Puslapio vaizdai

selves. Verily, I think we are much indebted to the men who introduced foreign manners and modes of thought to displace our native ferocity. The Widow Blackacre is considered to be the offspring, not of Wycherley's brain, but of Racine's La Comtesse in "Les Plaideurs," yet surely a litigious female was not such a novelty that the character might not have occurred to two men without the one copying the other. Be that as it may, however, the widow is an exquisitely humorous creation, and is true, coarse, homely English, without a flavor of foreign adulteration. The originality of her son Jerry can not be disputed, and in that Wycherley was thereafter to have an illustrious imitator, for it can not be doubted that Goldsmith had a memory of this booby when he drew Tony Lumpkin; both are admirably drawn, but I think the palm must be given to the elder dramatist. The base, censorious Olivia, who pretends an aversion to all mankind only to mask her evil passions, is a powerful picture, but not at all like Molière's Celimène, except in her scandalizing propensities. Novel, Oldfox, Freeman, Plausible, are all welldefined portraitures; Fidelia, who in the disguise of a boy follows the man she loves, is a character borrowed from the Elizabethan drama; but it has not improved in Wycherley's hands. Her connivance at his hideous revenge, so revolting to any person possessed of the least delicacy-and how much more would it have been so to a woman who loved him!-nay, even the fact of her being enamored of such a brute, sadly tarnish all that is agreeable in the picture.


The Country Wife" was too strong even for the stomachs of a Restoration audience, even for the vizard-wearers, and brought down a storm of well-deserved censure which the author animadverts upon in a scene between Olivia and Eliza in Act II. of "The Plain Dealer," in which the play is censured by the bad woman and defended by the modest, on the motto of "Honi soit qui mal y pense." But such a defense is quite inadmissible, since nothing is left to the thought of the spectator. In revenge, however, the author has, in the last-named comedy, attacked every section of society with the most savage malignancy. A lord is “a leaden shilling which you bend every way, and debases the stamp he bears, instead of being raised by it." "Have you seen," says Manly, "a bishop bowing low to a gaudy atheist; a judge to a doorkeeper; a great lord to a fishmonger, or a scrivener with a jack-chain round his neck; a lawyer to a sergeant-at-arms; a velvet physician to a threadbare chemist; and a supple gentleman-usher to a surly beefeater and so tread round in a preposterous huddle of ceremony to each other, while they can hardly hold their solemn false counte

nances?" An alderman “makes you drunk with lees of sack before dinner to take away your stomach; and there you must call usury and extortion God's blessing, or the honest turning of the penny." A fellow, whose trade is taking false oaths, complains of being “bilked by a reverend divine, that preaches twice on Sunday and prays half an hour still before his dinner." To which the widow replies: "How! a conscientious divine, and not pay people for damning themselves! Sure, then, for all his talking, he does not believe in damnation." As to the female sex, the language used against them is too gross to be quoted, and the dedication of the play to a woman of ill-fame is the crowning insult.

Goldsmith was not the only succeeding dramatist who condescended to draw material from this comedy. The scene between Olivia, Novel, and Lord Plausible, originally it can not be doubted suggested by the well-known one in "Le Misanthrope" (5th of Act II.), was largely appropriated by Sheridan in "The School for Scandal." Those who will take the trouble to compare the following specimens with some of the speeches in the scandal-scenes will find an extraordinary resemblance even in the turns of expression, although the younger author is more polished and artificial. A "nauseous" old woman at the upper end of a table, it is said, “revives the old Grecian custom of serving in a death's head with their banquets." "She looks like an old coach new painted; affecting an unseemly smugness, while she is ready to drop to pieces." Of her daughter it is said, she is "the very disgrace of good clothes, which she always wears to heighten her deformity, not mend it; for she is still most splendidly, gallantly ugly, and looks like an ill piece of daubing in a rich frame. . . . Then she bestows as unfortunately on her face all the graces in fashion, as the languishing eye, the hanging or pouting lip. But, as the fool is never more provoking than when he aims at wit, the ill-favored of our sex are never more nauseous than when they would be beauties, adding to their natural deformity the artificial ugliness of affectation." Of another lady it is said, “she is as silent in conversation as a country lover, and no better company than a clock, or a weather-glass, for if she sounds, 'tis but once an hour to put you in mind of the time of day, or to tell you 'twill be cold or hot, rain or snow."

