Page images

that taken from a mad dog; it produces rabies in a dog, when injected into its veins, in eight or ten days. By hanging in dry air for a fortnight this cord loses its virulence. But it has not yet been stated by Pasteur what are the indications that this virulence is lost, and whether the loss of virulence’ is in this case measured by an increase of incubation period. We have no information from Pasteur on this point. It would certainly seem that the virus of the dried rabbits' cords ought not to lose its short incubation period if it is to get beforehand, with the dog-bite virus, which has a period of five or six weeks. And presumably, therefore, there must be two distinct qualities in which the virus can vary: one, its incubation period, and the other its intensity of action, apart from time, but in reference to its actual capability or incapability of causing disease in this or that species of animal.

It is useless to speculate further on the subject at present. The secret is for the moment locked in Pasteur's brain. Had we in this country a State Laboratory or any public institution whatsoever in which research of the kind was provided for, the fundamental statements of Pasteur as to his results with dogs would ere this have been strictly tested with absolute independence and impartiality by English physiologists retained by the State to carry on continuously such inquiries. Similarly, we should have independent knowledge on the points above raised as to the modification of the virus in rabbits, and the public anxiety on the whole matter would be in a fair way towards being allayed. At the same time, in all probability similar treatment in regard to other diseases would ere this have been devised by “practical' English experimenters. As it is, owing to our repressive laws and the State neglect of scientific research, we have to remain entirely at the mercy of the distinguished men who are nurtured and equipped by the State agencies of our continental neighbours. All that we are in a position to say with regard to Pasteur's treatment of hydrophobia is, that unless the accounts which have been published in his name and by his assistants are not merely erroneous but wilful frauds of incredible wickedness, that treatment is likely to prove a success so extraordinary and so beneficent as to place its author in the first rank of men of genius of all ages. That is the position, and there is no reason why the former alternative should even for a moment be entertained.

3 The incubation period of five weeks ordinarily observed in the case of men bitten by rabid dogs may be due to the smallness of the dose, since Pasteur has shown that small doses of rabid virus give longer incubation periods than large doses. How far a dose of weakened virus can be made to attain the rapid action of strong virus, by increasing the quantity of the weaker virus injected, has not been stated by Pasteur.



THERE are probably no people in the world so sensitive to what is written about them as British colonists. This is not mere vanity or thinness of skin. There are good reasons for it, and they are rather honourable to colonists than otherwise. The people of these wonderful young countries, where the process of civilisation which occupied twelve centuries in England has been completely achieved in fifty years, are self-conscious, just as boys and girls are in whom the mental and physical powers are prematurely and exceptionally developed. They feel themselves the heirs of all the ages,' in a sense and in a degree which can scarcely be realised at all by the inhabitants of old, slow-growing lands. Themselves discerning and astonished by the almost miraculous success of colonisation, they imagine the nations of the earth are watching them with an interest and astonishment equal to their own.

Hence it is that when any famous writer undertakes to give the world an account of the Colonies from his own observation, all good colonists await the publication of his book with feverish impatience, and when it appears, each of them takes praise or blame as personal to himself, and is elated or depressed in proportion as his Colony is represented in a favourable or an unfavourable light. Mr. Bryce, a New Zealand colonist, has recently taken a voyage to England, and recovered 5,0001. damages from the author of a foolish and ponderous work called The History of New Zealand for an attack on him which he would never have noticed if the whole book had not been an attack on the Colony. Mr. Bryce has just returned, and the people are hastening everywhere to receive him with demonstrations of joy and gratitude, as one who has rendered a great public service.

Macaulay declared that the contemptuous manner in which the Americans were written about in England did more than wars or tariffs to alienate them ; and we Australasians are now at the same sensitive stage that they were at a hundred years ago; but we are beginning to get over it, for the reason that we are beginning to discover that famous writers often write great nonsense, and that it really does not matter two straws whether they think well or ill

Anthony Trollope was the first to awaken us to these two facts. We were terribly nervous about what he was going to put in his book, but when it came out we only got a little angry at first, then laughed at the silly parts, yawned over the dull parts, and soon forgot all about it. Since then we had been made to see ourselves through the eyes of famous writers of all sorts and sizes, and we had come to be very callous to the opinions of any of them.

of us.

of them. But a greater than these was at hand.

When it became known the year before last that James Anthony Froude was about to pay a visit to Australia and New Zealand for the express purpose of writing a book about them, we were more agitated than we should have been, I believe, by the advent of any other man. Froude-he is always called Froude here, just as we never speak of Mr. Carlyle or Mr. Shakespeare-is as well known and as highly honoured in the Colonies as he is at home. We are familiar with his histories, we admire his inimitable Cæsar, we marvelled at and deplored his Carlyle with as much interest as if we dwelt at the West End of London instead of in a village in Cook Strait. And when we heard he was coming, we said: "Ah, this is a very different sort of man from the others. Now at last we shall have a work on the Colonies which will be neither a dismal Blue-book nor a mass of slip-slop. Now at last a place in history will be given to the Colonies by one who has the ordering of those things.' He came, and he was treated like the sovereign prince of literature we had imagined him. The deference and hospitality, both public and private, which he met with everywhere fairly bewildered him.

