« السابقةمتابعة »
Two NOTABLE BOOKS ON ETHICS. *
“ The Old Testament marks the period of its imperfect,
yet real and growing, vitality and power. The morality There have recently appeared in the depart of the Old Testament was incomplete, in many respects ment of ethics two works of marked ability, defective, and neither in its outward sanctions nor its namely, Dr. Newman Smyth's “ Christian Eth
inward motives a final morality for man; yet it was
real morality, striving towards better things, growing ics ” and Professor Borden P. Bowne's “ The
from a genuine ethical root into the light and fruitfulPrinciples of Ethics.” With little similarity ness of the coming season of divine grace." (P. 60.) in the method of treatment, they are not unlike, It does not detract, therefore, from the proper aueither in general plan or in the primary prin
thority of the New Testament as the immediate reflec
thority of the New Testament as the ciples which underlie them. Though the title
tion and especially prepared and attested witness to
Christ, when we discern in it, as we have already disof the first work, “ Christian Ethics,” might
covered in the Old Testament, signs of a growth in lead to an expectation of a treatment parrower knowledge of Christ, and a progressive Christianization than the full field which belongs to Ethics, and one limited by a single phase of faith, 1 “ These sacred writings, it is evident from what has there is little in the book open to this criticism.
just been said, are to be taken as a whole and in the
moral and spiritual teaching which issues finally from The principles discussed are termed Christian
them, in order that they may constitute a normative auEthics rather as assuming their fullest form ; | thority of faith and practice.” (P. 63.) and touching their highest point, in Chris “Whatever special or unique authority Scripture may tian life, than as in any way opposed to any
have, it cannot have it apart from the Church to which other species of ethical truth. The temper of
the Holy Ghost has been given. ... We reject, there
fore, as one-sided and perilous alike to faith in the Scripthe author is at once spiritual and liberal,
tures and to the Christian law of conduct, any view of earnest and comprehensive. The work is in inspiration which either puts the Bible in absolute suno way narrow or dogmatic. With a little premacy above conscience, or, on the other hand, subshifting of phraseology, it would have the ap
ordinates entirely the Scriptures to the Christian con
sciousness of men." (P. 72.) pearance of being a large rendering of our uni
“ The Scripture is law to the Christian consciousness, versal experience. The energy of hope and
-- to it, not independently of it. The Christian condepth of conviction are such as to make the sciousness,- all the knowledge and experienee, that is, presentation stimulating and instructive to al. | which Christianity has gained of its Christ,-- becomes most all readers. The work is full and com
also in its turn law to the Scriptures; -- law of their in
terpretation, of their criticism, of their verification, of the plete, covering well both the theoretical and
selection and completion of their canon." (P. 73.) practical sides of the subject. The author accepts freely both of the two
These are most pregnant assertions. Nor elements, so essential in conduct, the interior
is it easy to see how they can be set aside. power which discerns and enjoins excellence,
The divine revelation and those who receive it and the exterior discipline by which alone this
are in active interplay. They are mutually power is unfolded and directed.
causes and effects. We cannot give an abso“The natural history of conscience has been itself
lute external authority to the Scriptures aside determined by conscience.” (P. 34.)
from this unfolding process without profoundly “ Life, so far as we have any positive science of it,
mistaking their office and restraining their always presupposes life." (P. 35.)
force. This is the leading idea of the book, « Psychologically it is not true that all objects of de and a most significant one. sire are pleasures, that pleasure is the only thing de
“History in its profoundest significance is a moral sired or chosen. For an object or end of activity may
and spiritual movement towards the ideal or the highbe itself desired, and the pleasure accompanying the
est good.” (P. 144.) choice may be a sign or justification of the choice of it as reasonable, but not necessarily the object of the choice,
“In the Christian moral motive power we discover,
therefore, as its deepest and exhaustless source of power, -- the thing immediately desired and willed.” (P. 36.)
