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Title: Matthew Arnold
Author: Russell, George William Erskine, 1853-1919
Language: English
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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 "Matthew Arnold" ***

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[Transcriber's note: The inconsistent use of quotation marks in the
original was retained in this etext.]

[Illustration: Matthew Arnold

_From a Photograph by Sarony_]

Literary Lives






Published, March, 1904



Edited by Robertson Nicoll, LL.D.

CARDINAL NEWMAN. By William Barry, D.D.
MRS. GASKELL. By Flora Masson.
JOHN BUNYAN. By W. Hale White.
CHARLOTTE BRONTË. By Clement K. Shorter.
R.M. HUTTON. By W. Robertson Nicoll.
GOETHE. By Edward Dowden.
HAZLITT. By Louise Imogen Guiney.

Each Volume, Illustrated, $1.00, net





     "We see him wise, just, self-governed, tender, thankful, blameless,
     yet with all this agitated, stretching out his arms for something
     beyond--_tendentemque manus ripæ ulterioris amore_."--_Essays in


It may be thought that some apology is needed for the production of yet
another book about Matthew Arnold. If so, that apology is to be found in
the fact that nothing has yet been written which covers exactly the
ground assigned to me in the present volume.

It was Arnold's express wish that he should not be made the subject of a
Biography. This rendered it impossible to produce the sort of book by
which an eminent man is usually commemorated--at once a history of his
life, an estimate of his work, and an analysis of his character and
opinions. But though a Biography was forbidden, Arnold's family felt
sure that he would not have objected to the publication of a selection
from his correspondence; and it became my happy task to collect, and in
some sense to edit, the two volumes of his Letters which were published
in 1895. Yet in reality my functions were little more than those of the
collector and the annotator. Most of the Letters had been severely
edited before they came into my hands, and the process was repeated when
they were in proof.

A comparison of the letters addressed to Mr. John Morley and Mr. Wyndham
Slade with those addressed to the older members of the Arnold family
will suggest to a careful reader the nature and extent of the excisions
to which the bulk of the correspondence was subjected. The result was a
curious obscuration of some of Arnold's most characteristic
traits--such, for example, as his over-flowing gaiety, and his love of
what our fathers called Raillery. And, in even more important respects
than these, an erroneous impression was created by the suppression of
what was thought too personal for publication. Thus I remember to have
read, in some one's criticism of the Letters, that Mr. Arnold appeared
to have loved his parents, brothers, sisters, and children, but not to
have cared so much for his wife. To any one who knew the beauty of that
life-long honeymoon, the criticism is almost too absurd to write down.
And yet it not unfairly represents the impression created by a too
liberal use of the effacing pencil.

But still, the Letters, with all their editorial shortcomings (of which
I willingly take my full share) constitute the nearest approach to a
narrative of Arnold's life which can, consistently with his wishes, be
given to the world; and the ground so covered will not be retraversed
here. All that literary criticism can do for the honour of his prose and
verse has been done already: conscientiously by Mr. Saintsbury,
affectionately and sympathetically by Mr. Herbert Paul, and with varying
competence and skill by a host of minor critics. But in preparing this
book I have been careful not to re-read what more accomplished pens than
mine have written; for I wished my judgment to be, as far as possible,
unbiassed by previous verdicts.

I do not aim at a criticism of the verbal medium through which a great
Master uttered his heart and mind; but rather at a survey of the effect
which he produced on the thought and action of his age.

To the late Professor Palgrave, to Monsieur Fontanès, and to Miss Rose
Kingsley my thanks have been already paid for the use of some of
Arnold's letters which are published now for the first time. It may be
well to state that whenever, in the ensuing pages, passages are put in
inverted commas, they are quoted from Arnold, unless some other
authorship is indicated. Here and there I have borrowed from previous
writings of my own, grounding myself on the principle so well enounced
by Mr. John Morley--"that a man may once say a thing as he would have it
said, [Greek: dis de ouk endechetai]--he cannot say it twice."






INTRODUCTION                  1


METHOD                       17


EDUCATION                    48


SOCIETY                     111


CONDUCT                     172


THEOLOGY                    210


Matthew Arnold, 1884                  _Frontispiece_

                                         FACING PAGE

Laleham Ferry                                     16

Thomas Arnold, D.D.                               32

Laleham Church                                    48

Fox How, Ambleside                                64

The House at Laleham, where Matthew Arnold first
went to School                                    80

Rugby School                                      96

Balliol College, Oxford                          112

Fisher's Buildings, Balliol College              128

Oriel College, Oxford                            144

Matthew Arnold, 1869                             160

Pains Hill Cottage, Cobham, Surrey               176

The Union Rooms, Oxford                          192

Matthew Arnold, 1880, from the Painting by
G.F. Watts, R.A.                                 208

Pains Hill Cottage, Cobham, from the Lawn        224

Matthew Arnold, 1884                             240

Matthew Arnold's Grave at Laleham                256


_Eldest son of Thomas Arnold, D.D., and Mary Penrose_

Born                                       1822

Entered Winchester College                 1836

Transferred to Rugby School                1837

Scholar of Balliol                         1840

Entered Balliol College                    1841

Newdigate Prizeman                         1843

B.A.                                       1844

Fellow of Oriel                            1845

Private Secretary to Lord Lansdowne        1847

Inspector of Schools                       1851

Married Frances Lucy Wightman              1851

Professor of Poetry at Oxford              1857

D.C.L.                                     1870

Resigned Inspectorship                     1886

Died                                       1888



This book is intended to deal with substance rather than with form. But,
in estimating the work of a teacher who taught exclusively with the pen,
it would be perverse to disregard entirely the qualities of the writing
which so penetrated and coloured the intellectual life of the Victorian
age. Some cursory estimate of Arnold's powers in prose and verse must
therefore be attempted, before we pass on to consider the practical
effect which those powers enabled him to produce.

And here it behoves a loyal and grateful disciple to guard himself
sedulously against the peril of overstatement. For to the unerring
taste, the sane and sober judgment, of the Master, unrestrained and
inappropriate praise would have been peculiarly distressing.

This caution applies with special force to our estimate of his rank in
poetry. That he was a poet, the most exacting, the most paradoxical
criticism will hardly deny; but there is urgent need for moderation and
self-control when we come to consider his place among the poets. Are we
to call him a great poet? The answer must be carefully pondered.

In the first place, he did not write very much. The total body of his
poetry is small. He wrote in the rare leisure-hours of an exacting
profession, and he wrote only in the early part of his life. In later
years he seemed to feel that the "ancient fount of inspiration"[1] was
dry. He had delivered his message to his generation, and wisely avoided
last words. Then it seems indisputable that he wrote with difficulty.
His poetry has little ease, fluency, or spontaneous movement. In every
line it bears traces of the laborious file. He had the poet's heart and
mind, but they did not readily express themselves in the poetic medium.
He longed for poetic utterance, as his only adequate vent, and sought it
earnestly with tears. Often he achieved it, but not seldom he left the
impression of frustrated and disappointing effort, rather than of easy
mastery and sure attainment.

Again, if we bear in mind Milton's threefold canon, we must admit that
his poetry lacks three great elements of power. He is not Simple,
Sensuous, or Passionate. He is too essentially modern to be really
simple. He is the product of a high-strung civilization, and all its
complicated crosscurrents of thought and feeling stir and perplex his
verse. Simplicity of style indeed he constantly aims at, and, by the aid
of a fastidious culture, secures. But his simplicity is, to use the
distinction which he himself imported from France, rather akin to
_simplesse_ than to _simplicité_--to the elaborated and artificial
semblance than to the genuine quality. He is not sensuous except in so
far as the most refined and delicate appreciation of nature in all her
forms and phases can be said to constitute a sensuous enjoyment. And
then, again, he is pre-eminently not passionate. He is calm, balanced,
self-controlled, sane, austere. The very qualities which are his
characteristic glory make passion impossible.

Another hindrance to his title as a great poet, is that he is not, and
never could be, a poet of the multitude. His verse lacks all popular
fibre. It is the delight of scholars, of philosophers, of men who live
by silent introspection or quiet communing with nature. But it is
altogether remote from the stir and stress of popular life and struggle.
Then, again, his tone is profoundly, though not morbidly, melancholy,
and this is fatal to popularity. As he himself said, "The life of the
people is such that in literature they require joy." But not only his
thought, his very style, is anti-popular. Much of his most elaborate
work is in blank verse, and that in itself is a heavy draw-back. Much
also is in exotic and unaccustomed metres, which to the great bulk of
English readers must always be more of a discipline than of a delight.
And, even when he wrote in our indigenous metres, his ear often played
him false. His rhymes are sometimes only true to the eye, and his lines
are over-crowded with jerking monosyllables. Let one glaring instance

    Calm not life's crown, though calm is well.

The sentiment is true and even profound; but the expression is surely
rugged and jolting to the last degree; and there are many lines nearly
as ineuphonious. Here are some samples, collected by that fastidious
critic, Mr. Frederic Harrison--

    "The sandy spits, the shore-lock'd lakes."

    "Could'st thou no better keep, O Abbey old?"

    "The strange-scrawl'd rocks, the lonely sky."

These Mr. Harrison cites as proof that, "where Nature has withheld the
ear for music, no labour and no art can supply the want." And I think
that even a lover may add to the collection--

    As the punt's rope chops round.

But, after all these deductions and qualifications have been made, it
remains true that Arnold was a poet, and that his poetic quality was
pure and rare. His musings "on Man, on Nature, and on Human Life,"[2]
are essentially and profoundly poetical. They have indeed a tragic
inspiration. He is deeply imbued by the sense that human existence, at
its best, is inadequate and disappointing. He feels, and submits to, its
incompleteness and its limitations. With stately resignation he accepts
the common fate, and turns a glance of calm disdain on all endeavours
after a spurious consolation. All round him he sees

    Uno'erleap'd Mountains of Necessity,
    Sparing us narrower margin than we deem.

He dismissed with a rather excessive contempt the idea that the dreams
of childhood may be intimations of immortality; and the inspiration
which poets of all ages have agreed to seek in the hope of endless
renovation, he found in the immediate contemplation of present good.
What his brother-poet called "self-reverence, self-knowledge,
self-control," are the keynotes of that portion of his poetry which
deals with the problems of human existence. When he handles these
themes, he speaks to the innermost consciousness of his hearers, telling
us what we know about ourselves, and have believed hidden from all
others, or else putting into words of perfect suitableness what we have
dimly felt, and have striven in vain to utter. It is then that, to use
his own word, he is most "interpretative." It is this quality which
makes such poems as _Youth's Agitations_, _Youth and Calm_,
_Self-dependence_, and _The Grande Chartreuse_ so precious a part of our
intellectual heritage.

In 1873 he wrote to his sister: "I have a curious letter from the State
of Maine in America, from a young man who wished to tell me that a
friend of his, lately dead, had been especially fond of my poem, _A
Wish_, and often had it read to him in his last illness. They were both
of a class too poor to buy books, and had met with the poem in a

It will be remembered that in _A Wish_, the poet, contemptuously
discarding the conventional consolations of a death-bed, entreats his
friends to place him at the open window, that he may see yet once

    Bathed in the sacred dews of morn
    The wide aerial landscape spread--
    The world which was ere I was born,
    The world which lasts when I am dead;

    Which never was the friend of _one_,
    Nor promised love it could not give.
    But lit for all its generous sun,
    And lived itself, and made us live.

    There let me gaze, till I become
    In soul, with what I gaze on, wed!
    To feel the universe my home;
    To have before my mind--instead

    Of the sick room, the mortal strife,
    The turmoil for a little breath--
    The pure eternal course of life,
    Not human combatings with death!

    Thus feeling, gazing, might I grow
    Composed, refresh'd, ennobled, clear;
    Then willing let my spirit go
    To work or wait elsewhere or here!

This solemn love and reverence for the continuous life of the physical
universe may remind us that Arnold's teaching about humanity, subtle and
searching as it is, has done less to endear him to many of his
disciples, than his feeling for Nature. His is the kind of
Nature-worship which takes nothing at second-hand. He paid "the Mighty
Mother" the only homage which is worthy of her acceptance, a minute and
dutiful study of her moods and methods. He placed himself as a reverent
learner at her feet before he presumed to go forth to the world as an
exponent of her teaching. It is this exactness of observation which
makes his touches of local colouring so vivid and so true. This gives
its winning charm to his landscape-painting, whether the scene is laid
in Kensington Gardens, or the Alps, or the valley of the Thames. This
fills _The Scholar-Gipsy_, and _Thyrsis_, and _Obermann_, and _The
Forsaken Merman_ with flawless gems of natural description, and
felicities of phrase which haunt the grateful memory.

In brief, it seems to me that he was not a great poet, for he lacked the
gifts which sway the multitude, and compel the attention of mankind. But
he was a true poet, rich in those qualities which make the loved and
trusted teacher of a chosen few--as he himself would have said, of "the
Remnant." Often in point of beauty and effectiveness, always in his
purity and elevation, he is worthy to be associated with the noblest
names of all. Alone among his contemporaries, we can venture to say of
him that he was not only of the school, but of the lineage, of
Wordsworth. His own judgment on his place among the modern poets was
thus given in a letter of 1869: "My poems represent, on the whole, the
main movement of mind of the last quarter of a century, and thus they
will probably have their day as people become conscious to themselves of
what that movement of mind is, and interested in the literary
productions which reflect it. It might be fairly urged that I have less
poetic sentiment than Tennyson, and less intellectual vigour and
abundance than Browning. Yet because I have more perhaps of a fusion of
the two than either of them, and have more regularly applied that fusion
to the main line of modern development, I am likely enough to have my
turn, as they have had theirs."

When we come to consider him as a prose-writer, cautions and
qualifications are much less necessary. Whatever may be thought of the
substance of his writings, it surely must be admitted that he was a
great master of style. And his style was altogether his own. In the last
year of his life he said to the present writer: "People think I can
teach them style. What stuff it all is! Have something to say, and say
it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style."

Clearness is indeed his own most conspicuous note, and to clearness he
added singular grace, great skill in phrase-making, great aptitude for
beautiful description, perfect naturalness, absolute ease. The very
faults which the lovers of a more pompous rhetoric profess to detect in
his writing are the easy-going fashions of a man who wrote as he talked.
The members of a college which produced Cardinal Newman, Dean Church,
and Matthew Arnold are not without some justification when they boast of
"the Oriel style."

But style, though a great delight and a great power, is not everything,
and we must not found our claim for him as a prose-writer on style
alone. His style was the worthy and the suitable vehicle of much of the
very best criticism which English literature contains. We take the whole
mass of his critical writing, from the _Lectures on Homer_ and the
_Essays in Criticism_ down to the Preface to Wordsworth and the
Discourse on Milton; and we ask, Is there anything better?

When he wrote as a critic of books, his taste, his temper, his judgment
were pretty nearly infallible. He combined a loyal and reasonable
submission to literary authority with a free and even daring use of
private judgment. His admiration for the acknowledged masters of human
utterance--Homer, Sophocles, Shakespeare, Milton, Goethe--was genuine
and enthusiastic, and incomparably better informed than that of some
more conventional critics. Yet this cordial submission to recognized
authority, this honest loyalty to established reputation, did not blind
him to defects, did not seduce him into indiscriminate praise, did not
deter him from exposing the tendency to verbiage in Burke and Jeremy
Taylor, the excessive blankness of much of Wordsworth's blank verse, the
undercurrent of mediocrity in Macaulay, the absurdities of Ruskin's
etymology. And, as in great matters, so in small. Whatever literary
production was brought under his notice, his judgment was clear,
sympathetic, and independent. He had the readiest appreciation of true
excellence, a quick eye for minor merits of facility and method, a
severe intolerance of turgidity and inflation--of what he called
"desperate endeavours to render a platitude endurable by making it
pompous," and a lively horror of affectation and unreality. These, in
literature as in life, were in his eyes the unpardonable sins.

On the whole it may be said that, as a critic of books, he had in his
lifetime the reputation, the vogue, which he deserved. But his criticism
in other fields has hardly been appreciated at its proper value.
Certainly his politics were rather fantastic. They were influenced by
his father's fiery but limited Liberalism, by the abstract speculation
which flourishes perennially at Oxford, and by the cultivated Whiggery
which he imbibed as Lord Lansdowne's Private Secretary; and the result
often seemed wayward and whimsical. Of this he was himself in some
degree aware. At any rate he knew perfectly that his politics were
lightly esteemed by politicians, and, half jokingly, half seriously, he
used to account for the fact by that jealousy of an outsider's
interference, which is natural to all professional men. Yet he had the
keenest interest, not only in the deeper problems of politics, but also
in the routine and mechanism of the business. He enjoyed a good debate,
liked political society, and was interested in the personalities, the
trivialities, the individual and domestic ins-and-outs, which make so
large a part of political conversation.

But, after all, Politics, in the technical sense, did not afford a
suitable field for his peculiar gifts. It was when he came to the
criticism of national life that the hand of the master was felt. In all
questions affecting national character and tendency, the development of
civilization, public manners, morals, habits, idiosyncrasies, the
influence of institutions, of education, of literature, his insight was
penetrating, his point of view perfectly original, and his judgment, if
not always sound, invariably suggestive. These qualities, among others,
gave to such books as _Essays in Criticism_, _Friendship's Garland_, and
_Culture and Anarchy_, an interest and a value quite independent of
their literary merit. And they are displayed in their most serious and
deliberate form, dissociated from all mere fun and vivacity, in his
_Discourses in America_. This, he told the present writer, was the book
by which, of all his prose-writings, he most desired to be remembered.
It was a curious and memorable choice.

Another point of great importance in his prosewriting is this; if he
had never written prose the world would never have known him as a
humorist. And that would have been an intellectual loss not easily
estimated. How pure, how delicate, yet how natural and spontaneous his
humour was, his friends and associates knew well; and--what is by no
means always the case--the humour of his writing was of exactly the same
tone and quality as the humour of his conversation. It lost nothing in
the process of transplantation. As he himself was fond of saying, he was
not a popular writer, and he was never less popular than in his humorous
vein. In his fun there is no grinning through a horse-collar, no
standing on one's head, none of the guffaws, and antics, and
"full-bodied gaiety of our English Cider-Cellar." But there is a keen
eye for subtle absurdity, a glance which unveils affectation and
penetrates bombast, the most delicate sense of incongruity, the
liveliest disrelish for all the moral and intellectual qualities which
constitute the Bore, and a vein of personal raillery as refined as it is
pungent. Sydney Smith spoke of Sir James Mackintosh as "abating and
dissolving pompous gentlemen with the most successful ridicule." The
words not inaptly describe Arnold's method of handling personal and
literary pretentiousness.

His praise as a phrase-maker is in all the Churches of literature. It
was his skill in this respect which elicited the liveliest compliments
from a transcendent performer in the same field. In 1881 he wrote to his
sister: "On Friday night I had a long talk with Lord Beaconsfield. He
ended by declaring that I was the only living Englishman who had become
a classic in his own lifetime. The fact is that what I have done in
establishing a number of current phrases, such as _Philistinism,
Sweetness and Light_, and all that is just the thing to strike him." In
1884 he wrote from America about his phrase, _The Remnant_--"That term
is going the round of the United States, and I understand what Dizzy
meant when he said that I had performed 'a great achievement in
launching phrases.'" But his wise epigrams and compendious sentences
about books and life, admirable in themselves, will hardly recall the
true man to the recollection of his friends so effectually as his sketch
of the English Academy, disturbed by a "flight of Corinthian leading
articles, and an irruption of Mr. G.A. Sala;" his comparison of Miss
Cobbe's new religion to the British College of Health; his parallel
between Phidias' statue of the Olympian Zeus and Coles'
truss-manufactory; Sir William Harcourt's attempt to "develop a system
of unsectarian religion from the Life of Mr. Pickwick;" the "portly
jeweller from Cheapside," with his "passionate, absorbing, almost
blood-thirsty clinging to life;" the grandiose war-correspondence of the
_Times_, and "old Russell's guns getting a little honey-combed;" Lord
Lumpington's subjection to "the grand, old, fortifying, classical
curriculum," and the "feat of mental gymnastics" by which he obtained
his degree; the Rev. Esau Hittall's "longs and shorts about the
Calydonian Boar, which were not bad;" the agitation of the Paris
Correspondent of the _Daily Telegraph_ on hearing the word "delicacy";
the "bold, bad men, the haunters of Social Science Congresses," who
declaim "a sweet union of philosophy and poetry" from Wordsworth on the
duty of the State towards education; the impecunious author "commercing
with the stars" in Grub Street, reading "the _Star_ for wisdom and
charity, the _Telegraph_ for taste and style," and looking for the
letter from the Literary Fund, "enclosing half-a-crown, the promise of
my dinner at Christmas, and the kind wishes of Lord Stanhope[3] for my
better success in authorship."

One is tempted to prolong this analysis of literary arts and graces; but
enough has been said to recall some leading characteristics of Arnold's
genius in verse and prose. We turn now to our investigation of what he
accomplished. The field which he included in his purview was
wide--almost as wide as our national life. We will consider, one by one,
the various departments of it in which his influence was most distinctly
felt; but first of all a word must be said about his Method.

[Footnote 1: Tennyson.]

[Footnote 2: Wordsworth.]

[Footnote 3: See p. 207. Philip Henry, 5th Earl Stanhope (1805-1875),
Historian, and Patron of Letters.]

[Illustration: Laleham Ferry

Matthew Arnold was born on Christmas Eve, 1822, at Laleham, near

_Photo H.W. Taunt_]



The Matthew Arnold whom we know begins in 1848; and, when we first make
his acquaintance, in his earliest letters to his mother and his eldest
sister, he is already a Critic. He is only twenty-five years old, and he
is writing in the year of Revolution. Thrones are going down with a
crash all over Europe; the voices of triumphant freedom are in the air;
the long-deferred millennium of peace and brotherhood seems to be just
on the eve of realization. But, amid all this glorious hurly-burly, this
"joy of eventful living," the young philosopher stands calm and
unshaken; interested indeed, and to some extent sympathetic, but wholly
detached and impartially critical. He thinks that the fall of the French
Monarchy is likely to produce social changes here, for "no one looks on,
seeing his neighbour mending, without asking himself if he cannot mend
in the same way." He is convinced that "the hour of the hereditary
peerage and eldest sonship and immense properties has struck"; he thinks
that a five years' continuance of these institutions is "long enough,
certainly, for patience, already at death's door, to have to die in." He
pities (in a sonnet) "the armies of the homeless and unfed." But all the
time he resents the "hot, dizzy trash which people are talking" about
the Revolution. He sees a torrent of American vulgarity and "_laideur_"
threatening to overflow Europe. He thinks England, as it is, "not
liveable-in," but is convinced that a Government of Chartists would not
mend matters; and, after telling a Republican friend that "God knows it,
I am with you," he thus qualifies his sympathy--

    Yet, when I muse on what life is, I seem
      Rather to patience prompted, than that proud
      Prospect of hope which France proclaims so loud--
    France, famed in all great arts, in none supreme.

In fine, he is critical of his own country, critical of all foreign
nations, critical of existing institutions, critical of well-meant but
uninstructed attempts to set them right. And, as he was in the
beginning, so he continued throughout his life and to its close. It is
impossible to conceive of him as an enthusiastic and unqualified
partisan of any cause, creed, party, society, or system. Admiration he
had, for worthy objects, in abundant store; high appreciation for what
was excellent; sympathy with all sincere and upward-tending endeavour.
But few indeed were the objects which he found wholly admirable, and
keen was his eye for the flaws and foibles which war against absolute
perfection. On the last day of his life he said in a note to the present
writer: "S---- has written a letter full of shriekings and cursings
about my innocent article; the Americans will get their notion of it
from that, and I shall never be able to enter America again." That
"innocent article" was an estimate, based on his experience in two
recent visits to the United States, of American civilization. "Innocent"
perhaps it was, but it was essentially critical. He began by saying that
in America the "political and social problem" had been well solved; that
there the constitution and government were to the people as well-fitting
clothes to a man; that there was a closer union between classes there
than elsewhere, and a more "homogeneous" nation. But then he went on to
say that, besides the political and social problem, there was a "human
problem," and that in trying to solve this America had been less
successful--indeed, very unsuccessful. The "human problem" was the
problem of civilization, and civilization meant "humanization in
society"--the development of the best in man, in and by a social system.
And here he pronounced America defective. America generally--life,
people, possessions--was not "interesting." Americans lived willingly
in places called by such names as Briggsville, Jacksonville and
Marcellus. The general tendency of public opinion was against
distinction. America offered no satisfaction to the sense for beauty,
the sense for elevation. Tall talk and self-glorification were rampant,
and no criticism was tolerated. In fine, there were many countries, less
free and less prosperous, which were more civilized.

That "innocent article," written in 1888, shows exactly the same
balanced tone and temper--the same critical attitude towards things with
which in the main he sympathizes--as the letters of 1848.

And what is true of the beginning and the end is true of the long tract
which lay between. From first to last he was a Critic--a calm and
impartial judge, a serene distributer of praise and blame--never a
zealot, never a prophet, never an advocate, never a dealer in that
"_blague_ and mob-pleasing" of which he truly said that it "is a real
talent and tempts many men to apostasy."

For some forty years he taught his fellow-men, and all his teaching was
conveyed through the critical medium. He never dogmatized, preached, or
laid down the law. Some great masters have taught by passionate
glorification of favourite personalities or ideals, passionate
denunciation of what they disliked or despised. Not such was Arnold's
method; he himself described it, most happily, as "sinuous, easy,
unpolemical." By his free yet courteous handling of subjects the most
august and conventions the most respectable, he won to his side a band
of disciples who had been repelled by the brutality and cocksureness of
more boisterous teachers. He was as temperate in eulogy as in
condemnation; he could hint a virtue and hesitate a liking.[4]

It happens, as we have just seen, that his earliest and latest
criticisms were criticisms of Institutions, and a great part of his
critical writing deals with similar topics; but these will be more
conveniently considered when we come to estimate his effect on Society
and Politics. That effect will perhaps be found to have been more
considerable than his contemporaries imagined; for, though it became a
convention to praise his literary performances and judgments, it was no
less a convention to dismiss as visionary and absurd whatever he wrote
about the State and the Community.

But in the meantime we must say a word about his critical method when
applied to Life, and when applied to Books. When one speaks of
criticism, one is generally thinking of prose. But, when we speak of
Arnold's criticism, it is necessary to widen the scope of one's
observation; for he was never more essentially the critic than when he
concealed the true character of his method in the guise of poetry. Even
if we decline to accept his strange judgment that all poetry "is at
bottom a criticism of life," still we must perceive that, as a matter of
fact, many of his own poems are as essentially critical as his Essays or
his Lectures.

We all remember that he poked fun at those misguided Wordsworthians who
seek to glorify their master by claiming for him an "ethical system as
distinctive and capable of exposition as Bishop Butler's," and "a
scientific system of thought." But surely we find in his own poetry a
sustained doctrine of self-mastery, duty, and pursuit of truth, which is
essentially ethical, and, in its form, as nearly "scientific" and
systematic as the nature of poetry permits. And this doctrine is
conveyed, not by positive, hortatory, or didactic methods, but by
Criticism--the calm praise of what commends itself to his judgment, the
gentle but decisive rebuke of whatever offends or darkens or misleads.
Of him it may be truly said, as he said of Goethe, that

    He took the suffering human race,
    He read each wound, each weakness clear;
    And struck his finger on the place,
    And said: _Thou ailest here, and here._

His deepest conviction about "the suffering human race" would seem to
have been that its worst miseries arise from a too exalted estimate of
its capacities. Men are perpetually disappointed and disillusioned
because they expect too much from human life and human nature, and
persuade themselves that their experience, here and hereafter, will be,
not what they have any reasonable grounds for expecting, but what they
imagine or desire. The true philosophy is that which

    Neither makes man too much a god,
        Nor God too much a man.

Wordsworth thought it a boon to "feel that we are greater than we know":
Arnold thought it a misfortune. Wordsworth drew from the shadowy
impressions of the past the most splendid intimations of the future.
Against such vain imaginings Arnold set, in prose, the "inexorable
sentence" in which Butler warned us to eschew pleasant self-deception;
and, in verse, the persistent question--

    Say, what blinds us, that we claim the glory
        Of possessing powers not our share?

He rebuked

    Wishes unworthy of a man full-grown.

He taught that there are

    Joys which were not for our use designed.

He warned discontented youth not to expect greater happiness from
advancing years, because

        one thing only has been lent
    To youth and age in common--discontent.

Friendship is a broken reed, for

    Our vaunted life is one long funeral,

and even Hope is buried with the "faces that smiled and fled."

Death, at least in some of its aspects, seemed to him the

    Stern law of every mortal lot,
    Which man, proud man, finds hard to bear;
    And builds himself I know not what
    Of second life I know not where.

And yet, in gleams of happier insight, he saw the man who "flagged not
in this earthly strife,"

    His soul well-knit, and all his battles won,

mount, though hardly, to eternal life. And, as he mused over his
father's grave, the conviction forced itself upon his mind that
somewhere in the "labour-house of being" there still was employment for
that father's strength, "zealous, beneficent, firm."

Here indeed is the more cheerful aspect of his "criticism of life." Such
happiness as man is capable of enjoying is conditioned by a frank
recognition of his weaknesses and limitations; but it requires also for
its fulfilment the sedulous and dutiful employment of such powers and
opportunities as he has.

First and foremost, he must realize the "majestic unity" of his nature,
and not attempt by morbid introspection to dissect himself into

    Affections, Instincts, Principles, and Powers,
    Impulse and Reason, Freedom and Control.

Then he must learn that

    To its own impulse every action stirs.

He must live by his own light, and let earth live by hers. The forces of
nature are to be in this respect his teachers--

    But with joy the stars perform their shining,
    And the sea its long moon-silvered roll;
    For self-poised they live, nor pine with noting
    All the fever of some differing soul.

But, though he is to learn from Nature and love Nature and enjoy Nature,
he is to remember that she

        never was the friend of _one_,
    Nor promised love she could not give;

and so he is not to expect too much from her, or demand impossible
boons. Still less is he to be content with feeling himself "in harmony"
with her; for

    Man covets all which Nature has, but more.

That "more" is Conscience and the Moral Sense.

    Man must begin, know this, where Nature ends;
    Nature and man can never be fast friends.

And this brings us to the idea of Duty as set forth in his poems, and
Duty resolves itself into three main elements: Truth--Work--Love. Truth
comes first. Man's prime duty is to know things as they are. Truth can
only be attained by light, and light he must cultivate, he must worship.
Arnold's highest praise for a lost friend is that he was "a child of
light"; that he had "truth without alloy,"

    And joy in light, and power to spread the joy.

The saddest part of that friend's death is the fear that it may bring,

    After light's term, a term of cecity:

the best hope for the future, that light will return and banish the
follies, sophistries, delusions, which have accumulated in the darkness.
"Lucidity of soul" may be--nay, must be, "sad"; but it is not less
imperative. And the truth which light reveals must not only be sought
earnestly and cherished carefully, but even, when the cause demands it,
championed strenuously. The voices of conflict, the joy of battle, the
"garments rolled in blood," the "burning and fuel of fire" have little
place in Arnold's poetry. But once at any rate he bursts into a strain
so passionate, so combatant, that it is difficult for a disciple to
recognize his voice; and then the motive is a summons to a last charge
for Truth and Light--

    They out-talk'd thee, hiss'd thee, tore thee?
    Better men fared thus before thee;
    Fired their ringing shot and pass'd,
    Hotly charged--and sank at last.

    Charge once more, then, and be dumb!
    Let the victors, when they come,
    When the forts of folly fall,
    Find thy body by the wall!

But the note of battle, even for what he holds dearest and most sacred,
is not a familiar note in his poetry. He had no natural love of

    the throng'd field where winning comes by strife.

His criticism of life sets a higher value on work than on fighting.
"Toil unsevered from tranquillity," "Labour, accomplish'd in repose"--is
his ideal of happiness and duty.

Even the Duke of Wellington--surely an unpromising subject for poetic
eulogy--is praised because he was a worker,

    Laborious, persevering, serious, firm.

Nature, again, is called in to teach us the secret of successful labour.
Her forces are incessantly at work, and in that work they are entirely

    Bounded by themselves, and unregardful
      In what state God's other works may be,
    In their own tasks all their powers pouring,
      These attain the mighty life you see.

But those who had the happiness of knowing Arnold in the flesh will feel
that they never so clearly recognize his natural voice as when, by his
criticism of life, he is inculcating the great law of Love. Even in the
swirl of Revolution he clings to his fixed idea of love as duty. After
discussing the rise and fall of dynasties, the crimes of diplomacy, the
characteristic defects of rival nations, and all the stirring topics of
the time, he abruptly concludes his criticism with an appeal to Love.
"Be kind to the neighbours--'this is all we can.'"

And as in his prose, so in his poetry. Love, even in arrest of formal
justice, is the motive of _The Sick King in Bokhara_; love, that wipes
out sin, of _Saint Brandan_--

    That germ of kindness, in the womb
    Of mercy caught, did not expire;
    Outlives my guilt, outlives my doom,
    And friends me in the pit of fire.

_The Neckan_ and _The Forsaken Merman_ tell the tale of contemptuous
unkindness and its enduring poison. _A Picture at Newstead_ depicts the
inexpiable evils wrought by violent wrong. _Poor Matthias_ tells in a
parable the cruelty, not less real because unconscious, of imperfect

    Human longings, human fears,
    Miss our eyes and miss our ears.
    Little helping, wounding much,
    Dull of heart, and hard of touch,
    Brother man's despairing sign
    Who may trust us to divine?

In _Geist's Grave_, the "loving heart," the "patient soul" of the
dog-friend are made to "read their homily to man"; and the theme of the
homily is still the same: the preciousness of the love which outlives
the grave. But nowhere perhaps is his doctrine about the true divinity
of love so exquisitely expressed as in _The Good Shepherd with the

    _He saves the sheep, the goats He doth not save._
    So rang Tertullian's sentence .  .  .
      .  .  .  .  .  But she sigh'd,
    The infant Church! Of love she felt the tide
    Stream on her from her Lord's yet recent grave.
    And then she smiled; and in the Catacombs,
    With eye suffused but heart inspirèd true,
    On those walls subterranean, where she hid
    Her head 'mid ignominy, death, and tombs,
    She the Good Shepherd's hasty image drew--
    And on His shoulders not a lamb, a kid.

So much, then, for his Criticism of Life, as applied in and through his
poems. It is not easy to estimate, even approximately, the effect
produced by a loved and gifted poet, who for thirty years taught an
audience, fit though few, that the main concerns of human life were
Truth, Work, and Love. Those "two noblest of things, Sweetness and
Light" (though heaven only knows what they meant to Swift), meant to him
Love and Truth; and to these he added the third great ideal,
Work--patient, persistent, undaunted effort for what a man genuinely
believes to be high and beneficent ends. Such a "Criticism of Life," we
must all admit, is not unworthy of one who seeks to teach his
fellow-men; even though some may doubt whether poetry is the medium best
fitted for conveying it.

We must now turn our attention to his performances in the field of
literary criticism; and we begin in the year 1853. He had won the prize
for an English poem at Rugby, and again at Oxford. In 1849 he had
published without his name, and had recalled, a thin volume, called _The
Strayed Reveller, and other Poems_. He had done the same with
_Empedocles on Etna, and other Poems_ in 1852. The best contents of
these two volumes were combined in _Poems_, 1853, and to this book he
gave a Preface, which was his first essay in Literary Criticism. In this
essay he enounces a certain doctrine of poetry, and, true to his
lifelong practice, he enounces it mainly by criticism of what other
people had said. A favourite cry of the time was that Poetry, to be
vital and interesting, must "leave the exhausted past, and draw its
subjects from matters of present import." It was the favourite theory of
Middle Class Liberalism. The _Spectator_ uttered it with characteristic
gravity; Kingsley taught it obliquely in _Alton Locke_. Arnold assailed
it as "completely false," as "having a philosophical form and air, but
no real basis in fact." In assailing it, he justified his constant
recourse to Antiquity for subject and method; he exalted Achilles,
Prometheus, Clytemnestra, and Dido as eternally interesting; he asserted
that the most famous poems of the nineteenth century "left the reader
cold in comparison with the effect produced upon him by the latter
books of the _Iliad_, by the _Oresteia_, or by the episode of Dido." He
glorified the Greeks as the "unapproached masters of the _grand style_."
He even ventured to doubt whether the influence of Shakespeare, "the
greatest, perhaps, of all poetical names," had been wholly advantageous
to the writers of poetry. He weighed Keats in the balance against
Sophocles and found him wanting.

