« AnteriorContinuar »
everything belonging to them, with the of masonry. In the fortification of the loss to himself of but ten men and eight future, the defender will no longer be horses. It is true, says the honest official “enclosed in the toils imposed by the enaccount, that the ground favored the gineer,” with the inevitable disabilities charge, and that the shells fired by the they entail, while the besieger enjoys the usually skilled Austrian gunners flew high. advantage of free mobility. Plevna has But during the last 100 yards grape was killed the castellated fortress. With free substituted for shell, and Bredow deserved communications, the full results attainable all the credit he got. Still stronger by fortress artillery, intelligently used, against my argument was Bredow's inein- will at length come to be realized. Unless orable work at Mars la Tour, when, at the in rare cases and for exceptional reasons, head of six squadrons, he charged across towns will gradually cease to be fortified, 1000 yards of open plain, rode over and even by an encirclement of detached forts. through two separate lines of French in- Where the latter are availed of, practical fantry, carried a line of cannon numbering experience will infallibly condemn the nine batteries, rode 1000 yards further expensive and complex cupola-surmounted into the very heart of the French army, construction of which General · Brialmont and came back with a loss of not quite one is the champion. “A work,” trenchhalf of his strength. The Todtenritt, as antly argues Major Sydenbam Clarke, the Germans call it, was a wonderful ex- "designed on the principles of the Roman ploit, a second Balaclava charge, and a catacombs is suited only for the dead, in a bloodier one ; and there was this distinc- literal or in a military sense. The vast tion, that it had a purpose, and that that system of subterranean chambers and paspurpose was achieved.
For Bredow's sages is capable of entombing a brigade, charge in effect wrecked France. It but denies all necessary tactical freedom arrested the French advance wbich would of action to a battalion." else have swept Alvensleben aside ; and to The fortress of the future will probably its timely effect is traceable the sequence be in the nature of an entrenched camp. of events that ended in the capitulation of The interior of the position will provide Metz. The fact that although from the casemate accommodation for an army of beginning of his charge until he struck considerable strength. Its defences will the front of the first French infantry line, consist of a circle at intervals of about Von Bredow took the rifle-fire of a whole 2500 yards, of permanent redoubts which French division, yet did not lose above shall be invisible at moderate ranges, for fifty men, has been a notable weapon in infantry and machine guns, the garrison the hands of those who argue that good of each redoubt to consist of a half batcavalry can charge home unshaken talion. Such a work was in 1886 coninfantry. But never more will French structed at Chatham in thirty-one working infantry shoot from the hip as Lafont's days, to hold a garrison of 200 men conscripts at Mars la Tour shot in the housed in casemates built in concrete, for vague direction of Bredow's squadrons. less than 30001., and experiments proved French cavalry never got within yards of that it would require a prohibitory exGerman infantry even in loose order ; and penditure” of ammunition to cause it serithe magazine or repeating rifle held reason- ous damage by artillery fire. The supably straight will stop the most thrusting porting defensive armament will consist of cavalry that ever heard the “charge” sound. a powerful artillery rendered mobile by
Fortifications of the future will differ means of tramroads, this defence supplecuriously from those of the present. The mented by a field force carrying on outlatter, with their towering scarps, their post duties and manning field works guardmassives enceintes, their “portentous ing the intervals between the redoubts. ditches,” will remain as monuments of a Advanced defences and exterior obstacles vicious system, except where, as in the of as formidable a character as possible cases of Vienna, Cologne, Sedan, etc., the will be the complement of what in effect dwellers in the cities they encircle shall will be an immensely elaborated Plevna, procure their demolition for the sake of which, properly armed and fully organized, elbow-room, or until modern howitzer will “fulfil all the requirements of deshells or missiles charged with high ex- fence," while possessing important potenplosives shall pulverize their naked expanse tialities of offence.
