Tendencies of Modern Literature

This term Literature is here used in its larger sense, and not confined strictly to works of the imagination. For the sake of clearness, periodical literature will be treated of by itself.

We may note three stages in the history of ideas. First, their origin in the minds of individual thinkers, or as results of scientific discoveries. In this stage they are confined to a few leading minds, and may for considerable periods of time be little known and without influence.

Secondly, their popularization and general diffusion. As the rough nuggets of gold must be tested and purified before they are made into coins and can enter into general circulation, so is it with the new ideas of philosophy and science. There is a time of critical discussion, and then in modified forms, freed from technical language, they appear in literature, and begin to exert their influence on the popular mind in its beliefs and modes of thought.

Thirdly, when generally diffused, these ideas find their embodiment in laws and institutions. Of this last stage we shall have another occasion to speak.

The period in which we live is one in which new ideas, religious, scientific, political, social, moral, are struggling to get possession of the popular mind. 10» (201)

To this end they must be popularized, and put into intelligible and attractive forms; and this is done through literature. It stands as a medium through which the abstract and far-removed ideas of the few may be made intelligible to the many. But there is necessarily a contest between the new and the old, and the literature of our time clearly shows the marks of this contest, both in its substance and its expression. We see a want of clearness of thought, of accurate definition, of logical sequence, of positive standards of judgment. The subjective element is predominant, and with much of excitement and passion, there is also great vagueness of expression. In few writers do we find the calm, clear utterance of matured and assured convictions.

But before considering that which more particularly concerns us, — the religious character of our modern literature,— a few words may be said upon literature as affected by the democratic spirit.

The essential and distinctive element of this literature we find to be, that it deals with man as man. It is disposed to look with dislike or indifference upon all adventitious distinctions, as of rank, or class, or wealth. These are often not deserved, and have little to do with the real worthiness of men. In monarchies and aristocracies individual men are prominent, and to them history devotes itself, and the poets sing their deeds; in a democracy it is the race, the universal humanity. Affirming the equality of man with man, it affirms equal rights to all; and attacks all political conditions and social institutions which serve to make or preserve inequalities. In the past, humanity has not had its right and sovereign place; it must now cast off its manacles, and assert its real prerogatives. As the race is ever progressing, there can be but little reverence for the past. Humanity is far more than its great men; no age can exhaust its riches; its last products are its best.

With these democratic pre-suppositions it necessarily follows that the past cannot give us a literary standard. Each generation must be a law to itself. Every man should speak out that which is in him, and not follow the models of the past. An author should not seek the cultivated few, but the unlettered many; and find in their sympathy and approval his highest praise. Regarding the race as one, we should put away all narrow or provincial lines, and even national limitations, and look forward to a literature which shall be the expression of the universal humanity. And this humanity should have full expression. All its capacities should be unfolded, all that is in it find utterance,—its hopes, its fears, its miseries, its desires, its passions, its aspirations. Nothing human is to be regarded as low or vulgar, or to be hidden out of sight. What is needed is not self-concealment, but self-expression.

As it is the tendency of democracy to make humanity the centre of all thought, this tendency is seen in its literature. It is said by De Tocqueville: "There is one thought full of vigour and poetry. All that belongs to the existence of the human race taken as a whole, to its vicissitudes, and to its future, becomes an abundant mine of poetry. The poet will cease to deal with supernatural beings, but man remains, and the poet needs no more. He will become himself the chief theme of poetry." * We may thus expect to find in democratic literature only humanitarian ideals.

* Of these tendencies to glorify all that is human, man's aspirations, passions, and appetites, Algernon Swinhurne and Walt Whitman may be regarded as truest representatives. Swinburne has been called "aneo-pagan." His attitude toward Christ may be judged of by the following lines:

"Though before thee the throned Cytherean
Be fallen, and hidden her head.
Yet thy kingdom shall pass, Galilean,
Thy dead shall go down to the dead."

His attitude toward naturalism is seen in his "Poems and Ballads," afterwards suppressed by the publisher because of their erotic character, but reprinted in New York under the title, Law Veneris.

The same naturalistic spirit is seen in Whitman in even greater degree. He is a defender of the rights of nature. If a human being is to be honoured, let him be honoured in every part of his being, in every organ and function and natural act of the body. Our age wants real men who act out what is in them, and are not ruled by conventionalities. The humanity of to-day cannot be bound by any restrictions, religious, social, political, of the past. The ideal of Whitman is the naked natural man. He has no fear of vulgarity, he cherishes no aristocratic modesty. As partaking of a Divine nature, let man show himself as he is; let him gratify its impulses, higher and lower, its aspirations, its appetites. Thus only do we see the real man in place of the artificial. The true hero is he who dares to follow nature, and assert his Divinity.