the working of the spirit of Christ. This is not a miThe force of Christian faith in the ethical raculous grace, instantaneously changing sinful characlife of the race is identified with the slow his ter into all perfection. It is a spiritual Power which torical development of spiritual truth, itself the
works according to moral laws, and through the natural
processes of human life. It is the personal influence of leading phase in the unfolding of human his
the holy spirit with the spirit of man. It is a divine tory and the divine mind. What evolution co-working with the human according to the nature of is to the natural sciences that is the historic man and the love of God in Christ. It is like the energy growth of truth in Christian belief.
of the sunshine in the fruit; it is the life of the vine
in the branches." (P. 492.) * CHRISTIAN Ethics. By Newman Smyth. New York:
We wish to pass but one very secondary critCharles Scribner's Sons. THE PRINCIPLES OF ETHICS. By Borden P. Bowne.
icism on the book. A writer, by virtue of his New York: Harper & Brothers.
| very vigor, is sometimes obscure. Almost any
words serve with him to carry forward the / tations of a law imminent in the whole development." teeming thought as swollen waters float stones.
“ The ideal does not admit of exhaustive definition; The constant use by Dr. Smyth of the word
and it exists in any given circumstances chiefly in a per“consciousness” for almost any degree or form
ception of the direction in which human worth and digof conviction, seems to us an example in point. nity lie. Hence its actual contents vary with mental and 6. The Christian consciousness of life," " the moral development, but the sense of direction is fairly Christian consciousness of man,” “ the moral
constant." (P. 117.) consciousness of our age,” 6 the ethical re- | The manner in which intuitive and empirical ligious consciousness," “ the results of anal morals are united is indicated in the following ysis of man's moral consciousness,”— these are
passage: the phrases we meet with constantly. Nothing,
“Schleiermacher has shown that there are three on the one hand, can be a more vague, vari
leading moral ideas, the good, duty, and virtue. Each
of these is essential in a system which is to express the able, undefined quantity than the Christian
complete moral consciousness of the race. Where there consciousness of life. It must stand for all is no good to be reached by action, there can be no rasubtle, evanescent ideals floating through a tional duty, and with the notion of duty vanishes also thousand minds gathered up in a coherent ex
that of virtue. Again, where there is no sense of duty,
but only a calculation of consequences, we have merely pression. But we need, supremely need, and
a system of prudence. This may be good enough in must have, this word “consciousness” to ex
its way, but it lacks moral quality. Such conduct may press each man's knowledge of his own mental be natural and allowable, but it is not regarded as virstates, or the sum of these mental states. The
tuous. For in such conduct we miss all reference to the author so uses it in the phrase, “the results of
moral agent. It is a matter of wit and shrewdness only,
and is not a manifestation of virtuous character.” (P.20.) analysis of man's moral consciousness.” It seems to be a very vicious habit to allow the
The pleasures of life, very various, and recword “consciousness” to range over the entire
ognized more or less distinctly in their variable field of personal and social experiences even in
value, constitute the only field in which moral their most indeterminate forms. We often
quality could be devoloped ; but their moral, raneed to make a very precise appeal to con
tional rule is not, therefore, identical with these sciousness, and we should restrain the mean
enjoyments or subject to them. Out of this ing of the word that the appeal may be intel
material it constructs an ideal excellence, more, ligible.
far more, than the simple sum of its parts. The second work, by Professor Bowne, does
The ideal good is conscious life in the full developnot contain as full a discussion as the volume
ment of all its normal possibilities; and the actual good
is greater or less as this ideal is more or less approxiby Dr. Smyth, but it covers in about the same
mated.” (P. 69.) proportion theoretical and practical morals. “We must now inquire into the form and contents of Both works attach something like their true this inner law. This may be called subjective ethics, importance to existing social problems. Pro
as being the law founded, not in a consideration of obfessor Bowne expresses his purpose very con
jective consequences, but in the nature and insight of
the moral subject himself, or as being the law which the cisely in the preface:
moral subject imposes upon himself.” (P. 98.) “ Apart from this critical discussion, the work has two leading thoughts. One is the necessity of uniting the
The relation of ethics and religion is this: intuitive and the experience school of ethics in order to “Our moral nature has not been transformed, but the reach any working system. The other is that the aim of conditions of its best unfolding have been furnished. It conduct is not abstract virtue, but fulness and richness of is the same life but very different. The relations and life.” (P. iv.)
