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"the greatest poet in English literature between Milton and Wordsworth." When he reaches Pope he begins to doubt it: Pope is "perhaps the greatest poet with whom we have to deal in the present volume." Similarly, although without the contradiction, Thomson is introduced by the formula, "the most original and influential poetic figure which exists between Pope and Gray," while Gray carries forward the apostolic succession as "the most important poetical figure in our literature between Pope and Wordsworth." In defence of these rather soulless formulas, it is to be said that they are a part of the general system of perspicuity which is one of the excellences of the book. To make the general outline of a book clear to a fault is certainly, to say the least, pardonable.

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There is but one example of what seems to me fanciful theorizing. It occurs on the first page of the "Conclusion" : " But still, throughout the seventeenth century, poetry remained the normal class of expression, while prose retained its conscious character as something which had to compete with poetry and share its graces. Now the plain fact is that English prose failed to become precise and clear in the seventeenth century, simply because scarcely anyone took the task of writing English prose seriously enough. So soon as men began to take the task seriously, prose began to "get free its hinder parts" from the bog of Latin in which it had been mired. In other words, English prose was written, as Milton wrote it, "with the left hand," by men trained in the Latin school, who despised "the vulgar tongue" and who disdained to take the pains with English prose that they willingly took with Latin prose. Bacon and Sir Thomas Browne wrote carefully and produced measured and precise English prose. As Latin scholarship declined, as the resources of the vernacular became better known, and as the influence of French classic prose began to tell, men like Cowley, Temple, and Dryden, were led to take the task of English prose composition seriously. From that moment our classic prose style was formed, and the flounderings of such men of genius as Milton and Jeremy Taylor became thenceforth impossible.

praised Mr. Gosse for his freedom from the itch of "originality," it would not become me to censure him for failure to break new ground. To reproduce in an agreeable summary the best results of the labors of other critics, to inform such a summary with the freshness of first-hand work, to betray no crudeness, no lack of liberal equipment for a task so extensive,this is indeed a very honorable achievement. Mr. Gosse's book is not likely to be completely superseded by future labors in the same field. MELVILLE B. ANDERSON.


Professor Fiske occupies a unique place in the field of historical authorship. He unites with the literary skill of the essayist something of the profundity of the original investigator. His writings rarely fail to impress one as the expression of mature conviction attained only after research, and his opinions are the more readily granted a hearing since they come to us in a form that is fitted to please and instruct, rather than to dogmatize.

The volume before us is a popular treatise on a most interesting theme, "The Critical Period of American History" (1783-89). As the preface states, the author's aim is simply to group the events of the six years succeeding the conclusion of peace with Great Britain in such an order as may best bring out their causal sequence. The culmination of the period, of course, is the constitution itself, and its adoption. The book is chiefly occupied with a setting forth of the train of important facts and conditions that made the Federal Convention of 1787 possible, and its results on the whole acceptable. the whole acceptable. While the work was clearly intended for the general reader, the special student of American history cannot fail to find in it much suggestive and stimulating material. The full bibliographical note at the end of the volume is to be especially commended.

One of the most noteworthy chapters of the book is the first. In this the reader is made acquainted with the "Results of Yorktown". not in America, but in old England. To many this vivid statement of the close relation between the success of the Continental arms and the strifes and falls of British parties will reveal, perhaps for the first time, a most instruct

The chapter dealing with the development of English prose after the Restoration is the least satisfactory one in the book. But the subject has never, so far as my reading goes, been adequately treated, a recent American attempt in that direction being something worse than a distinct disappointment. Having just By John Fiske. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co.


ive page in the history of Imperial politics. The brilliant diplomatic triumph won by Franklin, Adams, and Jay, is all the more keenly appreciated when viewed in the historical setting which these events give it.

The conclusion of peace, in 1783, as it seems to us now, should have ushered in an era of prosperity in America. This was the hour of victory; but we are not to forget that it was also a time of the deepest despondency. Prof. Fiske has little difficulty in convincing us of the fitness of the title which he has chosen for his studies. It was indeed the "Critical Period." The second and third chapters are devoted to a summary of the social and political life of the times, and an analysis of the status of the States under the Confederation. The discussion of these topics is for the most part admirable. In recognizing the connection between constitutional and social history, the writer allies himself with the representatives of certain characteristic tendencies in modern historical writing. We cannot but regret, in view of the comprehensive survey of religious establishments, that no light is thrown upon the state of education under the Confederation. A better understanding of the attitude of the people in different parts of the Union toward public education might do much to clarify our ideas concerning this long-neglected period.

The chapter entitled "Drifting toward Anarchy" records the utter degradation to which a weak and irresponsible form of government led us; while "Germs of National Sovereignty" reflects the gropings after security resulting at last in the Convention of 1787. Much importance is attached to the national land question and the Ordinance of 1787. "Without studying this creation of a national domain between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi," says Professor Fiske, "we cannot understand how our Federal Union came to be formed." In the account of the framing of the Constitution, the influence of the slavery question is clearly traced. The comparative study of the English and American forms of government is skilful, and in some respects original. The point is emphasized that while our Constitution was to a great extent modelled after the British, it still differs from it in essential particulars because the fathers mistook the apparent for the real in their pattern. Thus, in the British government, as everyone now knows, the executive is not really separated from the legislative. The separation is only apparent. Had the American imitators of England in 1787

fully realized this, they might not have provided for a Congress, President, and Judiciary, each with clearly defined powers. The peculiarly American feature of our system, as Professor Fiske conceives it, consists in intrusting to the Judiciary the interpretation of the supreme law of the land.