Outside of humanity we need not look. We must rise into higher conceptions of its goodness and dignity, and of the possibilities of the future. A religion that degrades it by its doctrines of sin and atonement, is to be put away. •i I. We now come to consider recent literature as affected by the agnostic and pantheistic spirit.

Of this spirit traces may be found in the literature of all ages; but in Christendom it appears most visibly in that of the present century. It was said by De Tocqueville: "The Germans introduced pan theism into philosophy, and the French into literature. Most of the works of imagination published in France contained some opinions, or some tinges, caught from pantheistic doctrines, or they disclose some tendency to such doctrines." But the same tendency was seen earlier in the German Goethe (174JM832), of whom Heine says: "All his works were saturated with the same spirit that breathes in the works of Spinoza." For Goethe Thomas Carlyle had a great admiration, regarding him "as by far the notablest of all literary men for a hundred years." Expressions respecting nature, and man's relations to it, may be found in the early poems of Coleridge and Wordsworth, which may be interpreted as pantheistic, though both repudiated pantheism and were firm believers in the Christian faith. Shelley was an avowed atheist, but many of his poems are pantheistic.

Without mentioning earlier writers, no names are more prominent in the literature of the last few years than those of Thomas Carlyle, R. W. Emerson, and Matthew Arnold. The influence of Thomas Carlyle in literature has been very great. What is the religious character of this influence? Carlyle does not avow himself a pantheist, and may perhaps be more fitly classed as an agnostic. Whether he wholly disbelieved in a personal God, it is hard to say; since his early religious training continued to the last to have much power over him, and his language is so indefinite. The distinguished and impartial critic, R. H. Hutton, (" Contemporary Thought and Thinkers,") speaks of "his ambiguous religious jargon, the meaning of which it was impossible to define"; but he adds that "the effect of his pantheistic practice of substituting 'the Immensities' and ' the Eternities' in place of Almighty God, was even more disastrous to his numerous devotees than a blank assertion that He was ' unknown and unknowable.'" All his writings make the impression that he saw no personal God ruling in the universe, and no Divine purpose founded on the Incarnation, but only a Force omnipresent and omnipotent. He asks, changing the words of the Psalmist: "Knowest thou any corner of the world where Force is not?" Personal immortality he seems to have denied or ignored.* Of Jesus Christ he makes little mention, and apparently regarded Him only as an ethical teacher, whose work was ended at His death. That He lives, and will come again to earth to judge the quick and dead, he regarded as a dream, believed only by visionaries. Religion is communion with "the mysterious, invisible Power visibly seen at work in the world." Of his heroes ("Heroes and Hero Worship") as incarnations of Force, we shall later have occasion to speak.

What has been said of the pantheism of Carlyle may be said in fuller measure of R. W. Emerson's pantheism. It lies at the basis of all his essays and poems, and finds frequent and undisguised expression; but he does not state it in any clear and definite terms. But as has been said by Mr. Manning ("Half Truths and The Truth"): "When he uses the words soul, spirit, mind, intellect, we shall find that he does not refer to anything individual or personal, but to an all-surrounding, all-filling substance, which he calls Divine, and regards as constituting the whole of reality." This seems a right inference from Emerson's words: "The ultimate fact we reach on every topic is the resolution of the All into the ever-blessed One." "There is one mind common to all individual men. . . . This universal mind is the only and sovereign agent." "One blood rolls uninterruptedly in endless circulation through all men; as the water of the globe is all one sea, and, truly seen, its tide is one."

* In the Life of Tennyson he is reported as saying to the poet in regard to immortality: "Eh! Old Jewish rags, you must get clear of all that."

These quotations, and those before made in another relation, sufficiently show the spirit which breathes in all his writings. It is not we as pure personalities who live and act, but the great "Over-soul," the "World-soul," the " Universal-mind," which lives and acts in us. This unity of nature with the Divine World-soul makes us Divine. In his own words: "Empedocles undoubtedly speaks a truth of thought when he said: 'I am God.'" Jesus could use the same words of Himself, but was no more God than we all are gods; and the highest conduct of life is always to speak and act in the consciousness of our Divinity. It is said by R. H. Hutton that " Emerson is contemptuous of the pretensions of special access to God, and this when he speaks of Christ and Christianity." All men have equal access to the Universal Spirit, and the Christian religion and its Founder have no advantage over others. All religions are equally Divine; "all the necessary and structural action of the human mind." The same pantheistic spirit appears in his poems.