meanings of things have changed. Rights grow more With him, as with Dr. Smyth, the mind's
sacred; duties enlarge, and the sense of obligation deepideal, its inner growing grasp of the nature
ens.” (P. 202.) and glory of life, is the supreme thing. There
These passages sufficiently indicate the trend is no more significant assertion in this field
of the work. The discussion is penetrative than that of the present and eternal inappli
and quickening throughout, making the pecability of dogmatism — exact and final state
rusal of the book worth while, I was about to ment, — to it, whether it be religious or scien
say, even though the theme is so familiar ; tific dogmatism.
perhaps it would be better to say, because a Professor Bowne justly lays great emphasis
theme so familiar has new light shot into it. on the continuous unfolding of moral truth.
Professor Bowne has a very vigorous and an
alytical mind. He takes to philosophy as a “ The actual order of graded development in the mental life cannot be understood as a modification of duck to water. he is occasionally open to the its earliest phases, but only as the successive manifes- | criticism that, with his ready strokes, he gives
deeper wounds than there is any occasion for. Empiricism, for example, as a philosophy seems puerile to him, and he thrusts it aside with a very imperative blow. Yet he, and we all, owe very much to empiricism. In the final product of thought, empiricism will furnish at least one-half. The careless sweep of his blade is indicated in the following extract:
“This is notably the case with the ecclesiastical conscience, which has varied all the way from the puerile to the diabolical." (P. 99.)
RECENT ENGLISH AND CANADIAN
FICTION.* A novel that bears the name of the author of "A Village Tragedy” is sure of respectful attention, and it is with pleasant anticipations that the reader will take up “Esther Vanhomrigh.” The anticipations will be more than fulfilled, for in this book Mrs. Woods has written one of the most remarkable historical novels of recent years. The story of Swift's relations with Stella and Vanessa does not offer the most promising of themes. In the biographies of the great satirist and in the histories of English literature it is not usually so presented as to bring out the human interest that it must have had. There is something enigmatic about it all, and the extraordinary style of those portions of Swift's writings that relate to it provides the subject with a thorn-set approach. It is the triumph of the present author to have completely humanized the story, yet without wholly divesting it of its characteristic garb, and without departing from the familiar historical facts. In her treatment of these facts we need only note the one point that she decides in favor of a secret marriage between Swift and Esther Johnson. The story is pathetic almost to tragedy in its dealings with Vanessa's illstarred passion for Swift, and an element of tragedy black and unrelieved is offered by the terror
* ESTHER VANHOMRIGH. By Margaret L. Woods. New York : Hovendon Co.
DOROTHY WALLIS. An Autobiography, with Introduction by Walter Besant. New York : Longmans, Green & Co.
The Ivory Gate. By Walter Besant. New York: Harper & Brothers.
HELEN TREVERYAN; or, The Ruling Race. By John Roy. New York : Macmillan & Co.
AUNT ANNE. By Mrs. W. K. Clifford. New York: Harper & Brothers.
Roland GRAEME, KNIGHT. By Agnes Maule Machar. New York : Fords, Howard & Hulbert.
BEGGARS ALL. By L. Dougall. New York : Longmans, Green & Co.
Vanitas. By Vernon Lee. New York : Lovell, Coryell & Co.
THE REPUTATION OF GEORGE Saxon, and Other Stories. By Morley Roberts. London : Cassell & Co.
ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES. By A. Conan Doyle. New York : Harper & Brothers.
of madness during these years already impending over the strongest intellect of his age and country. The delineation of Swift's character is accomplished with unfailing sympathy and insight; it is one of the strongest pieces of portraiture with which we are acquainted. We should add a word of praise for the masterly way in which another famous personage — Lord Peterborough -- is made to live in these pages. For its descriptive passages the work is also remarkable ; made so by their taste, their restraint, and their imaginative vision. The book is one to be carefully read, for it has many kinds of excellence, and they do not all appear upon the surface.
Mr. Walter Besant's story of “ Dorothy Wallis” pretends to be an autobiography; but the fiction is transparent. It is told in the first person, to be sure, but has no other disguise. The heroine is thrown upon the world by the villainy of an uncle who has made away with her fortune. This uncle is a study in himself, but the excessive sanctimoniousness with which he is invested produces a sort of low comedy effect, being sadly overdone. As for Dorothy, she determines to go upon the stage, and the book describes her experiences in seeking employment. These are not sensational or melodramatic, as might be expected, but sordid and repulsive, carefully enough studied, but disagreeable to read about. Of the “masher” she has little experience; of the manager, brutal and scheming, she has much. Yet the picture of these lower strata of stagedom is not false in color; the author has evidently sought to depict them exactly as they are, in all their pettiness of detail, and with the occasional bright spots by which they are now and then relieved. The book is far more of a document than a story. As the latter, its interest is exiguous; as the former, it is a minute study of a phase of London social life. Not even so easy a concession to the wishes of the reader is made as that of representing the heroine as successful in the end ; she wins little applause and no fame, but merely succeeds in obtaining a footing, and in earning the slenderest sort of a living. There is in the background, indeed, a mysterious person called Alec, whom we suppose will provide for her eventually, but whom we cannot forgive for permitting her to lead for so long a life of so great privation and suffering.
When the psychologists, a few years ago, began to hint at the possibility of a double or even a multiple personality lurking within exceptional individuals, they started a theme of which the novelists were not slow in taking possession, just as they have taken possession, with sad enough results, of the allied theme of hypnotism. Mr. Julian Hawthorne was one of the pioneers in this field, and his “ Archibald Malmaison ” the product of his labors. This story was chiefly valuable as an illustration of what a little learning, tempered with a great deal of ill-regulated imagination, could accomplish. Then Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson," seizing upon the psy
chological possibilities of the subject, produced his duct of her life, and whose vagaries suggest a mind uncanny story of Jekyll and Hyde. Now comes Mr. that has nearly, if not quite, lost the balance it may Walter Besant with “ The Ivory Gate," an essay in once have had. Her infatuation for, and marriage the same direction, and, it is needless to say, with to, the young adventurer who seeks her hand on a out any grasp of the psychological problem in- count of the fortune that he thinks goes with it, is volved. But if he has not analysis, he has plenti. simply preposterous, and spoils the story as a whole, ful invention, and his aptly-named story is abund- although the humors of its minor episodes may still antly entertaining. It tells us of a Mr. Edward prove a source of enjoyment. Mrs. Clifford's touch Dering, a cold-blooded and unimaginative lawyer, is growing lighter of late, and the narrative shows who in his other self appears as Mr. Edmund Gray, an increase of flexibility over her earlier work. a socialist of the most fantastic type. The author's Miss Agnes Maule Machar is a young Canadian sympathies are evidently with Gray, and the latter's writer who has done some good work in presenting socialistic sermons, which are not spared us, are certain picturesque incidents in the history of the written con amore, if not exactly with judgment. Dominion in romantic form. This field she seeins Almost does he persuade us, so eloquent is the plea, to share, at present, with Mrs. Catherwood, and has and so engaging the personality. Mr. Besant leaves cultivated it in a similar way. - Roland Graeme, us very much in doubt as to what becomes of his Knight" is, we believe her first novel, and is a work hero when the fact of his dual existence becomes of distinct promise, although too obtrusively didacknown to him. Logically, he would have to be put tic to take rank as a work of art. The scene is under restraint as one insane, but the writer has a laid in a large American manufacturing town, and tender feeling for his own creation, and leaves the the hero is a knight of the very modern sort selfoutcome to conjecture.