An illastration is pertinent of the pre- so long such a mass of troops standing fast, eminent utility of such fortified and and simultaneously prosecute the invasion strongly held positions, of whose charac- of a first-rate power with approximately teristics the above is the merest outline. equal numbers. France at the cost of In the event of a future Franco-German 150,000 men would be holding supine on war, the immensely expensive cordon of her frontier double the number of Gerfortresses with which the French hare mans-surely no disadvantageous transaclined their frontier, efficiently equipped, tion. daly garrisoned and well commanded, will In conclusion, it may be worth while to unquestionably present a serious obstacle point out that the current impression, that to the invading armies. The Germans the maintenance by states of “bloated talk of vive force-shell heavily and then armaments” is a keen incentive to war, is storm ; the latter resort one for which they fallacions. How often do we hear, have in the past displayed no predilection. “ There must be a big war soon ; the Whether by storm or interpenetration, powers cannot long stand the cost of standthey will probably break the cordon, but ing looking at each other, all armed to they cannot advance without masking all the teeth !” War is infinitely more costly the principal fortresses. This will employ than the costliest preparedness. But this a considerable portion of their strength, is not all. The country gentleman for and the invasion will proceed in less force, once in a way brings his family to town which will be an advantage to the defend- for the season, pledging hinself privily to ers. But if instead of those multitudinous strict economy when the term of dissipafortresses the French had constructed, say, tion ends, in order to restore the balance. three such entrenched-camp fortresses as But for a state, as the sequel to a season have been sketched, each quartering 50,- of war, there is no such potentiality of 000 men, it would appear that they would economy. Rather there is the grim cerhave done better for themselves at far less tainty of heavier and yet heavier expendicost. Each entrenched position containing ture after the war, in the still obligatory a field army 50,000 strong, would engross character of the armed man keeping his a beleaguering host of 100,000 men. The house. Therefore it is that potentates positions of the type outlined are claimed are reluctant to draw the sword, and rather to be impregnable ; they could contain sup- bear the ills they have than fly to other plies and munitions for at least a year, de- evils inevitably worse still. Whether the taining around them for that period 300,- final outcome will be universal national 000 of the enemy. No European power bankruptcy or the millennium, is a probexcept Russia has soldiers enough to spare lem.-Nineteenth Century.
THE SCIENCE OF CRITICISM.
HENRY JAMES, ANDREW LANG, AND EDMUND
illustrations and productions, and the
deluge of doctrine, suspended in the void, If literary criticism may be said to flour- the profusion of talk and the poverty of ish among us at all, it certainly flourishes experiment, of what one may call literary immensely, for it flows through the conduct. This, indeed, ceases to be an periodical press like a river that has burst anomaly as soon as we look at the condiits dykes. The quantity of it is prodigious. tions of contemporary journalism. Then and it is a cominodity of which, however we see that these conditions have engenthe demand may be estimated, the supply dered the practice of “reviewing”—a will be sure to be, in any supposable ex. practice that, in general, hus nothing in tremity, the last thing to fail us. What common with the art of criticism. Peristrikes the observer above all, in such an odical literature is a huge open mouth affluence, is the unexpected proportion which has to be fed-a vessel of immense the discourse uttered bears to the objects capacity which has to be filled. discoursed of —the paucity of examples, of a regular train which starts at an advertised
hour, but which is free to start only if rather one of a certain kind of pretentious every seat be occupied. The seats are and unprofitable gloom ?” The vulgarity, many, the train is porderously long, and the crudity, the stupidity which this cherhence the manufacture of dummies for the ished combination of the off-hand review
when there are not passengers and of our wonderful system of publicity enough. A stuffed manikin is thrust into have put into circulation on so vast a scale the empty seat, where it makes a credit may be represented, in such a mood, as an able figure till the end of the journey. It unprecedented invention for darkening looks sufficiently like a passenger, and you counsel. The bewildered spirit may ask know it is not one only when you perceive itself, without speedy answer, What is the that it neither says any thing nor gets out. function in the life of man of such a reThe guard attends to it when the train is verberation of platitude and irrelevance ? shunted, blows the cinders from its wood- Such a spirit will wonder how the life of en face and gives a different crook to its man survives it, and above all, what is elbow, so that it may serve for another much more important, how literature rerun.
In this way, in well-conducted sists it ; whether indeed literature does periodical, the blocks of remplissage are resist it and is not speedily going down the dummies of criticism--the recurrent, beneath it. The signs of this catastrophe regulated billows in the ocean of talk. will not, in the case we suppose, be found They have a reason for being, and the too subtle to be pointed out-the failure situation is simpler when we perceive it. of distinction, the failure of style, the failIt helps to explain the disproportion I just ure of knowledge, the failure of thought. mentioned, as well, in many a case, as the The case is, therefore, one for recognizing quality of the particular discourse. It with dismay that we are paying a tremenhelps us to understand that the “organs dous price for the diffusion of penmanship of public opinion” must be no less copious and opportunity, that the multiplication than punctual, that publicity must main. of endowments for chatter may be as fatal tain its high standard, that ladies and gen- an infectious disease, that literature tlemen may turn an honest penny by the lives essentially, in the sacred depths of free expenditure of ink. It gives us a its being, upon example, upon perfection glimpse of the high figure presumably wrought, that, like other sensitive organreached by all the honest pennies accumu- isms, it is highly susceptible of demoralilated in the cause, and throws us quite into zation, and that nothing is better addressed a glow over the march of civilization and than irresponsible pedagogy to making it the way we have organized our con- lose faith in itself. To talk about it veniences. From this point of view it clumsily is to poison the air it breathes, might indeed go far toward making us en- and the consequence of that sort of taint thusiastic about our age.
