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affaire and was not afflicted with acute Anglophobia, so that she and I could start off and make a few studies of the country house-parties and London Society. No, this letter is too long, as I am convinced I shall be compelled to write to you again very soon.
P.S.-I have actually found in my commonplace book the passage in one of 'Gyp's' novels I was thinking of when I quoted her :
'Oui, j'excuse tous les méfaits qui ont pour cause l'amour, qu'il soit l'amour maternel, ou l'amour filial, ou l'amour des bêtes, ou l'amour tout court. Pourvu qu'on ait une âme, ou un cœur ou des sens je pardonne; ce que je ne pardonne pas c'est de n'avoir rien de tout ça et de faire semblant de l'avoir.'
My friend will not prophesy, and she is right, for, if we did, our jeremiads would possibly miss the mark in every possible way. Several thousand years ago the form of confession prescribed by the Egyptian priests was a negative pronouncement. I have not stolen, murdered, &c., and so on, leaving the Deity to infer what sins have been committed. We might take the hint and find that a negative position has more chance of holding its own than a positive assertion, and the humble but definite aim of searching for facts, not theories, may prove a successful mode of arriving at something like a conclusion. I believe that the woman of the twentieth century will not in any way resemble the platforming, noisy, aggressive ladies of the advanced school, who may themselves be traced to the terrible new woman who afflicted us for a short time; but I also believe that the extinct woman-like Ibsen's master-builder's wife, Mrs. Solness -who threatened at one time to be rehabilitated by the force of reaction, has no chance at all of reincarnation. Nor do I think the courtisane de haut étage doubled with the philanthropist is a type that will commend itself to English opinion, for the men held in bondage by her are seldom those on the first line. Nor will the scholar and purely literary woman, or the grande dame who dabbles in literature, science, and art, and leads a charming life of eclecticism, æstheticism, and many other isms, prevail, for none of these are adequate; they are not the size, as an American would say. Our successors will insist on something built on a larger and wider conception of life, a type higher and nobler, and therefore more fascinating; for, after all, there seems to be lacking in the very distinct types I have tried to sketch that great quality of charm which is all too absent from the ordinary Englishwoman.
Charm! who can define it? It is an essence, a mystery; it rules in spite of vice and wickedness, not by reason of them. From Helen of Troy to Mary Stuart, the women who charmed look out through the mist of centuries with their basilisk eyes,' and arrest even now those who would, if they could, resist their fascination. Who that has seen Sarah Bernhardt as Cleopatra slowly stepping from the barge towards Antony, with the simple words in the golden voice, 'Je suis la Reine d'Egypte!' who that has felt with Swinburne that Mary Stuart's cold cruelty prevailed not with Chastelard, for with
her Ronsard in hand he met death with joy so that he might see that beautiful wicked face once more; who that has felt the power of these and other instances (why should we multiply them?) will deny that there is here an inscrutable secret? Baffled we must ever be if we try to explain the mystery. We feel it though we cannot analyse it. But we should beware of one pitfall. In this, as in all mysteries, we have an instance of a duality which cannot be overlooked. It is easy enough to consider only one side of the question. Take the physical side alone: it does not require the lore of a Brantôme or a Boccaccio to point out that, if we do not acknowledge the power of beauty over the senses, we shall go terribly astray. But is this all? Surely the other aspect of the mystery inevitably must be met. The wit, the intellectual fire, the quickness of apprehension, what would sensual beauty be without these? Take them together, and you feel what magnetic charm may be, though you cannot explain it. The number of those who possess the secret is not so great in the present day that we need fear the subjugation of the entire race of man in the twentieth century. The exceptions to the commonplace must always be few. Rare instances may exist now. Let us be thankful for them, as we are for genius, and turn our attention to the future Englishwoman. The future Englishwoman! There are many burning questions she will help to disentangle, but we cannot touch upon them here. Probably the improvement in her economic conditions may, as the Americans foresee, effect wonders. But I shall be told that I have for my ideal something made up of Vittoria Colonna, Diane de Poitiers, and Miss Nightingale. No, my aim is much more humble. I dream of a possible woman having something of the frank, fearless grace, the self-reliant daring, the open-air freedom of the Englishwoman of the past. Give her also charm and sympathy and capability of deep passion, and we may find . . . but, if I do not take care I shall begin to predict, and I have promised not to do so.
MARY E. PONSONBY.
'THE SOURCES OF ISLAM'
DURING my recent travels in European Turkey, Asia Minor, and Egypt I noticed that the chief topic of conversation among the Moslems was the 'Missionary Work,' its consequences in China and the future trouble that it may bring in Moslem countries. Lord Salisbury, in his speech before the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, in June last, gave a solemn warning to the Christian enthusiasts assembled at Exeter Hall in the following words: 'I have explained to you how difficult it is to persuade other nations that the missionary is not an instrument of secular government. It is infinitely more difficult in the case of the Mohammedan. He cannot believe that those who are preaching the Gospel against the religion of Mohammed are not incited thereto, and protected therein, and governed in other actions, by the secular government of England, with which they are contesting . . . But, still, careless action on the part of the British missionaries in a Mohammedan country may, without any moral fault on their part, light a flame which it may be hard for them to suppress. But, dealing with the events of the moment, I think that your chances of conversion, as proved by our experience, are infinitely small, compared to the danger of creating great perils, and of producing serious convulsions, and maybe of causing bloodshed, which will be a serious and permanent obstacle to that Christian religion which we desire above all things to preach. I urge them to abstain from all appearance of any attempted violence in their religion; to abstain, if possible, from undue publicity wherever misconstruction is likely to be placed upon their action.'
