Part 5 out of 5
this new edition is a new book, and we shall treat it as such. We have
as yet a reprint of Part I. only, but we trust the publishers will soon
give us the other,--"The Practice of Morals,"--which, if less valuable
than this, is still so much better than most works of its kind as to
demand a republication.
The author--a woman--(for, to the shame of our _virile secus_ be it
said, a woman has written the best popular treatise on Ethics in the
language)--divides her First Part into four chapters:--
I. What Is the Moral Law?
II. Where the Moral Law is found.
III. That the Moral Law can be obeyed.
IV. Why the Moral Law should be obeyed.
This, as will be seen, is an exhaustive analysis. To the great question
of the first chapter, after a full discussion, she gives this answer:--
"The Moral Law is the resumption of the eternal necessary Obligation of
all Rational Free Agents to do and feel those Sentiments which are
Right. The identification of this law with His will constitutes the
Holiness of the Infinite God. Voluntary and disinterested obedience to
this law constitutes the Virtue of all finite creatures. Virtue is
capable of infinite growth, of endless approach to the Divine nature and
to perfect conformity with the law. God has made all rational free
agents for virtue, and all worlds for rational free agents. _The Moral
Law, therefore, not only reigns throughout His creation_, (all its
behests being enforced thereon by His omnipotence,) _but is itself the
reason why that creation exists_."--pp. 62-63.
This is certainly good defining, and the passage we have Italicized has
the true Transcendental ring. Indeed, the book is a system of Kantian
Ethics, as the author herself says in her Preface; and the tough old
Koenigsberg professor has no reason to complain of his gentle expounder.
Unlike most British writers,--with the grand exception of Sir William
Hamilton, the greatest British metaphysician since Locke and Hume,--she
_understands_ Kant, admires and loves him, and so is worthy to develop
his knotty sublimities. This alone would be high praise; but we think
she earns a more original and personal esteem.
The question of the second chapter she thus answers:--
"The Moral Law is found in the Intuitions of the Human Mind. These
Intuitions are natural; but they are also revealed. Our Creator wrought
them into the texture of our souls to form the groundwork of our
thoughts, and made it our duty first to examine and then to erect upon
them by reflection a Science of Morals. But He also continually aids us
in such study, and He increases this aid in the ratio of our obedience.
Thus Moral Intuitions are both Human and Divine, and the paradoxes in
their nature are thereby solved."--p. 136.
This statement may, perhaps, be received without cavil by most readers;
but the reasoning on which it depends is the weakest part of the book,
and we shall be surprised if some hard-headed divine, who fears that
this doctrine of Intuition will pester his Church, does not find out the
flaws in the argument. It will be urged, for instance, that, in
confessing that the Science of Morals can never be as exact as that of
Mathematics, because we have no terminology for Ethics so exact as for
Geometry, she, in effect, yields the whole question, and leaves us in
the old slough of doubt where Pyrrho and Pascal delighted to thrust us,
and where the Church threatens to keep us, unless we will pay her tolls
and pick our way along her turnpike. But though her major and minor
premises may not be on the best terms with each other,--even though they
may remind us of that preacher of whom Pierrepont Edwards said, "If his
text had the smallpox, his sermon would not catch it,"--her conclusion
is sound, and as inspiring now as when the poet said,--
"Est Deus in nobis, agitante calescimus illo,"--
or when George Fox trudged hither and thither over Europe with the same
noble tune sounding in his ears.
In the third chapter the old topics are treated, which, according to
Milton, the fallen angels discussed before Adam settled the debate by
"Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute,"--
and it is concluded that the Moral Law can be obeyed:--
"1st. Because the Human Will is free. 2d. Because this freedom, though
involving present sin and suffering, is foreseen by God to result
eventually in the Virtue of every creature endowed therewith."
In this chapter the history of the common doctrine of Predestination is
admirably sketched, (pp. 159-164, note.) and the grounds for our belief
in Free Will more clearly stated than we remember to have seen
elsewhere. Especially fine is her method of reducing Foreordination to
simple Ordination, by directing attention to the fact that with God
there is no Past and Future, but an Endless Now; as Tennyson sings in
"Oh, if indeed that eye foresee,
Or see, (in Him is no before.)"--
and as Dante sang five centuries ago.
