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  • 1892
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possession, the day is kept. Alas, how dreary it is for the hearts that are craving for home! The moon rises through the majestic arch of the sky and makes the tamarisk-trees gorgeous; the warm air flows gently; the dancers float round to the wild waltz-rhythm; and the imitation of home is kept up with zeal by the stout general, the grave and scholarly judge, the fresh subaltern, and by all the bright ladies who are in exile. But even these think of the quiet churches in sweet English places; they think of the purple hedges, the sharp scent of frost-bitten fields, the glossy black ice, and the hissing ring of the skates. I know that, religiously as Christmas is kept up even on the frontier in India, the toughest of the men long for home, and pray for the time when the blessed regions of Brighton and Torquay and Cheltenham may receive the worn pensioner. One poet says something of the Anglo-Indian’s longing for home at Christmas-time; he speaks with melancholy of the folly of those who sell their brains for rupees and go into exile, and he appears to be ready, for his own part, to give up his share in the glory of our Empire if only he can see the friendly fields in chill December. I sympathize with him. Away with the mendicants, rich and poor–away with the gushing parasites who use a kindly instinct and a sacred name in order to make mean profit–away with the sordid hucksters who play with the era of man’s hope as though the very name of the blessed time were a catchword to be used like the abominable party-cries of politicians! But when I come to men and women who understand the real significance of the day–when I come to charitable souls who are reminded of One who was all Charity, and who gave an impulse to the world which two thousand years have only strengthened–when I come among these, I say, “Give us as much Yule-tide talk as ever you please, do your deeds of kindness, take your fill of innocent merriment, and deliver us from the pestilence of quacks and mendicants!” It is when I think of the ghastly horror of our own great central cities that I feel at once the praiseworthiness and the hopelessness of all attempts to succour effectually the immense mass of those who need charity. Hopeless, helpless lives are lived by human creatures who are not much above the brutes. Alas, how much may be learned from a journey through the Midlands! We may talk of merry frosty days and starlit nights and unsullied snow and Christmas cheer; but the potter and the iron-worker know as much about cheeriness as they do about stainless snow. Then there is London to be remembered. A cheery time there will be for the poor creatures who hang about the dock-gates and fight for the chance of earning the price of a meal! In that blank world of hunger and cold and enforced idleness there is nothing that the gayest optimist could describe as joyful, and some of us will have to face the sight of it during the winter that is now at hand. What can be done? Hope seems to have deserted many of our bravest; we hear the dark note of despair all round, and it is only the sight of the workers–the kindly workers–that enables us to bear up against deadly depression and dark pessimism.

_December, 1888._

_THE FADING YEAR_.

Even in this distressed England of ours there are still districts where the simple reapers regard the harvest labour as a frolic; the dulness of their still lives is relieved by a burst of genuine but coarse merriment, and their abandoned glee is not unpleasant to look upon. Then come the harvest suppers–noble spectacles. The steady champ of resolute jaws sounds in a rhythm which is almost majestic; the fearsome destruction wrought on solid joints would rouse the helpless envy of the dyspeptics of Pall Mall, and the playful consumption of ale–no small beer, but golden Rodney–might draw forth an ode from a teetotal Chancellor of the Exchequer. August winds up in a blaze of gladness for the reaper. On ordinary evenings he sits stolidly in the dingy parlour and consumes mysterious malt liquor to an accompaniment of grumbling and solemn puffing of acrid tobacco, but the harvest supper is a wildly luxurious affair which lasts until eleven o’clock. Are there not songs too? The village tenor explains–with a powerful accent–that he only desires Providence to let him like a soldier fall. Of course he breaks down, but there is no adverse criticism. Friendly hearers say, “Do yowe try back, Willum, and catch that up at start agin;” and Willum does try back in the most excruciating manner. Then the elders compare the artist with singers of bygone days, and a grunting chorus of stories goes on. Then comes the inevitable poaching song. Probably the singer has been in prison a dozen times over, but he is regarded as a moral and law-abiding character by his peers; and even his wife, who suffered during his occasional periods of seclusion, smiles as he drones out the jolting chorus. When the sportsman reaches the climax and tells how–

We slung her on our shoulders,
And went across the down;
We took her to a neighbour’s house, And sold her for a crown.

