Зображення сторінки
[ocr errors]

rate as heretofore, and our children develop a correspondingly increased aptitude for Natural Science, the two movements will before long render the services of such an interpreter as Miss Buckley quite unnecessary. In the meantime, however, parents and teachers desiring to foster a turn for this study, can do no better than use this book.

There are but few blemishes to point out. Olive oil is hardly used for so common a purpose as being burned in lamps, as we are assured is the case, (p. 47) and our author is in error when she says, alluding to the old iron mills in Sussex, that the ' whole country' (? county) is full of 'iron-stone.' There is, of course, no iron ore in Sussex. It was taken there in the crude state at great expense and from long distances, the attraction being the cheapness of the charcoal used in the smelting process and afforded by the vast forests of the Weald. As early as the reign of Elizabeth, the supply of wood was falling off-as we tind an Act of Parliament passed then to provide for the preservation of the timber in the Weald, and 'amendment of the highways, decayed by carriages to and from the iron mills there.' The measure was either taken too late, or was not enforced, at any rate the Weald has nothing now left but its name and some profusely timbered old dwelling-houses, to remind us of the days when an unbroken stretch of wood extended from the hills of Surrey to the high-swelling chalk downs that line the Sussex coast,

The illustrations, too, are good of their kind and carefully selected. The book as a whole is one to be recommended, and older heads than those to whom it is addressed may in its pages renew and refresh their acquaintance with scientific truths with both pleasure and profit.

Men of Letters Series ; ' or, if it does, its aim is not accomplished. It consists merely of a number of more or less typical citations from Carlyle's writings, strung together in chronological order and connected by a slender thread of running comment, with a few odd dates and facts concerning Carlyle's life. Any intelligent reader of Carlyle might have put it together, and any reader of Carlyle will enjoy it. Those who are strangers to his works may glean from it such knowledge of what manner of man he is as may serve well enough for the purposes of everyday conversation. It is to be hoped that it will lead them to make his acquaintance at first hand, but it is doubtful whether that is, either the real object or the actual tendency of books of this kind. The vast number of them which have of late been flowing from the press suggests a very different conclusion. They indicate the existence of a large and growing class who prefer to have a scrappy half-knowledge of many authors rather than a thorough acquaintance with a few, and attempts to ineet the requirements of this class are less commendable than they are remunerative. It is, no doubt, true enough that the leisure for reading is becoming every day a rarer luxury for most people, while the amount of reading matter is increasing with appalling rapidity ; nor is it other than a good sign that fewer and fewer persons are content to remain in entire ignorance of our standard literature. But it is not true that such time as busy folk can spare for reading is best employed in picking up crumbs of information concerning many writers from extracts, and taking secondhand views of their lives, their books, and their theories. If, for every volume which packs a great writer into a sort of pemmican that may be swallowed at one or two sittings, they would read and properly digest one volume of the author's own, it would occupy but little more time, while it would be far more mentally nutritious.

Readers, however, who prefer, nevertheless, to take in as much as possible of a man and bis writings at one coup d'ail, will find Mr. Guernsey's book admirably suited to their purpose, as far as Carlyle is concerned. Its numerous extracts are, on the whole, happily chosen, although it is hard to see why a work so typical and so well-beloved of all its readers as

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

We have given the title page of this little volume in extenso. We would as soon dream of epitomising the performance of Pantalonn in the Christmas theatre, as of abridging aught in this most refreshing piece of nonsense.

Amid the works of dreary pamphleteers and essayists upon constitutional topics, how pleasing it is to light upon the performance of a well-intentioned noodle, who prattles harmlessly as he skims along, -and occasionally, like Silas Wegg,

drops into poetry without extra charge ! How rich and buttery his homemade poetry is, one may gather from the concluding verse of his dedication, which is addressed to his wife.

[ocr errors]

* Prophetic vision of thy royal life

. Induced thy father's father to end the strife * About thy name--thuu'rt called Victoria• Thou art not Queen- Thou art a queenly Wife.