His Highness the Khedive of Egypt, one of the most enlightened and liberal-minded princes of Islam, informed Sir John Scott, on the eve of his departure from this country, that His Highness was not aware of any more serious cause of friction between England and Egypt than the religious or missionary question. Notwithstanding such serious warnings, Sir William Muir, who has had some administrative experience, has thought fit, at such a critical time, once more to attack the fountain-head of Islam. He professes to have
made a remarkable discovery in a new book which, he declares, is destined to shatter into atoms the foundation of the religion of Mohammed. The grateful thanks of the Christian world, he adds, are due to the author of the remarkable production which he had the honour to notice in the last number of this Review. He also recommends translation into all Eastern languages, an English version as well as an édition de luxe, of The Sources of Islam to rescue the work from oblivion. As a matter of fact the book which he reviews as a recent publication has been already in existence for five years, and the wide publicity which he desires for this work has already been given to it by the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge in all parts of the world. I am surprised that Sir William, who takes such keen interest in missionary work, and especially in missionary books on Islam, failed to notice this work before. The Rev. W. St. Clair-Tisdall (by-the-bye Sir William has misspelt the name), the author of The Sources of Islam and the secretary of the C.M.S. Mission, Julfa, Isfahan, Persia, delivered in 1891-2 a course of lectures on Mohammedanism by the desire of the trustees of the James Long lectureship fund. These lectures were in 1895 published under the direction of the Tract Committee of the S.P.C.K.'in book form. The book was divided into four chapters, viz. : I. 'The Strength of Islam,' II. 'The Weakness of Islam,' III. 'The Origin of Islam,' and IV. The Influence of Islam Islam and Christianity—and was named The Religion of the Crescent. It is the third chapter of the book, viz. 'The Origin of Islam,' which is now reprinted under the name of The Sources of Islam, with a few additions. Sir William says:
It takes up a subject never yet brought properly under discussion, either by Mohammedans or Christians, viz. the origin of the Coran and the sources from which both it and tradition have been derived. . . . Now, if it can be shown that much of this grand book can be traced to human and unworthy sources existing round about the Prophet, then Islam falls to the ground. And this is what the author proves with marvellous power and erudition.
As I have mentioned above, this book has already existed for five years, and Islam has not fallen yet. Sir William modestly omits to mention that he himself wrote for the S.P.C.K. a book called The Coran. its Composition and its Teaching, which was published in 1887 under the direction of the Tract Committee. When it first appeared it was also believed that Islam would fall to the ground. Nay, in 1855, when Sir William wrote his monumental work, The Life of Mohammed, at the desire of a missionary gentleman (according to his own admission), Christian enthusiasts prophesied the speedy end of Islam; but all of them proved to be false prophets.
Far from being a new subject, the origin of the Coran' is as old a subject as the Coran itself. The important points which the
author of The Sources of Islam discusses in the book have often and often been discussed by critics profounder in knowledge and higher in authority than either the Rev. Mr. Tisdall or Sir William Muir himself.
What are the principal points discussed? (1) That the Coran was partly derived from the traditions of the ancient Arabs; (2) that it has borrowed something from Judaism; (3) that it is indebted to the Gospels; (4) that it is influenced by Zoroastrianism; (5) that a few men called Hanifs existed at the time of the Prophet who desired the reform brought about by Mohammed, and who also preached the doctrines which he inculcated. I venture to state that every one of the above points had been raised at the time of the Prophet, and the Coran itself repeatedly answers them. There is not a single Christian writer of any distinction who has not dwelt upon these points. Over and over again Mohammed challenged his antagonists to be confronted with the man from whom he borrowed a single line of the Coran, and he invariably challenged them to produce a single line rivalling the Coran in eloquence and effect. There is no proof that Mohammed borrowed his ideas directly from any man or any book, excepting so far as some of the ideas that he preached were also to be found in some other religions. But Mohammed himself repeatedly asserts that he brings no new religion; that what he preached was also preached by Abraham, Moses, and many other prophets before him. The charge, therefore, that some of his sayings tally with the description in the Revealed Books is altogether out of question. The other charge, that some of his statements do not agree with the description in the so-called Scriptures, is also answered by himself. He said that the Scriptures had been forged and interpolated, and that the Coran was sent to reveal what had been altered or concealed. Neither the Jews nor the Christians can boast of a Revealed Book in the sense that Moslems do of the Coran, viz. that every word as it fell from the lips of the founder of the religion, when inspired, has been reported and preserved in the same. The very term 'apocryphal gospel' suggests forgery, and 'revised editions' suggest alterations. Of the Hebrew text of the Scriptures the English revisers say in their preface of 1884 that 'The earliest MS. of which the age is certainly known bears date A.D. 916.' Dr. Wickes, of Oxford, in his Treatise on the Accentuation of the twenty-one so-called Prose Books of the Old Testament, remarks: How many other epigraphs of Jewish text would, when carefully tested, have to be rejected, notably that of the Cambridge Codex 12, which makes a Spanish MS. unquestionably younger than the one we have been considering, written in the year 1856.' He adds that the Codex in the Inferior Library of St. Petersburg dated 1009 is also much younger than that date. Recent investigations prove that the manuscripts of the New Testament supposed to