« VorigeDoorgaan »
the way of the old Southern life still lingering in Cincinnati, is considerable. But to most readers the characteristic feature of the book will be its satire on the social aspirations involved in the current quest for family portraits, coats of arms and genealogies. John Lane.
Robert W. Chambers is using Revolutionary New York as a background for his fiction almost as successfully as Mary Johnston uses Colonial Virginia, and his books are crowding hers close in the race for popular favor. This season's is a story of the year 1777, with the battle of Oriskany for its central event; Tryon County is again the scene; and Sir John Johnson with his Royal Rangers, Brant and his Indians, Jack Mount the outlaw, and other characters from "Cardigan" reappear. But, although the "The Maidat-Arms" shows the same rapidity of action joined to exuberance of detail which marked its predecessor, the feminine influence is in the ascendant now, and romance gains on adventure. The writer's historical information, too, with which "Cardigan" was a trifle over-burdened, is here held more in reserve, so that the second of the pair is even more readable than the first. Harper & Bros.
Professor George E. Woodberry's volume on "Nathaniel Hawthorne" in the "American Men of Letters" series, (Houghton, Mifflin & Co.) is a biography, a character study and a literary appreciation, all in one. It is written sympathetically, yet with critical acumen; and it presents an admirable picture of the man and the romancer. Hawthorne's shy but fascinating personality has now receded far enough to admit of a more just estimate of his literary qualities than was possible to his immediate contemporaries. Such biographical memorials or studies of
Hawthorne as we have had hitherto have come almost wholly from within the family circle, from the pens of his son, his daughter and his son-in-law. Professor Woodberry writes at a distance of time and with a freedom from personal feeling which, if they make his sketch less vivid, also give it a less partial coloring. Just enough is given of Hawthorne's external life, in Salem, in Concord, among the Berkshire hills, and abroad to form a setting for an extremely well-considered study of those subtle but enduring qualities which ensure for him a permanent place in literature.
Two women and the man whom they both love-one secretly, out of deference to the schemes of a match-making aunt, the other openly, in spite of his obvious preference for her friendthese are the central figures in Henry James's new novel, "The Wings of a Dove." Not a study in race types, though one heroine is English and the other American; not especially rich in local color, though London is the scene of the first volume and Venice of the second; not a social satire, though Milly Theale's wealth is really the pivot of the plot-the book is from beginning to end a masterly, merciless analysis of human temperaments and wills, interacting under the impulse of ambition, pity, passion or love. The difficulties of Mr. James's style once taken for granted, the story becomes one of intense and tragic interest, the entire absence of incident making the power of the portraiture the more overwhelming; and the reader pays to the author the final tribute of believing in characters whose motives he is sometimes far enough himself from fathoming. By creative work of this order Mr. James again reaffirms his right to a leadership almost unrivalled among living English novelists. Charles Scribner's Sons.
We have now to approach the ques- and of theirs. This is the work of that tion of Immortality from the philo- branch of Metaphysics known as Resophic standpoint. Our aim, accepting ligious Philosophy. To enter upon it as correct the scientific presentation of as we are doing directly from scientific natural facts, is to penetrate if possible considerations, is to necessitate certain their inner significance. But here, as initial assumptions:ever, we must tread cautiously. As
(1) That the universe of being, as we saw in a previous essay, there can
Science knows it, has a Ground and be no reliable metaphysics without re
Source beyond itself, transcending liable physics, and under the latter
therefore Space and Time; head our knowledge is constantly (2) That the human mind is so congrowing, our mental standpoint shift- stituted that it is able to some extent
to apprehend this Ground and Source, ing, old theories making way for new. This is all in the line of progress and
consequently itself also partially to
transcend Space and Time. development, but it means that the difficulties of interpretation are great. Under the second head we may reThe last word of Science has not been
mark that this capacity in man for said, never will be said while man con- transcending Space and Time is a mattinues to enquire and to learn; and so ter of common, every-day experience. long as it has not been said the last
Memory oversteps these limits; Imagword of philosophy cannot be said ination does so; Sympathy does so; Abeither. The latter, moreover, covers stract thought does so. The old man an enormously wide field, which we who "lives in the past," the young man cannot here attempt even to delimit. who "lives in the future," the mother Our efforts must be strictly circum- who lives in the lives of her (perhaps scribed. Our aim is to arrive at the absent) children, the scholar or the metaphysical significance with regard mathematician who in abstruse study to man of certain recognized facts in or calculation loses the sense of durathe physical universe, to ascertain tion and of material surroundings, what relation they bear not to the sci- these each and all mentally transcend entific aspect of that universe, to space Time and Space. Physically they are and time and the intellect of man, but bound-in mind they are free. to the Ground and Source of his being There is another and more funda
mental illustration of the same truth. pf, the whole into which the past, presMan's power of blending his experi.
ent and future of that individual lite ence into a whole implies the power of
(2) In regard of our whole individual transcending Time. Were he indeed
life, as contrasted with the life of our altogether limited by it, he could be
social environment and the life of manconscious only of succession, one thing kind in general; after another, one event after another, (3) In regard of the life of mankind in one experience after another; he could general (of which our own is a constitunot unite all those events and experi.
