By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Practical Essays
Author: Bain, Alexander, 1818-1903
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Practical Essays" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

From images generously made available by Gallica
(Bibliothèque Nationale de France) at http://gallica.bnf.fr.








The present volume is in great part a reprint of articles contributed to
Reviews. The principal bond of union among them is their practical
character. Beyond that, there is little to connect them apart from the
individuality of the author and the range of his studies.

That there is a certain amount of novelty in the various suggestions
here embodied, will be admitted on the most cursory perusal. The farther
question of their worth is necessarily left open.

The first two essays are applications of the laws of mind to some
prevailing Errors.

The next two have an educational bearing: the one is on the subjects
proper for Competitive Examinations; the other, on the present position
of the much vexed Classical controversy.

The fifth considers the range of Philosophical or Metaphysical Study,
and the mode of conducting this study in Debating Societies.

The sixth contains a retrospect of the growth of the Universities, with
more especial reference to those of Scotland; and also a discussion of
the University Ideal, as something more than professional teaching.

The seventh is a chapter omitted from the author's "Science of
Education"; it is mainly devoted to the methods of self-education by
means of books. The situation thus assumed has peculiarities that admit
of being handled apart from the general theory of Education.

The eighth contends for the extension of liberty of thought, as regards
Sectarian Creeds and Subscription to Articles. The total emancipation of
the clerical body from the thraldom of subscription, is here advocated
without reservation.

The concluding essay discusses the Procedure of Deliberative Bodies. Its
novelty lies chiefly in proposing to carry out, more thoroughly than has
yet been done, a few devices already familiar. But for an extraordinary
reluctance in all quarters to adapt simple and obvious remedies to a
growing evil, the article need never have appeared. It so happens, that
the case principally before the public mind at present, is the deadlock
in the House of Commons; yet, had that stood alone, the author would not
have ventured to meddle with the subject. The difficulty, however, is
widely felt: and the principles here put forward are perfectly general;
being applicable wherever deliberative bodies are numerously constituted
and heavily laden with business.

ABERDEEN, _March_, 1884.




Error regarding Mind as a whole--that Mind can be exerted without bodily

Errors with regard to the FEELINGS.

I. Advice to take on cheerfulness.

Authorities for this prescription.

Presumptions against our ability to comply with it.

Concurrence of the cheerful temperament with youth and health.

With special corporeal vigour. With absence of care and anxiety.

Limitation of Force applies to the mind.

The only means of rescuing from dulness--to increase the supports and
diminish the burdens of life.

Difficulties In the choice of amusements

II. Prescribing certain tastes, or pursuits, to persons

Tastes must repose as natural endowment, or else in prolonged education.

III. Inverted relationship of Feelings and Imagination.

Imagination does not determine Feeling, but the reverse.

Examples:--Bacon, Shelley, Byron, Burke, Chalmers, the Orientals, the
Chinese, the Celt, and the Saxon.

IV. Fallaciousness of the view, that happiness is best gained by not
being aimed at.

Seemingly a self-contradiction.

Butler's view of the disinterestedness of Appetite.

Apart from pleasure and pain, Appetite would not move us.

Parallel from other ends of pursuit--Health.

Life has two aims--Happiness and Virtue--each to be sought directly on
its own account.

Errors connected with the WILL.

I. Cost of energy, of Will. Need of a suitable physical confirmation.

Courage, Prudence, Belief.

II. Free-will a centre of various fallacies.

Doctrines repudiated from the offence given to personal dignity.
Operation of this on the history of Free-will.

III. Departing from the usual rendering of a fact, treated as denying
the fact.

Metaphysical and Ethical examples.

Alliance of Mind and Matter.

Perception of a Material World.

IV. The terms Freedom and Necessity miss the real point of the human

V. Moral Ability and Inability.--Fallacy of seizing a question by the
wrong end.

Proper signification of Moral Inability--insufficiency of the ordinary
motives, but not of all motives.

       *       *       *       *       *



Meanings of Relativity--intellectual and emotional.

All impressions greatest at first. Law of Accommodation and habit.

The pleasure of rest presupposes toil.

Knowledge has its charm from previous ignorance.

Silence is of value, after excess of speech.

Previous pain not, in all cases, necessary to pleasure.

Simplicity of Style praiseworthy only under prevailing artificiality. To
extol Knowledge is to reprobate Ignorance.

Authority appealed to, when in our favour, repudiated when against us.

Fallacy of declaring all labour honourable alike.

The happiness of Justice supposes reciprocity.

Love and Benevolence need to be reciprocated.

The _moral nature_ of God--a fallacy of suppressed correlative

A perpetual miracle--a self-contradiction.

Fallacy that, in the world, everything is mysterious.

Proper meaning of Mystery.

Locke and Newton on the true nature of Explanation

The Understanding cannot transcend its own experience.--Time and Space,
their Infinity.

We can assimilate facts, and generalise the many into one. This alone
constitutes Explanation.

Example from Gravity: not now mysterious.

Body and Mind. In what ways the mysteriousness of their union might be
done away with.

       *       *       *       *       *




First official recommendation of Competitive Examinations.

Successive steps towards their adoption.

First absolutely open Competition--in the India Service.

Macaulay's Report on the subjects for examination and their values.

Table of Subjects. Innovations of Lord Salisbury.

An amended Table.


Doubts expressed as to the expediency of the competitive system.

Criticism of the present prescription for the higher Services.

The Commissioners' Scheme of Mathematics and Natural Science

Classification of the Sciences into Abstract or fundamental, and
Concrete or derivative.

Those of the first class have a fixed order, the order of dependence.

The other class is represented by the Natural History Sciences, which
bring into play the Logic of Classification.

Each of these is allied to one or other members of the primary Sciences.

The Commissioners' Table misstates the relationships of the various

The London University Scheme a better model.

The choice allowed by the Commissioners not founded on a proper

The higher Mathematics encouraged to excess.

Amended scheme of comparative values.

Position of Languages in the examinations.

The place in education of Language generally.

Purposes of Language acquisition.

Altered position of the Classical, languages.

Alleged benefits of these languages, after ceasing to be valuable in
their original use.

The teaching of the languages does not correspond to these secondary

Languages are not a proper subject for competition with a view to

For foreign service, there should be a pass examination in the languages

The training powers attributed to languages should be tested in its own

Instead of the Languages of Greece, Rome, &c., substitute the History
and Literature.

Allocation of marks under this view.

Objections answered.

Certain subjects should be obligatory.

       *       *       *       *       *




Attack on Classics by Combe, fifty years ago.

Alternative proposals at the present day:--

1. The existing system Attempts at extending the Science course under
this system.

2. Remitting Greek in favour of a modern language. A defective

3. Remitting both Latin and Greek in favour of French and German.

4. Complete bifurcation of the Classical and the Modern sides.

The Universities must be prepared to admit a thorough modern alternative

Latin should not be compulsory in the modern side.

Defences of Classics.

The argument from the Greeks knowing only their own language--never

Admission that the teaching of classics needs improvement.

Alleged results of contact with the great authors of Greece and
Rome--unsupported by facts.

Amount of benefit attainable without knowledge of originals.

The element of training may be obtained from modern languages.

The classics said to keep the mind free from party bias.

Canon Liddon's argument in favour of Greek as a study.

       *       *       *       *       *



Metaphysics here taken as comprising Psychology, Logic, and their
dependent sciences.

Importance of the two fundamental departments.

The great problems, such as Free-will and External Perception should be
run up into systematic Psychology.

Logic also requires to be followed out systematically.

Slender connection of Logic and Psychology.

Derivative Sciences:--Education.

Aesthetics--a corner of the larger field of Human Happiness

The treatment of Happiness should be dissevered from Ethics

Adam Smith's loose rendering of the conditions of happiness

Sociology--treated, partly in its own field, and partly as a derivative
of Psychology.

Through it lies the way to Ethics.

The sociological and the ethical ends compared.

Factitious applications of Metaphysical study.

Bearings on Theology, as regards both attack and defence.

Incapable of supplying the place of Theology.

Polemical handling of Metaphysics.

Methodised Debate in the Greek Schools.

Much must always be done by the solitary thinker.

Best openings for Polemic:--Settling' the meanings of terms.

Discussing the broader generalities.

The Debate a light for mastery, and ill-suited for nice adjustments.

The Essay should be a centre of amicable co-operation, which would have
special advantages.

Avoidance of such debates as are from their very nature interminable.

       *       *       *       *       *



The Higher Teaching in Greece.

The Middle Age and Boëthius.

Eve of the University.

Separation of Philosophy from Theology.

The Universities of Scotland founded--their history.

First Period.--The Teaching Body.

The Subjects taught and manner of teaching.

Second Period.--The Reformation.

Modified Curriculum--Andrew Melville.

Attempted reforms in teaching.

System of Disputation.

Improvements constituting the transition to the Third Period.

The Universities and the political revolutions.

How far the Universities are essential to professional teaching:
perennial alternative of Apprenticeship.

The Ideal Graduate.

       *       *       *       *       *



Study more immediately supposes learning from Books.

The Greeks did not found an Art of Study, but afforded examples:

Quintilian's "Institutes" a landmark.

Bacon's Essay on Studies. Hobbes.

Milton's Tractate on Education.

Locke's "Conduct of the Understanding" very specific as to rules of

Watts's work entitled "The Improvement of the Mind".

What an Art of Study should attempt.

Mode of approaching it.

I. First Maxim--"Select a Text-book-in-chief".

Violations of the maxim: Milton's system.

Form or Method to be looked to, in the chief text-book.

The Sciences. History.

Non-methodical subjects.

Repudiation of plans of study by some.

Merits to be sought in a principal Text-book.

Question as between old writers and new.

Paradoxical extreme--one book and no more.

Single all-sufficing books do not exist.

Illustration from Locke's treatment of the Bible.

II. "What constitutes the study of a book?"

1. Copying literally:--Defects of this plan.

2. Committing to memory word for word.

Profitable only for brief portions of a book.

Memory in extension and intension.

3. Making Abstracts.

Variety of modes of abstracting.

4. Locke's plan of reading.

A sense of Form must concur with abstracting.

Example from the Practice of Medicine.

Example from the Oratorical Art

Choice of a series of Speeches to begin upon.

An oratorical scheme essential.

Exemplary Speeches.

Illustration from the oratorical quality of negative tact. Macaulay's
Speeches on Reform.

Study for improvement in Style.

III. Distributing the Attention in Reading.

IV. Desultory Reading.

V. Proportion of book-reading to Observation at first hand.

VI. Adjuncts of Reading.--Conversation.

Original Composition.

       *       *       *       *       *



Pursuit of Truth has three departments:--order of nature, ends of
practice, and the supernatural.

Growth of Intolerance. How innovations became possible.

In early society, religion a part of the civil government.

Beginnings of toleration--dissentients from the State Church.

Evils attendant on Subscription:--the practice inherently fallacious.

Enforcement of creeds nugatory for the end in view.

Dogmatic uniformity only a part of the religious character: element of

Recital of the general argument for religious liberty.

Beginnings of prosecution for heresy in Greece:--Anaxagoras, Socrates,
Plato, Aristotle.

Forced reticence in recent times:--Carlyle, Macaulay, Lyell.

Evil of disfranchising the Clerical class.

Outspokenness a virtue to be encouraged.

Special necessities of the present time: conflict of advancing knowledge
with the received orthodoxy.

Objections answered:--The Church has engaged itself to the State to
teach given tenets.

Possible abuse of freedom by the clergy.

The history of the English Presbyterian Church exemplifies the absence
of Subscription.

Various modes of transition from the prevailing practice.

       *       *       *       *       *



Growing evil of the intolerable length of Debates.

Hurried decisions might be obviated by allowing an interval previous to
the vote.

The oral debate reviewed.--Assumptions underlying it, fully examined.

Evidence that, in Parliament, it is not the main engine of persuasion.

Its real service is to supply the newspaper reports.

Printing, without speaking, would serve the end in view.

Proposal to print and distribute beforehand the reasons for each Motion.

Illustration from decisions on Reports of Committees.

Movers of Amendments to follow the same course.

Further proposal to give to each member the liberty of circulating a
speech in print, instead of delivering it.

The dramatic element in legislation much thought of.

Comparison of the advantages of reading and of listening.

The numbers of backers to a motion should be proportioned to the size of
the assembly.

Absurdity of giving so much power to individuals.

In the House of Commons twenty backers to each bill not too many.

The advantages of printed speeches. Objections.

Unworkability of the plan in Committees. How remedied.

In putting questions to Ministers, there should be at least ten backers.

How to compensate for the suppression of oratory in the
House:--Sectional discussions.

The divisions occasioned at one sitting to be taken at the beginning of
the next.

Every deliberative body must be free to determine what amount of
speaking it requires.

The English Parliamentary system considered as a model.

Lord Derby and Lord Sherbrooke on the extension of printing.

Defects of the present system becoming more apparent.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Notes and References in connection with Essay VIII. on Subscription_

First imposition of Tests after the English Reformation.

Dean Milman's speech in favour of total abolition of Tests.

Tests in Scotland: Mr. Taylor Innes on the "Law of Creeds".

Resumption of Subscription in the English Presbyterian Church.

Other English Dissenting Churches.

Presbyterian Church in the United States.

French Protestant Church--its two divisions.

Switzerland:--Canton of Valid.

Independent Evangelical Church of Neuchatel.

National Protestant Church of Geneva.

Free Church of Geneva. Germanic Switzerland.

Hungarian Reformed Church.

Germany:--Recent prosecutions for heresy.

Holland:--Calvinists and Modern School.

       *       *       *       *       *



On the prevailing errors on the mind, proposed to be considered in this
paper, some relate to the Feelings, others to the Will.

In regard to Mind as a whole, there are still to be found among us some
remnants of a mistake, once universally prevalent and deeply rooted,
namely, the opinion that mind is not only a different fact from
body--which is true, and a vital and fundamental truth--but is to a
greater or less extent independent of the body. In former times, the
remark seldom occurred to any one, unless obtruded by some extreme
instance, that to work the mind is also to work a number of bodily
organs; that not a feeling can arise, not a thought can pass, without a
set of concurring bodily processes. At the present day, however, this
doctrine is very generally preached by men of science. The improved
treatment of the insane has been one consequence of its reception. The
husbanding of mental power, through a bodily _régime_, is a no less
important application. Instead of supposing that mind is something
indefinite, elastic, inexhaustible,--a sort of perpetual motion, or
magician's bottle, all expenditure, and no supply,--we now find that
every single throb of pleasure, every smart of pain, every purpose,
thought, argument, imagination, must have its fixed quota of oxygen,
carbon, and other materials, combined and transformed in certain
physical organs. And, as the possible extent of physical transformation
in each person's framework is limited in amount, the forces resulting
cannot be directed to one purpose without being lost for other purposes.
If an extra share passes to the muscles, there is less for the nerves;
if the cerebral functions are pushed to excess, other functions have to
be correspondingly abated. In several of the prevailing opinions about
to be criticised, failure to recognise this cardinal truth is the prime
source of mistake.

       *       *       *       *       *

To begin with the FEELINGS.

I. We shall first consider an advice or prescription repeatedly put
forth, not merely by the unthinking mass, but by men of high repute: it
is, that with a view to happiness, to virtue, and to the accomplishment
of great designs, we should all be cheerful, light-hearted, gay.

I quote a passage from the writings of one of the Apostolic Fathers, the
Pastor of Hermas, as given in Dr. Donaldson's abstract:--

"Command tenth affirms that sadness is the sister of doubt, mistrust,
and wrath; that it is worse than all other spirits, and grieves the Holy
Spirit. It is therefore to be completely driven away, and, instead of
it, we are to put on cheerfulness, which is pleasing to God. 'Every
cheerful man works well, and always thinks those things which are good,
and despises sadness. The sad man, on the other hand, is always


Dugald Stewart inculcates Good-humour as a means of happiness and
virtue; his language implying that the quality is one within our power
to appropriate.

In Mr. Smiles's work entitled "Self-Help," we find an analogous strain
of remarks:--

"To wait patiently, however, man must work cheerfully. Cheerfulness is
an excellent working quality, imparting great elasticity to the
character. As a Bishop has said, 'Temper is nine-tenths of
Christianity,' so are cheerfulness and diligence [a considerable
make-weight] nine-tenths of practical wisdom."

Sir Arthur Helps, in those essays of his, combining profound observation
with strong genial sympathies and the highest charms of style,
repeatedly adverts to the dulness, the want of sunny light-hearted
enjoyment of the English temperament, and, on one occasion, piquantly
quotes the remark of Froissart on our Saxon progenitors: "They took
their pleasures sadly, as was their fashion; _ils se divertirent moult
tristement à la mode de leur pays_"

There is no dispute as to the value or the desirableness of this
accomplishment. Hume, in his "Life," says of himself, "he was ever
disposed to see the favourable more than the unfavourable side of
things; a turn of mind which it is more happy to possess than to be born
to an estate of ten thousand a year". This sanguine, happy temper, is
merely another form of the cheerfulness recommended to general adoption.

I contend, nevertheless, that to bid a man be habitually cheerful, he
not being so already, is like bidding him treble his fortune, or add a
cubit to his stature. The quality of a cheerful, buoyant temperament
partly belongs to the original cast of the constitution--like the bone,
the muscle, the power of memory, the aptitude for science or for music;
and is partly the outcome of the whole manner of life. In order to
sustain the quality, the physical (as the support of the mental) forces
of the system must run largely in one particular channel; and, of
course, as the same forces are not available elsewhere, so notable a
feature of strength will be accompanied with counterpart weaknesses or
deficiencies. Let us briefly review the facts bearing upon the point.

The first presumption in favour of the position is grounded in the
concomitance of the cheerful temperament with youth, health, abundant
nourishment. It appears conspicuously along with whatever promotes
physical vigour. The state is partially attained during holidays, in
salubrious climates, and health-bringing avocations; it is lost, in the
midst of toils, in privation of comforts, and in physical prostration.
The seeming exception of elated spirits in bodily decay, in fasting, and
in ascetic practices, is no disproof of the general principle, but
merely the introduction of another principle, namely, that we can feed
one part of the system at the expense of degrading and prematurely
wasting others.


A second presumption is furnished also from our familiar experience. The
high-pitched, hilarious temperament and disposition commonly appear in
company with some well-marked characteristics of corporeal vigour. Such
persons are usually of a robust mould; often large and full in person,
vigorous in circulation and in digestion; able for fatigue, endurance,
and exhausting pleasures. An eminent example of this constitution was
seen in Charles James Fox, whose sociability, cheerfulness, gaiety, and
power of dissipation were the marvel of his age. Another example might
be quoted in the admirable physical frame of Lord Palmerston. It is no
more possible for an ordinarily constituted person to emulate the flow
and the animation of these men, than it is to digest with another
person's stomach, or to perform the twelve labours of Hercules.

A third fact, less on the surface, but no less certain, is, that the men
of cheerful and buoyant temperament, as a rule, sit easy to the cares
and obligations of life. They are not much given to care and anxiety as
regards their own affairs, and it is not to be expected that they should
be more anxious about other people's. In point of fact, this is the
constitution of somewhat easy virtue: it is not distinguished by a
severe, rigid attention to the obligations and the punctualities of
life. We should not be justified in calling such persons selfish; still
less should we call them cold-hearted: their exuberance overflows upon
others in the form of heartiness, geniality, joviality, and even lavish
generosity. Still, they can seldom be got to look far before them; they
do not often assume the painfully circumspect attitude required in the
more arduous enterprises. They are not conscientious in trifles. They
cast off readily the burdensome parts of life. All which is in keeping
with our principle. To take on burdens and cares is to draw upon the
vital forces--to leave so much the less to cheerfulness and buoyant
spirits. The same corporeal framework cannot afford a lavish expenditure
in several different ways at one time. Fox had no long-sightedness, no
tendency to forecast evils, or to burden himself with possible
misfortunes. It is very doubtful if Palmerston could have borne the part
of Wellington in the Peninsula; his easy-going temperament would not
have submitted itself to all the anxieties and precautions of that vast
enterprise. But Palmerston was hale and buoyant, and the Prime Minister
of England at eighty: Wellington began to be infirm at sixty.


To these three experimental proofs we may add the confirmation derived
from the grand doctrine named the Correlation, Conservation,
Persistence, or Limitation of Force, as applied to the human body and
the human mind. We cannot create force anywhere; we merely appropriate
existing force. The heat of our fires has been derived from the solar
fire. We cannot lift a weight in the hand without the combustion of a
certain amount of food; we cannot think a thought without a similar
demand; and the force that goes in one way is unavailable in any other
way. While we are expending ourselves largely in any single function--in
muscular exercise, in digestion, in thought and feeling, the remaining
functions must continue for the time in comparative abeyance. Now, the
maintenance of a high strain of elated feeling, unquestionably costs a
great deal to the forces of the system. All the facts confirm this high
estimate. An unusually copious supply of arterial blood to the brain is
an indispensable requisite, even although other organs should be
partially starved, and consequently be left in a weak condition, or else
deteriorate before their time. To support the excessive demand of power
for one object, less must be exacted from other functions. Hard bodily
labour and severe mental application sap the very foundations of
buoyancy; they may not entail much positive suffering, but they are
scarcely compatible with exuberant spirits. There may be exceptional
individuals whose _total_ of power is a very large figure, who can bear
more work, endure more privation, and yet display more buoyancy, without
shortened life, than the average human being. Hardly any man can attain
commanding greatness without being constituted larger than his fellows
in the sum of human vitality. But until this is proved to be the fact
in any given instance, we are safe in presuming that extraordinary
endowment in one thing implies deficiency in other things. More
especially must we conclude, provisionally at least, that a buoyant,
hopeful, elated temperament lacks some other virtues, aptitudes, or
powers, such as are seen flourishing in the men whose temperament is
sombre, inclining to despondency. Most commonly the contradictory demand
is reconciled by the proverbial "short life and merry".

Adverting now to the object that Helps had so earnestly at
heart--namely, to rouse and rescue the English population from their
comparative dulness to a more lively and cheerful flow of existence--let
us reflect how, upon the foregoing principles, this is to be done. Not
certainly by an eloquent appeal to the nation to get up and be amused.
The process will turn out to be a more circuitous one.

The mental conformation of the English people, which we may admit to be
less lively and less easily amused than the temperament of Irishmen,
Frenchmen, Spaniards, Italians, or even the German branch of our own
Teutonic race, is what it is from natural causes, whether remote
descent, or that coupled with the operation of climate and other local
peculiarities. How long would it take, and what would be the way to
establish in us a second nature on the point of cheerfulness?

Again, with the national temperament such as it is, there may be great
individual differences; and it may be possible by force of
circumstances, to improve the hilarity and the buoyancy of any given
person. Many of our countrymen are as joyous themselves, and as much the
cause of joy in others, as the most light-hearted Irishman, or the
gayest Frenchman or Italian. How shall we increase the number of such,
so as to make them the rule rather than the exception?


The only answer not at variance with the laws of the human constitution
is--_Increase the supports and diminish the burdens of life_.

For example, if by any means you can raise the standard of health and
longevity, you will at once effect a stride in the direction sought. But
what an undertaking is this! It is not merely setting up what we call
sanitary arrangements, to which, in our crowded populations, there must
soon be a limit reached (for how can you secure to the mass of men even
the one condition of sufficient breathing-space?), it is that health
cannot be attained, in any high general standard, without worldly means
far above the average at the disposal of the existing population; while
the most abundant resources are often neutralised by ineradicable
hereditary taint. To which it is to be added, that mankind can hardly as
yet be said to be in earnest in the matter of health.

Farther: it is especially necessary to cheerfulness, that a man should
not be overworked, as many of us are, whether from choice or from
necessity. Much, I believe, turns upon this circumstance. Severe toil
consumes the forces of the constitution, without leaving the remainder
requisite for hilarity of tone. The Irishman fed upon three meals of
potatoes a day, the lazy Highlander, the Lazaroni of Naples living upon
sixpence a week, are very poorly supported; but then their vitality is
so little drawn upon by work, that they may exceed in buoyancy of
spirits the well-fed but hard-worked labourer. We, the English people,
would not change places with them, notwithstanding: our _ideal_ is
industry with abundance; but then our industry sobers our temperament,
and inclines us to the dulness that Helps regrets. Possibly, we may one
day hit a happier mean; but to the human mind extremes have generally
been found easiest.

Once more: the light-hearted races trouble themselves little about their
political constitution, about despotism or liberty; they enjoy the
passing moments of a despot's smiles, and if he turns round and crushes
them, they quietly submit. We live in dread of tyranny. Our liberty is
a serious object; it weighs upon our minds. Now any weight upon the mind
is so much taken from our happiness; hilarity may attend on poverty, but
not so well on a serious, forecasting disposition. Our regard to the
future makes us both personally industrious and politically anxious;
a temper not to be amused with the relaxations of the Parisian in his
_café_ on the boulevards, or with the Sunday merry-go-round of the
light-hearted Dane. Our very pleasures have still a sadness in them.

Then, again, what are to be our amusements? By what recreative
stimulants shall we irradiate the gloom of our idle hours and vacation
periods? Doubtless there have been many amusements invented by the
benefactors of our species--society, games, music, public
entertainments, books; and in a well-chosen round of these, many
contrive to pass their time in a tolerable flow of satisfaction. But
they all cost something; they all cost money, either directly, to
procure them, or indirectly, to be educated for them. There are few very
cheap pleasures. Books are not so difficult to obtain, but the enjoying
of them in any high degree implies an amount of cultivation that cannot
be had cheaply.

Moreover, look at the difficulties that beset the pursuit of amusements.
How fatiguing are they very often! How hard to distribute the time and
the strength between them and our work or our duties! It needs some art
to steer one's way in the midst of variety of pleasures. Hence there
will always be, in a cautious-minded people, a disposition to remain
satisfied with few and safe delights; to assume a sobriety of aims that
Helps might call dulness, but that many of us call the middle path.

       *       *       *       *       *


II. A second error against the limits of the human powers is the
prescribing to persons indiscriminately, certain tastes, pursuits, and
subjects of interest, on the ground that what is a spring of enjoyment
to one or a few may be taken up, as a matter of course, by others with
the same relish. It is, indeed, a part of happiness to have some taste,
occupation, or pursuit, adequate to charm and engross us--a ruling
passion, a favourite study. Accordingly, the victims of dulness and
_ennui_ are often advised to betake themselves to something of this
potent character. Kingsley, in his little book on the "Wonders of the
Shore," endeavoured to convert mankind at large into marine naturalists;
and, some time ago, there appeared in the newspapers a letter from
Carlyle, regretting that he himself had not been indoctrinated into the
zoology of our waysides. I have heard a man out of health, hypochondriac,
and idle, recommended to begin botany, geology, or chemistry, as a
diversion of his misery. The idea is plausible and superficial. An
overpowering taste for any subject--botany, zoology, antiquities,
music--is properly affirmed to be born with a man. The forces of the
brain must from the first incline largely to that one species of
impressions, to which must be added years of engrossing pursuit. We may
gaze with envy at the fervour of a botanist over his dried plants, and
may wish to take up so fascinating a pursuit: we may just as easily wish
to be Archimedes when he leaped out of the bath; a man cannot re-cast
his brain nor re-live his life. A taste of a high order, founded on
natural endowment, formed by education, and strengthened by active
devotion, is also paid for by the atrophy of other tastes, pursuits, and
powers. Carlyle might have contracted an interest in frogs, and spiders,
and bees, and the other denizens of the wayside, but it would have been
with the surrender of some other interest, the diversion of his genius
out of its present channels. The strong emotions of the mind are not to
be turned off and on, to this subject and to that. If you begin early
with a human being, you may impress a particular direction upon the
feelings, you may even cross a natural tendency, and work up a taste on
a small basis of predisposition. Place any youth in the midst of
artists, and you may induce a taste for art that shall at length be
decided and strong. But if you were to take the same person in middle
life and immure him in a laboratory, that he might become an
enthusiastic chemist, the limits of human nature would probably forbid
your success.

Such very strong tastes as impart a high and perennial zest to one's
life are merely the special direction of a natural exuberance of feeling
or emotion. A spare and thin emotional temperament will undoubtedly have
preferences, likings and dislikings, but it can never supply the
material for fervour or enthusiasm in anything.

The early determining of natural tastes is a subject of high practical
interest. We shall only remark at present that a varied and broad
groundwork of early education is the best known device for this end.

       *       *       *       *       *


III. A third error, deserving of brief comment, is a singular inversion
of the relationship of the Feelings to the Imagination. It is frequently
affirmed, both in criticism and in philosophy, that the Feelings depend
upon, or have their basis in, the Imagination.

An able and polished writer, discussing the character of Edmund Burke,
remarks: "The passions of Burke were strong; this is attributable in
great measure to the intensity of the imaginative faculty". Again,
Dugald Stewart, observing upon the influence of the Imagination on
Happiness, says: "All that part of our happiness or misery which arises
from our _hopes_ or our _fears_ derives its existence entirely from the
power of imagination". He even goes the length of affirming that
"_cowardice_ is entirely a disease of the imagination". Another writer
accounts for the intensity of the amatory sentiments in Robert Burns by
the strength of his imagination.


Now, I venture to affirm that this view very nearly reverses the fact.
The Imagination is determined by the Feelings, and not the Feelings by
the Imagination. Intensity of feeling, emotion, or passion, is the
earlier fact: the intellect swayed and controlled by feeling, shaping
forms to correspond with an existing emotional tone, is Imagination. It
was not the imaginative faculty that gave Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley,
and the poets generally, their great enjoyment of nature; but the love
of nature, pre-existing, turned the attention and the thoughts upon
nature, filling the mind as a consequence with the impressions, images,
recollections of nature; out of which grew the poetic imaginings.
Imagination is a compound of intellectual power and feeling. The
intellectual power may be great, but if it is not accompanied with
feeling, it will not minister to feeling; or it will minister to many
feelings by turns, and to none in particular. As far as the intellectual
power of a poet goes, few men have excelled Bacon. He had a mind stored
with imagery, able to produce various and vivid illustrations of
whatever thought came before him; but these illustrations touched no
deep feeling; they were fresh, original, racy, fanciful, picturesque,
a play of the head that never touched the heart. The man was by nature
cold; he had not the emotional depth or compass of an average
Englishman. Perhaps his strongest feeling of an enlarged or generous
description was for human progress, but it did not rise to passion;
there was no fervour, no fury in it. Compare him with Shelley on the
same subject, and you will see the difference between meagreness and
intensity of feeling. What intellect can be, without strong feeling,
we have in Bacon; what intellect is, with strong feeling, we have in
Shelley. The feeling gives the tone to the thoughts; sets the intellect
at work to find language having its own intensity, to pile up lofty and
impressive circumstances; and then we have the poet, the orator, the
thoughts that breathe, and the words that burn. Bacon wrote on many
impressive themes--on Truth, on Love, on Religion, on Death, and on the
Virtues in detail; he was always original, illustrative, fanciful; if
intellectual means and resources could make a man feel in these things,
he would have felt deeply; yet he never did. The material of feeling is
not contained in the intellect; it has a seat and a source apart. There
was nothing in mere intellectual gifts to make Byron a misanthrope: but,
given that state of the feelings, the intellect would be detained and
engrossed by it; would minister to, expand, and illustrate it; and
intellect so employed is Imagination.

Burke had indisputably a powerful imagination. He had both
elements:--the intellectual power, or the richly stored and highly
productive mind; and the emotional power, or the strength of passion
that gives the lead to intellect. His intellectual strength was often
put forth in the Baconian manner of illustration, in light and sportive
fancies. There were many occasions where his feelings were not much
roused. He had topics to urge, views to express, and he poured out
arguments, and enlivened them with illustrations. He was, on those
occasions, an able expounder, and no more. But when his passions were
stirred to the depths by the French Revolution, his intellectual power,
taking a new flight, supplied him with figures of extraordinary
intensity; it was no longer the play of a cool man, but the thunders of
an aroused man; we have then "the hoofs of the swinish multitude,"--"the
ten thousand swords leaping from their scabbards". Such feelings were
not produced by the speaker's imagination: they were produced by
themselves; they had their independent source in the region of feeling:
coupled with adequate powers of intellect, they burst out into strong

The Orientals, as a rule, are distinguished for imaginative flights.
This is apparent in their religion, their morality, their poetry, and
their science. The explanation is to be sought in the strength of their
feelings, coupled with a certain intellectual force. The same intellect,
without the feelings, would have issued differently. The Chinese are the
exception. They want the feelings, and they want the imagination. They
are below Europeans in this respect. When we bring before them our own
imaginative themes, our own cast of religion, accommodated as it is to
our own peculiar temperament, we fail in the desired effect. Our august
mysteries are responded to, not with reverential regard, but with, cold

The Celt and the Saxon are often contrasted on the point of imagination;
the prior fact is the comparative endowment for emotion.

       *       *       *       *       *


IV. There is a fallacious mode of presenting the attainment of
happiness; namely, that happiness is best secured by not being aimed at.
We should be aiming always at something else.

When examined closely, the doctrine resolves itself into a kind of
paradox. All sorts of puzzles come up when we attempt to follow it to
its consequences.

We might ask, first, whether there is any other object of pursuit in the
same predicament--wealth, health, knowledge, fame, power. These are,
every one, a means or instrument of happiness, if not happiness itself.
Must we, then, in the case of each, avoid aiming straight at the goal?
must we look askance in some other direction?

Next, in the case of happiness proper, are we to aim at nothing at all,
to drift at random; or may we aim at a definite object, provided it is
not happiness; or, lastly, is there one side aim in particular that we
must take? The answer here would probably be--Aim at duty in general,
and at the good of others in particular. These ends are not the same as
happiness, yet by keeping them steadily in the view, and not thinking of
self at all, we shall eventually realise our greatest happiness.

Without, at present, raising any question as to the fact alleged, we
must again remark that the prescription seems to contradict itself.
Moralists of the austere type will never allow us to pursue happiness at
all; we must never mention the thing to ourselves: duty or virtue is the
one single aim and end of being. Such teachers may be right or they may
be wrong, but they do not contradict themselves. When, however, we are
told that by aiming at virtue, we are on the best possible road to
happiness, this is but another way of letting us into the secret of
happiness, of putting us on the right, instead of on the wrong, track,
to attain it. Our teacher assumes that we are in search of happiness,
and he tells us how we are to proceed; not by keeping it straight in the
view, but by keeping virtue straight in the view. Instead of pointing us
to the vulgar happiness-seeker who would take the goal in a line, he
corrects the course, and shows us the deviation that is necessary in
order to arrive at it; like the sailor making allowance for the
deviation of the magnetic pole, in steering. Happiness is not gained by
a point-blank aim; we must take a boomerang flight in some other line,
and come back upon the target by an oblique or reflected movement. It is
the idea of Young on the Love of Praise (Satire I., 5.)--

    The love of Praise howe'er concealed by art,
    Reigns more or less and glows in every heart,
    The proud to gain it, toils on toils endure,
    _The modest shun it but to make it sure_.

Under this corrected method, we are happiness seekers all the same; only
our aims are better directed, and our fruition more assured.

These remarks are intended to show that the doctrine of making men aim
at virtue, in order to happiness, has no further effect than to teach us
to include the interests of others with our own; by showing that our own
interests do not thereby suffer, but the contrary. The doctrine does not
substitute a virtuous motive for a selfish one; it is a refined artifice
for squaring the two. The world is no doubt a gainer by the change of
view, although the individual is not made really more meritorious.

We must next consider whether, in fact, the oblique aim at happiness is
really the most effectual.

A few words, first, as to the original source of the doctrine of a
devious course. Bishop Butler is renowned for his distinction between
Self-Love and Appetite; he contends that in Appetite the object of
pursuit is not the pleasure of eating, but the food: consequently,
eating is not properly a self-seeking act, it is an indifferent or
disinterested act, to which there is an incidental accompaniment of
pleasure. We should, under the stimulus of Hunger, seek the food,
whether it gave us pleasure or not.

Now, any truth that there is in Butler's view amounts to this:--In our
Appetites we are not thinking every instant of subduing pain and
attaining pleasure; we are ultimately moved by these feelings; but,
having once seen that the medium of their gratification is a certain
material object (food), we direct our whole aim to procuring that. The
hungry wolf ceases to think of his pains of hunger when he is in sight
of a sheep; but for these pains he would have paid no heed to the sheep;
yet when the sheep has to be caught, the hunger is submerged for the
time; the only relevant course, even on its account, is to give the
whole mind and body to the chase of the sheep. Butler calls this
indifferent or disinterested pursuit; and as much as says, that the wolf
is not self-seeking, but sheep-seeking, in its chase. Now, it is quite
true that if the wolf could give no place in its mind for anything but
its hungry pains, it would be in a bad way. It is wiser than that; it
knows the remedy; it is prepared to dismiss the pains from its thoughts,
in favour of a concentrated attention upon the distant flock. This
proves nothing as to its unselfishness; nor does it prove that Appetite
is a different thing from self-seeking or self-love.


There may be disinterested motives in our constitution; but Appetite is
not in any sense one of these. We may have instincts answering to the
traditional phrase used in defining instinct, "a blind propensity" to
act, without aiming at anything in particular, and without any
expectation of pleasure or benefit. Such instincts would conform to
Butler's notion of appetite: they would be entirely out of the course of
self-love or self-seeking of any sort. Whether the nest-building
activity of birds, and the constructiveness of ants, bees, and beavers,
comply with this condition, I do not undertake to say. There is one
process better known to ourselves, not exactly an instinct, but probably
a mixture of instinct and acquirement--I mean the process of
Imitation--which works very much upon this model. Although coming under
the control of the Will, yet in its own proper character it operates
blindly, or without purpose; neither courting pleasure, nor chasing
pain. In like manner, Sympathy, in its most characteristic form,
proceeds without any distinct aim of pleasure to ourselves.

Nothing of this can be affirmed of the Appetites. In them, nature places
us, as Bentham says, under the government of two sovereign masters,
_pain_ and _pleasure_. An appetite would cease to move us, if its
painful and pleasurable accompaniments were done away with. It matters
not that we remit our attention, at times, to the pain or the pleasure;
these are always in the background; and the strength of the appetite is
their strength.

So far as concerns Butler's example of the Appetites, there is no case
for the view that to obtain happiness we must avoid aiming at it
directly. If we do not aim at the pleasure in its own subjective
character, we aim at the thing that immediately brings the pleasure;
which is, for all practical purposes, to aim at the pleasure.

The prescription to look away from the final end, Happiness, in order to
secure that end, may be tested on the example of one of our intermediate
pursuits, as Health. It is not a good thing to be always dwelling on the
state of our health: by doing so, we get into a morbid condition of
self-consciousness, which is in itself pernicious. It does not follow
that we are to live at random, without ever giving a thought to our
health. There is a plain middle course. Guided by our own experience,
and by the experience of those that have gone before us, we arrange our
plan of life so as to preserve health; and our actions consist in
adhering to that plan in the detail. So long as our scheme answers
expectation, we think of nothing but of putting it in force, as occasion
arises; we do not dwell upon our states of good health at all. It is
some interruption that makes us self-conscious; and then it is that we
have to exercise ourselves about a remedial course. This, when found, is
likewise objectively pursued; our only subjectiveness lies in being
aware of gradual recovery; and we are glad to get back to the state of
paying no attention to the workings of our viscera. We do not,
therefore, remit our pursuit; only, it is enough to observe the routine
of outward actions, whose sole motive is to keep us in health.

The pursuit of the still wider end, Happiness, has much in common with
the narrower pursuit. When we have discovered what things promote, and
what things impede our happiness, we transfer our attention to these, as
the most direct mode of compassing the end. If we are satisfied that
working for other people brings us happiness, we work accordingly; this
is no side aim, it is as direct as any aim can be. It may involve
immediate sacrifice, but that does not alter the case; we can get no
considerable happiness from any source without temporary sacrifice.


If it be said that the best mode of attaining happiness is to put
ourselves entirely out of account, and to work for others exclusively,
this, as already noted, is a self-contradiction. It is to tell people
not to think of their own happiness, and yet to know that they are
securing that in the most effectual way. It is also very questionable,
indeed absolutely erroneous, in fact. The most apparent way to secure
happiness is to ply all the known means of happiness, just as far as,
and no farther than, they are discovered to produce the effect. We must
keep a check upon the methods that we employ, and abandon those that do
not answer. So long as we find happiness in serving others, so long we
continue in that course. And it is a melancholy fact that Pope's bold
assertion--"Virtue alone is happiness below,"--cannot be upheld against
the stern realities of life. Life needs to be made up of two aims--the
one, Happiness, the other Virtue, each on its own account. There is a
certain mutual connection of the two, but all attempts at making out
their identity are failures.

It is of very great importance to teach men the bearings of virtue on
happiness, so far as these are known. There will, however, always remain
a portion of duty that detracts from happiness, and must be done as
duty, nevertheless. Men are entitled to pursue happiness as directly as
ever they please; only, they must couple with the pursuit their round of
duties to others; in which they may or may not reap a share of the
coveted good for self.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us, next, consider some of the difficulties and mistakes attaching
to the WILL. Here there are the questions of world-renown, questions
known even in Pandemonium--Free-will, Responsibility, Moral Ability, and
Inability. It is now suspected, on good grounds, that, on these
questions, we have somehow got into a wrong groove--that we are lost in
a maze of our own constructing.


I. We shall first notice a misconception akin to some of the foregoing
mistakes respecting the feelings. In addressing men with a view to spur
their activity, there is usually a too low estimate of what is implied
in great and energetic efforts of will. Here, exactly as in the cheerful
temperament, we find a certain constitutional endowment, a certain
natural force of character, having its physical supports of brain,
muscle, and other tissue; and neither persuasion, nor even education,
can go very far to alter that character. If there be anything at all in
the observations of phrenology, it is the connection of energetic
determination with size of brain. Lay your hand first on the head of an
energetic man, and then on the head of a feeble man, and you will find
a difference that is not to be explained away. Now it passes all the
powers of persuasion and education combined to make up for a great
cranial inequality. Something always comes of assiduous discipline; but
to set up a King Alfred, or a Luther, as a model to be imitated by an
ordinary man, on the points of energy, perseverance, endurance, courage,
is to pass the bounds of the human constitution. Persistent energy of a
high order, like the temperament for happiness, costs a great deal to
the human system. A large share of the total forces of the constitution
go to support it; and the diversion of power often leaves great defects
in other parts of the character, as for example, a low order of the
sensibilities, and a narrow range of sympathies. The men of
extraordinary vigour and activity--our Roman emperors and conquering
heroes--are often brutal and coarse. Nature does not supply power
profusely on all sides; and delicate sympathies, of themselves, use up
a very large fraction of the forces of the organisation. Even
intellectually estimated, the power of sympathising with many various
minds and conditions would occupy as much room in the brain as a
language, or an accomplishment. A man both energetic and sympathetic--a
Pericles, a King Alfred, an Oliver Cromwell--is one of nature's giants,
several men in one.

There is no more notable phase of our active nature than Courage. Great
energy generally implies great courage, and courage--at least in
nine-tenths of its amount--comes by nature. To exhort any one to be
courageous is waste of words. We may animate, for the time, a naturally
timid person, by explaining away the signs of danger, and by assuming a
confident attitude ourselves; but the absolute force of courage is what
neither we nor the man himself can add to. A long and careful education
might effect a slight increase in this, as in other aspects of energy of
character: we can hardly say how much, because it is a matter that is
scarcely ever subjected to the trial; the very conditions of the
experiment have not been thought of.

The moral qualities expressed by Prudence, Forethought, Circumspection,
are talked of with a like insufficient estimate of what they cost. Great
are the rewards of prudence, but great also is the expenditure of the
prudent man. To retain an abiding sense of all the possible evils, risks
and contingencies of an ordinary man's position--professional, family,
and personal--is to go about under a constant burden; the difference
between a thorough-going and an easy-going circumspection is a large
additional demand upon the forces of the brain. The being on the alert
to duck the head at every bullet is a charge to the vital powers; so
much so, that there comes a point when it is better to run risks than to
pile up costly precautions and bear worrying anxieties.

Lastly, the attribute of our active nature called Belief, Confidence,
Conviction, is subject to the same line of remark. This great
quality--the opposite of distrust and timidity, the ally of courage, the
adjunct of a buoyant temperament--is not fed upon airy nothings. It is,
indeed, a true mental quality, an offshoot of our mental nature; yet,
although not material, it is based upon certain forces of the physical
constitution; it grows when these grow, and is nourished when they are
nourished. People possessed of great confidence have it as a gift all
through life, like a broad chest or a good digestion. Preaching and
education have their fractional efficacy, and deserve to be plied,
provided the operator is aware of nature's impassable barriers, and does
not suppose that he is working by charm. It is said of Hannibal that he
dissolved obstructions in the Alps by vinegar; in the moral world,
barriers are not to be removed either by acetic acid or by honey.

       *       *       *       *       *


II. The question of Free-will might be a text for discoursing on some of
the most inveterate erroneous tendencies of the mind.

For one thing, it gives occasion to remark on the influence exerted over
our opinions by the feeling of Personal Dignity. Of sources of bias,
prejudices, "Idola," "fallacies _a priori_" this may be allowed
precedence. For example, the maxim has been enunciated by some
philosophers, that, of two differing opinions, preference is to be given
(not to what is true, but) to what ennobles and dignifies human nature.
One of the objections seriously entertained against Darwin's theory is
that it humbles our ancestral pride. So, to ascribe to our mental powers
a material foundation is held to be degrading to our nobler part. Again,
a philosopher of our own day--Sir W. Hamilton--has placed on the
title-page of his principal work this piece of rhetoric: "On earth,
there is nothing great but man; in man, there is nothing great but
mind". Now one would suppose that there are on earth many things besides
man deserving the appellation of "great"; and that the mechanism of the
body is, in any view, quite as remarkable a piece of work as the
mechanism of the mind. There was one step more that Hamilton, as an
Aristotelian, should have made: "In mind, there is nothing great but
intellect". Doubtless, we ought not to dissect an epigram; but epigrams
brought into a perverting contact with science are not harmless. Such
gross pandering to human vanity must be held as disfiguring a work on

The sentiment of dignity has much to answer for in the doctrine of
Free-will. In Aristotle, the question had not assumed its modern
perplexity; but the vicious element of factitious personal importance
had already peeped out, it being one of the few points wherein the bias
of the feelings operated decidedly in his well-balanced mind. In
maintaining the doctrine that vice is voluntary, he argues, that if
virtue is voluntary, vice (its opposite) must also be voluntary; now to
assert virtue not to be voluntary would be to cast an _indignity_ upon
it. This is the earliest association of the feeling of personal dignity
with the exercise of the human will.


The Stoics are commonly said to have started the free-will difficulty.
This needs an explanation. A leading tenet of theirs was the distinction
between things in our power and things not in our power; and they
greatly overstrained the limits of what is in our power. Looking at the
sentiment about death, where the _idea_ is everything, and at many of
our desires and aversions, also purely sentimental, that is, made and
unmade by our education (as, for example, pride of birth), they
considered that pains in general, even physical pains and grief for
the loss of friends, could be got over by a mental discipline, by
intellectually holding them not to be pains. They extolled and magnified
the power of the will that could command such a transcendent discipline,
and infused an emotion of _pride_ into the consciousness of this
greatness of will. In subsequent ages, poets, moralists, and theologians
followed up the theme; and the appeal to the pride of will may be said
to be a standing engine of moral suasion. This originating of a point of
honour or dignity in connection with our Will has been the main lure in
bringing us into the jungle of Free-will and Necessity.

It is in the Alexandrian school that we find the next move in the
question. In Philo Judaeus, the good man is spoken of as free, the
wicked man as a slave. Except as the medium of a compliment to virtue,
the word "freedom" is not very apposite, seeing that, to the highest
goodness, there attaches submission or restraint, rather than liberty.

The early Christian Fathers (notably Augustine) advanced the question to
the Theological stage, by connecting it with the great doctrines of
Original Sin and Predestination; in which stage it shared all the
speculative difficulties attaching to these doctrines. The Theological
world, however, has always been divided between Free-will and Necessity;
and probably the weightiest names are to be found among the
Necessitarians. No man ever brought greater acumen into theological
controversy than did Jonathan Edwards; and he took the side of

Latterly, however, since the question has become one of pure
metaphysics, Free-will has been the favourite dogma, as being most
consonant to the dignity of man, which appears to be its chief
recommendation, and its only argument. The weight of reasoning is, I
believe, in favour of necessity; but the word carries with it a seeming
affront, and hardly any amount of argument will reconcile men to

       *       *       *       *       *

III. Another weakness of the human mind receives illustration from the
free-will controversy, and deserves to be noticed, as helping to account
for the prolonged existence of the dispute: I mean the disposition to
regard any departure from the accustomed rendering of a fact as denying
the fact itself. The rose under another name is not merely less sweet,
it is not a rose at all. Some of the greatest questions have suffered by
this weakness.


