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represent a snake biting a tor sinews. This is also the only toise's head. The modern Mexi instrument of the Laplanders can occasionally gives a Christian and Greenlanders, who frequently character to his guitar by decorat- make it of the skin of a whale's ing the face of it with a cross, a tongue, stretched over a circle of chalice, and a paten.
whalebone, and held by a whaleThe drum and rattle figure bone handle, while the Greenequally prominently among the lander sings of the seal-hunt, of treasures of the Alaskan Indians, the great deeds of his ancestors, the rattles being generally carved or of the joy of welcoming the to represent some animal, such as long - absent sun; and the bya frog, a kingfisher, an owl, or a standers croon a sort of running dead man with protruding tongue. accompaniment in low underSome represent the “spirit of the tones. drowned,” which is a nondescript Of such a subject it is difficult creature, something between to give any just idea without the man and an otter, who cannot numerous illustrations by which sing but only whistles, and is al- Mr Brown has made the subject so ways playing tricks on mortals.
very clear, and which include drawThe Eskimos on the north coast ings of many rare and curious of Alaska have no instrument musical instruments of Europe, except a drum, made of a circle of France, Germany, Russia, Greece, wood, over which is stretched a Italy, Spain, and Madeira. head of skin, lashed with braided
C. F. GORDON CUMMING.
'Tis very commonly said (per- the guard of a mail - coach," he haps no assertion is less likely to evidently thought he was trespassbe disputed) that the age of mir. ing beyond the verge of probabilacles is past; yet the stateinentity; yet in a few months from will hardly bear analysis, unless now these echoes will resound to the word “ miracle” is used only in the clatter and roar of express a secondary and special sense. Dr trains, devouring the ground at Johnson defines it as a wonder, the rate of fifty miles an hour. an event contrary to the laws of Could Sir Walter see this, what nature”; but Professor Skeat, i could he clo but exclaim with later and stricter etymologist, only one of his own creatures, “Progives "a wonder, a prodigy "; and digious”? To him it would apon turning to find his interpreta- pear a miracle. tion of "prodigy," lo! he can only But, considered explain it as "a portent, a won achievement of human ingenuity der.” Now, if a miracle is nothing and perseverance applying natural more than something astonishing, forces, it would not be miraculous something to excite wonder, surely in the special sense of the term. the age of miracles is in full swing; A genuine miracle must be an act surprises lie in wait for us round
or process transcending and indethe corner of each new almanac. pendent of all natural law On the other hand, if we adopt Dr impossibility, in fact. For inJohnson's alternative interpreta- stance, there never was a time tion, the proposition is as unstable when the Irishman's aspiration to as ever, for the Doctor himself be in two places at once,“ like a would assuredly have considered bird,” could be fulfilled, for that that to travel from London to would violate what we must reEdinburgh in eight hours would be cognise as a law which no sane “contrary to the laws of nature." person would spend a single hour During the whole history of the in studying to evade, that no world, up to his time, the fastest single body can simultaneously locomotion on land had been by occupy more than one ubi. There means of horses yoked to wheeled are doubtless laws in nature of vehicles ; imagination failed to which we know nothing, and theresurmise anything beyond what fore have not yet recognised ; feats could be accomplished by the performed by means of these laws fleetest animals harnessed to the may seem to us miracles, but we most perfect chariot. Sir Walter have no right to call them superScott was not deficient in imagina- natural because we cannot trace tion, but one has only to turn to the action of the law. the opening paragraphs of the There is no irreverence to Scrip"Ileart of Mid-Lothian' to recog- ture involved in this assertion. nise the author's conviction that We see through a glass darkly; travelling had been brought to we know in part. The Lawgiver perfection. When he wrote, “Per- reveals llimself to us by the haps the echoes of Ben Nevis may action of llis own laws, by us soon be awakened by the bugle, imperfectly understood; that acnot of a warlike chieftain, but of tion has in past times transcended