Etherege and Wycherley were the true founders of that school of comedy which attained such perfection in the next generation, and which, notwithstanding its licentiousness and artificiality, must ever be considered to have produced our finest models in that department of literature.

who soon succeeded in convincing the King that, as the poet had contracted a marriage without taking royalty into his confidence, it was an act of contumacy which must be punished by the withdrawal of the royal favor. The union was a very unhappy one; the lady was of a violent temper and very jealous; she took good care that her husband should not appear at court, for fear he might renew his old liaison, and even when he paid a visit to his favorite Bow Street tavern, which stood opposite his house, he was obliged to sit at the open window in order that his cara sposa might be convinced that there was no lady with him. Not without reason we may well believe were these suspicions. When she died, however, she left him all her fortune. But this proved a curse instead of a blessing to him, for her family disputed the will and got the day, while the unfortunate widower was consigned to prison for the law expenses. In the Fleet he remained seven years. He had offended the King's mistress by his marriage, and the King by his attachment to Buckingham, whose cause, in his evil days, he defended with a boldness and sincerity which shows that he was not undeserving of the epithet of "Manly Wycherley," which his contemporaries bestowed upon him. But Johnson's observation upon the value of the literary patronage of the time, which I have before quoted in my article on Otway,* was well exemplified in his case, namely, that men of wit received no favor from the great but to share their riots; from which they were dismissed again to their own narrow circumstances. And poor Wycherley might have died in the Fleet for all his aristocratic friends would do to help him, had not James II., who had by this time succeeded to the throne, been so struck, at a representation of "The Plain Dealer," by the virtues (!) of Manly, that he there and then resolved to pay off his debts and settle a pension of two hundred a year upon him. It seems strange that Wycherley did not resort to his pen to assist him in his extremity, and that he should have renounced authorship in the very maturity of his powers. But his troubles were only to cease with his life. It would appear that his debts were so considerable that he did not like to own the full amount to Lord Mulgrave, to whom the King had confided the execution of his beneficent intentions, so that what must have been a large sum remained unpaid. And when at his father's death he succeeded to the family estate, being only a tenant for life, he could not mortgage it for sufficient money to clear himself of liabilities. Probably the old ones received some additions after his release from prison.

Wycherley, however, although he borrowed much from the French, surpassed Etherege in the power of transmuting his stolen goods, which, like gold and silver trinkets thrown into a meltingpot, while losing their original form, retained all their essential qualities; from whatever source derived, he always made his characters thoroughly English, and, if his plots were borrowed, the manners and vices depicted were those of his age and country. Yet, although the founder of the school, Wycherley has little affinity with the good-natured, rattling, pleasant Farquhar, or the highly polished and refined Congreve; Vanbrugh alone approaches him in coarseness. There is a ferocity in Wycherley's satire which can be paralleled only in Swift's writings. Mrs. Flippant is worthy of a place among the Yahoos, and the female bevy of "The Country Wife" would not have found themselves out of place there. The drinking-scene at Horner's lodgings (Act V., Scene 4) is a horrible lampoon upon the entire sex. Lady Fidget says: "Lord, why should you not think that we women make use of our reputation as you men of yours, only to deceive the world with less suspicion? Our virtue is like the statesman's religion, the Quaker's word, the gamester's oath, and the great man's honor; but to cheat those that trust us. . . . Our bashfulness is only the reflection of the men's. We blush when they are shamefaced."


A few more facts of our author's life have still to be related. Some little time after the appearance of his last comedy he married, and it was the comedy that brought about that event. One day, while he and a friend were in a bookseller's shop at Tunbridge Wells, the Countess of Drogheda, a young, rich, handsome widow, came into the shop and inquired for "The Plain Dealer." "Madam," said the friend, one Mr. Fairbeard, pushing Wycherley forward, "since you are for the Plain Dealer, there he is for you." 'Yes," added Wycherley, "this lady can bear plain dealing, for she appears to be so accomplished, that what would be compliments addressed to others would be plain dealing addressed to her." "No, truly sir," replied the Countess, not behind in repartee, "I am not without my faults any more than the rest of my sex, and yet I love plain dealing, and am never more fond of it than when it tells me of my faults." "Then, madam," again interposed the friend, "you and the Plain Dealer seem designed by Heaven for each other." Such is the story told by Dennis. This was the commencement of an acquaintance which ended in matrimony. Wycherley, on account of another countess, was desirous that his marriage should be kept secret; but it soon came to the knowledge of the lady whom he most desired to keep in ignorance, and

"Appletons' Journal," November, 1879.

