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what is for ever denied to the mere critic. If these one hundred and twenty-six sonnets were not addressed to his son, then, I ask, "what is the meaning of these hidden allusions?”
Before closing this paper, and after despatching the more direct evidence, I may be permitted to draw my reader's attention to one or two of the other sonnets, in which may be found an indirect testimony of what I advance. Is not the first sonnet an entreaty to a son to marry? In the second, read by the strong light of my theory, what is plainer than the plea
“When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold.” What a delicate flattery in this ! and always the father who speaks. Up to sonnet xvii., it is an incessant appeal to his son to marry; and, it may be suspected, at the mother's instance. When she dies, the appeal ceases, and is never renewed again!
Our most positive and all-knowing Shakespearian, Mr. Swinburne, has lately laid down the law, that
“Upon the sonnets such a preposterous pyramid of presumptuous commentary has been reared by the Cimmerian speculation and Baotian 'brain sweat' of sciolists and scholiasts, that no modest man [this is not bad] will hope, and no wise man (this is better] will desire, to add to the structure, or subtract one single brick of proof or disproof, theorem or theory.”
With some respect for this dictum, from an author whose "flux de bouche," when he gets into prose, is well known, and who will deny himself assuredly thrice ere he die, and yet write volumes upon these very sonnets, I, who am a very much older student of our author, would say to him, “Read the sonnets, and write rather less of this clever rubbish; the sonnets have a meaning, although it may not have been granted to you to see it."
G. SMITH TRAVERS.
THE MINAH BIRD.
LOVE, that plumes his golden wing
Built his nest by me;
Brought a mate, his joys to share,
Ensconced in greenwood tree.
Wondering at his happy life,
Like his, so sweet and fair;
Keenly I sought within the glade,
Nor failed to find her there.
Sings Love in mine ear his song,
Nor know I any care!
THE CONTEMPORARY THOUGHT OF GREAT BRITAIN, EUROPE, AND THE
THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. The October number opens with one of Lord Sherbrooke's (Mr. Robert Lowe) biting articles, which so remind one of the “ Letters of Junius.” The theme, this time, is obstruction in Parliament, as exemplified in the conduct of the Home Rule party. If powerful writing could cure the evil, then would the present diatribe suffice of itself to silence for ever all talkers against time in the House of Commons. It is a masterly piece of writing, and the writer means what he says to the last particle of expression. He concludes by contrasting the rules of public debate adopted by the ancient Athenians with the laxer regulations sanctioned by custom in modern England. “We know how to measure time, but not how to save it. We can determine time to an instant, but seem curiously ignorant of its value. The noble orations of Lysias, Isæus, Æschines, and Demosthenes, the very dust of which is as gold, were pronounced within a period measured by the emptying of a brazen vessel.” Demosthenes, challenging an opponent to prove some assertion, offers to prove his point in his own time as measured by water. Was time so valuable in Athens, and is it so valueless in England, that any one of 658 members is at liberty to waste it as he pleases ? If it be not, then let the same rule of timing speakers be also adopted forthwith in the British Parliament. Such is the logical conclusion to which Lord Sherbrooke comes, and he is only a little in advance of his times in so concluding:
If anybody wants to read an eloquent and skilful plea for the Religion of Comtism, and a slaughterous attack on every other form of religious belief now existing, let him read Mr. Frederic Harrison's paper on Creeds: Old and New.” It is the case of the atheist, whose sole god is Humanity, stated by a fanatic of that dark creed, whose hatred of all forms of religious faith is of even passionate intensity.
Chief Justice Cockburn has taken his departure at a ripe old age, and his last bequest to literature was an essay on “ The Chase: Its History and Laws,"—the first of a series—here printed. The topic is of fascinating interest for all sound readers; none such will pass it by. It is to be earnestly hoped that the late Chief Justice has left the series complete. If not, the present essay will remain as a splendid fragment of a work by a master-hand in his department. Who ever wearies of reading of hunting in classic times, the chase in the days of the Saxon kings, the forest laws, and all that makes Shakespeare's delightful pastoral drama of “ As You Like It," and Scott's superb “ Ivanhoe" so enchanting to the cultured intellect? This initial paper covers only the hunting of the eastern
world in ancient times. The subject of the hunting of the western world is as yet only a promise. May it be fulfilled! Meantime, here are clear evidences of the hand of a splendid scholar, a mighty hunter, and a consummate jurist.
Mr. E. D. J. Wilson discusses the “Unstable Equilibrium of Parties in the Imperial Parliament.” He takes a philosophical survey of the state of parties in the old country, and shows-first, that Conservatism is gradually but surely dying out; secondly, that the old Whig party is virtually defunct; thirdly, that aggressive Radicalism allies itself to the Liberals, but it is not a political creed that the English people will ever allow to become dominant. Therefore, and for these reasons, a third party, embracing the moderate men of all parties, must be forthwith formed. This is the great desideratum of the time.