or evaded the observation of those blindfold than heretofore? Conwho witnessed certain events which sider, for instance, the precautions we class as miracles, just as the taken for the physical development possibility of travelling sixty miles of the human race. It is possible an hour transcended the imagina- that in after-ages our posterity tion of Sir Walter Scott, and just will look back with amazement to as the nature of the electric cur the nineteenth century, when peorent has hitherto eraded definition ple in the van of civilisation freely by men of science : each of these devoted mind and means to develphenomena are miracles in the oping the most capable strains of sense that they justly excite our domestic animals, and were conwonder, but not in the sense that tent to leave the perpetuation they are supernatural. The firmer of their own species to utterly a man's faith in the unseen, the random haphazard. The mighty firmer must be his conviction that Clydesdale dray - horse, the racer although there are many things with lungs and legs enabling him superhuman, there is nothing to outstrip the hurricane, and supernatural. It is a redundant the shaggy little Shetland, are adjective; everything that exists members of identically the same is natural, for nature is omni- species : in the two first, qualities present, and by its laws everything latent in the original animal have that is unnatural ceases to exist. been developed by thoughtful seThe most striking miracle that can lection of parents, and in the last take place—the restoration of the have had to manifest themselves dead to life—is not one whit more only in the degree permitted by miraculous or beyond our powers
an inclement climate and scanty than the origin of life itself or the food. Were the same discretion circulation of the blood. So long, and control exercised in the pretherefore, as there remain liminaries of human matrimony, fathomed mysteries such as these, instead of leaving them all to the so long the age of miracles en- guidance of a proverbially blind dures.
little god or the calculations of Looking back along the road mercenary prudence, what physical travelled by human beings in what and intellectual miracles might not we conceitedly call the March of follow! Each succeeding generaCivilisation, what a blundering, tion might excel the last in symcrooked track it is ! how much metry, beauty of countenance, the shorter the journey might have use of all the senses duly balanced been made ! How deeply the by intellectual qualities. Gentleground is trampled where fre men there might then be — not quent conflicts have taken place! classified as such on account of how many mighty barriers thrown their balance at the banker's or across it by lawgivers, ecclesiastics, the superficial trick of caste, but warriors, may still be traced by because they would be gentle in the their crumbling ruins. “ That strict sense—i.e., men of birthwhich we call progress,” observes till in time a mongrel would be as Mr Leslie Stephen, “is for the out of place in human society as it most part a process of finding the is now in a pack of fox-hounds. right path by tumbling into every Disappointment, of course, might ditch on each side of the way.” be expected in the earlier stages Can it be claimed that our course of the system. The offspring of even now is less staggering and an alliance carefully selected to
in this paper.
produce a race of coal - heavers either side and half the feet."i The might conceive an invincible de- Tonga Islanders are a long way sire to become a Court florist, or further on, for they not only can one destined to excel as a musician count up to 100,000, but have be possessed with an unreasonable given proof of a highly developed impulse to be a member of Parlia sense of humour.