In his sixty-fourth year he published a volume of erotic poems-why was it not another comedy? In the same year Pope published his "Pastorals," and the simultaneous appearance of the two books in some way brought about an acquaintance between the two authors. The letters that passed between them will be found in Pope's correspondence, but they are not very amusing. By and by the elder poet wrote some more verses-and very bad ones they were-and made the extraordinary proposition that his young friend should correct them. Pope, like a second Gil Blas, accepted the task in all sincerity, and his candid criticisms were received in much the same spirit as were those of the Spanish valet of immortal memory; Wycherley was disgusted at the numerous faults found with his compositions, and the friendship came to an end.

He appears to have retained much of his handsome and distinguished appearance to the last. There is a picture of him at the age of twenty-eight, by Sir Peter Lely, which represents a face of fine animal beauty, well set off by the flowing periwig of the period; many were the regretful glances he would cast upon this pre


N the following remarks I assume the existence have studied the Book of Nature, and perhaps

assum-powerful, most decidedly in those who only

of a spirit in men which is not matter. I do not say that either is demonstrated or can be demonstrated, still less do I presume to define either, but I address only those who already assent to both.

sentment of youth, and many were the sighs it
evoked, and underneath he had written the Vir-
gilian motto, “Quantum mutatus ab illo !" The
old spirit of the Carolian time was still strong
within him. He used often to declare that he
was resolved to die married, although his first
experience of that blessed state rendered him
very averse to living in it again. Only eleven
days before his death, in the year 1715, in the
hope of disinheriting an obnoxious nephew, he
espoused a young woman who was supposed to
have a fortune of fifteen hundred pounds a year,
but who turned out afterward to be an impostor
and to be married to another man. Ignorant of
this fact, however, upon his death-bed he called
her to him, and, having made her promise to
grant him the request he was about to make,
said with a sly twinkle in his eye: "My dear, it
is only this-that you will never marry an old
man again." Like Mercutio, a humorist to the
last! He was buried in a vault in St. Paul's,
Covent Garden. He is said to have changed his
religion once more, a little previously, back to
the Romish faith,

Temple Bar.

some of its pages, is that the two revelations are
irreconcilable. The immutability of nature's laws
is to them a gospel taught by every stone, by
every plant, by every animated being. All that
they have learned to know of matter rests on the
assurance that its properties are absolutely fixed.
The progress of science, of art, of civilization, of
the human race, depends on the fact that what
has been found to be true will be always true,
that there is an ordered sequence of events which
may be trusted to be invariable, to which we
must conform our lives if we would be happy,
and which, if we cross it in ignorance or defiance,
will revenge the outrage by inevitable penalties.
Those laws, which some call of matter, may by
others be called laws of God, and the most de-
vout minds find in their fixity only a confirmation
of their faith in his unchanging promises. But,
if thus fixed, it seems to many who are devout as
well as to many who are skeptical, that it be-
comes impossible to believe that their Author
should ever set them aside by what are called
miracles; still less that he should bid men pray

The tendency of recent belief in those who for events which are, in fact, not regulated by

Many, however, of those who give such assent are troubled about the ways of God and the nature of man's relation to him. On the one hand is the Bible, which declares that all things on earth as well as in heaven are regulated by divine will at every moment, which records frequent miracles, and which bids men ask from him whatsoever they would, in absolute confidence that they shall have their desires. On the other hand stands the Book of Nature, as divine as that of Revelation, being in fact another revelation of God, which tells of an unchanging sequence of events, of laws incapable of modification by isolated acts of will-laws which, indeed, if subject to such modification, would fall into disorder. Which of these revelations shall they believe? Or can they be reconciled so that both are credible?

