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in its own channels, and cannot be forced into rills that will irrigate every garden, by any force of State: and that destruction and waste never can mend or heal. All these are blank to a great many people, who know very well how to write and to read, but who read only the productions of people as ignorant as themselves, and who think with them that governments can do whatever they please, and that happiness is in the gift of the State. They know well that wood cannot do the work of iron, or bricks stand without mortar, which are things of which knowledge comes by practice; but not that the rich man has as great a right to the protection of the law as the poor man, or that human nature had already gone through a prodigious circle of experiments and experiences before this present generation began.

Who shall teach us to understand these things? The result is often not very encouraging. The thing that hath been is that that shall be. The world rolls round in morals as in physics, one circle going after another, one force now in the ascendant, now another, but all rolling to a similar balance, doing and undoing. It is the very character and specialty of this mysterious world that nothing is complete in it, nothing permanent, everything to be done over and over again, and those convulsions which seem to rend earth and heaven asunder continually pieced up again, making on the whole but little difference, though everybody engaged in them believed that they were to change the face of the universe. It is not a hopeful point of view: perhaps in some ways, after all, ignorance is best.

But it is unpleasant to reflect how rampant ignorance is in our

enlightened days.

Fin de siècle,

and most of us so clever that we don't know how to bear ourselves "I am so seeck, I am so clevare," as the famous scene-painter was reported to say: and yet Ignorance almost in possession, almost king of the world, and only that unthinking, stupid thing a bullet, as people say, between us and destruction. The story in the papers, how those shots at Featherstone saved a whole countryside from rapine and destruction, is too dreadful to think of. We hope it is not true. But it is evident that a volley or two saved the situation at Chicago. One brute force must be confronted with another as long as the world wags on.

Speaking of France, however, which the Looker-on turns to with a sigh of relief, feeling himself able there to comment at his ease, irresponsible and involved in nothing, it is very curious to see how the late and indeed existing wave of Bonapartism which has swept over the country should be dropping away without even the ghost of a result. Everybody now who knows anything about French literature or art must have remarked this strange revival— produced by nothing that we know of,

except some caprice of the national mind. Taine not a generation, scarcely half a generation ago, and other philosophers, did their best to quench even the tradition of Napoleon, that legend of genius and glory, from the mind of their country-an unpatriotic effort, we think. Perhaps it is in the revulsion of these cold teachings that there has rushed back into the press such countless details not only about the great Emperor, but him also whom it was once the highest chic to call Napoleon le Petit. Perhaps it was the terrible and tragic sketch of

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the last Bonaparte in the Débâcle, a picture so hotly contested, and proved, we think, in its details to be untrue, but revealing such a depth of hopeless anguish in the unfortunate man, who had himself powdered and painted, not to show the misery of his countenance to his soldiers, and rode with them like a wooden image stupefied with suffering which helped to produce the revulsion in his favour. We almost wish it had been true; for, though paint and powder are not heroic, that triste and silent figure, all sham without, all pain and anguish within, is as deeply impressive as anything we know. But whatever the reason is, there can be no doubt as to the fact. French papers, French magazines, have been for a year back runningover with Napoleon,-sometimes he of Austerlitz and Wagram, of Moscow and Waterloo; sometimes he of Ham and of Sedan, unroyal memories. Private reminiscences, diaries, letters, of people worth listening to and of people not worth listening to, have sent a wave of sympathy through France, even for the last days of that Empire which brought her so little glory, for the awful suspense of Fontainebleau and St Cloud which the downfall of Sedan threw into despair. The strange thing is that

this wonderful spontaneous (apparently) wave of public emotion seems to be passing away without even an effort to take advantage of it. "In France everything is possible to youth," said Count de Montalembert, speaking of that Prince, then a child, who perished (under our care, as we must always reflect with a pang) among the Zulus. There are young princes of the blood now, and they have never even tried to make a clutch at the reins,-never an attempt, however desperate, to make it apparent that there were still heirs to the Napoleons. The adventure at Ham was but a sorry business, and all the world laughed at itbut it was the first step to an unthought of, incredibly unlikely, but for a long time to all appearance tolerably stable throne. The youths of the family do not seem to have even that amount of courage and enterprise now. One respectable President has succeeded another without an émeute or a cry. We have fallen upon an age of mediocrities, and parmi les aveugles le borgne est roi.

We wonder what other strange things the Looker-on may have to witness and to record as the year passes on. Let us hope he will have nothing more to do than to chronicle small-beer.

Printed by William Blackwood and Sons.

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SUCH was the description-"this damnable country"-given of Ireland, now many generations ago, by an English statesman to his superiors in London concerning the land he had been sent awhile to administer; and the same phrase, or the same sentiment in different words, has been re-echoed hundreds of times since, by politicians and non-politicians on each side of the Channel, respecting the island "lying a-loose," as Campion the historian in the reign of Elizabeth has it, "on the west ocean." That damnable country! Far be it from me to add the very smallest stone to the colossal cairn of controversy that has recently been raised over the Irish Question. I went to Ireland-I am ashamed to say, for the first time-this spring, and I returned from it with the feeling that it is anything rather than damnable. Indeed, I sometimes find myself almost wishing that the intervening seasons would


pass, that it might again be May, and I might anew be gathering thrift amid the landward-flying foam of Loop Head, listening to the missel-thrushes shrilling in the gardens of Tourin or the woods of Dromana, watching the smiles and tears of fair fitful Killarney, losing myself in the gorse-covered clefts of matchless Glengariff, or dazzled and almost blinded by the boundless bluebell woods of Abbey Leix. I do not willingly allow that Ireland is lovelier still than England, but it is. One has said with Æneas, only too often, when Spring came round, Italiam petimus? Yet are not Bantry Bay and Clon-Mac-Nois as beautiful, and as hallowed by the past, even as the Gulf of Spezia and the cyclopean walls of Sora? But then I went to Ireland, not in the pursuit of angry polemics, to which I feel I can add nothing new, but in search of natural beauty and human kindliness.


