Imagens das páginas

been proved by a host of experiments. The electrometer has shown it, and needles have been magnetized just as if a battery, had been employed.

There are many other points of similarity which might be enlarged upon; but if one were to attempt to set down all the strange and various considerations which come under cognisance in this subject, they would soon swell the matter much beyond the limits of a magazine article.


We do not know a more curious subject of study for a man interested in intellectual problems than that presented by M. Thiers' intellect, and the way in which it suffers, yet does not suffer, from the effect of age. Here is a mind which at seventyfive appears to be as vigorous as ever, which receives, studies, aud assimilates every day new masses of facts, yet which seems to be inaccessible to new ideas. The quantities of new information, statistics, reports, motions, speeches, despatches, requests, threats, which M. Thiers must every day receive into his mind, and receive easily and intelligently, merely to get through his daily work, must be prodigious. Yet we know that the facts are received, for the President issues orders based upon them, which are always efficacious, and sometimes admirable. He can quote these new facts in his speeches, he can analyze them, he can very often use them with the most persuasive felicity, making them bend this way and that more easily than the youngest orator in the Chamber. In finance, for example, the facts are all new, the figures are new, the taxes are new, the objects of expenditure are new; but M. Thiers takes them all in, is no more capable of quoting the figures of 1842 as the figures of 1872 than of confusing Napoleon with Louis Philippe, or M. Rouher with the elder Casimir Perier. Yet if human eyes may judge on such a point, this same mind, so open to new information, is totally closed to new ideas, is literally incapable of comprehending, we do not merely mean of accepting, the financial principles proved! by experience to be essential to the welfare i of great States. His mind, so receptive of the facts, is non-receptive of the ideas which should correlate the facts, and he is! no more capable of understanding that im-1 ports and exports must be equal, whatever the surface appearance of the figures, than'

he is of forgetting the amount of last year's movement of trade. The same phenomenon is constantly observable in the case of old men who, like M. Thiers, have retained the memory, which is, we believe, almost a physical quality and independent of the true mind, unimpaired, — in old barristers, for instance, who will suck up the facts of a complicated brief almost without an effort, yet are incapable even of following the argument for a great change in any institution or system to which they have become accustomed. Try any old, very old, gardener of your acquaintance with a new plant, and a new method of bedding out old plants, and see the way his mind opens in the one case and shuts in the other; how easily the mass of new facts involved in a new plant, facts of colour, and shape, and cultivation, and pedigree are absorbed, while the new ideas fall back like flies from a painted peach. What ia the cause of the difference V There is not the faintest reason for supposing that the mind is corapartmented as to the things it can receive, and that the compartment for facts, the mental bin No. 1, is open longer than the compartment for abstract ideas. That is almost impossible, from the close relation between abstract and concrete ideas, and is disproved by a quantity of evidence, such as the readiness with which old men receive those ideas which are to them facts, with which old barristers swallow new laws, or old mathematicians new problems, or old astronomers new discoveries, like the spectrum. It is scarcely con-' ceivable, again, that the whole mind should grow old, the mind being immaterial, though tho mediums by which it works may age, and. it is conceivable, may in aging retain receptivity for one kind of food rather than another. The most probable theory is that it is not the mind, properly so called, which alters in age, but the will, which becomes weaker, and allows the mind to remain closed to all it has not become habituated to receive. That habit as regards facts is of course never out of use while we live, new facts pressing on us with every turn of our heads; but the mind may, as regards ideas, get rusty and stiff, till the exertion required of the will to move it becomes a pain from which we instinctively shrink. Many old men are conscious that this is the case, and shrink from the labour and pain of receiving new vivifying thoughts just as wilfully or consciously as they shrink from the labour and pain of a new undertaking, or a new journey, or in extreme cases, of a new doing of any sort. M. Thiers avows, it is said, that this

is hi* mental position towards the great less capable of reviewing the facts of the group of ideas described on the Continent year by his old lights with all the eloas "the Church "; Lord Palmerston al- quence, and bitterness, and epigrammatic lowed that it was his in relation to scien-; terseness that he ever possessed. The tific truth, and it is constantly admitted by ; Duke of Wellington in extreme old age old men when speaking of theological became impervious to the ideas of his day, speculations. They know that their minds and showed a strong indisposition towards could act, but draw back from the unaccus- I new men even in the Army; but there is tomed toil. It is evidence for this view ! no proof whatever that if England had that under unusual excitement, or necessi- j been invaded by the kind of army he was ty, or pressure of any sort, the old frequent- accustomed to defeat, he would not have ly develop a momentary receptivity, or be- displayed all his ancient generalship. He come as receptive of new ideas of some I would have received all the new facts one kind as if they were still young, a | about numbers, equipment, and the like, process often observed in very old states- as M. Thiers receives the new facts about men, and kings, and other persons under , revenue and expenditure, and would have intense responsibility. The will in such applied the old principles as successfully cases is rcinvigorated, and compels the as ever. Nothing would have gone from mind to act, as from disuse or old habit it him except strength of will to compel the is disinclined to do, but ax it always, but mind to perform an unusual and therefor unwillingness, retained the power of fore disagreeable task. Von Moltke is as doing. If, for example, circumstances of great a general as ever he was, is able any sort convinced M. Thiers that he must even to develop his old knowledge by the

