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In the second place, Mr. Mill discerns the limitations of the science more clearly, and acknowledges them more frankly, than, to the extent of our somewhat narrow conversance with such writers, has ever fat-en done before by any one who regarded it with equal affection and reposed in its theories a like faith. This, too, is thoroughly characteristic of him. He is one of the sanest and smcerest of men.
Thirdly, his inspiring and generative purpose is to lift the science into serviceable relation to the broad interests of man. Here we come to the real soul of the book. He accepts its customary limits chiefly Hint he may transcend them. He treats of wealth with a philosophical and cordial perception of its uses; but beyond and above this he is thinking of man, always of man, —and of man not merely as an cater and drinker, but as an intelligence and a candidate for moral or personal upbuilding. A reader would regard the work with a dull eye, who should miss this commanding feature. Sometimes by special discussions, as in his defence of peasant-properties in land, — sometimes only by an aroma pervading his pages, or bypassing expressions, — and always by the general ordering and culminating tendency of his thought, — one reads this perpetual question, the true and final question of all polities and economies : — How shall we secure the greatest number of intelligent and worthy men and women?
But while Mr. Mill's sympathy is with the people, the many, the whole of humanity, anJ while his desire for men is that they may attain the mental elevation which shall mnke them really human beings, yet a marked feature of his book is the mild Malthusian element which pervades it. Let no stigma be therefore fixed upon him. Let honor be rendered to the courage which steadily inquires, not what representation of the facts will win applause, but simply what the facts are. And undoubtedly it is true that all considerate men in England have been compelled to contemplate the possibility of over-population, of an insupportable pauperism, of n burden of helpless numbers which shall sink the whole nation into abysses of starvation with all its horrible accompaniments. It is but a few years aince Ireland escaped unexampled death
by famine only by an unexampled exodus. The New World opened its arms to the misery of the old, and fed its famine to fatness, — and has got tew thanks. But this rescue cannot be repeated without limit. And therefore forelooking men in England find the problem of their future one not too easy to solve. Mr. Carlyle, among others, has grappled with it. His brow 1ms long been beaded with the sweat of this great wrestling; and if he seem to some of us a little abrupt and peculiar in his movements, we must at least do him the justice to remember that he, after the manner of ancient Jacob, is struggling with the angel of England's destiny. Mr. Mill, too, with an earnestness less passionate indeed, but perhaps i]ot less real, is toiling at the same work.
And, by the way, an instructive comparison might be drawn between these two writers. Mr. Mill, not highly vitalized bybelief, not nourished by any grand spiritual imaginations, hampered by a hard and poor philosophy, and with limited access to absolute truth, nevertheless, not only belongs fully to the opening modern epoch, but through a certain entireness of moral health and sanity is leading the time steadily forward into its great believing and builded future; though it may follow from his limitations that into this future he cannot accompany it rtrg far. Mr. Carlyle, with a poetic profundity of nature and a force of insight which entitle him not merely to a high place among the men of our time, but to a name among the men of all time, standing face to face with the divine reality and wonder of existence, conversing with the heights and depths (if being, and appreciating the significance of personality, as Mr. Mill never can, will accompany our epoch into its future farther than one can foresee, but to its present must render a mixed and imperfect service; for a sickness runs in hi* veins, and he is trying to force the age into a half-way house, which is built equally by his hope and his despair.
Were this not merely a general characterization, but a review, of Mr. Mill's powerful work, we should venture to take issue on some matters both general and special, — as an example of the latter, on the possible utility of protective duties. The reasoning by which he, in common with bis class, proves thesu to be neceuarily futile for good, is indeed faultless so far »8 it goes, but, in our clear judgment, tails to cover the whole case; so that the question, whether ns one of general polity or of industrial economy, is still open to consideration. Especially it may bo urged, that the infancy of human industries, like the infancy of human beings, may require protection, even though their adult vigor could be safely left to take care of itself. Suppose it conceded that this protectiou is at first costly. So are the cradle and the nursery. Yet it may be that they " pay" in the end. Nay, as the cradle may enrich the household through the new incentives to lalxu- and frugality which it supplies, so protections of industry may evoke new industrial powers, and thus at once begin to enrich the nation, though the capital which supports these fresh industries could not at first hold its own, as against other capital, without the motherly cares it receives.
