페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

volved as if he consciously avoided that directness and simplicity of statement which a writer should aim at who is so hostile to "rhetoretic effects." The following passage is a fair example of his average style, selected because it is at once short and complete in itself:

The army had made all arrangements for departure, whether to fight elsewhere or to return home. The heavy siege-artillery had been embarked. It is not distinctly known whether the commander [Marlborough] arranged all this as a deep strategem, or, on the other hand, struck by an appearance of favorable conditions, he at once abandoned a fixed intention to depart. Whichever alternative we adopt, we see a man who must have possessed, for giving effect to it, two great qualities-the

one a supreme capacity for manipulating the movement

of troops, the other a clearness of judgment and percep

tion impervious to confusedness or unsteadiness of nerve.

Forbidding as the style is, however, this is not the worst defect that can be alleged against the work. The simplest record of the events of Queen Anne's reign, provided it were tolerably complete, could hardly fail to possess both interest and value, and these qualities can not be altogether denied to Dr. Burton's history; but, while the arbitrary arrangements dictated by chronology must be carefully avoided by the historian who aims at being something more than a mere annalist, yet it is no less important that the proper sequence of events should be preserved than that their relation to each other should be pointed out. And it is in this regard that Dr. Burton's work is most open to criticism. His grouping of subjects is intelligible enough, and on the whole helpful; but, in his treatment of them, the different groups are so completely detached from each other that it is impossible for the reader either to gather from them a general impression of the reign as a whole, or to learn what occurrences in the several groups were contemporaneous with each other. This is due partly to the scanty use of dates and to the curious inexactness of those which are used; but, it is due much more decidedly to the method of treatment adopted by the author, which renders his chapters separate and complete essays rather than closely interlinked parts of one organic whole. All sense of the progression or sequence of events is completely lost, and, when one of the infrequent dates is encountered, the reader will be quite as likely to be perplexed as assisted by it. slight experiment has convinced us that, for one who desires really to study the period, it would be quite worth while to go over the book once, inserting copious marginal dates, and then reperuse it with special attention to the significance of these dates.

A

Even when we confine our examination to the separate topics to which special prominence is given, the result is scarcely more satisfactory. Far too much space is used in detailing the causes and circumstances of the Union between England and Scotland. This was undoubtedly an event of the first importance not only in the history of England but in the history of Europe; but, while its results were of the utmost consequence, the motives which

inspired it and the steps which led to it were curiously destitute of either magnanimity or dignity. No community of blood or kindred, no memories of the past or aspirations for the future shared in common, no generous resolve to bury old wrongs in a new career of mutual helpfulness, no reciprocal sentiments of friendship or kindness, brought the two peoples together: the Act of Union was simply a hard and reluctant bargain between two trading nations, each trying to get the better of the other, and each grudging the other every shilling of possible profit that might be made out of the transaction. Scotland demanded as the price of union a share in the lucrative trade monopolies enjoyed by the then rapidly expanding English commerce: England it was cheaper to grant a share in the trade than to grumblingly paid the price under the conviction that

risk losing it all in the dubious and costly alternative of war. A really significant event in the history of the world was probably never brought about by paltrier motives or marked by meaner incidents; and, though he deals with it at great length, Dr. Burton is constrained to admit that "the interest is not of a kind to hold its intensity through after-generations."

Another topic, which is treated at a length altogether disproportionate to its relative importance, is "The Sacheverell Commotions." Two long chapters are devoted to these, and the trial of Sacheverell is rehearsed with a minuteness of detail that would hardly be justified if the work were five times as extensive as it really is. This disproportion is the more noticeable, because the influence which the Sacheverell "persecution" had in discrediting the Whigs and changing the Queen's policy and advisers is by no means rendered clear by Dr. Burton.