that on

* Heroes and Hero-Worship’ should be represented by only twelve lines, when we are treated to copious excerpts from some of Carlyle's least worthy work, such as the pessimistic Jeremiads of the latter-day pamphlets and the splenetic bullying of black Quashee' in the Nigger Question.' In dealing with the ‘Frederick the Great,'too, Mr. Guernsey seems to have forgotten that his subject is Carlyle, and not the "Seven Years' War,' — of which latter he gives a sketch, embellished with two long extracts from Macaulay-and from Carlyle only one. The running commentary is lively, full of anecdote, and might be made into a very readable magazine article. In its present shape it is too suggestive of having been run in merely to till up the crevices between the extracts. Mr. Guernsey is by no means a blind worshipper of Carlyle; on the contrary, he criticizes him very sharply now and then ; and is especially fond of placing 'in all the irony of juxtaposition’his manifuld inconsistencies and self-contradictions. We quote part of the concluding passage of Mr. Guernsey's book :

this intensity and onesidedness gave form and colour to everything which he (Carlyle) essayed in the domain of ethical and political disquisition. The one view which he was taking was the only one which could be taken. He saw that Weakness was an evil; and so deified absolute Force. He saw that Loquacity was a vice ; and so Silence was the highest virtue. He saw that Democracy was not a perfect form of government, and could find no safety but in despotism. In fine : Leaving out of view bis unquestionable merits as a his. torian and a biographer, and giving all due weight to the innumerable detached ideas of the highest import scattered profusely even through the least worthy, as well as the worthiest of his books, it must be said that as a guide to conduct one through the mazes of speculation and inquiry, there could hardly be a poorer one than Carlyle. His place is that of a stimulator of thought, rather than a leader of it. He has taught us multa, not multum-Very Many Things, but not Much.'

[ocr errors]

From which we gather some important biographical facts as to Mrs. Hollis True. First that there was a battle-royal between her father and mother over her yet unchosen name. Secondly that her grandfather, perhaps presuming on his functions as god-parent or otherwise, cut the Gordian knot, and foored both the disputants by insisting on calling her Victoria ;-thirdly, that he did this knowing (prophetically) that she would in due time reign, lord it or (in the vernacular, which the old man probably affected) boss it over Mr. Hollis True (then unknown to the family); and fourthly, we gather that Mrs. True's subsequent life has been so extremely royal,' that it was necessary for her affectionate husband' to remind her occasionally, 'Thou art not Queen,' lest she should forget that, after all, she and our gracious Sore ereign were not quite identical. Mr. True is emphatically a modest

He does not aim too high. His object is merely to incorporate certain political changes' (of a very sweeping nature) in the British Government. He has given the subject ' probably more consideration than any other man living, and though its difficulties are great, yet ‘it is not entirely above the range of human thought to originate, or beyond human skill to control.. And yet after Mr. True has mastered this topic, which he himself tells us above is partly beyond human skill to control and so on, he has self command enough to reassure us and bid us not to be alarmed, for his sugges



Victoria Britannia, or Celebrate the

Reign; a plan for celebrating the reign of Queen Victoria, by the inauguration of political changes in the British Constitution. By HOLLIS TRUE. A.S. Barnes & Co., New York, Chicago and New Orleans, 1879.


tions are not couched in a dictatorial spirit !' Heaven preserve us ! What would have become of the poor old Constitution, if Mr. True had abused his vast powers and issued his ideas, not in the shape of this neatly bound little book, but as a dictatorial fiat ?

For he would have a little local Parliament on St. Stephen's Green, called * The Britain Minor Parliament' probably another at Edinburgh, and yet another at Westminster. Once a year, perhaps at longer intervals, our Senate and Commons would fit over to London, whither too would fit Little Britain Parliament, Scotch Parliament, and all the host of them, the air fairly darkening with the swarms of Colonial Legislatures winging their way to the great, imperial · Britannia Parliament.' Our honourable Senators would take a congenial place among the barons of England, who will be delighted, Mr. Hollis True says, to receive them. The others must e'en content themselves by sitting and deliberating with the Lower House. The whole body will decide matters of Imperial policy-questions of peace or war, tariffs and taxations, and all the higher branches of legislation. Then, and not till then, will Britannia (which is to be the new name of the United Empire) be an unit and work with all her force for noble aims.

Certainly there is one slight objection (among others) that Mr. True has not got over. If the Federation Parliament is to decide upon matters of peace or war, in other words national life and death, it has got to be always at hand. In an emergency a ministry could not wait even for the valuable advice the members from our Maritime Provinces, let alone those who hail from British Columbia or New Zealand. If the Colonial M. P's. were not assembled, the local English Parliarnent would, in any outburst of public feeling, break through all the gossamer regulations that serve to confine it to parochial matters, and would commit the Empire by its action. Representing the greatest amount of taxpayers it would have a certain right to do this. But, doing it, the whole fabric of Imperial self-government would be destroyed.

If Mr. True says, let the Colonial M. P's. reside permanently in England, the second state of the unfortunate Constitution would be worse than the first.

