« PreviousContinue »
tain whether the 25th of December or any other day will fall on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.
The greater part of this confusion comes, of course, from the objection which Europeans—unlike our new allies, the Japanese—have always felt to breaking entirely with the past. Before the beginning of the Julian Era, there does not seem to have been any system in Europe at all, while the Easterns calculated their calendars from events distinguished from the point of view of their different religions. When Julius Caesar, stirred up thereto, it is said, by the representations of those Alexandrian astronomers who were the pioneers of Western science, decreed that the year should thenceforth consist of three hundred and sixty-five days with an extra day inserted every fourth year, he did much to bring order out of chaos. Unfortunately, he was not aware that the solar year, instead' of consisting of six hours more than three hundred and sixty-five days, really enjoys a superiority of only five hours, forty-eight minutes, forty-five seconds and a half, with the result that the Julian year gained upon the solar at the rate of about three days in four hundred years. Thus the spring equinox instead of arriving every year on the 21st of March, gradually receded to the 10th, and would have gone on receding until it corresponded with the beginning of the civil year on the 1st of January, had not Pope Gregory XIII., under the inspiration of the astronomer Louis Lelio, decided upon suppressing the inconvenient ten days, and decreed that the day after the 4th of October 1582 should be called the 15th. By doing so, he annulled a number of saints' days, including the festivals of Bishop Remigius, Pope Callixtus, and St. Ursula and her virgins, which had to be transferred to other dates, but he restored the Chris
tian calendar to something like correspondence with Nature, and the new system was instantly adopted by France and other Catholic countries. Our own country, as became a Protestant land always indifferent to logic, held out against the proposed reform until 1752, since when the only attempt to reform the calendar has been that of the French Revolutionists during the Reign of Terror. Their system of Germinal, Florial, Pralrial and the rest, had the advantage of possessing poetical names which neally corresponded to the phenomena of the meteorological or agricultural year, but it had also the great drawback of being inapplicable save to the climate of France; while its division of the year into weeks of ten days instead of seven involved a greater change of habits than the most determined revolutionaries cared to put up with.
Can anything now be done to remedy the anomalies of the existing state of things? M. Camilie Flammarion, to whose articles in astronomical journals I am much indebted for my facts, thinks so. The inconvenience caused by the falling of New Year's Day upon different days of the week in successive years, he would at once do away with by making the year to consist of three hundred and sixty-four days divided into fifty-two equal weeks of seven days each. The remaining day he would put into no month, but would have observed—as it now is in most Continental countries—as a public holiday. In bissextile, or leap year, this complementary day would be doubled, although he rather inclines to the reserving of these intercalary days until seven are in hand, when a whole week's holiday would be given to the greater and, as we think, the most important, part of the human race. He would further make the civil to correspond with the solar year by transferring his New Year's Day to what is at present the 21st of March, while he would alter the present ridiculous names of the twelve months into those which he says are alone worthy of "the qualities or at least the intellectual tendencies of humanity" such as Truth, Science, Wisdom, Justice, Honor, Kindness, Love, Beauty, Humanity, Happiness, Progress, and Immortality. The year would thus be divided as at present into quarters, the first month of each quarter containing thirty-one, while the remaining two months would contain only thirty days. Thenceforward every New Year would commence on a Monday and would end on Sunday, and the days of the week would correspond in every year.
Is there any chance of such a reform being adopted? Personally, I should say not the slightest. Rational and sensible as M. Flammarion's new calendar is, the names of his months smack too much of what our grandfathers called Sansculottism to be acceptable to autocrats like the Czar and the German Emperor. His proposal, tentative as it is, for a whole week's holiday would involve too great a dislocation of trade to recommend itself to nations of shop-keepers like ourselves and our American cousins, and the
same objection would probably apply, though with less force, to the addition of one more dies nan in every year to the number that already exist even iu Protestant countries. Nor does it overcome the objection, which most of us having correspondents in distant colonies have felt, that the calendar cannot be made to correspond with the seasons all over the world, which could indeed only be affected by a re-arrangement on astronomical grounds that would commend itself to nobody. This is the more serious, because all new inventions—etheric telegraphy, aerial navigation, and improvements in locomotion by land and sea—seem to be tending to an annihilation of time and space which will bring the nations of the earth nearer to each other than they have ever been before. But even if these objections could be overcome, the reform of the calendar is an undertaking so serious that it is not likely to take place except after some great change in our political or religious institutions such as would be produced by the Social Revolution that certain dreamers talk about. Falling this, it will probably be postponed till the Greek Kalends.