styled Knights of Labor. The story is really a soThere is a suggestion of conscious pride in the cialistic tract with but slight disguise. It is written sub-title of Mr. Roy's novel, of pride at thought of in a spirit of philanthrophy so ardent that it cannot the valorous deeds and imperial sway of English- fail to enlist sympathy, but there is only too much men. The suggestion is borne out by such a passage evidence that the author's heart has taken hopeless as the following, one of several that occur in the precedence of her head. The intellect must covolume : "Was there ever any finer fighting since the operate with the emotions in planning any possible world began than the fighting in the American war? solution of the social problem, and Miss Machar ... It warms my heart to read of them all, with has entirely failed to realize the scientific aspect of their English names, and English speech, and English the relations with which her story deals. But there ways, and dogged English pluck; and I feel as are some admirable studies of character in her book : proud of the Stars and Stripes as I do of the l'nion that of the hero, first of all, and that of the clergy. Jack. I look forward to the time when all the man whose solution of all social questions begins and empty places of the earth will be filled with En- ends in rhetoric. Such books as this are helpful, glishmen, banded together for good against the although they miss attainment of their parpose world." Mr. Roy's story is Anglo-Indian in scene, through lack of restraint. and makes use of the Afghan war of 1879, among Miss Dougall's - Beggars All" is a better book other historical episodes. Yet in spite of this set than any account of its plot would indicate. A ting, it is essentially a domestic narrative, and its young woman, the romance of whose life results from interest centres about the sufferings of an English her answer to a matrimonial advertisement, hardly girl, successively bereft of father, husband, child, seems to be the sort of heroine likely to prove en. and friend. Its Indian chapters are written with gaging, nor does a professional burglar, however intimate knowledge, and its English chapters with ingenious his methods, seem to be the most attracttender feeling. The hero is a manly young fellow, ive sort of hero; yet these are the elements of Miss whose tragic end makes one forget the slight weak. Dougall's story, and of them she has mule a tale of ness that marks his character. The story is told serious human interest. Her success results from in a straightforward way, and when a new figure a delicacy of touch that means delicacy of feeling, appears in its pages, we are given his previous his and that carries her safely over many dangerous tory, and so feel acquainted with him from the places. Her narrative often verges upon absurdity. start. The writer puts a good deal of slang into but never quite crosses the boundars. his conversation, and describes a game of cricket in Miss Paget's delicate and suggestive writing is the peculiar jargon of that cult. The book is woe familiar to those who follow the course of modern fully padded, even to the extent of occasional foot. esthetic criticism, and her essays in fiction hase notes, probably to meet the Proerustean require been only less successful than her studies in art and ments of the three-solume form of English publica literature. We may, theil, take up the volume of tion, but readers of such novels know instinctively short stories to whish the name of * Vanitas" has where to skip, and no great harm is done
bern given, with considerabile confidence in an en What interest in prospeved by the + Aunt Anne" jovable hour. The conndence is certainly not to of Mr. W. K. Clifford centres in the title-figure of traved, for these three polite storica "are produce the novel Aunt Anne is an old lady of amabletions of a high degree of timish; they not only ett character, who in hopelessly unpractical in the con- tertain for the moment, but abundantly give to reflect " in the retrospect. That they are serious of them unfamiliar to us in the career of this in purpose is clearly enough foreshadowed in the acute tracer of criminals and disentangler of intrigraceful dedication to a friend, to whom the author cate complications. Some of them we have already gives this explanation :
seen in the magazines, but most appear to be new. - For round these sketches of frivolous women there " A Scandal in Bohemia" tells how Sherlock have gathered some of the least frivolous thoughts, Holmes was for once outwitted, and, to make the matheaven knows, that have ever come into my head; or ter still more humiliating, by a woman. "The Five rather such thoughts have condensed and taken body Orange Pips" is a thrilling story of the Ku Klux in these stories. Indeed, how can one look from out. Klan. "The Red-Headed League" is a striking side on the great waste of precious things, delicate din
illustration of the author's originality. Although eernment, quick feeling, and sometimes stoical fortitude, involved in frivolous life, without a sense of sad
there is a certain monotony in the mechanism of ness and indignation ?"
