« ForrigeFortsæt »
expedition by her recovery is the most affecting part of a narrative where the intense human interest is kept up unflaggingly. The year's detention in the Kamrasi country alone affords a rare experience, and would alone furnish materials for an interesting work. Mr. Baker holds that the institution of slavery is indigenous to the soil of Africa, and that it has not been taught to the African by the white man, as is currently reported, but that it has ever been the peculiar characteristic of the African tribes.'
Other books of travel issued by Mr. Murray are those by Dr. Rennie, an able and intelligent staff medical officer. One of these is essentially a book of the season, using the expression in its less favourable sense, I mean the one about Bhotan.' It will be recollected that in the early part of the season people were talking a great deal about Bhotan. It was generally expected that we were in for what would prove a very long and expensive war. The Honourable Ashley Eden, whose name is so peculiarly known in social circles at Calcutta, did what was exceedingly imprudent for any civilian to undertake, in attempting a political mission into the heart of the Bhotanese territory. I imagine that Indian authorities are now pretty well agreed that such a mission would best be left to some military man supported by a tolerably decent military force. It will be remembered how the native fiends of the Bhotan council board pulled the Honourable Ashley Eden's whiskers and daubed the Honourable Ashley Eden's face, operations equally painful and dishonourable, and so offered to a diplomatist what constituted as fair a casus belli as any diplomatist might desire. Troops were sent beyond the frontier, and for a time they achieved the kind of traditional success which is always associated with the encounters of British troops against Oriental races. But there came a break in the stereotyped narrative. Not to put too fine a point on it, the British troops were surprised, repulsed, defeated. Two English guns were thrown down a ravine with the expressed object of saving them from the enemy's hands,
but with the specific effect that then they did fall into the enemy's hands. On these two guns the fate of matters subsequently hinges. Dr. Rennie found himself in medical charge of a detachment of the 80th regiment, and in that capacity he marched up several hills and marched down several hills, but performed nothing worthy of fame during these operations. He was, in fact, sent homewards before the British preparations for war were made on such a scale that the Bhotanese were driven to desire peace. The two guns were the obstacle. The Bhotanese declared that the two guns were not to be found. Just as the British public had made up their public mind that, after all, it was hardly perhaps worth while to go to war on account of the guns, the Bhotanese made up their minds in exactly the same direction, and accordingly gave up the guns about which they had so freely lied. Rennie, however, had seen enough of Bhotan to justify him in writing a book about it, as books are now written. If the war had gone on the book would have been a book of the season; but as the war has collapsed, we do not feel much interest about Bhotan until the war breaks out again. When that event-probably not far distant-takes place, we shall again take down Dr. Rennie's book from the shelf. About one half of it is made up from public documents, and betrays the mustiness of old newspapers; but the Doctor enlivens this department by keeping up a running fire on the proceedings of the Honourable Ashley Eden; and as Mr. Eden has held up one Tongso Penlow as the very villain and vulture of Bhotan, Dr. Rennie naturally devotes his attention to whitewashing and rehabilitating' him, and presentting him in the aspect of an agreeable and merry-hearted old gentleman.
A certain faculty of close, accurate observation, and a vein of homely good sense throughout distinguish Dr. Rennie's Journals. He was for some time attached to the embassy at Peking, and when the Embassy people thought it fully worth while that some one should keep a journal of events that were happening during the residence of the first European
diplomatists who had ever resided at Peking, it transpired that Dr. Rennie had already commenced such a journal, and made some progress. There is, however, on the very threshold, a serious objection to be taken. Dr. Rennie is manifestly afraid that his insular prejudices might cause him to represent the Chinese altogether en laid, and so he has fallen into the error of representing them altogether en bon. At present we have not done China,' and are waiting till Mr. Cooke gets up a cheap excursion there and back in the summer. But in the mean time we take the representations of the people who know the countries, and who say that a very hideous and dirty picture of the Chinese has to be drawn, and that Dr. Rennie has given us nothing but the remotest glimpses of the dreadful realities of things. It is also to be said that Dr. Rennie has not so much given us a good book as the materials out of which a good book might be easily constructed. As Dr. Rennie had resolved to keep a diary, he made it his diurnal practice to say something, whether he had something to say or not. This is the unhappy lot of the newspapers, which must equally make their appearance every morning, whether they record a revolution or have really nothing beyond the police news. Some of Dr. Rennie's entries are, therefore, exceedingly trivial; e. g.: 'It was so very hot that nobody could sleep till daybreak;' which, considering that the locality was Peking and the time Midsummer, is not very surprising. Although the work is too desultory and ill-constructed to render a continuous perusal pleasant or even possible, there is in it a large and important collection of facts which will greatly assist the reader in forming a conception of the Chinese.
