Slike stranica

Pamir region too small and deficient in detail; a special map of this region would have been very helpful. In this part of the map the names have been carelessly left in French, while in the rest of the map they are translated into English. W. F. ALLEN.


Several years ago, while John Bright was still with his family at their historical seat called "One Ash," Mr. William Robertson prepared a biography of him, which is now reprinted, with additional chapters bringing the narrative down to the date of Mr. Bright's death, and presenting a brief analysis of his general character. In its present complete form, the work will be welcomed by many who, appreciating the merits of "the great Commoner," are eagerly seeking a knowledge of the facts that made up the life and marked the personality of this champion of popular rights who for nearly half a century was foremost in upholding in the British parliament the spirit of the injunction, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, that do ye also unto them." While the volume in hand is certainly not a final and adequate "Life" of Mr. Bright, it possesses some points of excellence, and is not to be confounded with the "biographies " usually vamped up to meet the demand that follows close upon the death of public men. Although Mr. Robertson's work is, in general, both readable and instructtive, it is in many respects open to adverse criticism. A great deal too much space is devoted to extracts from Mr. Bright's speeches, and a great deal too little space to helping the reader to an understanding of the political conditions for or against which the speaker was contending. Printed speeches are usually the dryest kind of reading- especially when the events that called them forth have ceased to be of immediate interest; and rhetoric that, when delivered from the platform, thrilled men's souls like the tones of a trumpet, often seems cold and unmeaning in type. We can form no real idea of Mr. Bright's power as an orator from the tiresomely long extracts in the present volume, and the effect is, on the whole, disappointing. A few brief and striking passages would have been much better. Mr. Robertson's fondness for quotation shows itself in another

LIFE AND TIMES OF THE RIGHT HON. JOHN BRIGHT. By William Robertson, author of " Old and New Rochdale." With Portrait. New York: Cassell & Co.

and more reprehensible direction: like Silas Wegg, he is constantly "dropping into poetry." He grasps the lyre upon the most shadowy of pretexts often twice or thrice in a page. If a pleasing couplet or quatrain pops up in his memory, uncalled for by the text, he never hesitates to make a place for it. Indeed, were it not for the indifferent quality of some of the verse, Mr. Robertson's book might serve as a scant anthology of the British poets. Again, that precise class of readers who, in obedience to the vogue, have duly chilled their own honest tendency to glorify the great and good, may Cercharge our author with over-enthusiam. tain it is that he has deliberately written Mr. Bright up, when, out of deference to the prevailing taste, he should have written him down -a fault which uncritical readers will gladly pardon.


By his own countrymen, John Bright will be best remembered for the part he bore in the crusade against the system of national robbery maintained under the Corn Laws. question of Protection vs. Free Trade, as applied to breadstuffs in England, with her scant territory and abundant population, would seem to be a very simple one. The pith and marrow of it was, "Shall millions of Englishmen suffer unceasing privation and periodical famine


in order to swell the rental of a limited class of landowners?" The specious pretence that the agricultural classes," the tenant farmers and laborers, were to be fostered and protected by the measure, was amply refuted by fact,the condition of these classes being actually worse than that of the operatives in manufacturing districts. As the ultimate decision of this question of cheap bread for the people or high rent for the landlord rested with a parliament controlled by the beneficiaries of the system, we may infer the nature of the difficulties in the path of the reformer.


Our author gives an interesting account of the deplorable condition of the bulk of the English people during the reign of the Corn Laws, which may be briefly touched upon, in order that the reader the better appreciate the service rendered to their countrymen by John Bright and his companion-in-arms, Richard Cobden. In consequence of a succession of bad harvests, the state of the country, from 1836 to 1840, was especially bad. In the south of England the peasantry were reduced to the condition of Polish serfs, their chief food being a vile species of black bread made of barley and potatoes. The "roast beef of old England"