[Illustration: Thomas Arnold, D.D.

Head Master of Rugby, and father of Matthew Arnold

_From the Painting in Oriel College_

_Photo H.W. Taunt_]

Of course, this criticism, so hostile to the current cant of the moment,
was endlessly misinterpreted and misunderstood. He thus explained his
doctrine in a Preface to a Second Edition of his Poems: "It has been
said that I wish to limit the poet, in his choice of subjects, to the
period of Greek and Roman antiquity; but it is not so. I only counsel
him to choose for his subjects great actions, without regarding to what
time they belong." A few years later he wrote to a friend (in a letter
hitherto unpublished): "The modern world is the widest and richest
material ever offered to the artist; but the moulding and representing
power of the artist is not, or has not yet become (in my opinion),
commensurate with his material, his _mundus representandus_. This
adequacy of the artist to his world, this command of the latter by him,
seems to me to be what constitutes a first-class poetic epoch, and to
distinguish it from such an epoch as our own; in this sense, the Homeric
and Elizabethan poetry seems to me of a superior class to ours, though
the world represented by it was far less full and significant."

There is no need to describe in greater detail the two Prefaces, which
can be read, among rather incongruous surroundings, in the volume called
_Irish Essays, and Others_. But they are worth noting, because in them,
at the age of thirty, he first displayed the peculiar temper in literary
criticism which so conspicuously marked him to the end; and that temper
happily infected the critical writing of a whole generation; until the
Iron Age returned, and the bludgeon was taken down from its shelf, and
the scalping-knife refurbished.

In his critical temper, lucidity, courage, and serenity were equally
blended. In his criticism of books, as in his criticism of life, he
aimed first at Lucidity--at that clear light, uncoloured by
prepossession, which should enable him to see things as they really are.
In a word, he judged for himself; and, however much his judgment might
run counter to prejudice or tradition, he dared to enounce it and
persist in it. He spoke with proper contempt of the "tenth-rate critics,
for whom any violent shock to the public taste would be a temerity not
to be risked"; but that temerity he himself had in rich abundance. Homer
and Sophocles are the only poets of whom, if my memory serves me, he
never wrote a disparaging word. Shakespeare is, and rightly, an object
of national worship; yet Arnold ventured to point out his
"over-curiousness of expression"; and, where he writes--

    Till that Bellona's bridegroom, lapped in proof,
    Confronted him with self-comparisons,

Arnold dared to say that the writing was "detestable."

Macaulay is, perhaps less rightly, another object of national worship;
yet Arnold denounced the "confident shallowness which makes him so
admired by public speakers and leading-article writers, and so
intolerable to all searchers for truth"; and frankly avowed that to his
mind "a man's power to detect the ring of false metal in the _Lays of
Ancient Rome_ was a good measure of his fitness to give an opinion about
poetical matters at all." According to Macaulay, Burke was "the greatest
man since Shakespeare." Arnold admired Burke, revered him, paid him the
highest compliment by trying to apply his ideas to actual life; but,
when Burke urged his great arguments by obstetrical and pathological
illustrations, Arnold was ready to denounce his extravagances, his
capriciousness, his lapses from good taste.

The same perfectly courageous criticism, qualifying generous admiration,
he applied in turn to Jeremy Taylor and Addison, to Milton, and Pope,
and Gray, and Keats, and Shelley, and Scott--to all the principal
luminaries of our literary heaven. He went all lengths with Mr.
Swinburne in praising Byron's "sincerity and strength," but he qualified
the praise: "Our soul had _felt_ him like the thunder's roll," but "he
taught us little." Devout Wordsworthian as he is, he does not shrink
from saying that much of Wordsworth's work is "quite uninspired, flat
and dull," and sets himself to the task of "relieving him from a great
deal of the poetical baggage which now encumbers him."

And so Lucidity, which reveals the Truth, enounces its decisions with
absolute courage; and to Lucidity and Courage is added the crowning
grace of Serenity. However much the subject of his study may offend his
taste or sin against his judgment, he never loses his temper with the
author whom he is criticising. He never bludgeons or scalps or
scarifies; but serenely indicates, with the calm gesture of a superior
authority, the defects and blots which mar perfection, but which the
unthinking multitude ignores, or, at worst, admires.

The years 1860 and 1861 mark an important stage in the development of
his critical method. He was now Professor of Poetry at Oxford, and he
delivered from the professorial chair his famous lectures _On
Translating Homer_, to which in 1862 he added his "Last Words." As much
as anything which he ever wrote, these lectures have a chance of living
and being enjoyed when we are dust. For Homer is immortal, and he who
interprets Homer to Englishmen may hope at least for a longer life than
most of us.

Few are those who can still recall the graceful figure in its silken
gown; the gracious address, the slightly supercilious smile, of the
_Milton jeune et voyageant_,[5] just returned from contact with all that
was best in French culture to instruct and astonish his own university;
few who can still catch the cadence of the opening sentence: "It has
more than once been suggested to me that I should translate Homer"; few
that heard the fine tribute of the aged scholar,[6] who, as the young
lecturer closed a later discourse, murmured to himself, "The Angel

With his characteristic trick of humorous mock-humility, Arnold wrote to
a friendly reviewer who praised these lectures on translating Homer: "I
am glad any influential person should call attention to the fact that
there was some criticism in the three lectures; most people seem to have
gathered nothing from them except that I abused F.W. Newman, and liked
English hexameters."

Criticisms of criticism are the most melancholy reading in the world,
and therefore no attempt will here be made to examine in detail the
praise which in these lectures he poured upon the supreme exemplar of
pure art, or the delicious ridicule with which he assailed the most
respectable attempts to render Homer into English. For the praise, let
one quotation suffice--"Homer's grandeur is not the mixed and turbid
grandeur of the great poets of the North, of the authors of _Othello_
and _Faust_; it is a perfect, a lovely grandeur. Certainly his poetry
has all the energy and power of the poetry of our ruder climates; but it
has, besides, the pure lines of an Ionian horizon, the liquid clearness
of an Ionian sky."

On the ridicule, we must dwell a little more at length; for this was, in
the modern slang, "a new departure" in his critical method. At the date
when he published his lectures _On Translating Homer_, English criticism
of literature was, and for some time had been, an extremely solemn
business. Much of it had been exceedingly good, for it had been produced
by Johnson and Coleridge, and De Quincey and Hazlitt. Much had been
atrociously bad, resembling all too closely Mr. Girdle's pamphlet "in
sixty-four pages, post octavo, on the character of the Nurse's deceased
husband in _Romeo and Juliet_, with an enquiry whether he had really
been a 'merry man' in his lifetime, or whether it was merely his widow's
affectionate partiality that induced her so to report him."[7]

But, whether good or bad, criticism had been solemn. Even Arnold's first
performances in the art had been as grave as Burke or Wordsworth. But in
his lectures _On Translating Homer_ he added a new resource to his
critical apparatus. He still pursued Lucidity, Courage, and Serenity; he
still praised temperately and blamed humanely; but now he brought to the
enforcement of his literary judgment the aid of a delicious playfulness.
Cardinal Newman was not ashamed to talk of "chucking" a thing off, or
getting into a "scrape." So perhaps a humble disciple may be permitted
to say that Arnold pointed his criticisms with "chaff."

This method of depreciating literary performances which one dislikes,
of conveying dissent from literary doctrines which one considers
erroneous, had fallen out of use in our literary criticism. It was least
to be expected from a professorial chair in a venerable
university--least of all from a professor not yet forty, who might have
been expected to be weighed down and solemnized by the greatness of his
function and the awfulness of his surroundings. Hence arose the simple
and amusing wrath of pedestrian poets like Mr. Ichabod Wright, and
ferocious pedants like Professor Francis Newman, and conventional
worshippers of such idols as Scott and Macaulay, when they found him
poking his seraphic fun at the notion that Homer's song was like "an
elegant and simple melody from an African of the Gold Coast," or at
lines so purely prosaic as--

    All these thy anxious cares are also mine,
    Partner beloved;

or so eccentric as--

    Nor liefly thee would I advance to man-ennobling battle

or so painful as--

    To every man upon this earth
      Death cometh soon or late.

This habit of enlisting playfulness in aid of literary judgment was
carried a step further in _Essays in Criticism_, published in 1865. This
book, of which Mr. Paul justly remarks that it was "a great intellectual
event," was a collection of essays written in the years 1863 and 1864.
The original edition contained a preface dealing very skittishly with
Bishop Colenso's biblical aberrations. The allusions to Colenso were
wisely omitted from later editions, but the preface as it stands
contains (besides the divinely-beautiful eulogy of Oxford) some of
Arnold's most delightful humour. He never wrote anything better than his
apology to the indignant Mr. Ichabod Wright; his disclaimer of the title
of Professor, "which I share with so many distinguished men--Professor
Pepper, Professor Anderson, Professor Frickel"; his attempt to comfort
the old gentleman who was afraid of being murdered, by reminding him
that "il n'y a pas d'homme necessaire"; and in all these cases the
humour subserves and advances a serious criticism of books or of life.

As we have now seen him engaged in the duty of criticising others, it
will not be out of place to cite in this connection, though they belong
to other periods, some criticisms of himself. As far back as 1853, he
had observed, with characteristic lucidity, that the great fault of his
earlier poems was "the absence of charm." "Charm" was indeed the
element in which they were deficient; but, as years advanced, charm was
superadded to thought and feeling. In 1867, he said in a letter to his
friend F.T. Palgrave: "Saint Beuve has written to me with great interest
about the _Obermann poem_, which he is getting translated. Swinburne
fairly took my breath away. I must say the general public praise me in
the dubious style in which old Wordsworth used to praise Bernard Barton,
James Montgomery, and suchlike; and the writers of poetry, on the other
hand--Browning, Swinburne, Lytton--praise me as the general public
praises its favourites. This is a curious reversal of the usual order of
things. Perhaps it is from an exaggerated estimate of my own
unpopularity and obscurity as a poet, but my first impulse is to be
astonished at Swinburne's praising me, and to think it an act of
generosity. Also he picks passages which I myself should have picked,
and which I have not seen other people pick."

In 1869, when the first Collected Edition of his poems was in the press,
he wrote to Palgrave, who had suggested some alterations, this estimate
of his own merits and defects,--

"I am really very much obliged to you for your letter. I think the
printing has made too much progress to allow of dealing with any of the
long things now; I have left 'Merope' aside entirely, but the rest I
have reprinted. In a succeeding edition, however, I am not at all sure
that I shall not leave out the second part of the 'Church of Brou.' With
regard to the others, I think I shall let them stand--but often for
other reasons than because of their intrinsic merit. For instance, I
agree that in the 'Sick King in Bokhara' there is a flatness in parts;
but then it was the first thing of mine dear old Clough thoroughly
liked. Against 'Tristram,' too, many objections may fairly be urged; but
then the subject is a very popular one, and many people will tell you
they like it best of anything I have written. All this has to be taken
into account. 'Balder' perhaps no one cares much for except myself; but
I have always thought, though very likely I am wrong, that it has not
had justice done to it; I consider that it has a natural _propriety_ of
diction and rhythm which is what we all prize so much in Virgil, and
which is not common in English poetry. For instance, Tennyson has in the
_Idylls_ something dainty and _tourmenté_ which excludes this natural
propriety; and I have myself in 'Sohrab' something, not dainty, but
_tourmenté_ and Miltonically _ampoullé_, which excludes it.... We have
enough Scandinavianism in our nature and history to make a short
_conspectus_ of the Scandinavian mythology admissible. As to the shorter
things, the 'Dream' I have struck out. 'One Lesson' I have re-written
and banished from its pre-eminence as an introductory piece. 'To
Marguerite' (I suppose you mean 'We were apart' and not 'Yes! in the
sea') I had paused over, but my instinct was to strike it out, and now
your suggestion comes to confirm this instinct, I shall act upon it. The
same with 'Second Best.' It is quite true there is a horrid falsetto in
some stanzas of the 'Gipsy Child'--it was a very youthful production. I
have re-written those stanzas, but am not quite satisfied with the poem
even now. 'Shakespeare' I have re-written. 'Cruikshank' I have
re-titled, and re-arranged the 'World's Triumphs.' 'Morality' I stick
to--and 'Palladium' also. 'Second Best' I strike out and will try to put
in 'Modern Sappho' instead--though the metre is not right. In the
'Voice' the falsetto rages too furiously; I can do nothing with it;
ditto in 'Stagirius,' which I have struck out. Some half-dozen other
things I either have struck out, or think of striking out. 'Hush, not to
me at this bitter departing' is one of them. The Preface I omit
entirely. 'St. Brandan,' like 'Self-Deception,' is not a piece that at
all satisfies me, but I shall let both of them stand."

In 1879 he wrote with reference to the edition of his poems in two

"In beginning with 'early poems' I followed, as I have done throughout,
the chronological arrangement adopted in the last edition, an
arrangement which is, on the whole, I think, the most satisfactory. The
title of 'early' implies an excuse for defective work of which I would
not be supposed blind to the defects--such as the 'Gipsy Child,' which
you suggest for exclusion; but something these early pieces have which
later work has not, and many people--perhaps for what are truth faults
in the poems--have liked them. You have been a good friend to my poems
from the first, one of those whose approbation has been a real source of
pleasure to me. There are things which I should like to do in poetry
before I die, and of which lines and bits have long been done, in
particular Lucretius, St. Alexius, and the journey of Achilles after
death to the Island of Leuce; but we accomplish what we can, not what we

Enough, perhaps, has now been said about his critical method; and, as
this book proposes to deal with results, it is right to enquire into the
effect of that method upon men who aspired to follow him, at whatever
distance, in the path of criticism. The answer can be easily given. He
taught us, first and foremost, to judge for ourselves; to take nothing
at second hand; to bow the knee to no reputation, however high its
pedestal in the Temple of Fame, unless we were satisfied of its right to
stand where it was. Then he taught us to discriminate, even in what we
loved best, between its excellences and its defects; to swallow nothing
whole, but to chew the cud of disinterested meditation, and accept or
reject, praise or blame, in accordance with our natural and deliberate
taste. He taught us to love Beauty supremely, to ensue it, to be on the
look out for it; and, when we found it--when we found what really and
without convention satisfied our "sense for beauty"--to adore it, and,
as far as we could, to imitate it. Contrariwise, he taught us to shun
and eschew what was hideous, to make war upon it, and to be on our guard
against its contaminating influence. And this teaching he applied alike
to hideousness in character, sight, and sound--to "watchful jealousy"
and rancour and uncleanness; to the "dismal Mapperly Hills," and the
"uncomeliness of Margate," the "squalid streets of Bethnal Green," and
"Coles' Truss Manufactory standing where it ought not, on the finest
site in Europe"; to such poetry as--

    And scarcely had she begun to wash
    When she was aware of the grisly gash,

to such hymns as--

    O happy place!
    When shall I be
    My God with Thee,
    To see Thy face?

"What a touch of grossness!" he exclaimed, "what an original shortcoming
in the more delicate spiritual perceptions, is shown by the natural
growth amongst us of such hideous names--Higginbottom, Stiggins, Bugg!
In Ionia and Attica they were luckier in this respect than "the best
race in the world"; by the Ilissus there was "no Wragg,[8] poor thing!"

Then he taught us to aim at sincerity in our intercourse with Nature.
Never to describe her as others saw her, never to pretend a knowledge of
her which we did not possess, never to endow her with fanciful
attributes of our own or other people's imagining, never to assume her
sympathy with mortal lots, never to forget that she, like humanity, has
her dark, her awful, her revengeful moods. He taught us not to be
ashamed of our own sense of fun, our own faculty of laughter; but to let
them play freely even round the objects of our reasoned reverence, just
in the spirit of the teacher who said that no man really believed in his
religion till he could venture to joke about it. Above all, he taught
us, even when our feelings were most forcibly aroused, to be serene,
courteous, and humane; never to scold, or storm, or bully; and to avoid
like a pestilence such brutality as that of the _Saturday Review_ when
it said that something or another was "eminently worthy of a great
nation," and to disparage it "eminently worthy of a great fool." He laid
it down as a "precious truth" that one's effectiveness depends upon "the
power of persuasion, of charm; that without this all fury, energy,
reasoning power, acquirement, are thrown away and only render their
owner more miserable."

In a word, he combined Light with Sweetness, and in the combination lies
his abiding power.

[Footnote 4: "Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike."--_Pope_.]

[Footnote 5: He was so described by George Sand.]

[Footnote 6: Dr. Williams, President of Jesus College.]

[Footnote 7: _Nicholas Nickleby_.]

[Footnote 8: "A shocking child-murder has just been committed at
Nottingham. A girl named Wragg left the workhouse there on Saturday
morning with her young illegitimate child. The child was soon afterwards
found dead on Mapperly Hills, having been strangled. _Wragg is in



"Though I am a schoolmaster's son, I confess that school-teaching or
school-inspecting is not the line of life I should naturally have
chosen. I adopted it in order to marry a lady who is here to-night, and
who feels your kindness as warmly and gratefully as I do. My wife and I
had a wandering life of it at first. There were but three lay-inspectors
for all England. My district went right across from Pembroke Dock to
Great Yarmouth. We had no home. One of our children was born in a
lodging at Derby, with a workhouse, if I recollect aright, behind and a
penitentiary in front. But the _irksomeness_ of my new duties was what I
felt most, and during the first year or so it was sometimes

[Illustration: Laleham Church

As it was in Matthew Arnold's boyhood

_Photo H.W. Taunt_]

The name of Arnold is so inseparably connected with Education[9] that
many of Matthew Arnold's friends were astonished by this frank
confession, which he made in his address to the Westminster Teachers'
Association on the occasion of his retirement from the office of
Inspector. There is reason to believe that the profession on which he
had set his early affections was Diplomacy. It is easy to see how
perfectly, in many respects, diplomatic life would have suited him. The
proceeds of his Fellowship, then considerable and unhampered by any
conditions of residence, would have supplied the lack of private
fortune. He had some of the diplomatist's most necessary gifts--love of
travel, familiarity with European literature, keen interest in foreign
politics and institutions, taste for cultivated society, rich enjoyment
of life, and fascinating manners conspicuously free from English
stiffness and shyness. As to his interest in foreign politics, it is
only necessary to cite _England and the Italian Question_, which he
wrote in 1859, and which deals with the unity and independence of Italy.
It is the first essay which he ever published, but it abounds in
clearness and force, and is entirely free from the whimsicality which in
later years sometimes marred his prose. Above all it shows a sympathetic
insight into foreign aspirations which is rare indeed even among
cultivated Englishmen. In reference to this pamphlet he truly observed:
"The worst of the English is that on foreign politics they search so
very much more for what they like and wish to be true, than for what
_is_ true. In Paris there is certainly a larger body of people than in
London who treat foreign politics as a science, as a matter to _know_
upon before _feeling_ upon."

As regards the diplomatic life, it seems certain that he would have
enjoyed it thoroughly, and one would think that he was exactly the man
to conduct a delicate negotiation with tact, good humour, and good
sense. Some glimmering of these gifts seems to have dawned from time to
time on the unimaginative minds of his official chiefs; for three times
he was sent by the Education Office on Foreign Missions, half diplomatic
in their character, to enquire into the condition and methods of Public
Instruction on the Continent. The ever-increasing popularity which
attended him on these Missions, and his excellent judgment in handling
Foreign Ministers and officials, might perhaps suggest the thought that
in renouncing diplomacy he renounced his true vocation. But the thought,
though natural, is superficial, and must give way to the absolute
conviction that he never could have known true happiness--never realized
his own ideal of life--without a wife, a family, and a home. And these
are luxuries which, as a rule, diplomatists cannot attain till

    youth and bloom and this delightful world

have lost something of their freshness. In renouncing diplomacy he
secured, before he was twenty-nine, the chief boon of human life; but a
vague desire to enjoy that boon amid continental surroundings seems
constantly to have visited him. In 1851 he wrote to his wife: "We can
always look forward to retiring to Italy on £200 a year." In 1853 he
wrote to her again: "All this afternoon I have been haunted by a vision
of living with you at Berne, on a diplomatic appointment, and how
different that would be from this incessant grind in schools." And,
thirty years later, when he was approaching the end of his official
life, he wrote a friend: "I must go once more to America to see my
daughter, who is going to be married to an American, settled in her new
home. Then I 'feel like' retiring to Florence, and rarely moving from it

But, in spite of all these dreams and longings, he seems to have known
that his lot was cast in England, and that England must be the sphere of
his main activities. "Year slips away after year, and one begins to find
that the Office has really had the main part of one's life, and that
little remains."

We, who are his disciples, habitually think of him as a poet, or a
critic, or an instructor in national righteousness and intelligence; as
a model of private virtue and of public spirit. We do not habitually
think of him as, in the narrow and technical sense, an Educator. And yet
a man who gives his life to a profession must be in a great measure
judged by what he accomplished in and through that profession, even
though in the first instance he "adopted it in order to marry."

Though not a born educator, not an educator by natural aptitude or
inclination, he made himself an educator by choice; and, having once
chosen his profession, he gradually developed an interest in it, a pride
in it, a love of it which astonished some of his friends. How irksome it
was to him at the beginning we saw just now in his address to the
Teachers. How irksome in many of its incidents it remained we can see in
his published Letters.

"I have had a hard day. Thirty pupil-teachers to examine in an
inconvenient room, and nothing to eat except a biscuit which a
charitable lady gave me."

"This certainly has been one of the most uncomfortable weeks I ever
spent. Battersea is so far off, the roads so execrable, and the rain so
incessant.... There is not a yard of flagging, I believe, in all

"Here is my programme for this afternoon: Avalanches--The
Steam-Engine--The Thames--India-Rubber--Bricks--The Battle of
Poictiers--Subtraction--The Reindeer--The Gunpowder Plot--The Jordan.
Alluring, is it not? Twenty minutes each, and the days of one's life are
only three score years and ten."

"About four o'clock I found myself so exhausted, having eaten nothing
since breakfast, that I sent out for a bun, and ate it before the
astonished school."

"Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I had to be at the Westminster
Training School at ten o'clock; be there till half-past one, and begin
again at two, going on till half-past six; this, with eighty candidates
to look after, and gas burning most of the day, either to give light or
to help to warm the room."

"One sees a teacher holding up an apple to a gallery of little children,
and saying: 'An apple has a stalk, peel, pulp, core, pips, and juice; it
is odorous and opaque, and is used for making a pleasant drink called

"I sometimes grow impatient of getting old amid a press of occupation
and labour for which, after all, I was not born.... The work I like is
not very compatible with any other. But we are not here to have
facilities found us for doing the work we like, but to make them."

Still, his work as an inspector might have been made more interesting
and less irksome, if he had served under chiefs of more enlightened or
more liberal temper, as may be inferred from some words uttered after
his retirement--

"To Government I owe nothing. But then I have always remembered that,
under our Parliamentary system, the Government probably takes little
interest in such work, whatever it is, as I have been able to do in the
public service, and even perhaps knows nothing at all about it. But we
must take the evil of our system along with the good. Abroad probably a
Minister might have known more about my performances; but then abroad I
doubt whether I should ever have survived to perform them. Under the
strict bureaucratic system abroad, I feel pretty sure that I should have
been dismissed ten times over for the freedom with which on various
occasions I have exposed myself on matters of Religion and Politics. Our
Government here in England takes a large and liberal view about what it
considers a man's private affairs, and so I have been able to survive as
an Inspector for thirty-five years; and to the Government I at least owe
this--to have been allowed to survive."

For thirty-five years then he served his country as an Inspector of
Elementary Schools, and the experience which he thus gained, the
interest which was thus awoke in him, suggested to him some large and
far-reaching views about our entire system of National Education. It is
no disparagement to a highly-cultivated and laborious staff of public
servants to say that he was the greatest Inspector of Schools that we
have ever possessed. It is true that he was not, as the manner of some
is, omnidoct and omnidocent. His incapacity to examine little girls in
needlework he frankly confessed; and his incapacity to examine them in
music, if unconfessed, was not less real. "I assure you," he said to the
Westminster Teachers, "I am not at all a harsh judge of myself; but I
know perfectly well that there have been much better inspectors than I."
Once, when a flood of compliments threatened to overwhelm him, he waved
it off with the frank admission--"Nobody can say I am a punctual
Inspector." Why then do we call him the greatest Inspector that we ever
had? Because he had that most precious of all combinations--a genius and
a heart. Trying to account for what he could not ignore--his immense
popularity with the masters and mistresses of the schools which he
inspected--he attributed part of it to the fact that he was Dr. Arnold's
son, part to the fact that he was "more or less known to the public as
an author"; but, of personal qualifications for his office, he
enumerated two only, and both eminently characteristic: "One is that,
having a serious sense of the nature and function of criticism, I from
the first sought to see the schools as they really were; thus it was
felt that I was fair, and that the teachers had not to apprehend from me
crotchets, pedantries, humours, favouritism, and prejudices." The other
was that he had learnt to sympathize with the teachers. "I met daily in
the schools men and women discharging duties akin to mine, duties as
irksome as mine, duties less well paid than mine; and I asked myself:
Are they on roses? Gradually it grew into a habit with me to put myself
into their places, to try and enter into their feelings, to represent to
myself their life."

It belongs to the very nature of an Inspector's work that it escapes
public notice. Very few are the people who care to inform themselves
about the studies, the discipline, the intellectual and moral atmosphere
of Elementary Schools, except in so far as those schools can be made
battle-grounds for sectarian animosity. And, if they are few now, they
were still fewer during the thirty-five years of Arnold's Inspectorship.
A conspicuous service was rendered both to the cause of Education and to
Arnold's memory when the late Lord Sandford rescued from the entombing
blue-books his friend's nineteen General Reports to the Education
Department on Elementary Schools. In those Reports we read his
deliberate judgment on the merits, defects, needs, possibilities and
ideals of elementary schools; and this not merely as regards the choice
of subjects taught, but as regards cleanliness, healthiness, good order,
good manners, relations between teachers and pupils, selection of models
in prose and verse, and the literary as contrasted with the polemical
use of the Bible.

Such an enumeration may sound dull enough, but there is no dulness in
the Reports themselves. They are stamped from the first page to the last
with his lightness of touch and perfection of style. They belong as
essentially to literature as his Essays or his Lectures.

In reading these Reports on Elementary Schools we catch repeated
allusions to his three Missions of enquiry into Education on the
Continent. Those Missions produced separate Reports of their own, and
each Report developed into a volume. "The Popular Education of France"
gave the experience which he acquired in 1859, and its Introduction is
reproduced in _Mixed Essays_ under the title of "Democracy." _A French
Eton_ (not very happily named) was an unofficial product of the same
tour; for, extending his purview from Elementary Education, he there
dealt with the relation between "Middle Class Education and the State."

"Why," he asked, "cannot we have throughout England as the French have
throughout France, as the Germans have throughout Germany, as the Swiss
have throughout Switzerland, and as the Dutch have throughout Holland,
schools where the middle and professional classes may obtain at the rate
of from £20 to £50 a year if they are boarders, and from £5 to £15 a
year if they are day scholars, an education of as good quality, with as
good guarantees of social character and advantages for a future career
in the world, as the education which French children of the
corresponding class can obtain from institutions like that of Toulouse
or Sorèze?"

_Schools and Universities of the Continent_ gave the result of the
Mission in 1865 to investigate the Education of the Upper and Middle
Classes in France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. Its bearing on
English Education may be inferred from these words of its author,
written in October, 1868: "There is a vicious article in the new
_Quarterly_ on my school-book, by one of the Eton undermasters, who,
like Demetrius the Silversmith, seems alarmed for the gains of his

The "Special Report on Elementary Education Abroad" grew out of his
third Mission in 1885; and, over and above these books, dealing
specifically with educational problems, we meet constant allusions to
the same topics in nearly all his prose-writings. A life-long contact
with Education produced in him a profound dissatisfaction with our
English system, or want of system, and an almost passionate desire to
turn chaos into order by the persistent use of the critical method.

When one talks about English Education, the subject naturally divides
itself into the Universities, the Public Schools, the Private Schools,
and the Elementary Schools. The classification is not scientifically
accurate, but it will serve. With all these strata of Education, he in
turn concerned himself; but with the two higher strata much less
effectively than with the two lower. It was necessary to the theoretical
completeness of his scheme for organizing National Education, that the
Universities and the Public Schools, as well as the Private and the
Elementary Schools, should be criticised; but, in dealing with the
former, his criticism is far less drastic and insistent than with the
latter. The reason of the difference probably is that, though an
Inspector, a Professor, and a critic, he was frankly human, and shrank
from laying his hand too roughly on institutions to which he himself had
owed so much.

His feeling for Oxford every one knows. The apostrophe to the "Adorable
Dreamer" is familiar to hundreds who could not, for their life, repeat
another line of his prose or verse. It was "the place he liked best in
the world." When he climbed the hill at Hinksey and looked down on
Oxford, he "could not describe the effect which this landscape always
has upon me--the hillside, with its valleys, and Oxford in the great
Thames Valley below."

Of the spiritual effect of the place upon hearts nurtured there, he
said: "We in Oxford, brought up amidst the beauty and sweetness of that
beautiful place, have not failed to seize one truth--the truth that
beauty and sweetness are essential characters of a complete human
perfection. When I insist on this, I am all in the faith and tradition
of Oxford."

Of the Honorary Degree conferred on him by Oxford, he said: "Nothing
could more gratify me, I think, than this recognition by my own
University, of which I am so fond, and where, according to their own
established standard of distinction, I did so little." And, after the
Encænia at which the degree was actually given, he wrote: "I felt sure I
should be well received, because there is so much of an Oxford character
about what I have written, and the undergraduates are the last people to
bear one a grudge for having occasionally chaffed them."

And here let me insert the moving passage in which, speaking in his
last years to an American audience, he did honour to the spiritual
master of his undergraduate days. "Forty years ago Cardinal Newman was
in the very prime of life; he was close at hand to us at Oxford; he was
preaching in St. Mary's pulpit every Sunday; he seemed about to
transform and to renew what was for us the most national and natural
institution in the world, the Church of England. Who could resist the
charm of that spiritual apparition, gliding in the dim afternoon light
through the aisles of St. Mary's, rising into the pulpit, and then, in
the most entrancing of voices, breaking the silence with words and
thoughts which were a religious music--subtle, sweet, mournful? I seem
to hear him still.... Or, if we followed him back to his seclusion at
Littlemore, that dreary village by the London road, and to the house of
retreat and the church which he built there--a mean house such as Paul
might have lived in when he was tent-making at Ephesus, a church plain
and thinly sown with worshippers--who could resist him there either,
welcoming back to the severe joys of Church-fellowship, and of daily
worship and prayer, the firstlings of a generation which had well-nigh
forgotten them?"

When we bear in mind this devotion to Oxford, it is not surprising that
he dealt very gently with the defects of English Universities. In 1868
he laid it down that the University ought to provide facilities, after
the general education is finished, for the cultivation of special
aptitudes. "Our great Universities," he said, "Oxford and Cambridge, do
next to nothing towards this end. They are, as Signor Mateucci called
them, _hauts lycées_; and, though invaluable in their way as places
where the youth of the upper class prolong to a very great age, and
under some very valuable influences, their school-education, yet, with
their college and tutor system, nay, with their examination and degree
system, they are still, in fact, _schools_, and do not carry education
beyond the stage of general and school education." This is just in the
spirit of his famous quotation about the Oxford which he loved so well--

    There are our young barbarians, all at play!

In 1875 he wrote: "I do not at all like the course for the History
School (at Oxford). Nothing but read, read, read, endless histories in
English, many of them by quite second-rate men; nothing to form the mind
as reading truly great authors forms it, or even to exercise it, as
learning a new language, or mathematics, or one of the natural sciences
exercises it.... The regulation of studies is all-important, and there
is no one to regulate them, and people think that anyone can regulate
them. We shall never do any good till we get a man like Guizot, or W.
von Humboldt to deal with the matter, men who have the highest mental
training themselves, and this we shall probably in this country never

In the wittiest of all his books, and one of the wisest, _Friendship's
Garland_,[10] he thus summarized the too-usual result of our "grand,
old, fortifying, classical curriculum." To his Prussian friend enquiring
what benefit Lord Lumpington and the Rev. Esau Hittall have derived from
that curriculum, that "course of mental gymnastics," the imaginary
Arnold replied: "Well, during their three years at Oxford, they were so
much occupied with Bullingdon and hunting that there was no great
opportunity to judge. But for my own part, I have always thought that
their both getting their degrees at last with flying colours, after
three weeks of a famous coach for fast men, four nights without going to
bed, and an incredible consumption of wet towels, strong cigars, and
brandy-and-water, was one of the most astonishing feats of mental
gymnastics I ever heard of!"

It must be admitted that his effect on the Universities was not very
tangible, not very positive. It was not the kind of effect which can be
expressed in figures or reported in Blue Books. One cannot stand in the
High Street of Oxford, or on King's Parade at Cambridge, and point to an
Institute, or a college, or a school of learning, and say: "Matthew
Arnold made that what it is."

His effect was of a different kind. It was written on the fleshly tables
of the heart. To Oxford men he seemed like an elder brother, brilliant,
playful, lovable, yet profoundly wise; teaching us what to think, to
admire, to avoid. His influence fell upon a thirsty and receptive soil.
We drank it with delight; and it co-operated with all the best
traditions of the place in making us lifelong lovers of romance, and
truth, and beauty. One of the keenest minds produced by Oxford between
1870 and 1880 thus summarized his effect on us: "I think he was almost
the only man who did not disappoint one."

[Illustration: Fox How, Ambleside

Dr. Thomas Arnold's holiday home.

Mrs. Arnold continued to reside at Fox How until her death, in 1873

_Photo Herbert Bell_]

As in dealing with the Universities, so also in dealing with the Public
Schools, Arnold found it difficult to liberate himself from his early
environment and prepossessions. He was the son of a Wykehamist, who had
become the greatest of Head Masters; he himself was both a Wykehamist
and a Rugbeian; he was the brother of three Rugbeians, and the father of
three Harrovians. Thus it was impossible for him to regard the Public
Schools of England with the dispassionate eye of the complete
outsider. It is true that, when he gave rein to his critical instinct,
he could not help observing that Public Schools are "precious
institutions where, for £250 a year, our boys learn gentlemanlike
deportment and cricket"; that with us "the playing-fields are the
school"; and that a Prussian Minister of Education would not permit "the
keepers of those absurd cock-pits" to examine the boys as they choose,
"and send them jogging comfortably off to the University on their lame
longs and shorts about the Calydonian Boar." But, when it came to
practical dealing, he had a tenderness for the "cock-pit"--even for the
playing-fields--almost for the Calydonian Boar--which hindered him from
being a very formidable or effective critic. Rugby, with which he was so
closely connected, and to which he was so much attached, owes nothing,
as far as one knows, to his suggestions or reproaches. At Harrow he
lived for five years, on terms of affectionate intimacy with the Head
Master and the staff; and, though he was keenly alive to the absurdities
of the "catch-scholarship," as he called it, which was cultivated there,
and to the inefficiency of the _Principia_ and _Notabilia_, on which the
Harrovian mind was nourished, his adverse judgment never made itself
felt. Marlborough he praised and admired as "a decided offspring of
Rugby." At Eton his fascinating essay on "Eutrapelia" was given;[11]
and he in turn was fascinated by the Memorials of "An Eton Boy," which
he reviewed in the _Fortnightly_ for June, 1882.[12] That boy, Arthur
Baskerville-Mynors, was certainly a most lovable and attractive
character, and he was thus commemorated in the Eton College Chronicle:
"His life here was always joyous, a fearless, keen boyhood, spent _sans
peur et sans reproche_. Many will remember him as fleet of foot and of
lasting powers, winning the mile and the steeplechase in 1871, and the
walking race in 1875. As master of the Beagles in 1875, he showed
himself to possess all the qualities of a keen sportsman, with an
instinctive knowledge of the craft." On this last sentence Arnold
fastened with his characteristic insistence, and used it to point the
moral which he was always trying to teach. The Barbarian, as "for
shortness we had accustomed ourselves to call" a member of the English
upper classes, even when "adult and rigid," had often "invaluable
qualities." "It is hard for him, no doubt, to enter into the Kingdom of
God--hard for him to believe in the sentiment of the ideal life
transforming the life which now is, to believe in it and even to serve
it--hard, but not impossible. And in the young the qualities take a
brighter colour, and the rich and magical time of youth adds graces of
its own to them; and then, in happy natures, they are irresistible."

