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About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (June 1, 1886)
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deeply interested in her, cannot love her. When this becomes
apparent she loses her hold of life nnd gradually fades away.
But the snake element loses power before death, and at last
ven the scar on her neck disappears; which, pcihaps, indi
bates that this baleful influence cannot extend beyond death.
" It must be admitted that persons born indcr such circum
stances as Elsie Vcnnor arc not morally responsible for their
acts. Then the question arises, may there not be actual con
ditions of life which, though not so abnormal, arc really as ef
fectual as the poison oi the crotalus in paralyzing the moral
forces of the mind? Is the criminal, born and reared in the
slums of society, to be held accountable for his acts, or should
the organization of society which makes such conditions pos
sible bear part of the responsibilty? Our author make"! Dr.
Kittridge say, "I will agree to take a hundred new born babes
of a certain stock and return seventy-five of them in a dozen
years, true and honest, if not pious children. And I will take
another hundred, ofa different stock, and put them in the
hands of certain teachers and seventy-five of them will be
thieves nnd liars at the cud of the same dozen years." Bui
if heredity and environment can so evidently determine the
characters of three-fourths of the human race, what becomes
of the doctrine of moral accountability?
There is another character in this story who deserves con
sideration in this connection. This is Elsie's cousin, Dick
Vennor. The author has little to say in his defense but leaves
him' to 'bear the responsibility of his deeds. His Spanish
blood and South American life naturally gave him a lawless
disposition and we should not be too hasty to condemn him
for showing little regard for the lights of others. With this
character, at least, the author has not exceeded the bounds of
probability, and if we admit that he is not altogether to blame
for his lack of moral sense, we accept a principle that must
go far in making us look leniently npon the wrong doings of
Atnong'thc minor characters of the story, the two ministers
deserve, attention; one trying to reconcile the severity of his
creed with his kindness of heart, the other straggling to adapt
the weakness of his mind with the independence of his
church. Holmes does not havo much respect for religious
dogma, and much of this work is in fact a pica for toleration.
He says "Men are tatoocd with their special beliefs like so
many South Sea Islanders; but a real human heart with divine
love in it, beats the same under all the patterns of all earth's
Holmes "would not be himself if he did not give a promi
nent place in the story to a doctor. Accordingly, we find Dr.
Kittredge an important character. He is the old physician of
the village, who has watched over the inhabitants for years
knowing their peculiarities and taking a paternal interest in
all of them. He keeps watch of Elsie, giving hints as to her
care which arc implicitly followed by all around her. He
perceives the danger to Langdon from Dick Vennor's jealousy
and warns the young teacher to be on his guard. When the
climax comes, and Dick lassoes his rival, it is the watchfulness
of the doctor's hired man, and Langdon's presence of mind,
that frustrate the evil scheme.
The book as a whole will not be greatly read for mere am
usement, but one who likes to think on the great questions of
existence will find much food for reflection in Elsie Vennor.
Students of history will be gratified to learn that the work
emitted Italy and her Invaders," by Thomas Hodgkin, has
recently 'been increased by two new volumes treating of "The
Ostrogothic Invasion" and "The Imperial Restoration."
The Univcisily library already contains the first two volumes
and those who have completed the Sophomore year in History
will testify to their value. The author combines the charm
of the novelist with the accuracy of the careful historian and
he is ficc from the objection raised against so many historical
writers that they arc dry and fail to interest the general read
er. Fresh and flowing in style, reliable in detail, Hodgkin's
work seems destined to take a high place as an authority up-
on an important period.
It is the proud and by no means groundless boast of Sq.
encc that her field is one of vast possibilities. Briarean-arm-cd
she is constantly reaching forth, enlarging her horizon,
probing deep mysteries and adding to her stores of knowl
edge. Each succeeding century brings with it the conquest of
new scientific fields, and the departments of material nature
afford an cxhaustlcss reservoir. It would seem to be the mis
fortune of Literature to be without such resources, to be com
pelled to depend for growth entirely upon those who make it
a profession. But a certain activity which manifests itself cv
cry now and then suggests a different idea.
It will be remembered that some two years since, Bishop
Bryennios oi the Greek church brought to light two manu
scripts of great anti'juily which at the time attracted great at
tention. The contribution of Bryennios, however, is but an
instance. The discovery of ancient manuscripts is a tributary
to the main stream of Literature which has continued to flow
for centuries. Just as in the physical sciences falso views arc
corrected and new ones established through the aid of inves
tigation, so in the various depaitments ot Bcllcslcttres great
advances have been made by recovering fragments of lost lit
erature. How important, for example, to Philology were the
Gothic manuscripts unearthed some three quarters of a centu
ry ago, or to textual criticism have been the discoveries oi
It is a melancholy fact tnat a large part of the literature o
the ancients is not now in our possession. In some cases there
is no hope of recovery. The Alexandrian library, with its
precious contents, is burned and the world suffers an irrepara
ble loss. The monks of the Middle Ages, with characteristic
stupidity, effacing the works of classic authors, use the parch
ments for their own worthless productions. In various ways
posterity has been robbed of its rightful heritage. But while
much has been destroyed, occasional -discoveries tell us that
much yet remains awaiting the eye of the .antiquarian. It
needs no argument to show the great importance of this liter
ature to us. Representing, as the authors do, a different civ
ilization from our own, different modes of thought, in a word,
a different life, theirworks arc valuable for comparison alone.
Philology, History and Literature owe much if not all that
they possess to legacies from the Past.
If then, so much has already been gained by these re
searches, may we not regard them as a source from which fur
ther material may be drawn? Must the future of Literature
depend upon modern writers alone? The study of Sanskrit
manuscripts led to the foundation of the science of Philology
and has profoundly influenced other lines of thought. What
forbids undei similar circumstances another intellectual revo
lution equally great? The field is broad and we have no rea
son to suppose that it is fully explored. We know not what
treasures may lie concealed in a neglected quarter of sonic
European city. The world may have much to learn, Liter
ature much to gain from manuscripts not yet exhumed.
2 too LINEN BOSOM SHIRTS, 50c, A MAYER BROS, iotu ST CLOTHIERS.
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