« VorigeDoorgaan »
his History that after middle life he seldom made public speeches. Burke was both a greater orator and a greater writer than any one now alive. But Burke's majestic orations were addressed to posterity. He was often impatiently heard by his actual audience at the time. Mill wanted the physical gifts which are required on public platforms, though in every other respect be was as well qualified to speak as to write. Mr. Gladstone's magnetic power over vast masses of men has seldom, if ever, been equalled; but his reputation would probably stand higher if he had never written a line. Mr. Morley's books will doubtless long survive his addresses to his constituents and his speeches in the House of Commons. Yet it is as difficult to ignore the one as the other in any present estimate of the member for Montrose. No order could be so perfect an illustration of Mr. Morley's philosophic breadth as the fact that he should be considered the one possible biographer of a man who guided every act of his life by the precepts of the Christian faith.
It was a subtle remark of Cato's that he would rather people asked why there was not a statue of him than why there was. I do not think that the disagreeable or positive question will be asked about any of the twelve names in this list. To make out another twelve would be invidious, and perhaps difficult. But there are some which naturally and inevitably suggest themselves. Two may be found elsewhere among the Coronation honors which would certainly not be out of place here. I mean Sir Alfred Lyall among the Privy Councillors, and Sir Leslie Stephen among the Knights of the Bath. Sir Alfred Lyall has held one of the highest positions in the Civil Service of India. He is now a member of the Indian Council at home. The exquisite quality of his verses was familiar, to a large number of cultivated
men even before they were published to the world at large. But the great and peculiar service he has done for the East and the West is not so much his poetry nor his administration of Bengal as his delicate and sympathetic study of
Indian philosophy and religion. The second series of Asiatic Studies is simply priceless in its representation of Oriental thought by an Englishman from an Oriental point of view. Mr. Balfour's Foundations of Belief, a very clever but a rather superficial book, is handled with the urbane irony of a Conservative theologian who knows the danger of meddling with ancient landmarks. Very few Europeans have understood the real mind of the East as Sir Alfred Lyall understands it, and he has the respect for all serious religions without which an examination of them is futile. A very rare combination of qualities is required for a book like Asiatic Studies, including a patient industry which does not neglect the humblest details. Sir Alfred Lyall has plenty of readers. He does not need consolation for popular neglect. At the same time his work has a permanent value to England as an Oriental Power which sets it apart from ordinary speculation and from the common run of bocks about the East. Sir Leslie Stephen is also a philosopher, and his History of Utilitarianism is a valuable book. But it is as a man of letters, and especially as a critic, that he deserves national recognition. No literary critic, be his sphere small or great, can help feeling indebted to Sir Leslie Stephen for many hints on many subjects. He may think Sir Leslie sometimes wanting in enthusiasm-too judicial, too self-restrained. But he must acknowledge that this veteran scholar and student is a master of the critical art, understanding its theory and familiar with its practice. As the original editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, Sir Leslie Stephen earned
the gratitude of his countrymen. As the first of literary critics since the death of Matthew Arnold, he ought to be in any Academy, however small. A life devoted to literature is not, except in the highest sense, remunerative; and Sir Leslie Stephen deserves the utmost praise which can be given to a man of letters. He is worthy of his calling.
In this connection one cannot help thinking of the great novelist who received on his seventieth birthday the congratulations of the literary world. Mr. George Meredith has now fame enough and to spare; but for many years he went on producing imaginative romances quite beyond the reach of any other man living, and they were read only by a select few. By slow degrees the circle of his readers widened, until now it includes the majority of educated men and women in the United Kingdom and the United States. His poetry is not so well known as his novels, though it deserves to be. But they are now standard books, by which the fiction of the later nineteenth century will in future be judged. Mr. Meredith's heroines are fit company for Beatrice and for Rosalind. His humor and fancy are Shakespearean. Among English novelists now living he takes the foremost place, and Americans appreciate him even better than his own countrymen. He has become a classic in his lifetime; and though no order could add to his reputation, he would add to the reputation of any order.
though his Treatise on Education is full of sound sense and practical wisdom. His books have never had a large circulation. The abstract nature of his masterpiece, First Principles, confines it to a small circle of readers. But Mr. Spencer's influence has not been the less extensive because it has been largely indirect. He has been read by those who write. He has taught the teachers of men. He has done for social science what Darwin did for physical science, and applied the doctrine of evolution to the development of civilized communities.