And so he goes on to give a truly appreciative and affectionate sketch
of young Arthur Mynors; and then he quotes the sentence about the Master
of the Beagles, and on this he comments thus: "The aged Barbarian will,
upon this, admiringly mumble to us his story how the battle of Waterloo
was won in the playing-fields of Eton. Alas! disasters have been
prepared in those playing-fields as well as victories; disasters due to
inadequate mental training--to want of application, knowledge,
intelligence, lucidity. The Eton playing-fields have their great charm,
notwithstanding; but with what felicity of unconscious satire does that
stroke of 'the Master of the Beagles' hit off our whole system of
provision of public secondary schools; a provision for the fortunate and
privileged few, but for the many, for the nation, ridiculously
impossible!" This is his last word on the Public Schools, as that title
is conventionally understood. He had a much fuller and more searching
criticism for the schools in which the great Middle Class is educated.

It may perhaps be fairly questioned whether great humourists much enjoy
the humour of other people. If we apply this question to Arnold's case
and seek to answer it by his published works, we shall probably answer
in the negative. From first to last, he takes little heed of humorous
writers or humorous books. Even in those great authors who are masters
of all moods, it is the grave, rather than the humorous mood, which he
chooses for commendation. He was a devout Shakespearian, but it is
difficult to recall an allusion to Shakespeare's humour, except in the
rather oblique form of Dogberry as the type of German officialdom. Swift
he quoted with admirable effect, but it was Swift the reviler, not Swift
the jester. He says that he made a "wooden Oxford audience laugh aloud
with two pages of Heine's wit"; but the lecture, as we read it, shows
more of mordant sarcasm than of the material for laughter. Scott he knew
by heart, and Carlyle he honestly revered; but he admired the one for
his romance and the other for his philosophy. Thackeray, sad to
remember, he "did not think a great writer," and so Thackeray's humour
disappears, with his pathos and his satire, into the limbo of
common-place. The imaginary spokesman of the _Daily Telegraph_ in
_Friendship's Garland_ reckons as "the great masters of human thought
and human literature, Plato, Shakespeare, Confucius, and Charles
Dickens"; and there, to judge from the great bulk of his writing,
Arnold's acquaintance with Dickens begins and ends.

But it was one of his amiable traits that, whenever he read a book which
pleased him, he immediately began to share his pleasure with his
friends. In the year 1880, he writes to his colleague, Mr. Fitch, "I
have this year been reading _David Copperfield_ for the first time.[13]
Mr. Creakle's School at Blackheath is the type of our English Middle
Class Schools, and our Middle Class is satisfied that so it should be."

It would seem that he made this rather belated acquaintance with
Dickens' masterpiece, through reading it aloud to one of his children
who was laid up with a swelled face. But, however introduced to his
notice, the book made a deep impression on him. In the following June he
contributed to the _Nineteenth Century_ an article on Ireland styled
"The Incompatibles." In that article he suggests that the Irish dislike
of England arises in part from the fact that "the Irish do not much come
across our aristocracy, exhibiting that factor of civilization, the
power of manners, which has undoubtedly a strong attraction for them.
What they do come across, and what gives them the idea they have of our
civilization and its promise, is our Middle Class."

The mention, so frequent in his writings, of "our Middle Class," seems
to demand a definition; and, admitting that in this country the Middle
Class has no naturally defined limits, and that it is difficult to say
who properly belong to it and who do not, he adopts an educational test.
The Middle Class means the people who are brought up at a particular
kind of school, and to illustrate that kind of school he has recourse to
his newly-discovered treasure. "Much as I have published, I do not think
it has ever yet happened to me to comment in print upon any production
of Charles Dickens. What a pleasure to have the opportunity of praising
a work so sound, a work so rich in merit, as _David Copperfield_!... Of
the contemporary rubbish which is shot so plentifully all round us, we
can, indeed, hardly read too little. But to contemporary work so good as
_David Copperfield_ we are in danger of perhaps not paying respect
enough, of reading it (for who could help reading it?) too hastily, and
then putting it aside for something else and forgetting it. What
treasures of gaiety, invention, life, are in that book! what alertness
and resource! what a soul of good nature and kindness governing the
whole! Such is the admirable work which I am now going to call in
evidence. Intimately, indeed, did Dickens know the Middle Class; he was
bone of its bone and flesh of its flesh. Intimately he knew its
bringing-up. With the hand of a master he has drawn for us a type of the
teachers and trainers of its youth, a type of its places of education.
Mr. Creakle and Salem House are immortal. The type itself, it is to be
hoped, will perish; but the drawing of it which Dickens has given cannot
die. Mr. Creakle, the stout gentleman with a bunch of watch-chain and
seals, in an armchair, with the fiery face and the thick veins in his
forehead; Mr. Creakle sitting at his breakfast with the cane, and a
newspaper, and the buttered toast before him, will sit on, like Theseus,
for ever. For ever will last the recollection of Salem House, and of the
'daily strife and struggle' there; the recollection 'of the frosty
mornings when we were rung out of bed, and the cold, cold smell of the
dark nights when we were rung into bed again; of the evening schoolroom
dimly lighted and indifferently warmed, and the morning schoolroom which
was nothing but a great shivering-machine; of the alternation of boiled
beef with roast beef, and boiled mutton with roast mutton; of clods of
bread and butter, dog's-eared lesson-books, cracked slates, tear-blotted
copy-books, canings, rulerings, hair-cuttings, rainy Sundays, suet
puddings, and a dirty atmosphere of ink surrounding all.' By the Middle
Class I understand those who are brought up at establishments more or
less like Salem House, and by educators more or less like Mr. Creakle.
And the great mass of the Middle part of our community, the part which
comes between those who labour with their hands, on the one side, and
people of fortune on the other, is brought up at establishments of this
kind, although there is a certain portion broken off at the top which is
educated at better. But the great mass are both badly taught, and are
also brought up on a lower plane than is right, brought up ignobly. And
this deteriorates their standard of life, their civilization."

It surely must have been Salem House, or an institution very like it,
that produced the delicious letter quoted by Arnold in his General
Report for 1867. Even Mr. Anstey Guthrie never excelled it in the letter
dictated by Dr. Grimstone to his pupils at Crichton House.

     "MY DEAR PARENTS.--The anticipation of our Christmas
     vacation abounds in peculiar delights. Not only that its
     'festivities,' its social gatherings and its lively amusements
     crown the old year with happiness and mirth, but that I come a
     guest commended to your hospitable love by the performance of all
     you bade me remember when I left you in the glad season of sun and
     flowers. And time has sped fleetly since reluctant my departing
     step crossed the threshold of that home whose indulgences and
     endearments their temporary loss has taught me to value more and
     more. Yet that restraint is salutary, and that self-reliance is as
     easily learnt as it is laudable, the propriety of my conduct and
     the readiness of my services shall ere long aptly illustrate. It is
     with confidence I promise that the close of every year shall find
     me advancing in your regard by constantly observing the precepts of
     my excellent tutors and the example of my excellent parents.

     "We break up on Thursday, the 11th of December instant, and my
     impatience of the short delay will assure my dear parents of the
     filial sentiments of

     "Theirs very sincerely,


     "P.S. We shall reassemble on the 19th of January. Mr. and Mrs. P.
     present their respectful compliments."

The present writer lately asked a close observer of educational matters
if Arnold had produced any practical effect on Secondary Education, and
the answer was--"He pulled down the strongholds of such as Mr. Creakle."
If he did that, he did much; and it is a eulogy which he would have
greatly appreciated. Let us see how far it was deserved. Let us admit
at the outset that Mr. Squeers is dead; but then he was dead before
Arnold took in hand to reform our system of Education. Mr. Creakle, it
is to be feared, still exists, though his former assistant, the more
benign Mr. Mell, has to some extent supplanted him. Dr. Blimber is,
perhaps, a little superannuated, but still holds his own. Dr. Grimstone
is going strong and well. In a word, the Private School for bigger
boys--(we are not thinking of Preparatory Schools for little
boys)--still exists and even flourishes. Now, if Arnold could have had
his way, the Private School for bigger boys would long since have
disappeared. "Mr. Creakle's stronghold" would have been pulled down, and
Salem House and Crichton House and Lycurgus House Academy would have
crumbled into ruins.

And what would he have raised in their place? He wrote so often and so
variously about Education--now in official reports, now in popular
essays, now again in private letters, that it is not difficult to detect
some inconsistencies, some contradictions, some changes of view. Indeed,
it needs but the alteration of a single word to justify, at least to
some extent, the "damning sentence," which, according to Arnold, Mr.
Frederic Harrison "launched" against him in 1867. "We seek vainly in Mr.
A. a system of philosophy with principles coherent, interdependent,
subordinate, and derivative." For "Philosophy" read "Education," and the
reproach holds good. For in Education, as in everything else that he
touched, he proceeded rather by criticism than by dogma--by showing
faults in existing things rather than by theoretically constructing
perfection. Yet, after all said and done, his general view of the
subject is quite plain. He had in his mind an idea or scheme of what
National Education ought to be; and, though from time to time he changed
his view about details and methods, the general outline of his scheme is
clear enough.

One of the most characteristic passages which he ever wrote is that in
which he describes his interview in 1865 with Cardinal Antonelli, then
Secretary of State at Rome. "When he asked me what I thought of the
Roman schools, I said that, for the first time since I came on the
Continent, I was reminded of England. I meant, in real truth, that there
was the same easy-going and absence of system on all sides, the same
powerlessness and indifference of the State, the same independence in
single institutions, the same free course for abuses, the same
confusion, the same lack of all idea of _co-ordering_ things, as the
French say--that is, of making them work fitly together to a fit end;
the same waste of power, therefore the same extravagance, and the same
poverty of result."

Enlarging on this congenial theme, and applying it to England and
English requirements, he promulged in 1868 a very revolutionary scheme
for Public Education. At the apex of the pyramid there should be a
Minister of Education. "Merely for administrative convenience he is,
indeed, indispensable. But it is even more important to have _a centre
in which to fix responsibility_." In 1886 he said to the teachers at
Westminster, "I know the Duke of Richmond told the House of Lords that,
as Lord President, he was Minister of Education--(laughter)--but really
the Duke of Richmond's sense of humour must have been slumbering when he
told the House of Lords that. A man is not Minister of Education by
taking the name, but by doing the functions. (Cheers.) To do the
functions he must put his mind to the subject of education; and so long
as Lord Presidents are what they are, and education is what it is, a
Lord President will not be a man who puts his mind to the subject of
education. A Vice-President is not, on the Lord President's own showing,
and cannot be, Minister for Education. He cannot be made responsible for
faults and neglects. Now what we want in a Minister for Education is
this--a centre where we can fix the responsibility." This great and
responsible officer, who presumably was to be a Cabinet Minister and
change with the changes of administration, was to preside over the whole
education of the country. The Universities, the Public Schools, the
Middle-Class Schools, and the Elementary Schools were all to be, in
greater or less degree, subject to his sway. The Minister was to be
assisted by a Council of Education, "comprising, without regard to
politics, the personages most proper to be heard on questions of public
education." It was to be, like the Council at the India Office,
consultative only, but the Minister was to be bound to take its opinion
on all important measures. It should be the special duty of this Council
to advise on the graduation of schools, on the organization of
examinations both in the schools and in the Universities, and to adjust
them to one another. The Universities were not to be increased in
number, but all such anomalous institutions as King's College and
University College were to be co-ordinated to the existing Universities;
and the Universities were to establish "faculties" in great centres of
population, supply professors and lecturers, and then examine and confer
degrees. Then the country should be mapped out into eight or ten
districts, and each of these districts should have a Provincial
School-Board, which should "represent the State in the country," keep
the Minister informed of local requirements, and be the organ of
communication between him and the schools in its jurisdiction. The exact
amount of interference, inspection, and control which the Minister, the
Council, and the Boards should exercise should vary in accordance with
the grade of the schools: it should be greater in the elementary
schools, less in the higher. But, in their degree, all, from Eton
downwards, were to be subject to it. Then came the most revolutionary
part of the whole scheme. Mr. Creakle and his congeners were to be
abolished. They were not to be put to a violent death, but they were to
be starved out. The whole face of the country is studded with small
grammar-schools or foundation-schools, like knots in a network; and
these schools, enlarged and reformed, were to be the ordinary
training-places of the Middle Class. Where they did not exist, similar
schools were to be created by the State--"Royal or Public Schools"--and
these, like all the rest, were to be subject to the Minister and to the
Provincial Boards. Arnold contended that ancient schools so revived, and
modern schools so constituted, would have a dignity and a status such as
no private school could attain, and would be free from the
pretentiousness and charlatanism which he regarded as the bane of
private education. The inspection and control of these Public Schools
would be in the hands of competent officers of the State, whereas the
private school is appraised only by the vulgar and uneducated class that
feeds it.

And so, descending from the Universities through Public Schools of two
grades, we touch the foundation of the whole edifice--the Elementary
Schools. On this all-important topic, he wrote in 1868: "About popular
education I have here but a very few words to say. People are at last
beginning to see in what condition this really is amongst us. Obligatory
instruction is talked of. But what is the capital difficulty in the way
of obligatory instruction, or indeed any national system of instruction,
in this country? It is this: that the moment the working class of this
country have this question of instruction brought home to them, their
self-respect will make them demand, like the working classes of the
Continent, _Public_ Schools, and not schools which the clergyman, or the
squire, or the mill-owner calls "my school." And again: "The object
should be to draw the existing Elementary Schools from their present
private management, and to reconstitute them on a municipal basis."

That word which he italicized--_public_--is the key to his whole system.
The whole education of the country was to be Public. The Universities,
already "public" in the sense that they are not private ventures, were
to be made public in the sense that they were to be supervised and to
some extent regulated by the State. The Public Schools, traditionally
so-called, were to be made more really public by being brought under the
Minister and the School-Boards. The lesser foundation-schools were to be
made public by a redistribution of their revenues and a reconstruction
of their system; and new schools, public by virtue of their creation,
were to be put alongside of the older ones. So schools of private
venture would be eliminated. And thus the whole elementary education of
the country was to be taken out of the hands of societies or
individuals, and was to be organized and conducted by the officials of
the State. Finally, all four (or three, as you choose to reckon them)
grades of public education were to be co-ordinated with one another and
subordinated to a chief Minister of State presiding over a great

[Illustration: The House of the Rev. John Buckland, at Laleham

Where Matthew Arnold went to school from 1830-1836.

The Rev. John Buckland was his maternal Uncle

_Photo Ralph Lane_]

Here was a scheme of National Education, clear enough in its general
outlines, and sufficiently far-reaching in its scope. But its author,
promulging it thirty-five years ago, saw one "capital difficulty" in the
way of realizing it, and he stated the difficulty thus: "The Public
School for the people must rest upon the municipal organization of the
country. In France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the public
elementary school has, and exists by having, the Commune, and the
Municipal Government of the Commune, as its foundations, and it could
not exist without them. But we in England have our municipal
organization state to get; the country districts, with us, have at
present only the feudal and ecclesiastical organization of the Middle
Ages, or of France before the Revolution.... The real preliminary to an
effective system of popular education is, in fact, to provide the
country with an effective municipal organization."

It would be impossible, unless one could trace the mental processes of
the Bishop of Rochester, Mr. Arthur Balfour, Sir John Gorst, and other
eminent persons who had a hand in constructing the Education Acts of
1892 and 1893, to say how far the system now in existence owes any of
its features to the influence of Matthew Arnold. It is the lot of great
thoughts to fall upon very different kinds of soil; to be trodden under
foot by one set of enemies, and carried away by another; and yet
sometimes to find a congenial lodgment, and after long years to spring
into life and manifest themselves in very unexpected quarters. So it may
well have been with Arnold's educational theories. Certainly during the
last five-and-thirty years people have come to regard Education in all
its branches as far more a matter of public concern, far less a matter
of private venture, than formerly. More and more we have come to see
that the State and the Municipality, in their respective areas, have
something to say on the matter. The idea of the Golden Ladder, having
its base in the Elementary Schools and its top rung in the highest
honours of the University, has taken hold of the public mind, and has
passed out of the region of abstractions into practical life.
Institutions of Local Government have developed themselves on the lines
desiderated by Arnold in 1868. The subordination of education to
municipal authority is a new and a risky experiment, but it is exactly
the experiment which he wished to see. The resuscitation of the
Edwardian and Elizabethan Grammar Schools all over the country has
brought the notion of the Public School to the very door of the Middle
Class, and has shaken, if it has not yet destroyed, Mr. Creakle's
stronghold. Even in the matter of Denominational Education in the
Elementary Schools, where many deem that a retrograde step has been
taken, the State has acted on a hint which Arnold gave to the extreme
reformers of his time.

"Most English Liberals," he said, "seem persuaded that our Elementary
Schools should be undenominational, and their teaching secular; and that
with a public elementary school it cannot well be otherwise. Let them
clearly understand, however, that on the Continent generally--everywhere
except in Holland--the public elementary school is denominational (of
course with what we should call a 'conscience clause') and its teaching
religious as well as secular."

In one important respect the State, which has so often adopted his
views, at once outstripped and fell short of his ideal. He was not a
strong or undiscriminating advocate for Compulsory Education. He
believed that, in the foreign countries where compulsion obtained, it
was not the cause, but the effect, of a national feeling for education.
When a people set a high value on knowledge, they would insist that
every child should have a chance of acquiring it. But you could not
create that high value by compelling people to send their children to
school. As late as the end of the year 1869, he seems to have feared
that any legislation which hindered a child from working for its own or
its parents' support would be highly unpopular and would be evaded. "A
law of direct compulsion on the parent and child would probably be
violated every day in practice; and, so long as this is the case, a law
levelled at the employer is preferable."

But when those words were written, compulsion was near at hand. The
Parliament of 1868-1874--the first elected by a democratic
suffrage--was intent on Reform, and the right of a father to starve his
child's mind was strenuously denied. Forster, then Vice-President of the
Council, was charged with the duty of preparing a Bill to establish
Compulsory Education. Arnold was Forster's brother-in-law, and "heard
the contents" of the Bill in November, 1869. When in the following
February it was brought in, he wrote: "I think William's Bill will do
very well. I am glad it is so little altered"; and, after the Second
Reading, he wrote: "The majority on the Education Bill is a great
relief; it will now, if William has tolerable luck, get through safely
this session." By this time, therefore, he must have become a convert to
the system of compulsion. Perhaps he regarded the demand for the Bill as
a proof that the English people were at length waking up to a sense of
the value of Education. But, while the State thus outstripped his ideal
by establishing compulsion, it fell short of his ideal by severely
limiting the area of the population to which compulsion was to apply.
Again and again he warned his countrymen, then unaccustomed to the
practical working of Compulsory Education, that it would be intolerable,
unjust, and absurd if it were applied only to the children of the poor.
He contended that the Upper and Middle Classes were every bit as much
in need of a compulsory system, if their children were to be properly
educated, as the working classes for whom it was proposed to legislate.
This theme he illustrated, with the most exuberant fun and fancy, in a
letter addressed to the _Pall Mall Gazette_ in 1867, and afterwards
republished in _Friendship's Garland_. Arminius, the cultivated
Prussian, accompanies his English friend to Petty Sessions in a country
town, and is horrified by the degraded plight of an old peasant who is
tried for poaching. The English friend (the imaginary Arnold) says that
for his own part he is not so much concerned about the poacher as about
his children. They are being allowed to grow up anyhow. Really he thinks
the time has come when compulsion must be applied to the education of
children of this class. "The gap between them and our educated and
intelligent classes is really too frightful."

"_Your educated and intelligent classes_," sneered Arminius, in his most
offensive manner--"where are they? I should like to see them." The
English friend, thus rudely challenged, leads the Prussian into the
justice-room, where they find on the Bench three excellent specimens of
education and intelligence--Lord Lumpington, the Rev. Esau Hittall, and
Mr. Bottles. Arminius insists on knowing their qualifications for the
post of magistrate. He begins by defining the principle of Compulsory
Education. "It means that to ensure, as far as you can, every man's
being fit for his business in life, you put education as a bar, or
condition, between him and what he aims at. The principle is just as
good for one class as another, and it is only by applying it impartially
that you save its application from being insolent and invidious.... You
propose to make old Diggs' boys instruct themselves before they go
bird-scaring or sheep-tending. I want to know what you do to make those
three worthies in that justice-room instruct themselves before they may
go acting as magistrates and judges?"

The imaginary Arnold replies that Lord Lumpington was at Eton, and Mr.
Hittall at Charterhouse, and Mr. Bottles at Lycurgus House Academy,
Peckham. But Arminius insists that to send boys of the wealthy classes
to school is nothing--the natural course of things takes them there.
"Don't suppose that, by doing this, you are applying the principle of
Compulsory Education fairly, and as you apply it to Diggs' boys. You are
not interposing, for the rich, education as a bar or condition between
them and what they aim at.

"In my country," he went on, "we should have begun to put a pressure on
those future magistrates at school. Before we allowed Lord Lumpington
and Mr. Hittall to go to the University at all, we should have examined
them.... There would have been some Mr. Grote as School Board
Commissary, pitching into them questions about history, and some Mr.
Lowe, as Crown Patronage Commissary, pitching into them questions about
English literature; and these young men would have been kept from the
University, as Diggs' boys are kept from their bird-scaring, till they
had instructed themselves. Then, if, after three years of their
University, they wanted to be magistrates, another pressure!--a great
Civil Service Examination before a Board of Experts, an examination in
English law, Roman law, English history, history of jurisprudence."

"A most abominable liberty to take with Lumpington and Hittall," says

"Then your compulsory education is a most abominable liberty to take
with Diggs' boys," retorted Arminius.... "Oh, but," I answered, "to live
at all, even at the lowest stage of human life, a man needs
instruction." "Well," returns Arminius, "and to administer at all, even
at the lowest stage of public administration, a man needs instruction."

"_We have never found it so_," I said.

The same argument was urged, in a graver fashion, in _Schools and
Universities of the Continent_.

"In the view of the English friends of compulsory education, the
educated and intelligent Middle and Upper Classes amongst us are to
confer the boon of compulsory education upon the ignorant lower class,
which needs it while they do not. But, on the Continent, instruction is
obligatory for Lower, Middle, and Upper Class alike. I doubt whether our
educated and intelligent classes are at all prepared for this. I have an
acquaintance in easy circumstances, of distinguished connexions, living
in a fashionable part of London, who, like many other people, deals
rather easily with his son's schooling. Sometimes the boy is at school,
then for months together he is away from school, and taught, so far as
he is taught, by his father and mother at home. He is not the least an
invalid, but it pleases his father and mother to bring him up in this
manner. Now, I imagine, no English friends of compulsory education dream
of dealing with such a defaulter as this, and certainly his father, who
perhaps is himself a friend of compulsory education for the working
classes, would be astounded to find his education of his own son
interfered with. But, if my worthy acquaintance lived in Switzerland or
Germany, he would be dealt with as follows. I speak with the school-law
of Canton Neufchatel, immediately under my eyes, but the regulations on
this matter are substantially the same in all the states of Germany and
of German Switzerland. The Municipal Education Committee of the district
where my acquaintance lived would address a summons to him, informing
him that a comparison of the school-rolls of their district with the
municipal list of children of school-age, showed his son not to be at
school; and requiring him, in consequence, to appear before the
Municipal Committee at a place and time named, and there to satisfy
them, either that his son did attend some public school, or that, if
privately taught, he was taught by duly trained and certificated
teachers. On the back of the summons, my acquaintance would find printed
the penal articles of the School-Law, sentencing him to a fine if he
failed to satisfy the Municipal Committee; and, if he failed to pay the
fine, or was found a second time offending, to imprisonment. In some
Continental States he would be liable, in case of repeated infraction of
the School-Law, to be deprived of his parental rights, and to have the
care of his son transferred to guardians named by the State. It is
indeed terrible to think of the consternation and wrath of our educated
and intelligent classes under a discipline like this; and I should not
like to be the man to try and impose it on them. But I assure them most
emphatically--and if they study the experience of the Continent they
will convince themselves of the truth of what I say--that only on these
conditions of its equal and universal application is any law of
compulsory education possible."

We have now seen, at least in general outline, the system of National
Education which he would have wished to set up--how he would have
co-ordinated all instruction from the lowest to the highest, and how he
would have compelled all classes alike to submit their children, and in
the higher ranks of life to submit themselves, to the training which
should best equip them for their chosen or appointed work. We must now
enquire what sort of knowledge he would have endeavoured, by his
co-ordinated system, to impart.

He laid it down, more than once, that the aim of culture was "to know
ourselves and the world," and that, as the means to this end, we ought
"to know the best which has been thought and said in the world." He
recognized, candidly and fully, the claims of the physical sciences, and
their use and value in Education. For example, in advising about the
instruction of a little girl, in whom her teacher wished to arouse
"perception," he said, "You had much better take some science--(botany
is perhaps the best for a girl) and, choosing a good handbook, go
through it regularly with her.... The verification of the laws of
grammar, in the examples furnished by one's reading, is certainly a far
less fruitful stimulus of one's powers of observation and comparison,
than the verification of the laws of a science like botany in the
examples furnished by the world of nature before one's eyes."

But in spite of this, and of similar concessions, he deliberately held
the opinion that Literature, rather than Science, was the chief agent in
culture. In 1872 he wrote to an enquirer: "A single line of poetry,
working in the mind, may produce more thought and lead to more light,
which is what man wants, than the fullest acquaintance (to take your own
instance) with the processes of digestion." In 1884 he said to his
American audience: "My own studies have been almost wholly in Letters,
and my visits to the field of the natural sciences have been very slight
and inadequate, although those sciences have always strongly moved my
curiosity." In a word, he was, and gloried in being, a Humanist. What
Humanism meant for him is curiously illustrated by his comment on some
speeches which the late[14] Lord Salisbury delivered at Oxford on his
first appearance there as Chancellor of the University. After praising
his skill and courtesy, Arnold says: "He is a dangerous man, through,
and chiefly from, his want of any true sense and experience of
literature and its beneficent function. Religion he knows, and physical
science he knows; but the immense work between the two, which is for
literature to accomplish, he knows nothing of; and all his speeches at
Oxford[15] pointed this way. On the one hand, he was full of the great
future for physical science, and begging his University to make up her
mind to it, and to resign much of her literary studies; on the other
hand, he was full, almost defiantly full, of counsels and resolves for
retaining and upholding the old ecclesiastical and dogmatic form of
religion. From a juxtaposition of this kind, nothing but shocks and
collisions can come."

_The immense work which is for literature to accomplish._ This work,
lying between the work of Religion and the work of Science, was, in his
view, nothing less than the culture of Humanity. Religion had its
sphere, and Science had its sphere, but culture was to be effected
neither by Religion nor by Science, but by Literature. The literature
which he extolled was literature in its widest sense--ancient and
modern, English and Continental, Occidental and Oriental--whatever
contained "the best which had been thought and said in the world." And,
when we come to the sub-divisions of literature, we note that he was
pre-eminently a classicist. This he was partly by temperament, partly by
training, partly by his matured and deliberate judgment. It can scarcely
be doubted that he had an innate love of perfect form, an innate
"sentiment against hideousness and rawness," and so he was a classicist
by temperament. Then his training was essentially classical. He used to
protest, with amusing earnestness, against the notion that his father
had been a bad scholar. "People talk the greatest nonsense about my
father's scholarship. The Wykehamists of his day were excellent
scholars. Dr. Gabell made them so. My father's Latin verses were not
good; but that was because he was not poetical--not because he was a bad
scholar. But he wrote the most admirable Latin prose; and, as for his
Greek prose, you couldn't tell it from Thucydides." In this kind of
scholarship Matthew Arnold was nurtured; and whatever in this respect
his training had left imperfect, he perfected by close and continuous
study. His Greek and Latin reading was both wide and accurate, perhaps
wider in Greek than in Latin, though the soundness of his Latin
scholarship is proved by the fact that he was _proxime_ for the Hertford
Scholarship at Oxford. He had read Plato in the Sixth Form at Rugby, and
Oxford taught him Aristotle. From first to last his "unapproachable
favourites" were Homer and Sophocles, and Hesiod was "a Greek friend to
whom he turned with excellent effect." But though he was thus
essentially a classicist, a mere classicist he was not. No one had a
wider, a more familiar, a more discriminating knowledge of English
literature; no one--and this is worthy of remark--had the text of the
Bible more perfectly at his fingers' ends. He had read all that was best
in French, German, and Italian;[16] and in French at any rate he was an
exact and judicious critic, as is sufficiently shown by his essay on
_The French Play in London_.[17] Hebrew he mastered sufficiently to
"follow and weigh the reasons offered by others" for a retranslation of
the Old Testament; and into Celtic literature he made at any rate one
memorable incursion.[18]

A man so equipped was essentially a man of letters: a great deal more
than a classicist, but a classicist first and foremost. And so it was
natural that he should think a classical education the best education
that could be offered to boys, and should desire to see classics, taught
in a literary and not a pedantic spirit, the staple of instruction in
all those Public Schools, whether of ancient or of modern foundation,
to which the Upper and Middle Classes should resort. He was perfectly
ready to make composition in Greek and Latin the luxury of the few who
had a special aptitude for it, therein following the doctrine of Dr.
Whewell, and leading the way to a notable reform in Public Schools. But
to read the best Latin and Greek authors was to be the staple of a boy's
education, and thereto were to be added a full and scholarly knowledge
of English, and a sufficiency, such as modern life demands, of Science
and Mathematics. He "ventured once, in the very Senate-House and heart
of Cambridge, to hazard the opinion that for the majority of mankind a
little of mathematics goes a long way." He thought it no particular gain
for a boy to know that "when a taper burns, the wax is converted into
carbonic acid and water." He thought it a clear loss that he should not
know the last book of the _Iliad_, or the sixth book of the _Æneid_, or
the _Agamemnon_. He encouraged the Eton boys to laugh at "Scientific
lectures, and lessons on the diameter of the sun and moon"; but he was
moved almost to tears when "Can you not wait upon the lunatic?" was
offered as a paraphrase of "Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased?"
He listened with amused interest to the teachers who deduced our descent
from "a hairy quadruped furnished with a tail and pointed ears,
probably arboreal in his habits." But he thought it deplorable that a
leading physicist should never have heard of Bishop Wilson of Sodor and
Man, and that a leading journalist should confound him with Bishop
Wilson of Calcutta.

To the Public Schools he would have entrusted that thorough drilling in
Greek, Latin and English which was to be the foundation of the pupils'
culture; and, this done, he would have required the University to offer
scope for the fullest development of any special aptitude which the
pupil might display. In brief, the school was to train in general
knowledge; the University was to specialize. In 1868 he wrote: "An
admirable English mathematician told me that he should never recover the
loss of the two years which after his degree he wasted without fit
instruction at an English University, when he ought to have been under
superior instruction, for which the present University course in England
makes no provision. I daresay he _will_ recover it, for a man of genius
counts no worthy effort too hard; but who can estimate the loss to the
mental training and intellectual habits of the country, from the
absence--so complete that it needs genius to be sensible of it, and
costs genius an effort to repair it--of all regular public provision
for the scientific study and teaching of any branch of knowledge?"

[Illustration: Rugby

Matthew Arnold entered Rugby School in August, 1837, living under his
father's roof at the School-house.

He left Rugby for Oxford in June, 1841

_Photo H.W. Taunt_]

But these larger views of education belong, after all, to the region of
theory, and he never had the opportunity, except very indirectly, of
putting them into practice. With the Elementary Schools he dealt
practically, officially, and directly; but even here, as in so many
other departments, his influence was rather critical than constructive.
He had only an imperfect sympathy with "that somewhat terrible
character, the scientific educator." A brother-inspector says that, "if
he saw little children looking good and happy, and under the care of a
kindly and sympathetic teacher, he would give a favourable report,
without enquiring too curiously into the percentage of scholars who
could pass the 'standard' examination." There must be many who still
remember with amused affection his demeanour in an Elementary School.
They see the tall figure, at once graceful and stately; the benign air,
as of an affable archangel; the critical brow and enquiring eyeglass
bent on some very immature performance in penmanship or needlework; and
the frightened children and the anxious teacher, gradually lapsing into
smiles and peace, as the great man tested the proficiency in some such
humble art as spelling. "Well, my little man, and how do you spell
_dog_?" "Please sir, _d-o-g_." "Capital, very good indeed. I couldn't
do it better myself. And now let us go a little further, and see if we
can spell _cat_." (Chorus excitedly.) "C-A-T." "Now, this is
really excellent. (To the teacher.) You have brought them on wonderfully
in spelling since I was here last. You shall have a capital report.
Good-bye." To those who cherish these memories there is nothing
surprising in this tribute by a friend: "His effect on the teachers when
he examined a school was extraordinary. He was sympathetic without being
condescending, and he reconciled the humblest drudge in a London school
to his or her drudgery for the next twelve months."

As regards the matter of education, he was all for Reality, as against
Pretentiousness, "the stamp of plainness and freedom from charlatanism."
He had no notion that children could be humanized by being made to read
that "the crocodile is oviparous," or that "summer ornaments for grates
are made of wood shavings and of different coloured papers." He wished
that the youngest and poorest children should be nurtured on the
wholesome and delicious food of actual literature, instead of
"skeletons" and "abstracts." He set great store on learning poetry by
heart, for he believed in poetry as the chief instrument of culture. He
poured just contempt upon the wretched doggerel which in school
reading-books too often passed for poetry. "When one thinks how noble
and admirable a thing genuine popular poetry is, it is provoking to
think that such rubbish should be palmed off on a poor child, with any
apparent sanction from the Education Department and its grants."

With regard to the special evil of teaching poetry by "selections" or
"extracts," he wrote in his Report for 1880: "That the poetry chosen
should have real beauties of expression and feeling, that these beauties
should be such as the children's hearts and minds can lay hold of, and
that a distinct point or centre of beauty and interest should occur
within the limits of the passage learned--all these are conditions to be
insisted on. Some of the short pieces by Mrs. Hemans, such as 'The
Graves of a Household,' 'The Homes of England,' 'The Better Land,' are
to be recommended because they fulfil all three conditions; they have
real merits of expression and sentiment; the merits are such as the
children can feel, and the centre of interest, these pieces being so
short, necessarily occurs within the limits of what is learnt. On the
other hand, in extracts taken from Scott or Shakespeare, the point of
interest is not often reached within the hundred lines which is all that
children in the Fourth Standard learn. The Judgment Scene in the
_Merchant of Venice_ affords me a good example of what I mean.... The
children in the Fourth Standard begin at the beginning and stop at the
end of a hundred lines. Now the children in the Fourth Standard are
often a majority of the children learning poetry, and this is all their
poetry for the year. But within these hundred lines the real interest of
the situation is not reached; neither do they contain any poetry of
signal beauty and effectiveness. How little, therefore, has the
poetry-exercise been made to do for these children, many of whom will
leave school at once, and learn no more poetry!" He greatly favoured all
such exercises as tend to make the mind "creative," and give it "a
native play of its own, as against such exercises as learning strings of
promontories, battles, and minerals." As to the number of subjects
taught, he was in favour of few rather than many. He dreaded for the
children the strain of having to receive a large number of "knowledges"
(as he oddly called them), and "store them up to be reproduced in an
examination." But in spite of this well-founded dread of an undue
multiplication of subjects, he wished to make Latin compulsory in the
upper standards of elementary schools, and he wished to see it taught
through the Vulgate. Perhaps in this particular he showed an effect of
his father's influence; for the late Dean of Westminster[19] used to
imitate the enormous emphasis with which Dr. Arnold replied to some one
who had depreciated the language of the Vulgate as "Dog Latin"--"_Dog
Latin_, indeed! I call it _Lion Latin_!"