Our best merchants, lawyers, doctors and farmers could not afford to live at London, and even if they did, how could they remain Canadians? Either they would sink into a class of mere political agents and office-seekers, or else entering into active business life to preserve their independence, they would become insular-Englishmen in habit, manners and interests, and the bubble of Colonial representation would, either way, be pricked.

But enough of this. Let us cease arguing with Pantaloon, and have an honest laugh at him. See him as he wags his knowing old head and proffers us his aid to disclose to us the nefarious designs of our neighbours, the United States, on our cherished independence !

The New York Herald blabbed it to him, and he will pass on the particulars of the fearful plot to us.

WhisperNiagara is to become the great permanent seat of summer fashion for both communities. What ! don't you see the danger yet? 'Tis as clear as the Horseshoe Falls, that this will bring about a political union in double-quick time. Lord Dufferin was probably in the plot when he proposed to make an International Park there. Only think now ! the Niagara hack man serves as an irritating substance in an open wound, and prevents the two great Anglo-Saxon races from healing up together into one! It is a grand, a proud position for the hack

There is another really fine idea in this book. We can hardly fathom it. Mr. True is speaking of the old stage coach days, and he says that then every man was his own post-office.' It is a magnificent idea, grand in the gloomy indefiniteness of its outline.

But we don't think it was quite original. It can probably be traced back to Toots, who wrote familiar letters from royal and distinguished personages with his own hand, directed them to himself, at Doctor Blimbers, posted them to himself by dropping them into his own pockets, and (we suppose) at mail-time turned letter-carrier and delivered them to himself with great gusto.

The people in every part of the Empire' might with a large degree of comfort and profit' quoth Mr. True, sume the name of Britannians.' It is true the word has two syllables the advantage over Britons, and is free from






the objections insuperable from old associations; but this is all the comfort or profit we can find in it. The notion, however, is so inspiriting to our author, that he bursts into unpremeditated


[ocr errors]

* Forty-six millions of Britannians are we, * Though scattered the world over-still Britons

we'll be, * For Britannia we lore thee, we'll heed no alarms, * Thou hast prairies and forests and orchards and


By the way those last two lines have a somewhat ‘cupboard-love’twang about them, Mr. True. And your sacrificing Britannians in the second line to the exigencies of the metre, has been unrewarded by the Gods, for your line still limps wofully. Once more

We're forty-six millions of Britannians--all told* Each soul is immortal, and cannot be valued at

forty-six millions in gold.'

—there's richness for you! With such a plum rolling under the tongue it were well to leave off

. Certainly it would be hard to beat the auriferous weight of these two lines, and the only approach we ever saw to it was a sonnet written by a remarkably) neglected London poet which, if we remember aright, ended thus

Mr. Arnold seems to see his fault when he goes on to say that civilization is a state of life 'worthy to be called human, and corresponding to man's true aspirations and powers.'

We can move towards this ideal life along several differing lines, but perfection in all is needed (as Mr. Arnold has told us before) to enable us to lay claim to true civilization. Liberty, or the power of expansion, is not enough by itself; conduct, science, beauty, manners, none of these alone are enough; no two or more of them together suffice, if one of these elements is missing. All must co-operate in the beautiful and perfect life we yet hope to attain to.

Regarding the English nation as having made sufficient progress in Expansion (or as it is generally called political, religious and social freedom), Mr. Arnold directs his heavy artillery at our deficiencies in conduct, beauty and manners.

Our Philistinism is his text, and he has true things to say about it, but his zeal for his doctrine leads him, as we shall show, to some curious conclusions.

The first essay is upon Democracy, and is addressed to the task of showing how, in order to avoid the risk of English institutions being Americanized, greater power and scope of action should be given to the State. The same idea is worked out, as far as concerns education, in the paper on the French Lycées. But in spite of Mr. Arnold's often ingenious arguments, we fail to be convinced that centralization will supply a high standard to elevate the masses. We do not think, in the first place, that his statement on p. 4, that the aversion to an imposing executive power is an aristocratical feeling, holds good in every instance. In the France of Lonis XIV., where it afforded wide field for their einolument and ag. grandisement, it certainly encountered no such opposition. Nor is the present distrust of a paternal government, to our mind, based so much as our author thinks on a mistaken feeling of the nonconformist middle classes as to the religious meddlings of a powerful State authority. It stands on higher grounds than these. If we were asked to indicate in the narrow limits of a review what these grounds are, we should shortly say that it rests on the conviction that a ministry too often represents and exaggerates the worst and most foolish phases of public opinion, and seldom, or never, embodies those ideas which are the true, the pro

"So sank great Sol down to his western fold ‘Like to a golden tiger striped with gold !'