had become a myth, a tradition of Saturnian days. A man's wages were about seven shillings a week, out of which pittance one shilling and sixpence went for rent. The remainder in many cases "supported" a family. It became customary for societies to give prizes, rewards of merit, to agricultural laborers who succeeded in living for a certain length of time without parochial relief. For instance, three pounds were given to William Ferris of Fitchfield, who distinguished himself by supporting, unaided by the parish, six children under thirteen years of age. It was further stated in his favor that he was able to feed a pig every year, and even contributed to a society which would undertake after his death to bury him decently. This comparative opulence testified to the thrift and industry of William Ferris, and he undoubtedly deserved his three pounds. Although, as already stated, the Corn Laws were held to be specially beneficial to the agricultural classes, in conserving and fostering the yeomanry of England, statistics proved that their condition was even worse than that of the operatives in the towns. In 1835, in the very fertile farming district of Wheathampstead, Hereford, two hundred families were found littered like cattle in the straw, almost destitute of food and clothing. At Newton, in a house of only four rooms, fifty inmates were found, and when the census was taken in 1831, "the straw in the building had to be removed to ascertain the number of children who slept in it." In short, the condition of the English people during these years was wretched in the extreme. "Every man who marries," said Mr. Bright, "is considered an enemy to the parish; every child who is born into the world, instead of being a subject of rejoicing to its parents and the community, is considered as an intruder come to compete for the little work and the small quantity of food which is left to the population." The horrors pictured by the ingenious Mr. Malthus had come to pass though from a different cause. Yet in this hour of starvation, foreign corn in abundance was knocking for admission at every port in England. Thinking men had long divined the cause of the nation's distress. As early as 1818, Mr. Henry Hunt, in addressing the Westminster electors, said: I will never rest for an hour contented while the starvation law, commonly called the Corn Law, remains in force." In 1838, the National Anti-Corn-Law League was founded in Manchester, and in the following year what proved to be the final cam


paign against the iniquitous system was inaugurated at an open-air meeting in Rochdale. Mr. Bright moved the first resolution:

"That it is the opinion of this meeting that the Corn Laws have had the effect of crippling the commerce of the manufacturers of the country-have raised up rival manufactories in foreign countries have been most injurious and oppressive in their operation with the great bulk of our population, and that the working classes have been grieviously injured by this monopoly of the landed proprietors."

Mr. Bright argued that it was "not a party question but a pantry question, a knife and fork question, a question between the working classes and the aristocracy." Lack of space prevents an outlining of our author's interesting narrative of the struggle carried on in parliament and in the constituencies for seven years by Bright and Cobden, against a class whose evil policy it was to create a scarcity of food among their own countrymen. In a review of Mr. Robertson's book one can scarcely avoid quoting poetry. Lord Byron wrote of the landowners of 1821:

"Their ploughshare was the sword in hurling hands,
Their fields manured by gore of other lands.
Safe in their barns, these Sabine tillers sent
Their brethren out to battle-why? for rent.
Year after year they voted cent per cent,
Blood, sweat, and tear-wrung millions-why? for rent.
They roared. they dined, they drank, they swore they meant
To die for England; why then live? for rent!
The peace has made one general discontent
Of these high-market patriots-war was rent!
Their love of country, millions all mis-spent.
How reconcile?-By reconciling rent!
And will they not repay the treasures lent?
No; down with everything, and up with rent!
Their good, ill, health, wealth, joy or discontent,
Being, end, aim, religion-rent! rent! rent!"'

The efforts of the reformers were generously seconded throughout the United Kingdom. For example, at a meeting held in Manchester, in aid of the League, upwards of sixty thousand pounds were subscribed in a few hours. Twenty-three firms gave a thousand pounds each, and amongst the number was the firm of "John Bright and Brothers." A characteristie anecdote of Mr. Cobden was related by Mr. Bright years afterwards at Rochdale.

"In the year 1841, I was at Leamington and spent several months there. It was near the middle of September there fell upon me one of the heaviest blows that can visit any man. I found myself left there with none living of my house but a motherless child. Mr. Cobden called upon me the day after that event, so terrible to me and so prostrating. He said, after some conversation, Don't allow this grief, great as it is, to weigh you down too much; there are at this moment in thousands of houses in this country wives and children who are dying of hunger made by the law. If you will come along with me, we will never rest till we have got rid of the Corn Law.'"