If the Delphic oracle in person had made a tour of the Greek Colonies in the Mediterranean, the honours that were paid to Froude in Australasia could hardly have been exceeded. He spent just two months here, during which time he visited South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, and New Zealand. He then returned to England by the American route, and wrote Oceana. Before the book reached the Colonies we had received a note of warning that it contained some rather startling statements, and certain extracts from it which were soon afterwards published gave the impression that it was simply a hoax-a bad joke compared with which the Carlyle business was a trifle. We have now received the book, read it, re-read it, puzzled over it, discussed it, argued over it, sworn at it, and the only conclusion we can come to regarding it, is that how such a man as Mr. Froude can ever have written such a book as Oceana is one of those unfathomable mysteries which are destined never to be solved. It is certainly the worst book which has ever been written on these Colonies; which is the severest thing I can think of to say against it.

No man ever had such opportunities as Mr. Froude had to write a book about Australasia which would have been a valuable addition to history and an important acquisition to mankind. He came here at a most interesting time, at the very moment when the strength of the union of the Colonies to the Empire was put to the most convincing test. I happened to be travelling in Australia when he was there, and I had the privilege of spending some days in his charming and instructive society, as a guest of Sir Henry Loch, the Governor of Victoria. I believe I am the New Zealand Member of Council' mentioned at page 143 of Oceana. There is no such title as Member of Council known in these Colonies, by-the-bye; but that is nothing, except as a trilling instance of Mr. Froude's almost incredible inaccuracy. What I wished to say is, that I myself saw with great satisfaction how all the avenues of information were opened to the Oracle, and opened in such a way that any man of his capacity who had brought the right spirit to the work might have found through them with ease the materials for a book which would have gained for him the respectful gratitude of three millions of colonists, and exercised an influence for good on generations to come. The strangest thing is that Mr. Froude himself seems to have fully discerned all this. In the preface and the opening pages of Oceana he treats the task he had set himself as one of the gravest significance. It was his high and holy mission to solve the problem of Imperial Federation, to bring about the realisation of Sir James Harrington's dream of Oceana. Thousands of colonists have read his first chapter, so wise and true, so learned, so liberal, so splendidly eloquent, with breathless emotion, with a beating heart. Here is the greatest historian and the noblest prose writer of our age, deliberately applying himself to the beneficent object of interpreting the Colonies to the Mother Country in the language of eternal truth and in words of fire. But it never goes any further. The first chapter is an essay, a monograph. But the rest of the book—except the chapter on the Cape-bears no adequate relation to it whatsoever. It seems to have been written by another hand, at another time, for another purpose. It is like a wooden shanty, run up anyhow on foundations that had been laid for a mighty temple.

Mr. Froude takes not even one step from the sublime to the ridiculous. He places nothing but a leaf of paper between them. On one side, in Chapter I., we soar with him over continents and oceans, and through ages of time, in contemplation of the growth of empires and the mysterious destiny of nations. On the other side, in Chapter II., we are sickened by the twaddle of the cuddy of the s.s. - Australasian. Mr. Froude absolutely has no mercy on us.

If there is a bore on this earth, it is a man who will talk about the details of life on board ship. In these Colonies, where pretty nearly every one has made several sea voyages, that subject is strictly tabooed in all rational society. To dilate upon it is to betray a new chum'—what they call in Australia a “lime juice. Yet, will it be believed, about one-fourth of Oceana is occupied by the most trivial narrative of every-day occurrences on steamers, the sort of stuff that a hobbledehoy who has never been abroad before would write home to his little sisters. Mr. Froude tells us about his own state of health and his son's, about the advertisements of the packets, the passenger accommodation, the doctor and his pretty newly married wife, the cook, the breakfasts, dinners, luncheons, the bread, the porridge, the captain's "blue, merry eyes,' the construction of the engines, 'the wild cry of the sailors hauling ropes or delivering orders, and so on and so on, page after page, till we feel inclined to throw him overboard or jump overboard ourselves. Sudden death should be his portion who talks such rubbish in this enlightened and vivacious age ; but what should be done to him who solemnly writes it, prints it, publishes it! ‘But, it may be asked, “is it not very interesting to get the reflections of such a man as Mr. Froude on the wonders of the deep?' I reply that he seems never to have noticed any of the wonders of the deep, but to have given his attention wholly to the most commonplace human incidents. Whenever he does mention natural objects, his remarks upon them are absurd. For instance, he says the Mother Carey's chicken is a kind of gull. I thought every child knew it is a kind of petrel, the stormy petrel.

But let us get Mr. Froude ashore, and see how he fares there. I pass over his chapters on the Cape Colony, for these reasons. They have nothing to do with the main subject of the book, consisting as they do of an examination of the affairs of an inland country and foreign peoples. They are manifestly written with knowledge and from materials gained many years before this book was projected. Finally, my criticisms on the book generally have no application to them, which are written as the rest of the book ought to have been written—that is to say, with care and thought and a due sense of responsibility. They contain the most lucid and serviceable discussion of the South African question that I have met with, and published separately would form a valuable text-book or State paper. But they are quite out of place in Oceana, though I admit they are the best thing in it.

Mr. Froude knows all about the Cape. He never took the smallest trouble to learn anything about Australasia. He arrived at Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, on the 18th of January, 1885, and stayed there one day; and as his description of it is typical of his whole book, I will examine it somewhat in detail. His chapter on South Australia only occupies ten pages. Yet he contrives to compress so many inaccuracies and even gross misstatements into that space, that it is difficult to believe he ever really went there at all. He says, 'the broad Murray falls into the sea at no great distance to the westward.' The Murray reaches the sea sixty miles to the eastward of Adelaide, and when Mr. Froude was there its mouth had been blocked by sand for two months. Describing Port Adelaide, he says the harbour was full of ships : great steamers,

« PreviousContinue »