Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

Mrs. Jameson gave it her most serious thoughts. She had long occupied herself, as we have seen, with the loveliest creations of human genius, but she knew that the ideal lies beside the real, and she wrote vigorously in the interests of female emigrants, deaconesses, sisters of charity, workhouse matrons and visitors, art-students, and governesses. Nor was this done by fits and starts, in singular and irregular efforts, but by sustained labour and sympathy, and above all by example. She thus risked being identified with much that half a century ago excited the ridicule of men, and that still, thanks to the hasty susceptibility of women and to the indiscreet partisanship of their friends, excites the pardonable antagonism and dislike of the other sex. But Mrs. Jameson worked with tact and temper, and in this way she did her part towards a solution of some of the bitter problems of middle-class female training in England, and towards the free co-operation of women in the industrial life of society. She lived to see the dawn of a better day for working women, and, had she lived a little longer, she would have hailed with joy the formation in the Working *Ladies' Guild' of an organised band of 1,000 women of the upper classes now engaged in helping their less favoured sisters in the task of earning their daily bread.*

The pension of 1001. a year granted to Mrs. Jameson by her Majesty the Queen was a royal and womanly acknowledgment of her merits. Yet up to the very close of her life Anna had to work in order to maintain herself and her family. That fate, hard as it might appear, had, however, great compensations for her. It gave a real purpose to her life, and it saved her from becoming a prey to the many haunting things' which would have been only too likely to pursue the solitary thinker and the neglected wife. She had many friends, but none so enduring or so true as art and literature. Socrates, when in prison, confided to Cebes that all through his lifetime he had * had dreams which had always recommended to him the same thing: “Socrates," said they, “apply yourself to music;” and this • he took for a simple exhortation, as desiring him to carry * on the study of wisdom, which is the most perfect music. To many artists, since the fatal day when the ship of Apollo returned to guilty Athens, has the same voice delivered the same message, desiring them to subdue, and subordinate to a high harmony, all the forces of existence; and the life of Anna Jameson was truly dedicated to art. It became her work and

# Report of the Working Ladies' Guild.' 1878.

Hatchard, London, her profession; she loved it truly, and it rewarded her largely ; and though she was, and remained, a poor woman, hers was not one of those peevish leagues with learning which some have only signed as it were perforce and in discontent. Her life was chequered by pain, but if sorrow can be banished it was banished in her case by diligence. I have love and work

enough,' she wrote in one of her happiest letters. Her sorrows and her responsibilities gradually taught her greater reticence and greater self-command, and the evening of her life was serene. She lived to a ripe age, and though, as too often happens, star after star went out, yet she was left rich in memories ; she never knew harm-doing,' and by her friendships, her labours for others, and her unceasing studies, the artist-woman was soothed, dignified, and consoled.

ART. V.--1. Report from the Select Committee on the Euphrates

Valley Railway. Ordered by the House of Commons to be

printed, 1871. Ditto, 1872. 2. Report from the Select Committee on Steam Navigation to

India. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed,

1834. 3. Report on the Euphrates Valley Railway. By Major

General CHESNEY, R.A., F.R.S. London : 1857. 4. India and her Neighbours. By W. P. ANDREW. Lon

don: 1878. A MONG the changes which have taken place in the aspect of

various portions of the earth within the historic period, none has been more striking than the decay and desolation that have fallen on the great Mesopotamian valley. That naturally fertile region was the cradle of the human race. The accounts and the indications of historians, sacred and profane, have received a new significance from the unsealing of that mysterious character which the Semitic and the Aryan conquerors of Assyria and Babylonia inherited from an earlier Turanian race. And not only do we find the literary records of great and populous cities; the memoranda of purchase and of sale, of the survey and the transfer of land, of the discharge of the duties of political office in annual rotation, and even of the methods of grammatical instruction, preserved in these clay tablets, but we find material evidence of the splendour of the Assyrian Court, and of the busy industry of a dense population. Year after year we obtain fresh glimpses of this long forgotten and peculiar civilisation. Enormous works, for worship, for defence, or for irrigation, have left yet enduring traces, which show that the ancient dwellers in the valley watered by the Euphrates and the Tigris were as apt as were the contemporary or yet earlier Egyptians to derive the benefit that a well-directed industry could secure from the bountiful supply furnished by the river. Fragments of bronze gates, of a crystal throne, sculptured slabs, objects of luxury or of elegance in ivory, alabaster, bronze, or more precious metals, have been found in abundance. That the chronicles of centuries may yet be recovered from the safe keeping of cylinders of stone and tablets of baked earthenware is matter of not unreasonable expectation. Relics and records alike testify to the fact that, from two thousand to four thousand years ago, so much of the great Mesopotamian plain as had at that time been formed by the steadily accruing deposits of the rivers was a very hive of human industry, a region where the rich fertility of nature was to the full utilised by the toil of man.