On the 25th of June, 1846, the bill for the

repeal of the Corn Laws was passed by the House of Lords. As an indication of the work done by Bright and Cobden in the constituencies, it may be stated that in 1838 a motion introduced in the House of Commons for a committee to consider the operation of the Corn Act of 1828 was rejected by a majority of two hundred and five. Time has vindicated the course of those who advocated free trade for England. Thirty years after the repeal of the Corn Laws, Mr. Bright was enabled to say:

“You find it in Holy Writ, 'The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.' We have put Holy Writ into an Act of Parliament, and since then of that fulness every man and woman and little child in this country may freely and abundantly partake."

Of the course of John Bright during the Civil War in America, it is perhaps unnecessary to speak. Two brief quotations from his speeches delivered during that period, may, however, be permitted. At the close of an address delivered in 1861 at Rochdale he said:

"As for me, I have but this to say: I am but one

in this audience, and but one in the citizenship of this

country; but if all other tongues are silent, mine shall speak for that policy which gives hope to the bondmen of the South, and which tends to generous thoughts, and generous words, and generous deeds, between the two great nations who speak the English language and from their origin are alike entitled to the English name."

Again, in 1862, at Birmingham:


But, Sir, the Free States are the home of the working man. Now I speak to working men particularly at this moment. Do you know that in fifteen years two million five hundred thousand persons, men, women and children, have left the United Kingdom to find a home in the Free States of America? That is a population equal to eight great cities of the size of Birmingham. What would you think of eight Birminghams being transplanted from the country and set down in the United States? Speaking generally, every man of these two and a half millions is in a position of much higher comfort and prosperity than he would have been if he had remained in this country. I it is the home of the working man; as one of her poets has recently said


For her free latch-string never was drawn in
Against the poorest child of Adam's kin.'

And in that land there are no six millions of grown men-I speak of the Free States-excluded from the constitution of their country and its electoral franchise ; there you will find a free church, a free school, a free land, a free vote, and a free career for the child of the humblest born in the land. My countrymen, who work for your living, remember this: there will be one wild shriek of freedom to startle all mankind if that American Republic should be overthrown."

The key to John Bright's career may be found in the words he used in resigning from the Gladstone ministry in 1882: "I asked my calm judgment and my conscience what was

the path of right to take. They pointed it out to me with an unerring finger, and I am humbly endeavoring to follow it." Mr. Bright, though for nearly half a century a leading figure in English politics, was not, in the usual sense of the term, a politician. Steadfast in following up his convictions, guided by “inward lights ward lights" irrespective of the demands of party, he utterly lacked the pliability which counts for so much in public life. At the time of the repeal of the Corn Laws, Mr. Bright was the most popular man with the masses in England, and was naturally looked upon by ultra-conservatives as a self-seeking demagogue. But when, shortly afterwards, the Crimean war broke out, we find him confronting the storm of popular fury, hooted at, reviled, and threatened at public meetings by energies of his life-the most unpopular public the very class to which he had given the best man, perhaps, in the three kingdoms. charge of demagoguery was confuted. following parliamentary election he was defeated for Manchester, his name being at the foot of the poll. Had our American theory of strict local representation, of selecting candidates solely from among the residents of the district, prevailed in England, the Manchester defeat might possibly have ended Mr. Bright's parliamentary career. But he was subsequently invited to contest a vacant Liberal seat for Birmingham, and, the lapse of time having cleared men's minds, he was returned almost by acclamation, his opponents withdrawing to avoid overwhelming defeat.


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bill, Mr. Bright among them. Yet the Irish people have had no more ardent friend-leaving out the consideration of this Home-rule movement than John Bright, who said:

"For forty years I have been a friend of Ireland. Long before any Parnellite now in parliament or any member of the present government opened his lips to expose and condemn the wrongs of Ireland, I spoke for her people in the House of Commons and on public platforms."

The people of Ireland, he held, were in all matters entitled to equal political and legislative consideration with the people of England; full and ample justice should be theirs-but they must continue to seek that justice in the British parliament as then constituted. Mr. Bright's views as to the expediency of political dismemberment, we Americans are, in a measure, estopped from condemning. John Bright was an admirable specimen of the true AngloSaxon type; a serious-minded, sturdy, uncompromising foe to injustice in all its forms; a man against the citadel of whose rectitude the storms of faction beat in vain.



