« AnteriorContinuar »
eavenly bodies exerted fluence upon terrestrial d proceeded to dogmarely imaginary grounds. no shame in being ighe fact, which Copernicus led, that the earth is of the heavenly bodies; slur on Bacon's intellecng that he lent credence stem under which the rbitrarily named after en gods, were invested human attributes which es personified, and varited the course of lives , according to the varyective in which they when viewed from the is true that the belief memorial standing, and for casting horoscopes ramed by writers of the udition. But were not very circumstances that ve put Bacon on his Did he not himself dethority, custom, popular nd the pride of supposed as the fourfold root of
- he make matters any the limitation which he power of the stars over ewill. In the 'Opus explains the difference himself and those ashom he derides as false cians; for whereas they all mundane events direct result of certain ns of the heavenly acon insisted that the though powerful, and ng human beings to cerof conduct, good or evil cident or mode of death,
was yet capable of being modified or overcome by resolute will and sagacious precautions. According to this scheme, a man born under the influence of the planet Mercury would be predisposed to baldness, but might avert that inconvenience by using the proper hair-wash. It does not require very deep insight into the modern system of reasoning to recognise in Bacon's treatment of astrology an autocratic dogmatism no whit less baseless than that of his opponents. No greater fallacy lies in the original assertion of sidereal influence than in the arbitrary limitation thereof.
Howbeit, if Roger Bacon must be blamed for yielding assent to an almost universal belief, the later and greater Bacon cannot be absolved from betraying his own philosophy in a similar way; for if he did not greatly encourage the study of judicial astrology and the doctrihe of portents, he quotes some of the phenomena, without condemning the system.
Popular tradition has attributed many discoveries to "Friar Bacon” to which in truth he could have no claim. In the 'De Mirabili Potestate' he imparts the secret of imitating thunder and lightning by means of a mixture of saltpetre, charcoal, and sulphur, whence the legend of his invention of gunpowder. But he himself mentions in the 'Opus Majus' how children of various countries made squibs of this material, which was well known long before his day. Bacon has also been credited with the invention of spectacles; but M. Charles traces this to his use of a reading-glass, which, being flat on
tt's Introduction to 'Guy Mannering,' where this doctrine is explained rologer. "The influence of the constellations is powerful; but He he heavens is more powerful than all, if His aid be invoked in sincerity
one side and convex on the other, was laid on the written page and facilitated reading by magnifying the text. Although the first spectacles were made towards the close of the thirteenth century, there is no evidence that Bacon was their inventor. He undoubtedly knew the use of the lens, but Layard found a convex lens of rock-crystal in the ruins of Nimrod's palace; and Cuvier, in attributing to Bacon the invention of the microscope, was unable to show that he understood how to apply a combination of lenses.
But, partly by experiment and partly by availing himself of the researches of the Arabian Alhazen, Bacon undoubtedly carried the science of optics to a point beyond which it did not rise till the days of Kepler. He frankly owned what he had borrowed from the Eastern sage, which is just what Vitellion, a contemporary Polish savant, did not do, thereby gaining renown to which he was not entitled.
It has been commonly said of Roger Bacon that he lived three centuries before his time, but this is an observation founded on a misconception of human progress. None can say what he might have accomplished in direct invention and discovery had he not been hampered by ecclesiastical authority, and deprived, during the best years of his life, of the means of carrying out experiments. The
part of his mission which he performed was to detect fallacies in accepted systems, and clear the way for workers in a happier age. Error had been accumulating in Europe through all the centuries following the fall of the Roman Empire. It lay deep as volcanic ash on buried Pompeii on every subject of human inquiry; and, if the truth were to be brought to light, some one must be found with hardihood to break the crust. Such pioneers are only too likely to meet a martyr's fate. Bacon's career, weighed as that of an individual, may be reckoned a failure, but only inasmuch as he failed to convince the world of the falsity of its system of learning. Regarded in its true light as an episode in the advance of knowledge, it must be deemed part of the mighty movement, destined in the lapse of years to overthrow the whole fabric of medieval scholasticism. The gospel he proclaimed fell as seed by the wayside; the clue which he uncovered seemed to slip unheeded from his dying hand: but still, the seed had been sown, the clue had been found, and it is to the despised Franciscan friar that the glory is due of having been the protomartyr of the new learning, at once the knell of dogma and the réveille of free inquiry. Roger Bacon was the first Englishman to claim freedom for human intellect and proclaim its scope.