But it is the last chapter which best shows the power of the author and
the pure and generous spirit with which the whole book is filled. Here
she shows why the Moral Law should be obeyed; and dividing the advocates
of Happiness as a motive into three classes, Euthumists, Public
Eudaimonists, and Private Eudaimonists, she refutes them all and
establishes her simple scheme, which she states in these words:--
"The law itself, the Eternal Right, for right's own sake, that alone
must be our motive, the spring of our resolution, the ground of our
obedience. Deep from our inmost souls comes forth the mandate, the bare
and simple law claiming the command of our whole existence merely by its
proper right, and disdaining alike to menace or to bribe."
The terms _Euthumism_ and _Eudaimonism_ are, perhaps, peculiar to this
essay, and may need some explanation. The Euthumist is one who assumes
moral pleasure as a sufficient reason why virtue should be sought; the
Eudaimonist believes we should be virtuous for the sake of affectional,
intellectual, and sensual pleasure; if he means the pleasure of all
mankind, he is a Public Eudaimonist; but if he means the pleasure of the
individual, he is a Private Eudaimonist. Democritus is reckoned the
first among Euthumists; and in England this school has been represented,
among others, by Henry More and Cumberland, by Sharrock, [Footnote:
Sharrock is a name unfamiliar to most readers. His [Greek: Hypothesis
aethikae] published in 1660, contains the first clear statement of
Euthumism made by any Englishman. See p.223.] Hutcheson, and Shaftesbury.
Paley thrust himself among Public Eudaimonists, and our author well
exposes his grovelling morals, aiming to produce the "greatest happiness
of the greatest number," a system which has too long been taught among
the students of our colleges and high schools. But he properly belongs
to the Private Eudaimonists; for this interpreter of ethics to the
ingenuous youth of England and America says, "Virtue is the doing good
to mankind in obedience to the will of God, _and for the sake of
everlasting happiness_. According to which definition, the good of
mankind is the subject, the will of God the rule, _and everlasting
happiness the motive of virtue_."
It is such heresies as this, and the still grosser pravities into which
the ethics of expediency run, that this book will do much to combat.
Nothing is more needed in our schools for both sexes than the systematic
teaching of the principles here set forth; and we have no doubt this
volume could be used as a text-book, at least with some slight omissions
and additions, such as a competent teacher could well furnish. Portions
of it, indeed, were some years since read by Mrs. Lowell to her classes,
and are now incorporated in her admirable book, "Seed Grain"; nor does
there seem to be any good reason why it should not be introduced at
Cambridge. With a short introduction containing the main principles of
metaphysics, and with the omission of some rhetorical passages unsuited
to a text-book, it might supplant the books of both intellectual and
moral philosophy now in use in our higher schools.
But it is not as a school-book that this essay is to be considered; it
will find a large and increasing circle of readers among the mature and
the cultivated, and these will perceive that few have thought so
profoundly or written so clearly on these absorbing topics. Take, for
example, the classification of _possible_ beings, made in the first
"Proceeding on our premises, that the omnipotence of God is not to be
supposed to include self-contradictions, we observe at the outset, that
(so far as we can understand subjects so transcendent) there were only,
in a moral point of view, three orders of beings possible in the
universe:--1st. One Infinite Being. A Rational Free Agent, raised by the
infinitude of his nature above the possibility of temptation. He is the
only _Holy_ Being. 2d. Finite creatures who are Rational Free Agents,
but exposed by the finity of their natures to continual temptations.
These beings are either _Virtuous_ or _Vicious_. 3d. Finite creatures
who are not rational nor morally free. These beings are _Unmoral_, and
neither virtuous nor vicious."--pp. 24-25.
Nothing can be shorter or more thorough than this statement, and, if
accepted, it settles many points in theology as well as in ethics.