The religious position of Mr. Arnold is well known. He asserts (" Literature and Dogma," " God and the Bible,") that "the world cannot do without Christianity, but cannot do with it as it is." What modifications then does he propose? He will retain the word "God," but he means by it, "the Eternal not ourselves, that makes for righteousness ;" not a person, but a Power, impersonal, unconscious, unintelligent. Having thus set aside the Christian God, the Lord Christ must also be set aside, "His magical birth and resurrection and ascension." So also all miracles. "In miracles we are dealing with the unreal world of fairy-tale." The Bible, deprived of all its supernatural elements, and of a large part of its historical truth, has still, in his eyes, a literary value, and may have a good moral influence upon the masses, especially the Gospels, which contain the Lord's ethical teachings. But of such beliefs as of the fall of man, the existence of angels, good or evil, of the resurrection, and apparently, also, of any life after death, we must rid ourselves.

Turning now to the poets of our day -- Of Tennyson it is said by Mr. Van Dyke ("The Poetry of Tennyson "): "His theology has been accused of a pantheistic tendency, and it cannot be denied that there are expressions in his poems which seem to look in that direction." But Mr. Van Dyke affirms that the poet "believed in a living, personal, spiritual God, immanent in the universe, but not confused with it." This seems to be a fair judgment. He also believed in the personality and free will of man, as he expresses himself in the line —

"Our wills are ours, to make them Thine " —

and in personal immortality. But while Tennyson held these high truths, his position as to the great distinctive fact of Christianity — the Incarnation — and to the Person of the living Lord, and to His future work, is not clear. His belief as to the future of humanity seems to be based rather on evolution than on the Divine purpose in Jesus Christ, in whom the creation will find its perfection and glory.

"The one far-off, divine event
To which the whole creation moves,"

is rather the old creation gradually developed, than the work of the Son when, sitting on His throne, He makes all things new. When he speaks of "bringing in the Christ that is to be," he apparently speaks of the wider diffusion of a Christian spirit, and not of His return and kingdom.

In Browning we meet so much obscurity of expression as to leave the reader in doubt as to his religious belief. Prof. Dowden calls him " a Christian pantheist." Mrs. Orr, author of a "Life of Robert Browning," says in "The Contemporary" (Dec, 1891): "Mr. B. neither was nor could be at the time of which I speak" (the later years of his life), "a Christian in the orthodox sense of the word, for he rejected the antithesis of good and evil, which orthodox Christianity holds; he held in common with the pantheists, though without reference to them, that every form of moral existence is required for a complete human world. ... He spurned the doctrine of eternal damnation with his whole being as incompatible with the attributes of God; and since inexorable Divine judgment had no part in his creed, the official Mediator or Redeemer was also excluded from it. . . But he never ceased to believe in Christ as, mystically or by Divine miracle, a manifestation of Divine love. . . . The one consistent part of his heterodoxy was its exclusion of any belief in Revelation." As to immortality, "his habitual condition was that of simple hope," and as to its nature, " it was simply a continuance of the life begun on earth, and involved neither conditions of fitness, nor possibility of exclusion. But it clearly borrowed nothing from the words of Christ."*

We see in Browning, as in Carlyle, the influence of his early religious training continuing though a great change in his dogmatic beliefs had taken place; and also, what is little seen in Carlyle, and still less in Emerson, the need felt of a Christ to stand as the Image and Representative of a far-removed Supreme Being, and sorrow that He lives no longer in his faith.

Of lesser modern poets it is said by Miss Vida Scudder (" Life of the Spirit") that Clough was "intellectually an agnostic, though with a dim hope that there is a God." Rosetti " never questioned, but never believed." "He had a solemn sense of a vast encompassing mystery, but lacked all conviction." In Morris is " no religious element." She adds, " To many modern imaginations the two thousand years of Christianity seem a parenthesis in the world's story, a dream that is passing away."

We pass now to the novelists. One of the marked literary features of our day is the great multiplication of works of fiction. They constitute a very large part of the popular reading, and have great influence since there are presented in them under imaginative forms the current ideas of the day as they enter into the thoughts and feelings of daily life, and so affect moral conduct.