Be that as it may, Matthew Arnold thus gave his judgment on the possible
uses of the Vulgate in elementary schools--

"Latin is the foundation of so much in the written and spoken language
of modern Europe, that it is the best language to take as a second
language; in our own written and book language, above all, it fills so
large a part that we perhaps hardly know how much of their reading falls
meaningless upon the eye and ear of children in our elementary schools,
from their total ignorance of either Latin or a modern language derived
from it. For the little of languages that can be taught in our
elementary schools, it is far better to go to the root at once; and
Latin, besides, is the best of all languages to learn grammar by. But it
should by no means be taught as in our classical schools; far less time
should be spent on the grammatical framework, and classical literature
should be left quite out of view. A second language, and a language
coming very largely into the vocabulary of modern nations, is what Latin
should stand for to the teacher of an elementary school. I am convinced
that for his purpose the best way would be to disregard classical Latin
entirely, to use neither Cornelius Nepos, nor Eutropius, nor Cæsar, nor
any _delectus_ from them, but to use the Latin Bible, the Vulgate. A
chapter or two from the story of Joseph, a chapter or two from
Deuteronomy, and the first two chapters of St. Luke's Gospel would be
the sort of delectus we want; add to them a vocabulary and a simple
grammar of the main forms of the Latin language, and you have a
perfectly compact and cheap school book, and yet all that you need. In
the extracts the child would be at home, instead of, as in extracts from
classical Latin, in an utterly strange land; and the Latin of the
Vulgate, while it is real and living Latin, is yet, like the Greek of
the New Testament, much nearer to modern idiom, and therefore much
easier for a modern learner than classical idiom can be. True, a child
whose delectus is taken from Cornelius Nepos or Cæsar will be better
prepared perhaps for going on to Virgil and Cicero than a child whose
delectus is taken from the Vulgate. But we do not want to carry our
elementary schools into Virgil or Cicero; one child in five thousand,
with a special talent, may go on to higher schools, and to Virgil, and
he will go on to them all the better for the little we have at any rate
given him. But what we want to give to our Elementary Schools in
general is the vocabulary, to some extent, of a second language, and
that language one which is at the bottom of a great deal of modern life
and modern language. This, I am convinced, we may give in some such
method as the method I have above suggested, but in no other."

There is, perhaps, no more interesting or more characteristic feature of
his doctrine about elementary schools than his insistence, early and
late, on a close and familiar acquaintance with the Bible. "Chords of
power," he said, "are touched by this instruction which no other part of
the instruction in a popular school reaches, and chords various, not the
single religious chord only. The Bible is for the child in an elementary
school almost his only contact with poetry and philosophy. What a course
of eloquence and poetry (to call it by that name alone) is the Bible in
a school which has and can have but little eloquence and poetry! and how
much do our elementary schools lose by not having any such course as
part of their school programme! All who value the Bible may rest assured
that thus to know and possess the Bible is the most certain way to
extend the power and efficacy of the Bible."

The spiritual sense, the doctrinal and dogmatic import, of Holy
Scripture lay, in his judgment, quite outside the scope of the School.
"The Bible's application and edification belong to the Church; its
literary and historical substance to the School." He saw clearly the
manifold and conflicting perils to which a simple love and knowledge of
the Bible were exposed the moment that exegesis began to play about it.
He pointed out that Cardinal Newman interpreted the words, _I will lay
thy stones with fair colours and thy foundations with sapphires_, as
authorizing "the sumptuosities of the Church of Rome"; and to
Protestants who said that this was a wrong use of the passage he pointed
out that their similar use of the Beast and the Scarlet Woman and
Antichrist would seem equally wrong to Cardinal Newman; "and in these
cases of application who shall decide"? What he insisted on was the
value of the Bible as a beautiful and ennobling literature, easily
accessible to all. He would have it taught with intelligence, sympathy,
reverence, and, above all, "as a Literature,"--for biblical teaching
ought to show the widely varying elements of which the Bible is
composed: the profound differences, not merely of authorship and style,
but of tone and temper, between one book and another; the historical
circumstances under which each came into being; the section of humanity
and the period of time to which each made its appeal.

In 1869 he wrote in his Annual Report--

"Let the school managers make the main outlines of Bible history, and
the getting by heart a selection of the finest Psalms, the most
interesting passages from the historical and prophetical books of the
Old Testament, and the chief parables, discourses, and exhortations, of
the New, a part of the regular school work, to be submitted to
inspection and to be seen in its strength or weakness like any other.
This could raise no jealousies; or, if it still raises some, let a
sacrifice be made of them for the sake of the end in view. Some will say
that what we propose is but a small use to put the Bible to; yet it is
that on which all higher use of the Bible is to be built, and its
adoption is the only chance for saving the one elevating and inspiring
element in the scanty instruction of our primary schools from being
sacrificed to a politico-religious difficulty. There was no Greek school
in which Homer was not read; cannot our popular schools, with their
narrow range and their jejune alimentation in secular literature, do as
much for the Bible as the Greek schools did for Homer?"

In 1870 he wrote about a book[20] by two young Jewish ladies: "I am sure
it will be found, as I told them, that their book meets a real want;
there were good books about the Bible for the learned, and there were
bad books about it--that is to say, bad _résumés_ of its history and
literature--for the general public; but anything like a good and sound
_résumé_ for the general public did not exist till this book came."

It is interesting to observe that to his deep conviction of the ethical
and educational value of the Bible is due his only direct and
constructive effort to enrich the apparatus of the schools which he
inspected. Of improvement by way of criticism and suggestion he gave
them enough and to spare, but to supply them with a new reading-book was
a departure from his usual method. Nevertheless in 1872 he wrote: "An
ounce of practice, they say, is better than a pound of theory; and
certainly one may talk for ever about the wonder-working power of
Letters, and yet produce no good at all, unless one really puts people
in the way of feeling their power. The friends of Physics do not content
themselves with extolling Physics; they put forth school-books by which
the study of Physics may be with proper advantage brought near to those
who before were strangers to it; and they do wisely. For any one who
believes in the civilizing power of Letters, and often talks of this
belief, to think that he has for more than twenty years got his living
by inspecting schools for the people, has gone in and out among them,
has seen that the power of Letters never reaches them at all, and that
the whole study of Letters is thereby discredited, and its power called
in question, and yet has attempted nothing to remedy this state of
things, cannot but be vexing and disquieting. He may truly say, like the
Israel of the prophet, 'We have not wrought any deliverance in the
earth'! and he may well desire to do something to pay his debt to
popular education before he finally departs, and to serve it, if he can,
in that point where its need is sorest, where he has always said its
need was sorest, and where, nevertheless, it is as sore still as when he
began saying this twenty years ago. Even if what he does cannot be of
service at once, owing to special prejudices and difficulties, yet these
prejudices and difficulties years are almost sure to dissipate, and the
work may be of service hereafter."

These wise, though rather melancholy, words occur in the Preface to a
little book called _A Bible Reading for Schools_, and in its fuller and
alternative title, _The Great Prophecy of Israel's Restoration, Arranged
and Edited for Young Learners_. Arnold, himself a constant and attentive
student of Holy Writ, "liked reading his Bible without being baffled by
unmeaningnesses." He complained that "the fatal thing about our version
is that it so often spoils a chapter in the Old Testament by making
sheer nonsense out of one or two verses, and so throwing the reader
out." He habitually used a Bible--a present from his godfather, John
Keble--"where the numbers of the chapters are marked at the side and do
not interpose a break between chapter and chapter; and where the
divisions of the verses, being numbered in like manner at the side of
the page, not in the body of the verse, and being numbered in very small
type, do not thrust themselves forcibly on the attention," and these
circumstances suggested the form of his _Bible Reading for Schools_. The
little book consists of the last twenty-seven chapters of Isaiah,
running on continuously, with some twenty pages of notes, and he thus
introduces it--

"At the very outset, the humbleness of what is professed in this little
book cannot be set forth too strongly. With the aim of enabling English
school children to read as a connected whole the last twenty-seven
chapters of Isaiah, without being frequently stopped by passages of
which the meaning is almost or quite unintelligible, I have sought to
choose, among the better meanings which have been offered for each of
the passages, that which seemed the best, and to weave it into the
authorized text in such a manner as not to produce any sense of
strangeness or interruption." The attempt was truly laudable, and the
execution admirable for taste and ease. The majestic flow and cadence of
the traditional English are never interrupted. There is no concession to
such pedantries as Professor Robertson Smith's "greaves of the warrior
that stampeth in the fray," or such barbarisms as Professor Cheynes'
"boot of him that trampleth noisily." But here and there a turn is given
to a sentence, which for the first time reveals its true meaning; here
and there a word which really represents the Hebrew is substituted for
one which makes nonsense of the sentence.

The little book has often been reprinted; but as "A Bible Reading for
Schools" it failed, as, to judge by his own melancholy words about it,
he seems to have foreseen that it would fail. People who have charge of
Elementary Education in England, whether in Church Schools or in Board
Schools, are eminently and rightly suspicious about new views in
religion; and _The Great Prophecy of Israel's Restoration_ gave currency
to a view which in 1872 was probably new to most School Managers and
School Boards. He carefully disclaimed any intention to decide the
authorship of the chapters which he edited. But the fact that they were
detached from the earlier ones might perhaps raise questions in
enquiring minds; and in the preface he stated his personal belief that
"the author of the earlier part of the Book of Isaiah was not the author
of these last chapters." He most truly added that "there is nothing to
forbid a member of the Church of England, or, for that matter, a member
of the Church of Rome either, or a member of the Jewish Synagogue, from
holding such a belief"; but probably clergymen and Dissenting ministers
and pious laymen of all denominations looked rather askance at it; and
the little book never got itself adopted as "A Bible Reading for

Thus ended his one attempt to improve, positively and by construction,
the curriculum of the Elementary Schools; and we return, at the end of
this study of his Educational doctrine, to the point at which we began.

"Organize your Elementary, your Secondary, your Superior, Education."
This was the burden of his teaching for five-and-thirty years; and, if
the community has at length really set its hand to that great task, it
is only right that we should remember with honour the Master who first
taught us (when the doctrine was unpopular) that the primary duty of a
civilized State is to educate its children.

[Footnote 9: Thomas Arnold, D.D., Head Master of Rugby. His eldest son,
Matthew Arnold, Inspector of Schools. His second son, Thomas Arnold,
Professor in University College, Dublin. His third son, Edward Penrose
Arnold, Inspector of Schools. His fourth son, William Delafield Arnold,
Director of Public Instruction in the Punjaub.]

[Footnote 10: See p. 135.]

[Footnote 11: Reprinted in _Irish Essays and Others_.]

[Footnote 12: This essay, unfortunately, was never reprinted.]

[Footnote 13: It was published in 1850.]

[Footnote 14: An Oxford man must write this word _late_ with regret.
August 23, 1903.]

[Footnote 15: In 1870.]

[Footnote 16: For the width of his reading, see his _Note-Books_, Edited
by his daughter, Mrs. Wodehouse.]

[Footnote 17: Reprinted in _Irish Essays, and Others_.]

[Footnote 18: _On the Study of Celtic Literature_, 1867.]

[Footnote 19: Dr. Bradley.]

[Footnote 20: _The History and Literature of the Israelites._ By C. and
A. de Rothschild.]



"Culture seeks to do away with classes and sects; to make the best that
has been thought and known in the world current everywhere; to make all
men live in an atmosphere of sweetness and light, where they may use
ideas, as it uses them itself, freely; nourished, and not bound, by
them. This is the _social idea_; and the men of culture are the true
apostles of equality."

The words--_social idea_--which Arnold himself italicized in the
foregoing extract from _Culture and Anarchy_, will indicate the sense in
which "Society" is here intended. We are not thinking of that which
Pennialinus[21] means when he writes about "Society gossip" or "a
Society function." We are concerned with the thoughts and temper and
actions of men, not as isolated units, but as living in an organized
community; and, taking "Society" in this sense, we are to examine
Arnold's influence on the Society of his time.

[Illustration: Front of Balliol College, Oxford, in Arnold's Time

In 1840 Matthew Arnold won an open scholarship at Balliol and went into
residence in 1841

_Photo H.W. Taunt_]

Certainly the most obvious and palpable way of affecting Society--and to
many Englishmen the only conceivable way--is by the method of Politics;
by the definite and positive action of human law, and by such endeavours
as we can make towards shaping that action. Now, if indeed the Political
method were the only one, there could be little to be said about his
effect on Society. Politics, in the limited and conventional sense just
now suggested, were not much in his line. He was interested in them; he
had opinions about them; he occasionally intervened in them. But he made
no mark on the political work of his time; nor, so far as one can judge,
did he aspire to do so. Of the man of letters in the field of politics,
he said: "He is in truth not on his own ground there, and is in peculiar
danger of talking at random." In politics, as in all else that he
touched, he was critical rather than constructive; and in politics,
"immersed," as Bacon said, "in matter," a man must be constructive, if
his influence is to be felt and to endure. "Politicians," he said in
1880, "we all of us here in England are and must be, and I too cannot
help being a politician; but a politician of that commonwealth of which
the pattern, as the philosopher says, exists perhaps somewhere in
Heaven, but certainly is at present found nowhere on earth." In 1887,
describing himself as "an aged outsider," he thus stated his own
attitude towards political problems--

"The professional politicians are always apt to be impatient of the
intervention in politics of a candid outsider, and he must expect to
provoke contempt and resentment in a good many of them. Still the action
of the regular politicians continues to be, for the most part, so very
far from successful, that the outsider is perpetually tempted to brave
their anger and to offer his observations, with the hope of possibly
doing some little good by saying what many quiet people are thinking and
wishing outside of the strife, phrases, and routine of professional

From first to last, he professed himself, and no doubt believed himself,
to be on the Liberal side. At the General Election of 1868 he urbanely
informed a Tory Committee, which asked for the advantage of his name,
that he was "an old Whig," nurtured in the traditions of Lansdowne
House. "Although," he said in 1869, "I am a Liberal, yet I am a Liberal
tempered by experience, reflection, and renouncement." In 1878 he
described himself as a "sincere but ineffectual Liberal": in 1880, as "a
Liberal of the future rather than a Liberal of the present." A year
later, he spoke smilingly of "all good Liberals, of whom I wish to be
considered one"; and as late as 1887 he declared himself "one of the
Liberals of the future, who happen to be grown, alas! rather old."

But, though he believed himself to be a Liberal, he had the most lively
disrelish for the Liberalism of that great Middle Class which, during
the greater part of his life, played so large a part in Liberal
politics. In 1882, reviewing, in his favourite manner, the various
classes of English Society, and discussing their adequacy to fulfil the
ideal of perfect citizenship, he wrote--

"Suppose we take that figure we know so well, the earnest and
non-conforming Liberal of our Middle Classes, as his schools and his
civilization have made him. He is for Disestablishment; he is for
Temperance; he has an eye to his Wife's Sister; he is a member of his
local caucus; he is learning to go up to Birmingham every year to the
feast of Mr. Chamberlain. His inadequacy is but too visible."

Certainly Arnold's Liberalism had nothing in common with the Liberalism
of the great Middle Class. Indeed, so far as theory is concerned, it had
a democratic basis, inasmuch as he believed that democracy was a product
of natural law, and that our business was to adapt our political and
social institutions to it. "Democracy," he said, "is trying to _affirm
its own essence_: to live, to enjoy, to possess the world, as
aristocracy has tried, and successfully tried, before it."

The movement of Democracy he regarded as being an "operation of nature,"
and, like other operations of nature, it was neither to be praised nor
blamed. He was neither a "partisan" of it, nor an "enemy." His only care
was, if he could, to guide it aright, and to secure that it used its
predominant power in human affairs at least as wisely as the aristocracy
which had preceded it. Of aristocratic rule in foreign countries--of
such rule as preceded the French Revolution--he thought as poorly as
most men think; but for the aristocracy of England he had a singular
esteem. It is true that he gave it a nickname; that he poked fun at its
illiteracy and its inaccessibility to ideas; that he was impatient of
"immense inequalities of condition and property," and huge estates, and
irresponsible landlordism; that he contemned the "hideous English
toadyism" and "immense vulgar-mindedness" of the Middle Class when
confronted with "lords and great people."

But, for all that, he wrote about the English Aristocracy, as it stood
in 1859: "I desire to speak of it with the most unbounded respect. It is
the most popular of aristocracies; it has avoided faults which have
ruined other aristocracies equally splendid. While the aristocracy of
France was destroying its estates by its extravagance, and itself by
its impertinence, the aristocracy of England was founding English
agriculture, and commanding respect by a personal dignity which made
even its pride forgiven. Historical and political England, the England
of which we are all so proud, is of its making."

In spite, however, of this high estimate of what Aristocracy had
accomplished in the past, he felt that power was slipping away from it,
and was passing into the hands of the Multitude. But he also felt--and
it was certainly one of his most profound convictions--that the
Multitude could never govern properly, could never regulate its own
affairs, could never present England adequately to the view of the
world, unless it cast aside the Individualism in which it had been
nurtured, and made up its mind to act in and through the State. Perhaps
his ideal of a State can best be described as an Educated Democracy,
working by Collectivism in Government, Religion, and Social order.

"If experience has established any one thing in this world, it has
established this: that it is well for any great class or description of
men in society to be able to say for itself what it wants, and not to
have other classes, the so-called educated and intelligent classes,
acting for it as its proctors, and supposed to understand its wants and
to provide for them. They do not really understand its wants, they do
not really provide for them. A class of men may often itself not either
fully understand its own wants, or adequately express them; but it has a
nearer interest and a more sure diligence in the matter than any of its
proctors, and therefore a better chance of success." Amid many
fluctuations of opinion on minor points, he was, from first to last, a
thoroughgoing advocate for extending the action of the State. In his
ideal of government, the State was to play in a democratic age the part
which the Aristocracy had played in earlier ages--it was to govern and
administer and control and inspire. And, it was, in one important
respect, a far nobler thing than the best aristocracy could ever be, for
it was the "representative acting-power of the nation"; and so the
relation of the citizen to the State was a much more dignified relation
than that of a citizen to an aristocracy could ever be. "Is it that of a
dependant to a parental benefactor? By no means: it is that of a member
in a partnership to the whole firm." The citizens of a State, the
members of a society, are really "'a _partnership_,' as Burke nobly
says, '_in all science, in all art, in every virtue, in all
perfection_.' Towards this great final design of their connexion, they
apply the aids which co-operative association can give them." We turn
now to the practical application of this doctrine.

We have seen in the previous chapter how earnestly and consistently
throughout his working life he urged the State to take into its control,
and so far as was needed to subsidize, the Education of the whole
nation. "How vain, how meaningless," he cried, "to tell a man who, for
the instruction of his offspring, receives aid from the State, that he
is humiliated! Humiliated by receiving help for himself as an individual
from himself in his corporate and associated capacity! help to which his
own money, as a tax-payer, contributes, and for which, as a result of
the joint energy and intelligence of the whole community in employing as
powers, he himself deserves some of the praise!... He is no more
humiliated than when he crosses London Bridge or walks down the King's
Road, or visits the British Museum. But it is one of the extraordinary
inconsistencies of some English people in this matter, that they keep
all their cry of humiliation and degradation for help which the State
offers." We shall see in a subsequent chapter that he was as strong for
Established Churches as for State-regulated Schools, and for the same
reason. In Religion, as in Education, he disparaged private institutions
and individual ventures. The State, "the nation in its corporate and
collective capacity," ought to transcend the individual citizen: it
should supply him, to help him as one of its units to supply himself,
with the thing which he wanted--Education or Religion--in the grand
style, on a large scale, with all the authority which comes from
national recognition, with all the dignity of a historical descent.

Arnold's appeal for State-supplied and State-controlled Education has,
as we have already seen, met with some practical response, and in the
main falls in with the modern drift of Liberal ideas. In upholding
State-supported and State-controlled Religion, he was rather continuing
an old tradition than starting a new idea, and modern Liberalism is
moving away from him.

But in some important respects, all strictly political, his advocacy of
extended action by the State fell in with the Liberal movement of his
time. The hideous misgovernment of Ireland he had always deplored. It
touched him long before it touched the great majority of Englishmen.
With a view to informing people on the Irish question, he compiled a
book of Burke's most telling utterances on Ireland and her woes. Those
utterances, as he said, "Show at work all the causes which have brought
Ireland to its present state--the tyranny of the grantees of
confiscation; of the English garrison; Protestant ascendancy; the
reliance of the English Government upon this ascendancy and its
instruments as their means of government; the yielding to menaces of
danger and insurrection what was never yielded to considerations of
equity and reason; the recurrence to the old perversity of mismanagement
as soon as ever the danger was passed." To all these evils he would have
applied the remedies which Burke suggested. He would have had the State
endow the religions of Ireland and their ministries, supply Ireland with
good schools, and defend Irish tenants against the extortions of bad
landlords. He was vehemently opposed to Gladstone's scheme of Home Rule,
because, in his view, it tended to disintegration where he specially
desired cohesion: but, in the tumults of 1885-8, he never lost his head,
never forgot his old sympathy with Irish wrongs, never "drew up an
indictment against a whole people."[22] All through these stormy years,
he stood firm for an effective system of Local Government in Ireland.
Irish government, he said, had "been conducted in accordance with the
wishes of the minority, and of the British Philistine." He desired a
system which should accord with the wishes of the majority. He
deprecated Forster's "expression of general objection to Home Rule";
because, though Home Rule as understood by Parnell was intolerable,
there was another kind of Home Rule which was possible and even
desirable. He was keenly anxious that his friends, the Liberal
Unionists, should not let the opportunity slip, but should bring forward
a "counter scheme to Gladstone's," giving real powers of local
government. In 1887 he again insisted that the "opinion of quiet
reasonable people throughout the country" was bent on giving the Irish
the due control of their own local affairs. He pleaded for a system
"built on sufficiently large lines, not too complicated, not fantastic,
not hesitating and suspicious, not taking back with one hand what it
gives with the other." A similar system he wished to see extended to
England, and he pointed out that it admirably facilitated that national
control of Secondary Education for which he was always pleading.

Then again, with reference to Irish land, his belief in the action of
the State displayed itself very clearly. In his opinion the remedy for
agrarian trouble in Ireland was that the State should, after rigid and
impartial enquiry, distinguish between good landlords and bad, and then
expropriate the bad ones. This, he thought, would "give the sort of
equity, the sort of moral satisfaction, which the case needed." Once
again he was in harmony with Liberal opinion, when he desired to widen
the basis of the State by extending the suffrage in turn to the Artisans
and the Labourers. In one respect at least he was in harmony rather with
Collectivist Radicalism than with orthodox Liberalism, for he did not in
the least dread the intervention of the State between employer and
employed. He desired to strengthen Parliament, the supreme organ of the
national will, by reforming the House of Lords; though he strongly
dissented from a scheme of reform just then in vogue. "One can hardly
imagine sensible men planning a Second Chamber which should not include
the Archbishop of Canterbury, or which should include the young
gentlemen who flock to the House of Lords when pigeon-shooting is in
question. But our precious Liberal Reformers are for retaining the
pigeon-shooters and for expelling the Archbishop of Canterbury."[23]

Even in the full flood of Liberal victory which followed the General
Election of 1880, he saw what was coming. "What strikes one is the
insecureness of the Liberals' hold upon office and upon public favour;
the probability of the return, perhaps even more than once, of their
adversaries to office, before that final and happy consummation is
reached--the permanent establishment of Liberalism in power." And, while
he saw what was coming, he thus divined the cause. The official and
commanding part of the Liberal Party was at the best stolidly
indifferent to Social Reform; at the worst, viciously angry with the
idea and those who propagated it. The commercialism of the great Middle
Class had covered the face of England with places like St. Helens, which
the capitalists called "great centres of national enterprise," and
Cobbett called "Hell-Holes." In these places life was lived under
conditions of squalid and hideous misery, and the inhabitants were
beginning to find out, in the words of one of their own class, that
"free political institutions do not guarantee the well-being of the
toiling class." Under these circumstances it was natural that the
toilers, having looked for redress to the Liberal Party and looked in
vain, should, when next they had the chance, try a spell of that
Democratic Toryism which at any rate held out some shadowy hope of
social betterment. Arnold's misgivings about the future of the Liberal
Party were abundantly made good by the General Election of 1885; but
enough has now been said about his contribution to the practical
politics of his time. A much larger space must be given to the influence
which he brought to bear on Society by methods not political--by
criticism, by banter, by literary felicities, by "sinuous, easy,
unpolemical" methods.

England had known him first as a poet, then as a literary critic. Next
came a rather hazy impression that he was an educational reformer whose
suggestions might be worth attending to. It was not till 1869 that his
countrymen became fully aware of him as a social critic, a commentator
on life and society. Looking back, one seems to see that by that time
his poetical function was fulfilled. As far as the medium of poetry is
concerned, he had said his say; said it incomparably well, said it with
abiding effect. Now it seemed that a new function presented itself to
him; a great door and effectual was opened to him. He found a fresh
sphere of usefulness and influence in applying his critical method to
the ideals and follies of his countrymen; to their scheme of life, ways
of thinking and acting, prejudices, conventions, and limitations. Mr.
Paul said, as we have already seen, that the appearance of _Essays in
Criticism_ was "a great intellectual event." That is perfectly true; and
the appearance of _Culture and Anarchy_ was a great social event. The
book so named was published in 1869; but the ground had been prepared
for it by some earlier writings, and these we must consider before we
come to the book itself.

In February, 1866, there appeared in the _Cornhill Magazine_ an essay
called "My Countrymen." In this essay Arnold, fresh from one of his
Continental tours, tried to show English people what the intelligent
mind of Europe was really thinking of them. "'It is not so much that we
dislike England,' a Prussian official, with the graceful tact of his
nation, said to me the other day, 'as that we think little of her.'"
Broadly speaking, European judgment on us came to this--that England had
been great, powerful, and prosperous under an aristocratic government,
at a time when the chief requisite for national greatness was Action,
"for aristocracies, poor in ideas, are rich in energy"; but that England
was rapidly losing ground, was becoming a second-rate power, was falling
from her place in admiration and respect, since the Government had
passed into the hands of the Middle Class. What was now the chief
requisite for national greatness was Intelligence; and in intelligence
the Middle Class had shown itself signally deficient. In foreign
affairs--in its dealings with Russia and Turkey, Germany and America--it
had shown "rash engagement, intemperate threatenings, undignified
retreat, ill-timed cordiality," in short, every quality best calculated
to lower England in the esteem of the civilized world.

In domestic affairs, the life and mind of the Middle Class were thus
described by the foreign critic. "The fineness and capacity of man's
spirit is shown by his enjoyments; your Middle Class has an enjoyment in
its business, we admit, and gets on well in business, and makes money;
but beyond that? Drugged with business, your Middle Class seems to have
its sense blunted for any stimulus besides, except Religion; it has a
religion, narrow, unintelligent, repulsive.... What other enjoyments
have they? The newspapers, a sort of eating and drinking which are not
to our taste, a literature of books almost entirely religious or
semi-religious, books utterly unreadable by an educated class anywhere,
but which your Middle Class consumes by the hundred thousand, and in
their evenings, for a great treat, a lecture on Teetotalism or
Nunneries. Can any life be imagined more hideous, more dismal, more
unenviable?... Your Middle Class man thinks it the highest pitch of
development and civilization when his letters are carried twelve times a
day from Islington to Camberwell, and from Camberwell to Islington, and
if railway trains run to and fro between them every quarter of an hour.
He thinks it is nothing that the trains only carry him from an
illiberal, dismal life at Islington to an illiberal, dismal life at
Camberwell; and the letters only tell him that such is the life there."
And, as to political and social reform, "Such a spectacle as your Irish
Church Establishment you cannot find in France or Germany. Your Irish
Land Question you dare not face." English Schools, English vestrydom,
English provincialism--all alike stand in the most urgent need of
reform; but with all alike the Middle Class is serenely content. After
reporting these exceedingly frank comments of foreign critics to his
English readers, Arnold thus expresses his own conviction on the matters
in dispute. "All due deductions made for envy, exaggeration, and
injustice, enough stuck by me of these remarks to determine me to go on
trying to keep my mind fixed on these, instead of singing hosannahs to
our actual state of development and civilization. The old recipe, to
think a little more and bustle a little less, seemed to me still to be
the best recipe to follow. So I take comfort when I find the _Guardian_
reproaching me with having no influence; for I know what influence
means--a party, practical proposals, action; and I say to myself: 'Even
suppose I could get some followers, and assemble them, brimming with
affectionate enthusiasm, to a committee-room in some inn; what on earth
should I say to them? What resolutions could I propose? I could only
propose the old Socratic commonplace, _Know thyself_; and how black they
would all look at that!' No; to enquire, perhaps too curiously, what
that present state of English development and civilization is, which
according to Mr. Lowe is so perfect that to give votes to the working
class is stark madness; and, on the other hand, to be less sanguine
about the divine and saving effect of a vote on its possessor than my
friends in the committee-room at the _Spotted Dog_--that is my
inevitable portion. To bring things under the light of one's
intelligence, to see how they look there, to accustom oneself simply to
regard the Marylebone Vestry, or the Educational Home, or the Irish
Church Establishment, or our railway management, or our Divorce Court,
or our gin-palaces open on Sunday and the Crystal Palace shut, as
absurdities--that is, I am sure, invaluable exercise for us just at
present. Let all persist in it who can, and steadily set their desires
on introducing, with time, a little more soul and spirit into the too,
too solid flesh of English society."

[Illustration: Fisher's Buildings, Balliol College, Oxford

Showing Matthew Arnold's Rooms

_Photo H.W. Taunt_]

So much for his first deliberate attempt in the way of social criticism.
It was levelled, we observe, at the thoughts and doings of the great
Middle Class, and it is natural to ask why that class was so specially
the target for his scorn. To that class, as he was fond of declaring,
half in fun and half in earnest, he himself belonged. "I always thought
my marriage," he used to say, "such a perfect marriage of the Middle
Classes--a schoolmaster's son and a judge's daughter." In the preface to
the _Essays in Criticism_, he spoke of "the English Middle Class, of
which I am myself a feeble unit." He used to declare that his feeling
towards his brethren of the Middle Class was that of St. Paul towards
his brethren of Israel: "My heart's desire and prayer for them is that
they may be saved." In _Culture and Anarchy_ he was constrained to admit
that "through circumstances which will perhaps one day be known, if ever
the affecting history of my conversion comes to be written, I have, for
the most part, broken with the ideas and the tea-meetings of my own
class"; but he found that he had not, by that conversion, come much
nearer to the ideas and works of the Aristocracy or the Populace.

He admired the fine manners, the governing faculty, the reticent and
dignified habit, of the Aristocracy. He deplored its limitations and its
obduracy, its "little culture and no ideas." He made fun of it when its
external manifestations touched the region of the ludicrous--"Everybody
knows Lord Elcho's[24] appearance, and how admirably he looks the part
of our governing classes; to my mind, indeed, the mere cock of his
lordship's hat is one of the finest and most aristocratic things we
have." In a more serious vein he taught--and enraged the _Guardian_ by
teaching--that, "ever since the advent of Christianity, _the prince of
this world is judged_"; and that wealth and rank and dignified ease are
bound to justify themselves for their apparent inconsistency with the
Christian ideal. He pitied the sorrows of the "people who suffer," the
"dim, common populations," the "poor who faint alway"; but he pitied
them from above. He certainly did not enter into their position; did not
share their ideas, or feel their sorrows as part of his own experience.
In an amazing passage he says that, when we snatch up a vehement opinion
in ignorance and passion, when we long to crush an adversary by sheer
violence, when we are envious, when we are brutal, when "we add our
voices to swell a blind clamour against some unpopular personage," when
"we trample savagely on the fallen," then we find in our own bosom "the
eternal spirit of the Populace." That a spirit so hideous, so infernal
as is here described, is the eternal spirit of fallen humanity may be
painfully true; but to say that it is the special or characteristic
spirit of "the Populace" is to show that one has no genuine sympathy and
no real acquaintance with the life and heart of the poor. So far, then,
his account of his own transition is true. He had "broken with the ideas
of his own class, and had not come much nearer to the ideas and works
of Aristocracy or the Populace." But the work of his life had brought
him into close and continuous contact with the great Middle Class, which
practically had the whole management of Elementary Education in its
hands. He knew the members of that class, as he said, "experimentally."
He slept in their houses, and ate at their tables, and observed at close
quarters their books, their amusements, and their social life. Thus he
judged of their civilization by intimate acquaintance, and found it
eminently distasteful and defective. From 1832 to 1867 the Middle Class
had governed England, manipulating the Aristocracy through the medium of
the House of Commons; and the Aristocracy, though still occupying the
place of visible dignity, had its eye nervously fixed on the movement,
actual and impending, of the Middle Class. This system of government by
the predominance of the Middle Class, was not only distasteful to
culture, but was actually a source of danger to the State when it came
to be applied to Foreign Affairs. "That makes the difference between
Lord Grenville and Lord Granville." So it was to the shortcomings of the
Middle Class, from which he professed to be sprung and which he so
intimately knew, that he first addressed his social criticism. The essay
on "My Countrymen" immediately attracted notice. It was fresh, it was
lively, it put forth a new view, it gaily ran counter to the great mass
of current prejudice. He was frankly pleased by the way in which it was
received. It was noticed and quoted and talked about. He reported to his
mother that it was thought "witty and suggestive," "timely and true."
Carlyle "almost wholly approved of it," and Bright was "full of it." He
did not expect it to be liked by people who belonged to "the _old_
English time, of which the greatness and success was so immense and
indisputable that no one who flourished when it was at its height could
ever lose the impression of it," or realize how far we had fallen in
Continental esteem. His friend Lingen was "indignant" because he thought
the essay exalted the Aristocracy at the expense of the Middle Class;
and the Whig newspapers were "almost all unfavourable, because it tells
disagreeable truths to the class which furnishes the great body of what
is called the Liberal interest." From the foreign side came a criticism
in the _Pall Mall Gazette_, "professing to be by a Frenchman," but "I am
sure it is by a woman I know something of in Paris, a half Russian, half
Englishwoman, married to a Frenchman." The first part of this criticism
"is not good, and perhaps when the second part appears I shall write a
short and light letter by way of reply." That "short and light letter"
appeared in the _Pall Mall_ of March 20, 1866. It dealt with the
respective but not incompatible claims of Culture and Liberty--the
former so defective in England, the latter so abundant--and it contained
this aspiration for Englishmen of the Middle Class. "I do not wish them
to be the café-haunting, dominoes-playing Frenchmen, but some third
thing: neither the Frenchmen nor their present selves."

He was now fairly launched on the course of social criticism. As time
went on, his essays attracted more and more notice, sometimes friendly,
sometimes hostile, but always interested and not seldom excited. Some of
the comments on the new and daring critic were inconceivably absurd. Of
Mr. Frederic Harrison's retort,[25] Arnold wrote that it was "scarcely
the least vicious, and in parts so amusing that I laughed till I cried."
Mr. Goldwin Smith described him as "a gentleman of a jaunty air, and on
good terms with the world." To the _Times_ he seemed "a sentimentalist
whose dainty taste requires something more flimsy than the strong sense
and sturdy morality of his fellow-Englishmen." One newspaper called him
"a high priest of the kid-glove persuasion"; another, "an elegant
Jeremiah"; and Mr. Lionel Tollemache, combining in one harmonious whole
the absurdities of all the other commentators, says: "When asked my
opinion of this quaint man of genius, I have described him as a _Hebrew
prophet in white kid gloves_."