But the most conspicuous defect of the work in this regard is the closing chapter on "Intellectual Progress." Next to Marlborough's victories, the thing that gives its most distinguishing feature to the reign of Queen Anne is the literature then produced; and the very first question which an historian, proposing to deal with that reign, should ask himself should be, whether he is competent to deal with that literature. The task is certainly one that might discourage the most adventurous, and little surprise would be caused by a failure to do it complete justice; but Dr. Burton's method of getting over the difficulty is surely the very worst that could possibly have been adopted. In point of fact, he does not get over the difficulty at all, or even make an attempt to do so; he simply evades it. He begins his chapter by saying that "it would be a discourtesy to suppose that any reader requires to be informed about" Pope, Addison, Arbuthnot, Steele, and the more important works of Defoe; and, accordingly, of the fifty-three pages devoted to literature, eleven are devoted to "Tom Brown" (not Sir Thomas Browne, but a forgotten scribbler of that name), ten to Defoe's "Review" (the least important of all his publications, and only interesting to Dr. Burton because of its rarity), seventeen to showing that Swift was a vain, fussy, ambitious, pushing, and heartless màn, and an indecent writer, five to the "Law of Libels," one to

the newspaper press, three to copyright, and two to the study of classical literature. Neither Addison nor Steele is mentioned, Pope is dismissed in a page and a half, Gay in half a page (while Brome, whom Gay is thought to have imitated, gets three times as much), Arbuthnot and Parnell in half a page each.

The objections to such a method are so numerous and obvious that it would be a "discourtesy to the reader" to attempt to mention them all; but it may be worth while to point out the fact that a consistent application of the author's rule would have curtailed his narrative in a similar degree throughout. A larger number of readers, doubtless, know that Marlborough was the hero of Blenheim, Ramillies, and Malplaquet, than are familiar with the characters, works, and literary qualities of the group of authors named; therefore the author has betrayed "discourtesy to the reader" in narrating those battles in full, instead of confining himself to digging out from the rubbishheap of forgotten history an account of the minor skirmishes and marches that marked the campaigns. Every reader of history knows the significance and results of the Treaty of Utrecht; hence, in accordance with his rule, Dr. Burton should have excused himself from treating that, and refreshed our recollections with a minute account of the abortive Conference of Gertruydenberg, which preceded it, and which the world has totally forgotten. The truth is, however, that, if such a doctrine were accepted as valid, the historian would be excluded from every field or subject that had been treated before him in such a way that a well-informed reader might fairly be supposed to be acquainted with it; and no long time would elapse before this entire department of letters would be fenced off and prohibited to all future intruders.

It can not be denied, of course, that there are both reason and plausibility in the doctrine of Professor Seeley and his school, that history proper has nothing to do with literature, the arts, industry, science, social progress, and the like; and a writer could hardly be blamed who, having accepted this doctrine, should write a history of the reign of Queen Anne without attempting to deal with its literature. But this, it will have been seen, is not the position of Dr. Burton. He acknowledges the obligation to deal with literature as one of the most significant phenomena of the period of which he treats; and, since he recognizes the obligation, his manner of fulfilling it becomes, of course, a legitimate subject of criticism. This being so, the inadequacy of his method of treatment can hardly be emphasized too strongly. An audience collected for the purpose of seeing "Hamlet," who, on the rising of the curtain, should be calmly informed by the manager that, owing to their presumed familiarity with the leading character, it would be omitted in order to secure prominence for the minor and less familiar rôles, would hardly have better reason to complain than would the reader of a history of the age of Anne, who, on coming to the chapter on Intellectual Progress," should find Pope, Addison, Steele, Swift, Defoe, and Arbuthnot, calmly confided to the rela

[ocr errors]

tions he may already have established with them. The parallel, indeed, is closer than may at first sight appear; for, as to the play-goer the character of "Hamlet" is the main attraction of the play, so, to many students of the reign of Queen Anne, its literature is incomparably more interesting than any other feature of the time.

Less important than this, but still requiring notice at our hands, is the inexactness in the matter of dates. The mistakes here are so numerous that they can be explained more easily on the supposition of carelessness than of lack of knowledge; but this can not apply to such a slip as calling Madame de Maintenon a "concubine" of Louis XIV. Somehow, the adroit and wily Widow Scarron takes a feebler hold upon our sympathies than do the frail sisters who really deserved the epithet; but few facts relating to the private life of the Grand Monarch are now better established than that Madame de Maintenon was his honestly-married wife, and no serious historian should permit himself either to remain ignorant of this or to ignore it.