BOOKS AND AUTHORS.
The Scribners have in preparation a novel by the late Frank R. Stockton which was found in manuscript after his death.
Mr. Owen Seaman's "Borrowed Plumes" which Henry Holt & Co. have in press is a series of present-day parodies of Hall Caine, Mrs. Humphry Ward, John Oliver Hobbes, Maurice
Hewlett, Maeterlinck, Henry James and others. If it is half as clever as Mr. Seaman's contributions in verse to "Punch" it will have mnny delighted readers.
It is announced that Charles Reade's
long-time friend, Mr. John Coleman, is writing a memoir which he intends to call "The Romance of Charles Reade."
Mr. Augustine Blrrell should be in his element in the* volume on "Sydney Smith'' which he is writing for the Macmlllans' English Men of Letters series.
When a man has reached the age of seventy-six without publishing verse, it may be questioned whether he has any moral right to begin; but Mr. Alfred de Kantzaw.who makes his maiden appearance as a poet in a volume just published in London by Fisher Unwin has reached that age.
Thwe are a number of Amerrean hotels of the better class which have found It profitable to minister to the needs of their guests by adding a good library to their equipment. One of the popular London hotels has made a further advance by putting a library of twenty books in each of its bedrooms.
Mr. James Bryce's "Biographical Sketches" which the Macmillans will publish this autumn includes the following subjects:
Mr. Gladstone, Lord Beaconsfleld, J. R. Green, E. A. Freeman, T. H. Green, W. Robertson Smith, Lord Iddesleigh, Robert Lowe, C. S. Parnell, Lord Cairns, Sir George Jessel, Cardinal Manning, Archbishop Tait, Bishop Fraser, Dean Stanley, Lord Acton, Henry Sidgwiek, Anthony Trollope.
The "Poems and Verses" of Edward Sandford Martin (Harper & Brothers) present in a delightful aspect a writer hitherto chiefly known by his keen, humorous and somewhat whimsical comments upon public affairs and the goings-on in "this busy world." There is an ease of versification, a flow of spirits and an ingenuity of rhyme in some of these verses which suggest now Dr. Holmes and now Owen Seaman: yet they are not imitations but have a quality of their own. Among tbe lighter verses perhaps "Blandina"
and "Uncertainty" are most pleasing; while among the; serious poems there is nothing finer or more imaginative than the opening poem "The Sea is His."
That the conventional estimates of character and conduct are as often false as true is of course the point that Richard Bagot sets out to make in "The Just and the Unjust," and it is of course by a study of feminine types that he makes it. A "society novel" of the most pronounced order—its scene laid among the "smart set" of London —the book is clever and readable, but it leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth. John Lane.
Of the gradual passing away of a bit of London which is rich in personal associations the London Times remarks:
Whitehall-gardens—or Privy-gardeu. as the still secluded row of houses at the back of Whitehall was formerly called—has lost many of its charms since Pepys, on May 21, 1662, saw there "the finest smocks and linen petticoats of my Lady Castlemaine's, laced with rich lace at the bottom, that ever I saw; and did me good to look at them." The lawns and the statues and the quaint dials have all disappeared, and now two of the houses are in the builder's bauds, making the contrast greater than ever. No. 3, the old Office of Parliamentary Counsel, has been demolished, leaving a great gap between No. 2—which Disraeli took after the death of his wife about 30 years ago—and No. 4, once the home of Sir Robert Peel. It was at No. -1 that Peel formed the fine collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings which are now included in the National Collection, and it was in the dining room on the ground floor facing the river— which flowed past the bottom of the garden in those days—that he died on July 2, 1850. The house was built in 1824, and, till the construction of the Thames Embankment, there were steps leading, to the river.
NIGHT AND MORNING.
POST LDCBM XKNBBK.t 1882.
My nimble thong-Jits have all too soon outrun
The laggard age and, pausing breathless, see
For laughter tears and for tranquility
Unrest and for their much emotion none.
The old faiths have fallen behind me one by one
And left me sorrowful. It may well be
The day will dawn on others. As for me
I know I shall not live to see the sun.