comprehend and, so to speak, receive Bastiat's writings, he could do it, though when the necessity is not upon him that feat seems so completely beyond his mental power. The irritability which sometimes marks old age proceeds, we take it, from just the name cause, — a failure in the will, which in its strength restrains the impulse towards querulousness which in its weakness becomes so manifest to the observer.

It would follow from what we have said, that if the memory keeps perfect, a point which appears to depend entirely upon physical conditions, — the memory, for instance, growing bright as to the incidents of childhood when it grows dull as to what happened yesterday,— there is no reason why, as regards anything but new abstract ideas, the mind in old age should be less strong than the mind in maturity, though it may have more difficulty in using the media through which it works, and we find this constantly to be the case. Very old Generals, like Radetzky, have commanded victorious armies; very old statesmen, like Palmerston, have guided parties successfully; and very old orators, like M. Thiers, are often strangely eloquent. It would be almost impossible to show that for oratorical purposes his mind has aged at all, that he has lost any one of those powers which go to create oratorical success unless it be, and we should doubt that, the acuteness of his sensibility to the mental atmosphere around him. We are accustomed to speak of Lyndhurst's later efforts as wonders, and so they were as physical efforts; but

addition of a system of railway strategy;
it is only when asked to consider a new
scheme of
closes, and

discipline he snows to believe or even to

that his mind himself unable follow any idea

except that of severe punishment.

We say " nothing" had gone, because we wish to put our argument strongly; but we say it with a reserve as to the possibilities connected with that faculty of which we spoke a fortnight ago, the littleunderstood faculty of mental accumulation. There may be something material about that, as about memory, for we know very little of the circumstances which affect it — which suspend its action, for example, in the Greek, while the Jew, who is " older " than he, seems to possess an increasing quantity — and one of these circumstances may as regards the individual, be old age. That the faculty is separate from memory is clear from its non-existence in animals, which have very keen memories; but it may have a very intimate relation to it, and may be subject, like the memory, to conditions almost entirely physical. That, however, is a mere suggestion en passant. The relation of matter to mind has been investigated for ages, but the relation of matter not to mind, but to the powers which the immaterial mind utilizes for its own benefit, has not been sufficiently studied for any one to dogmatize about the subject, and our point to-day is independent of it. It is that the impenetrability displayed by old age to new ideas is not the result of a

there is nothing in old age to make a man J failure of mental power, for that, as we

see in M. Thiers very often does not fail, but of a decay in the will which compels the mind to exert itself in that direction.

From The Spectator. M. THIEES AND THE c.i,i;\I A.X TKI.ATV.

Nobody loves his dentist, and M. Tliiers will not increase his popularity in France by his new Treaty with Germany. The arrangement was necessary, and its terms are in the main beneficial to France, bat they bring home to the French the fact of their defeat with a heart-breaking cogency. Tbe German Chancellor has allowed no impulse of pity, or generosity, or apprehensiveness of the future to turn him from his stern resolve that France shall be disabled for war, shall be weighted until a spring has become, even in her own eyes, impossible. Champagne is to be evacuated as soon as twenty millions more of the tribute has been paid, but even then Germany has yet a hundred millions to receive, and until it is a.l paid off she keeps 50,000 men at French expense upon French soil, holds Belfort, the gate of the South, and is authorized to reoccupy Champagne at her own discretion. As we read the Treaty, France, even if she could raise the entire indemnity by one convulsive effort, could not till March, 1874, demand the departure of ill" Germans, who desire to hold their points of vantage until Metz lias beer, fully repaired, and Strasburg rendered impregnable from the West by the mighty circle of forts which the engineers are now pressing on so fast. They may, of course, retire sooner, for much in Germany depends on a few waning lives; but they are not bound by the Treaty to retire, and will regulate their acts in obedience to the counsel of men who doubt whether France, after ull, has been sufficiently reduced, und look askance at the Belgian frontier which is not in their hands. No offering has been made to France, to opinion, or to the Fates who punish the too fortunate. The indemnity is not reduced, the time for paying it is not in reality extended; the weight of the invading army is not lightened; nothing, in fact, has been granted except the privilege of shifting a burden from one shoulder to another, from Champagne to the departments nearer the Eastern frontier. All that Germany has a right to ask she takes, and if she surrenders anything, it is ou terms which in their hard rigidity, their air of keen distrust, take all of grace away from the apparent concession.