There is no obvious reason why the Order of Merit should be confined to one sex. But if it be invidious to suggest the names of men, it is doubly invidious to suggest the names of women. We have no female astronomer like Mrs. Somerville, no female economist and historian like Miss Martineau. There is no George Eliot in England, as there is no Georges Sand in France. There are lady novelists of every kind and every degree, one more brilliant than another, from whom, as from poets of the feminine gender, it would be difficult to select. But there is one Englishwoman still living, though long withdrawn from public notice, who would be universally recognized as entitled to any honor which the Crown could bestow. The condition of the hospitals in South Africa at the beginning of the war recalled to every one the name of Florence Nightingale. She is not by any means the last survivor of the Crimean War: but there is no one else, living or dead, who played so conspicuous a part in alleviating the horrors of that disastrous campaign. No one will grudge Sir Henry Keppel the recognition of his services; but they were not greater, nor more heroic, than Miss Nightingale's.
Herbert W. Paul.
THE PIPER OF POSEN.
AND THE PEOPLE WHO WOULDN'T DANCE TO HIM.
Air (vaguely): "Hamelin Town's in Brunswick."
Posen town's in Posen,
And that's a province of Prussia;
And round this way, as you should know,
A matter of ninety years ago,
The Great Man brought his travelling show
Out on the ruthless plains of Russia.
The taint that comes, when the winds are low,
They breed so fast by swarms and shoals, And can't be kept in their proper station,
But want a voice-poor ignorant drolls
In the matter of popular education! Pay, it's true, their taxes and tolls,
But won't remain like primitive moles
In suitable subterranean holes,
Nor adopt a decently servile air
To German officials planted there
With full permission to ply their staves
On the knuckles of contumacious kna ves;
Forget, in fact, their Helot rôles,
And claim to preach
Freedom of speech
And the general use of their private souls!
So it happened that one fine dusty day,
When matters had grown a shade too warm,
William the War-Lord rode that way
In a terrible Prussian uniform.
And first he called for his mailèd fist,
And gave his moustaches an upward twist,
(If he wants, that is, to remain alive) a
Full-rigged, but otherwise like Godiva !"
On second thoughts he smoothed his brow,
And stuck in his helm an olive bough,
And said, "I will stoop to win their love!
And so with suave salute, he
With Hochs and loyal whoops;
That a War-Lord riding there in state
And then in a well-prepared oration
Pilsener, not your British crass ale),
To be no longer a fenced place
A scheme that I chance to know was not
While the generous blood ran red and hot,
For making the favor more emphatic.
And when he touched on the extra space,
And ventured to hope it would meet the case
Of the housing problem, and quickly cure
The ills of Posen's deserving poor
Why, then on the actual men, it seems,
This strangely liberal move was lost,
You can take a Pole, as I understand,
THE "UTILITY MAN."
(And one man in his time plays many parts.)
There is a certain little town in the heart of the southern counties, which is called Five Oaks. The trees from which it takes its name stand in the centre of the town, and make a pleasant green shade, where one may sit through the long hot afternoons. There are houses placed around the green, but they have a deserted look, and, indeed, seem to sleep all day, and only wake up in the evenings, when the candles twinkle in the windows. For
the inhabitants of Five Oaks hide themselves in a mysterious fashion, and one may walk the length of the little town and see no one but a sleepy shopkeeper sunning himself upon his doorstep, or an old woman, who may sit and knit beneath the trees upon the green. And there are days when even these keep within doors, and there might not be a living soul in Five Oaks, for all one sees of them.
An uncle of mine had left me some