The fact is that we are a serious people. The Middle Class, which he
singled out for attack, is quite pre-eminently serious. Philosophers and
critics--the _Spectator_ and the _Edinburgh_--had made seriousness a
religion. Editors, leader-writers, reviewers, the Press generally, were
steeped to their lips in seriousness. They could not understand, and
were greatly inclined to resent, the appearance of this bright, playful,
unconventional spirit, happy and brilliant himself, and loving the
happiness and brilliancy of the world; with not an ounce of pomposity in
his own nature, and with the most irreverent demeanour towards pomposity
in other people. "Our social Polyphemes," as Lord Beaconsfield said,
"have only one eye"; and they could not the least perceive that Arnold's
genius was like the genius of poetry as he himself described it--

    Radiant, adorn'd outside; a hidden ground
    Of thought and of austerity within.

In a letter to the _Pall Mall Gazette_ of July 21, 1866, he first
introduced his friend Arminius,[26] Baron Von Thunder-Ten-Tronckh, the
cultivated and enquiring Prussian who had come to England to study our
Politics, Education, Local Government, and social life. A series of
similar letters followed at irregular intervals during the years 1866,
1867, 1869, and 1870. And Arminius' drastic method of questioning and
arguing became the idoneous vehicle for Arnold's criticisms on such
topics as our Foreign Policy, Compulsory Education, the Press, and the
Deceased Wife's Sister. The letters were eventually collected in that
little-read but most fascinating book, _Friendship's Garland_, which was
published in 1871.[27] But before _Friendship's Garland_ came out,
Arnold, who had tested his powers in social criticism by these fugitive
pieces, addressed himself to a more serious and solid effort in the same
field. The essays which eventually formed the book called _Culture and
Anarchy_ began to appear in the _Cornhill Magazine_ for July, 1867, and
were continued in 1868. The book was published in 1869. We saw at the
outset that he himself said of his _Discourses in America_ that they, of
all his prose-writings, were the writings by which he would most wish to
be remembered. Many of his disciples would say that _Essays in
Criticism_ was his most important work in prose. Some people would give
the crown to _Literature and Dogma_. "It has been more in demand," the
author told us in 1883, "than any other of my prose-writings." Respect
is due to what a great master thought of his own work, and to what his
best-qualified disciples think of it. But after all we uphold the right
of private judgment, and the present writer is strongly of opinion that
_Culture and Anarchy_ is Arnold's most important work in prose. It was,
to borrow a phrase used by Mr. Gladstone in another connexion, not a
book, but an event. We must consider it in its proper setting of time
and circumstance.

The beginning of 1869 was a great moment in our political and social
history. Ever since the enthusiasm which surrounded the Reform Act of
1832 had faded away in disappointment and disillusion, the ardent
friends of freedom and progress had been crying out for a further
extension of the franchise. The next Reform Bill was to give the workmen
a vote; and a Parliament elected by workmen was to bring the Millennium.
The Act of 1867 gave the desired vote, and the workmen used it for the
first time at the General Election of 1868. At the beginning of 1869 the
new Parliament was just assembling, and it was possible to take stock of
it, to analyze its component parts, to form some estimate of its
capacity, some forecast of its intentions. It was a Liberal Parliament.
There was no mistake about that. Bishop Wilberforce wrote just after the
Election: "In a few weeks Gladstone will be in office, at the head of a
majority of something like a hundred, elected on the distinct issue of
'Gladstone and the Irish Church.'"

Certainly the Election had been fought and won on Irish
Disestablishment, but disestablishment was only part of a larger scheme.
Rather late in the day, the Liberal Party, urged thereto by a statesman
who had never set foot in Ireland, had taken into its head to "govern
Ireland according to Irish ideas," or what was understood by that taking
phrase. We were to disestablish and disendow the Irish Church, reform
the Irish system of land-tenure, and reconstruct the Irish Universities.
Robert Lowe, who was a conspicuous member of the new Cabinet, burst into
rather premature dithyrambics, crying, "The Liberal Ministry resolved to
knit the hearts of the Empire into one harmonious concord, and _knitted
they were accordingly_." And we, of the rank and file, believed this
claptrap; but to us it was not claptrap, for our whole hearts were in
the great enterprise of pacification in which we believed our leaders to
be engaged. But Ireland by no means exhausted our reforming zeal. We had
enough and to spare for many departments of the Constitution. We were
determined to give the workmen the protection of the Ballot, and to
compel them to educate their children. We meant to abolish Purchase in
the Army and Tests at the University; and some of us were beginning to
feel our way to more extensive changes still; to hanker after universal
suffrage, to dream of simultaneous disarmament, to anticipate the
downfall of monarchical institutions, and to listen with complacency to
attacks on the Civil List and Impeachments of the House of Brunswick. In
fine, Reformers were in a triumphant and sanguine mood. We were
constrained to admit that, as regards its personal composition, the new
House of Commons was a little Philistine--not so democratic, not so
redolent of Labour, as we had hoped. But we believed that we had the
promise of the future. We believed that by enfranchising the artisans we
had undertaken a long step towards the ideal perfection of the
Commonwealth. We believed that these new citizens, who had just proved
themselves worthy of their citizenship, would continue to support, with
increasing ardour and devotion, Liberal administrations and Liberal
measures. Above all, we believed that, as our recent achievements were
the direct developments of great principles asserted in the past, so
they would in turn develop into constitutional changes far more
momentous, and that in the fulfilment of those changes lay the only
real prospect of human happiness.

This is a fair statement of the mental temper in which young and
inexperienced Liberals found themselves in the year 1869.[28] And there
was much to encourage us in our complacency. Gladstone, to whom during
the rather dreary reign of exhausted Whiggery we had looked as to our
rising star--the one man who combined Religion and Poetry and Romance
with the love of Progress and the passion of Freedom--had told us that
"the great social forces were on our side," and that our opponents
"could not fight against the future." Philosophers, like Mill, had told
us that all the intelligence, all the science, all the mental courage of
the world were with us, and that Toryism was the creed of the
intellectually destitute. Morning after morning a vigorous Press sang
its loud hymn of triumph, and assured us that, even if for a moment our
chariot-wheels drave rather heavily, still we were going forth
conquering and to conquer, and that the future of Liberalism was to be
one long series of victories, uninterrupted till the crack of doom.

And then to us, thus comfortably entrenched in self-esteem, there
entered the figure, unknown to most, only half-known to any, of a new
and most disturbing critic. Here was a man whose very name breathed
Liberalism; for whom speculation had no fears; who had harassed the most
hoary conventions with obstinate questionings; who had accepted
Democracy as the evolution of natural law; who had poked delicious fun
at the most highly-placed impostures, the most solemn plausibilities. In
such a one we might surely have expected to find a friend, an ally, a
comforter, a fellow-worker; a preacher of the smooth things which we
loved to hear, an encourager of the day-dreams which we had learned from
_Locksley Hall_. Instead of all this we found a critic--so gracious that
we could not quarrel with him, so reasonable that we found it hard to
dispute with him; so absolutely free from pomposity that we could not
laugh at him, so genuinely and freshly witty that we could not help
laughing with him--but a critic still. He thought scorn of our pleasant
land, and gave no credence unto our word. He belittled our heroes; he
pooh-poohed our achievements; he cast doubt on our prophecies; he
caricatured our aspirations. He told us that we were the victims of a
profound delusion. He warned us that the great Democracy on which we
relied as our unchangeable foundation would give way under our feet. He
pointed out that Labour had no more reason to expect its salvation from
Liberalism than from Toryism. He insisted that all our political reform
was mere machinery; that the end and object of politics was Social
Reform; and that the promise of the future was for those who should help
us to be better, wiser, and happier; for those who concerned themselves
rather with the product of the machine than with the machine itself; who
were not satisfied by eternally taking it to pieces and putting it
together again, but who wanted to know what sort of stuff it was, when
perfected, to turn out. He suggested that "the present troubled state of
our social life" had at least something to do with "the thirty years'
blind worship of their idols by our Liberal friends," and that it threw
some doubt on "the sufficiency of their worship." "It is not," he said,
"fatal to our Liberal friends to labour for Free Trade, Extension of the
Suffrage, and Abolition of Church Rates, instead of graver social ends;
but it is fatal to them to be told by their flatterers, and to believe,
with our social condition what it is, that they have performed a great,
a heroic work, by occupying themselves exclusively, for the last thirty
years, with these Liberal nostrums."

And, while our new critic was thus disdainful of much that we held
sacred, of political machinery and logical government, and individual
liberty of speech and action, he recalled our attention to certain
objects of reverence which we, or at least some of us, had forgotten. He
insisted on the immense value of history and continuity in the political
life of a nation. He extolled (though the words were not his) the
"institutions which incorporate tradition and prolong the reign of the
dead." He affirmed that external beauty, stateliness, splendour,
gracious manners, were indispensable elements of civilization, and that
these were the contributions which Aristocracy made to the welfare of
the State. He reminded us that the true greatness of a nation was to be
found in its culture, its ideals, its sentiment for beauty, its
performances in the intellectual and moral spheres--not in its supply of
coal, its volume of trade, its accumulated capital, or its
multiplication of railways. Above all--and this was to some of our Party
the unkindest cut--he asserted for Religion the chief place among the
elements of national well-being. We were just then living at the fag-end
of an anti-religious time. The critical, negative, and utilitarian
spirit which had seized on Oxford after the apparent defeat and collapse
of Newman's movement had profoundly affected the Liberal Party. It was
an essential characteristic of the political Liberals to pour scorn on
that "retrograding transcendentalism" which was "the hardheads' nickname
for the Anglo-Catholic Symphony."[29] The fact that Gladstone was so
saturated with the spirit of that symphony was a cause of mistrust which
his genius and courage could barely overcome; and, even when it was
overcome, a good many of his Party followed him as reluctantly and as
mockingly as Sancho Panza followed Don Quixote. The only heaven of which
the political Liberal dreamed was what Arnold called "the glorified and
unending tea-meeting of popular Protestantism." And the portion of the
Party which regarded itself as the intellectual wing, seemed to have
reverted to the temper described by Bishop Butler; "taking for granted
that Christianity is not so much as a subject of enquiry, but that it is
now at length discovered to be fictitious"; and habitually talking as if
"this were an agreed point among all people of discernment." Great was
the vexation of the "old Liberal hacks" who had been repeating these
dismal shibboleths, and ignoring or denying the greatest force in human
life, to find in this new teacher of liberal ideas a convinced and
persistent opponent. He affirmed that Religion was the best, the
sweetest, and the strongest thing in the world; he insisted that without
it there could be no perfect culture, no complete civilization; he
showed a reverent admiration for the historical character and teaching
of Jesus Christ; he urged the example of His "mildness and sweet
reasonableness." He taught that the best way of extending Christ's
kingdom on earth was by sweetening the character and brightening the
lives of the men and women whose nature He shared.

It belongs to another part of this work to enquire what he meant by
Religion and Christianity, and how far his interpretations accorded
with, or how far they departed from, the traditional creed of
Christendom. But enough, perhaps, has been said to explain why the
appearance of _Culture and Anarchy_ so profoundly disquieted the "old
Liberal hacks" and the popular teachers of irreligion. One of these
called Christianity "that awful plague which has destroyed two
civilizations and but barely failed to slay such promise of good as is
now struggling to live amongst men." Of that teacher, and of others like
him, Arnold wrote in later years: "If the matter were not so serious one
could hardly help smiling at the chagrin and manifest perplexity of such
of one's friends as happen to be philosophical radicals and secularists,
at having to reckon with religion again when they thought its day was
quite gone by, and that they need not study it any more or take account
of it any more; that it was passing out, and a kind of new gospel, half
Bentham, half Cobden, in which they were themselves particularly strong,
was coming in. And perhaps there is no one who more deserves to be
compassionated than an elderly or middle-aged man of this kind, such as
several of their Parliamentary spokesmen and representatives are. For
perhaps the younger men of the Party may take heart of grace, and
acquaint themselves a little with religion, now that they see its day is
by no means over. But, for the older ones, their mental habits are
formed, and it is almost too late for them to begin such new studies.
However, a wave of religious reaction _is_ evidently passing over
Europe, due very much to our revolutionary and philosophical friends
having insisted upon it that religion was gone by and unnecessary, when
it was neither the one nor the other."

[Illustration: Oriel College, Oxford

In March, 1845, Matthew Arnold was elected to a Fellowship at Oriel

_Photo H.W. Taunt_]

A study of Arnold's work ought to give something more than a sketch of
the prose-book by which he most powerfully affected the thinking of his
time, and we will therefore take the contents of _Culture and Anarchy_
chapter by chapter. The Preface is only a summary of the book, and may
therefore be disregarded. The Introduction briefly points out the
foolishness of orators and leader-writers who had assumed that Culture
meant "a smattering of Greek and Latin," and then addresses itself to
the task of finding a better definition. "I propose now to try and
enquire, in the simple unsystematic way which best suits both my taste
and my powers, what Culture really is, what good it can do, what is our
own special need of it; and I shall seek to find some plain grounds on
which a faith in Culture--both my own faith in it and the faith of
others--may rest securely."

The First Chapter bears the memorable heading--"Sweetness and Light"; in
reference to which Lord Salisbury so happily said that, when he
conferred the degree of D.C.L. on Arnold, he ought to have addressed him
as "_Vir dulcissime et lucidissime_." In this chapter Arnold lays it
down that Culture, as he understands the word, is, in part, "a desire
after the things of the mind, simply for their own sakes, and for the
pleasure of seeing them as they are." But he goes on to say that "there
is of Culture another view, in which not solely the scientific passion,
the sheer desire to see things as they are, natural and proper in an
intelligent being, appears as the ground of it. There is a view in which
all the love of our neighbour, the impulses towards action, help, and
beneficence, the desire for removing human error, clearing human
confusion, and diminishing human misery, the noble aspiration to leave
the world better and happier than we found it--motives eminently such as
are called social--come in as part of the grounds of Culture, and the
main and pre-eminent part. Culture is then properly described not as
having its origin in curiosity, but as having its origin in the love of
perfection; it is a _study of perfection_. It moves by the force, not
merely or primarily of the scientific passion for pure knowledge, but
also of the moral and social passion for doing good.... There is no
better motto which it can have than these words of Bishop Wilson: "To
make reason and the will of God prevail." Thus the true disciple of
Culture will not be content with merely "learning the truth for his own
personal satisfaction"; but will try to make it _prevail_; and in this
endeavour Religion plays a commanding part. It is "the greatest and most
important of the efforts by which the human race has manifested its
impulse to perfect itself"; it is "the voice of the deepest human
experience." It teaches that "The Kingdom of God is within you," and
that internal perfection must first be sought; but then it goes on, hand
in hand with Culture, to spread perfection in widest commonalty.
"Perfection is not possible, while the individual remains isolated." "To
promote the Kingdom of God is to increase and hasten one's own
happiness." Finally, Perfection as Culture conceives it, is a harmonious
expansion of _all_ the powers which make the beauty and worth of human
nature: "and here," says Arnold, "Culture goes beyond Religion, as
Religion is generally conceived by us." Stress must be laid upon those
last words; for Religion, according to its full and catholic ideal, is
the perfection and consecration of man's whole nature, intellectual and
physical, as well as moral and spiritual. All that is lovely, splendid,
moving, heroic, even enjoyable, in human life--all health and vigour and
beauty and cleverness and charm--all nature and all art, all science and
all literature--are among the good and perfect gifts which come down
from the Father of Lights. But this is just the conception of Religion
which Puritanism never grasped--nay, rather which Puritanism definitely
rejected." And here probably is the origin of that quarrel with
Puritanism, at least in its more superficial and obvious aspects, which
so coloured and sometimes barbed Arnold's meditations on Religion. "As I
have said with regard to wealth: Let us look at the life of those who
live in and for it--so I say with regard to the religious organizations.
Look at the life imaged in such a newspaper as the _Nonconformist_--a
life of jealousy of the Establishment, disputes, tea-meetings, openings
of chapels, sermons; and then think of it as an ideal of human life
completing itself on all sides, and aspiring with all its organs after
sweetness, light, and perfection!"

So much then for his definition of Culture; and we must admit that "the
old Liberal hacks," the speakers on Liberal platforms, and the writers
in Liberal papers, were not without excuse when they failed so utterly
to divine what the new Teacher meant by harping on a word which Bacon
and Pope had used in so different a sense.

Chapter II is headed "Doing as One Likes." And here it was that our new
critic came most sharply into conflict with our cherished beliefs. We
believed in the liberty which Milton loved, "to know, to utter, and to
argue freely, according to conscience," and to frame our action by sole
reference to our conviction. We believed that of such liberty there was
only one endurable limit, and that was the condition that no man should
so use his own liberty as to lessen his brother's--and the liberty thus
conceived we regarded as the supreme boon of human life, for which no
other could conceivably be taken in exchange. And now came the new
Teacher of Liberalism with a doctrine which, while it made us angry,
also set us thinking. "Our familiar praise of the British Constitution
under which we live, is that it is a system of checks--a system which
stops and paralyzes any power in interfering with the free action of
individuals.... As Feudalism, which with its ideas and habits of
subordination was for many centuries behind the British Constitution,
dies out, and we are left with nothing but our system of checks, and
our notion of its being the great right and happiness of an Englishman
to do as far as possible what he likes, we are in danger of drifting
towards Anarchy." Aristocracy, according to Arnold, who strangely
mingled admiration of it with contempt, had been doing what it liked
from time immemorial. It had enjoyed all the good things of life--great
station, great wealth, great power--with a comfortable assurance that
they belonged to it by divine right. It had governed England with credit
to itself and benefit to the country. As Lord Beaconsfield said, it was
only because a Whig Minister wished to curry favour with the populace,
that an Earl who had committed a murder was hanged.

The Middle Class also, had, at any rate, since the Reform Act of 1832,
"done what it liked," in a style not quite so grand but excessively
comfortable and self-satisfied. It had carried some great reforms on
which it had set its heart. It had established, enormously to its
profit, Free Trade, and it had accumulated vast wealth. Its maxim had
been--"Every man for himself in business, every man for himself in
religion,"--and the devil take the hindmost.

But _now_, said Arnold, _is the judgment of this world_. The Aristocracy
and the Middle Class had come to an end of their reign. A "tide of
secret dissatisfaction had mined the ground under the self-confident
Liberalism of the last thirty years (1839-1869) and had prepared the way
for its sudden collapse and supersession." So far, the young Liberals
and Radicals of the day did not disagree. They liked this doctrine, and
had preached it; but from this point they and their new Teacher parted
company. The working-man was now enfranchised; and of the
newly-enfranchised working-man, or at least of some of the most
conspicuous representatives of his class, Arnold had a curious dread.
"His apparition is somewhat embarrassing; because, while the
Aristocratic and Middle Classes have long been doing as they like with
great vigour, he has been too undeveloped and too submissive hitherto to
join in the game; and now, when he does come, he comes in immense
numbers, and is rather raw and rough."

The dread of the working-men, and the apprehension of the bad use which
they might make of their new power, can be traced to certain incidents
which happened just before they were admitted to the Franchise and which
perhaps precipitated their admission. In June, 1866, the Reform Bill,
for which Lord Russell and Mr. Gladstone were responsible, was defeated
in the House of Commons, and the Tories came into office. The defeated
Bill would have enfranchised the upper class of artisans, and its
rejection led to considerable riots, in which certain leaders of the
working-men played conspicuous parts. The mob carried all before it, and
the railings of Hyde Park were broken. The Tory Government behaved with
the most incredible feebleness. The Home Secretary shed tears. The whole
business, half scandalous and half ridiculous, furnished Arnold with an
illustration for his sermon on "Doing What One Likes." Reviewing, three
years after their occurrence, the events of July, 1866, he wrote thus:
"Everyone remembers the virtuous Alderman-Colonel or Colonel-Alderman,
who had to lead his militia through the London streets; how the
bystanders gathered to see him pass; how the London roughs, asserting an
Englishman's best and most blissful right of doing what he likes, robbed
and beat the bystanders; and how the blameless warrior-magistrate
refused to let his troops interfere. 'The crowd,' he touchingly said
afterwards, 'was mostly composed of fine, healthy, strong men, bent on
mischief; if he had allowed his soldiers to interfere, they might have
been overpowered, their rifles taken from them and used against them by
the mob; a riot, in fact, might have ensued, and been attended with
bloodshed, compared with which the assaults and loss of property that
actually occurred would have been as nothing.' Honest and affecting
testimony of the English Middle Class to its own inadequacy for the
authoritative part which one's convictions would sometimes incline one
to assign to it! 'Who are we?' they say by the voice of their
Alderman-Colonel, 'that we should not be overpowered if we attempt to
cope with social anarchy, our rifles taken from us and used against us
by the mob, and we, perhaps, robbed and beaten ourselves? Or what light
have we, beyond a freeborn Englishman's impulse to do as he likes, which
would justify us in preventing, at the cost of bloodshed, other freeborn
Englishmen from doing as they like, and robbing and beating as much as
they please?' And again, 'the Rough is just asserting his personal
liberty a little, going where he likes, assembling where he likes,
bawling as he likes, hustling as he likes.... He sees the rich, the
aristocratic class, in occupation of the executive government; and so,
if he is stopped from making Hyde Park a bear-garden or the streets
impassable, he cries out that he is being butchered by the

Now, in spite of all this banter and sarcasm, these passages express a
real dread which, at the time when Household Suffrage was claimed and
conceded, really possessed Arnold's mind. He came with the lapse of
years to see that it was illusory, and that the working-classes of
England are as steady, as law-abiding, as inaccessible to ideas, as
little in danger of being hurried into revolutionary courses, as
unwilling to jeopardize their national interests and their stake in the
country, as the Aristocracy and the Middle Class. But at the period
which we are considering, when the dread of popular violence had really
laid hold of him, it is interesting to mark the direction in which he
looked for social salvation. He did not turn to our traditional
institutions; to the Church or the Throne or the House of Lords: to a
military despotism, or an established religion, or a governing
Aristocracy: certainly not to the Middle Class with its wealth and
industry--least of all to the Populace, with its "bright powers of
sympathy." In an age which made an idol of individual action, and warred
against all collectivism as tyranny, he looked for salvation to the
State. But the State, if it was to fulfil its high function, must be a
State in which every man felt that he had a place and a share, and the
authority of which he could accept without loss of self-respect. "If
ever," Arnold said in 1866, "there comes a more equal state of society
in England, the power of the State for repression will be a thousand
times stronger." He was for widening the province of the State, and
strengthening its hands, and "stablishing it on behalf of whatever
great changes are needed, just as much as on behalf of order." And,
forasmuch as the State, in its ideal, was "the organ of our collective
best self," our first duty was to cultivate, each man for himself, what
in himself was best--in short, Perfection. "We find no basis for a firm
State-power in our ordinary selves; culture suggests one to us in our
_best self_." And so we come back to the governing idea of the book
before us, that Culture is the foe of Anarchy.

In the Third Chapter--"Barbarians, Philistines, Populace"--he divided
English Society into three main classes, to which he gave three
well-remembered nicknames. The aristocracy he named (not very happily,
seeing that he so greatly admired their fine manners) the Barbarians;
the Middle Class he had already named the Philistines; and to the great
mass which lies below the Middle Class he gave the name of "Populace."
The name of "Philistine" in its application to the great Middle Class
dates from the Lecture on Heine delivered from the Chair of Poetry at
Oxford in 1863. And it seems to have supplied a want in our system of
nomenclature, for it struck, and it has remained, at least as a name for
a type of mind, if not exactly as a name for a social class.

When we originally encounter the word in the Lecture[30] on Heine,
Arnold is speaking of Heine's life-long battle--with what? With
Philistinism. "_Philistinism!_ We have not the expression in English.
Perhaps we have not the word, because we have so much of the thing. At
Soli, I imagine, they did not talk of solecisms; and here, at the very
headquarters of Goliath, nobody talks of Philistinism. The French have
adopted the term _épicier_ (grocer) to designate the sort of being whom
the Germans designate by the term Philistine; but the French
term--besides that it casts a slur upon a respectable class, composed of
living and susceptible members, while the original Philistines are dead
and buried long ago--is really, I think, in itself much less apt and
expressive than the German term. Efforts have been made to obtain in
English some term equivalent to _Philister_ or _épicier_; Mr. Carlyle
has made several such efforts: "Respectability with its thousand gigs,"
he says; well, the occupant of every one of these gigs is, Mr. Carlyle
means, a Philistine. However, the word _respectable_ is far too valuable
a word to be thus perverted from its proper meaning; if the English are
ever to have a word for the thing we are speaking of--and so prodigious
are the changes which the modern spirit is introducing, that even we
English shall perhaps one day come to want such a word--I think we had
much better take the word _Philistine_ itself.

"_Philistine_ must have originally meant, in the mind of those who
invented the nickname, a sturdy, dogged, unenlightened opponent of the
Chosen People, of the Children of Light. The party of change, the
would-be remodellers of the old traditional European order, the invokers
of reason against custom, the representatives of the modern spirit in
every sphere where it is applicable, regarded themselves, with the
robust self-confidence natural to reformers, as a chosen people, as
children of the light. They regarded their adversaries as humdrum
people, slaves to routine, enemies to light, stupid and oppressive, but
at the same time very strong.... Philistia has come to be thought by us
the true Land of Promise, and it is anything but that; the born lover of
ideas, the born hater of commonplaces, must feel in this country that
the sky over his head is of brass and iron. The enthusiast for the idea,
for reason, values reason, the idea, in and for themselves; he values
them, irrespectively of the practical conveniences which their triumphs
may obtain for him, and the man who regards the profession of these
practical conveniences as something sufficient in itself which
compensates for the absence or surrender of the idea, of reason, is, in
his eyes, a Philistine."

In _Culture and Anarchy_, Arnold thus elaborates the term "Philistine,"
and justifies, not without some misgiving, its exclusive appropriation
to the Middle Class. "Philistine gives the notion of something
particularly stiffnecked and perverse in the resistance to light and its
children, and therein it specially suits our Middle Class, who not only
do not pursue Sweetness and Light, but who even prefer to them that sort
of machinery of business, chapels, tea-meetings, and addresses from Mr.
Murphy,[31] which make up the dismal and illiberal life on which I have
so often touched." The force of Philistinism in English life and society
is the force which, from first to last, he set himself most steadily to
fight, and, if possible, transform. That the effort was arduous, and
even perilous, he was fully aware. He must, he said, pursue his object
through literature, "freer perhaps in that sphere than I could be in any
other, but with the risk always before me, if I cannot charm the wild
beast of Philistinism while I am trying to convert him, of being torn in
pieces by him, and, even if I succeed to the utmost and convert him, of
dying in a ditch or a workhouse at the end of it all."

The nickname of "Barbarians" for the Aristocracy he justified on the
ground that, like the Barbarians of history who reinvigorated and
renewed our worn-out Europe, they had eminent merits, among which were
staunch individualism and a passion for doing what one likes; a love of
field sports; vigour, good looks, fine complexions, care for the body
and all manly exercises; distinguished bearing, high spirit, and
self-confidence--an admirable collection of attributes indeed, but
marred by insufficiency of light, and "needing, for ideal perfection, a
shade more soul." When we have done with the Barbarians at the top of
the social edifice, and the Middle Class half way up, we come to the
Working Class; and of that class the higher portion "looks forward to
the happy day when it will sit on thrones with commercial Members of
Parliament and other Middle Class potentates; and this portion is
naturally akin to the Philistinism just above it. But below this there
is that vast portion of the Working Class which, raw and undeveloped,
has long lain half hidden amidst its poverty and squalor, and is now
issuing from its hiding-place to assert an Englishman's heaven-born
right of doing as he likes. To this vast residuum we give the name of
'Populace.'" In thus dividing the nation, he is careful to point out
that in each class we may from time to time find "aliens"--men free from
the prejudices, the faults, the temptations of the class in which they
were born; elect souls who, unhindered by their antecedents, share the
higher life of intellectual and moral aspiration.

But, after making this exception, he traces in all three classes the
presence and working of the same besetting sin. All alike, by a dogged
persistence in doing as they like, have come to ignore the existence of
Authority or Right Reason; and this irrecognition of what ought to be
the rule of life operates not only in the political sphere, but also,
and conspicuously, in the spheres of morals, taste, society, and
literature. Self-satisfaction blinds all classes. All alike believe
themselves infallible, and there is no sovereign organ of opinion to set
them right. The fundamental ground of our erroneous habits, and our
unwillingness to be corrected, is "our preference of doing to thinking,"
The mention of this preference leads us to the subject of Chapter IV,
"Hebraism and Hellenism."

[Illustration: Matthew Arnold, 1869

_Photo Hills & Saunders_]

Of all the phrases which Arnold either created or popularized, there is
none more closely associated with his memory than this famous
conjunction of Hebraism and Hellenism; and in this connexion, it is not
out of place to note his abiding interest in, and affection for, the
House of Israel. The present writer once delivered a rather long and
elaborate lecture on Arnold's genius and writings; and next morning a
daily paper gave this masterpiece of condensed and tactful reporting:
"The lecturer stated that Mr. Arnold was of Jewish extraction, and
proceeded to read passages from his works." It might have been more
truly said that the lecturer suggested, as interesting to those who
speculate in race and pedigree, the question whether Arnold's remote
ancestors had belonged to the Ancient Race, and had emigrated from
Germany to Lowestoft, where they dwelt for several generations. There is
certainly no proof that so it was; and genealogical researches would in
any case be out of keeping with the scope of this book. It is enough to
note the fact of his affectionate and grateful feeling towards the
Jewish race, and this can best be done in his own words. The present
Lord Rothschild, formerly Sir Nathaniel de Rothschild, is the first
adherent of the Jewish faith who ever was admitted to the House of
Lords, though of course there have been other Peers of Jewish descent.
When Mr. Gladstone created this Jewish peerage,[32] Arnold wrote as
follows to an admirable lady whose name often appears in his published

"I have received so much kindness from your family, and I have so
sincere a regard for yourself, that I should in any case have been
tempted to send you a word of congratulation on Sir Nathaniel's
peerage; but I really feel also proud and happy for the British public
to have, by this peerage, signally marked the abandonment of its old
policy of exclusion, the final and total abandonment of it. What have we
not learned and gained from the people whom we have been excluding all
these years! And how every one of us will see and say this in the

What, in his view, we had "learned and gained" from the Jewish people,
is well expressed in the preface to _Culture and Anarchy_.

"To walk staunchly by the best light one has, to be strict and sincere
with oneself, not to be of the number of those who say and do not, to be
in earnest--this is the discipline by which alone man is enabled to
rescue his life from thraldom to the passing moment and to his bodily
senses, to ennoble it, and to make it eternal. And this discipline has
been nowhere so effectively taught as in the School of Hebraism. The
intense and convinced energy with which the Hebrew, both of the Old and
the New Testament, threw himself upon his ideal of righteousness, and
which inspired the incomparable definition of the great Christian
virtue, Faith--_the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of
things not seen_--this energy of devotion to its ideal has belonged to
Hebraism alone. As our idea of perfection widens beyond the narrow
limits to which the over-rigour of Hebraising has tended to confine it,
we shall yet come again to Hebraism for that devout energy in embracing
our ideal, which alone can give to man the happiness of doing what he
knows. "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them!"--the last
word for human infirmity will always be that. For this word, reiterated
with a power now sublime, now affecting, but always admirable, our race
will, as long as the world lasts, return to Hebraism."

Having thus described the function of Hebraism, Arnold goes on to define
Hellenism as "the intelligence driving at those ideas which are, after
all, the basis of right practice, the ardent sense for all the new and
changing combinations of them which man's development brings with it,
the indomitable impulse to know and adjust them perfectly." These two
great forces divide the empire of the world between them; and we call
them Hebraism and Hellenism after the two races of men who have most
signally illustrated them. "Hebraism and Hellenism--between these two
points of influence moves our world." The idea of Hellenism is to see
things as they are: the idea of Hebraism is conduct and obedience. Our
aim should be to combine the merits of both ideas, and be "evenly and
happily balanced between them." Enlarging on this text, he traces the
working of the two principles, which ought not to be rivals but have
been made such by the perverseness of men, philosophy and history; and
then, turning to our own day and its doings, he says that Puritanism,
which originally was a reaction of the conscience and moral sense
against the indifference and lax conduct of the Renascence, has gone
counter, during the last two centuries, to the main stream of human
advance; has hindered men from trying to see things as they really are,
and has made strictness of conduct the great aim of human life. "It made
the secondary the principal at the wrong moment, and the principal it at
the wrong moment treated as secondary." Hence have arisen all sorts of
confusion and inefficiency. Everywhere we see the signs of anarchy, and
the need for some sound order and authority. "This we can only get by
going back upon the actual instincts and forces which rule our life,
seeing them as they really are, connecting them with other instincts and
forces, and enlarging our whole view and rule of life."

From this short chapter, he passes on to Chapter V, which he heads:
"_Porro unum est necessarium_"; and here he pursues his controversy with
modern Puritanism, which imagines that it has, in its special
conception of God and religion, the _unum necessarium_, which can
dispense with Sweetness and Light, self-culture and self-discipline.
"The Puritan's great danger is that he imagines himself in possession of
a rule telling him the _unum necessarium_, or one thing needful, and
that he then remains satisfied with a very crude conception of what this
rule really is and what it tells him, thinks he has now knowledge and
henceforth needs only to act, and, in this dangerous state of assurance
and self-satisfaction, proceeds to give full swing to a number of the
instincts of his ordinary self.... What he wants is a larger conception
of human nature, showing him the number of other points at which his
nature must come to its best, besides the points which he himself knows
and thinks of. There is no _unum necessarium_, or one thing needful,
which can free human nature from the obligation of trying to come to its
best at all these points. Instead of our 'one thing needful' justifying
in us vulgarity, hideousness, ignorance, violence--our vulgarity,
hideousness, ignorance, violence are really so many touchstones which
try our one thing needful, and which prove that in the state, at any
rate, in which we ourselves have it, it is not all we want. And, as the
force which encourages us to stand staunch and fast by the rule and
ground we have is Hebraism, so the force which encourages us to go back
upon this rule, and to try the very ground on which we appear to stand,
is Hellenism--a term for giving our consciousness free play, and
enlarging its range."

In his Sixth Chapter--headed "Our Liberal Practitioners"--he applies his
general doctrine to persons and performances of the year 1869. The
Liberal Party was just then busy disestablishing and disendowing the
Irish Church. He was in favour of Established Churches, and of
Concurrent Endowment. He realized the absurdity of the Irish Church as
it then stood; but, true to his critical character, he rebuked the
"Liberal Practitioners" for the spirit in which they were
disestablishing and disendowing it. They did not approach the subject in
the spirit of Hellenism: they did not appeal to Right Reason: they did
not attempt to see the problem of religious establishment as it really
was. But they Hebraized about it--that is, they took an uncritical
interpretation of biblical words as their absolute rule of conduct. "It
may," he said, "be all very well for born Hebraizers, like Mr. Spurgeon,
to Hebraize; but for Liberal statesmen to Hebraize is surely unsafe, and
to see poor old Liberal hacks Hebraizing, whose real self belongs to a
kind of negative Hellenism--a state of moral indifference, without
intellectual ardour--is even painful." In the same manner he dealt with
the movement to abolish Primogeniture, strongly urged by John Bright;
the movement to legalize marriage with a wife's sister--"the craving for
forbidden fruit" joined with "the craving for legality"; and the
doctrine, then supposed to be incontrovertible, of Free Trade. In all
these cases, he proposed to "Hellenize a little," to "turn the free
stream of our thought" on the Liberal policy of the moment; and to "see
how this is related to the intelligible law of human life, and to
national well-being and happiness."