We sold her for a crown, my boys,
But I ‘on’t tell ye wheer,
For ’tis my delight of a shiny night In the season of the year

–then the gentlemen who have sold many a hare in their time exchange rapturous winks, and even a head-keeper might be softened by the prevailing enthusiasm. Hodge is a hunter by nature, and you can no more restrain him from poaching than you can restrain a fox. The most popular man in the whole company is the much-incarcerated poacher, and no disguise whatever is made of the fact. A theft of a twopenny cabbage from a neighbour would set a mark against a man for life; a mean action performed when the hob-nailed company gather in the tap-room would be remembered for years; but a sportsman who blackens his face and creeps out at night to net the squire’s birds is considered to be a hero, and an honest man to boot. He mentions his convictions gaily, criticises the officials of each gaol that he has visited in the capacity of prisoner, and rouses roars of sympathetic laughter as he tells of his sufferings on the tread-mill. No man or woman thinks of the facts that the squire’s pheasants cost about a guinea apiece to rear, that a hare is worth about three-and-sixpence, that a brace of partridges brings two shillings even from the cunning receiver who buys the poachers’ plunder. No; they joyously think of the fact that the keepers are diddled, and that satisfies them.

Alas, the glad and sad times alike must die, and the dull prose of October follows hard on the wild jollity of the harvest supper, while Winter peers with haggard gaze over Autumn’s shoulder! The hoarse winds blow now, and the tender flush of decay has begun to touch the leaves with delicate tints. In the morning the gossamer floats in the glittering air and winds ropes of pearls among the stubble; the level rays shoot over a splendid land, and the cold light is thrillingly sweet. But the evenings are chill, and the hollow winds moan, crying, “Summer is dead, and we are the vanguard of Winter. Soon the wild army will be upon you. Steal the sunshine while you may.”

What is the source of that tender solemn melancholy that comes on us all as we feel the glad year dying? It is melancholy that is not painful, and we can nurse it without tempting one stab of real suffering. Each season brings its moods–Spring is hopeful; Summer luxurious; Autumn contented; and then comes that strange time when our thoughts run on solemn things. Can it be that we associate the long decline of the year with the dark closing of life? Surely not–for a boy or girl feels the same pensive, dreary mood, and no one who remembers childhood can fail to think of the wild inarticulate thoughts that passed through the immature brain. Nay, our souls are from God; they are bestowed by the Supreme, and they were from the beginning, and cannot be destroyed. From Plato downwards, no thoughtful man has missed this strange suggestion which seems to present itself unprompted to every mind. Cicero argued it out with consummate dialectic skill; our scientific men come to the same conclusion after years on years of labour spent in investigating phenomena of life and laws of force; and Wordsworth formulated Plato’s reasoning in an immortal passage which seems to combine scientific accuracy with exquisite poetic beauty–

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The soul that rises with us–our life’s star– Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, Who is our home.
Heaven lies about us in our infancy! Shades of the prison-house begin to close Upon the growing boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows; He sees it in his joy.
The youth who daily farther from the east Must travel still is Nature’s priest, And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the man perceives it die away And fade into the light of coming day.

Had Wordsworth never written another line, that passage would have placed him among the greatest. He follows the glorious burst with these awful lines–

But for those obstinate questionings Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings;
Blank misgivings of a creature
Moving about in worlds not realized; High instincts before which our mortal nature Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised.

That is like some golden-tongued utterance of the gods; and thousands of Englishmen, sceptics and believers, have held their breath, abashed, as its full meaning struck home.

Yes; this mysterious thought that haunts our being as we gaze on the saddened fields is not aroused by the immediate impression which the sight gives us; it is too complex, too profound, too mature and significant. It was framed before birth, and it proceeds direct from the Father of all souls, with whom we dwelt before we came to this low earth, and with whom we shall dwell again. If any one ventures to deny the origin of our marvellous knowledge, our sweet, strange impressions, it seems to us that he must risk bordering on impiety.

