Imágenes de páginas

of favorable conditions at the present day, importance in relation to certain puzzling and which might probably have been more facts of geographical distribution. At easily effected when the Persian Gulf ex- any rate, continuous land joined Asia tended further north. Hence, the recourse Minor with the Balkan peninsula ; and its to the “ glacial epoch" for some event surface bore deep freshwater lakes, apwhich might colorably represent a flood, parently disconnected with the Pontodistinctly asserted by the only authority Aralian sea. This state of things lasted for it to have occurred in historical times, long enough to allow of the formation of is peculiarly unfortunate. Even a Welsh the thick lacustrine strata to which I have antiquarian "might hesitate over the suppo- referred. I am not aware that there is the sition that a tradition of the fate of Moel smallest ground for the assumption that Tryfaen, in the glacial epoch, had furnished Ægean land was broken up in consequence the basis of fact for a legend which arose of any of the " catastrophes” which are among people whose own experience so commonly invoked. *

For anything abundantly supplied them with the need that appears to the contrary, the narrow ful precedents. Moreover, if evidence of steep-sided straits between the islands of interchanges of land and sea are to be ac- the Ægean archipelago may have been cepted as “confirmations” of Noah's originally brought about by ordinary atdeluge, there are plenty of sources for the mospheric and stream action, and filled tradition to be had much nearer than from the Mediterranean, during a slow Wales.

submergence proceeding from the south The depression now filled by the Red northwards. The strait of the Dardanelles Sea, for example, appears to be, geolog- is bounded by undisturbed pleistocene ically, of very recent origin. The later strata forty feet thick, through which, to deposits found on its shores two or three all appearance, the present passage has hundred feet above the sea level contain been quietly cut. no remains older than those of the present That Olympus and Ossa were torn fauna ; while, as I have already mentioned, asunder and the waters of the Thessalian the valley of the adjacent delta of the Nile basin poured forth, is a very ancient nowas a gulf of the sea in miocene times. tion, and an often cited confirmation" But there is not a particle of evidence that of Deucalion's flood.

It has not yet the change of relative level which admitted ceased to be in vogue, apparently because the waters of the Indian Ocean between those who entertain it are not aware that Arabia and Africa, took place any faster modern geological investigation has conthan that which is now going on in Green- clusively proved that the gorge of the land and in Scandinavia, and which has Peneus is as typical an example of a val-. left their inbabitants undisturbed. Even ley of erosion as any to


seen in more remarkable changes were effected, Auvergne or in Colorado. toward the end of, or since, the glacial Thus, in the immediate vicinity of the epoch, over the region now occupied by vast expanse of country which can be the Levantine Mediterranean and the proved to have been untouched by any Ægean Sea. The eastern coast region of catastrophe before, during, and since the Asia Minor, the western of Greece, and “glacial epoch, lie the great areas of many of the intermediate islands, exhibit the Ægean and the Red Sea, in which, thick masses of stratified deposits of later during or since the glacial epoch, changes tertiary age and of purely lacustrine char- of the relative positions of land and sea acters; and it is remarkable that, on the have taken place in comparison with which south side of the island of Crete, such the submergence of Moel Tryfaen, with all masses present steep cliffs facing the sea, Wales and Scotland to boot, does not so that the southern boundary of the lake come to inuch. in which they were formed must have been What, then, is the relevancy of talk situated where the sea now flows. Indeed, there are valid reasons for the sup- * It is true that earthqnakes are common position that the dry land once extended enough, but they are incompetent to produce far to the west of the present Levantine such changes as those which have taken place. coast, and not improbably forced the Nile

+ See Teller, Geologische Beschreibung des to seek an outlet to the north-east of its Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien, Bd. xl.

sud-östlichen Thessalien : Denkschriften d. present delta--a possibility of no small p. 199.


[merged small][ocr errors]

more cominon

over the

[ocr errors]

about the 66

glacial epoch” to the ques- aware, the views supposed to hare effected tion of the historical veracity of the nar

this overthrow had been fully and publicly rator of the story of the Noachian deluge ? Geikie, Green and Prestwich in this country;

discussed by Dana in the United States ; by So far as my knowledge goes, there is not by Lapparent in France'; and by Credner in a particle of evidence that destructive in- Germany. undations were

(2) The Duke of Argyll says “ that no seri. general surface of the earth in the glacial

ous reply has ever been attempted ” (p. 305).