*We may conclude with Mrs. Orr, that "Mr. Browning's Theism was more definite than his Christianity ;" hut his God was at best "a colourless omnipotence or a power combined with will." It need not be said that while he speaks of Christ as showing forth love, he rejects Him as a sacrifice for sin, and a Mediator between God and man. Of the living Christ, and of the future life as dependent upon resurrection. he knows nothing

Whilst some portray the past, most deal with the present, and reflect in their pages its agitations and strifes, its longings and hopes, its doubts and fears. In many we find discussions of leading topics, economical, social, religious, — the relations of the rich and poor, of the sexes, of marriage and divorce, of woman suffrage, of the inspiration of the Bible, of the nature and future of religion. Some treat of occult forces, of the unseen world, of eastern pantheism, of theosophy, of spiritism, of hypnotism, of re-incarnation. Others still present their theories as to the relation of mind and body, of mental healing, of Christian science, of heredity; and some give vivid pictures of the present social evils, and of a future perfected society.

Amidst such a variety of themes, presented from many points of view, we find no principle of unity, unless it be that of the progress of the race. Whilst there is seen in most discontent with the present conditions of human life, it is assumed that if these conditions can be changed, human nature will develop itself in such richness and beauty as the world has not yet seen.

In this department of literature, as in those already spoken of, we find dominant the humanitarian element; man's duties to God are summed up in his duties to his fellow man. Beneficence is Christianity. Of this form of humanitarianism Dickens is a leading representative. In not a few, when Christianity is alluded to, it is only as a hard, narrow, exclusive religion, from which men must be emancipated if they would be truly free. Its restraints are burdensome, its morality is ascetic.

With this humanitarianism agnosticism is often combined. The most eminent instance of this is George Eliot. Of her writings she herself says: "My books have for their main bearing or conclusion, that the fellowship between man and man, which has been the principle of development, social and moral, is not dependent upon conceptions of what is not God; and that the idea of God, so far as it has been a high spiritual influence, is the idea of a goodness purely human, i.e., an exaltation of the human." Her biographer, G. W. Cook (Sterling edition of her works, 1887), says of her: "The speculative part of religion she did not believe in, and it was only the humanitarian and emotional side of it which interested her. . . . The elevation of humanity was what she sought for as the meaning of all religion." But it was not in any work of Christ, past or future, that she looked for this elevation. He was to her as nonexistent.*

Of other individual novelists we have no space to speak. That many have great literary merit, and are good and wholesome in their influence, need not be denied; but the question before us is whether, taken as a whole, their influence is friendly or hostile to biblical Christianity.

*Some extracts from her biography will give a clearer idea of George Eliot's religious position. Of herself she says: "For years of my youth I dwelt in dreams of a pantheistic sort, but I have travelled far away from that." But if she gave up her pantheism, she did not come into any clear belief of a personal Deity. It is said by Mr. Cook that "she had not gained a more distinct and positive idea of God. . . . The moral sanctions for her did not grow out of belief, and she did not find it essential for any of the higher purposes of life." "In her emotions she found the sanctions for religion." It is said also by Mr. Cook that she did not believe in any personal existence in the future. Of the three terms, God, Immortality, Duty, she pronounced the first to be "inconceivable"; the second, "unbelievable"; the third, "peremptory and absolute."

Does their perusal tend to deepen, or to efface the sense of sin; to elevate Christ as the Redeemer, or to make the work of redemption on the cross unnecessary and unmeaning, and to loosen the bonds of a sound morality? Do they enforce Christian views of life, exalt the homely virtues of contentment, patience, forgiveness? Are their highest types of character those having in highest degree the likeness of Jesus? Do they foster the spirit of selfdeification in man, or awaken in him earnest desires for that condition of immortality and glory into which the Lord would exalt him? It is these, and the like questions, which must determine the bearing of this form of literature upon the Christian faith.

II. We will now turn to the Periodical Press. . Great as is the power of the periodical press, including under this term all magazines and newspapers, there seems good reason to believe that it will be still greater in the days to come. The number of periodicals continually increases, reaching all classes, and necessarily affecting in greater or less degree their opinions and beliefs. Noting the present tendencies, we may ask what part this periodical literature will probably play in the great contest between Christianity and anti-Christianity.

