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mother of three princely boys, whom Rajah Yayati cannot but acknowledge as his children. Here, then, we have the preliminary episode, which, at the risk of appearing to have wandered from our theme, we have given as briefly as possible, because it shows sufficiently that Rajah Yayati, who is to rise to be a type of a soul emancipated from selfish desire and from love of pleasure and fear of pain, is at the outset, to say the least, as much bound about and blinded by illusions of the senses and the fever of desire as are ordinary mortals.
But now that we have come to Rajah Yayati's punishment, we pass at once from an atmosphere of pleasant comedy into one of deep and tragic earnestness. The jealous and outraged Devayani rushes to her father, and demands vengeance upon her treacherous husband. The Brahman, looking sternly upon Yayati, who, like Adam in the garden, seeks to pass on the burthen of guilt to the woman who tempted him,' curses him, standing now in the full vigour and prime of manhood, with the decrepitude of premature old age. And Rajah Yayati cries out that his punishment is greater than he can bear-as yet. Like the sons of Lamech, he exclaims that he had never loved life and the joy of life enough; let him but say farewell to these delights ere they are withdrawn from him for ever. He will not rebel against his sentence; but give him but a few brief years of youth, that it may not be said the cup of life was withdrawn from his lips ere he had tasted it. His entreaties are so far successful, that he is permitted to exchange his hideous and infirm old age for the youth of anyone whom he can persuade to bear his punishment for him for a brief term of years. When the appointed time has expired, Rajah Yayati must restore the loan of youth, and take upon his own shoulders the punishment of old age. And now the unhappy rajah wanders forth amongst outcasts and starving wretches who are only less miserable than himself-they are less miserable, for not one of them, even when bribed by a kingdom, will consent to give their youth even for a few years in exchange for the repulsive infirmities of old age. At length, after many wanderings, Rajah Yayati comes to his own palace. By this time his sons have grown to men's estate, and Yayati thinks, surely those born of my heart will lend me the life they received from me? But Rajah Yayati sees his children shudder as they look upon him; and first one, and then another, refuses his request. Why did you offend this holy Brahman, my father?' asks the eldest. I am not attached to the pleasures of youth, but I desire wisdom; and old age deadens the mind." hunter; can an old man hold the bow?
The second son is a skilful
what smiles has a maiden for hideous age? The fourth would be a famous warrior. The fifth is proud, and cannot brook the scorn with which menials and children insult the aged. But Yayati, like Lear, has at least one devoted child. Puru, the youngest born of Sarmitha, will freely and gladly bear the burthen of his father's punishment: and give his youth, and strength, and ardour, not for a term of years only, but for so long as destiny may have allotted them to him. We
have not here space in which to quote Yayati's touching reproof to his four cold-hearted sons and his praise of Puru. He accepts the youth of his youngest son, but only for the time required to realise fully the value and delight of the world, to which he must so soon say farewell.
And now we have Rajah Yayati clothed in renewed youth, athirst for pleasure, and love, and wisdom, and power, and all that makes men cling to life. We are not allowed to think that he seeks only base enjoyments and animal pleasures. We are told that he becomes famous, not only for his splendour and luxury, but also for his many virtues and deeds of valour. All the sages and poets he calls to his court. He joins in stirring adventures, and carries on successful wars. And yet, before the term appointed has expired, he returns to his son Puru, and, offering him his youth, craves as a favour to receive again the once loathed punishment of age! This is what he
My son, clothed in thy youth, I have tasted the pleasures of sense, I have conquered all difficulties. I have used time and strength according to my own will. But this is what I have found the attainment of the thing desired does not quench desire; desire grows as a fire on which is poured clarified butter. If all the rice and barley, all the flocks, all the gold, all the beautiful women the earth contains, cannot satisfy the desire of one man, true wisdom is to put away desire altogether. This thirst, the foolish so vainly strive to slake, is never quenched: it does not grow when men grow old: it is a mortal fever happy he who is free from it! For me, I have passed many years attached to pleasures of the senses, and always amidst one enjoyment a thirst for new joys was awakened. Puru, I am content; take now thy youth and this empire. For me, I will put off desire, and, turning my face towards the Absolute Being, will dwell tranquilly in the home of the gazelles.