Nowhere have I ever met with more of either.

First impressions are a sort of premonitory experience; and as the sun sank lower in a cloudless sky over a surgeless sea, I could not gaze on the tender sinuosities of the Wicklow Mountains, or turn to the Hill of Howth, Ireland's Eye, and the more distant Lambay Island, without a sense of rising gladness that I was at last to set foot on a land that greets one with so fair and feminine a face.


The most indulgent imagination could hardly cast a halo over the unloveliness of Dublin; and not even the most gracious and agreeable hospitality could make regret prevail over anticipation as I turned my face westward. But the gorse, the pastures, and the streams of Kildare would have made me forget the most attractive of cities, though I was well aware I was passing through perhaps the least beautiful part of Ireland. A couple of mornings later I was driving on an outside car, balanced on the other side by a congenial companion, towards Athlone, where we were to take train for the coast of Clare. The driver assured us that he could easily traverse the distance in an hour and twenty minutes, so I gave him an hour and forty. I had quite forgotten, in the exhilaration of a new experience, that accuracy is not a Celtic gift, and that time is computed long or short, according as it is thought you wish it to be the one or the other. Moreover, the Irish mile is a fine source of confusion when distances are computed. In one county a mile means a statute mile, in another it means an Irish mile; and though you may recollect that it takes fourteen of the first to make eleven of the second, it does not at all follow that your local conductor

will do so. My companion, who knew something of the road, suddenly asked me from under her umbrella (for it was raining in the most approved Irish manner) what time it was, and on getting her answer, she rejoined we had still three miles to cover, and only eighteen minutes to do it in. The wish to oblige, and native hopefulness of temperament, made the driver exclaim, "Oh, we'll do it!" and straightway he imparted to his horse an alertness of which I should not have thought it capable. Watch in hand, I saw us trot through the streets of Athlone at a rattling pace, and we had both made up our minds that the train was caught. But again that curious vagueness of mind and happy-go-lucky indiscipline of character came into play; and though we really were just in time, he drove past the entrance to the station, and did not discover his mistake till too late. It then turned out that he had never been to Athlone before, and had not the faintest notion where the station was. I have observed that most travellers in such circumstance fume, fret, and objurgate. We laughed consumedly, though we were well aware that Athlone is scarcely a place in which to spend several hours pleasantly, and that now, instead of arriving at Kilkee at half-past three, we could not get there till after nine. Perhaps our good-humour was due in some measure to the fact that, some three miles away, was a house where we knew we could consume the inevitable interval agreeably enough; and we were soon making for it. But Irish hospitality does not understand the mere "looking-in-on-us" which satisfies so many English people; and we were bidden, indeed irresistibly commanded, to pass the

night with the hosts we had thus surprised. We were amply repaid, in more ways than one, for our equanimity; for the next day was as fine as the previous one had been morose, and so we started on our wanderings in search of striking scenery, in sunshine instead of in storm.

I am told Kilkee is "a fashionable watering - place." Happily watering-places and fashion mean something different on the west coast of Ireland from what they signify on the south coast of Britain, or one need scarcely have bent one's steps towards Kilkee even in order to see Loop Head and the Cliffs of Moher. Even at the height of its season, for I suppose it has one, Kilkee must be what those who resort to Eastbourne or Bournemouth would call a very dull little place. You can get out of any part of it in two or three minutes, to find yourself on the undenizened cliffs that form the westernmost barrier between this Realm and the Atlantic. If there were any strangers in the place in the early days of May save ourselves, I did not observe them. We were the sole occupants of a large, old-fashioned, and quite comfortable enough inn, which the local taste for highsounding words would probably wish one to call a hotel. It takes its name from Moore's Bay on which it stands. You observe by various little indications that the standard of comfort, convenience, and refinement is lower by a few inches than in England; but why should it not be? I pity the people who travel through the world with their own weights and measures, their own hard-and-fast rule of how things should look, and how they should be done. If you have to sit with the door open because, should you not do so, the


smoke and dust of the turf fire would be blown all over the house, is that such a hardship to folks who have got nothing to do but to be pleasant and enjoy themselves? If the green Atlantic water, the blackly towering cliffs, the vast expanse of rising and rolling emerald down, the soft insinuating air, and the sense of freedom and "awayness," do not compensate you for the lack of hot water in your sleeping chamber and for a certain friendly irregularity in the service, go not to Clare or Galway, but follow your own trite footsteps to Brighton, Nice, or Cannes. We for our part thought Kilkee, its lean chickens, its imperfect sodabread, and its lack of vegetables (all, of course, save the national potato) absolutely delightful. How the winds must blow and bellow sometimes, and the waves and plunge and toss their irongray manes along and over that crenelated coast! The word "over" is no figure of speech, for there are times when the foam is flung, by waves indignant at the first check they have met with for two thousand miles, high over the foreheads of the loftiest crags and far inland on to the stunted grass of the gray-green downs. There is a peculiar pleasure in watching how gentle the strong can be, how strong the gentle; and when we got to Kilkee, there seemed at first almost a caressing touch in the dimpling green water, as though it had the soothing stroke of a soft and velvety hand. as we pushed on to the bolder bluffs and towards the open sea, even on that comparatively windless May sundown, the waves, when challenged or interfered with, waxed black and angry, swirled round and round in great sinuous troughs and coils, and then rushed and raced with imperative fury


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