In considering the matter, there are some points which are to be kept in mind. One of these is that most of these periodicals are printed to be sold; and that to be sold, their matter must be suited to the popular taste. Large sums of money are often invested in them; and it is very rare that their owners will maintain them at a pecuniary loss. This is sometimes done by religious or other organizations in order to have an organ; and occasionally by individuals who are zealous to diffuse some special opinions. But in general it is true that a periodical, whether its circle of readers be small or large, to bo pecuniarily successful, must reflect their beliefs and opinions. In this respect it stands upon the same footing as any kind of manufacture which must meet the tastes of its purchasers.

An exemption from the law of supply and demand is often claimed for the press on the ground that it ministers to mental, not to physical needs; and that its high function is to enlighten the public mind by the diffusion of truth. It is obvious of what great benefit the periodical press might be if it fulfilled this high function. But to do this it must be in the hands of truth-loving, unprejudiced, and able men; men who value the true and the good above their pecuniary interests, and of such men only. This, all know, is not the case. Any man who is able to provide himself with type and press and to hire writers and helpers, can set up himself as a popular teacher, no matter what his motives, or principles, or personal character may be. There is no limit to the multiplication of periodicals but that of pecuniary inability to print, or want of readers. As there are in every community varying degrees of culture, intellectual and moral, we may expect to see a corresponding variety of periodicals. Unprincipled men will be found who will print what the lowest and vilest ask for, caring nothing for morality or the interests of society. The only restraint upon them is the law, and its penalties are little feared.

It needs no argument to show that periodicals are very efficient means of both good and evil, but we may not overrate this efficiency. There is a popular current of thought and feeling—the spontaneous judgment of the multitude — which they must follow. The press cannot create the spirit of an age, it can only give it utterance. Its power lies in its ability to give publicity to principles and movements, or to withhold it. According to its position it may proclaim or may ignore vital truths and facts; may give prominence to events and to men, or pass them by in silence.*

We may note, also, that the periodical press regards all subjects as coming within its sphere,— sacred and secular, — everything which affects humanity. Nothing is too high or too low. It sits in judgment upon all men, upon all questions; and its judgments are often uttered in a very dogmatic way as irreversible.

With these general observations upon the character and position of the periodical press, we reach the point of especial interest to us, on what side, judging from present indications, will its influence be cast in the coming contest of Christ with His great enemy. Those who believe that Christian principles are gradually to take possession of the mind of the race will naturally regard the press as an important, and indeed, indispensable means to this end; and as now taking upon itself more and more a Christian character.

* How far the publicity given by the newspapers to crimes of all kinds tends to increase them, is a question often discussed; but the fact can scarcely be denied. We are thus made acquainted with things of which we were better ignorant, and the knowledge of which leaves a moral stain which we may strive in vain to wash out. This is true in highest degree of children, who through the daily or weekly newspaper are made familiar with forms of vice which should be known to those only who have some right to the knowledge. This publicity is beyond doubt a powerful factor in the increase of crime; and likely to become still more powerful in the future, as the depraved appetite grows by what it feeds upon.

But those who accept the teachings of the Lord and of His Apostles respecting the apostasy, as they have been already stated, can hardly fail to see in it a very powerful means of helping on the apostasy by its diffusion of antichristian teachings. It must be borne in mind that this teaching will not be acknowledged by its teachers, at least for a time, as antichristian. It will be presented as in fact the true Christianity, only those doctrines and forms being put aside which our age has outgrown; a modified Christianity suited to the nineteenth century. In the interest of truth and of religion we are bid to leave the old and press on to the new.

The first step is thus the free utterance of the new; and to this end the pages of our periodicals must be open to all, and this is now in good measure the case. Almost any man who has a certain degree of literary ability, can present in them his special opinion or belief upon any subject, including religion. It is thought true liberalism to give largest freedom in discussing and even controverting the cardinal doctrines of Christianity. Of course there are some fixed beliefs as to morality which may not be controverted. It is not yet permitted to defend free love, or to advocate theft. But as regards religion there seems to be no restriction to the liberty of utterance. The columns of not a few of our magazines and newspapers are open to those who deny any God, any revelation of a Divine will, any life after death. Principles are continually defended which subvert Christianity; and it seems to be generally accepted that, as this is the day of free thought, whatever a man thinks he may express; and, therefore, should have a place for its expression.