Of the causes and the course of the change which has thus reduced populous cities to ruinous heaps we know far less than might be desired. Under the dynasty of the Seleucidæ royal cities were founded on the banks of the Tigris and the shores of the Levant. The decay of more ancient capitals has been by some attributed to the growth of these more favoured cities. But the question is that not of the displacement, but of the disappearance, of population. It may almost be questioned whether the entire population of Mesopotamia, at the present time, is equal to that formerly comprised within the limits of one or other of those great walled provinces which in the days of Herodotus were called cities.

Public attention is now directed towards the Mesopotamian valley by two entirely different causes of interest. One is the resumption of the task of exploration, and the brilliant results, whether regarded from an archæological or from an historical point of view, of which it is possible that we are only at the commencement. The other is the consideration, to which each word of alarm as to the frontier or the defence of India gives more urgent weight, that the shortest road between England and India lies along the track of the ancient highway of the valley of the Euphrates.

Not that the question can be regarded as by any means new. In 1834 the House of Commons appointed a select committee to enquire into the means of promoting communication with India by steam, and recommended that a grant of

for

20,0001. should be made by Parliament for the purpose of ascertaining the capabilities of the River Euphrates for steam navigation with the least possible delay. At this time the Suez Canal was not in existence. A partial break in the sea voyage was necessary every route but that round the Cape. And it was recommended by the committee that, by whatever line the communication is established, the cost, including that of “the land conveyance from the Euphrates on the one hand, 6 and the Red Sea on the other, to the Mediterranean,' should be divided equally between the English Government and the East India Company

In pursuance of this recommendation, the Duke of Wellington, on November 28, 1834, informed the President of the Board of Control that her Majesty had been pleased to grant to Captain Chesney, R.A., a commission as commander of the ' expedition about to be undertaken for the establishment of a communication between the Mediterranean Sea and her Majesty's possessions in the East Indies, and to communicate, ' through the Board of Control, instructions to that officer,

who was raised to the rank of colonel.' An abstract of correspondence and accounts of expenditure relative to the enterprise thus commenced was ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on July 17, 1837.

Two out of four projected large volumes, under the title of • The Expedition for the Survey of the Rivers Euphrates ' and Tigris, carried on by order of the British Government ' in the years 1835, 1836, and 1837,' were published by authority' in 1850. The completion of this work, which was on a scale of exhaustive detail, appeared, however, to the Treasury to be attended with undue expense; and in 1868 a condensed · Narrative of the Euphrates Expedition' was published by Colonel Chesney at the instance of the Government; although the author justly remarks that the construction of the Suez Ship Canal deprived that portion of his own work which related to Egypt and the Red Sea of much of its former interest.

In 1871 a select committee of fifteen members, who called Sir Stafford Northcote to the chair, was appointed by the House of Commons to examine and report upon the whole subject of railway communication between the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and the Persian Gulf. On July 27 in that year the committee reported to the House the evidence they had taken, which had been offered, in four days, by nine witnesses; and recommended their own reappointment at the commencement of the next Session, to continue the enquiry. On July 22, 1872, after recalling Sir Henry Rawlinson, and taking the evidence of twenty-eight more witnesses, official and non-official, the committee agreed on their report. They expressed their conviction • that there is no insuperable obstacle in the way of the construction of a railway from some suitable port in the Mediterranean to some other suitable port at or near the head of the Persian Gulf; that there is more than one port which might be selected at each end of the line; that there are several practicable routes; that there would be no difficulty in procuring the necessary supply of labour and of materials for constructing a railway; and that there need be no apprehension of its being exposed to injury by natives, either during the progress of its construction, or after it shall have been completed. They find, too, that there is reason to expect the sanction, if not the active concurrence, of the Turkish Government in any well-conceived project that may be presented to them.'

With the exception of this expression of a decided opinion in favour of the practicability of a route connecting the Mediterranean with the Persian Gulf, whether as regards the physical character of the country, the number and distribution of its inhabitants, or the goodwill of the central Government, the committee have rather offered a summary of the evidence brought before them than endeavoured to sift it, and to rate it according to its value. They seem to have thought that this portion of the judicial function would best be discharged by the House of Commons. It is quite intelligible that civilians should have hesitated to express any decided opinions on the military question, more especially when they found that there was not an absolute accord between officers of high rank, who had held supreme command in India. At the same time the report recalls the fact that among the witnesses whose evi*dence tends most strongly to support the policy of incur‘ring the cost or risk of a national guarantee, your committee may mention Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, Lord Strathnairn, Sir H. Bartle Frere, Sir Donald MacLeod, Mr. • Laing, Colonel Sir H. Green, Colonel Malcolm Green, • Captain Tyler, R.E., Mr. W. Gifford Palgrave, &c. • Among those who suggest considerations tending to throw • doubt on the propriety of such an expenditure your com

mittee would call attention to the evidence of Lord Sand• hurst, Sir H. Rawlinson, Major Champain, &c. When the committee has thus only numbered, without attempting to weigh, we shall not presume to attempt the latter mode of valuation. But it may be observed that the conclusions of the report failed to indicate the very important distinction which exists between evidence and opinion.

« AnteriorContinuar »