But enough. Here is a book on a matter of large and immediate importance, put forth by one of the amplest and soundest minds of our time, — a man so long-headed and clear-hearted, so able and intrepid to think, to speak, and to hear correction, so intent upon high ends and eo calmly patient upon the way, that the public can neglect his thought only by a criminal neglect of its own interests.
A Critical Uistori/ of the Doctrine of a Falure Life. With a Complete Biuliography of Ike Subject. By William RounseviLle Aloer. Philadelphia : Geo. W. Childs.
Fbw "signs of the times" arc more significant than the disposition shown on all sides to scrutinize and interpret the spiritual history of mankind. Lessing, Sehlegel, Herder, Hegel, Guizot, Buckle, and others, endeavor, with various degrees of ambition and success, to estimate history considered as a progress; Carlyle in his " Heroes " and Emerson in the " Representative Men" regard it rather as a permanence, and seek to present its value in typical forms; meanwhile the Bibles and mythologies of the old world nre collected, translated, subjected to interpretative study; and the critical scholarship of our time is almost wholly engaged in an endeavor either to arrive at the exact text
or at the precise value of all the ancient literatures.
All men have at length discovered that the history of mankind means something, and are naturally intent on learning what it means. No one now regards it as a mere Devil's phantasmagoria, significant of nothing but Adam's sin in the Garden. However differing on other points, we all now perceive that the history of the mind of man is a more interior history of the universe, — that it must be studied in the most earnest and reverential spirit of science,— that what Astronomy seeks to do in the heavens and Geology on the earth must be done in the realms of the mind itself, — and that, till we have found our Copernicus and our Newton of the human soul, modern science lingers in the porch, and does not find access to the temple. We all see that this history, not indeed as to the succession of its outward events, but as to its interior reality, must be grounded in the eternal truth and neceisity of the universe. What wonder, that, having been so fully penetrated by the scientific spirit, modern minds should look with great longing toward these earths and skies of human history, coveting some knowledge of the law by which the thoughts and faiths of man perform their courses -!
Nor any longer can "negative criticism" enlist the utmost interest. It is construction that is now desired; and he who studies history only tliat he may vanquish belief in the interest of knowledge cannot command the attention of those whose attention is best worth having. That fable is fable and mythus mythus .no one need now plume himself on informing us, provided he has nothing further to say. Of course, we raise no childish and sentimental objection to what is called "negative criticism." It may not be the best possible policy to build the new hoi vc in the form of certain stories superimposed upon the old one, which, perhaps, is even now hardly strong enough to sustain its own weight. Let there be due clearing away; let us find foundations.
But the essence of the new point of view in the contemplation of history consists in this, that we no longer seek these foundation" in the mere outward and literal history of man; we look, on the contrary, to his inwurd history, to perennial hopes and imaginations, to the evidence of his spiritual impulses and attractions, and just here find not only his rtal history, but also the basis for theoretical construction.
We see, indeed, as clearly as any Niebuhr or Strauss of them all, that the im agination so pours itself into history as to supersede, or to disguise by transfiguration, the literal facts. The incessant domination of man's inward over his outward history is apparent enough. What then? Does that make history worthless 7 Nay, it infinitely enhances the value of history. Who are more deserving of pity than the distracted crities that discriminate the imaginative element in the story of man's existence only to cast it away? "Facts " do they desire f These are the facts. What is the use of always mousing about for coprolites? Give us in the present form the product of man's spirit, and this to us shall constitute his history. Let us know what pictures he painted on the skies over his head, and he who desires shall be welcome to the relies which he- left in the dust under his feet.
In our own country some worthy efforts have been made to set forth certain grand provinces in the spiritual history of the human race. Such was Mrs. Child's most readable book, — does she ever write anything which is not readable ? — " The Progress of Religious Ideas." We have seen also some fine lectures on "Eastern Religions,"* which ought to go into print. And now Mr. Alger comes forward with his large and laborious work, seeking to contribute his portion to these new and precious constructions.
Mr. Algcr's book is a real wort. It is the result of no light nor trivial labor, of no timid nor indolent essay of thought. His aim has been to pass in judicial review the thoughts and imaginations of mankind concerning the destiny of the human soul. It is an instruction to the jury from the bench, summing up and passing continuous judgment upon the evidence on this subject contributed by the consciousness of the human race.