Therefore herein shall be my comfort
cold, Hearing the knell of drear self-pity
"Too late I came into a world too old"— In my despair's despite to answer
"Nay, Too soon I came into a world too
Could I but watch one hour it were broad day!" ^
POST TKNKBBAS LUX 1902.
Thou whom thus late I know for power
Spirit of good, enkindle thou my cold, Make thou humility not mockery mine And make me in faith and not in flouting bold.
Break, brightness, on my dark and let
my soul, Whose long cold night of mockery
melts away, Spring to the sunrise like a thing made
Ambitious of the dayspring and the day.
The Saturday Review.
Beneath the shadowy bridge, as tho* It feared to wake the drowsy town When Night has drawn her curtail* down.
There's not a restless bird that sings,
And Silence with mysterious wings
The sharp young moon long since Lims. set,
The grasses droop with dewdrops wet,.
The elfin wind that stirs the trees
Blows lightly off the dreaming seas.
Weary of toil, the fever'd Day
Has flung himself upon his bed, And Night comes down the twilight
With poppy-crowned head: Earth, at her presence passing sweet,. Slumbers enchanted at her feet, Till Day, to vigorous life new born, Springs up the highways of the Dawn!: Christian Burkf.
The great dark world is fast asleep, The keen-eyed stars, like children
small, From out the cloud-drifts peer and
Above the fir masts tall:
STAR-STEERING. O, will it ever come again That I upon the boundless main Shall steer me by the light of stars? Now, locked with sandy bars, Life's narrowing channel bids me mark Each serviceable spark That Holm or Lundy flings upon the
Thus man is more to me—
T. E. Brown.
INDWELLING. If thou couldst empty all thyself of
Like to a shell dishabited,
And say—"This is not dead,"—
Unto itself—'Twere better let it be:
T. E. Brown.
A year or two ago it might safely have been affirmed that the majority of English readers, to whom the name of Maurice Maeterlinck was known at all, derived their idea of him from parodies in Punch and from a vague recollection of magazine articles in which he was described as "the Belgian Shakespeare." The performance of a few of his dramas at English theatres and in an English dress tended to deepen, both in those who saw them and in those who only read the critics' descriptions of them, the impression that he was a somewhat absurd person, whose dialogues were constructed on Ollendorffian principles, and who was admired mainly by those who delight in esoteric cults of foreign writers. Today the public attitude is modified. Instead of enigmatical dramas, M. Maeterlinck baa taken to writing prose essays and treatises, which, if often ob
• 1. "Theatre:" tomes I.-III. (Bruxelles: Laeomblez, 1901-1902.)
2. "Le Tresor des Humbles." (Paris: Sodete do Mercure de France, 1896.)
3. "La Sagesse et la DestInee." (Paris: Blbllotheque-Charpentler, 1898.)
4. "La Vie des AbelUes." (Paris: Blbllotheque-Charpentler, 1901.)
i M. Maeterlinck's prose works have been translated by Mr. Alfred Sutro ("The Treasure of the Humble." 1897; "Wisdom and Destiny,'/ 1899; "The Life of the Bee," 1901 ), and to those who do not feel at ease in reading French these versions can be strongly recommended. They
scure and elusive, yet are suggestive of ideas intelligible and even attractive to the ordinary reader; and (in part through the medium of good translations1) his later works have not only become known outside the circle of esoteric devotees, but even have become a part of the curriculum of those whose patronage of the lending libraries extends one grade above the ordinary novel to the class of books opprobriously known as "intellectual" or "improving."
M. Maeterlinck's development, as we hope to show later, is not yet complete, but it has reached an interesting stage. We have no longer to deal with the crude, if striking, promise of a youth, but with the utterances, now maturely developed, of a writer of real genius, in whom the poet and the philosopher are blended in an engaging and attractive mixture. He has given us a sumhave the great merit of placing literary style before precise verbal accuracy, and go as far as can fairly be expected of translations in the way of reproducing the tone of the originals. When the contrary Is not stated, these versions have been used in the quotations given below. Of the plays, "AglavaIne et Selysette" has been translated by Mr. Sutro, "Artane" and "Soeur Beatrice" by Mr. B. Mlall, and "Pelleas et Mellsande" and "Les Aveugles" by Mr. L. Alma Tadema; but the atmosphere which is essential in M. Maeterlinck's dramas Is almost bound to escape a translator.