A most amusing and informing paper on the Gypsies is contributed by Mr. Joseph Lucas. He designates the Gypsy kingdom-for such it is Petty Romany; and he condenses into fifteen pages all the information respecting these strange people that any intelligent reader can desire to have. The Gypsies are of Hindoo origin, and they are found in almost every country in Europe. There are 11,500 in Hungary; and in 1867, no less than 40,000 of them encamped on the plains of Belgrade. In 1871, there were 8025 persons living in caravans, tents, and the open air, in England and Wales, the majority of whom were undoubtedly Romany chals. Who does not know George Borrow's charming book on the Gypsies of Spain?
Lord Dunraven continues his ever-welcome papers on the wild sports of the Far West. His topic, this time, is “Wapiti Hunting on the Plains ;” and certainly it is a sport that excels in wildness of interest even deer-stalking in the Highlands of Scotland. The Wapiti is the stateliest of the deer tribe, having antlers of enormous length and strange convolutions. The Earl had some splendid sport, adding to Wapiti-hunting, trout-fishing in the ice-streams, and chasing mountain sheep on the slopes of the Sierras. His companion, “Buffalo Bill,” was just such a character as Bret Harte loves to draw.
Oliver Goldsmith, a century since, gave the world the ideas of a travelling Chinese philosopher on the ways and manners of the English people. The “Citizen of the World” is still a favourite book with all good readers. Well! here we have the very reality of Goldsmith's imaginary Chinaman, in His Excellency Liu-Ta-Jên, who went to Eng. land as ambassador from the Court of Pekin in 1876. He kept a diary of all he observed, and of his reflections thereon; and Mr. F. S. Bourne has been goud enough to translate the major part of the same into the English vernacular. It is a remarkable production, in that it gives one a clear insight into the intellectual composition of a Chinaman of the first rank and highest culture. There is manifest throughout a strange compound of childlike simplicity with Chinese shrewdness. Some things that Liu-TaJên says of the English people and their ways have the force of epigrams, like the observations of Voltaire's “Ingenu.
The Bishop of Carlisle reviews Professor Huxley's recent book on “ The Crayfish,” traversing, of course, the materialistic conclusion indicated in that work. It is a new chapter in the old controversy between science and faith, but very skilfully handled, by a thoroughly competent disputant.
The Bishop picks many holes in the Professor's logic; and this is his conclusion: Therefore, the philosophy of crayfishes, like all other philosophy, when fairly followed out, seems to me to transcend the material universe, to carry the human mind into regions in which physical science does not find itself, to point to the cloud which hides the Creator
from our view, and to indicate an Almighty hand of mystery behind the cloud, which is the maker and doer of all.
“Political Fatalism," as illustrated in the arguments of the Irish Home Rulers, is dealt with by Mr. H. D. Traill. By political fatalism, is, of course, meant the belief that public affairs have got into a certain groove, out of which no human power can take them, and in which they are rapidly rushing to some fatal end. The writer combats this view with conclusive force and great ability. The power to check, to modify, to direct, the tendency of affairs, is always present in human society, and therefore (he argues) nothing can be rightly declared to be inevitable.
A strange paper on “Demoniacal Possession in India," by Mr. W. Knighton, throws considerable light on the whole subject of the demonism of the East. The same subject was dealt with exhaustively in a series of articles in the Dublin University Magazine, some forty years since.
Mr. W. H. Pollock makes a vigorous defence of “Alexander the Great” Dumas, as his French admirers were wont to style him. The writer of Monte Christo and The Three Musketeers has been, as Mr. Pollock thinks, unduly underrated in England, and a vindication of his great literary ability and gigantic achievements in the field of fiction has become necessary. The article on Dumas in Chambers's Encyclopedia is scathingly severe, and Mr. Pollock's defence is intended as a rejoinder to
The article is a first-rate literary biography, filled with choice anecdotes, and redolent of fine literature. But Dumas had many and bitter enemies; one in particular, who calls himself Eugène de Mirecourt, who has done all that one active and vindictive mind can do to blast the fame of the writer whom Thackeray so admired.
Lord Lymington contributes an essay on a particular phase of the landlord question, which, of course, is destitute of interest for Australian readers.
BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE. This is a capital number of “Old Ebony,” every page of it good reading, saving the political article at the end. The story of Dr. Wortle's School progresses, and the scene changes to San Francisco. In almost every sentence one is struck with the marks of the hand of Mr. Anthony Trollope. Still, it is a most entertaining story.
“ Memory” is the title of one of those fine, thoughtful, philosophic essays for which Blackwood seems to hold a patent. It is packed with illustrations, anecdotes, facts, and instances. The subject is one in which every person is more or less interested. The wonder, indeed, is that memory is not equally powerful in all healthy minds. Some persons never forget anything at least anything they care to remember. The cultivation of this noble mental faculty in youth ought to be enforced as a duty on all boys and girls. It cannot be taught, it must be self-acquired; and once acquired, it never becomes weakened until extreme old age sets in, and not always even then.
A magnificent legendary ballad of the old Scottish pattern, entitled “ The Enchanted Bridle,” shows that the art of writing ballads of the best stamp did not die out with Scott, Surtees, and Lockhart. To any Scotchman of culture, the “Enchanted Bridle ” would be a priceless treasure in its department. It is a rare gem. Burns would have gloried in the ringing Scotch rhymes and weird incidents.
The unrivalled series of articles on “Bush Life in Queensland” comes to a close in this number, and all ends happily. But the story in this