Mr. Alger is a brave man. He does not hesitate to grapple with the greatest thinkers, nor to measure the subtlest im
* Written — if the author will permit us to toll — by Rev. Samuel Johnson, one of the truest and ablest of our scholars.
aginations of all time. In the opening chapter, for example, which is appropriately devoted to a consideration of theories of the soul's origin, he lays hold of the boldest speculative imaginations to which the world has given birth, with no hesitating nor trembling hand. Occasionally the reader may, perhaps, be more inclined to tremble for him than he for himself. One remembers Goldsmith's line,—
"The dog it was that died ";
but our author comes forth from the trial in ruddy health, and does not seem at all out of breath. And all through the book he delivers his sentence like a man who has earned the right to speak.
And has he not earned it? For some years Mr. Alger has been known to scholars and others as a most indefatigable and heroic worker. This book justifies that reputation. The amount of reading that has gone to it is almost portentous. To us, who can hardly manage twelve books, big and little, in as many months, this mountainous reading furnishes matter for wonder.
Neither has this reading been chiefly a work of memorizing, nor has it been expended chiefly upon works of history commonly so called. A product of man's spiritual consciousness being under consideration, it is works of thought and imagination, rather than works of narration, which claim our author's critical attention; and his reading has been reflective and deliberative, involving a judgment upon speculative more than upon historical data. And it may fairly be said, though it be much to say, that he has shrunk from nothing which a perfect performance of his task required. Whether we consider the formation or the expression of his judgments, it may still be affirmed that he has met his great theme fairly, and given to its exposition the utmost exercise of his powers and the unstinted devotion of his labor.
We can accordingly pass upon his work this rare commendation, that it is thoroughly honest. This may, indeed, seem to many no very high approval. But it is one of the very highest. For we mean by it not merely that he has refrained from conscious misrepresentation of fact, — that he has not lied, as Kingsley did about Hypatia in the novel wherein he borrowed, only to befoul, the name of that spotless woman, knowing all the while that his representation was contrary to the recorded facts of history. To say so much only of this book would be not to attribute to it a positive merit, but only to acquit it of damning demerit. But what we affirm i» that Mr. Alger has fairly looked his facts in the face, and come to some understanding with himself about them. When he speaks, therefore, it is about tacts, about realities, not merely about words; and what he offers is the result of genuine processes of production which have gone on in his own mind. If he speak of life, it is not life in the dictionary, but in the universe. If he profess to offer thoughts, he really gives the results of his thinking. He does not cant; he does not merely recite verbal formulas; he does not play the part of attorney, first determining what to advocate, and thca seeking plausible reasons: everywhere one perceives that he has really brought his mind to bear upon /"-.'..., and so has come to real mental fruit. And it is this verity, this reality and genuineness, to which we give the name of intellectual honesty. It is a rare quality ; and always the rarer in proportion to the depth of the matters treated of, on the one hand, and to their expression in customs and institutions, on the other. Institutions are masks. The thinker must have both earnestness and penetration, if he is to get behind them. And just in proportion as any clement of man's spiritual consciousness has come to institutional expression, it is the easier to talk about it and the harder to think upon it, — to talk about it without talking of it. But our author has made the distinction, and to the extent of his power looks facts in the face.
Having come to an understanding with himself, he honestly tries, again, to uome to an understanding with the reader. He honestly imparts his mind. We find the book in this respect worthy of especial admiration.
Mr. AJger always writes well when he is not overmuch frying to write well. If he forbear to covet striking effect, his style has perspicuity, directness, and vigor, — the essentials of all excellent writing, — and to these adds verbal affluence and occasional felicity. But if he be tempted of the Devil to become eloquent, and the
father of all rhetorical evil strives hard to bring the soul of his style to perdition, then he begins to write badly. Let him, since he is capable of heroic things, .imitate Luther, and fling his ink-pot. Even though it light upon the page, let him not be inconsolable, but remember that no blots are so bad as those made by ambitious inflation. We have not that horror of " fine writing" which leads The Saturday lie view and Company to such obstreperous exclamation, and can endure the worst that Americans are guilty of in this matter quite as well as that affectation of off-hand ease and nonchalance which enhances the native clumsiness of many among the later English writers, and, to our mind, mars extremely the poetry of Browning. But if a writer has some propensity to rhetorical Babel-building, it were well for him to make an eft'urt in the opposite direction, and try to build his sentences underground, like the houses of the Esquimaux.