The physical theory of matter that resolves it into _points of force_
will seem to many as doing away with matter no less effectually than the
Berkeleyan Idealism. A universe of inane mathematical points, attracting
and repelling each other, must appear to the ordinary mind a sorry
substitute for the firm-set earth, and the majestically-fretted vault
of heaven, with its planets, stars, and galaxies. It takes a special
education to reconcile any one to this theory. Even if it were
everything that a scientific hypothesis should be, the previously
established modes of speech would be a permanent obstruction to its
being received as the popular doctrine.

But the best illustrations occur in the Ethical and Metaphysical
departments. For example, some ethical theorists endeavour to show that
Conscience is not a primitive and distinct power of the mind, like the
sense of colour, or the feeling of resistance, but a growth and a
compound, being made up of various primitive impulses, together with a
process of education. Again and again has this view been represented as
denying conscience altogether. Exactly parallel has been the handling of
the sentiment of Benevolence. Some have attempted to resolve it into
simpler elements of the mind, and have been attacked as denying the
existence of the sentiment. Hobbes, in particular, has been subjected to
this treatment. Because he held pity to be a form of self-love, his
opponents charged him with declaring that there is no such thing as pity
or sympathy in the human constitution.

A more notable example is the doctrine of the alliance of Mind with
Matter. It is impossible that any mode of viewing this alliance can
erase the distinction between the two modes of existence--the material
and the mental; between extended inert bodies, on the one hand, and
pleasures and pains, thoughts and volitions, on the other. Yet, after
the world has been made familiar with the Cartesian doctrine of two
distinct substances--the one for the inherence of material facts, and
the other for mental facts--any thinker maintaining the separate mental
substance to be unproved, and unnecessary, is denounced as trying to
blot out our mental existence, and to resolve us into watches,
steam-engines, or speaking and calculating machines. The upholder of the
single substance has to spend himself in protestations that he is not
denying the existence of the fact, or the phenomena called mind, but is
merely challenging an arbitrary and unfounded hypothesis for
representing that fact.


The still greater controversy--distinct from the foregoing, although
often confounded with it--relating to the Perception of a Material
World, is the crowning instance of the weakness we are considering.
Berkeley has been unceasingly stigmatised as holding that there is no
material world, merely because he exposed a self-contradiction in the
mode of viewing it, common to the vulgar and to philosophers, and
suggested a mode of escaping the contradiction by an altered rendering
of the facts. The case is very peculiar. The received and
self-contradictory view is exceedingly simple and intelligible in its
statement; it is well adapted, not merely for all the commoner purposes
of life, but even for most scientific purposes. The supposition of an
independent material world, and an independent mental world, created
apart, and coming into mutual contact--the one the objects perceived,
and the other the mind perceiving--expresses (or over-expresses) the
division of the sciences into sciences of matter and sciences of mind;
and the highest laws of the material world at least are in no respect
falsified by it. On the other hand, any attempt to state the facts of
the outer world on Berkeley's plan, or on any plan that avoids the
self-contradiction, is most cumbrous and unmanageable. A smaller, but
exactly parallel instance of the situation is familiar to us. The daily
circuit of the sun around the earth, supposed to be fixed, so exactly
answers all the common uses that, in spite of its being false, we adhere
to it in the language of every-day life. It is a convenient
misrepresentation, and deceives nobody. And such will, in all
likelihood, be the usage regarding the external world, after the
contradiction is admitted, and rectified by a metaphysical circumlocution.
Speculators are still only trying their hand at an unobjectionable
circumlocution; but we may almost be sure that nothing will ever
supersede, for practical uses, the notion of the distinct worlds of Mind
and Matter. If, after the Copernican demonstration of the true position
of the sun, we still find it requisite to keep up the fiction of his
daily course; much more, after the final accomplishment of the
Berkeleyan revolution (to my mind inevitable), shall we retain the
fiction of an independent external world: only, we shall then know how
to fall back upon some mode of stating the case, without incurring the

       *       *       *       *       *

IV. To return to the Will. The fact that we have to save, and to
represent in adequate language, is this:--A voluntary action is a
sequence distinct and _sui generis;_ a human being avoiding the cold,
searching for food, and clinging to other beings, is not to be
confounded with a pure material sequence, as the fall of rain, or the
explosion of gunpowder. The phenomena, in both kinds, are phenomena of
sequence, and of _regular_ or _uniform_ sequence; but the things that
make up the sequence are widely different: in the one, a feeling of the
mind, or a concurrence of feelings, is followed by a conscious muscular
exertion; in the other, both steps are made up of purely material
circumstances. It is the difference between a mental or psychological,
and a material or physical sequence--in short, the difference between
mind and matter; the greatest contrast within the whole compass of
nature, within the universe of being. Now language must be found to give
ample explicitness to this diametrical antithesis; still, I am satisfied
that rarely in the usages of human speech has a more unfortunate choice
been made than to employ, in the present instance, the antithetic
couple--Freedom and Necessity. It misses the real point, and introduces
meanings alien to the case. It converts the glory of the human character
into a reproach (although its leading motive throughout has been to pay
us a compliment). The _constancy_ of man's emotional nature (but for
which our life would be a chaos, an impossibility) has to be explained
away, for no other reason than that, at one time, a blundering epithet
was applied to designate the mental sequences. Great is the difference
between Mind and Matter; but the terms Freedom and Necessity represent
the point of agreement as the point of difference; and this being made
familiar, through iteration, as the mode of expressing the contrast, the
rectification is supposed to unsettle everything, and to obliterate the
wide distinction of the two natures.

       *       *       *       *       *


V. What is called Moral Ability and Inability is another artificial
perplexity in regard to the will, and might also be the text for a
sermon on prevailing errors. More especially, it exemplifies what may be
termed _seizing a question by the wrong end_.

The votary, we shall say, of alcoholic liquor is found fault with, and
makes the excuse, he cannot help it--he cannot resist the temptation. So
far, the language may pass. But what shall we say to the not uncommon
reply,--You could help it if you would. Surely there is some
mystification here; it is not one of those plain statements that we
desire in practical affairs. Whether we are dealing with matter or with
mind, we ought to point out some clear and practicable method of
attaining an end in view. To get a good crop, we till and enrich the
soil; to make a youth knowing in mathematics, we send him to a good
master, and stimulate his attention by combined reward and punishment.
There are also intelligible courses of reforming the vicious: withdraw
them from temptation till their habits are remodelled; entice them to
other courses, by presenting objects of superior attraction; or, at
lowest, keep the fact of punishment before their eyes. By these methods
many are kept from vices, and not a few reclaimed after having fallen.
But to say, "You can be virtuous if you will," is either unmeaning, or
it disguises a real meaning. If it have any force at all--and it would
not be used unless, some efficacy had been found attaching to it,--the
force must be in the indirect circumstances or accompaniments. What,
then, is the meaning that is so unhappily expressed? In the first place,
it is a vehicle for conveying the strong wish and determination of the
speaker; it is a clumsy substitute for--"I do wish you would amend your
conduct"; an expression containing a real efficacy, greater or less
according to the estimate formed of the speaker by the person spoken to.
In the next place, it presents to the mind of the delinquent the _ideal_
of improvement, which might also be done in unexceptionable phrase; as
one might say--"Reflect upon your own state, and compare yourself with
the correct and virtuous liver". Then, there is a touch of the stoical
dignity and pride of will. Lastly, there may be a hint or suggestion to
the mind of good and evil consequences, which is the most powerful
motive of all. In giving rise to these various considerations, even the
objectionable expression may have a genuine efficacy; but that does not
justify the form itself, which by no interpretation can be construed
into sense or intelligibility.


Moral Inability means that ordinary motives are insufficient, but not
all motives. The confirmed drunkard or thief has got into the stage of
moral inability; the common motives that keep mankind sober and honest
have failed. Yet there are motives that would succeed, if we could
command them. Men may be sometimes cured of intemperance when the
constitution is so susceptible that pain follows at once on indulgence.
And so long as pleasure and pain, in fact and in prospect, operate upon
the will, so long as the individual is in a state wherein motives
operate, there may be moral weakness, but there is nothing more. In such
cases, punishment may be properly employed as a corrective, and is
likely to answer its end. This is the state termed accountability, or,
with more correctness, PUNISHABILITY, for being accountable is merely an
incident bound up with liability to punishment. Moral weakness is a
matter of a degree, and in its lowest grades shades into insanity, the
state wherein motives have lost their usual power--when pleasure and
pain cease to be apprehended by the mind in their proper character. At
_this_ point, punishment is unavailing; the moral inability has passed
into something like physical inability; the loss of self-control is as
complete as if the muscles were paralysed.

In the plea of insanity, entered on behalf of any one charged with
crime, the business of the jury is to ascertain whether the accused is
under the operation of the usual motives--whether pain in prospect has a
deterring effect on the conduct. If a man is as ready to jump out of the
window as to walk downstairs, of course he is not a moral agent; but so
long as he observes, of his own accord, the usual precautions against
harm to himself, he is to be punished for his misdeeds.

       *       *       *       *       *

These various questions respecting the Will, if stripped of unsuitable
phraseology, are not very difficult questions. They are about as easy to
comprehend as the air-pump, the law of refraction of light, or the
atomic theory of chemistry. Distort them by inapposite metaphors, view
them in perplexing attitudes, and you may make them more abstruse than
the hardest proposition of the "Principia". What is far worse, by
involving a simple fact in inextricable contradictions, they have led
people gravely to recognise self-contradiction as the natural and the
proper condition of a certain class of questions. Consistency is very
well so far, and for the humbler matters of every-day life, but there is
a higher and a sacred region where it does not hold; where the
principles are to be received all the more readily that they land us in
contradictions. In ordinary matters, inconsistency is the test of
falsehood; in transcendental subjects, it is accounted the badge of


[Footnote 1: _Fortnightly Review_, August, 1868.]

[Footnote 2: Donaldson's "History of Christian Literature and Doctrine,"
Vol. I., p. 277.]

[Footnote 3: Intensity of passion stands confessed in the
self-delineations of men of imaginative genius. We forbear to quote the
familiar instances of Wordsworth, Shelley, or Burns, but may refer to a
remarkable chapter in the life of the famous Scotch preacher, Dr. Thomas
Chalmers. The mere title of the chapter is enough for our purpose. It
related to his early youth, and ran thus, in his own words:--"A year of
mental elysium". It is while living at a white-heat that all the
thoughts and conceptions take a lofty, hyperbolical character; and the
outpouring of these at the time, or afterwards, is the imagination of
the orator or the poet.

The spread of the misconception that we have been combating is perhaps
accounted for by the circumstance that imagination in one man is the
cause of feeling _in others_. Wordsworth, by his imaginative colouring,
has excited a warmer sentiment for nature in many spectators of the lake
country. That, however, is a different thing. We may also allow that the
poet intensifies his own feelings by his creative embodiments of them.]

       *       *       *       *       *



By Relativity is here meant the all-pervading fact of our nature that we
are not impressed, made conscious, or mentally alive, without some
change of state or impression. An unvarying action on any of our senses
is the same as no action at all. An even temperature, such as that
enjoyed by the fishes in the tropical seas, leaves the mind an entire
blank as regards heat and cold. We can neither feel nor know without
recognising two distinct states. Hence all knowledge is double, or is
the knowledge of contrasts or opposites: heavy is relative to light; up
supposes down; being awake implies the state of sleep.

The applications of the law in the sphere of emotion are chiefly
contemplated in what follows. Pleasure and pain are never absolute
states; they have reference always to the previous condition. Until we
know what that has been in any case, we cannot pronounce upon the
efficacy of a present stimulation. We see a person reposing, apparently
in luxurious ease; if the state has been immediately consequent upon a
protracted and severe exertion, we are right in calling it highly
pleasurable. Under other circumstances, it might be quite the reverse.

There is an offshoot or modification of the principle, arising out of
the operation of habit. Impressions made upon us are greatest when they
are absolutely new: after repetition they all lose something of their
power; although, by remission and alternative, the causes of pleasure
and pain have still a very considerable efficacy. Many of the
consequences of this great fact are sufficiently acknowledged, or, if
they are not, it is from other causes than our ignorance. The weakness
is moral, rather than intellectual, that makes us expect that the first
flush of a great pleasure, a newly-attained joy or success, will
continue unabated. The poor man, probably, does not overrate the
gratification of newly-attained wealth; what he fails to allow for is
the deadening effect of an unbroken experience of ease and plenty. The
author of "Romola" says of the hero and the heroine, in the early
moments of their affection, that they could not look forward to a time
when their kisses should be common things. So it is with the attainment
of all great objects of pursuit: the first access of good fortune may
not disappoint us; but as we are more and more removed from the state of
privation, as the memory of the prior experience fades away, so does the
vividness of the present enjoyment. It is the same with changes for the
worse: the agony of a great loss is at first overpowering; gradually,
however, the system accommodates itself to the new condition, and the
severity dies away. What is called on these occasions the "force of
custom" is the application of the law of Accommodation, or Relativity
modified by habit.


It is a familiar experience of mankind, yet hard to realise upon mere
testimony, that the pleasures of rest, repose, retirement, are wholly
relative to foregone labour and toil; after the first shock of
transition, they are less and less felt, and can be renewed only after
a renewal of the contrasting experience. The description, in "Paradise
Lost," of the delicious repose of Adam and Eve in Eden is fallacious;
the poet credits them with an intensity of pleasure attainable only by
the brow-sweating labourer under the curse.

The delights of Knowledge are relative to previous Ignorance; for,
although the possession of knowledge is in many ways a lasting good, yet
the full intensity of the charm is felt only at the moment of passing
from mystery to explanation, from blankness of impression to
intellectual attainment. This form of the pleasure is sustained only by
new acquisitions and new discoveries. Moreover, in the minor forms of
the gratification due to knowledge, we never escape the law of
relativity; the "power" delights us by relation to our previous
impotence. Plato supposed that, in knowledge, we have an example of a
_pure_ pleasure, meaning one that had no reference to foregone privation
or pain; but such "purity" would be a barren fact, not unlike the pure
air of a bladeless and waterless desert. A state of uninterrupted good
health, although a prime condition of enjoyment, is of itself a state of
neutrality or indifference. The man that has never been ill cannot sing
the joys of health; the exultation of that strain is attainable only by
the valetudinarian.

       *       *       *       *       *

These examples have been remarked upon in every age. It is the moral
weakness of being carried away by a present strong feeling, as if the
state would last for ever, that blinds each of us in turn to the stern
reality of the fact. There are, however, numerous instances, coming
under Relativity, wherein the indispensable correlative is more or less
dropped out of sight and disavowed. These are the proper errors or
fallacies of Relativity, a branch of the comprehensive class termed
"Fallacies of Confusion". The object of the present essay is to exhibit
a few of these errors as they occur in questions of practical moment.

       *       *       *       *       *

When it is said, as by Carlyle and others, "speech is silvern, silence
is golden," there is implied a condition of things where speech has been
in excess; and but for this excess, the assertion is untrue. One might
as well talk of the delights of hunger, or of cold, or of solitary
confinement, on the ground of there being times when food, warmth, or
society may be in excess, and when the opposing states would be a joyful

The Relativity of Pleasures, although admitted in many individual cases,
has often been misconceived. The view is sometimes expressed, that there
can be no pleasure without a previous pain; but this goes beyond the
exigencies of the principle. We cannot go on for ever with any delight;
but mere remission, without any counterpart pain, is enough for our
entering with zest on many of our pleasures. A healthy man enjoys his
meals without any sensible previous pain of hunger. We do not need to
have been miserable for some time as a preparation for the reading of a
new poem. It is true that if the sense of privation has been acute, the
pleasure is proportionally increased; and that few pleasures of any
great intensity grow up from indifference: still, remission and
alternation may give a zest for enjoyment without any consciousness of

The principle of Comparison is capriciously made use of by Paley, in his
account of the elements of Happiness. He applies it forcibly and
felicitously to depreciate certain pleasures--as greatness, rank, and
station--and withholds its application from the pleasures that he more
particularly countenances,--namely, the social affections, the exercise
of the faculties, and health.

       *       *       *       *       *


The great praise often accorded to Simplicity of Style, in literature,
is an example of the suppression of the correlative in a case of mutual
relationship. Simplicity is not an absolute merit; it is frequently a
merit by correlation. Thus, if a certain subject has never been treated
except in abstruse and difficult terminology, a man of surpassing
literary powers, setting it forth in homely and intelligible language,
produces a work whose highest praise is expressed by Simplicity. Again,
after the last century period of artificial, complex, and highly-wrought
composition, the reaction of Cowper and Wordsworth in favour of
simplicity was an agreeable and refreshing change, and was in great part
acceptable because of the change. It does not appear that Wordsworth
comprehended this obvious fact; to him, a simplicity that cost nothing
to the composer, and brought no novelty to the reader, had still a
transcendent merit.

       *       *       *       *       *

It has been a frequent practice of late years to celebrate the praises
of Knowledge. Many eloquent speakers have dilated on the happiness and
the superiority of the enlightened and the cultivated man. Now, the
correlative or obverse must be equally true: there must be a
corresponding degradation and disqualification attaching to ignorance
and the want of instruction. This correlative and equally cogent
statement is suppressed on certain occasions, and by persons that would
not demur to the praises of knowledge: as, when we are told of the
native good sense, the untaught sagacity, the admirable instincts of the
people,--that is, of the ignorant or the uneducated. Hence the great
value of the expository device of following up every principle with its,
counter-statement, the matter denied when the principle is affirmed. If
knowledge is a thing superlatively good, ignorance--the opposite of
knowledge--is a thing superlatively bad. There is no middle standing

       *       *       *       *       *

In the way that people use the argument from Authority, there is often
an unfelt contradiction from not adverting to the correlative
implication. If I lay stress upon some one's authority as lending weight
to my opinion, I ought to be equally moved in the opposite direction
when the same authority is against me. The common case, however, is to
make a great flourish when the authority is one way, and to ignore it
when it is the other way. This is especially the fashion in dealing with
the ancient philosophers. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are quoted with
much complacency when they chime in with a modern view; but, in points
where they contradict our cherished sentiments, we treat them with a
kind of pity as half-informed pagans. It is not seen that men liable
to such gross errors as they are alleged to have committed--say on
Ethics--are by that fact deprived of all weight in allied subjects, as,
for example, Politics--in which Aristotle is still quoted as an

       *       *       *       *       *


Many of the sins against Relativity can be traced to rhetorical
exaggeration. Some remarkable instances of this can be cited.

When a system of ranks and dignities has once been established, there
are associations of dignity and of indignity with different conditions
and occupations. It is more dignified to serve in the army than to
engage in trade; to be a surgeon is more honourable than to be a
watchmaker. In this state of things a fervid rhetorician, eager to
redress the inequalities of mankind, starts forth to preach the dignity
of _all_ labour. The device is a self-contradiction. Make all labour
alike dignified, and nothing is dignified; you simply abolish dignity by
depriving it of the contrast that it subsists upon.

Pope's lines--

    Honour and shame from no condition rise;
    Act well your part; there all the honour lies--

cannot be exempted from the fallacy of self-contradiction. Differences
of condition are made by differences in the degree of honour thereto
attached. If every man that did his work well were put on a level, in
point of honour, with every other man that did the same; if the
gatekeeper of a mansion, by being unfailingly punctual in opening the
gate, were to be equally honoured with a great leader of the House of
Commons, then, indeed, equality of pay would be the only thing wanted to
abolish all differences of condition. There is, no doubt, in society, a
quantity of misplaced honour; but so long as there are employments
exceptionally arduous, and virtues signally beneficent in their
operation, honour is a legitimate spur and reward, and should be
graduated according to the desert in each case.

In spurring the ardour of youth to studious exertion, it is common to
repeat the Homeric maxim, "to supplant every one else, and stand out
first". The stimulating effect is undoubted; it is strong rhetorical
brandy. Yet only one man can be first, and the exhortation is given
simultaneously to a thousand.[5]


In the discussion and inculcation of the moral duties and virtues, there
has been, in all ages, a tendency to suppress correlative facts, and to
affirm unconditionally what is true only with a condition. Thus, the
admirable nature of Justice, and the happiness of the Just man, are a
proper theme to be extolled with all the power of eloquence. It has been
so with every civilized people, pagan as well as Christian. In the
dialogues of Plato, justice is a prominent subject, and is adorned with
the full splendour of his genius. Aristotle, in one of the few moments
when he rises to poetry, pronounces justice "greater than the
evening-star or the morning-star". Now all this panegyric is admissible
only on the supposition of _reciprocal_ justice. Plato, indeed, had the
hardihood to say that the just man is happy in himself, and by reason of
his justice, even although others are unjust to him; but the position is
untenable. A man is happy in his justice if it procure for him justice
in return; as a citizen is happy in his civil obedience, if it gain him
protection in return. There are two parties in the case, and the
moralist should obtain access to both; he should induce the one to
fulfil his share before promising to the other the happiness of justice
and obedience. It may be rhetorical, but it is not true, that justice
will make a man happy in a society where it is not reciprocated.
Justice, in these circumstances, is highly noble, praiseworthy,
virtuous; but the applying of these lofty compliments is the proof that
it does not bring happiness, and is an attempt to compensate the
deficiency. There is a certain tendency, not very great as human nature
is constituted, for justice to beget justice in return--for social
virtue on one side to procure it on the other side. This is a certain
encouragement to each man to perform his own part, in hope that the
other party concerned may do the same. Still, the reciprocity
occasionally fails, and with that the benefits to the just agent. It is
necessary to urge strongly upon individuals, to impress upon the young,
the necessity of performing their duty to society; it is equally
implied, and equally indispensable, that society should perform its part
to them. The suppressing of the correlative obligation of the State to
the individual leaves a one-sided doctrine; the motive of the
suppression, doubtless, is that society does not often fail of its
duties to the individual, whereas individuals frequently fail of their
duties to society. This may be the fact generally, but not always. It is
not the fact where there are bad laws and corrupt administration. It is
not the fact where the restraints on liberty are greater than the
exigencies of the State demand. It is not the fact, so long as there is
a single vestige of persecution for opinions. To be thoroughly
veracious, for example, in a society that restrains the discussion and
expression of opinions, is more than such a society is entitled to.

       *       *       *       *       *


The same fallacy occurs in an allied theme,--the joys of Love and
Benevolence. That love and benevolence are productive of great happiness
is beyond question; but then the feeling must be mutual, it must be
reciprocated. One-sided love or benevolence is a _virtue_, which is as
much as to say it is _not_ a pleasure. The delights of benevolence are
the delights of reciprocated benevolence; until reciprocated, in some
form, the benevolent man has, strictly speaking, the sacrifice and
nothing more. There is a great reluctance to encounter this simple naked
truth; to state it in theory, at least, for it is fully admitted in
practice. We fence it off by the assumption that benevolence will always
have its reward somehow; that if the objects of it are ungrateful,
others will make good the defect at last. Now these qualifications are
very pertinent, very suitable to be urged after allowing the plain
truth, that benevolence is intrinsically a sacrifice, a painful act; and
that this act is redeemed, and far more than redeemed, by a fair
reciprocity of benevolence. Only such an admission can keep us out of a
mesh of contradictions. Like justice in itself, Benevolence in itself is
painful; any virtue is pain in the first instance, although, when
equally responded to, it brings a surplus of pleasure. There may be acts
of a beneficent tendency that cost the performer nothing, or that even
may chance to be agreeable; but these examples must not be given as the
rule, or the type. It is the essence of virtuous acts, the prevailing
character of the class, to tax the agent, to deprive him of some
satisfaction to himself; this is what we must start from; we are then in
a position to explain how and when, and under what circumstances, and
with what limitations, the virtuous man, whether his virtue be justice
or benevolence, is from that cause a happy man.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a fallacy of the suppressed relative to describe virtue as
determined by the _moral nature_ of God, as opposed to his arbitrary
will. The essence of Morality is obedience to a superior, to a Law;
where there is no superior there is nothing either moral or immoral. The
supreme power is incapable of an immoral act. Parliament may do what is
injurious, it cannot do what is illegal. So the Deity may be beneficent
or maleficent, he cannot be moral or immoral.

       *       *       *       *       *

Among the various ways, proposed in the seventeenth century, of solving
the difficulty of the mutual action of the heterogeneous agencies--matter
and mind--one was a mode of Divine interference, called the "Theory of
Occasional Causes". According to this view, the Deity exerted himself by
a _perpetual miracle_ to bring about the mental changes corresponding to
the physical agents operating on our senses--light, sound, &c. Now in
the mode of action suggested there is nothing self-contradictory; but in
the use of the word "miracle" there is a mistake of relativity. The
meaning of a miracle is an exceptional interference; it supposes an
habitual state of things, from which it is a deviation. The very idea of
miracle is abolished if every act is to be alike miraculous.

       *       *       *       *       *


We shall devote the remainder of this exposition to a still more notable
class of mistakes due to the suppression of a correlative member in a
relative couple--those, namely, connected with the designation,
"Mystery," a term greatly abused, in various ways, and especially by
disregarding its relative character. Mystery supposes certain things
that are plain, intelligible, knowable, revealed; and, by contrast to
these, refers to certain other things that are obscure, unintelligible,
unknowable, unrevealed. When a man's conduct is entirely plain,
straightforward, or accounted for, we call that an intelligible case;
when we are perplexed by the tortuosities of a crafty, double-dealing
person, we say it is all very mysterious. So, in nature, we consider
that we understand certain phenomena: such as gravity, and all its
consequences, in the fall of bodies, the flow of rivers, the motions of
the planets, the tides. On the other hand, earthquakes and volcanoes are
very mysterious; we do not know what they depend upon, how or in what
circumstances they are produced. Some of the operations of living bodies
are understood,--as the heart's action in the mechanical propulsion of
the blood; others, and the greater number, are mysterious, as the whole
process of germination and growth. Now the existence of the contrast
between things plainly understood, and things not understood, gives one
distinct meaning to the term Mystery. In some cases, a mystery is formed
by an apparent contradiction, as in the Theological mystery of Free-will
and Divine Foreknowledge; here, too, there is a contrast with the great
mass of consistent and reconcilable things. But now, when we are told by
sensational writers, that _everything is mysterious;_ that the simplest
phenomenon in nature--the fall of a stone, the swing of a pendulum, the
continuance of a ball shot in the air--are wonderful, marvellous,
miraculous, our understanding is confounded; there being then nothing
plain at all, there is nothing mysterious. The wonderful rises from the
common; as the lofty is lofty by relation to something lower: if there
is nothing common, then there is nothing wonderful; if all phenomena are
mysterious, nothing is mysterious; if we are to stand aghast in
amazement because three times four is twelve, what phenomenon can we
take as the type of the plain and the intelligible? You must always keep
up a standard of the common, the easy, the comprehensible, if you are to
regard other things as wonderful, difficult, inexplicable.


The real character of a MYSTERY, and what constitutes the Explanation of
a fact, have been greatly misconceived. The changes of view on these
points make up a chapter in the history of the education of the human
mind. Perhaps the most decisive turning point was the publication of
Locke's "Essay concerning Human Understanding," the motive of which, as
stated in the homely and forcible language of the preface, was to
ascertain what our understandings can do, what subjects they are fit to
deal with, and where they should stop. I quote a few sentences:--

"If by this inquiry into the nature of the Understanding, I can discover
the powers thereof; how far they reach; to what things they are in any
degree proportionate; and where they fail us: I suppose it may be of
use, to prevail with the busy mind of man to be more cautious in
meddling with things exceeding its comprehension; to stop when it is at
the utmost extent of its tether; and to sit down in a quiet ignorance of
those things which, upon examination, are proved to be beyond the reach
of our capacities." "The candle that is set up in us, shines bright
enough for all our purposes. The discoveries we can make with this ought
to satisfy us. And we shall then use our Understandings aright, when we
entertain all objects in that way and proportion that they are suited to
our faculties, and upon those grounds they are capable of being proposed
to us." "It is of great use for the sailor to know the length of his
line, though he cannot fathom with it all the depths of the ocean."

The course of physical science was preparing the same salutary lesson.
Locke's great contemporary and friend, Isaac Newton, was his
fellow-worker in this tutorial undertaking; nor should Bacon be
forgotten, although there is dispute as to the extent and character of
his influence. The combined operation of these great leaders of thought
was apparent in the altered views of scientific inquirers as to what is
competent in research--what is the proper aim of inquiry. There arose a
disposition to abandon the pursuit of mysterious essences and grand
pervading unities, and ascertain with precision the facts and the laws
of natural phenomena. The study of astronomy was inaugurated in
Greenwich Observatory. The experiments of Priestley and of Franklin
farther exemplified the eighteenth-century key to the secrets of the

The lesson imparted by Newton and Locke and their successors still
remains to be carried out and embodied in the subtler inquiries. The
bearing upon what constitutes a Mystery, and what constitutes
Explanation, or the accounting for appearances, may be expressed thus:--

In the first place, the Understanding can never pass out of its own
experience--its acquired knowledge, whether of body or of mind. What we
obtain by our various sensibilities to the world about us, and by our
self-consciousness, are the foundation, the ABC of everything that we
are capable of knowing. We know colours, and we know sound; we know
pleasure and pain, and the various emotions of wonder, fear, love,
anger. If there be any being endowed with senses different from ours,
with that being we can have no communion. If there be any phenomena that
escape our limited sensibilities, they transcend the possibility of our

It is necessary, however, to take account of the combining or
constructive aptitudes of the mind. We can go a certain length in
putting together our alphabet of sensation and experience into many
various compounds. We can imagine a paradise or a pandemonium; but only
as made up of our own knowledge of things good and evil. The limits of
this constructive power are soon reached. We are baffled to enter into
the feelings of our own kindred, when they are far removed in character
and circumstances from ourselves. The youth at twenty cannot approximate
to the feelings of men of middle age. The healthy are unable to
comprehend the life of the invalid.


To come to the practical applications. The great leading notions called
Time and Space are known to us only under the conditions of our own
sensibility. Time is made known by all our actions, all our senses, all
our feelings, and by the succession of our thoughts; it is experienced
as a continuance and a repetition of movement, sight, sound, fear, or
any other state of feeling, or of thinking. One motion or sensation is
continued longer than another; or it is more frequently repeated after
intermission, giving the _numerical_ estimate of time, as in the beats
of the pendulum. In these ways we form estimates of seconds, minutes,
hours, days. And our constructive faculty can be brought into play to
conceive the larger tracts of duration--a century, or a hundred
centuries. Nay, by our arithmetical powers we can put down in cipher,
or conceive _symbolically_ (which is the meagrest of all conceptions)
millions of millions of centuries; these being after all but compounds
of our alphabet of enduring or repeated sensations and thoughts. We can
suppose this arithmetical process to operate upon past duration or upon
future duration, and there is no limit to the numbers that we can write
down. But there is one thing that we cannot do; we cannot fix upon a
point when Time or succession began, or upon a point when it will cease.
That is an operation not in keeping with our faculties; the very
supposition is impracticable. We cannot entertain the notion of a state
of things wherein the fact of continuance had no place; the effort
belies itself. Time is inseparable from our mental nature; whatever we
imagine, we must imagine as enduring. Some philosophers have supposed
that we must be endowed by nature with the conception of Time, before we
begin to exercise our senses; but the difficulty would be to deprive us
of that adjunct without extinguishing our mental nature. Give us
sensibility, and you cannot withhold the element of Time. The
supposition of Kant and others, that it is implanted in us as an empty
form, before we begin to employ our senses upon things, is needless; for
as soon as we move, see, hear, think, are pleased or pained, we create
time. And our notion of Time in general is exactly what these
sensibilities make it, only enlarged by our constructive power already
spoken of.


While all our senses and feelings give us time, it is our experience of
Motion and Resistance,--the energetic or active side of our nature
alone,--that gives us Space. The simplest feature of Space is the
alternation of Resistance and Non-Resistance, of obstructed motion and
freedom to move. The hand presses dead upon an obstacle; the obstacle
gives way and allows free motion; these two contrasting experiences are
the elements of the two contrasting facts--Matter and Space. By none of
the five senses, in their pure and proper character as senses, can we
obtain these experiences; and hence at an earlier stage of inquiry into
the mind, when our knowledge-giving sensibilities were referred to the
five senses, there was no adequate account of the notion of Space or
Extension. Space includes more than this simple contrast of the
resisting and the non-resisting; it includes what we call the
Co-existing or Contemporaneous, the great aggregate of the outspread
world, as existing at any moment, a somewhat complicated attainment,
which I am not now specially concerned with. It sufficiently illustrates
the limitation of our knowledge by our sensibilities, from the nature of
space, to fasten attention on the double and mutually supplementing
experience of Matter and Void; the one resisting movement, and giving
the consciousness of resistance, or dead strain, the other permitting
movement, and giving the consciousness of the unobstructed sweep of the
limbs or members. Whatever else may be in space, this freedom to move,
to soar, to expatiate (in contrast to being hemmed in, obstructed, held
fast), is an essential part of the conception, and is formed out of our
active or moving sensibilities. Now, as far as movement is concerned, we
must be in one of two states;--we must be putting forth energy without
effecting movement, being met by obstacles called matter; or we must be
putting forth energy unresisted and effecting movement, which is what we
mean by empty space. There is no third position in the matter of putting
forth our active energy. Where resistance ends and freedom begins, there
is space; where freedom ends, and obstruction begins, there is matter.
We find our sentient life to be made up, as regards movement, of a
certain number and range of these two alternations; in other words, free
spaces and resisting barriers. And we can, by the constructive power
already mentioned, imagine other proportions of the two experiences; we
can imagine the scope for movement, the absence of obstruction, to be
enlarged more and more, to be counted by thousands and millions of
miles; but the only terminus or boundary that we can imagine is
resistance, a dead obstacle. We are able to conceive the starry spaces
widened and prolonged from galaxy to galaxy through enormous strides of
increasing amplitude, but when we try to think an end to this career, we
can think only of a dead wall. There is no other end of space within the
grasp of our faculties; and that termination is not an end of extension;
for we know that solid matter, viewed in other ways than as obstructing
movement, has the same property of the extended belonging to the empty
void. The inference is, that the limitation of our means of knowledge
renders altogether incompetent the imagination of an end to either Time
or Space. The greatest efforts of our combining faculty cannot exceed
the elements presented to it, and these elements contain nothing that
would set forth the situation of space ending, and obstruction not


Under these circumstances, it is an irrevelant enquiry, to ask, Are Time
and Space finite or infinite? Many philosophers have put the question,
and even answered it. They say Time has no beginning and no end, and
Space has no boundaries; or, as otherwise expressed,--Time and Space are
Infinite: an answer of such vagueness as to mean anything, from a
harmless and proper assertion of the limits of our faculties, up to the
verge of extravagance and self-contradiction.

When, in fact, people talk of the Infinite in Time and Space, they can
point to one intelligible signification; as to the rest, this word is
not a subject for scientific propositions, and the attempt at such can
lead only to contradictions. The Infinite is a phrase most various in
its purport: it is for the most part an emotional word, expressing human
desire and aspiration; a word of poetry, imagination, and preaching, not
a word to be discussed under science; no intellectual definition would
exhibit its emotional force.

The second property of our intelligence is, that we can generalise many
facts into one. Tracing agreement among the multifarious appearances of
things, we can comprehend in one statement a vast number of details. The
single law of gravity expresses the fall of a stone, the flow of rivers,
the retention of the moon in her circuit round the earth. Now, this
generalising sweep is a real advance in our knowledge, an ascent in the
matter of intelligence, a step towards centralising the empire of
science. What is more, this is the only real meaning of EXPLANATION.
A difficulty is solved, a mystery unriddled; when it can be shown to
resemble something else; to be an example of a fact already known.
Mystery is isolation, exception, or, it may be, apparent contradiction;
the resolution of the mystery is found in assimilation, identity,
fraternity. When all things are assimilated, so far as assimilation can
go, so far as likeness holds, there is an end to explanation; there is
an end to what the mind can do, or can intelligently desire.


Thus, when Gravity was generalised, by assimilating the terrestrial
attraction seen in falling bodies with the celestial attraction of the
sun and planets; and when, by fair presumption, the same power was
extended to the remote stars; when, also, the _law_ was ascertained, so
that the movements of the various bodies could be computed and
predicted, there was nothing further to be done; explanation was
exhausted. Unless we can find some other force to fraternise with
gravity, so that the two might become a still more comprehensive unity,
we must rest in gravity as the ultimatum of our faculties. There is no
conceivable modification, or substitute, that would better our position.
Before Newton, it was a mystery what kept the moon and the planets in
their places; the assimilation with falling bodies was the solution.
But, say many persons, is not gravity itself a mystery? We say No;
gravity has passed through all the stages of legitimate and possible
explanation; it is the most highly generalised of all physical facts,
and by no assignable transformation could it be made more intelligible
than it is. It is singularly easy of comprehension; its law is exactly
known; and, excepting the details of calculation, in its more complex
workings, there is nothing to complain of, nothing to rectify, nothing
to pretend ignorance about; it is the very pattern, the model, the
consummation of knowledge. The path of science, as exhibited in modern
times, is towards generality, wider and wider, until we reach the
highest, the widest laws of every department of things; there
explanation is finished, mystery ends, perfect vision is gained.

       *       *       *       *       *

What is always reckoned the mystery by pre-eminence is the union of BODY
and MIND. How, then, should we treat this Mystery according to the
spirit of modern thought, according to the modern laws of explanation?
The course is to _conceive_ the elements according to the only possible
plan, our own sensibility or consciousness; which gives us matter as one
class of facts--extension, inertness, weight, and so on; and mind as
another class of facts--pleasures, pains, volitions, ideas. The
difference between these two is total, diametrical, complete; there is
really nothing common to the experience of pleasure and the experience
of a tree; difference has here reached its _acme_; agreement is
eliminated; there is no higher genus to include these two in one; as the
ultimate, the highest elements of knowledge, they admit of 110 fusion,
no resolution, no unity. Our utmost flight of generality leaves us in
possession of a double, a _couple_ of absolutely heterogeneous elements.
Matter cannot be resolved into mind; mind cannot be resolved into
matter; each has its own definition; each negatives the other.

This being the fact, we accept it, and acquiesce. There is surely
nothing to be dissatisfied with, to complain of, in the circumstance
that the elements of our experience are, in the last resort, two, and
not one. If we had been provided with fifty ultimate experiences, none
of them having a single property in common with any other; and if we had
only our present limited intellects, we might be entitled to complain
of the world's mysteriousness in the one proper acceptation of
mystery--namely, as overpowering our means of comprehension, as loading
us with unassimilable facts. As it is, matter, in its commoner aspects
and properties, is perfectly intelligible; in the great number and
variety of its endowments or properties, it is revealed to us slowly and
with much difficulty, and these subtle properties--the deep affinities
and molecular arrangements--- are the mysteries rightly so called. Mind
in itself is also intelligible; a pleasure is as intelligible as would
be any transmutation of it into the inscrutable essence that people
often desiderate. It is one of the facts of our sensibility, and has
a great many facts of its own kindred, which makes it all the more

The varieties of pleasure, pain, and emotion are very numerous; and to
know, remember, and classify them, is a work of labour, a _legitimate_
mystery. The subtle links of thought are also very various, although
probably all reducible to a small number; and the ascertaining and
following out of these has been a work of labour and time; they have,
therefore, been mysterious; mystery and intellectual toil being the real
correlatives. The _complications_ of matter and the _complications_ of
mind are genuine mysteries; the reducing or simplifying of these
complications, by the exertions of thinking men, is the way, and the
only way out of the darkness into light.


But what now of the mysterious _union_ of the two great ultimate facts
of human experience? What should the followers of Newton and Locke say
to this crowning instance of deep and awful mystery? Only one answer can
be given. Accept the union, and generalise it. Find out the fewest
number of simple laws, such as will express all the phenomena of this
conjoint life. Resolve into the highest possible generalities the
connections of pleasure and pain, with all the physical stimulants of
the senses--food, tastes, odours, sounds, lights--with all the play of
feature and of gesture, and all the resulting movements and bodily
changes; and when you have done that, you have so far truly, fully,
finally explained the union of body and mind. Extend your generalities
to the course of the thoughts; determine what physical changes accompany
the memory, the reason, the imagination, and express those changes in
the most general, comprehensive laws, and you have explained the how and
the why brain causes thought, and thought works in brain. There is no
other explanation needful, no other competent, no other that would be
explanation. Instead of our being "unfortunate," as is sometimes said,
in not being able to know the essence of either matter or mind--in not
comprehending their union; our misfortune would be to have to know
anything different from what we do or may know. If there be still much
mystery attaching to this linking of the two extreme facts of our
experience, it is simply this: that we have made so little way in
ascertaining what in one goes with what in the other. We know a good
deal about the feelings and their alliances, some of which are open and
palpable to all mankind; and we have obtained some important
generalities in these alliances. Of the connections of thought with
physical changes we know very little: these connections, therefore,
are truly and properly mysterious; but they are not intrinsically or
hopelessly so. The advancing study of the physical organs, on the one
hand, and of the mental functions, on the other, may gradually abate
this mystery. And if a day arrive when the links that unite our
intellectual workings with the workings of the nervous system and the
other bodily organs shall be fully ascertained and adequately
generalised, no one thoroughly educated in the scientific spirit of the
last two centuries will call the union of mind and body any longer
inscrutable or mysterious.


[Footnote 4: _Fortnightly Review_, October, 1868.]

[Footnote 5: We may here recall an incident highly characteristic of the
late Earl of Carlisle. Being elected on one occasion to the office of
Lord Rector of Marischal College, Aberdeen, he had to deliver an address
to the students on the usual topics of diligence and hopefulness in
their studious career. Referring for a model to the addresses of former
rectors, he found, in that of his immediate predecessor, Lord Eglinton,
the Homeric sentiment above alluded to. It grated harshly on his mind,
and he avowed the fact to the students, he could not reconcile himself
to the elevating of one man upon the humiliation of all the rest. In a
strain more befitting a civilized age, he urged upon his hearers the
pursuit of excellence as such, without involving as a necessary
accompaniment the supplanting or throwing down of other men. He probably
did not sufficiently guard himself against a fallacy of Relativity; for
excellence is purely comparative; it subsists upon inferior grades of
attainment: still, there are many modes of it shared in by a great
number, and not confined to one or a few.]

       *       *       *       *       *




Up to the year 1853, the appointing of Civil Servants lay wholly in the
hands of patrons. In 1853, patronage was severely condemned and
competitive examination officially recommended, for the first time, in a
Report by Sir Stafford Northcote and Sir Charles Trevelyan; but, while
the recommendation was taken up in the following year and immediately
acted upon in the Indian Civil Service, it was not till very much later
that it was fully adopted in the Home Service. The history, indeed, of
this last is somewhat peculiar. After the Report already referred to,
came an Order of Council, of date May 21, 1855, in which we find it
"ordered that all such young men as may be proposed to be appointed to
any junior situation in any department of the Civil Service shall,
before they are admitted to probation, be examined by or under the
Directors of the said Commissioners, and shall receive from them a
Certificate of Qualification for such situation". This order was
rigorously carried out by the Commissioners, and, although its absolute
requirement was simply that the nominees should pass a certain
examination, it, nevertheless, allowed the heads of departments to
institute competition if they cared. Accordingly, we find that
competition--_but limited_--was immediately set on foot in several of
the offices, and the result led to the following remark in the Report of

"We do not think it within our province to discuss the expediency of
adopting the principle of open competition as contra-distinguished from
examination; but we must remark that, both in the competitive
examination for clerkships in our own and in other offices, those who
have succeeded in attaining the appointments have appeared to us to
possess considerably higher attainments than those who have come in upon
simple nomination; and, we may add, that we cannot doubt that if it be
adopted as a usual course to nominate several candidates to compete for
each vacancy, the expectation of this ordeal will act most beneficially
on the education and industry of those young persons who are looking
forward to public employment."

In 1857, a near approach was made to open competition, in the case of
four clerkships awarded by the competing examination in the
Commissioners' own establishment. "The fact of the competition was not
made public, but was communicated to one or two heads of schools and
colleges, and mentioned casually to other persons at various times. The
number of competitors who presented themselves was forty-six, of which
number, forty-four were actually examined."


It was reserved for 1858 to see the first absolutely open competition,
in the case of eight writerships in the Office of the Secretary of State
for India; and in that year, too, a step in advance was made when the
Commissioners in their Report "pointed out the advantage which would
result from enlarging the field of competition by substituting, for the
plan of nominating three persons only to compete for each vacant
situation, the system of nominating a proportionate number of candidates
to compete for several appointments at one examination".

The year 1860 sounded the death-knell of simple pass examination. It was
then recommended by a Select Committee of the House of Commons, and the
recommendation was adopted, that the competitive method, in its limited
form, should be henceforth _universally_ applied to junior situations.
This recommendation was at once acted upon in the case of clerkships
under the control of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, and others
by and by followed; but, as matter of fact, it was never strictly
carried out in all its scope and rigour; and as late as 1868 the
Commissioners in their Report stated that "the number of situations
filled on the competitive method has been comparatively small".
Meanwhile, competitive examination was making way in other quarters.

From 1857, the Commissioners had been in the habit of examining
competitively, at the request of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, such
candidates as might be nominated for cadetships in the Royal Irish
Constabulary; and, in 1861, the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty
"threw open to public competition" appointments as apprentices in Her
Majesty's dockyards, and appointments as "engineer students" in the
steam factories connected therewith.

In 1870, the end so long aimed at was attained, and by an Order in
Council of June 4, open competition was made the only door of entry to
the general Civil Service.

In entire contrast with this, as has been already said, was the action
in the case of the Indian Civil Service. Here the principle of open
competition was adopted from the first, and the examination took a very
elevated start, comprising the highest branches of a learned education.
These branches were duly specified in a Report drawn up in November,
1854, by a Committee, of which Lord Macaulay was chairman; and, with the
exception of Sanskrit and Arabic, they included simply (as might have
been expected) the literary and scientific subjects ordinarily taught at
the principal seats of general education in the Kingdom. These were:--

English Language and Literature (Composition, History, and General
Literature,--to each of which 500 marks were assigned, making a total of
1,500); Greek and Latin (each with 750 marks); French, German, and
Italian (valued at 375 marks, respectively); Mathematics, pure and mixed
(marks 1,000); Natural and Moral Sciences (each 500); Sanscrit and
Arabic (375 each).


The principle of selection here is clear and obvious. It did not rest
upon any doctrine regarding the utility or value of subjects for mental
training, but simply upon this, that those subjects already in the field
must be accepted, and that (as Mr. Jowett, in his letter to Sir Charles
Trevelyan, of January, 1854, put it) "it will not do to frame our
examination on any mere theory of education. We must test a young man's
ability by what he knows, not by what we wish him to know." Indeed, this
is explicitly avowed in the Report by the author of the Scheme himself.
The Natural Sciences are included, because (it is confessed) "of late
years they have been introduced as a part of general education into
several of our universities and colleges": and, as for the Moral
Sciences, "those Sciences are, it is well known, much studied both at
Oxford and at the Scottish Universities".

Into the details of Macaulay's interesting Report, I need not here
enter. Room, however, must be found for one quotation. It deals with the
distribution of marks, and is both characteristic and puts the matter in
small compass. "It will be necessary," says the writer, "that a certain
number of marks should be assigned to each subject, and that the place
of a candidate should be determined by the sum total of the marks which
he has gained. The marks ought, we conceive, to be distributed among the
subjects of examination in such a manner that no part of the kingdom,
and no class of schools, shall exclusively furnish servants to the East
India Company. It would be grossly unjust, for example, to the great
academical institutions of England, not to allow skill in Greek and
Latin versification to have a considerable share in determining the
issue of the competition. Skill in Greek and Latin versification has,
indeed, no direct tendency to form a judge, a financier, or a
diplomatist. But the youth who does best what all the ablest and most
ambitious youths about him are trying to do well will generally prove a
superior man; nor can we doubt that an accomplishment by which Fox and
Canning, Grenville and Wellesley, Mansfield and Tenterden first
distinguished themselves above their fellows, indicates powers of mind,
which, properly trained and directed, may do great service to the State.
On the other hand, we must remember that in the north of this island the
art of metrical composition in the ancient languages is very little
cultivated, and that men so eminent as Dugald Stewart, Horner, Jeffrey,
and Mackintosh, would probably have been quite unable to write a good
copy of Latin alcaics, or to translate ten lines of Shakspeare into
Greek iambics. We wish to see such a system of examination established
as shall not exclude from the service of the East India Company either
a Mackintosh or a Tenterden, either a Canning or a Horner."


