« VorigeDoorgaan »
something firm if I am falling;” and the must accept some parts of her creed, have eloquent gesture with which she grasped promised in gold and paid in lead. the mantelpiece as she spoke, remains in But we cannot bid her farewell with the memory as the expression of a sort of words of divergence. She has quickened transmuted prayer. And now the look life as much as any of those who have and the tones recur not only as one of the rendered it more turbid; she has purified most valued passages in a valued chapter it as much as many who have arrested or of memory, but as a sort of gathering up, slackened its flow. It is a solemn thought in a noble but inutilated aspiration, of the that such an one has passed away — so ideal given by a lofty genius to the world. solemn that the debt of a large individual What the many felt in her writings was gratitude seems to disappear in the comthe glow of this desire, what they missed mon emotion which it but intensifies and was its mutilation. We have often wished typifies. Her death unites us as her life that the latter had been more distinct. did, perhaps even more, for we listened Her detaching influence from the true an- to her voice with various feelings, and chorage of humanity would have been less there is only one with which we learn potent, we think, had it been received that it has ceased forever. consciously. There was no lack of dis
ONE WHO KNEW HER. tinctness in it, at all events, to her hearers. Perhaps there may be some to whom these works have brought nothing but the glow of an emotion to which their own mind supplied the hidden belief which to
From The Spectator. them could alone justify it. But on the
THE GREAT SNOWSTORM OF LONDON. whole we cannot doubt that her convic
January 28th, 1911. tions cut through this sheath of emotion, MY DEAR SON, — I do not wonder at and made their keen edge felt on many a your interest in the great snow-storm of mind and many a heart.
1881. It is now almost forgotten, but it Can genius be indeed the barren and was the nearest approach to a cataclysm desolate eminence which we must con- in English history that has ever occurred sider it if they alone to whom it is granted from any natural cause; and even at this have no object for reverence ? Can it be distance of time, it is with a certain that the ordinary mass of average man. shrinking that I recall the memories of kind — the stupid, animal, indolent crowd that month. London was partially iso
have exercise for this elevating faculty lated for two weeks, and completely isowhenever they list their eyes, and that all lated for two more, and might in another who soar into a purer region must look ten days have been depopulated. The downward when they would find anything snow began to fall on Tuesday, January to love? We know well how George 18th, 1881, and continued falling with Eliot would have answered the question fury for three days, accompanied by viowith her lips. But with her life, and still lent winds, which heaped it together in more in her death, she gives us a different every railway cutting, broad street, or answer. They who occupy the mountain space open enough to allow of heavy peaks of human thought may preach to drifts. When the Londoners who bad us that these mountain peaks are all, and kept indoors while the storm lasted ven. then, in their potent imagination, make tured out, they found four solid feet of the immensity of the plain below a sub. snow everywhere, and in all drifts from stitute for the superior heights that they ten to fourteen feet, while the thermomealone lack. But all our instincts tell us ter fell to 16°, and steadily remained that goodness and power would become there. By great exertions the pathways misfortunes if they lifted man into a re- and a narrow way in each street were gion where he had nothing above him. cleared, and as all traffic, except that of The bereavement which we feel as one sheer necessity, was suspended, this and another depart from us cannot be proved sufficient, and little alarm was felt, the abiding portion of those who have though prices began from the first to enriched their kind. “Fame promises in ascend rapidly. Seven days afterwards, gold and pays in silver," said George however on January 25th - another se. Eliot once to the present writer. Not vere fall occurred, undoing much that had fame alone, but that lofty hope, that in- been done; and on February ist another, spirer of ardent effort, which confers the which finished the work, and completely power to despise fame — though it often isolated London. The Thames was frozen also confers fame itselt — wonld, if we too thickly for ships to come up, the rail
way managers gave up the effort to send tables was bearable, though severely felt; trains, foot-passage was out of the ques. but now milk, which had grown scarce tion, and, except an occasional sledge, and dear, suddenly disappeared. There driven with soine danger on account of was no more milk, fresh or condensed, the great gaps and unevenness caused by and the children began to suffer. The the pressure of the wind, London was supply of fish had ended from the first, isolated like a village from the provinces Billingsgate being emptied in twenty-four and the world. The energy shown in hours; and the demand for meat became clearances was not at first extreme, every so sharp and the price so high, that the traffic manager believing that next day remaining cows were slaughtered for their would see a thaw, and afterwards the re- flesh. The butchers began to sell horsenewed falls of snow made movement for flesh, at first secretly, then openly; bread heavy convoys, except by tunnelling, im- went up to the highest price recorded possible. From first to last the railways 15. 6d. the quartern loaf - a price the were rather torpid, partly and chiefly poorer laborers could not pay; and on from the influence of a never-dying hope the fifteenth day the government, warned - a long obstruction from snow being by some dangerous bread-riots, by a rapid nearly unknown — but partly also from rise in the death-rate, and by the reports reluctance to expend money on the enor- from the workhouses, took, under sanction mous scale required. At the very last of Parliament, two great steps. They exthe government engaged armies of labor- propriated all remaining food, taking it ers, and executed some extraordinary into their own possession ; and they took though useless works; but before that, two hundred and fifty thousand men into things had come to a very bad pass in their employ, at 6s. a day, partly as disdeed.