When engaged in fault-finding, it is incumbent upon the critic to state his reasons and marshal his evidence; but, in the pleasanter task of according praise, it is permitted to him to be brief: so we may say in a concluding paragraph that, in spite of the grave defects which we have pointed out, Dr. Burton's history is not without interest for the reader and value for the student. The preference of the author for what is curious and obscure has enabled him to bring to light many facts and suggestive details that had been overlooked or rejected by previous workers in this field; and, however arid the text may be at times, the notes, in which many of these details are embodied, are nearly always entertaining. Moreover, it can not be denied that Dr. Burton has really contributed something to the understanding of the characters of Queen Anne, of Marlborough, and of the mighty Duchess, Sarah. During the period covered by this history, Marlborough was enacting the most brilliant scenes of his long and checkered career; and, in the splendid figure of the conquering general and all-powerful diplomatist, one hardly recognizes the treacherous hypocrite of Macaulay's earlier narrative. The general effect of Dr. Burton's work is to make us think more favorably than heretofore of all those who were conspicuous upon the great stage of politics and war; and it seems strange that, with his amiable disposition to take a lenient view of most faults and frailties, he should deal so harshly with Swift, the self-torturing cynic whose sufferings so far outweighed his mistakes of judgment and infirmities of temper.

To many readers, perhaps, in first taking up the new volume of the "International Scientific Series," it will seem surprising that a scientist so eminent as Professor Huxley should devote an entire book to a creature so common, and so low in the scale of life, as the crayfish; but such readers will speedily discover that not only is the volume "An Introduction to the Study of Zoology," as the author says, but that it will serve for the general reader as a most

admirable and instructive outline of the whole of biological science.* "Whoever," says Professor Huxley, "will follow its pages, crayfish in hand, and will try to verify for himself the statements which it contains, will find himself brought face to face with all the great zoological questions which excite so lively an interest at the present day; he will understand the method by which alone we can hope to attain satisfactory answers of these questions; and, finally, he will appreciate the justice of Diderot's remark, 'Il faut être profond dans l'art ou dans la science pour en bien posséder les éléments.'" Of course, within the dimensions of such a treatise, many of the larger problems can be only touched upon, and the way to approach them pointed out; but a right beginning is of the utmost importance in such matters, and Professor Huxley not only puts the student in complete possession of "the elements," but shows him how "the careful study of one of the commonest and most insignificant of animals leads us, step by step, from every-day knowledge to the widest generalizations of . . . biological science in general."

The method of exposition followed by Professor Huxley in the present case is the same as that adopted with such happy results in his previous work on "Physiography": beginning with the simple and particular he proceeds to the more complex and general-dealing first with the most commonplace facts of observation, then with the special law which governs the facts, then with the wider facts from which the special law was deduced, ascending gradually to those heights whence the fixed boundaries of human knowledge are clearly visible. In the opening chapter, the reader is confronted with what is called the common knowledge of the crayfishthat knowledge which is acquired by ordinary observers who may happen to see them in the streams which they frequent; and this leads up to "that accurate, but necessarily incomplete and unmethodized knowledge, which is understood by natural history." In the two following chapters the physiology of the crayfish is discussed under two general heads: I. "The Mechanism by which the Parts of the Living Engine are supplied with the Materials necessary for their Maintenance and Growth"; 2. "The Mechanism by which the Living Organism adjusts itself to Surrounding Conditions and reproduces Itself." The fourth chapter treats of "The Morphology of the Common Crayfish: the Structure and the Development of the Individual"; and the fifth of the "Comparative Morphology of the Crayfish : the Structure and Development of the Crayfish compared with those of other Living Beings." Then comes, in the sixth chapter, a discussion of the geographical distribution of the crayfish, followed by a summary of what is known and may legitimately be conjectured concerning the etiology (or origin) of the crayfishes. A few notes at the end treat of

*The Crayfish. An Introduction to the Study of Zoology. By T. H. Huxley, F. R. S. With Eighty-two Illustrations. Vol. xxviii. International Scientific Series. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 12mo, pp. 371.

certain important points of detail that are only re-
ferred to in the text; and under the head of "Bibli-
ography" are given "some references to the litera-
ture of the subject which may be useful to those
who wish to follow it out more fully."