MR. ALCOTT's attempt at an estimate of Emerson's character and genius was written, and privately printed, as a birthday gift to the poet, in 1865. It is now published under the title "Ralph Waldo Ralph Waldo Emerson, Philosopher and Seer" (Cupples & Hurd). The pretty volume contains also Mr. Alcott's "Monody" on the death of Emerson, and Mr. F. B. Sanborn's ode entitled "The Poet's Countersign," together with Emerson's delicate letter of acknowledgment on the occasion of the birthday gift. Mr. Alcott's lifelong friendship with Emerson lends an interest to his essay to which its critical value would hardly entitle it. If future generations continue to be as greatly interested in Emerson as the present is, they will be likely to find Mr. Alcott a somewhat tantalizing Boswell. No one could have told us a greater number of interesting things about Emerson than Mr. Alcott. He has made some revelations, but he was either too discreet, or too willing to air his own fine raptures, to make a good Boswell. The best critic cannot make a disinterested estimate of his dearest friend; Mr. Alcott was no critic, and probably could not have dissected his dearest foe; why then would he flourish his air-drawn scalpel over Emerson? In the Publisher's Preface," Mr. John Albee is quoted as comparing the "Monody" with Moschus's Lament for Bion," with Milton's "Lycidas," with Shelley's "Adonais." If this be criticism, Mr. Gosse should be requested by some friend to suspend his severe judgment of American poetry


until he shall have read the works of Mr. Alcott. The elegy in question is a pleasing and tasteful poem, the work of a learned metrist; but so far must we disagree with Mr. Albee, that we cannot but rank it far below Thomas Tickell's famous lines "On the Death of Mr. Addison." Of Mr. Alcott in his prime it was said that, although the best of talkers, "a lamb among men,

He goes to sure death when he goes to his pen." We must not forget to mention the excellent portraits and other illustrations which add to the Its asso

attractiveness of this well-printed book. ciations ought to make it an acceptable "birthday gift" to every lover of Emerson.

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MR. HENRY T. FINCK'S musical essays (Scribner) are characterized by good judgment and interesting selection of material. Among composers, they treat principally of Chopin, Schumann, and Wagner; and for miscellaneous topics they discuss such subjects as the way in which composers work, the Italian and German vocal styles, the success of the German opera in New York, and the old question of music and morals. Mr. Finck is a good Wagnerian, and his appreciation of that master colors the greater part of his matter, whatever may be its theme. Some very acute and truthful things are said about the "Nibelungen Ring" and the Meistersinger," and a number of the absurd popular notions about the music of Wagner are exposed. People who are musical in taste rather than in knowledge may read these essays with a great deal of profit; and those whose tastes are in that primitive stage of development which prefers simple melody to complicated harmony, and who think that music should be "birdlike" to be good music, may find some facts of surprising interest in Mr. Finck's intelligent exposition. The essay on Chopin, who is styled "the greatest genius of the pianoforte," contains, in our opinion, a somewhat exaggerated estimate; but most of Mr. Finck's judgments are eminently sound, as well as clearly and gracefully expressed.

ONE of the most fascinating characters in English political history is Lord Bolingbroke. His latest biographer, Arthur Hassall, in his “Life of Viscount Bolingbroke" (Lippincott), justifies his prefatory statement that "Bolingbroke was So closely connected with all the political, literary, philosophical, and social movements of his day, that the history of his life is to a great extent that of the first half of the eighteenth century." Yet we suspect that to most persons he is known merely as the friend of Pope, whom the latter invokes in his "Essay on Man." Mr. Hassall writes a most interesting narrative in a suggestive style, and emphasizes the distinguished ability of the man in a wise selection of biographical facts. Of his character, he says: "In wit and eloquence he is far superior to any of his contemporaries. His application astounded all who knew him. The history

of England's statesmen furnishes few examples of such high capacities and abilities, combined with such power of application and concentration. With his death England lost a statesman who in good and evil fortunes made his personality felt on all who came across his path. In both public and in [sic] private life he had always been the centre of a political party or of a literary coterie." Why, then, does the author say that "disappointment will be seen ever dogging his steps"? Let this quotation from Lecky be a sufficient answer: "His eminently Italian character, delighting in elaborate intrigue, the contrast between his private life and his stoical professions, his notorious indifference to the religious tenets which were the very basis of the politics of his party, shook the confidence of the country gentry and the country clergy, who formed the bulk of his followers." We add that all may English history shows that the successful English leader must be an opportunist; must think and feel "in touch with the men of his generation. Bolingbroke was a doctrinaire, an idealist, a philosopher, and would have found happier skies over him in France, where ideas are not held down so closely to the severe logic of facts. There is some slovenly English in the book, and the proof-reader has been careless; but the work is a masterly sketch of English politics, during the years of Bolingbroke's activity.