So far then I have wandered from the commonplace sweetness of the shorn fields, and I almost forgot to speak about the birds. Watch the swallows as they gather together and talk with their low pretty twitter. Their parliament has begun; and surely no one who watches their proceedings can venture to scoff at the transcendental argument which I have just now stated. Those swift, pretty darlings will soon be flying through the pitchy gloom of the night, and they will dart over three or four thousand miles with unerring aim till they reach the far-off spot where they cheated our winter last year. Some will nest amid the tombs of Egyptian kings, some will find out rosy haunts in Persia, some will soon be wheeling and twittering happily over the sullen breast of the rolling Niger. Who–ah, who guides that flight? Think of it. Man must find his way by the stars and the sun. Day by day he must use elaborate instruments to find out where his vessel is placed; and even his instruments do not always save him from miles of error. But the little bird plunges through the high gulfs of air and flies like an arrow to the selfsame spot where it lived before it last went off on the wild quest over shadowy continents and booming seas. “Hereditary instinct,” says the scientific man. Exactly so; and, if the swallow unerringly traverses the line crossed by its ancestors, even though the old land has long been whelmed in steep-down gulfs of the sea, does not that show us something? Does it, or does it not, make my saying about the soul seem reasonable?

I have followed the swallows, but the fieldfares and the buntings must also go soon. They will make their way South also, though some may go in leisurely fashion to catch the glorious burst of spring in Siberia. I have been grievously puzzled and partly delighted by Mr. Seebohm’s account of the birds’ pilgrimage, and it has given me hours of thought. We dwell amid mystery, and, as the leaves redden year by year, here recurs one of the chiefest mysteries that ever perplexed the soul of man. Indeed, we are shadowed around with mystery and there is not one red leaf whirled by the wind among those moaning woods which does not represent a miracle.

We cannot fly from these shores, but our joys come each in its day. For pure gladness and keen colour nothing can equal one of these glorious October mornings, when the reddened fronds of the brackens are silvered with rime, and the sun strikes flashes of delight from them. Then come those soft November days when the winds moan softly amid the Aeolian harps of the purple hedgerows, and the pale drizzle falls ever and again. Even then we may pick our pleasures discreetly, if we dwell in the country, while, as for the town, are there not pleasant fires and merry evenings? Then comes the important thought of the poor. Ah, it is woful! “‘Pleasant fires and merry evenings,’ say you?”–so I can fancy some pinched sufferer saying, “What sort of merry evenings shall we have, when the fogs crawl murderously, or the sleet lashes the sodden roads?” Alas and alas! Those of us who dwell amid pleasant sights and sounds are apt in moments of piercing joy to forget the poor who rarely know joy at all. But we must not be careless. By all means let those who can do so snatch their enjoyment from the colour, the movement, the picturesque sadness of the fading year; but let them think with pity of the time that is coming, and prepare to do a little toward lifting that ghastly burden of suffering that weighs on so many of our fellows. Gazing around on the flying shadows driven by the swift wind, and listening to the quivering sough amid the shaken trees, I have been led far and near into realms of strange speculation. So it is ever in this fearful and wonderful life; there is not the merest trifle that can happen which will not lead an eager mind away toward the infinite. Never has this mystic ordinance touched my soul so poignantly as during the hours when I watched for a little the dying of the year, and branched swiftly into zigzag reflections that touched the mind with fear and joy in turn. Adieu, fair fields! Adieu, wild trees! Where will next year’s autumn find us? Hush! Does not the very gold and red of the leaves hint to us that the sweet sad time will return again and find us maybe riper?

_October, 1886._

_BEHIND THE VEIL_.