The concluding chapter, "Crowning the Work," narrates the battle that was fought out in each of the States before a ratification was obtained. Hamilton never appeared to better advantage than in the New York Convention at Poughkeepsie, working against tremendous odds, winning at length by sheer intellectual might. With 1789-that year of evil portent to continental Europe-our crisis in America has been passed. Our author began his history with the fall of Lord North's ministry in England,-on a day of good omen, as he said, to the whole English race; and now, seven years later, he leaves Washington standing in front of Federal Hall in New York City, and hailed by a thousand voices as "President of the United States." W. B. SHAW.


The motive with which Messrs. Bonvalot. Pépin and Capus undertook the interesting journey, the fortunes of which are narrated in these handsome volumes, was "to penetrate into the heart of Asia, and to shed as much light as possible upon its history with the torch of geography."

Such an announcement as this excites the highest degree of interest; for although it cannot be said that the history of Asia is bound up in its geography more than that of any other continent, it is true that the problems of geography which stand in close relation to the history of Central Asia are peculiarly obscure. Some of the mightiest of historical phenomena had their origin or received their impulse in these distant and unexplored regions; and although it would be unsafe to affirm that the geography alone will explain these phenomena, there can be no

doubt that we shall understand them better when we know the region better.

The work before us contains only half of M. Bonvalot's contribution to this important In 1880-82 he made a field of knowledge. journey with M. Capus through the countries

*THROUGH THE HEART OF ASIA. Over the Pamir to India. By Gabriel Bonvalot. With 250 Illustrations by Albert Pépin. Translated from the French by C. B. Pitman. In two volumes. New York: A. C. Armstrong & Son.

north of the Oxus, publishing an account of it afterward in a work entitled "En Asie Centrale." In this journey, as in the present, he visited Samarcand and Bokhara―towns whose names excite the highest historical curiosity and interest; and it may be supposed that certain historical questions which we are disappointed not to find discussed in the work before us, may have been fully treated there. It would be ungracious, at any rate, to quarrel with a book so full of interest and information, for what it does not contain. It is enough to say in general that we have here a vivid picture of life, character, and scenery along this long route, from Marseilles, by way of Constantinople and Trebizond, "by the great historical way running from west to east, in the company of pilgrims bound at once on prayer and traffic as in the Middle Ages," and then by an incredibly daring and laborious, even perilous, route in winter over the very "roof of the world" into India.

The most interesting of the special historical questions which should have been treated in this work was excluded by the jealousy of the Afghan government, which turned our travellers back just as they were almost in sight of Balkh, the ancient Bactra. It was only when they were thus cut off from the route through Afghanistan, that they changed their plans, and determined to reach India through the Pamir-coming very near, in this passage, to meeting with a repulse at the hands of Chinese officials, similar to that which they had already sustained from the Afghans.

The great fact which impresses the student of history-the important part played at various epochs by these now sterile and thinly inhabited regions-is hardly touched upon in these volumes, having no doubt been treated in the previous work. Twice, however, we find significant statements. Of Termis (the ancient Termes) it is said (vol. ii. p. 4)," It is clearly demonstrable that it was abandoned for want of water"; and soon after (p. 11) they came to the ruins of a dyke and an aqueduct. Clearly we have here, as in many other parts of the world, evidence of an early industrious population, which redeemed for cultivation and habitation a tract which the fierce conquerors of a later age suffered to fall into disuse and ruin.

Perhaps it is too much to say that these deserts now could not supply material for the hordes of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, to say nothing of the Huns, Avars, Magyars, and

Seljuks, who preceded them; for it is an immense tract, and if its population could be now gathered under the banner of an imperious ruler, it would perhaps surprise us by its multitude. It is not the capacity of sending out swarms of savage invaders, that is the point of importance, but the traditions and memories of peaceful occupation, prosperity, industry, and wealth. If our ancestors of the Aryan race had their origin here, as is generally believed, it must have been then a very different country from what it is now.

The present work is a book of travels, pure and simple, not a systematic treatise; the reader often wishes, even, that the author took more pains to explain his allusions and situations. For example, in the first volume (p. 205) a conversation is introduced with an aged Uzbeg, touching a recent change in the Emirate of Bokhara. A brief note would have made this conversation more intelligible; but the incident is not explained until twentyfive pages further on. In like manner, a short paragraph as to political relations in the great Pamir region would throw light upon many incidents of the thrilling narrative. The whole book is a series of object-lessons in historical geography, and in the manners and institutions of primitive nations. Apart from the general picture, there are special incidents and remarks in the same line. An interesting account is given (i. p. 220) of the springing up of a village of Cabulis in the Uzbeg country. Of the Turkomans of the Amu, we are told (ii. p. 7) that they "are as a rule too poor to be nomad; they have not enough cattle to have any need to move from place to place, and their tents, put up between four walls, are chiefly used by them in the summer months." The familiar principle of the supreme importance of the family organization in early society is illustrated by the remark (p. 26), "In Central Asia the people of Turkish blood despise those who have lost their race." " We have on page 179 an interesting account of a mixture of "As the Wakhis are not very rich,



and they sell their daughters very cheap, the Kirghis marry them, and learn their language. From these cross-marriages are born a fair race of men, tall, with comparatively large eyes, and small men who have sometimes a long nose like the stem of a jug, not at all of the Mongol shape."

The illustrations in the volume are graphic and vigorously drawn-reproduced by some process. The map is excellent, but in the

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 thebiographies " 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 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 charge 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. The 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 sufin order to swell the rental of a limited class fer unceasing privation and periodical famine 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 order that the reader may 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 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

extreme. 66



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 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 characteristic 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

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