And so we were brought to the conclusion of the whole matter. The
stock-beliefs and stock-performances of Liberalism were exhausted,
uninteresting, in some grave respects mischievous. Seekers after truth,
disciples of culture, men bent on trying to see things as they really
are, should lend no hand to these labours of the Philistines. Their
right course was to stand absolutely aloof from the political work which
was going on round them; and to pursue, with undeviating consistency,
"increased sweetness, increased light, increased life, increased

It is interesting to recall that Charles Kingsley praised _Culture and
Anarchy_ in a letter which greatly pleased Arnold, as showing "the
generous and affectionate side" of Kingsley's disposition. And this is
his answer to Kingsley's praise: "Of my reception by the general public
I have, perhaps, no cause to boast; but from the men who lead in
literature, from men like you, I have met with nothing but kindness and
generosity. The being thrown so much for the last twenty years with
Dissenters, and the observing their great strength and their great
impenetrability--how they seemed to think that in their 'gospel'--a mere
caricature, in truth, of the real Gospel--they had a secret which
enabled them to judge all literature and all art and to keep aloof from
modern ideas--set me on thinking how they might be got at, and on the
use of this parallel of Hebraism and Hellenism. If I was to think only
of the Dissenters, or if I were in your position, I should press
incessantly for more Hellenism; but, as it is, seeing the tendency of
our _young_ poetical litterateur (Swinburne), and, on the other hand,
seeing much of Huxley (whom I thoroughly liked and admire, but find very
disposed to be tyrannical and unjust), I lean towards Hebraism, and try
to prevent the balance from on this side flying up out of sight." Dean
Church, also, in writing about the book, expressed "his sense of the
importance of the distinction between Hellenism and Hebraism." "This,"
said Arnold, "showed his width of mind"; for "it is a distinction on
which more and more will turn, and on dealing wisely with it everything

I have dwelt at this rather disproportionate length on the structure and
teaching of _Culture and Anarchy_, partly because it was to men who were
young in 1869 a landmark in their mental life, and partly because it
gives the whole body of Arnold's political and social teaching. He
pursued this line of thought for twenty years; _Friendship's Garland_,
with its inimitable fun, appeared in 1871, and was followed by a long
series of essays and lectures; but the germ of whatever he subsequently
wrote is to be found in _Culture and Anarchy_. And from that memorable
book what did we learn?

To answer first by negatives, we did not learn to undervalue personal
liberty, or to stand aloof from the practical work of citizenship, or to
despise Parliamentary effort and its bearing on the better life of
England. To these lessons of a fascinating teacher we closed our ears,
charmed he never so wisely. To answer affirmatively, we learned that our
first object must be to attain our own best self, and that only so could
we hope to help others. We learned to discard prepossessions, and try to
see things as they really are. We learned that the Liberty which we
worshipped must be conditioned by Authority--an authority not wielded
by rank or bureaucracy, but by the State acting as a whole through its
accredited representatives, and depending for its existence on the
co-operation of the entire nation. In self-government so founded,
however stringently it might exercise its power, there was no
degradation for the governed, because, in the wider sense, they were
also governors. In brief, Arnold's idea of the State was exactly that
which in later years one of his disciples--Henry Scott
Holland--conceived, when, defending Christian Socialism against the
reproach of "grandmotherly legislation," he said that, in a
well-governed commonwealth, "every man was his own grandmother." But,
while Authority belongs to the State as a whole, it must be exercised
through the agency of officialdom--through the action of officers or
governors designated for the special functions. And here he taught us
that we must not, as Bishop Westcott said, "trust to an uncultivated
notion of duty for an improvised solution of unforeseen difficulties";
must not, like the Alderman-Colonel, "sit in the hall of judgment or
march at the head of men of war, without some knowledge how to perform
judgment and how to direct men of war."

Then again we learned from him to value machinery, not for itself, but
for what it could produce. He taught us that all political
reconstruction was at the best mere improvement of machinery; that
political reform was related to social reform as the means to the end:
and that the end was the perfection of the race in all its physical,
mental, and moral attributes.

Above all we learned--and perhaps it was the most important of our
lessons--to think little of material boons--vulgar wealth and stolid
comfort and ignoble ease; to set our affections on the joys of soul and
spirit; and to recognize in the practice of religion the highest
development and most satisfying use of the powers which belong to man.

[Footnote 21: A favourite creation of the late Mr. William Cory.]

[Footnote 22: Burke.]

[Footnote 23: Mr. Willis' motion to remove the Bishops from the House of
Lords was lost by 11 votes on the 21st of March, 1884.]

[Footnote 24: Now (1893) Lord Wemyss.]

[Footnote 25: _Culture: a Dialogue_, 1867.]

[Footnote 26: See p. 63.]

[Footnote 27: It contains also "My Countrymen" and "A Courteous

[Footnote 28: The writer was then a schoolboy at Harrow, where Arnold
lived from 1868 to 1873.]

[Footnote 29: William Cory.]

[Footnote 30: Reprinted in _Essays in Criticism_.]

[Footnote 31: A Protestant lecturer of the period.]

[Footnote 32: In 1885.]



"By desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don't quite know what
it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power
against evil--widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with
darkness narrower."

Whether Lactantius was etymologically right or wrong, there is no doubt
that he was right substantially when he defined Religion as that which
binds the soul to God. And religion thus conceived naturally divides
itself into two parts: duty and doctrine, practice and theory, conduct
and theology. Both elements are presented to us in the Bible. Of the one
it is written: "The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein."
Of the other: "Which things the angels desire to look into." Even the
respective functions of the Synoptists and St. John seem to accommodate
themselves to this natural division. Following the line thus indicated,
we shall consider Arnold's influence on Religion under the two heads of
Conduct and Theology. The passage from _Middlemarch_ which stands at
the head of this chapter seems in a way to express his attitude towards
the religious problems of his time. It would be impossible for a
convinced believer in the faith of the Christian Church, as
traditionally received, to profess that Arnold "knew what was perfectly
good" in the domain of religion; but beyond all question he "desired" it
with an even passionate desire, and attained far more closely to it than
many professors of a more orthodox theology.

Of him it might be truly said, as of his favourite poet, that he "saw
life steadily and saw it whole." And of life he declared that Conduct
was three-fourths. For all the infinite varieties and contradictions of
mere opinion he had the largest tolerance, knowing that no opinion, as
such, is culpable. For people thinking so diversely as Wordsworth,
Bunsen, Clough, and Palgrave; Church and Temple, Lake and Stanley; Lord
Coleridge, William Forster, and John Morley, he had equally warm regard,
and, in some ways, sympathy. It was only when the sphere of conduct was
approached that his judgment became severe and his sympathy dried up. In
Politics--levity, time-serving, mob-pleasing, the spirit which prefers
partisanship to patriotism, were the faults which he could not pardon.
His imperfect sympathy with Mr. Gladstone, a deplorable but undeniable
fact, was due not so much to dissent from Gladstone's theory of the
public good as to disapproval of his character. "Respect is the very
last feeling he excites in me; he has too little solidity and composure
of character or mind for that. He is brilliantly clever, of course, and
he is honest enough, but he is passionate, and in no way great, I
think." In Religion--obscurantism, resistance to the light, the smug
endeavour to make the best of both worlds, offended Arnold as much on
the one hand, as insolence, violence, ignorant negation, "lightly
running amuck at august things," offended him on the other. He loved a
"free handling, _in a becoming spirit_, of religious matters," and did
not always find it in the writings of his Liberal friends. It is true
that he once made a signal lapse from his own canon of religious
criticism, but he withdrew it with genuine regret that "an illustration
likely to be torn from its context, to be improperly used, and to give
pain, should ever have been adopted." In Literature, again, though his
judgment was critical, his charity was unbounded. He could find
something to praise even in the most immature and unpretending efforts;
and he knew how to distinguish what we call "good of its sort," good in
the second order of achievement, from what is simply bad. In
literature, as in opinion, it was only when moral faults were mingled
with intellectual defects that he became censorious. He detested
literary humbug--a pretence of knowledge without the reality, a show of
philosophy masking poverty of thought; the vanity of quaintness, the
"ring of false metal," the glorification of commonplace.

And so again when we come to Life--the social life of the civilized
community--he was the consistent teacher and the bright example of an
exalted and scrupulous morality. Even the intellectual brilliancy of
authors whom he intensely admired did not often blind him to ethical
defects. It is true that some objects of his literary admiration--Goethe
and Byron and George Sand--could scarcely be regarded as moral
exemplars; but, while he praised the genius, he marked his disapproval
of the moral defect. In writing of George Sand, who had so profoundly
influenced his early life, he did not deny or extenuate "her passions
and her errors." Byron, though he thought him "the greatest natural
force, the greatest elementary power, which has appeared in our
literature since Shakespeare," he roundly accused of "vulgarity and
effrontery," "coarseness and commonness," "affectation and brutal
selfishness." In the case of Goethe, he said that "the moralist and the
man of the world may unite in condemning" his laxity of life; and even
in _Faust_, which he esteemed the "most wonderful work of poetry in our
century," the fact that it is a "seduction-drama" marred his pleasure.
In the same tone he wrote, in the last year of his life, about Renan's
_Abbesse_--"I regret the escapade extremely; he was entirely out of his
role in writing such a book.... Renan descends sensibly in the scale
from having produced his _Abbesse_." Heine, with all his genius, "lacked
the old-fashioned, laborious, eternally needful moral deliverance": he
left a name blemished by "intemperate susceptibility, unscrupulousness
in passion, inconceivable attacks on his enemies, still more
inconceivable attacks on his friends, want of generosity, sensuality,
incessant mocking."

[Illustration: Pains Hill Cottage, Cobham, Surrey

Matthew Arnold's home from 1873 until his death in 1888]

And, while he thus criticised the defective morality of writers whom he
greatly admired, he was, perhaps naturally, still more severe on the
moral defects of those whom he esteemed less highly. "Burns," he said,
"is a beast, with splendid gleams, and the medium in which he lived,
Scotch peasants, Scotch Presbyterianism, and Scotch drink, is
repulsive." On Coleridge, critic, poet, philosopher, his judgment was
that he "had no morals," and that his character inspired "disesteem,
nay, repugnance." Bulwer-Lytton he thought a consummate novel-writer,
but "his was by no means a perfect nature"--"a strange mixture of
what is really romantic and interesting with what is tawdry and
gimcracky." _Villette_ he pronounced "disagreeable, because the writer's
mind contains nothing but hunger, rebellion, and rage, and therefore
that is all she can put into her book." Of Harriet Martineau, the other
of the "two gifted women," whose exploits he had glorified in _Haworth
Churchyard_, he wrote in later years that she had "undeniable talent,
energy, and merit," but "what an unpleasant life and unpleasant nature!"

And, so everywhere the moral element--the sense for Conduct--mingles
itself with his literary judgment. But it was in his attack on Shelley,
written within four months of his own death, that he most vigorously
displayed his detestation of moral shortcomings, and his sense of their
poisonous effect on the performances of genius. "In this article on
Shelley," he wrote, "I have spoken of his life, not his poetry.
Professor Dowden was too much for my patience."[33] It can hardly be
questioned that the publication of that biography did a signal
disservice to the memory of the poet whom Professor Dowden idolized. The
lack of taste, judgment, and humour which pervades the book, and its
complete, though of course unintended, condonation of heinous evil,
deserved a severe castigation, and Arnold bestowed it with a vigour and
a thoroughness which show how deeply his moral sense had been shocked.
"What a set! what a world! is the exclamation that breaks from us as we
come to an end of this history of 'the occurrences of Shelley's private
life.' ... Godwin's house of sordid horror, and Godwin preaching and
holding the hat, and the green-spectacled Mrs. Godwin, and Hogg the
faithful friend, and Hunt the Horace of this precious world!"

Fresh from pursuing, step by step, Professor Dowden's grim narrative of
seduction and suicide, with its ludicrous testimony to Shelley's
"conscientiousness," Arnold says, with honest indignation, "After
reading his book, one feels sickened for ever of the subject of
irregular relations.... I conclude that an entirely human
inflammability, joined to an inhuman want of humour and a super-human
power of self-deception, are the causes which chiefly explain Shelley's
abandonment of Harriet in the first place, and then his behaviour to her
and defence of himself afterwards."

In spite of all this abomination, which he so clearly saw and so
strongly reprehended, he still stands firm in his admiration of the
"ideal Shelley," "the delightful Shelley," "the friend of the
unfriended poor," the radiant and many-coloured poet, with his mastery
of the medium of sounds, and the "natural magic in his rhythm." But then
he adds this salutary caution: "Let no one suppose that a want of humour
and a self-delusion such as Shelley's have no effect upon a man's
poetry. The man Shelley, in very truth, is not entirely sane, and
Shelley's poetry is not entirely sane either." In poetry, as in life, he
is "a beautiful and ineffectual angel."

And just as, in Arnold's view, moral defects in an author were apt to
mar the perfection of his work, so an author's moral virtues might
ennoble and enlarge his authorship. Hear him on his friend Arthur
Clough: "He possessed, in an eminent degree, these two invaluable
literary qualities: a true sense for his object of study, and a
single-hearted care for it. He had both; but he had the second even more
eminently than the first. He greatly developed the first through means
of the second. In the study of art, poetry, or philosophy, he had the
most undivided and disinterested love for the object in itself, the
greatest aversion to mixing up with it anything accidental or personal.
His interest was in literature itself; and it was this which gave so
rare a stamp to his character, which kept him so free from all taint of
littleness. In the saturnalia of ignoble personal passions, of which
the struggle for literary success, in old and crowded communities,
offers so sad a spectacle, he never mingled. He had not yet traduced his
friends, nor flattered his enemies, nor disparaged what he admired, nor
praised what he despised. Those who knew him well had the conviction
that, even with time, these literary arts would never be his. His poem,
_The Bothie of Toper-na-Fuosich_, has some admirable Homeric
qualities--out-of-doors freshness, life, naturalness, buoyant rapidity.
Some of the expressions in that poem ... come back now to my ear with
the true Homeric ring. But that in him of which I think oftenest is the
Homeric simplicity of his literary life."

We have seen more than once that, according to Arnold, poetry was a
criticism of life; but he always maintained that this was true of poetry
only because poetry is part of literature, and all literature was a
criticism of life. One may demur to the statement as greatly too
unguarded in its terms, but certainly he was true to his own doctrine,
and in practice, from first to last, he used literature as a medium for
criticising the life and conduct of his fellow-men. In the last year of
his life he produced with approbation "a favourite saying of Ptolemy the
astronomer, which Bacon quotes in its Latin version thus:--_Quum fini
appropinquas, bonum cum augmento operare_"--"As you draw near to your
latter end, redouble your efforts to do good." And this redoubled effort
was in his case all of a piece with what had gone before. In 1863 he
wrote to a friend: "In trying to heal the British demoniac, true
doctrine is not enough; one must convey the true doctrine with studied
moderation; for, if one commits the least extravagance, the poor madman
seizes hold of this, tears and rends it, and quite fails to perceive
that you have said anything else."

All his literary life was spent in trying to convey "true doctrine with
studied moderation." And in his true doctrine nothing was more
conspicuous than his insistence, early and late, on the supreme
importance of character and conduct. The first object of life was to
realize one's best self, and this endeavour required not merely
cleverness or information: even genius would not of itself suffice;
still less would adherence to any particular body of opinions. If a man
was _dis-respectable_, "not even the merit of not being a Philistine
could make up for it." Character issuing in Conduct--this was the true
culture which we must all ensue, if by any means we were to attain to
our predestined perfection; and, if that were once secured, all the
rest--talent, fame, influence, length of days, worldly
prosperity--mattered little. Thus he wrote of his friend Edward

    I saw him sensitive in frame,
      I knew his spirits low:
    And wish'd him health, success, and fame--
      I do not wish it now.

    For these are all their own reward,
      And leave no good behind;
    They try us, oftenest make us hard,
      Less modest, pure, and kind.

    Alas! yet to the suffering man,
      In this his mortal state,
    Friends could not give what fortune can--
      Health, ease, a heart elate.

    But he is now by fortune foil'd
      No more; and we retain
    The memory of a man unspoil'd,
      Sweet, generous, and humane--

    With all the fortunate have not,
      With gentle voice and brow.
    --Alive, we would have changed his lot,
      We would not change it now.

When his eldest boy died he wrote to a friend: "He is gone--and all the
absorption in one's own occupations which prevented one giving to him
more than moments, all one's occasional impatience, all one's taking his
ailments as a matter of course, come back upon one as something
inconceivable and inhuman. And his mother, who has nothing of all this
to reproach herself with, who was everything to him and would have given
herself for him, has lost the occupation of sixteen years, and has to
begin life over again. The one endless comfort to us is the thought of
the _sweet, firm, sterling character_ which the darling child developed
in and by all his sufferings and privations. Of that we can think and

When his second boy died he said that his "deepest feeling" was best
expressed by his own _Dejaneira_--

    But him, on whom, in the prime
    Of life, with vigour undimm'd,
    With unspent mind, and a soul
    _Unworn, undebased, undecay'd_,
    Mournfully grating, the gates
    Of the city of death have for ever closed--
    _Him_, I count _him_ well-starr'd.

In teaching the high lesson of Character and Conduct, he dealt sparingly
in words, even words of "studied moderation." He taught principally, he
taught conspicuously, he taught all his life long, by Example. In
regarding that example, as it stands clear across the interspace of
fifteen years, we are reminded of Tertullian's doctrine concerning the
_anima naturaliter Christiana_. A more genuinely amiable man never
lived. His sunny temper, his quick sympathy, his inexhaustible fun,
were natural gifts. But something more than nature must have gone to
make his constant unselfishness, his manly endurance of adverse fate,
his noble cheerfulness under discouraging circumstances, his buoyancy in
breasting difficulties, his unremitting solicitude for the welfare and
enjoyment of those who stood nearest to his heart. The secret of his
life was that he had taken pains with his own character. While he was
still quite young we find him bewailing the "worldly element which
enters so largely into his composition," and which threatens to make a
gulf between him and the strict, almost Puritanical, associations of his
youth. "But," he says in writing to his sister, "as Thomas à Kempis
recommended, _frequentur tibi violentiam fac_ ... so I intend not to
give myself the rein in following my natural tendency, but to make war
against it till it ceases to isolate me from you, and leaves me with the
power to discern and adopt the good which you have and I have not."

The result of this self-discipline and self-culture was to produce in
him all the virtues which are supposed to be specifically and peculiarly
Christian. "Christianity," said Bishop Creighton, "impressed the Roman
world by its power of producing men who were strong in self-control, and
this must always be its contribution to the world." Arnold's
self-control was absolute and unshakable; and to self-control he added
the characteristically Christian virtues of surrender, placability,
readiness to forgive injuries, perfect freedom from envy, hatred, and
malice. He revered the "method and secret of Jesus"; he did all honour
to His "mildness and sweet reasonableness." "Christianity," he said, "is
Hebraism aiming at self-conquest and rescue from the thrall of vile
affections, not by obedience to the letter of a law, but by conformity
to the image of a self-sacrificing example. To a world stricken with
moral enervation Christianity offered its spectacle of an inspired
self-sacrifice; to men who refuse themselves nothing it showed one who
refused himself everything." Following this example, Arnold preached
"Grace and peace by the annulment of our ordinary self," and what he
preached he practised. "Kindness and Pureness," he said, "Charity and
Chastity. If any virtues could stand for the whole of Christianity,
these might. Let us have them from the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself.
'He that loveth his life shall lose it; a new commandment give I unto
you, that ye love one another.' There is charity. 'Blest are the pure in
heart, for they shall see God.' There is purity." Charity was indeed the
law of Arnold's life. He loved with a passionate and persistent love. He
loved his wife with increasing devotion as years went on, when she had
become "my sweet Granny," and they both felt that "we are too old for
separations." He loved with equal fondness his mother (whom in his
brightness, fun, and elasticity he closely resembled), the sisters who
so keenly shared his intellectual tastes, his children living and
departed. "Dick[34] was a tower of strength." "Lucy[35] is such a
perfect companion." "Nelly[36] is the dearest girl in the world." "That
little darling[4] we have left behind us at Laleham; and he will soon
fade out of people's remembrance, but _we_ shall remember him as long as
we live, and he will be one more bond between us, even more perhaps in
his death than in his sweet little life." "It was exactly a year since
we had driven to Laleham with darling Tommy[38] and the other two boys
to see Basil's[37] grave; and now we went to see _his_ grave, poor
darling." "I cannot write Budge's[39] name without stopping to look at
it in stupefaction at his not being alive."

Outside the circle of his family, his affection was widely bestowed and
faithfully maintained. He had the true genius of friendship, and when
he signed himself "affectionately" it meant that he really loved.
Enmities he had none. If ever he had suffered injuries they were
forgiven, forgotten, and buried out of sight. Even in the controversies
where his strongest convictions were involved, he steadily abstained
from bitterness, violence, and detraction. "Fiery hatred and malice," he
said, with perfect truth, "are what I detest, and would always allay or
avoid if I could."

In the preface to his _Last Essays on the Church and Religion_, he takes
those two great lessons of the Christian Gospel--Charity and
Chastity--and goes on to show how they illustrate "the _natural truth_
of Christianity," as distinct from any considerations of Revelation or
Law. "Now, really," he says, writing in 1877, "if there is a lesson
which in our day has come to force itself upon everybody, in all
quarters and by all channels, it is the lesson of the _solidarity_, as
it is called by modern philosophers, of men. If there was ever a notion
tempting to common human nature, it was the notion that the rule of
'every man for himself' was the rule of happiness. But at last it turns
out as a matter of experience, and so plainly that it is coming to be
even generally admitted--it turns out that the only real happiness is in
a kind of impersonal higher life, where the happiness of others counts
with a man as essential to his own. He that loves his life does really
turn out to lose it, and the new commandment proves its own truth by

And then he goes on to what he justly calls "the other great Christian
virtue, Pureness." When he was thirty-two, he had written--"The lives
and deaths of the 'pure in heart' have, perhaps, the privilege of
touching us more deeply than those of others--partly, no doubt, because
with them the disproportion of suffering to deserts seems so unusually
great. However, with them one feels--even I feel--that for their
purity's sake, if for that alone, whatever delusions they may have
wandered in, and whatever impossibilities they may have dreamed of, they
shall undoubtedly, in some sense or other, see God." And now,
twenty-three years later, he returns to the same theme. Science, he
says, is beginning to throw doubts on the "truth and validity of the
Christian idea of Pureness." There can be no more vital question for
human society. On the side of _natural truth_, experience must decide.
"But," he says, "finely-touched souls have a presentiment of a thing's
natural truth, even though it be questioned, and long before the
palpable proof by experience convinces all the world. They have it quite
independently of their attitude towards traditional religion.... All
well-inspired souls will perceive the profound natural truth of the
idea of pureness, and will be sure, therefore, that the more boldly it
is challenged the more sharply and signally will experience mark its
truth. So that of the two great Christian virtues, charity and chastity,
kindness and pureness, the one has at this moment the most signal
testimony from experience to its intrinsic truth and weight, and the
other is expecting it."

Again, in _God and the Bible_, he has a most instructive passage on the
relation of the sexes. "Here," he says, "we are on ground where to walk
right is of vital concern to men, and where disasters are plentiful." He
speculates on that relation as it may be supposed to have subsisted in
the first ages of the human race, and tries to trace it down to the
point of time "where history and religion begin." "And at this point we
first find the Hebrew people, with polygamy still clinging to it as a
survival from the times of ignorance, but with the marriage-tie solidly
established, strict and sacred, as we see it between Abraham and Sara.
Presently this same Hebrew people, with that aptitude which
characterized it for being profoundly impressed by ideas of moral order,
placed in the Decalogue the marriage-tie under the express and solemn
sanction of the Eternal, by the Seventh Commandment: _Thou shalt not
commit adultery_." And again: "Such was Israel's genius for the ideas
of moral order and of right, such his intuition of the Eternal that
makes for righteousness, that he felt without a shadow of a doubt, and
said with the most impressive solemnity, that Free Love was--to speak,
again, like our modern philosopher--fatal to progress. _He knoweth not
that the dead are there, and that her guests are in the depths of

The fact, already stated, that in the last years of his life, Arnold
declared that his _Discourses in America_ was the book by which, of all
his prose-writings, he most wished to be remembered, gives to whatever
he enounced in those Discourses a special authority, a peculiar weight,
for his disciples; and nowhere is his testimony on behalf of Virtue and
Right Conduct more earnestly delivered.

When the odious Voltaire urged his followers to "Crush the Infamous," he
had in mind that virtue which is specially characteristic of
Christianity.[40] A century later Renan said: "Nature cares nothing for
chastity." _Les frivoles out peutêtre raison_--"The gay people are
perhaps in the right." Against this doctrine of devils Arnold uttered a
protesting and a warning voice. He was--heaven knows!--no enemy to
France. All that is best in French literature and French life he admired
almost to excess. His sympathy with France was so keen that Sainte-Beuve
wrote to him--"Vous avez traversé notre vie et notre littérature par une
ligne intérieure, profonde, qui fait les initiés, et que vous ne perdrez
jamais." But in spite of, perhaps because of, this sympathy with France,
he felt himself bound to protest and to warn.

Addressing his American audience in November, 1883, he pointed out the
dangers which England, Ireland, America, and France incur through
habitual disregard, in each case, of some virtue or grace without which
national perfection is impossible. He used, as a kind of text for his
discourse, the famous passage from the Philippians. "Whatsoever things
are true, whatsoever things are elevated, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are amiable, whatsoever
things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any
praise, have these in your mind, let your thoughts run upon these."

_Whatsoever things are pure_. [Greek: osa hagua]--thus the teacher of
Culture moralized on this pregnant phrase.

[Illustration: The Union Rooms, Oxford

At the Jubilee of the Union, 1873, Matthew Arnold responded to Dr.
Liddon's speech proposing 'Literature'

_Photo H.W. Taunt_]

"The question was once asked by the Town Clerk of Ephesus: 'What man is
there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a
worshipper of the great goddess Diana?' Now really, when one looks at
the popular literature of the French at this moment--their popular
novels, popular stage-plays, popular newspapers--and at the life of
which this literature of theirs is the index, one is tempted to make a
goddess out of a word of their own, and then, like the Town Clerk of
Ephesus, to ask: 'What man is there that knoweth not how that the city
of the French is a worshipper of the great goddess Lubricity?' Or
rather, as Greek is the classic and euphonious language for names of
gods and goddesses, let us take her name from the Greek Testament, and
call her the goddess Aselgeia. That goddess has always been a sufficient
power amongst mankind, and her worship was generally supposed to need
restraining rather than encouraging. But here is now a whole people,
law, literature, nay, and art too, at her service! Stimulations and
suggestions by her and to her meet one in it at every turn.... 'Nature,'
cries M. Renan, 'cares nothing about chastity.' What a slap in the face
to the sticklers for 'Whatsoever things are pure'!... Even though a
gifted man like M. Renan may be so carried away by the tide of opinion
in France where he lives, as to say that Nature cares nothing about
chastity, and to see with amused indulgence the worship of the great
goddess Lubricity, let us stand fast and say that her worship is against
nature--human nature--and that it is ruin. For this is the test of its
being against human nature, that for human societies it is ruin. And the
test is one from which there is no escape, as from the old tests in such
matters there may be. For, if you allege that it is the will of God that
we should be pure, the sceptical Gallo-Latins will tell you that they do
not know any such person. And in like manner, if it is said that those
who serve the goddess Aselgeia shall not inherit the Kingdom of God, the
Gallo-Latin may tell you that he does not believe in any such place. But
that the sure tendency and upshot of things establishes that the service
of the goddess Aselgeia is ruin, that her followers are marred and
stunted by it, and disqualified for the ideal society of the future, is
an infallible test to employ.

"The saints admonish us to let our thoughts run upon whatsoever things
are pure, if we would inherit the Kingdom of God; and the divine Plato
tells us that we have within us a many-headed beast and a man, and that
by dissoluteness we feed or strengthen the beast in us, and starve the
man; and finally, following the divine Plato among the sages at a humble
distance, comes the prosaic and unfashionable Paley, and says in his
precise way: that 'this vice has a tendency, which other species of vice
have not so directly, to unsettle and weaken the powers of the
understanding; as well as, I think, in a greater degree than other
vices, to render the heart thoroughly corrupt.' True; and, once admitted
and fostered, it eats like a canker, and with difficulty can ever be
brought to let go its hold again, but for ever tightens it. Hardness and
insolence come in its train; an insolence which grows till it ends by
exasperating and alienating everybody; a hardness which grows until the
man can at last scarcely take pleasure in anything, outside the service
of his goddess, except cupidity and greed, and cannot be touched with
emotion by any language except Fustian. Such are the fruits of the
worship of the great goddess Aselgeia.

"So, instead of saying that Nature cares nothing about chastity, let us
say that human nature, _our_ nature, cares about it a great deal.... The
Eternal has attached to certain moral causes the safety or the ruin of
States, and the present popular literature of France is a sign that she
has a most dangerous moral disease."

In the following year, he thus commented on the Festival of Christmas
and its spiritual significance:

"When we are asked, What really is Christmas, and what does it
celebrate? We answer, the birthday of Jesus. What is the miracle of the
Incarnation? A homage to the virtue of Pureness, and to the
manifestation of this virtue in Jesus. What is Lent, and the miracle of
the temptation? A homage to the virtue of self-control, and to the
manifestation of this virtue in Jesus."

"That on which Christmas, even in its popular acceptation, fixes our
attention, is that to which the popular instinct in attributing to Jesus
His miraculous Incarnation, in believing Him born of a pure virgin, did
homage--pureness. And this, to which the popular instinct thus did
homage, was an essential characteristic of Jesus and an essential virtue
of Christianity, the obligation of which, though apt to be questioned
and discredited in the world, is at the same time nevertheless a
necessary fact of nature and eternal truth of reason."

So much I have quoted in order to show that, in relation to the most
important department of human conduct, Arnold's influence, to use his
own phrase, "made for righteousness," and made for righteousness
unequivocally and persistently. So keen was his sense of the supreme
value of this characteristically Christian virtue that he framed what
old-fashioned theologians would have called a "hedge of the law."[41] In
season and out of season, whether men would bear or whether they would
forbear, he taught the sacredness of marriage. For the Divorce Court and
all its works and ways he had nothing but detestation. He ranked it,
with our gin-palaces, among the blots on our civilization. From Goethe,
perhaps a curious authority on such a subject, he quotes approvingly a
protest against over-facility in granting divorce, and an acknowledgment
that Christianity has won a "culture-conquest" in establishing the
sacredness of marriage. Man's progress, he says, depends on his keeping
such "culture-conquests" as these; and of all attempts to undo these
conquests, give back what we have won, and accustom the public mind to
laxity, he was the unsparing foe.

It may help to remind us that, in spite of all our shortcomings, we have
travelled a little way towards virtue, or at least towards decency, if
we recall that in 1863 Lord Palmerston, then in his eightieth year and
Prime Minister of England, figured in a very unseemly affair which had
the Divorce Court for its centre. Arnold writes as follows: "We had ----
with us one day. He was quite full of the Lord Palmerston scandal,
which your charming newspaper, the _Star_--that true reflection of the
rancour of Protestant Dissent in alliance with all the vulgarity,
meddlesomeness, and grossness of the British multitude--has done all it
could to spread abroad. It was followed yesterday by the _Standard_, and
is followed to-day by the _Telegraph_. Happy people, in spite of our bad
climate and cross tempers, with our penny newspapers!"

The admirable satire of _Friendship's Garland_ is constantly levelled
against national aberrations in this direction. In the year 1870 there
was a fashionable divorce-case, more than usually scandalous, and the
disgusting narrative had been followed with keen interest by those who
look up at the Aristocracy as men look up at the stars. In reference to
this case, he quotes to his imaginary friend Arminius the noble
sentiment of Barrow: "Men will never be heartily loyal and submissive to
authority till they become really good; nor will they ever be very good
till they see their leaders such." To which Arminius replies, in his
thoughtful manner: "Yes, that is what makes your Lord C----s so
inexpressibly precious!" A certain Lord C----, be it observed, having
figured very conspicuously in the trial.

With reference to the enormous publicity given in England to such
malefic matter, Arnold says to Arminius: "When a Member of Parliament
wanted to abridge the publicity given to the M---- case, the Government
earnestly reminded him that it had been the solemn decision of the House
of Commons that all the proceedings of the Divorce Court should be as
open as the day. When there was a suggestion to hear the B---- case in
private, the upright magistrate who was appealed to said firmly that he
could never trifle with the public mind in that manner. All this was as
it should be. So far, so good. But was the publicity in these cases
perfectly full and entire? Were there not some places which the details
did not reach? There were few, but there were some. And this, while the
Government has an organ of its own, the _London Gazette_, dull,
high-priced, and of comparatively limited circulation! I say, make the
price of the _London Gazette_ a halfpenny; change its name to the
_London Gazette and Divorce Intelligencer_; let it include besides
divorce news, all cases whatever that have an interest of the same
nature for the public mind; distribute it _gratis_ to mechanics'
institutes, workmen's halls, seminaries for the young (these latter more
especially), and then you will be giving the principle of publicity a
full trial. This is what I often say to Arminius; and, when he looks
astounded, I reassure him with a sentence which, I know very well, the
moment I make it public will be stolen by the Liberal newspapers. But it
is getting near Christmas-time, and I do not mind making them a present
of it. It is this: _The spear of freedom, like that of Achilles, has the
power to heal the wounds which itself makes_."

In _Friendship's Garland_, from the very structure of the book, his
serious judgments have to be delivered by the mouth of his Prussian
friend; and here is his judgment on our public concessions to
pruriency--"By shooting all this garbage on your public, you are
preparing and assuring for your English people an immorality as deep and
wide as that which destroys the Latin nations."

But his "hedge of the law" had other thorns besides those with which he
pierced the Divorce Court and its hideous literature. He had shrewd
sarcasms for all who, by whatever method, sought to gratify "that double
craving so characteristic of our Philistine, and so eminently
exemplified in that crowned Philistine, Henry the Eighth--the craving
for forbidden fruit and the craving for legality." He poured scorn on
the newspapers which glorified "the great sexual insurrection of the
Anglo-Teutonic race," and the author who extolled the domestic life of
Mormonism. "Mr. Hepworth Dixon may almost be called the Colenso of Love
and Marriage--such a revolution does he make in our ideas on these
matters, just as Dr. Colenso does in our ideas on religion." He thus
forecasts the doings of a Philistine House of Commons in 1871. "Mr. T.
Chambers will again introduce that enfranchising measure, against which
I have had some prejudices--the Bill for enabling a man to marry his
deceased wife's sister. The devoted adversaries of the Contagious
Diseases Act will spread through the length and breadth of the land a
salutary discussion of this equivocal measure and of all matters
connected with it; and will thus, at the same time that they oppose
immorality, enable the followers of even the very straitest sects of
Puritanism to see life." All these various attempts to break down the
"hedge of the law" received in turn their merited condemnation; but
always we are brought back from the consideration of kindred evils, to
the proposal to legalize marriage with a wife's sister. Thus the
imaginary leader-writer of the _Daily Telegraph_ summarizes the
controversy: "Why, I ask, is Mr. Job Bottles' liberty, his Christian
liberty, as our reverend friend would say, to be abridged in this
manner? And why is Protestant Dissent to be diverted from its great task
of abolishing State Churches for the purpose of removing obstacles to
the 'sexual insurrection' of our race? Why are its poor devoted
ministers to be driven to contract, in the interests of Christian
liberty, illegal unions of this kind themselves, _pour encourager les
autres_? Why is the earnest Liberalism and Nonconformity of Lancashire
and Yorkshire to be agitated on this question by hope deferred? Why is
it to be put incessantly to the inconvenience of going to be married in
Germany or in the United States, that greater and better Britain--

    Which gives us manners, freedom, virtue, power?