What is more is that it dwindles and dies. We may, of calculated to inspire us with a just com- course, continue to talk about it long after placency than the sight of a new and flour. it is dead, and there is every appearance lishing industry, a fine economy of pro- that this is mainly the way in which our duction ? The great business of review- descendants will hear of it ; not, perhaps, ing has, in its roaring routine, many of that they will much regret its departure, the signs of blooming health, many of the with our report to go by. features which beguile one into rendering This, I am aware, is a dismal impres. an involuntary homage to successful en- sion, and I do not pretend to state the case terprise.
gayly. The most I can say is that there Yet it is not to be denied that certain are times and places in which it strikes one captious persons are to be met who are not as less desperate than at others. One of carried away by the spectacle, who look at the places is Paris, and one of the times is it much askance, who see but dimly some comfortable occasion of being there. whither it tends, and who find no aid to The custom. of rough and ready reviewing vision even in the great light (about itself, is, among the French, much less rooted its spirit and its purposes, among other than with us, and the dignity of criticism things) that it might have been expected to is, to my perception, in consequence much diffuse. “Is there any such great light at higher. The art is felt to be one of the all ?”' we may imagine the most restless of most difficult, the most delicate, the most the sceptics to inquire, “and isn't the effect occasional ; and the material on which it is exercised is subject to selection, to re- one's conception. It certainly represents striction. That is, whether or no the the knight who has knelt through his long French are always right as to what they vigil and who has the piety of his office. 'do notice, they strike me as infallible as For there is something sacrificial in his to what they don't. They publish hun- function, inasmuch as he offers himself as dreds of books which are never noticed at a general touchstone.
To lend himself, all, and yet they are much neater book- to project himself and steep himself, to makers than we. It is recognized that feel and feel till he understands, and to such volumes have nothing to say to the understand so well that he can say, to have critical sense, that they do not belong to perception at the pitch of passion and exliterature, and that the possession of the pression in the form of talent, to be incritical sense is exactly what makes it im- finitely curions and incorrigibly patient, possible to read them and dreary to discuss with the intensely fixed idea of turning them-places them, as a part of critical character and genius and history inside out experience, out of the question. The - these are ideas to give an active mind critical sense, in France, ne se dérange a high programme and to add the element pas, as the phrase is, for so little. No of artistic beauty to the conception of sucone would deny, on the other hand, that cess. Just in proportion as he is sentient when it does set itself in motion, it goes and restless, just in proportion as he further than with us. It handles the sub- vibrates with intellectual experience, is the ject, in general, with finer finger-tips. critic a valuable instrument ; for in literaThe bluntness of ours, as tactile implements ture, assuredly, criticism is the critic, just addressed to an exquisite process, is still as art is the artist ; it being assuredly the sometimes surprising, even after frequent artist who invented art and the critic who exhibition. We blunder in and out of the invented criticism, and not the other way affair as if it were a railway station—the round. easiest and most public of the arts. It is And it is with the kinds of criticism exin reality the most complicated and the actly as it is with the kinds of art—the most particular. The critical sense is so best kind, the only kind worth speaking far from frequent that it is absolutely rare of, is the kind that the most living spirit and that the possession of the cluster of gives us. There are a hundred labels and qualities that minister to it is one of the tickets, in all this matter, that have been highest distinctions. It is a gift ines- pasted on from the outside and appear to timably precious and beautiful ; therefore, exist for the convenience of passers-by ; so far from thinking that it passes over- but the critic who lives in the house, rangmuch from hand to hand, one knows that ing through its innumerable chambers, one has only to stand by the counter an knows nothing about the bills on the hour to see that business is done with front. He only knows that the more imbaser coin. We have too many small pressions he has the more he is able to schoolmasters ; yet not only do I not ques- record, and that the more he is saturated, tion in literature the high utility of criti- poor fellow, the more he can give out. cism, but I should be tempted to say that His life, at this rate, is heroic, for it is the part it plays may be the supremely immensely vicarious.
immensely vicarious. He has to underbeneficent one when it proceeds from deep stand for others and to interpret, and he is sources, from the efficient combination of
always under arms. He knows that the experience and perception. In this light whole honor of the matter, for him, beone sees the critic as the real helper of sides the success in his own eyes, depends mankind, a torch-bearing outrider, the in- upon his being indefatigably supple, and terpreter par excellence.