Mixed Essays, by MATTHEW ARNOLD.

New York, Macmillan & Co.; Toronto,
Willing & Williamson.

We are a little disappointed with these nine essays, which, as the title of the book hints, are of a disconnected nature. The author, indeed, claims for them in his preface 'a unity of tendency,' but we fail to discover it, except in so far as the formation of a correct opinion in such differing subjects as literature and politics may be considered to be an onward step in civilization.

At the outset, Mr. Arnold delivers himself of a stately platitude : Civilization is the humanization of man in so. ciety' (p. vi). To paraphrase this, then, civilization is the humanization of human beings. Unless humanization means more than is conveyed by its root'human,' the sentence is meaningless. If it means more, then the sentence is incomplete in not showing what more it does

gressive spirit of the age.

A spasm of folly, like Jingoism, will carry a government with it ; and to enlarge the powers of the State would be to make such a movement overpowering, and to double the disgrace of our awakening. Wider scope, more implicit reliance, in the powers of the ministry would, if they had been accorded, have delayed the ballot, free-trade, reform, and religious emancipation, and possibly have imperilled the existence of our institutions. A more centralized power would be more eagerly coveted, more violently sought after, and more easily abused. To some small pertinacious, uninfluential body, calling itself the Temperance or the Orange vote, or we know not what, how large and what perilous concessions would be made to purchase the precarious support that would enable an unscrupulous Premier to retain so important a post.

Even in the province of health, where most can be said in favour of compulsion and centralized authority what care should be exercised ! Knowing the wisdom, in such technical subjects as chemistry and therapeutics, of the average M.P. and his average constituent, can we not see a wrong system being forced upon us for two, three, or even four years after its fallacy has been exposed ?

Passing by the papers on Equality and the Irish University Question, we approach the literary essays. One of these is merely a review of Mr. Stopford Brooke's Primer of English Literature, a good book itself, and which has elicited a fairly good review from Mr. Arnold. But that there was any need to reprint it, with its suggestions of an elision of a page here and two pages there, and the gratuitous proposal to omit all English writers after Scott, appears to us sufficiently absurd. It is only the reviews of men like Macaulay which we care to see reproduced

Mentioning Macaulay leads us on to notice the attack on that writer contained in the essay called 'A French Critic on Milton. Nearly half of this essay is finished before we come to a word about the French critic—it is the unadulterated Arnold himself. For Macaulay he shows no liking, attacking him indeed in a style which, in any other man, we should say savoured more of Philistinism'than of 'sweetness and light.' Several of the passages in the celebrated essay on Mil

ton appear, in fact, to be lucubrations,' having no distinct and substantial meaning.'. It passes our comprehension how this has so long been undiscovered, seeing that our critic admits Macaulay's style to be admirably clear, so that one would think the want of meaning would lie, as it were, on the surface, and be easily detected.

But Macaulay admired Milton too much and, what is worse, has egged on and encouraged others in the same bad course. Hinc illæ lachrimo. For Milton was

a Puritan, and the men who sorted the Stuarts, and especially he who wrote the Areopagitica, having no fear of Master Matthew Arnold before their eyes, did not think enough of the civilization of beauty and manners, rather neglected it in fact for such trifles as freedom of speech and action. This tiuges all they did. It is the touch of Arimanes that spoilt the commonwealth, and marred the Paradise Lost as a poem.

Milton's prose is shockingly abusive and personal. Mr. Arnold looks with regretful preference at the gentlemanly behaviour and good taste of the Cavaliers. And yet, at another page, he gives us a sample of the ‘slanging back' that royalist scribes treated the grand old repnblican to; and those who know the controversies of those days will agree that the only conclusion to be drawn from them is that both sides were extreniely rude, and that Milton, being a man of genius, wrote better and more stinging abuse than his opponents, besides using stronger arguments couched in better language.

About the same time, the French were cultivating conduct, manners and beauty at the expense of Expansion,' and with curious results. By the time of the Restoration, they had nothing but their manners, their science, and some empty victories to congratulate themselves upon, and those manners had to be dropped, re infectâ, in crossing the deep waters of their great Revolution.

Of course it is very natural for Mr. Arnold to prefer the handsome Cavaliers with their cultivated taste for claret and Vandykes (claret, be it understood, in the ascendant), with their love-locks, masques and perfumes, to the whining Roundhead with his dubious nasal psalmody. But even on the score of good manners, there may be some question whether the Puritan did not bear away

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »