Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/391

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369
LITERARY NOTICES.

nial collection is a mere godless, sordid, anti-religious affair. But the people do not go to the appointed places of religious assembly. They crowd around the grounds by thousands, and occupy themselves in drinking at the saloons, and in cursing the bigotry of the management which forbids them to look upon the objects within, on the day that the State forbids them to work.

We fear, however, that any considerations of principle will be wasted upon the commissioners. The reasons they avow for forbidding entrance to the grounds on Sunday are not of a very elevated kind. In the report of the majority, after referring to the legislation of the country to prevent "secular business operations" on the "Christian Sabbath," they say: "Any action of this commission which is in conflict with the public sentiment expressed in these laws and in their practical observance will, in the judgment of your committee, so shock the moral sense of the country that it will jeopardize the success of the Centennial Exhibition, and turn the most powerful agencies throughout the land from active support to decided opposition. Your committee, therefore, recommend that the commission adhere to the policy which has heretofore governed its actions on this subject." It is not the "moral sense" of the community that would be shocked by opening the exhibition on Sunday. The "powerful agencies throughout the land" that would oppose it by deterring people from attendance on week-days, because those who wish it were admitted on Sunday, are not impelled by "moral sense," but by a narrow spirit of intolerance which is as immoral as the spirit of any other tyranny. The commissioners are of course bound to do every proper thing to insure the success of the exhibition; but they are not bound to eliminate all higher considerations from their conception of "success." We could wish them a little more elevation of view on this great national occasion; and in regard to their Sunday policy a little more of the spirit of Christ and Paul, Tyndale and Luther; a little more, indeed, of the genuine "spirit of Seventy-six."

 

LITERARY NOTICES.

The Ancient Regime. By Hippolyte Adolphe Taine, author of "A History of English Literature," "Italy," etc. Translated by John Durand. New York: Henry Holt & Co. Pp. 421. Price, $2.50.

Although M. Taine has made his reputation as a literary man, he must be credited with a genuine feeling for philosophical inquiry, and if not a scientist in the thorough sense, he nevertheless aspires to carry on his inquiries by scientific method. The present work is written from this point of view. Its author takes the modern stand-point in the study of history, and recognizes the futility of polities, when not guided by the principles of national development. His attitude of mind, and the spirit which he has brought to his task, are so admirably presented in the following passage from his preface, that we transcribe his own words. After stating that in 1849 he was twenty-one years old, and was called upon to vote, he remarks:

"It was optional with me to be royalist or republican, democrat or conservative, socialist or Bonapartist; I was neither, nor even anything at all, and, at times, I envied so many people of faith who had the good fortune to be something. After hearing the various doctrines I felt that there was undoubtedly some void in my mind. Motives valid for others were not so for me; I could not understand how in politics one could make up his mind according to his predilections. Peremptory advisers constructed a constitution as if it were a house, according to the most attractive, the newest, and the simplest plan, holding up for consideration the mansion of a marquis, the domicile of a bourgeois, a tenement for workmen, barracks for soldiers, the communist phalanstery, and even a camp for savages. Each one asserted of his model, 'This is the true abode of man, the only one a man of sense can dwell in.' In my opinion, the argument was weak; personal fancies are not authorities. It appears to me that a house might not be built for the architect, nor for itself, but for the owner and occupant. To ask the opinion of the owner, to submit plans