Nevertheless, although M. Thiers cannot obtain from this Treaty any increase to his power, we question if it will in any degree diminish it. It is all very well to say, as the Monarchists are saying, that a monarchy would have obtained better terms than a republic, but there is not a tittle of evidence to justify the assertion. The House of Uohenzollern has risen to its lonely height of grandeur by destroying thrones. Denmark has not been favoured because she has a king, or Austria because she is monarchical, nor has all the antiquii ty of the Guelphs availed to preserve HanI over from absorption. If Germany treats any power with exceptional respect, it is the American Republic, for whose sake she recently modified her i.iilitaiy law, reducing its pressure upon returned emigrants, and she has no more historic reason to favour either branch of the Bourbons than to welcome the family of Bonaparte. The Chancellor himself, who guides her policy, is , probably friendly to a Republic, on the cynical ground that a Republic is the nearest approach to amrchy, and anarchy disqualifies States from fighting; and he has always displayed a disposition to support M. Thiers as a man of the old diplomacy, whose ideas he understands, against any probr'ble rival. The French people are not likely in their present temper to underrate his hardness, to credit him with any weakness towards the Bourbons, or to believe that he wquld see with pleasure tlie revival of a military monarchy in France, while they are likely, as we read the Treaty, to be freshly impressed with the magnitude of the dangers from which M. Thiers. is trying to deliver his country. Even now the work to be done before the Germans leave, the sums to be raised, the arrangements to be made, the obstacles to be overcome, fatigue the imagination, and render the coolest observers willing to pardon anything to the man who, at seventyfive years of age, displays the courage to attempt such tusks. The parties might risk civil war, but not civil war and its consequence, foreign occupation. If they depose M. Thiers, it must be to appoint either a Prince, like the Due d'Aumale, or a friend of monarchy, like Marshal Macmahnn, and either selection would be the signal for an explosion in the cities, the South, and possibly in the Army itself, which would render the observance of this Treaty financially impossible, that is, would compel Germany to extend her occupation. We question whether, in view of such a contingency, the majority would have the 1 nerve to accept the resignation of M,

Thier?. less to take any step intended to force him to resign. It is easy to say, of course, that M. Thiers is acting imprudently in forcing his Protectionist views upon the Chamber, that he talks nonsense about Treaties of Commerce which ''restrict the liberty of France "— as if every contract did not restrict a liberty — and that his navigation tax has already injured the prosperity of the seaport towns, and it may all be quite true besides, but all will not justify the majority in risking civil war. Nor do we believe it will persuade them to risk it. or him to give them the opportunity. The immediate gain M. Thiers expects from his tax is only about two millions, and he and nia opponents Lad much better put up with a deficit of that amount for another year or two than by an open quarrel damage the credit which it is the object of the •' equilibrium" to secure. We believe the majority will see this, more especially as the substitutes they suggest for M. Thiers' taxes, though very much less injurious, are not one wit more popular than those taxes themselves. A nation of thrifty peasants and shopkeepers always striving to avoid cash out-lays dreads and detests direct taxes to a degree the wasteful English can scarcely conceive, to a degree which renders every new tax of the kind dangerous to order, and which has already alarmed M. Gambetta and the Left into promising that they will, while reserving their own convictions, support M. Thiers' proposals in the interest of the Republic, which would be discredited in the eyes of the people by further direct demands.

Besides, and this after nil is the grand point of the situation, the new Treaty j renders a sjeneral election more instead of less feasible than before, and a general election it is well understood, would result in the establishment of the definitive Republic so dreaded by the majority. M. Thiers may shrink from dismissing the Assembly, nailing a new one, and asking from it a bill of indemnity legalizing his extra-constitutional act, because proceeding might approach too closely to a coup tfelal, and would render it necessary for him first of all to secure the Army; but be would not shrink from calling upon the Members to dissolve themselves, and in so calling would occupy an almost unassailable position. The request would be strictly within the law, for the Chamber1 has the right to dissolve itself, and the President has the right to make propositions to the Chamber. The Left and the' Left Centre would support him, and it