All the rice and barley, all the flocks, all the gold, all the beautiful women in the world, cannot satisfy the desire of one man! Is this the voice of Rajah Yayati, or of Thomas Carlyle prophesying to us from far away in the Eastern desert? But we shall have yet another reminiscence of Teufelsdrockh and his Baphometic Fire Baptism," ere we bid Rajah Yayati farewell.
Yayati, having passed on his kingdom to Puru, now uncomplainingly takes up his burthen of old age and departs for the lonely forests; and here, for many years, he leads the life of a religious penitent, becoming famous for his self-macerations; and at length, when death releases him, ascending from earth to Swarga. But it will be seen that he has not even yet attained perfection. His cruel self-macerations whilst on earth are still a subject of pride to him; and once, when Indra, the sky god, asks him, 'How is it, Rajah Yayati, that you have here a place amongst the immortals?' he answers, By virtue of my astounding penances, Indra. No man, and no god even, has inflicted upon himself such maceration.' 'Because you boast of your penances,' answers Indra, the merit of them
is exhausted. If you endured these self-mortifications only to obtain Swarga, you are not worthy to dwell amongst the immortals.' True and just, O Indra!' answers Rajah Yayati meekly; but if I must now fall from Swarga, let my fall be among just souls.' So Rajah Yayati is precipitated from heaven, and he falls into a region inhabited by just souls, whose virtues have raised them above the earth, but who are not yet sufficiently perfect to ascend to Swarga. The ruler of this region hastens to pay Rajah Yayati great honour, but he refuses to receive any homage. I am Yayati,' he says, "the son of Nahusha, the father of Puru, a man who has lost virtue, since he boasted of his great penances.' Then Ashtaka, the ruler amongst just souls, is amazed, and asks, Are not penances for the health of the soul?' Yayati answers:—
The man who possesses wealth honours Brahma with sacrifices; he who has intelligence studies the Vedas; the penitent macerates his body-all these escape illusions, and arrive at beatitude-but the wise do not boast that they have conquered Swarga by their penances. Swarga does not belong to the soul, but to destiny. .. I have fallen from Swarga, but I feel no pain or terror. The source of pain and pleasure is not in myself; all my strength then is put forth to remain untroubled by either. . . . One man says, 'I must give alms.' Sacrifice,' they command another. 'I must read the Vedas,' says a third. 'I must bind myself by a vow of penance,' observes a fourth. One must lay aside these restless fears. These practices are obstacles in the soul's path. What is best is to identify oneself with the Eternal Being, and to aspire to supreme quietude in this world and the next.
Ashtaka asks him what now must befall him. Yayati answers that he must sink into the abyss Naraka, where foul birds of prey will hunt him, and tear him with their beaks and talons. Ashtaka exclaims that Yayati shall not enter Naraka; he shall have his, Ashtaka's, place in Swarga! Yayati answers quietly that he has given alms to the Brahmans in his day, but that he himself does not receive alms. Then the just souls press round him, all eagerly imploring him not to enter Naraka; to allow them to suffer for him. He refuses, and says: Think not of saving me from suffering; but rather turn your hearts to the conquest of indifference to suffering.'
And so bidding them farewell-he is about to plunge into the dark abyss, when suddenly there appear in the air five flaming chariots! Yayati is to ascend with Ashtaka and his three friends to Swarga! But even so he is unmoved; and as the fire-chariots are ascending through the air, he says: Better than Swarga is it to possess one's soul in tranquillity.'
Here then we have the supreme spiritual triumph. The soul is raised, not alone above Gehenna and its terrors, but above Swarga and its beatitude. It was of the pangs of Tophet that Teufelsdrockh asked himself: Hast thou not a heart? Canst thou not bear whatsoever it be?' But Rajah Yayati, ascending in his fire-chariot to endless bliss, can say to himself of this also: Art thou not a soul? Wilt thou be greatly moved, or elated, be it what it may ?'
THE IRISH LAND QUESTION.