The significance of all this we may not underestimate. It is practically saying that as to religion, nothing is to be regarded as settled. We have not yet attained to the perfect truth, but are seeking after it. Christianity, like other religions, is under trial. But this negative position is not long tenable, and is gradually changing to one more positively hostile to Christianity. The effect of such discussion upon the popular mind must be to breed doubts, and to lead, if not to absolute unbelief, to agnosticism and spiritual apathy.

We can easily see from present tendencies how the periodical press may become a very powerful instrument in preparing the way of the Antichrist. Some may think that this will be counteracted by the Christian press.* But we have seen that secular periodicals must in general, upon pecuniary grounds, adapt themselves to the changes in public opinion; and this is the case also with the religious. To this there will be some exceptions, but as a whole they cannot be relied upon to defend "the faith once for all delivered to the saints." We see already in not a few, illustrations how this change of position from the defense to the denial of Christianity,— first to its modification, and then to its rejection,— can be effected, and yet be almost unperceived.

* Of the newspapers called religious, most are organs of sects or parties, and play a chief part in perpetuating the divisions of the Church. As their pecuniary success depends on the maintenance of the sectarian spirit, their readers learn from them very little of truth in regard to other sects, and often have their minds set against their brethren by misrepresentation of their principles and action. There is thus fostered in the readers of these journals a narrowness of spirit which forbids that unity of doctrine, of action, and of worship, which is the duty of the Church as Catholic under its one Head. 11

Some old Christian doctrine is seen to be in contradiction to some new, popular philosophic or scientific teaching, and to be losing its hold upon the faith of men; shall it be re-affirmed and defended? But this involves unpopularity, and perhaps pecuniary loss. The easier way is to give the offensive doctrine some new interpretation, and so better adapt it to other current thought; or to keep silence respecting it, and let it quietly die out of men's beliefs. Illustrations of this process may be seen in regard to the doctrines of Satan and evil spirits, of the resurrection of the body, and of the personal return of the Lord, which are already more and more ignored. To these, other doctrines may be gradually added, as that of human sinfulness, of Christ's virgin birth, of atonement, of His resurrection, of His priesthood, till finally little more than the shell of Christianity is retained; and the Church suddenly awakes to find itself antichristian, as the Church in the fourth century suddenly awoke to find itself Arian. Thus the very journals which have been relied on as defenders of the faith, may become efficient instruments in preparing the minds of many for him who will claim to be the representative of a better religion.

As regards that portion of the press which now proposes to hold a position of neutrality in religious matters, and to treat Christianity only as one of many religions, and needing many modifications, we may expect that it will so affect popular opinion that it will be prepared to hail Antichrist as he in whom the religious spirit finds its highest embodiment. And if he attains such power as the Scriptures foretell, and none may buy or sell but with his permission, he will surely not leave the press uncontrolled. It will be permitted to say -only what he wishes to have said, and any utterances against him will be followed by swift and severe punishment.

Without mentioning other forms of modern literature, we may say in general that we see in them all the marks of a transition period. Modern Science has made prominent the questions, whether the Universe is not eternal, whether we are not to substitute inflexible and universal Law in place of a Divine personal Will, whether the chief study of man is not that of the forces of the universe, and their bearing upon human conduct, and what the antiquity of man, and his future, and the future of the earth. Modern Philosophy asks whether man must not be a part of God, and without personal freedom, and to be swallowed up again in the Divine substance. Thus Science and Philosophy have opened to Literature a new world. How shall its writers interpret life in the light of the new ideas ? — what its meaning ? — what its value? Doubts and questions arise on every hand. Few are assured of their position, and positive in their utterances. Some attempt to harmonize the old and new. Most hesitate and waver. Belief in a Divine Providence stands in contrast with a gloomy fatalism, the hope of a blessed immortality with dark forebodings of annihilation.

With the spread of the new ideas, which dethrone God and His Christ, literature must take on itself more and more an antichristian character. Its prophets and its poets will unite in their jubilations on the speedy coming of the new age, when the superstitious and narrow beliefs of the past will give place to a rational and comprehensive religion based on science and glorifying the Divinity of man. Then will literature as the interpeter of life, find in humanity its noblest theme, and reach the full measure of its capacity and power.

Though mention has been made only of English literature, it is believed that its general character represents that of all the nations of Christendom. We see in them all the same influences at work, though in different degrees, and modified by national characteristics. Readers of Tolstoi, of Tourgenieff, of Auerbach, of Ibsen, of George Sand, of Zola, to speak of no others, find themselves in a region which has little in common with Christianity.