Why must ideas on this topic have to be incubated for years in that
'nest of spicery,' as the divine Shakespeare says, the mind of Mr. T.
Chambers, before they can rule the world? For my own part, my resolve is
formed. This great question shall henceforth be seriously taken up in
Fleet Street. As a sop to those toothless old Cerberuses the bishops,
who impotently exhibit still the passions of another age, we will accord
the continuance of the prohibition which forbids a man to marry his
grandmother. But in other directions there shall be freedom. Mr.
Chambers' admirable Bill for enabling a woman to marry her sister's
husband will doubtless pass triumphantly through Committee to-night,
amidst the cheers of the Ladies' Gallery. The Liberal Party must
supplement that Bill by two others: one enabling people to marry their
brothers' and sisters' children, the other enabling a man to marry his
brother's wife."

There is perhaps no social mischief which Arnold attacked so
persistently as the proposal to legalize marriage with a wife's sister.
The most passionate advocates of that "enfranchising measure" will
scarcely think that his hostility was due to what John Bright so
gracefully called "ecclesiastical rubbish." Councils and Synods, Decrees
and Canons, were held by him in the lightest esteem. The formal side of
Religion--the side of dogma and doctrine and rule and definition--had no
attractions for him, and no terrors. He never dreamed that the Table of
Kindred and Affinity was a Third Table of the Divine Law. His appeal in
these matters was neither to Moses nor to Tertullian, but to "the genius
of the race which invented the Muses, and Chivalry, and the Madonna."
And yet he disliked the "enfranchising measure" quite as keenly as the
clergyman who wrote to the _Guardian_ about incest, though indeed he
expressed his dislike in a very different form. Here, as always and
everywhere, he betook himself to his "sinuous, easy, unpolemical"
method, and thereby made his repugnance to the proposed change felt and
understood in quarters which would never have listened to arguments
from Leviticus, or fine distinctions between _malum per se_ and _malum
prohibitum_. The ground of his repugnance was primarily his strong
sense, already illustrated, that the sacredness of marriage, and the
customs that regulate it, were triumphs of culture which had been won,
painfully and with effort, from the unbridled promiscuity of primitive
life. To impair that sacredness, to dislocate those customs, was to take
a step backwards into darkness and anarchy. His keen sense of moral
virtue--that instinctive knowledge of evil which, as Frederick Robertson
said, comes not of contact with evil but of repulsion from it, assured
him that the "great sexual insurrection" was not merely a grotesque
phrase, but a movement of the time which threatened national disaster,
and to which, in its most plausible manifestations, the stoutest
resistance must be offered. Here again his love of coherence and logical
symmetry, his born hatred of an anomaly, his belief in Reason as the
true guide of life, made him intolerant of all the palpably insincere
attempts to say _Thus far and no farther_. He knew that all the laws of
Affinity must stand or fall together, and that no ground in reason can
be alleged against marriage with a husband's brother which does not tell
against marriage with a wife's sister. Yet again he regarded the
proposed changes as betraying the smug viciousness of the more
full-blooded Philistines--

    Men full of meat whom wholly He abhors,[42]--

who, trying to keep a foot in each world of legality and indulgence,
sought patronage from the rich and deceived and exploited the poor.

Certainly not the least of his objections to the "enfranchising measure"
was that, in breaking down the hedge of the law, it invaded Delicacy;
and whatever invaded delicacy helped to precipitate gross though perhaps
unforeseen evils. Unfortunately there are great masses--whole
classes--of people to whom delicacy, whether in speech or act, means
nothing. To eat, drink, sleep, buy and sell, marry and be given in
marriage, is for those masses the ideal and the law of life. These
things granted, they desire no more: any restriction on them, any
refinement of them, they dislike and resent. In another place[43] we
have cited the mysterious effect produced upon the Paris Correspondent
of the _Daily Telegraph_ by the sudden sound of the word "Delicacy." And
that word was uttered in connexion with the "enfranchising measure." "If
legislation on this subject were impeded by the party of bigotry, if
they chose not to wait for it, if they got married without it, and if
you were to meet them on the boulevard at Paris during their wedding
tour, should you go up to Bottles and say: 'Mr. Bottles, you are a
profligate man!' Poor Mr. Matthew Arnold, upon this, emerged suddenly
from his corner, and asked hesitatingly: 'But will any one dare to call
him a man of delicacy?' The question was so utterly unpractical that I
took no note of it whatever, and should not have mentioned it if it had
not been for its extraordinary effect upon our Paris Correspondent....
My friend Nick, who has all the sensitive temperament of genius, seemed
inexplicably struck by this word _delicacy_, which he kept repeating to
himself. 'Delicacy,' said he--'delicacy--surely I have heard that word
before! Yes, in other days,' he went on dreamily, 'in my fresh
enthusiastic youth; before I knew Sala, before I wrote for that infernal
paper, before I called Dixon's style lithe and sinewy--' 'Collect
yourself, my friend,' laying my hand on his shoulder; 'you are unmanned.
But in mentioning Dixon you redouble my strength; for you bring to my
mind the great sexual insurrection of the Anglo-Teutonic race, and the
master-spirit which guides it.'"[44]

But in matters far outside the region of marriage, that word
"delicacy," which so powerfully affected the Paris correspondent, is the
key to a great deal of what Arnold felt and wrote. In the sphere of
conduct he set up, as we have seen, two supreme objects for veneration
and attainment: Chastity and Charity. He practised them, he taught them,
and he used them as decisive tests of what was good and what was bad in
national life. But plainly there are large tracts of existence which lie
outside the purview of these two virtues. There is the domain of
honesty, integrity, and fair dealing; there is a loyalty to truth, the
pursuit of conscience at all costs and hazards; there is all that is
contained in the idea of beauty, propriety, and taste. None of these are
touched by charity or chastity. For example, a man may have an
unblemished life and a truly affectionate heart; and yet he may be
incorrigible in money-matters, or be ready to sacrifice principle to
convenience, or, like our great Middle Class generally, may be serenely
content with hideousness and bad manners.

Now in all these departments of human life, less important indeed than
the two chiefest, but surely not unimportant, Arnold applied the
criterion of delicacy. "A finely-touched nature," he said, "will respect
in itself the sense of delicacy not less than the sense of honesty....
The worship of sharp bargains is fatal to delicacy; nor is that missing
grace restored by accompanying the sharp bargain with an exhibition of
fine sentiments." Then, again, as regards loyalty to conviction, he knew
full well that, in Newman's phrase, he might "have saved himself many a
scrape, if he had been wise enough to hold his tongue." "The thought of
you," he wrote to Mr. Morley, "and of one or two other friends, was
often present to me in America, and, no doubt, contributed to make me
hold fast to 'the faith once delivered to the Saints.'" The slightest
deviation from the line of clear conviction--the least turning to left
or right in order to cocker a prejudice or please an audience or flatter
a class, showed a want of delicacy--a preference of present popularity
to permanent self-respect--which he could never have indulged in
himself, and with difficulty tolerated in others. He had nothing but
contempt for "philosophical politicians with a turn for swimming with
the stream, and philosophical divines with the same turn." And then,
again, in the whole of that great sphere which belongs to Beauty,
Propriety, and Taste, his sense of delicacy was always at work, and not
seldom in pain. "Ah," he exclaimed, quoting from Rivarol, "no one
considers how much pain any man of taste has to suffer, before ever he
inflicts any." To inflict pain was not, indeed, in his way, but to
suffer it was his too-frequent lot. From first to last he was protesting
against hideousness, rawness, vulgarity, and commonplace; craving for
sweetness, light, beauty and colour, instead of the bitterness, the
ugliness, the gloom and the drab which provided such large portions of
English life. "The [Greek: euphnês] is the man who turns towards
sweetness and light; the [Greek: aphnês] on the other hand is our
Philistine." "I do not much believe in good being done by a man unless
he can give _light_." "Oxford by her ineffable charm keeps ever calling
us nearer to the true goal of all of us, to the ideal, to perfection, to
_beauty_." In his constant quest for these glorious things--beauty,
colour, sweetness, and light,--his sense of delicacy had much to
undergo; for, in the class with which he was by the work of his life
brought in contact, they were unknown and unimagined; and the only class
where "elegance and refinement, beauty and grace" were found, was
inaccessible to Light. In both classes he found free scope for his
doctrine of Delicacy, one day remonstrating with a correspondent for
"living in a place with the absurd, and worse, name of 'Marine
Retreat'"; another, preaching that "a piano in a Quaker's drawing-room
is a step for him to more humane life;" and again "liking and respecting
polite tastes in a grandee," when Lord Ravensworth consulted him
about Latin verses. "At present far too many of Lord Ravensworth's class
are mere men of business, or mere farmers, or mere horse-racers, or mere
men of pleasure." That was a consummation which delicacy in the
Aristocratic class would make impossible. To cultivate in oneself, and
apply in one's conduct, this instinct of delicacy, was a lesson which no
one, who fell under Arnold's influence, could fail to learn. He taught
us to "liberate the gentler element in oneself," to eschew what was base
and brutal, unholy and unkind. He taught us to seek in every department
of life for what was "lovely and of good report," tasteful, becoming,
and befitting; to cultivate "man's sense for beauty, and man's instinct
for fit and pleasing forms of social life and manners." He taught us to
plan our lives, as St. Paul taught the Corinthians to plan their
worship, [Greek: euschmnonôs kai kata taxin],"--in right, graceful, or
becoming figure, and by fore-ordered arrangement."[45] Alike his
teaching and his example made us desire (however imperfectly we attained
our object) to perceive in all the contingencies and circumstances of
life exactly the line of conduct which would best consist with Delicacy,
and so to make virtue victorious by practising it attractively.

[Illustration: Matthew Arnold, 1880

_From the Painting by G.F. Watts, R.A._

_Photo F. Hollyer_]

[Footnote 33: _The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley_, by Edward Dowden,
LL.D. 1886.]

[Footnote 34: His third son.]

[Footnote 35: His elder daughter.]

[Footnote 36: His younger daughter.]

[Footnote 37: His fourth son.]

[Footnote 38: His eldest son.]

[Footnote 39: His second son.]

[Footnote 40: "Chastity was the supreme virtue in the eyes of the
Church, the mystic key to Christian holiness. Continence was one of the
most sacred pretensions by which the organized preachers of superstition
claimed the reverence of men and women. It was identified, therefore, in
a particular manner with that Infamous, against which the main assault
of the time was directed."--Morley's _Voltaire_.]

[Footnote 41: "_Rules of Cautions; or, Helps to Obedience_: called by
some the Hedge of the Law."--Bishop Andrews.]

[Footnote 42: F.W.H. Myers.]

[Footnote 43: Page 15.]

[Footnote 44: The allusion is to the late Mr. W. Hepworth Dixon, and his
writings on the Polygamous Sects of America.]

[Footnote 45: W.E. Gladstone, _The Church of England and Ritualism_.]



Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, after hearing a sermon by Dr.
Howson, Dean of Chester, wrote thus in his diary: "One good bit--that
the emptying Christianity of dogma would perish it, like Charlemagne's
face when exhumed." It was a striking simile, and if well worked out by
a rhetorician, say of Dr. Liddon's type, it might have powerfully
clinched some great argument for the necessary place of dogma in
Christian theology. But the sermon has vanished, and we can only
conjecture from the date of the entry--October 5, 1869--that the good
Dean's ire had been excited by Matthew Arnold's first appearance in the
field of theological controversy. Six years before, indeed, Arnold had
touched that field, when in _The Bishop and the Philosopher_ he quizzed
Colenso, "the arithmetical bishop who couldn't forgive Moses for having
written a Book of Numbers,"[46] about his "jejune and technical manner
of dealing with Biblical controversy." "It is," he wrote, "a result of
no little culture to attain to a clear perception that science and
religion are two wholly different things. The multitude will for ever
confuse them.... Dr. Colenso, in his first volume, did all he could to
strengthen the confusion, and to make it dangerous." "Let us have all
the science there is from the men of science; from the men of religion
let us have religion."

But in that earlier essay he had merely criticised a critic; he had not
originated criticisms of his own. So he had touched the field of
theological controversy, but had not appeared on it as a performer. That
now he so appeared was probably due to the success which attended
_Culture and Anarchy_. The publication of that book had immensely
extended the circle of his audience. Those who care for literature are
few; those who care for politics are many. And, though the politics of
_Culture and Anarchy_ were new and strange, hard to be understood, and
running in all directions off the beaten track, still the professional
politicians, and that class of ordinary citizens which aims at
cultivation and seeks a wider knowledge, took note of _Culture and
Anarchy_ as a book which must be read, and which, though they might not
always understand it, would at least show them which way the wind was
blowing. The present writer perfectly recalls the comfortable figure of
a genial merchant, returned from business to his suburban villa, and
saying: "Well, I shall spend this Saturday afternoon on Mat Arnold's new
book, and I shall not understand one word of it." It had never occurred
to the good man that he was either a Hebraizer or a Hellenizer. He had
always believed that he was a Liberal, a Low Churchman, and a

For Arnold to find that he was in possession of a pulpit--that he had
secured a position from which he could preach his doctrine with a
certainty that it would be heard and pondered, if not accepted--was a
new and an invigorating experience. He at once began to make the most of
his opportunity. While the Press was still teeming with criticisms of
_Culture and Anarchy_, he began to extend his activities from the field
of political and social criticism to that of theological controversy.
The latter experiment seems to have grown spontaneously out of the
former. In _Culture and Anarchy_ he had charged Puritanism with
imagining that in the Bible it had, as its own special possession, a
_unum necessarium_, which made it independent of Sweetness and Light,
and guided it aright without the aid of culture. "The dealings," he
said, "of Puritanism with the writings of St. Paul afford a noteworthy
illustration of this. Nowhere so much as in the writings of St. Paul,
and in that apostle's greatest work, the Epistle to the Romans, has
Puritanism found what seemed to furnish it with the one thing needful,
and to give it canons of truth absolute and final."

This reliance of Puritanism on Holy Scripture, or certain portions of
it, seems to have set him on the endeavour to ascertain how far the
Puritans had really mastered the meaning of the writers on whom they
relied; and more particularly of St. Paul. And this particular direction
seems to have been given to his thoughts by a sentence, then recently
published, of Renan: "After having been for three hundred years, thanks
to Protestantism, the Christian doctor _par excellence_, Paul is now
coming to an end of his reign."

Arnold, as his manner was, fastened on these last words, and made them
the text of his treatise on _St. Paul and Protestantism_, which began to
appear in October, 1869. "_St. Paul is now coming to an end of his
reign._ Precisely the contrary, I venture to think, is the judgment to
which a true criticism of men and of things leads us. The Protestantism
which has so used and abused St. Paul is coming to an end;... but the
real reign of St. Paul is only beginning."

In _Culture and Anarchy_ he had shown how "the over-Hebraizing of
Puritanism, and its want of a wide culture, so narrow its range and
impair its vision that even the documents which it thinks
all-sufficient, and to the study of which it exclusively rivets itself,
it does not rightly understand, but is apt to make of them something
quite different from what they really are. In short, no man, who knows
nothing else, knows even his Bible." And he showed how readers of the
Bible attached to essential words and ideas of the Bible a sense which
was not the writer's. Now, he said, let us go further on the same path,
and, "instead of lightly disparaging the great name of St. Paul, let us
see if the needful thing is not rather to rescue St. Paul and the Bible
from the perversion of them by mistaken men." Although he calls the
treatise in which he addresses himself to this endeavour _St. Paul and
Protestantism_, therein following Renan's phraseology, in the treatise
itself he speaks rather of St. Paul and _Puritanism_; and this he does
because here in England Puritanism is the strong and special
representation of Protestantism. "The Church of England," he says,
"existed before Protestantism and contains much besides Protestantism."
Remove the Protestant schemes of doctrine, which here and there show
themselves in her documents, "and all which is most valuable in the
Church of England would still remain"; whereas those schemes are the
very life and substance of Puritanism and the Puritan bodies. "It is
the positive Protestantism of Puritanism with which we are here
concerned, as distinguished from the negative Protestantism of the
Church of England." Leaving, then, the Church of England on one side, we
fix our gaze on Puritanism, and we see that "the conception of the ways
of God to man which Puritanism has formed for itself" has for its
cardinal points the terms _Election_ and _Justification_. "Puritanism's
very reason for existing depends on the worth of this its vital
conception"; and, when we are told that St. Paul is a Protestant doctor
whose reign is ending, "we in England can best try the assertion by
fixing our eyes on our own Puritans, and comparing their doctrine and
their hold on vital truth with St. Paul's."

Entering upon this endeavour, he divides Puritanism into Calvinism, and
Arminianism or Methodism. The foremost place in Calvinistic theology
belongs to Predestination; in Methodist theology to Justification by
Faith. Calvinism relies most on man's fears; Methodism most on his
hopes. Both Calvinism and Methodism appeal to the Bible, and above all
to St. Paul, for the proof of what they teach. Very well then, says
Arnold, we will enquire what Paul's account of God's proceedings with
man really is, and whether it tallies with the various representations
of the same subject which Puritanism, in its two main divisions, has
given. We will also, he says, follow Puritanism's example and take the
Epistle to the Romans as the chief place for finding what Paul really
thought on the points in question.

He illustrates his argument freely by citations from the other
undoubtedly Pauline epistles, but he characteristically attributes the
Epistle to the Hebrews to Apollos, as being "just such a performance as
might naturally have come from 'an eloquent man and mighty in the
Scriptures,' and in whom the intelligence, and the powers of combining,
type-finding, and expounding somewhat dominated the religious
perceptions." While he thus appeals unreservedly to St. Paul, he is
careful to point out that we must retranslate him for ourselves if we
wish to get rid of the preconceived doctrines of Election and
Justification which the translators have read into him. A strong example
of their method was to be found in the word _atonement_ in Romans v. II,
which has disappeared from our Revised Version, being replaced by
_reconciliation_. The other point to be borne in mind is that Paul wrote
about Religion "in a vivid and figured way"--not with the scientific and
formal method of a theological treatise; and that, being a Jew, "he uses
the Jewish Scriptures in a Jew's arbitrary and uncritical fashion";
quoting them at haphazard and applying them fantastically.

With these cautions duly noted, Arnold goes to the order in which Paul's
ideas naturally stand, and the connexion between one and another. Here
the unlikeness between Paul and Puritanism at once appears. "What sets
the Calvinist in motion seems to be the desire to flee from the wrath to
come; and what sets the Methodist in motion, the desire for eternal
bliss. What is it which sets Paul in motion? It is the impulse which we
have elsewhere noted as the master-impulse of Hebraism--_the desire for
righteousness_." How searching and keen and practical was Paul's idea of
righteousness is shown by his long and frequent lists of moral faults to
be avoided and of virtues to be cultivated. This zeal for righteousness
marks the character of Paul both before and after his conversion. Nay,
it explains his conversion. "Into this spirit, so possessed with the
hunger and thirst for righteousness, and precisely because it was so
possessed by it, the characteristic doctrines of Christ, which brought a
new aliment to feed this hunger and thirst--of Christ, whom he had never
seen, but who was in every one's words and thoughts, the Teacher who was
meek and lowly in heart, who said men were brothers and must love one
another, that the last should often be first, that the exercise of
dominion and lordship had nothing in them desirable, and that we must
become as little children--sank down and worked there even before Paul
ceased to persecute, and had no small part in getting him ready for the
crisis of his conversion." As soon as that conversion was accomplished,
as soon as Paul found himself a teacher and a leader in the new
community, he resumed, with all his old vigour, though in an altered
fashion, his labours for righteousness. In all his teaching he harps
upon the same string. If he leaves the enforcement of the law even for a
moment, it is only to establish it more victoriously. "This man, out of
whom an astounding criticism has deduced Antinomianism, is in truth so
possessed with horror of Antinomianism, that he goes to grace for the
sole purpose of extirpating it, and even then cannot rest without
perpetually telling us why he is gone there."

Righteousness then, as St. Paul conceives it, stands in keeping the law
and so serving God. But to serve God, "to follow that central clue in
our moral being which unites us to the universal order, is no easy
task.... In some way or other, says Bishop Wilson, 'every man is
conscious of an opposition in him between the flesh and the spirit.'" No
one is more keenly conscious of this opposition than St. Paul himself.
How is he to bring the evil and self-seeking tendencies of his
composite nature into conformity with the law and will of God? "Mere
commanding and forbidding is of no avail, and only irritates opposition
in the desires it tries to control.... Neither the law of nature nor the
law of Moses availed to bind men to righteousness. So we come to the
word which is the governing word of the Epistle to the Romans--the word
_all_. As the word _righteousness_ is the governing word of St. Paul's
entire mind and life, so the word _all_ is the governing word of this
his chief epistle. The Gentile with the law of nature, the Jew with the
law of Moses, alike fail to achieve righteousness. '_All_ have sinned,
and come short of the glory of God.' All do what they would not, and do
not what they would; all feel themselves enslaved, impotent, guilty,
miserable. 'O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body
of this death?' Hitherto we have followed Paul in the sphere of morals;
we have now come with him to the point where he enters the sphere of
religion." Paul is profoundly conscious of his own imperfections, of the
tendencies in his nature which war against righteousness; of his
inability, in common with all the human race, to follow perfectly the
law of God. He has now come to know Christ's mind and life. Christ has,
in his own phrase, apprehended him--laid hold on him; and he is
persuaded that Christ so laid hold upon him in order to lead him into
perfect, not partial, righteousness--into entire conformity with the
will of God. In coming to know Christ, he had come to know perfect
righteousness, and he desired to attain to it himself, believing that
Christ had laid hold on him for that very purpose.

And when we come to the vision of that perfect Righteousness, and Paul's
desire to attain to it, we are seasonably reminded of the order in which
his ideas come. "For us, who approach Christianity through a scholastic
theology, it is Christ's divinity which establishes His being without
sin. For Paul, who approached Christianity through his personal
experience, it was Christ's being without sin which established His
divinity. The large and complete conception of righteousness to which he
himself had slowly and late, and only by Christ's help, awakened, in
Christ he seemed to see existing absolutely and naturally. The devotion
to this conception which made it meat and drink to carry it into effect,
a devotion of which he himself was strongly and deeply conscious, he saw
in Christ still stronger, by far, and deeper than in himself. But for
attaining the righteousness of God, for reaching an absolute conformity
with the moral order and with God's will, he saw no such impotence
existing in Christ's case as in his own. For Christ, the uncertain
conflict between the law in our members and the law of the spirit did
not appear to exist. Those eternal vicissitudes of victory and defeat,
which drove Paul to despair, in Christ were absent; smoothly and
inevitably He followed the real and eternal order in preference to the
momentary and apparent order. Obstacles outside there were plenty, but
obstacles within Him there were none. He was led by the spirit of God;
He was dead to sin, He lived to God; and in this life to God He
persevered even to His cruel bodily death on the cross. As many as are
led by the spirit of God, says Paul, are the sons of God. If this is so
with even us, who live to God so feebly and who render such an imperfect
obedience, how much more is He who lives to God entirely and who renders
an unalterable obedience, the unique and only son of God?" This, says
Arnold, is undoubtedly the main line of movement which Paul's ideas
respecting Christ follow; and so far we have no quarrel with our guide.
But he hastily goes on to an assertion which seems arbitrary and
controvertible. He is forced to admit that Paul, who saw perfect
righteousness in Christ and believed in His Divinity because of it, also
identified Him with that Eternal Word or Wisdom of God, which, according
to Jewish theology, had been with God from the beginning, and through
which the world was created. He also has to admit that Paul identified
Christ with the Jewish Messiah who will some day appear to terminate the
actual kingdoms of the world and establish His own. But in both these
cases he treats St. Paul's idea as a kind of afterthought, due to his
training in the scholastic theology of Judaism, and quite subsidiary to
his paramount belief. That belief was that, if we would fulfil the law
of God and live in righteousness, we must learn from the All-Holy Christ
to die as He died to all moral faults, all rebellious instincts, and
live with Him in ever-increasing conformity to His high example of moral

For the power which drew men to admire this sanctity and follow this
example Paul had his own name. "The struggling stream of duty, which had
not volume enough to bear man to his goal, was suddenly reinforced by
the immense tidal wave of sympathy and emotion"; and to this new and
potent influence Paul gave the name of _faith_. So vital is this word to
Paul's religious doctrine that all Pauline theology and controversy has
centred in it and battled round it. "To have faith in Christ means to be
attached to Christ, to embrace Christ, to be identified with
Christ"--but how? Paul answers, "By dying with Him." All his teaching
amounts to this, and it is enough. We must die with Christ to the law
of the flesh, live with Christ to the law of the mind. To live with
Christ after death is to rise with Him. It implies Resurrection. Here
again Arnold is constrained to admit the validity of Catholic
interpretation. He cannot deny that Paul believed absolutely in the
physical, literal, and material fact of Christ's bodily Resurrection.
But he insists that, while accepting this fact, Paul lays far more
stress upon the spiritual interpretation of it. For Paul, death is
living after the flesh; life is mortifying the flesh by the spirit;
"resurrection is the rising, within the sphere of our earthly existence,
from death in this sense to life in this sense."

But, though St. Paul so often uses the word Resurrection in this
spiritual and mystical sense, it cannot be denied that he uses it also,
uses it primarily, in its physical and literal sense. In that sense, it
implies a physical and literal Death of Christ. And on that Death, what
is St. Paul's teaching? Not that it was a substitution, or a
satisfaction, or an appeasement of wrath or an expiation of guilt--but
that in it and by it "Christ parted with what, to men in general, is the
most precious of things--individual self and selfishness; He pleased not
Himself, obeyed the spirit of God, died to sin and to the law in our
members, consummated upon the Cross this death"; in all this seeking to
show His followers that whosoever would cease from sin and follow
Righteousness must be prepared to "suffer in the flesh."

Arnold thus sums up his general contention: "The three essential terms
of Pauline theology are not, therefore, as popular theology makes
them--_calling_, _justification_, _sanctification_; they are rather
these: _dying with Christ, resurrection from the dead, growing into
Christ_." And thus he concludes his controversy with the theologians who
have misinterpreted their favourite Apostle: "It is to Protestantism,
and its Puritan Gospel, that the reproaches thrown on St. Paul, for
sophisticating religion of the heart into theories of the head about
election and justification, rightly attach. St. Paul himself, as we have
seen, begins with seeking righteousness and ends with finding it; from
first to last the practical religious sense never deserts him. If he
could have seen and heard our preachers of predestination and
justification, they are just the people he would have called 'diseased
about questions and word-battlings.' He would have told Puritanism that
every Sunday when in all its countless chapels it reads him and preaches
from him, the veil is upon its heart. The moment it reads him right, a
veil will seem to have been taken away from its heart; it will feel as
though scales were fallen from its eyes.... The doctrine of Paul will
arise out of the tomb where for centuries it has lain covered; it will
edify the Church of the future; it will have the consent of happier
generations, the applause of less superstitious ages. All, all, will be
too little to pay half the debt which the Church of God owes to this
'least of the apostles, who was not fit to be called an apostle, because
he persecuted the Church of God.'"

[Illustration: Pains Hill Cottage, Cobham, from the Lawn]

The articles of which the foregoing pages give the substance were
published in the _Cornhill Magazine_ for October and November, 1869. On
November 13, Arnold wrote with glee that the organs of the Independent
and the Baptist Churches showed that he had "entirely reached the
special Puritan class he meant to reach." "Whether," he said, "I have
rendered St. Paul's ideas with perfect correctness or not, there is no
doubt that the confidence with which these people regarded their
conventional rendering of them was quite baseless, made them narrow and
intolerant, and prevented all progress. I shall have a last paper at
Christmas, called _Puritanism and the Church of England_, to show how
the Church, though holding certain doctrines like justification in
common with Puritanism, has gained by not pinning itself to those
doctrines and nothing else, but by resting on Catholic antiquity,
historic Christianity, development, and so on, which open to it an
escape from all single doctrines as they are outgrown."

That "last paper" appeared in due course, and it stated the position of
the Church of England as the historical and continuous Church in this
land, with an uncompromising directness which would have satisfied
Bishop Stubbs or Professor Freeman. With equal directness, it affirmed
that Protestantism, "with its three notable tenets of predestination,
original sin, and justification, has been pounding away for three
centuries at St. Paul's wrong words, and missing his essential
doctrine." It traced, briefly but very clearly, the history and
development of the Universal Church, justified the Church of England in
separating from Rome on account of Rome's moral corruptions, condemned
the Nonconformists for separating on the mere ground of opinion,
extolled the comprehensiveness and simplicity of Anglican formularies,
and suggested to the Dissenters that, if they would only swallow their
objections to Episcopacy and rejoin the Church of England, they might
greatly strengthen the national organization for promoting Religion. In
doing this they would only obey the natural instinct which bids all
Christians worship together. "_Securus colit orbis terrarum_"--those
pursue the purpose best who pursue it together. For, unless prevented by
extraneous causes, they manifestly tend, as the history of the Church's
growth shows, to pursue it together."

The two papers on _St. Paul and Protestantism_ together with that on
_Puritanism and the Church of England_ were published in 1870 in a
single volume bearing the former title, and to this volume Arnold
prefixed a preface, enforcing his doctrine with some vigorous hits at a
dissenting Member of Parliament called Winterbotham, for glorying in an
attitude of "watchful jealousy"; at Mill for his "almost feminine
vehemence of irritation" against the Church of England, at Fawcett for
his "mere blatancy and truculent hardness." He concluded by re-affirming
his main object in this theological controversy. "To disengage the
religion of England from unscriptural Protestantism, political Dissent,
and a spirit of watchful jealousy, may be an aim not in our day
reachable, and still it is well to level at it."

The book produced a strong and immediate effect. As _Culture and
Anarchy_ first obtained for its author a hearing from politicians and
social reformers, so _St. Paul and Protestantism_ obtained him a hearing
from clergymen, religious teachers, and amateurs of theology. Dr.
Vaughan, then just appointed Master of the Temple, was moved to preach a
sermon,[47] pointing out--what indeed was true enough--that Arnold
omitted from St. Paul's teaching all reference to the Divine Pardon of
Sin, or, as theologians would say, to the Atonement. But on the other
hand, Bishop Fraser seems to have approved. "The question is," wrote
Arnold, "is the view propounded _true_? I believe it is, and that it is
important, because it places our use of the Bible and our employment of
its language on a basis indestructibly solid. The Bishop of Manchester
told me it had been startlingly new to him, but the more he thought of
it, the more he thought it was true."[48]

He himself was delighted with this success. He hoped to exercise a
"healing and reconciling influence" in the troubled times which he saw
ahead; "and it is this which makes me glad to find--what I find more and
more--that I _have_ influence." He delighted in finding that the "May
Meetings" abounded in comments on _St. Paul and Protestantism_. "We
shall see," he exclaims gleefully, "great changes in the Dissenters
before long." "The two things--the position of the Dissenters and the
right reading of St. Paul and the New Testament--are closely connected;
and I am convinced the general line I have taken as to the latter has a
lucidity and inevitableness about it which will make it more and more
prevail." The book soon reached a second edition, and he wrote thus
about it to his friend Charles Kingsley: "I must have the pleasure of
sending you, as soon as it is reprinted, a little book called _St. Paul
and Protestantism_, which the Liberals and physicists thoroughly
dislike, but which I had great pleasure and profit in thinking out and

And now he was fairly embarked, for good or for evil, on his theological
career. He had exalted the Church of England as the historic Church in
this land: he had poured scorn on "hole-and-corner religions" of
separatism; he had advised the Dissenters to submit to Episcopal
government and return to the Church and strengthen its preaching power:
and he had re-stated, in terminology of his own, what he conceived to be
St. Paul's teaching on Religion. This work was completed in 1870, and in
1871 he began to publish instalments of a book which appeared in 1873
under the title _Literature and Dogma_. The scope and purpose of this
book may best be given in his own words. It deals with "the relation of
Letters to Religion: their effect upon dogma, and the consequences of
this to religion." His object is "to reassure those who feel attachment
to Christianity, to the Bible, and who recognize the growing discredit
befalling miracles and the super-natural."

"If the people are to receive a religion of the Bible, we must find for
the Bible some other basis than that which the Churches assign to it, a
verifiable basis and not an assumption. This new religion of the Bible
the people may receive; the version now current of the religion of the
Bible they will not receive."

He sets out on this enterprise by repeating what he had said in _St.
Paul and Protestantism_ about the misunderstandings which had arisen
from affixing to certain phrases such as _grace, new birth_, and
_justification_, a fixed, rigid, and quasi-scientific meaning. "Terms
which with St. Paul are _literary_ terms, theologians have employed as
if they were _scientific_ terms." In saying this he goes no further than
several of his predecessors and contemporaries on the Liberal side in
theology. Even so orthodox a divine as Dr. Vaughan laid it down that
"Nothing in the Church's history has been more fertile in discord and
error than the tendency of theologians to stereotype metaphor."[49]
Bishop Hampden's much-criticised Bampton Lectures had merely aimed at
stating the accepted doctrines in terms other than those derived from
schoolmen and mataphysicians. Dean Stanley's unrivalled powers of
literary exposition were consistently employed in the same endeavour. To
call Abraham a Sheikh was only an ingenious attempt at naturalizing
Genesis. But in _Literature and Dogma_ Arnold applies this method far
more fundamentally. According to him, even "God" is a literary term to
which a scientific sense has been arbitrarily applied. He pronounces,
without waiting to prove, that there is absolutely no foundation in
reason for the idea that God is a "Person, the First Great Cause, the
moral and intelligent Governor of the Universe." We are not to dream
that He is a "Being who thinks and loves"; or that we can love Him or
address our prayers to Him with any chance of being heard. What then,
according to Arnold, is God? and here he answers with his celebrated
definition. God is a "stream of tendency, not ourselves, which makes for
Righteousness," or good conduct. Because this power works eternally and
unchangeably, it is called "The Eternal," which thus becomes a sort of
nickname for God. And as for our relations with God, called by most
people Religion, well--"Religion is morality touched by Emotion." This,
and nothing more.

For the beginnings of religious history, he goes to the House of Israel.
The Israelites, as he was always insisting, had a strong sense for
Righteousness, or Conduct; and they found happiness in pursuing it. The
idea of Righteousness was their God, and the enjoyment of Righteousness
their religion. This simple conception held its own for generations;
but, by the time of the Maccabees, the Israelites had become familiar
with the idea of a resurrection from the dead and a final judgment. "The
phantasmagories of more prodigal and wild imaginations have mingled with
the product of Israel's austere spirit."

"Israel, who originally followed righteousness because he felt that it
tended to life, might and did naturally come at last to follow it
because it would enable him to stand before the Son of Man at His
coming, and to share in the triumph of the Saints of the Most High."
This, says Arnold, was _Extra-belief_, "Aberglaube," belief beyond what
is certain and veritable. "_Extra-belief_ is the poetry of life." The
Messianic ideas were the poetry of life to Israel in the age when Jesus
Christ came. When He came, Israel was looking for a Messiah; and, when
He began to preach, the better conscience of Judaism recognized in His
teaching a new aspect of religion which it had desired. National
Righteousness had been the idea of the older Judaism. Personal
righteousness was the idea of the New Teaching. "Jesus took the
individual Israelite by himself apart, made him listen for the voice of
his conscience, and said to him in effect: 'If every _one_ would mend
_one_, we should have a new world.'" A Teacher so winning, so
acceptable, so in unison with Israel's higher aspirations must surely be
the Messiah whom earlier generations had expected; and so, in virtue of
the purity and nobility of His teaching, Jesus Christ attained His
unique position. He became, in popular acceptance, the Great, the Unique
Man, in some sense the Son of God, Prophet and Teacher of the new and
nobler morality. So there grew up "a personal devotion to Jesus Christ,
who brought the doctrine to His disciples and made a passage for it into
their hearts." And almost immediately after "Aberglaube" regathered; and
devotion to Jesus took the form of an _Extra-belief_ of some future
advent in splendour and terror, the destruction of His enemies, and the
triumphs of His followers. And this process of development, begun while
Christ was still on earth, extended with great rapidity after His death.
"As time went on, and Christianity spread wider and wider among the
multitude, and with less and less of control from the personal influence
of Jesus, Christianity developed more and more its side of miracle and
legend; until to believe Jesus to be the Son of God meant to believe
other points of the legend--His preternatural conception and birth, His
miracles, His bodily resurrection, His ascent into heaven, and His
future triumphant return to judgment. And these and like matters are
what popular religion drew forth from the records of Jesus as the
essentials of belief."