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wish or will, but by what has gone before up to the beginning of time. To meet this dilemma there seem to such minds only two courses, either to believe that Scripture is not the word of a God at all, or to give to its language an interpretation which is not the natural sense of the words, and which was certainly not meant or understood by those who first wrote or first heard it.

Yet it is not possible to abandon the conviction that the words and the acts of God can not really be at variance. Before surrendering his words contained in the Scripture, as either spurious or misunderstood, no effort can be too often reiterated to show them to be compatible with what we have learned of his works. I propose to make one more such effort, based on the closest examination of what both really tell, or imply.

Let us first understand accurately what it is we are to deal with, both as facts and as expressed in language. The inquiry is to be limited (with exceptions which will be noted as they occur) to the laws of matter. It will be assumed that matter exists as our ordinary perceptions inform us, but if it shall hereafter be proved to be only a form of motion, or of force, the arguments will still be applicable. By laws, we shall understand what in a different expression we call the properties of matter. The advantage of thus explaining law is that it excludes some other senses of a vague and misleading character, while it includes the sense in which alone law can properly be applied to physical nature. Thus, the law of gravity is the same thing as the property of matter which we call weight, and, if there be any matter or ether which is imponderable, then the law of gravity does not apply to it. So the law of attraction, in its different forms, expresses the property of cohesion, and of capillary ascent, and so on; the law of chemical affinities expresses the property of the combination of one species of matter with another in definite proportions; the laws of sound, light, or electricity, express the properties of vibrations, either of air or of subtiler forms of matter, as they affect our senses. In thus limiting the meaning of law, it is therefore obvious that we embrace all which the materialist can desire to include when he insists that law is permanent and unchangeable.

This, in fact, is the first proposition which we must all accept. No human being can add to or subtract a single property of any species of matter. To do so were, indeed, to create. For matter is an aggregate of properties; each species of matter is differentiated only by its properties, and could we alter one of these we should really turn it into different matter. It is true there are what are called allotropic forms, such as oxygen and ozone, the yellow and red phos

phorus, the forms of sulphur as modified by heat, and a considerable number of organic compounds, and we can by certain arrangements turn the one into the other. But when we ask what allotropism is, we find that it is itself one of the properties (however obscure to us) of the matter we deal with. Oxygen would not be oxygen, but something else, if it had not the inherent property of becoming ozone under certain conditions. Given these conditions, and there is nothing we can do which will prevent the change occurring. If, as chemists believe, allotropism depends on the different arrangement of the ultimate atoms of matter, then the capacity of assuming two arrangements in its atoms is clearly one of the ultimate properties of that species of matter.

It follows, then, that if a miracle were really a suspension of a physical law, or a change, temporary or permanent, of any property of matter, it would really be an act of creation-the creation of something having different properties from any matter that before existed. If iron were to float on water by suspension of the law of gravity, it would be in fact the creation of something having (at least for the time required) the physical and chemical properties of iron, but with a specific gravity less than water-and therefore something not iron.

But, without creation, man has enormous power over nature. He can, and daily does, overpower her laws, or seemingly make them work as he pleases. Despite the law of gravity, he ascends to the sky in a balloon; he makes water spring up in fountains; he makes vessels, weighing thousands of tons, float on the seas. Despite cohesion, he grinds rocks to powder; despite chemical affinity, he transmutes into myriads of different forms the few elements of which all matter consists; despite the resistless power of the thunderbolt, he tames electricity to be his servant or his harmless toy. With water and fire he molds into shape mighty masses of metal; he shoots, at a sustained speed beyond that of birds, across valleys and through mountain-ranges; he unites seas which continents had separated; there is nothing in the whole earth which he has not subdued, or does not hope to subdue, to his use. There is hardly a physical miracle which he does not feel he can, or may yet, perform.

But all this wonderful, this boundless power over material laws is gained by these laws. He alters no property of matter, but he uses one property or another as he needs, and he uses one property to overpower another. It is by knowing that gravity is more powerful in the case of air than in the case of hydrogen gas, that he makes air sustain him as he floats, beneath a bag of hydrogen, above the earth; it is by knowing

guides them.