WHO WAS LOST AND IS FOUND.-CONCLUSION.
How this night passed over, this dreadful night, under the once peaceful roof of the Hewan, was never known. It must have been dawn, though it seemed to her so dark, when Mrs Ogilvy dropped on her knees by the dining-room door-and how she got to her own room she did not know. She came to herself with the brilliant summer morning pervading all things, her room full of light, her body full of pain, her mind, as soon as she was conscious, coming back with a dull spring to the knowledge of catastrophe and disaster, though for the first moment she could not tell what it was. She was lying upon her bed fully dressed, her white shawl, which she had been wearing last night, flung, all crumpled, upon the floor, but nothing else changed. A thicker shawl had been thrown over her.
Who was it that had carried her up-stairs? This became an awful question as her mind grew clearer. Who was it? who was it the victor-perhaps the survivor- She was aching from head to foot, feeling as if her bones were broken, and she could never stand on her feet again; but when this thought entered her mind she sprang up from her bed like a young girl. The survivor!-perhaps Robbie, Robbie, her once innocent boy, with the stain of blood on his hands: perhapsMrs Ogilvy snatched at the shawl on the floor, which looked almost as if something dead might lie hidden under it, and wrapped herself in it, not knowing why, and stole downstairs in the brightness of that early morning before even Janet was stirring. She hur
ried into the dining-room, from which she had been shut out only a few hours ago, with her heart leaping in her throat, not knowing what awful scene she might see. But there was nothing there. A chair had been knocked down, and lay in the middle of the floor in a sort of grotesque helplessness, as if in mockery of the mother's fears. Nothing else. She stood for a moment, rendered weak again by sudden relief, asking herself if that awful vision of the night had been merely a dream, until suddenly a little heap of torn paper flung upon the ornaments in the grate brought it back again so vividly that all her fears awoke once more. Then she stole away again to the bedrooms, in which, if all was well, they should be lying asleep. There was no sound from Robbie's, or she could hear none from the beating of her heart. She stole in very softly, as she had not ventured to do since the first morning after his return. There he lay, one arm over his head like a child, breathing that soft breath of absolute rest which is almost inaudible, so deep and so quiet. What fountains of love and tenderness burst forth in the old mother's breast, softening it, healing it, filling its dryness with heavenly dew! Oh, Robbie, God bless him! God bless him! who at the last had stood for his motherwho would not let her be hurtwho would rather lose everything. And she had perhaps been hard upon him! There was no blood on the hand of one who slept like that. She went to the other door and listened there, with her heart lightened; and the breathing there
was not inaudible. She retired to her own room almost with a smile on her face.
When Mrs Ogilvy came into the room in which the two young men awaited her for the only meal they shared, the early dinner, she was startled to see a person who seemed a stranger to her in Lew's place. He wore Lew's clothes, and spoke with Lew's voice, but seemed another man. He turned to Robert as she drew back bewildered, and burst into a laugh. "There's a triumph for me-she doesn't know me," he said. Then he approached her with a deprecating look. "I am the man that was so rude to you last night. Forget there was ever such a person. You see I have thrown off all semblance of him." He spoke gravely and with a sort of dignity, standing in the same place in which Mrs Ogilvy remembered in a flash of sudden vision he had almost shaken the life out of her last night, glaring at her with murderous eyes. There was a gleam in them still which was not reassuring; but his aspect was everything that was penitent and respectful. The change in his appearance was made by the removal of the beard which had covered his face. He had suddenly grown many degrees lighter in colour, it seemed, by the removal of that forest of dark hair; and the man had beautiful features, a fine mouth, that rare beauty either in man or woman. His expression had always been good-humoured and agreeable. It was more so, a look in which there seemed no guile, but for that newly awakened tigerish expression in his eyes. Mrs Ogilvy felt a thrill of terror such as had not moved her through all the horrors of the previous night, when Robbie for a moment left the room. She felt that the handsome smiling man before her would have strangled her
without a moment's hesitation had there been any possibility of getting the money for which he had struggled in another way, in what was for her fortunately the only possible way. She felt his grip upon her shoulders, and a shiver ran through her in spite of herself. She could not help a glance towards the door, where, indeed, Janet was at the moment about to come in, pushing it open before her. There was no danger to-day, with everybody about; but another nightwho could tell?