tributors, partly as police. Money had A nation of three millions of men, not lost its value, for every one expected growing and producing nothing in the an end to the frost, the strongest men in way of food, was shut up on twelve square London were out of work, and the edumiles of stony ground. At first there cated volunteered as inspectors in thou; was little alarm, for the resources of Lon- sands. Armed with short clubs, and don were believed to be boundless, but placed in uniform by a simple order to on the thirteenth day an old merchant wear a second shirt over their clothes, published a note of warning: He showed with a handkerchief for belt, these conthat very little provisions had come in stables preserved the peace, and so far as since the storm, and that the tendency of labor could avail, alleviated the growing trade for years had been to make the misery, which soon became extreme. At food-stocks in London low. Storage was first, bread and portions of cooked horsedear, competition sharp, and capital valu- flesh were distributed, then bread alone able, while the regular means of commu- in thinly baked cakes, and then, at last, nication worked with as little friction and an indigestible paste of half-boiled flour, as few interruptions as the great bodies for a greater misfortune than all had overin space, or the works of a finely-made taken London. chronometer. Any dealer could obtain The means of cooking, of supplying any supply of any article from the country light, and of making fires all failed togethor the ports within twelve hours. The er. The supply of water never quite distributors, therefore, lived from hand to stopped till the last day, for the ground mouth, importing from outside at the ut- and the deep pipes froze slowly, and two most a fortnight's stock, and this, though mighty hydrants fed wooden aqueducts for partially resupplied, had been heavily de- two hours a day from the remaining unpleted. Already the supply of fresh vege-frozen water in the Thames. The time, tables, potatoes excepted, was at an end, and energy, and health of all women in and the potatoes would only last three London were exhausted in getting water; days more. He recommended, therefore, all sanitary arrangements collapsed, and that government should appropriate all nothing emerged from the unflushed sewprovisions, and that London should be ers, but still no terrible thirst was en. rationed like Paris in the great siege of countered, except by individuals, till the 1870. The editor who published the let- last few hours; but there was no fuel or ter ridiculed this plan, as contrary to polit- light. Very early in the frost the oil gave ical economy, and his readers smiled; but out, the supply, even at tripled rates, not there was an uneasiness from that mo- being sufficient for ten days; the very ment in the public mind, which speedily small stock of wood for firing was burnt deepened into panic. The loss of vege- I up, and the coal rose to prices — Sos. a
- utterly beyond the means of the disposal of the dead, under frozen snow, poor. The gas companies first lowered in places where they would not produce their pressure, till their lights were almost pestilence, become a terrible preoccupauseless, and then knocked off all private tion. Burial, except in the snow, was supplies, and finally ceased working alto- soon given up, and later on even removal, gether. Of candles -the use of which so that government, when the snow vanhad much diminished — the stock did not ished, was obliged to keep on its army of last six days. The government appropri- white-shirts for a week, only to bury the ated all remaining fuel for cooking, but dead. The children went first, poor cooking even once a day for three mil. things ! deprived of milk, and sugar, and lions of people is a tremendous undertak-cooked meal; then the old, already half. ing. The stock got lower and lower, and dead from the frost; then the weaker on the twenty-third day it was announced men, then the drinking men, and finally that only raw food could be given out. the women, whose patience and compara. There was no more firing to be obtained; tive exemption from the effects of alcohol the stocks in private lands were all gone. had at first seemed to give them strength. The government took all it could, and on the cold, though not too bad to bear, the this point, the equal distribution of firing, hunger which was not quite starvation, the the feeling of the multitude was so pro- unaccustomed want of necessaries, found nounced and so shared by the white out in every one some weak place. The shirted police, that it was impossible to people had plenty of clothes, they soon guard private property. Every house knew the warmth that second, or third, or suspected of coal or wood for fires was fourth shirts will give — the practice of visited, and it was during these visits that the northern Chinese - and they were what of disorder there was - and it was not frozen; but they died, died in heaps not comparatively very much — occurred. every day. By the fifteenth day the The people were not bad-tempered, rather average was two thousand, then three dogged, and patient of everything except thousand, then five thousand, and then it the concealment of fuel, and the bâtoned leaped on the twentieth day to twenty police made but short work of any thief. thousand. In the last ten days, when At last the last stores dwindled away, and cooked food was unprocurable, and there food was issued uncooked. Then the was neither fire nor artificial light procurcourage and stolid patience of the people, able in London, there perished two hun. always disinclined to murmur at any act dred thousand human beings, an awful visibly one of Providence, began to give number, yet not seven percent of the popuway. They grew nervous, impatient, and lation of the great city, Of these more