“Men of all castes, if they fulfil their assigned duties, enjoy in heaven the highest imperishable bliss. Afterwards, when a man who has fulfilled his duties returns to this world, he obtains, by virtue of a remainder of merit, birth in a distinguished family, beauty of form, beauty of complexion, strength, aptitude for learning, wisdom, wealth, and the gift of fulfilling the laws of his caste or order. Therefore in both worlds he dwells in happiness, rolling like a wheel from one world to the other.” Thus the Brahmans have settled the problem of the life that follows the life on earth. Those strange and subtle men seem to have reasoned themselves into a belief in dreams, and they speak with cool confidence, as though they were describing scenes as vivid and material as are the crowds in a bazaar. There is no hesitation for them; they describe the features of the future existence with the dry minuteness of a broker’s catalogue. The Wheel of Life rolls, and far above the weary cycle of souls Buddha rests in an attitude of benediction; he alone has achieved Nirvana–he alone is aloof from gods and men. The yearning for immortality has in the case of the Brahman passed into certainty, and he describes his heavens and his hells as though the All-wise had placed no dim veil between this world and the world beyond. Most arithmetically minute are all the Brahman’s pictures, and he never stops to hint at a doubt. His hells are twenty-two in number, each applying a new variety of physical and moral pain. We men of the West smile at the grotesque dogmatism of the Orientals; and yet we have no right to smile. In our way we are as keen about the great question as the Brahmans are, and for us the problem of problems may be stated in few words–“Is there a future life?” All our philosophy, all our laws, all our hopes and fears are concerned with that paralyzing question, and we differ from the Hindoo only in that we affect an extravagant uncertainty, while he sincerely professes an absolute certainty. The cultured Western man pretends to dismiss the problem with a shrug; he labels himself as an agnostic or by some other vague definition, and he is fond of proclaiming his idea that he knows and can know nothing. That is a pretence. When the philosopher says that he does not know and does not care what his future may be, he speaks insincerely; he means that he cannot prove by experiment the fact of a future life–or, as Mr. Ruskin puts it, “he declares that he never found God in a bottle”–but deep down in his soul there is a knowledge that influences his lightest action. The man of science, the “advanced thinker,” or whatever he likes to call himself, proves to us by his ceaseless protestations of doubt and unbelief that he is incessantly pondering the one subject which he would fain have us fancy he ignores. At heart he is in full sympathy with the Brahman, with the rude Indian, with the impassioned English Methodist, with all who cannot shake off the mystic belief in a life that shall go on behind the veil. When the pagan emperor spoke to his own parting soul, he asked the piercing question that our sceptic must needs put, whether he like it or no–

Soul of me, floating and flitting and fond, Thou and this body were life-mates together! Wilt thou be gone now–and whither?
Pallid and naked and cold,
Not to laugh or be glad as of old!

Theology of any description is far out of my path, but I have the wish and the right to talk gravely about the subject that dwarfs all others. A logician who tries to scoff away any faith I count as almost criminal. Mockery is the fume of little hearts, and the worst and craziest of mockers is the one who grins in presence of a mystery that strikes wise and deep-hearted men with a solemn fear which has in it nothing ignoble. I would as lief play circus pranks by a mother’s deathbed as try to find flippant arguments to disturb a sincere faith.

First, then, let us know what the uncompromising iconoclasts have to tell about the universal belief in immortality. They have a very pretentious line of reasoning, which I may summarise thus. Life appeared on earth not less than three hundred thousand years ago. First of all our planet hung in the form of vapour, and drifted with millions of other similar clouds through space; then the vapour became liquid; then the globular form was assumed, and the flying ball began to rotate round the great attracting body. We cannot tell how living forms first came on earth; for they could not arise by spontaneous generation, in spite of all that Dr. Bastian may say. Of the coming of life we can say nothing–rather an odd admission, by-the-way, for gentlemen who are so sure of most things–but we know that some low organism did appear–and there is an end of that matter. No two organisms can possibly be exactly alike; and the process of differentiation began in the very shrine. The centuries passed, and living organisms became more and more complex; the slowly-cooling ball of the earth was covered with greenery, but no flower was to be seen. Then insects were attracted by brightly-coloured leaves; then flowers and insects acted and reacted on each other. But there is no need to trace every mark on the scale. It is enough to say that infinitely-diversified forms of life branched off from central stocks, and the process of variation went on steadily. Last of all, in a strange environment, a certain small upright creature appeared. He was not much superior in development to the anthropoid apes that we now know–in fact, there is less difference between an orang and a Bosjesman than there is between the primitive man and the modern Caucasian man. This creature, hairy and brown as a squirrel, stunted in stature, skinny of limb, was our immediate progenitor. So say the confident scientific men. The owner of the queer ape-like skull found at Neanderthal belonged to a race that was ultimately to develop into Shakespeares and Newtons and Napoleons. In all the enormous series that had its first term in the primeval ooze and its last term in man, one supreme motive had actuated every individual. The desire of life, growing more intense with each new development, was the main influence that secured continuance of life. The beings that had the desire of life scantily developed were overcome in the struggle for existence by those in whom the desire of life was strong. Thus in man, after countless generations, the wish for life had become the master-power holding dominion over the body. As the various branches of the human race moved upward, the passionate love of life grew so strong that no individual could bear to think of resigning this pleasing anxious being and proceeding to fall into dumb forgetfulness. Men saw their comrades stricken by some dark force that they could not understand. The strong limbs grew lax first, and then hopelessly stiff; the bright eye was dulled; and it soon became necessary to hide the inanimate thing under the soil. It was impossible for those who had the quick blood flowing in their veins to believe that a time would come when feeling would be known no more. This fierce clinging to life had at last its natural outcome. Men found that at night, when the quicksilver current of sleep ran through their veins and their bodies were quiescent, they had none the less thoughts as of life. The body lay still; but something in alliance with the body gave them impressions of vivid waking vigour and action. Men fancied that they fought, hunted, loved, hated; and yet all the time their limbs were quiet. What could it be that forced the slumbering man to believe himself to be in full activity? It must be some invisible essence independent of the bones and muscles. Therefore when a man died it followed that the body which was buried must have parted permanently from the mystic “something” that caused dreams. That mystic “something” therefore lived on after the death of the body. The bodily organs were mere accidental encumbrances; the real “man” was the viewless creature that had the visions of the night. The body might go; but the thing which by and by was named “soul” was imperishable.