When the dinner was over, Lew addressed her again. "This," he said, putting up his hand to his chin, "is my toilette de voyage. You are going to be free of us soon. We shall make no flourish of trumpets, but go suddenly as we
and it shan't be, too late. I don't admit the possibility-so long as your mother, to whom we behaved so badly last night"
"You," Mrs Ogilvy breathed forth in spite of herself.
"Oh, he was in it just as much as I was," said the other, lightly; "but he's a canny Scot, Bob; he knows when to stop. I, when I am in a good way, don't."
There was a savage meaning in the lightness of this speech and the smile that accompanied it. Mrs Ogilvy, terrified, felt herself again shaking like a leaf, like a rag in these tremendous hands. And Robbie, who only knew when to stop-oh, no, no-oh, no, noshe would not believe that: though he had stood still long and looked
"You shall see that I will keep my word," she said, and hurried out of the room to fetch the money which she had brought from Edin
burgh with so many precautions. She who had been above all fear felt it now penetrating to her very soul. She locked her door when she went into her room, a precaution she had probably never taken n her life before. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror as she passed, and saw that her countenance was blanched, and her eyes vide with fright. Two men, peraps-at least one in the fulness of his strength-and she such a ittle old feeble woman. Had the money she possessed been more easily got at, she knew that she would have had short shrift. And, ndeed, if he killed her, there would have been no need of makng her sign anything first. It would all go to Robbie naturallyprovided she could be sure that Robbie would be free of any share of the guilt. Oh, he would be ree! he would not stand by and see her ill-used-he had not been ble to bear it last night. Robbie would stand by her whatever happened. But her bosom panted and her heart beat in her very throat. She had to go down again into the oom where red murder was in the houghts of one, and perhaps-God orbid it! God forbid it! Oh, no, no, no !—it was not in nature: not on his mother, not on any one to ill or hurt would Robbie ever lay hand.
She went down-stairs after a very hort interval, and as she reached he dining-room door heard the oice of Lew talking to Janet in he most genial tones. He was so heerful, so friendly, that it was a leasure to hear so pleasant a voice; nd Robbie, very silent behind acks, was altogether eclipsed by is friend, although to Janet too hat often sullen Robbie was "my in laddie," dear in spite of all. But there was no drawback in her pinion of Mr Lewis, as she called
him,-"Aye canty and pleasant, aye with a good word in his head; no pride about him; just as pleasant with me as if I were the Duchess hersel'." She held up her hands in expressive horror as she met her mistress at the door. "He carries it off wi' his pleasant ways; but oh, he has just made an objeck of himself," Janet said.
Mrs Ogilvy went in, feeling as if she were going to her doom. She took her little packet to the table, and put it down before him. The room was filled with clouds of smoke; and that bottle, which was so great a trial to her, stood on the table: but these details had sunk into absolute insignificance. She had taken the trouble to get the money in English notes and gold
the latter an unusual sight in the Hewan, where one-pound notes were the circulating medium. In the tremor of her nerves and commotion of her feelings she had added twenty pounds which were in the house, of what she called "her own money," the money for the housekeeping, to the sum which she had told him was to be for him. It was thus a hundred and fifty pounds which she put before him-hastily laying it down as if it burned her, and yet with a certain reluctance too.
"Ah!" he said, and threw a look across the table to Robbie; another twenty pounds-and more where that came from, mother, eh?"
"I have no more-not a farthing," she said, hastily; "this was my money for my house. I thought I would add it to the other: since you were not pleased-last night."
It was evidently an unfortunate movement on her part. "You will perhaps find some more still," he said, with a laugh, "before this night. It's not very much for two, and one your only son; but there