Then, too, the comparison, in the last chapter, of the Law of Honor,
considered as a system of morals, with the systems of Paley and Bentham,
shows a fine perception of the true relation of chivalry to ethics, and
gives occasion for one of the most eloquent passages in the book:--
"I envy not the moralist who could treat disdainfully of Chivalry. It
was a marvellous principle, that which could make of plighted faith a
law to the most lawless, of protection to weakness a pride to the most
ferocious. While the Church taught that personal duty consisted in
scourgings and fastings, and social duty in the slaughter of Moslems and
burning of Jews, Chivalry roused up a man to reverence himself through
his own courage and truth, and to treat the weakest of his
fellow-creatures with generosity and courtesy.... Recurring to its true
character, the Law of Honor, when duly enlarged and rectified, becomes
highly valuable. We perceive, that, amid all its imperfections and
aberrations, it has been the truest voice of intuition, amid the
lamentations of the believer in 'total depravity,' and the bargaining of
the expediency-seeking experimentalist. While the one represented Virtue
as a Nun and the other as a Shop-woman, the Law of Honor drew her as a
Queen,--faulty, perhaps, but free-born and royal. Much service has this
law done to the world; it has made popular modes of thinking and acting
far nobler than those inculcated from many a pulpit; and the result is
patent, that many a 'publican and sinner,' many an opera-frequenting,
betting, gambling man of the world, is a far safer person with whom to
transact business than the Pharisee who talks most feelingly of the
'frailties of our fallen nature.'"--pp. 267-270.
The learning shown in the book, though not astonishing, like Sir William
Hamilton's, is sufficient and always at the author's service. The text
throughout, and especially the notes on Causation, Predestination,
Original Sin, and Necessary Truths, will amply support our opinion. But
better than either learning or logic is that noble and devout spirit
pervading every page, and convincing the reader, that, whether the
system advanced be true or false, it is the result of a genuine
experience, and the guide of a pure and generous life.
The volume is neatly printed, but lacks an index sadly, and shows some
errors resulting from the distance between the author and the
proof-reader. Such is the misuse of the words "woof" and "warp" on page
56; evidently a slip of the pen, since the same terms are correctly used
elsewhere in the volume.
_Memoirs of the Empress Catharine II._ Written by herself. With a
Preface by A. HERZEN. Translated from the French. New York: D. Appleton
& Co. 12mo. pp. 309.
It would seem, that, if any one of the women celebrated in history
should, more than all the others, have shrunk from writing her own
memoirs, that woman was the petty German princess whom opportunity and
her own crafty ambition made absolutest monarch of all the Russias under
the name of Catharine II. And of that abandoned and shameless personal
career which has made her name a reproach to her sex, and covered her
memory with an infamy that the administrative glories of her reign serve
only to cast into a blacker shadow, even she has shrunk from committing
the details to paper. Indeed, in these Memoirs, she alludes to but one
of her amours,--that with Sergius Soltikoff, which was the first, (if we
may be sure that she had a first,)--and which seems clearly to have been
elevated, if not purified, by a true and deep affection. That it was so
appears not by any protestation or even calm assertion of her own, which
in an autobiography might be reasonably doubted, but from the unstudied
tenderness of her allusions to him; from the fact, which indirectly
appears, that he first cooled towards her, and the pang--not of wounded
vanity--which this gave her; and yet more unmistakably from the
forgiveness which she, imperious and relentless as she was, extended,
manifestly, again and again, to her errant lover.
The Memoirs are confined to events which occurred between 1744 and
1760,--the period of Catharine's girlhood and youthful womanhood; but
although she brings herself before us, a young creature of fifteen,
"with her hair dressed _a la Moise_," (which, in the benightment of our
bearded ignorance, we suppose to mean that astounding style in which the
excellent Mistress Hannah More is represented in the frontispiece to her
Memoirs, with each particular hair standing on end,--a crimped glory of
radiating powder,) she appears no less ambitious, crafty, designing,
selfish, and self-conscious then than when she drops her pen as she is
deepening the traits of the matured woman of thirty. She went to Russia
to be betrothed to the Grand Duke, afterwards Peter III., to whom she
was at first utterly indifferent, and whom she soon began to despise and
regard with personal aversion; and yet when there was a chance that she
might be released from this union, she seems not to have known the
slightest thrill of joy or felt the least sensation of relief, although
she was then not sixteen years old,--so entirely was her mind bent upon
the crown of Russia. Partly to attain her end, and partly because it
suited her intriguing, managing nature, she set herself immediately to
the acquirement of the favor of the Empress on the one hand, and
popularity on the other. The first she sought by an absolute submission
of her will to that of Elizabeth, giving her self-negation an air of
grateful deference; the latter she obtained, as most very popular people
obtain their popularity, by adroit flattery,--the subtlest form of which
was, in her case, as it ever is, the manifestation of an interest in the
affairs of persons utterly indifferent to the flatterer. This moral
emollient she applied, as popular people usually do, without
discrimination. She remarks that she was liked because she was "the same
to everybody"; and it is noteworthy that the same is said almost
invariably of very popular persons, and in way of eulogy, by the very
people into whose favor they have licked their way; the latter always
seeming to be blinded by the titillation of their own cuticles to the
fact that the most worthless and disagreeable individuals--those with
whom they would scorn to be put upon a level--have received the same
coveted evidences of personal regard. When will the world learn that the
man, of whom we sometimes hear and read, who is absolutely without an
enemy, must either be very unscrupulous or very weak? Catharine's
duplicity in this respect seems to have been as constant as it was
artful, during the years in which it was necessary for her purpose to
make friends; and it was rewarded, as it almost always is, when
skilfully practised, with entire success.