I can see the drift of foggy argument. The writer means to say that the belief in immortality sprang up because the wish was father to the thought. Men longed to live, and thus they persuaded themselves that they would live; and, one refinement after another having been added to the vague-minded savage’s animal yearning, we have the elaborate system of theology and the reverential faith that guide the lives of civilized human entities. Very pretty! Then the literary critic steps in and shows how the belief in immortality has been enlarged and elaborated since the days of Saul, the son of Kish. When the witch of Endor saw gods ascending from the earth, she was only anticipating the experience of sorcerers who ply their trade in the islands of the Pacific. Professor Huxley admires the awful description of Saul’s meeting with the witch; but the Professor shows that the South Sea islanders also see gods ascending out of the earth, and he thinks that the Eastern natives in Saul’s day encouraged a form of ancestor-worship. The literary critic says ancestor-worship is one of the great branches of the religion of mankind. Its principles are not difficult to understand, for they plainly keep up the social relations of the living world. The dead ancestor, now passed into a deity, goes on protecting his family and receiving suit and service from them as of old. The dead chief still watches over his own tribe, still holds his authority by helping friends and harming enemies, still rewards the right and sharply punishes the wrong. That, then, was the kind of worship prevalent in the time of Saul, and the gods were only the ancestors of the living. Well, this may be admirable as science, but, as I summarized the long argument, I felt as though something must give way.

Then we are told that our sacred book, the Old Testament, contains no reference to the future life–rather ignores the notion, in fact. It appears that, when Job wrote about the spirit that passed before him and caused all the hair of his flesh to stand up, he meant an enemy, or a goat, or something of that species. Moreover, when it is asserted that Enoch “was not, for God took him,” no reference is made to Enoch’s future existence. The whole of the thesis regarding the Shadow Land has been built up little by little, just as our infinitely perfect bodily organization has been gradually formed. It took at least thirty thousand years to evolve the crystalline lens of the human eye, and it required many thousands of years to evolve from the crude savagery of the early Jews the elaborate theories of the modern Buddhists, Islamites, and Christians.

Certainly this same evolution has much to answer for. I utterly fail to see how a wish can give rise to a belief that comes before the wish is framed in the mind. More than this, I know that, even when human beings crave extinction most–when the prospect of eternal sleep is more than sweet, when the bare thought of continued existence is a horror–the belief in, or rather the knowledge of, immortality is still there, and the wretch who would fain perish knows that he cannot.

As for the mathematically-minded thinkers, I must give them up. They say, “Here are two objects of consciousness whose existence can be verified; one we choose to call the body, the other we call the soul or mind or spirit, or what you will. The soul may be called a ‘function’ of the body, or the body may be called a ‘function’ of the soul–at any rate, they vary together. The tiniest change in the body causes a corresponding change in the soul. As the body alters from the days when the little ducts begin to feed the bones with lime up to the days when the bones are brittle and the muscles wither away, so does the soul alter. The infant’s soul is different from the boy’s, the boy’s from the adolescent man’s, the young man’s from the middle-aged man’s, and so on to the end. Now, since every change in the body, no matter how infinitesimally small, is followed by a corresponding change in the soul, then it is plain that, when the body becomes extinct, its ‘function,’ the soul, must also become extinct.”