This description or summary will convey a toler-
ably definite idea, perhaps, of the scope and general
contents of the work; and a few passages which we
may be able to detach from the close-knit exposition
will serve to indicate its special features of interest.
We mean, of course, those features which are spe-
cial to this particular book, and not due simply to
the author's lucid and luminous style. Everything
that Professor Huxley writes has the charm of for-
cible argument and an incomparable clearness and
vigor of expression; but the present work is illu-
minated more often than common with those quick
flashes of sly and caustic humor that are characteris-
tic of him-as where he says: "Crayfishes, in fact,
are guilty of cannibalism in its worst form; ...
and, not content with mutilating and killing their
spouses, after the fashion of animals of higher moral
pretensions, they descend to the lowest depths of
utilitarian turpitude, and finish by eating them."

Perhaps as useful to the beginner in science as any other passage in the book is that in which Professor Huxley explains the reason and use of that technical nomenclature which is so difficult to master, and which, to many, seems so superfluous:

Many people imagine that scientific terminology is a needless burden imposed upon the novice, and ask us why we can not be content with plain English. In reply, I would suggest to such an objector to open a conversation about his business with a carpenter, or an engineer, or, still better, with a sailor, and try how far plain English will go. The interview will not have lasted long before he will find himself lost in a maze of unintelligible technicalities. Every calling has its technical terminology; and every artisan uses terms of art, which sound like gibberish to those who know nothing of art, but are exceedingly convenient to those who practice it. In fact, self; and, as the use of language is to convey our conevery art is full of conceptions which are special to itceptions to one another, language must supply signs for those conceptions. There are two ways of doing this: either existing signs may be combined in loose and cumbrous periphrases; or new signs, having a well-understood and definite signification, may be invented. The practice of sensible people shows the advantage of the latter course; and here, as elsewhere, science has simply followed and improved upon common sense.

Moreover, while English, French, German, and Italian artisans are under no particular necessity to discuss the processes and results of their business with one another, science is cosmopolitan, and the difficulties of the study of zoology would be prodigiously increased, if zoologists of different nationalities used different technical terms for the same thing. They need a universal language; and it has been found convenient that the language shall be Latin in form, and Latin or Greek in origin. What in English is Crayfish, is Ecrevisse in French; Flusskrebs in German; Cammaro or Gambaro in Italian; but the zoologist of each nationality knows that, in the scientific works of all the rest, he shall find what he wants to read under the head of Astacus fluviatilis.

1

476

APPLETONS' JOURNAL.

But, granting the expediency of a technical name for the crayfish, why should that name be double? The reply is still, practical convenience. If there are ten children of one family, we do not call them all Smith, because such a procedure would not help us to distinguish one from the other; nor do we call them simply John, James, Peter, William, and so on, for that would not help us to identify them as one family. So we give them all two names, one indicating their close relation, and the other their separate individuality-as John Smith, James Smith, Peter Smith, William Smith, etc. The same thing is done in zoology; only, in accordance with the genius of the Latin language, we put the Christian name, so to speak, after the surname.

In the same line and equally useful is the explanation given in a later chapter of the proper meaning of those much-debated and seldom-understood terms, "species," "genus," and "family." After an extremely minute description of the common English crayfish, the author says:

The importance of this long enumeration of minute details will appear by and by. It is simply a statement of the more obvious external characters in which all the English crayfishes which have come under my notice agree. No one of these individual crayfishes was exactly like the other; and, to give an account of any single crayfish as it existed in nature, its special peculiarities must be added to the list of characters given above; which, considered with the facts of structure discussed

in previous chapters, constitutes a definition, or diagnosis, of the Englisn kind, or species, of crayfish. It follows that the species, regarded as the sum of the morphological characters in question and nothing else, does not exist in nature; but that it is an abstraction, obtained by separating the structural characters in which the actual existences-the individual crayfishes-agree from those in which they differ, and neglecting the latter. A diagram, embodying the totality of the structural characters thus determined by observation to be common to all our crayfishes, might be constructed; and it would be a picture of nothing which ever existed in nature; though it would serve as a very complete plan of the structure of all the crayfishes which are to be found in this country. The morphological definition of a species is, in fact, nothing but a description of the plan of structure which characterizes all the individuals of that species.