THE biography just noticed is one of the "International Statesmen Series." Another of these volumes is the "Life of Prince Metternich," by Colonel G. B. Malleson. The author of "The French in India" may always be expected to write an entertaining story, and in this short biography of one of the wiliest of politicians he has maintained his reputation, and given us the best-written volume yet published in the series. The man who destroyed Napoleon was the most astute statesman of his day; and, as Colonel Malleson says, after the battle of Waterloo he stepped quietly into the seat whence Napoleon had been hurled, and, for the three-andthirty years that followed, directed, unostentatiously but very surely, the policy of the continent." The story of this life is an important part of modern history, and Colonel Malleson has set it forth in all its power, in all its political hideousness. despotism of Napoleon was the despotism of the conqueror who had swept away the old system, and who terrorized over its former supporters. The despotism of Metternich, not less actual, used as its willing instruments those very supporters upon whose necks Napoleon had placed his heel. His system was the more dangerous to human freedom because it was disguised. He was as a Jesuit succeeding an Attila, and when, after enduring it long, the peoples of Europe realized its result in the crushing of every noble aspiration, of every attempt to secure real liberty, we cannot wonder that they should have asked one another whether it was to obtain such a system that they had combined to


overthrow Napoleon. His system established by the successful rising of the nations' was destroyed by the rising of the peoples.'" Such is a sample of Malleson's thoughtful and instructive sketch.

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AN additional volume of the same series is the "Life of Daniel O'Connell," by J. A. Hamilton. At such a time as the present it is hard to get a just estimate of the great agitator and foe to "The Union"; yet we think Mr. Hamilton has succeeded in giving an impartial account of a much debated and abused character. He awards O'Connell full appreciation for the procuring of Catholic Emancipation, which he won in a sense single-handed against the most formidable odds. It was a battle for an entirely just object, and the man who led the Irish to victory in that fight has an everlasting claim upon their gratitude." With equal truth he says: Had his life terminated there, possibly it He was might have been better for his fame. indeed a man with the defects of his qualities, impulBut he was, too, a sive, pugnacious, masterful. man of whom Ireland and the United Kingdom have cause to be proud; great as an orator, great as a politician, and as a man amiable and upright. It was his fate to have little scope for the statesmanship of constructive policy; to find his great success balanced by great failure; to die with so dark a cloud hanging over the country he loved so well. But he served her well, and still lives in her affections, and that is his best reward."

STILL another volume of the "International Statesmen Series is the Life of Sir Robert Peel, by F. C. Montague. The men whose biographies we have previously reviewed in this series-Bolingbroke, Metternich, O'Connell, Palmerston, Beaconsfield-all suggest to our minds, craft, cunning, and subtlety, and illustrate the Celtic type of intellect which several of them could lay claim to by inheritance or training. Peel, on the other hand, is a typical Englishman of the Anglo-Saxon breed-a true son of Yorkshire. His plain business-like manner of speaking was not more unlike the brilliant rhetoric of the others than was his whole habit of mind to theirs. Mr. Montague's summing-up of Peel is as concise as can be made. The middle class would tend to be conservative. They would incline to a conservatism of their own, and they would want a leader of their own to formulate it and to organize them. They would want a statesman who was bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh; a good man of business, cautious but open to practicable suggestions; one who would satisfy their ideal of industry and economy; one who would always be grave and decorous, never puzzle them with epigrams, or alarm them with rhetoric; in short such a great man as they could conceive. Such Sir Robert Peel was. He represented their virtues and their failings; he shared their talents and their prejudices; he was always growing in their confidence." Just because he so

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