ent part,) as contrasted with the whole
cosmic process as we know it; ences into one, and make of them “My
(4) In regard of that cosmic process life." That he can and does do so is
itself, the whole visible temporal order evidence that he is greater than Time, of things, (more or less crudely conand not altogether under its compul- ceived according to the stage of intelsions. Nor is this the case with regard to
lectual culture and development at. individual man alone. That he can be
tained), as contrasted with an eternal
invisible order which conditions and conscious of a whole in history, in the transcends, while it includes, the temhistory of his own race and in that of
poral. the Cosmos, is due to the same timetranscending power. Similar remarks
It is hardly necessary to observe that apply in their measure to Space. That
we are not always giving attention to man can perceive not the mere fact of these contrasts. They are often outside juxtaposition, but the blending of
the actual field of consciousness, lying many juxta positions into a whole, that
as it were latent in our minds, yet ever Space is to him unifying, shows that there, ready at any moment to spring he bends it (mentally) to his own pur
into full view, always more or less af
unconposes. It is not his master. And for fecting, though it may be
mental attitude at any our present purpose it matters nothing sciously, our how, through what stages of temporal
given moment. The very fact, so often development, man acquires this unity. insisted upon by ethical and religious ing peculiarity of his mental constitu- teachers, of the transitory nature of all tion. The central fact for Philosophy earthly experience, is only intelligible is that he possesses it: that whatever
to them and to us because contrasted physical and psychological processes,
with a sense of abidingness equally discovered and classified by Science, present. We should not know that "the have from her point of view brought world passeth away" unless we were about this result, the result is there
conscious that something, not the and is significant.
world, “abideth forever." A further important point to notice
The time-transcending capacity in in the present connection is that in uni.
man has been thus insisted upon, befying we also distinguish, as is shown
cause the conception we form of our by our always setting our present life,
relation to Time and to Eternity must the life which we are living at the mo
very largely affect our idea of individment, over against a larger and more
ual human life. If we regard the latter comprehensive life, in which that mo
as being now wholly subordinated to ment is included, yet from which it is temporal conditions, we place an enordistinct. We do this in four ways:
mous difficulty in the way of any rea
sonable belief in its persistence after (1) In regard of any present moment
death, a difficulty which, were it real, in our individual life, such moment would need to be candidly allowed and standing out over against, yet as part seriously confronted. Since a little reflection shows us, on the contrary, that tion in man, in whom alone that conour time limitation is but partial, this sciousness is so fully developed as to fact must equally be taken into ac- confer upon him the dignity of personcount in our effort to probe the mean- ality. And here for the first time the ing of human individuality. To this full scope of individual being appears effort we now address ourselves.
to dawn upon us.
It is such that no When considering the subject from other characteristic can obscure or dithe scientific point of view, we saw minish its reach, which on the contrary that though individuality is far more widens from the apparently superficial emphasized in man than elsewhere in distinction between one stone and anNature, yet it is characteristic not only other, or one blade of grass and anof all organic beings but of the inor- other, to include all the vast yet deliganic universe as well, that in fact the cate differences between one human whole Cosmos bears the stamp of indi- being and another of the same age, viduality, i.e., of uniqueness. It is such nationality, social status and culture. that it is completely and definitely dis- Individuality is not swamped in, but tinguished from all possible or conceiv- extraordinarily enhanced by personalable other orders that might have come ity. The importance of this fact in coninto existence. Its very possibilities nection with our present subject beare conditioned by the kind of universe comes apparent when we recall the which it is: they could not be otherwise tendency of much modern Philosophic unless it were otherwise. When, leav- thought to regard finite persons as ing the inorganic universe, we turn to evanescent manifestations of an Infin. organic life, we find that individuality ite Personality which at the same time tends to become what we may perhaps transcends and includes them in term increasingly spontaneous. In- which they so entirely live and move stead of being as it were stamped upon and have their being that they are to each organism, as a hall-mark upon it as waves upon the surface of a silver, the organism appears rather to boundless deep, momentarily appearing develop its own individuality in its only to disappear again. own way, strictly limited, of course, by The recognition of self-conscious the organic division to which it be- mind as the ground of being is characlongs, yet within these limits having teristic of that form of Philosophy so much of free play as to enable it known as Idealism. Without going into (very markedly among the higher ani. an argument which to specialists would mals) to develop certain idiosyncrasies be superfluous, and to the general of its own, difficult if not impossible reader essentially tedious and difficult to define, which yet distinguish it from of comprehension, we may perhaps oball members of the same species. serve that it becomes increasingly hard Among the higher animals at any rate to look upon any other ground as ade. there is the further power of each in- quate. dividual knowing itself to be such. A We have seen that even in man mind dog is not at all confused about his is able to some extent to transcend own individuality. How far down the temporal limits. But man is finite, that scale of animal life this capacity ex- is, partial: he is under restriction. Es. tends it would be very difficult to say. sential mind, mind unlimited, mind Possibly it exists in a rudimentary apart from any finite manifestation of form wherever there is sentiency, but it, would be above all time-limitations; it increases with the approach of self- would be what we mean by eternal, consciousness, and reaches its culmina- infinite. Time and the temporal would