« НазадПродовжити »
became intelligible to him, he And as the day waned and the began to understand its desires twilight descended, bringing with and its life.
it rest and quiet to the beasts of Whispered words of malice earth and the flowers of nature, penetrated his ear-private conver- there came no peace to the absorbed sations in which evil plottings were listener. Instead of quiet came a divulged-cries of pain and shame more confused noise; and the from out the seething slums of author's face grew agonised as he the city—the shoutings of reckless heard. and ungoverned mobs. These “Oh, Heavens !” he cried out at sounds all mingled in his ears, and last, raising his own voice amid the filled his mind with chaos. Utter- yells and cries and murmurings ances which were elegant in form which ceaselessly sounded around and happy in expression-yet him ; "oh, Heavens, in mercy close carried a sting of cruelty and my ears! No longer can I unkindness within them-floated endure!” from out of drawing rooms and He cast himself upon his couch entered softly into his conscious. in a passion of horror, and his wish ness; and almost ere he had brought its fulfilment. A great grasped their meaning they were silence fell upon him. The world succeeded by the inarticulate cries was still. No longer did the voices of drunken quarrellers or the from the houses and streets enter muffied complaints of prisoners. his chamber. The silence came but
And, most horrible of all to the just in time. sensitive soul of the author, there “Another moment and I must came to him now and then a half have gone mad,” he said to himself, familiar voice. The man whom rising and leaning from the winyesterday he had seen giving away dow, that he might again feel the the theatre ticket to-day revealed sweet air and reassure himself of the hideousness of selfish deeds the existence of the silent sky, which he masked-to himself as But soon he started back and went well as to others-by small and to his table. showy acts of grace. The women “I will write,” he cried, “while he heard brawling in fierce and the madness is still on me. Men unwomanly fashion; the specu- shall behold the foulness of their lators he heard raise their voices in own hearts if my pen is strong keen altercation or lower them in enough to show it to them.” hypocritical amiability, or in the Through the long night he wrote, intensity of the passion of money- words that might have been getting-mingling with these came written in tears or blood for the the harsh voice of the man who hid deep sadness that was in them; himself within the shadow ; it rose for many another night he wrote above the others, and all the hate until at length he had relieved his fulness of his crime was laid bare soul of its horror, and shaken from before the aghast and sickened himself the fever of other men's listener. The foul story was inter- lives. rupted by a shrill wail of momen- He sent out his work to the tary but vivid sorrow: the pretty world, while he himself remained child, whose voice should have no shut in his solitary room. tones but those of sweetness and But not for long. He was delight, lifted up the cry of babyish visited, aroused, besieged. In a and passionate grief.
word, he was famous.
“ This fanciful author," wrote in answer to their words of congrathe critics, “has at last given us tulation. something real, strong, and life. No longer was the author lonely, like," and they went to see him, unknown, or poor. and found a man who smiled dimly He had succeeded!
ESSENCE OF MEMORY.
A SINGULAR speculation has been opened by a follower in the wake of the recorded observations-not the theories — of Darwin and Carpenter. Knowing nothing, as he avers, of science, he has but allowed his “metaphysic wit” to fly over certain small facts of life; and the result is a cluster of plausible theories and deductions which have at least the merit, if it be in anywise a merit, of novelty
We can only afford to give in a very sketchy and imperfect manner a chain of reasoning such as the author of “ Erewhon ”presents to us in his present very bizarre work.*
The amoeba is about the simplest type of animal known, a minute mass of living jelly; yet the jelly speck can extemporise a stomach by wrapping its soft body round a nutritive particle, and a foot by the projection of its protoplasmic substance. Dr. Carpenter observes as cited in the work before us: “ Suppose a human mason to be put down by the side of a pile of stones of various shapes and sizes, and to be told to build a dome of these, smooth on both surfaces, without using more than the least possible quantity of a very tena. cious, but very costly, cement, in holding the stones together. If he accomplished this well, he would receive credit for great intelligence and skill. Yet this is exactly what these little "jelly specks' do on a
most minute scale ; the 'tests' they construct, when highly magnified, bearing comparison with the most skilful masonry of man. From the same sandy bottom one species picks up the coarser quartz grains, cements them together with phosphate of iron secreted from its own substance” should not this rather be (says Mr. Butler), “which it has contrived in some way or other to manufacture” ?) and thus constructs a flask-shaped 'test,'having a short neck and a large single orifice. Another picks up the finest grains, and puts them together, with the same cement, into perfectly spherical 'tests' of the most extraordinary finish, perforated with numerous small pores disposed at pretty regular intervals. Another selects the minutest sand grains and the terminal portions of sponge spicules, and works them up together-apparently with no cement at all, by the mere laying of the spicules—into perfect white spheres, like homeopathic globules, each having a single-fissured ori. fice. And another, which makes a straight, many-chambered 'test,' that resembles in form the cham. bered shell of an orthoceratitethe conical mouth of each chamber projecting into the cavity of the next-while forming the walls of its chambers of ordinary sand grains rather loosely held together, shapes the conical mouth of the successive chambers by firmly
* Life and Habit. By Samuel Butler. London: Trübner, 1878.
cementing together grains of writer will form several hundred ferruginous quartz, which it must letters, and be able to think and talk have picked out from the general of something else all the time he is mass.'
doing so. He will not probably So much for the unconscious and remember the formation of a single yet wonderful action of this atomy. character in any page that he has We human folk act with an appa- written; nor will he be able to give rent unconsciousness in many more than the substance of his things—to wit, in those in which writing if asked to do so. He we have had most practice, and in knows how to form each letter so which, as Mr. Butler would put it, well, and he knows so well each we have by that means “ got past word that he is about to write, that thought.” A consummate player he has ceased to be conscious of on the piano, for instance, in the his knowledge or to notice his acts quasi - unconsciousness of habit of volition, each one of which is, resulting from constant practice, nevertheless, followed by a correwill strike four or five thousand sponding muscular action. Yet notes in four or five minutes. This the uniformity of our handwriting, he will do accurately, and yet and the manner in which we almost think and talk at the same time, invariably adhere to one method his attention being engaged upon of forming the same character, thousands of minute points, in would seem to suggest that during any one of which a mistake might the momentary formation of each be made.
letter our memories must revert That the faculty is so developed (with an intensity too rapid for as to have passed into the domain our perception) to many if not to of unconsciousness may be thus all the occasions on which we have proved. If the player be made ever written the same letter preconscious by anyone's disturbing viously—the memory of these occahim and then desiring him to start sions dwelling in our minds as again, he is put out, and may have what has been called a residuum to begin a difficult passage, which an unconsciously struck balance he was performing swimmingly in or average of them all—a fused his unconsciousness of effort, over mass of individual reminiscences again in order to catch the rhythm of which no trace can be found in from the first.
our consciousness, and of which “In fact, it seems as though he the only effect would seem to lie in knew the piece too well to be able the gradual changes of handwriting to know that he knows it, and is which are perceptible in most only conscious of knowing those people till they have reached passages which he does not know middle age, and sometimes even so thoroughly.”
later. So far are we from conWhen the performance is con- sciously remembering any one of cluded any portion of it may be the occasions on which we have repeated; but it would require an written such and such a letter, effort-indeed, would be almost an that we are not even conscious of impossibility-to recall, or rather exercising our memory at all, any produce a consciousness of the more than we are in health coneffort that resulted in the produc scious of the action of our heart. tion of any given note.
But, if we are writing in some In writing “the formation of each unfamiliar way, as when printing letter requires attention and voli. our letters instead of writing them tion, yet in a few minutes a practised in our usual running hand, our memory is so far awakened that cesses, such as the dome building we become conscious of every of the amoeba ! character we form; sometimes it is The little atomy presumably does even perceptible as memory to our its work with such marvellous perselves, as when we try to remem- fection and unconsciousness of ber how to print some letter, for effort, because it knows so well example a 'g,' and cannot call to how to do it. mind on which side of the upper When we do not know well that half of the letter we ought to put on which we are engaged, there the link which connects it with the arrives a painful consciousness of lower, and are successful in remem- its details. When we are only a bering ; but if we become very con growing cell, we are untroubled scious of remembering, it shows by such consciousness of effort. that we are on the brink of only “Birth is but the beginning of trying to remember—that is to doubt, the first hankering after say, of not remembering at all.” scepticism, the dreaming of a dawn
Other instances are to be found of trouble, the end of certainty in reading, walking, swimming, and of settled convictions. Not talking, and also in calculation. but what before birth there have In the last-named province we can been unsettled convictions (more's support the theory from experience. the pity) with not a few, and after Our first additions of long columns birth we have still so made up our were laboriously made, with a minds upon many points as to have consciousness of each figure. After no further need of reflection consome practice we learned to per cerning them; nevertheless, in the form the same process with so little main, birth is the end of that time consciousness of it, and so little when we really knew our business, appreciation of each individual and the beginning of the days figure, that we could think plea wherein we know not what we santly at the time the pencil and would do, or do. It is therefore the eye were passing up and down the beginning of consciousness, the column in the process of addi. and infancy is as the dosing of one tion. A friend whom we consulted as who turns in his bed on waking, to the metaphysics of such a mat and takes another short sleep ter said that the thoughts slipped before he rises." in between the interstices of the Again, “A chicken is never so full figures. Our own theory was that of activity, reasoning faculty, and the practice had helped to form a volition as when it is an embryo mechanical part of the brain fit to in the eggshell, making bones, and have a matter like addition rele- flesh, and feathers, and eyes, and gated to it.
claws, with nothing but a little Mr. Butler would have it that warmth and white of egg to make the instinctive or mechanical life them from. This is indeed to make is the attainment of an aristocratic bricks with but a small modicum of unconscious ease which far tran- straw. There is no man in the scends imperfect and conscious whole world who knows consciously effort.
and articulately as much as a halfIt being proved that constant hatched hen's egg knows unconpractice leads to unconsciousness, sciously.” how long indeed must not have How are we to account for the been the practice of the creature of arrival at such unconsciousness ? 80-called instinct to enable it to Where is the primeval repetition of perform its almost infallible pro- effort: “The embryochicken would