Now, reverting to Macaulay's Table of Subjects as above exhibited, I may
observe that, till quite recently, no very serious alterations were ever
made upon it. The scale of marks, indeed, was altered more than once,
and sometimes Sanskrit and Arabic were struck off, and Jurisprudence and
Political Economy put in their stead; but, if we except the exclusion of
Political Philosophy in 1858, at the desire of the present Lord Derby,
from the Moral Science branch, the list remained, till Lord Salisbury's
late innovation, to all intents and purposes what it was at the
beginning. Here, for instance, is the prescription for 1875:--

    English Composition                                         500
    History of England, including that of the laws
      and constitution                                          500
    English Language and Literature                             500
    Language, literature, and history of Greece                 750
                                         Rome                   750
                                         France                 375
                                         Germany                375
                                         Italy                  375
    Mathematics, pure and mixed                               1,250
    Natural Sciences, that is, (1) chemistry, including
      heat; (2) electricity and magnetism; (3) geology
      and mineralogy; (4) zoology; (5) botany                 1,000

    *** The total (1,000) marks may be obtained by
    adequate proficiency in any two or more of the five
    branches of science included under this head.

    Moral Sciences, that is, logic, mental and
      moral philosophy                                          500
    Sanskrit, language and literature                           500
    Arabic, language and literature                             500

But Lord Salisbury's changes have been great and sweeping. They are
probably in keeping with the restriction of the competitor's age to
"over 17 under 19"; but, if so, they serve only to shew all the more
conclusively that the restriction is a mistake. A scheme that
distributes marks on anything but a rational and intelligent system; a
scheme that excludes the Natural History Sciences, mineralogy and
Geology, as well as Psychology and Moral Philosophy from its scope
altogether; a scheme that prescribes only _Elements_ and _Outlines_ of
such important subjects as Natural Science (Chemistry, Electricity and
Magnetism, &c.) and Political Economy--stands self-condemned. But, to do
it justice, let us produce the Table _in extenso_:--


    English Composition                                         300
    History of England, including _a period selected_
      by the candidate                                          300
    English Literature including _books selected_ by
      the candidate                                             300
    Greek                                                       600
    Latin                                                       800
    French                                                      500
    German                                                      500
    Italian                                                     400
    Mathematics, pure and mixed                               1,000
    Natural Science, that is, the _Elements_ of any
      two of the following Sciences viz.:--
    Chemistry, 500; Electricity and Magnetism,
      300; Experimental Laws of Heat and Light,
      300; Mechanical Philosophy, with _Outlines_
      of Astronomy, 300.
    Logic                                                       300
    _Elements_ of Political Economy                        300
    Sanskrit                                                    500
    Arabic                                                      500

    Further remarks are reserved for the sequel. Meanwhile,
    I give the scheme advocated by myself in the
    present Essay:--


    Mathematics                                                 500
    Natural Philosophy                                          500
    Chemistry                                                   500
    Biology, as physiology                                      500
    Mental Science                                              500

    Mineralogy                                           }
    Botany                                               } each 250
    Zoology                                              } or   300
    Geology                                              }

    As a substitute for language, literature, and philosophy
    of Greece, Rome, France, Germany, and Italy:--
    Greece--Institutions and History                            500
            Literature                                          250
    Rome--Institutions and History                              500
          Literature                                            250
    France--Literature                                          250
    Germany--Literature                                         250
    Italy--Literature                                           250
    Modern History                                            1,000

       *       *       *       *       *


The system of competitive examinations for the public service, of which
I have laid before the Section a brief history compiled from the
Reports, is one of those radical innovations that may ultimately lead to
great consequences. For the present, however, it leads to many debates.
Not merely does the working out of the scheme involve conflicting views,
but there is still, in many quarters, great hesitation as to whether the
innovation is to be productive of good or of evil. The Report of the
Playfair Commission, and the more recent Report relative to the changes
in the India Civil Service Regulations, indicate pretty broadly the
doubts that still cleave to many minds on the whole question. It is
enough to refer to the views of Sir Arthur Helps, W.R. Greg, and Dr.
Farr, expressed to the Playfair Commission, as decidedly adverse to the
competitive system. The authorities cited in the Report on the India
Examinations scarcely go the length of total condemnation; but many
acquiesce only because there is no hope of a reversal.

The question of the expediency of the system as a whole is not well
suited to a sectional discussion. We shall be much better employed in
adverting to some of those details in the conduct of the examinations
that have a bearing on the general education of the country, as well as
on the Civil Service itself. It was very well for the Commissioners, at
first starting, to be guided, in their choice of subjects and in their
assigning of values to those subjects, by the received branches of
education in the schools and colleges. But, sooner or later, these
subjects must be discussed on their intrinsic merits for the ends in
view. Indeed, the scheme of Lord Salisbury has already made the venture
that Macaulay declined to make; it has absolutely excluded some of the
best recognised subjects of our school and college teaching, instead of
leaving them to the option of the candidates.

I will occupy the present paper with the consideration of two
departments in the examination programme--the one relating to the

       *       *       *       *       *


The Commissioners' scheme of Mathematics and Natural Science is not, in
my opinion, accordant either with the best views of the relations of the
sciences, or with the best teaching usages.

In the classification of the Sciences, the first and most important
distinction is between the fundamental sciences, sometimes called the
Abstract sciences, and the derivative or Concrete branches. My purpose
does not require any nice clearing of the meanings of those technical
terms. It is sufficient to say that the fundamental sciences are those
that embrace distinct departments of the natural forces or phenomena;
and the derivative or concrete departments assume all the laws laid down
in the others, and apply them in certain spheres of natural objects. For
example, Chemistry is a primary, fundamental, or abstract science; and
Mineralogy is a derivative and concrete science. In Chemistry the stress
lies in explaining a peculiar kind of force, called chemical force; in
Mineralogy the stress is laid on the description and classification of
a select group of natural objects.

The fundamental, or departmental sciences, as most commonly accepted,
are these:--1. Mathematics; 2. Natural Philosophy, or Physics; 3.
Chemistry; 4. Biology; 5. Psychology. They may be, therefore, expressed
as Formal, Inanimate, Animate, and Mental. In these sciences, the idea
is to view exhaustively some department of natural phenomena, and to
assume the order best suited for the elucidation of the phenomena.
Mathematics, the Formal Science, exhausts the relations of Quantity
and Number; measure being a universal property of things. Natural
Philosophy, in its two divisions (molar and molecular), deals with one
kind of force; Chemistry with another: and the two together conspire to
exhaust the phenomena of _inanimate_ nature; being indispensably aided
by the laws and formulae of quantity, as given in Mathematics. Biology
turns over a new leaf; it takes up the phenomenon--Life, or the
_animated_ world. Finally, Psychology makes another stride, and embraces
the sphere of _mind_.

Now, there is no fact or phenomenon of the world that is not comprised
under the doctrines expounded in some one or other of these sciences.
We may have fifty "ologies" besides, but they will merely repeat for
special ends, or in special connections, the principles already
comprised in these five fundamental subjects. The regular, systematic,
exhaustive account of the laws of nature is to be found within their


Again, these sciences have a fixed order or sequence, the order of
dependence. Mathematics precedes them all, as being not dependent upon
any, while all are more or less dependent upon it. The physical forces
have to be viewed prior to the chemical; and both physical and chemical
forces are preparatory to vital. So there are reasons for placing Mental
Science last of all. Hence a student cannot comprehend chemistry without
natural philosophy, nor biology without both. You cannot stand a thorough
examination in chemistry without indirectly showing your knowledge of
physics; and a testing examination in biology would guarantee, with some
slight qualifications, both physics and chemistry.

Let us now turn to the other sciences--those that are not fundamental,
but derivative. The chief examples are the three commonly called Natural
History sciences--Mineralogy, Botany, Zoology. In these sciences no law
or principle is at work that has not been already brought forward in
the primary sciences. The properties of a Mineral are mathematical,
physical, and chemical: the testing of minerals is by measurement, by
physical tests, by chemical tests. The aim of this science is not to
teach forces unknown to the student of physics and chemistry; it is to
embrace, under the best classification, all the bodies called minerals,
and to describe the species in detail under mathematical, physical, and
chemical characters. It is the first in order of the _classificatory_
sciences. Its purpose in the economy of education is distinct and
peculiar; it imparts knowledge, not respecting laws, forces, or
principles of operating, but respecting the concrete constituents of
the world. It gives us a commanding view of one whole department of
the material universe; supplying information useful in practice, and
interesting to the feelings. It also brings into exercise the great
logical process, wanted on many occasions, the process of


So much for an instance from the Inorganic world, as showing the
distinction between the two kinds of sciences. Another example may be
cited from the field of Biology; it is a little more perplexing. For
"biology" is sometimes given as the name for the two concrete
classificatory sciences--botany and zoology. In point of fact, however,
there is a science that precedes those two branches, although blending
with them; the science commonly expressed by the older term,
'Physiology,' which is not a classificatory and a dependent science, but
a mother science, like chemistry. It expounds the peculiarities of
living bodies, as such, and the laws of living processes--such processes
as assimilation, nutrition, respiration, innervation, reproduction, and
so on. One division is Vegetable Physiology, which is generally fused
with the classificatory science of botany. Animal Physiology is allied
with zoology, but more commonly stands alone. Lastly, the Physiology of
the Human animal has been from time immemorial a distinct branch of
knowledge, and is, of course, the chief of them all. Man being the most
complicated of all organised beings, not only are the laws of his
vitality the most numerous, and the most practically interesting, but
they go far to include all that is to be said of the workings of animal
life in general. Thus, then, the mother science of Biology, as a general
or fundamental science, comprises Vegetable, Animal, and Human
physiology. The classificatory adjunct sciences are Botany and Zoology.
It is in the various aspects of the mother science that we look for the
account of all vital phenomena, and all practical applications to the
preservation of life. Even if we stop at these, we shall have a full
command of the laws of the animate world. But we may go farther, and
embrace the sciences that arrange, classify, and describe the
innumerable host of living beings. These have their own independent
interest and value, but they are not the sciences that of themselves
teach us the living processes.

Thus, then, a proper scheme of scientific instruction starts from the
essential, fundamental, and law-giving sciences--Mathematics, Physics,
Chemistry, Biology, and Mind. It then proceeds to the adjunct branches
--such as Mineralogy, Botany, Zoology: and I might add others, as
Geology, Meteorology, Geography, no one of which is primary; for they
all repeat in new connections, and for special purposes, the laws
systematically set forth in the primary sciences.

In the foregoing remarks, I do not advance any new or debatable views.
I believe the scientific world to be substantially in accord upon all
that I have here stated; any differences that there are in the manner
of expressing the points do not affect my present purpose--namely, to
discuss the scheme of the mathematical and physical sciences as set
forth in the Civil Service Examinations.


Under Mathematics (pure and mixed) the Commissioners (in their Scheme of
1875), include mathematics, properly so called, and those departments of
natural philosophy that are mathematically handled--statics, dynamics,
and optics. But the next branch, entitled "Natural Science," is what I
am chiefly to remark upon. Under it there is a fivefold enumeration:
--(1) Chemistry, including Heat; (2) Electricity and Magnetism; (3)
Geology and Mineralogy; (4) Zoology; (5) Botany. I cannot pretend to say
where the Commissioners obtained this arrangement of natural knowledge.
It is not supported by any authority that I am acquainted with. If the
scheme just set forth is the correct one, it has _three_ defects. First,
it does not embrace in one group the remaining parts of natural
philosophy, the _experimental_ branches which, with the mathematical
treatment, complete the department; one of these, Heat, is attached to
chemistry, to which undoubtedly it has important relations, but not such
as to withdraw it from physics and embody it in chemistry. Then, again,
the physical branches, Electricity and Magnetism, are coupled in a
department and made of co-equal value with chemistry together with heat.
I need not say that the united couple--electricity and magnetism--is in
point of extent of study not a half or a third of what is included in
the other coupling. Lastly, the three remaining members of the
enumeration are three natural history sciences; geology being coupled
with mineralogy--which is a secondary consideration. Now I think it
is quite right that these three sciences should have a place in the
competition. What is objectionable is, that Biology is represented
solely by its two classificatory components or adjuncts, botany and
zoology; there is no mother science of Physiology: and consequently the
knowledge of the vast region of the Laws of Life goes for nothing. Nor
can it be said that physiology is given with the others. The subject of
_vegetable_ physiology could easily enough be taken with Botany: I would
not make a quarrel upon this part. It is zoology and animal physiology
that cannot be so coupled. If we look to the questions actually set
under zoology, we shall see that there is no pretence to take in
physiology. I contend, therefore, that there is a radical omission in
the scheme of natural science; an omission that seems without any
justification. I am not here to sing the praises of Physiology: its
place is fixed and determined by the concurrence of all competent
judges: I merely point out that Zoology does not include it, but
presupposes it.

The Science scheme of the London University, to which the first Civil
Service Commissioners, Sir Edward Ryan and Sir John Lefevre, were
parties, is very nearly what I contend for. It gives the
order--Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Biology, Mental
Science (including Logic). In the working of that scheme, however,
Biology is made to comprehend both the mother science, Physiology, and
the two classificatory sciences, Botany and Zoology. Of course the
presence of two such enormous adjuncts cramps and confines the purely
physiological examination, which in my opinion should have full justice
done to it in the first instance: still, the physiology is not
suppressed nor reduced to a mere formality. Now, in any science scheme,
I would provide for the general sciences first, and take the others, so
far as expedient, in a new grouping, where those of a kind shall appear
together, and stand in their proper character, not as law-giving, but as
arranging and describing sciences. There is no more reason for coupling
Zoology with Physiology, than for tacking on Mineralogy to Chemistry.
In point of outward form, Mineralogy and Zoology are kindred subjects.

When the subjects are placed in the order that I have suggested, there
is an end of that promiscuous and random choosing that the arrangement
of the Commissioners suggests and encourages. To the specification of
the five heads of natural science, it is added, that the whole of the
1,000 marks may be gained by high eminence in any two; as if the choice
were a matter of indifference. Now, I cannot think that this suggestion
is in conformity with a just view of the continuity of science. When the
sciences are rightly arranged, there is but one order in the mother
sciences; if we are to choose a single science, it must be (with some
qualifications) the first; if two, the first and second, and so on. To
choose one of the higher sciences, Chemistry or Physiology, without the
others that precede, is irrational. Indeed, it would scarcely ever be
done, and for this reason. A man cannot have mastered Physiology without
having gone through Physics and Chemistry; and, although it is not
necessary that he should retain a hold of everything in these previous
sciences, yet he is sure to have done enough in both one and the other
to make it worth his while to take these up in the examination. So a
good chemist must have so much familiarity with Physics, as to make it
bad economy on his part not to give in Physics as well. The only case
where an earlier science might be dropped is Mathematics; for although
that finds its application extensively in Physics and indirectly in
Chemistry, yet there is a very large body of physical and chemical
doctrine that is not dependent upon any of the more difficult branches,
so that these may admit of being partially neglected. But, as an
examination in Physics ought to include (as in the London University)
all the mathematical applications, short of the higher calculus, it is
not likely that Mathematics would be often dropped. So that, as regards
the _mother_ sciences, the variation of choice would be reduced to the
different lengths that the candidate would go in the order as laid down.
As regards the other sciences--those of _classification_ and
_description_--the selection might certainly be arbitrary to this
extent, that Mineralogy, Botany, and Zoology might each be prescribed
alone. But then, whoever presented one of these would also present the
related mother science. He that took up Mineralogy, would infallibly
also take up the three first as far as Chemistry. He that gave in Botany
would probably take up Physiology, although not so necessarily, because
the area of plant Physiology is very limited, and has little bearing on
descriptive Botany, so that anything like a familiarity with Physiology
might be evaded. But he that took up Zoology, would to a certainty take
up Physiology; and very probably also the antecedent members of the
fundamental group. As to Geology, it is usually coupled with Mineralogy,
although involving also a slight knowledge of Botany and Zoology.
A competent mineralogist would be pretty sure to add Geology to his
professional subjects.

Before considering the re-arrangement of marks entailed by the proposed
distribution of the sciences, I must advert to the position of
Mathematics in the Commissioners' scheme. This position was first
assigned in the original draft of 1854, and on the motives therein set
forth with such ostentatious candour; namely, the wish to reward the
existing subjects of teaching, whatever they might be. Now, I contend
that it is wholly beside the ends either of the Indian Civil Service, or
of the Home Service, with known exceptions, to stimulate the very high
mathematical knowledge that has hitherto entered into the examination
scheme. A certain amount of Mathematics, the amount required in a pass
examination in the London University, is essential as a basis of
rational culture; but, for a good general education, all beyond that is
misdirected energy. After receiving the modicum required, the student
should pass on to the other sciences, and employ his strength in adding
Experimental Physics and Chemistry to his stock. Whether a candidate
succeeds or fails in the competitions, this is his best policy.


Without arguing the point farther, I will now come to the amended scheme
of science markings. It would be over-refining, and would not bring
conviction to the general public, to make out a case for inequality in
the five fundamental branches. It may be said that Physiology is of more
value than Chemistry, because it is farther on, and takes Chemistry with
it; the answer is, let the Physiology candidate go in and take marks in
Chemistry also, which he is sure to do. I have purposely avoided all
discussion about Mental Science; I merely assume it as a branch
coordinate with the prior sciences placed before it in the general list.
I would then simply, in conclusion, give the _primary sciences_,
Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Biology (as explained),
Mental Philosophy, each 500 marks. The other sciences, Mineralogy,
Botany, Zoology, Geology, I would make equal as between themselves, but
somewhat lower than the primaries. The reasons are already apparent: the
candidate for them would always have some of the others to present; and
their importance is, on the whole, less than the importance of the
law-giving sciences. I should conceive that 250 or 300 marks apiece
would be a proper amount of consideration shewn towards them. With that
figure, I believe many science students could take up one or other in
addition to the general sciences.

       *       *       *       *       *

The other topic that I am to bring forward is one of very serious
import. It concerns the Civil Service competitions only as a part of our
whole scheme of Education. I mean the position of LANGUAGES in our
examinations. While the vast field of Natural Science is comprised in
one heading, with a total of 1,000 marks (raised finally to 1,400), our
Civil Service scheme presents a row of five languages besides our
own--two ancient, and three modern--with an aggregate value of 2,625
marks, or 2,800, as finally adjusted. The India scheme has, in addition,
Sanskrit and Arabic, at 500 marks each; the reasons for this
prescription being, however, not the same as for the foregoing.

The place of Language in education is not confined to the question as
between the ancient and the modern languages. There is a wider enquiry
as to the place of languages as a whole. In pursuing this enquiry, we
may begin with certain things that are obvious and incontestable.

In the first place, it is apparent that if a man is sent to hold
intercourse with the people of a foreign nation, he must be able to
understand and to speak the language of that nation. Our India civil
servants are on that ground required to master the Hindoo spoken


In the next place, if a certain range of information that you find
indispensable is locked up in a foreign language, you are obliged to
learn the language. If, in course of time, all this information is
transferred to our native tongue, the necessity apparently ceases. These
two extreme suppositions will be allowed at once. There may, however,
be an indefinite number of intermediate stages. The information may be
partially translated; and it will then be a question whether the trouble
of learning the language should be incurred for the sake of the
untranslated part. Or, it may be wholly translated: but, conscious of
the necessary defects even of good translations, if the subject-matter
be supremely important, some people will think it worth while to learn
the language in order to obtain the knowledge in its greatest purity and
precision. This is a situation that admits of no certain rule. Our
clergy are expected to know the original languages of the Bible,
notwithstanding the abundance of translations; many of which must be far
superior in worth and authority to the judgment of a merely ordinary
proficient in Hebrew and in Greek.

It is now generally conceded that the classical languages are no longer
the exclusive depository of any kind of valuable information, as they
were two or three centuries ago. Yet they are still continued in the
schools as if they possessed their original function unabated. We do not
speak in them, nor listen to them spoken, nor write in them, nor read in
them, for obtaining information. Why then are they kept up? Many reasons
are given, as we know. There is an endeavour to show that even in their
original function, they are not quite effete. Certain professions are
said to rely upon them for some points of information not fully
communicated by the medium of English. Such is the rather indirect
example of the clergy with Greek. So, it is said that Law is not
thoroughly understood without Latin, because the great source of law,
the Roman code, is written in Latin, and is in many points
untranslatable. Further, it is contended that Greek philosophy cannot
be fully mastered without a knowledge of the language of Plato and
Aristotle. But an argument that is reduced to these examples must be
near its vanishing point. Not one of the cases stands a rigorous
scrutiny; and they are not relied upon as the main justification of the
continuance of classics. A new line of defence is opened up which was
not at all present to the minds of sixteenth century scholars. We are
told of numerous indirect and secondary advantages of cultivating
language in general and the classic languages in particular, which make
the acquisition a rewarding labour, even without one particle of the
primary use. But for these secondary advantages, languages could have no
claim to appear, with such enormous values, in the Civil Service scheme.


My purpose requires me to advert in these alleged secondary uses of
language, not, however, for the view of counter-arguing them, but rather
in order to indicate what seems to me the true mode of bringing them to
the proof.

The most usual phraseology for describing the indirect benefit of
languages is, that they supply a _training_ to the powers of the mind;
that, if not information, they are _culture_; that they re-act upon our
mastery of our own language, and so on. It is quite necessary, however,
to find phrases more definite and tangible than the slippery words
"culture" and "training": we must know precisely what particular powers
or aptitudes are increased by the study of a foreign language.
Nevertheless, the conclusions set forth in this paper do not require me
to work out an exhaustive review of these advantages. It is enough to
give as many as will serve for examples.

Now, it must be freely admitted as a possible case, that a practice
introduced in the first instance for a particular purpose, may be found
applicable to many other purposes; so much so, that, ceasing to be
employed for the original use, the practice may be kept up for the sake
of the after uses. For example, clothing was no doubt primarily
contrived for warmth; but it is not now confined to that: decoration or
ornament, distinction of sexes, ranks and offices, modesty--are also
attained by means of clothes. This example is a suggestive one. We have
only to suppose ourselves migrating to some African climate, where
clothing for warmth is absolutely dispensed with. We should not on that
account adopt literal nudity--we should still desire to maintain those
other advantages. The artistic decoration of the person would continue
to be thought of; and, as no amount of painting and tattooing, with
strings of beads superadded, would answer to our ideal of personal
elegance, we should have recourse to some light filmy textures, such as
would allow the varieties of drapery, colours, and design, and show off
the poetry of motion; we should also indicate the personal differences
that we were accustomed to show by vesture. But now comes the point of
the moral; we should not maintain our close heavy fabrics, our
great-coats, shawls and cloaks. These would cease with the need for
them. Perhaps the first emigrants would keep up the prejudice for their
warm things, but not so their successors.

Well, then, suppose the extreme case of a foreign language that is
entirely and avowedly superseded as regards communication and
interpretation of thoughts, but still furnishing so many valuable aids
to mental improvement, that we keep it up for the sake of these. As we
are not to hear, speak, or read the language, we do not need absolutely
to know the meaning of every word: we may, perhaps, dispense with much
of the technicality of its grammar. The vocables and the grammar would
be kept up exactly so far as to serve the other purposes, and no
farther. The teacher would have in view the secondary uses alone.
Supposing the language related to our own by derivation of words, and
that this was what we put stress upon; then the derivation would always
be uppermost in the teacher's thoughts. If it were to illustrate
Universal Grammar and Philology, this would be brought out to the
neglect of translation.


I have made an imaginary supposition to prepare the way for the real
case. The classical or language teacher, is assumed to be fully
conscious of the fact that the primary use of the languages is as good
as defunct; and that he is continued in office because of certain
clearly assigned secondary uses, but for which he would be superseded
entirely. Some of the secondary uses present to his mind, at all events
one of those that are put forward in argument, is that a foreign
language, and especially Latin, conduces to good composition in our own
language. And as we do compose in our own language, and never compose in
Latin, the teacher is bound to think mainly of the English part of the
task--to see that the pupils succeed in the English translation, whether
they succeed in the other or not. They may be left in a state of
considerable ignorance of good Latin forms (ignorance will never expose
them); but any defects in their English expression will be sure to be
disclosed. Again, it is said that Universal Grammar or Philology is
taught upon the basis of a foreign language. Is this object, in point of
fact, present to the mind of every teacher, and brought forward, even to
the sacrifice of the power of reading and writing, which, by the
supposition, is never to be wanted? Further, the Latin Grammar is said
to be a logical discipline. Is this, too, kept in view as a
predominating end? Once more, it is declared that, through the classics,
we attain the highest cultivation of Taste, by seeing models of
unparalleled literary form. Be it so: is this habitually attended to in
the teaching of these languages?

I believe I am safe in saying that, whilst these various secondary
advantages are put forward in the polemic as to the value of languages,
the teaching practice is by no means in harmony therewith. Even when in
word the supporters of classics put forward the secondary uses, in deed
they belie themselves. Excellence in teaching is held by them to
consist, in the first instance, in the power of accurate
interpretation,--as if that obsolete use were still _the_ use. If a
teacher does this well, he is reckoned a good teacher, although he does
little or nothing for the other ends, which in argument are treated as
the reason of his existence. Indeed, this is the kind of teaching that
is alone to be expected from the ordinary teacher; all the other ends
are more difficult than simple word teaching. Even when English
Composition, Logic and Taste are taught in the most direct way, they
are more abstruse than the simple teaching of a foreign language for
purposes of interpretation; but when tacked on as accessories to
instruction in a language, they are still more troublesome to impart.
A teacher of rare excellence may help his pupils in English style, in
philology, in logic, and in taste; but the mass of teachers can do very
little in any of those directions. They are never found fault with
merely because their teaching does not rise to the height of the great
arguments that justify their vocation; they would be found fault with,
if their pupils were supposed to have made little way in that first
function of language which is never to be called into exercise.

I do not rest satisfied with quoting the palpable inconsistency between
the practice of the teacher and the polemic of the defender of
languages. I believe, further, that it is not expedient to carry on so
many different acquisitions together. If you want to teach thorough
English, you need to arrange a course of English, allot a definite time
to it, and follow it with undivided attention during that time. If you
wish to teach Philology you must provide a systematic scheme, or else
a text-book of Philology, and bring together all the most select
illustrations from languages generally. So for Logic and for Taste.
These subjects are far too serious to be imparted in passing allusions
while the pupil is engaged in struggling with linguistic difficulties.
They need a place in the programme to themselves; and, when so provided
for, the small dropping contributions of the language teacher may easily
be dispensed with.


The argument for Languages may, no doubt, take a bolder flight, and go
so far as to maintain that the teacher does not need to turn aside from
his plain path to secure these secondary ends--now the only valuable
ends. The contention may be that in the close and rigorous attention to
mere interpretation, just as if interpretation were still the living
use, these other purposes are inevitably secured--good English,
universal grammar, logic, taste, &c. I think, however, that this is too
far from the fact to be very confidently maintained. Of course, were it
correct, the teacher should never have departed from it, as the best
teachers continually do, and glory in doing.

On the face of the thing, it must seem an unworkable position to
surrender the value of a language, as a language, and keep it up for
something else. The teaching must always be guided by the original,
although defunct, use; this is the natural, the easy, course to follow;
for the mass of teachers at all times it is the broad way. Whatever the
necessities of argument may drive a man to say, yet in his teaching he
cannot help postulating to himself, as an indispensable fiction, that
his pupils are some day or other to hear, to read, to speak, or to write
the language.

The intense conservatism in the matter of Languages--the alacrity to
prescribe languages on all sides, without inquiring whether they are
likely to be turned to account--may be referred to various causes. For
one thing--although the remark may seem ungracious and invidious--many
minds, not always of the highest force, are absorbed and intoxicated by
languages. But apart from this, languages are, by comparison, easy to
teach, and easy to examine upon. Now, if there is any motive in
education more powerful than another, it is ease in the work itself. We
are all, as teachers, copyists of that Irish celebrity who, when he came
to a good bit of road, paced it to and fro a number of times before
going forward to his destination on the rougher footing.

So far I may seem to be arguing against the teaching of language at all,
or, at any rate, the languages expressively called dead. I am not,
however, pressing this point farther than as an illustration. I do not
ask anyone to give an opinion against Classics as a subject of
instruction; although, undoubtedly, if this opinion were prevalent, my
principal task would be very much lightened. I have merely analysed the
utilities ascribed to the ancient and the modern languages, with a view
to settling their place in competitive examinations.

       *       *       *       *       *


My thesis, then, is, that languages are not a proper subject for
competition with a view to professional appointments. The explanation
falls under two heads.

In the first place, there are certain avocations where a foreign
language must be known, because it has to be used in actual business.
Such are the Indian spoken languages. Now, it is clear that in these
cases the knowledge of the language, as being a _sine quâ non_, must be
made imperative. This, however, as I think, is not a case for
competition, but for a sufficient pass. There is a certain pitch of
attainment that is desirable even at first entering the service; no one
should fall below this, and to rise much above it cannot matter a great
deal. At all events, I think the measure should be absolute and not
relative. I would not give a man merit in a competition because another
man happens to be worse than himself in a matter that all must know;
both the men may be absolutely bad.

It may be the case that certain languages are so admirably constructed
and so full of beauties that to study them is a liberal education in
itself. But this does not necessarily hold of every language that an
official of the British Empire may happen to need. It does not apply to
the Indian tongues, nor to Chinese, nor, I should suppose, to the Fiji
dialects. The only human faculty that is tested and brought into play in
these acquisitions is the commonest kind of memory exercised for a
certain time. The value to the Service of the man that can excel in
spoken languages does not lie in his superior administrative ability,
but in his being sooner fitted for actual duty. Undoubtedly, if two men
go out to Calcutta so unequal in their knowledge of native languages, or
in the preparation for that knowledge, that one can begin work in six
months, while the other takes nine, there is an important difference
between them. But what is the obvious mode of rewarding the difference?
Not, I should think, by pronouncing one a higher man in the scale of the
competition, but by giving him some money prize in proportion to the
redemption of his time for official work.

Now, as regards the second kind of languages--those that are supposed to
carry with them all the valuable indirect consequences that we have just
reviewed. There are in the Civil Service Scheme five such languages--two
ancient, and three modern. They are kept there, not because they are
ever to be read or spoken in the Service, but because they exercise some
magical efficacy in elevating the whole tone of the human intellect.

If I were discussing the Indian Civil Service in its own specialities,
I would deprecate the introduction of extraneous languages into the
competition, for this reason, that the Service itself taxes the verbal
powers more than any other service. I do not think that Lord Macaulay
and his colleagues had this circumstance fully in view. Macaulay was
himself a glutton for language; and, while in India, read a great
quantity of Latin and Greek. But he was exempted from the ordinary lot
of the Indian civil servant; he had no native languages to acquire and
to use. If a man both speaks and writes in good English, and converses
familiarly in several Oriental dialects, his language memory is
sufficiently well taxed, and if he carries with him one European
language besides, it is as much as belongs to the fitness of things in
that department.


My proposal, then, goes the length of excluding all these five
cultivated languages from the competition, notwithstanding the influence
that they may be supposed to have as general culture. In supporting it,
I shall assume that everything that can be said in their favour is true
to the letter: that they assist us in our own language, that they
cultivate logic and taste, that they exemplify universal grammar, and so
on. All that my purpose requires is to affirm that the same good ends
may be attained in other ways: that Latin, Greek, &c, are but one of
several instruments for instructing us in English composition,
reasoning, or taste. My contention, then, is that the _ends_ themselves
are to be looked to, and not the means or instruments, since these are
very various. English composition is, of course, a valuable end, whether
got through the study of Latin, or through the study of English authors
themselves, or through the inspiration of natural genius. Whatever
amount of skill and attainment a candidate can show in this department
should be valued _the examination for English_; and all the good that
Latin has done for him would thus be entered to his credit. If, then,
the study of Latin is found the best means of securing good marks in
English, it will be pursued on that account; if the candidate is able to
discover other less laborious ways of attaining the end, he will prefer
these ways.

The same applies to all the other secondary ends of language. Let them
be valued _in their own departments_. Let the improvement of the
reasoning faculty be counted wherever that is shown in the examination.
Good reasoning powers will evince themselves in many places, and will
have their, reward.

The principle is a plain and obvious one. It is that of payment for
results, without inquiring into the means. There are certain extreme
cases where the means are not improperly coupled with the results in the
final examination; and these are illustrations of the principle. Thus,
in passing a candidate for the medical profession, the final end is his
or her knowledge of diseases and their remedies. As it is admitted,
however, that there are certain indispensable preparatory
studies--anatomy, physiology, and materia medica--such studies are made
part of the examination, because they contribute to the testing for the
final end.


The argument is not complete until we survey another branch of the
subject of examination in languages. It will be observed in the wording
of the programme that each separate language is coupled with 'literature
and history (or, as latterly expressed, 'literature--including books
selected by the candidate')'. It is the Language, Literature, and
History of Rome, Greece, &c. And the examination questions show the
exact scope of these adjuncts, and also the values attached to them, as
compared with the language by itself.

Let us consider this matter a little. Take History first, as being the
least perplexed. Greece and Rome have both a certain lasting importance
attaching to their history and institutions; and these accordingly are a
useful study. Of course, the extant writings are the chief groundwork of
our knowledge of these, and must be read. But, at the present day, all
that can be extracted from the originals is presented to the student in
English books; and to these he is exclusively referred for this part of
his knowledge. In the small portion of original texts that a pupil at
school or college toils through, he necessarily gets a few of the
historical facts at first hand; but he could much more easily get these
few where he gets the rest--in the English compilations. Admitting,
then, that the history and institutions of Greece and Rome constitute a
valuable education, it is in our power to secure it independently of the
original tongues.

The other branch--Literature--is not so easily disposed of. In fact, the
separating of the literature from the language, you will say, is a
self-evident absurdity. That, however, only shows that you have not
looked carefully into examination papers. I am not concerned with what
the _à priori_ imagination may suppose to be Literature, but with the
actual questions put by examiners under that name. I find that such
questions are, generally speaking, very few, perhaps one or two in a
long paper, and nearly all pertain to the outworks of literature, so to
speak. Here is the Latin literature of one paper:--In what special
branch of literature were the Romans independent of the Greeks? Mention
the principal writers in it, with the peculiar characteristics of each.
Who was the first to employ the hexameter in Latin poetry, and in what
poem? To what language is Latin most nearly related; and what is the
cause of their great resemblance? The Greek literature of the same
examination involves these points:--The Aristophanic estimate of
Euripides, with criticisms on its taste and justice (for which, however,
a historical subject is given as an alternative); the Greek chorus, and
choric metres. Now such an examination is, in the first place, a most
meagre view of literature: it does not necessarily exercise the faculty
of critical discernment. In the next place, it is chiefly a matter of
compilation from English sources; the actual readings of the candidate
in Greek and Latin would be of little account in the matter. Of course,
the choric metres could not be described without some knowledge of
Greek, but the matter is of very trifling importance in an educational
point of view. Generally speaking, the questions in literature, which in
number bear no proportion to historical questions, are such as might be
included under history, as the department of the History of Literature.


The distribution of the 750 marks allotted respectively to Latin and to
Greek, in the scheme of 1875, is this. There are three papers: two are
occupied exclusively with translation. The third is language,
literature, and history: the language means purely grammatical
questions; so that possibly 583 marks are for the language proper. The
remaining number, 167, should be allotted equally between literature and
history, but history has always the lion's share, and is in fact the
only part of the whole examination that has, to my mind, any real worth.
It is generally a very searching view of important institutions and
events, together with what may be called their philosophy. Now, the
reform that seems to me to be wanted is to strike out everything else
from the examination. At the same time, I should like to see the
experiment of a _real_ literary examination, such as did not necessarily
imply a knowledge of the originals.

It is interesting to turn to the examination in modern languages, where
the ancient scheme is copied, by appending literature and history. Here
the Literature is decidedly more prominent and thorough. There is also
a fair paper of History questions. What strikes us, however, in this,
is a slavish adherence to the form, without the reality, of the ancient
situation. We have independent histories of Greece and Rome, but
scarcely of Germany, France, and Italy. Instead of partitioning Modern
European history among the language-examiners for English, French,
German, Italian, it would be better to relieve them of history
altogether, and place the subject as a whole in the hands of a distinct
examiner. I would still allow merit for a literary examination in
French, German, and Italian, but would strike off the languages, and let
the candidate get up the literature as he chose. The basis of a
candidate's literary knowledge, and his first introduction to
literature, ought to be his own language: but he may extend his
discrimination and his power by other literatures, either in
translations or in originals, as he pleases; still the examination, as
before, should test the discrimination and the power, and not the
vocabulary of the languages themselves.

In order to do full justice to classical antiquity, I would allow
markings at the rate of 500 for Political Institutions and History, and
250 for Literature. Some day this will be thought too much; but
political philosophy or sociology may become more systematic than at
present, and history questions will then take a different form.

In like manner, I would abolish the language-examination in modern
languages, and give 250 marks for the literature of each of the three
modern languages--French, German, Italian. The history would be taken as
Modern History, with an adequate total value.

The objections to this proposal will mainly resolve themselves into its
revolutionary character. The remark will at once be made that the
classical languages would cease to be taught, and even the modern
languages discouraged. The meaning of this I take to be, that, if such
teaching is judged solely by its fruits, it must necessarily be

The only way to fence this unpalatable conclusion, is to maintain that
the results could not be fully tested in an examination as suggested.
Some of these are so fine, impalpable, and spiritual in their texture,
that they cannot be seized by any questions that can be put; and would
be dropped out if the present system were changed. But results so
untraceable cannot be proved to exist at all.


So far from the results being missed by disusing the exercises of
translation, one might contend that they would only begin to be
appreciated fairly when the whole stress of the examination is put upon
them. If an examiner sets a paper in Roman Law, containing long Latin
extracts to be translated, he is starving the examination in Law by
substituting for it an examination in Latin. Whatever knowledge of Latin
terminology is necessary to the knowledge of Law should be required, and
no more. So, it is not an examination in Aristotle to require long
translations from the Greek; only by dispensing with all this, does the
main subject receive proper attention.

If the properly literary part of the present examinations were much of
a reality, there would be a nice discussion as to the amount of literary
tact that could be imparted in connection with a foreign language, as
translated or translatable. But I have made an ample concession, when I
propose that the trial should be made of examining in literature in this
fashion; and I do not see any difficulty beyond the initial repugnance
of the professors of languages to be employed in this task, and the
fear, on the part of candidates, that, undue stress might be placed on
points that need a knowledge of originals.

       *       *       *       *       *

I will conclude with a remark on the apparent tendency of the wide
options in the Commissioners' scheme. No one subject is obligatory; and
the choice is so wide that by a very narrow range of acquirements a man
may sometimes succeed. No doubt, as a rule, it requires a considerable
mixture of subjects: both sciences and literature have to be included.
But I find the case of a man entering the Indian Service by force of
Languages alone, which I cannot but think a miscarriage. Then the very
high marks assigned to Mathematics allow a man to win with no other
science, and no other culture, but a middling examination in English.
To those that think so highly of foreign languages, this must seem a much
greater anomaly than it does to me. I would prefer, however, that such a
candidate had traversed a wider field of science, instead of excelling
in high mathematics alone.

There are, I should say, _three_ great regions of study that should be
fairly represented by every successful candidate. The first is the
Sciences as a whole, in the form and order that I have suggested. The
second is English Composition, in which successful men in the Indian
competition sometimes show a cipher. The third is what I may call
loosely the Humanities, meaning the department of institutions and
history, with perhaps literature: to be computed in any or all of the
regions of ancient and modern history. In every one of these three
departments, I would fix a minimum, below which the candidate must not


[Footnote 6: _The Civil Service Examination Scheme, considered with
reference (1) to Sciences, and (2) to Languages_. A paper read before
the Educational Section of the Social Science Association, at the
meeting in Aberdeen. 1877: with additions relevant to Lord Salisbury's

       *       *       *       *       *




In the present state of the controversy on classical studies, the
publication of George Combe's contributions to Education is highly
opportune. Combe took the lead in the attack on these studies fifty
years ago, and Mr. Jolly, the editor of the volume, gives a connected
view of the struggle that followed. The results were, on the whole, not
very great. A small portion of natural science was introduced into the
secondary schools; but as the classical teaching was kept up as before,
the pupils were simply subjected to a greater crush of subjects; they
could derive very little benefit from science introduced on such terms.
The effect on the Universities was _nil_; they were true to Dugald
Stewart's celebrated deliverance on their conservatism.[8] The general
public, however, were not unmoved; during a number of years there was
a most material reduction in the numbers attending all the Scotch
Universities, and the anti-classical agitation was reputed to be the

The reasonings of Combe will still repay perusal. He puts with great
felicity and clearness the standing objections to the classical system;
while he is exceedingly liberal in his concessions, and moderate in his
demands. "I do not denounce the ancient languages and classical
literature on their own account, or desire to see them cast into utter
oblivion. I admit them to be refined studies, and think that there are
individuals who, having a natural turn for them, learn them easily and
enjoy them much. They ought, therefore, to be cultivated by all such
persons. My objection is solely to the practice of rendering them the
main substance of the education bestowed on young men who have no taste
or talent for them, and whose pursuits in life will not render them a
valuable acquisition."

Before alluding to the more recent utterances in defence of classical
teaching, I wish to lay out as distinctly as I can the various
alternatives that are apparently now before us as respects the higher
education--that is to say, the education begun in the secondary or
grammar schools, and completed and stamped in the Universities.


1. The existing system of requiring proficiency in both classical
languages. Except in the University of London, this requirement is still
imperative. The other Universities agree in exacting Latin and Greek as
the condition of an Arts' Degree, and in very little else. The defenders
of classics say with some truth that these languages are the principal
basis of uniformity in our degrees; if they were struck out, the public
would not know what a degree meant.

How exclusive was the study of Latin and Greek in the schools in
England, until lately, is too well known to need any detailed statement.
A recent utterance of Mr. Gladstone, however, has felicitously supplied
the crowning illustration. At Eton, in his time, the engrossment with
classics was such as to keep out religious instruction!

As not many contend that Latin and Greek make an education in
themselves, we may not improperly call to mind what other things it has
been found possible to include with them in the scope of the Arts'
Degree. The Scotch Universities were always distinguished from the
English in the breadth of their requirements: they have comprised, for
many ages, three other subjects; mathematics, natural philosophy, and
mental philosophy (including logic and ethics). In exceptional
instances, another science is added; in one case, natural history, in
another, chemistry. According to the notions of scientific order and
completeness in the present day, a full course of the primary sciences
would comprise mathematics, natural philosophy, chemistry, physiology or
biology, and mental philosophy. The natural history branches are not
looked upon as primary sciences; they give no laws, but repeat the laws
of the primary sciences while classifying the kingdoms of Nature. (See
paragraph that begins with: In the classification of the sciences ...).

In John Stuart Mill's celebrated Address at St. Andrews, he stood up for
the continuance of the Classics in all their integrity, and suddenly
became a great authority with numbers of persons who probably had never
treated him as an authority before. But his advocacy of the classics was
coupled with an equally strenuous advocacy for the extension of the
scientific course to the full circle of the primary sciences; that is to
say, he urged the addition of chemistry and physiology to the received
sciences. Those that have so industriously brandished his authority for
retaining classics, are discreetly silent upon this other
recommendation. He was too little conversant with the working of
Universities to be aware that the addition of two sciences to the
existing course was impracticable; and he was never asked which
alternative he would prefer. I am inclined to believe that he would have
sacrificed the classics to scientific completeness; he would have been
satisfied with the quantum of these already gained at school. But while
we have no positive assurance on this point, I consider that his opinion
should be wholly discounted as not bearing on the actual case.


The founders of the University of London attempted to realise Mill's
conception to the full. They retained Classics; they added English and
a modern language, and completed the course of the primary sciences by
including both Chemistry and Physiology. This was a noble experiment,
and we can now report on its success. The classical languages, English
and French or German, mathematics and natural philosophy, and (after a
time) logic and moral philosophy, were all kept at a good standard; thus
exceeding the requirements of the Scotch Universities at the time by
English and a modern language. The amount of attainment in chemistry was
very small, and was disposed of in the Matriculation examination.
Physiology was reserved for the final B.A. examination, and was the
least satisfactory of all. Having myself sat at the Examining Board
while Dr. Sharpey was Examiner in Physiology, I had occasion to know
that he considered it prudent to be content with a mere show of studying
the subject. Thus, though the experience of the University of London, as
well as of the Scotch Universities, proves that the classical languages
are compatible with a very tolerable scientific education, yet these
will need to be curtailed if every one of the fundamental sciences, as
Mill urged, is to be represented at a passable figure.

In the various new proposals for extending the sphere of scientific
knowledge, a much smaller amount of classics is to be required, but
neither of the two languages is wholly dispensed with. If not taught at
college, they must be taken up at school as a preparation for entering
on the Arts' curriculum in the University. This can hardly be a
permanent state of things, but it is likely to be in operation for some

2. The remitting of Greek in favour of a modern language is the
alternative most prominently before the public at present. It accepts
the mixed form of the old curriculum, and replaces one of the dead
languages by one of the living. Resisted by nearly the whole might of
the classical party, this proposal finds favour with the lay professions
as giving one language that will actually be useful to the pupils as a
language. It is the very smallest change that would be a real relief.
That it will speedily be carried we do not doubt.

Except as a relaxation of the grip of classicism, this change is not
altogether satisfactory. That there must be two languages (besides
English) in order to an Arts' Degree is far from obvious. Moreover,
although it is very desirable that every pupil should have facilities at
school or at college for commencing modern languages, these do not rank
as indispensable and universal culture, like the knowledge of sciences
and of literature generally. They would have to be taught along with
their respective literatures to correspond to the classics.

Another objection to replacing classics by modern languages is the
necessity of importing foreigners as teachers. Now, although there are
plenty of Frenchmen and Germans that can teach as well as any
Englishman, it is a painful fact that foreigners do oftener miscarry,
both in teaching and in discipline, with English pupils, than our own
countrymen. Foreign masters are well enough for those that go to them
voluntarily with the desire of being taught; it is as teachers in a
compulsory curriculum that their inferiority becomes apparent.

The retort is sometimes made to this proposal--Why omit Greek rather
than Latin? Should you not retain the greater of the two languages? This
may be pronounced as mainly a piece of tactics; for every one must know
that the order of teaching Latin and Greek at the schools will never be
topsyturvied to suit the fancy of an individual here and there, even
although John Stuart Mill himself was educated in that order. On the
scheme of withdrawing all foreign languages from the imperative
curriculum, and providing for them as voluntary adjuncts, such freedom
of selection would be easy.[9]


3. Another alternative is to remit both Latin and Greek in favour of
French and German. Strange to say, this advance upon the previous
alternative was actually contained in Mr. Gladstone's ill-fated Irish
University Bill. Had that Bill succeeded, the Irish would have been
for fourteen years in the enjoyment of a full option for both the
languages.[10] From a careful perusal of the debates, I could not
discover that the opposition ever fastened upon this bold surrender of
the classical exclusiveness.

The proposal was facilitated by the existence of professors of French
and German in the Queen's Colleges, In the English and Scotch Colleges
endowments are not as yet provided for these languages; although it
would be easy enough to make provision for them in Oxford and Cambridge.

In favour of this alternative, it is urged that the classics, if entered
on at all, should be entered on thoroughly and entirely. The two
languages and literatures form a coherent whole, a homogeneous
discipline; and those that do not mean to follow this out should not
begin it. Some of the upholders of classics take this view.

4. More thorough-going still is the scheme of complete bifurcation of
the classical and the modern sides. In our great schools there has been
instituted what is called the _modern side_, made up of sciences and
modern languages, together with Latin. The understanding hitherto has
been, that the votaries of the ancient and classical side should alone
proceed to the Universities; the modern side being the introduction to
commercial life, and to professions that dispense with a University
degree. Here, as far as the schools are concerned, a fair scope is given
to modern studies.

As was to be expected, the modern side is now demanding admission to the
Universities on its own terms; that is, to continue the same line of
studies there, and to be crowned with the same distinctions as the
classical side. This attempt to render school and college homogeneous
throughout, to treat ancient studies and modern studies as of equal
value in the eye of the law, will of course be resisted to the utmost.
Yet it seems the only solution likely to bring about a settlement that
will last.