would take some courage for the Right and the Right Centre openly to resist. They may have a majority, but they would I have against them the entire Executive I Government — for they have, under the proposition Rivet, no power to dismiss M. j Thiers — all the cities, and an immense majority of their constituents, sure to side ! with the authority which calls on them to re-accept or reject the candidates returned 'upon their hands. The moral pressure 'from constituents aware that they have changed more than their representatives, and anxious to embody their new opinion {in act, would be almost irresistible, more > especially by men who are aware that that they were elected to perform a func1 tion — to make a peace — which has already been performed by M. Thiers rather than by themselves. If they deny this, if they affirm that they still represent the country, they have no reason to dread a verdict which, if they are right, will send them back masters of the situation, while if they acknowledge the truth, and resist dissolution because they will not be re: turned again, they confess by remaining • that they have ceased to represent the 'people, that is, they have no moral right at all. They will stand alone in their own right, denounced by the Executive, opposed by a minority of their own colleagues, and unsupported by the constitu', encies whose will they profess to speak. No such position as that is possible in France, where men are logical, or in any couutry where resoect for legality has not entered into the very blood of the people, and the Assembly, after some furious speeches, and possibly some furious efforts to resume its delegated powers, would be driven to choose between obedience to a perfectly legal request or a coup d'etat directed against the Executive, which i£ unsuccessful would cover them with ridicule, and if successful, give the signal for civil war. A single man might encounter such a risk, but that three hundred gentlemen, most of them wealthy and worn out, with no confidence in the people, in their leaders, or in themselves, will arrive at such a resolution, will strike a coup d'etat to avoid their own re-election, is as incredible as absurd. We do not believe that the Assembly could survive a week after M. Thiers had told the country that it ought to be renewed, even if he applied no pressure except that publicopinion to which representatives, of all men, are naturally most sensitive, and which is quite as strongly felt in France as on this side the Channel, the

public voting in the Chamber constantly I being simply a repetition of the policy of reversing the vote by ballot. The As-! the Empress Catherine towards Poland sembly, as it exists, lies in the last re

sort at the mercy of M. Thiers, and will either be dissolved, or in fear of a dissolution will accede to his demands.


A Correspondent at Constantinople says, writing on the 20th of June : — " The question of the succession to the throne still creates much excitement here. Mourad Effendi (son of Abdul Medjid), who, according to the principle hitherto adopted, would be the rightful heir, is thirtytwo years old, and is a prince of considerable ability and learning; he is very popular in the country, and the belief is very general that if he were supplanted by the eldest son of the present Sultan this would be nothing less than a violation of the Koran. It is said that the present Grand Vizier, before obtaining his appointment, promised the Sultana Valide that her grandson, the young prince Youssuf Izeddin, would be nominated heir to the throne provided he (the Grand Vizier) should remain in office for a period of two years; and this is supposed to be the true explanation of the warmth with which he advocates a change in the succession. His plans, however, meet with so much opposition that there is but little chance of their being realized except by a antp d'etat; and, indeed, some such consummation seems to be preparing, if one may judge from the incessant removal of high public functionaries from their posts and the appointment of men entirely devoted to the Grand Vizier as their successors, and especially from the new policy he has inaugurated towards Russia, with whom he is daily becoming more intimate. The part played by the Cabinet of St. Petersburg in this intrigue is only too evident,

before the partition of that unfortunate country. So revolutionary a measure as a change in the succession of Turkey was as sure of Russian support as the separatist movement among the Slavonic subjects of the Sultan, or any other means of precipitating the disruption of his empire. Notwithstanding this, the semi-official papers continue to advocate an alliance with Russia, and the influence of the Grand Vizier is undoubtedly increasing. It was hoped a few days ago that Midbat Pasha, the late Governor of Bagdad, who was coming to Constantinople after a long absence, would counteract the policy of the Grand Vizier, and perhaps eventually succeed him. lie is a man of great statesmanlike ability, much esteemed at Court, and known for his liberal opinions and his hostility to Russia, who has done her utmost to neutralize his influence by inducing the Sultan to keep him in a sort of magnificent exile at Bagdad. lie was so dissatisfied, however, with the new policy which had been inaugurated at Constantinople that he threw up hia governorship, notwithstanding the great revenues and almost absolute power it gave him, and hastened to the capital: but yesterday the news arrived that he had been stopped on the way, and was to be 'interned ' for six years at Kutaya, thus leaving Russia and the Grand Vizier masters of the situation. Some of the ambassadors, on learning the news, went to the Grand Vizier to ask whether the pasha's internment ' had been carried out in consequence of an ' irad ' (written order) of the Sultan; to which the Vizier coldly replied that he could not admit the right of foreign representatives to interfere in the internal affairs of the empire. The news was, however, contradicted on the following day; but it has not yet transspired whether this contradiction emanated from an official source, and, at any rate, Midhat Pasha has not yet arrived in the capital."

A Cobrespondeht writes : — " Prof. Leohler, I manuscripts. His work will throw considerable

of Leipiig, is about to publish a life of oar great reformer, Wicliff. He has been engaged in this work for several years, and bos discovered in the library of Vienna several manuscripts of Wicliff which have never been published; he has also made a careful examination of the Hussite

additional light on WiclifPs intimate connexion with Huss and the Bohemian reformers. The work is in such a atnte of advancement that it will probably be published in the course of the autumn.." Atheowum.

« AnteriorContinuar »