Imatges de pÓgina
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but the higher knowledge to become universal there must surely soon be an end to most of the feuds and divisions that consume our lives. For not only should it be impossible to rational human beings, who have once arrived at a just appreciation of each others' merits, to continue to indulge in senseless hatred and ill-will, but the very cause and pretext of jealousy and strife must be altogether taken away from the hour in which we recognise the absolute worthlessness of those things for which men commonly contend, as well as the utter futility of every attempt to possess ourselves by force or fraud of any of those things which are worth having. There are alas ! too few among us who rate at their true value—as mere dross and tinsel—the goods this world can give, or who realise that the gifts of heaven, in whatever shape they be conferred, “beauty, wit, high birth, vigour of bone, desert in service, love, friendship, charity,' that these intangible and imperishable possessions are of their very nature indivisible and inalienable, and that the whole armaments of the mightiest empire could not avail to take them away from him who hath in order to bestow them on him who hath not. When that lesson is fully borne in upon

the souls of all, more will be done in the cause of peace and unity among men than has till now been effected by propaganda and debate.

Let us then welcome every new discovery or invention which tends to promote friendly intercourse between nations, by removing the barriers ignorance and prejudice have too often raised to keep them apart. We are not called upon to make any sacrifice of our patriotism, to be faithless to the old ideals and time-honoured traditions which are inseparably bound up with the fortunes of a race. It is rather in the strength of our attachment to these, in our devotion to every national symbol, that may be sought a guarantee of tolerance towards the different beliefs and widely differing opinions of men of another race. As we learn to know ourselves and others better, we shall each and all be more strongly impelled to the exercise of mutual forbearance, and should therefore labour with a common accord everywhere to dissipate the clouds of misunderstanding and mistrust. And there can be, I am convinced, no surer and simpler means of penetrating the soul of the nation with which we desire to establish cordial relations than to set to work to make ourselves thoroughly acquainted with the language which is the direct and unmodified expression of that nation's inmost thought. On the immense benefit to ourselves to be derived thereby we need not dwell. The study of other languages than our own has long been recognised as a wide and firm basis of liberal culture, the acquisition of each new tongue furnishing us with the key to a vast treasure house containing untold riches. ' As many languages as a man possesses,' said one of the wisest statesmen and ablest rulers in a great age, so many souls hath he!' And this dictum of the Emperor Charles the Fifth none of us, surely, will be inclined to dispute, although we may not so readily agree with his further fanciful elaboration of the theme. For proceeding to enumerate the special uses of the various tongues he himself possessed, beginning with the stately Latin as the fit language for prayer, and the soft melodious Italian for love, the polyglot monarch, while designating French as suitable for affairs of State and reserving Spanish for conversation with his friends, only mentions German, I am afraid, in which to speak to his servants, and English to his horses !

But I am wandering far from my subject, and feel how little I have dwelt on that part of it which is nearest my heart, on my wish, namely, to discover in our modern ways of life and thought the elements most capable of becoming useful factors in the cause of true civilisation. I have tried to point to the widespread study of language as one of these most potent agents. Sometimes I have wondered whether music might not effect still more by actually serving as a universal language, understood by all men alike, all over the world, and therefore bringing all things into harmony. But, strange to say, no music has yet been known to possess this character of universality. Whilst we should naturally expect to find that this inarticulate yet wondrously modulated form of speech, so apt to express every shade and inflexion of human emotion, would, from whatever region it came, at once awaken responsive echoes in the hearts of all listeners-it would rather seem as if in actual fact the national temperament everywhere were peculiarly refractory to every manifestation of the genius of another nation in this particular sphere of art. The influence of a great poet is never confined to the narrow limits of his own country : Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare belong to the whole world alike. The world's great painters, too, are common property ; no special training is required to render the works of a great master intelligible to the inhabitants of another country than that which gave him birth : Corot will be as readily understood as Turner by an Englishman of culture, and a Spaniard whose taste has been formed in the contemplation of Murillo and Velasquez will be equally capable of appreciating Michelangelo or Rembrandt. Not so is it with music; her language, for all it appears so clear and simple, is in reality differentiated to an extraordinary degree from zone to zone, from shore to shore, and time and effort are necessary to acclimatise any variety on another soil. It took long years even for the masterpieces of the great German composers to win true recognition from the highly cultivated, art-loving public of France, and, vice versa, it is only now that the excellent young school of modern French musicians is beginning to obtain a hearing in music-loving Germany. If by a single exception the works of Richard Wagner were speedily naturalised throughout Europe, I believe this to be due in the first place to the attractive character of his dramatic subjects, to the interest attaching to the old stories and legends woven by him into his music, rather

than to the influence of the musical setting itself. In the same manner the Scriptural subjects chosen by Handel were the primary cause of the swiftly achieved and abiding popularity he enjoyed in England, and some such reasons will, I think, always be discovered to have prevailed wherever national prejudice has apparently been quickly and easily overcome. On the other hand, the music of Eastern nations is to this day as incomprehensible and inharmonious to our ear as ours is doubtless unmelodious and discordant to them.