A very beautiful book was issued early in the season by Mr. Bertram, a well-known authority on fisheries, especially Scottish fisheries, entitled 'The Harvest of the Sea.' In addition to much splendid illustration, and very interesting letterpress, the book aimed at some important practical results. Mr. Bertram argued VOL. X.-NO. LV.
that we were injuring ourselves by over-fishing; that our supplies of fish, so far from being inexhaustible, were really suffering; and that, in point of fact, it is only a popular delusion to suppose that there are as good fish in the sea as ever came out of it. He says that we are very improvident in the item of fish, and are ruining ourselves by our improvidence. Curiously enough a Parliamentary Report on the subject of the Deep-Sea Fisheries was issued directly after the publication of Mr. Bertram's work, and this Report arrived at a diametrically opposite conclusion. It strongly urged that renewed and more vigorous attention should be given to the fisheries, and held out glowing expectations of the results that might be realized. Mr. Bertram has not succumbed before the parliamentary report. He will not allow the reputation of his book and his own professional reputation to be damaged by this parliamentary criticism. He returns to the charge, vindicates his conclusions, and impugns that of the commission of inquiry. Other things being equal, we should rather be inclined to vote on the side of special authority than to yield blind credence to senatorial wisdom. Fish legislation has, in some respects, been singularly unsuccessful. Sir Henry Rawlinson, at the dinner of the Royal Geographical Society, mentioned that when the Fenian raid across the Bay of Fundy, in Canada, was first spoken of, he did not believe that there were more than half a dozen members in the House who knew where the Bay of Fundy was. When our members legislated for salmon they must have known just as much, or as little, about the natural history of the salmon. In Cornwall, for instance, they prohibit salmon fishing when salmon is in season, and allow it in the spawning season. In the beautiful Fowey river, both stream and estuary, where Mr. Tennyson has poetized, and where lovers of rural sports may resort, perfect shoals of fine salmon escape the poor fishermen, which for them means the loss of bread, meat, and clothing, and when the legal leave comes, it comes too late to be
of any service. Mr. Bertram's knowledge of Scotch fisheries is most thorough, but his information in several respects appears to be defective in respect to British seas and streams. Moreover, fishing with him is too much a matter of business; he lacks the serene philosophy and the keen sense of natural beauty which ought to distinguish the Piscator of the Izaak Walton stamp. But the book is good reading, and highly suggestive of good feeding.