Catharine seems to have written these Memoirs partly for her own
satisfaction and partly to justify her course to her son Paul and his
successors. Therefore they record much that is of little value or
interest to the general reader; and that, indeed, is unintelligible,
except to those who are intimately acquainted with the Russian Court
during the reign of Elizabeth. Such persons will find in these pages
much authentic matter which will confirm or unsettle their previous
belief as to the secret intrigues of that court, political and personal.
To the great mass of readers, the revelations of the internal economy of
the Court of Russia in the middle of the last century, and of the
manners and morals of the persons who composed it, which are freely made
by the author of these imperial confessions, will constitute their
principal, if not their only interest. In this respect they will well
repay the attentive perusal of every person who likes the study of human
nature. The picture which they present is striking, and its various
parts keep alive the attention which its first sight awakens. Yet it
cannot be regarded with pleasure by any reader of undepraved taste; and
a consideration of it is absolutely fatal to the faith which is
cherished by many deluded minds in the social, if not in the ethical
virtues of an ancient aristocracy. In this respect Catharine's "Memoirs"
are not peculiar. For it is remarkable, that in all the published
memoirs, journals, and confessions of members of royal households,
(there may be an exception, but we do not remember it,) court-life
within-doors has appeared devoid of every grace and beauty, and deformed
by all that is coarse, brutal, sordid, and grovelling. Even that grace,
almost a virtue, which has its name from courts, seems not to exist in
them in a genuine form; and instead of it we find only a hollow,
glittering sham, which has but an outward semblance to real courtesy,
and which itself even is produced only on occasions more or less public
and for purposes more or less selfish.
Russia in its most civilized parts was half barbarous in the days of
Catharine's youth, and society at the Court of St. Petersburg seems to
have been distinguished from that in the other circles of the empire
only by an addition of the vices of civilization to those of barbarism.
The women blended the manners and tastes of Indian squaws and French
_marquises_ of the period; the men modelled themselves on Peter the
Great, and succeeded in imitating him in everything except his wisdom
and patriotism. The business of life was, first, to avoid being sent to
Siberia or Astracan,--next and last, to get other people sent thither;
its pleasure, an alternation of gambling and orgies. Catharine makes
some excuse for her unrestrained sexual license, which shows that she
wrote for posterity. For what need of extenuation in this regard for a
woman whose immediate predecessors were Catharine I., and. Anne and
Elizabeth, and who lived in a court where, on the simultaneous marriage
of three of its ladies, a bet was made between the Hetman Count
Rasoumowsky and the Minister of Denmark,--not which of the brides would
be false to her marriage vows,--that was taken for granted with regard
to all,--but which would be so first! It turned out that he who bet on
the Countess Anne Voronzoff, daughter of the Vice-Chancellor of the
Empire, and bride to Count Strogonoff, who was the plainest of the three
and at the time the most innocent and childlike, won the wager. The bet
was wisely laid; for she was likely to be soonest neglected by her
What semblance of courtesy these highborn gamblers, adulterers, and
selfish intriguers showed in their daily life appears in their behavior
to a M. Brockdorf, against whom Catharine had ill feelings, more or less
justifiable. This M. Brockdorf, who was high in favor with the Grand
Duke, was unfortunately ugly--having a long neck, a broad, flat head,
red hair, small, dull, sunken eyes, and the corners of his mouth hanging
down to his chin. So, among those court-bred people, "whenever M.
Brockdorf passed through the apartments, every one called out after him
'Pelican,'" because "this bird was the most hideous we knew of." But
what regard for the feelings of a person of inferior rank could be
expected from his enemies, in a court where the dearest ties and the
tenderest sorrows were dashed aside with the formal brutality recorded
by Catharine in the following remarkable paragraph?--
"A few days afterwards, the death of my father was announced to me. It
greatly afflicted me. For a week I was allowed to weep as much as I
pleased; but at the end of that time, Madame Tchoglokoff came to tell me
that I had wept enough,--that the Empress ordered me to leave off,--that
my father was not a king. I told her, I knew that he was not a king; and
she replied, that it was not suitable for a Grand Duchess to mourn for a
longer period a father who had not been a king. In fine, it was arranged
that I should go out on the following Sunday, and wear mourning for six
It is worthy of especial note that these people, though they led this
sensual, selfish, heartless life, trampling on natural affection and
doing as they would not be done by, prided themselves very much on the
orthodoxy of their faith, were sorely afraid of going to hell, and were
consequently very regular and rigid in the performance of their
religious duties. Catharine was no whit behind the rest in this respect.
Though bred a Lutheran, she was most exemplary in her observance of all
the requirements of the Greek Church; and even carried her hypocrisy so
far, that, when, on occasion of a dangerous and probably fatal illness,
it was proposed that she should see a Lutheran clergyman, she replied by
asking for Simon Theodorsky, a prelate of the Greek Church, who came and
had an edifying interview with her. And all this was done, as she says,
for effect, chiefly with the soldiers and common people, among whom it
made a sensation and was much talked of. This, by the way, is the only
reference which occurs in the Memoirs to any interest below that of the
highest nobility. As for the people of Russia, the right to draw their
blood with the knout and make them sweat roubles into the royal treasury
was taken as much for granted as the light and the air, by those who,
either through fraud or force, could sit in the seat of Peter the Great.
They regarded it as no less an appanage or perquisite of that seat than
the jewels in the imperial diadem, and would as soon have thought of
defending a title to the one as to the other. And the possession of the
throne, with the necessary consent of the dominant party of the high
nobility, seems to have been, and still to be, the only requisite for
the unquestioned exercise of this power; for, as to legitimacy and
divine dynastic right, was not Catharine I. a Livoman peasant? Catharine
II. a German princess, who dethroned and put to death the grandson of
Peter the Great? and does she not confess in these Memoirs that her son,
the Emperor Paul, was not the son of Peter's grandson, but of Sergius
Soltikoff? so that in the reigning house of Russia there is not a drop
of the blood of Romanoff. And Catharine's confession, which M. Herzen
emphasizes so strongly, conveys to the Russian nobles no new knowledge
on this subject; for an eminent Russian publicist being asked, on the
appearance of this book, if it were generally known in Russia that Paul
was the son of Soltikoff, replied,--"No one who knew anything ever
doubted it." And perhaps the descendants of the Boiards are quite
content that their sovereign should have illegally sprung from the loins
of a member of one of the oldest and noblest of the purely Russian
families, rather than from those of a prince of the petty house of
Holstein Gottorp. But then what is this principle of Czarism, which is
not a submission to divine right, but which causes one man to sustain,
perhaps to place, another in a position which puts his own life at the
mercy of the other's mere caprice?