This is followed by a description of the Californian and other species of crayfish, in so far as they differ from the English species; and then comes the following passage:

All the individual crayfish referred to thus far have been sorted out, first into the groups termed species; and then these species have been further sorted into two divisions, termed genera. Each genus is an abstraction, formed by summing up the common characters of the species which it includes, just as each species is an abstraction, composed of the common characters of the individuals which belong to it; and the one has no more existence in nature than the other. The definition of the genus is simply a statement of the plan of structure which is common to all the species included under that genus; just as the definition of the species is a statement of the common plan of structure which runs throughout the individuals which compose the species.

crayfishes which are found in the fresh waters of the southern hemisphere, and which differ from the English crayfish still more widely than do the American kinds; and then adds :

The southern crayfishes, like those of the northern hemisphere, are divisible into many species; and these species are susceptible of being grouped into six genera ... on the same principle as that which has led to the grouping of the northern forms into two genera. But

the same convenience which has led to the association of groups of similar species into genera has given rise to the combination of allied genera into higher groups, which are termed families. It is obvious that the definition of a family, as a statement of the characters in which a certain number of genera agree, is another morphological abstraction, which stands in the same relation to generic as generic do to specific abstractions. Moreover, the definition of the family is a statement of the plan of all the genera comprised in that family.

It will be seen by the attentive reader that this involves much more than a mere definition of certain scientific terms. If accepted as correct, it really settles one of the crucial questions at issue between the advocates of evolution and the upholders of the doctrine of special creations. And it may be added that, at many points, the book trenches upon this debatable land of science, some of whose problems are encountered at almost every stage in the study of zoology. Any close examination of the comparative anatomy of the crayfish reveals the fact that one "plan of organization" is common to a multitude of animals of extremely diverse outward forms and habits. Remarking upon this, Professor Huxley says:

Nothing would be easier, were the occasion fitting, than to extend this method of comparison to the whole of the several thousand species of crab-like, crayfish-like, or prawn-like animals, which, from the fact that they all have their eyes set upon movable stalks, are termed the Podophthalmia, or stalk-eyed Crustacea; and by arguments of similar force to prove that they are all modifications of the same common plan. Not only so, but the sand-hoppers of the seashore, the wood-lice of the land, and the water-fleas or the monoculi of the ponds, nay, even such remote forms as the barnacles which adhere to floating wood, and the acorn-shells which crowd every inch of rock on many of our coasts, reveal the same fundamental organization. Further than this, the spiders and the scorpions, the millipeds and the centipeds, and the multitudinous legions of the insect world, show us, amid infinite diversity of detail, nothing which is new in principle to any one who has mastered the morphology of the crayfish. Given a body divided into somites, each with a pair of appendages; and given the power to modify those somites and their appendages in strict accordance with the principles by which the common plan of the Podophthalmia is modified in the actually existing members of the order; and the whole of the Arthropoda, which probably make up two thirds of the animal world, might readily be educed from one primitive form.

Nor does the apparent unity of animated nature cease when the entire animal kingdom has been included:

The most cursory examination of any of the higher

made up of various kinds of tissues, such as pith, woody fiber, spiral vessels, ducts, and so on. But even the most modified forms of vegetable tissue depart so little from the type of the simple cell [which Professor Huxley elsewhere defines as a particle of simple living matter, or

protoplasm, in the midst of which is a rounded body

termed a nucleus], that the reduction of them all to a common type is suggested still more strongly than in the case of the animal fabric. And thus the nucleated cell appears to be the morphological unit of the plant no less than of the animal. Moreover, recent inquiry has shown that, in the course of the multiplication of vegetable cells by division, the nuclear spindles may appear and run through all their remarkable changes by stages precisely

similar to those which occur in animals.

The question of the universal presence of nuclei in cells may be left open in the case of plants, as in that of animals; but, speaking generally, it may justly be affirmed that the nucleated cell is the morphological foundation of both divisions of the living world; and the great generalization of Schleiden and Schwann, that there is a fundamental agreement in structure and development between plants and animals, has, in substance, been merely confirmed and illustrated by the labors of the half century which has elapsed since its promulgation.