Music then will evidently never furnish the common ground on which the nations of the earth are to meet in amity. It may be perhaps that in course of time some higher and purer form of art may be evolved, free from all national peculiarities, which all nations may therefore with equal right claim for their own. A mere Utopian dream, some will say, but at this season of the year such dreams are not so easily disregarded. With the Christmas bells ringing their glad tidings in our ears, our thoughts naturally revert to the hope newly born into the world nineteen centuries ago in the humble stable at Bethlehem. There, in the mysterious silence of the glorious Eastern night, came the message of the Spirit to those whom the bonds of the flesh held fast. That promise, of freedom to the oppressed, of strength to the weak, of health to the sick, of rest to the weary, and of joy to all who mourn, symbolised in the Star that led the wanderers to the spot, has never since been extinguished in the hearts of men. Dimmed and darkened though it might be at times by error, by misery or crime, it has yet continued to shine on, now with a feebler, now with a brighter glow, throughout the ages, and the world on which that light has once dawned can never again be the same it was before. We must not then despair; however gloomy the near prospect seem, let us look out with confidence to the distant horizon for a sign of the realisation of our dearest hopes. It rests with ourselves, with each one of us, either to help to frustrate those hopes in our generation, or to work to bring about their fulfilment. Whatever be the measure of our success, if the ideas for which we combat seem to make but slow progress, we know that sooner or later the good cause must triumph, and all voices join in the angelic song, “ Peace upon Earth! Goodwill to men !'

CARMEN SYLVA (Queen of Roumania).

The Editor of THE NINETEENTH CENTURY cannot undertake

to return unaccepted MSS.

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far

Tariff reform is essentially a question which ought to be, and will be, decided by the wage-earning classes of the country. Any change in our fiscal arrangements of the nature contemplated will affect the capitalist and professional classes comparatively slightly, while it will influence the working classes, favourably or unfavourably, to a

greater degree. The margin above a bare subsistence is more generous among the former than among the latter. And, moreover, working people are, in their capacity of producers, more vitally interested than those in the economy of whose lives production does not play so important a part. That the question will be settled by wage-earners is certain because the electorate is so largely composed of that class. It is equally certain that our wage-earners will never be convinced of the wisdom or unwisdom of a reform of the tariff by masses of intricate statistics. It is proverbial that statistics may be made to prove anything. Preconceived opinions strongly entertained will, in spite of heroic efforts for impartiality, make themselves felt, with the result that figures which are intended to prove or disprove a case not unfrequently become manipulated in order to achieve the end which the compiler has in view. This weakness

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in methods of statistical proof has been amply illustrated during the course of the present fiscal controversy. Apparently unanswerable figures have been produced from time to time to prove the need for a change in our fiscal system ; and as surely as night follows day they have been capped by contradictory statistics ostensibly demonstrating the inviolate character of our present system. Sometimes careful examination has shown that the original tariff reform statement was open to suspicion, but more often that a sophistication of figures and facts has given to the ‘Free Trade' version the appearance of an effective rejoinder. Working people have neither the time, nor the inclination, nor perhaps the capacity to unravel all the intricacies of a highly controversial discussion, or to weigh and balance figures and statistics on which theories on the most shifting and inexact of all sciences-economics—are based. What every intelligent working man wants is to get an unencumbered view of the practical effect of so-called Free Trade upon his opportunities of employment and wage-earning power.

* Free Trade' speakers attach enormous importance to the Board of Trade returns of exports and imports. They are paraded month after month in order to convince the people of this country of their amazing prosperity. In the twelve months just ended our imports, in comparison with the preceding year, increased by 38,015,6761., our exports by 50,629,2581., and our re-exports by 6,869,661l. ; and over and over again it has been contended that these figures supply incontrovertible proof of our satisfactory progress as a manufacturing people. They stand, however, condemned, because they do not reveal the whole truth. These returns ignore the home trade. They give values only, and in default of fuller information they afford insufficient evidence of well-being. They do not give quantities, nor do they show profits nor the amount of labour employed. During the past year the British working man, in common with all other classes, has had to pay more for everything he has required. Bread has been dearer, and the same is true of practically all commodities in common use, from the hat on the top of his head to the boots with which he is shod—not even excluding the tobacco in his pipe and the sweets which his children buy in halfpennyworths. Raw material has generally increased in cost by about 25 per cent. since 1896; and the householder, on a big or little scale, who has been called upon to pay more for everything required, has been invited to rejoice at the inevitable result of enhanced values as represented in the official returns published by the Board of Trade. The anomaly is even more glaring than this, because in many cases the increased cost has appeared twice over in the official returns. When the British merchant has imported raw material he has paid a higher price, and this has been set forth in the returns of imports; a large portion of this raw material has been afterwards exported in a manufactured or semi-manufactured state, and the

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