The declamation which dealt with Commons he speaks sometimes in tones of the suffrage as a natural and universal right warning, and even of suppressed menace; can scarcely have been sincere, and it was but more often he appeals to their reason, undoubtedly dangerous. During two and to principles which all parties profess-three seasons of agitation Mr. Bright again edly admit. Out of doors, among unani- and again dilated on the unjust distribution mous and applauding crowds, while he of representative power, by which a comargues far more loosely, and addresses paratively small proportion was awarded to himself more directly to the passions, he is populous and wealthy towns. Such, he always the teacher and the leader of men, said, is the number of inhabitants, so enorand not their sycophantic flatterer. The mous is the rateable assessment, such and dignity of superior intellect has never been such amounts are contributed to the Incomecompromised in his person. The chief tax; yet petty boroughs, with few resifault of taste which occasionally disfigures dents, contributing a mere fraction of taxes, his speeches is a habit of dilating on the enjoy the same Parliamentary power which sagacity and foresight which may always be is awarded to Manchester or Liverpool. It plausibly claimed by the representatives of would have been more candid to exclude the winning side. Few of his speeches on from consideration every element of the re-examination bear the irritating character problem except numerical preponderance. which has often caused offence when they If taxation and wealth have any claim to have been delivered. A pugnacious politi- representation, a rich man derives no adcian, engaged in controversies of vital im- vantage from the possession of electoral portance, could scarcely perhaps have de- power by his penniless neighbour. The viated more rarely into angry vituperation. owners of property and the payers of InThe vehement and bitter partisan who has come-tax in great cities were represented, edited the speeches condenses into half a if at all, by the members for counties and dozen pages nearly as much passionate in- small boroughs, while the nominees of the justice to opponents as that which Mr. great constituencies legitimately expressed Bright has spread over two volumes. the wishes of the ten-pound householders or the artisans. It is not, however, an ex

Thoroughgoing admirers will, by an easy fallacy, assume that perfect art implies po-traordinary slur on the reputation of a litical infallibility; but Mr. Bright's ser- great popular leader that he has been somevices to his country have been neither in- times illogical and unfair. It was a graver disputable nor unmixed, and the soundness fault to invoke the aid of the London mob, of his opinions is often questionable. His in 1866, to overcome the hesitation of Parpanacea for Indian grievances, consisting liament. The assemblages which afterin the separation of the Empire into recip- wards indulged in riot and intimidation, rocally independent provinces, has never under the guidance of Mr. Beales, were been tried, nor has it been approved by any first proposed by Mr. Bright. It is probaauthority on Indian affairs. The scheme ble that no more direct means of effecting of buying up large Irish estates, to resell to his object could have been devised, nor occupying tenants, though unobjectionable have the mob meetings thus far led to foron political grounds, is regarded by dispas-midable excesses; but, in inviting the rab

ble of the metropolis to dictate the policy |lated wealth, while political power was, as of the House of Commons, Mr. Bright at present, to be vested in that part of the struck a formidable blow at constitutional population which lives by labour. But he will liberty. The Imperial system in France probably not interfere in financial affairs has only been rendered possible by the tri- with Mr. Gladstone, who still adheres to umphs of Parisian Bealeses in 1789, in the orthodox creed of political economy. 1793, and in 1848. If the future Parlia- The social measure which Mr. Bright ment proves strong enough to repress simi- deems most desirable is the assimilation of lar demonstrations of force, household suf-the law of inheritance of real property to frage will have gone far towards justifying the rule which provides for the succession to itself. personality. The experiment will probably be unsuccessful if it stand alone, but in itself it is not obviously unreasonable. It is doubtful whether Mr. Bright will at any future time care to attract the confidence of the classes and parties to which he has long been bitterly opposed; but when revolutionary measures are proposed, he is not incapable of being influenced by an imaginative reverence for historical institutions. To Eng

It is desirable, as well as inevitable, that Mr. Bright should become a member of the next Cabinet, although it may be difficult to find a department in which he will not have pledged himself to doubtful or impracticable innovations. The vast power which he wields ought to be used in the direct business of administration, and not in opposing or controlling a Government from outside. Official responsibility may per-land, "the mother of Parliaments," "the haps lead him to reconsider some of the august mother of free institutions," "the doctrines which he has at different times country which he loves so well," he cherishes propagated, to the alarm of moderate poli- genuine devotion, which is not exclusively ticians and of owners of property. Ten contingent on the destruction of all the years ago he insisted that taxation should habits and modes of thought that have hithbe almost exclusively imposed on accumu-erto been characteristic of the country.

work than we shall possess in those ten years of All the Year Round. One announcement, however, many will read with regret. The Christmas Extra Number is to be given up, though at the highest tide of its success;'' Mr. Dickens fearing that, after so many repetitions and imitations, it runs great danger of becoming tiresome. Certainly the main idea has been worked rather threadbare; but we have been accustomed for so many years to associate Mr. Dickens with Christmas that the season will seem strange without him. Mr. Dickens says he himself regrets his own decision, and we are sure his readers will regret it still more.