We have exhausted our space without finding room for all (or even nearly all) of the striking passages which we had marked; but those we have quoted will suffice to show how important, and how varied in interest, are the subjects which the book discusses. It only remains to add that the volume is copiously and admirably illustrated-quite a number of the eighty-two engravings being, as Professor Huxley says in his preface, "excellent specimens of the xylographic art."

It is not only in the incisiveness and subtilty of his criticism that Mr. Henry James, Jr., shows the effects of his French studies and Parisian experiences. These effects are hardly more traceable in his essays on the French poets and novelists than in his more distinctly creative and original work, and it must be admitted that they are more conspicuous than ever in his latest, and in some respects best, novel, “Confidence."* We are not going to impair the reader's enjoyment of this piquant and graceful story by revealing its plot or dénouement; but we

view of the possible relations between men and wo-
men- to enable Mr. James to write the closing
chapters of his story with such serene unconscious-
ness of there being anything unusual or unnatural
about them.
the situation is scarcely complicated enough to pique
To the experienced Parisian, perhaps,
the attention; but, to the unsophisticated and some-
what prudish Saxon imagination there is something
repellent and distasteful in the attitude of the sev-
eral parties toward one another just before the event
which makes every one happy ever after.

Another comment which "Confidence" seems to

suggest is, that Mr. James is losing his hold more and more upon the solid realities and permanent interests of life. "Roderick Hudson" presented a group of clearly defined and perfectly intelligible characters in a situation which, if unusual, was at least easily conceived and ardently sympathized with. In "The American," the characters deviated more widely from the ordinary types, and the situation was almost grotesquely artificial; while in "The Europeans" the incongruousness and lack of adjustment between the leading characters and their surroundings constituted the main interest of the story. In "Confidence" the characters are intelligible enough and inspire a sympathetic interest; but they are curiously disconnected from all those incidents, attachments, and surroundings which serve to give background and reality to a character. They seem to be moving in a sort of vacuum; and no opportunity is afforded for that association of ideas, so to call it, by which we identify and localize a person, whether in real life or in fiction.

The truth is, that Mr. James has confined himself of late to the study and portraiture of dilettanti lives of dilettanti. To such, of course, it is not leading more or less consciously the vacant, detached given to scale the heights or to penetrate the depths of life, or even to march sanely along those broad levels which are interesting because of the countless numbers of human creatures who must tread them. For this reason, the artist who deals with them must avoid all definite and pronounced colors, all contrasts of light and shade, all depth of tone or energy of expression. And this is the reason why Mr. James's love-and he is always dealing more or less directly with love and love-making — is a pallid, bloodless, conversational sort of an emotion, which never really agitates or dominates the man or woman into whose consciousness it is supposed to insinuate itself. No doubt much refinement of art may be displayed in portraying such persons and their milieu; but, after a prolonged diet of them, one feels as if he would gladly exchange them all for one single broadly human Jeems Yellowplush or Matilda Ann. In thinking of this, a passage from one of Charles Dickens's recently published "Letters" rises unbidits brevity," he says, "and the world and its variden in the memory: "The more we see of life and eties, the more we know that no exercise of our abilities in any art, but the addressing of it to the * Confidence. A Novel. By Henry James, Jr. Bos- great ocean of humanity in which we are drops, and ton: Houghton, Osgood & Co. 12mo, pp. 347. not to by-ponds (very stagnant) here and there, ever

shall make no unfair disclosures if we say that the situation at the close is decidedly "French" in character and manner. There is nothing specifically objectionable about it, certainly nothing "immoral," as the phrase goes; yet the unassisted Teutonic imagination would hardly have conceived quite such a complication or exactly such a method of disentanglement. It is said that in the most elevated stratum of French society, a certain surprise, not unmingled with amusement, is felt at finding that a man is in love with his own wife instead of with somebody else's. This sentiment by no means finds expression in "Confidence"; and yet it required a certain easy fumiliarity with this sentiment with the French

« 이전계속 »