From this account, strangely inadequate indeed, but not positively
offensive, of the origin and development of Christianity, he passes on
to the attempts made by current theology to prove the truth of
Christianity from Prophecy and Miracle. With regard to prophecy, he has
little difficulty in showing that predictions have often miscarried, and
that passages in the Old Testament have been interpreted as relating to
Christ, which probably had no such reference. Thus the first disciples
clearly expected the Second Advent to occur in their own life-time; and
it has not occurred yet. "The Lord said unto my Lord" is better rendered
"The Eternal said unto my lord the King"; and is "a simple promise of
victory to a royal leader." So, in something less than four pages, he
dismisses the proof from Prophecy, and goes on to the proof from
Miracles. "Whether we attack them or whether we defend them, does not
much matter. The human mind, as its experience widens, is turning away
from them. And for this reason: _it sees, as its experience widens, how
they arise_." Our duty, then, if we love Jesus Christ and value the New
Testament, is to make men see that the claim of Christianity to our
allegiance is not based upon Miracles, but rests on quite other grounds,
substantial and indestructible. The good faith of the writers of the New
Testament--the "reporters of Jesus," as Arnold oddly calls them--is
admitted; but, if we are to read their narratives to any profit, we must
convince ourselves of their "liability to mistake." Excited,
impassioned, wonder-loving disciples surrounded the simplest acts and
words of Christ with a thaumaturgical atmosphere, and, when He merely
exercised His power of moral help and healing, the "reporters" declared
that He cured the sick and drove out evil spirits. In brief, when the
"reporters" narrated miracles wrought by Christ, they were deceived;
but, in spite of that, they were excellent men, and our obligations to
them are great. "Reverence for all who, in those first dubious days of
Christianity, chose the better part, and resolutely cast in their lot
with 'the despised and rejected of men'! Gratitude to all who, while the
tradition was yet fresh, helped by their writings to preserve and set
clear the precious record of the words and life of Jesus!"

And yet that record, as they wrote it, is, according to Arnold, brimful
of errors, both in fact and in interpretation; and the Church, which has
preserved their written tradition, and kept it concurrently with her
own oral tradition, has fallen into enormous and fundamental delusion
about those "words" and that "life." "Christianity is immortal; it has
eternal truth, inexhaustible value, a boundless future. But our popular
religion at present conceives the birth, ministry, and death of Christ
as altogether steeped in prodigy, brimful of miracles--and _miracles do
not happen_."

The fact that, in the preface to the popular edition of _Literature and
Dogma_, he italicized those last words would appear to show that he
attached some special, almost "thaumaturgical," value to them. _Miracles
do not happen._ It has been justly observed that any man, woman, or
child that ever lived might have said this, and have caused no startling
sensation. But when Arnold uttered these words, emphasized them, and
seemed to base his case against the Catholic creed upon them, it behoved
his disciples to ponder them, and to enquire if, and how far, they were

As far as we know, there never was but one human being to whom they
proved overwhelming, and he is a character in a popular work of fiction.
"Miracles do not happen" broke the bruised reed of the Rev. Robert
Elsmere's faith. That long-legged weakling, with his auburn hair and
"boyish innocence of mood," and sweet ignorance of the wicked world,
went down, it will be remembered, like a ninepin before the assaults of
a sceptical squire who had studied in Germany. "A great creed, with the
testimony of eighteen centuries at its back, could not find an
articulate word to say in its defence.... What weapons the Rector
wielded for it, what strokes he struck, has not even in a single line
been recorded."[50]

A happily-conceived picture--was it in _Punch_?--represented the Rector
on his knees before the Squire, ejaculating, with clasped hands, "Pray,
pray, don't mention another German author, or I shall be obliged to
resign my living." However, the ruthless Squire persisted; and Elsmere
apparently read _Literature and Dogma_, and, when he came to "Miracles
do not happen" he resigned; threw up his Orders, and founded what Arnold
would have called "a hole-and-corner" religion of his own.

Well, but, it may be urged, Elsmere is after all only a fictitious
character, taken from a novel purporting, as Bishop Creighton said, to
describe a man who once was a Christian and ceased to be one, but really
describing a man who never was a Christian, and eventually found it out.
This, of course, is true, but it must be presumed that the Reverend
Robert is not absolutely the creature of a vivid imagination, but stands
for some real men and women who, in actual life, came under the
author's observation. If that be so, we must admit that Arnold's dogma
about Miracles had a practical effect upon certain minds. An Elsmere of
a different type--a flippant Elsmere, if such a portent could be
conceived--might have answered that, if miracles happened, they would
not be miracles; in other words, that events of frequent occurrence are
not called miracles; and that it belongs to the idea of a miracle that
it is a special and signal suspension of the Divine Law, for a great
purpose and a great occasion. If, again, Robert, eschewing flippancy,
had retired on abstract theory, he might have said that an event so
unique and so transcendent as the assumption of human nature by Eternal
God seems to demand, in the fitness of things, a method of entry into
the material world, and a method of departure from it, wholly and
strikingly dissimilar to the established order--in common parlance,
miraculous. Answers conceived in these two senses--some rough and
popular and declamatory, some learned and argumentative and
scientific--appeared in great numbers. "Grave objections are alleged
against the book.... Its conclusions about the meaning of the term
_God_, and about man's knowledge of God, are severely condemned; strong
objections are taken to our view of the Bible-documents in general, to
our account of the Canon of the Gospels, to our estimate of the Fourth
Gospel." To these criticisms Arnold might have added one yet more
cogent. It was felt by many of his readers, and even by some of his most
attached disciples, that the "sinuous, easy, unpolemical method" which
he vaunted, and which he applied so happily to criticism of books and
life, was not grave enough, or cogent enough, when applied to the
criticism of Religion. From first to last his method was arbitrary.
[Greek: Hantos hepha]--the Master said it. This was excellent when he
criticised literature. To say that a verse of Macaulay's was painful, or
a line of Francis Newman's hideous, was well within his province. To say
that one author wrote in the Grand Style and that another showed the
Note of Provinciality--that also was his right. To pronounce that a
passage from Sophocles was religious poetry of the highest and most
edifying type,[51] whereas the Eternal Power was displeased by "such
doggerel hymns as

    _Sing Glory, Glory, Glory, to the Great God Triune,_"

this again was all very well; for matters of this kind do not admit of
argument and proof. But, when it comes to handling Religion, this
arbitrary method--this innate and unquestioning claim to settle what is
good or bad, true or false--provokes rebellion. No one was more severe
than Arnold on the folly of Puritanism in founding its doctrine of
Justification on isolated texts borrowed from St. Paul; yet no one was
more confident than he that man's whole conception of God could be
safely based on the fact that at a certain period of their history the
Jews took to expressing God by a word which signifies "Eternal."
"Rejoice and give thanks," "Rejoice evermore," are certainly texts of
Holy Writ; but he seems to think that, by merely quoting them, he has
abrogated all the sterner side of the Bible's teaching about human life
and destiny. An even more curious instance of literary self-confidence
may be cited from his treatment of the Lord's commission to the
Apostles. "It is extremely improbable that Jesus should ever have
charged his Apostles to 'baptize all nations in the name of the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Ghost.'" But "He may perfectly well have said:
'Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted; whosesoever sins ye
retain, they are retained.'" The one formula seems to Arnold
anachronistic and unlikely, the other perfectly natural. This is all
very interesting and may be very true; but it is too dogmatic to be
convincing. In such a case one may respectfully cry out that Letters are
overstepping their province; and that one man's sense of fitness,
style, and literary likelihood is not sufficient warrant for
discrediting a well-tested and established document.

[Illustration: Matthew Arnold, 1884

_Photo Elliott & Fry_]

Yet, after all, documents, however well-tested and established, are not
the backbone of the Christian religion. It may well be that to minds
inured from infancy to the worship of the letter; to believers in "the
Bible and the Bible only" as the ground of their religion; Arnold's
solvent methods and free handling of the sacred text were alarming and
revolutionary. But they fell harmless on the minds which had long
schooled themselves in the Christian tradition; which took the Bible
from the Church, not the Church from the Bible; and which realized that
what had sufficed for the life of Christians before the Canon was
contemplated would suffice again, even if every book contained in the
Canon were resolved into mere literature.

Yet again, a criticism brought freely and justly against his biblical
disputations was that in his appeal to Letters and to what he conceived
to be human nature, he overlooked the at least equally important appeal
to History. He seems indeed to have avoided coming to close quarters
with the historical defenders of the Christian Creed. It was easy enough
to poke fun at Archbishop Thomson, Bishop Wilberforce, and Bishop
Ellicott; Mr. Moody, and the Rev. W. Cattle, and the clergymen who
write to the _Guardian_. But Bishop Lightfoot he left severely alone,
with Bishop Westcott and Dr. Sanday and students of the same authority;
and he would probably have justified his neglect of their contentions by
saying, as he had said twenty years before, in his light and airy
fashion, that "it was not possible for a clergyman to treat these
matters satisfactorily."

But, though clergymen are thus put quietly out of court, a layman may
still be heard; and one could almost wish that he had lived to handle,
in some fresh preface to _Literature and Dogma_, such a confession of
faith as that which Lord Salisbury gave in 1894--

"To me, the central point is the Resurrection of Christ, which I
believe. Firstly, because it is testified by men who had every
opportunity of seeing and knowing, and whose veracity was tested by the
most tremendous trials, both of energy and endurance, during long lives.
Secondly, because of the marvellous effect it had upon the world. As a
moral phenomenon, the spread and mastery of Christianity is without a
parallel. I can no more believe that colossal moral effects can be
without a cause, than I can believe that the various motions of the
magnet are without a cause, though I cannot wholly explain them. To any
one who believes the Resurrection of Christ, the rest presents little
difficulty. No one who has that belief will doubt that those who were
commissioned by Him to speak--Paul, Peter, Mark, John--carried a Divine
message. St. Matthew falls into the same category. St. Luke has the
warrant of the generation of Christians who saw and heard the others."

So far the testimony of a layman. Arnold, as we know, loved and elegized
one Dean of Westminster. Would he have tolerated the testimony of

"The Church believes to-day in the Resurrection of Christ, because she
has always believed in it. If all the documents which tell the story of
the first Easter Day should disappear, the Church would still shout her
Easter praises, and offer her Easter sacrifice of thanksgiving; for she
is older than the oldest of her documents, and from father to son all
through the centuries she has passed on the message of the first Easter
morning--'The Lord is risen indeed.' The Church believes in the
Resurrection because she is the product of the Resurrection."[52]

But, in spite of varied criticism, _Literature and Dogma_ was well
received. Three editions were published in 1873; a fourth in 1874; a
fifth in 1876, and the "popular edition" in 1883. As usual, he was
serenely pleased with his handiwork. In 1874 he wrote to his sister: "It
will more and more become evident how entirely religious is the work
which I have done in _Literature and Dogma_. The enemies of religion see
this well enough already." Ten years later, he wrote from Cincinnati:
"What strikes me in America is the number of friends _Literature and
Dogma_ has made me, amongst ministers of religion especially--and how
the effect of the book here is conservative."

To the various criticisms of the book he began replying in the
_Contemporary Review_ for October, 1874. In November of that year he
wrote to Lady de Rothschild: "You must read my metaphysics in this last
_Contemporary_. My first and last appearance in the field of
metaphysics, where you, I know, are no stranger." The completed reply
was published as _God and the Bible_ in 1875. This reply, which
contained, as he thought, "the best prose he had ever succeeded in
writing," was a reassertion and development of the previous work, and
was written, as the preface said, "for a reader who is more or less
conversant with the Bible, who can feel the attraction of the Christian
religion, but who has acquired habits of intellectual seriousness, has
been revolted by having things presented solemnly to him for his use
which will not hold water, and who will start with none of such things
even to reach what he values. Come what may, he will deal with this
great matter of religion fairly. It is the aim of the present volume, as
it was the aim of _Literature and Dogma_, to show to such a man that his
honesty will be rewarded.... I write to convince the lover of religion
that by following habits of intellectual seriousness he need not, so far
as religion is concerned, lose anything."

It was, we must suppose, with the same benign intention that in 1877 he
addressed himself to the task of persuading the Edinburgh Philosophical
Institution that Bishop Butler was an untrustworthy guide in that
mysterious region which lies between Philosophy and Religion. For this
task, as Mr. Gladstone justly observed: he "was placed, by his own
peculiar opinions, in a position far from auspicious with respect to
this particular undertaking. He combined a fervent zeal for the
Christian religion with a not less boldly avowed determination to
transform it beyond the possibility of recognition by friend or foe. He
was thus placed under a sort of necessity to condemn the handiwork of
Bishop Butler, who in a certain sense gives it a new charter." Over
Butler's grave stands a magnificent inscription, from the pen of
Southey, which well illustrates the estimation in which for upwards of
a century he was held by the serious mind of England--

        Others had established
the Historical and Prophetical grounds
     of the Christian Religion,
 and that sure testimony of its truth
which is found in its perfect adaptation
        to the heart of man.
 It was reserved for him to develop
     its analogy to the Constitution
        and Course of Nature;
 and, laying his strong foundations
in the depth of that great argument,
         there to construct
  another and irrefragable proof:
     thus rendering Philosophy
        subservient to Faith,
and finding in outward and visible things
       the type and evidence
      of those within the veil.

In his lectures on Butler, Arnold set out to prove that the Philosophy
was as unsound as the Faith to which it was subservient; and that it
could not hold its own against Atheism or Agnosticism, but only against
a system which conceded a Personal Governor of the Universe. This is the
argument against the Deists which he puts into Butler's mouth: "You all
concede a Supreme Personal First Cause, the almighty and intelligent
Governor of the Universe; this, you and I both agree, is the system and
order of nature. But you are offended at certain things in
revelation.... Well, I will show you that in your and my admitted system
of nature there are just as many difficulties as in the system of
revelation." And on this, says Arnold, he does show it, "and by
adversaries such as his, who grant what the Deist or Socinian grants, he
never has been answered, he never will be answered. The spear of
Butler's reasoning will even follow and transfix the Duke of
Somerset,[53] who finds so much to condemn in the Bible, but 'retires
into one unassailable fortress--faith in God.'"[54] Butler's method,
then, is allowed to be potent enough to crush all such half-believers as
still clung to the idea of a Personal God and Intelligent Ruler; but it
had no force or cogency against such as, following Arnold, attenuated
the idea of God into a Stream of Tendency. This theme he elaborated with
great ingenuity and characteristic dogmatism in his _Bishop Butler and
the Zeitgeist_; and, inasmuch as no task can be more distasteful than to
attack the teaching of a man whose genius and character one recognizes
among the formative influences of one's life, I will leave the upshot
of this ill-starred endeavour to be summarized by Butler's great
champion, Mr. Gladstone--

"Various objections have been taken from various quarters to this point
and that in the argument of Butler; but Mr. Arnold's criticisms, as a
whole, remain wholly isolated and unsupported. It is impossible to
acquit him of the charge of a carelessness implying levity, and of an
ungovernable bias towards finding fault.... Mr. Arnold himself will
probably suffer more from his own censures than the great Christian
philosopher who is the object of them. And it is well for him that all
they can do is to effect some deduction from the fame which has been
earned by him in other fields, as a true man, a searching and sagacious
literary critic, and a poet of genuine creative genius."[55]

It is now time to enquire what practical effect he produced by all this
writing (and a good deal which followed it in the same sense) on the
religious thought of his time. This is a question which, in the absence
of any clear or general testimony, one can only answer by the light of
one's own experience. The present writer can aver that, so far as his
own personal knowledge goes, the strange case of Robert Elsmere was a
unique instance. He has, of course, known plenty of people to whom,
alas! revealed Religion--the accepted Faith of the Church and the
Gospel--was a tale of no meaning, which they regarded either with blank
indifference or with bitter and furious hostility. But, in all these
cases, dissent from the Christian creed depended upon negations far
deeper than "Miracles do not happen." It depended on a stark incapacity
to conceive the ideas of God, of permitted evil, of sin, its
consequences and its remedy, and of life after death. Where there was
the capacity to conceive these mysteries, men were not troubled by the
minor questions of miracle, prophecy, and textual research. To use an
illustration which the present writer has used elsewhere, they were not
shaken by _Robert Elsmere_, not confirmed by _Lux Mundi_. Still less
were they agitated by the literary dogmaticism of Matthew Arnold. Many
people disliked his style, his methods, his illustrations; and, not
knowing the man, disliked him also. But, as he justly observed, if he
had written as these objectors wished him to write, no one would have
read him; so he went on in his "sinuous, easy, unpolemical" way; and the
people who disliked him closed their ears, and "flocked all the more
eagerly to Messrs. Moody and Sankey."

Mr. Gladstone wrote in 1895--"It is very difficult to keep one's temper
in dealing with M. Arnold when he touches on religious matters. His
patronage of a Christianity fashioned by himself is to me more offensive
and trying than rank unbelief."

But then again there were those--and we should hope the great
majority--who, whether they knew the man or not, loved his temper,
admired his methods, and found no more difficulty in detaching what was
good from what was bad in his teaching, than he himself found in the
case of his master, Wordsworth. A Catholic priest, ministering formerly
in the Roman and now in the English Church, thus describes the help
which he gained from Arnold at a time of distress and transition. "That
I held to any sort of Christianity, and continued to use and enjoy the
Bible, I owe entirely to Matthew Arnold. I began to read him in 1882;
first his prose, and then his verse. For several years I read him over,
and over, and over again with growing delight and profit; until, so far
as I was able, I understood something of his mind and methods. He taught
me how to think, and how to write. He undoubtedly saved me from leaving
the Papal Church a dulled and blank materialist, thoroughly and
violently anti-Christian; and his gentle influence tended me through
the next few years, until I was mellowed for the process of

This is a fine tribute to all that was best and most characteristic in
his teaching. Beyond doubt, by his insistence on the relation of Letters
to Religion, he helped many young men to read their Bibles with better
understanding and keener appreciation; and enabled them that are without
to enter for the first time into the spirit and attractiveness of the
Christian ideal. Not only so, but men established in age, position, and
orthodoxy, felt and acknowledged his helpfulness. When he delivered an
address on "The Church of England" to a gathering of clergy at Sion
College, he tells us that "Clergyman on clergyman turned on the
Chairman" (who had scented heresy), "and said they agreed with me far
more than with him." A divine so profoundly Evangelical as Bishop
Thorold larded his sermons and charges with extracts from Arnold's prose
and verse. In 1893 Arnold dined with Archbishop Benson, and "thought it
a gratifying marvel, considering what things I have published"; but the
marvel was of such frequent occurrence that it had almost ceased to be
marvellous. That this was so was due, no doubt, in great measure to the
charm of his character and conversation. It was not easy for any one
who knew him to take serious offence at what he wrote. Just as
Coleridge's metaphysics were said by a friend to be "only his fun," so
Arnold's theology was regarded by his admirers as part of his
playfulness. It was difficult to disentangle what he really wished to
teach from his jokes about the hangings of the Celestial
Council-Chamber; "Willesden beyond Trent"; "Change Alley and Alley
Change"; Professor Birks, "his brows crowned with myrtle," going in
procession to the Temple of Aphrodite; the Duke of Somerset "running
into the strong tower" of Deism, and thinking himself "safe" there from
further questionings. This method of illustration threw an air of comedy
over the theme which it illustrated; and, if the criticism failed to
disturb faith in Biblical theology, the critic had only himself to

Another element in the satisfaction with which dignitaries and clergymen
came to regard him was the fact that he was so definitely a supporter of
the Church of England. To the principle of Established Churches, as part
of the wider principle of extending everywhere the scope of the State,
he was always friendly; but he felt the difficulty of maintaining them
where, as in Scotland, they had nothing to show except "a religious
service which is perhaps the most dismal performance ever invented by
man," and a theology shared by all the non-established bodies round
about. No such difficulty appeared in the case of the Church of England,
with its historic claim, its seemly worship, its distinctive doctrine;
so of that Church as by law established he was the consistent defender.
Towards ugliness, hideousness, rawness, whether manifested in life or in
letters, he was always implacable; and this sentiment no doubt accounts
for much of his hostility to Dissent. Margate was, in his eyes, a
"brick-and-mortar image of English Protestantism, representing it in all
its prose, all its uncomeliness--let me add, all its salubrity." When
criticising the proposal to let Dissenters bury their dead with their
own rites in the National Church-yards, he likened the dissenting
Service to a reading from Eliza Cook, and the Church's Service to a
reading from Milton, and protested against the Liberal attempt to
"import Eliza Cook into a public rite." He even was bold enough to cite
his friend Mr. John Morley as secretly sharing this repugnance to Eliza
Cook in a public rite. "_Scio, rex Agrippa, quia credis._ He is keeping
company with his Festus Chamberlain and his Drusilla Collings, and
cannot openly avow the truth; but in his heart he consents to it."

For the beauty, the poetry, the winningness of Catholic worship and
Catholic life Arnold had the keenest admiration. "The need for beauty is
a real and ever rapidly growing need in man; Puritanism cannot satisfy
it, Catholicism and the Church of England can." He dwelt with delighted
interest on Eugénie de Guerin's devotional practices, her happy
Christmas in the soft air of Languedoc, her midnight Mass, her beloved
Confession. On the Mass itself no one has written more sympathetically,
although he disavowed the fundamental doctrine on which the Mass is
founded. "Once admit the miracle of the 'atoning sacrifice,' once move
in this order of ideas, and what can be more natural and beautiful than
to imagine this miracle every day repeated, Christ offered in thousands
of places, everywhere the believer enabled to enact the work of
redemption and unite himself with the Body whose sacrifice saves him?"

In truth he had a strong sense, uncommon in Protestants, of Worship as
distinct from Prayer--of Worship as the special object of a religious
assembly. When he gave a Prayer-book to a child, he wrote on the
flyleaf: "We have seen His star in the East, and are come to worship
Him." "In religion," he said, "there are two parts: the part of thought
and speculation, and the part of worship and devotion.... It does not
help me to think a thing more clearly, that thousands of other people
are thinking the same; but it does help me to worship with more
devotion, that thousands of other people are worshipping with me. The
connexion of common consent, antiquity, public establishment, long-used
rites, national edifices, is everything for religious worship." He
quotes with admiration his favourite Joubert: "Just what makes worship
impressive is its publicity, its external manifestation, its sound, its
splendour, its observance, universally and visibly holding its sway
through all the details both of our outward and of our inward life."

"Worship," he says, "should have in it as little as possible of what
divides us, and should be as much as possible a common and public act."

Again he quotes Joubert: "The best prayers are those which have nothing
distinct about them, and which are thus of the nature of simple

"Catholic worship," he said, "is likely, however modified, to survive as
the general worship of Christians, because it is the worship which, in a
sphere where poetry is permissible and natural, unites most of the
elements of poetry." And again, "Unity and continuity in public
religious worship are a need of human nature, an eternal aspiration of
Christendom. A Catholic Church transformed is, I believe, the Church of
the future."

His speculations on that future are interesting and, naturally, not
always consistent. In 1879 he writes to Sir Mountstuart Grant-Duff:
"Perhaps we shall end our days in the tail of a return-current of
popular religion, both ritual and dogmatic." In 1880 he sees a great
future for Catholicism, which, by virtue of its superior charm and
poetry, will "endure while all the Protestant sects (amongst which I do
not include the Church of England) dissolve and perish." In 1881 he
seemed to apprehend the return to Westminster Abbey, after "Wisdom's too
short reign," of--

    Folly revived, re-furbish'd sophistries,
    And pullulating rites externe and vain.

In the last autumn of his life he wrote to M. Fontanès--a friend whose
acquaintance he first made over _St. Paul and Protestantism_--

"Your letter has reached me here (Ottery St. Mary), where I am staying
with Lord Coleridge, the Lord Chief Justice, who is a grand-nephew of
the poet. He loves literature, and, being a great deal richer than his
grand-uncle, or than poets in general, has built a library from which I
now write, and on which I wish that you could feast your eyes with
me.... The Church Congress has just been held, and shows as usual
that the clergy have no idea of the real situation; but indeed the
conservatism and routine in religion are such in England that the line
taken by the clergy cannot be wondered at. Nor are the conservatism and
routine a bad thing, perhaps, in such a matter; but the awakening will
one day come, and there will be much confusion. Have you looked at
Tolstoi's books on religion: in French they have the titles _Ma
Religion, Ma Confession, Que Faire?_ The first of these has been well
translated, and has excited much attention over here; perhaps it is from
this side, the socialist side that the change is likely to come: the
Bible will be retained, but it will be said, as Tolstoi says, that its
true, socialistic teaching has been overlooked, and attention has been
fixed on metaphysical dogmas deduced from it, which are at any rate,
says Tolstoi, secondary. He does not provoke discussion by denying or
combating them; he merely relegates them to a secondary position.

[Illustration: The Grave in Laleham Churchyard

Where Matthew Arnold, his wife, and three sons are buried

_Photo Ralph Lane_]

And now that we have enquired into Arnold's influence on theology, it
is, perhaps, proper to ask what he himself believed. His faith seems to
have been, by a curious paradox, far stronger on the Christian than on
the Theistic side. "A Stream of Tendency" can never satisfy the idea of
God, as ordinary humanity conceives it. It is not in human nature to
love a stream of tendency, or worship it, or ask boons of it; or to
credit it with powers of design, volition, or creation. A prayer
beginning "Stream" would sound as odd as Wordsworth's ode beginning

But he had, as we have already seen, an unending admiration--a homage
which did not stop far short of worship--for the character and teaching
of Jesus Christ; and he placed salvation in conformity to that teaching,
as it is explained by St. Paul. And this meant death to sin; the
abrogation and annulment of bad habits and tendencies; resurrection with
Christ to the higher life which He taught us to pursue. _The law was
given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ._ He would have
allowed no antithesis between the two halves of the text, but would have
taught that the eternal welfare of man consisted in obeying the Law,
receiving the Grace, and pursuing the Truth.

Nothing more dogmatic than this could safely be put forward as
representing his theology; but, though not dogmatic, his mind was
intensely ecclesiastical. His contempt for individual whims and fancies,
his love of corporate action and collective control, operated as
powerfully in the religious as in the social sphere. He admired and
clave to the Church of England because it was not, like Miss Cobbe's new
religion and the British College of Health, the product of an individual
fancy, setting out to make all things new on a plan of its own. The
Church of England, whether it could theologically be called "Catholic"
or not, was certainly "the continuous and historical Church of this
country." In 1869 he praised his friend Temple, afterwards Archbishop,
for "showing his strong Church feeling, and sense of the value and
greatness of the historic development of Christianity, of which the
Church is the expression." It was the National organ for promoting
Righteousness and Perfection by means of Culture and for diffusing
Sweetness and Light. In the last year of his life he wrote to Mr. Lionel
Tollemache: "I consider myself, to adopt your very good expression, a
Liberal Anglican; and I think the times are in favour of our being
allowed so to call ourselves."

As regards differences of opinion inside the Church, he saw no harm in
them. He held that the Church must maintain Episcopacy as a matter of
historical development, and as "its link with the past--its share in the
beauty and the poetry and the charm for the imagination," which belong
to Catholicism. This being so, the "latitudinarianism of the Broad
Churchmen" who wished to entice the Dissenters into the Church was
"quite illusory" so long as opposition to Episcopacy was one of the main
tenets of Nonconformity. But he thought that the Church was likely
before long to get rid of the Athanasian Creed and the Thirty-nine
Articles; and he urged that, as no one could enforce belief in such
doctrines as the Real Presence, Apostolic Succession, and Priestly
Absolution, Churchmen who rejected these could quite comfortably remain
in the Church, side by side with others who accepted them.

The Church, then, as historically descended and legally established,
ought to be maintained, honoured, and frequented; and, so far, his
practice accorded with his belief. He had indeed no more sympathy with
hysterical devotions than with fanatical faiths. He saw with amused eye
the gestures and behaviour of the "Energumens" during the celebration of
Holy Communion in a Ritualistic church--"the floor of the church strewn
with what seem to be the dying and the dead, progress to the altar
almost barred by forms suddenly dropping as if they were shot in battle,
the delighted adoption of vehement rites, till yesterday unknown,
adopted and practised now with all that absence of tact, measure, and
correct perception in things of form and manner, all that slowness to
see when they are making themselves ridiculous, which belongs to the
people of our English race."

This was a perfectly just criticism on the nascent ritualism of thirty
years ago. Time and study have pruned this devotional exuberance, but he
rightly described what he saw. With such performances he had no
sympathy; but he loved what he had been accustomed to--the grave and
reverend method of worship which was traditional in our cathedrals and
college chapels. He communicated by preference at an early service. He
revelled in the architecture of our great churches, and enjoyed, though
he did not understand, their fine music. And he added one or two little
mannerisms of his own, which were clearly intended to mark his love of
ecclesiastical proprieties. Thus the present writer remembers that he
used, with great solemnity and deliberation, to turn to the east at the
Creed in Harrow School Chapel, where the clergy neglected to do so. It
was the traditional mode of the Church of England, and that was enough
for him. Again, we all know that he described the Athanasian Creed as
"Learned science with a strong dash of temper"; yet I remember him
saying, with an air of stately admiration, after Service on Ascension
Day, "I always like to hear the Athanasian Creed sung. BUT ONE
GOD sounds so magnificently, with that full swell of the organ. It
seems to come with the whole authority of the Church."

Then again the list of his favourite writers on religious subjects shows
exactly the same taste and temper as was shown by his devotional
practices--St. Augustine, that "glorious father of the Catholic Church";
"the nameless author of the _Imitatio_"; Bishop Thomas Wilson, whose
_Maxims_ and _Sacra_ he so constantly quoted; Isaac Barrow, whose
sermons he used to read to his family on Sunday evenings; Cardinal
Newman, to whom he had listened so delightedly in undergraduate

To pass from an account of a man's religious sentiment to that of his
daily life would in too many cases be an abrupt and even a painful
transition; but in the case of Arnold, it is the easiest and most
natural in the world. That which he professed he practised, and, as he
taught, so he lived. From first to last he was true to his own doctrine
that we must cultivate our best self in every department of our being,
and be content with nothing less than our predestined perfection. In his
character and life, "whatsoever things are lovely" were harmoniously

Before all else he was a worshipper of nature, watching all her
changing aspects with a lover-like assiduity, and never happy in a
long-continued separation from her. Then his manifold culture and fine
taste enabled him to appreciate at its proper value all that is good in
high civilization, and yet the unspoilt naturalness of his character
found a zest in the most commonplace pleasures of daily existence.
Probably Art, whether in music or painting, affected him less than most
men of equal cultivation; but there never lived a human being to whom
Literature and Society--books and people--taking each word in its most
comprehensive sense, yielded a livelier or more constant joy. "Never,"
as Mr. John Morley said, "shall we know again so blithe and friendly a
spirit." As we think of him, the endearing traits come crowding on the
memory--his gracious presence, his joy in fresh air and bodily exercise,
his merry interest in his friends' concerns, his love of children, his
kindness to animals, his absolute freedom from bitterness, rancour, or
envy; his unstinted admiration of beauty, or cleverness, his frank
enjoyment of light and colour, of a happy phrase, an apt quotation, a
pretty room, a well-arranged dinner, a fine vintage; his childlike
pleasure in his own performances--"Did I say that? How good that was!"

But all these trifling touches of character-painting, perhaps, tend to
overlay and obscure the true portraiture of Matthew Arnold. He was
pre-eminently a good man, gentle, generous, enduring, laborious, a
devoted husband, a most tender father, an unfailing friend. Qualified by
nature and training for the highest honours and successes which the
world can give, he spent his life in a long round of unremunerative
drudgery, working even beyond the limits of his strength for those whom
he loved, and never by word or gesture betraying even a consciousness of
that harsh indifference to his gifts and services which stirred the
fruitless indignation of his friends. His theology, once the subject of
such animated criticism, seems now a matter of little moment; for,
indeed, his nature was essentially religious. He was loyal to truth as
he knew it, loved the light and sought it earnestly, and by his daily
and hourly practice gave sweet and winning illustration of his own
doctrine that conduct is three-fourths of human life.

We who were happy enough to fall under his personal influence can never
overstate what we owe to his genius and his sympathy. He showed us the
highest ideal of character and conduct. He taught us the science of good
citizenship. He so interpreted nature that we knew her as we had never
known her before. He was our fascinating and unfailing guide in the
tangled paradise of literature. And, while for all this we bless his
memory, we claim for him the praise of having enlarged the boundaries of
the Christian Kingdom by making the lives of men sweeter, brighter, and
more humane.

[Footnote 46: A saying attributed to Bishop Wilberforce.]

[Footnote 47: See the Introduction to his _Romans_, 3rd edition, 1870.]

[Footnote 48: See the Introduction to his _Romans_, 3rd edition, 1870.]

[Footnote 49: University and other Sermons, p. 175.]

[Footnote 50: W.E. Gladstone: _Later Gleanings_.]

[Footnote 51: _Essays in Criticism_. "Pagan and Mediæval Religious

[Footnote 52: J. Armitage Robinson, D.D., Easter Day, 1903.]

[Footnote 53: Edward, 12th Duke of Somerset (1804-1885). Author of
_Christian Theology and Modern Scepticism_.]

[Footnote 54: _Literature and Dogma_.]

[Footnote 55: _Studies Subsidiary to the Works of Bishop Butler_, pt. i.
ch. iii.]

[Footnote 56: _Rome and Romanizing_. By Arthur Galton.]

[Footnote 57: "Spade! with which Wilkinson hath tilled his lands," etc.]

[Footnote 58: See p. 61.]



       *       *       *       *       *

Matthew Arnold


       *       *       *       *       *

_Extract from Preface:_

"It was Arnold's express wish that he should not be made the subject of
a Biography. This rendered it impossible to produce the sort of book by
which an eminent man is usually commemorated--at once a history of his
life, an estimate of his work, and an analysis of his character and
opinions. But, though a biography was forbidden, Arnold's family felt
sure he would not have objected to the publication of a selection from
his correspondence; and it became my happy task to collect, and in some
sense to edit, the two volumes of his letters which were published in
1895. The letters, with all their editorial shortcomings (of which I
willingly take my full share), constitute the nearest approach to a
narrative of Arnold's life which can, consistently with his wishes, be
given to the world; and the ground so covered will not be retraversed
here. All that literary criticism can do for the honor of his prose and
verse has been done already, conscientiously by Mr. Saintsbury,
affectionately and sympathetically by Mr. Paul, and with varying
competence and skill by a host of minor critics. But in preparing this
book I have been careful not to re-read what more accomplished pens than
mine have written, for I wished my judgment to be unbiased by previous

"I do not aim at a criticism of the verbal medium through which a great
master uttered his heart and mind, but rather at a survey of the effect
which he produced on the thought and action of his age."

       *       *       *       *       *

_With photogravure frontispiece and 16 illustrations_

$1.00 net (postage, 10 cents)

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

Cardinal Newman


_Author of "The New Antigone," etc._

With photogravure frontispiece and 16 full-page illustrations, $1.00 net
(postage, 10 cents)

       *       *       *       *       *


   I. Early Years.
  II. The Tractarians.
 III. First Catholic Period.
  IV. Apologia pro Vita Sua.
   V. The Logic of Belief.
  VI. Dream of Gerontius.
 VII. The Man of Letters.
VIII. Newman's Place in History.

       *       *       *       *       *


"In one thing Newman far surpassed Wesley: he was a man of letters equal
to the greatest writers of prose his native country had brought forth.
The Catholic Reaction of the Nineteenth Century claims its place in
literature, thanks to this incomparable talent, side by side with the
German mysticism of Carlyle, the devout liberalism of Tennyson, the
lyric Utopias of Shelley, and the robust optimism of Browning. Newman is
an English classic."

       *       *       *       *       *

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