The defenders of the classical system in its extreme exclusiveness are
fond of adducing examples of very illustrious men who at college showed
an utter incapacity for science in its simplest elements. They say that,
by classics alone, these men are what they are, and if their way had
been stopped by serious scientific requirements, they would have never
come before the world at all. The allegation is somewhat strongly put;
yet we shall assume it to be correct, on condition of being allowed to
draw an inference. If some minds are so constituted for languages, and
for classics in particular, may not there be other minds equally
constituted for science, and equally incapable of taking up two
classical languages? Should this be granted, the next question is--Ought
these two classes of minds to be treated as equal in rights and
privileges? The upholders of the present system say, No. The Language
mind is the true aristocrat; the Science mind is an inferior creation.
Degrees and privileges are for the man that can score languages, with
never so little science; outer darkness is assigned to the man whose
_forte_ is science alone. But a war of caste in education is an unseemly
thing; and, after all the levelling operations that we have passed
through, it is not likely that this distinction will be long preserved.


The modern side, as at present constituted, still retains Latin. There
is a considerable strength of feeling in favour of that language for all
kinds of people; it is thought to be a proper appendage of the lay
professions; and there is a wide-spread opinion in favour of its utility
for English. So much is this the case, that the modern-siders are at
present quite willing to come under a pledge to keep up Latin, and to
pass in it with a view to the University. In fact, the schools find this
for the present the most convenient arrangement. It is easier to supply
teaching in Latin than in a modern language, or in most other things;
and while Latin continues to be held in respect, it will remain
untouched. Yet the quantity of time occupied by it, with so little
result, must ultimately force a departure from the present curriculum.
The real destination of the modern side is to be modern throughout. It
should not be rigorously tied down even to a certain number of modern
languages. English and one other language ought to be quite enough; and
the choice should be free. On this footing, the modern side ought to
have its place in the schools as the co-equal of classics; it would be
the natural precursor of the modernised alternatives in the
Universities; those where knowledge subjects predominate.

The proposal to give an _inferior degree_ to a curriculum that excludes
Greek should, in my judgment, be simply declined. It is, however, a
matter of opinion whether, in point of tactics, the modern party did not
do well to accept this as an instalment in the meantime. The Oxford
offer, as I understand it, was so far liberal, that the new degree was
to rank equal in privileges with the old, although inferior in
_prestige_. In Scotland, the decree conceded by the classical party to
a Greekless education was worthless, and was offered for that very


Among the adherents of classics, Professor Blackie is distinguished for
surrendering the study of them in the case of those that cannot profit
by them. He believes that with a free alternative, such as the thorough
bifurcation into two sides would give, they would still hold their
ground, and bear all their present fruits. His classical brethren,
however, do not in general share this conviction. They seem to think
that if they can no longer compel every University graduate to pass
beneath the double yoke of Rome and Greece, these two illustrious
nationalities will be in danger of passing out of the popular mind
altogether. For my own part, I do not share their fears, nor do I think
that, even on the voluntary footing, the study of the two languages will
decline with any great rapidity. As I have said, the belief in Latin is
wide and deep. Whatever may be urged as to the extraordinary stringency
of the intellectual discipline now said to be given by means of Latin
and Greek, I am satisfied that the feeling with both teachers and
scholars is, that the process of acquisition is not toilsome to either
party; less so perhaps than anything that would come in their place.
Of the hundreds of hours spent over them, a very large number are
associated with listless idleness. Carlyle describes Scott's novels as
a "beatific lubber land"; with the exception of the "beatific," we might
say nearly the same of classics. To all which must be added the immense
endowments of classical teaching; not only of old date but of recent
acquisition. It will be a very long time before these endowments can be
diverted, even although the study decline steadily in estimation.

The thing that stands to reason is to place the modern and the ancient
studies on exactly the same footing; to accord a fair field and no
favour. The public will decide for themselves in the long run. If the
classical advocates are afraid of this test, they have no faith in the
merits of their own case.

       *       *       *       *       *

The arguments _pro_ and _con_ on the question have been almost
exhausted. Nothing is left except to vary the expression and
illustration. Still, so long as the monopoly exists, it will be argued
and counter-argued; and, if there are no new reasons, the old will have
to be iterated.


Perhaps the most hackneyed of all the answers to the case for the
classics is the one that has been most rarely replied to. I mean the
fact that the Greeks were not acquainted with any language but their
own. I have never known an attempt to parry this thrust. Yet, besides
the fact itself, there are strong presumptions in favour of the position
that to know a language well, you should devote your time and strength
to it alone, and not attempt to learn three or four. Of course, the
Greeks were in possession of the most perfect language, and were not
likely to be gainers by studying the languages of their contemporaries.
So, we too are in possession of a very admirable language, although put
together in a nondescript fashion; and it is not impossible that if
Plato had his Dialogues to compose among us, he would give his whole
strength to working up our own resources, and not trouble himself with
Greek. The popular dictum--_multum non multa_, doing one thing well--may
be plausibly adduced in behalf of parsimony in the study of languages.

The recent agitation in Cambridge, in Oxford, and indeed, all over the
country, for remitting the study of Greek as an essential of the Arts'
Degree, has led to a reproduction of the usual defences of things as
they are. The articles in the March number of the _Contemporary Review,
1879_, by Professors Blackie and Bonamy Price, may claim to be the
_derniers mots_.

Professor Blackie's article is a warning to the teachers of classics, to
the effect that they must change their front; that, whereas the value of
the classics as a key to thought has diminished, and is diminishing,
they must by all means in the first place improve their drill. In fact,
unless something can be done to lessen the labour of the acquisition by
better teaching, and to secure the much-vaunted intellectual discipline
of the languages, the battle will soon be lost. Accordingly, the
professor goes minutely into what he conceives the best methods of
teaching. It is not my purpose to follow him in this sufficiently
interesting discussion. I simply remark that he is staking the case, for
the continuance of Latin and Greek in the schools, on the possibility of
something like an entire revolution in the teaching art. Revolution is
not too strong a word for what is proposed. The weak part of the new
position is that the value of the languages _as languages_ has declined,
and has to be made up by the incident of their value as _drill_. This
is, to say the least, a paradoxical position for a language teacher. If
it is mere drill that is wanted, a very small corner of one language
would suffice. The teacher and the pupil alike are placed between the
two stools--interpretation and drill. A new generation of teachers must
arise to attain the dexterity requisite for the task.

Professor Blackie's concession is of no small importance in the actual
situation. "No one is to receive a full degree without showing a fair
proficiency in two foreign languages, one ancient and one modern, with
free option." This would almost satisfy the present demand everywhere,
and for some time to come.


The article of Professor Bonamy Price is conceived in even a higher
strain than the other. There is so far a method of argumentation in it
that the case is laid out under four distinct heads, but there is no
decisive separation of reasons; many of the things said under one head
might easily be transferred without the sense of dislocation to any
other head. The writer indulges in high-flown rhetorical assertions
rather than in specific facts and arguments. The first merit of classics
is that "they are languages; not particular sciences, nor definite
branches of knowledge, but literatures". Under this head we have such
glowing sentences as these: "Think of the many elements of thought a boy
comes in contact with when he reads Caesar and Tacitus in succession,
Herodotus and Homer, Thucydides and Aristotle". "See what is implied in
having read Homer intelligently through, or Thucydides or Demosthenes;
what light will have been shed on the essence and laws of human
existence, on political society, on the relations of man to man, on
human nature itself." There are various conceivable ways of
counter-arguing these assertions, but the shortest is to call for the
facts--the results upon the many thousands that have passed through
their ten years of classical drill. Professor Campbell of St. Andrews,
once remarked, with reference to the value of Greek in particular, that
the question would have to be ultimately decided by the inner
consciousness of those that have undergone the study. To this we are
entitled to add, their powers as manifested to the world, of which
powers spectators can be the judges. When, with a few brilliant
exceptions, we discover nothing at all remarkable in the men that have
been subjected to the classical training, we may consider it as almost
a waste of time to analyse the grandiloquent assertions of Mr. Bonamy
Price. But if we were to analyse them, we should find that _boys_ never
read Caesar and Tacitus through in succession; still less Thucydides
Demosthenes, and Aristotle; that very few _men_ read and understand
these writers; that the shortest way to come into contact with Aristotle
is to avoid his Greek altogether, and take his expositors and
translators in the modern languages.

The professor is not insensible to the reproach that the vaunted
classical education has been a failure, as compared with these splendid
promises. He says, however, that though many have failed to become
classical scholars in the full sense of the word, "it does not follow
that they have gained nothing from their study of Greek and Latin; just
the contrary is the truth". The "contrary" must mean that they have
gained something; which something is stated to be "the extent to which
the faculties of the boy have been developed, the quantity of impalpable
but not less real attainments he has achieved, and his general readiness
for life, and for action as a man". But it is becoming more and more
difficult to induce people to spend a long course of youthful years upon
a confessedly _impalpable_ result. We might give up a few months to a
speculative and doubtful good, but we need palpable consequences to show
for our years spent on classics. Next comes the admission that the
teaching is often bad. But why should the teaching be so bad, and what
is the hope of making it better? Then we are told that science by itself
leaves the largest and most important portion of the youths' nature
absolutely undeveloped. But, in the first place, it is not proposed to
reduce the school and college curriculum to science alone; and, in the
next place, who can say what are the "impalpable" results of science?


The second branch of the argument relates to the greatness of the
classical writers. Undoubtedly the Greek and Roman worlds produced some
very great writers, and a good many not great. But the greatness of
Herodotus, Thucydides, Demosthenes, Plato, and Aristotle can be
exhibited in a modern rendering; while no small portion of the poetical
excellence of Homer and the Dramatists can be made apparent without
toiling at the original tongues. The value of the languages then
resolves itself, as has been often remarked, into a _residuum_.
Something also is to be said for the greatness of the writers that have
written in modern times. Sir John Herschel remarked long ago that the
human intellect cannot have degenerated, so long as we are able to quote
Newton, Lagrange and Laplace, against Aristotle and Archimedes. I would
not undertake to say that any modern mind has equalled Aristotle in the
_range_ of his intellectual powers; but in point of intensity of grasp
in any one subject, he has many rivals; so that to obtain his equal, we
have only to take two or three first-rate moderns.

If a few fanatics are to go on lauding to the skies the exclusive and
transcendent greatness of the classical writers, we shall probably be
tempted to scrutinize their merits more severely than is usual. Many
things could be said against their sufficiency as instructors in matters
of thought; and many more against the low and barbarous tone of their
_morale_--the inhumanity and brutality of both their principles and
their practice. All this might no doubt be very easily overdone, and
would certainly be so, if undertaken in the style of Professor Price's

The professor's third branch of the argument comes to the real point;
namely, what is there in Greek and Latin that there is not in the modern
tongues? For one thing, says the professor, they are dead; which of
course we allow. Then, being dead, they must be learnt by book and by
rule; they cannot be learnt by ear. Here, however, Professor Blackie
would dissent, and would say that the great improvement of teaching, on
which the salvation of classical study now hangs, is to make it a
teaching by the ear. But, says Professor Price: "A Greek or Latin
sentence is a nut with a strong shell concealing the kernel--a puzzle,
demanding reflection, adaptation of means to end, and labour for its
solution, and the educational value resides in the shell and in the
puzzle". As this strain of remark is not new, there is nothing new to be
said in answer to it. Such puzzling efforts are certainly not the rule
in learning Latin and Greek. Moreover, the very same terms would
describe what may happen equally often in reading difficult authors in
French, German, or Italian. Would not the pupil find puzzles and
difficulties in Dante, or in Goethe? And are there not many puzzling
exercises in deciphering English authors? Besides, what is the great
objection to science, but that it is too puzzling for minds that are
quite competent for the puzzles of Greek and Latin? Once more, the
_teaching_ of any language must be very imperfect, if it brings about
habitually such situations of difficulty as are here described.


The professor relapses into a cooler and correcter strain when he
remarks that the pupil's mind is necessarily more delayed over the
expression of a thought in a foreign language (whether dead or alive
matters not), and therefore remembers the meaning better. Here, however,
the desiderated reform of teaching might come into play. Granted that
the boy left to himself would go more rapidly through Burke than through
Thucydides, might not his pace be retarded by a well-directed
cross-examination; with this advantage, that the length of attention
might be graduated according to the importance of the subject, and not
according to the accidental difficulty of the language?

The professor boldly grapples with the alleged waste of time in
classics, and urges that "the gain may be measured by the time
expended," which is very like begging the question.

One advantage adduced under this head deserves notice. The languages
being dead, as well as all the societies and interests that they
represent, they do not excite the prejudices and passions of modern
life. This, however, may need some qualification. Grote wrote his
history of Greece to counterwork the party bias of Mitford. The battles
of despotism, oligarchy, and democracy are to this hour fought over the
dead bodies of Greece and Rome. If the professor meant to insinuate,
that those that have gone through the classical training are less
violent as partisans, more dispassionate in political judgments, than
the rest of mankind, we can only say that we should not have known this
from our actual experience. The discovery of some sweet, oblivious,
antidote to party feeling seems, as far as we can judge, to be still in
the future. If we want studies that will, while they last, thoroughly
divert the mind from the prejudices of party, science is even better
than ancient history; there are no party cries connected with the
Binomial Theorem.

The professor's last branch of argument, I am obliged, with all
deference, to say, contains no argument at all. It is that, in classical
education, a close contact is established between the mind of the boy
and the mind of the master. He does not even attempt to show how the
effect is peculiar to classical teaching. The whole of this part of the
paper is, in fact, addressed, by way of remonstrance, to the writer's
own friends, the classical teachers. He reproaches them for their
inefficiency, for their not being Arnolds. It is not my business to
interfere between him and them in this matter. So much stress does he
lay upon the teacher's part in the work, that I almost expected the
admission--that a good teacher in English, German, natural history,
political economy, might even be preferable to a bad teacher of Latin
and Greek.

       *       *       *       *       *


The recent Oxford contest has brought out the eminent oratorical powers
of Canon Liddon; and we have some curiosity in noting his contributions
to the classical side. I refer to his letters in the _Times_. The gist
of his advocacy of Greek is contained in the following allegations.
First, the present system enables a man to recur with profit and
advantage to Greek literature. To this, it has been often replied, that
by far the greater number are too little familiarized with the classical
languages, and especially Greek, to make the literature easy reading.
But farther, the recurring to the study of ancient authors by busy
professional men in the present day, is an event of such extreme rarity
that it cannot be taken into account in any question of public policy.
The second remark is, that the half-knowledge of the ordinary graduate
is a link between the total blank of the outer world, and the thorough
knowledge of the accomplished classic. I am not much struck by the force
of this argument. I think that the classical scholar, might, by
expositions, commentaries, and translations, address the outer world
equally well, without the intervening mass of imperfect scholars.
Lastly, the Canon puts in a claim for his own cloth. The knowledge of
Greek paves the way for serious men to enter the ministry in middle
life. Argument would be thrown away upon any one that could for a moment
entertain this as a sufficient reason for compelling every graduate in
Arts to study Greek. The observation that I would make upon it has a
wider bearing. Middle life is not too late for learning any language
that we suddenly discover to be a want; the stimulus of necessity or of
strong interest, and the wider compass of general knowledge, compensate
for the diminution of verbal memory.


[Footnote 7: CONTEMPORARY REVIEW, August, 1879. A few months previously,
there were printed, in the Review, papers on the Classical question, by
Professors Blackie and Bonamy Price; both of which are here alluded to
and quoted, so far as either is controverted or concurred with.]

[Footnote 8: "The academical establishments of some parts of Europe are
not without their use to the historian of the human mind. Immovably
moored to the same station by the strength of their cables and the
weight of their anchors, they enable him to measure the rapidity of the
current by which the rest of the world is borne along."]

[Footnote 9: If the two Literatures were studied, as they might be, by
means of expositions and translations, the Greek would be first as a
tiling of course. Historians of the Latin authors are obliged to trace
their subject, in every department, to the corresponding authors in

[Footnote 10: No doubt the classical languages would have been required,
to some extent, in matriculating to enter college. This arrangement,
however, as regarded the students that chose the modern languages, would
have been found too burdensome by our Irish friends, and, on their
expressing themselves to that effect, would have been soon dispensed

[Footnote 11: One possible consequence of a Natural Science Degree might
have been, that the public would have turned to it with favour, while
the old one sank into discredit.]

       *       *       *       *       *



By "Metaphysical Study," or "Metaphysics," I here mean--what seems
intended by the designation in its current employment at present--the
circle of the mental or subjective sciences. The central department of
the field is PSYCHOLOGY, and the adjunct to psychology is LOGIC, which
has its foundations partly in psychology, but still more in the sciences
altogether, whose procedure it gathers up and formulates. The outlying
and dependent branches are: the narrower metaphysics or Ontology,
Ethics, Sociology, together with Art or Aesthetics. There are other
applied sciences of the department, as Education and Philology.

The branches most usually looked upon as the cognate or allied studies
of the subjective department of human knowledge are, Psychology, Logic,
Ontology, Ethics. The debates in a society like the present will
generally be found to revolve in the orbit thus chalked out. It is the
sphere of the most animated controversies, and the widest discordance of
view. The additional branch most nearly connected with the group is
Sociology, which under that name, and under the older title, the
Philosophy of History, has opened up a new series of problems, of the
kind to divide opinions and provoke debate. A quieter interest attaches
to Aesthetics, although the subject is a not unfruitful application and
test of psychological laws.

My remarks will embrace, first, the aims, real and factitious, in the
study of this group of sciences; and next, the polemic conduct of such
study, or the utility and management of debating societies, instituted
in connection therewith.

       *       *       *       *       *


The two sciences--PSYCHOLOGY and LOGIC--I consider the fundamental and
knowledge-giving departments. The others are the applications of these
to the more stirring questions of human life. Now, the successful
cultivation of the field requires you to give at least as much attention
to the root sciences as you give to the branch sciences. That is to say,
psychology, in its pure and proper character, and logic, in its
systematic array, should be kept before the view, concurrently with
ontology, ethics, and sociology. Essays and debates tending to clear up
and expound systematic psychology and systematic logic should make a
full half of the society's work.

Does any one feel a doubt upon the point, as so stated? If so, it will
be upon him to show that Psychology, in its methodical pursuit, is a
needless and superfluous employment of strength; that the problems of
ethics, ontology, &c., can be solved without it--a hard task indeed, so
long as they are unsolved in any way. I have no space for indulging in
a dissertation on the value of methodical study and arrangement in the
extension of our knowledge, as opposed to the promiscuous mingling of
different kinds of facts, which is often required in practice, but
repugnant to the increase of knowledge. If you want to improve our
acquaintance with the sense of touch, you accumulate and methodize all
the experiences relating to touch; you compare them, see whether they
are consistent or inconsistent, select the good, reject the bad, improve
the statement of one by light borrowed from the others; you mark
desiderata, experiments to be tried, or observations to be sought.
All that time, you refrain from wandering into other spheres of mental
phenomena. You make use of comparison with the rest of the senses, it
may be, but you keep strictly to the points of analogy, where mutual
lights are to be had. This is the culture of knowledge as such, and is
the best, the essential, preparation for practical questions involving
the particular subject along with others.

To take an example from the question of the Will. I do not object: to
the detaching and isolating of the problem of free-will, as a matter for
discussion and debate; but I think that it can be handled to equal, if
not greater advantage, in the systematic psychology of voluntary power.
Those that have never tried it in this last form have not obtained the
best vantage-ground for overcoming the inevitable subtleties that invest

The great problem of External Perception has a psychological place,
where its difficulties are very much attenuated, to say the least of it;
and, however convenient it may be to treat it as a detached problem, we
should carry with us into the discussion all the lights that we obtain
while regarding it as it stands among the intellectual powers.

It is in systematic Psychology that we are most free to attend to the
defining of terms (without which a professed science is mere moonshine),
to the formulating of axioms and generalities, to the concatenating and
taking stock of all the existing knowledge, and to the appraising of it
at its real value. If these things are neglected, there is nothing that
I see to constitute a psychology at all.

       *       *       *       *       *


As to the other fundamental science, LOGIC, the same remarks may be
repeated. Of debated questions, a certain number pertain properly to
logic; yet most of these relate to logic at its points of contact with
psychology. Since we have got out of the narrow round of the
Aristotelian syllogism, we have agreed to call logic _ars artium_, or,
better still, _scientia scientiarum_, the science that deals with the
sciences altogether--both object sciences and subject sciences. Now this
I take to be a study quite apart from psychology in particular,
although, as I have said, touching it at several points. It reviews all
science and all knowledge, as to its structure, method, arrangement,
classification, probation, enlargement. It deals in generalities the
most general of any. By taking up what belongs to all knowledge, it
seems to rise above the matter of knowledge to the region of pure form;
it demands, therefore, a peculiar subtlety of handling, and may easily
land us, as we are all aware, in knotty questions and quagmires.

Now what I have to repeat in this connection is, that you should, in
your debates, overhaul portions or chapters of systematic logic, with a
view to present the difficulties in their natural position in the
subject. You might, for example, take up the question as to the Province
of logic, with its divisions, parts, and order--all which admit of many
various views--and bring forward the vexed controversies under lights
favourable to their resolution. Regarding logic as an aid to the
faculties in tackling whatever is abstruse, you should endeavour to
cultivate and enhance its powers, in this particular, by detailed
exposition and criticism of all its canons and prescriptions. The
department of Classification is a good instance; a region full of
delicate subtleties as well as "bread-and-butter" applications.

It is in this last view of logic that we can canvass philosophical
systems upon the ground of their method or procedure alone. Looking at
the absence, in any given system, of the arts and precautions that are
indispensable to the establishment of truth in the special case, we may
pronounce against it, _à priori_; we know that such a system can be true
only by accident, or else by miracle. We may reasonably demand of a
system-builder--Is he in the narrow way that leadeth to truth, or in the
broad way that leadeth somewhere else?

I have said that I consider the connection between Logic and Psychology
to be but slender, although not unimportant. The amount and nature of
this connection would reward a careful consideration. There would be
considerable difficulty in seeing any connection at all between the
Aristotelian Syllogism and psychology, but for the high-sounding
designations appended to the notion and the proposition--simple
apprehension and judgment--of which I fail to discover the propriety or
relevance. I know that Grote gave a very profound turn to the employment
of the term "judgment" by Aristotle, as being a recognition of the
relativity of knowledge to the affirming mind. I am not to say,
absolutely, "Ice is cold"; I am to say that, to the best of my judgment
or belief, or in so far as I am concerned, ice is cold. This, however,
has little to do with the logic of the syllogism, and not much with any
logic. So, when we speak of a "notion," we must understand it as
apprehended by some mind; but for nearly all purposes, this is assumed
tacitly; it need not appear in a formal designation, which, not being
wanted, is calculated to mislead.

       *       *       *       *       *


With these remarks on the two fundamental sciences of our group, I now
turn to the _applied_ or _derivative_ sciences, wherein the great
controversies stand out most conspicuous, which, in fact, exist for the
purpose of contention--Ontology and Ethics. These branches were in
request long before the mother sciences--psychology and logic--came into
being at all. They had occupied their chief positions without consulting
the others, partly because these were not there to consult, and partly
because they were not inclined to consult any extraneous authority. By
Ontology we may designate the standing controversies of the intellectual
powers--perception, innate ideas, nominalism _versus_ realism, and
noumenon _versus_ phenomenon. I am not going to pronounce upon these
questions; I have already recommended the alternative mode of
approaching them under systematic psychology and logic; and I will now
regard them as constituents of the fourfold enumeration of the
metaphysical sciences.

The Germans may be credited for teaching us, or trying to teach us, to
distinguish "bread and butter" from what passes beyond, transcends bread
and butter. With them the distinction is thoroughly ingrained, and comes
to hand at a moment's notice. If I am to review in detail what may be
considered the practical or applied departments of logic and psychology,
I am in danger of trenching on their "bread-and-butter" region. Before
descending, therefore, into the larder, let us first spend a few seconds
in considering psychology as the pursuit of _truth_ in all that relates
to our mental constitution. If difficulty be a stimulus to the human
exertions, it may be found here. To ascertain, fix, and embody the
precise truth in regard to the facts of the mind is about as hard an
undertaking as could be prescribed to a man. But this is another way of
saying that psychology is not a very advanced science; is not well
stored with clear and certain doctrines; and is unable, therefore, to
confer any very great precision on its dependent branches, whether
purely speculative or practical. In a word, the greatest modesty or
humility is the deportment most becoming to all that engage in this
field of labour, even when doing their best; while the same virtues in
even greater measure are due from those engaging in it without doing
their best.

It must be admitted, however, that the highest evidence and safeguard of
truth is application. In every other science, the utility test is final.
The great parent sciences--mathematics, physics, chemistry,
physiology--have each a host of filial dependents, in close contact with
the supply of human wants; and the success of the applications is the
testimony to the truth of the sciences applied. Thus, although we may
not narrow the sphere of truth to bread and butter, yet we have no surer
test of the truth itself. Our trade requires navigation, and navigation
verifies astronomy; and, but for navigation, we may be pretty confident
that astronomy would now have very little accuracy to boast of.

To come then to the practical bearings or outgoings of psychology,
assisted by logic. My contention is that the parent sciences and the
filial sciences should be carried on together; that theses should be
extracted by turns from all; that the lights thus obtained would be
mutual. I will support the position by a review of the subjects thus
drawn into the metaphysical field.

       *       *       *       *       *


Foremost among these applied sciences I would place EDUCATION, the
subject of the day. The priority of mention is due not so much to its
special or pre-eminent importance, as to its being the most feasible and
hopeful of the practical applications of conjoined psychology and logic.
I say this, however, with a more express eye to _intellectual_
education. I deem it quite possible to frame a practical, science
applicable to the training of the intellect that shall be precise and
definite in a very considerable measure. The elements that make up our
intellectual furniture can be stated with clearness; the laws of
intellectual growth or acquisition are almost the best ascertained
generalities of the human mind; even the most complicated studies can be
analyzed into their components, partly by psychology and partly by the
higher logic. In a word, if we cannot make a science of education, as
far as Intellect is concerned, we may abandon metaphysical study

I do not speak with the same confidence as to _moral_ education. There
has long been in existence a respectable rule-of-thumb practice in this
region, the result of a sufficiently wide experience. There are certain
psychological laws, especially those relating to the formation of moral
habits, that have a considerable value; but to frame a theory of moral
education, on a level in a point of definiteness with the possible
theory of intellectual education, is a task that I should not like to
have imposed upon me. In point of fact, two problems are joined in one,
to the confusion of both. There is _first_ the vast question of _moral
control_, which stretches far and wide over many fields, and would have
to be tracked with immense labour: it belongs to the arts of government;
it comes under moral suasion, as exercised by the preacher and orator;
it even implicates the tact of diplomacy. I do not regard this as a
properly educational question (although it refers to an art that every
teacher must try to master); that is to say, its solution is not
connected with education processes strictly so called. The _second_
problem of moral education is the one really within the scope of the
subject--the problem of _fixing moral bents_ or habits, when the right
conduct is once initiated. On this head, some scientific insight is
attainable; and suggestions of solid value may in time accrue, although
there never can be the precision attainable in the intellectual region.

       *       *       *       *       *

I will next advert to the applied science of Art or Aesthetics, long a
barren ground, so far as scientific handling was concerned, but now a
land of promise. The old thesis, "What is Beauty?" a good debating
society topic, is, I hope, past contending about. The numerous
influences that concur in works of art, or in natural beauty, present a
fine opening for delicate analysis; at the same time, they implicate the
vaguest and least advanced portion of psychology--the Emotions. The
German philosophers have usually ranked aesthetics as one of the
subjective sciences; but, it is only of late that the department has
taken shape in their country. Lessing gave a great impulse to literary
art, and originated a number of pregnant suggestions; and the German
love of music has necessarily led to theories as well as to
compositions. We are now in the way to that consummation of aesthetics
which may be described as containing (1) a reference to psychology as
the mother science, (2) a classification, comparison, and contrast of
the fine arts themselves, and (3) an induction of the principles of art
composition from the best examples. Anything like a thorough sifting of
fine-art questions would strain psychology at every point--senses,
emotions, intellect; and, if criticism is to go deep, it must ground
upon psychological reasons. Now the mere artist can never be a
psychologist; the art critic may, but seldom will; hence, as they will
not come over to us, some of us must go over to them. The Art discussion
of the greatest fountains of human feeling--love and anger--would react
with advantage upon the very difficult psychology of these emotions, so
long the sport of superficiality.


But I hold that aesthetics is but a corner of a larger field that is
seldom even named among the sciences of mind; I mean human happiness as
a whole, "eudaemonics," or "hedonics," or whatever you please to call
it. That the subject is neglected, I do not affirm; but it is not
cultivated in the proper place, or in the proper light-giving
connection--that is to say, under the psychology of the human feelings.
It should have at once a close reference to psychology, and an
independent construction; while either in comprehending aesthetics, or
in lying side by side with that, it would give and receive illumination.
The researches now making into the laws and limits of human sensibility,
if they have any value, ought to lead to the economy of pleasure and the
abatement of pain. The analysis of sensation and of emotion points to
this end. Whoever raises any question as to human happiness should refer
it, in the first instance, to psychology; in the next, to some general
scheme that would answer for a science of happiness; and, thirdly, to an
induction of the facts of human experience; the three distinct appeals
correcting one another. If psychology can contribute nothing to the
point, it confesses to a desideratum for future inquirers.


I am not at all satisfied with the coupling of happiness with ethics, as
is usually done. Ethics is the sphere of duty; happiness is mentioned
only to be repressed and discouraged. This is not the situation for
unfolding all the blossoms of human delight, nor for studying to allay
every rising uneasiness. He would be a rare ethical philosopher that
would permit full scope to such an operation within his grounds; neither
Epicurus nor Bentham could come up to this mark. But even if the thing
were permitted, the lights are not there; it is only by combining the
parent psychology and the hedonic derivative, that the work can be done.
It is neither disrespect nor disadvantage to duty, that it is not
mentioned in the department until the very end. To cultivate happiness
is not selfishness or vice, unless you confine it to self; and the mere
act of inquiring does not so confine it. If you are in other respects a
selfish man, you will apply your knowledge for your own sole behoof; if
you are not selfish, you will apply it for the good of your fellows
also, which is another name for virtue.

But the obstacles to a science of happiness are not solely clue to the
gaps and deficiencies in our psychological knowledge; they are equally
owing to the prevailing terrorism in favour of self-denial at all hands.
Many of the maxims as to happiness would not stand examination if people
felt themselves free to discuss them. You must work yourselves into a
fervour of revolt and defiance, before you call in question Paley's
declaration that "happiness is equally distributed among all orders of
the community". I do not know whether I should wonder most at the
cheerful temperament or the complacent optimism of Adam Smith, when he
asks, "What can be added to the happiness of the man who is in health,
who is out of debt, and has a clear conscience?"[13] When the greatest
philosophers talk thus, what is to be expected from the unphilosophic
mob? The dependence of health on activity is always kept very loose, it
may be for the convenience of shutting our mouths against complaints of
being overworked. To render this dependence precise is a matter of pure

       *       *       *       *       *


Before coming to Ethics I must, as a preparation, view another
derivative branch of psychology, the old subject of politics and
society, under its new name, SOCIOLOGY. It is obvious that all terms
used in describing social facts and their generalities are terms of
mind: command and obedience, law and right, order and progress, are
notions made up of human feelings, purposes, and thoughts.

Sociology is usually studied in its own special field, and nowhere else;
that is to say, the sociologist employs himself in observing and
comparing the operations of societies under all varieties of
circumstances, and in all historic ages. The field is essentially human
nature, and the laws arrived at are laws of human nature. A consummate
sociologist is not often to be found; the really great theorists in
society could be counted on one's fingers. Some of them have been
psychologists as well; I need mention only Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke,
Hume, the Mills. Others as Vico, Montesquieu, Millar, Condorcet, Auguste
Comte, De Tocqueville, have not independently studied the mind on the
broad psychological basis. Now the bearings on sociology of a pure
psychological preparation can be convincingly shown. The laws of
society, if not the merest empiricisms, are derivative laws of the mind;
hence a theorist cannot be trusted with the handling of a derivative
law, unless he knows, as well as can be known, the simple or constituent
laws. All the elements of human character crop up in men's social
relations; in the foreground are their self-interest or sense of
self-preservation, together with their social and anti-social
promptings; a little farther back are their active energy, their
intelligence, their artistic feelings, and their religious
susceptibilities. Now all these should be broadly examined as elements
of the mind, without an immediate reference to the political machine.
Of course, the social feelings need a social situation, and cannot be
studied without that; but there are many social situations that give
scope for examining them, besides what is contemplated in political
society; and the psychologist proper ought to avail himself of all the
opportunities of rendering the statement of these various elements
precise. For this purpose, his chief aim is the ultimate analysis of the
various faculties and feelings. This analysis nobody but himself cares
to institute; and yet a knowledge of the ultimate constitution of an
emotional tendency is one of the best aids in appreciating its mode of
working. Without a good preliminary analysis of the social and
anti-social emotions, for example, you are almost sure to be counting
the same thing twice over, or else confounding two different facts under
one designation. On the one hand, the precise relationship of the states
named love, sympathy, disinterestedness; and, on the other hand, the
common basis of domination, resentment, pride, egotism,--should be
distinctly cleared up, as is possible only in psychological study
strictly so called. The workings of the religious sentiment cannot be
shown sociologically, without a previous analysis of the constituent


An allusion so very slender to so vast a subject as sociology would be a
waste of words, but for the conviction, that through sociology is the
way to the great field of Ethics. This is to reverse the traditional
arrangement--ethics, politics, or government--followed even by Bentham.
The lights of ethics are, in the first instance, psychological; its
discussions presuppose a number of definitions and distinctions that are
pure psychology. But before these have to be adduced, the subject has to
be set forth as a problem of sociology. "How is the King's government to
be carried on?" "How is society to be held together?" is the first
consideration; and the sociologist--as constitution-builder,
administrator, judge--is the person to grapple with the problem. It is
with him that law, obligation, right, command, obedience, sanction, have
their origin and their explanation. Ethics is an important supplement to
social or political law. But it is still a department of law. In any
other view it is a maze, a mystery, a hopeless embroilment.

That ethics is involved in society is of course admitted; what is not
admitted is, that ethical terms should be settled under the social
science in the first place. I may refer to the leading term "law," whose
meaning in sociology is remarkably clear; in ethics remarkably the
reverse. The confusion deepens when the moral faculty is brought
forward. In the eye of the sociologist, nothing could be simpler than
the conception of that part of our nature that is appealed to for
securing obedience. He assumes a certain effort of the intelligence for
understanding the signification of a command or a law; and, for the
motive part, he counts upon nothing but volition in its most ordinary
form--the avoidance of a pain. Intelligence and Will, in their usual and
recognised workings, are all that are required for social obedience; law
is conceived and framed exactly to suit the every-day and every-hour
manifestations of these powers. The lawgiver does not speak of an
obedience-faculty, nor even of a social-faculty. If there were in the
mind a power unique and apart, having nothing in common with our usual
intelligence, and nothing in common with our usual will or volition,
that power ought to be expressed in terms that exclude the smallest
participation of both knowledge and will; it ought to have a form
special to itself, and not the form:--"Do this, and ye shall be made to

I am quite aware that there are elements in ethics not included in the
problem of social obedience; what I contend for is, that the ground
should be cleared by marking out the two provinces, as is actually done
by a very small number of theorists, of whom John Austin is about the
best example.

The ethical philosopher, from not building on a foregone sociology, is
obliged to extemporize, in a paragraph, the social system; just as the
physical philosopher would, if he had no regularly constructed
mathematics to fall back upon, but had to stop every now and then to
enunciate a mathematical theorem.

The question of the ethical end should first appear as the question of
the sociological end. For what purpose or purposes is society
maintained? All the ethical difficulties are here met by anticipation,
and in a form much better adapted to their solution. It is from the
point of view of the social ruler, that you learn reserve, moderation,
and sobriety in your aims; you learn to think that something much less
than the Utopias--universal happiness and universal virtue--should be
propounded; you find that a definite and limited province can be
assigned, separating what the social power is able to do, must do, and
can advantageously do, from what it is unable to do, need not do, and
cannot with advantage do; and this or a similar demarcation is
reproducible in ethics.


The precepts of ethics are mainly the precepts of social authority; at
all events the social precepts and their sanctions have the priority
in scientific method. Some of the highest virtues are sociological;
patriotic self-sacrifice is one of the conditions of social
preservation. The inculcation of this and of many other virtues would
not appear in ethics at all, or only in a supplementary treatment, if
social science took its proper sphere, and fully occupied that sphere.

Once more. The great problem of moral control, which I would remove
entirely from a science of education, would be first dealt with in
Sociology. It there appears in the form of the choice and gradation
of punishments, in prison discipline, and in the reformation of
criminals,--all which have been made the subject of enlightened, not
to say scientific, treatment. It is in the best experience in those
subjects that I would begin to seek for lights on the comprehensive
question. I would next go to diplomacy for the arts of delicate address
in reconciling opposing interests; after which I would look to the
management of parties and conflicting interests in the State. I would
farther inquire how armies are disciplined, and subordination combined
with the enthusiasm that leads to noble deeds.

There is an abundant field for the application of pure psychology to
ethics, when it takes its own proper ground. The exact psychological
character of disinterested impulse needs to be assigned; and, if that
impulse can be fully referred to the sympathetic or social instincts and
habits, the supposed moral faculty is finally eviscerated of its
contents for all ethical purposes.

       *       *       *       *       *

So far I have exemplified what seems to me real or genuine aims and
applications of metaphysical study. I now proceed to the objects that
are more or less factitious. We are here on delicate ground, and run the
risk of discrediting our pursuit, as regards the very things that in the
eyes of many people make its value.

First, then, as psychology involves all our sensibilities, pleasures,
affections, aspirations, capacities, it is thought on that ground to
have a special nobility and greatness, and a special power of evoking in
the student the feelings themselves. The mathematician, dealing with
conic sections, spirals, and differential equations, is in danger of
being ultimately resolved into a function or a co-efficient; the
metaphysician, by investigating conscience, must become conscientious;
driving fat oxen is the way to grow fat.


But to pass to a far graver application. It has usually been supposed
that metaphysical theory is more especially akin to the speculation that
mounts to the supernatural and the transcendental world. "Man's
relations to the infinite" is a frequent phrase in the mouth of the
metaphysician. Metaphysics is supposed to be "philosophy" by way of
eminence; and philosophy in the large sense has not merely to satisfy
the curiosity of the human mind, it has to provide scope for its
emotions and aspirations; in fact, to play the part of theology. In
times when the prevailing orthodox beliefs are shaken, some scheme of
philosophy is brought forward to take their place. If I understand
aright the drift of the German metaphysical systems for a century back,
they all more or less propose to themselves to supply the same spiritual
wants as religion supplies. In our own country, such of us as are not
under German influence put the matter differently; but we still consider
that we have something to say on the "highest questions". We are apt to
believe that on us more than on any other class of thinkers, does it
depend whether the prevailing theology shall be upheld, impugned, or
transformed. The chief weapons of the defenders of the faith are forged
in the schools of metaphysics. Locke and Butler, Reid, Stewart and Brown
are theological authorities. And when theology is attacked, its
metaphysical buttresses have to be assailed as the very first thing. If
these are declared unsound, either it must fall, or it must change its
front. It is Natural Theology, more particularly, that is thus allied to
metaphysics; yet, not exclusively; for the defence of Revelation by
miracles involves at the outset a point of logic.

Now I do not mean to say, that this is a purely factitious and
ill-grounded employment of the metaphysical sciences. I fully admit that
the later defences of theology, as well as the attacks, have been
furnished from psychology, logic, ethics, and ontology. The earliest
beliefs in religion, the greatest and strongest convictions, had little
to do with any of these departments of speculation. But when simple
traditionary faith gave place to the questionings of the reason, the
basis of religion was transferred to the reason-built sciences; and
metaphysics came in for a large share in the decision.


What I maintain is, that there is something factitious in the degree of
prominence given to metaphysics in this great enterprise; that its
pretentions are excessive, its importance over-stated; and when most
employed for such a purpose, it is least to be trusted. Theological
polemic is only in part conducted through science; and physical science
shares equally with moral. The most serious shocks to the traditional
orthodoxy have come from the physical sciences. The argument from Design
has no doubt a metaphysical or logical element--the estimate of the
degree of analogy between the universe and a piece of human workmanship;
but the argument itself needs a scientific survey of the entire
phenomena of nature, both matter and mind. Our Bridgewater Treatises
proceeded upon this view; they embraced the consideration of the whole
circle of the sciences, as bearing on the theological argument. The
scheme was so far just and to the purpose; the obvious drawback to the
value of the Treatises lay in their being special pleadings, backed by a
fee of a thousand pounds to each writer for maintaining one side. If a
similar fee had been given to nine equally able writers to represent the
other side, the argument from design would have been far more
satisfactorily sifted than by the exclusively metaphysical criticism of

When theology is supported exclusively by such doctrines as--an
independent and immaterial soul, a special moral faculty, and what is
called free-will,--the metaphysician is a person of importance in the
contest; he is powerful either to uphold or to subvert the fabric. But,
if these were ever to constitute the chief stronghold of the faith, its
tenure would not be very secure. It is only a metaphysician, however,
that believes or disbelieves in metaphysical grounds alone; such a man
as Cousin, no doubt, rests his whole spiritual philosophy on this
foundation. But the great mass will either adhere to religion in spite
of metaphysical difficulties, or else abandon it notwithstanding its
metaphysical evidences. An eminent man now departed said in my hearing,
that he was a believer in Christianity until he became acquainted with
geology, when, finding the first chapter of Genesis at variance with
geological doctrines, he applied to the Bible the rule _falsus in uno,
falsus in omnibus,_ and thenceforth abandoned his old belief. I never
heard of any one that was so worked upon by a purely metaphysical

The aspect of theological doctrine that has come most to the front of
late is the question of the Divine goodness, as shown in the plan of the
universe. Speculations are divided between optimism and pessimism. How
shall we decide between these extremes, or, if repudiating both, how
shall we fix the mean? Is a metaphysician more especially qualified to
find out the truth? I hardly think so. I believe he could contribute,
with others, to such a solution as may be possible. He has, we shall
suppose, surveyed closely the compass of the human sensibilities, and is
able to assign, with more than common precision, what things operate on
them favourably or unfavourably. So far good. Then, as a logician, he is
more expert at detecting bad inferences in regard to the form of
reasoning; but whether certain allegations of fact are well or ill
founded, he may not be able to say, at least out of his own department.
If a mixed commission of ten were nominated to adjudicate upon this vast
problem, metaphysics might claim to be represented by two.


Least of all, do I understand the claims made in behalf of this
department to supply the spiritual void in case the old theology is no
longer accredited. When one looks closely at the stream and tendency of
thought, one sees a growing alliance and kinship between religion and
poetry or art. There is, as we know, a dogmatic, precise, severe,
logical side of theology, by which creeds are constructed, religious
tests imposed, and belief made a matter of legal compulsion. There is
also a sentimental, ideal, imaginative side that resists definition,
that refuses dogmatic prescription, and seeks only to satisfy spiritual
needs and emotions. Metaphysics may no doubt take a part in the dogmatic
or doctrinal treatment, but it must qualify itself by biblical study,
and become altogether theology. In the other aspect, metaphysics, as I
conceive it, is unavailing; the poet is the proper medium for keeping up
the emotional side, under all transformations of doctrinal belief. But
as conceived by others, metaphysics is philosophy and poetry in one, to
which I can never agree. The combination of the two, as hitherto
exhibited, has been made at the expense of both. The leading terms of
philosophy--reason, spirit, soul, the ideal, the infinite, the absolute,
phenomenal truth, being, consciousness--are lubricated with emotion, and
thrown together in ways that defy the understanding. The unintelligible,
which ought to be the shame of philosophy, is made its glory.

These remarks prepare for the conclusion that I arrive at as to the
scope of metaphysics with reference to the higher questions. That it has
bearings upon these questions I allow; and those bearings are
legitimately within the range of metaphysical debates. But I make a wide
distinction between metaphysical discussion and theological discussion;
and do not consider that they can be combined to advantage. In the great
latitude of free inquiry in the present day, theology is freely
canvassed, and societies might be properly devoted to that express
object; but I cannot see any benefit that would arise by a philosophical
society undertaking, in addition to its own province, to raise the
questions belonging to theology. I am well aware that there is one
society of very distinguished persons in the metropolis, calling itself
metaphysical, that freely ventures upon the perilous seas of theological
debate.[14] No doubt good comes from any exercise of the liberty of
discussion, so long restrained in this region; yet, I can hardly suppose
that purely metaphysical, studies can thrive in such a connection. Many
of the members must think far more of the theological issues than of the
cultivation of mental and logical science; and a purely metaphysical
debate can seldom be pursued with profit under these conditions.

       *       *       *       *       *


I now pass to the POLEMICAL handling of the metaphysical subjects. We
owe to the Greeks the study of philosophy through methodised debate; and
the state of scientific knowledge in the age of the early Athenian
schools was favourable to that mode of treatment. The conversations of
Socrates, the Dialogues of Plato, and the Topics of Aristotle, are the
monuments of Greek contentiousness, turned to account as a great
refinement in social intercourse, as a stimulus to individual thought,
and a means of advancing at least the speculative departments of
knowledge. Grote, both in his "Plato," and in his "Aristotle," while
copiously illustrating all these consequences, has laid extraordinary
stress on still another aspect of the polemic of Socrates and Plato,
the aspect of _free-thought_, as against venerated tradition and the
received commonplaces of society. The assertion of the right of private
judgment in matters of doctrine and belief, was, according to Grote, the
greatest of all the fruits of the systematised negation begun by Zeno,
and carried out in the "Search Dialogues" of Plato. In the "Exposition
Dialogues" it is wanting; and in the "Topica," where Eristic is reduced
to method and system by one of Aristotle's greatest logical
achievements, the freethinker's wings are very much clipt; the execution
of Socrates probably had to answer for that. It is to the Platonic
dialogues that we look for the full grandeur of Grecian debate in all
its phases. The Plato of Grote is the apotheosis of Negation; it is not
a philosophy so much as an epic; the theme--"The Noble Wrath of the
Greek Dissenter".

At all times, there is much that has to be achieved by solitary
thinking. Some definite shape must be given to our thoughts before we
can submit them to the operation of other minds; the greater the
originality, the longer must be the process of solitary elaboration.
The "Principia" was composed from first to last by recluse meditation;
probably the attempt to discuss or debate any parts of it would have
only fretted and paralysed the author's invention. Indeed, after an
enormous strain of the constructive intellect, a man may be in no humour
to have his work carped at, even to improve it. In the region of fact,
in observation and experiment, there must be a mass of individual and
unassisted exertion. The use of allies in this region is to check and
confirm the accuracy of the first observer.

Again, an inquirer, by dint of prolonged familiarity with a subject, may
be his own best critic; he may be better able to detect flaws than any
one he could call in. This is another way of stating the superiority of
a particular individual over all others in the same walk. Such a
monarchical position as removes a man alike from the rivalry and from
the sympathy of his fellows, is the exception; mutual criticism and
mutual encouragement are the rule. The social stimulants are of avail in
knowledge and in truth as well as everything else.

A comparison of the state of speculation in the golden age of debate,
with the state of the sciences in the present day, both metaphysical and
physical, shows us clearly enough, what are the fields where polemic is
most profitable. I set aside the struggles of politics and theology, and
look to the scientific form of knowledge, which is, after all, the type
of our highest certainty everywhere. Now, undoubtedly, it is in
classifying, generalising, defining, and in the so-called logical
processes--induction and deduction--that a man can be least left to
himself. Until many men have gone over the same field of facts, a
classification, a definition, or an induction, cannot be held as safe
and sound. In modern science, there are numerous matters that have
passed through the fiery furnace of iterated criticism, seven times
purified; but there are, attaching to every science, a number of things
still in the furnace. Most of all does this apply to the metaphysical or
subject sciences, where, according to the popular belief, nothing has
yet passed finally out of the fiery trial. In psychology, in logic, in
eudaemonics, in sociology, in ethics, the facts are nearly all around
our feet; the question is how to classify, define, generalise, express
them. This was the situation of Zeno, Socrates, and Plato, for which
they invoked the militant ardour of the mind. Man, they saw, is a
fighting being; if fighting will do a thing, he will do it well.


In conformity with this view, the foremost class of debates, and
certainly not the least profitable, are such as discuss the meanings of
important terms. The genius of Socrates perceived that this was the
beginning of all valid knowledge, and, in seeing this, laid the
foundation of reasoned truth. I need not repeat the leading terms of
metaphysical philosophy; but you can at once understand the form of
proceeding by such an instance as "consciousness," debated so as to
bring out the question whether, as Hamilton supposed, it is necessarily
grounded on knowledge.

Next to the leading terms are the broader and more fundamental
generalities: for example, the law of relativity; the laws of memory and
its conditions, such as the intensity of the present consciousness;
Hamilton's inverse relationship of sensation and perception. These are
a few psychological instances. The value of a debate on any of these
questions depends entirely upon its resolving itself into an inductive
survey of the facts, and such surveys are never without fruit.

A debating society that includes logic in its sphere should cultivate
the methods of debate; setting an example to other societies and to
mankind in general. The "Topica" of Aristotle shows an immensity of
power expended on this object, doubtless without corresponding results.
Nevertheless the attempt, if resumed at the present day, with our
clearer and wider views of logical method, would not be barren. This is
too little thought of by us; and we may say that polemic, as an art, is
still immature. The best examples of procedure are to be found in the
Law Courts, some of whose methods might be borrowed in other debates.
For one thing, I think that each of the two leaders should provide the
members beforehand with a synopsis of the leading arguments or positions
to be set forth in the debate. This, I believe, should be insisted on
everywhere, not even excepting the debates of Parliament.

It is the custom of debating societies to alternate the Debate and the
Essay: a very important distinction, as it seems to me; and I will
endeavour to indicate how it should be maintained. Frequently there is
no substantial distinction observed; an essay is simply the opening of a
debate, and a debate the criticism of an essay. I should like to see the
two carried out each on its own principle, as I shall now endeavour to


The Debate is _the fight for mastery_ as between two sides. The
combatants strain their powers to say everything that can be said so
as to shake the case of their opponents. The debate is a field-day,
a challenge to a trial of strength. Now, while I admit that the
intellectual powers may be quickened to unusual perspicacity under the
sound of the trumpet and the shock of arms, I also see in the operation
many perils and shortcomings, when the subject of contest is truth. In
a heated controversy, only the more glaring and prominent facts,
considerations, doctrines, distinctions, can obtain a footing. Now truth
is the still small voice; it subsists often upon delicate differences,
unobtrusive instances, fine calculations. Whether or not man is a wholly
selfish being, may be submitted to a contentious debate, because the
facts and appearances on both sides are broad and palpable; but whether
all our actions are, in the last resort or final analysis,
self-regarding, is almost too delicate for debate. Chalmers upholds, as
a thesis, the intrinsic misery of the vicious affections: there could
not be a finer topic of pure debate.

My conception of the Essay, on the other hand, is that it should
represent _amicable co-operation_, with an eye to the truth. By it you
should rise from the lower or competitive, to the higher or communistic
attitude. There may be a loss of energy, but there is a gain in the
manner of applying it. The essayist should set himself to ascertain the
truth upon a subject; he should not be anxious to make a case. The
listeners, in the same spirit, should welcome all his suggestions, help
him out where he is in difficulties, be indulgent to his failings,
endeavour to see good in everything. If there be a real occasion for
debate, it should be purposely forborne and reserved. In propounding
subjects, the respective fitness for the debate and for the essay might
be taken into account.


When questions have been often debated without coming nearer to a
conclusion, it should be regarded as a sign that they are too delicate
and subtle for debate. A trial should then be made of the amicable or
co-operative treatment represented by the Essay. The Freedom of the Will
might, I think, be adjusted by friendly accommodation, but not by force
of contention. External Perception is beyond the province of debate.
It is fair and legitimate to try all problems by debate, in the first
instance, because the excitement quickens the intelligence, and leads to
new suggestions; but if the question involves an adjustment of various
considerations and minute differences, the contending sides will be
contentious still.

A society that really aims at the furtherance of knowledge, might test
its operations by now and then preparing a report of progress; setting
forth what problems had been debated, what themes elucidated, and with
what results. It would be very refreshing to see a candid avowal that
after several attempts--both debate and essay--some leading topic of the
department remained exactly where it stood at the outset. After such a
confession, the Society might well resolve itself into a Committee of
the Whole House, to consider its ways, and indeed its entire position,
with a view to a new start on some more hopeful track.

My closing remark is, as to avoiding debates that are in their very
nature interminable. It is easy to fix upon a few salient features that
make all the difference between a hopeful and a hopeless controversy.
For one thing, there is a certain intensity of emotion, interest, bias,
or prejudice if you will, that can neither reason nor be reasoned with.
On the purely intellectual side, the disqualifying circumstances are
complexity and vagueness. If a topic necessarily hauls in numerous other
topics of difficulty, the essay may do something for it, but not the
debate. Worst of all is the presence of several large, ill-defined, or
unsettled terms, of which there are still plenty in our department. A
not unfrequent case is a combination of the several defects each perhaps
in a small degree. A tinge of predilection or party, a double or triple
complication of doctrines, and one or two hazy terms, will make a debate
that is pretty sure to end as it began. Thus it is that a question,
plausible to appearance, may contain within it capacities of
misunderstanding, cross-purposes, and pointless issues, sufficient to
occupy the long night of Pandemonium, or beguile the journey to the
nearest fixed star.


[Footnote 12: An Address, delivered on the 28th of March, 1877, to the
Edinburgh University Philosophical Society. CONTEMPORARY REVIEW, April,

[Footnote 13: This very plausible utterance begs every question. There
would be some difficulty in condensing an equal amount of fallacy,
confusion of thought, in so few words.

In the first place, it assumes that the three requisites--health,
freedom from debt, and a good conscience--are matters of easy and
general attainment; that they are, in fact, the rule among human beings.
Is this really so?

Take Health, a word of very wide import. There is a certain small
amount, such as is marked by being out of the physician's hands, but
implying very little of the energy needed for the labours and the
enjoyment of life. There is a high and resplendent degree that renders
toil easy, and responds to the commonest stimulants, so that enjoyment
cannot be quashed without unusually unfavourable circumstances. The
first kind is widely diffused; the second is very rare, except in the
earlier portion of life. Most men and women, as they pass middle age,
lose the elasticity required for easy and spontaneous enjoyment, and,
even if they keep the appearance of health, have too little animal
spirits for enjoyment under cheap and ordinary excitements.

But there is more to be said. In order to obtain, and to retain, health,
freedom from debt, and a good conscience, there are pre-supposed very
considerable advantages. We cannot continue healthy and out of debt,
unless we have a fair start in life, that is, unless we have a tolerable
provision to begin with; a circumstance that the maxim keeps out of

Yet farther. The conditions named are of themselves mere negatives; they
imply simply the absence of certain decided causes of
unhappiness--ill-health, poverty, and bad conduct. There is a farther
stealthy assumption, namely, that the individual is placed in a
situation otherwise conducive to happiness. Health, absence of debt, and
a good conscience will not make happiness, under severe or ungenial
toil, irritation, ill-usage, affliction, sorrow,--- even if they could
be long maintained under such circumstances. Nor even, in the case of
exemption from the worst ills of life, can we be happy without some
positive agreeables--family, general society, amusements, and
gratifications. There is a certain degree of loneliness, seclusion,
dulness, that destroys happiness without sapping health, or miming us
into debt and vice.

The maxim, as expressed, professes to aim at happiness, but it more
properly belongs to duty. If we fail in the conditions mentioned, we run
the risk rather of neglecting our duties than of missing our pleasures.
It is not every form of ill-health that makes us miserable; and we may
become seared to debt and ill-conduct, so as to suffer only the
incidental misery of being dunned, which many can take with great

The definition of happiness by Paley is vague and incomplete; but it
does not omit the positive conditions. After health, Paley enumerates
the exercise of the affections and some engaging occupation or pursuit;
both which are highly relevant to the attainment of happiness. Indeed
with an exemption from cares, and a considerable share of the positive
gratifications, we can enjoy life on a very slender stock of health;
otherwise, where should we be in the inevitable decline that age brings
with it?]

[Footnote 14: This Society has since been dissolved.]

       *       *       *       *       *




By your flattering estimate of my services, I have been unexpectedly
summoned from retirement, to assume the honours and the duties of the
purple, and to occupy the most historically important office in the
Universities of Europe.

The present demands upon the Rectorship somewhat resemble what we are
told of the Homeric chief, who, in company with his Council or Senate,
the _Boulè_, and the Popular Assembly, or _Agora_, made up the political
constitution of the tribe. The functions of the chief, it is said, were
to supply wise counsel to the _Boulè_ (as we might call our Court), and
unctuous eloquence to the _Agora_. The second of these requirements is
what weighs upon me at the present moment.

Whatever may have been the practice of my predecessors, generally
strangers to you, it would be altogether unbecoming in me to travel out
of our University life, for the materials of an Address. My remarks then
will principally bear on the UNIVERSITY IDEAL.


To the Greeks we are indebted for the earliest germ of the University.
It was with them chiefly that education took that great leap, the
greatest ever made, from the traditional teaching of the home, the shop,
the social surroundings, to schoolmaster teaching properly so called.
Nowadays, we, schoolmasters, think so much of ourselves, that we do not
make full allowance for that other teaching, which was, for unknown
ages, the only teaching of mankind. The Greeks were the first to
introduce, not perhaps the primary schoolmaster, for the R's, but
certainly the secondary or higher schoolmaster, known as Rhetorician or
Sophist, who taught the higher professions; while their Philosophers or
wise men, introduced a kind of knowledge that gave scope to the
intellectual faculties, with or without professional applications; the
very idea of our Faculty of Arts.

So self-asserting were these new-born teachers of the Sophist class,
that Plato thought it necessary to recall attention to the good old
perennial source of instruction, the home, the trade, and the society.
He pointed out that the pretenders to teach virtue by moral lecturing,
were as yet completely outrivalled by the influence of the family and
the social pressure of the community. In like manner, the arts of life
were all originally handed down by apprenticeship and imitation. The
greatest statesmen and generals of early times had simply the education
of the actual work. Philip of Macedon could have had no other teaching;
his greater son was the first of the line to receive what we may call
a liberal, or a general education, under the educator of all Europe.



I must skip eight centuries, to introduce the man that linked the
ancient and the modern world, and was almost the sole luminary in the
west during the dark ages, namely, Boëthius, minister of the Gothic
Emperor Theodoric. As much of Aristotle as was known between the 6th and
the 11th centuries was handed down by him. During that time, only the
logical treatises existed among the Latins; and of these the best parts
were neglected. Historical importance attaches to a small circle of them
known as the Old Logic (_vectus logica_), which were the pabulum of
abstract thought for five dreary centuries. These consisted of the two
treatises or chapters of Aristotle called the "Categories," and the "De
Interpretatione," or the Theory of Propositions; and of a book of
Porphyry the Neo-Platonist, entitled 'Introduction' (_Isagoge_), and
treating of the so-called Five Predicables. A hundred average pages
would include them all; and three weeks would suffice to master them.

Boëthius, however, did much more than hand on these works to the
mediaeval students; he translated the whole of Aristotle's logical
writings (the Organon), but the others were seldom taken up. It was he
too that handled the question of Universals in his first Dialogue on
Porphyry, and sowed the seed that was not to germinate till four
centuries afterwards, but which, when the time came, was to bear fruit
in no measured amount. And Boëthius is the name associated with the
scheme of higher education that preceded the University teaching, called
the _quadrivium_, or quadruple group of subjects, namely, Arithmetic,
Geometry, Music and Astronomy. This, together with the _trivium_, or
preparatory group of three subjects--Grammar, Rhetoric, and
Logic--constituted what was known as the _seven liberal arts_; but, in
the darkest ages, the quadrivium was almost lost sight of, and few went
beyond the trivium.


In the 7th century, the era of deepest intellectual gloom, philosophy
was at an entire stand-still. Light arises with the 8th, when we are
introduced to the Cathedral and Cloister Schools of Charlemagne; and the
9th saw these schools fully established, and an educational reform
completed that was to be productive of lasting good results. But the
range of instruction was still narrow, scarcely proceeding beyond the
Old Logic, and the teachers were, as formerly, the Monks. The 11th
century is really the period of dawn. The East was now opened up through
the Crusades, and there was frequent intercourse with the learned
Saracens of Spain; and thus there were brought into the West the whole
of Aristotle's works, with Arabic commentaries, chiefly in Latin
translations. The effervescence was prodigious and alarming. The schools
were reinforced by a higher class of teachers, Lay as well as Clerical;
a marked advance was made in Logic and Dialectic; and the great
controversy of Realism _versus_ Nominalism, which had found its birth in
the previous century, raged with extraordinary vigour. We are now on the
eve of the founding of the Universities; Bologna, indeed, being already
in existence.



The University proper, however, can hardly be dated earlier than the
12th century; and the important particulars in its first constitution
are these:--First, the separation of Philosophy from Theology. To
expound this, would be to give a chapter of mediaeval history. Suffice
it to say that Aristotle and the awakening intellect of the 11th century
were the main causes of it. Two classes of minds at this time divided
the Church--the pious, devout believers (such as St. Bernard), who
needed no reasons for their faith, and the polemic speculative divines
(such as Abaelard), who wished to make Theology rational. It was an age,
too, of stirring political events; the crusading spirit was abroad, and
found a certain gratification even in the war of words. The nature of
Universals was eagerly debated; but when this controversy came into
collision with such leading theological doctrines as the Trinity and
Predestination, it was no longer possible for Philosophy and Theology to
remain conjoined.

A separation was effected, and determined the leading feature of the
University system. The foundation was Philosophy, and the fundamental
Faculty the Faculty of Arts. Bologna, indeed, was eminent for Law or
Jurisprudence, and this celebrity it retained for ages; but the
University of Paris, which is the prototype of our Scottish
Universities, as of so many others, taught nothing but Philosophy--in
other words, had no Faculty but Arts--for many years. Neither Theology,
Medicine, nor Law had existence there till the 13th century.

Second, the system of conferring Degrees, after appropriate trials.
These were at first simply a licence to teach. They acquired their
commanding importance through the action of Pope Nicholas I, who gave to
the graduates of the University of Paris, the power of teaching
everywhere, a power that our own countrymen were the foremost to turn to


Third, the Organisation of the primitive University. Europe was
unsettled; even in the capitals, the civil power was often unhinged.
Wherever multitudes came together, there was manifested a spirit of
turbulence. The Universities often exemplified this fact; and it was
found necessary to establish a government within themselves. The basis
was popular; but, while, in Paris, only the teaching body was
incorporated, in Bologna, the students had a voice. They elected the
Rector, and his jurisdiction was very great indeed, and much more
important than speechifying to his constituents. His Court had the power
of internal regulation, with both a civil and criminal jurisdiction. The
Scotch Universities, on this point, followed Bologna; and that fact is
the remote cause of this day's meeting.



So started the University. The idea took; and in three centuries, many
of the leading towns in Italy, France, the German Empire, had their
Universities; in England arose Oxford and Cambridge; the model was Paris
or Bologna.

Scotland did not at first enter the race of University-founding, but
worked on the plan of the cuckoo, by laying its eggs in the nests of
others. For two centuries, Scotchmen were almost shut out of England;
and so could not make for themselves a career in Oxford and Cambridge,
as in later times. They had, however, at home, good grammar schools,
where they were grounded in Latin. They perambulated Europe, and were
familiar figures in the great University towns, and especially Paris.
From their disputatious and metaphysical aptitude, they worked their
upward way--

    And gladly would they learn and gladly teach.

At length, the nation did take up the work in good earnest. In 1411, was
founded the first of the St. Andrews' Colleges; 1451 is the date of
Glasgow; 1494, King's College, Aberdeen. These are the pre-Reformation
colleges; but for the Reformation, we might not have had any other.
Their founders were ecclesiastics; their constitution and ceremonial
were ecclesiastical. They were intended, no doubt, to keep the Scotch
students at home. They were also expected to serve as bulwarks to the
Church against the rising heretics of the times. In this they were a
disappointment; the first-begotten of them became the cradle of the

In these our three eldest foundations, we are to seek the primitive
constitution and the teaching system of our Universities. In essentials,
they were the same; only between the dates of Glasgow and Old Aberdeen
occurred two great events. One was the taking of Constantinople, which
spread the Greek scholars with their treasures over Europe. The other
was the progress of printing. In 1451, when Glasgow commenced, there was
no printed text-book. In 1494, when King's College began, the ancient
classics had been largely printed; the early editions of Aristotle in
our Library, show the date of 1486.


Our Universities have three well-marked periods; the first anterior to
the Reformation; the second from the Reformation to the beginning of
last century; the third, the last and present centuries. Confining
ourselves still to the Faculty of Arts, the features of the
Pre-Reformation University were these:--

First, as regards the teaching Body. The quadriennial Arts' course was
conducted by so-called Regents, who each carried the same students
through all the four years, thus taking upon himself the burden of all
the sciences--a walking Encyclopaedia. The system was in full force, in
spite of attempts to change it, during both the first and the second
periods. You, the students of Arts, at the present day, encountering in
your four years, seven faces, seven voices, seven repositories of
knowledge, need an effort to understand how your predecessors could be
cheerful and happy, confined all through to one personality; sometimes
juvenile, sometimes senile, often feeble at his best.



Next, as regards the Subjects taught. To know these you have simply to
know what are the writings of Aristotle. The little work on him by Sir
Alexander Grant supplies the needful information. The records of the
Glasgow University furnish the curriculum of Arts soon after its
foundation. The subjects are laid out in two heads--Logic and
Philosophy. The Logic comprised first the three Treatises of the Old
Logic; to these were now added the whole of the works making up
Aristotle's Organon. This brought in the Syllogism, and allied matters.
There was also a selection from the work known as the _Topics_, not now
included in Logical teaching, yet one of the most remarkable and
distinctive of Aristotle's writings. It is a highly laboured account of
the whole art of Disputation, laid out under his scheme of the
Predicables. The selection fell chiefly on two books--the second,
comprising what Aristotle had to say on Induction, and the sixth, on
Definition; together with the "Logical Captions" or Fallacies.
Disputation was one of the products of the Greek mind; and Aristotle was
its prophet.

Now for Philosophy. This comprised nearly the whole of Aristotle's
Physical treatises--his very worst side--together with his Metaphysics,
some parts of which are hardly distinguishable from the Physics. Next
was the very difficult treatise--_De Anima_, on the mind, or Soul--and
some allied Psychological treatises, as that on Memory. Such was the
ordinary and sufficing curriculum. It was allowed to be varied with a
part of the Ethics; but in this age we do not find the Politics; and the
Rhetoric is never mentioned. So also, the really valuable Biological
works of Aristotle, including his book on Animals, appear to have been

Certain portions of Mathematics always found a place in the curriculum.
Likewise, some work on Astronomy, which was one of the quadrivium

All this was given in Latin. Greek was not then known (it was introduced
into Scotland, in 1534). No classical Latin author is given; the
education in Latin was finished at the Grammar School.



Such was the Arts' Faculty of the 15th century; a dreary, single-manned,
Aristotelian quadriennium. The position is not completely before us,
till we understand farther the manner of working.

The pupils could not, as a rule, possess the text of Aristotle. The
teacher read and expounded the text for them; but a very large portion
of the time was always occupied in dictating, or "diting," notes, which
the pupils were examined upon, _vivâ voce_; their best plan usually
being to get them by heart, as any one might ask them to repeat passages
literally; while perhaps few could examine well upon the meaning. The
notes would be selections and abridgments from Aristotle, with the
comments of modern writers. The "diting" system was often complained of
as waste of time, but was not discontinued till the third, or present,
University dynasty, and not entirely then, as many of us know.

The teaching was thus exclusively _Text_ teaching. The teacher had
little or nothing to say for himself (at least in the earliest period).
He was even restricted in the remarks he might make by way of
commentary. He was as nearly as possible a machine.

But lastly, to complete the view of the first period, we must add the
practice of Disputation, of which we shall have a better idea from the
records of the next period. This practice was co-eval with the
Universities; it was the single mode of stimulating the thought of the
individual student; the chief antidote to the mechanical teaching by
Text-books and dictation.

The pre-Reformation period of Aberdeen University was little more than
sixty years. For a portion of those years it attained celebrity. In
1541, the town was honoured by a visit from James V., and the University
contributed to his entertainment. The somewhat penny-a-lining account
is, that there were exercises and disputations in Greek, Latin, and
other languages! The official records, however, show that the College at
that very time had sunk into a convent and conventual school.


The Reformation introduced the second period, and made important
changes. First of all, in the great convulsion of European thought, the
ascendancy of Aristotle was shaken. It is enough to mention two
incidents in the downfall of the mighty Stagyrite. One was the attack on
him by the renowned Peter Rainus, in the University of Paris. Our
countryman, Andrew Melville, attended Ramus's Lectures, and became the
means of introducing his system into Scotland. The other incident is
still more notable. The Reformers had to consider their attitude towards
Aristotle. At first their opinion was condemnatory. Luther regarded him
as a very devil; he was "a godless bulwark of the Papists". Melancthon
was also hostile; but he soon perceived that Theology would crumble into
fanatical dissolution without the co-operation of some philosophy. As
yet there was nothing to fall back upon except the pagan systems. Of
these, Melancthon was obliged to confess that Aristotle was the least
objectionable, and was, moreover, in possession. The plan, therefore,
was to accept him as a basis, and fence him round with orthodox
emendations. This done, Aristotle, no longer despotic, but as a limited
constitutional monarch, had his reign prolonged a century and a half.



The first thing, after the Reformation in Scotland, was to purge the
Universities of the inflexible adherents of the old faith. Then came
the question of amending the Curriculum, not simply with a view to
Protestantism, but for the sake of an enlightened teaching. The right
man appeared at the right moment. In 1574, Andrew Melville, then in
Geneva, received pressing invitations to come home and take part in the
needed reforms. He was immediately made Principal of Glasgow University,
at that time in a state of utter collapse and ruin. He had matured his
plans, after consultation with George Buchanan, and they were worthy of
a great reformer. He sketched a curriculum, substantially the curriculum
of the second University period. The modifications upon the almost
exclusive Aristotelianism of the first period, were significant. The
Greek language was introduced, and Greek classical authors read. The
reading in the Roman classics was extended. A text-book on Rhetoric
accompanied the classical readings. The dialectics of Ramus made the
prelude to Logic, instead of the three treatises of the old Logic. The
Mathematics included Euclid. Geography and Cosmography were taken up.
Then came a course of Moral Philosophy on an enlarged basis. With the
Ethics and Politics of Aristotle, were combined Cicero's Ethical works
and certain Dialogues of Plato. Finally, in the Physics, Melville still
used Aristotle, but along with a more modern treatise. He also gave a
view of Universal History and Chronology.

This curriculum, which Melville took upon himself to teach, in order to
train future teachers, was the point of departure of the courses in all
the Universities during the second period. With variations of time and
place, the Arts' course may be described as made up of the Greek and
Latin classics, with Rhetoric, Logic, and Dialectics, Moral Philosophy,
or Ethics, Mathematics, Physics, and Astronomy. The little text-book of
Rhetoric, by Talon or Talaeus, was made up of notes from the Lectures of
Peter Ramus, and used in all our Colleges till superseded by the better
compilation of the Dutch scholar, Gerard John Voss.

Melville had to contend with many opponents, among them the sticklers
for the infallibility of the Stagyrite. Like the German Reformers, he
had accepted Aristotelianism as a basis, with a similar process of
reconciliation. So it was that Aristotle and Calvin were brought to kiss
each other.



Melville's next proposal was all too revolutionary. It consisted in
restricting the Regents each to a special group of subjects; in fact,
anticipating our modern professoriate. He actually set up this plan in
Glasgow: one Regent took Greek and Latin; another, his nephew, James
Melville, took Mathematics, Logic, and Moral Philosophy; a third,
Physics and Astronomy. The system went on, in appearance at least, for
fifty years; it is only in 1642, that we find the Regents given without
a specific designation. Why it should have gone on so long, and been
then dropt, we are not informed. Melville's influence started it in the
other Universities, but it was defeated in every one from the very
outset. After six years at Glasgow, he went to St. Andrew's as Principal
and Professor of Divinity, and tried there the same reforms, but the
resistance was too great. In spite of a public enactment, the division
of labour among the Regents was never carried out. Yet such was
Melville's authority, that the same enactment was extended to King's
College, in a scheme having a remarkable history--the so-called New
Foundation of Aberdeen University, promulgated in a Royal Charter of
about the year 1581. The Earl Marischal was a chief promoter of the plan
of reform comprised in this charter. The division of labour among the
Regents was most expressly enjoined. The plan fell through; and there
was a legal dispute fifty years afterwards as to whether it had ever any
legal validity. Charles I. was made to express indignation at the idea
of reducing the University to a school!

We now approach the foundation of Marischal College. The Earl Marischal
may have been actuated by the failure of his attempt to reform King's
College. At all events, his mind was made up to follow Melville in
assigning separate subjects to his Regents. The Charter is explicit on
this head. Yet in spite of the Charter and in spite of his own presence,
the intention was thwarted; the old Regenting lasted 160 years.


Still the Curriculum reform was gained. There was, indeed, one great
miss. The year before Marischal College was founded, Galileo had
published his work on Mechanics, which, taken with what had been
accomplished by Archimedes and others, laid the foundations of our
modern Physics. Copernicus had already published his work on the
Heavens. It was now time that the Aristotelian Physics should be clean
swept away. In this whole department, Aristotle had made a reign of
confusion; he had thrown the subject back, being himself off the rails
from first to last. Had there been in Scotland an adviser in this
department, like Melville in general literature, or like Napier of
Merchiston in pure mathematics, one fourth of the college teaching might
have been reclaimed from utter waste, and a healthy tone of thinking
diffused through the remainder.

A curious fascination always attached to the study of Astronomy, even
when there was not much to be said, apart from the unsatisfactory
disquisitions of Aristotle. A little book, entitled "_Sacrobosco_ on the
Sphere," containing little more than what we should now teach to boys
and girls, along with the Globes, was a University text-book throughout
Europe for centuries. I was informed by a late King's College professor
that the Use of the Globes was, within his memory, taught in the
Magistrand Class. This would be simply what is termed a "survival".



Now as to the mode of instruction. There were _vivâ voce_ examinations
upon the notes, such as we can imagine. But the stress was laid on
Disputations and Declamations in various forms. Besides disputing and
declaiming on the regular class work before the Regent, we find that,
in Edinburgh, and I suppose elsewhere, the classes were divided into
companies, who met apart, and conferred and debated among themselves
daily. The students were occupied, altogether, six hours a day. Then the
higher classes were frequently pitched against each other. This was a
favourite occupation on Saturdays. The doctrines espoused by the leading
students became their nicknames. The pass for Graduation consisted in
the _propugning_ or _impugning_ of questions by each candidate in turn.
An elaborate Thesis was drawn up by the Regent, giving the heads of his
philosophy course; this was accepted by the candidates, signed by them,
and printed at their expense. Then on the day of trial, at a long
sitting, each candidate stood up and propunged or impunged a portion of
the Thesis; all were heard in turn; and on the result the Degree was
conferred. A good many of these Theses are preserved in our Library;
some of them are very long--a hundred pages of close type; they are our
best clue to the teaching of the period. We can see how far Aristotle
was qualified by modern views.


I said there might have been times when the students never had the
relief of a second face all the four years. The exceptions are of
importance. First, as regards Marischal College. Within a few years of
the foundation, Dr. Duncan Liddell founded the Mathematical Chair, and
thus withdrew from the Regents the subject that most of all needed a
specialist; a succession of very able mathematicians sat in this chair.
King's College had not the same good fortune. From its foundation it
possessed a separate functionary, the Humanist or Grammarian; but he had
also, till 1753, to act as Rector of the Grammar School. Edinburgh
obtained from an early date a Mathematical chair, occupied by men of
celebrity. There was no other innovation till near the end of the 17th
century, when Greek was isolated both in Edinburgh and in Marischal
College; but the end of Regenting was then near.

The old system, however, had some curious writhings. During the troubled
17th century, University reform could not command persistent attention.
But after the 1688-Revolution, opinions were strongly expressed in
favour of the Melville system. The obvious argument was urged, that, by
division of labour each man would be able to master a special subject,
and do it justice in teaching. Yet, it was replied, that, by the
continued intercourse, the master knew better the humours, inclinations,
and talents of their scholars. To which the answer was--the humours and
inclinations of scholars are not so deeply hid but that in a few weeks
they appear. Moreover, it was said, the students are more respectful to
a Master while he is new to them.

The final division of subjects took place in Edinburgh, in 1708; in
Glasgow, in 1727; in St. Andrews, in 1747. In Marischal College, the
change was made by a minute of 11th Jan., 1753; but, whether from
ignorance, or from want of grace, the Senatus did not record its
satisfaction at having, after a lapse of five generations, fulfilled the
wishes of the pious founder. In King's College, the old system lasted
till 1798.

This closes the second age of the Universities, and introduces the third
age, the age of the Professoriate, of Lecturing instead of Text-books,
the end of Disputation, and the use of the English Language. It was now,
and not till now, that the Scottish Universities stood forth, in several
leading departments of knowledge, as the teachers of the world.



The second age of the Universities was Scotland's most trying time. In a
hundred and thirty years, the country had passed through four revolutions
and counter-revolutions; every one of which told upon the Universities.
The victorious party imposed its test upon the University teacher, and
drove out recusants. You must all know something of the purging of the
University and the Ministry of Aberdeen by the Covenanting General
Assembly of 1640. These deposed Aberdeen doctors may have had too strong
leanings to episcopacy in the Church and to absolutism in the State, but
they were not Vicars of Bray. The first half of the century was adorned
by a band of scholars, who have gained renown by their cultivation of
Latin poetry; a little oasis in the desert of Aristotelian Dialectics.
It would be needless and ungracious to enquire whether this was the best
thing that could have been done for the generation of Bishop Patrick

Your reading in the History of Scotland will thus bring you face to face
with the great powers that contended for the mastery from 1560: the
Monarchy, always striving to be absolute; the Church, whose position
made it the advocate of popular freedom; the Universities, fluctuating
as regards political liberty, but standing up for intellectual liberty.
In the 17th century the Church ruled the Universities; in the 18th, it
may be said, that the Universities returned the compliment.



Enough for the past. A word or two on the present. What is now the need
for a University system, and what must the system be to answer that
need? Many things are altered since the 12th century.

First, then, Universities, as I understand them, are not absolutely
essential to the teaching of professions. Let me make an extreme
supposition. A great naval commander, like Nelson, is sent on board
ship, at eleven or twelve; his previous knowledge, or general training,
is what you may suppose for that age. It is in the course of actual
service, and in no other way, that he acquires his professional fitness
for commanding fleets. Is this right or is it wrong? Perhaps it is
wrong, but it has gone on so for a long time. Well, why may not a
preacher be formed on the same plan? John Wesley was not a greater man
in preaching, than Nelson in seamanship. Take, then, a youth of thirteen
from the school. Apprentice him to the minister of a parish. Let him
make at once preparations for clerical work. Let him store his memory
with sermons, let him make abstracts of Divinity systems; master the
best exegetical commentators. Then, in a year or two, he would begin to
catechise the young, to give addresses in the way of exposition,
exhortation, encouragement, and rebuke. Practice would bring facility.
Might not, I say; seven years of the actual work, in the susceptible
period of life, make a preacher of no mean power, without the Grammar
School, without the Arts' Classes, without the Divinity Hall?

What then do we gain by taking such a roundabout approach to our
professional work? The answer is twofold.

First, as regards the profession itself. Nearly every skilled
occupation, in our time, involves principles and facts that have been
investigated, and are taught, outside the profession; to the medical man
are given courses of Chemistry, Physiology, and so on. Hence to be
completely equipped for your professional work, you must repair to the
teachers of those tributary departments of knowledge. The requirement,
however, is not absolute; it admits of being evaded. Your professional
teachers ought to master these outside subjects, and give you just as
much of them as you need, and no more; which would be an obvious economy
of your valuable time.

Thus, I apprehend, the strictly professional uses of general knowledge
fail to justify the Grammar School and the Arts' curriculum. Something,
indeed, may still be said for the higher grades of professional
excellence, and for introducing improved methods into the practice of
the several crafts; for which wider outside studies lend their aid.
This, however, is not enough; inventors are the exception. In fact, the
ground must be widened, and include, secondly, _the life beyond the
profession_. We are citizens of a self-governed country; members of
various smaller societies; heads, or members of families. We have,
moreover, to carve out recreation and enjoyment as the alternative and
the reward of our professional toil. Now the entire tone and character
of this life outside the profession, is profoundly dependent on the
compass of our early studies. He that leaves the school for the shop at
thirteen, is on one platform. He that spends the years from thirteen to
twenty in acquiring general knowledge, is on a totally different
platform; he is, in the best sense, an aristocrat. Those that begin work
at thirteen, and those that are born not to work at all, are alike his
inferiors. He should be able to spread light all around. He it is that
may stand forth before the world as the model man.



All this supposes that you realise the position; that you fill up the
measure of the opportunities; that you keep in view at once the
Professional life, the Citizen life, and the life of Intellectual
tastes. The mere professional man, however prosperous, cannot be a power
in society, as the Arts' graduate may become. His leisure occupations
are all of a lower stamp. He does not participate in the march of
knowledge. He must be aware of his incompetence to judge for himself in
the greater questions of our destiny; his part is to be a follower, and
not a leader.

It is not, then, the name of graduate that will do all this. It is not a
scrape pass; it is not decent mediocrity with a languid interest. It is
a fair and even attention throughout, supplemented by auxiliaries to the
class work. It is such a hold of the leading subjects, such a mastery of
the various alphabets, as will make future references intelligible, and
a continuation of the study possible.

Our curriculum is one of the completest in the country, or perhaps
anywhere. By the happy thought of the Senatus of Marischal College, in
1753, you have a fundamental class (Natural History) not existing in the
other colleges. You have a fair representation of the three great lines
of science--the Abstract, the Experimental, and the Classifying. When it
is a general education that you are thinking of, every scheme of option
is imperfect that does not provide for such three-sided cultivation of
our reasoning powers. A larger quantity of one will no more serve for
the absence of the rest than a double covering of one part of the body,
will enable another part to be left bare.


Your time in the Arts' curriculum is not entirely used up by the
classes. You can make up for deficiences in the course, when once you
have formed your ideal of completeness. For a year, or two after
graduating, while still rejoicing in youthful freshness, you can be
widening your foundations. The thing then is, to possess a good scheme
and to abide by it. Now, making every allowance for the variation of
tastes and of circumstances, and looking solely to what is desirable
for a citizen and a man, it is impossible to refuse the claims of
the department of Historical and Social study. One or two good
representative historical periods might be thoroughly mastered in
conjunction with the best theoretical compends of Social Philosophy.


Farther, the ideal graduate, who is to guide and not follow opinion,
should be well versed in all the bearings of the Spiritual Philosophy of
the time. The subject branches out into wide regions, but not wider than
you should be capable of following it. This is not a professional study
merely; it is the study of a well-instructed man.

Once more. A share of attention should be bestowed early on the higher
Literature of the Imagination. As, in after life, poetry and elegant
composition are to be counted on as a pleasure and solace, they should
be taken up at first as a study. The critical examination of styles, and
of authors, which forms an admirable basis of a student's society,
should be a work of study and research. The advantages will be many and
lasting. To conceive the exact scope and functions of the Imagination in
art, in science, in religion, and everywhere, will repay the trouble.


Ever since I remember, I have been accustomed to hear of the superiority
of the Arts' graduate, in various crafts, more especially as a teacher.
Many of you in these days pass into another vocation--Letters, or the
Press. Here too, almost everything you learn will pay you professionally.
Still, I am careful not to rest the case for general education on
professional grounds alone. I might show you that the highest work of
all--original enquiry--needs a broad basis of liberal study; or at all
events is vastly aided by that. Genius will work on even a narrow basis,
but imperfect preparatory study leaves marks of imperfection in the

The same considerations that determine your voluntary studies, determine
also the University Ideal. A University, in my view, stands or falls
with its Arts' Faculty. Without debating the details, we may say that
this Faculty should always be representative of the needs of our
intelligence, both for the professional and for the extra-professional
life; it should not be of the shop, shoppy. The University exists
because the professions would stagnate without it; and still more,
because it may be a means of enlarging knowledge at all points. Its
watchword is Progress. We have, at last, the division of labour in
teaching; outside the University, teachers too much resemble the Regent
of old--having too many subjects, and too much time spent in grinding.
Our teachers are exactly the reverse.

Yet, there cannot be progress without a sincere and single eye to the
truth. The fatal sterility of the middle ages, and of our first and
second University periods, had to do with the mistake of gagging men's
mouths, and dictating all their conclusions. Things came to be so
arranged that contradictory views ran side by side, like opposing
electric currents; the thick wrappage of ingenious phraseology arresting
the destructive discharge. There was, indeed, an elaborate and
pretentious Logic, supplied by Aristotle, and amended by Bacon; what was
still wanted was a taste of the Logic of Freedom.


[Footnote 15: RECTORIAL ADDRESS, to the Students of Aberdeen University,
_15th November_, 1882.]

       *       *       *       *       *



Of hackneyed subjects, a foremost place may be assigned to the Art of
Study. Allied to the theory and practice of Education generally, it has
still a field of its own, although not very precisely marked out. It
relates more to self-education than to instruction under masters; it
supposes the voluntary choice of the individual rather than the
constraint of an outward discipline. Consequently, the time for its
application is when the pupil is emancipated from the prescription and
control of the scholastic curriculum.

There is another idea closely associated with our notion of study--namely,
learning from books. We may stretch the word, without culpable licence,
to comprise the observation of facts of all kinds, but it more naturally
suggests the resort to book lore for the knowledge that we are in quest
of. There is a considerable propriety in restricting it to this meaning;
or, at all events, in treating the art of becoming wise through reading,
as different from the arts of observing facts at first hand. In short,
study should not be made co-extensive with knowledge getting, but with
book learning. In thus narrowing the field, we have the obvious advantage
of cultivating it more carefully, and the unobvious, but very real,
advantage of dealing with one homogeneous subject.

In the current phrase, "_studying under_ some one," there is a more
express reference to being taught by a master, as in listening to
lectures. There is, however, the implication that the learner is
applying his own mind to the special field, and, at the same time, is
not neglecting the other sources of knowledge, such as books. The master
is looked upon rather as a guide to enquiry, than as the sole fountain
of the information sought.

Thus, then, the mental exercise that we now call "study" began when
books began; when knowledge was reduced to language and laid out
systematically in verbal compositions. A certain form of it existed in
the days when language was as yet oral merely; when there might be long
compositions existing only in the memory of experts, and communicable by
speech alone. But study then was a very simple affair: it would consist
mainly in attentive listening to recitation, so as to store up in the
memory what was thus communicated. The art, if any, would attach equally
to the reciter and to the listener; the duty of the one would be to
accommodate his lessons in time, quantity, and mode of delivery to the
retentive capacity of the other; who, in his turn, would be required to
con and recapitulate what he had been told, until he made it his own,
whatever it might be worth.


Even when books came into existence, an art of study would be at first
very simple. The whole extent of book literature among the Jews before
Christ would be soon read; and, when once read, there was nothing left
but to re-read it in whole or in part, with a view of committal to
memory, whether for meditative reflection, or for awakening the
emotions. We see, in the Psalms of David, the emphasis attached to
mental dwelling on the particulars of the Mosaic Law, as the nourishment
of the feelings of devotion.

The Greek Literature about 350 B.C., when Aristotle and Demosthenes had
reached manhood (being then 34), had attained a considerable mass; as
one may see at a glance from Jebb's chronology attached to his Primer.
There was a splendid poetical library, including all the great
tragedians, with the older and the middle Comedy. There were the three
great historians--Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon; and the
orators--- Lysias, Isocrates, and Isaeus; there were the precursors of
Socrates in Philosophy; and, finally, the Platonic Dialogues. To
overtake all these would employ several years of learned leisure; and to
imbibe their substance would be a rich and varied culture, especially of
the poetic and rhetorical kind. To make the most of the field, a
judicious procedure would be very helpful; there was evident scope for
an art of study. The fertile intellect of the Greeks produced the first
systematic guides to high culture; the Rhetorical art for Oratory and
Poetry, the Logical art for Reasoning, and the Eristic art for
Disputation. There was nothing precisely corresponding to an Art of
Study, but there were examples of the self-culture of celebrated men.
The most notorious of these is Demosthenes; of whom we know that, while
he took special lessons in the art of oratory, he also bestowed
extraordinary pains upon the general cultivation of his intellectual
powers. His application to Thucydides in particular is recounted in
terms of obvious mythical exaggeration; showing, nevertheless, his idea
of fixing upon a special book with a view to extracting from it every
particle of intellectual nourishment that it could yield: in which we
have an example of the art of study as I have defined it. Then, it is
said that, in his anxiety to master his author, he copied the entire
work eight times, with his own hand, and had it by heart _verbatim_, so
as to be able to re-write it when the manuscripts were accidentally
destroyed. Both points enter into the art of study, and will come under
review in the sequel.

We do not possess from the genius of Aristotle--the originator or
improver of so many practical departments--an Art of Study. The omission
was not supplied by any other Greek writer known to us. The oratorical
art was a prominent part of education both in Greece and in Rome; and
was discussed by many authors--notably by Cicero himself; but the
exhaustive treatment is found in Quintilian. The very wide scope of the
"Institutes of Oratory" comprises a chapter upon the orator's reading,
in which the author reviews the principal Greek and Roman classics from
Homer to Seneca, with remarks upon the value of each for the mental
cultivation of the oratorical pupil. Something of this sort might be
legitimately included in the art of study, but might also be withheld,
as being provided in the critical estimates already formed respecting
all writers of note.


After Ouintilian, it is little use to search for an art of study, either
among the later Latin classics, or among the mediaeval authors
generally. I proceed at once to remark upon the well-known essay of
Bacon, which shows his characteristic subtlety, judiciousness, and
weight; yet is too short for practical guidance. He hits the point, as
I conceive it, when he identifies study with reading, and brings in, but
only by way of contrast and complement, conference or conversation and
composition. He endeavours to indicate the worth of book learning, as
an essential addition to the actual practice of business, and the
experience, of life. He marks a difference between books that we are
merely to dip into (books to be tasted) and such as are to be mastered;
without, however, stating examples. He ventures also to settle the
respective kinds of culture assignable to different departments of
knowledge--history, poetry, mathematics, natural philosophy, moral
philosophy, logic and rhetoric; a very useful attempt in its own way,
and one that may well enough enter into a comprehensive art of study,
if not provided for in the still wider theory of Education at large.

Bacon's illustrious friend, Hobbes, did not write on studies, but made
a notable remark bearing on one topic connected with the art,--namely,
that if he had read as much as other men, he should have remained still
as ignorant as other men. This must not be interpreted too literally.
Hobbes was really a great reader of the ancients, and must have studied
with care some of the philosophers immediately preceding himself. Still,
it indicates an important point for discussion in the art of study, in
which great men have gone to opposite extremes--I mean in reference to
the amount of attention to be given to previous writers, in taking up
new ground.

To come down to another great name, we have Milton's ideal of Education,
given in his short Tractate. Here, with many protestations of knowing
things, rather than words, we find an enormous prescription of book
reading, including, in fact, every known author on every one of a wide
circle of subjects. This was characteristic of the man: he was a
voracious reader himself, and an example to show, in opposition to
Hobbes, that original genius is not necessarily quenched by great or
even excessive erudition. As bearing on the art of study, especially for
striplings under twenty, Milton's scheme is open to two criticisms:
first, that the amount of reading on the whole is too great; second,
that in subjects handled by several authors of repute, one should have
been selected as the leading text-book and got up thoroughly; the others
being taken in due time as enlarging or correcting the knowledge thus
laid in. Think of a boy learning Rhetoric upon six authors taken


The transition from Milton to Locke is the inverse of that from Hobbes
to Milton. Locke was also a man of few books. If he had been sent to
school under Milton, as he might have been,[16] he would have very soon
thrown up the learned drudgery prescribed for him, and would have

The practical outcome of Locke's enquiries respecting the human
faculties is to be found in the little treatise named--"The Conduct of
the Understanding". It is an earnest appeal in favour of devotion to the
attainment of truth, and an exposure of _all_ the various sources of
error, moral and intellectual; more especially prejudices and bias.
There are not, however, many references to book study; and such as we
find are chiefly directed to the one aim of painful and laborious
examination, first, of an author's meaning, and next of the goodness of
his arguments. Two or three sentences will give the clue. "Those who
have read of everything, are thought to understand everything too; but
it is not always so. Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of
knowledge; it is thinking makes what we read ours. We are of the
ruminating kind, and it is not enough to cram ourselves with a great
deal of collections, unless we chew them over again, they will not give
us strength and nourishment." Farther: "Books and reading are looked
upon to be the great helps of the understanding, and instruments of
knowledge, as it must be allowed that they are; and yet I beg leave to
question whether these do not prove a hindrance to many, and keep
several bookish men from attaining to solid and true knowledge". Here,
again, is his stern way of dealing with any author:--"To fix in the mind
the clear and distinct idea of the question stripped of words; and so
likewise, in the train of argumentation, to take up the author's ideas,
neglecting his words, observing how they connect or separate those in
the question." Of this last, more afterwards.


A disciple of Locke, and a man of considerable and various powers, the
non-conformist divine Isaac Watts, produced perhaps the first
considerable didactic treatise on Study. I refer, of course, to his
well-known work entitled "The Improvement of the Mind"; on which, he
tells us, he was occupied at intervals for twenty years. It has two
Parts: one on the acquisition of knowledge; the other on Communication
or leaching. The scheme is a very wide one. Observation, Reading,
attending Lectures, Conversation,--are all included. To the word
"Study," Watts attaches a special meaning, namely Meditation and
Reflection, together with the control or regulation of all the exercises
of the mind. I doubt if this meaning is well supported by usage. At all
events it is not the signification that I propose to attach to the term.
Observation is an art in itself: so is Conversation, whether amicable or
contentious. The _proportions_ that these exercises should bear to
reading, would fairly claim a place in the complete Art of Study.

Watts has two short chapters on Books and Reading, containing sensible
remarks. He urges the importance of thorough mastery of select authors;
but assumes a power of discriminating good and bad beyond the reach of
a learner, and does not show how it is to be attained. He is very much
concerned all through as to the moral tone and religious orthodoxy of
the books read, he also reproves hasty and ill-natured judgments upon
the authors.

Watts's Essay is so pithily written, and so full of sense and propriety,
that it long maintained a high position in our literature; he tells us,
that it had become a text-book in the University. I do not know of any
better work on the same plan. A "Student's Guide," by an American named
Todd, was in vogue with us, some time ago; but anyone looking at its
contents, will not be sorry that it is now forgotten. It would not,
however, be correct to say that the subject has died out. If there have
not been many express didactic treatises of late, there has been an
innumerable host of small dissertations, in the form of addresses,
speeches, incidental discussions, leading articles, sermons--all
intended to guide both young and old in the path of useful study. What
to read, when to read, and how to read,--have been themes of many an
essay, texts of many a discourse. According as Education at large has
been more and more discussed, the particular province of self-education,
as here marked out, has had an ample share of attention from more or
less qualified advisers.

What we have got before us, then, is, first, to define our ground, and
then to appropriate and value the accumulated fruits of the labour
expended on it. I have already indicated how I would narrow the subject
of Study, so as to occupy a field apart, and not jumble together matters
that follow distinct laws. The theory of Education in general is the
theory of good Teaching: that is a field by itself, although many things
in it are applicable also to self-education. To estimate the values of
different acquisitions--Science, Language, and the rest, is good for
all modes of culture. The laws of the understanding in general, and of
the memory in particular, must be taken into account under every mode of
acquiring knowledge. Yet the alteration of circumstances, when a pupil
is carving out his own course, and working under his own free-will,
leads to new and distinct rules of procedure. Also, that part of
self-education consisting in the application to books is distinct from
the other forms of mental cultivation, namely, conversing, disputing,
original composition, and tutorial aid. Each of these has its own rules
or methods, which I do not mean to notice except by brief allusion.

In connection with the Plan of study, it is material to ask what the
individual is studying for. Each profession, each accomplishment, has
its own course of education. If book reading is an essential part, then
the choice of books must follow the line of the special pursuit. This is
obvious; but does not do away with the consideration of the best modes
of studying whatever books are suitable for the end. One man has to read
in Chemistry, another in Law, another in Divinity, and so on. For each
and all of these, there is a profitable and an unprofitable mode of
working, and the speciality of the matter is unessential.


The more important differences of subject, involving differences of
method, are seen in such contrasted departments as Science and Language,
Thought and Style, Reality and Poetry, Generality and Particularity. In
applying the mind to these various branches, and in using books as the
medium of acquisition, there are considerable differences in the mode of
procedure. The study of a book of Science is not on the same plan as the
study of a History or a Poem. Yet even in these last, there are many
circumstances in common, arising out of the constitution of our
faculties and the nature of a verbal medium of communication of thought.

An art of Study in general should not presume to follow out in minute
detail the education of the several professions. There should still be,
for example, a distinct view of the training special in an Orator, on
which the ancients bestowed so much pains; there being no corresponding
course hitherto chalked out for a Philosopher as such, or even for a

Next, there is an important distinction between studies for a
professional walk, and the studies of a man's leisure, with a view to
gratifying a special taste, or for the higher object of independent
thinking on all the higher questions belonging to a citizen and a man.
Both positions has its peculiarities; and an art of study should be
catholic enough to embrace them. To have the best part of the day for
study, and the rest for recreation and refreshment, is one thing: and to
study in by-hours, in snatches of time, and in holidays is quite another
thing. In the latter case, the choice of subjects, and the extent of
them, must be considerably different; while the consideration of the
best modes of economizing time and strength, and of harmonizing one's
life as a whole, is more pressing and more arduous. But, when the course
is chalked out, the details of study must conform to the general
conditions of all acquirements in knowledge through the instrumentality
of books.

One, and only one, more preliminary clearing. When an instructor
proceeds, as Milton in his school, or as James Mill with his son, by
prescribing to each pupil a mass of books to be read, with more or less
of examination as to their contents; in such a case, education from
without has passed into study in our narrow sense; and the procedure for
one situation is applicable to both. The two cases are equally in
contrast to educating by the direct instruction of the teacher. In so
far, however, as any teacher requires book study to co-operate with his
own addresses, to that extent do the methods laid down for private study
come into play.

Under every view, it is a momentous fact, that the man of modern times
has become a book-reading animal. The acquisition of knowledge and the
cultivation of the intellectual powers of the mind, form only a small
part of the use of books; although the part more properly named Study.
The moral tendencies are controlled; the emotions regulated; sympathy
with mankind, or the opposite, generated; pleasurable excitement
afforded. These other uses may be provided apart, as in our literature
of amusement, or they may be given in combination with the element of
knowledge, in which case they are apt to be a disturbing force,
rendering uncertain our calculations as to the efficacy of particular
modes of study.

       *       *       *       *       *

The practical problem of Study is not to be approached by any high
_priori_ road; in other words, by setting out from abstract principles
as to the nature of the mind's receptivity and the operation of
book-reading upon that receptivity. A humbler line of approach will be
more likely to succeed.

There exist a number of received maxims on study, the result of many
men's experience and wisdom. Our endeavour will be to collect these,
arrange them in a methodical plan, so that they may give mutual aid, and
supply each other's defects. We shall go a little farther, and criticise
them according to the best available lights; and, when too vague or
sweeping, supply needful qualifications.

The Choice of Books, in the first instance, depends on the merits
attributed to them severally by persons most conversant with the special
department. In some degree, too, this choice is controlled by the
consideration of the best modes of study, as will soon be apparent.

       *       *       *       *       *


1. Our first maxim is--"Select a Text-book-in-chief". The meaning is,
that when a large subject is to be overtaken by book study alone, some
one work should be chosen to apply to, in the first instance, which work
should be conned and mastered before any other is taken up. There being,
in most subjects, a variety of good books, the thorough student will not
be satisfied in the long run without consulting several, and perhaps
making a study of them all; yet, it is unwise to distract the attention
with more than one, while the elements are to be learnt. In Geometry,
the pupil begins upon Euclid, or some other compendium, and is not
allowed to deviate from the single line of his author. If he is once
thoroughly at home on the main ideas and the leading propositions of
Geometry, he is safe in dipping into other manuals, in comparing the
differences of treatment, and in widening his knowledge by additional
theorems, and by various modes of demonstration.

In principle, the maxim is generally allowed. Nevertheless, it is often
departed from in practice. This happens in several ways.



One way is exemplified in Milton's Tractate, already referred to. His
method of teaching any subject would appear to have been to take, the
received authors, and to read them one after another, probably according
to date; the reading pace, and degree of concentration, being apparently
equal all through. His six authors on Rhetoric were--Plato (select
Dialogues, of course), Aristotle, Phalereus, Cicero, Hermogenes,
Longinus. To read their several treatises through in the order named,
with equal attention, would undoubtedly leave in the mind a good many
thoughts on Rhetoric, but in a somewhat chaotic state. Much better would
it have been to have adopted a Text-book-in-chief, the choice lying
between Aristotle and Ouintilian (who comes in at a prior stage of the
Miltonic curriculum). The book so chosen would be read, and re-read; or
rather each chapter would be gone over several times, with appropriate
testing exercises and examinations. The other works might then be
overtaken and compared with the principal text-book; the judgment of
the pupil being so far matured, as to see what in them was already
superseded, and what might be adopted as additions to his already
acquired stock of ideas. Milton's views of education embraced the useful
to a remarkable degree; he was no pamperer of imagination and the
ornamental. His list of subjects might be said to be utility run
wild:--comprising the chief parts of Mathematics, together with
Engineering, Navigation, Architecture, and Fortification; Natural
Philosophy; Natural History; Anatomy, and Practice of Physic; Ethics,
Politics, Economics, Jurisprudence, Theology; a full course of the
Orators and Poets; Logic, Rhetoric, and Poetics. He tumbles out a whole
library of reading: but only in Ethics, does he indicate a leading or
preferential work; the half-dozen of classical books on the subject are
to be perused, "under the determinate sentence" of the scripture
authorities. With all this voracity for the useful, Milton had no
conception of scientific form, or method; and indeed, few of the
subjects had as yet passed the stage of desultory treatment; so that the
idea of casting the knowledge into some one form, under the guidance of
a chosen author, would never occur to him. Better things might have been
expected of James Mill, in conducting the education of his son. Yet we
find his plan to have been to require an even and exhaustive perusal of
nearly every book on nearly every subject, without singling out any one
to impart the best known form in each case. The disadvantage of the
process would be that, at first, all the writers were regarded as
profitable alike. Nevertheless, in the special subjects that he knew
himself, he gave his own instructions as the leading text, and his
pupil's knowledge took form according to these. In some cases, accident
gave a text-in-chief, as when young Mill at ten years of age, studied
Thomson's Chemistry, without the distraction of any other work. If there
had been half-a-dozen Chemical manuals in existence, he would probably
have read them all, and fared much worse. It happens, however, that,
in the more exact sciences, there is a greater sameness in the leading
ideas, than in Politics, Morals, or the Human Mind; and the evil of
distraction is so much smaller. Undoubtedly, the best of all ways of
learning anything is to have a competent master to dole out a fixed
quantity every day, just sufficient to be taken in, and no more; the
pupils to apply themselves to the matter so imparted, and to do nothing
else. The singleness of aim is favourable to the greatest rapidity of
acquirement; and any defects are to be left out of account, until one
thread of ideas is firmly set in the mind. Not unfrequently, however,
and not improperly, the teacher has a text-book in aid of his oral
instructions. To make this a help, and not a hindrance, demands the
greatest delicacy; the sole consideration being that the pupil must
be kept _in one single line of thought_, and never be required to
comprehend, on the same point, conflicting or varying statements.

Even the foot-notes to a work may have to be disregarded, in the first
instance. They may act like a second author, and keep up an irritating
friction. There is, doubtless, a consummate power of annotation that
anticipates difficulties, and clears away haze, without distracting the
mind. There is also an art of bringing out relief by an accompaniment,
like the two images of the stereoscope. This is most likely to arise
through a living teacher or commentator, who, by his tones and emphasis,
as well as by his very guarded and reserved additions, can make the
meaning of the author take shape and fulness.

As the chief text-book is chosen, among other reasons, for its method
and system, any defects on this head may be very suitably supplied,
during the reader's progress, by notes or otherwise. When the end is
clearly kept in view, we shall not go wrong as to the means: the spirit
will remedy an undue bias to the letter.

The subjects that depend for their full comprehension upon a certain
method and order of details, are numerous, and include the most
important branches of human culture. The Sciences, in mass, are avowedly
of this character: even such departments as Theology, Ethics, Rhetoric,
and Criticism have their definite form; and, until the mind of the
student is fully impressed with this, all the particulars are vague and
chaotic, and comparatively useless for practical application. So, any
subject cast in a _polemic_ form must be received and held in the
connection thereby given to it. If the arguments _pro_ and _con_ fall
out of their places in the mind of the reader, their force is missed or

History is pre-eminently a subject for method, and, therefore, involves
some such plan as is here recommended. Every narrative read otherwise
than for mere amusement, as we read a novel, should leave in the
mind--(1) the Chronological sequence (more or less detailed); and (2)
the Causal sequence, that is, the influences at work in bringing about
the events. These are best gained by application to a single work in the
first place; other works being resorted to in due time.

Of the non-methodical subjects, forming an illustrative contrast,
mention may be made of purely didactic treatises, where the precepts are
each valuable for itself, and by itself: such as, until very recently,
the works on Agriculture, and even on Medicine. A book of Domestic
Receipts, consulted by index, is not a work for study.

Poems and fictitious narrations will naturally be regarded as of the
un-methodical class. If there are exceptions, they consist of long
poems--Epics and Dramas--whose plan is highly artistic, and must be felt
in order to the full effect. Probably, however, this is the merit that
the generality of readers are content to miss, especially if greater
strain of attention is needed to discover it. Readers bent on enjoyment
dwell on the passing page, and are not inclined to carry with them what
has gone before, in order to understand what is to follow.


Very intelligent and superior men have wholly repudiated the notion of
study by method. We must not lay too much stress upon these disclaimers,
seeing that they are usually cited from those in advanced years, or men
whose day of methodical education is passed. When Johnson said--"A man
ought to read just as inclination leads him," he was not thinking of
beginners, for whom he would probably have dictated a different course.
Still, it is a prevailing tendency of many minds, to read all books
equally, provided the interest or enjoyment of them is equal. Macaulay,
Sir William Hamilton, De Quincey, as well as Johnson, and a numerous
host besides, were book-gluttons, books in breeches; they imbibed
information copiously, and also retained it, but as a matter of chance.
The enjoyment of their life was to read; whereas, to master thoroughly a
considerable field of knowledge, can never be all enjoyment. Gibbon was
a book devourer, but he had a plan; he was organizing a vast work of
composition. Macaulay, also, showed himself capable of realizing a
scheme of composition; both his History and his Speeches have the stamp
of method, even to the pitch of being valuable as models. Hamilton and
De Quincey, each in his way, could form high ideals of work, and in part
execute them; but their productiveness suffered from too much bookish
intoxication. While readers generally mix the motive of instruction with
stimulation, the class that seek instruction solely is but small; the
other extreme is frequent enough.


In many subjects, the difficulties of fixing upon the proper Text-book
are not inconsiderable. The mere reputation of a book may be great, and
well-founded; and yet the merits may not be of the kind that fits it for
the commencing student. Such conditions as the following must be taken
into account. The Form or Method should be of a high order: this we
shall have occasion to illustrate under the next head. It should be
abreast: of the time, on its own subject. It should be moderately full,
without being necessarily exhaustive in detail. It is on this point that
the cheap primers of the present day are mainly defective. They state
general ideas, and lay down outlines; but they do not provide
sufficiently expanded illustration to stamp these on the mind of the
learner. A shilling primer is really a more advanced book than one on a
triple scale, that should embrace the same compass of leading ideas.
As a farther condition, the work chosen should not have so much of
individuality as to fail in the character of representing the prevailing
views. The greatest authors often err on this point; and, while a work
of genius is not to be neglected, it may, for this reason, have to take
the second place in the order of study. Newton's _Principia_ could never
be a work suited for an early stage of mathematical study. Lyell's
Geology has been a landmark in the history of the subject; but it is not
cast in the form for a beginner in Geology. It is, in its whole plan,
argumentative; setting up and defending a special thesis in Geology; the
facts being arrayed with that view. Many other great works have assumed
a like form; such are Malthus on Population, Grove's Correlation of
Physical Forces, Darwin's Origin of Species. Even expressly didactic
works are often composed more to bring forward a peculiar view, than
from the desire to develop a subject in its due proportions. Locke's
Essay on the Understanding does not propose to give a methodical and
exhaustive handling of the Powers of the Mind, or even of the Intellect.
That was reserved for Reid.

The question as between old writers and new, would receive an easy
solution upon such grounds as the foregoing, were it not for the
sentiment of veneration for the old, because they are old. If an ancient
writer retains a place by virtue of surpassing merits, as against all
subsequent writers, his case is quite clear. In the nature of things,
this must be rare: if there be an example, it is Euclid; yet his
position is held only through the mutual jealousy of his modern rivals.

The only motive for commencing a study upon a very old writer is a
desire to work out a subject historically; which, in some instances may
be allowed, but not very often. In Politics, Ethics, and Rhetoric, the
plan might have its advantages; but, with this imperative condition,
that we shall follow out the development in the modern works. In
proportion as a subject assumes a scientific shape, it must carefully
define its terms, marshal its propositions in proper dependence, and
offer strict proof of all matters of fact; now, in these respects, every
known branch of knowledge has improved with the lapse of ages; so that
the more recent works are necessarily the best for entering upon the
study. A historical sequence may be proper to be observed; but that
should be backward and not forward. The earlier stages of some subjects
are absolutely worthless; as, for example, Physics, Chemistry, and most
of Biology, in other subjects, as Politics and Ethics, the tentatives of
such men as Plato and Aristotle have an undying value; nevertheless, the
student should not begin, but end, with them.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is an extreme form of putting our present doctrine that runs it
into paradox: namely, the one-book-and-no-more maxim. Scarcely any book
in existence is so all-sufficient for its purpose that a student is
better occupied in re-reading it for the tenth time, than in reading
some others once. Even the merits of the one book are not fully known
unless we compare it with others; nor have we grasped any subject unless
we are able to see it stated in various forms, without being distracted
or confused. It is not a high knowledge of horsemanship that can be
gained by the most thorough acquaintance with one horse.


Any truth that there is in the paradox of excluding all books but one
from perusal, belongs to it as a form of the maxim we have now been
considering. There is not in existence a work corresponding to the
notion of absolute self-sufficiency. Suppose we were to go over the
_chef-d'oeuvres_ of human genius, we should not find one in the position
of entire independence of all others. Take, for example, the poems of
Homer; the Republic and a few other of Plato's pre-eminent Dialogues;
the great speeches of Demosthenes; the Ethics and Politics of Aristotle;
the poems of Dante; Shakespeare, as a whole; Bacon's Novum Organum;
Newton's Principia; Locke on the Understanding; the _Méchanique Céleste_
of Laplace. No one of all these could produce its effect on the mind
without referring to other works, previous, contemporary, or following.
The remark is not confined to works of elucidation and comment
merely--as the contemporary history of Greece, or the speeches of
Demosthenes--but extends to other compositions, of the very same tenor,
by different, although inferior, writers. Shakespeare himself is made
much more profitable by a perusal of the other Elizabethans, and by a
comparison with dramatic models before and after him.

The nearest approach to a perfectly all-sufficing book is seen in
scientific compilations by a conjunction of highly accomplished editors.
A new edition of Quain's Anatomy, revised and brought up to date by the
best anatomists, would, for the moment, probably be fully adequate to
the wants of the student, and dispense with all other references
whatsoever. Not that even then, it would be desirable to abstain from
ever opening a different compendium; although undoubtedly there would be
the very minimum of necessity for doing so. Nevertheless, literature
presents few analogous instances. One of the great works of an original
genius, like Aristotle, might, by profuse annotation, be made nearly
sufficing; but this is another way of reading by quotation a plurality
of writers; and it would be better still to peruse some of these in
full, there being no need for studying them with the degree of intensity
bestowed on a main work.


The example, by pre-eminence, of one self-sufficing work is the Bible.
Being the sole and ultimate authority of Christian doctrine, it holds a
position entirely apart; and, among Protestants at least, there is a
becoming jealousy of allowing any extraneous writing to overbear its
contents. Yet we are not to infer, as many have done practically, that
no other work needs to be read in company with it. Granting that its
genuine doctrines have been overlaid by subsequent accretions, the way
to get clear of these is not to neglect the entire body of fathers,
commentators, and theologians, and to give the whole attention to the
scriptural text. Locke himself set an example of this attempt. He
proposed, in his "Reasonableness of Christianity," to ascertain the
exact meaning of the New Testament, by casting aside all the glosses of
commentators and divines, and applying his own unassisted judgment to
spell out its teachings. He did not disdain to use the lights of
extraneous history, and the traditions of the heathen world; he only
refused to be bound by any of the artificial creeds and systems devised
in later ages to embody the doctrines supposed to be found in the Bible.
The fallacy of his position obviously was, that he could not strip
himself of his education and acquired notions, the result of the
teaching of the orthodox church. He seemed unconscious of the necessity
of trying to make allowance for his unavoidable prepossessions. In
consequence, he simply fell into an old groove of received doctrines;
and these he handled under the set purpose of simplifying the
fundamentals of Christianity to the utmost. Such purpose was not the
result of his Bible study, but of his wish to overcome the political
difficulties of the time. He found, by keeping close to the Gospels and
by making proper selections from the Epistles, that the belief in Christ
as the Messiah could be shown to be the central fact of the Christian
faith; that the other main doctrines followed out of this by a process
of reasoning; and that, as all minds might not perform the process
alike, these doctrines could not be essential to the acceptance of
Christianity. He got out of the difficulty of framing a creed, as many
others have done, by simply using Scripture language, without subjecting
it to any very strict definition; certainly without the operation of
stripping the meaning of its words, to see what it amounted to. That his
short and easy method was not very successful, the history of the
Deistical controversy sufficiently proves. The end in view would, in our
time, be sought by an opposite course. Instead of disregarding
commentators, and the successions of creed embodiments, a scholar of the
present day would ascend through these to the original, and find out its
meaning, after making allowance for all the tendencies that operated to
give a bias to that meaning. As to putting us in the position of
listening to the Bible authors at first hand, we should trust more to
the erudition of a Pusey or an Ewald, than to the unassisted judgment of
a Locke.

       *       *       *       *       *

II. "What constitutes the study of a book?" Mere perusal at the average
reading pace is not the way to imbibe the contents of any work of
importance, especially if the subject is new and difficult.

There are various methods in use among authoritative guides. To revert
to the Demosthenic traditions: we find two modes indicated--namely,
repeated copying, and committing to memory _verbatim_. A third is,
making abstracts in writing. A fourth may be designated the Lockian
method. Let us consider the respective merits of the four.


1. Of copying a book literally through, there is this to be said, that
it engages the attention upon every word, until the act of writing
serves to impress the memory. But there are very important
qualifications to be assigned in judging of the worth of the exercise.
Observe what is the main design of the copyist. It is to produce a
_replica_ of an original upon paper. He cannot do this without a certain
amount of attention to the original; enough at least to enable him to
put down the exact words in the copy; and, by such attention, he is so
far impressed with the matter, that a certain portion may remain in the
memory. If, however, instead of the paper, he could write directly on
the brain, he would be aiming straight at his object. Now, experience
shows that the making of a copy of any document is compatible with a
very small amount of attention to the purport. The extreme case is the
copying clerk. He can literally reproduce an original, with entire
forgetfulness of what it is about. If his eye takes a faithful note of
the sequence of words, he may entirely neglect the meaning. In point of
fact, he constantly does so. He remembers nobody's secrets; and he
cannot be counted on to check blunders that make nonsense of his text.
Probably no one could go on copying for eight hours a day unless the
strain of attention to the originals were at a minimum. I conceive,
therefore, that copying habits arising from a certain amount of
experience at the vocation, would be utterly fatal to the employment of
the exercise as a means of study. It may be valuable to such as have
seldom used their pen except in original composition. Very probably, in
school lessons, to write an exercise two or three times may be a help to
the usual routine of saying off the book. I have heard experienced
teachers testify to the good effects of the practice. Yet very little
would turn the attention the wrong way. Even the requirement of neatness
on the part of the master, or the pupil's own liking for it, would abate
the desired impression. The multiplied copying set as punishment might
stamp a thing on the memory through disgust; it might also engender the
mechanical routine of the copyist. In short, to sit down and copy a long
work is about the last thing that I should dream of, as a means of
study. To copy Thucydides eight times, as the tradition respecting
Demosthenes goes, would be about the same as copying Gibbon three times:
and who would undertake that?


2. Committing to memory _verbatim_, or nearly so. This too belongs to
the same tradition regarding Demosthenes, and is probably as inaccurate
as the other. Certainly the eight copyings would not suffice for having
the whole by heart. Excepting a professional rhapsodist, or some one
gifted with extraordinary powers of memory that would hardly be
compatible with a great understanding, nobody would think of committing
Thucydides to memory. That Demosthenes should be a perfect master both
of the narrated facts, and of the sagacious theorisings of Thucydides
in those facts, we may take for granted. And, farther, the orations
delivered by opposing speakers in the great critical debates, might very
well have been committed _verbatim_ by a young orator; many of them are
masterpieces of oratory in every point of view. But the reason for
getting them by heart does not apply to the general narrative. Even to
imbibe the best qualities of the style of Thucydides would not require
whole pages to be learnt _verbatim_; a much better way would readily
occur to any intelligent man.

In fact, there is no case where it is profitable to load the memory with
a whole book, or with large portions of a book. There are many small
portions of every leading work that might be committed with advantage.
Principal propositions ought to be retained to the letter. Passages,
here and there, remarkable for compact force, for argumentative power,
or elegant diction, might be read and re-read till they clung to the
memory; but this should be the consummation of a thorough and critical
estimate of their merits. To commit to memory without thinking of the
meaning is a senseless act; and could not be ascribed to Demosthenes.
At the stage when the young student is forming a style, he is assisted by
laying up _memoriter_ a number of passages of great authors; but it is
never necessary to go beyond select paragraphs. Detached sentences are
valuable, and strain the memory least. Entire paragraphs have a farther
value in impressing good paragraph connection; but, to string a number
of paragraphs together, or to learn whole chapters by memory, has
nothing to recommend it in the way of mental culture.

There is a memory in _extension_ that holds a long string of words and
ideas together. Its value is to get readily at anything occurring in a
certain train, as in a given book. It is the memory of easy reference.
There is also a memory of _intension_, that takes a strong grasp of
brief expressions and thoughts, and brings them out for use, on the
slightest relevancy. The two modes interfere with each other's
development; we cannot be great in both; while, for original force, the
second is worth the most: it extracts and resets gems to tesselate our
future structures; it constitutes depth as against fluency.

To commit poetical passages to memory is a valuable contribution to our
stock of material for emotional resuscitation in after years. It also
aids in adorning our style, even although we may not aspire to compose
in poetry. But the burden of holding the connection of a long poem
should be eschewed. Children can readily learn a short psalm or hymn,
and can retain it in permanence; but to repeat the 119th psalm from the
beginning is the mere _tour-de-force_ of a strong natural memory, and a
waste of power; just as much as committing an entire book of the Aeneid
or of Paradise Lost.

       *       *       *       *       *


3. Making Abstracts.--This is the plan of studying that most advances
our intelligent comprehension of any work of difficulty, and also
impresses it on the memory in the best form. But there are many ways of
doing it; and beginners, from the very fact that they are beginners,
are not competent to choose the best. If a book has an obvious and
methodical plan in itself, the reader can follow that plan, taking down
the leading positions, selecting some of the chief examples or
illustrations, giving short headings of chapters and paragraphs, and
thus making a synopsis, or full table of contents. All this is useful.
The memory is much better impressed through the exertion of picking,
choosing, and condensing, than by copying _verbatim_; and the plan or
evolution of the whole is more fully comprehended. But, if a work does
not easily lend itself to a methodical abstract, the task of the
beginner is much harder. To abstract the treatises of Aristotle was
fitting employment for Hobbes. The "Wealth of Nations" is not easy to
abstract; but, at the present day, it would not be chosen as the
Text-book-in-chief for Political Economy: as a third or fourth work to
be perused at a reading pace, it would have its proper effect. The best
studious exercise upon it would be to mark the agreements and
disagreements with the newer authority, the weak and strong points of
the exposition, and the perennial force of a certain number of the
propositions and examples. Many parts could be skipped entirely as not
even repaying historical study. Yet, as the work of a great and original
mind, its interest is perennial.

To go back once more to the example of Thucydides. Setting aside, from
intrinsic improbability, both the traditions--the copyings, and the
committal to memory _verbatim_,--we can easily see what Demosthenes
could find in the work, and how he could make the most of it. The
narrative or story could be indelibly fixed in his memory by a few
perusals, and, if need be, by a full chronology drawn up by his own
hand. The speeches could be committed in whole or in part, for their
arguments and language; and a minute study could be made of the turns of
expression, as they seemed to be either meritorious or defective. The
young orator had already studied the more finished styles of Isocrates,
Lysias, Isanis, and Plato, and could make comparisons between their
forms and the peculiarities of Thucydides, which belonged to an earlier
age. This, however, was a discipline altogether apart, and had nothing
to do with copying, committing, or abstracting. It involved one exercise
more or less allied to the last, namely, _making changes upon an author,
according to ones best ideal at the time_: changes, if possible, for the
better, but perhaps not; still requiring, however, an effort of mind,
and so far favourable to culture.


Every one's first attempts at abstracting must be very bad. There is no
more opportune occasion for the assistance of a tutor or intelligent
monitor, than to revise an abstract. The weaknesses of a beginner are
apparent at a glance; even better than by a _viva voce_ interrogation.
Useful abstracting comes at a late stage of study, when one or two
subjects have been pretty well mastered. It is then that the pupil can
best overtake more advanced works on the subjects already commenced, or
can enter upon an entirely new department, in the light of previous

Any work that deserves thorough study deserves the labour of making an
abstract; without which, indeed, the study is not thorough. It is quite
possible to read so as to comprehend the drift of a book, and yet forget
it entirely. The point for us to consider is--Are we likely to want any
portion of it afterwards? If we can fix upon the parts most likely to be
useful, we either copy or abstract these, or preserve a reference so as
to turn them up when wanted. In the case of a work, containing a mass of
new and valuable materials, such as we wish to incorporate with our
intellectual structure, we must act the part of the beginner in a new
field, and make an abstract on the most approved plan: that is, by such
changes as shall at once preserve the author's ideas, and intersperse
them with our own. There is an ideal balance of two opposing tendencies:
one to take down the writer too literally, which fails to impress the
meaning; the other to accommodate him too much to our own language and
thinking, in which case, we shall remember more, but it will be
remembering ourselves and not him. He that can hit the just mean between
these extremes is the perfect student.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are easier modes of abstracting, such as serve many useful
purposes, although not sufficient for the mastery of a leading
Text-book, or even of a second or third in a new subject. We may pencil
on the margin, or underscore, all the leading propositions, and the
typical examples. In a well-composed scientific manual, the proceeding
is too obvious to be impressive. Very often, however, the main points
are not given in the most methodical way, but have to be searched out
by carefully scanning each paragraph. This is an exercise that both
instructs and impresses us; it is the kind of change that calls our
faculties into play, and gives us a better hold of an author, without
superseding him.

A Table of Contents carefully examined is favourable to a comprehensive
view of the whole; and, this attained, the details are remembered in the
best possible way, that is, by taking their place in the scheme. Any
other form of recollection is of the desultory kind.

       *       *       *       *       *


4. Let us next glance at Locke's method of reading, which is unique and
original, like the man himself. It is given with much iteration in his
Conduct of the Understanding, but comes in substance to this:--

We are to fix in the mind the author's ideas, stripped of his words; to
distinguish between such ideas as are pertinent to the subject, and such
as are not; to keep the precise question steadily before our minds; to
appreciate the bearing of the arguments; and, finally, to see what the
question bottoms upon, or what are the fundamental verities or
assumptions underneath.

All this is very thorough in its way; but, in the first place, it
applies chiefly to argumentative works, and, in the second place, it is
entirely beyond the powers of ordinary students. Such an examination of
an author as Locke contemplates is not seen many times in a generation.
His own controversies give but indifferent examples of it; several of
Bentham's works and a few of John Mill's polemical articles also give an
idea of thorough handling; but it is not so properly a studious effort,
as the consummated product of a highly logical discipline, and is within
the reach of only a small elect number.

Locke would have been more intelligible, if, instead of telling us to
strip an author's meaning of the words, he had impressed strongly the
necessity of _defining all leading terms_; and of making sure that each
was always used in the same meaning. While, in order to veracious
conclusions, it is necessary that every matter of fact should be truly
given, it is equally necessary that the language should be free from
ambiguity. If an author uses the word "law," at one time as an
enactment: by some authority, and at another time, as a sequence in the
order of nature, he is sure to land us in fallacy and confusion, as
Butler did in explaining the Divine government. The remedy is, not to
perform the operation of separating the meaning entirely from the
language, but to vary the language, so as to substitute terms that have
no ambiguity. "Law" is equivocal; "social enactment," and "order of
nature," are both unequivocal; and when one is chosen, and adhered to,
the confusion is at an end.

The mere art of study is no preparation for such a task. It demands a
very advanced condition of knowledge on the particular subject, as well
as a logical habit of mind, however acquired; and to include it in a
practical essay on the Conduct of the Understanding is to overstep the
limits of the subject.

       *       *       *       *       *

As our present head represents the very pith and marrow of the art of
study, we may dwell a little longer on the process of changing the form
of an author, whether by condensing, expanding, varying the expression,
altering the order, selecting, and rejecting,--or by any other known
device. Worst of all is change for the mere sake of change; it is simply
better than literal copying. But, to rise above it, needs a sense of
FORM already attained. According as this sense is developed, the
exercise of altering or amending is more and more profitable.
Consequently, there should be an express application of the mind to the
attainment of form; and particular works pre-eminent for that quality
should be sought out and read. "Form" is doubtless a wide word, and
comprises both the logical or pervading method of a work, and the
expression or dress throughout. Method by itself can be soonest acquired
because it turns on a small number of points; language is a multifarious
acquirement, and can hardly be forced, although it will come eventually
by due application.


To show what is meant by learning Form, with a view to the more
effectual study of subject-matter, I will take the example of a work on
the Practice of Medicine; in which the idea is to describe Diseases
_seriatim_, with their treatment or cures. At the present day, this
subject possesses method or form: there is a systematic classification
of diseased processes and diseases; also, a regular plan of setting
forth the specific marks of each disease, its diagnosis, and, finally,
its remedies. There are more and less perfect models of the methodical
element; while there are differences among authors in the fulness of the
detailed information. There is, besides, a Logic of Medicine,
representing the absolute form, in a kind of logical synopsis, by which
it is more easily comprehended in the first instance: not to mention the
general body of the Logic of the Inductive Sciences, of which medicine
is one. Now, undoubtedly, the best work to begin with--the
Text-book-in-chief--would be one where Form is in its highest
perfection; the amount of matter being of less consequence. In a subject
of great complication, and vast detail, the student cannot too soon get
possession of the best method or form of arrangement. When a work of
this character is before him, he is to read and re-read it, till the
form becomes strongly apparent; he is to compare one part with another,
to see how the author adheres to his own pervading method; he should, if
possible, make a synopsis of the plan in itself, disentangling it from
the applications, for greater clearness. The scheme of a medical work,
for example, comprises the Classification of Diseases, the parting off
of Diseased Processes---Fever, Inflammation, &c.--from Diseases properly
so called; the modes of defining Disease; the separation of defining
marks, from predications, and so on: all involved in a strict Logic of
Disease. Armed with these logical or methodical preliminaries, the
student next attacks one of the extended treatises on the Practice of
Medicine. He is now prepared to work the process of abstracting to the
utmost advantage, both for clearness of understanding, and for
impressing the memory. As in such a vast subject, no one author is
deemed adequate to a full exposition, and as, moreover, a great portion
of the information occurs, apart from systems, in detached memoirs or
monographs,--the only mode of unifying and holding together the
aggregate, is to reduce all the statements to a common form and order,
by help of the pre-acquired plan. The progress of study may amend the
plan, as well as add to the particular information; but absolute
perfection in the scheme is not so essential as strict adherence to it
through all the details. To work without a plan at all, is not merely to
tax the memory beyond its powers, but probably also to misconceive and
jumble the facts.

       *       *       *       *       *

To enhance the illustration of the two main heads of the Art of Study,
I will so far deviate from the idea of the essay, as to take up a special
branch of education, which, more than any other, has been reduced to
form and rule, I mean the great accomplishment of Oratory, or the Art of
Persuasion. The practical Science of Rhetoric, cultivated both by
ancients and by moderns, has especially occupied itself with directions
for acquiring this great engine of influencing mankind.

It was emphatically averred by the ancient teachers of the Oratorical
art, that it must be grounded on a wide basis of general information.
I do not here discuss the exact scope of this preparatory study, as my
purpose is to narrow the illustration to what is special to the faculty
of persuasion. I must even omit all those points relating to delivery or
elocution, on which so much depends; and also the consideration of how
to attain readiness or fluency in spoken address, except in so far as
that follows from abundant oratorical resources. We thus sink the
difference between spoken oratory, and persuasion through the press.

Even as thus limited, oratory is still too wide for a pointed
illustration: and, so, I propose farther to confine my references to the
department of Political Oratory; coupling with that, however, the
Forensic branch--which has much in common with the other, and has given
birth to some of our most splendid examples of the art of persuasion.

While declining to enter on the wide field of the general education of
the orator, I may not improperly advert to the more immediate
preparation for the political orator, by a familiar acquaintance with
History and Political Philosophy, howsoever obtained. Then, on the other
hand, the course here to be chalked out assumes a considerable
proficiency in language or expression. The special education will
incidentally improve both these accomplishments, but must not be relied
on for creating them, or for causing a marked advance in either. The
effect to be looked for is rather to give them direction for the special


These things premised, the line of proceeding manifestly is to study the
choicest examples of the oratorical art, according to the methods
already laid down, with due adaptation to the peculiarities of the case.

Now, we have not, as in a Science, two or three systematic works, one of
which is to be chosen as a chief, to be followed by a reference more or
less to the others. Our material is a long series of detached orations;
from these we must make a selection at starting, and such selection,
which may comprise ten or twenty or more, will have to be treated with
the intense single-minded devotion that we hitherto limited to a single
work. Repeated perusal, with a process of abstracting to be described
presently, must be bestowed upon the chosen examples, before embarking,
as will be necessary, upon the wide field of miscellaneous oratory.

No doubt, an oratorical education could be grounded in a general and
equal study of the orators at large, taking the ancients either first or
last, according to fancy. Probably the greater number of students have
fallen into this apparently obvious course. Our present contention is,
that it is better to make a thorough study of a proper selection of the
greatest speeches, together with the most persuasive unspoken
compositions. This, however, is not all. We are following the wisdom of
the ancients, in insisting on the farther expedient of proceeding to the
study of the great examples by the aid of an oratorical scheme. At a
very early stage of Oratory in Greece, its methods began to be studied,
and, in the education of the orator, these methods were made to
accompany the study of exemplary speeches.

The principles of Rhetoric at large, and of the Persuasive art in
particular, have been elaborated by successive stages, and are now in a
tolerable state of advancement. The learner will choose the scheme that
is judged best, and will endeavour to master it provisionally, before
entering on the oratorical models; holding it open to amendment from
time to time, as his education goes on. The scheme and the examples
mutually act and re-act: the better the scheme, the more rapidly will
the examples fructify; and the scheme will, in its turn, profit by the
mastery of the details.


One great use of an oratorical analysis, as supplied by the teachers of
Rhetoric, is to part off the different merits of a perfect oration; and
to show which are to be extracted from the various exemplary orators.
One man excels in forcible arguments, another in the lucid array of
facts; one is impressive and impassioned, another is quiet but
circumspect. Now, the benefit of studying on principle, instead of
working at random, is, that we concentrate attention on each one's
strong points, and disregard the rest. But it needs a preparatory
analysis, in order to make the discrimination. All that the uninstructed
reader or hearer of a great oration knows is, that the oration is great:
this may be enough for the persons to be moved; it is insufficient for
an oratorical disciple.

In the hazardous task of pursuing the illustration by naming the
examples of oratory most suitable to commence with, I shall pass over
living men, and choose from the past orators of our own country. Without
discussing minutely the respective merits of individuals, I am safe in
selecting, as in every way suitable for our purpose, Burke, Fox,
Erskine, Canning, Brougham, and Macaulay. Burke's Speeches on America;
Fox on the Westminster Scrutiny; Erskine on Stockdale, and on Hardy,
Tooke, &c.; Canning on the Slave Trade; Brougham, Lyndhurst, and Denman
in the Queen's Trial; Macaulay on the Reform Bill,--would comprise, in a
moderate compass, a considerable range of oratorical excellence. I doubt
if any member of the list would be more suitable for a beginning than
Macaulay's Reform Speeches. These are no mere displays of a brilliant
imagination: they are known to have influenced thousands of minds
otherwise averse to political change. The reader finds in them an
immense repository of historical facts as well as of doctrines; but
facts and doctrines, by themselves, do not make oratory. It is the use
made of these, that gives us the instruction we are now in quest of. In
a first or second reading, however, matter and form equally captivate
the mind. It would be impossible, at that early stage, to make an
abstract such as would separate the oratorical from the non-oratorical
merits. Only when, by help of our scheme, we have made a critical
distinction between the two kinds of excellence, are we able to arrive
at an approach to a pure oratorical lesson; and, for a long time, we
shall fail to make the desired isolation. We have to learn not to expect
too much from any one speech: to pass over in Macaulay, what is more
conspicuously shown, say in Fox, or in Erskine. If our political and
historical education has made some progress, the mere thoughts and facts
do not detain us; their employment for the end of persuasion is what we
have to take account of.


It is impossible here to indicate, except in a very general way, the
successive steps of the operation. The one summary consideration in the
Rhetoric of Oratory, from which flows the entire array of details, is
the regard to the dispositions and state of mind of the audience; the
presenting of topics and considerations that chime in with these
dispositions, and the avoiding of everything that would conflict with
them. To grasp this comprehensive view, and to follow it out in some of
the chief circumstantials of persuasive address--the leading forms of
argument, and the appeals to the more prominent feelings,--would soon
provide a touchstone to a great oration, and lead us to distinguish the
materials of oratory from the use made of them.

Take the circumstance of _negative tact_; by which is meant the careful
avoidance of whatever might grate on the minds of those addressed.
Forensic oratory in general, and the oratory of Parliamentary leaders in
particular, will show this in perfection; and, for a first study of it,
there is probably nothing to surpass the Erskine Speeches above cited.
It could, however, be found in Macaulay; although in a different
proportion to the other merits.

The Macaulay Speeches have the abundance of matter, and the powers of
style, that minister to oratory, although not constituting its
distinctive feature. In these speeches, we may note how he guages the
minds of the men of rank and property, in and out of Parliament, who
constituted the opposition to Reform; how tenderly he deals with their
prejudices and class interests; how he shapes and adduces his arguments
so as to gain those very feelings to the side he advocates; how he
brings his accumulated store of historical illustrations to his aid,
under the guidance of both the positive and the negative tact of the
orator; saying everything to gain, and nothing to alienate the
dispositions that he has carefully measured.

After Erskine and Macaulay have yielded their first contribution to the
oratorical student, he could turn with profit to Burke, who has the
materials of oratory in the same high order as Macaulay, but who in the
employment of them so often miscarries--sometimes partially, at other
times wholly. It then becomes an exercise to distinguish his successes
from his failures; to resolve these into their elementary merits and
defects, according to the oratorical scheme. The close study of one or
two orations is still the preferable course; and the most profitable
transition from the Burke sample is to the selected speech or speeches
of some other orator as Canning or Brougham. All the time, the pupil
must be enlarging and improving his analytic scheme, which is the means
of keeping his mind to the point in hand, amid the distraction of the
orator's gorgeous material.

The subsequent stages of oratorical study are much plainer than the
commencement. A time comes when the pupil will roam freely over the
great field of oratory, modern and ancient, knowing more and more
exactly what to appropriate and what to neglect. He will be quite aware
of the necessity of rivalling the great masters in resources of
knowledge on the one hand, and of style on the other; but he will look
for these elsewhere, as well as in the professed orators.


Moreover, as the persuasive art is exemplified in men that have never
been public speakers, the oratorical pupil will make a selection from
the most influential of this class. He will find, for example, in the
argumentative treatises of Johnson, in the Letters of Junius, in the
writings of Godwin, in Sydney Smith, in Bentham, in Cobbett, in Robert
Hall, in Fonblanque, in J.S. Mill, in Whately, and a host besides, the
exemplification of oratorical merits, together with materials that are
of value. It is understood, however, that the search for materials and
the acquisition of oratorical form, are not made to advantage on the
same lines, and, for this and other reasons, should not go together.

The extreme test of the principle of concentration as against equal
application, is the acquirement of Style, or the extending of our
resources of diction and expression in all its particulars. Being a
matter of endless minute details, we may feel ourselves at a loss to
compass it by the intensive study of a narrow and select example. Still,
with due allowance for the speciality of the case, the principle will
still be found applicable. We should, however, carry along with us, the
maxim exemplified under oratory, of separating in our study, as far as
may be, the style from the matter. We begin by choosing a treatise of
some great master. We may then operate either (1) by simple reading and
re-reading, or (2) by committing portions to memory _verbatim_, or (3),
best of all, by making some changes according to an already acquired
ideal of good composition. This too shows the great importance of
attaining as early as possible some regulating principles of goodness of
style: the action and reaction of these, on the most exemplary authors,
constitute our progress in the art, and, in the quickest way, store the
memory with the resources of good expression.

       *       *       *       *       *


III. The head just now finished includes really by far the greatest
portion of the economy of study. There are various other devices of
importance in their way, but much less liable to error in practice. Of
these, a leading place may be assigned to the best modes of Distributing
the Attention in reading. Such questions as the following present
themselves for consideration to the earnest student. How many distinct
studies can be carried on together? What interval should be allowed in
passing from one to another? How much time should be given to the art of
reading, and how much to subsequent meditating or ruminating on what has
been read? These points are all susceptible of being determined, within
moderate limits of error. As to the first, the remark was made by
Quintilian, that, in youth, we can most easily pass from one study to
another. The reason of this, however, is, that youth does not take very
seriously to any study. When a special study becomes engrossing, the
alternatives must rather be recreative than acquisitive; not much
progress being made in what is slighted, or left over to the exhaustion
caused by attention to the favourite topic. A more precise answer can be
made to the second and third queries, namely, as to an interval for
recall and meditation, after putting down a book, and before turning the
attention into other channels. There is a very clear principle of
economy here. We should save as far as possible the fatigue of the
reading process, or make a given amount of attention to the printed page
yield the greatest impression on the memory. This is done by the
exercise of recalling without the book; an advantage that we do not
possess in listening to a lecture, until the whole is finished, when we
have too much to recall. To hurry from book to book is to gain
stimulation at the cost of acquisition.

I have alluded to the case of an engrossing subject, which starves all
accompanying studies. There are but two ways of obviating the evil, if
it be an evil; which it indeed becomes, when the alternative demands
also are legitimate. The one is peremptorily to limit the time given to
it daily, so as to rescue some portion of the strength for other topics.
The other is to intermit it wholly for a certain period, and let other
subjects have their swing. In advancing life, and when our studious
leisure is only what is left from professional occupation, two different
studies can hardly go on together. The alternative of a single study
needs to be purely recreative.

One other point may be noted under this head. In the application to a
book of importance and difficulty, there are two ways of going to work:
to move on slowly, and master as we go; or to move on quickly to the
end, and begin again. There is most to be said for the first method,
although distinguished men have worked upon the other. The freshness of
the matter is taken off by a single reading; the re-reading is so much
flatter in point of interest. Moreover, there is a great satisfaction in
making our footing sure at each step, as well as in finishing the task
when the first perusal is completed. We cannot well dispense with
re-reading, but it need not extend to the whole; marked passages should
show where the comprehension and mastery are still lagging.

       *       *       *       *       *


IV. Another topic is Desultory Reading. This is the whole of the reading
of the unstudious mass; it is but a part of the reading of the true
student. It may mean, for one thing, jumping from book to book, perhaps
reading no one through, except for pure amusement. It may also include
the reading of periodicals, where no one subject is treated at any
length. As a general rule, such reading does not give us new
foundations, or constitute the point of departure of a fresh department
of knowledge; yet the amount of labour and thought bestowed upon
articles in periodicals, may render them efficacious in adding to a
previous stock of materials, or in correcting imperfect views. The truth
is, that to the studious man, the desultory is not desultory. The only
difference with him is that he has two _attitudes_ that he may
assume--the severe and the easy-going; the one is most associated with
systematic works on leading subjects; the other with short essays,
periodicals, newspapers, and conversation. In this last attitude, which
is reserved for hours of relaxation, he skips matters of difficulty, and
absorbs scattered and interesting particulars without expressly aiming
at the solution of problems or the discussion of abstract principles.
There is no reason why an essay in a periodical, a pamphlet, or a speech
in Parliament, may not take a first place in anyone's education. All the
labour and resource that go to form a work of magnitude may be
concentrated in any one of these. Still, they are presented in the form
that we are accustomed to associate with our desultory work, and our
times of relaxation; and so, they seldom produce in the minds of readers
the effect that they are capable of producing. The thorough student will
not fail to extract materials from one and all of them, but even he will
scarcely choose from such sources the text for the commencement of a new

The desultory is not a bad way of increasing our resources of
expression. Although there be a systematic and a best mode of acquiring
language, there is also an inferior, yet not ineffective mode; namely,
reading copiously whatever authors have at once a good style and a
sustaining interest. Hence, for this purpose, shifting from book to
book, taking up short and light compositions, may be of considerable
value; anything is better than not reading at all, or than reading
compositions inferior in point of style. The desultory man will not be
without a certain flow of language as well as a command of ideas;
notwithstanding which, he will never be confounded with the studious

       *       *       *       *       *

V. A fifth point is the proportion of book-reading to Observation of the
facts at first hand. From want of opportunity, or from disinclination,
many persons have all their information on certain subjects cast in the
bookish mould, and do not fully conceive the particular facts as these
strike the mind in their own character. A reader of History, with no
experience of affairs, is likely to have imperfect bookish notions; just
as a man of affairs, not a reader, is subject to narrowness of another
kind. It was remarked by Sir G. Cornewall Lewis, that the German
historians of the Athenian Democracy write like men that never had any
actual experience of popular assemblies. A lawyer must be equally versed
in principles and in cases as heard in court: this is a type of
knowledge generally. In the Natural History Sciences, observation and
reading go hand in hand from the first. In the science of the Human
Mind, there are general doctrines, contrived to embrace the world of
mental phenomena: the student may have to begin with these, and work
upon them exclusively for a time, but in the end, phenomena must be
independently viewed by him in their naked character, as exhibited
directly in his own mind, and inferentially in the minds of those that
fall under his observation. Book knowledge of Disease has to be coupled
with bed-side knowledge; neither will take the place of the other.

       *       *       *       *       *

VI. I began by limiting the meaning of study to the reading of books,
and have reviewed the various points in the economy of this process. The
other means of attaining, enlarging, deepening our knowledge, namely,
Observation of facts, Conversation, Disputation, Composition, have each
an art of its own--especially Disputation, which has long been reduced
to rule. Observation also admits of specific directions, but, in stating
the necessity of combining observation with book theories and
descriptions, I have assumed the knowledge of how to observe.


Of all the adjuncts of study, none is so familiar, so available, and,
on the whole, so helpful, as Conversation. The authors of Guides to
Students, as Isaac Watts, give elaborate rules for carrying on
conversation, a good many of them being more moral than intellectual;
but an art of conversation would be very difficult to formulate; it
would take quite as long an essay as I have devoted to study, and even
then would not follow half of the windings of the subject. The only
notice of it that my plan requires, is such as I have already bestowed
upon Observation: namely, to point out the advantage of combining a
certain amount of reading with, conversation; a thing that almost
everybody does according to their opportunities. To rehearse what we
have read to some willing and sympathizing listener, is the best way
of impressing the memory and of clearing up difficulties to the
understanding. It brings in the social stimulus, which ranks so high
among human motives. It is a wholesome change of attitude; relieving the
fatigue of book-study, while adding to its fruitfulness. Even beginners
in study are mutually helpful, by exchanging the results of their
several book acquirements; while it is possible to raise conversation to
the rank of a high art, both for intellectual improvement and for mutual
delectation. I cannot say that the ideal is often realized; since two or
more must combine to conversation, and it is not often that the mutual
action and re-action is perfectly adjusted for the highest effect.

The last great adjunct of study is original Composition, which also
would need to be formulated distinct from the theory of book-study.
Viewed in the same way as we have viewed the other collateral exercises,
one can pronounce it too an invaluable adjunct to book-reading, as well
as an end in itself; it is a variation of effort that diverts the mental
strain, and re-acts powerfully upon the extraction of nutriment from
books. Besides the pride of achievement, it evokes the social stimulus
with the highest effect; our compositions being usually intended for
some listeners. But, when to begin the work of original composition, as
distinct from the written exercises upon books, in the way of abstracting,
amending, and the rest; what forms it should assume at the outset, and
by what steps it should gradually ascend to the culminating effects of
the art,--would all admit of expansion and discussion as an altogether
separate theme. Enough to remark here, that a course of book-reading
without attempts at original composition is as faulty an extreme, as to
begin and carry on writing upon a stinted basis of reading. The thorough
student, as concerned in my present essay, carrying on book-study in the
manner I have sketched, will almost infallibly end, at the proper time,
in a self-thinker, and a self-originator. An adequate familiarity with
the great writers of the past both checks presumptuous or hasty efforts
of reproduction, and encourages modest attempts of our own as we feel
ourselves becoming gradually invigorated through the combined influence
of all the various modes of well-directed study.


[Footnote 16: Milton had charge of pupils in 1644, when Locke was

       *       *       *       *       *



Every man has an interest in arriving at truth for himself. However
useful it may be to mislead other people, however sweet to look down
from a height on the erring throng beneath, it is neither useful nor
sweet to be ourselves at sea without a compass. We may not care to walk
by the light we have, but we do not choose to exchange it for darkness.

This reflection is most obvious with reference to the order of Nature.
Our life depends on adapting means to ends; which supposes that we know
cause and effect in the world around us. A long story is cut short by
the adage, "Knowledge is power"; otherwise rendered, "Truth is bliss".

The bearing of truth is free from all doubt when the problem is, how to
gain certain ends--how to be fed, how to get from one place to another,
how to cure disease. A new case is presented by the choice of ends. The
tyrannical French minister, when appealed to by a starving peasantry in
the terms, "We must live," replied, "I do not see the necessity". There
was here no question of true and false, no problem for science to solve.
It was a question of ends, and could not be reargued. The only possible
retort was to ask, "What does your Excellency consider a necessity?" If
the reply were, "That I and my King may rule France and be happy," then
might the starving wretches find some aid from a political scientist who
could show that, in the order of nature, ruler and people must stand or
fall together. So, it is no question of true or false in the order of
nature, whether I shall adopt, as the end of life, my own gratification
purely, the good of others purely, or part of both. In like manner the
Benthamite, who propounds happiness as the general end of human society,
cannot prove this, as Newton could prove that gravity follows the
inverse square of the distance; nor can his position be impugned in the
way that Newton impugned the vortices of Descartes, by showing that they
were at variance with fact.

There is a third case. Assertions are made out of the sphere of the
sensible world, and beyond the reach of verification by the methods of
science. There is a region of the supersensible or supernatural, where
cause and effect may be affirmed and human interests involved, but where
we cannot supply the same evidence or the same confutation as in
sublunary knowledge. That all human beings shall have an existence after
death is matter of truth or falsehood, but the evidence is of a kind
that would not be adduced for proving that a caterpillar becomes a
butterfly or that a seed turns to a plant. The reasoning employed, no
doubt, makes references to facts of the order of nature; but it is
circuitous and analogical, and is admitted merely because better cannot
be had.


The peculiarity of this last class of affirmations is that they give
great room for the indulgence of our likings. So little being fixed with
any precision, we can shape our beliefs to please ourselves. Even as
regards the sensible world, we can sometimes accommodate our views to
what we wish, as when we assume that our favourite foods and stimulants
are wholesome; but such license soon meets with checks in the physical
sphere, while there are no such checks in the realms of the

Now, in all these three departments of opinion, the interest of mankind
lies in obtaining the best views that can possibly be obtained. As
regards the first and third--- the region of true and false, one in the
sensible, the other in the supersensible world--we are clearly
interested in getting the truth. As regards the second--the region of
ends--if there be one class of ends preferable to another, we should
find out that class.

The only doubt that can arise anywhere is, whether in the third case--the
case of the supernatural,--truth is of the same consequence to us. Such
a doubt, however, begs the whole question at issue. If the truth be of
no consequence here, it is because we shall never be landed in any
reality corresponding to what is declared: that the nature of the future
life is purely imaginary and not to be converted into fact; in other
words, that there is no future life; that there is merely a land of
dreams and fiction, which can never be proved true and never proved
false. It would then be a projection of thought from the present life,
and would cease with that life. All that people could claim in the
matter would be the liberty of imagination; and this being so, we are
not to be committed to any one form. In short, we are to picture what we
please in a world that cannot be made out to exist. The point is not, to
be true or false; it is, to be well or ill imagined.

What, then, is to be the criterion of proper or improper imagination? On
what grounds are we to make our preference between the different schemes
of the supersensible world? Is each one of us to be free to imagine for
ourselves, or are we to submit to the dictation of others? These
questions lead up to another. How far are the interests of the present
life concerned in the form given to our conceptions of a future life?

It would seem to be an unanswerable assumption that, in all the three
situations above supposed, we should do the very best that the case
admits of. In the order of nature we should get, as far as possible, the
truth and the whole truth; in the choice of ends for this life we should
embrace the best ends; in the shaping of another life we should be free
to follow out whatever may be the course suitable to the operation.

       *       *       *       *       *


The means for arriving at truth in the order of nature is an active
search according to certain well-known methods. It farther involves the
negative condition of perfect freedom to canvass, to controvert, or to
refute, every received doctrine or opinion. There is no use in going
after new facts, or in rising to new generalities, if we are not to be
allowed to displace errors. This is now conceded, except at the points
of contact of the natural and the supernatural. In spite of the wide
separation of the two worlds--the world of fact and the world of
imagination,--we cannot conceive the second except in terms of the
first; and if the shaping of the supernatural acquires fixity and
consecration, the natural facts made use of in the fabric acquire a
corresponding fixity, even although the rendering is found to be
inaccurate. The prevailing conception of a future life needs a view of
the separate and independent subsistence of the mental powers of man,
very difficult to reconcile with present knowledge.

       *       *       *       *       *

The growth of intolerance is quite explicable, but the explanation is
not necessarily a justification. Although every division of the human
family must have passed through many social phases, and must therefore
have experienced revolutionary shocks, yet the rule of man's existence
has been a rigorous fixity of institutions, with a hatred of change.
Innovations, when not the effect of conquest, would be made under the
pressure of some great crisis, or some tremendous difficulty that could
not otherwise be met. The idea of individuals being allowed, in quiet
times, to propose alterations in government, in religion, in morals, or
even in the common arts of life, was thought of only to be stamped out.
There was a step in advance of the ancient and habitual order of things,
when an innovating citizen was permitted to make his proposal to the
assembled tribe, with a rope about his neck, to be drawn tight if he
failed to convince his audience. This might make men think twice before
advancing new views, but it was not an entire suppression of them.

The first introduction of the great religions of the world would in each
case afford an interesting study of the difficulties of change and of
the modes of surmounting these difficulties. There must always have
concurred at least two things,--general uneasiness or discontent from
some cause or other; and the moral or intellectual ascendency of some
one man, whose views, although original, were yet of a kind to be
finally accepted by the people. These conditions are equally shown in
political changes, and are historically illustrated in many notable
instances. It is enough to cite the Greek legislation of Lycurgus and of

Such changes are the exceptions in human affairs; they occur only at
great intervals. In the ordinary course of societies, the governing
powers not merely adhere to what is established, but forbid under severe
penalties the very suggestion of change. The chronic misery of the race
is compatible with unreasoning acquiescence in a state of things once
established; incipient reformers are at once immolated _pour encourager
les autres_. It is the aim of governments to make themselves
superfluously strong; they take precautions against unfavourable ideas
no less than against open revolt. In this, they are seconded by the
general community, which would make things too hot even for a reforming


It is said by the evolution or historical school of politicians, that
this was all as it should be. The free permission to question the
existing institutions, political and religious, would have been
incompatible with stability. In early society more especially, religion
and morality were a part of civil government; a dissenter in religion
was the same thing as a rebel in politics; the distinction between the
civil and the religious could not yet be drawn.

Without saying whether this was the case or not--for I should not like
to commit myself to the position, "Whatever was, was right" at the
time--I trust we are now far on the way to being agreed that the civil
and the religious are no longer to be identified; that the State, as a
state, is not concerned to uphold any one form of religious belief.
Modern civilized communities are believed capable of existing without
an official religion; the citizens being free to form themselves into
self-governed religious bodies, as various as the prevailing modes of
religious belief. It may be long ere this goal be fully reached; but
even the upholders of the present state religions admit that, supposing
these were not in existence, nobody would now propose to institute them.

       *       *       *       *       *

The foregoing remarks may appear somewhat desultory, as well as too
brief for the extent of the theme. They must be accepted, however, as an
introduction to a more limited topic, which presupposes in some measure
the general principle of toleration by the state of all forms of
religious opinion. Whether with or without established religions,
perfect freedom of dissent is now demanded, and, with some hankering
reservations, pretty generally conceded. Individuals are allowed to
congregate into religious societies, on the most various and opposite

So far good. Yet there remains a difficulty. Long before the age of
toleration, when each state had an established religion, the people in
general formed their habits of religious observance in connection with
the State Church--its doctrines, its ritual, its buildings, and its
sacred places. When disruption took place, the separatists formed
themselves into societies on the original model, merely dropping the
matters of disagreement. Fixity of creed and of ritual was still
enacted; the only remedy for dissatisfaction on either subject was to
swarm afresh, and set up a new variety of doctrine or of ritual, to
which a rigid adherence was still expected as a condition of membership.

By this costly and troublesome process, Churches have been multiplied
according to the changes of view among sections of the community. A
certain energy of conviction has always been necessary to such a result.
Equally great changes of opinion occur among members of the older Church
communities, without inducing them to break with these; so that nominal
membership ceases to be a mark of real adhesion to the articles of

       *       *       *       *       *


These few commonplaces are meant to introduce the enquiry--now a
pressing one--whether, and how far, fixed creeds are desirable or
expedient in religious bodies generally; no difference being made
between state Churches and voluntary Churches. This is the question of
Subscription to Articles by the clergy.

Let us now review the evils attendant on subscription, and next consider
the objections to its removal.

In the first place, the process of restraining discussion by penal tests
is inherently untenable, absurd, and fallacious.

In support of this strong assertion, we have only to repeat, that every
man has an interest in getting at the truth, and consequently in
whatever promotes that end. We live by the truth; error is death. To
stand between a man and the attainment of truth, is to inflict an injury
of incalculable amount. The circumstances wherein the prohibition of
truth is desirable, must be extraordinary and altogether exceptional.
The few may have a self-interest in withholding truth from the many;
neither the few nor the many have an interest in its being withheld from
themselves. Each one of us has the most direct concern in knowing on
what plan this universe is constituted, what are its exact arrangements
and laws. Whether for the present life, or for any other life, we must
steer our course by our knowledge, and that knowledge needs to be true.
Obstruction to the truth recoils upon the obstructors. To flee to the
refuge of lies is not the greatest happiness of anybody.

It has been maintained that there are illusions so beneficial as to be
preferable to truth. Occasionally, in private life, we practise little
deceptions upon individuals when the truth would cause some great
temporary mischief. This case need not be discussed. The important
instance is in reference to religious belief. A benevolent Deity and a
future life are so cheering and consoling, it is said, that they should
be secured against challenge or criticism; they ought not to be weakened
by discussion. This, of course, assumes that these doctrines are unable
to maintain themselves against opponents, that, with all their intrinsic
charm (which nobody can be indifferent to), they would give way under a
free handling. Such a confession is fatal. Men will go on cherishing
pleasing illusions, but not such as need to be _protected_ in order to
exist. According to Plato, the belief in the goodness of the Deity was
of so great importance that it was to be maintained by state
penalties--about the worst way of making the belief efficacious for its
end. What should we think of an Act passed to imprison whoever disputed
the goodness of King Alfred, the Man of Ross, or Howard?

Granting that certain illusions are highly beneficial, it does not
follow that they are to be exempted from criticism. Their effect depends
on the prestige of their truth. That is, they must have reasons on their
side. But a doctrine is not supported by reasons, unless the objections
are stated and answered; not sham objections, but the real difficulties
of an enquiring mind. If the statement of such difficulties is forcibly
suppressed, the rational foundations will sooner or later be sapped.


If illusions are themselves good, freedom of thought will give us the
best. Why should we protect inferior illusions against the discovery of
the superior? The unfettered march of the intellect may improve the
quality of our illusions as illusions, while also strengthening their
foundations. If religion be a good thing, the best religion is the best
thing; and we cannot be sure of having the best, if men are forbidden to
make a search.

Supposing, then, truth is desirable, the means to the end are desirable.
Now one of the means is perfect liberty to call in question every
opinion whatsoever. This is not all that is necessary; it is not even
the principal condition of the discovery of new truth. It is, however,
an indispensable adjunct, a negative condition. While laborious search
for facts, care in comparing them, genius in detecting deep identities,
are the highways to knowledge,--the permission to promulgate new
doctrines and to counter-argue the old is equally essential. Men cannot
be expected to go through the toil of making discoveries at the hazard
of persecution. If a few have done so, it is their glory and everybody
else's shame.

That the torch of truth should be shaken till it shine, is generally
admitted. Still, exceptions are made; otherwise the present argument
would be superfluous. On certain subjects there is a demand for
protection against innovating views. The implication is that, in these
subjects, truth is better arrived at by delegating the search to a few,
and treating their judgment as final. I need not ask where we should
have been, if this mode of arriving at truth had been followed
universally. The monopoly of enquiry claimed for the higher subjects,
if set up in the lower, would be treated as the empire of darkness.

Second. The subscription to articles, and the enforcement of a creed by
penalties, are nugatory for their own purpose; they fail to secure
uniformity of belief.

This is shown in various ways. For instance, to inculcate adhesion to
a set of articles, is merely to ensure that none shall use words that
formally deny one or other of the doctrines prescribed. It does not say,
that the subscriber shall teach the whole round of doctrines, in their
due order and proportion. A preacher may at pleasure omit from his
pulpit discourses any single doctrine; so that, in so far as his
ministrations are concerned, to the hearers such doctrine is
non-existent; without being denied, it is ignored. Against omission,
a prosecution for heresy would not hold. In this way, the clergy have
always had a certain amount of liberty, and have freely used it. In so
doing, they have altered the whole character of the prescribed creed,
without being technically heterodox. Everyone of us has listened to
preachers of this description. Some ignore the Trinity, some the
Atonement; many nowadays, without denying future punishment, never
mention hell to ears polite. If the rigorous exclusion of a leading
doctrine should excite misgivings, a very slight, formal, and passing
admission may be made, while the stress of exhortation is thrown upon
quite different points.


To attain a conviction for heresy, involving deprivation of office, the
forms of justice must be respected. It is only under peculiar
circumstances, that the ecclesiastical authority can be content with
saying, "I do not like thee, Dr. Fell, or Dr. Smith, and I depose thee
accordingly". A regular trial, with proof of specific contradiction of
specific articles, allowing the accused the full benefit of his
explanations, must be the rule in every corporation that respects
justice. In the Church of England, a man cannot be deprived unless he
contradict the articles clearly and consistently; the smallest
incoherence on his part, the slightest vacillation in the rigour of his
denial, is enough to save him. We may easily imagine, therefore, how
widely a clergyman may stray from the fair, ordinary, current rendering
of the doctrines of the Church, without danger. The whole essence of
Christianity may be perverted under a few cunning precautions and by
observing a few verbal formalities.

It has been pointed out, many times over, that the legally imposed
creeds were the creatures of accident and circumstances at the time of
their enactment, and are wholly unsuitable to the conservation of the
more permanent and essential articles of the Christian faith. The amount
of heresy, as against the more truly representative doctrines, that may
pass through their meshes is very great.

This weakness is aggravated by another--the want of any provision for
amending the creed from time to time. If it were desirable to adopt
measures for maintaining uniformity of opinions among the clergy, the
creed should be excised, or added to, according to the needs of every
age. That this is not done, shows that the machinery of tests is
altogether abnormal; it is not within the type of regular legislation.
That any given creed should be regarded as out of keeping, as both
redundant and defective, and yet that the ecclesiastical authority
should shrink from applying a remedy to its most obvious defects, proves
that the system itself is bad. All healthy legislation lends itself to
perpetual improvement; that the enactments of articles of belief cannot
be reconsidered, is a sign of rottenness.

A third objection to tests is, that mere dogmatic uniformity, if it were
more complete than any tests can make it, is at best but a part of the
religious character. It does nothing to secure or promote fervour,
feeling, the emotional element in religion. It is by moral heat, far
more than by its mould of doctrine, that religion influences mankind.
There is no means of censuring preachers for coldness or languid
indifference; or rather, there is another and more legitimate means than
penal prosecutions, namely, expressed dissatisfaction and the preference
of those that excel in the quality. A warm, glowing manner, an unctuous
delivery, commands hearers and conducts to popularity and importance.
The men of cold and unfeeling natures may get into office, but they are
lightly esteemed. They are not had up to a public trial and deposed, but
they are treated, and spoken of, in such a way as to discourage men of
their type from becoming preachers, and to encourage the other sort.
There are many qualifications that go to forming a good preacher; the
holding of the creed of the body is only one. Yet, with the exception of
gross immorality or abandonment of duty, correctness of creed is the
only one that is subjected to the extreme penalty of loss of office; the
others are secured by different means. Is it too much to infer that,
without the extreme penalty, a reasonable conformity to the prevailing
creed might also be secured?


The importance of the element of feeling has been most perceived in
times when the religious current was strongest. At these times, its
expression would not be hemmed in by rigorous formulas. The first
communication of religious doctrines has always partaken of a broad and
free rendering; apparent discrepancies were disregarded. To reduce all
the utterances of the prophets and the apostles to definite forms and
rigid dogmas, was to misconceive the situation. We may well suppose that
the New Testament writers would have refused to subscribe the Athanasian
Creed or the Westminster Confession; not because these were in flat
contradiction to Scripture, but because the way of embodying the
religious verities in these documents would be repugnant to their ideas
of form in such matters. The creed-builders may have been never so
anxious to give exact equivalents of the original authorities; yet their
fine distinctions and subtle logic would have, in all probability, been
ranked by Paul and Peter among the latter-day perversions of the faith.
The very composition of a creed would have been as distasteful to the
first century, as it is incongruous to the nineteenth.

The evil operation of religious tests, and of the accompanying
intolerance of the public mind as shown towards any form of dissent from
the stereotyped orthodoxy, admits of a very wide handling. It is of
course the problem of religious liberty. Some parts of the argument need
to be reproduced here, to help us in replying to the objections against
an unconditional abolition of compulsory creeds.

In conversing, many years ago, with the late Jules Mohl, the great
Oriental scholar, professor of Persian in the College de France, I was
much struck with his account of the nature of his duties as an expounder
of the modern Persian authors. These authors, for example the poet Sadi,
were in creed adherents of the ancient Persian fire-worship,
notwithstanding the Mohammedan conquest of their country. They were, of
course, forbidden to avow that creed directly; and in consequence, they
had recourse to a form of composition by _doubles entendres_, veiling
the ancient creed under Mohammedan forms. Mohl's business, as their
expounder, was to strip off the disguise and show the true bearings of
the writers, under their show of conformity to the established opinions.

This is a typical illustration of what has happened in Europe for more
than two thousand years. The first recorded martyr to free speculation
in philosophy was Anaxagoras in Greece. Muleted in the sum of five
talents, and expelled from Athens, he was considered fortunate in being
allowed to retire to Lampsacus and end his days there. His fate,
however, was soon eclipsed by the execution of Socrates,--an event
whereby the Athenian burghers were enabled to bias the expression of
free opinions from that time to this. The first person to feel the shock
was Plato. That he was affected by it, to the extent of suppressing his
views on the higher questions, we can infer with the greatest


Aristotle was equally cowed. A little before his death, the chief priest
of Eleusis, following the Socratic precedent, entered an indictment
against him for impiety. This indictment was supported by citations of
certain heretical doctrines from his published writings; on which Grote
makes the significant remark, that his paean in honour of his friend
Hermeias would be more offensive to the feelings of an ordinary Athenian
citizen than any philosophical dogma extracted from the _cautious prose
compositions_ of Aristotle. That is to say, the execution of Socrates
was always before his eyes; he had to pare his expressions so as not to
give offence to Athenian orthodoxy. We can never know the full bearings
of such a disturbing force. The editors of Aristotle complain of the
corruptness of his text; a far worse corruptness lies behind. In Greece,
Socrates alone had the courage of his opinions. While his views as to a
future life, for example, are plain and frank, the real opinion of
Aristotle on the question is an insoluble problem. Now, considering the
enormous sway of Aristotle in modern Europe,--how desirable was it that
his real sentiments had reached us unperverted by the Athenian burgher
and the hemlock!

It would be too adventurous to continue the illustration in detail
through the Christian ages. It is well known that the later schoolmen
strove to represent reason as against authority, but wrote under the
curb of the Papal power; hence their aims can only be divined. A modern
instance or two will be still more effective.

It can at last be clearly seen what was the motive of Carlyle's
perplexing style of composition. We now know what his opinions were,
when he began to write, and that to express them then would have been
fatal to his success; yet he was not a man to indulge in rank hypocrisy.
He, accordingly, adopted a studied and ambiguous phraseology, which for
long imposed upon the religious public, who put their own interpretation
upon his mystical utterances, and gave him the benefit of any doubts. In
the "Life of Sterling" he threw off the mask, but still was not taken at
his word. Had there been a perfect tolerance of all opinions he would
have begun as he ended; and his strain of composition, while still
mystical and high-flown, would never have been identified with our
national orthodoxy.

I have grave doubts as to whether we possess Macaulay's real opinions on
religion. His way of dealing with the subject is so like the hedging of
an unbeliever that, without some good assurance to the contrary, I must
include him also among the imitators of Aristotle's "caution". Some
future critic will devote himself, like Professor Mohl, to expounding
his ambiguous utterances.


When Sir Charles Lyell brought out his "Antiquity of Man" he too was
cautious. Knowing the dangers of his footing, he abstained from giving
an estimate of the extension of time required by his evidences of human
remains. Society in London, however, would not put up with that
reticence, and he had to disclose at dinner parties what he had withheld
from the public--namely, that, in his opinion, the duration of man
could not be less than fifty thousand years.

These few instances must suffice to represent a long history of
compelled reticence on the part of the men best qualified to instruct
mankind. The question now is--What has been gained by it? What did the
condemnation of Socrates do for the Athenian public? What did the chief
priest of Eleusis hope to attain by indicting Aristotle? Unless we can
show, as is no doubt attempted, that the set of opinions that happen to
be consecrated at any one time, whether right or wrong, were essential
to the existence of society,--then the attempt to improve upon them was
truly meritorious, instead of being censurable. If the good of society
as a whole is not plainly implicated, there remains only the interest of
the place-holders under the existing system, as opposed to the interest
of the mass of the people, who are, one and all, concerned in knowing
the truth.

Again contracting the discussion to the narrow limits of the title of
the essay, I must urge the special injury done to mankind by
disfranchising the whole clerical class; that is to say, by depriving
their authority of its proper weight in matters of faith. It is an
incontrovertible rule of evidence, that the authority of an interested
party is devoid of worth. Reasons are good in themselves, whoever utters
them; but in trusting to authority, apart from reason, we need a
disinterested authority. This the clergy at present are not, except on
the points left undecided by the articles. If a man has five thousand a
year, conditional on his holding certain views, his holding those views
says nothing in their favour. For a much less bribe, plenty of men can
be 'got to maintain any opinions whatsoever. When to this is added that,
for certain other views, the holders are subjected to loss--it may be
to fine, imprisonment, or death,--the value of men's adhesion to the
favoured creed, as mere authority, is simply _nil_.

Truth, honesty, outspokenness, are not so well established as virtues,
that we can afford to subject them to discouragement. The contrary
course would be more for the general good in every way. When the law is
intolerant in principle, men will be hypocrites from policy. You cannot
train children to speak the truth if, from whatever cause, they have an
interest in deception. A repressive discipline induces a coarse outward
submission, but cannot reach the inward parts: it only engenders hatred,
and substitutes for open revolt an insidious secret retaliation. Those
only that come under the generous nurture of freedom can be counted on
for hearty and willing devotion. If we would reap the higher virtues, we
must sow on the soil of liberty. Encourage a man to say whatever he
thinks, and you make the most of him; for difficult questions, where the
mind needs all its powers, there should be no burdensome 'caution' in
giving out the results.

       *       *       *       *       *


The imposing of subscription has its defenders, and these have to be
fairly met. First, however, let us advert to the reasons why relaxation
is more pressing now than formerly.

It is known that, among dissentients from the leading dogmas of the
prevailing creed of Christendom, are to be included some of the most
authoritative names of the last three centuries; our present formulas
would not have been subscribed by Bacon, Newton, Locke, Kant; unless
from mere pliancy and for the sake of quiet, like Hobbes. If they had
been in clerical orders, and had freely avowed their opinions as we know
them, they would have been liable to deposition. Yet the difficulties
that these men might feel were far less than those that now beset the
profession of our prevailing creeds. The advances of knowledge on all
the subjects that come into contact with the various articles, as
received by the orthodox Churches, may not, indeed, compel the
relinquishment of those articles, but will force the holders to change
front, to re-shape them in different forms. To such necessary
modification, the creeds are a fatal obstacle. On a few points, such as
the Creation in six days, these have been found elastic. The doctrine
that death came by the fall has been explained away as spiritual death.
This process cannot go much further, without too much paltering with
obvious meanings. The recently-proclaimed doctrine of the Antiquity of
Man comes into apparent conflict with man's creation and fall, as set
forth in Genesis, on which are suspended the most vital doctrines of our
creed. A reconciliation may be possible, but not without a very
extensive modification of the scheme of the Atonement. It is not
necessary to press Darwin's doctrine of Evolution; the deficiency of
positive proof for that hypothesis may always be pleaded, as against the
havoc it would make with the more distinctive points of Christian
doctrine. But the existence of man on the earth, at the very lowest
statement, must be carried back twenty thousand years; this is not
hypothesis, but fact. The record of the creation and the fall of man
will probably have to be subjected to a process of allegorising, but
with inevitable loss. Now, whoever refuses a matter of fact counts on
being severely handled; it is a different thing to refuse an allegory.

The modern doctrine named the "struggle for existence" is the old
difficulty, known as "the origin of evil," presented in a new shape. It
is rendered more formidable, as a stumbling-block to the benevolence of
the Author of nature, by making what was considered exceptional the
rule. It gathers up into one comprehensive statement the scattered
occasions of misery, and reveals a system whereby the few thrive at the
expense of the many. The apologist for Divine goodness has thus an
aggravation of his load, and needs to be freed from all unnecessary
trammels in the shaping of his creed.


It has not escaped attention, that the honours paid to the illustrious
Darwin, are an admission that our received Christianity is open to
revision. In consequence of a few conciliatory phrases, Darwin has been
credited with theism; nevertheless he has ridden rough-shod over all
that is characteristic in our established creeds. Can the creeds come
scathless out of the ordeal?

It is passing from the greater to the less, to dwell upon the increasing
difficulties connected with the Inspiration of the Bible. The
Church-of-Englander luckily escapes making shipwreck here; the legal
interpretation of the formularies saves him. Yet to mankind, generally,
it seems necessary that a superior weight should attach to a revealed
book; and the other Churches cling to some form of inspiration,
notwithstanding the growing difficulties attending it. Here too there
must be more freedom given to the men that would extricate the
situation. At all events, the doctrine should be made an open question.
Even Cardinal Newman suggests doubts as to its being an imperative
portion of the creed.

The attacks made on all sides against the Miraculous element in religion
will force on a change of front. When an eminent popular writer and
sincere friend of the Church of England surrenders miracles without the
slightest compunction, it needs not the elaborate argumentation of
"Supernatural Religion" to show that some new treatment of the question
is called for. But may it not be impossible to put the new wine into the
sworn bottles?

Like most great innovations, the proposal to liberate the clergy from
all restraint as to the opinions that they may promulgate, necessarily
encounters opposition. We are, therefore, bound to consider the reasons
on the other side.

These reasons may be quoted in mass. As regards Established Churches in
particular, it is said there is a State compact or understanding with
the clergy that they should teach certain doctrines and no other; that
if tests were abolished, there would be no security against the most
extreme opinions; men eating the bread of a Reformed Church might
inculcate Romanism instead of Protestantism; the pulpits might give
forth Deism or Agnosticism. No sect could hope to maintain its
principles, if the clergy might preach any doctrine that pleased
themselves. More especially would it be monstrous and unjust, to allow
the rich benefices of our highly endowed Church of England to be enjoyed
by men whose hearts are in some quite different form of religion, or no
religion, and who would occupy themselves in drawing men away from the

On certain assumptions, these arguments have great force. Clearly a man
ought not to take pay for doing one thing and do something quite
different. When a body of religionists come together upon certain
tenets, it would be a _reductio ad absurdum_ for any of its ministers to
be occupied in denying and controverting these tenets.

All this supposes, however, that men will not be made to conform by any
means short of prosecution and deprivation; that the suspending of a
severe penalty over men's heads is in itself a harmless device; and that
religious systems are now stereotyped to our satisfaction, so that to
deviate from them is mere wantonness and love of singularity. Such are
the assumptions that we feel called upon to challenge.

The plea that the Church has engaged itself to the State to teach
certain tenets, in return for its emoluments and privileges, has lost
its point in our time. 'L'état, c'est moi.' The Church and the State are
composed of the same persons. Gibbon's famous _mot_ has collapsed. 'The
religions of the Roman world,' he says, 'were all considered by the
people as equally true, by the philosopher as equally false, and by the
magistrate as equally useful' The people are now their own magistrates,
and the true and the useful must contrive to unite upon the same thing.
If the Church feels subscription and fixity of creed a burden, it has
only to turn its members to account in their capacity of citizens of the
State to relieve itself. If it silently ignores the creed, it is still
responsible mainly to itself.


The more serious objection is the possible abuse of the freedom of the
clergy to utter opinions at variance with the prevailing creed. This
position needs a careful scrutiny.

In the first place, the argument: supposes a condition of things that
has now ceased. When creeds were accepted in their literality by the
bodies professing them, when the state of general opinion contained
nothing hostile, and suggested no difficulties,--for any one member of a
body to turn traitor may have well seemed mere perversity, temper, love
of singularity, or anything but a wish to get at truth. The offence
assumed the character of a moral obliquity, and discipline can never be
relaxed for immorality proper.

All the circumstances are now changed. The ministers and members of
religious communities no longer cherish the same set of doctrines with
only immaterial varieties; they no longer accept their articles in the
sense of the original framers. The body at large has contracted the
immoral taint; the whole head is sick; any remaining soundness is not
with the acquiescent mass, but with the out-spoken individuals. In such
a state of things, ordinary rules are inapplicable. There is a sort of
paralysis of authority, an uncertainty whether to punish or to wink at
flagrant heresy. To say in such a case that the relaxation of the creed
is not a thing to be proposed, is to confess, like Livy on the condition
of Rome, that we can endure neither our vices nor their remedies.

Too much has at all times been made of individual divergences from the
established creed. The influence of a solitary preacher smitten with the
love of heretical peculiarity has been grossly overrated. The assumption
is, that his own flock will, as a matter of course, follow their
shepherd; that is to say, the adhesion of individual congregations to
the creed of the Church depends upon its being faithfully reproduced by
their regular minister. Such is not by any means the fact; the creed of
the members of a Church is not at the mercy of any passing influence.
It has been engrained by a plurality of influences; one man did not make
it, and one man cannot unmake it. Moreover, allowance should be made for
the spirit of opposition found in Church members, as well as in other


It may be said that persons ought not to be subjected to the annoyance
of hearing attacks upon their hereditary tenets, in which they expect
to be more and more confirmed by their spiritual teacher. This is of
course, in itself, an evil. We are not to expect ordinary men to
recognise the necessity of listening to the arguments against their
views, in order to hold these all the stronger. If this height were
generally reached, every Church would invite, as a part of its
constituted machinery, a representative of all the heresies afloat; a
certain number of its ministers should be the avowed champions of the
views most opposed to its own--_advocati diaboli_, so to speak. There
would then be nothing irregular in the retention of converts from its
own number to these other doctrines. It would be, however, altogether
improper to found any argument on the supposition of such a state of

It is an incident of every institution made up of a large collection of
officials, that some one or more are always below the standard of
efficiency, whence those that depend on their services must suffer
inconvenience. A great amount of dulness in preaching has always to be
tolerated; so also might an occasional deviation from orthodoxy; the
more so, that the severity of the discipline for heresy has a good deal
to do with the dulness.

If heretical tendencies have shown themselves in a Church communion,
either they are absurd, unmeaning, irrelevant--perhaps a reversion to
some defunct opinion,--or they are the suggestion of new knowledge in
theology, or outside of it. In the first case, they will die a natural
death, unless prosecution gives them importance; in the other case, they
are to be candidly examined, to be met by argument rather than by
deposition. An individual heretic can always be neglected; if he is
enthusiastic and able, he may have a temporary following, especially
when the community has sunk into torpor. If two or three in a hundred
adopt erroneous opinions, it is nothing; if thirty or forty in a hundred
have been led astray, the matter hangs dubious, and discretion is
advisable. When a majority is gained, the fulness of the time has
arrived; the heresy has triumphed.

       *       *       *       *       *

However strong may be the theoretical reasons for the abolition of the
penal sanctions to orthodoxy, they do not dispense with the confirmation
of experience; and I must next refer to the more prominent examples of
Churches constituted on the principle of freedom to the clergy.


The most remarkable and telling instance is that furnished by the
English Presbyterian Church, with its coadjutor in Ireland. The history
of this Church is not unfamiliar to us; the great lawsuit relating to
Lady Hewley's charity gave notoriety to the changes of opinion that had
come over it in the course of a century. But whoever is earnest on the
question as to the expediency of tests should study the history
thoroughly, as being in every way most instructive. The leading facts,
as concerns the present argument, are mainly these:--

First, the great decision at the Salters' Hall conference, on the 10th
of March, 1719, when, by a majority of 73 to 69, it was resolved to
exact no test from the clergy as a condition of their being ordained
ministers of the body. The point more immediately at issue was the
Trinity, on which opinions had been already divided; but the decision
was general. The principle of the right of private judgment admitted of
no exceptions.

Second. Long before this decision, the minds of the ministers had been
ripening to the conviction, that creeds and subscriptions could do no
good, and often did harm, indeed, the terms employed by some of them are
everything that we now desire. For example, Joseph Hunter, on the eve of
the decision, wrote thus: "We have always thought that such human
declarations of faith were far from being eligible on their own account,
since they tend to narrow the foundations of Christianity and to
restrain that latitude of expression in which our great Legislator has
seen fit to deliver His Will to us".

Third. Most remarkable is it to witness the consequences of this great
act of emancipation. A hundred and sixty-five years have elapsed--a
sufficient time for judging of the experiment. The Presbyterian body at
the time were made up partly of Arians, partly of Trinitarians, who held
each other in mutual tolerance; the ministers freely exchanging pulpits.
No bad consequence followed. We do not hear of individual ministers
going to extravagant lengths in either direction. A large body
gravitated, in the course of time, to the modern Unitarian position;
but, considering the start, the stride was not great. In such a century
as the eighteenth, there might well have been greater modifications of
the creeds than actually occurred. Evidently, in the absence of any
compulsory adherence to settled articles, there was an abundant tendency
to conservatism. Commencing with Baxter, Howe, and Calamy, we find, in
the course of the century, such names as Lardner, Price, Priestley,
Belsham, Kippis, James Lindsay, Lant Carpenter--men of liberal and
enlightened views on all political questions, and earnest in their good
works. These men's testimony to what is truth in religion, is of more
value to us than the opinions of the creed-bound clergy. Reason is still
reason, but the weight of authority is with the free enquirers.

Fourth. The history of the Presbyterians answers a question that may be
properly asked of the creed-abolitionist; namely, What bond is left to
hold a religious community together? The bond, in their case, simply was
voluntary adhesion and custom. A religious community may hold together,
like a political party, with only a vague tacit understanding. When a
body is once formed, it has an outward cohesion, which is quite enough
for maintaining it in the absence of explosive materials. The
established Churches could retain their historical continuity under any
modification of the articles. By the present system, they have been
habituated to take their creed as their legal definition; for that they
could substitute their history and framework.

       *       *       *       *       *


Various modes have been suggested for making the transition from the
present system.

One way is, to fall back upon the Bible as a test. This is the same as
no test at all. A man could not call himself a Christian minister, if he
did not accept the Bible in some sense; and it would be obviously
impracticable to frame a libel, and conduct a process for heresy, on an
appeal to the Old and New Testaments at large. The Bible may be the
first source of the Christian faith, but other confluent streams have
entered into its development; and we must accept the consequences of a
fact that we cannot deny. However much religion may have to be broadened
and liberalised, the operation cannot consist in reverting to the
literal phraseology of the Bible.

A second method is, to prune away the portions of the creed that are no
longer tenable. It could not have been intended by the original framers
of the creeds, that they should remain untouched for centuries. With
many Churches, there was a clear understanding that the formulas should
be revised at brief intervals. The non-established Churches show a
disposition to resume this power. The United Presbyterian Church of
Scotland has had the courage to make a beginning; still, relief will not
in this way be given to minorities, and small changes do not correspond
to the demands of new situations.

A more effectual mode is to discourage and suspend prosecutions for
heresy. The practice of heresy-hunting might be allowed to fall into
disuse. Instead of deposing heretics, the orthodox champions should
simply refute them.

In the Church of England, in particular, a change of the law may be
necessary to give the desired relaxation. The judges before whom
heretics are tried are very exacting in the matter of evidence, but they
cannot stop a prosecution made in regular form. The Church of Scotland
has more latitude in this respect, and has already given indications of
entering on the path leading to desuetude.[17]


[Footnote 17: See, at the end, Notes and References on the history and
practice of Subscription and Penal Tests.]

       *       *       *       *       *



That great institution of political liberty, the Deliberative Assembly,
seems to be on the eve of breaking down. I do not speak merely of the
highest assembly in the country, but of the numerous smaller bodies as
well, from many of which a cry of distress may be heard. The one evil in
all is the intolerable length of the debates. Business has increased,
local representative bodies have a larger membership than formerly, and,
notwithstanding the assistance rendered by committees, the meetings are
protracted beyond bounds.

In this difficulty, attention naturally fastens, in the first instance,
on the fact that the larger part of the speaking is entirely useless;
neither informing nor convincing any of the hearers, and yet occupying
the time allotted for the despatch of business. How to eliminate and
suppress this ineffectual oratory would appear to be the point to
consider. But as Inspiration itself did not reveal a mode of separating
in advance the tares from the wheat, so there is not now any patent
process for insuring that, in the debates of corporate bodies, the good
speaking, and only the good speaking, shall be allowed.

Partial solutions of the difficulty are not wanting. The inventors of
corporate government--the Greeks, were necessarily the inventors of the
forms of debate, and they introduced the timing of the speakers. To this
is added, occasionally, the selection of the speakers, a practice that
could be systematically worked, if nothing else would do. Both methods
have their obvious disadvantages. The arbitrary selection of speakers,
even by the most impartial Committee of Selection, would, according to
our present notions, seem to infringe upon a natural right, the right of
each member of a body to deliver an opinion, and give the reasons for
it. It would seem like reviving the censorship of the press, to allow
only a select number to be heard on all occasions.

May not something be done to circumvent this vast problem? May there not
be a greater extension given to maxims and forms of procedure already in

       *       *       *       *       *


First, then, we recognize in various ways the propriety of obviating
hurried and unpremeditated decisions. Giving previous notice of motions
has that end in view; although, perhaps, this is more commonly regarded
simply as a protection to absentees. Advantage is necessarily taken of
the foreknowledge of the business to prepare for the debates. It is a
farther help, that the subject has been already discussed somewhere or
other by a committee of the body, or by the agency of the public press.
Very often an assembly is merely called upon to decide upon the adoption
of a proposal that has been long canvassed out of doors. The task of the
speakers is then easy--we might almost say no speaking should be
required: but this is to anticipate.

In legislation by Parliament, the forms allow repetition of the debates
at least three times in both Houses. This is rather a cumbrous and
costly remedy for the disadvantage, in debate, of having to reply to a
speaker who has just sat down. In principle, no one ought to be called
to answer an argumentative speech on the spur of the moment. The
generality of speakers are utterly unfit for the task, and accordingly
do it ill. A few men, by long training, acquire the power of casting
their thoughts into speaking train, so as to make a good appearance in
extempore reply; yet even these would do still better if they had a
little time. The adjournment of a debate, and the reopening of a
question at successive stages, furnish the real opportunities for
effective reply. In a debate begun and ended at one sitting, the
speaking takes very little of the form of an exhaustive review, by each
speaker, of the speeches that went before.

It is always reckoned a thing of course to take the vote as soon as the
debate is closed. There are some historical occasions when a speech on
one side has been so extraordinarily impressive that an adjournment has
been moved to let the fervour subside; but it is usually not thought
desirable to let a day elapse between the final reply and the division.
This is a matter of necessity in the case of the smaller corporations,
which have to dispose of all current business at one sitting; but when a
body meets for a succession of days, it would seem to be in accordance
with sound principle not to take the vote on the same day as the debate.

       *       *       *       *       *


These few remarks upon one important element of procedure are meant to
clear the way for a somewhat searching examination of the principles
that govern the, entire system of oral debate. It is this practice that
I propose to put upon its trial. The grounds of the practice I take to
be the following:--

1. That each member of a deliberative body shall be provided with a
complete statement of the facts and reasons in favour of a proposed
measure, and also an equally complete account of whatever can be said
against it. And this is a requirement I would concede to the fullest
extent. No decision should be asked upon a question until the reasonings
_pro_ and _con_ are brought fairly within the reach of every one; to
which I would add--in circumstances that give due time for consideration
of the whole case.

2. The second ground is that this ample provision of arguments, for and
against, should be made by oral delivery. Whatever opportunities members
may have previously enjoyed for mastering a question, these are all
discounted when the assembly is called to pronounce its decision. The
proposer of the resolution invariably summarizes, if he is able, all
that is to be said for his proposal; his arguments are enforced and
supplemented by other speakers on his side; while the opposition
endeavours to be equally exhaustive. In short, though one were to come
to the meeting with a mind entirely blank, yet such a one, having
ordinary faculties of judging, would in the end be completely informed,
and prepared for an intelligent vote.

Now, I am fully disposed to acquiesce in this second assumption
likewise, but with a qualification that is of considerable moment, as we
shall see presently.

3. The third and last assumption is as follows:--Not only is the
question in all its bearings supposed to be adequately set forth in the
speeches constituting the debate, but, in point of fact, the mass of the
members, or a very important section or proportion of them, rely upon
this source, make full use of it, and are equipped for their decision by
means of it; so much so, that if it were withdrawn none of the other
methods as at present plied, or as they might be plied, would give the
due preparation for an intelligent vote; whence must ensue a degradation
in the quality of the decisions.

It is this assumption that I am now to challenge, in the greatest
instance of all, as completely belied by the facts. But, indeed, the
case is so notoriously the opposite, that the statement of it will be
unavoidably made up of the stalest commonplaces; and the novelty will
lie wholly in the inference.

The ordinary attendance in the House of Commons could be best described
by a member or a regular official. An outsider can represent it only by
the current reports. My purpose does not require great accuracy; it is
enough, that only a very small fraction of the body makes up the average
audience. If an official were posted to record the fluctuating numbers
at intervals of five minutes, the attendance might be recorded and
presented in a curve like the fluctuations of the barometer; but this
would be misleading as to the proportion of effective listeners--those
that sat out entire debates, or at all events the leading speeches of
the debates, or whose intelligence was mainly fed from the speaking in
each instance. The number of this class is next to impossible to get at;
but it will be allowed on all hands to be very small.

Perhaps, in such an inquiry, most can be made of indirect evidences. If
members are to be qualified for an intelligent decision in chief part by
listening to the speeches, why is not the House made large enough to
accommodate them all at once? It would appear strange, on the
spoken-debate theory of enlightenment, that more than one-third should
be permanently excluded by want of space. One might naturally suppose
that, in this fact, there was a breach of privilege of the most
portentous kind. That it is so rarely alluded to as a grievance, even
although amounting to the exclusion of a large number of the members
from some of the grandest displays of eloquence and the most exciting
State communications, is a proof that attendance in the House is not
looked upon as a high privilege, or as the _sine quâ non_ of political


If it were necessary to listen to the debates in order to know how to
vote, the messages of the whips would take a different form. The members
on each side would be warned of the time of commencement of each debate,
that they might hear the comprehensive statement of the opener, and
remain at least through the chief speech in reply. They might not attend
all through the inferior and desultory speaking, but they would be ready
to pop in when an able debater was on his legs, and they would hear the
leaders wind up at the close. Such, however, is not the theory acted on
by the whips. They are satisfied if they can procure attendance at the
division, and look upon the many hours spent in the debate as an
insignificant accessory, which could be disregarded at pleasure. It
would take the genius of a satirist to treat the whipping-up machinery
as it might well deserve to be treated. We are here concerned with a
graver view of it--namely, to inquire whether the institution of oral
debate may not be transformed and contracted in dimensions, to the great
relief of our legislative machinery.

Of course, no one is ignorant of the fact that the great body of members
of Parliament refrain altogether from weighing individually the opposing
arguments in the several questions, and trust implicitly to their leaders.
This, however, is merely another nail in the coffin of the debating
system. The theory of independent and intelligent consideration, by each
member, of every measure that comes up, is the one most favourable to
the present plan, while, even on that theory, its efficiency breaks down
under a critical handling.

It is time now to turn to what will have come into the mind of every
reader of the last few paragraphs--the reporting of the speeches. Here,
I admit, there is a real and indispensable service to legislation. My
contention is, that in it we possess what is alone valuable; and, if we
could secure this, in its present efficiency, with only a very small
minimum of oral delivery, we should be as well off as we are now. The
apparent self-contradiction of the proposal to report speeches without
speaking, is not hard to resolve.

To come at once, then, to the mode of arriving at the printed debates,
I shall proceed by a succession of steps, each one efficient in itself,
without necessitating a farther. The first and easiest device, and one
that would be felt of advantage in all bodies whatsoever, would be for
the mover of a resolution to give in, along with the terms of his
resolution, his reasons--in fact, what he intends as his speech, to be
printed and distributed to each member previous to the meeting. Two
important ends are at once gained--the time of a speech is saved, and
the members are in possession beforehand of the precise arguments to be
used. The debate is in this way advanced an important step without any
speaking; opponents can prepare for, instead of having to improvise
their reply, and every one is at the outset a good way towards a final


As this single device could be adopted alone, I will try and meet the
objections to it, if I am only fortunate enough to light on any. My
experience of public bodies suggests but very few; and I think the
strongest is the reluctance to take the requisite trouble. Most men
think beforehand what they are to say in introducing a resolution to a
public body, but do not consider it necessary to write down their speech
at full. Then, again, there is a peculiar satisfaction in holding the
attention of a meeting for a certain time, great in proportion to the
success of the effort. But, on the other hand, many persons do write
their speeches, and many are not so much at ease in speaking but that
they would dispense with it willingly. The conclusive answer on the
whole is--the greater good of the commonwealth. Such objections as these
are not of a kind to weigh down the manifest advantages, at all events,
in the case of corporations full of business and pressed for time.

I believe that a debate so introduced would be shortened by more than
the time gained by cutting off the speech of the mover. The greater
preparation of everyone's mind at the commencement would make people
satisfied with a less amount of speaking, and what there was would be
more to the purpose.

We can best understand the effects of such an innovation by referring to
the familiar experience of having to decide on the Report of Committee,
which has been previously circulated among the members. This is usually
the most summary act of a deliberative body; partly owing, no doubt, to
the fact that the concurrence of a certain proportion is already gained;
while the _pros_ and _cons_ have been sifted by a regular conference and
debate. Yet we all feel that we are in a much better position by having
had before us in print, for some time previous, the materials necessary
to a conclusion. At a later stage, I will consider the modes of raising
the quality and status of the introductory speech to something of the
nature of a Committee's Report.[19]

The second step is to impose upon the mover of every amendment the same
obligation to hand in his speech, in writing, along with the terms of
the amendment. Many public bodies do not require notice of amendments.
It would be in all cases a great improvement to insist upon such notice,
and of course a still greater improvement to require the reasons to be
given in also, that they might be circulated as above. The debate is now
two steps in advance without a moment's loss of time to the constituted
meeting; while what remains is likely to be much more rapidly gone

The movers of resolutions and of amendments should, as a matter of
course, have the right of reply; a portion of the oral system that
would, I presume, survive all the advances towards printing direct.