A really very splendid work is the new volume, the third, of Crowe and Cavalcaselle's New History of Painting in Italy.' Mr. Crowe is, I believe, one of the pleasant society of Anglo-Parisians; a society which has just lost one of its brightest and most eccentric stars in the Irish gentleman best known as Father Prout. Many a reader used to seize the Globe' for its French intelligence, because poor Mahoney used to contribute this, and the chances were that there would be something racy. If I remember aright, Mr. Crowe is the author of an unpretending, but useful and accurate 'History of France.' Encouraged by the success of their 'Early Flemish Painters,' Messrs. Crowe and Cavalcaselle, under the auspices of Mr. Murray, are persevering in their costly and elaborate work, which is drawn up from fresh materials and recent researches in the archives of Italy, as well as from personal inspection of the works of art scattered throughout Europe. In great measure the work is for an esoteric circle, but every one would find it useful as a work of reference, and the magnificent illustrations with which it is thronged impart to it a high artistic value. But even the most enthusiastic art student will be oppressed by the minuteness of the criticism and the multiplicity of the details. The strongest interest of this work, as with Dr. Wagner's 'Art Treasures of Great Britain,' will be felt by the proprietors of the pictures criticised. Indeed such works as these must sometimes create a very strong and unpleasant sensation among the collectors. Sometimes, indeed, the sensation may
be a pleasant one, when a picturė which has been remanded au quatrième, or has been placed behind a staircase, is declared by the authorities to be a very precious example of some distinguished master. But generally the decision is the other way. Thus the Butler-Johnstone supposed Andrea del Sarto is declared 'not done in the master's style nor according to his habits.' Another one, belonging to the Duke of Hamilton, at Hamilton Palace, is said to be' more truly a slovenly thing by Bacchiacco.' Another one belonging to Mr. Ashburnham, near Tunbridge Wells, is 'weak and washy. It is likely that a pupil worked this up from Del Sarto's original, possible that it had been left unfinished at his death, and was completed by another.' The criticism is not always so unfavourable. Of the Panshanger portrait (Earl Cowper's) they say: The painting is clearly Del Sarto's, and finely touched.' Mr. Holford's is declared to be only a school copy of a picture at Madrid. These are samples of the Home criticism. The literary work is done in a very careful and conscientious manner. Every one will now be able to give intelligent praises to the works of PietroPerugino. The work is a modern Vasari.
Whatever Lord Macaulay may say about the Boswelliana lues, the Shakesperiana lues is a still more destructive disorder. A more fatal disease can hardly occur to any human being. It is a disease which requires the severest antiphlogistic regimen. If it passes from an acute into a chronic state the results are truly pitiable and appalling. Every scrap of Elizabethan literature ought to be labelled 'Poison;' but perhaps the speediest and most efficacious way would be to transfer the sufferer to a private lunatic asylum. These are strong words, but they are supported by strong facts. I know an intelligent, religious, and estimable gentleman: in an evil hour he plunged into the Shakespearian vortex. He ought to be a prosperous man. But he himself is unknown, his children uneducated, his very house uncarpeted. The whole of his time, and his little stock of
available hundreds have been lavished away in the search after Shakespearian discoveries. He possesses an admirable Shakespearian library, and the ordinary reader little suspects of how many volumes Shakespearian literature consists. He is waiting for the triumphant demonstration of a theory which will utterly confound all previous editions. Amid the ruin of his household gods he is waiting still, and fishing for the one-eyed perch. This sorrowful recollection is suggested to me by the handsome, bulky volume lying on my table by Mr. Gerald Massey; 'Shakespeare's Sonnets never before Interpreted his Private Friends Identified, together with a Recovered Likeness of himself.' There, take it away; the title is quite enough. The poor man evidently thinks that he has caught the one-eyed perch. I do not expect that Mr. Massey has ruined himself, for I observe a dedication to Lord Brownlow who is extremely solvent -in poor acknowledgment of princely kindness.' But Shakespearianism may be too much for any peer or commoner, however solvent. To think that Gerald Massey, who once showed symptoms of being a real poet, should have descended to become a commentator on Shakespeare! Those Sonnets have been the source of much grief. Even the powerful mind of the late Lord Campbell succumbed to them. He thought that Shakespeare must needs have been a lawyer because he wrote, inter alia,
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of the past.'