This is even more appalling than the reasoning of the biologist. But is there not a little flaw somewhere? We take a branch from a privet-hedge and shake it; some tiny eggs fall down. In time a large ugly caterpillar comes from each egg; but, according to the mathematical men, the caterpillar does not exist, since the egg has become naught. Good! The caterpillar wraps itself in a winding thread, and we have an egg-shaped lump which lies as still as a pebble. Then presently from that bundle of thread there comes a glorious winged creature which flies away, leaving certain ragged odds and ends. But surely the bundle of threads and the moth were as much connected as the body and the soul? Logically, then, the moth does not exist after the cocoon is gone, any more than the soul exists after the body is gone! I feel very unscientific indeed as we put forth this proposition, and yet perhaps some simple folk will follow me.

God will not let the soul die; it is a force that must act throughout the eternity before us, as it acted throughout the eternity that preceded our coming on earth. No physical force ever dies–each force merely changes its form or direction. Heat becomes motion, motion is transformed into heat, but the force still exists. It is not possible then that the soul of man–the subtlest, strongest force of all–should ever be extinguished. Every analogy that we can see, every fact of science that we can understand, tells us that the essence which each of us calls “I” must exist for ever as it has existed from eternity. Let us think of a sweet change that shall merely divest us of the husk of the body, even as the moth is divested of the husk of the caterpillar. Space will be as nothing to the soul–can we not even now transport ourselves in an instant beyond the sun? We can see with the soul’s eye the surface of the stars, we know what they are made of, we can weigh them, and we can prove that our observation is rigidly accurate even though millions of miles lie between us and the object which we describe so confidently. When the body is gone, the soul will be more free to traverse space than it is even now.

_February, 1888._

Extracts from Reviews of the First Edition.

“Mr. Runciman is terribly in earnest in the greater part of this volume, especially in the several articles on ‘Drink.’ He is eminently practical, withal; and not satisfied with describing and deploring the effects of drunkenness, he gives us a recipe which he warrants to cure the most hardened dipsomaniac within a week. We have not quoted even the titles of all Mr. Runciman’s essays; but they are all wholesome in tone, and show a hearty love of the open air and of outdoor amusement, in spite of his well-deserved strictures on various forms of so-called ‘sport,’ while sometimes, notably in the Essay on ‘Genius and Respectability,’ he touches the higher notes of feeling.”–_Saturday Review_.

“Mr. Runciman is intensely earnest, and directs his arrows with force and precision against those ‘joints in our social armour’ which his keen vision detects. There is a purpose in all Mr. Runciman says; and although one cannot always share his enthusiasm or accept his conclusions, it is impossible to doubt his sincerity as a moral reformer and his zeal in the cause of philanthropy.”–_Academy_.

“Few sermons, one would fancy, could do more good than this book, honestly considered. It speaks plain sense on faults and follies that are usually gently satirised; and makes fine invigorating reading. The book warmly deserves success.”–_Scotsman_.

“Mr. Runciman expresses himself with a vigour which leaves nothing to be desired. He leaves no doubt of what he thinks,–and he thinks, anyhow, on the right side…. Altogether a very vigorous deliverance.”–_Spectator_.

“No one can read these pleasant thoughtful essays without being the better for it; all being written with the vigour and grace for which Mr. Runciman is distinguished.”–_Newcastle Daily Chronicle_.

“Essays which form a most important contribution to the literature of social reform.”–_Methodist Times_.

“Mr. Runciman has produced a book which will compel people to read, and it has many pages which ought to compel them to think, and to act as well.”–_Manchester Examiner._

“Mr. Runciman is endowed with a vigorous and pleasing style, and his facile pen has obviously been made expert by much use. In dealing with some of the more threadbare problems, such as the drink question and the sporting mania, he brings considerable novelty and freshness to their treatment, and when fairly roused he hits out at social abuses with a vigour and indignant sincerity which are very refreshing to the jaded reader …He has been successful in producing a delightfully readable book, and even when he does not produce conviction, he will certainly succeed in securing attention and inspiring interest.”–_Bradford Observer_.

“The essays are a fine contribution in the cause of manly self-culture and elevation of moral tone.”–_Pall Mall Gazette_.

“To those who enjoy essays on current topics, this will be found an acceptable and instructive volume.”–_Public Opinion_.

“His essays are always entertaining and suggestive …Mr. Runciman, as is well-known, has a forcible and effective style.”–_Star_.

“Mr. Runciman is a bard hitter, and evidently speaks from conviction, and there is such an honest and clear-minded tone about these papers, that even those who do not agree with all the conclusions drawn in them will not regret having read what Mr. Runciman has to say on social questions.”–_Graphic_.