The truth is that the highest living authority epoch, than they have been before or

on the subject, Professor Dana, published a since. No doubt the fringe of an ice- most weighty reply, two years before the Duke covered region is always liable to them ; of Argyll committed himself to this statement. but, if we examine the records of such

(3) The Duke of Argyll uses the preceding catastrophes in historical times, those pro

products of defective knowledge, multiplied

by excessive imagination, to illustrate the duced in the deltas of great rivers, or in manner in which certain accepted opinions" lowlands like Holland, by sudden floods, establish" a sort of Reign of Terror in their combined with gales of wind or with un

own behalf”

(p. 307). usual tides, far excel all others.

The truth is that no plea, except that of total

ignorance of the literature of the subject, can With respect to such inundations as are

excuse the errors cited, and that the "Reign the consequences of earthquakes, and other of Terror" is a purely subjective phenomenon, slight movements of the crust of the earth, (4) The letter in Nature," for the 17th of I have never heard of anything to show

November, 1887, to which I am referred, con.

tains neither substantiation, nor retractation, that they were more frequent and severer

of statements 1 and 2. Nevertheless, it re. in the quaternary or tertiary epochs than peats Dumber 3. The Duke of Argyll says of they are now. In the discussion of these, his article that it “ has done what I intended as of all other geological problems, the

it to do. It has called wide attention to the appeal to needless catastrophes is born of influence of mere authority in establishing

erroneous theories and in retarding the progthat impatience of the slow and painful

ress of scientific truth." search after sufficient causes in the ordinary (5) The Duke of Argyll illustrates the influ. course of nature which is a temptation to ence of his fictitious “ Reign of Terror" by the all, though only energetic ignorance now

statement that Mr. John Murray was strongly

advised against the publication of his views adays completely succumbs to it.-Nine

in derogation of Darwin's long-accepted theory teenth Century.

of the coral islands, and was actually induced

to delay it for two years'' (p. 307). And in POSTSCRIPT.

"Nature" for the 17th of November, 1887, tbe

Duke of Argyll states that he has seen a letter My best thanks are due to Mr. Gladstone for from Sir Wyville Thomson in which he his courteous withdrawal of one of the state. “urged and almost insisted that Mr. Murray ments to which I have thought it needful to should withdraw the reading of his papers on take exception. The familiarity with contro- the subject from the Royal Society of Edin. versy to which Mr. Gladstone alludes, will burgh. This was in February 1:77.The have accustomed him to the misadventures Dext paragraph, however, contains the con. which arise when, as sometimes will happen fession : · No special reason was assigned." in the heat of fence, the buttons come off the The Duke of Argyll proceeds to give a specu. foils. I trust that any scratch he may have lative opinion that “ Sir Wyville dreaded some received will heal as quickly as my own flesh injury to the scientific reputation of the body wounds have done.

of which he was the chief." Truly, a very

probable supposition ; but as Sir Wyville A contribution to the last number of this Re. Thomson's tendencies were notoriously anti. view of a different order would be left upno. Darwinian, it does not appear to me to lend ticed, were it not that my silence would con. the slightest justification to the Duke of vert me into an accessory to misrepresenta. Argyle's insinuation that the Darwinian “ter. tions of a very grave character. However, I ror" influenced him. However, the question shall restrict myself to the barest possible was finally set at rest by a letter which ap. statement of facts, leaving my readers to peared in Nature" (29th of December, 1887) draw their own conclusions.

in which the writer says that : In an article entitled “A Great Lesson," talking with Sir Wgville about 'Murray's published in this Review for September, 1887 : new theory,' I asked what objection he had

(1) The Duke of Argyll says the overthrow to its being brought before the public? The of Darwin's speculations” (p. 301) concerning answer simply was : he considered that the the origin of coral reefs, which he fancied had grounds of the theory had not, as yet, been taken place, had been received by men of sci. sufficiently investigated or susñciently cor. ence “ with a grudging silence as far as public roborated, and that therefore any immature, discussion is concerned" (p. 301).

dogmatic publication of it would do less than The truth is that, as every one acquainted little service either to science or to the author with the literature of the subject was well of the paper."