They got bored ment; but firm and scientific ad- by the French explorer Labillarministration might be relied on dière, who “pressed them further, to eradicate these eccentricities in and obtained numerals up to 1000 time. Some people may be dis- billions, which were duly printed, posed to think the present (or- but proved on later examination ernment have allowed a great to be partly nonsense words and opportunity to co past when they partly indelicate expressions ; so constituted a Ministry of Agricul- that the supposed series of high ture by Act of Parliament, instead numerals forms at once a little of setting up a Ministry of Matri- vocabulary of Tonga indecency, mony. However, this is a hazard- and a warning as to the probable ous subject : it is rather of what results of taking down unchecked Civilisation has done for us than answers from question - worried of what it might have done, or savages." may do, that it is intended to treat Think what a vast interval of
education a mind in this primitive To resume the metaphor of a state has to traverse before it can march (for which I am in no de- apprehend the bare existence of gree responsible)-one looking back the legion numerals handled by over the line of it may descry in mathematicians, let alone handling the distance certain races that them himself. Talk of miracles ! seem hardly yet to have started, Ierein is one far worthier of and he is perhaps puzzled to ac wonder than the Indian juggler's count for their laugardness. Arith- magic mango, that the dwarfish inmetic is the simplest of the three tellect whose reckoning power fails R's, as well as the most inelis- to apprehend definitely more than pensable in anything like busi we two”—everything over that ness, yet there are primitive races being an unnumbered crowd-can whose language fails to cletine any be trained to grasp even the eleproportion beyond duality. Some mentary measurements of science, of the Australasian tribes reckon such as that of the velocity of up to two and no further--every- light, and, thus trained, comprething beyond that being comprised hend the magnitude involved in in a word meaning "plenty.” The the fact that the rays which left West Australians have advanced the star Aldebaran Beta 50,000 a little further, and by means of years ago are only just reaching counting their fingers and toes, the earth now, though they have and in the higher standards) been travelling hither through the other people's fingers and toes, intervening space at the rate of may be considered quite really 180,000 miles a second ever since. reckoners. One of these, wishing To cause the warm blood to course to express
" fifteen,” would say, again through dead veins, or to “ Jarh-jin-belli-belli-guuljir-jina- change water into wine, are more bang-ga”—that is,
sudden, but scarcely more wonder
i Primitive Culture, by Professor E. Tylor, vol. i. chap. vii.
stirring feats than wakening the -no answers." We are prone to dormant faculties of the mind or assume that the
age of correspondturning ignorance into knowledge. ence, like that of miracles, has
Ages ago a Phænician mer- passed away; if that is so, it has chant, ingenious beyond his fel- happened through our own neglect. lows, and overwhelmed by the in- Letters are but written conversacreasing multitude and complexity tion : bright, natural conversation of his transactions, devised a series is the outward and visible sign of of symbols by means of which, friendship, and bright, natural scratched on tablets of baked clay, letters are as delightful and as he was enabled to exchange infor- highly valued as ever -only we mation with traders at a distance. are too lazy to write them. Yet “Behold how great a matter a what loads of leisure some people little fire kindleth !”
What a have ! How few of the young blaze of illumination may be men (young women must be credtraced to that uncertain spark! ited with plenty of industry in A faculty took its birth therefrom, correspondence) who loll away second only in importance to rainy hours in country houses over articulate speech. Hitherto in the pages of sporting and society tercourse in absence had been as papers ever think of taking up a impossible as it is now for a man pen to exchange thoughts with disto be simultaneously in more than tant friends! Let us pry into the one place. Henceforth distance in correspondence of a member of space and time were alike set at this enviable class, taking care to naught; the wall of Pyramus was fix on one who is heart-whole, unpenetrated; the king's sign-manual trammelled by engagement with commanded obeisance in the utter- any fair—for, of course, the mind most parts of his realm ; lovers' of the enamoured male is abnorflames were fanned even when mally active, and drives the quill their whispers were hushed by far and fast. distance; and, marvel of marvels, It is perhaps the afternoon of men being dead yet spoke in their Sunday, often a period of self-reown words to countless unborn proach by reason of the seductions generations. A man must be in of luncheon all too generous. The love—a woman must be a mother golden youth rises from before the -before either can realise the full fire, yawns, stretches himself, and, value of letters. There are some asking his host what time the post who never find themselves in either goes out, straddles off to the smokof these conditions—to whom per- ing-room, observing that he has a haps correspondence has been so lot of letters to write. This young watered down by frequency and gentleman has received an educaby the added importunity of tele- tion costly beyond the wildest grams that they have come to look dreams of the medieval student: on the post-bag as an irksome in- he is one on whom thousands of cident, like shaving. And all of pounds have been lavished to give us (lovers and mothers excepted, him the standing of a scholar; he bien entendu) have suffered indo- has means enough to make him lence to interfere with intercourse absolute disposer of his own time, by letter. Lord Byron wrote let- and is of such station in life where ters not amiss, yet even he willing- a considerable degree of mental ly shirked putting pen to paper. culture may be expected. Here " No letters to-day,” he notes in are surely the head and the hand his journal ; “so much the better to bring the Phænician's invention