ARGE as the Irish Land question is, it cannot be properly appre
L hended unless as a branch of a larger one. It is neither a Land
question only, nor an Irish question only. It has deep roots in the history of Ireland and the old wrongs of its native population, and the first and last thought of a great part of the Irish people is land; but it has roots also in the state of modern society-in the growing consciousness of popular strength, in the fact that the balance of power is altered, and that its centre is now among the many instead of the few-in ideas of equality from the new world, and of revolution from the old world, and in all that is commonly meant by democracy. It involves a problem not only as to the use of the national soil, and the relations of landlord and tenant, but as to the directions of legislation, and the tendency of modern society respecting State intervention. A keen observer of the most disturbed parts of Ireland, it is true, has lately said that the more that is seen of the people of the West, the more distinct becomes the conviction that the difficulty is rather economic than political, the complaints pouring in on every side referring not in the least to politics. Yet even in the remotest districts of Connaught the peasant is becoming conscious that his vote counts for more than his landlord's, that his representatives sit in Parliament, and that his cause is gaining ground. He is stirred, too, by a movement in the air of which he is hardly aware; his brothers and cousins have sent him something besides money from the Transatlantic Republic, and if he now raises his voice only about land, he knows that he can make it heard afar off. In less disturbed parts of the island nearer the eastern shore, the political element is distinctly perceptible; and Fenianism, which is at once the ally and the rival of the Land League, aims ultimately at more than the separation of Ireland from England. Nor is it in this sense only that more than an Irish land question is before us. What brings it so prominently to the front in England as the political question of the day is neither the recent distress nor the present agitation, for in both respects the state of the island has been worse in the memory of many. It is that in England, too, a new political spirit is astir; that landlords are no longer dominant over legislation about land; and, moreover, that there is a tendency to extend the control of the State to matters formerly left to private arrangement.
Down to recent years the course of legislation in this country, under the influence of the ideas of Adam Smith and his followers,
1 Letter of Special Commissioner of the Daily News, November 9.
seemed to indicate a contraction of the sphere of Government. The society of our day, said Sir Henry Maine twenty years ago, is mainly distinguished from that of preceding generations by the largeness of the sphere of contract, and the assumptions of political economy would fail to correspond with the facts of life, were it not true that imperative law had abandoned the largest part of the field it once occupied. This proposition is in marked contrast with that of German economists and publicists, who assume that, as a community ascends to higher stages of culture, the State enlarges its province and tends to include within its scope the whole of social life. Without going all lengths with this doctrine, we may perceive that State intervention is no longer circumscribed by the limits surrounding it when the maxim of laissez faire was at the height of its authority. A multitude of causes tend to widen the province and quicken the activity of Government. The public know more than they did about evils calling for remedy. The press has acquired greater influence, and social grievances and wants are more powerfully and constantly urged. There is really a keener desire for the welfare of the poorer classes, and a warmer sympathy with suffering. With the spread of equality some of the old fences around property, and even personal independence, have been removed. Aristocracy is distant, reserved, neither brooking interference with its own affairs, nor caring to meddle with those of others. Plutocracy, too, is averse from interference; it desires to make what bargains it pleases, to build wherever ground can be purchased by capital, to fill country and town with the smoke of tall chimneys, and to do what it wills with its own.
Democracy, on the contrary, is familiar, intrusive, meddlesome, and levelling. The interference of the Legislature last session, between landlord and tenant in England, and between employer and workman, was at once sign and effect of a change in the political constitution which will have further consequences. A number of new interests are gaining representation; new experiences and new political energies are called into play. The extension of the suffrage to women would undoubtedly lead to an increased activity of Government in many directions, some undreamt of at present by the most earnest advocates of Woman's Rights. The State is ever acquiring greater powers and energies, further and quicker sight, a longer arm, a more impulsive heart, and a more active if not a more vigorous brain. The most powerful individual can nowhere escape the eye of the public or the control of the law; and a deeper feeling of national unity, as opposed to that of rank or caste, helps to foster the idea of the right of the State, as the impersonation of the national power and will, to subordinate everything to the public good. A generation ago, the practice of impressment or conscription seemed to most Englishmen a monstrous violation of personal liberty; now it is certain that compulsory military service would be resorted to if the safety of the country required it. Those who regarded the