Sir Wyville Thomson was an intimate friend brought forward by Messrs. Murray and of mine, and I am glad to have been afforded Guppy against Darwin's theory are not facts ; one more opportunity of clearing his character secondly, that the others are reconcilable with from the aspersions which have been so reck. Darwin's theory ; and, thirdly, that the theo. lessly cast upon his good sense and his scien- ries of Messrs. Murray and Guppy “ are contific honor.

tradicted by a series of important facts" (p. (6) As to the “overthrow" of Darwin's 13). theory, which, according to the Duke of Argyll, Perhaps I had better draw attention to the was patent to every unprejudiced person four circumstance that Dr. Langenbeck writes unyears ago, I have recently become acquainted der shelter of the guns of the fortress of Strasswith a work, in which a really competent burg ; and may therefore be presumed to be authority,* thoroughly acquainted with all the unaffected by those dreams of a “ Reign of new lights which have been thrown upon the Terror" which seem to disturb the peace of subject during the last ten years, pronounces some of us in these islands.-T. H, H., April, the judgment; firstly, that some of the facts 1891.



'Say, hast thou lied ?' And 'I have lied
To God and her,' he said, and died."

R. BROWNING (Count Gismond).

[blocks in formation]

* Dr. Langenbeck, Die Theorien über die Entstehung der Korallen-Inseln und Korallen Riffe (p. 13), 1890. NEW SERIES.— VOL. LIV., No 1.






[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

A French author addresses, or may

Yet a French author addresses at address, directly in their own tongue some once a vast ready-made auditory over the seventy million human souls at most. civilized earth ; while an English author Indeed, this is a very inclusive estimate, addresses at best but his own fellowfor I throw in ali Belgium, whether speakers in Europe, America, and AusFlemish or French-speaking, with a liberal tralia. Not only are Renan and Daudet allowance for Gallic Switzerland, Canada, known and read wherever printed books Haiti ; and I deduct nothing at all from can penetrate, but even very young men the total sum (since I hate subtraction) (as we count youth nowadays), like Paul for the mass of Southern Frenchmen who Bourget and Guy de Maupassant, can can speak or read no language save Pro- achieve at one blow a European reputavençal, nor yet for the remnant of German tion. Whereas English men of letters— Alsace, for La Bretagne Bretonnante, for as distinguished from English men of scithe Basques of the Pyrenees, for the ence-rarely attain any celebrity at all, at Italians of Corsica, for the Arabs and least during their own lifetime, outside the Kabyles and Berbers of Algeria. In narrow limits of their essentially provincial reality, were I disposed to be strict, a English-speaking world. modest estimate of forty-five inillion peo- That," the suburban critic interposes ple who have used French from childbood glibly, with the easy confidence begotten as their mother-tongue would be far of plentiful want of thought, “ that is, of nearer the inark than the generous figures course, because everybody everywhere I here assign them. But let that pass. learns at least to read French, while comWe will allow for argument's sake, just to paratively few foreigners ever learn to read prevent unpleasantness, that a French English. You think so? Well, so be novelist, poet, rhetorician, or thinker ad. it. I fancied, my friend, you would raise dresses directly an audience of some sev. offhand that cheap and ineffective solution enty millions. Well, and an English au- of a hard problem. But, then, how about thor addresses directly, in Europe, Asia, Russian ? Tolstoi, Dostoieffski, TourgéAfrica, Australia, America, a roughly esti. nieff, and the rest are so much appreciated mated audience of at least one hundred and admired in Western Europe, I supand ten million souls. He speaks to the pose, because all of us know how to read greatest theatre the world bas ever known. and speak Russian so fluently ! A His breast swells with manly pride as he fainiliar acquaintance with the Scandinavian thinks of his Mission. From his stage in dialects forms an integral part of a polite London he scatters his words broadcast to education, of course ; which is why all all the four winds of heaven, to be wafted the world goes wild about Ibsen. A genon the breeze (or, inore practically, in the tleman can hardly confess to a coniplete mail-bags) to the uttermost parts of the ignorance of Provençal ; and that explains earth, from the Shetlands to New Zea- the vogue accorded to Mireio. What land, from Labrador to California, from nonsense ! The plain truth is this-it Jamaica to Mauritius, from the Cape of matters little nowadays in what language Good Hope to Honolulu and Fiji and a man delivers himself, provided only he British Columbia.

has something to say that interests the naBut with what effect? Ah, there tions. Given that prime factor, and the comes the difference! We may blush to greedy translator pounces upon his work admit it. France is an alınost restrictedly from afar off, like the hawk upon the European republic, with a dwindling na- laverock. You may read Herbert Spencer tive population of forty million souls ; nowadays in Japanese or Gujerati ; and England is the centre of a world-wide em- iny friend Edward Clodd has seen his pire, which has colonized enormous tracts graceful and beautiful Childhood of the of all the outlying continents, and ab- World rendered not only into the Finnish sorbed in its colonies, revolted or faithful, tongue but also into the guttural clicks of the entire overflow of other tongues and the Bechuara Kaffirs.