Mr. Alger's book has minor faults and major excellences. But let him be content. He has faithfully performed a great labor, and we give him cordial approval. To a great theme he has brought great industry, a just appreciation, a tine spirit, and much of intellectual courage and activity.
Add that he is a man whose soul is in sympathy with the best thought, hope, and heart of the time. Brave, just, and humane, he is always on the right side, and always as direct and unflinching in the utterance of his faith as he is intrepid and right-natured in its adoption. Opinions are expressed in his work which do not accord with those of ecclesiastical majorities; nevertheless we think that those will thank him who least agree with him. It were, indeed, a shame that the people which sets the highest price upon political liberty should be the last to welcome the higher freedoms of thought; but it is a shame, we trust, which will not befall our country. We ourselves have, it is true, as little affection as most men for that sort of " free thinking" which consists in pouring out upon the public the mere wash and cerebral excretion of unclean spirits; but when any man has brought to a consideration of the greatest facts a pure ami reverent spirit, he is entitled to present the results of his meditations with manly directness and vigor, as Mr. Algqr has done in the work before us.
The "Complete Bibliography of the Subject" is an admirable piece of work. We present our respects to Mr. Ezra Abbot, Jr., and wish that many an earnest literary laborer had such a " friend."
Dnam Children. By the Author of" Seven Little People and their Friends." Cambridge: Seave-r & Francis.
The children seem to have found their Dickens at last. But, of course, it was to be expected that the child's Dickens would be different, in some important respects, from the Dickens of grown-up men and women. And so he is. Children do with the world in their thoughts pretty much as they will; and the genuine artist, working for children, must "recognize this, or he will utterly fail. The author of " Dream Children," who made his introduction to the reading public as the author of " Seven Little People and their Friends," has the rare faculty of realizing for himself the exact position and attitude of the child. This position he takes so earnestly that he haa nowhere the air of assumption or arbitrary fiction. The child lives so much in pictures! But the pictures must not betray one single feature of unreality, or the whole effect is spoiled; a moral may be pointed or a (ale adorned, but the child has lost his natural food. We, need such works as that under present notice to keep children from starving, — works that are not mechanically adapted to children, but which come to them as their own fresh, pure thoughts come, bringing them pictures like those which their own untrammelled fancy paints for them.
We have no space to enter into any details here. The children must do that for themselves; but not the children alone. For, as now and then we come upon a piece of Art, a painting or a statue, which from its subject would seem to belong peculiarly to the child's world, but which, because it is genuine Art, as to its manner and execution, rises out of this confinement to a single class, becoming universal, so it is with books of a similar character. This is tnie of the present work more emphatically than of the former work by the same author. The more external fea
tures of the work — its exquisite gettingup, in paper, binding, and especially in illustration — are only fitting to the inherent gracefulness of the writer's thought.
The subject is inviting, hut we can only add that these short stories exhibit the rarest freshness and purity of imagination, the richest humot and the most «triking suggestion of an exhaustless fertility of invention which we remember ever to have seen in any child's book before. There is nowhere a careless execution; and the reason of this is probably that the characters have had a leisurely growth in the author's own mind. Generally it is supposed, that, to suit a subject to children, it is only necessary to go through some outward manifestations and to give the thing an air of novelty; but in this treatment there is no freshness, and no very great or very permanent moral expression. The writer of ''Dream Children " will have a select audience, but he will have it pretty much to himself, and, as the best of all rewards which he could have, he will educate the thoughts of his juvenile readers imperceptibly into a greater love and reverence for the very heart of truth and beauty.
Hemains in Vene and Prosf of Arthur Henry Hattam ; with a Preface and J/ewoir. Boston. Ticknor & Fields.
A I'KRMAUENT, though modest, place in the literature of the Knglish language will be accorded to this little volume. Judged upon their intrinsic merits as compositions, the "Remains in Verse and Prose of Arthur Henry Hallam" would, nevertheless, hold no abiding position among the many pleasing poems, clever dissertations, and brilliant essays annually given to the press in Great Britain and America. Were.they brought to us as the writings of a young man dying at thirty-two, instead of ten years earlier, we might hastily say, that, sacred as they must he to the personal friends of the author, there was in them no excellency sufficiently marked or marketable to warrant republieation. But there gather other interests about them when we are told that these compositions came from the son of a very eminent man, and were written at an age at which we congratulate ourselves, if our college-boys are not op