superstitious. Parliament was beset by than two-thirds were children. It was calcrowds clamoring for unattainable fire. culated afterwards that half the children The churches were filled with never-end- under eight perished, and it was this moring relays of revivalists, not praying, but tality, with its special pain and horror, lamenting the sins of London ; and shock. which so fixed the snowstorm in the minds ing scenes of hysteria were enacted, side of English-speaking men. The death-rate by side with services of piety and suppli. of London was permanently altered for ten cation. Monstrous schemes for pulling years, the generation which had passed down London to burn the timbers were through this trial losing much of its openly broached. The people, worn with strength, and being ever after liable to the cold, the excitement, and the low ra- slaughter under a low thermometer, or a tions, began to be wild with hunger, and rush of catarrh. I do not remember felt an unconquerable disgust for the un- many murders. The people were sullen cooked food. Hundreds became deliri. and submissive, rather than furious ; the
Thousands wandered on the verge white-shirts were effective, all suffered of delirium, seeking food long since con- alike, and no one at first could give up sumed. The majority were patient, and hope that a few hours might bring relief. lay in their beds, or huddled together, when at last the relief came - the thaw reading the small hand-pressed sheets - it came rapidly, the thermometer rising which did duty for newspapers, and which to 48°, and though there was much suí. were full of scientific or wild calculations fering for many days — for the work of about weather, reports of horrible occur- distribution, especially distribution of rences, and, above all, explanations of the coal, to three millions of people was ex death-returns. These returns were pub- cessive, and occupied many days — still, lished daily after the first fortnight, and ordinary life at once recommenced, and in they mounted, mounted, mounted, till the a few weeks all suffering, save the loss of
children, was forgotten. The literature | the weak and inexperienced Chung How, of the storm, at one time enormous, can at Livadia in 1879, was a reverse. Roth now only be studied in the British Mu. in form and in substance Russia now conseum, and but two permanent relics of cedes all the points for which China conthe sad time remain. The government tended, and the concession is rendered the still keep together the nucleus of the vol. more valuable because attained without unteer police, the white-uniformed patrol, the cost and risk of war. The justice of who are now the universal intermediaries China's claim to the whole of the province between the people and the police, who of Kuldja is admitted, and the whole of are to be found at every intersection of that province, with the exception of a the more central streets, and who gather small district — one-twentieth of the size to a signal whenever the regular police of the whole — in the north-western porneed help; and there is a covered line of tion of this territory, is to be handed over rails to Gravesend, so built that it cannot to the Chinese. At the same time, China be interrupted by snow, and can, there has successfully maintained the position fore, bring coal and oil, and if needful, her representatives took up, to the effect even corn, from all open ports. So great that she was not liable to Russia for comwere the sufferings from uncooked food, pensation for the loss of a province to that direct grants in aid of this sewer rail. which the latter had no right; but, as an way were voted by Parliament and the act of friendship to a neighbor, she conextinct Metropolitan Board without resist. sents to pay a moderate sum, on the carance; and the line is now one of the rying out of the terms of the treaty: most valuable arteries of the kingdom, There are other conditions, relating to carrying at a slow rate the great mass of trade, which wear an aspect of conceding heavy imports from the sea to London. various minor points to Russia; but ChiYours
nese concessions in commercial matters which are at their complete disposal are, to say the least, of very problematical value. There can be little doubt, there
fore, that the Chinese have got much the
From The Spectator. best of this bargain, and that the recovery THE NEW TREATY BETWEEN RUSSIA AND of Kuldja, which will mark the completion
of their recent campaigns in central Asia, The treaty concluded a few weeks ago must vastly increase their already great at St. Petersburg, and ratified by tele. reputation, and produce a profound effect graph from Pekin, promises to furnish a among all the peoples of northern Asia. settlement of the difficulty which has been The settlement of this question in a long pending between Russia and China. manner altogether satisfactory to the ChiOf course, everything will depend upon nese will remove the immediate causes of the full and proper execution of the difference between Russia and China, and clauses of this treaty, but, should they be it is not likely that either country will complied with in an honorable manner, proceed recklessly to renew then, either we may with some degree of confidence on the same scene, or elsewhere along assume that the war-cloud which has so their extensive frontier line. With the long hung suspended over northern Asia, recovery of lli or Kuldja, we are conwhere the Russians and the Chinese have vinced that the Chinese will rest satisfied stood for three years on the verge of a with what they have accomplished in cenconflict, is dispelled; and also that it is tral Asia, nor is it at all probable that they unlikely to return, at least for some time. will go out of their way to raise fresh If we assume this much with confidence, difficulties in the Amour region or on the it is