Yet the fact remains that, while the In England, indeed, literature has a English author addresses at first hand the strange environment. No rare plant ever largest audience in the world, fewer Eng- throve on stonier soil. It is Bohemia in lish authors are known outside the English- Philistia, a little archipelago of island speaking people than Scandinavians or specks that fleck a vast wide sea of stag. Russians. It is quite true, the names nant indifference. The man of letters in alone of a few icy peaks in our contem- Britain lives and moves and has his being porary literature, now hoary with age and in an alien world, that distrusts and disclogged with gathering glaciers, may be likes him. The light shines in the darkfreely heard in Continental salons. Even ness, and the darkness comprehendeth it Frenchmen are probably aware that we not. For we English, owing in part to possess a Tennyson-perhaps (though ethnical causes, in part to that singular isothere I am more doubtful) a Morris, a lation of our component classes which Meredith, a Froude, a Swinburne. But Matthew Arnold deplored—itself, as I benobody on the Continent really reads Eng- lieve, a result of imperfect ethnical interlish books (except in science and philoso- mixture—we English consist of more phy); nobody certainly ever opens an sharply demarcated intellectual and English novel. Darwin, Huxley, Spencer, æsthetic grades than any other people on Tyndall, Thompson, are names as familiar earth one has seen or read of. Nobody throughout Europe as in Burlington House could ever have asked about Englishmen, itself. Not so our contemporary poets, as the French wit asked about Germans, romance-writers, essayists. They address si un anglais peut avoir de l'esprit. at best England, America, Australia. Genius, intelligence, humor, brilliancy, With that magnificent audience ready-made cleverness, exist among us in rank abunfor their effusions, not an echo of their dance. But they exist for all that as comvoice ever transcends for a moment the parative exceptions. No nation produces provincial bounds of Greater Britain. more ; but no nation produces them in

It's always a pleasure to me to agree such strange isolation. The mass of our with Mr. Stead, with whom one can so middle class is as dull as ditch-water or often and so amicably differ ; and I agree the dullest German. The exceptions are with him cordially in his profound belief almost as sparkling as champagne or the in the glorious future reserved for the most sparkling Frenchman. And between Anglo-Celtic race. The world is to the the two extremes there are but few gradayoung, says the Servian proverb ; and tions. What we lack, in a word, is not England shows its perennial youth to the men of genius, but a large appreciative present day, by being fruitful and multi- and critical body of the general public. plying and replenishing the earth, which Now, English literature is all, in the no effete orgavism, be it man or nation, main, and roughly speaking, produced in ever yet through all time has succeeded in England. The thirty millions do the doing. The English-speaking writer thinking and writing for the hundred and ought, therefore, to have the whole world ten. McKinley has failed to protect ocat his feet. Instead of that, he is ousted cidental culture. There is an American on his own ground, often enough, by the literature, it is true ; but it is relatively Zolas and the Gaboriaus, the Tolstois and insignificant in amount for a population the Ibsens. It's easier to boom a Basque of over fifty millions, and most of it is poet or a Queen of Roumania than to gain modelled on native English forms. With attention abroad for an English writer. few exceptions, indeed Mark Twain, And why? Not surely because English Bret Harte, Walt Whitman—the best of writers have nothing to say : ideas spring it rings but a faint echo of Britannic muras thick and as spontaneous on English soil, murs, thrives feebly as a Bostonian exotic, I verily believe, as on Muscovite steppes nursed with studious care in the artificial or Norwegian fiords—Britain pullulates hothouses of the Back Bay and the halls with genius : but because that Philistine of Harvard. There is even beginning to English spirit which Mr. Stead adores be in a certain vague and formless way, as effectually nips those ideas in the bad, be- of the evolving jelly-fish, some rudimentary fore they have ever the chance of bursting foreshadowing of Australian and Canadian into flower and bringing forth kindly fruits literature. But these formative efforts on in due season.

the part of the outlying members of the

« AnteriorContinuar »