these tales, there is none in their succession of inci
dent, which is simply bewildering in its variety. One must not think from this that the writer has
Dr. Doyle has signed work of far greater permamade her moral too obvious; it is, indeed, to be
nent value than any to be found in this volume, but read in her pages, but only through the medium of
he is responsible for nothing more absorbing of the a carefully refined art. The art is much like that
immediate interest. of Mr. Henry James, to whom the author has in
WILLIAM MORTON PAYNE. curred an obvious debt in both style and manner; and no one would accuse Mr. James of pointing a moral too sharply. – A Worldly Woman" seems the best of the three stories, as it is the most
BRIEFS ON NEW BOOKS. pathetic. Its moral, as Miss Paget tells us beforehand, is that frivolous living means not merely
WHEN Wordsworth issued the ser waste, but in many cases martyrdom."
ond edition of the Lyrical Ballads" * The Reputation of George Saxon” was of the en Puelig
(1800) it was prefaced by a prose literary sort, and was obtained (Mr. Saxon being a essay in which he described the principles that had gentleman of fortune) by purchasing the manu- governed his choice of subjects and his mode of scripts of struggling and needy authors, and pub- treatment. He declared that he had taken as lishing them over his own name. This ingenious much pains to avoid what was known as poetic dicdevice worked well for a time, but George's appe. tion as others had taken to produce it. Moreover, tite grew with what it fed on, and he attempted to he asserted as a general principle that there neither be too versatile. Poems and novels were followed is nor can be any essential difference between the by works of history and philosophy in bewildering language of prose and metrical composition ; that succession ; but their putative author soon discor- the true language of poetry is, as far as possible, a ered that he must live up to the reputation thus selection of the language really spoken by men: easily acquired, and that was no simple matter. that if metre be superadded thereto, a dissimilitude His efforts to eram that he might shine in the intel between poetry and prose will be produced altolectual circles that he frequented led to insanity and gether sufficient for the gratincation of a rational suicide, which is a sufficiently impressive moral. mind. This manifesto, which has been called *as This story is one of half-a-score published by Mr. famous in its way as the Declaration of IndepenMorley Roberts in a recent volume. It is also the dence," furnished a text for Coleridge in his famous most ingenious and interesting. The others are Chapter XVII. of the - Biographia Literaria." In sketches of rather slender substance, and their it, Coleridge argued that the difference between themes are taken from all parts of the world. The poetry and prose is one of logie, and therefore far discussion of romantic themes in a dull and matter more essential in its nature than any merely acciof-fact way, but with considerable inventiveness, ap dental difference of form. From these two remarkpears to be the chief characteristic of this volume of able papers dates the whole of that still unsettled stories.
controversy respecting the relations of poetry and When Dr. Doyle published - The Sign of Four" prose. We have often wondered that two papers and – A Study in Scarlet," he projected a new fig- marking such a milestone in the history of poetical ure into literature. Since then he has told us, from criticism should never have been reproduced side time to time, of still other doings of his observant by side, and apart from their contexts, for the conand analytical hero, until the name of Sherlock venience of the student. t'ntil this is done, it is Holmes has come to stand for a distinct sort of lit- well that we now have at least the Wordsworth erary sensation. He is a subtler detective than Preface, together with his later ones prefixed to Gabriau ever imagined, he is omniscient upon all later editions of the Poems, collected in a volume of subjects that relate to his profession, and his creator Heath's - English ('lassics," and ably edited, with has provided him with experiences so varied that introduction and notes, by Professor A. J. George, we can only wonder at the fertility of invention dis- A.M. Taken together, they place in a striking played. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," light a side of the subject that had before been ignow published, deals with a dozen episodes -- most i nored; the contemptuous aversion which at first