the poetry of the season, which, in the absence of any new poem by the Laureate, is not especially marked. The thorough Greek spirit and the splendid mastery of metre exhibited by Mr. Algernon Swinburne in his 'Atalanta in Calydon,' naturally interested people in Chastelard. But the interest is gone off. Chastelard, in fact, is not a very agreeable subject. There is an account sufficiently graphic in the last volume of Mr. Froude's History. That Mr. Swinburne shows every promise of being a magnificent poet is true, but none the less he appears to be deplorably destitute of anything like a moral sense. Perhaps, however, the poet has dived more deeply than any historian into the complex secret of the real character of Mary Queen of Scots. But Mr. Swinburne must be called a very fleshly poet. Perhaps Mr. Buchanan is the writer who is rising most steadily and equably to public estimation as a poet. Sir Bulwer Lytton's 'Lost Tales of Miletus' is a remarkable work, both on account of its ingenious literary experiments and the real poetry and eloquence with which it abounds. As metrical efforts, the book will meet with only limited applause; but it bears all the vigorous marks of the consummate literary skill possessed by its distinguished author. A keen regret was expressed in the House of Commons that Sir Bulwer Lytton should speak so seldom, and it is equally to be regretted that he should now write .so little. We wonder why Sir Bulwer Lytton and Mr. Home do not produce a work conjointly. It is said that Sir Bulwer's last novel, 'A Strange Story,' really indicates deliberate theories and convictions of his own respecting the supernatural. But unquestionably one of the greatest of Sir Edward's literary achievements was his remarkable speech on the second reading of the bill for lowering the suffrage. That speech ought to be carefully studied by those who would comprehend the breadth, keenness, and versatility of that wonderful mind. He was answered by Mr. Mill, the member for Westminster, and these two speeches form the literary
element of this historical debate. I believe the great master of emotion had the superiority over the great master of logic, and this is generally the case in the long run. Plato is greater than Aristotle, Shakespeare than Bacon. Mr. Mill has mentioned in his place that the attacks made upon him in Parliament have quite relieved his publishers from the necessity of advertising his publications. I suppose, then, five thousand people have read Mr. Mill's speeches to one who has mastered that remarkable article on Compte in the seldom-read Westminster Review,' which constitutes Mr. Mill's latest contribution to the literature of hard thinking. We extremely deprecate that servile idolatry with which many men seem to regard the writings of Mr. Mill. But the practical success which Mr. Mill has obtained in Parliament is of an astonishing kind, and no mean tribute to this great writer's powers. It was thought a wonderful thing in the career of Macaulay that he should twice have turned a division by a speech. But Mr. Mill, in the course of this single session, has diverted a large amount of the compensation intended to be granted to farmers on account of the Cattle Plague; and by his speeches on the failure of coal and the National Debt, he has gone far to make a change in our financial policy. Mr. Mill's legislative career may not be a long one; but, to use a logical phrase, it will make up in intensity what it lacks in extension.
Lord Derby's noble version of the 'Iliad' has lent a new impetus to Greek translation. Since the lamented death of Mr. Worsley, of whom all men spoke golden words, the great earl ranks first in this important province of literature. To that province Dean Milman has just added an important contribution, in his version of the Agamemnon' of Eschylus, the 'Baccha' of Euripides, and a valuable Anthology of other translations. The Dean won his earliest laurels as a poet, and having devoted his meridian powers to church history, he has now returned to his first love, and his latest efforts will also be the same as the first. It is thought that the author
of Latin Christianity' grew rather weary before he had finished with the General Councils. By the way, the History of Latin Christianity being finished, when will some very reverend Dean favour us with a history of Teutonic Christianity? Many of these translations of the Dean were read before a youthful auditory, of whom, by an obvious allusion, Mr. Gladstone was one. The Dean was encouraged to publish them by those who retained a vivid impression of the delight with which they once heard them-'one especially, by whose brilliant and busy life such reminiscences, I should have supposed, would have been long utterly effaced.' So far as Eschylus is concerned, the Dean has been surpassed by a lady, Miss Swanwick, with singular learning and ability has recently translated the whole of the Orestean trilogy. The days of Lady Jane Grey are reviving. Another lady, Mrs. Webster, has translated the Prometheus' very nicely. However repellant Greek literature may be to the ordinary reader, the engravings from the antique in this volume are so good that it will be difficult to find a handsomer volume for the drawingroom table. The lighter pieces were embedded in the Latin lectures which the then Professor Milman delivered from the Chair of Poetry at Oxford. The translations from the Tragedians appear to be the recent accomplishment of youthful attempts. The Dean's work will probably have the effect of rescuing from oblivion many almost forgotten names of those who wrote what the Dean is so good as to consider poetry in the declining age of the Greek language and eloquence. But, though Nonnus and Aratus may not be poets, Milman is certainly a poet, and his first-rate rendering of their fourth-rate compositions is always graceful and ingenious. We should like to give a specimen of the Dean's powers as a translator, although we know that to do so by culling a single specimen is very much like judging a house by a brick or a statue by a finger. Here is a very short passage from 'The Clouds,' in which the Dean has well