that is a formidable order. Let me not have of such the better, though there will speak, however, as if his work were a consurely always be obstacles enough to our scious grind, for the sense of effort is easily having many. When one thinks of the lost in the enthusiasm of curiosity. Any outfit required for fine work in this spirit, vocation has its bours of intensity that is one is ready to pay almost any homage to so closely connected with life. That of the intelligence that has put it on; and the critic,' in literature, is connected when one considers the noble figure com- doubly, for he deals with life at secondpletely equipped-armed cap-à-pie in curi- hand as well as at first ; that is, he deals osity and sympathy-one falls in love with with the experience of others, which he
resolves into his own, and not of those in- ings of other critics, daily or weekly, are vented and selected others with whom the often so ignorant, so prejudiced, so spitenovelist makes comfortable terms, but ful, so careless, that perhaps no printed with the uncompromising swarm of matter is more entirely valueless and conauthors, the clamorous children of history. temptible. It may be said that the topics He has to make them as vivid and as free with which the ordinary reviewer deals, as the novelist makes his puppets, and get the books on which he pronounces judghe has, as the phrase is, to take them as ment, are not much better than the judgthey come. We must be easy with him mnents he pronounces. This is very true, if the picture, even when the aim bas but it seems a pity that bad books should really been to penetrate, is sometimes con. not be barren, but should beget bad refused, for there are baffling and there are views. That great George Dandin, the thankless subjects; and we compensate public, has willed it so. him in the peculiar purity of our esteem, Perhaps the only kind of Criticism worth when the portrait is really, as it were, like reading or writing is that which narrates the happy portraits of the other art, a the adventures of an ingenious and educattranslation into style.
ed mind in contact with masterpieces. HENRY JAMES. The literary masterpieces of the world are
so rich, so full of beauties, so charged with
ideas, that some or many of these must Let us define Criticism as the form of escape most readers. We wander as in a skilled labor which is occupied in writing world full of flowers : we cannot gather about other men's books, old or new. If all, nor observe all. It is pleasant and Sainte-Beuve wrote on Dante, tbat is Crit- profitable to hear the experiences of anicism ; and if a paragrapbist in a news- other in the same paradise, of another paper compose a column of printed matter whose temper, whose knowledge of the out of the prefaces of new books which he world and of books, are very different from has not read, that is Criticism also. It is
We may agree with what he Criticism which discovers that Homer's tells us, or may differ, but even in our works were compiled, in about five hun- differences we feel that we learn much, dred years, by about fifty different authors. that our mind is moved to new activities. And it is Criticism which finds out that Thus, for example, if a critic's chief duty Mr. Smith or Mr. Brown steals his success- is to be correct, to be sound in his judge ful novels from Bishop Berkeley or Thomas ments, it is plain that neither Mr. Matthew Moore. The former is an example of the Arnold nor, to take a modern instance, M. Higher Criticism, the latter of the lower Jules Lemaître is always an impeccable species, and, really, both seem about critic. Mr. Arnold's Lectures on Transequally valuable. It is not easy to find a lating Homer, a most lively and enlivening common factor in Criticism, in the studies book, was vitiated (to my taste) by his exof which Aristotle and Longinus, Matthew traordinary zeal for the English hexameter. Arnold and Sainte-Beuve, are masters, It also contained many examples of his pet while unsuccessful lady novelists and un- form of injustice. He chose an admirable educated pressmen form, perhaps, the ma- passage from Homer, and as bad a passage jority of the school. All of them write as he could find from a ballad or from about the works of other people, all dis- Scott : he placed them beside each other tribute praise and blame ; these are points and drew conclusions. How a critic could common to all critics, though in reading, ever persuade himself that this childish knowledge, taste, and temper there is process was an argument we are not able every sort of diversity. All critics are to guess. But, on the other hand, the contemplating works of literary art through Lectures were full of deeply thought and the medium of their own temperaments, keenly felt ideas on and impressions from looking at them with their own eyes, es- Homeric poetry. Homer's admirers were timating them by their own standards. delighted with new, and sound, and well Yet the writings of some critics are eternal expressed reasons for their admiration. In possessions ; always good to know and to the same way M. Jules Lemaître confesses live with, like the Poetics of Aristotle, or to more ignorance and more prejudice the Ars Poetica of Horace, or the Treatise than, perhaps, he would like his enemies of Longinus on the Sublime. The writ- to charge him with. But he possesses, in