MR. DICKENS announces in the current number of All the Year Round that the present series of that journal will be brought to a close with the number for the 28th of November, and that on the 5th of December he will publish" No. I. of a new series, with the old writers, and as many fresh recruits as time may bring him. All the Year Round has now been going on for nearly ten years (it began in April, 1859), and on the day appointed for the extinction of its first series it will have completed its twentieth volume. Of Household Words there were eighteen volumes, extending from 1850 to 1859. The conductors of All the Year Round have wisely come to the conclusion that new subscribers are not likely to begin taking in a periodical which drags such a heavy weight of back numbers behind it. Experience shows that most publications WHICH is correct-learning by heart, or of the miscellany order fall off in sale after a certain number of years, and that nothing can gal- learning by art? The former is the usual exvanize them back to their original vitality. It pression; but it is by no means clear that it conis therefore very good policy to start afresh, and veys the intended meaning. He who impresses we think Mr. Dickens would have acted even words or sentences or aught else upon his brain more judiciously in setting up an entirely new by rote, as it is called, uses some acquired or periodical, with a distinct name. We perceive instinctive trick of mnemonics for the purpose. that he talks of changes in the size of the page, Schoolboys, actors, singers, and their likes, have and improvements in the printing, paper, &c. various artifices for committing matters to memTo alter the size of the page seems to us a mis-ory, and their learning is by art; the heart has take, as it will prevent the new series ranging nothing to do with it. If learning by heart with the old; and as to the printing and paper, means anything at all, it certainly signifies a we hope Mr. Dickens is not going to give in to the fashionable affectation of sham old type principle the very opposite of that it is used to and toned" or tinted paper. At the conclu- designate-the profound acquirement of knowsion of the first series a general index to the ledge, the understanding of facts and experiences whole twenty volumes will be published, and it without regard to the symbols by which they are would be difficult to find a more entertaining presented to the mind.

THE NEW EXPEDITIONS TO THE NORTH rests for choosing another way and other

POLE.

means.

For Captain Osborn, the North Pole is an immense cap of ice broken here and there by accidental crevasses which close completely at the approach of the great colds. The vast sheets of open water which Morton and Hayes have met with in the North-west, the polar sea which Admiral Wrangel has discovered at the north of Siberia, would exist then only at certain epochs, and there would be no other serious chance of reaching the pole besides that which would be offered by an expedition in sledges tried during the winter season. Starting from an English port with two ships and a crew of a hundred and twenty men, Captain Osborn would leave one of his ships and twenty-five sailors at Cape Isabel, while with the others he would gain Cape Parry. Assured thus of a refuge in case of disaster, he would choose the most courageous and most tried of his companions to set out on his journey towards the middle of February. The space which separates Cape Parry from the pole is five hundred miles, which makes about a thousand miles going and returning; this long distance Captain Osborn pretends to accomplish in sixty days in stages of ten miles a day. This project, at first favorably received by the English admiralty, lost many partizans from the day that Doctor Petermann attacked it by opposing to it a second project, based on the probable existence of a free sea around the pole. Without this intervention, which had for its result the dividing the English sailors into two camps, the project of Sherard Osborn would have been perhaps put into execution.

TRANSLATED FROM THE REVUE DES DEUX MONDES.

SINCE steam has opened a way for itself through mountains and seas, and iron roads have furrowed the surface of the globe, people imagine willingly that man has taken possession of his domain, that he knows all its devious ways. At intervals, however, some great exploring project recalls to us what remains to be done. The interior of two continents is still enveloped in mystery, the extremities of the world, the two poles where night and day divide the year into two equal portions, are not yet unveiled for human eyes. There, problems exist of which the solution will not probably be obtained but at the price of great efforts and of great sacrifices. The question here is not to discover gold mines, not to conquer fertile countries; it is to fight the unknown, to render the entire globe subject to man. Is not this an object worthy of tempting the courage of the boldest, an aim proposed to the emulation of all peoples?

The attempts which have been made to reach the poles are numerous. We shall not repeat the names of all the navigators who have perished in these frozen parts, or who have been obliged to return, arrested by insurmountable obstacles. What it behooves us to indicate is the incontestable progress which is to be remarked in the results of the successive expeditions, a progress which allows us to conceive the possibility of a complete success. Thus Cook returned from the austral seas with the conviction that no ship would ever go beyond the latitude of 71°; Weddell reached the M. Petermann, as we have said, believes 74th, and Ross penetrated through icebergs in a polar sea. According to him, the idea into the open sea where he attained the of going to the pole in a sledge must be parallel of 78° of south latitude, even with- completely set aside; such an expedition out the help of steam. At the North Pole, would always have the fate of that which the discoveries of Parry, of Kane, of Hayes, Parry attempted in 1827; it may be rememhave sensibly extended the limits of the bered that the ice glided away under him known, and justified the hope that in a future and carried him back to the south while not far off the arctic regions will have no with great difficulty he advanced in the dimore mystery for us. Several projects of rection of the north. M. Petermann is then polar expeditions have been seriously pro- of the opinion that the pole can only be posed and discussed in these last years. reached by sea, at the moment of the breakThe readers of the Revue still remember the ing up of the ice. By following the direcexposition which M. Charles Martins has tion of the gulf-stream, the current of warm given of the English project, of which Cap-water which passes round the north of Eutain Sherard Osborn was the principal pro- rope, he would have the vessels of the exmoter, and of that of the learned German pedition launched between the floating icegeographer A. Petermann, which has just bergs of Spitzbergen and Nova-Zembla, beobtained a commencement of execution. cause on this side the danger is less great We shall confine ourselves to giving a brief that at Smith's Strait. On this route, one summary of them before exposing the con- would be certain, he says, to find the sea siderations on which M. Gustave Lambert free above 83° and 84°. In support of this LIVING AGE. VOL. XI. 440

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »