« НазадПродовжити »
rather unmercifully; yet there is no trace of any studied or intentional want of fairness. The first part of the volume before us, comprising about one hundred and forty pages, discusses the vexed question of the credibility of miracles, and the part they play in the economy of revelation. The issue is not by any means a new one; but it has lately received additional force from the tendency of science, during a very recent period, to reduce the entire universe under the sway of unvarying and inexorable law. The old controversy regarding philosophical necessity has entered upon a new stage, and the free-will of God as well as of man is hopelessly fettered by the irrefragable bonds of natural law. Now the believer in Divine Revelation is utterly unable to conceive that the God he worships as omnipotent can be the slave of His own ordinances. When scientific men talk about the laws of nature, they mean a series of apparently invariable sequences, uniformly happening under given circumstances, so far as our limited experience reaches. So-called interruptions or transgressions of natural law might prove, if we were possessed of omniscience, to be no interruptions of law at all, and it would clearly seem that they only were miracles or wonders, and seemed antecedently incredible, because we know but little of the infinite variety of ways in which the Supreme Being works out His purposes. What seems abnormal and special to us in these events, may be, in the Divine plan, as regular as the rising and setting of the sun. Our author is very indignant at the expressions ‘unknown,' or higher' law, but they in reality express the measure of man's ignorance. The various cosinical theo. ries that have been devised to account for the earth and animated life upon it, are simply schemes to obviate the necessity of admitting the greatest miracle of all — that of creation. In his posthumous Essay on Theism (part iv.) Mr. J. S. Mill concedes this much in reference to miracles, as against Hume : 'It is evidently impossible to maintain that if a supernatural fact really occurs, proof of its occurrence cannot be accessible to the human faculties. The evidence of our senses could prove this as it can prove other things. To put the most extreme case: Suppose that I actually saw and heard a Being, either of the human form or of some form previously un
known to me, commanding a world to exist, and a new world actually starting into existence, and commencing a movement through space, at his command. There can be no doubt that this evidence would convert the creation of worlds from a speculation into a fact of experience.' Hence, according to Mr. Mill, clear and trustworthy evidence of the senses would at once overcome any amount of antecedent incredibility,' so that it is only for a lack of valid evidence that a miracle is to be rejected, whether it be walking upon the sea, a resurrection from the dead, or the creation of a world out of nothing. Without adequate testimony the 'antecedent incredibility of Hume' is everything ; with it the talisman vanishes away, unless we are prepared to assert that no amount of concordant testimony can prove any. thing contrary to previons inductions from a limited experience. The King of Siam, when ice was described to him, protested that it was utterly impossible that water should exist in a solid form ; and so far as his experience of fluids went, he was right. Are those who talk of natural law any more certain of the ground on which they stand, when they profess to sound with their little plummets the mysteries of God and of the Universe ?
Our author, perhaps with justice, protests against a tendency to eliminate from Christianity, with thoughtless dexterity, every supernatural element which does not quite accord with current opinion, and yet to ignore the fact that in so doing, ecclesiastical Christianity has practically been altogether abandoned.' It would be interesting to ascertain what sort of Christianity he himself cherishes. Is it the Gospel according to Strauss, to Mill, or to Matthew Arnold ? He makes strenuous efforts to undermine thecredit of the New Testament Scriptures, although he eulogizes the Master in words of warmer colouring than Mr. Mill used, in a celebrated passage in his Essay on Liberty. And why must 'every man who has a mind and a heart, love and honour the Bible,' and having neither be beyond the reach of persuasion,' if the sacred volume is based upon a mass of foolish superstitions or lying wonders ? It certainly will appear plain to most readers that if it is only when we are entitled to reject the theory of miraculous Divine Revelation that the Bible attains its full beauty,' dex E.cpurgatorius, Protestant or Catholic.
it would be infinitely fairer if those who think so would reject the Scriptures altogether. It is only the butcher who dilates upon the æsthetic value of a dismembered carcase, after all the life has been drained out of it. At any rate, who is to be the judge of what must be excised and what suffered to remain ? It is quite certain that Jesus professed to work miracles, and He is distinctly alleged, in Epistles of St. Paul admitted to be genuine and written prior to any of the extant Gospels, to have risen from the dead. Was he a deceiver in wonderworking, or were his disciples deceived when they positively expressed their belief in his resurrection ?
Now we are free to confess that Supernatural Religion proves distinctly that the Gospels, as we now have them, are the sole survivors of a number of similar narratives. The prologue to St. Luke's Gospel proves that beyond dispute. The doctrine of verbal inspiration is gone past remedy; but yet that is not the whole case. No fragment of a Gospel, whether that according to the Hebrews, or any other, has yet been found which contradicts, in their main features, the Gospels as we have them. There are omissions here, and additions there ; but in no single instance is there the slightest disagreement about the miracles of Christ or His resurrection. When we add to this the unquestionable doctrines of St. Paul about the Saviour, written within a brief interval of his death, critical and philological objections, however valid they may be as against a superstitious reverence for the letter, do not in any way touch the spirit of the New Testament. It is the former, however, which kills ; the latter which maketh alive and will always make itself manifest, as the living and vivifying force, latent or active, in Christianity. While we thus express dissent from some of our author's positions, we cannot too strongly recommend the candour which pervades even his prejudices. Au reste, his work is one which ought to be in the hands of every student of current opinion, whether orthodox or the reverse. The time has gone by for blinking the results of either scientific research or critical enquiry. If works like Supernatural Religion are to be successfully answered--and we are not clear that they can be to the extent that some may suppose—they must be read and tested frankly, not consigned to any In
The Monks of Thelema. By WALTER
BESANT and James RICE. Toronto :
What are we to say of this bright and interesting tale which has been running through our pages for some time past? And first, what are the duties of a critic called upon to criticise that in which he himself has an interest? Is he to unduly praise, sugar the honey, and hint that on this occasion the violet has really a super-added and altogether too exquisite perfume-don't you smell it now! Or is he to be brusquely honest and outspoken, affect an indifference, and run down that which he gladly sees others praise ? For our part, while we join in the usual laugh at the expense of the man who thinks his green geese are all swans, we cannot but consider such a harmless optimist as less of a fool than he who, being the happy possessor of a fine pair of swans, is impelled by modesty to declare them to be nothing but geese. There is a pleasant apologue among the 'Fables in Song' of the present Lord Lytton, which not inaptly illustrates our position. A haunted hen, so runs the tale (and really it seems sufficiently absurd for any reviewer to compare his Magazine to a hen, let alone haunted hen), is so alarmed at the chilly charm of a weasel's eye' which, not to put too fine a point upon it, comes after her eggs, that she dreams every night that she is turned into this identical weasel, pillages her own nest, and sucks her own eggs. Unfortunately this interferes with her internal economy so much that the supply of new-laid eggs is prematurely cut off. Then this miserable feathered biped experiences the most peculiarly poignant miseries. As a hen, she all day laments her egg-less condition; as a weasel, she every night, and all night, endures severe discontent
At finding no more any eggs to devour.'
The application is not far to seek, but the words in which the poet describes the anomalous position of him who is
both author and critic in one' are too neat to be altered.
By alternate creative aud critical powers
is our suffering identity sunder'd and torn ; And the tooth of the critic that's in us, devours Half the author's conceptions before they are
born.' What could be more appropriate! If, as critic, we savagely assault this novel, which first saw the light (Canadian light understood) between our own covers, Messrs. Besant and Rice may never give us a chance again. Luckily those gentlemen have contrived to arrange matters so as to enable us to escape from our difficulty. We can escape it because we can honestly and impartially praise the tale as one of the best they have produced. Let us get over the worst at once by saying that its chief fault is its improbability and the somewhat'stagey' aspect of some of the situations. It cannot be doubted that the authors themselves would recognise this fact, and would admit that the scenes they have portrayed are, in some particulars, as impossible in the England of to-day as the original Abbey of Thelema would have been in the France of the time of Rabelais. Their answer would, however, be conclusive, and would be to this effect :- The plan of the story is laid so as to afford scope for the display of some keen and well-merited satire on some very opposite phases of modern life and thought. To be able to make kindly fun at once of eccentric philanthropy and of the more than eccentric vagaries of that ‘Higher Culture' which embodies the latest developments of intellectual priggism, required a peculiar knack of handling and an unusual background. Rondelet, the young Oxonian, so well described as a youth who endures a chronic sorrow, on account of his 'exceeding great wisdom, which had shut him out from love, friendship and
ordinary ambitions, and which deprives him of even the consolations of religion;' Exton, the product of modern civilization, who regards that civilization as merely a machine to provide him with good claret, good dinners, pretty girls to flirt with, and other amusements to pass away the time ; Alan, the indefatigable theorist, who persists in reducing his crude theories into still cruder practice, and who tries to elevate the clowns who till his fields by living and working among them,--these men are so utterly diverse in manners and in modes of thought that nothing less than the unreal bond of monastic vows of Thelema could have bound them together for the space even of a short novel. When the setting which has served to associate jewels of such varying brilliancy, is itself as picturesque as can well be desired, we feel more inclined to endure than to complain of its want of vraisemblance. Much has been said of the strangely homogeneous nature of the work turned out by these two writers.
We can only point to one passage, commencing at page 58, which appears at all indicative of the dual authorship. This account of the youth of Alan and Miranda contains much matter which has been told us in other shapes before, and which would not, probably, have been repeated, had the book proceeded exclusively from one pen. We need not draw out our remarks any longer. Our readers will have the tale so fresh in their minds that it would be unnecessary to even sketch the plot, and if every one who has read it tells abroad the amusement he has derived from it, the authors and publishers will need no better advertisement or warmer praise.
Foreign Classics for English Reailers,' are to be “Rabelais,' by Walter Besant; Calderon,' by E. J. Hasell; and 'Schiler,' by Andrew Wilson.
The first instalment of Mr. Herbert Spencer's new work, on the Principles of Morality,' may be looked for at an early day. It will deal with the Data of Morality.'
Two further issues of Mr. Gladstone's collected writings, under the title of
Gleanings of Past Years,' are now ready. They are classified thus : Vol 3, Histurical and Speculative ; Vol. 4, Foreign.
Mr. Browning's new volume of verse is to be entitled Dramatic Idyls,' and will shortly appear.
As usual, the author indulges his fancy for odd titles for the subjects of his poems. The six idyls are to be called :
• Martin Ralph,' 'Pheidippides,''Halbert and Hob,”Ivan Ivanovitch,'Wag,' and ' Ned Bratts.'
A new supplement, embracing the events, social and political, British and Foreign, of the last four years, has just been appended to Mr. Irving's. Annals of our Time.' New editions of other excellent reference books have been recently issued, to wit : the 16th edition of Haydn's ' Dictionary of Dates ;' the 10th edition of · Men of the Time ;' the 1879 issue of Mr. Frederick Martin's 'Stateman's Year Book,' and other indispensable authorities. It is pleasing to note that the indefatigible compiler of the latter work, Mr. Martin, has just had his great statistical labours recognised, by having his name placed by Lord Beaconsfield, on the English Civil List.
English literary men have only too well respected Thackeray's wish that no biography of him should be written. To be a loss to literature, and we are glad to see the announcement, in Mr. Morley's series of ‘English Men of Letters, of a memoir of the author of 'Pendennis' and “Vanity Fair,' to appear shortly from the pen of Anthony Trollope. The
forthcoming volumes will comprise 'Spenser,' by the Dean of St. Paul's; 'Cow. per,' by Mr. Goldwin Smith; Swift, by Mr. John Morley ;' and Milton', by the Rev. Mark Pattison.
The characters and events of one age become the memorabilia of the next, and this is no better illustrated than in the volume, 'Records of a Girlhood,' containing the recollections of Fanny Kemble, from her earliest childhood to the period of her marriage, in 1834. The work abounds in reminiscence, anecdote, and personality concerning notable contemporaries in the world of art, the drama, and literature, as fascinating as anything to be found in the domain of biography.
Mr. Theodore Martin has done his work so well on his Life of the Prince Consort,' that we fear to see his success imperilled in unduly extending the scope and the consequent length of the work. The announcement is made of the fourth volume, as being nearly ready for publication, to be followed by a fifth, and perhaps a sixth instalment, ere the work is brought to a close. Biographies written under the direction of royalty are not apt to be compiled under any limitations of cost, of time, or of labour ; but the reader of them generally finds that he has to respect every one of these conditions ; and hence our regret notwithstanding the interest of the subject-to find the work grow so extensively under Mr. Martin's hand
The publication of Dr. Busch’s Boswellian record of 'Bismarck in the Franco-German War,'whatever we may think of the editor's discretion in yiving to the world the after-dinner talk of the great German statesman, is a valuable addition to the literature of biography,
upon contemporary men, plans, and events, as we have in this work, with its variety of almost reckless but discriminating criticism upon friends and foes, may be safely said never to have been hitherto authoritatively issued by any
of novelist fame, and the Rev. W. J. Brodribb, M. A., with whom are to be associated a number of well-known and capable writers. Every volume, according to the announcement, will contain the life of one man or woman, around whose name will be gathered not only the deeds which have made that one life memorable, but also those events which make a remarkable period in the world's history. The volumes will present Pictures of the Time, as well as the events and traditions of a single life ; and though not written as mere educational text-books, will be largely intended for use in that process of self-education which is carried on at all periods of life, in age as well as in youth. We append the subjects of a few of the early volumes : Coligny, and the failure of the French Reformation;”Judas Maccabeus, and the Revival of Jewish Nationality ;'
this exhaustive Cyclopædia of Music
, Victor Emmanuel, and the attainment
personage of historical importance. The excitement which the work has called forth in Europe can be well understood by those who have already possessed themselves of any of the reprints of the English translation.
The first volume (A. to Impromptu) of Dr. George Grove's admirable Dictionary of Music and Musicians,' has just been issued from Messrs. Macmillan's press, and should find its way into the hands of all those who take a genuine interest in the musical art. The articles are written by eminent writers, English and foreign, and embrace everything that belongs to music, or is allied or even distantly related to it. Biographies of eminent composers, histories of musical instruments, illustrations of musical terms, careers of great singers, &c., &c., are some of the subjects treated of in which we should be glad to see within reach—if even for reference-of the many accomplished amateurs in Music in Canada. The volume is published at a guinea.
The old-time complaint of those whose education in youth has been neglected, that there were no special courses of study suited to after-life education, must now cease to be heard, for the projects which of recent years have been put on foot by publishers more or less designed to supply in popular form, the literary wants of the masses, are now numerous, inviting, and capitally adapted to the purposes which have called them into existence. Such schemes as the Ancient and the Foreign Classics for English Readers,' Morley's English Men of Letters,' 'The Epoch Series of Histories,' Strahan’s ‘Books for the People,' Harpers' Half-Hour Library,' Osgood's 'Little Classics,' &c., &c., are not only a great boon to the people, in respect of their modest cost and handy form, but give the opportunity to thousands to widen their acquaintance with literature, and extend the range of their reading, which has not hitherto been possible. Following these publisher's projects we have referred to, comes a new enterprise of Messrs. Marcus Ward & Co., of London and Belfast, in the shape of a New Plutarch, to contain the 'Lives of those,' as it is phrased, 'who have made the History of the world.' The enterprise is to be under the direction of Mr. Walter Besant.
of Italian Unity ;' 'Joan of Arc, and the expulsion of the English from France;' 'The Caliph Haroun al Raschid, and Saracen Civilization ;'. Hannibal, and Carthaginian Civilization ;' . Abraham Lincoln, and the Abolition of Slavery ;' 'Richelieu, and his Court ;' Charlemagne and his Time,' &c., &c.
Mr. Froude's sketch of Julius Cæsar' is now issued.
An American edition of the Duc de Broglie's Diplomatic Revelations, under the title of The King's Secret, dealing with an episode in the life of Louis XV. is about to appear. The work has created quite a sensation in Paris.
Mr. John Hill Burton, the Scottish Historian, has in press a ' History of the reign of Queen Anne.'
Despite the failure, as acting dramas, of Mr. Tennyson's 'Harold,' and 'Queen Mary,' it is said that he has a new play ready for Mr. Henry Irving, entitled Eleanor and Rosamond.'
A new novel by Mr. Thomas Hardy, anthor of : A Pair of Blue Eyes,' &c., entitled, “ The Distracted Young Preacher,' is about to be issued serially, in Cornhill and in Harper's Weekly.
It is rumoured that Dr. Froude has been long accumulating material, with the assistance of Mr. Carlyle, for a biography of the philosopher of Chelsea. Mr. Carlyle's life has been an uneventful one, though he is an octogenarian, but Mr. Froude will doubtless portray the