Meantime he has learned that clay, when heated, becomes hard as stone, and the arts of pottery take their rise; while glassmaking follows on the discovery that ashes and sand fuse into a transparent mass. Yet, whether in their rude beginning or finished elegance, man in these arts does no more than bring together the rough materials and apply to them heat, then their own inherent properties effect the result. Science—that is, knowledge of natural laws of matter-guides his hand, but his hand only moves matter; it gives no property and takes away none; it does not even enable one property to work; it does absolutely nothing except to place matter where its own laws work, to bring or to remove matter which is needed, or to remove matter which is superfluous. Let us analyze every complicated triumph of human knowledge and skill, and we shall find it all reduced to the knowledge of what the properties of matter are, and the skill which imparts to it motion just sufficient to permit these properties to operate. Man's power over nature is therefore limited to the power of giving motion to matter, or of stopping or resisting motion in matter.

Now, to give motion or to resist motion is itself either a breach or a use of a law of nature, according as we express that law. The law is (as usually expressed), that matter at rest remains at rest till moved by a force, and that matter in motion continues in motion till stayed by a force. This is the law of inertia. If we consider that rest or motion when once established is the normal state of matter, then the force which causes a change causes a breach of the law of inertia. But if we consider that the liability to be moved, or to have motion stopped by force, is itself a property of matter, then the application of force with such result is merely calling into operation the law of inertia. It really does not signify which view we take, so long as we recognize that such are the facts. But since it is more familiar to associate rest with inertia, it will perhaps be most convenient and simple to consider rest and motion as the laws of matter, till the law is interfered with. Therefore in what follows we shall say that, when matter at rest is moved, or when matter in motion is stayed, or its movement by a natural force is prevented, a breach of the law of inertia is committed.

that it is more powerful in water than in air that he sails in iron ships; it is by knowing chemical affinity or repulsion that he makes the compounds or extracts the simple elements he desires; it is by knowing that affinity is force, and that force is transmutable into electricity, that he makes a messenger of the obedient lightning-shock; it is by knowing that heat, itself unknown, causes gases to expand, that he makes machines of senseless iron do the work of intelligent giants. He subdues nature by understanding nature. He creates no property; he therefore performs no miracle, though he does marvels.

By what means, then, does man bring one property, or law, into play instead of, or against, another? By one means only, that of changing the position of matter.

This is Bacon's aphorism ("Novum Organum," book i., 4): “Man contributes nothing to operations except the applying or withdrawing of natural bodies: Nature, internally, performs the rest."

In order to trace and recognize the truth of this fact, let us follow in rough and rapid outline the operations by which man effects his purposes. We will begin at the beginning, and suppose him to have only reached the stage when a knowledge of the effects of fire enables him to work with metals. He produces fire by friction—that is, by bringing one piece of wood to another, and rapidly moving the one on the other; or else by striking two flints on each other, which also is merely rapid motion and shock. He carries the wood to a hearth, he brings to it the lump of crude metal or the ore; he urges the fire by a blast of air-still his acts are only those of imparting motion. Then the fire acts on the metal, it excites some affinities and enfeebles other affinities, which result in removing impurities; it softens the purified metal. Then the workman lifts it on a stone, and by beating it with another stone-still motion-he moves its particles so that it assumes the form of a hammer, an axe, a chisel, or a file. Then by rubbing with a rough stone--still motion-he moves away some particles from the edge, and makes it sharp and fit for cutting. By plunging it in water when hot-still only motion-he tempers it to hardness. With the edge thus obtained, he cuts wood into the forms he requires for various purposes, and by degrees he learns how to fashion other pieces of metal into other and more elaborate tools. Yet all this is done by no other means than giving motion to the material on which, or by which, he works. From tools he advances to machines, by which his power of giving motion is increased, and as he learns more of the properties of matter he constructs engines, by which these properties work for him in the directions in which he

We come, then, to these propositions: I. That human power is utterly unable to break any law of matter except the law of inertia. 2. That when, by breaking only the law of inertia-i. e., by moving or by resisting the motion of matter -any operation is accomplished, no other law of matter is broken. 3. That to break the law of inertia by force, directed by will, is no inter

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