Catharine tells many trifling, but interesting incidents, of various
nature, in these Memoirs: of how, after the birth of her first child,
she was left utterly alone and neglected, so that she famished with
thirst for the lack of some one to bring her water; how her child was
taken from her at its birth, and kept from her, she hardly being allowed
even to see it; how it was always wrapped in fox-skins and seal-skins,
till it lay in a continual bath of perspiration; how the members of the
royal family itself were so badly accommodated, that sometimes they were
made ill by walking through passages open to wind and rain, and
sometimes stifled by over-crowded rooms; how at the imperial
masquerades, during one season, the men were ordered to appear in
women's dresses, and the women in the _propria quae maribus,_--the
former hideous in large whaleboned petticoats and high feathered
head-dresses, the latter looking like scrubby little boys with very
thick legs,--and all that the Empress Elizabeth might show her tall and
graceful figure and what beautiful things she used to walk with, which
Catharine says were the handsomest that she ever saw; how in this court,
where marriage was the mere shadow of a bond, it was yet deemed a matter
of the first nuptial importance that a lady of the court should have her
head dressed for the wedding by the hands of the Empress herself, or, if
she were too ill, by those of the Grand Duchess; how Catharine used, at
Oranienbaum, to dress herself from head to foot in male attire, and go
out in a skiff, accompanied only by an old huntsman, to shoot ducks and
snipe, sometimes doubling the Cape of Oranienbaum, which extends two
versts into the sea,--and how thus the fortunes of the Russian Empire,
during the latter half of the eighteenth century, were at the mercy of a
spring-tide, a gust of wind, or the tipping of a shallop. There is even
a recipe for removing tan and sunburn, which the beautiful Grand Duchess
used at the instance of the beautiful Empress; and, as both the imperial
belles testify to its great efficacy, it would be cruel not to give all
possible publicity to the fact that it was composed of white of egg,
lemon juice, and French brandy; but, alas! the proportion in which these
constituents are to be mixed is not recorded.
Of the authenticity of these Memoirs there appears to be no reasonable
doubt, and we believe that none has been expressed. They were found,
after the death of Catharine, in a sealed envelope addressed to her son
Paul, in whose lifetime no one saw them but the friend of his childhood,
Prince Kourakine. He copied them; and, about twenty years after the
death of Paul, three or four copies were made from the Kourakine copy.
The Emperor Nicholas caused all these to be seized by the secret police,
and it is only since his death that one or two copies have again made
their appearance at Moscow (where the original is kept) and St.
Petersburg. From one of these M. Herzen made his transcript. They fail
to palliate any of Catharine's crimes, or in the least to brighten her
reputation, and add nothing to our knowledge of her sagacity and her
administrative talents; but they are yet not without very considerable
personal interest and historical value.
_Milch Cows and Dairy Farming_; comprising the Breeds, Breeding, and
Management, in Health and Disease, of Dairy and other Stock; the
Selection of Milch Cows, with a full Explanation of Guenon's Method; the
Culture of Forage Plants, and the Production of Milk, Butter, and
Cheese: embodying the most recent Improvements, and adapted to Farming
in the United States and British Provinces, with a Treatise upon the
Dairy Husbandry of Holland; to which is added Horsfall's System of Dairy
Management. By CHARLES L. FLINT, Secretary of the Massachusetts State
Board of Agriculture; Author of a Treatise on Grasses and Forage Plants.
Liberally illustrated. Boston: Phillips, Sampson, & Co. pp. 416.
This very useful treatise contains a full account of the best breeds of
cattle and of the most approved methods of crossing so as to develop
qualities particularly desirable; directions for choosing good milkers
by means of certain natural signs; a description of the most useful
grasses and other varieties of fodder; and very minute instructions for
the making of good butter and the proper arrangement and care of
dairies. The author has had the advantage of practical experience as a
dairyman, while his position as Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of
Agriculture has afforded him more than common opportunity of learning
the experience of others.
A volume of this kind cannot fail to commend itself to farmers and
graziers, and will be found valuable also by those who are lucky enough
to own a single cow. The production of good milk, butter, and meat is a
matter of interest to all classes in the community alike; and Mr.
Flint's book, by pointing out frankly the mistakes and deficiencies in
the present methods of our farmers and dairymen, and the best means of
remedying them, will do a good and much-needed service to the public. He
shows the folly of the false system of economy which thinks it good
farming to get the greatest quantity of milk with the least expenditure
of fodder, and which regards poor stock as cheaper because it costs less
money in the original outlay.
If Dean Swift was right in saying that he who makes two blades of grass
grow where one grew before is of more service to mankind than he who
takes a city, we should be inclined to rank him hardly second as a
benefactor of his race who causes one pound of good butter to be made
where two pounds of bad were made before. We believe that more unsavory
and unwholesome grease is consumed in the United States under the
_alias_ of butter than in any other civilized country, and we trust that
a wide circulation of Mr. Flint's thoroughly executed treatise will tend
to reform a great and growing evil. The tendency in America has always
been to make a shift with what _will do_, rather than to insist on
having what is best; and we welcome this book as likely to act as a
corrective in one department, and that one of the most important. The
value of the volume is increased by numerous illustrations and a good
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