There remains, however, one farther move, in itself as defensible, and
as much fraught with advantage as the two others. The resolution and the
amendments being in the hands of the members of a body, together with
the speeches in support of each, any member might be at liberty to send
in, also for circulation in print, whatever remarks would constitute his
speech in the debate, thereby making a still greater saving of the time
of the body. This would, no doubt, be felt as the greatest innovation of
all, being tantamount to the extinction of oral debate; there being then
nothing left but the replies of the movers. We need not, however, go the
length of compulsion; while a certain number would choose to print at
once, the others could still, if they chose, abide by the old plan of
oral address. One can easily surmise that these last would need to
justify their choice by conspicuous merit; an assembly, having in print
so many speeches already, would not be in a mood to listen to others of
indifferent quality.


Such a wholesale transfer of living speech to the silent perusal of the
printed page, if seriously proposed in any assembly, would lead to a
vehement defence of the power of spoken oratory. We should be told of
the miraculous sway of the human voice, of the way that Whitfield
entranced Hume and emptied Franklin's purse; while, most certainly,
neither of these two would ever have perused one of his printed sermons.
And, if the reply were that Whitfield was not a legislator, we should be
met by the speeches of Wilberforce and Canning and Brougham upon slavery,
where the thrill of the living voice accelerated the conviction of the
audience. In speaking of the Homeric Assembly, Mr. Gladstone remarks, in
answer to Grote's argument to prove it a political nullity, that the
speakers were repeatedly cheered, and that the cheering of an audience
contributes to the decision.

Now, I am not insensible to the power of speech, nor to the
multitudinous waves of human feeling aroused in the encounters of
oratory before a large assembly. Apart from this excitement, it would
often be difficult to get people to go through the drudgery of public
meetings. Any plan that would abolish entirely the dramatic element of
legislation would have small chance of being adopted. It is only when
the painful side of debate comes into predominance, that we willingly
forego some of its pleasures: the intolerable weariness, the close air,
the late nights, must be counted along with the occasional thrills of
delirious excitement. But as far as regards our great legislative
bodies, it will be easy to show that there would still exist, in other
forms, an ample scope for living oratory to make up for the deadness
that would fall upon the chief assembly.

A friend of mine once went to Roebuck to ask his attention to some point
coming up in the House of Commons, and offered him a paper to read.
Roebuck said, "I will not read, but I will hear". This well illustrates
one of the favourable aspects of speech. People with time on their hands
prefer being instructed by the living voice; the exertion is less, and
the enlivening tones of a speaker impart an extraneous interest, to
which we have to add the sympathy of the surrounding multitude. The
early stages of instruction must be conducted _vivâ voce_; it is a late
acquirement to be able to extract information from a printed page. Yet
circumstances arise when the advantage of the printed page predominates.
The more frequent experience in approaching public men is to be told,
that they will not listen but will read. An hour's address can be read
in ten minutes: it is not impossible, therefore, to master a
Parliamentary debate in one-tenth of the time occupied in the delivery.

A passing remark is enough to point out the revolution that would take
place in Parliamentary reporting, and in the diffusion of political
instruction through the press, by the system of printing the speeches
direct. The full importance of this result will be more apparent in a
little. There has been much talk of late about the desirability of a
more perfect system of reporting, with a view to the preservation of the
debates. Yet it may be very much doubted, whether the House of Commons
would ever incur the expense of making up for the defects of newspaper
reporting, by providing short-hand writers to take down every word, with
a view to printing in full.

       *       *       *       *       *



Before completing the survey of possible improvements in deliberative
procedure, I propose to extend the employment of another device already
in use, but scarcely more than a form; I mean the requiring of a
seconder before a proposal can be debated. The signification of this
must be, that in order to obtain the judgment of an assembly on any
proposal, the mover must have the concurrence of one other member; a
most reasonable condition surely. What I would urge farther in the same
direction is that, instead of demanding one person in addition to the
mover, as necessary in all cases, there should be a varying number
according to the number of the assembly. In a copartnery of three or
four, to demand a seconder to a motion would be absurd; in a body of six
or eight it is scarcely admissible. I have known bodies of ten and
twelve, where motions could be discussed without a seconder; but even
with these, there would be a manifest propriety in compelling a member
to convince at least one other person privately before putting the body
to the trouble of a discussion. If, however, we should begin the
practice of seconding with ten, is one seconder enough for twenty,
fifty, a hundred, or six hundred? Ought there not to be a scale of
steady increase in the numbers whose opinions have been gained
beforehand? Let us say three or four for an assembly of five-and-twenty,
six for fifty, ten or fifteen for a hundred, forty for six hundred. It
is permissible, no doubt, to bring before a public body resolutions that
there is no immediate chance of carrying; what is termed "ventilating"
an opinion is a recognized usage, and is not to be prohibited. But when
business multiplies, and time is precious, a certain check should be put
upon the ventilating of views that have as yet not got beyond one or two
individuals; the process of conversion by out-of-door agency should have
made some progress in order to justify an appeal to the body in the
regular course of business. That the House of Commons should ever be
occupied by a debate, where the movers could not command more than four
or five votes, is apparently out of all reason. The power of the
individual is unduly exalted at the expense of the collective body.
There are plenty of other opportunities of gaining adherents to any
proposal that has something to be said for it; and these should be plied
up to the point of securing a certain minimum of concurrence, before the
ear of the House can be commanded. With a body of six hundred and fifty,
the number of previously obtained adherents would not be extravagantly
high, if it were fixed at forty. Yet considering that the current
business, in large assemblies, is carried on by perhaps one-third or
one-fourth of the whole, and that the quorum in the House of Commons is
such as to make it possible for twenty-one votes to carry a decision of
the House, there would be an inconsistency in requiring more than twenty
names to back every bill and every resolution and amendment that churned
to be discussed. Now I can hardly imagine restriction upon the liberty
of individual members more defensible than this. If it were impossible
to find any other access to the minds of individual members than by
speeches in the House, or if all other modes of conversion to new views
were difficult and inefficient in comparison, then we should say that
the time of the House must be taxed for the ventilating process. Nothing
of the kind, however, can be maintained. Moreover, although the House
may be obliged to listen to a speech for a proposal that has merely half
a dozen of known supporters, yet, whenever this is understood to be the
case, scarcely any one will be at the trouble of counter-arguing it, and
the question really makes no way; the mover is looked upon as a bore,
and the House is impatient for the extinguisher of a division. The
securing of twenty names would cost nothing to the Government, or to any
of the parties or sections that make up the House: an individual
standing alone should be made to work privately, until he has secured
his backing of nineteen more names, and the exercise would be most
wholesome as a preparation for convincing a majority of the House.

If I might be allowed to assume such an extension of the device of
seconding motions, I could make a much stronger case for the beneficial
consequences of the operation of printing speeches without delivery.
The House would never be moved by an individual standing alone; every
proposal would be from the first a collective judgment, and the reasons
given in along with it, although composed by one, would be revised and
considered by the supporters collectively. Members would put forth their
strength in one weighty statement to start with; no pains would be
spared to make the argument of the nominal mover exhaustive and
forcible. So with the amendment; there would be more put into the chief
statement, and less left to the succeeding speakers, than at present.
And, although the mover of the resolution and the mover of the amendment
would each have a reply, little would be left to detain the House,
unless when some great interests were at stake.

Of course the preparation of the case in favour of each measure would be
entrusted to the best hands; in Government business, it would be to some
official in the department, or some one engaged by the chief in shaping
the measure itself. The statement so prepared would have the value of a
carefully drawn-up report, and nothing short of this should ever be
submitted to Parliament in the procuring of new enactments. In like
manner, the opponents and critics could employ any one they pleased to
assist them in their compositions, A member's speech need not be in any
sense his own; if he borrows, or uses another hand, it is likely to be
some one wiser than himself, and the public gets the benefit of the

       *       *       *       *       *


I may now go back for a little upon the details of the scheme of direct
printing, with the view of pressing some of its advantages a little
farther, as well as of considering objections. I must remark more
particularly upon the permission, accorded to the members generally, to
send in their speeches to be circulated with the proceedings. This I
regard as not the least essential step in an effective reform of the
debating system. It is the only possible plan of giving free scope to
individuals, without wasting the time of the assembly. There need be no
limit to the printing of speeches; the number may be unnecessarily
great, and the length sometimes excessive, but the abuse may be left to
the corrective of neglect. The only material disadvantage attending the
plan of sending in speeches in writing, without delivery, is that the
speakers would have before them only the statements-in-chief of the
movers of motion and amendment. They could not comment upon one another,
as in the oral debate. Not but this might not: be practicable, by
keeping the question open for a certain length of time, and circulating
every morning the speeches given in the day previously; but the
cumbrousness of such an operation would not have enough to recommend it.
The chief speakers might be expected to present a sufficiently broad
point for criticism; while the greater number are well content, if
allowed to give their own views and arguments without reference to those
of others. And not to mention that, in Parliament, all questions of
principle may be debated several times over, it is rare that any measure
comes up without such an amount of previous discussion out of doors as
fully to bring out the points for attack and defence. Moreover, the oral
debate, as usually conducted, contains little of the reality of
effective rejoinder by each successive speaker to the one preceding.

The combined plan of printing speeches, and of requiring twenty backers
to every proposal, while tolerable perhaps in the introduction of bills,
and in resolutions of great moment, will seem to stand self-condemned
in passing the bills through Committee, clause by clause. That every
amendment, however trivial, should have to go through such a roundabout
course, may well appear ridiculous in the extreme. To this I would say,
in the first place, that the exposing of every clause of every measure
of importance to the criticism of a large assembly, has long been
regarded as the weak point of the Parliamentary system. It is thirty
years since I heard the remark that a Code would never get through the
House of Commons; so many people thinking themselves qualified to cavil
at its details. In Mill's "Representative Government," there is a
suggestion to the effect, that Parliament should be assisted in passing
great measures by consultative commissions, who would have the
preparation of the details; and that the House should not make
alterations in the clauses, but recommit the whole with some expression
of disapproval that would guide the commission in recasting the measure.


It must be self-evident that only a small body can work advantageously
in adjusting the details of a measure, including the verbal expressions.
If this work is set before an assembly of two hundred, it is only by the
reticence of one hundred and ninety that progress can be made.
Amendments to the clauses of a bill may come under two heads: those of
principle, where the force of parties expends itself; and those of
wording or expression, for clearing away ambiguities or misconstruction.
For the one class, all the machinery that I have described is fully
applicable. To mature and present an amendment of principle, there
should be a concurrence of the same number as is needed to move or
oppose a second reading; there should be the same giving in of reasons,
and the same unrestricted speech (in print) of individual members,
culminating in replies by the movers. If this had to be done on all
occasions, there would be much greater concentration of force upon
special points, and the work of Committee would get on faster. As to the
second class of amendments, I do not think that these are suitable for
an open discussion. They should rather be given as suggestions privately
to the promoter of the measure. But, be the matter small or great, I
contend that nothing should bring about a vote in the House of Commons
that has not already acquired a proper minimum of support.

I am very far from presuming to remodel the entire procedure of the
House of Commons. What I have said applies only to the one branch, not
the least important, of the passing of bills. There are other
departments that might, or might not, be subjected to the printing
system, coupled with the twentyfold backing; for example, the very large
subject of Supply, on which there is a vast expenditure of debating. The
demand for twenty names to every amendment would extinguish a very
considerable amount of these discussions.

There is a department of the business of the House that has lately
assumed alarming proportions--the putting of questions to Ministers upon
every conceivable topic. I would here apply, without hesitation, the
printing direct and the plural backing, and sweep away the practice
entirely from the public proceedings of the House. No single member
unsupported should have the power of trotting out a Minister at will. I
do not say that so large a number of backers should be required in this
case, but I would humbly suggest that the concurrence of ten members
should be required even to put a public question. The leader of the
Opposition, in himself a host, would not be encumbered with such a
formality, but everyone else would have to procure ten signatures to an
interrogative: the question would be sent in, and answered; while
question and answer would simply appear in the printed proceedings of
the House, and not occupy a single moment of the legislative time. This
is a provision that would stand to be argued on its own merits,
everything else remaining as it is. The loss would be purely in the
dramatic interest attaching to the deliberations.


The all but total extinction of oral debate by the revolutionary sweep
of two simple devices, would be far from destroying the power of speech
in other ways. The influence exerted by conversation on the small scale,
and by oratory on the great, would still be exercised. While the
conferences in private society, and the addresses at public meetings,
would continue, and perhaps be increased in importance, there would be a
much greater activity of sectional discussion, than at present; in fact,
the sectional deliberations, preparatory to motions in the House, would
become an organized institution. A certain number of rooms would be set
aside for the use of the different sections; and the meetings would rise
into public importance, and have their record in the public press. The
speaking that now protracts the sittings of the House would be
transferred to these; even the highest oratory would not disdain to
shine where the reward of publicity would still be reaped. As no man
would be allowed to engage the attention of the House without a
following, it would be in the sections, in addition to private society
and the press, that new opinions would have to be ventilated, and the
first converts gained.

Among the innovations that are justified by the principle of avoiding at
all points hurried decisions, there is nothing that would appear more
defensible than to give an interval between the close of a debate and
the taking of the vote. I apprehend that the chief and only reason why
this has never been thought of is, that most bodies have to finish a
mass of current business at one sitting. In assemblies that meet day
after day, the votes on all concluded debates could be postponed till
next day; giving a deliberate interval in private that might improve,
and could not: deteriorate, the chances of a good decision. Let us
imagine that, in the House of Commons, for example, the first hour at
each meeting should be occupied with the divisions growing out of the
previous day's debates. The consequences would be enormous, but would
any of them be bad? The hollowness of the oral debate as a means of
persuasion would doubtless receive a blasting exposure; many would come
up to vote, few would remain to listen to speeches. The greater number
of those that cared to know what was said, would rest satisfied with the
reports in the morning papers.

       *       *       *       *       *

We need to take account of the fact that even greater moderation in the
length of speeches would not entirely overcome the real difficulty--the
quantity of business thrown upon our legislative bodies. Doubtless, if
there were less talk upon burning questions there would be more
attention given to unobtrusive matters at present neglected. The mere
quantity of work is too great for an assembly to do well. If this amount
cannot be lessened--and I do not see how it can be--there are still the
six competing vehicles at old Temple Bar. The single legislative rail is
crowded, and the only device equal to the occasion is to remove some of
the traffic to other rails. Let a large part of the speaking be got rid
of, or else be transferred to some different arena.


I regard as unassailable Lord Sherbrooke's position that every
deliberative body must possess the entire control of its own procedure,
even to the point of saying how much speaking it will allow on each
topic. The rough-and-ready method of coughing down a superfluous speaker
is perfectly constitutional, because absolutely necessary. If a more
refined method of curtailing debates could be devised, without bringing
in other evils, it should be welcomed. The forcible shutting of anyone's
mouth will always tend to irritate, and it is impossible by any plan to
prevent a minority from clogging the wheels of business. The freedom of
print seems to me one good safety-valve for incontinent speech-makers;
it allows them an equal privilege with their fellows, and yet does not
waste legislative time.

I remember hearing, some time ago, that our Chancellor of the Exchequer
was induced, on the suggestion of the _Times_, to put into print and
circulate to the House beforehand the figures and tables connected with
his financial statement. I could not help remarking, why might the
Chancellor not circulate, in the same fashion, the whole statement, down
to the point of the declaration of the new taxes? It would save the
House at least an hour and a half, while not a third of that time would
be required to read the printed statement. I believe the first thing
that would occur to anyone hearing this suggestion would be--"so the
Chancellor might, but the same reason would apply to the movers of
bills, and to all other business as well ".

       *       *       *       *       *

Our English Parliamentary system having been matured by centuries of
experience, has become a model for other countries just entering upon
representative government. But the imitation, if too literal, will not
be found to work. Our system supposes a large gentry, staying half the
year in London for pure pleasure, to which we may add the rich men of
business resident there. A sufficient number of these classes can at any
time be got to make up the House of Commons; and, the majority being
composed of such, the ways of the House are regulated accordingly. Daily
constant attendance, when necessary, and readiness to respond to the
whip at short notice, are assumed as costing nothing. But in other
countries, the case is not the same. In the Italian Chamber I found
professors of the University of Turin, who still kept up their
class-work, and made journeys to Rome at intervals of a week or two, on
the emergence of important business. Even the payment of members is not
enough to bring people away from their homes, and break up their
avocations, for several months every year. The forms of procedure, as
familiar to us, do not fit under such circumstances. The system of
printed speeches, with division days at two or three weeks' interval,
might be found serviceable. But, at all events, the entire arrangements
of public deliberation need to be revised on much broader grounds than
we have been accustomed to; and it is in this view, more than with any
hope of bringing about immediate changes, that I have ventured to
propound the foregoing suggestions.

       *       *       *       *       *


Since the foregoing paper was written, opinions have been expressed
favourable to the use of printing as a means of shortening the debates
in the House of Commons. Among the most notable of the authorities that
have declared their views, we may count Lord Derby and Lord Sherbrooke.
Both advocate the printing of the answers by ministers to the daily
string of questions addressed to them. Lord Derby goes a step farther.
He would have everyone introducing a bill to prepare a statement of his
reasons, to be circulated among members at the public expense. Even this
small beginning would be fruitful of important consequences; the
greatest being the inevitable extension of the system.

I am not aware that my suggestion as to requiring a plurality of members
to back every bill and every proposal, has gained any degree of support.
It was urged that, if the power were taken away from single members to
move in any case whatever, the few that are accustomed to find
themselves alone, would form into a group to back each other. I do not
hesitate to say that the supposition is contrary to all experience.
Crotcheteers have this in common with the insane, that they can seldom
agree in any conjoined action. Even in the very large body constituting
our House of Commons, it is not infrequent for motions to be made
without obtaining a seconder. The requirement of even five concurring
members would put an extinguisher upon a number of propositions that
have at present to be entertained.

The last session (1883) has opened the eyes of many to the absurdity of
allowing a single member to block a bill. When it is considered that, in
an assembly of six hundred, there is probably at least one man, like
Fergus O'Conner, verging on insanity, and out of the reach of all the
common motives,--we may well wonder that a deliberative body should so
put itself at the mercy of individuals. Surely the rule, for stopping
bills at half-past twelve, might have been accompanied with the
requirement of a seconder, which would have saved many in the course of
the recent sessions. It is the gross abuse of this power that is forcing
upon reluctant minds the first advance to plural backing, and there is
now a demand for five or six to unite in placing a block against a

It occurred to Mr. Gladstone, during the autumn session of 1882, to take
down the statistics of attendance in the House for several days running.
His figures were detailed to the House, in one of his speeches, and were
exactly what we were prepared for. They completely "pounded and
pulverised" the notion, that listening to the debates is the way that
members have their minds made up for giving their votes.


The recent parliamentary recess has witnessed an unusual development in
the out-of-door discussion of burning questions. In addition to a full
allowance of vacation oratory, and the unremitted current of the
newspaper press, the monthlies have given forth a number of reasoned
articles by cabinet ministers and by men of ministerial rank in the
opposition. The whole tendency of our time is, to supersede
parliamentary discussion by more direct appeals to the mind of the

To stop entirely the oral discussion of business in Parliament would
have some inconveniences; but the want of adequate consideration of such
measures as possessed the smallest interest with any class, would not be
one of them.


[Footnote 18: _Contemporary Review_, November, 1880.]

[Footnote 19: I have often thought that, the practice of circulating,
with a motion, the proposer's reasons, would, on many occasions, be
worthy of being voluntarily adopted.]

       *       *       *       *       *

_Notes and References in connection with Essay VIII., on Subscription._

It may be useful here to supply a few memoranda as to the history and
present practice of Subscription to Articles.

In the _Quarterly Review_, No. 117, the following observations are made
respecting the first imposition of Tests after the English

"Before the Reformation no subscription was required from the body of
the clergy, as none was necessary. The bishops at their consecration
took an oath of obedience to the King, in which, besides promising
subjection in matters temporal, they 'utterly renounced and clearly
forsook all such clauses, words, sentences, and grants, which they had
or should have of the Pope's Holiness, that in any wise were hurtful or
prejudicial to His Highness or His Estate Royal'; whilst to the Pope
they bound themselves by oath to keep the rules of the Holy Fathers, the
decrees, ordinances, sentences, dispositions, reservations, provisions,
and commandments Apostolic, and, to their powers, to cause them to be
kept by others. And, as their command over their clergy was complete,
and they could at once remove any who violated the established rule of
opinion, no additional obligation or engagement from men under such
strict discipline was requisite. The statement, therefore (by Dean
Stanley), that 'the Roman Catholic clergy, and the clergy of the Eastern
Church, neither formerly, nor now, were bound by any definite forms of
subscription; and that the unity of the Church is preserved there as the
unity of the State is preserved everywhere, not by preliminary promises
or oaths, but by the general laws of discipline and order'; though true
to the letter, is really wholly untrue in its application to the
argument concerning subscriptions. For it is to the total absence of
liberty, and to the severity of 'the general laws of discipline and
order,' and not to a liberty greater than our own, that this absence of
subscription is due.

"In point of fact, the requirement of subscription from the clergy was
coeval with the upgrowth of liberty of opinion: while the circumstances
of the English Reformation of religion made it essential to the success
and the safety of that great movement. It was essential to its success;
for as it was accomplished mainly by a numerical minority, both of the
clergy and laity of the land, there could be no other guarantee of its
maintenance than the assurance that its doctrines would be honestly
taught, and its ritual observed by the whole body of the conforming

"Thus the _Reformation subscriptions aimed at the prevention of covert
Popery_, a danger to which the Reforming laity felt that they were
exposed by the strong wishes of a majority of their own class; by the
undissembled bias of many of the parochial clergy; and by the secret
bias of some even of the bi-hops; whilst the diminution of their
absolute control over the clergy lessened the power of enforcing the new
opinions when the bishop was sincerely attached to them."

The entire article is of value both for its historical information as to
the history of Tests in the English Church, and for its mode of
advocating the retention of subscription to the Articles, as at present

       *       *       *       *       *

[Subscription came with the English Reformation.]

The Report of the Royal Commission of 1864, on Subscription in the
English Church, supplied a complete account of all the changes in
subscription from the Reformation downwards. Reference may also be made
to Stoughton's "History of Religion in England," for the incidents in
greater detail.

Perhaps the most remarkable defence of Liberty, as against the
prevailing view in the English Church, is Dean Milman's speech before
the Clerical Subscription Commission, of which he was a member. It is
printed in _Fraser's Magazine_, March, 1865, and is included in the
criticism of the _Quarterly Review_ article, already quoted.

The Dean's Resolution submitted to the Commission was as follows:--

"Conformity to the Liturgy of the Church of England being the best and
the surest attainable security for 'the declared agreement of the Clergy
with the doctrines of the Church'; with many the daily, with all the
weekly public reading of the services of the Church of England
(containing, as they do, the ancient creeds of the Church Catholic), and
the constant use of the Sacramental offices and other formularies in the
Book of Common Prayer, being a solemn and reiterated pledge of their
belief in those doctrines, the Subscription to the thirty-nine Articles
is unnecessary. Such Subscription adds no further guarantee for the
clergyman's faithfulness to the doctrines of the Church; while the
peculiar form and controversial tone in which the Articles were compiled
is the cause of much perplexity, embarrassment, and difficulty,
especially to the younger clergy and to those about to enter into Holy

Much doubt was entertained, whether this motion came within the terms of
the Commission. It was not pressed by the Dean.

I give the following quotation from the speech:--

... "And if I venture to question the expediency, the wisdom, I will say
the righteousness of retaining subscription to the thirty-nine Articles
as obligatory on all clergymen, I do so, not from any difficulty in
reconciling with my own conscience what, during my life, I have done
more than once, but from the deep and deliberate conviction that such
subscription is altogether unnecessary as a safeguard for the essential
doctrines of Christianity, which are more safely and fully protected by
other means. It never has been, is not, and never will be a solid
security for its professed object, the reconciling or removing religious
differences, which it tends rather to create and keep alive; is
embarrassing to many men who might be of the most valuable service in
the ministry of the Church; is objectionable as concentrating and
enforcing the attention of the youngest clergy on questions, some
abstruse, some antiquated, and in themselves at once so minute and
comprehensive as to harass less instructed and profound thinkers, to
perplex and tax the sagacity of the most able lawyers and the most
learned divines....

"One of my chief objections to subscription to the thirty-nine Articles
as a perpetual test of English Churchmanship is that they are throughout
controversial, and speak, as of necessity they must speak, the
controversial language of their day; they cannot, therefore, in my
opinion, be fully, clearly, and distinctly understood without a careful
study and a very wide knowledge of the disputes and opinions of those
times, a calm yet deep examination of their meaning, objects,
limitations, which cannot be expected from young theological students,
from men fresh from their academical pursuits. I venture to add, indeed
to argue, that their true bearing and interpretation seems to me to have
escaped some of our most eminent judges from want of that full study and
perfect knowledge; and I must say that, in these laborious and practical
day, it may be questioned whether this study of controversies, many of
them bygone, will be so useful, so profitable, as entire devotion to the
plainer and simpler duties of the clergyman.

"Their immense range, too, the infinite questions into which they branch
out (it has been said, I know not how truly, that five hundred questions
may be raised upon them), is a further objection to their maintenance as
a preliminary and indispensable requirement before the young man is
admitted to Holy Orders. On the whole I stand, without hesitation, to my
proposition, that the doctrines of the English Church are not only more
simply, but more fully, assuredly, more winningly, taught in our Liturgy
and our Formularies than in our Articles."

       *       *       *       *       *

The very elaborate work of Mr. Taylor Innes, entitled the "Law of
Creeds," is exhaustive for Scotland; including both the Established
Church and the various sects of Protestant Dissenters. It also
incidentally takes notice of some of the more critical decisions on
heresy cases in the English Church. Mr. Innes properly points out, that
the abolition of Subscription is compatible with compulsory adherence to
Articles. The relaxation of the forms of Subscription in the English
Church, by the Act of 1865, gave a certain amount of relief to the
consciences of the clergy, but left them as much exposed as ever to
suits for heresy.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Report of Presbyterian Alliance.]

For the usages of the Reformed Churches, on the Continent, and in
America, a mass of valuable information has been furnished in the Report
of the Second General Council of the Presbyterian Alliance, convened at
Philadelphia, September, 1880. At the previous meeting of the Council,
held at Edinburgh, July, 1877, a Committee was appointed to Report on
the Creeds and Subscriptions in use among the various bodies forming the
Alliance. It is unnecessary to refer to the answers given in to the
Committee's Queries, from Great Britain and Ireland, except to complete
the history of the Presbyterian Church of England, so long distinguished
for the abeyance of clerical subscription.

It was in 1755, that the Presbytery of Newcastle made a movement towards
disclaiming the Arian, Socinian and other heresies, but without
proposing a Confession. In 1784, the same Presbytery adopted a Formula
accepting the Westminster Confession; in 1802, however, subscription to
the Formula was rescinded. Through Scottish influence, the return to the
Westminster Confession was gradually brought about in the early part of
the century. That Confession was formally adopted by the Presbytery of
Newcastle in 1824; and since 1836, all the ministers of the body have
been required to accept it in the most unqualified manner.

The Calvinistic Methodists of Wales drew up, in 1823, a Confession
consisting of forty-four articles, agreeing substantially with the
Westminster Confession. Subscription is not required: but the clergy,
prior to ordination, make a statement of their doctrinal views, which
amounts to nearly the same thing. Like the Roman Catholic Church, the
Methodists depend upon discipline rather than upon Subscription.

The Congregational Churches take up almost the same attitude towards
their clergy. There is no subscription; but any great deviation from the
prevailing views of the body leads to forfeiture of the position of
brotherhood, and possibly also to severance from the charge of a
congregation. Still, the absence of a binding and penal test is
favourable to freedom, from the present tendency of men's minds in that

As regards the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, we
find that the first Presbytery was constituted in 1705. No formal
statement of doctrine was considered necessary till the lapse of about
a quarter of a century, when the spread of Arianism in England urged the
Synod of Philadelphia to pass what was called the "Adopting Act" in
1729, by which they hoped to exclude from American churches British
ministers tainted with Arian views. They agreed that all the ministers
of this Synod, or that shall hereafter be admitted into this Synod,
shall declare their agreement in and approbation of the Confession of
Faith, with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the Assembly of Divines
at Westminster, as being, in all the essential and necessary articles,
good forms of sound words and systems of Christian doctrine, "and we do
also adopt the said confession and the catechisms as the Confession of
our faith ".

The formula subscribed by ministers at their ordination is, however,
less stringent than that in use in the Churches of Scotland.

       *       *       *       *       *

[French Protestant Churches.]

Turning next to the Continent we may refer, first, to the French
Protestant Church, now consisting of two divisions--(1) The Reformed
Church united to the State, and (2) The Union of the Evangelical

The Gallic Confession, styled "La Rochelle," the joint work of Calvin
and Chaudien, was adopted as the doctrinal standard of the Reformed
French Churches in their first national synod, which met at Paris in
May, 1559, and was revised and confirmed by the seventh synod, which
assembled at La Rochelle under the presidency of Theodore Beza in 1571.
It is composed of forty articles, which reproduce faithfully the
Calvinistic doctrine. But it is not accepted as infallible; the final
authority, in the light of which successive synods may reform it, is the

"The reformed doctrine, as sanctioned by the Confession of La Rochelle,
was, in its essential features, recognised and professed by all
Protestant France; and, notwithstanding its sufferings and internal
dissensions, the Church during the first quarter of the 17th century
held its own course and remained faithful to itself. A consistory, that
of Caen, had, even as late as 1840, restored in the churches of its
jurisdiction the Confession of La Rochelle in its full vigour. Little by
little, however, under the influence of the naturalistic philosophy of
the 18th century, the negative criticism of Germany, and above all the
religious indifference which followed the repose which the Church was
enjoying after two centuries of persecution, the Confession of Faith as
well as the discipline fell into disuse. It was never really
abrogated.... However, it is a practical fact that the partisans of one
of the two sections which to-day divide the Reformed Church of France,
not only do not consider themselves bound by the Confession of La
Rochelle, but, tending more and more towards Rationalism, and seeing in
Protestantism only the religion of free thought, have come to reject the
great miracles of the gospel, and to demand for their pastors, in the
bosom of the Church, unlimited freedom in teaching. While on the one
hand the sovereignty of the Holy Scriptures is claimed, on the other is
held the rule of individual conscience."

The majority of the official synod which met at Paris in September,
1848, refused to put an end to the doctrinal disorder in the Church by
establishing in the Church a clear and positive law of faith. The
minority, regarding the adverse vote as an official sufferance of
indifference on doctrinal matters, separated themselves from their
brethren, and founded the "Union of the Evangelical Churches of France".

[General Synod of Paris in 1872.]

In 1872, "in the face of attacks directly aimed, in the bosom of the
Church, at the unity of her doctrine," the thirtieth general synod,
assembled at Paris, drew up, not a complete Confession of Faith, but
a declaration determining the doctrinal limits of the Church, and
proclaiming "the sovereign authority of the Holy Scriptures with regard
to belief, and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, the only
begotten Son of God, who died for our sins and rose again for our

Down to 1824, new pastors indicated their adherence to the Confession of
Faith by signature. In 1824, however, signature was replaced by a solemn
promise. "Since that time different formulas have been used at the will
of the pastors performing the ordination, without any one of them having
the sanction of a synod, and without the manner of adherence having been
expressly stipulated."

"Since the Synod of 1872, in ordinations over which pastors attached to
the Synodal Church have presided, candidates are required to conform
formally, in the presence of the congregation, to the declaration of
faith adopted by the Synod. Article 2, of the complete law, declares:
'Every candidate for holy orders must, before receiving ordination,
affirm that he adheres to the faith of the Church as stated by the
general synod'."

Theological professors were sometimes appointed without conditions.
Still they were not permitted to teach doctrines in glaring
contradiction to the general belief of the Churches. For example, in
1812, M. Gasc, professor of theology at Montauban, attacked in his
lectures the doctrine of the Trinity, whereupon several consistories
required him either to retract his opinions or to resign his post.
M. Gasc retracted his opinions.

"The Evangelical Churches of France, composed of members who have made
an explicit and individual profession of faith, and who recognise in
religious matters no other authority than that of Jesus Christ, the only
and sovereign head of the Church," accept the Old and New Testaments as
directly inspired by God and so constituting the only and infallible
rule of faith and life.

[Churches of Switzerland.]

The Churches of Switzerland have the pre-eminence in the relaxation or
disuse of Tests. The following is a summary of their practice:--

_The Reformed Church of the Canton of Vaud_.

According to the ecclesiastical law of May 19, 1863 (slightly modified
by a decree of December 2, 1874), the _National Church_ of the Canton of
Vaud "desires chiefly that its members should lead a Christian life,"
and "admits no other rule of instruction than the Word of God contained
in the Holy Scriptures". Every candidate for the ministry is required by
the ecclesiastical law of December 14, 1839, to "swear that he will
discharge conscientiously the duties which the National Reformed
Evangelical Church imposes upon its ministers, and that he will preach
the Word of God in its purity and integrity as it is contained in the
Holy Scriptures". "When accusation is brought against any minister on
the ground of doctrine, the proceedings are distinctly marked; but in
reality it is simply required that 'the jurymen give a conscientious

The _Free Evangelical Church_ of the Canton of Vaud requires that
candidates for the ministry be examined as to their religious life,
their calling to the ministry, their doctrine and their ecclesiastical
principles by a committee of the synodical commission, with pastors and
elders. After examination the candidate must "declare his cordial
adhesion to the doctrines and institutions of the Free Church". This
pledge is verbal.

_Independent Evangelical Church of Neuchatel._

The ancient Reformed Church of Neuchatel never put forth any special
Confession of Faith. The assembly of Pastors, the governing body of the
Church, down to 1848, accepted the Holy Scriptures, the forms used in
baptism and the communion, and the Apostles' Creed as fully adequate to
express the faith of the Church. The Synod, who took over the government
of the Church in 1848, maintained the same position, refusing in 1857 to
sanction an abridged Confession.

On May 20, 1873, the Grand Council of the Republic and Canton of
Neuchatel passed a new law regulating the relation of Church and State.
Article 12 says: "Liberty of conscience in matters of religion is
inviolable; it may neither be fettered by regulations, vows, or
promises, by disciplinary penalties, by formulas or a creed, nor by any
measures whatsoever".

Hence resulted the separation of those that formed the Independent
Evangelical Church of Neuchatel, which, in 1874, adopted a Confession
"acknowledging as the only source and rule of its faith the Old and New
Testaments, and proclaiming the great truths of salvation contained in
the Apostles' Creed". The ministers, on ordination, take an oath to
advance the honour and glory of God above all things; to maintain his
word at the risk of life, body, and property; to be in unity with the
brethren in the doctrines of religion and in the holy ministry; and to
avoid all sectarianism and schism in the Church.

_National Protestant Church of Geneva_.

[Historical Changes in the Church of Geneva.]

During the 16th century, from 1536 onwards, the National Protestant
Church of Geneva was in constant turmoil through the insistence on, and
the opposition to, the doctrines laid down by Calvin in his Confession
of Faith and System of Ecclesiastical Ordinances. The 17th century is
marked by the conflicts of Calvinism and Arminianism. After numerous
variations, the oath of consecration was, in June 1725, changed hack to
the form provided by the Ecclesiastical Ordinance of 1576: "You swear to
hold the doctrine of the holy prophets and apostles, as it is contained
in the books of the Old and New Testaments, of which doctrine our
Catechism is a summary ". This oath remained in force for nearly a
century, till 1806. "It was asserted in the discussion (in the Assembly)
that no one should be forced to follow entirely Calvin's Catechism. It
is further expected that the candidates for the ministry should be
requested not to discuss in the pulpit any striking or useless matter
which might tend to disturb the peace. At this time, the Confession of
Faith of the 17th century was abolished to return to that of the 16th
century, interpreting the latter with much freedom. The Lower Council
ratified this decision, but ordered the Assembly to keep the most
absolute silence upon this subject, especially in the presence of
strangers." In 1788, the Assembly adopted a new Catechism, containing
numerous points of divergence from the orthodox Catechism of Calvin,
which it superseded with the sanction of the Lower Council. In 1806, the
new formula of consecration threw out the Catechism; it ran thus--"You
promise to teach divine truth as it is contained in the books of the Old
and New Testaments, of which we have an abridgment in the Apostles'
Creed". In 1810, after long deliberation, there was published a revision
in the latitudinarian and utilitarian sense of the Larger Catechism. In
the same year, the Apostles' Creed was thrown out of the pledge of the
ministers, which now read thus: "You promise ... to preach, in its
purity, the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, to recognise as the only
infallible rule of faith and conduct the word of God, as it is contained
in the sacred books of the Old and New Testaments". Presently, however,
in 1813, a religious revival led to dangerous discussions, and the
ministers were bound "to abstain from all sectarian spirit, to avoid all
that would create any schism and break the union of the Church"--an
addition suppressed towards 1850; and in 1817, they were required to
pledge themselves to abstain from discussing four points in
particular--the manner of the union of the divine and human nature in
the person of Jesus Christ; original sin; the manner in which grace
operates, or saving grace; and predestination; and, if led to utter
their thoughts on any one of these subjects, they were "to do so without
too much positiveness, to avoid expressions foreign to the Holy
Scriptures, and to use, as much as possible, the terms which they
employ". In 1847, the organisation of the Protestant worship was set
forth in a special law, and in 1849, the Consistory called in accordance
with this, adopted an organic rule for the Church. According to Article
74, the functionaries of the Church may be subjected to discipline "in
case of teaching, preaching, or publicly professing any doctrine that
may bring scandal upon the Church". Various modifications followed. In
1874 (April 26), Article 123 was made to declare that "each pastor
teaches and preaches freely on his own responsibility, and no restraint
can be put upon this liberty either by the Confession of Faith or by the
liturgic formulas". In the end of the same year, however (Oct. 3), the
State Council promulgated a new organic law, "in virtue of which a
pastor can either be suspended or dismissed by the Consistory or by the
Council of State for dogmatic motives". In 1875, the pastor obtained the
right to use in his religious teaching any catechetical manual he
preferred, provided he informed the Consistory of his choice. The use of
the _liturgical prayers_, published by the Consistory, became optional.
The pastors were now required merely to declare before God that "they
will teach and preach conscientiously, according to their lights and
faith the Christian truth contained in our holy hooks". The _liturgical
collection_, published by the Consistory in 1875, contains two series of
formulas, expressed in a dogmatic sense on the one hand, and in a
liberal sense on the other. The Apostles' Creed is optional.

_Free Evangelical Church of Geneva_.

The Free Evangelical Church of Geneva demands only a formal adherence to
its Profession of Faith from the elders (including the ministers) and
the deacons. "Some of these officers have even been permitted to hold
certain reserves on such or such article."

_Germanic Switzerland_.

Pastor Bernard of Berne, having enumerated the symbolical writings of
Germanic Switzerland, says: "For centuries the pastors were obliged to
sign them, although it is true that the Second Confession of Helvetic
Faith was alone recognised as the general rule imposed upon pastors.
The signing of the Formula Consensus was exacted only temporarily (being
discarded about 1720). It has been only from the beginning of this
century that, under the influence of rationalism, pastors have been
required to preach the Gospel merely according to the _principles_ of
the Helvetic Confession. To-day we find all confession of faith
abolished in our Germanic Swiss Churches. Pastors preach what pleases
them. Chosen by the parishes, they owe to them solely an avowal of their

       *       *       *       *       *

The Hungarian Reformed Church has a singular history, in respect of
Creeds. The Report of the Council goes very minutely into the detail of
eleven confessions held successively by that church. Of these, there
survive two--the Helvetic Confession and the Catechism of Heidelberg, by
which ministers and office--bearers are still bound.

       *       *       *       *       *

[German Churches.]

Next as to Germany. As the several states have their separate
ecclesiastical usages, the same rule does not apply everywhere. For an
extreme case of absence of toleration, we may refer to the Grand Duchy
of Mecklenburg. Lutheranism is the established religion; and the Duchy
is the stronghold of mediaeval conservatism both in politics and in
religion. The, removal of Baumgarten from the University of Rostock is
an example in point; and the decree is so characteristic, and
illustrative that it deserves to be given at length.

"We have to our sincere regret been given to understand that, in your
writings published in and since the year 1854, you have advanced
doctrines and principles that are in the most important points at
variance with the doctrines and principles of the symbolic books of our
Evangelical-Lutheran Church and of our rules of Church Discipline, to
such an extent as to amount to an attempt to shake to the very
foundation the basis whereon these doctrines and principles and our
church rest. In order to reach more exact certainty on these things, we
have assembled our Consistory to consider this matter, and from them we
have received the annexed opinion, by which the above-mentioned view has
been fully confirmed.

"Whereas, then, it is required by our Church Ordinances of 1552 and 1602
(1650) that the Christian doctrine shall be taught 'pure and unchanged,'
as it is contained in Holy Writ, the general symbols of the Christian
Church, in Dr. Luther's Catechism and Confession, and in the Augsburg
Confession of 1530, and that, if an academical teacher fall away from
these, he shall be proceeded against; whereas, further, in Articles II.
to IV. of the Reversals of 1621, the sovereigns gave the States the
assurance that in the University of Rostock there should be neither
appointed nor tolerated any other teachers but such as should be
attached to the Augsburg Confession and the Lutheran religion: the
establishment of the University of Rostock on the pure doctrine of the
Christian symbols and of the Augsburg Confession has been repeated in
§ 4 of the Regulations upon the relations of the town of Rostock to the
State University of 1827, and once again in § 1 of the Statutes of the
University of 1837; no less do the statutes of the Theological Faculty
of Rostock of 1564, and the later Regulation as to this Faculty of 1791,
bind the members of the Faculty to expound the writings of the Prophets
and the Apostles in the sense laid down in the general Christian
symbols, in the Augsburg Confession, the Smalkald Articles, and the
writings of Dr. Luther; your appointment of 31st August, 1850, referred
you to the Statutes of the University and of the Theological Faculty,
and also directed you to comport yourself in accordance with the rule
and line of the revealed word of God, the unchanged Augsburg Confession,
the _formula concordia_, and all the other symbolic books received in
our (lands) country, as well as with the Mecklenburg Church Ordinances
relating to these, without any innovation; you also on your induction on
the 19th of Oct., 1850, bound yourself by oath to the duties contained
in your appointment and to the Statutes of the University and of the
Theological Faculty."

[Removal of Baumgarten from Rostock.]

"We can the shorter time entrust you with the vocation of an academic
teacher of the Evangelical-Lutheran Theology as you have united with
your backslidings in theological doctrine at the same time political
doctrines of the most delicate kind, deduced relatively from those; and
we will, therefore--after hearing of our High Consistory, and after the
foregoing resolution of our ministry according to § 10, Lit. H. of the
Ordinance of 4th April, 1853, relating to the organisation of the
Ministers--hereby remove you from the office, hitherto filled by you, of
an ordinary Professor of Theology in our State University of Rostock."

       *       *       *       *       *

In Prussia, the Clergy, and especially the University Professors of
Theology, enjoy more liberty than in Mecklenburg; but they are not
wholly secure from the attempts of the Church Courts to enforce
discipline against heretical teaching. The following are recent cases.

1. The St. Jacobi Gemeinde (parish) in Berlin, belonging, as is the rule
in Prussia, to the "Unirte Kirche"--a fusion of the Lutheran and the
Reformed Churches--in 1877, chose, as its pastor, Lic. Horzbach. The
Consistory of Brandenburg, within whose jurisdiction Berlin lies,
refused to admit him on account of his heterodox views. By the
ecclesiastical law, a pastor translated from one consistory to another,
has to be approved of by the one he enters; which gives an opportunity
of exercising a disciplinary power, not beyond what is possessed by the
consistory where he has once been admitted, but more opportunely and
conveniently brought into play. St. Jacobi parish, having apparently a
taste for advanced views, next chose a Dr. Schramm; but he too was
rejected on the same grounds. The third selection fell on Pastor Werner
(Guben); this was confirmed by the Consistory, but was quashed by the
"Oberkirchenrath," or supreme ecclesiastical authority of the country,
located in Berlin. The parish was now considered to have forfeited its
right of election; and a pastor was chosen for it by the Oberkirchenrath.
Happily his views were not too strict for the congregation, and peace
was restored. In all the three instances, the rejection took place on
the complaint of a small orthodox minority in the parish.

2. Rev. Lühr, pastor at Eckenforda, in the Prussian Province of
Schleswig-Holstein, was accused of heresy, and deprived by the
Provincial Consistory of Kiel in December, 1881. Pastor Lühr appealed to
the Berlin Oberkirchenrath, who reversed the sentence, and let him off
with a reproof for the use of incautious language.

There have been two still more notorious heresy hunts: one, the case of
Dr. Sydow in Berlin; the other, Pastor Kalzhoff, who was ultimately
deposed, and is now minister of an independent congregation in Berlin.

Both the central ecclesiastical authority and the provincial
consistories, being nominated by the Government, reflect the religious
tendencies of the Emperor and his Ministers for the time being. At
present, these are probably behind the country at large in point of

       *       *       *       *       *

Next to Switzerland, Holland is most distinguished for advanced views as
to the remission of Tests, and the liberty of the clergy. A very
complete account of the history and present position of the Dutch sects
is given in a pamphlet, entitled "The Ecclesiastical Institutions of
Holland, by Philip H. Wicksteed, M.A. (Williams & Norgate)".

[Subscription in the Dutch Church.]

It is pretty well known that in doctrinal views the majority in the
Dutch Church is Calvinist; while a minority forms the "Modern School,"
a school partaking of the rationalism of our century in matters of faith.
The battle of the Confessions began in 1842, and is not yet finished. In
this year an attempt was made to revive the binding authority of the old
confessions. The General Synod in that and the following years
successfully resisted the movement. In 1854, a new formula of
subscription applicable to candidates for the ministry was introduced,
less stringent and more liberal than the old one. The orthodoxy party
endeavoured to make it more stringent, the liberals proposed to make it
still less so. In 1874, a majority of the General Synod passed the
following declaration:--

"The doctrine contained in the Netherland Confession, the Heidelberg
Catechism, and the Canons of the Synod of Dort, forms the historical
foundation of the Reformed Church of the Netherlands.

"Inasmuch as this doctrine is not confessed with sufficient unanimity by
the community, there can, under the existing circumstances, be no
possibility of 'maintaining the doctrine' in the ecclesiastical sense.
The community, building on the principles of the Church, as manifested
in her origin and development, continues to confess her Christian faith,
and thereby to form the expression which may in course of time once more
become the adequate and unanimous Confession of the Church.

"Meantime, care for the interests of the Christian Church in general and
the Reformed in particular, quickening of Christian religion and
morality, increase of religious knowledge, preservation of order and
unity, and furtherance of love for King and Fatherland--are ever the
main object of all to whom any ecclesiastical office is entrusted, and
no one can be rejected as a member or a teacher who, complying with all
other requirements, declares himself to be convinced in his own
conscience that in compliance with the above-named principles, he may
belong to the Reformed Church of the Netherlands."[21]

This declaration, however, did not pass the Provincial Church Courts,
which possess the right of veto; and the law therefore remained as it
was. But, in 1881, a new proposal for altering the formula of
subscription passed the General Synod. Next year, it was definitely
approved, and is now the law of the church. According to it, licentiates
to the Ministry, on being admitted by the Provincial Church Courts, are
made to promise that they will labour in the Ministry according to their
vocation with zeal and faithfulness; that they will further with all
their power the interests of the kingdom of God, and, so far as
consistent therewith, the interests of the Dutch Reformed Church, and
give obedience to the regulations of that Church.

There is, however, both in orthodox and in semi-orthodox circles, a
wide-spread dissatisfaction with this amount of latitude, and fears are
entertained for its continuance.


[Footnote 20: The debates in this Synod were conducted with the highest
ability on both sides. Guizot took a part on the side of orthodoxy. The
published report will be found abstracted in the _British Quarterly_,
No. CXIV.]

[Footnote 21: Mr. Wicksteed makes the following curious remark:--"I am
often asked whether the 'Moderns' are Unitarians. The question is rather
startling. It is as if one were asked whether the majority of English
astronomers had ceased to uphold the Ptolemaic system yet. The best
answer I can give is a reference to the chapter on 'God' in a popular
work by Dr. Matthes which has run through four editions. In this chapter
there is not a word about the Trinity, but at the close occurs this
footnote: On the antiquated doctrine of the _Trinity_, see the
fourteenth note at the end of the book,--where, accordingly, the
doctrine is expounded and its confusions pointed out rather with the
calm interest of the antiquarian than the eagerness of the

       *       *       *       *       *



A KEY, with additional Exercises.


Revised Edition.



LOGIC, in Two Parts--




_The same, in Two Parts_,





JOHN STUART MILL, a Criticism: with Personal Recollections.

JAMES MILL, a Biography.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Practical Essays" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.