simply because both the Chinese frontiers of Manchuria. There are far government and people are likely to rest too many important topics elsewhere satisfied with the terms, as revealed, of which promise, if successfully grappled. this treaty. Everything the Pekin au: with, to produce greater advantages, for thorities have demanded, and a great deal us to suppose that the most practical peo. more than they expected to obtain with. ple in the world will prefer to devote all out a war, is obtained by this stroke of iheir attention to barren and unprofitable diplomacy, supported by the influence of undertakings in the deserts and wild a multitudinous people, as determined as steppe-land of the region west and north ants. This treaty, negotiated by the of the Desert of Gobi. We must turn to Marquis Tseng, is as much a triumph for quarters in which we ourselves are more Chinese diplomacy as that concluded by immediately concerned, if we wish to
perceive the probable consequences of position of the imperial uncles at the the satisfactory termination of the wars council-board, must indefinitely increase which have been recently waged, and the chances of the complete and unqualiwhich have raised the Chinese empire to fied triumpla of the war party in the adas high a point of power as it held under ministration. What that will mean may the greatest of its rulers in the past. In to some extent be seen from the manner an over-anxiety to discover in the growing in which the Kuldja, difficulty has been power of the Chinese an auxiliary likely to resolutely pushed on to a settlement. We operate with us, or at all events for us, may safely suppose that the same perti. against Russia, many have overlooked the nacity, indifference to consequences, and facts that there is little real good-feeling dogged determination will be evinced in between England and China, and that no the discussion of other similar questions, two neighbors in the world have more Apart from its military aspect and the causes of strife, dormant for the moment, traditional obligation to avenge a defeat, yet plainly visible, between them, than are the Kuldja question was a small one in the now barring the way to that "natural alli- eyes of the Chinese, in comparison with ance" between ourselves and the Chinese, those in which we are more immediately about which so much has been rashly said concerned. For there can be no doubt during the last few years. We have often that the one subject which engrosses most reverted to these latent dangers in these of the attention of the Pekin authorities columns, and they should, but that Chi- is the opium question, the basis, in Chi. nese politics are tabooed at Simla, occa- nese eyes, of all relations with this coun. sionally occupy the mind of the Anglo- try. The Chinese government would Indian statesman. Every day serves to like, as a counsel of perfection, to put bring them more clearly before us, and a down the use of opium, both native and pacific solution of the difficulty with Rus- foreign, with a strong hand; but as a pracsia removes the only circumstance that tical administration, it wants to make was likely to arrest the discussion and money out of the practice of opium-eating. attempted settlement of the questions By the imposition of a fresh import tax, which the Chinese are convinced have yet and of dues for the right to convey opium to be arranged with the British govern- from the seaports to the interior, or from ment.
one province to another, the Chinese Before that problem presents itself in a could greatly limit its use; or, which they practical shape — and it may not be very desire much more, they could add a very long before it does so the question of large sum annually to their revenue. which party is to be supreme at Pekin Their English adviser, Mr. Hart, would will have to be decided, one way or the supply them with details on this latter other. This new treaty, which affords a point that would have a very persuasive complete vindication of their views, and tendency. Whichever course they pursue, of their emphatic objections to Chung it may be taken for certain that, as soon How's concessions, must be followed by as Russia carries out the stipulations of a great accession of moral strength to the this treaty, and when the contest for so-called war party, headed by the impe- power at Pekin has been decided, the rial princes; and at this very moment, the Chinese government will devote all its arrival of Tso Tsung Tang from his five vigor and attention to the attainment of a years' campaigning beyond Kansuh is solution satisfactory to itself of the opium announced. He had, some weeks ago, question. It will insist on a Chinese reached a town in the province of Shensi, interpretation of the agreement of Chee. and was expected to make his entrance foo. into Pekin early in the New Year, the The prospect thus raised is of the gravgreatest of Chinese festivals. His ap- est kind for the immediate future of inpearance on the scene will probably bring dia. The growth of Chinese power is a to a climax the contest that has now been fact of as much significance for us as it going on for several years, and if he fails has proved to be for Russia, and it would to secure the triumph of bis side, it will be foolish to suppose that the Chinese be a reversal of all the accepted laws in will show different qualities in dealing human affairs. That he will not fail, if with us to those they have evinced in the simply because generals with the popular case of their northern neighbor. The reputation of Tso never fail, may be ac- subject cannot be lightly dismissed, for cepted as morally certain ; and his return China possesses the military strength in to Pekin, added to the advancing age of central Asia and Tibet to make herself the boy emperor, and the already assured | very troublesome on our northern Indian